Summer's The Time For Camping
Wind ruffled the hair of a young blonde as he lay in a patch of long green grass. The wind brought the scents of the village along with it, filling the boy's nose with smells of fresh baked breads and sizzling barbeques. Inhaling deeply, the blonde smiled softly and watched the clouds roll past.
Normally he had no attention for this kind of activity, but it was his first day off from a 3 month long slew of small but tedious escort missions. In each one Minato used the terrain to encourage him to strain his body in different ways and positions. It was almost like a more intense version of the ninja game he used to play as a child. Of course, when he was a child, he wasn't dodging small bolts of lightning and barrages of sharp kunai.
Ignoring the small sting of a burn that had yet to heal all the way on his left elbow, Naruto watched a cloud that looked vaguely like a rabbit morph into a shruiken. It had taken a year, but he finally felt that he was at the limit of what a 13 year old body could do. Naturally that put him miles above most of his peers. Minato was really a brilliant teacher. The younger blonde really wished that he had a chance to be raised by him; Minato seemed like he would have been a fantastic father.
A small scuffle in the bushes behind him was all the warning Naruto got before a sandaled foot was placed firmly on his forehead. Naruto relaxed and stared up at the figure with his arms crossed.
"We have another mission." The younger blonde sighed loudly.
"Another escort?" He asked, fully intending on begging the Hokage for something with more variety, dignity be damned. The vicious smile that curled Minato's lips did not look promising.
"Something better; that I can promise you." Naruto pushed his brother's foot off of his forehead and scrambled to his feet, an excited smile brightening his face. Minato pulled Naruto's head down with his arm around the younger boy's neck and huddled closer to him.
"We have a border patrol slash infiltration mission. And, the best part, we get to do this mission with someone I've been waiting to introduce you to." Naruto made a noise of joy and clapped his hands sharply before rubbing them together.
"This sounds like fun. When do we start?" Minato straightened up and stood like a proper Jounin.
"Pack for a month, with the possibility of it lasting longer. Meet us by the northern gates in an hour and a half. That will give you enough time to say goodbye to your girlfriend." Naruto's face lit up a bright cherry red before he sputtered out,
"Sh-shut up ni-san! She's not my girlfriend!" Minato just laughed and with a flourish of his hand and swirl of leaves, he vanished leaving Naruto infuriated. He hated it when he did that. It was probably where Kakashi had picked it up.
Himawari was exactly where Naruto had thought she would be, training Obito. The young Uchiha was sitting in the grass in front of her copying and memorizing the 12 hand seals. He could hear the boy's high pitched voice reciting the animal signs as he made them, repeating faster and faster until he inevitably made a mistake, in which Himawari made him start all over again.
The Hyuuga always brightened up when he entered her line of sight. It was cute and despite his unwillingness to dwell in the past, he still felt that little tugging of his heart when he saw her face, she looked so much like Hinata.
Naruto wasn't stupid. Not anymore anyways. He was pretty certain that Himawari was related closely to Hinata, and as much as he knew she would be happy to be in a relationship with him, he refrained. Her up and coming marriage to someone in the Hyuuga clan didn't help either. She refused to talk about her family, and he didn't know any other Hyuuga he could ask about it. He still couldn't look at her face without seeing his long dead lover. It wouldn't be fair.
"Naruto-kun!" pang. She stood quickly and gracefully, interrupting the young boy in front of her. Obito glared at Naruto and stuck his tongue out, something he would not have gotten away with had Himawari been watching. Naruto smirked and accepted the hug that Himawari enveloped him in, winking at the glaring and now blushing 8 year old.
"Hima-hime, I'm leaving for another mission in about an hour, so I have to make this quick, I still haven't packed." Himawari's face fell, and Naruto rushed to cheer her up. He couldn't stand sad girls.
"Hey, don't be sad! I'm going for about a month, but I promise I'll buy you something cool!" Himawari smiled sadly. Life was so boring without Naruto around to make things colourful. The blonde looked down past her at the now standing Uchiha.
"Hey kid," he said, crouching down and ruffling the boy's hair, much to his disdain.
"I need you to take care of Hima-hime while I'm gone. Can I count on that from you?" Obito smiled wide with a smile that looked so similar to his own.
"Of course I can! No one will touch sensei!" Obito struck a pose and both Naruto and Himawari laughed. Glancing up at the sun, Naruto bit his lip.
