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Disclaimer : Own Naruto I do not.
Arc 01 Childhood: Chapter 01: Ignorance.
In the private training grounds of the Namikaze estate a mother and father were watching in pride as their Five year old daughter went through a basic Taijutsu kata. Sloppily throwing a last combo: punch, kick, kick, punch, she happily turned to face her parents.
"Kaa-chan! Tou-chan! How was that?" She yelled, her shoulder length vibrant red hair bouncing as she spun around, stumbled, and landed on all fours.
"You're getting better every time Kasumi-chan! Carry on like that and you'll be the best kunoichi in Konoha in no time!" The man stepped forwards and picked her up in a warm hug. He stood at 5 foot 11 inches tall, with spiky sun kissed blond hair and light blue eyes. He was dressed in a standard Konoha Jounin outfit, with his hitai-ate on his forehead. He smiled fondly at her as he put her back on her feet.
"You were great Kasumi-chan, we're both very proud of you." The woman said as she knelt down and embraced her daughter. She stood at 5 foot 4 inches. Her hair, the same colour as her daughter's, fell all the way down to her waist. She wore a short sleeved orange blouse under a black housedress, and heeled kunoichi sandals. Dusting of the dirt from the girls cloths she turned her around and pushed her towards the large house.
"Come on! That's enough training for today! Let's go get something to eat!"
From the split in an otherwise curtained third floor window, a young boy scowled as he watched his 'family' walk up to the house.
FLASHBACK: 10 MONTHS EARLIER.
"But, Otou-san why can't you just train us both at the same time? I want to be a Ninja too!" The child pleaded as he tried to ignore the smug looks his younger twin sister was sending him.
He already knew that it was a lost cause, his sister always got what she wanted. The whole village loved her. The few times Naruto had been out he had been glared and whispered at as if he had committed some heinous crime. Of course that was only when he went alone. If he was with his family people would mostly ignore him.
"I said no, Naruto! You'll get training when you start at the academy like the other children. Kasumi-chan is special and needs the extra training so she can control her power and use it properly." Minato bit out in a rather fed up voice, leaving no room for argument.
Seeing her husband's patience wearing thin, Kushina decided to step in before someone said something they would regret. She understood her son's disappointment. If she had been put in the same position when she was his age, she would have ranted about it to no end. Unfortunately for him, Kasumi's training was going to revolve around getting her ready to use the Kyuubi's youki. There would be a lot of physical training at first, but that was only so that her body would be able to withstand the strain that the usage of the youki would put her under.
While they could include Naruto in the training, so that he got a head start on the physical conditioning that he would be put through at the academy. Minato felt that it would be best to focus their attention on their daughter in case something went wrong. Naruto would be angry at them, she knew that, but she knew that they would easily be able to make it up to him later on.
Kushina knelt down in front of her son and gave him a gentle but firm smile. "stop arguing with your father and go to your room Naruto-kun."
Naruto scowled angrily but didn't say anything. He spun around and stomped up the stairs. When he got to his room, he flopped down in a corner with his back to the wall and hugged his knees to his chest.
"Stupid parents! Stupid Kasumi! Why can't they just train us both at the same time?"
"Because they're idiots, that's why!"
"Gyaa!" Naruto jumped to his feet, swinging his head wildly from side to side trying to find who the booming voice belonged to. "Who's there?"
The voice tinted with amusement. "I'm in your head brat! Just think your answers, you look stupid talking to yourself."
Naruto's eyes widened as he comically covered his ears with his hands. "What do you mean you're in my h… Kyuubi?"
A small appreciative chuckle echoed through his head. "Indeed."The tone became a bit annoyed. "Did you not understand me when I said to think your answers?"
He flinched and dipped his head apologetically. 'Sorry…'
Contrary to what many would expect, Naruto wasn't afraid of the fact that he had a several hundred foot high creature of destruction talking in his head. He already knew about the Bijuu's soul being sealed in him. He and his sister had been informed of the Kyuubi's true fate shortly after their third birthday when Kasumi had accidentally let out a burst of its youki.
