Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 18 ( Chapter 28 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: For readers: Just another reminder for C2 owners and admins, I've been kicked off of the lists because I had to switch the rating. I did have fifteen C2s linking this fic, and only three have added me back so far. I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of you no longer want to keep this fic in your listing (because of the ratings change, or because I ruined it somehow in your mind, or because you've just already lost interest in running a C2, etc.), but somehow I suspect that some of you just haven't realized I've been kicked off your list, yet. For readers on Mediaminer: There appears to be a formatting issue. All formatting, including blank lines between paragraphs, indents, etc., is wiped out when I upload to Mediaminer. I'm not sure what's going on or how to fix it -- for now, you'll just have to deal with it. (It's worse then the problems I was having with's new formatting system, to be honest)
Chapter 18
Naruto grinned. Kakashi and the five other jounin -- none of which he knew -- had just left... and now, he was in charge. He was the 'junior hokage' of Blossom, and he couldn't be happier. Sakura hadn't exactly seemed all that surprised that he'd been allowed to take such an important job, although she was very happy for him. She was now dealing with some work at her hospital, but she'd said she would be bringing him a celebratory lunch that afternoon... but right now, the office was all his. He had taken a few spins in his chair and did a few other of the silly things he'd always wished he could do in Kakashi's chair, but now he was actually interested in getting down to business. Most of that business involved 'rubber-stamping' a number of forms and the like, but he knew there were some interesting things, too -- even in just the paperwork. After all, it was his job, now, to approve missions and the like... and a half-dozen requests had just come in. He was supposed to read the forms and see which ones were worth calling the customers in for an interview -- he'd have to decide which missions to approve, assess which class it deserved to be rated, figure out which ones had priority, how much to charge for each mission, and which team to assign to each mission. He would have to get to know each of the teams better, as well, so that he could figure out which teams were ready for any sort of class C missions, which teams could handle non-combat C class missions, and so forth. Naruto may have been a bit of a dunce in school, but he'd been preparing for the job of hokage for most of his life, so he'd spent years figuring out how to handle the paperwork involved in the job. Now, he'd finally get a taste of the job he'd covetted for so long.
He'd already seperated the 'interesting' paperwork from the 'rubber-stamp' paperwork while he was waiting for Kakashi to leave, and had decided to get the rubber-stamp stuff out of the way as soon as possible. He was a bit surprised to note that it really involved a rubber stamp -- or, at least, a stamp: namely, his hanko. He had to use his hanko to stamp his signature over each document... although he did spend a second or two skimming each paper -- he wanted to know what he was putting his name to, after all.
He was only a few sheets from finishing his rubber stamping when there was a knock on his door. "Come in," he said. He looked up, a smile on his face, expecting to see Sakura coming in with his lunch. However, it wasn't his girlfriend making a lunch delivery coming through that door.
"Naruto-dono," Hana said, smirking. Naruto had been warned by Kakashi that the 'proper' address for him from the other jounin was 'dono,' as he was their commander despite being outranked by them, and he could put on report for insubordination any jounin who didn't address him with the suffix, or any genin who didn't call him 'sama.' Naruto, of course, hadn't cared -- he almost never used those titles, anyway, so he wouldn't complain if someone else wanted to, either.
"Puppy lady! Hey, what are you doing here?"
Hana twitched. "You know, Naruto-dono, you've been calling me that for a while, now. I never have liked it, and never will... but could you please call me by my real name when we're conducting official business?"
"Nah," Naruto said, waving her off. "If I did that, ero-sennin and the closet pervert would demand the same thing, and I'm not going to stop with them. Sorry, Hana-chan."
She sighed. "Well, I suppose I'll deal with anything, as long as I can still occasionally see that pervert Jiraiya's face whenever you call him 'ero-sennin,'" she said. "Anyway, Kakashi-san directed me to come talk with you about my team -- he said something about you needing one of my genin?"
"Oh, yeah," Naruto exclaimed, remembering what he'd been almost too excited to take in from the previous days conversation. "He said I should get an assistant. I wanted Konohamaru-chan from the closet pervert's team, but Kakashi pointed out to me that his team is better to send out on missions then yours is at the moment. With him gone, Hanabi is needed more than ever to help Adaha-chan with his doujutsu."
Hana sighed. "Actually, I'm getting rather annoyed at being stuck here in town. You do recall that our pay is supplemented by the commissions we recieve on these missions we're not getting, right?"
"Yeah, but your team is getting an extra stipend to make up for it," Naruto pointed out, holding a sheet of paper. "I authorized it just today, although apparently Kakashi-sensei's been pushing it for weeks. But you'll get some missions, too -- just not until after Adaha's class graduates."
