Here it is people, my 3rd go at being an author, most of you will notice that this is NOT a tragedy like my other works. I hope you like it.
Oh, and I don't own anyone but Darious and some ideas... don't go suing me, you'll only get my bills out of it!
Chapter 1: The Fox Hound
The sun was coming up over Konohagakure, The village hidden in the leaves, it was another warm, clear day in the mostly peaceful village. Most people were quietly getting up and getting ready for their day, some getting ready to open their shops, few getting ready to go tend to their modest crop fields. This quietness covered most of the village... except for one compound in the city, the home of the Inuzuka family, where loud, boisterous laughter and the barking of dogs filled the air. This laughter was caused by two 12 year old boys, one Kiba Inuzuka, and one Naruto Uzumaki.
The boys were in the back yard of the main house rolling and tussling with the ninken after feeding and watering said dogs. They had been running around and playing with the dogs for nearly 20 minutes before they heard the loud shout of Tsume Inuzuka, the clan head, and Kiba's mother. "Alright pups, get up and get ready, you're gonna be late to the exams, and I will NOT have you boys repeating this exam again!" Her voice held a tough, take no shit edge to it, but the boys both knew that she cared for the both of them deeply. Even though Naruto was not an Inuzuka, she treated him as if he were Kiba's twin brother, one of her own litter ever since Kiba had brought the boy home from the playground years ago.
Tsume was in the den of their home going over some papers for the clan and a report from the academy regarding her eldest child, Hana. With as much as she and Kiba tussled at home, she was happy to find it was only papers concerned about the 3 gray puppies that were her partners that seemed to enjoy sneaking under the teachers desk and licking his toes instead of staying seated with their "master" as he put it. Tsume was drawn from her papers by the loud bang of the front door being nearly thrown from its hinges and the loud shout of "MOM I'M HOME AND I HAVE A NEW FRIEND!" This shout belonged to her youngest, her son Kiba. Storming out of the den and into the kitchen to find two dirty 7 year old boys with mud tracked into the kitchen with the door standing wide open being them. To her surprise, her son's new friend was a great surprise to her. She knew exactly who the boy was and had to hide her sad smile. The messy little boy that stood before her, covered from the tips of his blond hair down his "kill me now" orange shirt and shorts, all the way down to the wiggling toes of his little bare feet was non other than the son of her late friend Kushina, and the late 4th Hokage Minato Namikaze, little Naruto Uzumaki, his whiskered cheeks nearly being split by his smile.
Both boys stood there smiling up at Tsume, Kiba's was completely happy and oblivious, Naruto's though, was tinged with nervousness, fear, and a little bit of hope. Naruto knew all too well the fact that he may be rejected and at best shooed out of the house and lose his new friend, or at worst be beaten again and left outside to bleed and cry till he healed and could walk to his decrepit, broken down apartment and his barely working shower to clean up again. To his great surprise, the tall, feral looking woman before him simply shook her head before raising her voice at the boy beside him. "Boy, since when did I raise you to leave that door standing open and track mud through my kitchen?! Take your friend out back, hose down, and I'll bring you dry clothes, then you're both going to come back in here and clean up this mess... now go close that door and get your little asses out back and find that hose." The boys both chucked before turning and running back out the door, again forgetting to close it, and ran around to get mostly cleaned up, leaving Tsume standing there shaking her head with a helpless, happy smirk. 'Kushi-chan, your little boy is JUST like you.'
The now 12 year old boys both got up, petting the nearest dogs before shouting "Hai Kaa-san/chan" and running in to the house to grab their breakfast and run out the STILL open door and a yet again annoyed Tsume shaking her head at her "sons".
15 Minutes and ~45 shouts of indignation and surprise later at the academy
Naruto and Kiba, with Akamaru sitting between them on the desk, sat in the back of the room with Skikamaru, the Nara clan heir, and Choji, the Akamichi clan heir, both of whom had been Naruto and Kiba's best friends since they started in the academy years ago. Shikamaru was currently asleep with his head on his arms on the table, and Choji, unlike Shikamaru was wide awake and talking to the other two while munching away happily on his 4th bag of chips since they got there.
"How do you guys think you're gonna do on the exam guys?" Naruto laid his head back and stared at the ceiling as he thought about Kiba's question.
Choji, however didn't hesitate longer than it took to swallow his chips, "I think we're all gonna make it, I'm more worried about what team's we're gonna be on." sticking another hand full of chips in his mouth before offering the bag over toward Naruto, as sure a sign of friendship from the Akamichi as any you would ever find anywhere.
Sitting up and taking a couple chips from the bag, Naruto looked around at the other students filling the room. "I don't know, I really hope I pass, I mean, I know years ago I would have just yelled 'I'm gonna make it and no one can stop me Dattebayo!' and that would have been the end of it... but Tsume-kaa-chan helped show me just how far behind I really was back there." popping the chips in his mouth as Akamaru gave a yip and nuzzled his arm. "thanks."
