A Boy and His Pet: The Saga of Nibbles

Chapter III

Having a pet Utahraptor isn't easy. The only person in the history of mankind who could definitively state this was one Uzumaki Naruto, and he did, frequently, to anyone within listening range.

"Having a pet Utahraptor isn't easy!" said 12-year old Uzumaki Naruto, for the third time that morning, as he walked through the Konoha marketplace riding on said creature's back. The crowd gave him and his 9-foot tall, 20-foot long pet a wide berth, no so afraid as they used to be. Over time the massive theropod had become a fixture in the city, and several of the villagers had even taking a liking to the gentle beast. Naruto constantly reminded Nibbles that Konoha people weren't for eating, and the intelligent animal had loyally overcome it's instinct to gobble up everyone in sight on the order of it's master and friend.

There had been a few mishaps over the years, like the time Nibbles had eaten half of the Nara's herd of deer, which they all still loathed him for. If Naruto didn't make so much money selling the potent venom that he milked from Nibble's enormous claws, he would probably still be working for them now, to pay off the debt. The Nara in his class, Shikamaru, glared at him constantly and refused to speak with him.

There was also the time Nibbles had got in a fight with a pack of the Inuzuka dogs in one of the forest training grounds. It had nearly been a disaster, but an intervention by Naruto and the head of the Inuzuka clan had prevented any serious injuries on both sides. There was somewhat of a rivalry between Naruto and the Inuzuka even before that; The Inuzuka claimed that Naruto shouldn't be allowed to use Nibbles as a ninja tool, as they did their dogs because the dinosaur was too dangerous. Everyone who was sensible, though, knew that they considered him somewhat of a threat, as Nibbles could outperform an Inuzuka dog in every respect, even tracking. Naruto viewed it as silly, and just ignored the dog wielding clan.

That wasn't to say that he didn't learn a thing or two from the Inuzuka. After his first year at the academy, Kiba, his Inuzuka classmate, had taken to showing up with his nin-ken, Akamaru. Naruto had been hotly jealous, and had spent weeks researching the necessary statutes and filling out the requisite forms to grant Nibbles status as a ninja tool. He had filled out all of the paperwork in triplicate, and presented a copy to both the Hokage and to Iruka sensei. Both of them tried to talk him out of it, but he held firm to his resolve, and by the same law that granted an exemption to the Inuzuka, he had been able to bring his pet to the academy with him, and even use him in spars if he so desired (not that he ever did, Naruto had no desire to see any of his classmates mauled or killed).

The Inuzuka had also helped him in another way, something that he would never share with anyone, lest he be expelled from the ninja ranks. He had spied on the Inuzuka, and stolen on of their most valuable clan techniques. It was the jutsu which bound a nin-ken to a specific individual for life, linking their minds and allowing master and beast to communicate with each other and share some of their abilities. Naruto had spied on Inuzuka Kikyo, one of Kiba's distant cousins, undergoing the ritual, and had burned every detail into his nearly perfect memory. The next time there was a full moon, one of the prerequisites for the ritual, Naruto had performed it on Nibbles and himself.

The next day, he woke up in a pool of his own shit, piss, and vomit at the spot in the woods where he did the bonding technique. Nibbles was similarly ill, and could barely walk when he roused the thunder lizard. The ritual had worked, however, both could tell right away. Nibbles had always been able to understand Naruto, to one degree or another, but now they could actually converse. They didn't need to talk out loud, either, like the Inuzuka did. They could communicate solely in each other's minds. Distance didn't seem to matter, either. They tested their communication, and even several miles away from each other they could her one another's mind clear as a bell.

Nibbles was also smarter now; At least as intelligent as Naruto, and that was saying something. He no longer had the urge toward mindless violence and destruction now that he knew what kind of trouble it caused for his master, though his ravenous appetite remained.

Arguably the most important change was that now Nibbles could use chakra. All animals had chakra, or course, just like all humans did. But without the proper training, they could no more use it than civilians could. With Nibbles new intelligence, and guidance from Naruto, they began inventing ways for the Utahraptor to use his chakra in novel ways, and came up with several worthwhile techniques.

