Trials of Ice and Fire

Summary: Everyone knows Naruto meets his tenant during the training for the Chūnin Exams when he falls down the chasm; but, what if it happened differently? What if Naruto met Kyūbi when Jiraiya removed the Gogyō Fūin? What happens when Kyūbi wants to make a deal with Naruto, and how is Jiraiya involved? Watch as Naruto takes the Chūnin Exams and the world by storm. The story starts during the month of training for the Chūnin Exams.

Tags: Strong!Naruto Smart!Naruto Sasuke!Bashing Sakura!Bashing Council!Bashing

Pairing: Naruto x Fem. Haku





"Boss Summon/Tailed Beast Speaking"

'Boss Summon/Tailed Beast Thoughts'

Author Note:

Here are a few things I should mention that are different from cannon.

In this story Kyūbi has a more neutral attitude than the anime. He is still a great demon Kitsune of anger. However, after a century of captivity, it has toned down a bit and is more willing to work with its containers. It was Uchiha Madara who found the Kyūbi and used him to attack both times 'at the valley of the end with the Shodai Hokage culminating with sealing Kyūbi into Uzumaki Mito, and in the village after ripping it out of Kushina's seal. Using an ability of the Mangekyo Sharingan, he enslaved the Kyūbi to his will and sent it to rampage in the village. Kyūbi never broke free from Madara's genjutsu or broke out of the genjutsu before being sealed into Naruto.

Sasuke and Sakura both know about the Kyūbi being sealed inside of Naruto. Sasuke regained consciousness in the middle of Naruto's rampage and saw Naruto's power. After the battle of the bridge, Sasuke then demanded Naruto to give him that power. Sakura in typical fan girl fashion sided with Sasuke in demanding Naruto's power. After constant berating after avoiding the question, Naruto told Kakashi to tell them and then stormed off.

Haku for one is female. During the wave mission, Haku was not killed. Instead, she was spared. With Zabuza's dying breath he asked Haku to find her own dream and live life as a person, not a tool. Haku decides to take Zabuza's sword and return to Kirigakure to help with the rebellion. She decides that before she finds her own dream, she will honor Zabuza by fulfilling his first. In the weeks before the bridge's completion and Naruto's return to the village, she and Naruto talk about their pasts and dreams for the future while bonding and becoming good friends. They depart to go their separate ways with a promise to meet in the future.

Naruto can access a small amount of the Kyūbi's chakra at will-not much, but enough for the initial state. This will be explained further in the story.

Chapter 1: A Mutual Agreement

Flashback: After the preliminaries

Uzumaki Naruto has been having a bad day. He passed the preliminaries of the Chūnin Exams and went to the hospital to see if he could get Kakashi-sensei to train him. He refused saying he had to train Uchiha Sasuke, Naruto's teammate on Team 7, but he did get Naruto a teacher.

Unfortunately it was the closet pervert Ebisu. Ebisu is a Tokubetsu Jōnin Naruto met after his first encounter with Sarutobi Konohamaru, the Sandaime Hokage's grandson, when he was knocked out after an encounter with Naruto's Hāremuno Jutsu 'Harem Jutsu'. He is a snooty and arrogant man dressed in the standard blue of a Jōnin, wearing round sunglasses, and his Hitai-ate 'Forehead Protector' worn as a bandanna. He also is one who sees Naruto as the "Fox Brat."

Naruto was furious and immediately refused his help. Ebisu, playing on Naruto's ego and negative feelings toward him, challenges Naruto. If Naruto was able to escape from him, he would resign as his teacher and convince Kakashi to train him. Taking the bait, Naruto accepts and quickly flees.

After a village-wide chase involving multiple uses of the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu 'Shadow Clone Jutsu' and a lot of frustration for Naruto, he finally gives in and accepts Ebisu as his teacher. After lunch at Ichiraku Ramen, a lecture on chakra control, and one empty wallet belonging to Ebisu later, the duo moves to the hot springs to practice water walking.

Shortly after starting to practice, Naruto discovered a man peeping on the women's side of the hot spring. Ebisu, seeing this, demands he cease his actions and tries to attack him, ending with him knocked out at the hands of the man and a large toad. After his hermit dance and crazy introduction, the super pervert, now identified as Jiraiya the Gamma Sennin 'Toad Sage', decides to take Naruto under his wing.

