Chapter 1 – It all started with a promise (... and a bit of evil chakra)
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
'Kyuubi/Tailed beast speech'
*edit - thanks for beta goes to TheVastEmptiness*
*edit 2 - I realize this story begins with a lot of cliché but try to give it another chance*
Even more rage.
Naruto took a last glance at his left, at the unmoving body of his teammate and rival, Sasuke Uchiha.
Oh, how he hated that prick. It was really simple, the boy behaved like an asshole most of the time.
But never once he thought that Sasuke would die before he finally managed to surpass him and rub it in his face.
The mission to Wave Country was supposed to be an easy C-rank task.
Take the builder, escort him to his land, and protect him from damned bandits.
As luck usually hated Naruto, it ended completely different.
On their way to Wave, they ran across the Demon Brothers and, after that, they met in a fierce battle with the A-ranked missing nin from the Village in the Mist, Zabuza Momoichi. As their sensei happened to be the famous copy-ninja, Kakashi Hatake, they won, thinking that the demon was dead.
However, when Kakashi woke up from chakra exhaustion, as he overused his Sharingan in that fight, they quickly realized that they were tricked and Zabuza was still alive.
They were then waiting for the second attack on the bridge builder, which soon came.
Naruto, Sasuke and even Sakura trained under Kakashi's tutelage for some basics that should have helped them in the upcoming battle.
Only now Naruto knew how much his sensei sucked.
Ever since Kakashi took over Team 7, it was probably only the second time that he'd trained the young Genin.
It was now evident.
Kakashi picked Zabuza, leaving his accomplice to the Genin... that was a fatal mistake.
Haku, Zabuza's partner, was on a much higher level than they could handle.
After creating his Demonic Mirroring Ice Crystals, Haku quickly showed them just how much stronger the young shinobi was.
It happened so fast that Naruto was still in shock. Sasuke, after finally activating his Sharingan, could somewhat see the trajectories of the senbon needles that Haku continuously fired at them.
When Haku noticed it, he switched his target and aimed at Naruto.
Naruto couldn't evade the attack in time, and then something happened.
One second, Sasuke was standing a few meters away from him, the next second, he was falling down after getting hit in vital places with senbon needles.
The sight of his dead teammate was enough for Naruto to snap.
Now, an evil, demonic chakra started to emerge from his body, engulfing him completely, cracking the ice mirrors with its pure pressure.
While Haku was still getting over the surprise, Naruto's consciousness slipped away.
In Naruto's mindscape
"I recognize this chakra... this feeling..." A giant nine-tailed fox growled in his cage inside Naruto's mind.
"... Sharingan..." He finished and widened his eyes as he felt some of his chakra enter Naruto's system.
"I see... so the brat finally calls upon my power, even if he's doing it unconsciously...aaah, that's a good fee-" His eyes snapped open as he suddenly felt something in Naruto's body, which forced him to cringe in disgust.
"So, that's why the kid is still like this... why he has so many problems... disgusting humans. Even I wouldn't go that far..." Growling again, he tried to push more of his chakra into Naruto, but the Seal on his cage prevented him.
Meanwhile, Naruto woke up to the floating feeling he had in his body.
He blinked and tried to observe his surroundings.
"Where am I? It stinks in here." He grimaced and, tilting on one side, he managed to stand up in the water that was reaching almost to his waist.
"A sewer?" He wondered as he finally recognized his location.
Looking to his right, he noticed weird tubes running along the walls. Liking their colors, he decided to follow them.
Walking slowly, eventually he emerged in a huge, open area, with a cage door at its end.
"What's a cage doing here?" He asked aloud and jumped backwards after a single blood shot eye appeared in the dark.
"You have come, brat... I would welcome you, but you would need to come closer." Kyuubi said maliciously and licked his teeth.
Naruto gulped in fear at the huge silhouette that could be seen behind the bars.
"Who are you? Where am I?" He yelled with a hint of fear in his voice.
With an amused expression, Kyuubi dropped his head to look closer at him and grinned deviously.
"Even someone as dumb as you should have realized the obvious answer, brat."
Looking offended, Naruto got over his fear and clenched his fists.
"Are you calling me stupid... stupid?" He yelled, making Kyuubi sweatdrop.
'I'm officially embarrassed that he's my host... if that won't help, I swear I'll try to kill myself.'
"You can say that... but it's not your fault that you're what you are... and so that you won't ask more pointless questions, I am the great Nine-tailed demon, Kyuubi."
Naruto recoiled and his eyes bulged out.
"Eeeeeeeh? What are you doing here, stupid fox?"
With his mouth twitching, Kyuubi hit the floor with his paw.
"Silence you disrespectful human. Don't forget with whom you're talking. Normally, I wouldn't even bother communicating with you at all, so be thankful." He roared and made Naruto swallow heavily.
"F-fine, but why should I be thankful? You're the reason Konoha hates me and the reason for all those... " He shuddered and pushed the painful memories back.
Seeing that, Kyuubi was torn between tormenting him with those memories and calming down.
He choose the second option, as he wanted to be done as quickly as he could.
"I know, that's one of the reasons I hate humans. They are judgmental and incomprehensibly stupid most of the time... I saw what your life was like and, for surviving so far, you earned a tiny piece of respect from me. But that's it." He said more calmly.
Naruto growled himself a bit but held his tongue.
"So where am I?" He asked.
"You are in your mindscape... in your mind. Outside, you called out to my power and when I felt something odd, I pulled you here, so that we could talk." Kyuubi replied, watching many expressions run through Naruto's face.
"Yes, brat... odd."
'How should I say this without him freaking out... that would be too troublesome...'
A short silence fell between them. Naruto was waiting for the Kyuubi to say something and the fox was trying to think of how to say what he wanted to say.
Settling on his approach, Kyuubi tilted his head.
