Naruto bit his lower lip nervously while pinching himself in his sweaty palm as two ANBU stood in front of him, one behind and Oji-san- the Hokage- stood in front of him with a proud smile pressed on his wrinkled face.
The ANBU on the right side of the Hokage was holding a set of neatly folded clothes in his- or her arms while the other one on the left held his sword, which was especially made for him and on top, tied to the jade sword handle was his new porcelain mask. There were no flecks of dirt covering his shiny, white mask, yet, it still had no designs of an animals face dancing across the hard material. Two small slits ran through the area where his eyes should be, so he could be able to actually see something through the shiny, white mask and nose holes which were just large enough to inhale the right amount of oxygen.
He stared at the Hokage- through not directly into the eyes-but at the age spot resting on his cheek.
“Uzumaki Naruto.” Naruto closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, waiting patiently for the announcement to be made. “Do you wish to enter the ANBU as an active member of the organization?” the Sandaime questioned, his eyes never once leaving the 5 year old figure of a nervous blond hair boy.
Why was he even asking this question?
He kneeled onto the floor following the instructions he had been given before the meeting. “I wish to enter,” he replied.
“Do you wish to sacrifice your life for the protection and safety of Konohagakure?”
Naruto let out a breath that he hadn’t noticed he had been holding and stared boldly at the wooden floor beneath him. Was this some kind of trick question with a hidden meaning or just a no or yes answer? Why was he even so nervous?
“May I ask why?”
“It would be my honor.” He bit his inner cheek and closed his eyes for a second, trying to calm himself down. He had never been so still and patient in his life before and he also guessed this wasn’t going to be the last time he would have to be.
“If Konoha were ever fall to any other village because the people within could have cared less about anything around them, then why should I, or anyone else, help them if they were in need? They didn’t listen to the pleas of help around them but then they beg for help form those they wouldn’t help. It is their loss for acting selfish.”
There was a moment of silence when Sarutobi finally spoke again. “Would you hold a grudge against these people?”
This time Naruto did not hesitate to answer truthfully. “No but they still wouldn’t be receiving any help from me.” He looked up into the face of the Hokage and was greeted by a large, toothy smile full of pride. He turned towards the ANBU only seeing an expressionless mask staring at him, or maybe not. Both of the masks had a different yet similar design painted on carefully. On the right indicated a Dog, the lines were either straight or zigzagged painted in a bold maroon colour while the ANBU on the left, wore a mask that indicated a Cat. The lines were this time either swirls or wavy, never straight and was painted in a more calming colour: lilac.
The two ANBU suddenly nodded, their head turning towards the Hokage, widening the old man’s smile.
His head turned towards the Sandaime, this time he stared directly into the man’s eyes. He inhale sharply and quickly stood up, feeling nervous again.
“You are an official member of the ANBU,” Sarutobi announced.
Naruto’s eyes widened in glee and turned around to look at the ANBU behind him, wearing a Parrot mask with colourful designs.
The ANBU nodded and muttered something under his breath, his mask holding his word back, correction, any lower classed shinobi wouldn’t be able to hear the genderless ANBU, but he understood the ANBU perfectly.
His smile brightened even more, this wasn’t happening, this had to be a super awesome dream that felt so realistic. He turned back towards to the front again, blissfully. The two ANBU at the front were now standing in front of him with their arms stretched out with the equipment laying on them motionless. If it weren’t for the heart beats or the need for air the two could have easily been mistake as statues.
Naruto gratefully took his new uniform of the ANBU and then silently took the sword with the mask attached to it from the other. He stared at the blank mask for a while before looking up at the Sandaime. “Why is my mask white?”
The Sandaime chuckled. “Let Cat explain it to you on the way to the Headquarters. Why don’ you change?”
The blond 5 year old nodded and was about to take off his small vest, Cat coughed awkwardly. “Kid, how about you change in there,” Cat pointed towards a door next to the large brown cupboard, pretty well hidden. It was the same colour as the cream coloured wall in the office, only the white knob was seen if you looked closely enough from the distance; it was easy to over look.
