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Naruto : The System Files

Naruto has always had video games to fall back on growing up while the rest of the village pretty much treated him like garbage. What happens when Naruto wakes up to find his life has become one of the video games he loves so much. -------------------------------------------------------------- Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Any similarities between real people, living or dead, or places, standing or demolished, in this story are just coincidences. But if you like what I do and want to support me, you are more than welcome to donate on Place of Patrons.

Adamo_Amet · Anime & Comics
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80 Chs

Chapter no.70 A Drunk Man's Words Are A Sober Man's Thoughts

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•••••••••••••••••

Naruto was right.

As much as Tenten hated to admit it, his strategy for her to join her team just to irritate Neji was proving to be incredibly effective.

She found herself unable to suppress a grin as she wielded her Kusarigama with precision, slicing through the grass while Lee, with his usual excess of energy, chopped each blade individually and then punctuated his efforts with a set of ten burpees.

Neji's glaring presence loomed behind her, his disapproval palpable.

They were engaged in a D-rank mission, which was more or less routine, followed by what was supposed to be a light training session.

Gai-sensei had emphasized the importance of these activities in fostering good team dynamics.

Sorry, Gai-sensei, but I'm not sure this team setup is going to last even a month before Neji and I are at each other's throats, Tenten mused, half-amused and half-resigned as she snipped through another clutch of grass.

Feeling a bit mischievous and tired, Tenten paused and called out.

"Gai-sensei, I think it's FATE that I am in need of some rest."

She intentionally put emphasis on "fate" just to irritate Neji.

"Yosh! Tenten, rest and rekindle your youthful flames," Gai responded enthusiastically, not missing a beat in his one-handed standing pushups.

Her smile widened as she plopped down on the ground, fully aware that her apparent laziness would only irritate Neji further.

As she lounged, she could feel the intensity of Neji's glare sharpen as she pulled a soda from her storage scroll.

The coolness of the can felt good in her hands, and she popped it open, the sound crisp in the quiet of the field.

The only reason she was doing this was to piss off Neji; genuinely, she didn't care about being in this team.

If this team broke up, she was confident in taking the Solo Genins route, but she was putting up with this because of Naruto. Tenten blushed at how she worded the thought as her mind went to her friends.

I wonder what Naruto and Hinata are doing right now.

_______________________________________

Hinata let out a long sigh as the breeze of the training grounds brushed against her face, carrying with it the earthy scent of fresh dirt and grass.

Her heart had been heavy ever since Naruto had announced his decision to join the ANBU.

The news sent her anxiety skyrocketing; she felt a desperate need to help him in any way she could, much like Tenten did.

She mulled over what she could possibly give to Naruto.

Although he wouldn't mind if she offered nothing, to Hinata, it mattered deeply.

She considered the Gentle Fist technique, but immediately dismissed it.

Without the Byakugan, Naruto wouldn't gain much from it, especially given his mastery of more aggressive styles like Flash Fist.

The Wind Style: Gale Palm briefly crossed her mind, but it felt too insignificant—a mere D-rank jutsu wouldn't be much help in the dangerous life of an ANBU.

"Next is your turn, Hinata," Asuma's voice interrupted her thoughts, bringing her attention to the sparring match before her.

"Fang over Fang!" Kiba's shout echoed as he and Akamaru launched their attack. Sasuke dodged with a graceful spin, his movements a sharp contrast to the aggressive twister coming his way.

Hinata's gaze hardened when she saw Sasuke using a move that resembled Naruto's taijutsu. A flare of irritation rose within her. It was almost as if Sasuke had stolen something precious from Naruto, and she found herself clenching her fists, barely containing the urge to confront him.

Gathering her courage, she turned to Asuma.

"Sensei, can you teach me a B-rank wind jutsu?" she asked, her voice more assertive than she felt.

Asuma, his expression thoughtful as he placed a cigarette in his mouth, replied, "I don't exactly have a close-range wind jutsu, Hinata."

Hinata asked Asuma as he lit his cigarette, noticing the serious look on her face, "But you do have mid and long-range wind jutsus?"

"Do you know what the rule of proficiency, efficiency, and mastery is, Hinata?" Asuma asked.

"No."