That was years ago, though, and since then the teamwork and skills of the pair had become legendary, master and pet each pushing each other harder, higher, until Naruto was the number one rookie in his class, ahead of even Uchiha Sasuke, a tragic survivor of a massacre that had claimed over half of his clan. More would have been lost, probably, except that Nibbles and Naruto had been out hunting that night, when the Utahraptor had smelled human blood on the air, and alerted his rider.

They had bounded over to the Uchiha compound, and found Uchiha Itachi in the process of slaughtering his family. The then eight-year old Naruto had used the only combination ninjutsu he had made at that point, a blatant rip-off of one of the Inuzuka family techniques, transforming he and his nin-dinosaur into a giant 2-headed Tyranosaurus-rex. Towering over the walls of the compound, both heads roared at Itachi, causing the youngest ANBU captain in history to drop his blood-dripping ninja-to and flee the village. Naruto gave chase, but his meager (compared to most kages) chakra reserves could only hold the technique for around thirty minutes while running flat out and enhancing his speed with chakra to keep up the with doujutsu wielding prodigy.

Once the ANBU caught up to him, and the technique was dispelled, he was brought before the Hokage and the one remaining survivor of the Uchiha-clan council in order to give an explanation of what had occurred.

After explaining what had happened, Naruto learned that Itachi had places genjutsu seals and containers of time-released knockout gas around the entire Uchiha compound, and had used the disorientation those provided to mercilessly slaughter any and all members of his clan that he had come across. No other member of the Uchiha wore a gas-filtering ANBU mask as he did, so if Naruto hadn't come along it was likely that the entire clan would have been wiped out. From that day forth, Naruto was considered a Hero of the Uchiha clan, and an honorary member. Shimi-san, the last Uchiha elder, even tried to betroth him to a pretty civilian Uchiha girl, but Naruto blushingly had declined. He still got a letter about once a month asking him to marry into the clan, but he always sent a polite letter back refusing, citing his desire to marry for love rather than politics. The Uchiha were very gracious about it, after all they all owed their lives to him.

Naruto found his treatment by everyone in the village was much improved after that. He was allowed to buy things at reasonable prices, and the harassment and taunting stopped. There was always a friendly policeman watching over him, after all the Uchiha were the village police, and anyone who ignored the unstated order that Uzumaki Naruto be left alone found themselves in for a nice long stay in one of Konoha's lockups.

'The best part of it all, though,' thought Naruto, 'Is that Uchiha Sasuke always calls me Naruto-sama now!' He chuckled at that. It was funny, too, how honestly the stuck-up boy said it, like Naruto was some sort of mythical figure. It might have been something to do with the fact that the person who was in the process of being murdered when Naruto intervened was Sasuke's Mother, Uchiha Mikoto. Sasuke loved his mother very much, in a slightly clingy way, especially now that his father was dead by his brother's hands.

Naruto pulled himself from his musings as he reached the Konoha Ninja Academy. Today was the day of the final exams, and he aimed to pass. He had decided against taking the exams early, like some chose to do… The early tests were intentionally made harder, as the instructors wanted students to pass as a class, in order to further the Konoha philosophy of teamwork. Naruto didn't doubt that he could have passed them, but he definitely wanted to be on a genin cell with people he knew, and that wouldn't have happened if he passed one of the early tests.

Before entering the school he dismounted Nibbles and both of them gathered a small amount of chakra. Naruto made four hand-seals, then pushed his now-glowing palm into Nibbles' massive feathered chest. "Kyouryuu henge no jutsu!" he cried.

Nibbles glowed briefly, then suddenly shrank to the size he had been at birth, a mere two and a half feet tall. Boy and dinosaur walked into the academy amidst the other students. None of them showed any surprise at a boy riding a supposedly extinct creature, or the complex combination jutsu; they saw the same thing every day, after all.