"Brat... did you ever notice, that you are a little bit different from your peers?" He asked carefully.
Naruto only scratched his head and tilted his head too.
"Uhm, no? I am?"
'Oh, Old man Rikudo, give me strength...' Kyuubi whined in his mind.
"Yes, you are. If you looked closer, you'd notice it. Unlike the rest of your peers, you are scrawny, short, obnoxious and loud, have problems molding chakra, and, most of all, you are quite stupid."
The blond in front of him opened his mouth to make an angry retort but Kyuubi cut him off.
"Say what you what, be insulted, but it's true and, deep down, you know it too. I know your true feelings that you don't want to show to anybody and that even your shouting about becoming a Hokage is just to give yourself some courage. I know everything about the days you spend alone in the apartment, depressed over not getting enough attention. I know it all... don't forget that." It was almost funny, if it wasn't actually sad, seeing Naruto's expression suddenly fell and settle at anguish.
"I... I guess... so? You liked it didn't you? To see me suffer, to see me being tormented, beaten up... and... that..." He unexpectedly yelled, surprising the Kyuubi.
With a frown, the nine-tails shook its head.
"Maybe at the beginning I enjoyed it, but as those attacks became more frequent and brutal, even I couldn't take it as fun, even if they were mostly just psychological... and that moment... it made even me angry... but enough of this trip to your memories. I only wanted to say one thing. That you are different from the rest of your frien...no... peers, is not completely your fault. When that happened, a seal was put on you that screwed up your brain and affected your body in a bad way." Kyuubi stated with obvious disgust in his voice.
Naruto widened his eyes and fell on his butt.
"Wha... what? Why?" He whispered, not believing that the villagers would resort to something like that. Being a ninja was always his dream and they wanted to take away even that?
"If I had to guess, I'd say that they were afraid that you would say what happened and tried to erase your memories, but failed. Instead they created a part-idiot, who had little chance of becoming a shinobi of Konoha." The giant fox replied, wrinkling his nose.
"B-but Hokage-jiji would notice..." Naruto gritted his teeth.
"From what I recall, and it's not much, since that seal kind of knocked me out in that moment, they covered their tracks, using the help of the hospital staff so that even the Hokage probably couldn't notice it."
"Why are you telling me this? I can't get rid of that seal myself and I don't want to tell Hokage-jiji about this." Naruto asked after a moment of silence.
"Because... I can get rid of it." Kyuubi said, shocking the Genin.
"Why would you that? No wait... why should I even trust you? You're trying to get out of this seal, aren't you?" Naruto exclaimed, surprising the fox.
'Sooo, he has some moments of clarity even now.'
"Yes, I want to get out of the seal... but I'm also immortal so I can wait for my release and right now, I'm interested in what you could do with yourself without having restraints... additionally, I felt your teammate activating his Sharingan... and let me tell you one thing. I hate humans... but if there's something I hate even more, it's the cursed Sharingan of the Uchihas... don't ask me why... but it's like that, and I decided to help you so that you could show him that being an Uchiha doesn't mean he's the best... to put it bluntly, I want to see you kick his ass so hard, he won't be able to sit for a week." Kyuubi stated with a dangerous glint in his eyes, making Naruto back away a little.
'Well... I'd be happier if every Uchiha ended up as dead meat, but for now, this will be enough.'
"How should I know that you're not tricking me?" Naruto questioned the Kyuubi.
The great demon sighed.
"You're still asking about that? I already told you... but if you're still suspicious... the only thing that needs to be done for me to be able to help you, is to loosen this seal that keeps me here. But only a tiny bit. I need to push a bit more chakra into your system to be able to flush that blasted thing from you. I'm not asking for more. Even you should know, that until you completely rip this seal away, I can't get out." He explained and almost laughed when Naruto tried to think of another argument.
When nothing came up to his mind, Naruto slowly nodded.
"Fine. I'll do it."
Carefully walking to the cage, Naruto jumped to the seal and lifted the right corner of it.
Jumping back down, he widened his eyes as he felt more of Kyuubi's chakra entering his system.
'So much chakra from loosening the seal only this much? That fox must really be crazy strong.' He gulped and looked back at Kyuubi, who closed his eyes and focused.
"Go back to the real world, I'll work quickly and for that short period you can use the rest of my chakra to defeat the one who's trying to defeat you... oh, and so you know, your precious Uchiha isn't dead, that boy you're fighting against only put him into a sleep similar to death." Kyuubi mumbled when Naruto stared to feel his presence vanishing.
"Aaah... that's good. I still need to kick his ass... and Sakura would be devastated." He replied and disappeared.
'That infatuation with the girl is weird too... I should look for any other seal.' The fox thought and got to work.
'What is this chakra? It's so... evil... and it's even changing its form... but that's impossible!' Haku thought as he watched the red chakra swirling around Naruto.
He looked closer at the Genin and widened his eyes.
'The cuts on his hands... they are healing! What is this boy?!' He was shaken out of his stupor when Naruto suddenly turned his head and looked him directly in the eye.
Naruto's eyes were no longer the same blue color he'd always had. Instead, they were dark orange, almost red, with slits for pupils.
Overall... he was looking more feral and dangerous than ever.
Glancing at the unconscious Sasuke again, he raised his head and roared, just as Haku shot another set of senbon at him, knocking them down with sonic pressure.
'What the?' Haku thought and quickly flashed to the next mirror when he barely noticed Naruto's fist closing in on him.
Without losing any momentum, Haku started to flash across his mirrors, always launching a set of needles at him while inside a mirror for a moment.
When he couldn't hit him, as the blond started to dodge them, he thought he couldn't get any more surprised.
He was wrong.
Just as he was trying to flash to the next ice mirror, he felt a hand gripping his wrist and he turned his head in shock.
'No way! He caught me?'