"Well, let's take you as an example. You were taught Gentle Fist and Wind Palm, both close-range techniques that complement each other, making you a formidable close-range fighter. Now, if you were taught a long-range wind jutsu, which do you think would benefit you more? The synergistic flow of Gentle Fist and Wind Palm, or a long-range technique?"

"The former," Hinata replied, still unsure.

"Yes, and do you know why?" Asuma continued. Hinata shrugged.

"It's because of the mastery curve. When you learn a jutsu, it should fit into your current combat style. Wind Palm and Gentle Fist are close-range, so they integrate seamlessly into your style, enhancing your proficiency and the efficiency of your techniques. That's why I recommend sticking to close combat. However, I do have an idea to enhance your style."

"Thank you, sensei, but the jutsu isn't for me—it's for my friend, Naruto," Hinata clarified.

"Naruto Uzumaki?" Asuma asked, and Hinata nodded.

Asuma paused, remembering the news he had heard last night about Naruto being assigned to work at the Hokage tower as punishment.

Hmm, I don't know what father is thinking, hindering Naruto's potential with a desk job.

Seeing the hopeful look on Hinata's face, Asuma smiled.

"Don't worry. I'll give you a B-rank wind jutsu after the sparring is over."

"Thank you, Asuma sensei," Hinata said, relieved.

Their attention returned to the training ground where Kiba was knocked to the ground.

"Try to control your strength, Sasuke," Asuma called out.

"Hn," Sasuke grunted, his gaze shifting to Hinata.

"Well, looks like you're up," Asuma said, noticing the intense look in Hinata's eyes as her Byakugan activated.

Sasuke opened his Sharingan in response.

"You two, this is a light spar, no dojutsu," Asuma announced, though both seemed disappointed, as if they had hoped for a more intense match.

Asuma sighed and released a puff of smoke.

Goddamn brats, why couldn't I have gotten a less intense team?

_______________________________________

[ Alert: World Quest ]

[ Quest Title: Clean Up Estate ]

[ Description: The estate has become inaccessible to everyone and now requires a comprehensive clean-up, both inside and out. Your task is to restore its pristine condition. ]

[ Objective:

  - Thoroughly clean both the interior and exterior of the estate. ]

[ Reward:

  - +100 Experience Points

  - Item: Estate Map

  - Access to the security Fuinjutsu array of the estate. ]

[ Failure: - No Clean Estate. ]

Naruto sat under the cool shade of a tree, holding an old Genin team photo in his hands.

He stared at the unfamiliar faces, relying on his observer feat to gather information. Meanwhile, his clones were busy cleaning up the estate.

[ Item: Genin Team Photo ]

[ Description:

A cherished photograph of Genin Team 7, led by Jiraiya.

This team photo features Kushina Uzumaki, Minato Namikaze, and Mikoto Uchiha.

Traditionally, every Genin team captures such a photo as an emblem of camaraderie and unity, an initiative started by Hashirama to remind young shinobi that despite different backgrounds, they are united as one team. ]

"Hmm, Mom was the Fourth Hokage's teammate?" Naruto mumbled to himself, a sense of confusion washing over him.

It made some sense now—why his mother might have agreed to have the Kyubi sealed inside him if she had a close connection with the Fourth.

But the big question that haunted him was what had exactly happened on October 10th that led to such a life-altering decision.

Why did the Kyubi, already sealed within his mother, suddenly break free in the middle of Konoha?

What was going on during his birth?

His thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the sight of numerous dirty and web-covered legs in front of him. Looking up, he saw a dozen of his clones, all equally grimy.

"We are done with the interior," the front clone announced with a hint of annoyance.

"Go fix the yard," Naruto responded without missing a beat.

"We want Ramen as compensation," the clone challenged, stepping forward as the rest of the clones cheered in support of their leader.

"You're clones, what do you need ramen for?" Naruto asked, genuinely puzzled.

"We demand payment for our labor," the clone insisted.

"No," Naruto flatly refused.

"Well, the clones have unionized..."

Boom!

Naruto quickly popped the cheeky clone leader with a senbon fire from his umbrella, ending the brief uprising.

