I don't own Naruto.
Naruto Uzumaki had a problem. He realized this early in life. Everyone seemed to speak in some code he simply couldn't understand, not fully. Like there were nuances or something he just couldn't grasp. People made no sense to him. And yet, they fascinated him. He watched people a lot to see if he could find a pattern and while he sometimes thought he did, it was never as consistent as he'd like it to be. Confounding people were.
What made matters worse is that these people, for a reason he hadn't always known, simply didn't like him. When he was seven he asked a local shopkeep why he gave the young blond such dirty looks, why everyone did. Granted the Uzumaki didn't phrase it the best when he asked, "What's your deal?". The gentleman was startled that the notorious child would speak to him directly and so bluntly.
"Nothing's my deal, leave." Said the shopkeep which caused Naruto to turn his head sideways in confusion.
"Yes, there is. You dislike me but I've never done anything to you. I want to know why." This caused the man to get nervous. He'd love to tell the kid, that he didn't dislike him as he was afraid of him. He didn't think the kid was the fox but how could a small child truly contain it? What if he got hurt or upset or even died? But how can you handle being afraid of a child? Even as a civilian? Dislike, disregard and ostracization was better than feeling fear. But he couldn't say that, couldn't admit his shame. He'd die doing it so he simply brushed the small child away with his broom and closed his shop for the rest of the day. He'd drink all night, trying not to think about the unfairness of being feared and having no idea why.
Naruto asked several more people that day and got the same answer. His Oji-san told him to stop asking the people as they wouldn't say. He also said he wouldn't say. Naruto realized he was beaten but decided to extract a little sweetener if he wasn't going to get his answer, a favor from the Hokage.
Because Naruto didn't get people, if he wasn't people watching he spent much of his time either reading or playing/training in the forest. Books made sense. Nature made sense. People, Naruto would argue vehemently, did not. And it was this lack of understanding that had him, initially do so poorly in school. The young Uzumaki wasn't dumb he just didn't see the point in how the academy taught. They tell you to read a book and then present the same information to you in the same way as the book did. How is that learning? It's memorization and it bored him.
Iruka-sensei fussed at Naruto a lot to try harder. Naruto argued he would if they'd actually teach something useful. As far as Naruto was concerned what passed for explanations were pisspoor. The perfect example would be the clone jutsu. Naruto couldn't perform the clone jutsu. He knew it. Iruka-sensei knew it. His class knew it. When Naruto sought advice, he only got claptrap about lack of chakra control.
"Just improve your chakra control, Naruto."
"What does that mean?"
"The better you control your chakra the better you can perform your jutsu."
"But what does control mean? Is there a unit? How many units of chakra does the clone jutsu take?"
"You just have to feel it, Naruto."
"You've been an utter disappointment." The unknowing Jinchuuriki said and Iruka watched the eight year old walk out of his classroom. Naruto would face similar trials. His taijutsu was ok but limited because he didn't have a training partner and developed bad habits because of it. The skills he could develop without help were some of the better of the class, not the top but not middle of the pack either.
An eight year old Naruto had planned to resign himself to being a stranger in a strange land for forever, to never fully understand people or their things. Until, one day Iruka-sensei gave a brief demonstration of basic fuinjutsu. The blond was instantly hooked. He couldn't explain it but it just made sense, the symbols and how they flowed and the end product. He wanted, no needed to learn that art. He even called in his favor from Oji-san to do so.
"Now, Naruto, you must be extremely careful with even the basics of fuinjutsu and your calligraphy must be perfect. If I see you being irresponsible I will take your materials away until you mature."
"Define irresponsible, Oji-san."
"Attempting things you haven't properly prepared for, rushing through the levels when you have firmed up your skills."
"What if I demonstrate the required skills through some sort of project or test before I move to another level?" Naruto asked.
"That would be sufficient."
"Then we have an accord." The blond said, reaching out hand. The aged Hokage smiled as he shook it. Naruto had a slightly elevated speech pattern as refined his skills through reading aloud. As the subjects increased in difficulty it shaped his word selection.
"One last thing, you can't skip the academy no matter how interesting you find fuinjutsu." Hiruzen said and cackled at the boy's pout. He'd had that issue early on and knew to stipulate Naruto's continued attendance or the boy would just pursue his interests relentlessly.
The day Naruto got the ten, thousand page volumes on fuinjutsu, several guides on calligraphy, and the calligraphy set was life changing. He made steady progress for the rest of school year with his chosen topic. He'd basically forgone doing anything but the bare minimum as far as bookwork went, but still did well on the practical exercises. Iruka-sensei wasn't happy but couldn't do much as the Nara heir did the bare minimum as well.
He'd managed to make it through the first two volumes by the end of the academy year, progressing by one volume every two months. Hiruzen remained impressed. The first two volumes were the basic of basics, seal recognition, the foundational languages of seals for the first part, culminating in the storage seal. The second was an introduction in sync'd and localized reactions, i.e. explosive tags, as well as building multifaceted arrays.
