Chapter Twenty Five
All three of his students had come out of the forest almost completely whole. All three had participated in the preliminaries of the Third Stage of Chuunin exams. Only two had managed to qualify for the third stage.
Itachi couldn't help but smile at that as he looked at all three of his students. All three currently fast asleep in the one hospital room reserved for teams. Each were covered in bandages, Sakura having to have a breathing tube at the moment and multiple wires and tubes to help monitor and heal from the damage that the Hyuga had caused.
He'd have to go and talk to Hisashi about holding back against allies and other Leaf Ninja. A Genin of Konoha should have never been this badly hurt just because a prodigy wanted to show off at a preliminary battle.
He sighed before looking at Sasuke, who's leg was elevated so that the swelling around the stab wound would go down quicker and a few bandages on his face and his arms and torso. Not anything too bad to him at least.
Naruto was the last and he was completely wrapped up in bandages again. His arms, face, legs, chest, and even his fingers. The kid had fought with everything his had to make sure his teammates would make it and then to make sure that he would make it into the third stage. Hopefully he would be healed enough that he would be able to participate but if he wasn't, Itachi would pull him and force him to sit it out.
Healing and getting back to a hundred percent was more important than a promotion and possible early retirement because of a permanent injury.
He smiled at them all one more time before leaving the room. He would let them all rest and heal up before he shuffled them off with new teachers. Sakura would be the last to leave due to the severity of her injuries. It would look like a couple weeks in the hospital and then a few months off of duty before she could even be given light work to do and light training. That was okay, Itachi would help her where he could with the theory of jutsus and medical information. Rin and maybe a few others in the hospital would be helpful there as well.
He had already gotten a teacher for Sasuke. It was Itachi's own Sensei, Sakumo, who specialized in sword styles or kenjutsu, but also in Lightning jutsu. He figured that the old man could teach his younger brother to control lightning using a blade of some sort, though he wasn't sure how his brother would take this arrangement.
Naruto…well…Itachi hadn't found him his teacher. His teacher had found Itachi….outside of the Uchiha woman's bathhouse.
That pervert had been sent flying before he had gotten a word out of his damned mouth and then dragged to Itachi's office to be told off. He knew that the old fool could be reckless but he hadn't realized that he was that reckless and suicidal.
The Head of the Uchiha sighed and rubbed at his face, wondering if exposing Naruto to that old fool was a good idea or not. He knew Sarutobi was ecstatic to have one of his students back but…well…the women in Konoha sure weren't.
Itachi sent one last look at all of his students before leaving the room to go and start the paperwork for his students' temporary teachers. Hopefully this wouldn't blow up in his face like he felt like it would.
"Mikoto?" Naruto called as he looked around the house, wondering where the mother could have gone. "Mikoto? Where are you?" He called again as he wondered off into the kitchen, hoping to maybe smell the cooking from the woman.
He had missed her cooking while he had been stuck in the hospital for the last few days. He was the first of Team 7 to be released, not too surprising due to the discrimination he went through all the time. Not even doctors wanted to deal with him despite all the money that the Hokage paid to keep him healthy when he was in the hospital.
He had come back to the Uchiha compound mostly because that was where he had been welcomed by his sensei, teammates, and the mother of the household. That and his apartment was still a complete mess and was only just starting to get any new construction done to it. It would be a whole year before it was rebuilt and he already knew that the old man wasn't looking for other apartments for him to use in the meantime.
'Probably because no one wants me in them.' He thought to himself as he frowned at the empty kitchen. Mikoto wasn't there and it looked as if no one had actually used the kitchen in some time. A light layer of dust was on the counters and the table.
"Mikoto?" He called again as he walked out into the living room, taking in the light layers of dust all over the place. Which was strange because he knew that Mikoto was pretty anal about keeping things neat and tidy looking, something dust normally destroyed. He wondered if she had gone out on a trip or something, though he didn't remember Itachi or her mentioning any sort of trip. "I wonder where she could have disappeared to." He mumbled as he walked around the house, taking in the dust that layered everything.
