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 Chapter 1: Henge no jutsu

In a small apartment in Konoha village, a young boy was hard at work. The child was practicing a new jutsu taught at the ninja academy. Well, he was trying, very hard to get it right. Time and time again. He made the same chain of hand seals, call up his chakra and poof. Nothing happened. To say he was getting frustrated was an understatement. The golden-haired child was almost in tears.

As far as he knew, he was doing everything right. The seals were done in the order written on the pamphlet given by his teacher. He was certain that the hand seals themselves were correct. And he was picturing who he wanted to disguise as. He summoned his chakra. Nothing. It was almost as if the instructions were wrong or something. Well they were. The poor boy had no idea however. So, he kept trying to get the Henge no jutsu down.

The young boy was named Uzumaki Naruto. He was a blue-eyed blond child of eight years old. He had a white t-shirt with a red spiral design and tan shorts. The clothes were a bit small and well worn. The child was naturally tanned, with whisker like marks on his cheeks and was a bit on the short side.

This child was the village outcast. He had no parents, no other family, no friends. For reasons unknown to him, the villagers either hated or ignored him. The hateful looks, words and actions of the villagers were the norm for this boy. It was not like people went out of their way to beat him but found other methods to make his life hard. Little things. Little big things. Like overpricing or refusing to sell him things. Things as basic as food, water, clothes and books.

He was lucky to have a run-down apartment to call his own. Even if sometimes the water and electricity was cut off. At least he had a roof and four walls. He was also lucky to be enrolled in the ninja academy. If it wasn’t for his secret sponsor, the hokage himself, he would never have able to enter the academy. However, he didn’t know that. Like he didn’t know that like the villager, his teachers either hated him or didn’t care for him at all.

Hence the reason behind the boy failure. His homeroom teacher had sent him out of the class on purpose. When the time came to teach the Henge no jutsu, Naruto was not in class. Then he was given a fake pamphlet with bogus instructions. Sure, the excuse was that Naruto had been too loud and was disturbing his classmates. So was Inuzuka Kiba, yet he wasn’t kick out. It’s the little things. The little big things like these, that made the child life harder.

That did not mean that he was going to give up. The more hate he got, the stronger his resolution to be acknowledge by the village got. One way or another he would make the villagers see him. And becoming the Hokage seamed the best way to go. That is why it was so important that he learn this jutsu. It was a required technique to pass the academy, and if he didn’t graduate he couldn’t be a ninja. And if he never became a ninja, his dream of being the Strongest ninja in the village, the hokage was no more. So, he had to master this jutsu. He had to.

“ARG! Stupid jutsu!! Why won’t you work!?!”

Yelled the boy. He sank down on the floor and grabbed the paper with the jutsu instructions.  He read, re-read, re-re-read it. But no matter how many times he looked at it the directions were still the same. If only he had the budget to buy the basic hand seals and beginner chakra manipulation scroll all his classmates had. The special price, ten times the normal and real price, was beyond Naruto means. Oh, he knew that there was a special price tag just for him. However, there was nothing he could do about it. He really needed that scroll now. If he had the scroll, or even borrowed from a classmate he would know that the Henge no jutsu instructions were wrong. Not that the boy wasn’t wondering if the directions weren’t wrong. He just didn’t have the knowledge to fix them.

When everything else fails, improvise or die trying. There were two steps that he was sure were right. One, he had to focus on what he wanted to transform into. Two, he had to summon his chakra. The seals… not so sure. There were too many for a d-rank jutsu. Twenty hand seals, four repeated twice and a reverse snake hand seal that was rarely used. It was fishy.

“Let see, if don’t use these seals, and cut the sequence in half…maybe it will work?”

He scratched behind his head while looking and the cursed paper. Nodding to himself, he got up and went forward. Flashing through the new made up sequence of hand seals, focusing and pushing his chakra he tried again. Poof, nothing.

“Maybe it needs to be shorter?”

Changing the chain of hand seals again to a smaller amount. Naruto gave another go. The five first hand seals, focus, chakra. Go. A small ripple went through the boy form. Better than nothing. The child frowns and tries the same sequence again. Focusing on who he wanted to masquerade as, calling up more of his chakra. A larger ripple went through the boy along with an odd tingling.

“Un, that feels weird.”

He shakes his head and moves into position again. Breathing deeply in and out, he goes again. The five hand seals, focus, more chakra. A large ripple travels from the boy feet up to his head, and a prickling settle on his skin. Not giving up. The boy goes again. And again, and again. Every time he tries, the ripple effect gets bigger the sensation more uncomfortable, but slowly his shape changed a bit, looking closer to his classmate appearance.

“Ung! This is so difficult. It needs lots more chakra than I thought. Again.”

Moving to position again. Naruto went through the seals again. This time calling up as most chakra as possible. The consequence was immediate. A big ripple like effect went through him along with a rippling pain. He let out a pained cry and collapsed on the floor. But instead of a blond child, there was a green haired boy with pale skin and pale blue lines going from his eyes to his lips. The clothes were still the same. Henge no jutsu was successful. Or so he thought.

“Ah...ah…ah! I did it! I did it… Ouch! It hurts so much…”

Slowly getting up, the child moved to his bathroom to look at the mirror. Starring back at him was his classmate Jiro. Green slick hair, pale skin, blue tattoos on his face and brown eyes. He also looked to be a bit taller. Just like Jiro. Wearing his clothes instead of Jiro’s usual green shirt and black pants combo. Not that he liked Jiro very much. He just looked different enough from Naruto to be a good practice to Henge into.

“So weird…! I look just like that baka. The nose looks off.”

Naruto pokes his nose and turns his head sideways.

“Yep! I think he has a larger nose and smaller eyes. Close enough.”

