Will of Fire, Heart of Rock

Disclaimer: Hi there, my name's Kishimoto, and I totally own Naruto. (Grin)

AN: Not much to say about this. It's my first fic and I'm hoping anyone who reads this enjoys it. Some feedback would be helpful as well, seeing as I have very little experience in writing.

I

Naruto sat on a worn, moss-covered log, poking at a smoldering campfire. His eyes reflecting the anger and annoyance he felt towards his absent sensei. The young gennin was currently located a few miles from the nearest town, where the Toad Sage had left him to set up camp.

They could have easily traveled the remaining distance and gotten a hotel, and maybe had a decent meal. But no, the sage had said he didn't want Naruto to get used to the comforts of civilization.

Naruto snorted briefly at that thought, prodding a few loose sticks and throwing some more grass onto the flames.

What Jiraiya had really meant was that he wanted to save up his money so he could go to the recently opened brothel. That was okay with Naruto though, because it meant he'd get to eat all the rations. But still…

It had been a little under six months since they'd left to train for the threat of Akatsuki, and Naruto had yet to make any real progress. And while he wasn't the kind of person to blame others for his failings, he was certain it was Ero-Sannin's fault.

The only thing he had 'taught' Naruto as of yet was how to further access the Kyuubi's youkai easier. And even that small scrap of teaching had only come after Naruto had shown he was proficient enough in the rasengan that he only had to use one hand.

Naruto sighed forlornly as he began to rekindle the forgotten fire. Mopping wasn't his thing though, so he decided to do something constructive. Positioning himself comfortably on the log, he began to go over all the techniques he knew. To see how he measured up to… him, so far.

Sasuke.

His posture wilted slightly, remembering his lost comrade. He'd have to work twice as hard to bring the Teme back, he decided, as he was now the apprentice of a sannin. A much more dedicated sannin, he thought bitterly to himself. Pushing those undeniably emo thoughts to the back of his mind, he began to go through his inventory of jutsu.

I

Onoki sighed tiredly as he scratched his initials on another scrap of paper, moving it into a quickly growing pile. The Village Hidden in the Rocks witnessing a rather peaceful sunset, much earlier than most places due to its natural mountain enclosure. The Tsuchikage had no time for such things though, as he knew there were at least a few important papers he needed to get to somewhere in the pile.

Sneering at yet another request for the funds required to build a shrine dedicated to one Deidara, formerly of Iwa. Quickly signing his initials in the space labeled 'DENIED', he moved onto the next form.

And it was then, in the waning light of the Iwa Kage Tower, that the Tsuchikage felt a large shudder run through his entire body. Perhaps an omen of future comings, or simply a reply to the opened window behind him, the Tsuchikage didn't know.

He knew something for sure though. Pain.

"AGH! My back!"

I

In the complete silence of the forest, a certain jumpsuit wearing teen meditated quietly on a log. A bystander would marvel at how the figure blended in so completely with nature, and yet so blatantly stood out. But while on the outside Naruto seemed entirely at peace, on the inside he was on the verge of panicking.

I only know three offensive techniques? Naruto screamed to himself.

He supposed he knew why he'd never thought of it before. What with all the time-consuming missions he'd gone through, the Sand-Sound invasion, and Sasuke's defection, he'd been entirely focused on surviving.

He'd survived well enough, but at this point things weren't looking too good. While Rasengan, Kage Bunshin, and Kuchiyose were all very impressive jutsu, they wouldn't help him very much in the coming years.

Not only would Sasuke be stronger than ever, but he still had to worry about the Akatsuki. Kisame and Itachi. Two he'd met for the briefest periods of time, yet they'd both made a deep impression on him. So powerful, that one of them had single-handedly defeated a trio of jounin. One of them – his sensei – an elite.

This would not be enough. Not even close. He couldn't rely on the Kyuubi to help him either, as the damn fox had almost taken control during Naruto and Jiraiya's seldom 'training sessions'. Not even hours of washing in a nearby stream could rid him of the disgusting wisps of youkai coursing through his system.

Naruto's eyes snapped open, and there was a determined glint in his eyes. Slowly getting up and gathering his things, he made his way over to the Toad Sage's bag. Rummaging around for a few minutes, he laid out the items in front of him carefully, analyzing each and every one of them.

A sannin had no need for such things as kunai and shuriken, so it seemed he wouldn't be restocking those anytime soon. There were other things there though, he noticed, very valuable things.

The first thing, a scroll filled with Doton jutsu, ranging from C to A-rank. These would be very valuable, he decided, upon noticing that they were mostly defensive techniques.

The second, a small stack of clear white paper, made him frown in puzzlement. He eventually stowed them in his pack, reasoning that Ero-sannin wouldn't have them if they didn't serve a purpose.

