A/N: Some of you may have read the trailer for this fic. If you have, I suggest reading this chapter instead of just assuming that it's the exact same as before. Things were changed, things were added, and I can promise you that you're in for one hell of a ride! The nice lady, Manah Scarlet Shadowsong and I have put this together because, quite honestly, we're both pretty sick and tired of fics where, if fem-Haku is the paring with Naruto there's usually other girls involved in the romance, and if it's just plain NarutoxHaku it's yaoi. Add in that this was made shortly after I introduced Manah to Mizore from Rosario Vampire, and there ya go.

Keep in mind, dear readers. One thing Manah and I don't like is constantly doing things that other people do in their stories. So expect to see different arcs later on, and also different views of the characters in the show and manga.

Hopefully, though this is only the first chapter, it will be a good enough invitation into the world we've created for you to want to stay with us on this story. So ladies and gentlemen I welcome you to the world of Vermillion Ice.

Disclaimer: Neither Manah Scarlet Shadowsong nor I own Naruto or the few elements of Rosario Vampire you'll see in this story. They belong to Masashi Kishimoto and Akihisa Ikeda, respectively.

The village of Konoha, located in Land of Fire. Contrary to what most thought, it wasn't because the land was covered in roaring flames. Some people thought that instead the 'fire' referred to the strength of will that it's ninja had. Konoha may have been considered the softest village out of the Great Five, but there WAS a reason that Konoha ninja were feared, and why their village always came out on top in battle. Regardless, those people would be only half right. The other half was that for most of the year, the temperature was always sweltering hot.

And of course, I just HAD to be born with little tolerance for the heat. Naruto thought to himself grumpily. Couldn't have been born in someplace cooler, like Mizu, noooo! Just HAD to be born here!

The boy was lying on the floor of his room in his apartment with the AC turned up at max, sweat running down his body despite that. His blond hair was matted to his skull from all the perspiration, and his bright blue eyes stared out the window with a glare. Dressed only in a pair of dark blue pants with a vermillion stripe on the side of each leg, and he truly looked like the picture of misery. What was strange was that, for Konoha weather, it was actually pretty cool outside. So why was the boy complaining about the heat? Only a select few people new besides him, and that was perfectly fine by him.

"Screw it, I'll just grab one and go see Jiji," the boy, Uzumaki Naruto muttered to himself, sighing in defeat. He really didn't want to get up, but he didn't have anything else to do but lay there and roast, which was not a desirable option to him. Besides, Jiji had a better air conditioner in his office (four of them, in fact!) so the young blond figured that at the least he could take advantage of that. Getting up off the floor, he grabbed a sleeveless vest off the bed, vermillion in color with a blue spiral on the back, putting it on. The vest came down to the bottom of his rib cage, and the left side closed over the right, buttoning up at right below where his collarbone met his shoulder. As he left his bedroom, he ducked into the kitchen and opened up the freezer. Grabbing a small handful of some lollipops from there, he unwrapped one and put it in his mouth and put the rest in his pocket as he headed towards the door. Pausing a moment to ready himself for the heat, Naruto opened it and stepped out, thumbing the lock on the door before shutting it behind him.

Naruto didn't bother wasting anytime, determined to get out of the heat as fast as he could, though now that he had something cold to cool him down the heat wasn't as bad. Still, the faster he got to Jiji's office the sooner he could get away from the glares that seemed to follow his every move. And not from just one or two people either. The entire village seemed to give him mean looks. Well, except for the shinobi, but their stares were more like that of wariness. Like they expected him to do something bad. He didn't know what they were waiting for him to do though. He stopped playing pranks when he was eight years-old, about six years ago. The Hokage had sat Naruto down and scolded the boy, telling him that if he wanted to be a ninja he would need to stop the childish pranks, otherwise nobody would take him seriously. To be told such a thing by his role model was a bit of a blow for Naruto, who swore that he would stop with his pranks.

Behind him, a shout of surprise was followed by a thump, which itself was soon followed by a string of curses. Naruto sped up, a small smile on his face.

Alright, so he mostly stopped his pranks. Still, he didn't do them nearly as much as before. Only when he was miserable and it was a slow day. Like today! Chuckling to himself, Naruto barely looked up to see that he had arrived at the Hokage's Tower. Walking through the door, Naruto walked right by the secretary and went straight up the stairs to the Hokage's office. This wasn't done out of arrogance or anything. Rather, the Hokage had made it clear that Naruto was free to come and visit whenever he wanted, unless he was in a meeting, and that nobody was allowed to stop him unless otherwise told to. And since Naruto knew that the secretary was usually a ninja pretending to be a civilian, he knew that Jiji's orders would be followed to a "T". Which was fine by him, since most of the time he didn't even exchange ten words with the secretary on his most talkative of days. As Naruto reached the door to the Hokage's office he shoved his previous thoughts to the back of his mind, raising his hand and giving three strong raps to the door.

