Notes: I wish there was still an 'action' category on genres. This story is more action then adventure I think, but oh well.
"Better, Naruto," Iruka said quietly as he handed back Naruto's quiz. He was always less formal when it wasn't in front of the entire class. "I've noticed an improvement this past week. Has your godfather been helping you?"
Naruto looked down at the circled 78 on his quiz. He grinned. "Thanks, Iruka-sensei!" He dropped his voice. "I, uh, have a tutor, actually."
"Well they're doing a good job. Keep it up, Naruto. I expect to see you getting Bs when we all get back from summer break, okay?"
Naruto nodded, determination in his eyes. For the first time in his life he actually understood most of the material his teachers were talking about. He still struggled on a bunch of stuff, but he wasn't failing anymore.
The reason, of course, was the strange man with silver hair and one eye that he now more easily called Kakashi-sensei. Over the past ten days, Kakashi had poked and prodded and punched and kicked and through it all Naruto had learned more than he ever thought was possible for him. He guessed what they said about pain being a good motivator was true.
Of course, Kakashi was hardly perfect. The man was a perpetually late riser, so Naruto still had to make his own breakfast and lunch. But then, Kakashi made sure to keep the kitchen stocked with food that wasn't just ramen and moldy bread and spoiled milk. For the first time in his life, Naruto was able to make himself bento boxes for lunch like what he saw everyone else eating. What's more Kakashi always was there when Naruto returned from school, merrily cooking up a dinner that he would only give to Naruto in small servings for each correct answer Naruto got on his homework.
The thing they said about food being a good motivator was also true.
Naruto didn't even have to wait for the other shoe to drop, like he'd done for weeks after Iruka had shown he was going to be nice, not nasty like Naruto's other teachers. He already knew the downside to Kakashi. It was written in the bruises across his body. Kakashi forced him to do push ups and sit ups every night before bed and when Naruto's weak arms collapsed under him, the man would aim a kick at his stomach that would hit like a ton of bricks unless Naruto managed to dodge away in time.
He was getting quicker at dodging though. And even when he couldn't… well Kakashi never hit him more than once in the same place in a single sitting. Unlike Naruto's vague memories of other kids beating him up in the playground when he was younger and hadn't learned how to run as fast as could, Kakashi didn't keep beating him while he was down. Instead he scoffed and turned away and it made Naruto wish to be a bit stronger, a bit more agile, just so he didn't have to see the disappointment on his new tutor's face.
He wanted to be better and for the first time ever, Naruto honestly believed he had a chance to be.
Naruto attempted to listen to the last lecture of the day, because the more he learned in the classroom the less he'd have to relearn by Kakashi's jabs that night, but it was hard. Not just for him either, most of the class was shifting in their seats and looking at the clock.
Iruka sighed. "Very well. I can see no one is paying attention. Remember you have a short essay due the day you get back. Have a great summer break."
Naruto grinned and started gathering his stuff. The bell rang a moment later, flooding the halls with students eager to enjoy the sunlight and their two weeks off. Naruto swung his backpack over his shoulders and made sure it was secure. He stood outside the school, looking up at the sky. There were only a couple clouds lazing around the deep blue. The sun shone down on him bright and cheery.
He rolled his shoulders back and looked forward at the street. He felt like running home today. He usually ran to school on the days he slept in. He'd never had a reason to want to get home fast before. Not until Kakashi arrived.
He huffed a bit at himself. He didn't want to get so attached to the man so fast. He could do fine on his own! It helped that Kakashi only cooked dinner. Naruto had never had a mom who took care of the cooking and cleaning for him. He wouldn't have liked it if Kakashi had tried, he didn't think.
Shaking his head, Naruto checked the laces on his shoes. They were tight enough, though frayed at the ends. He tensed his muscles, and then shot forward.
He ignored the shocked exclamations by the nearest middle schoolers as he rushed past them and sprinted down the street. Naruto laughed as he felt the wind rush through his golden hair. He felt, for a moment, completely free.
