Naruto blinked as she finally came to in a room that seemed oddly familiar. The room was a ghastly white and she herself was laying down in a bed. Her body felt oddly heavy and weak. How long was she out cold like this?
"Ah, Naruto. It seems you're finally awake." a kindly voice spoke in a soft tone and she turned to look towards the voice, her neck groaning in protest.
"Kaka-Sensei?" Naruto asked softly as she shuddered and looked at her Jounin sensei who sat there aloofly. "What...what happened?"
Kakashi sighed softly as she put away her small orange book and leaned closer to her youngest student. "What do you remember?"
"I...was on a picnic with Haku." Naruto mumbled softly, her brow creased in confusion. "I was talking with him about maybe coming back to Konoha with...with his adopted father. Then...now." suffice to say the Genin felt confused and out of place.
Kakashi nodded slowly and then sighed under her breath as she pondered how exactly to say this and decided to just go with the truth. "You don't remember the past few days then. Three days ago Zabuza attacked the bridge with his accomplice. You showed up in the middle of the fight and helped save Sasuke."
"I did?" Naruto blinked, rubbing her eyes. "Sasuke needed help?"
Kakashi smirked under her mask at that. "She said so yesterday after she woke up."
"Wait. Sasuke woke up yesterday and I was out for three days? I've never slept that long before!" Naruto was even more confused.
"You've never gone through that kind of shock and chakra use before either, Naruto." Kakashi chided softly before going on. "Sasuke took a near fatal blow for you and you got very angry."
Naruto paled at that and looked wide eyed with apprehension apparently in her ringed and violet eyes. "What did I do?"
"You lost control for a little bit and nearly killed your opponent."
"He's not dead then?"
"You didn't kill him, no."
Naruto let out a small sigh of relief. "I don't like killing people."
"Only a real monster would Naruto. Remember that." Kakashi eye-smiled as she leaned back in her chair and continued on. "I'm not sure exactly what happened in the fight between you so you'll need to write up a report about it. I was fighting Zabuza and was about to kill him with a jutsu when that boy appeared to take the blow." The Jounin turned towards her student as she continued to speak. "I couldn't stop in time to shift my attack. You did save me when my arm got stuck though. Zabuza would have killed me if it wasn't for you."
"I...what?" Naruto blinked suddenly confused for a moment before she cursed under her breath. "I totally forgot I could do that!" Her voice ended screaming at herself as she palmed her forehead.
"We really do need to go over your abilities with the team." Kakashi muttered. "Regardless, I still managed to kill the boy. Gatou showed up and Zabuza killed him for being double crossed. He was fatally wounded in the process." Kakashi had counted it off on her fingers.
"Oh." Naruto murmured, nodding slowly before frowning once more. "Has Haku stopped by to see me yet?"
"About that..." Kakashi trailed off looking apprehensively at Naruto. "The boy helping Zabuza was Haku."
Naruto stared at Kakashi for several seconds before falling back down onto the bed without saying a word. It was a whole minute before she spoke again. "Can you just leave me alone for a bit Kaka-sensei?"
"Lunch will be waiting when you feel up to it Naruto, just get some more rest." Kakashi slowly pushed he chair back and left the room, once again reading her orange book.
Naruto turned onto her side, looking at her fingers slowly while thinking over what she'd just been told. As she traced the lines in her palm, she wondered why she couldn't remember what happened. It couldn't have been shock; she didn't believe that, if so she would have repressed several other vivid memories before now.
Honestly, she couldn't believe she didn't think to use Bansho Ten'in to pull Sasuke out of those Ice Mirrors. She knew exactly why she didn't use Shinra Tensei and that was because she didn't want to destroy the bridge. Naruto felt stupid and because of her lack of forethought she had nearly gotten Sasuke killed.
Yet at the same time, how did she even get to the bridge? She remembered the picnic with Haku and then those weird dreams and everything else felt fuzzy, very fuzzy. Clenching her fist closed, no longer tracing the lines as she closed her eyes tightly and took in a deep, shuddering breath.
She'd been so close to losing everything.
"I need to get stronger." She whispered softly. "I need to get stronger…I can't…I can't lose them."
Naruto laid there for a while longer before just simply falling asleep. She didn't feel hungry and not even Ramen would get her out of bed at the moment.
Sometimes…I hate myself.
Naruto looked up sullenly at the sky, a small curse escaping her lips as she did. The past week had been rotten as far as she was concerned; her new friend had turned out to be an enemy ninja and was killed in combat while she had pushed the entire incident from her memory. Sasuke had gotten several scars while saving her as well, though that resulted in the older girl receiving her Sharingan in the process so all was forgiven with thanks given around.
It didn't help Naruto's pride that she had been told two ANBU had shown up and helped deal with the mercenaries and subdued her from her frenzy. One look at Weasel-nii was enough to apparently send her into unconsciousness.
"This sucks." The blonde muttered.
"Think of the paycheque." Oddly enough it was Sakura that was the voice if reason in this case. The pink haired preteen had been the one to slaughter the mercenaries once Tazuna had been secured.
It was an odd sight to see the oldest of the three cackling while covered in blood.
Kakashi had never been more proud of her girls that day. They were even starting to develop their own oddities already.
"That's true." Naruto slowly nodded in response to Sakura. "Not like I need to pay rent, but I would like to do some more shopping."
"The two of us." Sasuke put in.
Their clothing had been torn to shreds, Sasuke's by Haku and Naruto's when she was in a rage.
"The three of us." Sakura amended, she only had brought enough clothes for while she was on mission and blood didn't come out that well. Her parents would freak.
"A team event after we report then." Kakashi smiled behind her book. "I need to do some shopping and I'll show you three some of the nicer shops." there was a faint pause when she saw Naruto's frown. Some shop keepers did prefer to ignore Naruto's presence completely after all. "They're staffed by former Jounin so they know their stuff."
That caused a brief smile from the youngest and shortest of the three before her face faded back to blankness.
