Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 2 Chapter 2 ( Chapter 5 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 2 Chapter 2 Notes: Initially, I was planning one chapter for Sakura, then one chapter for Naruto, and then I'd move on to Volume 3. Well, I didn't cover as much as I wanted to last chapter, only going through two of the five things I had planned for her to deal with during this volume. So, I guess it'll be longer than I anticipated... which is good for you, though not for me. *sigh* Anyway, I suppose I'll 'alternate' chapters until I've covered everything I planned for. In answer to the 'Did Naruto leave already,' the answer is yes. Both this and the last chapter start a few weeks after the end of Volume 1, well after Naruto has left (I was trying to imply that Sakura, at least, wasn't sure if he'd still be at the hospital when she got back the next morning from Vol. 1) and after both people have had a chance to get some work done on their training. As far as 'Am I out of (series) fanfiction?' the answer is, as always, no -- I never give up on any of my fanfics... though I do tend to set them aside for years at a time when I get stuck on something. Eep. Hopefully, that won't happen here. The only fanfic series I've ever written in that I've even given up READING on at least an occasional basis is Rurouni Kenshin (I started writing before the manga ended, and I was turned off of it by how it finished up. I do plan to finish that fic, as well, someday, but I can't stand the series any more). Again, I'm not going to deal with the raikiri\chidori thing again (I have looked where told to look, and see nothing definitive either way, but... it doesn't matter, so I'm not going to worry about it). I think that answers all the major questions (at least, as of the point I'm writing this, which is before I've started writing on any Chapter 2 text), so I hope you'll continue to enjoy...
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Naruto sat on the bed of his hotel room and glared, once more, at the freshly polished forehead protector Jiraiya had handed to him. Instead of the usual spiral leaf symbol of Konoha he was used to seeing on it, or any other hidden village symbol he was familiar with, it was completely blank. He hated it, because of what it implied: He was a homeless nin.
Unlike missing nin, who were criminals and\or traitors, or the much rarer but still occasionally seen employerless nin, who were typically genin or chuunin who were released from a village because they displayed no special talent and provided too much of a drain on manpower to employ, a homeless nin was someone whose home village was destroyed while he was away (for any ninja whose village was destroyed and was present was expected to either die or be a traitor) and so he was looking for a new village to hire him. Unlike missing nin or employerless nin, a homeless nin was not faced with the disgrace typical of the other varieties of ninja. On occasion, they would form their own hidden village, typically taking in a number of other homeless and employerless nin -- a practice which was what Konoha had assumed took place with the village of Sound before it revealed itself as Orochimaru's lair.
"Why do I have to wear this, again?" Naruto asked plaintively.
"I already told you, baka," Jiraiya grumbled. "We're heading into countries often patrolled by Rock shinobi. As a Konoha ninja, they would attack us first and ask questions later. As a homeless ninja, they won't... and, in fact, they may be willing to help you train... although if they do, you will not be able to use bushin no jutsu or any varient thereof -- that would be a signature move of Konoha. No rasengan, either, although I expect you to continue practicing that move when we're not around others until you can finally get it one-handed. Having to use three hands to get it to work is a big weakness, you know."
"I know, I know," Naruto huffed, frustrated. "But why are we going to the Rock, anyway?"
"Well," his master hummed. "I would think that would be obvious. You're preparing to face Uchiha Sasuke, and I'm trying to get you ready for Uchiha Itachi."
"I know that!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Yes, but you need to consider what the Uchiha specialize in. They specialize in fire techniques, and are quite good at it, so you need some sort of counter for it."
"So I need to learn water techniques, right?"
"That's one option," Jiraiya agreed. "And I'll be teaching you those, as well, but that's not the best option. You need your water technique to equal the Uchiha fire technique... and you cannot do that. The Uchiha have the best fire techniques around, and there isn't a match for them anywhere in all of the water techniques that exist -- you would have to be excessively more powerful for it to even stand a chance. I think that you stand a chance of growing a little faster then Sasuke over the next few years and being a match for him, but Itachi is another story -- I couldn't even match him if I were to train in nothing but water techniques for the next several years. So, you need to think about what other techniques are available."
"Well, the elemental techniques are Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind, right?"
