"10 out of 10. Hell yeah!"
"Watch your language, Naruto!" The young child's verbal celebration was put to a quick end by Iruka. That didn't stop the inward joy he was feeling as he stared down at the target that stood over nearly a hundred meters away. Neatly embedded in the dead center of the target were ten kunai that had been thrown by the blond.
The entirety of his class stood out in the throwing range that laid behind the academy. A majority of the children stood close to the teacher, Iruka, as he sent a glare at Naruto. The blond blew a raspberry at the man in response before stepping away from the throwing platform and began to walk back towards the class.
It had been a week since his fateful meeting with the senbon-chewing ninja and Kabuto and things couldn't have been better. Every single day he had been meeting with the medical-nin-in-training and the boy had been infinitely helpful. Alongside improving his senbon throwing techniques, Kabuto had also helped him more with some of his practical skills. Simple things like proper running form, how to throw a punch, how to dress a wound, etc. Things that most kids knew beforehand going into the academy, but to Naruto it was information he was sorely ignorant to. And now that he knew this information, he was a hundred times more badass. He actually started winning some of his mock spars, he came in first in almost all of the sprinting exercises and he could throw kunai like it was nothing. The young child couldn't help but have an inflated ego at the rapid improvement that had taken place in his life.
"Naruto!" The boy was snapped out of his thoughts by the irritated sound of his teacher's voice. It seemed during his inner monologue he he had stopped walking, effectively blocking the platform entrance. Standing in front of him now was one irritated looking Ino Yamanaka. His fellow blond shot him a dirty look while he stepped out of the way. The boy had the decency to look somewhat sheepish as he trotted his way back over to the teacher.
The blond managed to get back over to Iruka just as Ino began to throw her first kunai. Naruto had to hold in a laugh at just how far off the knife was thrown. The weapon didn't even reach the bullseye as it buried itself almost a full dozen feet away from the target. The girl looked more than a little embarrassed at the throw as a couple of snickers rose from the crowd of students.
"Don't be nervous, Ino! Just keep your grip steady and your arm straight." Iruka shouted out to the girl before levelling a glare onto the giggling students. The students were quickly silenced by the teacher's look as Ino prepared to throw another kunai.
Naruto rolled his eyes at the submissiveness of his fellow children. It was a bit sad to him, honestly. Iruka was all bark and no bite. The man could look and say some pretty scary things but in actuality, he was a giant teddy bear. He wouldn't harm a hair on their head.
"Unless that hair belongs to a kid that skipped his class for three days in a row." The blond thought to himself as he began to rub at the phantom pains that manifested on the back of his head. The man had been especially ruthless that done when he discovered the blond in a clearing, training his senbon throwing. He had quite literally dragged the boy by his hair back to the academy in a fit of agitation. That definitely hadn't been fun. Kabuto's laughter during the situation hadn't made it better either.
The blond was snapped out of his thinking as his ears began to pick up a soft hum. He turned his head slightly and saw some students slowly beginning to inch their way away from the area around him. He turned his head further and saw the cause of the student's unease.
Shino Aburame, the enigmatic heir to the Aburame clan, was now stood directly behind him. And by directly behind him, he meant literally inches away. The blond would've been able to feel the fellow child's breath if the clan heir's high collar hadn't been in place. Instead, the blond was subjected to hearing the soft hum of the insects moving their way through the young male's body.
Shino was someone that Naruto didn't have much direct interaction with. Most of the interaction shared between the two were curiosity filled glances. The clan heir faced a level of social ostracization within the academy that was only second to Naruto's, yet the boy didn't show any level of discomfort. Instead he seemed to bear it all with a silent air of apathy. Even when the girls pointed and screamed 'ew', Shino seemed to shrug it all away. The boy seemed to prefer the company of none anyway.
So why exactly was he standing an uncomfortable distance behind the blond? Naruto didn't know but he intended to find out. The boy turned to meet his fellow male eye to eye only to look into the heir's sunglasses. The humming coming from him seemed to rise slightly before settling back down.
