Naruto: Set in Stone

by The SOC Puppet

Chapter 2 – Safe Haven

Summary: The Leaf Village, fearful of the baby boy who was the Ninetails' vessel, pressured the Third Hokage into "disposing" of Naruto, leaving him out in the forest, where Yamazaki Mizuki, wife of the Fifth Tsuchikage, discovered him and took him back to the Hidden Stone Village to be raised by her family. The only problem is…they don't know that yet.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of the characters in this story, except for originals that may pop up along the way. All jutsus are also not my property, other than the ones I think up.

" " – Speech

Italics – Thoughts

"Daimaru, why is your father laughing? He never laughs. Even when he does, it's sarcastic or he's about to start sneering."

Yamazaki Daimaru, Fifth Tsuchikage of the Stone, shrugged. Nothing in the village had been quite the same after Mizuki and her team had brought back more than just information from the Leaf Village. Seeing his father cradling the orphaned Leaf baby and laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Not really sure. You might want to take the kid away from him before something happens."

Yamazaki Kantaro scoffed at his son's suggestion, wiping the tears from his eyes as he sat in his favorite chair. The Fifth and his wife had surprised the retired Fourth Tsuchikage there, while enjoying his morning pipe.

"Nonsense. Just because you don't get the joke doesn't mean I'm crazy."

Looking down at the baby in his arms, Kantaro smiled, and looked back up at Mizuki, who blinked. That was certainly a new experience for her.

"Mizuki, my dear, I must apologize. Here I was, thinking that you were going to be the end of the Yamazaki Clan, and now you bring me this little treasure. I stand corrected. You have saved this family."

Daimaru regarded the blonde-haired baby now being happily dandled on his father's knee.

"I don't understand, Father. Why are you so enthusiastic about this child when you've been so adamant only a blood Yamazaki can continue the line?"

"Any old child you find in an orphanage would hardly improve the strength of our Clan. This child is different."

"Because he is the vessel of the Ninetails?"

"Partly. There is something that all of you have failed to see in him, and that is the true reason would I gladly accept him as my grandson. Mizuki, would you bring our latest copy of the Ninja Almanac to me? The one that details all of the villages, please."

Intrigued, Yamazaki Mizuki plucked the book in question off her father-in-law's bookshelf, and walked back over to where Kantaro sat.

"Now open it up to the Leaf Village section, and find the picture of the Fourth Hokage."

Mizuki did as she was ordered, and immediately dropped the book, hands going slack in surprise and shock.

"Father, surely you don't mean…?"

The gray-haired shinobi waved a hand in dismissal.

"I can't prove it without a sample of his blood, of course. But I knew Kazama Arashi fairly well. We had a battle or two before I left things to Daimaru, and I got a good idea of the man's ideals and talents. Even if this child did not look like him, I would still know this was his son."

Daimaru's eyes went back and forth from the open Almanac to the face of the baby his father held. There was some resemblance, true, in the hair color and hair type, but that was hardly an accurate measure of blood relation. The Fifth Tsuchikage himself had blonde hair and blue eyes just like Mizuki's foundling.

"How's that?"

"For a Leaf shinobi, Kazama Arashi was one hell of a man, Daimaru. Your equal in many respects, I'd wager. Among them was his commitment to protect his people and village, the very quality our people praise you for. Mizuki, Shira, and Yuki already told you he sacrificed his life to seal away the Ninetails, did they not?"

"Of course. What does it have to do with this child being his son?"

"Everything, boy. Would you ask one of your people to give up one of their children to save the Stone from such a demon, if a child had to be the vessel for the seal?"

Fire blazed in the Fifth Tsuchikage's eyes, quickly replaced by cold blue steel in his gaze.

"Asking for such a sacrifice when I had something to give first? Never!"

Kantaro nodded solemnly.