Naruto flushed in embarrassment while Parrot and Dog snickered quietly, he probably wasn’t the first one who had done this mistake. He mumbled an apology only it to be waved of by the three adults and hastily went into the small changing room. He unfolded the clothes one by one, examining each in interest and in care. They were all just the basic clothing that he would need: shirt, trousers, shoes, socks, hooded cloak which swayed just above the floor and etc. nothing special, no gloves or breast-plates; he would need to buy some on his own.
Stripping himself firstly before pulling on a black, long sleeved, turtle neck shirt over his head. The Uzumaki Swirl was sewed onto the back with golden thread. At least there was still a little bit of orange.
Next, he put on a pair of dark brown trousers with pockets of any size attached to it; from finger-length thin to flat hand-sized thick. They reached his ankles comfortably and were topped by medium length hazel combat shoes that had interesting sole designs, like bird prints.
Thirdly, a khaki vest very similar to the jounin one except with far more pockets, mostly hidden and not as thick, which he wore over his new black shirt; it also had the Uzumaki Swirl but smaller and closer to his neck, trying to make it as unattractive as possible. Nobody was allowed to know who was behind the porcelain mask, at least not the lower classed shinobi and civilians.
On top of everything else, Naruto pulled the black cloak around him, leaving the large hood off.
He walked self-consciously out of the small room waiting for everyone’s reactions.
A wolf whistle went through the room. “Geez Naruto, I didn’t know a five year old were able to look hot,” complimented Parrot teasingly, making Naruto blush once again.
“Leave the kid alone Parrot, your only making him even more self-conscious than he already is,” barked Dog at Parrot, annoyed, before turning towards him. “Better if you put on your mask, we don’t want everyone to sneak a peek of your face.”
Naruto smiled and nodded before looking down at him mask; his shiny, white porcelain mask before untying it and tying it to his head, covering his face. He glimpsed uncomfortably through the small slits up at Cat, who had been silent through the little argument. He thought Cat had smiled down at him from behind the mask.
“What now?” he spoke for the first time in awhile.
“Best if we run down to the Headquarters and show you to your new room, you aren’t going to live in your apartment anymore, far too dangerous,” answered Cat.
Naruto pouted and crossed his arms. “I can take care of myself.”
Cat laughed heartily. “I know and I do not doubt it but it is far too dangerous for your new identity. What do you think if you were out in your child identity and a few villagers rob your apartment without your knowing and find the mask? What would you do?”
Naruto mouthed an ‘oh’ before realizing Cat couldn’t see him and said it quickly out loud. He turned to the Hokage and waved. “Bye Oji-san, see ya soon.”
Sarutobi laughed. “Okay, see you soon Naruto.”
The four of them left the office in silence. Dog looked down at him. “We will start explaining everything to you while we have lunch; it is best if we keep silent so no one can identify us from our voices.” Naruto nodded and then frowned. Being ANBU gave him the responsibility to complete missions perfectly without failure and the responsibility of keeping his identity secret and many more he didn’t even bother naming.
But then again, being ANBU meant that people will respect him even though they will hate him while being just the five year old demon child and he would be able to know who was behind all those masks, their gender too. It bothered him not knowing the gender of his past sensei’s which had been Cat, Blue Jay and Ferret.
He suspected that Cat was a female, once he was about to ask but kept quiet after the scene he had seen of Cat beating up the poor jounin who had asked just a simple, yet he noticed, stupid question.
All of them were walking down the corridor with their masks and oversized hoods hiding their heads making them look like intruders, frightening the passers-by slightly. Not taking another look at anyone or anything that the four passed, they all made their way to the second floor swiftly and silently before walking to the unpopular part of the Hokage’s Building where mostly ANBU, Council or the Hokage themselves only went to. This was where many scrolls, files or other important objects were held.
Cat abruptly stopped in the middle of her quick pace and turned towards the wall that had photograph of Konoha from the Fourth’s Head point of view. “White,” Cat muttered.
There was awhile of silence before Naruto notice she was talking to him.
“Call me Cat or taicho, your choice. Remember this photograph; this is a secret passage way to the Headquarters that can be used during an emergency drill or just casually. There are more around Konoha which you will find out soon enough.”