Arriving in the classroom, Naruto noted that he was the last one to arrive, save for a few annoying fan girls. His fan girls; namely Haruno Sakura and Yamanaka Ino. They used to be Sasuke fan girls, considering him the "creepy dinosaur kid", but after he had defeated Sasuke a few times in spars and taken the lead as number one student in the class they had turned tail on the Uchiha and started to compete for his affection. Naruto couldn't have been more sickened if he tried. Love, a thing he had only experienced from two individuals, the Hokage and Nibbles, was a sacred thing to him. He understood that a schoolyard crush wasn't love, but to suddenly shift your affections from one person to another at the drop of a hat just because someone is a better ninja; that was disgusting to him.

A true believer in proper manners (especially after old Uchiha Mizuzu had nearly beaten them into him during the 'etiquette lessons' the sharingan-wielding clan had tricked him into accepting), Naruto couldn't bring himself to tell the two sycophantic girls how he actually felt, settling for giving them the cold shoulder and never speaking to them. The blonde and the pinkette played it off as if he was distant and cool, but they found it a hard façade to hold, as Naruto was much warmer to everyone else. Ah, the self-delusions of youth!

Today, Naruto selected his usual spot in the front, next to Aburame Shino, one of his friends, and Uchiha Sasuke, who smiled warmly and greeted him with a happy, "Good morning, Naruto-sama". Naruto smiled back at the raven haired boy, and greeted him politely as well. It was nice to be appreciated. As usual, Nibbles settled between Naruto's feet, curling up in a feathers ball against the chill of the morning. He was warm blooded, but his feathers gave him scant protection from the cold, especially in his smaller size. When he was nine, Naruto had tried to get Nibbles to wear a sweater, but the proud beast had refused, and reduced the enormous garment to ashes using his fire-breath, one of the techniques that Naruto and he had come up with together in order to simulate the dragons of legend.

Shortly before class started, two screeching fangirls slammed into each other trying to get into the classroom at the same time. They bounced across the floor before picking themselves up. They stood dumfounded, as they noted that both of the seats next to Naruto were filled, as well as the two directly about him in the classroom's stadium-style seating. Hanging their heads dejectedly, they sat down in two of the empty seats in the room. Naruto smirked.

Soon, Iruka-sensei, their teacher for the past two years entered the classroom. "Welcome to your final day as students at this academy! Yesterday you finished both the marksmanship and taijutsu evaluations, and today you will complete the ninjutsu portion of the exams. Anyone who passes will receive a Konoha headband and become a genin of the village. Anyone who fails will have the option of repeating the year and re-testing for up to three more times. We will start alphabetically this year, so Aburame Shino, please follow me to the testing room adjacent to this classroom. Shino tensed for a moment, but Naruto and Sasuke both shot him encouraging grins, and the bug user straightened his back and followed the chuunin instructor from the classroom.

Shortly, very shortly, Shino returned to the classroom sporting a shiny new hitai-ate. Most of the class looked relieved, as Shino didn't appear to be adversely affected, and the test had been very short. Soon, student after student was called back, and the vast majority came back wearing the symbol of the Leaf. The few who didn't pass never came back; Naruto suspected that they had left via a different exit, not wanting to share their shame with the rest of the students. Soon, it was Naruto's turn.

"Uzumaki Naruto!" called a voice from the testing room. Naruto walked back, to be faced with a seated Umino Iruka and Mizuki, no last name (that Naruto had ever heard). The clanless weren't rare in Konoha.

"Naruto," said Iruka, "Please perform the bunshin-no-jutsu. You must create at least two clones." Iruka's face was stern, there was no love lost between him and the blonde. Naruto didn't know why, but the man had always been quite cold to him. Mizuki was just the opposite, warm and appreciative, but Naruto suspected that had something to do with the undisguised fear he had of Nibbles.

Naruto made the requisite hand-seals and performed a decent bunshin technique. Suddenly there were nearly one hundred copies of Naruto crowding the small room, each of them a mirror image of the original. Naruto still couldn't get the number to less than twenty, even when he concentrated especially hard. It had taken him forever to discover that the reason that he was initially failing at the technique was that he was trying to cram a huge amount of chakra into just two or three clones. With time, he learned that he needed to create the right amount of clones based on how much chakra he infused into the technique. It had taken some encouragement from both Nibbles and from Uchiha Cicada, an old retired ninja who enjoyed tutoring Naruto in ninjutsu on occasion to discover what he was doing wrong. He had also worked tirelessly to improve his chakra control by walking on wall, water, and even fire (an old Uchiha-family secret for increasing chakra control) before he was even able to do the clone technique at all. Even with all of the training and help he would probably never be able to make less than a dozen clones; thus was the nature of being a chakra powerhouse.

