Naruto and Marvel belong to Masashi Kishimoto and Disney respectively.
AN: Chapter 3 is here.
I've decided to write another chapter before I continue with "A Godfather's Promise", my main priority.
Chapter song is "Nova Era" by Brazilian band Angra from their 2001 album "Rebirth". Probably the second most popular metal band from Brazil after Sepultura, and in my opinion, they're much better.
This chapter is still more building, which is part of the reason it took much longer to complete. I want to get everything placed rightly so it all builds from here on out.
Chapter III: Nova Era
"That's right… you need to stay calm while you do it – remember to concentrate!"
Naruto could barely hear the voice of Jean as he tried to concentrate on the small concrete slab in front of him, carefully lifting it and trying to place it on the pile with the rest of the other ones that were haphazardly put one over the other. The activity would be considered easy by many, especially for someone as physically adept as Naruto, if he was doing it with his hands, but he was not.
He was moving the stone slab with his mind.
"You've almost got it! Just keep it up a little more!" Jean said encouragingly.
Naruto finally managed to put the gray slab on top of the others and sighed, finally letting go of concentration. Before he knew it, he felt a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"You did great, Naruto!" exclaimed Jean as she looked over at the pile, it looked messily put together in comparison with her neatly stacked one. It should also be said the redhead managed to complete hers a long time ago.
It was also taller.
"Thank you, Jean… let's try some more!" he said with determination as he concentrated once again on another slab.
"Err… I think you should let it go Naruto – you'll get a headache!" Jean said with concern evident in her voice.
Naruto grinned and then looked over to a large open area. "Then let's get physical!"
Jean blushed a little for some reason before putting her hands up. "That's more your thing… besides, don't you have your big test tomorrow?"
"Wh-what does that have to do with anything, Jean?" Naruto asked with some nervousness, but Jean only gave him a disapproving stare.
"If you don't pass your exam tomorrow, then you're not getting into high-school. You'll turn fourteen in a few months, won't you? If you pass you'll be just a year under us. If you fail you'll have to try again next year!" warned the redhead.
Naruto sighed. "Alright… I guess I'll go ahead and hit the books," he said with a miserably tone
Jean smiled at him. "I don't want your potential to slow down. You have a lot of it, Naruto. I believe you can pass."
"Anything for you, Jean."
They both started to make their way back to the mansion, the imposing hotness of the sun marking the beginnings of summer and the end of the school season.
Naruto had taken specialized classes very similar to the ones in Konoha. Jean and Ororo had made sure that he studied hard in order to catch up to the average American citizen, finalizing in what would be a test in order to enter as a freshman in the nearby Bayville High School.
"You're doing really well by the way," said Jean, interrupting Naruto's thoughts.
Naruto looked at the smiling redhead with appreciation. "I've never really been good at school stuff Jean. I've always been a little… well, a little dumb."
Jean laughed while she shook her head. "I'm not talking about that, silly. I'm talking about your powers… although I don't think you're dumb, just… unmotivated."
"I don't know about my powers – I mean," Naruto said as he looked at both their piles, "I'm still miles behind you."
Jean gave him an assuring look before saying, "I've also had my powers for three years." She looked back at the pile of slabs as well. "You've done in three months what I did in a year, if that doesn't make your talented, then I don't know what does."
Naruto was about to speak again but Jean beat him to it first. "As for school, you're also learning at an impressive rate. Most people I know wouldn't have learned as fast as you – with a language barrier at that! Just… study hard and you'll do great tomorrow. Telepaths are supposed to be smart you know"
The blue-eyed shinobi sighed before looking at her. "Are you sure I am? The Xavier-sensei could be wrong you know. Sure, I heard voices when I first came here, but not since."
"Cerebro was right about your telekinetic abilities, wasn't it?" Sometimes it takes time to manifest," said Jean before giving him a reassuring look. "I'm sure you will get in touch with them soon… and when you do, I'll be there to help you with them."
The blonde jinchūriki smiled at the green-eyed girl. Nobody had ever complimented him like that before. Even Iruka's compliments came with a healthy tone of criticism (for his own good, of course) but having someone like Jean to believe in him the way she did made wonderful things for his confidence.
"I will try my best tomorrow Jean-chan. I'll study all night if I have to!" he said before running over to the mansion... across a small lake and started to walk above it. His chakra control was getting back to normal now, but it was still a little off compared to what it'd been before, a few more weeks and he'd be back to normal.
Naruto heard Jean starting to walk to the lake as well, but did not take a step
Jean started to fly.
It was something she had been experimenting with for the past few weeks, using her telekinetic abilities to manipulate the gravity around herself, thus achieving flight, an ability many people dreamed of yet could only accomplish.
"You're going to have to teach me that sometime," said Naruto as he continued to walk.
"Study," Jean said sternly.
"I know, I know."
The mansion started to get even closer as they almost crossed the entire lake when Jean started to wobble slightly, letting out a small yelp as she lost control over her flight. Naruto was there on a heartbeat and caught her, taking the weight easily with the help of his chakra enhanced body.
"Ughhh!" complained Jean. "Give me a few more weeks and I'll master it completely… thank you, by the way."
"No problem." Naruto let her down as soon as they reached the shore and continued to make their way back to the mansion.
"Hey," said Jean, drawing Naruto's attention once more. "Weren't you and the Professor going to that brilliant scientist soon?"
Naruto snorted. "No. Apparently he decided he wants to go to space as soon as possible with some project he's completing."
"Oh," said Jean dryly. "Sorry Naruto… I'm sure you'll get your answers soon."
Naruto hummed in agreement but any cheer was gone from it. It had been three months since he had accepted the Professor's invitation to stay over with what he called the X-Men, a team of mutants he was hoping to form in order to reveal mutantkind to the world in a positive light, and for humanity to try their best to see that homo superior and homo sapiens could coexist together peacefully.
