Naruto Fan Fiction ❯ Training for the Job ❯ Volume 3 Chapter 44 ( Chapter 54 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Volume 3 Notes: I think I pass 300,000 words by ffnet's accounting with this chapter. That, of course, includes the author's notes, which probably comprise something of 10 to 20 percent of the text... which still leaves, at worst, a fairly impressive 240,000 words, minimum. Pretty soon, this fic is actually going to be longer then everything else I've ever written, put together... ack! Finally, one of my 'guess what's coming next' questions actually fooled everybody. Actually, some people don't even seem to have gathered what, exactly, I was asking, and I think my 'clues' may have simply added to the confusion -- I mean, I figured that most of the guessers would get one of the teams, at least, but I think my clues may have hurt more then helped in that regard. Ah, well -- here you are, the final answers. Enjoy.
Chapter 44
Naruto whistled to himself as he walked along the roads back to his apartment, tossing the unclaimed bell up and catching it as he went. Finally, training was done, and tomorrow he would have his very own team to take with him on missions. True, he'd have to get them some D-rank missions at first, just to get them some experience, but he felt confident he could whip them up into shape to go on C-class missions, at least, in only a few weeks time. It was his intention to have them ready for the chuunin exam by the time they were eligible, and so he was certainly going to lobby for them to go on harder missions sooner, rather then later. Of course, part of that would have to deal with whether or not his team was actually any good, but he suspected they would be. His own students started out at less-then-promising levels, but turned out pretty good... and maybe he'd have one of them under his command.
He had been feeling especially good that day. There had been a lot of things over the past two weeks which had been hanging in his mind, but for some reason he felt as if it would all be better around lunchtime that day. He didn't know what had caused him to feel that way, but he certainly wasn't going to complain.
He opened his door without thinking, not even noticing that he didn't have to unlock it as he did, and stepped on inside. It wasn't until he looked up from checking to see if any messages from his sources in the Administrative Building had, as per usual, stuck any notes under the door (truthfully, Naruto felt that such a simple technique wasn't exactly up to the level expected of a ninja for communicating with his spies, but he did have to remind himself that his sources weren't ninja, and therefore couldn't be expected to use ninjitsu to conceal their dead drops), that he saw he wasn't alone in his apartment.
"Sakura-chan!" he cried, spying the pink-haired girl he knew and loved... and thought was still at sea, making her return trip from some island in the middle of nowhere. "You're back!"
She turned to see him, her face lighting up. "Naruto-kun! I--"
Whatever she was about to say was quickly prevented by his lips colliding with hers as Naruto seemed to almost be trying to swallow her mouth with the passion of his kiss. At first, she resisted -- albeit slightly -- before giving in and wrapping her own arms around him. Their arms started exploring, and Naruto's slowly descended to clench her derriere through the cloth of her shorts. A few fingers had started slipping up under her shirt on the return trip when a throat cleared from the direction of the kitchen.
"Um, do you want us to go?" Ino asked, lips twitching as Futaba faked a cough to cover her laughter. Hanabi, the last person in the room, merely looked on stoically... although there may have been a suspicious twinkle in her eye as well. "Because, as glad as we all are that you're back, Sakura-chan, we don't really want to be here when your first child is concieved. At least, I don't... and I don't think you should be corrupting young eyes with that kind of image, either."
Naruto and Sakura broke apart, both blushing. Naruto's blush was slight, and there was more pride then embarrasment on his face, but it was there. Sakura's was more pronounced, and betrayed the guilt she felt for having forgotten her guests, but she didn't exactly pull too far away from Naruto as she turned -- in his arms -- to face the trio of smiling girls.
"I... don't think that's necessary," Sakura answered. "That was just a 'welcome home,' and we can... continue where we left off, later."
Ino lead the laughter that followed that statement, shaking her head. "Hey, we're just here to talk about our students -- we're supposed to give a final report, tomorrow, so we'll be going over all that tomorrow, anyway. Your 'welcome home' can continue in peace."
