Naruto looked at the unconscious form of Sabaku no Gaara with something approaching pity. One of the medic-nin, given the trouble they'd had trying to even get an IV into the Suna-nin's arm, had gotten the bright idea of calling Naruto in for help in piercing the other genin's sand defense. The blonde had been surprised to see that the sand was still reflexively protecting the Suna jinchuuriki even while he was unconscious, although getting the IV in had been simple once he used his wind to separate the blocking cloud of sand.
"I thought that I might be able to find you here," Kakashi's voice said from the doorway.
"Eh, Kakashi-sensei, what are you doing here," the blonde asked in confusion as he turned to see the jounin leaning against the doorframe with his masked nose buried in his little orange book.
"I came to talk about your training for the Third Exam," Kakashi offered slowly, as if explaining to a particularly slow and dim child.
"Oh," the blonde said with a sheepish smile, scratching the back of his head. "I hadn't really thought about that yet. I mean, the second exam just ended and I haven't even had a chance to go home and clean up yet."
"Honestly, Naruto," the jounin sighed as he turned his head to give the blonde a gimlet eye, "you really need to learn to start thinking ahead."
"Oh come on, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto complained, "a lot's happened over the last couple of days. Besides, I figured you'd give me a few exercises and then I'd work on them with Haku-chan."
"Unfortunately, I won't be around for most of the month," the jounin explained. "I'm going to take Sasuke out to train."
The blonde suppressed his initial reaction, which was to scream and rant at his sensei for blatantly favoring the Uchiha like everyone else always had, and made himself think things through to the end. "This has something to do with those weird marks that appeared when we fought those Oto-nin in the forest, doesn't it," he finally asked.
"Very good," Kakashi said, his eye curving up into a smile. "Yes, this has to do with what happened to him in the forest. I need to help him learn to control himself and to not draw on that power. How much do you know about what happened to him?"
"Only what Sakura told me," the blonde replied with a frown. "That some creepy Kusa-nin attacked them after I got knocked away from them. I think that she said the gut bit Sasuke and left. I was delayed by a group of Ame-nin that had laid an ambush for me with a genjutsu trap. Apparently they had been working with the Kusa-nin, since they said something about him tipping them off about me getting separated from the others before it actually happened."
"Interesting," Kakashi mused. "That Kusa-nin was nothing of the sort and no genin either. He's an S-class nukenin from Konoha named Orochimaru."
"That name sounds kind of familiar," Naruto said, tapping a finger against his chin and squinting his eyes in thought.
"You would have heard about him at the Academy if you had paid more attention," the jounin replied. "He was an elite of Konoha, one of the Densetsu no Sannin, before his sick and twisted experiments went too far and he fled the village one step ahead of ANBU."
"So he's done something to the bastard and you get to nanny him," Naruto summed up. "Where does that leave me?"
"I called in a favor and arranged for another jounin to teach you while I'm gone," he said as he stepped aside and let a figure in the hall come into view.
"Ah, it's the closet pervert," Naruto cried out, pointing a finger at Ebisu as the sunglasses wearing jounin entered the room.
"oh, so you know each other already," Kakashi stated, quirking his head to the side quizzically.
"Why would I want to learn anything from a closet pervert like him," the blonde snorted. "I've already beaten him with my Ha-…" the blonde's voice was cut off as Ebisu snaked his arm around Naruto's neck and covered his mouth with a hand.
"If you keep quiet about that incident," Ebisu whispered fiercely, "I will treat you to dinner at that ramen stand you like so much."
"As much as I can I eat," the blonde mumbled through the interposed hand.
"Yes," Ebisu hissed, "now do we have a deal?" Naruto nodded and the jounin removed his hand from over the genin's mouth, but not from around his neck. "Yes, Kakashi-kun, we have met before," the jounin told the other man. "Naruto-kun proved himself to me shortly after becoming a genin and encouraged a burning thirst for improvement in my student Konohamaru-kun."
"Hah, so the brat finally got you to stop calling him honorable grandson," Naruto exclaimed as he wriggled free of the jounin's grasp. "So what did he do? Pour itching powder in your boxers? Douse you with stink bobs? Or did he get more creative?"
"That's not important," the stuffy jounin said hurriedly, much to Kakashi's amusement. "Kakashi-kun asked for my assistance since I an excellent instructor in the…"
"Whatever," Naruto sighed wearily. "Can we do this another time? I'm kinda of wiped out and would like a chance to rest a little before diving into my training. How about meeting in two days time?"
"I suppose that will be acceptable," Ebisu sighed. Naruto nodded and brushed past both jounins as he exited the room. The stuffy shinobi turned to Kakashi and asked, "You're sure you want me to take him to the hot springs for training? I would think a boy his age would find the atmosphere distracting…"
"Don't worry too much about that," the one-eyed jounin chuckled as he turned back to his book. "Despite his Oiroke no jutsu, Naruto's the least perverted male ninja that I've ever known. I think Haku-san is working on rectifying that though."
"Tadaima," Naruto called out as he paused in the entryway of his house to slip off his sandals.