Naruto sighed and slumped back down to the floor dejectedly. In truth he hadn't expected to be able to convince his father to let him join in the training sessions. Ever since they had been told about the Kyuubi, Naruto had come to notice how their parents always seemed to favour Kasumi. He had noticed it even before then. But he had always thought it was somehow his fault, that he was either doing something wrong that made them love his sister more, or that he was just childishly blowing things out of proportion. But once he knew that there was something different, something totally out of his control, that made his parents prefer his sister to him… he slowly began giving up on them.
He made overtures from time to time. He would suggest that they go to the cultural museum, rather than to the latest Yukie Fujikaze film that Kasumi wanted to see. He would suggest that they eat Gyuudon, rather than Kasumi's favourite Ramen. It wasn't that he didn't like Yukie Fujikaze films, or Ramen. In fact he was quite fond of Princess Gale's adventures. It was simply a test to see if they would ever choose him over her…
…they never did.
Naruto knew that he was a strange child. He didn't have any friends, but he did know that he was the only kid around who spent more time reading than he did playing. During some of his few trips to the public library he had heard people muttering about it being unnatural for such a young child to be looking for books on chakra, Taijutsu or history, and that it must be the Kyuubi's influence showing through. It was the sort of comment that really hurt. Not because they were being mean to him, but because he knew that if it Kasumi went looking for the exact same information they would praise her as child prodigy.
The whole village knew that the Kyuubi's power was sealed in his sister. They loved her because they believed she would one day be their most powerful guardian, some already said she would make a good Godaime, which was rather sad considering she couldn't walk straight yet.
He snorted. The entire village hated him. They saw him as a reminder of how powerless they had been that day, and as an insult to those who died that fateful night.
The Kyuubi's demonic voice once again sounded in his head. "If you're quite finished drowning yourself in pity, maybe we can discuss some things?"
Naruto flinched reflexively. Having that voice in his head would take some getting used to. 'How come you can talk to me now?'
For some reason he got the distinct impression of a nonchalant shrug. "I've always been able to talk to you Brat. I just didn't see the point. Anyways, I've got a proposal. I'll help you train since your parents don't want to, but you have to promise not to tell anyone about me."
He blinked. He hadn't even thought of telling his parents. But then again, he hadn't intended to not tell them either. He just hadn't thought about it one way or the other.
He let his right leg straighten out, then rested his elbow on his left knee and his chin on his elbow. Settled in the new, and more comfortable, position he reflected on the matter.
The fact that he hadn't even considered telling them was strange in, and of, itself. He had seen Kasumi running amok around the house, searching high and low, just to tell their parents that she had seen a funny paper butterfly. And yet he, upon finding that he could talk to a Bijuu in his head, had not even contemplated telling them.
He pushed the thoughts aside. It wasn't that strange, given the division that was growing between himself and the rest of the Namikaze family. Nonetheless, he found it suspicious that Kyuubi asked him not to talk about it.
'Why can't I tell them?'
"Because fool, if they find out your father will change the seal so that I can't talk to you. Then my life will be even more boring, and you won't have anyone to train you. So, what do you say?"
Naruto grunted at her snappish tone but acknowledged the veracity of her statement. 'OK! I promise! Now, what sort of training can you help me with?'
"Come on brat! Break's over! Get back to work!"
Naruto sighed and stepped back, letting the curtain close and the darkness swallow his room. As it turned out, the Kyuubi's 'help' was more of the motivational sort. He snorted, slave driver was more like it. He was either training or learning something at every waking moment of the day, usually combining more than one exercise at a time. It was hard work, very hard work, but the results were obvious. Or the would be obvious if anyone paid the slightest bit of positive attention to him.
He still had to do all his research by himself. Not that that bothered him. Kyuubi would simply be an extra eye that would help him shave off even the slightest imperfections. The Demon was also a fountain of historical knowledge, often times pointing out 'mistakes' in the history books where they had been… 'adjusted' things to make what really happened seem more acceptable.
Naruto bent his knees a little and pushed up, flipping over as he sprung towards the ceiling. As soon as his feet made contact he channelled chakra into them, sticking to the upside down surface with practiced ease. He then let a constant flow of chakra seep into the seal engraved bracelets on his wrists and ankles.