It looked as if the house had been abandoned. It didn't even look like Itachi had been in the house in sometime, though he thought that his sensei might have mentioned something about having his own place for the time. He knew that he and his father hadn't been on the best of terms since that huge fight a while back, but he thought it would be a while before he actually moved out.
So he was understandably confused at the place. He knew Sasuke wasn't going to be back into the house for a while and that'll only be for a bit before he was going to be whisked off for training. Itachi had told all three of them about that since they had woken up around the same time.
Naruto and Sasuke would be taken to train within the week by new sensei's that would teach them what they needed for the third stage of the Chuunin exam. Sakura, who would be stuck in the hospital for another couple of weeks and would only just be released before the third exam, would be trained theoretically while on bed rest and then light training afterwards.
Or so that's what Itachi-Sensei had explained when he had come to see them the other day with a smile on his face. Naruto wasn't sure what he had been smiling about but apparently it had something to do with the teachers he had found for Sasuke and Naruto.
The blonde shook his head as he walked back upstairs and into his room with Sasuke, looking down at the pile of pillows and blankets he had gathered. He thought about sitting down on them but shook his head and walked out of the room and into Itachi's room, blinking at the emptiness that was there. The bed and shelves were there but they were bare. Apparently he had been right and Itachi had moved out.
He frowned as he walked out of the room and down the hall to where Mikoto and Fugaku's room was. He paused right outside, wondering if he really should enter before shaking his head.
He was sure Mikoto wouldn't mind if she was in there, but he'd knock anyways, just like Itachi had told him to do after Naruto had walked in on him changing into his pajamas one night. So he knocked. "Mikoto?" He called out, wondering if she'd answer.
Only there wasn't an answer. He tried the doorknob and found it open, so he entered the room.
Just like everything else, there was dust covering everything in the room. It didn't even look like Fugaku had slept here. The curtains were pulled shut so the room was dark and all seemed unnaturally silent.
There was a stench permeating the entire room, a stench that Naruto knew but couldn't place as it wasn't exactly strong at the moment but he knew it would grow the longer it was there. His mind buzzed at it, trying to place where he had smelled it before and why he had.
There was a lump on the bed though, directly underneath the blankets with a head resting on the pillows. "Mikoto?" He called, knowing it was her. It had to be because no one else was in the house. He knew this because Itachi had apparently moved out, Sasuke was in the hospital, and he had seen Fugaku walking in the streets of the Uchiha district earlier. "Mikoto, why didn't you answer?" He questioned as he walked over to the bed.
He saw her long dark hair splayed out beneath her and flowing over the top of the pillows. Her face was a grey color, ashy almost he would say. There was dark circles beneath her eyes and her cheeks were sunken in. As if she hadn't slept in years or eaten in just as long. He wondered what was wrong with her.
"Mikoto?" He called as he reached out to touch her shoulder or cheek.
Only to gasp as a hand slammed onto his shoulder and whipped him around. He was going to yell and fight against the tight hold that was now around his neck and escape. He was going to run for Itachi and tell him something was wrong with his mother and that someone had tried to stop him from checking on her.
Only that all flew from his mind when red eyes with the design of a bursting star stared down at him, spinning rapidly.
Naruto woke up in his pillow bed the next morning, yawning and wondering what Itachi had planned for him and the others that day.
"Sasuke, glad to finally have you out of the hospital." Itachi said as he looked at his little brother, taking in the minimal bandages left on the boy. He turned to Naruto and raised a brow at the tired and dazed look the boy had. "You are looking better as well Naruto. Mother must be taking great care of you."
"Yeah, she has been." He agreed easily with a yawn, almost tipping forward but catching himself just in time. "So, who have you got for us?" He questioned in the end, bright blue eyes shining as he looked up at his sensei. "You said there would be someone to train us for the tournament at the end of the month."
"Yes, that's right. I've found teachers for the both of you. I got two for you Sasuke and one for you Naruto."
