Hey everyone, Shaydrall here again with something completely new. It's a Naruto fic this time (Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto), which has been inspired by a number of things. This story aims to rank up there with the great, not only in word count and reviews, but in heartfelt fulfillment. I write this simply because I feel the need to get it out. It's been on my mind for ages, and I finally pulled together 11k words to make a solid chapter 1. Of course the first few chapters are always set up in a big story, but it leads to something great. All things are worth reading. Please enjoy.
It was late evening. Hiruzen Sarutobi stood at the back of the Hokage office, hollow eyes staring out of the window. The village below was half ruins, barely a district untouched by the Kyuubi no Kitsune's wrath. Even through the closed window he could detect the faint dull smells of destruction that loomed over the village. The death toll was staggering, civilians and shinobi alike, though the battle had only spanned a very short amount of time. The village had even lost their greatest treasure, the Yondaime Hokage, Minato Namikaze. And of course...
Hiruzen looked down at the small basket beside the desk. Nestled within a pure white blanket slept the fox's jailor, Naruto. He closed his eyes as the memory of being forced to witness the tragic end of their family from outside Kushina's barrier flashed through his mind. He had never felt so helpless in all of his many years. Naruto stirred slightly, miniscule hands clenching slightly before relaxing once more. Such an innocent child, barely days old and yet already under such a heavy fate.
"Hokage-sama," came a female voice by the door. Hiruzen turned to face the ANBU. "Your guest has arrived."
"Send him in then leave us," said Hiruzen. "Let us be disturbed by no one."
"As you command, Hokage-sama." The woman left the room only to return shortly after leading a man with a great mane of spiky white hair. She bowed to them both then closed the door behind her, leaving them alone.
"Welcome back, Jiraiya," said Hiruzen, smiling at his old apprentice.
"It has been a tiring past few days," interrupted the Hokage quickly, "and I've rather lost the energy to argue so I'll ask you not to blame yourself for not being here when it happened." Jiraiya looked significantly put out.
"Regardless, I still am sorry," he said. "I see you've been put back in charge?" Hiruzen sighed and sat in the high backed chair heavily.
"Yes, though I had very little choice in the matter. I'm far too old for this but there were no others the Council deemed appropriately capable." He motioned to a seat in front of the desk which Jiraiya took. "Have you heard anything of Tsunade?"
"Since I found out about the attack, no," replied Jiraiya. "I came back as soon as I could, but I've no idea about what she would be doing. Either she hasn't heard of the attack or she is not coming back purposely."
"Well, no matter," said Hiruzen, shaking his head. He only hoped that Tsunade was doing alright, though her support was sorely missed. "I know why you're here." He stood reaching down and gently picking up the basket, placing it on the desk.
"So Kushina really did give birth," said Jiraiya softly, looking down at the boy. "And it's true, what everyone has been saying?" Hiruzen nodded sadly. "Then at least he'll have his Godfather to take care of him." But the older man was shaking his head.
"It's not that simple I'm afraid," he said. "The situation is actually more complicated than you can imagine."
"Minato and Kushina are dead and their son has no relatives to go to so as his Godfather I assume custody," said Jiraiya, somewhat impatiently. "What's so complicated about that?"
"Yes normally that would be the case but there is more to it," said Hiruzen. "Please sit for a moment and I will explain the situation." Jiraiya frowned but sat all the same. His sensei was not an unreasonable man, nor was he one to make rash decisions. He was a Hokage after all. "To start, you should know that Minato sealed the Kyuubi in his son."
"He did what?" shouted Jiraiya, jumping to his feet.
"Please, remain calm," said Hiruzen quickly. "Everything I am telling you is higher than an S ranked secret. SS rank, if you would. I've taken steps for us not to be overheard but we should exercise caution nonetheless."
"Sorry, Sensei," said the Sannin. He looked down at the small baby in the basket, asleep on his back, despite all the noise he had made. Even at a few days old Naruto really was his father's son. Minato could sleep like a rock. Performing a few quick hand signs, Jiraiya very lightly placed a finger on the boy's navel causing black markings to appear on his belly. "Hmm, Eight Trigrams..."
"Is there something wrong?" asked Hiruzen as Jiraiya's voice died off. Jiraiya blinked.
"Ah no, everything is fine," he said quickly. Minato's work was superb as always. "Did you see it happen?" Hiruzen nodded. "Please, tell me."
The Hokage took a deep breath as he recounted everything that he witnessed, from the beginning to the end. Jiraiya couldn't help but blink rapidly as he listened to the final moments of his close friends. They were such good people. Life could be incredibly cruel at times.
"And so I would like to tell you of the few steps that have been taken regarding the boy's future," continued Hiruzen, stopping his pacing at last. "Firstly, as you should well know, Minato and Kushina's relationship was kept extremely quiet. Minato explained to me that he did not want Kushina and their unborn child to be exposed to any additional danger while she was in her pregnancy. I believe the plan was to publicly announce their marriage and child after he was born. Having been Hokage for a while, I knew the dangers a Kage's family draws and I supported their decision."
"He told me the same thing," said Jiraiya, nodding. "As far as I know, they interacted about as much as a Hokage and Jounin did in public. Of course privately..." he broke off grinning fondly.
"Yes," said Hiruzen. "Now most importantly for the boy's safety it is imperative that his relation to Minato remain a secret. For this reason his last name will be Uzumaki, as opposed to Namikaze. Additionally, his relation to Kushina will only really be pieced together by those who knew of her and that she was pregnant. The majority of those people were shinobi and a good number of them were lost in the attack. This coupled with the fact that Kushina was more commonly known as the Red Hot-Blooded Habanero to civilians means that knowledge of the Uzumaki's in general is sketchy at best. Of course, this is isn't as critical."
"So tell me why I can't take care of the kid," said Jiraiya.
"I need you protecting him by doing whet you've been doing," said Hiruzen. "As Hokage I need you back out in the field keeping tabs on everything. You know what I'm talking about," he added as Jiraiya opened his mouth to protest. "Plus were you planning on breast feeding him yourself?"
"I'm sure I could find someone," countered Jiraiya smoothly, a glint in his eye. Hiruzen coughed lightly.
