Living off the Land
A six and a half year old boy was scavenging around the forests of the leaf picking up anything edible that he could get his hands on. As the sun was setting this child clad in a short-sleeved black shirt with a red swirl on the chest, orange shorts and blue sandals; Uzumaki Naruto was making his way home to his less than meager living arrangements. Naruto greeted the gate guards on his way in Izumo and Kotetsu were fairly nice to him compared to the rest of the village. Unfortunately that was where the pleasantries ended once he was through the gates he made his way home as discreetly as possible, taking the back allies instead of the main roads to avoid confrontations with his tormentors.
Once he reached his place he darted out of the alley and around the corner and ran up the stairs to his top floor apartment. The young blonde barreled through the door and shut it behind him; he had given up on locking up while ago it never stopped the villagers from trashing the place. Taking a look around the place he made his way over to his kitchen/dining room to the left and dumped the two bags he had gathered out onto a small table
Looking over what he'd gathered he took account of the different plants and berries. He had managed to round up a few bunches of field pennycress, clovers, dandelions, fireweed, purslane, white mustard, and wood sorrel. Alongside the plants he found a few cups worth of blueberries and blackberries which were in season during the summer months. It had taken him the entire day, but now he had enough to sustain himself for a few more days until the old man came by with his monthly allowance.(AN: If anyone's curious I looked all of this up on google)
If you wondering why Naruto has to forage in the woods for food, or how he even knows how to it's because of his status within the village. For whatever reason most of the village hates him, he suffered plenty of horrible beatings in his short life the worst of which were on his birthday. Since then Naruto learned to stay as far away from the villagers as possible, especially shinobi. Most of the village hated him or outright refused to acknowledge his existence. What little food he could get from within the village was usually severely overpriced and barely edible if that. Ichiraku Ramen was probably the only place he could get something to eat at a fair price.
He liked the ramen duo; the father and daughter were like the family he never knew. The old chef he considered like an uncle and his daughter like an older sister. Being the pariah he was he didn't visit too often as it was bad for business. On his last birthday he spent the last of his allowance on a breakfast of ramen and disappeared for the rest of the day going into hiding to avoid the mobs. Trouble is that the villagers got themselves worked into a frenzy trying to find him; they had totally trashed his apartment and searched the entire village for him. Naruto finally made his back into the village after about three days; he had hid out behind the Hokage monument since people rarely went up there.
When he got back he found people still celebrating, there had always been a festival on his birthday to commemorate the day the fourth defeated the Kyuubi no kitsune. This left him confused, but he dismissed in favor of getting home; he was absolutely starving and wanted to see if he could find anything to eat there. Turning away from the merry crowd he made his way to his apartment trudging along the entire way. Naruto stopped about fifteen minutes later, his breath hitched; having spent pretty much his entire conscious life trying to avoid them he developed the ability to sense chakra and he could feel shinobi level chakra signatures approaching.
Around the corner were two drunken shinobi, chuckling to themselves "Can you believe it, the demon's finally gone." One drunken bastard exclaimed; his uniform completely disheveled Chuunin vest hanging off his shoulders; his collar torn with beer stains all over. The other one looking just as bad as the first with some stubble blooming from his chin laughed heartily at that "Guess the damned fox finally got the message, wonder what ditch he ended up in?" "Who cares, hope he's dead."
Naruto panicked as turned back the way he came, making a run for it. Too bad three days without food left him worn out and even drunk these men were trained shinobi. Spotting the familiar mop of spikey blonde hair they chased him right back into the partying crowd of villagers and soon a mob ensued, they chased him out of the village tossing weapons at him. A few ninja had finally caught up to him and bound him to a tree with ninja wire and proceeded with their torture. Naruto was beaten with devastating blows until finally something snapped.
He would have cried out if they hadn't already crushed his larynx, he could feel his lungs burning for air. The blonde wouldn't last much longer if things went on like this and it only got worse as the cutting started. Blades clumsily tearing into his trying to bleed him out only succeeding in causing him more pain as his captures were too drunk or angry, most likely a combination of both to do it properly. In hindsight it may have been a blessing as his body finally shutdown and need much less air. Eventually he was left there to die.
When Naruto woke up it was in the dead of night a day later, only the stars allowing him any sort of vision at the moment though hazy. Remembering most of what he'd endured a few minutes later he sighed to himself. He had planned to avoid all this and failed now here he was bound in the middle of the woods hungry, cold, and in pain. However, he found one silver lining, his bindings were loose. In their inebriated and emotional states his tormentors were sloppy this year, he had just enough leverage to shake himself loose; survival the only thing on his mind. '…must…find…food…'
About four hours later he was free just as the sun was rising, but his freedom came at a price. Thrashing around for so long had spent the last of his energy he could barely crawl along the ground, determined to at least satisfy his stomach he dragged himself around for a few hours stuffing whatever seemingly edible things he could find in his mouth until he spotted a bush with dark berries. Once he had made his way over to the bush he picked a few and shoved them in his mouth. Naruto immediately regretted the decision as he started foaming at the mouth before passing out again; he had just consumed deadly nightlock berries.