Naruto shook his head and answered with a simple ‘hn’ earning a snort from Parrot and a snicker from Dog. Cat sighed and patted Naruto’s head.
Naruto blinked in confusion. “Did I do something wrong?”
Parrot snickered and simply waved him off, ignoring him again like the ANBU did previously. He faced Dog who also waved him off, mumbling something about Uchiha corrupting the village, whatever that meant. Cat frowned again and shook its head, he seriously hated not knowing their gender, appearance or even name while they knew everything about him. It annoyed him like hell.
Well… it would soon change.
“Watch,” Cat demanded, nodding towards the door. Click Clack Click Clack Clock Click.
Naruto raised one of his golden eyebrows as the Commander started clicking her tongue repeatedly in different tones.
The picture on the wall started shaking, frightening slightly but the others acted calmly and were walking hastily nearer towards the wall. Dog had pulled Naruto along with him.
Only when the shaking started to get worse, did he start to become jumpy, playing with the hem of his sleeves.
All of a sudden, he felt himself turning. Naruto wobbled slightly and looked down at his feet, checking if he was walking sideways without him noticing it but the answer was negative and if that would ever happen he would probably need an appointment with a doctor. Then he started to examine the floor.
Naruto blinked… then he blinked again and an eyebrow rose again. The floor was moving in a circle. He looked up to be greeted by an unfamiliar surrounding; they weren’t in the deserted corridor any more.
“Where are we?” he questioned whilst studying the new surroundings.
The walls were made out of yellow sandstone but the large candle standing on the side of the passageway always opposite to each other, gave the walls a nice maroon colour.
He sniffed, what was this smell? Mint? Either way, it smelled nice.
“This is one of the passageways that will lead to the main room in the ANBU Headquarters, there are other scattered around Konoha unknown to those who have never been an ANBU member but those who have been aren’t aloud to use them,” explained Dog, its voice deep and relaxed. “The passageways are also used in an evacuation or an urgent call from the Hokage.”
“Do all of them meet up at a point?” Naruto pried curiously.
“Yeah, best if you don’t use any of the others yet,” said Dog and started walking.
“Kid, as soon as you see the Hall of Doom, you’ll get what Pup means,” claimed Parrot.
Cat and Dog laughed at Parrot.
“Nice name. Hall of Doom, why didn’t I think of this?” muttered Dog to itself but then stopped. “Parrot!”
“Yes?” Parrot asked innocently, he could almost see the halo appearing above the ANBU’s hooded head.
“What did you just call me?” Dog tapped his foot and crossed his arms; Naruto could imagine how his face looked like right now.
“Pup, why? What’s wrong honey?” The two started bickering the whole way while Cat and Naruto walked down the passageway chatting about random things that popped into their heads.
“Do they always act like this?” Naruto asked, glancing back at the two ANBU arguing about something completely different than what the subject has been a few minutes ago.
“Always, their relationship is highly competitive but they never leave each others side when one of them is in need, if Parrot is depressed Dog is always there to cheer her up and the other way around,” Cat explained. “Sadly that they don’t notice their true feelings towards each other or maybe they do but don’t dare to make a move,” this time Cat sighed and brought its hands together just in front of the chest, as if telling a prayer. “This really is a dramatic love story.”
Naruto sweatdropped at Cat’s remark and quickly made a note mentally:
• Parrot = female
• Dog = male
• Cat = either a very romantic male or a romantic female.
“Parrot and Dog are in love?” he asked but checked if the two were still arguing so the wouldn’t over hear him.
Cat nodded and looked at him, probably grinning down at him. “They told me both personally and both begged for me to keep it a secret but they both know how much I struggle keeping things secret, it pains me, so now the entire ANBU organization knows and we all try to play match maker but, sadly, it never works.”
Naruto sweatdropped again, Cat was a woman, he was positive now. He quickly made another note:
• Telling Cat secrets, unless you want the whole world to know about it.
Naruto didn’t know if she followed the crowd but she was a gossip, still very calm and organized, and far too easily trusted. That was all he had found out in the past few minutes.
In the past, when she was still training him, he had always thought Cat was a very calm, organized person who never followed the crowd, a person who was easy to trust and be sure that anything he told her would stay secret but he would have to drop the last part.
