Title: 67 Percent
Author: Shawny Wong
Prompt: 67 percent
Summary: Naruto is having trouble with his studies, so Tsunade decides he needs a tutor - and Naruto discovers that studying can be fun, after all. A fluffy little NaruHina romance. Based on theme #70 (67 Percent) of the 100ThemesChallenge.
Disclaimer: The characters of Naruto belong to Kishimoto Masashi. This story is written without permission, for fan purposes only. Do not reproduce without permission.
"You're making me study literature and poetry?! Are you drunk again, Baachan?" Naruto tilted his head a fraction of an inch and neatly avoided the flying paperweight that whistled by his ear. It crashed into the wall behind him leaving a good sized hole in the plaster. He glared at his Hokage. "There is no way in hell I'm going waste valuable training time on…"
The sudden killing intent from his Hokage made him pause. It didn't scare him, of course. After facing down the Akatsuki – the most dangerous criminal organization of S-ranked missing ninja ever known – and his very own personal demon, normal killing intent rarely fazed him. But it did make him stop and think.
Tsunade-baachan is really pissed. This must be important.
"Do you want to be Hokage?" she growled.
"What kind of stupid question is that?" Naruto just barely refrained from rolling his eyes.
Everyone in Konoha (and nearly everyone he encountered on his missions outside the village) knew that he wanted to become the next Hokage. At 22, Naruto was more subdued than he'd been as a child. He didn't go around making loud, boastful announcements anymore. ("I'm going to be Hokage, dattebayo!" was a thing of the past.) But it was still his dream – one that he was working very hard towards.
"Just answer the damn question, Brat!"
"Yes." Naruto's blue eyes burned with fierce determination.
"Then you will suck it up, study literature and poetry, and like it. Do I make myself clear?"
Naruto still looked mutinous, so Tsunade settled down to explain.
"Think of it as a prerequisite for the position. The Hokage is the strongest ninja in the village. No one can say that you're not one of strongest ninja in Konoha. After you returned from your extended training trip with Jiraya, you were promoted to chuunin, to jounin, and then to ANBU so quickly that you've probably broken several records! You've also made a name for yourself in the bingo books. You're just as infamous as Kakashi was in his prime."
"But?" Naruto prompted; he just knew there was "but" in there, somewhere.
"But physical strength isn't everything. People don't just want the strongest ninja as the Hokage. They want the smartest, too."
"Hey! I'm smart!" Naruto protested indignantly. "I'm not Shikamaru… but I can plan strategy and tactics with the best of them. Haven't I proven that already?"
"On the battlefield? Yes. Off the battlefield? No."
"What difference does it make?"
"Plenty," Tsunade answered seriously. "99 percent of the time, the Hokage isn't out fighting battles. The Hokage is dealing with paper work or negotiating with politicians and merchants. To the civilians and to the lords and ladies in the Fire Lord's court an intelligent Hokage is more important than a strong Hokage. The civilians want a Hokage with a formal education. And the lords and ladies in court won't respect a leader that they think is uneducated."
"But the Academy..."
"The Academy taught you only the basics of reading and writing! After that, Academy focused on teaching you how to fight and survive against an enemy ninja. Did it teach you how to debate politics with the lords in court? Did it teach you how to negotiate a trade agreement with the Merchant's Guild? Did it teach you how to write formal letters with flowery language to the Fire Lord's advisors?"
Naruto bit back curse. As much as he hated to admit it, Tsunade was right. He lacked any kind of real formal education. He just hated this feeling. He hated feeling... so inadequate... so stupid.
"Besides, every Hokage from the Shodaime to myself has received a diploma from the University of Shuto."
"Really?" he asked with interest.
"Yes," Tsunade nodded. "My grandfather and his brother were scholars before they became ninja. And you do remember the Sandaime's nickname, don't you? He wasn't known as 'the Professor' for nothing."
"I just thought that was because he was really smart. Was the old man a real professor?"
"Yes. For a little while anyways…" Tsunade's eyes grew warm over as she reminisced and she smiled slightly. "During the Second Great Ninja War, Sarutobi-sensei was injured badly enough that he was taken off active duty. It took him almost three years to fully heal. Sensei didn't like the idea of lying around doing nothing though. So he spent those three years studying at the capitol city. Eventually, he became a guest professor at the university.
"As for myself... After I left Konoha, I wanted to quit being a ninja. So I threw myself into other things. For a while, I studied Psychology and Philosophy at the university."
Naruto nodded thoughtfully.
"What about the Yondaime? He became Hokage right after the war with Iwa. There's no way he could have taken time off to go study at the university!"