"Yes well, the other reason is that as Konohagakure's jinchuriki, Naruto cannot grow away from the village," he said. "It's important for him to live here. You're traveling, not to mention the danger of practically everything you do makes it impossible. I'm sorry."
"It's alright, Sensei, I know I could make it work out, but it would be difficult," said Jiraiya. "I want what's best for him as well. So who will take care of him?"
"Currently I have a wet nurse from the orphanage coming in to look after him, but that will be decided tomorrow at the Council meeting." Jiraiya growled.
"You deny me the right to look after my Godson, but think it's alright to leave his fate to them?" he spat. Hiruzen sighed slightly. Jiraiya's dislike of the council was well known to him.
"Unfortunately, because it concerns the Kyuubi, it concerns the village as a whole," said Hiruzen in his most Hokage-like manner. "I will not let what I and Minato have built in this village to crumble, even when I do not like what may result." His expression softened. "I'm sure one of the clans will be happy to adopt him."
"I wouldn't be so sure of that," said Jiraiya darkly. He stood with a small groan. "Though personally, I'd rather have him grow up in an orphanage than under the arrogance of one of the four noble clans. I understand that you may not have much control over what becomes of him, but I need you to promise me that you'll do well by him. I promise to keep him safe from anything outside of the village, but inside the village-"
"I will make sure he's alright," finished Hiruzen. Jiraiya nodded with a smile.
"I trust you Sensei," he said, running a finger lightly along Naruto's cheek. "Grow well, Naruto Uzumaki." As he made his way to the door he turned back to the Hokage. "I doubt I'll be back in Konoha within a year or so. I'm sorry I can't stay around to help rebuild."
"Don't worry, I need you out there right away," said Hiruzen, looking down at the boy once more. "We'll all need our wits about us in the coming months."
"I still fail to see your point, Danzo," said Choza Akimichi, eyes narrowed.
"Then allow me to speak plainly," said the bandaged man. "We have been handed the opportunity to train a jinchuriki from birth as the sword of the village. Years from now the village would have a warrior unequaled in strength as well as loyalty. Konoha would be unstoppable."
"An intriguing idea, despite it's ridiculousness," said Hiashi Hyuga, shaking his head slowly.
"I don't understand what you mean," said Danzo, keeping his frustration in check.
"I believe what our fellow Council member is saying is that while we could stand to gain something from such a course of action, the risks are far too great to even consider it," said Shibi Aburame, his voice completely even. Danzo couldn't help but scowl at the man.
"I assume that you would want to take responsibility for the boy's training," said Fugaku Uchiha. It was not a question.
"I would be honored to do so."
"I'm sure you would, Danzo, however Naruto Uzumaki should not to be trained as a jinchuriki weapon," said Fugaku, shaking his head. "It is far too dangerous."
"You are just being cowardly, which is surprising from the leader of the Konoha Police Force." Fugaku narrowed his eyes at the insult. "I move to put this to a vote," said Danzo.
"Seconded," said Homura Mitokado.
"Danzo moves to have the Kyuubi's jinchuriki trained into a weapon for the village, starting as soon as is able under his tutelage," said Hiashi, taking his position as speaker of the Council. "All in favor?" Danzo, Homura, and the final Council member, Koharu Utatane each raised a hand. "All not in favor?" He, as well as the other three heads of the Noble clans each raised a hand. "Very well, the movement is denied." Danzo nodded curtly. He couldn't deny a straight vote. Fugaku smirked.
"There is still the matter of the village's security with regard to the boy," said Choza. "How are we to be sure that he won't lose control of his chakra one day and unleash the might of the Kyuubi on the village once more."
"We can always place a chakra lock on his body," suggested Fugaku. Everyone looked at him in confusion.
"I'm sorry, a chakra lock?" repeated Koharu.
"It's not something that you would ever see used on an adult, or even a child, as they aren't able to set in on any sort of developed chakra system; however on a newborn..." The Uchiha head shrugged. "A chakra lock effectively locks away the use of ones chakra coils. They will still develop, however Naruto would be as dangerous as any average civilian. At least for a while. I don't know how long it would last. I've only read about it, never seen one used."
"An acceptable soultion," said Shibi. "I move to vote."
"Seconded," said Choza.
"All in favor?" said Hiashi, looking around. "Six to one. The boy will be placed under a chakra lock." He looked at Fugaku in question.
"I'll take care of it when the meeting is over." Hiashi nodded.
"Well, now that we've established that he is not to be used by the village then it is only a matter of who will take care of him," said Homura.
"Agreed," said Koharu.
"Would any of the four Noble clans be willing to adopt the boy?" asked Hiruzen, speaking for the first time during the whole meeting. Though he didn't vote in anything he was more then privileged to be there and council with them.
"I apologize but I do not wish to expose my family to such a risk," said Shibi. Choza nodded his agreement as well.
"I also will not expose my clan to the danger," said Hiashi. "And before you say anything, Fugaku Uchiha, it would be ill advised for your clan to take responsibility for the boy. We are all aware of the false rumors about the Uchiha's involvement in the catastrophe, however this does not make them any less problematic. If you were to take the boy in it would be seen as nothing short of a scandal." Fugaku hesitated but nodded. He had been about to say pretty much the same thing.
"Then I move we send him to the new orphanage being built," said Koharu. "It is close by and we can have someone keep an eye on him to assess his threat level." Hiashi didn't even wait for a seconded vote.
"All in favor?" All hands went up. "It's unanimous. Naruto Uzumaki will be kept at the orphanage until further notice. Is this acceptable, Hokage-sama?" he asked, looking over at the village leader.
"Yes, though I have one thing to add." Hiruzen looked them all in the eye before beginning. "Henceforth it is a capitol offense to speak of the sealing of the Kyubi to those who either don't know of it, or those from outside this village. I am fully aware that news of the sealing of the fox into Naruto has spread throughout the village, however this will go no further. For all anyone outside the village knows, Konoha defeated the greatest of the tailed beasts. This will buy us some protection at least for the time being while we rebuild and restrengthen our defenses." And hopefully this will keep the next generation from seeing Naruto as anything other than a boy.
"Hokage this-" but Danzo was cut off immediately.
