AN: This is going to be my last new fic for the time being unless an idea pops into my brain that must be written about. It involves yet another canon character who I think should have and would have taught Naruto much more than they did. Basically, the premise is: Iruka wasn't as injured in his fight with Mizuki in the canon, which left him more time and energy to finish something he deemed important. So without further ado, here is my newest fic. I don't own Naruto, and I hope you all enjoy.
Prologue: Seven Days That Changed The Elemental Nations
Iruka sighed and turned over in his bed, still feeling restless from the day's events. By the twentieth turn, it no longer hurt nearly as much as it had when Mizuki's shurikens initially impaled him. Mizuki… Oh, Mizuki.
He had been his friend. His childhood friend. His lifelong supporter. It had always been Mizuki and Iruka; Iruka and Mizuki. What had happened? Was he always like that, and he just willingly blinded himself to it? Or did the pressure of the ninja's life get to him? Where had his Will of Fire been extinguished that he would trick a young student into doing a potentially deadly robbery for him, and then try and kill that student and one of his lifelong friends?
Was it something he'd done that had made Mizuki turn away? Could he have done something that had extinguished his Will of Fire? Maybe he'd…- no. No, he wasn't going down that road. Mizuki had made his choice. He'd strayed from the Will of Fire. That much was clear now. Whatever he might have done, it did not excuse all that Mizuki did. After all, he hadn't given in to hatred, and yet Mizuki had tried to kill Naruto once he saw the opportunity.
Naruto. He was finally a Genin. He'd always known the kid had potential. He'd really proven his worth. He didn't even know how the kid had managed that many Shadow Clones; it was supposed to be a really rare and powerful Kinjutsu after all. Didn't the Hokage say something about the jutsu being used to make solid clones of oneself? Well, that must have taken a monstrous amount of chakra. At least Naruto had a monstrous amount of chakra, thanks to the tailed beast sealed within him.
He finally understood what the Hokage was saying about Naruto. Naruto was not the Kyuubi in any form; he was just a scared little kid trying to make his way in the ninja world. He'd known that for a long time, but tonight had really finely illustrated that point. Seeing Naruto like that, so scared and shocked, had really driven home the point. He'd seen firsthand how the village had failed him by assuming that he was the Kyuubi. And it saddened him to know that so many, like Mizuki, had strayed from the Will of Fire.
But at least Naruto was a Genin and he could begin righting those wrongs himself. Except… it was a nagging feeling, almost at the back of his mind. Naruto had passed by the skin of his teeth. Actually, he hadn't passed- Mizuki had inadvertently revealed what he was capable of. But what did that really matter? He was a Genin now, and it was a job for his sensei to work with him. And so what if he couldn't do a Bunshin? He could do Kage Bunshin!
"Kid, I don't know if you've heard, but we're ninja, not Academy students. That Bunshin crap won't cut it here," His own Sensei had once told him when he'd tried to create Bunshin. "If you're going to use clones in battle, then you'd best find a better technique."
It was just like sensei had said; find a better technique. And Naruto had found one with his Kage Bunshin. Solid clones were way better than the pitiful illusions Academy students were taught, right? So much more useful than the Earth clones he'd learned how to create nearly a decade ago. So nothing to worry about. Except…
Except. A doubt was stuck there, like a parasite, at the back of his mind. Gnawing, eating away at those positive feelings. Was Naruto really ready to be a ninja? Well, that was a moot point, wasn't it? Because he was already a ninja even if he second-guessed him now. It wasn't like he could take that away from Naruto. By himself anyway, his sensei might- no. Probably not. Well, maybe. No. Nothing to worry about. Still…
"I taught in the Academy for five years kid," His sensei had once remarked as he took a puff from his cigarette. "And from it, I learned one thing above all. If you're going to do a job, do it right, or save someone else the trouble of cleaning up your shit and just wash your hands of it," He remarked, walking away at his own attempt at a half-assed detection technique.
He was just leaving things undone, wasn't he? He was supposed to be Naruto's sensei, and yet he'd passed a ninja with abysmal Taijutsu skills, next to no general or historical knowledge, downright awful chakra control, awful use of hand seals, and shoddy accuracy skills. If you're going to do a job, do it right, or save someone else the trouble and wash your hands of it." Indeed.
"But the best thing about teaching at the Academy was, once in a while, once in a blue moon, a student comes along who can surpass all your hopes and expectations, who you see more potential for than anyone else you've ever taught," His sensei had explained right before he had retired from the ninja force. "And you were that student for me, kid."
Abysmal Taijutsu, sucky control, awful accuracy, awful hand seals, next to no knowledge. And he was now a Genin. He could only imagine his sensei's horrified reaction. "Kid, did you really just pass a student like that? Does this mean that you're going to hand in your license and retire like me? No? Well maybe you should think about hanging it up if that's the best you can do." Yeah, no. He could do better. Way better. He was sure of that.
"Time, kid, time. Clock's always tickin'. And so is my patience. And that's a bad thing," That gem had come from the man during his Genin test. He still remembered his team's befuddled look when'd they'd found out that the entire objective was to work with the other two students to achieve the objective. 'Why couldn't anyone have just told me that?'
