1:Hero's Departure and A Companion

Naruto took one last look back at the village, already being a fair distance away, and it was only getting smaller. Jiraiya turned around and gave the boy a quizzical look, "Having second thoughts, Brat?" He said, hoping to rile the boy up just a little get him back to his usual self. For a short time after his battle with Sasuke Uchiha. He was still suffering from his injuries, despite the Kyuubi's healing abilities.

The bandaged boy sighed and looked back at his sensei, "No...I'm just gonna miss everyone, that's all."

Jiraiya sighed, He's still depressed, he thought. "Look, this really isn't that abnormal. Some shinobi leave their villages for decades for a mission sometimes. We're only gonna be gone for three years or so."

"Yeah," Naruto muttered. "So...what are you gonna be teaching me, Pervy Sage?"

Jiraiya, for once, didn't even rise to the blond's nickname for him, "I'll be teaching how to use the Kyuubi's chakra, of course."

Naruto nodded, "And?"

"And what?" Jiraiya asked.

Now Naruto showed a reaction, scowling at the older man, "Wait...you're tellin' me that's all you were gonna teach me?!"

"Well, yeah," Jiraiya shrugged, "What else?"

Naruto grumbled and promptly turned around, back toward the village, "Not interested." Jiraiya's jaw hit the ground as his apprentice started walking away.

"Wait!" Jiraiya roared, jogging after him, "What do you mean you're not interested?! You're a Jinchuuriki! This is what you're supposed to learn!"

Naruto turned around and glared at him, "You're kidding, right?! Look at Gaara, for Kami's sake! He used Wind Style ninjutsu, an elemental technique! Sasuke has Fire and Lightning! What do I have? SQUAT!"

Jiraiya was clearly startled by the boy's outburst, if only because the blond was resembling his former students crush, and later, wife. But Naruto wasn't finished, yet.

"Look, Pervy Sage, I get that I'm have this gigantic, moody furball inside me - "

I heard that, you little runt! The Kyuubi roared loudly enough to make Naruto wince, but he ignored it for once.

"- But that doesn't mean I don't want to learn anything else besides just using that damned, sickening chakra of his!" Naruto yelled, stepping forward as the Sannin stepped back. "All I really have is Shadow Clones, the Toad Summoning contract, and now the Rasengan! Sakura's learning medical ninjutsu, and I'm damned sure that Sasuke's not gonna be skipping through daisies while Orochimaru's got him! No way!"

"Jeez, kid," Jiraiya said defensively holding up his hands, "Just what the hell do you expect?"

"EVERYTHING!" Naruto roared loud enough that he was heard by a few people back in the village a good four miles away. "All of Team Seven have been taken in by one of the legendary Sannin! I wanna know what you know! I wanna be strong enough that I can bring Sasuke back to the village kicking and screaming if I have to! And I wanna be able to knock that snake-pedo on his ass so hard he'll never look at another person again!"

Jiraiya was beginning to see what Naruto's problem was, but Naruto was still ranting at him for one reason or another. Jiraiya was no fool. He'd heard about the teaching methods of the academy. Loose with normal students, except for maybe Iruka, whom the blond Jincuuriki looked to as a father figure from what he'd told him. Then old Sarutobi had told him about a few incidents meant to sabotage Naruto's education. Nothing obvious. That is not until later after Mizuki had tricked him into stealing the forbidden scroll. His tests and whatnot had been for advanced level shinobi that no academy student would ever need to look at. And no one had thought to check the boy's chakra levels as a solution of his with the Clone Jutsu, which had been rectified due to the Shadow Clone variation.

Then there was Kakashi, Jiraiya sighed in disappointment. The student of his student certainly made a name for himself, but the way he had neglected his other two students in favor of the Uchiha heir was downright shameful. While the white-haired man could understand at some level why Kakashi would do it, that understanding being the shared Kekkei Genkai, but to simply leave both his students to their own devices...

