AN: hi all, I am so sorry. See? I am hanging my head with shame … and pouting, don't forget the pouting. I have no excuse, except for excessive laziness. But I'm back now so all good. Right? … Right?

Okay so it got to the point that some of you started to nag, sorry it won't happen again.

A quick shout out to gardien1204, serena24, betty4794 and goku90504 for getting me off my butt and goku90504, I will get to those changes soon thank you again for pointing out my mistakes.

This chapter has a lot of talking and not much action, but that's going to be a theme for the next few chapters so you might as well get used to it.

If you don't want to reread the last chapter to get you up to date: From where we last left off, Kakashi-sensei has just defeated Zabuza whose body has been taken away by a supposed Hunter-nin, after which Kakashi loses consciousness due to excessive use of the Sharingan resulting in his Genin team having to carry him the rest of the way to Tazuna's house. The last scene showed that the Hunter-nin was actually working in conjunction with Zabuza who has since sworn vengeance on Kakashi. Dun, dun, duuuuuun…

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto; but I do own a rather large anime and manga collection and a perpetually maxed out credit card.

Warning: May contain spoilers and/or clichés, if you are bothered or offended by either; why are you reading fanfiction?





"demon speak"

Chapter 18.

According to the Shinobi Code, paragraph sixteen subsection four, in the case of the incapacitation of a superior officer for a period of more than twenty-four hours then a mandatory request for assistance must be sent as soon as the remaining squad has reached a position of security, especially if the squad consists of Genin ranked Shinobi.

After the altercation with Zabuza the first time around Kakashi-sensei did not regain consciousness for over a day. It had taken the team over four hours to lug their comatose teacher to Tazuna's home and it had then taken until well into the following afternoon for him to even begin to stir. Even after consuming a soldier pill upon awakening it had taken a further day for Kakashi to feel well enough he continue the Genin's training.

Of course the first thing he asked about after realising that the Zabuza threat was in fact still viable, was the possibility of reinforcements. Naruto, a product of a sabotaged education system, did not know that they were even supposed to have sent for help. Sakura, still lost in her fan girl stage, had deferred to Sasuke and Sasuke, delusional about his own abilities and not wanting to have his 'glory' stolen from him, lied about sending a message to Konoha. Kakashi at this point had no reason to doubt the word of his Genin and so when help did not eventually arrive, he put it down to the message being intercepted before it could reach the village.

This time around Naruto was impatient to begin training as it would be the first jutsu based training they would receive from their teacher and he also wanted to get Sakura and Sasuke up to speed quicker to give them a better chance against Haku if his plans fell through and it actually came to a fight again. So he decided to share his Chakra with his teacher in the hope of speeding up his recovery enough that he could awaken earlier, much like how he shared his chakra with Lady Chiyo when she was trying to revive Gaara, and in so doing Naruto almost ruined his own plans for dealing with Zabuza and Haku.

For when Kakashi awoke, his first order of business upon gaining control of his feet was to send off his own request for reinforcements via the Wave Village's messenger bird service. Ironically this message was intercepted some two miles outside of the village by a senbon needle, making the Wave Mission in both timelines the mission in which Kakashi would vow to send all messages pertaining to the safety of his team via his summoned animals only.

Naruto was surprised at how much it actually hurt to see the young boy like that. At how much it hurt to see his red, swollen eyes surrounded by shadows, only highlighted by his pale little face, his small frame weakened by sorrow. It hurt to remember the smiling young man, working side-by-side with his equally happy grandfather, as he had last seen the young boy, so many years ago in the future.

It hurt even more to realise that there was nothing he could do about it, not yet anyway. Inari was not yet ready to hear what Naruto had to say, he hadn't seen Naruto's strength and force of will, Inari did not know him well enough yet to listen. Just like with Neji, Naruto knew he would have to wait until the right time, but soon…

Naruto smiled sadly as he watch the emotionally charged young boy stumble his way up the stairs, before he turned back to face the awkward silence that had enveloped the dining table following Inari's outburst only moments before, an outburst they had witnessed twice before even though it was only their first night in this home. He shared an understanding smile with the old drunk slumped over at the head of the table and then turned to continue the impromptu Fuinjutsu lesson with his sensei that the boy had interrupted.

"So," began Kakashi-sensei with a clearing of his throat, "You were saying Naruto?"