"That won't be for almost seven months," Hana grumbled.
"It would be ten months if we weren't pushing the students so hard," Naruto pointed out. "But getting that first class of genin out the door is apparently this village's number one priority, at the moment. Kakashi-sensei finally showed me the briefing book for this place, and this village has to wait until they graduate before we're considered a 'self-sustaining' village, whatever that means. So getting that class of students out is more important then having another team capable of doing missions. Especially since our mission load is so low, apparently."
Hana nodded. "Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. So... you need an assistant from one of my genin, huh?"
"Yeah. I was thinking about your cousin, the puppy girl. She fought well and has a good attitude, so I kinda like her," Naruto grinned. "What do you think?"
The young woman hesitated. "Well... she might be able to do it, but Futaba-chan probably wouldn't like the job. She's much too attached to the outdoors, like I am, and would feel trapped if she had to take an office job like this one."
Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Hm. But who else on your team would be good for it? That Daichi guy, perhaps?"
"No, he needs to train too badly to spend time, here," Hana sighed. "I think you should take the Hyuuga girl."
Naruto's face darkened immediately. "You don't mean that Hanabi chick, do you? She's... I don't want to work with her! She's evil!"
Hana snorted to keep from laughing. "Yeah, I suppose she is. Actually, though, this job would probably be good for her. She's a problem child because she has all the power in the world -- she's the likely heir of the Hyuuga clan with Hinata being at odds with the chieftans of the main family, she's got almost as much potential as that Neji boy for prowess as a ninja without the restrictions of being a branch family member, and she was the number one rookie of her class of genin. Yet, with all that power, she's never had to be responsible for anything -- the Hyuuga clan had tried for many years to work with Hinata before finally giving up on her, so they never bothered teaching Hanabi anything. In essence, she's a spoiled brat. However, if you actually start making her responsible for some things, maybe she'll start to learn a bit and she won't be quite so, um, 'evil' any more."
Naruto hemmed and hawed for a bit. Finally, though, he collapsed back into his chair. "All right, puppy lady. If you really think Hanabi's the best choice, send her here tomorrow. I suppose I'll have to talk with her."
Sakura chose that moment to enter the room, carrying a couple bags full of food. "Oh, Hana-chan!" she said, a bit startled. "What are you doing here?"
"Kakashi-sensei said to pick a member of her team to act as my assistant," Naruto explained before the woman could answer. With a grimmace, he continued, "The puppy lady, here, is trying to convince me to pick Hanabi."
Sakura started to unload her burden on a relatively clean portion of Naruto's (temporary) head desk. "Hmm... well, I suppose she could do it. I'm not sure I'd want her, with that attitude."
"I think she'd learn a lot from the job," Hana repeated. "Maybe it would give her something of an attitude adjustment."
Digging through a bag for the chopsticks, she shrugged. "Well, Naruto's typical method of giving people attitude adjustments -- beating them senseless and hope they learn something by it -- didn't work. Maybe this would, though."
"Hey! I do more than that!"
"True, you usually try to talk with them while you're beating them up," Sakura admitted, not looking at him to hide the teasing smile on her face. "I guess the fight with Hanabi-chan was too quick for that."
Naruto frowned. "Hey, I got Zabuza to change without beating him up! Yeah, sure, he died a minute later, but I did it!"
"Kakashi-sensei had already beaten him up for you," Sakura pointed out.
"The old hag! I talked her into becoming hokage and never beat her up!" In fact, she beat me up, he recalled wryly.
"Hm," Sakura mused. "I suppose that counts. There was some fighting involved, though, right? Didn't she have you learn that rasengan technique, first?"
"Uh, yeah..." Naruto replied.
"So maybe you don't always beat them up. Fighting's still involved all the time, though, isn't it?"
Naruto wondered about that. "Well... actually, fighting's part of just about every aspect of my life. Even with you, huh? I mean, we fight together all the time, right?"
That was unexpected. "Er... well, we are a team," she agreed hesitantly.
He gestured to Hana. "And I'd never have gotten to know the puppy lady, here, if it hadn't been for that little tournament of ours. And I had to leave for those two and a half years to prepare for a fight. And I became a prankster to learn how to fight. And--"
"I get the idea," Sakura interrupted.
Hana, though, was amused. "Hmm... I seem to recall you have a bit of a reputation for loving ramen. What part of fighting has to do with ramen, then?"
"Simple!" Naruto chirped. "That's what I spend the money I make fighting on!"
Sakura twitched. "I certainly hope that won't always be the case," she said. "I'm not planning on footing the bill for all of our dates, you know."