"I have to go you guys. I'll see you later, be sure to make lots of trouble when I'm gone!" Obito laughed in agreement, but was quickly stifled by a scandalized Himawari.
"Be safe, Naruto-kun! Come home in one piece!" She shouted as he turned the corner. Naruto waved and picked up his pace. At this rate he'd be late.
Turning the last corner before his meeting point with Minato, Naruto just about had a heart attack. Someone he hadn't seen in a long time, and sorely missed, was kicking a stone looking quite miffed. His hair was shorter and the red makeup only reached half way down his cheeks. He still had his nose piercing though.
Jiraiya had been like a father to Naruto in the few short years they had spent together. When Pein killed him, it hurt worse than anything he had felt in his life, until Hinata had died. He still had nightmares about the corpse that Tsunade had eventually found. Being his godson, he had to identify the body for good, and release it to be buried in the old Uchiha cemetery. The only one that wasn't marred by the destruction Pein and Naruto's fight with the orange haired puppet had caused.
After a few painful seconds, his lungs demanded air, and Naruto sucked it in a little fast, choking on it, catching Minato and Jiraiya's attention."Naruto! I almost thought you were going to be late!" Naruto smiled weakly at Minato's attempt at humour. As the pair of adults neared closer, Minato frowned."Are you ok? You look like you've seen a ghost." Naruto broke his gaze away from Jiraiya and looked at Minato's matching blue ones.
"Uh, sorry, I was just choking on some dust. So, who's this?" Jiraiya's eye brow rose slightly, before he smiled and broke out into a dance that the blonde hadn't seen in years. When he was finished, Minato's face was in his hands, and Naruto was laughing.
"Hey gaki! Who're you laughing at? I'm the great Jiraiya!" Minato interrupted the pair with a waving hand before Naruto could react, or laugh harder.
"Hey, hey. Plenty of time to talk on the road. We've got to meet a team at the border in only three days." Naruto blew air out of his mouth.
"We can make it in a day if we really tried." Minato made a smug little sneer at him and said,
"Yea. I know that. I also know that we have a second mission that I will debrief you on later that we have to save our energy for." Naruto just sighed loudly and started down the road, not looking forward to three days of walking. Minato ruffled the shorter blonde's hair as he passed him, earning a small and defeated looking glare.
When dusk had started to fall, the three men broke for camp. By the time light had totally left the sky, a stew pot was boiling with game and vegetables, and the men were sitting on logs around the fire. Jiraiya had just finished telling Naruto a story about Minato as a child that left the younger blonde in tears, and the older blonde with a red face hidden in his hands. When Naruto's laughter died to a quiet chuckle, Jiraiya poured himself a bowl of the stew and asked Minato a question that made him spit out his stew.
"So you banging that girl yet?" Naruto protested loudly at the half eaten chunks of meat and carrots that his brother spat all over his sleeping bag. Minato wiped his mouth and shot his teacher a glare that was colder than the deepest pits of hell.
"What? I'm just asking!" Jiraiya said, holding in some laughter. Naruto, who had used a small wind jutsu to clear the stew off of his sleeping bag turned his head towards the older man.
"What girl? I haven't seen him with anyone since I got here." His eyes flickered towards his brother. Minato's face got redder.
"There is no girl. Sensei likes to joke about this girl I used to know in academy. I haven't even talked to her in like, 3 years. She's on some extended mission, I think." Jiraiya clicked his tongue, but didn't say anything else. Naruto opened his mouth to pry more, but a pointed look from Minato shut him up.
"Well, since poor little Minato doesn't want to talk about his fiery girlfriend, how about you tell me about yourself, gaki? Minato hasn't told me very much." Naruto bit his lip. Jiraiya from his time had been really good at telling when the blonde was lying to him. He'd lived by his background story for the better part of two years now and had gotten it down pat, but something about lying to Jiraiya, the man who had been the closest thing to a father he had, unsettled Naruto's stomach.
"What's he told you?" Naruto asked, glancing at the blonde beside him. Minato frowned slightly. Jiraiya shrugged.
"That they found you mangled up on the academy yards with nothing but scraps of clothes on you and no memory, apparently. The old man also told me that you died after releasing something that felt incredibly evil, and if it wasn't for the nurse in the hall beside your room, you would have stayed dead. I also want you to know that you are still being watched, and reported on." Naruto paled a little and Minato looked guilty.
