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How Things Could Have Been by Jin Hikari

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Chapter notes: The introductory chapter is around twice as long as what I shoot for at a minimum, but I have a lot of this written already if you don't already know from my rompings at FF.net. Also, if you're not a fan of the first person perspective, fear not. It stops with this first chapter and shifts towards the much-easier-to-write-in third person.
Yo, my name is Uzumaki Naruto, future ninja of the Hidden Leaf Village and soon to be Hokage! I train my hardest day in and day out to achieve these goals and protect those I care about. My class and I, involving many talented Shinobi-to-be with amazing skills, all have the same goal in common; to become the best we can be, go as far as we want and who knows, maybe we might save the
world someday.

I’m not too special myself, just your average, run-of-the-mill ninja, but that’s all gonna change pretty dang soon, I may not be all that skilled, but with a lot of hard work I’m going to be the greatest Hokage. My classmates, who are all really amazing, doubt it and call me dead-last and loser, but you know what, they just don’t know who they’re messing with!

Anyway, there are a few people I see worth pointing out. First off there’s Haruno Sakura, an amazing Kunoichi in her own right, but her Chakra reserves are way too low, even for a Kunoichi. However the upside to this issue of hers is that her chakra control is almost absolutely flawless. Did I mention she was drop-dead gorgeous? Too bad she’s all caught up in finding “Mr. Right” one day. Otherwise she might just lower her too-high standards a bit and go after guys like me. Hey, I said might, didn’t I?

Then there’s Nara Shikamaru, he may be lazy, but I’ve seen him do work, and he’s like some kind of freaking genius. His head may be caught up in the clouds, and he may pass things off as troublesome every chance he gets, but he’s a great guy and one of my friends. He’s also got this crazy-ass power to control people with his shadow, it runs in his family. I think it’s called a kekkei genkai. There are a lot of people with those in this year’s class.

Take Hyuuga Hinata for example. She’s kinda shy, and faints a lot, but her family has this weird thing that they do with their eyes, I think it’s called a Doujutsu, that gives them near three hundred sixty degree vision and the ability to see chakra over a long distance, though she hasn’t been able to use hers yet. Her Father’s pretty harsh on her about it, but that’s only because he thinks she can be the best. I can tell, even through that ice cold aura, he wants her to be great.

Then there’s Inuzuka Kiba and Akamaru. Kiba’s kinda stuck up and crazy, but he’s an overall good guy and a laughing riot. Akamaru, his pet dog, attracts the attention of a lot of girls because he’s so small and cute, but when they fight using their family’s Kekkei Genkai, Akamaru turns into a Kiba look-alike, and they get really fast and strong. Believe me I’ve seen them go at it while training. They tear everything apart. Although, stationary targets are easy to hit, so it’s probably not my judgment you should trust.

Another good example is Aburame Shino. This guy’s a freak, through and through. He seems emotionless and always hides his face with dark sunglasses and a collar. Needless to say people think he’s weird. That’s without adding the fact that his family controls bugs as their ninjutsu tool. Talk about creepy.

Then there’s Akimichi Chouji. He’s a great guy, if not a little addicted to chips, but don’t call him fat or he’ll go berserk. His family’s power lets him increase his body size to that of a giant ball, kinda like in the circus, those people who walk on the rubber balls. Trust me; you don’t want him hitting you with that. It’s like a tank plowing over a tin can.

Yamanaka Ino, she’s about as strong as Sakura with a similar personality. Always looking for “Mr. Right.” What a fool. Her family’s powers let her jump into your body and take control of it. The downside is if she misses, she’s open for attack. Something about a slow-moving, long-range technique that only moves in a straight line
Finally, there’s Uchiha Sasuki. She’s really strong, I consider her my rival in fact. She’s got a similar power to Hinata, only hers lets her copy anyone’s Jutsus, not including those special powers I was telling you about before. Some people say she can also see into the future with it, but that’s only what I’ve heard. She hasn’t woken it up yet, but when she does she says she’ll be the best Ninja in Konoha. Yeah, sorry, but that spot is reserved for Uzumaki Naruto.

Most of the male population of the village is after her for her looks or her power. I don’t want anything to do with her, I mean, she’s such a stuck up bitch sometimes that I’m surprised that any guy would want to date her. Anyways, I’m heading towards The Academy right now, today is the day we start sparring with partners and I can’t wait to see who I get to fight.

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Naruto couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Class had been going on for at least fifteen minutes now, and there was no sight of one Uchiha Sasuki. When he realized this, he couldn’t help but be slightly curious as to where his rival was. She was typically the first one into class and the first one out as well. Graduation was coming up soon, and she could have been promoted without having to take the exam and already be under an apprenticeship with a Jounin Instructor?

‘Nah,’ Naruto thought, ‘If that happened Iruka-sensei would be droning on and on about that instead of the combat rules.’ The blonde sat back in his chair, feet propped up on his desk and arms wrapped behind his head. His face conveyed a bored expression as he waited.
“Naru…” Iruka was cut off by the classroom door opening and a female ravenette clad in dark blue and white walked through the door. “Sasuki-san, what are you doing…”
“Uchiha are strong. Don’t underestimate me just because of something like this. I’m fine,” the Uchiha spoke in a cold tone. She stalked up to her seat and promptly sat. Iruka shook his head. Against his better judgement, he was going to let the girl attend the class. There wasn’t much he could do about it anyways. She would have been stopped if anyone could have done the job.