"Do not overstep yourself, Danzo," said Hiruzen, his voice dangerous. "Regardless of what you may think, I still am Hokage. My words are law, and this is final. Now," he continued, his tone softening quite a bit, "let's move on to reconstruction."
Five Years Later
Hiruzen smiled as he waved goodbye to the academy students. The chunin teachers hurried them off to their next activities, bowing their thanks for the visit. Visiting the academy was something he started early on when he had become the third Hokage and it always made him feel lighter at heart. Even after the Yondamie took over he still visited the students to tell them about the importance of a village's shinobi and teamwork. Now he walked steadily to the large orphanage that housed so many of the young parentless children left behind by the Kyuubi's attack. Of course, his objective wasn't just to see any orphan.
Naruto Uzumaki had been living here among his peers since shortly after the fateful Council meeting. The Hokage did his best to visit when he had time, but mainly received information on the boy's condition through reports from the head of the orphanage. Today was actually the first time he would be visiting the boy in three months. The matron of the orphanage had consistently said that all was well, and this allowed him to worry less about the boy. The law that he enacted making discussion of the Kyuubi a national secret was something that he hoped would prevent influence on the new generation and for the most part it seemed to be working. He knew he wouldn't be able to stop those who lost family in the attack from being resentful or even fearful, but time would mend everything.
"Hokage-sama," said one of the workers at the entrance of the large building, recognizing the Kage robes at once. "What a pleasant surprise. Are you here to visit Yuasa-san?"
"Yes, would you be able to take me to her?" he replied cheerfully.
"Of course, Hokage-sama, please follow me."
The young woman led the Hokage through various hallways which were littered with young children. Upon seeing him they quickly darted into side rooms and watched him through the doors intently. Young though they were, everyone knew who and what the Hokage was. Hiruzen looked around at them all with a smile. He knew that a good number of the children of the orphanage were from shinobi families and would eventually join the academy. Some of the workers at the orphanage were chunin who helped pick out and give basic levels of training to any capable youngsters, preparing them to be sent to the academy when they were old enough. Usually that age was eight, but special cases often bypassed that rule all together.
"Here we are, Hokage-sama," said the woman, stopping in front of a door. She knocked shortly. "Yuasa-san, the Hokage is here to visit you."
"Send him in," came the soft voice behind the door. Hiruzen walked into a moderately sparse room. At one end sat Maiko Yuasa, the matron of Konoha's orphanage. "Hello, Hokage-sama," she said, putting down a folder and standing.
"Maiko, how are you doing?" he asked pleasantly.
"I'm very well, thank you. I'll take it you're here to check up on the Uzumaki child right?" She sighed slightly at his nod. "I hate to say it but he, well, he isn't exactly here at the moment."
"Not here?" repeated Hiruzen blankly, a frown forming on his face. Maiko shrank back slightly at his change in expression.
"Ah, it's nothing bad, Hokage-sama," she said quickly. "Naruto is quite the hyperactive child and often eludes my supervisors, but he always comes back. Judging by how he looks whenever he shows up I'd say that he's off training on his own. He has always shown fascination in the ninja arts." Hiruzen raised an eyebrow. "When he began doing it we were always running spare trying to find him, but as you know we don't exactly have the manpower to provide the kind of oversight that so many children require..."
"I see," he said slowly. "And when was the last time he was seen here?"
"Um," Maiko hesitated knowing this was not going to end up well. But it wasn't like she could lie to her Kage. "Yesterday morning?" Hiruzen sighed but Maiko flinched as if he had shouted at her. Ignoring the woman, he made a casual movement with his hand, and an ANBU member instantly appeared at his side.
"Find Naruto Uzumaki and bring him back here to the orphanage. I would like to see him."
"Hai." The ANBU vanished instantly.
"Please don't be like that Maiko," said Hiruzen, rubbing his temples under his wide hat. He could feel the beginnings of a headache coming on. "Sit with me and tell me a bit about how Naruto has been doing here."
Somewhere in the village, a five year old boy with startlingly blue eyes and spiky blond hair wandered about. He had never been out this far in the village before and he was completely lost, not to mention scared. The day before he had run out of the orphanage compound to go to the nearby park like he usually did. It was was more fun to play out in the sun there than to stay in that dusty building where the adults all looked at him weird. He didn't know how long he'd have to stay there but he hoped he could leave soon. The orphanage was all he had ever known.
Being a resident of the orphanage, there was only one thing that he had in common with every other child there. He had no parents; no family. Sometimes adults who didn't work at the orphanage would come and look at the children, talking to the matron about them. Once in a while, the visiting adults would adopt a child or two, if they were siblings, and they would leave the orphanage forever. They all knew what that meant. A child who was taken away from the orphanage by an adult got a new family. It was the dream of every child there. However, Naruto knew that it was little more than that for him. As long as he could remember, every time an adult came to the orphanage they always avoided him once they saw him. He could feel their dislike, though it made no sense. He did his best to be a good kid, to stay clean and cheerful; adults always liked those more. Yet the more adults that came the worse things got. They reacted badly to his presence and that soon became adopted by the other children of the orphanage. No one wanted to go near an unwanted child. What if being around him made it that they never got a new family. And so he avoided being there as much as he could. It wasn't like the adults who worked there looked for him. They probably didn't care either. They were adults after all.
Naruto's stomach growled. He was really hungry and hadn't eaten anything since the day before when he took an apple from a stand filled with fruit. From the way the man behind it shouted at him Naruto knew he shouldn't have done it, but still he was hungry. He ran away as fast as he could and fortunately the angry man didn't chase him. Unfortunately he was even more lost than earlier, and it eventually became dark. He ended up falling asleep in an alleyway somewhere. The next day he woke to an unfamiliar scene. Everything was so large and loud in the streets. Even though it was all new and amazing, it still didn't stop him from noticing the wary looks everyone was giving him. Some people even looked like they wanted to hit him. They had the same angry looks the children had who were fighting about something. But he didn't take their food or anything like that so why were they looking at him like that? Hunger making his stomach hurt, surrounded by hateful faces, Naruto was too distracted to notice the cart he walked in front of.
