Chapter One – Learning About Yourself

Bold- Kyuubi/Demon talking

Italics - Inner Monologues

" "- Character talking to another character

Summary: What happened when Naruto and Jiraiya leave on their 3 year training mission? What if Naruto learned more then he could ever imagine about himself and becoming a great ninja? AN: I have not decided on any pairings and Naruto will become strong and intelligent during this trip.

AN: I do not own Kishimoto's work or characters. I only own the rights to the original characters that I create.

AN: Please review the story. It helps me know that you are enjoying it. Also, please discuss any ideas of gaps in the current canon that should have been addressed during the training.

As Naruto and Jiraiya walked away from the gates of Konohagakure, there was an unusual silence as the two warriors left their birthplace. Naruto was lost in thought trying to grasp what was being asked of him. First, he was going to leave the only home he had ever known for three years. Second, he was going to have grown strong enough to defeat an organization of S-class shinobi known as the Akatsuki. Finally, he was going to grow strong enough to defeat Sasuke and save himself from himself. Each of these tasks could be overwhelming for anyone let alone a thirteen year old boy.

The Toad Sage was likewise in deep thought processing how much his life had changed. First, he found the son of his favorite pupil and one of the greatest ninjas in the history of the Five Elemental Nations, Namikaze Minato. Second, his sensei lost his life to his former best friend. Finally, he realized that the powerful organization Akatsuki threatened the elemental nations; and he had to protect and train one knuckleheaded, unpredictable ninja to thwart that organization's plans.

So where do we start? Naruto has so much room to improve in that it's almost overwhelming. Currently in regards to ninjutsu, he is effective in summoning Kage Bunshins and he is a fair control on the Rasengan. Moreover in taijutsju, he is more of a brawler then having a refined style or two. With regards to genjutsu, we may be starting in a hole since Naruto's chakra control is so shaky. Finally as a strategist, Naruto's in battle adjustments are phenomenal, but he still lacks enough control to size up his opponents or surroundings. He usually attacks first and just adjusts later, but against the kind of opponents that he will face that will not cut it. Jiraiya sized up his pupil, and just wondered how much research that he could get done on this trip with this kind of work.

"Naruto, I want you to answer a question for me as honestly as you can." Jirayai said in a serious manner that caught Naruto's attention. "I want you to analyze yourself as a shinobi and tell me what we should work on." Jiraiya said in a serious manner.

Naruto put a hand behind his head and thought about this question. "Well Ero-sennin, I think that my taijutsu is solid, but I am definitely not on the level of someone like Lee. I think that I am horrible at genjutsu. I think that I have a few good jutsus but I could always use some more diversity. "He finished his analysis waiting for his sensei to response.

Jiraiya nodded. "Naruto, I agree with what you said, and it is important for a great shinobi to honestly analyze inwardly to determine your weaknesses. Shinobi who cannot see past their strengths only ignore their weaknesses. Remember that you break a chain at its weakest link, so to improve your weaknesses makes you a stronger shinobi." Naruto nodded as he understood that his sensei was right.

Jiraiya stopped and he found a rock near the path and sat down. He motioned for Naruto to sit down next to him. He wanted Naruto to pay attention to what he was about to explain. "I think that you have learned some great techniques like Rasengan and Kage Bunshins, but we definitely need to work on diversifying your techniques. I think we will need to explore improving your arsenal and also fully developing out all your techniques to the fullest expression. It is not enough to know a bunch of jutsu if you cannot creatively apply it. Your taijutsu is more of a brawler style, and we will need to explore how to refine it, so you can inflict more damage without having to take such a direct beating. In regards to your genjutsu, I am not going to be naïve enough to believe that you will be able to cast them, but we have to make you an expert in detecting and dispelling them."

"However, I want you to know that we must improve you mentally and physically to be able to absorb the training that you will be undergoing." Naruto nodded but he wondered what Jiraiya had in mind for the mental aspect of his training. "

"Do not worry about me. I will do whatever it takes to become the strongest shinobi and make Ojiisan proud of me- count on it!" Naruto flashed that confident smile and used the good guy thumb that he picked up from Gai-sensei.