“Very well…now as I was saying, I want you all to ensure that your partner isn’t too severely injured when we spar today. I know we’ve put you through basic combat training before, but this is the first time in a while you’ll be going at it with your chakra enabled.”

Naruto sighed as the Chunin continued. He’d wondered why all the students from last year’s graduating class had laughed when he got Iruka this term. All the comments about ‘Motor Mouth no Jutsu’ were starting to make sense all of a sudden. Naruto sighed, wondering what he could do with the time left before matches started. ‘I suppose that since there’s going to be chakra use and all I could come up with at least some kind of strategy…’ the blonde thought.

After a long fifteen minutes he’d concluded that he’d have the best chance fighting with someone who wasn’t from a clan. Though, that was unlikely since it seemed like everyone from his starting class was from some form of clan or another. ‘What the hell is with THAT anyways?’ he thought. Was it really that unlikely that unless your parents were famous ninja you weren’t going to amount to anything?

Now, some may argue that he wasn’t from any special family and didn’t have genetics working for him, and they would be wrong. Naruto knew full well about his heritage. Well, on his father’s side at least. He wasn’t quite sure where the name Uzumaki had come from, but he was definitely sure it was his mother’s surname. The only record he could get on the Uzumaki had been out of a few stories that the Sandaime had told him, seeing as the civilians currently hated him with a passion.
Before he could further contemplate the reasoning behind the political system of Konoha, Iruka had begun to announce the matches.

“Alright,” the scarred Chunin stated, “we’ll compete tournament style. That means two on two matches until the best two fighters here are in a match. This means you’ll have to conserve your chakra and not use too much at once. Also, jutsu aside from the three academy basics are prohibited,” with that remark Iruka shot a knowing glance to a majority of the class. No clan techniques. “If you touch the floor outside the ring then you’re disqualified. Does everybody understand?” he asked. When he didn’t sense any antagonism to the guidelines, he picked two students and began, motioning them to the ten foot in diameter circle towards the front of the classroom.

Naruto was a bit relieved when Hinata and Ino were the first to spar with each other. It meant he wouldn’t have to hurt the girls. He was a bit of a chauvinist, if he was being honest with himself. However, that philosophy did not apply to the arrogant Uchiha heiress. Even if he didn’t want to hit girls, she was so arrogant that most of the time he just forgot just what his values were and wanted to smack her down. Maybe it fell into the category that he had to prove he was superior, which would still overlap with the philosophy, but he still didn’t care.
Ino and Hinata duked it out for all of three minutes before the platinum blonde managed to force the Hyuuga girl out of the ring. Hinata’s face instantly fell at her defeat. She could see her father’s stern look now. She was a disappointment to her clan. She sulked back to her seat, a black cloud of gloom floating over her head.
The rest of the matches flowed just as smoothly, not much trouble coming from any of them. The final match of the first round had been, ironically enough for the blonde, himself against Sasuki. They both stepped into the ring and took on a fighting stance. Naruto immediately noticed that something was wrong when Sasuki took up a very sloppy version of her clan’s battle stance. She always made a point of never using her own taijutsu style against him on the grounds that he would be ‘an embarrassment to use the style against, seeing as he was so weak.’ Despite that, even when she did use her clan’s taijutsu she made it look perfect. Now though, her legs were too close together, leaving her open for sweep kicks, and her hands were only raised to half the height they usually were. She’d also forgotten to bend her knees, severely impacting her balance.

Naruto, being Naruto, took this as a form of challenge. Did she really think he couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities she’d presented him with? He’d show her.
When Iruka swung his arm down and began the match, he moved in at a quick pace, his chakra boosting his speed as he ducked low. He slammed his right forearm against her legs and his left against her stomach in opposing directions, sending her flying into the air. She landed with a dull thud against the hardwood floor as all their classmates gasped. She was still in the circle, as Naruto had planned.

“I’m not so terrible that you need to give me openings to strike at. Come on, Sasuki-teme. Fight like you mean it,” the blonde said coolly. Sasuki struggled to get up, but didn’t respond to his taunt. She stood on her feet, taking her stance with the same mistakes. This time, when the blonde rushed in just a little angrier, she began to put up a bit of defense. She blocked his initial punch to the left eye, and continued to move deftly around him as he threw more punches. One particularly quick combination sent the Uchiha stumbling back after a punch to the face. She regained her footing before she exited the ring though, and regained her stance.

Naruto began to grow frustrated with the Uchiha. She had finally begun to attack, if you could call her punches a form of attack. Every now and then she would let out a weak jab-cross combination that the blonde could always deflect or move around in some way. It was always a jab-cross, never anything else. Wait a few seconds, right jab, left cross, repeat. It was like she was on auto pilot.

“Oi, Sasuki-teme, what’s with the pussy punches? Do you have cramps or something?” The blonde’s response was a quick but undedicated huff from the ravenette followed by a roundhouse kick that Naruto easily caught.

“No, really, what is it? Did your cat die? I heard the Uchiha had Ninja Cats. Kinda gay if you ask me…” the Uzumaki’s voice trailed off after that comment, and a longer combination that forced him to leave an opening that she took advantage of and tapped him lightly in the stomach with her fist. For some reason this infuriated the blonde. Maybe one last push would work.

“Aww, did your Onii-san not get to play dollies with you because he was on a…” he couldn’t even finish his sentence when a heavily chakra-injected fist found itself to his jaw. The blonde went flying across the room, smashing into the wall and leaving a small Naruto-shaped crater in it.