Naruto cried out in pain as he was knocked over. The man pushing the cart tripped at the sudden jerk from the cart, slamming into the it from behind and knocking it clean over. The contents of the cart spilled everywhere, landing on the dirt road in heaps.
"Damn brat!" shouted the man furiously, standing up shakily and looking at Naruto, who was cradling his arm. "What's wrong with-!" Naruto flinched away from him as the man stopped talking, a far greater rage entering his face.
"I- I'm sorry," he stammered quietly, backing away slightly. The angry man took a step forwards, hand raised threateningly.
"Get out of here!" he snapped. "Go back to the orphanage where you belong!"
Naruto quickly ran away, not caring that he was bumping into more people as he ran. Eventually he made his way through an alleyway and crashed headlong into a new person, falling painfully back onto his butt, cradling his arm again. The startled person turned to face him, bending over, arm outstretched. Naruto quickly put his arms over his head, waiting for the hit.
Mikoto Uchiha had her head in the clouds, as she usually did when she went shopping. Usually, as in this particular situation, her mind was focusing on what she was going to cook for her two sons and her husband. They were all such hard workers. Even Sasuke, who was only five, worked tirelessly to follow in his brother's footsteps. It was admirable to see him so driven. Spacing out about various dishes she unconsciously made her way easily through the throng of the open market. Her days as a ninja had taught her many useful skills, including a healthy amount of multitasking. Trying to decide between two veggies, Mikoto was brought back to reality when a small mass crashed into her side, before rebounding. She didn't need to be the mother of two sons to immediately know it was a child. Turning she bent over, looking at the blond boy. About to ask if he was alright she put out her hand to help him when he jerked his arms in front of himself, clearly afraid. Mikoto froze, frowning at his reaction. Why did he think she was going to hit him? Had he done something wrong? Or was there more to it than that. Suddenly she began noticing other things wrong about the boy. His clothing, a grey t-shirt, tan shorts, and a pair of open-toed shoes, were all ragged looking- certainly old and reused. What parts of his face she could see beneath his arms looked dusty and dirty. Of course, the most glaring issue was one of his arms, which was clearly badly bruised and had a cut on the forearm, blood dripping from it.
"Don't be afraid," said Mikoto quickly, moving her hand back some. "I won't hurt you. Are you alright?" The boy hesitated at first, but after no hit came he slowly lowered his arms, allowing Mikoto to finally see his face. Blond spiky hair topped his head framing the piercingly blue eyes that stared right into her own. She immediately noticed the faint but still distinct whisker-like markings on his cheeks. At once, she recognized him as the village's jinchuriki, Naruto... something. She couldn't remember his family name, though there was a chance she had never heard it. People rarely talked about this boy in terms other than calling him a little devil or monster, the container of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. Didn't he live at the village orphanage? What was he doing all the way in the middle of town?
"S-sorry," came the small voice. "I'm lost."
"Don't worry, dear," said Mikoto with a smile. She reached into her bag and brought out a cloth. "You're hurt, let me help clean you up."
"You don't have to," he said, looking at the cloth. "It'll be better after a little."
"Nonsense, come here," she said, using a more stern tone she often used to get her sons to obey her. Mikoto smiled as Naruto approached her quietly. She took a small water canteen from her handbag and wet the cloth, then gently pressed it against the cut. To his credit, the boy didn't even flinch, though Mikoto knew it must sting even a little bit. After cleaning the cut she set about giving his other arm a small scrub, followed by his face. He just stood there quietly, clearly nervous, but also captivated by the look on her face. Not once did his eyes leave her own. Looking back at the cut on his arm Mikoto suppressed a sound of shock. The cut was gone, with only the shadow of a healed wound left over.
Incredible, she thought. It must be the Kyuubi. A low growl brought her out of her thoughts. Again, having two children told her exactly what that was.
"Are you hungry? Do you want some food?" she asked, her smile slipping slightly. She caught it before it fell any more, though it was even more difficult still when the boys eyes lit up at the word food. He nodded quickly. Mikoto stood up, and held out her hand. "I know a good place that's well priced and it isn't far from here. By the way, my name is Mikoto. Mikoto Uchiha. What's your name?" She knew who he was but still, she didn't want him to feel afraid. Naruto stared at her hand for a long time before reaching out and wrapping his fingers around two of her own.
"I'm Naruto Uzumaki."
It took all of Mikoto's self control not to shout when she heard his family name. Uzumaki! There was only one Uzumaki in the entire village when she was growing up: her close friend, Kushina Uzumaki. Naruto looked to be about Sasuke's age and Kushina was pregnant five years ago. When she had heard of Kushina's death she also assumed that her child had died as well; but no. Though there was not a trace of Kushina in Naruto's features, if his name really was Uzumaki then there was no doubt. The Fourth Hokage had sealed the Kyuubi, which once inhabited her friend, into her friend's son. It could only be described as harsh. Then again, the Uzumakis were always said to have exceptional life force. Perhaps Naruto was the only choice that the Fourth had at the time. She shook her head. Once she returned home she had some research to do, but until then...
Mikoto walked steadily through the streets, Naruto holding onto her pointer and middle fingers with all of his own. The streets were much less crowded as they moved further away from the main markets. Those who recognized her nodded their heads in respect. She was the wife of the head of the Uchiha Clan after all. However, all those who looked at her companion did so with obvious wariness and contempt. Mikoto couldn't help but wonder how everyone could recognize him so easily even though he should be spending all of his time in the orphanage. Then she realized that they probably recognized him the same way she did. No one else in the village had those distinct whisker marks. After a minute of walking they came to their destination. A small shop with an open front, partially covered by an awning saying ICHIRAKU RAMEN.
"Teuchi, how are you," said Mikoto warmly, pushing past the cloth and into the wonderful aroma of the ramen shop. "Come sit here, Naruto," she said to the boy, patting the stool next to hers. "There's someone I want you to meet." The jovial man behind the counter grinned broadly.
"Mikoto-san you look lovely as always," he said cheerfully. "I haven't seen you around at all lately, have you been well?"
"Yes, having two boys can be quite a handful at times," she replied. "Speaking of children though, how is your daughter?"
In response to that Teuchi just turned around and shouted, "Ayame! Come down and say hello."
"Coming Otousan!" came a girl's voice from within.