"Okaerinasai, Naruto-sama," Haku said as she materialized from an ice mirror that had sprouted on the veranda. She waved her hand idly and the mirror melted back into water that flew off to water the lawn. "I 'm pleased that you have returned so soon, Naruto-sama. How did the exams go?"
"I kicked some real serious ass," the blonde said with a broad grin as he joined the girl on the veranda. "We made it through the first part by the skin of our teeth cause it was a written exam where you were supposed to cheat and not get caught. It was all a lie though, since all you had to do was wait it out through the stupid tenth question and you'd pass. Heh, I didn't even answer a single question on that paper.
"The second exam was in a really nasty place called the Forest of Death where each team had a scroll and we had to get the other type of scroll from one of the other teams. Some weird nukenin called Orochimaru attacked us in there and did something to Sasuke that Kakashi-sensei's worried about, but we made it through that one too.
"When we got to the tower in the middle, we found out that too many teams had passed, so there was a preliminary one on one tournament to determine who would compete in the big event for the third exam. Supposedly it's a big tournament that draws lots of bigwigs from all over Hi no Kuni and some from outside too."
"I take it from your cheerful demeanor that you bested your opponent," Haku asked with a smile as she preceded Naruto to his room and waited for him to enter and divest himself of his gear.
"Yeah," Naruto replied as he dropped his backpack and weapon pouch on the floor before stepping behind a tri-fold screen to change out of the clothes he'd been wearing for the last several days. He'd bought the screen when he realized that privacy while changing clothes was a concept that Haku refused to accept. He stepped out from behind it tying the obi on an orange yukata with little fishcakes on it. "I had to fight a guy named Gaara. Turns out he was Temari-chan's little brother and the jinchuuriki of the Ichibi to boot. I beat him down, but we caused a lot of damage to the tower during our fight cause his demon got loose for a little while."
"I'm glad that everything went so well for you, Naruto-sama," Haku replied with a soft smile. "I should have dinner prepared for you in an hour or so, during which time I suggest you avail yourself of a bath. Oh, I purchased some instructional materials for you while you were gone. They're sitting on your desk."
Naruto glanced over at the low desk standing against the wall and saw a stack of small books with bright orange covers sitting on it. "But Haku-chan," Naruto stammered, "those are the perverted books that Kakashi-sensei reads all of the time!"
"Oh, I had no idea," Haku said demurely as she put a hand in front of her mouth in feigned shock. "I just asked the store clerk's advice when he recommended those novels as the best way to educate a young man like yourself on women and sex."
"Ack, you're trying to turn me into a pervert, aren't you, Haku-chan," Naruto accused, pointing a finger at the girl.
"That's so cruel, Naruto-sama," Haku sniffed as a tear slid down her face. "I'm just trying to ensure that you'll be prepared for your future happiness when you take a bride and you accuse me of trying to turn you into a lecher?" The kunoichi put both of her hands over her face and bowed her head in a muffled sob.
"ah, no, I'm sorry, Haku-chan," Naruto said hurriedly, his arms wind-milling in helpless frustration as he tried to comfort the girl. "I'll read the books if that'll make you happy. So please don't cry, ok?"
Haku nodded and rubbed at her eyes, sniffling as she looked at him with a watery gaze. "Really? So you don't think I'm trying to turn you into some kind of pervert," she asked, her voice quavering.
"Of course not," Naruto replied nervously, grabbing the book from the top of the stack. "Look, I'll even take one into the bath with me and start reading it. See!" The blonde fled the room and tore off down the hall towards the bathroom before Haku could say anything further.
The kunoichi stared after him for a moment and carefully removed the bottle of eye cleanser from the sleeve of her kimono with a faint smile. "Ninpou: Naiteru no Ko, successful," could be heard as she started humming and began to collect the blonde's dirty laundry for the wash.
Meanwhile, Naruto closed the bathroom door behind him and tried to calm his rapidly beating heart. He had started to panic when Haku began crying and had rashly promised to read the little orange book that he now clutched in his hand.
Damn it, why do I always fall to pieces for a crying girl, the blonde thought furiously as he sat the book next to the pool sized furo. Shrugging off his yukata, Naruto hung it inside the door and checked once more to see that the entryway was secure. Somehow Haku-chan always manages to get me to do thing that I don't want to and I need to figure out how. That way I can make a defense against it. The blonde sat himself down in front of the showerhead and thoroughly scrubbed himself before rinsing off and settling down in the heat of the furo. He stared at the small day-glo book sitting on the side in the same contemplative horror that one might regard a similarly colored poisonous snake.
"Well," Naruto said out loud, stealing his nerve, "there's nothing for it except to take the plunge." He picked up the book and opened it to the first page. "Let's see; Icha Icha Paradise volume one: The path to manhood by the great, super, ultimate and totally awesome Jiraiya-sama...who the hell is this guy? He sounds even crazier than chou geji mayuu." Naruto turned the page and continued to read out loud, hoping to feel less like a pervert by pretending that he was just reading the book to someone else.
