Naruto: Sekai ni Hi o Tsuketa
Disclaimer:
I do not own Naruto.

A/N: Okay. Chapter two. I've been busy lately with my sister's baby shower and art projects and tests on subjects I don't quite understand… In any case, this last week has NOT been fun. My other sister – who helped co-create this – is in town though, so my inspiration is fuming again! Hopefully this will get done sooner or later.

In any case, enough about me. Let's get onto the story! I don't know where I'm going to go with this chapter, but I assume I'll get… somewhere? Yep. Sounds good. *laughs* But seriously, let's get started.

OoOoOoOoO

Chapter Two
"One Day More"

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
UCHIHA HOUSEHOLD

Juugo was tending to the garden as he usually did. After the Fourth Shinobi War, he stayed faithful to Sasuke and became a member of the Konohagakure. He didn't enlist as a shinobi, rather, as a citizen, and became the gardener of the Uchiha household. He usually did the chores, the outside work, and ran errands for the Uchiha family.

Most of the time, however, Juugo was there to entertain the kids.

"Juuuuugo-saaaaan," eight-year old Akira whined, kicking her legs in the koi pond. "I'm bored. When is nii-san getting home?"

"He is very busy, Akira-hime. He is preparing for the Chuunin Exams." Juugo merely stated, letting his fingers run over one of the Azalea flowers. This one was drooping, but he wasn't sure why. Maybe it wasn't feeling well? He hoped that the caterpillars wouldn't come back. The nearly killed all of his Hydrangeas last month.

"But he's my brother, he should love me more than school." She made a pout, grumbling about some evil injustice. She had long hair, pink like her mother's, but unlike both of her parents, it curled around her figure. Being an Uchiha, she had black eyes, her Sharingan not yet awakened. She wore a white sundress, the midsection and hem lined with lace. She was a beautiful child, truly a gem.

Juugo stepped away from the Azaleas, his pumpkin orange eyes laying on Akira. He glared at her feet in the water, and she sighed, pulling them out. "Stingy," she muttered. Juugo seethed at her.

...He wasn't a kid person. But still, Sasuke asked him to watch on them when he wasn't around, so he had no choice but to put up with the little she-demon.

He sighed and turned away, his cloak flying behind him. "Are you hungry?" He wondered. ANYTHING to keep the girl's mouth occupied.

"No," she grumbled, sensing his reasoning. But then suddenly, her black eyes sparkled, and she jumped up. "Jin! Jin, Jin's home! Jin!" She jumped up and scrambled, running to go hug a man who entered the premises. He was twenty years old, his hair a bright green color. His eyes were a captivating, shimmering blue. He had been Sasuke's student for about nine years now. Both Uchiha children knew him growing up, and adored him.

He smiled brightly as she tackled his leg. He laughed, "It's nice to see you, Akira. Hello, Juugo-san."

Juugo gave a nod of the head, and asked, "You're here to see Sasuke-sama?"

Jin raised an eyebrow, "Well, actually, I came to see you, Juugo. But if you don't want me here..." He started turning away.

"No!" Akira cried, clutching to him for dear life. Jin laughed and ruffled her hair.

"Relax, kid, I'm not going anywhere." He heaved her up and into his chest, and she slid his arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. He smiled at Juugo, "Is sensei here? Or is he at the office?" Sasuke worked very often, long, hard hours. Between raising kids, training students, working the Police Force, he had very little time to go anywhere else.

Juugo gestured to the outside of the house, "He's at his office. He had several meetings today."

"Oh. Okay. Can you pass on a message for me?"

"Sure. What is it?" He used to hate all three of Sasuke's students - Jin was too sour, Ume was too peppy, and Yoshi was all bark and no bite. But after Yoshi... passed... Jin became lighter. He could tolerate him now. He still had to hold himself back when Ume was around, but she was better. He hated to say it - well, actually, no he didn't - but Yoshi's death was the best thing that happened to them.

But he would never in a million years voice it aloud. Sasuke would murder him.

And he didn't even want to know what Jin would do to him.

"Just let him know I got back from my mission alright, and that I need to talk to him."

Juugo nodded, "Okay."

Jin started to set Akira down, but the little girl whined and kicked, "Noo! Jin, you can't leave! I'm so bored and nii-san isn't home!"

"Hn?" Jin hummed. "Where is Hikaru?"

"Training for some stupid exam!"

"...Exam?"

"The Chuunin Exams," Juugo offered, picking up a watering can.

Jin seemed a bit struck, like he hadn't expected it. Sasuke made the three of them wait two years to take it, so why did Hikaru only have to wait one? Plus, Hikaru was... well, he was so strong and able, but he was like a little brother to him. He didn't want Hikaru to go through that alone...

...Not that he would be alone, he had his team, but still.

Jin sighed. He had to ask Sasuke. He smiled at Akira, "How about you and I head over to your dad's work?"

Akira beamed, "Yeah! Let's go!"