“DON’T YOU EVER MENTION MY BROTHER!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, charging at the boy stuck in the wall with the intent to kill in her eyes. Iruka and Mizuki got a hold on her before she got too far, but the ravenette struggled to escape. Naruto slowly brought a hand to his jaw, relocating the broken bone with a twinge of pain and a small clicking noise. The familiar buzz of the Kyuubi’s chakra began healing him within mere seconds.

It had been a particularly rough beating that introduced him to his tenant. In fact, it was the first one he ever remembered. It was a few years back when the bi-monthly assassination attempts had began, and even before that when the angry mobs shouted at him. One day though, they’d grown a pair and had the nerve to attack him. He swore he’d recognized one of the old farts that the Sandaime hung out with all the time in the council meetings there, encouraging people to join in the fray and the chaos, but he hadn’t put much thought into it seeing as he was running with stinging injuries in his back and calves.

He hadn’t been able to run forever, and when they finally caught him they beat him until the only think keeping him awake was the violent, thumping pain that shot through his system like a heartbeat. He’d shut his eyes, allowing himself to go numb as he fell into unconsciousness.

He’d awoken to find himself in a sewer of sorts, only the water did not soak through his clothes and the pipes radiated with chakra. He’d wandered for what felt like hours, maybe even days, until he came across a huge cage. The conversation hadn’t been pleasant. The giant red fox had revealed itself, fangs bared and nine tails swishing violently behind its form. “You’re the little dipshit kit that the fool of a Hokage sealed me in? It would be a laughable situation, if I wasn’t the one in it,” the demon’s voice bellowed.

He’d gone on to try to break Naruto’s spirit with tales of how he was here because he was hated, the killer intent slowly wafting out from the cage as it shook the small boy’s confidence. Finally though, one last comment was made that made something click inside the blonde. At that point, the Kyuubi had been guffawing at his own story, and the malicious laughter only increased in volume and resonance when these words were spoken.

“And the worst part is that it had to be you. Out of all the children in Konoha, the Yondaime chose to seal me into his own son. You weren’t even a day old. That says something about you, kit. Not only did your parents not care about you in the slightest, but on top of that they made sure to get rid of you by using you as the Jinchuuriki with a jutsu that killed your father and left you with me.”

His father was the Yondaime? Then that meant that…what was it the old geezer had always told him about the fight? ‘He did what he had to, no matter how great the loss to himself.’

“You’re wrong…” the blonde whispered, his trembling stopping as the words gave him confidence. The Kyuubi stopped, leering at Naruto with all the killer intent that it could muster. The blonde boy stood from the fetal position that he’d taken hours ago, standing with newfound confidence.

“What did you just say to me, BOY?” the demon fox asked, his voice echoing on the emphasis of the last word.

“My father used me…because there was no way he’d ask anyone else to give up their child. He used me because he had to. He died because he had to. I understand now…you’re the demon here. Not me. The villagers don’t know the whole story, but I do! And you know what…I’m gonna make my dad PROUD OF ME!” the blonde shouted, his figure starting to fade from his mindscape. “I’LL MAKE EVERYONE PROUD OF ME!” His figure had fully faded from the mental realm, and the Kyuubi wailed in defeat.

Seconds later, the young blonde boy woke up from his week-long coma with the shout of “I’M GONNA BE HOKAGE! BELIEVE IT!”

He’d asked the Sandaime for any help he could get in achieving this new goal, and after he was fully recovered, the elderly man who had been like a grandfather to him allowed him to scan through the private library that belonged to all the Hokage. Amidst several textbooks and village records, he’d found a slip of paper that hummed with chakra the second he touched it, revealing a complex seal array that looked like little more than scribbles to the child, and out popped a drawer filled with a couple of Jutsu scrolls. Little did he know, Sarutobi had been eyeing the boy through his crystal ball with ANBU ready to escort him out should he tamper with things of…higher importance…than a few jutsu he was likely to be incapable of learning because of his young age. It amused the old man how he was instantly drawn to the Fuuinjutsu scrolls.

‘You’ll do your dad proud, Naruto-kun,’ Sarutobi thought as he switched off the crystal ball. He had paper work to do, and the ANBU had been instructed to escort him out in an hour or so if there were no orders otherwise. He’d chosen a friendly one who most likely wouldn’t be anything like the villagers that had attacked. He was currently reviewing the facts, but what the council had given him was so garbled that it could take months to work out, and by that time the attackers that had been registered, all of which were civilian, could be living with new identities in a different part of Konoha, or Hi no Kuni, or even a different elemental nation altogether.
Ninja were an even trickier story. He was the Hokage, with absolute power over the village’s Shinobi Forces. Finding and arresting the one Chunin that had blasted the blond with a Goukakyuu around the feet to prevent his escape couldn’t be that hard. But again, the facts had been iffy and there had been no confirmed identity for the man. He’d have to talk to the ANBU and have a watch set up for Naruto.

Throughout the years things continued like this. Naruto would be attacked, and the Hokage would have him medically attended to, but the attackers always seemed to slip through the system with some obscure loophole or missing fact that was essential to the case. Naruto never remembered the faces, which was expected. When you’re five years old and get mobbed, your adrenaline would spike so high that it was a surprise you didn’t black out.
The Third had enrolled Naruto in the Academy two years early, hoping that it would keep him off the streets and allow for more thorough investigation should he be attacked. But that didn’t stop them. Why was it so hard for the man to keep one child safe? He was starting to suspect the council of aiding the efforts to kill the boy, but they downright refused, and had the power to do so. Not even the ANBU he’d posted had been able to say what had happened, and he suspected the Danzou’s ROOT had a hand in that in some way or another. It was growing frustrating and heartbreaking for the old man to see the young, happy boy like that on hospital trips. He’d even gone as far as to clear his schedule and spend Naruto’s entire seventh birthday with the boy just to ward off attackers. He was proud to say it worked.

