Naruto blinked away the spots in his vision, rubbing furiously at his eyes. One moment he had studied a scroll that a team had brought in from Uzushio, excited about seeing some of his families legacy! He had impatiently waited until evening to open it and go over the contents, alone in his study.
The next moment there had been a spark of curiosity, a spark of chakra and a ripping sensation that had left Naruto breathless. Then he blinked and was assaulted by sunlight, making him go near blind from the sheer difference of his tiny study-lamp that had been the only thing illuminating his room and the midday sun that was glaring down at him now. A fresh air breeze ruffled his hair and Naruto stiffened. He blinked rapidly, eyes tearing a little as they quickly tried to adjust and got ready for an attack or to defend himself as soon as he could clearly see again.
The next thing he knew was that he was staring at Kakashi slouching on a banister on the roof of the academy – the one he remembered from childhood and not the one he had approved of being reconstructed just two years ago.
Kakashi who seemed to be years younger, headband tilted so that only one, half lidded eye was still visible of his face. Naruto blinked at the vision of the past that had suddenly appeared in front of him.
“What the fuck.” slipped out of him and Naruto froze, bewildered at his own, strangely high voice.
“Introductions.” Kakashi drawled in what sounded like he thought he was repeating himself unnecessarily and wouldn't like being asked a third time.
Naruto blinked again, mouth hanging open. What?
“Uhm... ano, sensei? What do you want to know?” a timid female and rather familiar voice asked from beside him and Naruto whipped his head around so fast that it almost left him dizzy. Timid just didn't fit it, hadn't fit it for years. And then he stared dumbfounded and lost for words.
“What the fuck?” he repeated again, pointing at Sakura. Tiny Sakura with long hair, her red qipao dress hugging her small form. Her left eye twitched and she looked about ready to bash him into the ground which automatically made him inch away from her. Long years of watching Sakura in combat (and out of combat) had instilled a healthy dose of self-preservation. Movement made him look to the last person on the roof with him.
Sasuke. Frowning little grouchy woe-is-me-I-need-to-kill-some-more Sasuke. The one Naruto had spend half his life chasing after and finally managed to drag him back kicking and screaming. Sort of. Maybe not really screaming but it had been bloody.
He had been victorious.
Naruto was sure that he had pretty much walloped that whole silliness out of his friend with great prejudice.
So. What the fuck?
He whipped back around again to face Kakashi, as if his former teacher would have an answer as to what had happened here, but the lichen-haired Jonin was just watching them and frowning at Naruto in befuddlement.
Head spinning Naruto watched in horrified fascination as a blushing and twitching Sakura all but professed to being an air-headed fangirl slobbering over Sasuke. Oh my god. This was... this was really painful to watch and if he didn't know that this was some kind of Genjutsu or something (food poisoning? What had he last eaten again? When had he last eaten again??), or... or... well. If he didn't know what Sakura would become in the future, his respect for her would probably be buried deep underground after watching this. He had wilfully wiped his mind of how much of a fangirl Sakura had been in the past, and it was disconcerting seeing her like that once more. She didn't like to be reminded of it either. This would have to change. He could bury her in medical books, maybe?
Sasuke was not any better. Brooding little “Hn.” and avenge-plots spilling from his battle-partner's lips. He was so tiny and his hair was so fluffy and Naruto kind of wanted to pet it. His Sasuke had smooth hair now. Naruto kind of wondered how long little Sasuke had spend in front of a mirror to make it stick the way it was now. He wondered if being petted and hugged would make Sasuke freak out. Hell, he wondered if that was why he had gone crazy and went after Orochimaru in the first place. Lack of hugs. If Naruto clung right, Sasuke would only have additional weight to carry. With his tiny form he wouldn't be able to carry Naruto-
Shit, he was a kid too.
But this was a Genjutsu, right? Right.
“Kai.” Naruto looked at his hands. He was not good at dispelling Genjutsu, but he had finally become at least able to do it.
Kakashi raised an eyebrow at him.
Sakura looked like she really wanted to hit him again.
Sasuke just stared ahead into nothingness. Naruto even followed his gaze to see what he was looking at, but there was nothing interesting there. Sasuke was just staring at air!!
“Was something supposed to happen there, blondie?” Kakashi asked with an eye-smile. Naruto slowly lowered his hands in dread and rubbed his head.
“...... weeeell.” Naruto said, dragging the vocals out to gain some time to order his chaotic thoughts.
Kakashi sighed, annoyed and waved him off.
“Your turn, blondie.”
Naruto blinked again.
“Oh.” Naruto said and the world spun in a circle. Introductions. Right. He wanted... what did he want? Back home. What if he was really stuck in the past? What did he want??
“Uhh.... My name is... Uzumaki Naruto.” the words spilled past his lips sounding as if coming from far away. If he was really in the past that meant... “I like instant cup ramen!” ...that meant that everything he had archived was gone. He was back to being a nobody that was despised by almost everyone in the village, stuck on a team that was going to fall apart in a few months and... and...
He was not going to do everything all over again. What the fuck.