'Why couldn't anyone have just told me that?' In a week, Naruto would be placed on a team. There was always a week layover to divvy up the Genin. To figure who fit best where, and with which sensei. He could only imagine how out of place his former student would feel, especially after how he'd done in the Academy. And what made it worse was that it didn't even need to happen. Maybe if he took a little more interest and worked with him a bit… "A student comes along who can surpass all your hopes and expectations."
Right then. That was that. He had a week. One week. And by Kami, he was going to make sure that Naruto was that student. If he could learn an advanced Kinjutsu in one night, then he was capable of so much more. And he'd never really tried to, sadly. He'd never really been pushed or challenged. Granted, some of his colleagues had done their best to sabotage Naruto's efforts, but it was no excuse. It was within his power to rectify all of that. What excuse could he offer for not doing so?
"Tomorrow I'll pay him a visit," Iruka muttered as he turned in his bed again and his weary mind finally allowed him to drift off to sleep.
"Naruto, can I talk to you for a minute?" Iruka asked, as the boy came out of his apartment. What luck that he caught him just before he headed out. Probably to play a prank on the unsuspecting village at large. Someday they were going to have to give him a medal for all the interference he ran on the villager's behalves. Anyway, he'd found him, now he just had to make him accept his proposition.
"Sure Iruka-sensei. What can I do for you?" He asked eagerly. Wow, and here he'd thought Iruka-sensei would be mad at him after everything that happened with Mizuki and the Forbidden Scroll. Good thing that turned out to be wrong. He was just planning on staying away from the guy for a while until he cooled off a bit.
Iruka bit his lip nervously. "Um… I really don't know how to say this, but… well." He sighed. "You're not really Genin material, Naruto," He finally admitted; ready to slap himself once he realized what words he'd used.
"What!?" Naruto asked, completely shocked. It would have been comedic how he looked like he'd just gotten through trying to date Sakura if the situation hadn't been so serious.
"No, no. You are a Genin, Naruto," He hastily corrected. He took a breath. "What I'm trying to say is, well… on the scale of ninja who passed the test, there's an average genin in the middle, there's Rookie of the Year at the top, and then there's you… at the other end," Iruka finished sadly. He saw Naruto's downcast look. Why did it feel like he was kicking a sweet little puppy just to see what would happen, all of a sudden? "What I'm trying to say is, I'm worried about your skills once you get out in the field. You barely got past the Academy, Naruto."
Naruto shrugged it off. "Don't worry about it, Iruka-sensei. I'll be fine." He gave the man his characteristic foxy grin. "After all, I'm gonna be Hokage!"
Iruka smiled. There was his in. "I have no doubt you'll be Hokage someday Naruto," He replied casually. Naruto's eyes lit up at his casual statement. Maybe no one else had ever acknowledged that his dream was possible? "All I'm saying is; how would you like some help on the way? Who wouldn't want to train a future Hokage after all?"
Naruto paused, clearly lost in thought. The offer was tempting; it really was. And Iruka-sensei seemed pretty cool despite the fact that he was really boring. "Will you teach me some cool jutsus!?" He asked excitedly.
Iruka shrugged. "Maybe. Depending on what we get through. I know a couple of cool jutsus any future Hokage would want." Could Naruto look any more excited? "But… there are also basic skills any other future Hokage would have. Like Taijutsu skills. And you ranked in the bottom half in class spars," Iruka pointed out. Naruto once again looked like his dearest hopes were dashed.
"But Mizuki said I was doing fine," Naruto muttered before he remembered exactly what his word was worth.
"That's the point," Iruka commented dryly. "Mizuki personally oversaw your Taijutsu and weapons accuracy training. And Mizuki turned out to be a traitor to the village yesterday. Do you see why I'm kind of worried about you? I just want to make sure you're the best ninja you can be," He explained kindly.
"Don't I only have a week before I'm assigned a team?" Naruto asked. "How much can you really teach me in that time? And how do I know it won't be as boring as class was?"
"Did you like sparring Naruto?" Iruka asked innocently, knowing he might soon have his revenge for all the times Naruto said he was boring. "Well that's how I'm going to teach you proper Tiajutsu. And proper accuracy. And how to flash through Hand Seals faster and neater, because to be honest you weren't great with those either. Nor was your chakra control much good. And of course there are certain basics every ninja has to know that I'm pretty sure you do not," Iruka explained. "I might only have a week for around-the-clock training, if that's what you want, but I'll always be happy to teach you. You're my student, Naruto."
Nobody had ever made him a similar offer. He had always been shunted to one side by Academy instructors who refused to teach him anything, who ignored his questions, who tried to pretend that he did not exist. Even if Iruka was a really boring sensei, he was a sensei who was willing to devote a week to make sure he could be that awesome ninja that would one day become Hokage. And he even promised to teach Naruto some cool jutsus! Sold. That was too good a deal to pass up. "All right sensei! If you're going to make me into a kickass ninja, then we'd better get started!"
