Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 1 ( Chapter 11 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Okay, power levels, try two. My point wasn't that the fourth was equal to kyuubi -- just that his chakra was. My point was that chakra was only ONE PART of what determines power levels. Limitless chakra does not make one the best ninja, nor the most powerful, simply the one with the most stamina. Also required to determine power level are durability, strength, speed, size, maneuverability, and so forth. The Fourth, I believe, was roughly (though not exactly -- I'm not saying one has to be exactly equal in strength to use the sealing technique, but I do believe that one needs to expend enough chakra to keep the technique going while your opponent resists. Therefore, I figure it has to be close in order to be successful) equal to Kyubi in chakra, or stamina (i.e., fuel), but he was overwhelmed by greater durability, greater strength, greater speed, and greater size. He might have been better or equal in maneuverability, but possibly not as well. Even with equal chakra, his only move was a suicide move. To further expound on this, some examples: The Uchiha were not the best when it came to stamina -- their power comes not from limitless chakra, but limitless numbers of techniques and artificial speed (due to the Sharingan Eye of Insight). Gaara doesn't appear to be a massive chakra powerhouse in the chuunin exam -- rather, he seems to have size (if you include the sand and\or Shukaku), strength, and durability... and all of those things were nearly overcome by Lee's greater speed. Does that explain my view of chakra better? Another reply to a review: Once again, I wish to remind people that Volume 3 takes place AFTER the end of the current story arc in the manga. There has apparently been some confusion about that, as at least one reviewer seemed to think that it would be taking place DURING the current manga arc -- it is not; instead, I am making certain assumptions about how the story will go. I am assuming all the Konoha ninjas have survived, that there were no Sasuke sightings during the arc (a possibility, actually, but I'm hoping it doesn't happen), that Kyuubi is unharmed, and that Itachi survives. The fate of the rest of Akatsuki doesn't matter, nor does the fate of the Sand ninjas, more or less, although there is a possible Vol. 4 subplot difference which will take place if Gaara somehow survives being dead (it's been known to happen in some anime and manga). I suppose I also need to assume that the mission was successful enough that war hasn't been declared between Sand and Konoha (though given the current attitudes of the Sand council in the manga, I dunno). If any of these things does take place in the manga (or if, miracle of miracles, Sakura and Naruto ALREADY get together romantically before the end of the story arc more then they already have), then this fic will be 'Divergence-AU' (a term I picked up from another fandom meaning a divergence based on assumptions about how something will end which prove incorrect) Otherwise, it should just be 'Divergence.' This first chapter of Volume 3 is really just stage-setting for the rest of the story, since there's been a fairly active gap in the story since we last saw Naruto and Sakura in this fic. There will actually be some early scenes set during the period the current manga arc is taking place, but they are not connected with the manga arc in any way. I know, a bit confusing, but it should make sense as you read. Oh, and if you were one of the first fifty or so people who read the last chapter before I replaced it, I've changed the name of Ino's father. I was informed that his real name was 'Inoshi,' despite the fact there is no given name in either the manga or the anime. The source is a set of art books, apparently, which the site I was directed to by the person who told me it was Inoshi used as material... except the source website I was directed to listed his name as Inoichi. Sigh. I did a quick search-replace and changed his name to Inoichi, even though I happen to know of many other mangas and animes which have come out with similar 'source books' that were factually incorrect. (Think Ranma .5 (can't use the backslash to make it one half any more... argh) Memorial Book, which created an impossible-in-canon timeline that people use to nitpick others with, and some often-quoted DBZ reference books which did their math wrong on a number of things, just for starters, and... well, you get the idea) Ah, well -- sorry I was only using reliable source material, for the nitpickers. (I'm not really angry at the nitpick -- just at the quality of the source used for it. I'm actually grateful for the knowledge. This is more just a warning for the future: the website I was directed to was a good resource, and the art books are probably right, but I cannot think of them as reliable and I would never correct another person because of that kind of data. In the future, if any of you have a nitpick correction like that for me, please try to find a source from either the manga (primary) or the anime (reliable when not contradicted by the manga). The manga will always take preference, as sometimes the manga writers will screw things up as well (for example, in Inuyasha movie... er, 3, I think it is... anyway, in one of the Inuyasha movies, it indicated that Inuyasha was alive at a time when he couldn't possibly have been born (I forget the details -- it's been a while)) At any rate, I've changed it to Inoichi. Even if THAT is wrong, I'm not changing it -- I've done it once, I'm not doing it again. If it makes you feel any better, realize that Inoichi and Inoshi can be pronounced the same way in some Japanese dialects, much as Kakashi is sometimes pronounced 'Kakaii' in the anime. Okay, enough ranting and explanation... time to start the fic.
