Cold. Wet. Frightened. Out of breath. Pain. Numb legs.

These were the experiences of one Naruto Uzumaki. It was once again the day he dreaded most out of the year: his birthday. The mob had started chasing him earlier than usual this year making the poor boy run for much longer than he was used to. That, and they had manned the walls and gates well, giving him no chance to escape like he did last year. Luckily, it had been raining all day, making the few inuzuka-nin that usually joined in the hunt irritated that they couldn't find his scent. Using every trick in his arsenal, the boy had barely dodged every attempt the mob had made to catch him. He knew what would happen if they did. He had seen the large cauldron of tar and crate of feathers in one corner of the village during his mad marathon of survival. But he was tiring and knew it was only a matter of time till one of the jounin in the mob sobered up and was able to find him. Running down some back alleys, over some fences, and through some of the more run down portions of the village, Naruto made his way to one of the side gates that wasn't normally frequented.

Distracting the guard was simple, all he had to do was make a shadow clone and have him get the guard to chase him. Once the guard was distracted, Naruto continued his mad dash out past training grounds and deep into the forest. After running for a good solid two hours, he finally came to his secret haven, a small run down shed deep in the forest. Making his way inside, he stripped himself of his wet clothes and collapsed on a makeshift cot inside made of a few planks of wood and old rough wool blankets. Naruto wanted nothing more than to pass out right then and forget everything, but years of being an insomniac due to fear of being beaten or raped in the middle of the night, fear of someone once again breaking into his apartment to torture him, fear of the villagers finally going that extra step and killing him kept him awake. He was fairly sure that no one would find him in the shed, but that didn't change his situation. He couldn't sleep.

So the boy lay there, utterly exhausted and alone, and let his mind wander. It was almost time for the academy to start up again. He had failed last year but was sure he could pass this time. Once he did, he would be one step closer to his dream: to become the strongest ninja the village had ever seen and become Hokage. Just so when he did he could turn and look at everyone that ever hurt them, that ever was disgusted by him, and thought that he was nothing more than a monster and see the looks on their faces.

Shivering from the cold, the boy wrapped himself tighter in the old blankets. The cold reminded him of an odd dream he had the night before. One of him as a full-fledged ninja on a team in a strange snow covered country fighting to save a princess. This wasn't the first of such dreams. The odd dreams had started about a month after failing the academy a few months back. Dreams that seemed real yet weren't. Dreams that seemed like that was how things should be, and others that were so alien he didn't know what to think about them. Dreams of places and things he didn't understand. Practically every night he had had one or more of these odd dreams. Dreams of him doing things differently, acting differently, being treated differently, growing up in a different village, in a different time, with parents, without, even dreams of him as a girl, or as a different person altogether. The dreams were never long, just long enough to have a glimmer of understanding as to what was happening in whatever location and situation the dream put him in. Naruto wasn't sure if these dreams were occurring because he only slept about an hour a night, if that, or if they were because he was finally going crazy due to all that he went through on a daily basis.

He didn't know, and frankly he didn't care.

It happened about three weeks after the dreams had started. He had been attempting to train in his use of the clone jutsu so that he could pass next year, but frustration of failing time and time again was wearing him down. So, in his frustration, he impulsively decided to try a technique that he had seen a different version of him use in a dream the night before. In anger, he quickly made the handsigns that the other him used, focused his chakra, and shouted the name of the name of the technique.

"Shadow Clone Jutsu!"

Chakra left his system, molded in front of him, began to take shape of that of another Naruto, and finally fell into itself and dissolved. Naruto was stunned. He thought the technique was just a figment of his imagination. Something his subconscious had formed in his dreams because clones were his worst jutsu, yet in the dream it was his best. He never thought it could be real. But here he tried it for the first time and got results. Sure he failed, but he knew that he could eventually make the technique work. He then thought of the other dreams he had had the last few weeks and if any of the techniques in them could be real as well.

It took him time and a lot of guesswork, but Naruto succeeded in learning the jutsu. Ever since then, he kept a journal of everything he deemed important from the few dreams he got each night. Justus to try, strategies to use, fighting styles to learn, and more.

Much more.

As time progressed, Naruto quickly saw patterns and similarities in the dreams he was having. Things that, though may have been slightly different each time, were the same at the core. Deciding to test if some of the things he saw was true, one night Naruto meditated for hours. Trying as hard as he could to enter his subconscious. Once he finally did, all his fears were confirmed...

"Remembering how we first met?" The Kyuubi suddenly spoke, bemused.

'Shut up. I don't want to talk to you today.' Naruto inwardly responded icily.

"Ooooooooh, so cold. And here I thought you'd enjoy a little company. After all, it's your birthday." The Kyuubi responded, amused.

'As if I'd want to talk to YOU of all people. It's because of YOU that my birthday is hell for me.' Naruto shot back angrily.

"Mmmm... True. But I could just as easily give you the power to make this day hell for all that torment you. All you have to do is let me out of this cage." The Kyuubi tempted.

'Yeah, you'd give me the power to do just as you said. But in the process I'd lose my sanity and mind. I don't feel snapping today so I only have three words for you: Leave. Me. Alone.' Naruto responded angrily.

"Oh, don't be like that Naruto-kun. After how helpful I've been to you telling you about your parents. Not to mention how much I slowed down my flow of chakra into you. I don't think I deserve the cold shoulder." The Kyuubi responded in a sickeningly sweet tone.

'You only told me about my parents to try to get me to fly into a rage so you could take control.' Naruto responded bitterly. He almost had. Luckily, he had been with Ikura at the time who had been able to calm the boy down.

'And you restricted your flow of chakra because you said you hated how your poisoned chakra was hindering my ability to retain long term memory, making me stupid, and thus, a weak container. And that I promised to remodel my mindscape for you. So I owe you nothing. Now leave me alone and LET ME SLEEP!' Naruto inwardly yelled.

The Kyuubi let off a short melodic yet evil laugh before responding, "Fine, kit. Sweet dreams..." The Kyuubi said before she laughed once more, fading from his mind as she crept back into her cage...