Naruto got a warm feeling when his Oji-san praised him. When he asked what that meant, his Oji-san said it was likely a mixture of several emotions. That when someone was praised it made them feel proud and acknowledged, the feeling increasing when someone close to them did so sincerely.
It was the first time Naruto realized you could feel multiple emotions at once. He realized that complicated his theories on why people reacted the way they did, as he was making erroneous assumptions on their emotional state. He'd have to return to the drawing board.
When the summer break occurred, Naruto was able to make significant leaps in his sealing abilities, which lead to the increase in many of his other skills. As the summer break approached, the blond knew there were many things he wanted to get accomplished and without a plan he'd be inefficient. His Oji-san stressed the importance of efficient working habits, to maximize productivity. Naruto, trusting his Oji-san read several books on project management. He first identified his mission which was to find a means to address as many deficits in his shinobi skills as possible. First and foremost would be chakra control. In order to do this, he had to figure out why his chakra control was so bad in the first place.
He'd find his solution through seals. Volume 3 of his Fuinjutsu books was about manipulating chakra networks. This volume demonstrated how chakra suppressor, paralysis seals, shock tags and even resistance seals worked, how they connected to the chakra system and the effects on the body. The volume included a detailed diagram of the chakra system along with the placement of every tenketsu. Volume 4 included the beginnings of barrier and other security seals, include methods to detect chakra and motion. Naruto finished them the first month of his break and as they inspired him he didn't move on to any other volumes.
Naruto was determined to fix his chakra control. He experimented with twelve different designs, with dozens attempts at each, before he found a satisfactory sealing array to measure chakra. He was fortunate his Oji-san participated so he'd have a comparison. The blond was surprised when his chakra reserves were comparable to his Oji-san's and realized that was not normal. When he learned that he immediately went to the library to read up on chakra networks and it didn't take long to find that one's chakra network expanded as one aged/trained and chakra capacity expanded with it. He reasoned his network simply wasn't mature enough to handle his chakra and control exercises wouldn't fix that reality.
Naruto realized his reserves were basically flooding his network. He needed to find a way to direct the excess chakra away, find a method to expand his network so it could handle the flow of his chakra or both. As the blond sketched ideas about a supplementary chakra network he ran into a serious problem, there would be no way for him to apply this kind of seal unto himself. Another issue was the giant, complex seal found on his stomance. It wasn't until he ran to his Oji-san would he find a solution for one by discovering the other.
Hiruzen had no visible signs of distress as his favorite blond calmly inquired about the seal on his tummy. He sometimes forgot Naruto was a container, a sacrifice as he only saw his surrogate grandson. That the boy was generally low maintenance aided in that. If he asks a question, give him the information or cut a deal and Naruto would go on about his day. But the boy could be unpredictable. His early isolation made it difficult for him to express his or accurate gauge other people's emotions, He often had to verbalize how he was feeling and be told directly how others would as well.
Outside of the guilt of Naruto being affected in such a way, he simply didn't know how the boy would handle the information. He may accept it with no problem or it may overwhelm him. Hiruzen didn't want to take the chance so he did something that should have been below the God of Shinobi, he bribed the Uzumaki with a jutsu if he waited until he graduated to find out about the seal and didn't attempt to decipher it.
"I need a semi-autonomous clone. You got anything like that?"
"All corporal clones could fit that description, Naruto-kun."
"Hmm, what's the best clone jutsu?"
"Best is relative to the situation. In Ame or Kiri, the Water Clone is handy and not taxing. The Stone and Mud clones are durable."
"Are they all elemental clones?"
"No, there is another. It is quite taxing on one's chakra."
"Chakra I have."
"True. I know I'm going to regret this but I will teach you the Shadow Clone jutsu but Naruto-kun you are to never send your clone to school for you."
"Why would I do that? Wouldn't learn anything if I did."
"The clones transmit their memories and any unused chakra back to their creator once dispelled."
"Oh… this sounds like the greatest jutsu ever invented."
"My sensei would likely be honored you think so." Hiruzen said as he ran his hand across Naruto's hair, causing the boy to smile. He likely could handle Naruto's nature so much as it mirrored Tobirama-sensei's. He'd spoke often about Tobirama to Naruto, partially to reassure the boy that he could be a great ninja even with his quirks. The two traveled to a private training ground where Naruto would learn what would be his signature jutsu while enjoying a brisk fall day with his favorite person.
It would be two weeks before the start of the winter break before Naruto completed his supplementary chakra network seal. His clones painstakingly drew it on his body, having to draw very small seals on many of his tenketsu. It was a five hour process and he was glad he'd paid attention to the meditation unit at the academy. He may have loved to read but he was still energetic and often had to run around or train before he could really dig into his materials.
