Summary: Naruto, in a last stand against Madara, is somehow inadvertently thrown around thirty-eight years into the past. He wakes up in a younger version of his body and the Konoha medics mistake him as the lost younger brother of a young war orphan—Namikaze Minato.
Disclaimer: I would think up a clever and original disclaimer but I'm just too lazy for that, so…yeah. I don't own Naruto…
Chapter 2: Enter Jiraiya, the Toad Sage!
"Now…you will all soon be assigned duties by the village," the Chunin instructor Hideki started seriously, "so today we will be creating three-man teams…and each team will have a Jonin-sensei. You will follow that sensei's instructions as you complete the assigned duties. Know now that you were assigned to teams that we felt you all would be suited well to."
Naruto didn't pay much attention to the team placements as Hideki read them off, only waiting for the one he felt was most important. He was fairly confident he would be placed on a team with Minato because of how well they had managed to do when they worked together. It was blatantly obvious that they were better together rather than apart and thus Naruto was pretty sure they would be placed on a team together.
He also hoped Jiraiya would become their teacher as well. Naruto knew Minato's Jonin-sensei from his original timeline had been Jiraiya and he hoped it would be the same even if he had already changed things up a bit. He felt bad that he may have stopped the teammates Minato was supposed to have gotten under Jiraiya but he supposed it was simply an unfortunate necessity. There really were just much more important things to worry about.
"Next, team five—Namikaze Minato, Kiku Midori and…Namikaze Isamu," Hideki announced with a small smirk.
Both Minato and Naruto sighed in relief. The girl known as Kiku Midori simply remained stoic and faced straight ahead while the rest of the class didn't seem too surprised; it was an expected matchup after all. The team placing took another few minutes before Hideki finally finished.
"Alright…this afternoon, we will introduce the Jonin-senseis," the Chunin announced with a smile. "Until then, you may all take a short break."
Jiraiya walked into the class with a cheerful look on his face. He looked a lot younger—so much so that Naruto couldn't help but internally marvel at how much more youthful he appeared. The red lines that spanned across the future-Jiraiya's cheeks, and even somewhat past his chin, were only down to just above Jiraiya's mouth currently, and there wasn't a wrinkle to be seen on the young Jonin's face.
He wore a fairly different set of clothes than what Naruto remembered. Jiraiya was dressed in what looked to be a standard Jonin uniform. The only differences were the silver metal forearm guards and that the long-sleeved shirt under his Jonin vest and his Konoha headband's cloth was red. His standard Shinobi pants were also red and tied down at the ankles with white tape.
There were few other graduates left in the room and it seemed nobody recognized who Jiraiya was. It wasn't that surprising; Jiraiya, Tsunade and Orochimaru had only recently been dubbed the Sannin a few years ago so they weren't as widely renowned as they were in the future. Even Minato and Midori were ignorant of who it was standing before them.
Naruto looked at Jiraiya intently, hoping with everything in him that the man would pick his team up. He wasn't disappointed.
"Team five, come with me," the white haired man said before turning around and walking back out the door.
Naruto, Minato and their female teammate quickly scrambled after him. Even Naruto was confused as to what was going on. He'd thought that he would have to meet on the roof of the academy but it seemed Jiraiya had something different in mind.
He led them to a distinct training ground in silence and Naruto felt a great wave of nostalgia when they arrived. The three tree stumps in the middle of the grounds and the slightly dense forestry that surrounded them was an easy giveaway as to where they were.
He was already remembering his first time to these grounds when he had graduated in his original timeline. Even as Jiraiya turned around to begin speaking, he couldn't quite block out the wistful feeling he was experiencing.
Jiraiya felt a bit of amusement at leading the three newly graduated Genin away so abruptly. They were probably nervous, and acting like he was now probably didn't help. Still, they needed to be under a bit of stress for the test he was about to put them through, so it really was probably necessary. He was fairly confident they would pass regardless anyway.
He subtly glanced back at them to observe them further. The sole female of the group looked stoic, if a bit irritated. She had dark brown hair done up with a red hair tie and her headband was fixed securely to her forehead on an equally red cloth. The bangs that framed her face led down to her dry purple, long-sleeved baggy jacket. It had a turquoise collar and there were tan stripes running along the shoulders and arms.
Jiraiya had to raise an eyebrow at the odd match-up of colors. They weren't bright and they oddly didn't clash so he supposed it wasn't too bad. Her pants were the commonly seen dark blue Shinobi slacks and she had on dry purple sandals to go with her jacket. It was a simple getup and Jiraiya didn't see anything out of the ordinary with it.