While doing an examination of his Henge. The boy poked and prodded his face, pulled his hair and slapped the small baby fat belly he now had. He giggled and snorted and full out laugh at his success. This was great. All the pranks he could pull with this. But first he had to perfect the jutsu. Forming the ram seal to release the Henge. He shouted.

“Kai!"

Nothing happened. He tried again.

"Kai!"

Still it didn't work. The boy scratched his head. The transformation held, even when he tried to use the usual dispelling method the teacher had taught. Maybe that was also wrong. Maybe he needed to use the henge no justu to transform back to himself. The currently Jiro-a-like boy forms the hand seals sequence from before.

"Henge!…arg!”

He almost fell to the floor again so sudden the rippling pain struck him. Griping the bathroom sink, he recovered his breath. He was back to himself. Shorter, blonder, tanner and blue-eyed self. He blinked his eyes twice. Took a big breath and stood up. Frowning he looked at himself in the mirror.

“The pain is not fun at all. Why does it hurt so much? Is it always like this?”

Still frowning, the boy stepped back from the sink and did the hand seals again. Once again, the ripple effect went from his feet to his head, along with the pain. But he was ready this time and didn’t fall. Again, Jiro image was reflected back in the mirror. With a larger nose and smaller eyes. Still wearing the same t-shirt and shorts. Naruto frowned again.

“Why don’t my clothes change? I pictured Jiro-baka and his stupid outfit perfectly!!”

He poked out his tongue at his reflection and sighed.

“Maybe I should try Henge no jutsu with someone else. Like the cabbage man.”

The cabbage man was a poor vegetable seller, whose beloved cabbage often ended having a sad misfortune. Once some dogs were chasing a cat, rammed into the cart and stepped all over the cabbages. Another time a drunk man thrown up all over them. And the was the time when a ninja misstep while roof jumping and fell on top of them. Or the time when …you get the picture. His poor cabbages. He was a tall old man with prickly beard and short grey hair who usually wore green and brown robes. He hated Naruto and would chase him out his tent on the marketplace every time. He was perfect to test the Henge no jutsu.

Determined the boy made the hand seals again while picturing the man. He braced for the pain and it rippled through him. There was a tearing sound. Then standing in the bathroom was the old cabbages man. Naked. Butt naked. With white and tan stripes of clothes around him. Good bye dear worn clothes. You shall be missed dearly.

“What?!”

Looking down at the scraps of cloth on the floor, Naruto paled. He didn’t have many sets of clothes to spare. The loss of his clothes was a heavy cost. But Henge no jutsu, or transformation technique was an illusion that changed one looks only. It didn’t change one shape for real. It did not alter one body, it just appeared to. This was not Henge no Jutsu. Well not the transformation jutsu Naruto was supposedly taught in the academy. This was an advance new jutsu that altered one body physically to what the caster imagined. And since it was not an illusion, but a body shapeshifting technique, clothes were sacrificed.

Naruto bent down to touch a scarp of cloth and stood up again. With his longer arms and height, he then touched the top part of the mirror. He could feel the edge of the mirror. He was literally taller and older. Much older looking. All wrinkled and grey haired. And naked. Weird out he redid the jutsu.

“Henge!”

Once more a rippling pain cashed through him. And his normal form was back. Also, naked. But much shorter, younger and blond. Normal him.

“Ok! That’s not Henge no Jutsu. But I can still use it.”

He left the bathroom and got a new set of identical clothes from the dresser. Quickly he redressed himself. There were pros and cons to this messed up jutsu. On one hand he could change his body shape at will. On the other hand, he couldn’t change his clothes along with his body. It didn’t disappear when he touched other things and could hold against his physical inspection. He didn’t know how long he could hold it. And it took a good chunk of chakra. He needed to test it better. Returning to the bathroom mirror, Naruto got thinking.

“Can I use it to fool the villagers?”

Stroking his blond locks. Tapping near his eyes and caressing his whisker marks. The boy wondered how much he would need to change his looks to be convincing, but still look enough as his real self. At least size wise he had to stay the same, or else his clothes wouldn’t fit. But if he looked as a different person maybe he wouldn’t be kick out of shops and could buy things at a normal price.

“There aren’t any villagers with whisker marks on their checks. They have to go.”

Laying a hand on his hair, he sighed.

“And there aren’t many blonds either. There is Ino and her family… but not many others.”

Glaring at his eyes, and their blue color. He sighed again.

“They are also one of the few blue-eyed flocks. So, no whisker marks, no blond hair, no blue eyes. Orange hair? Yeah. Brown eyes? Boring!!”

He crunched his face. Thinking over a more fun eye color. Then he remembered Sakura and her beautiful green eyes. That would work. Doing the hand seals and biting back the expected pain. The boy looks altered. Now instead of his usual self, stood a dark orange haired child with a spotless round checks and light green eyes. He poked his face a bit and smiled.

“This looks good! Eyes like Sakura-chan, awesome orange hair and no face marks.”

A big yawn broke free from him. Sleepily blinking his eyes, he scratched his head.

“Ok! It late and I have class tomorrow. Better get to bed. Henge!”

Reverting to himself. He moved into his bed without changing clothes. It was late in the night. Long pass everyone bedtime. No wonder he was tired. And like that he sleeps until morning. That means about four hours, before the alarm clock rang.

*RRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGG!*

Sitting up half asleep, Naruto stared at the ringing device at swiftly turned it off. Rubbing his eyes and yawning, the boy tried to get up from bed, only to trip and fall to floor.

“Un!”

Face first on the floor, the child moved his arms to help himself up. Once up, but still only half awake the went to bathroom to get ready. Running on autopilot Naruto did his morning routine. Bathroom, breakfast, last minute shoveling gear into his school bag and off he went.

Down the street, past the bakery that didn’t carter to likes of him, across the park were the kids didn’t play with him, turn right on the crossroad, run away from the old lady with a broom and into the ninja academy. With a few minutes to spare. Without wasting time Naruto goes into his classroom, before his teacher says he was late and couldn’t enter the room again. He sat in back of the room next to Shikamaru, who was sleeping, and Chouji, who was eating chips.

