Alright here's the next chapter. Sorry it took so long. RL and all that.

Naruto: The Runaway Chronicles Redux

Chapter 3

"Come on Naruto!" A young girl shouted with a smile.

Naruto found himself grinning as he chased after her. He always felt so happy when they were together… like nothing in the world truly mattered.

Eventually he caught up to her and the two walked side by side. His friend smiled at him, as they walked, her grin was contagious and he grinned back. She always had a way of making him grin…

Smile still plastered on his face, Naruto continued forward. He had no clue where the two of them were going, and in all truths it didn't really matter to him.

They finally made it to the front of a building, Naruto had no clue where they were but it didn't really matter. The only thing that mattered was that he was happy.

"Naruto? Are you ready?" His friend asked.

He just smiled in reply and nodded.

In return, she grinned widely and took his hand. The two stepped into the building and then, like every other time, Naruto woke up.

That's how it always happened. Always some descent passive memory, and then, right when he would have learned something about his past, found some form of clarity… it would end.

With a sigh, Naruto opened his eyes. He was surrounded by foliage up in a tree, it had been two days since he had rescued Nayumi and her squad. The group had been able to get medical attention. Now they were all on their way back to Aski.

They were only about an hours run, away from their destination, but those that had suffered injuries needed rest. Naruto glanced around at the group, all of them were asleep except for one, Nayumi sat awake and on guard a few meters away. Naruto found her eyes drifting over to him as he began to move, she gave him a small nod to tell him that it was safe and that no one had found them.

Naruto himself nodded in reply and glanced up at the sky. It was early morning, the sun was just about to peak over the horizon, and the birds were already starting to make noise.

A cool wind blew through the trees making the whole forest come to life with movement, Naruto found himself centering as he sat there. With his mask hiding his face, he slipped into sage mode, extending his sense all around him searching for any possible threats. Finding none he allowed himself to fully relax. While Naruto had dedicated all of his time and energy into training to become stronger, he knew he still had a lot to learn, and after getting jumped more then a few times when he lowered his guard, he was learning to be cautious even when in safe territory, and in the presence of allies.

With perfect silence Naruto moved to Nayumi's side, squatting next to her on the tree branch.

"We're almost home. Do you think we were followed?" Nayumi inquired her voice barely above a whisper. She only spoke as the wind began to pick up so that it masked the sound of her voice. The two were highly skilled and talented ninja after all, and even though they were in their own territory, they had just survived an attack by Anbu level opponents, that was the kind of adversary that instilled a lasting bit of paranoia in you, even if they were easily dispatched due to their inability to counter Naruto's speed, or his teamwork with Nayumi.

"I'm not sure. I have a bad feeling about something. I can't say what. I only ever get this feeling when a fight's about to break out, which has me unnerved. Something seems so off about the forest today. It's shifting, almost as if it were alive, and I feel like I'm being watched." Naruto whispered. It made him nervous since he hadn't felt anyone nearby with his sage mode, yet he couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.

After a few moments Naruto's eyes drifted to the sky. It was pitch black, no moon out tonight, just stars, and only a hint of light to illuminate it all from beyond the horizon.

He didn't see anything. No birds flying high that could be spies. No Bat's fluttering about, watching their every move. Not even a camera tied to a balloon transmitting pictures. (*1)

That meant that there were only two other options. The team of ninja that had ambushed Nayumi's squad had most likely been Anbu ROOT. Meaning Konoha ninja. There were two clans that could spy on a person without being very close to them. The Hyuuga with their Byakugan, which could be used to spy on someone kilometers away. Which means they could be outside of his sensory range with his Sage mode.

In Sage mode, Naruto could sense Chakra that was nearby within about a hundred meters, or if he knew what he was looking for, he could track chakra from a vast distance away with it. Like if he wanted to find someone he knew he could feel out their chakra with sage mode, even if that person were several kilometers away at the time.

The other possibility was the Aburame clan and their insects. The bugs fed on chakra, so they wouldn't have any chakra in them that would identify as their masters. Or the amount would be so minute that that only someone with the ability to actually see chakra would be able to tell the difference between an Aburame insect and the chakra of a regular bug. The only real difference was the amount. Normal bugs had microscopic amounts. Aburame bugs had a bit more.

"Hinata Hyuuga. Neji Hyuuga. And Shino Aburame. All three of those people would probably know your chakra very well. If it's any of them, they will probably recognize you." Kurama noted.

Naruto let out a loud sigh at that. It was hidden by the wind, so Nayumi didn't notice.

"Nayumi… wake the other's and make for Aski. It isn't far." Naruto ordered after a moment.

"What?" Nayumi asked, not sure she had heard him right.

"I can't shake the feeling I'm being watched by someone. If those men really were Anbu ROOT, that meant they hail from the Leaf. The Leaf often sends large groups of ninja on assignment and often has back-up teams sent to provide support. Chances are good we're being tracked by a group with a Hyuuga or an Aburame in it. They're keeping a good distance and will more then likely break off and head home once we make it to Aski." Naruto explained, using his own knowledge and what he knew of Leaf shinobi operations from his parent's memories.