"Whatcha want?" As usual, the blond was extremely blunt in his questioning. It didn't seem to ruffle Shino much as the boy remained silent while maintaining eye contact with the Jinchuuriki.
The impromptu staring contest between the duo lasted for several seconds before Shino unexpectedly rose his arm into the arm, causing Naruto to jerk back suddenly as if under attack. With his arm in the air, the clan heir's sleeve succumbed to the effects of gravity and drooped down, revealing what remained underneath. If the surrounding students hadn't been scared before, they were definitely scared now as rows and rows of crawling insects could be seen travelling along the boy's arm.
"My bugs." Shino started off with his attention focused on his outstretched arm. The bugs seemed to respond to his gaze as they began to circle around the center of his limb. "They won't eat you."
Naruto had heard some pretty strange and messed up things in his life but the sentence that his fellow classmate just said took the cake. The tone that it was said in really added the creepy factor to the phrase.
"What the hell?" The blond verbalized as he slowly began to back away from Shino. His actions were put to a stop when the heir's attention suddenly shifted onto him. Even though his eyes were hidden by his sunglasses, Shino's stare still managed to stop the normally overhyped blond in his tracks.
"The dead skin on you. For some reason my bugs won't eat it. You scare them. Why?" The child explained while maintaining eye contact with Naruto. The explanation served to ease how creeped out he was feeling, but only by a tiny bit. He was aware of the Aburame clan and their affinity towards bugs. He just didn't think they or their bugs actually ate people. Dead skin was a much better alternative than whole, live people. Still creepy as hell though.
"I don't know. Why don't you ask your bugs?" The blond's childish bravado returned to him as he responded to Shino. The male duo continued their staring contest for several more seconds before Shino lowered his and promptly turned away from Naruto. Not a single more word was exchanged between the duo as the Aburame disappeared into the crowd, leaving a very confused blond behind.
"What the hell just happened?"
When one looked at Genma Shiranui, they don't exactly get much. The man looked lackadaisical at best and completely lazy at his worse. His hunched shoulders, hands in his pocket and senbon chewing gave him a very lax disposition. No one would've been able to guess that he was once on the same team as Might Guy. No one would've been able to guess that he was a tokubetsu jounin. And no one would've been able to guess that he was a part of Fourth Hokage's elite guard.
Yes, he honestly looked that lazy. And honestly that was the way he wanted it. He was a casual, easygoing guy. Being serious was a waste of energy to him. Making jokes during serious situation had become one of his hobbies because of this line of thinking. It had gotten him in a load of trouble with his superiors but it sure did lighten up the situation.
All of this is said to demonstrate the fact that Genma was a man who didn't care much. There weren't many things in life he took that seriously.
"Maybe that's why none of my relationships ever worked out." The man couldn't help but snort out from his position high up in one of Konoha's many trees. He liked to lounge about in them during his down time. But at the moment he wasn't lounging about. He was actually observing a duo of people.
As one of the Fourth Hokage's guardsmen, Genma had been privy to a lot of the men's personal life. That included that his wife, Kushina Uzumaki, had been pregnant and in the process of delivering her child during the Kyuubi's attack. After all, he was part of the guard that had been given the duty of protecting her during the birth.
The failure to uphold that duty still struck at him even to this day. Kushina and Minato had been his friends yet he didn't come through for them when it mattered most. His failure had cost them their lives and the life of their child.
Well, the second part of that statement wasn't completely true. Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze was alive and somewhat well. The fact that he was currently training with Kabuto showed that was true. Genma knew, though, that the blond hadn't had the life that his parents would've wanted for him. Kushina would've gone on a rampage if she was alive to see how her 'baby' had been raised.
In all honesty, Genma hadn't even recognized the blond when he had came stumbling into the clearing. He thought the kid was just another annoying brat that was trying to ruin his day. If he had known who the kid's parents were, he would've toned his personality down a bit for a kid. Maybe shown him a trick or two instead of attacking him.
