This idea came to be due to a conversation in one of the forums. "What if Sasuke had died early in the story?" was the basic scenario. From there, of course, it turned into "He would commit suicide" "Itachi went too far and killed him" and so on. I decided to try my hand at this and this is what I came up with. Sorry for any grammatical mistakes or plot-holes. I literally took the idea, brainstormed on it for a while, and started writing.

This is set during the Wave Arc, right as they are confronted by Zabuza.


"Hatake Kakashi, I never thought this mission would have me crossing paths with someone like you" The tall man, who stood on the hilt of the large sword that was buried deep into the tree, stated. The mirth in the man's voice was clear as day, even for someone as slow as Uzumaki Naruto or as sheltered as Haruno Sakura.

The Konoha-jounin narrowed his lone visible eye as he stared up at the man that was easily recognizable as... "Momochi Zabuza, "Demon of the Hidden Mist"..." Kakashi grit his teeth at the unexpected arrival of such a high-ranking nuke-nin. If he had been on his own then he would've have worried as much but with the civilian client and the three genin posing such easy targets...not to mention the fact that he hadn't been on a real mission in nearly 4 years...

Pushing up his hitae-ate, Kakashi moved his free arm to the side gesturing the three genin to back away as well as verbally warning them "Protect the client and keep back, this fight is out of your league."

"Heh, showing your infamous Sharingan-eye so early? I feel honored" Zabuza chuckled as he let himself fall down behind his blade, grabbing onto the hilt and pulling it from the tree with ease. Once his weapon was free the nuke-nin simply vanished before reappearing in the middle of the lake that was only a dozen yard away.

"My target is the old-man, but it seems...' Zabuza started as he brought up his arms, one hand in front of his face while the other was extended straight upwards. The Konoha team and the bridge-builder watched as the mist around them began to grow thicker '...that that I'll have to beat you first, Sharingan no Kakashi. Kirigakure no jutsu!"

Upon activating the jutsu, the mist surrounding the area instantly thickened into a dense blanket which practically blinded the Konoha team. Kakashi had quickly moved in front of his team and the client, glad that they had at least stayed in the diamond-formation he had taught them. Seeing this, the Hatake began to formulate his strategy, he never noticed how his mind's-eye entered a tunnel-vision as he focused only on finding Zabuza and ending the mist-technique.

"Eight choices...' a distorted voice echoed, causing the three genin to tense which only grew worse as a heavy sense of danger began to settle upon them ' lungs, liver, spine, clevical vein, neck vein, brain, kidneys, heart. Which one should I go after?" Kakashi's eyes narrowed and he instantly vanished as he rushed the source he had pin-pointed not realizing what the consequences of this decision would be. As soon as his calming presence had vanished each of the three genin reacted in their own way.

Uzumaki Naruto was an orphan. As any orphan of Konoha can tell you, after much pressure and/or reassurance, a Konoha orphan spends at least a year of their lives on the streets. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but they always spend enough time to learn what "true horror" really is. Uzumaki Naruto was one of the very few who could, if he ever admitted it, say that he had spent more than two years on the streets. That would be as much as he would ever willingly admit, however, but it would still paint the precise picture needed for this moment. Though he was intimidated by the oppressing aura that Zabuza was exuding, he was not afraid. He had lived in fear for a long time before entering the academy and learning how to defend himself. He had also been face to face with a being whose aura dwarfed the Kiri-nin's a thousand fold. In short, Uzumaki Naruto remained where he was for the simple fact that he had no clue what to do.

Haruno Sakura was born from a civilian family. She was a first-generation shinobi. The closest that Sakura had ever come to experiencing fear was when she believed that she would never have a friend when she joined the academy. Once Yamanaka Ino had befriended her and had given the pink-haired girl her confidence, Sakura had become a whole new person. While she could still become intimidated or even afraid she would, instead of showing her true emotions, lash out in anger. The biggest example of this was her response to any and all of Naruto's advances. She had never once given thought to pushing herself in training, to actually breaking a sweat and trying to become stronger. For Haruno Sakura, if she was ever in trouble then 'Sasuke-kun' would come to save her, and that was all she needed to know. So, now, when she was under the affects of Zabuza's KI, she did what any weak-willed person would do in the same situation, she reached for her kunai and attempted to 'make it all stop'