"Then why are you asking me to leave? They more then likely already know who we are, once they see where we're headed they'll return to Konoha and report the failure of the mission. What makes you think they'll approach you if you stay behind?" Nayumi inquired, having pieced together his motives for asking them to leave.

"I was trained in Konoha. I left when I was thirteen." Naruto replied.

"Yo-You're a rogue?" Nayumi asked, slightly surprised. I mean it didn't take a genius to guess that the Kitsune was probably from a ninja village. She just never thought he would openly admit it.

"Yeah. I was just some rookie snot-nosed Genin. But the hidden villages still have policies when it comes to guys like me. And I was kinda a celebrity back in the Leaf. If you leave, they'll probably try to confront me. Then… I can take them out." Naruto replied, at first he sounded a bit jovial when he referenced how he was just a Genin, but when he finished, Nayumi could tell he was dead serious.

"Fine. You stay alive though. I want that rematch." Nayumi warned as she rose to her feet and moved to wake her teammates.

"No problem Yumi. When I win the next match you have to let me feel your bum." Naruto replied, causing Nayumi to stumble over her own legs when she heard him. She shot a glare back at him, her cheeks red with a light tinge, she found that he had pulled his mask aside and was grinning at her.

She glared at his shit eating grin for a few moments before grinning as well. She knew he was just trying to get a rise out of her. It's how he got his kicks. Finally she just smirked and made it very obvious, by the way she swayed her hips as she walked, about what she thought of his challenge.

"Right, well if I win, you have to tell me your name." Nayumi shot back at him. Naruto simply let out a laugh as he replaced his mask.

"Tell you what… when I make it back, we can plan out our next rematch." Naruto stated.

"And what if you don't make it back?" Nayumi found herself asking as he turned away.

"If I don't make it back..." Naruto began after a moment of silence. "If I don't make it back… get your dad… to come find me."

Nayumi felt her jaw fall open at that.

"What?" Nayumi asked with a dumbfounded look. She had expected him to say something stupidly heroic or boast.

"I don't wanna be the Leaf's bitch boy again. If I don't make it to Aski in two hours time, get your old man to arrange a search party for me. And come rescue my ass." Naruto replied.

Nayumi couldn't help the chuckle that escaped from her mouth. That answer was so like him. She just nodded and in a burst of speed he was gone.

-Ten minutes later-

"I know it was him." Shino Aburame declared.

"How can you be so sure Shino?" Ino Yamanaka inquired.

"My beetles have his chakra memorized. It's him. And the nine tails chakra he possesses furthers my belief." Shino explained.

Nearby, Shikamaru Nara found himself thinking about the situation deeply. They had finally found Naruto. After over five years, he had finally been located.

A few meters away from Shikamaru was Tenten. She was excited to hear that Naruto had finally been found. That meant they could finally bring him back and Lee could stop working himself half to death so that he could impress his rival upon his return.

The last member of the five men tracking cell was Kakashi Hatake, whom was going through multiple emotions. He was excited by the prospect of finally seeing Naruto again, but he was also concerned. Naruto was traveling with a group of Kumo ninja. Did that mean he was working for them now?

Kakashi was also aware that Naruto had probably helped the Kumo ninja kill that team of ROOT members. Those ROOT shinobi had been sent on this mission at Danzo's suggestion, they were completely expendable and chances were good that they would die anyway, and on top of that, the Hokage had asked Kakashi and his squad to eliminate the ROOT shinobi after they had finished their mission. Danzo was unaware that Tsunade had sent Kakashi and his fellows for this purpose. She was fine with having Danzo's men throw their lives away, but she wouldn't let them gain anything of use from their attack. Kakashi would finish off what was left of them after they were tired and finish the mission in secret.

Tsunade had no qualms with allowing Danzo to send his own men on dangerous mission where they might all be killed, but she refused to allow him to benefit from them. So in this case, when he offered to have his 'Ex-Root' deal with the mission, she agreed, and then sent Kakashi and his squad to kill any survivors and finish the mission on their own. Leaving Danzo without some of his men, and Tsunade would still get the mission completed without putting her own men in danger.

The mission itself was to capture the Kumo ninja and hand them over to a group of rebel ninja in the Land of Lightning to be used as hostages against Kumogakure. It was the Leaf's way of waging a secret war with Kumo, using the small bands of rebels and bandits to thin their numbers and keep Kumogakure was having the fighting force to begin launching attacks of their own in the Land of Fire. A preemptive strike as it were.

Almost like clockwork, every twenty years or so a new Shinobi world war would start, and this next one was about due, so Konoha was getting the first lick in this time. In all three of the last wars they had been on the receiving end of the opening volley, but not this time. Tsunade wasn't going to fight a back-pedaling war, she'd ensure that when that day came, and war broke out again, Konoha would be in a position to hold it's own without needing a miracle like Minato, or the Sannin. Like in the third or second world wars respectively.

