Konoha's Scarlet Flash
A/N: Three months since I updated. Guess I'm the negligent bastard now. More on that later.
Chapter 2: Meeting the Team
Looking worse for the wear (as ruffed up as a kid in an orange jumpsuit could look, anyway) Naruto stumbled up the steps of the Hokage tower, the Forbidden Scroll of Whatever strapped to his back. Iruka-sensei lead the way, still lightly berating the blonde for his rash actions.
"Seriously, Naruto, stealing a scroll that has 'Forbidden' in the title." The scarred ninja sighed as he bopped Naruto on the head playfully. "Be thankful you graduated, falling for that."
"Yeah, yeah." the blonde grumbled. "What can I say? I'm a baka." he replied distractedly.
Iruka frowned slightly at his former student. The chunin himself was trying not to dwell on the...unpleasant subjects touched upon last night. Mizuki, the prick, had broken the Hokage's law and told Naruto that the Kyuubi had not been killed twelve years ago. That it had, instead, been sealed into the young ninja. He had even told Naruto that he and his inner demon were the same being. Iruka knew that couldn't be further from the truth. But with the way the majority of the village treated Naruto and how he learned of it's sealing..
Would Naruto believe it himself? The thought plagued him.
The plan had been for Iruka or the Hokage himself to tell the blonde over ramen after he had become a genin. That obviously did not happen. Now Hokage-sama wanted to speak with Naruto privately, even though he knew the blonde was now aware of the demon in his belly.
Maybe it was about the secret jutsu the genin had read about; jutsu that could probably endanger the village?
Ugh. The council wouldn't let this slide.
Iruka had successfully escorted the blonde to the Hokage's busy office. Large piles of paper were stacked around the room. The scarred man didn't doubt Naruto's name and his exploits were in a large number of these papers.
"Arigato for bringing Naruto here, Iruka-san." the grand-fatherly ninja eyed the chunin for moment. "You are dismissed. Be sure to have yourself checked out at the hospital."
Iruka nodded and made his way to leave, laying a comforting hand on the blondes shoulder before exiting.
As soon as the door closed the slight grin Naruto had completely faded. His eyes became distant yet guarded as they bore into the old man.
It didn't take a master of the ninja arts to see that Naruto was quite upset with him. And things would probably worsen before they got better.
"Good morning, Naruto-kun. How are you feeling?" The genuinely sincere question only earned him a blank stare. Sarutobi coughed into his hand. "Well, I understand that you are now aware of certain..sensitive information. Is that true?"
After a few moments of simply staring, Naruto nodded. "Hai. There's a demon sealed inside me." he confirmed in a deadpan voice that was so clearly out of character the Hokage nearly cringed. "Why didn't you tell me?" the boy asked coldly.
"It was not my intention to hide this from you for much longer..." the Third answered, lacing his fingers. "I just wanted you to mentally brace yourself before being told. I couldn't have imagined a more unsound fashion for you to learn of Kyuubi than how you did... And I'm sorry for that."
Naruto nodded, accepting the apology but not exactly extending his forgiveness. That would be too much for the elderly ninja to hope for. Sarutobi was just fortunate that the young fox vessel hadn't run off with the scroll like Mizuki said he would.
"Is that all...old man?" The boy asked quietly.
A brief smile graced the Hokage. If Naruto was still calling him that... "There is one last thing." he said, removing a scroll from a heavily sealed box. He tossed it to Naruto, who caught it, eying it curiously. Sandaime was met with a befuddled stare as Naruto opened and examined the scroll.
The scroll itself was blank, but a key was held in the upper corner.
Naruto eyed the key. The address was attached to it. Being well traveled in the village (what with the plethora of Chunin, Jonin, and ANBU chasing him around) Naruto recognized it as the swank part of town.
Rolling up the scroll and stuffing it into his pocket, Naruto made his way out of Hokage's office with a less than polite farewell. Sandaime merely sighed, glancing out of the window at the stone likeness of the Yondaime. With a hefty sigh, the aged ninja continued his arduous task of filing paperwork and approving suitable missions. His disciplined mind already thinking of the appropriate teams.