Iruka smiled. 'That was almost too easy.' "Sure Naruto. Let's get over to the Academy," He said, as he walked away with Naruto eagerly following behind.
"All right Naruto. First, a little review," His student sighed sadly, feeling like he'd walked into a trap. "All right, what makes a Genin a Genin?"
Naruto shrugged. "Having the headband with no jacket?"
"Nope. That tells you who is a Genin and who isn't. Try again?" Iruka commanded sternly.
"Um, does it have something to do with skill sets?" Naruto asked curiously.
"Correct. That's one bowl of ramen I'll pay for tonight," Iruka commented idly. His student's eyes lit up. "Yup, for every question you get right; I'll pay for one bowl of ramen for you." Naruto's eyes glazed over at all the free ramen he could possibly get. "Naruto!" He snapped to attention. "Now then, what an Academy student needs to know to become a Genin are the Basic Three- Kawarimi, Bunshin, and Henge-, how to properly throw a kunai, the proper Academy forms, the hand seals and how to use them, basic chakra control, and essential Shinobi knowledge. Now then, you already have the basic three. Can you make one of your new clones?"
"Yeah, sure sensei!" Naruto replied eagerly as he created a Kage Bunshin. Iruka studied it intently, before walking around it to view it from all angles. It was a perfect copy of Naruto, no question.
"What exactly can your clone do, Naruto?" He asked curiously. "I can use Doton Kage Bunshin, which creates a clone from the mud around me. But all clone techniques have their quirks." Like those stupid lightning clones he'd once messed with. Damn electrical shock.
"Um," He stared at his clone. "That's a good question." Iruka had to resist the urge to facepalm. On the other hand, he'd only known the technique for less than twenty-four hours, so maybe he was being a little unfair. "You can use jutsus, right?" He asked the clone.
The clone proceeded to Kawarimi with a nearby chair. "Yeah, boss."
"And of course you can fight," Naruto muttered. "Though you pop if you get too many hits." He stared thoughtfully, putting together stray pieces in his mind of things his sensei had once told him. "You're made by splitting by chakra, right?" The clone nodded. Iruka was rather surprised by that observational leap. "So you don't need to eat or sleep, or anything like that right?" The clone nodded again. "So if I made you read stuff for me, could you read it and then summarize it for me?"
Iruka had to admit, that was pretty insightful thinking. This job might not be as hopeless as he first thought. The clone meanwhile, had gone over to one of the many Shinobi manuals he kept in the room, turned to a random page, and began reading through it. After watching it in wonder and curiosity for a few minutes, Iruka spoke again after it gave them a thumbs-up to his question. "All right, dispel it and we'll work with it later."
Naruto shrugged and popped the clone out of existence. A thought popped into his head suddenly. "Hey, Iruka-sensei, why has Kiri been in a state of civil war for years?" He asked curiously.
Iruka stared at him. "How did know that?" Was Naruto astutely aware of the world around him and he'd just never noticed? And what was with the timing of his question?
Naruto shrugged, not seeing what the big deal was. "I just… just… well, it said that that was why-" He trailed off, an idea coming to him. "It said that in the book! It was that chapter on the current state of the Elemental Nations, and it was talking about Kiri, and my clone popped, and now I know it!" Naruto rattled off breathlessly.
"So you… gain clones' memories?" Iruka asked dubiously. 'Was it really possible? Could it be so simple?' "A student comes along who can surpass all your hopes and expectations."
"Yeah! I think I do!" Naruto exclaimed breathlessly. He quickly created another clone. "Pick a random page and read from that book!" He commanded excitedly. The clone shrugged and walked over to read. After it had read for another five minutes, Naruto dispelled it. "I know it all! It was talking about…" He trailed off confusedly. "Kumo tried to kidnap Hinata?" He asked dubiously.
"Yeah. They wanted the Byakugan, so they- wait a minute! You didn't know that before! It really does work!" Iruka announced excitedly. An idea suddenly came into his head on how to deal with one of his student's biggest gripes over the years. "Hey, weren't you always complaining about how the library wouldn't let you back in after that racket you caused one time!?" Naruto nodded, rather annoyed that his sensei had brought up that particular incident. "Can you Henge your clones?" Naruto nodded, not seeing where this was going, and created another Kage Bunshin, before Henging it into a double of Iruka. "Looks like your library card just got renewed, Naruto. And the best part is, you don't even have to do the reading!"
Naruto stared from the clone to Iruka, and back again, just processing what his sensei had said, before dispelling it and pumping his fist in the air. "YATTA!" Needless to say, Naruto dislike reading with a passion. A workaround for it… well, it was almost as good as all-you-can-eat ramen buffets. Almost.
"How many of those clones can you make?" Naruto shrugged, not having any real idea. "Well, if you could make just as many as you did last night, then this will work perfectly. Create some clones, and set them to work reading up on all my remedial material," Iruka commanded. Naruto shrugged and dozens of copies of him puffed into existence and grudgingly set to work reading up on all the stuff Naruto had for him. "All right then. Let's work on Tiajutsu now. We'll go outside and I'll just work on getting your form right."
