Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: Rukia23
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, coarse language, adult themes, spoilers
Word Count: 4,053
First Written: May 17, 2008
Last Edited: September 15, 2008
Posted: October 21, 2008
Summary: A young child hides in the dark, surrounded by bloody seals and a smile on his face. Some might say that such behavior isn't normal. But no one's ever accused Uzumaki Naruto of being normal. AU story. No pairings.
Naruto was six when he got into his first fight. He'd been taking a short cut through a back alley when he was jumped by a group of teenagers intent on stealing his money. When they found out that he had absolutely no cash on him...Well, needless to say that they weren't very happy.
"Damn brat," one of the teens snarled, "You think that you can just come into our territory like ya own the place?”
Naruto was utterly terrified, but he held his ground stubbornly. "I- I was just passing through--"
No sooner had he spoken than stars exploded in his vision and he found himself lying on the ground. Tears forming in the corners of his eyes from the pain and he grasped at where he'd been hit in the face while pushing himself into a sitting position.
"Aw, did that hurt?" another of the teens mocked, "Is the little baby going to cry for his mommy?"
Anger began to build within Naruto as he stared up at the leering faces of the boys. "F-fuck you!" he spat out.
The teens just continued to laugh menacingly.
"Ah, look," the second guy continued, "The baby knows a big boy word! Naughty, naughty. We should teach him to respect his superiors, eh?"
At that moment something within Naruto snapped. Snarling in rage, he leapt at the teen. The boy let out a surprised yelp and the others quickly began attacking Naruto as well.
The next few minutes were a blur to the blonde. He fought against the group of teenagers like a wild animal, biting, scratching, and kicking with all his might. Small as he was however, he was incapable of taking down even just one teenager, let alone a whole group of them. And so when the teens finally walked away from the alleyway, they left a bruised, bloodied, and broken Naruto behind.
As Naruto lay in the dirt he could barely even whimper. Actually, he could barely even breath due to a couple of broken ribs, but he didn't really notice that because of the excruciating pain coming from his other limbs.
Ever so slowly Naruto dragged himself into an empty cardboard box that was lying on its side. Once there, his arms gave out beneath him and he knew that he wouldn't be able to go any father. The young child curled into a fetal position and cried silently as blissful unconsciousness took him.
The next morning Naruto's first thought was to question why he was lying inside a cardboard box. Then, as his memories of the night before came rushing back to him, he wondered why he wasn't hurting all over. In fact, he felt absolutely fine, if a bit exhausted.
Startled by this revelation, Naruto quickly sat up and inspected himself for the wounds he'd received the night before, but found nothing. No lacerations, no bruises, no broken bones. Nothing. Just pure, unblemished skin. Naruto might have thought that he'd dreamt the entire encounter had his clothes and the box beneath him not been stained crimson with his blood.
Naruto stumbled to his feet as his mind whirled with confusion. Why wasn't he injured? Even he knew that people didn't normally heal that quickly. So how was it that he was alright? How...?
While his mind was elsewhere, Naruto's feet took him to the Black Wolf Tavern. As it was early in the morning only a few people were there, but it was open nonetheless. Naruto pulled himself up onto one of the barstools and rested his forehead on the cool wood of the bar's counter.
"Eh, you're here early, Naruto-chan," commented the bartender, "Can I get you anything?"
"Just water," Naruto replied hoarsely.
A minute later something was set before him with a clunk. When he looked up Naruto found, to his surprise, that the bartender had given him both water and a small bowl of soup. He stared enquiringly at the older man.
"It's on the house," the bartender told him, "You look like you need it."
Naruto gave the man a small smile that quickly disappeared. "Thank you, Haru-san," he said before quickly digging into the food. For some reason he felt hungrier than he normally did.
About halfway through the meal Naruto began slowing down. Despite his raging hunger he spent several minutes pushing his food around with his spoon, thinking.
"Hey, Haru-san?" the young blonde enquired while still in thought. "Has something ever happened to you...Something that you couldn't explain?"
The bartender, Haru, frowned at Naruto. "Well, sure. Unexplainable things happen to everyone at least once in their lifetime," he said, "...Why? Has something happened?"
