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The Hidden Truths of the Village Hidden in the Leaves

Chapter 2

The Hidden Truths of the Village Hidden in the Leaves

Summary: Starting after the trip to the Land of the Waves, Sasuke has developed a sense of overprotectivness a shinobi feels towards their partner and Naruto has to deal with new surprises every day. The secret behind the Uchiha clan massacre is revealed and Orochimaru is scared of one man. ANBU and foxes flock towards Naruto as much as danger does. A whole new take on the life of Team 7 and co.

As Team 7 prepared to walk over the magnificent new bridge with the villagers all gathered to say their goodbyes with their new heroes, Sasuke noticed the wistful looks the youngest member of their group kept trowing behind their backs. He wasn’t the only one to see this and as they began crossing the bridge they had almost given their lies for, it would seem that Sakura could no longer keep her curiosity in check.

“Oi, Naruto? What’s with that expression?”

“Hm?” Was the blond’s honestly surprised and confused response. He looked over to the pink haired girl and regarded her with a small dose of caution. “What was that, Sakura-chan?”

Sasuke bit his lip as he realized that Naruto knew well what she was talking about but was playing dumb to prolong the inevitable. Kakashi must have noticed this as well since he even lowered his precious Icha Icha Paradise book just to pay full attention to the conversation taking place. It would seem he preferred real life drama over even his books. Or was it simply that he was surprised Naruto would try and lie to Sakura, whom they all knew he had a big crush on. Said girl rolled her green eyes. “You’ve been glancing back with a look on your face that would suggest you just had to leave your puppy behind and it’s getting a bit annoying. What’s uo with that?”

Naruto flinched a bit at the annoying comment but forced a smile on his whiskered face anyways. Sakura then remembered how she had felt when Sasuke had called her annoying on the day their team had been formed and winced before a shudder raked her body as a thunderous scowl was directed at her by her crush.

“Oh, it’s nothing, Sakura-chan. I’m just going to really miss this place. Everyone is so nice here,” Kakashi’s face suddenly closed off, making him appear even deadlier than when he revealed his sharingan eye. The usually easy going, perverted man was gone and replaced by a slightly pissed off looking junin. Sasuke had both seen and felt the change but he didn’t know what caused it. “It kinda makes me want to stay here forever.”

“Eeh?” Came the perplexed reply from Sakura as she observed their blond teammate nervously scratching the back of his head in a very sheepish manner. “Why would you want to stay here? I mean, yes, everyone is nice and it’s a rather pretty place, but I thought you wanted to be a ninja. A Hokage!”

Naruto shrugged. “I still want to be a ninja but everyone was so nice to me here. You might have noticed, or maybe not, but I’m not exactly liked in our village.” The thunderous scowl visible on Kakashi’s covered features became deadlier, if at all possible. Sasuke was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that someone as cheerful as Naruto could be disliked. Sure, he could be a bit annoying and he liked to play pranks, but there were far worse people in both categories. In fact, as far as he knew, Naruto’s pranks were never of the destructive kind. While Kiba, that mutt lover, tended to destroy half of the Academy for a single prank, the most destructive prank Naruto ever played was to paint something in permanent paint. And he never really complained about cleaning his own mess. He had seen the blond scrubbing the Hokage faces on the mountain so he knew that Naruto always took the repercussion of his mischief seriously and never ran away from punishment. “I just liked how everyone treated me like I’m one of them, not some de- some brat they would just like to get rid of.”

“Just because a few people don’t like you doesn’t mean the entire village is like that.” The girl scolded and their sensei stopped. They were now halfway over the bridge, the other side clearly seen since there was no fog for once.

