As Naruto plowed the field his team had been assigned for the day his mind returned once again to that house and that long hallway of doors. Back to the sword and scroll. Back to that man of yellow and woman of red. He was sure it meant something, that it had something to do with him. But in the end, Naruto failed to understand what it all meant. Kakashi for his part seemed to only eye him with a passing glance while the others on his team acted like he didn't even exist. The work was hard and it was made all the harder due to the fact the old man seeming to make it a point to target him specifically. Names he had heard all his life flew at him like a kunai blade and ninja stars. But he paid the man no mind as he plowed the field and in time the job was done and the payments were handed out. His with a bit more force than was really necessary. Still, a stinging hand was better than a beating but that didn't mean he liked it. Not by a longshot.
"Ok, that will be all for now. I'll see you three tomorrow for the next round of missions". Kakashi said before jumping into the treetops and disappearing into the canopy. Sasuke and Sakura passed him without a word. Shoving his hands into his pant's pockets he walked home. Mothers and fathers pulled their children away when he came close while shopkeepers eyed his every move. Even as a ninja of the village he was viewed more like an outsider. The iron gates soon appearing off in the distance. Today he seemed to luck out. The two men standing at either side of the gates liked him. Will, maybe like was too strong a word, they tolerated his existence and while not the nicest didn't attack him or call him a demon. They simply opened the gates and let him inside. Falling onto his bed his last thought was of that house, of that hallway of doors, and of course of that scroll.
Meanwhile, in a place detached from time and space, two ninja walked side-by-side, their hands interlocked as they did so.
"Minato-kun are you sure this was right...that we did the right thing for Naruto-kun"? The woman of red asked. Her long blood-red hair flowed down her back like a crimson waterfall.
"Come now, Kushina-chan what could possibly go wrong my orders were clear. He's likely being trained by the best the village has". Minato said with a big goofy grin on his tanned face. Kushina, however, seemed unsure like some unknown force was telling her he was wrong. The feeling made her uncomfortable and she wanted nothing more than to be rid of it. The fox had left them the other day saying only that their son was well and that he was happy. However, she knew he was keeping something from them. A motherly instinct but he had left before she could utter even a sound. Soon after that, his power seemed to disappear into the ether.
Faster you need to go faster"! Chōza yelled as he sent yet another attack his way. Naruto rolled to the side and fired a handful of ninja stars and kunai blades. In response, a wall of hardened earth soon formed around the sizeable man making the attack fail.
"Better but still far too predictable. By the way, how goes your training with that clone jutsu"? Chōza asked. Naruto for his part looked downward in an obvious display of disappointment at his skills.
"Slow. Ino says I'm trying too hard and that I should let it flow through me". Naruto said arms crossed. Chōza could only nod his head.
"She's not wrong Naruto-kun. A river doesn't reshape the landscape all at once but by time. Slowly over many long years. You must allow it to flow like a river. It'll happen if you allow it". Chōza said sounding like a wise old sage. That image, of course, fell apart upon his eating of a party-sized bag of potato chips. Shikaku and Inoichi stood off to one side their eyes on Naruto.
"Has he said anything"? Shikaku asked.
"No, he hasn't said a word about what he saw besides a house and a long hallway of doors". Inoichi said. He was sure he was keeping something out of his reports but it seemed he wasn't ready to say what it was. As a ninja, he wanted to pry, to know what exactly he had seen but in the end, he was sure Naruto would tell him in time, until then however he would wait.
"Your up Shikaku". Inoichi said before pushing the man forward. The man, in turn, used a hand sign, one that wasn't in the handbook. He, in turn, returned it in a playful manner. For the rest of the day the four trained. The sounds of kunai clashing and laughter filled the air as well as the occasional yelp of pain.
Days later Naruto, Kakashi, Sasuke, and Sakura stood before the Hokage. The Hokage eyed the boys in particular. His eyes bore a characteristic unseen by Naruto. This was the look of a kage. This was the god of shinobi. Kakashi at once went ramrod straight.
"Now would one of you two like to tell me why Naruto-kun's clothing is singed"? The Hokage asked.
"He attacked me when my back was turned"! Naruto yelled out with rage eyeing his only other male teammate.
"Lier don't try pinning this on me you fucking demon". Sasuke replied in kind. At once Hiruzen slammed his fist upon the desk his eyes filled with rage.
"You will not speak in that manner ever again in this office...am I clear"? Hiruzen asked. When the boy didn't answer he asked again.