Naruto coughed, coming to his senses. "There are a few other things we need to talk about, too, Sakura-chan, and we should probably talk about them in private."
Sakura blinked up at him. "Anything pressing?"
Naruto hesitated. "Well... it could wait if a more pressing emergency came along, but... it's rather important."
Seeing how serious he was, Sakura nodded. "Okay. I guess our little gossip session will have to wait, girls -- sorry."
Ino, sensing the change in mood, nodded. "Of course. Come along, girls -- we'd better leave them to talk."
"Yeah, I'm sure that's all they'll be doing," Futaba snickered suggestively.
"Maybe, maybe not," Ino replied, nodding to Sakura. "But I think we should leave them, anyway."
"Yes, Ino-san," Futaba agreed, chastized. "Thank you for inviting us, Sakura-chan. Dinner was good."
"You're welcome, Futaba-chan. We'll see you tomorrow." Sakura ushered Ino and the two young chuunin out the door before closing it and locking the door. She spun around and raised an eyebrow on Naruto. "And if you think we're just going to 'talk,' well, let me change your mind, okay?"
Naruto smiled slightly, but that smile dropped fairly quickly. "I got word, just after you left, from one of my agents inside the Administration. We've gotten... news, from Konoha."
"We often get news from Konoha," Sakura pointed out. "What's so important about it, this time?"
"It's actually from the Sand," Naruto continued. "Where they've sighted Sasuke, and--"
"Stop!" the pink-haired young woman commanded, her finger rapidly covering his lips in a silencing gesture. "I don't want to hear it!"
Naruto looked momentarily distressed. "But--"
"Is he coming here?" Sakura asked, glaring at him.
Naruto shook his head. "We don't know, yet, but--"
"Is his insanity cured?"
"No, but--"
"Then I don't want to hear it. For good or ill, I've decided that Sasuke's role in my life is over. I no longer want to concern myself with him, since he's too far gone to be the Sasuke that I knew -- or that you knew. Unless his insanity is cured, he is all but a shell using Sasuke-kun's body, and I don't want to worry myself over that. If his insanity is ever cured, maybe then I'll want to be his friend again -- for your sake, as much as mine, since I know he was probably, in truth, closer to you then he ever was to me. But there is nothing I can do to heal him that won't result in my betraying you, and I will never do that." She smiled at him fiercely. "I love you, Naruto-kun, and I will not throw that away for him. Not any more."
Naruto hesitated, then finally nodded. "Okay, Sakura-chan. But if you ever change your mind, let me know -- this was pretty big news."
Sakura's smile softened into a slightly more humorous one. "Now... how about we continue that 'welcome home,' huh?"
* * * * *
Sakura glanced around the room, her eyes lighting on Naruto after a moment's search. She felt herself blush, and hoped it wasn't too apparent -- things had gotten a bit heated, again, during her 'welcome home' celebration. It had taken all of her effort to pull away from him that night, to sleep in a seperate bed... but she knew it wasn't time yet. Soon, she thought. Soon, it'll be safe. And then....
Across the room, as if attracted by her deepening blush, Naruto looked up to meet her gaze. His cocky grin quickly broke the spell, and Sakura was able to bring her attention back to the matter at hand -- namely, the evaluation meeting.
"I've got all your written reports, here," Kakashi said, tapping the top of a stack of papers on his desk. "But let me have some verbal summaries. Shizune-san?"
Shizune nodded. "As I expected, all three of my students will still need considerable training to become effective as ninja. Instead of shunting them into administrative classes, however, I recommend we establish a medical college here in Blossom for medical ninjitsu. As a matter of fact, I require it -- Tsunade-sama said that while certain aspects of Konoha culture, including the clan system, make forming a medical college... difficult, if not impossible, it would be easier to manage here in Blossom, where clans will not be 'offended' that their children aren't considered ready for ninja duties at their earliest possible date. It's rare enough to find someone well qualified to become a medical ninja, and when ninety percent of those people are prevented from even considering that field by their families, well, it gets pretty hard to establish a medical college. A college system, furthermore, should be more effective and efficient then the current apprenticeship system."