Third in his findings was something resembling a Bingo Book, but upon opening it, revealed information on all of the Akatsuki members. Naruto stared at the many filled pages for several moments, before grinning slightly and stowing the book in his front pocket.

Naruto stared at the next pair of items in front of him, a bead of perspiration traveling down the back of his neck. A pair of wooden geta with metal gripping. Unbelievable.

Glancing at his own sandals, he sighed resignedly, taking off the nearly shredded materials. Replacing them with the geta, he found that not only were they comfortable, (most-likely because of the smooth grooves expertly carved into the heel and pad areas) but they were his exact size. He chuckled wryly; Ero-sennin must have expected him to wear out his sandals.

Turning his attention to the last item, a large storage scroll, he curiously picked it up and examined it. After his attempts of opening it with chakra failed, he looked a little closer. And though he knew next to nothing about seals, he vaguely recognized this one as some type of blood seal.

Damnit, that meant he probably wouldn't be able to get into it. But, as if pushed by an invisible force, he bit his thumb and swiped his blood across it. Eh, he figured, what the hell?

When the scroll began to shudder, Naruto thought he'd done something wrong.

Shit! He thought frantically, as the scroll began to smoke. Was it going to explode? Spray him with poison? Summon some vicious beast? The list of possibilities went on and Naruto quickly found shelter behind a large tree.

Twisting his head around the trunk, he watched in trepidation, before heaving a sigh of relief when the scroll suddenly stopped. It then exploded into smoke.

Cautiously making his way towards the smoke, he hurriedly waved it away with his hand, and then proceeded to gape at the sight before him.

There lay en even larger scroll than the one it was sealed in, with the kanji for 'Thunder' on the seal in golden ink; and on top of the large mystery scroll, balanced a single kunai.

It had three prongs.

I

Deep in the bowels of a hidden cave, a masked figure suddenly stopped what he'd been doing and looked up to the ceiling. A close observer would have notice the crimson eye in the mask's single hole morph from a three-tomoe state into a strange combination of thick diagonal lines and circles.

The man glared into oblivion for a moment more, muttering something incomprehensible, before continuing briskly down the hallway. Reaching a large sealed door, he casually added chakra and opened the door without so much as a warning to the inhabitants.

A pair of dull purple ringed eyes stared at the masked figure seriously, ushering the man into the room without a word.

The robed man strolled over to the chair in front of the large desk, sitting down and propping his feet up on the table. The strange eyes flashed dangerously for a moment, before dimming.

"To what do I owe the honor, Madara?"

I

Naruto stared at the scroll held in his hands, which trembled ever so slightly; the Hiraishin (Flying Thunder God) technique. The Yondaime's most prized jutsu, which virtually won the Third Great Shinobi War for Konoha.

And he was holding it.

The jutsu capable of transporting his idol to any place the seal existed in less than a millisecond. So fast that the barest of a yellow flash was all that could be seen by those who'd witnessed his technique.

And this kunai, Naruto thought, reverently staring at its smooth surface, was the tool that he used to do it.

Quickly sealing both back into the smaller storage scroll, he stuffed it into his pack and closed the flaps. He stared sadly at the camp, and then in the direction of the city. Pulling out one of the pieces of paper from his pack, he scrawled down a quick message.

He stood there for a while longer, almost hoping that his sensei would arrive and offer him to do something. Anything. But nobody came, as to be expected of the great Toad Sage of Konoha.

And just like that Naruto left. His wooden geta making soft clunking noises against the branches as he took to the trees, heading in the opposite direction of the sannin.

He didn't look back.

I

Jiraiya stumbled through the forest, giggling stupidly while thinking of the many fine specimens he'd researched that night.

Upon making it to the camp site, he was slightly annoyed that the fire had long since died out. Damn inconsiderate brats… He lit the flames again with a minor Katon jutsu, stretching himself out with a yawn. Taking a seat on the log he reached for the bag of rations, only to feel air.

Looking down, his eyes lit up with fury seeing the bag completely empty. Storming angrily over to the tent and opened the flap, yelling at the top of his lungs.

"Gaki! Where do you get off eating all of my-!" The old sannin paused, blinking confusedly at the empty sleeping bag.

Feeling slightly worried, he quickly sent out a pulse of chakra, reassuring himself as he did. The gaki was probably just down by the stream taking a bath or something.

But he didn't feel the kid's chakra signature. And that was saying something, considering the young gennin's chakra was like a lighthouse compared to most jounin he knew.

Rushing back out to the camp, he quickly checked his bag, and began to curse like sailor. All of his things were gone, including the Hiraishin scroll!

A slight rustle caught his attention, and he quickly drew his hand out of the bag, holding a small piece of paper. There was some messy kanji scrawled on the front.

Hey there Ero-sennin. Since you're reading this I'm guessing you've finally returned from the brothel.

