Chapter Dedication: goes to my first and only beta, like ever: Mischievious Kitsune, who makes sure I'm not making stupid grammatical errors and the like. Thanks Misch!
Author's Note: Aight, multiple people have pointed out a seeming inconsistency about Naruto's taijutsu abilities. Let me babble about what I was thinking, and then you can tell me if it's totally idiotic or whatever.
My thoughts here are 1 – Gai is only 14, so he may still be an expert, but likely not as good as he was, and unlike Lee, Gai can use his chakra so I would assume he was a bit more balanced at this point, closer to him leaving the Academy, than he is portrayed as being later.
2 – Naruto essentially beat Gai because he used Ninjutsu in tandem with his taijutsu, which Gai did not do.
3 – Gai has an actual taijutsu STYLE, the Strong Fist Style. Naruto has no style, really. As noticed by Asuma and Genma during the Trials, Naruto looks to have hodge-podged things together into whatever works for him. This seems accurate to me in the manga as well. Naruto has a rough around the edges fight thing going on that is more vicious, improvised fist-fighting than any kind of actual martial arts (of course this is before he learns the Frog Katas in the manga).
4 – Naruto recognizes this and states that his taijutsu is sloppy because of it. He says it nonexistent because he doesn't have a specific style that was ever taught to him, not because he can't throw a punch. He doesn't know martial arts as much as he just hits things. So… he's kind of comparing his taijutsu to the likes of Gai, Lee or Neji (or also Sasuke) who all have specific taijutsu forms, which Naruto does not have.
5 – Naruto has (at least) seen Gai fight before, and had a pretty good idea of what to expect, which gives Naruto an extra hand up over Gai.
Make sense? Cool.
Someone asked me where I get my Japanese… I use an online translation dictionary, a link to which is now in my profile. Also there is a link to Wikipedia's article about Japanese Honorifics, which is informative.
Disclaimer: Naruto and etc. aren't mine, but there is a growing collection of original characters that will undoubtedly make their appearances.
Namikaze Brothers Arc One : Magirekomu Bettenchi (to be lost in another world)
Chapter 07 – Hyakunan (all sorts of trouble)
Six months after arrival…Konohagakure
Naruto scaled the side of the Hokage's tower with a smirk hidden behind his usual scarf. He paused outside of the Hokage's open office window, listening for any conversation from within. The office was silent and Naruto crept up and in, crouching on the sill to look around the room. It was empty save for his father who was draped over his desk, snoring softly. Naruto blinked at the sight, a bit shocked to see the man sleeping, before grinning deviously and slipping into the room on silent feet. He looked around for a minute, taking in the mostly clean desk, the semi-organized shelving along one wall and an overflowing stack of scrolls and papers on a chair near the desk.
Naruto pulled a senbon and a small slip of paper from his pouch, and walked up the wall, wrapping the paper tag around the needle carefully. Keeping an eye on the Hokage, who was starting to drool on the scroll under his head, Naruto moved to the ceiling, moving as silently upside down as he had when moving across the floor. He positioned himself just above his father, and dangled the senbon from between his fingers, aiming its point towards the flat expanse of desk just to the side of his head. He let go.
The needle landed with a whisper of sound, sticking into the wood straight up and making the man twitch, but he didn't wake up. Naruto held his breath to keep himself from laughing. A second later the tag went off.
A muffled boom echoed from the tag, sending a small shockwave outward that was enough to rattle the stack of scrolls off the chair, but not loud enough to make the windows rattle. It was nothing more than a sound, not harmful and not even very loud, but Naruto knew what a shock to the system that small tag was when it went off right next to someone's head.
The reaction from the Hokage was immediate and impressive.
Minato flashed from his seat to across the room and somewhere in the process peppered the distance between him and his desk with something like forty kunai, ruffling the papers on his desk and knocking the slim senbon from its point and into the wall behind his chair.
Naruto blinked and stared at the man, having no idea when he pulled all those kunai or from where, and somewhat impressed that he had managed to hit the tiny needle, let alone make it stick into another object.
"Cool," Naruto said, grinning from the ceiling and still inspecting all the weaponry his father had thrown.
Minato stared at him, another kunai in his hand, and Naruto pointed to the senbon in the wall. "How did you do that, kiiroi-ani?"
His father let out a sharp breath and narrowed his eyes at him. "Naruto."
"Heya!" Naruto said, chuckling as he let himself fall from the ceiling, flipping to land on top of the desk. He pulled one of the kunai out of the wood and looked back at his father, grinning widely. "You just about jumped out of your skin, kiiroi-ani. Do you have any idea how hilarious that was?"
Minato frowned, twirled the kunai around his finger once and then let it fly straight at him. Naruto used the one in his hand to deflect it, jumping off the desk at the same time. He grinned and looked back at the other man, twirling his own kunai around his finger.
"I just snuck up on the Yondaime," Naruto chirped, quite pleased with himself. Minato's eyes narrowed.
"Naruto," Minato sighed.
"Did you know that you snore?" Naruto asked, still grinning widely. "And I'm pretty sure that you were drooling on your paperwork."
Something changed in the man's face and Naruto dodged before he even knew what he'd be dodging. The Yondaime disappeared just as he moved, and the man's foot whistled past his ear. Naruto felt a hand grip the cloth of his jacket just behind his neck and he was thrown down fast and hard to the floor. The force of it knocked the wind out of him and he looked up to see his father standing over him, one of his feet placed squarely on his chest. The Yondaime smirked and leaned down, resting his elbow on his knee.
"You know," he said conversationally, easily holding Naruto down with his weight planted on his foot and his heal digging into his chest just below his ribcage. "I wouldn't be much of a Hokage if I couldn't even beat my own little brother."
Naruto scowled and let out a gruff, "hmph," as he struggled to push on the foot holding him pinned to the floor.