He couldn't think anymore as a quick and heavy right hook sent him crashing through his own jutsu and he painfully landed on the cold stone, outside of his ice dome, his mask crumbling.
Spitting blood on the floor, he barely had enough strength to stand again and Naruto was already in mid-jump, aiming another punch at him.
With a sudden realization, a sad smile settled on his face.
'Zabuza-san... I cannot defeat this boy...'
The jinchuuriki stopped his fist a mere inch before Haku's face as he finally registered his opponent's features.
Haku's mask fell completely just as he was trying to stand up and now it was the only thing that saved him.
"You... you're from that time in the forest..." Naruto choked out, his fist still trembling.
"Yes... why did you stop? I killed your precious friend, don't you want to avenge him?" Haku asked dully.
Slowly retracting his hand, Naruto shook his head.
"Sasuke is not dead."
"Don't lie to yourself, he's dead and I-" He was interrupted when Naruto lightly punched him, enough to send him to the ground again.
"You don't lie to me... you did to Sasuke the same thing you did to Zabuza when we first fought him. You just put him to sleep." Naruto said and glanced at the wide-eyed Haku.
"So you noticed... but it doesn't matter... I failed Zabuza-san... you defeated me, taking away my only reason to live as Zabuza-san has no need for a weak weapon." Haku smiled at him and stood up again.
Naruto gritted his teeth.
"Why are doing this for a guy who sees you as disposable trash? I don't understand it! Is he so important to you?" He yelled at Haku, who only looked down.
"I had other precious and important people once... my parents..."
"So-" Naruto was cut off when Haku continued.
"...until my father killed my mother and tried to kill me." He finished, freezing Naruto with his words.
Blinking, Haku looked at his hands and grimaced.
"I was born in a snowy village in the Mist country, where, after countless civil wars those with advanced blood abilities... with Bloodline limits became hated..."
"You mean... your ice?" Naruto asked and watched as Haku sadly nodded.
"Yes... a person with a Bloodline limit could be used as a powerful weapon and kill many people with his special abilities... that happened many times so the rest of villagers started hunting those with Bloodline limits, forcing them to go into hiding... your friend with the Sharingan must have lived through hardships too, as we are often feared...one day, my father found out that my mother was one of them as well as the fact that I carried her Bloodline limit too and he got enraged."
'That's cruel...' Naruto thought.
"Before I knew what was happening... I killed my father and realized the painful truth..."
"That in this world... I am an unwanted person."
A flash of recognition flew across Naruto's eyes when he realized something.
'He's the same as me...'
"Zabuza-san found me and took me in... he gave me a reason for living... I was so happy..." Naruto widened his eyes when a tear escaped from Haku's eye.
"And now I failed him...Naruto-kun... please... kill me." Haku stated numbly, staring directly into Naruto's eyes.
The Genin backed away and swallowed heavily.
"Wha... no! You're not just a weapon! You're a person just as I am, just as Zabuza is and just as anyone else is! If you failed Zabuza, then find another purpose in your life! Don't just give up!" Naruto jumped back and grabbed Haku by his shoulders, shaking him.
Haku only smiled at him.
"I see... you've never killed before... you are kind, too. However, you need to learn that in this profession... when being a ninja, you sometimes can't choose what to do and you have to kill even those close to you."
When Naruto shook his head, Haku's face hardened.
"Do it, Naruto... please...? I cannot live without Zabuza-san... please accept this. You will only do me a favor by doing this. Sooner or later, you'd need to have your first kill and it will be rough. Do it now and you'll at least have time to get over it... if you won't do it, I really will kill your friend." Widening his eyes further, Naruto looked at Haku, who's face held submission as well as resolve.
With shaking hands, he took out his kunai and raised his hand.
Seeing that, Haku grabbed it and put it over his heart.
"Thank you, Naruto-kun... do it and do not mourn me, as I'll be in a better place... do it and become stronger... I can see it in your eyes... you've lived through many hardships yourself, but there is still a Will to keep on living in them... an urge to change things, to change the ways of shinobi... promise me that you'll do that... and I'll be the first one to tell you this..."
Haku trailed off and, unexpectedly, he closed in on Naruto and lightly kissed him on the lips.
"I believe in you." He said and put both of his hands on Naruto's.
With a smile and just before he forced the kunai in his heart, he chuckled at Naruto's expression.
"Just so you know... I lied. I'm actually a girl."
When Naruto was able to move again, his mind finally understood what happened.
He wanted to touch his mouth, but with horror he realized that his hands were covered in blood.
As he glanced down, at the ground in front of him, he found the lifeless body of Haku lying in a pool of blood but still wearing a genuine and happy smile.
It was in that moment that the mist surrounding the bridge cleared itself, showing every member of Team Seven, along with Zabuza, still standing although he was surrounded by Kakashi's summons that were keeping him in one place.
"Naruto! I'm glad that you're okay..." Kakashi's relieved voice trailed off when he noticed that Naruto was shaking and that his hands were covered in blood.
Seeing the dead body next to him, he quickly understood the situation.
'First kill... and it must have happened just now... damn... .' Kakashi cursed mentally and prepared his Chidori, so that he could finish off Zabuza.
"Impossible... Haku lost?" Zabuza whispered in disbelief.
"Naruto! Where is Sasuke-kun?" Sakura yelled at him frantically and, seeing Sasuke's unmoving body in the distance, she widened her eyes and ran to him, not giving Naruto even one look.
'Sasuke?' Kakashi thought worriedly but forced himself to focus on Zabuza, who still couldn't get over his shock.
Just as Kakashi went to jump to Zabuza and finish him off, a sly voice cut through the silence.
"What is this? You couldn't handle those weak Konoha ninjas? Pathetic... and you call yourself a Demon. But I guess I'm in luck. I never really intended to pay you, rather I wanted to kill you afterwards and this just makes things easier."