"Hai, so I calibrated the matrixes of the sensing seals to feed off of each other to conserve chakra usage and then tied them into the seal above the door over there," explained Naruto pointing to his left as he used the diagrams drawn on the papers before the pair to illustrate what he meant, "Which will light up should anyone approach the house. Of course you, Sasuke or I should be able to sense the flare of chakra the seals will give of when they sense an intruder so we will know from which direction they are approaching from, but the seal above the door will give Tazuna-san and his family time to seek a safe place."

"Hmmm, well done Naruto. You said Sasuke, you and I should be able to sense the chakra spikes. What about Sakura?" asked his Sensei, there was a pause in the sound of steel against steel as Sasuke, who was sharpening a kunai at the other end of the table, stopped to listen in on Naruto's answer.

"Well, I sort of guessed that Sasuke might sense it, he is an Uchiha and they are known to have natural sensing abilities, and you're a Jonin and you have to have some kind of a chakra sensing ability to reach that level at least. But I don't know if Sakura has developed that ability yet." answered Naruto as logically as he could, "Hold on a sec and I'll check. Yo Sakura!" he called out.

"Yes?" replied Sakura as she walked into the room carrying a large bowl containing the salad she had just helped Tsunami, Tazuna's daughter, make in the kitchen.

"Can you feel this?" he asked flaring his chakra as he did so.

"Feel what?" asked Sakura with a puzzled look.

"See?" said Naruto turning to his teacher.

"What?" asked Sakura slightly annoyed now.

"Hmm I do see." mused Kakashi as he stroked his chin in thought.

"What do you see?" half screeched Sakura as she raised the large bowl above her head as if getting ready to chuck it over Naruto's head.

"Maa, maa, calm down Sakura," instructed her Jonin instructor making calming motions with his hands, "Naruto was just checking your charka sensing abilities. Obviously this is something we will need to work on with your training."

"As well as her temper," murmured Naruto almost inaudibly as he watched the young girl gently place the salad bowl on the table with a slight blush and a sideways glance towards Tsunami who had come into the room behind her. Sasuke snorted.

"Why would Naruto-baka need to test my chakra sensing abilities anyway?" asked Sakura petulantly as she sat down, obviously Naruto's murmur wasn't as inaudible as he thought.

"Ah, Naruto was just explaining the early detection array he has set up around the house and the topic just came up." explained Kakashi as he helped himself to the food laid out on the table.

"Detection array?" asked Tsunami softly from her place beside Sakura.

"Yeah," enthused Naruto as he cleared away his papers so he could get at the food offered, "While Kakashi-sensei was recovering I set up a seal system around the house to detect any intruders. I placed twelve seals about twenty metres from the house in all directions. If anyone gets too close that seal over the door will light up," he explained with the appropriate gestures, "If that happens you should make sure Inari and you guys are either near one of us or you should lock yourself up in the house to stay safe until we give you the all clear."

Tsunami smiled gratefully at the young ninja for thinking about her family's safety.

"Why only a detection array? Why didn't you make a barrier like the one you used during the fight yesterday?" asked Sakura puzzled.

"Oh I can answer that Sakura," butted in Kakashi helpfully, "You see barrier seals like the one Naruto used during the fight are very chakra intensive, meaning that to keep a barrier up for any extended period of time it would drain Naruto to the point where he would be ineffective should a fight occur. Also the barrier that Naruto used is actually not that strong, being only a D-rank Fuinjutsu. It could probably stand up to one or two Chunin strength hits but not much else."

"Yeah that seals not really meant for long term use and I don't know any stronger ones yet so the detection array was really the next best option," agreed Naruto cheerfully as he began to stuff his face.

A comfortable silence filled the room as the sounds of eating replaced the need to talk but before long Sakura began to squirm in her seat and cast furtive looks at her blonde teammate. Naruto put down his chopsticks before sighing and asking, "What is it Sakura?"

"Ano," Sakura began hesitantly, "I've been meaning to ask for a while but what does Kakashi-sensei mean when he says you are a level one journeyman in Fuinjutsu?"

"Huh, I thought Sasuke would be the first one to ask that," said Naruto with a sideways look at his dark haired teammate who had also put down his chopsticks so he could listen to the answer, "To answer your question Sakura," he said turning back to look into her eyes, "It's just like what it sounds like, I am a level one journeyman in Fuinjutsu. That means I have past the first stage of the art."

