Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto in any way shape or form. Seriously, if you're smart enough to find this on the web then you're smart enough to figure that out. Now that I've gotten that out of the way I just want to say something: the reason why I'm starting this instead of continuing to work on Wraith of the Shinigami is because I wanted to get away from bloodline stories. Basically I want to show that canon Naruto can be a great ninja if he's given just a little help.
Jiraiya was not happy at all. Originally Jiraiya had been on his way to Wave Country in order to follow up some money trails that his spy network had detected. However, Jiraiya had that little spy mission on hold when he stumbled across Team 7 heading towards Wave as well. The old Sannin had decided against revealing himself to the team, and instead he had been discreetly following them.
In Jiraiya's opinion, Kakashi was an abysmal genin team instructor. What was that Cyclops thinking when he decided to continue the mission after the demon brothers tried to kill the bridge builder? At the very least Kakashi should have called for backup. Thanks to Kakashi's showboating, Jiraiya had nearly been forced to reveal himself during that little fight with Zabuza. And to make matters even worse in Jiraiya's mind, Kakashi was just introducing his genin to tree climbing. That was something they should have been taught during their first week as genin!
Needless to say, Jiraiya was not amused with the antics of his number one fan. Kakashi might be one of the strongest ninjas currently living in Konoha, but that didn't necessarily mean he was suited to teach. However, even though Jiraiya wasn't happy with Kakashi, he was even less thrilled with the rest of Team 7. The Uchiha's personality was just a bit too much like Orochimaru's when the Sanin were genins for Jiraiya's comfort. Sakura was still too much of a fangirl in her outlook and that one the type of girl that could turn Jiraiya off. As for Naruto, well that was complicated.
On the one hand, Naruto was very determined to succeed and was too stubborn to give up on anything. But on the other hand, the boy was too hyper and seemed to let information pass through one ear and out the other. Seriously, didn't the kid pay any attention in class? All and all it seemed to Jiraiya that Naruto had stamina, unpredictability, and shear determination going for him. It was obvious that it would take a lot of work to get Naruto to become a great ninja like the kid wanted to become.
A part of Jiraiya just wanted to leave Naruto alone for now and let Kakashi deal with the brat. After all, it was Kakashi's responsibility to insure that Naruto learned how to be a decent ninja. Jiraiya quickly realized what he thinking and smacked himself. Kakashi obviously wasn't going to cut it as a teacher for Naruto or the brat wouldn't be in his current condition.
Something had to be done, but what? Jiraiya couldn't just poach Naruto from Kakashi. Besides the fact that stealing a student was heavily frowned on, Jiraiya didn't want to commit himself to the time and energy of taking on a new student. However, he couldn't leave his godson in this state and hope for the best. For the next several hours Jiraiya watched as Naruto tried to get the hang of tree climbing. Finally Jiraiya figured out the answer after Naruto fell asleep from exhaustion.
In a nonchalant manner, Jiraiya whipped out a few scrolls and books from one of his summoning scrolls. Jiraiya then placed the scrolls and books on Naruto's chest. Next the toad sannin pulled out his notebook, wrote a note, and then he stuck the note on top of the scrolls. After that Jiraiya looked over his work and muttered, "Don't disappoint me brat. Show me that you're willing to take the next step."
Naruto groggily started to wake up when the sun first started to rise in the sky. As Naruto raised his hand to rub the sleep from his eyes his elbow knocked over the stack of scrolls. When Naruto heard the scrolls fall he muttered, "Huh? What's going on?" Once his vision cleared up, Naruto noticed the messed up pile of scrolls that were at his side. Without thinking at all Naruto practically shouted out, "Where did these come from?"
Since Naruto couldn't figure out how those scrolls and books got there, he simply decided to randomly pick one and start reading. The chosen manuscript happened to be a book on Chakra that was titled 101 Ways to use Chakra for Dummies. At first Naruto wanted to chuck the book since it seemed to be one of those theory books that he could never get. But then Naruto remembered that tree walking was a method of using Chakra and there was the chance that the book contained cool tricks like that.
