"Talking"

'Thinking"

"Hollow Talking"

'Hollow Thinking"

Zanpakuto Talking/Thinking

--(Scene Change)--

-(Location)-

A/N: Chapter 4 online. I'll admit, I wanted to get more done in this chapter, but I have been really busy lately. I don't know when the next chapter will be out, like I said , I've been really busy and don't know when I'll have time. Sorry.

Anyway, I hope you like the chapter, it has some more Naruto/Retsu interaction which I hope I did well. Please tell me what you think and enjoy!

Chapter IV : Learning The Ropes

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'How the hell did I get myself into this' Naruto thought as stood in front of an extremely old looking man sitting in a throne like chair who was looking at him with an intense gaze.

It had been simple at first, or so he thought. He really had nothing better to do, plus he had a feeling he would be going whether he agreed or not. The trek down the mountain was rather easy, as was the walk to the huge wall. The Retsu women was nice, almost startlingly so, she make for a good conversation as they talked about trivial things until they reached the wall.

Then the weird stuff began to happen. This ape like creature, that looked about thirty feet tall came down from nowhere, surprising the hell out of him. Retsu had talked to him, and they were allowed entrance though a large wooden gate, which had to be lifted up by the gigantic creature.

As the walked through the area, Naruto was amazed at its difference from Junrinan. While Junrinan was by no means a slum, it simply couldn't compare to the splendor to Seireitei. It would be like comparing a hot dog stand to a five star restaurant.

Giving a mental sigh, he remembered the...enlightening conversation they had prior to arrival at the First Division headquarters.

--(Flashback)--

As they walked down the cobblestone road Naruto noticed a lot of people wearing black uniforms bowing to Retsu, who was smiling at them.

"Quite popular here, aren't you" he recalled remarking to her as he saw this show of respect. "Hard to believe such respect would be given to a simple medic"

Retsu gave the blond beside him an amused look as she heard those words. She could almost see the faces of various Shinigami pale as the heard the disrespect given to a captain of the Gotei 13.

"I suppose I never did properly introduce myself" she mused out loud. "My name is Retsu Unohana, captain of the fourth division of the Gotei 13."

"Captain eh?" Naruto asked, noticing the title she gave. "So, does that mean among the Shinigami ranks, you're one of the strongest?"

Retsu raised an eyebrow as she heard this. "Interesting" she said, a bit impressed "I never said anything about Shinigami except for that tidbit on the mountain, did you infer all of this yourself? To answer your question though, yes. Among the ranks of Shinigami, the captains rank as the most powerful."

"I see..." Naruto said as his bangs covered his eyes "and can I assume that among the ranks of captains, you are among the top."

At this Retsu narrowed her eyes slightly. Naruto's predictions were accurate, alarmingly so. "What makes you think that?" she asked softly.

"Never mind" Naruto replied, a small smile forming as he heard the response "That's all I need to know."

"Since you introduced yourself fully, it would only be polite to do so as well I guess." he said suddenly after a few seconds of silence. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze" he said, looking up the the sky and seeing the faces of all of his friends back in life like he had those long years ago. This time was a bit different though, they were waving to him, as if saying goodbye. "I am the Rokudaime Hokage" he said, smiling towards the heavens as the image of his friends faded from view, never to be seen again. Unknown to him, his sword gave a soft pulse, as if satisfied somehow.

--(End Flashback)--

Now, Naruto was not one to be intimidated easily, much less by feeble looking old men, but this guy was scary. He didn't look like much, in fact, he looked like he would be blown over in the gentlest wind.

It was his power that was overwhelming. While Retsu's was always under control, and hidden beneath the surface, this man's power filled the room. Naruto could feel an almost fiery feel to his energy, it felt like he was suffocating.

"Interesting" the old man said at last. His voice was very deep, and it was like his words themselves held tremendous amounts of power. He had to consciously stop a shiver from forcing its way through his body.

As if someone had flipped a light switch, the power receded and Naruto felt about a thousand pounds lighter.

Feeling his face, he was surprised to see sweat built up on his face. Hastily wiping it away with his sleeve, he stared at the old man.

'What the hell is he' he thought, he was actually panting from the exertion. 'This presence, it feels even more immense than the Kyuubi. How is this possible'

"It is as Unohana had said." The old man mused, stroking his beard and hiding his surprise under an air of nonchalance. "You are very impressive, to withstand my reiatsu to such an extent, it is a feat not many can accomplish."