The clones activated the seal and it hurt for several seconds but the pain subsided after a few minutes. Naruto sat in the lotus position and did the chakra circulation exercise. He was amazed at how much more fluid his chakra flow was, how he didn't have to fight to direct it. He could feel the artificial network aiding in guiding the chakra. He performed that for an hour before attempting the clone jutsu. His clones still weren't right but there was progress. Naruto concluded he'd still have to work on chakra control, it just wouldn't be as hard nor would the ceiling for how much control he could obtain be really, really low.
Over the break, Naruto would assign several clones, his Oji-san limited him to five, to chakra control. They'd place leaves everywhere on their bodies for as long as they could. Naruto decided to tackle another problem. He'd noticed the clan children were starting to pull ahead in taijutsu. Naruto could best most of the non-clan children but he'd struggle with all of the clan kids, except the Nara who wouldn't even try.
This was not something he was happy about. He didn't want others to do poorly but he wanted to win, to be better if not the best. His Oji-san said that was a sense of competitiveness and rivalry. He said those were fine in moderation, that if Naruto ever felt he'd do anything to win against his comrades he'd gone too far. That, trying to be the best is fine but he shouldn't look down on others or forget that ultimately they were on the same side. It was good to have a label on the emotion and to know it should have limits.
But knowing what motivated him wasn't going to fix his problem. He spoke with his Oji-san at length about it. He didn't like the academy style, it felt too stiff and basic. Oji-san chuckled and said it was basic, that was the point. He said the Academy library had access to different styles but Naruto should have a general idea of what kind of style he wanted. Naruto nodded but frowned. Learning a new style without direction would lead him to a similar problem he was having now. Naruto and his clones would think on the problem the entire night. A solution wouldn't present itself until dawn.
The difficulties of self-teaching a taijutsu style is not knowing if the kata are correct and habitualizing mistakes or gaps in form. But he had no dedicated teacher nor family to aid him. That thought caused him discomfort but he ignored it. What he needed is a method to drill perfect form into him without needing someone to watch over him. Seals were going to be the solution. If, Naruto thought, he could create a seal that could record movement it'd be a start. He could then build an array that would use those pre-recorded movements as the baseline, as Naruto worked through the kata he could have a slight shock to alert him he'd done the movement wrong. No shocks meant he did it right.
This would be a highly advanced application of many of the techniques found in security seals. It'd be difficult but Naruto was confident he could figure it out, he'd only need to find someone good enough and willing to be recorded. And while that would solve one problem, it wouldn't be enough. Perfect kata doesn't make one a perfect fighter. He would still need someone to train against.
As winter set in throughout Fire Country, Naruto started the next volume. He'd practiced his calligraphy everyday and would have his clones reread the other texts as he absorbed new information, his Oji-san requested he remind about art but wouldn't explain why. The fifth volume was an introduction to intermediate sealing theory; it included new languages, ideas about chakra and a start on log and algorithms. The volume also discussed how to translate various elements of ninjutsu into fuinjutsu, focusing mainly on infusing elements into barriers and ideas on how to suppress jutsu. It was difficult for the Uzumaki, and he had to consult many outside texts and his Oji-san but he managed to work through it in three months time, finishing right before spring.
The sixth volume was focused on application. Techniques on increasing the speed one wrote, how to write on the move. How to etch seals into hard surfaces, such as rocks or foundations, to increase their stability. The technique, called Chakra Engraving, allowed for a concentrated micro blade of chakra to be made via a conduit. Chakra etching was rare because it took a long time compared to the ink based or the materialization methods but they were longer lasting and more secure from outside influenced as it took another etching to interact with the seal. It also required a good bit of chakra control, more than the leaf sticking exercise would grant. Luckily, the volume included directions on surface and various iterations of water walking. It would take a month and many complaining, freezing clones to master all those exercises. But it was worth it in the end as Naruto had taken to using senbon to etch and would do it for fun on the weekends.
By mid May, the nine year old Uzumaki had gotten his motion capture array down. However, it would end up being a small part of his overall development. He showed his Oji-san and explained his idea. He even had the style picked out. It was Pencak Silat, a style mostly practiced by the southernmost tribes during the Warring Clans era. It was rarely practiced now but his Oji-san knew someone that was familiar with it and agreed to request the Jounin's help. Naruto met the Jounin a week after the summer break began and the man was… unusual.
"Hello, you must be the most youthful Naruto-kun?" The bowl cut, green wearing enigma shouted. Naruto was located on the Hokage's private training ground. It had several clearings, a large pond and even some rock formations but was mostly obscured by extreme tall trees.
"Hai. Although, I'm not the youngest in my class so I'm not the most youthful." Naruto answered, his Oji-san stressed the importance of being honest outside of ninja missions.