Jiraiya looked back Naruto's track record. His taijutsu was crap. Naruto was a hard-nosed brawler, hands down. In a straight up street fight, that was a good thing, but in a battle against shinobi, he would be the easiest target as he tended to rush headlong into things without thinking too much about it. As far as ninjutsu went, Naruto was right, he only had two techniques. Three if he counted the summoning.

Naruto was right. The control of the Kyuubi's chakra wouldn't be enough.

By now, Naruto had worn himself down...badly. His injuries still took a heft toll on him. The last hole in his chest from Sasuke's enhanced Chidori had down a immeasurable amount of damage that was only just finishing healing from a critical condition. He was leaning over, his hands braced on his knees, huffing and puffing like he'd just run a marathon around the Land of Fire.

Jiraiya sighed, knowing the blond was far more than right. "Alright, Naruto, you win." Naruto perked up at this, not sure that he'd heard him right. Jiraiya just grinned, "I'm still going to get you to learn how to control the Kyuubi's chakra, but while I'm at it, I'm gonna train you until your bones crack, and you can barely move an inch at the end of the day." Naruto finally smiled as Jiraiya made his intentions clear, "And when you wake up in the morning, we'll do it all again. Just remember, brat, you asked for this, and I'm not gonna hold anything back just so you can complain later, got it?!"

"Hai, Sensei!" Naruto yelled happily.


Not far from the pair's location, in a forest recently leveled by a high powered Wind Release, laid a certain kunoichi that had been on the receiving end of said jutsu. She was feeling extremely weak...and extremely pissed. "Fuck me..." she groaned, cracking her eyes open for the first time in days, "What the fuck hit me...oh yeah...a blonde bitch with a thing for that lazy fucktard..." She tried to move, but found her body trapped. Her eyes snapped fully open then, looking down at her hips in abject horror. "You...you're fuckin' shitting me!" Tayuya roared in anger and fear as she started scrabbling against the ground in an attempt to free herself, but to no avail.

"The Curse Mark!" Tayuya snapped, trying to activate it, but the mark on her neck only flared for a short moment, then died down as she felt the mark breaking apart, "Wait! I'm not fucking dead yet! Orochimaru!" In the back of her mind as the mark left her, she could have sworn she heard the Snake Sannin's chilling laughter. She now felt much weaker than before as the power of her mark left her, weak and helpless to move the lag that was trapping her. "You... you ass-eating son of a bitch! When I get my fucking hands on you I'll tear that nasty tongue out of your mouth and shove it up that silver-haired fucker's ass!" The girl howled angrily, some small amount of energy coming back to her.

But the pain in her legs had come back now ten-fold, and was blinding to her. She couldn't move at all as she raked her fingers on the ground, tearing them to shreds, "Kami damn it all!" She roared, "I'm not gonna die here! I'm free! I'm not'cher fuckin' puppet anymore! I'll live you selfish son of bitch, and I'll find you!" Her vision began to fade as she spent herself in the angered rant, collapsing to the ground, "I'll...kill...you..."


Now, a shorter distance away, Naruto lay against a tree, already tired from the walk, "Dammit, this sucks...why aren't I healing like I normally do?" He grumbled under his breath. Normally, as far as he knew, the Kyuubi always healed his wounds for him after a really rough fight. Even when he'd gotten stabbed right through his chest by Sasuke's Chidori for the first time. Although, said fox had not been happy about it. Naruto was still a little miffed about being called a runt by the creature.

That is because you are a runt, Runt! The fox answered him with a grunt of boredom, and Naruto had an image of him laying with his cage with his head on his paws. If you weren't so woefully pathetic, then I wouldn't have to help you all the time. You were damned lucky that you were already calling on my power before he struck with that blow, or else we'd both be dead...you for good, I on the other hand, would simple reform myself far away from the likes of your kind!

Gee, Furball, tell me how you really feel, Naruto thought sarcastically, You know you could have just let me die, if freedom's what you really wanted, right? The blond thought at the fox, hoping that he would, for once, receive a positive answer.