"Why does the Teme get two teachers?" Naruto pouted and crossed his arms, glaring up at the other man in trepidation of the answer. He knew he could be paranoid sometimes but he couldn't help it.
Itachi sighed as he looked down at the blonde. "Because the one is going to help him with his Sharingan while helping Kakashi and the other is my old Sensei, Hatake Sakumo, who'll teach him how to wield a sword."
Sasuke nodded his head, eager to learn the art of the blade, something he had been bugging Itachi about for some time now. "When's he going to get here?" He questioned, hopping it wouldn't be too long.
"Hopefully soon. He's normally on time but I think Shisui might be making him a little late." He glared off into the distance, knowing his friend and cousin was always causing trouble in some form or another. "As for you Naruto, you get the one because he requested to teach you. I know why he did and I don't particularly care for him, but the Hokage has approved of the request and I'll be taking you to him after Sakumo-sensei and Shisui get here." He rolled his eyes already knowing where he would find the older man at.
"Which we are." Sakumo said cheerfully as he appeared behind Itachi with a wave. He was taller than the raven, standing at just over six feet with his long gray hair tied in a ponytail. He wore the standard Jounin uniform and fest but there was a short sleeve that was white with flames emblazoned along the edge. His forehead protector was positioned on his forehead perfectly while his onyx eyes shined confidently. He had a short sword strapped to his lower back, ready to draw.
Shisui looked like crap though as he stood next to the Jounin, wearing Anbu gear but without the white armor and gloves. He had his forehead protector around his neck and allowed his wild spiky hair to fly all over the place. "Yeah, yeah, we're here." He yawned and shook his head, as if trying to wake himself. "So let's get the brat and get moving. We only have a few weeks to train him since he took forever to heal after the preliminaries."
Sakumo nodded his head in agreement as he walked over to Sasuke and grabbed him around the waist and hoisted him up onto his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "I got him." He said before waving at Itachi. "We'll let you know if we've killed him or not in a few days."
"Wait! What!" Sasuke screeched as he fought against the older ninja's hold with wide eyes, looking back at Itachi pleadingly. Itachi could only wave and smile as the three disappeared in a swirl of leaves.
"Now that they're gone. We can head on out and meet up with your own teacher." Itachi said as he turned back to Naruto, frowning at the glazed look in the boy's eyes. "Naruto?" He questioned as he snapped a finger in front of the boy's face.
Only to blink in surprise when the boy jumped backwards and away from him, eyes wide with terror and anger. "Don't do that!" The boy spat at him, his hair standing up on end as if they were hackles on a dog.
"Okay, sorry, just calm down." Itachi said as he held his hands up to calm the boy down. "Are you okay? You're acting a little strange." He watched with narrowed eyes as the boy shook his head, rubbed his eyes, and then looked up at him with dull blue eyes and a bright smile.
"I'm fine. Come on! I want to meet my new teacher? Where is he?" The blonde was almost bouncing now and the color of his eyes lightened as he spoke of the teacher. "Do you know what he's going to teach me?"
Itachi smiled at that and shook his head. Maybe the blonde was just still tired from all the healing he had been doing. Despite the lack of bandages now, the blonde still had scabs from cuts and burns from the incident. They weren't scarring though so Itachi supposed that was an advantage of having a demon in one's stomach. "I don't know what he'll teach you, but I know it'll be tough. He's a hands on teacher, he doesn't explain, so it'll be sink or swim the entire time." He warned.
Naruto just grinned in excitement. "Sounds like my kinda teacher."
"Alright, let's get going then." Itachi quickly turned and moved up into the trees. He knew exactly where that man would be as well. "Keep up, I'm going to keep going without a break."
"Right behind ya!" The blonde yelled back. Itachi looked over his shoulder and smiled at the form of the blonde leaping from branch to branch like a monkey. The boy was moving quickly, much more than he was the other day. He really was healing for real this time.
He smiled as he looked back to the front. This boy would go places as long as he was trained better. Who knows, he could very well be a Hokage one day like he so dearly wished to be.