With his feet wandering aimlessly, the Jinchuuriki paid little attention to his destination. The option of returning to his rundown apartment was briefly considered before being cast aside. No way he was going to get to sleep anytime soon. Too much to think about.
When he looked up, Naruto found himself at the top of the Hokage Monument. He always came here when something was really bothering him. This definitely qualified. He hesitantly sat himself down onto the usual spot, on top of the Yondaime's spiked hair. He sat there for hours as the sun rose, just thinking about his life; past, present and future.
It had always been Uzumaki Naruto's firm belief that people had always hated and despised him because he had no family. Just an abandoned orphan who was to be looked down upon. No heritage. No family. Nothing.
People didn't respect him. So he figured by becoming the Hokage, the strongest ninja in the village, they wouldn't have any choice but to acknowledge him as great. Now he wasn't so sure things would work out like that.
The blonde wondered, oh how he wondered, what became of his family. He was the only Uzumaki in Konoha. He checked on several occasions. Naruto began to wonder why Yondaime had chosen him to be the vessel for the Kyuubi. Had his parents sold him to the village, just up and gave him away as a sacrifice as they lived a life of luxury in some far off country?
He thought it best not to linger on such thoughts, lest he reach for a kunai.
Naruto rose from his seated position and with one last look at the top of the Hokage's Monument, made his way to the academy. It was usually open very early, not that he would know personally. Arriving quickly, Naruto found very few in the building and that he was the first student to arrive. First time for everything, he supposed.
He took a seat at the upper corner of the room near a window and laid his head down, hoping to get in a quick nap before being assigned a team. He never really got to sleep fully, but his eyes were well rested.
All too soon the students began to flock into he room, murmuring amongst themselves about there excitement of becoming shinobi and, upon noticing him, his presence. Naruto only kept his head down.
"What do ya think the kid's doing here?"
One of the students snorted. "Probably just showing off, the retard. He failed so they'll be dragging him away soon."
Another student chuckled. "Class clown to the very end. At least he should provide us with some entertainment. Otherwise he's just a waste of space, right?"
Naruto clenched his fist as they laughed at his expense, but made no other signs of consciousness. It wasn't until after Iruka cleared his throat in the front of the room that Naruto lifted his head; revealing his headband and shutting up a large portion of the class. He even heard a decidedly feminine gasp. It sounded almost..pleased.
Iruka gave a generic congratulations to the class as a whole. He slightly tailored it for each year's students but it carried the same message every year. Have pried in your village and do your best. And he said the latter knowing full well that most of the students would not go on to become ninja. The poor bastards.
"All right then," he called after they began to calm from his speech, "I will now read the teams you will be assigned as well as your jonin sensei. Team 1:..." Iruka began to list students that he knew for a fact would not be passing.
Naruto was still in a deep sea of self-pity, paying only a fraction of his limited attention span to Iruka. Anytime before today he would have been on his knees praying to whatever deities weren't cursing him so he could end up on the same team as Sakura. Right now though, the pink haired girl was completely off his radar.
Now back to Iruka, who is now naming teams that we care about. "Team 7: Sai, Haruno Sakura, and Uchiha Sasuke. Your sensei is Hatake Kakashi. Team 8: Inuzuka Kiba, Hyuuga Hinata, and Aburame Shino, lead by Yuhi Kurenai." Iruka again lists a team that have no future as shinobi. "And Team 10: Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Choji, and Yamanaka Ino. You will be under the instruction of Sarutobi Asuma. Those are all the teams listed from this years students. I wish you all luck." And if there were more students to be named for teams after team 10...who cares?
Naruto blinked a few times. Sure he was a bit out of it but he still would have heard his name. "Iruka-sensei," he called, raising his hand, "I didn't hear my name. Don't I get a team?"