He turned his attention to the two boys of the group and smirked slightly. They were both dressed in the exact same clothes. If one weren't to focus their attention on the two, they would appear as twins. Jiraiya certainly didn't doubt the two were brothers.
They wore white jackets with three dark blue stripes running down their arms that led to similarly dark blue collars. Their jackets were zipped up midway and Jiraiya could easily make out the fishnet shirts they wore below. They had dark blue Shinobi pants on with white bandages tied around their shins and ankles and simple blue standard ninja sandals.
Their Konoha headbands were tied around their foreheads and helped to keep the spiky blonde hair that framed their faces and heads out of their eyes. Jiraiya liked the style they both had. It was a simple choice of clothes yet the two looked pretty cool still. He wondered why they wore the same clothes but he put it off to them being brothers. They only had each other and were no doubt very close after all. It wasn't too surprising that they would wear the same clothes.
Finally he turned around fully to begin speaking now that they had made it to his old training ground. "Alright," he started as he casually leaned against one of the three training stumps. "Let's start with some introductions. You'll tell me your likes, dislikes, hobbies and dreams for the future. I'll go first."
All of a sudden Jiraiya bit his thumb and ran through hand signs at a fast pace and summoned a moderately sized battle toad. As the smoke cleared a clapping sound could faintly be heard until it became more pronounced and more Kabuki dance sounds started up. Minato and Midori looked on in confusion while Naruto tried to hold in his laughter.
Jiraiya started hopping slightly to the right on one leg, in tune with the clapping sound, until he finally stopped and stood on both legs in a wide stance with his arms extended and facing away from his body.
"Behold, little Genin…" Jiraiya began dramatically, "I am known far and wide—from the north to the south, and the east to the west; the ladies can't resist me and men can't help but respect me—the legendary Toad Sage of Myobokuzan…Jiraiya!"
Jiraiya finished it off with a shameless smirk until the toad below him disappeared in a puff of smoke. The smoke quickly dissipated to reveal Jiraiya, smirk still in place, once again leaning casually against one of the three training stumps.
While all three Genin were thinking differently about what they just saw, it was Minato who voiced his thoughts first. "Um, sensei…" he started a bit hesitantly, "you didn't tell us your likes or dislikes…or your hobbies and dream for the future."
Midori seemed to be highly annoyed in the form of a twitching eye while Minato looked a bit sheepish for having pointed out what Jiraiya didn't mention in his introduction. Naruto for his part almost couldn't stop the grin that threatened to overtake his features as Jiraiya face-faulted.
The older man quickly got up and patted himself off while clearing his throat and muttering slightly under his breath. "Right…well, I like researching and I dislike prudes. My hobbies are researching and writing and my dream for the future is to become a great author."
It was a simple albeit very uninformative introduction, Naruto mused. It seemed to pacify Midori and even Minato seemed a bit more content. Naruto however knew that even though Jiraiya wasn't really lying, he was alluding to completely perverted things in what he'd said. He didn't care though; he was just glad his former master was alive.
It was difficult to keep the almost aloof demeanor he'd cultivated the past few years, but he somehow managed it. He wanted to seem as similar to Minato as possible for the sake of his future self while also retaining a unique personality. That was partly why he'd decided to wear the same clothes as Minato. Being in the presence of Jiraiya, however, was almost enough to cause the original 'Naruto' personality to resurface.
Naruto's inner thoughts were interrupted when Jiraiya spoke. "Okay, you on the left, you're up."
Minato nodded in understanding as he stood up to begin. "I am Namikaze Minato. I like training and my brother. I dislike when I cannot understand something. My hobbies are training with my brother and studying jutsu. My dream for the future is to gain the acknowledgement of everyone in the village and become a great Hokage."
Minato smiled and sat back down. Jiraiya nodded to Midori to continue. "My name is Kiku Midori," she began calmly, "I like training and developing my skills in genjutsu. I dislike those who are lazy and uncommitted. My hobbies are training and practicing genjutsu; my dream for the future is to become a strong Kunoichi."
Jiraiya nodded and looked to Naruto with a silent gesture to start his introduction. "I'm Namikaze Isamu," he began, "I like the same stuff as Minato but I only really dislike being underestimated. My hobbies are training with my brother and my dream for the future is to become a powerful ninja and help my brother achieve his dreams."
Jiraiya smiled. "Well, now that we all know each other, it's time to get on to the test."
Naruto made sure his face mirrored the confusion of his new teammates before asking, "What test?"
Jiraiya smirked and it managed to send a shiver down even Naruto's spine. He pulled two bells that hung loosely from a red string from one of his vest pockets and jingled them in front of the three Genin. Naruto already knew where this was going and was secretly happy that the bell-test seemed to be a tradition of sorts—for certain teams at least.