"Mind if I steal her for a whi-"

Juugo cut Jin off. "No problem. Take her."

The two blinked as he headed to the backyard, not bothering to wave them off. Jin sighed, "Some people never change, I guess."

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
POLICE DEPARTMENT, CHIEF OFFICE

"...What in the world possessed you to break into a house and steal a woman's undergarments?" Sasuke was pinching the bridge of his nose, the boy in front of him smiling with pride. This boy was a regular in his office, and he pissed Sasuke off on a daily basis. Juvenile piece of...

Jiri shrugged, "Dunno. One second I was a good citizen, minding my own business, the next, the panties were just in my hands. I am very shocked at myself, honestly I am." He had this huge grin on his face, which told Sasuke otherwise. He just shook his head at the boy.

"Four times in two weeks I've had to deal with you, and I'm pretty sure I should have spoken with you more." Sasuke sighed, thinking it over for a moment. "Fine. I think I have a better punishment for you."

"Oh! You're going to send me to dinner with your wife?"

Sasuke's black eyes narrowed, but other than that, his expression didn't change from the norm... but that might have been scarier than if he showed his anger.

Jiri sank in his seat, "Fine, fine. What's my punishment this time, warden?"

"Community service."

"...That's it?"

"That's it."

Jiri snorted, "Fine by me! What do I have to do? Clean up a street, walk an old lady across a street? ...Is it street related?"

Sasuke snapped a folder shut, sitting back with a sigh. "No, I wouldn't let you out onto society without me watching. No, you'll be helping with this year's Chuunin Exams."

Jiri blinked his yellow eyes. "Why THAT? I took that test four times, and failed all four times. What in the heck makes you think I could help with it?"

"I didn't say you would be conducting the exams - everyone would pass because you're too lenient. I would just like a little more security on the Second Exam." After what happened in his Chuunin Exam, he was worried someone might infiltrate the village and do to Hikaru what was done to him. He didn't want to help his son in the exams, but if a psychopath like Orochimaru was there...

And maybe Jiri was a complete delinquent, but at least he was strong. The only reason he failed the earlier tests was because no one wanted HIM to be leading a do-or-die mission. Two years ago, he actually WON the final rounds, making it to the top, but he lost because he just relied on brute force. He didn't think at all.

Jiri sat back, combing his fingers back through his black hair. "Um, okay. Whatever you say, warden. Can I go home now?"

Sasuke closed his eyes, standing up, "Do what you want."

Jiri jumped up, "Cool." He turned around, his hand reaching for the knob, but he stopped. He spun back to Sasuke, "Uh, you're not going to call my mom, are you?"

Sasuke waved him off, as if to say, No. Get out.

Jiri nodded, and stepped out the door. The second he left, however, Jin stepped in, Akira in his arms.

"Dad! Dad, Jin's home!" Akira wrestled out of Jin's arms and ran to Sasuke, who smiled and let the girl jump into his lap. He looked up at Jin.

"How was your mission?"

Jin nodded, "It was good. No one died, although we had a close call."

"The weather?"

"Fair. I saw the infamous Jiri Kotarou leave, what did he do this time?"

Akira had a small blush on her cheeks at the mention of the boy's name - but neither one of the two seemed to notice. Sasuke sighed, "Nothing new."

"Breaking and entering?"

"What else?"

Jin laughed - you could practically feel the venom in his voice. His sensei was so tired of that kid.

Akira tugged at Sasuke's sleeve, catching his attention, "Can I go say hi to Matsuda-san?" Matsuda was Sasuke's secretary. He gave candy to any kid who came within ten feet of his desk. Sasuke nodded and let her down, and she scampered off, in a huge hurry.

Sasuke gestured to the chair in front of him, "Did you want to talk?"

"Yeah, I was wondering... Why did you let Hikaru sign up for the Chuunin Exams?"

"So you've heard already? No, I did not let him. Actually, I had no part in it. I told him specifically to wait, but he never listens to me." Sasuke sat back down in his chair, shaking his head. He muttered something but Jin didn't catch it.

Jin stared in a pretense of disbelief, "Stubborn? Your child? No, I don't believe it, Sasuke-sensei."

Sasuke glared at him in a sickening silence. Somehow this man had absolutely mastered the "I will kill you if you push me too hard" look BEFORE he had kids. He turned away, "In any case, the reason he didn't tell me is because he knew I'd refuse."

"But why would you refuse?"

Sasuke sighed, standing up. He seemed hesitant to talk, finding a feigned interest in his bookcase. He closed his eyes, mulling it over. He turned back to Jin, "I told him when he entered the Academy that I would tell him about the Clan when he became a Chuunin."

Jin gaped, "You still haven't told him?!"

"What am I supposed to tell him? That I left the village, nearly killed my best friend and tried to destroy the village he loves more than anything? He'd..." Sasuke stopped himself.

