Thanks for all of the reviews!

If you're wondering where I've been, I took a little break from Naruto because I've been feeling a little burnt out and I didn't want to write a chapter that felt forced and was of lesser quality. In my opinion, you should take a break – no matter how long – if you feel you need one.

Also, I've decided not to give Lee and Tenten any kind of Devil Fruit. It's not because of the people who don't like me giving Fruits to other people that I decided not to, it's because they won't show up in the story consistently enough to justify it in my mind. I suppose I could change that, but I don't want to focus on too many characters. However, Tsunade and Gaara will still get theirs, though.

~Start~

As Team 10 re-entered the village, Asuma turned to his Genin. "All right, you three, we're going to be training extensively for the next month so you can dominate the tournament." he said, puffing on his cigarette.

"Do I really have to? No one can touch me." Naruto said, whining slightly.

"Yes, you have to. You may already be incredibly strong, but you can still improve." Asuma said sternly before turning to his laziest student, "You have to train as well, Shikamaru."

"What a drag." was his response.

"Good. We can start with all that tomorrow. For now, you can go celebrate your victories." the bearded Jōnin smiled, disappearing in a body flicker.

Before either Kiba or Shikamaru could walk away, Naruto swung both of his arms around their necks. "Let's go to the bath houses!" he exclaimed.

Kiba raised an eyebrow, "I thought we couldn't come into contact with water, Naruto." he said.

"Not still water. Moving water is a different story. I'm sure there are some that have a mini-waterfall or something that would allow us to use them without drowning." the redhead replied.

"Sorry, Naruto, I'd like to, but I have to take Akamaru to be treated." Kiba said apologetically.

"Why don't you take him to be treated, and then we can meet up in an hour?" the red-haired boy suggested.

Kiba thought about it for a moment before nodding his head. "Alright, I can do that." he answered before quickly jumping away, heading for his home.

Naruto turned to Shikamaru, and raised an eyebrow, "How about you?"

Shikamaru shrugged, "Fine. See you in an hour." he said before walking off.

Naruto smiled and turned, walking in the direction of his apartment. He started thinking about the other Genin in the exams. He was surprised to find out that a lot of the other Genin were way beyond that level. Maybe not on his level, but some of them, like him, could be considered more powerful than the average Jōnin. He figured that the other villages sent their best Genin to dominate the exams, which would result in their respective village would get a lot more business, and if another village had won the Konoha Chūnin Exams, it would also have the added affect of humiliating Konoha.

Naruto wasn't worried. He had no doubt that he could defeat everyone in the exam, but he was also excited. When he first entered the Chūnin Exams, he had thought that he would have simply dominated everyone else, but now at least three or four others could probably put up a decent fight against him!

Naruto raised his eyes skyward as he thought about his future matches. His first opponent, Kurotsuchi, would be easily dealt with. She used Lava Release, but he could tell that her lava was not nearly as powerful as his, so she was not a threat at all.

After that, he would fight either the Taki-nin, Takimaru, or the Kumo-nin, Omoi. No offense to Omoi, but he was pretty sure Takimaru would take the match without too much trouble. The third match was Shikamaru vs. Yūgiri. This was a tough one. Shikamaru was smart, and along with the added power he got from his Devil Fruit, he could win. It mostly depended on how seriously Shikamaru took his training over the next month, so considering how lazy the other boy was, the match could go either way.

He also had no doubt that Kiba would defeat that stuck-up Hyūga. Even with the Jūken, Neji wouldn't be able to seal up Kiba's ability to transform his body parts to blades, and since they were both taijutsu specialists, Neji would inevitably come out of any close-quarters exchange worse than Kiba.

He was taken out of his thoughts when he realized he had stopped in front of his apartment door. He opened the door and stepped inside, taking his sandals as he did so. As he walked past the kitched, he stopped and raised an eyebrow at the smaller figure.

Inari stared at Naruto with a 'deer-in-the-headlights' sort of look. The younger boy blushed slightly as he was caught with a spoon in one hand and a gallon of ice cream in the other.

"Having fun?" Naruto asked, grinning merrily.

"Oh, um... h-hey, Naruto." Inari said nervously.

"Oh, don't be so nervous. I'm not upset. I may be a ninja, but I am still a kid, too." he said, walking over to a drawer, and taking his own spoon out. He took the ice cream from the younger boy's arm and set it on the counter, digging the spoon into it before taking a bite.

"Mmmm, chocolate and peanut butter. Awesome." Naruto commented, beckoning the younger boy closer.

Inari smiled, and took a spoonful of his own, "Um, so did you pass your exams?" the younger boy asked, having been on his own for the past few days, though from how much ice cream was missing, it looked like he had been enjoying himself.

