IMPORTANT INFO: If you are thinking - WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CHAPTERS?! - worry not! They will return. I've decided to switch things around and have a linear time line compared to the one that jumped around before. I'm not deleting anything that I already wrote...it will come back in future chapters. There is also new content in these chapters, so If you are a returning reader you may want to give the first few chapters a look. Sorry about any confusion!~
Chapter 1: In Which Friendships are Made and People Get Bitten to Death
Tsuna had always liked manga.
Especially in his Dame-Tsuna days - before Reborn arrived. He would often skip school and read it, sometimes even hiding in his closet to avoid lectures from his mom. He soon would have taken any of his mom's lectures to escape what Reborn had to dish out concerning the matter.
Many phrases along the lines of 'waste of time' and 'live in the real-world Dame-Tsuna' would come up along with a baby foot to the head. For many of his middle school and high school years this hobby was set aside for his own personal safety.
Once the mantel of Decimo was placed on his shoulders, he clung to the old hobby like a lifeline. When he was a preteen he adhered to the manga to stave off loneliness. As an adult-he pursued it to be alone. He loved his guardians, he truly did, but sometimes they made him want to hide in a closet.
Which he did - hide, that is. In many different closets around the manor. Much like when he was younger but - instead of avoiding a lecture from his mom - he was avoiding one from Reborn.
The irony of the situation was not lost on Tsuna.
The point is, his head was full of stories and plot lines that he hunted in the sanctuary that was his closet. So, when he died at a decent age and found himself reborn in an impossible place, the only thought his tiny infant brain could muster was;
"And Reborn said my hobby was useless."
Itachi Uchiha was ten years old and felt like he had the weight of the entire world on his shoulders.
He knew what he was getting into when he started straining to be a ninja. How could he not? The shadows of the third shinobi war still haunted him in his dreams and he doubted they would ever desist. But that was why he fought - even though he abhorred it. To have the skills to stop the world from ever falling back into the those of war.
Itachi knew this.
Yet, why did he have this horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach? He gripped the edges of his new anbu mask - knuckles turning white. Anbu was a prestigious position, his father was over the moon about it.
Itachi felt only acceptance and nothing else. It was simply another marker on the road to his career as a ninja. It had to be done.
Itachi closed his eyes and listened to Sasuke tumbling around in the front room. His mother and brother had no idea he was home - having come in through his bedroom window. He loved them but had no desire to see the pride in his mothers eyes or the admiration shining in his brothers.
Not today. Not about this. Itachi gave the anbu mask another dark look and stashed it away, jumping out his window and flashing over the roofs, desperate to get away. The village flashed past him as he pushed himself to escape from the pressure of his family.
Eventually he found himself in a less used training ground near the Nara compound. People tended to avoid it because the notoriously lazy Nara's could be easily persuaded to petty revenge toward any ninja stupid enough to make enough noise to wake them from their mid-day naps.
It suited his needs perfectly.
He moved to jump into the clearing but paused - eyes flashing to his right. A tall shadowy figure was reclining against the trunk of the tree next to him - perched on a skinny branch, completely still.
Itachi felt a chill run down his spine. It had been quite awhile since someone had managed to sneak up on him. He narrowed his eyes - this was;
"Hello little Uchiha." The shadow purred. Itachi tensed, then forced himself to relax. He had nothing to truly fear from this man.
"Captain." He nodded toward the shadowy figure. Itachi wondered why he was here - did he perhaps follow him here? Maybe he was keeping tabs on him because he was a new Anbu recruit?
He hoped it wasn't the case - he was feeling sudden embarrassment over his desperate running. Itachi's questions were soon answered when a child - around the age of his little brother - came stumbling into the training grounds. His captain's black eyes flashed down to the fluffy head of brown of hair and the stilted conversation was dropped. The child looked around the grounds hesitantly for a bit, before falling to his knees and examining his hands fiercely.
Why was his captain so interested? Theories fired in Itachi's brain but he eventually let them go. His captain was quite infamous - it wasn't his business, really. The child eventually started running laps around the clearing, quickly becoming tired - face flushing a bright red.
"He's still a dame, isn't he?" The shadow whispered and Itachi twitched. He looked at his captain, surprised. The tone was almost…fond. The man chuckled then turned away fixing the strange hat on his head. Finally, he looked toward Itachi.
"Prepare yourself for training tomorrow, little Uchiha." His Captain smiled viciously and Itachi contained the shiver that was slithering up his spine. He blinked and the man disappeared.