Suddenly the green-haired Jounin understood. Hikaru loved Sasuke more than anything, and if he found out what his dad had done, he might grow to despise him.

Sasuke's student offered his sensei a smile, "It's okay, Sensei. I'm sure Hikaru won't take it that way. After all, the entire time he's been alive all you've done is take care of this village. He sees you as a hero, you know that."

Sasuke didn't look at Jin, his eyes staring out the window. It was times like these Jin couldn't read the man at all. His face was stone, emotionless and vague. It took years for Jin to even read the normal Sasuke, but when he became quiet and steady like this, it was impossible. Maybe Naruto could read him like this, but no one else.

"It's not easy as that, Jin. Thank you for stopping by, but you should get some rest." He moved to his desk and sat, taking a couple of files and placing them in front of him, not waiting for an answer from Jin. Jin stared at him, knowing the conversation was over, but still wanting to pester him on. He exhaled deeply and stood, rounding around the chair and heading to the door. Before he could leave, however, Sasuke called out to him.

"Don't forget to take Akira home."

"I won't. It was nice to see you, Sensei."

Sasuke tore his obsidian eyes from his work, offered a nod of the head. "You too."

The door clicked shut behind Jin, but he stopped short at Matsuda's desk. Matsuda was a skinny, trembling man, who got out of sorts the moment someone raised his voice at him. Once, Sasuke became angry with him, giving him a heart attack and he fainted. He was fair, with trimmed black hair and black eyes.

"Matsuda-san?"

Matsuda jumped up, "Uh-uh, yes! Yes? Oh, Jin. Hello, how may I help you?"

Jin glanced around, "Where's Akira?"

Matsuda was shaking, "Oh, she asked for two pieces of chocolate and then ran off. T-That way." He pointed down the hall, and Jin groaned. That girl was always about. He began down the hall.

"Thanks, Matsuda-san." He didn't wait for a reply and sped down the halls, as busy officers walked about, some sitting at desks, some suiting up, and some dragging in the problem-people. Jin wished Akira wouldn't wander these halls by herself - there were so many dangerous people here and he didn't want her to get hurt. For two reasons - one, she was like a little sister to him; and two, Sasuke would murder him.

Brutally.

He shuddered at the thought of the ONE time someone tried to hurt Hikaru.

"Akira!" He called, getting a tad worried. "Akira, where are you?" His eyes scanned the crowd, and he saw a man at a desk point outside while he was on the phone. Jin mouthed a "thanks" and headed out, the autumn breeze cooling his skin.

He checked around, then stopped thankfully as his eyes rested on the young girl in the sundress. A vein popped in his forehead, though, when he saw that smitten look in her eyes, her arms folded behind her back. Standing coolly in front of her was Jiri, who had a chocolate candy wrapper in his hand. Jin glared and shook his head - why. Did. She. Like. Bad. Boys? She was way too young for him!

"Akira!" He called, and the two turned their heads. "Come on! It's time to go!" Akira seemed dismayed, but in Jiri's eyes he could see he didn't care one way or the other. Akira sighed and waved at Jiri, skipping back over to Jin. Jin rested a hand on her back, sending a dirty look to Jiri. Jiri shrugged and stalked off.

Jin rolled his eyes, but the second they began to walk off, he realized he hadn't even asked his sensei what he had wanted to in the first place.

Damn.

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
KIRIGAKURE EMBASSY

"This village is so beautiful!" Kiri cried, sliding the window wide open. She smiled back at the three behind her, "Hey, we should go check out the village and see the monument!"

Aoi was sitting on one of the beds he claimed his, polishing one of the Fang blades he kept in his possession. Jinta was leaning against the far wall, seeming to be in his own mind. The two turned to look up at her sudden exclamation. Aoi's soft eyes nodded, "Whenever you want, Kiri-sama."

Jinta raised an eyebrow at Aoi, but shrugged. "Yeah, okay."

Kiri pouted at the two. They were so weird around each other. She jumped off of the seat by the window, smiling and folding her arms behind her back. "Well, do you guys want to go now? We could go see the infamous Ichiraku Ramen that everyone always talks about, or we could go... uh, I dunno. I guess seeing the Hokage Monument is the biggest thing we have to go see up close!"

Aoi nodded, pulling himself and sheathing his blades over his shoulder. He gave her a little nod. Jinta pushed himself up off the wall, and said smoothly, "Eh. I'd rather go see the graveyard. I heard it's pretty there."

Kiri blinked, "The... graveyard...? You came to a new village and you want to see a graveyard?"

A scoff came from behind her, "Just to expect from a bloody Rebel." She turned and glared at Aoi, who had his eyes averted and his face was sour. Jinta only crossed his arms.

"Take it any way you want. I just wanted to respect the Hokages who died. The Second Hokage was pretty cool."

Aoi shot his eyes up, "Oh, the one who brings dead back to life and is cold hearted? That one is your favorite?" Jinta scowled and started forward, but Kiri got in between the two older boys. They both stopped and looked down at her.