"Yep! The third test will be a tournament a month from now. There were a lot of us, so there were preliminaries. I won my match easily. Didn't even get a scratch." Naruto boasted, smiling.

Inari smiled as well, "You're so cool!"

"Yes, I am!" he replied. "So, how are you're classes going, Inari?"

Inari scrathed the back of his head. "Well, Iruka-sensei said that my taijutsu and chakra control are pretty good, but I don't have a lot of it. My academic grades are great, though!" the younger boy replied happily.

Naruto slapped the boy on his back, "Good, but don't forget to train outside of the Academy, okay?"he said, getting a nod from the younger boy.

"I do. Konohamaru and I practice together all the time. He's better than me, though." the dark-haired boy replied, his voice conveying slight embarrassment.

"Hey, don't worry about it. It's just your first year, you'll get better." Naruto said, trying to cheer the boy up.

"Thanks." he said before he seemed to realize something. "Oh! I almost forgot!" he said before running off to his room. He quickly returned, a piece of paper and a pen clutched in his hands, "This is a permission slip for my class to attend the Chūnin Exams so we can watch the fights. Iruka-sensei said it would be a good experience to see some real ninja in action, so the entire Academy is going to attend except for some kids who don't get permission. Can I go? Please?" he asked earnestly.

Naruto took the pen and permission slip from the younger boys hands and signed his name. He was technically Inari's legal guardian.

"You'll have a good time, Inari. My match is first, by the way." he said before glancing at the clock. "Well, sorry, Inari, but I have to leave. My teammates and I are celebrating our wins in the preliminaries at the bath houses, and I could probably talk them into dinner at Ichiraku's." Naruto said as he put the ice cream away before checking to make sure he had his money.

"Can I come?" the younger boy asked.

Naruto tilted his head in thought before shrugging, "Sure! Let's go!" he said, leading Inari out of the spacious apartment.

~Fifteen Minutes Later~

Naruto sighed as he lowered himself into the hot waters. It felt fantastic, all four boys groaning in pleasure. Luckily, they had managed to get an area that had moving water, so none of the Devil Fruit users had to worry about their bodies locking up. Glancing around, Naruto caught sight of Shikamaru, who had his hair down, and laughed.

"What?" the lazy boy asked, a little irritated.

"You look like a girl with your hair down." Naruto answered, chuckling. Shikamaru scowled as Kiba and Inari laughed along with him.

For the next ten minutes or so, the four boys talked with each other, mostly about training and the like before Inari, Kiba, and Shikamaru began to feel uncomfortable.

"Um, guys?" Kiba spoke up, grimacing. "I know the water is supposed to be hot, but it's getting to be a little too much for me."

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Shikamaru agreed, Inari nodding his head along with him.

"Oh, sorry." Naruto said, smiling impishly.

Kiba blinked, "Wait, you're doing this?" he asked.

Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head, "Well, not on purpose, but sometimes I tend to heat things up." he said.

"Well, can you try to control it?" Shikamaru asked warily. He definitely didn't want to be boiled alive, and he was pretty sure Naruto could easily do that.

Naruto slowly gained a wry smirk on his face before he rose his hand to just above the water and converted it to magma, "Why? What's wrong?"

Both Kiba and Shikamaru jumped, looking ready to get out of the water at a moment's notice, while Inari really did jump out of the water and sat on the edge instead. All three were eying Naruto's magma hand warily. If Naruto dunked his hand in the water, it could very well kill all of them.

"Naruto! Not funny!" Kiba yelled.

"Stop that right now!" Shikamaru demanded.

"Alright, alright, geez, you guys can't take a joke." Naruto said with smirk, reverting his hand back to normal. He then glanced at a wide-eyed Inari, "You can come back in now."

Gulping, the younger boy did so, shooting a look at Naruto, "Honestly, Naruto, that wasn't funny."

Naruto pouted a bit, "You thought it was cool when I showed you that back in Nami."

"That's because I knew I wasn't in any danger!" Inari retorted.

"Hey, it's not like I would have really dropped my hand into the water." he replied indignantly.

"Sometimes, you take your jokes too far, Naruto." Shikamaru said dully.

Naruto 'humphed', "You know, you're supposed to remove the stick from your ass before you get in the water." he said.

Before Shikamaru could retort, Kiba spoke up, "Do you guys... hear that?" he asked, glancing around.

Naruto cocked his head to the side, but heard nothing but the water rushing out of the mini-waterfall. A glance at Shikamaru and Inari showed that they didn't hear anything either. "I don't hear anything? Are you sure you're not just imagining things, Kiba?"

