Naruto Yūhi Mitarashi Uzumaki

Chapter 2: Enter Anko and Orochimaru

Light shined on Kurenai as a gentle breeze lifted over her skin. She never remembered her house being this cool, or smelling so much like grass and dirt. When she sat up, she found that her bed was a lot harder and thinner than it was supposed to be. Reaching out, she couldn't feel her lamp, or her nightstand. In fact, the first thing she grabbed was a rock. When she fully opened her eyes, she saw that she was lying on a cot under a giant tent. Next to her was her father sleeping on another cot. All around them were a number of civilians and shinobi.

Oh yeah, they moved us to training ground three last night. After she and her father returned to their destroyed apartment, a group of ANBU had taken them to a temporary camp, which was one of several training grounds that was being converted into temporary shelters for villagers who were more directly affected by the Kyubi attack. Memories of last night flooded her mind. She remembered the instantaneous appearance of the fox demon, being forced into the forest along with many other young ninja, and finally embracing her dying mother. She'd cry some more, but quite frankly, she had cried herself dry. So she just slumped back down on her makeshift bed and closed her eyes.

"Kure-nee-chan!" She'd recognize that hyperactive voice anywhere. Right as she stood up, she was plowed into by a mop of spiky purple hair. Looking down, her red eyes met with light brown ones. No matter what melancholy emotions marred her spirit, the sight of Anko Mitarashi's eyes filled with so much life always warmed her heart.

"She's happy to see you again," Orochimaru said as he approached the two young girls. Even if she was always seen with him, Kurenai found it hard to believe that Anko was really the apprentice to the snake sannin. They were complete opposites; he was calm, collected, and rarely, if ever, lost his temper. Anko was loud, brash, and would send armies of snakes at whatever poor sucker looked at her the wrong way. But Kurenai couldn't deny that being his student had done wonders for the young girl's growth. He had her perform the summoning jutsu better than most jonin; her poison identification skills and immunity was so far low to mid chunin level, but could only get better as time went on.

"We heard what happened as soon we got back to the village. Are you hurt?! Did that bastard fox try to make you its mistress?!" Questions kept pouring out of the young girl's mouth, so she didn't notice her friend blush.

"Anko, Anko, I'm fine," Kurenai said trying to calm down her highly excited friend.

"It's sweet that you care so much for her Anko-chan, but as you can see, Kurenai-san is unharmed. We heard about your and your father's loss. Both of you have our condolences."

"Thank you, Sannin-sama," Kurenai said with a respectful bow.

"Anko-chan, take the rest of the day off, Kurenai could use a friend right now. I have to meet sensei." In a swirl of leaves, Orochimaru disappeared.

"So Kurenai, do you want to talk or something?" Anko asked as she sat on the cot next to the red-eyed girl.

"Actually Anko, right now I could use a walk, wanna come?"

"But what about your dad here?" Anko pointed to the elder Yuhi still asleep.

"He should be fine on his own for a while. We won't be gone that long."

The young chunin and genin left at a leisurely pace. "So how was your training with Orochimaru-sama?"

"More or less the same. The trips kinda become vacations when I get the lessons down. Sensei says that we may go to the Land of the Sea next time." Anko grinned at the prospect. "I guess it's his gift to me as a way of saying thanks for being such an awesome student."

Wait, gifts? Why does that remind me of something? "Crap! Anko I just remembered, your twelfth birthday is only two weeks from now."

"Oh yeah, I actually forgot about that myself." Anko's grin turned sheepish at her own forgetfulness.

"So is there anything in particular you might want?"

Anko folded her hands behind her head and looked at the sky. "Not really sure. I'll let you know if something comes up." Both of them chuckled while they walked. Until they got to the village. They could see medical ninja rolling people into body bags. Kurenai stopped as her eyes fell to the wreckage of her old apartment. All the years she spent there, the memories with her parents; all gone in the course of a single night, because of that bastard demon fox. She knew that she hated that fox more than anything else in the world. Anko saw her friend's fist clench so hard that blood was starting to come from her palms. "Kurenai, maybe we should go somewhere else." She tried leading Kurenai away by the hand, but she quickly snatched it back.