The blonde read on, page after page flying by as Naruto recited the contents and tried not to stare at the occasional illustration. It was surprisingly well written for such blatant porn and he shocked to discover that the protagonist was named Naruto as well. The action was getting progressively steamier and the blonde could feel his nose burning a little from the beginnings of a nosebleed as the rest of the blood in his body seemed to have a different destination in mind. He tore his eyes from the book and closed it, using all of his willpower to not immediately reopen the novel and see what happened next. Getting out of the furo and drying off was complicated by the obvious sign of arousal sticking out at a forty-five degree angle from his body.
"Naruto-sama," Haku's voice called from the hall, "dinner is prepared."
"I'll be right there," Naruto managed to stammer out as he dried off as best he could and pulled his yukata on. Much to his dismay, he found that the had to wrap the yukata tight and tie it over his erection to keep it from tenting out.
"Is everything all right, Naruto-sama," Haku called again and the blonde heard the outer shoji begin to slide open.
"No! I mean, no, everything's fine, Haku-chan," Naruto said quickly as he collected the book and straightened his yukata as much as possible, trying to ignore the pleasant sensation the cloth rubbing against him created. Opening the door, Naruto saw a surprised Haku and gave her a smile. "Let's go eat."
Temari let out a heavy sigh and tried to tune out the racket Kankarou was making as he disassembled Karasu and began checking every part of the battle puppet for damage. This was a familiar ritual that he had done every time he'd ever actually used the aged construct in battle, but for some reason it had begun to irritate the kunoichi beyond belief.
"So what do you think the Kazekage's gonna say when he finds out that your boyfriend defeated Gaara," Kankarou asked in a muffled tone as he held several small tools clenched in his teeth.
"It's hard to say," Temari frowned, a tick growing in one eye. "A lot of our shinobi were surprised when Kazekage-sama announced our alliance with Otogakure for this invasion since our forces have dwindled over the last two decades. Our big trump card was supposed to be Gaara and now that Konoha has proven that he can be neutralized….and by a genin at that…Oh, and Naruto is not my boyfriend."
"Could have fooled me," Kankarou mumbled. "Especially with the way the shrimp's been hanging all over you."
"All right, that's it," Temari said loudly, rising to her feet and looming over her younger brother where he sat on the floor of their hotel room. "I'm sick of your whining. All you've done since we got here is bitch constantly and I'm not going to deal with it anymore. I have somewhere else that I can stay and I'm going to take advantage of it, so you can sit here for the next month and be miserable by yourself."
The blonde kunoichi stormed around the room, gathering hr belongings before leaving the hotel suite and slamming the door behind her. She was so upset that she didn't hear her brother say, "It's about time," as she huffed out angrily. When she reached the street below, Temari dug out the paper that Naruto had given her with the directions on it. She felt a sweatdrop form as she realized that the handwriting was far too precise and feminine to have been written by the orange-clad boy.
The morning streets had not yet become crowded, so the Suna kunoichi had little trouble making her way across town following the path the directions laid out. She found the streets growing quieter and less populated as she traveled towards the designated address. Many of the buildings showed signs of battle damage that had never been repaired and the effects of long term neglect. Temari wondered exactly what would make a prosperous and heavily populated village like Konoha leave an area to just rot like this, but her attention was diverted to the sight of a large gate up ahead that showed signs of recent maintenance and care.
"Hello," the Suna-nin called out as she knocked on the large wooden doors. A faint voice from the distance reassured her that someone was home and would attend her soon, but she still shifted nervously as she waited. The door swung open a few feet and a very beautiful young woman with porcelain skin and lustrous black hair dressed in a white kimono stepped out. Temari vaguely remembered seeing her before with Naruto.
"Ah, Temari-san," Haku greeted the other kunoichi with a bow. "Naruto-sama informed me yesterday that you might take up his offer of hospitality. Welcome to Uzumaki-ke."
"Thanks," Temari replied hesitantly, remembering that this girl was the one who seemed to be Naruto's bodyguard. She looked like the picture perfect yamato nadeshiko, but there were small things that spoke to her of extensive training and substantial skill. It wouldn't surprise the Suna-nin at all to discover that Haku had a dozen concealed weapons on her person. "Naruto said that I could stay here if I needed to, and frankly Kankarou was getting on my nerves even more than usual. So I came here for a little peace and quiet."
"Please follow me," Haku said with a smile as she reentered the gate. The blonde followed the other girl and couldn't help but be impressed by the lush greenery of the grounds inside the compound.
"Naruto-sama has worked very hard to restore this land," Haku said as she pushed the gate closed behind them. "When he first acquired this home, no one had lived her or even tended the grounds for more than ten years."
"Why," Temari asked with a frown on her face. "I noticed that a lot of the buildings in this part of town were like that, but I couldn't figure out the reason."
"This section of Konoha was the most heavily damaged by the attack of the Kyuubi no Kitsune thirteen yeas ago, or so I have been told," Haku informed the other kunoichi as she led her to the house. "Apparently there was a miasma in the area after it was defeated and even after it had faded, people stayed away. Not the most rational response, but an event such as that is unlikely to promote rational thinking."
"So you don't seem like you're from Konoha," Temari asked hesitantly as the two of them approached the house. Both of the girls doffed their sandals and entered the front while the blonde thought over what Haku had said and more importantly, how it had been said.