“Naruto ... If you want to stay here, I will tell the Hokage you died protecting Tazuna-san from Zabuza and you will be treated like a hero. give you the money I have left, just make sure to spend it wisely. It shouldn’t be too hard for someone like you to find work here and-”

“Wha?” Sakura exclaimed in shock while Sasuke grit his teeth in order to stop himself from lunging at the older man with the intent to break his neck. How dare he even suggest this!? And then he remembered their talk from two days ago, how Naruto had said he could somewhat relate to the two mist ninjas and he realized that the silver haired man must know something about the reason behind such treatment from the villagers towards Naruto. ‘So he was only trying to protect him?’ “But, Kakashi-sensei-”

“Everyone has a right to choose, Sakura.” The man replied without taking his single dark eye away from the blond, who had lowered his head so that his bangs hid his eyes and a part of his face from view. “No one deserves to be forced to stay in a place they don’t belong in. If he feels more comfortable here-”

“It’s okay, Kakashi-sensei!” The blond suddenly exclaimed and all three of his companions looked over to him. He just grinned at their shocked faces, determination shinning in his blue eyes and making them twinkle. “Although I like this place, Konoha is my home. Besides, I need to return to Konoha in order to become Hokage so that I can make it as welcoming as the Land of the Waves!” If anything, the others were even more shocked to hear this but for Sasuke, the surprise finally wore off and he smirked. This was so like Naruto it was reassuring to see after his confession of liking this little island country. For a second there he had truly thought the blond would take Kakashi up on his offer and stay. “And here it is so easy to be a hero because everyone is a hero. Among other shinobi, I will have to train long and hard to stand out! I will become Hokage! It is the only way the villagers will recognize my existence like these people have. Believe it!”

Kakashi stared at his youngest student before chuckling and shaking his head fondly. Sakura had a small (relieved) smile on her face as she watched Naruto now determinately walk on ahead, never once looking back over his shoulder. Sasuke didn’t even bother to hide his satisfied smirk as he caught up to the kyuubi vessel, soon joined by a cheerful Sakura and then by their now busy with reading his smut book seansei.

They spent the whole day traveling, not really in a hurry to go back to new D-rank missions. They knew that the Hokage won’t be happy about three genin being put in such danger for their first couple of months of ninja-hood. Besides, the weather was nice, the forest through which they were walking was peaceful and the three tweens finally had some time to act their own age. They would be playing word games for hours, then drift off into their own thoughts, then start talking about random things before engaging Kakashi in a new word game. Naruto rarely won but he didn’t mind. Sasuke was second place while Sakura and Kakashi could go on for another fifteen minutes and either end up tied or take turns in winning. They had stopped briefly for lunch near a nice little stream with many fish in its clear waters. Naruto had taken off his clothes and with the help of his clones and Sasuke, they nailed seven fish for them to cook. And with the Uchiha’s fire release technique, their food had been cooked in less than a minute without drawing any unwanted attention from other possibly following malevolent shinobi.

They settled deep into the woods for the night, not willing to put a camp near the main road for fear of bandits or other rouge ninja attacking them. Sure there was no more Zabuza or Haku but they were not the only ninja in the world and Kakashi would rather they all get some decent sleep. They agreed on taking turns throughout the night for keeping watch and sometime past midnight, Kakashi woke up Sasuke for his turn. The night was quiet save for the crackling sound of the fire they had lit in the deep hole he was sitting by. There were a few stars out and the full moon was bright enough for him to see quite a bit outside their camp without straining his eyes. Sakura was sleeping peacefully on the other side of the fire while Kakashi had just fallen asleep in his own makeshift bed, a kunai clenched in his hand. Sasuke had no doubt that the man would wake up at the slightest hint of a whisper from any form of threat and that he will deal with it with the same swiftness and precision as if he were awake for hours.

The only not resting so peacefully seemed to be Naruto. His back way to the older boy so the raven couldn’t see his face but with his tense body language, even in such a deep sleep, Sasuke could guess that there was a frown on his face. He knew better than to wake him up because there would be no going back to sleep for the blond. Better let him deal with the nightmares then let him be dead tired tomorrow.