The relatively quiet moment between friends was shattered as the twin ear killers known as Ino Yamanaka and Sakura Haruno came running and screaming into the room, wedging themselves, yet again, into the door side by side in their never ending competition to sit next to their "dreamy Sasuke-kun". Finally breaking free of the jam, both girls fell flat only to scramble to get to the single, open seat next to their heart throb obsession. The boys ignored this, having seen both girls get the seat over the years, not really caring about the now common occurrence.
A few moments later their teachers, Iruka and Mizuki stepped in and quieted the class by Iruka's master jutsu, the demon head jutsu, which made his head seem to become huge and increase his vocal power ten fold. This too was nothing new to the boys, though they seemed to come to enjoy it after a while, having found it was fun to NOT wake Shikamaru when the teachers came in and let him jump whenever Iruka got their attention. Needless to say, after Iruka shouted, the 3 already conscious boys were nearly rolling at their NOW conscious friend that had flipped backwards in his chair in the back of the room. This caused Iruka to smirk and shake his head at the recurring "prank".
Iruka cleared his throat before addressing the class "Okay before we get started, I want you all to know that I am proud of every single one of you, no matter how you come out of the final exam! It was my joy to teach... most of you..." shooting a smirking glare at the similarly smirking boys in the back of the room. Iruka went on to explain how he and Mizuki would conduct the final exam and what was expected of them before heading to the door into the next room, Iruka staying long enough to call out the first name alphabetically.
As the day rolled on, students would come back into the room either smiling with their new hitai-ate, or in some state of depression or denial and with out one. This went on until Naruto was finally called down. His friends all gave him encouragement as he went down, even the shy little Hinata wished him luck as he passed her on his way to the door. Once he got to the other room, Naruto found Iruka and Mizuki sitting behind a table with many hitai-ate of various colors sitting on it. Both teachers had clip boards in hand and were smiling at Naruto, though Naruto noticed that Mizuki's smile seemed forced and no where near genuine. Iruka spoke up and brought Naruto out of his observations. "Okay Naruto, it's very simple, you just have to perform the 3 basic academy jutsu, you've passed everything else already. Are you ready?"
Naruto nodded his head and first performed the kawarimi, replacing himself with one of the chairs in the back of the room for just that reason, then again to move back into place before them. The chunin both marked on their boards before Naruto performed the henge, changing into a perfect replica of his "mother" Tsume, who stood there with the exact feral smirk that was given when she knew she had won at something. Changing back to himself, Naruto gave off that same smirk before forming a cross sign and shouting out "Kage Bunshin no jutsu" before a large cloud of smoke filled the room and 9 shadow clones filled in behind the original, and in unison shouted out "How's this Sensei?" every one of them, including the real Naruto stood there smiling like the cat that got the canary.
That smile only lasted as long as it took for Mizuki's own smile to form on his lips. "I'm sorry Naruto, but we cannot count that one."
Naruto's smile and spirit fell.'Tsume-kaa-chan's going to be so disappointed... or pissed... or both.' Naruto thought to himself before a new voice spoke up from the door in the back of the room. They all turned to see a tall, broad man leaning against the door frame. He was easily one of he tallest men any of them had ever seen, easily matching Jiraiya of the Sannin. His long, dark brown hair tied back in a ponytail, a few strands hanging over the front of his horned Konoha hitai-ate and down his face on the right side. His dark brown eyes squinted a little as he smiled at the blond boy standing before the table. Stepping into the room, they could see that he wore loose, black cargo pants, wrapped at the ankle over his black shinobi sandals, a shinobi mail shirt under a gray-black shirt with a red jacket with green accents covered in storage pockets and storage seal arrays visible on the inside with the plate from a hitai-ate that kanji for oil attached to both shoulders. He pulled off his fingerless gloves as he stepped up beside Naruto and placed a hand on his shoulder. Naruto looked up at him with the slit pupils of his blue eyes. "Dar-nii-san! You really made it!"
Naruto beamed up at the man as the teachers both stood and bowed to him. "Darious-san, it's a pleasure, what brings you here?" Iruka asked, genuinely happy to see the man beside his surrogate brother/son.
Mizuki spoke up before an answer could be given. "As much a pleasure as it is to see you here, but I'm afraid you're wrong about that jutsu being acceptable. I'm afraid Naruto MUST perform the standard bunshin to pass this exam." sitting there with a smug smirk that he was unable to hide.
The man now known as Darious started to glare at the smug teacher, knowing full well, from the letters he had received, of the teachers subtle attempts to sabotage the boy's education and grades. "if that's the case, then I think it's safe to say that I shouldn't be standing here as I am, now should I?" leveling a small amount of killing intent directly at Mizuki, who started to sweat, knowing that there was an actual precedence to Naruto's situation, an that man that created that precedence was standing next to the demon brat that he so hated.
Iruka, hearing this, smiled and called Naruto forward to pick his hitai-ate. Naruto stepped up and happily picked out one with a dark gray band to match the new jacket that Tsume had bought for him and had waiting for him at home once he graduated. "Congratulations Naruto, I'm SO proud of you!" Iruka smiled at him before telling him the name of the next person to send in and sending him off.