"I was born in Mizu no Kuni," Haku replied. "My parents died when I was young, but I had the good fortune to be taken in as an apprentice by Momoichi Zabuza. At the time he was still one of Kirigakure's Seven Swordsmen, but he lead a coup attempt against the Mizukage and we were forced to become nukenin."
"So how did you wind up with Naruto," Temari asked, curiosity overriding the instinct telling her that this might be too personal of a topic.
"Naruto-sama gave me a reason to live after Zabuza-sama was killed," Haku said simply. "I have chosen to become his weapon to smite his enemies and his tool to take care of any other needs that might arise."
"You mean that you've had sex with him," the blonde asked in astonishment, surprised at the sharp stab of jealousy she felt.
"Oh no, Naruto-sama is still a virgin," Haku reassured the Suna kunoichi. "He's actually surprisingly shy and innocent for a boy his age, so I had to provide him with some instructional material to help educate him. You see, the Hokage and his final instructor at the Academy, Iruka-san, were the only people Naruto-sama was ever close to and he never received a proper course on sexual education. While it is considered less important for a male shinobi than it is for a kunoichi, I would be remiss in my duties if I were to leave this portion of his education neglected. I believe it's best that he remain pure until he is married, however I will do what I must to ensure that he does not become…overstressed."
Temari could only stare at the other girl's back in numb shock at the revelations. Apparently, Haku was an old fashioned kunoichi sworn to serve her lord, Naruto in this case, in any manner possible. This was an extreme rarity these days as kunoichi were much stronger-willed and had significantly more options open to them, at least in the major shinobi villages. While a part of Temari was decidedly happier that Haku wasn't sleeping with Naruto, and she couldn't quite pin down why that mattered so much to her, the prospect of the other kunoichi servicing the boy sent strange shivers of pleasure through her.
"Here's the bedroom that I've prepared for you," Haku said as she slid a shoji aside to reveal a sparsely furnished room. "I apologize for the spartan decoration, but there has been neither time nor money available recently to truly furnish the rooms. Naruto-sama's bedroom is across the hall and mine is next door to his. The bathroom and furo are at the end of the hallway. I generally serve breakfast and dinner, as Naruto-sama normally has his lunch at Ichiraku Ramen."
"Um, thanks," the blonde said as she stepped into the room feeling horribly confused and conflicted. She set her pack on the floor, he battle fan against the wall by the door and looked around. Despite the lack of furnishings, the tatami mats were new and the walls were either freshly varnished or shoji that looked like they had recently been repapered. "A soak sounds pretty good right now. You said the furo is down at the end of the hall?"
"Yes, Temari-san," Haku replied with a smile. "The pool is recirculated hot water and is always available. Towels and other supplies are in the cabinets in the changing room. Now if you'll excuse me, there are still some tasks that I have to attend to."
Temari watched as the other kunoichi walked away before shrugging and heading the other way towards the bathroom. She had to check a few doors before finding the right one, noting that there were several empty bedrooms along the hall. Looks like he's got some serious space here, Temari considered as she undressed in the changing room, but it's only the two of them here. If Naruto and Haku are the only ones I'd be bothering, then I don't feel bad about imposing on them for a while.
Holding a towel in front of her to keep from accidentally exposing herself should anyone potentially be in the bathroom, Temari opened the door and stepped through. The room was incredibly humid due to the extremely large pool of steaming water set in the middle, which made the blonde sigh in pleasure as she picked up one of the wooden buckets and rinsed herself off before setting the towel on the side and slipping into the furo.
The heat was nearly overwhelming for a moment, but Temari felt herself adjusting quickly and sank down to her neck in the water. The builder of the furo had included built-in benches along the sides, which she was prepared to take shameless advantage of. It had been quite a while since the Suna-nin had the opportunity for a leisurely soak like this and she sighed in pleasure as the heat sank into her muscles. This really is the best way to relax, she thought contentedly.
The Suna kunoichi let herself lay there, luxuriating in the pool's heat like a cat in the sun for quite a while. She really didn't pay attention to the passage of time until she heard someone moving around in the changing room. Temari grabbed the towel and clutched it to herself just as the door opened to reveal Haku, who was likewise holding a towel in front of her otherwise naked body.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Haku blushed slightly, "I didn't realize that you were still in here, Temari-san. Would it be all right if I joined you?"
"That's fine," the dark blonde replied as she forced herself to put the towel back on the edge of the furo and tried not to stare at the other girl as she rinsed herself and entered the pool. "I'm sorry that I've been a bit abrupt with you, Haku-san, but I've had a stressful time recently."
"Yes, from what I've heard the chuunin exams can be quite stressful," Haku replied as she piled her hair on top of her head and wrapped it in her towel while standing by the edge of the furo. Temari found herself unable to look away without doing something that might be considered impolite, so she settled on assessing Haku as a kunoichi. The other girl had a lean body that was just beginning to lose its hard tone and soften into some very nice curves. The scars were barely visible, except for a rather large one that ran down her chest and across the upper portion of her stomach. The blonde winced at the sight, wondering how Haku had come by it and how she'd managed to survive the wound that had caused it.
"Does the scar bother you, Temari-san," Haku asked abruptly, jolting the Suna-nin out of her contemplation. "If you're curious, I don't mind answering questions about it."
