I still don't own Naruto... shame that ne?
Book one: Fire
"The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Laozi
"Get out of my store you damn hoodlum" The sound of a loud thud followed by pained groans and a few choice curse mumbled under-breath were heard through a street in the bustling Konohagakure no Saito. Of course the young blonde boy from whom these muttered annoyances were uttered in irritation went completely ignored by the rest of the world save for one particularly irate shop-owner who stared at the boy with poorly concealed hatred.
"What's the big idea old man!? I gotta get shuriken and kunai so I can train to be a ninja!" The only reply the whiskered child received was a huff of contempt as the burly shopkeeper turned away.
"As if they would ever let a brat like you become a ninja." He was about to slam the door to his shop closed to emphasise that point but thought better of it, quickly turning to stare heatedly at the blue-eyed visage that was the unwitting centre for so much hatred in the village. "And don't ever let me catch you in my store again or there'll be hell to pay!" With that he finally slammed the door closed, the small door sign flipping to 'open' by the breeze in a twist of irony.
"Yeah, just you see!" The young blonde turned to the rest of the people in the street who continued to go about their day as if this event weren't even happening. "You'll all see! I'm gonna be Hokage one day!" With that the whiskered child took off down the street at a surprising speed for such a small and obviously malnourished boy. After he was gone the residents of the busy shopping district turned to watch him go, some of the older women whispering in hushed voices.
"Did you see him today, disgraceful."
"I don't know what Hokage-sama is thinking allowing someone like that to join the Shinobi academy."
"I know, my little Ami-chan would be in the same year as him; I just know he'll try to corrupt her."
"Well I know for sure I'm warning my boy away from him; that little demon won't destroy the next generation as well."
Of course all these conspiratorial whispers were lost on the running child who was too busy staving off tears percolating at the edge of his vision.
"Hey Jiji, I need your help..." Glittering blue eyes blinked in surprise at the empty office, framed by the panoramic backdrop of Konoha in the expansive window that lit the room. "Jiji?" The young blonde looked around in mild confusion. It was rare he wasn't able to find his Grandfather-figure in his office, often pouring over various sheets of paper that confused the whiskered youth when he tried to read them over the man's shoulder.
'He's not here, well I guess he's out doing kick-ass ninja stuff, he is the Hokage after all.' With that simple piece of seven-year old logic sorting out his confusion the boy quickly went to work. Immediately he headed around the back of the large, ornate oak desk which was piled up with copious stacks of various mission reports and budgeting requests, not that the blonde was at all interested in those. Instead he began to rile through the drawers of the desk; uncaring that he was messing up the painstakingly sorted filing system.
Finally with a whine of annoyance the whiskered blonde threw up his hands in defeat before running them through his messy golden locks.
'Why doesn't Jiji have any shuriken or kunai!' Suddenly a mischievous grin that many ANBU had come to take warning of over the years split his lightly-tanned face as he looked over at the large picture of the forth Hokage on the wall. 'Jiji thinks I don't know about his super secret hiding spot' The grin still splitting his whiskered cheeks the blonde quickly made his way over to the framed photo, pulling it to one side in a smooth motion to reveal a large metal safe.
'The old man shouldn't underestimate Naruto Uzumaki!' The small boy pressed his ear to the cold metal, never once noticing the strange arrangement of kanji and symbol that spread out from the point of contact that glowed a welcoming blue before fading back into the safe. He twisted the dial with well-practised hands until the last click echoed through the empty room. With a small cry of success Naruto swung the large metal door open, only to frown with displeasure.
He had seen the old Hokage open the safe many times but he had never seen what was inside; of course his childlike-mind had instantly thought up many cool and mysterious possibilities which were all the more reason he was disappointed.
"A stupid scroll?!" Of course the scroll was about as tall as Naruto was himself but that was besides the point to the young blonde. 'Of all the things for Jiji to keep in an awesome safe like this and he chooses a dumb scroll?' With a small sigh the blonde tried to pick up the scroll anyway; never noticing the three sets of hands that instinctually tightened over their kunai pouches in the darker corners of the ceiling.