"Come in!" A friendly voice called out from the other side. At that Naruto pushed open the door and placed his gaze upon the Hokage of Konoha, Sarutobi Hiruzen, or as Naruto affectionately called him "Jiji". Dressed in the official red and white robes and hat of his office, the old man certainly didn't look like one of the most feared shinobi in the world. But the way Naruto figured it, the old man was just keeping the seat warm for him. The man was pushing seventy, and had even retired once, only to have to take the hat once more soon after when the Yondaime died defeating the Kyuubi no Kitsune 14 years ago. Still, Naruto knew that the old man was strong. The Hokage was the very person who inspired Naruto to become a ninja years ago when he was taking care of the blond, showing off some Doton jutsu and even summoning one of his monkey summons to play with the boy.

Granted, Naruto hadn't been too fond of that monkey after it stole his candy and threw it at him, but still.

"Ah, Naruto my boy! Come to save an old man from his boredom?" Hiruzen joked, standing up from behind his desk and coming round to give the boy a hug. Naruto returned the hug, a small smile on his face. After a moment Hiruzen released Naruto and stepped back. "Come, come, sit down for a while. Tell me, how've things been going for you?" As he spoke he returned to his desk behind his chair, with Naruto taking one in front of the huge desk. Naruto took a minute to replace the stick from his now candy-less lollipop, tossing the stick into a wastebasket and putting a new lollipop in his mouth before he answered.

"Got a little too warm for me, is all. Figured I'd come up here awhile and chill. You don't mind, do ya Jiji?"

Hiruzen chuckled a bit at Naruto's answer, smiling a bit at the boy with a mischievous glint in his eye. "So you just came up to take advantage of the perks of my office and our relationship? Naruto, you wound me!" Naruto grinned and laughed aloud.

"Eh, it's fine. You're a tough old bird." Naruto grinned around the stick. "'Course, you'd have to be to wait all these years for me to take that hat from you, right? On that note Jiji, can you tell me who my teammates will be? C'mon, please?"

Hiruzen let his smile grow a bit more. He was certainly happy that Naruto had kept his dream all this time, despite how the village treated him like a leper. True, there hadn't been any physical assaults on Naruto nor had there been any denial of service when he went to stores and restaurants, but most of the village did ignore him, and in stores and such Naruto had to wait until there were no customers being served before he could make a purchase. And yet, Naruto had taken it all in stride, swearing that one day he'd earn the villagers' respect, and he'd become so strong, loved and respected that the very people that spited him would make him Hokage.

But right now, Naruto was just an academy student who had yet to pass his graduation exam, and the Hokage's surrogate grandson. The boy didn't really have any friends his age, because of what the villagers told their children, but the blond didn't seem to mind all that much. Shaking his head, Hiruzen focused on the boy once more with a smile on his face.

"Now now, you know I can't tell you that Naruto." he scolded lightly. "The teams are announced one week after graduation, and you have to actually graduate for you to be at team announcements."

Naruto nodded, his eyes closed in relaxation. "Right, show up one week from tomorrow, got it. Anything else Jiji?" Hiruzen chuckled, the boy's confidence was certainly high. But a thought was buzzing at the back of the old Kage's mind. But what was it? Something about the time...


Ah. That was it. "Naruto, did you skip class today?"



"I didn't." Naruto insisted. "I'm training in stealth. Seems to be going good, don't you think?"

"Oh?" the Hokage hummed, resting his head on one hand. "And why do you say that?"

Naruto shrugged with ease, ignoring the rather loud yells of the academy teacher in the background. Guy certainly had lung power, if they could hear him even with the windows closed. "It's two hours until classes end, and he's just now noticing that I'm not there? Tch, and they call themselves 'chunin'."

"THERE you are!" a voice shouted at the window. Naruto looked up and the Hokage turned around to see a man in typical chunin gear with his brown hair done up in a pineapple look and a scar across his nose standing by the window outside. Standing up, the Hokage let the man, Iruka into the room. "What do you think you're doing skipping class, you idiot? !"

Naruto frowned at the insult, leveling a cold glare on the teacher. "I'm no idiot, sensei. I'M not the one that just now noticed a student wasn't in the class. Maybe you need remedial lessons yourself?" The blond shrugged, not noticing the bulging vein on Iruka's head. "Besides, I'm currently in a meeting with Ji- er, the Hokage, and you're interrupting uninvited. Isn't that insubordination or something?"

