There was a time when he wanted nothing more than to have a friend, now he just wants to earn his right to go home.
I don't own Naruto. There. It's been said. On another note, this story will have key historical incidents happening at earlier times. So just keep that in mind and enjoy the story.
Brothers of the Sand
Chapter 1 Secrets
Thunder ripped the earth. Screams echoed through the woods as several shinobi shouted their last breaths in pain before another strike of lightening struck. Kyuubi, the nine tailed fox demon, growled and several teams of Nin fell under the pressure of killing lust. "Ignore it, move your asses!"One of the Jounin led several surviving shinobi through the forest to move closer to one of the demons feet. A small ninja quickly took command and screeched, "Aim for the ankle joint. Ignore our dead, we can't help them now."
Every Nin performed their strongest Jutsu with the sole purpose of slowing the monster down. The growl hundreds of feet above them turned to a snarl. Rushing water erupted from the forest in torrents behind the jounin team. The sole living ANBU rolled off the tree and fell to the ground breathing hard. Far in the distance the short ninja could hear someone shout. "It's the Fourth!"
Several teams cheered and renewed their efforts. The man looked at the fox through blonde spiked hair and said to those around him."Hold him here! We can not allow him to get to the village!" The Hokage looked at the demon fox with calculating eyes. His hands moved at high speeds before he slapped the ground. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" The Yondaime's felt his body rise eighty feet into the air. He grimly smiled when he craned his neck to look at the Fox demon that towered over them. "Gama Bunta! Lend me your strength!" The toad grunted and charged the larger fox. Gama Bunta's knife was drawn and slashed at the demon. The nine tail bit at the knife and held the toad from moving forward. Its voice was a low rumble of laughter. The fox flicked one of its middle tails and lightening fell from the sky striking the toad. Gama Bunta grunted but would not budge. The red toad swore loudly with pain.
"What ever you are planning better be worth it Arashi." Gama Bunta did not feel the calmness the Fourth had when he suddenly breathed in. The frog summon was pushed back and forth not willing to pull back his knife from the fox's mouth or let the fox push him aside. The fourth ignored the rough ride, allocating a small fraction of his chakra to staying on top of the toads' head.
The Hokage was still silently gathering chakra and performing seals with his hands. His hands blurred until his final hand seal,'tori'. A cold breath ran across Arashi's neck and he ignored the impulse to shiver. The Jutsu was working. The death god rose above him and the Kyuubi. He could see it filter through the moon light and Arashi couldn't help but gasp deeply at the sudden rush of his impending death. "I got it!" The Fourth leapt from Gamabunta's head and dove towards the foxes head. "Good bye Gama Bunta."
"Wait, what did you-" Gunmabunta was cut off when he was forcefully dismissed by the summoner. The Fourth Hokage landed on the head of the demon fox and gripped the fur his hands.
"Fuuinjutsu Shikifuujin!" The Fourth smiled as he felt his soul being crushed. The Demon fox howled in pain. Kyuubi looked into the sky and saw the form of a white demon with a knife in its mouth. The god of death had a human soul wrapped around in its robes. The demon fox's gaze tunneled its immortal body and soul understood what was happening to him.
The fox's body disappeared. A clawed hand was still in the middle of the Hokage's chest. He performed two more seals when he felt his body fall to the ground. He saw the god of death over his body and held tight as he felt his chakra teleport him to an altar. /Give me a few more seconds death!/He knelt next to a table breathing hard. The altar already reacted to his presence and Arashi could see the faint image of the fox demon in chains over the altar. The only other human occupant turned to reveal a young teenager."Kakashi, Where is the child?"
"Over here." Hatake Kakashi placed the child on the altar and stepped back. Yondaime smiled at him before he dragged his hand over the baby's belly. He had been holding the seal of the fox in his frozen through his chest, though he doubted that his student could see the white arm. His chest burned in protest for holding something so strong in chakra form with no seal. Kakashi finished painting the markings with the new mothers' blood. And the fourth hesitated to finish the last gesture.
Arashi looked at the baby and smiled sadly. "Is she...?"
Kakashi shook his head. "She died giving birth."
"I am sorry Rina." Arashi whispered to himself. "Kakashi, you and the old bastard the third need to see to it that this child lives happily. He is a hero." Kakashi looked at his smiling mentor.
"I'll see you on the other side someday." Kakashi said.
"Good bye Kakashi. Remember my will." The jounin nodded sadly and saw his teacher stand in front of the baby and saw the death gods arm go inside the child before pulling back into his chest. The fourth finally let go of the chakra, and the stubbornness of not succumbing to the death gods will. His lifeless body fell to the ground and the seal that was held over the child glowed before the seals surround the baby followed and finally faded. Kakashi looked at the man who was his teacher for many years. Arashi would want him to follow orders, regardless of who died. With that in mind Kakashi raised the head band covering his left eye and looked at the seal intently.
"Did it work?" The Third Hokage ran into the temple breathless and weary.
"Yes, the demon is sealed." Both men looked at the crying baby. The last Hokage picked up the child and wrapped him in a small blanket. The baby slowed its crying and both men chuckled. The Third Hokage started walking outside to meet his men. Kakashi looked at him, "Yondaime wanted to make sure that everyone see's the child as a hero for sacrificing himself for the village."
Sandaime nodded. "I think we can see that it happens. Many will be happy that the fighting is over."
The Third Hokage's hopes were dashed days later. As soon as they news of the death of the beloved fourth, and the knowledge that the demon is not actually dead but simply imprisoned angered the ninja and the villagers."They will going to see him as nothing but a monster, won't they?" The Hokage slumped back in his chair completely disappointed in the people of the village.