"Such youthful energy!" a voice yelled.
Naruto looked to his right and stumbled as he saw a man had started running just next to him. The man was dressed in a green tracksuit. He gave Naruto a thumbs up and a wide grin.
"Who are you?" Naruto asked, slowing down to a jog.
"I am Maito Gai! Green Beast of Konoha! The radiant Sun of the Yondaime's Guardians!" Gai gave Naruto a wider grin. "I am so pleased to meet the youthful son of my Sky!"
This Gai person was really loud, Naruto thought. And then the words registered. He remembered Kakashi calling his dad the Yodaime, whatever that meant. "You knew my dad?"
Gai's happy grin dropped for just a moment and he nodded. "Indeed I did. He was a brilliant man and your mom a fierce and always youthful lady."
"Oh." Naruto looked away. "So you and Kakashi-sensei are friends?"
"Kakashi is my youthful rival and eternal comrade!" Gai yelled, the mega-watt grin back.
Naruto blinked a couple times. "Um, so are you following me home?"
"The mighty Gai does not simply follow! We shall race to your youthful home, son of Minato!"
"Just call me Naruto, sheesh," he muttered, but he wasn't sure if Gai heard him because all of the sudden he was jogging in the man's dust path. "Hey!"
Naruto picked up the pace, pushing himself to the limit as he tried to catch up to Gai. The man was fast, like really fast. Naruto grunted and pushed himself to go faster.
He managed to just reach Gai as they sprinted up his stairs. He stumbled at his front door, his sides heaving. Gai didn't even look winded, but his smile was, if possible, even brighter as he grinned down at Naruto. "As expected! You shine with the springtime of youth!"
Naruto shuddered, trying to steady his breathing. The front door opened and Kakashi leaned against the frame. "Gai," he said, before glancing at Naruto. "Are you trying to kill your future boss?"
"Never! Young Naruto and I simply raced!" Gai put both hands on his hips. "I believe he will one day be as fast as his father, the Yellow Flash of Konoha!"
"One day," Kakashi murmured, pulling Naruto inside by the scruff of his school uniform. "Come on, Naruto, get some water."
There was another stranger in his apartment. It was a woman, her hair long and dark and her eyes a strangely beautiful red. She wore a white suit jacket over a red dress that went down to her knees. Naruto stared, open-mouthed, at her for a long moment before Kakashi pushed a water glass into his hands.
"It's nice to meet you, Uzumaki-sama," the woman said, bowing. "My name is Yuuhi Kurenai. I was also a friend of your parents."
"Naruto is fine," he said, embarrassed by the formality. "Um, nice to meet you too."
Kurenai smiled and sat back down on the couch. Kakashi prodded Naruto to sit on the armchair. Gai merrily sat next to Kurenai.
"So you're all in the mafia too?" Naruto asked.
Gai and Kurenai exchanged a glance and then they both nodded. "We are proud members of Konoha," Gai said.
"And always shall be," Kurenai added.
"So my dad really was a mafia boss?" Naruto looked down at his hands. Kakashi hadn't brought up the mafia thing again since that first night. He'd almost convinced himself to forget about it.
"It is something to be proud of!" Gai exclaimed.
"Why?" Naruto scowled. "Why be proud of knowing my parents were killers?"
Another heavy glance was exchanged.
"Naruto-san," Kurenai began. "Your parents did kill, yes, but it was always in defense of the Family. Such is the way of Konoha."
Kakashi moved to stand next to Kurenai, perching slightly on the side of the couch. "Konohagakure was founded how many years ago?"
"Seventy-six," Naruto said, because it had been one of the questions on his last history quiz and Kakashi had drilled it into him by making him do seventy-six sit ups. "By Senju Hashirama and Uchiha Madara." He scowled at the mention of Uchiha. There was a reason Sasuke was so popular besides his looks, grades, and athleticism—he was also sticking rich. Another reason Naruto hated him.
"Correct," Kakashi said.
