~ oOo ~ The Return of the Fullmetal Alchemist ~ oOo ~
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist.
Published: April 6, 2013
Notes: I know that this chapter is short, but I already had chapter four all the way written through and I wanted to publish it and I kinda needed to publish chapter three first. I didn't proofread this chapter much, sorry for that. Anywho, let me know what you think! Also, I've started a tumblr blog (actually, I started it a few months ago but didn't actually do anything with it until now, yes I'm that lazy). If people actually visit it, I'll probably do a lot more cool stuff there, like publish all the different fanfiction ideas I get so you guys can choose which ones you like best.
Worksheet, Exam, and Surprises – Part Two
Naruto sat at his kitchen table, eyes staring at the General Information results. He frowned, placing his head on the table next to the paper and sighing. What on earth was with these marks?
He banged his head against the table a few times, just to see if anything changed. He glanced at the paper again. Nope, still perfect marks. The only thing that had changed was the death of a few dozen innocent brain cells. He sighed.
Why did the world have to conspire against him? And he had been doing so well lately. Ever since he had gotten his mother's books and his father's jutsu six months ago, he had been inspired to be an even better, stronger, more intelligent person.
He did notice that there were a few odd changes to his behavior after reading about Alchemy, but nothing too major. Instead of orange, he liked red. If not red, black would do. He preferred the blue ninja uniforms to the green ones, if forced with a choice of two such boring colors. Schoolwork seemed a little easier, but that was only because he was reading his mother's books every chance he got. (1)
Right? Right. He'd even given up his pranks to read his books.
The boy sighed once again, waiting for his instructor to come in and explain why his results had either been pranked (unlikely) or accidentally switched with someone else's (more likely, but still weird). Perhaps his results had been switched with Sakura's results, because these marks could have only come from her. Or maybe even Shikamaru.
Knock, knock! "Naruto, are you home?" Iruka's voice rang.
Naruto stood up, stretching his limbs as his wooden chair screeched back on the tile floor. "Yeah, yeah," he answered irritably. "Keep your shirt on!"
The nine-year-old walked toward his door and opened it, surprised to see not only Iruka, who was holding a stack of papers and a yellow envelope in his hand, but also the Hokage himself.
Naruto stood there in the doorway a few moments, blinking innocently upwards at the imposing adults in front of his door. "If this is about the toilet paper and the Teachers' Lounge . . ." Naruto said with his eyes narrowed. "I don't know anything 'bout it!"
Behind the Hokage, Iruka growled. "You mean you were the one to completely ruin the Lounge?!" he asked furiously, hand starting to crinkle the papers. "We found one of Akamaru's hairs on the floor and punished Kiba!"
"Um . . . No?" Naruto ventured. Well, perhaps he had not completely given up his pranks––but he was doing much better now that he was too busy with studying the Alchemy texts to be lonely. Loneliness caused him to want attention, and there was no better way to receive attention than to prank someone unsuspecting. Or, really, someone suspecting would do just as well.
The Hokage allowed a smile of amusement to drop onto his face, placing a hand on Naruto's shoulder. "No, Naruto, I'm not here about that . . ." he said, ignoring the way that Iruka was working himself into a rage, face turning an interesting shade of purplish red. "Can we come in?" he asked, reminding Naruto that he had still left them outside.
Naruto was still suspicious, but he nodded and stepped inside. "Make yourself comfortable, Grandpa," he said, verbally disrespectful of the Hokage but always trying to keep the old man comfortable when he visited. "Are you thirsty?"
The Hokage sat down at the kitchen table, opposite from the exam results, looking down at them for a moment before looking back toward Naruto. "A glass of water would be wonderful, Naruto, if it's not too much trouble."
As Iruka leaned against the wall behind the Hokage, Naruto walked toward a cabinet and pulled out one of his mismatched cups, moving toward the sink and filling the glass from the tap. After it filled, he placed it in front of the Hokage and sat down in his chair, moving the exam results to the side so that he could concentrate on what the Hokage wanted to talk about.