He looked back down at the little boy who was now panting heavily and staring off into the tress, a familiar expression on his face. It was the same face Itachi saw on is own. It spoke of a tiredness beyond his age, yet, also a determination - to do whatever he needed too - even if he didn't want too.
Itachi looked a way and smiled. Perhaps he wasn't as alone as he had originally thought.
Kakashi read through the mission scroll the Hokage gave him quickly.
After he was done he went through standard procedure and disposed of the scroll with a spike of chakra. He then proceeded to stare at the Hokage - offended. His Anbu mask covered most of his displeasure but the Hokage seemed to understand anyway.
"I would have assigned a seal novice to this mission...but I have had multiple reports saying that the child truly is a demon. I'm taking precautions on this one," The Hokage wound his fingers together and stared at Kakashi pointedly - who then bowed his head - cowed.
"Jiraiya isn't here and you're the best at seals in the village. Lesser chakra demons are rare but not unheard of. Seal it away if that's the case but if he is actually just a rambunctious kid, get the parents' permission for ninja training."
The Hokage paused here as if considering something more to add before shaking his head; "Unless you think he his isn't stable enough for ninja training. If that is the case report to me and we will consider a different course of action."
Kakashi bowed his head in understanding and shunsined away when dismissed. He leapt across Konoha's rooftops pondering on what kind of kid inspired such fear from the locals. The silver haired Anbu doubted the kid was actually a demon, the village would have noticed it by now.
The boy lived in one of the smaller towns beyond the gates of Konoha. It was one of the bigger farming settlements, with less than a hundred people living there, but it was close enough for any seasoned Jounin to sense a demonic chakra lashing out.
So basically, he, an Anbu, was doing damage control for an eight-year-old. It was basically babysitting duty - something he hadn't done since he was a genin. Well, unless you counted guard duty for the daimos' wife - the woman was hopeless. Kakashi snorted behind both his masks and passed Konoha's gates, immediately leaping through the trees towards the settlement.
It didn't take him long before he arrived at the "demon boy's" home. When his knocks on the door were answered the boys' mother immediately burst into relieved tears at the sight of him. Kakashi winced.
"Oh, Anbu-san, thank goodness you're here!" the mother wailed, leaving Kakashi's ears ringing. He flinched when the mother grabbed both his hands and held them to her chest like he was a lover - staring up at him with tear lined eyes.
"You'll fix my baby boy, won't you?" the woman whimpered, while Kakashi tried to politely pull his hands away. Regrettably, it was like trying to pull a stubborn tick off one of his nuke-nin pups.
"I'll try my very best." Kakashi spoke through his grit teeth.
The woman finally released him and led him through the small house. Being as polite as his position dictated, Kakashi pushed her to take him to the boy, eager for the mission to be over. They went out the back door into their fenced yard and Kakashi zeroed in on the boy.
He was tall for his age with black hair. Instantly Kakashi noticed the heavy weapons hidden up his long sleeves. Kakashi rolled his eyes and knew what the deal was. The kid probably had natural talent with these weapons and knew it. Probably flaunted it and was scaring the civilians. Typical brute mindset, though, Kakashi re-evaluated as he watched the boy tenderly run a finger across the cheek of a little yellow song bird that was perched in his hand. The bird preened under the attention and the boy smiled.
Over all he looked…non-threatening. Kakashi gave another annoyed sigh and glanced at the mother who leaned in and whispered;
"He's most content when he's handling his bird."
Kakashi was saved a response when she stepped forward and called out; "Kyoya-chan there is an Anbu here to see you."
The boy hardly glanced over before returning to his bird thoughtfully; "Anbu?"
Kakashi blinked in surprise before inwardly shrugging. It wasn't that unbelievable that someone on the outskirts of Konoha didn't know who the Anbu were. Their dealings tended to be discreet most of the time anyway.
His mother opened her mouth to explain but he stepped forward and cut her off giving his own explanation and also hoping to frighten the boy a little; "The Anbu are an elite squad of ninja, handpicked by the Hokage himself. We protect the village in the shadows and are the Hokage's personal guard. The best of the best."
Kakashi knew he was laying it on thick but he was also trying to convince himself this, still lamenting over the fact that he, an Anbu, was basically being paid to babysit. With a tired roll of the eyes Kakashi missed the mother paling and a delighted shiver running down the boys back.
When his eyes rested back down he looked at the boy, who was now looking at him, not in fear as he had hopped, but excitement.