War was on everyone's mind. All five of the great nations were slowly gearing up for it. It was about that time and people were wondering what would become the powder keg and what would be the match to ignite it?

Of course…. That was all a moot point, as the ROOT ninja had failed in their mission. And now, Kakashi was left to complete it with his team.

"What should we do Captain?" Tenten inquired, referring to Kakashi.

"Well… Lady Tsunade's orders are to capture him on sight. And that is a class S order. So that outranks all of our other duties. She'd string us up by our toenails if she knew we were this close and didn't try to grab him." Kakashi replied earning nod of understanding or agreement from his fellows.

"Well… we need to get him away from that Kumo team. If he's working with them, chances are they'll fight alongside him, and that gives them a one man advantage." Shikamaru noted.

"We wont have too. My bugs just informed me that he broke off from the squad and if heading east. I believe he has finished with his escort and is returning to his home." Shino informed them.

"Well then… let's go see out friend." Kakashi stated with a smile. In a burst of speed all five of them vanished into the forest, eager to finally confront their old comrade.

-Ten minutes Later-

"You ready for this?" Kurama inquired.

"Yeah." Naruto replied aloud. He sat in the middle of the forest, surrounded by trees. He was currently in sage mode tracking the five Leaf ninja now that they were close by. They were moving towards him slowly now, probably walking. He wondered if they would be foolish enough to just approach him without some sort of fight plan, and even then, he wondered if they would underestimate him or not.

In preparation for a fight Naruto had sent two clones off into the forest where they sat and gathered nature energy. When he first started training with sage mode, he could only make five clones, when he was using them to gather nature energy. Any more then that and his concentration would break and they would pop. After a shit load of ball busting work he was able to raise that number to seven. Not a whole lot but it showed that his ability to remain focused had improved vastly over the years.

"All five of them are powerful. Most likely they are all Jonin. Five on one, isn't so favorable. You need to be ready." Kurama warned. Naruto nodded in agreement, he could tell from his senses who these five were. Shino with chakra absorbing bugs. Ino with her clan jutsu. Tenten with weapons. Shikamaru with his clan jutsu and brains, and worst of all was Kakashi, who knew over a thousand jutsu and had the Sharingan. Naruto knew he had to be very careful.

A few moments passed and Naruto felt Shino appear in the trees behind him. While at the same time he left a clone in his place with the group of five. Probably a bug clone. Kakashi had also created a set of two shadow clones which were hiding behind the trees on either side of him.

Right about then the group of five emerged from the forest.

"Took you long enough." Naruto muttered as he rose to his feet.

"Naruto? Is that really you?" Ino found herself asking.

"You already know the answer to that sugar tits." Naruto replied earning a surprised look from Ino.

"What did you call me!?" Ino shouted, angered by his blatant disrespect. She was quickly shushed by Kakashi whom stood at the front of the group.

"Sugar tits. What's up spiky?" Naruto answered before addressing Kakashi.

"Hello Naruto. It's been a long time. I like your mask." Kakashi stated offering an eye smile.

"Thanks. It cost me a pretty ryo at a stand in town. I see time has been good to all of you… especially the ladies. Nice." Naruto replied giving Ino and Tenten a once over. Ino looked disgruntled at being turned into an object while Tenten merely made a face.

"You've turned into quite the flirt Naruto. Seems Master Jiraiya's lessons clung to you after all." Kakashi stated with a chuckle.

"Oh… that was a low blow. He just compared you to the self proclaimed super pervert." Kurama muttered.

"Damn… and the first point goes to team jackass. That was a nice burn. Gonna take at least a week before I recover from that." Naruto snarked in reply, earning another chuckle from Kakashi.

"Well… as much as I'd love to keep up the banter Naruto. We need to move on to business." Kakashi stated after a moment of silence. While they were talking, Shikamaru had begun to stretch his shadow through the forest using the shadows of the tree to ease it's movements. He was getting it into position behind Naruto before he would stretch it out and catch him from his blind spot.

"I agree." Naruto stated, his voice conveying a seriousness that those present had never heard from him before.

"Why did you leave Naruto?" Kakashi asked as he made a motion with his hand, and Ino, and Tenten fanned out and stood on either side of Kakashi.

"Weather was too muggy. Didn't like the draft in my room at night. So I moved somewhere else." Naruto replied.

"You ran away from the village Naruto. Don't you know how worried your friends have been?" Kakashi inquired.