'Finally.' Naruto thought exhaustedly before returning to his musing.

It amazed him how he could change so much in just a couple of months. Between actually being able to learn, seeing what he saw in his dreams, and finding out about his parents he had drastically changed. He was still kicking himself for wearing that horrid jumpsuit for as long as he did. It was no surprise that the mob was able to find him so easily the last few years. That had changed though, Naruto thought as he glanced at the wet clothes on the floor. Now his regular garb included a long sleeve dark green shirt, dark tan cargo pants, and black ninja sandals. And in one of his cargo pockets was, of course, his trusty goggles. He may have had idiotic reasons for getting them in the first place, but they came in handy. Naruto changed his clothes for the simple reason that the dang jumpsuit stood out way too much. To be a ninja was to be unseen, and since Naruto actually gained some mental capacity, he had tried his hardest to do just that. Since the wardrobe change he had been able to blend in easier, avoiding more beatings and the like.

His dreams had also changed him. Seeing so many different perspectives he could take in life had altered his personality. He was still hyperactive and childish at times, but now he also knew there was a time to be reserved. He could still smile and laugh, still have fun and love others, but he know also knew pain and sorrow, the feelings of hate and betrayal. Suffice it to say, Naruto had matured a lot in the last few months.

Then there was the situation with his parents.

He still was unsure exactly how he felt about being the son of the fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze. The man had been his idol for quite some time. He, once, had been what he wanted to be one day. Now there was this slow creeping hate for him. He didn't want to hate his own father, someone who only wanted him to be seen as a hero for having the Kyuubi sealed within him. But when the village completely disregarded his father's wishes and turned his life into a hell that he desperately wanted to escape, it was hard not to. It was a battle he was slowly losing every day within himself.

And he wasn't even sure he wanted to win.

On the other hand, Naruto really wished he could have met his mother, Kushina Uzumaki. She had to endured much of the same ridicule as he had, and she had made it through in one piece. She had become a respectful ninja of the village, found a man that she had loved, and had tried to start a family.

'I guess your luck was about as bad as mine, mom.' Naruto thought to himself idly before finally feeling the sweet embrace of sleep take him...

(Three Months Later)

The sun was rising, the air still holding it's slight crispness from the night before, and the people of the village hidden in the leaves were beginning their day. The same held true for Naruto who, after not being able to sleep at all the night before due to nightmares, forced himself to head to the academy in a rather grumpy mood. It was once again the first day of classes, though this didn't cause any excitement to the boy. He had already had several first days of school after all his previous failures.

Grinning for a brief moment, Naruto knew this year he would pass without a problem. He had learned from one of his dreams, and thanks to experimentation, confirmed that he retained his experience and memories from his shadow clones. With that knowledge, and vastly improved long term memory, Naruto had spent a lot of time in the library studying. He found out that the reason he couldn't do the regular clone technique was due to the fact of his almost non-existent chakra control due to his previous state's stupidity and exceptionally large chakra reserves. After discovering this, Naruto spend nearly all his extra time training his chakra control through various techniques he learned from scouring the library. He had so little control in his life- no control over where he lived, when the mobs would attack, when he could visit the Hokage- that anything he could control he tried to do so to the absolute best of his ability. So everyday he made as many shadow clones as he could and trained his chakra control. He still trained in other aspects but focused mainly on controlling his ocean of chakra. And though the Kyuubi never admitted it, she was somewhat impressed with the young boy. His control went from practically nothing to that of a strong chunin, borderline jounin in proportion to the amount of chakra he had in just three months.

Naruto had also been attempting to recreate various techniques he had seen in his dreams, but so far had next to no success. He figured it was due to absolutely abysmal chakra control. Debating on which technique he would attempt to recreate from his dreams after school that day, Naruto found himself walking into the classroom of the advanced class. As he headed for his seat towards the back right side of the class, he looked at the few other people that had arrived early like him. Most he recognized slightly due to seeing them last year in the class below him. None of them seemed to stand out though. Shrugging to himself, he sat down and, taking a leaf out of his pocket, stuck it to his forehead. Figuring that if he had to wait he might as well train too instead of making the hundreds of shadow clones he had made earlier and sent off into the forest do all the work. He couldn't care less that it made him look like an idiot.

As he sat there, focusing as hard as he could to use as little chakra as was needed to keep the leaf where it was, he watched more and more students trickle in. Most were just from civilian families and weren't all that notable but a few caught Naruto's eye. There were several clan heirs in this class. The thought of not really realizing this sooner made Naruto shake his head in disbelief at how freakin stupid he had been, which almost made the leaf fall off. Much to Naruto's happiness, however, he was able to keep it stuck to his forehead. As he refocused on keeping the leaf where it was, he suddenly heard a lot of squealing. Turning, he saw that none other than Sasuke Uchiha had walked in, causing practically every girl in the room to go nuts. Two in particular, Naruto was pretty sure one was the heiress to the Yamanaka clan and the other a civilian's daughter dressed in pink, fought viciously for the only seat next to Sasuke. Naruto rolled his eyes and in doing so he noticed that the only girl in the room that didn't go crazy over Sasuke's entrance was one sitting in the back on the left side. He stared at her a moment. Something about her felt familiar... Before long, he bopped his open left hand with his right. That was Hinata Hyuuga, heiress to her clan. Naruto just guessed she wasn't into emo's, shrugged, and then went back to waiting for class to start.

After all the students were in their seats and talking amongst themselves, Ikura walked in. "Alright, settle down class. It's time we got started..." Iruka began to say. But when he noticed that no one was listening, he cleared his throat then very loudly shouted, "SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET RIGHT THIS INSTANT OR I'LL HAVE YOU ALL DOING EXTRA HOMEWORK FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS!" All while utilizing the infamous Big Head Jutsu. It worked like a charm, getting the entire class to shut up instantly. Naruto merely smirked at the show, having seen it so often before.

"I'd like to welcome you all back to your final year in the academy. Work hard so that you may become proud shinobi of Konoha! We'll start with introductions first, then I'll go into your projected schedule for the year and..." Iruka started off.

