24. A Not So Friendly Fight
Story Start: The day after Naruto's Debriefing
Naruto looked up from the chakra paper Kakashi had given him and he had just split when he heard "Dobe, fight me." Looking over his shoulder, he took in the seemingly angrier than usual Sasuke glaring at him and a nervous Sakura who was looking between them with a bit lip. Not turning around, he said "Why? Team sparring day isn't for another three days."
Sasuke's scowl grew bigger as he said "I don't want to wait that long, now fight me!"
"Well I don't want to fight you right now so you're just going to have to wait." Naruto said as he shifted into a Pidgey and flew out of the training ground.
"Where's he going?!" Sasuke asked Kakashi with grit teeth.
"To track down the only Wind Style user of the village to learn what steps he needs to do to train his element, then he's going to the library to look up a few E and D ranked jutsu for his clones to practice while he works. He'll probably be back in about an hour or two." Kakashi said giving him a stern look as he continued "And I don't want you bugging him for a fight when he gets back Sasuke. There will be times where Naruto can't use his partners or transformation skills and instead must rely on good old-fashioned shinobi know how. And while his sealing abilities are coming along rather nicely, he could still use some elemental jutsu in his repertoire. You can wait three measly days to spar with him, for now I want you working on the second step of lightning elemental training I showed you."
Sasuke grit his teeth but seeing the 'I'm not taking no for an answer' look in Kakashi's single eye, went to do as he was told, but not before internally promising to himself that this wasn't over. Kakashi let out a sigh and low enough for no one to hear muttered to himself "What am I going to do with that boy?"
"Um, Kakashi-sensei?" Sakura asked just the little bit timidly.
"Hm, what is it Sakura? Do you want me to test your chakra levels again?" Kakashi asked looking up at his last student.
"Well, it couldn't hurt to do that, but I was wondering if the rumors about Naruto going around are true. The ones that say he and his partners not only fought Tsunade and won but that a task force of his Shadow Clones also killed Orochimaru and then took out every base he had within twenty-four hours."
Kakashi let out a small sigh and said "Yes, they're both true. Naruto's ability to literally turn all the way into so many different creatures allows him to fight extremely effectively, enabling him to adapt to any situation he comes across. Add his ability to create literal armies of Shadow Clones which can also transform and you have one very scary opponent. However, Naruto's transformation ability can also be considered a crutch, one which could prove devastating to rely on if it is ever taken away from him which is why I want him to train in more 'standard' shinobi skills. Thankfully, he agrees with me and is more than willing to put in the effort needed. It should also be noted that the Third was not impressed with how Naruto's clones acted on their own without even bothering to send an update to the original after Orochimaru's death. Even Naruto himself is scared of what that could imply were he to ever make a clone task force to complete a mission any considerable distance away from himself again. The Clones are capable of acting independently after all, rather than being mentally controlled by the caster like most other clone jutsu. Yes, they performed extremely well in eradicating all of the support Orochimaru had gathered over the years, but the fact that they didn't follow the chain of command and just went for it raises the question of whether or not we would be able to trust them. After all, if a team of clones that could transform into Pokemon were to not agree with the orders they were given and turned on the order giver…"
Kakashi trailed off and Sakura shuddered as she said "Most likely nothing but the original and maybe his partners could stop them. No wonder Naruto is so concerned, I know I would be if I had that kind of power at my fingertips."
Kakashi gave an affirmative hum and said "Yes, well thankfully, we will only have to be concerned about it if he has to send clones out on missions without him, and I highly doubt that situation will ever come up now that we know of the risks. So long as he keeps his clones focused on specific tasks then we should be safe. Now then, let's move on and see where you are chakra wise."
Time Skip: Three Days Later
As he entered the training ground Naruto let out a hidden sigh of relief. For the last three days Sasuke had been trying to burn a hole into his head. Clearly, he still remembered the rather fast shut down Naruto had given him back in the Forest of Death and wanted to settle scores. Personally, Naruto didn't give a damn about something that had happened so long ago that didn't really affect him all that much but then again, his default setting wasn't Brooding Angst Prince.