He frowned, ANBU’s were so deceiving but then again, he too will have to become like anyone else who had stepped into the organization.
“Cat, when do I find out everyone’s name?”
She looked around at him, her lilac design swirling around on her ANBU mask. Now he had only noticed how feminine the mask really looked like. “Do you want to know my name?” Naruto hesitated and nodded, preparing himself for an attack but luckily it never came, “Yamanaka Awashima.”
“You are a Yamanaka?” gasped Naruto in surprise, he hadn’t seen that coming.
Cat slowly raised her hand and slowly slipped her fingers behind the mask, and then pulled it of and pulled of the black hood belonging to the long black cloak, similar to his own.
He studied Cat’s face, something that had been hidden from him for a year and a half.
Now, Naruto was sure Cat was a female. She was very beautiful.
Her blond hair, not as bright as his own, was almost white and was tied into a bun on the back of her head so it wouldn’t irritate her during missions. Only a few stands of hair were sticking out on the sides. Her eyes were the famous pale blue as any other Yamanaka had and above them, her eyebrows were flying away.
But that wasn’t what had gotten Naruto’s attention. It was the enormous scar crossing from the top half of the right side of her forehead straight to the bottom of the left side of her chin; just missing her eyes- must have been very painful.
“My clan abandoned me,” she whispered, throwing him out of his trance.
Naruto bit his lip uncomfortably. “Yo- you don’t have to talk about it Awashi- Cat, can I call you by your name in the Headquarters?”
Awashima sighed in relief. “Thank you. There is one thing you must know when to call us by our code names or our true names. Our masks are supposed to hide our identities, every time someone has a mask on, call them by the code name. It doesn’t matter what the surroundings are, it means that we have to keep this person’s identity hidden.”
“So I can call you Awashima right now?” Naruto questioned, making sure if what he had understood was correct.
“Correct but then again, I am forbidden to call you by your name at this moment,” she explained.
He muttered out an ‘oh’ then also pulled of his hood and mask. “Better?”
Awashima nodded. “This is the first rule every ANBU member is taught. No one who is or was in ANBU is ever allowed to mention anyone’s statues as an ANBU. If someone finds out, the nearest ANBU member will have to erase their memory about this knowledge.”
Naruto whistled. “Heck of a lot of rules to remember on my first day.”
After this, the two walked on soundlessly, although Parrot and Dog were still bickering, throwing swear words to each in a faint murmur.
He narrowed his eyes, trying to make out the strange shape at the end of the tunnel but suddenly his eyes widened, they were soon reaching the end of the tunnel and the black figures were ANBU walking around.
“Are we nearly there?”
He heard a chuckled from his left side and frowned, did he say something wrong? Hanging out with adults was slowly corrupting his mind.
“No, no. We are defiantly not there yet. The people standing around there at the end are the secretaries who show you the way if you ever get lost,” Parrot explained. “Better put on your mask, they ain’t all that trustworthy I tell ya.”
Dog nodded in agreement. Awashima uttered a ‘yes’ and slipped on her mask again and hid her hair with the large, black hood. He followed their advice and copied Cat.
“When do I get to know my code name?” Naruto asked.
“As soon as your mask adapts to your style and personality,” said Dog boldly.
Parrot snorted. “As if Kiddy Winky will understand what ya are talkin’ ‘bout Pup, seriously!” she retorted, Naruto guessed she was rolling her eyes behind her colourful mask.
Naruto crossed his arms angrily, his eyebrow twitching lightly at Parrot’s remark. Kiddy Winky… who dared to call him that…
“Kiddy Winky?” he asked, watching Dog and Parrot starting to hassle again.
Parrot turned to stared at him. “It’s just a statement of fact,” she commented and turned back around again, catching Dog fist which was directed to her face.
“Ignore them,” ordered Cat, turned around t face the front again and then started walking again; swift and elegant, like all ANBU walked.
He wondered if he walked this elegant or did he still walk as loud as an elephant? Like a new born foal. Naruto hoped not.
The four of them arrived at the hall.
