"How, how did you convince him to allow you back?" The Daimyo had exited Hiruzen's office and it was only Orochimaru and him, his ANBU detail having been excluded from the meeting from the getgo.

"It's not so hard when you know where the bodies are buried. Once he saw what Danzo and you did to Naruto-kun, he wanted more evidence of wrongdoing in the worst way and you know me, a real pleaser or have you erased that from your memory, Sensei." she purred and Hiruzen shrank in on himself.

"Shut up."

"Why? You never seemed to have a problem with it before. You even had a ritual after. Oh, how you'd promise to never do it again, it was a mistake and on and on."

"Silence. I loved Biwako." He said clenching his fists.

"Kukuku, amazing how you only remembered that after you got off. Is that why I was your favorite, Sensei? Little orphan girl that idolized you developed to your liking. Didn't even care you were using her, not even when you asked her to get an abor-"

"Shut up or I'll kill you, Daimyo's orders or not."

"So indignant, Sensei. Was I really so bad you shipped me off to Danzo. Even passed me up for the Hokage's position. Or was Minato just better in bed than me?"

"You play your games and have your fun but you'll slip up and be chased out of here again. It's in your nature, rotten to the core."

"Kukuku, think so? Because I think being here gets me everything I want and you can't even lift a finger to stop me."

"And what do you want? Konoha's downfall? Even working from the inside it'll take more than you."

"Oh, no Sensei, that isn't what I desire at all. One thing I want is for you to live in disgrace and you will; forever shamed by what you did to Naruto-kun. The rest? Well, that's a secret." She said, turning to walk away.

"Whatever it is you want, I'll stop you."

"If I honestly thought you could prevent me from what I want, you'd be dead already." she said, closing the door behind her.


Naruto and the two Sannin were sitting in one of Jiraiya's apartments. Jiraiya and Tsunade both felt privacy was required for what they wanted to say. They were having an argument about who would go first and Tsunade looked ready to punch Jiraiya so he gave in.

"So, how are you doing with all this, Naruto?"

"I don't know. It's a lot to take in. I went from making plans to flee the village to being a future clan head and independently wealthy."

"You've claimed three bounties on A rank shinobi. You're fine, financially." Jiraiya chimed in, ignoring the plans to flee part.

"How the hell would you know?" Naruto shot back.

"There aren't many people that don't know you have a knack for killing Kiri swordsmen."

"Well, I donated a lot of that to the families of the shinobi that didn't come back. It was a nice cushion but that's about it."

"Anyway, Naruto I wanted to tell you that I suspected you were Kushina's child when we met but without proof I didn't want to say anything. That's why I went to the Daimyo, to find out who you were and why you weren't living the life you should have been. I'm sorry I kept it from you as long as I did but the Daimyo thought, and I agreed, it was best to tie up loose ends."

"Oh, it's ok, You were actually trying to help me and not just manipulate me to protect a cover up." he said while shrugging. If her actions improved his situation, he won't complain about it not being immediate. "Was that all?"

"Well, I could thank you for winning me a shit ton of money by taking you to dinner. I'm sure Shizune would be up for it."

"I'd like that."

"You won a bet? Why aren't you freaking out?" Jiraiya asked, deeply confused.

"The kid negates that, I bet on him and win and nothing happens. I don't get it but I also don't question it. I am curious why you didn't just win the whole damn thing."

"Gaara is broken, he only finds comfort in his madness. I wasn't there to fight a mad dog and if he pushed me too fair Suna would be missing a jinchuuriki and that can't be good for inter-village relations. Besides, it was only my pride pushing me to compete but what's pride to people that perfected the art of fighting cowardly?"

"That's an interesting understanding of shinobi." said Tsunade.

"I suppose it is."

"Well, that's all I wanted. Come to the Senju compound tonight at 8 and we'll decided something from there."

"Hai, see you then." She nodded and then exited the apartment. Jiraiya watched Naruto grinning like an idiot, completely misunderstanding the vibe.

"Alright, enough of that. I brought you here to tell you I want you to be my apprentice."

"Ah, thank you? It'd be an honor but I think I have to decline." Naruto said, shocking both Sannin.

"What do you mean decline, brat? Do you know how many people would kill to be in your position?"

"And how many of those spent a month training with you? I'm not saying your approach has no merit but it doesn't work for me. Besides, I still have a Jounin Sensei."

"But she can't prepare you for what lies ahead."

"And what lies ahead?"

"There are a group of S-rank Shinobi calling themselves the Akatsuki. They want to abduct all the jinchuuriki for some unknown reason."

"How long have you known about this?"

"I've been aware of them since Orochimaru joined but I only recently found out about their goal of collecting the jinchuuriki."

"And knowing this you wasted a month not being fully engaged? Why would I assume that'd be different?"

"I just wanted you to figure things out for yourself."

"I'm a jutsu creator. Have been since I was six, please don't insult me Jiraiya. Asking technical details about a jutsu I'm trying to learn isn't an unwillingness to work independently. Maybe that bit of information would have been applicable to another problem I currently have or something down the road. We cannot know what will and won't be relevant at a later date. Your refusal to do anything more than explain the steps, once and then scope out women was borderline negligent."

"Alright, alright. I could have been a bit more helpful but I was testing your determination."

"I was hunted for two weeks by two of the Seven Swordsmen. I've proven my determination."

