Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > Failing Twilight

Chapter 3: The Seals

by Shadow_Rebirth 2 Reviews

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres:  - Characters:  - Published: 2008/10/24 - Updated: 2008/10/24 - 4225 words

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Title: Failing Twilight: The Seals
Author: Shadow Rebirth
Beta Reader: Rukia23
Rating: M
Warnings: Death, blood and gore, coarse language, adult themes, spoilers
Word Count: 4,069
First Written: May 31, 2008
Last Edited: September 23, 2008
Posted: October 24, 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.

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Failing Twilight

Chapter 3
The Seals

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Naruto could clearly remember the exact moment that he had decided to become a shinobi. Even many years later the event would still be engraved into his memories.

The day had been a bright, sunny afternoon and Naruto had been walking through the streets of Konoha when he had come across a brawl taking place in the middle of the road. There was nothing particularly strange or vicious about the fight, but then again, it wasn't the fight itself that caught Naruto's attention.

Just as Naruto came upon the scene two black cloaked figures appeared among the crowd. Their faces were covered by terrifying porcelain masks depicting different animals.

ANBU.

Before Naruto's eyes the two ANBU easily and efficiently broke up the fight and began to turn away the crowed of spectators that had formed. The people all around immediately complied and Naruto saw the respect and awe reflected in their eyes.

In that moment Naruto knew that he wanted to become a shinobi. To command such respect and power...Naruto would become a shinobi. He would become an ANBU.

Naruto took to the streets once more, heading home. He hadn't gone too far however when he caught sight of a familiar bandana and instantly an idea made itself present in his mind. Eyes alight with determination he quickly dashed forward.

"Ibiki-san!" Naruto called as he skidded to a stop next to the shinobi. "Ibiki-san! You've got to help me!"

Ibiki looked down at the blonde while groaning. "Naruto," he groused, "Will you please stop bothering me? I helped you out once and now you're showing up almost everywhere I go!"

"This is different," Naruto said, waving off Ibiki's protests. "I need your help!"

"Help?" Ibiki asked with a quirked eyebrow.

"Yes! I want to become a shinobi, and you're the only shinobi I know, so..."

Ibiki snorted. "I'm not the only shinobi you know because I don't know you. You're just an annoying brat that's taken to following me around," he said. Naruto just continued to stare at him, undeterred. Ibiki stared back for several minutes before finally letting his head drop down and groaning. "Fine!" he snapped. "I'll help you, but on one condition."

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Of course!" he exclaimed. "Anything! Anything!"

Ibiki pulled out a scroll from one of the pockets of his Chuunin vest and handed it to Naruto. "This scroll contains instructions for the Henge Jutsu (Transformation Technique), a technique that all Academy students learn. If you can master it in a week, then I promise to do everything I can to help you get into the Shinobi Academy."

Naruto took the scroll excitedly. "Cool! I'll definitely have this done in a week, no problem! Thanks Ibiki-san!"

Ibiki chuckled quietly as Naruto ran off. He didn't believe for a second that the boy would be able to master the technique at all at his age, let alone in only a week. The boy probably couldn't even read--being a six year old orphan and all--and even if he could, it took years of training for Academy students to be able to just call upon and control chakra, let alone be able to mold it to form a jutsu. Once he failed, hopefully the blonde would stop bothering him so much.

Ibiki's eyes slowly slid over to the Hokage Tower, which could be seen peeking over the tops of the nearby buildings. There was, however, something that was bothering him, a question that was lurking in the back of his mind.

As one may guess, Ibiki was not one to randomly carry around a scroll containing a D-rank jutsu. As a matter of fact the scroll had been given to him just a few weeks ago by the Hokage, who told him to give it to Naruto when the time was right. But how had the older man known that this would happen? That Naruto would try to become a shinobi? Sure, the boy was already as sneaky and creative as a shinobi, but he was still just a child. Could it be because he was the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune? No, that didn't make any sense...

Just what did the Hokage have up his sleeve?

