Author: lkm20 PM
When his application to the Ninja Academy is rejected, Naruto is taken under the wing of one of Konoha's jounin- one Rokushou Aoi. Mature!Naruto. Rated M for violence in future chapters.Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure - Naruto U. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 16,376 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 39 - Updated: 11-01-09 - Published: 01-28-09 - id: 4823735
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN- I don't own Naruto, and believe me, I am devastated.
The concepts of the Essential Eight and the Traveler's Ten are the intellectual property of Perfect Lionheart, as far as I can make out. I highly recommend you read his fic, Chunin Exam Day.
CHAPTER 1- An Alternative Education
It was the morning after the Genin exam in Konoha, and a young shinobi, his hitai-ite bearing the spiral symbol of the Hidden Leaf tied around his head, was making his way toward the Shinobi Academy.
He was a robust-looking kid, dressed in a plain black long-sleeved tunic and long trousers of the same color. His feet sported black shinobi sandals, and at the neck of his tunic could be seen the metal weave of the protective mesh armor favored by many shinobi. A holster for kunai & shuriken was strapped to each leg- above black wrappings to prevent the straps from chafing- and a round equipment pouch attached to his hip at either side. Above the thigh holsters pouches for scrolls were sewn onto the fabric of the trousers. Blonde hair stuck up above the black piece of cloth the hitai-ite was mounted on, and beneath it blue eyes above whisker-marked cheeks observed the world.
It was actually a miracle that Uzumaki Naruto was a qualified shinobi at all. He had applied to enter the academy at the same time that a Kumo shinobi attempted to kidnap the heir of the prestigious Hyuuga clan and the Hokage, being busy dealing with the diplomatic fallout from that incident- which ultimately ended in Kumo undergoing an abrupt and forceful change in leadership- that he had not been able to intercede to stop the academy administrators throwing Naruto's application in the bin out of hand. Naruto, disappointed and upset, had redecorated the Hokage monument before fleeing into the forests on the outskirts of the village to get away from the irate mob of villagers pursuing him. There, he had met Rokushou Aoi.
The young jounin had stopped the vengeful mob- the prospect of provoking an experienced shinobi by attacking him was ugly enough to make even them have second thoughts- and at length managed to discover why it was Naruto had pulled the prank that rouse their ire. Aoi, who like most shinobi of chuunin rank or above know about the demon sealed within the boy, had been shocked. The increased chakra capacity granted to him by his tenant would make him an incredibly powerful shinobi, likely Kage-level, some day- but clearly the fools at the Academy had been unable to see past their prejudices.
Aoi, radiating killing intent, had marched straight to the Hokage, Naruto in tow, and demanded to know how this could've been allowed to happen and what the Hokage was doing about it. Sarutobi had explained and apologized- unfortunately there was no way that Naruto could be admitted to the Academy before start of the next year. Aoi responded that, in that case, he would train Naruto himself. After all, they couldn't count on the same instructors who'd rejected his application to actually make an effort to give him a good education, could they? It took the jounin a while to talk the Hokage round, but he had eventually given his consent.
Aoi immediately enlisted his old genin team, now graduated and qualified as chuunin, as mentors and older siblings to Naruto. Umino Iruka, Morino Idate and Inuzuka Hana were all too happy to help. Now, four years of training under Aoi and his former pupils had paid off. Granted, the first year had been frustrating- Aoi insisted that he focus on improving his chakra control- which turned out to be abysmal- for the whole year before he even thought of learning any jutsu. At the end of the year, Aoi had a private instructor called Ebisu test him- the man's verdict on Naruto's chakra control was that it was 'decent, almost above average'; quite a compliment coming from the notoriously tight-lipped tokubetsu jounin.
To Naruto's subsequent delight, the more serious training started the next day. Aoi set about teaching him the Basic Three- the Clone, Body Replacement and Transformation Techniques. It wasn't enough just to learn to use such basic techniques- he had to be able to perform them seallessly, tracelessly, and at a moment's notice. It took three months of work.