"Shit." Kakashi cursed again.
'I'm too low on chakra.'
In the distance, he could see Gato with his regiment of bandits staring at Zabuza scornfully.
The Demon of the Mist glared at the short business man.
"Kakashi..." Zabuza called out to the Jonin.
"...this fight is over... I no longer have any reason to go after Tazuna, therefore our fight is over."
Kakashi looked only slightly surprised, but quickly nodded.
As Gato walked forward, he noticed Haku's lifeless body.
"Oh yeah, that's the bastard that almost broke my arm... oi, you lot, give me some arrows so I can shoot him!" He yelled at his bandits, who gave him a small crossbow with a single arrow.
Gato aimed at Haku and took the shot, which was heading to Haku's head.
When Kakashi noticed it, he frowned deeply. Even in the war, mutilating dead bodies was considered a disgusting practice.
Just when he wanted to turn his head away, from the corner of his eye he saw a small movement and widened his eyes.
In the last second before the arrow hit her, Naruto jumped in front of Haku, deflecting the shot with a kunai.
"You bastard..." He quietly whispered and the red chakra that'd almost disappeared from him engulfed him once more, scaring the bandits with its evil nature.
'So I was right... he's now able to tap into Kyuubi's chakra... Naruto, be careful, you're still not over your first kill...' Kakashi thought worriedly. Last time he felt this chakra, he lost his sensei and a lot of his friends and, given Naruto's current emotional state... he was afraid that something bad could happen.
"You bastard..." Naruto repeated this time more loudly, and, surprisingly, he turned to Zabuza.
"Say something you bastard... weren't you always with Haku? Don't you feel anything at all?"
"Shut up, kid..." Zabuza growled at him.
"... I used Haku just as Gato used me... I already told you. In the shinobi world, there are those who use and those who are used. We, shinobi, are simply tools to be used by our leaders. It's the same with Haku... I only wanted the blood she carried in her veins, not her... that's all."
'She?' Kakashi thought in surprise.
Naruto widened his eyes and took a step towards Zabuza.
"Hey... do you really mean that?"
Kakashi jumped to Naruto and went to grab him, but the Genin ducked under him.
"Stop, Naruto! He's not our enemy anymore and...!" Kakashi tried to stop him.
"BULLSHIT! HE IS MY ENEMY!" Naruto yelled, pointing at Zabuza.
Meanwhile, Gato turned to his henchmen.
"Who's this annoying brat?"
"She... she really loved you god-damn it! She loved you so much that she was willing to die for you!" Naruto yelled at Zabuza again.
"Do you really... really feel nothing at all? If I become as strong as you... will I really become like you? She threw away her life for you... died, thinking she was just a tool to you..." When his tear fell to the ground, Naruto clenched his fists.
"... that's not... that's just too sad..." He couldn't continue anymore, but he raised his head when Zabuza interrupted him.
"Kid... just... you don't need to yell anymore..." As Zabuza turned his head towards him, Naruto noticed a lone tear trying to escape from Zabuza's eye and his own tears multiplied.
"... Haku was too kind for his own good... you also noticed it didn't you? That even when he was fighting, he couldn't bring himself to kill you and only tried to knock you out..." Zabuza grimaced and looked up at the sky.
"A shinobi is still a human being after all... and I've just lost everything... "
"...kid, let me borrow your kunai." He stated and glanced at Naruto who nodded and tossed him the small weapon.
When Zabuza jumped towards the bandits and eventually cut off Gato's head, the Kyuubi's chakra slowly started to disappear.
Kakashi almost wanted to sigh in relief, when Naruto suddenly screamed and fell on the floor, unconscious.
So instead, his eyes widened in alarm and he quickly got to him, trying to find out what had happened.
"Sensei! Sasuke-kun is alive! He's okay!" He heard Sakura shouting at him from a distance.
Nodding to himself, glad that his students survived, he found nothing out of the ordinary with the blond.
'He would almost look asleep if he wasn't wearing that painful expression.'
After the citizens of the village, led by Inari, Tazuna's son, came and with Kakashi's help scared off the rest of the bandits, Kakashi moved Zabuza, so that he could look one last time at Haku's smiling face, before finally succumbing to his injuries.
"It's over..." Kakashi mumbled tiredly and let himself and his students be carried to Tazuna's house.
He next time Naruto woke up was in the middle of the night.
'Damn... my head hurts... and I feel... weird... 'He thought and waited till his eyes got used to the darkness.
When they did, he realized that he was back in Tazuna's house, but he had no idea how many days had passed since the battle of the bridge.
'Bridge...' Naruto grimaced when he remembered what had happened in that fight.
Memories of Haku, her smile, goodbye kiss, and his kunai in her heart, flooded Naruto's mind and he had to fight the urge to vomit.
'I hope that your words were true, Haku, and that you are indeed in a better place... you would be happy to know that, after everything, Zabuza loved you too and you weren't just a simple tool to him.' Blinking, trying to get rid of a tear in his eye, he sighed.
After he blacked out at the bridge, the only thing he could remember was the fact that every memory that was stored in his mind replayed itself, which wasn't very comfortable. However, it felt like he could finally try to move on from them and not stay like he was up until yesterday, trying to bury them in the back of his mind and force to hide the occasional depression, just to fool the rest of the village.
Yes, he decided that it was enough of the overly cheerful Naruto that Konoha knew. It was time for a more collected Uzumaki, a shinobi that will train himself continuously, until he'll show everyone just how wrong they were when they tried to kick him out from Konoha.
'Wait a minute... I can... think more clearly and I'm even using words that I thought to be too difficult to use in actual speech... whoa, speech... never used that word before...' Naruto widened his eyes a little.
'So I guess the fox didn't lie and he really got rid of those seals...' The discovery that those seals really existed however, saddened and deeply hurt Naruto.