It would only be a couple more hours and then they would all be back safe and home in Konoha. Now if only they had felt that way too. The mission to Wave was certainly an eye opener for all of them.
Once the gates were visible, Kakashi called for a momentary stop, Naruto gaining some interest in the sudden halt.
"I'll be delivering my report since those two ANBU went ahead with your statements. We'll meet tomorrow to go shopping and then you three have the rest of the week off." Their sensei put her orange book away, looking at the three of them individually.
The three of them looked at each other, blinking a few times before nodding in turn. Naruto was the one that spoke up though. "Ah, if it's alright with you Sensei, do you think we could just do some training over the week instead of having it off."
"Oh?" Kaka-sensei seemed oddly amused.
"We need to be better prepared." Sakura added helpfully.
"And Naruto needs to share some things." Sasuke grumbled a little while giving the blonde a small glare.
"Need to talk to some people first." Naruto huffed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "It's above your clearance level."
The other two Genin looked slightly confused about that but Naruto wouldn't say another word about it.
Sometimes…I hate you too.
It was late evening when Team Seven sat down while surrounded by various adults. Hokage-sama, Fugaku Uchiha, Shikaku Nara, and Jiraiya-sama were all in attendance
The three girls were nervous while their Jounin was indifferent as usual.
"Alright, Naruto. Your request has been granted for your team." The Hokage sat in a comfy chair, already puffing on a Pipe as he spoke around it.
"Then what's with Mr. F, the old dude, and Shika's dad?" Naruto asked with closed eyes and arms behind her head even as she sat there. Due to that she didn't see the small grimace that flashed its way across Jiraiya's face.
"Naruto, we mostly went over that with the rankings before our mission to Wave Country, but Nara-san is the village's Head Jounin. He's the primary supervisor for those of my rank and deals with the most reports and paperwork." Kakashi murmured softly as she sat forward on her chair. "For security reasons he has to know these kinds of things."
Before the redhead could respond she was interrupted by said 'old dude'.
"I, the Gallant Jiraiya-sama, great Sage and Summoner of the Toads, am here for the simple fact that I know the most about what's going on in this room. More than even you do, you little brat." The old man smirked as Naruto fumed about the insult.
"I'm not little you old man." She instantly retorted as she open her eyes to glare at Jiraiya.
"Oh? So you admit you're a brat then. Good to know." Jiraiya grinned triumphantly.
Naruto sputtered as both Sakura giggled and Sasuke smirked.
"Ahem." The Hokage coughed, garnering everyone's full attention. "The final reason being that, Naruto, what happened to you and your eyes has only been seen less than a dozen times in known recorded history. The first of who was the Great Sage, the man who invented Ninjutsu as we know it. The most recently known, though not recorded, was a man named Madara Uchiha, one of the Founders of Konoha, and is the reason why Fugaku-san is here."
Everyone looked startled at that information and the Hokage smiled briefly at that. "Indeed. The reason I know is because I was taught as a child by the First before he and Madara had their falling out and created the Valley at the End in their conflict. Madara taught me a few things as well."
"Wait, so you've known this entire time?" Naruto almost shrieked in demand, a hand pointing at the old man accusingly.
The Hokage shook his head slightly. "Not quite, I personally had no clue what they were and thought it to be just a stage of the Sharingan and had seen it once from a distance as a child younger than you are. My memories aren't what they used to be."
No one asked how the aging Hokage had remembered such a detail, but they were thankful he did.
"Now, personally I have already trained a student that had the very same eyes you had, Naruto." Jiraiya spoke grandly. "He had several different abilities though I'm not sure if you share them. What've you been able to do so far?"
"Ah... Well I can pull things to me and push everything away..." Naruto frowned in thought and snapped her fingers. "I can see what my clones see too! Oh and those eerie black chakra rod thingies."
"There was that floating thing when we were doing my test." Kakashi pointed out quietly.
"I forgot about that." Naruto murmured, tugging on some of her red hair.
"Probably an extension of you being able to push things away though nowhere near as forceful." The Hokage mused absently before glancing across at his pupil Jiraiya and nodding.
"There's also the fact that you used a jutsu without prior training." Kakashi idly remarked. "Elemental training, for your first element usually takes several months, if not years."
"Elemental training?" Fugaku asked with an arched eyebrow. "The Uchiha are the only clan that does any before Chuunin. What Jutsu was it?"
"Grand fireball." Sasuke spoke for the first time. "She saw me use it several times...then used it herself."
"It doesn't take me that long to learn a jutsu I'll have you know." Naruto retorted.
"Bunshin no Jutsu." Sakura chimed in
"...Jutsu with a lot of chakra needed." Naruto amended with a small pout.
"Your chakra control is atrocious by the way. You put way more than required into that fireball and it was smaller than mine." Sasuke said blandly.
Naruto clenched her teeth together, seething. "It was my first time!"
"Children!" Fugaku snapped out. "Apologies, Hokage-sama."
The Third just waved it off, this was nothing new to him. "Anything else, Naruto?"
The youngest in the room started to squirm a little, looking a bit scared. "When I stabbed that guy with one of the chakra rod thingies...I felt kinda funny. Like I was in his head."
Shikaku sat up at that and looked suddenly interested instead of just looking completely bored. "Explain."
Naruto wasn't expecting that kind of fierceness from someone that looked like Shikamaru but managed to force her fidgeting down. "L-Like he was one of my clones. I could see through his eyes and I got him to stop struggling for half a second before I pulled back and lost the...the link? I guess."
All of the adults frowned at that and glanced at each other. Best bit to discuss some things in front of the kids.
"Alright." The Third leaned back in his chair. "Now that that is out of the way we can move onto the remainder of this meeting. I would like to remind everyone that this is an S-Class secret and is to not be talked about outside of this room, even with someone that already knows. There is no guarantee that you will not be overheard and that is final. Understood?"
The entire room saluted to their leader suddenly and all rang out with a verbal confirmation.