He shook his head a moment later as he returned his focus back to finding that lecher. He started towards the most popular hot springs. "So, what is this guy like?" Naruto questioned as he leapt so that he was right next to his sensei, a look of pure curiosity on his face
Itachi hummed in thought at the best way to explain, but in the end he shrugged his shoulders in defeat. "He's a powerful sage, in fact he's part of the Legendary Sanin."
He huffed a laugh at this. He should've known that the blonde wouldn't know about them. "They're the three strongest ninja of Konoha. They fought against Hanzo the Salamander of the Second Shinobi War. He was a powerful enemy and was the leader of the Rain village, Amegakure. They fought against him and won and he gave them that title." He smirked as he remembered all three members.
"Whoa, they must be super strong to defeat a leader of a village." Naruto said with stars in his eyes. "And one of them are going to teach me?"
The Sensei nodded. "Yes, Jiraiya the Toad Sage. He specializes in Taijutsu and the Summoning arts, Kuchiyose no Jutsu." He began as he came back to the town and looked over the area.
"Wait…toad sage? Toads? He can summon toads!" Naruto exclaimed in pure joy. True, toads weren't as cool as snakes or foxes, both of which he had a fondness for, but they were always fun. He had always enjoyed catching them and playing with them when he was a kid. He, Kiba, Shikamaru, and Choji would always have races by catching toads. They would build a racetrack from rocks and sticks and then encourage the toads with little pokes or he would catch a bug to lead his own to the finish line. It was always exciting and he made sure that his toads were released with a full stomach. "That's so cool!"
"I see that you have a love for toads." Itachi couldn't help but chuckle at that since he knew several people who wouldn't be as excited about toads. "Though keep in mind that there is a way for you to have multiple summoning contacts. Hopefully he'll be able to help you there as well."
"I could have more than one! That's so cool! Does that mean I could summon snakes or foxes!?" To have all three of his favorite animals come and play with him and keep him company would be great.
Though Itachi frowned at the animal choices. Snakes belonged to the control of Orochimaru, the Snake Sanin. The snakes were rather ferocious and cunning, not wishing to be controlled by anyone at all in any form. That was why the worked with Orochimaru as the man had no desire to control but coexist with them instead.
The foxes…Itachi would have thought that the boy would stay away from those creatures but it was obviously wrong. He seemed to have a like for them instead, maybe because of the fox hunts that occurred in the past that involved the younger blonde being hunted as well.
Or maybe an influence from the Nine Tails instead?
"Yeah, that'd be so cool!" Naruto decided as they stopped on top of the roof of a building. "So where is he?" He looked all around, as if he could see the man from where he was, even though he didn't know what Jiraiya looked like. "Where is he sensei?" He questioned once more as he looked up at the man with furrowed brows.
Itachi looked down at him for a moment before a smile fell to his lips. "Do you see the bathhouse there?" He questioned as he pointed to said bathhouse where he could hear the chattering of women and men alike. Along with the splashing of bathing as well.
Naruto looked and nodded his head in confusion. "That's the most popular hot springs of the Leaf Village. The Akamichi bathhouse." Though the Akamichi clan was normally a clan of cooks, this bathhouse was created by them using their knowledge of herbs. It made the springs soothing and calm and helped regenerate one's chakra and strength. It was also used by women to reduce wrinkles and dark spots.
"That's right. Now, can you spot a man with long spiky white hair and a red hakama? He'll be along the outside of the woman's bath houses."
The blonde's eyes narrowed at that as the insinuation sunk into his mind. "He's a pervert." He growled in anger. His blue eyes went into search of the man, keeping them peeled for said characteristics.
Itachi blinked at the growling anger the blonde spoke with. He had known that the other had a certain hatred for perverts but he hadn't bothered to find out why, as it hardly ever made an appearance in the first place.
Though the pranks that blonde had played on perverts in the past had always been hilarious. That one time a bunch of them had been covered in orange and pink paint as they had watched several women changed in the changing rooms for kunoichi. All the ninja had gotten a laugh at that. Even Sarutobi had laughed heartily when the perpetrators had been dragged to his office for judgement and punishment. He had allowed them to leave with only a fine to pay.