Naruto could identify, after all, he himself had been born with something he never asked for. Still, the jinchūriki had never mustered the courage to tell them about his tenant. A hidden part of Naruto did not want to get rejected by them.
Even if they were all rejects themselves.
"Well, Jean. I'm going to –"
"Study," she said with a no-nonsense tone.
"Study." There was a tone of absolute finality.
"Ah… fine… you win," Naruto said in a dejected tone before walking over to his room and shutting the door in resignation.
The spiky-haired blonde had spent some time decorating his new abode well. He had to admit to it being better than his apartment back at the village. Pictures now adorned the room, showing Naruto's budding friendships with the X-Men, Jean and Ororo were mostly prominent in these but there were some with the Professor and even Scott.
Naruto's bed was also far more comfortable than his old one, and the green paint on the walls was maintained much better. The one decorations he had been adamant in recreating was the symbol of Konoha displayed in a banner atop the bed.
Sighing, he plopped down on his desk and looked over at the small mountain of textbooks that he was almost expected to memorize for tomorrow. They included subjects from mathematics, to biology, chemistry, and physics, along with English literature, history, and civics.
Having to learn such a different version of events and the consequences that birthed the politics of the nation he was soon to be citizen of. It didn't mean that this world's history was stale by any word of the imagination, only that it was incredibly vast and confusing at times.
The jinchūriki groaned before picking the book on math and opening it.
To be fair, Naruto had been getting better when it came to education that he had been at the Academy. Jean hadn't been kidding when she said that the blonde was getting a lot better every day.
It was still too much, far too much for a hyperactive shinobi who wanted nothing more than to continue training his powers. It was also too much for a normal person, since Naruto's been having to learn the new subjects all the time, along with things he didn't even know as humanly possible back in village.
"Argh! This is hopeless!" complained Naruto while slumping down on his chair before crossing his fingers and molding some chakra. "Need some energy."
A clone appeared besides him. "See what you raid from the fridge," Naruto ordered the perfect replica of himself.
Naruto would have gone himself like he usually did but the amount of work that needed to be done by tomorrow was staggering, thus he took the easy way out and made the clone do it instead.
But this decision lead to a mass discovery that Naruto never bothered to try out.
"Alright then… sine, cosine, cosecant…" he started to trail off until the door opened, revealing the clone who was bringing back a giant sandwich. The clone put the meal down on the desk and promptly dispelled.
That's when Naruto felt it, the feeling of memories flooding back to him clearly. In just a few moments he remembered going down to the kitchen and trying to prepare the sandwich. Ororo had walked in and after looking at him, helped to create the meal. Then the jinchūriki remembered walking back to his room and setting it down.
"What the hell?!" Naruto exclaimed as he seemingly absorbed all of his clone's memories. "What was that?!"
Confused, he summoned another clone again, watching as the poof of smoke once again revealed the perfect replica of the blonde shinobi.
"Go outside the mansion, then dispel yourself," ordered Naruto, watching as the clone nodded and jumped out the window and made ran towards the gate.
Naruto went back to the desk and waited impatiently until he finally felt it again. The clone's memories were quickly added to his own, as if they had been the very exact person. How had he never noticed such a thing before? Had nobody deigned it important to inform him of such a valuable feature of the Shadow Clone jutsu?
"This is amazing!" said Naruto, thinking about the various possibilities that such an amazing discovery.
The excited blonde then looked at the big pile of books and notes he needed to memorize for tomorrow and got an idea.
A terrible, wonderful idea.
"I cannot believe it," came the surprised voice of Logan as he looked over at Naruto's results.
Naruto grinned smugly. "Believe it! There's a new genius in the house."
"There must be something wrong here," continued Logan, at the side was Scott Summers seemed to agree.
"Certified genius! Kneel before my towering intellect, dum dums."
"There's just no way you managed to get near perfect scores when you were still struggling with English just a month ago," said Scott. "Did you cheat? You could get into big trouble for that."
Naruto frowned at the bespectacled boy. "I didn't cheat! How could I have done it, exactly?"
The Professor decided to intervene before there were any further discussions. "In any case, congratulations are in order, Naruto."
Jean agreed with a smile. "You did great, Naruto! I'm so proud of you!"
Naruto smiled at the redhead. Jean always informed him of the importance of education in this world. It was not like the shinobi system where you could barely graduate and then go on to become largely successful just as a shinobi. In this world, you could go on to further education through high school, and then choose a profession by going to college.
Jean Grey was constantly adamant of going to college one day, hence her extreme focus on studying and getting the best grades.
"Good job Naruto," said Ororo with a rare smile. "With these grades, you won't need to worry about getting into Bayville. Just keep up your grades and you could go to a very good college."
"We should celebrate!" Jean suggested enthusiastically.
"Got things to do," said Logan before walking out of the room.
Professor Xavier looked at Naruto with a regretful look. "I'm sorry as well but I must keep on the lookout for new mutants. I must do my best to keep them hidden from the world." Then he led his chair outside as well.
Scott simply walked out with the words "Got to train."
Only Naruto, Jean, and Ororo remained in the room in the end. The redheaded telepath looked just a little bit angry as the door closed
"Ugh – why do I even bother?" she said before looking at Ororo. "Can I count on you then, Ororo?"
Ororo smiled at the pair once again. "Of course, I will."
"Ehh… can we do it tomorrow?" said Naruto, interrupting both of them. "I've been awake the past two days."
It was true, he hadn't slept in quite some time and the energy that Naruto usually had in droves was sapping quickly now that he had delivered the great news to the rest of the mansion. Tiredness started to seep into him, slowly but surely.
"Oh… sorry, Naruto." To her credit, Jean looked sheepish. "I guess I was making plans without thinking about you – sorry! Let's celebrate tomorrow then."
Naruto nodded with a smile and promptly started to drag himself to his room upstairs. It was strange, the blonde had never felt this completely exhausted before without going through extreme physical strain, such as the training he did back on Wave or when he rode Gamabunta during the entire day.
