Chapter 1: The triumphant entry of the Toad Sage and Gaki.
Disclaimer: Naruto and all associated creations are not my intellectual property. This work was written in homage.
The guards at the west gate watched as two hulking shapes bounded towards the village hidden in the leaves. Night had long since fallen and they were bored and on edge in the gloom. Through the darkness and their frosted chattering teeth they could barely see the figures loping forwards at a steady clip, so their hearts picked up the pace as adrenaline struck.
"Should I sound the alarm?" The younger, and far less experienced man inquired with squealing voice and wide eyes even though a serious part of him doubted that any enemy would dare attack Konoha in such a brazen manner.
His companion looked worried at first as he peered out, but then he soon relaxed.
"Oh yeah you're new to this post," the older Chunnin covered up his initial fear with a chuckle, "Who did you piss off to get the walls? Anyway it's alright lad. It's the Toad Sage. I hear that awful stomping at least twice a year, and always around this time too." The man spat casually over the wall and frowned a bit.
"This time there are two of them though," the younger man pointed out.
"Aye you have the right of it," the experienced gate guard said. That was why he had suddenly frowned.
"Seems like the sage has got himself an apprentice," the grizzled Chunnin said finally. He was a bit slow... for a Shinobi, but he still had his small moments of clarity.
The toads had reached the wall. Immediately both men recognized Jiraiya, he was after all something of a celebrity, and no one else had such a mane of thick white hair, but they had no idea who the young blond by his side was. The boy was riding a blue toad with orange markings about three quarters the size of the Sannin's red and blue mount, and he was dressed plainly in black fatigues and light armor. He kept his vivid golden locks tied up in a manner similar to the toad sage. He seemed to be deep in familiar conversation with the older man.
"So Gaki... This is Konoha," Jiraiya said.
"I can see that," Naruto replied nonchalantly. A mist had followed them from the road almost to the walls. He wondered what the place would look in the day time. As it was he was badly in need of a rest.
"I think I'm gonna pass out old man. Kami's sake now that we're here can we rest," Naruto said – continuing to mutter under his breath, "Damn son of a bitch, punni loving Sannin, dragging my ass around the Kami damned world like hot shit on a useless trip..."
"The life of a Shinobi is too short for childishness Gaki, and we've been away for long enough. It's time you knew your roots. Time you knew where the hell you came from," Jiraiya said although he smiled at the string of curses.
"Where the hell I came from?" Naruto grinned, "You don't sound very enthusiastic yourself old man."
"Konoha to me is like my favorite prostitute. I can't get enough of her but her pussy got old a long time ago," Jiraiya smiled whilst Naruto covered his face with both hands.
"Kami I can't believe they actually let you raise me," the young blonde nin said through his scrunched knuckles.
Whilst they had been talking and waiting one of the guards had jumped down from the wall. They had ignored his eyes growing wide and confused at the direction of their conversation. Wordlessly and gratefully the man took a cursory look at their papers before saying:
"I'm instructed to remind you of ordinance 234 banning your summoned creature's within the city boundaries... welcome back lord sage."
The masked nin saluted at Jiraiya and gave Naruto one last glance. He leaped up and away – his chakra infused feet finding purchase on the slick wall and sending him over in and instant. Another instant after that the gates started to creak open, so they de-summoned their toads and calmly entered the city.
"OK great teacher two things... Firstly I've never understood this insistence on owing loyalty to a specific hidden village. It seems limiting to me. Secondly why the hell do Shinobi build walls if we can scale them so easily?"
"Do you have any easier questions we could start with?" Jiraiya asked and smiled when he saw Naruto's flinty expression.
"Fine," he sighed, "Alright kid firstly you have to understand that having a base of operations one owes loyalty to is perhaps the most important thing for ninja...
"Especially for us to survive. The powers we have come with a price, and like it or not we are outnumbered fifty to one by people without those powers. We realized long ago that if we didn't willingly bind ourselves then the world would do it for us. They would imprison us and overwhelm the dissidents, so we did the binding and we called it a 'Hidden Village'," Jiraiya said. "Trust me the life of a missing-nin is not what it's cracked up to be in the fairy-tales."
They were well into Konoha, and Naruto was content to follow Jiraiya's lead. Although it was night-time the city was well lit with gas lamps and there was a throng outdoors. Many people were just sitting around meat-fires eating the roasted produce, laughing, and drinking amongst themselves. Elsewhere others were in taverns and there were a few street performers fishing for drunken coins. Jugglers and illusionists with weak chakra mainly. The throng put paid to their conversation for the moment until they impatiently found a dark alley which they used to gain unobtrusive access to the rooftops.
Even here there was traffic as the occasional muted shadow heralded a fellow Shinobi away on his or her business, but at least it was quiet. Jiraiya wryly noted the palatable relief that overcame his apprentice. The boy could be boisterous, but he had a bit of a shy streak and his mentor had mostly kept him out of cities and crowded areas.
"I get what you're saying old man," Naruto tenderly picked up their previous conversation. "I can see how a very large group of normal people scared of a small group of highly capable people necessitates the need for some checks and balances... but you didn't answer my other question."
"What other question?"
"Why the hell do Shinobi build walls," Naruto said, slightly exasperated, "Surely there are better defenses considering our talents?"
"Oh... I could tell you, but it's a state secret," Jiraiya said, smiling as he casually brushed aside the vicious swipe his apprentice lanced at his gut. He caught the impudent boy's wrist and twisted hard bringing tears, and a hiss through strained teeth out of the Naruto's lips.
"Gaki... why is the sucker punch always your go to option?" Jiraiya shook his head and applied more pressure making Naruto yelp, "You're still too young to get the drop on me kid," he said.