"You're right. There wasn't time for him to study there. And I can't afford to take one of my best ninja off active duty for two years to send you to school, either."
Naruto tried not to, but he couldn't help the tiny blush that colored his cheeks at the sincere praise. Tsunade grinned. It was rare to see Naruto so flustered – and by a tiny bit of praise no less! She made a mental note to compliment him more often.
"Sarutobi-sensei made a deal with the dean of the university. He arranged for Minato to earn his diploma through a series of written exams. If he passed all of them – which he did – then the dean would give him an honorary diploma. That's what I've done for you, too. Once a month, a proctor from the university will come to Konoha and give you a written exam equivalent to the exams given to the students at the university. If you pass all the exams, then in two or three years you'll have earned your honorary diploma."
"Am I still going out on missions?"
"Yes. Like I said, I can't afford to pull you from active duty."
Naruto quickly did some mental calculations. If he had to study in between missions and training then… he would have absolutely no free time in the next few years. He closed his eyes in resignation.
"Do I have to do this?" he asked plaintively.
"Do you want to be Hokage?"
Tsunade chuckled at his glare and decided to offer him some incentive.
"The day you receive your honorary diploma from the University of Shuto is the day I inform the village council that I've chosen you as my official successor, Rokudaime."
Naruto's eyes widened in shock. He desperately searched Tsunade's face for any indication that she was joking or lying to him. All he found was sincerity. Tsunade smiling warmly at him.
She's serious! She really means it!
He could feel happiness bubbling up in his chest and did nothing to suppress the enormous grin on his face.
"Yes! I won't let you down, Baachan!"
Tsunade's right eye twitched in irritation at the hated nickname.
Less than one second later...
Naruto had been too excited to dodge Tsunade's second paperweight.
Two months later...
Naruto was once again called into Tsunade's office. As usual, the Hokage's desk was buried under massive mountain of paperwork. But Tsunade was only interested in one sheet of paper and blithely ignored all the rest.
"You got a 67 percent?!" she asked incredulously.
"So what?" Naruto asked defensively. "I passed, didn't I?"
Naruto learned things by doing them. Bookwork and written exams had been the bane of his existence at Academy. He grimaced. No matter how much he had improved an matured over the years, some things just didn't change.
He couldn't even use the kage bushin training method with his studying, either. The first time he tried using his clones to help him speed read through all the books Tsunade had given him, he ended up with a massive headache that made him wish he were dead. It was even worse than the hangover he'd gotten when he turned 21 and shared that promised cup of sake with the frog boss, Gamabunta. (Of course, a "small cup" for Gamabunta was equal to an "enormous bathtub" for Naruto.) Naruto knew that there were drawbacks to the kage bushin training method. Sure, he received the chakra, memories, and experiences from his clones once they dispersed – but dispersing too many clones at once gave him severe headaches from the memory overload. During training, he could comfortably use about 100 clones without straining himself too much. However, using clones to read his books and do his studying for him was completely different.
For one thing, whenever he trained with his clones, he had multiple clones doing the same thing. So their memories easily overlapped. When he regained their memories, their memories merged relatively smoothly. Naruto discovered the hard way that regaining memories that were vastly different during the same time period caused more painful headaches. This was especially true if he had each clone reading different books and trying to memorize different facts. For another, the knowledge he was trying to absorb was much more complex. Frankly, ninjutsu was theoretically simple. It didn't take much mental power to learn to mold chakra and form jutsu. Mold chakra one way and you get this result. Mold chakra another way and you get a different result. Simple. That was all the mental understanding required for learning ninjutsu. (The difficulty lay in putting that theory into practice with physical conditioning and fine chakra control.) And of course, the more mentally complex something was, the more painful it was to absorb via kage bushin.
Naruto winced. At most, he could use two clones to help him read his books while he was doing other things. Anymore than two was just not feasible. So his studies were was going slower than he would have liked.
"You got a 67 percent?!" Tsunade asked again.
"It's a passing score!"
"You only passed by 2 percent," Tsunade pointed out. 65 percent was the minimum score required to pass each of his exams.
"I know. I'll do better next time."
"That's what you said last month. And you barely scraped by with a 67 percent then, too."
Naruto ran his hand through his spiky blond hair in frustration.
"I'm doing my best, Baachan. It's not easy, you know! Besides, all I have to do is pass, right? Does it really matter if I got a 67 percent instead of a 97 percent?"
"Of course it matters! No successor of mine is going to barely pass!" Tsunade slammed her hand down on her desk making it rattle. Several stacks of files tilted precariously, but didn't fall over. "I'm assigning you a tutor."
"What?! I don't need a tutor!"
"Yes, you do!"
"No, I don't!"