The strain seemed to be more mental than anything. The jinchūriki's head was pounding and his eyes were bleary until he finally plopped down on the comfortable bed to try and hibernate the exhaustion away.
He was instead met with the sight of a sewer… a dark and extremely familiar sewer.
So familiar that Naruto did not need to walk too far before he was met with what he was dreading to see – immense metal bars that may seemed to go on for at least a hundred meters guarded what at first seemed to be darkness.
At least until a pair of huge, angry red eyes appeared from the empty blackness and the body of the giant nine-tailed fox soon followed.
Naruto waited for the Kyūbi to once again try and kill him like their first encounter. Activating his Sharingan, he managed to step back quickly in order to avoid the massive claws that threatened to cut him in half.
"You… spawn of Madara!" snarled Kyūbi. "You dare come before me with those wretched eyes?!"
"Madara?" Naruto asked, confused. "Who the hell is this Madara, furball?" He remembered the name from several of Iruka's classes he barely paid attention to but forgot who exactly that person was.
"To think that I would be stuck with you!" roared Kyūbi, seemingly ignoring his question. "Not only have I felt Hashirama's detestable chakra in you and Kushina, but now you also dare to show that bastard's putrid eyes as well!"
Hashirama. That was a name Naruto did know about. Even a knucklehead like him remembered the name of the legendary Shodaime Hokage, Senju Hashirama, the most powerful of them all. But who was this Kushina? That was a name the jinchūriki was certain he had never even heard in classes or in any conversation.
"What are you talking about, you damn fox?!" yelled Naruto. "Madara, Kushina. Who are these people?! And what do you mean about Hashirama's chakra?!"
"You've really done it now, you damn brat!" Kyūbi continued to roar. "I thought you couldn't us into more trouble than before but look at us now! Galaxies away from home and no way back! I've met some imbeciles in my time – but you! You are quite something else, you bloody Uchiha!"
"Uchiha?!" Naruto yelled indignantly. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto! U – zu – ma – ki!"
"Not with those damned eyes, you're not!" countered the nine-tailed fox.
"It doesn't mean I'm an Uchiha!" replied Naruto, getting increasingly annoyed at the angrier than usual Bijū.
"Shut it, brat!" growled Kyūbi. "I don't want to hear anything from a descendant of Uchiha Madara!"
"You shut it, fuzzball!"
"Enough!" came a commanding voice that appeared to drown even the mighty tailed beast.
Naruto started to look over for the source of the interruption, seeing absolutely nothing in the darkness that surrounded them at first.
Then, two bright lights started to appear. They were a deep purple in color and seemed to be getting clearer, more pronounced, until concentric rings started to form around the orbs. Looking at them more closely as time went by, Naruto realized that what he was seeing was a pair of really weird eyes.
"Still too young, far younger than I was when I started to fight."
The voice was even louder for Naruto, yet it wasn't because he was hearing it with his ears. He was hearing it with his mind.
"I see," continued the voice in Naruto's head, "so you do have the same gifts I had in your age."
"Gifts?" asked Naruto through his mind.
"Yes… gifts," the voice said. "The people that took you in call it mutation. Genetics are quite the foundry of mysteries, even to such meticulously scientifically oriented population such as the one you currently inhabit. It seems that even the streams of time have not been sufficient to adequately resolve the myriad of quandaries regarding our ancestors."
"What?!" asked Naruto in confusion. "Speak normally!"
"Dialectics is another consequence of the interminable flow of the ages. My apologies if my discernible verbiage seems ambiguous to your comprehension, but it is the meaning of the words that I hope to instill into you, young Naruto."
"Cut your speech down, old man!" Naruto said in exasperation. "Who are you and what do you want? Is my mind some sort of meeting place for weirdos?!"
"I see you have not been properly educated as to my identity. I was under the presumptuous impression that your world would still remember the iconic appearance of my eyes," the voice said with only a tad hint of annoyance.
Naruto calmed down slightly as he tried to quickly identify the two eyes that were seemingly floating in front of him. The blonde quickly remembered the fateful day that he travelled across space and arrived on planet Earth. The pair of purple, ringed eyes were the same as the ones the jinchūriki had seen then.
"You… you were there that time? Who are you?" Naruto asked.
"Not yet, young Naruto. You have been training your body well, but further communication would necessitate the conditioning of your mind."
Naruto looked annoyed. "Is that your way of saying I'm stupid?"
"Mayhaps…" said the voice. "I will reveal myself to you again when you're appropriately qualified for further mental correspondence. Train with the man you call Xavier, and with the redheaded female you seem to have affection for. Now… rest well, my young descendant."
"Affection? Jean? Descen – what!" But Naruto knew nothing more of the ancient and commanding voice.
He did start to hear another voice though. "Naruto? Naruto? Wake up, Naruto!"
"Huh… what… what? I'm awake. I'm awake," the blonde murmured as the fogginess on his vision began to clear in order to reveal Jean Grey, standing over his bed, concern written all over her features.
The redhead had seemingly gotten up in the night and given her heavy, had more than likely made a beeline over to Naruto's bedroom in order to see what had disturbed her sleep. However, even in this state, her emerald eyes shined with worry and the vibrant red hair looked as soft as it had ever been.
Did he ever mention how pretty Jean was? Because Jean was really pretty.
"I'm alright… just… I had a really confusing dream." He took a sitting position on the bed.
Jean looked unconvinced however. "Naruto… I think you just had a psychic communication, a very strong one from the looks of it. It was so strong that it woke me from my sleep." Her voice grew more concerned when she said, "And if it woke me from my sleep, I think the Professor will want to have a talk with you tomorrow."
Naruto sighed. "I was getting worried that the Professor might be correct," he said while looking at Jean. "So… I really am like the two of you."