"I'm fine Anko, I need to face this head on, like you always say."

"But Kurenai, there's only so much a person can handle at one time. You shouldn't push yourself so soon, besides, didn't Hokage-sama say that he wouldn't be assigning missions today. There's no reason for you to go back right now." While Anko seemed to have a complete lack of tact, she could understand emotions better than people gave her credit for. After all, when apprenticed to Orochimaru, you learned to pick up even the smallest bits of emotion.

Kurenai sighed, a sign that she had conceded. "Fine, I'll take your advice."

"C'mon, I know where you can forget about this." The two bypassed the village and kept running until they made it to a giant forest surrounded by a chain link fence. Anko inhaled deeply through her nose before letting out a relaxed breath. "*sigh*Home."

"Only you would think of calling the Forest of Death home."

"Thanks, now come on, it's been too long." They casually hopped over the fence and into the appropriately named forest. Most civilians would usually expect ninjas to patrol around the gates to keep people from going in, but the sheer size of the forest, and its moniker were all that was needed to keep people out; well, at least people with good survival instincts, and Anko was not one of those people.

Damn you old man! Orochimaru just left the Hokage Tower and felt like dissecting something slowly and painfully. Once again the position of Hokage had slipped out of his grasp. He was sure that the only thing that could've made him more enraged than he already was would be Sarutobi appointing that idiot Jiraiya as Godaime Hokage. He didn't seek the position for glory or power. Well, a little power would've been nice. To him, the job of Hokage would've simply given him the immunity to perform his experiments in peace without risk of being captured and/or killed.

Sensei is getting too smart for his own good, and mine. I must push forward with the tests of Hashirama-sama's DNA. Finding suitable test subjects and covering my tracks efficiently will take too long. I'll have to cut corners if I want results.

"Orochimaru-kun." The snake sannin found none other than Danzō Shimura standing in an alley. Orochimaru followed the elder into a building that had most of its roof blasted off.

"Danzō-sama, it's been too long. How is your arm holding up?"

"It's taken some getting used to, but there is no doubt in my mind that Senju-sama's DNA will become a powerful weapon in defending Konoha."

"All the same, you might want to only use the Shodaime's cells if you ever run out of other options. Right now there's no telling what could happen to you if were to use them excessively. You might end up sprouting leaves from you armpits," Orochimaru joked, albeit in a dark and nerve-wracking way.

Danzō's face remained impassive, and his voice held no emotions. "Then you'll need to run more experiments. Root will provide you with the necessary resources and destroy any evidence that points towards you."

"Your support is much appreciated, Danzō-sama."

"C'mon in Kure-nee." People are often discouraged from swimming in running water like a river or an ocean. Currents could drag you down at any time, or some predator from the deep could snatch you up in its mouth. Anko was a person who paid little attention to these warnings. At the moment, she stood neck deep in the river that ran through the Forest of Death.

"Anko get out of there, it's not safe," Kurenai called out from the riverbank.

"Ugh, fine." Anko walked out from the water in a purple one-piece swimsuit. Her hair was taken out of its spikey-fan ponytail and went down to the middle of her back. Kurenai slightly blushed as her friend put her clothes back on. While Anko's body hadn't fully developed yet, Kurenai couldn't help but feel that the young genin would grow into quite the woman.

"So are you ready for the Chunin Exams?" Kurenai asked, trying to change the subject.

"Do you think they'll get cancelled, what with the Kyubi attack and all?"

"Well, only parts of the village were damaged, plus, the exams aren't for another few months, and we don't know which village will be hosting the exams, but I've been hearing rumors that this year it'll be in Suna, so I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. Besides, you could always go to the Hokage and ask."

"If it is in Suna, I'll have to study up on the terrain in Wind country, and their dango. This year me and the guys will kick everyone's ass at the exams."

"Hmhm, good thing I'm already a chunin, or I'd have to suffer your wrath."

The two calmly walked towards the gate that bordered the forest. "Yeah, that jerk Ibiki may have won last time, but I swear I'll do better than everyone this year."