Chapter 1 Notes: Seperated from above because the above is mostly clarification and ranting. This chapter is largely fluff -- a sort of 're-introduction' of where Naruto and Sakura are in the timeline -- but the very first scene is, in fact, supposed to be while they are away, possibly having already taken place as of Ch. 265 or so of the manga. From then on, it is where I said this volume will be set -- after the current story arc is completed, with the assumptions I have already listed as to how it'll turn out.
Tsunade read the report Jiraiya had finally turned in. She knew most of the basic facts from his 'letters home' over the years, but this was significantly more detailed then he could possibly have written for the mail in a secure enough code. The findings were troublesome, but not unexpected. Apparently, the Rock were preparing for war, again -- the question was, with who? And when would they strike? Wherever their target was, they seemed willing to spend years of time preparing themselves for it, so wherever it was must have been a strong enough power to resist a kage power in normal circumstances. That meant it would be Mist, Cloud, Sand, Rain, Grass, Sound, or Konoha. She felt it was unlikely Konoha was the direct target -- if it was, they likely would have struck during Konoha's weakest point, just before she became hokage. Rock could have easily crushed Konoha, then. Or Sand, so that target was also ruled out. Orochimaru probably wasn't thier favorite person, but they hadn't yet, to the best of her knowledge, even met anyone from the Sound Ninja's, so war with them seemed unlikely. Grass and Rain could be fought without this unprecedented build-up of force. Mist and Cloud were their allies... but that eliminated everyone. So the question was, again, who was the target?
Jiraiya was looking at his own report on her dealings with the rest of the ninja world. "Hmm... and you say this is the last we heard from them, after they went to the Sand?"
"Well, birds of prey aren't as fast as radio or telephone," Tsunade sighed, setting down the report she had been reading. "So... how good is Naruto right now? Really?"
"Better then me. Virtually unlimited chakra combined with all of the techniques I know and then some," Jiraiya huffed. "He could go one-on-one with any of the known Akatsuki, including Itachi... as long as no-one uses genjutsu against him. He never really caught the trick to countering genjutsu."
"Yet you're still worried," Tsunade pointed out.
"His temper is too quick," Jiraiya explained. "He loses control, on occasion, and it gets him into trouble. His techniques are the best he can manage, but he's going up against people with bloodline limits which put anything Kyuubi's aid has done for him to shame. I said he could beat Itachi one-on-one... but I don't necessarily think he would. I have a few techniques which would allow me to force a retreat from Itachi, myself, but I don't think Naruto realistically could do better then me in that regard."
"Sakura's not ready, either," Tsunade sighed, taking her eyes off him. "She's finally improved, caught up to the rest of her genin class's level, but it isn't enough to go up against someone like Orochimaru or an Uchiha. She might be a match for Kabuto, one-on-one, but I doubt it -- Kabuto is Kakashi's equal, and I don't think she can beat Kakashi after having heard his report on their 'second bell test.'"
"They'll be going after Sasuke as soon as they get back, you know," Jiraiya pointed out. "We can't do anything about it."
Tsunade picked up a second report that Jiraiya had yet to see, and pointed to a highlighted section. "Actually... with this bit of information, I'm pretty sure we can put it off for a bit...."
* * * * *
After a long and terrifying mission, Naruto and Sakura were both happy to be heading away from the Sand. They had a few friends there, now, but niether one had enjoyed their little visit. They had enough successes to claim a successful mission, perhaps, but there were so many times that everything could have gone wrong... well, anyway, that was in the past. All they wanted to do was enjoy the ride into town they'd hitched from a local hay wagon and enjoy each other's company while they caught up with each other. They hadn't really had time to do that before this mission came to them, so it was a relatively pleasant time despite all that happened. They both wanted to forget... but there were some things Sakura couldn't forget.
Finally, her theory was confirmed. She'd tried researching Naruto for quite some time after Ino essentially told her that a greater demon was, in fact, inside of him. That lead to a bunch of dead ends, though -- the most she could find out about him that she didn't already know was that he was the only living Uzumaki. There weren't any files on his clan, and only passing references to others of his name in a few scattered records. Other than that, well, she'd struck out. This mission, however, confirmed everything... and, at some point, she wanted to talk with him about that. Among other things....
