DISCLAIMER: I don't own Naruto or earn any profit by this.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: After watching the anime for so long, reading many Naruto fanfics and seeing how others handled the character, this idea got stuck in my head and wouldn't leave. On the mission to Wave, Naruto meets and helps a stranger who gives him a special gift as a thank-you. Thanks to Librastar for beta reading this.


Naruto walked down the main street of the small village, grumbling over his current 'mission'. He thought he had left D-ranks behind in Konoha, but here he was, in the middle of a C-rank turned A-rank mission, fetching groceries. It made sense for him to do it, he supposed. Tazuna and all of his family were targets and being kept close to home where they could be guarded. Naruto was just the unlucky one chosen to fetch the food the family needed to have supper that night.

The small grocery didn't have much to spare, but for Tazuna's family the owner was willing to lower his price and do what he could to help the man trying to free the country from Gato. It was just down the street, and as yet, there was no sign of trouble from the mercenaries the businessman employed.

Almost as if the thought had called down trouble on his head, there was a pained cry in the next street and several angry voices. He didn't hesitate but immediately turned down an alley and cut over to the next street. He saw several rough looking men surrounding a stammering merchant that they had evidently knocked to the ground.

"I-I don't have any money on me, just trade goods I'm bringing to Gato. He won't be pleased if you steal them. I'm expected."

"Yeah," one of the men laughed. "You were. Why should Gato pay for what you've got to sell when you can have an unfortunate run in with bandits and never make your meeting?" He brandished his knife.

"T-that's despicable!" The merchant shouted, outraged. "What kind of businessman does that?"

"The crooked-no-good-backstabbing kind," Naruto offered, walking into the street and drawing a kunai. "Be sure to tell all the other merchants." He didn't wait for the thugs to attack. Instead, he created a dozen shadow clones and jumped them.

It was a short fight, and all of Gato's men soon lay bruised and bleeding on the ground. Naruto turned to the merchant and helped him up. "Maybe you'll be more careful about who you do business with in the future. This Gato character seems like scum."

"Rest assured, young sir, I shall be more careful." He looked more closely at his rescuer, taking in his bright orange jumpsuit and looked confused for a reason that escaped the boy. "Are you a shinobi by any chance?"

"Sure am," Naruto said proudly. "Uzumaki Naruto, the next Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village! Believe it!"

"I see. I am Sato Washi. Allow me to thank you properly for the rescue." Putting down his pack, he began rummaging through it, and after a moment, pulled out a long narrow box. "I believe this is what Gato wanted so badly. It would bring a rather high price if sold, which is probably why he wants to steal it."

Naruto's eyes widened at the site of the ornately carved wooden box. "What is it?"

"It is something that shinobi find rather valuable, I believe. I actually chanced upon it in a small village that was cleaning out the possessions of a recently deceased missing-nin that had been hiding among them for years. He had no family, so they sold his home and belongings for the village coffers. I got it for a song." He handed Naruto the box. "It's a summoning scroll."

The boy looked at him blankly, and the merchant sighed. Was the boy really a shinobi?

"It allows you to summon creatures to fight with you if you get into trouble. I don't know much about them, but several prestigious shinobi clans have them."

"Wow," Naruto stared at the scroll. "I think I heard about some crazy kunoichi in our village that can pull snakes out of thin air. Bet that's how she does it."

"Probably," Washi shrugged. "I don't know much about it myself, as I don't deal with shinobi all that often. I'm not even sure what that is intended to summon." He looked around furtively. "Thank you again, but I'd better get back to my boat before Gato realizes his men failed. Enjoy the scroll." With that, Sato Washi turned and hurried toward the docks as fast as he could.

Naruto tucked the box under his arm and headed on to the grocery, resolving to ask Kakashi-sensei about the scroll later. It could help him be an even more awesome shinobi, he was sure of it, but he needed to know more about summons in general first.