"Sweet mother of goose, Naruto, you are horrible, an irredeemable monster," another clone accused, the irony thick in its voice since the complaint was merely about not sharing ramen.

Naruto merely raised his umbrella to fire again, as the clones smiled obediently. "What kind of flowers do you want planted in the garden, Sir?" they asked in unison.

Naruto snorted, amused.

Just then, a sudden realization hit him. "Fuck! I haven't cleaned up my apartment yet!"

.....

As Naruto leapt from one building to another, a nagging thought kept buzzing in his mind: Was today the day the rent was due?

He pictured his landlord, Michiya Ota, possibly throwing out all his belongings.

"I wouldn't put it past that jerk," Naruto muttered under his breath, quickening his pace through the dimly lit hallways.

He finally stopped, catching sight of his landlord. Michiya was slumped against a wall, vomiting, reeking of alcohol so strongly Naruto felt he could see the stench.

An empty glass boy came to a stop as his feet nudged it away.

Naruto's face twisted in disgust, but he stayed silent, carefully tiptoeing towards his apartment.

He had no desire to engage with Michiya; he just wanted to grab his stuff and leave without ruining his day by dealing with that asshole.

As he moved, Naruto's steps were light, his body tense, ready to bolt at the slightest hint of confrontation.

His focus was clear: get in, get out, avoid trouble.

[ Alert: World Quest ]

[ Quest Title: A Drunken Attacker ]

[ Description: Michiya Ota, in a state of intoxication, has initiated an unprovoked attack on Naruto Uzumaki. ]

[ Objective:- Subdue Michiya Ota without harming him. ]

[ Rewards:

  - Calculated based on the player's actions during the encounter. ]

[ Failure:

  - Public execution of Michiya Ota if Naruto retaliates. ]

Naruto barely had time to register the notification as the looming shadow of Michiya came over him as he instinctively reacted.

In a quick, fluid motion, Naruto felt Michiya's hand land on his shoulder. Reacting instantly, he grabbed Michiya's wrist and twisted it downward, using the landlord's own momentum against him.

Immediately, Naruto transitioned into a mount position, straddling Michiya's chest to keep him firmly pinned to the ground.

Michiya, still reeling from the alcohol, clumsily threw a punch at Naruto.

With a quick movement, Naruto caught the flailing arm, twisting it into a lock at the elbow.

This maneuver allowed Naruto to shift his position slightly; he brought his foot up and sat down across Michiya's chest.

Crossing his feet for stability, he then extended the arm he had caught into a full armbar, applying pressure just enough to restrain but not harm.

"Look, I know you're drunk but calm down, you asshole," Naruto said calmly.

"Calm down! CALM DOWN!" Michiya's screams cut through the air as Naruto wrinkled his nose, the stench of vomit and alcohol heavy around his landlord.

Michiya's face was veiny and red, his body shaking with misguided rage.

But Naruto, being a ninja and when he involved chakra, knew there was nothing Michiya could do to actually harm him.

"Why do I have to c-calm down when I am practically giving my property to my son's killer?!" Michiya's voice broke as he yelled, his efforts futile against Naruto's control.

"I didn't kill anyone!" Naruto shouted back, his voice echoing with the tension of the confrontation as he tightened his grip in the armbar.

"Ha! What do you know? I c-carried my one-week-old son on that night? My body broken, b-bleeding yet I moved just so my son could live but he was long gone, killed long by the Kyubi!" Michiya's words were slurred, his tears mingling with the alcohol, betraying his deep-seated grief and anger.

"I am not the Kyubi!" Naruto yelled, releasing the armbar and pushing the landlord away with a swift kick.

"Then what are you?!" Michiya managed to say more coherently, though his speech was still thick with drunkenness

As Michiya grabbed a glass bottle, he swung it with a drunken, clumsy force directly at Naruto's head.

The bottle made a sharp, piercing crash as it connected, shattering upon impact.

Glass shards tinkled to the ground, scattering around Naruto's feet while droplets of alcohol splattered across his clothes, leaving a wet, sticky residue. Despite the violence of the action, Naruto remained unphased, standing solid and untouched, the broken glass merely a nuisance.

He met Michiya's gaze squarely, his own eyes calm but filled with a deep, weary pity. "I am Naruto Uzumaki."