He wasn't disappointed. Bah, you really are an idiot, Runt. As if I would allow myself, let alone my...container, to be killed by another wretched Uchiha! That cursed clan has caused me no end of suffering since the dawn of the shinobi world.

What's that supposed to mean? Naruto asked, You knew the Uchiha before the massacre?

Damned right I did, the fox growled, surprisingly talkative for once, If I could call any Ningen family aside from my father, I would say that it had to be the Senju...and the Uchiha.The last part came as a deep rumbling growl that the blond had come to know as the Kyuubi's way of expressing sheer loathing. All the wars you've heard about over the years have mainly centered around that clan. Those repugnant eyes of theirs made them see themselves as all-powerful beings, but the truth of it all was that those very eyes made them blind...blind with power. It was all they cared about. The first Uchiha, Indra, was so set on power, that when his father passed leadership over the clan to his brother, the first Senju, Indara fought with him for the right to lead the family, thus dividing the clan into two...

So...wait, the Senju, like Tsunade, and the Uchiha are related? Naruto asked, eager to keep the stoic fox talking.

I just told you that their ancestors were brothers, you dolt! The fox roared, nearly deafening the poor blond. And yes, they were related, and spawned greater clans than could even be imagined!

You know a lot, Naruto smiled, Will you tell me more? I'd like to hear about the days like that...it sounds like such a simple life...

Simple? Pah! It was hell on Earth. In those days, I was sealed away along with my brethren inside a single man. That man and his brother lead mankind into the age of shinobi. From these two men came the Senju, Uchiha, Hyuuga, and Kaguya clans. These four clans had the four great Kekkei Genkai. You know that the Senju had an incredible chakra, the Uchiha had the eyes of the sage, or a small variation of it, while the Hyuuga got their Byakugan from the brother, Hamura, and somewhere the Kaguya were born with the Shikotsumyaku, or Dead Bone Pulse, utilizing their own bones as weapons. In my opinion the Kaguya were closely related to the Hyuuga at one point in time. These two Kekkei Genkai were the only ones brought the world through my father's brother.

That's so cool, Naruto thought, getting a little of his energy back, Two men produced so many clans!?

It's not that incredible, The fox sighed, Back then, it wasn't uncommon for men to take more than one mate to preserve their blood lines in case an heir died in battle, or suffered a deadly illness. Many villages still practice this to keep a Kekkei Genkai clan alive. With each wife came a different element for the child they produced.

Sounds like a crazy idea, Naruto thought with a sigh, Seriously, who could handle more than one girl...

Naruto and the Kyuubi, for once, had the very same thought. Pervy Sage/The Pervert.At the shared thought, both broke into laughter. It was odd. For the longest time, he had thought the Bijuu truly hated him, but here they were, laughing. The fox caught the silent question from his container, and growled, I do still hate you, Runt. But, after the battle with the Uchiha brat, you've earned a small amount of my respect, not a small feat, mind you. And as the perverted sage said, it's going to be hell for the next three years. I intend to help you along in that prospect.


Oh, yes,the Kyuubi grinned, At the end of the day, when your bones and muscles are damaged beyond medical repair, I'll be the one to piece you back together, and watch the whole thing over again with a big smile on my face. Naruto just shivered at the thought of being put back together like a puzzle by the fox for his amusement. As much as he thought their conversation was an improvement to the Bijuu/Jinchuuriki relationship, the fox's sadistic side was still scary as hell. Sighing, the blond leaned back against the tree and closed his eyes, letting sleep overtake him.

The Kyuubi decided to follow suit, seeing as nothing interesting was going on now, and his container was still recovering. But, had the wind been blowing from the treeline instead of toward it, both would have caught the faint scent of blood in the air.

Jiraiya, as it would happen, was the one that caught the scent instead. He was gathering firewood for the evening, seeing as Naruto still needed rest from his injuries. Though the wind may have been blowing in the opposite direction, there was one thing that alerted the Sannin. Overhead, circling, was a group of carrion birds.