"Too late for 'ifs'." Genma reminded himself of one of his many mottos as he continued to look over the male duo. He had missed his initial opportunity but more were sure to come. The boy seemed to be in good hands for right now. So for now he would wait. He had already missed out on the first couple years of the kid's life so a few more weeks wouldn't hurt him, right?
The sunset was quite beautiful, he couldn't help but note. The somewhat muted chirping of birds in the distance gave the landscape a very picturesque feeling to small breeze that blew against his back only seemed to highlight this. A very small, almost non-existent portion of him debated just sitting down to enjoy the scene in front of him. Blowing away all of his worries for a couple of days just to enjoy the sunset.
That part of him was squashed under immediately as a tussle of silver hair came over the horizon. The man couldn't help but lick his lips at the sight of his subordinate. Nature's beauty could not compete with the information the boy undoubtedly had with him. Even Kami wouldn't be able to distract him.
"You're late." His voice was a strange mixture of raspy and husky as it came out his lips. It was one of the reasons he chose this body. He could almost taste the fear rolling off of his subordinates' body when he spoke. Fear kept them in place. Fear secured their loyalty and fear would make sure it stayed with him.
"I apologize, Orochimaru-Sama." Kabuto bowed his head as he spoke. The snake sannin couldn't help but smirk at the boy's subservient. The boy's loyalty was a treasure that he would've never expected to just stumble upon. He would have to thank Danzo for basically sending him the boy on a silver platter. No one could say that the old hawk wasn't good at pumping out talent. Utilizing it though … that was a completely different story.
"Your apologies are unneeded as long as you have done your job." The man spoke, prompting Kabuto to raise his head. The young boy had been around his master long enough to realize when the man wanted him to speak.
"Of course. Naruto-san has been showing progress for someone so young. The boy takes to learning like a fish to water. Its quite amazing. I haven't taught him anything too advanced but it's only a matter of time." Kabuto let a chuckle slip past his lips at the thought of his excitable young charge. Normally, a slip of emotion during a mission report would result in some sort of punishment but Orochimaru was too lost in his thoughts to care.
Uzumaki Naruto. Just the thought of the boy sent a shiver of excitement down the men's spine. Son of Kushina Uzumaki and Minato Namikaze. And better yet, the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi. The amount of potential inside of that little boy's delicate body was enormous. It was beautiful, in a sense. The raw power that brought the arguably strongest hidden village to its knees and killed one of the most powerful ninjas to ever live was now stuck within a child. A child with the potential to harness and wield it all as if it was his to begin with.
Oh, what he wouldn't give to have such power at such a young age. The idea of taking the boy and occupying his body had crossed his mind several occasions. But, despite his zealous approach to power, he knew it wouldn't work. He was there the Kyuubi attacked his home village. He saw the Shinigami with his own eyes. Even with recent advancements in his curse seal, he wasn't arrogant enough to believe it would stand up to the might of the death god's power. Plus, Minato would have surely added some sort of backup measure to ensure the safety of his son. He may of detested everything the man stood for, but that didn't mean he would doubt his genius. He had no plans on testing his newly improved curse seal against Minato's genius and the Shinigami's power.
So the option of taking the boy's body was out of the picture. It was a loss, but still manageable. That didn't leave the boy out of the picture all together. It would be a sin for him to just ignore all of that potential and power just because he couldn't have it for himself. The boy was young. He was impressionable, ready to be molded by anything that passed his way. His former sensei had done a wonderful job of not leaving too many influences of the child. A lack of friends, idols and mentors left the boy modifiable. That made his plans that much easier.
"Wonderful." The shinobi spoke after a long silence. He gave a dull glance towards Kabuto before digging into one of the folds of the kimono. When he withdrew his hand, a scroll was now in its grasp. He gave the scroll a long glance before tossing it at his subordinate.