Not every day was like that though, but soon he began picking up skills, and he would run farther and faster each day. The week of his birthday was the only time he ever let himself be attacked. Sarutobi had asked him why once, and Naruto had replied with a knowing smile. “I know how they feel,” was all he’d said.

‘He figured out all of it after that. He knew that I knew about the Kyuubi, and that I hadn’t spoken to it since, let alone tried to use its chakra. I had to tell him I stole three of the scrolls from his library. I couldn’t help it, the drawer popped out of nowhere and they looked so cool. Who would have known that they were about the Rasengan, Kage Bunshin, and Hiraishin? I still can’t believe the old man is giving me dad’s kunai to learn it with after I turn Genin.’

Sarutobi had agreed to keep all of Naruto’s secrets in return that he followed his instructions when it came to those jutsu. He’d learned the Kage Bunshin from the man straight away, thanks to his massive chakra levels. He’d been working on the Rasengan for the past few years now, though. There was still little progress. Sure, he could make a decently powerful one, but he needed two clones to help him rotate and add the chakra. It took all his focus just to maintain the powerful sphere, and it took him forever to charge it.

Shaking himself from his small reverie, Naruto pulled himself from the wall with a smirk. “I’m gonna rip your head off!” Sasuki yelled at him.

Naruto stared up, giving her a Cheshire grin. “Yeah, but you got ring out and the fight’s over. Maybe some other time.”

“I say let her do it. I don’t mind waiting a bit to pound Ino into the ground,” Kiba piped up with a ridiculous laugh. Ino glared daggers at him, but the Inuzuka remained focused on the scene.

“Naruto,” Iruka spoke up as he walked towards the blonde, leaving Sasuki in Mizuki’s care. “Do you know what happened to Sasuki over the weekend?”

The blonde shook his head no. Not that he’d particularly cared about Sasuki’s life. Though, upon looking at her with her bloodshot eyes and her ratty hair, he’d have to say it was pretty major. She wasn’t the type to come to school looking anything but her best. It was part of her pride as an Uchiha. “What went down?” the blonde asked.
Iruka lead Naruto outside and began a recount of the events of the Uchiha Massacre to Naruto. His eyes widened. She’d lost everyone? To her own brother? “Why is she even here? Doesn’t that cause, like, severe mental breakdown?” he asked.

Iruka nodded. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he replied with a sigh, “but for now I want you to go in and apologize to her.”

Naruto looked back at the door for a second. What would he want if someone yelled at him about his mother teaching him better or his father instilling him with some common sense? At least an apology, that’s for sure. So, the blonde swallowed his pride, took a deep breath and marched through the door. Almost instantly Sasuki was prone to attack him again, pain reflecting in her bloodshot, deep onyx eyes. She charged and threw another solid, chakra injected hook at his temple. The blonde caught it without ever taking his eyes off of her own orbs, the bones in his hand cracking lightly as they fractured and then healed in rapid succession.

“I understand…and I’m sorry,” he whispered before walking back up to his seat, cradling the throbbing extremity.
“What could you possibly understand!?” the Uchiha questioned loudly, running from the classroom.

“…Everything,” the blonde replied to no one in particular. As rude as it sounded, he couldn’t help but think about just how blissful the ignorance was.

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Naruto strode into the orphanage with expectant eyes. If he was right, she’d definitely be here. Then, plain as day and with a crowd of small children to boot, Uchiha Sasuki fell into his line of vision. She must have felt him staring as she turned and glared at him with resentment. He tried to venture closer, to somehow explain his actions to her, but she was dragged away by the children with the same glare she wore on her face. The children must have heard the owner slip up and spill a bit of information at one point, because he swore he heard the word Demon being used. Sasuki stared at him with a confused quirk of her eyebrow, and Naruto turned to head to his room in order to grab his wallet before going out for a bowl of Ramen. He had until six to get back, two hours before the other kids, but that was more than enough time for Ichiraku’s.

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The blonde patted his stomach in contentment. Nothing hit the spot like a good bowl of ramen. However, he’d noted the date on the calendar. October Ninth. He was an idiot who had completely forgotten, but there was no way out. The sound of a bottle breaking made his ears perk, and he could tell that several people were now following him. He continued for a few blocks before ducking into an empty alleyway.

‘It’s for them, my father, the old man, and everyone else. I know what’s going to happen. I should be used to this by now. It’s what they need.’

The slightly disturbing thoughts of the boy were interrupted by the sound of a kunai whistling through the air. One would guess that Naruto’s sense of reason towards this particular subject was either completely backwards or simply nonexistent, but mental issues aside the blonde donned his masochistic face and turned just as the kunai whizzed by, slicing across his forehead and clipping a bit of the shag off of his bangs.
“Yeah…pain still hurts,” the blonde finally said as he shut his eyes and screamed.

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His return to the orphanage was much slower than his exit. He was dragging one leg, probably broken, behind him. His arm hung loosely at his side, while the other one acted as support. There were tears in his black T-shirt where several weapons had poked into his flesh, the blood now dried into the dark fabric. Miraculously his pants were salvageable, only a few tears here and there. His face was a different story. His nose was contorted at a painful angle, more than implying a break. One eye was swollen shut, and the whisker marks that donned his cheeks had all been cut open and into his mouth and jaw bones.