"I am sorry Hokage-sama. We both know how the mass reacts. It shouldn't come as a complete surprise." The ANBU were slightly disgusted by the cries of the villagers and even their own. All ANBU knew that they highest task of the ANBU was to recognize the truth. And the boy was no different. Every one of the Captains in ANBU understood the kid and admired the boy for living as a sealed prison. Their subordinates understood just as fast.
"I will have to place martial law to protect the baby. We have not even found a name for the child have we?" The ANBU took off his mask and nodded.
"Hatake said his name was Naruto."
"The Fourth would be disappointed in his beloved people. Captain, can you over see the child for the time being? I will see what I can do to ensure his safety."
"Yes Hokage-sama." The ANBU bowed his head and gripped his mask in his hand. He left and his blue eyes scowled at the near-by Jounin. They left seeing the ANBU was not in a pleasant mood. "I can't believe the people of this village."
He quickly left and ran through the village until he came to his apartment. He entered and smiled when he saw several women cooing the baby."That's right, keep spoiling him, he is going to miss it when he gets older."The last part was said somberly. The women looked up and went through varying degrees of nodding agreement.
"I'll see if I can bring my baby girl around to keep him company, I am sure Ten-Ten-chan would like to see a new born."
"Gods, please don't give your girl any ideas yet, she is only two." Everyone left and each woman gave parting words as they exited his door.
The last woman stopped at the door. "Maybe it would help if you have your little Ayame look after the baby too. I am sure she would love to look at the little hero." The ANBU Captain nodded with a genuine smile. His little girl would no doubt fall in love with the baby.
When the gaggle of women left, the ANBU captain looked at the baby. The baby Naruto scrunched his face in unpleasantness before he cried. The man smiled and laughed lightly. He quickly change and fed him. "Sorry kid, looks like you are going to have a hard life ahead of you. I can't guarantee that I will be around, but know that I don't believe for a second that you are a demon, and don't let anyone else convince you otherwise."
Six years passed and Naruto had grown into a determined child. It had been two years since he had lived with out the aid of an over seer but to a child, a year is an eternity. So it was only natural for the boy to know that he has lived on his own for his whole life. The blonde headed boy looked at the clock and was already waiting for the bell. It was almost four in the afternoon and school was almost out. The bell rang and he cheered with the rest of the class. He did not see the little girl three rows behind him looking at him run out the door. The girls' face flushed at loosing another chance to speak with him. Naruto ran around a group of kids who would normally try and bully him. Today was supposed to be a festival day and Naruto wanted to see what was the big deal. He ran tugging at his orange shirt since it was itchy when it got hot. Naruto left the school yard and cleared around the corner and slowed to a stop. Several adults were in his path. Each one dropped the smile from their child and placed their children behind them protectively. One of the kids said something about the fox, Kyuubi's death. Naruto felt the hate roll of the adults and turned the other way. He was half way to the main street when he realized what today was. Now that he knew what the day and the festival were about, Naruto dropped his smile and his eyes opened. He pulled his bag closer to him and ran. He avoided shortcuts and made sure to take long open roads. Most people only managed to glance at him before they realized there were not many blonde children in the village and that the person they saw was him. He ran to the gate of his apartment and sighed when he got to the door. The gate opened and he entered only to slump to the ground panting from the hard run.
People really hated him on this day from some reason and he never like being outside as he had remembered bad things happening the last year. The fireworks had already started and it wasn't even dark yet. The six year old dropped his bag at the door and took off his shoes. When he looked up again the scared and worried face was replaced by an excited smile. Naruto ran into the kitchen and set some water to boil while he fumbled through his refrigerator for noodles and beef. "Ramen Ramen" He sang to himself. Nothing lifted his spirits higher than Ramen. The one place he felt as safe as home was at the ramen stand Ichiraku. The old man there had always allowed him to eat at the stand and had even given him a gift for his birth day last year. The set of goggles were worn loosely around his neck. He could not wear them over his eyes while cooking and they slid off his forehead when he put them up.
The fire works continued for hours and finally it darkened outside to complete night. Several voices walked by his apartment shouting in loud voices of cheer for the anniversary of the defeat of the demon fox. Naruto cringed from a few voices earlier that night when they shouted at him to hurry up and die through the window. The empty clean bowls next to the sink were forgotten and Naruto sat on his bed. He could never sleep when people shouted at him in the night and he just tucked under his sheets tighter trying to will himself to fall asleep. After an hour Naruto finally felt his eyes droop. They flew open again when he heard the windows shatter open. His heart pounded when he pulled himself out of bed and looked at the burning bottles catch the walls on fire. "Get out here demon, it's about time we really do celebrate your death!"
Naruto stumble back from the voices. He looked at the fire. Panic blinded his mind and he ran to the kitchen. He dug around quickly until he found two large pots. The boy turned on the water faucet to full blast splashing him while he dumped on pot under it. The blonde filled a pot half-way and then replaced it and ran to the fire with the half filled metal container in tow. Naruto struggled with the pot and threw the water at the fire and ran back to the pot the water was filling. He switched out another pot and lugged the heavier pot to the fire. More bottles flew through the windows and caught fire to anything they landed on.
Naruto ran back and forth as fast as he could. He never noticed hard time he had breathing after each trip. It did not occur to him that he should try and run, to leave the apartment. This little three room hovel was his home. It was his safe place. The only thoughts that ran through his head were ones that he needed to save it. After another splash of water hit the floor Naturo stumbled to the ground. Soot covered his face and his goggles that still hung around his neck. Naruto tried in vain to raise his body but it gave out from under him and his mind saw flames before his body passed out.