"Hahahaha, youthfulness is not about age, Naruto-kun. Even our august Hokage is alight with the flames of youth!" Gai said and then adopted a nice guy pose. Naruto wasn't taken aback by his enthusiasm, it found it interesting.
"So, a metaphor?"
"Oh, ok, then. Should we get started? I don't want to take up too much of your time."
"Yosh, let's get started." Naruto put the sealing tags on any point of articulation on Gai and then activated the larger seal he had the taijutsu master stand on. He then watched, amazed, as Gai went through every kind of strike and jurus found in the discipline. Seeing the style in action reassured Naruto he'd selected correctly, it could be fast, flexible and unpredictable. It used the entire body for offense and defense while incorporating grapples and takedowns. The blond was also amazed by Gai's abilities, the man just breezed through the exercises.
Naruto was so focused on Gai he didn't even notice his Oji-san arrive along with a small monkey summons. When he got Naruto's attention, the Uzumaki was elated, his Oji-san called it, and even more so when he explained he wanted his summons to record some bukijutsu forms. Specifically for a quarterstaff, as it seemed to fit Naruto more and also for rattan sticks that were used in Escrima. Naruto wasted no time getting more seals ready for the summons, a white and gray haired male named Ubu. After Gai finished performing the training guides, Naruto thanked him and went to set Ubu up.
"He may not be able to expression it fully, but you've made him extremely happy, Gai. Thank you." Hiruzen said as he watched his summons and his surrogate grandson interact.
"It was the least I could do, Hokage-sama. And while I'm not expert, Naruto-kun seems to be something of a prodigy when it comes to fuinjutsu."
"I would have to agree. I went from worrying he'd fall out of a tree in some remote section of the village to him blowing himself up."
"Rambunctiousness is a feature of youth."
"I know, Gai, and I'd never begrudge him it. It makes him happy and he is progressing rapidly. Now, if I could only get him to apply himself in school so everyone else would know."
"Is he not doing well?"
"He does as well as he wants to do. He feels that much of the information the academy teaches is irrelevant. He argued once that if he were expected to memorize the names of the Hokage there wouldn't be so many books in the library about them."
Gai chuckled at that. "Excess of information must mean it isn't worth retaining for longer than you need it. The argument has a certain amount of logic to it."
"Oh, I know. But I don't want him walking around without common sense or basic facts so I just asked him to do it for me and he complied."
"Well, I must be off Hokage-sama but I created this exercise regimen for Naruto-kun, so he'll get the most out of his new taijutsu style."
"Thank you, again, Gai."
Gai's workout plan presented Naruto with another problem. Naruto wanted to get the most out of the routine and not push himself too hard, as he planned to use a modified resistance seal that went up percentages instead of full levels. But how could he track his progress in a precise way and chart his development? And to do so in a way that wouldn't require clones and a lot of equipment. He instructed his clones to think up a solution, all ten as his Oji-san let him increase his maximum. When he woke up the next day he was surprised by their solution. He'd need books on medical ninjutsu and genjutsu to make it work.
He decided to leave that to the clones and let them do most of the legwork. He loved working on fuinjutsu and reading new stuff but he simply felt it best to leave it to the clones while he trained his physical skills. Not just combat but also trapping and tracking, as it had been introduced during the most recent term. After applying the resistance seal, Naruto would wake up and run every morning. He'd alternate between normal and ninja running. He'd then do some stretching to increase his flexibility and some strength building exercises (various types of push ups, for example). Next, he'd roll out his seal and practice taijutsu and bukijutsu. He'd spend two hours on each, alternating days between staff and Escrima work. Except for Sundays, that would be his day of rest.
He'd hunt and forage for his lunch and take an hour break after. Then he'd practice his shuriken jutsu for an hour; he'd utilize kunai, shuriken and even senbon since he had them for etching. He'd do another round of stretching and then a cool down run before returning home for a shower and an afternoon of relaxation. That was how his summer went and besides for practicing chakra control or sparing him, his clones were dedicated to solving his latest problem. They were lucky to find what they needed at the library and the answers came from the same clan. Tsunade Senju for the medical part, Tokka Senju for the genjutsu. And Naruto was lucky as both books Healer & Fighter: A Combat Medic's Journey and Forest for the Trees: Illusions and You included the types of jutsu Naruto needed and additional exercises and ideas to improve chakra control.
The next year went much like the previous. The ten year old Uzumaki trained and studied, making time to visit his Oji-san and have ramen from the nice Ichiraku people. He started winning, occasional, against the clan heirs and even tried a little more in the theoretical segments. It got Iruka-sensei off his back and Naruto decided that was enough of a reason to do so. The only person he couldn't beat, yet, was Uchiha Sasuke. The boy just fought like defeat was death and Naruto got the impression the last Uchiha didn't see his classmates as future comrades. His Oji-san said the boy was lonely and in pain. Naruto didn't disagree but his eyes reminded him too much of the villagers at times and Naruto didn't want to deal with him anymore than he had to.