Thank Kami that he just picked up that thumbs up pose from Gai. Man, I would shudder to have that goof ball with that green monstrosity of an outfit on. Jiraiya laughed to himself picturing Naruto in a green spandex outfit with a ridiculous blond bowl haircut.

"Now, I know you have trained in the past, but I want to work on your physical stamina, speed, and strength to support the type of shinobi that I want you to become. Additionally, I know it may seem silly to you, but we have to work on the mental aspects of being a shinobi." Naruto looked quizzically at his sensei not fully appreciating what he was getting at. Jiraiya continued. "Naruto, I am not talking about written tests, but I think we have to work on the mentality and strategies that you employ when you approach opponents and battle. Right now, you kind of rush in first, and just adjust by the skin of your teeth. Normally, you survive a battle because of your superhuman healing ability. If it was not for this, then you would be on the memorial stone in the village."

Naruto's eye twitched, and he yelled, "I have defeated some strong warriors, so I cannot be that big of a dummy!"

Jiraiya realizing that Naruto was taking it the wrong way took a different approach. "Okay, Naruto I will definitely give you that you have hung with some great warriors, but I want you to think back to your battles with Neji, Kiba, and even Sasuke at the valley. In each of those battles, you were down for the count, but the Kyuubi's chakra and healing factor were able to help you overcome those strong opponents. However, when you fight Itachi or Kisame, you will not survive that first onslaught to let the Kyuubi's gifts help you."

Naruto thought about those battles and he had to agree that he had taken quite a pounding in those battles. He flashed back to his battle with Gaara and how he could barely crawl to Gaara before his siblings took him away.

"You see if you could improve your ability to analyze your opponents and strategy and combine that with a better physical presence, then you could take the best features of Shikamaru and Lee. You can incorporate their strengths into your skills, and improve the type of warrior you are. I am not saying we are going to copy those exact techniques, but as warriors they can keep up with anyone by simply being strong in those areas." Jiraiya hoped that these ideas were sinking in.

Naruto could see what Jiraiya was saying because Lee had taken Gaara to his limit and all he could use was his taijutsu. Lee had beaten Sasuke and his Sharingan with simple taijutsu before the Chunin exam. Shikamaru, was able to keep the Oto-nin from catching up with Naruto, Sakura, and Pakuun when they chased Gaara and Sasuke during the invasion. He also was able to beat Temari who knew about his shadow technique but still caught her off guard. For sure, Temari had deadlier techniques with her wind, but Shikamaru was able to use his surroundings to catch her. Naruto remembered how Shikamaru took a moment to sit and think of the strategy during that match.

"Okay Ero-sennin, what do I have to do?" Naruto bellowed to the Sannin. Jiraiya's eye twitched whenever he heard that nickname, and muttered to himself about kids and their lack of respect.

"First, I want to spend the next six months working on both your body and your mind. I am going to put two seals on you. One seal will be a gravity seal, which will evenly make your body feel heavier without the stress that the traditional weights put on your joints. With the Kyuubi's healing factor, you will be able to get adjusted to the strain on your joints. The second seal is a variation of the seal that Orochimaru placed on you during the Chunin exams. Instead of just blocking the Kyuubi's chakra, we are going to restrict your access to most of your chakra. The seal will have a fail safe which allows you or me to remove it without issue if we do run into trouble. The goal of these exercises is to build your natural strength and to reduce your reliance on chakra to create speed. Additionally, when you're low on chakra during a real battle, you will still have to keep fighting. The gravity seal will be set to increase the pressure of the earth's gravity by twenty percent more then normal. Today, before I put the seal on, let us figure out what you can do."

Naruto leapt off the rock next to Toad Sage, and was raring to show how strong he was to Jiraiya. "Naruto, let's see how many push ups, sit ups, pull ups, distance you can run, speed you can sprint at." Jiraiya said with a sadistic smile on his face. For the rest of the afternoon, Jiraiya pushed Naruto's limits and Naruto responded by doing 200 pushups, 500 sit-ups, 200 pull ups, and run 10 miles in a day.