Iruka and Mizuki both were very impressed, though neither showed it. They were used to seeing amazing feats from the rookie-of-the-year, after all. Both teachers nodded in acceptance. Mizuki spoke, his eyes on the Utahraptor eyeing him wearily from near Naruto's feet. "Very good Uzumaki-kun. Next, perform the replacement technique."

Naruto smiled. The replacement technique was his personal favorite of the "Academy Three", and by far the most useful in combat. He had worked tirelessly on it since he had first been introduced to the jutsu, and had managed to learn how to use it without hand-seals or spoken invocation. He was even able to switch himself with things of widely dissimilar mass, something not many other ninjas could boast of. Deprived of learning any other truly useful ninjutsu techniques besides the henge, he had perfected the replacement into a work of art.

Naruto slowly crouched down low, then withdrew a kunai and pointed it straight ahead. Both of the instructors looked at him quizzically. Iruka seemed to be about to say something, but before he could Naruto quickly and silently replaced himself with the clipboard Iruka was holding. His kunai was less than an inch from Iruka's throat. Before Iruka could even begin to respond, Naruto again replaced himself with the clipboard, bringing himself and the inanimate object he had used for the jutsu back to their original positions.

Neither teacher could speak for a few seconds. As Naruto was putting his kunai back in its holster, a confused grin broke out on Iruka's face. "Excellent use of the replacement technique, Naruto! I don't think I've ever seen it used so well, even by jounin!"

Naruto smiled, "Well, it is my specialty, among the academy ninjutsu at least."

Iruka's smiled faded slowly, as he seemed to realize who he was talking to. Not just some academy student, but one toward which he held no liking. "Well, all that is left is the henge. Naruto, please transform into the likeness of Mizuki."

Mizuki obligingly stood up, allowing Naruto to get a good look. He still had to perform hand-seals for the henge, but he was still excellent with the skill, seeing many benefits to its use. He made the seals, and transformed into Mizuki without even a whiff of smoke appearing. He got the man's likeness down to a very precise detail. Possibly only Mizuki's mother or love could tell the difference between the two. Both of the teachers nodded to each other, and then Mizuki asked Naruto to release the technique.

"Naruto…" said Iruka, "You pass! Full marks, plus bonus points for the extra clones and the seal-less replacement technique. You really are the rookie of the year, aren't you?" Naruto smiled back at the cold look his teacher gave him, pick up a headband from the pile, and hightailed it out of there. He had no desire to be around someone who obviously didn't like him. He had never figured out why the chuunin felt that way about him, either. It was somewhat disconcerting.

Later that night, Naruto and Nibbles lay down in the bed of hay in the old barn the Hokage had gifted him after Nibbles outgrew his old apartment. Apparently it had used to belong to a farmhouse on the same property, but the house had burned down long ago. The Hokage had been able to but it cheap, and Naruto had worked to pay him back using his orphan's stipend and the money he made from milking Nibbles venom, finally finishing the repayment last year. Naruto now owned over five acres of forest and a fine barn at the west edge of Konoha, just within her walls. It wasn't the nicest property, but it was his, and he loved it. He had been able to make a lot of renovations to the building over time, and now it fairly shined with cleanliness, no longer looking like the manure-soiled near ruin it had once been.

Nibbles appreciated the space and the location as well. The Utahraptor could stretch out while still indoors, and the forest beyond the nearest gate provided amble game to feed the bird-like animal's enormous appetite.

Content with their day and looking forward to the team placements tomorrow, the boy and his pet fell asleep that night, happy.

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Author's Note: Ok, so this is a fucking huge chapter (for me). I hope you enjoyed it, I liked tossing in a lot of random details, and messing with the canon storyline. It was quite fun. Please read and review, I'm like a fat, hungry Italian man, and reviews are like delicious spaghetti to me.