"Friends? What friends? You mean the group of jackasses that always called me names, and never once stood up for me? Do you mean the old pervert, my godfather, who spent all of my life off peeping and spying for the village and never once gave me the time of day. Perhaps you're talking about my so called teammates, one that hit me every chance she got when I was only ever nice to her, or perhaps you mean the Uchiha. The piece of shit who tried to betray the Leaf and before I stopped him, he proved just how much our friendship meant when he shoved a lightning covered fist through my chest. Or perhaps you mean yourself. The king of the hypocrites. 'Those who abandon the mission are trash but those who abandon their friends are worse then trash.' In six months time you talk me how to tree walk. That's it. I learned fuck all else. Hell during the Chuunin exams you left me in the care of Ebisu. Ebisu! That man hated me. Fucken dumbass." Naruto fired at them, Kakashi was obviously affected by his words as his eyes fell to the ground. The others shifted nervously, all except Shikamaru and Shino's clone who had their eyes locked on Naruto.

"Naruto…. I…." Kakashi began but he was cut off by Naruto.

"Sakumo, Obito, Rin, and my father would be ashamed of the man you've become." Naruto muttered darkly.

Kakashi visibly recoiled as if he had been struck, and in that instant Naruto saw his opening. As was his style, Naruto would do whatever it took to get under his opponents skin, and he was well aware that his chances of winning were low if he didn't take some of them out quickly.

So, faster then lightning, Naruto whipped a kunai at Kakashi's face. He then spun and fired four kunai at nearby trees. Three of them were aimed at where the clones and Shino had been hiding and the fourth flew off into the forest as his escape measure.

Both the one he threw into the forest and the one he threw at Kakashi were inscribed with the Hirashin formula.

Kakashi had quite literally been gut punched by Naruto's words, so much so that when faced with a kunai coming right towards his face he could only lean side ways to avoid it, and that was just barely.

Right as it passed Kakashi's head Naruto began to draw his sword. He had already coated it, in a paralyzing agent, now he just needed a target. Kakashi was tempting as he was obviously the most experienced fighter, but Naruto found himself focusing on Shikamaru. He knew the Nara would be the one to come up with a plan to beat him, so he waited a few extra seconds as Shikamaru side stepped Naruto's kunai from his position behind Kakashi.

Naruto waited until the kunai was passing directly in front of Shikamaru before he activated the bomb tags on his kunai, destroying the Leaf ninja's clones and probably damaging Shino, at the very least he threw him off balance. He then activated the Hiraishin.

Kakashi found his jaw slamming into the ground as he saw Naruto vanish in an instant. The movement was impossibly fast. That could only mean…

In that instant a cry was heard and Kakashi and the others spun around. They found Shikamaru stumbling back against a tree, clutching his stomach. It took only a moment before Kakashi saw blood gushing out from the wound. There, crouched in front of Shikamaru, was Naruto, his sword unsheathed and one hand, on the kunai, which Kakashi now knew had been inscribed with the fourth Hokage's legendary technique.

"Shikamaru!" Ino screamed out as she saw the blood flowing from Shikamaru's gut.

"What...?" Shikamaru muttered in disbelief. The Naruto they knew would never attack someone he considered a friend. So then why had he done it? It didn't make sense.

"Don't take it personal Shikamaru. You're the biggest threat in the group. Strategist first. Then the medic." Naruto stated, at that moment he whipped his kunai at Ino guessing she was the groups medic.

Ino saw the kunai fly towards her and moved to avoid it. Luckily it was deflected by one, thrown by Kakashi who was busy uncovering his Sharingan.

Even as Naruto's kunai flew off it's mark and spun high above Ino, Naruto still flashed to it, disappearing so quickly not even Kakashi's Sharingan could follow. He knew where Naruto would be though and spun towards where Naruto's kunai had been deflected.

He found Naruto there, already throwing the Hiraishin kunai down at Ino again. This time, Ino's position blocked Kakashi from deflecting it, and none of his team had caught on to Naruto's jutsu yet. They had no experience with the Hiraishin.

"Ino!" Kakashi started to shout, he only managed to get out the first syllable as she turned to the kunai heading right for her.

She spun in such a way that the blade found rest right in her shoulder. Ino let out a cry of pain and spun back, the kunai now in the front of her right shoulder.

With a third flash Naruto appeared at the kunai, giving it a sharp twist, Ino let out a scream of pain and fell to her knees, while Naruto lashed out with his sword aiming to take Kakashi's head off.

By now, the Copy cat ninja had his Sharingan revealed and was able to block the strike.

With a twist of his body, Naruto kicked Ino towards where Shikamaru lay. He then then spun and sent his kunai at Tenten whom had summoned a katana of her own, which had a chain attached to the hilt.

As the kunai raced towards her, Naruto brought his Katana up for a downward slash, it looked to be aimed at Kakashi, but Kakashi knew better. This was one of Minato's moves, almost verbatim. Throw one of his Hiraishin kunai and begin an attack, then finish it on the person facing the oncoming kunai instead of the one Minato was facing at that moment. It was a way to catch them off guard, and it had felled countless ninja. So instead of blocking Naruto's sword strike, Kakashi fired a kunai at him and started to shout at Tenten.

