Title: Faith Arc - Faith in Humanity (PG-13)
Summary: AU. What if Naruto survived a murder attempt on his life at the age of 6 and had to leave Konoha for his protection. Now 12, Naruto and Jiraiya returns to face the genin test.
Warning: Naruto OOC. No pairings as of yet – don’t know if I’ll have any. PG-13. This story has a darker version of Naruto; he is very cynical, cold and somewhat rude. Um.. since this is a Nartuo-centric story, please don’t be surprised if I don’t put out too much detail on the other characters. I’m trying to develop Naruto first before I look at the other characters. OH and another warning, I DON’T LIKE SAKURA, so she may seem a bit pathetic, stupid and weak. Apologies to all Sakura fans, but she’ll get better once she earns MY respect, in both this story and the anime/manga. Because I’m following the manga (and the anime series is pretty much the same), I’ll be trying to move the plot along much faster so please be aware that sometimes, I rush through things and just give summaries.
""..."" means "thoughts"
XXXXXXXX means "change of scene"
Finally, after six years of travel, Jiraiya had decided it was time for both him and Naruto to return to Konoha. Both of them had their own reasons to choose such a time to return to Konoha. One, Naruto would make it back just in time to participate in the Konoha Academy graduation. Not that Naruto could possibly fail now, knowing what he knows about Ninja techniques and such. The good thing about having the pervert Sennin as your guardian and sensei was that when ever he wishes to ‘scout around for new inspiration for his books’, that basically meant he’ll just teach you a new technique and leave you to your own demise, sometimes for days on end. Naruto got use to his behaviors very soon though and they shared something like a love-hate relationship.
For the past six years, Jiraiya and Naruto had literary traveled around the world twice over. The Rain country, Stone, Sand, Wave, Grass, Lightning, Mist; you name it, they’ve been there. During their travels, Naruto had also matured a lot for his age, though for good or bad, it’s still debatable. Emotionally, he doesn’t trust people very often; he understood that for most people, if they knew what resided in him, would hate him immediately; so he doesn’t readily trust easily. He had also become very cautious in his actions and not very talkative. Since there were usually only two people traveling together (him and Jiraiya), pranks and other jokes were not that appreciated. Naruto had also become rather anti-social, and very reserved with his thoughts. Physically, he was still considered short for his age, but had developed firm, lean muscles on every inch of his body. His Taijutsu was excellent. He excels in speed, power, stealth, agility and even sensory detection (using his Nine Tails senses). As for his knowledge in Ninjutsu and Genjutsu, he had vast amounts of Ninjutsu techniques at his disposal and he can manipulate his Chakra to render any Genjutsu useless. His only weakness is that he still does not have full control over his Chakra manipulation and control.
So the two of them set off to return to Konoha.
Naruto and Jiraiya arrived back in Konoha on the very day of the Konoha Academy Genin Selection Exam and Naruto made it just in time to participate in said exam. Every one was very surprised by his reappearance (those that remembered him anyway) but only Iruka showed any true delight in seeing him again. In the village, all the parents whom had recognized his whiskers like scars on his face felt a little apprehension for his return, but the third Hokage had already announced that if anyone dares to make a move on the boy, they would be executed immediately. The children (those who remembered him at all), all remembered him to be the outcast he always were in the past and generally stayed out of his way, which he was fine with anyway.
Due to Naruto’s sudden reappearance and registration to undertake the Academy Genin Selection Exam, he was put as the last to perform the test. And so, he spent most of his time sleeping, not caring of how the other children performed, nor was he interested in what the exam procedures were until his turn. Finally, it was Naruto’s turn to take the test and be judged, the other children in the class were all curious as to his strengths, but they held not much hope for his scores.
