Chapter I: Memories at the Gates

Konoha Main Gates:

Hinata had been waiting near the gate all day. A month and a half ago Team Seven had been given their first C-rank, the first to be assigned to a team from their graduating class. Last night Hinata had overheard a couple of Jonin gossiping about Team Seven.

"Did you hear?"

"Hear what?"

"Team Seven's on their way back. I overhead Kakashi's summon mention serious injuries."

"I hope it's the demon."

"That's not all; the dog claimed it was actually an A-rank! Said something about the Demon of the Bloody Mist and an army!"

"No way! There's no Genin team that could face Momochi Zabuza, they should be dead! Even Kakashi should have had a hard time against him."

"I'm not done yet! I didn't catch it all but it sounded like the demon almost escaped; I heard something about the seal weakening and five hundred dead!"

Hinata hoped Naruto was alright. There was so much she wanted to talk to him about, she hadn't even seen him since the day they were assigned their teams.

"What are you doing here?" one of the boys asked Naruto. "You didn't graduate!"

"Hey! Where'd you steal that Hitai-ate? We haven't got ours yet"

Just the Iruka-sensei entered the room, he wasn't wearing his Hitai-ate, and he looked like he just escaped from the hospital, he was limping heavily, his right arm was in a sling and his head was wrapped in bandages. Despite the injuries he seemed more cheerful than usual and even gave Naruto a friendly wave. "Due to Naruto's heroic actions apprehending a traitor last night, The Hokage, with my recommendation, has allowed Naruto to graduate. Now… It's time to assign you to your teams." Iruka began reading names off of a list. He kept having to stop to shout at Sakura and Ino who where arguing about who would end up on Sasuke's team, eventually he got to the all important team, "Team Seven will be Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura…"


"…And Uzumaki Naruto."


"Because Naruto failed his tests, and was only allowed to pass because he showed bravery and talent in an actual combat situation, he's dead lasting the class rankings. Traditionally the dead last gets paired up with the rookie of the year."


Hinata giggled when se remembered the look on Naruto's face when Iruka had called him the dead last. Naruto was so energetic and confident. Hinata wished she could be just like him.

Hinata was so lost in her memories of Naruto she almost didn't see Team Seven arrive. The first through the gate was Hatake Kakashi, their Jonin-sensei, followed closely by Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura. Each of them was clearly injured, Sasuke had his left arm in a cast and his face was swollen and bruised. Sakura's right leg was wrapped in bandages, she could barely walk on it and was leaning on Sasuke for support, and surprisingly she was completely quiet. She kept looking over her shoulder seemingly terrified of something following her. Kakashi was the worst off; it looked like he had been savaged by a wild beast, four ugly red scars covered the right side of his face, two on each side of his good eye. His right arm was in a cast similar to Sasuke's and he had to lean on a stick to walk. Even from where she sat Hinata could smell the blood on him, whatever his wounds were like under his clothes she was sure he was lucky to be alive.

Hinata watched the three of them enter the village; they made a beeline for the hospital and quickly disappeared into the crowds. But where was Naruto? Hinata waited Two minutes, Five Minutes, Ten… Hinata was nearly crying now, only her years of practice stopped from bursting into tears on the spot. But then she saw him trudging through the gate, and Hinata's heart nearly stopped. Instead of Naruto's normally cheerful orange jumpsuit he wore black mourner's clothes, instead of the traditional white belt; he wore a long blue green woman's sash around his waist. Slung over his shoulder was a coffin scroll, normally carried by team leaders to bring back fallen comrades. A dull grey sword that was almost twice Naruto's height was seemingly stuck to his back. But it was Naruto's face that worried Hinata. His normally bright blue eyes seemed dull and lifeless, instead of the happy smirk he usually wore; his mouth was locked into a frown. A profound sense of loss seemed to emanate from him.

Hinata had seen that look on Naruto's face before. The night he 'graduated'…

It all began when Naruto failed his test. Hinata watched Naruto from across the school yard. He was all by himself; other kids who had failed had parents to comfort them, even the other orphans had friends there for them, but Naruto was all alone. Hinata wanted to go to him, to comfort him, to tell him that she thought he was a better ninja then she was, that she believed in him…

Before she could work up the courage to approach him, Mizuki-sensei walked up to Naruto. 'Maybe he's going to cheer up Naruto?' Hinata thought as she crept closer to the two of them.

"…If you show him a Jutsu from that scroll He'll definitely pass you!" She heard Mizuki whisper to Naruto.

"All I have to do is get the scroll from the Hokage's office?"

