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Silent Guardians


The end of the Fourth War left a dying Naruto and Shikamaru as the only survivors. Kurama, feeling the two fading, acted fast and sent them back to their genin days to make sure the war never came to pass.

Chapter 1

"Is it over?" Shikamaru's voice carried over the silent battlefield.

The bloody, broken, and burned remains of every ninja who fought bravely in the 4th Shinobi War lay in the massive area that extended as far as the eye could see and further. Shikamaru Nara, chief strategist for the Allied Shinobi Forces, personal advisor to the Rokudaime Hokage, and Commander of the ANBU was on his back staring up at the dark blood red sky above. The clouds he had loved to look at had virtually disappeared from the world and darkness had taken hold. A long gash, starting at his right shoulder and making its way diagonally down to his left hip, was staining his ripped and dirty green flak jacket with blood. He could feel the last of his chakra slipping away. He was dying and he knew it.

"It's finally over." Naruto answered. He was the only person left to answer Shikamaru's question.

The Rokudaime Hokage, leader of the Allied Shinobi Forces, Seal Master and Toad Sage and jinchūriki of the Nine-Tailed Fox was lying next to his best friend, his brother. His whole body was covered in blood and Naruto couldn't tell where the pain was coming from as all his nerves were being cut off. His chakra was just as bad off as Shikamaru's. He was dying and he knew it.

"It's been an honor Shika." Naruto rasped out, turning his head to the side with the last of his strength to look at the Nara.

"Likewise Hokage-sama… No matter how troublesome it was." Shikamaru turned his head to face his Hokage with a small smile on his lips. "Nar…I always knew you would be Hokage, even back in the academy." he admitted.

"Shikamaru… Thank you." Naruto whispered and tried not to tear up himself as he spotted a single tear make its way down the Nara's pale cheek, cutting through the blood and grime.

"Like hell I'm going to let you die. It wasn't meant to end like this." Kurama growled from inside his and Naruto's shared mindspace.

"If you want to leave, I can use the last of my energy to break the seal… You will be free…" Naruto said back. Even his mental voice sounded drained.

"There is nothing left out there and I refuse to let you two die. As much as I loathe admitting it, you made life interesting. You and your friend may be ready to die, but I'm sure as hell not. Tell Shikamaru to hang on, we are going to stop all of this from ever happening." Kurama huffed, gathering his and his siblings' remaining chakra.

"Shika… The furball says he can stop this from happening. All of it…" Naruto croaked.

"…We have nothing else to lose, Kaguya and Zetsu took everything from us… I'll follow your lead like always Hokage-sama." Shikamaru said with a hint of the steel he used when ordering his ANBU around still heard in his hoarse voice.

"Do it." Naruto told Kurama.

Rainbow chakra borrowed from the Tailed Beasts leaked from Naruto's stomach, reaching out and wrapping itself around the Uzumaki-Namikaze and the last Nara. The chakra flared up and a large crack echoed across the mass grave for the fallen as the two dying bodies of the Leaf nin faded out of this plane. Slowly the battlefield started to fade away, the jutsu working and the timeline being destroyed, hopefully to never return.

Fluffy white clouds softly floated across the bright blue sky as a slight breeze carried them. Leaves rustled across the hill overlooking Konoha in the Land of Fire, the wind gently caressing the two 12-year-olds who lay on the grassy hill sleeping deeply. Out of nowhere rainbow chakra engulfed their bodies and slight changes were made to the genin.

The first genin was one Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze and the second was Shikamaru Nara. Naruto's seal lit up in a color spectrum as it changed to match the same seal he got from Rikudo in the future showing the Magatama Beads instead of the seal his father had placed on him. Some major scars appeared on his body, including the scar from taking Sasuke's Chidori in the chest. Shikamaru only gained some scars, including the one from his shoulder to his hip that had been killing him ever-so-slowly in the future. They both gained their red ANBU tattoos on their upper left arms.

Naruto's cerulean eyes opened and his whole body tensed out of habit. His eyes darted around taking in every detail, but at the same time not really seeing anything at all. Not until he landed on Shikamaru's 12-year-old body lying unconscious next to him.

"Shika!" Naruto crawled over to his best friend and gently shook him. "Wake up you lazy Nara, it worked! Kurama's jutsu worked!" Naruto exclaimed, taking in his own 12-year-old body and his 'kill me orange' jumpsuit.

"God Nar, you're too loud…" Shikamaru groaned as he sat up, hand against his head. He blinked a few times and slowly took in his smaller body, Naruto's genin form and orange jumpsuit, and the view of Konoha from the hill.

"Oh hell." Shikamaru stated.

"I know, right? It's all still here! Everyone is still alive! Kurama did it! We can change everything!" Naruto jumped up onto his feet and started to pace, hand going up to grip his spiky blond hair.

His words exhibited excitement, but his actions expressed his worry and uncertainty. Shikamaru could easily pick up on his hidden feelings behind his words and actions. The Nara picked himself up off the ground, dusted off his brown pants and grabbed Naruto by his shoulders and locked eyes with him.

"Hokage-sama, you need to breathe." Shikamaru said- a phrase he used a lot during strategy meetings for the war whenever it all overwhelmed the still too young Hokage. Naruto took a deep breath in and released it. He repeated this several times before he relaxed and flashed that bright smile of his at Shikamaru.

"Thank you Shika… We need to think about this logically." He guessed at what the Nara was going to say next.

"Logically? Kurama sent us back to the past! There is nothing logical about that! Do you know how he did this?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow and the two lowered themselves back onto the hillside. The duo gazed at Konoha silently, taking in every detail they could. From the slitted pupils Naruto was sporting Shikamaru knew the blond was talking with the Nine-Tails.

A sudden release of air drew Shikamaru's attention back to his Hokage. "I can't get to his area of our mindscape. I think whatever he did drained him of almost all his power and right now he is laying dormant." Naruto reported back as his pupils returned to normal.

"If we are truly back in the past, then we need to assess where our abilities are at, if we traveled with our chakra, skills, and whatnot. Tomorrow we can plan out what we need to do if we are to change the future." Shikamaru suggested.

"Got it. Training area 11 is usually empty." Naruto stood up and Shikamaru followed closely.

"Kai!" Naruto shouted after a few steps. "This isn't genjutsu. So this is really happening."

"I guess it is…" Shikamaru nodded after doing a genjutsu check of his own.

"Hold on!" Naruto quickly drew out a seal on some spare paper and a brush he found in his pack. He placed one of the seals on his left thigh, the seal sinking under the fabric and did the same to Shikamaru. "This will disguise our chakra so it's back to the way it felt during our genin years."

"I knew I would wear off on you." Shikamaru smirked and the blond slugged his brother's arm good-naturedly.

The two headed towards said training ground, they could have run there, but they just opted to walk through Konoha instead to take it all in. Shikamaru walked just slightly behind and to the right of Naruto, his usual position in the future. His eyes darted around the village, subconsciously taking in any and all threats and escape routes. By doing this, he saw the hate filled glares that were sent Naruto's way, along with some parents pulling their kids away from the orange clad genin.

"Leave it Shika. It doesn't faze me anymore." Naruto's voice pierced Shikamaru's rather destructive train of thought, as he knew exactly what the shadow user was thinking.

"How you are still loyal to a village that hates you and beats you is beyond me." Shikamaru grunted, shoving his hands in his pockets to keep up his slacker image and to keep himself from pulling out a kunai and gutting everyone who glared at his brother, his Hokage, like he was worse than dirt.

"It's in my blood, but my precious people are here and I could never leave them." Naruto answered smoothly and Shikamaru only grunted once more. Shikamaru personally thought that the Yellow Flash and the Red Hot Habanero wouldn't mind gutting a few of these villagers for the way they treated their son, but he held his tongue.

The duo arrived at the empty training ground 11 and with hardly a look exchanged between the two the time travellers instantly pulled out kunai and shuriken. The genin threw them towards nearby trees to get an idea of where their accuracy lay. Surprising both of them, their weapons hit dead on with almost Tenten accuracy, much like their aim in the future.

"If our accuracy with kunai and shurikens are this good, then our kenjutsu must have come with us as well." Shikamaru surmised and glanced over to see Naruto had henged a kunai into a basic katana and was swinging it around in a graceful arc.

"That's an affirmative." Naruto nodded as he let the henge disappear and he dropped his kunai back in his leg holster.

"Let's give our ninjutsu a shot." Shikamaru stepped back as Naruto did his signature hand sign.

"Shadow Clone." Naruto intoned and the training ground became filled with a hundred of orange clad Narutos.

"How many did you aim to make?" Shikamaru asked, amused, as he was currently being held above the head of one of the clones.

"I was aiming for ten." Naruto huffed and Shikamaru's eyes widened.

"You tried for ten and you got a hundred?" Shikamaru felt the urge to slap his forehead.

"Yeah… Looks like our chakra control is shit eh?" The blond laughed loudly.

"Shadow Possession Jutsu." Shikamaru made his signature hand seal and watched as his shadow stretched out over the entire training ground, catching every single one of the clones plus some falling leaves.

"Huh." He managed to keep it for a full minute before he felt a strain on his chakra and he released it.

"You two, rasengan. You four, rasenshuriken, and you try out the hiraishin." Naruto ordered with ease as the unneeded clones disappeared. He stepped back to watch the clones try his signature jutsus.

The two creating the rasengan did it successfully after a few tries. The two dealing with the rasenshuriken, not so much. In fact it pretty much exploded, but the four clones jumped in the way of the explosion protecting Naruto and Shikamaru. The final clone disappeared and Naruto frowned at all the intel that came back to him.

"It seems I can't do my dad's hiraishin just yet. Rasenshuriken was overloaded with raw chakra and couldn't keep its form while the rasengan managed to stay formed with a lot of focus." Naruto surmised.

"So using our elemental chakra could be difficult… Doton: Barrier Jutsu." Shikamaru slammed his palms onto the ground and saw that a 10-foot wall of solid earth rose up from inches in front of his palms. He covered his head as the wall shook before it exploded into millions of slivers of earth.

"Difficult huh?" Naruto quirked an eyebrow as he pulled himself out from behind a tree, dust and rock pieces covering his jumpsuit.

"More like troublesome." Shikamaru amended pinching the bridge of his nose.

"We lack chakra control…" He was cut off by a tree falling over to show Naruto standing there with chakra swirling around his right foot, a confused look on his face.

"I was going to try tree walking but it just broke…" Naruto explained.

"As I was saying… we lack any and all decent chakra control." Shikamaru dusted himself off and sunk into a taijutsu stance, signaling Naruto to do the same.

Their taijutsu was a mixture of the basic academy style, Gai and Lee's along with the Hyuuga's Jukenpo. They breezed through their basic katas before they locked eyes and after a few long moments. Naruto gave a small shrug of his shoulders and they both faced a tree. They had no idea of their skill in taijutsu at this time and didn't want to hurt the other just in case.

"Konoha Whirlwind!" Naruto did Lee's signature taijutsu move and stared in shock as the attack took down around seven trees. Shikamaru meanwhile did a few palm hits from Neji and Hinata's Jukenpo and watched in amazement as the tree trunk shattered.

"This could be an issue…" Shikamaru stated unnecessarily.

"We are beyond screwed!" Naruto threw his hands up in the air.

"We just need training… intense training." Shikamaru rubbed his head as his mind worked out the problem that lay before them.

"We have time to work on it later. Right now I'm starving and I need a solid night of sleep someplace safe." Naruto rubbed his stomach as he sat down. Shikamaru sat across from his Hokage while rubbing his eyes tiredly.

"There are some things we need to discuss first Nar." Shikamaru said stubbornly not letting Naruto's wide blue eyes distract him from speaking like it did so many others. One of the other reasons why he was such a good advisor, he knew all of Naruto's tricks and could stay strong.

"Like what?" He asked cautiously.

"The kill me orange jumpsuit you are now wearing. I know that we cannot change our clothes too soon, as it will raise more questions than we already will get once people see our different personalities, but maybe we can change our clothes sooner than last time? I refuse for my Hokage to be viewed in that any longer than needed." Shikamaru huffed, squinting his eyes at the neon orange jumpsuit.

"All fair points Shikamaru. I think after the chunin exams would be a good time for an upgrade." Naruto conceded the point as he plucked at the orange pant leg. "You just have to promise me something Shika."

"Anything." came Shikamaru's instant reply. He trusted Naruto with everything.

"Eat more." Naruto stated calmly. He gently grasped Shikamaru's pale wrist and let his index finger and thumb encircle it easily.

"I will if you do." Shikamaru jabbed Naruto in the ribs where the Nara knew he would be able to count the bones on the blond's rib cage. While traveling with Jiraiya, the Sannin had made sure Naruto was well fed and got enough sleep no matter the circumstances. But before that…

"I'll try, but at this point in time, the villagers still hate me…" Naruto trailed off and Shikamaru growled lowly under his breath before he stood up, dragging the blond ninja with him.

"You are coming home with me." Shikamaru said in his ANBU commander, no nonsense tone of voice.

"What? Shika… I can't…" Naruto trailed off. Shikamaru stood in front of the smaller blond and pressed his lips together in a harsh line.

"You are my brother Naruto." Shikamaru stressed. "My clan is made up of geniuses, if anyone can understand that you are not the Kyuubi then it is them. They will know you are only the jailer and I refuse to let you go back to that shithole you call an apartment. We both need food and good nights sleep someplace safe. If my family doesn't want you there, then we will go back to your apartment together." Shikamaru stressed his words again.

"Besides, once my mom sees you, she will smother you. Also… I don't know if I can face my mom and dad without you…" Shikamaru swallowed around the lump in his throat.

"Here I thought I had a way with words." Naruto joked weakly before he squeezed Shikamaru's shoulder. "I'll be right beside you… brother."

"Good." Shikamaru blushed and the two headed towards where the Nara clan home was located, all of them still alive and thriving.

"I'm right here Shika." Naruto murmured to the Nara beside him.

"Thanks Nar…" Shikamaru steeled his nerves. He could do this. He was the chief strategist, personal advisor to the Rokudaime Hokage, and ANBU commander. He could see his dead but now alive again clan. He could face his father and his mother without giving anything away.



Bringing up all his ANBU training, he put on his old 'everything is troublesome' face and knocked on the front door to his home. Shikamaru tensed as he recognized the footsteps heading towards the door. The door slid open and there drying her hands on a deep forest green apron was Yoshino Nara, Shikamaru's mother. Shikamaru had to pull back his emotions; especially the ones that told him to go cling to his mother tightly and never let go.

"Shika-chan! You're home just in time for dinner… Oh, who's your little friend? He's too cute!" Yoshino gushed, keeping a warm smile on as she looked over the two boys, taking in their dirt-covered clothes, pale skin, and skinny forms.

"Mom." Shikamaru breathed before coughing slightly, his cheeks pink from the nickname. "This is my friend Naruto Uzumaki… I know it's late but I was hoping he could stay over tonight…"

"Of course! Please come in Naruto-kun, dinner is almost ready." Yoshino moved aside and watched as the two boys entered the house and took off their sandals.

"Thank you." The boys said softly. A brief thoughtful frown marred her lips before she quickly replaced it with a smile as she led the boys towards the dining hall.

Shikamaru was feeling at peace at once again being inside of his clan home while Naruto was feeling the same; he had spent many hours inside the compound. After Jiraiya died, the two had bonded over the loss of a mentor and they spent even more time there planning and bonding before Pain destroyed Konoha and the Fourth War destroyed everyone and everything that was rebuilding the village.

The door slid to the side to show that Shikaku Nara was already seated at a table, his chin resting in his right hand, eyes shut like he was sleeping and Shikamaru smiled fondly at the sight. His heart beat rapidly and eyes burned as Yoshino crept up behind her husband and whacked him over the head with a wooden spoon in a familiar routine.

"Maa, why did you do that Yoshino-chan?" Shikaku whined, rubbing his head. Naruto smothered a snort.

"We have a guest dear." She said sweetly and Shikaku glanced over to where Shikamaru stood with Naruto beside him, his blue eyes wary.

"Father, this is a good friend of mine, Naruto Uzumaki." Shikamaru bowed his head a little, his heartbeat slowing back down to normal; he was slowly getting over the shock of seeing his family alive and well.

"Nara-sama." Naruto bowed his head in respect.

"None of that, Shikaku is fine." The jounin commander waved his hand absently as he studied the two genin in front of that.

His son was standing at Naruto's right, only an inch or so behind him… That was how a soldier stood when accompanying their superior. He took in how Shikamaru was slouched like he usually was, but now there was certain tenseness to it. Like he was consciously forcing himself to stay relaxed, the same could be said for Naruto.

He picked up on the twitching of their dominant forearms, as if they were preparing to grab a weapon to defend themselves. His eyes narrowed when he took in the looks in their eyes. They were the same eyes that he saw when he looked at himself in the mirror.

They both had the eyes of war veterans.

Naruto's had a look of fear in them; fear Shikaku realized was aimed at him. Fear of how he was going to be treated, if he was going to be hurt or rejected. Shikaku's heart clenched painfully at the sight of it, he watched mutely as Shikamaru shifted ever so slightly and the fear in Naruto's eyes faded. The way his son had shifted showed the trust the two had in each other, the shift signaled that if anything happened then Shikamaru would have Naruto's back and with that Naruto's fear was diminished.

"You two look exhausted, why don't you boys go sit down in Shikamaru's room. I'll come get you when the food is ready." Shikaku smiled softly at the two.

"Thanks, dad." Shikamaru muttered, not making eye contact with his father, leading the blond out of the dining hall.

"Did you see that too?" Yoshino asked as she checked on the rice.

"I did… Something in Shika-chan has changed…" Shikaku slumped back in his seat. "Naruto-kun had fear in his eyes, Yoshino. Minato's child was afraid of me." He ran a hand over his tired face.

"We all have heard about how the villagers and some shinobi treat Naruto-kun. They hate him and for all we know they could have hurt him… We are unknowns and he is unsure of how we are going to react… All we can do for now is to show Naruto-kun that we mean no harm. Besides he seems to bounce back quickly, did you see what he did to the Hokage Monument? That was pure Kushina." Yoshino reasoned, ending with a snicker at the memory and Shikaku smiled tenderly at his wife.

"I knew there was a good reason why I married such a troublesome woman." Shikaku teased as he hugged his wife from behind planting a kiss on her head.

"Here I thought it was because I beat you at shogi." Yoshino smirked and Shikaku made a noise in the back of his throat.

"I thought we agreed we would never talk about that again." He complained and she just smirked as she turned back to the stove.

"Well that went well." Naruto commented as Shikamaru shut the door to his room once the two were safely inside.

"I didn't pass out if that is what you mean." Shikamaru commented dryly, Naruto just snickered. "My father and mother are onto us… already."

"They are your parents Shika-chan." Naruto teased and Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "I would be worried if they didn't pick up on our changes."

"I suppose you're right, still troublesome." Shikamaru looked around his room with a small smile on his lips.

"Tomorrow we have meetings with our teams… That is going to be rough…" Naruto commented as Shikamaru tossed the blond a spare set of pajamas and the two quietly pulled them on. The two had grown used to getting changed in front of the other as they had shared a tent when on the front lines.

"I'm going to see Asuma, Choji and Ino again…" Shikamaru said, his voice tight.

"I'm going to see Kakashi again… I have to deal with the young avenger Sasuke and fangirl Sakura…" Naruto said with a heavy sigh.

"They aren't the same as we know them…" Shikamaru muttered.

"If we do this right, then we can make them into the people we know… Some better than others… If we do this right we can stop Sasuke from defecting… We can stop them all from dying in that war." Naruto slipped into his Kage voice and Shikamaru unconsciously straightened up.

"Sir." Shikamaru nodded his head before he crawled onto his bed and sighed happily. "However we can deal with all that tomorrow, right now we sleep."

"That has got to be one of your best ideas ever Shika." Naruto agreed and Shikamaru quickly made room for Naruto.

"I think so too…" Shikamaru replied drowsily as Naruto slid next to him, pulling up the blanket and the two passed out the moment they closed their eyes.

Shikaku wandered down the hall towards Shikamaru's room and paused by the closed door. He frowned; he didn't hear any voices coming from inside. Even when Choji came by there was noise coming from the room. He silently slid open the door a crack and was shocked to see both Shikamaru and Naruto on the bed. They were both fast asleep and looking peaceful.

He padded into the room a bit further and took in how the two were positioned. They both were curled around each other, the black hair of Shikamaru and the blond hair of Naruto clashed, but almost seemed to represent light and shadow, day and night, yin and yang. The way they were curled around the other was one that screamed protection; the way their arms and legs were positioned showed that they could jump into action if there was a threat nearby. Overall it showed the utter trust the two genin seemed to share with each other.

Another piece of the puzzle was added at this sight and he heard a quiet squeal coming from Yoshino who had come to see what was taking so long. She quickly rushed about the compound, gathering the women of the clan and brought them back to Shikamaru's room and Shikaku heard them all give a collective 'Awww' at the sight before them. None of them saw what Shikaku saw; they just saw two 12-year-olds being adorable. Yoshino brought out a camera and clicked a photo of the two for her photo album. Shikaku got the feeling that Naruto would soon become a permanent fixture in the Nara household. He didn't feel too worried about it.

Chapter 2

"Your dad was staring us down for the whole meal." Naruto grumbled as the two entered training ground 11 at seven in the morning.

"He's in the process of creating a theory. We can worry about dad later, right now we need to make sure we don't kill any of our teammates." Shikamaru said as he dropped into his warm up katas for taijutsu.

"I think it was just the fact that you were willingly out of bed at six in the morning." Naruto snorted as he fell into sync with Shikamaru.

"If we had told them we were going to train instead of meeting our teams then I'm pretty sure they would have taken me to the psych ward of the hospital." Shikamaru gave the most likely scenario. Naruto agreed and the two fell into their usual sparring forms and working together they managed to rein in their strength.

"I think that's enough for today, as long as we don't use any ninjutsu we should, in theory, be fine." Naruto stated as the two cooled down.

"You mean besides the fact that we are going to be seeing our now alive friends and senseis?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah other than that." Naruto smirked and the two brushed off their clothes. "Good luck."

"You too, Hokage-sama." Shikamaru inclined his head.

"None of that." The blond waved his hand.

"Like it or not, you have always been my Hokage-sama." Shikamaru pointed out.

"You're making me blush." Naruto ducked his head; there was in fact pink dusting his cheeks.

"I'll find you after training is done." With that being said the blond genin shunshin'd away, leaving only leaves falling to the ground.

Shikamaru shook his head and started to walk towards where Team 10 met, hands in his pockets and consciously slouching.

"Something on your mind Shikaku?" Choza asked, concerned at the lack of attention the Nara was giving himself and Inoichi.

"Nothing… Just Shika-chan brought home a friend last night… His friend was Naruto Uzumaki." Shikaku revealed to the group.

"I did not know that your son was friends with him." Inoichi commented.

"I wasn't aware of this either." Shikaku admitted, which earned him raised eyebrows from both his friends.

"I know from Choji that back in the academy; Shikamaru, Naruto, Kiba and him were always together because they were 'dead-lasts'." Choza said, thinking back. "I had no idea that Shikamaru was still friends with Naruto."

"What happened?" Inoichi could tell from all his years of being the head of T&I that something else had happened that made Shikaku puzzled.

"When Naruto-kun looked at me… he had fear in his eyes, but then my son shifted ever so slightly… like he was signaling to Naruto-kun that he was there to protect him and the fear disappeared." Shikaku explained, seeing his teammates' expressions he went on. "The way they stood… Shikamaru was always an inch behind Naruto and to his right… When they fell asleep, their body language showed that they were protecting each other and were ready to jump into action at a moment's notice… The part that got me was their eyes."

"Their eyes?" Inoichi questioned, his mind processing what his teammate was telling them.

"They looked… old… battle-scarred… The eyes of a war veteran. Those eyes were in the faces of Minato's 12-year-old son and mine." Shikaku finished as he finished his cup of sake. Yes it was early, but he needed it.

"…Should we tell the Hokage?" Choza wondered aloud after minutes of silence passed.

"Not yet… I have nothing solid to go on." Shikaku decided after a moment of thought. "It would be best to keep this between the three of us."

"Agreed." Inoichi nodded his head in agreement as he pushed his cup of sake towards his scarred friend, knowing the man needed it more than him.

Naruto strolled towards the bridge where he usually met up with Team 7 and wasn't surprised to see both Sakura and Sasuke there. He actually froze in his spot at the sight of his former teammates. They were so young, so innocent, so unscarred from the war. He took a steadying breath and took another step when a familiar feeling chakra caught his attention and he couldn't help but smile. It belonged to Kakashi-sensei and it was coming from underneath the bridge- so that was what he was doing when he was busy being late. Sneaky Copy-Nin.

Naruto tensed and leapt up into the air and came down heavily on the bridge, making a grand entrance.

"GOOD MORNING!" He bellowed and grinned widely as he heard a muttered curse from under his feet.

"Naruto, you jerk!" Sakura shouted and Naruto let himself be whacked over the head just for old time's sake. He forgot that before her training her hits were soft.

"Dobe." Sasuke hissed, rubbing his ear.

"Don't be like that, Sasuke-teme." Naruto teased, pushing back all feelings of betrayal when he saw the Uchiha. "Just wanted to wake you two up a bit."

"Well we're awake now aren't we?" Sakura huffed, crossing her arms annoyed and Naruto smiled softly at her.

"Sorry Sakura… chan." He tacked on the chan as he had stopped using it when they grew close.

"What's wrong with you dobe?" Sasuke questioned, crossing his arms.

"I forgot that he was a genius." Naruto thought, annoyed. "What are you even talking about, teme? Hey, since Kakashi-sensei is always so late… We should try to find out what he does that makes him so late!"

Of course Naruto knew that Kakashi's mornings generally consisted of sleeping, eating, reading and long visits at the Memorial Stone, but they didn't need to know this.

"…As much as I hate to say it… Naruto makes a good point." Sakura said grudgingly. "If you want to find out where Kakashi-sensei is Sasuke-kun then I'll follow you." She turned to the raven-haired avenger with hearts in her eyes. Naruto sighed internally; he forgot the pains of having a fangirl on his team.

"Morning my cute little genin." Kakashi called out as he approached, his usual book in his hand.

"YOU'RE LATE!" Sakura shouted and Sasuke just rolled his eyes at his sensei. A wistful expression crossed Naruto's face briefly before he waved at his silver-haired sensei. It was good to see him alive and in one piece.

"I think it's an improvement, he was only an hour late this time. Sensei, why is your hair wet?" Naruto tilted his head to the side innocently, it would have worked if Kakashi didn't know his mother and knew that smile on his lips was the exact same one that Kushina had when she pranked someone.

"Maa, time to train." Kakashi's visible eye turned up in a U to show he was smiling.

"Yes." Naruto snapped off a perfect ANBU salute out of reflex and quickly took off towards training ground 7, not waiting to see the confused looks he got from Sakura and Sasuke and the shocked look on the visible part of Kakashi's face.

Naruto couldn't help himself but sigh repeatedly as the training went on. He forgot how weak the other two were and since his chakra control was utter crap at the moment the blond had taken to practicing his aim, after making sure he slipped up every so often. He watched Sasuke and Kakashi spar and he didn't feel any of the favoritism that he felt the first time around. He knew that Kakashi was given this team so he could watch out for Sasuke, to make sure he didn't defect…

That had worked out well.

Kakashi in the future had told Naruto that he had mostly agreed so he could stay near him, to make sure he was protected and could learn to protect himself.

Naruto smiled softly at the memory as he flung more kunai at the targets and watched as Sakura slowly did some taijutsu katas, her eyes trained on Sasuke. He sighed again, knowing he should help her with her taijutsu, but at this point in time she would just shout at him. This Sakura wasn't the same one he fought side by side with in the war. Naruto quickly forced himself off that train of thought before he could remember the images of what she looked like when he found her body.

"Your aim is improving Naruto." Kakashi spoke up, the blond nearly face planted. He had been lost in thought and had missed the Copy-Nin approaching.

"Ah, thanks sensei!" Naruto beamed at the praise before throwing his final kunai with deadly accuracy. "Sensei, I was wondering about something… If I can make shadow clones, can I make shuriken shadow clones?" Naruto tilted his head to the side as he pulled out a few shuriken.

"Yes, I believe you will be able to do this technique Naruto." Kakashi looked down at the blond startled before he recovered and encouraged the smaller version of his old sensei. The jounin explained the theory behind it.

"I'll nail it by training tomorrow sensei, dattebayo!" Naruto stated firmly before throwing in his old verbal tic with a huge- albeit forced- grin.

"I'll be looking forward to it." Kakashi patted Naruto's blond hair and the genin blinked, shocked at the gesture, but took it in stride and beamed up at the silver-haired jounin before the Copy-Nin moved over to help Sakura.

"Now I have to nail it by tomorrow, ah man." Naruto muttered to himself. "I should be able to make a solid dozen or so with my crap control…"

"What are you muttering about, dobe?" Sasuke came over, wiping his face down on a towel.

"Nothing that you need to worry about, teme!" Naruto shot back, his eye twitching at the sight of the raven-haired avenger, who just hn'd and walked away.

Asuma let out a puff of smoke as he took in his genin team. Choji was running laps to try to improve his stamina; Ino was currently leaping tree-to-tree only using the chakra stored in her feet. The one who was really catching his interest was Shikamaru. The Nara who usually favored sleeping and non-strenuous activities during training wasn't slacking off.

Something had been different about Shikamaru from the moment he joined them for training. The way his face lit up when he talked to them and how his eyes lingered on each of them longer than usual. His eyes were different; they were different in a way that Asuma had seen on veterans from the Third Shinobi war, he had no idea why it was on his 12-year-old genin.

He inhaled as he watched out of the corner of his eye as Shikamaru slashed away at dummies with a kunai. The movements were very similar to kenjutsu, but he knew that Shikamaru had never used a sword before.

'He would do well with a sword or maybe even trench knives.' Asuma mused as he put his cigarette out and made his way to the Nara who just finished slashing apart a dummy with perfect accuracy.

"You're doing well with handling your kunai like that Shikamaru." Asuma spoke and he frowned briefly as Shikamaru startled visibly and he spun around, the kunai held up ready for attack or defense. Seeing who it was Shikamaru relaxed and lowered the kunai. This caused Asuma to frown and scan Shikamaru's face once more, but found it void of emotion.

"Yeah?" Shikamaru put away the kunai and put his hands in his pocket, shoulders slouching. "Thanks."

"Maybe I'll train you to use my trench knives." Asuma smiled and Shikamaru again startled before he smiled easily at his sensei.

"That would be great, thanks sensei." Shikamaru said honestly.

"Here, try them out." Asuma said after a moment of thought. He pulled out the knives and carefully handed them over to the genin who stared at them in shock.

"Are you sure Asuma-sensei?" Shikamaru asked softly.

"I know you will be great with them Shikamaru. Hell, you might even be able to integrate them with your clan's jutsus." Asuma stroked his beard in thought and almost missed the look of shock that crossed Shikamaru's features before it was gone and Shikamaru slid his fingers into the holes and gave them a few test swings.

At Asuma's nod, the preteen faced the dummies and he was a blur of movement as he swung, punched and slashed his way through the dummies. Asuma stared in amazement at how gracefully his student moved, using taijutsu moves in time with the trench knives. Asuma swore he spotted some of Gai's taijutsu moves in it alongside some Hyuuga stances, but that wasn't possible so the bearded jounin passed it off as the trick of the light.

"How was that?" Shikamaru asked, panting slightly.

"You looked like you were using those for years." Asuma said truthfully.

"I've just seen you using them and figured that using taijutsu with them would be easier than using any other kind of jutsu with them…" Shikamaru said, shrugging. He gently removed the trench knives with reverence and handed them back to his sensei.

"We should play shogi when you have time." Asuma changed the topic, sensing he wasn't going to get anything else from the Nara.

"I would like that Asuma-sensei." Shikamaru smiled and Asuma spotted the same look enter his student's eyes from before.

"Are you okay kid?" Asuma placed his hand on Shikamaru's shoulder in concern.

"I'm… great actually, sensei." Shikamaru gave his sensei a true smile.

"I'm glad. Come on, let's go save Choji before he collapses. I don't think he's supposed to turn that shade of red." Asuma chuckled.

"Right behind you sensei." Shikamaru nodded agreeing.

"Follow me my cute little genin!" Kakashi called out half an hour later, orange book back in his hand.

"What are we doing Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura quickly walked beside Sasuke, who just ignored her.

"The Hokage wants to see us." Kakashi stated as the group made their way through the village.

"Another mission?" Naruto forced himself to almost shout in 'excitement'.

"I don't think so Naruto." Kakashi shook his head fondly at the loud blond.

"Aw." Naruto pouted and quickly stiffened, masking his face to become one of indifference as harsh whispers and hurtful words started up around him.

"Demons shouldn't be so loud, they shouldn't be seen or heard." One man growled at the passing genin.

"Too bad he didn't die on that last mission of his." Another one agreed, Naruto just looked down at his feet, hands clenching as he pulled in his anger. His seal was heating up; Kurama could still pick up on his host's anger even if he was sleeping.

"It's fine Kurama, I can deal with it… just keep sleeping." Naruto begged internally and he felt the seal cool back down and he sighed, relieved.

While he was focusing on Kurama he didn't notice the confused looks Sakura and Sasuke were giving him in response to the hate filled words he was receiving. They had no idea what the villagers were talking about- sure Naruto was loud and annoying, but he didn't deserve to die.

Kakashi on the other hand was fuming, he knew exactly what the villagers were talking about and he had to grit his teeth together to stop himself from doing something drastic, like slitting their throats and hiding the bodies. If he was still an ANBU he may have done so but he was a jounin sensei now so he had to settle for sending out the glares he saved for only the deadliest of ninja and the words quieted when the speakers were subjected to Kakashi's glare.

"Oi! Naruto-kun!" A female voice called out and the blond looked up in surprise as Yoshino Nara came bounding over, a few more women from the Nara clan following behind her.

"Yoshino-san." Naruto blinked in surprise as Shikamaru's mother planted herself in front of him.

"I'm glad I ran into you here Naruto-kun! I'm planning on making some ramen tonight, using a recipe from an old friend. I was going to get Shikamaru to find you to ask you but since you are here I'll do it now. My old friend would be heartbroken if you didn't get to try her ramen recipe so you are coming over tonight." Yoshino beamed at the stunned blond. She was talking about Kushina- the small blond didn't know that however.

"He's even adorable when he's awake!"

"Do you see those blue eyes? So cute!"

Whispers from the other Nara women started up and Naruto felt a blush rise to his cheeks.

"If I'm not intruding…" Naruto said shyly.

"Not at all! I insist! I'll even teach you how to make it!" Yoshino waved her hand dismissively.

"Then I would be honored, Yoshino-san." Naruto beamed. "I'll make sure to bring Shika home right after we finished our training."

"I'll be waiting!" Yoshino patted his head kindly before walking away, the other Nara women waved at the blushing genin still giggling at how 'cute' he was before following Yoshino.

"…That was unexpected." Kakashi stated and Sasuke hn'd.

"Was that Shikamaru's mother?" Sakura questioned and Naruto nodded his head, in slight shock.

"Come on guys, Jiji is waiting for us!" Naruto snapped out of his stupor and rushed towards the Hokage tower.

The team entered the Hokage's office and Naruto felt like all the remaining breath he had was knocked out of him the moment he saw the Sandaime sitting behind his desk and a mountain of paperwork, still alive and wrinkly as ever.

"I wonder if I should tell Jiji about using shadow clones." Naruto thought absently as they bowed to the old man who nodded in response.

"I just wanted to make sure you three were doing alright after that C-turned-A rank mission." Sandaime said kindly and Naruto had to swallow hard to stop a lump from forming in his throat. He forgot how much he missed the old man, but he still wanted Tsunade-Baa-chan to become Hokage… However there was a better way than having the Sandaime die.

"I'm fine." Sasuke said simply, knowing better than to 'hn' at the Hokage.

"I talked it out with my parents, so I am better now Lord Third." Sakura bowed to the old man and Naruto snapped himself out of his thoughts.

"I'm great Jiji, don't worry about me!" Naruto beamed, raising his voice the right amount and it was rewarded with a smile from the old man and a whack over the head from Sakura for calling the Hokage 'Jiji'.

"Good, good. If you do feel stressed or worried about anything, there is help available." The Sandaime explained and the trio nodded in understanding. Naruto idly wondered if said help could get Sakura out of her fan-girl phase faster.

"Well I'm sad to say I have no missions for your team right now, please enjoy your day off." The Sandaime smiled, this was a dismissal and Sasuke nodded before leaving the office, Sakura bowed before she hurried out after him.

Naruto stayed behind as his eyes were locked on the portrait of his father.

"Is everything alright Naruto?" Kakashi asked, worry bubbling up in him as he spotted the blond staring at the portrait of his father.

"Just… I look a lot like the Yondaime, don't you think?" Naruto asked innocently and took great pleasure in seeing Kakashi and the Sandaime freeze up at his words.

"I mean give me some height, a deeper voice, and jaw length bangs, and I'm like his twin…" He trailed off and snickered inwardly at the soft sputtering sounds he heard coming from behind Kakashi's mask.

"Weird huh! Well, see you later Kakashi-sensei, Jiji!" He waved at them and started whistling a tune as he walked out of the office and down a small side corridor. He proceeded to giggle at their reactions as he reached out to find Shikamaru's chakra, his sensory skills were still stable and strong. He closed his eyes and shunshin'd away.

"Found you Shika!" Naruto sang, as he appeared right next to the genius genin, who was alone.

"I forgot how annoying you were when you mastered that; it was even worse when you mastered the hiraishin." Shikamaru rubbed his forehead.

"How was your training today?" Naruto asked as he fell into step with the other genin.

"I may have tipped Asuma off that I'm more than I let on… I decided to focus on my skill with a kunai and he gave me his trench knives to try out…" Shikamaru explained.

"And you used them like you'd been using them your whole life." Naruto finished the thought.

"Yeah, I gave him an excuse and he seemed to buy it… I just have to be more careful." Shikamaru sighed. "It was hard, seeing them alive and so carefree… It was great, but I couldn't help but stare at them sometimes while they were training…"

"I know the feeling… I did manage to prank Kakashi and I also set myself up for when I use Shuriken Shadow Clone. I forgot how much of a fangirl Sakura was and how weak she was in taijutsu… Then on our way to talk to the Sandaime, your mom cornered me. She wants me to come over for dinner… She's making ramen and wants to teach us to make it." Naruto said as he adjusted their course towards the Nara compound.

"Sounds like mom." Shikamaru smiled. "How was seeing the Sandaime?"

"I felt like someone sucker punched me in the gut." Naruto deadpanned. "He wanted to make sure we were dealing with what happened in Wave Country… I also couldn't help but freak them out a bit…"

"What did you do Nar?" Shikamaru rolled his eyes fondly.

"I may have stated that the fourth and I looked a lot alike, just give me some height, a deeper voice, and jaw length bangs and bam we are the same. Oh man they looked shocked, but then I waved it off and left." Naruto retold what happened in the office and Shikamaru let out a true laugh at the story.

"I bet their faces were priceless." Shikamaru gasped for air and Naruto joined him in laughter as he imitated the faces of the two.

"Man it felt good to laugh." Naruto wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.

"Yeah it did… So are you ready to make some ramen?" Shikamaru asked as he slid open the door to his clan's home.

"Bring it on!" Naruto smirked and the two made their way to the dining hall where Yoshino was waiting for them.

Chapter 3

"Okay, I need to get Shuriken Shadow Clone down by the time we leave to meet our teams." Naruto stated as he and Shikamaru finished their warm up the next morning.

"Let me get out of the way then, who knows how this is going to go." Shikamaru focused and slowly climbed up a tree for a better vantage point and to get out of the line of fire.

"Your chakra control is getting back to normal, lucky." Naruto pouted as Shikamaru settled on a tree branch.

"Not all of us have massive chakra pools." Shikamaru called down and Naruto just huffed as he made the correct hand seal.

"Shuriken Shadow Clone!" Naruto called out and around 100 shurikens appeared and struck around the training ground. The shadow clones practicing rasenshuriken and hiraishin dodged out of the way before going back to work.

"Once more… Shuriken Shadow Clone!" Naruto tried once he let the others disappear. This time he narrowed it down to 50, he tried once more and got it to a solid 20.

"Your control is getting better, but still needs work." Shikamaru commented as he dropped down from the tree.

"Hey, I can keep the rasenshuriken going now!" Naruto commented as the four clones poofed away. "How are your jutsus coming?"

"Shadow Stitching." Shikamaru's shadow expanded and broke off from the ground and wrapped around a fallen tree's trunk and moved it around before Shikamaru let it drop.

"I'm still unsure about my elemental jutsus." Shikamaru commented and Naruto nodded in agreement.

"Try a Raiton one." Naruto suggested and Shikamaru nodded. The Nara's main affinity was Katon, but he was good at Doton and Raiton. His least usable elements were Fuuton and Suiton.

"Raiton: False Darkness." Shikamaru made the snake seal and the clouds above turned dark and lightning struck down into the ground like a spear. The ground around it became charred and scorches marks webbed outwards.

"Impressive. I think your chakra control is almost back to normal." Naruto whistled, impressed, as the sky returned to normal.

"It took a lot out of me to make sure it didn't go crazy." Shikamaru admitted, wiping his forehead as he fell back onto his butt breathing heavily.

"Didn't Kakuzu use that?" Naruto asked curiously.

"Yeah, I stole it from him." Shikamaru smirked and Naruto laughed loudly. "I may not be a Copy-Nin, but it seemed like a good attack to have pointed the opposite way of me."

"I remember you using it on the frontlines… It took out a whole row of reanimated Sound ninja." Naruto said slowly sitting next to his best friend.

"Yeah, but it didn't save Shino." Shikamaru said bitterly as he drew his knees up to his chest.

"Hey, don't dwell on that. We can change it all, they are still here." Naruto said gently.

"I know… It's hard enough having to focus so hard to keep these elemental jutsus in check, but the memories of the last time I used each one keep coming back." Shikamaru shook his head.

"I know Shika, but we survived everything they threw at us and we came back to make sure everything will work out. Now give me some space- I want to try a Fuuton jutsu."

Shikamaru nodded and retreated to a safe distance, back up in his tree.

"Fuuton: Gale Palm." Naruto held his hands out and a small-scale gale wind was created between his outstretched palms. Naruto breathed out. He balanced it with one hand; his other hand drew out a kunai and then dropped it into the gale. He took the gale into both his hands again before he thrusted them towards a tree at the end of the clearing. He watched, as the kunai became a blur of black as it sliced its way through the tree. The gale force kunai severed the trunk in half before it embedded itself in the trunk of the tree behind it.

"You and your wind." Shikamaru shook his head fondly as the blond grinned foxily up at him.

Naruto then smirked and Shikamaru felt scared for his well being. He was right to be worried as Naruto didn't even make a hand sign, but the Nara was lifted up off the tree branch and Naruto, harnessing the wind, flew the genin around the training area before setting him down on the ground.

"A little warning would be nice next time." Shikamaru huffed, falling onto his butt as Naruto grinned foxily once again.

"Sorry, I was just excited that I could still do a silent Fuuton: Free Flying." Naruto rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.

"I can see why, it is a very useful jutsu." Shikamaru said remembering back to the frontlines where Naruto used that jutsu to pull up some enemy ninja and drop them right into the line of fire from the Allied Shinobi Forces.

"If we keep practicing, at this rate we will be able to control our strength and chakra better than before." Naruto rummaged around in the backpack he brought with him.

"Planning to work on some seals?" Shikamaru asked, seeing the blond pull out a book, a brush, ink and some paper.

"Can't let the top seal master get rusty can I?" Naruto asked, his voice flat as he opened the book.

"Have you tried using your chains yet?" Shikamaru asked quietly.

"No, I know for a fact that without Kurama's chakra there is no way I can hold even half a chain stably outside of my body." Naruto sighed as he put the finishing stroke on a seal, setting aside to wait for the ink to dry.

"That and if you suddenly had Kyuubi red chains erupt from your body people will put the pieces together about your mother and we don't want that coming back to us." Shikamaru theorized as he practiced throwing his shadow around the clearing, catching leaves as they fell off of the remaining trees.

"That too." Naruto quirked a smile then he infused a stack of seals with his chakra. "The chunin exams are approaching… We have to make sure Orochimaru doesn't mark Sasuke, that Gaara doesn't release Shukaku, and that the invasion doesn't take us off guard like last time."

"Do we have any idea what is going to happen when you and Gaara meet?" Shikamaru asked quietly.

"Fuzzy is still fast asleep so we can only guess what may happen." Naruto shrugged his shoulders. "Best case scenario, he doesn't flip out during his fights… Worst case scenario he tries to kill me the moment he meets me."

"Is that why you are making that barrier seal extra powerful by infusing it with your chakra and blood?" Shikamaru questioned.

"Nothing gets past you." Naruto said fondly. "This seal will trap Shukaku in case he goes get free, it will paralyze anything inside of its area excluding the creator. Then I can get in close and fix his horribly created seal."

"Can my Shadow Stitching get in?" Shikamaru asked seriously.

"…Yes, I added that part, I knew you would want to be able to help. If you use one of your shadow jutsus then the effects of the paralyzation will increase and make it easier for me to fix his seal." Naruto nodded.

"You know me so well." Shikamaru smiled.

"I should hope so Shika." Naruto smiled back before he finished the barrier seal. "Once this is dry, we should head out to meet our teams. I need to make sure I only create 10 or 20 Shuriken Shadow Clones." Naruto set the seal down to let it dry.

"I'm going to get Asuma to get us started on elemental jutsus. I think it would be best if my team learned some before the exams start." Shikamaru said after a moment's thought. "I know that Ino is Doton and Suiton typed while Choji is Doton and Katon. If they can get even some low rank jutsus for each one under their belts before we enter the Forest of Death then I think our plan has a higher chance of success."

Naruto and Shikamaru had spent the previous night up late behind a privacy seal Naruto whipped up planning out how they were going to change the exams and the invasion that started everything off.

"Do you think we should tell the Sandaime where we come from beforehand?" Naruto asked quietly.

"If it was the Godaime then maybe, but not right now we can't. Not in these forms anyways. If we pull this off then the other forms can warn him of the coming troubles by telling them that we have seer blood in our veins." Shikamaru said after a moment of thought.

"True. Alright, the seal is dry. Time to head out." Naruto put his seals away and the two stood up, brushing themselves off before they shunshin'd away.

"Well that was more of a disaster than I recalled." Naruto thought wearily as Team 7 returned to their training ground.

They had spent the rest of the morning doing easy D-rank missions, like painting fences, weeding, and mowing lawns. However, no matter the task, Sasuke brushed Naruto off, Sakura following suit after spewing insults at him and sometimes a hit over the head.

Naruto sighed as he absentmindedly started to do his warm up katas. Had he really been so horrible to work with? Was he really that much of a loudmouthed idiot? He knew he toned it down and tried to get them to work together as a team, but it did no good and his mood was a rather depressed one.

"Alright Naruto, let's see how far you are in learning that new jutsu." Kakashi approached the blond after sending Sasuke off to practice his Katon jutsus and Sakura on chakra control.

"Yes Kakashi-sensei! Here I go! Shuriken Shadow Clones!" Naruto did the jutsu and cheered mentally as only 20 clones of them appeared, flying across the training field.

"Good Naruto." Kakashi said after a moment of staring at the performed jutsu and the damage it caused.

"What do you want me to work on next, sensei?" Naruto bounced on his heels.

"Why don't we talk for a bit?" Kakashi said slowly and Naruto tilted his head to the side confused.

"Talk?" He asked and Kakashi nodded as he placed his hand on the genin's shoulder and shunshin'd away from the field. They ended up by the top of the Hokage Monument. "What's wrong sensei?" Naruto asked, looking up at the Copy-Nin.

"Nothing is wrong with me Naruto… I just want to know… Are you okay? After seeing everything in the Land of Waves." Kakashi said, gazing over Konoha.

Naruto did the same and frowned, Kakashi never did this when Naruto was still on his team. Naruto guessed saying he thought he looked like the Yondaime shook the older man up.

"It just put some things in perspective for me I guess, sensei. Life is cruel and unfair, it doesn't matter who you are." Naruto said seriously, noticing Kakashi had turned his full attention to him now. "It also made me see that no matter what happens you have to keep fighting for the people that are precious to you… like how Haku sacrificed himself to save Zabuza… It just made me determined to get stronger so I can protect the people I care about, like you sensei. Just watch me get strong enough to become Hokage so I can protect everyone, dattebayo!" Naruto turned his gaze to Kakashi and beamed up at him. He knew Kakashi well enough to detect surprise and shock in his one visible eye.

"I'm looking forward to being able to say I was the sensei of a Hokage Naru-chan." Kakashi gave an eye smile, patting Naruto on the head. Naruto beamed at the words, if not a little confused about the nickname.

"You want me to test you guys to find out your elements?" Asuma looked at the trio in front of him in surprise.

"I think we all have chakra control and our Ino-Shika-Cho formations down pat Asuma-sensei!" Ino pointed out and Choji munched on some chips agreeing.

"It would put us a step ahead of the other genin teams and if we can incorporate the elemental jutsus in our Ino-Shika-Cho formations then they will become more powerful. It will catch our enemies off guard." Shikamaru reasoned, shoulders slumped and hands in his pockets.

"Good reasoning." Asuma dropped his cigarette and crushed it with his heel. "Give me a moment to grab what I need."

With that he shunshin'd away and the trio sat together in silence, Ino fixing her hair and Choji finishing off his bag of chips. Shikamaru was on his back cloud-watching as he enjoyed the silence, peace, and feeling of safety he got when he was with his team. It had been a long time since he felt this at peace with the world. Ino was humming under her breath softly and Shikamaru felt a smile creep up on his lips.

"Ino, I bet if you ever tried singing you would have an amazing voice." Shikamaru commented, he didn't have to open his eyes to see the blush he knew was working its way across Ino's pale cheeks.

"You think so Shikamaru?" Ino asked quietly.

Shikamaru hummed in response and he knew that she was glowing and thinking the idea over. She truly did have a wonderful voice; he had heard her singing to calm down some crying kids during the war.

"Alright, here I have some chakra paper, channel your chakra into it and the different reaction will show you your chakra nature." Asuma handed each of them a piece of paper. "For example…" His paper cut in two before igniting "My chakra natures are Fuuton and Katon."

Ino channeled her chakra into her paper first and watched it become damp before it crumbled away.

"Ino you have Suiton and Doton." Asuma said impressed before he handed her two scrolls. "Inside each of these scrolls is some starting jutsus for the elements you have."

Choji went next and his ignited and crumbled away. "Katon and Doton, a good balance." Asuma handed Choji the needed scrolls.

Shikamaru took a breath as he channeled his chakra and watched as it wrinkled, ignited and crumbled away. "Raiton, Katon and Doton. Impressive Shikamaru." Asuma handed the preteen three scrolls, an impressed look on his face.

"Thanks." He took the scrolls and sat down with the other two and started to read over the scrolls. Shikamaru held in a sigh, this was going to be good for the long run, but he knew each of these jutsus already.

"Now, Doton is pretty easy to learn and control. I can help Shikamaru and Choji out with their Katon. Shikamaru, go to Kakashi for help with your Raiton; Ino, go to Kakashi as well for your Suiton jutsus." Asuma said.

"Yes." The trio nodded before they separated off to practice their new jutsus while Asuma oversaw them. Shikamaru had to pull back a lot of his chakra when he did some Doton and Katon jutsus. He managed to get it to perform just above average the first time around. He saw the smile on Asuma's face as he watched over them. He spotted the grin Choji was sporting when he created a small wall of rock before he spluttered as Ino's Suiton jutsu exploded by him, soaking him to the bone. Shikamaru joined Ino and Asuma in laughing before Ino squealed when Choji took off after her for revenge.

"Are you up for a game of shogi after training Shikamaru?" Asuma asked as he watched Ino use her chakra to jump from tree to tree to escape from Choji.

"Try not to lose in the first few turns sensei." Shikamaru smirked and chuckled when Asuma made an offended noise.

"First few turns, hmph, you're such a brat." Asuma lit up his cigarette and Shikamaru had to resist the strong urge to pluck it from his sensei's fingers and take a long, much needed drag himself.

"Yeah, but we're your brats." Shikamaru said cheekily as he pillowed his head on his hands and looked up at the cloudy sky. Asuma just hummed before lying next to his student to watch the clouds as well.

"How did your talk with Naruto go, Kakashi?" The Sandaime asked curiously, puffing on his pipe.

"He's changed Hokage-sama." Kakashi said after a moment of thought. "He said his eyes were opened during the mission to the Land of Waves… I think it might be something deeper than that. His eyes are different; they are the eyes of someone who has seen too much… There isn't any way his eyes could look the way they do just from that one mission." Kakashi summarized.

"Hmm… When he spoke of his resemblance to the Yondaime, it was with reverence… Do you think he knows the truth of who his parents are?" The Hokage looked at Kakashi.

"He may have an idea… He's smarter than anyone realizes and he has a mask firmly in place." Kakashi said rubbing his head.

The Sandaime took Kakashi's words in. "How has the teamwork been building on the team?"

"Maa." Kakashi sighed. He had seen everything that happened on the D-rank missions the team went on that morning, even if it looked like he was reading his book. "I thought they had at least built a shaky foundation of teamwork and maybe friendship during the time in Wave Country… I was wrong. If there is a way to do something alone, Sasuke will always make sure to do so. Naruto would try to offer advice or help, but the other two shut him down swiftly, sometimes violently. I can see it's getting Naruto down and it isn't his fault." Kakashi explained, his visible eye drooping.

"What can we do about this?" The Sandaime leaned forward, he truly cared for Naruto and believed that one day the blond would surpass his father and become the best Hokage the village had ever seen.

"I can't interfere too much, it's something the three of them need to work out together… On their own they are making progress. Naruto can make at least 20 Shuriken Shadow Clones, Sasuke is training with his Sharingan and Katon jutsus while Sakura has perfect chakra control." Kakashi reported.

"Are you going to nominate them for the chunin exam?" The Sandaime asked curiously.

"…I believe I will." Kakashi nodded. "It'll be an environment where they are forced to work together."

"Hm, first you pass a genin team and now you are nominating the same team. Having Naruto on your team is changing you Kakashi." The Hokage teased and Kakashi just glanced at the portrait of his sensei.

"I guess he is." Kakashi said softly and the Hokage just puffed knowingly on his pipe.

"How are you already beating me? It's only my 5th turn!" Asuma asked Shikamaru, confused, as the two sat inside the Nara compound by a shogi board.

"Pure talent Asuma-sensei." Shikamaru said dryly as he made his next move on the shogi board.

He couldn't help but feel extremely happy, he was playing a game of shogi against his sensei once again. He never thought he would be able to do so again, but here they are. Shikaku had come by and watched the game for a few turns, sending a knowing smirk at Shikamaru before patting Asuma on the shoulder, wishing him luck.

When Kurama woke up, Shikamaru really owed him one.

"Hey Shika, have you seen Chiyo-hime?" Naruto walked out into the courtyard in a pair of black pants, sandals, and a t-shirt with the Nara clan symbol on the back.

"No, why? Are you looking for her?" Shikamaru adjusted his ponytail as he took in Asuma's stunned expression at seeing Naruto in his home, wearing Shikamaru's clothes.

"I promised that after training I would play with her." Naruto waved at Asuma cheerfully.

"NARU-NII-CHAN! I found you!" A black-haired five-year-old girl flung herself out of the tree in the courtyard and into Naruto's awaiting arms. She giggled like mad as she hugged him before scurrying up onto Naruto's shoulders, little fingers clutching his blond hair.

"There you are Chiyo-hime, why were you in the tree?" Naruto asked amused.

"I was watching Shika-chan beat Asuma-sama in shogi. He's going to lose in two more moves." Chiyo reported gravely.

Asuma's eyes snapped back to the board. "Ah man, she's right!"

"She is a Nara." Shikamaru said his voice tinged with pride.

"Come on Naru-Nii-Chan, Auntie told me that we were going to help herd the deer today!" Chiyo pulled at Naruto's hair to steer him towards the door that led down towards the forest.

"Right away Chiyo-hime." Naruto responded with a smile before he took off running, leaving high-pitched giggles in their wake.

"I didn't know you knew Naruto-kun so well, Shika-chan." Asuma commented teasingly as he and Shikamaru reset the board for a new game without even verbally confirming they were going to have another one.

"Yeah well. Once you get to know him, you don't really want to let him go." Shikamaru said non-committedly, knowing that Asuma was fishing for information. He would play his game and win. He did however let his eyebrow twitch at the use of his family nickname. That earned a chuckle from his sensei.

"How long have you two known each other?"

"A while."

"He seems to be integrated into your clan…"

"He pretty much lives here now, my mother saw what his apartment looked like and literally packed his things up and moved him in."


"I win."


"Want to try again sensei?"

"I'll beat you one of these days Shika-chan!"

A thin eyebrow twitched violently.

Chapter 4

"What do you think Kakashi-sensei is going to have us do today, Sasuke-kun?" Sakura fawned over the Uchiha as usual.

Naruto was currently sitting on the railing of the bridge, letting his legs sway back and forth and he had his eyes closed, meditating. He knew from training with Shikamaru that he could not reach Sage mode; his 12-year-old body couldn't hold it. So all he could do now was meditate and try to control his urge to kill his 'teammates'.

The blond knew that today was the day that Kakashi-sensei would tell them he nominated them for the chunin exams and they would get the rest of the day off. Naruto was counting on the same thing happening for Team 10 as he and Shikamaru had some things they needed to finalize before the Sand Siblings came to town.

"He's two hours late so far." Sakura commented annoyed.

"I'm sure he has a good reason." Naruto said breezily, not opening his eyes.

"He never has a good reason." Sakura scoffed annoyed. "What are you even doing? You'll fall in if you sit up there any longer."

"Is that a threat Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked flatly, not moving from his spot.

"A ninja must never let their guard down." Sasuke said smugly as he lashed out with the heel of his right hand.