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While Ibiki contemplated the motives of the wily old Hokage, Naruto was swiftly making his way toward his home. Once there he entered what he'd dubbed his "work room", which was a fairly large room filled with scrolls, books, and tables. He walked over to one of the tables and quickly swept all the papers there to the side to clear a space for the scroll, which he promptly opened.

The first roadblock that Naruto ran into was the problem of handseals, which he'd never used before. Fortunately, the scroll Ibiki had given to him also detailed how to form the handseals for the jutsu, so he only had to practice them until he managed to get them right. It was too bad that there was no one to help him with the handseals, but he'd always figured out everything else on his own, right?

For the next three days Naruto barely slept, hardly ate--if it hadn't been for his stash of microwavable ramen and the microwave that he'd moved from his apartment than he probably wouldn't have eaten at all--, and focused all of his attention on attempting to get the jutsu to work.

The only problem now was that no matter what Naruto did, the jutsu just wouldn't work. He understood the handseals and could call up his chakra easily enough, but after that the charka would just slip through his fingers, impossible to control. He attempted to force the chakra to mold into the jutsu as the scroll described, but it never worked. It was almost akin to dealing with a wild animal: it was wild and untamable.

Naruto growled lowly while glaring hard at the scroll before him. This was really starting to piss him off and his impatience was beginning to win over.

The blonde let out a deep sigh and allowed his head to fall forward onto the table with a thump. He sat there, unmoving, for several seconds before lifting his head again and promptly scowled when an explosive tag came up with him, stuck to his forehead. Naruto peeled off the piece of paper and then glared at it in annoyance. If he could get written seals to work, then why not handseals too? After all, they were basically the same.

Instantly, Naruto's thoughts grinded to a screeching halt. The same. They were the same. In a flurry of movement Naruto burst into action, quickly snapping up his sealing scroll while pushing others aside to make room. Once the scroll was laid out before him, he began to excitedly scan through the text.

Why hadn't he thought of this before?! According to the sealing scroll, seals worked because they used a medium--either ink or blood--to channel chakra into the form it was supposed to take. Handseals did basically the same thing, but they traded control for speed and allowed the chakra to run free. It was the person that controlled the chakra then, instead of the ink.

But the point of the matter was that both forms of seals could end up with the same result. So what was stopping him from performing the Henge no Jutsu with written seals instead of handseals? In theory it'd actually be an even better version because it couldn't be dispelled because the chakra flow couldn't be disrupted by anyone other than the seal's creator.

All Naruto needed to do now was figure out how to translate handseals into written seals. And hence he came upon his second roadblock: He knew what he needed to do, but not how to do it.

Naruto started out by studying how each and every handseal molded chakra. This was incredibly difficult, but after hour after hour of molding chakra he finally began to notice how the flows of energy within his body changed with each seal. It seemed to be the sort of thing that one had to practice to be able to recognize.

Next, the blonde tried to figure out how the seals he'd been practicing making--namely explosion tags--molded chakra. This was by far the most difficult part and in the end he just had to work with trial and error by taking out and adding different parts of the seal. Of course, unknown to the boy doing this, it was extremely dangerous and it was highly likely that he'd manage to blow himself up. He'd always had an inordinate amount of luck though and fortunately it didn't fail him now.

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At the end of the week Naruto lay on the floor of his workroom, exhausted. And for the small bundle of energy, exhausted meant exhausted.

Naruto had spent the past several days attempting to get his Henge seals to work. It had been nearly impossible, but in the end he'd accomplished his goal. Or at least he hoped he had; he still needed to test out the final product. Speaking of which...

With a series of grunts Naruto managed to drag himself off the floor. Despite his screaming muscles he stumbled over to a cracked mirror inserted in one wall. He then took one of the seals in his hand and channeled a relatively small amount of chakra into it. Naruto waited and...

...Nothing happened.

The chakra went into the seal and then simply dissipated. His appearance didn't change.

The blonde glared down at the seal, furious. ‘How could this happen?!’ his mind screamed.

He'd been so sure that it'd work this time, so sure that he'd finally gotten it right. He didn't have any more time to experiment; he had to be able to perform the jutsu by tonight. And failure was not an option.