Naruto, however, quickly zoned him out having heard it all before. Looking out the window, he saw rain clouds in the distance. At first he frowned at the thought of training in the rain but shortly after smiled. This would give him a chance to try out some of the water jutsu he had seen in his dreams. He knew he wouldn't have much of a chance pulling any of them off due to him not even touching any sort of elemental training but the thought was just too enticing not to try. Hoping the rainclouds wouldn't leave before school got out, Naruto pulled out his small journal and began trying to figure out which moves he wanted to try first and which ones he might have a small chance in actually performing.

As he was contemplating just how to go about the first jutsu he had decided on, Iruka got to his name.

"Alright, Naruto. Introduce yourself and list a few likes, dislikes, and dreams." Iruka said, but soon saw that he was being completely ignored as Naruto just stared out the window. "Naruto! It's your turn!" Still no response. A vein beginning to show on Iruka's head in anger, he quickly grabbed a piece of chalk and threw it at high speeds straight at Naruto's head. It connected with a loud snap as it broke into several pieces against the suddenly very alert boy. The sudden start and headache caused Naruto to lose concentration and drop his leaf.

"What the heck, Iruka-sensei!" Naruto suddenly yelled back, holding the side of his head and glaring.

"You were the one that started daydreaming and wouldn't pay attention. You should know better to do that by now. It's your turn. Introduce yourself." Iruka said, still annoyed with the boy.

Naruto huffed, "Fine. Whatever. I'm Naruto Uzumaki. I like ramen and learning new things," This caused Iruka's eyebrow to raise slightly at the new addition from last year, "I dislike the time it takes ramen to cook. As for my goal... that one's easy, I'm going to be HOKAGE ONE DAY!" The boy finished loudly, ending up standing on his desk while pumping a fist in the air.

This only caused the kids in class that knew of him and his constant failure to laugh at him.

"You? Really? Hahahahaha! This guy is too much!" One random civilian born kid asked while laughing.

"How many times have you failed again? You sure you shouldn't aim your goal a little lower? Hahahahahaha!" A kid with glasses suggested.

Several others put in their own input, laughing the entire time. This was quickly cut short, however, when Iruka had had enough. "QUIET DOWN!" He roared before turning a worried glance to Naruto. He was shocked when Naruto looked him right in the eye, shrugged like it was no big deal, then picked the leaf he had been using earlier back up and placing it back on his forehead. To say the least Iruka was shocked. He had expected Naruto to start defending his claim to hide his sadness, not shrug it off like it was nothing. He was going to need to talk to Naruto after class. Iruka recovered quickly continued with what he had planned for the day.

The day went by slowly as the sleep deprived Naruto sat there training with his leaf. Too slowly in his opinion. He was anxious to try out the water jutsu he had seen. After what seemed like forever, the day finally came to a close. Stretching in his seat, Naruto stood up to leave as Iruka dismissed the class. However, Iruka stopped him before he could speed off.

"Naruto, I need to speak you. Please stay behind." He said as the other kids filed out.

"Ahhhh! Do I have to? I wanted to go train!" Naruto whined as he walked up to Iruka, the classroom almost completely empty.

Iruka waited till the last of his students left till he responded. Deciding to cut right to the chase, he quickly asked. "Naruto, I can tell something's changed about you. What happened? Are you ok?" Genuine concern in his voice.

Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head as he answered, "Heh, you noticed that did you? Everything's fine Iruka-sensei, I guess I just grew up a bit over the break." He finished with a smile.

"Is that so? Tell me something, have you been training by keeping that leaf on your forehead all throughout class today?" Iruka asked.

"You noticed that too huh?" Naruto said with a light laugh, leaf still on his forehead, "Yeah I have. I read in a book at the library that people with large chakra reserves normally have really poor control even if they train it. I realized that that was the reason why I couldn't create a clone all this time so I decided to train my butt off till I could! I'm definitely going to pass this year! Believe it!" Naruto finished with enthusiasm. He may not show it as much anymore cause he realized it made him stand out more, but he was more than comfortable enough around Iruka-sensei at this point that he showed it without worry.

Iruka, suffice it to say, was stunned. Naruto in a library? Naruto learning something in a library? And about something as complex as chakra control? He wordlessly tried to dispel a genjutsu just to make sure this was real. When nothing happened, he realized that Naruto certainly had changed, and apparently for the better. "That's great Naruto! To celebrate, how about I treat you to some ramen?" Iruka said, happy as could be that Naruto was finally succeeding, and on his own at that.

"Really!? You mean it!?" Naruto asked excitedly. At Iruka's nod, he leapt up in the air. "YAHOO! I'M GUNNA EAT RAMEN TONIGHT!" He yelled before calming down a little, a look of remembrance on his face. "You mind if we meet up later, sensei? I wanted to go to the library to read some more then train some, too! Can we go after?" He asked, almost pleading so not to miss out on ramen.

Iruka once again was stunned, even more so than last time. Naruto was putting off ramen to train and, of all things, study!? He really had changed. Iruka shook his head in amazement, "Sure thing Naruto, what time do you think you'll be done?"

Naruto crossed his arms and though about it for a moment. "Hmm... how does 8:30 sound to you, Iruka-sensei?"

"Sounds good to me. Just promise me you won't over train, ok? I'm sure keeping that leaf on your forehead all day wasn't easy. I don't want you collapsing from chakra exhaustion." Iruka said

"I promise!" Naruto said with a smile, "Alright, later Iruka-sensei!" Naruto said as he left the room.

Naruto left the academy in much higher spirits than he had entered in. Weariness from lack of sleep forgotten, Naruto was about to start heading for the library when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.

Or more specifically, someone.

Hinata Hyuga stood next to the gate of the academy, looking around frantically. The girl looking more and more distraught as time went on. The sight made Naruto curious. Shrugging, he made three shadow clones. "Go study up at the library guys, I'm going to check something out."

"Sure thing boss."

"You got it."

"Will do."