Once Aoi was satisfied with his Basic Three, they proceeded onto learning the group of techniques and skills commonly known as the Essential Eight- the basic skills that every shinobi of genin rank upwards knew. Body Flicker, Rope Escape, Genjutsu Release, Silent Homicide, Stealth, Intelligence Gathering, Explosive tag use and Wire use- with the last came the String Reeling Technique. Aoi edited the Silent Homicide Technique from the year's curriculum, and Naruto's massive chakra reserves meant it was impossible for him to completely suppress his chakra flow as the Genjutsu Release demanded. Instead, Aoi taught him to disrupt genjutsu using a chakra pulse- which he proved to be very well suited to.
When Aoi was satisfied he'd mastered all of it, there were still two months left until Ebisu's return to test him again, so Aoi started him on basic elemental manipulation.
The chakra paper test determined that he was wind-natured, so Aoi had him work on the leaf cutting exercise. After he could cut the leaf quickly and with relative ease, he showed him the two wind techniques- Smoke Dispersal and Trail Clearing- of the Traveler's Ten.
The Traveler's Ten were, like the Essential Eight, techniques that were common to all Hidden Villages- every rookie genin knew one or two. As the name would suggest they were designed to make life easier for shinobi who were on missions that took them into a wilderness environment, as so many missions of C-rank and above often did. They also doubled as a useful training tool for basic elemental manipulation- typically a genin would learn at least the two corresponding to their elemental affinity.
When Ebisu returned to test him, he had Naruto demonstrate everything he'd learned over the past year, including the leaf cutting exercise and the two wind techniques. Ebisu, grudgingly and at length, admitted that he was at the level of a rookie genin just out of the academy- this at a time when his age-mates still had two years left before graduation.
The Hokage, when they went to visit him afterwards, suggested that Naruto take the genin exam and be placed with a team since he was ready. Aoi immediately squashed that idea- he wanted Naruto to take the genin exam at the same time that his age-mates would be taking it, and to be one of the jounin sensei for that year. Naruto would, of course, be placed on his team rather than anyone else's.
On the day immediately after the tests, Aoi set Naruto to work again. The jounin had already decided that his pupil was best suited to being a ninjutsu powerhouse due to his massive chakra capacity, and so wanted him to have a firm grounding in all five elements, not just the one he had an affinity for. The leaf exercises returned, except instead of cutting it Naruto had to moisten it (for water), crumple it (for lightning), dry it to dust (for earth), or make it burn (for fire).
As soon as he mastered the leaf exercise for a particular element- the first one he managed was water- Aoi immediately had him stop the exercises and start working on the techniques from the Traveler's Ten that used that element. It took him eight months, but eventually he could perform all of the Traveler's Ten techniques. Straight after that, Aoi showed him the first combat technique he would learn- Wind Release: Breakthrough, which created a powerful gust of cutting wind in a straight line.
That, however, was the last technique Aoi openly taught Naruto. It was common practice throughout the shinobi villages for jounin-sensei to teach their students the common basics- the Essential Eight and the Traveler's Ten- and perhaps one more technique, then to stop actively teaching techniques.
The reason was quite simple- it was test. Instead of being taught the genin would have to put their newly acquired skills to the test, spying on other shinobi, observing their techniques, then attempting to replicate them. To do so successfully they would need adequate stealth and intelligence-gathering skills, as well as good chakra control and a realistic sense of their own skill in order to judge whether or not a certain technique they'd seen was beyond ability. Therefore, the size of a genin's arsenal of techniques was usually a good measure of their skill.
So Naruto, seeing that Aoi was apparently unwilling to teach him anything more, began observing the sparring sessions that began to occur frequently among Aoi and his former pupils. Aoi had in fact instigated the sessions with a view to this- he instructed Iruka, Idate and Hana to use a wide variety of techniques, giving Naruto the challenge of picking out the D-rank ones that he could actually perform. As soon as Naruto managed to make the technique he was trying to copy work, Aoi would step in and help him master it.