"Excellent. As stated, this is Naruto's secret to tell. The adults already know and this is a burden no one else could have carried."
Naruto nodded slowly and steeled her resolve, clenching her fists together and spat it out. "The Kyuubi wasn't killed. He was sealed instead."
That raised a couple eyebrows from the adults as they all thought the same thing.
"Wait, wait, wait." Sakura held a hand up, while the other pinched the bridge of her nose. "We were taught that that Hokage-sama had killed the Kyuubi. Why were we lied to in the Academy?"
"Several reasons exists. None of which needs to be really gone over, though some should be obvious." Shikaku drawled out.
"The war with Kumo had already started and that was enough to get them to balk at forcing it to our borders." Kakashi explained from behind her book. "Our Hokage managed to kill a Biju and casualties for that sort of thing, while high, was a lot less than any may of expected. Security was at an all-time high...and there was also several internal incidents as well." No need to expand on that.
"To explain, Naruto is not the Kyuubi. The technical term is Jinchuuriki, or Human Sacrifice. Naruto is an important protector of Konoha and the Land of Fire as a whole."
Both Sasuke and Sakura glanced at Naruto an shrugged. She was the same person both had known for years. No big deal.
"Everyone has their secrets." Sasuke concluded.
Sakura nodded. "We wouldn't be Ninja if we didn't."
"Excellent. Team Seven is dismissed." The Hokage waved them out, the three children standing quickly and heading out while Kakashi took her sweet time, pausing at the doorway.
"Should I adjust their training schedule for the exams?"
It was Jiraiya that piped up, having gone over the rosters and knew exactly what was what from his own reports. "No. As much as I hate to admit it, Naruto is a show off, and while normally this would be good for the village as a whole, her potential could invite another war if she shows off what she's truly capable of. Nagato mastered all five elements without much in the way of elemental training while I was training those orphans. If word got out about what she could do, we'd have another war on our hands."
"So, she should wear her goggles again?"
"It would be for the best if only to prolong the inevitable. Not many Nin know about it, but there will be some that know of the rumors, not to mention any visiting dignitaries."
Kakashi nodded slowly and left after her team, leaving the four older men to talk about things. Perhaps it'd be best if she showed them all some differing techniques. After all she was planning on showing them how to walk on water this week too.
That and there were some certain rumors floating around...
Kakashi really wasn't surprised when her three minions were waiting for her outside of the Hokage's Tower. "Maa...let's go get some Ramen. My treat."
Naruto's shout of joy was enough to put a smile on Kakashi's face, even if she was wearing a mask.
Sometimes…I love myself.
Naruto woke up with a yawn, stretching her arms out idly before sitting up and idly scratching her belly. With her eyes blinking slowly, her sleep addled mind registered her bedroom and she pushed herself towards the side of the bed.
"Hate mornings." the girl muttered to herself as she padded to the door slowly, opening it and trudging to the kitchen for breakfast.
With a mumble, Naruto sat down at the table and started to dig into the food that was already set out, eating one of the fresh pancakes on her plate without comment before she finally realized what was going on. Jolting awake, her hand reached underneath the table for the Kunai she had placed there before she noticed exactly who was in her kitchen.
"Kaka-sensei?" the girl blurted out in bewilderment.
The older woman canted her head slightly as she paused in making some more pancakes. "Yo'."
Naruto was completely perplexed. "What're you doing here?"
"Ah. Hokage-sama suggested it. That and my place is apparently being renovated. I also used to live here." the silver haired woman shrugged as she responded in a bland tone while proceeding with more pancakes.
That last part got a flat stare for a split second before Naruto dug back into her pancakes. Another one was gone in a few quick bites and she pushed back a little. "Where did you get the stuff for pancakes, Kaka-sensei?" She knew she had milk, but none of the other fixings to make pancakes.
"I picked them up, brat." Another voice remarked from behind at the same time a heavy weight settled on Naruto's shoulders. "No need to go for the weapons, short stuff."
"Who the hell are you?"
"Anko, but you can call me Grand Mistress Mitarashi."
Kakashi snorted under her mask as she brought two more plates over and sat down in one of the chairs while pushing the other back with a foot. "Sit down and eat your pancakes Anko."
Naruto watched suspiciously as a purple haired woman sat on the opposite side of the table with Kakashi in between them. She noticed her sensei shrug slightly and went back to wolfing down her pancakes with a fervor. Breakfast, for the most part, proceeded smoothly from there with the only exception being a distraction from Kakashi pointing something out and her food disappearing without a sound.
"So...why are you in my house again?" Naruto asked, dumping her dishes into the dishwasher.
"Hokage's orders." Anko retorted blandly. "The old man wants some protection detail on you."
"Me? What the hell for?" Naruto blinked, cocking her head to the side.
Anko sighed in exasperation and looked hopefully over to Kakashi. "You explain it. I'm going to make some tea."
Kakashi rolled her single visible eye and shrugged a little. "Naruto, go get dressed. That cap is ridiculous looking on someone your age.
She got a red-eye and a stuck out tongue for that
After breakfast was finished and Naruto for dressed, they were out of the house on their last 'day' off before they started taking missions again. Anko had also decided to tag along and see exactly how Kakashi was training her little brats.
At Training Ground Three, they met up with Naruto, Kakashi, and Anko being there first.
"We're early." Naruto declared, looking to the training logs.
"Early?" Kakashi's sole eye widened comically. "We can't be early, that'll ruin my reputation!"
"You have a reputation?" Naruto blinked causing Anko to chuckle.
"Kakashi is late for everything. She'll be late for her funeral if she has her say in things." Anko smirked as she draped herself over Kakashi's shoulders. "Come on Hot Stuff, it's not like we'll ruin your image in front of the brats."
Kakashi just slumped with a sigh. This was ruining her reputation as a badass. At least Anko wasn't like Kurenai, always trying to get her to stop wearing her mask in public; she'd been working on this for almost two decades! "It took me a while to cultivate a certain image, Anko." Kakashi tirelessly explained.