"Hokage-sama!" A voice called out, and two masked ANBU were suddenly in the office. One of them had his sword drawn, while the other was crouched into a ready fighting stance with a kunai in hand. The two stalled, seemingly somewhat confused by the scene that greeted them. Naruto scowled at them, making Minato chuckle lightly.
"I'm fine," he said, waving his hand at them. The two ANBU stood straight, putting weapons away, though they didn't leave. Naruto looked the two over then narrowed his attention back to the man pinning him to the floor.
"Oi!" Naruto called, pushing against the man's shin, "get off me, kiiroi-ani!"
"Did you learn your lesson, little brother?"
"Learn my–" Naruto growled, "let's go out to the training grounds and I'll show you how well I learned my lesson."
His father laughed and moved away, allowing Naruto to get to his feet, grumbling about show-off Hokages.
Naruto stood off to the side, his arms crossed and scowling as his father dismissed the two ANBU and began collecting his weapons. The ANBU both shot looks at him before leaving out the door, no doubt not going very far.
"They're going to be in a bad mood for days," Minato said, pocketing kunai and shuffling through the papers that had fallen off the chair to the floor.
"Why is that?"
"You got in here without them knowing." Minato shot him a smile from his crouch on the floor. He glanced at a couple of the scrolls in his hand before curling his nose at them and tossing them onto the chair with the rest of the paperwork and scrolls. "That you got past their guard is no doubt rubbing them raw."
Naurto smirked. "They weren't guarding the window."
Minato glanced at him then shook his head, standing. "The window again?"
Naruto shrugged. "It's easier than the door."
"There are more traps littering the outside of this tower than most of the training fields combined," Minato said.
Naruto shrugged again, not bothering to contradict his statement.
Minato walked around the desk and pulled the senbon from the wall. Naruto took the opportunity to drag another chair across the floor and perched himself in front of the man's desk. Minato inspected the burned off tag on the needle as he sat in his own chair.
"What sort of tag was it?"
"A sound blast," Naruto said. "Got the idea from fighting against Oto (1). Those guys had the most annoying attacks, but their ears tended to be real sensitive, so those little sound tags worked well if I could get them to go off right near their heads. Would disorient the hell out of most of them."
Naruto blinked. "Oh, yea. It was… you sure you want to know?"
Minato sighed and leaned back in his chair, twirling the needle between his fingers as he regarded his son-made-brother. "From your tone, I take it that the information is somewhat more detailed than initially expected."
Naruto half-shrugged. "Depends. Let's just say that it's a ninja village that doesn't exist yet but probably will."
Minato was silent for a minute. "I see."
Minato watched the needle weave through his fingers and Naruto remained silent, recognizing the thoughtful look on the man's face.
Naruto looked back at him, wondering if the man knew enough from what Naruto had told him to put some of the pieces together and puzzle out exactly where the Sound ninjas had come from. He rather suspected that the man had. Minato seemed to have a rather good memory and Naruto had told quite a bit of the story of his life. He was never very good at hiding things, especially from people whom he knew and trusted. Having Jiraiya standing there while he told the story made him much more likely to speak more of the details than if he wasn't. Jiraiya, Naruto trusted almost implicitly.
"Gamahade informed me that you and Jiraiya suspect that Orochimaru could be behind the capture of Team Inoske," Minato suddenly said, still watching the needle and his fingers.
"It's possible, but there was nothing that we found to support the theory," Naruto said.
"Where is the theory coming from?"
"What I know of him."
Minato nodded and set the senbon down on his desk, looking up at him. "You didn't get any information from the Iwa ninjas who were involved?"
"No." Naruto pulled in an irritated breath. "One of them escaped, but with the team's injuries, we couldn't afford to go after him."
"That is unfortunate. None of Inoske's team were able to get anything out of their captors either. They don't know why they were captured or where they were being taken."
Naruto remained silent for a while, debating on what he should or shouldn't say or if it even mattered. "It seems too early for Orochimaru to be going after bloodlines," Naruto said, giving up on trying to figure out if he shouldn't say something about some possible future that was already obviously going to be different. "I don't know when he started, but I didn't think he started to go after fancy genetics until after he left Akatsuki but," Naruto shrugged, "I don't really know."
"None of Team Inoske had a bloodline limit that was extremely impressive," Minato said. "However, both the Yamanaka and Morino lines are powerful in their own right, even if they aren't as popular." His father waved a hand dismissively and sat forward in his chair, leaning one elbow on his desk. "They are fine, by the way."
Naruto nodded. "I know. I hung around the hospital until the medic-nins said that Ibiki and Nanami were stable."
"Shimizu Nanami," Minato said. "The poison was slow-acting and eating at her chakra coils. She'll be in recovery for a week or more, and her body will be slowly healing for another month. The damage to Ibiki was far less; he had received a smaller dosage. That poison isn't anything the medics had seen before."
"Iwa is using a new poison?" Naruto asked it only as half a question. "Can't be a good thing," he mumbled, slouching in his chair.
"No, it's not." Minato's chuckle was humorless. "Though, Iwa is not known for their poisons, that is more of a Kiri or Suna technique."
"Or Oto," Naruto said, darkly.
The Hokage didn't respond to his comment, and the office descended into a semi-comfortable silence. Naruto pulled in a deep breath, remembering the sounds of confusion and barely restrained chaos in the medical ward as they had worked to identify the poison and heal the damage it was wreaking. Naruto wondered, briefly, if the team had been captured before – in Naruto's original time, and if so what had happened to them. But there was no way for him to know.
"Naruto," his father said, drawing his attention. Naruto blinked at the considering look the other blonde was giving him. "What do you know of Konoha's Torture and Interrogation Department?"
