A/N: First Naruto fic~ I saw the Kakashi Gaiden and just couldn't resist the temptation for my first attempt to be a cliché (with some original Kuroshiro wackiness thrown in!) time-travel story…Warnings, disclaimers and stuff will be put in the next chapter.
Prologue: Fanning the Flames
He woke to the familiar prickling sensation of sharp grass poking through the dark orange cotton of his shirt and into the smooth bronze skin of his back, the warmth of the sun beating down on his face and cool summer breeze blowing through the trees. His scruffy blonde hair, messy and sticking in all directions with lengthening strands falling to frame his face, tickled the soft flesh his childishly rounded cheeks as he let a silent breath of air escape his lips.
Two wide blue eyes, so bright and clear they rivaled the beautiful summer sky above, began to idly trail over his surroundings in an attempt to memorize every last detail about the thriving field of green. Taking in the sight of the tall evergreen trees with their thick trunks coated in an almost stringy bark and sun warmed sand, a perfect shade of white that one would expect to find on one of the more coastal regions of the five great nations, sprinkled out across the ground.
The blonde boy sighed and slowly pushed himself to his feet, his eyes widening in shock as the black pants that he remembered fitting him perfectly that morning slipped down to the area around his ankles leaving him in nothing but an oversized shirt and his underwear. Blood rushed to his cheeks and he quickly pulled them back up, small hands fisting in the soft material desperately trying to keep his pants from falling again.
Sucking in a deep breath to calm himself, the boy looked down at his body, his small barely taller than the average three year old body, and swore colorfully in a way that only he and his late mentor, the super pervert Jiraiya, knew how. He had always been rather short for his age, probably caused by the lack of nutrition in his diet, and being the size of a three year old meant he was probably four or five tops.
"Naruto," The strangely familiar voice said sharply, like a tiny silver bell tolling at the stroke of midnight, and his eyes scanned over the dense trees circling the clearing in an attempt to locate its owner. A small figure steeped out of the shadows, and the blonde, Naruto, had to remind himself that he did in fact need air to survive as the young dark haired boy in clothes far too big for his tiny form pointed out needlessly, "You're awake."
"Sasuke…you…you're…" He stuttered, shaking his head to clear his thoughts, before starting up again with a hesitantly curious, "Sasuke?"
Idly Naruto noticed how even through his clear discomfort, Sasuke had never liked being stared at all that much, the other gave no actual facial expression aside from the brief flash of relief that had shown in his deep, gray eyes when Naruto had first spoken. His lips parted slightly and Sasuke murmured, his voice soothing over Naruto's worries like waves on a beach, "Relax Dobe, we're okay."
He nodded, flopping back onto to the ground, and within moments Sasuke was by his side and dragging a kunai through the tough material of his pants in a manner similar to what he had done to his own before the two had been reunited. Naruto quickly kicked off his zori while his friend tied various strips of material—that he assumed were the white bandages Sasuke had previously had covering his forearms—around his waist to act as a belt.
Naruto chuckled sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck as his eyes crinkled shut, and asked his friend in an attempt to lighten the quickly falling mood, "So this is the side effect of an attempted time travel huh?"
Sasuke gave him a look, Naruto was sure he was questioning his sanity or lack thereof, in return before turning and walking away, a four year old striding through the trees with more confidence and power than his small form should have ever allowed, trusting Naruto to follow. Naruto quickly stumbled after him, stifling a laugh just incase his friend should turn around and demand to know the source of his amusement, as he watched the soft locks of bluish black hair bounce with every step Sasuke took.
Except when the village proper came into view he quickly choked his admittedly odd sense of humor back into the far corners of his mind and his wide smile fell into a look of bewilderment as he immediately noticed something with the village was very off from what it had been before and what he had expected to find. The Hokage Monument was missing two extremely important faces, only one of which the young Jinchuriki could understand. He glanced at his dark haired companion briefly from the corner of his blue eyes, Sasuke's almost imperceptible nod told him what he needed to know, and reached out to clasp their hands together.
The large, wooden gates were sitting wide open, as was normal for midmorning, and the two boys managed to slip in behind a small group of merchants and their cart without being noticed by the weary shinobi on guard duty. The blonde allowed himself to relax, even though his companion gave him a fond yet somewhat disapproving glare for his conduct, and reached up to scratch at the thin whisker-like scars carved into his otherwise flawless cheeks.
"I don't like this." Sasuke noted aloud, the pitch of his lilting tenor voice making the dark haired boy wince, just a minute change in his expression that none but Naruto would have ever noticed. With a scowl on his face, he continued, eyes narrowing, "At all."
The blonde tilted his head to the side in a show of childish amusement as he chuckled lightly, ignoring his friend's ire with practiced ease, and murmured, "We're stuck here S'uke you know that better than I do."
"I'm just being…"
"Just being a good shinobi with more common sense than all us other tree-huggers combined." He finished, squeezing Sasuke's hand in a gesture of comfort and understanding.
Sasuke responded with naught but a quiet exhale, his version of an exasperated sigh, and his lips quirked up slightly at one side in a pathetic excuse for a smile. Naruto grinned at him in response, exposing perfectly straight pearly white teeth and slightly longer than average canines as he did so, fingering the sparkling blue crystal that hung from the sturdy strip of leather tied around his neck absentmindedly.