Naruto hesitated before opening his mouth once more. "Well you see," he began, "I got into this fight last night--"
"You did what?" a voice suddenly interrupted.
Naruto blinked in surprise as he watched Tasuki slide onto a bar stool next to him. The scarred man stared at Naruto with raised eyebrows and for reasons unknown to the young boy he felt his face begin to heat up.
"I didn't mean to," he defended hotly, "A group of teenagers jumped me!"
"It's not a bad thing," Tasuki replied while waving a hand dismissively. "Yer gonna 'ave ta fight in ya life, so I s'pose it's best ta learn while you're young. But against a group o' boys ten years older than ya? Why da hell didn’t ya run away?"
Naruto looked indignant. "Run away like a coward?!" he exclaimed, "I'd never do that!"
Tasuki rolled his eyes and suddenly Naruto felt very childish. "It ain't about cowardice or 'onor," the scarred man said gruffly, "It's bout survivin'. When it comes down ta it, especially in a situation like dat where you're outnumbered an' out-skilled, ya 'ave ta decide what's best fer ya in dat moment: ta fight or flee. Honor an' bravery don't mean shit if you're dead."
As Tasuki spoke Naruto had been slowly sinking lower down in his seat. It wasn't the reprimand that he didn't like, but rather that he knew that what Tasuki was saying was true. He hadn't been in the red-light district long yet, but even a few weeks, let alone a few months, are more than enough to disillusion anyone about how hard it was to survive.
"...Ya don't exactly look as though ya got da shit beat outta ya though..." Tasuki commented.
"Ah, that's what I was just about to say," Naruto said with a glance at Haru. "When I woke up this morning I was completely healed. No bruises or nothin'."
Tasuki let out a low whistle. "Dat's some nice constitution ya've got there," he replied, "You're lucky."
Naruto's brow furrowed. "What's con- conts--..."
Haru let out a hearty laugh. "Constitution? It's a term for how fast you heal and how healthy you are," he told the blonde.
"It's a good thing," Tasuki added, while playfully ruffling Naruto's hair. The young boy scowled and ducked away, much to the two adults' amusement.
Following his first fight Naruto found himself exercising more--running, doing push-ups, etc. He hated how weak he'd felt when fighting the group of teenagers and wanted to remedy it as quickly as possible. In the following months Naruto purposefully got himself into many other fights in order to gain experience, though they were mainly with kids just a few years older than him. And with thanks to his newfound healing abilities he'd wake up the next morning looking none the worse for wear.
One day however Naruto found himself involved in a mystery. He'd been out in downtown Konoha, returning from lunch at Ichiraku when he noticed something: There was a group of black-clad shinobi entering a building.
Now, this in itself wasn't a strange occurrence--Naruto saw shinobi all the time after all. But what was strange was the building itself. It was a rather plain and nondescript structure that stood only a few floors above the ground and seemed to blend in with everything around it. Why would shinobi be going into such a place? All of the official buildings were a mile or two away, closer to the Hokage Tower.
Curious as he was, Naruto just couldn't let this go. Hesitantly at first, the blonde child crossed the street to the building. The door handle moved easily beneath his small fingers and he turned it and opened the door--
--Only to come face to face with someone's knees.
Naruto's eyes traveled up and up, seemingly forever, until he saw the mean, angry face of the tall man--a shinobi, Naruto's mind automatically supplied--standing before him with a glare. Naruto let out a terrified squeak and immediately turned around and fled back into the alleyway across the street.
Once he was safely hidden behind a trash can Naruto chanced a peek back at the building. It sat there, innocent and plain as ever, as if mocking him. If Naruto's curiosity hadn't been piqued before, it certainly was now.
From that day on, a large amount of Naruto's time was spent watching The Building, as he'd taken to calling it. He watched it secretly of course, or at least as secretly as a six year old could. He noticed over time that there were many shinobi who entered and left the building. They used all sorts of entrances, including windows and the roof.
Despite all of this activity, Naruto could find absolutely nothing about The Building that hinted at its purpose. He discretely asked people--store owners, mostly--but everyone seemed to be under the impression that The Building was abandoned.