The realization of his actions seemed to sober Michiya slightly, his face morphing into horror.

He stumbled back, then fell, as Naruto looked on with nothing but disappointment etched on his features.

"Did smashing that bottle over my head make you feel like a big man?...Did tormenting me for years with your bills, with you intentionally making my home a living hell make it worth it?...Right now you didn't attack the Kyubi, you just attacked someone innocent, someone who didn't ask for any of this...Tell me, old man, did it bring joy to your heart... Did it because I am sure if your son was alive, he wouldn't be proud of this, rather he would be afraid of the monster in front of him," Naruto's voice was low.

Michiya Ota ran in fear, and Naruto snorted dismissively.

"Running away from the truth is easy.

Run away because that's all you can do. When you meet your son when you die, make sure to run so that he wouldn't see that disgusting soul of yours."

Naruto spat on the floor in annoyance, running his tongue over his teeth as he glanced at the system interface.

"Why isn't the quest completed or better yet failed? I'm sure I used enough force to harm that loser," he muttered to himself, but then shrugged off the confusion.

With a series of quick hand signs, Naruto conjured a few clones to gather his belongings while he headed to the bathroom to clean up.

....

A few minutes later, Naruto stepped out of the bathroom to find Michiya standing nervously at the doorframe.

Picking up the giant scroll of safekeeping, left behind by his scroll, Naruto paused in the now empty apartment, a heavy sigh escaping him.

"Don't worry, you aren't going to get executed for telling me about the Kyubi's identity, and after today you won't see my face ever again. No need to be reminded of the demon brat, huh?" he said.

With those words, Naruto placed the scroll into his inventory, as it popped out of existence.

He then walked out into the hall.

"I used to be a criminal," Michiya said from behind him, causing Naruto to stop.

"And now you are a landlord. What's the difference?" Naruto retorted without looking back.

Michiya snorted, then continued, "But I escaped and found myself a new life here in Konoha, and I met the love of my life."

Naruto lent an ear to Michiya, choosing to listen rather than walk away, since he was eager for the quest to end.

"A week before the Kyubi attack, she died while giving birth to our son, and she asked me to protect him but..." Michiya's voice broke, and he bit his hand, trying to stifle his tears.

After a minute of waiting, Naruto's patience began to wear thin as he tapped his foot impatiently on the floor.

"My son's death broke me for years. I couldn't do anything; I didn't want to do anything but wait until the day I died," Michiya confessed, taking a deep breath before continuing.

"That was until the day you were revealed to be the Kyubi Jinchuriki. I got news that some civilian mob wanted to kill you—they called it the 'fox hunt'—and I wanted to join in."

Naruto could only sweatdrop at the confession, shaking his head in disbelief. "You all really need help, mentally," he remarked dryly.

"But before anyone else could even join, the leaders of the mob were publicly executed by the Third Hokage. He created laws that made it clear with an example that the civilians weren't to cross the line, or else," Michiya explained, watching as Naruto gave a slow nod, internally grateful for the old Hokage's protection.

"And then the Hokage wanted me to give you this apartment, and I obviously agreed," Michiya added.

"To torment me," Naruto interjected, his voice flat.

Michiya seemed embarrassed as he nodded.

"I knew I couldn't do much since an ANBU was actively protecting you when you were younger. I could do things like cutting off your electricity, purposefully make the plumbing obsolete, and much more."

"You want a standing ovation or something?" Naruto asked sarcastically.

"No, it's just that I wanted to apologize," Michiya said, his tone sincere for the first time.

Naruto pinched himself, hardly believing what he was hearing.

Naruto burst out laughing at Michiya's confession, but his laughter quickly faded as he noticed the genuine shame and seriousness on Michiya's face.

"Why?" Naruto asked curiously, his demeanor shifting as he sensed the change in Michiya.

"A few minutes ago, I was consumed by the fear that the Kyubi would come to kill me, yet it didn't. Then, your words hit me, and I couldn't see you as the Kyubi anymore. I just saw a child who could have been my son's friend in another world. I saw a child that I had wronged for years, and I am sorry," Michiya explained, his voice laden with remorse as he bowed deeply in a kowtow, offering his sincerest apology.

