Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 12 ( Chapter 22 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: Could I point out that reviews saying 'update soon' and nothing else posted three minutes after I release a chapter is unlikely to speed me up any? Most reviewers have been pretty good about this sort of thing, but... I mean, come on, people! I think the fact I'm getting a chapter a day out, most days, is pretty remarkable. A chapter every three minutes, though? That's expecting a bit much. By the way, regarding a mistake I made much earlier in the fic: It appears I'm not the only one who believed the Chidori and the Raikiri were seperate techniques. Shounen Jump (Japan) has them listed seperately in the 'most popular technique' polls, according to a translation posted to a couple forums I've been visiting. Huh. Imagine that. Oh, btw -- I said that this chapter would feature Naruto working with Kakashi. I changed my mind after that (largely due to an overly hot day in a courthouse listening to insanely bad lawyers convince a jury that the client was guilty (because the defense was so bad), but that we couldn't rule that way (because of how stupid the prosecution was being)). I decided to revise my plan slightly so that I didn't have to write about laws and legal situations, like my original plan was for this chapter. Instead, I decided to relay the important information another way. Ah, well -- enjoy.
Chapter 12
It had been a week since the prank had taken place, and the class was still chuckling about it from time to time. When Sakura handed Chikan his clothes the next class, the boy broke down and apologized profusely to the girl. Naruto's next session, he explained the whole prank... largely to explain the first three techniques he'd be teaching them. Naruto and Sakura's own class session, with Anko, had been unexpectedly delayed when the female jounin came down with a bad case of pnuemonia. Sakura checked her out, determining that she'd actually been sick since the month-long march through the rain getting to Blossom. Some of her bad attitude of earlier turned out to be because she had been hiding her illness, and so Sakura spent almost an hour admonishing the woman before applying the best treatments she knew. It wouldn't take more than a week to recover completely, thanks to the medicines she'd produced, but that meant thier own training was delayed. A sparring session with Jiraiya took her place, which turned out to be quite interesting for Sakura. Seeing what one of the other sannin could do really impressed upon her how great they actually were, and the fact that Naruto was a match for him (if not more than a match for him) yet was unsure if he was strong enough for the coming fight with Orochimaru and Sasuke told her just how big of a battle they were getting ready for. She was also quite impressed with how much of a pervert Jiraiya was, and admired how little of that perversion seemed to have rubbed itself off on Naruto.
Sakura was actually starting to get more and more comfortable with her relationship with Naruto. Yes, she believed that he loved her -- and he certainly had a bit of lust to add to that, if his reaction to seeing the 'memory' of her naked body was any indication -- but she also realized he wasn't going to demand anything from her she wasn't ready to give. Until she had really decided what to do about Sasuke -- and there were a lot of things to decide in that regard -- she wanted to try and remain loyal, as Naruto had remained loyal to her. The problem was, she hadn't decided to 'be loyal' until after she'd decided to -- and gone on -- a date with Naruto. If she hadn't read her family's scroll on the Mangekyou Sharingan, then such determination would have left her already, if she were honest with herself. She needed to decide, before she and Naruto confronted Sasuke, whether it was worth the sacrifice.... Well, that wasn't something she needed to worry about right away. She had time to think about it... she hoped. Meanwhile, she felt she could enjoy her time with Naruto -- the genie of 'dating' had already been let out of the bottle, there was no point in stuffing it back in -- even being his 'boyfriend' was something she could justify as not being anything new since deciding to be loyal to Sasuke. After all, it was true -- Naruto was her boyfriend... it's just that Sasuke had a prior claim on her heart, and she wasn't sure she was willing to forgo that claim yet. She hadn't planned to be, well, kissing him... but she supposed, as long as it was merely kissing, it was okay.
She was heading over to watch the last few minutes of his class, as they were planning to go out to dinner afterwards. It wasn't exactly a date -- at least, they hadn't called it such when making the arrangements. They hadn't really seen much of each other since the practice with Jiraiya, three days before, so this was just a friendly meeting to chat about things and to 'keep in touch.' She was considering asking him for a date, this time, though she intended to spend a bit more time preparing for it first. She was planning to make up for her abysmal behavior during their previous date, and so had to plan for something special... but that would take some planning, and she wanted to have everything planned before she asked. She didn't want to be on an 'official' date until she'd gotten all the plans made, so she really wasn't going to consider this a date. Nope. Just a friendly get-together, like she'd said. No chance of kissing or anything like that -- just dinner, that was it. She wouldn't let herself be talked into any walks around town to see what fantastic place Naruto had found that time (how he learned all these things about this new village that fast, Sakura didn't know), nor would she join him at his apartment afterward to 'talk.' She had an early day, tomorrow, after all. No, there was no way this dinner could possibly be considered a 'date.'