As Naruto got to the door, tying his new head band over his forehead, he looked back "Iruka-sensei, Dar-nii-san, want to get ramen with me after you're done before I go home?"
Both men nodded and waved him off before Darious turned back to look at Mizuki, Iruka doing the same. "I don't know what kind of shit you're trying to pull, but I know full well that you know that an advanced bunshin like that is acceptable under the Yondaim's amendment to graduation requirements."
Mizuki started to sweat under the glaring eyes of both men as he worked quickly to form an acceptable lie to cover his own ass. "I... was just seeing if he would stand up to me... and if he knew the rules or not..."
Darious knew that this was a flat out lie, and a rather poor one at that, but let it go, fully planning on letting the Sandaime know about it later when he officially reported his stop in. "It's a good thing that I stepped in then, considering that you're only meant to give the prescribed test and not added stress to the students." Looking over at Iruka, "Janken for the bill tonight?"
A few hours later at the academy gates.
Naruto stood there with his friends chatting happily about passing and their possibly team placements the following Monday, who they hoped their senseis would be and generally what they thought their first missions would be. Naruto and Kiba were broken from the conversation by a familiar voice coming down the street.
"Hey runts, am I still the only ninja of the 3 of us?" The voice belonged to Kiba's 13 year old sister Hana. Naruto blushed a little as the newly minted chunin walked up to them with her companions, the Haimaru triplets in tow beside her, smiling as she saw them both wearing hitai-ate. Naruto had to shake himself out of his blush before smiling at her like Kiba was.
"Yeah, it wasn't a problem at all, just like I said!" Kiba puffed out his chest proudly and Akamaru barked out as well to back up his partner's pride.
Hana looked over at Naruto, a light dusting of a blush hitting her cheeks as she smiled at him. "so, how did you do Naruto-kun? Blow them away?"
Naruto's smile faltered a little before cheering back up. "Dar-nii-san showed up and made sure I passed when Mizuki-sensei tried to say that I couldn't pass using shadow clones, that they HAD to be academy style clones. Oh, that reminds me, I'm going to go eat at Ichiraku's with him and Iruka-sensei when they get done in a couple minutes, tell Tsume-kaa-chan that I'll be home after we eat, okay?" giving her a goofy grin as he scratched the back of his head having forgot to ask if he could before making the offer.
Hana smiled and shook her head. "Mom will be fine with it, you'll be hungry again by the time you get home anyway." Stepping up to him, she pulled him into a hug and whispered into his ear. "congratulations Naruto-kun." She let go and stepped back when she noticed the two men stepping around the gates and looking over to the trio.
Darious spoke up and waved "Hey you two, gonna take the shrimp with us and get some celebration ramen for him, tell your mom we'll have him back home long before dinner." smiling as he motioned for Naruto to come with them. Smiling and waving at his friends/siblings, Naruto ran over to the men and the three headed off. The two Inuzukas headed off back home, talking about how missions went and possible senseis and teams that Kiba and Naruto might be on. Kiba had a small hope that he and Naruto would be on the same genin team, knowing that they already had great teamwork.
An hour later outside Ichiraku's
After having his fill, Naruto bid Darious and Iruka farewell and headed back home for the night. Iruka did the same, leaving Darious to head to the Hokage's office to finally let him know that he had arrived in town. As he walked, he looked around, noticing the people not paying him much mind as he made his way through the streets toward his destination, smiling as a few girls and women giggled and blushed as they looked at him as he passed, though none of them knew he was already spoken for. After a few minutes travel, Darious finally arrived the large oak doors that was the the entrance to the Hokage's office. Looking over at the secretary sitting beside the doors. "is he in and available?"
Looking up, the middle aged woman smiled, recognizing him before informing him that he could go ahead on in. Giving the door a knock, Darious waited for permission to enter before stepping in to see the Hokage behind a couple tall stacks of paper. "Ah, Darious-kun, I'm happy to see you, is my student with you this time?"
Darious stepped in and closed the door before taking a seat. "I'm sorry, Master's not with me this time, he made sure that I came to see Naruto's graduation, which I'm glad I did... one of the instructors tried to deny him graduation." He went on to tell Hiruzen about what happened and was said.
Very unhappy about this, the aged leader called upon his Anbu. "Neko, Inu!" Said pair appeared, kneeling before him. "Inu, seeing as you're retiring from Anbu at the end of the day, this will be my last request of you as an Anbu. You two are to go pick up Mizuki, quietly. Take him to Ibiki and Anko, it seems he's been actively trying to sabotage Naruto's education and possible career. Tell them to see if that's all that he's been up to. Dismissed." The pair vanished before Hiruzen let out a small sigh. "The cruelty of some people never cease to amaze me..."
Darious looked up at Hiruzen with a serious look to his face. "Sir, there's more that needs to be talked about... Master's network has picked up news that "they" have captured another biju."
Hiruzen walked over to the window and looked out over the village as the sun sank over the horizon. "Let's hope that they don't come for him before he can be trained." letting out rings of smoke as he continued to watch the sun fall, closing out yet another day.
well, there it is, tell me what you think, no flaming please, flamers will be used to heat Naruto's ramen water!