"That's the forest Naruto chased Sasuke through a few days ago..." the Sannin mused as he tied the bundle of wood together, "It's probably nothing," he sighed, turning back to the camp, but cast a glance back over his shoulder and sighed, "I'm probably imagining it, but what the hell?" He turned and set off toward the area the birds were circling.

Tayuya, meanwhile, had woken up again and was determined to free herself this time, with or without her legs attached. Her rational mind was very close to snapping at this point, thing very seriously about hacking herself free of the tree trunk with what few kunai she had left, but part of her worried she'd cut into herself...yet the other part thought that would be just fine as long as she got loose.

She couldn't feel her legs. Which likely meant that she'd lost all use of them for good, yet she couldn't bring herself to cut into her own flesh...yet. At this final thought she growled and dug into the ground, grasping back handfuls of earth and grass trying once more to claw her way free. Her fingers were raw and bleeding badly from her attempts. She was working herself to death.

"Fuck if I'm gonna die here," she growled aloud, "Not until I kill that Orochi-teme for leaving me like this!"

"So you're one of Orochimaru's flunkies, huh?" Said a voice from above her, startling her into looking up. There sat a man with stark white hair pulled back into a spiny pony-tail, with a horned hitai-ate around his head with the word oil painted on it in black kanji. He wore a flamboyant red vest that looked like it came straight out of a Kabuki theater along with a green-grey outfit underneath. "I could help you, but you'd have to give me a very, very damned good reason to do so."

Tayuya couldn't believe her luck that a person had come along and found her, and not only that, though he looked rather odd, he had a aura of power radiating from him. This man was as strong, if not stronger, than Orochimaru!

The girl looked up at him piteously, "I don't care what you ask me to do. I'll do anything you want, just so long as you get me out of this mess...please!" She begged. Jiraiya was no fool, and knew that her words could very well be an act, but there was a sincerity in her words that made him think.

He jumped down from his perch atop the fallen tree and landed in front of her, crouching down to her eye level. "What I want from you, Girl, since you seem dead set on killing my old teammate, is for you, a former Oto-nin, to lead me to his hideouts...all of them...Swear by the Rikudō Sennin, and I'll help you out. If not, then I'll leave you here for the birds."

"F-former teammate...fuck...you can't be Jiraiya?!" Tayuya yelled, raising a little from where she lay.

"The same." Jiriaya nodded.

Tears sprang to the girl's eyes, "I swear! I'll do whatever you want! I just want a piece of that bastard when you catch him!"

"Done!" He bit down on his thumb, "Summoning Jutsu!" There was a large puff of smoke that lifted the man from the ground as he now stood atop a gigantic green toad with two swords strapped to his sides. "Gamahiro-san, good of you to come." Jiraiya greeted.

Gamahiro looked up at his summoner, "Good to see you, too, Jiraiya-san, but why have you summoned me here? I see no enemies around."

Jiraiya pointed his attention down toward the pinned kunoichi, "The reason I summoned you was to help lift this tree off of her. I could probably do it with my sage mode, but it would take too long to gather the required chakra to do it. Think you can manage?"

"As you wish, but she will be in great pain once I move the trees," Hiro cautioned, "I have some of Ma's healing oils if you think they will help?"

"That'd be great," Jiraiya nodded, and jumped back to the ground and grasped the girls hands, "We'll get you outta there now. Just hang on and don't move."

"R-right," Tayuya squeaked, wary of the giant toad as he moved into position. Gamahiro bent down and started moving the massive trees one by one until he picked the last one off of Tayuya, the girl giving a pained, yet relieved cry as she was freed. Jiraiya pulled her out of the debris so he could have a look at her legs. He didn't like what he found. Sure enough, Tayuya's legs were mangled beyond recognition. Tayuya took one look at herself and nearly passed out again, "Fuck..."

"This is gonna hurt," Jiraiya sighed, his hand starting to glow a blue-green color with chakra, "The bones are completely shattered -"

"You mean I'll never walk again," Tayuya whimpered.