101 Ways to use Chakra for Dummies captured Naruto's attention from the get go. The book was written in an easy to follow manner that explain Chakra in a manner that Naruto could understand. Unlike the lectures at the academy, this book was able to catch and hold Naruto's attention. Amazingly, Naruto was so caught up in what the text was telling him that he didn't skip to a chakra exercise as soon as the book mentioned them.
Naruto was so engrossed in the book that he didn't notice Kakashi come out of the house and approach. Naturally Kakashi was a little worried about the book and scrolls surrounding Naruto. The boy hadn't brought them with him and Kakashi knew that neither of his other students would let Naruto borrow a book. Just as Kakashi was about to confiscate the book in Naruto's hand, Kakashi noticed the note that was lying on the ground. After picking up and reading Jiraiya's note Kakashi said, "Naruto. Do you know where these books and scrolls came from?"
The blond genin looked up and replied, "Uh, no Kakashi. Does it really matter where the books came from?"
Kakashi let out a small sigh and tired to enlighten his foolish student. "Yes Naruto, it does matter. You've got to look underneath the underneath. These books could have been planted by an enemy as a trap. Luckily, these were left by an ally of the village who was passing through so it's okay to read them. Next time Naruto, please use your head."
Naruto shrugged his shoulders, nodded his head, and then said, "Understood. But Kakashi, why would anyone set a trap with books? Wouldn't ramen be better bait for a trap?" Kakashi decided to not dignify that last comment and left Naruto alone to read his book. After all, it wasn't like Naruto would apply what was in those books in real life and Kakashi was happy to not have Naruto bugging him for jutsus.
It took Naruto most of the day to read through 101 Ways to use Chakra for Dummies. As soon as Naruto finished the last page of the book he looked around and screamed out, "What! I blew off the whole day? Great, just great, now I'll have to work twice as hard to catch up on my training."
Before Naruto could get up, Kakashi suddenly appeared in front of Naruto and said, "Hold on there Naruto. You're going strait inside the house. It wouldn't be wise to spend two nights out here in a row. Now collect your things and head in." Naruto started to grumble about not being able to practice, but he did as he was told. There was no way he'd let Sakura get the idea that he was an immature child by disobeying Kakashi's command.
When Naruto and Kakashi entered the house Sasuke and Sakura were already sitting down at the table for dinner. Dinner was a fairly quiet affair since Naruto was sitting off to the end of the table silently pouting about not getting any training in. None of the other members wanted to hear Naruto complain about missing out on training, so they kept their voices down and didn't mention anything remotely like training.
Once dinner was over Kakashi had Naruto and Sasuke go to their room and told them to get plenty of sleep for their training tomorrow. This left Naruto with a bit of a problem. He wasn't tired enough to go to sleep yet since he hadn't spent the day training. For a second Naruto thought about sneaking out for some late night training, but then he remembered that Sakura wouldn't like it if he disobeyed Kakashi.
Since Naruto couldn't train, he started to rack his brain to figure out what he could do until he got tired enough to go to bed. At first Naruto came up with the idea of talking to Sasuke to pass the time. True, Naruto didn't really want to talk to Sasuke, but it wasn't like Sakura would like him interrupting her beauty sleep.
Unfortunately for Naruto, Sasuke had already fallen asleep and he knew better then to try and wake Sasuke up once the Uchiha was asleep. Naruto had tried that once a few days ago and his butt had discovered that Sasuke thought that a kunai made a good substitute teddy bear. So, Naruto was left with only one option to keep from going bored: reading. Needless to say, Naruto wasn't too thrilled about reading since that was why he hadn't gotten any practice in today. However, boredom eventually forced Naruto to pick one of the books that he had received and read them.