Jean giggled. "Aww… c'mon, it… isn't too bad," she said jokingly before adopting a more serious tone. "If… if you have any problems with it," she looked at him intently, "I'll be there to help you, Naruto."
Naruto briefly remembered what the voice in the dream had said about the Professor and Jean. It was true. This particular skill was not something that he would develop easily without guidance, and it could lead to him harming others. There was no other choice, he would need to go towards the Professor for help with his powers.
"Anyways," Jean interrupted. "Don't worry about it too much. Remember, tomorrow is your celebration day! I'm sure we can delay your training for a bit."
Naruto smiled slightly. "Very well… and Jean?"
The redhead smiled at him, the action seemed to radiate across the darkened room. "You're welcome, Naruto. Good night!"
Naruto's heart seemed to thump a little faster as she started to close the door, never breaking eye contact with the redhead.
Every day it seemed that it was getting easier to control the clones and the newfound ability Naruto had discovered nearly by mistake. Even now as Ororo managed to dispel one replica of himself after another, the blonde managed to see things, observations, movements, flaws in the dark-skinned woman's movements.
The ability to learn small movements was enhanced even more by the eyes that Naruto had gained when he arrived – the Sharingan. Just like when he battled against Sasuke, the blonde's eyesight was clearer than any other time he had ever experienced. Almost every small movement that Ororo made could be closely calculated by the blonde.
'Very well then, she seems to be concentrated on that little batch of them over there. Makes it easier for me to sneak up behind her.'
Before he could go on with his plans, Ororo stopped throwing lightning in order to concentrate fully. She shut her bright white eyes and the world seemed to go still as rays of thunder raged across the field, destroying all his clones.
Ororo smiled. "Don't let overconfidence be your downfall. I have more power than you think."
Naruto chuckled. "I can see that. I doubt you have reached the limits that your powers can accomplish."
"I will say the same about you," responded Ororo.
"And here I thought you two would be getting ready," interrupted a disapproving voice.
Naruto turned around to see an annoyed Jean walking over to them. "I thought we agreed to celebrate today, Naruto?" she continued.
Said blonde had the decency to look sheepish. "Sorry Jean, Ororo here offered to help me train for a bit. I thought you would want a little bit more sleeping time after finals week."
"I'm not lazy! And you were the one who was tired!"
Naruto raised his hands in a pacifying manner. "I didn't mean anything by it!"
Jean huffed. "Scott still isn't coming with us, so I it will be only the three of us."
"I will try and make my presence as pleasurable as possible," assured Ororo.
"I know you will… and you too Naruto. Now – you two better get cleaned up, I'll wait for you."
Naruto and Ororo promptly left the training grounds in order to get changed for another day at the giant city. The blonde opted for a simple orange colored shirt and jeans. The white-haired girl, however, dressed a little more freely, with an almost plunging neckline.
'I wonder why she then chooses for her outfit to be more revealing?'
They once again decided to take the taxi, being that they did not have anyone that could drive them over to the subway station. Jean was looking forward to starting driving lessons next year, and Ororo had mentioned that she personally did not like vehicles.
Jean mentioned that he should be the one in the front seat this time. "Maybe that way you will like cars a little better," she had said before lowering her voice and whispering, "I already lost that battle with Ororo."
The slight yet visible panic as Ororo sat down in the cab once again confirmed that she was not very comfortable with closed spaces. It was an observation that Naruto had seen about her yet had not dared to pry.
Interacting with Jean during the past months had given him a little bit of tact that he didn't have before.
"So, Naruto," said Jean as she took her spot in next Ororo. "Where do you want to eat now?"
Naruto mulled over the question. If this had been Konoha, then the answer would have obviously been ramen – the food that the gods had deigned to bestow upon mankind – but New York City boasted a wide selection of cuisines that Naruto was not yet familiar with.
"Hmm… I don't know," said Naruto. "What do you girls want?"
"I'll be satisfied with anything you wish," responded Ororo calmly.
"Well," said Jean. "It is our celebration so I heard of a little Italian bistro that's supposedly pretty good. Might have to show up to get a reservation first though."
"Alright!" said Naruto. Food from Italy was especially delicious, he had found out.
He took a brief look at both Ororo and Jean. It had been a very different experience from Konoha, being friends with both girls. Back in the village, the closest thing Naruto had that resembled a female friend was Sakura, and the pinkette did not treat him as nice as the two young mutants.
"By the way – sorry to bring this up now – but since we are going to town, I decided to meet an acquaintance as well," said Jean.
"You invited friends from Bayville?" asked Naruto.
"Err – I don't know if I would call her friend. She's recently entered college and I've been meaning to ask her about her career and the school she goes to."
"It will be nice to meet new people," said Ororo.
"She's really bright. Top marks and all, she skipped a whole year in high school to qualify."
"What's her name?" asked Naruto, admittedly a little curious about meeting what seemed to be an older woman.
"Storm." Naruto and Ororo looked over at Jean in confusion. "Susan Storm," Jean corrected. "Her name's Susan Storm."
The cab stopped over at the outskirts of the city, where the subway system started. Being that New York was huge, it would be far less of a hassle – and less expensive – to instead use the railways to move from several points in the city in rapid succession.
The city itself was packed as always, and Naruto was already familiar enough with it that he knew this was a relatively calm period of the day. During rush hour, even the sidewalks were completely packed to its limits.
"It would be far easier if we could just go there with our powers," grumbled Naruto, drawing a disapproving look from Jean.
"You know we cannot," Jean reprimanded. "Not until we're ready, at least."
"I know… but still…"
"Let's go." Jean looked over to her cellphone. "Susan's telling me that she's in Central Park. I say we get our reservations and then go pick her up."
The bistro that Jean talked about was indeed full – as everything was in the big city – their table was reserved, but they would have to wait for an hour until their table was ready. Smelling the trails of Italian food that wafted from the kitchen, Naruto's stomach was already grumbling in anticipation.