"No," Jiraiya said, "That's not what I meant. It's just going to take me a while to get all these fragments back into place. I may not be a full medical-nin, but I'm good at setting bones, and piecing them back together." He said, already beginning to draw the pieces back together, making the girl wince.

"C-c-could you keep talking?" Tayuya grit out, "G-give me something else to focus on besides this fucking pain!"

"Alright," Jiraiya said absently, "While you'll be traveling with us, you'll be training alongside my apprentice as we search for Orochimaru's hideouts. Of course I'll keep a close eye on you, but I expect you'll hold up your end of the bargain."

"Fuck yeah I will, ya jackass," Tayuya snapped before hissing in pain as her bones knit back together, "I'm a lot of fucking things, but a liar ain't one of 'em! OW!" Jiraiya pulled a large piece of wood out of her left leg.

"Good to know," Jiraiya smirked, "If that's the way you think, I may take you on as a second apprentice. You and Naruto would get along fine, I think."

That name struck a chord in Tayuya's memories as she recalled the pineapple-haired Nara calling his blond friend that name before he lept over her after the Uchiha. "You mean that blond fucker with the loud mouth?" Tayuya asked.

"That's him," Jiraiya smirked, "Had a little run-in with him?"

"He fucking jumped over me while we were in the middle of a fight and high-tailed it after that Uchiha-fag!" Tayuya spat angrily at the memory of that goofy face of his appearing over her as he jumped, then to add insult to injury, he had mocked her before he left her with the Nara.

Jiraiya chuckled, "That sounds like him. Gamahiro, the oil if you please?" He said, looking up at the green toad. Gamahiro formed a few hand signs and a large yellow vat of oil appeared next to them. Jiraiya quickly dipped his hands in and applied it to her legs. Almost immediately her legs were numb, making her sigh in relief.

"That feels so much better," she sighed, "What the hell do they use in that oil?"

"We secrete the base oil from our skin," Gamahiro explained, "We then boil it while mixing in healing herbs that only grow on our mountain. We keep those secret so shinobi won't try to steal them...as a certain Sannin once did." The toad looked at Jiraiya in amusement while the old sennin. Jiraiya had the good grace to blush as Tayuya cast a glance in his direction as he worked.

"So I was trying to take a few herbs to Tsunade," Jiraiya grumbled, "Big deal...not like she would have thanked me anyway...not the way I wanted." Tayuya couldn't hold back the snicker as the old man pouted like a child, but soon hissed as some of the pain came back for a moment before ebbing away again.

An hour or so passed before Jiraiya finished with Tayuya's legs, the fragmented bones now reformed, yet still brittle, having fractures along them until the oil finished its work. He bandaged her legs up, and lifted the girl onto his back, and started back toward camp. Gamahiro bade them farewell before dispelling himself back home.

Naruto was still sound asleep when they arrived, not that Jiraiya was surprised. The Kyuubi's chakra was powerful, and all Jinchuuriki had the fast healing abilities, but Naruto still had a fair amount of damage done to him. As Jiraiya set the girl down, and started unpacking a bed roll for her, he thought about what he'd sensed when he confronted the boy in the hospital about the trip. Surprisingly, he had sensed a large amount of Nature chakra emitting from the wound. From the look of the wound, and from Kakashi's debrief, Sasuke had used a Chidori on him twice, but the second had been obviously effected by the Curse Mark.

Naruto's body, though used to the demonic chakra of the Kyuubi, was all but new to the Nature chakra, which explained why it might have been afflicting him so badly.

"What the fuck happened to him?" Tayuya asked as she laid eyes on the blond, who was covered in bandages himself from face to torso. Even the horrendous orange jump suit he was wearing looked shredded.

She was picked up again when Jiraiya had her bed ready, and laid down. She didn't complain. The most sleep she'd had was when she'd fallen unconscious from trying to get out from under the trees. It was strange to her, though, because when she slept on the ground, she normally only had a blanket. Jiraiya had given her a small roll to lay on with the blanket, and a small pillow to rest on. She'd never had this sort of luxury.