She gave them a weak smile, "Hey, come on. That stuff doesn't matter anymore. We're friends again, right? ...Please don't fight, you two..."

Aoi obediently turned away, "Yes, Kiri-sama."

Jinta smiled at Kiri, "Sorry. I just haven't got much sleep lately, with the trip and all. Why don't you two go out and see the village, and I'll sleep for a couple of hours? I think I'll get back to my normal self then."

The red-headed girl pouted, "...Okay, Jin-tan..." She smiled. "Then we'll have to go see the village with you later, then. Right?"

Jinta nodded, ruffling her hair, "Right. Well, I think I'll hit the hay then."

Aoi glared. He didn't want to leave Jinta here by himself. Who knew what the Rebels had planned for Konoha, an ally of the Union? All of the sudden he had a feeling in the pit of his stomach. Leaving Jinta here could cause trouble. But if he spoke anything on the matter, Kiri would become angry with him.

Kiri took Aoi's arm, "Well, where do you want to go?"

"Wherever you want." He started, but the second she glared he decided to say, "Um, well, we could eat at that ramen place, if you wanted."

Kiri blinked, surprised he actually picked something. Sure, he added the "if you wanted" there, but who was she to change Aoi? Aoi was always so selfless, and that was a good thing.

"Okay!" She cheered.

Aoi smiled sincerely.

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
CITY STREETS

Where was it?

Takeshi raced through the streets, his icy eyes surveying anything they could find. Ladies shrieked as he shoved past them, husbands or boyfriends shouting after him, but they died off when they realized Takehsi was in a hurry. He was dressed in his citizen clothes, although he was wearing his hitai-ate over his arm, and had his kunai pouch on his waistband. Today he was supposed to take it easy, to rest, but he couldn't.

Something wasn't right.

He had been sleeping at home, for the first time in a month. He always fell asleep after training hours, always at the base of the old oak tree. Kiba-sensei he trained too hard, but he knew it wasn't enough from the people who were coming to the village for the exams. In any case, he didn't want to take this day off, but he knew that if he worked himself too hard, then he wouldn't have energy for the exam.

But while he was at rest, something hit him. He didn't know exactly what it was, but it was a different, scary sensation. It chilled him to the bone, and it wasn't far off. What was it, though? He had to find it and stop it, he felt it would destroy everything. But he didn't know why or what. It was just... just a feeling.

Takeshi ducked as two men carried a mirror, sliding under its surface and immediately jumping back up. The two men fumbled and nearly dropped it, staring at Takeshi dumbly. He continued on, glancing around. Ugh, where was that stupid-

He felt himself slam into something - someone, actually - and he fell over it, the two rolling on the ground. He cried out, seething, but stopped.

The feeling was gone.

Takeshi got up, wondering where it could have gone. He glanced around, but realized he ran into something. He blinked, looking down, his eyes resting on a small boy.

He had silky black hair, that fell to his collarbone in the front, but didn't cover his neck in the back. Despite looking so young, he was wearing a hitai-ate over his forehead, worn so that it fell over his left eye. His one visible eye was a bright, yellow color, contrasting to his pale skin. He was layered in clothes - three shirts, a jacket, and a scarf - and he wore dark-colored pants, and a pair of blue ninja shoes. According to his headband, he was from Kusagakure, the Village Hidden in the Grass.

Takeshi blinked, "Oops." He stood up, holding his hand out. "Sorry, kid."

The kid shook, but nodded and took his hand. "N-no, it's my fault real-really." He was heaved up by Takeshi, but took one look at his piercings and shied back. "Er, sorry. I'm sorry."

"You're fine. Anyway, I've got to get going..." Takeshi glanced around, trying to figure where the hell that feeling had come from. It was still there, he knew it, but for some reason now it was weaker.

The kid gapsed and grabbed Takeshi's wrist, "Ah! Wait! Can you help me?"

He stopped, looking at how small this kid was. How could someone like him be a shinobi? He was so scrawny, so weak. He was probably here for the Chuunin Exams, and Takeshi felt bad for him. This guy was sure to be one of the first picked out.

The feeling was getting weaker. He had to find it before it died out completely. But instead he sighed, "Yeah, okay, what?" His voice was irritable.

"I don't know where my embassy is..." His voice trailed off, and he gestured to his headband. "Please, I don't know-"

"Yeah, yeah, I get it," Takeshi seethed, the feeling now gone completely. Damn! He shouted in his head. I got up for freaking nothing.

Takeshi grabbed the boy's wrist and started leading him east, where most of the embassy's were located. He figured they were all grouped in one place, but the only one he had actually visited was the Kumogakure Embassy, where Naruto had taken him to meet Killer Bee. It was some time back, but he still remembered where it was.

The boy struggled behind him but still attempted to make conversation with him. "U-uh, thank y-you. What's your name?"