"Naruto..." Hiruzen spoke up, trying to keep the laughter from his voice. the young ninja-hopeful looked over at the Hokage, staring into his eyes for a few seconds. Finally he sighed and stood up, holding his hands in a gesture of defeat. Before anything else could be said, Iruka grabbed onto the blond and the two of them vanished in a swirl of leaves, leaving the aged leader alone in the room once more.

(Konoha Ninja Academy)

Naruto, now seated at the front of the class in ropes, stared impassively up at the still irate Iruka. Iruka, however, was glaring down at the blond in annoyance. Even now the boy was completely unrepentant and refused to apologize for skipping class. Meanwhile, the rest of the classroom just stared, watching and waiting. If this was anything like last time, Naruto would cause Iruka to go over the edge, and make the whole class pay for his mouthing off.

"So, what, now you're into tying up little boys? Sorry, I don't swing that way."

As Iruka started spewing words incorherently, the class as a whole sighed. Yup, as expected. Granted, they could understand why Naruto acted like he did. They knew that he had some troubles with the heat, and Iruka was boring and way too serious for his own good, sometimes over-reacting to the simplest of things. And it wasn't like the boy was a bad student, far from it. He was somewhere in the middle of the class in scores, and would probably have been higher if he didn't skip as much as he did. Still, the class did wish that Naruto would stop causing problems.

With a snort and one final glare at the blond, Iruka pointed at the class. "Because Naruto seems so confident that he won't flunk tomorrow, the class will be reviewing the Henge no Jutsu today!" A chorus of groans met this announcement, but Iruka would hear none of it. However, before the first student could perform the jutsu, the sound of the door rattling open interrupted the impromptu review. A head of silver, belonging to yet another chunin, leaned in and scanned the room for Iruka.

"Hey Iruka, sorry to interrupt, but the headmaster just called a faculty meeting. Sorry man, we need to go now."

Iruka sighed, nodding towards his fellow chunin. "Alright Mizuki, I'll be right there." Turning to the class, he continued. "You all heard that, right? All of you back to your seats and don't go anywhere until the dismissal bell. Quietly review to yourselves, got it?" At the classes acknowledgment, Iruka nodded and left the classroom, leaving the class alone. From his place on the ground, Naruto snorted.

"Dumbass could have remembered to untie me at least," he grumbled. Before he could even start struggling against the ropes, he felt them loosen and then quickly fall off. Rolling his shoulders, Naruto turned to look at his rescuer. "Thanks Shino. Was getting a little stiff there." Behind him stood a tall boy with bushy brown hair, sunglasses, brown pants and a tan jacket with a high collar that covered most of his face. A nod was all that Naruto received from the taller boy before Shino went back to his seat at the back of the class. Replacing his lollipop, having dropped the last one on the way to the classroom, Naruto took a look at all the students. He had a feeling most of them would flunk, having only the vaguest of ideas of what being a ninja meant. And it may have been rude of him to think this, but he figured that most of the failures would be girls. He didn't think that girls were weaker, nothing of the sort. Just... he didn't think any of the girls in his class were ready. Most of them were shallow and highly under-trained physically, and most if not all of them were mentally unprepared as well.

To be fair, there were a few girls that had a chance at becoming a successful ninja. Yamanaka Ino was one, currently being in second place in nin, gen, and taijutsu to Uchiha Sasuke, the current rookie of the year. of the girls in the class, she was easily the best right now, though she was being held back by the fact that she had atrocious stamina and an almost blinding crush on Sasuke. If she could fix those, she'd be fine. Mentally, Naruto didn't know where she stood, but considering that her family was a bunch of mind readers and such, he figured she'd be fine... hopefully.

Haruno Sakura was supposedly the smartest kunoichi-hopeful in the class, which Naruto found to be stupid. Yeah, she had brains, whoopty-doo. The girl had zero practical skills, and thought that being a kunoichi would lead to a fairytale romance happy ending for her, in that Sasuke would swoop in and save her and profess his undying love for her. Naruto dearly wished that she got out of it soon.

Hyuga Hinata, well, he didn't know much about her to be honest. Just that she was from some big-shot clan and that she was super shy, to the point that most people didn't think she had the ability to speak above a whisper. Naruto hadn't really tried talking to her, mostly out of disinterest.

Moving onto the males, there weren't that many that Naruto cared enough about to actually talk to. Nara Shikimaru was lazy as all sin, often proclaiming things as "too troublesome" to try. Akamichi Chouji spent most of his time eating and constantly following around Shikimaru. And Inuzuka Kiba was a guy who thought he was all that and a bag of chips, constantly trying to impress on others that he was the "alpha male" and whatnot. The poor guy probably still hadn't realized that people liked his canine companion, Akamaru, more than they did Kiba himself.

