Chapter 10: Basic Water Training: The Gate Guarding Duo
In which Ino receives a crash course in water…
A chill ran down Kakashi's spine as he entered his greatest nightmare: Konoha First Ninja Bank. Instead of traditional walls, the outside was full of glass panels, giving the building a unique allure compared to most other banks. It seemed fragile, but Kakashi knew it was anything but.
The inside was pure white, akin to a hospital room, Kakashi's second greatest nightmare, with men and women walking around dressed in expensive business kimonos. No intricate patterns, just single colors; most were blue but a few he saw were black or steel gray, made out of the finest fabric he'd seen. No normal bank would require their employees to dress as such, but then again, this wasn't a normal bank, it was Hiashi's bank.
"Hatake Kakashi!" A large woman rounded the corner, her curled brown hair bouncing with fury. "Take off that mask at this instance!"
"Well, if it isn't my favorite bank manager." Kakashi held up a hand in his usual greeting gesture.
"This isn't some place for you to play ninja. Take it off or I'll throw you out!" The woman warned.
"Is there a problem?" Hiashi questioned as he and Hinata walked through the glass sliding doors.
The woman pointed at Kakashi accusingly, "Sorry milord, but this here ninja refuses to remove his mask!"
"I'm well aware of Kakashi's habits, but he's here on official business." Hiashi's lavender eyes rested on the woman, "Kakashi is excused from this moment on. Do I make myself clear?"
The woman's accusing hand dropped to her side, all fury that once seethed out of her pours ceased to exist, replace by a chilling fear. "Y-y-yes milord. Forgive me Hatake-san, I was unaware." The woman bowed at the jonin.
"That's alright." Kakashi looked around the bank, at the various desks, "So tell me. Where do you keep your records?"
Thud! "Here we go." Naruto chimed merrily as he sat another stack of books on the desk in a rather haphazard way, the scattering dust revealing the books' lack of recent use.
"And this is?" Ino looked at the books with a cocked eyebrow, fearful at already knowing the answer.
"Volumes one through eight on chakra manipulation. Written in detail by the Third himself." Naruto boasted proudly. Ino cringed as she look at the pile of books to here left, ranging from water jutsus to chakra control to nature transformation.
"This is going to take us forever!" She whined hitting her head on the desk in defeat.
"Well you said you wanted to do one-on-one training." Naruto pulled out a chair beside her and lazily plopped into it, immediately placing an elbow on the table with his head resting in his hand.
"I know I know." Ino said, "But with all these books it'll take me months to read them!"
"Well, don't think we could practice the way I did." Naruto nonchalantly threw out, unaware of the consequences of his comment.
Energy renewed, Ino pushed her head off the desk and turned toward Naruto, "You mean there's another way other than just studying?" Her eyes lit up at such a prospect.
"Well, I didn't mean it like that. You'd have to have a lot of chakra in order to do it. And we'd need someone to explain the basics to us first." Naruto immediately leaned back to create some distance away from woman as she shadowed over him more and more as each passing second.
"Come on, Naruto, spill it!" She leaned closer, causing the jinchūriki to fall back out of his chair. "Ah!." Came the scream, forcing a giggle to escape her throat.
Naruto had this gut feeling he was going to regret opening his mouth…
Kakashi, Hiashi and Hinata spread around the main officer in the bank, each at a different desk sorting through hundreds of scrolls and folders. "IC loans, IP loans, Itkia loans…" Kakashi read out loud as he rummaged through a filing cabinet labeled "Loans I-N".
"Found it!" Hinata held up two manila folders from her desk. In the blink of an eye, Hiashi and Kakashi were at her desk with both folders open with it's contents neatly sprawled out.
"Excellent job Hinata." Hiashi commented. "Kushina's and Naruto's current bank records." The trio began the long process of looking at the numbers.
"I see." Hiashi said out loud.
"What is it?" Kakashi's only good eye looked at the paper Hiashi was, and followed the Noble's finger as it slid to Naruto's name. The finger slid even further, over a series of numbers until it stopped on a single letter.
"A clan tax? It's what made me come to you in the first place, but what's so special about it.?" Kakashi asked.