"Your resolve?"

"I killed both of those swordsmen. Iron will."

"Fine, gaki. What do you think I could have done differently?"

"You could have worked on my taijutsu."

"Is it bad?"

"Isn't it telling you don't know? Now, I wouldn't call it bad. I train in the Panther's preferred style but facing with different, more experience opponents would be helpful. My first instinct is to go to my sword or ninjutsu, I can end fights fast that way so my taijutsu skills aren't as sharp as those are."

"Hmm, you seem awfully aware of your flaws."

"No reason not to be. As far as your offer, I need to think about it. Is that ok?"

"Sure brat, but don't think too long."

"No problem. Well, I need to go see my teammates, later Pervy Sage."

"Don't call me that, brat!"


Contrary to shinobi stereotype, Naruto didn't hate hospitals. He hated the smell but who would enjoy the smell of disinfectant? Since he cultivated a joy of reading early on, anytime he wound up in the hospital due to injury he'd just relax and read. Because he didn't make himself a pain and was actually a good patient, the hospital staff was weirdly accepting of Naruto. They didn't care or whisper behind his back, he was just a normal boy with abnormal hobbies. So when he heard,

"What are you doing here?" he didn't take it as an insult or expression of animus.

"Ano, Saito-sensei, I'm just here to visit my teammates."

"That had better be why, if I have to treat you for tenketsu burnout one more time I'll ring your neck." The brunette said. She was the first person to ever treat Naruto when a raiton jutsu got away from him. She fussed over him more like a mother hen than a doctor but it was nice, if unusual for the redhead. "I heard you kicked ass, Naruto."

"I did ok, won my first two matches but forfeited during the final."

"Good, you aren't one of those battle junkies looking for stronger opponents or some such nonsense."

"Nah, I'm too lazy for that. I want all my enemies weak so I can beat them and get back to my books."

"You sound like an old man, Naruto."

He chuckle, "I suppose I do. Would you happen to know where Shikamaru Nara and Shino Aburame are?"

"Actually, I do. They are in the same room since Shikamaru is faking, just go down this hall and it's the last door on the left."

"Thank you, Saito-sensei."

"No problem, Naruto. Just stay out of trouble or else."

"Hai, hai." he said before traveling to his teammates room. Once he arrived he saw an expected sight; Shino staring off into the void, likely having a discussion with his allies while Shikamaru pretended to sleep. For a notoriously lazy boy he pretended to sleep a lot.

"Hey, fellas."

"Troublesome." That resulted in Naruto gaining a tick mark.

"Hello, Naruto-san." No matter how many times Naruto tells Shino he doesn't have to be so formal he is anyway. So, he's given up, for now.

"You feeling better, Shino?"

"Yes, my allies were able to neutralize much of the poison, I am only here as a precaution. Thank you for your concern."

"Of course, we're teammates. What about you, Shikamaru? Still pretending to have chakra exhaustion?"

"Not all of us are walking chakra batteries, you troublesome redhead."

"You're troublesome, teme!"

"No, you are. I used to think blondes were the very height of troublesome but I was wrong. I actually talked to my dad about it and he gave me a knowing look. You clearly descend from troublesome people."

"You goddamn right I do. My name might mean maelstrom but I'm an eternal flame, baby. Dattebayo!"

"Oh, Kurenai, your cute little students are so much cuter than mine. Want to trade?" A voice from outside the room said.

"They are downright adorable, Kakashi so I think I'll keep them." At being caught in their childish moment, Shino adjusted his glasses, Shikamaru muttered troublesome and Naruto scratched the back of his head.

"Well, just be careful around Naruto and raiton jutsu, he isn't very good with them."

Naruto immediately became irate, hair floating in distinct tails, "You suck at teaching raiton, dattebayo."

"Oh, Naru-chan, is this about the lightning puppy again."

Immediately his mood changed from righteous fury to embarrassment. "Shut up, you said you'd never bring that up."

"No, I implied I wouldn't but it's good to have embarrassing stories about rookie Chunin, it keeps them humble."

"You got promoted, Naruto?" Kurenai asked.

"Hai, the Old Man told me just a little while ago but I don't think it means no one else has a chance. He just confirmed my early."

Congratulations were given all around and Naruto the team slipped into comfortable banter while Kakashi excused himself. He took a look back at Kurenai's team and knew, while he truly wanted to be directly involved in Naruto's development, this was likely the best team for him. A supportive team with no egos, and people too smart to give into blind prejudice. His team is good, they've worked out their roles after a lot of effort so he can't complain but he hasn't felt the same joy as when he watched an eight year old Kushina clone shock himself trying to master the basics of raiton manipulation.

Enjoying time with people he actually liked couldn't be allowed to last, Naruto realized, as he was summoned to a council meeting by an ANBU; the same one that escorted him from the arena. He didn't think the Old Man would go through with the inheritance stuff so suddenly but he guessed it was better to just get it all over with. He assured his team he'd tell them all about it when next they met and made his way to the meeting, not wishing to make a bad impression. Once he was allowed entrance into the room he was greeted with the sight of the clan heads of the major clans of Konoha; From Aburame to Hyuuga. Tsunade and Jiraiya were there as well, though Tsunade's presence did make sense as the Senju clan head; even the Old Man's advisors were there. The leaders of the major clans were all looking confused as to why they would be there and, especially, why he was there with them.