"He fought with the Uchiha you were sent to retrieve," Jiraiya explained quietly, "Apparently after he got past you, he and Sasuke met at the Valley of the End, and fought. He was nearly killed, and probably would have been if Sasuke hadn't shown a small ounce of mercy as he and Naruto squared off...strange as it may seem, the two did share a friendship...a rivalry of sorts."

"Shit, didn't know the little spazz was that strong," Tayuya sighed, looking the blond over once more, "No wonder that snake bastard wanted him so badly."

Jiraiya sighed, "That's the main reason I got him to come along." He said, rubbing the back of his head, "Getting Sasuke back to the village is one of his goals. I tried to convince him to give up on him, but he's got a stubborn streak in him a mile long. Plus he made a promise to a girl that he'd bring Sasuke back."

Tayuya sneered, crossing her arms over her chest, "A girl, huh? Let me guess, she has a thing for the Uchiha, and Whiskers over there has a thing for her?"

"Nailed it," Jiraiya sighed, "He's a lot like me in that respect. Can't get the girl he wants to give him the time of day without getting the crap kicked outta him."

Tayuya snorted, thinking that he needed a good knock in the head just as said blond started to wake. Naruto groaned a little from the soreness of his body as he stretched, his cerulean eyes fluttering open. Jiraiya grinned as he waited for the boy's reaction as he looked around. Tayuya just scowled at him when his eyes landed on her and widened. "Surprise, Shithead!"

"Wah! YOU!" Naruto yelped, and jumped up, immediately regretting the action as his injuries ached. Naruto doubled over, still keeping his eyes on the girl, "What the hell are you doing here!?"

Tayuya just grinned at him, "Doing better than you, it looks like! Got enough wraps there, Shithead?"

The blond gennin advanced on her, ready to deck her, but a strong knock to the head from Jiraiya stopped him. "ARGH! WHAT THE HELL PERVY SAGE!"

"There's no need to be a brat, Kid," the old sage said, "She's not one of Orochimaru's lap dogs anymore. I convinced her to help us."

"Yeah, right," Naruto huffed, flopping back to the ground, "What makes you so sure she's gonna help? Or how she's gonna - "

"Um, hello?" Tayuya snapped, "Ex-enemy kunoichi here! I know where my fucktard boss's bases are! All of them!"

"And she swore an oath to me that's she'd help us," Jiraiya stepped in, "As long as she got a shot at Orochimaru herself, then she's in. She doesn't even have her Curse Mark anymore, or else she would have been long gone by now."

The blond was still skeptical at this point, and Tayuya's cocky smirk wasn't doing much for his temper at the moment. "What good is she going to do us?" Naruto asked, looking pointedly at her bandaged legs, "She can't walk, can she?"

Tayuya bristled, ready to pummel the blond, but Jiraiya intervened, "No, she can't walk, Naruto. When I found her, half the forest had been leveled, Sabaku no Temari's work, I'd guess, and she was lying underneath a pretty big pile. It's a wonder she wasn't crushed from the get go, or that she hadn't bled out."

Tayuya just paled, "Way to fucking scare an injured girl, Jiisan."

Jiraiya gained a tic mark at the nickname, Why can't I ever find a kid that'd give some respect? I don't do anything to...okay, maybe I do deserve...some of it...but not all, right? "It's no less true...what's your name, anyway? I never asked."

"Does it really fucking matter?" Tayuya asked, "I'm not gonna be your friend through any of this, you know?"

"I'd like to know the name of someone I'm going to be traveling with," Jiriaya stated with a sigh and crossed his arms, "Plus, when I'm training you alongside the brat, then I'd like to know what I should carve on your tombstone."

Tombstone? Tayuya didn't like the sound of that, but it couldn't have been worse than what she'd had to go through with Orochimaru and Kabuto looking over her shoulder. "It's Tayuya, if you gotta know. Happy?"

"No," Naruto grumbled.

"Who asked you, ya blond shit-brained jackass!?" Tayuya roared, nearly tipping herself over. Naruto just grinned and waved at her to come and get him.