Naruto managed to bark out a laugh though Jiraiya still held him in an awkward position. "Getting closer everyday, you're getting older every day," he chorused out in a pant, "Seriously though fuck state secrets... why do we build walls," he asked. "I really, really want to know," he said. The boy had always been inquisitive by nature, so finally his mentor relented – releasing the pressure on his wrist as he spoke.
"To put it simply only native ninja can stick on the walls like that... I really can't tell you more though."
"How come?" Naruto asked.
Jiraiya smiled again. By now they had resumed their pace and were almost at the Hokage tower. They could both see the dull red slats of it's roof, and they would soon have to descend to walking height to avoid raising the ire of the ANBU squads that patrolled the area.
"Because it's one of those really simple secrets. The type that you gotta limit access to or you're screwed. Now shut up. We have to get off the roofs. The last ANBU captain that passed us was giving you the eyes. They know who I am but you? You're a nobody kid," Jiraiya started chuckling.
"Whatever," Naruto couldn't think of a retort as he followed his master. "I'm still prettier than you," he said finally, but it seemed Jiraiya no longer had time for his apprentice.
His mentor marched up to the guard out front ignoring Naruto's' last comment "I have important business with the Hokage," he said.
"Y-y-yes sir" the Chunnin outside stuttered, obviously discomfited at having to address such a powerful Shinobi, "B- b- but I'm sorry sir. The Hokage is currently in a meet -"
"Listen grunt. I'm the reason for that meeting... or rather we are," Jiraiya glanced back at Naruto and beckoned him forward. The lad idled over next to him.
"So go upstairs and get his aide or whatever, but the two of us are going to be walking right behind you," Jiraiya said as he started walking forward with Naruto in tow.
The minor official was forced backwards by the sheer presence of the Sannin and was quickly scrabbling the doors to the inner sanctum open.
"Yes sir, right this way please," the Chunnin squealed. His prior stammer was lost to terror.
They followed the man up the winding staircase to the Hokage's office which had several guards posted outside, and they passed through the oak doors despite further futile protests from said guard. Opening a final set of doors leading out of the ante-room they came face to face with the venerable Hokage of the leaf, Sarutobi Sensei... and a room full of what must have been the most high ranked and influential citizens in Konoha...
Naruto blanched at this final juncture and lurked just outside the doors. He was only a kid after all, and he was still easily intimidated by power and authority. Jiraiya on the other hand continued to surge forward ignoring the looks of indignation and protest on the council members' faces, and within seconds he had enveloped his former master in a bear hug.
"Sensei," Jiraiya finally released Sarutobi and addressed him formally – bowing deeply as he did so, but completely ignoring everyone else in the room.
"We have returned," Jiraiya glanced back noticing for the first time that his charge was missing. "Naruto? What are you doing there. Come here brat," he ordered.
Naruto slouched forward, and unseen Chunnin hands shut the doors firmly behind him. All eyes in the room seemed to be on the young blonde, and most of them were not friendly. Everyone present knew what he was and who he housed. The feeling made Naruto uncomfortable.
Sarutobi's eyes were not like theirs however. They held nothing but warmth as the boy approached and he too closed the gap.
"Naruto-kun you were but a child when last I saw you," the leader of the hidden village said with a smile as the young blonde bowed a deeper bow than that his former student had offered.
Naruto smiled slightly as he remained prostrated. He had vague fond memories of the old man. Finally he straightened and met the third's wizened eyes.
"Thank you for the welcome Hokage-sama. Konoha feels like it should feel like home," he said.
The Hokage smiled wryly. "Seems like some of your famous honesty rubbed off Jiraiya," he said, turning back to the toad sage, "although the boy is slightly more diplomatic than you were at the same age..."
Jiraiya chortled and the Hokage gave Naruto his attention once more. "Come Naruto... go with this gentleman, and we will get you settled in Jiraiya's place. Jiraiya I'm assuming you have a spare key?" The Hokage indicated an ANBU member who had silently appeared at Naruto's side – startling him - while Jiraiya after a little searching tossed a key in his general direction. Naruto almost missed, but he managed to snatch it out of the air.
"Now I'm sure you are hungry from your journey. Get some dinner before you go to the house, the Genin entrance exams are tomorrow at eight so don't be late," Jiraiya said.
"Genin exams?" Naruto asked suddenly excited again. "Cool. I thought I was gonna have to attend the academy for at least a couple of months," he said.
"Cool it container." The deep and gruff voice came from the shadows in the room's recesses. Naruto was sure that the bark belonged to one of the assembled council members. One who couldn't, or didn't care to disguise his hostility.
The Hokage's face and posture grew stern at the interruption but he did not call out the individual. Naruto was reminded once more how small he was in the grand scheme of things. Small... but undeniably precious given the dangerous power he was custodian of.
"We will treat you as a prospective Shinobi from an affiliate village..." the Hokage finally said. "There will be an evaluation," this last seemed aimed at the gathered council members.
"Thank you Hokage-sama," Naruto said, bowing again, "I won't disappoint you."
"You better not," Jiraiya snorted, "It wouldn't reflect well on me... I'll see you at home kid.
Naruto nodded and exited in the company of the ANBU member who had been summoned by the Hokage earlier.
His exit leading to an almost involuntary sigh of relief amongst some members of the council, and Jiraiya tensed slightly at that. He had hoped that in his absence some of the harsh feelings harbored by the council members towards his protege would have lessened, but everything he had seen since he had arrived put the lie to that.
A part of him whispered that his own belligerent attitude and frequent AWOL's contributed to that, but he squashed it ruthlessly.
"Jiraiya... I assembled the council once you were spotted at the gates. Your report please. Time is short and I am sure many of our esteemed members would like to get back to their beds. I along with them."
As always his sensei's voice had the power to grab his attention instantly, so sizing up the slightly crowded room Jiraiya obeyed and began to speak to a slow measured cadence.