Takeshi didn't look at him, "I don't give out my name to strangers." The boy whimpered and looked away, mumbling an apology. Takeshi rolled his eyes, glaring back at him. "What I mean is that you don't ask for people's names if you haven't given yours first."

It seemed to hit the boy, and he nodded, suddenly looking as if he gained confidence. "So-sorry! My name is Yasuo, I'm from the Kusagakure."

Takeshi nodded, "Nabari Takeshi. I'm from here."

"O-Oh. Well, thank you, Nabari Takeshi."

"Whatever."

They kept on forward, Takeshi still at a strong pace. Yasuo panted heavily as he tried to keep up, watching Takeshi's back. This boy looks so strange, Yasuo thought, compared to the rest of the Konoha people. He's... He couldn't think of the words. Everyone in Konoha seemed so peaceful, but he was so tense, as if something would jump out at him. He kind of reminds me of myself...

Something moved next to Takeshi, a human-like figure, but when Yasuo blinked and gasped, it disappeared. Takeshi glared back, "What?"

Yasuo blinked - did he just see an apparition? Or was it his imagination? He shook his head, "I-It's nothing. I just... thought I saw something. Um, I think I can find my way from here..."

He tried to pull out of Takeshi's grip, but he wouldn't let go. His strong, azure eyes wouldn't move from Yasuo. He seemed suspicious. "Saw something? Saw what?"

"U-Uh, I don't - I don't know. Please, please let me go." He hated being held onto. Hated it so much.

Takeshi opened his mouth to say something, but decided better of it and let him go. "Sorry," he apologized shortly, turning away. "In any case, I think if you walk two more blocks you'll get there. I'll see you in the Exams?"

Yasuo blinked, then a look of fear crossed his face, "Wait, what? You'll be in the Chuunin Exams too?"

Takeshi nodded, still backing up, "Yeah. And I'm going to win. Look out." He turned then dashed off. He felt it again, the feeling had returned, but he wasn't sure from where. He had to find it before something bad happened.

Yasuo was left, his face stricken. It had just hit him that nice people would be in the Exams too. So many good people... A feeling wrenched in his gut, and the feeling washed over him again. He felt chained back, his own self gone. No, it was happening again...

He bit his lip.

No. Not yet. I can hold it. But for only one day more...

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
UCHIHA HOUSEHOLD

Hikaru returned home nearly nine hours after he had left, the sun just beginning to go down. He told his family he was going to be training today, but he actually just went to the training grounds and slept. Part of him was hoping Takeshi would show up, so he could remind him about the whole, "I'm not going to be your shadow anymore" thing, but then he realized it would be rather pointless. There was no reason to tell the boy again, because Takeshi was the type of person who didn't forget about anything.

But in any case, he actually went to the training grounds today to get some quiet time. He needed rest and a clear place to think, away from home. He loved Akira more than anything - she was his little sister, of course - but he couldn't play today. She would most like pester him until he did decide to spend time with her, which wouldn't take long because he gave into her so often.

Plus, his mother was a wreck. She had been stomping around the house for weeks, shouting about how the exams were dangerous and that he wasn't ready. She was afraid for him, it seemed, and he understood her fear, but he was going anyway. He was stubborn like that.

As for his father, he seemed moody and cast off. Well, he was usually like that, but more so lately than the norm. He seemed to be anxious about something - and Hikaru knew why. He heard something terrible happened to him in these exams - a man named Orochimaru had come after him and hurt him. He wasn't sure how, but apparently it was bad enough to make him worry so much, especially since that Sannin was dead.

The Uchiha sighed, sliding the rice-paper doors open. He braced himself for impact, because every time he walked through these doors he was trampled by someone. It was either Akira or his mother, one time Juugo (but only because Juugo thought he was an intruder...), Ume, and when he was little, his dad and Yoshi.

The name went bitter in his mouth. Yoshi. He missed Yoshi, missed the loud-mouth raven-haired boy that used to make him laugh and tell him funny stories about him and his sister. He was young when he died, but he still knew the boy's face, still knew his laugh. He didn't understand what had happened to him until later on, his childhood innocence making him blissfully unaware. But then he noticed that Yoshi wasn't coming around as often, and that Ume and Jin cried all of the time...

Hikaru shook away those thoughts as he kicked off his shoes. He had no time to think about that. He still had to prepare himself for tomorrow, and if he became stressed with those thoughts he wouldn't be on his A-game.

"I'm home," he called out, realizing no one had come to greet him. That was odd. Usually he had a barrage of people at the doorstep before he even got inside the house.

Usually by the time he called through the house, someone would come, but the house was empty. He felt a shred of fear, knowing that people had come to kill his clan before, that people had come to kill himself and his dad and his little sister. He hesitantly reached back for his kunai, but didn't pull it out in case it was just him being paranoid.