"Erm," Naruto hesitated, remembering just how much of his pay he'd set aside for the Ichiraku. "Well, I use my money for other things, too. I'm not in debt or anything, but I usually don't earn much money without saving some from a commission. Although maybe I'm actually making a little, now that I'm a chuunin -- I haven't checked in with my bank since a couple days after my promotion."
Sakura blinked. "You haven't? How have you been paying for things since you got here, then?"
Naruto pulled a little frog purse out of his back pocket. It looked half full. "I've still got a few thousand ryou from the last time I went to the bank. I usually fill up my froggy, here, and that'll last me for a few months. It's actually holding out longer then usual here in Blossom."
"Things cost less, here," Hana pointed out. "And, since you haven't had to go out on a real mission since we've arrived, you probably haven't had as many expenses trying to get your supplies together."
"Oh, yeah," Naruto said, surprise in his voice. "I guess that would explain it."
"Speaking of money," Hana began, "Just what is the budget here? Kakashi-san kept telling me that he'd show me the paperwork, but he never got around to it."
"Why are you so interested?" Sakura asked cautiously, intercepting any response Naruto might have made.
"Mostly just curiousity," Hana explained, "Although I need to learn economics, some time. My mother's retired to take the clan's spot on the council, which means that I'm supposed to take charge of the finances of the Inuzuka when I finally can return to Konoha -- it's tradition, in our family, for the highest ranking active ninja to take that role."
That seemed plausible. Sakura didn't really suspect Hana of anything, but the interest in finances seemed a bit odd... and so was her former teacher's refusal to show them. "So, why did Kakashi-sensei hide them from you?"
Naruto, who had already pulled out the document detailing the budget from the files, coughed. "Um, probably because he'd screwed thing up... badly."
Sakura blinked. "What do you mean, Naruto-kun?"
He pulled out the small stack of papers representing all of the financial information on Blossom. Then he pulled out the copy of the briefing book Kakashi had given him before leaving. "It's simple. When we left Konoha, we were supposed to be given a grant from Wave large enough to keep this town financially stable for a full year -- long enough to set everything up, graduate a full class of genin from the new Academy, and operate as little more than a special training ground for the three genin teams we brought along, in an effort to get them all ready for the chuunin exam as quickly as possible. Then, we supposedly would have still had enough money left over to only need to run missions as a supplement to what finances was on hand for another year, while we built up enough of a reputation that we started getting enough customers to become self-sufficient. However, after only a few weeks of operation, we had already exhausted that grant down to the point we were supposed to be after a year."
"How?" Hana asked, startled. Sakura was just as curious.
"Well... it isn't all Kakashi-sensei's fault," Naruto admitted, pointing to some lines Sakura couldn't decifer on the budget. "We lost a lot of money trying to get supply lines established that we weren't expecting to need, and apparently one of the administrative genin who came here to help build Blossom had been embezzeling money from the project for almost a years worth of time during the village's construction before he was caught. Niether problem, however, should have amounted to that much of a loss -- maybe enough to drain off a month or two's worth of finances, but we should still have been fine. Kakashi-sensei, though, got a little sloppy with his bookkeeping, and that has cost us -- and is costing us -- a lot of money."
"Is costing us?" Sakura repeated, trying to get him to clear things up. She understood that there were unexpected expenses, but apparently that wasn't all... so what was going on? And how could Kakashi do something so ineptly that even Naruto could figure it out? She knew Naruto was smarter then most people believed -- she'd just won a bet a few days ago proving that -- but she knew things like paperwork and administrative work weren't his strong suit. She'd been growing to accept that, since she knew Naruto would become hokage, she might have to take a job as the 'hokage's paper-pusher' one of these days. It would be the only way to keep working with him once he got that promotion, after all. The thought of not staying with him as her teammate (if as nothing else, back when she was still obsessing over Sasuke) hadn't entered her mind once since well before learning that he'd already won the job when he was ready for it. So, she'd been preparing herself to become his paper-pushing, practicing for the job by taking care of the hospital paperwork herself instead of bringing in an assistant like she was entitled to. If there was one thing outside of his loyalty she was sure of, with Naruto, it was that the nitty-gritty details of the paperwork involved in being hokage would not be his kind of thing.
Yet here he was, explaining a rather complex budgetary crisis with her and Hana as if he had been the top academic student of his class of genin, instead of the bottom. Nothing he was saying went over her head, of course, but somehow he was able to handle administrative tasks better then even she had thought possible for him.