“Hi guys!”

*crunch* “Hi, Naruto.” *crunch* Said Chouji between bites.

“ZzZzZz” Snored Shikamaru.

So, another day at the academy began as usual. Soon the last classmates filled the room and the teacher began the lesson.  Class went as always, tedious and long, until lunch and then another session of theoretical ninja stuff. After droning lectures, the school day ended and the wannabe-ninjas were let out. Friends went off to play, or the more studios one’s home to study. Naruto went home alone.

As soon as he got home, he ditched his bag and went to the bathroom mirror. Grinning, he prepared himself for the pain and did his new jutsu seals. Now, a dark orange haired boy with green eyes and Naruto’s face minus whisker marks stood in the bathroom. He combed his fingers through the mop of brown hair. Nodding at his reflection he left the bathroom.

“Where is that t-shirt? It’s a bit old and I don’t use it much…” He said as he searched his dresser. “There it is!”

In his hands was an off black plain t-shirt. Putting it aside. Naruto took off his clothes grabbed his bathing supplies and returned to the bathroom for a quick shower. Still in his transformed stage. Out he comes all clean, and on he dons the black t-shirt and his tan shorts. Drying his wet dark orange locks with a towel. He was at last ready. He didn’t know how long he could keep the jutsu on, so he was going to test it out. Checking the time, half past five, he mentally notes it down.

“Ok. Now let’s see if I can trick some villagers.”

Grinning, he grabs his toad shaped wallet and puts it in one of his short’s pocket. Mentally he did a list of things he wanted to try and buy. First, some food, at a normal price. Second, new clothes that fit him better. Third, one of four scrolls required for academy, since he had none. He didn’t know if he could keep up the disguise long enough to do all he wanted, but he would try. And off to the market place he went.

Moving quickly, almost at a running pace, Naruto soon arrives at the market. Looking around the notices the different atmosphere around him immediately. No one was glaring and muttering at him. There were even some villagers that looked at him with smiles and said hello. But most just acted like he belonged there. That he wasn’t a plague or unwanted. It was shocking! He almost froze on the middle of the road, stunned. But with a head shake he snapped out and carried on. His first stop was going to be the cabbages man stall. After all, if he could fool him he could fool just about anyone.

“Hello! Can I buy some vegetables for my mom?” Asked the currently dark orange-haired boy to the old cabbage’s seller.

The old man smiles at the boy with warm eyes and answers.

“Off course you can boy! What did you mother want?”

Well that was easy. Never, ever had Naruto seen the man smile at him. It looks like it worked. He duped the mean old cabbages man. Thinking fast he comes up with a small list of vegetables.

“Some carrots, tomatoes and a cabbage. Please.”

Still smiling the man picks a few carrots, tomatoes and a nice cabbage for Naruto. Then comes the moment of truth, the time to pay. Was the price going to be over the top or reasonable?

“How much for all of this mister?”

The old man said the price. The vegetables were much cheaper than the cups of ramen he usually ate. Which were pretty much all the food he could afford normally. Amazed Naruto couldn’t stop himself from uttering a small gasp.

“Really? Only that much mister?! Thank you!”

Handing over the small amount of money, at least to Naruto, to the vegetable seller. First task get some food done. Well not all done he needed others food stuff. But now he knew just how much he usually overpaid for things. Happy the boy skipped out of the stall and headed towards another one that sells fruits. There he was also welcomed and brought a few oranges and bananas. Then he went into a bakery, where he normally would be kick out, and brought a loaf of warm bread. Very happy with his purchases and seeing as the disguise was holding he decided to try his second task. Clothes.

The distance between the market place and the main shopping street was actually quite big. One was closer to the gates and the other was in the middle of the village. However, the distance was nothing compared to Naruto enthusiasm for new clothes. All the clothes he currently had, were years old and a bit small now. Originally, they had been a few sizes too big. They had been a gift. He got some gifts time to time. He didn’t know from who, but it was always practical and basic things he needed. Some clothes, some food and the monthly allowance he got. He summed it up to be an orphan fund or something. Which wasn’t far from the truth, there was a fund for orphans and Naruto was entitled to it. But all these gifts he got from the Hokage himself, including his allowance. Not that he knew.

Once in the main shopping street, Naruto searched for a clothes shop. One that had clothes his size. Even if he didn’t know what size he was. A few shops down the street he found one that suited his purpose. In he went. There were racks and racks of clothes to choose from. So many colors and shapes. Right in front of him there were orange t-shirts on sale. Like a moth to a flame, he was drawn to them. Picking three of different sizes he looked for more clothes.

“Woah! That’s so cool!”

He picked a metallic meshed short sleeved shirt. This was ninja grade clothes. Just like some of his classmates had. He picked three sizes again. He also picked some black shorts, a red and white coat, and light brown pants full of pockets.

“Now to try them on. Err… where do I do that?”

“The fitting room is this way child.” Said a kind voice behind him.

Turning around he saw the shop keeper. A twentyish years old woman with black hair and big grey eyes. She pointed to his right were a curtained area was. Thanking the woman Naruto entered the fitting room. Looking at the mirror in there he sighed. The disguise was still going strong. He quickly tried out his chosen clothes and learned his size. The orange t-shirt with a white sun was a success and a sure bet. The brown pants were all too big, and the coat look weird on him. Going back out again he put back the clothes he didn’t want and choose some more. Then back to the fitting room to try them. He did this four more times before he had a nice pile of clothes. He checked the price tags and added up the total. If the shop lady didn’t put any special price on the clothes he could easily afford them. Most had been on sale, and the most expensive item was the meshed t-shirt.

“Miss? I would like to buy all these clothes. How much is it?”