The three clones replied before henging into three completely average looking kids and heading off. Naruto looked back to the distraught Hyuga to find her continuing to look around in every direction, every so often checking the sun to see what time it was, though failing due to the cloud ridden sky. 'Weird. What is up with her?' Naruto pondered as he debated on just going over to talk to her or watching for a while longer. His answer, however, was made for him when, after a few more minutes of looking around frantically, the girl quickly ran off. Checking the position of the clouds to when they would start their downpour, Naruto decided he had more than enough time and decided to follow her.

Henging himself to look like a cat, the young ninja leapt rooftop to rooftop and quickly spotted the girl running through the village. As he followed her, he wondered why she looked so frightened. Was traveling through the village alone in the middle of the afternoon really that scary? It's not like she was the container of the nine tailed fox like he was. It wasn't long before Naruto was able to figure out that she was headed to the clan compound. Why the fear then? Was she going to get in trouble if she didn't get home in time? Shaking his head in disinterest, Naruto decided it would be a waste of time to continue to follow the girl. Changing direction, the cat headed for one of the lesser used training grounds. As he did he looked at the exceedingly dark clouds lightly rumbling overhead. Anyone could tell that they would burst anytime now. He figured he would have just enough time to get out to the training grounds before they did. However something stopped him right in his tracks.

The sound of a girl screaming.

It was only for a split second because it was almost immediately muffled out. The fact that it came from right where he had been not seconds before instantly told Naruto who had made the noise. Dropping his henge to move more naturally, Naruto moved as quickly as he could towards where he figured the girl was in danger. Coming to a well secluded back alley, he saw Hinata being dragged by two men farther into the alleyway while simultaneously being tied up. The girl was struggling as best she could but was quickly subdued when one of the men punched her hard in the gut, knocking the wind out of her. Naruto cursed, where was the village's ANBU when you needed them? Or the girl's guard for that matter? Wasn't she the heiress? Shaking his head to focus on the task at hand, he formed five shadow clones.

"Three of you circle around and pincer them. Don't let them escape no matter what!" Then pointing to the nearest one to him, he said, "You go get help," Then to the last one, "You're with me. Let's go!"

All five clones nodded and the three headed off to stop the kidnappers while the single one went to go get help. Naruto and his clone then quickly charged the two men who had just made it around the corner of the alley and out of sight. Quickly rounding the corner, Naruto shouted to slow them down, "Hey! Stop right there!"

The two men were in the middle of finishing tying the girl up when Naruto did so. They both shot their heads up at the noise. "What! I thought you said no one was around, Ryu!" One of the men, who was about six foot, had black greasy hair and wore all dark clothing and a trench coat, said to the other.

"No one was a second ago, Kenchi!" Ryu replied hastily. He was about five foot two, had a completely bald head, and was wearing an outfit similar to his companion.

Whipping out a kunai, Naruto threatened, "Let her go or you'll regret it!" It was then that he noticed both men wore their forehead protectors as belts, protectors with the symbol for Kumo ninja crossed out.

"Let's kill these brats quickly and get this job over with." Kenchi said menacingly while he pulled out a cleaver from inside his trench coat.

"Agreed." Ryu said, who unceremoniously dropped the tied up Hinata and pulled out two nasty looking daggers.

Naruto wasn't liking his odds. Not only was he facing ninja from a different country, but missing-nin at that, and ones that were good enough to infiltrate the village and attempt to kidnap the hyuuga's heiress in broad daylight. Well, not exactly daylight considering it was at that moment the clouds above had decided to unleash their barely held contents. As it began to pour, the two men charged Naruto and his clone. Hoping his other clones would get there soon, Naruto charged back, blocking a downward chop from Kenchi's cleaver with his kunai. 'KAMI this guy is strong!' Naruto inwardly exclaimed as he pumped some of his chakra through is body to hold the cleaver back. Kenchi just responded to the increase in strength to more strength of his own. As Naruto was slowly pushed down to one knee he saw out of the corner of his eye that his clone was in a similar predicament, doing his best to fend off Ryu's daggers with two kunai. Naruto felt Kenchi put even more strength against his cleaver. He knew he was about to be overpowered when he heard a pop to his left.

"What? A damn clone! Arg!" He heard Ryu yell.

Just as he did though, Kenchi suddenly yelled in pain letting up his assault on Naruto to step back and turn around to see one of the clones grinning with a bloody kunai in hand. Naruto didn't waste this chance as he charged forward and cut deeply on the back of the man's leg, right at the knee joint. Howling in pain, Kenchi clutched the wound as best as he could as he fell to the ground. The clone, seeing the opening, charged forward and embedded his kunai right into the man's right eye socket deeply, killing him. The clone and Naruto turned to see that one of the other clones that had been distracting Ryu pop from taking a hit. Naruto then broke out with a large smile, already feeling victorious from the information he just got from the clone that had died. While the real Naruto was distracted by the influx of memory, the clone that had killed Kenchi charged forward, only to be taken out in two swift movements.

"It seems you aren't to be taken lightly. I'll end this now." Ryu said, uncaring his partner had died and now deadly serious.

As he spoke his daggers began to crack and spark as he channeled lightning chakra through them. In one swift movement, he came at Naruto, thrusting one of his daggers straight at his face faster than he could evade. Naruto, reacting on pure instinct, threw up his left arm to shield the deadly blow. The dagger went straight through his arm like a hot knife through butter, splitting his bone in two. Stopping at the hilt, the blade stopped barely an inch away from his face. Finally, the lightning channeled through the blade sent a nasty shock all throughout his body, the shock was also enhanced due to him being soaked.

"AAAAAHHH!" Naruto cried in pain as he dropped to his knees but managed to keep the blade from his face. Ryu, however, merely went to stab him with his other dagger. But then suddenly froze stock still. Before Naruto could react, a woman suddenly came out of nowhere and punched the missing-nin, at the same time placing a tag with a seal on his chest. This caused him to pass out unceremoniously. As Naruto regained feeling throughout his body and held his pierced arm, he got a better look at the woman who had come to his rescue. She stood about five foot six, had black, shoulder length, untamed hair, and red eyes. She wore a red mesh armour blouse with only the right sleeve visible. Over this she had on very broad material which resembled bandages with a pattern on it similar to those of rose thorns. Her hands and upper thighs were also wrapped in bandages.