Deep within the boy two red eyes opened. The eyes felt the heat from beyond the boys' body. He closed his eyes and sneered. The child would live, someone was watching over him.
Inside the house, the fire was closing around the little boy before a man appeared next to Naruto. He moved his chakra filled arm to the side and the fire swept into nonexistence. He looked at the boy and his heart wanted to cry. He obviously was trying to put out the fire before he passed out. The man knelt over the boy and gently checked him. He was breathing but faintly. He picked him up and walked to the window and jumped to the ground.
The people below were still jeering and were about to start climbing the stairs to find the unconscious boy when they were suddenly slammed into the pavement. Fourteen ANBU looked at the crowd that had gathered to watch the burning apartment. The leader looked at the gaggle of people in disgust."Get out of here before I kill you." The villagers who were eagerly watching ran for their lives. The Captain's eyes seared at the villagers backs.
An old man held the Kyuubi child and waited for the ANBU leader to turn before he spoke. "I have the child. He is just unconscious."
The Captain nodded and waved for a medic Nin to check him over. The two field medics lifted the boy from the old mans arms carefully and proceeded to remove the smoke from the child's lungs. The old man looked at the Nins who were treating the boy. The Captain looked over to the old man saying,"Why am I not surprised to find you here Sempai?"
"I may be a retired Captain, but I will always watch over the boy." Both men shook hands and looked at the apartment. It was scorched and the wall that was facing them looked like it would crumble soon. Both men turned to the sound of shouting voices.
"That boy is a menace! Look what he did to my apartment building! It's going to cost thousands to fix this. It is bad enough I have to house that thing!" The thin wiry man pointed to the unconscious Naruto. "Now Ihave to pay for his mistakes, he can't even afford to pay for his place. And the apartment below him is unusable! Water and soot is seeping through the ceiling!"
An ANBU interrupted him. "Are there tenants in the apartment below this one?"
"Then tell us about it later, you're in the way." The ANBU went back to work and a few other ANBU made a few noises that sounded like snickering.
The man turned a dark red. "You don't under stand! I have to give him a discounted rate by the decree of the Hokage! It is a bad example to favor a monster especially after all that has happened!"
Captain and ex-Captain looked at each other before they calmed themselves to deal with the new group of people.
"I don't want the boy back here again!" The man repeated. He lost some steam when the Captain walked forward. The robes he wore signified everyone he was the Captain of the ANBU forces and they swayed with his steps towards the sad excuse for a man. The Captains' gaze bore through his mask at the man who was obviously the owner. The man fell silent and could do nothing but stare at the cold grey eyes behind the ANBU mask. After a few moments, which were actually seconds, the villager shuffled slightly. He looked down and squirmed under the masked mans' eyes.
The captain smiled behind his mask and said viciously. "If you have a complaint, file it through the proper channels, including the hate crimes the men in custody participated in. That is what led to the destruction of your apartment. If you feel you are incapable of housing a single six year old child, then we will find another place that will." The captain turned away leaving the man to sputter indignantly now that the gaze was off of him.
The old man smiled when the Captain rubbed the back of his neck. "Poor kid. He is an angel to any kind of patience with that kind of person."
"He has to put up with worst. I try to make him feel as welcome in my store as possible. It usually works too. I keep him there and he talks to me or my daughter while we work. It makes the day go by fast. I /have/been checking on him constantly. I can't have my only daughter be his only friend. We do the best we can when Naruto comes to visit our stand."
The Captain nodded and waited for his team to return from their report to the Hokage. It was unlikely anyone would be willing to house the boy now that people have tried to attack and kill him.
The old man looked at the damage and the villagers who were still milling around to see what had occurred. "What do you think is going to happen to him now? If we punish the villagers, there is going to be repercussions by the council to the Hokage, but if he lets it slide, the villagers are going to get bolder."
"I know. Those bastards just stood there and watched. They all looked too happy for my liking." They both paused to look at the crowd that fluctuated from thick to thin. There were a myriad of adults many smirking with hate in their eyes. Both men shook their heads at the display. "IF THE CIVILLIANS DO NOT CLEAR OUT OF HERE NOW I WILL ARREST YOU ALL FOR DISRUPTING AN INVESTIGATION!" The villagers looked at the man scowling at their only entertainment now that the fireworks were done.
"I should have watched over him since he got home. I was only here on whim to look over him. I was ready to kill the bastards when I saw them." The old mans eyes harden to a soldier who had seen years of war. "But the boy always comes first. Naruto deserves that from at least us... if no one else then just us." The two stood in silence while ANBU stood outside the apartment and observed burned remains of the main room. The floor was too weak to support their weight and would collapse if more weight was placed on it. The old man sighed at the sight. "We can only pray for the boys' safety." Both men looked at the boy. Naruto was resting on a stretcher with two ANBU that had their masks off. They were both healers.
"He is so young."
The ex-captain looked at his replacement and smiled. "He is. I am sure he will be alright. He will just need to accept some things he never thought of before." The ANBU leader nodded and turned away to talk to his men."Hey Kita,"
The Captain turned to the retired man. "Yeah Ichira?"
"Tell the boy I will have a bowl of ramen waiting for him when he visits my stand again." They both smiled and went their separate ways.
I am sorry Naruto. I wish there was another way.
- - - - - -
Naruto opened his eyes and found himself inside a large office. The boy felt himself laying on a plush couch. He coughed a little, still tasting the smoke in his lungs. "I am glad you are looking well."