The scarred chunin scratched his head sheepishly, embarrassed. "Ah, sorry Naruto. I forgot to tell you. You've been drafted to be the placed on a team from last year. A personal request from the jonin sensei." Iruka paused, enjoying some of the gawking expressions. "You're to present yourself at training area one, ASAP."
"Uh.. Who's gonna be my sensei?" Naruto asked carefully. If it was a request from the jonin leader than they probably wouldn't mind having him on the team. But still, he wondered. And with pretty damn good reason to.
Iruka seemed an odd mix of amused and hesitant. "Believe me," the chunin said, smiling uneasily, "you will know him when you see him." You can't miss him actually...
Some of the class broke into disbelieving whispers. What Jonin in their right mind would want the dead last on their team? They probably couldn't find any other place to keep him out of the way. Naruto ignored them as he made his way to the exit. It was thanks only to his sharp hearing that he heard the number one rookie's scoff.
"Teme." he responded automatically, business as usual for Naruto and Sasuke. Well at least some things didn't change and the blonde took comfort in that. Both boys shared hidden grins as Naruto departed from the class.
After wandering for a bit Naruto made his way to the designated training area. The terrain was wide and grassy with three training logs in the middle. Well, two logs and one that was utterly demolished and lie in pieces. The orange clad ninja looked around and found no one in he area.
Suddenly the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. It wasn't shinobi training but instinct that told him someone was behind him. It was right.
Standing over the demolished log was a tall, muscular man in a green jumpsuit that left just enough to the imagination not to be voyeurism. Eyebrows that were at least two inches thick hung over the man's eyes like fuzzy leeches. His haircut seemed to have been fashioned after one of the Ichiraku ramen bowls.
It was like a train wreck...he couldn't tear his eyes away.
Oblivious of his newest students well-founded apprehension, Gai strode over to the young lad with a blinding grin. "Ah, you must be Uzumaki Naruto! Salutations and congratulations on joining the ninja ranks of Konoha!"
The man shook his fist with what Naruto at first perceived as rage...until he realized it was barely contained enthusiasm. Something he trademarked. "Such a youthful spirit...it is beautiful!"
"...Thanks..?" the blonde responded meekly, finding himself unable to look the man directly in his beady, black eyes.
The odd ninja waved him off with a thumbs up. "It is unwise not to acknowledge one who is so full of youthful flare. Now come! Follow me on the path of youth and become acquainted with your new comrades!" the man exclaimed animatedly, making an odd pose and pointing in the direction of the village.
After deciphering that as meeting his teammates, the new ninja nodded his consent and soon found himself at the top of a large building. There was a large roof and railing to prevent people from falling off. The railing was lined with seats. Two of which were currently occupied.
Naruto looked upon the his new teammates.
One had eyes that, while the same color as Hinata's, weren't nearly as warm. In fact, Naruto would be hard-pressed not to recognize that look. It was the same as some of the more passive villagers gave him. Just starring as if he wasn't even there. Like he was lower than an insect. As if...he didn't even deserve to exist.
I don't like this guy...
The other was a girl with tanned skin much like his own. Her hair was done up in a practical style of two buns; probably to keep it out her face when she was fighting. Naruto never really got why most of the girls at the academy wore their hair so long. Not something you see everyday. Her style of dress was also more traditional, and showed off her lean arms. An old fashioned kind of girl, apparently. She was twirling a kunai on her finger by the ring with only the faintest of interests.
Gai, who had finally reached the top after scaling the building with one hand tied behind his back, looked on stealthily as his students silently got to know one another.
"Well Naruto, I see you have meet your two teammates." Gai wrongly observed as he hopped over the railing.
"Actually he hasn't said a word," the girl with the buns said. She pointed to him. "So, who's the new meat?" she asked, eying him as such.
The white eyed boy crossed his arms. "He already told us. Apparently this is to be Lee's replacement."
Gai gave a complementing pat on the shoulder to the young prodigy. "Astute as always, Neji. Quite correct. This is a student who graduated from the academy this morning. Why don't you all get acquainted?"