The Hokage waved his hand. "No, no, Naruto, that's fine. In fact, that's what I wanted to talk to you about."
Naruto stopped his motion and placed the paper back on the table. He leaned forward with a dark look in his eyes. "You mean to tell me that you're behind this?" he asked. "I mean, seriously, I didn't know you even pranked!"
The Hokage looked completely befuddled. "Excuse me?" he asked, eyes popping out of their sockets.
Naruto sat back in his chair with a relieved sigh, ignoring the old man. "So it was a prank after all. I mean, really –– me? Best of my class?" Naruto snorted. "Not gonna happen."
"Actually, Naruto," the Hokage said. "Those results are very real. And that's why we are here."
Naruto remained silent a long while, studying the Hokage and the small group of people who had managed to crowd themselves into the spot between the kitchen table and the wall behind the Hokage with a wary eye. ". . . Are you sure you're not pulling my foot?" he asked.
Iruka frowned, moving a bit forward to be apart from the group. "Naruto, what we want to know is exactly how you managed to do so good –– in my classes these past three years, you were definitely an enthusiastic student, but ultimately your scores were very low. Then, about a year and a half ago, you started gradually doing better. I only noticed a while ago, (2) but when I looked at the records it became obvious –– you had been improving for a long time."
Naruto shrugged. "Not that much –– I mean, I noticed that I started to get C's and B's instead of F's, but it wasn't that big a deal," he said. "I've been so busy that I barely noticed."
The Hokage took over the conversation. "And perhaps that's important, Naruto," he said. "There's nothing wrong with getting good grades––actually, I'm proud of you," he said with a wide smile. "But the change in your grades was so dramatic that we had to make sure."
Naruto glared. "That I wasn't cheating?" he growled.
The Hokage sighed. "You know that I believe you would never cheat," he said, "but as Hokage I have a duty to make sure. If you look at this, you might understand where our confusion comes from." The Hokage raised a hand to Iruka, who stepped forward and placed the stack of papers in the Hokage's hand.
The Hokage handed them over to Naruto, who looked at the cover.
"Hey, these are my grades," Naruto said, looking back up at the Hokage.
The Hokage nodded at the paper as if to say, Go on, look at it.
Naruto flipped to the next sheet of paper, looking at his grades for all his assignments and tests at the Academy.
Like he expected, his grades for his first and second year of Academy were all F's. He knew that, halfway during first year, he had received his mother's books and his father's jutsu scrolls and had started studying extensively. He had barely listened to the lectures, instead reading his books. Naruto scanned third year, unsurprised to see more of the same. Then he saw a row of D's. A few months down, he saw a row of C's. Near the end of that third year, he was scoring B's with an occasional A. During forth year––this year––the A's had turned to an almost unbroken series of A+'s.
The three ninja watched closely as Naruto looked through the stack of paper. His bored gaze seemed to barely touch the paper for the first few minutes as the kitchen clock tick-tocked loudly in the silence of the apartment. Then Naruto's eyes froze for a second. He focused sharply on the papers before him. He shifted from page to page at a furious pace, before finding himself at the last page. Naruto then completely reread it, again and again. At the end of his study, Naruto dropped the papers to the kitchen table with a soft whoosh, the papers fanning out lightly.
"So you see what puzzles us, Naruto," the Hokage said, hands in his lap.
Naruto took a few seconds to continue thinking, before placing both elbows on the table and steepling his fingers. "I'm all ears," he said, eyes narrowed and deadly serious. The transformation from carefree Academy student to a concentrated something else was obvious, though no less puzzling for its conspicuousness.
The Hokage took a deep breath. He knew that, before reading these grades, Naruto had not fully belived their claims. He had just been humoring them. Seeing Naruto's reaction to these grades, it was plainly apparent that he had no clue of what he had been doing –– and though the Hokage had truly not believed that Naruto had cheated, now he was absolutely certain of it. Still, he had to make sure for the sake of fairness.