"Sakura-chan," an unexpected voice called from behind her. She turned around to find that Kakashi was walking up towards her. "You going to see Naruto, too?"
"Yeah," she said. "He and I are going out to dinner, tonight."
"Ah," Kakashi replied, nodding. "Are you two finally dating?"
"Finally?" Sakura repeated, blushing slightly. "Um... well, we've had all of two dates, both since we got back from the Sand mission -- I thought you knew about them! So, yes, we are 'finally' dating... but this isn't a date, just dinner."
"Ah," her former jounin instructor nodded. "Well, I'm afraid I'll have to delay your 'dinner' for a bit -- I need to talk to him about business after his class. It should only take a few minutes, though, and then you'll be free to go."
Sakura sighed. "Well, it should be okay. It's just dinner, after all."
"Sure, sure," Kakashi agreed, sounding as if he wasn't entirely certain he believed her. "How are classes going?"
"Better then I feared after my first day teaching," Sakura admitted. "They've started learning how to access chakra, even if they can't do anything with it yet. They're all very weak, but I think if they just start using it more they'll get it up to a reasonable level before too long. I've only had three lessons with them, though, so it's hard to tell...."
"Any standouts?" Kakashi asked.
"Inari-san's pretty good," Sakura admitted. "He seems to have been trying his best to teach himself ninjitsu based on what he witnessed us doing the last time we were in Wave country. Once he learned a little bit about chakra, he was actually able to use what he'd already worked out himself, and that's made him a rather fast learner so far. Possibly too fast -- things are coming so easily for him, he's losing the stamina build-up that the usual set of failures produces. Other then him, Adaha-san seems to be rather skilled -- although I have a feeling he came from a family of ninjas, since he seems to have a doujutsu which he'll need to learn how to use. He's an orphan -- doesn't even know the name of his clan -- so he didn't learn anything from his family. His chakra level is the highest of the entire class, and he's learning some things easier then most of his classmates. Outside of them, there's not much to speak of as far as raw talent goes, although Naruto-kun tells me that there are a few people who seem to have a talent for taijutsu in the crowd."
"I hardly consider fifteen people a 'crowd,'" Kakashi pointed out. "And there'd better be more decent ninja's to come from this group than that. We're required to produce at least three genin teams from this class, if we want Blossom to remain viable."
Sakura looked at the Blossom emblem on her wrist guard, symbolizing her affiliation with the new village. "It'd be a shame if this town failed," she admitted. "A ninja village named after me appeals to my ego, even if it wasn't really named for me."
"Actually, it was named for you," Kakashi said. "Tazuna-dono got the naming rights when he agreed to foot the bill for this village's construction and first few months of life. He wanted to name it after a member of team seven, and he decided calling the village 'Fishcake' was probably a bad idea."
She blinked up at him. "You're kidding, right? He really was considering 'Fishcake' as a village name?"
"He said he was," Kakashi replied dubiously. "Somehow, I think that he pointed that one out to highlight just how ridiculous some of the names they came up with were, before they settled on Blossom."
"Blossom's a fine name," Sakura pointed out. "I mean, come on, is 'Leaf' or 'Sand' really any better, really?"
"You may have a point," Kakashi admitted. "Blossom is a good name for this village, however -- as a satellite village, Konoha founded this place to teach certain people certain things. It likely will grow beyond its original purpose, but calling this village 'Blossom' is an accurate description of the reason it has been founded -- to allow some of us to blossom."
"That's terribly corny, you know," Sakura remarked.
"I have to say it," Kakashi sighed. "The words were in the proclamation announcing the founding of a new ninja village. 'A place where young ninja will blossom' were the exact words in the charter."
Sakura winced. "Who wrote a charter like that?"
"Gai-san, of course," Kakashi sighed. "Who else?"
They continued their small talk the rest of the way to the amphitheatre Naruto was training his class in. There was a lot to say, as they hadn't seen much of each other since moving out to their respective apartments, so conversation was easy as they relayed the basics of what each of them had been doing. Kakashi knew something of the prank -- not only had Naruto given him a censored description of his plans, but the naked boy streaking across town had been quite the topic of conversation for days -- but the details of it impressed him. He was pleased to hear that Yuugao had agreed to teach Sakura the technique, but not as pleased to hear about the ANBU's reluctance. He promised to have a talk with her, but couldn't swear to that having any effect. "Give her time," was his advice. "She's been in mourning for a lost lover for longer then you've been in mourning over Sasuke, and she hasn't recovered nearly as much as you have. Try to help her through it all, and if worse comes to worse I'll teach you what I can of genjutsu. I would have, years ago, if I'd had time."