"Shh! There it is again." the brown-haired boy said. Once again, no one seemed to hear anything except for Kiba. Then again, he was an Inuzuka, and so his hearing was superior to any of the others. "It sounds like... giggling?" he added, sounding confused.

Naruto raised an eyebrow, "Well, then I'll go check it out." he said cheerfully, getting up out of the water and grabbing a towel to cover his waist.

"It's coming from over there." Kiba said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder.

Naruto walked in the direction Kiba indicated, his teammates quickly losing sight of him due to the thick steam. As he got closer to the wall that separated the men from the women, Naruto started hearing some odd noises. Was that...? Yep, that was certainly giggling, and it sounded a little perverted. As he got closer to where the giggling was coming from, a figure started becoming more clear.

It was an older man with a long mane of spiky, white hair. The man seemed to be peering through a hole in the wall, letting out a giggle now and then, making it even more obvious that he was spying on the women just on the other side of the wall. Since they were in the bath houses, all the man had on was a towel wrapped around his waist, so anyone would be able to tell the man was a ninja by how in-shape he looked. Naruto, however did not need that indicator to know the man before him was a ninja, because he knew exactly who this man was.

"Jiraiya of the Sannin." Naruto said, a smirk tugging at his lips.

"Eh?" Jiraiya grunted as he turned around, pretending to have only noticed Naruto now, though the redhead knew that the older man knew he was their the whole time. 'So, this is Minato and Kushina's brat...he certainly looks like his mother, but he's kinda scrawny.' Instead of voicing his thoughts out loud, he turned around, dismissing Naruto. "Go away brat, I'm busy." 'Let's see if he has his mother's fiery personality, too.'

"What? Don't recognize me? I mean, sure, you probably haven't seen me since I was born, but I would have thought that you of all people would recognize your own godson, my conspicuously absent godfather." Naruto said haughtily, taking great joy at seeing Jiraiya's skin lighten a few shades.

The older man slowly turned back to Naruto, gazing at him in disbelief, "How-"

"Do I know that?" the redhead interrupted. At Jiraiya's nod, he continued, "Well, as it turns, Kurama – that's the Kyūbi – could totally see out of my mother's seal – yes, I know about that, too – and so he knew quite a bit of things about my parents, such as where they got my name from. And wasn't I super surprised to find out that I apparently had a godfather that I had never met." Naruto continued, still smiling cheerfully. When Jiraiya opened his mouth, Naruto cut him off, "And before you think I hate you, or that I'm even angry at you, I'm really not. If you hadn't ignored your duties to me, I never would have gotten as strong as I have, but seeing my only living family even occasionally would have been rather nice."

"Naruto-"

"Bye, bye, now." Naruto interrupted, tapping his toes on the ground, which caused a pillar of rock to shoot up from the ground just under Jiraiya, sending the Sannin flying up into the air at just the right angle so that when he fell, he ended up on the female side of the bath house. As he fell, Naruto walked back to his friends without a care in the world.

Shikamaru was the first one to catch sight of him, and he lazily raised an eyebrow, "Well? What was it?"

Naruto gave him a thumbs up, "Nothing. Everything has been taken care of."

The fact that this sentence was punctuated by horrified and pained screams coming from the direction Naruto had just come from did more than just disturb the other three.

After another twenty minutes or so, the four left the bath houses and went to a nice restaurant to continue celebrating their success before they all went their separate ways for the rest of the next.

The next morning saw Naruto entering Team 10's training ground along with Shikamaru and Kiba. Unexpectedly, someone aside from Asuma was already waiting for them. Jiraiya. The man immediately walked up to Naruto, who waved Kiba and Shikamaru to go on.

"Listen, Naruto, I know you might not be too fond of me, and I know that I deserve it for not honoring my duties to you, but I'd like to start making up for that now by offering to train you. Asuma tells me that you are a fire and earth user, and since I am too, I could show you some techniques you've probably never even heard of. There are also many other things I could show you, but Asuma tells me you're mainly a ninjutsu type." Jiraiya offered.

Naruto pursed his lips, pretending to think about the offer, while inwardly, he was smirking triumphantly, 'Ha! Worked like a charm!' he laughed inwardly. He always knew that laying a guilt trip on Jiraiya along with implying that his parents would be disappointed in him would lead to the older man offering to train him. However, he wanted to check on something first.

"Give me a minute." the redhead said, walking past the older man to speak with his team.

"So, Naruto, what did Jiraiya-sama want?" Shikamaru asked. Asuma had just informed he and Kiba who the older man was, though Shikamaru had known who he was the moment he saw him. There weren't a lot of ninja with spiky white hair, after all.