"Block High!" He screamed right as Naruto vanished in a flash.

Tenten had learned long ago to trust guys like Kakashi, even over her own instincts. So she whipped her chain forward to deflect the kunai and brought her sword up in a defensive position. In that instant, Naruto appeared, her chain impacted against his chest but did nothing to slow him, and he was already in the midst of a downward slash.

A loud, resonating clang was heard as their blades slammed into each other.

Both brought their blades down, but remained in a deadlock. Naruto had his sword in one hand and his kunai in the other, he took the opportunity to fire it at Kakashi and then charged up a Rasengan in the now free hand.

Tenten's eyes widened as the spiraling sphere came rushing towards her, she quickly pushed off from her blade lock with Naruto and dashed back, putting some distance between her and him.

Right about then, Naruto began to notice a drain on his chakra. He felt it slowly seeping away, it took him only a few moments to realize that it must have been Shino's insects.

"Kurama." Naruto thought.

"Right." The Fox thought back. The two hadn't yet bound their chakra together, but that didn't mean Naruto didn't know how to control a great deal of it. The Fox's demonic Chakra was poisonous to living things so the moment Naruto began to channel the Fox's Youki through his body, was the moment Shino's insects started to drop dead.

"He's drawing upon the Fox's chakra!" Kakashi shouted to his fellows. He could see the blood red chakra flowing through Naruto's body. This caused Kakashi to curse internally, Naruto was so much stronger then he had been five years ago. He was stronger, and smarter too. He had taken out their strategist in his opening attack. He had then crippled their medic. Ino was now focused on healing Shikamaru, meaning the two of them were out of this fight for now. He had just rendered most of Shino's abilities useless by using the Fox's chakra to kill off any of Shino's insects that got close, that left only Kakashi and Tenten to really fight him, and he had his Father's signature jutsu.

"It's over Kakashi. Take your team and fall back. Otherwise, I'll be forced to kill you." Naruto warned as he fell into a battle stance, one reminiscent of a samurai.

Kakashi was quiet for a moment as he gauged the situation. Naruto was between him and Tenten, but he had a Hiraishin Kunai laying in the grass no more then six feet from Kakashi, meaning he could shift position in an instant. He had already taken out two of them and had rendered one of them worthless in this fight as long as he allowed some of the Fox's chakra to flow through him. This wasn't looking good for them.

"Naruto…. What happened to you?" Kakashi asked after a moment.

"I opened my eyes. You beat a dog long enough and it becomes complaisant. Like that's the only way to live. But… if you show it a better life, then try to beat it again, it wont be so complaisant. It'll bite back. I will never return to Konoha of my own free will. If it weren't for the past we share and the fact that on some level you did care for me, I would kill you all right now. But as it stands, killing you would only send more enemies my way." Naruto replied, his voice cold and a dim red glow emanated from beneath his mask.

The blood red glow of Harikēn also did little to hide his anger or the feeling of malevolence they were getting right now.

"You know we'll tell Lady Tsunade. She'll send us back… you know she will." Kakashi informed his old student.

"I'm aware. I have nothing against the old lady. Unlike others, she never did me any wrong. You tell her that if she sends you back here, I'll just end up hurting you. And if she sends others… people I have a more complicated past with… I'll kill them..." Naruto warned.

It didn't take Kakashi more then a moment to know who Naruto was referencing too. If he saw Sakura or Sasuke he would kill them. Whatever had happened in the last five years, it had left Naruto a different man. He wouldn't take the abuse anymore. He wouldn't just laugh off the pain.

"I understand, Naruto." Kakashi stated as he made a motion telling Tenten and Shino to stand down.

"Captain..." Tenten tried to argue.

"It's no use Tenten. He could have killed any of us in a moment. Naruto could have offed me right at the start. It wouldn't have been difficult to take down Shikamaru after that. If he wanted to kill us, we'd be dead. He could have finished Shikamaru and Ino off at any moment, both of them are injured and can't fight back. He's giving us the chance to walk away. I wont allow my comrades to die, for no reason. With his Father's jutsu, I know I can't beat him in a one on one fight. Add in the Fox's chakra and the fact that we are behind enemy lines… this is a fight we cannot win. Let's fall back." Kakashi ordered. Tenten didn't look happy about it but nodded. Shino was silent as he appeared by Ino and Shikamaru. By now, Ino had closed the wound on Shikamaru's stomach, but he was still paralyzed.

"Sorry for the cut Shikamaru. But… you are the biggest threat." Naruto called out as he tapped the side of his head. Shikamaru's response was to give him a glare but behind it, was something else. Shikamaru was never someone who let his emotions compromise his decisions. He was well aware Naruto could have killed him in that opening strike. He was also aware that he could have killed Ino when he closed in on her, but he didn't Naruto only crippled them. It showed a mental growth that Shikamaru would have never expected from Naruto. And while it sucked to be on the receiving end of it, the Nara could admit… it was a well thought out plan.