Kakashi nodded. "Very well, Shizune-san. Please contact Haruno-san at the Academy to arrange for the facilities and resources you need, and go through the hospital administration for whatever requisitions of medical supplies that you require. Next, I'd like to hear from Futaba-chan."
"None of my students should qualify for permanent teams," Futaba replied, shaking her head. "I'm a bit reluctant to have them appear on our rosters as administrative ninja, either. They learned nothing I tried to teach them, their academic record was poor, and their ninjitsu barely qualified them to be genin at all. They would even be safe to release from the village, altogether -- they haven't managed to learn anything in the Academy which would require their travel be restricted."
Kakashi grimmaced. "Personnel requirements being what they are, I'm afraid drumming anyone out, entirely, is... unfeasable. But, if after reviewing their records I agree with your assessment, I will make a point of instructing Haruno-san to evaluate them during their retraining as administrators."
Futaba nodded. "Thank you, sir."
"Next... Moegi-san."
"Inari-kun performed as well as expected," Moegi replied. "While my other two genin did improve their taijutsu, they were not impressive. Both could be acceptable administrative genin, but are very borderline for missions."
Kakashi nodded. "We need all the administrative ninja we can get, once the teams are formed. If they seem promising in that regard, I think that would be to our advantage. Hanabi-chan?"
Hanabi hesitated. "The best of my team was not Adaha-san, as I expected, but one Okanemoto Akane. However..."
She shook her head. "I don't trust him. He's... belligerent and arrogant. Properties a lot of successful ninja share, true, but he had to be bullied into attending classes. I'm not sure he'd be much of a team player, and is a threat to turn missing nin."
Kakashi nodded slowly, writing something down. "I will do my best to ensure that he is put on a team which will discourage that possibility, but we cannot dismiss him because of that threat. We need all of the promising ninja we can get. And your others?"
"Adaha-san, while not the top performer, was still as impressive as predicted. Nanigoto Izure... did not have the physical traits required for my class."
Kakashi nodded. "Understood. In that case, we'll move on to--"
"I wasn't quite finished," Hanabi continued, raising her voice to interrupt. "Izure-san was not qualified to learn in my class... but he could, potentially, be a high level ninja. His talent was not one of the specialties we offered, however. I would recommend sending him to Konoha for training."
Kakashi stared at her for several moments. "Under whom?"
"I believe there is a teammate of my cousin, Neji, whose talents prove her to be the best shuriken user in generations. I would recommend Izure-san be apprenticed to this... Tenten-san. Izure-san is an ideal shuriken user, a potential shuriken master, and would benefit from such an education."
Kakashi sighed. "Well, this complicates things, doesn't it? I'll look into the matter. Ino-san, your turn."
Ino shrugged. "All three of my genin proved to be ideal espionage talents, all through entirely different methods. Munamoto Sousou is so unassuming that she can make people overlook her, making her ideal for civilian infiltration. Seiteki Pansuke is definitely an early candidate for courtesan training, and is a natural to be trained as what the Grass sometimes call a 'raven,' an agent who uses sexual techniques for the purposes of interrogation. She seems to have a few discipline problems associated with arrogance, but other then that is okay. Ekisutora Bangai is decent at a variety of techniques, though holds no specialty in any."
Kakashi sighed. "We're forming three teams -- one of combat specialists and two generalist teams. That means we really have only two slots for espionage specialists. Your report seems to indicate that they're about equal, in terms of skill, but one of them is the odd girl out. Which of those three would make the best administrator?"
There was no question in Ino's mind who the best administrator would be, but she felt it was almost a shame to pull her out of active duty. Of all the three, she was the most level headed, but... well, there was really only one who could manage as an administrator. "Ekisutora Bangai, no question."