The Uzumaki slowly made his way through volume 7. It was about linking and merging sealing arrays, how to make different arrays compatible enough to be merged or how to build the bridge if they weren't. It also focused on other methods of activation like timers or changes in weight or temperature. There were several non-chakra methods to activate seals, experts could even use emotional states to activate a seal.
Since this book included even more advanced symbols and sealing languages Naruto had to work slowly. He also didn't want to divert the attention of his clones, who were making steady progress. Slow, but steady. The school year focused more on soft shinobi skills like infiltration and information gathering. Iruka-sensei spoke about being able to adopt different persona to fool others and what went into making a believable cover story. Iruka-sensei said the henge was a good short term solution but most shinobi could see through it. That didn't sound right to Naruto and it would plant a seed in his head for his first original jutsu.
It was the middle of July under the shade of a large tree Naruto Uzumaki almost vibrated with excitement. It was finally done, he was ready to activate his creation. If one were to see Naruto they would see him staring at a bracelet of beads, black with orange symbols. Nothing really stood out about them but that was only a trick. Naruto pulsed his chakra into the first bead and felt chakra feed back into him. It lit up for one minute before the invasion of chakra stopped. Naruto then fed chakra into a second bead and then a screen of information only he could see emerged. It had his height, weight, blood type, chakra characteristics and other information provided by the most basic diagnostic jutsu.
Naruto wanted to chart his progress and knew he needed detailed information about his body to do so, that's why Tsunade's book was so important. Tokka's book allowed him to feed that information into a genjutsu like projection, one only the person attuned to the bracelet could see. Naruto then pulsed chakra into the third bead and then took off. The third bead was a modified tracking seal, it would tell Naruto how far he ran and how fast. The diagnostic bead would keep track of his vitals and oxygen levels. There were eight beads in total, one was a protection barrier he could erect at any moment. Another a compressed storage seal. Not every bead was currently marked and Naruto was just so happy he got his year long project to work.
After his workout, Naruto looked at the information provided and smiled. He had his resistance seals off and now had a baseline. He decided he was going to really push himself these last two years in order to be as prepared as he could be. Naruto ran home and took a shower. Once he was out he put on some olive cargo shorts and a blue shirt with a white spiral at the center of his chest. His clones handed him another beaded bracelet and he slipped on his blue sandals before darting toward the Hokage Tower. Because he didn't have his resistance seals reactivated Naruto managed to move at an impressive speed.
He followed proper etiquette and was granted access to his Oji-san. The Sandaime was curious what had Naruto so excited and became even more so when the boy handed him a bracelet and commanded he put it on. Hiruzen did, trusting the boy.
"Oji-san, I got it to work. My project. I even engraved it myself so I made you one."
"What does it do, Naruto-kun?"
"You have to sync it to your chakra so no one else can use it. Then pulse it into those three beads. Then you'll see what it can do, just don't fight it." Hiruzen quirked his eyebrow but did as the boy said. He felt the chakra invade his system but knew it was his own so he was confused. Once it stopped, he repeated the process and felt another invasion and then saw his own vitals. He dismissed the view and activated the other beads, a storage seal and a tracking one meant to chart progress from training. The Hokage was near speechless.
"I-I'm so proud of you, Naruto. This is amazing." Naruto felt a familiar warmth bloom in his chest and it intensified when his Oji-san hugged him. He liked it.
For the next two years on a few things of note occurred for the Uzumaki. The first was making his first friend. It happened while he was training, he heard someone making noise and went to check it out. It was his classmate, Hyuuga Hinata and she was crying. They'd never really interacted before, outside of a him stepping in when she was getting bullied once. He didn't even know she was getting bullied, she just looked pained by what the boys were doing and wanted to understand why they were doing it. They were weirded out by his questions and left. He just shrugged and left as well.
His Oji-san once mentioned people sometimes like to be held or hugged when they cry. He said he did it with his grandson Konohamaru when he was a baby. Naruto figured if it were good enough for him it might work so he sat beside her and put one arm around her. She flinched, startled someone would touch or comfort her.
"Are you ok?" Naruto asked and the question surprised her. He was honestly asking, as if he truly didn't know the answer to the question. She shook her head "no" as she tried to gather herself. "May I ask what happened? My Oji-san says talking helps."
"I'm a failure."
"Oh, in what way?"
"As an heiress, in my family arts. My father doesn't find me suitable."
"Is he right?" Naruto asked and Hinata flinched again. He was confused. To fail would seemingly be pretty objective. He wondered if she were given nebulous parameters.
"Hai" she whispered lowly, wanting to curl in on herself.
"Then change it." He said neutrally. Normally, one would feel judged but Naruto said it so blankly Hinata was more confused than offended. "If you failed then there is a standard. You have to find out why you don't meet the standard and then create a plan to achieve your goal. It's how I started challenging the clan heirs when we sparred."