Aburame Shino was... strange. Naruto didn't really know him all that well, but Shino was a good guy as far as he was concerned. The guy wasn't annoying at all, was pretty damn smart, and at least attempted to treat others as equals and future colleagues. It didn't always work out, though. Girls were freaked out by him because he liked insects, and boys just found him too creepy. Naruto was on the fence, but at least acknowledged that the boy was a good guy.

Uchiha Sasuke, however, Naruto didn't much care for at all. The guy was arrogant, rude and just overall unlikeable. The guy thought that he was so cool that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, and apparently so did all the other girls, if their almost daily hunts looking for "their Sasuke-kun" was any indication. Sasuke, on the other hand, just didn't seem to care. He was constantly training and studying, and if he wasn't ignoring you or beating you in taijutsu or ninjutsu class he was insulting you. That was Sasuke in a nutshell: loved by the girls, hated by the boys, and forever the rival of Naruto.

Shame that the teachers only let the two fight with very strict rules. Otherwise, Naruto could think of several ways that he could have won their fights. But nooo, explosive tags, razor wire and rigging the fighting ring the night before was against the rules. What the hell, weren't they supposed to be ninja? Naruto may not have been a graduate, but he was pretty damn sure that in actual combat his thinking was right.

Ah well, such is life. Naruto simply rolled his shoulders one more time before heading to an empty seat at the back of the class, right under the air conditioner. With any luck, maybe he'd be able to get a bit of shut-eye? Worth a try anyways. Taking his seat and crossing his arms on the table before resting his head on said limbs, Naruto missed the furtive glances sent his way by Hinata, the girl blushing a darker shade of red every time she looked at him, poking her fingers together. In fact, the only person who noticed was Shino, who was sitting next to her. The quiet boy erely shook his head, an inaudible sigh escaping his lips.

Honestly, the entire class new that she had a crush on the blond, except perhaps the blond himself. There were no other girls who were interested in him, and thus Hinata had no competition for the boy's affection. So what was keeping her from asking him out, or at least talking to him? Her shyness was something that she'd have to fix if she ever wanted to make it out their as a shinobi, let alone head of her clan. It was completely illogical to think that one could run a clan if one couldn't even talk to their crush. Or at least, that's how Shino saw it.

One could not be expected to fly if they could not even muster up the courage to crawl.

(That night)

Konoha at night wasn't much different in the night from the day, aside from the fact that most everybody was inside their homes, fast asleep. The only people who were expected to be up were the ninja assigned to the night guard. But years of peace and confidence that nobody would be fool enough to launch an attack on Konoha, even at night, at made the guards lax and not as attentive as they should have been. How else would they have missed the figure silently breaking the lock of a window and slipping into the apartment of one Uzumaki Naruto?

The figure stayed crouched in the kitchen, just under the window. They had done infiltration missions before, and in many ways this was much easier than those tense operations. The figure held their position for a count of one-hundred, making sure that nobody had seen him enter the window and that the apartment's inhabitant was indeed asleep and not coming out. Once assured that so far they were in the clear, the unknown person snuck quietly to the freezer. Putting his fingers on the rubber padding seal, the intruder quietly pulled the freezer door open, the method he used to open it keeping the noise of the air being release down. waiting another thirty counts, the figure reached his hand in and grabbed several bags of lollipops.

With a disgusted glare, the intruder stepped back to the window, the bags held under his arm. As they reached the window they shot a look at a door down the hall, behind which Naruto slept. As much as the figure wanted to kill the damn brat, he needed the boy alive in order to accomplish his plans. Step one was getting rid of these damn candies. For the same reason as why he didn't kill Naruto, he could poison the lollipops either. Still, once he got what he wanted, there would be nothing keeping him from killing the boy. With a dark chuckle, the figure launched themselves from the window out into the night, dropping the bags of candy into a dumpster as he passed overhead.

Yes. Step one was underway, and the plan was on course. Nothing would stop him from getting what he wanted. He wanted the Forbidden Scroll. And Mizuki always got what he wanted, no matter what methods he needed to use.


(The next morning)

Umino Iruka was a man who enjoyed his job, enough so that his fellow chunin joked that the reason he didn't date was because he was already married to his job. This was not entirely true. He could get dates, and even had a few girlfriends before. But eventually they wanted more, to be married and have kids. Marriage, Iruka was fine with. But that eventually led to having kids, and while he did like kids, he had dealt with over twenty of them every day for the past several years. The bickering, the constant shouting, having to deal with the parents when little Daisuke flunked taijutsu theory, or when precious little Kana got hurt because she threw a kunai wrong and daddy stood there shouting threats at him with a red face and mommy was crying that her little princess got hurt doing training to be a ninja and neither one wanted anything to happen to their perfect little-!