"He offered to train me over the next month. No offense to you, Asuma-sensei, but I think he could show me some things even you can't." Naruto said. Asuma shrugged unconcernedly. It was true, after all. "I was going to accept, but I wanted to know what you guys were gonna do first. I could probably get him to train you two, as well."

Shikamaru shrugged, "Training with a Sannin would be beneficial, if extremely troublesome, but I actually only came here to tell you three that I was going to train with my father for the next month, and maybe occasionally come by to get a couple wind techniques." he drawled.

"Training with a Sannin? Hell, yeah!" Kiba yelled, excited.

Asuma quickly interjected, placing a hand on Kiba's shoulder, "Actually, Kiba, I think it might be better if I trained you." he said.

Kiba turned to look at Asuma incredulously. Asuma was no pushover, but this was a Sannin, for god's sake! "Why?"

"Look, I know you guys are teammates, but in the tournament you guys will be enemies. You might have to fight each other, and I think it would be best if you didn't train together so you won't know everything about each other. I might not be Jiraiya-sama, but I can still make you a hell of a lot stronger over this next month." he answered.

Kiba kicked the dirt at his feet, "Damn, that makes a lot of sense. Alright, I guess I'll stick with Asuma-sensei." the dog-boy agreed grudgingly.

Naruto shrugged, "Alright, then I guess I'll see you in a month." he said, turning around to walk back to Jiraiya.

"Wait, Naruto." Kiba spoke up. Naruto turned around, confused as to why Kiba sounded to hesitant.

"What is it?" the red-haired boy asked.

Kiba jerked his head to the left, gesturing for Naruto to follow him as he walked a little ways away, "Listen, I've gotten a lot more powerful since I ate my Devil Fruit, but Akamaru has started lagging behind. I'm an Inuzuka, and Akamaru is my best friend, so I don't want him getting killed because he can't keep up, but I'm not going to abandon him. I was wonder if, maybe, you could give him a Devil Fruit?" the brown-haired boy asked pleadingly.

Naruto blinked, surprised. He never expected for Kiba to ask something like that, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. Akamaru was easily the weakest member of the team, and if he didn't get some added power, he would keep falling behind, which could get him and Kiba both killed.

"Even if I were willing to give Akamaru a Devil Fruit, would he be able to figure out how to use it?" Naruto asked.

"Akamaru isn't just some dog!" Kiba cried indignantly. "Ninken are intelligent, sometimes even more than humans."

"Alright, I get it." Naruto said, holding his hands up in defense. "Ah, why not? It's not like I'm using them for anything. But you have to give me a couple days so I can figure out which one would be best suited for him, okay? I may not be able to tell the difference between the Devil Fruits, but Kurama can."

Kiba nodded happily, "Ah, thanks a lot, Naruto. This means a lot to me." he said gratefully.

Naruto grinned back, "No problem!" he replied as they walked back to their sensei.

Shikamaru left to go back home soon after that, saying that they'd see him in a month, and actually promising to train hard even though, as he put it: "It's such a pain."

Naruto then left to go to a different training ground with Jiraiya, while Kiba stayed at their regular training ground with Asuma.

As soon as they reached their designated training ground, Jiraiya immediately went back to what Naruto would come to realize was his normal personality.

"Before I start teaching you some elemental techniques, I am going to bestow upon you an honor like not other!" the man called out loudly with a giant grin on his face.

"And what's that, Ero-Sennin?" Naruto exclaimed, getting a little pumped himself.

Jiraiya nearly fell over, "What did you call me?" he demanded indignantly.

"What?" Naruto asked innocently. "You're a sage and a pervert. I thought it fit."

"Hey, I'm not a pervert! I'm a SUPER PERVERT!" Jiraiya retorted, getting into a ridiculous Kabuki stance.

Naruto sweatdropped, "So... Super Ero-Sennin, then?"

"No! Stop calling me that, brat!" Jiraiya yelled.

Naruto rolled his eyes, "Whatever you say, Super Ero-Sennin. Now, what was that you were going to offer me?" Naruto asked.

"Brat, I swear... Oh, forget it!" he said in exasperation. "Anyway, I was going to offer the honor of becoming the next Toad Clan Summoner." he added, his giant grin back in place.

"Oh. No thanks." Naruto replied, any excitement he had suddenly gone.

That threw Jiraiya for a loop, "No? What do you mean 'no'?" he demanded.

"Sorry, but I already have a Summoning Contract, and I'm entirely happy with them." Naruto said, somewhat apologetically, since he could tell that this legitimately upset Jiraiya. But then the older man's face lit up with an idea.

