Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Chapter 1: Proposition
'Eighty-six, eighty-seven, eighty-eight...' counted off a blond haired kid doing push-ups upside down as he used his legs to balance themselves against the nearby tree when he needed it. Sweat was dripping into his eyes as his fingers tremble from the weight forced only on his fingertips and his dark blue shirt clung to his upper body from sweat. His orange jacket was discarded only feet away as his faced showed his struggle to keep himself up for only a few more moments.
'Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred!' And on his way back up from his last push up, he used the last of his strength to push up hard enough so that actually did a back flip and landed in a crouch next to his jacket. The boy picked up said jacket and mopped his sweaty face, soaking the one spot on his jacket making it a darker orange. His breath huffed a few more times before he picked up a book under his coat and flipped to the dog-eared page.
'Yuuku Seiyuuki... B-Class missing-nin from Waterfall... Specializes in Taijutsu, ranked solid A-class in execution. However, he lacks Genjutsu and only scant Academy level Ninjutsu. He also has moderate to high level skill with Nin-tools (refer to chart for a more detailed description)...'
The boy, Naruto, looked down to said chart and studied it obsessively, trying to commit it to memory. He had seen dozens of these charts from the Bingo Book he stole from a distracted ANBU guard of the Hokage's. Each one was distinctly different, with the only thing in common was the labels of: 'nin, gen, tai, blood, and nin-tools.'
The reason why each was so different was that it applied to each ninja individually. For instance, Yuuku Seiyuuki had from the center of his chart to the top of of the 'tai' portion nearly filled. However, his 'gen' had nothing jutting out from it and one could barely see anything coming from his 'nin.' His 'tool' portion stopped at almost the half way point.
However, that wasn't the most fascinating chart Naruto had seen. That chart belonged to a ninja whose page Naruto looked at everyday. One who Naruto wished his chart would like some day soon. The page was that of Uchiha Itachi, where most, if not all of the points were filled to the max. Itachi hadn't focused on a single aspect of a ninja specialty, thus making him versatile and able to fight any opponent, despite specialties. Naruto desired to be that strong, so that one day, the villagers that looked at him with disgust, would one day look up to him with admiration.
Naruto shut the book with a snap as he withdrew some kunai and launched them into the surrounding trees. From first glance, it didn't look too special by ninja standards, but once he hopped into the center point of all the thrown kunai and didn't land back on the ground, but stayed in the air, it would raise a few eyebrows. Upon closure inspection, one would see ninja wire stretched between different pairs of kunai, with Naruto precariously balanced on one of the wires (there were eight wires between sixteen kunais that crisscrossed).
Naruto steadily went through the katas of the Academy taijutsu, falling every few minutes and usually getting cut on the way down from the sharp wires. While letting his body move once he got used to his position on the wires, he let his mind drift. The brilliant green grass underfoot showed how many times he had fallen, since most of the grass was pushed flat to the ground. The canopy of the trees blocked out light and most of the heat, making for a pleasant atmosphere, that is if one wasn't training like Uzumaki Naruto.
He was supposed to be at the academy right now. No doubt Iruka would be angry at him skipping today. On average, he probably attended twenty percent of the time, resulting in his poor grade in class. He was often times referred to as the 'dead last' or 'loser' of his class year. It didn't bother Naruto though. While they learned different things like etiquette or history of the village, he was usually perfecting his various skills or enhancing his body through exercises.
He finished his stances and hopped down again as he walked around, rocking each kunai back and forth trying to pull out the points of the little daggers. Once he rolled them up and placed them back into his pouch, he let loose a foxy grin and said to no one in particular, "It was a good day today, I think I deserve some ramen!" Naruto then proceeded to the best ramen place in Konoha, Ichiraku ramen. However everyday Naruto believed he deserved some ramen. Like if he had a bad day, he deserved ramen to cheer up, or if it was only a normal day, he needed ramen to spice up his day.
However, once he walked in, happy as he ever was (laughing at nothing in particular, just enjoying the scenery), he deadpanned. Sitting in his favorite stool was none other than Iruka, his Academy sensei. The scarred teacher had a vein throbbing above his eye as one of his hands impatiently tapped the counter.