A stifled gasp gave away the Uchiha girl, who had been out training until she heard Naruto arrive. Sasuki dashed over to his side, completely forgetting her earlier anger as she examined her blonde classmate. “Naruto…what the hell did this? Rabid fanboys?”

Naruto chuckled as a small trail of blood dripped out of his mouth. “Nah, not them this time. Kiba would have scratched me up before he stabbed me, and that kid in the green spandex…I’ve never actually seen him use a bladed weapon before…hm.”

Sasuki was more than a little disturbed by his attempted humor. “If this is what you meant by ‘you understand,’ then I’m afraid I’m going to have to tell you that Itachi didn’t kill me,” she said, surprised that she’d returned her humor. She was mature enough to accept his apology, even if he didn’t get to hear that she did.

“Yeah, give this the night, I’ll heal right up. Mind helping me over to my room though?” the blonde asked in a casual tone. “Crawling with my right arm and leg tends to have me go in circles more than straight lines.”

Sasuki complied quickly, helping the blonde limp over to his dorm. He had his own room, which Sasuki thought was a pretty sweet deal. Then again, he was the oldest one here, so it had to come with some form of benefit. She quickly broke out a first aid kit, splinting his arm and leg and administering an antiseptic to all of his cuts and stab wounds. She wrapped him up thoroughly, but avoided his face. She didn’t even want to go near those cuts in his cheeks.

“So who did this to you? And why would they?” she asked. Naruto stiffened, if at all possible.
He had two options. He could tell her everything and probably damage her psyche even more, or he could try to shake her off his trail. “It doesn’t matter why, but let’s just say that the old man isn’t gonna be happy when he hears his Shinobi are acting up again. I was outnumbered and more than likely outclassed.”
Sasuki sighed, “If you don’t want to tell me then just say so.”

Naruto nodded, seemingly in agreement. “Alright…you want to know why. I suppose it all started the day I was born. My parents died during the Kyuubi attack,” the blonde said, knowing it was a partial truth. “Oddly enough it was the day I was born. My dad was a Shinobi, and my mom was a kunoichi on maternity leave. She died during the birth, he died in battle.

“Now before you ask anything, I want you to know that I’ve never been sure of the details. It’s always been a little blurry. From what I can shape, they somehow think that I’m the Kyuubi reincarnated. It’s not too bad now that I’m in The Academy, but a lot of people lost their families that day, and they go a little out of control. Don’t worry, most of it will be over after tomorrow,” the blonde said.

“This is going to happen again!?” the ravenette asked, the shock evident in her tone. Naruto mentally chided himself for letting that slip. He regretfully nodded before rolling to lay on his back.

“Hey, you should probably get some sleep,” he said, trying to change the subject. “Knowing you, you probably have some huge training regimen planned for the day off we have tomorrow. You’ll need your energy.”

Sasuki realized that he’d all but shut down on her. He obviously didn’t want to discuss the situation any further. A decent idea popped into her head. She was curious as to just what made up Uzumaki Naruto, and if this worked she could keep tabs on him and keep him out of trouble at the same time. “Actually,” she said, “I was thinking about checking out the sparring rings at the festival tomorrow…but I need a male escort because of the stupid theme. Honestly, who makes a couple’s festival to celebrate an attack on the village?” she asked.

Naruto chuckled, “Well, it is supposed to be a festival of new beginnings. And besides, they probably needed to repopulate after the attack, so what better way than encouraging romance?” the blonde offered. Sasuki huffed at the logic. Naruto Uzumaki was not supposed to make sense.

“Alright then, let’s show them how little the requirement actually means by going as a pair. No romance necessary,” Sasuki replied with a devious smirk.
Naruto looked at her inquisitively, but nodded and went along with it. “I’ll try to stay in one piece long enough to escort your royal ass to the festival, then. Now, get some rest.”

Sasuki nodded, resisting the urge to hit him for his remark, she stood up and gave the blonde a silent wave as she left his room.

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Naruto awoke early, tearing off his bandages and splints as he hopped out of his bed and threw on a new set of clothes. After a quick shower he realized the sun was just barely peeking over the horizon, and after a quick thought decided to head down by the small lake to train. It was going to be a hot day, so he might be in need of the water for a swim to cool down anyways.

He secured his ninja gear tightly to his clothes and dashed out the door, running across town via rooftop at speeds that no one would typically register to one of his favorite training spots, given the weather. He touched down lightly in the clearing after he leapt from a tree branch and into a front flip. He was surprised to hear someone already occupying the area. Uchiha Sasuki was panting heavily, her breathing louder than the small waterfall a few yards away. Her eyes were bloodshot, and the trees were littered with kunai and shuriken.

“How long have you been up?” he asked. The girl turned around harshly at the sound of his voice, but upon realizing that it was Naruto she relaxed slightly.

“A few hours…I couldn’t sleep. You’re looking better. Fast healer, much?” she commented.

“Yeah, I guess. You should really take it easy though. I know you don’t want to talk about it, but something really bad happened to you, and you should be resting,” the Uzumaki countered.

Sasuki huffed at his comment, “I told you yesterday, Uchiha are strong. I’m fine.”