With a grunt of effort Naruto managed to lift the enormous scroll about an inch before he was forced to drop it with a dulled thud. Squinting his eyes in an incredible impression of a fox Naruto frowned at the large scroll before noticing a glint of metal. With a cry of success again the blonde reached into the safe, pulling out his prize. His cry of delight however quickly changed into a look of intense confusion.
"What kind of weird kunai is this?" He turned it over in his small hands, noting the odd three-pronged shape and kanji written on a slip of paper wrapped around the handle. With a sigh he tossed it back into the safe; it was obviously useless with such a weird design; probably some ancient antique his Jiji was keeping as a relic of the past. He swung the door closed with a disappointed sigh before sliding the picture back into what he thought was the correct position. With his brow furrowed the blonde took one last sweeping look around the office before a light bulb seemingly clicked over his head.
His short legs quickly carried him back over to the desk where his hands began to frantically sweep back and forth under the polished wooden surface. Finally a small, almost unnoticeable click graced his small ears as a secret compartment jutted out the side of the desk. This one was much smaller than the safe and its contents confused Naruto even more. All there seemed to be were a small orange book, a strange glass sphere, a few sheets of paper and a normal-looking scroll with a spiral design printed on the front.
"Nothing again! How can Jiji have no kunai in his office?!" Naruto slammed the small compartment back into place with an irritated grunt before walking out of the room, a silent black form dropping down to the floor behind him out of his notice. When the Hokage walked in later on that afternoon with the delegate from Kumo he only found a rather amused dog-masked ANBU waiting for him with interesting news.
Naruto once again walked back down the slightly less busy streets, the people beginning to retire to their homes as the sun dipped beyond the horizon. A frown marred his face as he thought about his predicament. Tomorrow he was supposed to start at the Shinobi academy; it was a year earlier than most did but the Hokage had assured him he would do fine. The only problem was that all the stores refused to sell him and Shuriken or Kunai.
The small blonde was so lost in his thoughts he wasn't able to react in time when a tall man suddenly appeared in his path. The result was Naruto bouncing back like he had just walked into a wall while the tall dark-haired man just sneered derisively. Naruto looked up, expecting to be reprimanded for being so careless however all he saw was the tell-tale logo of the Konoha police-force and a flash of red eyes before the man walked on, ignoring the blonde like he had never even been there.
Naruto picked himself up off the dusty ground, mumbling to himself about unobservant people before the figurative light bulb once again clicked over his head. A grin snaked its way across his face as he took off on small legs in the direction of the Uchiha compound. 'Those people with the funny red eyes always have kunai pouches! I'm sure if I 'borrow' a few, nobody would notice.' With that in mind and with a small chuckle to himself, Naruto quickly found himself winding through the streets towards the western districts of Konoha.
A good half an hour later and the whiskered child was staring up at the rather imposing stone wall that separated the Uchiha compound from Konoha-proper. He never really thought about the Uchiha all that much but he found them having a wall around their compound sort of strange. With a small dismissive shrug he quickly began to scale the wall, using handholds and cracks that would normally be too small for any other hand to grip.
Finally with a slightly comical wiggling of his legs he flipped himself over and dropped to the ground on the other side of the wall. He rubbed his head sheepishly as he looked down at the small flower-bed he had crushed from his impromptu landing but quickly pushed it from his mind. It was darker now, the sun having fully set beyond the horizon, and it provided Naruto with great cover as he stealthily, at least to him anyway, made his way through the back garden of whoever's home he had landed in.
Strangely none of the lights in the house were on; it wasn't that late at night; in fact Naruto would usually be preparing himself a cup ramen for dinner about now. To satiate his curiosity he peered in through a low window but sure enough the house seemed deserted. However instead of trying to think why the blonde just grinned, this would make it all the easier to grab some kunai or shuriken. He tried to lift the window but it wouldn't budge an inch; with a small grunt of annoyance Naruto abandoned it and quickly hurried back through the garden, out onto an empty street.