"I'm not strong like you, Naruto-kun." She'd seen the boy's improvements over their time at the academy and it seemed to be continuous.
"No, I don't imagine you would be." he said and she felt her heart ache. "You're strong like Hinata. So, you should build on that, not try to emulate some else." She chuckled when he nodded his head, sagely, after his words. "I train everyday and I don't know if you'd be interested but if you want to join me sometime and spar or whatever I'd do that."
"My Oji-san said we're all comrades and should be willing to help each other. Also, I don't know why but I don't like seeing people sad, it feels wrong. Also, failing at something is just a chance to succeed next time. I fail a lot because I try a lot."
"S-so, you're a proud failure?"
Naruto smiled, "I think I like that." Just as he finished he saw a kunoichi, appear before them. She had black, wavy hair, red eyes and a bandage dress. Naruto could only come to one conclusion, one he spoke with zero shame, "You're uncommonly attractive." The yet unidentified woman only smiled at the boy's forwardness. She'd heard about the Uzumaki and knew he meant nothing by it, only that it was true to him.
"Thank you, Uzumaki-kun but some women might get offended if you compliment them so boldly without knowing their names, at least."
"So, introduce ourselves and then tell you?"
"Hmm, maybe. It depends. Besides, if word gets around you call women attractive and you don't do it for some, they'll be offended."
"So, some will be offended if I do and others if I don't? This is confusing. I'm going to have to ask Oji-san about this. Well, I need to go, I'll see you around Hinata."
"Hinata," Kurenai started. "What your father said, it isn't true-"
"Yes, it is. But it doesn't have to stay that way."
After that day, the two trained together three times a week and because each other's best friends. Naruto was always honest with Hinata, willing to help her overcome any problem she identified and believed she could succeed. He could be blunt and awkward but she simply learned to speak his language. He had his own form of kindness and caring. Naruto got a different perspective on emotions and why people act the way they do. He'd never heard of shyness before Hinata, for instance. She also helped him with the ethics of creating and performing the sexy jutsu.
The second significant thing is Naruto completed the other three fuinjutsu volumes. Volume 8 was on juinjutsu. How to create them, how to counter them. It also included how to expand and condense arrays, how to see full arrays without activating the seals and methods of seal concealment and cloaking. Volume 9 was about space-time fuinjutsu/ninjutsu. Mostly it covered summoning and advancing storage seals to create stable pocket dimensions but it lead to Naruto's next project and the third significant thing. Volume 10 was about materialization as well learning to create complex seals on the fly from all the elements that had been covered. This Volume really leaned on the creative aspect of sealing, how all the languages, symbols and other information was the same. It was up to the fuinjutsu user to make it something unique.
His Oji-san was so proud of Naruto for completing all the volumes and he promised he'd get Naruto certified as a sealing master as soon as he graduated. The tests Naruto had to take were the official tests but he couldn't certify the results until Naruto was a shinobi. Naruto was hesitant, Hinata explained that one to him, as he saw how happy his Oji-san was but he had to ask the question. It startled the Sandaime so much he asked Naruto to repeat it.
"Is Yondaime-sama my father, Oji-san?"
"Yes." Hiruzen knew he could have lied but lying would have risked their relationship, he decided to trust Naruto instead. "I didn't tell you because your father had so many enemies, Naruto-kun and they would love nothing more than to get revenge by hurting you. I'm sorry I had to keep that knowledge from you."
"Did my mom and he, did they love me?"
"So very much. You'd never seen two people more excited about being parents. They'd be so proud of you, Naruto-kun. Both were masters of fuinjutsu and would be delighted you continued your clan's specialty."
"I'm an actual Uzumaki?"
"Yes. Kushina Uzumaki was your mother." Hiruzen watched as Naruto processed the information. He shifted through several faces and Hiruzen felt the need to ask, "Naruto-kun, how are you feeling?"
"I-I don't know. Like I miss something I never had."
"Wistful, Naruto-kun. It means yearning or longing, that's what you're feeling."
"Oh. I don't think I like it. I think it's making me sad and I don't like that either."
Hiruzen went and hugged his grandson. "I know, my boy, I know. But even negative emotions should be felt as they are a part of you and can help you grow. It shows even if they were taken from you so early, you three were bonded and that goes beyond life and death. Don't let your emotions control you but don't deny them either. They make you human, they make you real." He felt the boy nod his head against his chest as he rubbed his back soothingly.
The two would speak about his parents, Naruto enraptured by the details. Hiruzen promised to start funneling his inheritance to him as soon as he opened up an account at a shinobi bank but made it clear Naruto was to tell no one until he was at least a Chunin but preferably a seasoned Jounin. Naruto agreed and they party company, the boy seeming lighter.