We now find Naruto with Jiraiya at a waterfall near the outskirts of Konoha trying to get the water walking exercise down.

End Flashback!

"Kuso! Why can't I do this?" an orange clad Naruto shouts in frustration after yet another failed attempt at water walking ending with him drenched.

Grumbling at his failure, Naruto discards his jumpsuit leaving him clad in a pair of green boxers patterned with little ramen bowls patterned.

'What am I doing wrong! I'm channeling my chakra in a steady amount to my feet! Why won't it work already?'

Frustrated beyond belief Naruto decides to ask for help. "Ne, Ero-Sennin. Do you have any idea what I'm doing wrong?"

Rapidly turning around with an angry look "Damn gaki! I told you not to call me tha..."

Trailing off with a confused look, Jiraiya is looking intently at Naruto's seal with its new addition.

'Why is there a Gogyō Fūin (Five Elements Seal) over Naruto's Hakke no Fūin Shiki (Eight Trigrams Seal)? No wonder he's having difficulties. An odd numbered seal over an even numbered seal would screw up anyone's chakra control.'

Walking over to Naruto who now has a rather exasperated look on his face Jiraiya asks, "Gaki, why is there a Gogyō Fūin over your seal?"

"A what? OH! Is that what that damn snake-pedo Orochimaru did after he jabbed me in the stomach? He attacked us during the second stage in the Forest of Death!"

'Orochi-teme, I should have known. I knew he placed his Ten no Juin 'Cursed Seal of Heaven' on the Uchiha because Sarutobi-sensei asked me to look at the Fūja Hōin 'Evil Sealing Method' Kakashi placed to contain it. However, he didn't tell me that Naruto had a seal as well. Why didn't he say anything?'

"Naruto, didn't you tell anyone you had that seal placed on you?"

With a rather sheepish look on his face Naruto said, "Ehhh. I forgot to?"

After jumping up from face-faulting onto the ground, Jiraiya slapped Naruto on the back of the head and exclaimed, "You dumb gaki! How could you forget to say anything? Didn't you notice how your chakra control was shot after that?"

"What do you mean my chakra control was shot? I thought it just got rid of Kyūbi's chakra which I was using at the time! Is this why I can't do the water walking? Can you get rid of it?"

With a flabbergasted look on his face Jiraiya asked: "Did you say Kyūbi's chakra? You can wield it? Since when?"

"Yeah, I can, ever since I went on the mission to Wave Country. Kakashi-sensei told me what happened afterward because my memory is kinda fuzzy from there. He also told me how I went berserk. So, I started training myself in using it so I didn't go crazy every time I drew on it after we got back to the village. I didn't get very far though. I could only use so much before it got real hazy, and I started losing myself to bloodlust."

He had a fearful look on his face now. "I didn't want that to happen when I was in the village. I'm treated bad enough by the village already. Between the civilian council making my life hell by allowing the vendors to throw me out of their shops and overcharge me for rotten food and poor quality equipment, my apartment constantly being broken into and my things broken, as well as the threatening messages like 'Die demon' painted on my walls, and the glares and curses I get from the villagers, things are bad enough. I'm just lucky the mobs that beat me half to death stopped after I became a ninja. I was tired of getting poison in my IV's at the hospital."

'This changes everything. I had planned on only giving him some basic training in drawing on the Kyūbi and letting him sign the toad contract. However, if he is already using it's chakra I'm going to have to move up my plans for him, especially since I've heard from my spy network that the Akatsuki are becoming more active.'

It took a moment for the rest of Naruto's statement to register, but when it did he was furious, a massive killer intent spread all across the clearing.


Completely ignoring Naruto's nervous look at feeling the killer intent, he starts pacing back and forth furiously.

'Damn them! Why would they do this? Naruto is a hero! Every day he protects the village by being the jailer of Kyūbi! Those ignorant bastards are blinded by their hatred of the beast and they take it out on Naruto just for being the container! I bet they don't even see Naruto as a human! They probably only see the Kyūbi!'

Killer intent rising by the second he walks over to the nearest tree and throws Rasengan after Rasengan at it in a rage. Turning to Naruto with murder still burning in his eyes, he instantly freezes when he notices Naruto is curled up on the ground in a fetal position fearfully staring out at nothing with tears welling in his eyes, flashbacks of the beatings he suffered running through his mind triggered by the large amount of killer intent Jiraiya was exuding.