Uchiha Sasuke was an orphan. The reason for Sasuke's orphan-status, however, were far different from Naruto's. As most in Konohagakure, and the rest of the Elemental Nations, knew; Uchiha Itachi had massacred the entire Uchiha clan single-handedly, leaving only himself and his younger brother as the sole survivors. Of course Sasuke's nightmare didn't end there, Itachi had also nearly turned his mind into mush via the use of the Tsukiyomi technique. The Tsukiyomi, a high-level genjutsu that can only be used by those with the Mangekyou Sharingan. Sasuke had been forced to relive the deaths of every single one of his Uchiha brethren for seventy-two hours. It seemed like some cosmic joke that the 'seventy-two' hours happened inside of a second, it had all but broken Sasuke and had left him unconscious in the hospital for two weeks.

The young Uchiha had seen so much in such a short period of time that his mind had never fully recovered from it, while he would never have admitted to it, he was not prepared for a mission outside the village that had a chance of encountering a battle. He was not prepared for his sensei's rotten trick by pretending to be killed by the Demon Brothers, he was not prepared for the client's real story, he was not prepared for Zabuza's KI. He absently noticed that Naruto had moved towards Sakura and was shouting about something, he didn't care though. All he cared about was ending this nightmare, he could hear his mother's screaming for Itachi to stop. He could see the bodies of his clansmen laying in pools of their own blood. He could see his brother staring down at him and calling him weak and 'too pathetic to kill'. He wanted it to stop, all of it, and he wanted it to stop now.

Naruto cursed when he saw what Sakura was doing, while he didn't really know why she was doing it, he definitely realized what her intentions were. He quickly moved forward and tackled her to the ground, grabbing hold of the kunai she had been moving towards her own neck and trying to wrestle it from her grip. He noticed that Sakura wasn't even looking at him and she tried to regain control of the sharp-edged weapon and did the only thing he could think of.

Slap!

Sakura blinked as she held her stinging cheek and blearily stared up at the blonde who was still on top of her. Letting him help her to a sitting position, Sakura looked around and almost screamed in shock when she saw that Tazuna was right next to Naruto staring at her worriedly. Breathing a sigh of relief at seeing a familiar face Sakura turned back towards Naruto but ended up looking over his shoulder and passed him to a dark figure that had caught her eye. She watched in morbid fascination as the figure brought up something towards it's head, stood there for a second and then collapsed forward with an audible 'thump'

Instincts forced Sakura to push Naruto out of the way and jump to her feet, as fast as she could, she scrambled towards the figure hoping to Kami and any other god listening that her thoughts were wrong. Naruto, who had all but forgotten the life-or-death situation he and his team were in, stood up alongside Tazuna then pouted in his female teammate's direction. 'what do I have to do to get her attention?' he idly wondered. His thoughts were instantly cut by a heart-stopping scream.


xKonoha - Council Chambersx

"Thank you Uzumaki-san, that will be enough" Mitokado Homura stated as he and his fellow counsellors finished writing on the files in front of them.

The young blonde simply nodded, showing absolutely no emotion. To all that looked upon him, he seemed dead.

"Now, at this point in the report, you were unaware that Genin Uchiha Sasuke was attempting the same action that Genin Haruno Sakura was?" Homura questioned.

Naruto stared back "Yes. I saw Sakura trying to...do that and I reacted, I didn't even turn towards Sasuke and I completely forgot about the client." Sarutobi Hiruzen, Sandaime Hokage, sighed when he heard the blonde admit that. While he knew it was hard for Naruto to admit his failings, and thus this was a step in the right direction to maturity, the aging leader also knew that in this case, it would've been better if Naruto had simply lied or left certain parts out. The only thing that stopped Naruto from being punished was the fact that the client had lied and the 'easy C-rank mission' had turned into an A-rank. No genin team would've been able to handle that situation, nor should they be.