"Hashirama-sama was the Shodai, the first boss of Konoha," Kurenai said. "The Konoha Family was created to protect the citizens of Konohagakure and the surrounding Land of Fire, the province we live in."
"Konoha may be a mafia syndicate, but it's not like in the movies, Naruto," Kakashi said. "Our first and more important purpose is as protectors. Konoha has never and will never support the drug industry, human trafficking, or anything of the sort. In fact, we find and destroy all such activities within the Land of Fire."
"Oh." Naruto wasn't quite sure what human trafficking was, but he knew drugs were bad. "So my dad… him too?"
"Minato was the best of us," Gai said, his bright smile absent.
"Kushina, your mother, was his right-hand and his Storm Guardian," Kurenai said.
Naruto's face twisted in confusion. "What… was Dad afraid of thunderstorms or something?"
"Oh, you haven't explained that to him yet?" Kurenai looked to Kakashi.
The man shrugged. "It's only been ten days. Did you bring the picture?"
Kurenai nodded and pulled someone out from a fold in her dress. She handed it to Naruto. Naruto took it with slightly shaking fingers as he realized what it was.
The man that could only be his dad stood in the center of the photo. He was dressed in a black tux, his arm around a gorgeous red-haired woman in a wedding dress. Minato and Kushina, he thought to himself. His parents. They looked so happy.
Surrounding his parents were five others. To his dad's right was a younger Kakashi. Naruto gasped softly as he realized his tutor had both eyes in this photo, though his facemask was still there. Next to Kakashi was a grinning young man with crazy black hair. While Minato's tie was orange, Kakashi's was green and this other man's was bright blue. Next to that man was a younger Kurenai in a gorgeous indigo dress. On his mother's side was a tall man with long black hair and strange white eyes. He wore a purple tie. Gai was next to him, looking strangely mature in a tux and a bright yellow tie instead of a tracksuit.
"This was their wedding?" Naruto asked once he was sure his voice wasn't going to shake.
"Yes," Kurenai said. "They wed in secret a year before you were born." She cleared her throat. Naruto looked up and saw that there were unshed tears in her eyes. Gai was looking off into the corner and Kakashi had his one eye closed.
"So you really were all friends," Naruto said. It was nice to have proof. "C-can I keep it?"
Kurenai nodded. "Of course. I can get you a frame for it too."
"Thank you." Naruto looked down at the picture again, carefully rubbing his thumb over the happy faces of his parents.
"We were more than just their friends," Kakashi said then. "The six of us, Kushina included, were Minato's Guardians."
"No, Guardians." Kakashi sighed. "That's the main reason I had Gai and Kurenai come today. There's more to being in the mafia then guns and knives. Many of those in the upper ranks of Families have what's called Dying Will Flames."
Naruto frowned. "What's that?"
Kakashi stood and Naruto yelped and jumped back, because the man's right arm was suddenly engulfed by a bright green electrical storm. Kakashi punched the nearest wall and Naruto gaped as a clean hole was cratered into it.
Gai laughed. "Kakashi is showing off his youthfulness! I will do so too!" The man stood and punched his fists together. A bright yellow flame leapt up between them and spread across his entire body. In a second, he flashed and then he was standing on the other side of the room. He flashed again and was standing behind Naruto, and then he was back to his original spot.
"That…. That is so cool!" Naruto said. "It's like in anime! Can you do that too, Kurenai-basan?" He flushed suddenly and closed his mouth as all three adults stared at him.
"Wh-what did you just call me?" Kurenai asked, her eyes wide.
"I'm sorry," Naruto said looking down. "I don't… I won't do it again."
"Why did you call her that, Naruto?" Kakashi asked.
Naruto scuffed the floor with his shoe. "It's just, you were all friends of my parents…."
"Naruto-kun," Kurenai said, suddenly kneeling in front of him. He looked up at her kind eyes. "You can call me Aunt. I- I think your parents would like that."
Naruto smiled brightly, not understanding why Kurenai's eyes got suddenly wider at the look.
Kakashi huffed and Naruto glanced at his tutor. "I'm still your sensei, but you can call me oji-san too if you want."