After Naruto recorded this in a journal that Jiraiya had given him to track his progress, Jiraiya then began to work on the seals that he had described to Naruto. Naruto was generally inquisitive about this topic and began to ask Jiraiya some of the fundamentals of sealing, which Jiraiya tried to explain as best he could. Realizing that Naruto would struggle to see the delicate work being done as the seals were being put on his chest, Jiraiya created a clone to demonstrate the sealing elements and explain them. Sealing was an extremely time consuming and difficult subject so Jiraiya's clones took his time, while Jiraiya etched on the seals. After a few hours, Naruto was feeling the effects of the increased gravity, which made him feel like he was about 1.2 times heavier. Also without accessing his chakra, he had to rely on his strength alone, so it added to the difficulty of moving around.

"Naruto, I want you to simply just get used to the seal for the next day or so, while we go into the next part of your training." Jiraiya noticed Naruto's difficulty moving and acclimating himself to the extra resistance. The other part of this training is to learn to focus your mind and build up your awareness. Ever since I have known you, there is no stopping your energy and recklessness, but if you truly want to excel as a ninja, then we must prepare you to focus your mind and retain calm in difficult situations. A shinobi who panics risks not only himself, but he will endanger his teammates and the mission."

Naruto thought back to his battles against Haku, and how Sasuke had to save Naruto when he went into the ice mirrors. His fist clenched at how helpless he had felt when he saw Sasuke standing over him. At the Valley of the End, he remembered how the Kyuubi had to save his life, after he rushed in several times against Sasuke who was able to easily dodge his blows without his Sharingan. He had to improve by improving his focus to handle opponents more efficiently.

"Naruto, please sit down with your legs crossed, and I want you to put your palms over your legs in this manner. Make sure your fingers touch and your palms face upward." Jiraiya sat down in a meditative stance very similar to what is done by monks and priests. Naruto followed his sensei's lead and sat in a meditative stance.

"Now, to meditate requires you to focus your mind by focusing on the power within your spirit. It requires you to slow your breathing to a steady pace, and it requires you to block out the other distractions that plague your mind. You need to fixate on the nature around you. Hear their sounds, feel the wind, and release yourself from the world's issues. In the silence of meditation, you will work through your fears, doubts, and issues, but you must allow your subconscious mind and your inner spirit to guide you. Within every person, they must come to grips with their good and bad sides. The Yin and Yang of the universe over laps us all and both forces are necessary for the greater order to survive. Order and Chaos are both necessary for life and rebirth to continue their cycle. With out a tree dying or a forest fire burning the trees, how would a new sapling grow in a fully grown forest? Without those deaths, where would the young tree find their place in the world? In death, the tree decomposes and fertilizes the young trees allowing them to grow stronger. To understand good, then you must understand evil. To know yourself, you must come to peace with both sides. " Jiraiya himself slowed his speech trying to create a more calming effect for his young pupil.

Naruto began to slow his breathing, and try to relax. He had his doubts about how effective this could be for him, but as he began to relax and breathe; stress and sadness began to lift themselves off his shoulders. He could feel his body remove tension, anger, and sadness which had felt like a physical weight on his shoulders far greater then the gravity seal that was placed on him.

As he withdrew into his mind, he found himself in front of the familiar cage of the Kyuubi. The great fox stared at the interesting kit who stood before as he had some many times recently.

What do you want kit? What brings you to my "humble" domain? The great Kitsune growled to Naruto. The boy stood wondering why did his subconscious bring him here, and then Jiraiya's words of advice came back to him saying he would have to work through his fears, doubts, and issues. It was true that there was no greater fear or issue for the young shinobi than the Nine Tailed Demon Fox.

How do you work through this? How do you reconcile with the greatest force that existed in the world? Naruto stood worried, but then he remembered that the point of this was to calm his mind and his soul. He had to make peace with the Demon Fox, if he had any hope of coming into his own as a shinobi.

"Kyuubi, I will not insult or make fun of you, as we both share my body. I do not want to fight you nor do I want to embrace your pure blood lust. I want to make peace. Please, tell me how can we find a middle ground?" Naruto said with such sincerity that the Nine Tailed Demon Fox wondered who this person was.