"Hm. What moment, exactly, led you to utilizing the Kyuubi's chakra?" Naruto's eyes widened a bit before his memory reminded him that both he and Kakashi had reported what Naruto had done in response to the death of his teammate. The blonde slowly looked up and stared into the eyes of the elder advisor, not realizing how much of his pain he was visibly sending towards Homura. "It after I knew Sasuke was..."


xWavex

The blonde spun around and gaped, wide-eyed, at the scene before him. Though he couldn't see his male teammate, the sight of the pink-haired girl leaning over Sasuke was more than enough to paint a perfect picture in his mind. He was next to Sakura before he knew it and was frantically shaking Sasuke by the shoulders.

"Wake up Teme! Now's not the time to sleep!" He shouted shakily. His voice trembling as much as his hands despite the death-grip he had on the Uchiha's shirt.

The sound of laughter followed by a thud sounded through the air and the two genin were quick to turn around only to find the Kiri-nin standing calmly over the decapitated form of Tazuna. The eyebrow-less man looked towards the genin, but before he could move his view was blocked by the reappearance of Kakashi. Their sensei was bleeding slightly from his right arm and he was breathing was hard, despite the small urging from both genin for their sensei to help Sasuke, the man did not turn around to face them. Had they seen his face they most likely would've fainted from fear.

Hatake Kakashi cursed his soul to the deepest depth of hell. He mentally berated himself long and hard for his failure, not only had he allowed his unprepared genin team to take a C-rank mission, but he had allowed them to continue it once it was apparent that the mission should've been given a higher classification. The arrival of the Demon Brothers should've had Kakashi leading his team back to Konoha, the arrival of Momochi Zabuza should've had him calling upon all his years of experience in ANBU and under the tutelage of Namikaze Minato. All those years participating in a war, those memories of his lost teammates, the memory of his lost sensei. All of this should've had him inside Zabuza's guard within a single moment and dispatching the man.

This, of course, did not happen. Kakashi wasn't known as "Sharingan-no-Kakashi" for no reason, ever since gaining the Sharingan he had limited himself to simply copying his opponents before finally bringing them down. So long had it been since he was in ANBU that he no longer simply killed an enemy and moved on. He had believed himself to be an "elite" just as the village proclaimed him to be, a "genius" that was nearly without equal. He had allowed his ego to do all the thinking for him and thus he was punished. The man with the mixed-matched eyes stared hard at the Kiri missing-nin. He would not turn towards his students because he knew he would falter. Sasuke was dead. He knew this and there was nothing he could do about it. He had allowed himself to be occupied by a Mizu-bunshin and hadn't even thought about checking on his students to ensure they were okay after being put under the effects of Zabuza's KI. He had absently registered that Naruto had saved Sakura from Sasuke's fate and the Hatake was grateful for at least that much; now, playtime was over.

"Not going to say anything, Hatake?' Zabuza chuckled, raising his sword into a casual position. 'Kubikiribocho is a bit thirsty for more of your blood. That drunkard's was crap compared to yours." The former member of the Seven-Swordsmen frowned when Kakashi didn't answer. In an instant both men vanished, reappearing a split-second later, their positions reversed and their backs to each other.

Kakashi sighed as he lowered his headband over his eyes and turned to face Zabuza "May you rot in hell Zabuza, and learn what a true 'demon' really is" As if punctuating his statement, Zabuza collapsed to his knees, the large sword clanging to the ground.

Naruto and Sakura stared in shock at how easily their sensei had taken down Zabuza, their shock was short-lived however when a rain of senbon peppered the ground all around them forcing Naruto to grab Sakura and run for cover while Kakashi deftly knocked the ones closest to him away.


xKonohax

Naruto stopped talking and looked towards Kakashi who simply nodded. They both knew this was about the point where Naruto's mind had ceased functioning, so to speak. The Hatake stepped forward allowing his genin to move back a few paces.

"I had been vaguely aware of a second presence in the surrounding forest but wasn't sure what to make of it. The battle had taken all of my concentration and I, admittedly, had tuned everything else out. When Zabuza went down, I believe his accomplice lost his composure and attacked. It wasn't until the fake hunter-nin appeared that Zabuza revealed he hadn't been as injured as I had been led to believe."

Shimura Danzo, one of the eldest of the council aside from the Hokage, Koharu and Homura, leaned forward. "Do you mean to imply that a shinobi of your caliber could not differentiate between a downed opponent and one that is playing possum?" The man questioned, his voice calm and measured but the incredulity was apparent to most.