"The image of a slacker, Kaka-sensei?" Naruto asked with a grin.
"Would you recognize me if my hair was down and without my mask, Naruto?" Kakashi shot back.
That caused the redhead to pause and gape for a moment, trying to wrap her min around such a thing. "Not possible!"
"That's how you managed to be an infiltration specialist?" Anko demanded as she continued to slump on Kakashi's shoulders.
"Only three living people have seen me without my mask more than once, Naruto." Kakashi intoned with almost malicious glee which caused the normally tanned Jinchuuriki to pale significantly.
"Who're the other two?" Anko asked since she knew she was one of them.
That's when Minion Two and Three showed up.
"My Ex, and the Third." Kakashi said with a faint shrug. "I killed the rest of them."
"Psycho-sensei!" Naruto shrieked and went to quickly hide behind Sasuke who had a bland yet perturbed look on her face.
"Maa, Maa...just don't try and take off my mask and I'll let you live." Kakashi eye smiled in that creepy way of hers and clapped her hands together. "Now since this is the last day of our vacation, and quit cowering behind Sasuke, Naruto, we'll be doing only some light training. Since we went over tree climbing before and during That mission, it's time to move onto Water walking."
"Bit early for that, isn't it?" Anko murmured from her spot against Kakashi's shoulders.
"Well, I'm going to push them into the Exams since they're held here, same with the rest of the rookie teams. After this they're held in Iwa, and then in Kumo, then Kiri before here again. The first one is obviously out, Kumo's probably still smarting from what happened a decade ago, and Kiri is a possibility after what we pulled in Wave..." Kakashi whispered in between making three Kage Bunshin to train each student in the fine art of Water waking despite there not being any water nearby. "But I'd prefer for it to be here. Better safe than sorry."
"Big softie." Anko murmured and pulled the side of Kakashi's mask down, leaving a kiss on the other woman's cheek. "Want me to start throwing Kunai at them when they start water walking?"
"Sakura first, she has the best control." Kakashi looked over and dispersed her Bunshin. "Alright my cute slave labour, time to go over to the river."
That was thankfully less than a hundred feet away and was at least twenty feet wide. Thankfully because Naruto kept squawking about not being a slave, or a minion, or cute, or even little despite the fact that little was never mentioned.
As predicted, Sakura went out fearlessly and was walking on water as if it was solid ground. Sasuke held back for a total of five seconds to activate her Sharingan, watch Sakura, turn it off and attempt it herself with a mostly huge success. She still sunk a few inches though.
Oddly enough, Naruto managed it fine as well, of course her feet were also glowing and she was causing the water to churn away from her.
"Naruto, tone down the chakra, your feet are glowing." Kakashi reprimanded.
"Aw, come on Kaka-sensei. Shouldn't I be working on how to do that floating thing?"
"You can learn how to fly after you learn to do this properly." Kakashi replied flatly.
Anko just laughed like a madman as she watched Team Seven and their oddball interactions.
About an hour later, with various comments from both Anko and Kakashi, the three preteens were finally resting on the grass.
"Right then. I can see that you three need to work on a few things but you're otherwise doing pretty good." Kakashi remarked as she stood over them. "Considering this the only all-female squad in Konoha, we do things differently."
"Better you mean!"
"Quite right, Sakura. We've already one over what you three need to work on before and I'm glad to say that I've seen marked improvements in two of you. Naruto's control at lower levels need a miracle however."
"Aw, come on, Kaka-sensei, this was tons easier than climbing a tree."
"That's because you rocket yourself off a tree when using too much chakra, idiot."
"Stuff it, Sasuke."
"Naruto, don't talk to Sasuke like that."
"Hey now, this isn't the Academy anymore."
"Yes, Sensei." All three rang out in chorus.
"Now, as I was saying, you three have been working hard lately, especially this last week which we were all supposed to have off. I was also saving this conversation for when you three were together. Naruto, the second reason I'm moving in is due to the Chuunin Exams coming up in a few weeks. Your protection detail is more open than it used to be and Yuugao will also be joining us." Kakashi smiled slightly at that.
"She managed to repeal a decision involving you since you're no longer a civilian and no longer under those laws." Anko chimed in.
Sakura asked the obvious, "Who is that?"
Naruto looked a bit conflicted as she answered. "My aunt, she changed her last name after...yeah. Do I get to know who my parents are then?"
Kakashi shook her head and grimaced a little. "Only if you get promoted."
"It'll be worth it." Sasuke murmured softly. "Any information we can have on the Chuunin Exams?"
"I'll be putting you three forward for the exams, no doubt the other two teams that passed will as well. So you two specifically have some choices to make." Kakashi pointed out.
Sasuke and Naruto both look intrigued while Sakura blinked a few times. "What were the other teams that passed? I really hope it wasn't Team One or Four..."
Kakashi smirked under her mask. "Teams Eight and Ten under Kurenai and Asuma. So you two need to decide if you're going back to that act or not."
Both of them change a glance before Naruto shook her head. "Not happening."
"Same." Sasuke agreed.
"I can't wait to see Ino-pig's face." Sakura crowed.
All of the others looked at her for a minute as she continued to cheer at the thought until Kakashi coughed into her fist. "Anyway, to avoid a potential problem as long as possible, Naruto you're going to have to start wearing your goggles again."
Naruto slowly nodded at that. "It's a good thing those are awesome and a gift from Jiji, Kaka-sensei. I'll start wearing them again tomorrow when we go for our mission tomorrow."
The Jounin nodded that. "Alright, now as much as you're not going to like it, we'll be back to D-Ranks until the Chuunin Exams. Only one or two depending on how long they take, and then it'll be Taijutsu training to up your speed and awareness levels."
"You can't tell us anything about the exams?" Sakura finally asked.