This time Naruto looked at the titles and settled on a scroll that was labeled 1001 different Ninjutsu you should know or watch out for. At first Naruto was ecstatic because the scroll had dozens of high level jutsus listed. However, when Naruto started to read the higher level jutsus, he discovered that the scroll only described those jutsus in general terms. Sure the scroll allowed you to know what the higher level jutsus did so that you could recognize it being use against you, but Naruto didn't want that. He wanted to learn how to do all of these cool Jutsus.
Naruto was beginning to think about pitching the scroll when something in the Shadow Clone's description caught his eye. After reading the description again Naruto scratched his head and said, "Huh? The person using the Shadow Clone Jutsu learns whatever his shadow clones learn. Wait a second, if this is correct then I could create a whole army of shadow clones and I'll learn everything faster then Sasuke!" As soon as that thought entered Naruto's mind he continued on reading trying to see what other tricks about Shadow Clones the scroll contained.
For the rest of the week the forest around Tazuna's house was infested by a swarm of Naruto's shadow clones. Now using shadow clones in this manner can't grant the user any physical benefit. In order to get physically stronger Naruto would have tough it out and put himself in a physical conditioning regime. However, since chakra control was a mental process, Naruto was able to use his shadow clones to work on the tree walking exercise.
While the clones were trying to go back to the trees, the original Naruto spent his time working on some of the jutsus that were written on the 1001 different Ninjutsu you should know or watch out for scroll. It turned out that there were a few jutsus on the scroll that had instructions in addition to the descriptions. None of these Jutsus were above C rank, but Naruto was so happy about learning new jutsus that he didn't have time to complain about the other jutsus he couldn't learn just yet. Of course, Naruto completely disregard the D and E rank jutsus and just focused in on the available C ranked jutsus.
However, there was one small snag with Naruto's plan to learn the C rank jutsus. Since the scroll was originally made in Konoha, it only explained those moves that Konoha ninjas usually used. That meant that most of the C rank jutsus were fire style jutsus and there was no way Naruto was going to learn one of those. After all, how could he possibly prove himself to Sakura if it looked like he was copying Sasuke?
Luckily for Naruto's ego, Jiraiya had penciled in the instructions for a few C rank wind jutsus. When Naruto had read about those jutsus he just knew that they were perfect for him. After all, wind jutsus were big, strong, and made sure that your enemy remembered that you kicked their butt. Sure there weren't a whole lot of wind jutsus in the scroll, but Naruto knew that he'd have them down by the time Zabuza came back for round 2.
The rest of Team 7 had mixed feelings about Naruto's new training regime. While a part of Sakura was curious about what Naruto was doing, the dominate part of the pink haired girl's psyche was happy that Naruto wasn't bugging her. Sasuke was also curious about Naruto's training, but the last Uchiha preferred to leave Naruto alone. Since Naruto could never beat him, Sasuke figured the training would hopefully make Naruto less of a hindrance then he currently was.
As for Kakashi, he was just happy that Naruto was improving without him having to hold the boy's hand every step of the way. However, Kakashi had made some changes in how the team was running. For instance he imposed a strict curfew after which no one could leave the house and he had Naruto set some perimeter traps. It was completely unacceptable that someone had been able to get that close to the house without someone knowing. If it had been an enemy instead of a friend then Team 7 could have been slaughtered. That was one mistake that Kakashi wasn't planning on making again any time soon.
About ten days after Jiraiya left those scrolls to Naruto, Zabuza showed up for a rematch. The first sign that Zabuza had arrived was the thick mist that suddenly rolled in from the far end of the bridge. As soon as the first signs of the mist appeared Kakashi's eye narrowed and he called out, "Sakura, guard Tazuna. Naruto, Sasuke, form a line between Sakura and me. If Zabuza's partner shows up, you two will have to delay him until I finish off Zabuza.