"I would be honored if Naruto called me Uncle!" Gai exclaimed.
Naruto had stopped calling Jiraiya Oji-san when he was five and the man told him not to. He felt his throat close up and he quickly wiped at his eyes. "Okay, Kakashi-jisan, Gai-jisan."
Kurenai smiled and stepped back. "Now to your earlier question, yes I can."
Naruto gasped as suddenly his living room disappeared to be replaced by a grassy field. He looked around wildly. "What happened? Where'd everyone go?"
He blinked and he was back in the living room.
"My Flames can create illusions," Kurenai said.
"So the field wasn't real?"
"Oh." Naruto furrowed his eyebrows and then grinned. "That's so cool. You could go to the beach without even having to drive there!"
Kurenai laughed as if the thought had never occurred to her before. "Yes, I suppose I could."
"There are seven Flame types," Kakashi said. He jumped forward and Naruto stiffened, preparing himself to be hit. "There's my type, the green Lightning Flames." He jabbed Naruto's side faster than Naruto could dodge. Naruto winced. "Quick and ruthless, Lightning Flames are able to manifest into physical shapes, often striking opponents as a type of electrical current." He sent a little zap Naruto way and Naruto yelped.
"Next," Kakashi flashed to Naruto's other side. "Gai has the yellow Sun Flames. Bright and energetic, the Sun Flames are often used in support, such as healing or strengthening the body." He sent a flat handed blow toward Naruto's center, which knocked Naruto back a foot.
"Then there are Kurenai's indigo Mist Flames," he said. "Good for illusions and tricking your opponent." He jumped in front of Naruto and Naruto dodged to the right. Kakashi grinned and didn't even attempt to strike at him. Naruto scowled at him.
"Rain Flames are blue. They can be used to weaken the opponent," Kakashi said, swiping out and hitting the back of Naruto's legs. Naruto went down on his knees. He quickly rolled out of the way and jumped to his feet. "Cloud Flames are purple. Used in growth and amplifying moves." He sent seven quick punches toward Naruto, which Naruto attempted to block with his forearms.
"Then there's the red Flames your mother had, Storm Flames." Kakashi kicked out, hitting Naruto in the gut. "They often disintegrate anything they touch. Very destructive."
"Ouch," Naruto whined, rubbing his stomach.
"Lastly, the rare and powerful orange Sky Flames," Kakashi said. "As your father and every other boss of Konoha had." He stood directly in front of Naruto and placed lightly his hands on Naruto's shoulders. "As you have."
Naruto straightened. "I do?"
"You wouldn't be able to see our Flames if you didn't have any of your own," Kurenai said, standing in the corner of the room by Gai. They'd both gotten out of the way as soon as Kakashi had started attacking him. Naruto noticed that Gai was grinning, but Kurenai had a tick to her eyebrows like she was annoyed about something.
Kakashi pulled back. "For the next two weeks, I'm going to be training you with the help of Kurenai and Gai. You're going to have to be stronger, faster, and think on your feet quicker. Our goal is to get you to bring out your Flames before summer break ends. Do you think you're ready for that?"
Naruto glanced down at the picture left on the armchair. He looked at his dad's orange tie. He looked back at Kakashi. "Yes," he said. "I want to see them. I want to see the Flames my dad had."
"Good." Kakashi smiled. "First, dinner and homework."
Naruto groaned. "But Kakashi-jisan! It's only the first night of summer break."
"No complaining." Kakashi pushed Naruto toward the kitchen. "The sooner we get your school work out of the way, the sooner we can train you on your Flames."
"How youthful!" Gai said, laughing as he followed behind them. Kurenai just shook her head, sighing out loud.
Naruto sat down at the table and watched the three of them work together to cook dinner. A warm feeling flickered in his chest. He smiled and pulled out his essay.
"Today, I will teach you how to fall! If I should fail, I will run one hundred laps around Kasai!"
Naruto barely reacted to Gai's ultimatum to himself. After ten days of training with the man, he was used to it.