Naruto was about to stomp back over to the scrolls when suddenly his steps faltered and he glanced back over to the mirror. What if...What if the seal just required more physical contact? Explosion tag seals only needed chakra to be channeled into them to work, but the Henge Jutsu worked on a single person, so obviously it would work differently. It would make sense for the chakra to just dissipate if it didn't have a direction to go in.

Well, it was worth a shot at least. Hesitantly at first, Naruto brought his hand up and slapped the seal on the center of his chest and then held it there so that all of the paper was in contact with his skin. Then, while holding his breath, he channeled his chakra into the seal.

He promptly gasped in surprise. It felt as though an electric shock had run through his body. It didn't really hurt, but it certainly was surprising. This shock was completely forgotten however, when he glanced up at the mirror.

It had worked! Instead of his normal blue-eyed, blonde haired visage his reflection was now that of a nondescript dark eyed and dark haired boy. The whisker-like scars on his cheeks had also disappeared and his face was a bit narrower than normal. In short, he looked completely different.

Mindless of his earlier exhaustion, Naruto let out a triumphant yell. He'd succeeded! That in itself was worth more than getting into the Academy ever would.

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Not a half an hour later, Naruto stood outside of The Building with a wide grin on his face. There were more shinobi guards around than usual, he noticed, but this time he simply ignored their presence. Instead, he flounced up to the front doors and confidently stepped inside.

This time the front room was not empty, but instead a black-clad kunoichi sat inside, reading from a scroll. Once Naruto had entered she stared blankly at him for several long moments before realization dawned in her eyes and she began to chuckle in amusement.

The kunoichi spoke no words, but stood fluidly from her seat and beckoned Naruto with one hand. Still chuckling, she began to lead him further into the complex.

Within several minutes--during which time they made so many twists and turns that Naruto was invariably lost. He wasn't even sure if they were on ground level any more!--the kunoichi brought Naruto to a hallway lined with doors. She stopped before one that was just as indistinguishable as the rest, knocked solidly on it once, and then pushed the door open without waiting for a reply.

On the other side of the door was a small office containing one desk filled with paperwork and several large filing cabinets. Sitting behind the desk, working diligently, was none other than Ibiki.

The scarred Chuunin glanced up when the door opened, only to do a double take when he caught sight of Naruto, a look of shock appearing on his face. The kunoichi let out a few snickers and then swiftly left the room, closing the door behind her as she did so.

"No," Ibiki said once they were alone, "There's no way you managed to master the jutsu!"

Grinning wordlessly, Naruto brought his hands up and began to run through the handseals for the Henge Jutsu. Instead of letting the handseals mold his chakra however, he channeled it into the seal on his chest, hidden beneath his shirt. As the jutsu activated this time the shock--more of a tingle really--didn't surprise him. If Ibiki's gaping visage was anything to go by however, his change certainly had shocked the man.

"Y-you mastered it?!" Ibiki exclaimed. He opened and closed his mouth several times, looking as though he wanted to say something else, but never did. Finally, after several minutes, the Chuunin managed to compose himself. "Well, I did agree to help you," he said grudgingly, omitting the fact that he hadn't actually expected Naruto to succeed. "I'll help you get into the Academy. I'll even talk to the Hokage about it for you. I won't, however, be able to help you with getting the equipment and required books. You'll have to get the money for that on your own."

Naruto quickly nodded his agreement. "Of course. What else do I have to do?" he asked.

Ibiki let out a sigh. "Nothing, at this point. Come around again in a few weeks and I should have you registered for the Academy. Oh, and Naruto? Don't tell anyone that I've helped you…It'll ruin the reputation that I've been trying to build."

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With his "get into the Academy" plan fulfilled, Naruto was faced with just one last problem: how to get money for equipment. The monthly stipend he received was barely even enough for him as it was, so he was going to have to find some other way to get the cash.

And so Naruto tried his hand at poker. And failed miserably. It seemed that while he was getting to be an expert at reading other people, he couldn't hide his own emotions to save his life. Naruto decided to continue to play poker in order to practice, but he was going to have to find some other way to make money for the time being.