"I'll get to the meat of the issue as it is obvious that most of you are worried about the state of the seal imprisoning the Kyuubi within the child. Rest assured that it has neither been broken, nor has it been weakened."
The room let out its tension with an audible hiss almost like a steam cooker seeking release. Various council members, and indeed the Hokage himself let out sighs of relief whilst even the worst enemies in the council flashed smiles at each other. Though there were a few on the council that did not see Naruto as a Demon the beast inside him was still a potential security risk.
"Shortly after we left Konoha I thoroughly investigated the seal the fourth gave him. It was designed to act as a sort of filter for the Demon's youkai, but there is one important side effect the fourth didn't have time to take into account. When Naruto goes under enough emotional stress the Demon's chakra -"
"Takes over?" Danzo interrupted. Jiraiya spotted him now edging forward and out of the shadows that cloaked him. "We can't have Kyuubi no Kitsune controlling the boy."
Although 'nominally' he was banned from the highest board in Konoha the nine-tails was too potent a weapon. Keeping it from his gaze could kick start civil war in the Leaf, so the Hokage accepted his interjection, and pointedly waved at Jiraiya to continue.
"The damned fox's consciousness is sealed up tight in my student,"Jiraiya ground out. "Naruto is in full control." He paused aggressively as if daring any of them to contradict him before continuing.
"It's Chakras become active yes," he admitted, "and Naruto can make use of them, but like all kinjutsu using the nine-tails' power is a double-edged sword. His body has become accustomed since birth, but he can only take so much. Beyond a certain level the youkai breaks down and reforms his cells too rapidly. if I had allowed it to continue he wouldn't have lived to see his thirtieth," Jiraiya concluded.
"I'm assuming you resolved this issue?" Chiasa Amaya asked. A seal expert second to few she was one of the few council members who did not view Naruto as an incarnation of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. Probably because she had helped the fourth develop the seal which kept it locked up in the boy.
"Yes I did," Jiraiya's voice had a hint of satisfaction in it, and he relaxed a bit. Whether they liked it or not the rest of them relaxed along with him. The stark reality was that he was probably the most effective killer in the room - Sarutobi and Danzo-sama inclusive.
"I added a four point overlay which…" Jiraiya and Chiasa delved into technical jargon as the rest looked on in bewilderment. Even the famous professor could barely keep up.
Finally after five minutes of Sealingese Amaya nodded curtly, "It will suffice."
"Now that you two have finished your private chat care to explain to us lesser mortals?" Koharu Utatane was never one to wait patiently while others conversed around her.
"Ah ha ha ha gomen I got carried away," Jiraiya faked not sounding apologetic in the slightest. Koharu was one of those who had a low opinion of Naruto.
"Basically the seal further limits the amount of the Kyuubi's chakra Naruto will be able to use. Once the Chakras build up to concentrations harmful to Naruto-kun himself the seal will shut down the flow of his chakra," he concluded. "Any questions?"
It was a question he shouldn't have asked as what followed was a veritable bombardment. A painfully long and boring Q & A that would later be painstakingly typed up by two lowly Chunnin assigned to 'paper work.'
Finally everyone was satisfied and Sarutobi was able to dismiss the conclave. He codedly signaled Jiraiya to stay behind. A short while after the last of them filed out Sarutobi motioned the Sannin to take a seat across from him, and promptly refilled his pipe.
"Kami I thought that would never end," Jiraiya said as he stretched luxuriously.
"Tell me about it," Sarutobi muttered his agreement. Clouds of smoke were already swirling to peak his wide brimmed hat of office. "I spent two hours wrangling with them over new trade agreements with the wind country before you arrived."
Jiraiya chuckled. "I thought you summoned them for my benefit?"
"Ha! My man you are very important but I'm running a state here."
"The fire lord runs the state," Jiraiya said diplomatically knowing where this old argument was going to lead.
"And I run it's military. You're point being?" the Hokage grinned before sobering up. "I'm getting old Jiraiya-kun," he said. "It's time for you to -"
"Not yet," Jiraiya said firmly ignoring the sharp look the Hokage sent his way. "I know one day I may have to, but you're still strong old man, and there is the boy to consider."
"The boy," the Hokage whispered. He stood up and shuffled smoothly over to a side bar where he proceeded to pour out two dishes of premium sake.
"Tell me about the boy," Sarutobi said. It came out almost as a command despite their familiarity. Old habits tended to die hard deaths after all.
"After we left the village we settled for three years in a nondescript village about thirty miles from Konoha. I wrote the last two editions of Icha Icha Violence there. Loved their research material. After that we started traveling further afield mostly moving in the smaller nations. I started training him during our journey."
"Is he Genin level?" Sarutobi offered Jiraiya one dish whilst keeping the other. Jiraiya downed his and stood up to go in search of more whilst the Hokage sipped gingerly. "I can't let him take the exam tomorrow if he can't cope with the standards here.
"Genin grade?" Jiraiya snorted as he poured himself another shot. "You insult me – argh!-" he gargled as a bit of the liquid went down the wrong pipe before shaking his head ruefully grimacing. "I forgot you keep the good stuff... anyway I would say low Chunnin would be more accurate," a small smile of satisfaction graced his lips.
"Low Chunnin? In only five years?" Sarutobi was incredulous, almost letting his still lit pipe slip from between his fingers.
"Well it's not like we had our thumbs up our asses while we were only a little ways away. I grounded him in the basics, and I began teaching him the first tier of tiger-crane style early," Jiraiya said.
"Tiger-crane, interesting has he mastered the first tier yet? The style is said to be very difficult."
"No but he is close I think we could move on to the next tier within a couple of weeks."
"And as for Jutsu?" Sarutobi asked. There was almost nothing he loved more than watching the next generation grow.
