As the sixteen year-old Maito Gai made his way home, he noticed that he was being followed by a rather battered looking dark-haired child. From the looks of things, the rather frantic boy who was trailing after him had taken a severe beating, and not as part of a training regime either. If there was one thing he didn't like, it was child abusers. Youth was supposed to be a time of joyous exploration.
Why the child was following him however, he didn't know. Turning in the direction of the ANBU headquarters where he knew there were a few ninja who would be happy to work over the bastard who had left the poor child in that condition, and a few others who had the necessary training to get the boy to talk no matter how reluctant he was, he took a slightly longer route home. As he passed the unmarked building that served as the actual main headquarters for the Hokage's Black-Ops forces, he signaled he had a problem case and a couple of animal masked ninja dropped off the roof and snatched up the child who would soon have a new home and a new identity before long.
His good deed for the day done, he turned back to his small apartment where he would fold his laundry and put it away before having a quick lunch and heading out for his Early Afternoon training. On his way to his apartment which was pretty much firmly located in the middle of Shinobi Territory since few civilians had settled in the area and the apartment buildings had been mostly given over to single shinobi, he ran into his Eternal Rival.
"Greetings my Eternal Rival, I..." he said, greeting the Hatake and preparing to issue a challenge.
"There's something in your basket." Kakashi said, cutting him off.
"There is?" he asked, kicking the basket off his feet and into the air, flipping upright, and smoothly catching it in his hands in order to examine its interior.
Inside the basket, he found a tuft of blond hair sticking out from underneath one of his green spandex unitards. Lifting a sleeve, he found the whisker-marked face of a sleeping toddler who hadn't been in the least bit disturbed by his ride. Looking at his Eternal Rival, he could see a pained look in what little of the other teen's face was visible. He could understand why that was, considering the fact that what the small child who was peacefully slumbering in his laundry which would need to be cleaned once more contained had been responsible for the demise of the man who had cared for him after his father had died.
"I-I'll take him to his caretakers for you my friend." he said, before wracking his brains for somwthing that would distract the man from his dark sorrow. "After that, we can have a most youthful challenge since you are currently ahead of me Twelve to Ten."
"You do that." Kakashi said distractedly, his mind clearly not in the here and now.
As Gai headed to where he knew the Uzumaki lived, having pulled baby-sitting duty while he was recovering from an injury before, Itachi was sitting in the ANBU headquarters refusing the food that had been offered while a medic looked him over.
"Poor kid. Knew there was a reason he was so eager to pass through the Academy so quickly." a man in a cat mask that had been painted in a leapord print pattern said to a man in a mask that loosely resembled the face of a bat.
"Where did you get this?" the Medic asked Itachi who was desperate to leave and pick up Naruto's trail once more as he tended to a large scratch on his upper arm.
"That's from the tiger."Itachi replied as he once again tried to jump up and get out of there before Naruto got too far away and he was forced to track him down once more.
"And this?" the medic asked as he tended to a small cut on the boy's forehead that had bled profusely as head wounds were wont to do.
"That was from the drunk." he replied as he struggled to escape.
"Does your father get drunk often?" the medic asked, knowing that the boy wouldn't give him an honest reply, but how he replied would be most telling.
"No." Itachi replied. "And no, my parents don't abuse me. Aside from the fact that it would be a waste of clan resources and ruin a rather large investment of time and money, they both care for me and Sasuke, mother more than father. I can understand why it would currently appear that this isn't the case at the moment, but I've been having a worse than normal day today, and have gotten into a number of altercations with wild animals. I appreciate your concern, but would rather you saved it for someone who actually needs it and has the time to fully enjoy it."
Both the ANBU and the medic exchanged glances over Itachi's small head. There was clearly something wrong with the kid, but it apparently didn't fit into their purview. As the kid had pointed out, the Uchiha were too tight-fisted to damage anything they had spent good money on if they could help it, and were known to go hunting down thrown kunai in a warzone. What the hell the kid was doing tangling with wild animals, they didn't know, and frankly they didn't want to know.
Out in one of the parks, a team of heavily padded Parks and Rec Shinobi stared down at a sleeping tiger that was surrounded by the flock of hell geese and completely ignoring this fact when most creatures with half a brain would be getting the hell out of there in bemusement. Usually, the seals that had been put up years before would keep the tigers inside Training Ground 44 where they belonged, seeing as the training ground doubled as a nature preserve due to its rather infrequent use by shinobi who preferred to train somewhere where there weren't giant leeches that were liable to drop out of the trees at you.
Out in the Shinobi district, Naruto had woken up to find himself in the Loud Green Man's arms and did the only thing he could think of to get away from the creature that had terrorized him for an entire afternoon a while back. He screamed and started biting everything in reach...