"We have a lot to discuss tonight, well I have a lot to tell you all. I ask for no interruptions. First order of business. Many of you have suspected the truth but never outright confronted me. This allowed me to violate the Clan Survival Act passed by the Daimyo. Naruto is the true heir to the Uzumaki clan; his parents are Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki. He will be getting the domicile he has been entitled to his entire life along with full access to his clan's resources. He also has been promoted to Chunin, it was long overdue and the folly of a foolish, old man. As such, he will have a seat on the council or may choose a proxy, but that can be arranged another time but for tonight, he will join us. Are there any questions outside of why I hide his heritage?"

"I'd like to know if you're sure. Yes, he looks exactly like Kushina but do you have proof he is Minato's son?" asked Hiashi.

"I'm not sure I take to your implication, Hiashi-san." He really wanted to make a good impression but he won't let some asshole slander his mother. They'll be some fighting bastards in here before that goes down.

"I'm only doing my due diligence, Naruto-san."

"No, you're being an asshole and if you continue to imply Kushina was anything less than a faithful wife I'll break every bone in your body. You being a Hyuuga doesn't absolve you from responsibility for your words, remember that Hiashi." Tsunade chimed in.

"That's enough. Yes, there is proof and it has been accepted by the Daimyo himself so you have no grounds to question it. Is there anything else?"

"Will you inform us of the why?" asked Shibi.

"Yes. There are multiple reasons. The easiest to accept is the son of Naruto Namikaze would have had assassins after him before he could walk. I truly wanted to protect Naruto from that, especially when I didn't know if I could fully trust my shinobi to protect him." Many of the shinobi bristled at the accusation.

"I don't find that fair at all!" Tsume yelled. She may not have done much for the boy (or anything) but she'd never just allow someone to kill him, nor would she believe any of her clan capable of such an act. All the clan head silently agreed, taking offense at the implication. Naruto held back a scoff but didn't hide how he felt about their performative outrage.

"Do you disagree, Naruto-san?" Shibi asked.

"The shinobi of the village, generally, were less discriminatory. Though the primary reaction was to treat me like a primed exploding tag they'd rather not be around. Some were more ignorant, some less but the consensus seemed to be they'd rather I not be anywhere near them. Also, I just had a man imply my mother was a whore to my face as if it weren't offensive. That was my reality so whether or not any of you would attempt to protect someone you'd prefer not be near you, I don't know but acting like the Old Man just levied a grave insult is absurd." When Naruto finished answering Shibi, much of the indignation had left the faces of the clan heads. When taken from Naruto's perspective, it would be easy to assume some would willingly look the other way while he was removed either through kidnapping or murder. Many were having realizations about what their inactivity in the life of Naruto, Minato's child, meant. They speak of his noble sacrifice but had sullied it by their choices. There were all starting to feel the weight of twelve years worth of shame. Hiashi felt it more than any. He holds some resentment toward Naruto for injuring Neji to the extent he did and engaged in a moment of pettiness. It was beneath him and surely not justified when speaking about the dead.

"Moving on, protecting Naruto was one reason but it wasn't the only and in retrospect I cannot say with all honesty it was the primary one either. My position was vulnerable, the wealthiest of the civilians were attempting to make a power grab, leveraging the money required to support our recovery. I couldn't allow that. The current Daimyo was also an unknown to me and didn't trust he'd send additional resources without requiring something in return so I did a shameful act, I pilfered money from the Uzumaki clan funds. It was a substantial amount and in my desire to not lose a necessary emergency fund I allowed a way for Danzo to take funds from the account as well. I've made restitution to Naruto for what I've taken and was in the process of repaying what Danzo stole. This is why I didn't promote him to Chunin, I didn't believe I could delay giving him his inheritance or the knowledge of his parents and clan any longer than that as an automatic search for any due assets is started when our shinobi make Chunin. The inconsistencies in Naruto's file would have gotten back to the Daimyo and this would have been the result. However, the Daimyo was alerted to my actions some time ago and had been conducting his own investigation into my and Danzo's actions. He brought it all to my attention a few days ago where Danzo Shimura was executed for his crimes.

I am deeply ashamed of my actions and how they've hurt Naruto. I am even further shamed by the consequences of my actions. As ordered by Daimyo-sama, I will be stepping down as Hokage as soon as I find a worthy replacement. That is expected. What wasn't was the other order given by the Daimyo." Hiruzen said before gesturing to his ANBU who left and returned promptly with a cloaked guest. "Take off that ridiculous cloak, this is no time for your games." Hiruzen barked.

"Kukuku, so mean Sarutobi-sensei." The familiar laugh and timber set most of the room on edge. Orochimaru the White Snake was here. Konoha's greatest traitor was here. The Ino-Shika-Cho sprang into action attempting their well practiced containment formation. Hiashi and Tsume assumed their taijutsu stances. Shibi wondered if he were surrounded by idiots as the Hokage clearly summoned the notorious traitor. Tsunade and Jiraiya had been warned by Hiruzen he had some shocking news to deliver so while greatly surprised they didn't blindly attack her. Naruto just wanted to leave. How should you feel about someone that stabs you in the gut but also gives you the means to speak to your dead mother? He hadn't the faintest idea so hoped he could turn invisible through will alone.