Naruto moved out of reflex, bending backwards so he was lying flat. This made Sasuke's strike hit nothing but air. Naruto snapped open his blue eyes and swung his legs up and, doing a complex leg movement, trapped the Uchiha on the ground, immobile and defenseless. Naruto tuned out the shrieks coming from Sakura to let 'her' Sasuke-kun go.

"A ninja should also never attack their comrades, those who do so are worse than scum." Naruto stated impassively, tightening his grip on the genin with hard eyes. "Do you understand me Uchiha? Keep that in mind before you attack a comrade."

Naruto released his hold on the Uchiha and stood up dusting his bright orange pants off.

"Naru-chan is correct, I hope I haven't made a mistake by nominating you all for the chunin exam." Kakashi's voice called out, Naruto simply turned slightly to eye the jounin while Sakura startled and Sasuke picked himself off the ground with a look of fury aimed at Naruto.

"The chunin exam?" Sakura asked confused as Kakashi handed each of them a slip of paper.

"The exams are taking place in Konoha this year. These exams are for all those who want to ascend from genin to chunin, it is a showcase of your skills to the five nations. However, take this into consideration: these exams… People can die; in the second part rules do not apply. You need to work together to survive. It is starting in three days so you have that long to decide if you wish to join." Kakashi explained and Naruto barely paid attention, as he knew all of this already. So this time around they had three days to prepare before the exams started.

"That's all for today." Kakashi said before he disappeared in a swirl of leaves.

"I'm going to become a chunin. You better not back out, dobe." Sasuke growled before he stalked off, Sakura following behind him.

"That would be the day… This time I'll become a chunin, I'm not going from genin to Hokage in a day." Naruto muttered to himself. He glanced around before he shunshin'd to training ground 11 where he saw Shikamaru waiting for him with the same slip of paper in his hand.

"We have three days before everything gets set into motion." Shikamaru said as the two sat across from each other. Naruto pulled out a scroll and unsealed it. Many seals appeared on the ground around the two.

"I finished the seals last night when you were cooking dinner with your mom." Naruto said and Shikamaru nodded.

"So shall we?" Shikamaru stood up.

"Let me set up the privacy barrier first." Naruto pulled out a seal and slammed it on the ground. "Activate!"

The seal glowed red and Shikamaru watched as the seal let out a pulse that surrounded the training ground, raising a red barrier around them.

"Okay, that will hold until I take it down." Naruto said as he picked up a new seal. "Ready?"

"Let's do it." Shikamaru pulled off his grey jacket and mesh undershirt. He stood like a statue as Naruto applied seals to the Nara's back and in return the Nara applied the seals to Naruto's back. They stood still until Naruto nodded to signal that they were dried and were tattooed on their skin.

"Ready to give it a go?" Shikamaru asked, pulling his shirts back on.

"It'll work." Naruto said firmly. The two made hand seals and each created a single shadow clone. The two shadow clones looked at each other and started to spar, after five minutes of fighting and taking hard blows the two clones didn't disappear.

"Perfect, even with kekkei genkais they won't be able to tell the difference." Naruto said, very pleased with the success of the seals. "Now let's see how well the second seal works." The two made another hand sign. A puff of smoke enveloped the two and with the seals on their back it made the henges permanent looking so anyone with a kekkei genkai wouldn't be able to tell that it was a henge.

The two grew to 6'1", their facial features narrowed out and their cheekbones became more predominant. Their eyes were narrow and their irises were indigo while their pupils slitted like a fox or a cat. Their hair was now crimson, reaching past their shoulders, with jaw length bangs framing their faces. One had his hair pulled up in a high ponytail and the other one had his hair braided and resting over his right shoulder.

The one with the ponytail wore black shinobi pants, matching sandals, and a armored mesh short sleeved shirt. Overtop of it was a long sleeved hooded crimson red cloak. A katana was slung across his back and two trench knives were attached at his waist.

The one with the braid also wore black shinobi pants and matching sandals. He had on a plain black long sleeved shirt with a short-sleeved hooded crimson red cloak; his katana was attached to his waist. His hands were covered in black fingerless gloves with silver armor embedded over the knuckles

"We look good Shika." The one with the braid commented.

"Damn good Nar." Shikamaru smirked. "Or should I say Akira."

"Right you are Akito. These basic katanas will have to do until we have a chance to get back our real swords." Akira stated as he pulled his katana out as did Akito and the two started to practice their kenjutsu katas.

The two spent the rest of the afternoon practicing their kenjutsu, ninjutsu and taijutsu combinations, they worked in sync and just as well as they did during the war. They perfected their chakra control and their strength until they could do even their highest ranked jutsu with total control. Meanwhile their genin clones practiced as well and by the time the sun started to set the areas around them were destroyed but the people within the barrier were extremely pleased.

"This could actually work." Akito said after as the two cooled down.

"Don't sound so surprised." Akira grumbled.

"You're still a knucklehead." Akito reminded his twin.

"And you're still a genius, let's not dwell on things we both know already." Akira snorted. "When we meet Gaara and Orochimaru in the Forest of Death, should we be in these forms or our normal forms?" He flipped his braid back over his right shoulder.

"We can't show these forms too soon… They will know that we aren't genin, so we will have to risk showing some of our true abilities." Akito reasoned and Akira nodded and snapped his fingers. The two became covered in smoke and the henges dropped down and they became their normal selves again. They both snapped their fingers and their permanent clones disappeared in puffs of smoke.

"Ready to head home Nar?" Shikamaru stretched his arms above his head.

"Yeah, I'm helping your mom cook this time. I think your dad is going to try to wrangle you into a game of shogi." Naruto commented as he dropped the barrier and stuck the seal back into the stack he had before he sealed them into his scroll once more.

"I know I can beat him, but if I don't give it my best dad will know. I can't believe that my own father has become so troublesome." Shikamaru sighed as the two headed towards the Nara compound. "You know, they wouldn't mind if you called them mom and dad…"

"…I've never really got to say those words to anyone before… I mean I said it to the chakra memory of my parents, but that was it…" Naruto explained slowly.

"You feel like you're betraying them if you called my parents mom and dad… I don't think that the Yellow Flash and the Red Hot Habanero would mind if you did… They'd just want you to be happy." Shikamaru tilted his chin upwards. Naruto's gaze rested upon the Yondaime's face on the hill.

"You're right." He blew out a puff of air.

"Of course I am, now come on." Shikamaru opened the front door and the two entered, toeing off their sandals.

"Welcome home Shika-chan, Naru-chan." Yoshino sang as the two entered the dining hall.

"Hi mom." The two said in sync and Yoshino beamed at how Naruto called her mom.

"Are you ready to learn a new dish tonight Naru-chan?" Yoshino asked and the blond nodded looking excited.

"You got that nickname from Kakashi-sensei didn't you?" Naruto asked, dismayed, planning to prank his sensei.

"A mother never reveals her sources." Yoshino placed her index finger on her lips, winking at him. "Oh Shika-chan, your father is waiting for you to play shogi."

"Maa, troublesome." Shikamaru sighed and slouched out of the room to find his father.

"Good luck Shika!" Naruto called before giving Yoshino his full attention to learn a new dish. It was really nice spending time with her and being able to eat home cooked meals day after day was a bonus. On the frontlines you had to live off of instant meals and soldier pills when there was a brief lull in the fighting. So this right now was heaven for his stomach, he was forgoing instant ramen until after the first round of the chunin exams at least.

Shikamaru padded into the same room that he and his father played shogi after Asuma's death. He took a deep breath to steel his emotions before he slid open the door to see his father already sitting by the set up shogi board.

"You have been avoiding me." Shikaku stated as Shikamaru lowered himself across from his father.

"I've been busy father… My team has been learning elemental jutsus and we are entered in the chunin exams." Shikamaru gave his father two new pieces of information.

"Oh, what are your elements?" Shikaku asked curiously as he made his move.

"Raiton, Katon, and Doton." Shikamaru reported as he made his counter move.

"How are you coming along with those?" Shikaku kept his surprise out of his voice, but Shikamaru caught it.

"Asuma-sensei says I'm ready to start practicing B-Rank soon." Shikamaru said. It was true- his sensei had given him a scroll full of B-Rank jutsus after seeing that Shikamaru had mastered all the ones from the C-Rank scrolls.

"Good for you Shikamaru." Shikaku said, pride coloring his words.

"Thanks dad." Shikamaru ducked his head; his cheeks pink as he made another move and scanned the board. If he kept playing the way he was then he would beat his father in three moves.

"So Ino-chan hasn't been trying to get a later meeting time out of your sensei yet?" Shikaku asked as he made another move.

"…She's tried, but when Asuma-sensei said he was thinking of nominating us for the chunin exams she stopped." Shikamaru thought fast.

"Hmm." Shikaku frowned as he took in the move his son just made. It was amateur at best and he quickly made a move, beating his son.

"Good game dad." Shikamaru studied the board like he was trying to see how his father beat him.

"Is something troubling you Shika-chan? This wasn't up to your usual standards." Shikaku commented, leaning his elbows on the corners of the shogi board.

"…The chunin exams." Shikamaru said slowly, it wasn't a lie. He was worried about Orochimaru and the invasion. He was worried about meeting their Kazekage and seeing Temari again, his feelings for her were still there even with going back to the past.

"Your team's teamwork is some of the best I've seen. That is what these exams are about, just combine your skills and you will be fine." Shikaku said in his own encouraging way.

"Thanks for the advice dad. We better go make sure mom and Nar haven't burned down the kitchen yet." Shikamaru stood up and brushed off his pants.

"You go ahead, I'll put the board away." Shikaku waved his hand and Shikamaru bowed his head before he walked out of the room.

Shikaku turned back to the board and examined the game. His eyes narrowed and he clicked his tongue as he spotted the strategy his son had in place before he made that amateur move. If Shikamaru had kept going on his strategy then he would have won the game in three moves. He ran the conversation over in his head as he crossed his arms, hands in his large sleeves. He frowned; he didn't recall Inoichi saying anything about Ino complaining about getting up for training at 7 AM. He also had seen Asuma in the village at 8 AM some mornings when Shikamaru and Naruto had left for training.

Things were not adding up and it was only adding to the puzzle that had began forming the moment Shikamaru had brought home the Kyuubi's jinchūriki. Shikaku balanced his chin in his hand and stared thoughtfully at the board. Shikamaru's style had changed; it was more aggressive while defending, almost perfectly mirroring a war plan.

"Maybe the chunin exams will shed some light on it." Shikaku sighed as he started to clear the board. He stopped when he noticed that the king was guarded to the maximum, like the whole strategy was based around protecting it.

He shook his head and finished clearing the board and headed towards the dining hall to eat with his family. Naruto was included in his family now. He may not be a full-blooded Nara or even one by marriage but he was Shikamaru's brother and therefore his son, so if anyone tried to harm either of his sons the jounin commander would not hesitate. He stepped into the kitchen to see Shikamaru's eye twitching as Naruto, Chiyo who was placed on the blond's shoulders, and Yoshino laughed uproariously at the genin and he smiled. Yes, he would do anything to protect his family.

Chapter 5

"Are we done yet?" Shikamaru asked the blond, his arms loaded down with bags.

"Mom gave us a long list, we aren't even half way through it." Naruto shook the long piece of paper.

"Now that she has two students, she's been poring over all her cookbooks." Shikaku said amused at the sight of the two boys, both burdened with bags of food like he was.

"She's a slave driver dad, I've burnt myself more cooking than I did when I was learning how to use explosive tags." Naruto grumbled as they walked down the street of the busy marketplace, face impassive at the harsh glares and words sent his way.

However they were considerably less because the head and the heir of the Nara clan were flanking him, Shikamaru automatically on Naruto's right. Shikaku had taken note of this and let his son stay where he seemed most comfortable and if that was where a soldier usually stood when walking with his superior then so be it. The head of the Nara clan would find out the truth soon, he always did.

"Are you seeing this Kakashi?" Asuma blew out a stream of smoke.

"Usually seeing is believing, but even I'm having a hard time believing this." Kakashi leaned on the railing on the roof of one of the stores that overlooked the marketplace, his visible eye trained on his blond student. Said student was currently food shopping with Shikaku and Shikamaru Nara.

"I knew that Naruto was integrated into Shikamaru's clan but I didn't think he was this integrated." Asuma scratched his beard and told Kakashi of what he saw that day when he played shogi with Shikamaru.

The two jounin senseis watched as Naruto said something, Shikamaru laughed and elbowed the blond while Shikaku shook his head fondly and ruffled both the boys' hair.

"We should invite our teams to dinner, to gauge their relationship." Kakashi said slowly, a plan forming.

"THAT IS A YOUTHFUL IDEA MY ETERNAL RIVAL! I SHALL INFORM MY TEAM TO MEET YOUR OTHER YOUTHFUL TEAMS AT 7 TONIGHT AT THE USUAL BBQ PLACE." Gai shouted from behind the two, startling the bearded jounin. The silver-haired jounin sighed at the loud voice.

"Looks like it's happening then. I'll go inform my team and Kurenai's, you can tell Naruto and Shikamaru." Asuma held up a hand before he disappeared in a puff of smoke to find Choji, Ino and his lover. Kakashi sighed before he dropped down into an alleyway and sauntered over to where the trio was standing.

"Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto waved both his arms at the silver-haired jounin cheerfully.

"Nara-sama, Shikamaru-kun right?" Kakashi raised a hand in greeting.

"Yes, Kakashi-sensei, nice to meet you." Shikamaru inclined his head slightly to the older man.

"I came to tell you two, that if you're free the other teams are all meeting up tonight at Yakiniku Q around 7 for dinner." Kakashi invited the two genin; the preteens exchanged small glances before turning to Shikaku who rubbed his neck.

"I can hold Yoshino-chan off for tonight." Shikaku said, his voice portraying his dread at the coming storm that was his wife.

"We'll be there Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto gave his sensei thumbs up. Shikamaru just yawned. "That means he's in… I'm learning Nara speak."

Kakashi gave an eye smile before he disappeared in a swirl of leaves as per usual. Shikamaru and Naruto exchanged knowing glances as Shikaku discreetly observed the two communicating silently and added it to the growing theory he was creating before the trio went on to try to finish the list Yoshino had assigned them.

Seven o'clock found Shikamaru and Naruto standing outside of Yakiniku Q, looking at the restaurant with dread.

"Just act normal, let's see what they can infer from our behavior." Naruto suggested with a smirk.

"Should be fun." Shikamaru returned the smirk as the two entered the restaurant, easily spotting Kakashi, Asuma, Kurenai, Gai, Sakura, Choji, Ino, Hinata, Kiba, Akamaru, Shino, Lee, and Tenten right away. Looks like Sasuke and Neji didn't even bother to show up, well that was fine with the two, as they hated their younger selves so it was no big loss.

"Glad you could make it." Asuma gestured to the two remaining seats, right across from their senseis. Shikamaru raised a hand in greeting and Naruto beamed as the two slid into the seats and looked around the table.

Asuma and Kakashi watched their genins' faces carefully as the two smiled at the people around them as introductions and greetings were exchanged. They saw many emotions flash in their eyes including fond recognition of Tenten and Lee even though they had never met before this dinner. There was also an underlying sadness and darkness within their eyes. The two jounin exchanged subtle glances and they both came to the silent agreement to keep a careful eye on the two genin.

"I'll take that." Shikamaru snagged a piece of food off of Naruto's plate and swallowed it with a smirk.

"That wasn't nice Shikamaru!" Ino narrowed her eyes at her teammate.

"He hated that anyways, what's the big deal?" Shikamaru asked as he slowly chewed his food.

"He's right, and I'll be taking this." Naruto snagged something from Shikamaru's plate. "He's allergic to it." He cut off Ino before she could say anything, she sat back blinking in shock.

"Sakura-chan, why aren't you eating?" Naruto glanced at his teammate's plate in concern. He had really hoped she was off of her stupid diet- hell, even Ino was eating normally.

"I'm not hungry that's all." She defended and Ino picked up on what was going on and turned her intense blue gaze on the pink-haired girl.

"You're not still on that stupid diet are you?" Ino asked sharply and the girl sputtered. "It's not healthy and if you're training then you are burning it off. If you want to have any chance of beating me in the chunin exams then you have to eat, billboard brow." Ino used Sakura's old name to get her friend angry and it worked if the tick on her forehead was anything to go by, but she started in on her plate with gusto.

Kakashi and Naruto smiled at the blonde in thanks and she blushed slightly. Shikamaru turned to Shino with a faraway look in his eyes, Naruto stepped on the Nara's foot under the table.

"How are you Shino-kun?" Shikamaru asked softly and the Aburame looked up at the Nara in surprise.

"I am well and yourself?" He asked from behind the wide collar of his coat.

"I'm getting pretty good at my clan's jutsus, how are you and your kikaichū developing?" Shikamaru asked, sincerely interested. The Aburame and Kurenai both looked at the Nara in shock.

Naruto smiled slightly when he saw the upturn of Shino's lips just over the top of his collar before the blond turned towards Tenten and Lee after pushing some beef onto Choji's plate, seeing the Genin had finished his. He got a bright smile in return.

"So Tenten-chan, I hear you are the weapons mistress of Konoha." Naruto said, excitement lacing his voice.

"My father owns the best weapon shop in town and I love every sort of weapon." Tenten admitted, her eyes brightening at the talk of weapons.

"I've been wondering about katanas lately, can you tell me a bit more about them?" Naruto asked, curious as to what her father's shop had in stock, not being able to go and visit it himself nor as Akira- not yet at least. Tenten beamed and she launched into the conversation with Naruto about the different types of katana her father had and what each one was used for.

Naruto was paying rapt attention and adding his two cents every so often as he was reminded of the conversations he and Shikamaru had with the future Tenten when they got their (not yet legendary) katanas causing his eyes to soften. Their conversation finished as she went to take a drink of water, her eyes still bright from talking about her passion.

"So Lee-kun, you're the one who walks around Konoha on his hands. That is really impressive! I don't think I could ever do that!" Naruto laughed, being totally truthful as he and Lee had a contest in the future and Naruto ended up laying flat on his back and his arms like jello. The green clad ninja had had to carry him around on his back for the rest of the day; it was quite the sight to be seen, as he was Rokudaime Hokage at the time.

"Thank you Naruto-kun! If you ever want to train with me I will welcome a new sparring partner!" Lee said in his 'youthful' voice.

"Taijutsu right? I'm looking forward to it Bushy Brows!" Naruto held his hand out and Lee beamed as he shook it.

"YOSH! I will await our sparring match Naruto-kun!" Lee beamed and Gai rambled on in the background about the 'Power of Youth'.

"You know Lee-kun, Naru-chan here took Sasuke-kun down yesterday." Kakashi spoke up and the whole table froze to look at the blond who laughed nervously. Shikamaru shook his head fondly, if not a bit irritated at the fact the blond showed some of his true skill, and Sakura huffed.

"He attacked me from behind, I just reacted." Naruto admitted. After all, it was what happened.

"That is most youthful Naruto-kun! I will train to surpass you!" Lee clenched his fist and his eyes burst into 'youthful' flames. Shikamaru smiled to himself, this might let Lee avoid fighting Sasuke and therefore Sasuke won't copy Lee's famous taijutsu move.

"Here you go Akamaru." Shikamaru gave a piece of food to the ninken. Akamaru yipped happily and chewed contently on the offered food.

"That's his favorite food." Kiba said slightly shocked as he ran his fingers through Akamaru's fur. "How did you know?"

"I just remembered it from our Academy days." Shikamaru played it off as Akamaru licked Shikamaru's fingers fondly, whining lowly like he sensed all Shikamaru's emotions he quickly scaled up onto the Nara's lap and then easily moved up onto the genin's shoulders. Shikamaru being used to this from the future timeline, just sat still until Akamaru made himself comfortable before he went back to eating.

"What?" Shikamaru asked, looking up at the shocked Team 8.

"Nothing…" Kiba said eyes locked on the Nara who just shrugged and went back to his meal.

"How are you doing Hinata-chan?" Naruto asked softly and the Hyuuga heir squeaked slightly.

"I-I'm g-good Nar-Naruto-kun. H-how a-are y-y-you?" She stammered out, fingers twiddling bashfully.

"I'm excited for the chunin exams! Are you entering?" He asked, smiling softly at her stammer, he now found it adorable.

"Y-yes. I-I know y-you will b-be g-great." Hinata stuttered.

"I know you will give it your all Hinata-chan and no matter what happens I'll be proud of you!" Naruto beamed at her, referring to her future fight with Neji, but she didn't know that yet.

"T-thank you N-Naruto-kun!" She squeaked as her cheeks heated up and she slumped back in her chair unconscious.

"She always does that! Is she sick or something?" Naruto asked Kurenai worriedly.

"No, she'll be fine Naruto-kun." Kurenai giggled and went to try to wake the Hyuuga girl up.

"Good, that's a relief." Naruto smiled and Shikamaru sighed.

No matter the time Naruto was still dense when it came to girls.

The senseis watched the teams interact over the course of the dinner and was both pleased and confused at how Shikamaru and Naruto talked with the other genin.

"So… that was interesting." Asuma lit up a cigarette as he stood with the other jounin outside after their students left.

"Naruto-kun and Shikamaru-kun's eyes hold such hidden sorrow." Gai said in a rather somber tone.

"And they were directed at our genin. They were also talking with them like they had known the others all their lives." Kurenai said, having been briefed by Asuma.

"You said that Nara-sama seems to know Naruto-kun personally?" She turned to Kakashi.

"From the sounds of it he is a regular guest at their clan home, he and Shikamaru-kun seem very close." Kakashi said.

"I saw Naruto-kun at the Nara compound, going to help one of Shikamaru's cousins help herd deer and she seemed to know him quite well." Asuma let out a narrow stream of smoke from his lips. "However Shikamaru had never mentioned him before."

"There is something going on with those two." Kakashi said as he pulled out his Icha Icha Paradise. "Nothing we can do now until after the exams are over."

"My eternal rival is correct!" Gai clenched his fists in his dramatic style.

"Did you say something?" Kakashi didn't look up from his book, Asuma and Kurenai rolled their eyes as Gai ranted about how 'hip' and 'cool' his rival was.

"So how did we do?" Naruto asked as he and Shikamaru lay on Shikamaru's usual cloud watching hill, this time watching the sun dye the horizon a beautiful mixture of colors.

"We piqued our senseis' interests, but I think we started the foundations for a strong friendship with the others." Shikamaru said after a moment of silence.

"I think so too… tomorrow the Sand Siblings come to town…" Naruto said, pillowing his head on his hands.

"It's going to be weird seeing Gaara all bloodthirsty again." Shikamaru closed his eyes briefly as Temari's face flashed in his mind. "Then the exams begin, all our plans start and we can really make a difference."

"I wonder if seeing Shukaku will wake Kurama up." Naruto wondered aloud, poking at his seal.

"That would be useful, having more information on how we even got here would be an added bonus." Shikamaru agreed.

"Until tomorrow then…" Naruto stated and the two fell into a comfortable silence.

Chapter 6

"Wake up you lazy brat. I finally wake up from my nap and you aren't even awake." Kurama's voice echoed inside of Naruto's head and the blond snapped his eyes open, seeing he was in the shared mindspace.

"Kurama? Are you finally awake after all this time? You sent us back to the past you fuzzball and then you have the nerve to take a nap!" Naruto ranted at the Kyuubi.

"You should be more grateful brat, using that space-time jutsu could have killed me. I sent you two back to the past to make sure the war never happens and none of my siblings are used to make that beast." Kurama flicked his tails annoyed while Naruto dodged them with ease, too used to this form of annoyance from the Nine-Tails.

"So this is all real, everyone is still alive?" Naruto asked as he managed to curl up next to the fox's furry face.

"It's all real kit, you can stop it all from playing out the way it did in the future." Kurama assured the small blond.

"Thank you Kurama! You're the best, I don't care what anyone says!" Naruto somehow wrapped his little 12-year-old arms around Kurama's large black nose. The Kyuubi huffed slightly, but allowed the genin to hug him.

"The chunin exams are starting tomorrow… Today is the day I meet Gaara for the first time… How do you think it will go with Shukaku sealed inside of him?" Naruto asked, concerned for the future Kazekage. "I don't really want to fight him again right after I fight Neji, but I will if I have to."

"I have a theory, but until you see Gaara I won't know if it is plausible." Kurama said slowly.

"Fine, don't share with the rest of the class then you furball." Naruto huffed and Kurama batted him with one of his tails. "I should go, if I'm going to save Konohamaru from Kankuro then I better be off."

"Hm." Kurama grunted as Naruto faded from the mindspace.

Naruto opened his eyes and looked around to see Shikamaru had already gotten up and was most likely out herding the deer or helping his mom make breakfast. Naruto rolled off his bed and pulled on his orange jumpsuit and absently wondered what clothes he should get after the chunin exams were done. He padded down the hallway and entered the dining hall to see Shikamaru, Yoshino and Shikaku already there.

"Morning Naru-chan, you're just in time." Yoshino sang as the blond slid into a chair as she and Shikamaru served up breakfast.

"This looks great Shika, mom." Naruto slapped his hands together in thanks before attacking his food with gusto.

Yoshino smiled good-naturedly and Shikaku smirked a bit while Shikamaru rolled his eyes fondly before he too attacked his food. Yoshino and Shikaku exchanged pleased looks; their boys were getting up to a healthy weight. Their pale skin had darkened a bit thanks to the time he spent out in the sun and they had also started to grow height-wise as puberty slowly started to descend upon them.

"So what do you two plan on doing today?" Yoshino asked as she too started in on her food.

"I promised Konohamaru we would play 'ninja' today so I'm going to find him." Naruto said and Shikamaru gave a knowing nod.

"I'm going to go find Asuma-sensei and see if he wants to go cloud watching. I know Ino and Choji are busy today." Shikamaru shrugged his shoulders.

"Just be back in time to herd the deer." Shikaku reminded the two.

"Yes, dad." They said before stacking their empty plates in the sink, with waves at the two adults the two genin left the Nara compound for the day.

"The furball finally woke up and told me he did a space time jutsu and all this is real." Naruto reported to Shikamaru as they walked into the village.

"We'll talk more when we herd the deer tonight, we should have more to talk about after you encounter Gaara." Shikamaru decided before the two nodded at each other and they parted ways.

"Let go of me you big bully!" Konohamaru's voice caught Naruto's fox enhanced ears. Looks like he needed to hurry if Konohamaru had already encountered Kankuro. He focused and appeared next to Konohamaru and placed his hand tightly on Kankuro's wrist before Sasuke could throw his pebble from his hiding place in the nearby tree.

"I would put him down if I were you, hurting the Sandaime's grandson will do nothing for the alliance between our nations." Naruto spoke calmly to Kankuro, wincing as Kankuro's dead face overlapped with Kankuro's current one.

"The Sandaime's grandson? This little brat?" Kankuro huffed and released Konohamaru who scurried up Naruto's back, clinging to his shoulders and trembling slightly. Naruto caught Sakura muttering the same thing from behind him.

"Yes, I take it you're here for the chunin exams?" His gaze flitted between Kankuro and Temari, holding back a smile at his future friends.

"Yes we are, we are from Suna." Temari responded haughtily.

"Welcome to Konoha." Naruto bowed his head in respect to his future allies.

"Kankuro, Temari." A far too familiar voice called out as Gaara joined their group. Naruto felt his lips twitch upwards at the little version of the Kazekage. "Don't make a scene." Right away the two backed off, fear tinting their eyes. Naruto's gaze hardened, he would have to fix this and soon.

"What is your name?" Gaara stared the blond down.

"Naruto Uzumaki and this is my teammate Sakura Haruno." Naruto bowed his head in respect for the future Kage.

"Sabaku no Gaara. My siblings Kankuro and Temari… Mother is interested in you, but does not want me to kill you… We will meet again Naruto Uzumaki." Gaara's teal eyes narrowed. Something in them showed recognition at the blond in front of him.

"Yes we shall Gaara, I'm looking forward to it." Naruto said evenly and kept his gaze level as Gaara's eyes looked back at him, surprised at the response. Kankuro and Temari shot Naruto a look that expressed their thoughts of the blond. That is to say, they thought Naruto was insane for looking forward to meeting Gaara again.

"Are you okay Konohamaru?" Naruto looked down at the child on his shoulders once the Sand Siblings were out of sight.

"Yeah… You were so cool Naruto-Nii-Chan!" Konohamaru announced, eyes wide as he grinned up at his blond hero.

"Heh, heh thanks." Naruto chuckled; he shot a glance up at the tree where he knew Sasuke was perched before he turned around and started to walk away, listening to Konohamaru ramble on in childlike awe.

"So that went well." Naruto thought as he played 'ninja' with Konohamaru.

"Better than I thought, my theory is correct. When you go to herd deer tonight, enter our mindspace and I'll know for sure." Kurama instructed the genin, who gave a mental noise of agreement before turning all his attention to Konohamaru for the rest of the day.

After Naruto dropped Konohamaru off at his home, Naruto decided to wander a bit to kill time until he had to meet Shikamaru to help herd deer.

"Naruto!" A voice called out, Naruto let a huge smile cross his lips as he turned and spotted Iruka-sensei hurrying over to where the blond stood, waving one arm in greeting.

"Iruka-sensei!" Naruto shouted, waving both his arms wildly. He had really missed his big brother and he hadn't seen the chunin in such a long time.

"I haven't seen you around lately! How are you doing?" Iruka questioned as he fell into step beside the blond who adjusted their course to head to the chunin's apartment.

"My team has been entered for the chunin exams Iruka-sensei! Can you believe it?" Naruto bounced on his heels excitedly as the duo walked, he spotted Iruka's face darken briefly at these words, but his features brightened before he smiled at the blond genin.

Naruto then remembered that Kakashi had told him in the future that he was terrified of Iruka-sensei; the chunin had been very vocal about Kakashi's decision to enter team 7 in the exams. However it led to a strong bond between the two and Naruto secretly agreed with Ino when she had said that the two were the perfect balance for each other and should just hook up. Perhaps it would happen this time around, then both his big brothers would be happy!

"I heard! Naruto, do you know what could happen in these exams?" Iruka asked seriously, snapping the blond out of his thoughts.

"Yeah! Kakashi-sensei told us about them! He was really serious about it actually and he seemed worried for our safety, but I have a good feeling about these exams Iruka-sensei! Just you wait, I'm working my way up to Hokage!" Naruto gave Iruka a foxy grin and watched, as the tension seemed to leave Iruka's form as they arrived at Iruka's apartment.

"That's good, just be careful Naruto." Iruka said, heaving a resigned sigh. Naruto felt his willpower break and he flung his arms around Iruka's waist and buried his face in the chunin's flak jacket, inhaling the calming scent. He felt Iruka startle before arms wrapped around his shoulders tightly in a hug.

"Thanks for worrying Iruka-sensei." Naruto muttered.

"I'll always worry about you Naruto." Iruka chided gently. "Just stay alive."

"Don't do anything stupid when I'm not around, like hunt down Kakashi-sensei and scold him." Naruto gave a cheeky smile as the two broke their brotherly embrace.

"There's an idea." Iruka smirked.

"I think that he will be worrying just as much as you, so don't go too hard on him Iruka-sensei!" Naruto shouted back over his shoulder as he jumped off the railing of the building and leapt across the rooftops.

"I should talk to him, I guess offering him ramen couldn't hurt." Iruka muttered to himself as he opened his front door.

"Since the village didn't get destroyed by Shukaku, I'm going to assume the meeting with Gaara went well." Shikamaru guessed as the two wandered the forest on the Naras' land later that night.

"He said 'mother' was interested in me, but didn't want Gaara to kill me… I think Shukaku has some issues or the power of his actual mother is mixing with Shukaku's rage at being sealed." Naruto guessed as he spotted some deer grazing in the distance.

"So can Kurama shed any light on it?" Shikamaru snorted at Naruto's words.

"He said I should go into our mindspace tonight and he will know if his theory is correct." Naruto shrugged.

"So in other words, you're leaving the deer herding to me?" Shikamaru gave the blond a disgruntled look.

Naruto made a hand seal and a single shadow clone appeared next to Shikamaru. "Not completely, this will help ward off any questions as to where I went."

"You better tell me everything that happens." Shikamaru warned and Naruto snapped off an ANBU salute. Shikamaru just waved the blond off before he and the shadow clone went off to herd the deer while the real Naruto leapt up into the trees and made himself comfortable on a wide tree branch. He closed his eyes and took a few soothing breaths before his pupils slitted and he entered his and Kurama's mindspace.

"This isn't our usual mindspace…" Naruto looked around on guard, as Kurama appeared next to him in a pure white space.

"No, this is the mindspace that we the tailed beasts share. It isn't affected by time or space…" Kurama explained and Naruto processed this.

"So you're saying that any of the other Bijuu could show up here?" Naruto squeaked in alarm.

"Been a long time you brat." A voice rumbled and Naruto spun around to see Shukaku appearing in the mindspace and right away the blond leapt up onto Kurama's head for safety.

"You're not going to try to kill me are you?" He asked, fingers clenching Kurama's red fur.

"Calm down, I remember everything from the future." Shukaku sat down, winding his large tail around his body.

"So you're not going to cause havoc this time around?" Naruto asked hopefully.

"Too much hassle." Shukaku huffed.

"What about Gaara? Are you going to keep tormenting him and make him call you 'mother'?" Naruto pressed, worried for the redhead.

"That wasn't completely me making him call me that, it was the link to his mother's power in his sand." Shukaku protested annoyed. "But even if I was willing to be friends with the little brat since he fought to save me from being sealed… I can't do much about it if his seal is still as flimsy as it is now. If he falls asleep or gets too angry then it will break and I will be released and it will do more harm than good to both him and the people around him at the time."

"Shikamaru and I have a plan to fix his seal during the chunin exams, if you could tell Gaara not to freak out and kill us with his sand while we re-seal him that would be great." Naruto said honestly.

"I'll pass on the message." Shukaku nodded his head and suddenly a new tailed beast appeared.

"Naruto." The beast intoned surprised.

"Gyuki!" Naruto beamed at the Eight-tailed Octopus-Cow-demon. "You remember too! How's B doing?"

"Still rapping, but completely alive thanks to you two I'm guessing." The Hachibi surmised.

"Kurama here did some space-time jutsu so we can stop everything that happened from well happening." Naruto explained and blinked as the rest of the tailed beasts appeared. He sat back on Kurama's head as the Bijuu reunited with each other and exchanged notes.

"Well this could work well for us in the future." Naruto muttered to Kurama who just grunted, still slightly annoyed that the blond had the balls to sit on his head, he didn't know how the toads stood it.

"What is your plan Naruto-kun? I want to keep Fuu safe this time around." Chomei turned to the blond and the other Bijuu made agreeing noises.

"The best thing you all can do right now is make sure you are on good terms with your jinchūriki and warn them of the coming threat. For those who aren't integrated into their village, send them to Killer B. We're stronger when we are together and since we know what is coming this time we can be prepared and everyone can learn to work together and create their own chakra shrouds like Kurama and I did during the war." Naruto said unconsciously using his Kage voice thus causing all the tailed beasts to pay attention to his words.

Kurama felt a small amount of pride rush through his being at how all his siblings were listening to the blond's words.

"Once Shikamaru, Gaara and myself finish the chunin exams we will arrange a meeting of all the jinchūriki someplace safe and I will fix their seals if needed." Naruto finished outlining his plan and got nods from the Bijuu. "Great, well you all talk amongst yourselves, I've got deer to herd and Shukaku you have a message to deliver!"

With that the blond focused and he disappeared from the shared mindspace.

"Your jinchūriki is something else Kurama." Matatabi commented.

"He's a brat." Kurama huffed as he settled down on his front paws.

"At least he isn't a girl who is discovering the opposite sex." Matatabi licked her paw and rubbed it behind her ear like a true cat.

"He has, he's just too dense to notice." Kurama smirked.

"Fuu just learned how to fly, she crashed through a lot of trees, but she did it!" Chomei commented smugly to Kokuo who nodded politely as he tried to find something that Han did, but he didn't think killing some bandits counted as an achievement.

"What are you even talking about Isobu? My jinchūriki is clearly the best! He can control our sand without me even being sealed inside of him." Shukaku boasted to the Three-Tail.

"Mine is the Mizukage." Isobu shot back.

"Mine will become the youngest ever Kazekage!" Shukaku insisted.

Goku shut his eyes to take a nap and Saiken followed suit. Kurama was just wondering why he thought bringing them all together was a good idea.

"Nice of you to join me." Shikamaru commented to Naruto as the blond sat beside him in the middle of the herd of deer, letting his shadow clone disappear as he was nuzzled by a fawn who was quite taken with the blond.

"You didn't need me to help herd after all." Naruto smirked as he pet the fawn softly. "So, it turns out the Bijuu have some sort of shared mindspace that transcends time and space so they all showed up and remembered. So we made a plan to warn all the other hosts of the growing threat and the ones who live away from their village to meet up with Killer B. I talked Shukaku into being nicer to Gaara and when we approach him, to stay still and let us fix his seal. Then I said after we finish with the whole chunin exam/invasion scenario, we would make all the other hosts meet up and plan out how we are going to survive this time around."

"You used your Kage voice didn't you?" Shikamaru asked, already knowing this plan as he helped Naruto develop it.

"Maybe…" Naruto said sheepishly.

Shikamaru snorted as he fed a different fawn. "Father is coming this way, be ready for a talk."

"You think he's figured it out yet?" Naruto whispered as Shikaku came into view.

"Maybe…" Shikamaru muttered back as Shikaku fed some of the deer before sitting down across from the two genin.

"How are you two holding up?" Shikaku asked, leaning back on his palms.

"Nervously." Naruto wiped his palms on his orange pants and Shikamaru nodded his head in agreement.

"I want to talk with you two about some things I've been noticing." Shikaku said slowly, gauging their expressions and body language. They didn't move from their spots on the grass and their faces took a look of impassiveness that betrayed nothing, very much like an ANBU.

"Like what, Father?" Shikamaru asked, his voice flat but prepared.

"Just a few inaccuracies with your reasoning as to why you two are always up by 6AM." Shikaku said in a tone that sounded like he was talking about the weather.

"Oh?" Naruto was honestly wondering where Shikaku was going.

"I don't think you two are going to meet your teams, I think you two are hiding something and I want to know why you two feel the need to hide your secret from me." Shikaku said concerned.

"You are a genius Shikaku-san." Naruto rubbed the back of his head.

"He is my dad, Nar." Shikamaru yawned, his signal for their newest half-truth to take place.

"I guess we have some explaining to do… During our time in the academy we were labeled 'dead-lasts'… That's not the case." Naruto started and he saw Shikaku was looking at the two intensely.

"We pulled our performances in class, the way they taught did nothing for us." Shikamaru interjected. "We found out that working together we could surpass everyone's expectations of us."

"The reason we have gotten up so early was so we could train together, we can encourage each other and work on our skills." Naruto said. "Some would call us prodigies I guess…"

"Why didn't you just tell us, me?" Shikaku asked, a look of betrayal flashing and Shikamaru felt guilt welling up in his stomach.

"We wanted to, dad… At the same time, we needed this to be a secret… We needed people to underestimate us." Shikamaru said softly.

"In this world, it is good to have a few surprises up your sleeves." Shikaku agreed as he traced the scars on his face as he sat in thought. "…How long have you two been training together?"

"Since the academy." Naruto said right away, the time they spent training together in the future and the time they spent in the academy almost lined up perfectly.

"That long huh?" Shikaku muttered.

"Sorry for not telling you sooner dad…" Shikamaru bowed his head, he felt all the emotions of his father dying during the war well back up, thinking that his father was disappointed in him. He blinked as a hand landed on his head and he glanced up to see his dad looking down at him with a small smile and kind eyes.

"I understand Shika-chan, I'm proud of you two for taking your training into your own hands. If you need any help don't hesitate to ask me, I would be glad to help you two… Now onto more current events, are you two ready for the chunin exams?" Shikaku smiled and both Naruto and Shikamaru slumped in relief.

"We're totally ready for this!" Naruto pumped his fist into the air.

"Maa, it'll be troublesome, but we've got this dad." Shikamaru assured his father as he scratched his head.

"I'll be looking forward to seeing both of you two in the final rounds." Shikaku said with confidence.

"We'll make it there." Naruto promised.

Chapter 7

"Today's the day." Naruto stated gravely as he and Shikamaru went to the exam building to meet their teams and begin the cursed chunin exams.

"Hmm." Shikamaru grunted, rubbing his eyes annoyed.

"The beginning of the end." Naruto went on.

"Do you really have to monologue our impending doom?" Shikamaru cast a sideways glance at the orange clad genin.

"I think it makes things more exciting." Naruto grinned cheekily and ducked a swing from Shikamaru's arm.

"Like we need anymore excitement during this exam." Shikamaru snorted as the two came into view of the rest of their teammates.

"Understatement, time to show them a more serious side of Naruto Uzumaki." Naruto said in a low voice before simply raising a hand at Sakura and Sasuke who just huffed or hn'd and looked away.

"About time." Ino commented at Shikamaru who just rolled his eyes and the group entered the building.

"Okay, we need to go to the third floor." Sakura said looking up from the slip of paper Kakashi-sensei had given her.

"Before we go any further, Sakura-chan I want you to know that I will never give up no matter what the task or question is. I will never walk away from it, I expect you to do the same." Naruto commented to the pink-haired genin in a serious voice and she blinked, taken back.

"Okay, I will remember that Naruto." Sakura nodded, not having expected that from the blond.

"Okay, let's go then." Naruto nodded and strode forward with his head and shoulders held high and sturdy, Shikamaru noted it was the same one he used when he led the troops on the front lines as Hokage. Shikamaru quickly fell into step with the blond at his right with the rest of the two teams following closely behind them.

Naruto spotted Team Gai right away and waved cheerfully at Lee and Tenten who waved back before moving on. Shikamaru smiled glad they avoided the Sasuke vs. Lee fight. Lee had worked hard on his taijutsu and it was unfair that Sasuke could copy it the moment he saw it. The only reason he and Naruto knew it was because Lee and Gai taught them their type of taijutsu, the same for learning the Hyuuga's clan style from Neji and Hinata.

They spotted Team 8 yelling at a chunin to let them pass, but Shikamaru, Naruto, and Sasuke saw through it easily. Shikamaru motioned to his team and silently they walked past the crowd and up to the true third floor.

"Where are they going?" Sakura hissed at Naruto.

"The real third floor, this is a genjutsu." Naruto whispered and quickly slapped his hand over Sasuke's mouth. "Don't say a word, if they can't even see past a low level genjutsu then they shouldn't be competing." Naruto hissed and proceeded to drag the Uchiha up the stairs to the real third floor and smiled as Shino said something to his team and Kiba huffed, but followed Shino's lead and silently left the crowd.

"Maa, my cute little genin, you made it here and as a team no less." Kakashi said with an eye smile as he appeared in a puff of smoke as Team 7 arrived on the third floor. He bit back a smile at the sight of Naruto dragging Sasuke with his hand over his mouth.

"What do you mean by that Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura asked, confused.

"He means Sakura-chan, that if we arrived not as a team then we wouldn't be able to move onto the next part of the exam." Naruto fielded the question and Kakashi nodded his head signaling Naruto was correct.

"Good luck my cute little genin." Kakashi gave another eye smile before he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"Remember what I said Sakura-chan, and keep in mind I'm not completely useless." Naruto reminded Sakura as the trio entered the room, Sasuke following them frowning and silently fuming.

Naruto looked around the room to see ninja already in there. He spotted Shikamaru's team seated and the Nara looking extremely bored, nothing new there. He saw Kabuto already playing the 'innocent' genin, handing out statistic cards to other genin in the room. Naruto had to keep an animalistic growl held in at the sight of the 'genin', that might be why Shikamaru had his eyes closed. Naruto forced the rest of his team into seats and balanced his chin on his hand as he observed the room. Team 8 came in along with Team Gai and the Sand Siblings.

Naruto made eye contact with Gaara who nodded slightly at the blond and Naruto took this as a sign that Shukaku had talked to him. Well that was one step in the right direction at least. He also picked out the kunoichi that Orochimaru had taken the form of. The way Orochimaru was eyeing Sasuke was only making his resolve stronger.

After sending his team some glares that said to be quiet and not talk to anyone, Ibiki finally entered the room.

"Listen brats! The first part of the chunin exams will begin now! It is a written test and you have two hours!" Ibiki shouted at the room full of genin with slight distaste as he walked around, handing out sheets of paper. "If you get caught cheating then you and your team will be expelled from the room and you are out of the exam!" Ibiki stood at the front of the room after all the genin had their papers. "Your two hours begin… now!"

Naruto looked down at the paper and had to resist facepalming; these questions were easy, like academy easy, and had no real value in the real world, he would know after all. He went at it and finished it within an hour and then leaned back and observed the room. Shikamaru was leaning back in his chair, eyes closed, taking a nap. He spotted Gaara using a sand eyeball to spy as Shino did the same thing with his insects. Throughout the two hours Ibiki would call out people he caught cheating- the exact same people from the last time around.

"Alright brats you have made it to the final question, this will determine your fate. You will either pass or fail from here on out. If even one of your teammates decided to leave then your whole team will fail. You have five minutes to make your choice, those who remain will face the final question." Ibiki explained.

Silence fell over the room and slowly genin caved and raised their hands and left the exam room. Naruto pinned a shaking Sakura with a small glare and she caught his eye and straightened her back determinedly. Finally the time passed and Ibiki glanced around the room, his face impassive.

"You brats pass the first part of the exam. Congrats." He said plainly. The room suddenly felt lighter and not as tense as before just as the window smashed in as Anko flew in and a banner dropped down with her name written on it.

"Listen up you maggots! The second part of the exams will overseen by me, the beautiful and sexy Anko Mitarashi!" Anko smirked, hands on her hips. "The second part of the exam will take place in Area 44 also known as the Forest of Death, be there in 15 minutes." She smiled sadistically before disappearing in a puff of smoke alongside Ibiki.

Naruto stood up from his seat and stretched his arms above his head; he took in the nervous faces of the people around him as the genin made their way to Area 44. Naruto made sure to catch Shikamaru's eye as they gathered with the other genin by the fenced in forest. He kept running over the events that happened in the forest and the plan they developed.

"It'll be fine, brat. Your plan is solid just don't overthink it." Kurama said in his own way of soothing the genin's nerves.

"Thanks Kurama." Naruto breathed in a deep breath of air, calming himself.

"Listen up maggots, I'm only saying this once! Each team gets either a Scroll of Heaven or Scroll of Earth and teams are required to possess both in order to pass. You have five days to get to the tower in the middle of the forest with both scrolls, now sign these waivers stating that if you die in this exam then it's not our fault. Once you are inside there are no rules, now head to your gate and when you hear the whistle then the exam has begun." Anko explained and everyone signed the waivers after some hesitation.

"I'll see you in there Shika." Naruto muttered to the Nara who nodded and the two bumped fists before heading to their separate gates.

Naruto was surprised at how silent the other two were as the trio checked their equipment. Before they knew it, Anko blew the whistle and the gates swung open.

Chapter 8

"Let's get that scroll and go to the tower as fast as we can." Naruto rotated his shoulders.

"Who put you in charge?" Sakura growled as the group walked further into the forest.

"Hn." Sasuke took a right and when Sakura followed him, Naruto smirked and silently made a permanent shadow clone to travel with them while the real Naruto leapt high up into the trees.

He travelled towards where he sensed Shikamaru's chakra was coming from. Moving silently through the trees he kept an eye out for enemy ninja. He spotted Team 8, using Hinata's Byakugan to find the tower and Akamaru to find another team to fight. Naruto tensed as he leapt across the treetops knowing that Shino's bugs and Akamaru could figure out when he was nearby. He let out a breath of relief as he ducked between some leaves when Shino's head tilted upwards, but didn't indicate that he noticed anything.

Naruto perched on a tree branch and glanced down seeing Shikamaru leaping towards him, his own permanent shadow clone in his place with Ino and Choji.

"Are you ready to seal Gaara?" Naruto signed using ANBU hand signs and Shikamaru nodded. The two took off into the forest, Shikamaru following Naruto as the blond was a sensory type and could pinpoint where Gaara was located in the forest.

"Down there… damn, his sand just destroyed that team…" Naruto signed wincing at the bloody scene below. The duo dropped down to where the Sand Siblings were standing. Kankuro and Temari automatically dropped into their fighting stances, Temari's hand going to her giant iron fan and Kankuro flexing his fingers ready to use his puppets.

"Whoa, we aren't here to fight." Naruto held his hands up in surrender.

"You, you're… Naruto Uzumaki?" Kankuro didn't relax his stance as he eyed the two distrustfully.

"Mother told me to expect you… I will hold back my sand for as long as I can." Gaara intoned much to the surprise of his siblings.

"I'm going to set up a barrier that will make you immobile and Shikamaru here will use his clan's jutsu to help keep your sand back. Trust us Gaara." Naruto explained truthfully. The redhead Suna ninja tilted his head to the side for a moment before he nodded his assent.

"Gaara, are you sure?" Temari asked, confused.

"Mother assured me Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara would not harm me." Gaara said emotionlessly.

"Alright let's hurry then." Naruto fished out a seal and held it between his right index finger and middle finger.

"Activate!" The seal glowed Kyuubi red as Naruto slammed it on the ground and a barrier engulfed the area around Gaara and Naruto.

"Shadow Stitching." Shikamaru made the right seal as he knelt on the ground, letting his shadow reach out. Black tendrils lifted off the ground, wrapping themselves around the future Kazekage and his sand that was trying its hardest to react to the threat.

"Hurry Nar." Shikamaru gritted out, sweat trickling down the side of his head, his shadows working its hardest to restrain Gaara's sand that was slowly breaking free of the tendrils and the power of the barrier seal.

"On it!" Naruto pulled out another seal and dashed forward, he ducked under a stream of sand and made it to Gaara. With one hand Naruto tore the clothing blocking Gaara's stomach, exposing the horribly created seal.

"FUIN!" He shouted as he slammed the new seal onto Gaara's skin as Shikamaru's jutsu wavered more and another stream of sand sliced at Naruto's cheek, giving him a cut that matched the one he got from Anko from the last time they did the chunin exams. Red and blue chakra erupted from between the two and swirled like a maelstrom contained inside of the barrier and Shikamaru dropped the jutsu and breathed heavily. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and shakily stood back up on his feet.

"What's happening!?" Temari shouted at Shikamaru with her fan out.

"Naruto is fixing Gaara's seal, it was hurting him more than it was helping him. It was a time bomb, it was made to fail." Shikamaru explained, hands up in surrender knowing from experience that Temari + her fan = fatal injuries.

"Explain now Nara." Temari growled and Shikamaru had to bite back a fond smile at the familiar threat.

"That seal was not made by a seal master, it was made as a last minute attempt to seal a tailed beast. Tailed beasts are very powerful and its power has been leaking out of the seal influencing Gaara's behavior. It has been harming both of them more than helping them. That is why Gaara has such large bags under his eyes from lack of sleep and that is why he is so bloodthirsty. With this new seal Gaara will change for the better and be able to sleep without worrying. His attitude towards people and life in general will improve." Shikamaru gave the two a long-winded explanation as the chakra within the barrier died down.

"Shikamaru is right, don't worry about Gaara- he can sleep easy now… Just do your best to be older siblings to him, he's going to need you." Naruto spoke to the two sand siblings as he brought down the barrier with a sleeping Gaara on his back piggyback style. He had bruises and scrapes visible on his skin.

"We will, we promise. If what you said is true then…" Kankuro took his little brother from Naruto and the group smiled at each other.

"Here… Think these might come in handy." Temari pulled a couple of scrolls out of her pack. "The group we ran into before had a couple on them."

"Oh I'll take that one." Naruto gladly accepted the earth scroll while Shikamaru took the heaven scroll with a smile at Temari who blushed slightly and looked away annoyed.

"Thanks, we'll see you guys at the tower." Naruto beamed before the two looked at each other before they disappeared in swirls of leaves.

"Those two are odd, but it's like they're familiar too, for some reason…" Temari wondered aloud to her brother as the group headed towards the tower.

"Yeah, but I think you just like the one with the pineapple hairstyle." Kankuro teased and Temari whacked him over the head with red cheeks.

"Pass me the earth scroll." Shikamaru called over to Naruto, the Hokage tossed it over to the Nara without question. The genin sealed the two scrolls into another scroll that he put back in his pack. "If our plan works then we will need these later."

"It's a good thing they had extra scrolls huh?" Naruto nodded his head. "Orochimaru should be attacking my team soon, we better get there before he uses his Fuuton jutsu. Hang onto me Shika." Shikamaru stretched his hand out and Shikamaru gripped the offered hand trustingly. Naruto sensed for his team's chakra and growled when he felt Orochimaru's chakra nearing them, Naruto quickly shunshin'd them to his team's location and landed on a tree branch above their heads where they were making a password.

"Any time now…" Naruto muttered to Shikamaru who nodded and tensed up. Sure enough moments later Orochimaru sent out a full scale Fuuton: Great Breakthrough.

"What now?" Sasuke cried out against the wind as it scattered the trio apart. Once Naruto's shadow clone was out of sight, the real Naruto released it and Shikamaru watched as the real Naruto dropped down to where Sasuke and Sakura were talking. Shikamaru observed Orochimaru (in Naruto's form) growl and back off.

The Nara disappeared in a swirl of leaves and appeared next to his team. He had his shadow clone walk into the bushes to go to the bathroom and quickly released it before he took its place.

"Listen up, something has happened. You two need to meet up with Sasuke, Sakura and then combine scrolls. You need to tell the jounin stationed at the tower that a snake has entered the exams." Shikamaru used his ANBU commander tone and watched as the two stood at attention taking in his words.

"Yes!" The two agreed, confused.

"What are you going to do Shikamaru?" Choji asked, worried for his friend.

"I'm going to help Naruto do some snake hunting. Now hurry!" Shikamaru threw his hand to the side. "We will catch up with you two at the tower as soon as we can. Don't worry, we'll be fine."

"Okay, stay safe." Ino nodded her head; she had a look of distaste on her face at the fact they had to leave Shikamaru behind. "Come on Choji, we need to move!"

"Yeah!" Choji gave Shikamaru one last worried look before the two took off towards the tower.

"Listen up, you two need to get out of here right now. Someone who can do that jutsu at that strength is higher than genin level." Naruto told the other two, using his Kage voice. The two straightened subconsciously.

"What about you?" Sakura asked fingering her pack where the Heaven scroll was located.

"I'll stay back and buy you two time." Naruto lied easily; he was planning on fighting Orochimaru. Sasuke looked outraged at being told what to do by the blond and Sakura was unsure about Naruto's plan. "I'll be able to distract the ninja with my shadow clones. I need you two to tell the jounin at the tower that a snake has entered the exam." He said sternly.

"A snake?" Sakura looked confused.

"We don't have time for this, leave now! Find Ino and Choji, they have an Earth scroll, go to the tower together and warn them." Naruto ordered.

"I can fight." Sasuke said stubbornly.

"Katon jutsus are going to be no use in this battle. Leave NOW!" Naruto almost shouted at the Uchiha, gritting his teeth.

"Fine." Sasuke ground his teeth and took off into the trees with Sakura hot on his heels. Shikamaru dropped down next to the blond and gave a stiff nod signaling that his team had been informed of what was happening.

"My, my, what do we have here? A Nara and the Kyuubi container, it must be my lucky day." Orochimaru called from a tree branch above the two still wearing the female Grass ninja's body.

"It would be our luck to get a cross-dressing snake." Naruto sighed dramatically as he stretched his arms.

"Do you have to badmouth a Sannin?" Shikamaru gave the blond a sideways glance.

"So you know who I am then." Orochimaru laughed and Naruto wiggled his pinky finger in his ear.

"Orochimaru, the Snake-bastard. By the way… toads are so much better." Naruto smirked.

Orochimaru's eye twitched at the words. Stupid blond must be a student of Jiraiya, he would take pleasure in killing him and throwing the blond's dead body at the feet of his old teammate and sensei, while taking control of the Kyuubi.

"Can we stop with all the trash talking now? I'd rather get this over with." Shikamaru sighed annoyed.

"As you wish Nara-kun." The Sannin flicked out his tongue like a snake. Shikamaru shuddered. The Snake Sannin made a few hand signs and a massive snake summon rose up with Orochimaru standing on its head.

"This is going to be fun." Naruto said with a grin.

"Raiton: False Darkness." Shikamaru made the snake seal and the clouds above the treetops darkened. He grinned as 10 lightning spears struck down towards Orochimaru and his snake. Orochimaru leapt off the head to avoid being speared and frowned in dismay as the lightning destroyed the snake completely.

"Fuuton: Wind Blade!" Naruto shouted as he slashed out at Orochimaru with his index and middle fingers. He had made shadow clones do the same jutsu and they spun around Orochimaru, slashing out violently at the ninja. Naruto landed on the ground beside Shikamaru and the shadow clones situated themselves around the two in a protective circle. "That was too easy." Naruto said calmly as he looked at the destroyed body of the Grass ninja.

"You're right Kyuubi-kun, what you destroyed was just a body I was possessing." Orochimaru's voice came from higher up and the two glanced up to see him standing in his original form.

"I still think he is a cross-dressing snake." Naruto grumbled and the preteen next to him stifled a giggle.

"You hurt me with your words." Orochimaru said with fake hurt in his voice. Naruto nodded and the shadow clones leapt up at Orochimaru, he just cackled and fought them off.

"Dust Cloud Ignition Technique." Naruto and Shikamaru called out together, Shikamaru supplying the stream of fire towards Orochimaru and Naruto adding his wind increasing the size and power as it engulfed Orochimaru who had just finished off the last of Naruto's shadow clones.

The two watched as the firestorm slowly died out and Orochimaru stood there, smoldering, but still intact.

Shikamaru's eyes darted around the clearing, something was off and all his senses were going crazy. He spotted a glint out of the corner of his eye and he moved as quickly as he could.

Shikamaru jumped behind Naruto and let out a scream of pain as he collapsed to the ground, curling up on his right side. A sword was sticking out of his left shoulder, one that was far too familiar. Orochimaru had flung Kusanagi at Naruto's unguarded back.

"SHIKAMARU!" Naruto shouted as he spun around to see the Nara on the ground, hands clutching at the sword that was protruding from his shoulder.

"N-Nar…" Shikamaru tried to get out but he had to grit his teeth in pain, eyes shut as he tried to control the pain that was wracking his body.