'Those eyes. Such eyes full of pain and fear. No child should have such eyes. What did they do to you Naruto? I'm so sorry I wasn't there. I'm so sorry Minato, Kushina. I've failed your son!'

Face now taking on a determined look, Jiraiya comes to a decision. 'This stops now! Screw the council and their decision, I'm taking Naruto as my apprentice and leaving with him after the exams. I'm one of the Densetsu no Sannin (Legendary Three Ninja). I can do it and they can't stop me. I'm going to make him so strong for the finals and show them all the mistakes they made. I'm going to have to talk to Sarutobi-sensei after we are done here.'

Taking deep breaths to calm himself, his face takes on the softest and most caring expression he can muster. He slowly walks over to Naruto so as not to scare him any more than he already is. Kneeling and gently encircling Naruto in his arms, he can feel how Naruto goes completely rigid.

"It's okay Naruto. I'm so sorry about that. When you told me what happened, I forgot myself for a moment there. Please calm down. I won't hurt you. I won't let anyone else hurt you anymore either. I will protect you from them. That is a promise. Just let it all out, I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."

Naruto tentatively returns Jiraiya's hug, and when nothing else happens, he buries his face in Jiraiya's chest and cries. Sadness flowing out of him in waves, he weeps for his life and for all the pain, suffering, loneliness, and solitude. Gripping Jiraiya like he is his very link to life, Naruto reveals his pain to the world. The mask of happiness that he wore all his life is shattered. All the agony that he feels deep in his very soul he cries out to the heavens in his anguish.

2 Hours Later

Eventually Naruto runs out of energy and falls asleep in Jiraiya's arms. Picking him up bridal style with tears running down his own face and feeling pain in his heart, Jiraiya leaps away to take Naruto home so he can go and think for a bit.

After arriving back at the village, he decides to walk in order to get a feel of the villagers on his way to Naruto's apartment. While walking through the village, he can see the glares directed at Naruto and the muttering and pointing at Jiraiya. Channeling some chakra to his ears in order to hear what the villagers are saying, he is immediately disgusted by some of the things he hears.

"That's Jiraiya-sama. What is he doing with the demon brat in his arms?"

"The brat's eyes are closed. Do you think he's dead? Good riddance if he is."

"Yondaime-sama was Jiraiya-sama's student; maybe he is going to finish his student's job and get rid of the demon."

Starting to glare at the villagers, the whispers take a more furious pace.

"Why is Jiraiya-sama glaring at us? He should be happy the demon is hurt."

"I bet the blasted demon is corrupting the great Jiraiya-sama like he did with Hokage-sama."

"He should get rid of the brat before its taint spreads to him."

Shaking slightly in his anger, he decides to take to the rooftops. If he stayed any longer he might do something that would either put himself or Naruto in danger. Channeling chakra through his legs to move fast he makes a beeline to Naruto's apartment.

Entering the slums near the outskirts of the village he comes upon Naruto's apartment. However, upon arriving he notices it completely trashed with threatening messages spread all over the walls.

His anger rises the more he looks at it! Unconsciously, he starts leaking a small amount of killer intent causing Naruto to whimper in his sleep. Immediately realizing what was happening he pushes his anger away and grips Naruto a little tight in his embrace.

'This is what he goes through every day? How can you still be sane Naruto? There is no way he will be safe here. But, I can't take him with me to see Sarutobi-sensei because of all that will be discussed. I would not dare leave Naruto alone at my hotel either. From those whispers I bet rumors would be spread all over the village in minutes; he might get attacked if I leave him in my hotel room. Where can I take him?'

He thought on the issue for several minutes before coming to a solution. Using the Shunshin no Jutsu (Body Flicker Technique) he leaves in a cloud of smoke to his hotel. Placing him on the bed he puts him in a genjutsu for a dreamless sleep. After this, he goes into the living room he channels a large amount of chakra and performs the hand signs for the Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Summoning Jutsu) and summons Shima, one of the elder toad sages of Mount Myōboku.

When the smoke clears a small yellow and purple toad with curly purple hair holding a rolling pin appears.

"Jiraiya-chan, what are you doing summoning me here? I was right in the middle of making dinner."