Kakashi wrote some more on the notepad by him and nodded. "Very well. Next -- Sakura-chan."
"All three of my students obtained summoning contracts," Sakura said, then took a deep breath. "Two of them achieved multiple."
That started the room muttering, but Kakashi merely nodded. "Who has what?"
"Hiniku Butakatsu won a contract with the pigs. I... don't trust that boy. From his own report, he admitted that he revealed information to a potential enemy during an encounter -- not damaging information, true, but that kind of moral justification can sometimes lead to justification of a persons betrayal," Sakura evaluated.
More writing. "So noted. Go on."
"Komakai Chikan achieved two. For a terminally seasick boy, one of them is rather surprising -- he can summon dolphins. The other summon is the moles."
"Very well. And the third -- this Ran Umiko?"
Sakura hesitated. If they were so shocked to hear about multiple summons, they would be astonished at this one. "Horses and... birds. Specifically, eagles."
Even Kakashi looked momentarily shocked at that one. "Eagles?" he finally said, calming the others.
"Yes, Kakashi-sensei. Eagles. As in birds -- he has a contract with the birds. The Rock had allowed their contract to lapse. We encountered a team sent by the rock to obtain the contract, but it was too late for them. The frogs and horses aided in our escape before the Rock team learned of this, however."
Kakashi took a deep breath, closing his visible eye. "I will have to inform the hokage about this. Relations with the Rock are shaky enough as it is -- but it isn't something Umiko-san should be blamed for."
"Yes, sir."
"Now, final report. Naruto? And please tell me you don't have another major revelation like that to deal with?"
Naruto shook his head. "Afraid not, sir. They all proved themselves to be good ninja, though, and I'd trust any of them to be a member of my team. I understand that Rouhi should probably go into administrative work due to medical concerns, however, but I'll be willing to keep working with all of them regardless of whether they make the teams or not. I gave them a bell test, and Hiyowai Shiro passed. Easily."
Kakashi nodded, writing a few more words down on the paper next to him. "Okay, thank you all. Naruto, Sakura, Ino -- the three of you report back here in three hours for team assignments. The rest of you, dismissed."
"Yes, sir," the assembled group said, leaving out the doors.
Once he was sure they were all gone and out of hearing distance, Kakashi glanced over to one wall. He gesturing with a finger, then pulled out three files.
"Yes?" the nearly indistinguishible voice replied.
"These three. They're yours. You'll have to work around their instruction, but that shouldn't be a problem. You have to figure out how to approach them, as well -- I'm not doing your job for you."
"Very well."
"Remember, I'm not to know anything about this. Don't send me any word on their progress -- either through official channels or secretly. There are certain individuals around here who are already suspicious enough that something is going on. While we're operating in the best interest of Konoha, we'd probably have a hard time explaining before they reacted."
"Yes, sir."
"Now, get the hell out of here -- I've got work to do."
* * * * *
Naruto stood between Sakura and Ino as the genin assembled before them. The teams had been selected, and it was time to assemble them. Finally, he thought. I'm going to be getting something to do around here. Ino didn't look too happy, and Sakura's smile was a bit forced, but Naruto was definitely pleased.
Sakura was the first to speak. "We'll now read out who is on which teams. Do not worry if you are not selected here -- several of you are being designated into specialized training, some of which may require a specialized instructor, and may be allowed on a team at a later date. If your name is not called, you are to report to Haruno-san at the classroom tomorrow for assignment to your next level of training. I'll have you know that I could have benefited from such training as you will be getting when I was a rookie genin, myself, so be glad -- you're getting a great opportunity, wherever you wind up."
"Right," Naruto said, grinning. "Don't anyone give up -- you never know what could happen. I failed the academy back home three times, and now here I am -- a jounin. Don't be surprised if you wind up with a job more to your liking once this is done."
"Exactly," Sakura replied, smiling at him. "You've been asked to do in one year what most of us do in three, and none of you have had the base that most ninja are expected to have before entering the Academy. That any of you are ready is remarkable. That the rest of you aren't ready, yet, is no fault of your own."