"Boss are you ok!?" The clone that had gone to get help asked worriedly as he ran over to Naruto who was numb all over but also had a searing pain throughout his entire body.

Grunting as his clone helped him lean against the side of the closest wall, he ripped out the dagger and then responded, "Y-yeah. I'll be fine. No worries." He got out through gritted teeth, idly noticing that it had stopped raining.

"You ok, kid?" The woman asked as she hurried over to him after quickly tying up Ryu and immediately began inspecting Naruto's arm, causing him to freeze up, despite her words of concern fearing it was just a trick.

"Relax, boss. She's Hinata's escort!" The clone explained, when he did Naruto relaxed, but only ever so slightly. "I'm going to let the other one know the battle's over, boss. You ok with that?" He asked. After Naruto nodded, he dispelled.

As he did, he got the memories of the clone heading as quick as he could back to the academy, fully intent on getting Iruka to help but instead running into the woman who had rescued him. When she forced him to stop his mad dash, asking if he knew where Hinata was, he quickly lead her here, explaining that he and Hinata were in danger, him only being a clone sent to get help and explaining why he was in the middle of a kidnapping in the first place.

"We need to get you to a hospital soon." The woman said with authority as she unwrapped her left arm and used the wrappings to cover his wound, deciding to find out how the kid knew a forbidden jutsu when he wasn't even a shinobi yet till another time, "But first I want to know where Hinata is. You're clone said both you and her were in danger."

"One of my other clones took her away from the battle," Naruto explained, quick healing allowing him to think straight with a clear head, the pain from the electrocution almost gone, "But since that one just dispelled he should be headed back with her."

The woman hid her shock. An academy student that could make not one, but two shadow clones? Instead of voicing her thoughts she nodded, "Good," Then smiled," I really have to thank you for what you did. It was really brave and I'm sure you saved Hinata's life." Then she had a look like she just remembered something, "I'm Kurenai Yuhei, Hinata's escort." She said holding out her hand.

"Naruto Uzumaki." Naruto said with a grin and shook her hand. 'The Kyuubi kid...' Kurenai inwardly thought.

It was then that his clone jumped down into the alleyway, carrying an unconscious, now untied, Hinata bridal style. When he did, Kurenai rushed over to him, "Hinata!"

"It's ok, she just passed out from the shock of what happened. She isn't hurt." The clone informed as he passed over Hinata to Kurenai then went over to Naruto to help him to his feet.

Kurenai sighed in relief when she had finished checking that what the clone had said was indeed true. Still holding Hinata, she turned around to face Naruto, "I need you to tell me everything that happened from the beginning. But first we need to take care of this mess and get you to the hospital."

Naruto grimaced at the thought of going to the hospital, having been there so many times in the past. But he also knew that it would take a while for his arm to repair, even with his accelerated healing. Nodding, Naruto finally found his feet, so he dispelled the last shadow clone. Not a moment too soon, because just after he did so several ANBU leapt into the alleyway.

'Bout damn time...' Naruto inwardly grumbled as one of the ANBU operatives wearing a bear face mask spoke, "Kurenai-san, what happened."

"Attempted kidnapping. Luckily I was able to stop it, thanks to Naruto slowing down their escape. He needs medical attention immediately. Other than that, everyone is fine. After I get Hinata to the safety of her home I'll give a full report to the Hokage, Bear-san." Kurenai responded.

As she did, Naruto inwardly started freaking out. 'How am I supposed to explain being able to use Shadow Clones? If I tell them I learned them from my dreams they'll think I'm crazy and lock me up! Oh man what do I do!?

Bear nodded, "I'll make sure Naruto gets treated and meet up with you there for debrief."

Kurenai nodded back and replied, "See you then." Before she jumped off, heading for the compound.

"I leave the rest to you." Bear said to the other ANBU there before grabbing Naruto and Shushining to the hospital.

Naruto was glad that Bear had volunteered to take him to the hospital. Out of practically all the other ANBU, Bear was one of the ones that actually helped the kid whenever he was assigned to watch over the boy unlike the others that would just leave the kid to his own devices or help mobs find him. After getting his arm healed by one of the medic ninja on duty, Naruto and Bear headed for the Hokage's tower. The whole time, Naruto began to get more and more nervous, unsure how to get out of this situation. By the time they got to the outside of the Hokage's door, Naruto was so nervous he was in a light sweat. Bear opened the door and the two of them went inside to find that Kurenai was already there, waiting for them.

As Naruto shut the door behind him, the Hokage began, "Now that we're all finally here, you can tell me why I have two Kumo missing-nin currently being interrogated." The Hokage said while looking at Kurenai, idly noticing Naruto's wardrobe change.

"Of course, Hokage-sama, I'll start at the beginning. This afternoon I was headed to pick up Hinata from the academy and take her back home, as usual, when I was stopped by a man looking for his missing daughter. I didn't know it at the time, but the man was under a Genjutsu, I assume it was from one of the two that tried to kidnap Hinata. I decided to help the man, thinking that being a little late wouldn't hurt. What I didn't know was that when the man shook my hand in gratitude when I agreed to help, a genjutsu was put on me as well. Luckily, I was able to recognize what was happening early enough to break free and look for Hinata. It was then that I heard the girl scream momentarily when they initially took her. I headed towards the source of the sound as fast as I could. There I found Naruto fighting off the two shinobi as best as he could. I had to kill one of them to prevent him from taking out Naruto and was able to incapacitate the other with a genjutsu. I think you know the rest Hokage-sama." Kurenai finished.

The Hokage merely nodded and looked at Naruto, "And how did you end up fighting the two shinobi?"