Minato pulled out a folder and tossed it across the desk. Naruto caught it before it slid off to the floor and with a look at his father, let it fall open. The first page was a short report, detailing the need for additional Shinobi that could aid the T.I. Department outside of the village. He skimmed it quickly before flipping the page over, and was met with his own short Shinobi Bio. It said very little, as he knew it would, and had all the earmarks of a Shinobi walking around under a code name. He had once seen both Sai's and Yamato's bios and both had looked very much like the one he was now staring at. There would be another hidden away somewhere, with his real name and information on it, likely stamped with a red confidential mark and under a host of traps. He wondered where his father had hid it.
Naruto stared at the bio for a moment before raising his eyebrows at his father. Minato was sitting with his elbows on the desk, his chin resting in his palms, watching him.
"Keep going," Minato said.
Naruto flipped through the next few pages, taking in the identities of three other ninjas, and ending with another short report that detailed how the proposed new team could compliment each other on missions that aided and pertained to the T.I. Department. With his quick look over the report, he figured he agreed. His skills would compliment the others.
"What," Naruto started then stopped, staring at his father. Minato simply watched him in return, his gaze still considering, and making Naruto somewhat nervous under the scrutiny.
"You want me to join the Torture and Interrogation Department?" Naruto asked, somewhat incredulous, but even more surprised. He hadn't ever thought of joining the department, like he had never considered joining the ANBU. Their more structured ways hadn't quite agreed with him. His preferences and techniques were more suited to out-in-the-open sort of missions, not the sneaking around behind masks stuff that the ANBU did.
"No," Minato said, staring him in the eye, "I want you to become a Hunter-nin."
"A Hunter?" Naruto glanced back at the folder of profiles. He knew the others. He had just rescued most of them from captivity. It was essentially Inoske's team, though he would apparently be replacing Kurenai. He wondered, briefly, what the girl would do otherwise. Then he wondered if he would remain sane after being placed on the same team as Morino Ibiki, mental torture expert extraordinaire. The man – or his future counterpart at any rate – had caused Naruto no little amount of insanity and bruises over the years.
"Yamanaka Inoske spent some years as a Hunter-nin," Minato said, "and now that his Genin team are all Chunin, and what with the need we have to rearrange some of our ranks after the war, it's a good time for him to train a few of our Chunin as Hunters. I would like you to be one of them."
"It's also a good opportunity for you to become part of a team."
Naruto thought about that. He had worked with others often, trading teammates around like any other shinobi for missions, but he had only really ever been a part of Team Seven, Team Kakashi. It would be strange to consider himself a part of any team but that one.
"Inoske will be able to teach you the parameters and procedures involved with the T.I. Department, as well as offer any extra training necessary," the Fourth said, leaning back in his chair. He looked Naruto over a moment before continuing. "I think that this is a profitable path for you, Naruto. Your skill set combined with a bit of extra training and knowledge of our Hunters' procedures could make you an excellent Hunter-nin."
"Well, alright," Naruto said, running his hand through his bangs absently. He didn't really have any reason to refuse the man, especially once he said something like that. He didn't mind the extra training, and while he had never really given the Hunter-nin division much thought before, he supposed he wouldn't mind joining their ranks. It was more interesting sounding than the ANBU at any rate. He was also pretty sure that it would help him to get Orochimaru later on, and be able to deal a bit more effectively with the Akatsuki. Missing-nins were pretty much a Hunter's prerogative and Naruto certainly wouldn't mind having that privilege.
Naruto grinned and closed the folder, handing it back across the desk. "When do we start?"
Minato nodded decisively. "As soon as Shimizu is cleared by the Medics."
Six months (and a couple days) after arrival … Konohagakure's Shinobi Hospital
Morino Ibiki looked like one of his future torture victims. Bruising and half-healed cuts lined one side of his face and circled his eyes, making him look a bit animalistic. The damage was far less than what it had been when Naruto had last seen him, but little healing had been applied to the boy's head and face, what with all the ruckus about the poison. Naruto thought he looked a bit like a badger with the bruising stretching down around his eyes and along his nose. If only badgers were as big as a bear.
Lying on the hospital bed with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face, Morino looked positively mutinous. His hitai-ate and usual clothing were piled in a chair in the corner, which left the boy's dark hair to fall around his eyes and ears. It made him look a lot younger than Naruto was used to – though the lack of scaring added to the other's youth tremendously.
Naruto watched the display from the doorway, smirking beneath the scarf that wrapped around his face and saved him from the other boy's glare.
The medic in the room wasn't taking any trouble from him, threatening to tie the boy to the bed if he didn't stay put until released, causing Morino's scowl to deepen. Ibiki's sensei was also there, perched on the nearby empty bed and looking about as amused as Naruto was. The man's long hair was pulled up and trailed down over one of his shoulders. Naruto always had a hard time telling the two Yamanaka brothers apart, with them being twins and dressing so alike, but Inoske had a scar that ran above his left eyebrow into his hairline that Ino's father, Inoichi, never had.
Naruto stepped into the room as the medic left, still smirking, and not caring much if Morino knew it.
"They will you know," Naruto said, drawing their attention.
"Will what, Kinatsu-san?" Inoske asked.
"Tie him up." Naruto sat on a stool near the foot of Morino's bed and gestured to the boy. "They've done it to me before, they'll tie him up if he doesn't stay put."
Inoske blinked, surprised. "The medics have actually tied you to the bed?"
"Erm, yeah." He looked at the other blonde curiously. "They haven't done that to you?"
"I know better." Inoske grinned. "I don't get caught when I sneak out."
Naruto frowned at the other blonde, catching the barely-there smirk on the other's face.
"What're you doing here, anyways?" Morino asked.
Naruto choked down the retort (insult, really) he had been about to give his new team leader and turned to the boy on the bed. "Just making sure you're still in one piece is all," Naruto quipped, "I don't want my new teammate to be missing too many brain cells cause he got himself poisoned by a few measly needles."