Jean accepted for the rest of them and they promptly left the restaurant in Little Italy and headed towards the large park that was situated in the middle of Manhattan. It was less crowded than before, thankfully and Naruto could appreciate the visage of trees far better than the last time Jean and Ororo had taken him.
"You always seem happy when you're around trees," commented Ororo.
"They… almost remind me of home." The trees he had seen were nothing compared to the size of those in the vast forests of the Hi no Kuni, but they indeed seemed to be a reminder.
Naruto didn't even realize until that moment how much he missed the trees.
"I do have my own appreciation for nature," said Ororo. "You never told me that you had a little fascination with it."
"It's one of my hobbies. I had a few plants back at home. The old man Hokage and Iruka-sensei gave them to me in order to try and instill some sense of responsibility and patience." Naruto briefly remembered the Third Hokage and his Academy sensei with some sadness. "I think the Hokage was expecting something else though… one time he asked me if I could feel the trees… it was strange… but recently I've been actually feeling them, somehow."
The white-haired girl smiled at him. "I'll call you over when I'm in need of an assistant for gardening. Perhaps it will offer a distraction that doesn't sparring."
"There she is!" interrupted Jean, her gaze pointing over a young blonde woman. She looking annoyed while she spoke into her cellphone.
As they made their way over to the Susan, her voice became clearer.
"Don't you dare, Johnny!" she exclaimed at the phone. "You will leave that car in the garage or I swear to god…" she let the threat hang in the air as she looked over to them. "I have to go now. If anything happens while I'm gone – I will know about it!" She ended the call.
"Sorry for intruding, Ms. Storm," Jean said diplomatically. "Jean Grey. and these are Ororo Munroe and Naruto Uzumaki."
"I'm the one whose sorry," Susan responded. "It's my little brother. I imagine you've seen Johnny over at class?"
Both girls nodded. "I believe he tried to ask me out on a date a month ago," said Ororo with a slightly annoyed voice.
"It was of little importance. I just told him I was not interested at the moment. I think his ego was more harmed than anything."
"Right..." Susan then looked over at Naruto. "Hey! You're the one that got that high score, aren't you?"
"Guilty as charged!" Naruto said proudly. The jinchūriki never thought that he would ever be congratulated because of his academic achievements, but this was a strange world he had landed on.
"You have a great future ahead of you!" continued Susan. "What area are you most interested in? Physics? Medicine? Or maybe you're more into engineering?"
"Uhh…" Naruto tried to respond.
"Oh, sorry! You're only starting high school next semester. I guess you'll figure it out in time."
Naruto nodded in affirmation but inside of him, thoughts were far away from any career that Earth might offer.
'Hokage… I will become Hokage. That's what I have always wanted, isn't it?'
Here was Naruto – in another world entirely – apparently creating a new life with new friends, while Konoha was being left behind. Returning to his village should be his main priority, and yet he was discussing the possibilities of being some scientist or doctor with three of the most beautiful girls the shinobi had ever seen.
'I can't stay here… and the closer I get to them, the harder it will be when I have to return home.'
The appeal of living here was immediately noticeable. Gone were the stares of disdain, there was not constant threat of the Akatsuki appearing from nowhere to harvest the Kyūbi's power, he was accomplished academically, he had good friends in the X-Men, and the whole world seemed open to him for countless possibilities.
Yet in the end, he knew, he had to return home to Konoha. The blonde still had unfinished business in there – the promise he had made to Sakura, his best friend joining with a mass murderer, Ero-sennin, Granny Tsunade, all his old friends were there. Not to mention his lifelong dream of becoming Hokage.
His thoughts were interrupted by a sound that were very familiar to him now. Naruto had heard them the first night he had arrived, and eventually started to hear them in several movies and TV shows.
Several people around them winced, some of them even tried to locate the origin of the cracking sound, but the thing that Naruto found completely fascinating was how they all then started to go on about their business like nothing had happened.
"Sorry about that," said Susan. She was more than likely used to seeing such events.
The same could probably not be said for Jean – who originated from a calmer hamlet in upstate New York – since she indeed looked a little disturbed at the level of crime that could be witnessed in the great city.
Ororo similarly looked uncomfortable, but for other reasons. Her demeanor was one that radiated guilt.
"Why does no-one do anything?" asked Naruto. Crime was virtually nonexistent back in Konoha, you'd have to leave over to the small villages and small countries with no shinobi force in order to find any kind of real crime.
Susan shrugged sadly. "People have just gotten used to it, I guess. Captain Stacy does what he can, but crime is still reaching new heights and there have been no suspects as to who is pulling the strings."
"Has it always been like this?"
"Well… it used to be worse back in the day, especially the thirties, but there was apparently a guy back then that used to fight them. I think he was called 'The Shadow'."
"Nice name," commented Naruto.
'"The Shadow"… it translates to "Kage" in my language. Quite ironic if he was the Kage watching over the people of New York.'
"So," interrupted Jean. "How about going to eat now? I'm starving."
The group agreed, starting the walk back to Little Italy to where the bistro was located.
It was still packed, but a table for four was reserved for them as it had been asked previously. The waitress immediately handed them a menu and asked if they wanted drinks.
Ororo asked for risotto with mushrooms while Jean settled for a Carbonara pasta. Susan just went for caprese salad. A small margherita pizza was also ordered for the center.
Naruto went all out of course, ordering a chicken parmesan, a bowl of spaghetti, and some cheese ravioli.
"You… you're really gonna finish all that?" asked Susan.
"I'm a growing boy with a fast metabolism."
"He'll finish it," said Jean mirthfully. "Believe me."
The wait for the food was long, and Jean decided to immediately start grilling Susan for information as to what she was doing.
"Well… I chose to go for biomedical engineering," said Susan. "But I'm also taking some classes on English literature – totally unrelated, I know, but I've always loved to read, and I dreamed of writing something myself in the future."