"Oh… and Kakashi..." Naruto called out to the man as the Leaf ninja regrouped.

"Hm?" Kakashi answered giving him a look.

"I lied before. While you suck major Donkey nuts as a sensei, my old man and yours would be proud of you." Naruto stated. Then in a burst of speed he was at his Hiraishin kunai then with another burst he was gone.

Kakashi stood in silence for several moments before a smile appeared on his face. "Hm… still the number one unpredictable, hyperactive, knucklehead ninja. Eh, Naruto?"

It only took Kakashi a moment to realize why he had said those things at the opening of the fight. It was to throw him off. The speech at the beginning had been to keep Kakashi off balance. Those words at the end though had come from the heart. That was the Naruto they knew. His words had carried compassion, showing that he was still the kind young man he had always been.

"Let's go guys. We need to get out of here before Kumo nin come to investigate." Kakashi ordered. And with that, the team vanished.

"It was wise to let them go. If you had killed them, the Leaf would have reined unholy hell down on your head." Kurama stated as Naruto headed towards Aski. Both were well aware that surprise had been a major asset in that fight. They obviously weren't dumb enough to think that Naruto hadn't grown in five years, but they were completely unprepared for him to have access to the Hiraishin. Probably the only person who had any clue how to counter the technique was Jiraiya, and that was only a 'probably'. There was a reason Minato was so feared.

"I know. I had no real reason to kill them. While they may not have been my true friends… at the very least we were comrades. I don't hate them. I hate what they represent. I hate the Leaf. Like I told them, if it weren't for the fact that we were comrades once upon a time, I would have ended them. But… then again… maybe not." Naruto thought back.

"You're grown Naruto. While I would take great pleasure in watching you slaughter every person in the Leaf, you are not me. You aren't a monster, that can just kill his emotions. At your base, you are a good person. Not as naive as you once were, which is why I can tolerate your kind heart." Kurama replied.

"Hey admit it, you enjoy not being evil all the time." Naruto teased.

"It has it's moments." Kurama thought back as he settled down to sleep.

It was about twenty minutes of running later, when Naruto ran into Nayumi. Whom seemed to be heading back for him.

"Hiya!" Naruto greeted as the two ran into each other.

"So… looks like you didn't need that search party after all." Nayumi stated as she gave him a once over. She took note of the fact that he didn't seem to be hurt at all.

"Nope. I was too fast for them." Naruto replied as he removed his mask.

"Are they dead?" Nayumi inquired.

"No. I wasn't about to get put in the bingo book as a criminal on top of being a missing nin." Naruto replied as he walked along side her towards Aski.

"Who were they?" Nayumi inquired.

"Some people I knew once upon a time. They wont be coming back if they know what's good for them." Naruto answered. Though he didn't sound so sure of his own words.

Nayumi picked up on that and let out a sigh. "Well, at least you're alright."

"Thanks for coming back for me Yumi." Naruto offered with a smile.

"Don't call me that." Nayumi replied as she playfully punched him in the shoulder.

There was the contrast that made Naruto more aware of the changes in his life. Where Nayumi would only playfully hit him for calling her a name she didn't enjoy, and even play along with some of his lewd jokes, Sakura would have hit him hard, for both instances. It showed the difference between his new and old lives. Sakura was just a bitch that he had the misfortune of being on the same team with. Nayumi was a friend. A much better one then Sakura could have ever been. Hell Naruto had actually peeped on Nayumi once when he was younger, and while she may have brought it up once or twice she seemed to have let the matter go, as a stupid kid being stupid. Sakura would have beaten him to near death and then never let him forget it. That was the difference between the two woman. One was a cunt the other was a descent human being. Not to say that peeping on girls is alright, but in the end we were all kids at one point, and when you're a kid you get to be stupid. Nayumi was mature enough to realize that, so she just teased him about it.

These differences really made Naruto think about the how his life had been then and how his life was now. Things were so different now. He was different. Happier.

"Nayumi… you're a good friend." Naruto stated as they walked.

"Where did that come from?" Nayumi inquired.

"I just… I don't think I've ever told you that." Naruto replied as he gave her a look.

"Hm… thanks Fox. That means a lot to hear you say that." Nayumi admitted with a smile.

The two smiled at each other and continued onwards.

It was a few hours later, that Naruto stood before Daso Hiyoto and informed him of what happened and his theory about the ROOT ninja.

"ROOT huh? That would mean Danzo." Daso huffed as Naruto finished his explanation.

"I'm surprised you know who Danzo is. The old bastard loves to hide in the shadows." Naruto replied.