The first test was to test his kunai throwing skills, which he completed onto the bull’s-eye of a board even before Iruka finished speaking. The second test was to test his knowledge of the Ninja rules, in which he simply replied he didn’t remember any of them. This infuriated Mizuki but Iruka gave Naruto the go ahead, this was because Naruto did have an excuse, considering he had only gone to the Academy school for less than one year (when he was 5) and couldn’t possibly be expected to remember all the rules back then. But to finish the third and final test, Naruto had to complete a fully functional bunshin no jutsu. Naruto made no visible hand seals but his bunshin suddenly appeared next to the target and retrieved his kunai. Later, Naruto was announced to pass the Genin Selection exam.
Due to the unexpected addition to the student number, Iruka did not have any extra Shinobi head-protector to give to Naruto and so, he asked him out for Ramen instead (Naruto still loved Ramen). After eating at least 15 bowls of ramen at Ichiraku (Naruto of course), Naruto and Iruka visited the Heroes Memorial in Konoha. Iruka then reminded Naruto of his own life story and explained that at first, he too had hated Naruto because it was the Nine tails that had killed his parents. But after watching Naruto grow up, he realized that Naruto and him were very much alike and that Naruto wasn’t the Nine tails. Iruka apologized for not being there to help Naruto before and gave Naruto his own head-protector, stating that as long as Naruto wore his head protector, it would be as if Iruka himself was right next to him. Naruto smiled for the first time in 3 whole years and hugged Iruka tightly in appreciation.
Naruto then went to meet the third Hokage to get his ninja registration done and also asked the third Hokage if he could look at the image of his father (the forth Hokage). It was there, in front of his father’s portrait that Naruto made his promise. He didn’t really call Konoha home anymore and he didn’t very much like the people here, but since his father was willing to sacrifice himself and the future of his son for this village, Naruto would honour his father’s legacy and continue to protect Konoha for him, until the day he himself realise what was so important about Konoha. The third had overheard all of this and was about to explain to Naruto, but decided against it. It would be better for Naruto to learn for himself and create a home here for himself.
The next day, Naruto waited patiently on his seat while all the other children clown around. A few of the bullies tried to intimidate him like they did before he left but they didn’t even get a raised eyebrow for their efforts. A girl named Sakura Haruno sat herself next to him and ogled the infamous Uchiha Sasuke. When the names of the members of team 7 were read out, only Sakura had any expression (happiness to be paired with Sasuke). Naruto didn’t even flinch but all the other students were still wondering why he was paired with Uchiha Sasuke unless he was really weak. The truth of the matter was that Naruto had told Iruka to let him pass but still retain the same status as he had been before he left the Academy 6 years ago, as the lowest ranked member of the class. Iruka didn’t know why he requested this but followed his wish anyway since the third Hokage also made such a request.
They waited for 3 hours in class for their late sensei. When Naruto finally felt the man’s Chakra, in a fit of rage, he threw a kunai at Kakashi, which was caught by the Jounin ninja of course. Kakashi smiled and laughed nervously at the children and apologized for his lateness. The introductions were made with the only interesting part coming from Naruto: "My name is Uzumaki Naruto. I like … (pause)… Ramen. I dislike many things. I have no ambition and no dream but … my only wish is to understand why my father was willing to die to protect this village."
Kakashi was shocked by this response, and he concluded that Naruto knows about his father. After that, Kakashi gave his normal speech about survival training the next day. Naruto ignored the no breakfast rule and ate some that morning before going to the training grounds. After another 3 hours of waiting, Kakashi finally arrived and told them the new rules to the real Genin Selection Exam.
While Sakura and Sasuke immediately hid in the surrounding areas, Naruto just stood where he was and stared. Kakashi asked him if he was going to attack anytime soon or did he have a strategy. Naruto simply answered: "I have no wish to become a genin or anything in life. I have no reason to fight against you for those stupid bells. If the other two wanted it so much to become Shinobis, let them. I’ll just wait for the next time."