Naruto eyed the weakened Uchiha. Her legs were trembling, she was in a sort of haze, and it appeared that most of the weapons she’d thrown had missed their mark entirely. He launched forwards and swept her legs out from under her before catching her falling form and setting her to the ground. “The Sasuki I know could have dodged that kick. I know you don’t want to admit it, but the…”

“Massacre,” she finished for him

“Yeah, the massacre affected you. So sit down, rest, and take a break. Alright?” he asked. Sasuki, slightly stunned that she missed his attack, nodded and went to sit under a tree. Naruto sat and meditated until he felt her breathing even out, then he jumped up and formed the cross seal. A few Kage Bunshin appeared around the area, and the blonde began his workout. All the clones began to rush him, and Naruto ducked, weaved, and blocked all the attacks were thrown at him.

This continued for at least forty-five minutes until a majority of the clones were gone. Suddenly struck with inspiration, the blonde called two of the clones to his side, forming a tightly compacted ball of chakra that rotated rapidly. The sound of the chakra caught Sasuki’s ear, and her eyes snapped open. Naruto’s eyes were fierce as the Rasengan finished charging, and he charged forwards, slamming it into the chest of a clone. Said clone was launched backwards, picking up several others on the way until they hit a tree and dispersed. The rasengan continued to fly, boring into the tree before exploding and toppling the massive oak.

Sasuki’s eyes went wide as the blonde’s clones dispersed, an arrogant gleam in his eyes. “Thirty second charge…new record,” he mumbled. He leaned back against a tree, removing his shirt and tossing it to the side before strolling over to the crick to cool off. Sasuki followed the blonde, his jutsu blowing her mind.

‘He’s the dobe…but that jutsu was so strong. I’ve never seen my Katon jutsu do that…what kind of training has he been doing?’

Sasuki watched the blond as he jumped from the height of a small tree and landed in the water. The resulting splash forced her to move from her current location to avoid getting wet, but she relocated and waited. When he resurfaced, she was standing over him. “What was that?” she asked.

Naruto stared at her for a second before replying carefully, “A…cannonball?” he asked. Sasuki shook her head.

“Not that, the ball of chakra you made back there,” Sasuki said. Naruto smirked.

“Oh, you mean the Rasengan? You saw that?” he asked, scratching the back of his head. Sasuki nodded in response, her glare intensifying. “Well you see, it’s kind of supposed to be a secret,” the blonde trailed off, “and I’m not supposed to use it unless I’m on a mission, anyways. But, I need to get better at it, so I’ve been practicing.”

Sasuki rolled her eyes, obviously not pleased that he was keeping secrets. “Whatever,” she spoke, venom dripping from her tongue.

Naruto scrambled out of the water when she began to walk away. “Hey, you don’t get to be mad at me, you’re the one who’s prodding into my techniques. Isn’t a ninja’s greatest weapon supposed to be deception?” the blonde asked. Sasuki stopped in her tracks.

“You’re right, I’m getting curious. But wouldn’t that be anyone’s reaction if an idiot like you suddenly pulled a technique like that, as well as the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, out of his ass?” she retorted, turning her head to glance to him.

“Alright, you got me, I’ve been holding back a lot in The Academy, but I have my reasons,” Naruto returned.
“And what would those be?” Sasuki asked.
“The Old Man asked me to,” Naruto replied simply.
Sasuki stared at him with a confused glance. “What do you mean by that? The Hokage taught you those techniques?” she asked.

“No,” Naruto replied, “I learned them out of scrolls I found for them by myself. Hokage-Ojiji found out that I’d taken them, but he didn’t seem too mad about it. He even let me keep them so long as I don’t use any of them until I graduate. Well, as long as I don’t use the Kage Bunshin or Rasengan until I graduate. I’m not even allowed to open the scroll for the other one until then. Hokage-Ojiji took it and locked it up in his desk,” the blonde pouted slightly at this.

Sasuki came to the realization that Naruto had deceived even her. He was learning Jutsu that the Hokage didn’t want him to, that much was sure. But to have one he was absolutely refused to be able to start learning until he graduated was something the Uchiha felt a pang of envy towards. She’d need to think about this.

“Listen, Naruto. I should probably get going. Don’t worry, I’ll take a nap or something when I get back to the orphanage. I’ll see you tonight,” she said, waving and heading back towards the village, “Just don’t get yourself killed.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know the drill. Eternal wrath of the Uchiha Clan and all that,” the blonde waved her off. He was quick to get back to work, sparring with his Kage Bunshin. Then the idea struck him. He’d recalled everything that his clones did, so what if he made a couple and practiced the Rasengan with them? A wicked grin spread across his face along with the thought. This could work.

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The blonde was amazed at how the use of Shadow Clones in training increased his learning speed, and also how it tired him out so easily. It had taken until about four in the afternoon, but the day had not been wasted. He had finally learned how to use just one clone to form the Rasengan. It was totally worth it. He was grinning widely as he strolled through the downtown area of Konoha, but the sudden presence of a large group of people, at least twelve if his ears weren’t playing tricks on him, caught his attention. He weighed his options.

‘Beaten into a near coma and then beaten further by an angry Uchiha, or going to a festival with lots of people around WITH said Uchiha…I’ll take the festival,’ the blonde decided as he dashed at full sprint away from the crowd, the chakra he’d used to jumpstart his charge cracking the road. ‘Besides, once you get past the scowls and superiority complex she’s actually kind of cute.’
A quick mental slap for thinking like a fanboy shook the thoughts from entering his head again, and he redoubled his efforts in arriving at the orphanage unharmed.

He arrived safely, and thanked Kami that he did. The weird guys that dressed like ANBU but definitely weren’t with the Hokage’s normal security team had almost caught him on that last block, but he’d decided to form a few dozen clones and scatter them at the last minute to throw them off his tail. ‘I’ll have to tell The Old Man about them sometime to see if he knows anything. They’re new…’
“You’re late,” came the blunt voice of the Uchiha heiress from Naruto’s room. She was leaning against his bedpost, looking right at him. Naruto chuckled at this.