"Give this to the child when you see him again. Tell him that it's from a benefa- … No. Tell him it's from his guardian angel." The grin stretched across his face spoke plenty of what the man was thinking. Kabuto didn't question his master's intentions as he pocketed the scroll. He simply offered the man a small bow before disappearing into the treeline.
Left alone once again, Orochimaru returned his attention back towards the sunset. The sun had feel enough so that only the tip of it was visible. A brilliant violet had filled the sky. He found his attention lost within the intricacies of nature once again.
Soon, it would all be his.
Naruto Uzumaki would make sure of that.
A dull thud reached Genma's senses and awakened him from his sleep. The man was almost immediately sent tumbling out of the tree after mistakenly believing the plant life to be his bed and trying to climb out of it. He quickly righted himself with a quick usage of his chakra before beginning to take note of his surroundings.
"Must've fallen asleep." He mumbled to himself as he scanned the now dimly lit training ground. The sun had retreated from the sky and the moon was now in its place, providing a very dim light onto the village. It was through this light that Genma was able to spot Naruto's prone form laying face down in the grass.
"Kid probably passed out from training. Or Kabuto slit his throat and left him here to die." The ninja chuckled to himself as his morbid sense of humor got the better of him. He quickly descended out of the tree and approached Naruto. From up close, he could clearly see that the child was breathing, eliminating the possibility of a Kabuto based murder.
"Ah shit. This is a problem." He muttered out loud as he stood over top of Naruto's body. The man had hit a sort of moral brick wall. The moral part of him dictated that he pick the boy up and carry him home. The problem was that he had absolutely no idea where the kid live. So the lazy part of him, the part that demanded he just leave the kid here and go home to hop into his bed and continue his sleep, was currently winning out.
"Well kid, I have no idea where you live and I honestly don't feel like actually talking to you so it looks like you'll be spending the night out here." The man said before turning his back on the sleeping child. He managed to take two steps away from Naruto before a series of rustling bushes stopped him in his tracks.
"I know where he lives." Of all the people he expected to be out in the middle of the forest during the night, a Hyuuga was definitely at the bottom of that list. Especially since this particular Hyuuga was a heiress to the clan and was usually accompanied by some type of guard. To see the small child all alone was somewhat of a shock to the man.
"What?" Genma responded in the only way his shock induced brain could respond. His question earned him an eyeroll from the girl before she haughtily pointed at Naruto.
"I know where he lives. I can show you." Hanabi responded snappishly. Genma blinked owlishly at her statement, his mind not quite sure on how to process the situation. So many questions were swirling through it at the moment and some of those questions he honestly didn't want the answer to.
"I can already tell being around you is going to be such a pain in the ass." The shinobi mentally said to himself as he glanced down at Naruto. With a long sigh, he walked back over to the boy, roughly picked him up from the ground, slung him over his shoulder and turned back to the young girl.
"Well. Lead on." Now it was Hanabi's turn to be shocked at the men's utter casualty at the situation. She only allowed the shock to plague her for just a moment before quickly wiping it from her mind and marching towards Naruto's apartment with two males in tow.
"Should I be concerned that you know where he lives? I know the kid lives alone so..." The odd trio were about five minutes into their journey and even the usually laid-back Genma couldn't help but question the situation he had somehow found himself in. Being led through the streets of Konoha by someone more than a decade younger than him felt weird. Especially when he already had another kid slung over his shoulder as if he was a deer he had shot and captured.
Hanabi rounded on the man with a furious expression on her face. Well, it would've come off as furious if the girl wasn't blushing and also wasn't the men's junior by more than a couple years. So, instead of intimidating the man, her poignant glare only made him chuckle in response which only seemed to anger the girl even further.
"No! Its not like that. Dont you dare insinuate something so vile." Hanabi snapped back. The raised eyebrow from Genma clearly stated that the man didn't believe a single word that just left the girl's mouth. Realizing that she wasn't going to convince the man, the young heiress faced forward once again.