Naruto and Sasuke quickly glanced at each other and slowly nodded in sync. They might not like each other and would rather be fighting by themselves, but somewhere deep inside their brains they knew that they'd have to depend on each other to win. After the brief pact of comradeship was made, Naruto and Sasuke turned their attention to the smaller form they saw in the mist. That shadowy form had to be their target and both of them were eager to fight.
Sakura was mentally a mess as she took her assigned spot next to Tazuna. On the one hand she was happy that she wasn't on the front line of the fight. But, on the other hand she didn't like the idea of Naruto backing Sasuke up. After all, Naruto would just be a big target and Sasuke would have to work twice as hard to defend himself and Naruto.
Haku looked at Naruto and Sasuke trying to figure out how he should handle the two of them. It was obvious to Haku that in terms of physical skill, Sasuke was the bigger threat. However, Haku remembered from Zabuza's first fight with the duo that he couldn't discount Naruto. While Naruto was more unrefined then Sasuke, the blonde's unpredictability was enough to put him at about the same threat level.
The battle of the students opened with Haku throwing a spread of Senbon needles towards Naruto and Sasuke. Naturally both boys dodged the needles; though Sasuke's doge was a lot more graceful then Naruto's. Haku followed his opening attack by jumping towards the duo, landing on his hands, and delivered to head kick to both genin.
Naruto and Sasuke quickly recovered from Haku's opening combo and immediately retaliated. Sakura and Tazuna watched on in silent shock as the three boys entered a taijutsu battle to the death. Haku had quickly caught on to the fact that Naruto and Sasuke weren't used to fighting with a partner in close corners. Thus he was forcing the boys into close combat by getting in their faces. Since Haku was always too close to either Naruto or Sasuke, the other couldn't attack Haku with a jutsu.
However, things weren't all peachy for Haku. While Zabuza had trained Haku to fight multiple opponents, Zabuza had only taught Haku how to fight opponents who used similar styles. Haku simply couldn't keep track of both of his opponents and predict both of their wildly different attack patterns. Slowly, but surely, the small shallow cuts and the glancing fist blows that Haku received started to add up.
It was obvious to Haku that if he didn't do something soon, then he might slip up and either of his opponents could land a fatal blow. Haku gracefully swirled away from Naruto's attempt to punch him in the back of the head and Zabuza's apprentice rapidly went through a series of handsigns. The instant Haku finished signing, a giant dome comprised of Ice mirrors suddenly enveloped the trio. Haku capitalized on Naruto and Sasuke's momentary confusion by diving into the nearest mirror.
Naruto and Sasuke quickly moved back to back out of instinct. As they look outwards at their icy prison Naruto said, "Hey Sasuke. Lets try to blast our way out." Sasuke shot out a fireball at one mirror while Naruto tried to pound a different mirror with Gale Wind Palm.
Unfortunately, Naruto's and Sasuke's attacks only scratched their targets. Then as if to add insult to injury, both mirrors rapidly repaired themselves leaving no trace of the boys' attempt to escape. Haku's voice echoed throughout the icy prison saying, "This is my ultimate attack. Neither of you has any hope of escape. Make your peace with life for you will soon leave it."
In his usual rambunctious manner Naruto said, "Hey Sasuke. What happens when fire gets caught in a breeze?"
For a second Sasuke wanted to smack Naruto over the head. Seriously, how could Naruto even think of asking a question like that at a time like this? But then Sasuke caught on to what Naruto was suggesting and he started to grin. In a slightly less arrogant then normal manner Sasuke said, "3'oclock on 3, 1, 2, 3!" As soon as Sasuke said three he launched the largest fireball that he could make. Naruto almost instantly followed with a Great Breakthrough.
Both the Great Breakthrough and the Gale Wind Palm took relatively the same skill and chakra to perform. Where these two wind justsus differed was in how they were used. Gale Wind Palm concentrated the blast for great penetrating power. Great Breakthrough worked by creating a slightly weaker, but much larger blast to literally blow the enemy away. Thanks to this fact and how fire and wind jutsus worked, Naruto's and Sasuke's attacks merged to create an enormous, blazing hot fireball.