"Elite?" the boy repeated, his pupils dilating so fast that Kakashi's instincts screamed in warning. His shoulders stiffened as the boy stood up and he pulled out two metal tonfa's. Coal black eyes stared at him before he smirked in delight;
"I will bite you to death."
A black blur lunged toward Kakashi and he swiftly dodged. The boys mother started screaming and the spot Kakashi had been was now a miniature earthy crater. Kakashi hardly had time to think before jumping back from another attack. The boy was relentless.
Kakashi continued dodging attacks - the little boy starting to growl at his continued evasion. The boy flung one of his tonfas and it flew over Kakashi's head as he dodged and he heard it fly through a couple walls. Kakashi felt like gaping - the brat wasn't even using chakra!
With a burst of chakra and speed, Kakashi knocked the boy out before the boy could attack again - staring down in horror at the last tonfa that had somehow protruded spikes. If this boy was properly trained...Kakashi shivered.
"My poor baby." The mother sniffled over the unconscious body and Kakashi took a step away. He raised his shaking hands in front of his face and pondered his bodies reaction. His mind was calm, but his body wasn't obeying the feeling. This reaction...it was just like. No.
"This - this, boy," Kakashi whispered in horror, "...is like him."
Kakashi - feared Anbu, son of the White Fang - whimpered.
"Eh-Sorry I'm late Iruka-sensei!" Naruto cried, stumbling into the classroom - dirt smeared on his face and shirt torn. Iruka just rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"Sit down Naruto, we will talk after class."
Naruto pouted but chose a seat next to the new civilian student. Iruka glanced at the pair, nervous. Civilians were always harsher on Naruto then ninjas were - not understanding the consequences. After a few minutes into his lecture he relaxed, the boy didn't seem bothered by Naruto's presence at all. When the lesson was over and children were leaving in a mad rush - Iruka tensed again when Tsunayoshi turned toward Naruto.
"My names Tsunayoshi, what's yours?" Tsuna-chan asked suddenly, sticking out his hand. Iruka slowly wiped the lesson off the chalk board trying to look busy and not like he was blatantly eavesdropping - which he was. He looked out of the corner of his eye and spotted Naruto's insecure expression.
Eventually he stuck out his hand as well; "Naruto Uzumaki." he said softly, expecting. Iruka felt a a sad jolt go through his chest. Tsunayoshi squeezed Naruto's hand and Iruka twitched.
"The contract is complete." Tsunayoshi said seriously, leaning forward while Narutos eyes grew wide. "We are friends now."
Naruto's jaw dropped while Iruka's hand froze on the chalk board. Naruto started spluttering while Tsuna smiled happily.
"Do you want to get dinner I'm hungry." Tsunayoshi walked out of the classroom calmly, Naruto trailing after him after a few more confused seconds. Iruka watched them leave, not even bothering to act like he wasn't watching anymore.
What was that about? Iruka bit his lip and told himself he would keep an eye on the two, just in case.
Naruto walked with a bounce in his step.
He couldn't believe it! Someone wanted to be his friend! Sawada Tsunayoshi, the new boy in class!
It was almost too great to hope for and he was dangerously happy. The hope burned in his chest with a nervousness that would hope it would last. The world looked different and Naruto was weightless and then suddenly, he was brought back down to earth.
"We don't want you here!" A civilian hissed and Naruto flinched back in shock. It had been awhile since anyone had said anything like that to him, mostly since he learned to avoid certain areas of the civilian market. His joy made him forget though and silently he was kicking himself for being so careless.
"I'm sorry" Naruto whispered, chancing a glance up at the man and recoiling at the hate that was there. The man's nostrils were flaring and he shifted to grab something behind his counter. Naruto moved to run when a shadow fell on the two individuals. They both snapped to attention and both saw two very different things.
Naruto saw a dangerous upperclassman. He had never seen the boy before, but what else was he other than a ninja with those thick silver weapons he had? He had no hitai-ate so he must still be in the Academy. But still, he felt strong and dangerous and Naruto looked at him with slight jealousy and slight awe, he was only a few years older than Naruto himself!
The civilian saw…another annoying little brat.
"Get out of here kid!" The man shooed reaching again from behind his counter for his broom. When he pulled it out Naruto cringed. Many of the shopkeepers tended to smack him around with brooms to chase him out of their shops, it was humiliating! Forgetting the older kid, Naruto made to run away again when the black-haired boy spoke making both Naruto and the shopkeeper freeze.
"Herbivores', for disturbing the peace of Konoha, I will bite you to death."