Now he felt that the Sanin was about to get a taste of that justice. He smirked at the thought as he watched the blonde move from his side and towards the walls of the bathhouse. He blinked and the blonde was gone from sight. This was the fable ability of the orange ninja to disappear at his choosing. Not even an Anbu could catch him as the pranks all over the village had proved.
If he wanted the blonde caught, he'd have to go and find Iruka to do it. How the Chuunin could do what specialized tracking ninja couldn't was beyond him.
His eyes rove along the bathhouse, ignoring the vivacious bodies within the steam, trying to locate the blonde. He even activated his Sharingan to see if he could locate the blonde, but he couldn't. He couldn't find the blonde even as his eyes landed on the familiar form of white spiky hair.
'Ah, seems I was right.' He thought as he watched the figure fidget and an arm move towards the facial area. Most likely wiping blood from just under his nose. 'Though I wish I wasn't just to save those women in the bathhouse from such a disgusting individual.' He sneered at the older ninja. How was he supposed to respect the other when he was nothing more than a pervert, willing to pervade the privacy of another individual?
Well, from what he knew of the blonde, retribution was about to be paid in full price, especially as a flash of blonde appeared on the fence.
Though it was a girl with long blonde pigtails wearing an orange tank top and blue shorts. She cupped her hands around her mouth and screamed even with a wide smile took over her face.
"PERVERT! THERE'S A PERVERT HERE ANKO-NIICHAN! KURENAI-NIICHAN! PERVERT!" The girl screamed that was followed by roaring laughter and enraged screaming.
"NOOOO!" Itachi couldn't help but laughed as the women in the hot springs ran even as the two said kunoichi appeared on top of the fence wrapped in towels. It was only a blink of the eye later as the white haired ninja was bombarded by the two women and beat into the ground.
The blonde girl stayed on top of the fence with a wide grin on her face as she watched the man get beat to a pulp, swinging her legs back and forth as her pigtails swayed in the breeze. Itachi could only laugh harder when he saw the whisker marks and the bright blue eyes that went with the blonde hair.
"Thanks for the heads up Naru-chan!" Anko called up to the girl with a wave and a wide grin on her face, full if vicious victory and adoration.
"Yes. It was much appreciated." The genjutsu mistress agreed. Her red eyes glared down at the man before smiling up at the little girl. "Though I'm surprised you've taken that form again."
"Yeah, well, I'm technically male on the fence the woman's bathhouse." He shrugged as he released the illusion and jumped down to join the woman. "It wouldn't look good for me to be seen up there yelling pervert. I'd be the one getting a beating." He shrugged at their looks before looking down. "Sensei! Is this really the guy who's supposed to teach me?"
"Unfortunately yes." Itachi said as he appeared next to the blonde. "Though I can't imagine why I should leave you with him after that pitiful show." He smiled at the raised brows of the kunoichi. "I know, bad idea."
"No kidding. This kid is going to eat the old man alive!" Anko snarked as she smirked viciously, slamming a foot into the old man's side and moaning at his groan of pain. "Oh, I wonder how much I can make him bleed."
"Not now Anko." Kurenai intervened in the next kick by grabbing the woman by the arm and dragging her away. "It'll just give him more material for his stupid books."
The Snake Lady pouted as she was dragged, leaving Naruto to wave at them as Itachi toed the older ninja. "Are you going to lay there all day?" He questioned with his own raised brow.
"You could have intervened earlier!" Jiraiya shouted as he shot to his feet in a rage already. There was blood and bruises covering his face and his right eye was swollen comically. Blood was running from his temples and his mouth, adding to the hilarity. "You didn't need to stand there and enjoy my torment!"
"Yeah we did." Naruto spoke up with a deadpanned expression. "Perverts like you deserve to be treated like trash."
"No one asked you kid!" The man shouted as he pointed his finger in the blonde's face.
The genin just looked at the finger as if it wasn't worth his time before turning to his sensei. "Can't you find me a better teacher? He's obviously not worth my time. Probably just a nobody hack with no talent."