Naruto then turned to the only other option he could think of: getting a job. The problem with this was that no one would hire a six year old. It was only through Haru's recommendation that he managed to procure a job working for a blacksmith.

The work was simple enough--fetching things for Kenmaru, the blacksmith, cleaning blades, cleaning the shop, stocking the shelves, etc--but it paid good money. Naruto also had a deal with Kenmaru to get all of his equipment from the shop when fall came, and with it the start of school.

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Naruto groaned as he wiped the sweat from his forehead for what seemed like the hundredth time. It was always sweltering in the blacksmith's shop that he worked in, but with it now being mid July as well, the heat was almost unbearable.

Naruto let out a small breath of air and swiftly moved to his feet from where he'd been crouched in front of a shelf, stacking a few small boxes on top of each other. He only had to finish tidying up the front part of the shop--the back part was the smithy where Kenmaru worked while the front was the store--and then he could leave for the day. He only had a little bit more to do so it shouldn't be very long...

At that moment the bells attached to the front door rang, signaling someone's entrance. Naruto jerked up, surprised, and then quickly began to maneuver his way around the shelves toward the door.

"Kenmaru-senpai is in the back right now," the young boy called out as he approached, "If you'll just wait a moment I can go get him and--"

Naruto halted abruptly as he came in sight of the front door. Standing there was a nervous young girl about his age with long brown hair. The blonde blinked in surprise at seeing such a young girl in a blacksmith's shop, and she seemed to be just as surprised to see him.

"Oh," Naruto said blankly. "You're just a kid. What are you doing here?"

The girl drew back, surprised. "Hey!" she exclaimed, "You're young too and you're here!"

"Yeah, but you're a girl."

"So?" the girl snarled, stomping her foot, "I'm already in the Shinobi Academy. I'm starting my second year in September! I haven't seen you at the Academy."

Naruto flushed bright red. "That's because I'm starting this year. I'm just six right now!"

"Ha!" The girl pointed at the Naruto triumphantly. "I'm seven and will be eight in March. I'm older than you and a better shinobi!"

"Stupid! You're not a shinobi yet! And who says you're better than me?! I could beat you with my eyes closed!"

"Oh yeah?! Just try to scratch me!"

"Is there a problem here?" another voice suddenly said, instantly breaking up the small fight between the two children.

Naruto froze for just a second before quickly ducking his head in embarrassment. He peeked between his long blonde bangs up at the man standing next to them. He was somewhat tall, reaching just over six feet, and had a wiry frame. He had graying hair, a crooked nose, and a pointed little goatee. He looked more like a shinobi than a blacksmith, but his muscles held surprising strength.

"S-sorry, Kenmaru-senpai..." Naruto said while ducking his head again. Even without looking he could feel the elder man's steel colored eyes boring into him.

"You know better than this, Naruto-chan," Kenmaru scolded. "Always treat all customers with utmost respect."

Naruto flinched as the blacksmith's words. "Yes, Kenmaru-senpai."

Kenmaru released a slow sigh. "Go clean up the back, Naruto-chan. I'll deal with things here."

Wordlessly, Naruto ducked his head once more and then quickly fled from the scene.

Despite this embarrassing first encounter, the young girl returned to the shop again not a week later. Naruto and the girl's--Tenten, she told him--encounter was much quieter this time, and they quickly got into talking about weaponry.

"I want to become a weapon master!" Tenten exclaimed happily. "That's why I'm here. To check out prices. My father said he'd pay for the weapons I want. But only a couple right now..."

Naruto titled his head to the side in confusion. "A 'weapon master'? What's that mean?"

"It's a shinobi who specializes in using weapons. Kinda like how a Taijutsu master specializes in Taijutsu."

"But..." Naruto said while tapping his chin thoughtfully, "Won't that narrow the field of what you can do?"

Tenten shrugged. "Maybe, but it's much more interesting. And you don't have to use jutsu to be deadly! ...What about you? Would you rather be a jack-of-all-trades or something?"

Naruto took a moment to seriously consider this. "Maybe," he mused. The thought of his seals danced through his mind and he wondered if he'd rather be a seal master. "Maybe..."