Once again the blonde found it curious that nobody was out; he had never seen a street in Konoha so quiet before midnight. Feeling slightly less sure of himself but staying strong regardless Naruto scampered across the street, ducking into another alley between two homes. Stopping to think for a moment he remembered that all the clan compounds in Konoha were somewhat self-sustaining, that meant there had to be stores to buy things and he hoped that would include ninja supplies.
Ducking his head back out into the moon-lit street he nearly squealed with delight as he spotted exactly what he was looking for. The store was across the street from him, a large sign hanging out front that Naruto couldn't quite make out but the various weapons in the window were visible clear as day, as was the large fan symbol emblazoned across the door. With as much speed as his small body could muster he dashed across to the door, giving it an experimental push only to find it locked.
Frowning he looked around, noting the small flap at the bottom of the door, obviously made for whatever animal the shop-owner kept. He was about to go around to the side alley to find another way in when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps echo through the silent streets. His eyes widened in surprise and fear of being caught Naruto immediately ducked down, pushing himself through the small animal-flap that was obviously never designed for human use. He quickly found himself stuck, his hips just a little too big to get through.
However as the footsteps came closer he found a new burst of energy, scrabbling with all he could and finally managing to push his lithe body into the store. He sat there, leaning against the door, just panting as he calmed himself down. He was beginning to regret coming here, generally people left him alone in Konoha but sometimes the people would be slightly less forgiving; he noticed the people with red-eyes tended to be among that group.
"Check around some more, I was sure I heard something." Naruto's heart nearly stopped beating in his chest as he heard the obviously male voice call out from the street.
"Yeah yeah, I don't see anything; I'm sure you were just hearing things. I swear, you've been too jumpy lately, gotta calm down." Another voice joined the first, sounding much closer that his companion making Naruto break out in a cold sweat.
"Shut up, you know Fugaku-sama's orders; while the meetings are taking place the streets have to be cleared. We don't want anybody to find out what's going on; if there's a spy out here from the Hokage we have to flush them out and deal with them." Even in his fear Naruto managed to be confused by the conversation taking place now painfully close to him. Why would the Hokage need to spy on his own Shinobi? That didn't make sense at all. To satisfy his burning curiosity he ever so slowly poked his head up and looked out the window, only to immediately duck back down as he caught a glimpse of burning red eyes.
"Hey what was that?" The voice sounded suspicious and footsteps began to draw near to the shop he was hiding in.
"What?" The voice sounded somewhat bored, as if he was just eager to go home and relax instead of trudging around outside for threats he was certain wouldn't be there.
"There was something in the shop, I'm sure of it." Naruto gulped in a way he hoped wasn't too loud, even though it seemed deafening in his own ears. He quickly scurried further into the shop, hoping to use the shadows to hide himself. On the way his hand closed over the hilt of a kunai from one of the counters and he instinctively clutched it to his chest as if it would protect him from anything. He pressed himself as close to the wall as he could beneath a counter as he heard the doorknob rattle a few times before the sound of a key clicking in a lock was heard.
Footsteps came next, each slap of a sandal against a wooden floor like a cannon firing right next to the terrified blonde. That next minute was agonising on Naruto's nerves as the Uchiha continued to walk around the small shop, before sighing to himself and walking towards the door. As his hand touched the doorknob to close it the blonde let out a small breath he didn't even realise he had been holding. Unfortunately it wasn't small enough and before the air had fully left his lungs a hand wrapped around his collar, yanking him to his feet so that his eyes were level with a set of angry Sharingan.
"Well what do we have here? A little young to be a spy don't you think?" He sneered across at his companion but Naruto made use of his distraction as lashed out with the kunai clutched to his chest on instinct. With a cry of pain and anger the man dropped Naruto, clutching his arm that was now spraying blood in a long arc. Naruto wasted no time and sprinted out of the store, slipping between the legs of the man's surprised companion in one smooth motion before vaulting to his feet and taking off at a sprint.