Naruto, however, was in a state of shock. 'Did, did she just lie? She just lied. For me. What the heck!?' Luckily, Naruto was able to recover enough to respond when the question was directed at him, "W-well, I had stayed back after school to talk to Iruka-sensei. When I left, I noticed two guys following one of my classmates. I got curious and followed, only to see them kidnap the girl. I didn't think anyone would believe me if I tried to go get help, so I tried to stop them on my own. That's when Kurenai-san showed up and saved both of us." Naruto quickly lied, years of having to live dealing with the worst the village could throw at him coming in handy.

Sarutobi nodded, "Very well." He said, writing something down on a piece of paper before replying, "And well done, Naruto. If it wasn't for your bravery, Kurenai may not have gotten there in time. You saved your classmates life."

"Hehehehe, gee it really isn't that big of a deal." Naruto replied while scratching the back of his head in an embarrassed manner to hide him freaking out about Kurenai lying for him.

"I believe that's all I need. Thank you both once more. Bear, could you please escort Naruto back home?" The Hokage asked but before Bear could respond, Kurenai spoke up.

"That's ok, Hokage-sama. I can take Naruto home. I've got to run an errand in that direction anyway."

"Very well," Sarutobi said while nodding, "Dismissed."

Naruto got increasingly more wary and nervous as Kurenai lead him out of the Hokage's tower and down the street. The two walked in silence for a while before Kurenai suddenly stretched, "Man, I'm glad I was able to pull that off. For a moment there, I thought he would see through my lie. You didn't do half bad either, spilling that B.S. like that without a second thought. Good job."

Naruto had jumped slightly when Kurenai spoke, ready to bolt if he needed to, but was soon surprised by what she said, openly admitting to lying to the Hokage. After listening to her, he carefully responded in a whisper, "Why did you lie for me?"

"Why? Hmmmm... good question..." Kurenai said while propping her right arm up with her left and grabbing her chin in a contemplative manner, "I guess I thought I owed you one. You saved Hinata after all. She's like a little sister to me. But don't think you're going to get away without explaining how you can perform that Jutsu. If I don't like the story you tell me, I'll march you straight back to the Hokage's office and admit to everything." Kurenai said, causing Naruto to freeze up once more in fear.

He wasn't sure how he could explain how he knew the Shadow Clone Jutsu but he also didn't want to get in trouble with the Hokage, one of the only people he cared about. Naruto's musing were cut short, however, when Kurenai spoke again, "But first things first. I'm starving! Time to find some food. Anything in particular you in the mood for?" She asked, looking at the tense Naruto.

'Well I was supposed to meet Iruka there soon anyway... maybe I can use him as a distraction.' Naruto thought before replying, "Ramen sound good?"

"Ramen?" Kurenai asked.

"Yeah, ramen! I just so happen to know where they make the best ramen on earth. Is that ok with you?" Naruto asked back, still unsure around the red eyed jounin.

Kurenai laughed lightly before answering, "Sure, why not? I haven't had ramen in a while. Lead the way."

Nodding, Naruto did just that. It was odd, against all his logic to not trust the woman, her easygoing attitude had a calming effect on the blonde. By the time they had made it to Ichurakus, he was much more relaxed, though still inwardly wary of her. Walking into the stand, the two were greeted by Ayame, "Hey Naruto!"

"Hey, Ayame-nee-san!" Naruto responded. "Where's the old man?"

"Dad had to run out to grab a few things. Who's your friend?" Ayame asked.

"This is Kurenai-san. I just met her today, she's one of my classmates escorts." Naruto said.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Ayame." She said to Kurenai.

"A pleasure to meet you." Kurenai said with a smile.

"What will the two of you be having?"

"Beef ramen please!" Naruto replied without hesitation. Impending interrogation or not, he was going to enjoy his ramen. Taking a moment to look over the menu, Kurenai ordered, "I think I'll try the extra spicy shrimp ramen."

"Coming right up!" Ayame said as she went to work.

"Alright, Naruto. I think you have some explaining to do." Kurenai said, now completely serious. "How did you learn the Shadow Clone Jutsu?"

Naruto began to sweat lightly. He had only come up with two options while they had traveled to the Ramen stand, neither that he liked. But Kurenai had saved his butt from the Hokage, so she deserved at least some sort of explanation. Not wanting to tell the truth, be seen as crazy, and be locked up the rest of his life, Naruto went with option two, though it was just as, if not more, risky. 'Time for you to take some flak for me, Kyuubi.' Naruto inwardly thought, though mostly to himself, then braced himself. "Well Kurenai-san... to tell you the truth, the Kyuubi taught me."

"What?" Kurenai responded, to say the least, she was stunned. Out of all the things to come out of the boy's mouth, that wasn't something she thought would. The kid knew he was the container of the Nine Tailed Fox? And not only that, but he had been in contact with it and was learning ninjutsu from it? Kurenai didn't know what to say, so ended up saying the first thing that came to mind, "You know you're the..."

"The Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi? Yeah, I figured that out a while ago." Naruto said quietly so Ayame wouldn't hear.

Still in shock, Kurenai intelligently replied, "How?"

"It happened shortly after I failed the last exam." That much was true, "A mob caught me and was beating me. They tormented me and kept throwing insults at me, calling me worthless. They just kept going and going, never seeming to stop. I just, just got so angry. I unconsciously tapped into the fuzzbutt's chakra." That was a lie, "I was able to survive and escape thanks to that. The Kyuubi made contact with me a few days after the encounter. That's how it happened." That last part was also a lie, but with that first bit of truth in there and the shock she was experiencing she hopefully wouldn't be able to notice. At least, Naruto hoped she wouldn't.

Kurenai took a moment to process this information. The kid, who was supposed to be protected from finding out he was a jinchuriki via the Thirds law, found out inadvertently because a mob attacked him. She had heard about how bad the kid had had it, but shrugged most of it off as exaggeration, never seeing the incidents take place with her own eyes. But for Naruto to be put through one that he felt threatened enough and angry enough to draw upon the beasts power, it must had been bad. Kurenai unconsciously clenched her fists, the heat of anger growing from within. She had always had a soft spot for kids, that's why she became a Jounin instructor in the first place, due to her being picked on when she was little because of her red eyes. She wondered about the other stories concerning Naruto being true. The thought that they could have even been half true mad her angry all the more. Not anymore. Not if she had anything to say about it.