"Well," Jiraiya started with a conspiratorial smirk, "all you three need to do is obtain one of these two bells by any means necessary."
"There are only two, though," Midori stated with narrowed eyes.
Jiraiya gave her a dry stare. "You awe me with your observational awareness."
She glared at him, her eyes staring daggers but kept quiet. Naruto had to admit Jiraiya really had a knack to annoy people he just met. It took awhile for even Naruto to really become endeared to the man. Once you really understood Jiraiya though, there was always a strong bond there.
"As little Midori-chan pointed out, there are only two bells," Jiraiya continued. "That means that only two of you will possibly get a bell and pass. The one who doesn't get one will be tied to a post and forced to go back to the academy for additional training."
"What?" Midori hissed angrily. "That's not a fair test! We went through all those years in the academy to get on a team in the first place only for one third of us to be sent back?"
Naruto was surprised at her outburst. He had always thought she'd had one of those straight-faced and calm personalities. Even in a situation like this, someone like Neji or Sai would never show any extreme outward reaction. It seemed she took the academy lessons to heart and hid her emotions as much as she could manage.
Jiraiya shrugged. "Don't ask me, I didn't make the rules. That's just how it is."
She growled but realized her outburst and blushed slightly before struggling to regain her calm front.
Naruto visibly shrugged before lazily adding, "Whatever. Let's just get it started."
Jiraiya chuckled. "Quite confident, aren't you?"
Naruto said nothing while noticing that Minato was staring at him inquiringly from his side while Midori seemed to turn her glare from Jiraiya to him. He sighed and waited for Jiraiya to begin.
The older man chuckled again and tied the two bells to a thread loop near his pocket. "You guys have two hours. Remember to come at me with everything you've got. Begin!"
Immediately, all three jumped off into different parts of the surrounding forest, Jiraiya smiling slightly in their wake.
Naruto quickly made his way to Minato, making sure to sound off a low bird-whistled tune they had come up with to inform the other of their presence. Minato looked in the way of the sound from his hiding place and smiled at Naruto's approaching form.
"Minato," Naruto whispered after huddling in next to his pseudo-brother. "I think there is an ulterior motive within this test."
Minato nodded, his face serious and thoughtful. "I suspect that too. It's as if he's deliberately trying to cause conflict among us, or at least Midori and us. This is some kind of psychological tactic, I'm sure of it."
Naruto stared at Minato with slight surprise. He still could never really get used to Minato's amazing intellect. The boy was only ten years old and he was smarter than Naruto had been at age sixteen. The stories that the Yondaime was a rare genius weren't fabricated, that's for sure.
He shook himself from his musings. "Yeah, I think that too. Hmm…Jiraiya-sensei is a Jonin; an elite ninja. We are literally fresh Genin straight out of the academy. There's no way we would be able to defeat him, much less get our hands on those bells unless he's careless."
Minato nodded, his eyes narrowing as Naruto subtly led the conversation.
"Wait a minute, that's it…" Naruto muttered, just loud enough for Minato to hear. He made sure his expression was one of surprise and realization.
Minato raised an eyebrow, patiently waiting for a reply.
"He either wants us to realize we will have to abandon a teammate to accomplish a mission at some point in our careers," Naruto started, and quickly continued as he saw Minato's face turn grim, "or he wants us all to work together to accomplish a goal faster or more efficiently than we would individually."
Minato's eyes widened. "Of course!" he whispered with a smile. "Why didn't I see it earlier? Hideki-sensei always instructed us that Konoha Shinobi are strong because of our great team dynamics!"
Naruto nodded happily. "Plus, based on Jiraiya-sensei's personality, it would seem a lot more likely that he would test us on teamwork rather than abandonment. Unless he's been acting this entire time…"
Minato chuckled a bit, shaking his head slightly at Naruto's speculation. "I don't know what I would do without you, Isamu."
"You would end up as the strongest ninja in Konoha; the Yondaime. Even without me," Naruto stated honestly. Literally
Minato smiled but shook his head. "But you are here with me, and you're one of the smartest people I know. Remember what we said when we were younger?"
Naruto nodded, remembering the time Minato and him had told each other their dreams before they had entered the academy.
Minato looked into the clearing where Jiraiya was now sitting down, writing something in a notebook. "That's going to happen," he said, his face showing fierce determination.
Naruto smiled, suddenly remembering why his father had actually been elected the Fourth Hokage—not just his extreme skill, but his inhuman resolve as well.