"Again, Naruto!" Iruka commanded sternly. His student was a ball of limitless energy, but he just seemed unable to get the stances down right. "Your feet need to be further apart, and you need to hold your hands up higher and stand up straighter," He informed him.
"Why do I need to keep doing this!?" Naruto asked, completely frustrated by this point.
"Let me show you," Iruka said sweetly. Revenge. Oh. Sweet. Revenge. This was payback for all the times he'd disrupted his class; though he could safely call this training. He stepped onto the practice field opposite Naruto and set himself in the correct stance. "Spar with me." He saw Naruto hesitate. "Begin!"
Two minutes later, Naruto was lying in a crumpled heap on the ground, having lost twice in quick succession to his sensei. "That's why," His sensei told him. "With your stance as it is, it's very easy for me to charge you and put you on the defensive early on. You need to position yourself better to avoid an early knockout, and to better dodge an opponent's first attack," Iruka explained. "Now then, let's do it again, until you get it right."
An Hour Later
"Pretty good, Naruto," Iruka commented after an hour of work. "We'll work on this some more tomorrow,' He said. "Now then, I want to work on some chakra control."
"Chakra control?" Naruto asked curiously. What the hell was that?
"Remember the leaf exercise?" Naruto nodded. "That's for improving basic chakra control. Did you ever finish that one up?"
Naruto hung his head. "Not really, sensei. I got it working, but I couldn't really do it consistently."
"Well…- hang on. Naruto, make a clone." Confused, he did just what his sensei told him. "Have it try out the leaf exercise!" Finally catching on, Naruto set his clone to work. Sure enough, even though it couldn't get the leaf floating properly, when he dispelled it, his chakra felt a little less wild and untamed.
"I think it worked, sensei," Naruto commented.
'Boy, those clones really seem to be the answer to all that ails him.' "Set a dozen or so clones to work practicing the leaf exercise," Iruka told him. "We're going to work on some accuracy and Hand Seals, and then we're calling it a day."
"And then you teach me a new jutsu?" Naruto asked excitedly.
"Nope. Maybe tomorrow, if we get through a lot," Iruka explained. "You need better control and better use of Hand Seals before I teach it to you," He explained casually. "Now then, target practice. I'll show you how each weapon is supposed to be properly used." He quickly demonstrated how to fight with a kunai, and implant it and a shuriken on a desired target. "Now you try."
An Hour Later
"Better. That was six out of ten," Iruka commented. "You're high a while back was four out of ten. You're definitely getting there Naruto. But again, this will take some more hard work."
Naruto stared at him. He felt so much better about being a ninja after just one day of hard work with Iruka-sensei. "I'll do whatever it takes, sensei."
"A student comes along who can surpass all your hopes and expectations." 'And it looks like you're him, Naruto.' "Last but not least, we have to work on Hand Seals. I hate to say it, but yours were always pretty sloppy, Naruto," Iruka commented. "Flash through them."
Naruto nodded determinedly and flashed through all the Academy Seals. Tiger, Ox. Rat, Serpent, Boar, Dragon, Dog, Bird, Hare, Ram, Horse, and Monkey. "All right, we'll work through them one at a time," His sensei announced. "Here's Ram. Make your seal look exactly like mine." Naruto shifted his hands slightly. "Tighten those hands together Naruto; we want a nice, solid Hand Seal."
By the time they'd finished working, they'd made it all the way from Ram to Boar, to Dragon, to Dog, to Serpent, to Bird. "We'll do the rest tomorrow, Naruto. And then we'll review. We're going to put in a full day tomorrow, so be ready at nine. Now how about that ramen?" Naruto excitedly began to head in the direction of Ichiraku's.
"So, sensei, do you have any other tips on being a ninja?" Naruto asked as he slurped down the contents of another bowl.
"Well, Naruto," He paused, taking another huge slurp from his meal. "There are some pieces of advice I have for you, though some of it will be unpleasant."
"I'll listen. Doesn't guarantee I'll follow it, but I'll listen," Naruto assured him. Hey, the guy had just taught him more in one day than he'd learned through six years of the Academy.
"All right. First, and most unpleasant; uniform," Iruka stared his orange jumpsuit up and down. "I know you don't want to hear this, but it will certainly make your Shinobi career easier if you dress in something darker, or that better camouflages with your surroundings. Even wearing something red, but less bulky, could really help you with your Taijutsu."
Naruto stared at him thoughtfully, and then began pulling at his jumpsuit. "You really think so? I mean I really like the look-"
"The look isn't the problem really," Iruka commented. "I mean, Sakura wore a dress to class every day. But again, if you were watching her," When wasn't Naruto watching Sakura back in the Academy, "She did really poorly in Taijutsu, and I think the poor mobility her dress offered her had something to do with it," He explained. "It's just something you might consider. I can give you the name of a pretty good Shinobi supply store, if you want?"
Naruto looked at his outfit thoughtfully once more. Maybe it was time for a change after all. "All right. It can't hurt to look and see if there's something I like better," He finally agreed.
"While we're on the subject of Sakura, fawning over her is something I'd recommend against," Iruka advised wisely.