Kakashi had a long-suffering look in his eye as he stood in front of the three log poles, the unofficial sparring start point of the team, Sasuke already in position and practically vibrating with anticipation. Sakura was standing on the river cutting through the training ground while juggling three red balls, clearly a multitasking exercise set up by Kakashi, but even she looked eager to watch the upcoming fight.
Naruto didn't bother wasting his time and went to stand opposite Sasuke. Kakashi looked over Naruto for a moment before he placed a familiar alarm clock on one of the logs and said "Naruto, for either the first ten minutes or the first fight, which ever ends last, I don't want any pokemon abilities, either from you using your partners or you transforming into one, understood?"
"Start off Old School, got it sensei." Naruto said with a nod, releasing his partners and sending a clone with each of them to work on training. Sasuke scowled at the sight of them leaving but didn't say anything, instead slipping into the starting stance of his family's Interceptor style, Sharingan already out and spinning. Naruto made a note not to show the hand signs of any jutsu he did that he didn't want Sasuke copying even as he slipped into a much less formal stance, knees bent and hands held loosely out in front of him, right hand just the slightest bit forward of the left. Seeing both boys were ready, Kakashi gave one last mental sigh before he said "Begin!"
Naruto immediately jumped back, shooting the ground with an Aeroblast as he did so throwing a debris cloud up. Sauske had shot forward at the same time and bull rushed through the cloud, intent on keeping the fight close with hand to hand. Naruto couldn't turn into one of those Fighting types of his so his capability to defend himself would suffer. Or at least that's what he was thinking, but then the wooden practice kunai Naruto had thrown into the air when Sasuke's sight was obscured reached a height just over Sasuke's head and ten feet behind him and it suddenly multiplied thousands of times, blotting out the sun in the clearing. Sasuke didn't even have time to widen his eyes as dozens of wooden weapons hit him, the rest burying themselves halfway into the ground with one giant thud sound. The area Naruto had been in was hit as well, the wooden kunai bouncing off a log Naruto had substituted with. Sasuke could only blink in shock as he stood in place and even Sakura had a dropped jaw for a moment as she realized just what her blonde teammate had pulled off.
Kakashi though seemed amused as he cheerfully said "And that's a kill shot, looks like you lose this round Sasuke. Well done in winning the fight with only three moves Naruto."
Naruto gave a bow from the branch of a nearby tree before there was a large cloud of smoke as the Shadow Clone Kunai dispelled and he hopped down to reclaim his training weapon. Giving Sasuke a grin, he said "Best two out of three?"
Sasuke grit his teeth even as he stomped back to his starting point fuming to himself at how easily Naruto had won the first round without Sasuke even once touching him. Naruto took his own spot again and Kakashi once more started the fight. Sasuke saw Naruto's hands come up and braced for either a transformation or a jutsu only to widen his eyes when all of a sudden there was the same log as before in Naruto's place. His eyes quickly whipped over to where the log had been only to see Naruto already finished unrolling one of his storage seals. He barely finished his own substitution jutsu before the restrained but still a credible threat in a spar stream of fire shot through where he had been. Naruto's eyes went on a swivel and he began ninja jumping around the area in as erratic a pattern as he could while the scroll's auto roll function engaged, pocketing the scroll when it was done before giving one last jump, this time straight up and started hovering as he overpowered a Gale Palm Jutsu from not only each hand but each foot as well. And boy had that trick been hard to work out, thank Log for Shadow Clones. (And he could not believe he was thinking that so soon after that stunt his task force pulled.)
There was relative silence in the clearing for a couple of minutes as Naruto waited for Sasuke to make the next move. That silence was broken when five shuriken shot out of the trees towards Naruto, each implement of death sparking with a Lightning charge. Naruto merely raised an eyebrow at them before they hit him and he disappeared in a cloud of smoke showing that he had been a clone the whole time. A few moments later, Naruto walked out of the woods carrying an unconscious Sasuke over his shoulder.
Seeing the sight, Kakashi said in amusement "It seems the Hidden Leaf's Prankster King strikes again. Your stealth abilities never cease to impress Naruto."