He'd never really liked the villagers of Konoha, along with its shinobi, save for a few exceptions. But this new knowledge was taking away even that small amount of love he held towards Konoha away.
'I shouldn't think like that... well, I suppose I should visit the fox and thank him.'
Naruto had never before tried to get inside his mindscape of his own volition, but now that he knew it was possible, he concentrated and after a few minutes, he felt his consciousness slipping.
"Oi, Kyuubi, where are you?" He yelled as soon as he appeared in the familiar sewers.
"You are loud, brat..." Kyuubi growled tiredly from behind the bars, opening one of his eyes. When he noticed that Naruto had an odd expression on his face, he came a little bit closer.
"What is it, brat... if you hadn't noticed, I was sleeping. Getting rid of that seal without screwing you up was more difficult than I'd thought it would be. But it seems my efforts are bearing fruit, you already look less stupid than you did before." He grinned, showing sharp set of teeth to Naruto.
"Hush, furball, I'm trying to say 'thanks for getting rid of that seal'... but it's not that easy as I still kind of resent you." Naruto frowned and raised his head to stare into Kyuubi's eye.
"I don't need your thanks, impudent child... just do what I told you and get strong enough so that you won't embarrass me as my host." The nine-tails replied with a twitching eye. He didn't appreciate the nickname 'furball'.
"Yeah, I was already thinking about it. H-Haku said that she believed I could change things, that I could go far, and I don't intend to disappoint her. As soon as we're back in the village, I'll train harder than ever." Naruto exclaimed, resolve burning in his eyes.
"If I knew that all it would take for you to try and get stronger was a simple kiss, I'd call a stranger." Kyuubi smirked, but immediately realized his mistake when Naruto visibly cringed as a bad memory flashed across his mind.
"Yeah..." He agreed numbly.
'Ah... and there went his resolve... 'The giant fox thought grimly.
"About your training... I'll give you one tip as to how to get stronger even faster... " He continued, instantly getting Naruto's attention.
"Really? What is it?"
Shaking his head at the quick turn of his emotions, Kyuubi sighed.
"You should have realized it by now and maybe it would be better if you thought about it yourself, but we've been talking too much lately and I don't want to see you so soon, so I'll tell you. Your shadow clones."
Naruto just raised his eyebrow, ignoring the insult.
"What about them?"
"Don't you think it's interesting that the Multiple Shadow Clone jutsu is a forbidden technique? Would it be that just for the fact that it uses great amounts of chakra? No. I realized it as soon as you started to use it. Every experience that each clone accumulates is transmitted back to the original user as soon as the clone is dispelled. Think about your chakra reserves and that you can create almost a thousand of them." Kyuubi stated and waited for the wheels in Naruto's head to spin.
It took him only a few seconds, but when he figured it out, he widened his eyes and pointed at the fox.
"Aaaaah! No freaking way... that's such an overpowered jutsu! If I use my clones to train... I could be on Chūnin level soon!"
Kyuubi grinned deviously at him.
"Indeed. Do yourself a favor and train especially hard. Just one more bit of advice... don't release your clones all at the same time... you could faint from an information overload. Right now you are weak, a lot weaker than the Uchiha brat... at least without using my chakra, so train your body, train your mind, train your chakra control and widen your jutsu repertoire. Those are the main parts that you should concentrate on. The rest is on you... now go away, I want to sleep." With that farewell gift, Kyuubi crawled further into the cage and lied down.
'You'll see Haku. I'll do it... I'll change the shinobi ways.' Naruto thought with clenched fists and his resolve ignited itself again.
When Naruto disappeared from his own mindscape, Kyuubi finally closed his eyes, satisfied with himself.
'Now... show me what you can do... show me that you're not a weakling and earn my respect. If you do well enough... I may even have a surprise for you, Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze.'
When Naruto awoke for the second time, light was already piercing through the windows, brightening the room.
"I see that you are finally with us, Naruto. I'm glad." Kakashi's voice cut through the silence, just as Naruto was about to stand up.
Turning around to face him, Naruto glanced at the rest of the room. Finding it empty, he motioned his sensei to sit next to him.
"What is it, Naruto? Want to talk about your first kill? It's always a bad experience but..." He trailed off when Naruto shook his head.
"No, Kakashi-sensei... I... I think I'll be okay. H-Haku was right, I needed this sooner or later and it was better to do it when things weren't as dangerous as they could be."
Kakashi only eye-smiled at him from behind his mask.
'It's almost like he matured during the night.'
"No... what I wanted to talk about was the fight itself... Kakashi-sensei, I apologize if I'm being rude... but up until now, I never thought that you sucked." Naruto stated, staring calmly at his teacher.
Kakashi was taken aback.
"Uhm... I... suck?" He repeated after the blonde.
"Yes, sensei. We only barely made it through this mission. I know that it was supposed to be only C-rank originally and now that it has reached A-rank, we, Genin, never should have taken it. Nevertheless... you never seriously trained us before, with the exception of one training session after you became our sensei and the tree climbing exercise, and it almost cost us our lives." Naruto told him grimly and watched as Kakashi frowned.
"But what's done is done. I'm not here to yell at you or anything like that. I want to ask you if you could point me to what I could train in and I'll train by myself. Sakura is still over the moon about Sasuke so I don't want to train with her and Sasuke... I want to surprise him by becoming stronger than him." Kakashi only raised one visible eyebrow at the missing suffix for Sakura and sighed.
"Naruto... you are partly right. I never trained you, but it's because I honestly thought that you would try to train by yourselves. I'm your sensei, but it doesn't mean I'm overlooking everything. You three are now shinobi of Konoha and getting stronger should be your own responsibility... but... I should have said something... that's true. And I know that you and Sasuke are rivals, but getting stronger than Sasuke will be hard. He is quite far ahead of you." He replied, rubbing his chin.