"Naruto?" Tenten asked while waving a hand in front of Naruto's eyes. The blonde jumped in surprise and then realized that he must have been lost in thought.

"Ah, sorry!" Naruto exclaimed. He turned around and began leading Tenten through some of the shelves. "Come on, you said that you wanted to look at some of the ninjato and katana, right?"

Tenten nodded happily. "Mmhmm! And some of the axes too. And maybe some sickles..." The brown haired girl paused to glance at Naruto. "Hey, Naruto..."

"Hmm?"

"Why...why are you working here? You're only six years old after all."

Naruto stopped suddenly, but didn't turn to look at the young girl. His head hung down so that his expression was shadowed and suddenly Tenten felt a wave of apprehension wash over her.

Was it a taboo subject? Should she have not asked?

To Tenten's surprise, when Naruto finally rose his head and looked at her there was smile on his face so wide that his eyes were closed. "It's just good practice is all!" the blonde replied. "If I'm going to be a shinobi then it's good to know a lot about weapons! Plus it's nice to have extra money, even as a kid."

Tenten let out a sigh of relief and then quickly brightened. "Well, come on!" she said while rushing ahead of the blonde. "Let's go look at those blades."

As Tenten moved ahead of him, Naruto's smile dropped and he opened his eyes to reveal that they were several shades darker than usual. The boy let out a nearly inaudible sigh.

Naruto didn't like deceiving Tenten like that, but...While the girl knew that he was an orphan, she really didn't understand just what it was like. To have to support yourself at such a young age...Kenmaru's shop was in a nicer part of town, so she also didn't know just where he lived and what his life was like. Naruto just didn't want to drop the burdens of his life onto her.

If he could cover his pain up with a smile, then he'd do so.

Chuckling quietly to himself, Naruto raced after Tenten.

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"So, Naruto-chan, I 'eard dat ya made a new friend."

Naruto looked up at Tasuki in surprise. "Eh? How'd you know?!"

Tasuki chuckled and took a bite of the ramen he was eating. Currently he and Naruto were sitting in Ichiraku Ramen, having lunch together. The scarred man claimed that it was because he didn't get to see Naruto much beyond the occasional poker game.

"Well," Tasuki said as he swallowed. "I 'eard it from 'aru who 'eard it from dat blacksmith guy ya work fer. Ken-whateva."

"Kenmaru," Naruto supplied instantly.

"Yeah, 'im. So it's true den?" Tasuki smirked down at Naruto. "Naruto-chan's got 'imself a girlfriend!"

Immediately Naruto began to protest furiously. "She's just a friend!" he said loudly, "And even then..." Naruto trailed off, staring at the ground.

Tasuki titled his head to the side curiously. "Hmm?"

"It- it's just that...Sometimes..."

"...Naruto-chan?"

Wordlessly, Naruto shook his head and returned to eating his ramen. "Nothing," he mumbled.

Tasuki stared down at the blonde curiously for a minute before finally shaking his head and turning away as well.

Naruto stared down into his food as he ate. Honestly...He wasn't entirely sure if he could call Tenten a friend. Sure, she thought of him as a friend and came often to Kenmaru's shop, but...Sometimes Naruto wasn't sure if he could really get along with her. It was just little words here and small actions there that made him realize the difference between them.

Naruto had grown up in the world of adults. The people he was around every day were adults, often of the "worst" sort. Though he hadn't noticed it at first, this had caused Naruto to mature differently than most kids his age. He was already viewing the world from a different point of view than someone like Tenten, who had grown up with loving, shinobi parents.

Certainly Naruto still liked Tenten and would continue to hang out with her, but sometimes...Sometimes the difference in their maturity was just too great. And that made Naruto wonder: What was going to happen when he started attending school. How on earth was he going to get along with the other kids there?

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A/N: Eh, I hope that the explanations about how seals work made sense, cause there will be a lot more about them in this story. If there's anything that anyone didn't understand, please don't hesitate to ask me!

Ergh, I didn't originally mean for there to be so many OCs in this story. Tasuki, Haru, and Kenmaru will be the main ones though, and the only ones you'll need to remember, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Please review!

--S.R.
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