"You're going to regret that." Naruto said darkly as he rose up from where he was kneeling beside the fallen Nara.

"Let's get this snake, he is going to burn for all he's done." Kurama growled and Naruto couldn't agree more so he let Kurama's chakra flow through his veins.

He glanced up; his eyes were red and slitted as he opened his mouth baring his fangs while his whiskers darkened and his nails grew into fox claws. Orange chakra surrounded him and his hair stuck up like it did when he was fighting in the war. He decided to only show one of his original stages of his fusion with Kurama, he couldn't let Orochimaru know how well the two could work together so he only let two tails appear.

"Now things are getting interesting. Perhaps I should injure your little boyfriend more severely." Orochimaru smirked sadistically.

"Touch him and I'll rip you to shreds." Naruto growled like an enraged fox. Kurama's own angry voice was infused in Naruto's tone.

"Oh I do so hope you can back those threats up little fox." Orochimaru mocked. Suddenly Naruto disappeared in a flash of orange thanks to his chakra and re-appeared behind the Sannin.

Orochimaru had no time to react before he was pummeled with powerful chakra infused taijutsu on par with Tsunade, the blond switching the type of chakra he put into each blow. It ranged from Kurama's chakra to Raiton to Suiton. Each hit more powerful than the last, and Orochimaru could barely defend himself against any of the attacks. The blond was in a rage at the fact his brother had a sword sticking out of his shoulder on the ground behind him. With one well-aimed Fuuton jutsu and a slash from Naruto's clawed fingers, Orochimaru howled as his right arm dropped to the ground.

"You're more powerful than I first expected Kyuubi-kun, but if you're so busy fighting me… who is going to protect your little boyfriend?" Orochimaru smirked and Naruto whirled around to see a barrage of medical scalpels flying towards the curled up form of Shikamaru.

"Shikamaru!" Naruto shouted and leapt away from Orochimaru and blocked the attack, from Kabuto most likely. Pain flared up on his thigh and Naruto looked down to see yet another sword, this one was sticking out of him this time. Naruto frowned; it was Raijin no Ken, how did the snake get it? He had to fight Aoi Rokusho to get it back. Well at least getting his katana would be easier this time around.

Naruto pulled the sword out of his thigh and adjusted his grip on the hilt, dropping into a kenjutsu stance. Meanwhile, Shikamaru had regained some color and was sitting up slowly. Hands gripping the hilt of Kusanagi, the Nara took a deep breath and quickly pulled it out of his shoulder, gritting his teeth to stop any sounds from escaping. Shikamaru adjusted his grip and flew into motion; Naruto knew what Shikamaru was thinking and rushed at Orochimaru with Raijin to distract the Snake Sannin.

Shikamaru's shoulder was throbbing with immense pain, but his focus was now completely on Kabuto and killing that bastard once and for all. He spotted the silver-haired 'genin' pulling out another fistful of medical scalpels glowing with green chakra.

Shikamaru lashed out at the scalpels, sending them out of his path. With a cry of rage Shikamaru fed his chakra into the blade and stabbed at Kabuto, the blade crackling with Raiton and heating up with Katon.

Shikamaru's face was spattered with blood as Kabuto yelled in pain as his right leg from his knee down fell to the ground below. Shikamaru clung to the side of the tree with his chakra as Kabuto moved his hands down to his injured leg from his spot sitting on the tree branch.

"I don't think so." Shikamaru growled and flew into movement once again. He aimed and more blood hit his face as he stood over the injured Kabuto with a deadly smile, one that was promised death. Kabuto was now lacking hands to perform his precious medical ninjutsu; they were severed cleanly at the wrists on both arms.

"You have no idea how long I've waited for this." Shikamaru stated and he adjusted his stance with the katana. With a grim face he had only worn during the war, Shikamaru slashed and ended Kabuto's life via beheading.

"Katon: Fire Ball Jutsu." Shikamaru made the hand signs and watched much too satisfied as Kabuto's corpse, including the hands and leg on the forest floor, turned to nothing but ash and even that ash was scattered in the wind coming from the battle below. He quickly made sure to turn his jutsu on Orochimaru's arm as well leaving no trace of it either.

"Your med-nin is dead." Shikamaru informed Orochimaru as he dropped down next to Naruto who was back to his usual form, Raijin crackling with Naruto's own Raiton chakra.

"I will end you Nara-kun." Orochimaru hissed angrily and clicked his tongue and Shikamaru let out a surprised cry as Kusanagi turned into a giant snake that latched onto Shikamaru's wrist, sinking its fangs deep into his skin.

Shikamaru let out a pained scream as he tore the snake off of his wrist and it scurried back to Orochimaru. "I would hurry and get that wound treated, the poison will kill you soon Nara-kun." Orochimaru smirked as Naruto growled and dropped into a defensive position in front of Shikamaru who was clutching his wrist falling to his knees in pain.

"Until next we meet." Orochimaru promised and he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"Damnit." Naruto growled before he turned to look at Shikamaru. "Think you can hang on long enough for me to get to the tower?"

"I'll deal, Hokage-sama." Shikamaru gasped out and the blond genin carefully picked Shikamaru up bridal-style causing the Nara to stiffen.

"Just hang on Shika, just hang on." Naruto muttered and quickly shunshin'd to the tower.

Naruto appeared in the lobby, he rummaged around in Shikamaru's pack and unsealed the two scrolls and opened them together, Shikamaru leaning on his side for support. The scrolls let out a puff of smoke and Iruka appeared, ready to give Naruto his congratulations, but froze when he spotted both Shikamaru and Naruto bloody and leaning on each other for support.

"Iruka-sensei." Naruto gasped out, breathing heavily. "Shikamaru's been poisoned! He needs help right now!"

"My gods, hold on you two." Iruka flew into sensei mode as he grabbed both of the genin and shunshin'd right to the infirmary.

"He's been poisoned, he needs help now!" Iruka shouted and the two genin were surrounded by medical ninja.

"You have to step aside." A med-nin told Naruto sternly as the medical ninja started to remove the poison from the snakebite and cut the mesh shirt away from Shikamaru's stab wound. Thankfully they didn't cut any lower or they would see his ANBU tattoo and the rest of his scars.

"No." Naruto growled at the ninja that was trying to remove him from Shikamaru's side.

"He's in good hands Naruto." Kakashi placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder as he and Asuma arrived in the infirmary. Asuma shifting his weight back and forth as his eyes stayed trained on his now unconscious student who was being tended to on a bed, worry evident in his eyes.

"I don't care, I am not leaving him. If anyone tries to make me leave him then I will take action." Naruto glared fiercely at his sensei that blinked in shock at the words and the glare. The words and tone of voice reminded the silver-haired jounin of his time in ANBU that was how a captain talked when one of their own was injured.

"Okay Naru-chan, how about we put you in the bed right beside Shikamaru-kun then? You need to get that wound on your thigh checked out… Is that a sword?" Kakashi suggested and stared in shock at Raijin, which Naruto had hung on his waist.

"That's fine… Huh, yeah it is, isn't it?" Naruto laughed nervously and placed the sword on a table before he hopped up onto the bed beside Shikamaru's and silently let the medical ninja attend to his injury and feed him a chakra pill to replenish his chakra. Naruto kept his eyes trained on Shikamaru the whole time, feeling worry bubbling up in his chest.

"He'll be alright, we got to the poison in time." The lead medical nin that was working on the Nara informed the gathered jounin and the one genin.

"Thank the gods." Naruto sighed in relief, leaning back against the pillow behind him now feeling at peace.

"Naruto-kun!" The Sandaime called out as he flew into the infirmary with Iruka, Gai and Kurenai at his heels.

"Jiji." Naruto raised his hand at the current Hokage.

"It's always you isn't it Naruto-kun?" Hiruzen rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Is that the Raijin?"

"I don't know, to me it's just a sword. Did you get our message?" Naruto asked after snickering at the Hokage.

"A snake has entered the exam? Very clever." Hiruzen admitted.

"Did you send anyone out to find him?" Naruto asked.

"Yes we did, but we can find no trace of him." Hiruzen said, annoyance lacing his tone. Naruto huffed, how the jounin that had been sent didn't notice their battle he will never know. Perhaps there were more spies for the snake than he first thought, or maybe they had been ROOT members in disguise. He knew Danzo had worked with the Snake Sannin in the past.

"Are our teammates okay?" Naruto asked.

"They arrived here 10 minutes before you two did. They're uninjured, just worried about you two." Iruka assured the blond, feeling better than he did when Naruto had first come in with Shikamaru, both covered in blood and the Nara dying.

Naruto snorted at the idea of his team being worried for him. Ino and Choji he could see but not so much Sasuke and Sakura.

"If you feel up to it Naruto-kun, we need to know what happened." Hiruzen said in a soft tone.

"I'll tell you when Shikamaru wakes up." Naruto crossed his arms stubbornly. "Not a second before."

"It would be better if you told us what happened while it was fresh in your mind." Hiruzen said in a placating tone and Naruto just frowned.

"I am not going to say anything until Shikamaru wakes up." Naruto repeated forcefully.

"Alright then, try to get some rest Naruto-kun. We will wake you up when Shikamaru awakens." Hiruzen agreed, recognizing that stubborn look on Naruto's face, it was a mixture of Minato and Kushina's and those two were stubborn enough on their own.

Naruto just smiled 'innocently' at the group before he gave Shikamaru's still form one last glance, seeing Asuma sitting in a chair beside the Nara already. Naruto smiled softly at the sight before he closed his eyes to try to sleep. As he faded into blissful unconsciousness, he felt a hand gently pat his head. If he had to guess he would think it was Kakashi or Iruka-sensei.

Chapter 9

"Are you just going to keep sleeping?" Shikamaru was currently poking Naruto's whiskered cheek, he had woken up a few moments ago and Asuma had gone to go get his father and the other jounin leaving the two alone in the infirmary.

"I'm up, I'm up!" Naruto blearily opened his eyes. "You okay?"

"I've been better, but I've also been worse so I'm somewhere in the middle I think." Shikamaru gently touched his injured shoulder. "This is going to make my fight against Kin so much more troublesome."

"I think the whole thing went rather well… So what parts should we omit?" Naruto asked as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and locked eyes with the Nara.

"We omit the part about you using Kurama's chakra, me finally killing Kabuto, and you slicing off Orochimaru's arm." Shikamaru said and Naruto nodded his head in agreement.

"How did it feel to get rid of that bastard once and for all?" Naruto asked.

"…Amazing. I don't like killing, but he deserved it. Without him at the snake's side we can at least hope the reanimations of our allies and enemies never will happen." Shikamaru stated. "If we do need the power of the Hokages then I know the jutsu…"

The two fell silent as the doors swung open as the Sandaime, their senseis and a few other familiar elite jounin entered.

"How are you two feeling today?" Sandaime asked kindly.

"Stiff." Shikamaru said as he gingerly rotated his injured wrist.

"Tired." Naruto rubbed his eyes and Shikamaru just snorted.

"Like a true Nara." Shikamaru teased and Naruto stuck his tongue out at him.

"So you and Shikamaru-kun are close Naru-chan?" Kakashi asked innocently.

"He lives at my house now so I'm going to say yes." Shikamaru answered as Naruto rubbed his head while chuckling.

"I wasn't aware of this…" Sandaime took the time to really look at Naruto and guilt stabbed at him when he saw that the genin had grown taller and was filling out to a healthy size. All because he was in a loving household where they made sure he was well rested and fed. In a few weeks the Naras had done what he couldn't for 12 years.

"Are we going to talk about what happened now or can I go back to sleep?" Naruto asked curiously. "I don't really want to talk, but I did say we would when Shikamaru woke up and I never go back on my word."

"Let's start on how you knew that Orochimaru was in the Forest of Death." Sandaime said as the group settled down in chairs.

Naruto moved over on his bed and Shikamaru silently slid into the empty space, their shoulders and thighs touching. Naruto gently curled his hand around Shikamaru's injured wrist; very subtly sending his chakra into the Nara to help the healing process alongside his own stab wound that was already closing up. The two noticed the looks they were getting from the others, but they couldn't care less. The two brothers needed to be in contact with each other to prove to themselves that they are both alive and breathing.

"Team 7 was attacked by a high power Fuuton: Great Breakthrough that no genin in this exam should be able to produce. That was the first tip off; the second one was when I was separated from the other two a giant snake tried to swallow me. After killing it causing it to disappear, it made sense it was a summons. The only two snake summoners are Anko-san and Orochimaru, the Snake Sannin. Anko-san was one of our proctors and would never attack us so Orochimaru was the only logical choice. I created a shadow clone to inform Shikamaru before I went back to Team 7. I told them to meet up with Team 10 and to tell you all that Orochimaru was in the forest." Naruto explained, it sounded very plausible and the jounin were nodding. This lined up with what the genin had told them.

The use of 'Team 7' instead of 'my team' didn't go unnoticed by the jounin and Hokage. Kakashi wasn't too surprised by the wording as he had seen how the blond was treated by his 'teammates'.

"Why did you send a shadow clone to get Shikamaru? Why didn't you flee with your team?" Sandaime asked, wondering why Naruto chose to stay behind and fight if he knew a genin couldn't produce the power in the jutsu.

"We couldn't take the chance that Team 7 would be ambushed. I sent a message to Shikamaru because we know how to work together and I know for a fact he will always have my back and he proved that." Naruto said truthfully, his voice flat.

"Why do you think Orochimaru was going to ambush your team?" Sandaime questioned.

"It's obvious isn't it?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. "He must have a source in the village because the only reason he would invade the exams and attack Team 7 out of all the teams there is because of Sasuke's eyes. If he wanted to make a political impact he would have gone for the team from Suna that held all three children of the Yondaime Kazekage, or Team 8 or 10 because they're mostly made up of clan heirs."

"He makes a good point." Kurenai muttered as the Hokage paled at the theory the Nara gave.

"What happened when you got there Shikamaru?" Asuma asked his student, worry evident in his tone as he eyed the bandages the Nara was sporting.

"I arrived in time to see a kunoichi from Kusa appear, she knew who we were and she summoned a giant snake and we deduced that this was actually Orochimaru. I destroyed the summon with a Raiton jutsu while Naruto used his shadow clones to attack Orochimaru himself, but in the end he left the kunoichi's body, she had been dead for a while…" Shikamaru picked up the story and he could see he and Naruto had their audience on the edge of their seats.

"Now Shikamaru did something brave and stupid." Naruto gave Shikamaru a sideways glare.

"I would do it again and you know it." Shikamaru said in a steely tone.

"Something was off with the version of Orochimaru that Naruto was fighting and I spotted something flying at Naruto's back. I jumped in the way and got a sword through my shoulder for my troubles." Shikamaru gently touched his injured shoulder; feeling Naruto's chakra making its way up to it to help heal it.

"Shikamaru…" Asuma breathed out, he really needed a cigarette.

"I got really mad and attacked Orochimaru." Naruto admitted, sending more chakra into Shikamaru's body to help him heal.

"Oh Naruto." Hiruzen rubbed his nose at the blond who wasn't the least bit concerned about the fact he took on a Sannin.

"Meanwhile he had a shadow clone in hiding and used that to launch a sneak attack on Shikamaru, I deflected the weapons and that's when Orochimaru stabbed my thigh with that katana." Naruto gestured to Raijin, which was still sitting on a nearby table, earning some wide eyed looks of utter surprise at the sight of the long lost katana.

"Shikamaru managed to pull the other sword out of his shoulder, but we guess Orochimaru knew he couldn't afford to stay any longer in case reinforcements arrived. He needed a distraction so as he turned the sword Shikamaru was holding into a snake making it bite Shikamaru's wrist. He fled knowing that we had to get to the tower to remove the poison and therefore couldn't follow him." Naruto finished the story and leaned back against the pillows, talked out. Shikamaru was nodding every so often to show Naruto was telling the truth, well a very plausible version of it anyways.

"…It is very impressive that two genin were able to take on a Sannin and survive." Genma commented from around the senbon he was gnawing on.

"Thanks." Naruto shrugged his shoulders carefully as not to jostle Shikamaru too much.

"How did you two know it was Orochimaru in the first place?" The Sandaime asked curiously.

"There are only two known snake summoners, Orochimaru- one of the Sannin- and Anko, it was doubtful that she would attack genin from her own village so the only logical conclusion was that it was Orochimaru and it was the correct conclusion." Shikamaru shrugged his shoulder, letting them deduce the rest for themselves.

"Naruto-kun… When you said you got mad… was it like the time with Haku?" Kakashi asked the one question that the two genin knew they all wanted to know the answer to.

"Tap into the Kyuubi's power? I'm not sure, but I think it was just plain old anger all from one Naruto Uzumaki." Naruto jerked a thumb to his chest and had to hold back a laugh at the looks he was getting as he just blurted out his 'secret' in front of Shikamaru.

"Naruto! You can't just go around saying S-Class secrets!" Hiruzen scolded.

"I am a Nara, I figured out about the Kyuubi back in the academy. It wasn't that hard to find out, the secret isn't so much of a secret if you use your brain. The fact that the villagers know and take their anger out on him and what day his birthday is on made figuring out the 'secret' much easier." Shikamaru said emotionlessly, but Naruto could see the anger flaring up in his brother's eyes.

The Hokage sat back, stung by the Nara's words but he knew that the genin was right. His mind was processing everything that the two had told him, if he was going by the performance reviews he had read, these two should have died during the fight with Orochimaru.

"You two… There is something you aren't telling us." The Sandaime said after processing the words from the two genin.

"We're not 'dead-lasts'." Naruto offered.

"More like silent prodigies." Shikamaru suggested.

"Heh, more like lazy prodigies!" Naruto teased the boy next to him.

"Same difference really." Shikamaru waved his uninjured hand dismissively.

"Whatever you say… So Jiji, what should I do with that katana?" Naruto turned back to the assembled group who were all looking at them like they were seeing the two for the first time.

"… Keep it Naruto, it's only fitting that you are the one to wield it next after all. Its name is Raijin no Ken." Sandaime said wearily.

"Sword of the Thunder God? Cool! Okay, Jiji, Kakashi-sensei, how many days do we have left until the five days are up?" Naruto asked, honestly wondering.

"Three days are left." Kakashi answered his student's question.

"Awesome, I can't wait to eat something! Do you think they have ramen here?" Naruto turned to Shikamaru excited.

"If they do it will only be instant." Shikamaru guessed and the blond shuddered at the mere thought of it.

"Never mind then." He pouted and Shikamaru rolled his eyes fondly at the blond.

"So are we done here?" Naruto turned his blue eyes to the others in the room, his voice unconsciously going into his 'Kage voice'. "Shikamaru is exhausted and needs his rest."

Shikamaru made a noise of protest, but his eyes were drooping and his eyelids felt like lead.

"We have what we need, sleep well you two and we will send some food up soon. Thank you for what you did in the forest, we will take it from here." Sandaime stood up and inclined his head towards the two who nodded back out of respect for the old man, but both of them knew that wasn't the case. They knew what was coming and how to counter it while the Sandaime had no clue.

The Hokage's jounin guard escorted out Hiruzen while Gai and Kurenai went to tell Team 7 and Team 10 that Naruto and Shikamaru were fine, leaving Kakashi and Asuma to stay back.

"How are you two doing? Really?" Asuma asked gently prodding at the two genin.

"We're fine Asuma-sensei." Shikamaru said, resting his head on Naruto's shoulder, comfortable.

"It was intense, but nothing we couldn't handle." Naruto said seriously, staring Kakashi down. It was only a half lie, the war had been intense, the fight with Orochimaru was just annoying until the moment Shikamaru got hurt that is when it turned personal for Naruto and Kurama.

"You two are planning on giving us more heart attacks in the future aren't you?" Kakashi sighed.

"There's a high chance." Naruto nodded sagely. "We just decided to stop hiding our true skill."

Even if they had to change their appearances to show their skills, they would be shown.

"I'll put him back in his bed." Asuma gestured to the now sleeping Nara. Naruto studied Asuma for a moment before nodding his consent and released his hold on the Nara's wrist. Asuma slid his arms under the backs of Shikamaru's knees and his other arm around the small of Shikamaru's back. He frowned a bit at how light the 12-year-old was before he gently placed him back in the bed beside Naruto and tucked him in, making sure his shoulder and wrist were comfortable. Naruto smiled at the sight of Asuma placing his hand on Shikamaru's forehead, looking like a worried parent.

"We'll let you two get some sleep and check on that food." Kakashi patted Naruto on the head, hand lingering there for a bit.

"Thanks sensei!" Naruto beamed at the idea of food, Kakashi gave an eye smile and the two jounin left the infirmary. Silence descended on the room, Naruto's eyes darted around the room and smirked a bit when he spotted a stream of sand making its way through the small crack between the ground and the door.

"The coast is clear Gaara if you want to come in and talk." Naruto commented aloud. Shikamaru shifted slightly in his sleep, but settled down not sensing any danger.

The door slid open and Gaara walked in, the sand returning to his huge gourd.

"Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, you have about three minutes to tell me why I'm in my genin body and not lying dead on a battlefield. I don't care if you are injured I will strangle you with my sand if I don't get a good answer." Gaara growled as he stomped into the room.

"I thought this might happen. Well, Gaara welcome to the past." Naruto held his hands out dramatically.

"Explain. Now." Gaara stopped at the end of Naruto's bed, his teal eyes flicking to the unconscious form of Shikamaru.

"Any pressing questions you want to get off your chest before I start? It's kind of a long story." Naruto suggested.

"…What happened at the end of the war?" Gaara asked, needing to know this answer.

Naruto stayed silent while he quickly placed up a privacy barrier around the trio. "We won… Shikamaru and I were the only ones left alive on the battlefield, but we were both dying from our wounds and chakra depletion… Shikamaru survived because he was the brains behind our plans and the main ANBU commander, everyone did their best to protect him until the end…" Naruto said quietly, his eyes far away.

Gaara bowed his head and then Naruto launched into his tale of how they came to be in the past, what they had done so far, what they had planned out and what happened in the forest with Orochimaru. He also gave Gaara his theory of how once his seal was altered with Naruto's own time-fluxing chakra, along with the fact the Tailed Beasts knew of the different timeline, it made sense that when the two come in contact it would give the hosts their memories back.

"You two have set up solid groundwork for the future." Gaara nodded, in his Kazekage mindset.

"We can work you and your siblings into the plan for the invasion. We still need Baki to be overhead talking about the invasion, but in the original timeline Baki was talking with Kabuto. Thanks to Shikamaru that is no longer an option; however in the long run it was well worth it." Naruto glanced over at the slumbering Nara with a proud smile on his face.

"I'm glad that bastard is finally gone." Gaara smirked. "I can order Baki to be seen talking to a Sound ninja instead and I will make sure the other Suna ninja know that we will NOT be taking part in the invasion with Oto, instead we are to help the Leaf."

"You're not Kazekage right now Gaara." Naruto said slowly.

"So you're not Hokage either, but you still get people to listen to you. Besides, the Sand ninja other than my siblings don't know that I've lost my bloodthirsty nature and they are terrified of me still." Gaara reminded the blond who nodded, taking this into the equation as his stomach growled.

"I should leave, you need to eat something and I've got about 12 years of sleep to catch up on… again." Gaara commented as he stood up from his place at the end of Naruto's bed. "…I'm glad that Kurama brought you and Shikamaru back… He gave me another chance to live and my siblings back." Gaara gave a soft smile before he left the room giving Naruto just enough time to bring down the barrier before a medical ninja came in with two trays of food. She nodded her head at Naruto as she placed down the trays; she checked Shikamaru's wounds gently with Naruto's eyes following her every movement just in case before she left. Naruto dug into his food, only now realizing how hungry he was and how much he really needed to have solid food in his stomach. He polished off his own food and noticed that Shikamaru was still fast asleep; as much as the Nara needed sleep he needed food as well. Naruto slid out of his bed and started to poke Shikamaru's cheek.

"Wake up Shika, wake up and eat the food." He sang as he started to poke both cheeks and watched amused as Shikamaru's face twitched. "Food Shika-chan, you force food on me all the time, now it's time to return the favor."

"I. Hate. You." Shikamaru ground out as he squinted up at the blond who just beamed and helped his brother sit up.

"Yeah, yeah. Well the bright side is that Gaara is our Gaara and is on board with our plans." Naruto said cheerfully as Shikamaru slowly ate his food.

"Huh." Shikamaru chewed thoughtfully. "It's good that he won't break Lee's limbs this time around and it's really good that he's our Kazekage again."

"I think so too." Naruto beamed happily. "Now we have three days to relax and get our energy back before the prelims begin."

"Finished, can I go back to sleep now?" Shikamaru pushed his empty tray away from him.

"Yes you lazy Nara you can." Naruto rolled his eyes as Shikamaru sank back into his pillows and closed his eyes. Naruto slid back into his own bed and decided to get some sleep of his own.

Chapter 10

"Do you have a decent strategy to take out Kiba this time?" Shikamaru asked the blond as they walked towards the prelim arena.

"It's a pretty basic one that won't show any of my actual skill, but it is much more dignified than last time." Naruto shuddered in remembrance and Shikamaru snickered at his expression. "You're healed enough to take out Kin right?"

"It still twinges a bit, but I can take her out easy enough and since dad knows how long we have been training, I can use more advanced jutsu from my clan." Shikamaru poked his shoulder gingerly.

Naruto nodded as they joined their teams and senseis on the platform surrounding a tiled fighting arena. He scanned the remaining genin and somehow the rest of Kabuto's team had made it and were allowed to fight in the prelims. He tuned out the Sandaime's speech about how they had to have prelim fights and if anyone wanted to drop out they could, as the fights were one-on-one fights from here on out. He watched as a few people dropped out before the senseis took their teams aside for pep talks.

"Good luck team, I will hope for your success unless you are fighting each other, then I am not taking sides… Don't die out there." Kakashi told Team 7 with an eye smile. Sakura paled at the last remark while Sasuke hn'd.

"Rousing as usual Kashi-sensei." Naruto smirked and ducked the flick that was coming towards his head from the jounin.

The nickname brought back memories for Kakashi, memories of Minato, Kushina, Rin and Obito. He quickly shook his head to clear his mind as Hayate stepped up with a cough to start the 1st fight as the names flashed up on the screen above him.

Sasuke Uchiha vs. Yoroi Akoda.

"Good luck Sasuke-kun." Sakura gushed and Naruto leaned on the railing as Sasuke passed behind him to head down to fight.

"Don't screw up teme." Naruto sang in an answer to the cocky smirk the other preteen had on his face.

"Like I would, dobe." Sasuke shot back before he went to join Yoroi Akoda to start the fight.

Naruto and Shikamaru watched the fight with slight interest, just wanting to gauge where Sasuke's level was at without the curse seal interfering. Akoda told Sasuke that he could steal chakra and Naruto stayed silent this time around; he wanted to see how the Uchiha would get out of this without the curse seal or stealing Lee's taijutsu moves.

In the end Sasuke sent shuriken at Akoda as a distraction before he got in close with a low rank Katon jutsu and some taijutsu moves he had learned from his training with Kakashi he sent Akoda into the wall behind him and it knocked him unconscious, making the Uchiha the winner. Sasuke smirked at the other genin as he made his way back to his team.

"Top that, dobe." Sasuke said in triumph to the blond.

'It won't be that hard.' Naruto thought to himself.

"I'll do my best." He replied with a sarcastic bite, but the Uchiha didn't catch it- however, from the amused look Kakashi gave him the older man did.

Next was the fight featuring Zaku who had use of both arms, but had one in a sling for show. Zaku was going against Shino like before and Naruto watched the fight disinterested, as he knew how it was going to end. Just as before Shino won when he infected the wind tunnels in Zaku's arms. Disturbing but effective, a glance at Shikamaru told the blond that the Nara was on the same wavelength.

The next match was Kankuro vs. Misumi Tsurugi. Watching Kankuro wield his puppets once more felt good to watch, the blond didn't even wince when the puppet master used one of his puppets to crush Misumi's bones. He had seen a lot worse in the war, Misumi should be glad it was only broken bones.

The next one was Sakura vs. Ino. This time around they both ended up cutting their long hair off and Naruto saw a flicker of his timeline's Sakura in the young pink-haired girl fighting below. Naruto smiled and spotted Shikamaru smiling fondly at the blonde as it ended in a draw like before.

Tenten jumped down to face Temari and Shikamaru leaned on the railing like he was using it to hold himself up, but he knew that he was watching Temari closely to see if his version of her was still in there and re-memorizing her movements so he would have something to go off of during the final round. Shikamaru still couldn't help but wince at the brutal way she took out Tenten. He knew the two had become good friends during the war when Tenten inquired about Temari's giant iron fan.

The next matchup was Shikamaru Nara vs. Kin Tsuchi.

Shikamaru sighed loudly as he shoved his hands in his pockets and headed down to the arena as Kin walked down in her snakeskin patterned scarf with a devious smirk on her lips. Shikamaru looked up to see Gaara give him a stiff nod and Naruto beam at him. He also took note the Sandaime, Asuma-sensei and the others who were in the room during their debriefing were watching him closely.

"Kick her ass Shikamaru!" Ino called down, pumping her fist in the air. He raised his uninjured hand lazily.

"This is going to be troublesome…" Shikamaru groaned and he heard Naruto snort from the stands.

"Begin." Hayate coughed and stepped back out of the way as Kin pulled out a two fistfuls of senbon.

"I heard you killed Kabuto." Kin commented as she threw her first fist of plain senbon.

"Who?" Shikamaru dodged out of the way lazily.

"Don't play dumb with me! You took off his head!" She screeched as she threw her other senbon out of anger.

"Sorry I've never beheaded anyone before." Shikamaru ducked down to avoid the senbon attack.

"No matter, the guy was creepy as hell. I did hear you sustained some rather grievous injuries out there…" She smirked as she disappeared in a substitution, a pile of senbon lying where she stood.

Shikamaru whirled around as she appeared behind him, stabbing a senbon into his shoulder. He grunted at the new pain and hazily heard shouts coming from the stands, he took the attack and made a hand seal. "Shadow Strangle." Shikamaru grunted and a black shadow extended from his feet. It swirled around Kin's body and landed on her neck, tightening its hold as she started to choke for air. From the vantage points around the room, no one could see the shadow that was strangling her. They just saw the two genin locked in a close position with Kin breathing deeply.

"Give up or you die." He whispered to her, eyes hard and tone flat. She looked at him with wide-eyes and nodded the best she could, he pulled back the jutsu just enough for her to talk.

"I yield." She rasped out and Hayate nodded, accepting her surrender. Shikamaru released his jutsu and stepped out of her range.

"Your eyes… you're a killer." She muttered as she nursed her throat. Shikamaru just stared at her and pawed at the ground once with his foot before turning to head back to his team.

There was a gasp from the gathered Leaf nin and a few 'watch out's as Kin threw poison laced senbon at his unguarded back. Shikamaru whirled around, arms going up in an X to block his face and chest.

There was no need to guard himself as the Leaf ninja present had taken their own action. Asuma was standing in front of his student with his trench knives out to protect Shikamaru, having used them to knock the poisoned senbon to the ground. Kakashi along with Gai had latched onto Kin's arms; Kurenai had a kunai pressed against Kin's stomach.

"You yielded and yet you attack him from behind." Kakashi growled, Shikamaru looked at the gathered jounin shocked, a subtle glance up in the stands showed him that sand was silently returning to Gaara's gourd, arms still crossed and Naruto was putting his hands back into his pockets as he stopped making hand seals. He nodded at the two in thanks before he turned back to the scene before him.

Genma was escorting Kin out of the arena and Shikamaru let out a breath of relief, this had NOT happened in the previous timeline.

"Are you alright Shikamaru?" Asuma asked as he fell into step with his student as they headed back up to the other Leaf teams.

"I'm fine, thanks for the save sensei" Shikamaru smiled at his sensei who returned the smile before Shikamaru's friends surrounded him. "I'm fine, don't worry you guys." Shikamaru calmed down the genin around him. "I'm fine, even if the senbon had hit me I wouldn't have been too badly injured and the medical nin would be able to heal the poison before it could affect me."

"Oh yeah? What if it hit you in the neck or the head?" Ino stomped up to him, anger all over her face but Shikamaru could see the worry hidden in her blue orbs.

"Ino… Ino!" He reached out and grabbed her waving hand and pressed it over his heart so she could feel it still beating and right away all the anger disappeared from her body as she felt the steady thrum under her fingers. He had done this a lot during the war for Ino, Choji, Temari, Naruto and he knew it soothed their frazzled nerves.

"I'm alive, focus on that." Shikamaru said softly. She nodded mutely and removed her hand from his chest as a medical ninja came to check on his wounds. She tsk'ed as she removed the senbon from his already injured shoulder and started to heal it with her green chakra.

"What was she talking about before? About you beheading someone?" Choji asked quietly, Shikamaru noted he had all the jounin senseis' attention.

"I honestly have no idea, she must have said it to throw me off balance." Shikamaru lied.

"She knew about your wounds through…" Ino added.

"It's not like it was secret Naruto and I went to the infirmary when we got into the tower. That or she must have seen my bandages." Shikamaru waved his wrist to show the stark white bandage wrapped around it and a matching one sticking out from under his grey jacket.

"That makes sense." Choji nodded, accepting the explanations. Shikamaru felt horrible for telling them these lies but he couldn't let them know the truth, not yet.

The next fight pairing appeared on the huge screen.

Naruto Uzumaki vs. Kiba Inuzuka.

Naruto walked past Team 10 and made eye contact with Shikamaru who nodded, silently telling the blond he was fine and to focus on the fight with Kiba. Hinata stammered out a 'good luck' to the blond as he passed and almost passed out when Naruto gave her a soft smile in return.

"Man this is going to be a breeze!" Kiba said excitedly as Shino and Hinata quietly wished him luck.

"Don't underestimate him, Kiba." Kurenai warned, having been there to hear the story of how Naruto and Shikamaru had fought off the Snake Sannin.

"Come on Akamaru, let's go win this!" Kiba gave his sensei a confused look before he followed Naruto down to the fighting arena with his white ninken at his heels.

"Good luck Kiba." Naruto grinned at the Inuzuka. He knew that every eye from the Leaf village that was present during the debriefing was trained on him and he knew he had to be smart about this fight, but not show any impressive skills.

"You too Naruto." Kiba said in good sportsmanship.

"Begin!" Hayate raised his hand.

"Beast Human Clone." Kiba shouted, as he and Akamaru took on the same human appearance, if not a bit more feral than usual. Naruto just stood there as the two ran and leapt around him in an effort to distract him.

Thanks to Kurama being sealed in his body Naruto had tamed his heightened senses and could already tell which one was Akamaru and which one was Kiba. He quickly made a hand sign and a dozen shadow clones appeared and rushed at the two Kibas; fighting them off while a Naruto disappeared into the floor. Moments passed as the shadow clones disappeared one by one until none were left. The two Kibas stood side by side as they looked/sniffed around trying to find Naruto. They let out yells of surprise as they sank under the ground up to their necks as Naruto leapt out of the ground a few feet away.

"Doton: Double Suicide Decapitation." Naruto grinned. The Kibas growled but one sighed as the other started to wiggle around with no results.

"I yield." One shouted and Hayate accepted it, announcing Naruto the winner. The blond grinned and made a hand sign and the two Kibas were released from the jutsu. The Kiba on the right turned back into Akamaru who leapt up onto Kiba's head.

"Good fight Kiba, I just know that you will become one of the strongest Inuzukas out there. You and Akamaru's teamwork is very unique and effective." Naruto complimented the genin.

"Thanks man, I guess I shouldn't have underestimated you. We'll get stronger and we'll beat you one day, right Akamaru?" Kiba shook Naruto's hand and Akamaru yipped in agreement.

"I'll be looking forward to it Kiba, Akamaru." Naruto shook Kiba's hand and pet Akamaru as the two headed back up to their teams as the names for the next battle showed up.

Hinata Hyuuga vs. Neji Hyuuga.

"I was dreading this one." Shikamaru confided to Naruto who came to stand with him instead of his team, Choji and Ino moving to accept the blond to the area where Team 10 was standing.

"Me as well. Too bad we can't pump my chakra into Neji and make him our Neji." Naruto commented in a very low voice as the two headed down to fight.

"I believe in you Hinata! Never give up!" Naruto shouted down at the blue-haired girl who blinked and looked up at the blond shyly.

Neji just hn'd and he stood stiffly, glaring at Hinata with so much hate that she visibly flinched back.

"This is going to be painful to watch…" Shikamaru grumbled as he tightened his grip on the railing in front of him as the fight began and Neji ruthlessly attacked his cousin while verbally tearing her down. Once he disrupted the chakra flow to her arms, Naruto was ready to leap in to stop Neji from killing her as he rushed forward for the final strike, but Shikamaru's hand latched onto his elbow.

"I want to go down there too, but we can't blow our cover. We aren't supposed to know this is going to happen, remember the jounin interfere." Shikamaru hissed and Naruto locked eyes with his ANBU commander before slowly nodding and relaxing knowing he was right. They watched tensely as Hinata refused to give up even as she stared death down in the form of her cousin, but Hayate and the other jounin senseis leapt in and stopped Neji and protected her just like when Shikamaru was attacked by Kin.

Naruto kept an eye on Hinata as she was taken out of the arena on a stretcher and Neji re-joined his team who eyed him with shock and some disgust.

"I'll bring our Neji back during our battle." Naruto swore to Shikamaru as the second to last match came up.

Rock Lee vs. Gaara.

"This should be a good fight." Shikamaru commented as Lee dropped down into the fighting area as Gaara used his sand to lower him down.

"Show off. I don't think I've ever seen him walk normally." Shikamaru muttered to Naruto who snorted and Gaara sent the two a look like he knew what they were saying. Naruto just smiled cheekily at the Kazekage before Hayate began the final fight.

Gaara crossed his arms and let his sand defend him as Lee attacked with his taijutsu moves. Gaara kept his eyes on Lee and frowned as he saw Gai give Lee permission to open the gates, Gaara lashed out with a fist and the sand wrapped around the genin, stopping him from opening the gates and kept him in a ball of sand, not too much pressure as he didn't want to be the reason Lee had all his limbs broken again. Time went by and Hayate had no choice but to announce Gaara the winner and the Kazekage released the green clad genin and walked over to him.

"Good match Rock Lee." He said, his tone flat like usual.

"You are a most youthful opponent Gaara-san! I look forward to fighting against you in the future." Lee bowed to the redhead who nodded back, suppressing a smile.

"Me as well." Gaara turned on his heel and strode up to his siblings, smirking at Naruto and Shikamaru who sent him their own smirks in return before they turned to Lee to offer their own encouragement.

"I'm glad you didn't use the Gates, Lee." Gai said after he came back over from talking with the stand-by medical ninja. "If you did then who knows the damage it could have caused if you used it against his sand."

"I understand Gai-sensei!" Lee snapped off a salute. "I will train harder than before to make my body strong enough to use the gates and make you proud Gai-sensei!"



The two did their dramatic, rainbow and waterfall hug and Naruto rubbed his neck.

"I forgot they did that." He commented and Tenten snorted.

"They do it every day at the start and end of training." She rubbed her forehead annoyed.

"Ouch." Shikamaru winced in sympathy and she nodded in agreement to his statement.

The final matchup appeared on the giant screen.

Dosu Kinuta vs. Choji Akimichi.

"I don't like the looks of this guy, if he's anything like that Zaku guy I'm not sure I want to fight him." Choji turned to his team worried.

"His headband shows he's from the Sound, he must use some sort of sound vibration so be careful." Shikamaru theorized.

"More reason not to fight him!" Choji waved his arms.

"If you go and give it your best then I'll treat you to dinner." Asuma offered and Choji straightened up, suddenly full of energy as he walked down to the arena.

"Bribery, nice." Kakashi commented to the other jounin.

"It works well with Choji, usually for Shikamaru it's cloud watching or shogi and Ino I have to come help deliver flowers for her family shop or carry her bags while she shops." Asuma admitted to the silver-haired jounin.

"I should try that." Kakashi muttered glancing at his team. Sakura was still resting against a wall and Sasuke was leaning on the same wall a few feet down from her, not looking at her even once. Naruto was standing with Shikamaru and Ino, looking worried for Choji, but shouting encouragements anyway.

Shikamaru knew that even with his warning Dosu would win against Choji, he just really hoped Choji wasn't injured too badly. This timeline's Choji didn't see Dosu in action before, but much to Shikamaru's relief the match went the same way it did in his timeline, Choji gave a good effort, but Dosu used his sound waves to disrupt the water in Choji's body and ended the fight.

Thus ended the prelims and the second part of the chunin exam. The winners stood in front of the Sandaime as the names for the next part of the exam appeared.

Naruto Uzumaki vs. Neji Hyuuga.

Sasuke Uchiha vs. Gaara

Shino Aburame vs. Kankuro

Shikamaru Nara vs. Temari

Dosu vs. Undetermined.

Dosu looked up into the stands at his sensei, who Naruto and Shikamaru had an idea was actually Orochimaru in disguise. The Sound ninja raised his hand at the Hokage.

"Yes?" He looked at the Sound ninja.

"I withdraw." He stated and the Hokage nodded accepting it.

"Then the matches are set and will take place in two weeks. Good luck to you all and good job in getting this far." Sandaime said, a clear dismissal.

The team's senseis grabbed onto the genin who couldn't teleport and shunshin'd out of the tower and the Forest of Death. All the Konoha teams appeared where they had all gathered before the five days. Their families and friends were waiting for the returning genin.

Yoshino and Shikaku swept up Naruto and Shikamaru into tight-worried hugs when they were spotted.

"We're proud of you two." Shikaku smiled at the two, his eyes taking in Shikamaru's injuries.

"Thanks dad." They said in sync.

"You have a month to train, you are coming home and you are staying there until I say you two are recovered, understood?" Yoshino said sternly.

"Yes ma'am!" The two gulped as Yoshino shot her husband a glare. The elder Nara quickly touched his wife's shoulder and in a swirl of leaves the group disappeared leaving two very amused jounin and one smirking Kazekage in their wake.

Chapter 11

The upside of being stuck in the Nara compound for two days was that the two managed to plan a lot of things out in detail, including what Naruto was going to do when Jiraiya arrived.

"Are you going to be alright when Jiraiya shows up?" Shikamaru asked Naruto as the two played an intense game of shogi in Shikamaru's room.

"If I can manage seeing everyone else, I think I'll be able to manage Ero-Sennin." Naruto smiled fondly at the thought of seeing his godfather alive once again.

"Try not to show him that you know more than he does about the rasengan." Shikamaru reminded his Hokage glancing up from the game.

"I'll also try my best to look unimpressed when I summon a tadpole." Naruto deadpanned and Shikamaru rolled his eyes.

"Knowing you, you would accidently summon the Two Great Sage Toads." Shikamaru joked, but fell sober when Naruto nodded at the very real possibility.

"I'm thinking of letting Ero-Sennin and Jiji know that I know who my father is." Naruto made a move against the Nara.

"Might as well, it would set you up to learn the rasengan and I know you want to learn more about him and your mom so this is an amazing chance to do so." Shikamaru agreed and Naruto smiled happily.

"I'm sure dad will have heard about our performance in the exam so far and will be tracking you down for a game soon to try to get a read on us again…" Naruto said cautiously.

"Looking forward to it." Shikamaru smirked.

"What are you going to do Shika?" Naruto snickered at the glint the Nara had in his eyes.

"Throw him off our trail, but hint at what is to come." Shikamaru said innocently as he beat Naruto, the blond fell backwards with a groan.

"So dad has no clue what is going to hit him?" Naruto stated from his place on the floor. "Are you going to the forest while I'm with Jiji and Ero-Sennin?"

"If I can avoid dad long enough yeah I think it would be better to do so, I'm also going to set up the trap for when I run into that bastard Hidan again." Shikamaru's face turned dark. "I'm not letting Asuma die this time around."

"That's why we are here, no one is dying on our watch." Naruto said seriously as he rocked back up into a sitting position, his legs crossed.

"Sir!" Shikamaru said out of reflex as Naruto's voice had changed to his Kage tone.

"Baki should be 'overheard' talking about the invasion with an Oto ninja tomorrow so today we can focus on other things today, because things are going to get real tomorrow." Shikamaru murmured as he reset the shogi board and the two fell silent, just in time as Shikaku knocked on the door with an ANBU in tow.

"Naruto-san, Lord Third wishes you to come to the tower with me." The ANBU ordered and Naruto gave a stiff nod as he stood up.

"I will be there soon, I need to get changed so you are dismissed." Naruto ordered back as he passed by Shikaku and the ANBU, who blinked at the tone of voice, but disappeared in a swirl of leaves nonetheless. Shikaku raised an eyebrow at his son, the young Nara just gestured to the shogi board.

"I was informed of what happened in the Forest of Death and the prelim fights." Shikaku said casually as the two started their game.

"Oh?" Shikamaru made a move.

"Both of you took on a Sannin on your own and came out alive." Shikamaru could hear the pride, worry and confusion laced in his father's voice.

"Basically." Shikamaru nodded.

"I also heard you almost died because the sword that stabbed you in the shoulder turned into a snake and poisoned you." Shikaku went on to say slowly.

"Almost, good thing Nar is a fast runner." Shikamaru said absently, hand rubbing his newest shoulder wound.

"I know there is something that you are not telling me Shika-chan." Shikaku stated as he crossed his arms in his large sleeves.

"Hm, what is your theory, father?" Shikamaru tilted his head to the side, resting his chin on his left hand.

"It's incomplete as of yet." Shikaku said easily.

"Let me know when it is complete." Shikamaru nodded and was about to make another amateur move when his father gripped Shikamaru's wrist. Shikamaru's body tensed and eyes darted up to look at his father; Shikaku dropped his son's wrist in shock at the danger, wariness, sadness and age that he could pick out in Shikamaru's eyes. He took a breath to compose himself before he placed his hand back into his sleeve.

"You are not playing to your full potential Shika-chan, we both know the move you are about to make is amateur at best and will cost you the game." Shikaku said calmly.

"Let me know when your theory is complete." Shikamaru repeated as he changed his move, knowing that in one more move from any angle he would win. The young Nara stood up and bowed his head to his father before he left his room.

Shikaku stared at the board and realized that his son had outplayed him completely all while protecting the King absolutely.

"What happened to you Shikamaru?" Shikaku muttered to himself as he cleared off the board.

Naruto leapt roof to roof easily as he made his way to Hokage Tower, his heart was pounding hard in his chest. He was going to see Ero-Sennin again. This time he was being properly introduced and he wouldn't have to force the Sannin to train him. He would have his godfather back and the blond Uzumaki-Namikaze couldn't wait as he unconsciously picked up his speed. Naruto easily scaled the tower by putting his chakra into his feet and he slid open the window in the Hokage's office, making sure to flare his chakra so he wouldn't be attacked.

"I do have a door for a reason Naruto-kun." Hiruzen said fondly, blinking at the lack of bright orange.

"Why would I use the door when I could enter through the window?" Naruto tilted his head confused as he landed on the floor of the office and dusted off the black pants he stole from Shikamaru. "What's so important you had to interrupt my day off, Jiji? I was planning on beating Shika in the next game." Naruto asked, trying his best not to sound excited as he had come up with a new strategy.

"Naruto-kun, I want you to meet someone." The Sandaime smiled as the door opened and in walked Jiraiya in the flesh, alive and white-haired as ever.

Naruto had to use all his training and willpower not to rush over to his godfather and hug him tightly before kicking ass all the way to Suna. He kept his face curious as the two gave the other a once over.

"This is my former student Jiraiya, the Toad Sannin." The Sandaime smiled.

"Jiraiya? Wait a second! You're the one who writes those pervy books that Kakashi-sensei reads all the time!" Naruto shouted, pointing a finger dramatically at the white-haired Sannin. "You're an Ero-Sennin!"

Jiraiya's eyebrow twitched as Hiruzen snickered at the name and Naruto just smirked.

"Why did you want me to meet Ero-Sennin?" Naruto asked the Third, acting confused.

"Jiraiya is a Seal Master and I called him to make sure your seal containing the Kyuubi is intact." The Sandaime laced his fingers together.

"A Seal Master?" Naruto looked wide-eyed at Jiraiya.

"That's right brat." Jiraiya puffed out his chest in pride. "I'm one of the best in the world and have taught the others, like the one who placed that seal on your stomach."

"You taught the Yondaime?" Naruto asked, eyes wide in fake excitement. "Do you think I look like him? I think I look like him!"

Naruto was very amused at the confused look that crossed Jiraiya's eyes and the shifting from the Sandaime.

"Don't let him see the seal, remember physical changes like scars, tattoos and seals came back with you!" Kurama hissed inside Naruto's head.

"Ah, I remember now, thanks for the reminder. How is your family reunion going?" Naruto mentally nodded.

"Don't even start, I've got a massive headache and here I thought you were annoying." Kurama whined.

"I'm not looking so bad am I now, eh fuzzy?" Naruto mentally laughed before he turned his attention back to his godfather.

"Tell you what kid, why don't you let me check your seal and we'll talk." Jiraiya offered after Naruto crossed his arms and gave the white-haired man an unimpressed look.

"I don't think so, Ero-Sennin. Like hell I'm taking off my shirt for you." Naruto refused. "Can't you feel my chakra or something like that?"

"Fine you little brat, flare your chakra for me. Can you do that?" Jiraiya asked with an annoyed look on his face that Naruto had seen many times.

"Yes I can do that Ero-Sennin." Naruto snarked and he flared his chakra; it rose up to a high level and covered the whole room. Naruto smirked a bit as he spotted the hidden ANBU shift slightly at the increase of chakra. Naruto's smirk increased a bit as he recognized the chakra as that of Tenzo/Yamato-taicho. Good to know he was out of ROOT and Orochimaru's clutches.

"Naruto, your chakra is unlike any I've ever come across…" Jiraiya said, his voice low and full of awe. "However I do not sense any remaining chakra that is leaking from the seal, I would have to say the seal is intact and doing fine."

"Cool, so what are we going to talk about?" Naruto bounced on his heels, pulling back in his chakra.

"Before that Naruto-kun I have something I need to tell you about Jiraiya." Hiruzen cut in and the white-haired Sannin nodded.

"What is it?" Naruto asked, feigning confusion.

"Naruto… I'm your godfather." Jiraiya said solemnly. Naruto forced himself to freeze and glance at the Third for confirmation and Hiruzen nodded.

"Huh…" Naruto said slowly before he flew across the room and punched Jiraiya across the face, all his anger at his version of Jiraiya for going off on his own and dying and not telling him that he was his godfather was released with that punch. "You left me alone." Naruto hissed, his words having a double meaning- however only he knew the second meaning.

"I know… you don't know how much I regret letting the elders talk me into leaving the village. I should have stayed, I should have taken you with me, I should have done something." Jiraiya sat on the ground where he fell from the force of the punch. Jiraiya gently rubbed his cheek as he stood up. "That strength you've got there is impressive, have you been training under Tsunade?"

"Who?" Naruto feigned confusion yet again.

"You didn't tell me Tsunade left as well!" Jiraiya froze up before he rounded on his old sensei. "If I had known that I would have come back right away! I thought Naruto was being cared for by her- after all, she's his last family member!"

"I have a family member?" Naruto tilted his head to the side; this was new information. Yes he called her Baa-chan, but he had no idea if they were related or not.

"Yes you do… I'm truly sorry Naruto." Jiraiya let his head drop.

"Will you explain this to me?" Naruto questioned.

"After the exams are over, we will find her and she can explain herself to both of us." Jiraiya swore and Naruto nodded his head before he was flying across the room and he threw his arms tightly around his godfather's middle and buried his head in Jiraiya's chest. Naruto shakily inhaled his familiar scent as Jiraiya wrapped his arms around his godson tightly.

"I'm here now Naruto, I'll tell you everything I can and I'll be here to help you from now on." Jiraiya swore as he stroked the blond hair.

"I'm holding you to that, no matter what! If you need to leave for a mission or ANYTHING at least come say goodbye!" Naruto ordered, his voice wavering. Jiraiya picked up on the emotions behind those words and nodded his head in a promise. "Good! Now let's go for some ramen and you can tell me about my dad and how he was before he became the Yondaime Hokage." Naruto grinned cheekily as he leapt up to the windowsill. He laughed at the shocked looks on Jiraiya and the Sandaime's faces.

"Meet you at Ichiraku's!" Naruto waved his hand before he dropped out of sight and made his way to Ichiraku's cackling the whole way.

"Hey there Naruto! It's been a while!" Teuchi greeted his favorite customer with a large grin and quickly started making a bowl of Naruto's favorite ramen.

"Hiya Teuchi-Jiji! Sorry, I've been really busy with the chunin exams and everything." Naruto rubbed his head sheepishly as he sensed Jiraiya approaching the restaurant.

"What the hell was that Naruto?" Jiraiya questioned, Naruto turned his head as he slurped a large amount of ramen. Jiraiya stared at the blond, flashing back to how Kushina used to eat ramen just like that in this exact spot with Minato by her side.

"What the hell was what Ero-Sennin?" Naruto asked innocently as he finished his bowl and Teuchi set down another one, interested in why Jiraiya of the Sannin was talking with his favorite customer.

"You can't just drop a bombshell like that on us and then jump out a window!" Jiraiya huffed as he slid onto a stool by the blond, ordering his own bowl.

"It's not that big of a deal, I mean you have to be pretty stupid not to see the resemblance and then I did some research with Shikamaru, and since Shika's a Nara it was easy to come to the correct conclusion." Naruto said seriously as he started on his second bowl of ramen.

"Huh, you're full of surprises aren't you kid?" Jiraiya pondered over the words as the two ate.

"You have no idea." Naruto said cheerfully as the two ate their amazing ramen while Teuchi looked on with a small smile as he remembered Jiraiya taking another blond to his stand for ramen after training, it looks like history was repeating itself.

"Come on kid, time for that talk I promised you." Jiraiya said as the two paid for their ramen, his heart swelling at the sight of the green frog wallet the blond had used to pay before regret hit him hard for not being able to give to him in person.

"Sweet." Naruto grinned, he knew this was going to be a repeat of some information but this time around it felt different. The blond walked beside his godfather, ignoring all the glares and whispers, however Jiraiya did not do so. He felt his fists clench together tighter at every word or glare sent in his godson's direction.

The duo arrived in the same training ground they used the last time, but the circumstances were very different and for that Naruto was thankful. He was really hoping he wouldn't be chucked off a cliff this time around.

"I wouldn't mind seeing that again." Kurama chuckled lowly in Naruto's mind.

"Remember fuzzy- if I go, you go with me." Naruto shot back and the Kyuubi huffed before falling silent as Jiraiya turned to look down at the blond.

"First off, those glares people had on when we walked by, how long…?" Jiraiya didn't want to finish the sentence.

"Ever since I was born, but I've grown used to it and I simply don't care anymore." Naruto said honestly.

"It is not right, they have no idea." Jiraiya gritted his teeth.

"You're right, they have no idea and it's better to keep it that way for their own safety." Naruto insisted and Jiraiya shook his head.

"That is something your father would have said." Jiraiya stated fondly with a smile on his lips. "Speaking of, how did you know who your father was?"

"I have the smartest Nara in the genius clan for a best friend, figure it out." Naruto said cheekily. "I want to know about my dad as a person and his skills!"

"I can tell you all about him kiddo I promise, but don't you have to train for something important?" Jiraiya ruffled the blond's spiky hair.

"Oh right! I have to fight Neji Hyuuga." Naruto wrinkled his nose, he really rather not fight one of his best friends, but this version of Neji needed a swift kick in the ass and to be shaken out of his fatalistic mindset. "It will be extremely troublesome, but looks like I have to out-logic him."

"You sound like a Nara. Let me give you something before you start training for the fight." Jiraiya chuckled before he pulled the giant scroll off his back and rolled it out in front of the two.

"This is a summoning contract Naruto, it is a contract for toads and I want you to sign your name. It makes sense that you are the next one to make a contract with them after all."

Naruto fell to his knees and stared at the scroll, praying that his name wasn't there and thankfully it was not. He smiled softly as he easily traced his father's name before he pulled out a kunai and swiftly sliced his skin open.

"Right here, under my father's name?" Naruto asked, voice shaky as he stared at Minato's name.

"That's right." Jiraiya blinked at how easily Naruto had sliced open his hand, he watched as Naruto signed his name in blood and stared at the name as it sunk into the contract.

Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze.

"It is my name after all." Naruto smirked noticing the Sannin was staring as his hand healed up thanks to Kurama.

"Alright then… Do you know how summonings work?" Jiraiya asked tearing his eyes away from the scroll.

"I cut my thumb, make the correct hand seals and slam my hand on a surface while saying Summoning Jutsu right?" Naruto rocked on his heels.

"…Right, why don't you give it a shot? Don't be too disappointed if you can only summon a tadpole at first." Jiraiya prepared the blond so he was not disappointed or frustrated.

"Here I go Ero-Sennin! Summoning Jutsu!" Naruto made the needed hand seals, bit his thumb with practiced ease and slammed his right hand onto the ground as seals spread out from his palm and a huge puff of smoke appeared.

Jiraiya watched in shock and awe as the smoke cleared. Gamabunta, one of the chief toads appeared and Naruto was sitting cross-legged on the toad's head.

"You would summon Gamabunta on the first try, Naruto." Jiraiya said amazed.

"Brat, get off my head." Gamabunta said, his tone rough, but the undertone was one of fondness.

"Why? I can see everything from up here! How did I do Ero-Sennin?" Naruto waved his arms down at his godfather.

"Jiraiya, I'll be damned. Good to see ya." Gamabunta grunted, a smile appearing behind his pipe.

"Naruto, you just summoned one of the chief toads on your first try!" Jiraiya shouted up to the blond.

"Nice to meet ya chief toad sir!" Naruto smiled knowingly at Gamabunta who grunted in response.

"So you're Namikaze's offspring huh? Tell ya what brat, if you can survive the rest of my day on my head I'll accept ya." Gamabunta told the blond, the silent 'for old time's sake' was heard between the two.

"When I do it you better call me boss!" Naruto laughed loudly before he adjusted his position so he could cling to Gamabunta.

"That'll be the day, see ya at sundown Jiraiya." Gamabunta puffed his pipe before he leapt up into the air, Naruto whooping in excitement as he and the toad disappeared leaving Jiraiya standing alone below.