"AM I Clear, Boy"? Again Sasuke didn't answer. Soon two ANBU dropped down and pinned him to the floor. Sasuke tried to free himself but of course, he couldn't move an inch.
"Sasuke Uchiha you are hereby suspended for no less than six days. Your payment for today's missions are hereby rescinded. Naruto will now receive it". Hiruzen said before the boy was removed from the office. Sakura was also dismissed. Now it was just Hiruzen, Kakashi, and of course Naruto.
"Now why are you not burned"? Hiruzen asked.
"I don't know, sir I turned in time to see the attack...next thing I knew I was on the ground". Naruto answered. He could tell right away the two men had a few ideas.
"Did you have your left eye uncovered"? The Hokage asked.
"Yes, I did as I do with all my training. I cover it up otherwise, sir". Naruto said. At once the two began speaking in hushed tones.
"Thank you Naruto-kun you may go now". Hiruzen said and with a bow, he was gone. In seconds the Hokage turned to face Kakashi his face unreadable but he knew an order was forthcoming.
"Kakashi I have a mission for you". The Hokage said a mission scroll fitted with a black ribbon already being pulled out and written upon. Kakashi, in turn, could only eye the Hokage.
"You sure, sir"? Kakashi asked.
"We have no other choice. He must be recalled with the utmost haste.
"But, sir he hasn't been..." Kakashi began but the Hokage put a stop to it.
"Find him Kakashi that's an order". The Hokage said and with a slow bow of his own, he to soon departed from the office of the Hokage. Kakashi looked down at the black-colored ribbon and couldn't help but feel a lump in his throat. He was being ordered to find the seal master. If a god walked the earth he was it. He was the only ninja with a Bingo book rating higher than his own sensei. His entry being an impressive SSS.
Kakashi forced himself slowly forward. The ice-cold wind and snow made the slow trek upwards next to impossible. Many a time he had feared he would just walk off the side of the small pathway that hugged the side of one of the biggest mountains in all of the Land Of Stone. Kakashi was happy to say his mission would soon be coming to an end and he would be lying if he said he at all enjoyed it. He had been hunting this man down for weeks and now at long last, he had him. After entering most of the elemental kingdoms, and after hunting down every last bit of information on his movements over the past 13 years that he could find he was now only a few mere feet away. Pounding upon the wooden door of the hut he waited.
"What is it"? A deep, powerful voice asked from behind the door.
"Hello, my name is Kakashi Hatake. I'm from the leaf. I'm on orders to recall you, sir". Kakashi answered. For a time no sound was made inside the small hut. Seconds later, however, the sounds of many locks being moved filled the air and soon afterward the door opened. Standing before the masked ninja was a man with yellow-colored hair and the bluest of blue eyes. A sword lay on his hip and a scroll in his hand. One look upon the man and one would need to be a fool to not guess who he was. How he lived in the Land Of Stone of all places was something he would have to ask him later, should he of course come. Kakashi was a skilled ninja, his years as both an ANBU as well as a captain in the force was proof of that fact but one thing he wasn't was stupid. Fighting this man was a good way to die.
"On orders, you say...well too bad. I'm not a-goin". The man said before he began to close the door. When the door was more than halfway closed Kakashi yelled out.
"But, sir you must...". Kakashi began before the man was upon him in a flash of movement and took hold of him and pinned him to the wall of the hut.
"Never dare tell me what to do, boy. Better men then you have and failed. Go home...I have no need to return". The man said before Kakashi was tossed aside like a day-old paper.
"But, sir it's your son you see...the matter has something to do with your son". Kakashi said eyeing the man before him with a bit of fear in his lone eye.
"Do go on". The man ordered. His hand upon his sword. He, however, seemed unwilling to draw upon it just yet, of that fact he was truly grateful. He knew he had no real hope facing the seal master and the father of the fourth Hokage. To a man such as he, he was but a lowly Genin. The sword that lay upon his hip was more for show than for anything else. It looked new as if it had never once seen a battle, which in retrospect it likely didn't.
"The fox attacked the village 13 years ago...this is known but what nobody, not even the villagers, in fact, know is he bore a son. A son that needs you". Kakashi answered before the man's eyes filled with a seemingly unending rage.
"You lie. My son had nobody. He never took a wife". The man yelled his sword drawn.
"No, sir I'm not lying. His name is Naruto and he needs you now. Look here, sir this is he". Kakashi said before pulling out a photo showing him enjoying a slice of pizza.