"And learn one skill from it, then He'll let you graduate, I'm sure of it! But…" Mizuki paused, "You mustn't get caught before you return the scroll or you won't get any of the extra credit."

'An extra test then?' Hinata thought to her self, 'I've never heard anything about that…' But Naruto had already perked up and was grinning like an idiot again. 'That's better…' Hinata thought to her self, 'That's the way he should look all the time.'

Naruto set off as soon as Mizuki left. Hinata had a hard time following him, it always amazed her that someone wearing such bright clothes was so good at sneaking around. Hinata watched from the roof top across the street as Naruto shimmied up a drainpipe and onto a ledge barely an inch wide. Naruto pulled a small piece of wire from his pocket and used it to force the window catch open.

"What are you doing in my house?" Hinata heard a voice from inside the house. She quickly changed hiding spots so she could see into the house. 'No! The Hokage had caught Naruto!' she looked around was there anything she could use to distract the Hokage with?

But she didn't have to worry, "Orioke no Jutsu!" Naruto shouted and Hinata blushed. 'Was it wrong that she still liked the way he looked even when he did something like that?'

Moments later Naruto jumped back out of the window carrying a large black scroll with him. Hinata quickly followed after him. She almost lost him several times as he maneuvered over rooftops and, through side streets, while ducking and weaving through crowds that didn't seem to notice him.

Less than ten minutes after he had 'retrieved' the scroll he was safely hidden in a clearing in the woods. He sat down at the foot of a tree and unfurled the scroll.

'Let's see…" Hinata, who was hiding in the tree above him, heard him mutter to himself. "Kage Bunshin? Why does it have to be the one thing I'm bad at?" he grumbled a bit but immediately began practicing.

It took him hours to get the hang of the jutsu, but he refused to give up. And through it all Hinata sat in the tree above him silently cheering him on, when Naruto finally performed the jutsu she had to stop herself from cheering out loud. He practiced the jutsu several more times, until he was sure he could do it whenever he needed to. Sighing he sat at he foot of the tree and dozed off.

Hinata waited until he was snoring softly before she began to stand. But before she could get more than halfway out of her hiding place Iruka-sensei came crashing out of the undergrowth. "I found you!" he shouted as he stomped towards Naruto.

"Oh…Perfect timing Iruka-sensei!" Naruto yawned, "I'm ready to show you the Jutsu!"

"…What Jutsu Naruto?" Iruka asked cautiously.

"The one Mizuki-sensei Said I had to learn form this scroll!" Naruto waived the Scroll of Seals at Iruka, "Did you forget or something?" Hinata was suddenly worried, Iruka-sensei wouldn't forget about a test like this. The hair one the back of her neck stood up, she felt someone approaching in the evening darkness.

Iruka's eyes went wide, he stepped towards Naruto and shoved him out of the way of a rain of kunai. "Mizuki…" He coughed as he pulled a kunai out of his shoulder, "So that's your plan…"

"Nice job finding the Moron." Mizuki grinned, his eyes flashing dangerously. "Naruto give me the scroll."

"Wh-What's going on?"

"Whatever you do don't give him the scroll, it's full of dangerous forbidden Jutsu, He used you to steal it!" Iruka yelled to Naruto while pulling himself free of the kunai.

"Don't listen to Iruka, he hates you don't you know that by now why else wouldn't he let you graduate?"

Naruto backed away from both Chunin, "Iruka hates me?" Naruto chocked back a sob, "Why does everyone hate me?"

"You don't know?" Mizuki's grin spread across his face, "You killed his parents."

"Mizuki! NO!"

"You're the Kyuubi!" Mizuki chuckled unpleasantly, "The Fourth didn't kill you! He just sealed away your powers. That's why everyone hates you!"

'No…No he's lying…' Hinata thought to herself, 'Naruto can't be a monster he's so kind and brave… there's no way he could be the Kyuubi.'

Mizuki was laughing now, "No one will ever love you!" While he was taunting Naruto he spun up a fuuma shuriken. "You're going to die alone in these woods tonight!" Cackling madly he threw the fuuma shuriken at Naruto.

It was the look on his face as the Fuuma Shuriken came whirling at him. The look of hopelessness and despair, of knowing no one will ever love you. The look of someone who thinks they are a monster. The look of a broken man. That was the look Naruto wore on his face as he walked through the gates. The look he wore as he trudged silently towards his house, alone in a sea of people.

A/N This is the first Chapter of my new series. I hope you guys like it. I'm sure you can all guess what Naruto's abilities are going to be, and infact i intended to include the bit where he realizes he was them this chapter but this was such a perfect stopping point i had to post it. Sorry.