“What happened to taking a nap? I thought I’d have to wake you up when I got here,” Naruto asked. Sasuki did her signature eye-roll.

“I did take a nap, but that was eleven hours ago. You’ve been gone all day, and the festival is about to start. Let’s hurry up and get there, I want to spar.”

The sparring rings were a popular attraction amongst the Shinobi forces in Konoha. Exhibition matches drew in more of a crowd, and also let the ninja test their skills against whoever they wanted to. It was a win-win situation.

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry. I got a little caught up in this idea I had, and it worked out pretty well if I do say so myself. Besides, the festival doesn’t start for another twenty minutes.”

“Yeah, but you still have to change and bathe,” Sasuki returned. Even Naruto had to admit that after eleven hours of training he probably stunk, so he took a change of clothes and a towel into the bathroom with him and ran the water at just the right heat. Fifteen minutes later he emerged from the restroom with his typical pair of orange pants on, a white T-shirt, and an orange jacket that varied slightly different from the design of his typical one. This was a thinner material, obviously made for summer weather, and instead of the thick white and poofy collar it was a simple orange one you’d find on most press shirts. He’d folded it down so that it partially covered the blue area on the shoulders. He still had the wooden Uzushiogakure symbol on his left shoulder and in red on the back, which had a vertical blue stripe running up it that met with the same marks on the shoulders. All in all, it looked pretty good on him, especially since he’d kept it unbuttoned and ditched his green goggles.

Sasuki had noticed the slight change in outfit, somewhat relieved that her own decisions to change her outfit in a slight fashion hadn’t gone unreciprocated. There was actually a funny story behind that. When she’d woken up from her nap she had wondered about the occasion. She was going out on the town, and with Naruto. This decision was so unlike her that people would probably be worried about her mental state after The Massacre.

‘As much as I hate to admit it, the dobe is actually worth something when it comes to strength. If Mother were still around, she’d tell me to be nice to him on account of him being a suitable bachelor. Itachi was in line to be the next clan head, but if something ever happened I would be in charge. They wanted me to marry strong, and weren’t every particularly picky about clan status. Father hated him though, but is it possible he simply had the same misunderstanding? If that was the case, which it likely was, I have no choice other than to acknowledge him as having potential. Probably more so than the other men I’ve met,’ she had rolled her eyes as the thought of a particularly mangy classmate of hers came to mind.
She’d come to the conclusion that she might as well express the notion in some small way, which is why she’d decided to discard the navy blue ribbon that typically kept her hair in a spiky ponytail and let it fall to its natural length, just below her shoulders. It had also made a group of hair fall across the center of her face, making it appear more natural and less like stone. She’d kept her shirt the same, still the loose-fitting navy blue top with the Uchiha fan on the back. However, for the first time since she’d entered The Academy as a little girl she’d discarded the white ninja-shorts for a knee length skirt in the same color with black biker-shorts underneath for when she began to fight. The change hadn’t gone unnoticed either.

‘Wow, her hair’s down. It looks really nice. Did she forget to tie it when she woke up, or is she doing it on purpose? Either way, good thing I grabbed my nice jacket,’ the blonde had thought when they exited the dorm

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The two wasted no time in getting to the festival, where they were ‘greeted’ by a Chunin who was probably single or low on cash seeing as he’d taken this job. The twenty-something man glared at Naruto for a second as he entered, almost like he was warning the boy to stay out of trouble. Naruto noticed this, as had Sasuki. Part of her wanted to tell him to stick by her, but not only would that ruin the point as to why she’d posed the request, it was also impossible seeing as he’d gone in a bee-line towards Ichiraku’s, offering only a “Good luck in the sparring rings,” and a friendly smile.
Naruto sat at the counter with a grin and a chant of, “I’ll take the usual, Ayame-neechan.”

The twenty-ish girl turned in surprise to see the blonde. He didn’t usually come here on what Iruka had informed them was his birthday. She wished she could somehow get a hold of him, but since he had also decided to skip the festival he would miss out on spending time with one of his favorite students.

“Hey there, Naruto-kun,” she replied with a warm smile, “I didn’t expect to see you here. So who’d you end up using that famous Uzumaki charm to woo and get to come here with you? Was it that Sakura I’ve heard so much about?”

“I wish,” Naruto replied, “but it’s nothing like that. I had nothing better to do, and I decided not to ‘celebrate’ today. Sasuki needed an escort to get her in, so I volunteered.

Ayame chuckled, leaving Naruto with a confused look on his face. “Naruto-kun, that sounds like an excuse a pretty girl uses to ask out the guy she likes on a date.”
“IT’S NOT A DATE, NEE-CHAN!” the blonde retorted, a little embarrassed that the same though had crossed his mind, if only for the briefest of moments. Their conversation ended, unfortunately. The cause of this was Teuchi setting down Naruto’s bowl of pork and miso ramen before telling him it was on the house on account of the special occasion.

Naruto blew through the bowl, and another one after that, enjoying the taste of free ramen so much more than paid-for ramen. After that, he jumped up from his seat, waving goodbye to the two ramen chefs. Ayame wishes him luck on his pursuit of Sasuki, to which Naruto fumes out of the ears with aggravation and embarrassment.

