Kishimoto is the creator and owner of Naruto.

2 of 2 today.


Chapter Twenty-One




"Coming!" Naruto called as he ran towards the front door where Hinata was waiting, struggling to attach the strap of his katana's sheath to his belt.

"You've got it wrong." Hinata sighed as she plucked the recalcitrant strap from Naruto's hands. "Turn around."

Naruto obeyed Hinata's instructions and she sighed.

"You needed to loop the strap before attaching it to the belt."

Blushing, Naruto retreated long enough to detach the strap, loop the top end through the buckle and slide his belt through the end metal loop so that it sat almost over his spine. When he buckled his belt and adjusted the strap, the sword sat perfectly with the hilt poking up over his right shoulder, ready for him to unsheath and strike in a single movement.

"I don't think you'll need your sword today." Hinata pointed out and Naruto unsheathed it, holding it out for her to look at.

"It's a training sword." Naruto explained, turning it slightly so that Hinata could see that it's edge was blunted. "It's got the same weight and balance as a proper Katana, but as you can see, the edge is rounded off. This way, I can practise my katas and get used to carrying it without risking cutting my own feet off or something like that. I still need to get that growth spurt Kaa-san said I'd get, I don't want to get called stumpy too."

Hinata giggled at Naruto's deadpan comment, then pointed to his sandals.

"We need to get going or you'll be late for your first day."

"Right!" Naruto grabbed his first sandal and donned it, then picked up the other one to put on as well. Hinata winced as Naruto promptly failed to keep his balance.

"I'm okay!"



Umino Iruka looked at the class in front of him with a sense of pride. Of the seven classes which the original shinobi-hopefuls had joined, only enough students remained for two classes, the rest having been winnowed out for reasons ranging from lack of physical capability to an inability to follow instructions which would prove fatal in the field, if not for themselves than for those who they were deployed with.

Those who remained had proven themselves to have the potential to be great shinobi (as had those in the other class) and Iruka intended to win the unofficial competition between teachers for the most graduates able to reach Chunin.

Glancing down at his noted, Iruka clapped his hands for silence, his eyes taking in the new empty seat beside Hinata, who was glancing at the door eagerly. Hiding a smile, Iruka let his gaze travel over the students arrayed before him before speaking.

"Welcome back. Today marks the start of your final year in learning to become a Shinobi of Konoha. It also marks the arrival of a new arrival, one who has studied independently and is now joining your ranks. Enter!"

The door slid open and the blond boy who had been waiting outside stepped in. Moving to stand beside the desk, he turned to face the watching children and bowed.

Iruka's eyebrow twitched as Ino let out a squeak, blushing furiously as she stared hungrily at the boy. Sat beside her, Sakura reacted in a similar fashion, although in a quieter way.

"Please introduce yourself." Iruka prompted and the boy nodded.

"My name is Senju Ruto, the youngest son of Senju Tsunade. I have been trained in many of the ways of the Shinobi of the Leaf and I hope to complete my education here, proving myself worthy of wearing a Hitai-ate. My older brothers Kashi and Kimimaro, as well as my brother in all but blood Haku, are already taking missions for Konoha and I look forwards to the day when I can stand by their side, my sword ready to strike with theirs."

"So coool!" Ino squeaked.

"An excellent introduction, Ruto." Iruka noted. "I believe you know Hinata. You can sit by her."

Ino and Sakura both looked shocked as Ruto moved to sit next to the beaming Hyuuga.

"Now, let us begin by summarizing what we have learned so far…" Iruka began.


"…is every day like this?" Naruto's question was almost a complaint as they left the classroom to have lunch and Hinata nodded, causing him to groan.

"What? how does knowing the name of the third shinobi from the left in some old pictures help in the field? It's not like we could defeat an enemy through throwing names at them."

"For one, it helps in countering infiltration attempts." A new voice offered as a black-haired boy joined them. "It gives us more information to draw upon in order to counter those trying to deceive us. Uchiha Sasuke, at your service. My older brother will soon be Hokage."

"Itachi!" Naruto clicked his fingers. "I've met him. He helped Kaa-san defeat a man called Gato who was trying to enslave all of Wave."

"Nii-san told me about that mission." Sasuke confirmed. "He also described the treehouse. Hinata-san was kind enough to let me see the one in the Hyuuga compound. It was apparently built by the same people and to the same plan?"

"Tazuna-san made the plans and oversaw them both." Naruto confirmed. "He's awesome. He designed the bridge which is being built between Wave and Fire… I helped with it!"

"You did?" Hinata blinked, then glanced at Sasuke who also seemed surprised by the fact that they had both asked the question at the same time.

"Yeah." Naruto's smile was tinged with remembered irritation. "Kaa-san decided that since I was getting bored with my normal exercises, so she decided that I could help with moving tools and lumber and stuff. I tell you, I got loads of chakra-control exercise running across the water to deliver buckets of nails and stuff to the workers as they put the footings in place."

"…you ran across the water?" Sasuke repeated and Naruto nodded.

"Yeah. It was easier when they got the beams up, I could run along those instead, although kaa-san insisted that I ran along the sides or underneath instead of the top…"

Sasuke stared at the masked blond in shock, then turned his gaze to Hinata who nodded.

"He taught me how to tree-walk as well."

"Any chance you could teach me too?" Sasuke asked. "It sounds very useful."

"Can you teach me as well?" Ino asked as she almost seemed to teleport behind Naruto and started to throw her arms around his shoulders, only to find herself being yanked away and flipped onto the floor.

"Yamanaka-san, I trust that you are not seeking to try and seduce my fiancee?" Hinata asked in a cold tone and Sasuke's eyebrows rose.