He surveyed the hall, his finger sliding against the handle of the kunai. The house was dark, the very end of the twilight peeking through the windows. He stopped short by the kitchen, seeing a shadow pass through the light of the entryway. His Sharingan activated, and he called faintly, "Hello? I'm home."

The shadow stopped, and began to grow as the figure came closer to the door. He slid the kunai softly through his pouch, and just as a hand grabbed the door frame, Hikaru jumped out with a battle cry.

"Hyaaaaa- AH!" His wrist was grabbed and when he tried to punch the intruder his other wrist was grabbed. Hikaru struggled in the dark, trying to kick forward, but then the attacker let him go, keeping him at a distance.

"Whoa, whoa! Hikaru, calm down it's me, dattebayo!"

Hikaru blinked at the sound of the voice; the figure moved and switched on the light, revealing bright blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. Hikaru sighed in relief, "It's just you, uncle Naruto..." He stopped. "Um, uncle Naruto, what were you doing in the dark?"

Naruto blinked, "Huh? Oh, I just walked in since the door was unlocked. I couldn't find Sasuke-teme or anyone else, though. Where are they?" He was wearing casual clothes, a strange thing for Hikaru to witness. Naruto was almost always in his Hokage robes, but now he wore a bright yellow jacket over a black t-shirt, with baggy pants that matched his jacket. His black hitai-ate was threaded over his brow, just as the norm.

Hikaru de-activated his Sharingan, striding past Naruto. "They probably went out to eat without me since I was late."

"Ah," Naruto breathed, following him. "Well! You want to go get some ramen with me, dattebayo? I asked Hinata but she was busy with work tonight, and Ichiraku Ramen just isn't the same without company, you know? And I was GOING to ask Sasuke and Sakura-chan, but apparently she and Teme are out. And then I asked Shikamaru but he was so preoccupied with something else..."

Hikaru rolled his eyes as he searched through the fridge - tonight was his sensei's last night to be with Temari before the exams; and he said it himself, he wanted to be alone with her. He pulled back from the fridge when he realized his mom hadn't been shopping in a couple of days. He straightened, shutting the fridge. "Sure," he agreed. He hadn't been out with his uncle for a while, and ramen sounded okay. It was better than nothing.

Naruto grinned that grin of his, his teeth sparkling. "Cool, dattebayo! Let's go!"

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
ICHIRAKU RAMEN

A hotspot of Konoha, Ichiraku Ramen, was always bustling with business. What had been a single bar had transformed into a small little restaurant, all tables full and the scent of miso in the air. Hikaru breathed it in, smiling at the scent. He came here often, mostly with Naruto, and in his entire life nothing about this place had changed. The staff was consistent, as the pay was good, and the owner was a kind old man who ran this place with a compassion.

Naruto waved, "Hey, old man! Got room for two more!"

Teuchi, a large man and owner of the Ramen shop, waved Naruto in. "There's always room at the counter for my best customer! Come on in!"

Naruto smiled, and people waved at him. He pat a couple guys on the back, saying hello to them, knowing them by name. It was crazy to think Naruto knew just about everyone in the village, citizen and shinobi alike.

Hikaru hopped up on a seat on the bar, Naruto taking a set next to him. "The regular, dattebayo," Naruto told him, and he nodded, turning to Hikaru.

"I'll just have some miso ramen with shrimp and menma."

"Menma? Ew, gross," Naruto seethed, shaking his head. Hikaru rolled his eyes and Teuchi turned away, beginning their order. Naruto grinned at Hikaru, "So, how's life?"

Hikaru shrugged, snapping his chopsticks apart. "It's been alright. I've been training constantly for tomorrow."

"Yeah, Makko's been all busy. He's been helping with setting the whole thing up, 'tebayo." He smiled, sensing Hikaru's uneasiness. "So are you going to win?"

"Of course."

Naruto snorted. He sounds just as stubborn as Sasuke. "Then I guess I should just call it off?"

Hikaru shook his head, "No. Because I still want to participate. Are there strong Genin this year?"

The Rokudaime Hokage thought about it for a moment. He seemed hesitant to answer, but then said, "...Mm, yeah. I don't know some of them, but the ones I do know about are pretty hardcore. So, yeah, it'll be tough." He sent him a small, encouraging smile. "But I'm sure if you just keep your Will you'll get there."

Hikaru's eyebrows knitted down together, "And what if I don't?"

Naruto pouted, groaning, "Ugh. You overthink things. Just shut up, don't give up and you'll do it!" He snapped his chopsticks apart, setting them down and ruffling Hikaru's hair. Said Uchiha nearly groaned - that was Naruto's answer for most of his problems, but some of his problems couldn't be solved with "Don't Give Up!" An example? His so-called "best friend".

But if he tried to argue with Naruto, he was bound to lose. So he started with, "So, how's Makko and Yagami?"

