The Caretaker

Naruto Uzumaki was four, when someone settled in the apartment right next to him. That obvious and quiet attempt of stuff translocation was bizarre. Usually people left the apartment complex, not came to live in it. He didn't know why, but he was pretty sure someone would soon explain said strange event.

True to his thoughts, his Jiji, the Sandaime Hokage, came right up to him the following day. The old man was followed by what seemed like a teenager, with dark brown hair cut short and a pair of hazel eyes. He was wearing a light blue jacket and a pair of long blue jeans. He clearly wasn't a shinobi, nor did he seem to hold a look so familiar on other people. If anything, he was actually trying to make a smile.

"Naruto-kun," the Hokage spoke with a small smile, "we need to talk for a while. Is that fine with you?"

The boy nodded, his blue eyes turning quickly as he spun his body for the table, and a chair. The old man might need to sit down after all: he was old!

"Hey Jiji, who's the man!? You said I could live alone now!" There was a slight frown now, on Naruto's face, which quickly went away when the teenager chuckled, replaced by puzzlement. Usually people would yell at him for being familiar with the Hokage, not chuckle.

"Naruto-kun, you must realize I can't simply leave you alone…there are a lot of things you might not be able to do…like going shopping, or paying bills, or handling money." The boy made a strange frowning face once more, not understanding half of it.

"Cinema requires an adult or someone of age twelve and above for a four year old to enter," the teenager suggested, "and you can't cook, I suppose…right?"

"Even then, Jiji! You promised!" At that, the Hokage raised his hands, before replying.

"And I don't go back on my words. He will not live with you, but next to you. If you need help, he'll be there for you. If you're hurt, and in the hospital," there was a 'tsk'. The problem was that it came from the teenager and the kid at the same time, making the Hokage wince slightly.

"As I was saying, if you end up in trouble," twin snickers, once more the Hokage was trying to come to terms with what was happening, "there will be someone there for you... alright?"

"Whatever," Naruto deadpanned. It wasn't like he was forced to follow his words, right? And if the man sucked, he could always whine to Jiji about having him move out. Not that he actually would go that far though…he didn't want to cause trouble, but still…

"You've not told me his name yet!"

"Well, I'll let him do the presentations." The Sandaime moved to the window, to light his own pipe. He was starting to get old, and after what he had heard…he just kind of wondered when he'd get the chance to rest.

"My name is Slive," the teenager said, making a mock bowing motion, "And I'm your caretaker starting today. I hope we'll get along well."

Naruto eyed him warily. There wasn't the fake smile of the cruel kids or some of the adults, and there wasn't the disgust. It was just the normal tension of hoping to make a good impression coupled with…concern?

At least, Naruto thought it was concern. Just because he was smarter than most kids, it didn't mean he knew all the words!

"Only that? Slive? No surname or things like that?"

"Things like that?" The boy raised an eyebrow, "There's something other than a surname?"

"A…dunno, clan name stuff? A title? Like Jiji! He's the 'Kami of Shinobi'!"

"Ah…I got it!" Slive nodded, "Well, I do have a couple…"

"A couple? Like two right? The number after one! Jiji has two too you know? Two too…tw…" as the assonance of the words made Naruto start mulling his tongue over it, Hiruzen merely eyed with a puzzled expression the boy. That was going well for the moment.

"Yes."

"And what are they? Are they better than Jiji's 'professor' or are they dumb?"

Slive chuckled, and shook his head. He hadn't actually moved from the spot in the entrance of the kitchen, and because of that, he was closer to the exit. The door had been closed, but the keen hearing of the Sandaime had already picked up slight scratching noises, the type made by those who etch stuff on wooden walls.

A sharp shriek, a set of loud wails, and then silence entombed the premises.

"What was that?" Naruto queried, his eyes opening in shock. Was that a ghost?

"Oh…nothing," Slive merely shook his head, mumbling, "Trespassers."

Hiruzen narrowed his eyes, before taking a deep puff and then sighing.

"Taken care of?"

"Of course."

"Hey! What happened!? More details guys!" The kid whined, only to have something that resembled a pot shoved in his arms.

"Meat stew," the two words came straight out of Slive's mouth, the problem was that the pot had appeared from nowhere. Just where did the man keep that thing?