The seals were one of Minato's earlier creations that, by feeding off of a constant stream of chakra, made it harder for the user to move, as if they were submerged in a heavy and viscous liquid. Naruto had salvaged the equipment when Kasumi had chucked it aside. Her large and uncontrolled chakra reserves making her produce too large a flow and leaving her unable to move at all.
Feeling the restriction wash over his body, Naruto settled into a stance.
The 'darkness training' was a method that forced him to rely on proprioception, rather than vision, to perfect and memorise the flow between stances. His father had personally placed privacy seals in all the bedrooms in the Namikaze mansion, and he kept those in his room activated at almost all times, so there weren't any outside audio disturbances. Being mostly deprived of the two senses that Shinobi most relied upon, he was able to pay much more attention to the intricacies of his own movements.
He weaved gracefully from one stance to the next, never faltering from in his upside down position, never wavering under the increased resistance. His breathing remained steady, almost silent as he punched kicked and turned with increasing speed. His execution was perfect, not a single wasted movement nor a bead of sweat on his body.
He came to a stop in the same position he had started, panting slightly from the drain on his reserves but holding himself impeccably nonetheless.
"Good… Now increase your chakra flow and start again."
Naruto ignored the glare from the pink haired thing with an overly large forehead that passed for a librarian as he walked out of the Main Konoha Library. While searching the Namikaze Library back at the mansion he had found that, while there were numerous advanced books and priceless scrolls on Fuuinjutsu, there was a distinct lack of low level material. Knowing better than to dive into such a potentially dangerous subject without a firm knowledge of the basics he had resigned himself to making the bothersome journey through the unwelcoming streets of Konoha so as to find the appropriate material.
He glanced down at the book in his hands.
AN INTRODUCTION TO FUUINJUTSU.
Getting the book hadn't been hard, other than the expected muttering and not so discreet curses. He knew that Fuuinjutsu wasn't only considered a ninja art, a careful observer could probably find at least one low level seal in every house in Konoha.
Kyuubi had also told him about the various Storage Seals and Safety Seals that Daimyos used, as well as some of the masterfully crafted blades of old that allowed skilled samurai to use techniques that could easily rival and A-Rank jutsu. So, while he would certainly be proficient in Ninjutsu with his already mid-Gennin level reserves, Kenjutsu with his Uzumaki legacy, and other arts through sheer hard work (otherwise known as Kyuubi the slave driver), he felt that Fuuinjutsu was a skill that he could truly dedicate himself to.
He knew that there was probably a part of him that also hoped to gain his father's favor by following in his footsteps, but that was a childish thought.
He stopped, frowning as he stood out of the way of the passing pedestrians. 'The thought may be childish but… I'm not even six yet. I am a child! It's normal for me to think childish thoughts.'
He nodded to himself and walked on.
But another frown creased his brow. It may be normal for me to think childish thoughts. But is it normal for me to know that I'm thinking childish thoughts?'
He shook his head in exasperation. These leaps and jumps and ponderings of logic were getting more and more frequent. He had always been smart, so was Kasumi. But ever since he had made contact with the Kyuubi… at times it was as if he had the input of many people put together.
He pushed the idea aside, flipping his book open and starting to read so as to distract himself. He skimmed with mild interest through the preface and the author's personal ramblings before coming to the first chapter.
FUUINJUTSU RANKING BAR, AND SCALE OF PROGRESS.
As an ancient Art, the practitioners of Fuuinjutsu are scaled by a ranking different to that of ninja skills.
The lowest level is that of Novice. At this level the greatest concern is to learn how to write, inscribe, etc. The importance of a well written kanji is the first priority to any aspiring Fuuinjutsu user since the consequences of a poorly written array can be disastrous. Fortunately, a 'bad' seal is more liable to simply not produce any sort of result than it is to explode.
The second level is that of Journeyman. At this level the Fuuinjutsu user should concentrate on increasing his or her repertoire. Very few ever progress to the higher stages of this level since it requires both dedication and considerable intellect. The Fuuinjutsu user must learn to understand how the seal works and how to modify it to produce the desired effects.