Naruto only grinned cunningly at him.
"Don't worry about that. I have something that he doesn't have. I just need some pointers."
Kakashi squinted his eye curiously.
'Does he mean Kyuubi? Naaah, he's too young to try and consciously use its chakra... doesn't matter, the important thing is that he wants to train.'
"All right. I can assess your strong and weak points... but for now, let's go eat. You've been out of it for two days so you should be quite hungry... I'm actually surprised you aren't jumping about out of hunger. After you're done with your meal, meet me in the forest where we did the climbing exercise."
A small smile crept onto Naruto's face and he nodded enthusiastically, sprinting down the stairs to eat breakfast.
Later, in the forest.
"Naruto, I'll be blunt, so try not to get offended." Kakashi started as he stared seriously at his student.
Naruto grimaced but nodded.
"I'll start with your weaknesses. Your Genjutsu is non-existent at the moment and along with your poor chakra control, you are susceptible to illusions that could easily knock you out of the game. So what you should do first is to improve your chakra control and at least learn how to quickly recognize and dispel Genjutsu. Next is your Taijutsu. It's a tad better than Genjutsu, but still, a high-level Genin could take you down. Try to find some style that would fit you and master it. Your kunai control is average, improve it too. Maybe you could try to find another type of weapon, but that's optional." Kakashi listed and Naruto had to keep himself from sighing. He'd expected something like that.
"Now, the rest. Your Ninjutsu is good, but you have quite a limited arsenal. With your huge chakra reserves you're suited for using many jutsu in rapid succession, overwhelming your opponent quickly. You also have brutal stamina, which allows you to go far beyond the limits of not even Genin, but most Chunin too. However... even if you have amazing stamina, your body is still not trained enough. There is a way, using weights... but that's Gai's style, so you can use Gravity seals. I bet you've never heard of them, but I think it's the best method. You can easily buy them back in Konoha." Kakashi frowned when Naruto suddenly seemed downcast.
"What is it?"
"Uhm... sensei... wou-would it be too much trouble if I asked you to buy them for me? I'm not... welcomed in that particular store." Naruto explained, widening Kakashi's eye with his statement.
'So those idiots are still blaming him for Kyuubi?'
Shaking his head, Kakashi reached into his pocket.
"Take these, I used to use them for myself, but they are too low-level for me now."
Naruto looked at him in surprise.
"You'd give them to me? Just like that?" He asked in disbelief.
"Well, to be honest, I wanted to give them to one of you three, I was just waiting for the right moment and since nobody mentioned any training I forgot about them." Kakashi admitted, embarrassed.
"Cool." Naruto exclaimed and allowed his sensei to put them on his limbs.
Forming a single seal, Kakashi activated the first level, making Naruto's eyes go even wider.
"Whoa... it feels like something heavy is pressing on each of my limbs." Naruto stated and tried to move. It was hard but after a few minutes he got used to it a little bit.
"This is only the first level. There are an additional four of them. When you want to raise the level, just form a ram seal. If you want to release the gravity, form an ox seal. After you manage to overcome each of these five levels, your body should be roughly on high-Chunin to low-Jonin level, so don't think you can do it in a week." Kakashi lectured.
'No kidding. It'll take me a week to get to the second level as something tells me that Clones can't be used for physical training.' Naruto thought and sat down again.
"Last thing... I noticed that you seem different since that battle on the bridge... more mature and less rash... you could even say even smarter, but you should also work on your intelligence. How to overcome difficult situations that could occur on missions or how to create tactics against your enemies." Kakashi continued seriously and to his surprise Naruto nodded, blatantly ignoring the jab at his previous behavior.
"Yeah, that's actually one of my priorities... but I have one question about Ninjutsu. I know that there are many types of jutsu but it seems that most shinobi can use only jutsu of one or two types... why?" Kakashi was surprised further.
"I never expected that you'd be the first one to ask about Elemental affinities, but it seems you're still unpredictable. So listen... as you probably know, there are five basic elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Lightning. Every next element is weaker than the previous. It means that Earth is weak against Lightning but strong against Water. Water is weak against Earth but strong against Fire and so on. Every shinobi has an affinity to at least one element, allowing him easier use of that element." He explained and almost smiled when Naruto immediately raised his hand for another question.
"Does that mean that if I have, for example, an affinity to Wind, I can use only Wind jutsu?"
"No. It only means that you can learn how to use them more easily. Training and hard work can allow you to use more elements, creating an artificial affinity, but some elements are out of your reach and you can only use them with limited strength or not at all. Most Jonin can use two, some even three elements sufficiently."
Naruto nodded, trying to remember everything.
"So how do I know what my affinities are?" He asked in an excited voice.
"Using..." Kakashi trailed off dramatically and quickly pulled out a piece of paper.
"Uhm... and what's that?" Naruto sweatdropped at him.
Sad when he got no reaction from Naruto, Kakashi handed him the piece.
"This is special chakra paper that reacts to the chakra you put into it. It reacts differently to every element. Try putting a bit of your chakra into it."
Still skeptical, Naruto concentrated and pushed a portion of his chakra into the paper.
Kakashi whistled when the effects showed on the paper, which cut itself into two pieces that slowly crumbled away.
"Interesting, it seems that you possess two elemental affinities, Wind being primary and Earth as secondary. Most Genin have only one affinity." He nodded in acknowledgement, making Naruto's mouth widen in a smile.
"Not to mention that strong Wind affinity is very rare. I think that in Konoha, only Asuma has it. And with Earth in combination... well, you have good affinities. You can counter four of the elements, leaving only Fire that can catch you off guard." Kakashi eye-smiled at him.
Naruto only scratched his head in embarrassment. He wasn't used to compliments.
Looking at the sky, Kakashi nodded to himself.