"He knows Kuchiyose no Jutsu, Hari Jizō, Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, Kwarami and Henge, I've also begun teaching him the rasengan, but he is still on the second stage. His Chakra is not developed enough for him to get the necessary power behind bursting the rubber."
Sarutobi chuckled. "That's not an easy Jutsu to learn. Hopefully he doesn't need the firepower just yet," he said.
But the mood grew slightly dark after the Hokage's statement despite his earlier mirth. Hopefully Naruto would not meet an enemy against which he would need such close range attack power just yet, but the grip any Shinobi held on life was a brief and tenuous one always governed by self afflicted forays into danger.
"Kuchiyose?" Sarutobi broke the somber mood. "You gave him the frog contract? I can't imagine that pompous ass Gamabunta letting a Gaki sit on his head," he said to uproarious laughter from his companion.
"Ha! You're still holding a grudge against Gama for that time he-"
"We shall not speak of it," the Hokage said stonily, and his student began to laugh harder. It took Jiraiya quite a while to wipe his eyes and continue.
"No he can't summon the big man himself, but Gamabunta gave him permission to use some of the lower level summons. Something about the demon's chakra makes it so that the brat can really hold his drink, so he managed to back that old toad into a corner."
"I would have liked to see that," the Hokage smiled, and they sat in amicable silence.
Naruto seems to have come far, it would be interesting to see how well he would do on a team with those two..." The old ninja master watched as his old student grew bored and headed over to the open balcony where he proceeded to pull out a telescope. Chuckling to himself Sarutobi brought out his own perverted device... a divination orb and joined his former pupil in their favorite hobby.
Meanwhile Naruto was staring in disbelief at Jiraiya's mansion. (paid for of course by the famously perverted and successful Icha Icha series.) During his time traveling with the sage they had lived in sparse accommodation, and occasionally they had camped out in the freezing cold rather than spare the expense of lodgings. Jiraiya had referred to this as 'training' and 'character building' but the term Naruto reserved for it was 'scrimping like a pair of impoverished beggars.'
It was unthinkable that that miserly goat actually had a dime to his name. Talk less of something like this in Konoha, but shaking his head in grudging respect Naruto thanked the ANBU attache and walked up the stairs into the house. His stop at a place called Ichiraku ramen had been filling, and now all he needed was rest for tomorrow.
The next day he woke up a little disorientated forgetting his whereabouts. Groaning he got up and headed to the bathroom attached to his room. After his morning absolution Naruto dressed and set out intent on exploring the mansion and grounds before heading out for the Genin exams. He never knew where Jiraiya would set a trap or ambush for him in the name of 'training' so he had to familiarize himself with his surroundings to safe guard against the machinations of that sadist.
Currently he was in the east wing - a goodly distance from Jiraiya's central master's wing. (Just as he intended on avoiding traps such as spike swings and pit falls he had no intention of listening to Jiraiya's nocturnal activities while he was trying to sleep.)
The east wing, while by no means as large as the central wing was a house onto itself. The whole ground floor comprised of a dojo and courtyard, while the level above had his room two guest rooms and a kitchen. Food had been magically prepared by some unseen servant. The thought of how he had suffered whilst Jiraiya was lord of all this wealth made him want to puke – although he found it hard to bear ill will against his teacher for long periods of time.
He ate quickly, and then Naruto went to find Jiraiya. The man was in his room and fortunately alone. After 10 minutes of trying to get him to wake up Jiraiya gained lucidity long enough to grip his temple complaining about his sake induced headache and the thrice damned Hokage before he mumbled directions to the academy and rolled over to snore.
He was fast asleep in less time than it took a fly to shit – although Naruto knew that if danger presented itself his master would be at the ready in even less time. Shaking his head in mild irritation he departed.
Heading out of the Mansion he noticed the back garden for the first time. It wasn't really a garden. More like a fairly large training area ranging from a mini forest to Kunai practice stumps and Taijutsu aids.
Spread out in front of the manse was a beautifully cared for garden with pathways and large flower beds. Naruto made sure to stick to the pathways. Ruining the plants seemed like it would be a crime beyond forgiveness. As he reached the gate he noticed an old man tending one of the flowerbeds, but the guy was out of easy talking distance. He wanted to compliment him on his work, but he was running late.
Leaping over the gate instead of opening it he landed lightly on his feet. His passage disturbed a few pigeons who had been standing sentry on the gate's spires and they flapped angrily at him.
Ignoring them Naruto followed Jiraiya's instructions heading for the Hokage tower. Once there he took a left and then a right which he followed for several hundred meters before coming to stop in front of the ninja academy entrance.
There wasn't really anyone blocking the way so he just ambled in. He passed a few of the younger classes in session and stopped someone who looked like an instructor to ask for the graduating class. After hearing him out the woman led him there herself, but she abandoned him at the door claiming she had a group of kids of her own to attend to. Steeling himself Naruto knocked and then turned the handle.
Iruka paused as someone knocked on, and then opened the door. The whole class was focused on this interruption. Much more focused on it than they had been on him a second ago. Iruka sighed knowing that he had lost the boisterous group for fifteen minutes at the very least. Kiba had already started making eyes at Akamaru who was in the sin bin. The teacher looked over irritated.
The interruption had on black Shinobi accoutrements, and was armed with a Kunai holster strapped to each thigh. He wore armor too in the form of metal knee pads and bracers. The boy, for the interruption was a boy, had very little baby fat and a strong defined jaw.
The analyst in Iruka noted that he stood at about 5'2 and had a shock of yellow hair that was simply feral, yet loosely bound to hang down his back with orange and black cord. He had piercings in his ears, and eyes that were a deep aqua blue. A gentle blue that was sharply alert.
The boy came up to him and delivered a missive. Glancing at it Iruka saw the seal of the Hokage's office approving the boy's enrollment in the surprise Genin exam that the class did not know he was about to spring on them. Credentials stating one 'Uzumaki Naruto' had been personally trained by, and was the ward of Jiraiya-sama himself; toad sage of Konoha.