The final significant event was Naruto learning what he contained. It felt weird, knowing what so many people were afraid of, that he and the seal couldn't really hold back the Kyuubi. It also felt weird knowing his dad did it and his mom was once a Jinchuuriki, the term his Oji-san used. Oji-san said there was little choice and it would have been dishonorable to select another child. He said no one knew of Naruto's status until the age of three and he promised if he ever discovered who leaked it he'd murder them where they stood. Naruto told him it was ok, it was good to know. He didn't feel much in the way of negativity. The people hadn't been very welcoming but there wasn't much to do. Besides, he had Oji-san and Hinata and even Yuhi-san. That proved he could make connections. So, that's what he'd do.
As Naruto sat beside Hinata, reminiscing about the last several years he barely noticed Hinata take a seat beside him. He smiled at his friend, acknowledging her arrival and she smiled back. Hinata had changed over the last two years. She was still quiet and reserved but not as shy or insecure. They had fought and struggled but gained a sense of confidence in herself. She realized there was no magic to improving oneself. It was just hard work. And while she may have been easily discouraged in the past, she was not afraid of hard work; she just had to realize there wasn't some personality trait she was lacking. Everyday she, with the help of her friend and her caretaker, she pushed herself. The developments hadn't gone unnoticed within her clan, even if her father hadn't recanted his previous statements about her overall worth.
"Hi, Naruto-kun." she said. The Hyuuga heiress was wearing a two tone lavender jacket, blue pants with matching sandals. She wore her headband around her neck and her hair was to her shoulder blades.
"Good morning, Hinata." Naruto said. He'd also allowed his hair to grow out, the spikes staying as prevalent as before, two framing his face and hanging over his headband. He wore an orange and black jacket with a red Uzumaki spiral on the back. His paints were black as well were his sandals, those coming up to his shins. Naruto still wore his beaded bracelet at all times. Hinata wore hers as well, the beads an indigo color with white irises patterned throughout. He'd given her the collect of seals six months ago as a token of their friendship and she treated it like the most precious of jewels.
After the brief greeting the two sat in silence, observing the classroom and waiting patiently. Their silence was ruined by two newly minted kunoichi charging in, arguing about who would sit next to Uchiha Sasuke. The two continued on until Iruka-sensei yelled at them to take a seat. They did but not before Sakura glared at him and Ino winked at him. Naruto simply waved back, really not understanding why Sakuran-san was so mad at him.
Soon after he turned twelve he told Sakura, Ino and Hinata that once they all reached sexual maturity he would be willing to engage in sexual acts with them as they'd likely be very attractive. He didn't think it was a big deal since it was four years away. Sakura-san freaked out and tried to hit him, which she failed to do. Ino laughed and said he was much too forward. Hinata blushed and explained it was indecent to make such an offer with girls he barely knew. He ahh'd and never brought it up again but Sakura-san has had a sincere dislike of him ever since.
"Now, I will announce your teams, do not interrupt me." Iruka-sensei said and began listing the teams.
Some distance away, Hiruzen shepherded Kakashi through Naruto's apartment. It was a decent sized apartment for a child. A living room with a red couch and chair. A coffee table and television. There was also a desk in the corner with books stacked on it. There was also a weapons stand containing a wood quarterstaff and two rattans.
The kitchenette had a standard two sided sink, stove/oven, and shelf space above and below the counters. Kakashi rummaged through the shelves and the fridge. He was mildly surprised at what he found, fruits, vegetables, nuts and recently hunted game. Dairy products as well. The cabinets had instant ramen and granola along with necessary pantry items to cook.
"Not what I'd expect from a lifelong orphan."
"He asked me to teach him how to shop when he read a book about shinobi diets."
"Hm. Why did you need to come along with me, Hokage-sama?"
"You wouldn't have gotten in otherwise." Hiruzen said and saw Kakashi's disbelief. "He's finished all ten of the fuinjutsu volumes. Tested and passed each exam. He's a certified Seal Master." The dog summoner hid his shock well. "Do you understand what I'm telling you, Kakashi?"
"Hai. Even if he should fail the test he has to be a shinobi. Too much potential not to."
"Yes. Also, he knows about his parents and very likely knows or will know you were his father's student."
"Great. Anything else I should know?"
"You know about how he processes and shows his emotions, yes?" The Jounin nodded. "Then, that should be enough to go on.
"Ok, I should have enough to go on. I will depart, Hokage-sama." Hiruzen nodded and Kakashi left. Hiruzen did as well and felt the security measures return as soon as he closed the door. He took one last look at the door and hoped he'd made the right decision. As Naruto was in the top ten of the class he shouldn't be on Kakashi's team but he felt he owed the young Jounin. Hiruzen hoped he hadn't done right by one party only to do wrong by another and dreaded the reality that only time could tell.