"So you mind explaining what is going on brat?" Gamabunta questioned the blond who was easily sitting on his head as the giant toad leapt around the outlying forest so as not to frighten the people in the village.

Naruto sighed and told the toad chief the whole story.

"That makes sense, some of our kin that died in the war suddenly came back to life. We knew you had something to do with it, anything weird that happens always comes back to you." Gamabunta shook his head in a fond manner before he spotted the sun setting and Naruto still on his head.

"We better get you back to Jiraiya before he comes tearing up the place looking for you. Try to keep him alive this time yeah?"

"I plan on doing my best." Naruto promised solemnly. "Did you know I can't harness my sage mode while I'm 12? It's a real buzz kill, mention it to Jiraiya will ya so when I hit 16 I'll have a good excuse to be able to use it."

"Will do." Gamabunta grunted as he landed in the training ground where Jiraiya was resting under a large tree. "Brat managed to stay on my head all day, I think he has the making for another sage, when he's old enough he'll be reversed summoned to start training." Gamabunta admitted to the white-haired Sannin.

"Really?" Jiraiya's eyebrows rose as he craned his head backwards to look at Naruto, who had curled up on the toad's head and was breathing evenly as he fell asleep.

"Really, now make sure the brat gets home safe and stay close to your Hokage tomorrow. I have a feeling something is going to happen and you will be needed." Gamabunta ordered and waited as Jiraiya leapt up onto his head as well and gently slipped his arms around the sleeping blond before dropping back to the ground.

"Thank you Gamabunta, tell the others I say hello. I planned on staying to see Naruto's fight anyways." Jiraiya inclined his head and the toad chief nodded before he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"You're an odd one Naruto, but looking at who your family is you fit right in." Jiraiya said, fondness creeping into his tone as he headed back towards the village and the place he was staying whilst in the Leaf.

"And done." Shikamaru stepped back and smiled happily at the finished result of his Hidan trap. It was exactly the same one that trapped him in the future, but he was hoping he would get to the 'immortal' man before he could come across Asuma.

"That was easier the second time around." Shikamaru brushed off his pants as he pet a deer that had been watching over him whilst he worked. "Want to come to the shrine with me?" Shikamaru asked the deer. The animal tossed its head before walking off in the direction of the abandoned shrine belonging to his clan, long forgotten until now.

He and the deer strolled deeper into the forest than the rest of the clan had ever ventured, even his father. He spotted the small, wooden, ancient shrine that was overgrown with weeds, flowers and vines.

"Thanks for the company." Shikamaru fed the deer a carrot from his pocket and watched as the deer disappeared into the dense forest.

Shikamaru gingerly walked up the broken old stairs and he walked into the main area of the shrine with purpose. He knew what he was doing this time around causing him to head straight for the hiding spot that took a while to find last time. He put some effort into it for once and pushed open the lid of the dust coated wooden box that held the item he was looking for.

"Perfect." Shikamaru blew the dust off the summoning contract scroll. "I hope they remember me, it would be troublesome if I had to go through all that 'proving myself' stuff again."

He unrolled the scroll across the ground by his feet and glanced over the names of the ancient Naras who had signed the scroll before he had, noticing his name was not there. Pulling out a kunai, Shikamaru sliced his palm open and quickly signed his name on the next blank space. He rolled up the scroll before he put it back in its proper place, knowing it would be safe there and headed back out of the shrine.

"Here goes nothing: Summoning Jutsu!" Shikamaru slammed his palm against the grass and watched as black seals spread out and a column of smoke appeared a few feet in front of him.

"Shikamaru Nara, it has been a long time since I've seen you!" A female voice called out cheerfully as the smoke cleared showing a 10 foot tall white-tailed doe curled up on its side wearing a tight fitting white robe. She smiled down at the small genin. "Did you shrink since the last time we met?"

"Hello Kōsetsu, it is nice to see you too. Actually I haven't shrunk, try going back in time." Shikamaru smiled up at the chief female of the Shade Deer Clan that the Naras had had a summoning contract with, but over time and the lack of wars it had been buried away.

"Ah, that makes loads more sense than you having shrunk!" Kōsetsu laughed. She was always a cheerful one, but if you were an enemy then you would be haunted by her laugh afterwards. "My darling Shiro suddenly reappeared so we theorized that you and your blond Hokage had something to do with that."

"Good conclusion Kōsetsu." Shikamaru smiled. "I wish to hold the contract in this timeline as well… I don't have to 'prove my worth' again do I?" Shikamaru asked, dreading the answer as the doe inspected him. "Nah, not this time. Once was enough if you ask me!" Kōsetsu smiled before she dropped her head onto her hoofs and blinked at him. Shikamaru smiled at the familiar sight and sat beside her nose and stroked her fur, she made a noise of approval.

"Thank you, it would be beyond troublesome." Shikamaru admitted.

"Agreed, now before I give you back what belongs to your clan I want to take a nap." Kōsetsu yawned.

"Not for too long okay? I don't want my dad to come look for me and find you here." Shikamaru told the giant battle doe.

"Ah, keeping us a secret are we? It's like an affair!" Kōsetsu laughed before she lifted a front leg and a small ball of darkness appeared and floated down to Shikamaru's feet. The darkness receded and laying in its wake was a beautifully crafted katana. "Here's your little Shadow's Edge."

"Kage no Ejji." Shikamaru sighed out happily as he picked up the familiar katana and drew the blade swiftly. If you looked hard enough, you could see the obsidian blade moving as if it was made out of shadows. Shikamaru smiled as he made a few swings. He fell back into his kenjutsu stance and with Kōsetsu watching him happily he practiced his stances and getting his genin body used to the weight of the katana.

"Looking good, Little Deer." Kōsetsu commented as Shikamaru finished his practice and slid the katana back into its pitch-black sheath. With a sigh he pulled out an empty scroll and sealed the beautiful katana into it before placing it back in his pack.

"I should let you get back to Shiro." Shikamaru smirked at the battle doe who chuffed in response. The sun had lowered down past the treetops, throwing dancing shadows everywhere.

"I suppose so, I will see you soon Little Deer." Kōsetsu inclined her head, Shikamaru smiled before the giant doe disappeared in another puff of smoke.

Shikamaru took a few calming breaths before he headed out of the forest and back towards his family compound. He had a feeling that Naruto wasn't coming back tonight, he should tell his parents that so they did not have to worry.

No, the worrying will come tomorrow with the chunin exams final round.

"Let the invasion begin." Shikamaru muttered to himself, fingering the scroll that had his katana sealed inside.

Chapter 12

"Today is the day that will determine our fate Shika." Naruto said somberly as the two perched on top of the Hokage monument in the early morning of the day of the final rounds of the chunin exams. "Gaara sent a message, Baki was overheard and the Sandaime has been informed alerting all ANBU, jounin and chunin. Is it time for the next step in our plan?"

"Yes." Shikamaru nodded. "We need to take out the Sound Four quickly and discreetly. They should be posing as bodyguards for the fake Yondaime Kazekage aka the Snake-bastard."

"Alright, Akito, it's time to put our plan into action." Naruto stood up and the duo made a hand sign, their permanent shadow clones appearing in their places as the real versions of Naruto and Shikamaru henged into Akira and Akito Kazama.

"Ready Akito?" Akira attached Raijin to his hip while Akito slung Kage no Ejji across his back and double-checked his trench knives.

"Ready Akira, I am taking Tayuya and Jirobo out if you don't have any quarrels with that." Akito flexed his fingers.

"I'll take out Kidomaru, Sakon/Ukon, and Kimimaro if he shows up then." Akira nodded his agreement before the two took off. Akira followed their chakra- having a sensor type on your side was a bonus sometimes.

"They aren't all together and the Snake-bastard is nowhere near them, so stealth attacks from here on out." Naruto reported before signing the coordinates of where Tayuya and Jirobo were located. Akito nodded once before he splintered off to complete his part of the mission.

Akito hid his chakra and landed silently on a branch overlooking a waterfall and a small clearing where Tayuya was polishing her damned flute.

"Shadow Stitching." The redhead muttered as he watched as his shadows travel up behind the redhead and lash her limbs into place, flute far from her mouth.


"Shadow Strangle." Akito smirked and watched from his branch as the black shadow formed a hand and tightened around her neck. He focused a bit more as she gasped for air and with a clench of his jaw, her neck snapped and she hung limply in the shadow's grasps.

"Katon: Fire Ball Jutsu." Akito watched pleased as Tayuya's body burned away to ashes and scattered across the water before they flowed down the waterfall.

"Now we're even you bitch." The genin growled as he headed towards his next target.

Akira smirked as he spotted Kidomaru stretching out his six arms. He had to make sure not to get in close as from what Neji told him, this one was easily a jounin-level taijutsu user. Akira silently made five more clones of himself holding Raijin and from behind Kidomaru the Akiras struck.

In one swift and silent motion the Akiras sliced off all six arms; one hand from one of the clones was covering Kidomaru's mouth to silence his screams. Two of them sliced off his legs at the knees and the real Akira grimaced but he slid the blade through Kidomaru's neck and jumped back as his head hit the ground with a thud beside his detached limbs.

"Katon: Fire Ball Jutsu." Akira waved a hand. The clones shot five small fireballs at the limbs of Kidomaru and watched pleased as they burnt up easily. He flicked his finger and a silent Fuuton jutsu sent the ashes flying up into the sky and they scattered.

Akira let his clones disappear and he headed towards Sakon/Ukon swiftly as the wind itself.

Akito watched as Jirobo munched on a bag of chips, eerily reminding the redhead of Choji. He shook off that thought. This bastard had almost killed Choji and for that he would die in a more personal style than he killed Tayuya, but he had to stay away as this ninja could absorb chakra and he used his size and strength to his advantage.

"Shadow Possession Jutsu." Akito intoned and watched as his shadow caught Jirobo's. The Oto Nin growled when he found he couldn't move as Akito dropped out of his hiding place and the two walked towards each other. Akito drew Kage no Ejji. Jirobo copied the movement but his hand closed around nothing but air.

"Who are you?" Jirobo growled angrily as he eyed the katana.

"Your executioner." Akito said in a flat tone. With a flick of his wrist, Jirobo's head was separated from his neck in a spray of red blood. The redhead released his jutsu and fired a small ball of fire at the two remaining pieces of the ninja and smirked as the ashes disappeared in the breeze.

"That was for Choji." Akito growled before he disappeared back into the shadows of the trees. He had to meet Akira at the rendezvous point to finish off phase one of their invasion plan.

Akira looked down at Sakon/Ukon as the two brothers bickered, he could not sense Kimimaro's chakra anywhere in the Leaf. If what he heard from Lee and Gaara was correct, he must have left to get treatment from Kabuto but died from his sickness nonetheless before he could actually kill the two. So if he waited long enough, the sickness would kill him and no fighting would be needed.

Akira gently laid his palms on the ground before him and kept his indigo eyes trained on the brothers in front of him.

"Doton: Earth Dome Prison." Akira whispered, using Jirobo's jutsu against his own teammate. Akira watched as the brothers were trapped within the prison and the redhead made a small opening at the top of the dome.

"Katon: Fire Ball Jutsu." Akira intoned as he hovered on the wind using his wind affinity and his chakra control. He shot the fireball down into the opening and didn't flinch as he heard the muffled screams of the brothers burning. He kept the stream of fire up until he was completely sure the two were dead and burnt to ashes. He dropped both his jutsus and watched as the wind whisked away the remainders of Sakon/Ukon.

Akira took off towards the rendezvous point where he knew Akito was waiting for him.

"So… was that easier the second time around or was it just me?" Akito asked as Akira dropped down next to him.

"No, it was much easier." Akira agreed. "Now to finish this part of the plan, we then should swap places with our shadow clones and get to the exams before I have to fight Neji."

"Right." Akito nodded in understanding. The two made a hand sign and watched as permanent shadow clones of the Sound Four appeared beside them.

"Perfect. Go and carry out the plan." Akira ordered and the shadow clones nodded and the four took off to fulfill their roles.

"Ready to head out?" Akito questioned and the other redhead nodded and the two flew out into the village in two red blurs. Thus began the rumors of the two mysterious red blurs that would grow into something more before the day was through.

Akira and Akito watched as Naruto and Shikamaru made their way to the arena with Shikaku and Yoshino. The two had to wait until the four separated before they leapt down and with no one around swapped places.

Naruto worked out a kink in his neck as Shikamaru tightened his standard ponytail as they approached the box housing all the fighting genin and their jounin senseis.

"About time." Genma, the proctor for the final round, called as the two walked in, trying to hide their smug smiles. "We didn't think you would show."

"Please, we wouldn't miss this for anything." Naruto smirked, eyes flickering to Neji who was glaring hatefully at him.

"Even if it's troublesome." Shikamaru sighed while Temari huffed at the comment.

"Chin up Shika! When the day is done I'll let you sleep all you want!" Naruto whacked the Nara on the back enthusiastically while the black-haired genin grumbled under his breath.

"I better get to." Shikamaru grumbled knowing that he and Naruto were going to need a week to recover from everything that was going to happen today.

"Are you ready Shikamaru?" Asuma questioned his genin curiously.

"As I'll ever be Asuma-sensei." Shikamaru said truthfully as the two moved away from the others in the room so he let his voice shake a bit. He was in fact scared of what was to come and he hoped nothing major had changed thanks to the ripples he and Naruto had made during the prelims. He noticed Sasuke was there on time, so the bonus was that he wouldn't have to fight and be exhausted when the time came.

"I'll be cheering for you Shikamaru." Asuma smiled, placing his hand on his student's head fondly and Shikamaru smiled shyly up at him, feeling a piece of his heart slowly returning to him. He had lost it when Asuma had died by the hands of Hidan, but seeing him here and being in his presence was repairing that hole. Perhaps he could convince Naruto that Akito needed to take Hidan out sooner than before, he had to make sure Asuma was safe from that psycho.

"Thanks sensei."

"So Naru-chan, how did your training with Jiraiya-sama go?" Kakashi asked the blond quietly.

"It was great! He even had me sign the same contract as my dad!" Naruto beamed and was glad to see the eye smile Kakashi was giving him.

"That's great Naru-chan, I'm sorry I couldn't train you or even come see you. Yoshino-san is very violent when she has charges in her care." Kakashi shuddered and Naruto had to fight down a blush.

"It's okay Kashi-sensei, I understand why you had to train Sasuke, I really do and I agree. Mom is terrifying and any man with some sort of brain wouldn't go against her rule." Naruto shuddered the mere idea of fighting against Yoshino.

"Mom?" Kakashi asked confused and Naruto's cheeks heated up more.

"Yoshino-san… She and Shikaku-san asked me to call them mom and dad if I felt comfortable doing so, I'm not saying it out of disrespect for my real mom and dad as I love them both so much, it just feels nice to have someone to call that." Naruto whispered and Kakashi nodded in understanding.

"I understand Naru-chan, I know that your parents wouldn't mind you doing so. They were good friends with Yoshino-san and Shikaku-san. Naru-chan, I want you to do your best out there and know that I'm cheering for you." Kakashi smiled as he pulled out his book, Naruto rolled his eyes at the book.

"Thanks Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto beamed. "Do you know where Jiraiya-sensei is?"

"Ah, I believe he is acting as the Hokage's bodyguard." Kakashi scratched his eye and Naruto glanced at the box housing the Kages and there was the Sannin, standing between the Kazekage and the Sandaime, he was giving the Kazekage a suspicious look every so often. The Sandaime stood up and cleared his throat as the arena fell silent. The Hokage gave his opening remarks and welcomed everyone to Konoha.

Naruto tuned out the speech, having heard it before and not too keen on hearing it again. He turned his attention to Gaara who was staring at the box where Orochimaru was posing as the Yondaime Kazekage having killed the real one; Gaara was gripping the fabric of his sleeves tightly as he glared.

"First matchup! Neji Hyuuga of Konoha VS Naruto Uzumaki of Konoha." Genma called out and Neji walked out into the arena.

"Go on then." Shikamaru made a 'shooing' motion at the blond who rolled his eyes before standing up on the railing.

"I've got to make an entrance Shika, you know me." Naruto smirked before he threw himself off the railing. He tucked into a ball and spun a bit before he landed on the ground gracefully and waved cheerfully up at the crowd. Neji growled lowly at the sight as the blond stopped a few feet away from him with Genma in between the two.

"Alright you two, you know the rules." Genma said around his senbon. "Ready?" The two nodded in response. "Then… begin!"

Genma backed up as Neji sank into his clan's stance while Naruto stood there simply. Neji growled and rushed forwards and in a blur of movement the two started their dance. Neji lashed out with his clan's Jukenpo. Naruto just dodged out of the way thus angering the Hyuuga even more. Naruto had subconsciously tuned out all the words about destiny and fate the Hyuuga had been spewing for the whole battle as he had heard it all before and had no desire to hear it all again. It was painful to see one of his best friends back as his old hate-filled self again and Naruto decided it was time to out-logic and anger him.

"Sorry, I didn't catch a word of that." Naruto wiggled his pinky in his ear as he leapt back from another attack. He could see the steam coming off of Neji's face as the Hyuuga growled like an animal and sank into a familiar stance.

"You dare, take this! Gentle Fist: Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms!" Neji used the attack that only main branch members were allowed to learn, Naruto stood his ground and let all the blows hit him dead on before falling to the ground. "This battle is finished and your destiny to lose to me is complete." Neji sneered but Naruto just smiled around the blood trickling out of his mouth before the blond disappeared in a puff of smoke showing he was a shadow clone.

"What!?" Neji scanned the arena for the blond while the ground shook around him, but before he could react Naruto burst out of the ground like last time and sent a chakra infused punch right into Neji's jaw. The force sent the Hyuuga flying into the air, he landed with a grunt and Naruto sent a spray of kunai at the Hyuuga, pinning his clothes to the surface of the arena before he squatted next to the Hyuuga so only Neji could hear his words.

"I believe we can make our own destiny Neji and I know you believe that as well. After all, aren't main branch members the only one allowed to know Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms? That is your own way of breaking the destiny you think you are tied to for not being born into the main branch. If destiny were set in stone, I would never have survived the night I was born or any day after that. Yet here I am, you think you are the only one with a horrible seal placed on you, think again. I have one of the most powerful and most psychotic monsters out there sealed within me, I have to fight every moment of every day to keep it at bay." Okay the most psychotic part may have been a stretch nowadays, but not in the past. Naruto felt Kurama mentally puff out his chest when called 'most powerful'. "I'm still here aren't I? I make my own destiny Neji and you are well on your way to make your own. Don't let your hatred of the past cloud your future. You have to accept it, try your best to understand it and then you have to work for a brighter tomorrow. What do you say Neji? Do you want to work together for a brighter future?" Naruto finished his speech to the genin who was now looking up at Naruto wide-eyed.

"Naruto Uzumaki… You are something else…" Neji swallowed and averted his eyes. "I can't just let go of my hatred as easily as you can…"

"It will take time, trust me I know, nothing was easy about letting it go for me." Naruto said soothingly. "Start with finding out the truth of what happened to your father." Neji's head whipped around at those words. "When the time comes, things will change in your clan- I can promise you that and I just know you will be at the head of these changes. So, what do you say Neji? Will you help me change the future?" Naruto asked holding out his hand to the Hyuuga, his words having a double meaning to them.

"I say… I'm looking forward to it." Neji said slowly, Naruto grinned happily as he removed the kunai pinning him and hauled the Hyuuga up. "Proctor, I forfeit." Neji's voice rang out and the stand erupted in cheers and shouts.

"Winner Naruto Uzumaki of Konoha!" Genma raised the hand closest to Naruto who smiled softly at Neji.

"When this is all over, we should have a spar! Your Jukenpo is amazing and I can't wait to fight against it in a friendly fight!" Naruto suggested and earned a small smile from Neji.

"I would like that Naruto… Thank you." Neji shook Naruto's hand.

"Awe, it was nothing." Naruto blushed as the two left the arena. Neji swallowed when he saw Hiashi waiting for him, Naruto patted the Hyuuga's shoulder before walking past the head of the Hyuuga clan with a heavy glare set in his face and he made sure Hiashi could see it.

"So how was that for outsmarting him?" Naruto asked Shikamaru when he entered the box.

"Worthy of a Nara." Shikamaru commented while Kakashi patted Naruto's head in his version of praise.

"What did you say to him anyways? No one could hear a word of it." Kakashi asked the blond.

"It's a secret." Naruto smiled cheekily, gaining a fond eye roll from the jounin before the blond went to stand by Shikamaru and Gaara who were standing beside each other at the railing.

"The five minute signal just went off." Gaara muttered to the two.

"Good luck Gaara, try not to kill Sasuke will you?" Naruto whispered as Sasuke headed down towards the arena.

"No promises." Gaara growled.

"I like his way of thinking, can't we kill the little whelp?" Kurama questioned.

"We can't kill this Sasuke for something our Sasuke did. If we can swing this right he will make a fine ANBU taicho for Konoha." Naruto reminded the fox, who just grumbled annoyed but settled in to watch what was going to happen next.

"Next match! Sabaku no Gaara of Suna VS Sasuke Uchiha of Konoha!" Genma announced the next match and the redhead using his sand entered the arena across from the Uchiha.

"Ready…Begin!" Genma backed off and Sasuke went on the attack, Gaara was forced to play defense as he used his sand to block every attack the Uchiha made.

Five… Four… Three… Two… One.

White feathers fell around the stadium.

"So it begins." Naruto muttered as he and Shikamaru quietly released the genjutsu before falling to the ground 'asleep' like the others around them minus Kankuro and Temari. Asuma and Kakashi quickly dispelled the genjutsu around them and checked on the sleeping genin still in the box; Temari and Kankuro had leapt out to join their little brother the moment the feathers fell.

"They are okay Asuma, we need to go. They will be safe here." Kakashi looking up from his place by Naruto, Asuma nodded and touched Shikamaru's forehead briefly before the two jounin disappeared from the box.

Naruto opened his eyes and sat up next to Shikamaru, after making sure Shino was still out the two created shadow clones and left them sleeping in the room and henged themselves into Akira and Akito.

Akira woke up Naruto and Shikamaru while Akito woke Shino.

"Who are you?" Naruto demanded as he leapt to his feet next to Shikamaru and Shino all three falling into defensive stances.

"We are allies, there is an invasion by Oto happening. Suna was supposed to be in on it, but thanks to Sabaku no Gaara they are now on Konoha's side. As chunin hopefuls you three must help keep the civilians safe alongside the other ninja in the village. Can you do this?" Akira looked each genin in their eyes making sure to use his Kage tone of voice.

"Yes." The three agreed.

"Good, make Konoha proud." Akito jerked his head to chaos that was happening in the stadium. The three nodded and leapt out of the box they started to gather the other genin. Then they started to escort civilians to safe locations.

"Looks like Orochimaru is being unmasked by Gaara…" Akira pointed at the sand ripping apart the Kazekage disguise to show Orochimaru below.

"You killed my father and tricked Suna into siding with Oto! From here on out the Village Hidden in the Sand will aid the Leaf!" Gaara's voice boomed and a column of sand flew up into the sky as a signal to all Suna nin.

"He was never this dramatic before he met you." Akito commented as the two moved in red blurs around the stadium and the streets of the village, taking out good chunks of enemy ninja.

"Thanks!" Akira grinned, taking it as a compliment and he kept an eye on the Sandaime and Orochimaru. "Oh crap!" Akira cursed as the two landed on the roof of the stadium overlooking a good chunk of the village.

"What?" Akito glanced at his twin.

"Orochimaru created two shadow clones and they are heading towards Naruto and Shikamaru. He can really hold a grudge!" Akira reported as the shadow clones leapt at Naruto and Shikamaru.

Shikamaru cried out as one of the shadow clones grabbed him by the back of his head and had his head yanked back harshly and fangs moved towards his jugular.

Naruto had tried to run towards Shikamaru to help the Nara, but the shadow clone tackled him down, pinning the blond genin down, mouth moving towards the blond's exposed neck like he was going to place a curse mark on the genin.

"What should we do?" Akira swallowed hard as he looked towards the shadow clones and then at where the Sound Four were raising the Four Violet Flames Formation to trap the Sandaime leaving Jiraiya outside the barrier with the ANBU squad.

"Look!" Akito pointed down at where Naruto and Shikamaru were pinned down. Both sighed a breath of relief when Gai and Lee did a 'dynamic' entrance, giving both shadow clones strong kicks in the head making them disappear leaving the two genin unharmed thankfully.

"Thank the gods for Gai and Lee." Akira let out a relieved breath as Shikamaru and Naruto joined the other genin teams and spread out to help protect the village.

"I think it's time to destroy the rest of Orochimaru's plan." Akito smirked and Akira cast his silent Fuuton: Free Flying and the two rose up into the air and in blurs of red the two approached the barrier.

Hovering over the giant wall, the two made a release hand sign and watched with smug looks on their faces as one by one the Sound Four puffed away, Orochimaru spinning around to see each one disappearing. His face showed his rage as the barrier fell. Right away Jiraiya and the ANBU flanked the Sandaime.

"You know Orochimaru, you should really make sure the key ninja in your plan aren't shadow clones before you start to invade villages." Akira commented as he and Akito dropped down from the sky between the two groups, adopting ready stances and standing protectively between Orochimaru and the Leaf nin behind them.

"Who are you?" Orochimaru hissed with his tongue flicking out and Akira wrinkled his nose up in disgust.

"Allies of Konoha." Akito stated simply. "Now either surrender or be destroyed."

"I will never sssurender to you!" Orochimaru growled and started to form hand signs using a mismatched arm that Akito had to guess he had no choice but to use as a last minute replacement as Akira had chopped off his other one in the forest. Akito moved quickly and with accuracy he swung his katana and Orochimaru howled in pain as his severed arms fell to the roof at his feet.

"What have you done?" Orochimaru shrieked as Akito leapt back to stand beside Akira.

"Stopped you from using any jutsus." Akito stated and watched pleased as the severed arms were covered in shadows and soon nothing was left behind.

"Sandaime Hokage, this is your village and we will abide by your word on what to do with this traitor, but please know that if allowed to live this snake will cause more pain and death for many innocent people." Akira stood to the side, looking at the Sandaime out of respect.

"…I do not know who you two are, but I do know that by banishing him the first time I have brought this invasion upon the village and who knows how many more deaths." The Sandaime sounded weary with age and burden. "Destroy him."

"Yes, Hokage-sama." The group nodded. Orochimaru hissed, his long tongue flicking out. A flash of red passed him before said tongue dropped to the roof and rolled down the slope.

"I hate that disgusting tongue." Akira shouldered the hilt of his Raijin (henged as not to raise suspicion of why he had it instead of Naruto). Akito pulled out one of his trench knives and tossed it at the ground in front of Orochimaru, who went to lunge forward. The Snake Sannin hissed distortedly as he found he could not move any of his remaining limbs.

"Slice all his limbs into pieces, then seal them into separate scrolls and burn them after the battle is finished." Akito signed to the ANBU team, the stance and presence of power the redhead gave off made them not question his orders as they leapt into action. Jiraiya stayed back guarding his old sensei, his face uncertain.

"We will handle this with the ANBU team, there is no need for you to get involved." Akira nodded his head slightly at Jiraiya, knowing that the man was battling his feelings about his old teammate.

"Thank you…" Jiraiya trailed off as the ANBU team and Akito lashed and slashed Orochimaru into pieces, each piece being sealed in a different scroll. Akito's binding through the trench knife working to its full potential.

"My name is Akira Kazama and that is my twin, Akito. We will explain everything once the invasion is won, for now my brother and I will patrol the village and make sure things are going well." Akira forced himself to kneel in front of the Hokage. Normally he wouldn't have done so, but he respected Jiji and he had to keep up the act.

"Thank you Akira Kazama." The Hokage nodded and Akira stood back up before he joined his brother's side and together with their katana the two sliced right down the middle of Orochimaru's face before the two left the rest of the sealing in the ANBU's capable hands.

"About damn time that snake got what was coming to him." Kurama cackled inside Akira's head.

"Agreed, that felt really good." Akira cackled alongside the Nine-Tails.

Akira and Akito leapt off the roof in red blurs and perched on their place from before overlooking the village.

"I sense Shikaku-san, Inoichi-san and Choza-san are fighting another wave of Oto ninja at the gates to the village." Akira reported.

"I will aid them before moving on to find Iruka-sensei and the academy children to make sure they are safe." Akito said and Akira nodded once and Akito ran off in a red blur.

"I'll help out some of the cute little genin then." Akira leapt off towards the largest grouping of Konoha genin chakra to see them surrounded by some jounin-level Oto ninja. It was Team Gai, 8, and 7. Each genin was sporting varying injuries and seeing the blood coming from his friends boiled Akira's own.

"Let's show them true power." Kurama hissed.

"Let's show them what a fox can do." Akira grinned viciously before growling like a fox when he spotted Lee being grabbed tightly by his throat. In a blur of red, Akira moved in with his katana pulled out and after infusing it with some chakra, he attacked.

Lee suddenly dropped onto the ground. Tenten grabbed the back of his suit and dragged him back away from the red blur that was darting between the group of enemy nin.

"What's going on?" Kiba questioned as he adjusted his grip on a kunai, Akamaru growling slightly by his feet. Shino and Hinata did not have an answer for him.

"Whoever he is, he is strong and is using a katana." Tenten observed the flash of steel was seen every so often. Neji had his Byakugan activated and he steadied himself after looking at the red blur intently.

"This person has the strangest flow of chakra I have ever seen and there is a ton of it." Neji reported. After the talk with his uncle, he had gone to his team and made peace with them and swore to be a better team member and they had welcomed him back happily and… Youthfully.

"Hn." Sasuke growled as Sakura shifted beside him, eyes trained on the blur.

"So cool!" Naruto breathed, letting his shadow clones disappear.

The last Oto ninja in sight dropped to the ground dead and the red blur came to a stop revealing a 6'1" man with crimson hair tied in a braid with jaw length bangs, his indigo eyes dark as he wiped blood off his katana as his red cloak settled around him.

"Are you all alright?" The voice was deep, but it had a caring tone to it, it sounded like the wind.

"We think so… Thank you." Sakura spoke up, as the others seemed to be busy staring at him, for some reason she got a good feeling around this man like she knew he wouldn't hurt them.

"My pleasure, you all have done well today. It is not an easy situation to be thrown into, but you did well." Akira looked at each of them, Sasuke was the only one who looked away annoyed. "The invading force should be soon destroyed along with its leader. For now focus on keeping people safe and watch each other's backs in case of a sneak attack." Akira ordered and they all nodded, taking his words seriously.

"Hey, I didn't catch your name last time!" Naruto stepped forward and Akira ruffled his blond hair, feeling odd doing so.

"Good to see you again kit, my name is Akira Kazama and my twin brother Akito is out there as well so if you see someone else with my face, but with different clothes and a ponytail, he is an ally." Akira informed them before casting a silent Fuuton: Free Flying and he hovered up in the air before he waved at them and flew off in a red blur.

"So cool." Naruto repeated and this time he had some agreeing with him.

"I've never seen him in the village before… I hope we get to see him again; maybe even train with him." Kiba said in awe and they all couldn't help but agree with the idea.

Akito sped towards where he could now see the older generation of Ino-Shika-Cho fighting off a large amount of Oto ninja on their own. Akito narrowed his eyes and drew his katana and leapt into action. He sliced down an enemy who was sneaking up behind Shikaku, the Nara head whirled around to see Akito yanking his katana out of the ninja and the body was eaten away by darkness.

Akito and Shikaku's eyes locked, Akito inclined his head slightly before he leapt off the roof and slashed his way through the rest of the Sound ninja, helping out the older Ino-Shika-Cho every so often. When the last enemy fell, the trio glanced up at Akito who was standing up on a higher roof, the wind billowing his cloak and ponytail out behind him as he sheathed his katana on his back.

"Who are you?" Inoichi questioned, still in a battle stance.

"An ally of Konoha, my name is Akito Kazama. All will be explained later, but for now I would suggest you three go check on how the academy students are doing, this was the last wave of Oto ninja. The front gate is secure." Akito informed the trio before he leapt towards some familiar chakra leaving the older Ino-Shika-Cho group behind him.

Akito moved from roof to roof before pausing on the edge of the Hokage tower where he spotted Team 10 and the Sand Siblings fighting together against one of the last and largest groups of Oto ninja. Akito drew his katana once more and dropped down and punched one of the Oto ninja in the nose with the hilt of his katana, knocking him into a few other nin behind him.

That ninja had been coming up behind Ino ready to kill her so he got there first. Akito turned into a blur as he attacked the group of Oto nin. Working with Gaara's sand, Kankuro's puppets, Temari's Fuuton jutsus and Shikamaru's shadows, Akito took down the enemy ninja while letting a few through so Ino and Choji could take them down in close combat. Once Akito felled the final enemy ninja, the redhead turned back to the group of genin seeing Gaara hiding a smirk behind his slowly dissolving sand barrier, as the Kazekage knew of his and Akira's appearance changes.

"Thank you for your help… Who are you?" Ino bowed to the redhead, her cheeks pink.

"I am Akito Kazama, my twin brother Akira and myself are allies of Konoha. The invasion is over now, return to the stadium and find your families, friends and senseis. I'm sure the Hokage will have something to say to you all, watch your backs and be careful on your way back." Akito explained, he nodded at Shikamaru who nodded back before Akito glanced up to see a red blur pausing over him. Akito suddenly floated up into the air to join the red blur.

"So… That went well huh?" Akira asked as the twins made their way back to the stadium where the surviving Leaf ninja were now gathering, reuniting and treating injuries.

"Much better than last time." Akito nodded as the two took up their usual perch on the roof.

"That is the biggest understatement in history." Akira nodded sagely.

"Now here comes the backlash…" Akito commented as Shikaku, Inoichi and Choza appeared on the roof behind them.

"The Sandaime wishes for us to escort you two to his office to wait for him while he organizes things here." Shikaku said with his arms crossed, as he looked at the twins interested.

"Yes." The twins agreed and were silent as Inoichi and Choza flanked them while Shikaku led the way to the Hokage's office.

The strange group made their way into the Hokage's office and the Ino-Shika-Cho guarded the twins who had sat down on the couch that was pushed off to the side of the room. Akira wiped down his katana with a bored look on his face while Akito leaned against Akira's shoulder, eyes shut like he was sleeping.

Shikaku took notice of how relaxed the two were around the three of them; it showed immense trust even more so on Akito's part for actually falling asleep around them. They felt familiar to him, but he could not place the feeling and he didn't get a chance to get anything out of the two as the doors opened and the Sandaime came in with Jiraiya and the elite jounin including the jounin senseis.

Akira elbowed Akito, whose eyes shot open and body tensed before his slitted eyes darted around the room and he relaxed seeing there was no threat.

"I guess you want some explanations Hokage-sama?" Akira asked, the two not making any move to get off the couch. Akito sighed, knowing this was going to be a real test to see if their story would hold up with every ninja in the room.

Chapter 13

"Everyone is calling you two the Red Demon Twins." The Sandaime started with amusement in his voice making Akira grin; he finally followed his parents in the line of nicknames. "I thank you for helping out during the invasion and for keeping our beautiful village safe." The Sandaime went on to say before he looked at the jounin senseis in the room.

"We heard that you helped out our teams Akira." Kurenai looked at the one with the braid, being able to tell the difference thanks to the reports Teams Gai, 8 and 7 gave.

"I couldn't let them die." Akira said honestly. Gai was beaming at him and Kakashi was inspecting him with a single critical eye.

"Thank you for saving our youthful students Akira-san!" Gai gave the redhead a thumbs up and Akira returned it with one of his own.

"Akito, you not only helped us out." Inoichi started at the nod he got from the Sandaime. "You also got glowing praise from our children and the children of the late Yondaime Kazekage. We thank you for saving them."

"I didn't do much, I just worked alongside all their powers." Akito said modestly as he took the compliment.

"Now that you have all buttered us up, why don't we get down to the real reason why we are here?" Akira looked at Hiruzen who nodded at the statement.

"You can imagine the questions we may have after you two appeared out of nowhere with details of Orochimaru's plans and having set plans of your own to counter them." The Sandaime started as he laced his fingers together, staring down the two redheads who looked unaffected. "However any questions of it being a ploy disappeared when you helped my ANBU squad successfully destroy Orochimaru and then went on to help the village against the invading force. Now we have other questions that need to be answered."

"Did you make sure every single scroll was burnt and not taken away to be studied at a later point?" Akito spoke up his eyes hardening at the mere idea of a ROOT member taking it to Danzo.

"I made sure to count and burn them all myself. Anko then came and reported that her curse seal that was linked to Orochimaru himself has vanished meaning that he is dead." The Sandaime assured the redhead who fell back against the couch looking relieved at the information.

"Good, if even one of the scrolls had fallen into the wrong hands. Orochimaru would have been able to return and who knows what other destruction would have followed behind that." Akito said.

"His hidden bases will need to be thoroughly destroyed after this is said and done." The redhead's voice taking on his ANBU commander tone out of reflex; he noticed Kakashi and Shikaku stiffen up out of habit.

"It will be done, but for now if you would be so kind to answer our questions?" Hiruzen asked in a grandfatherly way, but his voice had steel in it, reminding the newcomers that he was still dangerous.

"Fire away." Akira made a shooting motion with his thumb and index finger.

"You two are Akira and Akito Kazama." The Sandaime started and the duo nodded. "You say you are allies of Konoha, but you knew details of Orochimaru's plans before the invasion ever came to pass. How?"

"I shall start at the beginning, otherwise it would not make sense." Akira crossed his long legs on the couch to get comfortable. Akito grumbled as his twin's legs whacked him and edged away much to the amusement of the jounin in the room.

"Please go ahead." Hiruzen nodded his agreement.

"We do not belong to any village, we were born on the road and we grew up on the road. We passed through many different villages and were taught by many ninja in the ways of ninjutsu, taijutsu, kenjutsu, genjutsu, weapons and battle strategy. Our family has different blood and chakra than others do. We have blood of seers; we are able to see a certain amount of time into the future when it is needed. We heard of the chunin exams taking place in Konoha so we decided it would be interesting to come and see the village and the skills showcased… That is when we were shown a vision." Akira explained trailing off to let Akito take over, as he was not sure he could recount what happened to the Sandaime.

"Our vision was of Orochimaru invading Konoha with the Hidden Villages of Sound and Sand, killing the Yondaime Kazekage and using his face to influence Suna into attacking the Leaf. In the vision we saw, the Sound Four would erect a barrier and Orochimaru would reanimate the corpses of the Shodai and Nidaime Hokage and at the end of the battle the Sandaime Hokage would be dead." Akito said emotionlessly.

"Thus making this the first event in the Fourth Shinobi War that will destroy everyone and everything. We simply took out the Sound Four before the final round of the chunin exams and replaced them with henged shadow clones. So when the time came we could stop Orochimaru's plans in its tracks." Akira tacked on before the two redheads sat back and let the new information sink in.

The office was silent as each ninja processed the information in different ways.

"However thanks to your efforts, that… fate has been avoided." The Sandaime broke the silence.

"Yes, but as horrible as it is to say… your death opened the way for an amazing Godaime to step up…" Akira swallowed.

"Who?" Hiruzen asked curiously.

"Tsunade Senju." Akito informed them.

"Tsunade? Godaime?" Jiraiya gaped at the two redheads who just nodded.

"We have seen her do amazing things for the village." Akira said honestly. He wasn't even lying at this point; Tsunade was exactly what the village needed.

"I was thinking after everything that happened today, it is high time for me to retire." Hiruzen laughed, waving off looks he was getting from the others in the room.

"So… you believe us?" Akira couldn't help but let some of his emotions through in his words.

"Yes I do." The Sandaime nodded and slowly the others in the room agreed with him.

"Thank you." The two bowed their heads, smiles on their lips.

"Why don't you two go get some sleep, after all you two fought hard today." The Sandaime said kindly. "Kakashi will escort you two to a room here until arrangements can be made."

"Thank you, Lord Third." The redheads bowed as they pulled themselves off the couch and followed after Kakashi who was already heading out the door.

"Thank you Kakashi-san." Akira nodded his head at the silver-haired jounin.

"Maa, Kakashi is fine. I should be thanking you, part of that group you saved was my cute little genin team." Kakashi gave them an eye smile as he opened a door to a basic room that housed a desk and two twin beds.

"It was no problem." Akira rubbed his head laughing slightly, Kakashi blinked at the familiar gesture; Naruto and Minato did the exact same thing. This only served to make the Copy Nin more curious and now he had the perfect excuse to get to know the twins better.

"If it's not too much trouble could you two come and train with us? I think it would serve them well to see true teamwork in action." Kakashi asked. Akira blinked, taken back at the request.

"We would be honored Kakashi." Akito spoke up and Kakashi nodded his head and left the twins to their new room.

"Holy shit, that just happened!" Akira exclaimed as he fell onto a bed while Akito sat on the other one.

"We need to change back and get some solid rest. We can talk about all this later, I think we've done enough for now." Akito put his twin back on track.

"Right, right." Akira pulled himself off the bed and made a hand sign. Two shadow clones appeared beside the twins and the original duo quickly henged into birds and the duo flew out the open window.

The birds flew around the village and spotted their shadow clones working together a little bit away from the others as they helped to clear the streets of rubble. The birds let out high-pitched cooing and the two genin walked around the corner and out of sight of anyone. The birds landed and lifted their henges as the two genin puffed away and the original Naruto and Shikamaru staggered back as the shadow clones' memories hit them along with their exhaustion.

"Damn, I'm even more exhausted than before." Naruto groaned as the two went back to work.

"I feel like I could sleep for a solid month… Seems like Akira and Akito were a hit among the genin." Shikamaru whispered to the blond.

"Oh gods, I think Sakura and Ino have crushes on us, who would have thought. And Sasuke hates Akira, this should be a good time." Naruto laughed before he looked down at his hands and frowned as he noticed they were trembling. Naruto looked up at Shikamaru and saw the Nara was swaying dangerously, body shaking like a leaf.

"Shika!" Naruto took a step towards the swaying genin, but instead he found the world tilting on a slant.

"Whoa there!" A voice called out as arms wrapped around Naruto's waist, keeping him propped against the owner of the arms. Naruto glanced up and saw Asuma was heaving his student into his arms and the Nara had his eyes closed clearly having passed out. Naruto squirmed in the arms that held him trying to get to Shikamaru to make sure he was all right, but the arms just tightened.

"Relax Naru-chan, it's over." Kakashi's voice soothed the blond as he adjusted his hold on his student, shifting him so he was holding the blond the same way Asuma was holding Shikamaru.

"You two have been through a lot today, we'll bring you to Yoshino-chan." Kakashi nodded at Asuma.

"You have no idea." Naruto thought to himself as Kakashi and Asuma leapt roof-to-roof heading towards the Nara compound with their students in tow. Kakashi and Asuma kept glanced down at their charges as they traveled. Shikamaru was already out of it and Naruto tipped over the edge as the group landed by the front door of the Nara compound.

Asuma kicked at the door a couple of times and it flew open to reveal an upset Yoshino Nara waiting there.

"Oh gods! Are they okay? Bring them this way!" Yoshino hurried down the hall with the jounin trailing behind her. Yoshino opened the door to Shikamaru's room and went about readying the bed for the genin.

"They are just exhausted Yoshino-chan, nothing good food and bed rest won't cure." Asuma assured the woman as he placed Shikamaru down on the bed, removing the genin's shoes and grey blood-stained jacket. Kakashi laid Naruto next to the slumbering Nara, removing the blond's shoes and hitai-ate.

The two genin curled towards each other subconsciously, both sleeping peacefully. Naruto's hand moved slightly and curled protectively around Shikamaru's previously injured wrist as the two slept on.

"Tell me what happened out there right now." Yoshino turned on the two jounin the moment she slid the door shut.

Asuma and Kakashi took turns explaining what happened during the exams and the following invasion.

"I am glad they are safe." Yoshino sat down in a chair in the dining hall with a heavy sigh. "I'm restricting them to bed rest… again. Blasted troublemakers." She grumbled while Asuma laughed slightly and Kakashi gave an eye smile.

The trio startled suddenly when a muffled shout and a thud came from Shikamaru's room. The three raced towards the room and Asuma slid open the door before the three stopped to take in the scene before them.

Naruto was still on the bed, but he was now sitting up with his knees drawn up to his chest. His head was hanging down on his chest and his fingers were tightly gripping his blond locks while he shook and muttered to himself. Shikamaru was leaning heavily against the wall across from the bed with his long black hair hanging over his shoulders shielding his face. His whole body was shaking as well and his right hand was making the motion of flicking a lighter on and off- one that Asuma was very familiar with, but was confused as to why Shikamaru was mirroring the motion like he had been doing it all his life.

"Go." Yoshino pushed the two jounin knowing that this time she needed to step down gracefully as she left the senseis to deal with their students.

Kakashi sat on the bed in front of Naruto and ever so gently placed his hands on Naruto's own, pulling them out of the mess of blond hair.

"Naru-chan?" Kakashi whispered and was met with sky blue eyes so full of raw sorrow and sadness that it hurt Kakashi's heart just to see his it in the genin's eyes.

"Kashi-Nii-San?" Naruto whispered, his eyes widening.

"I'm right here Naru-chan." Kakashi said smoothly, internally wondering at the nickname and if Naruto knew of his connection to his parents. All thoughts fled his mind as he stiffened up when the blond genin reached out and traced his nose through the mask and swiftly lifted the forehead protector to reveal the long scar and the Sharingan. Naruto ran his fingertips down the scar before he smiled relieved, his eyes shut and he slumped against the wall behind the bed unconscious. Kakashi frowned, confused, but he tucked his genin back in bed and sat on the floor next to the sleeping blond to keep watch.

Asuma stood in front of Shikamaru and placed his hand over Shikamaru's moving one.

"Shikamaru, are you awake?" Asuma inquired.

"…Asuma?" Shikamaru's eyes turned upwards and Asuma swallowed at the sadness and heartbreak he saw in the narrow brown eyes. Suddenly Shikamaru's hands were patting down Asuma's stomach and the side of his bearded face, relief showed in his eyes as he slumped against the wall and slid down it.

"You're alive." Shikamaru whispered happily before his eyes closed and he slumped to the side, hands up by his face, his fingers curling up slightly, strands of black hair splayed over his face. Asuma blew out a puff of air confused before he picked up the slumbering preteen and placed him back on the bed beside the sleeping blond and the two jounin watched amazed as the two curled towards each other once more and their hands gripped the other's forearms protectively.

"What just happened?" Asuma looked at Kakashi who was still sitting by the side of the bed.

"I suppose the stress of the invasion today got to them… They must not have known if we were alive or not for the whole time they were fighting. They are only 12 and this was the first time they truly saw battle and death on this scale." Shikaku theorized from his place in the doorway, he had come in when the two jounin were tending to their genin.

"That makes sense." Asuma rubbed his neck, not making eye contact with Shikaku and Kakashi hummed his agreement to the Nara's theory.

"If you two have the time, Yoshino-chan is making some food." Shikaku offered before he walked out of view.

"We haven't eaten all day." Kakashi glanced at Naruto and Shikamaru once more before moving to follow the Nara; Asuma did the same before he followed the silver-haired jounin out of the room making sure to shut the door behind him.

A week has passed by and only now were Shikamaru and Naruto allowed to leave the compound to help out in the village. However it seemed for naught because thanks to the actions of the 'Red Demon Twins' there was minimal damage to the buildings in the village. Naruto walked along the streets with his head held high every time he heard a whisper about the Red Demon Twins, while Shikamaru had a proud smirk on his lips. Apparently the twin redheads had made quite the impression on the village and many were interested in seeing them again, none more so than the genin teams. On occasion people could spot two red blurs passing through the streets, Naruto and Shikamaru had ordered their shadow clones to appear in the village every once and a while as they both now had their Konoha headbands thanks to the Sandaime. Akira had his tied to his forehead under his red bangs and Akito had his sewn into his left upper arm sleeve much like Naruto and Shikamaru wore theirs.

The two genin knew that they had to tread more carefully around Shikaku from here on out. The older Nara seemed to be getting these knowing looks in his eyes whenever he spoke to the two or when Akira and Akito were brought up.

Chapter 14

Early one morning, the two genin were quietly discussing what they were going to do when Jiraiya came to get Naruto to bring Tsunade back to the village when two birds pecked at the window until Naruto stood up and let the birds in. The two birds then disappeared in a puff of smoke to show Akira and Akito Kazama.

"Kakashi wants us to come train with team 7 in two hours, we figured that you two would rather be present for it." Akito whispered and the two genin exchanged grins and the four of them made hand signs and their positions reversed. Now Naruto and Shikamaru were Akira and Akito once again while the shadow clones took the genins' places.

"See you at 9." Akira nodded at Naruto before the two redheads henged into birds again and flew off to the apartment the Sandaime set the Kazama twins up in once the clean-up of the village was complete.

Once inside the redheads dropped the henge and Akito walked into the kitchen, pulling his shoulder length hair up into his ponytail before he started on some breakfast for the two of them. Akira sat on the hardwood flooring with his legs crossed, placing a basic katana across his lap. He had left Raijin with his shadow clone self for the training he had today.

"What do you think we should work on with Team 7?" Akira asked as he polished his katana lovingly.

"Teamwork comes to mind." Akito retorted as he turned on the stove to heat up a frying pan.

"Ha-ha, other than the obvious." Akira rolled his eyes.

"We show them real teamwork and point out the flaws in theirs. We should get Sakura working on her taijutsu, if she had a basic understanding it would make Tsunade's job of teaching her a bit easier." Akito mused as he cracked open some eggs from the fridge and into the heated pan.

"I can train 'Naruto' in kenjutsu so he can have a good excuse to wield Raijin so well in the future." Akira used air quotes when referring to himself.

"What about Sasuke?" Akito asked, peering over his shoulder to see Akira screwing up his face.

"Maybe Kakashi can get him started on some more advanced Katon jutsus and work on his speed. I did notice that he was a bit slow when I saved them from the Oto Nin, but mainly we need to focus on his attitude and thankfully we can tell him what we think of him, his goals and his skills by pretending we had a friend just like him and we can tell him what happened to this 'friend' in the future." Akira slammed his open palm against the floor beside his thigh to give his point more impact.

"Hmm, so there is nothing in those plans that will make you feel better afterwards, huh?" Akito teased as he scrambled the large pan of eggs.

"No ulterior motive at all." Akira said innocently before he placed his polished and sharpened katana on the coffee table as he moved about the kitchen bringing out plates and re-heating some sausages.

The two ate in peace and were armed and ready at 9, surprised that Kakashi came on time when the silver-haired jounin knocked on the front door.

"I'll be damned." Akira huffed to himself as Akito opened the door to reveal the jounin.

"Yo." He raised a hand in greeting. "Are you two ready?"

"Yeah." The twins chorused and followed Kakashi out of the apartment complex they were living in.

"Thank you for doing this, but you may be regretting it by the end of the day." Kakashi said, his ever-present orange book out already.

"Why would we regret it?" Akira asked. The two redheads were subconsciously flanking the Copy Nin as they had done so many times in the future.

"My cute little genin… They are not exactly what you would call the ideal team… Like I said before, I think letting them see how teamwork actually works would be helpful." Kakashi scratched his eye as they came into view of the bridge where they could see Sasuke, Sakura and Naruto already lounging there. Akira smiled a bit seeing that Naruto had Raijin attached to his back- that would make things easier during their training.

"Kakashi-sensei, you are actually on time!" Sakura said in shock before she glanced at the two redheads beside him and her cheeks turned the color of her hair. Sasuke's eyes narrowed at the two newcomers, but interest was sparked within his onyx eyes.

"Akira? You're one of the 'guest instructors' Kakashi-sensei was talking about?" Naruto beamed at the twins. Akira smiled and placed his hand on Naruto's blond hair once again.

"That we are kit, today we are going to help Kakashi here train you." Akira agreed, trying not to think too hard about how he was Naruto in disguise while the version of himself in front of him was a shadow clone, but it was still him. His head hurt just from thinking up this plan in the first place much to Shikamaru/Akito's amusement.

"Akira and Akito Kazama, meet genin team 7: Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, and Sasuke Uchiha." Kakashi waved his free hand at each genin as he said their names. Akira waved cheerfully while Akito nodded slightly crossing his arms.

"Is it true that you sliced off the Snake Sannin's tongue?" Sakura asked in a small voice looking at Akira. "It was creepy." Akira deadpanned and Akito snorted at the answer.

"What makes you think we want you to train us?" Sasuke snapped. Akito heard Kakashi heave an almost silent sigh when the Uchiha spoke. The redhead noticed his twin's eyebrow twitch and then Akira became a red blur.

Suddenly Sasuke's arm was twisted harshly up behind his back and the dull side of Akira's katana was pressed tightly against the Uchiha's pale, exposed throat.

"It's not about what you want, it's about what you need if you are to survive in this world." Akira hissed before he released the raven-haired genin. The redhead went back to his spot flanking Kakashi.

"We are here because we were asked to be, but we did not have to agree. We are going to help you all grow stronger in your own ways and most of all you three will learn teamwork." Akito said in his ANBU commander tone of voice, smirking as Sakura and Naruto straightened their backs and met his gaze head on. Sasuke was rubbing his wrist with a scowl etched on his face as he glared hatefully at Akira.

"Alright, go warm up and then we will hold spars." Akira ordered, with Kakashi nodding along the three genin went off towards training ground 7 and started to warm up.

"Was that too much?" Akira looked at Kakashi.

"No, Sasuke needed to be put in his place…" Kakashi rubbed his neck. "You two aren't going to go easy on them are you?"

"Now where would the fun in that be?" Akira asked innocently before he grabbed Akito by his wrist, dragging him to the training ground to warm up as well.

"Alright." Akira clapped his hands together looking down at the three genin. "My bro and I are going to spar first." He smiled when he heard a groan of complaint from Naruto at those words.

"I want you each to pay close attention." Akito made strong eye contact with each genin before the twins walked a bit away from the gathered team 7 and then a few feet away from each other.

"Taijutsu and kenjutsu only, okay bro?" Akira called out and Akito nodded. He knew what Akira was thinking, their usual fighting style would be a dead give away and they didn't want to use any elemental jutsus just yet, also Sasuke and Kakashi's Sharingan made them feel unnerved using any jutsus they had created.

"Begin!" Kakashi called out after the two redheads looked at him expectantly. The genin were expecting two blurs of red to appear where the twins had stood, but they were mistaken. Akira and Akito clearly had slowed down their moves so the genin could watch.

Akira lashed out with a kick from his right foot, pivoting on his left. Akito blocked with his forearm before twisting his wrist, latching his fingers on Akira's ankle. With his arm he pushed the heel of his hand into his twin's chest while releasing Akira's ankle; his brother skidded back thanks to the force. Akira grinned like the fox he was and launched forward and the two exchanged blows, each harder and better executed than the last. The genin watched in awe as the two slowly became red blurs; Sasuke had his Sharingan on to keep up with their speed.

"Let's take it up a notch shall we bro?" Akira tilted his head to the side as the two stood across from each other, neither looking bothered by the fight they just had.

"So kind of you to ask, I was getting rather bored with our warm up." Akito agreed and as he pulled on his trench knives and while Akira pulled out his katana.

"That was a warm up?" Sakura whispered in awe while Naruto bounced on his heels, his eyes trained on the two redheads.

With nothing, but a smirk the two launched at each other. The blurs paused mid-air to show that Akito was bearing down on Akira from above with his trench knives pushing down on the katana. The twin's faces were taut with concentration, but their eyes were alight with excitement. The two moved once again and the next time they could be spotted at normal speed their positions were reversed. Akira had his katana blade inches away from his twin's neck, but not touching the skin as Akito had maneuvered the long ends of his trench knives between the blade and his throat. The two disappeared in blurs of red before they stopped and a small dust cloud flew out from around their feet. Akira had his katana pressed to Akito's jugular while Akito had both his knives pressed to either side of Akira's neck. The two locked eyes before without a sound the two jumped back and bowed to the other.

"Good spar bro." Akira grinned as he placed his katana back on his waist.

"It was a good work out actually." Akito agreed as he re-attached his trench knives to his belt.

"That was rather impressive handling of your weapons." Kakashi said as team 7 approached the two redheads. "I would very much like to see Akito take on Asuma with his trench knives and I'm sure Hayate would like to duel you Akira."

"That would be the day." Akira muttered to himself, Akito elbowed him.

"One thing at a time Kakashi." Akito smiled. "Right now we are going to train your students. So, what did you three learn from our fight?"

"You're really fast." Naruto deadpanned.

"Well that is true." Akito laughed while Akira beamed at the blond. "Sakura?"

"Well… Akito, you seem to make sure your right shoulder and left hip were guarded well while Akira seemed to make sure no blows hit just above his heart. You both seemed to know this and made sure to avoid hitting those areas if at all possible." Sakura observed.

"Brilliant Sakura." Akira clapped his hands together with a grin as she flushed and smiled happily back at him.

"You are right, those places are tender for us as they house scars and pain from near fatal wounds. If you have a weakness like this you need to adjust your fighting around it so the enemy cannot take advantage of it." Akira lectured, feeling like Iruka-sensei.

"What happened?" Sakura whispered softly. Akira and Akito exchanged looks before Akira slowly nodded his head.

"I had a… friend once… He betrayed many others and myself and when I tried to stop him, we fought… He used an attack his sensei taught him and pierced me just above my heart. Any lower and I would have been dead, it is still to this day a sore spot for me." Akira told his tale sadly, working off his cloak and shirt to show the genin the scar his Sasuke had gifted him with, he made sure to hide his ANBU tattoo and the seal.

"That's horrible!" Sakura gasped, covering her mouth.

"How could your friend do that to you?" Naruto asked outraged, even Kakashi's visible eye was filled with anger.

"What do you think of it Sasuke?" Akito asked the Uchiha sternly, the raven-haired genin had his eyes trained on the scar with wide eyes.

"Why did your friend leave?" Sasuke asked the redhead who was pulling his shirt and cloak back on.

"He wanted more power to avenge his fallen family and to kill the one who slaughtered them." Akira stated, staring down the Uchiha who shifted under the gaze.

"What happened to him?" Sasuke asked, swallowing hard.