Morino blinked and just stared at him, his face showing nothing in the way of what he was thinking past his initial blink. Naruto wondered if the other boy had been told about the change in his team's members – he really couldn't tell from his expression.
"Yondaime-sama spoke with you, then?" Inoske asked. "Good, training starts as soon as Ibiki is out of the hospital."
"Yea, threw the damn folder at me actually, and pinned me to the floor," Naruto grumbled, "bastard."
"He pinned you to the floor?" Inoske said, his eyes a bit wide. Naruto wasn't sure if it was surprise, incredulousness or something else.
"Well, that was because I set off a sound – " Naruto stopped and looked at the blonde sideways. "When did he tell you I had agreed?"
"He's the Yondaime."
Naruto stared at the other man for a moment, trying to figure out exactly what he meant by that statement. Either Minato had sent Inoske some sort of message in the short amount of time between Naruto leaving his office and arriving at the hospital, or his father had simply assumed that Naruto would say yes to being put on Team Inoske and had told the Yamanaka before even asking Naruto. He wasn't sure if he liked the idea that his father knew him well enough to expect his answer (or that his father was sure enough of his bargaining skills to be able to sway Naruto).
"You're Kurenai's replacement?" Morino asked, drawing Naruto out of his thoughts.
"No," Naruto said at the same time as Inoske's, "yes."
The two blondes glanced at each other before Inoske waved for him to explain.
"I'm not a genjutsu type," Naruto said, turning back to Morino. "I can't replace her."
"What type are you, then?" Morino asked his eyes narrowed a bit.
Naruto shrugged, trying to buy time. He didn't know how much they knew of his skills, or what his father had told Inoske. It was possible that Minato had told the man more of Naruto's skills than what was on his sparse Ninja Registration document, but Naruto had no way of knowing until he talked to his father. He would have to stick with the skills that he had revealed during the rescue, then. Strictly Kinatsu, and not Namikaze Naruto. His sealing abilities would remain secret for now.
"Close combat, mostly," Naruto said, "you saw some of what I can do."
"Taijutsu?" Morino asked.
Naruto held up a hand and rocked it back and forth. "Not really, though mine's getting better. I'm more of a rush in and beat the lights out of someone than the careful forms of taijutsu type."
"I've noticed," Inoske said a bit dryly, then, "what weapons are you proficient with?"
"Weapons, Kinatsu," Morino said, enunciating his syllables slowly, "weapons."
Naruto scowled at him, knowing the boy would be able to see enough of his face to know what he was doing. "I know what he said, badger-boy."
"Well?" Inoske broke in before Morino could retort to the nickname.
"Nothing specific," Naruto hedged, "beyond the usual at any rate. I can generally swing anything around but I don't always know what I'm doing. Though I got my hands on a bo for a while."
"A bo staff?"
"Hai, except they usually don't last long, I tend to break them."
Inoske nodded, looking thoughtful, and didn't say anything else about Naruto's tendency to break his practice weapons. Really, with the fox's strength Naruto had went through wooden bo staffs eerily quickly, especially in his spars with TenTen. Once TenTen had given him a metal-cased one, it lasted a little longer – until he bent it over the head of Itachi's shark-toothed partner. Naruto had mostly given up on the bo after that and TenTen never tried to give him another one, though she had started handing him a host of other, usually more sturdy sort of weapons. She seemed to enjoy trying to teach him how to use the things properly, though Naruto really was just better at swinging them around than actually using them in a way that a weapons expert would. He had sent the usually amiable girl into near fits more than once due to his improper handling of weaponry.
"Are you cleared for training?" Inoske asked suddenly. Naruto blinked and looked over at the man, finding his grey eyes staring back at him sharply.
"Good." Inoske got to his feet, pushing a single crutch under one arm and motioned for Naruto to stand.
"Where are we going?" Naruto asked, getting to his own feet and watching the man carefully. Inoske moved a bit slowly, shuffling his healing leg and obviously still getting used to the crutch some.
"My home, then the training fields," Inoske said, giving Morino a slap on the boy's shoulder before pushing Naruto out of the room.
"For what?" Naruto asked, letting the man push him into the hallway.
"I've an idea for a weapon for you."
Naruto paused and Inoske dug a finger into his ribs, making Naruto scowl at him and move forward again. He wondered what sort of weapon the man thought would be a good fit for him. Then he wondered if he should have told his father how he usually handled weaponry – if just so that Inoske would know and wouldn't get too… annoyed.
Six months and a week after arrival … Konohagakure, training ground seven
Naruto dodged, feeling the sharp edge of a kunai slice the air past his ear, and managed to put himself directly in the path of an incoming fist. It struck his face hard, whipping his head back at an uncomfortable angle, pain flaring – and the clone dissipated. His opponent stumbled only slightly, the sudden loss of the body his fist was hitting throwing him off balance, but only for a second.
Naruto threw a handful of kunai at his opponent, scowling when they were dodged and returned twice-fold. Naruto didn't bother to dodge them, and let another of his clones poof out of existence.
The real Naruto grimaced slightly as his clones' memories swept through his mind, echoing traces of their pain making his muscles twitch in sympathy. He watched his clone army engaging his sparring partner, the field of blondes making it somewhat difficult to tell him and his opponent apart. But the Yondaime's taller frame and mask-less face made him easy enough to pick out of the crowd.
That and Naruto hadn't actually taken his eyes off the man since they started.
He glanced briefly at the Third watching them from the tree line, his position given away more by the smell of tobacco smoke than by sight. The old man had wandered out to the field just as the two blondes were getting started. Neither of the Namikaze's had bothered to ask why the man was there. The curiosity in the older man's eyes was telling. Naruto had been just about to snap out something witty (and possibly border-line insulting) when his father started their spar with a well-thrown kunai. Naruto had retaliated with his hundred or more clones and their spar had degenerated rapidly from there.