"What? You knew that I was assigned to watch you and report on you. Mostly it's just how you are doing physically and mentally. Hokage-sama doubts you are a spy, but he, as well as I, is still curious as to where you came from. You sure you don't remember?" Naruto shrugged. He knew he shouldn't have felt as miffed as he did about being watched, since as Minato said, he did know.
"I remember parts of it, but I don't know where it is. I wouldn't have the first idea as to how I would go about getting back. I still don't remember what happened to me."
"So what do you remember?" Naruto shrugged again.
"I was poor. I lived mostly on the streets until I was old enough to build myself a little shack." Almost the truth. His old apartment he had was little better than a shack.
"I had a few friends, the ones whose parent's didn't tell them to stay away from, or the rebellious ones. But..." Naruto frowned. Sakura's glassy eyes flashed before his vision. He hadn't actually seen Hinata's body after she'd died. Neji wouldn't let him near it. Jiraiya frowned. He knew that look.
"Well, what about training? Your chakra system is much more developed than someone who just started training a couple of years ago."
"Sometimes ninja would stop in our town. We had a pub with some beds for travellers. Sometimes the nicer ones would teach us things to practice our chakras, and sometimes the meaner ones would teach us things that were dangerous. A little boy managed to blow his arm off doing one of that bastard's 'practices'." Minato winced. He hadn't heard that before. Jiraiya frowned. Something was off with the stories, but he wasn't sure what yet.
"That's pretty much it. I trained with the other kids my age until whatever happened brought me here. And I think I'm pretty good if I don't say so myself." Minato snorted.
"Yea, right. You'd still be tripping over your own feet if it weren't for my exercises, you ungrateful little brat." Naruto feigned an overdramatic display of hurt, before both blondes broke into laugh. Jiraiya grinned, but his thoughts raced through his head at a mile a minute.
"And Sensei confirmed that you guys are actually related?" Minato nodded, it had been one of the best days of his life. Family was something he had yearned for as a child. His memories of his parents were vague and full of an urgency that still woke him up in a cold sweat on particular bad nights.
"Yes, he had samples of our blood compared, and he matched mine 50%. So unless I was a very lucky 5 year old, this kid's my little brother, full blood." He roughed Naruto's hair up. Normally the younger blonde would have protested, but the pensive look on Jiraiya's face told him that the older man was thinking about things Naruto would rather he not.
"I've heard the theory that Sensei me about your parents. What I find so hard to believe was that after all these years and especially with the beginning of the tensions between us and Iwa, that your long lost little brother just lands on your lap out of nowhere." Minato pursed his lips. Naruto knew that the older blonde spent a lot of time wondering and looking for signs that he was an Iwa sleeper agent.
"It is hard to believe, but it's what I believe. Naruto has shown nothing but loyalty to Konoha. I don't want to have you talking down to him, Sensei. I have no doubt at all for his intentions. And besides, we all know that if Naruto-kun does turn out to be a sleeper agent, I'll be the first to strike him down." Naruto gulped and Jiraiya gave him a long hard stare. It was hard not to squirm, but he held the older man's stare until Jiraiya finally broke it with a laugh.
"Well, I have to admit, he's got guts!" Both Naruto and Minato relaxed visibly. Minato nudged his brother and said quietly,
"I think it's time we all went to bed, we have a lot of travelling to do tomorrow." Naruto nodded and didn't protest the early retiring. He doubted he would sleep much that night. Not very much got past the to-be Legendary Sannin, and Naruto knew that would not be the last batch of questions that he would have to endure in the future.
But for now, he'd have to make do.
End Chapter 5
Ugh. Sorry. School/Work are mostly to blame, as well as the massive writer's block I've had. But it's summer now, and my mind isn't buzzing with the nomenclature of organic molecules, or the velocity of a block sliding down a rough surface, or the adding and subtracting of sin/cos/tan/csc/cot/sec values using reference angles on circles, etc etc. I will be pumping out as many chapters as I can this summer. I want to try and finish it before the summers out. But, don't take that as a promise. I'm still being blocked a bit. I'm starting hardcore university in the fall and man, I am tired just thinking about it.
I also want to thank the group that added this story to their archives, which in turn caused quite a few people to fave my story in some way. I thank each and every one of you. Each one helped push me to get this story out for your sakes, and I apologize for its length, I needed to get the filler out of the way.