One, two, three… how many entrances are there?! Naruto panicked as he stared at each of the hundreds of tunnels. “Parrot.”
“Yes brat?” Parrot replied.
Naruto sweatdropped, what was she going to call him next? “I think you’re correct. This really is the Hall of Doom.”
The passers-by who overheard him snickered but soon carried on with their work. The Hall was large; it needed to be kept up by a gigantic boulder in the middle which was made out of… some kind of crimson stone. In the middle there was a large circular desk with many secretaries sitting there; chatting, sorting out files or helping out the other ANBU that were lost in this hall.
At every entrance stood a wooden desk and a cupboard standing behind it, probably containing documents. Each tunnel had a name and number, for whichever you can remember the easiest.
Cat walked straight towards the centre of the hall, making her way to the large, circular desk. “Could we have an I.D done for White-san over here please,” she said, stepping aside so the lady could have a good look at Naruto.
“Absolutely Cat-san, please wait over there in the waiting area. It will be finished in a minute,” she pointed at a group of large, auburn Armchairs. Naruto plumbed into the chair exhausted and sighed. The day has only started and he was already drained of his energy. He dropped his eye lids.
He woke up with Parrot shaking him wildly. “Wakey, wakey White-san, I.D’s finished.”
Naruto groaned and stood up, then walked over to the tunnel entrance Dog and Cat were waiting at.
“You must be tired,” said Dog. “I remember my first day being the same.”
“But you weren’t five years old, were you?”
“True, I wasn’t.”
The secretary nodded politely in acknowledgement. “I.D, please.”
Naruto eyed the woman puzzled. Why would you need an I.D to be able to pass through a tunnel within Konoha? He watched as Dog handed the lady a glossy card and nodded at him sideways and then started searching for his own.
The secretary had long chocolate hair, neatly tied into a French Braid. Under her barely visible eyebrows, hazel eyes stared down at him curiously.
Parrot was the first one who found it and pulled it out, his- or her gloved hand holding a piece a laminated glossy paper.
He narrowed his eyes to see clearer. There was a picture of a woman, about twenty years old. He couldn’t really say because her face was covered with a white mask, the same porcelain mask he was wearing now, the white, shiny mask. Sangria coloured hair was sticking out from behind the mask, giving the new person a wild and friendly appearance, tied into cornrows and was held up by a khaki ribbon.
Naruto gasped, this was Parrot. This had been Parrot when she had first arrived at ANBU.
The secretary coughed, trying to get his attention. “Honey, why are you already an ANBU member, aren’t you a little too young to be one already?”
Cat shook her head. “It’s best for White-san; the life outside the ANBU is hard for felen.” Naruto’s eyebrow rose. Felen? What kind of word was that? Did it even exist?
The secretary frowned. “Still, fele is a little too young to be doing assassination missions. How old is fele? Five?” she protested.
“We cannot answer your questions but believe us, this is the best for him. We too, would want him to have a real childhood but the villagers don’t give felen a chance,” explained Dog. “But I will personally make sure on what missions fele will be sent on, we will not corrupt him and alter fele into a perfect weapon like Uchiha-san had done with his own son, Uchiha Itachi.”
The secretary nodded in agreement but the frown was still pressed bitterly on her face. “Please do so,” she looked down at Naruto and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Take care of yourself honey; please refuse any assassination missions if possible.”
He nodded. “I will Secretary-san.”
“Call me Niji,” she insisted.
He nodded dumbly before she let him go from her hard grip. He mouthed ‘ouch’ to himself silently and nodded again along with following the three adults but not before snatching his newly made I.D from the hardwood desk.
As soon as they were far enough, Parrot and Dog started teasing him about attracting far too many females who were already decades older than him. Naruto ignored them. “Cat.”
“What does fele and felen mean?”
“Fele means he or she used for those who are in ANBU wanting to hide their sexuality, you must have noticed it feels awkward calling an ANBU ‘it’,” she said.
“Yes, very,” he confirmed.
“So we use fele. Felen represents him or her and felens means hers or his. It is as easy as that.”
“Ahh, this makes life easier,” he whispered to himself.
Awhile later, they reached the end of the tunnel. They stepped out into a sunny field, a large mansion standing at the side.