"Well," Naruto stated as he stood from his crouched position, "we better go inform Midori. I hope she works with us."
Minato nodded and stood up as well. It was time to get started.
As the time for the test steadily trickled by, Jiraiya wondered what his Genin were doing. He could feel them moving around and took it as a good sign but he was slightly disappointed none of them had taken the fight to him yet. He was almost positive Minato and Isamu would figure out the test, but there was still some doubt.
He truly hoped they would, and if they didn't…well, no one had to know if he pushed them in the right direction.
His musings were interrupted by the tell-tale whooshing sound of kunai flying at him from behind. He jumped out of the way only to see more flying toward his front. He quickly used the substitution technique to switch himself with a log.
As he stood on a branch away from the clearing, Jiraiya was surprised to hear movement behind him. He jumped into the air just as a large wooden log trap activated from behind and nearly bowled him over. He then quickly escaped the sudden hail of kunai descending from his right with some clever use of ninja wire and landed softly on the ground.
Jiraiya promptly bent backwards to avoid the roundhouse kick his youngest student, Isamu, sent at him as he landed. He was slightly impressed with the boy's speed and natural fighting form. It seemed as if the nine-year old had experience with taijutsu as he glided in carefully with quick offensive strikes, carefully dodging and flowing around Jiraiya's counterstrikes.
Jiraiya swept in low with a strong leg sweep that he knew Isamu wouldn't be prepared for, but as the boy fell to the ground where Jiraiya was about to finish him off with a heel-kick, Isamu speedily went through the hand seals for a substitution technique.
As Jiraiya's foot came down on the log that appeared, his eyes widened, quickly noticing the many explosive tags covering it. He escaped by kicking the log away and rapidly jumping back, only narrowly missing the decent explosion that followed.
Quicker than he thought, he was again under attack. This time though, it wasn't physical. It was nevertheless just as potentially dangerous. He would've smiled at his students' use of team strategy if not for the genjutsu he was currently in the process of dispelling. Luring the enemy in with carefully directed attacks was a common tactic amongst any team, but it was usually only seen in more experienced groups. That they had pulled it off successfully within a relatively short amount of time was doubly impressing.
Of course Jiraiya knew they wouldn't have stood a chance had he been taking the little match seriously. He had been holding back a lot of power and speed when he'd been fighting little Isamu, and he had not extended his senses very far since the start of the test. Still, Minato, Isamu and Midori were each pretty talented and their coordinated assault was clever and impressive. As far as he was concerned, they had already passed.
It took Jiraiya no more than three seconds to dispel the standard Hell Viewing technique that'd been directed at him, but it was enough time for Minato to speed in and grip the bells tied to his pocket. Jiraiya could've grabbed him if he used his superior speed, but he decided it would be wrong if he stopped holding back after all this time.
Jiraiya smiled and righted himself as Minato skidded back about ten meters in front of him after successfully grabbing the bells. The boy's teammates jumped out from their positions and landed next to him, their expressions triumphant.
"Good job, Minato!" Jiraiya praised as he walked up to the group. "Now I suppose you'll give the other bell to your brother, eh?"
Minato's expression turned hard, his sharp blue eyes gaining a powerful edge, though he didn't look especially intimidating—being ten and all. "No. We all understand the true nature of the test. It was to work as a team, despite unfairness or possible defeat and failure. We worked together to obtain the bells, we pass together as a result."
Jiraiya chuckled but nodded. "I'm impressed you guys figured it out so quickly. Yes, teamwork is an essential aspect to Konoha's strength. A great team can do almost anything they put their minds to; trust me, I know. Good job, kiddies. As of today, you are officially Team Five."
Even Midori's stony expression lightened as she smiled. Naruto slung his arm around Minato's shoulder and uncharacteristically (at least in this time period) grinned. Minato mirrored Naruto's smile, though he adopted a solemn air, fully realizing he was on his way to achieving his dream.
Jiraiya grinned as well, his hands on his hips. "Well, this calls for a celebration! Last one to the barbecue stand pays!"
His Genin watched with slight confusion as he disappeared in a puff of smoke, only running in his wake after realizing what he'd said. Jiraiya couldn't help but feel he was going to enjoy his time as an official teacher.
—I suppose it's not an especially long chapter but it was the best I could do on my busy schedule. I apologize for the late update but I do have my reasons (pretty much all around laziness, though I have been unusually busy). I will try to update faster than I have so far, but I won't make any promises.
—This was more of a filler-chapter than anything. I didn't want to skip over anything important to character development or the smooth progression of the story so you'll see some of these throughout the story.
—Anyway, that's all folks. I'm out.