Makko and Yagami - Naruto's two students, basically his pride and joy. When he wasn't working, he was training them. He loved them so much. Makko was a boy with red hair and green eyes, and Yagami was a Hyuuga, with long brown hair and Byakugan eyes. She was Neji's daughter, Hikaru knew, who was an old friend of Naruto who died during the Fourth Shinobi War. Yagami was fourteen, Makko fifteen, and Naruto had hand-picked the two of them to be his students.

Naruto hummed, sounding annoyed, "Oh, Yagami-chan is into this guy, but he's not into her, and Makko's into her - you heard none of this from me, by the way - but she's not into him. And then this girl likes Makko, but he doesn't even know she exists because she's a Genin..." He sighed.

Poor Makko, Hikaru thought. He was close with the red-haired boy, but not so much to the Hyuuga, which was probably why he sympathized more with Makko. Curiously, he wondered, "Who's the girl? The one who likes Makko-sempai, I mean."

"Ehhhhh, she's an Inuzuka. She has a little blonde-haired dog, she's kinda mean..."

His head shot up, "W-Wait, you mean Hanako? Inuzuka Hanako, wears a bandanna hitai-ate, has no compassion for the human race - that Hanako?"

The Hokage thought about it for a moment. "Yeah, I think, 'tebayo. She wears a grey jacket with-"

"-with fur on the hood! Yes, that's my teammate!"

The Hokage's blue eyes stared at him for a moment, his blue eyes skeptical. "...What, do you like her? You seem pretty angry..."

Hikaru shook his head, "No, it's just that I didn't think she-" He didn't know how to finish the sentence. Hanako just didn't seem to be the romantic type. Oh, well, I guess you learn something new every- "Wait. Did you say Makko was going to be in the exams?"

"Well, he's going to be a Proctor, but he'll be there."

Hikaru stopped - Hanako wasn't avoiding the exams because she didn't think they were ready, she was avoiding Makko! That entire time she was making such a big deal, and it was over a boy. Yeah, "honest" his butt. Hanako was a hypocrite.

Realizing Naruto was still staring at him and waiting for some reply, Hikaru chuckled it off. "Sorry, uncle Naruto. It's just that-"

"Alright!" Hikaru jumped when Teuchi suddenly strode up, two steaming bowls in his hands. "One regular for the regular, and one miso ramen with shrimp and menma for the tike!"

"Thanks, old man, dattebayo!" Naruto cheered, his chopsticks at the ready. Hikaru gave a soft smile as a gesture of thanks (but was urked by the word "tike"), and dipped his chopsticks into the broth. Naruto slurped expertly, the ramen noodles seemingly endless. Hikaru shuddered at the way Naruto ate. The man was a bottomless pit.

"Sho wha er oo shaying?" Naruto mumbled through his noodles. Hikaru bit into his shrimp, swallowing before he realized what Naruto meant: "So what were you saying?"

Hikaru shrugged, "Nothing. I'm - I'm just not sure if someone I'm close with should be proctoring the exams, is all." There was truth to it. Hikaru knew Makko rather well, and the last thing he wanted Takeshi to think was that he was cheating again. Well, not again. He didn't cheat the first time. But whatever! He didn't want the juvenile boy to think it.

Naruto slurped again. "Nah, Makko isn't really "Proctoring" the test. It's more that he's... er... security. And you won't need help, anyway, dattebayo! So what's to worry?" He smirked, picking his bowl up and letting the broth slide into his mouth. Hikaru glanced at his bowl, a total of two shrimp, a couple noodles, and half a menma gone. He made a double take at Naruto's bowl, emptied, then shook his head, unsure why he was so surprised.

The word "security" caught his attention. "But why would you guys need security? Do you always do that?"

"Huh?" Naruto wondered, but shook it off. "Oh, yeah, we always do it. You know, in case someone sneaks in the village who shouldn't be in the village. It's happened, you know, once or twice. Maybe three times." Naruto waved at Teuchi, "Oi, oi, can I have seconds?"

"Sure!" Teuchi exclaimed, returning to the noodle pot.

Hikaru finished off the rest of the toppings, "Were those other times so bad that you had to get more security?"

"Aaaaahhhh, you're asking a lot of questions, dattebayo." Naruto moaned. "I just don't want the village to get pummeled into a crater again. The Pein Invasion only has to happen once for someone to get the bright idea of extra security."

"Right." What stupid questions. Hikaru should have known that. It just felt weird that his Hokage and his father were both alive when such a horrible thing happened. Come to think of it, Sasuke never spoke about it. He wondered if something bad happened to him, or if he was even in the village at the time. Maybe he had been on a mission?

Naruto offered him a smile, "But no need to worry about that. Just eat up, dinner's on me!"

"And not on your tab, Naruto-san." Teuchi murmured, setting a second serving in front of Naruto. "A bill of seven thousand yen only has to happen once for someone to get the bright idea to stop giving people free-bees." He grinned at Naruto and set off.

Naruto pouted, "Maaaaan. I didn't think that'd happen. Well, in any case, eat up for tomorrow. You'll need it."