Finally, after many weeks of stakeout, Naruto decided to attempt to get into The Building again; it seemed that that would be the only way to get any information. He knew that going through the front door was completely out of the question, so instead he thought he'd try the back door.
Sneaking through the dark alleyway behind The Building was almost laughably easy for the blonde, even though he saw several shinobi in the area. One of the first things that anyone in the red-light district learned after all, was how to sneak around Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village. It was honestly surprising how many back passageways and alleys there were in Konohagakure. According to Haru there were even some passages down near the sewers. They had been built for maintenance or something, but were generally used for more...nefarious...purposes nowadays.
Once he'd reached the back door of The Building, Naruto quickly slipped inside. Fortunately this time there was no one there. Naruto had taken only a few steps into the dim room however, when a shinobi abruptly appeared from down one of the several halls that connected to the room. Upon seeing Naruto he pulled up to a sudden halt, surprise playing across his face.
"What the hell?!"
Naruto stared fearfully up at the man a few feet from him. In his early twenties, the man was massively built and was perhaps even taller than the first shinobi the blonde had run into. Numerous ragged scars marred his face, though a hitai-ate in the form of a bandana covered most of his head.
For a moment the two, child and shinobi, simply stared at each other in surprise. After a few seconds the trance was broken and Naruto instantly turned on his heel and ran back out the door that he'd just entered.
"Oi!" the shinobi called after him. The blonde paid the man no mind however, and instead just continued running until he was well away from The Building and had hopefully lost any possible pursuers.
Despite this incident, Naruto found himself still determined to get into The Building, perhaps more than ever now that he knew that there was something going on inside. He waited for a week after his second attempt to try again, this time through the windows. Unfortunately, try as he might he couldn't get any of the windows to budge even an inch, and eventually left before he could get caught again. So instead Naruto tried the roof entrances. This time he managed to get in and actually got pretty far before the scarred shinobi found him and chased him out again.
Naruto refused to allow his failed attempts to dampen his spirits. Time and time again he tried to get into The Building, but time after time he was caught by the scarred shinobi. Naruto would later swear that the man lived in The Building, as he seemed to always be there, no matter what time it was.
One evening, after yet another failed attempt, Naruto dragged himself into the Black Wolf Tavern. The boy strode through the room with confidence--a far throw from the terrified street urchin that he'd been just a year ago--and over toward a particular table in the corner of the room where a group of men were playing poker. He slipped into the single empty seat there, right next to Tasuki.
"Hey! Naruto-chan!" one of the men exclaimed. "We haven't seen you here in a while!"
"Are you finally going to bet instead of just watching the game?" another of the men joked.
Naruto shook his head while grinning impishly. The other men laughed boisterously while turning their attention back to their game. That night Naruto didn't really see the game, even though his eyes were on the table the whole time. His mind was just too preoccupied with his current situation to really pay any attention.
"What's up?" Tasuki finally asked. "Ya seem really distracted tonight."
"I am," Naruto admitted. "It's just that there's this...problem...that I have that I can't get around. I've tried everything that I can think of, but nothing seems to work!"
Tasuki shrugged while taking another swig from the bottle of saké in his hand. "Well," he said thoughtfully, "Sometimes ya can't face a problem 'ead-on. Instead ya've got ta take a step back and look at ta big picture. Do dat and ya'll often find an obvious solution dat ya'd 'ave missed before."
Naruto frowned at Tasuki. Yeah, he got what he was saying, but he'd already looked at the problem from every possible angle. All of the entrances to the building were heavily guarded and there seemed to be no way in without getting caught. They were shinobi after all.
Abrupt realization struck Naruto. They were shinobi. Meaning that they guarded the village and paid special attention to any disturbances. Especially disturbances that were nearby.
Naruto leapt from his seat. That was it! He knew exactly what he could do to get into The Building. It was perfect!
"Thanks Tasuki!" Naruto called over his shoulder to the bewildered man as he dashed from the tavern.