"That's amazing," said Jean. "So where are you thinking about working now? With your qualifications, you could be an intern in almost every place!"
"I… may have some plans coming up," said Susan, getting a little nervous about sharing any more information. "But maybe it's not worth it in the end…"
"What about Stark Industries?"
Susan look turned sour. "I'm sure many people admire Tony Stark, but I really don't want to work for a company that sells weapons to African and Middle-Eastern warlords, thank you very much."
"I believe you are making the correct decision," said Ororo.
"Stark Industries?" Naruto asked.
"It was started by Howard Stark, a scientist who found out that there was big money to be made by creating technologically advanced weapons and selling them to the government so they could fight in the war." Explained Susan. "But the war ended a long time ago, and they still sell weapons to the government… or whoever it is that's buying."
"So, they don't do anything aside from making weapons?"
"Well that's not entirely accurate. They do have other departments that focus on technology that's available to the public. They're not as well funded as the weapons side though."
"I thought I did see some cellphones with Stark Industries as the logo," said Naruto. "I didn't know they made weapons, though."
"Really?" asked Susan with some surprise. "I thought everyone knew about Stark Industries… especially because of Mr. Stark."
"Who's Mr. Stark?"
"Okay – now you're pulling my leg. You've never heard of Tony Stark? Billionaire extraordinaire and philandering playboy Tony Stark? I thought everyone was aware of him, especially boys your age. God knows Johnny won't stop talking about him."
"I'm… err… new in town." It was a pathetic excuse.
"Where are you from?"
Naruto gave the only answer that he could think of. "Japan."
"That's amazing," said Susan. "Though you don't look very Japanese. You do have a little accent though, now that I think about it."
"What about Oscorp?" asked Jean, giving Naruto some reprieve.
"To be honest, I may be looking to land a position in the government. The man I know is currently working with them. But who knows – maybe someday I will wish to work under a company. But it has to follow a certain moral code for me to pursue a job with them."
The food arrived just at that moment, and Naruto did indeed end up eating all of it with relative ease, much to the amazement of Susan.
He did have some self-restraint, however. Gone was the habit of scarfing down every single morsel of food that he used to have before, a few months with Ororo and Jean made sure of that. Instead, Naruto ate calmly and slowly, using the metal utensils that had been alien to him a few months ago.
The food was excellent, as he had suspected it would be. Naruto made sure to never doubt Jean when it came to the many choices of cuisine that the city had to offer.
Jean mostly continued to speak to Susan about career options and opportunities but Naruto paid little attention o it. His eyes seemed fixed to the newspaper title "The Daily Bugle" that was held by a man sitting next to them. Headlines advised against the rising crime rate of the city and warned the readers to be careful during the day.
"Thanks for the meal," said Naruto.
"Agreed, thank you very much for organizing, Jean," said Ororo.
"You're most welcome. I hope it was no bother to you Ms. Storm."
"Please, call my Sue… I'm always open to hear about other students. I hope to hear great things from all of you. Especially you, Naruto," said the blonde girl. "I think you may have a great future ahead of you."
"I'll make sure to not disappoint!"
Yet as Naruto prepared for bed that evening, he couldn't help but think about all that was happening around him.
It was a lot easier back in Konoha. All he had to worry about was to defeat the Akatsuki and become Hokage. It would an objective that was easier said than done but the plan was simple and straightforward. He was a shinobi and all life centered around that fact.
Here… here it seemed that life was tugging at him in all directions. What should he become? An X-Man? A scientist? A businessman? What about the crime he was seeing all around him? Did his powers give him the moral responsibility of intervening? To protect those who had no other protection?
It was all so confusing. When he returned to Konoha, it would all be simpler then.
At least that's what he told himself in order to finally be able to pass the night.
"That's enough," came the voice of the Professor. Naruto used is as an anchor to leave the utterly confusing state of mind he was lost in. Slowly, Charles Xavier's office came into sight, and the blonde shinobi found himself seating once again in familiar territory.
"What happened? I didn't feel like I did anything," Naruto said in confusion.
The Professor opened his eyes. "We were getting too far into dangerous territory."
Naruto nodded. It was his very first session with the Professor. A month had passes since the blonde had met the strange entity with the ringed eyes and the leader of the X-Men finally had taken an interest in developing his mental prowess, now that there was no doubt about the abilities of his mind.
It was… hard. Harder than anything Naruto had ever done before. The abilities of the mind where something that were almost beyond comprehension at first when the Professor had laid out the theory.
"The mind is more complicated than anything in our being, Naruto. It's completely normal for it to be confusing." That's what the professor had said. Naruto chose to confide in him for the moment.
"Can we try again? I think I may be getting the hang of it."
"Another time, perhaps. The mind needs rest just like any muscle, and it has been strained far too much for your first session."
"Okay… how about if I try it with Jean sometime?"
The Professor gave a stern look. "I would advise against it. Both you and Jean are still young telepaths, and despite her being more advanced than you, I believe that an attempt that goes wrong could seriously harm you."
"But – "
"Believe me, Naruto," warned Xavier. "This ability is something that should not be tread with lightly. It is a power that far defies anything you may ever do. There are little things that are more important than the strength of the mind. Any other feat you do will pale in comparison when you learn to unlock the keys to your subconscious. Until then, you must learn to practice restraint."
"This is not only a rule I have made for you. Jean also has these indications so that she can't harm others or herself," said the Professor. "I will see you in three days for the next session. Make sure to do the exercises I specified and read those texts. I will test you on them later."
"Very well, professor." Naruto stood up to leave the office. "Thank you for helping me."
"My door is always open," said the Professor.
Naruto was about to exit when he heard the professor say one last thing.
"Naruto, I must inform you that Logan is waiting for you in the basement. He has another type of training waiting for you."
Confused, Naruto searched for the elevator that lead him downstairs to the secret area below the mansion. The shinobi had heard that this is where Cerebro was stored.