When Ebisu returned at the end of the third year of Naruto's training, Aoi drew him aside and told him exactly what he had and hadn't taught him. After having Naruto demonstrate the remaining eight techniques of the Traveler's Ten and the leaf-based elemental exercises, Ebisu asked Naruto to perform all of the other techniques he knew- then stood back and watched as the boy performed, one after the other, Wind Release: Breakthrough, Water Release: Hidden Mist Technique, Fire Release: Fireball Technique and Earth Release: Snare. Ebisu, just as grudgingly as before, judged that Naruto was roughly halfway between what was expected of a rookie genin and an average genin.
At the resume of training, the sparring sessions began again- only this time the four were more alert and whenever they realized Naruto was watching him they made sure to chase him off- this only happened a few times, since Naruto was stealthy to begin with an a quick learner besides. In the meantime he practiced more advanced elemental control exercises- dispersing his chakra into water or fire, into the air or the earth or sitting atop one of the village's power transformers and releasing lightning chakra into the power lines- sensing the flow of chakra and the patterns it made all the while. This continued for eleven months, Naruto scrounging techniques all the while, and the elemental exercises advanced to Naruto not just sensing the patterns his chakra made but manipulating them- and, by proxy, whatever he had infused his chakra into.
Then, a month before the genin exam Touji Mizuki, a chuunin instructor at the Academy, stole the Hokage's kinjutsu scroll.
The errant chuunin unluckily happened to stumble across Aoi and Naruto's training ground as he was attempting to flee the village with his ill-gotten gains. Recognizing the pilfered scroll slung across his back, Aoi immediately attacked him, with Naruto and the three chuunin moving to assist. Mizuki, however, was an exceptional example of a chuunin. He managed to give Iruka and Idate the slip in the running battle that followed- Aoi, however was not so easily fooled and neither was Hana, courtesy of the famous Inuzuka nose. They managed to part Mizuki from the scroll, but not prevent him escaping Konoha and becoming a missing-nin.
The most immediately significant event of the pursuit, though, was Naruto stumbling across the kinjutsu scroll where it had come to rest, opening it, and reading the first technique before Aoi found him. So it was that Naruto learned the Shadow Clone Technique.
Aoi, taking a pragmatic view of the situation, applauded Naruto's sense of opportunism and, seeing as Naruto had managed to make the jounin-level technique work on his first try, returned the scroll to the Hokage before helping Naruto to master the shadow clone. By the time the genin exams rolled around a month later, he had not only done that but was starting to work on ways to put the tangible, intelligent clones to effective use, as well as ways to combine them with his other techniques, of which he had an impressive array.
He aced the genin exam- there was no other way to put it. Even with the instructors trying to fail him at every turn, even ranged against the moody, stuck-up Uchiha who'd received all the help and support in the world from his equally moody and stuck-up family, he still came out top of the class. When he'd been crowned Rookie of the Year, the brat had glared at him as if it were a crime, just to dare to be better than him.
The technique test was the best of all. Seeing the instructor's eyes bulge with surprise and barely-hidden rage as he performed the technique asked of him just as Aoi had taught him to- seallessly, smokelessly, and within a second of the heavyset chuunin's instruction. The room had been filled from the window to the wall with ordinary clones. The man had pronounced it a perfect clone technique, albeit with resentful anger in his voice as he did so.
'Naruto! Hey Naruto, wait up!'
Inuzuka Kiba was running to catch up with him, his nin-dog and companion Akamaru racing along at his heels to keep up. Naruto had met Kiba partially because of Hana, who was his older sister, partially because the new place he had moved into- his old apartment having been gutted by fire- had been just next to the Inuzuka compound. The first time the two boys met they had clashed violently, and a massive chase all over Konoha had ensued. After that and a couple of other initial hiccups- both were incredibly hard-headed- they'd been fast friends, Naruto sharing the sense of loyalty that typified the Inuzuka.