Needless to say, he wasn't too fond of the idea.

Still, he at least tried his best to make sure that everybody went out there with the best chance to survive that he could give them. Some of them made it, fewer went past chunin. Most would probably stay genin for life, or quit the shinobi lifestyle, not that anyone could blame them. The lifestyle was hard, leaving little to no time for family, your life was in constant danger the higher up the rank you went, and quite a few had a hard time being in relationships, never knowing if they were going to be able to come home to their loved ones. And unless you were a jounin, chances are that nobody would ever really know who you were or even care. And even IF you became a jounin, the village already had big names to live up to. Hatake Kakashi, Might Guy, Sarutobi Asuma. It was a demanding job that often didn't live up to the expectations of those that went into the job.

That was why when Naruto walked into the classroom early that day, Iruka was surprised. The boy, while not the best study, was a decent student, placing around the center of the class in scores. Naruto just had the habit of not putting as much effort into it as Iruka thought he should, considering that the boy was planning on being the Hokage, which was a huge responsibility. That said though, the boy rarely came in early, usually arriving about ten minutes before class would start. So this was odd by itself. But there was a bit more to this.

Naruto didn't have a lollipop stick in his mouth, which was something that Iruka rarely saw. The blond always had one, no matter what. So for Naruto not to have one was odd. The second thing was that Naruto didn't look well at all. His skin was pale, but his face was flushed, and he looked a little woozy as well. The sweat was sticking flat to his head, and he had even opened his shirt up, exposing his chest. When he reached Iruka's desk Naruto placed both hands on it, as if to steady himself, while he shook his head a few times. For awhile, neither one said anything. Naruto was focused on trying to keep himself from falling over, and Iruka just watched him, puzzled as to what was going on. After a bit of waiting Iruka finally decided to speak up.

"Naruto, are you... feeling all right?" Iruka immediately wanted to slap his forehead after saying that. Obviously he wasn't. Naruto himself just looked up at his teacher, a weak smile on his face.

"Hey, Iruka-sensei." he rasped out. Iruka cringed slightly. It looked like the boy had gotten sick the night before but had decided to come to school anyways. It made the teacher re-evaluate what he thought about the blond not having the dedication needed to be a ninja. Iruka himself knew a few chunin that would have stayed home just for a sore throat. Iruka shook those thoughts away when Naruto continued speaking. "Mind if I ask a favor of you?"

The scarred teacher blinked in confusion, not expecting that question. Curious, he turned in his chair to face Naruto entirely, entering his 'teacher mode' and placing his elbows on his knees, hands clasped together in front of him. "What is it that you need Naruto?"

"Do you know of my condition?"

At that, Iruka had to struggle to keep his face straight. Did he know...? But that was impossible, the Sandaime made sure that-

"I'm not that good in heat." Naruto continued, unaware of his teacher's thoughts. "Like, what's comfortable for you is sweltering to me. If I get too hot, I get sick. Sweating, nausea, dizziness... the whole nine yards. I usually use a lollipop or candy to keep my body cool, but when I woke up this morning, all of my lollipops were gone."

Iruka frowned, both at the knowledge of Naruto's weakness to heat and the fact that the candy that he used was gone, the day of the test. His first thought that Naruto had simply misplaced the candies was quickly tossed out. Even if he wasn't as serious as Iruka thought he should be, the blond wanted to graduate a lot, since it was important to his goal. But candy to keep a person cool? Really?

"Wait, is that why you sometimes skipped class? When it got too hot for you, I mean." the teacher asked. At Naruto's nod he leaned back and groaned. He could certainly agree that that could be a viable excuse for not showing up, even if he didn't like it. Iruka turned back to his desk, opening up one of the drawers. "I think I have some peppermints or something in here. Would that help you?"

Naruto shook his head, a weak smile on his face. "Nah, the candies have to be prepared a certain way, and they take awhile to make, three to five days, give or take. The only one that knows the recipe isn't in Konoha and isn't scheduled to be here for a few more days. Thing is, I had about one-hundred-and-eighty lollipops left. So in short, I'm in kind of a bind."

Iruka got a panicked look on his face, slamming his desk drawer shut before whirling back to Naruto. "But, how will you take the test when you're like this?" The teacher was about to take Naruto to the Hokage to explain the situation and find a solution before the young blond motioned for him to calm down.