"Wait! Even though it's pretty rare to have a Summoning Contract, and it's even more rare to have two, it's not impossible. If your summons and the Toad Clan agree, you'll be allowed to sign both contracts." he said excitedly.

Naruto shook his head, "Sorry, but my summons are pretty territorial. They won't share me with anyone else."

"Oh..." Jiraiya said, back to being depressed. "I guess I was just hoping..." he trailed off with a sigh.

"That I would inherit my father's contract?" Naruto guessed. Jiraiya nodded, "Well, sorry, but I'm not my father. I've read about my father, and so I know that we fight in completely different ways. The Toad Clan is powerful, sure, but I don't I would have been too compatible with them, anyway."

Jiraiya ran a hand through his hair, sighing slightly, "Yeah, you're right. Well, let's just get on with the Ninjutsu training. That's your specialty, right?" he asked rhetorically, walking to a slightly more spacious area in the training ground. Naruto nodded anyway, following behind the Sannin. "Well, then, let's get started, short stuff."

Naruto froze in mid-step, an unnaturally wide smile forming on his face. He craned his neck up almost mechanically to look at Jiraiya, who turned to look at him in confusion.

When Naruto spoke, his voice sounded strained, "What... was that?"

Over in Team 10's training ground, Asuma was showing Kiba some of the finer points of the Fire Release nature, and both of them were started when a massive pillar of lave shot up into the sky from the direction Naruto and Jiraiya had gone off to.

"Ooh, Jiraiya-sama must have uttered one of the words that must not be said." Asuma said, grimacing. It was a real pain whenever someone said that word within earshot of Naruto.

"Should we go help?" Kiba asked, although anyone could tell he didn't really want to. He didn't want to get melted, thank you very much.

Luckily for him, it seemed as though Asuma shared his sentiments, "Are you kidding? I'm not getting anywhere near that. Let's just get back to training, and ignore it until it goes away."

Over the next few hours, the explosions and pained screams thankfully faded into the background for Kiba and Asuma.

~Later That Night~

After showing Ero-Sennin the...error of his ways – consequently leaving the older man with significantly less hair, several first and second degree burns, and some ruined clothes – Naruto decided he had endured enough for his crime, and Jiraiya quickly left, but not before telling him to return the next day. That surprised Naruto a little, but he guessed the man was serious about trying to make up for ignoring him in his early life.

As he was half-way to a restaurant to get some dinner (he was really hungry) Naruto realized he was being followed, and turned down an empty valley, coming to a stop.

"Alright, whoever you are, you can come out now." Naruto called cheerfully. A second later a swirl of water appeared in front of him, taking the form of a familiar green-haired competitor in the Chūnin Exams.

"Hōzuki Yūgiri...well, well, to what do I owe this little visit?" Naruto said, smirking mightily.

The older boy smiled back pleasantly, "Oh, I think you know why I'm here. Give me the Kubikiribōchō." he demanded.

Naruto pursed his lips, pretending to think about it, before shaking his head cheerily, "No, I think I'll hold on to it." he said, smirking in amusement as the other boy shifted into a vaguely threatening stance. "What are you gonna do, attack me here? Go ahead, you'll have hundreds of Konoha ninja on you in less than a minute."

Yūgiri lost his smile and clenched his fists, "You have no right to have it." he said lowly.

"And why's that? After all, I'm the one who killed the previous wielder." Naruto said haughtily.

The green-haired boy's eyes widened before he started shaking his head vigorously, "No. There's absolutely no way someone like you killed Momochi Zabuza, the Kirigakure no Kijin!" he denied.

Naruto raised an eyebrow, "What's that supposed to mean? Even you admitted that I was powerful."

"Yeah, but not that powerful. Oh, sure, you can throw around a bunch of powerful techniques without breaking a sweat, but I have no doubt that I could beat you. And if I could beat you, so could Zabuza." Yūgiri said.

Naruto shrugged, "Well, I admit that I didn't really fight him, but I did deal the killing blow. He was distracted by two other Jōnin, and I took that opportunity to finish him off." the redhead said casually.

"Well, if that's true, I can't really fault you for taking an opening. We are ninja, after all." the other boy said quietly, before he glared at Naruto, "But that still doesn't give you the right to have the Kubikiribōchō. Look, you like making deals, right? Well, I'll make you a deal right now: You give me the Kubikiribōchō right now, and if we fight in the Exams, I won't kill you, just hurt you a little." Yūgiri offered.