Iruka was stunned. He didn't quite know what to say and he appraised the boy again. "Please... find a seat Uzumaki-san," Iruka turned back to what he knew. Controlling a class he knew.
"SETTLE THE FUCK DOWN YOU DIMWITS! KIBA! AKAMARU! BOTH OF YOU IN THE SIN BIN NOW!" a gale of wind seemed to follow his voice and it swept the class subduing it into the silence of the void.
"Good... now... As I was about to say... Class meet Naruto. He is your new but temporary classmate for as I forgot to tell you today is your Genin exam. Unlike the rest of you he has been trained by someone much more capable than I. So I doubt he would have to suffer the presence of over half your number. Please... make him feel welcome for your short stay together," Iruka said.
Naruto felt himself grow smaller and shuddered as Iruka went on. Why was it that adults always knew the wrong thing to say? Shinobi in particular were a sadistic breed.
Already he noticed that the whispering in the class grew louder, but now it was centered on him. Whoop di doo a new rival. Naruto snorted.
The glares were universal but two were particularly noteworthy. These would belong to the class geniuses. Strategically Naruto tried to decide where to sit.
To his left he saw a dark haired boy in a blue shirt and white shorts. The boy was staring at him as if sizing up a potential opponent. Turning away uncomfortably he spotted the other person gazing at him - this one a girl. She was also dark haired and had pale lavender eyes.
She wore tight shorts and an equally tight strapped tank top in a deep purple hue. He would have found her quite attractive if not for the death glare she was currently directing his way.
The teacher was still droning. Naruto heard him say that the test was to construct a simple Bunshin. He snorted slightly and picked a seat at random. All the death glares were for nothing if that was the level required for recognized Genin in Konoha.
Naruto settled down to wait - ignoring everyone else while students went into the next room to take the test. They all came back with their forehead protectors, and eventually Naruto understood that the easy test was a prelude for something else.
"Hyuuga Hinata" he heard the teacher call out. The dark haired girl stood up and sauntered briskly to the testing room.
So that is her name.
He watched as the girl who had glared at him so ferociously walked down the class to the next room. After a slight delay she came back apparently successful. Naruto grew bored as he waited for his turn.
When Iruka got to the letter U Sasuke, the boy with the glare and shorts, went first, and after he came out it was finally Naruto's turn.
Naruto walked into the room slightly nervous. For the first time he considered the consequences if they didn't allow him to replicate the effects of Bunshin with Kage Bunshin, but then he shrugged to himself. They would be fools to be so pedantic.
The teacher and another man he hadn't met were seated patiently and waiting for him in another room.
"OK Naruto all you have to do is create three Bunshin" Iruka was smiling slightly convinced that any student transferred by the Hokage himself would be able to complete this simple task.
"Sorry, but I can't," Naruto smiled slightly and scratched the back of his head.
Iruka couldn't have heard correctly. He began to shake his head in denial. At moments like this always fall back on politeness. It was safer than scorn.
"I beg your pardon Naruto? I had assumed that if the Hokage himself authorized your transfer that you would be able to perform such a simple task..." Iruka trailed off.
The other examiner snorted rudely.
"Really the Toad Sage may be powerful in his own right and what not, but it says here that this is his personal student," Mizuki, Naruto now spotted his name on a convenient name tag was perusing his credentials.
The man twisted his face into mockery. "Seems like the famous Toad Sage spends more time drinking and whoring than he does training his brat? What are you brat? His illegitimate son? What kind of Shinobi can't perform the most basic of Jutsu. Pathetic."
"Kage bunshin no jutsu," Naruto mutteredunder his breath.
Iruka watched in shock as six clones materialized in the exact slouched posture as the original, but they all surrounded Mizuki. They pointed at the assistant teacher in unison and intoned with one voice, "We want a different test. We want him. Now."
Iruka was impressed. No wonder this kid was transferred in at such short notice, and no wonder he had been trained by who he had been trained by. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that Sasuke had hung back by the doorway to take in proceedings and he smiled to himself. A kick up the ass could only ever be good for his resident genius. Mizuki meanwhile looked like he was about to shit himself. Iruka decided to diffuse the situation.
"Now now Naruto please accept Mizuki's sincere apologies for his malicious words. He will be punished properly for his actions. Right Mizuki?"
"R- Right," Mizuki managed to nod out. Naruto held his threatening/non-threatening stance for a moment longer before dispelling the jutsu. For the first time he seemed to notice Sasuke skulking around and spying. He shared a small smile with himself.
Iruka lowered his hands from the unconscious placating gestures he had assumed and reached for the last forehead protector on the desk. He passed it over, and the boy accepted it nodding his thanks and meeting the teacher's eyes before he left respectfully. Naruto ignored Sasuke on his way out, and Sasuke tried to pretend he hadn't seen everything.
The next day Naruto woke up drowsy once again. Events after the Genin exam had been uneventful to say the least. He had gotten his ninja registration card and headed back home where he trained his rasengan for a couple hours. He had reached the point where the rubber ball really started to stretch and bubble, but his Chakras were still not dense and strong enough to achieve the desired effect, and he could not burst the ball.
Padding over to his bathroom with the lithe grace of a predator he started to brush his teeth reflecting on the people he had met yesterday. The dark haired pair had seemed to be the strongest in the class based on the way their peers treated them. Naruto stepped into the shower. After he had dressed he headed over to Jiraiya's dining room to have breakfast with the old man. They had company it seemed. Jiraiya sat flanked by two… disreputable looking women. Glad he had chosen a room far from Jiraiya's Naruto sat down to breakfast.