"Relax, will you? It's easy. All you got to do is up the AC." At Iruka's incredulous look, Naruto sighed and continued. "Look, it's not a perfect solution, but it should keep me cool enough that I can focus on the written test. And you said that there's going to be an hour break for lunch before we head outside, right? With all that, I should be in good enough shape to pass. It won't be my best performance, but I'll at least be able to do what needs to be done, you know?"

For a few moments, Iruka said nothing. First and foremost in his mind was taking care of his students, and Naruto didn't often come to him for help of any kind, if ever. But on the other hand, Naruto was just one student. There were other students that didn't like the cold, being far too used to Konoha's constant warmth. And yet again on the other hand, this was an issue of health. Finally Iruka nodded, standing up and walking over to the thermostat before cranking up the air conditioner. If worse came to worse and he was questioned on his choice, he'd cite a student's health came before a class's comfort. Besides, this would be his own little revenge for all the times the class ignored him or gave him problems.

He'd just tell the parents that it was just another aspect to the test, working under stress in uncomfortable conditions.

"Alright, that should do it," Iruka turned to Naruto a small grin on his face. "I take it you're going to stay in here and try and cool off. Naruto nodded, a thankful smile on his face.

"Yeah, class doesn't start for another forty minutes or so, right? I'll probably take a nap or something, that should help me a bit more." The blond chuckled before casting an amused look on his face. "You know, you're not as bad as I thought you were Iruka-sensei. Still too serious for my tastes and really preachy, but not bad at all."

Iruka growled, a tick mark forming on his head. "Now listen you!"

Naruto sighed as his teacher started lecturing him. "Here we go again. Me and my mouth."

(One hour later, Konoha Ninja Academy - Basement)

Mizuki snarled to himself as he held the flash light up in one hand, scanning the wall before him. He thought that stealing those damn suckers were enough to make sure the fox failed. Mizuki did not expect the damn brat to go and talk to Iruka, getting his weak colleague to mess with the air conditioner and help the kid out. The silver-haired teacher had forgotten that the school had gotten the AC system upgraded so that teachers could set the rooms temperature specifically just a few months ago. So now here he was, in the basement and trying to adjust the controls without making it obvious. So far, no luck. Mizuki was never good with electronics, and didn't have a clue as to what he was going.

'Fuck it!' the teacher finally decided. A few minutes later, he had the panel on the wall off, and was cutting random wires. He had only wanted to affect Iruka's classroom, but now he'd just have to deal with shutting it off for the whole damn building. And after all that careful work and planning after that slimey Kabuto gave him information about the damn fox's condition. Ah well, at the least Mizuki's plan would still go on without anymore hitches.

Up above him, Iruka's and his class looked up in the middle of their test as the vent as they heard the system shut off. A few seconds later and it was entirely dead. At that moment, Iruka and Naruto had the same thought.

'That's not a good thing...'

(Hours later)

"Well that blew," Naruto muttered to himself, kicking a loose stone down the street. He failed, as he expected the minute the damn AC system went down. And the windows in the class were to remain shut at all times during tests and such, in order to keep people from finding ways to cheat. It usually wouldn't have made much sense, but ever since that time that Kiba had his dog sit outside and give answers to the test. Didn't work out too well, since Iruka could hear the dog's quiet barks, but it lead to that rule being made.

So the test went badly for Naruto. And since the room was so stuffy, and Naruto was sitting between two people (one of which was Chouji) he had been a sweating, sick mess. He was so sick that he wasn't even able to go outside for the physical portion of the test. His time had instead been spent in the nurse's office, several dozen bags of ice piled on all over his body. Not the most fun of his life.

So now here he was, wandering the streets as the sun began to set. the shop vendors had packed up and gone home, and all the kids were at home with their parents, either being congratulated on graduating or being consoled about their failures, so the streets were for the most part empty. It was still a bit hot, but Naruto had managed to convince the nurse to let him bring an ice bag with him, said ice bag now sitting on his head. He was considering going to his favorite restaurant to drown his sorrows for a bit when he heard someone calling his name. Turning around, Naruto was greeted by the site of Mizuki running up the street to him, looking a bit relieved to have found him.

The blond waited for the teacher to catch up to him, content with waiting for the older man to start the conversation. Mizuki finally came up in front of the boy, chuckling softly while one hand rubbed the back of his head. "Glad I found you Naruto. Been looking all over the village for you for a bit. You're a hard guy to find, huh?"

Naruto chuckled. "Sorry about that. I was in the nurse's office for a bit, had some things to take care of." The boy didn't know the silver-haired teacher that well, just from when his class was sharing the field with Iruka's during shuriken training and such. So Naruto was pretty sure that Mizuki didn't know about his condition, and he wasn't planning on telling him either. Wasn't his business after all. "You need anything?"