"Well said. I'm certain Kazama Arashi felt exactly the same way when his people were threatened. Given the physical resemblance, then, and the seal on the child's navel, I'm fairly certain this child is the son of the Fourth Hokage. The son of a Kage, his chakra combined with the strength of a safely sealed demon? I couldn't have envisioned a more powerful addition to our Clan if I'd tried, Mizuki."

For the first time in six years, Yamazaki Mizuki felt herself the target of something totally unexpected – her father-in-law's respect, and even affection. But as Tsuchikage, Daimaru's duties and concerns forced him to intrude on the moment.

"If he's the son of their leader, surely the Leaf is going to come for him when they find out he's alive. Wouldn't we have to give up the boy, then?"

A fire as white-hot as his son had displayed sprang to life in the old Tsuchikage's eyes. Kantaro spat on the floor, disgust permeating his expression.

"Tell me, boy. What do the people of this village think of Yoriko, Aoi or Azusa? If they were lost in the forest, defenseless, would they drop whatever they were doing to rescue the girls?"

"My daughters have done nothing to anger the village. The people treat them as their own children, so I'd wager they would try to rescue them."

"So what do the actions of the Leaf tell you about their feelings for this child?"

The Fifth froze in mid-response and closed his mouth, shaking his head.

"I understand, Father."

"You had damned well better. This child was not abandoned because someone made a mistake, son. They wanted him to die. But that doesn't mesh with Mizuki finding him unharmed in the middle of the forest. This entire situation smells of old Sarutobi's involvement."

The Fifth's wife blinked. What did the Third Hokage have to do with this?

"What do you mean by Sarutobi being involved?"

"The Third Hokage's not a coward or a fool, as many of his people appear to have become. He wouldn't be stupid enough to believe this child was a demon. The fact that he merely abandoned the boy in the forest instead of having him killed means he was hoping for someone to discover the child. If that's the case, I have no regrets about accepting the child into our Clan. The Leaf had their chance. They blew it. He is ours now, and the only way those fools will take my grandson from me is if they kill me first. Now and forever, he is a Yamazaki."

"What about the Ninetails? Surely you don't want the damage from Konoha being done to our people."

"Pah!" Kantaro snorted, looking down at the seal on the baby's stomach. "I didn't become Tsuchikage just for my looks. Kazama Arashi did the hard part by creating the seal. All we need to do is to make sure nobody interferes with it, and make the boy strong enough to force down the demon if it gets frisky. I can do both by taking charge of training him."

Mizuki looked on, surprised that she agreed. Her father-in-law had become much more reasonable since all of his doubts about her had been dealt with. Only one thing troubled her about how quickly the baby had been accepted into the Clan.

"I know this sounds foolish of me, since I brought him here, but I'm concerned about the girls. This boy is the Clan's heir, of course, but what about the title of Sixth Tsuchikage? Do you intend to give that to him now as well?"

"That's Daimaru's decision, my dear. I may still head the Clan, but he heads the village now."

The Fifth looked at his wife, and then down at the baby, wondering what taking in such a child would mean. Truthfully, deep inside, Yamazaki Daimaru knew that he had wanted a son. Not so much that he would have taken a mistress, or loved his daughters any less, but enough that it had been eating at him, keeping him awake some nights. But was it worth taking the chance to be Tsuchikage away from his daughters? We won't know until it happens. Kid won't get a free ride anyway, not with my father training him.

"Nobody's given the rank of Tsuchikage, love. Even if you hadn't brought this kid back with you, Yoriko, Aoi or Azusa would have had to prove they were worthy of succeeding me, like I had to prove it to my father. If this child proves himself worthier of the title than his sisters, he'll succeed me as Tsuchikage. If he doesn't, he'll simply be a shinobi of the Stone. That's not a bad way to end up."

Mizuki bowed her head, sighing in relief. Trust her husband to come up with something that wouldn't offend anyone, and yet give every one of the children the possibility of coming up a winner in the future. Daimaru was happiest when everybody won, so this was no surprise. But it seemed her husband wasn't done talking yet.