"There was a fight, he killed the one who he went to for power and managed to finally kill the one who killed his family, but in the end he fell into madness and became worse than the man he killed himself… In the end I was forced to kill him. People think they need power to achieve their goals, but in the end it will only bring their own demise." Akira said emotionlessly.

A deafening silence followed those words.

"I hope that none of you will follow down that path." Akira cleared his throat, looking at each of them letting his eyes linger on Sasuke longer than the others.

"Well my story isn't as dramatic and heart wrenching as my brother's…" Akito spoke up, bringing the attention onto him to take the looks away from his brother who he knew needed the break.

"It happened during a battle, my best friend died protecting a fallen ally's body. The enemy used a jutsu that allowed him to use corpses like puppets and I had to fight off my best friend's dead body, leaving me with a scar from my right shoulder down to my left hip." Akito unlike Akira didn't remove his clothes knowing that if he did there was no way he could hide his ANBU tattoo and other scars.

"That's awful!" Sakura covered her mouth, her eyes glassy. Naruto had his head down and fists clenched. Kakashi had his visible eye closed tightly and Sasuke wouldn't meet anyone's eyes.

"Enough of our sob stories. Now time for some training! We want you three to take turns sparring with each other and then we will go from there." Akira clapped his hands loudly to refocus the attention. "Only weapons and taijutsu!"

The redhead twins stood with Kakashi while Sakura and Naruto stepped up first and started to spar their best without using ninjutsu.

"When did they happen?" Kakashi asked quietly, watching the twins out of the corner of his eye while making it look like he was focused on his genin.

"Mine happened when I was 13." Akira said honestly.

"16." Akito said shortly as he leaned against a nearby tree. He could see the start of Sakura's power. It was hidden, but it was there. He had been in the village to see her transformation and he knew what to look for. However, the sooner Tsunade got to the village the better.

"13… Only a year older than my cute little genin…" Kakashi muttered, mainly to himself.

"Good fight you two." Akito pushed off his tree, walking towards the two genin. Naruto had taken Sakura down and the pink-haired girl looked annoyed and disappointed in herself.

"Sakura, you have rather impressive chakra control and if you strengthen your taijutsu and then add in your chakra you will become a force to be reckoned with." Akito told the only girl on the training field as he pulled out a scroll and handed it to her. "Inside you will find taijutsu stances and the theory of how to incorporate your chakra. I also think you should seriously consider learning medical ninjutsu as well, your chakra control is perfect and I have a feeling you would excel in that."

"Wow, thank you Akito-sama! I will do my best and I will consider your words." Sakura looked pleased at his praise and his encouragement if not intrigued about his words about her excelling in medical ninjutsu.

"Now Naruto, I think Akira would be better suited to train you. He is a master of kenjutsu and I bet you want to learn how to use your own katana." Akito jerked his chin at Raijin, which Naruto had left by a nearby tree, unsure as to how to use it.

"Come on Naruto, let's get training!" Akira clapped his hands together and the blond scurried over to the second redhead and the two went off to train from the rest of the team.

"Sasuke I want you to spar against me." Akito called over. The raven-haired genin nodded. Sakura moved out of the way, intently studying the scroll as she sat down by Kakashi.

"This is an anything-goes spar, show me your best." Akito stated as Sasuke dropped into an Uchiha clan stance while the redhead just stood there.

"Begin!" Kakashi called out and lifted up his hitai-ate to view the battle with his Sharingan having a feeling he would need it as from the look in Akito's eyes the redhead was not going to go easy on the Uchiha.

Sasuke rushed at Akito, kunai in hand and ready to strike. Akito brought up his hand and deflected the blow by twisting his wrist around the handle of the weapon and latching onto Sasuke's wrist and twisted it violently making the genin drop the weapon. Sasuke tried to recover by giving the redhead a high kick with his right foot; Akito brought up his other arm and blocked the kick. Akito twisted his body and using his momentum and advantage tossed the raven-haired genin across the clearing and into a tree trunk. Sasuke grunted as he made contact with the trunk and he staggered up onto his feet, glaring at the redhead.

"Want to give up?" Akito questioned with a smirk.

"Never." Sasuke grunted and quickly made hand signs. "Katon: Phoenix Flower Jutsu."

Akito tensed and leapt up into the air, his cloak billowing out around him and he hovered in the air as the Katon jutsu flew below him out of his range.

Sasuke glared up at the hovering redhead and growled under his breath and wrapped his hand around his opposite wrist and it started to crackle with chakra and the sound of birds chirping filled the air as Sasuke formed a chidori. He leapt up into the sky towards the redhead and extended his hand.

"Raiton: Chidori!" Sasuke cried out. Akito dropped down out of range; he moved underneath the attack and sank his fist into Sasuke's stomach. Sasuke coughed as his chakra faded out, Akito pushed more strength into his fist and used it to hit Sasuke down towards the ground. Akito stayed hovering in the air as he watched Sasuke create a small crater in the training ground below.

Akito landed back on the ground and peered down into the crater to see Sasuke still conscious, but breathing heavily.

"Winner: Akito Kazama." Kakashi announced before he stood beside the redhead as Sasuke pulled himself out of the crater he created. The Uchiha hissed under his breath as he nursed his wounds as Akito stood by indifferently with Kakashi by his side. On the inside Akito was laughing, feeling happy that he finally got to beat up Sasuke.

"Good match bro!" Akira sauntered over with Naruto in tow, both looking extremely pleased about something.

"I think we should break for lunch and then the teamwork training can begin." Sakura had tucked the scroll away and had joined their group, eyeing Sasuke worriedly as she had seen the fall he took.

"We should go to Ichiraku's! It has the best ramen ever!" Naruto begged excitedly. "Can we go Kakashi-sensei, can we?"

"If Akira and Akito don't mind…" Kakashi said slowly.

"No way, it's been ages since I've had good ramen and if it's as good as Naruto says then I have to try it." Akira said just as excitedly while Akito rolled his eyes as the blond and redhead walked out of the training grounds towards Ichiraku's, Sakura trailing behind them having a 'thinking' face on while Akito walked beside Kakashi, Sasuke had just growled at them and went in the opposite way of the group.

"Does that happen a lot?" Akira asked Kakashi quietly as the group entered Ichiraku's, Naruto telling Ayame and Teuchi about Akira and Akito and their training so far with the father daughter pair smiling brightly at their favorite customer as he rambled on happily.

"More than it should." Kakashi admitted just as quietly as he settled in a seat next to Akira with Akito on his brother's other side. The subject was dropped as they ordered their ramen. Akito rolled his eyes as both Naruto and Akira dug into the food with gusto looking much like brothers. Sakura was eating her ramen, every so often whacking Naruto on the head telling him off for his bad manners while Kakashi just watched with happiness visible in his one eye.

"Ah, Naruto-kun, Sakura-chan, Kakashi-san!" Iruka said pleasantly surprised as he entered the restaurant coming across the group.

"Iruka-sensei!" Both Naruto and Sakura beamed at their old sensei while Kakashi's head snapped around to give the chunin an eye smile. Akira and Akito caught each other's eyes and smirked at the two senseis behind their backs.

"Maa, why don't you join us Iruka-sensei?" Kakashi questioned pulling over an empty chair for the chunin who blushed across his scar as he slid into the seat after glancing at the others at the table who nodded encouragingly.

"Thank you, Kakashi-sensei." Iruka smiled at the silver-haired jounin who slid back in his own seat.

"Maa, I told you to call me Kakashi." Kakashi scratched his hair.

"Mmhmm." Akira hummed lowly to Akito who smirked, biting back a snort.

"Iruka-sensei this is Akira and Akito Kazama! They helped us out during the invasion and are training us today!" Naruto said excitedly, introducing the two redheads.

"It's nice to meet you. I'm Iruka Umino, I was Naruto and Sakura's sensei back in the academy." Iruka inclined his head to the twins.

"Nice to meet you Iruka-sensei!" Akira smiled brightly at his older brother.

"Have you heard anything about the results of the chunin exams?" Iruka asked Kakashi and Naruto.

"Nothing yet, I believe Lord Third is going to make a decision when the aftermath is sorted out." Kakashi said, stroking his masked chin. "I really want to know if we just did all that fighting for nothing or not." Naruto complained and was whacked by his pink-haired teammate while both the jounin shook their heads in amusement. Akira just patted Naruto on the shoulder in sympathy while Akito grinned at Sakura who smiled back feeling more confident around the two redhead nin.

"I'm sure the Sandaime will tell people soon, don't worry too much about it kit." Akira patted Naruto on the head in a comforting way.

The group spend the rest of the lunch break discussing random things, all the while Iruka and Kakashi exchanging looks with Akira and Akito 'mmhmm'ing each time gaining a confused look from Naruto and a blush plus a giggle from Sakura as she was catching onto what was happening between the two senseis.

With a fond farewell to Iruka the group headed back to the training ground to see Sasuke waiting there for them looking less grumpy than before and he gave Akito a small nod of acceptance and Akito sent one back. This was a good first step for Sasuke not defecting; also having taken Orochimaru and Kabuto out was another pretty big step as well.

"Alright so now we are going to work on your teamwork. Akito, would you do the honors?" Akira glances at his twin who nodded with a small smirk on his lips.

"With pleasure dear brother. Doton: Labyrinth." Akito slammed both his hands onto the ground, a pulse was sent out from his palms and the group watched as large slabs of rock and packed dirt rose up and formed an intricate pattern.

"Whoa." Naruto gasped as he craned his neck upwards to see the true height of the maze.

"This is your test, my bro and I are going to be inside the labyrinth. Your mission is to find us and we will be doing our best to evade you three." Akira explained the test, with nods to confirm they understood the redheaded twins floated up into the air and disappeared into the maze. Kakashi leapt up onto the tallest tree in the clearing to oversee his genin, once inside the maze the twins made shadow clones and henged into birds and flew back out just as team 7 entered the maze. The two changed back to their human forms and settled down by the base of the tree Kakashi was perched on. He gave them an amused look before paying attention to his team, Akito leaned back, pillowing his head on his hands and closed his eyes ready for a nap. Akira crossed his legs and tried to focus on the nature around him, five minutes into the test his eyebrow twitched as Jiraiya's chakra came closer to the training area. He opened his eyes and squinted at the white-haired Sannin who raised a hand in greeting to Kakashi. Jiraiya made his way over to where the twins were sitting and sat beside Akira.

"Afternoon Akira." Jiraiya said cheerfully.

"Jiraiya-sama." Akira said respectfully, it took a lot of effort not to call him Ero-Sennin.

"So seer blood huh?" Jiraiya said quietly watching the clouds gently move across the sky.

"Yes, I take it you have a question you wish to know an answer for?" Akira eyed Jiraiya who looked nervous about the answer he was going to get for the question on his mind.

"I do…" Jiraiya trailed off and Akira braced himself for a perverted question or something to do with Tsunade, what he got instead surprised him.

"Naruto… Does he make it?" Jiraiya asked softly, Akira blinked. He had not been expecting that.

"What do you mean?" Akira said slowly, noticing that Akito shifted a bit to show he too was listening.

"You said there was a war coming… I don't care about myself, I just need to know if he makes it." Jiraiya said, eyeing the maze clearing tracking Naruto's chakra within it.

"…He makes it, but you shouldn't be so careless with your own life. If you died he would be devastated and there would be a hole in his chest that would never fully heal." Akira said in a somber tone and Jiraiya seemed to take this in for consideration as he sat in silence for a while. Akira took a steadying breath as he closed his eyes and focused on his breathing.

"You're right." Jiraiya said after a while, the team still not out of the maze yet. "Naruto has been alone for his whole life and I refuse to leave him alone any longer. I will not die I will live. For my godson." The Sannin said with conviction and Akira felt a genuine smile spread on his lips.

"Keep that in mind and what we have foreseen for your fate will never come to pass." Akira said sternly, placing his hand on Jiraiya's shoulder as the Toad Sage smiled at the redhead.

"I will, thank you." Jiraiya nodded his head seriously. "Any other advice you have for me?"

"Naruto is a good kid and he deserves a family, even if they are just stories." Akito spoke up with one eye opening slightly.

"I'm going to take Naruto with me to bring Tsunade back, I'm guessing that you already know this. I'll tell him some stories then I swear." Jiraiya said mostly to himself.

"Good and maybe if you give him a better name he won't call you Ero-Sennin anymore." Akito snickered at the eyebrow twitch the nickname got.

"That is a brilliant idea Akito!" Jiraiya looked relieved by the mere idea of not having to be called that nickname any longer. He started to mutter new ideas for nicknames under his breath as the walls of the maze started to shake and shatter. It revealed all three members of team 7 surrounding the shadow clones of Akira and Akito, the two of whom disappeared in a puff of smoke. Akira and Akito stood up as the exhausted, but pleased looking team approached them as Kakashi dropped down from the tree.

"Well, well." Akira placed his hands on his hips as he glared down the trio. "Congrats! You found us together as a team! Looks like you each learned something today!" His face turned cheery and he beamed happily at the trio. Each genin brightened up at the words and the nod of approval Akito tacked onto the end of Akira's words and Kakashi giving them an eye smile.

"Hiya Ero-Sennin!" Naruto waved cheerfully at the Toad Sage whose eyebrow twitched as the muttering of new nickname ideas increased.

"Naruto, we are going to find a certain blonde tomorrow. So be packed and at the front gates at 8am." Jiraiya ordered Naruto; patting the genin on his head while the blond nodded his head in excitement.

"That's all we have for the day." Akira looked at Kakashi.

"Then training for today is done, now what do you say to Akira and Akito?" Kakashi looked at his students.

"Thank you!" Sakura and Naruto bowed respectfully while Sasuke gave his usual 'hn', but he did incline his head in respect… well as much respect Sasuke gave anyone.

"Our pleasure!" Akira assured the group.

"Come on Akira, I want to sleep before you force me to cook." Akito waved at the group of shinobi in front of them before grabbing Akira by the back of his cloak and dragged his twin off much to the amusement of the group.

Chapter 15

"So I've been wrangled into training with team 8 today while you are off bringing Lady Tsunade back." Shikamaru grumbled as he ran his fingers through a difficult knot in his black hair as he watched Naruto pack for the trip to the nearby town.

"Have fun with that, what was Akira's excuse for not being there?" Naruto asked amused as he double-checked he had everything as he knew he was going to run in with Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki and would have to hold his own before Jiraiya showed up and he would have to protect Sasuke if he still showed up.

"He's helping out by covering Iruka-sensei in the Mission Room, apparently Iruka-sensei is unable to come into work today and Kakashi already called off team 7's training due to you being gone. I think we both know why Iruka-sensei isn't going into work today." Shikamaru finished with a knowing smirk while Naruto laughed loudly.

"Glad he's just a shadow clone, but still, I have to deal with those memories later. Ugh, Mission Room duty is the worst!" Naruto complained as he tied his hitai-ate around his forehead and looked at his new clothing that Jiraiya had sent for him late last night.

Naruto had literally burned his orange jumpsuit in a ball of fire and did a little dance around the small bonfire, dragging Shikamaru along for the ride and it amused Chiyo-hime and Yoshino to no end.

Naruto decided he would wait till he was 16 to get his normal outfit. In the meantime, he was glad to be wearing a present from his godfather and no money came from his precious froggy wallet. Naruto was wearing standard black shinobi pants and sandals with dull orange wraps visible between the top of his sandals and the cuffs of his pants, his holster still on his usual leg with white wraps. More orange wrappings were tied around his wrists; he had a black short-sleeved shirt underneath an orange sleeveless hooded jacket. His hitai-ate was sewn onto black fabric with the ties long, just like they were in their future.

"Finally, the kill me orange jumpsuit is gone." Shikamaru smirked as he pulled his now knot-free hair up into his usual ponytail.

"I know right! I really like the wraps, I accidently put some chakra into them and they stabilized it so check this out!" Naruto bounced on his heels excitedly as he threw his right arm up and Shikamaru watched with raised eyebrows as red-orange chakra chains flew out, the kunai end hitting the potted plant in the corner of the room. It then flew back up and wrapped around the fabric on Naruto's wrist before disappearing all together. "Your Uzumaki chakra chains! You got them back, that's awesome and rather useful." Shikamaru said in a low voice. "Do you think Jiraiya knows about the wraps and the chains?"

"I think he may be leading up to it, I honestly have no idea what is going to happen on this trip to get Tsunade. I made sure to send a shadow clone away from the village flaring its chakra so Itachi and Kisame will not come to the village to find me so they won't hurt Kakashi or anyone else. Also, Sasuke might not come after us again as Itachi was never in the village to start with." Naruto explained quietly while grabbing his backpack.

"Do you want me to back you up?" Shikamaru questioned, worry in his voice.

"No, I'll be fine. I can handle Itachi and Kisame, even more so now." Naruto placed his hands on Shikamaru's shoulders looking his best friend dead in the eyes. "You know I can handle myself and now that I have my chains back I can definitely deal with them now." Naruto gave a foxy smile and Shikamaru nodded slowly.

"If anything goes wrong, I don't give a damn about our covers and secrets. Grab Jiraiya and hiraishin out of there and back to our safe point." Shikamaru ordered sternly.

"Yessir, Commander-sama." Naruto said cheekily before he ducked out of the way of Shikamaru's oncoming fist. "Well I'm off! I'll be back with Ero-Sennin and Baa-chan soon!"

Naruto waved to Shikamaru as the blond left the room to head to the front gates to meet Jiraiya. Shikamaru sighed as he fell back onto his bed and thought up a plan for team 8 while fending off Kurenai and Akamaru's nose. This was all way too troublesome for the Nara, but it was either that or he would have to sit around the compound and face his father in shogi again and for once he didn't want that.

"Where are you going Ero-Sennin?" Naruto looked up from his spot on one of the two beds in the inn the duo had stopped in on their way to find Tsunade. As he predicted Itachi and Kisame avoided Konoha altogether (the Sandaime was alive and Orochimaru taken care of so there was no reason to remind people Itachi was still alive and watching) and followed their trail instead, and he didn't sense any of Sasuke's chakra nearby so two things had changed so far. This however was a good thing and Naruto was more than ready to face the two Akatsuki members down alone as Jiraiya was off to do whatever he was doing before he came back to save his godson.

"I have something I need to take care of, stay here and you'll be fine Naru-chan!" Jiraiya ruffled the blond hair fondly, remembering doing the same thing to Minato when he was this age.

"I'm going to kill Kakashi-sensei for this." Naruto grumbled. "First Yoshino-chan and now Ero-Sennin."

Jiraiya just laughed as he retracted his hand. "I'll tell you all about Kakashi when he was your age, he was practically Minato's son so that makes him your Nii-San." Jiraiya smirked at the very Kushina look Naruto got on his face and he swore that if Naruto had longer and red hair it would look just like her's did when she got mad or got a prank idea.

"He's so going to get it." Naruto grumbled before he tossed himself onto his bed, throwing his right forearm over his eyes. "Don't be too long okay? I have a weird feeling about this place."

"I will, now get some sleep. We have a long day tomorrow." Jiraiya took Naruto's weird feeling into account before he patted Naruto's foot and left the room.

Naruto sat up and crossed his legs, he focused and let two chakra chains appear, both wrapped around his wrists and spread out in a circle around him. He sat like this for a good 10 minutes before they started to tremble and jerk around. Naruto let them disappear and slid off the bed and readied himself as Itachi and Kisame were just down the hall from his room.

"Be ready, they have yet to get even one jinchūriki as the others have listened to their Bijuu and were on high alert or have gone to Killer B. Don't give too much away, but don't let them catch you." Kurama reported to the blond who was approaching the door now, letting the chains disappear for the time being.

"I don't plan on it, if I can get Kisame out of the way I can tell Itachi I know the truth and maybe give him something to think about. He deserves to be able to live his own life back with Sasuke in the village if he wishes." Naruto thought back as he opened the door and leaned against the doorframe and looked unimpressed at the two Akatsuki members who were only a few feet away.

"Is there a reason you two are following me?" Naruto asked, doing his best to sound bored.

"Naruto Uzumaki." Kisame intoned eyeing the blond 12-year-old unimpressed. Naruto eyed the blue skin and gills as he stared back with the same unimpressed look.

"That would be me, can I help you?" Naruto asked, eyeing Itachi with a knowing look.

"Come with us quietly or else you will get hurt." Kisame ordered and Naruto pushed off the doorframe and stood his ground.

"I don't think so." Naruto flicked his wrists and his chains flew out at a super sonic speed and wrapped themselves around Kisame tightly and pinned him to the opposite wall. "Now be a good fishy and stay there while I talk with your partner."

Kisame struggled against the chakra chains, but to his dismay they tightened and started to absorb his chakra instead as Itachi eyed the blond with interest.

"Damn Shikamaru was right, my chains are awesome." Naruto laughed before he started to use ANBU hand signs knowing Itachi would understand.

"I know the truth about the Uchiha Slaughter and I know what you did to protect the village and Sasuke. I also know what you are planning for Sasuke when he gets strong enough, but know that it will not end well for him, the village or the world." Naruto signed and watched from the corner of his eye as Itachi took in the message and his eyes widened an inch before he signed back.

"Who told you this?"

"I will explain everything in the near future. Just know that jinchūriki hunting and being part of the Akatsuki is not the way to bring peace to the world, something we both desperately want." Naruto finished signing just as the wall a few feet down from Itachi exploded and Jiraiya made his usual flashy entrance, but he stopped short when he saw Itachi just standing there and Kisame wrapped tightly in glowing red-orange chakra chains coming from his godson.

"…Did I miss something?" Jiraiya dropped down next to his godson, making sure to stand between Naruto and Itachi.

"Nothing much really, but look at these wicked chains I just figured out how to use!" Naruto grinned excitedly and Jiraiya took in the glowing chakra chains and the annoyed looking Kisame.

"Naruto, you just captured Kisame Hoshigaki, one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist and an Akatsuki member." Jiraiya kept one eye on Itachi, but the Uchiha didn't seem to even care about his captured teammate, he was just studying Naruto with an interested look on the visible part of his face.

"Uh-huh… So what should we do with him?" Naruto tilted his head to the side.

"It depends on Itachi Uchiha I guess." Jiraiya dropped into a fighting stance.

"Yo, fishy, I got a proposal for you." Naruto approached Kisame ignoring Jiraiya's calls to stay back and wary gazes he was shooting Itachi who was just standing by waiting to see what the genin would do next.

"What do you want brat?" Kisame growled, slouched against the wall he was pinned to by Naruto's chains.

"Do you agree with the plans the Akatsuki have or are you just hanging around because you like partnering with Itachi?" Naruto questioned, consciously using his Kage voice on the swordsman.

"Meh, being partners with Itachi is interesting and I've got nothing better to do." Kisame said honestly after a moment of thought.

"Thought as much, well my proposal is as follows fishy." Naruto pulled out a seal from his pack and held it up, ignoring the intake of breath from Jiraiya.

"What is that supposed to be?" Kisame eyed it suspiciously.

"It's a seal genius." Naruto snarked. Kisame growled lowly. "It's one that is used throughout Jiraiya's spy network, the proposal is this. You and Itachi stay in the Akatsuki and do what you want to do under their orders and if something big is being planned, use this seal and it will transfer the information to Jiraiya."

Naruto left out the part about where it would come to him and Shikamaru first, but semantics.

"Just keep an eye on Itachi, make sure he doesn't overuse his eyes and doesn't fall ill, avoid Konoha and use the seal. That's all I'm asking here and in return I'll let you live." Naruto tightened the chakra chains to prove his point. "One more flick of my wrist and all your chakra will be absorbed and your weak fishy body will be torn to shreds… So do we have a deal?"

The two stared each other down for a while before Kisame sighed. "Fine you brat, we have a deal, now get these damn chains off of me."

"Pleasure doing business with you Kisame." Naruto smirked and slapped the seal onto Kisame's upper arm. It sunk past the cloak and into his skin before turning the same color as Kisame's skin. Naruto turned to Itachi who silently pulled down his collar knowing Naruto was going to ask him the same thing and Naruto placed the seal on the Uchiha. "Now off you go, just tell your boss that Jiraiya interfered." Naruto retracted his chains and Kisame stumbled slightly over to Itachi.

"Let's go." Itachi eyed Naruto once more who just waved cheerfully at his new informants as the two walked away leaving a pleased Naruto and a stunned Jiraiya in their wake.

"What was that?" Jiraiya rounded on his blond godson.

"I did say I had a weird feeling about this place Ero-Sennin." was all Naruto said before he went back into the room and fell onto the bed, falling asleep as his 12-year-old body wasn't used to upholding his chains for such a long period of time.

"Minato, Kushina you two made one interesting kid… Minato you would be proud of how he handled himself, like a true Hokage… Hell, I'm proud, if confused." Jiraiya muttered as he leaned against the headboard of Naruto's bed and gently ran his fingers through Naruto's blond hair as the genin slept on.

Akito dangled his feet off the head of the Yondaime Hokage as he waited for team 8 to come back from their laps around the village. He had opted for different clothes this time around, less combat and more standard. He had his hair down for once; he wore black shinobi pants, sandals and a long sleeved shirt with a green flak jacket unzipped over it. He had his katana and trench knives on him as he never went anywhere without them out of habit. He tried hard not to think about Naruto being out of the village with Jiraiya, as he knew his Hokage could handle himself, but he still felt uneasy for not being by his side.

As he watched the village go on with its daily life he felt a rock settle in the pit of his stomach, his instincts telling him something rotten was growing and spreading. He knew what that rottenness was, it was in the form of Danzo and ROOT, but he couldn't make a move just yet. He knew they needed backing from Tsunade and a good cause to go and kick Danzo's ass. He knew they had to stop the Akatsuki first before they could make any real progress on Danzo and hopefully rehabilitate his ROOT members including Sai.

"Sorry for making you wait for us Akito-kun!" Kurenai called as team 8 and surprisingly team 10 came puffing up, Shikamaru alongside Ino and Choji.

"It's fine, if I had known I was going to train two teams I would have dragged Akira out of the Mission Room." Akito smirked and Kurenai giggled.

"Sorry Akito-kun, I ran into Asuma and his team. Once they heard you were training us they wouldn't take no for an answer." Kurenai explained and Akito waved his hand dismissively.

"It's fine, this could work well actually." Akito hummed as he mentally rewrote the lesson plan to incorporate team 10.

"Is it true Akito-san?" Ino spoke up, eyeing the redhead with a glint in her eye- one that Akito knew from being around the blond for so long meant she was eyeing him up and making mental notes. "That you defeated Sasuke-kun?"

"I heard you punched him so hard that when he hit the ground he left a crater!" Kiba snickered as Akamaru yipped before trotting over to Akito. Sniffing at him, his eyes darted over to Shikamaru and his nose twitched. Akito knelt down and started to scratch Akamaru behind his ears just how he liked it. Akamaru licked his hand in understanding.

"Well, I won our spar if that is what you are asking." Akito said simply.

"Wicked." Kiba bared his fangs as he smiled, eyeing Akamaru who was almost purring as Akito scratched him.

"Alright so here is the lesson for today. I'm going to split you six into three teams of two. Ino and Shino, Hinata and Choji, and finally Kiba, Akamaru, and Shikamaru." Akito stood up and said after getting nods from both Kurenai and Asuma explained the first part of his lesson plan. There was of course some outrage at the pairings, but they fell silent when Akito raised his right hand in front of him. "Each pair is assigned some D-rank missions for the day, your objective is to learn how to adapt and grow as a person and as a team as you never know when you will have to partner with someone unexpected." Akito said, mentally he added that the Konoha 12 would become a flawless ANBU team in the future and wanted to push them down the right path early on. Akito handed each pair a few scrolls and sent them on their way.

"Do you have any reasoning behind the pairings Akito-kun?" Kurenai asked as she and Asuma subconsciously flanked the redhead.

"Akito, please." Akito said absently before he dropped back down into his previous spot overlooking the village and both the jounin sat beside him. Kurenai and Asuma nodded at his words and waited in silence for him to continue.

"I do have some reasons behind the pairings. Shino is too withdrawn, Ino is the opposite and she seems to have a tendency to bring out someone's inner self while Shino will be able to keep her calm. Hinata and Choji both have the same self-confidence issues, but have it in themselves to become stronger and flourish in their own ways. As they are paired up they will have to bring out their inner strength to finish the missions. Finally I put Kiba and Akamaru with Shikamaru because again they are opposites. Shikamaru is calm and collected while Kiba is hyper and impulsive, if anyone can calm Kiba down it is Shikamaru." Akito finished his explanation, noticing the stunned looks he was getting from the jounin.

"That is very sound reasoning Akito." Asuma pulled out a cigarette and offered one to Akito who gladly took one. Kurenai glared harshly at the two and in the end the two had to put the cigarettes out or face her wrath. Akito smiled slightly bitterly at the scene he was taking part in, this is how it should have been in his future. This was going to happen in the future if he and Naruto had anything to say about it.

Chapter 16

"Come on! Why won't you tell me?" Jiraiya needled his godson as they walked into Tanzaku Town where Jiraiya heard Tsunade was located.

"I have to have some secrets Ero-Sennin." Naruto said cheekily. "Now are we going to find Tsunade or not?"

"Yeah, yeah come on brat I heard she is in a bar somewhere in this town." Jiraiya huffed, but was not done with this topic just yet. Naruto just smiled at the idea of meeting Baa-chan once again and maybe this time finally figuring out what family connection they shared.

The two wandered about, stopping to ask people every so often if they knew where she was. Finally they approached the right bar.

"Okay brat, I should go in first as she was my old teammate." Jiraiya looked down at the blond genin.

"I don't think so! I'm coming in with you!" Naruto crossed his arms stubbornly. The two had a stare down before Jiraiya's shoulders slumped as he blew out a puff of air.

"Fine, just let me do the talking alright?" Jiraiya relented, he was figuring out he could never say no to his godson and those damn blue eyes of his. Naruto beamed and hid behind Jiraiya as they entered the bar.

"Long time no see, huh, Tsunade?" Jiraiya asked the blonde sitting at the bar as he sat beside her. Naruto spotted Shizune holding Tonton beside Tsunade, looking lost at her master's drinking.

"What do you want?" Tsunade slurred, annoyed at seeing Jiraiya.

"I've come to bring you back to Konoha." Jiraiya said honestly.

"I'm never going back, get out of here you perv, you're killing my buzz." Tsunade waved her arm like she was shooing a bug.

"She even agrees that you're a perv Ero-Sennin!" Naruto snickered as he poked his head around Jiraiya's arm. Tsunade looked at him, shock in her eyes before she huffed and turned away.

"Who's the brat?" Tsunade asked, trying to sound uninterested.

"Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, your great nephew." Jiraiya said with a low voice. Both blonds startled.

"Oh, so she's my great aunt." Naruto thought, amazed.

"I guess your nickname for her is closer to the truth than you thought." Kurama agreed.

"Should I shock her?" Naruto questioned.

"Couldn't hurt, she needs to sober up and give us some answers." Kurama grunted.

"She's my great aunt huh? Well I've got a bone to pick with her then." Naruto growled and flicked his wrists. The drunk Sannin let out a surprised shout as red-orange chains wrapped around the blonde, pulling her off of her stool.

"We are going to have a little talk Baa-chan." Naruto said cheerfully as he walked out of the bar pulling Tsunade behind him, Shizune, Tonton, and Jiraiya following. The latter was shaking his head amused while Shizune hugged Tonton tighter as they ended up in a small clearing where in the previous timeline Naruto had stayed for a solid week learning the rasengan. Naruto released his chains and watched Tsunade (now sober) get to her feet with rage in her eyes. "You have no reason to be mad Baa-chan." Naruto said calmly.

"Don't call me that brat." Tsunade hissed, but there was an edge of playfulness in her voice.

"Yeah, yeah okay Baa-chan. Listen… I need to know… Are you really my great aunt?" Naruto swallowed hard to remove the lump that was lodged in his throat.

"…Yes, on your mother's side." Tsunade admitted and was taken by surprise when she was suddenly on the ground. She had been tackled by Naruto who had his 12-year-old arms wrapped around her waist and face buried in her large chest. She blinked as she felt a wet spot form there. Naruto's body shuddered every so often. She blinked again as she understood that he was sobbing silently. She looked up at Jiraiya who knelt down by her head.

"He has been alone and treated as an outcast and a demon by the whole village… He thought he was alone in the world, you should have seen him when he found out I was his godfather. Punched me hard enough to think you had been training him and then hugged me so tight I thought I couldn't breath." Jiraiya explained softly.

"You weren't in the village looking after him?" Tsunade asked, surprised and angry at the treatment her great nephew had been put through.

"No, I thought you were. Danzo and the elders convinced me to leave him in your care and go work on my spy network." Jiraiya's voice was one of concealed anger and Tsunade felt her arms tightening around Naruto of their own will.

"They told me you were looking after him as his godfather, that's why I left without him." Tsunade growled.

"It doesn't matter anymore!" Naruto announced as he looked up from where he was hugging his great-aunt. "All that matters is none of us are going to be alone ever again!" This gained smiles from all the adults present before Naruto burrowed his way back into the hug he was giving Tsunade.

"…Why did you come now?" Tsunade eyed Jiraiya. "What happened?"

"During the chunin exams Orochimaru tried to invade Konoha and kill sensei." Jiraiya said bluntly and Tsunade's eyes widened before they narrowed.

"What happened?"

"Well, first he tried to take Sasuke Uchiha during the round in the Forest of Death, but Naruto here and his best friend Shikamaru Nara fought him off." Jiraiya said proudly. Tsunade looked down at the blond in surprise, but all she got was a foxy grin from the genin. Jiraiya went on to explain about Akira and Akito Kazama, how Orochimaru was finally killed and sealed and the village was safe. He explained about what Akira and Akito saw and that the Sandaime wanted her to become Godaime.

Tsunade snorted at the final thought and then flat out refused to become the new Hokage.

"I'll make you a bet Baa-chan." Naruto spoke up after internally panicking for a moment.

"A bet?" Tsunade looked at the blond who was now sitting beside her on the ground instead of pinning her down with a hug.

"If I can't surprise you in the next five minutes, you win and you don't have to become Godaime." Naruto smiled.

"And if you win I'll come back and become Godaime. Hell, I'll even throw my necklace in." Tsunade said with a smirk, knowing that there was no way she could lose. The two shook on it and Naruto jumped to his feet.

"Prepare to be amazed!" Naruto shouted and made a shadow clone and together they easily created the rasengan in the palm of Naruto's hand. He laughed as he took in the utterly surprised and shocked faces of Tsunade, Shizune, Tonton and Jiraiya.

"RASENGAN!" Naruto shouted as he slammed it into a nearby tree, sending it flying into numerous others before shattering.

"How did you know that jutsu? I never mentioned it or trained you in how to use it!" Jiraiya gaped and Tsunade sat there speechless.

"Well if I'm going to take after my dad I figured I should know how to use one of his famous jutsus neh? I'm going to be the Orange Hokage one day after all, dattebayo!" Naruto gave a peace sign and tensed as Tsunade walked over to him. She pulled him into a hug and clipped the Shodai's necklace around the blond's neck, returning it to its rightful place (she didn't know that mind you) and kissed him on the forehead.

"Damn… Looks like I'm becoming Godaime brat." Tsunade huffed before she got an armful of blond genin once again.

"We can all be a family Baa-chan!" Naruto laughed happily, truly happy his strange family was coming together again and he was determined to keep it together this time. Even if he and Shikamaru had to fight the war on their own he would keep them safe this time around.

"Alright, alright brat. Shizune!" Tsunade pried Naruto off her as she looked over at the woman.

"Yes?" Shizune asked, snapping to attention.

"If I'm going to be Godaime I'm going to need a personal advisor. I hope you weren't planning on doing any more travelling because we are going home." Tsunade smirked and Shizune grinned happily back.

"Yes, let's go home Lady Tsunade." Shizune agreed.

"Speaking of… Baa-chan I have the perfect new apprentice for you…" Naruto trailed off as the group headed towards the gates of the town.

"I'm already regretting this." Tsunade grumbled as Jiraiya snickered, but casted a look at the rambling blond who was talking happily to his newly discovered family member.

Naruto was just layer after layer of secrets and skills and Jiraiya had a feeling that he and Shikamaru Nara were not as they seemed and something else happened in the Forest of Death that they weren't telling anyone. Jiraiya was going to find out even if it took him the rest of his life.

"It's been a while Tsunade." Hiruzen puffed his pipe as he looked at the people gathered in his office: Tsunade, Shizune, Tonton, Jiraiya and Naruto.

"It has, sensei." Tsunade said respectfully to the Sandaime.

"I assume that you have been briefed of events that have happened here as of late?" Hiruzen questioned. Tsunade nodded. "I know you Tsunade, why did you agree to become Godaime?"

"…I lost a bet to my brat of a great nephew." Tsunade jerked a thumb over at Naruto who waved before he fell onto a nearby couch and closed his eyes to rest.

"You're not kidding." Hiruzen laughed at the put out look Tsunade was sporting. "What did he do?"

"Secret Jiji." Naruto sang from his place on the couch where Tonton was now resting on his stomach comfortably.

"What the brat said." Tsunade agreed, figuring that if Naruto wanted to keep knowing the rasengan to himself he had a good reason.

"I summoned Akira and Akito Kazama here to talk with you, if that is alright." The Sandaime stated as someone knocked on the door and Tsunade nodded just in time for Akira and Akito to walk in.

"Akira!" Naruto called out, Akira ruffled the blond's hair.

"Welcome back, kit. Lucky you got to leave the village, I was stuck in the Mission Room because Kakashi had to go out with Iruka last night." Akira huffed and Akito smothered a snort.

"Sakura owes me ramen, she said they weren't together." Naruto said smugly while the Sandaime coughed, covering his own laughter.

"Ah sorry Hokage-sama!" Akira rubbed his neck sheepishly.

"Akira, Akito Kazama, meet Tsunade and Shizune." Hiruzen gestured to the newcomers.

"I'm Akira, he's Akito. Nice to meet you both!" Akira jerked his thumb at this twin who bowed respectfully.

"So you two are the 'Red Demon Twins' with the seer blood." Tsunade inspected the redhead twins critically. "Any advice you care to share?"

"…Things will get better before they get worse." Akito said cryptically.

"I can guarantee you that your head will look great on the mountain." Akira said cheerfully causing Naruto to snicker from his place on the couch.

"Is that it?" Tsunade looked unimpressed.

"Sasuke Uchiha." Akito spoke up sharply. "We have seen the true story when Itachi told his little brother before Sasuke killed him." Okay, Tobi told Sasuke a version of the truth, but they couldn't bring him up just yet or the fact that he got the whole Uchiha history from the four previous Hokages.

Silence covered the office and Naruto didn't react knowing where Akito was going with this.

"He defected from the village to join Orochimaru, but as the snake is dead he will not defect to join Oto this time around. However he yearns for power to kill his brother, there is a way to prevent two pointless deaths. Tell Sasuke Uchiha the complete truth about what truly happened to his clan, to his brother and train him more intensely so he can defend himself against his brother if the time comes that Itachi forces Sasuke to kill him in battle." Akito said gravely.

"We know you can not tell him as Sandaime, however once the Godaime takes over no one can stop you from visiting the Uchiha compound and telling him the whole truth under the guise of a visit to see how the 'last Uchiha' is holding up." Akira added in seeing Hiruzen's mouth open to protest.

"…If what you say is true, he should know the truth about his clan. I was going to tell him; I was just going to wait until he was older… It seemed that in that alternate timeline I did not have the chance, I will tell him once I name Tsunade Godaime." Hiruzen agreed looking every bit the old man he was.

"Lady Tsunade you don't need much help, just… watch the elders on the council, they have plans that will not be beneficial to anyone except themselves." Akira warned seriously.

"You are talking about Danzo?" Hiruzen leaned forward with a look of disbelief on his face.

"…Yes, as Godaime you need to keep a strong stance against him and his supporters. Follow your instincts and advice of only those you trust completely." Akito sighed warily thinking about Sai, ROOT, and the Uchiha slaughter. Who knew how far Danzo's destructive reach stretched.

"I will." Tsunade swore. "I never did like Danzo anyways." She grumbled and Tonton made a snort of agreement.

"He was part of the group that lied to both of us about the care of Naruto." Jiraiya hissed. Akira and Akito exchanged looks and bowed to both Tsunade and Hiruzen before silently leaving the office knowing that where this conversation was going should be done in private. Not like Naruto wasn't going to tell Shikamaru/Akito later that night, but it was courtesy.

"What do you mean?" Hiruzen asked, confused.

"Shouldn't Kakashi-sensei be here before we get into this?" Naruto called over.

"The brat's right, bring in Hatake." Tsunade agreed and Hiruzen nodded sharply to the corner of the room and Tenzo shunshin'd away to gather his old ANBU captain. Moments passed and soon Kakashi and Tenzo shunshin'd into the office. Kakashi eyed everyone in the room and out of reflex moved closer to Naruto on the couch before he nodded to the others in the room.

"Please explain Jiraiya, Tsunade." Hiruzen turned to his students.

"After… that night, I went to find Naruto, Minato and Kushina, however Danzo, Homura Mitokado, and Koharu Utatana pulled me away from my search. I was told that Minato and Kushina were dead and the Nine-Tails was sealed inside Naruto. They then told me that he was placed in the care of Tsunade and I needed to go and work on my spy network. Believing them I agreed and left the village thinking that Naruto was with family and Kakashi would be there as well." Jiraiya explained his side of the story with anger in his eyes. Naruto was sitting up with Tonton in his lap as he watched and listened carefully, feeling his own anger building up in his gut.

"My story is the same as Jiraiya's, but they told me Jiraiya was looking after Naruto as he is his godfather so I took Shizune and left." Tsunade agreed, her fists clenching and unclenching.

"… After that night I was… unstable and Danzo suggested that I should join ANBU to learn to control my emotions. When I asked about Naruto he assured me he was being taken care of… I looked for him when I had time off, but it seemed like he dropped off the map. I didn't find out what was truly happening to him until he reached the academy and saw how skinny and pale he was so I left him small gifts and some food… I then resigned from ANBU and requested to become his jounin sensei and it was approved by Hokage-sama." Kakashi explained his part of the story.

"… So you are saying that I could have had a real family, but Danzo and his damn council were the reason I had a horrible, abusive and lonely childhood?" Naruto asked, pupils slitting like a fox and his whiskers darkening.

"Naruto, calm down!" Kurama shouted at the blond whose anger and chakra was rising up.

"It's his fault!" Naruto hissed, not listening to the Bijuu.

Kurama growled and then Naruto was crouched in ankle deep water outside the open cage where Kurama was waiting.

"What are we doing here? I am going to murder Danzo and be done with him once and for all." Naruto shouted, voice echoing around the sewer.

"You need to calm down brat, if you keep going on like this you will expose how powerful you are and then everything will be utterly screwed!" Kurama shouted back as he wrapped one of his tails around the blond protectively and soothingly and held on until Naruto calmed down and the mindscape changed around him, turning into a large open and forested area with white clouds and blue sky. Kurama sighed in relief and unfurled his tail only for Naruto to cling to the fluffy limb and sigh happily.

"Thanks Kurama. I really needed that." Naruto smiled before he left his mindscape to see Kakashi and Jiraiya's faces looking down at him worried and a hand on his forehead belonging to Tsunade.

"Are you with us now Naru-chan?" Kakashi asked.

"Yeah, sorry… What happened?" Naruto asked as Tsunade and Jiraiya helped him sit up.

"You were getting angry then you just fell forward." Tsunade reported, checking his pupils. "Good thing Kakashi was there or else you would have face planted."

"Thanks Kakashi-Nii-San!" Naruto smiled at the jounin who sat back in shock at the nickname. "One nickname deserves another after all."

"What happened, you aren't showing any signs of dulled senses that come with fainting." Tsunade asked suspiciously.

"Tell them I brought you to see me and try not to make me out to be a psychotic beast, alright?" Kurama ordered.

"Gotcha fuzzball." Naruto mentally saluted the Nine-Tails.

"Well Kurama, that's the Nine-Tails, brought me into our 'mindscape' and told me to calm down because he could feel his chakra starting to leak out and he didn't want to go on another rampage." Naruto said simply and had to bite back a laugh at the sudden silence and stillness of the room at the admission.

"Why didn't you tell me about this when I was checking your seal?" Jiraiya asked, grabbing Naruto by the shoulders, worry on his face.

"Because he was always there for me during the tough times and he isn't as evil as everyone makes him out to be." Naruto said calmly. "He helps me out and teaches me things and he is my friend."

"Let me get this straight. You somehow managed to befriend the Nine-Tailed Beast and he isn't a raging monster?" Jiraiya asked, amazed.

"They aren't all bad, they are quite peaceful apparently and only go out of control when they are controlled." Naruto said simply before he yawned widely. "Can we talk about this later? I'm exhausted."

"Of course, Naruto. Tsunade the Senju estate is yours now." Hiruzen spoke up in his grandfatherly way.

"Thanks sensei, come on Naruto… Let's go home." Tsunade helped Naruto up.

"What are you talking about?" Naruto looked up at his aunt.

"Jiraiya told me about that shithole you call an apartment, as we are family you are coming to live with me now." Tsunade grabbed the hood of Naruto's hoodie and started to drag him out.

"I'll let Shikaku-san and Yoshino-chan know where you are." Kakashi called out as the two blonds left the office with Shizune, Tonton, and Jiraiya following behind.

"Thanks Nii-San!" Naruto shouted back before Kakashi bowed to the Sandaime and shunshin'd away.

"Whoa! This place is massive!" Naruto spun around inside the grand foyer of the Senju estate where Tsunade insisted he, Jiraiya, and Shizune live with her. Naruto forgot how terrifying she could be when she wanted something to go her way.

"Glad you approve." Tsunade sounded amused before motioning the preteen to follow her.

"Where are we going Baa-chan?" Naruto asked, interested. She had already given them the tour.

"This is a place only someone with Uzumaki blood can enter. Mito my grandmother and first jinchūriki of the Nine-Tails created it." Tsunade glanced over her shoulder as the two went down a spiral staircase and ended up by a huge round stone door with a blood red seal drawn on it.

"Place your hand in the outline." Tsunade gestured to the door, Naruto nodded and placed his hand on the hand outline in the middle of the door and watched with bated breath as the seal lit up in Kyuubi red before the door swung open with an ominous creak. Using one hand Tsunade pushed open the door and the two stepped inside to see a huge library covered in dust with portraits lining the stone walls.

"Wow, this place is amazing." Naruto swallowed. "I have a clan and I can finally learn about their history."

"Once you are of age you will inherit the Namikaze estate and there you will find out everything about your father's clan." Tsunade added to Naruto's statement and smiled as the blond's eyes lit up. "We can dig into the Uzumaki and Senju history another day, right now you need to get some rest, don't think I didn't notice you were awake all night keeping watch."

"Ah, okay Baa-chan." Naruto rubbed his head sheepishly and followed his aunt out of the Uzumaki library, the stone door shutting behind them and back up to the main mansion and then up to the second floor where Tsunade gave him a room that was bigger than his old apartment and was beautifully decorated. In fact it looked like it had been made just for him, but Tsunade said it was his mother's old room as she was part of the Senju family as well.

"We are all just down the hall in case you need anything. Goodnight brat." Tsunade kissed his forehead before she left, closing the door leaving Naruto to his new room.

Naruto decided he would explore the next day with Shikamaru as he searched through the closet. With an 'ah-ha' pulled out a pair of black sleep pants and a green t-shirt that had the Uzumaki clan swirl and Senju clan symbol on the shirt sleeves. He slid those on and tossed himself onto the bed, sighing happily as he sunk into the soft mattress and fluffy sheet, he burrowed his way into the fabric and almost was lulled to sleep when the door opening woke him, he decided to keep his eyes shut as they felt like lead and he wasn't sure he could open them anyways.

"Goodnight Naru-chan." Jiraiya whispered as he slid something onto Naruto's head and something soft into his arms that tightened around the item out of reflex. He heard the door shut and he, with great effort, peered at his arms and smiled to see a small stuffed version of Gamabunta in his arms and his hippo hat from Kakashi on his head. Naruto sighed happily as he buried his face into the soft stuffed frog, he finally had a family that truly cared about him. He couldn't wait to tell Shikamaru tomorrow and introduce him to his family as Shikamaru was and always will be his brother.

Chapter 17

"I'll be damned. This mansion is rather impressive, but you are still spending some nights at my place." Shikamaru gave Naruto a stare as the two sat on the floor inside the Uzumaki library vault, scrolls and notebooks spread out around the two. Naruto nodded his head quickly in agreement, not ready to give up the home cooking and the safe haven the two had built at the Nara compound.

"This is amazing, oh look at this one- it's a kinjutsu by any other standards!" Naruto showed the scroll he was reading to Shikamaru.

"You're going to learn it aren't you?" Shikamaru scanned the words quickly and smiled at what it did.

"Of course, it will be so useful!" Naruto set it off to the side where a few other scrolls of jutsus he wanted to learn were located. "If we use all of these, the war will be fought and won before word even gets back to Konoha that there was a problem at all!"

"Yeah we will only be grounded for the rest of our lives if we succeed." Shikamaru sighed as he jotted down needed information from a scroll on the Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei and the scroll Naruto had compiled on Nagato's Edo Rinne Tensei Jutsu.

"The world would be safe, so I think it would be worth it… I hope at least. Yoshino-chan's 'bed rest' is terrifying. I don't even want to know what Baa-chan and Ero-Sennin will do to me when they find out." Naruto shuddered, imagining what would happen when this was all said and done.

"Don't remind me." Shikamaru shuddered as well before he unrolled the scroll completely and stared at one line, he read it numerous times before he started to laugh. "Are you okay?" Naruto looked up, wary at the sudden laughter coming from the Nara.

"I know how to get them back to life without having to deal with the Shinigami!" Shikamaru stated and Naruto got the biggest grin on his face at the news.


"If we combine the Edo Tensei and the Edo Rinne Tensei their bodies will be like they were when they were brought back using the Edo Tensei, but their souls will be brought back for good with the Edo Rinne Tensei. Once the war is done we can use that jutsu you found a while ago to make their bodies permanent." Shikamaru finished explaining before he grunted when Naruto flew across the floor to hug him.

The two ended up in a pile on the floor with Shikamaru trapped under the blond who was grinning ear-to-ear and rambling out his thanks to the Nara.

"Ahem, are we interrupting something?" Tsunade coughed from the entrance where Jiraiya was standing beside her, his notebook out and pen moving quickly, muttering something about 'yaoi' and 'a whole new audience'.

"Not at all Baa-chan!" Naruto beamed as he positioned himself so he was sitting on Shikamaru's stomach while the Nara was forced to stay splayed out on his back giving Naruto an unimpressed look. "What do you need?" "Well you two have been down here all day, we thought you would like to come up for dinner?" Jiraiya said after getting whacked over the head by Tsunade.

"All day?" Naruto blinked owlishly up at them.

"Yes brat, all day. Now get off the other brat and come upstairs for dinner." Tsunade rolled her eyes before spinning on her heel and striding out of the library with Jiraiya being dragged along by his ear.

"Are you going to get off of me you troublesome blond?" Shikamaru asked and Naruto pretended to be thinking about it intensely.

"I am hungry…" Naruto trailed off before he rolled off Shikamaru's stomach, but before Shikamaru could even heave a sigh of relief the blond grabbed the black-haired genin around his waist and hoisted him up over his shoulder before he raced up the staircase towards the dining room where Tsunade, Jiraiya, Kakashi, Shizune, and Tonton where waiting. Naruto dropped Shikamaru down onto a chair and slid into the one next to him; a foxy smile on his lips while Shikamaru breathed heavily shooting glares at the blond.

"That's one way to enter a room." Shizune laughed only making Shikamaru's glares towards the blond increase.

"So what were you two doing down there all day?" Jiraiya asked, curious about the two genin as they dug into their food with gusto- they hadn't eaten anything since breakfast.

"Looking at scrolls, reading about my clan's history and their jutsus." Naruto said honestly, that's what they were doing at the start, but then they came across some very useful information that would help them win the war and right some wrongs.

"Lady Tsunade, when is the Sandaime going to name you Godaime?" Shikamaru asked interested, he had grown close to the female Hokage in his timeline and hoped he could do so in this timeline as well.

"Tomorrow, I'm not looking forward to wearing that hat." Tsunade huffed at the idea of wearing what her sensei wore.

"You'll look beautiful like always." Jiraiya assured her and grinned at the blush that covered his old teammate's face before he was punched in the cheek for that comment. Shizune giggled while Naruto full out laughed at the two, Kakashi shook his head and Shikamaru smirked.

"Has Jiji told you if anyone made chunin from the exams?" Shikamaru asked, wondering if he would be promoted this time around as he didn't even get to fight.

"Actually… yes." Tsunade stood up from her chair and walked over to a glass cabinet where two scrolls were sitting. "Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara: for your achievements in the forest of death against Orochimaru and for the following events, you two have been promoted to the level of chunin." Tsunade gave the two preteens a scroll each and the two blinked in surprise before they smiled.

"YES! Finally!" Naruto pumped his fist into the air as Shikamaru smirked knowing that Naruto was ecstatic to move up in the ranks, as he didn't like how he was a genin for so long before he made the jump to Hokage.

"Thank you Lady Tsunade." Shikamaru bowed his head.

"From what I heard you two deserve this promotion." Tsunade waved it off. "That was just my first official duty as Hokage."

"So Kashi-Nii-San, are you and Iruka-sensei doing good?" Naruto turned a smirk on his sensei after a while, still happy about his chunin promotion. Kakashi froze at the question. "You better be treating him right and not being such a big pervert around him, see you both are my Nii-Sans and I would hate for something to happen to you if Iruka-sensei was hurt in any way."

The temperature in the room slowly dropped down as the blond spoke lightly to his sensei.

"Don't forgot that Iruka-sensei is loved by all his students, new and old, who wouldn't take kindly to him being hurt." Shikamaru said his part calmly.

"Don't forget what happened when Mizuki hurt Iruka-sensei." Naruto said cheerfully. "My shadow clones and I beat him into the ground and that was before I even made genin and learned how to actually fight."

Kakashi visibly gulped at the words and the other adults looked at Naruto and Shikamaru with respect for making the legendary Copy-Nin so nervous.

"I will do everything in my power to make sure Iruka-sensei is happy and well. I would die for him." Kakashi swore, resolve glinting in his visible eye.

"That's all well and good Kakashi-sensei, just…" Naruto trailed off.

Shikamaru picked right back up. "Don't die for him, live for him. He would be hurt deeply if someone he cared so much for died."

"That goes for everyone, don't die for someone. Live for them." Naruto finished the thought.

The room fell silent at the wisdom behind the words of the two chunin.

"When did you two get so deep?" Jiraiya tried to joke, but it fell flat at the sad, battle-worn, and weary looks in the chunins' eyes.

"Don't underestimate us Ero-Sennin." Naruto tapped the side of his nose before pushing his chair back as Shikamaru copied the movement.

"Thank you for dinner, but I should be getting home." Shikamaru bowed his head in respect.

"I'll walk you out." Naruto offered and the two left the dining room leaving a group of stunned adults behind them.

"There is something going on with those two." Tsunade said, lacing her fingers together and resting her chin on them.

"We should discuss this with Shikaku-sama once you get settled into being Godaime Lady Tsunade." Kakashi said. "I know he has noticed the change in the two as well. He's spent more time around the two and I believe he has a theory in the making."

"Good idea Kakashi." Tsunade nodded before the room fell silent once more.

"Do you think your shadow clones have reached the others yet?" Shikamaru asked in a low voice as the two approached the front door.

"I think so, they should be travelling with them and reaching the meeting point in two days, I will be around for Baa-chan being announced as Hokage and then I will be off to meet them… Be careful while I'm gone… I intercepted a message from Itachi and Kisame saying that Hidan is on his own and is nearing Konoha… I didn't let the message carry onto Jiraiya, I figured you would want to deal with him personally?" Naruto said in a whisper as he opened the door for Shikamaru.

"I do want to deal with him personally, I'll make sure I use the scroll we found. Good luck with meeting the others." Shikamaru smirked.

"Good luck with taking out Hidan… Again, just be careful and I swear that if I feel your seal heat up I will be there in a flash and help you kick his ass." Naruto swore, gripping the chunin's forearm as Shikamaru mirrored the movement and the two leaned their foreheads against each other in a show of brotherly love and loyalty. It was the act of two men who stabilized their bonds in war.

"I'll keep that in mind Nar, see you tomorrow!" Shikamaru released the blond and left the Senju estate. Naruto leaned against the doorframe and watched him until he disappeared from sight.

"Hey Naru-chan, we thought we would share some stories about Minato and Kushina tonight, what do you think?" Jiraiya poked his head into the foyer.

"Really?" Naruto's whole face lit up.

"Yeah, really. Come on Naru-chan!" Jiraiya laughed and stepped back as Naruto ran past him into the living room where the others were waiting, he leapt onto the couch and made himself comfortable by laying his head on Kakashi's lap. The ex-ANBU looked panicked for a moment before he slowly relaxed and started to pet Naruto's blond hair.

The rest of the night was filled with stories about Minato and Kushina from their days of being genin, how Kushina hated him for thinking she was a 'tomato' and for thinking her a boy. Naruto listened intently, he had heard this story from his mom's chakra memory, but it was amazing to listen to all the other stories. The moon had risen high into the sky when Kakashi noticed that Naruto had stopped laughing and commenting, he looked down at his lap and saw the blond had fallen asleep and was breathing evenly.

"He fell asleep." Kakashi said in a low tone.

"Take him to his bedroom won't you Kashi?" Jiraiya smirked at the eyebrow twitch the nickname got as Kakashi cradled Naruto against his chest and walked out of the living room and up to Naruto's room.

Kakashi smirked when he saw the hippo hat and stuffed frog on one side of the bed. Kakashi pulled back the covers of the bed with his foot and tucked the sleeping blond into the large bed and watched amused as Naruto curled on his side, arms clutching the stuffed frog and nightcap tightly as a happy sigh passed his parted lips. Kakashi took a moment to really look at the blond and was taken back at how young he looked, how young he really was. With everything he had gone through he was still so young and innocent, Kakashi then swore to himself that he would protect his sensei's son, his otouto in every way he could. He would not only live for Iruka he would live for Naruto as well.