"Teuchi, I've brought you a new customer today," continued Mikoto. "I think this might be the first time he'll have tried ramen. Introduce yourself Naruto," she said to him softly, her voice encouraging.
"H-hi, I'm Naruto Uzumaki," he said after a second. Teuchi glanced at Mikoto so quickly even she barely noticed it.
"Hello, Naruto," said Teuchi. "I'm Teuchi. I run this ramen shop. Ramen is basically noodles in broth. Would you like to try some?" Naruto just nodded rapidly. Mikoto could tell by his deep breaths that he was sincerely enjoying the aroma of the shop.
"I'll have one as well, Teuchi," she said with a smile. "For old times sake."
"Coming right up." As Teuchi worked on the two bowls of ramen a young girl with brown hair walked into kitchen area through a back doorway covered by a cloth.
"Hello, Ayame-chan," said Mikoto to the girl. She was tall enough that her head just cleared the counter, enabling her to see over it.
"Hello, Uchiha-san," she said bowing slightly without banging her head on the counter. She noticed Naruto looking at her. "Hi."
"Hi," he said back to her. They stared at each other until Ayame became self conscious and beat a hasty retreat through the back door, her face red. Teuchi just laughed, shaking his head. After a little while Naruto was staring into a large bowl filled with steaming liquid. He had to get up on his knees to be able to see into it properly. Mikoto kept an eye on him in case he lost his balance as he picked up his chop sticks and gathered some of the noodles. She and Teuchi watched him take his first bite, cautiously apprehensive at what he was going to taste. Naruto's eyes went round like dinner plates and he began moving food to his mouth as fast as his little hands could manage. Mikoto couldn't help but chuckle a little and Teuchi was giving his usual full bellied laugh. Mikoto was only a third of the way through her bowl as Naruto completely emptied his.
"That was the best thing I've ever had, EVER, dattebayo!" he said, completely ecstatic. Mikoto was amazed at what a change had come over the boy. Excited and happy, he was a completely different child than the one that bumped into her not twenty minutes ago. Naruto was so innocent and adorable. It hurt her heart that he had gone through what he had so far in his life. She couldn't help but feel ashamed for being Kushina's close friend and yet letting such a thing happen to her son. A sudden shadow on the ground announced a newcomer, Mikoto turning to find it's owner standing a few feet away from her; an ANBU.
"Is there something wrong?" she asked the ANBU, though she had a feeling she knew already.
"My apologies," he said, "I'm here to return the Uzumaki child to the orphanage. The Hokage is there and wishes to see him." Though she didn't want to see the boy go so quickly, she knew there was nothing she could do about it.
"I'm sorry Naruto, but it looks like you have to go back to the orphanage now," she said to the boy. His face instantly lost the excited spark it had gained.
"Ne, I knew I couldn't stay here forever... as much as I-" he swallowed, cutting off his own words, looking down at his feet.
"Come on, Uzumaki," said the ANBU impatiently. Naruto hopped down off of the stool.
"Arigato, Teuchi-san," he said quickly to the ramen cook. "Arigato Miko-oneesan." He walked to the ANBU and turned to Mikoto, something behind his eyes. Coming to a decision he said quickly, "Ne, Miko-oneesan will you-" but he suddenly collapsed, easily caught by the ANBU who slung him over his shoulder.
"What did you do that for!" snapped Mikoto to the ANBU, his hand still forming the seal for the sleeping genjutsu.
"I'm under orders, Uchiha-san," he said politely. "I've delayed enough. Goodbye." He vanished in a puff of smoke. Mikoto turned back to her unfinished bowl of ramen, annoyed at the ANBU.
"Will I what?" she wondered aloud.
Naruto slowly opened his eyes. His head was spinning slightly. The last thing he knew was that he was with that strange adult at the most incredible food place ever when an ANBU told him he had to come back to the orphanage. Then...
"Welcome back, Naruto," came a voice to his side. Naruto looked around quickly to find himself face to face with the Hokage.
"Hi, Ojiisan," said Naruto somewhat surprised to see him. Though now that he thought of it, the ANBU did mention the Hokage wanted to see him. He wondered if he had done something wrong. Apart from the orphanage, the only other thing that had remained constant in his life was the occasional visit from the Hokage. He had no idea why the old man came to visit him but at least he didn't treat him any differently than anyone else.
"I heard you were gone since yesterday morning," said the Hokage. "Are you alright?"
"Sorry jiisan, I got lost and couldn't find my way back," Naruto explained. "But today I met a really nice oneesan who got me something called ramen. It was so good!"
"That's wonderful to hear," said Sarutobi. He looked behind Naruto, who turned and realized he was in the Matron's office. "I'll be taking my leave now. Thank you for talking to me about everything."
"Of course, Hokage-sama," said the Matron. Once the Hokage left the Matron smacked the back of his head lightly. "Stop running off or I'll have you confined to a room. The Hokage was displeased."
Fugaku Uchiha was strong man. He let his clan with unwavering resolve and fortitude, serving Konoha as one of the seven Council members. He also commanded the Konoha Military Police Force with an iron fist. He was a man firmly in control of everything that passed beneath his gaze. He was a man capable of twisting fate to his calling! His Sharingan prevented anything from slipping past his defenses. Nothing couldn't be predicted! Nothing caught him unawares... which is why he found himself momentarily speechless when his wife said to him over dinner:
"I want to adopt a boy from the orphanage."
It was a rather disarming statement, you had to admit.
Sasuke and Itachi both choked on their dinner. Even Mikoto blushed slightly. She hadn't been intending to say anything of the sort. She just hadn't been able to get Naruto out of her head from earlier. About to bring up the interesting encounter with her husband during their meal, she instead went unconsciously for the kill.
"Mikoto, you shouldn't joke about things like that," said Fugaku, shaking his head as if to clear it. He looked over at his wife who just blushed deeper, not meeting his eyes. Oh god, he thought. She's serious? "Itachi, why don't you go take your brother outside for some evening air, I'm sure it would do you both some good after all the training you've done today." Itachi immediately took the hint.
"Come on Sasuke, let's go outside," he said, pulling his curious brother along. The room was silent for a long while before anyone found their voice.