"There are more of them then that," Jiraiya noted, "You could include Lightning, for example, but there aren't many lightning techniques out there worth learning if you aren't specializing in that set. But those are the major ones, yes. Wind only boosts Fire's strength, so the only thing left are Earth techniques... and I can't teach you Earth techniques nearly as well as the Rock can. So, we're going to the Rock country so that both of us can brush up on our Earth techniques."
Naruto sighed. "I was hoping to keep in touch with people back home with letters and postcards, but I guess if we're going into Rock country we're not going to be able to. Could I send one last letter, though, before it's too late?"
A rare smile of sympathy graced Jiraiya's face. He knew how hard a time Naruto had making friends, and what a sacrifice it was leaving them all for so long. Slowly, he nodded. "Yeah, I guess that would be all right. Just make no mention of where you are, what you're learning, or where you're going. Remember, you're a ninja -- that means you have to keep secrets, and those three things are big secrets."
"I know how to keep a secret," Naruto laughed. "It's pretty hard not to know how with my lifestyle. I only need to know that something is a secret, first -- I don't always know something's confidential when other people expect me to just guess it is from the start."
"That's why I'm telling you now," Jiraiya snorted. "But don't take too long -- the post office will close in an hour, and we're leaving before they open in the morning."
Naruto nodded. "Okay. Um... have you got any paper?"
Sighing, Jiraiya fumbled through his back to provide a couple of battered sheets of letter-sized paper and an envelope. Naruto had already pulled out a brush, and immediately started writing his usual legible but imperfect script.
"Hi, Sakura-chan!
"You'll have to let everyone know that I'm going to be unable to send letters for a while. I don't know how long -- ero-sennin won't tell me -- but it'll be a while, nonetheless. I've only got time to write this last one before I have to go, so I hope this'll get there unharmed.
"I hope you're learning a lot from the old hag. Ero-sennin says I have to 'refine' what I've already learned, whatever that means, before he'll teach me anything more complicated. Actually, I'm learning other techniques, too, but I can't say what they are. You understand, I think -- secrecy is important, after all. However, I should be ready to help you get Sasuke when I return, that much is certain.
"Sakura-chan, this is very important. Whatever you do, don't try to go after Sasuke alone. He's lost in darkness, right now, and I'm afraid of what he might do to you. That cursed seal you know about does something to him, I'm not sure what -- whatever it is seems to be driving him insane. When I found him at the waterfall, he was really creepy-looking... but then he seemed to get better for a time. Then he started going on about how I'm worth killing because I'm his 'dearest friend,' or some nonsense like that! If he wanted to kill me for being his friend, what do you think he might do to you? I think he's saveable, still, Sakura-chan -- I saw it in him, at times, and in the end he didn't kill me... but it'll take more than what I can do for him even if I get better. It'll take more then what you've got, too. Hopefully, the two of us will be enough to bring him back, though.
"I'm going to keep my promise, Sakura-chan. I don't ever want you to have to be in tears over this thing again -- I will keep it. As I said, it's the promise of a lifetime, and so even if it takes me my whole lifetime I'll still keep it. However, there's something I was thinking about a while ago. I said we only have three years to rescue Sasuke, because then Orochimaru will steal him from us forever. That's not quite true -- we have three years to save Sasuke from Orochimaru, but that doesn't mean we have to bring him back right away. If we can't convince Sasuke at first, then our only alternative is to kill Orochimaru. That, really, is what we should be training towards -- beating Orochimaru, not Sasuke. We'll have to fight him in the end, anyway.
"By the way, I've given you access to my bank account. The rent on my apartment is withdrawn automatically, but I'd like it if you took a little money out and spent it on ramen at the Ichiraku every now and then. I want them to still be in business when I get back -- the owner there is really nice, so I think you'll enjoy the place even if you don't particularly like ramen noodles. (Er, you do like ramen, though, right? If not, well, I think Kiba still enjoys it, so you can always buy him a few gift certificates or something).
"I'm almost out of time, so I'll wrap this up here, Sakura-chan. Keep up your hard work and stay safe. Remember, I'll be back before you know it, so don't go off without me!
"Yours, Naruto."
He reread it, and nodded. It sounds better then when I speak, actually, doesn't it? he thought to himself, grinning. He started to fold it up and stuff it in the envelope, but it was snatched away by Jiraiya before he could. "Hey!" he cried, sucking his thumb from the papercut his letter caused.