Naruto sat up and stretched. The boy looked up and saw an old man standing next to him. He wore a simple white robe and had no hat or even headband showing he was a ninja. "How are you feeling Naruto?"
The child nodded he was fine, but felt sad. He pulled his legs to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. "Why do they hate me?"Naruto sniffed and rubbed his eyes with his arm. He did not want to cry in front of an old man.
"It's alright." The Sandaime sat in front of the boy who was still seated on the couch.
Naruto sighed shakily. He began to shake and looked at his hand. "Why am I shaking?" His voice was stuttered and scared.
"You have lived through a very trying experience. I never fore saw this kind of reaction. I am sorry I have failed you Naruto. I have seemed to have failed you in every way possible. The shaking will stop in time. It is just your minds way of handling the stress of the fire and the people who caused it." The old man looked at the boy and placed a warm hand on Naruto's shoulder. After a few seconds Naruto's body stopped shaking. Naruto lowered his legs and looked at the old man. The Hokage rubbed his eyes. It pained him so to see this child suffer. The blonde haired boy looked at him confusion written on his face. The Hokage looked at the boy and handed him some tea. The boy took it and sipped slowly. The tea allowed him to do something while the Hokage started. "I suppose now is as good of a time as any to explain some things about the history of this village. Your story started with the demon fox Kyuubi who attacked our village six years ago..."
The old man who never identified himself explained to the boy the reason why he was hated, the old mans disappointment in his village and the reason why this man holds the now crying boy in so much honor and respect. Naruto sobbed out the years of leering, jokes and loneliness he had held and latched onto the old man. He understood now why he was hated. The old man had talked to him long and hard for the whole day of what he is and is not, what the village thinks he was and was not, and what Naruto will become and will never be.
It was night fall when Naruto fell asleep. He was too exhausted to eat much, and went straight to sleep. The Sandaime glanced down at the sleeping boy and sighed. The council was already demanding a meeting for the unjust punishment of the attack. The Hokage gritted his teeth. The villagers' reasoning to try and kill a boy was an act of self defense. The Third had all of the people involved arrested for breaking a village secret. Unfortunately, two of the prisoners were two business owners. They basically were the main export of the village. Their pressure over the council will be enormous.
"Hokage-sama" A jounin appeared behind the Kage. He was kneeling deeply and had one hand on the floor in submission to his superior.
The old man turned to the Nin and motioned for the man to stand. "Stand, what news do you have from the Sand Village?"
"The Kazekage read your letter and immediately replied. His reaction was that of confusion and concern Hokage-sama." He bowed his head and handed the village leader the scroll.
I understand your need to protect the village child. If you feel that you can part with him for several years, we of the Suna village will be willing to over see the child's safety. Be warned, I would not lie to my people over the identity of the child. He may have a harder time here. If the boy, Uzumaki Naruto is willing, he may request to return to your village at any time. I would be happy to have the boy claim asylum in the Village Hidden in the Sands.
The Third looked at the rest of the message. The letter was more wordy messages of cooperation between the two nations. He nodded at the rest of the letter, slightly thankful that the Kazekage would be willing to look after the boy. The old man was no longer sure if he could anymore.
"Speak of this mission to no one. You are dismissed." The Jounin saluted and disappeared.
The first thing Naruto felt was his stomach grumbling. His face was scrunched and he slowly opened his eyes. He saw something colorful in front of him and smiled that it was orange. He sat up and looked around. He was no longer in the office like last time. He had slept on a real bed. It was getting dark outside, and Naruto wondered if he slept for a whole day. It would be the first time the hyper boy would have slept past noon. He moved his neck and it popped, at which point he said "Owwwww..." Naruto looked at the clothes and smiled widely. "Orange!" He admired the new orange shirt and the black pants. Naruto loved the pants as much as the shirt. The seam had a thin orange strip run along its length. He ran to the bathroom and bathed not thinking that he was intruding on anyone since the bathroom connected only to the room he had slept in. He slipped on the new clothes and smiled widely. A weight had been lifted off his shoulders and a new one its replacement. He was the prison for the demon fox Kyuubi that had attacked the village on the day he was born. The Fourth Hokage sacrificed his life to seal the demon away for ever, and he happened to be the object that the fox was sealed into.
The boy laughed at the idea that he was a hero to the old man. He didn't do anything and he knew he was not great. But the old man appreciated him in a way no one has before. Naruto thought the loosing of his safe place worth while to have gained the respect of the Hokage of the village.
He ran out of the bath room and out of the bed room and through the mansion. It was larger than the apartment complex that he had lived in and all the rooms were connected to hall ways instead of out door passages. He giggled when he slid on the shiny wooden floor and hit a wall. He rubbed his head and laughed again when he found railing that went down two floors and proceeded to slide down it.
Naruto was having the time of his life, and he did it thinking that life will get better now that he has an old man as a friend.
- o -
At the same time on the other side of the village a small girl sat on an abandoned door step. She had been crying none stop for the past few days. The boy she admired had disappeared. She learned later that his apartment was caught on fire and people tried to kill him. What scared her most were the cold stares she received when asking about the boy named Naruto. She finally couldn't stand it when she gathered the courage to ask her father. He snapped at her to not worry about things that did not concern her and to concentrate on her training. She was lagging behind her cousin.
Hinata was forced to ignore her feelings until the end of practice. But as soon as it was over she fled the Hyuuga compound. She couldn't stand the cold look her father gave her. Hinata finally lost hope in finding out what had happened to the boy she had always watched in class. The class clown.
"Who is there?" asked a harsh voice. Hinata gasped and looked up to see a scowling black haired boy staring down at here. "This is the Uchiha Clan's home, you shouldn't be here."