"Mikoto, don't dance about it and just tell me what you're thinking," her husband said, taking a sip of sake.
"Fine," she said, her face hardening as she looked Fugaku straight in the eye. "I want to adopt Naruto Uzumaki."
"I... see," he said. In a millisecond he had a dinner knife in his hand, poised at Mikoto's throat. "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?"
"Fuga," she pouted putting her hands on her hips. Fugaku sighed and put the knife down.
"Just explain," he said tiredly.
"You are aware that I was at least close, if not best friends with Kushina Uzumaki?" she began, to which her husband nodded. "I was simply not aware of Naruto's family name until now. With the Hokage's law Naruto is very little talked about outside of secrecy. I merely assumed him to be what he is. However today we quite literally ran into each other." Fugaku frowned, though Mikoto could tell he was curious despite himself. "While I was out shopping for dinner, a little blond boy with blue eyes and whisker marks ran into my side in the market. He was lost, injured, and scared. The poor boy thought I was going to hit him when I tried to help him. I managed to gain a little of his trust and took him to get something to eat after finding out that he was starving. It didn't look like he had eaten much before that today. Half way through all of this I introduced myself to him, and he did the same to me." Mikoto sighed. "There is no doubt that he is Kushina's son. Jinchuriki or not, I won't allow him to live such an isolated life."
Fugaku scratched his chin. He had always thought his wife was aware of the Jinchuriki's name, but her lack of reaction to him so far did match up with her explanation. He closed his eyes sadly. "Mikoto, your heart speaks to your kindness, however," he said, now looking directly at her, "I cannot permit the boy to join our clan."
"And why is that?" said Mikoto, her eyes flashing dangerously. Fugaku was still somewhat off balance from his wife's unexpected seriousness about the matter.
"A number of reasons which I will list for you if you will listen patiently." Mikoto bit the inside of her lip and sat straight up, waiting. "To begin with, in the days following the attack the Hokage asked those of us on the Council if any were willing to adopt the boy. None were. No one was willing to place their entire clan at risk for the sake of a single potentially unstable boy. Of course, I had an additional reason." Fugaku stood and paced slightly, portraying his agitation. "You know the injustice our clan has suffered since the attack, with many looking to the Uchihas as responsible for the incident. You know just as well as I do that we were completely uninvolved. However that means little to nothing in the eyes of the village. So I ask you to follow this logic and see what adopting the boy would bring to the clan. I'm sorry but I cannot allow it. Plus, don't you think two children is enough?"
Mikoto was silent, avoiding her husband's eyes. Fugaku watched her warily. She was not stupid. She would have known all this before asking. Yet she still did, and in front of their children no less. Did the Uzumaki child affect her that much?
"I'm sorry Fuga," she said tiredly. She poked at a piece of food on her plate. "Motherly instinct I suppose."
"I'm sorry it has to be this way, but honestly it would be better if you avoided contact with the Jinchuriki all together," Fugaku continued, knowing this was not what she wanted to hear. Still he had to say it. "For the good of the clan, it would be better not to have any type of rumors start. And mark my words, they will start if you continue to involve yourself with the boy."
"I understand, my husband, and I will abide by your decision," said Mikoto frostily, standing up. She left the room at once. Fugaku let out a ragged sigh, sinking back into his seat and downing his sake in one gulp. This was going to be a long night.
Naruto couldn't sleep. There were a number of usual reasons contributing of course- hyperactive fidgeting, random itches, not to mention the discordant sounds of a hundred odd children sleeping all around him. He sat up and looked around. Though there was almost no light coming in from the windows on the far wall he could see quite easily. He never had any difficulty seeing in the dark. The bunk beds on either side of him were empty, as was the bed directly above his own. At a certain point the other children stopped sleeping next to him and it just stuck, no matter how mixed up anyone got with who slept where. He quietly moved down the room to one of the large windows and pushed it open. The cool night air felt good against his face.
In a fluid movement, Naruto vaulted over the windowsill and out of the window. His left arm held the sill and turned him to that he could catch the it with his right hand, his feet propping his body up as he hung outside the wall. Of course, he didn't drop. He didn't want to risk getting hurt from falling three stories to the ground. Instead of climbing down however, he begin climbing up, moving around the window and up the wall like a spider. It was easy, even in the low light from the moon and stars above. The building that they all slept in was fairly old, and the walls had many footholds. Within a minute Naruto was on the roof, leaning on his back and looking up at the starry sky. Of course the beauty of the night was lost to him at this particular time.
He could still see the eyes of that strange woman who had cleaned his face earlier that day. They were unlike any other eyes that looked at him before. But what exactly they held was something he couldn't figure out. Naruto blushed as he remembered what he had almost blurted out before he suddenly woke up next to the Hokage. He had almost asked this stranger to be his mother. As if something like that would ever happen. It was a strange thought... though he couldn't help but blurt it out, it had come on so strongly. He hoped he could visit that wonderful shop again with the nice man and the ramen. Thinking about the woman's gentle eyes and the delicious smell from that shop, Naruto drifted to sleep beneath the stars.
Two years later
Naruto ran lightly through the streets, ignoring the shouts of those he disturbed. He was making his was through a well known route that he had taken time and time again from the apartments to his favorite place to eat. Within minutes the familiar awning came into view. He could see one person sitting behind it.
"Teuchi-san!" he called, pushing aside the cloth and hopping onto the stool next to the stranger.
"Ah, Naruto-kun how are you?" said Teuchi with a smile. He was already in the process of making him a bowl.
"Same as I was this morning, Teuchi-san," said Naruto. "I got my month's allowance today so I came straight here."
"You know I'm always glad to have you Naruto-kun, but you need to be careful with spending your money," said the man. Ever since Naruto had moved out of the orphanage and started living in the housing apartments he had spent more and more time wandering around the village. According to the boy he was looked after by the landlady who ran his particular building, though the way he described her was less than encouraging to a father with a child of his own. Who's decision had it been to let a six year old boy live practically on his own anyway? That was over a year ago now, but still...
"I know," said Naruto, eyes focused on the bowl that was set in front of him. "Itadakimasu!" He proceeded to devour the meal. In between bites he asked, "Ne, Teuchi-san, the Lady said I have to get something new to wear. Do you know where I can buy some new clothes?" Admittedly, his clothes were quite threadbare.