"This clan tax is different. See how it has the squiggly line above it that's colored pink?" Kakashi nodded as Hinata began to explain, "That symbol means the tax isn't going to the village treasury, but straight to a public program. Some clans have made a request that part their taxes be used for specific purposes, like our schools for example. When the Hokage approves, we add this symbol."
Hiashi removed himself from the desk and approached a large shelf containing numerous books and folders. His hand scoured the shelf, until it stopped and plucked a large book from the masses. "You're only allow to make such requests at the last week of spring each year."
He opened to the middle of the book, then lightly licked his thumb and began to flip through the pages, "Because of that symbol, we can easily look up to see what sort of program the tax is going to. That should take us to the source."
"Captain Yamato!" Naruto and Ino shouted in unison. The part-time ANBU and current second-in-command of Team Kakashi looked up from his glass.
"Naruto, how'd you know where to find me?" Yamato stared at genin. Any expression he may have had was carefully concealed.
"Oi, everyone knows this is your favorite bar." Naruto said folding his arms. Indeed it was a bar. The same one Ino had dragged Naruto too if his memory was right. "Only reason why we're looking for you is because Ino's trying to learn water manipulation."
"I see. Well, you came to the right person." Yamato chugged down the last of his sake and wiped his lips with his sleeve, "So when do we start?" He sat the glass down and turned his full attention to the two blondes.
"Sorry, I kinda promised Ino it'd be one-on-one. We just came here to ask for advice." Naruto nervously rubbed the back of his head, slightly embarrassed.
"Oh… OH!" Yamato spoke, his mind quickly jumping to the conclusions.
"Not like that!" Naruto quickly protested raising a fist. "I just helping!"
"Oh, come on Naruto-kun." Ino grabbed hold of his arm and whispered into his ear. "No need to be shy."
Blood rushed through the teen's cheek as Ino said those words, causing Yamato to burst out laughing. "Stop that! It's not like that, I swear!" Naruto protested some more.
"It's okay Naruto, I believe you." Yamato chuckled while Ino winked and flashed him a victory sign.
"He's quick to protest, but doesn't complain when some beautiful girl grabs him by the arm." Ino giggled as Naruto shook his head in disbelief.
"Shikamaru and Choji weren't lying when they said you're a handful."
"Now, onto business." Yamato clapped his hands together and began to rub them, "So how much exactly do you know?"
"Err I know plenty about wind manipulation. I'm just unfamiliar with water period." Naruto admitted.
"I see. Ino, hold out your hand." Yamato raised a finger and ordered a glass of water. Ino released Naruto's arm and held out her hand, as if expecting to be given something.
Yamato took the glass from the waitress and turned to the girl, and without warning, began to pour the water in her hand. "What the hell are you doing!" Ino shouted at the jonin and pulled her hand away.
"Teaching. Put your hand back out." Yamato instructed. Reluctantly the blonde haired Yamanaka heiress did as she was told, and once again Yamato slowly poured the water into the palm of her hand. "Notice how the water flows freely? Never stopping, just flowing around any and all obstacles. Much like a river, you can't grab it or stop it, but you can control the flow. Now imagine this water is your chakra."
Yamato sat the empty glass down and slid off the barstool to a kneeling position in front of the puddle he created with the two blondes doing the same, "Once you grasp that, you can control any water around you. Whether it's a river, the humidity in the air, or even a small glass of water." The water on the floor jumped as if it had a life on it's own and into a spinning ball in Yamato's hand.
"In a sense, it's one of the easiest elements to manipulate, but unlike earth or fire, it requires a greater deal of finesse and concentration. The water is never a part of you, rather, it's an extension, and you must learn to feel beyond more than just your body in order to control it." Yamato stood up with the ball of spinning water. The ball came to a sudden halt before leaping from the hand and back into the glass.
"I think I get it." Ino stared at the glass in wonder. Never had she imagined just how complicated nature manipulation really was.
"The best teachers are trial and error." Yamato said, raising a finger to order another glass of sake.
"Thank you." Ino bowed gracefully before grabbing Naruto by the arm and pulling him out of the bar.