Jiraiya sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, even though there was nobody there to see it.

Now before you come searching for me, I'm asking you to do me a favor. Just let me be. I promise in two and a half years time I'll return to Konoha, just like we planned.

I know you probably don't feel the same way as me, but I don't think I've learned much at all during this trip. I need to get stronger so I can bring Sasuke back and wreck all those Akatsuki bastards.

And I know you've been holding out on me. Don't worry, I'll make good use of the Hiraishin.

Here there was a small chibi Naruto waving the peace sign at him.

Yours Truly,

Future Rokudaime A.K.A Uzumaki Naruto

Jiraiya chuckled dryly at that, his mind racing as he thought of all the consequences this could cause. Damnit, Tsunade was going to kill him!

The last thing he thought before leaping off into the trees to the west, was of the paper the note had been written on.

He wrote on my elemental paper! That shit's expensive!

I

Naruto had gone as far as he possibly could last night, and could honestly say that he was exhausted. He'd traveled a lot of ground though, that much was certain, as he gazed at the foreign town.

Having already caught an early breakfast, he steeled himself for what he was about to do. Wandering around the town for awhile, he finally found what he'd been looking for, the Library.

Reluctantly entering through the wooden doors, and walked up to the librarian. He shyly asked if she knew where he could find the maps. The young woman couldn't have been older than eighteen, and she was very beautiful. Her hair was tied up into a bun, and there was a gentle smile on her face.

She happily escorted him to the rack that held said scrolls. She gave him a wink before sauntering back to her desk, leaving the teen to stare after her with a dazed look in his eyes.

Quickly coming back to himself he grabbed a map of the elemental nations.

It took quite some time before he finally pinpointed his location, based on the places he and Jiraiya had already traveled, and quickly found the nearest Hidden Village. He stared at the yellow shaded continent for several minutes. His head hit the table.

"Shit."

I

Tsunade was having a bad day. Or she was having a good day, which automatically made it a bad day. Damnit, why were things always so complicated?

It had started out normally enough, just another day getting hounded by Shizune to finish paperwork she didn't want to. And then the messenger bird had arrived.

The basic rundown of the note was that several of her more persistent debt collectors had suddenly… disappeared. While that had Shizune jumping down in glee, it only served to put her on edge.

Then she'd heard the results of the lotto. The one she'd bought a ticket for every day since she'd returned to Konoha. She'd won the jackpot, bonus numbers and everything. That had her tensed up for the rest of the day.

That's when it happened. She'd finally broken into her sensei's sake stash. The one with the impossibly complicated chakra enforced combination that required a massive amount of luck to crack if you didn't know the codes. She'd stared at the enormous room in a sort of demented wonder, before the full implications sunk in.

So now she was hiding under her desk, readying for the apocalypse that she was sure was approaching.

When right in front of her, a poof of smoke erupted. It was a toad the size of her head.

It wasn't the apocalypse, she decided, seeing the grave expression on its face. But it might be just as bad.

I

It had taken a few days, but Naruto had finally reached his destination. He decided to relax for the remaining duration of the day, seeing as it was almost sun set. Sitting calmly under one of the many waterfalls, Naruto meditated.

The sounds of nature slowly faded away, until all he heard was a heavy, constant thrum. And then, darkness.

Naruto 'woke-up' to find himself in his mindscape. Alright, now it was time to get this over with. The reason for his horrid chakra control and constant neglect, the Kyuubi, was at the end of the corridor.

Finally reaching the gates that trapped his prisoner, he calmly waited for the fox to acknowledge his presence. After what seemed like a few minutes, an enormous crimson eye cracked open, staring at him with an intensity that would have terrified him if he weren't Uzumaki Naruto.

What do you want, ningen? The Kyuubi's voice echoed off the stone walls of his mind, causing an annoying ringing in his ear.

"I want you to stop filtering me chakra," Naruto said firmly.

The great Bijuu stared at him for a moment, its eyes dancing with amusement.

And why should I do what you say? It replied, more entertained than anything else at the thought of a human telling it what to do.

"Because it's messing up my control. If I don't have control, that means I can't improve as much as I could with at least an average amount. And If my skills aren't up to par, then it's just going to make the Akatsuki's job that much easier."

If the demon had had a hand to wave the human off with, it would have done so.

Your little techniques are worthless either way. You'll never find a power greater than mine, and those pesky flies that are after us will never be able to match it. For all I care, you can rot in a cave until they find us. It won't make any difference.

It seems pretty sure of itself, Naruto thought.

"But what if the members of Akatsuki have means of surpressing your power? Remember the forest of death? Orochimaru easily sealed you away and he isn't even close to being a seals master. And if I have to rely on your power for every confrontation, I'll be helpless in the face of someone able to counter it."