"Ahhh kids. Sometimes they're almost too easy to mess with." Genma mused as he shifted Naruto to a slightly more comfortable position on his shoulder. He could remember Guy and Ebisu acting the exact same when they were on a team together. All you had to do to get Guy riled up was offer the man any sort of physical challenge or challenge his manhood. For Ebisu, all you had to do was call the boy a pervert. It was a rather comical sight to see the duo freak out.
"And look how they turned out." Genma gave a slight shiver at the thought of his two former teammates. Guy had taken his physicality and manliness to an extreme level that made damn near unapproachable at times. And Ebisu … Genma didn't want to even get started on him. The man had taken the definition of closet pervert to a whole new level. He was just as unapproachable as Guy at times with his peeping and hypocritical uptightness.
"I hope these kids don't turn out as bad as my teammates." Genma thought to himself as he eyed Hanabi. He saw that the girl was now facing him again with an expectant look on her face. The shinobi stared at her for a bit, prompting her to release an annoyed huff before pointing behind her. The senbon chewer glanced behind the girl to see that they were now stood in front of a somewhat quaint looking home.
"Damn, the kid lives here by himself" Genma couldn't help but comment as he ran his eyes over the exterior of the building. The boy couldn't of been more than a dozen years old, yet he was living in a two-story house by himself? He couldn't imagine managing the same thing when he was that age. He barely knew how to wash his own clothes back then.
"All by himself? Thats impressive ... and a bit sad." Genma was beyond bewildered and was beginning to feel a bit guilty as the pieces of the kid's life fell into place around it. It was becoming very clear to him that saying the blond hadn't had a simple life was being a little light.
"This is it. Can I leave now?" The young girl responded impatiently as the man's silence stretched on a bit too long for her liking. Genma rolled his eyes at the girl before approaching the complex's doors.
"You can leave whenever you want. No one ever said you had to come in the first place. If you remember correctly, you volunteered for this. I can only assume so you could say goodbye to your little boyfriend." Genma shot back over his shoulder as be began to fish through the blond's pockets for a key. He missed the angry expression that made its way onto the girl's face and her subsequent temper tantrum as she stomped. Seconds later, his fingers wrapped around his coveted items right before he pulled them out of their hiding place.
A bit of shuffling and maneuvering of Naruto on his shoulder later, and Genma was now inside of the blond's house. The living room was pretty average. It was as clean as one could expect a young boy to keep it. Genma knew he probably wouldnt of done much better as a kid if he was in Naruto's position. There was some trash lying around and some things looked to be in crappy conditions, but it wasn't anything too bad.
After examining the room, Genma quickly strode across its length and entered the only hallway of the house. It didn't take much to find the blond's bedroom. It was in pretty similar condition as the living room. There was a lot of scrolls spread throughout the room, most likely covering some ninjutsu theory or taijutsu forms. The shinobi didn't pay them too much mind as his eyes immediately locked on to the boy's bed. With a slight grunt and a bit of exertion, Genma lifted Naruto from his shoulder and deposited him on the bed.
"That's done with." Genma said out loud once the blond landed on his bed. The man hesitated for a second before turning and leaving the room. The man managed to make his way out of the kid's room and to the main door before he hesitated once again. He gave an unsure look back at Naruto's bedroom before glancing back at the open doorway. That pit of guilt in his stomach seemed more apparent than ever as he debated leaving the child alone. His hesitation turned into a full minute as an internal debate roared within him.
"Fuck it." The man said as he shut the door.
He didn't feel like walking home anyway.
"Get away from me!" Naruto's screams rang throughout his apartment as he shot upright in his bed. The boy's eyes were dilated as he swung his head wildly around the room. A haze of confusion was clear on the blond's face as he soaked in the sight of his own room. It took several seconds for his brain to catch up with vision as he finally seemed to calm down. His breathing slowed, and his pupils widened to a normal size as he realized where he was.
"Stupid dream." The blond mumbled beneath his breath as he hopped out of his bed. He attempted to put the disturbing mental images he had just experienced past him as he examined his room. He definitely didn't remember walking home and falling asleep. The last thing he remembered was training Kabuto.