Haku was paralyzed in shock when he saw the roaring fireball approach him. Zabuza's apprentice tried desperately to think of a way to escape from the oncoming attack. No matter where Haku looked, he couldn't find a way to escape. Naruto and Sasuke's combined attack was big enough that no matter which mirror Haku jumped to he would be hit by the attack. Knowing that escape was impossible, Haku closed his eyes and calmly waited for the attack to hit.
Instantly after the blazing hot fireball collided with the frozen mirrors a huge explosion occurred. Both Naruto and Sasuke were forced to cover their eyes from the flares and minuscule ice shards. As soon as they could, they uncovered their eyes and gazed at the destruction they caused. While the actual damage to the structure of the bridge was light, there was vast surface scaring and there were occasional whips of smoke coming up. Naruto blinked his eyes at the damage and dumbly said, "Whoa, I didn't think we'd do this much if we teamed up."
Sasuke would have retort that he did most of the damage, if he had been paying attention to Naruto. Currently the avenger of team 7 was staring at Haku's corpse. Even though Sasuke didn't like to admit, Haku had been stronger then him. That was something that angered and exhilarated Sasuke; by beating Haku Sasuke had proved he was one step closer to beating Itachi.
However, there was one thing about the battle that infuriated Sasuke. Why hadn't his Sharingan activated? According to the Uchiha family scrolls, his battle with Haku was an almost perfect situation for the Sharingan to emerge. Sasuke's face hardened and he turned to look at Naruto. Could it be that Naruto's presence in the battle had prevented the Sharingan's emergence?
Sasuke's musing and Naruto's staring quickly ended when the two of them heard the sound of birds chirping coming from the mist where Zabuza and Kakashi were fighting. Next, they heard a meaty smack and saw a figure start to walk towards them in the mist. Both Naruto and Sasuke let out sighs of relief when they saw Kakashi immerge from the mist.
Kakashi looked at the blast damage, then at Haku's body, and then at the boys. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the two had teamed up to defeat their opponent. There was no way that Sasuke had enough chakra to create a fireball big enough to do this kind of damage. And while Naruto might have enough chakra, Kakashi knew he blond student didn't have the control or the knowledge to create a fireball capable of this kind of damage. So in his typical manner Kakashi said, "Good job you two. This is why teamwork is so important. Now why don't we go check up on Sakura and Tazuna?"
Over at Gato's compound Jiraiya was sitting at Gato's desk reading the late scum's papers. At first Jiraiya had been planning on leaving Gato alone and just gathering more information on the crime lord. Sure the toad sage didn't like what the man was doing, but taking out the crime lord would have created some tangles for Jiraiya's spy network. That had all changed when Jiraiya had discovered that Gato was into forced prostitution.
Sure Jiraiya liked to visit brothels, but forced prostitution was beyond the pail for him. After all, it was one thing when the women choose the profession and it was an entirely different thing to force a woman into that line of work. Jiraiya was the biggest pervert on the continent; however, he had a strict look but don't touch unless the woman agreed policy. In fact, Jiraiya was known to beat down any guy who groped a girl. That was why so many of the older kunoichi could stand to work with Jiraiya in spite of his peeping habits. None of Gato's men had been spared from Jiraiya's wrath during the one man assault on the base.
As Jiraiya went through Gato's ledger he could scarcely believe his luck. Gato had kept a clear record of every illegal business that he had been involved in. More then that, Gato kept a record of every public official that he had been bribing and even had them down by name. This surprised Jiraiya since crime lords usually used code phrases for their bribery accounts. Gato must have been one confident scumbag if he willing to write all of this down without trying to hide anything. Of course Jiraiya reason, this ledger was never meant to see the light of day and this was just for Gato's private viewing.