The third level is that of Master. At this level the Fuuinjutsu user dedicates him or herself to the creation of original seals. In ancient times the only way to progress to this level was by submitting an original seal to a guild of Masters and having them judge it worthy. Very few ever progress to such a level of competency, to the point where, at any given time, it is often possible to count the number of true seal masters on the fingers of ones hands. Perhaps the greatest and most renowned examples of these Masters' skills are the Summoning Contracts and their ability to bend the laws of Time and Space.
Naruto frowned as he turned the page. The book was probably a good fifty years old, so he guessed that it may be a bit out of date, but he was certain that he had heard his father and godfather saying that Space-Time Fuuinjutsu was at a level beyond Master since Jiraiya, an accredited Master, wasn't capable of it.
He shrugged and went on reading, he was far from that level yet so there was no point worrying about it.
GENERIC SEALING TECHNIQUE.
Since the advent of academic ninja training the usage of the basic sealing techniques, commonly referred to as 'Storage Seals' or 'Storage Scrolls', has been considered an Academy Level skill. The practicality of said technique, not only in missions but in everyday life, is such that many civilians such as Daimyos, bankers, secretaries and merchants, also use the less chakra expensive versions on a regular basis.
When in use, the 'sealed object' is placed in a closed spherical space often referred to as a 'Pocket Dimension'. While inside this space the sealed object is outside of all external influences, including the passing of time. This makes it an extremely useful tool for transporting fresh foods and supplies without taking up too much space or weight.
Whilst the usage of the Generic Sealing Technique is a low level skill accessible to any chakra user, the creation is an entirely different matter. The most basic Storage Seals are classed as Novice Level Fuuinjutsu, and as such are usually not attempted before reaching the rank of Chuunin.
To create a low level Generic Sealing Array one must take into consideration the overall weight of…
Naruto let out a dull grunt as he was sent sprawling to the ground, barely keeping hold of the book in his hand. He looked up and had to restrain a groan when he saw a group of teenage boys crowding around him. Then he saw the group of teenage girls standing behind them, giggling stupidly as they watched the 'big strong men'.
Kyuubi snorted. "Stupid humans and their stupid pre-mating rituals."
Naruto sighed and put the book in his back pocket. He knew he would get in trouble if it was damaged, even if it wasn't his fault. He got back to his feet and kept an indifferent façade as they started shoving him around. He didn't respond to their jeers, nor defend himself against the rough contact. He had learnt that it was best not to resist because it made them loose interest faster.
"Hey! What's going on here?" He snapped his wandering mind back to the present when the angry female voice made itself known. "Stop that right now!"
He turned with a raised eyebrow as the woman stomped over, her glowering expression sending the teens running.
She rushed over to him and bent to his eye level with her hands resting on her knees. "Are you alright?"
Naruto blinked in surprise, then blushed at the genuine concern in both her voice and her onyx black eyes. Not trusting his voice, he nodded dumbly.
She smiled down at him warmly and set about straightening his ruffled clothes and patting his unruly hair.
"I don't know what those ruffians were thinking! Their parents should be ashamed! Are you sure you're alright dear?…"
Naruto remained speechless as she fussed over him more than his own mother ever had. He knew that she was an Uchiha, her black eyes and black hair were easy giveaways. He briefly wondered if she'd be so nice if she realised who he was.
"…You're Kushina-chan's little boy aren't you?…"
Well that answered that.
He nodded back, once, slowly and hesitantly. She had been nice so far, but there was no telling what she would be like once she received confirmation of who he was.
To his mild surprise she just grinned at him and picked up two grocery bags that he hadn't noticed.
With her kind smile still in place, she tilted her head towards the clan district. "Come on, I'll walk you home."
Naruto blinked. "That's okay, you don't have to. I don't want to be a bother."
"Nonsense! Besides, it's on my way. Come on!"
When they got to the front gates of the Namikaze mansion she rummaged around in her bags, fished out a small pack of sweets, gave them to him, ruffled his hair, then walked off with a cheery wave and yet another smile, leaving a dumbfounded Naruto staring at her retreating form owlishly with a small pack of candy in his hand.
He didn't even know her name.