"We both know that if I die that we both die, so it is in both our interest that I live a long life. Also, if we could find a middle ground, maybe this seal would not be so horrible for you. You once told me that this prison looks the way it does because this is how my mind is. Maybe, if we could improve my mind maybe it will not be so bad for you." Naruto looked at the Fox hoping that the Fox would agree.

The Fox looked at the kit with a new found respect and could see the wisdom in what he said. Fine, what do you need from me? What will bring you the peace that you need to improve my living conditions? Tell me what I can do to achieve this 'middle ground' that you wish to seek.

Naruto realized that he had to make the most the opportunity, and he needed to figure out what would make things better. "I do have some questions that have bothered me. First, why did you attack the village? As a great being with all this power, why would you even bother with our village? Second, what can I do other than let you go free or take over me that would make you calmer and happier? If you could be comfortable, then maybe you could just sleep and relax? Maybe, if I do this, then you could let me access your power while you're sleeping to help just in case. Do you have family? Have you ever felt love? Even if you hate me, in reality, you're a part of me and I must understand you to understand myself.

The great demon pondered the questions carefully for a few minutes. Kit, what you ask has never been asked of me by a human. I had to take a minute to answer you. I attacked your village not because I wanted to, but I was summoned. When I was summoned, I had very little control of my mind. The man who had summoned me has eyes similar to your supposed friend, Sasuke. Your friend, the one who tried to kill us both, has eyes similar to that vile man. He is a relation to the one that they call, Uchiha Madara. He is the one who summoned me. As to why, I am not sure.

Now, as to my personal life, I did have a family. My kits are with their mother in the demon realm waiting for my return. My children will all grow powerful like me, and one day they will be feared as the greatest forces in the world. When we die, I will simply return to the demon realm to join them until Kami calls me to do his will. To answer your questions, I do know love and caring. I talk to my family who call to me in my dreams. We can speak to each other with our thoughts similar to how we talk to each other when you are awake.

Without seeing them, I am angry for my fate. I have vengeance to the one who called me for his own purposes. Your weakness has always angered me because I do not know if you will ever be strong enough to get vengeance on the Uchiha.

Finally, I hate this sewer that I call home. Release the image of this sewer and give me a forest with green grass, trees, game to hunt, and a river. Allow me the space to roam, and I will bide my time without interfering with you. If you do this, then I will grant you ready access to my chakra. I will warn you though, that you will struggle as you get more then four of my tails, as my spirit will be 40 percent of your power. The more that I become your source of power, then the greater my personality will be in your world. It will take an incredible soul to withstand my presence when I grant you more of my power. Therefore, if you want to find balance, you must learn to control the power of three of my tails. After this level, your mind must be able to balance the urges that come with my personality. Your mind must be ready. Now, grant me my new home.

Naruto, pondered the story that the Kyuubi told him. He had a family? He loved his family? He was angry for being trapped for something that he did not care to do? Naruto could understand why someone could feel this anger if they were blamed for something that was not in their control. The Uchiha summoned the Fox? Sasuke was related to this Uchiha Madara. He had to talk to Jiraiya about this. Now, how do I fix this place? He began to realize that this prison was his anger and mind. As he released some of his own sadness, anger, and hate. As he began to empathize with the Kyuubi, he could begin to change the mindscape into the world that the Kyuubi requested. The cage melted away, and was replaced with the collar that seemed to be tied to the sky line of the forest. The chain just went into the sky, where the seal still confined him to the limits of this world. As he did this, the Kyuubi was for the first time in thirteen years happy, as he could lie down on soft grass. The Kyuubi was grateful to his jailer, and knew that he would keep his promise to find a balance that would benefit both of them. As he lay down under a large tree with an opening, he looks at Naruto. I will honor my promise, kit.

Naruto awoke from his trance, and found that the night sky was coming up. Jiraiya was preparing camp around the area where they had meditated. He was sitting by the fire, and he smiled at his young pupil while holding a cooked rabbit on a stick. "How was your meditation? Did you learn anything? You must have considering you have been meditating for over three hours."

Naruto realized he would have a lot to talk about with the perverted Sannin, but for now he had to eat!