While Jiraiya was collecting the various official papers needed to put over 100 compromised officials and practically every two-bit gang in jail, a small toad hopped into the room. In all honesty Jiraiya couldn't remember who the toad was, but he could remember that the toad was one of Gamabuta's nephews. In a disinterested manner the toad sage said, "What you got to report?"
Toad sent Jiraiya a piercing glare and then replied, "Just reporting about the bridge. All of the Konoha ninjas survived the battle relatively unharmed. The Jonin took out the missing ninja with the zanbatou, while the two boys took out the other ninja with a combo fireball attack. That's all, so can I leave now?"
Jiraiya waved the toad away and said, "Sure, sure." While the toad disappeared, Jiraiya thought about the report on the bridge. From the sounds of things everything was turning out all right. Obviously, Naruto had been studying those scrolls that he had left the brat. Depending on how far Naruto came, the boy might get another gift like that the next time Jiraiya was in Konoha.
Naruto sat on Tazuna's dock as the evening star first appeared and stared out across the water. For the first time in Naruto's young life he had taken a life and it was eating him up inside. It wasn't just "an enemy" that he had killed, but a real human being with hopes and dreams. Did he, Naruto wondered; have the right to take those hopes and dreams from someone? Was he really a monster like many of the villagers claimed?
No, he couldn't be a monster. A monster wouldn't feel remorse over killing someone. Since he felt remorse over Haku's death, Naruto knew without a doubt that he wasn't a monster. But still, what was he and what right did he have to take someone else's life?
Slowly Naruto started to remember everyone that he cared for: Old man Hokage, Teuchi, Ayame, Iruka, Sakura, Kakashi, and even Sasuke. Then Naruto's mind transposed those happy memories onto what he had seen here in Wave Country. Tears started to fall as Naruto thought about his few precious people suffering like that. Naruto suddenly opened his eyes as he realized that he would do anything to prevent his friends from suffering like this. That was a reason to fight and kill someone else. Indeed, it was the only rational reason to fight.
Naruto slowly pulled one of his kunai from its storage pocket and brought the blade towards his right palm. Ever so slowly, Naruto cut his palm. The cut was deep enough so that his blood flowed, but not so deep as to create permanent damage on a normal person. Naruto closed his bloody palm and let a few drops of blood drip onto the pier. Then in a solemn manner he vowed, "I will never use lethal force against an opponent unless it's to protect someone."
For a few moments, Naruto just sat where he was and looked at his bloody fist. Then Naruto slowly opened his right hand and to his surprise a small scar was starting to form. Usually small cuts like that wouldn't leave a mark. It was the only real benefit that Naruto got from holding the Kyuubi. So why was this scar not being healed? Personally, Naruto didn't really care whether or not that cut scarred. If it didn't then oh well, but if it did scar then it would serve as a reminder of his oath.
After that Naruto stood up and headed towards Tazuna's house. For a second Naruto thought about joining in the celebratory feast that the bridge builder was throwing, but then Naruto decided against it. There was a major reason why Naruto didn't want to join in the party, besides the fact that he never really felt comfortable around large crowds of people. That fight on the bridge had made Naruto realize that he still had a long way to go before he could match Old man Hokage or even Kakashi. If Naruto was going to protect everyone that he cared about, he'd have to train a lot harder. That meant he needed to break out those books again and study them.
Back at the Iruka had always said that the worst thing for a ninja was to be blind to one's own weaknesses. Naruto had always wondered, when he wasn't ditching school that is, what Iruka meant by that. Now that Naruto knew exactly what Iruka meant, he was determined to correct his faults. Even if it meant studying, Naruto would take it like a man and study those books.
Jiraiya set several scrolls down near Naruto and started to chuckle. Once Naruto started to read these scrolls, the brat would be ready to be his apprentice.
In the morning Naruto woke up and looked at the scrolls that littered all around him. Naruto's curiosity got the better of him and so he picked one of the scrolls up. He then broke the seal and read, "1001 to peek on babes without getting caught? Kakashi! This is NOT what I meant when I said I wanted more training!"