For one thing, she felt a little short-changed on their 'date.' Just as she'd promised Ino, she agreed to go out with Naruto when he asked her... provided he pay. He seemed a little upset about the needing to pay, thing -- and, given that she knew he hadn't been by the bank since he'd gotten back, she could definitely understand why. Still, she'd been anticipating that when she said it, and actually was looking forward to a little ramen and a nice long talk. That conversation never happened, however, once they met Shikamaru and Temari out together, having a 'not-date.' Naruto then found out about everyone but him being promoted, and things just sort of fell apart from their. In the end, they seperated (without eating lunch) when they ran into Iruka, who offered to treat Naruto to a welcome-home luncheon. Sakura hadn't given him a chance to refuse, merely smiling and waving, wishing the two of them a good meal. Naruto's eyes seemed a bit saddened, so she'd offered to put a rain-check on their date. That perked him up, a little, but they hadn't discussed anything about it since.
She also wanted to tell him about Ino. Her roommate had specifically said that Naruto should be told that his mind had been searched, and who did the searching, and why. They both decided it would probably be safer for Sakura to broach the topic, first, since niether of them knew how he would react. Naruto had been sorely abused by many people for many years -- niether of them wanted him to think they would take advantage of their new knowledge.
Also, she was surprised at just how mature he really was acting since meeting him, again. Oh, sure, there was the 'perverted ninjitsu' thing -- which she still wanted to hit him over -- and there was his 'You haven't changed at all' comment when she asked him about how womanly she looked. And, she supposed, he still needed to rein in his temper, a bit -- he was still prone to shouting at his enemies prior to fighting them. Overall, though... while he hadn't gotten rid of the things which made him appear so wild and immature in the past, he had refined them a bit so that they no longer appeared quite so immature. He hadn't changed the parts of him she disliked, really... he'd just incorporated them in a more mature fashion. To her honest surprise, she liked it.
He'd demonstrated far more improvement over the past two and a half years then she had -- which was quite some feat, when you consider where she was when she'd started compared to where he was when he started -- and appeared to have the same talent that Tsunade's tales seemed to indicate the great (if perverted) Jiraiya had. She, herself, had demonstrated much of the same talents as Tsunade boasted. Sakura, however, lacked the gambling addiction and laziness of her master (although she did learn the rules and tricks to a lot of high-stakes games like poker, craps, and so forth). She wondered if Naruto was like Jiraiya, only without the perversion. So far, he hadn't ogled at girls and -- given the amount of time they'd spent together since his return -- she knew he hadn't even tried to peak on girls in the bathhouses. Then again....
"Naruto," she began, turning her head to look at him. He was stretched on the hay, laying on his back with his arms as pillows.
"Eh?" he replied lazily.
"Erm, I don't know how to put this, but... what, exactly is perverted ninjitsu, and how did you come up with it?"
Naruto somehow slipped off his own arms, banging his head against the wooden fence around the hay cart. "Ack!" he shouted, his eye widening. "Why in the world do you want to know about that? You aren't planning to try it, are you?"
"Of course not!" Sakura protested. "It's just... well, when you came back, it wasn't two minutes before you started going on about 'perverted ninjitsu.' I thought that, well, with you travelling with Jiraiya the pervert and all, you might have gotten less mature rather than moreso. This whole trip, though... you're really a remarkable person, Naruto. It's just... if you aren't going to be just like Jiraiya, then what is it with the perverted ninjitsu, anyway?"
Naruto settled back down, laughing. "Sakura-chan," he began. "You completely misunderstand. Perverted ninjitsu isn't about being a pervert -- it's about taking advantage of the perversion in others. It really started out as a practical joke, to... uh... cover up for the fact that my real ninjitsu needed a lot of work. I knew it did, but... well, it was embarrassing, you know? I'd been in the academy three years, by then, and I couldn't get a single 'bushin no jutsu' to work. So... to keep from getting laughed at because I was an idiot, I wanted to be laughed at because I was funny." With a grin, he said, "Imagine my surprise when I found it useable against certain 'adults.' I would use it against people who I wanted to beat without hurting them -- like the Third, and Iruka-sensei. I considered using it against Kakashi-sensei during the first bell test, but... well, I didn't want to win that way, then. I wanted to prove, to myself if no-one else, that I actually could fight... and I did. Sure, he handed me my own ass a number of times during that 'test,' and he insulted me afterwards about not 'thinking beyond the obvious,' but there was at least one moment when I saw genuine, unfakeable surprise in his eyes, and I lived on that moment until I finally managed some success in a real battle."