"Ehm…aren't you going a bit fast?" Hiruzen's question hung in the air, as Naruto dashed straight for the plates and to turn on the fire to warm the food. Screaming all the way with joy about having stew…meat stew.

The only reply was a chuckle, and obviously the Sandaime groaned. Why did he keep having doubts? On the plus side, now Naruto was safe: safer than ever truly, if the boy or man was to be believed.

"Jiji, are you staying for lunch!?" Naruto was practically begging the old man using his famed giant eyes of puppy cuteness. Hiruzen closed his eyes. He had paperwork, mountains of paperwork to do and he…

"Kage Bunshins," the two words came from Slive, who rolled his eyes, "Just use a Kage Bunshin."

"That…Oh Kami…that's right!"

The next moment, a Hiruzen stood in his casual clothes, while another was wearing his Kage robes and heading out, grumbling something about meat stew and 'it better be worth it'.

As they all sat down to eat once the stew was cooked, courtesy of the teenager's keen eye and decision to take it upon himself to finish stewing the meat, Naruto closed his eyes.

Well, maybe he could trust the 'caretaker'. He had helped Jiji, so that meant he…he could be trusted?

He'd decide over the next days. Till then, he took his fill of meat, wondering just how much it had to have cost, and swearing he'd be the best neighbor ever, if it meant eating more meat like that.

"Did he just fall asleep?" The Sandaime's question came in a low murmur, as he was eying the blond haired boy who was dozing off, one side of his face resting against the wood surface of the table.

"It seems he has," Slive replied, standing up quietly, and gently grabbing the boy with minimum fussing, before moving towards the kid's room. Hiruzen followed in silence, putting up a smile at the sight.

"Just have to ask…are you really sure…he's one of your kind?" the whisper was answered with silence, at first, before a heartfelt sigh came back.

"We feel each other…I'm sure. The spark is there." Tucking the boy in, Slive moved out, closing the door of the boy's room behind him, the Sandaime in the hallway.

Something slithered down from the teenager's jacket, entering the room before it could be closed. Hiruzen moved or tried to, but the look of Slive, followed by him quickly shaking his head, meant that it was normal.

"I'm leaving a guard with him…he won't see him."

"I…I see." The Sandaime moved to leave, but just as he opened the door, and moved in the doorway, he turned back, to stare hard at the teenager.

"I just want him to have a normal childhood. He's like a grandson to me. If you can avoid him pain…then do so."

"Of course! I'm not going to make him one of us soon. He can live as long as he wishes…but I'm not the only one of us. I'll protect him from the others, but it might turn bad eventually, and when that time comes…" It made Slive angry, to be considered

"I know…just…Kami be damned…" and with that curse to god, the Sandaime left the teenager in the hallway, the apartment's door closing behind him.

A small pitiful whine came from right next to Slive's right leg, making the sixteen years old lower his gaze on the strange creature.

It held what seemed like a sharp conical face, prolonged like a nail but without a mouth. Tendrils erupted from the back of his humanoid body, albeit his general size wasn't more than that of a large dog. He had some sort of fleshy ribcage that breathed in and out oxygen, and yet he stood half transparent, seemingly invisible. His right limb was protruding with some sort of osseous claw devoid of other appendages. It hummed: quiet shrieking noises barely considerable as gurgles. It clawed softly on the ground, slithering like a snake, relaying his message to his master.

The master's answer was a mere nod, and the beast was gone just as it had appeared.

The first day was done, and the fact remained.

He was not alone, and he would let not another of his kin suffer the same fate as he had.

If he had to play the babysitter then he would, after all, when one has godhood flowing in one's own veins…what is there to fear?

Author's notes

This is a 'drabble' of a plot bunny that entered my head and refused to disappear.

It is to be taken 'as is', meaning each chapter is probably self-completing. It won't have couples, and should pretty much narrate a Naruto universe with the 'Caretaker' added.

(Who's the caretaker? Find out!)

((Really, don't expect this story to be updated ever so soon. (Or maybe it actually will, since I'm writing little for each chapter.) Seriously though, this is a 'drabble'. No high hopes. I really don't want to smash them down by not completing it, so truly, take it as a collection of drabbles on Naruto and 'other universe' together.))

Cookie points for who guesses the crossed over universe, what the caretaker is, and what… 'creatures' he commands. Last hint: The name is a nearly 99.999% giveaway. Just add a single letter of the alphabet (a consonant).