"So, you miss my class three to four times a week, but every night you have no trouble making it to here same time every day," Iruka grumbled out angrily.
"Uh, it's night already?" Naruto chuckled out nervously as his hand went instinctively to rub the back of his head.
"Shut up Naruto," Iruka snapped out. "So, answer my question: why don't you come to class everyday, but make it a point to come here almost constantly? I thought you cared about becoming a ninja!"
"Well, you see the truth is..." Naruto tried to stall for an answer, until he saw the old man Ichiraku himself walk about making a new pot of ramen, "Old man Ichiraku needs me!"
"He needs you?" Iruka said in a disbelieving voice.
"Y-yeah, you see, if it weren't for me, he'd have to close his stand, see, then his wonderful daughter Ayame wouldn't have any money to buy the pretty things she deserves," Naruto said with a nervous foxy grin as he watched Ayame take a hand full of bowls around a packed ramen stand.
"So, you are single handedly making sure Ichiraku stays in business?" Questioned Iruka, rubbing the bridge of his scarred nose.
"Pretty much," Naruto remarked as his chest puffed out, thinking he had convinced Iruka.
"What about all these people?" Iruka asked, quickly losing his patience with the blond.
"Uh... um... what people?" Whimpered Naruto as the inevitable punch to the back of his head occurred and he was forcefully knocked down to the floor. Once he got up, two bowls of ramen were sitting in front of Iruka, miso and his favorite, pork. Naruto licked his chops as he stared at the bowl of pork and occasionally flicked his eyes to the miso bowl. Once a strand of drool reached the floor, Iruka cleared his throat.
"If you tell me the real reason why you always skip my classes, I'll let you have both bowls here."
Naruto quickly licked his lips, "Fine," he snapped out, trying to get his reason out as quick as possible to get the ramen. "The Academy is boring. I've learned all it can teach me. I know the three jutsus-"
"Two." Iruka interrupted.
"Huh?" Naruto asked as he scratched his head.
"You only know the two. You can't make a Bunshin," Iruka said.
"Does it matter? When is the last time you needed to make a Bunshin?" Naruto shot back, hoping like hell Iruka would give him the ramen soon.
"I don't go on regular missions, Naruto. However, it matters, greatly. It isn't taught at the Academy for nothing you know," Iruka stated as he started to play with one of bowls of ramen, sliding back and forth in between his hands.
"Yeah right, a real ninja has to make imaginary images of themselves all the time to avoid the scary bad ninja. That's bull. A real ninja is more likely to do some kick ass Ninjutsu than a stupid Bunshin. I know that's what I'd do," Naruto said.
"Yeah," Iruka remarked, "then show me one of these 'kick ass Ninjutsu' you know."
Naruto chuckled nervously again as his hand snaked its way to his neck as he rubbed it uncomfortably. "I don't know any," he said.
"I wonder why?" Iruka asked a seemingly rhetorical question, only to be answered by Naruto.
"Because you won't teach any in class," shot back an irritated Naruto with arms folded over his chest.
"I can't teach you any until you prove that you can do a perfect Bunshin. Naruto, the Bunshin isn't just for busy work, but to get you used to molding Chakra and getting you used to using it. Until you can build up enough reserves through simple Academy jutsu, which by the way, is very important to any shinobi."
"Bull crap Iruka. You just feel like being a bastard. You're also too lazy to bother," Naruto said, waving off his explanation.
"Okay, I'll make a deal with you: if you can some how pass the Genin exam, I'll get your Jounin instructor to 'school' you on the uses of the three jutsu," Iruka said.
"Nope, no deal," Naruto said with arms still folded over his chest and shaking his head.
"Huh? Why not?" Iruka questioned, now twirling the pork bowl around, nearly splashing the contents on to the table.
"I don't want to be on a team," Naruto said. "All I will do is stupid chores and crap with two other kids. I could do those chores quicker myself than with others slowing me up."
"The point behind that is to build team work, Naruto. Besides, you can't make that decision. You need a team to advance in rank anyways," Iruka reasoned off.