Hinata looked at him and started to cry again. Uchiha Sasuke looked at the girl in confusion. He stood their waiting for the girl to walk away. When Hinata finally slowed her crying she glared at the boy. "You are just like them too aren't you! You don't even care he is gone." She stood up and started to hit the slightly taller boy. She was crying again and Sasuke softened his gaze at her. He knew what it was like to cry like that. He spoke when she slowed down and just concentrated on crying.
"What are you talking about?"
Hinata just shook her head. "Naruto! He is in our class you never noticed he has been gone the past few days?" Sasuke looked at her in between disgust and shock.
"He probably just dropped out, or at least skipped class."
Hinata shook her head again. She did not want to think about it but said, "He was attacked by a lot of villagers three days ago! They tried to kill him!" Sasuke let his arms drop to his sides and looked at her in shock.
"That can't be, someone would have said something..."
"NO! I tried to ask! All I get are people who hate him. Ican't find anyone who cares!" Hinata was just huddled on the ground. She sniffed loudly. Sasuke sighed. He had no idea why he would want to help this girl, but he remembered his own family who had died over a year ago. He ignored the righteous anger and concentrated on the pain of his classmate.
Sasuke replayed what she just said and was confused. Why would anyone hate the prankster enough to try to kill? Did they kill him?"Let's go see the Hokage." Sasuke said confidently.
"Now?" The Hyuuga sniffed.
"Come on, I don't think he would have left his office yet, we can catch him if we hurry." Sasuke grabbed the girls hand and began to run dragging her until she was able to keep up. Hinata looked at the boy and smiled her thanks. They would find out what happened to Naruto now.
The two children made their way across town moving as fast as they could. The most direct route was through the shopping arcade which was unfortunately busy this time of evening. Hinata tucked her head down ignoring questions being asked towards them when they ran by. When they finally made it through the main street, it was getting late and adults looked at the two curiously. Hinata and Sasuke slowed and panted when they could see the entrance to the Hokage Tower. Sasuke nodded to Hinata and they both walked to the entrance. A single ANBU stood at the door and his mask lowered slightly to the two children. The man made them both shiver. Hinata looked at Sasuke helplessly.
Sasuke gave silent sigh. "Excuse me?" The ANBU wore a mask of a bird. Behind the mask the ANBU looked at the two suspiciously. "We wanted to know if we could see the Sandaime Hokage."
The ANBU raised his eyebrows, surprised that children would want to see the Hokage at this hour. He looked at the darkening sky. No one would try and seek the Hokage at this hour. "I am sorry he has already left for the night."
Both children looked down at this. They then turned each other and back up to the man. "Can you tell us anything about Naruto? He has been gone for a few days."
The man smiled at the two kids. The kids just earned his respect. "I am sorry but I do not have any information I can give you about any child."
Sasuke raised his eyebrow but nodded and dragged Hinata away. The girl was ready to ask another question. She was scared of the masked man at first but had been slowly building the courage to ask him something. She squeaked when the Uchiha grabbed her elbow and pulled her away. Sasuke looked over his shoulder. "Thank you for your time, we will come back tomorrow."
Hinata was still huffing indignantly when Sasuke let her go. When she turned to yell at him he placed a finger over her lips. She ignored the tingling sensation from the touch. The Hyuuga heiress rarely had physical contact others, the most would be the hits from her father or cousin during practice.
"The ANBU guy gave us a few clues Hinata-san." Hinata slowly nodded for him to continue, she lost all of the anger she had and Sasuke lowered his finger that had silenced her. "He said he does not 'have information he can give any child'. He knows what's going on but he can't tell us. If it isn't information that is days old, that means Naruto should be alive, just somewhere we can't get to him. Another big clue is that if the Hokage was gone, why is he still guarding the door? There must be some meeting or something that he turned us away for."
Hinata nodded feeling better by the minute. "I can try again tomorrow then. I will go right after scho- No, I can't. Father wants me to train." Hinata felt like crying again.
"I can do it, but it would be better if we do it during the day."
Hinata gasped, "Yo-you mean skip class?" Her voice was filled with fear and her hands covered her mouth. "I don't know if I can do that. My father would..."
Sasuke looked at her. "Are you worried about the brat?"Hinata looked at the ground and nodded. She looked back at him. Her eyes and mouth firmed into determination.
"It can't be that bad if Naruto and those boys skip."
Sasuke actually laughed at the expression, it did not look natural on her. "That's better. Let's meet up after the third class right before lunch." Sasuke shivered as he said it. Some where two girls sneezed.
Hinata nodded. "Thank you, I would still be lost if..." Hinata choked back another sob and wiped away the non-existent tear.
"We find out what happened. Go, your dad will be mad. It's late."
Hinata eep'ed and ran home waving back to him. Sasuke looked at the girl and let the corners of his mouth turn upwards. He sighed. It felt good to do something other than wallow about his brother. He turned towards the main streets. He had some questions he needed answered about the attack on Naruto. The sobs of the Hyuuga girl on his porch were still fresh in his mind.
It was with little effort and questions that he found himself in front of a burned complex. The place was cornered off from others to enter. Sasuke looked at the area and saw this street was more of a dirt alley. The only apartment that had an entrance was one with scorch marks. Sasuke looked over his shoulder to where he came from. Like any Uchiha, Sasuke considered himself a genius among geniuses. Even if he had grown into adulthood with the clan alive and well, he would not see how his view would be seen as arrogance all. He shook his head at the people of the village. They really wanted to appease the Uchiha. He had wondered at their condescending tone about Naruto. The village seemed to open up to him who hated it, and close to Naruto who wanted it. Sasuke turned from the villagers who were blocks away and back to the complex.