"Now enough with the Clan and Tsuchikage business. We've all been talking about this kid, and he still doesn't have a name. Can't keep calling him 'the boy,' or 'that child.' Mizuki, you found him. You want to do the honors?"

"Naruto. His name is Naruto."

Kantaro glanced at the baby, noting the spiral shape of the Ninetails' seal.

"After the seal?"

"No. I was changing his diaper on the way back and a note fell out of the blanket he'd been wrapped in, with only a name on it. I guess the Third Hokage really did want someone to find him, and at least preserve the name the Fourth Hokage gave him."

The Fourth Tsuchikage nodded, turning the baby to face him.

"Fair enough. A hero should have his last request honored. Hear that, you lucky scamp? From now on, your name is Yamazaki Naruto. Do it proud."

As it turned out, Naruto would have to do more than simply do his name proud to satisfy his grandfather's many expectations. His first reminder would come five years later.

"Honestly, Father. An arranged marriage? He's only five years old!"

Kantaro slapped a hand to his forehead as he saw the irritated look on Mizuki's face. I keep telling her it'll stunt Naruto's growth for her to smother him so much.

"Even I'm not that crazy, Mizuki. Naruto and whichever one of Mana's daughters he picks will decide when they marry on their own, and they can't legalize it until they're fifteen at the earliest anyhow."

"Why even force him to do that? Surely you know arranged marriages are hardly considerate of the children's feelings."

"My dear, I realize that, but you can't deny that Naruto is only an heir in name. In order to continue the bloodline of the Yamazakis, he has to marry a girl from the Clan. Since it'd be totally inappropriate for him to wed any of his sisters, his cousins will have to do. Mana's got five girls; one of them is bound to be a good choice."

Mizuki sighed, twitching the tablecloth on the family dinner table.

"Two of them are already in their teens, Father. It's safe to say they're out of his age range."

"Even so, he's still got a one-in-three chance of finding himself one he likes. That's better than what Daimaru got when you came over, if you'll think back."

"That's hardly a fair comparison. It was a state of war that forced both our villages to come to a quick, peaceful compromise. You're not asking him to marry the girl for that kind of reason!"

"All right, all right. If they really don't get along by the time they're fifteen, I'll reexamine the situation and think of something else. But what's the harm in letting him see which of the girls he'd like to marry? It's not like Naruto's going to take it as anything more than a game at his age."

The auburn-haired woman bowed her head, realizing that even though he had learned to accept her, Yamazaki Kantaro could only be made to bend so far.

"I suppose you're right. Where is Naruto, anyway?"

"I had Shira take him over to Mana's house to play with the girls."

Before Mizuki could say anything, her father-in-law continued, anticipating her response.

"And no, I didn't tell him about the marriage. Figured you were going to take offense, so I'm simply letting the boy see what the girls are like. No more, no less."

"I wonder what's going on?"

"Honestly, those two are always forgetting their school things. Scrolls one day, kunai the next. I swear I should just let them fail an exercise so their father has a reason to give them a hiding."

Ishida Mana flew about her house, blonde hair flying behind her as she grabbed the shuriken that had been strewn throughout her two oldest daughters' room. Dashing down to the living room, she looked in to see her three younger girls – Kana, Kaori and Kira – playing with Daimaru's boy, Naruto.

The Fourth Tsuchikage's eldest daughter thought it odd that Shira had suddenly needed to handle such a long list of chores and leave Naruto with her, but challenging him would be like challenging her father. The gigantic Jounin served Kantaro as Naruto's other sensei; anyone remotely sane in the Stone Village knew better than to challenge the retired shinobi when it came to how he trained his grandson. In fact, they did their best to keep Naruto from being overworked.

Everyone who had met the child was hesitant at first, knowing what was inside of him, but they couldn't stay scared for very long. Not when they saw his beaming smile, or had to answer one of his many questions about anything new to him. From the most powerful Jounin to the lowliest blacksmith, nobody had escaped being grilled by one simple word: "Why?"