"All of you sit down, now!" Hiruzen shouted, attempting to get control back before things got out of hand. All obeyed their Hokage though reluctantly. "Orochimaru, as ordered by the Daimyo was given a full pardon as she was acting under the orders of Danzo at the time and as I never punished him it was unjust to hold a subordinate to a stricter standard. Oto, her shinobi village will become a protectorate of Konoha, operating semi-independently but my successor will have to iron out the specifics. She is reinstated as an Elite Jounin and conferred all the rights and privileges befitting her rank and is still acknowledged as a Sannin. These orders are absolute and beyond contestation. You are all to inform your clansmen of these developments so none erroneously attack her."

"Sensei, you can't do this. She's a monster. It'd be letting the fox into the chickencoop, no offense Naruto. I can't allow this, I won't let her cause further harm here" Naruto said nothing, still pretending to be invisible.

"Kukuku, stupid Jiraiya. Always talking big. He should shut up before I run him through with my sword and spit roast a few of his toads for good measure."

"Try it bitch."

"How ever did you suffer this idiot for an entire month, Naruto-kun? You must have lost brain cells by the minute. Now that I'm back how would you like to be my student?"

'Did she really just ask me that? No, she didn't. None of them can see me, I'm not even here." His denial no jutsu was strong.

"NEVER!" Jiraiya roared, unleashing his full killing intent.

"Why not? I've already helped him more than you ever have, isn't that right, Naruto-kun?" Naruto just sank into his chair. This woman was crazy but no match for his invisibility jutsu.

"What do you mean by that? Naruto what does she mean?" Hiruzen asked but when Naruto kept silent he got a tick mark. "You aren't invisible, we can see you. That has never worked, not even when you were a child."

"Fine! When I started my independent study I would occasionally receive resource materials, mostly advanced chakra theory or whatever. I didn't know who it came from, I figured some Konoha ninja just wanted to help me."

"See? I'm clearly the better choice to train Naruto-kun. Not some toad summoning lummox. Besides, your skill sets don't even compliment each other. Naruto is a justu creator and kenjutsu user. That's elegance. That's finesse. And above all, it's intelligence. You're an oaf. A stupid, stupid oaf."

"That's enough, we aren't here to watch you insult a loyal shinobi. This meeting is over, my former students and Naruto stay. Everyone else, please leave."

"Are you sure, Hiruzen?" asked Homura.

"Yes, old friend, I will be fine." He watched his advisor nod and leave with his counterpart. His eyes immediately grew colder as he stared at the Snake Sannin. "My authority may be diminished greatly but I will never allow you direct access to Naruto. I won't have you twist him into something dark and ugly, a creature more than a human."

"Kukuku, you haven't the ability to stop me you useless relic. It's his choice and any undue influence on his choice would be unwise and likely unhealthy."

"Are you threatening me, us? Surely you don't believe you could defeat all three of us?"

"That assumes you'd all attack me; Tsunade has been awfully quiet."

"I want nothing to do with this idiocy nor the twisted dynamic that was our team. Come on, Naruto. Auntie Tsunade is going to drink her dinner until she can't feel feelings anymore and you are too."

"Um, I don't- gurk!" he couldn't finish as she pulled on the back of his shirt, rapidly exiting the council room.

"Sensei, we can't let her get near Naruto." Jiraiya said, his eyes pleading for his sensei to do anything to stop her.

"Why are you so convinced I mean him harm? I've only helped him thus far."

"You stabbed him in the gut."

"Just a little. I knew he'd survive and now he has something to remember me by. A little gift from Orochimaru-sensei. Shishou? Yes, shishou. If you want Naruto in the best position to fend off the Akatsuki you'll leave him in my care. I was actually a member, I have more intelligence on them than anyone else you have access to. If you prefer to hold onto old grudges and stroke your ego, make Naruto work with a lazy pervert that never attempted to aid his Godson. And before you start on your excuses. I was a missing nin and I still knew of his interests and helped cultivate them. If anyone deserves to continue his development it's me. Not the feeble old man nor the useless toad. Just food for thought."


Kurenai, Asuma and panther cub named Mageela were walking through the village. The two Jounin were trusting the nascent tracking ability of the young summons. They'd gone to Naruto's apartment to ask him to meet with the other rookie teams to congratulate him on his promotion and to better establish some camaraderie between him and the other teams. Very few of them knew anything of Naruto except he graduated early so were surprised by his performance in the exams. The Jounin grew suspicious when Mageela directed toward a shinobi bar. However they went in anyway as the cub was quite confident she found her, "Onii-chan". And to their shock, she had. Naruto, with half lidded eyes was sitting with Lady Tsunade and her long time apprentice.

"Naruto!" Kurenai called from the front of the bar and Naruto's head immediately shot up. He saw her and began a slow, clearly drunken approach.

"Hi sensei!" he said a bit loud.

"Hi. What are you doing here?"

"Oh, I got confirmed as the clan heir of the Uzumaki clan and then Orochimaru got reinstated as a shinobi and she was all, "be my student Naruto no one gets you but me," and then there was going to be a fight but Tsunade-obachan was like peace out suckas and dragged me along so we could drink until we couldn't feel feelings anymore but I clearly haven't drank enough because I don't like him." Naruto said, pointing to Asuma. "He's too tall and he's probably got a bunch of short jokes just waiting. Because I'm short. Kure-senseiā€¦ am I going to be short forever?" Naruto continued to talk rapidly with his eyes watering at the end, getting as big as saucers.