When they arrived at the amphitheatre, things were a bit chaotic. Apparently, Naruto believed in one-on-one instruction... and had over a dozen clones flitting back and forth between students. Adaha was in a corner, working with a clone and -- to thier surprise -- Hanabi Hyuuga. Apparently, Naruto had already brought in someone to help the boy without having told Sakura, first. Kakashi was a little surprised that he had not been asked to help with the doujutsu.
Upon seeing the pair, Hanabi seemed to make a few excuses and then dart over to them. "Greetings, Kakashi-sama," she said, bowing her head respectfully.
"Hanabi-san," Kakashi replied, nodding to acknowledge the courtesy.
"I must ask how Asuma-sensei is doing setting up communications lines with Konoha," she said.
"We're expecting a team from Konoha to arrive next month for the final preparations," Kakashi explained. "Until then, personal mail is not permitted -- business only traffic already has an excessively long delay."
She sighed, then straightened up into a more confident stance. "I must send word to my father, as soon as possible. It is important."
"What is it?"
"That boy -- Adaha, I believe his name was," Hanabi explained. "He is a Hyuuga."
"A Hyuuga?" Kakashi repeated. He squinted over at the child, then raised his forehead protector to double-check with his sharingan. What he saw didn't explain anything. "I admit, he has some unusual characteristics, but he doesn't look like a Hyuuga -- he certainly doesn't have the white eyes of the byakuugen."
"That is because," Hanabi sighed, speaking in very reluctant tones. "He is from a line of the Hyuuga clan which predates the byakuugan's enhancement. He doesn't realize it, himself, but I can tell -- I can See it. I know what to look for. It's the Hyuuga clan trademarks... without the enhancements produced from the Oni we captured three hundred years ago. But he has a primitive form of the byakuugan, and so I must talk with my father immediately."
Sakura couldn't believe what she was hearing. Sure, she knew that Adaha probably had ninja in his blood, but the Hyuuga clan's blood? That was... astonishing, to say the least.
"Ah," Kakashi replied. "That explains it. He is from a part of the clan which must have seperated from the Head Family prior to even the existence of the village Konoha was built around. So... I can understand why the interest, but why is it so important that you inform your father immediately?"
"He is not from the head family," Hanabi replied, as if that would explain everything.
"You are not putting a cursed seal on him," a voice said from behind her. All three turned their attention to where Naruto -- or at least another of his clones -- stood. "He may have once been a member of his clan, but he's not any longer. He doesn't even have your eyes. You will not torture him."
"This is clan business, not yours," Hanabi snapped forcefully. "The cursed seal is not a torture, it is simply a means of protection. And the Hyuuga clan--"
"Has no claim over the boy," Kakashi sighed. "Naruto's right. If his family line is so old that it predates the Hyuuga's ascendency, then it also predates the Hyuuga clan law seperating the Branch Family from the Head Family. He is an orphan -- there is no proof they were even calling themselves the Hyuuga at that time."
Hanabi reddened in anger. "Nonetheless, my father must be told."
"And he will be. But not for another month, when the messenger service is complete enough to allow personal mail to travel. And, in the meantime, it would seem as if you are the one who is most qualified to train this boy. So, unless you are needed for other duties, you will be assigned to work with him -- under Naruto's close supervision -- during these class sessions. Is that understood?"
The Hyuuga girl huffed, but nodded. "Yes, sir. But do not be surprised if my father has you recalled for interfering in our clan business."
"Your father doesn't have that power," Kakashi pointed out. "Even the entire political might of the council lacks that power. Only the hokage could remove me, and I assure you Tsunade-sama will do no such thing. Now, I believe the day is mostly done -- I suggest you leave now, and cool off. A genin such as yourself should not try and pull rank over a jounin-oyabun -- if I were a different man, I would have you killed right now."
For the first time, a little fear entered Hanabi's face, and so she gathered what little dignity she still could and ran off. Relaxing moderately, Kakashi turned to the blond boy who was watching her go.
"Kakashi-sensei," Naruto said, shaking his head. "Why are the Hyuuga clan so... so...."