"Do you have a picture of your wife and child?" Naruto asked, shifting the conversation and confusing Michiya momentarily.

Michiya took out two photos that were cut and pasted together; one of a woman and another of Michiya holding a baby, both sharing a melancholic smile.

Suddenly, to Michiya's astonishment, his wife holding their baby appeared beside Naruto.

Michiya rubbed his eyes, disbelieving, and then reached out as if to touch them.

He embraced the genjutsu of his wife and child, tears streaming down his face, as Naruto waited patiently.

"You are in a genjutsu ensnarement, but I think you deserve to see your family one last time. Look, the truth is, I won't forgive you for what you did to me," Naruto said firmly, his tone solemn.

Michiya nodded, accepting Naruto's words. He understood he had no right to expect forgiveness.

"But," Naruto continued, causing Michiya to look up with the genjutsu family still in his arms, "I understand your pain to a certain extent. My parents also died on that day. I guess the anger I feel towards the Kyubi, even though I didn't know my parents, tells me enough to know where you and all the idiotic civilians are coming from. You all lost those who were closest to you, people you knew, people with whom you connected. If I could feel anger and grief for my parents whom I never spoke to, I couldn't fathom the level of pain you all had, even though making me the scapegoat for that pain, anger, and grief was a shitty move, I guess I understand."

Naruto rubbed the back of his head.

"I won't forgive you, but I won't hate you either."

Michiya Ota nodded, then slowly sat down on the floor.

"You are strong, kid... No, man."

"Thanks," Naruto replied, noticing as Michiya pulled out a small metal bottle of alcohol and took a swig. Silence hung between them for a moment, but Michiya seemed hesitant, as if he had more to say.

"I am rooting for you," Michiya finally stated.

"What?" Naruto asked, taken aback.

"I am rooting for you, kid. One day... everyone in Konoha will acknowledge you. Their hatred will be washed away by you. Today was the day I saw Naruto Uzumaki, not the Kyuubi Jinchuriki, not the demon child, not the prankster, but Naruto Uzumaki... One day, everyone in Konoha will see Naruto Uzumaki, the future greatest Hokage of Konoha."

Naruto just smiled and said, "You are still an asshole."

"Fair enough. Well, I am planning on leaving Konoha to travel the world, let my grief go, and maybe find a way to peace," Michiya responded.

"Okay," Naruto said simply.

Then Michiya took out a piece of paper, handed it to Naruto, and left.

[ System Notification ]

[ Quest: A Drunken Attacker ]

[ Status: Successfully Completed ]

[ Rewards Granted: ]

  - [ Item: Deed ]

....

[ Item: Deed ]

  - [ Description: What began as a desperate bribe by Michiya Ota to avoid execution, has turned into a generous gift. This deed grants Naruto Uzumaki ownership of an entire apartment building. ]

.....

Hinata and Tenten's jaws dropped as they gazed upon the deed while they sat at the dinner table, which was cluttered with bags of chips, bowls of karintō—a sweet, deep-fried snack—and cans of soda lay scattered between them.

"No way, so you like own your previous apartment building?" Tenten said in shock, crunching on a chip as Naruto nodded, popping open a soda can.

"What are you going to do with it, Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked, her eyes wide as she sipped her soda.

"I have no clue, maybe sell it," Naruto shrugged, his hands busy peeling open another bag of chips.

"No, you should rent it out and get that easy money," Tenten suggested, her eyes twinkling with the thought of Ryo signs.

"The ANBU pays enough though," Naruto said as Hinata nodded in agreement while munching on some karintō.

"Yeah, but your very own building," Tenten persisted, her enthusiasm undiminished.

"You want it?" Naruto asked, a half-smile appearing as he offered a chip towards Tenten.

"Maybe, I am thinking of opening my own shop, give dad some competition," Tenten smirked, reaching for the chip.

"To think Tenten would bite the hand that feeds her," Naruto shook his head while clicking his tongue, causing Tenten to respond by sticking out her tongue as the duo giggled. Hinata, watching the exchange, waited for the right moment to speak.

"Oh, yeah, before I forget, Hinata, I have something for you." Tenten took out a storage scroll, laying it on the table amidst the snack wrappers.