"Took after his father it seems. He's never lost a game of Go yet". Kakashi said as if he had a part in that fact. He, of course, didn't and he knew that. The man eyed the photo before looking at the masked ninja.
"How is he? Is he looked after"? The man asked tears forming in his eyes. All this time he had a grandson, a grandson who he never knew until a minute ago. He needed to right this wrong here and now.
"Yes, sir he's fine now. He's very happy". Kakashi said.
"Now...he wasn't before"? The man asked his eyes turning back to the masked ninja. Kakashi, in turn, took a few steps back.
"Um...no, sir not really. He was taken in by Inoichi close to a year now. Before that, however, he was mostly alone". Kakashi answered with great sadness.
"And you did nothing...you trained under my son and not even you saw fit to take him in". The man said in a rage. The man almost seemed ready to pull out his sword again and coat it with his blood. But it seemed he wanted answers more than he wanted blood. Kakashi took that as a way to save himself from the man's rage.
"I was but a boy myself, sir, and in no state to look after a baby. But I oversaw his life and saved him many times". Kakashi answered looking every bit as upset as the man before him looked enraged.
"Saved his life...why by sage would he ever need saving? He's the son of a Hokage. He is my... The man stopped himself dead. He had no right to that name...not yet. Soon maybe he would but not now. Now he was but a man. A man who had no right to be called anything but Miniko Namikaze. Father of the fourth Hokage: Minato Namikaze and grandfather to Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze.
"The fox, sir that and foolish villagers who know no better". Kakashi said. He too wanted to kill them for what they had done to his beloved sensei's son but he was a ninja of the leaf and killing the very people you were meant to keep safe seemed like failing at that mission. He, of course, wouldn't have cared but the higher-ups sure as log would and he would have to answer for why more 80% of the village was now dead. The man eyed the photo again.
"He looks so much like my Minato-kun". He said. The anger was now being replaced by a great sadness. He had lost 13 years of his life. 13 years he could have been with his grandson, with the last real family he still had in this dark world.
"And you, sir". Kakashi said making the greatest seal master to ever live to eye him yet again. Only this time it was a need to know why he had said that.
"What"? He asked.
"He has your eyes. His eyes are the bluest eyes I have ever seen. I dare say he may have you beat". Kakashi said before turning back and walking down the hill. The seal master soon falling into line.
"Do tell me more of my grandson". He asked and soon he and Kakashi were talking all the way down and back to the leaf. By the time the two could see the two massive wooden gates of the village the two were the very best of friends.
In the days that followed Naruto and his grandfather whom he knew only as Miniko-sensei worked hard to master the archaic art of seals. A task that was both slow and hard and to use a phrase of one of his few friends troublesome.
"Again". Miniko said as he stood over Naruto as he formed a level one seal. A sizeable pile of books lay upon a table. Some were open while others held bits of colored paper for later use. Naruto for his part at once replaced the now useless parchment with yet another. His quill was soon dipped inside the cup of ink and seconds later it was moving ever so slowly over the paper as he renewed his work. If he was proud of one thing it was his handwriting. It was neater and even which was a far cry from what it was only a few weeks back which was little better than chicken scratch.
"Good... you're doing much better gra...". Miniko stopped cold. His eyes widened in fear as he looked at Naruto who it seemed had missed the near mistake. For the rest of that day he was ever mindful of what he said lest he allow Naruto to know who he was. The mere thought made his heart thump against his chest painfully. No, for now, it was better he be just sensei. He had 13 years to make up for. He had no right to that title. He had allowed his emotions to overrule his duty to the village and in so doing he had forsaken his only living family all because he had lost his son to the demon fox. He had failed his grandson and try as he may he felt unworthy of his grandson's affections.
When it was time for team seven's training he would join him and watch on the sidelines as they trained and while his two teammates seemed cold to him it was his male teammate that he disliked the most. The boy was rude and arrogant and seemed to walk around like he was some lord who half-expected everything to be handed to him just because of his name. A fact he was going to fix today. Clan or no clan a ninja still died all the same. He knew that fact all too well himself. His own teammate was much the same and he ended up with nothing save a stone and a small plot of land.
"Sasuke is it"? Miniko asked not at all caring if he got it right. Sasuke, in turn, walked up. His face already set into that arrogant scowl he seemed to wear every day.
"Do you know what this is"? Miniko asked as he lifted a set of training weights.