"Why do I have to wear this Ero-Sennin?" Naruto whined, tugging at the traditional robe he was forced to wear for the ceremony where Tsunade was named Godaime. He didn't remember doing this much the first time around.

"Because Naruto you are a member of not only the Uzumaki clan, but also the Namikaze and Senju clans as well." Jiraiya looked uncomfortable in his own robe, but he was working past it.

"Hmph, just because I'm some prince of the Whirlpool Village that shouldn't mean I should be forced to wear these things." Naruto huffed as he waved the much too long sleeves in front of his face. The robe was white with orange trim with the three clan symbols placed over the fabric. The Uzumaki was placed on his back, Senju was placed on his right arm, and the Namikaze was placed on the left.

"I think that's what being a prince means Naru-chan." Jiraiya chuckled and the two left the office to meet Tsunade, Hiruzen, and the council of elders. Naruto hissed lowly when he saw Danzo standing there and moved slightly to guard Jiraiya and Tsunade's flanks just in case.

"Are you ready to become Hokage Tsunade?" Hiruzen looked at Tsunade who was wearing a Senju and Uzumaki clan robe and not looking happy about it at all.

"Yes, sensei, I'm ready." Tsunade smirked at the three elders who made Naruto's life lonely and who knows what else they have done to this village.

"Follow me then, it's time to introduce the village to their new leader." Hiruzen opened a door that led to a staircase inside of the Hokage Monument, where Tsunade would be introduced to the village from. It was a silent climb other than the grumbling from Naruto and Tsunade about climbing the steps in their long clan robes. Finally they reached the top and they exited out into the sunlight to see all of Konoha gathered in the streets below, all of them looking up at the monument expectantly.

Naruto, using his heightened eyesight, could easily spot Shikamaru standing with the Konoha 12, Akira and Akito standing behind the group with the families of the Konoha 12 and the jounin senseis. Naruto smirked, his friends looked just as awkward as he did in their clan robes so he didn't feel as horrible about wearing them now. Naruto stuck to Jiraiya's side while the Sandaime stepped forward and raised an arm to the crowd that cheered for him.

"My village, it has been a pleasure to be your Hokage for so long and it has warmed my heart to see our village and its people flourish and come together under all types of trials. However my time as your Hokage has come to a close, I am here to introduce you all to your new Hokage. I give you one of the Legendary Sannin, a member of one of the founding clans of Konoha, my old student and your new Godaime… Tsunade Senju!" Hiruzen stepped to the side after making his speech as Tsunade stepped forward to a roar of applause as the Sandaime placed the hat onto his old student's head.

"Konoha!" Tsunade raised her arms up to the crowd and they settled down. "I am proud to become your new Hokage and I can promise you that I will do everything in my power to help Konoha achieve greatness and to protect it to the best of my abilities from any threat!"

That got a roar of approval from the crowd while Naruto noticed the traitorous elders shift on their feet and exchange worried looks.

"Before I let you all go, I have something that needs to be discussed." Tsunade turned to look at Naruto who blinked confused at her. Jiraiya pushed his godson forward slightly and Naruto stood beside Tsunade who moved him in front of her and placed her hands on his shoulders. She growled when she heard some cries out of outrage at 'the demon' being beside the new Hokage. Naruto spotted the Konoha 12 (minus Sasuke of course), the Nara clan, Akira, and Akito, along with the jounin senseis, send evil glares at the nearby villagers or ninjas who spoke out against Naruto. "My grandfather was Hashirama Senju, my granduncle was Tobirama Senju and my grandmother was Mito Uzumaki. Naruto Uzumaki is my great nephew and now a part of the Senju clan, I know how he was treated in this village and I thought I would let you all know that if anything happens to him, I will not be acting as Godaime when I come to visit those responsible, but as an overprotected great aunt with the strength of a legendary Sannin." Tsunade nicely threatened the whole village and silence settled over the village

"Now that the speeches are out of the way, let's celebrate!" Tsunade cried out and that earned cheers from the crowd. Naruto was escorted away from the front and was positioned between Tsunade and Jiraiya as the trio walked past Danzo and the other elders. The Sandaime nodded at Tsunade and Jiraiya before he shunshin'd away, Naruto hoped he was going to talk to Sasuke about what really happened with his clan and his older brother. In the meantime he had a trip to prepare for and he hoped Shikamaru had been able to sneak away to adjust his trap for Hidan.

Hiruzen settled in the small house Sasuke had taken up in the abandoned Uchiha district. Sasuke came back into the living room with two cups of tea that he gave to the Sandaime.

"My thanks Sasuke." Hiruzen smiled kindly at Sasuke as he sipped the drink and waited until Sasuke was settled.

"I'm sure you are wondering why I wished to talk to you." Hiruzen set his cup down and Sasuke followed suit.

"Yes." Sasuke said with respect for the older man, he was on edge about why he was being talked to by the Sandaime.

"I wished to wait until you were older to tell you this, but things have changed… Sasuke I need to tell you the truth behind the night your clan was killed." Hiruzen stated grimly and Sasuke froze.

"What do you mean 'the truth'? Itachi killed our clan and I will kill him." Sasuke hissed out.

"Please hold your judgment until the end, there are people who do not wish for this information to ever be released." Hiruzen sighed his mind going to Danzo.

"…I will hear what you have to say." Sasuke decided, seeing the look in the Sandaime's eyes.

"It all started after the Nine-Tails attacked the village… The Uchiha's Sharingan can control Tailed Beasts and as I'm sure you can imagine tension became high with the Uchihas in the village and they were put under close surveillance and were placed back in this compound away from the rest of the village that looked at them with mistrust not knowing what to believe." Hiruzen started his tale and saw Sasuke listening intently.

"Some Uchiha were still opposed to the 'Senju government' and started to plan a coup d'état… Your brother grew up during the Third Shinobi War and it turned him into a pacifist, he became an ANBU to help keep the peace and the Uchiha forced him to spy on the rest of Konoha. In fact, Itachi was spying on the Uchiha for us because your brother knew that the coup d'état would spark another war. That went against everything he wanted for the future. I need you to know that I was against the treatment the Uchiha were getting and I very much wanted to settle things peacefully… However not all people felt this way, Danzo convinced Itachi that slaughtering your clan was the only way to stop an oncoming war. He agreed on the single condition that you, his little brother would be spared." Hiruzen said and stayed silent to gauge Sasuke's reaction to the news.

"…He… I… Nii-San…" Sasuke stammered out, his mind swirling with the new information.

"I know this is a lot to take in, but your brother made the ultimate sacrifice for peace. As long as you were safe he would have done anything to protect you and let you believe that you are part of a proud clan." The Sandaime said softly.

"…He did all of that to protect me?" Sasuke asked in a quiet voice.

"He did and you should know that no matter what he is doing now he always has your well being in mind. There is also something you need to know about the Sharingan." Hiruzen said slowly.

"What about it?" Sasuke looked interested.

"The truth behind the activation of the Sharingan." Hiruzen said with a heavy sigh and took a breath as Sasuke looked on expectantly.

"When an Uchiha that has known love loses it, it turns into a much stronger hatred. Something inside the Uchiha's minds changes and it materializes in a physical form… The Sharingan was the result. It only furthered to lock in the Uchiha's hate into place and with the lust for more power the Sharingan wielders become more closed off and hate-filled. Not even Itachi knew of the history behind the Uchiha's kekkei genkai, I was only told by my sensei the Nidaime Hokage when he named me his successor. When in fact, love makes the Sharingan much more powerful than it would be if the user was filled with hatred. I've seen it happen." Hiruzen explained softly.

"I think I need some time to process this…" Sasuke said slowly.

"Please do not hold one man's action against the whole village, just focus on your brother and I do hope you change your mind about wanting to kill him. It would be wise to keep this to yourself, no one must know any of this or Itachi's life could be in danger as well as both of ours." Hiruzen patted Sasuke's shoulder gently. The raven nodded slowly and kept his eyes down as the Sandaime left the house with a weary sigh.

Chapter 18

Naruto looked at the sun that was peeking over the horizon from the large window in his room. He decided to henge his clothes from Jiraiya into the clothes he wore while in Sage mode, though he switched out the summoning contract with another large scroll filled with anything and everything he would need for his mission. He quickly left one of his permanent shadow clones in his place asleep on his bed while he slipped out of the window and leapt from tree to tree through the backyard of the Senju estate. He had done some exploring when replacing the hiraishin seals around the village and found a way to leave the village that bypassed the ninja on guard duty at the front gate. He silently slipped out of the village and then took off in the direction of where the others were gathering.

It didn't take long running on water to reach his destination in the Land of Waves. Naruto laughed aloud when he stopped in front of the 'The Great Naruto Uzumaki Bridge'. He leaned against the railing, this was the meeting point to meet the others.

"You weren't kidding when you told me you had a bridge named after you." Gaara commented as he dropped down from a stream of sand, the shadow clone of Naruto disappearing as the One-Tails jinchūriki stood next to the Nine-Tails jinchūriki. Naruto noticed that Gaara too had henged his clothes to the ones he wore during the war.

"Why would I lie about something as awesome as this?" Naruto smirked.

"I can't believe you are seriously assembling all the jinchūriki in one place, this is asking for an attack to happen." Gaara commented as he eyed the small island that Naruto chose as a meeting point.

"If they followed my shadow clones instructions then no one would even notice we are gone. Also if the Bijuu and my shadow clones followed my plan the others should have their memories back and this shouldn't be too awkward of a meeting." Naruto laughed before he was grabbed in a hug from behind, knowing the chakra signature he didn't even bother to react.

"NARUTO!" Killer B laughed joyfully as he hugged the Nine-Tails jinchūriki happily.

"Hey B, how ya been doing?" Naruto laughed as he let the taller man hug him before Naruto was dropped to the ground and Gaara was also pulled into a hug even though the redhead protested something fierce.

"Since Gyuki and your shadow clone gave me my memories and powers back, I've been great!" B said, his voice dropping as the three stood on the bridge waiting for the others.

"That's good, I'm glad you guys are back." Naruto smiled at the two jinchūriki who smiled back fondly.

"Us too, Naruto." Gaara smiled and rolled his teal eyes at something Shukaku must have said.

"HEY YOU GUYS!" A female voice called out from above the group, the three looked up and smiled as a girl with short, spiky mint green hair with a Taki hitai-ate on her right arm and two wings on her back as she flew down to greet them, a puff of smoke by her back showing that the Naruto shadow clone had disappeared.

"Fuu!" Naruto smiled and yelped a bit when the girl let her wings disappear and she fell into the blond's arms, hugging him.

"Naruto, Gaara and B! I'm so glad you gave me my memories and powers back, I swear I'll do my best to protect Chomei this time around!" Fu smiled brightly and determination glinted in her orange eyes.

"I'm glad you think so too Fuu." Naruto smiled and patted the girl's head as she jumped up and landed on Killer B's broad shoulder and settled there, his hand coming to rest on her small waist to make sure she didn't fall off.

"I see I was not misled, you all truly are here." Utakata commented as the shadow clone puffed away as he joined the others on the bridge, his long brown hair still covering his left side of his face leaving his single gold eye visible.

"Of course, like I would lie about this Utakata. It's good to see you are well." Naruto held his hand out and the two shook their hands firmly before Utakata leaned on the opposite railing and started to blow bubbles with Fuu watching and giggling every so often as the bubbles gently floated around her. Naruto smiled when he spotted a small smile work its way onto Utakata's lips before it disappeared.

"Naruto, Gaara, B, Fuu, Utakata." Yugito Nii of Kumo joined their group. The blonde accepted the fist bump B offered her and that earned her a smile and Fuu waved happily at the Two-Tails jinchūriki.

"Yugi! Can you grow your nails to any length you want?" Fuu asked in awe and the jounin from the Village Hidden in the Clouds smiled slightly and grew her fingernails to an extremely long length.

"Yes, I can." Yugito shook her head at the younger girl's wonder.

"Have you thought of painting them? You could get a really cool nickname if you did!" Fuu chatted happily with the blonde jinchūriki.

"Hey Naruto! Kissed anymore guys lately?" Yagura, the Yondaime Mizukage took off a large hat he had on his head to hide his face as he joined the others on the bridge.

"Hey Yagura, how many people think that you're still a little kid?" Naruto shot back before the two laughed and exchanged a handshake and a half hug. "Good to see you."

"The same for you all." Yagura smiled at the others on the bridge.

"Who are we waiting for still?" Utakata questioned quietly.

"Han and Roshi, I'm hoping they arrive together as they are both from Iwa." Naruto commented as he spread his chakra out over the island and smiled as he turned to the left.

"You would be right then Naruto Uzumaki." Roshi commented as he and Han approached the group of jinchūriki, Han easily towering over his traveling partner.

"Good to see you two." Yagura said politely.

"Well that's all of us!" Naruto clapped his hands together with a huge smile.

"What now Uzumaki?" Han questioned as he looked around the area they were in.

"Now we have a jinchūriki pow-wow and figure out what our next move will be." Naruto said cheerfully.

"We are definitely not calling this meeting by that horrible name." Kurama snorted and Naruto watched amused as the other jinchūriki looked confused at the new voice.

"That was Kurama, the good ol Nine-Tails." Naruto answered the unanswered question.

"Why can we hear him then?" Gaara asked.

"Because I'm just that amazing." Kurama huffed and this caused some laughter and eye rolls from the jinchūriki on the bridge.

"Nah, I think it's because you each have some of my chakra within your bodies since I fixed your seals. If you're a certain distance from Kurama you can hear him." Naruto theorized.

"I knew being around Shikamaru would wear off on you." Gaara smirked.

"Well Shikamaru didn't think you used to be so dramatic, so I must have worn off on you." Naruto commented back with his own smirk. The blond motioned the others to follow him. "Come on guys, I think I have the perfect spot for us to hang out."

Soon the odd group of ninja was walking down the main street of the island, people were smiling kindly to the visiting nin while some greeted them happily.

"Why is everyone so happy and nice here?" Fuu asked, keeping herself close to Naruto and Killer B as the group walked.

"I came here on a mission back in my genin days and ever since we took out Gato it looks like it's been flourishing. Also not everywhere is like Taki, Fuu, we have to give everyone a fair chance." Naruto said wisely and Fuu nodded.

"I still hate being part of Taki." Fuu mumbled.

"Once this is all over we can work on bringing you into Konoha or wherever you want to go." Naruto assured the mint green-haired jinchūriki.

"Naruto?" A voice called out and the whole group turned, tensed slightly before Naruto waved his hand to silently tell them to stand down.

"Inari?" Naruto looked at the taller version of the little kid he and team 7 had run into their first time they came here.

"You came back!" Inari rushed the blond and hugged him happily. Naruto chuckled and hugged him back.

"Did you ever doubt me?" Naruto teased and let the small boy climb onto his shoulders.

"Nope, are you going to come by the house? Mom would love to see you!" Inari weaved his fingers into the blond hair to get a better grip.

"Of course, in fact I was hoping to be able to use the same training area that my team used before." Naruto questioned.

"I'm sure grandpa and mom will let you guys use it, but we better ask her first." Inari tugged the blond's hair to lead him the correct way towards his house.

"This place is peaceful, I wish I was the Kage here instead as it seems like less hassle." Yagura muttered to Gaara who nodded his agreement.

"Naruto? Is that you?" Tsunami asked in pleasant surprise as she opened the door to see her son on the shoulders of Naruto and a ragtag group of ninja from many different nations standing behind him, looking around warily.

"Hi Tsunami-chan, it's good to see you again… I know this is short notice, but I was hoping my friends and I could use the same place my team used last time?" Naruto asked hopefully.

"Oh, of course you can Naruto! Just make sure you and your friends are back here in time for dinner though." Tsunami pointed her wooden spoon in the blond's face, the blond flinched back as the spoon brought memories of Yoshino whacking his and Shikamaru's hands whenever they got too close to one of the pots while cooking dinner.

"You're the best Tsunami-chan!" Naruto smiled cheerfully at the woman and gently let Inari down, the little kid pouted a bit, but waved at the other ninja before he scurried into the house.

"I know, just don't work yourselves too hard!" Tsunami told the group who all shifted unsure how to respond to the warning.

"We won't, thank you!" Naruto said for the group and herded them away and into the forested area where the trees still had the kunai marks from his and Sasuke's tree climbing training.

"This is a very peaceful and beautiful place." Yugito commented as they stopped by a small sparkling lake.

"I thought it would be perfect for us to meditate, get to know each other and try out a new jutsu I found in my clan's library." Naruto smirked.

"What kind of jutsu?" Han questioned interested.

"An Uzumaki clan jutsu, the Nine-Tails has been housed inside an Uzumaki since the founding of Konoha." Naruto explained.

"Why was your clan the only bloodline that can be jinchūriki?" Roshi raised an eyebrow.

"Because of these." Naruto said simply and brought his arms up and his golden chakra chains extended from his body and weaved their way between the jinchūriki, not touching any of them.

"Whoa, are these made out of chakra?" Fuu questioned, amazed, touching one gingerly.

"They can restrain Tailed Beasts and pretty much anything else as well. Uzumakis also have large chakra reserves and sealing is in their blood so that combined with the chakra chains it makes the Uzumaki bloodline perfect to house a Tailed Beast." Naruto explained.

"That makes sense." Utakata said quietly.

"So, I found a jutsu in my clan's library that will make this meeting a lot easier for us all and if you want I can teach each of you the jutsu as it is surprisingly rather easy." Naruto offered.

"We shall see what the jutsu does first." Yugito commented and the others agreed with her words.

"Alright here we go! Kuchiyose: O-jū: Kurama!" Naruto made the needed hand seals after biting his thumb and he slammed his palm onto the ground, the group watched as a small puff of smoke appeared and sitting there was a small Nine-Tailed fox with an unimpressed look on his red furry face.

"What the hell brat? If you were going to use that jutsu you could at least have put more chakra into it so I wasn't the size of a cat!" Kurama growled as he flared his nine fox tails, annoyed.

"Sorry Kurama, I just thought it wouldn't be so obvious where we all were if there wasn't a towering Nine-Tailed fox that is supposed to be sealed within me appearing in the middle of the forest on a random island!" Naruto shot back.

"How did you do that? Can you show me?" B asked, excited at the idea of bringing out the Eight-Tails.

"It's like a summoning jutsu. However since the Tailed Beasts are sealed within us we don't need to sign any contract. Just add in the Tailed Beast's name at the end; the more chakra put into the jutsu the larger the Bijuu will become." Naruto explained and B grinned.

"Ah yeah! Kuchiyose: O-jū: Gyuki!" Killer B did the same thing as Naruto and a small version of the Eight-Tails appeared and smiled up at B.

Soon each jinchūriki had a chibi version of their Tailed Beast beside them. Fuu was cuddling Chomei, happy that her best friend was now tangible. Shukaku was on Gaara's shoulder, his giant tail wrapped gently around Gaara's neck as he rested his head on top of Gaara's red hair. Yugito was petting Matatabi's blue fur with her two tails twitching happily. Yagura had Isobu resting by his hand while Roshi and Son Goku were both smoking calmly. Kokuo was perched on Han's armored knee; Saiken and Utakata were blowing bubbles together in a silent competition. B and Gyuki were wrestling, B holding his own against the sucker covered tails of his partner. Naruto watched the others with a pleased smile on his lips as Kurama curled up on his lap, his tails wrapped around himself and Naruto's waist.

"Good idea, huh?" Naruto asked Kurama smugly.

"It wasn't horrible." Kurama grumbled.

"Oh Kurama you always say the nicest things." Naruto fluttered his eyelashes only to be bit on the hand by the irate fox. That got a snort from B, Gyuki, Shukaku, Gaara and Yagura. "Alright, now I think we need to talk about the Akatsuki and how we are going to deal with them this time around. As we speak Shikamaru should be taking out Hidan like he did in our future." Naruto said in his Kage voice.

"Good, bastard deserved to be taken out." Yugito grinned to match the Two-Tails' grin at hearing the news of Hidan.

The next while was spent with Naruto outlining his and Shikamaru's plan. Everyone was on board with the ideas.

"So, until I send for you all… I think it would be safest to leave shadow clones in your place and all of you join B on the Island Turtle." Naruto stated.

"That's a solid plan, it's a safe place for all of us, and while we are there we can achieve the same level of partnership and power you two have achieved with Gyuki and Kurama." Yagura agreed, gesturing to Naruto and Killer B.

"It would give us an advantage, if we were even close to being on par with you two." Gaara added and the others agreed, B beaming at the idea of having more of his siblings at what he considered his home.

"I'll talk A into letting us use it as a safe haven." B said, determined.

"What about you Naruto?" Fuu looked at the blond.

"I have to stay out here and work on taking out the Akatsuki members amongst other things." Naruto smiled reassuringly at the girl.

"Okay… just be careful." Fuu nuzzled her face into Chomei who buzzed his wings soothingly.

"I will. I promise." Naruto swore. "B, take this and put it in your house on the island." The blond gave Killer B a hiraishin sealed kunai; B understanding what it was took it without question with a silent promise to place it in his house. "Now I think we can do whatever we want until Inari comes to get us for dinner, just make sure not to freak him out when he comes to get us." Naruto ordered before he closed his eyes and focused alongside Kurama. He knew he couldn't reach Sage mode just yet, but he could still connect to his nature chakra and that alongside the Shodai's necklace pulsing chakra soothed the blond into a relaxed state.

Shikamaru was following Hidan who was approaching the same area he had been found in during their second encounter during his future timeline. Hidan had no idea that Shikamaru was trailing him; the Nara didn't make ANBU commander for nothing. Shikamaru was glad he wasn't impulsive otherwise he would have attacked Hidan the moment he saw him. Hidan hit the target point and Shikamaru sent out his shadow, easily catching the Jashin follower as he dropped down from the tree.

"What the fuck? Why can't I move?" Hidan shouted. Shikamaru had forgotten how much Hidan swore.

"That would be my doing, come on Hidan we have places to be." Shikamaru smirked and took off running towards the trap in the Nara forest. Hidan shouted swear words at the Nara as he was forced to follow the chunin. Shikamaru stopped in the perfect spot and turned to face Hidan who was still cursing a blue streak as he eyed the wires covered in paper bombs surrounding the clearing in the forest.

"Who the hell are you?" Hidan shouted angrily.

"The one who ends you!" Shikamaru stated with a smirk as he stretched out his shadows to attach to the wires and to Hidan's limbs.

"HA! I'm immortal, I can never die!" Hidan laughed insanely.

"That may be true, but that doesn't mean I can't end you." Shikamaru raised an arm. "Shadow Pull!"

Shikamaru watched as the paper bomb covered wires wrapped around Hidan's body, Shikamaru pulled out his tanto and threw it at the Nara clan symbol.

"What was that!?" Hidan shouted before a crack came from the clan symbol and the ground fell away to reveal the trap hole and the awaiting sealing scroll below his feet. Shikamaru stayed silent as he pulled out a cheap silver lighter and he flicked it open and watched with sorrow filled eyes as he flicked it a few times until the flame lit up.

"What are you going to do with that?" Hidan asked, panicked.

"See, I can't let you run away, surprisingly I need you for a plan later on." Shikamaru raised the lit lighter up. "Good-bye Hidan, you will never kill again." With those words Shikamaru tossed the lighter and watched as Hidan went up in flames as he screamed out in either pain or pleasure- Shikamaru wasn't sure with that nut case.

Shikamaru cut a wire and watched as Hidan dropped down into the hole and the scroll sealed his smoldering body away. He waited a few moments before he retrieved the scroll, placing it in his pack feeling very content. Hidan was gone and he would never kill Asuma or any one else ever again. Shikamaru felt like a weight was lifted off his shoulders as he walked away from the clearing and back to his house. He was heading straight towards his room, but was side tracked when Asuma appeared in front of him with an easy going smile and suddenly it was all worth it.

"There you are Shikamaru, I wanted to come by and congratulate you for making chunin alongside Naruto. I'm really proud of you ya know." Asuma scratched his head sheepishly.

"Asuma." Shikamaru breathed out before he shoved his hands into his pockets. "Do you want to play a game of shogi or watch some clouds together?"

"I'd like that Shikamaru." Asuma smiled and the two walked out to the porch and set up a game of shogi. "Let me tell you about the King, Shikamaru." Asuma looked up at his student. Shikamaru felt a smile come across his lips and listened to his sensei tell him about the King and the Will of Fire.

Chapter 19

"So overall I think yesterday went well." Naruto commented from his place in Shikamaru's room, a shogi board between the two.

"I'm surprised at how easy it was to take down Hidan, I expected a harder fight." Shikamaru said as he made his move against the blond.

"You knew all his tricks and how to defeat him without having to get close to him, plus you are a genius Shika." Naruto pointed out as he made his counter move. "The others should be with B on the island by now- minus Gaara, he said he had things to take care of back in Wind Country first."

"Then I think we need to talk about our next move… Jiraiya might be bringing up your three year training mission soon…" Shikamaru glanced up at the blond who was leaning against the wall behind him.

"I'm not sure we will be doing that this time around. He seems really happy with Baa-chan, Kakashi-sensei and myself at the Senju estate. There is no immediate threat like last time and we have two inside men on the Akatsuki and you just took out one of their members…" Naruto commented. "Even if he brought it up, I don't think I would agree to leave the village for that long of a time. I was gone for three years last time and I missed a lot of time with my precious people, I know everything and more than what Ero-Sennin could teach me so there would be no point in leaving."

"…However I think that we still need to take a little trip, hopefully not a three year long one." Shikamaru moved to counter Naruto's attack.

"Yeah I know, we can use Akira and Akito to get us out of the village and then we will proceed from there." Naruto sighed. "The things we do to keep a war from starting."

"I know, we are going to have to do a lot of explaining when we get back, it's going to be so troublesome." Shikamaru sighed. "Are you still set on becoming Hokage after we achieve our objective? Once we do, we won't know any events that could come to pass, so we don't need to fight like before."

"I'm not sure to be honest, I could wash my hands of it saying 'been there, done that.' Which is true, but I was thrust into it because the other Kages were killed and I was the only suitable choice…" Naruto said in a low and serious voice.

"…We will cross that bridge when we get there, just know that whatever you choose to do I will follow you." Shikamaru smiled and held his fist up.

"I would be lost without you at my side Shika." Naruto chuckled as he bumped his fist against the Nara's.

"Of course you would be, now prepare to lose!" Shikamaru smirked as he made his last move. Naruto yelled as he fell to the side dramatically.

"Sasuke!" Hiruzen blinked in surprise at the Uchiha that was standing on his doorstep.

"I've thought about what you said and I've reached a decision." Sasuke said looking up from under his bangs. The Sandaime watched the preteen silently as he seemed to steady himself for what he was about to say. "I've decided… I've decided I just want my Nii-San back, I want to get strong enough so he won't have to put himself in danger to protect me. I need to get stronger so he can come home and we can be a family again. I will not fault all of Konoha for the mistake of one mad man as long as he is dealt with." Sasuke said with steel in his voice and in his eyes.

"I'm glad that is your decision Sasuke. If you would like, as I'm no longer Hokage I have some free time on my hands and I would be honored if you would become my student." Hiruzen held out a hand in an offer.

Sasuke, looking stunned- but pleased- by the outcome of the talk with the Sandaime, took the older man's hand and shook it firmly and with conviction in his onyx eyes.

"I will train my hardest." Sasuke said firmly.

"That's all I can ask for, now if you want to wait a moment for this old man to get changed we could start today?" Hiruzen had to bite back a laugh at the 'excited puppy' look Sasuke was sporting.

"I can wait." Sasuke said, trying to play it off coolly much to his new mentor's amusement.

"Are you two sure you want to do this?" Tsunade asked the redheaded twins in front of her, the Hokage hat sitting on the back corner of her chair. On the desk in front of her was a file outlining a training mission and then two personal files for Shikamaru Nara and Naruto Uzumaki.

"We are, these two with enough training can change everything horrible we have seen in our visions." Akira stated firmly as he and Akito stood before the Godaime, putting the next part of the plan into motion.

"If you are completely sure, then as Hokage I approve of this training mission… You still have to get past all the people who are extremely protective of Naruto and Shikamaru, if you can survive that then you are worthy to bring the two out of the village." Tsunade chuckled as the two redheads paled at the task set for them.

Getting the approval of parents/guardians/pseudo-siblings.

It would be by far the hardest mission the two would ever have to face in any lifetime.

"Lady Hokage." Akito bowed his head before the two left the office.

"We are doomed." Akira stated simply, pausing to bang his head against the wall across from the door.

"Who do you want to visit first?" Akito asked, dragging his twin out of the tower.

"Well Naruto and Shikamaru are still at the Nara compound, so we should visit them last. I guess we need to face Jiraiya, Kakashi and Iruka first." Akira shuddered at the mere idea as they adjusted their course to head towards the Senju estate where the three chakra signatures were located at the moment.

"I don't think we can do this without making them suspicious…" Akira trailed off and went to grab Akito by the back of his cloak to pull him away from the front door, but Akito reached out and banged on the door with a smirk at Akira.

"We managed to get Lady Tsunade's permission, I think we can handle this." Akito scolded as Jiraiya opened the door, he grinned at the two redheads.

"Akira, Akito! Nice to see you both!" Jiraiya boomed and escorted the two inside the house and into the foyer where Kakashi and a blushing Iruka entered a few moments after.

"You as well." Akira nodded at Jiraiya and smiled happily at how well the Sannin looked nowadays.

"We are to assume there is a reason behind your visit?" Kakashi spoke up eyeing the two with his one visible eye.

"You are correct Kakashi, we have already spoken with Lady Hokage about this, but we wanted to get your approval as well." Akito spoke up, both the redheads suddenly looking serious about what they are about to say.

"We were approved for a training mission, the two of us will be training Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara for the foreseeable future." Akira said, his voice steady and serious. The two waited for the reactions from the three ninja in front of them and they were not disappointed.

Jiraiya's jaw dropped before he snapped it shut and studied the two with a serious look in his eyes. Kakashi's visible eye narrowed and you could faintly make out the stern line of his lips being pressed together from underneath his mask while Iruka just looked at the two redheads with wide eyes as he tried to understand.

"Why do you want to take them on a training mission?" Kakashi asked. "What do you think you could teach them that they could not learn here?"

"We have foreseen a war, Naruto and Shikamaru are pivotal characters in it, but they are uneducated and are not properly prepared for the horrors of what the enemy will unleash. We can give them the training they need to win this war before it takes its toll on the five nations." Akito spoke up, having foreseen this type of questioning from the three in front of them.

"I was considering taking Naruto on a training trip, why don't I come along?" Jiraiya offered.

"No, you are needed here in Konoha. You are in the middle of re-building a life here and after all, the shinobi here need someone powerful to teach them how to fight and survive properly." Akira shook his head, almost a bit desperately. He wanted his godfather nowhere near the battles that he knew were going to be taking place during the 'training mission'.

"You will protect them?" Iruka asked, eyes cold and hard as he studied the twins. The two gulped silently, reminded why no one messed with Iruka-sensei.

"We will lay down our own lives to protect them." Akira said firmly.

"We will also fight to make sure we do not die so we can keep protecting them." Akito finished and Iruka nodded sharply sitting back in his seat.

"Can't argue with that." Kakashi scratched his chin giving his own consent.

"Naruto and Shikamaru will be in contact with us, if I do not hear anything from them after a month I will leave the village and find you." Jiraiya promised.

"Fair enough, thank you." Akira inclined his head and the duo stood up giving the group their good-byes.

"Going to talk to the Naras now? Good luck." Jiraiya waved cheerfully at the two before he shut the door on the slightly terrified look on the twin's faces.

"That went better than expected…" Akira mused as the two leapt roof to roof towards the Nara compound.

"This one will be harder than that." Akito grumbled, dread in his words.

"…What?" Akira blinked in shock at Shikaku and Yoshino Nara.

"We will allow you two to take Shika and Naruto out on the training mission of yours." Yoshino repeated her husband's words, amused at the looks on the redhead's faces.

"Just protect them and teach them well." Shikaku stated as he got up from his kneeling position and went over to the sliding door. He slid it open and smirked when Naruto and Shikamaru (who was dragged by the blond) came tumbling in.

"Ahaha?" Naruto rubbed his neck sheepishly while Shikamaru looked impassive about being caught.

"Pack your bags boys, you are going on a training mission with Akira and Akito. Be on your best behavior and learn everything you can." Shikaku said and the two newly minted chunin grinned at the occupants of the room before they scurried away to their (basically) shared room to start to pack.

"Keep our boys safe, that is all we're asking." Yoshino stood up gracefully moving to her husband's side.

"We swear we will." The twins said in unison gaining two nods of approval before the heads of the Nara clan left the room.

"…Well that was easier than anyone could have predicted…" Akira trailed off as the two got to their feet and headed towards the entrance of the compound.

"Hmm." Akito agreed eyebrows furrowed in thought as the two walked towards their apartment.

"Do you think they're onto us?" Akira asked in a very low tone of voice.

"We won't know until much later." Akito sighed eyebrows unfurrowing.

"We will worry about that later, right now we have some last minute tweaks to make to our plans before we leave tomorrow morning." Akira waved his hand as the two climbed the steps to their apartment.

"Tch, why do you guys get to go on a training mission with Akira and Akito-senseis?" Kiba huffed crossing his arms, his eyes conveying the sadness that he was actually feeling about his two friends leaving the village for an unknown amount of time. "Because we're just awesome like that, don't be jealous." Naruto teased Kiba as he gave a farewell scratch between the ears to Akamaru.

Shikamaru and Naruto were at the front gates surrounded by their friends and family, both were wearing standard shinobi outfits as were Akira and Akito. They wore black shinobi pants, sandals, long sleeved shirts, green flak jackets, and forehead protectors.

"This is going to be so troublesome." Shikamaru sighed as he adjusted his backpack as he smiled at Team 10. Choji was making short work of the bag of chips he held while Ino had one of her blue eyes covered with her blonde bangs completely and the other eye looked glassy while Asuma stood behind the two his eyes looking wise and full of worry and sadness as he stared at his student. "I'll be alright, no need to worry. We'll be back soon and I'll teach you guys some of the stuff we learned. Look after them would you Asuma-sensei?" Shikamaru promised and was surprised when Ino threw herself into his arms for a hug.

"Idiot, don't you dare die!" She whispered in his ear before she backed off to stand by Choji and Asuma once more.

"Like I would, that would be bothersome." Shikamaru smirked and exchanged a brief hug with Choji before Asuma placed his hand on Shikamaru's head.

"Be careful kid, when you get back we'll have to spar." Asuma smiled, no cigarette between his lips for once.

"Then you better keep training old man." Shikamaru teased and Asuma just laughed joyfully, the sound making Shikamaru's heart hurt a bit before he backed off to be fussed over by his father and mother.

Naruto was in a similar position between his godfather, surrogate older brother and great aunt. He was just glowing with happiness while the rest of his team, team 8 and team Gai stood nearby.

"We'll be just fine Baa-chan, Ero-Sennin, Kashi-nii!" Naruto assured the three that were by him.

"Somehow that doesn't reassure me at all." Jiraiya muttered only for Naruto's smile to grow larger.

"Naruto… When you get back I'll be stronger I promise!" Sakura said with determination shining in her eyes and Tsunade gave a small smile at the sight of her student.

"I know you will be Sakura-chan! We'll be an unstoppable team!" Naruto surprised her by pulling her into a tight hug; she surprised everyone else by hugging him back.

"Don't slack off on your training, dobe. We'll have a fight to see who improved the most when you get back." Sasuke stepped forward, Hiruzen standing behind his student puffing on his pipe.

"Don't be too disappointed when I cream you with some unstoppable jutsu I learn, teme." Naruto smirked back at the Uchiha; the two exchanged firm yet friendly handshakes. 'I'll bring back Itachi to the village for you Sasuke.' Naruto thought determinedly.

"G-Good luck N-Naruto-kun." Hinata said fiddling with her fingers as she smiled shyly at her crush.

"Thanks Hina-chan, don't worry about me!" Naruto said in a soft voice and watched as her face turned a bright red. She couldn't speak, but she nodded rapidly before fainting into Kurenai's shoulder. The jounin just smiled at Naruto wishing him luck before Naruto turned to Shino and gave the usually quiet ninja a thumbs-up and was rewarded with a nod.

"Grow strong Naruto!" Lee gave his blond friend a thumbs up.

"You better learn how to use that katana, I want a match when you come back." Tenten pointed at Raijin, which was attached to Naruto's hip.

"You're on!" Naruto grinned at her. Neji stepped forward holding out his hand. The blond smiled and stated, "We'll have a proper spar when I get back, I'm looking forward to seeing how you go forward on your own path." He shook Neji's hand, earning a small smile from the Hyuuga while Gai just cried about the beauty of Youth and Friendship.

While Naruto was saying goodbye to the teams, Shikamaru did the exact same thing and the two stood beside Akira and Akito as the ninja on duty opened the gate for them to leave the village. The group waved at the gathered group as the people staying behind waved and shouted their goodbyes at them.

"Everything is beginning." Shikamaru muttered as the four sped off into the surrounding forest outside the gates.

"When we come back so much will have changed, I hope they are going to be ready." Naruto muttered. "…Think we'll survive this time around?" Naruto asked quietly as the two moved farther away from their home.

"If we don't we're taking the bastards with us." Shikamaru said seriously.

"You know it." The two exchanged fist bumps and fell into companionable silence.

When they were far enough away from the village the four stopped in a clearing, the chunin made hand signs and two permanent shadow clones of themselves appeared by Akira and Akito.

"Go off and have a 'training mission', remember to write home, don't get caught and destroy all of the remaining snake nests." Naruto ordered the shadow clones in his Kage voice, the four nodded and leapt off in the direction of the closest village. "Time to change, we are too recognizable in these outfits… besides, we are going to win a war before it begins… We need to look good!" Naruto whined and Shikamaru rolled his eyes fondly before the two focused and used an Uzumaki clan henge to change to their own preferences.

They both were sixteen once more; they knew what they were about to do could not be done as 13 year olds and the Uzumaki henge brought the two up to the age they were most powerful at.

Naruto was wearing his black and dull orange jumpsuit with black sandals, his forehead protector under his blond bangs with the black ties flowing down his back. He had a short-sleeved red cloak with black flames and Raijin attached across his lower back where most chunin had their tantos. He had orange wraps around his ankles and wrists to help stabilize his chakra chains.

Shikamaru had a green outlined mesh showing from underneath his black shinobi pants between the cuff and his black sandals. He had Asuma's trench knives attached to his belt alongside the numerous pockets that lined his waist. Instead of a green flak jacket he wore a wide collared, grey sleeveless hooded cloak that flared out behind him like Naruto's did. Under the cloak he had a plain sleeveless black crew cut shirt. He had his own katana slung across his back and black armored fingerless gloves that stopped at his elbows.

Chapter 20

Naruto was sitting cross-legged in the shade of a large tree, focusing on the energy around him, doing his best to pinpoint the location of Nagato, Konan, and the Path of Pain version of Yahiko.

Shikamaru was perched on a tree branch high above Naruto keeping watch on the area. His eyes were directed upwards when he felt a spike of familiar chakra and the following stream of sand that was headed towards him. Shikamaru smirked and held his hand up, letting the sand swirl around his wrist and forearm, letting two things settle in his open palm. The sand attached to Shikamaru's skin while the chunin looked at the two scrolls in his hand. One of the scrolls had the name 'Sasori' and the other one had 'Deidara'. Shikamaru felt his lips turn up into a grin as things were moving along nicely.

"Tell Gaara thanks and to await our call for the final battle. Until then stay safe and hidden." Shikamaru told the sand that shifted before it slid off his skin and flew in the direction it came.

"Got them, huh. Same place as last time…" Naruto called from his spot as he came out of his trance making Shikamaru drop down next to the blond.

"That makes things easier. Oh, and Gaara dropped off a present for us." Shikamaru showed Naruto the two scrolls that had the sealed bodies of Sasori and Deidara in them.

"Only a few more." Naruto murmured as Shikamaru put the scroll next to the one containing Hidan.

"How are you going to get Nagato to listen to you this time around?" Shikamaru asked as the two leapt tree to tree towards the location Naruto discovered.

"Same as last time, he'll listen to me. He's an Uzumaki, all he wants is peace and he believes in Ero-Sennin's ideal of peace." Naruto said. "Do you want me to come in with you?" Shikamaru asked quietly as the two looked at the tree that was housing their targets, masterfully created by Konan.

"…Yeah, I think it's a good idea." Naruto said after a moment of thought.

"I'll let you do most of the talking though." Shikamaru smirked and Naruto rolled his eyes.

"Let's do this." Naruto said seriously and stepped forward and passed through the barrier easily, followed by Shikamaru both of them holding their hands up in the universal gesture of surrender.

"Who are you? How did you find us?" A female voice called out as paper swirled to show Konan, her usual paper flower in her hair.

"We're not here to fight, we just want to talk. I'm Naruto Uzumaki and this is Shikamaru Nara. We mean you and Nagato no harm, we just wish to talk." Naruto said soothingly and Pain appeared in front of the duo looking at the two of them intently.

"What do you wish to talk about Leaf shinobi?" Yahiko spoke, eyes narrowing.

"It's just a bit unnerving to be talking to Yahiko's body, can the real you come out to talk Nagato?" Naruto rubbed his head awkwardly. Konan blinked in surprise, Pain inspected the duo once more before he swiftly moved to the side and a swirl of paper exposed Nagato to the two, his red hair limp and covering half his face, his visible eye staring them down with curiosity. "Nice to see you cousin." Naruto smiled cheerfully at Nagato.

"Who are you, Naruto Uzumaki?" Nagato rasped out.

"Good question." Naruto muttered to himself. Shikamaru just nudged the blond and raised his eyebrows. "We both truly want the same thing. We both want this cycle of hatred to end and for the world to be at peace." Naruto said his feelings on the matter seeping into his tone of voice.

"The ninja world is ruled by hatred! There is no such thing as real peace! It's impossible as long as we're living in this accursed world!" Nagato shouted at the blond, his form trembling.

"Then I will break the cycle! If there's such a thing as peace, I will find it! I won't give up!" Naruto quoted the Legend of the Gutsy Ninja; the book Jiraiya dedicated to Nagato who inspired him. Nagato looked shocked at the words from Naruto as he remembered a younger version of himself telling Jiraiya the exact same words in the past with the same amount of determination. "My name is Naruto, so my name is a precious memento of him! I can't just give up and stomp on this memento! I'll make sure there's peace for Water Country, too! Believe in me!" Naruto clenched his fists in front of his torso, his blue eyes on fire as he spoke with passion.

"I don't know if I can believe in what Jiraiya believed in or in the man himself, but you have chosen a different path than myself and in you I can see a different, a better future so I will believe in you Naruto Uzumaki." Nagato lowered his head after a few moments of thought at what the blond had said.

"Thank you Nagato, but we need your help. I know you both want peace, you want a life together, all three of you and you all do miss Jiraiya. Nagato you are an Uzumaki like me, we are family, please help us." Naruto stepped forward, Shikamaru guarding his flank out of reflex.

"…We will help you Naruto Uzumaki… My cousin, now your plan?" Nagato swore his loyalty to Naruto and Konan agreed just as quickly.

Naruto and Shikamaru exchanged victorious grins before they explained their plan completely to the two and by the end of it Konan was hiding a grin and a weak smile was crossing Nagato's face.

"So you don't mind lending one of your paths of Pain?" Shikamaru asked and Nagato slowly shook his head.

"Not at all." Nagato said with a smile at the thought of who he was giving that path up for.

"What is the next step?" Konan asked seriously.

"Well first we have to hunt down Kakuzu, but from what I'm sensing he's close by." Naruto said after closing his eyes briefly.

"Do you think you can move from here?" Shikamaru eyed the contraption Nagato was attached to.

"I'm very weak, I will be able to control my paths, but nothing more." Nagato admitted, hating his own weakness.

"Ah, yeah I have an idea about that. I found this kinjutsu in the clan library Baa-chan has, I think this may be of assistance." Naruto pulled out another scroll.

"Do it." Nagato nodded his head and Naruto knelt in front of Nagato and placed the scroll between his lips and made the hand sign of the ram. He closed his eyes and focused his chakra, letting it curl around him and Nagato.

"Uzumaki Kinjutsu: Body Restoration." Naruto bit down on the scroll with all his jaw strength and his chakra blinded Konan and Shikamaru briefly. When the two looked back they saw Naruto standing on his feet looking extremely pleased with himself. In front of him was a man with red hair covering his face, the same age as Konan, and had black piercings on either side of his chin leading up to his lips. His skin was no longer wrinkled and old, he was young and in his prime.

"Nagato?" Konan edged closer to her best friend worriedly as Nagato examined his hands and his body.

"I can't believe this." Nagato spoke, even his voice sounded younger and less weighed down.

"Believe it cuz." Naruto beamed. "Our clan are utter geniuses, trust me on this."

"How long will this last?" Nagato curled his fingers and toes happily.

"For as long as you live, like I said utter geniuses, OH! Here tie these on and focus your chakra into them. I think you will like what happens next." Naruto grinned and helped Nagato wrap red-as-his-hair wrappings on Nagato's wrists. Naruto stepped back as Nagato raised his right hand and watched amazed as golden chakra chains erupted from him and hit the wall in front of him.

"Uzumaki clan bloodline I guess." Naruto flicked his wrists, showing his own orange-red chains.

"This is impressive… Well, shall we go win a war?" Nagato let his chains disappear. He smiled at Konan who beamed back and Shikamaru laughed as Naruto jumped for joy. Konan let the paper tree disappear around them and with a nod from Naruto, the five were off towards Kakuzu's chakra.

"Everyone know the plan?" Naruto whispered to the group around him, each determined in their own way as Kakuzu walked down the path in the forest.

"Yes." The group nodded before darting off to take up their positions.

Moments passed, the only sound was the wind rustling the leaves and birds chirping as they took flight. Suddenly dirt colored paper wrapped itself tightly around Kakuzu's feet, encasing them completely. At the same time golden chains shot out and wrapped around Kakuzu's arms holding them out to the side. Kakuzu's green eyes narrowed before the high-pitched sound of wind filled the area. Naruto leapt into view holding a rasenshuriken in his right palm and he rushed towards Kakuzu pouring more chakra into the attack.

"Fuuton: Rasenshuriken!" Naruto shouted as he slammed the ball of chakra into Kakuzu's chest, pleased as his heightened hearing distinctly heard three heartbeats stop. He darted out of the way as Shikamaru appeared from his spot behind Kakuzu with his own version of the rasengan in his right hand. The blue swirling chakra was offset by black shadows.

"Kage: Rasengan!" He slammed the ball of chakra into Kakuzu's back, killing the last two hearts. Shikamaru kicked the dead body towards Naruto as Nagato and Konan let Kakuzu go and he was sealed into the scroll Naruto had at the ready.

"Simple and effective." Naruto grinned as he put the scroll with the other three.

"The next step then?" Konan asked, interlacing her fingers with Nagato looking more at peace than she had ever looked.

"Time to reunite with a certain Uchiha." Shikamaru nodded his head and the group leapt into the trees once more following Naruto's sensory abilities.

"Yo Itachi, how ya doing there, fishy?" Naruto greeted as he and Shikamaru dropped down a few feet in front of Itachi and Kisame who were resting by a stream.

"Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara I presume." Itachi looked at the two new arrivals not surprised at their entrance. Kisame grunted and gave Naruto the stink eye, still feeling sore about the whole chakra chains incident and 'fishy' nickname.

"Is it time?" Itachi asked as he rose up from his spot perched on a flat rock by the stream.

"Yes, Kisame you can opt out now if you want to or you can help us." Naruto turned serious as he looked at the blue skinned man.

"…I'm done, I'm not gonna fight a war. I'll stay out of your way and come to annoy Itachi now and then after this is all over." Kisame decided and Itachi nodded his head accepting his partner's decision.

"Goodbye Kisame." Itachi said and Kisame just laughed before he walked across the surface of the stream and took off in the opposite direction of the group.

"Welcome to the group Itachi." Naruto grinned as Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko came into view.

"…You are a mystery Naruto Uzumaki." Itachi sighed, taking in the group. At Shikamaru's request they henged their clothes to plain shinobi clothing and the red clouds on their cloaks disappeared signaling they were no longer Akatsuki.

"Take your time to unravel me." Naruto said cheekily, pleased that Itachi wasn't questioning his sudden jump in age. "In the meantime, we have some people to bring back."

"Konan-chan, can you create a shrine for us?" Shikamaru asked, turning to the blue-haired Ame nin, she nodded and raised her arms in front of her. Her hands turned to paper and it swirled around the group and took the form of a shrine. Shikamaru nodded his thanks and together he and Naruto went to work on getting everything ready.

"Are you sure you want to be the one to do this, you know I can take your place." Naruto asked Shikamaru as the Nara readied himself for what was to come.

"I'm sure Naruto, in case this goes wrong you need to be able to fight on. Promise me that you will save this world." Shikamaru looked Naruto in the eyes determinedly, Naruto swallowed hard.

"I promise, just don't let anything go wrong. I need my brother by my side." Naruto and Shikamaru leaned their foreheads against each other while they clutched at the other's forearm before Naruto backed up to join Itachi, Konan, and Nagato.

Shikamaru knelt down by the fuinjutsu circles that held the scrolls of Sasori, Deidara, Hidan, Kakuzu and one path of Pain while Yahiko's body stood nearby in another circle with different symbols. The Nara let out a breath of air and nodded at Nagato.

"Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei." Shikamaru shouted.

"Kuchiyose: Edo Rinne Tensei!" Nagato shouted at the same time as Shikamaru and the shrine Konan created was engulfed with chakra and whipping winds as the floor shook and split apart. Naruto threw his arms up in front of his face, squinting his eyes at the place Shikamaru had been standing, trying to use his heightened senses to see what was happening.

"A Jashin user as a sacrifice for Minato Namikaze, I am impressed Shikamaru Nara. I will grant your jutsu success." A voice echoed inside of Shikamaru's head, it must have been the Shinigami. Sure enough, the scrolls and path of Pain disappeared leaving five people standing in their places.

The wind and chakra died down to show Shikamaru with a satisfied smirk on his face.

"Did it work?" Konan whispered her eyes trained on Yahiko.

"My head hurts…" Yahiko groaned, rubbing his forehead and looking around in shock.

"Y-Yahiko? Are you really here?" Konan gasped out, stumbling forward, hand interlaced with Nagato's dragging him forward as well.

"Konan? Nagato?" Yahiko gasped out rushing to meet the other two, the three met in a hug and tears streamed down their cheeks as the three Ame ninja reunited with each other.

Naruto swallowed hard as he looked at the Edo Tensei forms of his parents.

"Dad? Mom?" Naruto whispered, walking towards the Yondaime Hokage and his wife. "N-Naruto?" Kushina gasped out, covering her mouth as she looked at Minato and back to the teenager in front of her.

"Hi." Naruto blinked rapidly to stop tears from falling.

"Oh my baby boy!" Kushina rushed forward and wrapped her arms around her son tightly, burying her face in his spiky blond hair while Naruto clung to his mother with all his being, the two slumping down to the floor. He glanced up from her shoulder to see Minato kneeling down in front of him, his eyes alight with emotions.

"Naruto, I'm so sorry." Minato whispered, running his fingers through Naruto's bangs.

"Don't be, dad! Kurama is the best and it would be so weird if he was never sealed inside of me, so thank you!" Naruto grinned at his father who gave a watery smile before he joined the hug.

Shikamaru smiled at the family reunion before he turned his gaze to the remaining people in the room.

"Does the back of his cloak say the Yondaime Hokage?" Tobirama asked, eyeing the writing on the back of Minato's cloak.

"A fourth Hokage, excellent!" Hashirama laughed joyfully, his arms around Mito Uzumaki his wife as the two lovers reunited.

"Actually we have a Godaime Hokage now." Shikamaru spoke up drawing the Nidaime and Shodai's attentions.

"Really?" Hashirama asked excitedly.

"Tsunade Senju." Shikamaru reported and bit back a laugh at the deflated look Hashirama got and the laughter Mito let escape from her lips.

"How is the village still standing?" He muttered and Shikamaru smothered a snort, knowing full well what the Shodai was referring to.

"Who are you two?" Tobirama asked eyeing Itachi and Shikamaru.

"Itachi Uchiha." Itachi said plainly not caring at the glare he got from the Nidaime.

"Shikamaru Nara. I am sure you all have questions as to why you have been brought back to life." Shikamaru bowed in respect to the past Hokages.

"Shikamaru is right, we have no time to waste." Naruto spoke up as he extracted himself from the smothering hug Kushina and Minato had him in. "I am Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, and we have a war to win."

Chapter 21

"A war?" Minato's head snapped to look at his son, on guard.

"Kind of…" Shikamaru rubbed his neck before he sighed.

"What nations are involved?" Hashirama asked worriedly.

"…It won't involve any nations if we have any say in it. It will however involve Madara Uchiha, Obito Uchiha, Black and White Zetsu and the Goddess Kaguya. Trust us, they can and will destroy the five nations if they get the chance. We are here to stop them before they can." Naruto said, his voice dark and firm.

"Madara Uchiha, huh?" Hashirama ran a hand over his face as he absorbed the words.

"Obito? Obito is dead, Naruto." Minato spoke up confused, his voice sad as he spoke of his dead student.

"He did not die that day, he was found by Madara Uchiha and Zetsu. His mind was warped and filled with hatred, he unfortunately saw Kakashi kill Rin and he was overcome by her death without knowing the reason behind it. He let himself be completely taken over by Madara and Zetsu's teachings. He is still in there and can be reached, but it will be difficult." Naruto explained gravely.

"If the Obito I knew is still there then I will get him back." Minato said, eyes flashing showing his determination.

"Now I know where you get it from." Shikamaru whispered to Naruto, the blond just elbowed the Nara.

"This is going to be an undercover operation, no nation is to find out about what is going to happen in the next hours. In time they will become the Allied Shinobi Forces, but I rather it not happen during a war." Naruto made eye contact with each person in the room seeing agreement and some confusion to his words there.

"Hiruzen Sarutobi, my student. Is he here?" Tobirama spoke up suddenly.

"Oh, Jiji? He is still back in the village with Ero-Sennin and Baa-chan; I believe he is currently training Sasuke." Naruto said and Tobirama relaxed hearing his student was alive and well. "Speaking of Sasuke, don't worry about him anymore Itachi. He knows the truth about the Uchiha Massacre and is training to get stronger so you can come home to him, so you don't have to be a missing nin to protect him any longer." Naruto explained; Itachi blinked in shock at Naruto's words before he smiled a bit. Minato growled at the mention of a massacre and muttered under his breath about Danzo.

"You should get the others, we'll meet you at the battlefield." Shikamaru spoke up and Naruto nodded as he pulled out a three-pronged kunai with a hiraishin seal on the handle. He handed it to Shikamaru who attached it to his belt beside Asuma's trench knives and stepped away from the blond.

"I'll meet you at the battlefield Shika." Naruto gave Shikamaru an ANBU salute before he disappeared in a flash of yellow and orange.

"That was the hiraishin!" Kushina gasped as he looked at her husband who was staring at the three-pronged kunai on Shikamaru's belt.

"Naruto learned it?" Minato asked Shikamaru.

"Not only did he master the hiraishin, he mastered the rasengan in a week and then perfected it by adding in his own Fuuton nature." Shikamaru said, bragging about his Hokage.

"Naruto." Minato smiled bright and proudly.

"Konan-san, could you bring down the shrine? We need to get moving." Shikamaru turned to the Ame woman who nodded and held her arms up. The shrine around the group turned to pieces of paper that reattached themselves to her outstretched arms, the former Hokages looking impressed.

Shikamaru then led the group down a path in the forest towards the battlefield.

"Who did Naruto go to get?" Kushina asked as she held hands with her husband, happy she could be near him once more.

"The rest of the jinchūriki." Shikamaru said and chuckled internally at the frozen forms of those around him.

"The rest of the jinchūriki? You mean…" Tobirama trailed off.

"All nine of them, it will be a sight to see them all fighting together. I mean watching Naruto and Kurama fighting in their shroud is a sight to behold, but the others should also have mastered their own shrouds by now." Shikamaru rambled enjoying this a bit too much as he herded the group further down the road.

"How? Each Tailed Beast is locked within a jinchūriki with no way to communicate, more so the Beasts will be in a rage if they are released." Mito spoke up, speaking from experience as the first jinchūriki for the Kyuubi.

"A lot has changed Uzumaki-Senju-sama." Shikamaru said respectfully. "The Tailed Beasts are on our side and each one has a relationship with their jinchūriki, just be glad they are on our side this time around."

"What do you mean by 'this time around?'" Itachi spoke up, mind whirring.

"When we finish this battle Naruto and I will explain everything, now stand back." Shikamaru pulled the kunai from his belt and threw it into the ground a far bit from the stopped group as the seal started to heat up and glow. The group had stopped on a cliff overlooking a barren field; the same field the final battle had taken place in Shikamaru and Naruto's timeline. It was fitting that they would win in this place.

The seal flashed and a dust cloud appeared as nine figures suddenly appeared in blurs of colors.

"I think I may throw up." A young female voice made its way to the assembled group.

"Naruto I am going to give you a first hand experience of my Sand Burial." Gaara growled.

"Ah come on you guys! A group hiraishin wasn't that bad!" Naruto laughed only to get growls in return as the dust settled. Naruto walked back towards the other group of nin with a huge smile on his lips. A small version of Kurama sat on the blond's head with his nine tails flared up behind him.

"We're back! Let me introduce everyone! Well first off this is Kurama the Nine-Tails! Say 'hi' Kurama." Naruto pointed at the red fox on his head.

"Bite me." Kurama deadpanned digging his claws into the blond's head amused at the horrified looks he was getting from the previously deceased shinobi.

"He's not a people person." Naruto explained, not wincing at stinging on his scalp.

"Naruto, are you sure having the Nine-Tails out like this is a good idea?" Kushina asked worried for her son's safety and confused at how it was possible that he was outside of the seal like this.

"It's fine mom, trust me on this. Kurama is just a big fuzzball and he loovvesss me." Naruto sang, poking Kurama's cheek.

"I will bite your finger off you brat." Kurama growled only for Naruto to laugh. Kushina still looked worried until Minato put his hand on her shoulder.