Logan was waiting for him at the entrance, as he had been told he would.
"Hey there, brat," said the older man.
"Hey there, grandpa."
"Don't push your luck." He started to walk down a hallway, indicating for Naruto to follow. "It's time to intensify your training to the next level. You're gonna be dealing with a lot more down here than in the outside training areas."
"What makes this place so special?"
"Wait and see. You need to get changed to your outfit first," said Logan, handing him some clothes that were similar to the ones he had seen Jean and Scott wear when they were training.
"There's the changing room," ordered Logan.
Naruto thought that the outfit was certainly elaborate. Tough enough to withstand damage and yet flexible enough to allow for easy movement. Once he put them on, he left the room and went back outside to see Logan, who started to walk through the hallway without saying a word.
Eventually, there was large door that was larger than the other ones. The metal frame signified that it would be opened electronically and sure enough, Logan entered a code so that the massive entrance could be revealed.
"Get inside and wait for my instructions."
Naruto did as he was told and entered the room that was soon illuminated, revealing an utterly bizarre open space that was circular in shape, surrounded lights. Other than that, it was completely empty.
"Welcome to the Danger Room, brat," the gruff voice of Logan emanated from some kind of speakers. "I hope for your sake that you're ready for it."
"Doesn't look very dangerous to me, old man," Naruto said sarcastically.
"It will soon enough. Let's start with some dodging… see how many of them you can take."
An odd contraption with a dangerous looking barrel emerged from the center of the room and immediately set its sights on Naruto.
"We'll start with one. I sure hope you don't give up yet."
The cannon started to charge itself with an audible sound, its tip glowing red. The weapon then fired the crimson ray of energy towards him, similar to Scott's own optical blasts.
Naruto dodged it quickly without any trouble, finding it to be slower than some of the kunai and shuriken that had been thrown at him back in the academy.
"Still not seeing the big fuzz around this place, old man. This is pretty easy," Naruto mocked.
"Famous last words, brat."
Immediately, four other cannons emerged from several points in the room, all of them pointing their cannons towards the jinchūriki.
"Alright!" yelled Naruto as he activated his Sharingan. "Now we're talking!"
So passed the rest of the day. Every time Naruto looked like he was breezing through the cannons, Logan added a few more to increase the intensity of the program. By the end of the exercise, there were over twenty cannons shooting at him consecutively. None of them found their mark.
"That's enough, brat. Come over here to the control terminal."
The jinchūriki deactivated the Sharingan. Red eyes returning to their normal blue as he exited the room and went over to where Logan was situated.
Inside, he was surprised to see that Jean, Scott, and Ororo were alongside the older mutant.
"You performed most admirably, Naruto," said Ororo with a pretty smile. "I don't think even Logan has such an athletic ability."
Logan snorted. "It'll take much more than that to hit me."
"No time for that!" came the unusually grave voice of Jean.
The redhead walked over to him, shoving a newspaper into his hands. "Read this!"
Naruto looked over at the copy of the Daily Bugle, trying to see what Jean was indicating. As always, the pages seemed to be propagating fear about the rising crime rates, but such an occurrence was almost normal by this point.
"I don't see anything, Jean."
"Fifth page," she commanded.
Naruto turned the page in order to see the headline.
"Rogue Spacecraft Launches from California Airfield!"
Naruto skimmed over the article until a name punched him immediately. Reed Richards.
"So he did go to space after all," said Logan. "I didn't think he would go about it illegally though. God knows how many accidents can happen over there."
"Not that! Read the end of the page!" urged Jean.
The shinobi read the last few paragraphs, detailing how Reed Richards had not been alone in his quest to space. Indeed, the article talked about how a military friend of Dr. Richards, Benjamin Grimm had accompanied him to space.
But that was not all the article had to offer. Indeed, within the last paragraphs, two more names were revealed that Naruto knew very well. They were siblings, barely out of their teens and had accompanied Dr. Richards for some reason or another unknown the author.
Susan and Jonathan Storm.
It had been a very long time since the Sage of the Six Paths – Ōtsutsuki Hagoromo – had spoken to another individual. Least of all to his own descendant and his own… creation. Despite the reality, the Rinnegan bearer almost thought of Kurama as his own child, one of the many he fathered when he was still flesh and bone.
"It has been quite a protracted amount of years since I last managed to establish a verbal discourse with you, Kurama."
The orange nine-tailed fox had grown considerably since their last meeting. Even after his creation, Kurama and his fellow tailed beasts were extremely sizable. Now – millennia after they were given birth – the strongest of the Bijū towered above even mountains.
Still, Kurama seemed quite alarmed at the presence of Hagoromo, hairs stiffening as he opened his eyes and looked at the new figure that appeared before the giant bars that imprisoned him.
"Old man… so it was you," grumbled Kurama.
"It is, you have grown considerably."
"And you haven't changed at all."
"Neither have you, Kurama," said the Sage. "Not your demeanor at least."
Hagoromo allowed himself a small smile at seeing the mean mannered fox. The most difficult of the nine, ironic that Kurama would be sealed within the boy that was turning out to be so much like him, the last full descendant of the Ōtsutsuki bloodline.
"What are you doing here old man? Will you release me from this prison at last?"
The wizened Sage looked at Kurama seriously. "You know it is quite impossible for me to do such an action Kurama. Even if I could, it would kill your host."
The giant fox's eyes glowed in anger. "Let him die then! Like I care about that snot-nosed brat! He's brash, stupid, annoying, loud, and – "
Kurama snorted. "So, he does have your chakra. I knew that he had some of Ashura's – Kushina made sure of that – but I didn't know for sure." He then grits his teeth in absolute hatred. "But Madara's"
"How could that happen?"
"His father – Madara's son," revealed Hagoromo.
"That damned Yondaime! I would have taken even more pleasure in his death if I knew that he was Madara's bastard!"