Naruto stopped to let Kiba catch up.
'I was worried you were going to be late and miss the team assignments.'
Kiba let out a short, bark-like laugh.
'Not for the world! At least we both know we're going to be on the same team. They can't not put us together!'
But, unbeknownst to Naruto and Kiba, that was precisely what 'they' were planning to do. The academy instructor who'd taught this year's graduates, Funeno Daikoku, had met with that year's three jounin-sensei- Rokushou Aoi, Hatake Kakashi & Sarutobi Asuma- and the Hokage to work out the teams.
The Hokage puffed on his pipe thoughtfully.
'Well, we already know that Uzumaki Naruto has been reserved by Aoi- and I think it's a given that Inuzuka Kiba will be on that team too. The two get along so well already, I can see them developing some powerful teamwork.'
'With respect, Hokage-sama, I disagree. I'd like Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura to be on my team along with Naruto.'
That raised eyebrows all around the room.
'The best kunoichi in the graduating class, and the worst. Aoi, of the entire group those two are actually the weakest. The Yamanaka family jutsu are by their very nature limited- at genin level, at least- while Sakura has no basis of family techniques at all, the Haruno being a civilian family. I'd say they're the ones least likely to end up as career shinobi.'
'And that's precisely why I want them.'
The Hokage removed his pipe from his mouth and arched an eyebrow in query. 'Explain.'
'It's simple. Firstly, if being around myself and Naruto doesn't turn them serious, then nothing will.'
This drew nods of agreement from the Hokage and the other jounin- Aoi being committed was one thing, but Naruto showed a determination and commitment to being a Konoha shinobi that was very rarely seen in genin. Aoi was clearly hoping that those qualities would rub off on pair of silly kunoichi.
'Secondly, their lack of techniques is an advantage from where I'm standing- they're both pretty much blank slates.'
'And what do you intend to write on these 'blank slates', as you call them?'
'I intend to create a generalist team. Naruto's already fitting the profile for a ninjutsu powerhouse nicely- he's got Kage-level chakra reserves, above average control, and a technique arsenal that a chuunin would be proud of- almost all of which he scrounged, by the way. As for the other two, I think having Ino be the team's genjutsu specialist would go well with her family's mind abilities. Sakura's chakra control is the best of the three, so I'm planning to have her trained as a medic.'
'So that leaves the Uchiha, the Inuzuka, the Hyuuga, the Aburame, the Akimichi and the Nara. I trust you'll be wanting to train Sasuke, Kakashi?'
The lazy jounin's eye curved downwards in a way that everybody recognized as a smile. 'Of course. I'm the ideal teacher for Sasuke.'
'Yes, just as long as you remember that there are three genin on your team, not just one.'
Kakashi kept smiling as he turned to regard Aoi. 'It depends who those teammates are. Some of the genin are from clans that really only ever need their family jutsu.'
Aoi ignore the last comment, since it was just a sign that Kakashi was his usual lazy self.
'I would recommend Kiba and Hinata. The Uchiha will make a good ninjutsu specialist, and if you add his taijutsu to that he'll be able to support his teammates effectively. The Inuzuka and the Hyuuga balance each other out- both are strong taijutsu specialists, but whereas the Inuzuka techniques allow them to attack more than one opponent, albeit in a rather imprecise manner, the Hyuuga style is better suited to taking on a single opponent in a more precise fashion.'
'So that leaves Shino, Chouji and Shikamaru for me. I was hoping for the Yamanaka instead- make another Ino-Shika-Cho trio.'
'Why not try a different combination? While the Nara and Akimichi techniques are as easy to dodge as they are dangerous, the Aburame kikaichuu are very difficult to evade. Again, it'd strike a nice balance.'