"Errr, not to be rude" Naruto replied, confused. "But how could Retsu tell you anything, and what is reiatsu."

"Refer to her as Captain Unohana" the old man growled out in annoyance, "As for your question's, reiatsu is the power of the soul. The energy which allows Shinigami to preform incredible acts. As for how I know about you, Captain Unohana send a hell butterfly ahead to inform me of your arrival."

"I see..." Naruto said, resisting to urge to roll his eyes. How the hell was that suppose to help him? He could have figured that out himself. "So why exactly am I hear?" he asked politely. Hey, he may not like the old man in front of him, but he could sure the hey tell the difference in power.

"Captain Unohana had sent me a hell butterfly, detailing a powerful soul she had discovered in Rukongai. She requested that I personally judge you, and determine your fate. Of course, I was skeptical, but now I can see why." the old man said, in his deep, powerful tone. "You hold much power in you" he said, looking him in the eyes. "It has been a long time since someone has manifested their own zanpakuto without outside assistance."

"Zanpakuto?" Naruto questioned, letting the word roll off his tongue.

"Your sword" the old man said, gesturing to the blade now held at the blonds side. "It will all be explained in time." he said finality. As those words left his mouth, the door to the room opened, and the black haired Shinigami woman stepped back in the room. "Captain Unohana has agreed to show you around, ask her any questions you may have" he said gruffly, nodding to the two, obviously a dismissal.

Scampering out of the room as quickly as he could, Naruto now found himself walking down a cobblestone road with the Shinigami captain once again.

"So, Ret...errr Captain Unohana" Naruto said, just catching himself at the end, remembering the old man's warning. If this woman's power was anything like the old man's, it might be a good idea to not say anything insulting.

"Its alright" Retsu said with a smile directed at the blond "I see the commander spoke with you. You can call me Retsu if you like Naruto, it is nice to hear my first name now and then."

"Errr...okay Retsu" Naruto said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head "So..." he said, trailing off, "What's going to happen to me and why do I not seem to get a choice?" he finally asked, raising an eyebrow at the end.

The black haired woman gave a reassuring smile. "Its for the best" she said "Those who posses reiastu are immediately entered in the Shinou Academy, where you will learn the four arts of being a Shinigami. Hakuda, or hand to hand combat. Hoho, or agility training. Kido, or demon magic. And then finally, Zanjutsu, or the art of the sword. As for why you need to enter, its quite simple. Those who have reiatsu not only feel hunger and thirst, while normal citizen's do not, but those with sufficient power can have adverse effects on those around them." she finished, hoping her explanation was sufficient.

"I see..." Naruto answered, digesting the information. "What exactly is a zanpakuto?" he asked curiously.

Retsu smiled as she heard the question, she knew it was only a matter of time before that subject came up. "A zanpakuto is the weapon of a Shinigami. It is born form our soul. No two Shinigami wield the same blade, just as no two souls are the same. When a Shinigami learns of their zanpakuto's spirit, they are allowed to use the next level of power, called Shikai." she explained.

"So then that voice...." Naruto trailed off, thinking about that women in his head.

"Yes" Retsu replied, "It is your Zanpakuto spirit. I assume its tried to tell you its name." she asked.

"Eh, no" Naruto replied sheepishly, "Is she suppose to?" he asked curiously, tilting his head slightly.

Retsu raised an eyebrow at this comment. "Yes" she responded, a bit perplexed "A zanpakuto normally tries to inform its wielder of their name as soon as they can see them. I have never heard of a case where a zanpakuto spirit refuses to give its name. This is what's happening to you?" she asked.

"Hehe, yeah I guess" Naruto said sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. "She refuses to even try to tell he her name. She keeps saying I have to earn the right." he mused.

"Interesting" Restu replied, mind working furiously. 'Such a stubborn Zanpakutpo spirit.' she pondered in her head. 'Such an experiance almost sounds like a Shinigami attempting to preform Ban-Kai.'

"It is unique" she admitted. "But I wouldn't worry about it to much" she reassured with a smile.

"So...." Naruto trailed off, "this Shinou Academy, whats it like?" he asked.

Retsu's eyes became a bit unfocused as she remembered her own days at the academy. "It is rather enjoyable." she said, thinking of all the fun she had, before the responsibilities of captaincy. "The normal curriculum lasts for four years, though from what I saw, you could finished in substantially less time. Souls from all over Rukongai attend, its a good opportunity to meet new people." she explained.