More importantly, the people of the Hidden Stone Village loved Naruto for a different and very obvious reason. Ever since the Yamazakis had adopted him, Kantaro's personality had undergone a complete turnaround. Oh, the retired shinobi could still be prickly and hidebound, but he rarely ever snapped at anyone nowadays. As the Fourth Tsuchikage's tongue-lashings had been known to make even hardened Jounin cry, Naruto had been a godsend.

Mana rarely saw her nephew, because he was in the dojo so often. Most people in the village thought it was just a rumor that Kantaro had been training Naruto since he had taken his first steps. The Fourth's daughter knew differently. Daimaru had undergone the exact same treatment, and Naruto was following in his father's footsteps. She supposed it was better for him to be getting a break right now. Deciding that was a good thing, the blonde Jounin leaned into the living room.

"Girls, Naruto, I have to take these shuriken to the Academy. Yuri and Maki managed to forget their things – again. I'll be back very soon. Kana, take care of your sisters and Naruto, okay?"

Ishida Kana, all of six years old, nodded her blonde head happily.

"A mission like Daddy goes on?"

"Yes, honey. Now I'm off!"

Without another word, Mana dashed out the door, closing it firmly behind her and leaving Naruto at the mercy of his cousins.

Kana turned back to where her sisters and cousin were staring up at a tall shelf, several stuffed animals teetering on its edge. Her younger sister Kaori, five years old, pointed at one of the dolls.

"I can't reach Teddy! Now what are we going to play with?"

Kira, four years old and red-haired like her father, immediately turned to Naruto, who was also staring up at the shelf.

"Mommy always tells Daddy to be a man and do the heavy lifting! He's not here, so you get it down!"

Naruto glared down at the younger girl. She sounds like Grampa. I get enough of that in the dojo.

"Does it look like I can reach them?"

"I don't care! Do something!"

Come to think of it, there was something he could try. Grampa Kantaro was always telling him to think of everything as some kind of training. Maybe if he used one of those spiffy jutsus he was being taught, he could get the dolls down. But what to use? They're just hangin' on the edge. Maybe if I bump 'em a little they'll move! Pressing his hands together, the Fifth Tsuchikage's son slowly made the series of hand seals he'd seen Shira do the day before, placing one hand palm down on the floor when he was done.

"Okay, but you asked for it. Doton: Jishin Ken (Earth Element: Earthquake Fist)!"

Thankfully, Naruto was so young that the tiny amount of chakra he placed into the Earthquake Fist barely rattled the dishes in his aunt's kitchen. Even so, the brief moment of vibration that shook the house was enough to jostle three dolls off the shelf. One landed in Kana's outstretched hands, another in Kaori's, and the last bounced off Kira's head with a cute little squeak. The four year-old immediately glared at her cousin.

"That hurt, you stupidhead!"

"So move out of the way! It's just a doll, how's it gonna hurt you? Grampa throws harder stuff at me all the time!"

Which he did – earth, rocks, debris, and even shuriken, in the name of teaching Naruto every Earth jutsu known to man. So far, he was managing to avoid most of the flying objects. Not all of them, of course – there were some advantages to having his mother see the bruises, like her having a shouting match with his Grampa, and getting him a day off from training. Kira had no idea about any of that and proved it by hitting him with her doll, another squeak being heard as it impacted.

"What the hell was that for? I got you your doll! Not my fault you're too slow to dodge a little toy."

"Is too! You made an earthquake! It was scary!"

The argument cut off abruptly as Kaori handed her doll to her older sister, walked over to Kira, and yanked the squeaky toy away from her younger sister.

"You know what Mommy says, Kira! People who can't appreciate things are followers and followers don't deserve toys."

Kaori was technically right, although her mother hadn't worded it quite that way. Mana had simply been teaching her girls the meaning of the Stone Village's unofficial motto: "The worthy lead, and the unworthy follow." To many outsiders, that meant the Stone placed strength above all in looking for its leaders and commanders.