"Huh, so you're that Ruto…"

"Ino, are you being troublesome again?" A voice yawned as a skinny brown-haired boy ambled up. "Nice throw, by the way. I see that you're going to study Kenjutsu, just like your brothers."

Naruto looked at him curiously, then the description he had been given suddenly snapped into focus.

"You must be Nara Shikamaru! My brothers told me about you!"

The lazy genius raised a quizzical eyebrow.



"I see that someone gave you a team, Gai." The voice noted and the black-haired taijutsu specialist froze, almost unable to believe his ears.


"Yo." Kakashi dropped out of the tree and ambled towards the flabbergasted Jonin. "Nice hairstyle."

Gai reached up to stroke the spiky hair. "I… I adopted it in memory of you… although I see that I should have grown it longer and placed it in a ponytail instead. It does explain why I failed to recognize you back at the Suna Exams, though."

"Did you say something?"

For a long moment, the two men remained motionless, ignoring the quizzical looks that the three genin were giving them, then suddenly Gai was embracing the newcomer.

"Gai! Air!"

Gai let Kakashi fall back to the ground and stepped back, his eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "My eternal rival! You have finally returned to Konoha! I assume you were on a deep cover mission which required you to fake your death?"

"I was… and it is classified."

Gai caught the glance that Kakashi gave his team and didn't hesitate."Three laps around Konoha. Go!"

Even as the trio vanished, Kakashi made several hand-signs and a slight rippling surrounded them.

"A distortion technique." Gai noted.

"You made a deduction." Kakashi prompted and Gai nodded.

"I have. Senju Ruto is obviously the lost son of the Yondaime."

Kakashi blinked. "That… is quite the deduction."

"It is only logical." Gai shrugged. "I do not know how his death was framed, but from how you didn't say farewell, it was obviously an unplanned mission. Using the corpse of a child to fake the boy's death was rather cold, though…"


Gai nodded as the single word clarified the situation for him.

"I see. He planned to seize the Yondaime's son and you took advantage of his plan to snatch his prize out of his hands." Gai tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I assume that encountering Tsunade-sama was mere happenstance?"

Kakashi nodded, impressed despite himself.

"The I understand and although it hurts me that you did not let me know before now as to your survival, I agree that doing anything other than what you did would have left young Ruto in mortal jeopardy." Gai reached out and clapped Kakashi on his shoulder. "It is great to see you again, my rival."

"Good to see you again too, Gai." Kakashi admitted. "Good to see you again too."

"I must ask, though," Gai frowned, "Why did Kimimaro and Haku choose not to use the Senju mansion?"

"…there are actually some serious problems with the foundations." Kakashi admitted. "It will cost a lot of money to set right, especially unblocking the sewers and replacing the water mains."





"I think that you are almost ready to take the Hat." Hiruzen smiled proudly. "I trust that you will not mind if I stay on just long enough to oversee the graduation of the final class."

"Senju Ruto." Itachi noted and Hiruzen nodded. "I understand perfectly, sir."

"Of course, things will have to change a bit." Hiruzen looked at his two advisers. "For one, having your father as an Adviser would raise a few eyebrows…"

"Agreed." Itachi replied calmly. "My apologies, father, but…"

"I understand." Fugaku shrugged slightly. "I have no objections, but who do you intend to ask to take my place?"

"I was considering Aburame Shibi and Inuzuka Tsume for the positions." Itachi admitted. "Between Shibi-san's logic and Tsume-san's bone-deep loyalty to Konoha, they should hopefully provide balancing views."

"And also bring the two clans closer." Hiashi gave a nod of approval. "The Aburame have often been seen as insular… quite a bit like my clan, come to think of it."

"Ours, too." Fugaku admitted, a wry smile briefly appearing on his face.



Orochimaru stared at the paper, then up at the agent who had brought it to him.

"This is confirmed?"

The agent shrugged. "I don't know, sir. I was instructed to bring this to you. I wasn't told what was in it. What I don't know, I can't be made to reveal."

Orochimaru nodded in reluctant approval, then waved for the messenger to leave. If only his best spy wasn't currently stuck in Wave with his old team-mate…

Shaking off the rising anger, Orochimaru stalked through his base. Entering his private chambers, he dropped into a meditative pose and closed his eyes, re-opening them to find himself in a huge, dark chamber. A moment passed, then a chakra silhouette formed in front of him, eyes opening to reveal the rippled circles of the fabled Rinnegan.

"There has been a development, Pein-sama…" Orochimaru began.



Hinata smiled as she let Ruto escort her home. Now that the boy she adored and admired was residing in Konoha, she knew that the future would be brighter.

So much had changed. She often listened to the Elders talking about how there had been two Hyuuga Clans before her kidnapping had forced the previously-resisted uniting of the branches. Some of the stories gave her chills, but now, the Hyuuga clan stood as one against the enemies of Konoha.

As she would stand beside the boy who helped save her years ago and who resided in her heart.

And when the time came, her father had promised to petition the Hokage to ensure that she was on the same team as him.

All was right with the world…






And this is the point where this story ends, although I intend to do the sequel showing their progress up to and beyond the Chunin Exams.

I hope you enjoyed it, although the sheer number of butterflies released will make planning out the future timeline difficult. When Zabuza shows up, he will have a different helper. Gaara is already aware that there is someone who can overpower his sand, he now has a reason to learn more of the traditional Shinobi skills rather than just relying on Shukaku. Orochimaru has recruited a different leader for his Sound Five and so on.

The pieces are in place and once I've planned it out, it will begin.

Of course, if anyone wants to branch their own story off this, then they are welcome.