He grimaced a little as Gai directed him to stand in the ready position he'd been taught for fighting. Kakashi may be the most sadistic of his father's Guardians, but Gai pushed the hardest. He would say he preferred the days Kurenai trained him, except he always ended up with a headache on those days. He still couldn't tell an illusion from reality and it screwed with his mind.
"Prepare yourself!" Gai said, and then he charged forward. Naruto yelled as he was flipped over. He hit the ground hard.
"Tuck your shoulder in!" Gai exclaimed.
"You couldn't have told me that before you flipped me?" Naruto grumbled. He got to his feet. He didn't see what this had to do with trying to find his Flames, but after the first couple days he stopped asking his three teachers what the purpose of their training sessions were.
Gai grinned and reached forward. Naruto took a step away but it didn't stop the man from grabbing him by the middle and flipping him again. He tried to tuck his shoulder in this time and ended up twisting his neck into a strange angle. He winced and stood.
"He's a fast learner," Kurenai said, standing under the tree Kakashi was sitting in. They both watched as Gai continued to throw Naruto across the field.
"In this he is," Kakashi agreed.
"A kinesthetic learner, like Kushina. Her determination too." Kurenai crossed her arms and got more comfortable. "He's got Minato's speed though. Or he will."
Kakashi hned. Kurenai sent him an amused glance before refocusing on Naruto. The boy managed to roll out of the latest flip. Gai proclaimed excitement and then proceed to lift Naruto up and throw him clear across the field. Naruto screamed as he flew through the air, but managed to twist his landing such that he ended up on his butt, not his head.
They sat in silence, watching Naruto, until the sun was starting to set. Naruto was now rolling out of nearly every fall. Kurenai bet the boy's shoulders and back were sore, but he didn't complain. She'd been upset at first when she realized how physical Kakashi had been and still was in his training, but she got it now. Naruto really did seem to learn best that way.
Kakashi jumped down from the tree. "I have an idea on getting his Flames to appear."
Kurenai glanced at him and noticed the look in his eye. "Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?"
Naruto stood from his last fall, grinning. "I think I got it, Gai-jisan!"
Gai grinned at him and gave him a thumbs up. "Most youthful, Naruto!"
Naruto grinned and scratched the back of his head. He let his hand drop a second later. Something felt... off. He looked around. He opened his mouth to say something to Gai, and then the crack of a gunshot rang through the still air.
Naruto stared as Gai fell to his knees, red spotting his green tracksuit. The Sun Guardian looked down at his chest in shock and then fell forward on his face. Bright red blood slowly pooled out from his body, staining the grassy field.
"GAI!" Naruto cried, rushing forward. A figure flickered and appeared in front of him. The man wore a plain black suit, like Kakashi often did. His face was non-descript but his eyes were cruel as he stared down at Naruto. "You're next." He pointed a gun at Naruto's forehead.
Naruto looked from the gun to Gai's dead body. "W-why did you—"
The bad man just smiled and began to pull the trigger. Naruto stared, shocked, in the face of his own death.
"Naruto!" Kakashi yelled. He ran forward, placing himself half in front of Naruto. The bad man shifted his aim so that it was pointed at Kakashi.
"Fine, if you want to go first," the bad man said. His fingers tightened on the trigger.
In a flash, Naruto saw Kakashi, his tutor, his sensei, his uncle. He'd known the man for less than a month. It wasn't right. He hadn't gotten enough time with him.
"No," Naruto whispered. The gun went off. "NO!"
From somewhere deep inside him, a flickering Flame grew until it was a rushing inferno. A deep red-orange consumed Naruto's vision. He heard a distant roar and realized it was coming from him. Searing heat consumed his whole body.
Naruto collapsed to the ground. His vision was hazy. He watched as soft Flames danced across the ground by his fingertips. He closed his eyes and darkness rushed in.
"Shit," Kurenai said, summing up all of their feelings. Kakashi looked from her to the stunned Gai.
"That was not very youthful," the Sun Guardian said. "To make Naruto think I was killed."