"Are you sure," Temari asked hesitantly, her eyes fixed on the scar where it traveled between the other girl's breasts.
"Of course," Haku said cheerfully. "While that day holds one of my worst memories, it has led to my life here and I've never been happier. You see, Naruto-sama was the one who gave me the wound that caused this scar."
"Naruto did that," Temari asked in shock and a little twinge of growing respect. As a Fuuton specialist herself, she knew the terrible damage that could be caused by wind based jutsu.
"To be fair, Naruto-sama believed that I had just killed his teammate," Haku explained. "He was not aware that I had merely placed Uchiha-san in a death-like state and attacked me with all of his strength, which was not nearly so great as it is now. At the same time, Hatake-san, killed my former master, Zabuza-sama."
"So how did you become his servant," Temari asked, her eyes still fixed on the scar that ran through the valley between the other kunoichi's breasts. "I can't imagine that you were too happy with the circumstances…"
"Oh, I was not," Haku chuckled, causing very interesting motions in the anatomy that Temari had her eyes glued to. "In fact, I begged him to kill me at first, but he refused and ensured that I received the best medical treatment available. He even gave his own blood for a transfusion to save my life, despite my actions against his team and the village. I don't think I need to explain to you, Temari-san, exactly how persuasive Naruto-sama's earnestness can be. Eventually he managed to get through my grief and touch my heart. That was when I swore fealty to him."
"That boy really is full of surprises," Temari chuckled, tearing her eyes away from Haku's chest and raising them to meet the other kunoichi's eyes. "He definitely makes life interesting though."
Naruto stretched as he rolled from his bed with a yawn and stumbled out of his room and down the hall to the bathroom adjoining the furo. The occupied sign wasn't up, but the blonde vaguely registered noises from the bath and muzzily decided to skip the soak since he was going to the onsen district today for training and could clean up there if he had to. Certain calls of nature, however, could not be ignored, so the blonde entered the outer room and lowered his boxers to relieve himself with a sigh.
The inner door to the furo slid open and a startled gasp could be heard. Naruto's head ratcheted to the side slowly to see Temari standing in the doorway clutching a towel over the front of her body. Unfortunately, the towel was rather small and left a great deal of the kunoichi's body exposed to Naruto's view. His eyes traveled up her toned legs, across the sharp curve of her hips, skirting the edges of her firm breasts and over her slightly quivering shoulders up to her face. A face that was slowly turning crimson with a combination of embarrassment and anger.
Naruto felt a rush of blood as the exposed portion of his anatomy reacted to the sight of the Suna kunoichi's body and decided to say hello. A flush grew on his cheeks as he reached down desperately to grab his boxers and yank them up post haste while he ripped his gaze from Temari's body and fixed it steadily on the ground. "Ah, Temari-san," he stammered, "I didn't know that you were in there. I knew someone was inside, but I didn't think there'd be a problem with me using the toilet really quickly…"
The blonde girl didn't say a word. She just reached into the room and grabbed a robe before stepping back into the other room and sliding the door shut. Naruto breathed a sigh of relief and bolted from the bathroom before the upset kunoichi might decide to take some sort of vengeance. It wasn't like I meant for that to happen, the blonde thought resentfully. It was an accident! Despite that, the blonde found it difficult to get that image of Temari out of his head as he hurried dressed and prepared to leave.
"Naruto-sama," Haku called as she opened his door to see him pulling his jacket on and strapping his weapon pouch to his thigh. "Weren't you going to have breakfast this morning?"
"Gomen, Haku-chan," Naruto apologized, clapping his hands together and bowing his head over them, "but I have to meet up with the closet pervert for my training today and I'd really like to show up on time."
"Very well, Naruto-sama," Haku sighed. "Should I expect you for dinner, or will you be returning late?"
"I don't know," the blonde admitted, scratching his head. "It depends what the closet pervert's got me working on. For some reason he told me to meet him down at the district where all the onsens are, so I have no idea what he wants me to do."
"Very well, Naruto-sama," Haku said with a smile. "Just make sure to let me know when you return. I was a little concerned last night."
"Hehe, sorry about that," he apologized. "I had to spend a bunch of time with jiji working on the clan account books and making sure they were set up right since the last of the payment for the A-rank mission came in. We were in his office for most of the evening."
"Just remember to let me know that you're home," Haku reminded with a pout. "Surely that's not too big of a request to ask?"
"Of course not," Naruto smiled, feeling weak against the cuteness of the kunoichi's pout, "but I really have to get going, Haku-chan." The blonde dashed down the hall, slipping his feet into his sandals before sprinting out the door.
The onsen district of Konoha was a busy place. There was a thriving resort industry here to take advantage of the natural springs fed by a vent from a dormant volcano in the mountain range behind the village. Naruto had heard that the shinobi prison hung suspended over the lava and hoped viciously that Mizuki was enjoying his stay in that little slice of hell. Ebisu was standing by one of the bridges over the stream that carried the waste water from the pools of the various inns nearby.
"Ah, Naruto-kun, it's good to see that you aren't picking up Kakashi-kun's bad habit of being excessively tardy," the jounin commented arrogantly.