With a puff of smoke, beautiful golden Neko Te's appeared, more like finger claws than the full glove, adorned with rich engravings of a tigress.

"They are beautiful," Hinata said in awe, her voice soft.

"I think you are missing a few pieces," Naruto said, peering curiously at the intricate design.

"Actually, I modified them for Hinata. Originally, while we were training, I saw that the Gentle Fist primarily uses the thumb, middle, and pointer finger, and since the Neko-Te is a glove, I saw it as a flaw and hence why I made these," Tenten explained as Hinata slipped them on.

"They are perfect," Hinata affirmed, flexing her fingers to feel the fit.

"Yep, because they are made by the best blacksmith in Konoha," Naruto said, causing Tenten to blush.

"Naruto-kun," Hinata said, getting his attention as she placed a scroll on the table. "Tenten gave you the weapon, and this is something from me."

[ Item: Jutsu Scroll ]

  - [ Description: A detailed scroll that encapsulates the intricacies of a B rank jutsu, Wind Style: Wind Bullets. ]

"Thanks, but I feel like I should also give something to you two."

"No, it's okay, I wanted you to have this," Hinata said, her heart fluttering at the thought of using this moment to ask Naruto on a date, but she hesitated, feeling too bold.

"How about you give me that deed?" Tenten joked.

Naruto, without hesitation, handed over the paper.

"I was joking, but since you are so generously offering, I'll take you up on that," Tenten snatched the paper right out of Naruto's hand.

"Hey, Hinata, you should really ask for something big since Naruto is offering," Tenten nudged Hinata, who gulped.

"Just be safe in the ANBU," Hinata replied softly, unable to muster the courage to ask for more as she looked down, blushing.

Naruto just smiled warmly at everything his friends had done for him.

Tomorrow would mark Naruto's first day in the ANBU, and the thoughtful gifts from Hinata and Tenten had deepened his resolve. He knew he couldn't let their efforts be in vain; he needed to become stronger. But how? As he sipped his cool soda, the answer seemed simple: by leveling up.

Leveling up was a straightforward concept for Naruto: accumulate enough experience to surpass the required threshold, and he would advance to the next level. Dungeons were the fastest way to achieve this, as the enemies within them actually yielded experience points upon defeat.

This realization, however, led Naruto to a darker thought: would killing an enemy ninja also grant him experience points? He quickly pushed this grim consideration aside, focusing instead on the opportunities ahead.

He was grateful he had saved a dungeon key in his inventory, a reward from one of Tenten's quests. He hadn't used it yet, mainly because he had been tied up with numerous E-rank missions. He pulled out the item to examine it:

[ Item: The Masked Cult's Dungeon Key ]

[ Type: Dungeon Access Key ]

[ Description: A cryptic key shrouded in mystery and dark magic. It unlocks the entrance to the hidden lair of The Masked Cult. ]

[ Special Requirement: This key must be used at the Uzumaki Clan's Shrine to activate its power and gain access to the dungeon. ]

What?!

Naruto's eyes widened in shock as he read the words

Uzumaki clan's shrine?!

____________________________________

Kakashi Hatake slouched further into his seat at "The Kurusai," a quiet bar he often visited when he needed to escape from the world.

With a lazy posture that lacked any semblance of dignity, he spread himself out in the booth, blending into the dimly lit backdrop of the establishment.

In his hand, he absentmindedly swirled the lukewarm sake in his cup, watching the liquid move but not really seeing it.

The alcohol, which once brought a brief respite, no longer comforted him; it had become just another numb routine to dull his senses.

His usual companion, a favorite book, seemed unappealing today.

He reached into the pouch he always carried, then stopped midway.

Even reading, his usual refuge, had lost its allure.

Lately, everything felt that way.

Kakashi was no stranger to feeling down. Ever since the death of his sensei twelve years ago, a shadow had hung over him.

But recently, this gloom had deepened.

He knew the reason all too well.

The moment he learned that his late sensei's child, Naruto, had survived that fateful night, he had made a silent vow to protect the boy at all costs.

Yet, he could not bring himself to raise Naruto, haunted by a deep-seated fear—the curse that seemed to follow him, where those closest to him met tragic ends.