The lady picked each clothe and added the price on the register. The price didn’t jump up to that Naruto knew would be his special level. It was exactly his previously thought total. A price he could pay just fine. He thanked the woman and left the shop.

Second task, buy clothes without hassle, done. On to the third task. He checked how much money he had left and laugh. His wallet was still full. He could buy at least one scroll for sure. Moving towards the book shop, Naruto prayed his jutsu hold a little bit more. There were four scrolls required to study for the academy. One was the formerly referred basic hand seals and beginner chakra manipulation scroll. Another was a big history scroll, a tactics and basic strategies scroll and beginner’s weapons and taijutsu katas scroll. He could only afford one. Probably. He had to choose wisely.

Inside the bookshop there were bookstands and bookstands full of book and scrolls. There was definitely an order to the books, but Naruto didn’t have a clue what it was. So, he went up to the shop keeper, a bored looking man.

“Mister could you help me find a scroll I need for the academy?”

“Sure kid! What do you need?” Answered the man.

“The basic hand seals and beginner chakra manipulation scroll, please.”

The man walked to a bookstand and selected a scroll with a blue cover.

“Here ya go kid. Do you need anything else?”

“No mister. Thank you. How much for it?”

The man rang up the scroll and told Naruto the price. Ok maybe he could afford two of the scrolls. But he couldn’t spend all his money, he still had bills to pay. After paying for the scroll, it was so much cheaper than he thought, he took all his shopping home. 

Once at home, he looked at the clock, it was quarter past seven. His transformation jutsu had held over two hours and was still holding well. In fact, it didn’t seem to use much chakra to keep the jutsu. It used a lot of chakra to cast the jutsu, weirdly enough, but not to use it. Once the transformation was done it didn’t seem to need more chakra to maintain. He wondered how long he could keep the disguise on. Could he sleep with it on? He knew he could shower with it on. Could he eat with it on? Only one way to find out.

Naruto still in disguise took the food he had bought to kitchen. He stored most of it the fridge, expect the bread and an orange. Then he put all the clothes he had brought over his bed, it was quite a fine selection. And carefully placed the scroll on his table. Hungry, he peeled the orange and ate it. Followed by a warm slice of bread. While it wasn’t ramen it would do. He could eat just fine with the transformation on. That was good to know.

Sitting at the table, the boy opened scroll that so much trouble would have saved him and began to study. The first part of the scroll talked about what was chakra and how to access it. While there were somethings he didn’t recall it was basically what he already knew. Then it talked in deep about each hand seal. What they were more commonly used for, the correct hand positions and how it affected one’s chakra. Lots of new information there. Most of it boring and unwanted. Afterwards it talked about different chakra exercises. Some to refine the amount of chakra used, others to increase control, and capacity. These he had to try. There were many examples and future use for each exercise. And then there were described in painful detail the basic D-rank jutsus every wannabe-ninja had to know. Included the Henge no jutsu. With completely different hand seals and an in deep explanation of the technique limitations. All he needed to know.

“Teacher really gave me fake instructions. It probably wasn’t the first time either.” Groaned the boy. “At least I can say I got a better Henge no jutsu out of this.”

Even if he hadn’t read everything in the scroll, or even everything on the Henge no jutsu, he could see there were obvious limitation to the technique. It was an illusion. It didn’t change the caster body, and his jutsu did. There would be times on future awesome ninja missions that it would make a big difference. Dangerous undercover missions where his disguise couldn’t fall for any reason. Now he had the perfect tool for those.

Yawning, the boy shook his head and rolled the scroll close. It was getting late and he had stayed up the other night. He was exhausted. Moving the new clothes from his bed to over the dresser. He shrugged off his clothes, he put on his pajamas and headed to bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he was out. And he slept peacefully until morning.

*RRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGG!*

The alarm clock rings, and a new day begins. Still a bit drowsy the child turns the alarm off and begins his normal morning routine. In the bathroom he gazes at his reflection questioning why it was wrong. Then startled, he remembers. He never reverted the transformation jutsu the night before. He was still orange-haired and green eyed. The jutsu held even when he slept. That was good. Now came the bad part.

“Henge!”

Naruto was ready for the pain and barely swayed. Not that it made it any less unpleasant. Back to his real self, he carried out his schedule. Two cups of ramen and banana later, he was almost ready to face the world. He still had to change out of his pajamas.

“What do I wear today? All new clothes or the old ones?”

Scratching his chin, while staring at his for once over stuffed small dresser. There was plenty to choose from. Which was a novel experience for the child. He thought it over a bit and pick out an outfit. He grabbed the new metallic mesh shirt, some new and larger black shorts and an orange sleeveless zippered hoodie with black stripes on the sides. There, he looked cool and ninja like. Finishing the look were a new pair of black sandals and a pair of orange toned googles over his forehead. Ready he left for another day in the academy.

Naruto entered the classroom with ten minutes to spare and walked to his usual seat. Most of his classmates stared at his new outfit. It was completely new look for him and it was already turning heads. Whispers followed him, some saying that he looked cool, others laughing at him. But he didn’t pay them much attention. He liked his new clothes. They fit, were comfortable and orange. He reached his seat, amazedly Shikamaru was up and Chouji was eating like normal.

“Eh? New look. Troublesome.” Greeted Shikamaru.

*crunch* ”Hey Naruto! I like your new getup.” *crunch* Said Chouji in between handful of chips. 

“Thanks, Chouji! My clothes were a bit small, so I went shopping.” Answered Naruto smiling.

“Shopping is so troublesome. Mom drags me to help her all the time.” Moaned The brunette boy as he laid down his head on the desk.

*crunch* “I like shopping! Specially at the market place.” *crunch* “All the food there in awesome.” *crunch* “Like these imported fruits from Wind country.” *crunch* “They taste great!” *crunch* The ginger haired boy showed some dates to the boys and gave one to each.