"Yeah, yeah," Naruto shrugged dismissively. "So why did you want me to come out here? Seems to me that the only reason to be here is to go into an onsen or that you want to peep while I do some silly exercise."
"N…nonsense," Ebisu stammered, a hint of color blooming on his cheeks. "I merely wish to test your chakra control with the water walking exercise before moving on to something else."
"I'm not sure that I should worry too much about using my chakra," Naruto protested. "My wind manipulation doesn't use chakra at all…"
"I 'm aware of that," Ebisu interrupted, "and your ability at wind manipulation, while most impressive, is also a very visible and unmistakable trademark. In your career as a ninja, you will need a greater repertoire of jutsu and skills that can be used for stealth and infiltration missions."
"Hmm," Naruto considered, squinting his eyes shut as he considered the jounin's position. "I guess you have a point. Most of what I can do with my wind abilities are big area effect types and not exactly useful outside of a heavy combat mission."
"And while it is not a bad thing to have a specialization like that," Ebisu continued, "if you are seriously seeking a promotion, you will need to show the examiners a variety of skills. It is a very rare thing in Konoha for a one trick pony to be promoted."
"So I need to know other things in order to impress the judges," Naruto concluded. "All right, let's get to work!"
"Now I want you to walk on the water," Ebisu started to explain, only to be cut short as the blonde walked out on the stream and stood there calmly with his arms crossed over his chest. "I was under the impression that Kakashi-kun hadn't taught your team this chakra control exercise yet."
"I figured this and the tree climbing one out before I became a genin," Naruto replied proudly. "Iruka-sensei explained how they worked, although I don't think he actually expected me to actually be able to master them yet. Heh, he taught me more by accident than Kakashi-sensei has ever taught me since I got on Team Seven."
"Indeed, Umino-kun is one of the best teachers the Academy has seen in a long time," Ebisu agreed pleasantly. "Now that we've established that your chakra control is sufficiently advanced, we need to discuss what jutsu you'll be studying over the next month as well as a strategy for defeating the Hyuuga boy."
"Jutsu," Naruto repeated with a grin that threatened to split his face in two at the thought of finally having someone willing to share jutsu with him, the former pariah of Konoha.
"Ah, Temari-san, how are you feeling this morning," Haku asked cheerfully as the Suna kunoichi emerged from her room.
"Not too bad," Temari replied absently. She wasn't feeling bad, just a little disturbed by her run-in with a certain shinobi in the bathroom that morning. "Is there anything for breakfast?"
"I kept some onigiri fresh in case you felt hungry," Haku replied, producing a plate of seaweed wrapped rice balls. "So what are your plans for today?"
"I'd thought about getting some training in," Temari considered as she helped herself to the onigiri, "but I hadn't really decided yet."
"Would you care to accompany me to the onsen? A new one opened recently and I have been interested in going," Haku explained. "Naruto-sama doesn't care to go with me and I don't really enjoy the onsen quite as much when I'm in there by myself or with strangers."
"I guess I could go," Temari admitted. "The furo here is very nice, but it doesn't quite match up to a real onsen like I've heard that you have here in Konoha. The minerals in the water do some amazing things for your skin and health."
"Really," Haku squealed in glee. "I haven't been able to go to one more than a handful of times in my life. Zabuza-sama saw no use in such things and since Naruto-sama dislikes patronizing most of the businesses in the village, I haven't had the chance to take advantage of the ones here. Let's go!"
Temari smiled as the other kunoichi grabbed her hand and half pulled the blonde through the house. Given the other girl's upbringing, it was unlikely that she'd ever had the opportunity to make friends with other women and Temari didn't mind having Haku as a friend. After all, Temari's father and brother had kept the majority of children her own age, both male and female, well away from the blonde. This had ensures an equally friend starved childhood and sparked a kinship with Naruto's faithful retainer.
The two girls donned their footwear and headed out across town, chatting amiably. Temari was deeply impressed with Haku's fashion sense and the grace with which the other girl wore her kimono. Haku found the Suna kunoichi's fierce independence an endearing and admirable trait. It struck Temari as odd that the two of them, who would never have met if it hadn't been for Naruto, were quickly becoming good friends.
"Ne, Haku, isn't it weird how Naruto seems to change everything around him without meaning to," the blonde asked as the two of them walked.
"I wouldn't say that it's weird, Temari-san," the other girl replied. "Naruto-sama is a very special and rare person. History is full of tales about people like him that catalyzed change, both for good and bad. I think Naruto-sama's heart is just so big that once people begin to see him for himself rather than what they think he is, that they cannot help but change."
"See him for what he really is." Temari asked curiously. "What else would people see him as? Oh, I've heard that he earned quite the reputation as a prankster, but what made him feel that soul crushing loneliness that became such powerful compassion?"
"I'm afraid that is something that Naruto-sama has to tell you himself," Haku replied uncomfortably. "There are things about him that are kept secret for good reason, but given a little time I think he will confide in you about them as well."