"Oh, be quiet," Jiraiya complained. "You are a ninja, aren't you? Deal with it." He took the letter and the envelope and started to leave. "Stay here -- I'll mail this out, and then I'll get started on my 'research' for the night."
Naruto fell back onto the bed and covered his ears. "I don't want to hear about it, ero-sennin! Just make sure you send my letter before you start doing any perverted stuff, got it?"
"Yeah, yeah -- I'll make sure your letter goes out," the perverted hermit snorted. "While I send out your letters, practice controlling the rasengan one-handed. You're close already, I can feel it, but I'm not teaching you any other techniques--"
"Until my rasengan is 'refined' enough, yeah, yeah -- I heard you the first time, ero-sennin."
Jiraiya shook his head. "I wish you'd stop calling me that."
A muffled grunt was all the response he got, but he could already hear the chakra building up from his rasengan practice. As much as he chastized the boy for learning slow, he was actually amazed at how quickly he took to the technique. Naruto was pretty pathetic when it came to learning basics and simple stuff, but his learning curve went up dramatically the more complicated the technique he was taught. The Fourth himself took three years to get to where Naruto -- if Jiraiya's estimate was correct -- would be by the time he got back that night, less than a year after Jiraiya first demonstrated the rasengan. Then he'd finally be able to start work on things like multiple rasengan (which the Fourth had never mastered. Jiraiya, himself, could only do two at a time, as he had when teaching Naruto the technique, but he wondered if maybe rasengan could be concentrated on the feet and 'kicked' into an opponent. It'd be interesting to try, that was for sure), odango rasengan, and other varients of the technique. He'd slow the rasengan work, though, so he could keep his promise about teaching the boy water-element techniques, and so he could try and find someone to teach him earth-element techniques as well. The Rock never taught anyone the truly advanced earth techniques, but they'd give out a few cheap, easy, and effective techniques to potential recruits, hoping to impress them by showing off what they could learn. That said, those 'cheap, effective techniques' would likely be an ideal defence to the Uchiha fire techniques. His water techniques weren't quite as well suited for it, unfortunately, but he knew of a few Naruto could try out. Water clones, for example -- which would probably be a good idea for him to learn before they encountered any Rock nin, since it would help them maintain their cover -- and the water dragon technique he'd heard Kakashi use a few times were both within Naruto's realm of possibilities. Jiraiya could do the water prison, too, himself, but he wasn't good enough at it to teach someone else -- which was okay, since he doubted Naruto would ever have the patience to use it.
Also, he intended to really drill the art of throwing shuriken into the boy. He could use them when he wanted, but his accuracy was well below what was expected out of someone with his level of skill in other areas. He'd spent part of the time Naruto was recovering in the hospital reading up on the records of his earlier missions -- including the one to the Land of Waves. He found in Kakashi's report a few instances where he was forced to concede that Naruto could actually think in battle, and his plan involving shuriken was brilliant. Kakashi's report, however, stated that Naruto's kunai was an inch off of what he assumed was the intended mark -- something which he was only lucky hadn't resulted in disaster.
I haven't done full-time training in way too long, Jiraiya mused to himself. I've forgotten how to set a proper schedule. Oh, well -- it'll come back to me in time.
Making his way to the post office, he glanced around to make sure Naruto hadn't followed him. Seeing no sight of blond-haired pursuers (and not really expecting to see any, but paranoia was the perogative of any ninja), he folded up the boy's letter and stuck it in the envelope. Then, he took out his own letter and a pen. He had already written it, but he still needed to add a postscript or two and address the envelope. Still, he should check it over to make sure he didn't forget anything.
"Hokage-sama. (I still don't like calling you that, by the way, Tsunade -- I don't see why you insist on making me call you hokage, but let Naruto call you whatever he wants!)
"The cypher is on its way, in the usual place. What can be revealed without spilling secrets follows:
"Naruto's training is going well. I expect him to be able to face either Uchiha brother before we get back; he, however, seems less interested in the Uchiha then he is in being able to fight Orochimaru. Given what he knows of Sasuke's time limit, that makes sense, but I worry he is setting himself an impossible goal. He intends to drag your apprentice with him when he goes -- or rather, I think he believes she intends to go anyway, and he's going with her. Keep that in mind as you train her. Also, keep an eye on the Sound compound. As we both know, there is no telling what secrets Sasuke may divulge about our defenses. We know they managed to get a couple spies into Konoha before the Sand-Sound War, but a traitor from the house of Uchiha is likely to know certain things even we don't know, much less any theoretical spies.