The two ladies were shocked that someone as coarse as Jiraiya could have raised a kid as… charming as Naruto. Naruto didn't realize it, but he had unconsciously modeled his behavior towards the opposite sex as the mirror opposite of Jiraiya's. Charmed by his wit the ladies found themselves wishing he was five years older, yet it was not to be and they had to settle for fond farewells while looking forward to a decadent afternoon with Konoha's resident number one pervert.
After breakfast Naruto managed to extract a promise of later training from Jiraiya before he headed out to the academy. Passing by the front garden he noticed the same old man again weeding a flower bed this time a little closer by.
"Ohayo ojiisan" Naruto called out. He was still reasonably early for the team selection process, and he was curious about the man. It seemed he had full control over part of the Mansion grounds, and his own cottage. After a long period where it seemed like he was trying to ignore Naruto although he had clearly heard him the man looked up squinting. He bore a slight frown on his face.
"What do you want?"
"Oh... Nothing," Naruto grew slightly offended, and whenever he was offended he bashed Jiraiya. "I'm just Ero-Sennin's student, and we just moved back two days ago. I've been seeing you around. What type of flowers are those?" he asked.
The man's face softened slightly when he heard Naruto's nickname for his employer and he couldn't help but smile slightly.
After a few minutes of discussion the old man warmed up even more towards Naruto. Apparently all the plants in the garden were hybrids of other natural occurring flowers elsewhere.
"How did you manage to create them though?"
"State secret," the man had a slight smile on his face.
"Yeah tell me about those," Naruto grinned. "All of sensei's friends have them. See you around?"
The gardener nodded and turned back to his work. Naruto leaped the fence as was becoming his habit. Once again the pigeons were not amused. Belatedly he discovered that he had forgotten to ask the old man his name. He headed for academy and back to the now familiar class. Today strangely he felt a certain excitement and pumping energy. He never really got the chance to spend much time with people his own age and secretly he wanted to socialize.
Naruto entered the class and found people in more or less the same seats. Sasuke – he remembered from yesterday – offered a smirk. The other striking girl – Hinata - seemed to stare straight through him. Following a whim he decided to dance with the devil. He went to sit next to her.
The class was shocked into silence as he violated the four seat perimeter that guarded her. Naruto knew that it was not in place because she was a pariah. He had already noted that most of the other young men and women looked at her with admiration, longing, or desire. Rather it was a barrier she had erected herself. Her own fiefdom that even Sasuke seemed loathe to violate, and he had just wittingly broken it. He attempted to start a conversation.
"Hi... Your name is Hinata-san right? Hi. I'm Uzumaki Naruto. I guess I'm new in town. Ha. Ha," his smile slipped slightly at her lack of any type of reaction. He had thought he was braced for the worst.
Finally after an uncomfortable 10 minutes of silence she turned towards him slightly "Who are you again? Why are you next to me? Please go before I remove you. I do not know of any Uzumaki clan." her tone was frigid though her voice itself was quite pleasant on the ears. He was taken aback, and more stung than he cared to show.
"I'm the first Uzumaki I guess," he stuttered.
She turned away again no longer bothering to grace him with any of her attention.
"The Hyuuga are the royalty of Konoha. You would do well to respect your place and not associate with me," she said, and with this pompous statement she moved over to the next seat slowly. Her perimeter re-established itself as the furthest students also shifted over a seat.
The whole class had witnessed the put down. Naruto's window for retaliation was rapidly closing and his pride demanded it. He felt his anger rising as he stared at the spot where the Hyuuga had been sitting. If there was one thing he hated it was derision. Standing slowly he walked over to her new seat standing directly in front of her. The whole class watched the building confrontation with baited breath. Even Iruka who was about to enter the class paused at the threshold unnoticed.
"Hyuuga-san one question." She raised her head to look at him with those pale eyes. She seemed surprised to note that one so insignificant was still addressing her.
Naruto was smiling slightly now "I heard your clan has a bloodline. What was it again? Shitting gold from your eyes and smothering your enemies to death with snobbery?" he asked innocently.
There was a silence, then someone got it and giggled. Soon enough the whole class was roaring with laughter. Laughter at the stupid joke and the carefree deadpan plastered on Naruto's face as he delivered it.
Hinata felt her face begin to redden. Who was this boy to sully the name of the Hyuuga? Class was always rowdy before Iruka arrived and her anger took over. It had been a long time since someone had thought to fuck with her. She activated her Byakugan without thought and struck out at the boy with her palm. She would only claim a minor tenketsu... smack him on the butt and force him to limp around for an hour or two. That would teach him a lesson.
He moved faster than she had anticipated slipping to the left and jumping onto the desk. Immediately she was ready for the escalation. She was a trained warrior. She kicked her chair back and settled into stance bracing one leg against the desk as she 'stepped' up with power delivering a follow up strike. Her momentum brought her right up on to the table next to Naruto who scrabbled her blow away cleanly.
Iruka arrived just in time. He knew there was trouble once he saw Naruto block Hinata's attack and twist his body down into a defensive posture. The boy started to form a half seal and somehow Iruka knew what was coming.
Lots of them. A teacher's worst nightmare – mayhem and pandemonium. He had to stop it before someone got hurt... before things got crazy.
Mustering considerable chakra in his voice box Iruka let out the mother of all yells. The yell for which he would forever be proud.
"STOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!" he shouted. "STOP!"
All activity in the class room ceased at the sheer volume of the yell. Hinata slowly lowered her palm and Naruto released the seal. The pair eyed each other like a Basilisk confronted with a Monkey King. They could start up again at any second.
"That is enough. Naruto, Hinata-san... please sit down," Punishment was just a prescription for more chaos at times like this when the blood was running hot Iruka knew from his own time as a student. The best thing he could do was pretend the incident had never happened. They had obeyed him after all. After the class had settled back down Iruka started to read the teams. He Started with those who didn't have a high chance of making it.