"Too bad, Red, you're not going anywhere for now!" Naruto laughed.

Jiraiya sighed, "Naruto, keep antagonizing her like that and I'll make you carry her all the way to Suna." Jiraiya said, making the blond Jinchuuriki pale.

"Y-you wouldn't!"

"Try me," Jiraiya grinned, having gotten the upper hand with the boy for once.

Naruto groaned and scrubbed his hands through his hair, "Nyah, if she does cause any trouble, you can bet Baa-chan's gonna hear about that fake request for mixed bathing in the onsens you had me place!"

Now it was Jiraiya's turn to go pale, "You wouldn't dare - ?!"

"Try me," Naruto mimicked, smiling a foxy grin. Tayuya was snickering away at the two of them. Not even Kidomaru made me laugh this much, she thought as a stray giggle slipped past her. Naruto looked at her with his grin still plastered on his face, which only widened as the girl laughed again.

She has a cute laugh, he thought for a moment, causing the Kyuubi to lift his head in interest since the blond was showing a slight interest in a vixen other than his teammate. Through Naruto's eyes, he saw the girl sitting in front of them. For a ningen, she was pleasing to look at. Her skin shade lighter than Naruto, and her hair, which was slightly down her back, was red. Not like his previous vessels, this was a bit lighter than that. More like a dull red that had been mixed with pink, or orange. And though she was obviously a hardened kunoichi that had killed more than once, as he could smell the faint traces of blood from others on her, her eyes were a warm brown that made him think of Mito's favorite treat; chocolate.

She's certainly better than that bubblegum banshee he used to hang around with,the Kyuubi thought snidely, again resting his head on his paws. He would make a note to question his container about her later...or tease him. Which ever he felt like. But, fortunately or unfortunately for the blond, that would come later as the Kyuubi needed to focus on Naruto's injuries. He would be done soon.


As the evening wore on, Naruto seemed to gain some mobility back as the Kyuubi healed the worst of his injuries, and by that time he had gotten used to Tayuya being around. As it turned out, the kunoichi was fairly sheltered about life outside Orochimaru's clutches. When Jiraiya dished out supper that evening, instant meals that only needed hot water, ramen in Naruto's case, she was surprised at how much of it there was. Normally a meal to her was a soldier pill, or a few grains of rice. She had been conditioned to live off the bare minimum of nutrients, and keep her body strong without much food.

"Not while I'm around," Jiraiya pointed out, "I don't let my students work on an empty tank. But speaking of dietary needs, Naruto, you need to start eating other things besides ramen."

"What?" Naruto asked through a mouthful of noodles, "But why?"

Jiraiya palmed himself in the face, "To get you to grow! Haven't you ever wondered why you're such a runt? It's because you don't eat right!"

Naruto huffed and slurped the rest of his ramen down, "Yeah, well you try getting food when the stores throw you out every time you try to go shopping. I only managed to get cup ramen from them because I'd transform into someone else, or have Hokage-jij or Kakashi-sensei with me."

Jiraiya supressed an angry growl at this. Hadn't the Hokage tried to do anything about Naruto's treatment in the village? Kami only knew what would happen once he found out who his parents were...and who he was, too. Jiraiya was not looking forward to that...not at all.

Tayuya was too busy slurping down her own dinner to listen to them. It was way better than soldier pills, that was certain!

Naruto gabbed another cup and poured some water into it, "So, where are we going?"

Jiraiya just shrugged, "For now? I just want to gauge your abilities. So we'll stay in the next town we come across for a short time. Then, when Tayuya's better suited for travel, we'll head towards Kiri to resupply. By then, you two should be at one hundred percent, and I'll check out your chakra natures."

"Chakra natures?" Tayuya and Naruto mumbled/asked as one had a mouthful of food.

"Yes," Jiraiya nodded, "It's what tells you what element you're best suited for." He explained, "For example, Sasuke's primary element is Raiton, and his secondary element is Katon. That's not uncommon for Uchiha clansmen to have, but the Raiton is slightly rarer. I think I've only ever seen Kakashi use the Raiton in our village."