"No, Naruto, you won't be short forever."

"Ah ha, dattebayo! Oh, why are you here with Mageela?"

"We came to find you, onii-chan!"

"But you're supposed to be guarding my apartment."

"But I wanted to find you and she said she was your sensei and she smelled nice."

"What if she was lying?"

"What if she wasn't?"

"Good point." drunken Naruto said, making Kurenai and Asuma form a sweatdrop.

"Naruto, all of the rookie teams are having dinner together and we want you to join us."

"But I can't just leave Tsunade-obachan and Shizune-neechan."

"I'm sure they'll understand besides you need to eat something so you sober up. I won't take no for an answer."

"Hai, hai." the new Chunin said before going back to his table. The watched as the two women gave him a brief hug and the three shinobi and one summon departed. Once they reached the restaurant Naruto made a clone to take Mageela back home. She wasn't really a guard, Bagheera just wanted the two to get used to each other and bond. He saw a seat free by his team and immediately took it, catching the eyes of the rookies, and the two able bodied members of Gai's team.

"Sup." He said, leaning back. He didn't know why but walking seemed to make him feel more intoxicated.

"Naruto-san, are you drunk?"

"Why, yes, teammate Shino I am quite drunk."

"Troublesome."

"I haven't even done anything yet, Shika. Let me do something first!"

"It's only a matter of time."

"You can't name one troublesome thing I've ever done."

"You had six of your summons chase me for three hours."

"You need to improve on your cardio, I gave you motivation."

"Fear for one's safety is quite motivating, Shikamaru-san." Shino added, getting a thumbs up from Naruto.

"See, Shino gets it."

"I'm glad everything is just one big joke to you." A bun haired girl cut in, glaring at Naruto. The outburst caught the attention of all at the table.

"I'm sorry, have we met?"

"No. You just tried to kill both my teammates."

"Nani?" said Naruto, confused.

"Lee and Neji." Shikamaru filled in the gaps.

"Oh. That's incorrect. I only tried to kill one of your teammates. I intended to maim the other. Very different."

"And that makes it better? We're supposed to be comrades."

"Then, they should have acknowledged their comrade had them beaten and given up."

"You didn't have to go that far. Neji may never be a ninja again, it is all he had."

"Then he should have taken better care of himself. Besides, he looked as if he was truly trying to kill Usagi-hime" he pointed to Hinata, causing her to blush faintly at the name and attention, "and I bet you didn't say one word about it. I'm sorry bad things don't confine themselves to just people you don't care about. If I'd realized that were the rules I'd have let Lee beat my brains in." he finished, causing the girl to leave, Lee following behind her.

The Jounin overheard the discussion and saw Tenten leave. They were surprised Gai hadn't followed her and looked at him expectantly, causing him to answer the unasked question.

"There's nothing I can say tonight to make her see the truth of Naruto's words. I think seeing her teammates easily bested by the same person has shaken her worldview. All she and my team have known, until the exams is success and I think they developed a certain amount of arrogance that nothing could touch them. That's my fault but it won't be fixed tonight."

"It's ok, Gai. That would be difficult to predict. I have trouble getting my team motivated. There's no natural leader among them. Ino's just bossy but she's also the weakest. Choji is too kind to take charge and Hinata, while strong doesn't appear to want to push them. By the time they all make Chunin, assuming they do, this team will not last beyond that." Asuma said and it was truly an unusual team. His father had expressed concerns about overspecialization and decided to take inspiration from Tsunade, without actually enacting her proposal. He moved to have every team have a tracker, a containment specialist and a heavy hitter with one member also able to fulfill a support role. Kakashi argued hard for Naruto to be his tracker, his summons ideal for it but Iruka and the Sandaime cited potential personality conflicts. Sasuke would do well with a rival around or at his level but being on a team with someone far and away better than him may have made him even more withdrawn. And if Sasuke ever stole one of Naruto's personal jutsu they wouldn't have a loyal Uchiha anymore.

The Uchiha went through rigorous ethics training, provided by the clan, as they neared graduation age. It was one of the only reasons other ninja could accept sharing a village with someone capable of taking their hard work. They weren't known for stealing the jutsu of allies, because they didn't. However, given Sasuke's drive to kill Itachi and the absence of the ethics training he may try to steal from Naruto, justifying the need. And Naruto wouldn't care why he did it, he'd demand blood. As the Sandaime explained, Naruto had started to see more and more of the villagers as an outgroup, not his people. If he considered you a friend, he was warm and inviting, even sometimes silly and immature. If you weren't, he could be cold and impersonal. He wouldn't automatically trust his teammates, which means Sasuke might have grossly offended Naruto before a bond could have been formed. It was a disaster waiting to happen. Kakashi accepted this and accepted he'd be the best person to instill the ethical use of a sharingan to Sasuke. He couldn't have Hinata, the top kunoichi for personality conflicts as well.