"Heh, kids." The jonin chuckled before chugging down his sake.
"Hmm." Hiashi sat the large book down, his mind focused on it's contents, "Kakashi, you mind doing me a favor?" The noble turned toward the jonin's eyes were focused on a scroll.
"I need you to go ask Lady Tsunade if I can see her records from the treasury. I have a hunch our answer will be there."
Kakashi closed the scroll, "The treasury won't be open for another couple of days."
"I'm aware of that. But this way she can begin the necessary arrangements for us." Hiashi stood up from the desk with the massive book tucked under his arm. "I'll be heading home. There's a few things I want to look over in the meantime. Hinata?" Hiashi's gaze rested on the young heiress.
"Yes, father?" The meek girl replied.
"I need you to clean up this mess. Be sure everything is in the correct order. We can't leave a trail as to what we're up to."
Night began to settle over the large village. The cool autumn wind carried through the streets, carrying leaves in a gravity defying dance. The once busy streets had quieted down, only shops with questionable patrons continued to remain open. Doors began to lock and light's were turned on, forcing the darkness away.
"Dammit!" A disappointed Ino Yamanaka could be heard from her kitchen. A glass of water sat on the table with her over it, both hands held out with palms open aimed at the fragile container. "Captain Yamato did this so much easier." She sighed in defeat.
"Oh come on, this takes most people years. Cheer up." Naruto said from the other side of the kitchen, his head buried in their refrigerator. Finding his target, a can of tea, Naruto shut the door and sat back at the table pulling back the can's tab.
"Oh yeah? And how long did it take you to?" Ino queried, her eyes fixed on the blonde.
"A week. Well just for the basics." Naruto informed.
"A week?" Naruto cringed at Ino's comment. "It took you a week and now look at you!"
Naruto shook his head, "I said a week for the basics. It took me a year to completely master wind. And I cheated with the help of my shadow clones, so imagine how long it would've taken me if I had done things like everyone else."
"I hate night shift." Kotetsu grumbled from his chair. "It's always so booooring." He emphasized the last part.
"It's part of our job. And if you hadn't played hooky the other day, we wouldn't be in this mess." Izumo said sternly. "We're just lucky the Fifth didn't kick our ass."
"Oh man what I wouldn't do for a nice meal right about now." The chunin leaned back in his chair, lazily staring at the star filled sky.
"Someone help!" A woman's voice cried out, both men's quickly snapping toward the gate. A shadowy silhouette could be seen in the distance, but the lack of lighting prevented them from seeing anything in detail.
"What's going on?" Kotetsu said to his partner as both men jumped over the booth.
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" Izumo yelled at his partner as both men ran in a mad dash to the silhouette. It didn't take long until they were able to get a good view of bloodied woman with a small child in her arms.
"What's going on?" Izumo's question was more to himself than to the woman. Without warning, two men, one large and the other quite skinny, landed between them in the woman. Their clothing resembled shinobi gi's that ninja's once wore well over a century ago. The last time either one of them had seen such an outfit it was in a movie set in some far off ancient country.
"I'm sorry." The skinny man began, "But I'm afraid this doesn't concern you leaf punks. Now go ahead and scram! It's bad enough we have to deal with trash like this." Kotetsu and Izumo's eyes narrowed on the katana in the man's eye.
"Kotetsu, you see that?" Izumo pointed at the blood coated blade. His partner nodded while pulling out a kunai.
"Hey, Ko, looks like they want to fight." The skinny ninja pointed out.
"Ha ha they so dumb." The dim witted large man reached to his back, flipping a giant axe over his shoulder and down in front. "Ko play with puny people. Maybe then Ko not be so angry."
"Soooo…" Izumo turned to his partner, "About that meal?"
"First one to take one out gets treated to a meal at Akimichi's." Kotetsu planted his feet, kunai poised forward.
"You're on!" Izumo leapt at skinny ninja, launching a kunai ahead of him. Clank! The small kunai was deflected by the katana. "Gotcha!" Izumo's fist drove into the ninja's face, sending him flying against a tree.
