Chapter 1

Keiko sat up in bed and stretched, another day in paradise! Her long wavy black hair cascaded down her shoulders and back as she grabbed her brush from her nightstand. She needed to brush it right away or the tangles would become matted. Her hair was one of her pride and joys. She may be a Chunin of the Hidden Leaf but she was still a sixteen year old girl, appearance was important. She grabbed her hair band and put her hair back into a high ponytail with ease, her bangs swooping over her forehead and small tousles of hair dangling on either side of her face.

She moved from her bed to her closet, getting ready for her day. When she was done she looked at herself in the mirror on her bedroom door. Deep navy hakama covered her legs, reaching down to just above her ankles. She had adopted the standard shinobi shoes, finding them easier to maneuver in compared to her casual sandals. Her hakama cinched around her waist, showing her slender figure. Her kimono was tucked into her hakama. It crossed over her chest, never revealing too much though she could always change that if a mission called for it. She frowned at that thought, staring at her slightly above average chest. Memories of needing to play the damsel or prostitute for a mission flashed in her mind and she pouted. It wasn't the most dignified.

Keiko did love the top. It was one of her favorites. It was three quarter sleeve and the sleeves were big and open, leaving her free to move. The borders of the sleeves and the cross-section on her chest was a deep blue, and the remaining fabric was white, with intricate blue patterns. She finished off her outfit with the fishnet sleeve on her left arm and her fingerless gloves.

The colors did wonders for her eyes, making them even more vibrant. Like a pristine blue spring. She was a foreign sight in Konoha, as exotic as they come. Her skin was almost as pale as the snow of her homeland. Her hair served as a stark contrast, black as night with no tint of blue or red like some others in Konoha. Keiko was thankful for her thick black lashes and delicate black brows, if not for them she would be nothing but washed out.

She turned once or twice in the mirror, inspecting herself before nodding and heading out of her bedroom into the living area. It was small and quaint, cozy. She had small mementos from her numerous missions around the Land of Fire and beyond, scattered around her apartment. A couch, a radio, and some other furnishings, but nothing extravagant.

Looking at the time she grabbed some bread from her counter, popping the bun into her mouth to hold as she picked up her headband and fastened it around her forehead. She made sure her thick swooping bangs were free to hang naturally over the headband. Lastly, she grabbed her pouch of kunai and shuriken, fastening it to her side before grabbing the bread from her mouth and walking out to work. It was only work, so she didn't need her swords.

She gave a gentle smile and a nod to those passing by, gathering an odd look every once in a while. There used to be even more strange looks when she first arrived. Keiko remembered when her and her father first set foot in Konoha. The guards had been less than pleased with two outsiders, but when her father said he wanted to help with the construction, they were more inclined to allow them in. After they did a thorough background check that is. After having their village attacked by a tailed beast she couldn't blame them.

It was for that reason as well that she was even able to get into the ninja academy. The Fox had killed many good ninja, and they needed to up their numbers. She flew through the academy swiftly, graduating to Genin within a year, and achieving Chunin just a few years later. Even so, her background didn't help her much. She had proven her loyalty to the Village time and time again, though most still saw her as a foreigner.

Keiko happened to pause upon noticing her reflection in a passing window. She couldn't blame them. There were no ninja in her homeland. Samurai kept the peace in the Land of Iron. She could still remember the icy mountains and the frigid winters. It had been six years since she had last seen them. The great ninja villages had a silent pact to not interfere with the Land of Iron, and in return the Land of Iron stayed out of their way. Stories still made their way through about the ninja. She had idolized them, dreamed of being one, so when the opportunity rose, she snatched it up.

There were those in the Land of Iron that told her the Shinobi were without honor. They would kill their comrades if it meant saving themselves. Keiko had never agreed with that line of thought. Instead of backstabbing good-for-nothings, she saw resourceful and quick witted foes. For as long as she could remember, she wanted to fight. To prove to herself and others that she could become strong. It was something her homeland could not provide, but in Konoha she was allowed to flourish.

Her reflection in the mirror stared back at her, she shook her head and kept moving. She would never forget her uncle, her teacher. He had spoken to her the day her and her father left, 'Never forget where you came from. Your roots are your foundation, but you choose which light to reach for.' She smiled remembering his words. It had been so long but she could still clearly remember his voice.

She honored her homeland everyday with the clothes she wore, though in Konoha most people found it odd. Her attire was more formal, for people from money or who were noble born, she was neither. Just a simple daughter of a foreign construction worker.

She finally made it to her destination as the bell rang, "Keiko!" She met the eyes of Iruka as he waved and she waved back at him.

"Iruka! Good morning!" She beamed at her friend. She had known Iruka for several years. They had been in the same class at the academy, though at that time she didn't pay attention to him at all. He was the class clown. But, now, they were both Chunin and had began to work in the academy. Iruka had his own classes while Keiko would work in the library.

"Still wearing the get-up, huh?" He teased.

"This is who I am. Can never forget that." She said with a matter of fact smile. She was a few weeks in to her job at the academy and she loved working with the kids. This was the perfect downtime for her between missions. Her mood soured slightly but she didn't let it touch her expression, 'When I finally get a mission...' It all came back to her background, the Village didn't trust her. She was always sent on missions with already established groups and never was assigned to her own. Keiko had had her Genin partners, but they distanced themselves from her once she became a Chunin.

Her day was spent mainly in the library. She did her best to make the most of it, helping the youths with their reports and telling them about the history of the world they lived in. Some students were better than others, but she could never get enough of that giddy excitement they would get when they were truly learning about something that interested them. Keiko hoped that eventually she would be able to help them with more physical training.