"But Iruka-sensei, Sakura-chan is-!"
"I know Naruto. But take it from the guy who was a love-struck Genin before you were. It doesn't help," He advised sagely. "There was this girl on my squad I was absolutely crazy about. Long black hair, beautiful night-black eyes, and a figure to die for. I don't think I was ever as obsessive as you are, but it was sure close. And the way I constantly followed her around, well… I guess there was a reason it took me five years to advance from Genin to Chunin," He finished jokingly. "But hey, she eventually went out with me!" He added as an afterthought. 'And then dumped me.'
"Really! How'd that happen?" Naruto asked, half excited, half curious.
"Well, when I stopped following her around and began devoting my time to becoming a better ninja, eventually… she became interested," He finished lamely. "I'm just saying, it could work better than what you've been trying for the past couple of years."
"All right, sensei," Naruto agreed, putting that rain of thought on hold. "Anything else?"
"Well, for now, one last thing. Observation," Iruka stared at him shrewdly. "Do you know how I always knew you were slacking off or causing trouble?" Naruto shook his head vehemently. "Right next to the blackboard, there was this mirror that I used to discreetly glance back at the class. Whenever I saw something that might be amiss, I used my special detection jutsu to target the area behind me and find out what was going on," Iruka confessed. "What I'm trying to say is; be less prone to rushing recklessly into things, and more cautious and observant of your surroundings. Trust me kid, it helps."
"That's pretty cool, sensei. Think I could learn that jutsu?" Naruto asked, thinking of all the ways such a jutsu could help him with pranking, and kind of ignoring his warnings about being observant. But then again, he probably couldn't get the blasted thing to work. But then again, that warning might come in handy later…
"Maybe later," Iruka replied as Ayame handed him the bill and he began to weep. "There goes my salary," He moaned sadly, as he reached for his wallet.
"Does this look better, sensei?" Naruto asked, presenting his new attire.
"When'd you get that?" Iruka asked curiously, surveying his new attire of a black shirt with blood-red sleeves, red pants, and an orange sash.
"After we finished eating yesterday. How does it look?" Naruto asked. "If it doesn't look right, I can return it. You were right; that shop was pretty good. Good deals and all."
"Not bad. Pretty good actually. I think red looks pretty good on you," Iruka complimented. "How does it feel to fight it?"
"Thanks, sensei. This actually feels like it fits better," Naruto remarked offhandedly. "I sparred with a clone last night and I felt like my Taijutsu was a bit better."
"Oh, by the way, when you dispelled the clones yesterday after we trained, did you do that all at once?" Iruka asked, as he remembered one of the things he felt he needed to know. Naruto's clones hadn't finished reading, and they'd left them working yesterday.
"Yeah. It gave me a pretty bad headache," Naruto complained.
"That makes sense. I was doing a little reading about the technique, and they warned not to dispel more than five at one time. Keep that in mind today. But I did find out the clones were good for chakra control training, so perhaps we'll devote a little more time to that. By the way, how well do you remember what your clones read yesterday?" Iruka asked.
Naruto shrugged. "Pretty well. There are some bits and pieces that I can't remember, though."
"All right, create more clones than yesterday, and we'll assign some to reread the books they read through yesterday, get some of them to read other books, and then put the last few doing more chakra control exercise," Iruka explained. "And while they're doing that, we'll work on some more Taijutsu, accuracy, and Hand Seals. Sounds like a plan?"
"Um, two things, sensei. One, I ran across something called fūinjutsu in one of the books the other day. Can you tell me what that is? Two, should I create more clones, Henge them, and send them off to the library- and if so, what should they search for? Actually, I guess it's three. Can you tell me more about the You-Know-What sealed within me?" Naruto rounded off in quick succession.
Iruka paused, thinking what he'd said through. "All right, send a few dozen Henged clones off to the library to read through more Shinobi Reference books, and make sure they don't cause a disruption." Naruto did as he was told. "Now then, fūinjutsu is the art of sealing something within something. I don't know much else about it. As for the demonic furball," Naruto chuckled slightly, "It attacked Konoha twelve years ago, and was sealed inside of you by the Fourth Hokage. Afterwards, the Third passed a law making sure it couldn't be talked about publicly. Um, I think it's what gives you so much chakra- you have an absolutely immense amount- and if I remember correctly from what I saw in class, it helps you heal faster. And that's about all I know about that," He finished. "Can you talk with it or something? See what it has to offer and that sort of thing?"
Naruto paused. "Should I try that?"
Iruka shrugged, though inside he was very worried about the ramifications of his innocent suggestion. "Sure," He agreed at last. "You should do it now, where I can watch and make sure nothing happens."
"All right," Naruto agreed, lying down on the ground. "Do I just go to sleep or something?" Iruka nodded slightly. "Fine, then." Like Shikamaru, he started watching clouds float across the sky, before he slowly drifted off to sleep.
"Wow, what a shithole," Naruto muttered, staring at the filthy sewer in his mind where the Kyuubi apparently resided nowadays.
"If you don't like it, then do something about it, you fucking moron!" Roared a demonic voice as glowing red eyes appeared from behind the bar.