First, it was his father, Sakumo Hatake, then his friends Obito and Rin, and finally his own sensei, Minato. One by one, they had all slipped away.

Now, Kakashi feared that getting too close might doom Naruto as well.

So he chose to protect the boy from the shadows, always watching, never intervening more than necessary.

He had hoped to directly guide Naruto as his jonin-sensei, to mold him into a ninja worthy of Minato's legacy.

But that plan was derailed by the ninja command's decision, assigning him to another team.

That brief period when he believed he could shape Naruto's path was one of the few times the warm sake seemed soothing, but even that comfort was fleeting.

Now, as he sat alone with his thoughts, Kakashi's gaze occasionally flickered towards the entrance of the bar, a subtle twitch of his eye the only sign of his vigilance.

His posture was hunched, his movements slow and heavy as he brought the cup to his lips, each sip less satisfying than the last.

Why did it hurt so much to see Naruto, a boy he should have been closer to, yet felt so distant from?

Questions about Naruto's unusual desk job assignment gnawed at him.

The Hokage's decision didn't add up unless there was something more, something ominous and hidden unfolding in Konoha. Kakashi wrestled with his thoughts.

Kakashi's heart sank with the weight of his unresolved dilemmas.

Could he confront the Hokage to unearth the full story?

And if he did, would he find the courage to protect Naruto, to not fail him as he had failed Rin?

The taunting echoes of his past mistakes haunted him, and with a weary sigh, he drained the last of his sake through his mask, seeking a momentary escape from his spiraling thoughts.

His solitary reflection was abruptly shattered by a loud voice.

"Kakashi, my friend!"

Gai announced himself far too enthusiastically, jarring Kakashi back to the present.

An irritated shout for quiet from another patron did little to dampen Gai's vigor.

Turning to face Gai, Kakashi's single visible eye flickered with a hint of annoyance and resignation.

The muscular, spandex-clad figure of Maito Gai, ever oblivious to the subtleties of discretion, plunked down opposite him without invitation.

"So, my hip rival, did you get the mission orders?"

Kakashi let out another sigh, this one deeper and more revealing of his fatigue. "Yes, Gai, yes. I received the mission orders," he replied, his voice flat, almost disinterested.

He leaned back, his posture slumping as he did so.

Gai, ever perceptive of his friend's moods despite his usual exuberance, narrowed his eyes in concern.

"Should I assume you are not the real Kakashi?"

This routine was another thing he was getting tired of.

"Mh, you said something Gai?"

The spandex-clad jonin smirked before fake tears streamed out of his eyes.

"So hip and cool, my rival!"

He boomed.

"Will. You. Shut up?!"

Gai waved at the irritated drunk apologetically and turned back to Kakashi, his features set into a mask of worries.

"Is everything alright, Kakashi?"

Kakashi's eye lingered on Gai, the usual spark of mischief absent as he considered confiding everything that burdened him.

Yet, as quickly as the thought appeared, he dismissed it with a silent scoff and offered Gai an eye smile.

"Sure, Gai. I'm alright."

The towering jonin furrowed his brow, releasing a long sigh that echoed his reluctance to leave the matter unsettled.

"If you say so, Kakashi."

"You know I'd be happy to—" Gai began, his voice filled with genuine concern.

"Gai," Kakashi interrupted, the finality in his tone halting any further attempts at probing.

"Okay. Okay," Gai sighed, accepting the boundary.

"We see each other tomorrow then. What time do you want to depart?"

"An opportunity to push my kids a bit. Let's say eight."

"At eight. Very well, I'll inform my genin," Gai said, rising to his feet. Before departing, he threw one last glance back at Kakashi.

"You know, maybe talking with someone more responsive than a stone would help with whatever is eating you," he offered as a farewell.

Kakashi watched dispassionately as Gai left, his gaze drifting back to the half-empty cup of sake on the table.

The alcohol no longer sufficed; maybe it was time for something stronger.

Perhaps the Earth Country whisky Asuma often bragged about would do the trick—more potent, capable of not just dulling but erasing the pain.

Lazily, he waved for the waiter who approached promptly.

"I'll have a glass of this Earth Country Old Malt," Kakashi ordered, his voice devoid of its usual lilt.