Sakura smiled slightly. "That doesn't really answer the question. Obviously, you seem to think you've 'improved' upon the sexy-no-jutsu, so just how is it you developed this new 'perverted ninjitsu?' Has Jiraiya corrupted you, or what?"
"He tried," Naruto snorted. "On my fourteenth birthday, he got me all excited. He told me he was giving me a birthday present -- and it would have been the first birthday present I'd ever recieved! I was really happy. It turned out, though, that what he was 'giving' me was a fully-paid night in a brothel."
Sakura flushed. Something twinged in her stomach at what must have happened that night, but she couldn't help but laugh anyway. "Oh, my!"
"Nothing happened, Sakura-chan!" Naruto insisted. "Really! I... well, okay, not nothing, but nothing like that. I told the lady -- politely -- that I... uh... hm. Anyway, I refused, and instead we spent the night talking about how to create a bunch of new perverted ninjitsu. I was intending to use them on ero-sennin, at the time, but... I never got around to it. I've been... really busy, since then."
"So, Jiraiya paid for you to have a whole night in a brothel, and all you did was have her talk dirty to you?" Sakura laughed, feeling immensely relieved. However, her mind was churning -- just what was it Naruto wasn't telling her? There was definitely something there... something dealing with what he'd told 'the lady' in question.
"No, not like that," Naruto replied. "More like... she knew what the three basic ninjitsu techniques are -- cloning, transformation, and replacement -- and so she made suggestions for things which might be doable with those. Most of them weren't possible, but I figured out a few doozies to hit ero-sennin with, one of these days. That wasn't all we did, either. She, uh, gave me a massage... but I was wearing pants the whole time -- honest! Anyway, afterwards she gave me a special package. I haven't opened it, yet, so I don't know what's in it, but I figure I got enough out of it to justify what the old pervert paid for it."
"A massage, huh?" Sakura said, dangerously. She was feeling slightly... well, perhaps she could call it 'jealous,' even though nothing had really happened between Naruto and whoever that woman was. Her curiosity won out over her desire to punish Naruto, however. "So... what was it, exactly, that you told her that made your 'refusal' go so smoothly? I suspect if you'd just said 'no' she never would have been so... friendly."
Naruto sighed. He didn't want to say -- not really. Sakura, he knew, was still hung up on Sasuke, and he didn't want to upset what was promising to be a strong friendship by bringing up his love for her, again. Still... he didn't want to lie to Sakura, so what choice did he have?
"I told her I wanted to remain loyal... to you."
That statement forced Sakura to sit up and look at him. He wouldn't meet her eyes, so she chose the most bold course of action she could manage to force him to. She rolled over and straddled him. Technically, she was using a grappling move known as a 'mount' to pin him, but also -- when done by a girl on a guy, or visa versa -- the 'mount' could be considered quite... compromising. Regardless, for the ninja pinned under by a mount, it was quite a dangerous position to be in. Sakura grinned evilly -- if there was one thing she wanted Naruto to realize at that moment, it was that he was in great danger.
"You wanted to remain loyal to me, huh?" Sakura said, letting a threatening low growl into her voice. "Naruto, when we parted, you knew that I wanted to recover Sasuke-kun, because I love him. You promised you would recover him with me, remember? So... why ever would you need to be loyal to me?"
Naruto looked panicked at first, but settled down quickly enough. His eyes glinted slightly as he replied, "Because you're Sakura-chan. Even if I never have you, even if I have to save Sasuke-kun for you to love him, I will always be loyal to Sakura-chan. And, by the way, kyuubi really likes it when you talk like that."
Sakura's eyes showed her confusion and momentary panic by his answer. She'd partially expected the first part -- Ino had been hinting for quite some time that Naruto was quite determined he'd either have her as a girlfriend, or he'd have no-one. However, his reference to kyuubi -- and the determined way he'd said the whole thing -- made her pause. She intended to tease him for a bit, and then let him go, but now she wasn't so sure.
She rolled off him, taking a deep breath to recover her confidence. She let her Inner Sakura help with that -- one of the things the Overlay Persona granted her was the ability to make fast recoveries from emotional shocks -- and then she let out what she'd intended to tease him into, in the first place.