"Just try not to get too distracted with dango while you're there." Both of them laughed, but were silenced by the growling from Anko's stomach.

"Heh, guess I forgot to eat when me and sensei got back. Let's go see if the Dango shop survived. You sure you can deal with it Kurenai-chan?"

"I'll be fine Anko."

"Okay. After that we'll go to Old Man Sarutobi." Letting her hunger be her drive, and her nose being her guide, Anko dashed off to the village.

Minato-kun, right now I feel as if your death is some cruel prank on me, but only Kushina-chan could come up with something this horrible and evil. Hiruzen Sarutobi signed off and stamped sheets of papers that authorized the reconstruction of several buildings that were destroyed in the attack. He may have been the student of both the Shodaime and Nidaime Hokages, summoner of the Monkey King: Enma, and had lived through all three of the great shinobi world wars, but like all great Kage before him, paperwork was the one enemy that would never die. No matter how much he took care of in a single day, more would just appear the next, and sometimes the piles of white sheets on his desk never seemed to get any smaller. Plus living in a country full of trees never helped in matters like these. Honestly, if it weren't for thoughts of what Danzō would try to do, he would've welcomed Orochimaru to kill him, if only to be free of these wretched sheets and once again be next to Biwako. At fifty-six years old he had well lived past normal shinobi life expectancies, so he should be doing things people his age were expected to do like practicing calligraphy, light gardening, or just relaxing with a cup of warm tea. But no; instead he has to go back to running a village full of ninja that had been attacked by a demon kyubi just yesterday. To top it all off, he was now currently the caretaker for Minato's son.

Currently Naruto was wrapped in blankets and lying in a carrier underneath Sarutobi's desk. He told Orochimaru about Naruto's being the Kyubi's jinchuriki, and that Jiraiya was the boy's godfather, but he made sure to leave out the part about the boy's parentage. Ever since the death of Dan, and his pupil joining Danzō's Root organization, Hiruzen felt Orochimaru becoming more and more unstable with each passing moment. Though he hoped that he could sway Orochimaru into staying true to Konoha, he knew that as Hokage, he needed to do what had to be done. Besides, it's not like Orochimaru wouldn't figure it out on his own within a month or two, geniuses always did. At that moment, Naruto stirred in his carrier. His eyes fluttered open to reveal deep blue orbs. The innocence in the boy's face betrayed the presence locked within him.

Just change the shape of eyes and face, take off the whisker marks, and you'd think that Minato was reincarnated into this boy. Sarutobi enjoyed moments like these, and the thoughts that came along with them; it was a nice distraction from life as a shinobi and Hokage. Moments such as this also made him feel even older than he already was. The blond baby started crying. After raising two children, Hiruzen knew just what to do. He picked up Naruto, positioned him over his shoulders, and calmly walked around his office. "There, there Naruto-chan, it's okay. Jiji is here for you." He sat down and held out Naruto to face him. "Hmm, you look a lot like your father, but I can sense much of your mother's spirit inside of you. I think that your surname will be Uzumaki." The baby giggled at that, causing Sarutobi to chuckle as well. "You like that don't you?" Naruto laughed again. "Then Uzumaki it is. I think that will be for the better, your daddy had many enemies, and if you took his name, it wouldn't be good for you." Not that the child even understood what the strange man was saying. Talking to babies was a good refreshment from talking with either greedy, self-centered politicians, or battle-worn shinobi who've learned to kill their emotions.

I wonder if I should tell the villagers about what this child is doing for them. After all, they'd want to honor Minato's wishes and see this boy as a hero. *sigh* But after so much devastation, so much loss; we haven't stopped finding bodies; I can't be sure if they'll comply. Maybe Koharu and Homura should know, after all, they were the two most adamant about me naming Namikaze as my successor, but only because I passed Orochimaru up. *sigh* I shouldn't let my feelings cloud my judgment.