Naruto cocked his head to the side, "Not a bad deal all around, but I have a counter-offer. In fact, it's the same deal I offered your teammate. If you beat me in the Exams, then I'll give you the Kubikiribōchō. Hell, if you happen to get farther in the tournament than I do, then I'll even give it to you then, too. And you shouldn't count me out yet. I know you're powerful, but you haven't seen the depths of my power, either." Naruto said dangerously, but still with some amusement in his voice. Strangely – to Yūgiri at least – the alley also seemed to heat up a few degrees.

Yūgiri bared his teeth, "Don't compare me to you! As young as I am, I've actually fought in a war, however brief it was. I've had to kill people, and do other things I didn't like, sometimes it was for a good cause, and sometimes it wasn't. To me, this is a good cause. I won't hesitate to kill you to get back such an honored relic of Kirigakure, and don't think I won't come at you with all my power just for what you perceive as just a simple sword." he said, before shaking his head and turning around. "Whatever. I can see that anything I say won't get you to give it back, so I'll wait until the tournament."

Naruto smirked, not even flinching when a water bullet brushed past his face, impacting and leaving a hole in the wall beside him.

Yūgiri, who still had his finger extended, "But you better be ready to fight a real demon." he warned Naruto, disappearing in a swirl of water.

Naruto smirked in amusement before he turned around to leave the alley, flicking his eyes up to the building to his left, just barely catching the image of a boy wrapped in bandages fading away into nothingness.

'So, I have two countries gunning for me now, huh? Both of them have a very powerful competitor in the tournament, and one of them has promised to kill me while the other has been ordered to.' Naruto mused to himself as he made his way to Ichiraku Ramen. 'Well, this certainly should be interesting.'

The next day, Naruto went to his designated training ground he was using for the next month with Jiraiya. It was a little odd, since it was basically Jiraiya going down a list of fire and earth techniques he knew – and was willing to teach – and Naruto telling the man whether or not he knew the technique. As it turned out, Jiraiya really did know a bunch of techniques that Naruto didn't. The older man also laid out a lesson plan for the other things he was going to teach Naruto, such as training his physical strength and taijutsu when he saw how 'pathetic' – as he called it – they both were. Naruto kind of wanted to tell the man about his Magma Body to avoid that, but he wanted to keep it a secret from the man until the finals. He also said he'd teach him a technique developed by his father, the Yondaime Hokage, the Rasengan. When Jiraiya demonstrated it, Naruto was a little hesitant since it didn't really fit his fighting style, but it was from his father, so he wouldn't have felt right if he turned down learning it.

Naruto didn't just let Jiraiya dictate what he was going to learn over the month, though. He had decided to develop a couple techniques of his own. He knew that they both already existed, but he could recreate them on his own in no time flat. So, he set out to learn/recreate the Lava Clone Technique and the Lava Release Armor. The reason he had never bothered to learn/recreate those techniques before was because his Magma Body was basically a combination of both, since attacking the Lava Clone would have the same effect of attacking him directly, and the Lava Release Armor was pretty much a semi-watered down version of his Magma Body. The reason he was bothering to do that now was because he wanted to keep his Magma Body a secret until the last match.

A few days after that, Naruto headed to the Inuzuka Clan Compound with a scroll in his hands. Walking up to the door of the largest house, he went to the knock on the door, but it was answered before he could.

Kiba stood there in a plain black t-shirt and shorts with a huge grin on his face, "You got one?" he asked in excitement.

Naruto lifted the scroll in his hands with a smile and a nod, "Yep. I think I picked the perfect one for him."

Kiba opened the door wider for him, "Well, come on in. We can go up to my room, and you can tell us about it, 'kay?"

"Alright." he answered as he removed his sandals and proceeded to follow Kiba up to his room. "Say, how did you know I was right outside?"

Kiba looked at him from over his shoulder, "I could smell you." he said casually.

Naruto got a weird look on his face, "I know your sense of smell is good, but I didn't think you'd just pick up my scent like that." he stated.

Kiba blushed slightly, "Oh, w-well, I've been kind of waiting for you each night, so I kept looking – smelling, really – for your scent." he said, slightly sheepish.

Naruto laughed as they arrived at the dog boy's room. They both walked in, Kiba shutting the door and sitting next to Akamaru on the bed while Naruto took a seat on a chair next to a desk.

"So, did you tell him about this?" Naruto asked Kiba, referring to Akamaru.

Kiba nodded, "Yeah, I told him all about it, and even the fact that he would never be able to be in any kind of body of water ever again. But really, that's fine for both of us. Akamaru doesn't really like water, and even I can admit that a wet dog smells awful, especially for my enhanced sense of smell." Kiba said wryly.

Naruto nodded in agreement, "I know what you mean. I was smelling it the entire time we were at the bath houses." Naruto said, a smirk tugging at his lips.