"Looks like you're awake." Naruto would never admit it but he released a horribly high pitched screech at the sound of the foreign voice. Once he emptied his lungs, he turned towards the sound of the voice only to see a random person standing in his doorway.
"What the hell?" The blond exclaimed as he scrambled up to his feet. He reached down to his side to retrieve a kunai, but found himself woefully under supplied. He looked back up to see the man still standing in his doorway, looking rather bored as he stared down at the blond. His mind vaguely made the connection that this was the same senbon chewing man he had met a while ago just moments before he began to speak.
"What are you doing in my house?!" Naruto yelled at the expressionless man stood in front of him. He was greeted with a nonchalant shrug that only served to drive him deeper into his confusion and agitation. Who the hell was this guy? What gave him the right to invade his personal space like this?
"I didn't feel like walking home after dragging you here." This was the guy who brought him home. His anger lessened to a great extent at this revelation. Even with his childish stubbornness, he couldn't be too mad at the guy who saved him an unpleasant night sleeping in the middle of the forest.
"Oh…" Naruto responded, much more subdued. The boy was at a loss for words. A part of him wanted to still be agitated with the man for invading his bedroom. The other part of him rationalized that the man had taken him home, so the least he could do was not be a dick to him. In the end, the more logical side of him won out as he began to address the man.
"Well … Thank you, I guess." The blond said bashfully before the room descended into silence. The young boy was at a lost of words while Genma seemed contempt with remaining silent. The silence lasted for an agonizing minute before the blond decided to break it.
"So … are you going to leave now?"Naruto questioned. It was already weird that the man had stayed somewhere, Kami only knows where, in his house while he slept. Now, the guy looked as if he had no plans on leaving. Honestly, it looked as if he was ready to fall back to sleep any second. The yawn that he released seconds earlier certainly didn't help his appearance.
"Don't you at least want to know who the guy is that dragged your ass here?" The man's voice came out in a lazy drawl as he spoke. Naruto blinked owlishly at the response. He begrudgingly admitted to being somewhat curious about the guy in front of him. The creepy factor outweighed his curiosity but only by a little.
"Good point. Who exactly are you, mister?"
"Oh me? I'm just some guy." Naruto was absolutely floored by the his answer. After being goaded into questioning him, the blond had expected to get a proper introduction and explanation him. Instead, he got some bullshit answer. He couldn't help but feel slighted and pretty pissed off by it all.
"Just some guy? What type of answer is that? You can't just stay in someone's house and not gi-" The blond's rant was put to a quick end when Genma began to chuckle. The young boy's anger turned into confusion as the shinobi's chuckle turned into a full blown laugh. It continued on for a full minute for the man eventually calmed down enough to speak again.
"I'm sorry, kid. It's just too easy sometimes. Getting people riled up is sort of my thing." Genma chuckled at the dumbfounded look on the blond's face. Those were the expressions he lives for. The completely confused, absolutely baffled, 'I have no idea what's going on' look was absolutely priceless.
Genma quickly silenced his laughter as he visibly saw Naruto's patience fading away. He didn't need to deal with an irate brat at the moment. Especially when said brat was his former leader's son and his self proclaimed future charge. So with this in mind, the man straightened up and levelled his gaze on Naruto. A small smirk wormed its way onto his laps when he saw the blond freeze up beneath his look.
"Kid, My name is Genma Shiranui. I guess you could call me an old family friend."
The shocked look he received in return told him all he needed to know. He had most likely said something he probably shouldn't of said.
Oh, well. He didn't like secrets anyway.
AN: Whoa. Its been a while. Sort of been occupied with a bunch of stuff. I'll try to make sure future updates don't take so long. Anyways, thats really it. Hope you all enjoyed the chapter. Review with any questions, concerns, comments, etc.
Also, I'm looking for an illustration for A Simple Teenage Shop Owner. Message me if you're an artist and interested in drawing something up.
Only requirement: Just know I can't pay you