"It is the demon inside them," Kakashi explained, deciding to answer the question without forcing him to finish his answer. "They fear it greatly, even though it has long since been removed. They didn't used to be so strict, but when the Uchiha clan evolved in their midst, they decided they had to institute some form of protection, some way of stopping others from repeating the same experiment which created the first civil war in their own clan. I believe the way they have done it will eventually lead to a new civil war, but perhaps this civil war will not be as bloody as those previous. At any rate, fighting will not be permitted in the walls of Konoha -- that much is certain." He shook his head. "Dismiss your class -- you're already running late. Then, you and I will need to talk for a bit."
"But, uh," he turned to look at Sakura, who smiled encouragingly. "I'm supposed to go with Sakura-chan for dinner. Can this wait?"
"I suppose, but I'd rather talk with you about it, now," Kakashi replied. "It will only take a few minutes, and you will still have time for dinner."
"Go on, Naruto-kun," Sakura laughed. "I'll wait."
* * * * *
'A few minutes' turned into a half hour, and Sakura started to wonder if she had been stood up. Finally, just when she was about to give up on him, a rather flustered looking Naruto emerged from the room he and Kakashi had disappeared to, running as fast as he could with an apology on his lips. She accepted the apology -- although she accepted it only reluctantly. She knew it wasn't his fault, but that didn't make her any less annoyed.
"So, what's going on that kept you so busy?" Sakura asked after they had both placed their orders -- at a ramen place, of course. There wasn't any restaurant that said 'date' less then a ramen joint. "It had to have been important if you almost skipped dinner for it."
Naruto blinked. "I wasn't going to skip dinner."
"Okay, almost skipped dinner with me for it. I was just about to leave," Sakura pointed out.
"But Sakura-chan!" Naruto protested. "You're the one who told me to go with him!"
Smiling at the little quirk in his voice that reminded her of when he was still a twelve year old on his first mission, complaining because she'd insulted him (probably unjustly -- she could now admit she was a bit too hard on him from time to time), she shook her head. "Never mind, Naruto -- you're right. I did tell you to, didn't I? Still, what was that all about, anyway?"
Naruto shrugged. "Kakashi-sensei had a lot to say, most of which I didn't understand at all. He was going on about money and how long we've been in town and the like. It comes down to how the country of Wave only gave us so much, and how we've only got a certain amount of time to start making money or else we're going to run out fast. So, even though construction isn't quite complete and the messenger service is still a month away from being established, we're going to have to start accepting a few missions already."
"Well, it was bound to happen at some point," Sakura pointed out. "Why did he need to talk with you right away, though? It seems to me he could have either talked with you before your class or wait until tomorrow morning for something like that."
"He's sending out the first mission tonight," Naruto explained. "It's a time-sensitive class C mission, and he wanted my opinion on which team to send out. He says I've worked with the genin more then he has, and would probably have a better idea as to who had the skills to perform the mission."
"A time sensitive class C? What are you sending those kids to do?" Sakura asked.
"Something about guard duty for a parade," Naruto explained. "One of the local sports teams won an international championship, and there's fear that there could be riots during the celebration. We aren't being hired to stop the riots -- they've got a few platoons of samurai already on location for that -- but they want to make sure the athletes aren't harmed while they're in the parade while still allowing them to be 'accessible' to the fans."
"Why weren't we ever given easy class C missions like that?" Sakura complained. "All we ever had were boring as hell class D's and a single class C which turned out to really be a class A level."
"Well, Sakura-chan," Naruto mused. "We took the chuunin exam pretty quickly, according to ero-sennin. Normally, we would have been sent on two or three more class Cs before being asked to participate, but Kakashi-sensei thought we were ready early. After the chuunin exam... well, we didn't exactly have many missions as a complete team, did we?"
"I might have learned more if we had," Sakura sighed. "I didn't get enough experience to know just how poor a ninja I really was. I thought my brain would make up for my other shortcomings... but it didn't. So, when I started studying under Tsunade-shishou, I asked her to teach me medical ninjitsu -- so that I could still use my intellect -- and power moves -- so that I could actually be useful in a battle -- instead of what I apparently have a talent in: genjutsu. I'm starting to regret that, now, since it means I have to learn genjutsu from Yuugao instead of someone who actually cares enough about teaching to teach... but I'm glad that I am no longer have to be the one who's little more than a burden in combat, no longer someone who must be protected whenever we go on a mission."
"Sakura-chan," Naruto protested. "We never felt burdened by you. At least, I didn't."