The real damage was the single apartment. Sasuke jumped over the fenced off entrance and over the steps to the second level. The door was locked. He looked at how close the buildings were and took a step back before breathing to keep his nerves steady. He ran and jumped off the stairs and planted his feet in a dead run on the side of the nearest building. He kept running while trying to keep his arms balancing himself. When he thought he was close enough to the next building he jumped again and smiled when the hole from the fire was within jumping distance. He ran several more steps against the second building's wall and flew inside the burnt apartment. His feet slipped when he made contact with the floor and he fell in an unceremonious thump.
Sasuke sighed while not bothering to get up immediately. He was not as agile as he wanted to be but was surprised that he was able to get himself inside with out scaling up walls. He sat up and dusted himself off. At the first step the floor creaked. Sasuke looked at the floor witheringly. He stepped towards the center and felt the floor buckle slightly. When nothing appeared ready to collapse, he proceeded to move around the apart, albeit slowly and carefully. The Uchiha looked around the living room and saw several pots on the ground. One had water in it still. He knelt and touched the soot on the ground, it was still sludge like. "The idiot knew there was a fire, he tried to put it out..."
Sasuke entered the kitchen and saw that most of it was covered in smoky residue. He looked at the door and saw that the fire was no where near it. The brat could have easily left. Sasuke thought about it asecond and shook his head. The door opened to a passage that went back down to the front where who ever started the fire. "He couldn't leave. Not by the front door at least." Sasuke looked through the house and saw that it was very clean. The only trash he found that was not in the trashcan was the instant ramen cups next to the bed mat in the next room. He saw no other doors or windows. "This is a really small apartment." Sasuke said to himself. He never lived in something this small before and wondered how anyone would be able to and not feel scared of such closed spaces. He looked at the bed room and snorted at the orange clothes. When he made a full circle around the apartment Sasuke nodded to himself. "He must have been on his own longer than I have." Sasuke had not had much contact with the other boy, but knew that he was loud and a prankster. Sasuke smiled slightly. Naruto was probably as lonely as he was.
He went back to the front room where the fire started. He touched the wall and the window sill. It still had broken glass from the window still in place. "That fire didn't come from a jutsu. So at least it wasn't aninja who tried to start the fire." Sasuke concentrated hard on the scene to find something he was missing. His eyes felt as if they refocused and he looked around the room again carefully. He saw broken glass that did not come from awindow and looked at it. It was a rounded lip of glass. "A bottle?" He sniffed the glass and smelled kerosene.
He looked at the window and down to the ground. "I see. They were throwing them." Sasuke finally rubbed his eyes, they were hurting him. When he looked around again, Sasuke sighed. He wouldn't find anything else for now. He walked to the front door opened it and locked it on his way out.
Before he left Sasuke looked at the ground. The place had not been disturbed since the fire and there was no rain. Sasuke could easily see the imprints on the ground. There were dozen pairs of shoe imprints. Sasuke suddenly remembered where the bottle landed inside the house. He walked to where he would be to throw the bottle and saw half a dozen foot prints and larger blander prints. "That's a lot of people to try and burn out a kid." He smiled at the larger prints. Someone must have finally stopped them. Judging from the all same imprint of the soles it was probably ANBU. No other organization in the Konoha village had matching shoes. Sasuke snorted at the thought.
He looked around and saw dozens of foot prints circling around the whole scene. Were people watching the arrest? But it had to have happened late night or the other kids would have talked. So why would so many people wake up and walk over for an arrest unless... "They all stood around to watch...." The horror in the boys' voice shook him more than the revelation did. The villagers came to watch Naruto burn. He took a step back and stumbled. His mind was numb.
"Who is there?" A man from the building behind him opened his second floor window and down to the boy. "Who are you and what are you doing?"
Sasuke had not felt so much rage until the day after his brother killed his clan. When that truth finally settled on him, he swore he would kill his brother. This rage was just as potent. Was the village worth the effort to protect if they would so readily kill their own children? Sasuke stood up and looked at the man in the window. "My name is Uchiha Sasuke." The man looked at the boy and cringed. The boys red eyes were very unsettling.
"Sorry Uchiha-san, I just did not want another disturbance like the one that Naruto boy caused when he started that fire." The man ducted into his window again and closed the blinds.
Sasuke felt the rage die in him. He looked at the window the man retreated into. Sasuke had a look of complete disgust and sadness. They would pass such an obvious lie to anyone?
Sasuke began to turn home. At the steps to the gate Sasuke looked at the collapsed portion of the apartment. "What is the point of attacking a kid? A prankster isn't the kind of threat an adult would take seriously." Sasuke walked away to his compound. He would find his answers tomorrow.
- o -
Naruto woke up in time for breakfast the next day. He bathed put on his cloths form last night and happily saw the old man at the bottom of the stairs waiting for him. "Hey old man!" Naruto said happily.
The Third Hokage smiled. "I am glad to see you so high in spirits. Come, during breakfast we have many things to discuss." The boy nodded happily. They two entered the large banquet hall and both sat at a corner of the smaller tables. Breakfast turned out to be beef ramen. The boy did not need any prompting and started eating immediately. The Hokage took off his hat and set it on the floor next to him. He too finally started eating. After a moment a servant entered with another bowl of ramen for the boy.
"Ayame of Ichiraku woke up early this morning to make this for you."
Narutos' smile widened and said around a swallow, "I am going to have to thank her when I visit next time." He was through his second bowl when another servant delivered another bowl looking at the child in disbelief.