Sarutobi winced as, in his contemplative thoughts, Naruto had reached up and yanked his goatee. "It's too soon to be worrying about these issues. Right now I have work to do." The once-again Hokage placed the baby back in his carrier, and rocked it with his foot until the boy fell asleep. But what should I do with you right now. Jiraiya is still out and about, Tsunade refuses to set foot in the village, and I don't exactly trust Orochimaru. At that moment, the door opened to reveal Kurenai Yuhi and Anko Mitarashi.

"Anko-chan, good to see you again. Kurenai-chan, you know that I told you there'd be no missions today."

Both of them gave a respectful bow to the Sarutobi Clan head before Kurenai spoke. "We are actually here for a different reason. Anko-chan has a question for you."

Anko stepped forward. "Sandaime-sama, I wanted to know where the next Chunin Exams will be held."

"Well, no official venue has been set, but the Yondaime Kazekage has volunteered his village to host the event."

"Thank you very much for the information Lord Third." Just as the two girls were about to walk out the door, Naruto woke up and started crying yet again, drawing both of their attention. Hiruzen picked up the boy and started rocking him back and forth in an attempt to calm him down.

"Um, Hokage-sama, forgive me for asking but, why do you have a baby with you?" Kurenai said.

"This is Naruto. He's the son of a friend who died during the Kyubi attack. I offered to take care of him until things settled down, then he would be placed in the orphanage." Technically it wasn't lying. Suddenly an idea came to him. "Kurenai-san, since you're not busy at the moment, could you and Anko-san keep an eye on Naruto. I have too much work to do and I can't take care of a child at the same time."

"Of course Hokage-sama."

"I guess, the little lines on his cheeks are kinda cute," Anko said as she looked at the baby's face.

"Hokage-sama, if I may ask, who were this child's parents?" Damn it, Kurenai always knew when to ask the wrong questions at the worst times.

"I actually want to keep that a secret."

Kurenai quickly bowed while still holding Naruto. "Forgive me for prying Hokage-sama."

"It's alright, you were just curious. Now if both of you will go, I have a lot of paperwork to sort through." Without asking anymore questions, the two girls quickly left the Hokage's office.

"Now to get this crap done."

"Kurenai, do you even know anything about taking care of babies?" Anko questioned as they left the tower.

"I've been babysitting the kids of my mother's friends for years now Anko, I should be the one asking you that; after all, human babies are a lot different than snake babies."

"How hard could it be?"

"Well for one thing, humans aren't born knowing how to kill. They're also a lot more fragile than snakes."

"Sounds kinda boring when you put it that way." Before Kurenai could retort, Naruto tried reaching for her hair. "No Naruto-chan, you don't pull," Kurenai said as she used her finger to keep his hand down.

"So why'd you think Gramps won't tell us about this kid's parents?" Anko said as she looked carefully at the baby.

"Anko he said he didn't want to tell us, just leave it at that."

"Whatever." Anko put her hands behind her head in defeat. Naruto started crying inexplicably. "Oh shut him up already!" Anko screamed while covering her ears.

"Shh, it's okay Naru-chan. Are you hungry." Sniffing, Kurenai found no strange smells from his diaper, so he most likely was hungry. "Anko-chan, I need you to watch him while I get some baby formula, thanks," she said as she handed the baby blond off to her friend before taking off for a store.

"Not funny!" Anko called back, but Kurenai was already gone. She sat down on a bench and tried bouncing Naruto on her lap, but he wouldn't stop crying. "Uh, why can't you stop crying already?" But he only answered with more crying.

Shit, sensei really should've gone over child care years ago. "C'mon, please stop," she practically begged. She was thankful that at the very least there was no one outside to see her fail at taking care of a child, or get the wrong ideas about her. When she heard the sound of someone running, she saw Kurenai heading towards her with a shopping bag in hand.

"Finally, now try and get him to stop crying for the love of Kami."

"First I have to prepare the formula, and I'll need a warm water for that."

"My place wasn't hit, you can use my stuff." By the time they got to Anko's apartment Naruto was still crying.

"Damn it, you'd think this kid would've broken his throat by now." Anko reached into her cabinet and pulled out a box of painkillers; she was going to need them for this headache.