Apparently Sasuke was too much like Hiashi. This would either harm Hinata's growth as she became insecure or show further signs of emotional abuse or she'd snap and try to kill Sasuke since she can't kill her father. As such, he got Sakura. The Sandaime argued she was a blank slate and could be molded to fit near any role, outside of tracker. She did have a lot of potential if he ever found a way to channel it but being on a team with the object of her affections impedes her growth. Kiba was a good teammate. He was brash but constantly being beat by Sasuke curbed it, a bit. That was actually the problem, he didn't push Sasuke. He accepted Sasuke was better than him and deferred to him as the team leader. It improved team dynamics but not the underlying issues of his other team members. Sasuke doesn't have to bond with his team as they follow his lead with little pushback. Sakura still gets to think Sasuke is an unparalleled genius she can always rely on. It was a mess and while the team would last longer than Asuma's, they didn't bring the best out of each other.

The rest of the evening past without further incident, with the rookies chatting away. They all departed and Naruto, finally sober, decided to head to his apartment. It'd been a long day and he just wanted to unwind. That, however, was not to be as he sensed a presence in his apartment. Activating the emergency seals, should someone penetrate his initial security, Naruto walked in to see an amused Orochimaru on his couch, petting Mageela who was purring happily.

"Hi, onii-chan!" the panther cub said.

"This is a strong gravity seal, is it reinforced by my chakra? Kukuku, impressive." observed

"Uh, thanks. What are you doing here and how did you get in?"

"She let me in." Orochimaru said, causing Naruto to sweatdrop. He's really going to have to make her more suspicious of people. Sensing his silent recrimination Mageela spoke in her defense.

"She smells like your scrolls so I thought she was ok." He had to concede her point. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to keep training materials from an enemy but still he'd have to withhold some snacks even if she pouted. He wouldn't break this time.

"As for why I'm here; if you'd release me I'd be happy to tell you."

Naruto deactivated the secondary seals while reengaging his primary. If the Old Man let her back in the village, at the Daimyo's instruction, he reasoned she likely wasn't here to kill him.

He took a chair from his desk and sat across from her, awaiting her explanation.

"Why so far away? I don't bite."

"But you do stab."

"I do but it was a lesson you needed to learn."

"And what lesson was that? Getting impaled hurts?"

"Being overly noble will get you killed."

"You didn't leave me much choice."

"Sure I did. You could have attacked me as a team and as they distracted me you fled." she said and saw the disgust on Naruto's face. "Ah, you'd never do that, yes?"

"No, I wouldn't."

"Then accept that path leads to pain. You'll never abandon your comrades? Put their safety above your own? Then acknowledge you'll sometimes suffer for it. Did my little love tap make you reconsider anything you did?"

"No."

"Good. Wouldn't want you changing too much but also can't have you blind to what your beliefs may lead to."

"Well, arigato, Sensei-sama. I am most humbled by your wise words and wiser actions."

"I think I like that even more than Shishou. Yes, when you become my student I think I'll have you call me that."

"I haven't said yes. I haven't made a decision."

"Kukuku, whatever you decide just don't exclude the middle." she said and he quirked an eyebrow. She just smiled as if to say it'd make sense soon enough. "So, onto why I'm here; did you manage to solve my little puzzle?"

"Yes. How did you get the DNA of my mother and Mito Senju?"

"I'm a world class ninja, Naruto-kun. There isn't much I can't do."

"Right."

"So, how did you manage it?"

"I broke the jutsu down to its most basic elements, Yin and Yang. It summons the Yin energies of the dead, it needs a yang counterpart, the body and the DNA acts as a beacon to attract the Yin but also help merge the Yin to a foreign Yang."

Orochimaru listened closely to his words, her genius mind cycling through explanations until her eyes widened a fraction. "Yang release?"

"Yep. Pure yang release channeled into a shadow clone was how I was able to do."

"So, you can do yang release now? How far have you gotten with it?"

"Just the shadow clone, I was under a tight deadline and learning to focus the balance of my chakra to yang took a majority of the month."

"What happened? Where are they?"

"They both returned to the Pure World. For Mito, she felt her time had passed and outside of Tsunade, all of her family is with her there. My kaa-chan was conflicted but ultimately felt it unnatural. Apparently the control seal can distract them from it as they have orders to follow but when they retain their free will there's always this sense that a part of them is wrong and shouldn't be there."

"The foreign yang?"

"Yea. She didn't appear to have any moral qualms about it or concerns about balance or whatever, she just said she felt wrong."

"Fascinating. What will you do now?"

"I'm not sure. I know I want to develop Yang release more but as far as the Edo Tensei, eh." he said with a shrug

"Don't abandon it entirely. It'd be fitting, Minato perfected the Hiraishin and you can perfect the Edo Tensei."

"Uh, why do I have to get the zombie jutsu?"

"Luck of the draw. Well, that's all I wanted to ask you so I will take my leave for the night." she said, placing Mageela on the couch. "Oh, and Naruto?'

"Don't stare at my ass on my way out." Causing the boy to sputter, much to her amusement. When she left, Naruto glared at the lone panther cub.

"Mageela, we need to discuss you doing whatever is requested of you for a pretty face or pleasing scent."

"You think she's pretty?"

"Not the point! So, for dereliction of duty, no snacks and no belly rubs for a week."

"Onii-chan!"