“These are from Wind country? Cool!” Naruto ate the date and chew it carefully. “It’s so sweet!! So good! Chouji where do you get these things?”

*crunch* “Well there is this stall in the market just with imported Wind country products. It’s close to the cabbage man tent. The owner has an eyepatch and red hair.” *crunch* “Can’t miss him.” Answered Chouji with a laugh.

“Awesome! I’m definitely going there sometime. Thank for the tip!” Grinned the blond. “So, did you guys have any luck with the Henge no jutsu? I am still a bit…”

“Alright class settle down!” The homeroom teacher said.

The students turned forward and stopped talking. Class was starting. The day carried out the same as usual. They had ninja history in the morning, then math and tactics after. Then there was lunch period. And in the afternoon, they had weapons practice. At five the wannabe-ninjas were let out. Free to do whatever they wanted. In Naruto case, he went straight home.

He decided to study the scroll a bit more. Specially the part that talked about the Henge no jutsu. The boy was determined to get it right and master the real Henge no Jutsu. He was also reading up on some chakra exercises. One or two had been discussed in class, but not in much detail. This scroll was quite the live saver. It didn’t matter if the teacher gave him fake information anymore. He could just study from the scroll. Of course, since he didn’t have all the required scrolls, his knowledge base was still rocky. Nevertheless, it was much better than before.

The Henge no jutsu was an E-rank transformation illusion. It appeared to change the caster body to what shape he wanted. It didn’t change the body itself and use a moderate amount of chakra to keep it up. A good Henge depended on the user eye for detail. The better the focus, the more detailed and realistic the transformation. Bad Henge were easy to tell apart and were therefor useless. You only needed three hand seals. Not twenty like the fake instructions said. Certain that he read all he needed to begin with, Naruto decided to try the real Henge no jutsu.

Just like before he pictured his classmate Jiro and his green hair, did the hand seals and called up his chakra. *Poof* In a could on smoke the blond boy was gone and in his place was a green haired boy. No pain, no weird tingling affect. He looked down to see that his clothes were also changed. Instead of his orange hoodie and black shorts, he appeared to wear a dark green shirt and long black pants. Moving to the bathroom mirror he inspects his reflection. Starring back is a perfect clone of his classmate Jiro. Same slick green hair, pale skin, blue tattoos and smaller brown eyes and big nose. Happy Jiro lookalike smirked.

“That was much easier than I thought. Oh! All the pranks I can pull with this.” He chuckled. “Now let try someone else.”

 He tried again. *Poof* The smoke vanished to show Chouji round form. The hair and clothes just like him. All it was lacking was the ever-present bag of chips. Happy he did a little jiggled dance. Which looked weird in Chouji form. Not still satisfied, Naruto went and tried someone else. *Poof* There was Ino and her blond hair. *Poof* Now Kiba and his red tattoos. *Poof* The cabbages man and his beard. *Poof* A very awake Shikamaru. *Poof* Beautiful Sakura. And so on. He tried everyone he knew of. Checking to see any discrepancies in his Henge. After an hour or so of this he stopped and released the Henge.

“Ok! Henge no jutsu is down!”

Happy with his success, Naruto grinned ear to ear. He could already imagine all the uses he would have for the justu. Ninja related and not. It was a lot easier than his made-up transformation justu, but it had obvious flaws. If someone touch him the illusion would be revealed, or if he tried to grab anything outside his real body range it would fail. But for a quick getaway or just to temporary confuse an enemy, it was good. Also, it was pain free.

“Time for dinner! Let’s see what I can do with the food I bought yesterday.”

Naruto opened the fridge and looked at the food inside. He had some carrots, tomatoes, a cabbage, oranges, bananas, and a carton of milk. He shook the milk, and yep it had chunks in it. Out it went. So, no milk. Closing the fridge, he checked his cupboard. He had a (un)healthy collection of ramen cups, some cans and half loaf of bread. It was the first time he had so much food, and he didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t like he had a cook book or knew how to cook beyond ramen cups and cereals. Although, he could do a simple sandwich. And a sandwich he did. It only had tomato slices and canned sardines, but it was something. To follow up he eat an orange, enjoying the juicy fruit fresh zest. Next in his shopping list was a basic cook book and more oranges. They were tasty, juicy and best of all orange.

“And those dates Chouji gave me today. Those were great!”

Licking is lips, he finished his dinner and picked up a blank piece of paper. On it, he wrote, ‘Shopping List: cook book(cheap), oranges, dates, milk’. It wasn’t much but it was the first shopping list he ever done. Before, when he went out to shop he didn’t bother to write down anything, since all he could buy was ramen and some spoiled food stuff. Now it was different. A whole new world of possibilities laid before him. He could choose what to buy. Where to buy. And buy things at a cheap price. Cheap for him. He would be able to save up on his allowance. He could finally buy the remaining scrolls for the academy. And proper ninja equipment. Instead of salvaging lost kunai and shuriken from training grounds. Not that he would stop doing it, it was free gear. One just couldn’t have enough weapons. Just in case. Yes, life was looking up.

Since he still had time, he went back to his new scroll. Henge no jutsu was good and all, but there were more techniques to learn. Like those chakra exercises. The leaf exercise seemed to be at first, a waste of time. Until he read the useful applications of the control and skill it helped develop. Basically, one had to use their chakra to stick a leaf on their forehead. Easier said than done. Unlike the pathways on Naruto hands, that were used to channel chakra, the node on the forehead was harder to control. And if managed to glue the leaf to his hands for a few seconds, he just couldn’t do it on his forehead. But he wouldn’t give up. If he could master this chakra exercise, he would have better control of his chakra usage, and could stick all sort of objects to his body. Like weapons or important documents, he couldn’t lose. Or even his own enemies. That would be kind of weird, but he could see how he could use that trick in the middle of a battle to surprise his opponent. Once he mastered this, he could move to tree climbing. Using his feet and chakra alone. That would be a game changer. Being able to walk on walls and others vertical surfaces.