Anko stepped forward and looked almost apologetic. "Sorry kids, I'm a proctor in the exam so you three especially don't get to learn anything. Despite our profession, things have to be fair when you start the exams. How you get through them though...well, just don't get caught, you hear me?"
All three looked at the semi-crazy lady dating their sensei and nodded.
"Excellent." Kakashi clapped, bringing attention back onto her. "Regardless of how well you do, after the exams we'll be going through Elemental Training and some more advanced Ninjutsu. If you make it to the Third Stage, you'll be getting specific training that's already been mapped out in advance."
The three girls looked at each other and shrugged. "That it then?"
Kakashi shook her head. "Not quite, Sakura. Foreign Shinobi will be coming into the village in a week from now. You are to be polite ad somewhat accommodating while they're in the civilian sector. If you see one where they're not supposed to be, be careful, they might just be loaded, or worse. Stick together, watch each other's backs and call for backup."
"That's just sound advice to begin with." Naruto snarked. "Maybe the patrols should join into groups of two. Better safe than sorry."
"Normally that would be the Uchiha Police Force doing the job, but...well." Sasuke murmured softly.
"Maybe they should open up recruitment to other clans?" Sakura suggested, pushing a stead of hair from her face. "I mean, the Inuzuka, Aburame, and Hyuuga clans all would make good police officers.
Sasuke blinked owlishly for a moment, her mouth agape. The thought had never occurred to her, she was pretty sure it never occurred to any of her clan. They were used to doing things by their selves. "I'll mention it to Father."
"Heck, you could hire civilians for some of it too. Paperwork or something." Naruto shrugged as she added stuff in.
Kakashi coughed, bringing attention back to her suddenly while they all looked sheepish. "Right. Well, you three are dismissed. Meet at the bridge at the usual time."
"Cute, Naruto. Now, get."
"Hai, hai, sensei."
Sometimes…I love you too...
Naruto flopped down on her bed with a sigh. The week of D-Ranks had been mind-numbing and boring, with permission, she had gotten a couple of clones to do her share, proving that she really could see and communicate between them.
Both Sasuke and Sakura were jealous about that fact for a total of five seconds until they realized that Naruto's clones were speeding up the process so they could finish the stupid missions and get back to training. Except for walking the various Inuzuka Dogs and finding that blasted cat. That required way to much time and was a workout in of themselves.
"Tomorrow off. Right, I promised Kono..." she'd seen the Third's grandson a few times since she originally took her picture and foolishly taught the boy her secret technique to knock out pervs. He even had some friends who were emulating her goggles too, it was kind of cute in a childish sort of way.
They really needed to tone down on the explosives in that box of theirs though. They were fine and all, but not while you're crouched right beside them.
A knock on her door snapped her out of her thoughts. "Who is it?" Naruto called from her bed.
"Yugao." A head peaked in from the other side of the door, purple hair falling down into view.
"You don't need to knock, y'know." Naruto said, dropping her head back onto the pillow.
"You're not used to living with people yet, it's the polite thing to do." Yugao smiled a little as she came into the room and sat down on the bed. "Nervous?"
"About the Exams? Not really." Naruto shrugged. "Well, not yet."
Yugao chuckled at that. "Good point, I was a nervous wreck at my first exam." Pushing back some her hair she looked down at her niece. "Didn't even make it to the third stage the first time around. Neither did your Mother."
That bit of information caused Naruto to sit straight up an stare at her ain't for a moment. "You can tell me some stuff about Mom?"
Yugao grimaced a little. "Not much I'm afraid. I did get permission from Hokage-sama to tell you a little bit. Your last name is hers after all."
Naruto nodded slowly and smiled. "What was she like?"
"A lot like you actually, though prone to a few more outbursts while beating people up." Yugao chuckled and pulled her into a hug. "She had a verbal tic when she got flustered or excited, always saying -ttebane, much like your -ttebayo. She loved ramen and was a bit of a prankster."
"Really? I was just pretending to be like that..."
"And you were emulating her perfectly. It's part of the reason some of the older people in the village were nicer while you were in the Academy, they remembered her and put two and two together. You were all she would talk about while she was pregnant, and at least one of her wishes came true." Yugao smiled at her memories, seeing Naruto's questioning look, she elaborated. "Her best friend was Makoto Uchiha, she wanted you and Sasuke to grow up and be best friends like she was with Makoto."
Naruto was silent for a moment, unsure of what to say so she went with two simple words. "Thank you."
"The Uzumaki clan may be scattered across the Elemental Countries, but when we did find family, we stuck with them as well as we could." Yugao concluded gently.
Naruto blinked her ringed eyes and tilted her head to the side. "Is there anything you can tell me?"
"Not yet I'm afraid. Soon though. Now too bed. There's two days until the start of the Chuunin Exams." Yugao spoke sternly though with a soft smile as she stood.
Naruto nodded slowly, "I have some plans. No need to worry. Good night Yugao."
"Sweet dreams, Naruto."
Naruto closed her eyes as her aunt/cousin left her in the darkness of her room. "Sweet dreams, huh? Maybe when they stop being nightmares."
Turning on her side, cracking open an eye to look at the mirror in her room, she wondered if they were really nightmares from herself or what she contained. They felt like memories in the end, and as she stared at her reflection for a moment, she could feel laughter in the back of her head.
It had been years since she had heard that voice clearly, the Incident in Wave not counting. That had been her losing to her I unjustified grief. It was her fault that Haku was dead.
The laughter became whispers as she closed her eyes and fell into the darkness.
But mostly I hate everything.
Dreams of a man, fighting against a monster. Never winning, never losing. People all around we're dying while the survivors hoped and hoped.
Powers that cracked the land, destroyed so much, as hung constantly. A beast that was not a beast, thought to be a demon yet was entirely man made. Hated, feared, more power with every death.
Dreams of a final battle, bloodied and torn apart, allies dead all to just slow it down.
A flash of light.
A new moon in the sky.
Pain at all the loss.
So much pain...
Out of nothing it became One. One became Nine...and all Nine still feel that pain.