"Well," Naruto explained. "Kakashi set the budget up to purchase twice the amount of supplies we're expecting to use each month, and he did it intentionally. That's fine, since he was intending to purchase enough to warehouse things, so that this village wouldn't have any trouble weathering the winter months when our supply lines are going to be limited. The problem is, he made no distinction between non-perishable items and perishables. So, those things are being wasted and are spoiling.
"Furthermore, we seem to be paying a premium for a lot of stuff. I realize we had some trouble with our supply lines when we first got here, but once they were set up we should have been able to negotiate better prices for a lot of this stuff," Naruto noted. "We're paying six times the cost for raw iron that we should, and triple the cost for food... and those are only a couple of the worse examples."
Sakura hesitated. "Well, we aren't in Konoha -- things like iron could cost more, around here, naturally," she suggested.
"I was using the local prices," Naruto noted wryly. "I checked it out, myself, before I even knew about this problem."
"Why?" Hana asked, curious.
Naruto hesitated. "You both know that I essentially raised myself, right? That included the money thing, too. I've had to learn a lot about money from a very young age, just to avoid being ripped off -- and there are a lot of people out there who would try to rip off a six year old kid trying to make his own way in life. So, I always keep track of things like the cost of raw materials, manufactured goods, food.... If there'd been a test on money in the Academy, I'd have been able to ace it before I even got there, even on a written test."
"And you kept that habit up when you moved here," Sakura mused, more impressed with Naruto then ever before. That was something she'd have to ask Ino about -- her personal copy of Naruto was a few years old, it was true, but she wondered just how much preparation for becoming hokage Naruto had done even then, consciously or unconsciously. Apparently, he'd mastered the art of managing a budget, already. It would pay to know just how much she'd have to help the boy when he became hokage, but she didn't really want to ask him directly so that she wouldn't have to explain just why she was asking. She knew he hadn't realized, yet, that his 'dream' of being hokage was in the bag, provided he survived long enough to claim it from Tsunade when she retired. She didn't want him to know, either -- he might become complacent if he did.
"Well, you know, Naruto," Hana mused. "You're in charge here, now. You could fix his problems, if you want."
"I can stop us from spending eight times what we're supposed to be spending each month, yeah," Naruto sighed. "But I can't repair the damage already done. We'll have to keep taking in missions, but at least we won't go bankrupt before the end of the year."
"How did Kakashi-sensei cause such a mess?" Sakura mused. "He's usually a lot smarter then this."
Naruto shrugged. "How should I know? The important thing is to get it fixed... and to do that, I'm going to need some help."
Sakura grinned. "What do you want me to do?" she asked. It looked like it just might be time to put all that effort she'd spent learning how to be a village leader's aide to good use.
"Get Ino for me," Naruto sighed. "She's the girl who's supposed to talk to the outside world for us, isn't she? She needs to go fire all of our suppliers and get new ones. Also, I'm going to be amending out purchasing orders, so she'll have to tell them to adjust that, and..."
The pink haired kunoichi waved him off, a little frustrated. "I get the idea. I suppose I won't be of any help in this mess, after all, will I?"
"What do you mean?" Naruto asked, confused. "You are getting Ino for me, aren't you? That's very helpful!"
"I meant... oh, forget it, Naruto-kun," she sighed. Yes, he was a lot smarter then most people realized -- Sakura, herself, sometimes -- but he was still as clueless as a brain-dead jellyfish sometimes.
"How about me?" Hana asked. "Got anything for me to do?"
Naruto blinked. "Um... you're a jounin. I really shouldn't be asking you to do anything... should I?"
She laughed. "Not usually, no. However, this is a far from usual time -- technically, while I do outrank you, you are well ahead of me in the chain of command. Tradition dictates that I cannot relieve you, or disobey your lawfully given orders, despite my superior rank... unless there is a major crisis, which this little financial situation doesn't quite amount to. Be careful about using that power, though -- remember, once Kakashi gets back I'll be able to order you around, since your position will have dropped significantly."
Naruto grinned. "Hmm... I'll have to remember that for later. Right now, though, I think I'll just ask you to break the news to Hanabi for me."
"News?" Hana said, a bit surprised. Why did Naruto want her genin to know about the economic crisis?
"Yeah," he said. "Making her my assistant was your idea, after all."
* * * * *
Notes: A bit short following a weekend-long break, I know. I'm a bit tired from the visitors I've had to entertain, my back hurts making it hard to sit in the chair by my computer for long stretches of time, and this chapter was a bit harder to write then some (in part, because I never actually got to where I was aiming to get to... I was tempted to leave it for another day, and make this a double length chapter). I hope I'll get the next chapter out tomorrow, but we'll see. Next chapter: More of Naruto taking charge of Blossom as Hanabi takes her place as his assistant.