Kakashi was silently seething at Naruto’s nonchalant attitude. In a way, Naruto was kind enough to volunteer being the one that fails so that Sasuke and Sakura could become genins. But him simply giving up without even trying infuriated Kakashi and he snapped back: "Expecting a result without even trying, willing to wait for an uncertain future.. If you continue having these kinds of attitude, you will never understand why your father did what he did. You wouldn’t even be able to go through half the things your father went through for Konoha. You are nothing but a coward that runs away from facing the past deeds of your father if you continue to turn your back from this absolute truth. The truth in which you yourself must undergo hardship to find answers for!" Naruto grew angry at Kakashi’s outburst and charged him, which was exactly what Kakashi had wanted him to do in the first place.
Firstly, Naruto attacked Kakashi using Taijutsu to test out his reflexes and reaction rate. Since Naruto was already very good with Taijutsu, both Kakashi and Naruto had to parry each other for some time. After dodging Naruto’s fist, Kakashi grabbed one of Naruto’s arm, slammed him onto the ground, twisted said arm at the wrist and elbow until Naruto was rendered immovable with Kakashi sitting on his back.
Kakashi was about to speak when the Naruto in his hand suddenly disappeared. Realizing it was a Kage Bunshin (Shadow Replication) he was fighting; Kakashi saw in the corner of his eye another Naruto rushing at him at top speed. He couldn’t dodge in time so Kakashi blocked the kick with his arms. The block had enough force to almost crack Kakashi’s bones as he was dragged along the sand due to the momentum and impact.
Naruto didn’t stop though, as he ran after Kakashi again and he threw several kunais in his direction. Kakashi jumped up to avoid the kunais but widen his eyes as Naruto performed his first seal, the Gokakyuu no jutsu (Powerful Fireball) (1). After the giant flame blast, all that was left was a burning log, Kakashi had used Kawarimi no jutsu to replace himself with an inanimate object. However, Naruto did not lose focus as he immediately threw several shurikans towards a certain tree near the edge of their battle. Kakashi jumped away from the tree only milliseconds before those shurikans reached it and blasted half the tree into small bits of burning wood chips. "Chakra reinforced shurikans", thought Kakashi as several Naruto’s (Kage Bunshins) started attacking at the same time.
Surrounding him first, then striking forward one at a time in a motion of in out in out of Kakashi’s danger zone. Even though Kakashi was keeping up with their movements but he was also feeling slightly pressured. He then realized he doesn’t have enough time to strike down any of the Naruto Bunshins before another takes it’s place, and it also gave him no time to perform any seals either. After quickly blocking one of the clone’s attacks, Kakashi jumped up into the air and performed another type of fire blast seal, Katon Karyuu Endan (Fire Type: Fire Dragon Blast) (2). The massive flame blast burnt up all the remaining clones but the real Naruto was nowhere to be found.
Kakashi landed silently, finding himself enjoying the challenges that Naruto had given him, though a little bit out of breath than usual. Since he was already on his guard, suspicious of Naruto’s attacks, Kakashi immediately noticed the many kunais and shurikans flying his way. Wondering why Naruto wound do the same thing twice, he was slightly taken back when one of the Kunais set off a trap directly behind him. He dodged the rest of on coming weapons that the trap had flung at him, wondering when did Naruto had the time to set up such an elaborate trap. That was the moment he was attacked by a hidden Sasuke from his side.
Kakashi mentally sighed. He had completely forgotten that he still had two other students to content with, not just Naruto. And Sasuke seems to be just as good, if a little bit less cautious than Naruto had been. Defending against all of Sasuke’s punches and kicks, he was surprised that Sasuke actually touched the bells at all, and immediately kicked away himself. Naruto had not been interested in the bells, if he had been, then maybe the bells would have been long gone by now. During the previous fights, Naruto had only been angry at Kakashi directly and fought him over said statements, not for the purpose of getting the bells. Turning his attention back to the situation at hand, Kakashi realized that Sasuke had repeated the same seals as Naruto, the Gokakyuu no jutsu (Powerful Fireball technique). But this time, Kakashi did not use Kawarimi no jutsu to escape the flames. Instead, he went underground and used Doton: Shinjuu Zanshu no jutsu (Earth type: Inner Decapitation technique) (3) against Sasuke, grabbing him by his feet and pulling him down until only his head is above the ground.