Three days had come and gone since the end of the Chunin exams and the official reinstatement of Orochimaru. The following day the Sandaime announced her return to the entire village and it did not go well. The civilians were terrified, the boogeywoman had returned to dissect them and their children they wailed. The ninja were on edge as well. She was a well known traitor so to be allowed back and for it to come from the Daimyo himself? The seasoned among them realized there was a game being played well beyond their level but would watch their step around the snake sannin. There was one person that wasn't happy, wasn't accepting but also wasn't afraid. She was livid, enraged, angered to the point of distraction. She begged the Sandaime to reconsider, ranted and raved about how this woman was the embodiment of evil. The old Hokage couldn't fault the kunoichi, few had been as affected by Orochimaru's machinations than her but his hands were tied. She realized he couldn't, or wouldn't do anything and had thrown herself into a bender to cope. Her friends tried to help but there wasn't much they can do, the situation was simply unchangeable and if Anko tried to attack Orochimaru she'd be stripped of her status as a kunoichi and possibly imprisoned; if the Sannin didn't kill her outright. None of them were used to seeing Anko so distressed and hated how powerless they were to console the, normally, lively kunoichi.

Kurenai's team was ordered to stay on light duty as two of her team members were still being considered for promotion, the Orochimaru fallout having delayed final decisions, and Naruto had clan business to attend to. This allowed her to stick by her friend, attempting to sober her up with her favorite treat, dango.

"Are you feeling better now?"

"There is no better as long as she is alive."

"Maybe there is a long term missions you can be sent on, to get some space."

"I'm not running, Kurenai. Not from her! Never from her."

"Then what, Anko? You can't remain like this, you'll only be hurting yourself and those who care about you."

"I-I don't know. I feel helpless, how did she get the Daimyo on her side? It makes no sense. Although, it is convenient that she comes back and your brat gets his long denied promotion and acknowledged as a clan heir. Funny, that."

"What are you implying Anko?"

"She has an interest in him. Don't know what, don't know why but it's there. And the kid is about as attached to this village as that Neji is to his right arm."

"Naruto wouldn't betray the village, he wouldn't betray his team."

"Maybe not now but before? Heritage hidden, stalled career and most of the villagers still disliking him? You think a few people is enough to keep him in hell? Nah. And I bet she knows that too. She'll have her hooks in him before you know it and he'll be twisted just like she is." Anko said and was immediately slapped in response.

"You don't get to talk about my student like that. Naruto is nothing like her."

"I wasn't either. Until I was influenced by her. You'll see."


Mageela was running frantically, making note to use the shadow walk like her tou-sama taught her. She needed to get help. Just a bit ago two strange men came to the apartment. One tried to get through the security but couldn't. The presence of one of the men had the small cub shaking, it felt oppressive and overwhelming. They made mention of trying to find her onii-chan so as soon as she sensed them gone, she left via a secret exit to go find help. She smelled two familiar scents, one was his sensei but her presence didn't seem to match those men so she opted to find the other lady that smelled like snake and gave really good tummy rubs. She ran nonstop until she found the woman at a cafe with some other person. As she approached she jumped on the table, causing the boy to tense and prepare to attack.

"Kabuto, stop." the lady ordered. "Now, little one, what seems to be the issue?"

"Two men were looking for onii-chan. One had more chakra than even onii-chan did. They were in these cape things with red clouds on them and I think he might be in trouble." she got out, completely out of breathe.

"Do you know where Naruto-kun is right now?" the cub nodded.

"He uses a far away training ground when he wants to be alone. I can show you."

"Good. Kabuto, we're leaving." Orochimaru said, picking up the cub and following her directions.


Naruto was having a rather crappy day. It started out fine, no mission to worry about so he went to train for a bit. While working through the grapples of the Panther style with a shadow clone, he felt his awareness shift. Immediately he suspected genjutsu and dispelled it, to see two cloaked individuals approach him. He cursed himself for being caught off guard but wouldn't just react blindly because of it. They removed their straw hats as the short one began to speak.

"We need you to come with us, Naruto-kun." he said and once the hat was complete off he realized who they were; Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki. He was boned. Bagheera might not even be much help against these guys and he couldn't justify putting his summons at risk on the slight chance they'd make a difference. He needed to do two things, avoid looking Itachi in the eyes and come up with a plan to escape.

"He looks like the type to resist Itachi. Maybe I should cut off his legs?" the large man said, going for his sword. "Besides, I hear he fashions himself a swordsman. I can put him to the test."

"We need him alive, Kisame. Besides he won't resist."

Without saying a word or making a gesture his existing shadow clone sent two kunai at Itachi, each infused with his super sonic chakra flow technique. Itachi tossed two kunai to meet Naruto's but was surprised when Naruto's cleaved, effortlessly, through his own, causing the Uchiha prodigy to have to dodge. The real Naruto had not been idle as he created two fuin bunshin. A weakness of this jutsu is due to the complicated chakra molding he could only make two at a time and it was limited by how many seals he could materialize through chakra. Naruto only had three as he'd been somewhat limited in his fuinjutsu studies, though Mito and his mom had sought to correct that. The exploding array was one he'd demonstrated. The next was gravity seals as they made for a good containment method. If all went according to plan, Kisame would discover his third one.