Kakashi arrived to the training ground and expected all three of his potential students to be hungry and irate. Two were, though only the girl voiced her displeasure. 'So much for the shinobi rules.' Kakashi thought. The blond was fine. Which could only mean one thing.
"You ate, didn't you?"
"Even though it went against my orders?"
"Bad orders, Hatake-san." Kakashi simply eye smiled, then retrieved two bells from his pocket.
"You have one hour to obtain these bells. The one who doesn't gets sent back to the Academy."
'How is there a 2/3rd's fail rate if two of us can get the bells?' Naruto wondered. The others likely would have as well if not hungry and anxious. 'Something isn't right here.'
"You may begin." Stated Kakashi after setting the timer and two of them went to hide. The one remaining was the Uzumaki, his face neutral.
"Shouldn't you be hiding?"
"No, from the Shinobi tactics book I've read hiding is unsound. You have what we want, you have no reason to pursue us. Our inaction benefits you. And as we had no agreed upon plan or even rendezvous point, the other two didn't retreat with the goal of working with me or each other."
"Hm." The Copy Ninja said but he couldn't disagree. While he would go after them, if this were a real life situation he'd have no reason to do so. He pulled out his book to read, hoping to get a rise out of the blond specifically, or one of the others. It didn't work. To his confusion, the chibi Yondaime threw a purse of ryo coins at him.
"Jounin Hatake Kakashi-san, I would like to enter negotiations for your services."
"Oh, and what would you like me to do?"
"A retrieval mission."
"Can I have a bell?"
"No, sorry. If you want one you'll have to take it." Sasuke and Sakura both thought Naruto was an idiot for trying to bribe their sensei and avoid putting forth any effort. They saw Naruto touch one of his beads and then kunai and shuriken started coming from nowhere, all aimed at Kakashi-sensei. Kakashi saw the weapons and decided to perform a quick substitution but as soon as he gathered the chakra it dispersed and he felt himself go rigid. The projectiles passed right through him, they were simple clones. He saw the blond rub his chest.
"Pleased. I think this is pleased. Hatake Kakashi-san, please give me the parameters of the real test." Kakashi said nothing but inwardly was impressed.
"The bells are clearly for the taking, Naruto-kun."
"Hai. They are also a decoy, at least to some extent. Now, please explain."
"Sorry, no can do."
"I could beat you until you did."
"Trust me, kid, you don't have the skills nor the time to break me."
"Yea, I figured as much. Must be teamwork then. Since the state objective is false. You clearly aren't testing us on ruthlessness. Also two bells but two will fail? The math doesn't shake out."
"Well done, Naruto. You want to release me?"
"Not until Sasuke and Sakura grab the bells." When Naruto said that his teammates came from their hiding spots and did exactly that. Naruto ended the seal and Kakashi could feel his chakra flowing again.
"How did you do it, Naruto?"
"It was smart staying here so late but 2:30am simply wasn't late enough. I prepped the field after you left."
"How did you trigger it, you didn't emit any chakra."
"Didn't need chakra." Naruto said and Kakashi thought quickly, reaching the conclusion at speeds only geniuses could. He realized Naruto used a pressure trigger, the coins was likely to make up for Naruto not knowing his specific weight. The chakra for the substitution was the final activation. Kakashi had been led around by the nose, by a fresh from the academy genin. That was embarrassing.
"Well, you are team for a probationary period."
"Why a probationary period?" Sasuke asked.
"Naruto broke the test. You know what to do so there would be no point in retesting you. Be back here tomorrow at 7 am sharp," Kakashi said, shunshining away afterward.
"Way to go, idiot."
"Yea, thanks, dummy."
"I'd prefer you not insult me. I don't like it. Besides, neither of you knew the secret of the test and I have no reason to assume you would have figured it out. I will see you tomorrow." Naruto said and then departed. Neither Sasuke nor Sakura could argue with his statements. Kakashi arrived to the Sandaime's office, being granted immediate entry. When he walked in he saw a room full of Jounin and the Sandaime all smirking at him. He then saw the crystal ball on the Sandaime's desk and slouched.
"Team 7, provisional pass." he said and everyone started laughing. It would be a long time before the Copy Ninja lived down getting subdued by a brat.
So, this came from the idea of Naruto creating a shinobi fitbit. Consider this the Seals are easy People are Hard challenge. I may return to this but it's up for grabs as well. Rules:
NARU/HINA though harems are allowed. No more than four members.
Hiruzen and Orochimaru must die at the end of the Suna/Oto invasion.
Naruto is a pervert but doesn't realize it. He'll be confused as to why Jiraiya is considered a Super Pervert but so bad at it.
Yami Naruto has to be met at some point and can't straightforwardly be Naruto's negative emotions. Get creative.
No Civilian/Shinobi council. Just the Hokage and the advisors.
Bijuu aren't demons, Naruto won't get any tails. Kurama is just Kurama.