The shopkeeper subtly started to sweat but his ignorance and stupidity knew no bounds;
"Why you little-"
The man never got to finish as the man was, as they say, bitten to death. Naruto stared on, mystified, before his instincts told him to run before he was 'bitten' as well. His instincts didn't need to tell him twice. He ran and didn't stop till he was safe in the Hokage's office babbling about an upperclassman who 'bit' people.
The Hokage just huffed tiredly on his pipe while a silver haired Anbu standing guard in the corner of the office stood stoically while water suspiciously dripped from behind his mask onto the floor. Since the Hokage didn't seem too concerned (the silently weeping Anbu notwithstanding) Naruto concluded that the guy must be on their side and went home forgetting about the scary guy completely and happily thinking about his new friend.
He didn't even think about the strange boy till a week later. Naruto was outside one of the ninja libraries of the village. Their class was given an assignment and it involved going to one of the Konoha ninja libraries and picking out a subject and writing a short essay about it.
Not everyone in the libraries turned him away, but most did, sneering all the way. This was one such time and while Naruto made a habit of avoiding conflict and ignoring the hateful stares, he was more motivated than usual. He wished Tsu-chan was with him, his friend always seemed to know what to do in these situations and he promised his friend he would make more of an effort in school work.
Now he couldn't even go inside the library! But he suddenly remembered that upperclassmen, the one who beat up the shop keeper that was bullying him. The boy was completely scary but…he was also kind of cool too. Naruto wished he could stand up to the shop keepers and other people who bullied him.
Deciding, Naruto puffed out his cheeks and straightened up to be as tall as he could and pointed to the two chunins who refused him entry into the library;
"Let me in! Or I'll… I'll…"
One of them smirked down at him; "Or you'll what?"
"I'll bite you to death!"
"I'll bite you to death."
Naruto and the two chunin froze. His stolen phrase was said along with its originator. Was it just his imagination? Unless…. Naruto slowly turned around and stared at the boy behind him.
The boy was giving him a strange look before his expression chilled and he looked past Naruto to the two ninja in front of the library entrance.
"You're crowding." The boy hissed. The effect was immediate. The two ninjas fell to their knees and went from being unaccommodating jerks to treating the boy like he was a vengeful god.
"We're so sorry, Hibari-sama!"
"Useless herbivores receive no mercy." Hibari-sama intoned stonily before he descended on the two like a rancorous wraith. Naruto watched on-awed-as the boy pummeled the two ninja who once looked so intimidating-but were now going down like complete ninnies.
Eventually the boy, Hibari? turned to Naruto. Gulping in fear, Naruto stared at him waiting for his punishment. None came. Instead Hibari stashed his weapons and looked Naruto up and down.
"The words alone don't make a carnivore, little animal."
Naruto stared, confused. Then his eyes lit in understanding and a big blush bloomed across his face. Much to his surprise the boy patted his head;
"You have hidden fangs, herbivore." The strange boy paused before he flashed out his weapons and held one close to Naruto's throat. So close, that Naruto could feel the cool metal. Naruto gulped in fear as he stared into endless black eyes.
"...but until those fangs sharpen…" The strange boy, Hibari, warned leaving the statement open before jumping onto the roof of the library and disappearing. Naruto was left behind feeling completely poleaxed, the two beat up chunin groaning at his feet.
Did he want him to wait to use his catch phrase till he sharpened his fangs? Or was he just threatening him to not crowd till he grew fangs? Naruto's face was screwed in concentration. Eventually Naruto decided he quite liked the strange violent boy. And he could use the library now! The strange boy got a plus in his books!
"Iruka, please, come in."
The chunin in question opened the door to the Hokage's office and glanced at the old wizened man behind the desk. The Hokage smiled at the academy teacher as the young man went through the proper formalities when addressing the village leader. When he was finished, he sat in front of the desk ready to give his report.
The Hokage listened sincerely as Umino Iruka talked of the academy students he taught. He pointed out concerns he had with certain students, asked for advice on how to tip toe around the families of children from clans, encouraging the children to stop bringing live weapons to class, and general things you'd expect from a school that teaches kids how to kill people.
Towards the end of the meeting the Hokage posed a question that always eventually came up in these monthly meetings and Iruka gave a fond smile for the student this question was always the inspiration for.
"Naruto is doing great! He even made a friend!" Iruka gushed, his professional air slipping a little at his general joy over the statement. The Hokage looked interested and happy with, sadly, a hint of suspicion mixed in as well. Without having to ask for a clarification Iruka went on.