"Okay, I will!" Naruto shouted back. Hey, it was his mind, right? And he had better things to do than be bitched at by a giant demon fox. He closed his eyes, and began concentrating on a massive grassy plain, with the Kyuubi still sealed away in a pen. He opened his eyes and stared at his handiwork. Oh, and the massive nine-tailed demon fox spread out before him. It was a massive orange fox with gigantic, sharp-looking teeth, and nine, huge, orange tails. Well, that was a demon all right. "Woah!"
"I didn't think you actually would," Kyuubi muttered. He paused. "So my jailor stands before me. What do you want? Come to-"
"Hey, chill out!" Naruto suggested mildly. "I just came here to… chat, I guess," He finished lamely. "I mean, you're kind of imprisoned here in my body. I just wanted to know more about you. Can I at least make you feel more comfortable or something?"
Kyuubi chuckled, with a deep, rumbling laugh. "You… want to make me feel more comfortable!? That's rich! All humans are the same!"
"Hey, demon-fox, I just thought I'd offer. No need to laugh," Naruto explained. 'An upset biju inside me probably isn't a good thing.' "Seriously though, anything other than freedom I can get you? I don't think I can get you that. But anything else, since this is my mind and all?"
The fox paused its laughter, considering his offer. It seemed to be on the up and up, all things considered. "I'll be sure to let you know if I have a request," It said finally, deciding that his captor was for real. "I heard you talking; you want to know what benefits I give you?"
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, I do know I heal pretty fast, and I apparently have huge chakra reserves, but what else is there that I don't know about?" Naruto questioned. Hey, this was actually turning out to be a pretty civil conversation. Surprise, surprise.
Kyuubi shrugged, seeing no harm in answering. "Huge reserves, fast healing, super-strength, and sharper reflexes. Oh, and I suppose I can enhance your senses. Want me to?"
"Um, sure. Well, that's… cool," Naruto finished finally. Well, he'd gotten what he came for. "Um, it was nice talking to you. If you need me, feel free to ring whenever I'm asleep. I'm going to go now. Enjoy," Naruto said as he left his mindscape.
"Are you all right?" Iruka asked worriedly as Naruto returned to consciousness.
Naruto picked himself up off the ground. "Are you wearing cologne, sensei?"
Iruka shook his head. "I had a date last night, but no, I didn't put any cologne on. It seems rather silly to wear cologne to review sessions. Doesn't it?"
"Oh, that's it then. Yeah, Kyuubi told me about super-strength, better reflexes, enhanced senses, huge chakra reserves, and my quick healing," Naruto rounded off. "I have to admit, it was pleasant for a giant demonic fox that was trapped in my head."
"Oookayy," Iruka said, shaking his head. Well, this was one of the most surreal conversations he'd ever been a part of. "Shall we get back to training?"
A huge grin appeared on Naruto's face. "Let's do that!"
"And that's the last of the Hand Seals, sensei!" Naruto shouted excitedly.
"Another ninja tip, Naruto. Be calmer. You'll go a lot further as a ninja if people think that you're always calm, collected, and in control," Iruka remarked idly, rubbing his ears.
"Okay. We're done with Hand Seals?" Naruto asked eagerly.
"Yup. Your Taijutsu form is better, though I still kick your ass when we spar," Let the revenge continue, "And your accuracy is way better today. Lots of eights and nines out of ten targets hit. As for your hand seals, they're getting there. Now then, slowly dispel your clones; five at a time, and wait twenty seconds between dispels. I'll count."
It took a bit, but at last all of his clones were dispelled, flooding Naruto's head with information, and giving his chakra control another boost. "All right, and now it's time to teach you one of the jutsus I promised."
"All right, sensei! Let's do this!" Naruto declared feeling pumped.
"All right. Well, I never named this jutsu, so perhaps you can have the honor. Anyway, I send a pulse of chakra through the earth, and that's how I knew who was out of their seats and disrupting my class back when you were in school," Iruka explained. "I can do it without seals, but to train, you'll probably need to work with the Serpent Seal. Now form the Seal," Naruto did as Iruka told him, "And try molding your chakra so that you can feel the Earth around you. Just let it saturate for a minute or two. And then tell me what you feel."
After a minute or two of doing what Iruka told him, Naruto said, "I feel… something. It's kind of vague, but I can feel you in front of me, and I think… there's someone watching us."
Iruka shrugged. "There might be. It's a free village, and there's no law saying you can't watch ninjas train. Now, try it again, and try and get a clear picture of your surroundings. This is a good jutsu to practice when you get home. But now… it's time for more ramen!" He declared dramatically.
Four Days Later
"I think that jutsu is coming along pretty nicely," Naruto remarked as he met Iruka in front of the Academy. "And tomorrow I get my ninja I.D!"
Iruka chuckled. "Glad to hear it, Naruto. Just don't do something like I did and make a funny face when you take that picture, or no one will take you seriously for the next year or so."
"Right, sensei. Shall we get to work?" Naruto asked. How did his sensei know exactly what he was planning to do? "I really want to get those Hand Seals and that Weapons Accuracy stuff down today."