It was just at that moment that Sakura came through the bushes and saw this scene. She had been trying to find Sasuke for a while now, since Naruto’s fight against Kakashi. After hearing Sasuke’s grunt of pain, she immediately ran after the sound, only to come out of the clearing and seeing Sasuke’s supposedly decapitated head on the ground. Naturally, she screamed then fainted, even though Kakashi was still there crouching and looking at her curiously. ""Damn, I didn’t even get to use any Genjutsu on her and she still fainted. Oh well.""
Slightly disappointed at Sakura’s bad performance, Kakashi was completely caught off guard when Naruto materialized behind him and tried to stab him with a kunai. Kakashi barely missed the attack though his shoulder did get scratched. Naruto then threw said kunai in Kakashi’s direction. While Kakashi was busy avoiding the kunai, Naruto slammed his left hand into the ground, grabbed onto Sasuke’s shoulder and pulled him out of the ground. With his free right hand, Naruto then threw a smoke bomb on the ground, creating a smoke screen and escaped with Sasuke. Kakashi was starting to get nervous as to what ideas Naruto has when he freed Sasuke.
On the other side of the clearing, hidden behind leaves, Sasuke wrenched his shoulder out of Naruto’s hold and glared at him. Naruto glared right back at Sasuke, then moved his mouth slowly, mentally wondering if Sasuke could lip-read. Turns out he was lucky, Sasuke could lip-read, though not much and you had to go slow for him to contemplate the sentence completely.
XXLook, moron. I don’t like this either, but if you want those bells, you’re gonna have to work with me here.XX
Sasuke glared at Naruto for a while later, then finally sighed silently. XXFine. What’s the plan?XX
Naruto nodded back to him, indicating he too accepts this short truce between them and laid out his plan of attack. Within the visible clearing, Kakashi had gone into high alert. With both Naruto and Sasuke working together, it would be a lot tougher to beat them both at the same time. He was wondering whether he should use his Sharingan when Sakura finally woke up.
"Huh? Where am I?" Remembering, Sakura immediately sat up. "WHERE’S SASUKE?!" She yelled.
That was the exact moment that Naruto and Sasuke rushed out of their hiding places and attacked Kakashi. Several Naruto’s (Kage Bunshins – Shadow Replications) rushed towards Kakashi from the front. After a few blocks and blows, only one Naruto remained, the real Naruto. While Kakashi was concentrating hard against Naruto, he reacted too slowly when Sasuke appeared by his side, swiping Kakashi off his feet when he swung his legs in a half-circle while crouching and stretched his hand out to grab the bells. Kakashi saw this last move, jumped up and hit both Naruto and Sasuke in the face with both his legs. Both Naruto and Sasuke flew backwards due to the impact. When Kakashi finally landed from his jump, Sasuke was holding both bells triumphantly in his hand.
After several seconds of stunted silence, Sakura screamed out her joy, running towards the slightly injured Sasuke, and hugged him so tightly that he couldn’t breathe. She kept on re-iterating the same sentence. "Sasuke is SOOO COOL! Sasuke is SOOO GREAT!! Sasuke is the GREATEST!!!"
Kakashi recovered from his shock, lifting one hand behind his head and scratched it sheepishly. "Well, I guess both Sasuke and Naruto have passed this test then." Sakura froze on those words, immediately letting go of an almost unconscious Sasuke, rushed at Kakashi and screamed out to him in protest. "Does that mean I FAILED!!!??? NOOOOOO!!! I CANT FAIL!!!! Please give me another chance!! Kakashi sensei. PLEASEEEEEE!!!"
Both Kakashi and Naruto winched at her high pitch voice. "No." came Sasuke’s soft but determined answer. "You are too weak to become a useful Shinobi. You should quit while you’re ahead, Sakura."
Sakura almost started crying as she imagined her days without Sasuke’s constant companion. That is, until Kakashi interrupted. "You’re wrong Sasuke. Do you know why I said both you and Naruto passed?"