"Well, we should slowly head back. Our mission is still active until Tazuna finishes the bridge."
Naruto looked around and glanced at Kakashi.
"You know what sensei? Go ahead without me. I'll be right behind you, I just want to try something."
Kakashi only raised his eyebrow and walked away, leaving Naruto alone.
'Okay... I'm quite rested so I can create enough clones to train, while we help Tazuna-san. I now know the tree climbing but if I recall, there was that Leaf training back at the Academy that I never tried.' He thought and formed a seal.
After the burst of smoke cleared, in front of him stood a hundred of his clones.
'Well, I don't feel that tired... good.' He turned to his clones.
"So listen guys, we all want to get stronger so we'll start with chakra control. I want... you ten to perfect the tree climbing and the rest of you will do the Leaf exercise. You all know what to do, take a leaf, put it on your forehead and try to hold it there using only chakra. Release yourselves always after an hour in a pack of ten, okay?" He stated and waited for the clones to nod enthusiastically.
Feeling satisfied, Naruto turned away and hurried back.
In the trees Kakashi widened his eyes and almost wanted to laugh.
'So that's what he meant! Brilliant! I never thought he'd even realized the true use of clones... and with his huge chakra reserves, this training is an excellent choice for him... seems like he was right about surprising Sasuke. Heh.'
For the next few days, Naruto concentrated on trying to get used to the first level of gravity seals, so when they returned to Konoha he'd be able to raise them to the second level. He talked very little with his teammates, but they didn't even notice, as Sakura was still fussing at Sasuke, unsuccessfully trying to get his attention, and Sasuke was trying to ignore everyone, spending his time thinking about what happened in the battle on the bridge.
As soon as they returned to Tazuna's house after the fight, Kakashi told them that Naruto had had his first kill when Haku allowed him to kill her.
At first, when he thought that Naruto was able to beat Haku and then kill her, his anger was slowly bubbling but after Kakashi lied a little, trying to make things easier for Naruto, and said that Haku had wanted to die, Sasuke soon forgot about it.
Instead, he focused on trying to get better at activating and deactivating his newly acquired Sharingan. Even though he was arrogant and egoistical, he was still clever enough to realize that Haku had beaten him... and that rubbed the young Uchiha the wrong way.
So his mood worsened and he ignored everyone besides Kakashi.
Thanks to that, not him, nor even Sakura noticed that Naruto started to behave differently. He wasn't so loud anymore, and he didn't have any stupid jokes at hand, and he hadn't even tried to get Sakura's attention.
That was another thing.
Ever since Kyuubi got rid of the seals, allowing Naruto to use his full brain capacity and actually be smart for the first time in his life, the blond was slowly realizing that what has been one-sided crush for so long was now disappearing at a fast rate, allowing him to see the girl in the real light probably for the first time in his life.
He interpreted the discovery in a way that made him see that what he felt most likely wasn't love in a true sense. It was only because he was so desperately trying to get everyone's attention that he always trailed behind Sakura, asking her on dates and being around here in general. She was so loud and brash every time she rejected Naruto that many people noticed it and that was a little bit similar to what Naruto wanted. She was something of a life vest. Something that would help him in times when he felt like drowning in the stares, glares and curses of the villagers, when the life seemed too dark and gloomy, something he could use in order to breathe again, to feel like living in a world where somebody noticed him.
But now, he knew better. He knew that the best way to catch attention was to get strong, reliable and responsible. And that was precisely what he was going to do. Though it's understandable that those fake feelings he held towards Sakura all those years had managed to plant themselves deep into his personality and it would take some time before he would truly know where the girl stood in his life.
So he immersed himself in training and by the end of the week, the training with his clones had paid off and he was able to handle his chakra much better. He could now hold the leaf on his forehead for almost half an hour. The side effect of his better control was the fact that the amount of chakra it used to cost him to create a hundred clones now allowed him to create almost twice as many, greatly expanding his training possibilities.
Two days before they had planned to return to Konoha, Naruto noted that he was able to move under the first level of gravity seals just as he could without them before, so he decided to raise the level on them.
'So, just do a ram hand seal. Okay, here we go- uff.' His eyes widened as he felt his legs shaking from the pressure on them. It was difficult to even jump a little, so without having any other option, he stayed in the forest for an hour, trying to get used to the pressure so that he could at least walk normally.
Just as he was about to walk back to Tazuna's house, Kakashi emerged from behind a tree.
"I see that you raised the level on the Gravity seals and it took you only eight days. Very good, Naruto." He stated, giving the Genin a thumbs up.
"Ka-Kakashi-sensei! I hadn't sensed you... ahaha, yeah. I felt like I could go to the second level today but it's loads harder than the first one." Naruto replied, embarrassed.
'I think I need to praise him more often, it seems like the kid is absolutely not used to it... damn you Hokage-sama, and you told me that sensei's son was being taken care of...' Kakashi thought angrily and nodded.
"That's the point of it, each level is harder than the previous, and so it will gradually take you more and more time to get used to them. Just a small warning though. Every time, before you raise your level, release the seals and get used to the speed and strength you gain, otherwise, if you release them only after reaching the final level, you'll only be disoriented and won't be able to react properly. Try to release them and move around a bit." He instructed the blond, who immediately formed the ox seal.
"Gravity Seals: Release!" Naruto ushered and his mouth formed a perfect circle from surprise.
"Wow, I feel so much lighter!" He exclaimed and tried to sprint forward, reaching the tree in front of him in a matter of seconds, almost crashing into it.
With a wide grin he jumped at Kakashi, aiming a punch, which was stopped with a palm block.
"Ow!" Kakashi yelped, unprepared for the strike.
'I didn't think his arm strength would increase this much with only one level. That must mean that even before his punch must have packed some strength.' He thought in surprise.