"The Leaf likes to think that so many of it's great secrets are in fact secret. But people like Danzo are well known to the world. Everyone's heard of the Leaf's top secret attack dog. And they've heard rumors of the soulless shadow organization ROOT. And on top of all of that, Onoki would never attack my family. Whatever grievances he may have with Kumo, our families have at worst been friends for centuries. Hell I even made it very clear with the previous Raikage and the current one that while I would fight Iwa if it ever came to war, I wouldn't fight Onoki. Our families have been to close for too long for me to throw away such bonds over the nothing, these past few wars have been fought over." Daso replied.

"So… there is little chance that those Iwa ninja were legit Iwa nin?" Naruto stated.

"Yep. I think you're theory is correct. Those were most likely ROOT ninja. The Leaf ninja that followed you, confirm it, in my mind." Daso agreed.

"Yeah. I'm sorry about that. They would have probably just gone home, if it hadn't been for me. I apologize for bringing a fight to your doorstep." Naruto stated after a moment, letting out a sigh as he finished.

"Hey… don't worry about it. You helped protect my precious little girl. So what if you had to trounce a few Leaf dog's at my borders? What matters is that she is safe, and so are you." Daso replied with a smile.

"Sadly, they will probably return soon. I think my time here in Aski is coming to a close." Naruto muttered as he glanced out of Daso's office window.

"You're leaving?" Nayumi asked in surprise. She had been standing by, silently listening to Naruto give his report, only speaking to offer her own input. She felt a pang of sadness shoot through her when she had heard him say that. Nayumi didn't have many friends… or any really. The Kitsune was one of the few people she considered a friend. He was someone she liked… and he was always kind and friendly with her. It had never crossed her mind that he would one day leave.

Her affection for him, was something she wouldn't admit to anyone. Nayumi was someone whom admired strength. Not just physically, but in all forms. Strength in heart, strength in ideals, and most importantly, strength in character. The kitsune was all those things. He was kind and caring, she had seen him helping people all over Aski and while he often worked for money, on most occasions he never asked for much. He was one of the strongest fighters she knew and yet, he chose to live simply. He could have been anything with his power and smarts, but he chose to live the life of a mercenary. Helping the innocent and striking down evil. She admired him greatly. And may have even had a minor crush on him. It saddened her to think that he could be leaving, when she was just now starting to open up to him.

"I'm sorry Yumi… but I don't know what else to say. If I stay, the leaf will send shinobi after me. I put you all in danger by remaining. And it wont take long before Danzo catches wind of this and sends his ROOT. And you saw how brutal they can be. I don't wanna put any of you in danger. I'm sorry." Naruto replied.

"Fox… we can look after ourselves. The Hiyoto family has lived here for nearly six centuries, and ruled for half as long. We've weathered against greater foes then snakes like Danzo. And don't forget, this was where the Third Great Ninja War ended, the final battle were fought here, we know how to protect ourselves. You don't need to leave. We want you here." Nayumi told him. In the background, Daso offered his daughter a smile and nodded in agreement.

"She's right Fox. We Hiyoto have weathered worse then Danzo and the Leaf. In fact, I'll take it as a personal insult if you leave now. Besides, who else am I gonna get to do my dirty work for so cheap?" Daso stated finishing with a booming laugh.

Naruto, for his part offered the two a grateful smile. He truly didn't want to leave, and hearing the two practically demand that he stay, warmed Naruto's heart in ways that it never had before.

"Thanks you guys." Naruto stated, a smile still present on his face.

The two simply smiled in reply. It took a few moments before Naruto locked eyes with Nayumi. He stared at her for a moment before speaking.

"Naruto." He said as he stared at her.

"What?' Nayumi inquired, confused by the statement.

"You wanted to know my name if you won our next fight. It's Naruto. We've been friends for so long yet you've never pried. I want to thank you for being my friend Yumi." Naruto stated.

"Naruto huh? Maelstrom…. It fits." Nayumi stated with a smirk. Naruto smiled back, while Daso watched the two with a smirk of his own.

"Naruto… there are things we should speak about. The Leaf is beginning to move, and the Raikage will not be happy to hear about this blatant attack on his Shinobi. And he certainly wont like to hear about Leaf ninja in the Land of Lightning. Naruto… your place in the world is about to see a whole lot of action. A simple mercenary like yourself wont find the world so inviting when things start to heat up." Daso began.

"So what are you suggesting?" Naruto inquired.

"I want to offer you a job. A more permanent one then usual." Daso informed him.

"What kind of job are we referring to?" Naruto inquired.

"I want you to become Nayumi's personal guard." Daso replied.

"Father, I don't need a bodyguard. I can take care of myself." Nayumi immediately argued.

"I know you can protect yourself My girl. But you have to think above yourself. Think about the province and the people. If something were to happen to you, I can't imagine the chaos that would occur. You need to be protected. You have a very important job. I asked Naruto to be your guard because you're friends. Because he respects you, and wont treat you like a child, and because he's proven that he can look our for you already. This isn't up for discussion. So what do you say Naruto?" Daso asked as he locked eyes with the young warrior.