“My dream is to become a travelling Ramen-Chef that is going to be even better than old Teuchi at Ichiraku!!”
Yep. Travelling Ramen Chef sounded about just perfect for Naruto. He already knew the stuff to become a great ninja, even if he was in a kids body and might have to retrain a lot of stuff. He could do that on his own and just travel, cook ramen and like... change the world. It was perfect. Maybe if he could go to Orochimaru and just bug him until he ran back to his own team begging for mercy. Or hey, he could see if he could find Obito and bug him until he went back to Kakashi and abandoned his plan for world domination by Genjutsu.
Oh... maybe he could find and befriend Zetsu and make him see that he really didn't need to bring back Kaguya. That would prevent a lot of future bullshit all on its own. Maybe he could find him an adoptive family?
Travelling Ramen Chef Naruto. Yes. Yes, that sounded great.
Naruto smiled to himself and determinedly crossed his arms.
Awkward silence. Birds chirping in the background.
Sakura blinked at her teammate, slowly turning red in the face. Her rage-meter seemed to be close to the breaking point so Naruto was prepared to make a run for it.
Sasuke was frowning, he had stopped staring at air and was now looking at Naruto as if he had grown a second head.
Kakashi broke Naruto from his daydreams though.
“Mah. I think you entered the wrong school for that.”
“That's fine.” Naruto nodded “Where can I resign?”
“You can't resign from being a Ninja!” Sakura hissed, fists trembling at her side.
Kakashi was staring at him, clearly a little off-kilter. If Naruto hadn't known him for years, he probably wouldn't have been able to read it on his face.
“Why do you not want to be a ninja anymore?” Kakashi asked slowly, as if something like that had never occurred to him.
Why indeed. Maybe because he already was one. And this was his one chance to escape the system without being declared a missing nin. He was, after all, already registered as a Genin, but if Kakashi failed them...
Sasuke would stay at home for at least another year.
Sakura might get a team that wouldn't nearly rip her apart, janking her emotions around and leave her gathering up the pieces on her own.
Okay, maybe Naruto would need to bug Kakashi too, so he wouldn't drown in his puddle of guilt and self-loathing. He was sure he could get Gai to join him on that mission.
But over-all this seemed to be a much better plan than simply following things as they happened the last time.
“Eh, I think being a ramen chef is cool. Everyone likes old man Teuchi after all, and travelling sounds awesome, too!”
Kakashi looked stumped. Really stumped, as if Naruto becoming a ninja had never even been in doubt in his sensei's mind. He knew that his father had been Kakashi's teacher, maybe for him it was unfathomable that the Yondaime's legacy could be anything else.
Kakashi's eyes narrowed.
“Right. Enough.” Kakashi rubbed a hand over his face, looking like he might actually have a headache. If not for the hours wasted waiting for him for years, Naruto might have felt some sympathy.
“Nevermind dreams. You are now a Genin and you are on my team.” Naruto blinked at the statement, the last time Kakashi had pretty much said the exact opposite.
“Tomorrow we will do survival exercises. It will only be a project involving our team.”
“Our school days were full of survival training.” Sakura slowly interjected “Why would that be a mission?”
Kakashi chuckled menacingly.
“It won't be your typical practice. You will have to survive against me.”
Naruto crossed his arms behind his head, looking at the sky with a sigh. That sounded much more familiar.
“The test we are about to perform has a 66% rate of failure. Of the twenty-seven members of your graduating class, only nine will actually be accepted as shinobi. The other eighteen must go back for more training.”
Naruto nodded seriously.
“So. If I don't come tomorrow, then I'm not a shinobi?” He nodded again, smiling widely at Kakashi's wide-eyed look as he stared at Naruto incredulous.
Naruto jumped up, dusting off his pants.
“Guess that's it for me then. You guys have fun tomorrow.” he only got a few steps away before Kakashi's voice interrupted him.
“Mah, mah. If one of you chickens out already, that means the rest of you get send back too.”
Ah, hell. He should have run. Naruto winced at the spike of rage behind him, he had always been good at picking up negative emotions and Sakura was about ready to explode and jump him. Quickly Naruto turned around and backed away a few steps further, hands up in an attempt to calm the girl before her explosion.
“Chill, chill...!” he tried to appease both of his enraged teammates that were glaring at him as if they wished they could set him on fire. In Sasuke's case that might actually become a reality.
“You can always try again next year!!” Naruto eye-smiled at them, then dodged the kunai Sakura flung at him and cackled as he ran for the roof-top door. A pink hurricane came after him with vengeance. Sasuke stayed on the rooftop, furious. His hands were balled into shaking fists as he stared after his teammates.
“Mah.” Kakashi looked at his last remaining student.
“I guess you can pass the message on. The practice tomorrow morning is at 7am on the practice field. Bring all your tools and don't have breakfast beforehand. Unless you enjoy throwing up.”
He handed the black-haired ball of rage some papers. He had a Hokage to speak to about giving the right information to a Jonin instructor. Naruto was clearly something else. And since when did he not want to become a ninja?? What had happened?
“Give those to your teammates too. The details of your assignment are on it, memorize it and don't be late.”