Temari considered this as the two of them entered the onsen district and the humidity in the air jumped several levels. Haku led them to a brand new building that still smelled of varnish and paint with a sign that read the 'Kimochi Ii Onsen.' A few women were leaving as the duo approached, chattering happily about how nice the water had been. Haku stepped up and paid the manager for the both of them before puling the blonde into the changing room, where they shed their clothes and grabbed towels before heading out to the spring.
"Looks like we've got the place to ourselves right now," Temari commented as she filled a small tub with water and rinsed herself off before slipping into the spring. The water was extremely hot and forced a hiss of pain from the blonde as her body adjusted to the high temperatures.
"I would guess that those ladies we passed on their way out would have stayed had we arrived earlier," Haku replied as she eased into the water with a contented sigh. "While I would not mind sharing with them, it's kind of pleasant to have the onsen to ourselves."
"Yeah, you wouldn't know it to see me, but I'm really body shy," Temari shared.
"Oh, is that why Naruto-sama looked so uncomfortable this morning," Haku asked mischievously.
"That was his fault," Temari replied hotly, flushing red down to her shoulders. "He shouldn't have come into the changing room while I was in the bath. How was I supposed to know that he was in there when I was coming out to get dressed?"
"Maa," Haku said with an amused smile. "So, Naruto-sama got a good look, did he? How did he react? Did you get an eyeful?"
"He was rightfully embarrassed," Temari growled. "And he didn't see me naked. I had my towel up in front of me at the time, even if his boxers were down…" The blonde's blush grew deeper as she realized what she'd admitted.
"Aww," Haku pouted, "you need to relax, Temari-san. You know that Naruto-sama is too much of a gentleman to ever take advantage of a situation like that. If you want something to happen, you'll have to take the initiative and make the first move."
"What are you talking about," Temari asked incredulously. "First move? He's only what…thirteen? I'm fifteen and even I'm not sure that I'm ready for things like that!"
"I swear," Haku sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose with two fingers, "that you and Naruto-sama are two of a kind. You do realize that he will likely have to marry within the next year or two in order to secure his clan's position. And I'm surprised that you aren't engaged already, since the Kazekage is your father."
"No one wants me," Temari mumbled as she slumped a bit. "No one wants to deal with the dual baggage of dealing with the Kazekage and Gaara as in-laws."
"And yet you know that doesn't bother Naruto-sama in the slightest," Haku pointed out. She paused for a moment, her brow furrowing in thought before a wicked grin split her face and she slid over to sit right next to the Suna kunoichi. "Perhaps you just need to relax a little. That's something that I think I can help with."
"What…"Temari cut off with a squeak as Haku reached over and ran a hand lightly across the blonde's taut stomach and down into the curly thatch between her legs. The Suna kunoichi stiffened as Haku's nimble fingers found their goal and began to tease it with light touches as she leaned over and pulled Temari closer. The dark haired kunoichi placed light kisses on the other girl's collarbone as her free hand caressed the blonde's pert breasts. "What are you doing," Temari managed to gasp out between involuntary moans.
"Naruto-sama has grown very fond of you, Temari-san," Haku replied huskily as she slowly kissed her way up the other girl's throat. "Just as my duties call upon me to relieve his tensions, I offer my services to you as well. You are, after all, likely to be the one he chooses as a bride. Tell me, Temari-san, do you really want me to stop now?"
A soft moan of pleasure was the only answer.
Naruto was tired, hot and quickly becoming frustrated with his new training. Ebisu had shown the blonde the basics for a very simple katon jutsu and it was not working at all. For some reason Naruto was unable to convert his chakra into fire, even with the help of the focusing hand seals. After about three hours of trying, he had yet to produce anything more than a little bit of smoke that made him hack and wheeze like an old man.
"Perhaps fire is not a suitable element for you," Ebisu mused, ignoring the Sasuke-like glare of death that the blonde directed his way. "Fuuton and katon are usually very compatible elements and can feed each other to become a more powerful jutsu. Perhaps a suiton or ration would suit you better, though I doubt we'd have any luck with doton. Earth is rarely compatible with wind."
"That's right," Naruto said, snapping his fingers in realization. "Haku-chan said that she uses fuuton and suiton to make her hyoton work. Maybe I can do something similar…"
"It's unlikely, Naruto-kun," Ebisu said, cutting the genin short. "To fully combine two elements and create a new one is the province of bloodline limits. Like how the Shodaime Hokage was able to use Mokuton jutsu, this Haku of yours must have a bloodline that allows them to create hyoton. We'll focus on suiton for now. The first jutsu uses six hand seals…"
Naruto half tuned the jounin out as he heard a disturbing giggle coming from the bushes that flanked a wall by a nearby onsen. If he looked closely there was a white-haired man with his face glued to the privacy fence, probably looking through a knothole. This thoroughly irritated the blonde. He had accidentally seen Temari clad in only a towel that morning, but that had been an accident. This guy was committing a crime!
"Naruto-kun, are you listening to me," Ebisu said loudly, irritation in his voice. The blonde's attention snapped back to the jounin as he continued. "If you will not pay attention, you will be wasting both of our time…"
"Sorry, but there's a weird guy over there peeping on the women's bath," Naruto told the jounin. "At least I hope it's the women's bath, cause then it would go from creep and wrong to sick and wrong."