For the leaf exercise, he didn’t have a lot of tree leaves laying around his apartment, however he had plenty spare paper sheets he could turn to smaller bits. Tomorrow he would collect a nice pile of leaves, but for now the small bit of paper would do. Sitting down with his legs crossed, Naruto placed the paper on top of his head and began to gather chakra. He would hold the paper in place while he tried to focus on his chakra, the feel of it, the flow and the size. Slowly he would remove his hand, and the paper would follow it and not stay in his forehead. Breath in, breath out, and try again. For a few hours, the young ninja in training sat and focused his chakra without much improvement. It was both a statement of his resolution and bad chakra control.

The bed was calling for him, and tomorrow would be another day. Disappointed the boy got ready for bed and slept the night away.

*RRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGG!*

Morning was a normal affair. Get up, go to the bathroom, have breakfast, and go the academy. At the ninja academy, the day carried out as usual. He exchanged a few words with Shikamaru and Chouji, was forced to do twenty laps around the building for disturbing the class, survived the boring lectures, had lunch (Ramen of course), had more boring theoretical lessons, and at five was free to go. Then he ran to the park nearby to collect leaves. Filled up his backpack and went home. Then the day took a turn. He dumped his haul over the table and sorted into a neat pile. But didn’t pick one to start training again. Instead he went and had a shower.

All fresh and clean, Naruto picked a different outfit. His new outfit was good and orange and awesome, but the villagers already associated it with him. If was to go shopping with a disguise, he didn’t just have to change his looks but his clothes as well. From his dresser, he took out what would be his alter ego outfit. A white t-shirt with a frog stamped on, green trousers and his old sandals. The t-shirt was just too cute and had been on sale, the trousers were very civilian like and the outfit just screamed civilian child. Perfect for his shopping alter ego.  Steeling himself, he did his original transformation jutsu. The pain and ripple effect washed over him, and his figure changed. Once again, he was orange-haired, green eyed and whiskerless.

A quick check on the bathroom mirror, to see if the was any problem. And Naruto was good to go. This time he wasn’t just going out to shop, but also to people watch. The scroll said the more detail a disguise had the better it would hold to inspection. That include the way the ninja walked, acted, talked and overall looked. It wasn’t good enough to get someone looks right, he had to imitate that person quirks to make the illusion appear real. The best way to learn how to do that was to watch others and try to copy their movements. As himself, he wouldn’t be able to do that, the villagers would chase him out. As his orange-haired alter ego, who he named Sora, he could walk around without hassle.

Pocketing his frog shaped wallet and his shopping list, Naruto, no Sora, left for the park. There weren’t many people at park. A few children were playing ninja tag, and two housewives were talking to each other on a bench. The disguised Naruto, in his Sora persona, sat at another bench observing the kids.

There were around his age, one was older maybe ten, and there was a little girl that couldn’t be more than six. They followed the older boy lead. If the little girl fell back a boy who looked a lot like her would pick her up. They had to be siblings. The other girl of the group was mean and snappish but played along with the others. The other boy was chubby and whinny. They ran around and used sticks as if they were kunais or katanas. They all were having fun. Even the little girl piggyback riding her brother. There were laughter and shrieks of delight coming from them. It was the type of game Naruto would love to play but was never included. Then the older boy walked to him.

“Hey! Do ya wanna play with us?”

“Un. Do mean me?” Flabbergasted, Naruto was taken back.

“Yeah! So? Do ya wanna?”

“Yes!” Jumping out of the park bench, Naruto joined the other children.

“I’m Itsuki. This is Asahi-kun.” The older one points at the chubby boy. “The little girl is Niko-chan and her bother Kaito-kun.”

“Kanna” Said curtly the older girl. “And you are what?”

“Sora, and I’m a boy.” Claimed Naruto while sticking out his tongue.

Kanna growled. But all the others laughed. The plump boy smiles and says.

“Don’t mind Kanna-chan, she doesn’t have a good side.”

“Yeah! But we like her anyway!” Teased Itsuki. “We were playing ninja tag. Ya new so ya it!”

The older boy poked Naruto and ran away. So, the game began. Naruto learned the game rules quickly and tagged Kanna on purpose. As retaliation, she tried to tag him, but gave up and tagged the pudgy Asahi instead. And the game carried on. While playing, Naruto took notice of the way Asahi wobbled as he ran; Kanna’s habit of shouting little crass words at them; Kaito disapproval of Kanna’s behavior; how Itsuki keep looking over everyone; and that Niko-chan couldn’t stop giggling. A little while after one of the women on the bench got up and called for Kaito and Niko. Obediently they said goodbye and went with the woman. Knowing that he still had errands to run, Naruto said goodbye to his playmates and left the park. It was great! He had never play ninja tag with adults nearby for so long. Sometimes kids would play with him until an adult would come and drag them away or shoo him. This was completely different. And he had been able to do some people watching.

Headed toward the marketplace, the boy looked around the stalls and shops. He never had the chance to really look at them before. There was a lot to take in. Some shops had products he had no idea what they were. But right now, he needs a cook book, more oranges, some dates and milk. The was a small super around the corner, in he went. He grabbed a milk bottle, checked the date and then picked some oranges. Happy with his groceries he paid them. Still a bit astonished at the cheap price. He remembered Chouji description of the imported Wind country products owner. Near the cabbaged man stall, a man with red hair and an eyepatch. It didn’t take that long to find him.

The stall had all sort of items. From unusual fruits like the dates, to colorful spices, clothes in different styles, square colorful candies, and more. It had all a feel of exotic and foreign. Naruto took his time looking over the goods. They were all more expensive than the others stall around. But he really liked those dates. He would just buy a handful.