"Sure sir, right away," the waiter responded, returning swiftly with a large glass filled with a modest measure of amber liquid. Kakashi sniffed the contents, allowing himself a rare, self-satisfied smile.

That would do perfectly.

In a single sip, he downed the whisky, feeling it burn down his throat, a false warmth spreading through his body, numbing his senses and dulling his thoughts.

Delicious.

"Bring the whole bottle," he commanded, his voice low and gravelly.

"R-right sir, back in a minute," the waiter stammered, sensing the urgency in Kakashi's tone.

Left alone again, Kakashi's eye fell on the mission scroll—a confrontation with Shimura Danzo, an S-rank mission. Something in his gut twisted; he felt this mission was somehow tied to Naruto.

As the waiter returned with the bottle, Kakashi caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the glass.

"Don't mess this up," he muttered to himself, closing his eye.

"Don't mess this up," he repeated silently, like a mantra, hoping against hope that this time, he could make things right.

Each repetition was a plea, a quiet prayer to stave off the haunting failures of his past.

...

[ **Author Note:**

Okay, some bad news, guys. I am sick right now, so the chapter releases will be a little slow. I hope you all can understand. Thank you for your continued support on all my platforms.

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1. Okay, so I kinda changed Minato's team from the unknown duo to Kushina and Mikoto.

Hence, in chapter 44, Jiraiya shipped Minato with Kushina and Mikoto.

Other than that, this change was a cool way to make use of connections between a lot of characters, but in a sense, it was to add weight to Jiraiya's wishes and regrets with Naruto.

Unlike in the original, Jiraiya had the responsibility of taking care of the son of his two students.

For now, it's a throwaway line that will be relevant when Naruto and Jiraiya meet.

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2. Naruto's confrontation with his landlord—I really had fun writing this portion.

I also took a jab at the fox hunt trope. I know this thing is so prevalent in Naruto fanfics, but let's be honest, it's a stupid trope that doesn't make sense considering Naruto in those fanfics always tries to defend the village, even though they attacked him physically, almost killed him, and sometimes they do a lot more dark stuff that I have almost vomited.

Yet, throughout all of that, Naruto still defends the village for some reason. Anyways, I took a jab at that trope essentially; some civilians were dumb enough to make the fox hunt, and essentially Hiruzen publicly executed the leaders to make an example out of them. This moment also ties back into Hiruzen's character as, yeah, he couldn't give Naruto the best life, but he tried really hard to protect Naruto.

Also, Michiya's comment on an ANBU protecting Naruto is Kakashi, btw.

I know Michiya as a character is to show how shitty Naruto's life is early on, but I think I did a good job adding to him as a character. Plus, with Naruto and Tenten co-owning the building, what do you think they are going to use it for?

Comment down below; I would love to hear your thoughts.

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3. Okay, so a lot of the story up until now has been focused on the Naruto side, but now in the next 2 to 3 chapters (each will be very big), Naruto is going to dungeon dive and he will gain a lot of stuff.

I want you guys to give me some ideas:

1. Naruto is going to gain Uzumaki clan Elemental Ninjutsus.

- Here is the criteria for this:

- The jutsu has to be linked with the 5 elements, no Yin and Yang.

- The jutsu has to incorporate Fuinjutsu somehow.

- Give me your best ideas.

...

2. Naruto is going to gain Magic Items. Give me your ideas on what magic item you guys want Naruto to have.

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4. How did you all think about Kakashi's characterization? I answered why Kakashi never took in Naruto.

I know many people like to give answers like Kakashi was too young to take care of Naruto or whatever, but the guy was a Genin at 5, Chunin at 6, and Jonin at 8.

I am sure taking care of a baby isn't too much for Kakashi.

Anyways, I kinda did another popular trope of Kakashi being afraid that he might cause Naruto to die, hence why he didn't adopt or take care of Naruto.

To me, this is a logical trope. What do you guys think?

Especially since Kakashi is going to figure out that Danzo is involved with Naruto. Will Kakashi get out of his depression to save Naruto from the darkness or something else entirely?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Thank you for enjoying my work, and thank you for your support. I hope you guys have a blessed rest of the day, and please give me your thoughts in the comments. ]