"K-Kurenai-san?" Naruto nervously whispered.

The sound brought her out of her inner musing. Looking at Naruto, she realized her rage must have been written all over her face seeing how scared the boy looked and how he was on the edge of his stool, ready to run at any moment. "Sorry," She said as calm and soothing as she could, "I just dislike those that pick on others that are different. I'm sure you've had a hard life because of people just like that." She said sadly.

Naruto relaxed as she did, breathing a slight sigh of relief, "Yeah..." He said quietly.

It was then that Ayame had finished their order, "Here you two go! One Beef and one Extra Spicy Shrimp Ramen!" She said cheerfully.

As she did, Naruto instantly perked up, "Come to pappa!" He said eagerly and began tearing into the dish. Kurenai smiled at his enthusiasm before starting on hers. After a short time of the two of them eating their food, Kurenai spoke, "So, Naruto." This instantly got his attention, he didn't stop eating, but it was noticeable how much slower he was at the task now, "What are we going to do about this?"

Naruto paused, slurped up the noodles in his mouth and then set his chopsticks down, "Can we... just not tell anyone?" At this Kurenai raised an eyebrow, "I mean, if we did, then the old man wouldn't have a reason to keep the law that says no one can talk about the fox. I think that... I fear that the mobs will get worse if people knew that I knew. Especially if they knew I was ok with it." This made Kurenai raise both eyebrows in shock. She looked like she was about to speak when Naruto cut her off, "I know what you're thinking. How could anyone be ok with having a being of pure rage and malice sealed inside of them? I mean, no one would willingly want that, but I understand why it had to be done. Why the Fourth had to seal it in me. And when I look at it that way, I'm ok with it. 'For now, at least...' "But, I just feel it would be better if no one knew. Can't we just leave the way things are?" Naruto finished, looking up at Kurenai with pleading eyes.

Kurenai almost couldn't hold herself back from enveloping the boy in a hug and telling him everything would be ok. The idea that had been forming in her head since her small flare of rage earlier solidified. She would help this kid. She refused to do anything less. She smiled ever so slightly before speaking, "I think I can agree to that, on a few conditions."

Naruto instantly brightened when she answered only to frown in suspicion at her mention of conditions. "What are they?" He asked wearily.

"I can't have you running around learning whatever techniques the Kyuubi sees fit to teach you without someone to watch over you to make sure you don't hurt yourself. So my first condition is that you train under me." This made Naruto's eyes widen in shock. She was going to train him? He wasn't even a full-fledged ninja yet either! "If I'm going to be your sensei, that means that you'll have to do as I say when it pertains to training. And as of right now, I don't want you using any techniques unless I say you're allowed to use them. So no more Shadow Clones till I'm satisfied that you won't make more than you are able and kill yourself." This made Naruto frown. "Second, I want you to fill me in as much as you can about your contact with the Kyuubi. What it tries to do, what it tells you, what it teaches you, whenever you use it's chakra, everything. Understand?" Naruto nodded, not sure he'd be able to lie his way out of that condition. "Thirdly, if I decide that we ever need to bring all of this to the Hokage for any reason, you go without a fuss. And, if I think we need more people in on our little secret, I can and will do so. Sound like a deal?"

Naruto stared at his mostly eaten bowl of ramen and thought about his options. If he said no she'd probably just haul his butt straight back to the old man. But if he said yes, he'd get a sensei to train him to be an actual shinobi, something he desperately wanted. She may restrict him in the beginning, but it would be worth it in the long run. That, and he'd finally have someone to talk to about the Kyuubi. That sealed the deal for him, he smiled, a true smile, "When do we start, Kurenai-sensei?"

She smiled right back, it felt good making the kid smile like that, "Tomorrow sound good?"

"Sounds great!" Naruto replied happily.

It was then that Iruka showed up, "Naruto! I should've known you'd already be here." He then noticed Kurenai. "Ah, Kurenai. What a pleasant surprise. I didn't know you liked ramen."

Kurenai shrugged, "There's nothing wrong with it. Besides, it's what the kid wanted to eat to celebrate."

"Celebrate?" Iruka asked.

Naruto instantly picked up on what Kurenai was doing and chimed in, "Oh man, Iruka sensei, you should have been there! I was so awesome!" Naruto then told Iruka what had happened earlier, slightly altered of course. When Iruka expressed his disbelief, Kurenai convinced him otherwise, telling her part in the altered story. By the end of it, Iruka was thoroughly impressed.

"I'm so proud of you, Naruto! Noticing something was off, then fearlessly stepping in to save a classmate! There really is cause for celebration! Eat as much as you want, Naruto. It's all on me." Iruka said.

"Really? You serious!?" Naruto asked, stars in his eyes.

Iruka chuckled, "Go wild."

"YAHOO! Ayame-nee-san, keep the bowls coming!" Naruto exclaimed.

"A round of ramen for the hero, coming right up!" Ayame said, having heard the story as well.

(Later that night...)

Naruto lay in his bed, trying to sleep, though he knew it was in vain. During the whole event it really didn't have time to hit him till then, today he had taken his first kill. It shouldn't have bothered him that much though, it was an enemy ninja trying to harm one of his classmates and above all Konoha. Now to be frank with himself, Naruto really didn't care much for his village. He viewed the village as its people, and most of them hated him. But if he was to become a shinobi, he had to have loyalty to his village. So he would protect it, but only because he had to. But that still didn't take away from the fact that the man he killed had tried to kill him, so it shouldn't be affecting him this bad. But it was. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw him killing the man. Saw the man's lifeless eye as he lay on the ground dead, blood pooling underneath him from the wounds Naruto had inflicted. He felt himself sticking his Kunai deep into the man's skull, right through his eye. It made him feel sick.

"Having trouble sleeping?" The Kyuubi suddenly asked with an all to knowing voice.

'You.' Naruto thought with rage. 'You're doing this to me, aren't you?'