Team seven: Hyuuga Hinata, Uchiha Sasuke, Uzumaki Naruto...
Iruka himself seemed to be shaken at this development. Hinata couldn't believe her bad luck. She was stuck in a Genin team with the newcomer! She risked a glance at the boy and saw him smirking at her. Her anger towards him doubled in that instant. Sasuke on the other hand experienced something akin to seventh heaven mixed with agony. He was clustered with the best Konoha had to offer... oh joy.
Team eight: Aburame Shino, Haruno Sakura, Inuzuka Kiba, The Pink haired girl looked depressed as if she had wanted to be on a team with someone else, seeing her glance at the blue shirted boy, The now calm Naruto guessed that was the target of her affections.
Team ten: Akamachi Chouji, Nara Shikamaru, Yamanaka Ino, Again the kunoichi seemed to be disappointed with her team. However from the glare she sent at the two boys on her team it didn't take a genius to know she would rule her team with an iron fist.
The list was done and so Iruka congratulated his students. He told them how proud he was of them and that he really hoped that he wouldn't see them next year. They all seemed happy and confident but some old timers couldn't hide the shame and anxiety in their eyes. Iruka knew that he would never see many of them again pass or fail. Sometimes hard work is not enough to sustain a dream.
Naruto was bored yet again. The other teachers had since come to collect their students, and team seven was the only team left grounded. The Hyuuga kept throwing baleful glances in his direction and out of sheer boredom he was thinking of picking a fight with her. This time for real. At least she would be better pickings than the Uchiha whose self confident smirk didn't hide his anxiety. Hinata had known he had been about to pop out a high level jutsu and she hadn't baulked. She had believed that she had the capability to stop him.
Naruto smiled sparing one more glance her way. Was it him or had he caught her at a moment when she was looking at him with curiosity and desire, and not pompous arrogance? Nah. It was just his imagination... he closed his eyes and began to daydream...
Someone walked into the classroom. He wore a luxurious flak jacket that only a Jounin could afford, and had spiky silver hair. His forehead protector covered his right eye.
The man walked in and did a slow circuit around the only three children left inside. All of them seemed to be asleep. "Hello?" he had to call out to them three times before they began to stir.
"Hm my first impression... I don't like you lot... Nope not at all," he said when they were awake. The blond in particular took some time to stop snoring.
"Come on let's go," he said. Disappearing in a swirl of leaves and smoke.
Later when they had found a convenient rooftop they got to meet their new team leader, and he tried to find out more about his students.
"I'm Hatake Kakashi. They call me the copycat ninja. Tell me your likes, dislikes, hobbies, and dreams for the future," Kakashi asked as he leaned against the building's chimney.
"Why don't you go first?" the blond pouted. He still seemed pissed off to have been woken up so suddenly.
"I already told you my nickname, and usually I have to kill you to tell you what it is," Kakashi said. He pointed lazily at Naruto. "Since you picked yourself..."
The kid sighed, but then put on a smile. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto. I like the ramen shop I just found in Konoha, learning new things, and coming up with new ways to use my Jutsu. I dislike my perverted sensei Jiraiya-sama and I take pleasure in finding ways to fuck up his day - just like he likes to ruin mine. I don't like people who underestimate others. I have no real hobbies and my dream is to become the world's most powerful Shinobi, so that I can retire and get a hobby... like fishing… or something."
Sasuke had found a new reason to look forward to challenging the enigma that was Naruto. Trained by a Sannin? The boy had to be powerful. Kakashi noticed that the raven haired boy was finally clocked into the group so he indicated him. "You... model boy... what about you? What do you want from this Kami forsaken life?"
"Me? My name is Uchiha Sasuke, I have no real likes dislikes or hobbies. My dream or rather my ambition is to kill a certain man."
"Kill a man? Typical Shinobi," Kakashi said while Hinata arched her eyebrow.
She had to admit that though her teammates were below her as they were non Hyuuga they seemed like they could be worthy. Sasuke was a descendant of the spin-off Uchiha clan, and Naruto had been trained by a Sannin. That redeemed him slightly in her lavender eyes.
"What about you?" Kakashi finally asked her.
"You can refer to me as Hyuuga Hinata. I do not see the need to share anything else with this group," she said. "However you all seem adequate," she added somewhat shyly.
Kakashi just nodded. He was used to dealing with the Hyuuga self proclaimed royalty of Konoha. They were always either exceedingly shy and diffident, or arrogant and assuming. It seemed this girl was both. Not surprising considering the rumors that came out of her family home.
The team was something else though and Kakashi wondered if his superiors knew what they were doing. The psychoanalysis corps would have a field day dissecting this squad... himself included. Toss an Ice Queen, an Avenger, and Konoha's resident demon container into one pot and what would you shake up?
And do you really need Konoha's most damaged Jounin to do the shaking?
"Meet me at nine o'clock tomorrow at the training ground by the monument stone. There we are going to have a test to see if you are qualified enough to be Genin. I won't lie to you... I've never passed a team before and I don't intend to go easy on you. In fact I'll probably be harsher with you then any of my previous teams because I really don't want to be saddled with any liabilities, but you all look like you'll pass if I go easy on you.
"This is to be a specialist team. The idea of tossing you guys together is experimental for various reason, so rest assured that I will be riding you hard tomorrow because frankly I don't want to be saddled with the responsibility. If you really want it you have to bring your A game... In other words be prepared to kill me," Kakashi turned as if to leave but then seemed to remember something. "Oh yeah... don't eat before coming. Trust me you'll throw up," he said.
The three students regarded the leaves symbolizing their Jounin-sensei's departure with varying degrees of unease.
Kill him? Experimental team?
Time passed and the sun actually shifted another degree or two. Finally Sasuke stood up first. He brushed off his shorts lightly as he leaped to the next roof and headed in the direction of his lonely Uchiha complex.