Naruto was only glad that his father had so far been disinclined to use his Hiraishin, but the man was remarkably good at taking on an army all by himself, Flying Thunder God Technique or not.
Their spars had become a semi-regular occurrence, happening when Naruto was in the village and Minato had a few hours where he could sneak out of his own office. He had missed their spars during the half a year he was with Jiraiya, having only returned to Konoha for a couple short reports during his time away. Naruto had come to thoroughly enjoy them – however short they tended to last due to his father's Hiraishin technique – as he was able to spend a bit of time with his father and get a good feel of both of their skills.
And fighting against the Yondaime was something that Naruto found great enjoyment in, no matter that the man was also his father.
The appearance of a three-pronged kunai had half the clones left in the clearing swearing and the rest either burrowing underground or dodging into the tree lines. Minato's quick duplication of the special blade, and his subsequent use of the attached seals cleared the area of any visible Naruto clone (and a few that hadn't been so visible).
The Hiraishin left the Yondaime standing alone in the small field, looking around him somewhat absently as every Naruto that he had defeated had been a clone. Naruto himself remained in his hidden position in the tall branches of a nearby tree, watching his father's inspection of the area and wondering what his clones were going to try and do now that the annoying Hiraishin technique had come into play. Many of his father's seals were still littering the area, leaving the taller man with a distinct advantage over his son.
But among the three-pronged kunai were barely-hidden tag seals, placed under a simple henge to hide them and circling an area not far from the hokage.
Naruto just had to lure the man into it.
His clones were doing an adequate job of their task, burrowing up from the ground or coming out of the trees and half-luring, half-herding the other man into the hidden seal field. It took some time, and almost all of his remaining clones as well as his own interference, but Minato crossed the boundary of the circular field.
He had one of the Narutos in a headlock, a kunai pressed lightly to Naruto's jugular. Naruto countered with a move that Minato obviously hadn't been expecting, though he really should have. Naruto had spent years under Jiraiya's teaching, and it was only natural that he picked up some of the old pervert's techniques.
"Spiked Buddha!" Naruto called out, feeling his hair grow out around his head and shoulders in sharp spikes. His longer hair cut through its tie, standing up around his head and shoulders and making him look something like a defensive porcupine. His hair wasn't yet long enough to be as impressive as when Jiraiya used the same technique, where the man's technique hair practically cocooned him entirely, but it was very effective with neck or shoulder holds.
Minato jumped backwards from it suddenly, his shoulder and arm getting nicked before he could fully move out of the way of the suddenly sharp hair.
He moved straight across the seal field's invisible boundary.
It lit up like a beacon, chakra light racing from one tag to the next and spitting light and excess chakra up into the air like a tower. Minato and two clones were caught within the field, all three covering their eyes from the bright light that the field's activation brought.
As the light dimmed, Naruto was standing around the outside of the field, a few extra clones mimicking his position, leaving the Yondaime and two clones in the field loosely surrounded. Minato eyed him – and his clones – warily, and inspected the area of the seal field.
A shallow groove circled him, as if someone had walked around him in a circle and dragged a stick in the ground as they went. The seal tags were glowing faintly, feeding pulses of chakra into the lines connecting them all, leaving the barrier of the field quite obvious.
"What is it?" Minato asked, still eyeing the pulsing circle around him. The clones within the field with him just stood by, letting the man inspect the strange field and its tags.
"A seal field," Naruto said, grinning as his father gave him an exasperated look. Naruto let Jiraiya's hair jutsu go, the sharp spikes of his hair falling back around him in long waves. The jutsu had destroyed his tie, and he was left with his hair hanging loosely down to his shoulder blades rather than being in its usual low tail.
Minato eyed his hair, looking somewhat annoyed. "Jiraiya's technique."
Naruto nodded, still grinning.
"Figures," Minato grumbled, turning his attention to one of the tags. Naruto just watched him, standing a few paces outside of the field's boundary, waiting. His father walked the interior of the field, not crossing the line dug into the ground, and inspecting the tags that were no longer hidden under weak illusions. It was hard for Naruto to determine what his father was thinking. The man thought silently and with barely any facial expression. Naruto was quite curious whether the man would determine what exactly the seal field did, and how long it would take him to do so. The man didn't have much time before he'd find out the hard way.
"A shock release?" Minato sounded surprised.
"Aa." Naruto pointed to the grooved line circling his father. "A trap seal field, actually."
"Trap –" his father's eyes widened slightly and Naruto smirked.
"Don't cross the line, kiiroi-ani."
His father stared at him, his face blank before he laughed – a rich, infectious sound that had Naruto grinning in return. He liked the sound of it, hearing it. He hadn't heard Minato's laugh much and he was surprised at how glad he was to hear and see the man do so even more to have been the one to cause it.
"So it'll set off if I cross out of the boundary, then?" his father asked.
Naruto nodded, gesturing to the field with a finger. "It was activated when you crossed the boundary, and is powered by your chakra, or any chakra within its field."
"And crossing back out of the field?"
"Will set off the shock release, like a shock tag," Naruto said. "Its strength is dependant on what's in the field, how much chakra it takes from the ones trapped and how long you wait before you attempt to cross it again." Naruto eyed his two clones in the field with his father. "With all three of you, even though they're clones, it'll be a while before the field drains your chakra to the point that you pass out, and if you try to cross the field the shock might be rather strong."
"What happens when I pass out?"
Naruto shrugged. "Not positive. It should cancel the field's shock feature, but it might still draw chakra from you."
"You're not positive?"
"Afraid not," Naruto said, somewhat embarrassed by his lack of sure knowledge of one of his own seals. "No one was willing to fully test it and I haven't had the chance to try it on someone who I wouldn't give the choice to yet. It's the way I designed the thing, but –" Naruto shrugged, trailing off.
"Fascinating," Minato said, eyeing one of the tags he stood near.