Asuma sighed. 'Okay, okay- you've got me convinced, Aoi. I just wish you wouldn't always be right, that's all.'
The Hokage cleared his throat. 'Is there anything else that needs to be discussed?'
When there was no respond but a general shaking of heads, he gave a satisfied nod. 'Fine, then. The three genin teams for this year will be as follows. Kakashi takes Uchiha Sasuke, Hyuuga Hinata and Inuzuka Kiba as Team 7. Asuma takes Aburame Shino, Akimichi Chouji and Nara Shikamaru as Team 8. And, Aoi takes Uzumaki Naruto, Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura and Team 9.'
The nine genin who passed the exam were set in their Academy classroom. Naruot was in the second row back, with Kiba on one side of him and Shino- who he knew because the Inuzuka and Aburame compounds were next to each other- on the other. Ino and Sakura were in front of them, either side of the Uchiha. He didn't have to look round to see that Chouji, Hinata and Shikamaru were in the row behind them, or that Shikamaru was asleep.
The chuunin who taught the class walked into the room, a piece of paper in his hand. It didn't even take a second for Naruto to put a name to the broad, barrel-chested man- Funeno Daikoku.
'Alright, let's get this over with as quickly as possible. Team Seven- Uchiha Sasuke, Hyuuga Hinata and Inuzuka Kiba. Team Eight- Aburame Shino, Akimichi Chouji and Nara Shikamaru. Team Nine- Uzumaki Naruto, Yamanaka Ino and Haruno Sakura. Team Nine, wait here for your sensei. The rest of you, follow me.'
Daikoku walked out the door, and the other two teams filed out after him, leaving Naruto alone with the two kunoichi.
Naruto slowly got up and walked over to the aisle, then down to take a seat in the front row- although carefully sitting across the aisle from Ino. The pair were, naturally, curious about their new teammate- he had not, after all, appeared in class until the day of the Genin exam. It was Ino who broke the silence.
'You're Uzumaki Naruto?'
'You didn't attend the Academy, did you?'
'No, I didn't.'
Naruto, who until this point had been looking at his hands, turned a level stare upon them.
'My application was rejected.'
Ino stared- Sakura too. It was all but unheard off for an Academy application to be rejected out of hand. Most who were unfit to be shinobi were either weeded out by the end of year exams or dropped out in mid-year. Ino refrained from casting the obvious aspersion against the boy's abilities- Sakura wasn't so circumspect.
'You must be really rubbish then, to have your application rejected. It makes me wonder how you ever managed to cheat Sasuke-kun out of being Rookie of the Year.'
Naruto's face didn't even flicker, but remained impassive.
'I was undergoing an- accelerated- program of study. Sasuke's potential is probably vaguely similar to mine- it's just I've gone further towards turning my potential into actual skill.'
'Why were you chosen when you didn't even get into the Academy? If anybody deserves something like that, it's Sasuke-kun!'
'I wasn't chosen despite being rejected by the Academy, I was chosen because I was rejected by the Academy. I was tested by a jounin shortly after that, and they found I had chakra reserves much larger than average. It was decided that if I were to enter the Academy, what I would be taught there wouldn't develop my chakra control properly- the bigger your reserves are, the more difficult it is to develop good control. Thanks to the program, my chakra control is every bit as good as yours- maybe even better.'
In the awkward silence that followed this pronouncement, the door slid open and a man wearing the standard uniform of Konoha shinobi stepped in- except the jumpsuit under the green tactical vest was black instead of navy. Dark green hair spilled over the band of his hitai-ite and framed pale lavender eyes.
'Are you Team Nine?'
Ino and Sakura looked at him curiously- Naruto just had a smile on his face. 'Yes.'
'I'm your jounin-sensei, Rokushou Aoi.'
Another AN: Before anybody says anything about pairings, I'll say now that it's already been decided on. The only other thing I'm going to say is that it isn't Ino or Sakura.