In reality, it meant nothing of the sort. Everyone liked to have strong leaders and fighters, but without humility or intelligence, strength was often useless. The arrogant and ignorant were unworthy, even if they could move mountains without breaking a sweat. So it was that Mana had turned each of the five Ishida girls across her knee for a spanking at least once for displaying "unworthy" behavior.

Kaori didn't have much use for the motto, considering how often her mother used it to justify blistering her behind for doing something wrong. But now and then it came in handy for things like shutting her brat of a little sister up. Kira, as she usually did, reacted to the taking of her toy with tears and her patented Biting of the Lower Lip technique. Unfortunately, the only person that ever worked on was their father, and Ishida Hanzo was currently on a mission. When Kaori simply kept on glaring at her, Kira did the next best thing – and attacked.

Naruto stepped back from the two girls rolling around on the floor, not knowing whether he could pull them apart. Plus, at five years old, he thought girls were icky anyway, other than his mom and sisters. The blonde boy turned to see if Kana could help, only to see the older girl looking on at the fight with a smile on her face. What's there to smile about?

"What're you so happy about?"

"They get along so well!"

He could only gape at his cousin's reaction, and wonder exactly how sane any of them were. What world is she living in?

He was still thinking that over when Shira came to pick him up, by which time his Aunt Mana had come home and broken up the fight. She sent Kaori and Kira to their rooms, leaving Naruto to deal with Kana, who was now making him really confused. The girl didn't seem like she had much of a clue about anything. Pretty and nice, but dumber than a bag of hammers.

Kira was no angel either. The redheaded girl reminded him of that old lady at the fish market who went around saying things that made Shira cover his student's ears. Everyone said she had never gotten laid – whatever that meant - because she was something that had also made Shira cover his ears. Naruto gathered it meant something bad. But then that was really Aunt Mana's problem.

Naruto didn't think much of it until he got home, figuring Shira had just dropped him off there so he'd learn how good he had it with his own sisters. Even then it still didn't make much sense. His oldest sister, Yoriko, was already going on missions with her Genin team, and had no time to tease her brother as she had in the past. The worst Aoi-neesan had ever done was to wrap him up like a mummy while practicing her medical skills on him, and Azusa-neesan only ever needed his help to chase down the wild animals she was constantly bringing home. They had nothing on the Ishida sisters for sheer weirdness or scariness.

The heir of the Clan only got suspicious when he saw the look on his Grampa's face. He knew that look; Grampa only got that serious when he was about to ask a "painful" question. Not painful in the sense that people would cry, like the parents of that Jirobou kid who had become a missing-nin. Painful as in asking Naruto whether he'd like to run laps around the village or swim upstream through the river that day.

"I hear you had some fun with your cousins today."

Fun? Well, being able to use the Earthquake Fist had been fun. The rest had just been weird.

"I guess so."

"Good, good! Because I'm going to have one of those girls, er, join your training sessions in a few years. I thought I'd give you a chance to see which one you like best. Do you know which one that is?"

What kind of choice was that? One was dense, and another was, well, scary. But Naruto knew full well that when his Grampa asked him a question, he expected an answer. And if he didn't want Kana or Kira constantly in the dojo with him, there was only one answer he could give.

"Kaori."

It would be quite some time before Yamazaki Naruto realized just how lucky he'd been in making that decision. Until that happened, though, he had one more problem to deal with, coming out of that same choice.

He was passing by the closed dining room when he heard his Aunt Mana's voice through the heavy oaken door. Perhaps that was why his Grampa had let him off so early today – his cousins must have been visiting. That alone gave the five year-old a reason to begin tiptoeing down the hall back to his room. Several steps later Naruto stopped, catching sight of someone sitting in a chair further down the corridor – Kaori. The red-haired girl was holding the teddy bear he'd bumped off the shelf a week ago, and looking very bored indeed.