"So, kiiroi-ani," Naruto got his father's attention again, and grinned brightly, "you going to acknowledge that I've just beat your ass, or am I going to have to leave you here to test out my seal?"
Naruto was gifted with his father's laugh again.
Then he was reintroduced to the reason why the man was Hokage.
Minato used the Hiraishin, flashing from the boundary of Naruto's trap seal field to one of the three-pronged kunai situated just behind his son's feet. The crossing of the boundary, no matter how fast, set off the seal's shock release. It lit up the area in a brilliant display of lightning that flashed around the circular boundary, jumping from clone to clone to Hokage, who had a kunai to Naruto's neck by the time the electricity caught up with him.
Naruto felt the gentle sting of the kunai cut the edge of his neck followed directly by the sharp shock of his own field's lightning as it followed the metal and coursed through his system. He gasped as his body seized, and he crashed to the ground hard. His limbs shuddered, uncontrolled, before leaving him sucking in air harshly as he tried to orient himself after the shock.
It wasn't quite enough to knock him out, but the sizzling feeling of the lightning element lingered in his limbs and he was left seeing large white spots any time he tried to focus his vision.
Naruto tried to stand and found himself tumbling back to the ground, his world tilting around him.
"Urgh," he rolled awkwardly onto his stomach, forcing one arm underneath him while the other still resisted conscious control. His father was in a similar state, sitting upright with his legs folded in front of him, leaning precariously on one arm and cradling his head with the other.
"Could have –" his father started, stopped and put a hand over his mouth, looking slightly sick. Naruto tried to focus on the man long enough to cement the scene in his memory – the day that he managed to reduce the Yondaime Hokage to such a state – but he still could barely see and the ground kept trying to tip him on his head.
Naruto groaned and pushed himself to his hands and knees, feeling very tipsy and a little sick as well. His muscles were twitching sporadically, and his heart was racing faster than it really ought to be, leaving him panting a bit with the combined adrenaline and oxygen. He reached up and pulled the scarf from his face, letting the material pool around his neck. The lack of cloth over his mouth and nose gave him the illusion that he could breathe easier, and unblocked any possible route his breakfast might try and take.
"I could have killed you," his father managed to get out. He didn't look sick anymore, but he hadn't otherwise moved, still half-sprawled, half-seated next to him.
Naruto grunted in response. He knew that his father had won, though he still figured it had been close. That they were both sprawled on the ground of the training field proved – something. But he also knew that in a battle, on a mission, the kunai that had barely scratched his neck would have cut right through it were it held by an enemy.
"You're buying lunch," his father said.
"Well, don't you two look a sight."
Naruto just groaned again and let his body bonelessly fall back to the ground. He heard his father mumble something in response to the Third, which made the old man chuckle.
"Are you two going to live?"
Naruto rolled over and squinted up at the Third, who was standing over the two blondes, pipe puffing out a stream of smoke. The man looked like he had just been gifted something he had always wanted to see, grinning in a self-satisfied sort of way that tempted Naruto to use his sexy technique on the man just to wipe the look off his face.
Minato lifted his head enough to look his predecessor in the eye. "You set off that damned field, Hiruzen, and see how you look after it."
The Third chuckled, causing both of the blondes at his feet to frown, but neither of the Namikaze's were in much condition to do anything about the man's mirth at their expense.
"Son," Naruto rolled his head to look at his father, surprised at the little used term. His father hadn't moved much, his knees propped up in front of him with his head hanging low between his shoulders. "If you ever put me in that field again I will force you to sit through the entirety of the annual council budget meeting."
Naruto paled at the thought, staring at the man in horror. "Your threat– you wouldn't."
Minato's eyes narrowed, though they looked a little hazed. Naruto wondered if the other man was seeing as many spots as he was still. "Yes. Yes, I most definitely would."
It took the two Namikaze's some time to get back to their feet and be able to walk again. The shock field had caused their muscles to twitch and tremble for a good hour. While Minato still felt nauseous, Naruto's balance was screwy, leaving him stumbling around like he couldn't control his own legs. All the while the Third watched them, alternately chuckling and grinning like a fool. Once the two blondes seemed to have some control of their electricity-wracked bodies again the old man conveniently disappeared. They were left with shifty balance, sporadically twitching muscles and a strong urge to pay back the Third for the amusement he got out of the state they had managed to reduce each other to.
By some way that Naruto couldn't quite recall, they had made it to a tea bar not far from the training fields. It certainly wasn't Naruto's favorite (he dearly missed Ichiraku's Ramen) but Tsuribori's was an adequate second choice, as they served a variety of snacks, teas and a selection of sushi, that when combined and doubled was almost enough to feed his impressive metabolism.
"Is Inoske still miffed at you?"
Naruto paused in the action of stuffing three dango into his mouth, regretfully pulling the skewer with two of the sweet snacks away from his face. He chewed and swallowed, shrugging at his father seated next to him at the bar.
"Dunno," Naruto admitted once his mouth was clear of food, "I haven't seen him in a couple days."
Minato raised his eyebrows over his teacup. "A couple days?"
"He gave me a weapons scroll and told me to work on what he showed me." Naruto paused, tilting his head to the side slightly in thought, "I don't think he wanted to be around in case I shattered another broadsword."
"He's teaching you the broadsword?"
Naruto shook his head. "No, at least not anymore. He gave me another weapon," Naruto frowned, trying to remember what Inoske had called it, "some sort of staff with a chain on the end of it, but then he thought he'd show me the basics of some of the others. I think he was trying to see what I might work better with. That's when I broke the broadsword."
"Probably," Minato said, leaning over the bar on one elbow. "He started you with the chigirigi?"
"Chigirigi?" Naruto snapped his fingers at the name. "Yea! That's what it was called! The staff and chain thing."
Minato looked amused. "The Chigirigi. He seems to think you'd be good with weapons?"