"Thanks sensei." Naruto said as he put Sasuke down on the ground by the logs and allowed Sakura to fuss over him when she had rushed over at the sight of her crush knocked out. He pulled a tag off of the back of Sasuke's head and pocketed it as Sasuke groaned awake. Opening his eyes, he flinched at the sight of Sakura staring at him in concern and 'lightly' pushed her away from him as he asked "What happened?" (Well, lightly for him anyway)
"I had a shadow clone keep your attention while I tracked you down in the woods before slapping a knock out tag on you." Naruto said calmly as he unsealed a steaming bowl of ramen and a pair of chopsticks which he proceeded to use, finishing the bowl within ten seconds, broth and all, much to Sakura's wide-eyed stare. Resealing the now empty bowl and chopsticks with a contended sigh, Naruto grinned and said "So do you give up yet, or are you thirsty for more?"
Sasuke growled and said "Take me seriously damn it!" Springing to his feet, Sasuke snarled out "Fight me for real dobe! I can't test myself if you rely on cheap tricks to win!"
Naruto raised an eyebrow and said "We're shinobi Sasuke, tricks are our bread and butter. It's just that my tricks are more versatile than yours." Naruto walked back to his starting spot and said "If you want me to go head to head though I'll fight you one last time."
Sasuke snarled and retook his position as well. Kakashi didn't even bother hiding his sigh as he said "Round three, begin."
Despite the blonde's words, Sasuke had expected Naruto to repeat his actions from the last two spars and try to get some distance at the start of the fight. Imagine his surprise when Naruto shot forward in an explosion of dirt as he overloaded a chakra field between him and the ground fast enough to slam a punch inside Sasuke's guard. Sasuke's eyes widened as Naruto twisted his fist in the Uchiha's gut before hoisting him up into the air and threw a three-chain set of punches before back flipping, kicking Sasuke's chin hard enough he made HIM back flip as he fell back to the ground, the blonde continuing his flip twice before coming out already in a fighter's stance.
Now becoming thoroughly pissed, Sasuke sprung up to his feet and let out a battle cry as he shot forward towards Naruto, lightning streaming his legs to give him more speed. Speed which was useless as Naruto substituted the two of them leaving their backs facing each other. Sasuke had just enough time to blink in surprise at the new positioning before a chain made out of chakra wrapped around his feet and yanked them out from under them.
On the sidelines, Kakiashi's jaw rather rapidly dropped and if they were in a cartoon than his jaw would be hitting the ground hard enough to leave cracks in it as he mentally yelled to himself 'He knows Kushina's technique?! When the hell did he learn that?!'
Sasuke growled as he took in the chains wrapping around his feet before he snarled at Naruto and said "How are you doing that dobe?! You're not transformed into one of your freak forms."
"Oh, this isn't a Pokemon Attack. It's a technique of my mother's that Old Man Sarutobi told me about a couple of months ago the last time I managed to talk him into having ramen with me. It took forever to get it working right even with ten clones working on it each day I wasn't out of the village though." Naruto said answering Kakashi's mental question for him even as he dropped the technique.
"Wait, I thought the only Kunoichi who could use chakra chains was Kushina Uzumaki." Sakura asked with a cocked head. Seeing Naruto's answering grin, the pinkette's eyes widened as she shouted "You mean the Red Death was your mother?!"
"You didn't think they gave me the name Uzumaki for nothing did you?" Naruto asked with a grin before he ducked under Sasuke's attempted surprise attack, smoothly going into a leg sweep that Sasuke jumped over thanks to his Sharingan. As the two began going at it with hand to hand, Sakura gave Kakashi an incredulous look which Kakashi answered to with a finger to his lips and a blink of his single eye that came off as a wink. She could just tell he was grinning as he said "You'd be surprised how few people who didn't personally know Kushina have made that connection. It's really quite amusing for those of us in the know to listen to the others wondering why the hell Naruto has that last name when he clearly has BLONDE hair rather than the standard Uzumaki red."