A look of understanding adorned the girl's face. "Oh, cool. Well..I guess it would be rude to ask your name without introducing myself, right? My name is Tenten, pleasure to meet you. I want to become a great kunoichi like Tsunade-sama." Her eyes took a glint familiar to the Sasuke fan-girls as she let loose a dreamy sigh. Tenten then glanced at the boy sitting next to him and gave him a rough elbow to the rib-cage.
The boy grunted indignantly. "What would be the point? This one probably won't last any longer than Lee."
Gai laughed boisterously, either believing Neji's words naive or ignoring that it could be taken as a death threat. "Nonsense. The flames of youth burn brightly in this one." he said with the utmost confidence.
Naruto, however, was a bit unnerved. "Ano..what happened to this Lee guy?"
The kunoichi's lips turned upwards as she saw an opportunity to tease their new teammate. "Oh..they didn't tell you?" she asked somberly, shaking her head. "The poor guy. We could only find the arms."
The blonde paled rapidly. Was that why he was sent to this team? As cannon-fodder? Was this a way to finally be rid of the curse of Konoha?
Tenten giggled. "Oh relax! I'm just kidding." she smacked him on the back in emphasis. Hard, in his opinion. "Lee's on an extended training leave outside the village." Her warm, brown eyes turned to the Hyuuga prodigy. "Now, I believe you were going to introduce yourself?"
Neji only gave her a mild stare and crossed his arms. He'd said enough for today.
Tenten frowned before a sadistic grin lit up her face. She leaned forward and whispered something in Neji's ear that Naruto didn't catch. That's partially why he was astonished when the Hyuuga's eyes widened and faint blush formed on his cheeks.
"Impossible," he exclaimed, turning toward her, "not even you can do that with a kunai!"
His only response was slight grin that said 'Try me'.
With a bored gaze Neji looked to the blonde and introduced himself. "Hyuuga Neji. What I fight for...I'd rather not say." In hi own way..of course.
"And I," Gai began, proudly jerking a thumb towards himself, "am Maito Gai. Konoha's spouting leaf of acceptance and eternal rival to Hatake Kakashi!"
Cerulean eyes turned to Tenten, as she seemed to be the most sensible and open of the group. "Don't ask." the girl dead panned with a sigh.
Naruto grinned slightly as he prepared his rehearsed introduction. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto. I like eating ramen and comparing different types of ramen. I hate the three minutes it takes for ramen to boil...also stuck up bastards who think they're better than everyone else. And my dream is to become the greatest Hokage ever...even better than Yondaime." he whispered at the end.
Neji snorted in amusement. "You? Become Hokage? A fitting replacement for Lee. Your goals are even more farfetched."
In an instant Naruto was in Neji's face, glaring at the bastard. "What did you say!?"
Neji didn't flinch, only scowling at the blonde baka for intruding on his personal space. "I said there is no way you could ever become Hokage. It is not your fate."
Naruto's face flashed from rage to confusion in an instant. "Nani?"
"It's simple. Everyone is born with a distinctive path that they must follow. Their destiny. To deny that fate is pointless. I know that you scored the lowest of all Genin this year. You are a failure, and nothing will change that." Neji finished in an absolute way.
Gai's thick eyebrows bunched together as he frowned. What an unyouthful thing to say.
Tenten sighed and shook her head. This was a repeat of the first introductions all over again.
Naruto, for his part, simply stared at the Hyuuga prodigy for a full minute with a confused face. He looked almost as if Neji's words just...didn't...compute. Then he looked Neji right in the eyes with a slight frown and spoke.
"That's the dumbest shit I ever heard."
Neji only shook his head. "As if you would understand. You're far too ignorant to face the facts of life. It will be a lesson you learn far too late."
Naruto jumped up and nearly onto the railing. "Oh yeah!? So when life deals you a bad hand you just bend over and take it!? Screw that! I'm gonna be the greatest Hokage ever no mater what 'destiny' says, dumbass!"