“Well? Are you going to buy something, or should I charge your gawking?” Sneered the red-haired man.

He only had one eye but could glare right through you. He stood tall behind the display table with his arms crossed. This was a man that did not like to waist his time.

“Un… Yes? I want to buy some dates, please?”

“How much?” Asked the man as he opened a bag to place the fruit in.

“About a handful.”

The man grabbed a large handful of dates and then weight them.

“Anything else?”

“No, this all I want.”

The stall owner grunted and told the price. Naruto paid and took the bag. That was awkward. This man wasn’t friendly even to his alter ego. But he still got his sweet, sweet dates. Now all he needed was a cook book.

The closest bookstore was a few streets away. Naruto walked calmly there. He took his time and observed the villagers around him. There was a couple walking in front of him. They were holding hands and stealing small glances at each other. The man had a huge grin on his face, while the woman blushed with a small smile. They appeared to be on a date. Walking a bit behind them was an older woman carrying shopping bags, the weight made her footsteps loud and heavy. A younger boy was running in the other direction, laughing and dodging people. Not much farther behind him another child was chasing him. Near a doorstep was a group of gossiping women. He caught glimpses of ninjas roof jumping and saw a chunin walk calmly down a side street. Soon he reached the bookstore.

It wasn’t the same bookstore he had entered yesterday. This one was bit more disorganized. The bookstands were packed full of books and scrolls. There was a cozy feel to shop, with its comfy chairs by the window and a small coffee table covered in books. At the cashier was an old woman. She looked like a kind granny. With soft white hair bundled up in a bun, chubby features and pastel colored outfit. Her brown eyes were hidden behind a pair of thick glasses. She had a teacup in her wrinkled hand, that she was sipping time to time. When Naruto, in his Sora disguise entered the shop, the old granny looked up and welcomed him.

“Good afternoon, young man. Come in.”

“Un. Hi! Good afternoon mam.”

There was a nice feel to this place. Hopefully it would have what he needs. He walked up to the old woman.

“I’m looking for a cook book. With simple recipes. And not too expensive.”

“A beginner cook book, perhaps? Easy to follow and easy on the wallet.” The bookstore lady smiled.

She got up and moved toward a bookstand to the left. From there she picked a few different books. When she returned, she displayed the five books on the counter.

“These all fit your request. This one has step by step colored pictures and cost a bit more.”

She pointed to the first book on the left. Then she touched the next book.

“This book begins with basic cooking rules, some easy recipes and ends with some traditional festivities recipes. The easier way of making them.”

She opens the next book showing a dish picture and recipe in an odd structured manner.

“As the title implies, this is the lazy cooking guide. Basic but good recipes, in a nice form.”

Naruto giggled. The actual title was ‘Cooking for the extra lazy’. And the text was quite hilarious. The old woman grinned and pointed to the next book.

“This one as a large chapter on cooking basics, how to peel and prep ingredients. Then nice and easy recipes to more advanced ones. Aimed to beginner’s chefs.”

Then she picked up the last book.

“This is the same as the previous book, starts with cooking basics, has easy to advanced recipes. But is ninja orientated.”

“Ninja orientated? Like how?” Asked Naruto.

“Even ninjas need to know how to cook. But this book teaches how to use ninja tricks in the kitchen, to prepare regular food and ninja grade field rations.”

The old woman opens the book on a page that shows how to heat water using an E-rank jutsu that doesn’t make any smoke. Ideal for missions where one need to lay low. Then she flips the page. The next page shows how to gut a bunny.

“Arrg!” Naruto looks disgusted at the book. “Mister bunny!”

“Oh my!” Uttered the bookstore lady. “Poor bunny, but ninjas and young mans need meat to stay strong and healthy.”

She closes the book and sets it down with the others. Smiling kindly, she asks.

“Do you want to read them? To see which suits you better.” 

The brown-haired boy shakes his head. It’s a no brainer. The last book is the best for him. Even if teaches how to gut mister bunny. Shyly he reaches out for the ‘Basic ninja cookbook’.

“I’ll take this one.”

“An interesting choice.” She said with a twinkle in her eyes.

Naruto paid the cookbook, it was really cheap. And waved goodbye to the kind granny. He wasn’t quite sure why, but he liked this bookstore. Maybe he should come here the next time he needed a book. His shopping done, he headed home. Taking the long path, enjoying being out and about without the villager’s scorn.

Sora was turning up to be a good disguise. It had allowed Naruto to do his shopping in peace, to play ninja tag with children his age, and to take in the sights in a new perspective. People treated Sora like he was welcome, and part of the village. It was a bittersweet feeling. In one hand, he now knew how good it felt to be accepted, on the other hand he also learned how bad he was treated. He had no idea why the villagers treated him like he had the plague. What he had done to deserve it? Only that they did. And it hurt. But he would show them. He would become Hokage and they would have to love him. Sora was just a tool for that purpose. A good ninja used every tool at their disposal. He was going to improve his Sora persona, to make him unique yet easily overlooked. Just a random kid.

Once at home, the boy stored his shopping. The milk, oranges to the fridge, the dates into the cupboard. And his new book on the table next to the scroll. It was almost eight o’clock. Since he didn’t want to cook, he made a couple of ramen cups and ate a banana. Dinner taken care of, now it was time to train.

First, he redoes his original shapeshifting jutsu. He really needs a name for it. Normal looking Naruto with his whisker marks grins and sits on the floor. He picks up a leaf and places on his forehead. Focusing his chakra, he tried to make it stick. As soon as he removed his hand the leaf followed his hand. Breath in, breath out and try again.

For a couple hours, he kept trying to do the leaf exercise. He did improve a bit, getting the leaf to stick for two seconds before falling. It was so slow. Why couldn’t he do better? It’s supposed to be a beginner’s exercise. Nonetheless he was getting tired and had academy in the morning. Off to bed he went.