Mizuki nodded. "As a matter of fact, yeah. Iruka told me that you failed your exam, and he told me that part of it was because the AC broke. Something about you doing really bad in the heat?"

Naruto groaned inwardly at that. Of course Iruka would let something like that slip to someone else. And to some person who wasn't even the boy's teacher, either! What the hell happened to 'student privacy'? "Yeah, it's true," Naruto admitted. "And since the cut-off age is fourteen, I'm going to have to take a look at what else I can do with myself. Maybe I can move to Kiri or something. A lot cooler there, after all."

"Whoa, whoa there kiddo!" Mizuki chuckled again, holding his hands up to calm Naruto down. "Before you start packing your bags, I got some news for you." When the boy cocked his head, Mizuki continued. "Iruka and I talked to the Hokage, and he agreed to a make-up exam. Granted, because it's such a peculiar case, the contents of this exam are a bit different. All you have to do is sneak into the Hokage's tower, get into the vault and take the big scroll in the middle of the room out of there and to the shack in the forest. You know the one I'm talking about?"

Naruto nodded slowly. "Yeah, I've been there a few times when Iruka took us into the woods for survival training. Found that place by accident one day, so I just crashed there instead of a tree. Probably wasn't fair, but hey. So meet you there?"

"Right," Mizuki confirmed. "There's another thing though. If you want extra credit, learn one jutsu from that scroll before I arrive. Since we're talking about an infiltration mission scenario, we're going to grade it as such. And sometimes, when you're sent to retrieve the info, you run the risk of losing the scroll, or having to drop it to get your pursuers to prioritize retrieving the scroll over catching you. Thus, you'll have to have the info that was written down memorized. This isn't the exact same thing, since this is your own village's stuff, and secrets can be easily gotten out of genin. But yeah, that's the exam in a nutshell. Can you do that?"

The blond grinned. "Of course I can! I'm going to be Hokage, right? This'll be a snap, just you wait and see!"

"That's the spirit, Naruto!" Mizuki laughed, slapping a hand on the boy's back. "I've got to go let the Hokage know that you've accepted. The exam starts in an hour, okay? Catch ya later kid, and good luck!" With that Mizuki walked away, heading to the Hokage tower, Naruto assumed.

The boy himself kept waving until after Mizuki left his sight, a frown forming on his face soon afterward. "I thought you weren't coming back for awhile yet. What brings you here so early?" he said to the empty street. Behind him, though, a person stepped out from the alley.

"Got called back ahead of time. The old man told me that he expected something to go down, and asked that I come a bit early. I didn't know what was going on, but with this, well..."

Naruto chuckled, turning around to look the figure in the face. "Yeah, guy's a pretty good liar though, I'll admit. The story was quite a bit plausible, though I think only Kiba could have really fallen for it. Heck, if I hadn't seen you about to come out of the alley only to step back when Mizuki called out, I might have actually been a bit more prone to believe him. But since you hid when he started talking, that kind of gave it away. Well, that and the smirk he didn't think I saw before he left."

"Heh, well, I'm actually a bit disappointed that he didn't sense me at all. At the very least, he should have made sure that nobody was in the area before talking to you. But I shouldn't complain, stupid traitors are easier to catch." The other person said, shaking their head with a sigh. "Always did think that the old man was far too trusting, even after that incident with Orochimaru he still doesn't like to think that there are Konoha shinobi that'd betray us. Hell, even now his orders were for me to 'observe and if I found out that he was a traitor, try to convince him to surrender peacefully.'"

Naruto frowned at that. "No offense, but I'm pretty sure that if you asked him to surrender, he'd be a damn fool to not agree. I mean, come on. You're-"

"Yes, yes, I know. Still though, the Hokage has to be firm at times, especially when it's something like this." The person grumbled. Naruto nodded, fully agreeing.

"Back on topic," Naruto said, rolling his shoulders with a sigh. "What should we do about our 'friend'?" The grin on his companions face, he would later recall, looked quite a bit like his own back when he used to plan pranks.

(Three hours later, shack in the woods)

"Well that was surprisingly easy," Naruto quipped, sitting back against the front of the abandoned shack. He had waited an hour, like Mizuki had said, and then had gone into the Hokage's tower. After finding the scroll and getting out of the tower, he had double-timed it to the shack and had started practicing. It took him awhile, but he had finally learned a jutsu from the scroll. Naruto doubted that under most circumstances he'd be allowed to learn something like the Kage Bunshin, so he had gone and had written down the jutsu that branched off of it. Granted, he only had the names written down and so would have to try and recreate the offshoot jutsu, but Naruto was sure it would be worth it.