"It's like this Sakura," interjected Kakashi-sensei with an exasperated look at Naruto, when it became obvious that the boy wasn't going to be more forth coming in his answer, "The study of Fuinjutsu is made up of many stages the first of course being the beginner stage which is primarily concerned with the study of Fuinjutsu theory. Such as learning the various sealing symbols and their meanings, the various sealing matrixes and so on."

"You also have to learn the three basic seals, a basic explosive seal, containment seal and barrier seal, this shows your understanding of the theory and that you are capable of producing a seal of a quality where it will actually work. A bit like the Academy Three that we learnt before we could become Genin." explained Naruto around a mouthful of food.

"Thank you Naruto, but please swallow first before speaking," admonished Kakashi-sensei before he took over the explanation again, "After Naruto had completed this stage, which involved memorising over thirty Fuinjutsu theory books, he was tested by a superior Fuinjutsu practitioner, in this case the Hokage, before being awarded the status of level one journeyman. There are exactly five Journeyman levels, in which Naruto will have to complete a certain number of training books and scrolls and learn a specific number of seals off by heart. This all must be done under the strict supervision of his Fuinjutsu instructor, in this case myself, as the seals that he will be learning can be highly destructive if not completed correctly." Here he paused to send a stern look towards his blonde student who returned it with an innocent air, "After he passes these stages he will be considered an Adept, a status which I also hold."

"Adepts are trusted to practice without supervision and they can also sell their seals for use by others. But these are only seals that have already been developed by other people. Adepts can alter seals but they cannot create their own, that's the responsibility of Fuinjutsu Masters, which is the final stage of the art." further explained Naruto, giving Kakashi a chance to finish his meal.

"It sounds like quite a task you set yourself young man," commented Tazuna from the head of the table, "Why'd you take it up anyway? From your explanation it sounds like something not many ninja pursue."

"Ah well," began Naruto sheepishly as he raised an arm to rub the back of his neck, "It started out as a way to honour the heroes of my childhood, Hokage-jiji, the Fourth and his teacher Jiraiya," 'and mine' "It was also a way to honour my family as the Uzumaki were well known for their Fuinjutsu skills, well according to the history books anyway," Naruto amended after seeing his teacher's narrowing gaze, "and most of all it's fun and kind of bad ass." finished the irrepressible blonde with a grin.

"Ha, ha," laughed Tazuna, taking a swig from the bottle in his hand and rocking back in his chair, "Well those sound like good enough reasons to me."

"Me too," agreed the Genin's silver haired instructor as he stood and ruffled the blonde's spiky hair with one hand before turning to his other two students, "All right finish up and head off to bed. We will start training early tomorrow morning."

"Hai Kakashi-sensei," chorused his team as they too stood up and began to clear the table.

"Thank you for the meal Tsunami-san," he said to the still seated young woman with a slight bow before he turned to grab the crutches leaning against the back of his chair.

"Think nothing of it," assured Tsunami as she too stood up, "and thank you again for getting this old codger home safe." She continued with a grateful smile and a playful swot at the back of her father's head.

"No respect in my own home," grumbled the old man just as playfully, "No respect."

Bright and early the next morning, almost too bright and early for some, Kakashi lead his team out into the forest behind the house for some much needed training.

"So as I was saying, even though we don't have much time until Zabuza's possible recovery whatever skills we can sharpen during this time will not go to waste. After all even if you only improve your skills by one percent that is still one present more of a chance that you will defeat your opponent than you had before." Kakashi explained with an eye smile to his cute little Genin, oh was he going to enjoy this. "You will learn how to control your body and to balance your chakra effectively through the harshest of training… you will go out on a limb and learn from the experience!"

"So how exactly will we be doing that?" asked Sakura with a concerned frown.

"How?" mused Kakashi secretively before learning forward to stare into their eyes, "We climb trees!"

"Climb trees?!" questioned Sakura with a shriek not noticing that her two teammates weren't that surprised.

"Your sensei is a bit dramatic isn't he?"

'Um yeah, you could say that,' Naruto answered his tenant silently and with some embarrassment on the part of his teacher.