The blonde quickly made his way across the red-light district and to "his" buildings. Once there he easily accessed the basement through a cleverly hidden entrance near the back of an empty shop. He made a beeline toward a storage room that he was now using as a workroom. It held several scrolls and numerous small sheets of paper.
Naruto strode over to a small stack of square pieces of paper on the floor. They were covered in designs drawn in ink: explosion tags. Or at least Naruto's attempt at making them. The scroll on sealing that he'd found almost a year ago had detailed, mainly, on how to make them, along with the basics of the art. It had taken Naruto a lot of trial and error to get them to look even marginally correct and he still hadn't been able to try them out yet, but he was hopeful that they would work.
"And now," the boy muttered to himself as he fingered the worn paper, "I have the perfect way to test them..."
The next morning dawned bright and early for all of Konoha, but especially for one short, blonde haired boy. Naruto was sneaking quietly through the village using the back alleyways. When he finally reached The Building, his eyes were sparkling with mischief and excitement.
Naruto crouched down behind some crates in front of a building next to The Building. From there he had a good view of the street, but was completely hidden from everyone. All but the most attentive of shinobi would be unable to spot him.
Once in place, Naruto settled in to wait for just the right moment to act. Generally, he was very impatient, but now he would wait. For this, he would wait.
Almost an hour passed for a fidgety Naruto before he saw what he'd been waiting for: A cart, filled with cabbages, was coming down the road. Grinning widely, Naruto shifted into a crouched position. He would have a window of only a few seconds to do this, so he couldn't afford any mistakes.
As the cart began to pass before The Building, Naruto quickly pulled out a slingshot and several explosive tags wrapped securely around rocks. He knew how to activate the tags only because of the sealing scroll he'd found--it had explained how to call upon chakra. Naruto had absolutely no control over his chakra at this point in time, but control wasn't needed to activate a tag. Only raw power was and that was no problem for the young boy.
The blonde child fitted one of the rocks into the slingshot, took aim, and then fired. Naruto didn't even wait for the rock to hit the wheel of the cart before he shot off another one, and then another. Then, without warning, a small explosion lit up the street. It wasn't large enough to do any real damage, but the cart was sent off track and the horse pulling it promptly began to freak out. It reared up on its hind legs, screaming, and was even further frightened by the terrified screams of the people around it as they threw themselves away from the cart.
Almost instantly shinobi appeared in the street in an attempt to regain order. Naruto took this chance and immediately began to thread his way through the quickly forming crowd. He slipped into the front door of the building and, just as he'd expected, there was no shinobi there this time to stop him.
Curiously, Naruto glanced about the room that he was in, which honestly reminded him of a waiting room. He poked his nose around for a minute before remembering that he didn't have much time. So instead he hurried through the main hallway that led from the room. This hallway split into several more and so Naruto just chose one of those randomly to enter.
The blonde meandered through The Building for several minutes before finally coming across a metal door that was tightly sealed. He tugged on the door several times, but it refused to open.
"It's locked," a rough voice behind Naruto spoke up. "Locked with chakra seals. You won't be able to get in."
Instantly Naruto froze in place, terror gripping him. He had been caught red-handed and was trapped in a dead-end. There was no way out of this.
Ever so slowly Naruto turned around, and immediately paled further. Standing before him with his arms crossed over his chest was the man Naruto had been caught by time and time again. In the dark hallway with shadows half hiding his face the scars covering the shinobi's head looked all the more menacing.
Naruto gulped deeply. "I- I was just--" he stuttered, but the tall shinobi swiftly interrupted him.
"I must say," He began, "I'm quite surprised that you managed to make it this far. Using a distraction to lure people away from the building was quite ingenious. Though, personally, I'm more curious about how you managed to get your hands on some explosive tags. Regardless, your little adventure ends here. I really should even kill you even for entering this building, or perhaps just hand you over to the police force for endangering citizens, but you've caught me in a good mood and I must admit that I'm impressed by your determination. Why are you even attempting to get in here anyway?"
As soon as the man had said that he wasn't going to kill him, Naruto's shoulders had dropped with relief. Thank Kami the man wasn't some sort of psycho killer. Now that the danger had mostly passed, the blonde stared inquisitively at the man before him.