'Sounds a lot like the Ninja Academy back in Konoha." Naruto thought, listening to the explanation. "This time, at least I won't be so foolish." he thought with a mental chuckle, thinking back on his younger days. While he didn't like that he had once been so naive, he did miss the days when life seemed more simple.

"It should be fun then" Naruto said with a true smile, one of his firsts in a long time. "It will be nice to meet some new people."

"I imagine" Retsu replied, looking at the blond. "You must have gotten pretty lonely up their in the mountains by yourself."

"Yeah, sort of" Naruto replied, closing his eyes for a couple of seconds. "On one hand, I really needed the time alone. But on the other, I guess I really did need come company."

Retsu gave a small, content smile as the looked at the blond out of the corner of her eye. He had changed quite a bit from the man she saw hours previous. He seemed more weary, yet there was a spark of fire present as well. It was most curious.

"You are most welcome to visit my division while you have off time" she said. She really did enjoy his company as well. Something was really unique about him, it intrigued her.

"Your division?" Naruto questioned with a small frown. While he knew she was a captain, and she had to lead somebody, he was a tad confused about what the divisions were.

"Yes" Retsu replied, giving a wave to a couple of passing Shinigami who were in a deep bow. "There are thirteen divisions. I am the captain of the fourth division of the Gotei 13. After graduation, you will be assigned to a division." she informed.

"I see" Naruto mused, mulling it over. It was a rather simple command structure he guessed. "What does your squad do exactly?" he asked curiously.

"We are the healing and support squad" she answered, raising her eyebrow at the blond, almost as if daring him to say something about it.

"Eh?" Naruto said, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "So you really are a medic huh?" he asked a bit nervous. In his experience, medics he knew always liked to hit him for some reason.

Retsu gave a chuckle at this. "I am a medic, the mountains house some of the best medical herbs. My division is responsible for the healing of other's. Its a job taken up by those devoted to helping others. Do you understand?" she asked, suddenly turning serious.

"Yeah" Naruto said, bangs hanging over his eyes as he thought about two medic's dear to his heart. The Hachibi was a powerful foe, quite possibly the most dangerous threat the shinobi alliance had faced. He remembered when the news arrived, that the Hachibi had attacked their major medical facility. Sakura and Tsunade managed to destroy the beast, but as the cost of their lives. It was there it was discovered that only the Shinigami had the ability the destroy the Bijuu, at the cost of two human souls. "I understand" he said with a smile. The loss of those two still hurt, but he knew they would want him to get over it. He was the Rokudaime after all.

"I see..." Retsu replied, but before she could continue, she caught sight of the great gates that surrounded the academy. "Well it seems we will have to continue this another time" she remarked as a nondescript looking Shinigami came up to her, gave a deep bow and handed her a few sheets of paper and a key.

"Hmmm" she hummed as she looked over the papers. "Here" she said as she handed over two sheets of paper and the key. "The first has your class list and the second has your room assignment and map."

Before she could say anymore, a black butterfly lander in he finger. "I'm sorry" she said apologetically, "But something has come up in my division, I must take my leave"

With those words, she disappeared from view, thought Naruto could have sworn he heard her swear softly "damn eleventh division"

With a sigh, Naruto took a look at the map, and made his way towards his room. On his way he thought about what he had learned the day. 'This is a lot to take in' he thought, slightly disgruntled. 'I wanted to get away from the killing, the death and yet it appears I've been thrown into it, head first.'

Before this disruptive train of thought consumed him, he had arrived at the door to his room. Shrugging his shoulders he placed the key in the lock and opened the door......to almost walk straight into someone.

"Opps" Naruto he said, narrowly avoiding a tangle. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki, I guess I'm your room-mate" he said, somewhat lamely.

"Hey" came the almost shy voice of the figure ahead of him "My name is Kira, Kira Izuru."

--

A/N:

And...stop. How was it? I'm not sure if went the best, but it was what flowed I guess. I hope the character interaction went okay, its kinda hard to write. As you have noticed, Naruto events are greatly different from canon, but that's okay I guess. I don't know when the next chapter will get up, hopefully not to long for now, but I wanted to get this one out now.

Please enjoy, and I would be grateful if you told me what you think.