Kakashi shook his head "That was not the case, I saw the wound I gave Zabuza myself. Even if it wasn't a fatal blow he should've been at least incapacitated. He stood as if the wound I gave him was a pinprick. His accomplice was also strong in his own right, revealing a kekkai genkai that was thought to have been wiped out during the Kiri Bloodline-Massacres. The Hyoton."

A few ears perked at this information and Danzo had to admit to himself that he would've been just as interested if he didn't already know the Hyoton-user was dead. Deciding to nip the ensuing, unneeded questions, in the bud he nodded grudgingly "Your report did mention the appearance of a Hyoton-user, as well as his death" The last part was aimed towards the greedy council-members who, no doubt, were waiting to find out where the person was in hopes of some farfetched breeding program or marriage proposal. It made the three-war veteran sick to his stomach to see such greed on the faces of his fellow villagers, they knew nothing beyond their wallets and stomachs, thinking of nothing but what they stand to gain rather than what they stand to lose.

"It was at this point that you, yourself, were incapacitated by the Hyoton-user's jutsu and placed into a position in which Momochi Zabuza was capable of ending your life, correct?" Utatane Koharu spoke up, her countenance leaving little to the imagination of how bored and impatient she was with the proceedings.

Kakashi nodded "Yes, Utatane-dono. It was at this time that the fight was effectively brought to a close due to Naruto-kun's involvement."

Koharu's gaze turned from Kakashi to Naruto and she noticed how the young boy flinched under her eyes. "Uzumaki Naruto, before we hear the rest of the report I wish for you to understand a very important point. Neither myself, nor my fellow advisors and especially not the Hokage, see you as any less of a person than before you left the village. You are a shinobi of Konohagakure, you are the jailer to the most destructive and powerful demon that has ever walked the Elemental Nations. You are an orphan who has struggled to gain what little you possess and yet you still smile in the face of adversity. As Hokage-Sama is prone to say, You are the embodiment of the 'Will of Fire'. Be proud of yourself and think little of the fact that you used a tool in your possession in order to save the lives of your team." Homura and surprisingly Danzo both nodded in agreement.

Upon saying this, the elderly woman turned back to Kakashi and gestured for him to continue the report. A very small few kept their eyes on Naruto, they were the only ones to see the genuine surprise shining in his eyes due to Koharu's words. Those few instantly vowed to themselves that they would help the young jinchuuriki the next time they were given the chance. Hiruzen relaxed in his seat and let a small smile appear on his face, he had always wondered what Koharu and Homura really thought of Naruto. Of course he knew what Danzo thought, "a weapon", but even still, Hiruzen knew that his old rival held Konoha's interest in his heart. However, to hear Koharu speak so highly of Naruto and to have Homura mirror it...Hiruzen sighed, he was truly losing it if he had never noticed their true feelings on such an important matter.


The council watched as the Hokage stood from his seat and only a handful of them were surprised to hear what he said "Now that this hearing is concluded, and since this was never a trial of any sorts that would result in punishment for either shinobi, it is time to decide what the future of Team 7 shall be. They have lost one teammate while another is currently admitted to the psychiatric-ward until further notice. If and when Haruno Sakura is deemed ready to return to active duty, she will be far behind Uzumaki Naruto and will not be capable of simply being placed back in her original squad. Are there any suggestions that will not cause me any undue irritation or anger?" The aged man finished mildly, a casual glance being sent towards Danzo who either didn't notice or completely ignored it.

A few members of the council seemed incensed by the Hokage's words, immediately understanding that no punishment was going to be given to the one they felt was to blame for the death of Uchiha Sasuke. It was only the the obvious show of support coming from more than half of the shinobi clan heads as well as the Hokage's advisors that stayed their tongues.

"If there is no suggestions then perhaps I will make my own." Danzo spoke after a few moments of silence. Hiruzen sighed internally already knowing what his rival was going to say, he opened his mouth to quickly put a stop to it when a thought struck him.

"You mean to suggest that you take Naruto under your tutelage, Danzo?" The 'God of Shinobi' eyed his rival who seemed to be gritting his teeth, no doubt believing he was going to be once again denied. Hiruzen then turned towards the now-worried Kakashi and the unresponsive Naruto.