"The new student, the one from the civilian family."
The Hokage raised an eyebrow; "A civilian family? I would have thought a ninja family…"
Iruka shook his head, "From what I have observed, the boy doesn't get along well with his family," his eyes brightened and he suddenly chuckled, remembering something, "...on his first day of class he just sort of, decided they were friends. Naruto almost fell out of his chair in shock. I think his motives in befriending Naruto was to make his family angry, but I doubt its one anymore, I've seen them together and it seems sincere."
After that statement, conversation seemed to halt while Iruka shuffled his papers together and the Hokage puffed on his pipe thoughtfully. Reaching some conclusion, the Hokage put down his pipe and stood up with Iruka and walked with him out the door.
"I think I want to see this budding friendship for myself." The Hokage murmured while Iruka grinned, pleased, before bowing formally and walking the opposite way out the building. Making his way out the building at a leisurely pace, the third Hokage waved away his annoyed secretary and stepped out into the slightly chilly air.
Breathing deeply, he picked up his pace and made his way to the warm and bright chakra he had gotten very familiar with over the years. Many he passed in the streets bowed respectively as he walked and he nodded to each in turn. Eventually he passed many of the shopping districts and entered a residential area. Walking up a small hill he looked down and saw a playground, empty except for the two young boys he was looking for. Tilting his head lightly he reassessed his observation and noticed that Uchiha Sasuke sat a little way off down the hill, alone.
The raven-haired boy sat on a tiny wooden platform over a small pond, his feet dangling over the edge his toes grazing the water. He was staring at his reflection with a blank look and the Hokage stared at him suddenly feeling like the old man he was. Shaking his head, and wishing he still had his pipe to chew on, he shunsined quietly and crouched in a tree that was overlooking Naruto and his friend. Giving one last look at the lone Uchiha, he focused on Naruto deciding to concentrate on one orphaned, troubled youth at a time.
Naruto's friend was…cute. The Hokage had to suppress a chuckle from his hiding space because there was no other word to describe the boy. He had fluffy brown hair and big brown eyes that should have belonged on an innocent woodland creature. After taking quick stock of the scene he had to suppress even more bouts of laughter.
The boy was standing over Naruto in a classic lecture pose and was shaking his finger while Naruto pouted, his lower lip jutting out. Naruto's eyes were glazed over and the Hokage had to wonder if this was a common occurrence.
The Tsu-chan in question crossed his arms firmly; "He's alone, isn't that enough?"
For as hard as Naruto seemed to pretend he wasn't listening, he glanced up and the Hokage could tell how venerable the look was. The blond boy shrugged his shoulders and put forth one last pitiful argument;
"But Saskue's a meany!" Naruto complained and the Hokage raised his brows in surprise. Was the what they were arguing about?
"Maybe he will surprise us." The boy shot back evenly and the Hokage was struck by such a simple and wise statement coming from the mouth of a child. Feeling very curious and hopeful he watched as the two boys made their way towards the lone Uchiha. Before they could get too out of range of hearing Tsu-chan suddenly stopped and looked at Naruto as if just realizing something;
"He's not going to replace you as my friend, if that's what your worried about."
The Third was once again surprised by the wisdom and articulate way the young boy handled the situation. Judging by the way Naruto's shoulders slumped in relief that was exactly the reason he didn't want to go up to Sasuke. Watching in amazement he observed as the little brown eyed wonder gave Naruto a hug and a little pat on the head. After this they made their way back towards the Uchiha heir, Naruto having a renewed bounce in his steps as they did.
He watched as they introduced themselves to Sasuke and smiled at the inevitable fight that broke out between Sasuke and Naruto. The Hokage's smile widened when he was able to recognize, even from his place in the tree the barest hint of a smile on each of the fighting boys faces.
Coming down from the tree the Hokage started to walk back towards the hokage tower a new hope burning in his chest. Giving the boys one last passing glance he was startled to find big brown eyes looking straight in his direction. The Hokage stopped and they stared at each other before the small boy looked away trying to placate the fighting boys.
When the Hokage continued to walk, he was suddenly struck with a sudden memory of a young Itachi. An articulate mature boy who adored his brother and who do anything to uphold the peace of his village. This young Tsunayoshi had that same kind of spirit and while he hoped Tsunayoshi wouldn't have to suffer as Itachi had, he was glad the village would have such loyal ninja protecting it.
He smiled. Yes, the village would be in good hands.
Till Next Time!
AN: Sorry for any typos~ Let me know if you see any.