Naruto glanced at his father out of the corner of his eyes. "You don't?"
"I don't see you as a weapons expert, Kinatsu."
Minato nodded, turning his attention back to his tea.
"But I can store hundreds of the things in seals," Naruto said with a smirk, watching as his father nearly choked on his tea. Minato put his teacup down and turned on the stool to face him more fully.
"Did you say hundreds?"
Naruto nodded, still smirking and rather pleased with himself at catching the man off guard, if even only a little.
"Spatial pocket seals with a weight component weaved into the third circle and applied to an animate surface."
Minato blinked at the explanation. "How do you weave a weight component into the third circle? Wouldn't it have to be the second?"
"Nope, not when the seal is applied to an animate surface, and it only works with the spatial pocket seals. Adding the weight component to any part of a transport seal will set the thing off. Now if you add the weight component to the second circle on an inanimate but organic surface like parchment, then that's considerably more stable, though the second circle limits the maximum weight of the pocket."
His father stared at him for a moment, though his eyes were a bit unfocused as he reasoned out how the seal would work. Naruto remained silent, stuffing his neglected dango into his mouth as he watched Minato think. Despite their common interest in the subject, they didn't often talk about sealing. Naruto had given Minato his coded scroll notes and his father had given him an unfinished seal technique, neither of which either of them had completed yet. Naruto wondered if their hesitancy to speak of the subject had something to do with the barren seals on him that once housed the nine-tailed beast.
His father's voice brought him out of his thoughts and nearly made him choke on his food. "What kind of animate surface?"
Naruto swallowed the dango thickly, feeling it settle a bit heavily with the accusing lilt to Minato's voice.
"Are you talking about –" Minato snapped his mouth closed, staring at him with slightly narrowed eyes. "Where is it?"
"Where is what?" Naruto hedged.
"The seal. Where is it? Where did you place it?" Minato's eyes tracked down his arm, narrowed on his wrist before returning to meet his eyes. Naruto resisted the urge to fidget under the gaze.
"It doesn't matter," Naruto said, his voice oddly quiet.
"It doesn't matter? It does matter! You don't just put pocket seals onto your flesh!"
"Spatial pocket seals," Naruto mumbled, but he already knew the argument Minato was getting started on. He had heard it before, from both Jiraiya and Kakashi and even Sakura once they each had figured out what he'd done. He had been surprised that Sakura knew enough about seals to know exactly how foolish he had been.
"Spatial pock-" Minato's voice ended into a low growl, and Naruto risked glancing at the man fuming next to him. He couldn't quite read the man's expression; it was something like anger but not and with something else there as well. He thought it might be concern, but the not-quite-anger was far stronger.
"It's barren," Naruto said, his voice still very quiet.
Something flickered in his father's face. "What?"
"The seals, they're – it's barren."
"There's more than one, isn't there?"
Naruto didn't answer right away, not sure how his father would react. Jiraiya and Kakashi had both been highly upset once they had gotten over their initial shock and anger. He had a feeling that his father's reaction would be somewhat similar.
"How many seals did you place on yourself, Naruto?"
Naruto shot his eyes to meet those of his father's, startled enough with the use of his name to respond honestly and immediately. "Four."
Minato let out a heavy breath, seeming to slump atop his stool. He didn't remove his eyes from Naruto's though.
"They were tied to the other seals," Naruto said, knowing that his father would want an explanation for why the spatial seals hadn't taken off his arm. Putting a transporting seal on the body was one thing, so long as the surface was large enough and the seal large enough to transport whatever was being brought through the seal – like shuriken or senbon. The seal acted only as a sort of door, bringing the objects from one location to another. But spatial pocket seals tended to be volatile when placed on a living body. They were best suited to parchment scrolls, and even then there were strict limitations on the things. One couldn't just seal away hundreds of weapons in one scroll, for instance – they had to be spread out, either over multiple scrolls or in a very large scroll. TenTen could give one of the most complicated explanations of Spatial Pocket Seals and their weight capacities that Naruto had ever heard. The girl used them in abundance with her weapons.
Naruto shrugged. "They drew their chakra directly through the containment seals on my abdomen, which gave them their power." He paused long enough to roll up his coat and shirt-sleeve, showing off the barely-there scars of the barren seal on his forearm. "They were large enough that I could put just about any weapon in them, and with the power of the fox to draw from, they could hold pretty much as many weapons as I wanted to put there."
Minato nodded, inspecting the seal on his arm. Naruto let the man grip his wrist and turn his arm about as he looked at it. "So you didn't have to worry about overloading its weight capacity."
"Exactly. The fox was pretty much an endless supply of power, so as long as I had the fox's chakra to feed the seals, the seals could hold whatever I could fit in them – even hundreds of heavy weapons."
"And now that you don't?" Minato asked, meeting his eyes again.
Naruto shook his head. "I don't know." He looked at the seal he had engraved on his own arm. It was mostly circular, but it wrapped around his entire forearm, giving him more surface space to work with. The larger the surface area of the seal, the larger the object he could put in it. Then it was just a matter of weight – which was covered by the fox's endless supply of chakra. He couldn't pull everything he stored in the spatial seals out of it at once, but he could put as much in the thing as he wanted to, one piece at a time.
But he no longer had the fox's endless supply of chakra to feed the weight-barriers of the seals. They had gone barren and inactive along with the containment seals that held the fox in him. They were there, just not active, and it left him bereft of not just the fox but an entire arsenal of weaponry that while he didn't know how to use them properly, he could still throw, swing and lob them all around. The problem, however, was that if the weapons were still within the seals, than he should have lost a limb or four by now. It was like the fox took all his weapons with it and just disappeared.
It was annoying.
"They haven't reacted at all?" Minato asked, finally releasing his wrist. Naruto pushed his sleeves back down, glancing around him to make sure no one was paying him too much attention – or too little.