When the noon bell rang for lunch it was her turn to help watch the yard. She would watch the students play with each other, talk, gossip, be kids. A small part of her was envious, she didn't have much of a childhood, at least not like theirs. It wasn't anything tragic, just nearly endless training after the age of five. Even when she would have had the time to frolic, there were no children her age to play with.

Keiko did her rounds, watching the students when something caught her eye. No, someone. They crouched behind a bush at the edge of the yard. They were pretty easy to spot as their bright blond hair contrasted strongly with the greenery.

They didn't seem to notice her walk up to them, they were too busy watching the students play. When she was behind him she crouched down, he still hadn't noticed her yet and she found that fact amusing.

After a minute she finally spoke, "What's your name?"

The boy gasped and jumped away from her, fear evident in his eyes. After a moment he answered hesitantly, "N-Naruto."

The name sounded familiar though she couldn't place it. She offered him a gentle smile, "Nice to meet you Naruto, I'm Keiko Takahashi." She watched as the boys eyes turned from fear, to shock, to confusion. He eyed her wearily, an odd expression for someone so young, "How old are you Naruto?"

He was silent before answering, "Six."

She nodded in understanding, that's why she didn't recognize him. He was too young to be in classes. Had he been born a handful of years before he could be a year or two in. Since the ending of the last ninja war they were admitting children at the age of seven or eight. "You're a little young for the academy, don't you think?" She offered kindly.

His big blue eyes watched her. They were a richer and darker blue than her own, like a deep pool. "Aren't you going to tell me to go away?"

Her smile faltered and she cocked her head to the side, "Now why would I do that?"

"Everyone always does." He moped, his bottom lip jutting out in a pout.

Her heart melted at the sight. He was just too cute. After a moment she put two and two together, "Do the children do that to you too?"

Naruto nodded. She was going to say something reassuring when a sudden fire ignited in his blue eyes, "I'll show all of them! Once I'm old enough, I'll go to the academy, and then I'll be Hokage!" His tiny hands balled into fists in front of his chest.

Keiko's eyes widened, "Lofty goals for such a small man."

"I'll show you too, you'll see!" He balled his little fists and bounced in determination.

"I'm sure you will." She said with a chuckle. Naruto froze at her words, no one had ever said anything like that to him before. Not when he proclaimed his dreams. They scoffed, told him to give up among other things. "How about this," she began, "if the other children won't play with you, how about I take you around a bit after school? If your parents are okay with that."

She knew instantly she hit a nerve. Naruto looked away, "I don't have parents."

An orphan then. Her heart swelled and her eyes softened, "Who takes care of you?"

"Myself... Old man Hokage comes around sometimes, I guess."

She blinked. Keiko couldn't believe what she was hearing. That wouldn't do at all. Everything in her told her it was wrong. Her uncle hammered it into her to always do the right thing, and what she saw before her was the wrong thing. It almost made her blood boil.

"K-Keiko?" Naruto questioned, seeing the anger build in her eyes. There it was, she was going to yell at him. Finally when he thought maybe someone was being genuinely nice to him!

She shook her head, "Sorry, Naruto, I was lost in thought." Naruto didn't buy it but continued to listen. "I get done here in a few hours, why not meet me here? We can spend some time together. Maybe get some sweets."

Naruto felt his heart skip a beat and he couldn't contain his excitement, "Yeah! That sounds awesome!"

Keiko smiled, saying farewell to the boy who swore he would be there when the academy got out for the day. When she returned to the library she began sorting book and scroll returns. As she placed books and scrolls into the proper bins to be put back on the shelves she heard a voice, "I heard you met the troublemaker."

She looked up into the eyes of Iruka who stood with his arms crossed. "Hmm?" she questioned. None of the students were acting out more than they had been before.

"I mean, Naruto." He finished bluntly.

"Oh, I thought he was a sweet child, very cute." Iruka didn't say anything, she could see the internal conflict behind his eyes. "He's a small child with a lot of ambition. He wants to be Hokage, if you heard him maybe you would believe him." She left out the part about him being alone, a part of her had a hunch he knew that already. His body language said more than his words. He didn't like the boy, or at least didn't know what to make of him. She couldn't understand how Iruka, or anyone for that matter, could dislike such a sweet boy.

When the final bell rang she was excited to get out of the school and see the little rascal. She had a few ideas of where to take him to get a hot meal. From the sound of it he didn't get a good meal all too often. Unfortunately, her work took her a little longer than she would have liked. When she did get outside of the school it was silent, eerily silent.

Suddenly, the hair on the back of her neck stood as a man appeared before her. He was nearly half a foot taller than her and she knew instantly he was Anbu. What had she done to get their attention? "Keiko Takahashi." His voice said dully from behind his white dog-like mask. He sounded bored.

"Yes?" She could feel the bundle of nerves explode in her stomach, the fear buried there. Keiko would not show the fear though, she refused.

Keiko hardly had any time to react before she felt a strong hand hit a few pressure points on her back and her world succumbed to darkness.

Quick note. This story is a slow burn. Meaning that there will not be romance right away. I focus on building relationships as naturally as I can, and while doing so build your understanding of my OC. I've always wanted to make a Naruto Fanfiction and Kakashi is my favorite character. You will see more and more of him as time goes on, give it a chance. I promise it gets good.

There is SO MUCH lore to Naruto so apologies to the hardcore fans if I mess up some of the more minor details.

Like any writer, I love feedback. If this beginning intrigued you, Favorite, Follow, and Review! It helps keep the motivation flowing. Thanks everyone! Hope to see you soon!

Posted - 4/28/2021
Edited - 7/12/2021