A look of confusion overtook Kiba's features, "What do you mean? Akamaru wasn't even-Hey!" the brunette cried angrily, realizing that Naruto was taking a crack at him.

Naruto laughed at him for a few moments before a sudden thought made him frown a bit, "Uh, did you tell your family how you won your match?" he asked hesitantly.

Kiba shook his head, "No, I just told them that after Akamaru got hurt, I got mad and pulled off a win." he said, relieving Naruto. Then Kiba bit his lip, pausing slightly before he spoke again with a slight sigh, "Naruto...you know that I'm going to have to tell them eventually, right? My mom knows exactly what an Inuzuka is capable of, and turning parts of my body into unbelievably sharp blades is definitely not one of them." he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

Naruto nodded, "I know. Much as I don't like it, I knew this would happen eventually, and I would never ask you to give up your shot at becoming a Chūnin just to keep my secret." he said, smiling slightly. "Just promise you'll only tell your mother, and only after you make her promise you she won't tell anyone else. The Hokage already knows, so she doesn't have to worry about that, alright?" he asked seriously.

The Inuzuka boy nodded immediately, "I promise. My mom may be scary, but she keeps her promises." he replied with no hesitation.

"Thanks." Naruto said gratefully. "Is anyone coming to cheer you on next month?"

"Yeah, my mom and big sis are coming to watch my fight, even though they think I'm gonna lose." he said with a roll of his eyes.

Naruto blinked, "Why would they think that?"

With a huff, Kiba explained, "When they heard that my match was against the so-called 'Hyūga Prodigy'... well, they pretty much lost all hope in me pulling out a win. "They didn't say it straight out, but I could see it in their eyes." he said, using air-quotes when saying Neji's epithet.

"Well, I'd love to see their faces when they see how hard you kick his ass!" the red-haired boy laughed.

A feral grin crept up onto Kiba's face, "Yeah... It's gonna be an ass-kicking for the record books." he said viciously, remembering how unnecessarily brutal Neji had been in his match with Hinata just because the boy hated the Main Branch of the Hyūga Clan.

Naruto smiled back, "I'm sure it will. Anyway, I should probably get on with what I came here for." Naruto said, unfurling the scroll, and applying chakra to it. After the usual puff of smoke cleared, Naruto was holding an odd looking fruit. "Now, before I give this to you, I'm gonna tell you what it is, so you can practice more easily, and so you can tell me whether or not you agree with my choice."

"Alright." Kiba agreed, Akamaru also barking in agreement.

With a deep breath, Naruto began his explanation, "This fruit is known as the Toge Toge no Mi. It's actually pretty similar to yours, Kiba, because just like the name suggests, it allows the user to turn parts of their body into spikes. For example, if I were using it, I could turn my fingers into spikes and shoot them at other people. They're really fast and powerful, able to pierce through solid rock. Any part of your body can become a spike, even your hair." Naruto explained.

Kiba turned to look at Akamaru, "So, Akamaru could turn all of his fur into a bunch of spikes?" Kiba asked, excitement creeping into his voice.

Naruto nodded, "Yeah, he could do that in his dog form, and when he transforms into you, he could do it with his hair, his fingers, his arms, his legs... you get the point. Oh! He could even turn his entire fist into one giant spiked ball. So, what do you think?" he asked.

"Well, I think it's perfect." Kiba began, before he turned back to Akamaru, "But what do you think, buddy?"

Akamaru barked and yipped a couple times. It always amazed Naruto how Kiba apparently understood every single growl or bark that Akamaru uttered like the dog was speaking their own language. That thought made Naruto idly wonder if Akamaru could speak when he transformed into Kiba. He was shaken out of his thoughts when Kiba turned back to him. The grin on his face told him Akamaru's answer before he even spoke.

"Akamaru likes it, too. And he wanted to thank you for doing this." the brunette said, taking the fruit gratefully.

Naruto grinned, "It's no problem!" he said, reaching over to pat Akamaru's head. He looked around for a moment before catching sight of a clock. "Well, it's getting pretty late, so I gotta go. I'll see you both in a month." Naruto said, turning to leave.

"We'll walk you out." Kiba said, he and Akamaru following.

And so the month passed in much the same way for Naruto. He spent nearly every day working on improving his ninjutsu, and on improving his taijutsu and physical strength. He spent most of the time with Jiraiya, but whenever he felt like working on his Lava Release – which he had yet to reveal to the man – he would just tell the older man that he wanted to work on his own for a while. Surprisingly, Jiraiya never once argued with him, but Naruto had a feeling that was mostly because it gave the self-proclaimed 'Super Pervert' more time to peep on girls at the bath houses.