Bowing deeply at the waist Jiraiya says in a pleading voice, "I'm sorry Shima-sama but I have a very important request to make of you. Will you please listen?"

Hopping onto the coffee table Shima says, "This sounds serious Jiraiya-chan. Is something wrong?"

Sitting on the floor so Shima can look Jiraiya in the eye, he says with utmost seriousness: "It's about my godson Naruto. Things have gone horribly wrong."

Over the next hour he then proceeds to tell Shima all that has happened today with Naruto, all that Naruto told him, what he plans to do with Naruto, his trip in the village, and the whispers and rumors he suspected were flying around.

"...and that is all that's happened. Please take Naruto with you back to Mount Myōboku while I go and get Naruto's situation sorted. I don't trust the villagers to not try something when he is weak like this. I put him in a sleeping jutsu, and I want him to stay that way for now. He revealed a lot of pain today and it left him exhausted."

Throughout Jiraiya's tale, Shima's face reflected first surprise, then anger and finally sadness and determination.

Nodding her head in agreement with Jiraiya's reasons, "The poor child has seen so much suffering at such a young age. I agree with you about the villagers. Your reasons are valid and even though he has not signed the toad contract you plan on having him do it, so it won't be too much of a problem to take him back with me. I will do it."

Prostrating himself in front of her, he repeatedly bows in gratitude, "Thank you Shima-sama. I won't be long. I'll come back for him tomorrow."

"Don't bow to me like that, Jiraiya-chan. It's all right. Now let's go see the boy."

Hopping onto his shoulder Shima and Jiraiya both head back to the bedroom. Seeing him sleeping so peacefully Shima remarks, "He looks so peaceful. It's hard to believe all that he has suffered."

Sighing, she hops off Jiraiya's shoulder and onto the bed.

"Get this sorted Jiraiya-chan. I don't want to know what Pa and 'Bunta will do if you don't. They loved Minato and to hear how his son was treated will infuriate them."

Touching Naruto's shoulder, Shima and Naruto disappear in a puff of smoke.

After leaving, Jiraiya sits on the bed and sighs.

'To think all of this has happened. I never would have guessed things got this bad. I better go talk to Sarutobi-sensei.'

15 Minutes Later, Hokage's Office

Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Purofessā 'Professor', the Shinobi no Kami 'God of Shinobi', the Sandaime Hokage, had a bad feeling in the pits of his stomach. Things just seemed to be going wrong for him lately and he felt that things were only going to get worse.

Pushing back from his desk full of a mountain of unfinished paperwork, he groaned as he stood up with his old joints popping. Walking out on the balcony and looking over his village, his gaze eventually fell towards the Hokage monument, more specifically, the Yondaime's head. Staring for a few minutes he sighed in sadness.

'I wish you were still here, my friend, sitting in this office and wearing this hat instead of me. I'm getting old, my friend. When I was reinstated after your sacrifice, I never expected things to go so badly. This village is being corrupted. The village council is taking more and more power away from me. Their greed and hatred are ruling them. Your son is not treated as the hero he is. The shinobi side is mostly on his side, but the civilian side is always making trouble. At every meeting with the council, they try to make Naruto's life miserable.'

Thinking back on the last council meeting, things were even worse than usual.

Flashback, Council Meeting

"Hokage-sama, the demon brat is growing too powerful! He passed the preliminaries and is moving onto the finals against Hyuuga Neji. He is showing power that he should not have. The demon is influencing him." one of the civilian council members shouted.

"There is no way the brat should be that strong! The demon is definitely taking over!"

"We need to stop it before it grows too powerful and destroys the village!"

"It's even corrupting his classmates with its demonic powers! Why else would the honorable clan heirs and heiresses be with him."

"It should be banished Hokage-sama. We must be rid of its taint on the village!"




This went on for hours. The shinobi side could not even get in a word. The elders and Danzo were pushing for Naruto to be made a weapon to be controlled. With a growing headache, the Hokage slammed his fist on the table, releases a large amount of killing intent at the civilian council and shouts "ENOUGH!"

"Naruto is a human boy! Not a demon! There will be no killing, banishing, or dropping him from the ninja program! He is growing strong because he trains day and night, not because of his burden influencing him, you bakas!"

