"He, sorry brat, you fail." Were the words of the Chūnin instructor in charge of the exams. Although he didn't sound very sorry. "You know what that means, dontcha?" he grinned.

The twelve-year-old blond sighed, knowing full well what the man was talking about. This was the third time he had failed the Genin exam, and the government (meaning Civilian Council) felt that if one was to fail three times would mean that they had no talent for the ninja arts, and should reconsider future prospects. In theory. In practice, that really only applied to Naruto Uzumaki.

The miserable blond walked out of the Academy and sat on his favorite swing, looking sadly at the ground, ignoring the rounds of congratulations his former classmates were getting, and the cold stares directed at him.

"Hello, Naruto-kun." A voice called behind him not long after. He turned around, shooting a small half-assed smile at the boy behind him. He was a few inches taller than Naruto himself, with spiky black hair that fell down, curved at the ends, wide black eyes and big eyebrows, wearing a white martial arts gi.

"Hello Lee." Naruto said simply, noting that the boy didn't have a forehead protector. "Failed again?" He merely nodded and took the other swing.

"So did you." Naruto nodded. "What now?"

"I… don't know. I really don't know." Naruto sighed, standing up. "I have to go home and think. I'll see you later." Lee nodded his head and watched Naruto leave the field.

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"You ok kid?" An old man with long white hair, dressed in kabuki attire was waiting for Naruto in his apartment, sitting down at the boy's table with two cups of tea. Naruto gave the man a weak smile, taking a sip of the warm liquid.

"Not really. What are you doing here Jiraiya?"

"Came to congratulate you, and give you a little graduation present." The Sannin motioned to the thirty-inch wide box on the table.

"I can't accept that."

"Why not?" The old man raised an eyebrow.

"I didn't graduate."

"Honorable. I knew that. It's still yours, though." After a few moments Naruto nodded and opened the box. "What will you do now?"

"I have no idea." The box contained a black katana. "A sword?" Naruto muttered in wonder.

"A very special sword. It's called Muramasa. You have to be careful with it, though." Jiraiya stopped him before he could draw it. "It is said that it is a cursed blade. It demands blood once it's drawn." Naruto nodded and put the blade back inside the sheath.

"I think I've decided." The boy muttered to himself. "I won't be here in the future. In Konoha." He explained, noticing the confused look he got from the man. "If you want to find me. I'm leaving."

"Where will you go?"

"Well…"

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"Are you sure about this Naruto-kun?" Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Sandaime Hokage came to escort the blonde boy out of the village.

"Yeah. Sorry old man, but I have to go."

"But I could…"

"You could do nothing, and you know it." The Hokage sighed in defeat, before patting the smiling boy on the head.

"All right, you've made your point. Good luck my boy."

"Naruto-kun, wait!" Naruto turned to the village to see his only friend running after him, a pack strung on his shoulder.

"Lee…"

"You are not leaving without me, are you Naruto-kun?"

"I… No, I guess I'm not." He chuckled.

"Good luck, kid." Jiraiya said as he appeared next to the older man.

"Thanks. Good bye you two."

"Ah, Naruto-kun, where are we going?"

"Heh, you'll see."

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A tall figure lay in the shadows of a Japanese maple tree. It was male, dressed in a slightly open forest-green kimono showing a part of his chest with a fire-red haori over it with a kanji for 'bloodlust' on the back, wooden sandals and a conical hat over his head, with the kanji for 'fire' in the front. A black katana hung from his left hip, and from below the shadows made by the hat a few blond lock jutted out, along with a twig. If anyone was to stumble upon the figure, they might think he was in deep meditation, or contemplating the mysteries of nature…

"zzzZZZ-snrtkh-ppbhww-zz…"

Until, that is, they heard the snoring.

"Naruto-kun…" A voice sighed as its owner walked into the clearing. "Sleeping again. He snores like a log." The figure was also male, a little taller than the blond (if he were awake), and also dressed in a green kimono, although his was a color you would find in a spandex training suit. His haori was orange in color with the kanji for 'guts' on the back. On his feet he had the same wooden sandals as the downed blonde, but he was missing a hat. A standard katana with a green wrap on the grip was strung to his left hip, and he hefted a very large kanabō on his left shoulder. "Come on, Naruto-kun, wake up." He kicked the blonde's shin, but was ignored in favor of more sleep. "WAKE UP!" He yelled.

"Hm… Ah, Lee-kun, I didn't see you there." Naruto stood up, stretching his hands above his head and fixing his hat.

"You didn't see me because you were asleep."

"Ara… was I? Woops."

"How unyouthful." Lee sighed.

"Lee-kun, we talked about this."

"Sorry, a slip of the tongue."

"If you say so." Naruto picked up the twig he had dropped when Lee woke him up and put it between his teeth. "So, does he need something?"

"Yes he called the two of us. Come on, we are already late."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming. Yeesh." Naruto muttered, following his black-haired friend.

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A short walk through several beautiful gardens later the pair came upon a large styled palace, with a giant 'fire' kanji above the door guarded by a pair of samurai.