The two Uchiha weren't surprised for long and they quickly took off after the tiny child; using their Shinobi training to enhance the muscles in their legs to take off at incredible speed. By the time Naruto was dropping back down on the other side of the wall the two Shinobi were right behind him. Using speed and energy the blonde didn't even realise he had he took off again, staying just ahead of his pursuers.
He did everything in his power to keep the two Uchiha from getting him, sliding through holes in fences that they were too big to get through, using his knowledge of the alleyways to confuse them and even at one point grabbing a peacefully sleeping cat and throwing it at the men. It turned out Tora, as the name on its collar read, didn't appreciate the early wake up and managed to keep the two would-be capturers busy for a surprising amount of time. Long enough at least for the terrified blonde to reach his destination.
It wasn't all that uncommon for Naruto to be chased due to his recent history as somewhat of a prankster. However in those situations he would have pre-planned his escape, usually with a few hidden surprises for his pursuers giving him ample time to make it to the Hokage tower or his home where he knew he was safe. Right now though he had no plan, no tricks to pull out of thin air and there was only one place nearby he would feel safe.
He burst through the flaps in front of Ichiraku's Ramen, surprising the young teenage girl washing dishes behind the counter. She didn't have time to even cry out in surprise before the whiskered blonde had jumped the small counter, using the seats as a springboard. The brown-haired girl just looked down at his quivering form in shock but only had time to do that before two men appeared in front of her, almost making her drop the bowl she was cleaning in fright. Quickly regaining her composure she placed a well-worn smile on her face.
"Welcome to Ichiraku Ramen, I'm Ayame, how can I help you?" One of the men, his Sharingan active and spinning wildly, gave the small shop a once-over before giving a contemptuous snort. He span on his heel and marched out, the scowl on his face only intensifying. The man behind him gave Ayame an apologetic look before hurrying out after his companion. Letting out a small sigh Ayame turned to the still shaking Naruto, a small frown alighting on her usually upbeat and smiling face.
"What did you do now Naruto?" She let out another sigh as the blonde boy gave her a sheepish, if not slightly strained smile as he rubbed the back of his neck, out of habit or nerves she couldn't tell. She finally allowed a soft smile to play across he lips as she offered him a hand which he gratefully took, clinging to her arm like a lifeline. She brought him around to the back of the shop, leading him like a stray dog to the couch in the small living space back there.
"Just stay there Naruto, I'll go make us some tea okay then you can explain whatever silly prank you pulled this time." Naruto gave a small quivering nod earning him a glowing smile as Ayame quickly moved back to the kitchen area.
"T-Thanks Ayame-chan." The girl turned around again at the door, holding onto the frame as she smiled serenely at the little boy she considered a little brother in everything but blood.
"Hey, what are big sisters for ne?" Naruto finally seemed to relax at that, settling more into the couch as Ayame finally moved off to prepare some tea. An older man with greying hair and a fatherly smile seemingly permanently set on his wrinkling features chose that moment to walk down the stairs to see what all the commotion was about.
"Ah Naruto my boy, what brings you to our humble abode?" The small blonde turned at the familiar voice, a small but true smile appearing on his whiskered face at the sight of one of his precious people.
"Teuchi-ojisan!" The man simply chuckled at the exuberant cry as he settled a hand on the young boy's shoulder, his calloused palm easily dwarfing the boy's small frame.
"Now who did you manage to upset this time my boy? I hope it wasn't a Hyuuga, you know how they reacted last time." He let out a throaty chuckle as he fondly remembered Naruto half-crawling into his store, one arm and leg having been at the receiving end of the Hyuuga's fearsome Taijutsu style. It had taken a few hours before the boy could feel anything at all in those limbs. Naruto on the other hand just had an indignant if somewhat sheepish look on his face.