"But that means he got it from his father, and the only shinobi of the appropriate age with that exact coloring was.." Sakura muttered to herself before her eyes widened and she shot a panicked glance at Kakashi who 'calmly' said "Sakura, you can't tell anyone what you just worked out. Able to take on S-ranked nin in a fight or not, Naruto is NOT ready to face the consequences of that information becoming wide spread. Nor is this Village for that matter."
Kakashi could practically see Sakura's brain locking up as she tried to process what she just learned before it metaphorically threw its hands up and shouted "I quit!" The next instant, Sakura's eyes rolled up and she fell in a dead faint, Kakashi gently easing her to the ground before he looked back at the hand to hand fight that was still going strong.
Sasuke snarled as his Sharingan allowed him to dodge yet another punch to his head. He didn't know why he hadn't won yet. His Sharingan had made almost every move Naruto made useless. He had landed about four times more attacks than the blonde did, however, somehow, HE was the one who was coming the worst off due to what blows Naruto did land were incredibly debilitating when done at full strength. If Naruto wasn't holding back due to this being a spar between teammates rather than a fight to the death against enemies then Sasuke would already be either unconscious or dead, and it was pissing him off. The fact that Naruto was able to absorb a lot more damage than he was and still keep going only made him even angrier.
And then the alarm bell on the log rang and Naruto grinned as the punch he just threw quickly shifted into a finger flick and Sasuke got Aeroblasted away. Sasuke managed to flip backwards and to land on his feet, skidding another ten feet as he rubbed his aching chest before he stopped. Sasuke glared at Naruto before said blond erupted in smoke. Sasuke's glare swapped out into confused blinking as instead of reappearing in one of those strange forms Naruto was simply gone. Warily glancing around, he heard Naruto throw his voice and say "You rely too much on that Sharingan of yours Sasuke. You're so focused on what you see, that you forget to use your other senses as well."
Sasuke growled to himself as his Sharingan swept the training ground trying to find the blond. The Uzumaki's words were useless, clearly, he was throwing his voice so what good were his ears? Suddenly there was a rustling sound directly behind him and he spun around only to see nothing before he got his feet swept out from underneath him. Sasuke quickly rolled away from an attack that never came and stood up warily. He had expected Naruto to do more than just trip him after sneaking up on him. A quick check with his hands showed that there were no seal tags placed on his body and his Sharingan strained as it tried to find his opponent. Only to fail when he ignored a new scent that had just entered the field and down he went, a hoofed paw settling itself firmly on his chest as there was a shimmering and a deer like creature with a black orb set in each antler appeared.
The now a Stantler Naruto looked down at Sasuke under his foot and said "Like I said, you rely on that Sharingan too much, and your other senses too little." He then faded away again and Sasuke was once more alone in the clearing. Sasuke snarled as he flared his chakra, trying to disrupt whatever Genjutsu like illusion Naruto had made. Unfortunately, Chakra Pulses did not interrupt Stantler Illusions and Naruto remained hidden. A moment later though, he heard a voice that he had not heard in years and despised more than any other.
Sasuke spun around in shock and saw his brother in his Akatsuki outfit. Red hot rage filled him as he snarled out "You!" He quickly shot towards Itachi, already running through the hand signs for the Chidori. However, just as he got to his hated enemy, his fist went through without resistance, the image fading away like a heat haze and Naruto's thrown voice once more came from everywhere.
"Really Sasuke, you really thought your brother was here, no questions asked? I'm rather disappointed with you to be honest. I didn't even make it look like he was moving the grass he was standing over, his clothes and hair weren't moving around in the small breeze currently blowing around us, and he wasn't even breathing. Not to mention there was no smell coming from him and the sound of his voice came from two feet to the illusion's right. It's official, you need therapy."
"Why don't you show yourself and I'll use you as stress relief then!" Sasuke shouted out only to stiffen as he heard right behind him "Nah, I'm good." He spun around only for his arm sweep to pass through nothing. He growled as he once more heard behind him "Geeze Sasuke, a little tense there?" He looked over his shoulder but once more there was nothing there.