Ebisu turned around in outrage to see the older man crouching by the fence and called out, "You over there, desist in your actions immediately or I will be forced to punish you!" The man merely gestured with his hand for the jounin to leave him alone, but the bespectacled shinobi's face grew scarlet with anger. "I warn you that I am a jounin of Konohagakure and I will not permit such lewd actions!"
"Aw, the girls all left," the white-haired man whined, turning to glare at Ebisu. "I guess I'll just have to teach you a lesson about disturbing my important research."
"How dare you," Ebisu exclaimed as he rushed forward to strike the older man, only to be carelessly swatted aside. The bespectacled jounin was sent flying off into a wall by a casual seeming blow that made Naruto's eyes narrow. Ebisu slid to the ground slowly, completely unconscious.
"Pathetic," the white-haired man said with a short derisive laugh. "If that's all Konoha's jounin are capable of these days, then they've really lowered their standards."
Naruto felt a tic form under his eye as he stared at his fallen substitute teacher for a long moment. He spun and pointed an accusatory finger at the oddly dressed man and shouted, "Who the hell do you think you are? That guy may have been a wuss, but he was actually teaching me some things until you showed up!"
"Hehe," the older man chuckled as he was suddenly engulfed in a cloud of smoke that slowly cleared to reveal him standing on top of an extremely large orange toad. It was bigger than even the Inuzuka dogs and Naruto was ready to be impressed until the mysterious an opened his mouth again. "Pay attention, gaki! I'm the holy sennin of Mokubyuoyama, one of the Densetsu no Sannin, the gamasennin Jiraiya!" He posed ridiculously on top of the toad and the blonde felt a sweatdrop begin to form.
"And all that gives you the right to beat on a shinobi who was trying to stop a pervert like you from peeping on the women's onsen?" Naruto scowled at the older ninja, who huffed himself up to look indignant.
"If he's going to take on a role like that, then he should be capable of backing up his words with skill and strength. Besides, you look like you're just a snot nosed genin who couldn't understand the true genius behind my masterwork," Jiraiya stated as he reached into his top and pulled out a small orange book. "Behold the long awaited sequel to Icha Icha Paradise: Icha Icha Violence! If you behave, I might even let you take an advance peek at what is sure to be my newest bestseller."
"I have never met such an irredeemable pervert," Naruto said with a sigh as Jiraiya puffed himself up proudly. "Even Kakashi-sensei has limits to his perversion, since her just walks around reading that smut in public. But you…you actually peep on bathhouses and write about it?!"
"Of course," Jiraiya replied matter-of-factly, noticing that a strong wind was beginning to pick up around them. "I need inspiration for my novels. I have researched at virtually every onsen in the Elemental countries and the border countries as well."
"Then a whole lot of women are going to be grateful when I send you to hell," Naruto growled, his eyes glowing faintly blue as he lashed out with a punch into the empty air, sending a concentrated burst of wind at the perverted sennin. Jiraiya's hands ran through a set of hand seals and the long white hair stretched to extend around him and formed a spiky cocoon. While this did blunt the force of the wind some, there was still more than enough strength to send him flying through the wall behind him and across the steaming pool of the onsen where he impacted the large rocks that formed the other side hard enough to daze him.
Temari wasn't sure whether she felt grateful as the old man burst through the wall and was flattened against the far side of the onsen or not. While it was true that she had been completely surprised by Haku's advances, she'd been surprised to find that there was a part of her that actively welcomed them and the pleasure the other kunoichi had been giving her.
"Ara," Haku said, pulling herself slightly off Temari's body to see what had caused all of the noise. "What's going on?" A groan from the pile of white hair was the only immediate response.
"Ha," a familiar male voice shouted smugly, making Temari tense up in panic. "That's what you get for being such a pervert!" A familiar orange outfit came into view as Naruto bounced into the onsen area through the new hole in the wall.
"Naruto-sama," Haku called out in a confused tone, "what are you doing?"
"Jus beating down on an old pervert, Haku-chan," the blonde replied automatically before turning his head to fully realize the presence of the two kunoichi and their…unusual positions. "Haku-chan…and Temari-chan?!" A trickle of blood dribbled from Naruto's nose for a moment before erupting into a spray with terrific hydraulic force that sent him to the ground and unconsciousness.
Haku moved immediately to Naruto's side to check on him as Temari slid over to reach for her towel. As she turned her head, she saw the white-haired man had recovered from his crash and was frantically scribbling something down on paper and giggling in a disturbing manner. A flush of rage overwhelmed Temari's face as her hand changed course to grab her battle fan instead of the towel. Glad that she hadn't left the house without her weapon, the Suna kunoichi snapped the fan open and swung it at the older man with a yell of "Daikamaitachi!"
The chakra driven wind caught the white-haired man by surprise and threw him high into the sky and far away as Temari huffed in anger, which did some rather impressive things to her chest. "Damn perverts," she muttered as she snapped the fan closed and wrapped herself in the towel she'd originally been reaching for.
Sorry this has taken so long, but my muse has been on a long vacation and is only willing to work part time right now, plus real life has gotten fairly busy. My stories will continue and be updated, but there may be some long delays at times.