"Hmm… steady pay. A warm bed at night. And I get to spend my time in good company? Sure… I'll take the gig. It's better then sleeping in the woods or on a lice infested cot in some inn." Naruto replied with a smile and shrug.

Nayumi made a face but turned and headed out of the office. Daso gave Naruto a look to which Naruto simply smiled and turned to follow after her.

"You know this changes nothing right? I still expect you to give it your all when we have our rematch." Nayumi stated as he caught up to her.

"Of course… my lady." Naruto replied. His words caused Nayumi to stop and shoot him a look. He had never once called her my lady, so hearing him say it was just so odd.

"You may be my bodyguard, but I don't intend for us to stop being friends. You don't need to call me that." Nayumi informed him as they continued to look.

"Oh I know. I was just using it to distract you so I could ogle your rear." Naruto replied. This caused an irritated smirk to appear on Nayumi's face, and she shot him a warning look only to find him smirking at her.

"Well… look all you want, but you need to beat me in our next fight if you wanna feel." Nayumi fired back after a moment.

"Oh… now there's an enticing thought. I can't wait." Naruto stated with a perverse giggle. Causing Nayumi to blush and playfully punch him again.

"You're cute when you blush Yumi." Naruto commented as he turned and headed off towards one of the courtyards. If he had looked back, he would have noticed the light red tinge on the young lady's face.

She watched him wander off for several moments before a smirk appeared on her face. She enjoyed how open he was around her. Some may call it lack of respect for her station, but she simply enjoyed that he said what was on his mind. She didn't like the idea of having a babysitter, but she wouldn't deny that the idea of being able to spend more time with Naruto wasn't an interesting thought. After all, she was still curious about him, and little by little she was unraveling the mystery.

-Elsewhere a few hours later-

"What in the fuck happened to you!?" Tsunade Senju shouted as she stared down one of her top strategists.

Shikamaru stood next to the rest of his squad, all of his clothes below the waist were dyed red from the blood stains. Ino had managed to fully heal him and the paralyzing agent had mostly worn off, so he was able to move again. Ino's arm was also healed as well, but there was now a nasty scar, which she spent most of their trip home complaining about.

"I uh… may have suffered a bit of an injury." Shikamaru replied, looking tired and meek.

"Injury? It looks to me like you were disemboweled. Kakashi… what the fuck happened?" Tsunade snapped in reply.

"Naruto happened, ma'am." Kakashi answered.

"What? Naruto?" Tsunade stuttered out, surprise adorning her features.

"Yes ma'am. Our mission was a failure. The team of Kumo ninja survived and with the help of Naruto, managed to kill of the ROOT ninja. We followed them as they returned home in the hopes of gathering some intel and maybe completing the mission. However, Shino soon identified Naruto and we moved to intercept him." Kakashi explained.

"And… what happened?" Tsunade pressed not giving a single fuck about the mission or the ROOT ninja.

"Well… he told us in no uncertain terms that he was through with the Leaf's treatment of him, and that he wasn't going to take anyone's shit anymore. He then proceeded to utilize the fourth Hokage's signature jutsu to beat the living shit out of us. He took down Shikamaru first, then Ino, then he rendered Shino's insects useless with the Fox's Youki. That left me and Tenten. With the Fourth's jutsu at his disposal neither one of us would have lasted long. I'm good, but even I don't know how to counter that technique." Kakashi explained earning nods of agreement from his team.

"Naruto did this too you? And he has access to Minato's Hiraishin!" Tsunade bellowed in complete shock.

"Yes ma'am." Was Kakashi's reply.

Tsunade was silent for several moments as she stared down the team of five. Finally she took a deep breath ran a hand over her face and adopted a very pointed stare.

"Start from the beginning. Do not leave a single thing out. Tell me everything." Tsunade ordered, and with that, the team set in for several long hours of explanations. By the end of it, a plan would be set in motion and once again, our hero would find himself in the cross-hairs.

-To be continued-

*1: Look at the list of Naruto tech, they did have Camera's and stuff like that so I only assume the ninja would develop tech like that for spying.

Alright there you go. Let me know what you think and sorry it took so long. I hope you like this new direction. I wanted to show Naruto and Nayumi getting to know each other more. Show them spending time with each other. Yes there's a bit of affection in there, but they're teenagers it's to be expected. I wanted to show them teasing one another and making jokes, just all round enjoying each other's company. Plus the bodyguard angle allows me to have them together without them having to get married just yet. So I hope you enjoy. And yes… things will begin to pick up with the nations. They are tense and preparing for war with each other. Why…? Who knows.

Also, I hope people enjoyed the battle I wrote. I hope it didn't seem to impossible for Naruto to be able to win that. I wanted to show that he has grown a lot, and that with his father's ability he can triumph over larger numbers of adversaries. Also please note that he did not show any use of Sage mode or even really use any Ninjutsu, so most of his abilities are still a secret, but he had to get Shikamaru out of the fight quickly or he'd be in deep trouble. Anyway, JA NE!