1. Jiraiya had spent very little time engaged with Naruto on their mission to find Tsunade. He had been off gathering information while Naruto trained. It was only when Naruto officially became his apprentice he realised the boy was the most confusing child he had ever met. He craved attention but at the same time was fiercely independent. He could come up with brilliant tactics on the fly in battle but never seemed to pull off the same genius in day to day life. One day he came to the same conclusion Kakashi had; Naruto was Konoha's Number One Surprising Ninja, it was useless trying to apply labels.
2. Naruto on the other hand had no problems understanding Jiraiya. At first he saw the same as everyone else; Jiraiya was powerful, perverted, self important and happy to live a very shallow life. Later Naruto realised his teacher was far smarter than he acted and hated to look back at the past, there lay too much regret to face. Naruto swore once again to bring back Sasuke, he now realised how deeply his failure to do so could hurt him.
3. Jiraiya noticed fairly early on the boy was much more like his mother than father. Beneath that deceptive mop of blonde hair lurked a brain devoted to pranks, fighting, ramen and making obscene amounts of noise far too early in the morning. He didn't have his father's calming demeanour or academic genius. Instead Naruto was brash, loud, rarely thought ahead and had almost nothing in terms of book smarts. However 5 months into their travels, at a festival in the east of Fire Country, Jiraiya watched Naruto sneak off with a pretty red haired local girl and knew without a doubt the brat was Minato's son.
4. He also realised the boy was borderline street kid in some of his mannerisms. He could barely read, had the uncanny ability to disappear when he noticed the local authorities, got on easier with the urchins and prostitutes than any of the 'important' people Jiraiya introduced him to and despite his poor people skills proved to be an excellent judge of character. He also hoarded food. It was several months before Jiraiya realised Naruto's emergency ramen supplied weren't out of greed or his incredible ramen obsession, but the niggling fear that he would one day again go hungry. Jiraiya's respect for his sensei took a blow that day.
5. They talked once about what you needed to be a truly great ninja. The conversation quickly deteriorated from ideals and skills to a ridiculous list of personality disorders, elaborate weaponry, nonexistent bloodline skills and poor clothing choices. It was depressing how many of these they could apply to people they knew. In they end they agreed all you really needed was some degree of madness and to be able to make a truly epic entrance.
6. It was Jiraiya who gave Naruto the "Jinchuuriki Talk". Sarutobi had withheld the information, hoping Naruto would never meet one of the others and could still live some semblance of a normal life, pretending the fox had died that moon-lit night of his birth. Jiraiya held no such illusions. He told Naruto being a Jinchuuriki was a curse one could turn to a blessing. That he was the lucky one; no biju had ever been sealed so well as the Kyuubi. That Gaara was only the beginning; if the enemy controlled one of the tailed beasts he would be the one to fight it. Then he told Naruto of the others; of the three tailed host who had been killed at the end of the last Great War, the cheery waterfall kunoichi who held the seven tails and the four tailed host who had managed to drink Jiraiya under the table some 30 years before.
7. It turned out Naruto could do the same. Jiraiya took Naruto drinking one warm night claiming he would need to know his limits, turns out he had none. It really was pathetic to be out drunk by a 13 year old. Damn demons.
8. It was not Jiraiya who gave Naruto the Sex Talk, not without trying though. As soon as he realised what was going on Naruto told Jiraiya "I already know all that stuff, now when are you gonna teach me a new jutsu?" Jiraiya questioned him further and learned the "nice lady who used to live downstairs" explained it while explaining her job. That solved the mystery of why Naruto got on so well with prostitutes and reinforced to Jiraiya once again how incredibly weird his Godson's life was.
9. He swore he wouldn't be surprised anymore. Expect the unexpected and all that, but Naruto somehow always found a way around it. They were at a hot spring town near the border with Wind country and Jiraiya was haggling with an inn keeper and attempting to find the cheapest way to stay. Naruto; hot, tired and hungry finally yelled "Damn it! Get the double with the garden view all night and the single by the hour! It's cheapest if we're out by 9!" Jiraiya stared at him like he'd grown an extra head.
"What's 785 times 13?"
Naruto thought for a few seconds "10205."
"234 plus 12 times 4 minus 87?"
"...Holy crap you can do maths! You can barely read! How are you good at maths!?"