Well, Kaori wasn't so bad. If it had been any of her sisters, the blonde boy probably would have taken off running in the other direction. He'd gladly have accepted the spanking his mother would give him for being so rude to a family member if it meant avoiding those weirdos. But since she was here, he might as well say something. Typical of someone who'd grown up with Yamazaki Kantaro, it was completely tactless.

"Your sisters didn't come here with you, did they?"

Naruto's cousin shook her head violently. It was pretty clear she shared his low opinion of Kana and Kira.

"Nuh-uh. Mommy only came with me. Don't know why, but she looked mad. Not at me or Kira neither; I think she was mad at Grampa."

That didn't clear up the mystery – everybody in the village got mad at his Grampa at one time or another. The smart ones kept their mouths shut until he was out of earshot, and the dumb ones got smart very quickly once his Grampa responded to criticism.

As for which one Aunt Mana was, it quickly became obvious when one of her shouts got so loud even he and Kaori could hear it clearly.

"Father, I don't believe you! You expect me to risk my daughters' future in a marriage with a demon?"

Demon? Marriage? The second he knew nothing about, but Naruto was plenty suspicious about the first. He sometimes heard people whispering that word when he would be walking in the village. At first he'd thought they were talking about Shira – the Jounin did stand over seven feet tall. But then the same thing would happen when he was out with anyone else, even his sisters. As much as they enjoyed teasing their younger brother about the whisker-like things on his face, Yoriko, Aoi and Azusa hardly reminded anyone of demons.

When the dining room was closed, it meant whatever was going on was private. The parents of that Jirobou kid had gone in there to beg forgiveness from Naruto's father and grandfather. His mom also used the dining room for punishment and stern lectures. Anyone who stuck their nose into such things always got at least a good talking to; none of the Yamazaki children were dumb enough to do it again after their first time. But the Tsuchikage's only son was getting a little tired of being kept in the dark, his legendary curiosity getting the better of him. Opening the door, Naruto stuck his head inside the room.

"Who's a demon?"

He saw his aunt immediately clap a hand over her mouth. His Grampa looked annoyed, his mom looked concerned, and for one of the rare times in his life, Yamazaki Naruto saw pure, unfettered rage in his father's eyes, fire so hellish you could see it even under his peaked Kage hat.

Daimaru spoke first, his voice disturbingly calm.

"Mana, if you ever call my son a demon again, I swear I will make you regret it, sister or not."

Before she could respond, Kantaro made as if to go towards his grandson.

"Let me explain, boy…"

The Fifth Tsuchikage cut his father off sharply.

"Father, sit down! I'll handle this. On anything else in the family, I'd defer to you, but Naruto's my son before he's your student."

Scooping his son up off the floor, Yamazaki Daimaru strode out of the dining room, leaving three stunned family members in his wake.

"Come on, kid. We gotta talk."

The Fifth Tsuchikage didn't say much for a while, as he carried Naruto up to the highest point in the entire village. The blonde boy looked down and beheld his home, laid out before his eyes.

In keeping with their focus on the earth and its powers, the people of the Hidden Stone Village (and the Earth Country as a whole) were as considerate of nature as possible. Their home was the largest of all five major Hidden Villages, spread out over more than a dozen square miles and crisscrossed by seven rivers.

Before the First Tsuchikage had united his people, the area had been known as Nanamagari (Seven-Spiral Path); some locals still called it by that name. You could see homes everywhere; made from natural caves, built into hillsides, and even some inside the trunks of great trees that had fallen to earth.

Above Daimaru and his son, giant windmills turned, supplying power to the village along with solar panels atop the houses and water wheels on the rivers. Unwilling to risk harm to the earth they lived on, the people of the Stone did their best to keep things natural – even if it meant they lacked some of the "modern" technology of other villages.

"I come here sometimes, to remember what my duty is. Everyone has a duty, after all, and you shouldn't ever lose sight of it."

Naruto looked up to see his father take the Kage hat off and set it on the ground. The Fifth Tsuchikage let his son down off his shoulders and looked down upon his village and people, blonde hair waving in the wind.