"They're as empty and inactive as the other."
Minato fell silent then, turning back to his tea with a thoughtful and somewhat worried look. Naruto let the silence remain, knowing that he hadn't heard the last on the subject. He got the feeling that he was going to get a repeated lecture from Jiriaya soon. At least he knew how to way-lay the older man's objections before he got too riled up.
Six months and two weeks after arrival … Konohagakure
With Nanami's clean bill of health and the entire team's peaking restlessness, the new Team Inoske took their leave of Konoha. Packed and wrapped in canvas coats to cut down on the chill wind that had settled over the village, the team passed through the gate, escorted by friends. It wasn't all that cold, but it was cooler than most of the year, and outside of the tall, sheltering trees of the dense forests the wind was chill.
"Yea! Let's do this!" Naruto called out, pulling in a deep breath of the cool winter air of Fire country.
"It's just training, Kin-gaki," Morino snorted stopping beside him. Naruto growled up at the taller (and younger) boy. Ibiki had healed up faster than his female teammate, though the scars across one side of his face were still fresh. "No need to be so excited."
"My training isn't just training," Inoske commented. Morino cringed slightly and turned enough to give his sensei a strained grin.
"Eh-heh, sensei," he started, looking more nervous than when he had been poisoned on the last mission.
Naruto grinned and clapped the boy on the shoulder, hitting him hard enough that he actually managed to knock the larger boy forward.
"I'm looking forward to it," Naruto said, giving his new team leader a crooked grin behind his scarf.
"I like that kind of attitude," Inoske said, pleased. He glanced speculatively at Ibiki. "You could learn something from him you know."
Ibiki spluttered, stunned as Yamanaka wandered off towards his look-a-like, another Yamanaka shinobi. Naruto grinned at the man's retreating back and was about to holler something after him before Morino gripped his shoulder, hard.
"You're dead meat, shorty," Ibiki growled in his ear, low enough that his voice wouldn't carry far. "I don't care if you are his brother."
"Bring it on, Morino man." Naruto said, wondering how the other boy knew that he and the Hokage were related. They hadn't been all that careful with the cover-story, as was their plan, but it was still interesting that the boy would call him on it. Naruto didn't bother to deny it. He really didn't care to.
"Kurenai-chan!" Naruto greeted, turning to the girl happily. Shimizu was with her, mostly hidden behind the canvas coat. She was still a little pale, even after a month of rest. Her dark bangs framed her face while the long length of it was braided down her back, trailing over the pouch at her belt.
"Think you can handle his lug, shorty?" Kurenai teased, grinning at him and eyeing him up and down. "He's about twice your size."
"Handled him in the tournament just fine," Naruto quipped.
Morino scowled at the reminder and Naruto grinned, amused at his annoyance. Kurenai let out an easy laugh and continued teasing her larger male teammate.
Naruto gave the two girls a smile that affected his eyes and backed away. The three former teammates fell into their own conversation, saying good-byes as Kurenai would remain in Konoha for her new position at the Ninja Academy. Naruto gave them the space, happy to do so, knowing what it was like to shift teams around and both leave and be left by friends.
"She'll be good in the new position," his father commented from his shoulder.
"She'll teach well," Naruto said, agreeing.
Minato hummed, a sort of agreeable and thoughtful sound that he made when Naruto thought the man wanted to ask him something but had decided not to.
"She'll make a good Jonin-sensei too," Naruto offered, watching his father's pleased smile out of the corner of his eyes. And Kurenai would, he knew.
"You'll be good in your new position too, Naruto," his father said.
"Hunter-nin?" Naruto shook his head slightly. "I suppose I've already done it some already."
"It'll suit you, I think."
Minato's hand clenched his shoulder, turning him enough so that their identical blue eyes could meet. His father smiled at him, hints of pride and approval laced in both his tone and expression. Naruto found that he liked seeing it from the man. He knew enough of emotions to know that the other blonde truly thought that Naruto would be good at this, and that gratified Naruto in a way that he couldn't quite identify. It made him want to try his hardest and to succeed in whatever task the man asked of him. It was a strange drive, different from his usual urge to prove his worth and existence to the world if just so that one other person would acknowledge him. With his father, though, Naruto didn't think he had to prove anything. His father already acknowledged him just as he was, and thought that he could do more. It made Naruto want to show his father that he could meet the man's beliefs in him.
Naruto grinned, knowing that his father would see the expression despite the scarf over his face and turned back towards the forest out of the gate.
"Alright!" Naruto called loudly, gaining his new team's attention. "Let's go!"
"Hey, who do you think you are?" Morino said, chasing after him as Naruto stalked down the road. The new Team Inoske trailed after them, saying their farewells and waving as they walked. Naruto kept up with Morino's challenging stride beside him until they reached the tree line. He spun on his heal and took in the sight behind him. Konoha's main gates towered up out of the forest floor, framed by trees and wispy clouds in a chill-blue sky.
He waved at his father, not as interested in the others gathered at the gate. "Later, Kiroi-ani!" he called cheerily. "Don't forget to get out of that high tower of yours and train every once in a while, else I'll beat you next time!"
His father's congenial wave morphed into a shooing motion. Minato shook his head and Naruto let out a bark of laughter, happy and content and spun back to the road. His team welcomed them into the formation, letting Naruto take up tail as they jumped up into the trees.
He smiled. He wanted his father to be proud of him and he already was.
Japanese used this chapter:
1)Oto – Sound, used in reference to the Hidden Sound Village and/or its ninja. Also: Otogakure (the village), or Oto-nin (its ninja/shinobi).
Tsuribori's Tea Bar is an original location. Tsuribori means 'fish pond'
And thus, this is the end of Arc One. Next chapter starts Arc Two: Kyubi no Sairai (Kyubi's Second Coming) dun dun dun.