"I trust Naruto and if he trusts the Nine-Tails then I trust… Kurama. Thank you for taking care of my son." Minato turned a smile on the Nine-Tails; Kurama huffed and flared his tails in acknowledgement.

"This is Hashirama Senju the Shodai Hokage and his wife and first jinchūriki of Kurama Mito Uzumaki." Naruto pointed at the two for the benefit of the jinchūriki. "Next is the Nidaime Hokage, Tobirama Senju, then we have the Yondaime Hokage Minato Namikaze, my dad, and my mom Kushina Uzumaki the Nine-Tails' jinchūriki before me. Over here we have Itachi Uchiha, then that is Nagato Uzumaki, Konan and Yahiko of Ame who are all on our side now. Finally we have Shikamaru Nara, some of you may know him." Naruto finished the introduction.

"Hey there Shikamaru!" B waved at the Nara while Gaara came over and clasped forearms with the Nara with a smile on his lips.

"We can introduce ourselves Naruto." Yagura spoke up with the others agreeing.

"Whatever you say midget." Naruto smirked.

"I am Yondaime Mizukage remember? I am not a midget!" Yagura's eyebrow twitched.

"You should know you can't pull rank with me." Naruto shot back smirking and the Mizukage threw his hands up in defeat.

"We will start with one and work our way to nine, understood?" Gaara spoke up.

"Whatever you say, oh Godaime Kazekage." Naruto mock bowed before he dodged a swipe of sand from the redhead.

"I am Sabaku no Gaara of Suna, the future Godaime Kazekage." Gaara intoned as the huge tail of Shukaku moved from its place draped around the redhead's shoulder and the head of the One Tail appeared.

"I am the mighty Shukaku the One-Tail!" Shukaku tried to roar, but it came out more high pitched and squeaky.

"Oh so mighty Shukaku!" Kurama roared with laughter from Naruto's head. Gaara just sighed as he was used to Shukaku by this point.

"I'm Yugito Nii of Kumo." Yugito bowed, her respect for the Kages kicking in from her jounin training.

"I am Matatabi, the Two-Tails." Matatabi purred out from her place by Yugito's feet, her two blue tails weaving in and around Yugito's ankles.

"I am Yagura of Kiri and the Yondaime Mizukage." Yagura inclined his head to the past Konoha Hokages.

"I am Isobu the Three-Tails, Yagura's partner." The turtle beast also nodded his head to the past Hokages from his place on Yagura's forearm where he was resting.

"Name's Roshi of Iwa and this guy is Son Goku the Four-Tails." Roshi said between puffs of smoke as he had been smoking when Naruto had come to bring them to battle, Son Goku puffing away by Roshi's feet.

"I am Han of Iwa, pleased to meet you all." Han didn't remove his hand from the front of his kimono, as it was habit to keep it there.

"I am Han's partner the Five-Tails Kokuo." Kokuo was resting on the bent elbow of Han's right arm.

"Utakata, a missing nin from Kiri." Utakata sent a glance at the Mizukage who just rolled his eyes and waved his hand dismissively about Utakata being a missing nin.

"I am Saiken, the Six-Tails." Saiken introduced himself between blowing his bubbles from Utakata's shoulder.

"Nice to meet you all! I'm Fuu of Taki! This is Chomei the Seven-Tails and my best friend in the whole world!" Fuu grinned, hugging the form of Chomei tightly to her chest, nuzzling her cheek against his face.

"YO! I'm Killer B of the Land of Lightning and this here is the Eight-Tails, Gyuki! We are brothers from another mother." B started to rap, but Naruto shot forward and slapped his hand over B's mouth laughing nervously. Gyuki shook his head from his place on B's broad shoulder.

"Sorry to say B, but this is not the time to rap." Naruto said and B nodded solemnly remembering why they were all there.

"That's everyone!" Naruto clapped his hands together bringing attention back to himself and Shikamaru.

"Not quite." Shikamaru reminded his Hokage.

"Oh yeah I almost forgot!" Naruto grinned, rubbing his neck.

"Sometimes I swear I don't know why I follow you." Shikamaru smacked his palm against his forehead.

"Because we're brothers, because we are survivors and because we want peace." Naruto said sagely.

"Then you go and remind me." Shikamaru smiled fondly before Naruto skipped over to a clearing a little ways away from the group, Kurama clinging at the blond hair as they moved.

"What is he doing now?" Hashirama asked Shikamaru curiously as he stood beside the Nara.

"Filling our ranks." Shikamaru stated with a smirk as he kept his eyes trained on the blond who was performing a series of hand signs.

"Those hand seals." Mito muttered in shock.

"An Uzumaki kinjutsu." Kushina breathed out. "I've read about it, but I've never seen anyone use it before."

"Kinjutsu?" Minato said alarmed and his eyes darted over to his son who just slammed his bloodied palm against the ground by his feet.

"That's because even Uzumakis and their large chakra reserves do not have enough chakra to perform the jutsu successfully, not only that the user needs to have an extremely strong emotional connection to the ones they are summoning and they need a strong mind and will to keep it together." Mito explained and this only upped the worry for Minato and Kushina.

"Uzumaki Kinjutsu: Complete Memory Reflection." Naruto shouted and the whole area surrounding him was engulfed in smoke. The smoke cleared enough to show Naruto standing with his arms crossed, a pleased look on his face. "Fall in!" He shouted.

"Sir!" Numerous male and female voices and one bark came in response.

"Team 7, which I am a part of." Naruto added in for the newly arrived ninja.

"Maa, Kakashi Hatake, jounin sensei of Team 7 and ex-ANBU taicho." The silver-haired jounin/ANBU stepped out of the smoke; his hitai-ate was across his forehead exposing both Sharingan-less eyes and the scar down the left side of his face with his mask still firmly in place. He waved cheerfully at Minato and Kushina who were staring at him in shock, happiness and confusion at both his eyes being visible.

"Yamato, ANBU taicho and second in command of Team 7." A man with a happuri style hitai-ate framing his face, his short brown hair exposed behind it, said, bowing stiffly to the Hokages. His eyes were trained on Hashirama, taking in the sight of the man whose DNA flowed through his veins.

"Sakura Haruno, apprentice of Lady Tsunade!" The pink-haired kunoichi was pulling on her fingerless gloves, the diamond in the middle of her forehead making her look more threatening to all those who knew the reason behind the diamond.

"Sai, ex-ROOT." A pale teen with ink black hair and brushes attached to his back spoke next, giving the group a creepy smile. Minato hissed under his breath, he knew Danzo had not dissolved all of ROOT and this was his proof.

"Sasuke Uchiha, ex-apprentice of Orochimaru. You better have a good reason for me to be here, dobe." Sasuke snarked from his place by Sakura. He had his hand resting on the hilt of Kusanagi making Shikamaru subconsciously rub his shoulder wound.

"Does fighting a war count, teme?" Naruto snarked back out of habit.

"This isn't the insane version is it?" Shikamaru asked eyeing the Uchiha warily.

"Do I look crazy? No way I would bring back that killer, this is the version of Sasuke that actually was helping in the war." Naruto gave Shikamaru a look.

"Just checking." Shikamaru smirked.

"That is Sasuke, you said he was safe back in the village?" Itachi asked eyeing the other Uchiha with distrust as Sasuke stared back at Itachi blankly, some emotions swirling in his eyes for a few moments.

"A version of him, do not worry about it too much Itachi, your little brother is safe back in Konoha. Once this is all over we will explain everything." Naruto assured the ex-ANBU.

"Team 8, you're up!" Shikamaru called out and the next group stepped forward.

"I am Kurenai Yuuhi, jounin sensei to Team 8." Kurenai bowed, her ringed crimson eyes taking in Itachi as if she was waiting for him to pull her into a genjutsu.

"Kiba Inuzuka and this is my ninken Akamaru!" Kiba smiled, rubbing behind Akamaru's large ears.

"Shino Aburame." Shino said from behind his large collar, eyes gazing over the group before him from behind his tinted glasses.

"Hinata Hyuuga." Hinata bowed to the group, her hair spilling in front of her face.

"Team 10." Naruto called.

"I'm Asuma Sarutobi, jounin sensei of Team 10." Asuma scratched his beard and Tobirama studied who he assumed was his student's son.

"Ino Yamanaka!" The blonde said cheerfully, her long blonde bangs hanging over her left eye.

"Choji Akimichi." Choji smiled at Shikamaru happily.

"I'm also part of Team 10, the newest generation of Ino-Shika-Cho." Shikamaru said, pride coloring his voice while Kushina and Minato smiled at the Ino-Shika-Cho group, as they had been friends with their parents.

"Finally Team Gai." Naruto waved his hand as Gai and Lee struck a 'youthful' pose.

"I am the jounin Maito Gai and these are my youthful students!" Gai shouted hitting a pose in his green spandex.

"I am Rock Lee!" Lee copied his sensei's pose as well.

"Hi, I'm Tenten." Tenten spoke up, adjusting the buns on the top of her head.

"Neji Hyuuga." Neji bowed his head slightly, white sleeves hanging down over his fingertips.

"Finally, the remaining Legendary Sannin!" Naruto waved his arm to the two remaining figures.

"I am the Legendary Jiraiya, the Toad Sage and Seal Master!" Jiraiya gave the group a two-fingered salute with a smile on his face before doing something to Tsunade's behind with his other hand.

"Jiraiya-sensei!" Minato, Nagato, Konan and Yahiko all exclaimed in surprise.

"Godaime Hokage of Konoha, Tsunade Senju." Tsunade introduced herself before she punched Jiraiya out in anger. Hashirama wincing, feeling Jiraiya's pain at having a pissed off Tsunade on his case, but he was happy to see her so well.

"What was that for Hime?" Jiraiya whined.

"What do you think it was for you dumbass?" Tsunade raged at him, cracking her knuckles.

"Go for it Baa-chan! Ero-Sennin deserves it!" Naruto cheered and Jiraiya just started to cry dramatically as Tsunade descended upon him.

Minato shook his head in amazement at his son's nicknames for two of the most powerful Sannin in the Five Nations.

"All here and accounted for." Naruto smiled cheerfully with the sounds of Tsunade pounding Jiraiya into the ground in the background. Naruto turned serious as he looked at the large group. "Now we're ready for war."

"First thing first, we need to get Obito/Tobi away from Madara and Zetsu." Shikamaru raised his index finger in front of his face.

"And into the seal, gotcha." Naruto nodded in understanding as he pulled out a seal from his pocket, Minato stared at it trying to figure out what it was for. It was extremely complex and didn't look like any seal he had ever seen before. "It's a soul purification seal, dad, something of my own creation." Naruto handed it over to his father knowing that he was inspecting it. Kushina took this chance to wrap her arms around his shoulders, hugging him tightly while Kurama grumbled before he hopped off of Naruto's head and onto Shikamaru's, his tails weaving around the high ponytail.

"This is incredibly complex Naruto, I'm very interested in what else you can create." Minato smiled fondly at his son, ruffling his blond hair as he handed back the seal.

"Thanks dad…" Naruto said shyly as he blushed happily. A messenger hawk suddenly flew into sight and made a beeline towards Shikamaru. Kurama hissed at the bird before it landed on Shikamaru's outstretched arm. Shikamaru quickly un-scrolled the message and his face turned stormy. He patted the bird on its head before the hawk took off once more.

"Shikamaru?" Gaara asked, seeing the look on the Nara's face.

"News from the others… They have found all of Orochimaru's bases…" Shikamaru glanced at Naruto who hurried over to the Nara looking just as grim.

"What happened?" Naruto asked, Itachi inching forward to hear the news.

"Apparently when he and Kabuto were killed during their failed invasion attempt, it sent off some sort of failsafe… Every base and every person within them were destroyed completely." Shikamaru's fist clenched, taking the paper with it.

"No, that bastard… Karin…" Naruto hissed out, punching the ground by his feet.

"Who is Karin?" Kushina asked her son, kneeling beside him, giving him another hug.

"Karin Uzumaki, she was part of our clan mom. She could use chakra chains and had healing chakra; if someone bit her they would be healed. I really wanted to give her a home." Naruto explained, the remaining Uzumakis tensed up at his words.

"If we didn't already kill those two bastards…" Shikamaru hissed burning the scroll to get rid of the message.

"I know we can't focus on what is done. We have a war to stop." Naruto took a calming breath as he stood up, hugging his mother back.

"Obito's chakra is coming this way, he is the only one who can move freely right now." Neji reported his Byakugan facing south and Hinata facing north.

"Alright, the only ones who will be taking part in this part of the battle are my dad, my mom, Kakashi-sensei and myself. Konan, create a hiding place, and Shikamaru will use a chakra deflecting seal I made to make sure you aren't detected." Naruto ordered his whole body taking the habits of how he was when he was Hokage in his future.

"Yes." Konan and Shikamaru agreed.

"Wait, if we are going to be fighting a war here won't a village nearby be able to sense all the large amounts of chakra being used?" Mito spoke up suddenly.

"Don't worry about that, when we were gathering you all I sent out a shadow clone to set up seals to stop our chakra from being sensed by outsiders." Naruto smiled as he handed one to Shikamaru to use. Mito nodded in understanding and Naruto's parents grinned at how much of a seal genius their son was.

The four who were going to face Obito separated from the group and watched as Konan erected a barrier that completely blended in with the surrounding area. Naruto closed his eyes and let his senses expand; searching for any chakra in the area, he grinned, as he sensed none.

"Alright, let's move down to the field." Naruto nodded his head and the four dropped down onto the barren field below. Kakashi was perched on a boulder, elbow resting on one knee keeping both eyes out while Kushina kept her senses open as Minato assisted his son in setting up the soul purification seal.

"What is this going to do when Obito steps on it?" Minato asked in a hushed voice.

"You'll have to wait and see, dad!" Naruto said cheerfully as he completed the seal and backed up to stand at the base of the boulder Kakashi was perched on. "I can guarantee it will be explosive." Naruto added in before Obito appeared a few feet away from the hidden seal, Tobi mask firmly in place. Naruto held up his hand before Obito even had a chance to say a word. "Don't bother with the Tobi act, Obito."

"Naruto Uzumaki, the Nine-Tails jinchūriki, I've been looking for you." Obito took off the orange spiral mask, showing his half deformed face and single Sharingan eye. "That's convenient as I have been looking for you as well." Naruto smirked back, adjusting his hitai-ate once more before the battle began.

"Well, well. If it isn't my old teammate and sensei, how nice to see you all again." Obito said, malice in his voice and anger rippling across his face.

"Obito…" Kakashi traced the scar on his face before he blinked both of his Sharingan appearing. The silver hair copy nin disappeared from his spot in a blur, Obito tensed and whirled around in time for Kakashi's foot to connect strongly with his gut sending him skidding backwards.

"Kushina!" Minato shouted as he and Naruto dropped into kneeling positions.

"Right!" Kushina threw her arms out towards Obito and golden chakra chains erupted from her body and wrapped around Obito completely, the kunai ends anchoring the chains to the ground.

"Now dad!" Naruto shouted as he bit his thumb, spreading the blood across his right palm as Minato copied the action.

"FUIN!" The two Namikazes shouted as they slammed their palms against the edge of the seal and watched as it glowed with Kyuubi-red light. The seals lifted up off the ground and wrapped around Obito who was struggling fiercely against Kushina's chakra chains. The seal lines burned onto Obito's body and the ex-Leaf ninja screamed out, blood leaking from his mouth, nose, ears, and eye as the seal did its job.

"Is he going to be okay?" Kakashi asked as he guarded Naruto's back, a shadow clone doing the same for Minato.

"I did say it was going to be explosive, but don't worry Kakashi-sensei Obito will be back to his old self soon!" Naruto said cheerfully as the seal markings started to dim before they disappeared completely. Obito let his head drop to his chest and with a nod from Naruto, Kushina loosened her chains lowering Obito to his knees before retracting them all together.

"Obito? You in there Obito?" Naruto stepped in front of the kneeling missing nin.

"…Where am I?" Obito grumbled, rubbing the blood off his face as he looked around at the ninja around him. Obito's eye widened. "Minato-sensei? Kushina-chan? Kakashi? A mini Minato-sensei?"

"Yeah, that's him." Kakashi rolled his eyes as Minato gently placed his hand on Obito's shoulder.

"Obito-kun, what do you remember?" Minato asked gently and Obito placed a hand on his own forehead.

"I-I remember everything and oh gods- Kakashi, Rin-chan. Oh gods, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" Obito placed his hands over his eyes as he hunched over breathing deeply.

"The seal worked, Obito is back to his old self." Naruto announced firmly.

"Oh Obito-kun, it's okay, just let it all out." Kushina soothed the Uchiha as she hugged him. Tears leaked from his one good eye.

"Thank you Naruto." Kakashi whispered to his student, getting a cheeky smile in response.

Chapter 22

"You guys can come out now, Obito is on our side and back to his old self." Naruto called out, cupping his hands around his mouth and moments later the large group appeared, the paper returning to Konan's arms.

"Whoa!" Obito's mouth dropped open at the sight of the previously dead Hokages.

"This is our army against Madara and Zetsu." Naruto said smugly.

"No wonder we couldn't track down any of the jinchūriki after Sasori and Deidara disappeared." Obito mused while Shukaku and Gaara looked much too smug after hearing his words.

"How far away are they?" Shikamaru glanced at Neji and Hinata who were still scanning for incoming chakra.

"10 minutes from that direction." Hinata reported pointing at the opposite side of the battlefield.

"Shikamaru has filled you all in on our plan correct?" Naruto looked at the group getting nods before he let a wicked smile play across his lips. "Perfect. Alright, those who have summoning contracts this is the time to use them, and jinchūriki, time to show me what you all have learned." Naruto ordered.

Jiraiya and Tsunade leapt off the cliff as they summoned Gamabunta and Katsuyu, the two Sannin landing on their respective summons' heads.

"May as well make it a full set." Sasuke smirked and he leapt off the cliff summoning Manda, landing on the large snake's head.

"Explanations later." Naruto said glancing at Itachi who was staring at his little brother in shock (well, as much shock as he was willing to show).

"My turn." Shikamaru slammed his hand in front of him, large puffs of smoke appeared as Kōsetsu stretched up to her full height, yawning slightly as Shikamaru dropped down onto her head.

"Alright jinchūriki, let's show these shinobi how we do things!" Yagura smirked and the eight jinchūriki leapt off the cliffside, separating out the whole length of the battlefield and their chakra spiked up as they focused.

"I can't wait to see their shrouds!" Naruto said excitedly as he rocked back and forth on his heels.

Each Tailed Beast grew to their original massive size; standing at the ready behind each of their partners, looking feral and ready for a fight. Each jinchūriki had a chakra shroud covering them, splitting off into the same number of tails as their Bijuu and the color of the chakra matching the skin/fur/shell of their animalistic partner.

Gaara's body was covered in the same black tattoos as the ones that covered Shukaku's tail and black tipped ears hovered above his head. Yugito's nails grew into cat claws and her pupils turned feline while blue and black flame cat ears were floating above her head. Yagura's shroud formed sharp spikes along its outline and matching horns appeared above his head. Roshi's hands, feet and ears turned ape-like to match Son Goku's. Any changes that happened to Han other than yellow tipped ears appearing in his chakra shroud were not seen thanks to his full body armor. Utakata's body seemed to be glistening and white antennae merged with the white blue of his shroud. B had maroon horns on either side of his head and the outline of his shroud became covered in puckers much like the ones on Gyuki's tails. Fuu was happily hovering above the ground thanks to Chomei's wings and a beetle horn was settled right above her forehead.

"Impressive." Naruto whistled.

"2 minutes." Neji reported tensely.

"Our turn, dad." Naruto closed his eyes and let the orange markings appear on his eyelids showing he was in perfect sage mode. Minato looked at him in shock, but quickly jumped off the cliffside ready to bring out the Yin portion of the Nine-Tails' Chakra he had sealed within himself before he died.

Naruto effortlessly slipped into his Tailed Chakra mode, Kurama growing to his full size behind the blond. Naruto rotated his shoulders getting used to using this form once more and watched his father's face when moments after he too transformed into his own Chakra mode, a darker version of Kurama appearing behind the Yondaime.

"They're here!" Hinata's voice echoed in everyone's mind, Ino taking up her role as communicator right away.

"You know the plan!" Naruto shouted loudly and before Madara or Zetsu could even say one word to the army in front of them they were attacked and separated from the other.

Black Zetsu, seeing how outnumbered the two of them were, had White Zetsu create millions of his shadow clones. Having fought this before the Konoha ninja that Naruto re-created from his memories leapt into action (along with their summons) and started to destroy the shadow clones gleefully while Black Zetsu sank into the ground, disappearing from the battle.

Sakura leapt off the back of Sai's ink bird, rearing her right arm back before she slammed her knuckles into the ground. She watched pleased as the ground cracked apart, chunks of rock taking out some of the white shadow clones while others fell into the crack itself.

"Hell yeah! Sai, I could use a lift!" Sakura cheered before she jumped high into the sky, landing on the back of Sai's ink bird once more.

"Good punch, ugly." Sai smiled as Sakura's eyebrow twitched and she whacked him over the head in anger as Yamato-taicho just sighed at their antics.

"Where are the others?" Sakura asked eyeing the battlefield from their vantage point.

"Looks like the Uchiha, Namikazes and Senju are teaming up against Madara while the others fend off the White Zetsus to get time for Shikamaru to set up the next part of the plan." Yamato reported as his keen eyes scanned the field below.

"What the hell is that?" Sakura suddenly shouted as masses of Zetsus swarmed together and morphed into one giant White Zetsu, easily the same size as the Tailed Beasts. The White Zetsus did this 7 more times and lumbered off to face off against the Bijuu and their jinchūriki.

"It seems like the Bijuu shall be busy for the time being." Sai said as he directed his bird towards the area where the other teams from Konoha were fighting together.

"Finally some action!" Shukaku laughed as he and Gaara charged towards the closest giant White Zetsu.

"Desert Layered Imperial Funeral Seal." Gaara raised his arms upwards as sand poured from his gourd and from Shukaku's mouth; it formed a large step pyramid around the giant White Zetsu trapping it away. Shukaku lumbered forward and slammed his large claws against the side of it and used his Fuinjutsu to strengthen the seal.

"Our turn yo!" B cheered as he and Gyuki headed to the next giant clone.

"Fuinjutsu: Octopus Hold." B spewed ink and they formed into 1,000 shadow clones of himself and they rushed the giant White Zetsu Gyuki currently had in a stranglehold- the suckers on his tails helping immensely. The shadow clones surrounded the Zetsu as Gyuki leapt out of the way. The White Zetsu became black with ink and it froze, sealed and unable to move whatsoever.

"Now Roshi." Son Goku rumbled at his jinchūriki who nodded before he jumped up and landed on the yellow crown of Son Goku's head.

"Yoton: Scorching Armoured Fist." They yelled as their bodies were covered in glowing red lava armor and they both attacked separate parts of their giant White Zetsu. Goku slammed his tails into its legs while Roshi pummeled his fist into its face, Roshi landed back on Goku's head and the two watched as the giant White Zetsu screeched as the lava and heat ate away at it, burning it to ashes.

"Ready Utakata?" Saiken asked his partner who readied his pipe from his place sitting cross-legged on his head.

"Yes, together." Utakata nodded his head.

"Wisdom Wolf Decay." Saiken opened his mouth and released a dense corrosive gas that spread across the giant White Zetsu they were facing.

"Acid Permeation." Utakata blew a large acid bubble towards the Zetsu and when it popped it started to burn its face as Saiken's jutsu ate away at it from the bottom upwards.

"Two-Tails Fire Ball!" Yugito and Matatabi snarled in sync, huge balls of fire and chakra forming inches away from their open jaws and the moment they were fired they merged together and vaporized the giant White Zetsu they were facing down.

"I'll distract it Chomei, then you finish it off!" Fuu cheered as she hovered in the sky next to her partner.

"Right Fuu, be careful." Chomei said, worried for the Taki nin.

"Secret Technique: Scale Powder." Fuu opened her mouth, exhaling a large amount of fine blue powder and temporarily blinding the giant White Zetsu. While the giant shadow clone stumbled about blindly Chomei flew in for his attack.

"Spear Attack Shining Horn." Chomei slammed his foremost horn into the White Zetsu's chest and ripped upwards, splitting it in half in time for Fuu to send a basic Katon jutsu (size enhanced by her chakra shroud) at it, destroying it completely.

"One attack as one should suffice Isobu." Yagura deemed after studying the White Zetsu in front of him and the Three-Tails.

"I am thinking so as well." Isobu agreed as Yagura braced his feet shoulder width apart on the Tailed Beast's head.

"Suiton: Great Water Mass Bullet." The two cried in unison, together they both sent numerous powerful bullets of water towards the Zetsu and watched as it went down with many through and through holes in its body.

"Looks like we have the honor of destroying the last of the giant White Zetsus, huh, Han?" Kokuo glanced at his steam armor-wearing partner.

"They saved the best for last obviously." Han nodded his head.

"Get ready. I'll drive it right to you. Horn Breaking." Kokuo rushed at the giant White Zetsu and slammed his horns right into its torso, pushing it back several hundred feet.

"Futton: Unrivalled Strength." Han's armor started to vent out streams of steam and moments later Han rushed towards his partner and his opponent with surprising speed and lashed out with a roundhouse kick, the torso of the White Zetsu was cleaved apart with one kick. Han aimed a few more punches and with a few flicks from Kokuo's tail the White Zetsu was nothing more than a pile of useless white limbs.

"Damn those Tailed Beasts and jinchūriki are powerful!" Kiba whistled impressed as he slammed his fist into the face of a White Zetsu, sending it back into Hinata who disabled it with a few precise hits of her palms.

"Hm." Shino hummed as his kikaichū returned to his body after eating away at a wave of Zetsus.

"Keep focused Kiba." Kurenai reminded as she kicked a White Zetsu into Akamaru's waiting razor teeth.

"Super Expansion Jutsu." Choji shouted after he swallowed one of his colored pills. Using his large palm he swatted away another wave of White Zetsus that were heading towards Shikamaru who was focused on setting up the next part of the plan with help from Nagato, Kushina, and Mito Uzumaki. Konan and Yahiko were protecting Nagato's back, not willing to leave his side for even a moment.

"Are you three clear on what you need to do when Madara gets here?" Shikamaru asked voice taking the tone it did when he was ANBU commander.

"Yes." The Uzumakis nodded, taking their role seriously.

"Obito and Itachi should be getting over here soon." Shikamaru muttered as Sakura, Sai, and Yamato dropped down next to Team Gai.

"They're heading this way with Naruto!" Sakura reported as she jabbed the heel of her hand into a Zetsu's face.

"Any location on Black Zetsu yet?" Shikamaru asked Sai, not flinching as Ino and Asuma destroyed White Zetsus that got close to his back.

"No, it seems he is staying well hidden for the time being." Sai reported, sending a few ink panthers at some nearby White Zetsus.

"Send a message to Lady Tsunade and Jiraiya, get them to start looking for him." Shikamaru ordered and Sai whipped out a brush and sprawled out the message, sending it on an ink hawk. Shikamaru glanced up and saw Kōsetsu cheerfully stamping on White Zetsus as she single handedly (hoofedly?) protected the south side of their group.

"I'm going to be sleeping for weeks after this workout." Kōsetsu grumbled and Shikamaru whole-heartedly agreed with her. Shikamaru glanced up for a moment and spotted Jiraiya and Tsunade making a beeline for the cliffside they all had been gathered on before; they must have spotted Black Zetsu. He would leave Black Zetsu to the two Sannin for the time being; right now they had to neutralize Madara. Even if he was being played by Zetsu the whole time he needed to be taken out of the battle and soon.

Itachi watched as Manda's tail landed next to him and Sasuke slid down it landing easily next to him.

"Nii-San." Sasuke smirked at his older brother, amused at the critical stare Itachi had directed at him. "Ready to fight by my side?"

"Until Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara explain this to me, I shall fight alongside you Sasuke." Itachi decided as he flung off his cloak, getting ready for battle.

"Good luck with getting any useful information out of that dobe." Sasuke snorted as he drew Kusanagi from the large purple rope that was wrapped around his waist.

"Looks like Naruto and Minato-sensei are keeping Madara busy for the time being." Obito commented as he and Kakashi dropped next to the Uchiha brothers. The four turned their attention to the dual Nine-Tails and chakra shrouded ninjas who were fighting in unison against Madara Uchiha like they had been fighting side by side for their whole lives.

"The Yondaime, Sasuke Uchiha, and Kakashi Hatake will be fighting Madara next alongside us while Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, Obito, and Itachi Uchiha will head over to meet up with Shikamaru Nara." Tobirama stated as he and Hashirama appeared next to the group of Sharingan users in a swirl of leaves.

"Yes." The Sharingan users agreed, moments later Naruto appeared in a flash of orange. "Keep him busy until the signal then drive him to the site." Naruto said, his voice taking on one of power, much like a Kage.

"Let's get busy then, oh, and Nii-San. Thanks for your eyes." Sasuke smirked; his Mangekyō Sharingan appeared, as did the glowing red Susanoo that formed a barrier around the youngest Uchiha. Itachi stared at the sight before him; before he shook his head to clear his mind as the four remaining nin leapt into the fray beside Minato and the Yin chakra version of the Nine-Tails.

"Itachi, Obito hold on." Naruto smirked wickedly as two of his nine chakra tails extended out and wrapped around the Uchihas' waists. Naruto dropped to all fours like a fox and took off at high speeds, Obito let out a yelp of surprise while Itachi stayed silent, far too composed to let out a sound of shock at the sudden speed.

Sasuke fought mainly on his own, while Kakashi fell into a familiar routine of fighting at his sensei's side while the Senju brothers used a combination of Suiton and Mokuton jutsu. All in all Madara had to fight harder than he first thought he would have to when entering this battle.

"There it is!" Minato shouted suddenly as a huge Uzumaki clan spiral appeared in the sky about 200 feet due west.

"Drive him back!" Sasuke shouted as he shot a large Katon jutsu at Madara's back. One after the other the Konoha shinobi attacked relentlessly, successfully driving Madara to the site.

"Steady!" Naruto shouted as one powerful combination attack from the Senju brothers sent Madara into the Uzumakis' range.

"NOW!" Shikamaru shouted and numerous chakra chains erupted from the four Uzumaki who were standing on four corners of a seal that Shikamaru had laid out beforehand.

"Hold him there!" Naruto ordered getting nods from Nagato, Mito and Kushina each one focused on keeping their chakra chains stabilized and keeping Madara immobilized. The chains were meant to restrain Tailed Beasts by themselves, so when four Uzumakis focused on keeping one ninja restrained it did the job four times over.

"Obito, Itachi, your turn to take a shot at him." Shikamaru smirked as he stepped out of the way as the two Uchihas approached Madara. Obito placed one hand on Itachi's shoulder and the other on Madara's and gave a grin.

"Hang on tight boys." Obito cackled as he activated his Mangekyō Sharingan and using his Space-Time dimension jutsu he brought the trio into Kamui. Madara stumbled a bit as the chakra chains disappeared, not having made the trip. Itachi activated his own Sharingan and Susanoo formed around him, the gourd in its right hand rose up and quickly it drew the Sword of Totsuka and rushed forward stabbing Madara in the stomach. Madara coughed up blood as the legendary sword of sealing started to live up to its name.

"Why? You both are Uchihas, Obito you were on my side, why?" Madara rasped out.

"Your mind is warped with hatred Madara and it ends now." Obito growled, angry at how Madara twisted and used him to kill and almost to destroy the world in his own quest for power and revenge.

Itachi raised his hand and made a fist, the Sword of Totsuka finished its job, sealing Madara away forever. "That's a handy thing you have there Itachi." Obito smiled cheerfully at the Uchiha. "Once we get back to the village and everything has settled down we should have a spar! It would be a lot of fun!"

"It would be interesting to see how we fare against each other." Itachi mused and let his lips tilt upwards at the cheer and fist pump Obito gave.

"Hang on then Itachi!" Obito smiled, grabbing the Uchiha's shoulder and warping them out of Kamui. The two landed in the same spot as before, seeing the Uzumakis tense up in case something went wrong. "Madara is sealed away thanks to the Sword of Totsuka Itachi has!" Obito reported, snapping off a salute at the gathered group, spurring cheers.

"We have a problem!" Jiraiya shouted as he and Tsunade dropped down next to Naruto and Shikamaru.

"Oh come on? Can't we get a break?" Naruto whined.

"Zetsu is summoning her, we tried to stop him but…" Tsunade trailed off as the ground below their feet started to tremble and shake.

"Too late, Kaguya is coming and soon. We need a plan and fast." Jiraiya finished the thought grimly.

"Can't Itachi use the Sword of Totsuka on this Kaguya?" Hashirama asked, confused as to why the others looked so worried.

"She's the goddess of chakra, she can't be sealed that easily." Naruto ran his hands down his face. "Ero-Sennin is right, we need a plan and fast as Sasuke and I don't have the powers we got from the Sage of Six Paths this time around."

"How is he able to unseal her without Madara and his Infinite Tsukuyomi? He's gone and can't be used as a vessel." Sakura asked edging closer to her teammates.

"When the battle started, he must have sent out White Zetsus to nearby villages and put them in Infinite Tsukuyomi after creating the needed conditions, for a vessel he must have used his own body." Shikamaru theorized and Naruto slammed his fist into the ground, creating a small crater where his knuckles made contact. "Okay, okay." Naruto breathed out, trying to keep himself calm.

"Naruto, the mindscape." Shikamaru breathed out as an idea popped into his mind as he looked up at the nine Bijuu that were surrounding the group.

"Brilliant Shika!" Naruto cheered, hugging Shikamaru quickly before he rushed over to Kurama and leapt up onto the fox's head. "Kurama, the shared mindscape you and the others have… Can you all work together to create a new one? One that would either destroy or permanently reseal Kaguya and Zetsu?" Naruto asked quickly. Kurama mused over the idea, as did the other Tailed Beasts.

"It's do-able." Kurama reported with a wicked grin on his face.

"How long?" Naruto asked urgently as the trembling grew and grew.

"Give us five minutes." Matatabi purred, Naruto nodded and disappeared in a flash of orange to reappear by Shikamaru's side.

"Five minutes, we have to keep her busy for five minutes and not get killed or sucked into her dimensions- trust me, they're a pain to be in." Naruto glanced around the army he and Shikamaru had amassed.

"The chakra chains can hold her down, the others can attack if needed." Shikamaru stated. "Alright, you heard him!" Naruto nodded his agreement and the groups moved towards where Kaguya was awakening while the Bijuu stayed back to work on their part of the plan.

"Go!" Kushina shouted chains erupted from Mito and Nagato wrapping around the transforming form of Zetsu from a solid distance. Naruto darted around the army, touching each of their hands or shoulders quickly, pleased as Kyuubi red chakra engulfed them, lending them parts of his chakra as he noticed they were all looking a bit exhausted.

"Thanks Nar." Shikamaru grinned as he prodded his right side gently, wincing a bit.

"Are you okay?" Naruto asked urgently.

"One of the White Zetsus got a lucky shot in." Shikamaru brushed off Naruto's concern. "Focus on the task at hand, you may want to add your chains now, Kaguya's power is starting to make them look a bit strained."

"Right, but if I found out you were hiding a wound from me…" Naruto let his threat trail off as he rushed to stand beside his mother and Nagato, sending his orange-red chains out with flicks of his wrists, stopping all movements Kaguya was able to make. "Are you okay, mom?" Naruto asked worriedly as his mother's posture was slumped.

"I'm fine Naru-chan, don't worry about me!" Kushina beamed at her son. Naruto grumbled under his breath about the nickname and having to get revenge on Kakashi as soon as they were back in the village. Kushina just giggled at her son's antics.

"How much longer?" Nagato asked the blond, sweat covering his whole body.

"Not much longer, just hold on the best you can Nagato!" Naruto promised his cousin.

"I will!" Nagato steeled his resolve as his eyes spotted Konan and Yahiko watching him worriedly, red chakra surrounding them, restoring them.

"2 more minutes!" Shikamaru told the Uzumakis.

"She's starting to break through our chains." Mito commented, gritting her teeth together. "Darling, some help would be appreciated."

"Of course dear." Hashirama moved forward to stand beside his wife. He raised his right arm and braced it with his left. "Mokuton: Silent Strangle Jutsu." His right arm turned into a tree, many branches then extended and wrapped around Kaguya.

"Yamato-taicho, you too!" Naruto called out. Yamato appeared a few steps behind the blond and performed the same jutsu as the Shodaime.

"I was injected with your cells Shodai-sama." Yamato quickly explained at the questioning look he was getting from the elder Senju.

"Ah, well that makes you my grandnephew then!" Hashirama laughed joyfully at the new addition to his clan. Gaara threw his arms up to the side and his sand locked onto Kaguya as well with the other jinchūriki flanking him.

"1 more minute! Shadow Strangle Jutsu." Shikamaru knelt down on one knee making the needed hand signs, his shadow extended out and wrapped around Kaguya, the hand clutching at her neck.

"Almost there…" Naruto gritted his teeth, a bead of sweat rolling down the side of his face, he had never had to hold his chains for this long period of time before and he could see the others shaking as they poured their strength and chakra into keeping the Goddess contained.

"Back away now!" Kurama bellowed as the eight ninja leapt back releasing their hold on Kaguya. The exhausted shinobi stumbled back as the Tailed Beasts surrounded Kaguya, their eyes glowing and chakra surrounding Kaguya.

Kakashi picked Naruto up under his arm, pulling the blond back to a safe range while Minato picked his wife up bridal-style. Tobirama dragged his older brother backwards while Tsunade assisted her grandmother. Konan and Yahiko slung Nagato's arms over their shoulders pulling him back while Asuma tossed Shikamaru over his shoulder with Choji and Ino snickering beside him. B who rushed forwards-ignoring Gaara saying he could walk on his own grabbed Gaara around the waist towing him back to a safe distance.

"It's all up to the Bijuu now." Naruto muttered to Shikamaru as the two stood beside each other once their respective friends/family members released them.

"O-jū: Plain of Destruction." The nine tailed beasts shouted as they flung huge balls of chakra at Kaguya, engulfing her completely. The world started to shake once more and an inhuman roar came from within the ball of chakra Kaguya was trapped in. It started to shake and blur together as it grew smaller and smaller until it disappeared from existence all together.

Silence covered the battlefield as dust settled around the shinobi.

"Did it work?" Tenten asked, the first to break the silence. The Bijuu shrunk down to the sizes of cats and joined their jinchūriki.

"It worked, Kaguya and Zetsu both are no more and will never be able to unsealed again." Kurama reported smugly.

"YES!" Cheers went up from the gathered group; hugs and fist bumps were exchanged by the gathered ninja.

"We did it Shika, it's all finally over." Naruto smiled blissfully as he and Shikamaru slumped against each other, their legs still somehow managing to keep them upright.

"I can't believe it Nar, but I think my chakra is at its limit." Shikamaru exclaimed.

"Sleep well, Little Deer." Kōsetsu knelt down in front of the Nara and gently butted his head with her nose.

"Thank you for helping me out Kōsetsu." Shikamaru pet her fur before she disappeared in a puff of smoke. Shikamaru stumbled a bit; Naruto grabbed his upper arm to keep him upright.

"Let me just do this last jutsu…" Naruto turned towards the Shodai, Nidaime, Yondaime, Mito, Kushina and Yahiko. "Uzumaki Kinjutsu: Body Restoration!" Naruto bit down on a scroll and the shinobi's bodies brought back by the Edo Tensei became human and in perfect health, showing no sign they had been corpses or brought back by the Edo Tensei.

"This is amazing." Yahiko said in awe as he inspected his hands as Mito felt her face for cracks, but pleased, as she found none.

"We should go too Naruto, your chakra is low." Jiraiya said, patting the blond Uzumaki on his head gently.

"…Okay." Naruto nodded, throat closing up at the idea.

"Hey, we are all still alive not only back in Konoha, but also in here." Tsunade poked Naruto's chest.

"I know Baa-chan, thank you all for your help. I'll call you guys back if we need a good spar or we need help before the others are ready." Naruto said, voice thick. Shikamaru rubbed his eyes as each team puffed away in clouds of smoke as they waved goodbye.

"Whoa, okay what just happened there?" Obito held his hands up in confusion at Kakashi disappearing.

"They were just chakra memories, don't worry Obito. Kakashi is safe back in the village and I know he misses you horribly." Naruto said soothingly.

"We better be off, we've all been away for too long." Gaara commented as the eight jinchūriki dropped out of their chakra shrouds holding their tired Tailed Beasts in their arms or on their shoulders.

"We understand, if it wasn't for all of you, none of this would have been possible." Shikamaru said honestly with Naruto nodding in agreement.

"I'm sure we all are glad we could be of use this time around." Yugito commented. The others who had been killed before the war had taken place gave their agreement.

"Until our next powwow!" Naruto said cheerfully, grunting as Fuu gave him a tight hug.

"We are still not going to call our meetings that." Gaara gave the blond a glare as Fuu scurried up onto B's shoulder, as it seemed to be her new favorite place to sit.

"Come on Fuu, we will all drop you back in Taki and make sure they accept you." Yagura promised and Fuu's face lit up.

"Keep in touch!" Naruto shouted as the jinchūriki bade goodbye to the group heading back to Konoha and went in the direction of Taki.

"Do we get that explanation now?" Obito asked impatiently.

"Maybe later…" Shikamaru's eyes were starting to droop. "Shit, my shadow clone and Akito have disappeared, I don't have enough chakra left." Shikamaru visibly winced as the memories from both of them entered his mind.

"Akira and my shadow clone are disappearing too." Naruto grumbled and dropped to his knees when those memories hit him, the bases had been blown to pieces and they had only found body parts of the people working there, including Karin's head. "We'll explain everything later we promise, just right now… sleep." Naruto promised.

"Just like a Nara." Shikamaru said fondly at how sleep was now Naruto's priority.

"Damn right, I basically live at the compound, of course I'm a Nara now." Naruto yawned and suddenly the two were surrounded in smoke and they were back to their correct ages. Their clothes had stayed intact, just smaller.

The two 13-year-old chunin swayed on the spot, eyes closing as they passed out. Minato and Itachi were the first to snap out of the shock the group had been put in by seeing the two suddenly become 13. Minato caught Naruto, heaving him up in his arms, cradling his sleeping boy who was just that- a boy. Itachi managed to put Shikamaru on his back, holding under his knees with the Nara's arms draped over Itachi's shoulders and head resting on the right side of Itachi's neck.

"What just happened?" Yahiko asked looking at the others who all looked as clueless as he felt.

"Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara are only 13 years old, they must have been in a henge this whole time." Itachi said, as he was the only one in the group that had run into Naruto before all of this had begun.

"They must be exhausted, we need shelter for the night and we can speak with them in the morning before heading to Konoha." Kushina brushed Naruto's bangs out of his peaceful face.

"Allow me. Mokuton: Four Pillar House Jutsu." Hashirama slammed his palms against the ground and the group watched as wood appeared from the Shodai's hands and created an inn in the cliffside in front of them.

The group carefully entered the wooden house and separated into different rooms, Minato and Itachi chose to put Naruto and Shikamaru in the same room having seen their brothership on the battlefield and knew they would instantly look for the other once they awoke.

"I'll watch over them." Minato promised Itachi who just nodded and left the room without another word, Kushina slipped into the room next and settled between Naruto and Shikamaru.

"What do you think Minato?" Kushina asked her husband in a soft voice as she adjusted the blanket on Shikamaru.

"I have theories, but for now I am content to watch over Naruto and Shikamaru until they can explain everything to us in the morning." Minato said after a moment of thought.

"I think that would be best for the time being." Kushina nodded before the two settled in for a night of watching over the two 13-year-olds.

Chapter 23

Naruto groaned as something attacked his hand, it felt like millions of little wings beating against his skin in an irritating way. He cracked his blue eyes open, seeing his father asleep, head resting on his crossed arms on the edge of the cot Naruto had been placed on. Naruto couldn't resist a beaming smile that appeared on his lips before he turned his attention to the irritating feeling on his right hand. His eyebrows furrowed when he saw a swarm of Shino's kikaichū forming a message across the width of his upturned palm. Naruto read the message and his face turned stormy and dark, he gave a sharp nod and the kikaichū dispersed. Naruto glanced over to where he felt Shikamaru's chakra coming from and saw the Nara watching the Uzumaki-Namikaze carefully with his sharp brown eyes. Shikamaru too had seen the message and Kushina was fast asleep between their beds.

"Scenario 20." Naruto used ANBU hand language to get the situation across to the raven.

"What's scenario 20?" Minato's voice drifted across the room, Naruto's head snapped to the side to look at his father who was stretching out his back, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

"I guess I forgot as Hokage you had to learn ANBU sign language." Naruto rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as Shikamaru slapped his hand against his face groaning at the stupidity of his brother.

"The better question is how did you two learn it?" Minato eyed the 13-year-olds warily.

"What's going on?" Kushina asked drowsily as she was roused by the voices around her.

"Something is wrong." Minato stated simply seeing the dark looks on his son's and Shikamaru's faces.

"We'll explain when we get the others together." Naruto swung his legs over the side of the bed, Shikamaru copying the actions and together the four headed towards the main room where the rest were awake and waiting.

"What's wrong?" Tobirama asked, seeing the dark looks on the chunin's faces.

"We just got a message sent by Shino Aburame's kikaichū. It seems Danzo and his ROOT ninja have taken control of the village, capturing all shinobi and locking the citizens away in their homes. Shino sent a message for us, telling us Danzo has sent out ROOT nin to find and capture us." Naruto explained, eyeing Shikamaru who was checking his supplies and making sure his katana was securely attached to his back.

"Danzo." Itachi hissed under his breath while Minato's face turned dark as his son's.

"Shikamaru, go in and do recon." Naruto nodded at the Nara who bowed back in respect before he stepped back into a shadow that was being casted by a stream of sunlight filtering in through a nearby window. Shikamaru breathed out calmly before he sunk into the shadows.

"What was that?" Yahiko asked in awe.

"Shikamaru is from the Nara clan, a clan of shadow users, he just took the standard shunshin and bent it to work with his clan's style." Naruto said absently as he rummaged around in his pouch and with a small 'aha', brought out a scroll. He unrolled the blank scroll and quickly and easily created a detailed map of Konoha and the outlying areas around it.

"We have the main point of entry that Danzo is sure to guard here." Naruto circled the front gate.

"However, even Danzo is not stupid enough to trespass on the forest belonging to the Nara clan here." Naruto outlined the area that held the Nara's forest. "As long as Shikamaru is with us then we can use it freely. I also discovered a different passageway to enter and leave the village in the land behind the Senju estate here." Naruto painted a circle a bit away from the Senju estate.

"How did you know about that passage?" Tobirama asked, showing his surprise.

"When Tsunade Baa-chan became Godaime, she unsealed the Senju estate then dragged Jiraiya, Kakashi and myself to live there with her, she was adamant after she saw my crappy apartment and the state of Kakashi's place." Naruto chuckled fondly at the memory of Tsunade dragging Jiraiya and Kakashi by their ears to the estate telling them that they are living there now.

"Good." Kushina nodded her head in approval while Minato gave a small smile at the idea of all his precious people living together as a family.

"Until Shikamaru returns with his report there isn't much else we can plan." Naruto muttered as he studied the map.

"You look like you personally hold a grudge against Danzo." Minato stated standing beside his son as Kushina went and filled the others in on who Danzo was and Itachi explained in a few words about how Danzo killed his best friend and forced him into the murder of his whole clan. Even Tobirama, who hated the Uchiha, winced when he heard what happened.

"Well." Naruto pursed his lips together tightly; debating if he should tell his dad that Danzo was the reason he grew up so hated. "He's the reason I grew up alone." Naruto said truthfully, deciding he was not going to keep this in any longer.

"What do you mean alone?" Minato asked, eyes darkening as his mind raced with different theories.

"I mean he and the council convinced Jiraiya and Tsunade Baa-chan that the other was looking after me and made them leave the village. Kashi-Nii-San then said that Danzo was the one who told him to join ANBU, to get his emotions under control from what happened that night with Kurama. Danzo then stopped all his attempts to find me until Kashi-Nii-San spotted me in the academy. That's when he left ANBU to become my jounin sensei." Naruto explained, by this time the whole room was listening and he found himself squished between both his parents in another hug. Both his parents were seething with anger at Danzo and full of sadness for their son.

"Who knows what else Danzo has done from the shadows." Itachi growled under his breath, his rage at Danzo building up once more.

"The reason I believe he acted now was because Baa-chan has been ignoring him and undermining him as Godaime, taking power away from him. Danzo would not like that and he was against her becoming Godaime in the first place. With Shikamaru and myself away from the village it would give him the best chance to strike." Naruto explained, placing his hand against his chin in a thinking position.

"I'm back." Shikamaru spoke up out of the blue as he stepped out of a shadow, his face emotionless like an ANBU. Shikamaru sat in front of the map Naruto had drawn out and without a word started to mark out locations of ROOT ninja.

"They have the academy under their control, keeping all the students and senseis trapped inside it- that must be what he's using to keep the Godaime and the other more powerful shinobi under control." Shikamaru spoke with no emotion, but Naruto could see how his fingers tightened on the brush. "ROOT nin are spread throughout the village, however behind the Hokage Monument and the Nara forest it is clear as are the estates that belong to the Hokage's of the past. Danzo's main area of operation is the ring where the chunin fights were held, he has the most powerful shinobi kept there inside a chakra blocking barrier. An additional seal had been added on so that anything that touches the barrier will be electrocuted." Shikamaru reported making a dark circle around the academy and the arena.

"That bastard. Who is being held in the arena?" Naruto swore under his breath before he sat down opposite of his best friend.

"You wouldn't believe it." Shikamaru snickered, his emotionless façade breaking.

"He can't be that stupid." Naruto gaped.

"I bet he thought he was being clever." Shikamaru kept snickering.

"Who did he put in the arena?" Hashirama asked curious now.

"Lady Tsunade, Jiraiya, the Sandaime, Kakashi, Iruka-sensei who looked like he was just with Kakashi at the wrong time, Asuma, Kurenai, Gai and all their students, plus my father, Inoichi-san, and Choza-san." Shikamaru reported and Naruto just laughed into his hand.

"He's doomed." Naruto breathed out through his laughter.

"Looks like we may not have to do much at all." Shikamaru said smugly.

"I've got it." Naruto said brightly and placed an X on the front gates. "I'll summon Jiraiya and Tsunade from my memories once more. They can summon Gamabunta and Katsuyu at the front gates as a distraction. As Danzo has Jiraiya and Tsunade in the arena he will want to know who summoned them and he'll send ROOT members to the gates. While that is happening three teams will be coming in from the Nara forest, the passage behind the Senju estate and behind the Hokage Monument." Naruto placed two more X's on the three previously stated areas. "The team that will be moving through the passage behind the Senju estate will be the Shodai, Mito Uzumaki and the Nidaime, you three will take out any ROOT members you come across in the village. Do not kill, just knock unconscious and restrain." Naruto looked at the three, feeling a bit uneasy about ordering the previous Hokages around but to his relief they nodded in agreement.

"It will be a good way to get reacquainted with the village." Tobirama said, no excitement in his voice, but Naruto could tell it was there.

"Besides if a ROOT member does tell Danzo he was taken out by the dead Shodai, his wife and the Nidaime, Danzo will never believe him." Hashirama said not bothering to hide his excitement and Mito just smiled at the idea.

"Shikamaru will lead the group entering from the Nara forest to free the academy. Danzo must be using them as hostages, otherwise Baa-chan would have taken out that barrier holding them by now with her strength. That group will be Shikamaru, Konan, Nagato, and Yahiko. Shikamaru, once you finish there you will meet up with my group. Nagato I'm trusting you, Konan and Yahiko to keep the children safe. If anything happens to them…" Naruto trailed off looking at the Ame ninja.

"Nothing will happen to the children; you have our word." Konan swore, her eyes fiery- clearly her maternal instincts kicking in. The two men beside her nodded their agreement looking just as determined.

"Nagato, mention your last name to a student named Konohamaru Sarutobi. He is the Sandaime's grandson and my otouto, tell him you're my cousin and he will help you in any way he can." Naruto looked at his cousin who nodded, making a mental note to find this Konohamaru while Tobirama had to wonder how old his student was if he had grandchildren now. "Finally, dad, mom, Itachi, Obito and myself will be coming in from behind the Hokage Monument. I'll summon Kurama there and that alone will scare off the ROOT ninja and if Kurama is shown as someone who is helping retake the village instead of destroying it, he will not be seen as a horrible monster anymore. While Kurama is doing that we will make our way to the arena to face off against Danzo, where Shikamaru will meet up with us. When it is all finally finished we will send up the Uzumaki Clan spiral as a signal once more. Team one will meet with team two at the academy before meeting the rest of us at the Senju estate. Am I understood?" Naruto finished outlining his plan to the group.

"Yes." The room answered him and Naruto moved away from the map to let team one and two start to memorize their needed routes and back up routes.

"Are any of them injured?" Naruto asked Shikamaru in a low tone as the two leaned against the far wall watching the room.

"Bruised and covered in dirt and some cuts, showing they put up a good fight before they were taken but no fatal injuries. Just anger and glares, all aimed at Danzo. He has two bodyguards with him… It's Sai, and Shino's childhood friend/brother Torune Aburame." Shikamaru reported in a voice just as low as Naruto's.

"Damn, that must be destroying Shino." Naruto rubbed a hand over his forehead.

"He looked like he was having a hard time trying to keep it together." Shikamaru admitted.

"I want to talk with you two for a minute if that's alright." Minato stood in front of the two chunin.

"Of course, dad!" Naruto said, his whole demeanor brightening at the sight of his father.

"I have a theory that's been swimming around in my head for a while now, just let me know if I'm completely off base here or not… I think you two are time travellers." Minato said in a very low voice.

"…You know, you and Shika's dad should really have a shogi match, I would love to see who wins." Naruto said laughing a bit.

"You are correct Yondaime-sama." Shikamaru inclined his head and Minato let out a puff of air.

"Was the future truly that horrific?" Minato asked worried about the answer he would get.

"That battle we just fought? It went much worse in our timeline, so bad the Fourth Shinobi War became the last war as every single person in the Five Nations was dragged into it and destroyed. Shika and I were dying when Kurama did a Space-Time Jutsu and brought us back to our genin days to make sure none of those events came to pass. I have to say, we've done a damn good job." Naruto explained.

"How old are you two really?" Minato asked, shoulders slumped and a dark hollow look appearing on his face. He had fought in the Third Shinobi War and that was awful on many levels, he could not imagine what the Fourth that destroyed the Five Nations could have been like.

"In body we are both 13-year-old freshly minted chunin, but mentally and chakra/ability wise? We are either 16 or 17, maybe even 18; time merges together when you're always on the front lines. I'm at a level higher than elite jounin, but below Kage; and Nar is on a completely higher and different level than Kage." Shikamaru answered honestly.

"Oh gods." Minato breathed out.

"Don't worry about it, dad, things are solved. There will be no war if we have any say in it and everyone can all be together again!" Naruto said cheerfully, hugging his father around the waist happily, inhaling his scent trying to memorize it. Minato desperately hugged his son back and Shikamaru smiled happily at the sight before him. Finally Naruto would have a real family and he would no longer be alone (in the blood-relation aspect, at least).

Danzo couldn't help but feel victorious as he looked down at the barrier holding Konoha's finest below him. He was sitting on the Hokage's chair in the box that housed the Kages during the chunin exams, flanked by two of his best and youngest ROOT members Sai and Torune.

The one fly in his ointment was that there was no news of the Kazama twins, Nara heir, or jinchūriki brat from any of the ROOT trackers he had sent out. It was like the four had disappeared from the face of the earth. He scowled and stood up from his chair and made his way down to the arena's floor to question the shinobi about the missing chunin and jounin.

"Are you comfortable?" Danzo asked mockingly as he approached the barrier.

The genin looked exhausted, covered in dirt, bruises, and blood. They had been herded into the center of the barrier by their equally dirtied, bruised, and bloodied senseis who had formed a protective ring around the group while the heads of the Ino-Shika-Cho clans, the Sandaime and the two Sannin made up the outer ring.

"What do you want Danzo?" Tsunade spat in anger, she hated this man more than she had ever hated anyone before, she could not even make a move because if she did then who knows what this horrible man would do to the children he had trapped in the academy.

"I want information on the locations of Akira and Akito Kazama, Shikamaru Nara and Naruto Uzumaki." Danzo ordered, noticing how all of them tensed up at his words.

"So you haven't found them yet?" Tsunade asked, pride in her voice.

"I would not test my patience Lady Tsunade." Danzo spat out. "I simply wish to know where they are."

"You will never find them." Jiraiya said confidently.

"I will find them, I will never stop searching until I have them in my grasp. See Akira and Akito have been a thorn in my side since they appeared during the chunin exams and I want them dead. Shikamaru Nara on the other hand will make an excellent addition to ROOT, his strategic mind and clan abilities will make him a perfect tracker and assassin." Danzo explained smugly.

Shikaku growled and Jiraiya had to stop him from doing anything foolish while Inoichi and Choza had to hold Ino and Choji back at hearing the threat against their teammate/childhood friend. Asuma gritted his teeth harshly and Kurenai gripped his forearm tightly to stop him from moving towards Danzo.

"Now Naruto Uzumaki, how amazing will it be to have the jinchūriki of the Nine Tail Fox at my beck and call. He and the Tailed Beast will be my ultimate weapon, with them at my command the Five Nations will fall under my control." Danzo said, a glimpse of insanity shown in his one visible eye.

The genin gasped in shock at this new information, they had no idea Naruto was the jinchūriki for the Nine-Tailed Fox that had destroyed the village 12 years ago, but when they talked in hushed tones amongst themselves and soothing words from Iruka-sensei (who was standing by Kakashi) they decided Naruto was Naruto, not a demon fox and things just made more sense about his abilities and why the villagers hate him. Iruka almost used his Big Head Jutsu to get them to understand, but when he pointed out what Naruto had done for each of them and how he was, the genin realized that he was still the blond they knew.

"You will not be getting your hands on any of them." Hiruzen swore, still protective of his citizens more so of Naruto and his best friend Shikamaru. A hawk flew down and landed on Danzo's shoulder holding a message. Danzo scanned the message and smirked pleased before the hawk flew off.