The Hyuuga smirked coldly. "So are saying anyone who puts forth enough effort can become a Hokage? Impossible. Only a select few in all the village ever become Hokage. You do not simply choose to become one."
The blonde glared ferally. "Care to test fate then?"
"Hmm," Tenten murmured as she pulled out a watch, "two minutes to provoke someone into a fight. That tops your record with Lee."
Gai perceived the event in his usual distorted manner. "Yosh! A sparring match between young Naruto and the experienced Neji. This is an grand way to test Naruto's current skill level! Excellent thinking team!"
Tenten rolled her eyes. Gai-sensei, you maniac. she thought with fond exasperation.
Soon the newly reformed Team One found themselves at their designated training area provided to them by the Hokage. Naruto and Neji stood across the field glaring at one another. Well, Naruto glared, Neji just gave him..that damned look. The look he hated so much.
"All right," Gai called as he puled two flags from nowhere, one orange and the other white, "this is a simple sparring match so no deadly maneuvers. Let's keep this within the boundaries Konoha civility."
Neji smirked slightly. "There is no need to worry. This will be over quickly."
Naruto was sleep depraved and vaguely remembered that his bastard teammate was the number one rookie of last year. But he'd be damned if he was gonna let him think hard work didn't pay off. Naruto had struggled throughout his entire life just to survive. He would become Hokage.
Tenten approached her new blonde teammate to whisper in his ear. He briefly considered flinching back, thinking of Neji's earlier reaction "Naruto...it is Naruto right?"
Not lessening his glare at Neji, the blonde nodded.
"Well, I'm not trying to knock your goals or anything but...believe me when I tell you that there is no way you can defeat Neji. He's narrowminded but still a genius, the strongest Hyuuga born in a century. Please, just back down. No fresh genin deserves to fight him..."
His glare disappeared completely as he stared impassively at her. She half expected him to explode after a while but instead...
He bowed his head.
"Arigato for your concern, Tenten-san, but I have to fight him. Even if I don't win now, I can still train hard and beat him then. That will show him that destiny can kiss my ass."
A bit bewildered by the seemingly irrational confidence the blonde held, Tenten nodded dumbly and made her way to Gai.
This should be interesting.
Neji took a stance that Naruto's instincts took as threatening. The prodigy's arm was extended with the palm facing Naruto with the other held tightly at his side. "Anytime your ready." the boy invited smoothly.
Naruto cracked his knuckles. "I'm gonna make you eat those words!" And with that, Naruto charged with his fist raised, clearly intending on a punch.
The instant Naruto moved, a frown formed on the usually unflappable Gai's face. That form...it's awful.. Then he grinned, thinking he'd figured out what the blue-eyed boy was doing. He must be setting Neji up to lower his defenses before showing his true potential. A slow right hook followed by a rabbit punch to distort the target. It won't work on Neji. But it is an admirable strategy. Gai thought, nodding to himself and completely unaware he was giving the blonde way too much credit.
A right hook sailed over Neji's head as he ducked, laying a harsh palm thrust to the blonde's abdomen. He hadn't bothered to activate his Byakugan because Juken would be wasted on this fool. He was even worse than Lee had been!
Naruto rolled onto his back and pushed his body up to recover. He sprinted toward Neji at a pace that was sluggish to all parties present. A flurry of punches were all blocked by the expertly trained hands of Hyuuga Neji. Naruto finished up with a wide arched kick to the older genin's head. His stance and movement was so poor he almost lost his footing.
Off to the side Gai slowly clenched and unclenched his fists with escalating pressure. He could tell he had been severely mistaken earlier. From the fiery determination and frustration in his eyes to the body language. This..is not a distraction he realized. This is how Naruto has been taught to fight...
Neji knocked the numskull off his feet and flipped him away. Naruto landed on his hands and stumbled to the ground before jumping up. He was panting heavily but Neji, to his disbelief, looked as if he had gone on mild jog. An extremely mild jog.
A blank stare was placed on Naruto. "Is that all you've got?" Neji asked, sounding severely disappointed.