'The Tree Climbing exercise heh,' mused Sasuke contentedly with a sidelong look at his rival, 'Finally something I'll be better at than the Dobe. Mother taught me this the weekend after we graduated as a congratulations on passing gift. She said that most Clan households do so, that means Sakura and Naruto shouldn't know this yet because she comes from a civilian home and the Dobe's an orphan, they wouldn't have had anyone to teach them.'

"Listen up you three," called Kakashi-sensei to gain their wandering attention, "This won't be any ordinary tree climbing. You're not allowed to use your hands."

"How?" asked Sakura, the only one really paying attention.

"Watch and learn," Kakashi answered calmly as he made the Ram seal with his hands and then just as coolly walked up the side of a nearby tree, crutches and all, just as though he was walking along the ground.

'You must admit it's pretty impressive how he's passing chakra through the crutches like that,' Naruto commented internally, 'I didn't really notice the first time but that does take a lot of skill. Though it is a little foolish as he is still recovering from chakra exhaustion.'

"That's it in a nutshell," Kakashi called down to his students from his position, suspended upside down under a tree branch, his eyes closed as he smiled, "Focus all of the energy of your chakra toward the soles of your feet and use that power to cling to the trunk. Don't use too much as you will damage the tree and try not to use too little as you will fall."

"Like this?" came the stoic voice of his darkest student from the same level one tree over, causing Kakashi's eyes to open quickly in astonishment as he turned to catch Sasuke hanging casually from a branch.

"And this?" asked Naruto from a tree not too far from the pair.

"Tch," grumped Sasuke testily as he folded his arms petulantly and looked away. The Dobe had done it again.

"What!?" yelped Sakura from the ground, "How are you guys doing that?"

"Yes, how are you doing that?" asked Kakashi a bit upset that his fun had been curtailed somewhat, he had been looking forward to watching as the Genin struggled to learn the new skill.

"I learnt how after graduating," replied Sasuke who looked only at his teacher.

"I taught myself when I was six," chirped Naruto as he casually rested both hands on the back of his head and idly sung backwards and forwards on his feet as though he was not hanging upside down some ten metres above the ground.

"What, what, what!?" screeched Sakura incredulously as Sasuke almost fell out of the tree.

"Oh right," remembered Kakashi-sensei as he thumped a fist in his other hand, "Gecko-san?"

"Yeah Gecko-san." Naruto agreed.

"Who or what is Gecko-san Dobe?" Sasuke asked in a monotone.

"Well BB, Gecko-san was a gecko that lived in my apartment when I was six. I thought it was pretty cool how he could climb walls so I taught myself how to do it. Turns out that was the tree walking exercise." Naruto replied, lying through his teeth, 'Oh man this is so good. Do you see the looks on their faces! Ha, ha, ha, thank goodness I didn't show off at the Academy this was so worth it.'

"Told you so, this has got to be your best prank yet."

'I know, right!?'

"Well I guess this means that we'll just have to get Sakura caught up before we learn anything else. Here," Kakashi-sensei called down as he threw a kunai to land at the young kunoichi's feet, "Use this to mark your progress. Just score the bark at the highest point you can climb to. Your goal will be to make it higher than that mark every time you climb. A running start will probably give you enough momentum for a good first effort, but don't be discouraged if you don't make it on the first try."

"What should we do Kakashi-sensei?" asked Naruto standing to attention.

"You and Sasuke can run laps up and down the trees until Sakura picks it up. This training is for Chakra control after all so the more you do it the better your control will become. Don't worry, Sakura's reserves aren't that large so it shouldn't take her too long to master and so you won't get bored I'll think up something to make it more interesting," Kakashi instructed his remaining team who both paled as they saw his hands stray to his shuriken pouch on the last sentence, "Well what are you waiting for? Get moving!" He called out and the two boys jumped away just before two shuriken took their places. "Ah, teaching is so rewarding." chuckled Kakashi as he too jumped away.

Far below a morose young child clenched his fists before turning away, 'They're just wasting their time. There is no such thing as heroes.' A lone tear slipped down his face as the image of his smiling Father came to him, 'There never was.'

AN: A little short I know, but the next bit is a little emotionally charged and is taking me a while to get it right and because I am feeling guilty about not updating for a while I decided to post this bit anyway. Please expect the next instalment next weekend. (See I made a promise there so now I have to keep it.)