The crippled, old war hawk Danzo at this point smirked and remarked, "And what do you have to say about the boy's training in controlling the demon's power Hiruzen? Were you going to tell us about that?"

Hiruzen inwardly cursed Danzo's knowledge about that because he knew he was going to try to use that to his advantage.

The civilian side started muttering at that; however, before things could get out of hand again Danzo raised his hand to halt the tirade.

"I'm sure you all think this is a bad thing and it can be. But, right now it is not. If we can get him under control, he would become Konoha's greatest weapon. Our nation's superiority would be cemented with the Kyūbi's power at our side. Our village would get all the mission requests, thus, bringing in more money. Minor countries wouldn't dare go against us and scramble over each other to gain our favor which will open up trade routes and more for merchants and other wealth to make its way to the village."

Appealing to the greed of the council, the civilians started nodding in agreement and pretty soon they were shouting how he should be given to Danzo as a weapon.

End Flashback!

After the shouting died down it was eventually put to a vote; however, both sides were completely tied. The civilians all voted yes, as well as Danzo. The two elders, who only had one vote and it had to be unanimous or they did not count, voted yes. The shinobi all voted no, with the Hokage using his right of two votes for no, thus deadlocking the issue and causing it to be discarded.

Walking back into the office to stare at the portraits of the previous Hokages, his eyes fell on the Yondaime.

'I can't protect him for much longer, old friend. Today was the closest they ever got to ruining Naruto's life forever. Eventually one of the shinobi will side with the civilians and Naruto's fate will be sealed.'

His musing was interrupted by the arrival of Jiraiya coming in the window.

"Sensei. We have to talk."

If he was surprised due to the icy tone of Jiraiya's voice, he was very surprised to notice how serious Jiraiya looked right now.

Waving Jiraiya into his office he sat down at his desk with his elbows resting on the top with his hands clasped in front of his face.

"Is something wrong, Jiraiya-kun? What has happened?"

Sitting down across from the Sandaime, Jiraiya says, "It's Naruto."

That bad feeling growing he sends out the ANBU in his office and activates the privacy seals. He then asks in a worried voice, "What has happened? Is Naruto-kun okay? Did he get hurt?"

Face contorting in anger he spat out, "No, he's not okay! He's almost as far from okay as you can get!"

Very concerned now the Sandaime asks, "What do you mean?"

Jiraiya then proceeds to tell him everything about the events of today starting from when he met Naruto to having him taken to Mount Myōboku.

All matter of emotions fly across the Sandaime's face as the story goes on and finally settles on deep sadness and weary resignation.

"Don't you see, Sensei? Things are horrible! If I don't do something things will only get worse!"

Sighing deeply, "I'm afraid things are much worse than you know Jiraiya-kun."

Now it's the Sandaime's turn to tell what happened during the council meeting he had with Jiraiya's anger rising as the story progressed until finally he exploded.

Killer intent higher than the Sandaime had felt in years exploded from Jiraiya and washed over the village causing concern among the shinobi and civilians to panic when the angry voice of the gamma sennin rang out.


The voice cut off abruptly when the Sandaime activated the silencing seals in his office.

Inside the office however, the ranting went on getting more and more graphic in describing how Jiraiya was going to murder the council. Eventually his anger ran out and gave way once more to sadness and he collapsed in the chair.

"Jiraiya-kun as much as I might agree with you there is nothing I can do. The council has gained too much power."

Both men lapse into silence thinking on how they can try to fix this. Eventually Jiraiya came up with an idea.

"I can take Naruto as my apprentice."

"What will that do Jiraiya? I thought you already planned on doing that?"

"That's not what I was talking about, Sensei. I mean I will take Naruto as my full-time apprentice and name him as my successor. Doing so will make me his guardian, grant him some privileges like the Sannin traveling rights that will allow him to come and go as he pleases with no repercussions, and provide him political protection when it is publicly announced. Plus, the council can't stop it because of my rights as a Sannin. A Sannin answers only to the Hokage, not the greedy bastards on the council."

The Sandaime thought it over thoroughly, lighting up his pipe while weighing the pros and cons of the decision, before finally agreeing.

"It seems like that is our only choice. However, do you understand the repercussions this will have? Publicly acknowledging this will make Naruto many enemies both in and out of the village. The council is going to be furious; they will try anything to stop Naruto from leaving. They might even go after those he cares about."