"Okay. Let's begin. First create your clones," Naruto created hundreds of clones, and divvied them up as usual. "Today, instead of having the ones on chakra control do the leaf exercise, have half of them work on that tree walking exercise I showed you briefly yesterday," Naruto shrugged and complied. His sensei was right; that chakra control stuff was pure gold. "Now let's get to work on your Taijutsu. Your forms are really coming along, but you're still more of a brawler than a ninja, kid."
"And that's the last of them!" Naruto declared triumphantly as he flashed through Dragon one final time.
"Very good, Naruto. You've really come far!" Iruka congratulated. "Oh, and before I forget, tomorrow, after your registration, you're going to take the Genin exam again, just so you can see how much you've improved." Naruto groaned outwardly, but inside, he felt pretty excited about seeing how far he'd come as a ninja in such a short time. "Trust me; it'll be fun showing how smart you are now. But anyway, I have two final things for you today. One's a jutsu; but we'll get to that in a second. First, here." He held out the piece of paper he'd bought that morning.
"Is that the Affinity paper?" Naruto asked, having read about it a few days earlier.
"Yup. Channel your chakra through it, and it shall reveal all," Iruka declared dramatically. Naruto took it and channeled his chakra into it, and the paper subsequently shredded into multiple pieces. Iruka looked pretty impressed.
"A Wind Element? Wow, those are supposed to be really rare, especially around here. I don't really know much about it, but I'll drop off what notes I have on how to train Wind tomorrow, all right?" Naruto nodded. "Now then, I also have a jutsu to teach you. Actually it's two parts. Remember how I showed you how to make an explosive tag yesterday?
"Yeah, that was pretty cool. Actually, fūinjutsu is pretty cool. I thought it was really boring, the way you described it," Naruto admitted sheepishly, rubbing his head.
"Yes, well," Iruka tried to move past the awkward moment. 'He was still a boring teacher, even after all of this work!' "The first part is just placing explosive tags in a given area; stealth, speed, reflexes- that sort of thing works for this part. The second part is tying them all to you, so that you can detonate them on command." He passed something to Naruto. "You use that pattern on an explosive tag to do so, and they have to all be aligned correctly in a square. That's why it's called Sealed Bomb Square Release," Iruka explained.
"So I basically distribute tags around an area, and then detonate them with those Hand Seals?" Naruto asked after his sensei had flashed through them. Iruka nodded eagerly. "All right then. I assume this is one I should work on in my own time?"
"Yup, same with your element," Iruka chirped happily, glad that his day wasn't going to end with him being splattered in wood chips. Because he was really and truly afraid of that possibility. "In your own time, but I'll help; though since you'll soon be a ninja, and I'll have another class to teach, the times that overlap should greatly diminish soon."
"Yeah," Naruto muttered glumly. "But hey, it's not that time yet," He perked up.
"Nope. Not yet," Iruka chuckled. "But for now, ramen!"
"You're all set, Naruto," The Hokage remarked as he handed him his new ninja registration. "By the way, I'm glad to see that you've gotten rid of that old jumpsuit."
"Thanks, Jiji. Iruka-sensei recommended that I should do it," Naruto replied as he took the I.D. 'And Iruka-sensei has proven to be on the money this week.'
"I'm glad to see that he has been such a positive influence on you," The Hokage remarked. "Take care, Naruto. This old seat and hat are waiting for you when you're ready."
"I'll be ready soon, Jiji," Naruto remarked as he attempted to leave. The only trouble was, he collided with a short kid with spiky hair who'd tripped over his scarf on the way in while he was shouting about being Hokage.
"You! You tripped me!" He shouted angrily at Naruto.
Naruto sweatdropped. "Yeah, no I didn't. That scarf though… yeah, that might be the culprit. Later Jiji," He remarked as he again tried to leave the room.
"Don't you know who I am? I'm the Hokage's Grandson! Now apologize!" The little kid shouted.
Naruto shook his head. "I respect the Hokage because he's earned it, time and time again. But if you expect me to bow to you just because you're his Grandson, well then, expect to be disappointed." As he left, the boy flung a Shuriken right at him. Seeing it out of the corner of his eye, Naruto turned and deftly caught it in his outstretched hand, just like Iruka had shown him when they had taken a break during training. It was a pretty good mindfuck, as long as he could resist a little pain; which he definitely could, considering his tenant. His hand, which had been cut from the impact of catching the Shuriken, quickly healed, unnoticed to the boy. "Thanks for that, kid. I'll be sure to put it to good use. Later."
"Who was that guy?" Konohamaru whispered in awe as Naruto left.
"Yeah, I don't know if anyone has told you, but rocks aren't square," Naruto pointed out calmly. Please, let it not be the same brat from earlier. Please, let it not be-
The boy jumped out from his poor rock disguise, spoiling Naruto's prayers. "How did you know I was here!?"
"Rocks. Aren't. Square," Naruto repeated slowly for the boys benefit. "Who are you, kid?"