The blue man closed the distance between Naruto and himself in the blink of an eye and hurriedly brought down Samehada to dispel the clones. However, right before it made contact with the first clone it dispelled itself, leaving the array planted on the sword and with the quickest flare of the original's chakra, Samehada was gone into Naruto's personal storage void. The other clone tried to take advantage of the opening but was dispelled with minimal effort as an enraged Kisame rushed at Naruto, slamming his fist into the redhead's jaw. Naruto's vision was swimming and he fell to his knees, only to receive a sharp kick to his ribs; a kick powerful enough to lift him off the ground. Kisame was so angered by the theft of his sword he didn't notice the brief glow on the ground. Naruto had suspected the kick was coming and used the moment to create space between him and the ground so while in midair he performed a desperation shunshin, while also triggering the explosive array he planted while bowed by Kisame's blow. The large blue man was tossed back and suffered minor burns but nothing that would impede him for long.

Naruto came out of his shunshin and immediately retrieved two kunai. He knew they would most likely follow him via the same technique. The shunshin wasn't a viable combat technique because it was disorienting and just predictable enough to give your target a brief warning to go on the defensive. However, after prolong study, Naruto became able to see the displacement the high speed technique caused and estimate about where it would end. It's how he killed Zabuza after the Demon of the Mist threw his legendary sword, the path of the shunshin was obvious and a few wind chakra infused kunai ended his life. Naruto waited, he only planned to attempt this with Kisame, Itachi's sharingan would render the ambush useless, he'd see it coming even if he wasn't as proficient with the technique as Shisui Uchiha was.

He threw the infused kunai and then performed the six hand signs required for one of his original jutsu. A katon jutsu shot in a straight line, it traveled very fast. Instead of ending the katon with the tiger sign, the sign that essentially ignites the chakra, Naruto finishes with snake, giving it suiton like properties. The excited chakra will saturate an object and once said object can't handle any more of the excited chakra it'll explode.

"Fire Style: Combustion Stream" he muttered, aiming for the two kunai and they caused the expected explosion, it being superheated thanks to the presence of the wind chakra. Unfortunately, the concussion made him miscalculate. He managed to further hurt Kisame but it wasn't enough to kill the Kiri missing nin, at least not immediately and he still had Itachi to deal with. The Kyuubi's chakra was healing the concussion and his cracked ribs but it wouldn't be fast enough.

Kisame was getting to his fit, he had, at the very least, second degree burns on the right side of his face and body. The shrapnel from the kunai pierced him as well so he had limited range of motion and responsiveness in his right arm. But he didn't care. He didn't care about the mission, about his leader or any of it. He was going to kill that little annoyance and they could get the fox later. Kisame began his approach toward Naruto, fully prepared to end the little shit that injured him and stole his sword. Until, he collapsed on the ground and could no longer feel his legs. He couldn't see what happened but Itachi could and knew the blade that literally stabbed Kisame in the back and then immediately retracted.

"Long time no see, Itachi-kun." she said, now standing over his downed partner along with another male, possibly around Itachi's age.

"Don't interfere in this, Orochimaru. Don't make Leader-sama any more motivated to find and kill you." Itachi knew Orochimaru had returned to Konoha, the very thought sicked him but he didn't expect her to come to the defense of the container. Itachi briefly wondered if she had plans to experiment on him and considered killing Naruto outright as a mercy and a way to protect Konoha.

Orochimaru said nothing, surveying the area. She could tell Naruto was hurt, his breathing looked pained. She was going to have Kabuto heal Kisame after she dealt with Itachi. The sharkman would die for this. "Leave, Itachi." she said. Her voice lacking the sadistic mirth it is normally infused with.

"I can't do that and Sannin or not, you're no match for me." Itachi said before vacating his current position as a high powered heel came crashing down. As soon as Itachi had his feet planted he felt them surrounded by some weird substance that made him unable to move.

"This is where you die, Itachi." he heard from behind him. The Sannin, all of the Sannin were here. This was bad but not unsalvageable. He activated his Mangekyou Sharingan, planning to burn whatever this was and flee. Before he could he felt something pierce his back, whatever it was just missed his heart but the pain was unbearable.

Each of the Sannin saw the projectile make a beeline for Itachi but weren't sure they believed what they saw. Until Naruto pulled it back and caught one of the seven legendary swords of Kiri, the Nuibari. Tsunade made her way to Naruto to check on him as she noticed the same things Orochimaru had. Kabuto went to Itachi to make sure he'd survive transport to a secure facility and Jiraiya created two prison transport scrolls. Once Kabuto saw to Itachi and confirmed he was stable Jiraiya put him in the scroll. He was going over to Kisame but was too late, Orochimaru had beheaded the man as he lay helpless on the ground.

"What are you doing? We could have interrogated him for intel!" Jiraiya shouted. She meet eyes with Jiraiya, and the Toad Sage saw blind fury and madness in those slitted pupils and the surrounding area was heavy with her killing intent.

"Say one more thing to me and I'll flay you then dump you in a vat of salt water." she hissed. Jiraiya wanted to press the issue further, almost exclusively out of habit but Tsunade reminded them they had to turn over Itachi and get Naruto to a hospital. The fractured jaw and broken ribs were easy enough to handle but he had a severe concussion so certain protocols needed to be adhered to while he was in the village. As if a switch had been flipped, Orochimaru ceased the killing intent and summoned a snake to dispose of Kisame as if he were trash. Once Tsunade situated Naruto on her back the Sannin and Kabuto headed back to the village at a sedate pace, Tsunade refusing to travel any faster than necessary given Naruto's condition.