"What surprises me more is that the Flames didn't come out when he was threatened," Kurenai said. "Only when Kakashi was."
"Not so surprising," Kakashi murmured. "Minato was always strongest when fighting in defense of others."
Kurenai and Gai both fell silent.
Kakashi slowly stepped forward. The field they'd been in had been reduced to ash. If he didn't know better, he'd think Naruto had Storm Flames. But no, the Flames had been Sky—just the more destructive "hard" Sky Flames. It was frankly shocking to have seen. He felt a twinge of guilt as he approached Naruto's fallen body.
Gai jogged up to them. "I will give him strength," he said, placing his hands on Naruto's back. Kakashi watched as Gai pushed Sun Flames into Naruto. The boy's breathing evened out and color returned to his cheeks. A moment later, he groaned and opened his eyes.
"K-Kakashi-ji-san?" Naruto asked shakily.
"I'm here," Kakashi said. He was stunned yet again as Naruto launched himself into his arms. He hugged the twelve-year-old back and looked up at Gai and Kurenai. "I'm sorry, Naruto. I shouldn't have done that."
Naruto was crying softly into his chest. Kakashi gently shook him and turned him around so he could see Gai.
"Gai-jisan?" Naruto asked. He stumbled forward, staring at the man. "You're okay?"
"It was an illusion, Naruto-kun," Kurenai told him. "Kakashi thought we might be able to call your Flames out if you were in perceived mortal danger." She looked as guilty as Kakashi felt.
Naruto blinked, looking between the three of them. And then he pinned his bright blue eyes on Kakashi. "Don't do that again."
Kakashi almost stumbled back. "Naruto?"
Naruto's eyes blazed. "Don't do that again, Kakashi. Don't ever make me see one of my precious people die again."
"Yes, Godaime," Kakashi murmured.
"Me too," Kurenai said. "I promise."
Naruto took a couple unsteady breaths and then the blaze in his eyes faded. He rubbed them. Kakashi relaxed slightly and looked at Gai and Kurenai. He knew they were all thinking the same thing. For a moment, it had been as if Minato was there again.
No, Kakashi told himself. Naruto wasn't his father. Minato had been bright like the sun, tranquil like the rain, and had determination as vast as the sky itself. Naruto, though, was intense like a storm, tricky like the mist, lost like a single cloud, and drew gazes wherever he went like a bright, clear sky.
"Come on," Kakashi said, picking the exhausted kid up. "Let's take you home."
Gai looked at his hands. Kurenai sat curled up on the armchair. Kakashi came back into the living room.
"He's in bed," the Lightning Guardian said. "I apologize. I didn't think he'd react like that."
Gai frowned. Kakashi didn't apologize often. Kurenai spoke first, "We all learned a lesson."
Kakashi nodded and sat down heavily on the couch next to Gai. "It was only there for a moment, but… it's there. The promise of what's to come."
"He will be a glorious Godaime," Gai said, because Naruto could be, would be.
"I'm worried about his Flames. I've never heard of someone with natural hard Sky Flames. Most of the time the redder Sky Flames only come out after years of training, and only with the more offensive-oriented wielders," Kurenai said.
"We need to figure out some way for him to control them," Gai stated. "It's dangerous. He burned himself out and he would have destroyed all of us along with the imaginary enemy had we not been able to jump out of the way."
"Agreed," Kakashi said. He rubbed his face wearily.
"Hey," Kurenai said, reaching forward to tap Kakashi's knee. "We can think more about it in the morning. We're all tired." She stood and then looked around. "Gai and I will sleep here tonight."
Gai nodded. They'd been sleeping in a nearby apartment, but he didn't feel comfortable leaving either Naruto or Kakashi alone tonight. "I will bunk with you, my youthful comrade." Kakashi grimaced, but didn't complain.
"I'll take the couch," Kurenai stated. "Off to bed, the both of you."
Gai prodded Kakashi toward the larger bedroom. Kakashi stopped at the door to Naruto's room. "Do you think I pushed him too far?" he asked softly.