Naruto gasped, it was huge. The mansion was build out of Connemara marble, giving it the appearance of an elegant and fine look. Many ANBU members were hanging around outside; taking walks, picking flowers, sitting on the benches, just lying on the grass watching the clouds pass (if there even were clouds) and ex cetera.
Half of the building was overgrown with ivy but left the windows free, letting them reflect the bright sunshine.
Naruto hadn’t expected this; he had always thought that the Headquarters were cold and bitter, not bright, sunny, friendly and absolutely not this welcoming.
Guess he had been proven wrong.
He turned to Cat, Dog and Parrot to find them without their masks. Cat without a mask wasn’t a surprise anymore but the other two looked as interesting as Awashima had.
Dog had copper hair that was knotted into dreadlocks which reached about his mid-chest if they were left untied by the brown hair band that held them back in a low ponytail. He had dark olive skin tone and two dark observant eyes were hidden under bushy eyebrows.
Dog gave him a toothy smile. “Weren’t expecting dreadlocks, were you?”
“No,” he turned towards Parrot and examined her. She looked cheeky.
Her sangria coloured hair was tied into cornrows and held up by a khaki ribbon; the same as he had seen on the picture. And her face wasn’t exactly what he had expected either.
Her skin was exactly the opposite from Dog, very pale, almost as white as the porcelain from her mask. Her face was sprinkled with thousands of tiny freckles and two baby blue eyes were staring at him. She grinned down at him, blinding him with her glittering teeth in the sunlight. “Ya weren’t expecting something like this either brat, were ya?”
Naruto shook his head once more before pulling off his own mask from his face and pushed his hood off. It was nice to be uncovered again; it was humid under the thick clothing. He whipped of some sweat from his forehead.
“Ya’ll get use to this Tiny, some time and it’ll be your secon’ skin before ya know it!” Parrot exclaimed and put an arm around him, squeezing him tightly and started walking towards the mansion, dragging him along.
Many stared at the two of them in curiosity while others came up to them, greeting them with handshakes or for Parrot kisses on each side of her cheek, though only the females did so.
As they stepped inside the mansion, the door had been styled by the finest carpenter there was in Konoha, as Parrot had told him; Dog and Awashima followed the two silently, occasionally adding a few words of correction to Parrot’s blabbing.
“Oh, brat forgot to tell ya, my name is Cynthia Paint, don’t bother askin’ where I came from ‘cause I dunno and this over there,” she pointed at Dog with her thumb. “Is Sato Ichiro. Call me Cynthia or if ya can’t spell it then just Candle, everyone calls me that.”
“Candle?” Naruto inquired.
“It’s because of her beautiful, dark red hair but she sadly ties her glossy hair into cornrows making it look worthless and ugly,” Awashima sighed and flipped an imagined tear of her cheek. “It is so dramatic.”
Ichiro and Naruto sweatdropped at the woman’s- rather strange- behavior.
Naruto then ignored the three and studied his surroundings, a filled corridor with many ANBU, with and without masks.
The ceilings were average height and held large lamps, very plain yet elegant. The walls were rowed with wooden doors, many of them had signs on them e.g. Dinning Hall.
Fewer of them didn’t.
“As you may have noticed,” Ichiro started. “Not all of the doors have signs hanging on them; it means that it is a dorm room for those who don’t have a family down at the village, it would be unreasonable for them to come here for most of the day and then just go back down to be greeted by an empty apartment.”
“True,” Naruto agreed.
“Or for those who don’t have a reason to stay down at the village.”
They walked on until they reached the end of the hall. Naruto stared at the enormous double door blocking their way. Awashima knocked politely then entered.
“I thought Awashima was the ANBU Commander?” questioned Naruto, surprised.
Ichiro looked down at him surprised. “No. How did you come to this conclusion?”
“I thought the Commander had to be at the promotion, I guessed Awashima was; you looked a little… less leader-like.”
He accepted his answer peacefully, at least he thought so, who knew what went on in that man’s head?
Naruto faced the front and gasped. How could someone look so…
Chapter notes: Hope you like it.
Chapter end notes: Please comment...