"This is amazing... but also crazy. If this is what it's like after only one level, you must be crazy strong when you want to, Kakashi-sensei." Naruto looked at his teacher with respect.
Kakashi smiled behind his mask.
"It's good to know that even if you're getting stronger you're not also becoming self-centered." He stated, making Naruto grin at him.
"Not a chance, I'm not Sasuke."
Back at Konoha
'I can't believe they would name their bridge after Naruto.' Kakashi thought, his mouth still twitching in amusement as it had ever since their departure from Wave.
'I can't believe they wouldn't name their bridge after Sasuke-kun!' Sakura thought, still angry about the whole thing.
'I can't believe they would name their bridge after me.' Naruto thought, flabbergasted.
'Hmph.' Was all that Sasuke thought on the matter as the four of them stood in front of the Hokage after reporting the details of the mission.
Even though Naruto was still surprised that the villagers had named their bridge "The Great Naruto Bridge", he couldn't have protested.
Days before their departure, when Naruto was just walking around aimlessly, he'd accidentally wandered across Gato's past hideout, where he found a noteworthy amount of money, quickly alerting Tazuna and the villagers.
He refused when they tried to give him some of it and instead, he let them have all of it, saying
"Your country needs it more than I do.", which of course earned him cries of gratitude and eventually the name of the bridge.
In the Hokage tower, Konoha's leader pinched the bridge of his nose.
"I see, so Gato was behind the whole thing. It was dangerous for you to continue with the mission anyway, Kakashi, but nevertheless, I'm pleased that you did. All of you will of course receive the proper payment for an A-rank mission as I can easily say that that mission was indeed an A-rank. Dismissed. Kakashi, stay behind, please." Sarutobi Hiruzen ordered and watched as the trio of Genin slowly left.
"So, I believe there is something you wanted to tell me, besides the official report, Kakashi." He said and leaned forward in his chair.
"Yes. During the battle on the bridge, Naruto managed to tap into Kyuubi's power." Kakashi replied, earning wide eyes from the Hokage.
"How? Did he break Minato's seal?" He asked, a bit pale.
"No, the seal is fine. His anger and grief at the potential loss of a teammate probably triggered something in the seal, allowing him to tap into the Kyuubi's chakra. I am inclined to say that it was probably sensei's plan. I don't think he would place Kyuubi into his son without giving him a chance to use its power sometime." Kakashi explained.
The Hokage nodded and sighed in relief.
"That's good, but I also noticed that something is different about Naruto... do you really think that his first kill would change him so drastically?" He wondered and when Kakashi looked away, gulped with a guilty expression.
"I'm not sure, Hokage-sama, but whatever happened, it did him only good. He seems to think more clearly, more maturely, and, most of all, he's determined to be the best shinobi in Konoha and frankly, I'm giving him a few years and he'll do it." Kakashi said seriously, earning a curious glance from the Hokage.
"And what makes you say that? I know that he has it in his genes, but he still needs to train very hard. He seems to be a little behind the rest of the Genin."
Kakashi shook his head sadly.
"That's only because he never had anyone who would train him." Seeing the doubtful expression on the Hokage's face, he continued.
"I suspect that the instructors in the Academy ignored him and never taught him anything, which is the second thing I want to talk about... but later. So, as I said, he was probably ignored and nobody explained to him how things work. Yet despite that, and despite his huge chakra reserves, which made his chakra control go haywire, he managed to succeed at tree-climbing in the same amount of time Sasuke did... and don't forget, Sasuke already had better chakra control, smaller reserves, and is considered to be a prodigy."
The Hokage only smiled and lit up his pipe.
"That's good to hear, but he still has a long way to go."
Kakashi grinned at him suddenly, making the Hokage wary.
"I bet you that he'll be able to win in the next Chunin exams, if they'll really be postponed three months."
With wide eyes, the Hokage almost dropped his pipe.
"He's realized the potential of his shadow clones."
"Aaaah!" The Hokage yelled and jumped up, pointing his finger at Kakashi.
"That's how I can get rid of this damn paperwork!" He announced, making Kakashi sweatdrop.
"Uhm... not to be rude, but I thought you'd think of that sooner, sir."
Hokage scratched his chin and grimaced.
"Ah well, but I can't use it lightly with my old age... so Naruto will train using Shadow clones, eh? I see... considering his large chakra reserves... yes, I agree... by the time the Chunin exams come, he'll be a lot stronger. But don't you think you should have told him about the mental stress of overusing them?" He asked worriedly.
Kakashi only waved his hand.
"Naah, he'll be good. The kid's sturdy as hell, he'll be okay. Besides, I showed him what he should concentrate on... by the way, he has two elemental affinities."
That got the Hokage's attention and he put his hat down, scratching his head.
"Really? Two? Surprising for a Genin."
"Indeed. His primary affinity is Wind with secondary Earth." Kakashi said and looked at the Hokage knowingly.
"Wind? Asuma will be pleased to know that there is someone else besides him with that." The Hokage smiled sadly.
It had been a long time since his son had come to visit him as a member of a family and not as a shinobi.
"Now that that is out of the table, Hokage-sama, I'd like to talk about Naruto's childhood. Why would the instructors in the Academy try to sabotage his education? Why does he sometimes seem like he has been through hell and why does he look like he's never been praised before?" Kakashi leaned forward, an evil chakra forming around him.
'Oh boy.' The Hokage gulped and with a small movement of his hand, he called off his ANBU guard.
He didn't want them to see the humiliation he would get... the likes of which he probably deserved.
Falling on his bed and listing everything that he planned to learn in the next few months, for the first time in the past few years, Naruto truly smiled.
He was going to get stronger.
He was going to show everyone just who Naruto Uzumaki was.
He was going to kick Sasuke's ass...
... and he was going to keep his promise to Haku.
End of chapter 1.