Jiraiya was nodding throughout this then said, "I will talk with Naruto later, find out who it is that he cares for, and then find a way to discretely warn them. They will not be caught in the crossfire of this without knowing what could happen."

"That is a good idea Jiraiya. However, there is one thing wrong here. Naruto-kun's classmates do not know about his tenant. You can be sure those who go after them will try to use that to their advantage."

"I thought of that and I have an idea, but you aren't going to like it."

"We may not have a choice. What are you thinking?"

"I want you to remove the law that prevents the older generation from talking about Naruto's burden."

The Sandaime almost dropped his pipe in shock. "Jiraiya are you insane? That is the only thing allowing Naruto a peaceful life in the village! If I do this, the older generation will poison the younger with lies and turn the rest of the village against him!"

"I know that; but I have a plan to help prevent some of that. Besides Naruto does not have a peaceful life in the village anyway! I'll bet I haven't heard even half of what has happened with Naruto growing up and what I have makes me want to beat the villagers to a pulp!"

Wearily, the Sandaime says, "Your right. I've tried my best over the years to help him, but I'm blocked at every turn. What is your plan?"

"I won't be able to prevent everybody from hating him but I can at least try to save his friends. I know there is another jinchūriki in the finals. I want you to talk to Naruto's classmates' senesies under the guise of advice about jinchūriki due to one being in the finals. You will hint to them that something big is going down soon and that Naruto's burden will soon become public knowledge. You will talk about how they are treated, what their life is like, the beatings, the glares, prejudice, hatred, the power they can wield, enough to paint a picture about how a jinchūriki is only a container not what they contain. You will then instruct them to repeat what you have said to their students. This gives them a valid reason to talk about jinchūriki if confronted about it because the council was warned about Gaara being one of the containers. Therefore, they will have to accept the reason even if they don't believe it."

Realization dawned. "So when Naruto being a jinchūriki is public knowledge, they will already have a clear opinion free of lies on the subject. Plus, knowing what Naruto's life was like due to his burden will prevent them from being swayed by the lies they might be told because the trust in the older generation will be shaken when the children realize what Naruto had to go through because of them, causing them to not believe the lies and side with Naruto. In turn, this will keep Naruto happy because he knows at least part of the village accepts him for his burden."

Both men grinning now, "Jiraiya-kun, that's brilliant! That would work very well."

"You know me, Sensei, always getting out of tight spots."

"What are you going to do in the meantime?"

"I'm going to train Naruto. I'm going to teach him as much as I can in the month period so that when the finals come around the village will be blown away. I also plan to take him away from the village after the finals are over and he is promoted. That reminds me, I need Naruto's inheritance because I plan to inform Naruto about his mother during the break and then his father after we leave. Keeping him in the dark when he was desperate for one bright spot in his life was the wrong thing to do."

Nodding in agreement, the Sandaime stands up and walks over to the Yondaime's portrait. Pulling it away from the wall he reveals a seal. Biting his thumb and swiping it over the seal, it glows slightly and fades away revealing a safe hidden in the wall. Motioning Jiraiya over who bites his thumb and swipes it over the safe causing it to unlock and open revealing two large scrolls, one wrapped in a red ribbon with the Uzumaki clan symbol on it and the other wrapped in a yellow ribbon with the Namikaze clan symbol.

The Sandaime takes them and gives them to Jiraiya with some parting words, "Keep him safe Jiraiya-kun. I care about that boy like he was my own grandson. Help him find his Will of Fire. Also, ask him to forgive an old man for his mistakes."

Accepting them, Jiraiya replies, "I will, Sensei, and don't worry. He will forgive you. You are his 'jiji' after all."

Watching Jiraiya leap out the window Sarutobi sighs.

'I hope he does Jiraiya. But after he finds out all that I've hidden from him he may never forgive me.'

And there it is. The first chapter of my first story. Is it okay so far? I've got the next two chapters done and in the process of being edited, so expect them soon. I don't really have a set time or schedule for uploads as I have not got very far in my planning. College is starting up again soon and I don't know what my schedule is going to be like. Ja ne.

EDIT: 7/23/2013 11:30 PM - Minor spelling and punctuation. Some rephrasing.

EDIT: 7/27/2013 12:25 AM - Altered the formatting of thoughts to accommodate reader's request.