The Sandaime laughed. "I wanted to talk to you about what Iam going to have to do about your safety Naruto." The boy slowed down and set the bowl down and wiped his face. He looked sad thinking about it but nodded."The people who attacked you are being punished through fines." The boy looked at him in confusion. "That means that your attackers will be paying you money for attacking you. The fines are a replacement for not being able to send them to prison. Unfortunately Naruto, they were very rich people on which the village relies on to keep Konoha running."
The old man narrowed his eyes in anger thinking back to the meeting the night before. The whole trial was a farce as far as he was concerned. His only victory was that the fines were a serious blow to the business men. They would have to work hard to make a profit when much of their capital went to the boy.
"Even though they are being punished, more people will come and try to hurt you." Naruto lowered his head and nodded.
"What can I do?"
The Hokage placed a warm hand on the boys shoulder. "A fellow village has agreed to over see your protection until you are ready to become a genin and properly protect yourself. When that time comes, you will be able to return. You /are /able to come back at any time, but it is not awise idea until you can fight. I wish there was another way my boy."
Naruto nodded slowly. When he looked up again he smiled."Well maybe I can make a few friends in this other village."
The Third smiled and nodded.
The next morning Sasuke gently passed Hinata a crumpled ball of paper while they walked past each other to their first class. Hinata sat in the corner away from the others. She had always been afraid the other children would not like her, and they always got angry when she tried to talk. She just got to nervous and would stutter. She was grateful for her nervousness for the first time in her life. There were only two other students in front of her and no one sitting next to her. She unrolled the paper and looked back and Sasuke and saw two girls who were noisy. Both sighed dreamily at Sasuke. She looked at Sasuke and couldn't help but giggle at the look of annoyance in his face. She looked back down to the letter and reread it.
Meet fifty meters south of the east gate. There is a tree that is on the outside fence of the school grounds. I'll meet you in the tree. I need to get rid of a few pests at lunch.
Hinata smiled again when the two girls started pick at each other and disturbing class. Sasuke looked at her through the corner of his eye. They both smiled slightly. The blonde girl and the pink haired girl both swooned, thinking the smile was for them. The class stopped again when they got out of hand. Hinata couldn't help but giggle again.
When the lunch bell rang, several students got out their lunches and ate there. She saw Sasuke run out the door with the two girls chasing after him. She smiled slightly at the display. She stood up silently and made for the door before anyone asked questions. Hinata never left her seat during lunch.
She walked out to the door and outside where other students were eating and chatting. She stopped near a tree that was close to where the gate was. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Byakugan She looked around to make sure no one was looking and jumped strait up and used the trees to get over the gate and ran to the tree where she would meet Sasuke. She jumped inside and squatted. She sighed when she realized she was really going to skip class. She leaned against the trunk where it met the branch she sat on and waited for Sasuke.
Sasuke immediately fled for the door when the bell rang. As soon as he was out of the room he heard, "Sasuke-kun wait!" He broke into a run and headed for the stairs.
"Ino-pig! I saw him first!" Sasuke didn't need to hear the two to know they were in pursuit. He sprinted up the stairs and entered one of the classrooms which were thankfully empty. Three hand seals later a bushin was outside the door and ran around the corner as the girls made it to the second floor. "SASUKE-KUN!" Both girls cried in unison. They both broke into a run and the Uchiha breathed out relieved to have the nuisances gone. He looked at the window and smirked. He was on the south side of the school and the forest came right up to the school. He opened the window and jumped to the nearest tree. He gripped it solidly and hopped up to a higher branch. He saw the girls call his name again and he saw them run around on the third floor thinking he went to the other stair case.
"Idiots." Sasuke turned and moved from tree to tree until he found himself sharing a tree with the quiet Hyuuga. "Yo!"
"You look too nervous for your own good. Take a deep breath and let's get going. We got thirty minutes to get to Hokage Tower before the teachers notice we are gone."
"Un" Hinata nodded.
They both jumped down from the tree and sprinted towards the Tower.
- o -
"I will write old man. I promise." Naruto stood in front of the Hokage with several people Naruto had come to know over his time in Konoha. Next to the Hokage were Ayame and her father, Ichira, the owner of his favorite Ramen shop. They both smiled at him.
"Were there anyone else you wished to say good bye to Naruto?" The Sandaime asked.
Naruto looked up with half closed eyes. He thought about it for a moment before he shook his head. "No one I know real well." Sandaime nodded and two ANBU escorts helped with the child's luggage. They headed out of the office to load the wagon and see Uzumaki Naruto off to the Sand Village.
- o -
Hinata and Sasuke made it to the Tower and saw two ANBU standing over a wagon. They both stopped not sure if they would be taken back to the school with out so much as an explanation. Hinata looked at Sasuke and huffed. She grabbed him by the hand and they both marched towards the ANBU.
The ANBU themselves looked at the two kids and chuckled slightly. "Do I even want to know why two children are out of school at this time of day."
"Suzume said there were two children who wanted to know about Naruto last night."
"They have good timing." Neither one looked away from the children as they stood in front of them. "How may we help you, children of Hyuuga and Uchiha?"
Both students paused. Neither one of them were too thrilled to being identified so easily. But Hinata spoke up. "We wanted to speak with the Sandaime about Naruto." She breathed out and then added. "Please." As soon as she said it out loud she felt her shoulders slouch and her head tucked down slightly back to her normal timid self.
Both ANBU looked at each other. They worked well enough to know they were both silently laughing through their masks. "The Sandaime is in a meeting now. He should actually be coming down these steps in a few minutes. Why don't you wait here? I don't think you would get into too much trouble out here as in there." He had his thumb pointed inside the Hokage Tower. Both students nodded and moved to the side and stood waiting to speak with the Hokage.