"He does, huh?" she growled again. "I assume you like it, too, or else you'd not have said anything, right?
"Right," Naruto said, sitting up to face her.
"In that case, Naruto-kun," she said deliberately. "You -- and the kyuubi, if he wants to tag along -- had better go to the bank when we get back into Konoha. Once you have drawn sufficient funds, you will proceed to a clothes shop, where you will purchase suitable eveningwear -- your orange suits look pretty nice on you for travelling, Naruto, but you really need to wear something else when we're home and not on duty. Then, you will stop by my house approximately twenty minutes until dinner, and pick me up... for that date I gave you a rain check on. But only if you take me to something a bit more fancy then the Ichiraku, and only if you order something other then ramen. Got it?"
Naruto grinned. "Got it."
* * * * *
"Well, Kakashi? I know they'll be here soon. I'd like a report before they get here," Tsunade sighed.
Kakashi sighed. He really would rather be reading the new Icha Icha Paradise book that Naruto gave him -- he hadn't had a chance to read it since the boy had given it to him. Since it was a rare Advanced Readers Copy of a title not yet for sale, he knew he was one of the first people to have a chance to read it... and this whole meeting was cutting into his reading time. Still, he supposed he should do his duty and give the report.
"Well, Naruto's rather impressive," Kakashi finally answered. "He's better then me, that's for sure. I think he's better then Jiraiya, when he takes his time and thinks about what he's doing. Your student, however... well, she's not really that much better then the others from that class of genin, skills-wise. On the plus side, her chakra has greatly increased. You gave her good taijutsu, and her medi-nin capabilities are your equal. In that, alone, has she excelled... but her talent was in genjutsu, and that hasn't improved at all."
"Yes. I initially planned to find her a genjutsu teacher," Tsunade agreed. "But she found some help which I think will, in the long run, prove to have been more useful."
Kakashi felt a tiny spark of interest at that bit of information. "Oh?"
"Yes. She's been developing the Haruno bloodline ability."
Kakashi stared at the hokage for a moment. "You think pink hair is more helpful to her in the long run then genjutsu?"
Tsunade glared at him, and for once Kakashi felt a little intimidated. "The Haruno clan has more to it then pink hair. They have the 'Overlay Persona.' It isn't exactly designed for combat, but it does aid in countering genjutsu and other forms of mental attacks and helps calm the mind. Probably other things as well -- there have been Haruno clan members who claimed it let them concentrate on two completely different and unrelated things at the same time, that it can speed their reaction time, and that it can help a person resist torture by giving their mind a place to 'escape to' and avoid the pain. What we do know is that the only true counter to a mangekyou sharingan without another sharingan eye to combat it is, in fact, the Overlay Persona."
Kakashi winced, recalling his own encounter with that powerful technique. "Well, perhaps it is a useful thing to develop, after all. But why wasn't I informed she had this bloodline ability when I recieved her as my student?"
"I don't know," Tsunade sighed. "The Third's notes indicate something about how it would probably have put too great a burden on you, to try and help the girl develop a talent niether of you would know anything about. He recommended letting her mother train her, once she got to a certain age. Her mother did not exactly train her, but she did give her the tools to train herself... and arranged for an appropriate, ah, sparring partner, if you will."
Kakashi frowned. "A sparring partner?"
"Yamanaka Ino... heir to the Yamanaka mind attack techniques. Which brings me to just why I brought you here, today."
"Oh?" Kakashi hummed. "I thought I was here to give you a report."
Tsunade grinned. "Yes. And that report says that Sakura needs training, right? Well... I'm giving Ino over to Team 7, to help you get her trained up. Asuma-san's team is being broken up, with Shikamaru travelling back and forth acting as our liason to the Sand and Chouji is on an extended mission as Food Taster to Madam Shijima, who as you know is the wife to the daimyo. I may decide to have Asuma take over Kurenei's team, and have Kurenei accompany you on your next mission... but I'll talk with her about that, first. Regardless, I will find a genjutsu specialist to accompany you and help you to train Sakura-chan."
Kakashi nodded. "So... what is our next mission, anyway?"
Tsunade's grin split wide open. "I am so glad you asked...."
Notes: Well, the opening notes covered all the ranting that I needed to vent away. Next chapter, a meeting between Team 7 and Tsunade, and Ino returns. Possibly the date with Naruto, as well, but we'll play it by ear on that one.