"Well, if it isn't the gay boys." The left samurai said, chuckling at them.

"I told you, we're not gay, we're brothers. Yeesh, talk about not listening." Naruto muttered, glaring half-heartedly at the one that spoke.

"So you say, but we've yet to see either one of you with a girlfriend since you've been here. Four years now without any-"

"Shame on you. Such unyouthful language." Lee accused the man, slightly louder than was necessary.

"Lee-kun…"

"Sorry Naruto-kun."

"Yeesh. Move aside, bozos, the boss's expecting us."

"That's Lord Nobunaga to you, fool." The other samurai spoke, glaring at the blond

"Maybe you'd like to explain to him why we're late, then?"

"Uh, no, that's not necessary. You two may proceed." The door-guards moved their spears, letting Naruto and Lee through.

"Those two always give us such problems. Yeesh."

"You say that too much Naruto-kun."

"I hardly think you have a right to admonish me about speaking habits, Lee-kun."

"Fine." The black-haired man shook his head with a chuckle. "As for the other two, they're just bored, standing in front of a door all day."

"It's their job. Maybe I should draw Muramasa a bit." At this Naruto's laidback grin turned wicked, and his blue eyes got a slightly red tint.

"Now, now, there's no need for that Naruto-kun."

"Aw, but just a little. It'll barely hurt 'em."

"No. Leave the sword in its sheath."

"Ara… you're no fun Lee-kun." Naruto pouted as his eyes returned to normal, making Lee give out a sigh of relief.

The pair walked into a large room with a raised platform at the back with two chairs, or thrones rather, one occupied by a man in a black kimono with his dark hair tied above his head, a beard and mustache on his face. A woman in a purple kimono with same-colored hair was on the other.

"Ah, Lee and Naruto. You're a few minutes late."

"Sorry boss. We got held up." Naruto shrugged.

"Ah, I apologize for my brother's choice in words, Nobunaga-sama." Lee bowed low to the man, who just chuckled and shook his head.

"Really you two, the same routine even after all these years." The woman sighed.

"Sorry Nōh-sama." Lee bowed apologetically while Naruto just shrugged again.

"It's what we do."

"Well, in any case, I have a mission for you two. I've just gotten word that a small man with a big ego in Nami named Gato has taken over things, and it's been going downhill ever since."

"How long ago was this?"

"A few months, year tops."

"And you only got word of this now?" Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Something stinks here boss."

"I know. That's why you two are going over there to deal with this menace."

"And in return?"

"Nami will become an allied country with a trade agreement."

"And you're satisfied with that boss?"

"For now." Nobunaga grinned. "But we'll see about that at a later time."

"Anything else?" Lee asked.

"Yes. A bridge builder has gone to Konoha and hired a team of ninja to guard him while he finishes the job. Konoha has sent two Genin teams, Team Seven and Team Nine. Team Seven consists of Sakura Haruno, Hinata Hyūga, Kiba Inuzuka and Shino Aburame, and is captained by Kakashi Hatake, the son of the White Fang. Team Nine consists of Neji Hyūga, Tenten and Sasuke Uchiha, and is captained by Might Guy." At this Lee's neutral look broke into a quick smile while Naruto sighed, shaking his head. "Your secondary objective is to make sure the man survives, but killing Gato takes priority. Do you want horses, or will you walk?"

Naruto and Lee shared a look before declaring unanimously, "We'll walk."

"Alright then, good luck you two."

"Thank you, Nobunaga-sama."

"Yeah, thanks boss." The two brothers turned and started walking out. "Well, I guess we're going on a small jaunt to Nami, eh Lee-kun."

"This is a mission from Lord Nobunaga, Naruto-kun, not a vacation."

"Ara, so uptight."

"And you are too mellow." The two brothers continued to bicker on the way.

"And these two are the best you've got?" Nōh sent a glare at her husband who just shrugged nervously.

"Hey, those two are my best friends."

"My point exactly."

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I lied. So sue me.

For the purpose of this story, I made Naruto and Lee four years older than the Rookie 9. Graduation age is twelve.

Now, as a reference, I'm making some profiles, like in the Naruto Databooks. Well, the trivia section of the Wiki, but still.

Naruto Uzumaki
Hobbies – training with his sword, Muramasa; sleeping under trees
Wants to Fight – pretty much everybody
Favorite Foods - teriyaki
Favorite Words – 'yeesh'; 'Muramasa demands blood'; 'maybe I should draw Muramasa a bit'
Weapons - gamethu . vnexpress Files/Subject/3B/9A/EE/76/L1016381 . jpg

Rock Lee
Hobbies – any training at all; taking walks in the gardens
Wants to Fight – same as Naruto
Favorite Foods - takoyaki
Favorite Words – 'guts'; 'youth'; 'sleeping again'; 'leave the sword in its sheath'
Weapons - images . wikia dynastywarriors/images/7/70/A-xiahoudun . jpg

I'm thinking about Haku for Lee (female of course), but I'm kinda drawing blanks on Naruto.

I'll work as fast as I can on the second chapter of this and 'Prince of the Khan'. Promise.

Scout's honor.