And there was still more to see, to dream...
The man died with a smile so many years later, the Nine all named, scattered apart, afraid they would rejoin and be One and destroy what He had saved.
Then it all faded to white...
All dreams end.
Reality takes hold.
Why do I exist?
Naruto started, eyes opening wide as she found herself in a familiar sewer in front of a rather memorable cage. It took a moment as se cleared her mind. "What do you want, Kyuubi?"
A singular moment of disgust crossed over its giant face before he brought his eye down to her level, features smoothed to neutrality as he did. "Your puny exams are coming up." it wasn't a question.
"Don't be petulant with me, child. There is trouble on the horizon. You are not ready." the giant fox seemed to sneer a moment. "You have opened Pandora's Box and gained access to all that entails, yet you do nothing about it."
Naruto looked confused as she ran hand through her red hair. "I was a child, I knew nothing back then."
"You still know nothing!" Kyuubi roared in her face, startling her and pushing her back. "You do not take it seriously you impudent little brat. You are his Heir and yet you do nothing!"
"What are you talking about you overgrown fur ball?" Naruto sneered back as she regained her courage.
"Your foolishness! You have access to more power, but you do not use it and even what you do use is a pale imitation of the real thing. Why do you hesitate, Naruto?"
The girl glared a moment longer then grimaced. "I don't want to hurt anyone."
"Yet you wish to be Hokage of this village? Hopelessly naive. To protect someone is to hurt another. To save is to kill. That is life you foolish girl, no matter your ideals, this is fact." For some reason, the Fox's face softened a little. "You swore to be stronger, did you not?"
A slow nod. "Why do you care?
The fox seemed to hesitate, though Naruto didn't notice. "You are my host, and with this seal, if you die, I die."
Naruto closed her eyes, trying to block out everything. She knew from her dreams that she hadn't even started to near her limit with what she could do. Frankly, Naruto knew if she bothered to train properly she would be able to advance her abilities much further.
"You are afraid." The Fox cut into her reverie. "If you are not strong enough, you will lose them. If you are too strong, you will lose them." That left her looking aghast and paranoid.
"How did you know?" Naruto demanded.
The Fox seemed to sneer at her. "Idiot girl. I have been around since the Time of your precious Sage. I have been in your pathetic village since near its founding. You are easy to read and comprehend. I am a mass of sentient chakra; I can learn and grow, adapt and change." It paused there for half a second and that time Naruto noticed a look of longing. "I first appeared to you as a human because you could not comprehend what I was until that moment."
Naruto slowly nodded, thinking back and remembering the man with shaggy red hair reminiscent of her own. He had looked oddly familiar too, but there was something about the body an face she just couldn't place. The shell had been her unconscious thought of what power had been.
The fox watched a moment as Naruto tried to think before finally interrupting her. "He left his mark on all of us. Now leave this place. It is time to wake up...and more appropriately, grow up."
A gust of wind came out of nowhere, shoving Naruto backwards, falling down into the water and with a splash, her eyes flashed open. The ceiling was above her, innocent and white.
"Time to train."
A few minutes later, Naruto was dressed, wearing her goggles as well, and ready to face the day once more. Breakfast was a rather quick affair, she was up, eating and out with just a few quick comments to Yugao, Kakashi, and Anko who had decided to stay over again.
Kakashi seemed to give her a proud look just before she rushed out the door. She needed to train and had a promise to keep with Kono and his little friends. Just as she was rounding the corner, she paused to a halt however.
"Gah. I'm so stupid. I keep forgetting I can multitask." She face palmed in annoyance at her own stupidity then made six Kage Bunshin. They nodded at each other and started to speak despite not needing to. "I'll play a bit with Kono since I promised."
"I'm going to hit up the Library." Said one as she tapped her nose just beneath her goggles. "The goggles might give me away though, so I might get dispelled."
The second shrugged. "Maybe. Last time they saw us with goggles we were wearing The Jumpsuit and were pretending to be a boy." The clone took a step back and absently posed. "Do we look like a boy now?"
"Why are you talking like that anyway?" The original asked, nodding in agreement though.
"Er…we don't know? Quirk we guess? We are sharing thoughts though. Anyway, we're off to practice decreasing time between Jutsu." The second shrugged again, no longer posing.
"Muscle Memory." The third spoke, not offering up anymore.
Original stared for a moment. "Right."
"Why are we talking out loud anyway?" Four blinked behind her goggles. "Anyway. I'm gonna work on Chakra control. The tree climbing one."
"Same." Chorused the last two, speaking in unison with a smirk on their faces. "Water though."
"Doing it with your hands should be difficult, but should be helpful." The original nodded. "I'll just make more if you disperse." They all nodded at that and ran off in different directions causing Naruto to wince a little. Seeing seven different locations all at once was a bit harder than seeing everything in one clearing.
"Need to practice with this Jutsu too I guess." Naruto mumbled as she landed in an alleyway. Now she'd just have to find Kono...probably in that box of his too.
Why do you exist?
Naruto blinked behind her goggles as she went over just what had happened. First she had met with Konohamaru as she had promised back when she had first met the brat, a quick Henge and she was wearing her track suit again as then let him follow her in that rectangular box of his.
Seriously? A box with eyes?
"Kono. You're not fooling anyone." She had said in a rather flat tone.
The explosions caught her by surprise though. Three of them in different smoke. Waaaay to much powder. It was amusing to see three little brats coughing though
" I told you to use less!" the girl shrieks, pulling her own set of goggles above her eyes and glaring at Kono.
"Sorry!" The kid shied back to avoid being whacked, trying to protect his own goggles at the same time
The third one, wearing glasses and goggles snickered while trying to wipe away the snot leaking from his nose with some tissue.
"Smooth." Naruto drawled out, forcing her voice into a deeper and more guttural octave. "Rocks don't have eyes like that either Kono."
Konohamaru laughed sheepishly before striking a pose. "See, I told you the Boss was the greatest!"