The Hokage looked behind him, waving to Iruka. Iruka handed him the large yellow envelope. The Hokage nodded his thanks absentmindedly before placing it on the tbale before him and sliding toward Naruto with a swiiiish across the wooden table.
Naruto pulled the unmarked envelope closer and studied it closely, wondering what surprise would befall him next.
The Hokage leaned forward in his chair. "Do you know what that is, Naruto?" he asked. Naruto seemed tired, but also strangely excited. Perhaps it would be best to put off the rest of the visit for another day . . .
"No," Naruto said. "Though I'd guess it was my General Information exam."
"Yes," the Hokage said. He looked out of the window, but remained focused on Naruto, who yawned. "It's getting late," he said. "Iruka and I will explain the test tomorrow evening, okay?"
Naruto frowned. "Oh, come on!" he said. "I'm still (yaaaawn) not tired!"
The Hokage chuckled. "Tomorrow, Naruto," he said, taking back the envelope. He and Iruka left the apartment, leaving a half-asleep Naruto pouting behind them.
Naruto yawned a third time, stretching his arms. He rubbed his eyes with a sigh, ambling toward his bathroom to brush his teeth. "Fine, fine, tomorrow," he said.
~ oOo ~
A pair of golden eyes opened, looking at the dark ceiling above them. The figure remained motionless for a few moments, before his vision adjusted to the gloom. He turned his head slowly, looking around.
He could see pipes along the distant walls, and a wall of prison bars in the shape of a gate to the side. The bars were much too far apart to hold him, but he wondered if he was inside the cage or outside. He was laying on water, somehow, he noticed.
The figure lowered his hands from his chest to the water, pushing himself into a seating position and then fully standing up.
He was covered by his brown traveling cloak, which he tucked closer around himself. Wherever he was, it was freezing. His breath came out in puffs of warm air.
He crept closer to the bars in curiosity. He rested a hand on a single bar, which was thicker than his arm. It was filled with energy, he sensed––a huge amount of it. There was a piece of paper in the middle of the gate. He studied it, frowning. There were some similarities between the symbols on the paper and the symbols he knew of Alchemy . . .
He recognized altered forms of the symbol for 'containment' and 'sacrifice'. He twisted backwards to look into the area behind the prison. He strained his eyes. There, almost out of sight, he saw something. It was a large creature the likes of which he had never seen before, with nine separate tails waving around him in sleep.
He reached a single hand through the bars, before jerking it backwards in shock. Contained within the prison was an avalanche of energy. It was malicious, in the same way that the homunculi were filled with negative energy. He stepped backward further, wary to get too close, even if the monster was sleeping.
Now that he knew what the energy felt like, he could sense that a few of the pipes in the room were taking energy from the creature and pulling it somewhere else. He followed the pipes, but before he got to the end he was stopped by a thick door. The pipes went through the wall, to their destination, but he could not continue.
He first tried to break the door down by slamming into it, but that did nothing. Then he clapped his hands together using Alchemy, but even that did not work. For a moment, he spotted a sliver of light poking through he keyhole. He bent down and peered through it with his eye, but the moving images behind it were blurry and he could not make any shapes out.
Eventually, he returned to the room with the creature, sitting down and waiting for something to happen.
(1) More little hints about Naruto changing into Edward! I LOVE dropping these! The source of the red and black colors are pretty easy to recognize, but can anyone tell me why Naruto "preferred the blue ninja uniforms to the green ones, if forced with a choice of two such boring colors"?
(2) I know it seems unbelievable that a teacher wouldn't notice that his student was improving, but for the sake of the story you'll have to pretend that makes sense. Also, you have to remember that Iruka was in the hospital at the time that Naruto started getting REALLY GOOD marks, and that's when he noticed Naruto's improvement in the last chapter.
To Be Continued . . .
Please Review; Constructive Criticism Welcomed!