The Kyuubi laughed, "I wish that I could claim that, but you have no one to blame for this but yourself. Just can't get your mind off it can you? Not that I blame you. Killing is just so much fun. I have to thank you, I really didn't expect to experience bloodshed from you for a while yet. You certainly aim to please, don't you?"

Naruto could practically hear the smirk she had at the end of that, which only pissed him off even more. He knew that was what the Kyuubi wanted, but it was hard not to be drawn in. 'I did what I had to do. It was my first kill. I'll get over it.'

"You mean, you'll get used to it and then you'll enjoy it." The Kyuubi cut it.

'Shut up! I'm not listening to you anymore, fuzzbutt! Leave me alone!' Naruto inwardly shouted in a desperate attempt to get the fox to shut up. He really didn't want to deal with her right now.

"Oh, so you did notice my sexy ass last time you were in here. I was wondering if you did. You are a growing boy after all-" The Kyuubi said, only to be cut off by Naruto.

"SHUT UP!" He roared, and then noticed he had, in his rage, gone into his mindscape.

He stood in the middle of a vast, bright, white walled chamber. In front of him, tall bars like a prison barred his entrance into most of the room. The room itself was furnished with all a manner of odd furniture, giant throw pillows, mirrors, fountains, statues, one giant shogi board, and various other items. Naruto had totally revamped the place from a dark, dungy sewer into a vast white room, leaving the inside for the Kyuubi to decorate as she saw fit. He had done so to get the fox to slow down the flow of her chakra into his system. He didn't regret his decision. After all, who would want to be mentally handicapped due to chakra poisoning?

The Kyuubi lay sprawled out on one of said giant throw pillows, looking at Naruto with a raised eyebrow and a mischievous smile on her face. She was in a humanoid form. She sported dark orange red fur covering her body, though barely concealing anything, long fox ears and nine, ever swishing, tails. "Color me impressed. I didn't expect you to be such a man of action that you would come in here to claim me. And at such a young age too. You an early bloomer?"

"Why?" Naruto asked quietly, rage seeping through every word.

"Why what?" The Kyuubi asked curiously, very satisfied at the rage her container was showing.

"Why do you do it? Why do you torment me? Always pushing. Day and night. WHY!?" Naruto yelled.

"Because, my dear kit, I want free. And you are what stands in my way of that freedom. I will do whatever it takes to become free." The Kyuubi explained in a serious tone, but then instantly grinned evilly and switched back to her more mischievous one, "And it's just so much fun to torture you."

"Thanks to the way my dad sealed you in me, we both know that if I die you die, and I will blow myself up with an explosive tag before I ever let that happen." Naruto said dangerously.

The Kyuubi frowned at that. She had gotten carried away in her storytelling when she was telling him about his parents and had let that little detail slip. The boy had been so enraged at the time though that she had hoped he didn't remember. Apparently he did. "Why? To protect your oh so precious village? I thought you hated them." The Kyuubi shot back.

"Most of them? Yeah, I honestly could care less if you killed them right now. Even more so cause I'm not even a ninja yet. But, there are people I care about in this village. I'd take you with me just to protect them." Naruto said, deadly serious.

The Kyuubi growled at Naruto's declaration, but then quickly smiled and stood, walking over to him with a smooth flowing grace. As she did, Naruto took a step back from the cage, expecting a trick. Upon reaching the bars, the Kyuubi leaned against them in a very seductive way, "You've got a big mouth, Naruto-kun. But I know you. I've known you all your life. And if I know anything about you... it's that you are a coward." She finished, turning her smile into an evil one.

"What!? I'm no coward!" Naruto yelled back, caught off guard by the sudden shift.

"Oh really? Then let me ask you something, Naruto-kun. How many times have you tried to kill yourself, and failed?" The Kyuubi asked, triumphant smirk already on her face.

"What? What are you-" Naruto began but was cut off.

"Don't play dumb with me. I was there during each of your eight attempts. The seal recognized the danger you were in and alerted me. And every single time you tried, you couldn't go through with it, or just plain failed. You are a coward. Too afraid of death to take your own life. So I call your bluff. You aren't going to do jack shit." The Kyuubi countered.

Naruto felt like an idiot. Of course the seal had alerted her. He had hoped that since it was before he had got in touch with the fox that she wouldn't have been awake. He had found her the first time sleeping after all.

"Poor, poor Naruto-kun. All that pain. All that sorrow. That never ending abyss of being all alone. You took beatings, torture, rape and even though you were at the end of your rope, you still couldn't end your own life. Even your own genes are against you, after all, your advanced healing certainly didn't help that time you tried to cut your wrists." The Kyuubi smiled evilly at the now crying silently Naruto, "Look at you. First trying to hide it behind a mask of happiness, tomfoolery, and boundless energy. Now trying to hide it behind a mask of maturity and sense of purpose. It doesn't change the fact that you're still PATHETIC!"

"You're wrong about one thing." Naruto said amidst tears before looking the Kyuubi in the eyes. What she saw shocked her, there was a small spark of fire in his eyes. "I may be pathetic, but I'm not alone anymore. I have the old man, and even though he doesn't see me often, I'll be able to see him more once a become a ninja. I have Iruka-sensei. And now, I even have Kurenai-sensei. I'm not alone! With their help, I'm sure I can change! I won't be pathetic. I'll be strong! You'll see." Naruto finished with a glare, an air of promise about him as he said his final line. After which he phased out of the Kyuubi sight, signifying he had left his mindscape.

"Damn it. That completely backfired. Looks like it'll be next to impossible to break him that way. I'll have to change tactics..." The Kyuubi thought after his abrupt departure. Then she remembered his last words and thought with a smirk, "About kami damned time, kit..."

A/N: Hello all. I plan for this one to last longer than the last ff I posted. That one isn't dead, it's just on the back burner till this one is done. Once again, I apologize for all my shitty writing. But, in the off chance your into that sort of thing, Welcome! There will definitely be more to come. Critisim is always appreciated. Interesting ideas will be considered but not always taken. Flames will be met with laughter. If you don't like what you see don't conintue reading. Till next time.