Naruto watched as all three introduced themselves with a pose, more colored smoke explosions, and outlandish introductions that would put a smile on a certain Jounin'a face. "Cute." Naruto deadpanned eventually and then let out a faint smile. "It's been a while, huh? You copying my look?" Naruto pointed absently at the goggles and lack of scarf around Konohamaru's neck.
"Yeah." Kono nodded along with his friends. "I even showed them that Jutsu you taught me!"
Naruto winced at that and then red Moegi, thankfully her own eyes hidden behind her goggles. "And you have no problem with that technique?"
"It's great for distraction." the girl shrugged, "We get away with a lot of things when we do our new Combination Jutsu with that as our base."
"Ebisu-sensei goes flying." The third kid remarked. "We usually get an extra hour of free time. When we do it while he's lecturing." That statement was followed by another set nods from all three kids.
"Why I came up with it." Naruto nodded sagely, cupping her chin. "It works on all sorts of people, though one must be fast in their getaway when trying to deal with an outraged female." Despite the fact that Naruto was indeed female, she winced in memory at the beat down she nearly received at all the other girls in the Academy. They had, of course, been offended by the complete objectiving image that Naruto's specific Henge portrayed without realizing what it had just done.
Knock people for a loop and giving her ample free time to either retaliate, or in the case of the Scroll, run away.
"Anyway. It's great that you three've figured out the purpose of the Sexy Jutsu." Naruto finally nodded with a grin. "And I did promise I'd play Ninja with you when I had free time. First though..."
"Who ever heard of a Ninja playing Ninja?" A voice cut in, causing all four to whirl around to look at the newcomer.
Sakura stood there with her hands planted on her hips as she seemed to cock her head to the side and stare at Naruto for a moment. The pinkette looked oddly amused. "Why are you wearing that, Naruto?"
"I was just..."
"Who's this boss?" Konohamaru asked with a sly grin. "Is she your...?" He continued, holding up his pinkie.
Sakura's amused look instantly turned forced and only Naruto noticed her twitching brow, causing the transformed girl to chuckle nervously.
"Well, no. We're...teammates. Yeah. Uhm..." Naruto looked nervously at Sakura who seemed to be calming down.
That's when Kono opened his big mouth. "Well you can do better. She's kinda flat, boss."
"Flat." Sakura repeated, her features slackening as she walked up and bashed Kono down to the ground with a closed fist.
"Hey, what the hell you flat hag? No wonder the boss ain't interested! Ugly!" Kono blabbered on and the other two kids made themselves scarce. They knew what was coming an wanted no part of it.
"Flat...ugly...hag..." Sakura repeated in a dead voice, a vein on her forehead throbbing.
"Shit. Kono you idiot! Run for it!" Naruto snapped as she grabbed the younger boy and bolted.
"Come back here and let me kill the both of you!" Sakura snarled.
"Run for it!"
"I'll turn your skulls into hats!"
Naruto had thrown Konohamaru forward with enough force to give the boy enough time to stumble into a run and remain just ahead of Naruto when she caught up to him, Sakura hot on their heels.
That's when they took a corner and Kono ran straight into someone wearing pajamas. Naruto quickly followed, slamming into both Kono and the one in the catsuit pajamas knocking all three to the ground and dispelling Naruto's Henge. The jumble of bodies barely missed the girl next to them and Sakura skidded to a halt just around the corner, her look of fury replaced with amusement.
"Get off me!" The boy roared angrily, coughing out the smoke from Naruto's Henge disappearing and swinging violently at the two of them.
He would have connected if it wasn't for the metal edge of giant something or another slamming into his head, knocking him down to the ground. "Kankuro, you don't hit girls like that!"
"Girl?" Kono sputtered indignantly as he flailed backwards, falling on his rear in an effort to untangle and get away. "I'm not a...Boss! You're a girl!"
Naruto groaned as she rubbed her slightly bruised jaw. "Of course I'm a girl...I was just gonna tell you later today." She shrugged and pushed herself up and away from the one named Kankuro. "Sorry about that."
Kankuro growled as he stood up, checking his clothing as he did, nothin seemed amiss and he pulled off the thing wrapped together on his shoulder. "Sorry?"
Sakura rolled her eyes and walked up, pulling Konohamaru tightly against her with an enforced smile. "You'll have to forgive the Hokage's grandson. He's a bit energetic when he's running." The 'for his life' part was left completely unsaid, but everyone could see the sweat beading down the young boy's head.
"Don't start something, Kankuro." The girl reminded, hefting her metal weapon in one hand threateningly. "He might be nearby."
"Fine, Temari." Kankuro grumbled, looking at the three younger Leaf Nin. "Watch where you're going next time!"
Naruto frowned slightly as she realized she didn't know either of the two. "Where are you two from anyway?"
"Seriously Naruto?" Sakura demanded.
"It's a legitimate question!" The redhead defended.
"Kami above." Sakura seemed to deflate and shoved Kono aside and gave the brat the evil eye. "They're from Suna, look at their Hitae-ate."
Naruto's head swiveled to the two foreign Nin who were looking amused and shrugged. "I skipped that day. So, you're here for..?"
"You must be new Genin if you don't know." Temari spoke with a fair smile. "We're here for the Chuunin Exams."
Naruto blinked a few times at that information then decided something on the spot.. "Sakura-chan?"
The pinkette looked up from glaring viciously at Konohamaru. "Yes Naruto?"
Naruto visibly winced at the overly sweet tone the other girl used. "When did we graduate again?"
Green eyes rolled in exasperation. "it's been three months, Naruto."
The red head pouted childishly. "...and we've only been on six missions? Never mind that...why hasn't Kaka-sensei told us about the Chuunin Exams?"
"Kakashi probably forgot." A third voice interrupted from a nearby tree.
Sasuke was sitting there with her legs crossed and juggling a couple of pebbles in one hand while looking down on the rest imperiously, as if she was Queen of the World. The two Suna Nin blinking a few times when they realized neither had noticed the girl.