"Komohamaru," He muttered. "That's my name." A look of disgust flashed across his face. "But no one ever calls me that. Ever. It's always 'Honorable Grandson', or 'The Hokage's Grandson.' I thought my name was pretty easy to remember." He kicked a nearby rock. "And no one ever sees who I am, just all the stuff my Grandfather has done. I want people to acknowledge me for me." He got a look of fiery determination in his eyes. "And that's why I want you to train me, Boss."
Naruto shrugged. He would have said no, but this kid reminded him a lot of himself only and his situation only a week prior. "All right, I'm kind of busy, so I only have a short amount of time. Here, I'll teach you a jutsu that should prove pretty useful."
He had just finished teaching Konohamaru his special Henge when a guy with dark hair and sunglasses appeared. "Honorable Grandson, it is time that you stop associating with this rabble and return to your lessons," Ebisu declared as he stared coldly at Naruto.
"No. No way! He actually taught me something cool today! Watch! Oiroke No Jutsu!" With a puff of smoke, he transformed into a beautiful naked woman. She proceeded to wink at Ebisu, which resulted in a few drops of blood dripping from his nose.
"Honorable Grandson! This jutsu is unworthy for someone of your stature! You must return to your training immedietly! After all, the only guaranteed shortcut to Hokage is through my teachings!" Ebisu replied, absolutely mortified.
"Hey, sunglasses guy. I'd just like to point out that even if it mortifies you, the kid can now do a Henge. Up, I taught him something before you did. That is all, I'll be going now," Naruto said, attempting to leave.
It finally sunk in what Naruto had accomplished, and Ebisu stared at his young student in shock. "Honorable Grandson! This is simply incredible!"
Naruto shook his head at the man's attitude. "The rest is for your sensei, kid," Naruto said calmly. "I have to go now."
"But Boss, he doesn't teach me any cool jutsus like you! How am I ever going to become Hokage if I don't learn any jutsu!?" He whined.
"Listen kid," Naruto said, while turning around and taking off his goggles. If this kid wanted to act like his junior clone, then he needed this to pull it off. He placed them on Konohamaru's forehead, "Don't let anyone tell you that there's a shortcut to being Hokage. If you really want it, just like I do, then you're going to have to prove you're worthy. You're going to have to prove you're better than me. You need guts, brains, and tenacity, because you're going to fail, but if you try, and do your best, maybe one day I'll take of the Hokage's hat and hand it to you."
Konohamaru stared at him as he walked away. "Fine. You aren't my teacher anymore. From now on, we'll be rivals!"
Naruto shrugged unseen to the kid. "That's fine kid. I have an appointment to keep, anyway."
"You Pass!" Iruka told him as he finished grading Naruto's exam. "You did, much, much better than last time, Naruto. Almost as good as Sasuke did, and with just one week of hard training, that's saying something."
"Thanks, sensei," Naruto muttered with a blush. He wasn't used to praise like this. "I mean, all of the reference books you told me to look through had a lot of stuff on basics of Shinobi life and Geography and Important Historical Events. And we worked on my accuracy and my Taijutsu, I think that was where I lost most of those points, and I have the basic three down now."
"You've really come far, Naruto," Iruka remarked, shaking his head. "And you have still further to go." He leaned forward. "I have a treat for you. I'm not really supposed to do this, but I can't see the harm in you knowing." He paused dramatically. "I know who your Jounin sensei is going to be!"
"Who?" Naruto asked eagerly.
"Hatake Kakashi." The name held no meaning for Naruto. "Thing is, he's always late; like two to three hours later, so bring something else to do," Iruka advised him.
"I will, sensei. I'm still trying to figure out the fūinjutsu code, so maybe I can get some work done with that tomorrow," Naruto told him.
"Fūinjutsu code?" Iruka queried curiously.
"Yeah, the way all of the fūinjutsu manuals I've encountered are written, anyone new to the art has no hope of understanding what's going on. So I've been trying to translate it for the past few days," Naruto told him. "By figuring out which parts of which seal do what."
"I always found basic fūinjutsu pretty easy Naruto, so if you need some tips, feel free to stop by after class," Iruka told him.
"So our training sessions are over?" Naruto asked, as what his sensei had said finally sunk in. He paused awkwardly. "I'm going to miss this, sensei."
"And I'm going to miss it too, Naruto," Iruka replied sadly.
Naruto perked up. "But hey, you'll still be around, and I can still visit you!"
"Yes. And I'll want to hear all about your missions. Except the D-ranks; you'll find out about the ninja's bane soon enough," Iruka joked, though his student didn't catch his meaning. "Remember, if you ever need advice, don't hesitate to ask," Iruka commented.
"I won't sensei. Hey, since I didn't answer any questions today- except for that test- race you to Ichiraku's and loser has to pay!" Naruto belted as he got off to a sizeable head start.
"Hey, that's not fair! You'll bankrupt me!" Iruka yelled as he sprinted to catch up with his troublesome if he was worried out of his mind about how he was going to pay for Naruto's meal, a part of him recognized that what his sensei once said was true, and that Naruto was to him as his sensei had been for Iruka."And you are that student for me, kid."