That left Naruto and Hinata, and they stayed together on the roof for a short while in surprisingly amicable silence, but finally after a semi-appropriate interlude, yet without a glance or good bye Hinata also stood and jumped down to the street.
She walked away in a dignified manner as if being seen to hurry was beneath her.
Sighing Naruto stared at the clouds for a few more moments before he also stood up. A wistful feeling suffused him he headed for home. He couldn't quite put a name to it.
Hinata had not been this confused in a long time though it didn't show on her face. As she walked towards the Hyuuga mansion she thought about her new team mates. Naruto was obviously powerful. Although she was yet to see him in real action the fact that he had been assigned alongside her and Sasuke spoke for itself. As did his transfer, and mini clash with her earlier in the day, but she could not help but wonder how her father would react.
Sadly as always whenever her thoughts drifted in his direction her posture changed and Hinata felt herself becoming diffident. She hunched and looked over her shoulder as if searching for a threat hating her own weakness as she did so...
Ever since that incident she had resolved to become stronger. Indeed she had become stronger, but she could never display her hard won skill fully in front of her father.
Whenever she saw him she clammed up, and she continued to lose to Hanabi though she had since surpassed her. The magnitude of her failure and self pity was such that she as surprised it had not yet drowned her in her sleep.
One day Hinata promised herself as she worked her way through the vast residence and towards her room. One day.
Sasuke slipped through the gate and entered the old complex. Whenever he saw the deserted place he invariably remembered his brother...
Walking into his house he didn't bother to turn on any lights. Darkness was the only thing that suited the place. Going into his parents' old room he lay down to embrace his nightmares. There were still blood stains on the floor.
Blissfully unaware of his teammates angst Naruto focused on trying to land a hit on Jiraiya. Considering all the while how unfair it was that a man as large as the hermit could move so fast, or with such grace. Even when he was holding back.
Naruto struck out with a clawed right hook and watched as Jiraiya casually swayed backwards dodging the powerful strike. Keeping his momentum Naruto swiveled on his right leg and brought his left up and around for a powerful roundhouse blow. Snapping his leg out with power as the hermit had taught him.
Ever calm Jiraiya simply crouched and then punched Naruto in his exposed gut hard. Exploiting the barest window of an opening like the true warrior he was, and Naruto fell to the ground wheezing. Jiraiya hit like a motherfucker.
Jiraiya examined his floored student with some interest. "You say you're on Kakashi's team?"
"Yeah that was his name," Naruto replied as he slowly got back up to his feet. "What you know him?" he asked.
"Yeah you could say that I do... OK we'll stop your taijutsu for today then. I don't want to wear you out before your test. Let us work on your Kage Bunshin coordination," he instructed. "Come on. Just one hour and then you can get some rest."
The next morning at seven Naruto woke up aching all over. After half an hour of morning stretches he headed to the bathroom and a long soak. Today was going to be a big day, and he couldn't help but feel a little nervous. Kakashi-sensei was going to give them some kind of test and based on their performance decide whether or not to pass them. Thoughts on the scary sensei Naruto finished dressing up and then headed out of the compound.
He was the first to arrive. He was quickly followed by the Uchiha, and Hinata finally turned up at exactly nine o'clock. They ended up waiting another hour before their sensei decided to put in an appearance. No one uttered a complaint except Naruto who scowled in recognition when he saw the book in Kakashi's hand. He had escaped Jiraiya only to run into a fan of the man. Why did he always have such rotten luck.
Kakashi noticed the baleful stare Naruto was using to burn imaginary holes in his precious orange book. He shuddered supposing that such irrational hatred was not surprising considering the boy's exposure to Jiraiya's perverted ways from an early age, so feeling a slight sense of pity for Naruto's misguided opinions Kakashi ignored him, and proceeded to explain the bell test.
Naruto watched his two teammates dash off into opposite sections of the surrounding forest while he remained in place frowning in thought stroking one of his prominent whisker marks absently. Kakashi's explanation had made no sense. There were two bells and three teammates. If one person was definitely going to fail then how could they be a combat specialized team? It could only mean that the bells were an illusion. So what was the test's true purpose?
Kakashi saw the Genin in front of him deep in thought. It was too early in the day for thought. His plan couldn't work if he didn't have the kids panicked and operating on adrenaline. He decided to interrupt initiating a conversation.
"Standing there is a terrible idea. I'm a Jounin. I hope you realize you're in my range?"
Naruto looked up at the man addressing him. "There is a trick to this test isn't there? You want me to panic don't you?"
"Trick? Kid the clock is ticking. The only reason you're still standing is 'cause a mere prospect isn't worth the effort it will take for me to come over there and knock you out," Kakashi said.
"I figured you wouldn't tell me without a fight," Naruto grinned as he eyed up the Jounin-sensei. "I guess I have no choice but to beat it out of you," he stated.
Kakashi watched in mild interest as the gaki settled into the opening stance for the tiger-crane. "Interesting... that style is quite advanced, but I wonder if you're any good with it? Lesson one Genjutsu."
Genjutsu? Naruto was instantly on guard. How did Kakashi know his weak spot? Had he been talking to Jiraiya? The toad sage had admitted knowing him, and it would be right in keeping with his sneaky persona... ratting Naruto out that is.
The blond leaped back quickly expecting the worst, but his eyes narrowed as his feet resettled, and he noticed that Kakashi had the gumption to bring out an Icha Icha paperback and calmly start reading. Naruto hadn't joking when he said he hated being underestimated. He had worked hard for his level of skill, and for someone to simply disregard all of his effort was extremely irritating... whether or not they had just threatened him with the horrors of Genjutsu, so it was that without realizing what he was doing Naruto found himself speeding towards the offensive Jounin.
To be continued.