Sasuke felt himself get nervous before he shook it off. He had a lot of questions to ask the Hokage, and if he wanted answers he needed to at least be confident or the Hokage might not take him seriously. And there was always the possibility that the Hokage didn't like Naruto either. More horrid thoughts ran through his head while he waited.
Hinata shifted from one foot to the other. Her face was bright red. She had never spoken so rudely to anyone before. She antagonized how she forgot etiquette and tacked on that late please. She would already be in trouble for skipping class, if her father found out how rude she was to anyone... And this guy was an ANBU! The protectors of the village!
Both children looked up when they heard the doors open. Hinata ran through all the words she would say and lost them as soon as she saw who was walking with the old man. "Naruto!" The girl was so happy to see him she ran and gave him hug.
Naruto was nearly off his feet when the girl latched onto him. "Eh? Hinata?"
Hinata looked at him, gasped and let go. Her face was bright red and Sasuke humphed at the two.
"Eh? What's this?" Naruto looked at the two kids.
Hinata's face was still bright red and she moved her fingers together nervously. "W-we were worried about you when we found out about you being attacked."
Naruto opened his eyes fully. He was completely surprised anyone in school would even care he was gone. He looked at the two and the smile he had on his face refused to budge. "Heh, sorry I worried you Hinata-chan. Sasuke right?"
Sasuke nodded. "I was curious more than worried." He looked at the boy and they both saw that the lie was more for Hinata. He smirked. "I was more worried about the girl."
Both boys grinned. Hinata simply stayed red and looked back and forth between the two boys unsure how to respond. She was saved when the Sandaime placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"This is an unexpected and pleasant surprise. You have caught him just as he was ready to depart."
"You're leaving!" asked Hinata. She looked at Naruto before she promptly realized she shouted the last part. "Sorry I-"
Naruto smiled widely for her. "Nothing to it. The old man and I decided it would be better for me to leave the village until I am able to defend myself." He looked at Sasuke and the Uchiha's cold calculating eyes looked back. "I'll be back as soon as I am ready to take the Genin test."
"But that is still a few years..." Hinata protested.
"Not that long. I'll be back before you know it."
Sasuke looked to the old man and wondered what the Hokage was playing at. He looked at Naruto and nudged his head for Naruto to speak privately. Naruto nodded and moved to speak quietly with Sasuke. Hinata, being afraid to let Naruto go, followed. Sasuke looked at the girl to go away. She merely clenched her fist and stood next to Naruto. Sasuke smirked at her and nodded before saying. "What is going on Naruto? I saw the apartment where you lived." Naruto sucked in a breath of air. "I could tell what happened. Why are you leaving? If it was just because you have no home, I am not accepting it. Everyone I met has a problem with you. Why?"
Naruto looked at the ground. He was so happy moments before when he found two people his age that cared about him to look for the Hokage. Now they wanted to know information that might turn them against him. He looked at the two of them and said before he thought. "I just found out myself. And Ican't tell you. It's a village secret." He looked to Hinata who nodded sadly and her eyes showed signs of tearing up. Naruto then looked to Sasuke. "You saw my home and probably know what happened. You have all the clues you need to find out the secret. Just think..." Naruto stopped and felt the pain in his chest. He looked at the two and felt his heart wrench. "When you find out, send me a letter. If you want to be my friends after that or hate me, I want to find out face to face."
Naruto turned to the Hokage and nodded to him before getting into the wagon. Hinata and Sasuke looked stunned for a moment before they turned back to the strange boy with a village secret. Hinata saw the driver get in and ran to Naruto. She got one step into the wagon and gave him a hug."We'll see you when you are ready to become a genin."
Naruto smiled back. He let his arms go around her uncomfortably. He never hugged a girl before. Naruto whispered into her ear."Sooner if you two figure it out Hinata-chan."
Hinata jumped off before stepping next to Sasuke. Sasuke and Hinata watched the wagon pull away with Naruto waving back to the two of them enthusiastically. Sasuke thought of something, "Hey baka! Where are you going?"They would not be able to send a letter if they didn't know where he was going to live.
Naruto smiled and shouted out. "The Hidden Village of the Sand!"
Hinata waved and smiled back to the boy she cared about and grinned to the one next to her. The two would figure out Naruto's secret.
- o -
The Kazekage looked at his village and breathed in the dry heated air. His home of the sands and dunes was a gorgeous and prosperous place. Soon he would have another demon in his village's midst's. If this boy was as powerful as he thought, then he could either shape his own son through example or train the Kyuubi child to kill his son Gaara.
Isolation of the Kyuubi demon would be easy enough. The villagers were informed of the boys impending arrival and already they were weary of any of their children dieing to the foreigners hands. Better Gaara's than some monster demon fox that had lived for thousands of years.
The Kazekage looked at the scroll he held in his hand. His son killed another villager. The Kage solemnly nodded to himself. The boy had already developed a penchant for killing anyone who is in his way. If the Kage was skillful enough he would be able to eliminate the threat his son poses to the village and the disable the Kyuubi container as well. The other viable option would be to have them both under his control by the time the two children were Shinobi.
- - -End Chapter 1Secrets- - -
A/N: Mah, an actual edited chapter, I think, feel free to drop a line if you find mistakes, I plan to correct the ones on here. Just to note to compare to the draft on ff.net, dialogue between the kids is a little dumbed down since they are all barely six. Thought I should mess with it after talking to a few six year olds. And messed with the Kazekage a little.