"I didn't do anything! They chased after me!" Teuchi just gave him a knowing smile; honestly he believed the boy's pranks would one day get him in a lot of trouble. Still, he and Ayame would be waiting for him with a warm bowl of ramen and a warm smile at the end of the day; nothing less for their best customer and his surrogate son.
"Of course they did Naruto, and Iwagakure has a solid gold statue of the fourth Hokage." Naruto looked up at him with wide blue eyes, his face looking like a monkey who had been given a truckload of bananas.
"Really?! That's so cool 'ttebayo!" Teuchi just gave a small sigh, he should have known better than to try and use sarcasm on somebody as innocent as Naruto.
"No, you see Naruto-" The blonde boy in question blinked in surprise when Teuchi suddenly cut off before jumping in surprise as he felt some kind of warm liquid spray across his back. He looked around only for his eyes to go wide in shock and terror; Teuchi was on the floor, unmoving, a single kunai sticking out of his blood-soaked throat. Behind him stood the two Uchiha who had been chasing him, a cruel glint in the spinning red eyes of the one in front.
"Orimaru! What are you doing?!" The one behind seemed shocked by his companion's actions, his eyes flickering between the dead man on the floor and his fellow Uchiha.
"Shut it Takaho, there can't be any witnesses. Do you know what will happen if word gets to the Hokage about the coup?" Unfortunately Ayame chose that inopportune moment to walk back into the room, a tray of tea balanced in one hand. Time seemed to slow as she took in the scene in front of her; two men standing over Naruto, kunai poised to strike; her father on the floor, blood still spilling from his throat as his empty eyes stared at her.
Her scream carried out into the night only to cut off a moment later as three kunai found their way into her stomach. She could only stare down at the growing red patch forming on her usually pristine apron, a quizzical expression on her face as if she couldn't quite believe what was happening. It only lasted a moment before she fell to the floor, first to her knees then, with a dulled thump, onto her side.
Silence once again fell on the small room as Naruto stared in shock and horror at where his surrogate sister lay on the floor, unmoving and pale. The Uchiha's arm was still outstretched from throwing the kunai and his friend was looking at him in even more shock. Then, as if a silent command had been given, everybody moved. Naruto scrabbled to his feet at the same moment the lead Uchiha lurched forward to grab him. The small blonde just avoided his grip, sliding across the floor to where Ayame had fallen.
"Ayame-neechan! Please Ayame-neechan!" He tugged fruitlessly at her clothes, willing her with all his might to wake up, to turn over and show that she was okay, that she was still alive. Suddenly rough hands grabbed him by the collar, yanking him around to face Sharingan eyes once again. The black tomoe framed by fields of red spun slowly at first before picking up speed. Soon they were a blur, as hypnotising as they were frightening.
Naruto suddenly felt incredibly drowsy, like a huge portion of energy had been ripped from his body. He couldn't explain it; it was like a battery had been pulled out of him leaving him cold and tired. Out of slowly closing eyes he caught sight of his hands, coloured red by Ayame's blood and suddenly something new welled up in his chest. Anger, a blind, roaring fury that he had never felt before. Fury at these people for taking those people precious to him, rage at the world that could be so cruel to him and most of all anger at himself, at his own inability to protect the people that meant more to him than his own life.
"AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Pain, sudden blinding pain welled up behind his eyes like somebody had lit them on fire. Suddenly he wasn't tired; he had more energy than ever. Everything seemed to slide into perfect focus, colours coming alive like they never had before. Then a pressure seemed to build up inside of him, welling up and begging to be released. Everything flashed for a brief moment in perfect clarity, time frozen as if captured by a picture then... nothing.
Naruto woke up with a groan; he wasn't sure how long it had been but he definitely wasn't in the hospital of his apartment so it couldn't have been long. In fact when Naruto looked up he could see the night sky; the moon stared back at him blankly. He lifted his head wearily, surprised to find himself in what looked like a large crater in the ground. He didn't want to be here to explain what happened when ninja arrived so he quickly staggered to his feet.