A growl was his answer. "I'll show you what I got!" Naruto formed his hands into a cross-like seal. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
Smoke clouded the vison of all present. As a small gust blew it away, Tenten's eyes became wide a saucers, her mouth gaping. Gai only grinned widely..almost maniacally. Where only one had been a few moments ago there were now thirty Narutos standing in the clearing.
Neji blinked before activating his Doujutsu. "So you aren't completely useless after all."
"Heh, just wait and see!" the original, he believed, called. "All right! Attack!"
With the force of a stampede the army of blondness charged for Neji. Said Hyuuga began to attack and destroy the shadow clones in a systematic manner, dodging punches, kicks and kunai as he lessened the number of enemies. One particularly annoying clone snuck up behind him and attempted a double fisted knockout blow to the neck. It only succeeded in destroying another clone as Neji dodged, bending sharply at the waist, and sent a chakra burst to it's throat.
With a final chakra laced palm thrust the last of the clones was dispersed. Neji dashed for the last Naruto quickly enough to leave an after image. The blondes eyes widened and his mouth drew agape as Neji pulled back his palm to deliver the final blow.
Or so he thought.
Naruto smirked before disappearing in a puff of smoke. A decoy! The Hyuuga realized. He shifted his head just enough to see a fist flying for his blind spot. Neji deflected the attack with a burst of chakra and spun around to strike Naruto in the abdomen. The amount of chakra hadn't been crippling but enough to stop the blonde.
Hunched over on the ground, the orange ninja clutched his stomach. What did that bastard do!? It felt like his insides were on fire!
Gai was by the blondes side before anyone noticed him move. "No need to fret Naruto. You're going to be just fine!" he exclaimed cheerfully, despite the writhing pain he knew the boy was experiencing. "You put forth a valiant effort Naruto and I was able to gauge your skills. Well done! However," he raised the white flag, "Neji is the winner!"
The fresh genin rose shakily to his feet. The burning sensation in his stomach was being taken over by another one. But it was...pleasant, in a sense.
Gai placed his hand on Naruto's forehead as if to feel his temperature. Of course, it seemed to escape his attention that Naruto's headband made the effort completely in vain. "You seem to be running a fever Naruto. My first order as your sensei if for you to go home and rest for the day."
"What!?" Naruto slapped the man's hand away. "How could you feel my forehead when I'm wearing my.." Naruto trailed off as he placed his hand on his forehead to find it bare. His headband in Gai's hand. "Er, maybe I should lie down..."
Gai nodded and turned to his team's killer kunoichi. "Tenten." he called. The girl, who had been conversing with Neji about something, jogged over. "Would you please escort Naruto to his home?"
Tenten chuckled a little and shook her head. "I thought the boy was supposed to do that."
"I think you'd be up for the job, Ten-boy." Naruto joked though the pain.
Tenten 'playfully' punched his arm in response. It reminded him of when Sakura bashed him on the skull...and this girl was docile. He shouldn't get on her bad side.
The two were soon walking side by side as they exited the training field. When he was sure they were out of earshot, Gai turned to his distant student. Neji had his arms crossed, staring at Naruto and Tenten with a slight frown.
He approached with a 'stern' stare. "Neji..I'd like to ask a favor of you..."
Wow. Almost fifty reviews. And here I was expecting only about twelve. Oh well.
Anyway, about this story. It's a damn shame but I just haven't been giving it the attention it deserves. And I probably never will. I never intended to spend much time on this story, as it was just to make it up to some NaruTen fans of my other story. It isn't that I have writers block or anything, I'm just not inspired to write for this story.
However, I'm not simply the type to apologize and not try to make something better so here's the deal. This story is officially up for adoption to any writer willing and whom I feel comfortable will do a good job.
There are specific jutsu and other elements of the story that I will pass along but the rest will be up to that writer. If you're interested just say so in a review and I will check out what you have previously written on FF. net. As a resume.
And if no one is interested, updates will continue to be slow, but the story will not be abandoned.