That gave the demon pause, images of a certain masked Uchiha coming to mind. It appraised him for a moment, before what felt like an earthquake rumbled through the chamber. The Kyuubi no Youkai was chuckling.

Alright then, Ningen, but on one condition, Naruto's shoulder tensed.

Seeing this, the demon ground out another earthquake-chuckle.

Smart little ningen, aren't you? My demands are rather simple: You must kill Uchiha Madara. If you have not done so within 10 years I will overrun your body with my youkai and destroy you, because unlike one such as yourself, Hell is only a temporary binding for me.

The Kyuubi was of course talking bullshit. Not only was it impossible to force the needed amount of raw youkai beyond the damnable seal, but when they died, they would both go straight to the Shinigami's stomach. Not even the great Kyuubi could escape the God of Death. But the seal was weakening. It was only a matter of time.

And before the confused boy could ask who Madara was and why he had Sasuke's last name, the Bijuu ejected him from his mind.

Naruto regained consciousness soaking wet and shivering, underneath the rushing waters of the small waterfall. He quickly made his way back to his camp, changing his clothes and putting on his geta. The sun had risen almost all the way into the sky, and Naruto nodded his head in satisfaction.

It was time to go.

He spent most of the rest of the day climbing up the mountains surrounding his destination. And finally, the sun almost fully descended, he made it to the top of the large natural structures.

Staring out at the land, he let himself soak in the irony as he surveyed his temporary home.

Iwagakure.

I

Gamakichi wasn't having the best of days. In fact, he'd have to say it was pretty much one of his worst. Cowering behind a nearby chair, he observed the raging Kage bemusedly.

Currently yelling a string of cuss words, the sennin was giving Gamakichi quite the blush. He'd recently delivered the news from his (old and pervy) summoner, and Tsunade wasn't taking it too well.

"That fucking idiot! That no good, god damned piece of shit -," Gamakichi wasn't sure whether it was a deep sense of loyalty after what the two had been through or some masochist urge that made him speak up in defense of his blond bro.

"Hey, Tsunade-hime, don't be too hard on Naruto-Niisan. He's got a lot on his mind right now, and his note did say that he'd be back in two and a half years like you and Jiraiya planned."

He shrank further when the Hokage turned her furious gaze on him. There was some confusion flickering on her face, before realization dawned. Despite the situation, Tsunade chuckled dryly.

"I'm not talking about Naruto-kun," Gamakichi pondered that for a moment, before wincing in sympathy for his other summoner. Most of the things the big-chested blond had said she'd do were things she'd never inflict upon her 'Naruto-kun'. Jiraiya on the other hand…

"S-so, do you want to send Jiraiya-jiji a reply?" It hurt the young toad's pride that he couldn't stop the slight waver in his voice, but he quickly reassured himself that it was perfectly okay in the face of the enraged woman.

Tsunade grinned evilly.

I

Naruto whistled merrily as he set to work. He estimated that his Bunshin had made it over the mountains of Iwa about an hour ago, so they should have found a couple potential jobs by now. All that was left was to set up a permanent camp, and then he could begin training.

A couple minutes later saw our young hero walking out of a cave, hidden behind one of the smaller waterfalls. Lugging the bag of Jiraiya-sensei's things behind him, he found an open clearing hidden in the shadow of the mountains, and unloaded the contents of the pack.

Despite what he may have liked to think, he knew he wasn't ready to start training in the Hiraishin yet. Not only did he know less than the average ninja about seals, but most of the things in the scroll made no sense to him at all to him.

Moving on to the next most puzzling objects, the blank papers, he pondered on what they could possibly be used for. Curiously picking one up and twirling it around in his fingers, he noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe it was just regular old paper?

An idea suddenly popped into his head, and he figured he might as well try it out. His assumption proved correct when the paper reacted to his chakra.

Naruto stared at it for a moment. Well, that was certainly strange.

Dropping the two pieces of paper, he proceeded onto the Doton scroll. He grinned seeing the first jutsu on the scroll. It was only a D-rank to be sure, but a very useful one.

Earth Release: Double Suicide Decapitation Technique. A jutsu that allowed one two burrow underground and drag his target down below with him, leaving them immobile, or dead.

It certainly brought him back. A sudden rush of information from his dispelled Bunshin alerted him to the fact that he had an interview tomorrow for a place called Nakomaru Armory. He frowned slightly at the fact that it was the only job opening his clone had been able to find.

Oh well, Naruto thought, I'll just have to be twice as impressive tomorrow.

And with that comforting thought, Naruto got to work.

I

AN: Hey there readers, I hope you liked my first chapter. I know that it's pathetically short, but it's a start, right? So, any reviews and constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated. The same goes for any potential Beta's.

07/16/10- I edited the scene with Kyuubi a bit, as Naruto's reasoning in the original version wsan't very convincing. Hope you enjoyed it.