Hagoromo closed his eyes as he pondered his most troubled son. Indra… there was so much he regretted about raising the older brother of Ashura. The inheritor of his eyes then gave birth to the Uchiha clan, who carried the same curse of loss and hatred as their progenitor.
Madara was but one of the long line of Sharingan wielders that had left their grief control their actions. With more pain and loss, more power came to them thanks to Mangekyō, and in turn their hatred grew. The Curse of Hatred, it was called. The Curse of Indra's hatred.
"If it be your desire put an indictment to someone for Indra and his descendants actions… then you only need to look back at me, Kurama."
The fox growled. "I don't know why you would say that, old man."
"It was me that rejected Indra when I should have helped him. I gave him too little and Ashura too much. Love and respect have their place in the further development of the world, but so does might and power. Picking one and ignoring the other was my biggest folly in life… one that the world suffered as a consequence of."
Kurama seemed to agree, if grudgingly. "Too much kindness and you're a spineless weakling. Too much power and you're a tyrant."
"I succeeded as a son by bringing my mother to heel. I succeeded as a sage and as a ruler when I led countless peoples towards a new future… and I failed as a father at the end, my greatest shame.
"It's a little late for sob stories, old man, but if you want to feel even more guilty, then I have another one for you… us!" yelled Kurama. "Countless ages have come and gone since you've been alive and yet instead of living with humans, we have been imprisoned – all of us! Imprisoned into these bodies!"
Kurama was right to be angry, Hagoromo knew that, perhaps he had been optimistic about the future. People feared what they could not understand. he should have known that when those without the ability to use Ninshū began to grow wary of his followers, who could create amazing feats with chakra.
"Perhaps… but I told you that one, one individual would come… I saw it in my visions," said Hagoromo. "You knew about my abilities and that I could see far beyond the events that were happening currently."
"That's an overcomplicated way of saying you could see into the future, but I get remember."
Hagoromo nodded. "Uzumaki Naruto… he has the chakra of both Ashura and Indra… my chakra."
Kurama started to laugh at the statement. "The brat? Seriously? You're comparing the brat to yourself?" His heavy chuckles got almost hysterical. "He's an idiot! To correlate both of you is an insult to your strength, old man."
"You did not know much about me in my youth, Kurama. His personality may be similar to Ashura's at first, but I have seen some parts of Indra in him – hidden, but very much present."
"He still will never rise up to your immense power, old man. I remember you creating worlds. The brat can barely take one tail of my power. If this is your successor, then I weep for our future," Kurama said mockingly.
"I see things you cannot, Kurama. I know several things… not all, but far more than most. Do not judge him for the level of power he has now. Judge him by his spirit, his character. So like Ashura and Indra and yet different from myself."
'Better than myself in some cases.'
Kurama grumbled. "I do not care about it anymore. I'm simply waiting for a time for me to get out from the brat's body and go to where nobody will bother me."
Hagoromo made a barely noticeable smile. "How would you do that, Kurama? So far from home in a world that would immediately chase after you with advanced technology?"
"Then I'll crush them!" growled Kurama.
"Have you so little care about life now? Did I not teach you better?"
Kurama merely snorted in derision.
"He will be in need of your aid during his trials in this place," said Hagoromo.
"What makes this place so special? What kind of grand plan of fate or destiny necessitated us being here?" asked Kurama, a little bit calmer than he was before. As calm as the nine-tailed fox could be at least.
"This place is different – a new world so to say, a vast new world. Gaia has been plagued by my mistakes. I fear that young Naruto would only follow in the footsteps of either Ashura or Indra," explained Hagoromo. "But here. Here he has a new place, a place that offers to trials and tribulations that will allow him to grow. To prosper without the pressure of the Akatsuki or his village. He's free in here to become what he is meant to become… for better or worse."
Kurama stayed silent for a few minutes, looking deep in thought before he finally answered. "You know I will not be so easily swayed… I am not like the others. If Uzumaki Naruto is the person you saw all those years ago… then he will need to prove it."
Hagoromo nodded, knowing that it was the best that could be expected from Kurama. It was up to young Naruto now.
It was all up to him.
AN: Hope you enjoyed the chapter. It more time than the last, but I've been also concentrating on my main fic, which is what will be updated next.
The Shadow is not a Marvel property (Hell, it's been used for crossovers more with DC than Marvel), but I just thought that it might get a mention because the only hero that's canonically been fighting since before modern times is Captain America, and he was more of a war figure.
The Shadow is more of a pulp crime fighter, though he did get some comics (especially some great ones with Batman). Don't read the new one written by Si Spurrier, however. It's absolute trash that is completely unfaithful to the original character.
As it is being hinted, the Marvel Universe itself is only just beginning. Tony Stark is still selling weapons, The Fantastic 4 just getting their powers, Spider-Man is still not in the scene. Dr. Strange does have his powers, but they've only been acquired recently.
Finally, some bad news, unfortunately. If you didn't know, Steve Ditko – the original artist for Spider-Man and the creator of his iconic look – passed away recently. Next to Jack Kirby and John Romita Sr. (the man who went to illustrate Spider-Man after Ditko left), he was probably the most influential artist in Marvel's history, being the man responsible not only for Spider-Man's look, but also Dr. Strange. If you're libertarian leaning like myself however, you will find his independent work such as "Mr. A" quite fascinating. He also worked on Charlton Comics, that would be incorporated to DC in the 80's, meaning he also did some great work for DC.
He was apparently still drawing until he passed away a couple of weeks ago at the age of 90. A sad day for comic book aficionados. One of the best artists to of have ever lived and a master in his field. His influence spread towards other known authors such as Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore. A great titan of the industry has passed from this world and into legend.
Rest in Peace, Steve Ditko.
If you have any questions, leave a review send a PM, or contact me on Discord, where I'm far more active.
If you like the story, leave a review to leave your suggestions. I'm always willing to listen to constructive criticism.
Until next time.
The Metal Sage.