"So far, no intelligence has emerged on the Akatsuki. It feels as if, with Naruto's escape a few months ago, they have chosen to hide themselves rather then continue in whatever quest they are attempting. I fear this is a bit deceptive, but I think we're safe for at least three years.
"I may not be able to communicate safely for a while. If you get a message from me, read it right away -- I think the only time I'll risk sending anything for the next few months of this 'training journey' is if I detect an eminent threat of war.
Considering the words, he decided to scratch out a few sentences he felt were a bit too dangerous to include and then added a postscript letting Tsunade know he was including a letter for 'her apprentice' from Naruto.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" he called as softly as he could, summoning not the usual great battle-toads he was accustomed to but instead a much smaller, younger one.
"Yo," Gamakichi said, waving. "Did you mean to summon me, this time, or did a babe drug you again?"
"I meant to summon you," Jiraiya sighed. "I swear, I get no respect."
"Yeah, yeah, tell it to someone who cares," the young ninja toad replied. "So, if you actually wanted me, what did you need me for?"
He showed the now-sealed envelope containing his and Naruto's letters. "I need a secure messenger. The only thing secret in the packet is encoded, but I don't want to send even coded messages through a public mailing system."
Gamakichi sighed. "I gotcha. Geeze, though -- what a stupid job. Why couldn't you use birds as messengers, like every other respectable ninja out there? Why single out me?"
"Because you need the experience," Jiraiya snorted. "That, and I have yet to see a talking bird small enough to be a messenger, and don't trust a messenger who I can't be sure understands me."
The toad puffed up proudly. "Ah, I got it. You trust me more."
"Uh, sure. That's it." If the perverted hermit sounded a little less then sincere, no-one would call him on it.
"So, where to?"
"The new hokage of Konoha, Tsunade. You remember her, right?"
"You mean the one with the big knockers? She ain't hard to forget."
"Heh, that's her all right. She didn't used to have them that big, though," Jiraiya snorted, but then a thought came to him. "The letter is for her only, but if she's not in her office you can leave it with Haruno Sakura. She's a pink-haired genin who--"
"I know her. She's the blond's, well, this," Gamakichi snickered, holding out his little webbed pinkie.
"I think the attraction is still one way at the moment," Jiraiya mused, stuffing the letters into the toad's travel pouch.
"You're kidding me!" Gamakichi exclaimed. "After that kid saved her from shukaku, she still won't go on a date with him?"
That was something Jiraiya hadn't seen in the reports. "Shukaku?"
"Well, a jinchuuriki with shukaku inside, yeah," the toad explained. "I figured a kid like that would be bragging about it up one side and down the other."
The old sannin considered that for a bit. "Well, actually... the kid never brags about what he's done, just about what he thinks he can do. I know of a number of things he's actually managed to accomplish that should have been well above his level that I never hear him talk about... but that's not important. Tell me about the battle with shukaku."
The story unfolded slowly as Gamakichi explained everything he remembered about the fight. Jiraiya grinned in satisfaction hearing how his teaching the boy summoning techniques helped him win a battle that likely prevented Konoha from being completely destroyed. When the toad was done, they parted company to each complete their own tasks -- the toad his messenger service, and Jiraiya his night of whoring. However, as Jiraiya made his way towards the brothel he had passed on his way into town, his mind was on the story he had heard.
When Naruto was forced to use a transformation technique with Gamabunta, he chose to transform into the kyubi. He had sensed that both the boy's and the kyubi's chakra were easier for Naruto to access since the last time he'd trained with him, but this was a bit concerning. He didn't think there was any chance of the kyubi escaping the seal -- he'd studied the seal, himself, and knew exactly how it worked. It would take something cataclysmic for the kyubi to break the seal, but by that point it wouldn't matter. However, if Naruto was starting to use the kyubi more and more, and become more reliant on its powers and more consciously aware of his existance, then there was a chance that Naruto might lose himself to the kyubi, if only for a short time. Which meant that he had one more thing he would have to teach the boy.
The boy needed to learn how to meditate, because it was only through meditation that he could speak to the kyubi at will. Which would be necessary, since the only safe way to end the risk of the kyubi taking Naruto over... was for Naruto to truly befriend the kyubi.