"You will work with a tutor until I say otherwise or I will personally see to it that you are only assigned D-rank missions for the next two years," Tsunade said with a hint of steel in her voice.
"I hear that the Lady Kimiko just lost her cat again. The poor dear," she said sweetly.
Naruto immediately snapped his mouth shut.
"Good boy," Tsunade said with satisfaction, blithely ignoring Naruto's angry glare. "I'll find someone with the right qualifications and let you know when to expect him."
Naruto threw himself on the couch and cursed. His living room was a mess of books, scrolls, and scraps of paper with messily scrawled notes. He'd much rather be training and learning new ninjutsu than this! Ninjutsu and training were things he understood. Politics? Philosophy? Literature? Economics? He was never going to understand it all! He glanced at the clock on the wall. His new tutor would be here any minute. Naruto examined the mess critically and absently wondered if he should clean it up a little bit – or at least clear another spot on the couch for his tutor.
No. I don't want a tutor anyways. Maybe the mess will scare them away. He thought hopefully.
He knew he was being unreasonable because he really did need all the help he could get. But... In his limited experience, none of his tutors or academic instructors (except for Iruka) had ever genuinely wanted to help him study. Instead, they delighted in rubbing his ignorance in his face and absolutely loved making him feel stupid. He knew now it had been their way of taking some petty revenge against the Kyubi. But back then, he hadn't understood; he'd been bewildered... and hurt. Either way, the handful of times he'd received tutoring had always been... unpleasant. So unpleasant, in fact, that he still preferred struggling through his studies on his own.
If this tutor only wants to make me feel stupid... I'm going to kick him out. I don't care if I get nothing but D-rank missions for the next two years... I'll get this all on my own... eventually.
The doorbell chimed.
Maybe if I ignore it, he'll go away.
But then he'd have to face Tsunade's wrath. Naruto shuddered.
The doorbell chimed again. This time, he sighed and reluctantly got up to answer the door.
"Hinata?" Naruto blinked in surprise. He'd been expecting his new tutor. Was the guy running late or something? "What are you doing here?"
Hinata's cheeks were a bit rosy... from the wind. Naruto guessed. It was chilly out.
"H-Hi, Naruto-kun," she said softly. "May I c-come in? Tsunade-sama said you needed some help studying for an exam."
"You're my new tutor?!"
"Um... Yes. Is that... Is that a problem?" Hinata asked hesitantly. "Would you prefer someone else? I'm sure Tsunade-sama can f-find another tutor for you, if you'd like."
"No! I'm sorry. You just caught me by surprise." Naruto smiled sheepishly. "I wasn't expecting you to be my tutor. Come on in. Er... sorry about the mess."
Naruto tried not to feel too embarrassed about the state of his apartment.
"I don't mind, Naruto-kun." Hinata said quickly. "You have a... cozy apartment."
"Now you're just saying that to be nice. Admit it. It's a mess." Naruto laughed when Hinata blushed. For some strange reason, a warm feeling crept into his chest and stayed there.
If Hinata's my tutor, this might not be so bad after all.
To be continued...
(1) This little plot bunny came to me while I was struggling with the next part of One Small Step. I've found that the easiest way to get rid of writer's block is to take a breather and go write something else. This was the result. And it worked! My muse for One Small Step is back!
(2) The prompt I used for this fic (67 percent) comes from the 100 Themes Challenge on DeviantArt (http: / / 100themeschallenge (dot) deviantart (dot) com). No. I'm not taking that challenge! I have enough on my plate as it is. I just browse through challenges sometimes whenever I'm looking for inspiration. In the future, I may use a few more of the prompts from the 100 Themes Challenge for fun.
And I just realized I don't have enough imagination because I can't think of a better title. Oops? (sweatdrop)
(3) My thoughts on the kage bushin training method: I've always kind of thought of that the kage bushin training method was kind of like cheating. It also creates a giant plot hole. I mean... if kage bushin is so useful in terms of learning and training, why don't more people in the Narutoverse use it, too? I know not everyone has Naruto's insane amount of chakra, but there are a lot of really strong characters in Naruto who also know the kage bushin technique. Why don't they use it, too? I've also read a ton of fanfics where Naruto creates hundreds of clones to read whole libraries of books and scrolls and becomes super powerful and super intelligent almost overnight. (rolls eyes) That's just not realistic. That's why I've given this training method some weaknesses – especially when it comes to absorbing academic knowledge. In my experience, an hour spent studying a difficult subject from a textbook is much more mentally taxing than an hour spent running laps or hanging out with your friends! That's my justification. You may agree or disagree with my theory. If you disagree, that's fine. Just consider this story AU.