"Me chop you to pieces!" The large ninja hefted his axe with relative easy before bringing it down in a massive blow. The blade missing it's agile target and digging itself into the soft soil.
"Too slow!" Kotetsu jumped at the man and threw a kick into his neck. The man, seemingly unphased slapped Kotetsu back with his forearm. Kotetsu threw out a hand before he hit the ground to spring himself upright and onto his feet, still sliding several more feet from the momentum before coming to a stop.
"Man, you may be slow, but you're a fucking elephant." Kotetsu threw the kunai at the behemoth only for it to be batted away by the axe. "Guess I'll need something bigger!"
Poof! Kotetsu threw out his scroll and a giant mace with a conch shell for a head appeared in a puff of smoke. "Let's see who's bigger!"
The skinny ninja flipped to his feet and lunged at Izumo, barely missing the stab. He regained his composer and swung the sword in a mighty swing. Cling! Kunai and sword met. "Stupid punk." The skinny man seethed as Izumo held the sword at bay with a meer kunai in hand.
Clank! Clank! A fury of swipes tore through the air, as steel met steel in a series of vicious blows. And with each blow, a new gash appeared on the kunai. "Damn, that's too high quality of a weapon for him to just be a bandit." Izumo gritted his teeth.
Fwoosh! He ducked the katana and spun around, his foot swinging out and catching the skinny ninja by the legs. Thud! Carried by momentum, he continued the spin while bringing the kunai up, and launching it in a blind throw. "Arg!" He heard the painful grunt as the kunai struck true and buried itself in the skinny ninja's shoulder.
"Ko!" The skinny ninja cried for help. A whirling grey appeared in the corner of Izumo's eye. His ninja instincts kicked in and he jumped back as an axe came digging itself into the ground where he once stood.
"Puny man leave friend alone." The large man shouted in rage, baring his badly cared for teeth, or what was left on them, at Izumo like a rabid wolf.
"Don't forget about me, stupid!" Kotetsu called out. Pow! His conch shell mace slammed into the side of the large man's head and sending the towering giant to the ground. Blood poured profusely and soiled the ground, forcing Kotetsu to turn his head or risk losing what little food was in his stomach.
"I won't forget this." The skinny ninja stood up, dropping his katana due to the pain from his shoulder. With his good arm, he dug into his stain red leather pouch on his belt and pulled out three pellets.
"Shield your eyes!" Izumo called out while shutting his eyes tight and covering them with his arm. The skinny ninja slammed the three pellets to the ground; and in a blinding flash of light, he was gone. The only sign of where he once stood was a puddle of blood and the blood stained katana.
"Coward." Izumo hissed under his breath. He scoured the area looking for any signs of his partner. Remembering the woman, he turned to her general direction to find Kotetsu leaning over her with two fingers pressed against her neck. The child, a young girl, crying into his shoulder screaming "Sister!" repeatedly.
"How is she?" Izumo walked to the woman, his eyes tracing over her body for an signs of visible wounds. Or rather, any sort of wounds that would prevent them from moving her. Her blouse and skirt were in shreds, stained with blood. From the looks of her clothes, he'd have to guess she had lived on one of the rice fields up north or on a farm to the east.
"She's badly hurt, but if we get her to the hospital soon, we can save her." Kotetsu scooped the woman in his arms.
Izumo nodded while grabbing the child, "Let's go."
"What about the gate?" Kotetsu asked in concern.
"Fuck the gate. If Tsunade asks I'll take full blame." Izumo said with Kotetsu silently agreeing. In a whirl of leaves, both ninjas shunshined from the site, determined to save the young girl's life.
AN: Well another chapter out. I found the fight scene a little harder than I thought. While some times I like epic fights, some of the best fights are short and sweet. Spike Vs Vicious, Ed Vs Greed, just to give an example. I wanted to capture that, but found it a bigger challenge than what I thought. Also felt if I saved long fights for a period when it actually makes sense. Also, I realize there's quite bit going on in this chapter, but it's to further along the plot. Next chapter is going to focus mostly on Naruto/Ino, promise. And with Jiraiya as his mentor, you can bet Naruto already knows the best place to go to for water training. Of course things might get a little steamy...