"Of course I do you old fool". Sasuke said. Miniko allowed that to roll off him without so much as a visible reaction. When he had told Naruto how he felt about the duck-butt-haired boy he was soon taken aside and shown: The Ways: and while he was at first upset his grandson was using his time so poorly that soon changed when he saw the complexity of such pranks. The planning alone would have made a new Jounin green with envy.
"Right you are. Mind putting them on. You being so good surely the highest setting would be more your speed". Miniko said pushing the weights into his hands. Putting them on and sending some chakra into the weights he made to lift his leg.
"Is something the matter? Surely you of all people aren't going to allow Naruto to outdo you"? Miniko said masking his true feelings but on the inside, he was enjoying this. He was loving every second of this.
"Of...c.course...n...not...his...a..no..g...good...demon". Sasuke said as he tried to lift his leg again. Meanwhile, Naruto was busy jumping and running and even flipping as if his own were but feathers. Kakashi seeing this walked over to the seal master and asked.
"Sir what did you do"? Kakashi asked eyeing the two boys. One seemed to be about to pass out while the other seemed about ready to jump as high as the Sun. Miniko eyed the masked ninja now beside him before pulling out a seal.
"You needn't worry he's fine. The seal only makes one believe the weights are heavier than they are in reality. In truth, he's only wearing an academy student level weight. Naruto is the one with the real thing". Miniko said before placing the seal back inside and walking over to Naruto who at once stopped in his jumping and flipping and whatever else he was doing for the past few minutes. Kakashi all the while could only shake his head in amusement.
"Just like his grandson. By sage only two weeks and his already pulling pranks". Kakashi said to himself before eyeing Sasuke who it seemed was now able to lift his leg all of an inch.
"Not bad". Kakashi yelled out.
"Piss off". The boy replied. He remained that way until the seal wore off and he fell face-first onto the ground around an hour later by which point Naruto, Kakashi, and Miniko were long gone. Sakura remained behind but as always he blew her date off making the pink-haired girl sad. What was wrong with her? Was it her hair color? Was it her clothing? She knew not why Sasuke wouldn't give her even one date. She had, of course, found the boy's emo like ways attractive and alluring. But now that she was on his team and around the boy nearly all day she was beginning to view the boy as an asshole who didn't care about anybody but himself. Naruto she still wasn't sure about. He was still as loud and energetic as always but he was also an enigma. A year ago he seemed to just improve immensely. He started winning more of his sparring bouts and then he started wearing an eye patch over his left eye. She at first thought he was trying to look cool but then Sasuke burned him or at least tried to as he seemed to be fine aside from his singed clothes. With that thought in mind, she was going to find out what happened to her sun-kissed teammate and so with yet another dismissal from the duckbutt-haired boy she too left the training ground.
Once the training was over both he and Naruto could be seen walking down one of the most used streets in all of Konohagakure. The villagers all eyed the pair as if in total disbelief at what they were seeing. Some stopped and watched as they walked down and out of sight while others tried to shadow them. This, of course, failed as they were soon seen and they made a beeline back the way they had come. Naruto all the while jumping happily and humming a tone. Miniko all the while had his mind a thousand miles away. He had of course been told about the house and the hallway of doors. It was why he was here. He was to find out what lay beyond them and in order to do that his grandson needed to learn the art of seals. An artform many centuries-old.
"Same time tomorrow"? Miniko asked.
"Of course, sensei I wouldn't miss it". Naruto replied before opening the door and entering his home. Just as his grandson closed the door Inoichi walked up.
"A little birdy told me about that prank you pulled on Sasuke-kun". Inoichi said with a shit-eating grin.
"You were spying on us"? Miniko asked eyeing the man hard. He didn't at all like the idea he was being spied on. Much less when the person doing the deed was a fellow leaf ninja.
"No, not really. I was merely watching Naruto-kun. After the attack, the Hokage has had me watch him every now and again. My wife also watches him as does Ino". Inoichi said before turning to face the older man.
"Sir if I may ask". Inoichi began before he faced the closed door seeming to be waiting for something. Of what he didn't know.
"Why didn't you attend your son's funeral"? Inoichi finally asked. Miniko didn't answer. He himself didn't know why he didn't. Yet another of his many failures. It seemed he was only good for one thing. Seals. Anything else he seemed unable to do with any proficiency at all.
"Well, sir just know I'm happy your here now. He needs you...more than you can possibly know". Inoichi said before walking away leaving him alone with his thoughts.