"Because we were the ones who got the bell." Answered Sasuke simply.
Kakashi shook his head and was about to answer but Naruto interrupted him. "Sakura can have the second bell if she wants." While the other three looked back at him in question, Naruto answered: "I’m not interested in the bells." Smirking at Kakashi, he continued: "I just wanted to piss Kakashi off, that’s all."
Kakashi sighed and shook his head in resignation as Sakura jumped up with joy. Loosing his patient, he shouted: "SHUT UP! ALL OF YOU." Silence ensured. Kakashi then explained that the whole purpose of this exercise wasn’t set up to test their individual strengths and weaknesses; it was to test their teamwork! With a team of 3 genins, they should be able to help each other gather the bells from a jounin. The test was set up this way to see who would be willing to work with their partners to accomplish a difficult task. He referred to what he said before; stating that why both Naruto and Sasuke had passed was because they WORKED TOGETHER AS A TEAM!
After that speech, Kakashi then told them their individual weaknesses. Sasuke was over-confident of his abilities, too arrogant to analyse the situation properly, and too self-righteous to work with another. Sakura was too obsessed with just following Sasuke and ignoring her other teammate to the point that she was completely useless during a mission. Naruto’s weakness was being difficult to motivate at all in completing even a simple task and reacts too emotionally when push comes to shove. Overall, they had plenty of weaknesses to overcome within their genin days. After a long pause, Kakashi smiled and confirmed that even though they need to work on their teamwork, this team 7, he passed them! Sakura was jumping for joy again, Sasuke was smirking while Naruto was silently contemplating Kakashi’s words.
After that, Naruto walked silently back towards the Heroes memorial. After a long while, his official guardian and sensei, Jiraiya, suddenly visited him.
"So, how was it? Your team, that is."
"I’m paired with Uchiha Sasuke and Haruno Sakura."
"Heh. Uchiha, huh.. Damn, must be a spoilt genius brat then, right?"
Naruto lowered his head. "I guess."
The silence stretched for a while longer until Naruto asked his guardian a question.
Naruto: "Why did you bring me back now?"
"Because I thought it was high time for you to come back."
"Why?" Naruto insisted.
Jiraiya signed. "This is the place where you were born. The place where your father and mother called home, and as such, it should be your home too. I know you don’t really have much good memory about this place. But it’s really a wonderful place to call home, you know."
Naruto turned around and looked at Jiraiya with sad eyes. "How can I call it home if I don’t feel welcomed here?"
Jiraiya looked straight back at him without batting an eye. "Because soon enough, you will learn what is precious in the Konoha that you won’t find anywhere else." Smiling at Naruto’s confused expression, Jiraiya answered again: "Haven't you already found someone important here?" After a few minutes of thought, Naruto nodded as he remembered Iruka. Jiraiya asked again: "Would you fight to protect this important person?" Naruto nodded again without resistance. "Then you would become even stronger."
Naruto looked confused again. Jiraiya raised his eyes to the names on the memorial. "Remember Naruto, true strength comes only to those whom are trying to protect their loved ones. When you have someone to protect, you will understand what I mean."
Naruto nodded, though uneasily, turned to look at the memorial. "Just like father did."
Jiraiya nodded in silence.
""He protected all his loved ones in Konoha.. The Yondaime was a truly strong person…""
(1) Powerful Fireball skill – same as Sasuke in book 1, Chapter 6
(2) Hokage’s flame blast – Fire Dragon Napalm - in book 14, Chapter 120
(3) Earth Type: Inner decapitation skill – same as the one used by Kakashi in Book 1, Chapter 6, against Sasuke
Okay, umm… please read and reply. As I said before in the prologue, I really don’t know how the story will turn out until it does, so any suggestions are appreciated. ^_^ Um.. if there are any constructive criticism as to how I’ve set up the story, I’m also very willing to listen to them. But no FLAMES please.
As for pairings, it’s still an open option. The only pairing I really don’t like is to pair Sakura and Naruto together, I just really don’t think he deserves her. >o