His vision swam for a moment but in a way he was unused to; everything seemed more vivid than it used to, colours were brighter and far more visible than they should be this late at night. What's more a strange glow seemed to permeate the area, as if everything was emitting a strange ethereal light. Confused and disoriented he quickly clambered out of the crater, his hands finding purchase on the recently disturbed earth with surprising ease.
After a few moments of aimless wandering down the road he finally stopped, falling to his knees. He never even noticed when he passed right out the gates; the Chuunin guards strangely absent from their post. He just stared at the ground for a moment, the hard paving stones feeling rough and uncomfortable underneath his knees, not that he particularly cared. First one, then two small drops of liquid pattered onto the ground, staining it a slightly darker colour.
He stayed there for a while, just crying to himself silently as the full force of what happened hit him. At some point the skies above him opened and the rain began to pour, lightly at first but with increasing intensity. It was as if the heavens themselves shared in his lament. The only family he had ever known, the only people he had ever known to truly love and care for him were gone; killed in front of him.
Not only that, but he had killed. There was no mistaking the sight of the two mangled corpses next to the large crater; the police-force symbol emblazoned on ragged strips of cloth. It didn't matter that he had no idea how he did it, he just knew he did. One moment there was a surge of power behind his eyes, the next he was waking up in a nightmarish scene. He hadn't even seen Ayame or Teuchi's bodies and he wasn't sure he wanted to after seeing the state the two Uchiha were in.
After what seemed like an eternity of just kneeling there in the rain Naruto pulled himself back onto two shaking legs. He couldn't go back, not now, not after he had killed two Shinobi of the leaf. He may have been called naïve and sometimes even stupid but he knew the punishment for murder. With a choked sob he nearly fell back to his knees. He was a murderer; what would his Jiji think of him now? What would Ayame or Teuchi think; they were the kindest most caring people he had ever known.
What would it be like for the Hokage to have to sign his death warrant?
He shook his head viciously, he wouldn't let that happen; he would just go away, far away where he couldn't hurt anybody anymore and nobody could hurt him. His mind made up, if not still slightly shaken, Naruto took first one hesitant step before breaking out into a run. He didn't know where he was going and at that moment he didn't particularly care, just that it was away from Konoha, away from what used to be his home.
Chiriku was having a strange day; that much was certain when his teacup had unexpectedly cracked, staining his robes. After that one of the clocks on the walls had fallen off as he passed and he had found a dead bird on his windowsill. He had never been a particularly superstitious man despite being a monk, he had seen far too much in his time in the Twelve Guardian Ninja for any of that nonsense. Even so it was fairly hard to ignore all the strange omens he was receiving.
And now he was on Guard, dutifully patrolling the grounds of the fire temple. It was normally a rather mundane task, loathed by his fellow monks almost as much as grave-duty. So imagine his surprise when he stumbled across a small blonde-child, looking as if he hadn't eaten in some days, just lying in the middle of a forest clearing. He may have been a trained warrior but he was a monk first so his first inclination was to rush over and see if the child was okay.
He let out a small sigh of relief when he felt a pulse from the boy's wrist and immediately picked him up. His first reaction seemed to be right; the child was terribly malnourished and would require immediate care. He was walking back quickly when the boy began to stir; making soft groaning noises as he subconsciously buried himself further into Chiriku's warm body. He began to open his eyes and when the monk looked down he nearly dropped the boy.
After all it wasn't every day you looked into the rippled pattern of the Rinnegan.
A/N: Well here's that Naru/Fuu story I said I was going to write that a lot of you wanted after Yellow and Red makes, For those waiting on an update for Small Changes, sorry about that. I had exams, then I had computer issues (I hate writing on anything but my laptop... I'm weird like that) and now I just seem to have lost my steam on it. I know where it's supposed to go and I know what I should be writing but every time I stare at that blank page it's just like... nope, I got nothing. The journey of a hundred miles really does start with a single step. Anyway, I hope this will get my creative juices flowing again, expect pretty constant updates on this one, hey maybe I'll even match Red and Yellow, who knows?