"Am I a demon like Aunt Mana says, Daddy?"

Daimaru knelt down, looking into his son's confused eyes.

"Sit down, Naruto. I'm gonna tell you a story."

"Okay."

"A long time ago, there lived a demon fox with nine tails. It was a scary creature, so tough it could level whole villages with the swipe of a tail. And one day, it decided to attack the Leaf Village. Killed a bunch of shinobi, even some really good ones, and nobody could figure out how to stop it until a hero showed up."

"Who was it?"

"Their leader, the Fourth Hokage. He was to the Leaf what I am to the Stone. The Hokage was a smart guy, and he finally came up with a plan. He would seal the demon away, so it could never hurt anybody again. And he did seal it away, inside a little baby boy. Inside you, Naruto."

The blonde boy pulled his shirt up and looked at his belly button, not seeing anything there (the seal having faded since Kantaro had seen it long ago).

"Where is it? I don't wanna have it in me."

"Nobody can see it, son. Nobody can be hurt by it anymore, not even you. It's just that some people are too stupid to see that at first. That's how come you live in the Stone Village, instead of the Leaf Village."

Puzzled, Naruto asked his typical question.

"Why?"

"The people there were too afraid and angry. They didn't see that you'd done them a big huge favor, just that there was something to fear. But your mom wasn't as scared. She knew what you really were, so she brought you here, to be part of this family."

"If I'm not a demon, then what am I, Daddy?"

Daimaru turned the boy's head to look straight at him.

"You're two things to me and to the village, Naruto. You're my son, the heir of the Yamazaki Clan. And you're a hero. Because of you, nobody ever has to be scared of the demon again, or sacrifice another child. People who fear you are just being stupid, looking for an excuse to hate something.

"But don't let it swell your head. All heroes have duties, and yours is to become strong, to protect your family and the village. You have to make sure that you're in control, and not the demon. Work on that every day and you can sleep at night knowing what the idiots say about you is wrong, and ignore their squawking. You'll know that you're doing your duty. That's all that matters to your mom and I. Understand?"

Naruto looked down at his belly button and then up at his father.

"Yes, Daddy."

Daimaru snorted.

"The hell you say. I'm not gonna hold you to that; you're too young to get it all. Only thing you have to know for now is that your mom, your sisters, Grampa, Shira, Aunt Yuki and all the people in this village love you. You are not a demon to us. As for your Aunt Mana…she'll come around. I'm not gonna give her any other choice."

His son still looked like he was thinking something over.

"What else you got a problem with?"

"How come Aunt Mana was talkin' about people gettin' married?"

The Fifth grunted, looking annoyed.

"You know how your Grampa is. Always lookin' to make the family blood stronger. When you became a hero and the demon went inside you, you got even stronger than you were already. So your Grampa wants you to marry someone from the family, and 'cause you can't marry your sisters, he gave you a choice of one of your Aunt Mana's girls. Remember when he asked you which one you liked?"

"I said Kaori."

"Well, that's the one your Grampa wants you to marry. I still say he's lost his mind, but you got plenty of time to worry about that. For now, just be friends with her and see what happens. You don't need to think of it any other way until you're older. Now come on, we've been jabbering about this nonsense long enough. Your mom's probably worried sick, and I'm getting hungry. How 'bout it? Ready to get washed up for dinner?"

"Okay!"

It would not be the last time Yamazaki Naruto would have to deal with his unique problems. This time, at least, things worked out just fine. Raising his son onto his shoulders, the Fifth Tsuchikage leaped down and headed back to the rest of his family.

"Come on, son. Let's go home."

AUTHOR'S NOTE

Don't you just love flashback-type chapters? ^_^;

I've already given Naruto a new family, new home, and a new fiancée, so what's left, you say? Next chapter, Naruto becomes a Genin of the Stone, complete with teammates and a sensei. Until then, stay tuned and keep reviewing.