"I was curious," Naruto replied with a shrug. "I saw shinobi going into the building and I wanted to know why."
The shinobi stared at Naruto with a raised eyebrow before suddenly throwing his head back and letting out a booming laugh. "You're either very brave or very stupid, kid. Did it never occur to you that entering a building filled with shinobi might be dangerous?" He continued to chuckle while slowly shaking his head. "What's your name anyway?"
"Uzumaki Naruto," the blonde answered while sticking his chin up defiantly.
"Naruto, eh? Well, Naruto, I'm Morino Ibiki, Chuunin of Konohagakure. And you should be leaving before anyone else comes back."
Naruto quickly nodded his head. He opened his mouth to thank Ibiki, only to pause when something occurred to him: He didn't know how to get out of The Building. Ibiki quickly realized Naruto's dilemma and promptly slapped his forehead.
"Of course," he muttered with a sigh. "Wouldn't that just be the case. Fine, I'll help you out. But only this once."
Without any further ado Ibiki placed a heavy hand on one of Naruto's shoulders, causing the young boy to jump in surprise. This was quickly forgotten however as the strangest sensation enveloped Naruto while smoke suddenly surrounded the two. Just moments later both the smoke and the feeling dissipated, leaving a gaping Naruto to stare at their new surroundings, namely the rooftops of Konoha.
Ibiki chuckled at the boy's expression. "That was Shunshin (Body Flicker Technique)," he told him. "It's a transportation technique."
"Awesome!" Naruto exclaimed, though his eyes were glued to the view around them. He'd never been on the rooftops before, and he found that the view of the expanse of Konoha was incredible. He hadn't realized just how massive the village really was.
"Hey, Ibiki-san?" Naruto asked without turning around. "What are shinobi doing in that building anyway? I couldn't tell." When he received to response the blonde frowned and turned back to the shinobi. "Ibiki-san?" There was nothing there but the sun on the roof tiles. "...Ibiki? ...Oi! How the hell am I supposed to get down from here?!"
Ibiki barely managed to prevent himself from squirming under the Sandaime Hokage's burning gaze. The older man was generally know as a kind man, but when he got angry...Well, there was a reason why he was still the Hokage, even after all these years.
"And why is this just now coming to my attention?" Sarutobi asked, his voice deceptively calm. "Please explain to me now why the information of someone attempting to break into the Intelligence Headquarters was not deemed important enough to tell me!"
Cringing, Ibiki shrank back from the Hokage. "Forgive me, Hokage-sama. It's just that we didn't actually expect the boy to get into the building. It was very easy to spot him while he spied on the building and even easier to prevent him from getting inside. We figured that he'd give up eventually, once he realized that his attempts were futile, but he never did..."
As the anger faded from Sarutobi he seemed to deflate. "So determined," he murmured with a weary sigh. "Naruto-chan is turning out to be just like his father in that respect..."
Ibiki perked up slightly at this statement. The Sandaime knew who Naruto's father was? He was probably the only one; very few people even thought about the fact that the young boy ¬/had/ parents, let alone asked who they were. Suddenly Ibiki found himself a lot more interested in the child...
"Morino!" Sarutobi suddenly said and Ibiki immediately snapped to attention. "I doubt that Naruto will stop his 'investigation' now. You have my permission to keep an eye on Naruto when he comes around again."
Ibiki stared at the Sandaime, wondering what the elder man meant by that. He didn't ask for clarification though, as the mischievous, almost smug, glint in Sarutobi's eyes sent shivers down his spine.
A/N: Because some people might be confused by this, let me explain one thing: The suffix -chan is used for girls, young boys, and animals. Naruto is currently called -chan because of his age, but as he grows will be called -kun.
I should also mention that Ibiki did know who Naruto was from the first time he saw him. He just pretended that he didn't because anyone, even a little boy, would find it strange if someone just randomly knew their name. Ibiki is a shinobi after all, and one that is specifically trained in deception.
This chapter and the next one are mainly just setting up the story and Naruto's upbringing. In chapter four the main plot of the story will finally be revealed and from there things will begin to pick up.