The blonde arrived at the sparring ring just as the next match began. Sasuki was in the ring, waiting for her next opponent as one of the nameless third years is helped out of the ring with a twisted ankle he’d received while trying to maneuver around the agile Uchiha. It was an embarrassing way to lose, but it happens.

“Alright, who would you like to fight next, Sasuki-san?” the referee, one Yuuhi Kurenai, a new face among the Jounin crowd that typically ran the booth. The Uchiha’s eyes scanned the group of challengers before landing on Naruto. Just before she pointed at him though, she noticed he was gesturing towards Kiba and mouthing the words ‘kill him…kill him,’ over and over. She decided for the sake of maintaining the blonde’s image she would trounce the Inuzuka boy and send him off, ensuring he kept his mouth shut.

“Dog-boy, you’re up,” Sasuki called in a bored tone, pointing to Kiba. The brunette chose to take this as some kind of signal that she was into him in a romantic sense, and cheerfully jumped into the ring. Boy, was he in for a surprise.

When the signal sounded, Sasuki lunged at him and launched a furious set of combinations that the boy could barely keep up with. Finally he took a solid cross to the face, luckily without the chakra injection. He stepped back a few paces before shaking his head rapidly. “You don’t have any idea how long I’ve been waiting to do this,” Sasuki said with a violent smirk.

Naruto found the following beat-down so gruesome he couldn’t watch, but so beautiful he had to. Every hit the girl landed knocked the Inuzuka down a few pegs until the boy finally got tired of it and began using his chakra, dodging quickly and landing a ferocious swipe across the girl’s left shoulder. A small bit of annoyance crept up Naruto’s spine at the scene, until Sasuki ran through a few hand seals and everything flashed blue.
He could still see, of course, but everything was tinted a deep navy color. He saw the chakra flowing through Sasuki and Kiba’s bodies, and with a violent flare, Sasuki ran through a set of hand seals and released a ball of flames from her mouth. Naruto suddenly felt he could use the jutsu she just had, but fought the urge to as the heat of the flames drove Kiba out of the ring, and the blue tinting faded.

“Winner: Uchiha Sasuki,” Kurenai announced before escorting the Inuzuka out of the ring. The brunette boy was mumbling about how cold his future girlfriend was, but that he kinda liked it from what Naruto heard. The blonde shook his head.

“Uzumaki, get your ass up here,” Sasuki called, motioning to him.

The blonde grinned wildly as he accepted the request. “You know how the saying goes,” he said as he formed the ram seal, “while the fanboys are away…NARUTO GETS TO PLAY.”

Sasuki would have laughed at his statement if it weren’t for the massive amount of chakra that had just surged through the area, leaving several of the less experienced students with quivering knees.

“You’re ridiculous, in both your battle cries and your chakra levels,” Sasuki replied, dropping into a crisp and flawless stance of her clan’s taijutsu style.

“Thanks, I think,” the blonde replied, rushing forward and jumping into the air, spinning and throwing to kicks; the first at head level and the second aimed for her stomach. Sasuki ducked under the first one and barely deflected the second, which would have slammed her in the nose thanks to the change in height, with her forearm. She grabbed hold of Naruto’s leg and threw him, but the boy skidded to a halt just before exiting the ring after landing thanks to his chakra.

“Gonna have to do better than that, dobe. This isn’t yesterday, and now I’m rested and focused,” the girl said, striking another stance as her eyes sharpened.
Naruto grinned as they continued to combat, eventually drawing kunai and pantomiming swordplay. “I’ll admit you’re tough, Naruto. But you aren’t good enough to beat me just yet,” the Uchiha heiress said, jumping back to the opposite edge of the ring where she began running through seals. Naruto’s eyes flashed blue again as he recognized what she was trying to do.

“Oh no you don’t,” he said, running through the same hand seals. “KATON, GOUKAKYUU NO JUTSU!” both cried at the same time, shooting balls of flame at one another from their oral cavities. Naruto’s, however, was much less powerful. He could tell, too.

‘Shit,’ he thought, creating a Shadow Clone behind him without noticing he formed the cross seal and cancelled his Goukakyuu.

When the ball of flames hit, Sasuki was worried she’d scorched her escort alive, but when the sound of swirling chakra resounded through the air, she knew he was going to be fine, and she should be worrying about herself more.
The flames died out, revealing a boy with a blue sphere of chakra in his hand. He looked like he was about ready to charge at her with it, but then the sphere faded. 'Right, secret jutsu training,' she thought. She’d worry about just how he could have learned the Goukakyuu at a later point, but right now the sound of a ringing bell and Kurenai’s shout of “TIME!” disrupted her thoughts.

“What!?” Naruto shouted, but then realized that they’d reached the ten minute time limit, and both had to leave the ring.

“You know, dobe, if you would have kept your flashy new jutsu in your pants I would have won and could still be in there fighting,” Sasuki sighed as they walked down the streets of the village, celebration surrounding them. She elbowed him in the ribs playfully, and he returned the gesture.

“Yeah, but then you’d miss out on spending a fabulous night with me in public,” the blonde retorted with playful sarcasm.

It looked like the night had really picked up for the uncanny couple. Who knew?
Chapter end notes: Well, that just about does it for this chapter. A few side notes, though. I do plan to branch out from this fic soon. That doesn't mean that I'm stopping it, espescially not on the first chapter, but I do want to write other plots besides just this one seeing as the whole "rewrite the original story from the beginning" thing has never really been popular. Nor has genderbending, to my knowledge. And while I'm aware writing just to be a popular writer is stupid, I also want a lot of people to actually read my stuff...it's complicated.
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