She smiled at him. "I know -- you've said it, before. But, the fact is, I was the only one who wasn't really ready for the chuunin exam. Ino was better prepared for it then I was -- I just fought with more determination, and I had a natural counter to her attacks... and even with that, I could only manage a tie. And I didn't do anything to make myself better in that month before the tournament, nor did I do anything to make myself better once the Sand-Sound war was over. And I didn't do anything to make myself better while Sasuke-kun was in the hospital. And I didn't do anything to better myself while you went out to rescue him -- I just sat waiting and crying, hoping for your return. It was only afterwards that I realized just how... useless I really was -- I wasn't strong enough to help you go after Sasuke-kun, and so I damn near got a half a dozen good ninjas killed just to go and rescue my crush. I... I felt awful. Especially when I saw how hurt you were -- you had never been that badly hurt, before, not even after your fight with Gaara! I... I felt guilty for making you promise to rescue Sasuke for me, when I couldn't do it myself, nor could I even help. Even if you never felt I was a burden, I felt I was one." She narrowed her eyes at him. "From now on, Naruto-kun, I'm going to put my all into keeping pace with you. I'll not be left behind again, got it?"
"When did I ever leave you behind?" Naruto asked.
"Hm, let's see. How about when you went out to bring Tsunade-shishou back to Konoha?" Sakura asked. "I didn't even know about that until a couple months ago!"
"I didn't even know I was going until I left!" Naruto protested. "Ero-sennin only gave me enough time to pack, and then--"
"How about when you left to rescue Sasuke-kun?" she asked.
"Shikamaru said--"
"How about when you left for two and a half years of training?"
"I had to--"
"Naruto!" she snapped. "I'm not blaming you! I'm just saying... if I'd been able to keep up with you, I wouldn't have been left behind those times. I'd have been taken with you, or asked to join you, or you could have brought me with you. So from now on I'll be right there with you. Because I don't want to ever feel as if I'm a burden ever again...."
Naruto opened and closed his mouth a few times like a fish. "Sakura-chan, I... well, I... I don't want you to feel like a burden, either!" Sighing, he looked down. "I can't promise you that I'll never go somewhere without you. There are too many things that might happen where we'd have to go our seperate ways for a while. But if I do leave you behind, it won't be because you're a burden -- I'll promise you that."
Sakura nodded, smiling slightly. "Thank you, Naruto-kun. But you'd better keep that promise... because I intend to hold you to it!"
* * * * *
Notes: See, arrange things a different way, and I can get two chapters worth of important background into one! Naruto's promise (as most of his promises) will become important, though not for a long while. The only thing you're missing by my changing things this way is that I no longer have the complete explanation for the delay with the messenger service that Asuma is setting up -- but I don't think I really even needed that, anyway. Now, just to explain (before anyone asks) about Sakura's internal debate in the second paragraph of this chapter: What I'm trying to show here is that she'd decided -- upon reading the mangekyou scroll her family had left her (and no, you haven't missed anything -- the contents of that scroll are still a secret for you guys) -- that she wanted to remain loyal to Sasuke, which is 'holding her off' of advancing any sort of relationship with Naruto. BUT, I'd also like to point out her 'resolve' is slipping, and she's justifying anything that might be thought of as 'disloyal' (like her kissing Naruto) as, 'Well, as long as it's JUST this, it's okay.' This goes back to what I said in the notes from earlier, where I pointed out that Sakura was torn between her relationship with Naruto and wanting to be 'loyal,' and how that would be stressing out her relationship. It is this stress which will have her assuming the worst of Naruto on occasion (I've decided to limit this to only one more major occurance, to avoid too much redundancy), and it is necessary... and her decision to be loyal to Sasuke will be completely explained in the end. If this bit of waffling on her part is disturbing you, I'll let you know that it'll be seven chapters (as planned -- I may compress two into one, or expand one into two, or both) before that part of her character gets resolved, but then it's resolved COMPLETELY. For the record, I now know that Volume 3 will have a minimum of fifteen more chapters, possibly more... and that the whole Naru-Saku-Sasu triangle will be resolved well before the end (and that through Volume 4 there won't be any doubt at all as to their relationship... although Vol. 3 is definitely going to be the longest of the bunch). Considering this IS a Naru-Saku fic, I don't think it will surprise anyone which way it is resolved... but the resolution of the triangle won't necessarily end all tension between them, nor will they stop having romantic\romance-building moments afterwards... although the focus will change to the 'action\adventure' aspect of the story. Those of you interested in how Jury Duty went... well, I'll say that I believe the guy did it, but that both laywers were so incompetent that it ended in a mis-trial... and that's all I want to say about it. That was a wasted week and a day of my life -- unless perhaps you consider all the sweating from listening to a court case in an un-air conditioned courtroom time not wasted. Gah. Next chapter, we get to see Anko working with Naruto and Sakura, despite not being back to full health. Until then....