For the next five weeks, Naruto life settled in a routine. He would go to the academy, play along with his teachers, pull a prank every other two days and run to his apartment once the academy was out. Then every three days give or take, he would use his Sora disguise. With it he would go people watching or do his shopping. The other days he would spend either reading the basic hand seals and beginner chakra manipulation scroll or working on the leaf exercise. On Sundays, the only day he didn’t have lessons, he would look up a recipe from his cookbook to try. Sometimes the result was good, but other times he would mess up and ruin the food. He avoided all how to prep animal’s pages. He would look those up later. Some years later. Maybe never.

His dedication was paying off. He could hold a leaf for ten minutes on his forehead. It took a good deal of concentration to pull off. The moment his mind wandered, the leaf would fall. It was both a chakra exercise as one in patience. Something he didn’t have much off to begin with. Naruto was always on the go. Waiting and focusing was not his thing. Nevertheless, he was learning. He also had to concentrate when studying the scroll. The first scan he did to scroll didn’t do it much justice. The boy decided since he finally had the scroll he would study it in full. That meant reading from the start without skipping any part. Even the boring tidy bits could come in handy. Somehow.

People watching was also paying off. He could now name all the usual’s at the park. From the children to the adults. Their little tics, their manner of striding, their speech patterns, some of their relationships. All of this, he had learned just by observing them. Of course, he didn’t just use the park to people watch. As Sora, he would wander through the village, going to places he usually wasn’t allowed near, or never gone to. There were places he still couldn’t go. Like the road with the red lights, apparently only adults could go there. Or Ninja exclusive areas. However, he wasn’t kicked out from the library, or that bakery with the special matcha cakes. Everywhere he went, he would scrutinize the people around him and the area as well. He mentally mapped out the village ins and outs. So, if he pulled a big prank he would know where to run. And where not to.

And a big prank was in the making. Slowing, he had been buying supplies for it. As Sora, of course. He had it all planed out. Just a bit more time, some more items and he would set it in motion. Not yet. But soon.

The first recipe he decided to make was ramen. Not cup ramen. Real ramen, from ground up. He brought all the ingredients, and some pots and other kitchen stuff. Can’t cook without a pan after all. He had the noodles, the meat, the veggie and the seasoning. Naruto followed the instructions and the overall result looked like real ramen. But the seasoning was off. Too much soy sauce. Too little meat flavor. He still ate it all, although he opted that the next time he would do something simpler. There were a few E-rank and D-rank jutsu in the cookbook. Bit by bit he trained each of them. All of them would be necessary in the future. He only mastered one. A water purifying jutsu. It used a good chunk of chakra, but it cleaned the murky water perfectly.

It took him a while until he decided on the perfect name for his own original technique. Since it was a transformation technique, he played around with words that meant transformation. Like Tensei no jutsu, yet it both meant ‘Transformation Technique’ as well as ‘Heavenly Voice Technique’. That just didn’t do. Words as Henbou and Henshin were good, they had the meaning of transformation, metamorphosis, disguise. However, they sounded too much like Henge. Naruto wanted to make his own jutsu sound grand. Henkaku signified transformation, innovation, revolution and change. And for him this technique was a revolution in his life. But then again, he was an eight years old child. It was not grand enough. So, with much consideration, he came up with ‘Naruto Daihenka no jutsu’, or ‘Naruto Major Transformation Technique’. His very own original technique. How many academy students could boast having one? Not that he boasted about it. It was his secret technique, his hidden ace. He was still testing it. Every time he transformed into Sora, he would push the jutsu a bit. See how long he could keep it up. What he could and couldn’t do. He knew that he could stay shifted for at least two days. He played hooky, just to test that. Run, jump, spar, play, eat, sleep, all as normal. Except seeing if could use chakra, he had tested all.

Today was day. Naruto used his Daihenka no jutsu to change into his alter ego Sora. Today he was going to see if he could use chakra while transformed. He had no plans to leave his apartment, so he kept his orange outfit. Sitting in his usual training spot, he placed a leaf on his forehead. And it stuck. Blinking in surprise the leaf fell. But it stuck while he was focused. Repeating the exercise. Up went the leaf to his forehead, it glued itself there. Ready this time, the boy kept his focus on it. For roughly ten minutes he was able to hold the leaf there. Dropping gently to ground the leaf left in his path a grinning boy. It was a small exercise, but if he could use his chakra when transformed like this, it was possible he could use other jutsu.

He decided he could try the water purifying technique, Jousui no jutsu. All he needed was two glasses, one with dirty water and an empty one. He grabs two glasses from the cupboard. One of them, he fills with water and pours some on his spices in it. Looking quite brownish and undrinkable the water was ready. Naruto hand flash through the required seals, the water rises from one glass to the other. On one glass, there is a layer of dry powder spices. In the other, clean pure water. It worked! He could use ninja techniques while shapeshifted.

“This is great!”

Naruto laughs, and does a happy dance. His Daihenka no jutsu was excellent. Not only could he keep a fantastic cover, he could do other techniques while transformed. He could see how good it would be for undercover missions. He imagined a mission where he had to bodyguard a princess, disguised as her elderly retainer. Someone, the enemy’s ninjas wouldn’t think he was a threat. Until he blasted them with awesome jutsu and saved the lovely princess. Without ever breaking cover. A huge grin breaks out on his face. Well, Sora’s face.

He would need to test a bit more. With other techniques, once he learned them. He was already working his way through the Basic Ninja Cookbook E-rank jutsu and had read ahead about the D-rank ones. There was also the other basic academy E-rank jutsu. He had henge no jutsu down. Now he needed to learn Kawarimi no jutsu and Bunshin no jutsu to have the academy three mastered. Naruto had a lot of work ahead of him.

 

End chapter one.