However, unknown to Sasuke, Naruto wasn’t dreaming. Not really, anyway. Sure, there were images and sounds running through his head but he couldn’t comprehend them despite how hard he tried. All he knew was the sound of a voice, one he was sure he had heard only once, for maybe a few seconds, was the only constant in this dream like thing. He would catch glimpses of red eyes, Konoha, long wild hair, a big cage like door, a strange swirling seal and sometimes he got a very brief image of a giant ... frog? Yeah, that was definitely a frog. Then he would glance a strange man wearing a white and red fox mask from the corner of his eyes but every time he turned to see him, he would be gone. Other times he would see giant beasts sitting in a circle, or would watch Sandaime Hokage staring down at a child and so on. He really didn’t understand these images but he understood the emotions behind them, and some of them were quite surprising. For instance, Hokage-ji-chan brought on both anger and some sort of respect while that wild mane of dark hair awoke such strong resentment Naruto feared it would drown him. Konoha, his beloved home, brought nothing but hate and the frog pain. The red eyes were associated with danger and slight fear but just as much hate. The circle of beasts felt like a home long lost and brought nostalgia and sadness. The strange masked man had caution marked to him but also traces of gratitude, which really made no sense. The caged door, for some reason, awoke both curiosity and anger while the baby he caught a glimpse of had many mixed emotions attached to it.

But the voice ... Where had he heard it before? It was deep and rumbling with power, promising destruction and chaos, yet a feeling of safety like no other. For some reason, he knew he would be safe as long as that voice was with him but he also knew that it was capable of much destruction. He wondered why it sounded angry and desperate and sad, and all at the same time, very very lonely. Did it not have a friend? A companion at the very least? It was so strong it must have had someone.

A sudden shake of his shoulder had Naruto blinking his eyes open and he turned around to look up into Sasuke’s face. He looked slightly annoyed and Naruto frowned as he wondered how he could tell that since both of their faces were obscured from the fire by Sasuke’s shadow. In fact, he was surprised to see that his vision way as good as it had been that day, too, as if there were plenty of light out. He decided to ignore these musings because Sasuke was beginning to look angry now. “What is it, teme?”

The response was almost a habit by now. “Dobe. It’s your turn to keep watch.” Normally, Naruto scowled at the insult but got out of his sleeping bag all the same. The Uchiha got up as well and walked over to his sleeping bag, settling down and forcing himself to go to sleep. It was somewhat more difficult than it would usually be and he had found himself watching Naruto sitting in front of the fire for half an hour before finally drifting off, rather restlessly.

Naruto sat, vigilantly doing his duty of watching over his friends for an hour after that before he allowed himself to think. That first hour and a half had been spent testing the new sharpness of his senses. It wasn’t just his eyes that had gotten better and stronger, but also his nose and ears. He had heard Sasuke’s breathing evening out and he could smell their food from their bags, high up in the trees. With how his eyes were now, it might as well have been daylight because the forest didn’t seem that dark to him. He had been so alert to this new sensitivity that he had counted four bats, an owl and about seven or eight night animals flying/passing by.

After that, he had started thinking on all the strange sensations he had been experiencing since the fight against Haku. The new senses were only the tip of the iceberg. The dreams like he had just had now were probably the strangest thing, though, because they felt like memories but they weren’t his. He felt all the things one would usually feel when dreaming about a past event but he knows for certain that he would never feel such emotions towards Konoha and the old man Hokage. And he knows that he has never seen the metal gate he saw in the dream. It was all just confusing and he swore that the red eyes in his dream looked somewhat familiar but where had he seen them?

‘Ah! In the fight with Haku, just seconds before I lost consciousness, Sasuke’s eyes had looked weird. Red!’ But why Sasuke’s eyes would be dangerous or scary when he knew the boy was his friend.

Because Uchiha friendships could be so fickle.

Naruto nearly jumped out of his skin at the deep, rumbling voice from his dream now echoing inside his head. He jerked upright and looked left and right but there was no one other than his friends and the dying fire. Realizing that it was about to go out, Naruto put in some more dry branches and observed it for further signs of going out. When he was satisfied with the fire, he extended his chakura field to get a better feel on any possible intruders but other than the few night animals mingling about, there was no one else. ‘A figment of my imagination? But why would I think that?! I only know Sasuke of the Uchiha clan so why would I think something like that?’

I know them well enough to be able to say this with complete confidence. Came the voice again, now sounding a bit more faraway and Naruto did another sweep of their surroundings but came up empty, even with his newly strengthened senses.

‘You know other Uchihas?’ He thought, testing out a theory. The voice always answered his thoughts, so it must be able to hear them and respond in his mind.