"Anko, here." Kurenai once again handed Naruto over to the purple-haired girl. She opened the formula can and poured some of the white powder into a baby bottle. She turned the faucet on and waited for it to heat up. After mixing the powder with water, shaking the bottle to make sure it was free of chunks, and checking how hot it was on her arm, Kurenai relieved Anko of her duties, much to the latter's delight, even though she had her hands clamped over her ears. Naruto still kept crying until Kurenai put the bottle in his mouth. As he started drinking, he calmed down.

"Ohh, the silence is golden!" Anko exclaimed as she laid back on her couch.

"Don't exaggerate Anko-chan, it wasn't that bad."

"Not that bad? How can you take care of these little demons without losing your hearing?"

Kurenai just shrugged as she continued to feed Naruto. "I guess you just get used to it."

"And you call me the crazy one," Anko muttered to herself, though still loud enough for Kurenai to hear. Within a matter of seconds the bottle was empty and Naruto was no longer crying.

"Well Naruto-chan, if I didn't know any better I'd have to say you were an Akimichi." Kurenai put Naruto over her shoulders and patted his back until he burped.

"Well, I will admit that when he isn't screaming his head off, the kid is actually kinda cute," Anko said, although somewhat reluctantly.

"I seem to recall you saying that the lines on his cheeks were cute," Kurenai said with a smirk.

Anko blushed at the remark. "I was just making a little comment." Anko kept stealing glances at the bundle-held baby in Kurenai's arms, which didn't go unnoticed by the red-eyed chunin. "Okay Anko, if you're going to keep this up, then just hold him already." At first the snake user gave a little resistance to holding the child, but when he was finally in her arms, she found his little blue eyes to be rather... calming. When the baby looked up at her, he tried to reach up to her face, but his arm was just too short. Instead, Anko placed her left index finger into his palm for him to grab.

"He's got an okay grip." Soon the boy's hold on Anko's finger loosened. She felt something warm and squishy on her arm, right before a horrible smell assaulted her nostrils. Kurenai noted her reaction and chuckled. "Forgot to warn you about messes." The older girl took the baby as Anko went to her bathroom to scrub herself. "Good thing I thought ahead." Kurenai said this to herself as she pulled out a pack full of diapers, a box of wipes, and some talcum powder. At first the changing went fine. She cleaned up Naruto without him going on her, though she squeezed the baby powder dispenser a little too hard and ended up getting it all over her face.

"*cough* *cough* Ugh, guess I'm a little out of practice." She put the new diaper on and threw the old one out into the dumpster underneath Anko's window, two floors down. "Feel better now Naruto-chan?" The boy clapped his hands as best he could for a one-day-old.

Anko came out of the bathroom drying her arm and grumbling to herself. "No good little brat, pissin' on me..."

"Admit it Anko, you find him cute," Kurenai teased. Anko just folded her arms and puffed out her cheeks in a mock pout. Naruto kept reaching out to the strange purple-headed lady. "I think he wants to be with you."

"Fine, but he better not try anything funny again." After five minutes of holding him, Naruto finally nodded off in Anko's arms. "When he's not using me for a bathroom, he's okay; he's kind of like the little brother I never had." She was saying this more to herself than to Kurenai.

"Could it be, the great Anko Mitarashi has a soft spot for babies," Kurenai said in faux astonishment.

"Shut up Kure-nee-chan."

Author's Note: Before anyone starts bitching about how my timeline is all out of whack, and I know people would try, let me prove my point using basic math and reasoning.

1. At the start of the series Anko is 24 years old, twice as old as Naruto. But, her birthday is a whole two weeks after his. Therefore, if you were to go back 12 years from Naruto's birthday, then Anko would be 11 years old.

2. According to the Naruto wiki, Anko made chunin at age twelve, but it never really states if she was with Orochimaru or not. In manga chapter 599: Obito Uchiha, Anko's team, consisting of Kabuto's Jonin sensei and an unnamed genin went up against Ibiki, Genma, and Tokara. Given that this was when Obito was still part of Team Minato, it can be assumed that they lost.

And besides, even if someone were to disprove me, as there may have been something I overlooked, it's not like I would be the first person to screw around with when and how things happen, that's why this is fanfiction.