"I know there are some clothing shops closer to he heart of the village, though they might be a bit expensive for what you'd need. Ask around for a store that sells used things," he suggested, scratching his chin. "It'll be more comfortable and certainly cheaper."
"Arigato," said the boy, downing the rest of the ramen. He put a couple coins on the table and jumped down from the stool. "See ya tomorrow!" he called as he sped off down the road.
"Surprised?" Teuchi said to the person still sitting at the counter. A hood was pulled back to reveal a familiar face. Mikoto watched as the boys back rapidly grew smaller until he turned a corner and vanished from view. "He's certainly a different boy than he was when you first brought him here. My ramen is quite the amazing thing."
"You've been improving it for him right?" asked Mikoto, turning back to the man. Teuchi nodded.
"Yes considering how frequently he comes here I'm not really sure if he eats anywhere else," he said, shaking his head.
"Which is exactly why I give you a little extra to add a few more healthy ingredients to his food," said Mikoto smugly. "I don't want him suffering from malnutrition. I may be forbidden from going near the boy but that doesn't mean I can't help him out from afar. I appreciate all the info you give me about him," she added gratefully. "At first I didn't think I'd really see him again."
"Yes he visits often enough that Ayame has become quite fond of him, though she'll deny it completely," he said with a laugh, which was shortly turned into a cough as a small fist pounded into his back.
"Tousan!" Ayame shouted, red faced. Having started working up front with her father, Ayame had started to become much more confident dealing with people in a less than overly polite manor. And in her father's case, well... "You know, Mikoto-san," added the girl to their guest, "Naruto-kun's been trying to get into the academy. He says he's going to become Hokage!" Mikoto smiled at that. It was rare for anyone without a large amount of special influence to receive the attention needed to hone the skills to attain such a position. Unless you were a prodigy-genius. Seeing as how he wasn't living at the orphanage anymore, he didn't even have their basic training to fall back on. Of course, getting into the academy was a different matter entirely. All one needed to enter the academy was pass a simple chakra control test: holding a leaf to your forehead for ten seconds with pure chakra. If you could manage that then you could be trained, simple as that. No village was so protected or isolated that they would reject a potential new ninja, regardless of how bad they might be.
"Have you seen him practice with the leaf?" she asked Ayame, leaning onto the counter.
"Yeah, but he's terrible at it," she said in a whisper, gripping the edge of the counter and leaning in as well. "The longest he can do it for is one second, though that might just be sweat." Mikoto sweatdropped. That was pretty abysmal. As Kushina's son and more importantly and Uzumaki, Naruto certainly had the capacity to become a shinobi. Mikoto couldn't help but wonder why he would be so bad at the most simple of chakra controlling tasks. Taking her time, she slowly ate her raman as she thought it over, eventually spacing out.
"Ah, Mikoto-san!" said Teuchi quickly, pointing down the road. Naruto was returning from where he disappeared before, though there was no sign of the energy he had shown earlier. He was walking, for one, and he was watching his feet as he got closer. Mikoto quickly put up her hood. "Hey Naruto-kun!" called Teuchi. Naruto looked up, his cheery expression back on his face instantly.
"Hey again Teuchi-san."
"What happened, are you done already?" asked Teuchi. "That was pretty quick." Naruto just scratched the back of his head with a big smile.
"Yeah I like running everywhere and I didn't see anything I liked," he said quickly. "I'll try again another time. Thanks for the help before, I'll see you tomorrow." He dashed off back in the direction of the apartments. Mikoto watched him go.
"Looks like something happened," she said with a frown.
"Don't worry, Mikoto-san," said Teuchi. "Same to you Ayame," he added, rubbing his daughter's head. She hadn't said a word but just looked after Naruto worriedly. "I'm sure he can handle whatever goes on. He's a tough kid. Now, would you like me to wrap that up for you Mikoto-san?"
Naruto slowed his pace as soon as Ichiraku was out of sight. He wished he could talk to them about the things that happened, but he didn't want to risk them seeing him as a nuisance. For whatever reason, Teuchi-san and Ayame-chan were nice to him. He wouldn't risk losing that for anything.
In actuality when he arrived at the clothing shops he was quickly chased away by the owners. They refused to sell to a little demon like him. It wasn't that it had never happened to him before. Most food stores and other eating places did that too. It still didn't make sense why everyone treated him like that but he could only imagine that he must have done something really bad when he was younger and just couldn't remember. Why else would people treat him the way they did? Who knows what he would do if he didn't have Ichiraku Ramen to eat at.
As he made it back to the apartments he heard a loud crash from deep within the place. Going to investigate he found the landlady shouting at someone recognized as one of the building cleaning staff. From the looks of things the man had broken something.
"Dammit that shit costs money!"
"I'm so sorry, Kimiko-san, I'll be more careful I promise!" She just knocked him over with a heavy cuff to the side of his head.
"I don't even know why I keep you here," she growled. "Clean this crap up then go buy a replacement. The money is coming straight out of your salary." The man quickly bent to gather the large mess of what looked like broken pottery. Naruto did his best to make it to the stairs but-
"Naruto! Don't try to sneak by me!" Naruto winced and froze as the landlady descended upon him. "What are you doing still wearing those rags," she shot, picking at his shirt. "I told you that I won't be blamed for you looking like you're homeless. You make me look bad when you go around like that."
"I'm sorry Kimiko-san, the owners-"
"I don't care what your excuse is," she said loudly, forcing him back to the front door. "Go get something new to wear and don't come back till you do!" She slammed the door closed behind him. Naruto scowled and kicked the door before bolting down the road. There was no way he would be able to get anything from one of those stores today. He'd just have to climb in his apartment through the window again. After some walking he was at another of his usual spots: the tree swing outside the academy. Spotting a leaf at his feet he quickly snatched it up and put it to his forehead, crossing his eyes upward. It stuck for only a moment before falling to the ground, the same as every other time he had done it. It was weird. He'd seen other people do it like it was nothing, so why couldn't he. What was he missing? When he tried asking people before they just chased him off like usual. So now he just sat and thought, occasionally putting the leaf to his forehead only to watch it fall back down.