"I had some of my members do some digging. It appears that Akira and Akito were just henged shadow clones this whole time, created by Shikamaru Nara and Naruto Uzumaki. Those two are more powerful and smarter than I first thought, they will be perfect pawns for me." Danzo smirked at the confused and outraged looks on the shinobi before him.

Suddenly a loud boom echoed across the village as smoke rose up from the front gates. Every head snapped over to look and to their utter confusion and surprise Gamabunta and Katsuyu appeared from within the smoke, making their way through the large gate.

"How is that possible?" Danzo roared in anger glaring harshly at the two Sannin who looked just as confused as he felt. Jiraiya knew Naruto could have summoned Gamabunta, but Katsuyu was a complete mystery, Tsunade still had the contract and no one else had signed it even if the Godaime planned on letting Sakura sign it later on in her training.

"Don't look at us." Jiraiya said holding his hands up before another loud boom was heard and smoke appeared from behind the Hokage Monument. All the heads turned in that direction and to their horror/surprise, a huge bright red nine tailed fox rose up from and he let out a loud roar as he made his way down towards the village.

"No, no that is not possible!" Danzo screeched in anger/terror.

"Naruto…" Jiraiya whispered in horror, if the Nine-Tails had been released then that meant…

"He can't be." Tsunade placed a hand over her mouth, she knew giving that brat the Shodai's necklace would get him killed.

"What does that mean?" Sakura asked Kakashi worried, the Copy Nin's eye drooped.

"If the Nine-Tails has appeared like this, that means… The jinchūriki is dead and the seal has been broken." Kakashi said miserably and many of the genin gasped in shock and all eyes moved back to the Nine-Tails.

"Oh calm down, your screaming is hurting my ears. I'm not here to destroy anything, I'm just here to stop ROOT and Danzo from taking over your damn village at the request of the blond brat." Kurama grumbled, voice heard throughout Konoha. This calmed the ninjas' fears of Naruto being dead, but it only brought up more questions.

"That should not be possible!" Danzo hissed, he spun on his heels and his eye was brought to the box where Sai and Torune were standing, or at least were supposed to be standing. They were unconscious and tied to the chairs with ninja wire, all done silently without Danzo noticing.

"You better get used to the impossible, Danzo." Akira called out as he and Akito dropped down into the stadium; smoke covering the two as they went. Out of the smoke came Naruto and Shikamaru in battle worn outfits.

The two landed in different positions, Naruto stood with his flame design cloak billowing in the breeze and arms crossed, Raijin at his waist. Shikamaru was kneeling next to the blond with a smirk on his lips, Kage no Ejji gripped loosely in a horizontal position in his right hand that was thrown over his bent right knee and a trench knife on his left hand ready for use. His usually pulled back hair was down around his shoulders.

"You two really are Akira and Akito Kazama!" Danzo said in triumph.

"Guilty as charged." Naruto wiggled his fingers at the others in the barrier.

"How else were we going to save the Sandaime and kill Orochimaru?" Shikamaru asked raising an eyebrow.

"No one would have believed two genin did it, so we had to make a plan. We are sorry for lying to you, but it was necessary to save the village from the invasion by Oto." Naruto said, looking guiltily at his precious people behind the barrier.

"…Hey Shika, what happened to your hair?" Naruto eyed the Nara whose long black hair was hanging by his shoulders, strands in his eyes.

"One of the deer was thrilled to see me, but didn't want me to go." Shikamaru said, blowing a strand of his hair out of his eyes annoyed. Naruto just snickered at the sight and the annoyed look Shikamaru was now sporting.

"Enough! Shikamaru Nara and Naruto Uzumaki, submit yourselves to me and I will not kill your friends here." Danzo ordered stepping towards Naruto and Shikamaru.

"Don't you ever come near my son or his best friend Danzo." Minato snarled as he appeared in a yellow flash next to his son, Kushina appearing next to him in a swirl of leaves.

"I don't like what you did to my family Danzo, you're going to pay for that." Kushina cracked her fists, hair flowing up behind her like Kurama's tails.

"Get in line." Itachi grunted as he and Obito appeared on the free side of Shikamaru.

"You're late." Naruto said casually to the S rank rogue ninja.

"I had to chase him down, he's tiring." Itachi said in his defense, eyes flickering over to the barrier finding Sasuke right away. His eyes narrowed at the dried blood and bruise on his little brother's face and around his neck, Sasuke was looking back at Itachi with wide eyes.

"I like to think I'm exciting, I hadn't seen the village properly in years!" Obito whined waving cheerfully at Kakashi who had stumbled back a few steps making Iruka steady him.

"I blame you, I blame you completely." Naruto deadpanned to Itachi who smirked a bit.

"Why is he covered in bandages? It's worse than Kakashi's mask." Obito wrinkled his nose as he took in what Danzo looked like.

"T-the Yondaime and Itachi Uchiha!" Danzo stammered his victorious feeling disappearing as it gave way to fear and his mind spun trying to think of a way out of this.

"Just sit tight guys, we'll finish Danzo off once and for all and then we'll all sit down and have a nice long talk." Naruto promised the others who were all staring at the group in utter shock, eyes narrowing as he took in their states.

"If you make one move against me, I'll shrink the barrier and all of them will be killed!" Danzo cried out in triumph.

"Just try it." Naruto snarled.

Danzo went to make the needed hand seal, but found he couldn't move his body at all.

"W-What?" He shouted in outrage.

"Shadow Possession: Shuriken Jutsu successful." Shikamaru said smugly dropping his now empty left arm. Danzo's shadow was pinned to the ground behind him with Shikamaru's trench knife. Shikaku and Asuma looked proud if a bit confused at the perfect use of both their signature jutsu/weapon.

"You are getting really sneaky when using that." Naruto commented.

"Thanks, I practiced by following the other teams around and catching them off guard." Shikamaru said smugly as he stood up.

"It's time for you to show everyone what's under those bandages Danzo." Naruto commented lazily and with a flick of his wrist Shikamaru shot forward. With one fluid slash the Nara had sliced open all the bandages, the cloth being eaten away by darkness.

Jiraiya, Hiruzen and Shikaku's eyes widened slightly at the use of the exact same technique and movements as Akito had used during the invasion thus proving to them that Naruto and Shikamaru were truly Akira and Akito Kazama. The head of the Nara clan nodded to himself; things were starting to line up.

With the bandages gone, there was nothing to stop everyone in the arena from seeing how Danzo's body was covered in hundreds of Sharingan eyes.

Sasuke slapped his hands over his mouth to stop himself from retching; Sakura gripped his elbow in silent support while the Sandaime rubbed the young Uchiha's shoulders. Itachi let out an audible snarl at the sight before him as his own Sharingan appeared while Obito hissed like an injured cat at the sight. Sure he had hated his clan's way of thinking, but this was not what should have happened to them.

"You bastard!" Kushina screamed. Mikoto Uchiha had been her best friend and she had other friends among the clan that possessed the Sharingan.

"Naruto, normally I would not condone killing a man without a fair trial, but for Danzo I think what needs to happen is clear." Minato's face was thunderous.

"Together then Itachi?" Naruto nodded at his father.

"If we must." Itachi agreed, Naruto smirked and closed his eyes.

Orange-red markings appeared over his eyelids showing he was in Sage mode; his pupils slitted and his canines grew as his whiskers darkened. Orange chakra outlined him and formed nine tails as Kurama roared with power in the background, already done his job and currently trying to doze behind the Hokage monument before he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

He vaguely heard Jiraiya protesting at Naruto using the power, at forming too many tails, but he just went on with what he was doing and combined his power with the newly returned Kurama's.

"For the crimes you have committed against my family, the Uchiha, and countless others, you are sentenced to die." Naruto said in an emotionless ANBU tone of voice, his voice merging with Kurama's deeper one.

Itachi used his Sharingan as the black flames of his Amaterasu covered the left half of Danzo's body making the man cry out in pain and fear, blood started to seep out of Itachi's right eye. Seeing this Naruto leapt forward in sync with Kurama and shoved his clawed hand through Danzo's chest, having made a small rasengan in his palm beforehand.

"It's over." Naruto said with his and Kurama's voice forming a dual tone. He jumped back as Itachi's Amaterasu ate away at the rest of Danzo's body leaving nothing but ash in its place. Itachi let his eyes fade back to onyx and wiped away the blood as Naruto let his chakra shroud fade away along with sage mode.

Chapter 24

"So Tsunade, do you want to do the honors of breaking the seal or do you want me to take a look at it?" Minato asked curiously as the group approached the barrier holding the stunned silent group.

"Is that truly you Minato?" Tsunade asked, the first to break the silence.

"Pretty sure." Minato laughed after he checked out his limbs and hair.

"Oh yeah it's him." Jiraiya smiled brightly.

"Did your hair get whiter Jiraiya-sensei?" Minato asked curiously.

"Brat." Jiraiya grunted fondly.

"Kakashi, you're all grown up!" Minato grinned proudly as his eyes found his old student.

"If you're really back Minato-sensei, then…" Kakashi stepped forward eyeing both his sensei and best friend.

"I'm really here too Kakashi! Obito Uchiha at your service!" Obito snapped off a playful salute to the Copy Nin.

"Obito… I don't understand." Kakashi shook his head; suddenly the barrier pulsed once, twice before it fell away into nothing.

"You guys were busy so I figured I would get rid of the barrier." Naruto said innocently at the wide-eyed looks he was getting while Shikamaru stood nearby, making hand signs.

He balanced himself on his feet before he leaned his head back, curling his fingers around his mouth as he blew out a large stream of fire into the air and it took the form of the Uzumaki spiral.

"The others should be heading towards the Senju estate, we should get there as well. I'm not sure how people will take seeing an S rank rogue ninja and three 'dead' ninja out and about at this moment in time." Shikamaru reminded Naruto before he grunted as Ino flew at him, tackling him to the ground in a hug, tears in her eyes.

"You are an idiot!" Ino shouted at him, hugging him tightly.

Kushina took this chance and pounced on Kakashi, hugging him and pinching his cheeks ranting about how she always knew he would grow up to be so handsome while Obito snickered at Kakashi's expense.

"Don't you ever scare us like that again Shikamaru." Choji added in as he stood beside the downed Shikamaru.

"Yeah, I promise." Shikamaru hugged Ino back, rubbing her back soothingly.

"Need a hand?" Asuma offered his hand to his student once Ino finally released him.

"Thanks Asuma-sensei." Shikamaru smiled in relief as Asuma pulled him back to his feet and surprised him by then pulling him into a hug.

"I'm glad you're ok." Asuma breathed out smelling like cigarette smoke and cologne.

"Likewise sensei." Shikamaru said as he hugged his sensei back before he was released and his father hugged him tightly.

"I understand now son, I am sorry but I'm glad you came back." Shikaku whispered in his son's ear. Shikamaru let out a happy smile and hugged his father back, burying his face in his neck just reveling in the fact he was there and alive. Inoichi and Choza both ruffled Shikamaru's hair the best they could as Shikaku refused to release his hold on his son.

"Get over here Naruto." Jiraiya waved Naruto over, the blond shuffled over and stood under his godfather's all seeing eyes. "I'd like to say I'm upset, but that would be a lie." Jiraiya murmured.

"So… you don't hate me?" Naruto asked, finding his voice small, very unlike his usual self.

"Hate you? Never in a million years, I want some explanations of course, but I'm just…" Jiraiya couldn't put it into words. Seeing the man Naruto was turning into, how he brought his student and his wife back, reuniting Kakashi and Obito, Jiraiya couldn't find the right words.

"Proud, I'm proud." Jiraiya decided on, it wasn't all of what he wanted to express but it was a start. Naruto's face just lit up with a beaming smile and Jiraiya found that maybe that word was perfect.

"You little brat." Tsunade stormed over to the two, the blond tensing for punches at the very least, but instead the current blonde Hokage dragged the future blond Hokage into a tight hug, stroking his hair. "Never do anything so reckless again." Tsunade scolded as Naruto hugged her back.

"No promises Baa-chan." Naruto said cheekily, Tsunade let out a choked laugh before releasing him.

Pain bloomed over the back of his head, Naruto yelped and held onto his aching head.

"Ahhhhh, Sakura why would you do that?" Naruto whined forgoing the -chan, knowing it was his pink-haired teammate without looking.

"You are a complete idiot! I-I really thought you were dead! Idiot!" Sakura shouted, whacking the blond a few more times for good measure trying to hide the fact she looked as teary as Ino had.

"I'm sorry I worried you Sakura, but I can feel that all your training with Baa-chan is paying off!" Naruto beamed at her and she smiled back proud at his words. The same feeling she got when Akira had praised her skills, cementing the fact that Naruto and Shikamaru were Akira and Akito.

"Kashi-Nii-San!" Naruto leapt at his unsuspecting older brother/jounin sensei, the Copy Nin staggered back under the weight of the small blond who was attaching himself to his waist and dragging Iruka in for a group hug not getting any complaints from either one of the older men as they hugged their little brother back.

Meanwhile Sasuke had managed to shake off the Sandaime's hand on his shoulder and he rushed towards Itachi. The S rank missing nin looked warily at his approaching brother but all wariness disappeared when Sasuke forwent his 'I'm better than thou' persona and threw his arms around his older brother's waist, hugging him tightly as he used to when he was a child.

"Nii-San, I forgive you, just don't leave me alone anymore." Sasuke muttered loud enough for Itachi to hear.

"I'm not going anywhere, if I do I'm sure you wouldn't be opposed to coming with me." Itachi hugged his little brother back, a warm feeling he hadn't felt since he was a boy spread through his chest.

"So you two are really Akira and Akito?" Tenten asked as the teams surrounded Shikamaru and Naruto once they had been released by their family members.

"Yup, sorry for the deception." Naruto said glancing at the Sandaime who was talking with Minato and Kushina.

"So Shikamaru you are Akito?" Kiba turned to the Nara who was pulling his hair up once more thanks to the spare hair tie Ino lent him.

"That's right." Shikamaru nodded as Akamaru climbed up Naruto's body happily, nuzzling the blond who was laughing slightly.

"So that means you beat Sasuke into the ground with ease." Kiba's grin just became larger.

"I guess so." Shikamaru's lips twitched.

"Oi we better get to the meeting point, they will be wondering where we are." Naruto said glancing at the Nara, placing Akamaru into Hinata's arms, giving her a beaming smile making her blush brightly muttering something about her being happy Naruto was ok.

"Do you really have the heart to break up this reunion?" Shikamaru asked, pointing at Itachi and Sasuke talking, Obito and Kakashi making fun of each other while Minato and Kushina were talking with Jiraiya, Tsunade and Hiruzen.

"Yup." Naruto smirked and threw his arms up to the sides, his orange-red chakra chains flew out of him, a chain wrapping around the waist of Shikamaru, Itachi, Obito, Minato and Kushina. "See you guys at the Senju estate once everything is back to normal!" Naruto waved at the others as he floated up into the air using his jutsu from the failed invasion attempt pulling the others along with him.

"NARUTO!" Shikamaru roared at the blond annoyed, Obito and Kushina whooped happily while Minato and Itachi just sighed as they were whisked out of sight towards the Senju estate where the others were waiting leaving the Konoha ninja behind.

"…Those better be some damn good answers." Tsunade rubbed her forehead.

"Just like Kushina." Jiraiya laughed cheerfully.

"Can we come and hear what they have to say as well Milady?" Sakura asked her sensei hopefully.

"Of course, you all deserve to get some answers as well. For the moment however we have to make sure the village and its citizens are alright and we have to ship the ROOT members off to T&I to figure out how to de-program them." Tsunade nodded her head and the group got to work.

"So I think our huge reveal went rather well." Naruto said dropping into the shade under a large tree in the backyard of the Senju estate, Shikamaru sitting beside him with the others scattered around the yard.

"It's all finally over." Shikamaru said looking up at the blue sky through the leaves of the tree, the shadows and sunlight casting a beautiful pattern on the two chunin below.

"I never thought I would see the day, I'm just really happy." Naruto grinned, rubbing his hand across his eyes.

"Me too, Nar." Shikamaru smiled widely, it sinking in that they had done it. They had stopped so many horrible things from happening. Sure there would always be conflict but he knew that they could handle anything compared to what they had gone though.

"You were right Naruto, as soon as Konohamaru heard I was your cousin he was very helpful and accepted us right away." Nagato reported to his cousin.

"Watch out, you'll be expected to come play 'ninja' with us now." Naruto teased.

"I do not think I would mind that." Nagato admitted softly.

"Welcome to Konoha Nagato, it can become home for you, Konan and Yahiko, just say the word." Naruto promised.

"Thank you Naruto Uzumaki." Nagato bowed his head in respect and Naruto just waved it off.

"Well Shika, we have some time to kill. What do you say to a spar?" Naruto asked excitedly.

"We just finished fighting and you want to fight more? I demand a nap, at the very least!" Shikamaru raised his eyebrows at the blond.

"…You make a valid point." Naruto said as all previous excitement was drained out of him as it hit him how exhausted he truly was.

"Wake us when the others are in view." Shikamaru looked at the others before he and Naruto leaned against the other and the tree behind them. In seconds the two were fast asleep.

"I think Naruto has spent too much time with Shikamaru, he's even napping like a Nara now." Kushina giggled as she brushed her son's bangs out of his face.

"So you are the Yondaime Hokage then?" Hashirama walked over to Minato with an excited look that could rival Naruto's.

"I am." Minato nodded at the Shodai.

"We should spar! I want to see your skills!" Hashirama grinned.

"Sure!" Minato said, always having wanted to see the Shodai in action up close.

"No you will not!" Mito and Kushina both grabbed their husbands by their ears dragging them away from the other.

"You will wake the children and if you do…" Kushina let her threat trail off while Mito glared fiercely at her husband.

"Yes ma'am." Both men cowered under the fire of their wives' glare. It must be an Uzumaki thing.

"They are approaching." Konan reported as a flurry of paper returned to her outstretched arms, a small smile appearing on her face when she spotted Jiraiya among them.

"Time to wake up Naru-chan." Kushina cooed as she slowly woke Naruto up, the blond kicking Shikamaru as he did so. The Nara grumbled annoyed, rubbing at his knee where the blond had made contact.

"M'kay mom." Naruto muttered as he rubbed his eyes, making Kushina squeal at her son's adorableness.

"This should be fun." Shikamaru grunted as he and Naruto dragged themselves to the front of the house to meet the other group.

"Shika-chan! Naru-chan! I was so worried!" Yoshino shouted as she dragged her boys into a tight hug.

"Mom- I can't breathe." Shikamaru gasped out. Yoshino released the two and looked them up and down for injuries, taking in their dirt-covered clothing and the way Shikamaru was shielding his right side.

"You're hurt Shikamaru." Yoshino said waving Tsunade over to check her son over.

"Cracked rib, it must have been causing you pain. Why didn't you say anything?" Tsunade clicked her tongue annoyed as she moved her glowing green hand over Shikamaru's right side.

"What did I say about hiding wounds from me Shika?" Naruto asked sweetly. Shikamaru (after Tsunade healed his rib) backed away from the blond.

"We had other things to worry about…" Shikamaru protested before he yelped as Naruto sent a herd of shadow clones at the Nara, tackling him to the ground and shouting at how he was an idiot.

"Now that we've taken care of that, come meet the others!" Naruto said cheerfully once his shadow clones disappeared and he dragged Shikamaru behind him much to the amusement of the others.

The newly arrived group walked into the backyard and froze at the sight before them, they had gotten used to the idea of Minato, Kushina, Obito and Itachi being back, but seeing Hashirama, Mito, Tobirama, Nagato, Konan and Yahiko standing there casually made their minds freeze up.

"There's my little granddaughter!" Hashirama cried out at the sight of Tsunade, he swept her up in a tight hug.

"You followed in my footsteps becoming Godaime Hokage, the first lady Hokage of Konoha and the village isn't in debt. Oh I am SO proud of you!" Hashirama ranted as he rubbed his cheek against Tsunade's.

Tobirama slapped his palm against his forehead at his older brother's antics, sometimes he wondered if the two were really related.

"You are overwhelming the poor girl." Mito scolded her husband, extracting her granddaughter from his hold. "Let me look at you my beautiful, strong granddaughter."

"Grandma? Grandpa?" Tsunade asked in a small voice filled with wonder.

"It's really us Tsunade." Mito assured her, smoothing back her blonde bangs. Tsunade gave a small smile before she hugged her grandmother tightly.

"Tobirama-sensei?" Hiruzen asked in shock as the Nidaime approached the Sandaime and his son.

"You look well Hiruzen, I am glad. You have done a wonderful job leading this village." Tobirama said gruffly.

"Thank you, sensei." Hiruzen smiled, feeling odd that he was once again saying those words.

"You must be my student's son, I am Tobirama Senju the Nidaime Hokage." Tobirama bowed his head to Asuma.

"It's a pleasure Nidaime-sama, I am Asuma." Asuma bowed back in respect and awe at meeting the man of his childhood bedtime stories.

"Jiraiya-sensei." Nagato smiled awkwardly at the Toad Sannin, who was staring at the trio in shock.

"Nagato, Konan, Yahiko. I don't understand, how are you three…?" Jiraiya trailed off.

"You have an amazing student sensei, he turned my hatred around, gave us hope, an offer of a home, and I am proud to call him my cousin." Nagato said truthfully, glancing at where Naruto was standing with Shikamaru by the other genin who were laughing at something the blond had said.

"He has a way of doing that." Jiraiya smiled fondly at his godson before he broke all composure and pulled his three previous students into a group hug and was pleased when he got hugs in return.

"…And then Shika here decided that he was going to try a new hairstyle, let's just say we had to run out of town fast, too many people of both gender liked his hair waaaayyy too much." Naruto finished a story leaving the other genin laughing (minus Sasuke who had gone to be with his brother).

"We almost got away too,but it was those blue eyes of yours that doomed us." Shikamaru poked Naruto in the side.

"I can't help it if people love my baby blues." Naruto fluttered his eyes at Shikamaru who snorted.

"What happened?" Choji asked, amused at the duo.

The truth was that it had happened in Suna, so Temari and Gaara had come to their rescue (more like Temari did, Gaara was too busy trying not to laugh). So the two improvised.

"A local 'heart-throb' came around and distracted the group long enough for us to get out of there." Naruto said and the group 'ah'ed.

"Naruto, I think it's time for that explanation." Minato interrupted the group, making the genin gawp like fish at the sight of the Yondaime so close to them and actually alive.

"Sure thing dad." Naruto said brightly.

"D-DAD!?" The genin screeched, drawing the attention of everyone else in the yard.

"Yeah, Kushina Uzumaki is my mom and Minato Namikaze the Yondaime Hokage is my dad." Naruto said blankly, trying to understand what the big deal was as Minato draped his arm around his son's shoulder pulling him into his side smiling kindly at the stunned genin.

"I'm starting to think you will never stop surprising me Naruto." Sakura rubbed her forehead.

"Oh Sakura, I'm just getting started." Naruto grinned.

"Do we finally get our explanations?" Obito asked as he dragged Kakashi and Iruka (who Obito had taken a liking to once he saw how Kakashi was around the chunin) over to his sensei and his sensei's kid.

"Don't worry, Obito, we will tell you all everything you want to know." Shikamaru nodded his head.

"Let's head inside, there could still be Danzo supporters around." Tsunade ordered and the large group headed into the estate, Mito falling into the role of hostess, as it was her home. She gracefully led the group to the largest and most comfortable room they had, Naruto and Shikamaru grabbed a two seat couch at the far end of the room where there were no windows and could see every angle of the room. Hashirama and Tobirama exchanged looks, that couch was the most strategically sound place in the room and usually where the two brothers sat.

When everyone had found a seat in their desired seating arrangements all eyes turned to the two chunin.

Naruto looked around the room and any happy or goofy look he had before draining away in an instant as Shikamaru's face took an emotionless state much like an ANBU.

"All your questions can be answered in three words." Naruto said grimly, shaking his head a bit as the dead forms of everyone in the room flashed over their present forms, they had never all been in the same room at once and he couldn't stop his memories completely.

"We're time travellers." Shikamaru deadpanned to the silent room. Some showed understanding as things clicked into place while others showed disbelief.

"That confirms my theory." Shikaku sighed out while Minato nodded along already having heard the truth from his son and Shikamaru previously.

"You can't expect us to believe that." Kiba sputtered. Akamaru nipped harshly at his partner's fingers before he leapt up onto the couch and settled on Shikamaru's lap. Shikamaru gave a smile and pet Akamaru the way he liked to be petted.

"It's much easier to pet you when you're this small, when you became bigger than Kiba it was more difficult." Shikamaru laughed and Kiba's mouth opened and shut trying to imagine that.

"Finally something that makes sense!" Obito nodded his head, crossing his arms.

"It would explain why you two are so powerful." Hashirama nodded, gaining a proud look from the chunin's parents and senseis. The others just looked at the 12-year-olds who were playing with Akamaru; the Shodai Hokage said those two were 'so powerful'.

"It also explains how you knew exactly what Madara Uchiha, Zetsu and Kaguya were planning, and how to counter them before it turned into a full out war that would involve the Five Nations. I am correct to assume that is what happened in your future?" Tobirama theorized, crossing his arms. Shikamaru nodded gravely.

"Madara Uchiha?" The Sandaime's head snapped to the side.

"Zetsu, as in the Akatsuki member?" Jiraiya stared at Naruto with worry.

"Believe it or not, Zetsu was the true brains behind the Akatsuki. He's annoying as hell- the white half of him can make millions of shadow clones of himself- but his plan was deadly the first time around." Naruto said as he raised his hand, Akamaru barking a bit as he jumped up at the limb.

"Wait, wait. What about the other members of the Akatsuki?" Jiraiya waved his hands as he looked at Nagato, Konan, Yahiko, and Itachi.

"Let's see. Kisame didn't want anything to do with our battle so he left to roam for a while until he comes to annoy Itachi." Naruto said after a moment of thought, Itachi scowled at the reminder.

"I took out Hidan." Shikamaru said, pleased at the memory.

"Hidan, the immortal Hidan?" Jiraiya was looking at Shikamaru with more respect while Shikamaru's parents and team looked worried at the Toad Sannin's words.

"That's the one, I immobilized him and sealed him in a scroll." Shikamaru cut in before any more questions about the bastard were asked.

"Gaara got Deidara and Sasori, he was far too pleased about that." Naruto chuckled at the stunned looks on Jiraiya and Tsunade's faces. "Oh, right. Gaara and all the other jinchūriki are time travellers as well. Well, not the same way we are, when I fixed each of their seals Kurama's chakra merged with theirs so their memories and abilities returned. I have to say having our Godaime Kazekage back helped move things along." Naruto said casually.

"Gaara is going to be Godaime Kazekage?" Lee asked, amazed at the fact he fought a future Kage.

"They are a force to be reckoned with when together." Tobirama muttered.

"Then once we got Nagato and Konan on our side we hunted down Kakuzu. With them holding him in place Shikamaru and I sent two high powered rasengans at him, destroying all five of his hearts before he could detach them." Naruto said smugly.

"You can both do rasengan?" Minato asked surprised.

"Naruto lost a bet and taught me the rasengan." Shikamaru said with a smirk.

"Hey I mastered mine in a week! You took a month!" Naruto poked Shikamaru in the side. All users of the rasengan's mouths dropped, it only took him a week to learn it?

"Yeah but to add my shadows it didn't take nearly as long as it did when you were adding in your Fuuton." Shikamaru shot back with a smirk and more stares were given to the two.

"You perfected it." Minato's face lit up with a grin, he knew his son could do what he couldn't.

"I do believe they need a demonstration Shika." Naruto said, eyeing the disbelieving looks.

"Troublesome. Kage: Rasengan!" Shikamaru held his right hand out, bracing his wrist with his left hand while Naruto simply held up his right palm.

"Fuuton: Rasenshuriken!" Naruto beamed as a small rasenshuriken appeared with a high pitched keening in his palm while blue chakra and black shadows swirled around in Shikamaru's right palm. "Trust us, this time around the Akatsuki didn't stand a chance." Naruto said smugly as he and Shikamaru let their jutsu disappear.

"Then what happened last time?" Neji asked cautiously.

"There was a lot of death and destruction." Naruto said simply, not willing to say much more.

"What else happened?" Kurenai asked softly.

"It's better if you all don't know the details of the war and how people died." Shikamaru shook his head. He and Naruto were unsure if they could handle reliving the war. It was officially a different future and should have no effect on the future they were heading towards now.

"That future has been averted, all we did was bring back the previous Hokages like what happened in our timeline with the Edo Tensei, the Shinigami himself granted our success. We just did some convincing and made genius plans. All in all I'd say that was a damn good 'training trip'." Naruto said smugly.

"Speaking of, Akira and Akito Kazama. Explain. Now." Tsunade threatened the two, cracking her fists.

"…Basically when we said we were seers, we were in truth talking about our future and what happened then." Naruto said glancing at the Sandaime with sad eyes.

"…So in your future I was killed by Orochimaru during the invasion and…" Hiruzen trailed off.

"Three years from then the Fourth Shinobi War began, it razed the Five Nations to the ground, everyone everywhere were destroyed. There was nothing left." Shikamaru said simply as everyone wincing at his words.

"…Why do I have the feeling what you two told us what happened with Orochimaru in the Forest of Death wasn't completely accurate." Asuma raised his eyebrows at the two.

"We just omitted some parts you didn't need to know about at the time." Naruto shrugged his shoulders.

"For example, the reason Orochimaru had a mismatched arm was because Nar tore the other one off." Shikamaru said proudly.

"Don't sell yourself short Shika, you killed Kabuto taking out one of the strongest yet annoying players in the war. No Kabuto equals no mass Edo Tensei." Naruto said just as proudly while Jiraiya blanched at the mention of a mass Edo Tensei.

"Killing him did feel amazing." Shikamaru admitted to everyone's shock.

"What did he do that was so horrible?" Yoshino asked her son, working past her shock of her son taking pleasure in killing someone.

"Imagine all your previously dead allies and enemies coming back to life, no control over their actions but still conscious, only able to watch as they attack and kill their loved ones, while their loved ones have to struggle to take them down." Naruto said with no emotion while Shikamaru gritted his teeth and subconsciously rubbed the wound that was killing him in the previous timeline that he received from the re-animated Choji.

"That bastard." Yoshino hissed in anger as others agreed with her and the genin went pale white at the mere words.

"Basically why I killed him in the forest." Shikamaru nodded his head.

"So let me get this straight, you two were the only survivors of the Fourth Shinobi War in all of the Five Nations, I'm assuming the Nine-Tails did a Space-Time jutsu to bring you two back to your genin days where you proceeded to make plans to stop deaths and bring about a brighter, war-less future?" Tsunade asked in awe.

"That sounds right Baa-chan." Naruto nodded his head after a moment of thought.

"Then you went on to use the Edo Tensei to bring back the Shodai, his wife, the Nidaime, the Yondaime, his wife and Yahiko's soul back to his body after convincing three previous Akatsuki members to join your cause while becoming chunin, taking out Orochimaru and Kabuto along with destroying the rest of the Akatsuki and bringing all nine jinchūriki together? Only then you decided to use your aliases that you used to save the Sandaime and the village to leave said village to gather all previously mentioned allies together so you can go fight a battle to stop an upcoming war while keeping everything a secret from all of us?" Jiraiya summed up once more.

"Well when you put it like that it sounds kind of impressive, but yeah basically." Shikamaru mused.

"Just how much have you been holding back in training Naru-chan?" Kakashi eyed his little brother in shock.

"Oh Kashi-Nii-San if I went full out against you, you wouldn't last a minute." Naruto laughed cheerfully.

"Understatement." Hashirama muttered much to the room's amazement.

"I think we deserve to hear your ranks at the very least." Shikaku stated looking at his son and the blond he now saw as part of his clan.

"Shikamaru Nara, the last of the Nara clan. Chief strategist for the Allied Shinobi Forces, personal advisor to the Rokudaime Hokage, and Commander of the Allied Shinobi Forces ANBU squads. I am higher than elite jounin, but below Kage." Shikamaru said earning gasps from around the room.

"Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, the last of both my clans. Rokudaime Hokage, leader of the Allied Shinobi Forces, Seal Master, Toad Sage and jinchūriki of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Shikamaru said that I'm officially ranked as a Kage, but my power is on a completely different and higher level than Kage." Naruto said just as strongly getting more gasps from the room.

"Damn that sounds cool." Naruto laughed and Shikamaru rolled his eyes fondly at the blond.

"That's because you are cool, remember? Gai and Lee said so at your coronation." Shikamaru reminded the blond while the aforementioned shinobi perked up at their names.

"Oh yeah, they managed to drag Neji and Tenten into 'dancing' with them. It made my night." Naruto laughed while Neji and Tenten looked horrified at the mere idea of doing so.

"Any other questions or can Shika and I go sleep? Saving the future is exhausting and it's only now sinking in that we have stopped our future from happening." Naruto spoke honestly as he stood up, stretching his arms before he dragged the Nara up off the couch pretending he didn't hear the whine he was getting.

"Go rest, we'll wake you two up for dinner." Kushina promised, dropping a kiss on Naruto's forehead while Yoshino did the same for Shikamaru, neither of them backing away embarrassed like normal kids their age would.

The two stumbled out of the room pushing at each other playfully leaving a room full of stunned people behind them. Naruto dragged Shikamaru into his room and the two without a word got into more comfortable sleep clothes and curled up on the large bed, the other's presence soothing and before long they fell asleep to the other's chakra signature and the chakra sources below them.

Chapter 25

"Kakashi dear, go wake up your otouto." Kushina called sweetly to the jounin who was sitting with Iruka and the other jounin introducing Obito to them once again.

Kakashi just stood up, brushing his pants off, as he knew better than to disobey Kushina when she used that sweet tone of voice even after all this time.

"If it's anything like the last time we had to wake them I'll come too." Asuma spoke up, following Kakashi up the stairs passing Sasuke and Itachi who were sitting by Tsunade as the Godaime took a look at the older Uchiha's eyes as he had an illness thanks to overuse of his Sharingan.

The two jounin entered Naruto's room to see both time travellers fast asleep curled towards each other, peaceful looks on their faces like all the weight of the world had finally lifted off their shoulders and in a way it had been.

"I don't want to wake them, but they need to eat." Asuma muttered to Kakashi who nodded his agreement.

Kakashi and Asuma went to their student's sides and gently woke the two up, wary of their battle reflexes that they now knew the two possessed.

"Uh, wha?" Naruto asked groggily as he rubbed his eyes as he sat up, the shoulder of his green shirt slipping down his arm- overall looking adorable and very young.

"It's time to eat, Naru-chan." Kakashi gave an eye smile.

"M'kay Kashi-Nii-San." Naruto suddenly was a blur as he jumped onto Kakashi's back, making his sensei give him a piggyback. "Onwards Nii-San!"

"Once you mention food it's all over." Shikamaru said knowingly.

"You don't need a piggyback ride do you?" Asuma raised an eyebrow.

"Nah. I could use a cigarette though." Shikamaru said honestly as he slid out of the bed.

"What?" Asuma asked in shock. "I thought you hated smoking?"

"The smoke always gets in my eyes and Kurenai always gets on my case whenever she catches me." Shikamaru grumbled as he stumbled out of the room, his sensei by his side.

"As she should, it's a horrible habit, more so for someone so young." Asuma lectured.

"I understand why you smoke now." Shikamaru glanced at his sensei with a sad smile and it struck Asuma how old Shikamaru's eyes looked.

"Promise me you won't take it up this time." Asuma stopped Shikamaru before they went down the stairs.

"I don't have a reason to this time." Shikamaru promised. "Just don't die on me."

Shikamaru brushed past Asuma and headed down the stairs leaving his sensei stunned. He was the reason why Shikamaru had started to smoke; it must have hit him extremely hard. He shook his head and mentally promised Shikamaru that he wouldn't die anytime soon.

"Ooh I have missed this." Naruto inhaled his plate of food that Yoshino had made for the large group with the help of Kushina, Mito, Choji, Choza, Minato, Hinata, and Konan (who asked to be taught) who in turn had dragged Nagato and Yahiko with her.

"How is your training with Baa-chan and Jiji going?" Naruto asked Sakura and Sasuke between bites of food.

"I'm really improving in my taijutsu and chakra control, I can make a crack in the ground when I punch now!" Sakura told Naruto excitedly.

"You'll have to fight me if you want to know how my training is going, dobe." Sasuke smirked, less arrogant as he had been.

"I'll take it easy on you, teme." Naruto smirked back, the air of rivalry appearing between the two, however, it was more friendly than before.

"So when you two were Akira and Akito and you were training us, the reason you knew exactly what we needed to work on was because you knew us in the future?" Shino turned to Shikamaru and Naruto who were helping themselves to seconds.

"Basically, Shikamaru witnessed the processes because I was gone from the village for about three years travelling and training with Ero-Sennin, but I think I know more than he does now!" Naruto laughed at the offended look he was getting from his godfather.

"I doubt that!" Jiraiya snorted.

"I don't." Naruto smirked as orange-red markings appeared over his eyelids, his pupils changing. "Perfect sage mode."

"…Brat." Jiraiya blinked in shock at the ease Naruto slipped into sage mode as Naruto let it fade away and he dug back into his food with gusto.

"Speaking of, Shika we are sparring after this. I don't care if you want a nap or not." Naruto pointed his chopsticks at the Nara who looked up from his food with a glint in his eyes.

"You're on Hokage-sama, try not to be too upset when you lose." Shikamaru smirked and ducked a dumpling that Naruto sent flying at his friend's head.

"Taijutsu only to start with." Naruto set the rules and Shikamaru nodded in agreement not to use any weapons or other jutsus.

"This I've got to see." Kiba said excitedly while Lee and Gai looked very interested in the idea of seeing the two time travellers battle in taijutsu.

"That was amazing! Thank you so much!" Naruto bowed his head at the people who made the food, patting his stomach happily.

"It had been far too long since we've had a home cooked meal." Shikamaru added in also bowing his head.

"It was our pleasure." Yoshino assured her boys while Kushina nodded her head in agreement.

"Time to spar!" Naruto sang happily as he grabbed Shikamaru by the collar and dragged him out into the backyard, the others following amused and intrigued at the fight the two were going to have.

The two bowed after they stretched out their muscles and dropped into a stance that strongly resembled both Gai and Lee's taijutsu stance and the Hyuuga Gentle Fist. At a silent signal Naruto launched himself at Shikamaru, completely focused on the fight.

"Konoha Whirlwind!" Naruto shouted as he slammed his leg down. Shikamaru performed a couple backward cartwheels and a handspring so he landed on a nearby tree branch to avoid the powerful kick from the blond that left a large crater where he had been previously standing.

"That's our Konoha Whirlwind, Gai-sensei!" Lee gasped at the blond while Gai raised his large eyebrows in wonder.

Naruto snapped his head upwards and leapt out of the dent while Shikamaru pushed himself off the tree and threw a couple Jukenpo palm thrusts towards the blond, who ducked and dodged out of the way making Shikamaru's palms hit a tree. The trunk shattered on impact. Shikamaru spun around and launched a basic roundhouse kick at Naruto, the blond crossed his arms to block but he still was forced backwards from the power of the kick.

"Neji-Nii-San- isn't Shikamaru-kun using the Gentle Fist?" Hinata asked, loud enough for others to hear. Her relationship with her cousin had been mended and now they were more along the lines of brother and sister.

"It does closely resemble it, but the way they move and strike are different. More effective." Neji said, his Byakugan activating so he could study their movements more closely.

The Nara and Uzumaki-Namikaze got into close combat as they struck at the other relentlessly, before they suddenly leapt away from the other, not breathing heavily at all.

"Good to know we haven't lost our touch, Neji and Lee would have kicked our asses if we forgot all they taught us." Naruto laughed as he wiped some sweat off his forehead.

"What do you mean we taught you that?" Lee asked from the sidelines.

"In the war, no one cared about whose techniques belonged to what clan any longer, if it could help you get stronger you learnt it as fast as you could. Besides…" Shikamaru trailed off catching himself before he could say anymore.

"Besides what?" Neji pressed.

"After… Gai died in battle, Lee taught us all his taijutsu style in order to let Gai's legacy live on. Hinata and Neji did the same when Madara Uchiha wiped out their clan along with the rest of the village survivors." Naruto said emotionlessly, deciding not to mention that Kabuto then reanimated Gai and forced him to fight against his students, killing Tenten before Lee could seal him.

"When we said we were the only survivors we were not kidding, if you don't want to know the answer to something then don't ask. You'll go crazy dwelling on something that did not happen to you." Shikamaru advised before he turned back to Naruto who tilted his head to the side. Both nodded and they knew the rules had changed, Shikamaru brought out his trench knives while Naruto pulled out Raijin. Gai, Lee, Hinata and Neji all swallowed hard but tried their best to focus on the fight to follow Shikamaru's suggestion.

Asuma and Tenten looked on, more interested now that weapons were being used. Asuma was interested in how well Shikamaru could actually handle the trench knives and an idea as to why Shikamaru taught himself to use them crossed into his mind. Shikamaru must have learned how to use them after he died as a way to honor him.

The blades clashed against each other, sending sparks flying everywhere as the two pressed back against the other.

Naruto's Raijin started to come alive with Raiton and he managed to push Shikamaru backwards.

"Two can play that game Nar, let's see whose Raiton is stronger!" Shikamaru shouted as his trench knives came alive with his own Raiton pushing Naruto backwards so they were back to their original spot.

Waves of Raiton chakra pulsed over the backyard, sending some of the genin skidding backwards, their senseis or parents reaching out to steady them while they kept their eyes trained on the fight before them. The Hokages and Sannin nodded their heads, impressed at the power behind the two time travellers in front of them.

Naruto lashed out suddenly with his right leg while Shikamaru did the same with his left, they made contact as their blades left the others and the two leapt back eyeing the other.

"That was great!" Naruto burst out laughing and Shikamaru grinned as well as the two placed their weapons back in their rightful places.

"How come all our spars always end in ties?" Shikamaru asked as they walked over to the group.

"Must be because we know each other's moves too well." Naruto suggested.

"Oh no! Shika!" Naruto suddenly stopped; Shikamaru jerked to a halt and looked back at the horror struck Naruto, concerned.

"What?" Shikamaru asked his eyes darting around looking for threats as his body unconsciously dropped into a defensive stance.

"We didn't plan for this!" Naruto said, eyes widening in fear.

"We didn't plan for Danzo to take over the village, but that's what happened and we dealt with it easy enough. What's wrong?" Shikamaru said, hand going to the hilt of his katana.

"We have to go through it again!" Naruto moaned, dropping to his knees.

"What's wrong Naruto?" Minato asked worriedly as he stepped towards his son, his own senses open.

"Shika, we have to go through puberty again!" Naruto cried out in horror, Shikamaru blinked once before he too fell to his knees and everyone watching had their mouths open in shock. This was what the two were freaking out about?

"I don't think I can handle Ino and Sakura's mood swings again." Shikamaru buried his face in his hands.

"Oi!" Ino and Sakura shouted, offended.

"Oh shit, I was spared that, but then… the fangirls appeared." Naruto shuddered; the Uchihas and Kakashi both shuddered, understanding Naruto's fear of fangirls.

"That's what happens when you train 24/7 and then go from four feet to six feet." Shikamaru snorted at the blond who was looking at his 12-year-old body annoyed.

"I don't think I can stand my voice cracking again!" Naruto cried out in distress as Shikamaru stood up, dusting off his knees before he whacked the blond upside the head.

"Don't freak me out like that again you idiot." Shikamaru scolded before he shoved his hands into his pants pockets and shuffled inside only to flop face down onto the closest couch.

"Yeah, yeah." Naruto agreed as he followed the Nara inside falling onto the end of another couch, tipping his head backwards.

"…What are you two going to do now?" Tsunade asked the two as the others joined them inside the house.

"Huh, didn't really think about that… To be completely honest we weren't sure we were even going to live through the battle with Madara, Zetsu and Kaguya this time around so we didn't plan too far in advance." Naruto rubbed his chin, not noticing the dark mood that covered the others in the room at his words.

"We have some basic ideas on how we want to merge all the nations once again to become the Allied Shinobi Forces, but that will take time and patience. Also there is the fact we have to come up with a good reason as to why previously dead ninja and a missing nin are back in the village without causing an uproar, and then there is the council and the Hyuuga clan's curse seal…" Shikamaru trailed off as he pushed himself up so he was lying on his back instead of his face.

"Basic ideas, huh?" Shikaku smiled at his son while the two Hyuugas stared in hope and wonder at the two time travellers who wanted to help deal with their clan's curse seal.

"Or we could sit back and let Baa-chan and the others deal with that, after I'm not Hokage anymore, oh and Baa-chan. One word in regards to paperwork… shadow clones." Naruto suggested smugly.

All the Hokages in the room stared at the smug blond before they started to grumble and mutter.

"Of course, why didn't I think of that?" Minato grumbled.

"There, there dear." Mito was biting back a smile as she patted the Shodai's arm as the first Hokage was grumbling to himself.

"I think that's a great idea Nar." Shikamaru agreed, crossing his arms behind his head to give himself a pillow of sorts. "I've had enough planning and fighting to last me a lifetime."

"This coming from a Nara, I'm worried Shika, you live for making plans to outsmart your opponents." Naruto teased.

"True and as you have yet to beat me at shogi I can't stop using my brain just yet." Shikamaru teased.

"I was close last time!" Naruto protested.

"Whatever you say Nar." Shikamaru smirked.

"Oh I've been wondering, why can I use sage mode now? I mean when we first came back we were lacking chakra control." Naruto stopped as Shikamaru snorted loudly.

"Lacking? Nar, we had shit control. You tried to walk up the side of a tree and once your foot touched it, the tree broke in half." Shikamaru reminded the Uzumaki-Namikaze.

Team 7 blinked at the words, they had been there when Naruto had learned how to walk up the side of a tree with chakra. He and Sasuke were up all night trying to do it and now Naruto could barely touch the side of a tree without it breaking.

"Ugh, don't remind me." Naruto covered his eyes with his hand. "Tried to make 10 shadow clones, ending up making about 100." He muttered annoyed at the lack of control he had back then. The Sandaime and Iruka blinked at that, they both had seen Naruto when he first created his shadow clones and that was when he had no control, how much chakra did the blond really have?

"Back to my point. I wasn't able to even attempt sage mode until I was 16 and I tried a lot when we first came back, but my body couldn't hold it. Now I can hold it, I don't understand how that's possible." Naruto continued on.

"Maybe it has something to do with that Uzumaki henge we performed before we went to gather everyone." Shikamaru suggested, gesturing at the people they had gathered before they fought the battle against Madara, Zetsu, and Kaguya.

"Maybe. I have a feeling I'm going to have to visit Mt. Myoboku soon." Naruto rubbed his neck with both hands as he thought.

"Careful what you wish for, they might reverse summon you." Shikamaru teased.

"The same goes for you Shika, they haven't seen you in a while either." Naruto shot back with a smirk.

"Oh you mean that giant battle deer you summoned during the battle?" Obito asked sounding excited as he remembered the beautiful and dangerous doe that fought alongside them.

"That was Kōsetsu, she is the chief of the Shēdo Shika Ichizoku." Shikamaru smiled, thinking of the chief deer and his katana.

"The Shade Deer Clan?" Shikaku asked curiously, edging closer to his son's side.

"Yeah, during the war I wanted some time to myself and came across a run down shrine in the forest. I found the contract hidden within, signed it seeing as all the previous names were all Naras. I proved myself worthy and received Kage no Ejji." Shikamaru explained, his father nodding along as he planned to discuss this further with his son later once everything had settled down.

"We will take care of everything else, you two have done so much for us without anyone knowing it. You two deserve to have a childhood and not worry about what the future holds." Tsunade told her nephew and the Nara.

"Baa-chan, that means a lot." Naruto grinned at the blonde, fingers twirling the Shodai's necklace out of habit, the chakra within the stone soothing him like it always had.

"Here, this will come in handy." Shikamaru pulled out a scroll, tossing it to the Godaime Hokage. She caught it and silently unrolled it and her eyes widened.

"These are all your ideas, they are pretty detailed too…" Tsunade handed the scroll over to the other Hokages who looked rather impressed.

"Like Naruto said, we weren't sure if we were going to survive the battle so we decided to write all our ideas for the future we wanted to create in case something happened." Shikamaru shrugged his shoulders.

"This will be a major help, things should go much smoother with this information and your ideas." Tsunade said her voice full of gratitude. Shikamaru nodded at the Godaime before he stood up stretching his arms out.

"I'm going to go cloud watch, it's been ages since I've been able to do it properly." Shikamaru announced.

"I'm going to drag Kurama out for a spar." Naruto said cheerfully as he stood up off his couch. The two wandered out to the backyard, Shikamaru easily leapt up onto a thick tree branch and laid himself down so he was looking up at the blue, cloudy sky between the green leaves. Naruto slammed his bloodied hand against the ground by his feet and a seven-foot Kurama appeared.

"At least I'm not the size of a cat this time." Kurama grumbled.

"You wouldn't be any fun to fight against if you were that small." Naruto pointed out before he launched himself at the Nine-Tails, laughing with a carefree smile on his face.

"The future is in good hands." Minato smiled as he watched his son spar with the Tailed Beast, the other genin inching closer to watch the fight interested. Minato smiled wider when his son dragged the others into the fight, all of them ganging up on Kurama. They were working well together and had Kurama on the ropes much to the Nine-Tails' annoyance. "Very good hands indeed." Minato murmured to himself as he turned to where the others were discussing plans based off of the scroll Shikamaru gave Tsunade.


Three Years Later

Shikamaru Nara was sitting on his favorite hill overlooking the village, the clouds above slowly inching their way across the vast blue sky. He let a soft smile cross his lips as he breathed in deeply; things had been peaceful and perfect since the Danzo incident and the fallout of everything they revealed, but it only served to strengthen the bonds of the village and the other villages in the Five Nations.

"Sorry I'm late Shika!" Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze (officially recognized as a Namikaze now) called out, waving his right arm in the air as he hurried over to his best friend's side, dropping ungracefully on the green grass beside the Nara letting out an exhausted sigh.

"At least you made it in one piece, what happened this time?" Shikamaru asked, amused at the look Naruto had on his face.

"Once we finished training, Sakura had dragged Sasuke off for their date. Sai disappeared with Yamato-taicho to attend his rehab with the others- he attempted a smile today and it didn't freak us out so I think he's making progress." Naruto explained and Shikamaru smiled a bit at those words. "Then Kakashi decided he wanted to test his Raiton: Rasengan against my rasenshuriken, but thankfully before we could Obito showed up with Iruka-sensei in tow. Apparently they were late to a meeting so they dragged Kakashi off after saying Itachi wouldn't be there as he was currently stalking Sasuke and Sakura's date with Tsunade as his partner in crime. I then had to run across the rooftops to avoid my fangirls. I'm exhausted, even fighting a war didn't leave me this tired." Naruto finished the summary of his day.

"Sounds like an average day around the village." Shikamaru laughed as he leaned back on the grass next to the blond. "Where's Kurama?"

"Oh he's playing with some of the kids at the park, not of his own will mind you, but when he's that small he can't exactly get away from the kids." Naruto laughed loudly, remembering the horror on Kurama's furry face when he was dragged away by a group of pre-academy students.

"Things sure have changed haven't they?" Shikamaru smiled fondly.

"Yeah, they sure have." Naruto smiled softly, closing his cerulean eyes.

The two chunin lay in comfortable silence, they could easily be Kage level (or higher in Naruto's case) by now, but they decided they wanted to be chunin for a while and not have to deal with the extra work that came with being higher ranks. Unofficially when they were sent on missions they were the unspoken leaders of the groups and those missions always were successes, in one way or another. They were also used as advisors (mainly Shikamaru, as Naruto still managed to escape when people came after him with questions about plans) when major problems were encountered.

The Konoha 12 were all being trained differently than any previous teams, they were being trained by the best of the best. Tsunade had also created a new academy program (getting rid of the horrible senseis as well, basically a total re-haul that only Iruka-sensei had came out unscathed from), training them better and harder than before, giving everyone a chance- even people who had no access to their chakra like Lee.

Tsunade had stayed on as Godaime Hokage while the past Hokages all decided they would teach ninja they deemed worthy, there were quite a few of them and every single one of them were getting stronger and stronger as days passed. The past Hokages and their wives also decided to live normal lives and only went on missions when it was 100% necessary for them to be a part of them.

Minato and Jiraiya had cheerfully removed the Caged Bird Seal from all members of the branch family of the Hyuuga clan against the elders' wishes. Said elders were taken out of power by the combination of Hiashi Hyuuga and Tsunade; then, the two branches had merged together no longer defined by main and branch families.

After it had happened Hinata found Naruto and kissed him in the middle of the street with tears in her eyes, thanking him repeatedly. She no longer was the blushing and stammering mess that she used to be, her training with Kushina and Mito really paid off and Shikamaru had often found Naruto crying dramatically to his dad about how the Uzumaki women were turning sweet stammering Hinata into a force of nature. Minato just patted his son's shoulder in sympathy, understanding his pain all too well. On the other hand, Neji had simply clasped Naruto and Shikamaru's forearms and nodded his head with a genuine smile as his thanks and if his eyes were a bit misty no one commented on it- even if Tenten did tease him about it when they were training to rile him up.

Gaara had become Godaime Kazekage once more and of course with the Konoha 12 and jinchūriki all involved in his coronation it was an event to remember. Then there was Temari who simply planted a kiss on the Nara's cheek and told him to pick her up at 8 that night after she had grabbed Shikamaru during the events in the Land of Sand. Naruto had doubled over with laughter at the stunned look on Shikamaru's face. Shikamaru waved it off by muttering something about 'troublesome blondes' before he went to get ready for his date with the Suna kunoichi- doing his best to ignore the death glares Gaara and Kankuro were sending his way.

Itachi surprisingly had merged back into the village almost seamlessly once the truth of what really happened that night had been released and for the first year Sasuke always made sure to keep his older brother in sight, silently worried that if he took his eyes off Itachi he would disappear again. His 'mother hen mode' as Naruto called it (this like usual ended up in a fist fight between the two, both having smiles on their faces by the end of it) only went up in degree while Itachi was in recovery from the surgery Tsunade successfully performed on him to heal his eyes. Kisame kept his promise and came by every so often to spar with the Uchiha brothers and help Sasuke tease/annoy Itachi. Itachi took his place as ANBU taicho once more while Obito took up a position in the academy- after Iruka saw how he inspired a academy girl who thought she would never live up to her family's expectations the chunin had dragged the Uchiha to Tsunade who agreed with the chunin's strong words to give him a sensei position in the academy.

Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko were in the village every so often as they had decided to not become ninja again, instead choosing to go travel the Five Nations to experience life to the fullest. When they did come back to Konoha they stayed in the flat Akira and Akito had stayed in when they were in the village before they were revealed as Naruto and Shikamaru. The trio would help out around the village, using their skills to make tasks easier for ninja and civilians both.

Minato and Kushina had reopened the Namikaze estate and had Naruto, Obito (who didn't want to intrude on Itachi and Sasuke's 'brother-ness'- Obito's words) and Kakashi move in with them, re-forming their family while Jiraiya stayed with Tsunade and the other Senjus in the Senju estate (this included Yamato, who Hashirama had tracked down as the man did have his DNA; therefore, he was family as far as the Shodai was concerned, plus he wanted to spar with another Mokuton user). Shikamaru still lived in the Nara compound where Naruto and Asuma could be seen regularly, as Yoshino demanded to have the blond around for meals at least twice a week and Chiyo wanted her 'Naru-Nii-San' to play with her when he could, while Asuma was there for his usual shogi games or cloud watching with Shikamaru. Nowadays, Naruto referred to the Naras as mom and dad with the blessing of his biological parents, who were grateful for the love and support they had shown him.

Shikamaru was snapped out of his musing by the huffing of Kurama as the now looking-just-as-exhausted-as-Naruto Nine-Tailed fox came into the clearing and dropped down by Naruto's side, burying his face in his paws.

"I hate children, how can they have so much energy?" Kurama huffed yawning widely, showing his sharp canine teeth.

"Ah, to be young." Naruto said dramatically.

"Ah poor Naruto-jiji." Shikamaru teased, laughing as he blocked the whack from Naruto with his forearm.

"How is planning for the chunin exams coming along?" Naruto asked, pillowing his head on his arms that he had crossed behind his head.

"Much easier since I did it a few times in the past before the war." Shikamaru admitted, not stressing out about every detail like he had in the past. "Is Lady Tsunade still dropping hints about you becoming her successor?"

"Yeah, she's dragging me to the annual Kage meeting, we've kind of turned it into a jinchūriki meeting as well. Even though we see each other at least once a month, the Kages wanted us to come. I think some of them are grooming their jinchūriki to take their places when the time comes." Naruto explained, a smile on his face as he thought about the meeting Tsunade told him about and how he had no choice but to come with her to it.

"So the Allied Shinobi Forces are coming along nicely?" Shikamaru raised an eyebrow as a shadow passed over them, waving down at the duo before disappearing.

"Very well. Fuu and Chomei are fitting into Konoha nicely, too. Mom, Baa-chan and Mito-Baa-chan have taken a liking to her. She practically lives at my house when she isn't out with Shino." Naruto smiled, having seen the shadow above them. Fuu would much rather fly around with Chomei's wings than walk anywhere if she had a choice.

"I'm glad she found a place she can call home." Shikamaru said, thinking about the bubbly mint-haired girl who now sported a Leaf hitai-ate instead of a Taki one.

"Even though we got grounded up until we are grandparents, I think- no, I know- what we did was worth it." Naruto spoke up suddenly; Shikamaru tilted his head to the side slightly.

Once things had settled down the two had silently agreed to live in the now and forget their future and work towards making a better and brighter one. So far they had been very successful and life was good.

"…Yeah, me too Nar. Hokage-sama, it's been an honor." Shikamaru turned his head to look at the blond with a smile on his lips.

"Back at you Shika, no matter how troublesome it was." Naruto turned and smiled back at the Nara before the two lay on the grass hill where it all began again in companionable silence with Kurama dozing by Naruto's side.

The future was bright and they knew it.


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