"Very well Danzo, I will permit you to train Uzumaki Naruto until such a time that I decide that he is to be placed elsewhere" Kakashi, Homura, Koharu and even Danzo were caught completely off-guard by the Hokage's words. There were some stirrings from the other councilors but they kept their thoughts to themselves 'as they should' Hiruzen thought.

"However,' The Sandaime continued, causing Danzo's visible eye to open slightly, 'seeing as how I have had my reasons for barring you from training Naruto-kun in the past, I will be placing a certain stipulation on this endeavour of yours. Hatake Kakashi will be assigned as your second. He will, and must, always be present whenever you are training Naruto. If at any time Kakashi reveals to me that you left him out of a training sessions then Naruto-kun will be reassigned, most likely to a genin team lacking a third member. Hatake Kakashi, you will arrive-on time-to each and every training session that Naruto partakes in. I will not accept any tardiness on your part, is that understood?"

Kakashi, who had just began to believe that he had truly lost all his students and any chance at redemption, looked up at his Kage with a fire in his eyes.

"It will be as you say, Hokage-Sama!" The jounin declared, bowing once he finished speaking.
Kakashi vowed then and there that he would not fail Naruto as he did Sasuke and Sakura, as he had his team and sensei. He would do more than just make sure Danzo didn't try to turn Naruto into some emotionless tool, he would train his sensei's son as well. With everything he had, Kakashi vowed to make Naruto the strongest shinobi Konoha has ever seen.

Upon the council being dismissed, Danzo quickly moved to leave through a side-door that gave him plenty of time to Shunshin away. He hadn't expected Sarutobi to finally give him access to the jinchuuriki and not even the addition of Hatake could stem his anticipation. He had, of course, noticed the Uzumaki's reaction to his new station. 'or lack of one, at any rate' he thought. The boy was in the right state for Danzo's manipulating hands to mold him into a perfect weapon for the village. "Weapon" he didn't care for anyone's thoughts on how he, and many others, viewed shinobi. They were all weapons, all tools, to be used and discarded. He, himself, had been a tool when he was younger and through time he had become a weapon-handler, so to speak. Uzumaki would see the truth in Danzo's teachings and as the old man was suddenly flanked by blank-masked figures as he entered a darkened alley, he couldn't help the smirk that appeared on his face.

"Konoha will once again reclaim it's position in the Elemental Nations, as the Unstoppable Force."


Chapter 1...finished! Blah :P Anyhow, I've decided to take this fic and see where I end up. It's going to be slow-progression. The plot hasn't even fully been mapped out yet. There are no pairings in the works. There is, literally, nothing planned.

I don't really like making plans because when I get to the point that was already planned out, I might've come up with something different that I want to do.

One thing you can expect is divergence. I like that in a fic and it only makes sense that I would have it in my fic. Yes, Sasuke is dead. No, he's not going to magically reappear alive or come back in some wet-dream that Naruto has. No Naruto doesn't get the Sharingan, no...just, no. Put all similar thoughts out of your head.

If you really must have an explanation for why Sasuke is out of the story so early, well, IMHO...I hate Sasuke! No! I'm just kidding, that would seriously be a very horrible excuse to cut him out. In all honesty, I just don't see Sasuke's place in the series. As much as Kishi tries to play him up to be an important character, Sasuke seems like a footnote in the grand-scheme of things. Madara is the true villain, as was Orochimaru. Itachi's entire presence and his end were just underplayed and under-untilized. Of course, I just set myself up for failure if I can't do something better, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Expect updates to be long and erratic. If you have an idea and wish to share, please do :). If your idea is about a pairing...well don't expect a response. This is my first true fic. I am not going to spend any meaingful amount of time devising a way to fit in a pairing. Even if a pairing comes into being, there definitely wont be any lemons or 'Naruto-with-a-dozen-girls'. Though I don't mind reading those, I am not going to write one.

Once again, this will be a slow-moving fic. I am not going to be talking about Naruto starting to train under Danzo in Chapter two, and then in chapter three there's a *4 months* later and Naruto is all god-mode now. The only major time-skip would be the canon one, any other would be limited to a few days or hours, maybe even a week. These wont be used simply to skip through training and get right to the results however.

I thank you for reading, and appreciate it if you review as well. Wish me luck! ~ C.D. the XPG