Hikaru smiled gratefully, "Thank you, Hokage-sama."

Naruto ruffled his hair, "It's uncle Naruto to you, dattebayo!" His teeth shone, that sweet smile of his, the one that could make anyone's day that much better. Hikaru softly smiled, hoping to one day gain a smile like that. He wanted to make the world better, he wanted to follow in his Hokage's footsteps.

I'll do it. And I'll prove myself. Just one day more.

OoOoOoOoO

KONOHAGAKURE, FIRE COUNTRY
YAMANAKA BRANCH HOUSE

Koushiro heaved a huge sigh, lying back on his bed. He had just gotten off a nine-hour shift of work, hard work, but at least his paycheck was worth it. Now he had enough so that his sister could survive the next month on her own. The relief seemed to take weights off of his shoulders.

Still in his work clothes, Koushiro closed his eyes. His bed was so comfortable... and he was so, so tired. He let his breath out, sinking into his blankets. He turned on his side, the darkness closing around him. His muscles were sore and tight, but he loosened them as he rolled his shoulders. He just needed to rest...

The door creaked open, and the blonde sat up, alert. A little girl with blonde hair poked her head in, her blue eyes shimmering. She smiled, "Hi, nii-san. Can I come in?"

His eyes were burning from the lack of sleep, but he smiled, "S-Sure, Mikan-chan!" He patted the bed next to him. "How was school?"

She attended the Academy, just as he did, of course. She was a Yamanaka, like him. She jumped into his bed, and hugged him softly, her arms wrapping around him. She buried her face into his chest. "It was okay. But that girl Akira beat me again."

Koushiro's face was surprised, "Huh? What? Someone hurt you?"

Mikan giggled softly, "No, no, nii-san. I mean, she got a better test grade than me again."

A pang of hurt hit his chest, and he ran his fingers through his soft hair. He knew his sister was looking to be the best in her class, but still... "Oh, Mikan, don't worry about that sort of stuff. Just do the best you can, okay?"

Mikan looked up at him, indignant, "But I want to be the best!"

"But if you don't respect your classmates, then you won't really be the best, right? It's not fair to blame Akira, right? All she did was take the same test you did." As he spoke, something clicked in her eyes. She looked down, ashamed. Koushiro kissed her forehead, "Besides, you wouldn't want that to get in the middle of your friendship, right?"

His little sister thought about it for a second, then smiled. "You're right, nii-san. Thank you." She hugged him tightly, and him back to her. They held each other like that for a moment, then she pulled back. "How come you're always so smart?"

Koushiro smiled painfully, "I-I'm not that smart, Mikan-chan. I just learn from my experience, is all." He ruffled her bangs. He felt like collapsing, but she wasn't moving. She shuffled closer.

"So, today, my friend and I were on the playground, and when he sat on the swing, it just fell beneath him!" She laughed, as if recalling the incident. Koushiro smiled and chuckled, subconsciously lying back. She began to go on about what happened after he fell, but Koushiro was already closing his eyes. He had to sleep for the exam tomorrow. Takeshi would be angry if he wasn't ready for it...

Mikan giggled as she told her big brother all about how her friend tried to cheat today. But she stopped short when she heard a faint, steady breathing. She turned, setting her eyes on her brother, who was passed out. His expression was calm, his hair dangling over his forehead.

The little girl smiled, hopping off the bed. She grabbed his blanket and draped it over him, planting a kiss on his cheek. She whispered, "Goodnight, nii-san."

He smiled in his sleep, and mumbled, "-oodnigh..."

She giggled, loving that smile of his. It always made her feel better. Whenever something went wrong, he always stayed happy. She loved that about him the most. She slid back and headed out of the room, suddenly feeling lonely. For the next couple of weeks he wouldn't be here - and she would have to live with one of their relatives, Yamanaka Ino. Ino was nice, but she wasn't her big brother...

Mikan sighed. Oh, well. At least I have him for tonight. An idea hit her, and she smiled, running back to her brother's room. She jumped into his bed and climbed under his covers, already dressed for bed. She cuddled into him, and he subconsciously to her.

I love you, nii-san.

OoOoOoOoO

A/N: It's doooooooooooone. Chapter two! I guess not a lot happened as much as I wanted, but I got through what I wanted to get through. I introduced Yasuo (ten years old, by the way) and Akira and Mikan. Oh, and Jiri.

By the way, I apologize for all of the "J" names. Jiri, Jin, and Jinta. I guess that's a little confusing, but I suppose you'll just have to distinguish it. I didn't realize that until I read it over. Haha, I was about to name Koushiro's little sister Juri, but I CAUGHT IT. Booyahkasha.

ALSO! My Microsoft word is NOT working, so there may be grammatical errors in this one because I wrote it on FF. I am also sorry for that.

But next chapter, we will begin the Chuunin Exams. How far we'll get into it? Dunno. But it's going to start. :)

~FFoaP