"I won't," Naruto said. "I'll just go from Genin to Hokage. You should know better Iruka-sensei than to classify someones skills just on their rank alone. I'll be the most powerful Genin ever!" Naruto said as he pumped one of his fists into the air.
"And one of the oldest," Iruka mumbled under his breath. "So why don't you come to class?" Iruka asked, once more getting back to the matter at hand.
"Ah, that stuff you teach is boring," Naruto exclaimed. "I can throw several kunai's perfectly, I've perfected the Academy Taijutsu, and I've been building my stamina. If I went to class, I'd just be wasting time."
"All that crap is taught for a reason, Naruto," Iruka scolded.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard it before Iruka-sensei, not even you think it's worthwhile."
"Actually, I think it's very worthwhile." Iruka remarked.
"Oh yeah, pray tell oh glorious sensei," Naruto shot back, somewhat bitter that he hadn't received his ramen bowls yet.
"It builds a foundation for every ninja," Iruka began. "If a house is built on, say sand, it's unstable and easily crumbles at the right time. However, a house built on cement will last for years."
"Hum, so you say if I get theses 'lessons,' I'll be a more rounded shinobi?" Naruto asked, scratching his chin, already thinking of Itachi's Nin-chart and then his side by side after a few years, looking identical.
"Yeah, that's pretty much it," Iruka said with a questioning look. He didn't think he'd be able to win over Naruto that easily. "Why so interested in being 'well-rounded,' Naruto?"
Naruto thought quickly. No one below Chuunin rank were allowed to see the contents of a Bingo book. However, he wanted to see what Iruka thought of his idea, that is, if was any good or realistic. "Well, when I'm not in your class or training," Naruto began his lie, "I walk around the different training grounds. I always notice that most, if not all, upper level ninjas have some sort of specialty, like taijutsu or weapons.
"I want to be like that one guy, Uchiha Itachi, or whatever his name is," Naruto said. Iruka raised an eyebrow at his remark about Itachi. Iruka wasn't sure where he learned about him, as it wasn't very common knowledge of what happened to kids his age. "Wasn't he able to become an expert in all shinobi fields or something?"
"Well, yes," Iruka began, "but the Uchiha did have something that set him apart from the rest, Naruto. He had the Sharingan. He could copy any Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, and sometimes taijutsu just by watching another ninja perform the moves."
"So you think I should focus on one area," Naruto asked in a guarded tone. Iruka could see himself sticking his foot in his mouth, but quickly pulled it out.
"No, I don't think you should," he started. "But I don't think it would hurt if you had some skill you focused more on."
"Like what?" Naruto asked, at this point both bowls of ramen were forgotten and cold, having both speakers getting caught up in the conversation.
"Well, for instance, becoming a seal master," Iruka said.
"What? Like hand seals?" Naruto asked.
"No Naruto ," Iruka chuckled, "No one could become a master of hand seals, since everyone knows hand seals, but writing seals, like the ones on explosive tags. But there are many more complex and useful ones than that."
"Ah," Naruto said as he scratched his head. "So why can't I be a hand seal master again?" Naruto asked. Iruka just huffed in indignation.
"Because, what is the point of becoming a hand seal master if everyone already knows the hand seals"
"I'll invent new ones," Naruto said simply.
"I'm not saying that you could," Iruka began in a restrained voice, "but what would be the point of creating a new one when one of the twelve in existence would work just as good, if you knew which one to use?"
"Well, I'll become a hand seal master to know which seal to use then," Naruto argued back. Iruka rubbed his head.
"Naruto, it would prove frivolous. Nothing could be achieved by becoming a 'hand seal master.'"
"Okay, Iruka-sensei, I'll make you a deal," Naruto started, "If in one year I can prove that I'm on my way to becoming a hand seal master, you pass me to Genin rank and help me get out of team assignments."
"And if it does indeed prove frivolous?" Iruka asked.
"You'll never have to buy me another bowl of ramen again," Naruto said to which Iruka immediately replied, 'Deal,' and shoved the two cold bowls of ramen towards Naruto and walking back to his apartment. Neither noticed the other's smile of victory as Iruka left.
AN: New story here. Not as polished as I'd like, but hopefully this will wet your appetites. I'll post another chapter maybe in a week, week in a half.