After a moment of silence the black haired boy sighed again, squeezing his hand back, "Let's go."
He nodded his agreement as he leaned against Sasuke's side and started to thread his fingers through the other's tousled mop of glossy hair. It had a strange almost springy texture towards the back where it began to spike up and the lengthening bangs that fell to frame his face was silken and smooth against the sensitive pads of his fingertips. Sasuke had always had nice hair.
An older black haired boy, who looked quite a bit like a twelve year old Naruto now that he thought about it, with a pair of orange tinted goggles covering the polished metal of the navy Konoha Hitai-ate tied around his forehead and wide dark gray eyes that shone with infectious, joyful energy ran passed them at the speed of a High-Chunin—or perhaps Jonin—level shinobi. He pushed himself up into the air with a quick burst of chakra to his feet and began hopping from rooftop to rooftop in the direction of the training grounds, the red and white Uchiha crest stitched proudly into the back of his jacket on full display.
That small symbol that seemed to go unnoticed—other than the slight awe the boy's clan no doubt invoked—by the people milling around them was more proof to be added to the rapidly growing mental list Naruto had been making since they had 'arrived'. They had really gone back in time…just a little further than either of them had anticipated.
Naruto went from being stunned and overjoyed to inhumanly smug as Sasuke smiled once again, numerous possibilities spinning behind his eyes, and began to walk far faster than the average child should be able to, leading Naruto along by their joined hands. A small jingling sound caught the blonde's attention and his gaze traveled to his exposed right wrist and the sturdy silver band locked in place around it by a steady flow of Gaara's soothingly familiar chakra, tiny grains of sand hovering mere millimeters above the kanji engraved on the front of the band reminding him of his promise to the man who was his brother in all but blood.
Sasuke gazed at him curiously and he gestured vaguely towards his wrist with a sheepish laugh earning another exasperated sigh from his companion that only served to make him pout. A dark, animalistic chuckle echoed in the back of his mind and Naruto growled eternal damnations towards the demon sealed within his body under his breath as a strange, but obscenely familiar, force tugged at his consciousness.
Cursing again, louder this time, he forced himself to focus on the world outside the seal and the warm feeling of Sasuke's hand in his inadvertently drawing the incredulous yet somewhat questioning, and pitying, stares of the surrounding citizens of Konohagakure. Sasuke glared heatedly at him, silently demanding that he fix the mess he'd made of their already precarious situation, and Naruto pulled up the mask he'd used during the long, painful months after Jiraiya's funeral to make himself laugh realistically enough to fool the shinobi peering down from the rooftops with looks of confusion and suspicion plastered on their faces.
Thankfully they seemed to fall for his act, with very little effort on Naruto's part, passing him off as just some hungry street urchin running around playing ninja with one of his friends. He was starting to think he and Sai actually had something in common, they faked a lot more than they felt. Hiding themselves behind cheerful smiles and light hearted comments that was taken as, more often than Naruto cared to admit, a juvenile attempt at getting someone's—anyone's—attention.
He had been told he was like sunshine once but Naruto had always thought that if he had to be like anything it was starlight, a bright and burning light so far in the distant sky that it was unnoticeable until darkness fell and it finally stood out in a stark contrast to the inky blue of the night sky. Beautiful because he was at a height no one else but the small gathering of other stars could reach and a monster because only those other stars could understand why he kept shining despite the loneliness. He'd been starlight until someone precious reached up and found a way to achieve the impossible, obtain the unobtainable and love the human sacrifice given up to be the container of a demon fox. Shikamaru had said in his usual lazy slur that the sun was a star anyway so Naruto supposed that that person who'd called him sunshine, he didn't remember who but he was fairly certain it had been Gaara or Kakashi, had been right as well.
Naruto closed his eyes against the wisps of memories his thoughts brought to him and focused on the thing nagging at him. Kyuubi's voice flowing like the crimson life giving liquid that he had spilt so many times and yet pretended not to be effected by, questioning him on his ability to protect his precious people once again, as he absentmindedly noted the large number of Konoha's forces leaping from rooftop to rooftop, far more than what Naruto considered normal for that time of day, and the hassled expressions worn by all of the beautiful village's citizens.
A smile of pure amusement formed on his face as he turned to his rather blank faced friend and asked, wondering if the other had even noticed the village's suspiciously chaotic atmosphere, "S'uke…I'm not the only one finding this place weird am I?"
"It's war Dobe."
"Oh~" He responded with a carefully placed oblivious smile that would make him seem completely childlike and innocent to the casual observer before asking, his tone light hearted and sounding more like he was singing the words than speaking them despite the seriousness of his question, "How are we gonna' be doing things anyway?"
The answer was complex in its simplicity, "Set up. Begin the first phase. Make contact."
To Naruto that short list was full of hidden information, set up: find a place to stay and work from without getting caught doing anything that could prove detrimental to the mission's completion, begin the first phase: become the person that the Kage allocated to you, make contact: find targets and gain their trust. To the less knowledgeable beings in Konoha it meant nothing aside from the mumbled words of two very dirty, underfed children in too large clothes with their hair mussed and small, bare feet lacking the protection offered from a pair of zori.
Naruto grinned. He was going to enjoy their little trip.
Musings Of A Meitantei
Mayhem, Chaos, Disorder, Anarchy and Common Misconceptions
- Diversion of Time: Prologue