"We needed to know. And he needed to know what he was capable of," Gai said. "I believe he will train even harder now. We must simply watch him to make sure he doesn't hurt himself doing so."
Kakashi nodded. The look in his eye was a little lost. Gai hoped sleep would fix that. He started to tuck Kakashi in, but the man glared at him. He pulled away, smiling slightly. The one time Kakashi had let him do so had been after Minato's death. Kakashi might be feeling a bit lost, but he wasn't gone. Not like he'd been then.
Gai looked at the wall that separated the larger room from Naruto's. He sat cross-legged and stared at the wall. Within minutes, he was dozing himself.
Naruto dreamt. He was young. His breath came out in visible pants as he ran. They were chasing him, faceless men in dark suits. He cried out for Jiraiya, but his godfather hadn't been home in a few weeks. It was the longest Jiraiya had ever been gone at that point.
One of the men grabbed Naruto by the shoulder.
"Who's this brat?" Another asked as Naruto was hauled, kicking and screaming, to a dark van.
"I don't know, but look at his eyes."
"It can't be."
"Boss will be interested regardless."
"True. Throw her in the back with the girl."
The man holding Naruto opened the back of the van. A small girl was huddled in the corner. Her pale eyes stared frightened at him. She squeaked.
"Shut up, brat!" a man yelled. He slapped the girl across the face. She began to cry. The man picked her up with a slender arm and started to shake her.
Naruto's vision went dark. A great fire seemed to rage within him. He yelled at the men to let her go.
There was a great booming sound and then rushing in Naruto's ears. When he came back to himself, the girl was shaking him. He smiled at her, and then looked past her to where there were bodies on fire next to the twisted metal. His eyes began to close on his own.
"Please, please," the girl was saying. "Wake up."
"Hinata!" a voice yelled in the distance.
The girl drew back and began running toward a distant figure. "Daddy!"
Naruto watched them hug. He blinked tiredly and then looked up at sound of the girl crying. Her dad was carrying her away. She was yelling at him, but he just shushed her. Her pale eyes locked on Naruto's. He smiled reassuringly at her vanishing figure.
He felt so weak. He just wanted to sleep. He let his eyes fall closed.
When he opened his eyes again, it was to a familiar voice. "Oh, Naruto, what did you do?" Jiraiya asked.
"Oji-san," Naruto mumbled as his godfather carefully picked me up.
"I told you not to call me that, kid," Jiraiya muttered. Naruto watched blearily as he was carried away from the burning mess.
He fell back into the darkness.
Naruto blinked his eyes open. He looked up at the ceiling and then turned over to look at the time on his bedside clock. It was two in the afternoon.
Naruto carefully got out of bed. He stumbled blearily out of his bedroom and toward the smell of food. For a moment, he expected to see Jiraiya in the kitchen. He blinked and his vision focused.
"Good morning, Naruto-kun," Kurenai said. She reached forward and felt his forehead. "It's good to see you awake."
"Kurenai-basan," Naruto murmured.
"Kakashi and Gai are in the living room. Go on. I'll get you some soup."
Naruto stumbled into the living room. Kakashi and Gai both sat on the couch. There was a spot in between them. Naruto sat down there. Gai gave him a large smile, but Kakashi seemed stiff. He frowned, rubbing his eyes. "Are you angry I slept so late, Kakashi-jisan?"
"No, Naruto," Kakashi said. "I… aren't you angry at me?"
Naruto blinked and then suddenly he remembered what had happened. "No," he said. "You promised not to do it again. That's okay." He hesitated. Kurenai brought him his soup and he thanked her. He stared down at the bowl for a moment.
"What wrong?" Kurenai asked.
He looked up. "I didn't like it. The fire. My Flames."
"You just need to learn to control them," Kakashi said. "Don't worry, we'll teach you." He reached forward and ruffled Naruto's hair.
Naruto looked at the man's single eye. It was crinkled at the edge.
He smiled. "Thanks, Oji-san."