Oblivious to all around him, the blond boy on the swing didn't notice the young girl with raven hair and pure white eyes standing nearby, watching him try to stick a leaf to his forehead without using any chakra.
Doesn't he know he's doing it wrong?
Felling nervous she didn't speak that loudly. Certainly not loud enough to be heard by an oblivious boy. She moved closer to him, her sharp eyes picking up his extremely worn out clothing. Why did he go out like that?
"Why won't you stick! Stupid leaf!" shouted the boy, jumping up and kicking the tree fiercely. As if to spite him, the tree rained leaved down on him lazily. It was then that the boy noticed the girl. "Oh, hi." She was quite close to him now. Only about five feet away. They just stared at each other. One shy, one confused. Unsure of what to do, the girl bent over and picked up a leaf, putting it to her forehead and concentrating her chakra lightly. The leaf stuck like glue.
"Like this," she said, pushing her bangs up so he could see better. The boy looked at the leaf speechless.
"Wow how did you do that so easily!" he said curious, coming closer to her. The girl was getting nervous from his closeness. No one outside her family had ever gotten this close to her before. He had startlingly blue eyes and curious marks on his face that looked like whiskers.
"Ano, you have to use chakra," she said quietly. The boy just looked at her in confusion.
"I've heard that word before," he said, scratching his chin. "What's chakra?" This time it was the girl who was looking confused. Who doesn't know what chakra is.
"It's um..." The girl didn't really know how to explain it to someone who didn't know what she was talking about. Struck with an idea she glanced at his hands, resting at his side. Biting the inside of her lip she grabbed one of the boy's hands. "This is chakra," she said before pushing some of her own into him. He stared at his hand, eyes widening again.
"Weird, it feels weird," said the boy, though he didn't pull his hand away. Instead he grabbed the girls hands tightly. "Again, please?" The girl just blushed but complied, forcing another wave of chakra into the boy's body.
"You've never felt this before?" she asked. He just shook his head. "But you have so much. I can see it," she said, pulling her hands from his. She pointed at his navel. "Right there." The boy put a hand on his belly, closing his eyes.
"I... it's strange, I feel like... almost..." The boy's face scrunched in concentration. He could still remember the feeling of the 'chakra' the girl had pushed through his body. It was there, right where his hand was... he clenched his teeth in frustration. The girl felt the change at once. She jumped back quickly, staring at the boy who was suddenly bursting with chakra. It almost felt like a great rush of wind on her face. The leaves around them were blown away in every direction. Dust whipped up in the air.
"Hinata-sama!" came a shout at her back. Two shinobi appeared in front of her, kunais out, ready to defend her. The door to the academy burst open and a number of people ran out.
"This is amazing!" shouted the boy, oblivious to it all. He grinned and willed the force inside of him to grow. The force seemed to get even more intense. "Hey, hey!" he shouted to the girl. She stared at the boy through her defenders. "Thank-" The chakra suddenly cut off, just as quickly as his voice. A person had appeared at his back and delivered a swift incapacitating chop to the neck. A person wearing Kage robes. The boy fell to his knees, already unconscious. An ANBU appeared at his side instantly.
"Take Naruto here to the hospital, I'd like them to check on his chakra coils," he said, gently handing the boy to the ANBU. "Stay with him until he wakes."
"Yes Hokage-sama," said the female voice. The ANBU vanished.
"Hokage-sama!" a number of people gathered around him, confused as to what just happened, as well as why he was there.
"Are you alright, Miss Hyuga?" Hiruzen asked Hinata kindly, walking over to her. Hinata blushed deeply and looked at her feet.
"Y-yes, Hokage-sama," she managed, before her throat closed from nervousness. It was nerve wracking enough when her father talked to her, but the Hokage was the leader of the entire village! Hiruzen patter her head.
"That's good," he said. "Iruka!" he called, to the group of people who had come out of the academy.
"Yes Hokage?" said the young man, coming over.
"I've got another new student for you, so keep an eye on him."
"Uh, of course, Hokage-sama," he said, still confused.
"Now," he said, walking off in the direction of the hospital, "I could really use some tea..."
A/N: Chapter 1 Complete! Hooray! So far it's fairly normal with some deviations to make it more fun. Added that little bit with Hinata b/c I've come to find her soooo cute. And she was 7 here. Awwwwwww =D
I'm trying to find a good path with this and that will come easily with your feedback. Please review. Writing The Infinity League has taught me the unlimited value of my reader's input. I truly value it all. So please help me out. I appreciate any and all discussion on this. And no flames, seriously.
This story will be written, and it will be freakin awesome. Help me make it that way. Thanks everyone.
/ So here's just some extra info on what I did above.
- Yes I know, I KNOW, that Jiraiya is supposed to get the key to the seal so he would know about the kyuubi being sealed in Naruto. Just pretend he gets it twenty minutes after he meets with the Hokage if it makes you feel better.
- Also sometimes people will say things that make you think, wait a second, person X should already know the answer to that question why it is being asked! Every time that happens it's done for an intellectual reason that you probably just aren't thinking of at that moment. If you're confused PM me about it. Don't point it out in a review saying I'm wrong, cuz then I'll have to publicly tell everyone why you are wrong. Anyway...
- The council I have made up of the heads of the 4 noble clans (Aburame, Akimichi, Uchiha, and Hyuga) as well as the two old people and Danzo. That makes 7. Hiashi heads the council as the speaker.
- I honestly did my best trying to explain that dumb ass law that the Hokage comes up with and how it could easily just not work (which it did and didn't). Pretty much it worked exactly the way the show needed it to, which was impossible lol
- It makes sense that you would need to pass a small chakra test to get into the academy right
- Also, after the first review I felt the need to add this about the chakra lock. It really is insignificant to everything. They just put it there as a safety measure but the moment Naruto started using chakra the thing snapped like a twig. He will NOT have stunted growth like Lee. Oh god nooo. In fact he will have accelerated growth because he's freaking Naruto.
That's it really. If you're curious about anything else in the world I've started to paint feel free to ask me in a review or PM. Don't forget to check out The Infinity League if you like Pokemon. It's cool xD