"Hey numbers are easy! Numbers don't have kanji or chakra control or, or Stuff!" Perhaps he should have expected it from a boy who had been managing his own finances since he was 8, but damn! Konoha's number one most surprising ninja strikes again.
10. Naruto was training alone one day when he was attacked by a missing Nin from Iwa who decided to add a Leaf Headband to his collection. Jiraiya found Naruto shrouded in demonic chakra with two red tails behind him, the body of an Iwa jounin dead at his feet and decided it was time for him to learn how to harness the fox's power.
11. After the attack Jiraiya inspected Naruto's bloodstained clothing and knew without a doubt if it weren't for the fox, Naruto would have died. He silently apologised to both Minato and Naruto and swore not to let it happen again.
12. In retrospect "Piss Naruto off to see how much of the Demon's power he can use" was not a good plan. Ah well, hindsight is always 20-20.
13. On the morning of his 14th birthday Jiraiya asked Naruto if he knew what day it was. Naruto replied with "The day Yondaime died". Jiraiya wasn't quite sure what to make of that.
14. Jiraiya knew he would never be able to pass his information network to either of he students. They didn't have the personality for it. He was a also little disappointed, but unsurprised when Naruto didn't display the same flair for sealing as his father and so wouldn't be able to learn a speciality in his apprenticeship. Jiraiya settled for making Naruto an all around better ninja. After all, a Hokage can hire people to run his information network and inscribe seals for them.
15. By the time they returned to Konoha, aside from Jiraiya no one else personally knew more contacts in Konoha's spy network than Naruto, and he never realised it.
16. They both realised how much they had come to need each other, though neither would ever tell. Naruto was more than a shadow of Minato. He was life and joy; he was change in a stagnant life. He was Jiraiya's hope for the future in a sea of past regrets. Jiraiya was family, for the first time Naruto had an involved Grandfather, a crazy uncle, a father. If there was a problem Jiraiya could fix it, it he needed advice there was someone to give it. Naruto wondered if this was what it was like for normal people. Life was so much easier with an adult looking out for you.
17. More frustrating too. Both Naruto and Jiraiya had been living alone for quite some time. Life with another person took some adjustment as proved by several damaged hotel rooms. Naruto was definitely not used to having an adult tell him what he could and couldn't do. During their journey Jiraiya stopped Naruto from getting a tattoo three times, buying a pet five times, entering into an arranged marriage twice, joining a coup to overthrow the wind country daimyo, becoming manager for a rock band and leaving to join the circus. Naruto is still convinced he was right on all counts.
18. Jiraiya found Naruto going through puberty highly amusing. The already awkward young man never stood a chance. Jiraiya managed to find Naruto's voice breaking both the most amusing and annoying sound he'd ever heard. Naruto hated the whole thing, it was embarrassing and awkward. He didn't like his body changing in a way he couldn't control. But at least he was getting taller.
19. Naruto would get home sick. Jiraiya would get sick of his whining. Jiraiya would spend hours on "research". Naruto would get bored and angry he was spending so much time on a useless pursuit. Some days they would be the best of friends, others they would fight and bicker like two year olds. It was exhausting and boring, it was exciting and fascinating. One day Naruto would look back and see them as the best years of his life.
20. Naruto only asked once.
"It had to be a newborn. Wrong place, wrong time." A partial truth. His mother's labour was induced so they would have a newborn, the act killed her. It could have been another.
"Did... do you know who my parents were?"
"Yes, but I can't tell you, not yet. It's classified; you'll know when you're older." Naruto accepts it without comment. His life is full of secrets. For 12 years he didn't know why he was shunned and ignored. No one will tell him anything, no one will teach him, he doesn't expect it. The remnants of a neglectful childhood. Still...
"D-did they... I mean w-would... was I..." Jiraiya stops and puts a hand on the boy's head and looked him straight in the eyes.
"They loved you, they wanted you, it broke their hearts and they never thought you'd be so alone." Naruto began to cry. Relief, joy, gratitude, confusion and sorrow. There was too much to feel. Jiraiya wrapped one big arm around his Godson and held him until he was spent.
Dedicated to the folks at the Viridian Dreams Forum who are all enthusiastic about writing and supportive and such. For better or worse this is their fault.
If you like leave a review as I honestly have no idea if this is any good or not O_o I can't tell with my own writing. My pipe dream is to make it into the 100 reviews for a one shot communities. My more realistic dream is for one or two people I don't know from the forums to like it
^_^v peace out all