In the blink of an eye, it was finally time for the Chūnin Exams Finals and Naruto was standing in the middle of a giant stadium at 9:00 A.M. sharp, somewhat surprised at the massive amount of people in the stands, cheering boisterously for the sixteen Genin that were competing for the chance to become a Chūnin. Some of them were simple civilians, others were ninja on their day off, ninja visiting from other villages, or visiting dignitaries. He even saw a section that had a bunch of Academy students surrounded by Konoha Chūnin. Up in the Kage Box, Naruto saw a rare sight. All Five Kage were in attendance, each of them casting a critical eye on the other village's competitors. At least he thought that was what they were doing. He couldn't actually see their faces since they were so high up. Naruto then shifted his gaze to look at the immediate area around him, brushing over the proctor, who was boredly chewing on a senbon, to see that every Chūnin Prospect was already there.

Up in the stands, all of the sensei for each of the Genin competing, even the ones from different villages, were sitting together, even the Genin who didn't make it past the prelims, except for the ones from Otogakure. Asuma, who was sitting next to Kurenai, saw something that made him stare in shock.

"Kakashi?" he uttered disbelievingly when he saw the masked man walk towards them. "You're... on time?"

Kakashi rubbed the back of his head sheepishly, "Ah, well I wanted to come just in time for Sasuke's match to make an entrance, but Hokage-sama said that he'd have to disqualify Sasuke if he didn't show up in time for the beginning of the tournament. Something about it being okay if it were just one of the other Kage, but since the other four were going to come, too, well...I kind of stopped paying attention after that." he admitted unashamedly. Most people there either snorted or sweatdropped when they heard that.

Up in the Kage box, the old Hokage stood up when he saw that every Chūnin hopeful had already arrived. With one glance back at the other Kage, Hiruzen magnified his voice for everyone to hear.

"Welcome one and all to the bi-annual Chūnin Selection Exams!" he exclaimed, causing the crowd to cheer loudly. "Now, now, settle down. These particular exams look to be one of the best in history! Sixteen Genin stand before you, all vying to become a Chūnin and represent their respective villages to the best of their ability. Now, I don't want to keep any of you waiting for long, so proctor, take it away!"

The proctor, a man named Shiranui Genma, gazed at them all boredly. Alright, you all know the rules. If I say a match is over, it's over. If you don't stop when I say to, I'm authorized to use force if necessary. Anything goes, even killing and maiming, but make sure to put on a good show." he said lazily to the Genin in front of him. He then turned around and raised his voice so everyone could hear, "Now, the first match is Kurotsuchi of Iwagakure vs. Uzumaki Naruto of Konohagakure! Could I have the two competitors stay here while the rest of you go to the competitor's box to your left, please?" he asked/ordered, the Genin doing so without any hesitation.

The two Genin left, Naruto and Kurotsuchi, smirked at each other, one in amusement and the other with malicious intent.

Genma jumped back, "Begin!"

~End~

Well, there you go. This was basically a transition chapter. We'll get to the fights next chapter. As for the Academy watching the Chūnin Exams, it was really just on a whim. And I changed the image for every one of my stories. And that 'conversation' Naruto had with Yūgiri was actually supposed to be a lot shorter. And it wasn't supposed to take such a serious turn.

As for the manga, even if Naruto and Sasuke really did die, Obito will eventually just overpower Black Zetsu, or whatever that is, and use the Outer Path to revive them, finding his redemption. Hell, I wouldn't be too surprised if he revived the four Hokage, which would kind of suck for Hiruzen and Minato, since one is 69 years old and the other is missing an arm. Well, I wrote this before the new chapter came out, but I still think this is a possibility.

Speaking of the new chapter, I think Yamato is inside Spiral Zetsu. I don't think he's doing it willingly, more like he's being used. Also, I suddenly like Karin a lot more. Chakra Chains like Kushina's? Awesome! And to me, that says that Naruto could totally use them since it's not just a unique power of Kushina's. I could even put them in this story, but I'm not so sure, even though Magma Chakra Chains does sound kind of interesting. I'm not sure who ended up in front of Sasuke, but they're obviously barefoot, which could be Karin, or Suigetsu, but I think they would have shown them if it were, so I think it's Obito. And Madara looks pretty cool in his new outfit, and if he's apparently going to appear in front of Kakashi, well, Kakashi's gonna die, isn't he? Also...

HOLY FUCK! HOLY SHIT! Sakura cut a fucking hole in Naruto's chest and beat his heart by hand to keep him alive. Many respect points to her for that. Honestly, any hate I had for her totally vanished the second she did that.

See ya later~