Tayuya shrugged, "Not like it fucking matters. I'm a Genjutsu type. Combat's not really my thing."

"Not for long," Jiraiya grinned, making the girl shiver, "See, while I'm training you, I'm basically starting from the beginning with Naruto, so making both of you fighters will be like killing two birds with one stone."

Naruto gave him a deadpan look, "You're...not gonna throw me off another cliff...are you?"

"CLIFF?!" Tayuya spat, "What the fuck are you talking about?! I'm not going over any goddamned cliff for training!"

Jiraiya no answer, making the two teens nervous.

"Um...Per-i'm mean, Jiraiya-sensei?" Naruto said, shivering, "You're not gonna do that again...right?"

"Y-y-yeah, besides, I'm a girl! You're not supposed to treat girls like that!" Tayuya stammered.

Again, he kept quiet, but silently he was braying with laughter on the inside. Torturing - Trainging these two would be very amusing for the Gama Sennin. Very amusing indeed. "We'll just have to wait and see," Jiraiya finally said, giving a pointed looked to Naruto, "It all depends...on how much you respect your sensei!"

"Hai, sensei!" Naruto yelped, snapping a salute. He never wanted to go through that again.

Tayuya just nodded, making a mental note to...try and keep her temper down. While it wasn't as bad as being a guinea pig, she had no desire whatsoever to be thrown off a cliff. "So...what are you gonna teach me?" Tayuya asked, "Most I've ever done is use my Doki to smash my opponents into dust. Or slit someone's throat while I have them under a Genjutsu."

Jiraiya scratched the back of his head, "Well, Naruto asked me to teach him everything, so to be fair, I'll try to do the same for you. Though I doubt you'd be able to sign the Toad contract, perhaps we can find you a suitable summoning contract somewhere." He said, grasping at straws for a moment, "Maybe I can get you some scrolls on medical ninjutsu -"

"No fucking thanks," Tayuya said, "I've been around nothing but med-nins, and they make me fucking sick. The things they can do? I'd rather be a combat fighter than a healer."

"Suit yourself," the old man shrugged, "so it's strength training and Ninjutsu for both of you."

Naruto had started on his fourth cup by now, "Sounds great to me. I'll need something good to kick that Hebi, and Teme's ass."

"You'll need a coffin if you keep that attitude," Jiraiya said, "Orochimaru's a Sannin like me, and I know for a fact that you can't lay a finger on me. You think a new jutsu is gonna be enough?"

Tayuya nodded to this, "Too fucking right. I've seen that fucker get out of some bad scrapes, and come out on top that would take most Jonin down in a heartbeat." She said, "And if that Uchiha's gonna be with him, then you can bet your ass that he's gonna make him just as strong as he is, if not stronger so he can use his body in a couple more years."

Naruto growled and looked down at the ground, "That's not gonna happen. I swore I'd bring him back, and I never make a promise." He said, thinking about their last confrontation, "Besides, Sasuke's not the type to let someone use him like that...he's more likely to use Orochimaru instead, then he'll run as soon as he's gotten what he wanted from him."

=Unknown Location=

Sasuke Uchiha stumbled into the halls of the base, weak after the long trek. The dark halls were lit by candles along the wall, illuminating the smiling figure waiting for him. "My, my, Sasuke-kun, so good of you to come." Orochimaru smiled.

Sasuke's Sharingan flared, revealing the fully matured three tomoe, "You promised me power..." Sasuke said evenly, "You will teach me everything you know. Then I'll kill him. My brother will die by my hands."

Orochimaru laughed lightly, "Quite a goal you have, Sasuke-kun. Very well. You will know all that I know. But whether you can kill Itachi-kun, or not remains to be seen."

This is the first chapter of the re-write. Hopefully this story turns out better than the original, and I hope you can enjoy it just as much as you enjoyed the first. Until next time. Read, enjoy, review!

AN: Not a harem FIC.