Still, he knew that this whole exam was a trick, and so wasn't that surprised when Mizuki landed down in front of him, a viscous grin on his face. The teacher had two giant shuriken on his back, and his hair was pulled up under his bandana-style headband. Overall, the teacher looked like he had come prepared for battle. "Hey there, Naruto," Mizuki greeted, making Naruto sick from the false kindness dripping from his words. "Looks like you did it, eh? Congratulations, kiddo! Now, hand me the scroll and you'll be a genin."

"Yeah no."

Mizuki took a step back, caught off guard by Naruto's refusal. He quickly refocused back on the blond boy who was now standing up, a cold look in his eyes. "W-what do you mean? You did it, didn't you? You stole the scroll and passed the test! You just have to hand the scroll to me and it'll be official!"

Naruto chuckled, but it sounded anything but amused. "I think it's official already. You tricked me, and you just want this for yourself. So why? Why do you want this so bad? And why did you choose me, huh?"

There was silence for several moments before Mizuki's laughter reached Naruto's ears, sending a shiver up Naruto's spine. It sounded dark and condescending. Mizuki looked up, a gleam in his eyes. "Hey Naruto. Want to know a secret? The secret about you, that nobody is supposed to tell you?"

Naruto froze. A secret? What kind of secret? "What are you talking about? What kind of secret is it? !"

Mizuki laughed some more, putting Naruto even more on edge. "Fourteen years ago... the Yondaime didn't kill the fox."

Naruto growled. "Stay on topic, asshole! What does that have to do with me? !" Naruto's yell didn't seem to upset Mizuki. In fact, it seemed to amuse him more.

"Everything, Naruto! Didn't you think it odd, how everyone hates you when you didn't do anything? Why people always whisper behind your back, why the Hokage keeps a close eye on you? Did you ever wonder why there were never any pictures of the Kyuubi's body when it was 'killed', or why nobody ever says exactly how the Yondaime beat the demon fox?" Mizuki grinned wider, a feeling of triumph going through him as he saw Naruto was hanging on his every word. "But I know. In fact, all of the adults know. But the Sandaime made a law, you see. Nobody is supposed to speak of it, not to their kids, and especially not to you... Kyuubi no Kitsune!"

The color drained from Naruto's face, stunned and confused. "What are you talking about? I'm not-!"

"You are!" Mizuki crowed, his grin wide and crazed. "The Yondaime sealed you away into a human baby, binding you to that form and trapping you in a prison of flesh and making you mortal!" The silver-haired chunin reached behind his back, grabbing a giant shuriken and began spinning it. "The Sandaime tried to convince us that you're not the fox, just a boy holding the fox back. But everybody knows that you're just the monster that killed all their loved ones, and got escaped the punishment that you deserve! Well, at least you did one thing right, my faithful 'student'! You got me the Forbidden Scroll and sealed your place as an enemy of the village! Now, even if I do get caught, I can just tell them that I killed the hated demon that stole the scroll and kept our village in constant fear, getting it back! I'll be a hero, and you'll finally be out of our lives, Kyuubi!" With that final declaration Mizuki threw the giant spinning piece of metal, madness dancing in his eyes. This was it. He'd secure his place as either one of Orochimaru's elite, or he'd be a hero to Konoha! Either way, he'd win, and the demon would be dead!

So sure of himself, he didn't notice that Naruto had gone from a shell-shocked look to one of pure rage. But the traitor did notice when the shuriken he threw stopped moving. Blinking, Mizuki was stunned to see what stopped his weapon.

Ice. It was trapped in a block of ice, a trail of frost going from the ice to Naruto's hands. No. Not hands.

Claws. Claws made of ice.

Naruto stood up, a hard look in his eyes and his lips forming a scowl. But Mizuki was drawn more towards Naruto's hands, which had seemingly turned into ice. The ice was a light-blue color, and formed half-way up to his elbows. The ice moved just like normal when Naruto flexed his claws menacingly. When he crouched down into a stance, preparing to lunge, that was when Mizuki noticed that Naruto's hair had also turned into the same pale-blue ice, becoming even more spikier with a slight mist coming from his claws and hair.

"I don't know if I believe you," Naruto growled, drawing Mizuki's attention back to the blond. "And quite frankly, I don't give a damn. I don't appreciate being used, and I certainly don't like being treated like a damn tool! Consider yourself lucky Mizuki. I finally get to use my Fuyu no Kofuku on someone. And as a bonus, I get to vent years of anger and frustration while still helping out Konoha. So get ready, Mizuki-sensei. I'm going to stomp you cold."

Fuyu no Kofuku = Being of Winter