One or two in particular, but yes. I am rather well acquainted with that clan of tragedy.

‘Why do you sound so angry when you talk about them?’

How do you know I don’t always sound like this?

‘There is no way someone could be that grumpy all the time.’ The blond thought, finding himself relaxing only to force himself back into alertness. He couldn’t slack off when his friends were depended on him to keep them safe.

I am not grumpy! Came the snapped reply and Naruto tried not to chuckle as his point was proven. It would seem that it didn’t matter that he wasn’t laughing because the grumbling that follow indicated that his conversation partner had still detected his amusement. And you can relax. I am always fully alert and since I can’t allow you to die, I will tell you if there is danger nearby.

‘Thanks but how can you always be fully alert?’ The orange clad ninja did as instructed and began relaxing, recalling that surety of safety he had felt in his dream as this very same voice talked at him. He actually wasn’t sure if the voice had been speaking to him or just running a commentary. All he knew about the voice was that it might be destructive but it had just said that it wasn’t going to let him die so he was right about feeling safe as long as the voice was with him. ‘And why can’t you let me die?’

Because you are my vessel and if you die, I die. Naruto nodded dumbly before what was said registered and he jerked up, as if expecting to see a person there. And then everything caught up to him, the strange dreams, the mental conversation...

‘You’re the Kyuubi!’ And the blond could just imagine his conversation partner flinching at the “shouted” thought. ′B-but how are you talking to me? Just what is going on?′

Calm down, brat, and don’t yell anymore. My ears are a lot more sensitive than yours. The demon fox growled, making his host shudder at the sound. All this time he had been talking to the infamous kyuubi that had nearly destroyed his home village-

Another growl broke his train of thought, this one far more threatening. So, are you going to fear and shun me just because of something that happened in the past and was out of my control?

‘Wha-?’

Forget it, brat. I should have known. All you humans are the same. Naruto tried to call out for the other to come back, to stay, but his inhabitant was clearly too pissed to care. He never thought he would have to deal with a pissed off fox demon that lived inside of him. Then again, until a couple of months ago, he hadn’t even known that the demon was inside of him to begin with. ‘I swear someone is out to get me up there.’ The Kyuubi’s vessel thought just as Sakura began to steer. Looking up at the moon, Naruto realized that he had covered one third of the pink haired girl’s shift as well, much to his surprise. ‘How long was I talking with the Kyuubi? And how come I still feel so fresh? I could go on like this for the rest of the night!’

However he knew that that would be a very bad idea. Not only would Sakura get angry at him for taking her shift as well, thinking that he thought of her as too weak or something like that, but there might be the chance that they run into trouble tomorrow and he would be needed. He really needed to stop relying on Sasuke so much in fights. How was he to become Hokage if his friend kept fighting his battles? With that thought in mind, Naruto walked over to his female teammate and gently shook her awake.

“Naruto?” Sakura asked in a sleepy voice and the blond boy grinned at her, completely unaware that a certain black haired Uchiha had snapped awake at the sound of his name.

“It’s your turn to keep watch, Sakura-chan. Sorry for waking you so late but I hadn’t noticed the passege of time.” The Kyuubi vessel sheepishly apologized and green eyes finally focused on him.

“Baka! You need your rest, too!” She scolded him in a whisper but let it go. Sometimes it was really pointless dealing with Naruto. Then again, it’s a trait that she had begun to think of as endearing for the younger boy, in a little brother sort of way.

“Gomen.”

Sakura rolled her eyes playfully before shooing him off in the direction of his sleeping bag. The boy went without protest, thinking of the strange conversation he had with the Kyuubi. ‘Maybe I can talk to him again? I didn’t want to anger him.’

Sasuke discretely watched as his friend settled in his sleeping bag, not even noticing how close he was to the Uchiha. Before this mission, it might have been uncomfortable, but now it was the complete opposite. Soon enough, Sasuke saw Naruto’s breathing even out and he followed him back into the land of sleep.

When Naruto opened his blue eyes, he was beyond shocked to find himself in a dark, dank sewer, standing right in front of those strange cage like doors from his dream.

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