"Kukukuku, it seems little Sasuke is having a bit of trouble." A voice that had recently rented a place in his nightmares said and despite himself Sasuke felt his spine stiffen in fear as he glanced to his right and saw Orochimaru leaning against a post next to Kakashi, idly examining his finger nails.
"It seems the little brat isn't a shinobi after all if he's getting scared already." Zabuza said as he began striding into the clearing, drawing the Decapitating Blade and dragging it behind him leaving a trail in the grass even as a mist began to form around the Mist Missing Nin.
"There is no point in killing you, you would not prove my existence." The gravelly voice of Gaara said as he appeared hanging upside down from a tree branch. He saw Kakashi studying Orochimaru with clear interest while a recently reawaken Sakura was looking at the three with wide eyes, clearly scared out of her mind and her logical side fighting with her fear as she tried to decide who was the most dangerous and thus needed the most of her attention.
Sasuke growled and said "Enough with the mind games Dobe, where are you?!"
"Here." Naruto whispered directly behind him and Sasuke spun around only to receive a clump of dirt to the eyes. Sasuke yelled in pain and his hands went straight to his eyes only to fold up like an accordion as Naruto slammed a kick into his gut sending him flying away. "You're lucky I didn't use pepper spray." Naruto called out and Kakashi said "Right, this spar's over." When Sasuke blearily glared at the cyclops, the Jounnin pointed at Sasuke's chest and said "If he could place a sticky note over your heart then he could put a kunai in it." Sasuke looked down and like his teacher had said, there was a sticky note on his chest. Sasuke let out the loudest growl yet as he stood up to his feet and stomped out of the 'sparring' clearing and into one of the smaller clearings of the training area, an ominous thundercloud just beginning to spew lightning all but visible over his head as he went. Kakashi let out a sigh and another low mutter of "What am I going to do with that boy?"
"Kukukuku, someone seems tense." The Orochimaru illusion said from beside Kakashi.
Kakashi gave it a slightly amused look mixed with silent reproach as he said "Alright Naruto, drop the illusions." The next instant, all three enemies were gone and there was a Stantler clone standing right next to Sakura who jumped at the sudden appearance of it before it disappeared in the customary smoke cloud. As Naruto walked over, Kakashi gave him a nod of approval and said "Well done with those illusions Naruto, if my logical side hadn't told me that your clones had already killed him then I would have thought they were real for a few seconds longer than it took. How did you mimic the sense of danger each enemy gave off so well? They each gave the exact sense of danger that I remember from them rather than just a generic sense after all."
"Part of Stantler's illusion was smell based and part of that drew up memories from the target's mind, if all three of you hadn't have seen one of them then it would have gone off of a mix of their subconscious preconceptions and what you had told them about said enemy." Naruto said as he took the post that his Orochimaru Illusion had taken.
"Impressive." Kakashi said with an eye smile before he turned to Sakura and said "Alright Sakura, it's your turn."
Sakura gave a gulp as she glanced at Naruto warily and the blond put his hands on the back of his head as he said "Don't worry Sakura, I'll stick to classic mode."
"That's not very comforting considering how good of a trap maker you were even in the academy." Sakura said, having finally realized during the preliminaries of the Third Exam that Naruto had been using his pranks to train his trap making skills.
A mischievous glint appeared in Kakashi's eye as he said "Then this should be good trap identifying and disabling practice for you, just be wary about the trap using lemons and paper clips."
Sakura blanched and said "That trap is real?! I thought it was only a rumor that Madara Uchiha started about his trap proficiency!"
"Oh no, it works alright. I once used it on a crotchety old orphanage lady a year after they kicked me out and I got my own apartment." Naruto said with a grin as his eyes went to the right remembering said prank.
Sakura stared at Naruto for a moment before she let out a whimper as she moved to the starting position and said "I'm going to Dieee." Kakashi's snickering did not inspire confidence as Naruto took up his position as well. This should prove amusing to the Cyclops if nothing else.
Author's Notes: Next Chapter goes back to the 'standard' missions Naruto took in anime.