Itachi smirked as the button was pushed and he watched that lovely tick mark appear on the older man's forehead and his face turned red as all of his injuries miraculously disappeared. "A hack with no talent!? Kid, do you have any idea who I am?"
"No." At this point Naruto wasn't even looking at the man as he threw his hands behind his head and lent his weight on one foot. His normal lazy pose that made him look like an insolent brat.
That just made the man angrier.
"I am the Toad Sage! One of the Three Great Sanin!" He began his dance, the sounds of drums somehow magically appearing around them. Itachi always thought that there was little frogs summoned and hitting drums to give this idiot that effect. "I have faced off against Hanzo the Salamander and fought in the Great Ninja Wars to protect this village." He bit his thumb and slammed his hand onto the ground, summoning one of his great frogs, a frog the size of a horse that was red and wearing a blue hakama with swords strapped to his size. "I am Jiraiya!" He exclaimed from his pose a top of the frog, who looked grumpy and annoyed.
Naruto just raised a brow at him before turning to the frog. "I am so sorry you have to deal with him."
Itachi had never seen the sage hit the ground so hard face first before. Not even when Tsunade had sent the man flying for peeping on her in the past. The toad just nodded his head in agreement before disappearing in smoke.
"Kid! I am one of the strongest Ninja in the world!" The man was back on his feet as he shoved his face into Naruto's, their noses touching with how close they were together.
"Yeah?" Naruto questioned.
"Yeah!" Jiraiya shouted back.
"Then you should be able to teach me how to summon a toad like the one you just summoned with no problem at all!" Naruto growled at the man.
Itachi blinked in surprise as the white haired sage grabbed the blonde under the armpits with his face a boiling red. "I'll have you summoning Gamabunta by the end of the week!" HE announced before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
"Did…did he just…" Itachi could only shake his head in disbelief at how the blonde had completely manipulated a highly skilled and trained ninja.
He sighed in the end though as he rubbed his forehead. "Only Naruto could outrun an Anbu and manipulate a Sanin while still getting caught by a Chunin." The blonde ninja really was unpredictable.
"Sakura! How are you feeling?" Rin questioned as she entered the hospital room where the pinkette was sat up against a mountain of pillows. She still had several IVs and wires attached but she was breathing on her own now and was able to keep down most liquids. It would still be sometime before she got solid foods, let alone the Dango she so dearly pled for.
"I'd do better if someone would let me have something other than water and hardly flavored water." The pinkette grumbled with a scowl. "They literally just feed me water and that's it! I'm going to starve at this point."
Rin laughed as she settled a bag on the end of the bed. "You know as well as I do that you have to start from the bottom up. If you overload your system, then you could end up with complications that'll keep you here even longer."
"I know." She crossed her arms over her chest before looking at the bag with curiosity. "Are those the books you promised me?" She questioned next as her eyes sparkled. She had become bored rather quickly as it was just eat, sleep, eat, sleep, exams, tests, eat, sleep, more tests, more sleep, and eat some more water. That was all she could do at the moment. She wasn't even allowed out of bed and was left with a catheter and bedpans.
It was getting annoying and she was getting restless.
"Yep. Nawaki said he'd drop by to go over the theory for the enhanced strength and where you'll be able to use it." Rin pulled out books and settled them on the bedside. "For now all you can do is read and any of the nurses and doctors here should be able to answer any questions. I'll answer them as well and Nawaki will answer what he can in the other areas he'll teach you in."
"Oh thank god! Some relief!" She groaned as she picked up a book and opened it. She was going to read as much as she could before her exhaustion caught up again.
She was tired of being ill and hurt already and wished she had Naruto's insane healing ability.
A.N. Haha! Finally got this chapter done! Took forever but whatever. The next chapters will contain content on the other contestants and more of what's going on in the village. I might involve more of Team 7, I haven't decided yet. We'll see when we get there I guess. Anyways, review and let me know what you all think! I can't wait to see what you think!