That brought Naruto back into the here and now as she blinked a couple more times.
"Hey." She suddenly cut in as she looked at the tree Sasuke was sitting on. "Who the Hell are you?"
Before Sasuke could say anything, a frown on her face, a voice interrupted her thoughts. "Temari, Kankuro...you've not been a disgrace."
He sounded amused to Naruto's ears, even if there was an undercurrent of malice.
Sasuke had looked startled for a split second as the presence registered with those words before disappearing in a swirl of sand and reappearing in front of Naruto. Both of the Suna Nin looked oddly nervous all of a sudden too.
"G-Gaara." Kankuro seemed to stutter out while Temari remained silent.
Gaara stared a moment before turning and looking at Naruto a moment. "Sabaku no Gaara." He introduced himself in a gravelly voice.
"Naruto Uzumaki." She introduced herself back, a frown coming across her own features as Sasuke hopped down and stood beside her. "Your chakra...is familiar."
Gaara stared flatly for a moment before nodding curtly. "One." He finally uttered.
"Ah." Naruto nodded slightly, scratching her chin idly. "Nine. There won't be any trouble will there?"
Sasuke, Sakura, and Konohamaru frowned at the byplay, concentrating on the two of them and only Naruto noticed how stiff both Suna had instantly become. Gaara looked slightly excited before a frown creased his lips and a hand came up to the symbol of love etched into his forehead. A moment of silent agony passed before...relief?... passed it's way over Gaara's features.
"No." Came the simple answer.
Naruto nodded and grinned suddenly, breaking the tenseness. "Sweet." She moved an draped an arm around Gaara's shoulder. "That means we're going to be great friends. You eaten yet?"
A silent yet shocked shake of Gaara's head had Naruto suddenly extolling the virtues of Ramen as she led the other redhea off to Ichiraku's. Konohamaru broke Sakura's grip and chased after the two leaving the other four standing there.
Sasuke and Sakura were shakin their heads while Kankuro and Temari were left with mouths agape.
"But no one has ever touched Gaara before..." Temari trailed off shocked.
Sasuke turned an amused eye to the older girl. "That's Naruto for you." She shrugged and went back to juggling both pebbles in one hand. "Sakura." A nod an then both Konoha Nin left, leaving the Suna Nin to shake their heads.
"We need to tell Baki about this."
Neither of them noticed the clone of Naruto who had been standing on top of the nearest building, watching the entire goings on.
What is my purpose?
"Is that anyway to be towards your sensei, Sakura-chan?"
"Yeah, yeah, just give us your excuse so we can get on with the day."
Sakura was in a fine showing with her snark lately, and she wasn't letting up, even glaring at Naruto and muttering 'Skullhat' to the other girl to freak her out.
"Well, if you really want to know, I officially nominated you three for the Chuunin Exams." That stunned all three students and Kakashi was visibly smirking behind her mask. "Though I'm sure you're wondering why." They had gone through this before, but it was best to make sure anyway.
"Rookies haven't been part of the Chuunin Exams for five years." Sakura recited, getting incredulous looks from both Naruto and Sasuke. "I looked it up after we were told a couple weeks back."
"Quite." Kakashi drawled amusedly as she leaned against the railing and pulled out her constant orange book. "The reasons for nominating this team are three fold. Can you guess what those reasons are?"
The three Genin looked at each other, Naruto grimacing slightly as she realized two reasons. "I'm two of the reasons, aren't I?"
"Sasuke-chan is the other." Sakura charmed in cheerful, mock leering at the other girl.
"Right. We've had reports about some organizations that are interested in your eyes, Sasuke. You're the most able bodied Uchiha left due to ltachi's illness and your Father's injury."
"What about kaa-san?" Sasuke blinked in confusion.
"That is best answered by her." Kakashi said softly. "As for Naruto, same reasoning obviously applies, though to a lesser degree since that's been a decently kept secret save for those that have actually seen you, and that's just a few Chuunin and customers." Her voice had taken on a lecturing tone and she was glad to see her three students paying attention. "The last reason being that nice information you learned not to long ago about seals."
Comprehension dawned on all three though that caused Naruto to frown even further. "What about Gaara then?"
Kakashi looked intrigued. "Gaara is who?"
"One of the Suna Nin we met yesterday." Sasuke started to explain. "He was with a Temari and Kankuro."
"Ah, the Kazekage's children, what about them?"
"Well. You know about number nine." Naruto looked around as she spoke. "He could tell, he is my number one cousin after all."
Kakashi's face went completely expressionless. "Great. You talked about that in the middle of the street?"
Naruto rolled her eyes behind her goggles. "Of course not. It was just the seven of us and we were being intentionally vague about it. Kono was too locked up over the fact that I'm a girl."
"And because I kept his ears boxed shut." Sakura murmured.
Kakashi just gave her a look over her book. "Anything else I should really know?"
"Gaara said he wouldn't be any trouble, but one of my Kage Bunshin overhead his teammates they'd need to talk to a Baki right away." Naruto supplied. "They looked tense, scared, and pale."
"Which is surprising due to all that makeup Catboy was wearing. Purple lines all over his face, seriously?" Sasuke asked with a shake of her head.
"You've grown a bit to fashion obvious Sasuke." Naruto snarked.
"Better than you and all that orange." Sasuke retorted flatly.
Kakashi rolled her eye and gave each of her students a once over. "You all need to carry more Hidden Weapons. Sakura, the senbon in your hair is a nice touch. Anyway, as I said, the Chuunin Exams, you're entered, if you feel like showing up, take these and be at the room listed."
Sakura was the first to snatch hers, looking at it hungrily while the other two shook their heads.
"Lunch?" Naruto shrugged at Sasuke's question.
"Promotion, promotion, promotion...!"
Both followed the pink haired girl who was gleefully chanting the same word over and over again.
I'm so lost…so confused…