Inside the seal the Kyuubi as he went to work neutralizing the poison as best he could, which was going fairly well because the seal had weakened due to his containers' current state 'The way things are going the kit won't live to see puberty'. The chakra spike however attracted the attention of Inuzuka Hana six year old heiress of the Inuzuka clan and aspiring kunoichi/ vet taking her dogs out for a run. Hana was immediately on alert and decided to check it out, her dogs right behind her 'There no training grounds near hear, and I'm no sensor. I shouldn't be detecting this much chakra all the way out here.' What she found left her breathless a boy about her age beaten and blood lying on the ground covered in dirt and debris glowing with a red hue. Her dogs the Haimaru triplets still pups sniffed around a bit curious, cautiously approaching the boy's body before backing away as they caught the scent of the nightlock bush. Hana had snapped out of it and noticed the bush, realizing what it was being an aspiring vet and part of a ninja clan she was warned of such things even this early on in life. As the glow died down she checked to see if he was breathing only to find him barely doing so, wheezing with each breath. She dragged him up and hurried back to Konoha as quickly as she could, supporting him with one arm over her shoulder.
It seemed Naruto ordeal was far from over though. Hana's arrival drew the attention of many of the villagers; by the time she reached the village she was exhausted. The six year old just wasn't used to carrying another person and covering such a distance so quickly ninja clan or not, to be fair when she'd found the blonde she was about to turn back realizing she'd gone too far. Hana smiled as citizens of the leaf village crowd around her. That smile fell as they started pelting her with rocks or anything else they could find "get that trash out of here!" one of them yelled. "Yeah, that demon's not welcome in our village!"
Sensing the hostilities the Haimaru triplets attacked, and chaos broke out as villagers began to get physical ganging up on the pups and small children. The commotion attracted the ANBU who immediately reported to the third. "Hokage-sama, it seems there's a riot going on involving Naruto." Reported a weasel masked man, the old Sarutobi was up in a flash heading out into the village 'finally found him, where have you been all this time Naruto?'
Hana was completely thrown off, she had no idea what was going on or how to deal with the situation. Luckily she didn't have to, "What is the meaning of this!?" the third's voice called out from the edge of the crowd. Everything went still and the crowd parted to allow him and the ANBU through, Hana was wary for a moment after what just happened she was questioning who she should trust. Sarutobi approached them with an elderly smile, that smile faltered when he saw the condition Naruto was in "What happened to him?" he asked. The Inuzuka heiress shook off her anxiety and answered quickly "I found him like this when I was out walking my dogs, he needs medical attention."
Any further questioning was put off for later and so they rushed off to get Naruto some treatment.
Naruto slowly opened his eyes to find himself in a sewer like environment "Where am I?" he wondered. He looked around the place and decided to take off into one direction, it wouldn't be the first time he ended up somewhere strange. Eventually he found himself before a huge cage. "So we finally meet kit." The fox said. The blonde stood stock still trying to process what's going on. He remembered his earlier run in with those two shinobi and things clicked. Naruto stared into the fox's eyes and spoke as evenly as possible "So…Kyuubi…"
There was an awkward silence before the demon fox finally spoke up "…that was…a pretty decent reaction…better than I expected." As the Kyuubi spoke Naruto composed himself, "So what happens now?" he asked to which the nine tails replied "Things have to change, your life is at risk everyday you're in this village; to survive you have to change." Naruto couldn't deny what the fox said, but something was troubling him.
"Why does it matter to you?"
"I have been bound to the Uzumaki for generations; they were a wise and honorable clan. They respected me despite my imprisonment.
"I had a clan!?"
"Yes, they were feared for their power and eventually the Nations ganged up on them in their native Uzushio; you may well be the last of the Uzumaki."
"So, how does this work, I doubt the villagers would just sit by and let me be."
"I will teach you the ways of the Uzumaki through my memories of you mother and great grandmother, now it is time for you to go the old monkey waits."
Outside World – Hospital Room
Naruto woke with a start recalling Kyuubi's last words, he would finally learn of his mother and family. Once he calmed down he grimaced at the sudden jolt of pain. "Lie still Naruto-kun you're in no condition to move, what happened to you?" The third said. Naruto turned to the right with a grin "Hey old man, don't you have some paperwork to catch up on?" he asked. Sarutobi grumbled his shoulders slumping a bit before he returned the matter at hand "Where have you been Naruto?" The whiskered blonde let out a mirthless chuckle "I just decide to break birthday tradition and avoid the near death experience, doesn't seem to have worked out though." He said gazing at the ceiling.
Hiruzen flinched at that but was bought out of it when the fourth progeny continued "How'd I get here and how long do I have to stay?" Naruto questioned. The Hokage's disposition brightened at the question and answered with a smile "You were found by a young Inuzuka they carried you back to the village, now what happened out there?" With a sigh Naruto answered "When I came out of hiding I tried to make my way home and avoid the party, but I was spotted by some drunken ninja. I got run out by a mob from there it was same old, same old; bound and tortured 'til I passed out."
Quietly seething the third continued his investigation "…that still doesn't explain where you were found." "…Your shinobi need more training, they were sloppy…after struggling for a while I managed to free myself, then I crawled around for little longer filling my stomach with anything I could find. Going three plus days without food wasn't my best idea I guess."
"Neither was eating something you couldn't identify, you'll be in the hospital for the next three days." His questions answered the blonde asked the old man to thank his savior and went back to sleep as the Hokage left to return to his office. Outside the room the usual guards were feeling very frustrated, particularly a cat masked ANBU 'I have to find some way to help him!' Days later Naruto was back home where he found a book on survival training and cooking in his room.
Thus a year and a half ago Naruto learned to cook and look after himself as far as food was concerned. Thanks to his now high nutrition diet he was growing well and had some money saved up, for the most part he lived off the land gathering stocks of water and food in the woods. He also spent his days learning from his tenant slowly mastering fuuinjutsu.