Naruto took over for a moment. "Now, my team first. Kakashi-sensei noticed that there was a trio of you who acted pretty well, together, during a recent incident. He figured it was probably a good idea not to break apart a team that was known to work, so Inari-chan, Adaha-san, and Umiko-san... you're mine."
The trio of genin stepped up, taking position behind him as they had been instructed to before the assembly had begun. All three looked rather pleased, and Naruto couldn't be happier -- he had probably wound up with the best team, and he knew it. He felt a little sorry for Sakura and Ino, since he knew that niether were exactly happy with everyone on thier teams, but at least one of them was.
"Now, my team," Sakura continued. "We'll have to work a bit on our teamwork before we get into missions, since to the best of my knowledge you're all relatively unfamiliar with each other, but I'm sure we'll form into a cohesive team in no time. When I call your name, come forward. Hiyowai Shiro."
The pale boy made his way around to line up behind her, just as the trio Naruto had called had done. "Yes, ma'am."
He's a good guy. I wonder why Sakura-chan was so upset? She wouldn't tell me who was on her team, but it doesn't sound that bad if she got a quality guy like Shiro, Naruto mused.
"Next, Munamoto Sousou."
Oh, I get it, Naruto thought as the shy girl slowly made her way out behind Sakura. She's upset that one of her twelve-year old students has bigger boobs then she does. I keep telling Sakura she looked just fine, but she does seem a bit upset about being so small. It must have something to do with being the old hag's student, having to see those big things every day.
"Finally," Sakura called, though her voice dropped as her forced enthusiasm slipped. "Komokai Chikan, please come forward."
"Chikan... Chikan... why does that name sound familiar?" Naruto asked. He had been teaching the genin for a whole year, but he still had trouble connecting most of the names to the faces. It was when Chikan stepped forward that he remembered exactly who the genin was. "Oh... him. Hm...." He intercepted the boy before he found his place and grinned at him, showing the fangs -- which he utilized a tiny bit of the kyuubi to grow. "I won't have to speak with you, will I?"
Chikan swallowed nervously. "Um... no, sir."
"Good. I'd better not."
Ino took her place in front as Chikan scrambled away back to his position in line, in preparation for calling out her team. She did not look happy... and as she called her team, neither Naruto nor Sakura could blame her. They both knew the genin she called very well.
"Hiniku Butakatsu, Okanemoto Akane, Seiteki Pansuke... line up. You're my team."
Naruto stepped over to Sakura so he could whisper to her without being overheard. "Is it just me... or did Kakashi-sensei make a team of all our troublemakers and give them to Ino-chan?"
"I... think he did," Sakura replied, astonished.
"Well, why the hell would he do something like that?" he asked, incredulous, his voice slipping past a whisper.
"I don't know," Sakura replied. "I... do you think there's something wrong with him? He's been acting strange since we left for Blossom."
"I've noticed," Naruto replied. "I don't know if there's something wrong with him or not, but... we're going to have to help Ino-chan keep an eye on them, aren't we?"
"As much as we can," she answered. "Naruto... you have a way of getting in touch with Tsunade-shishou without Kakashi-sensei noticing, right?"
"Yeah," Naruto said. "And before you ask... I already sent her the question. Her reply was that we shouldn't worry, but that Shizune-chan will help us keep an eye on him. I've also still got some control of things around here, and... well, you know about my other sources already."
"Yeah," Sakura replied, shaking her head. "I can't help but remember, though, how everyone was reassuring me that everything would be all right with Sasuke... and we all know how that turned out. You and Tsunade-shishou are telling me that everything is going to be all right with Kakashi-sensei... but how sure can I be?"
Naruto shook his head. "I'm sorry, Sakura-chan. I can't promise anything. I wouldn't promise it even if I could... but I will do whatever I can to make sure this doesn't end up like that did. That much, I think, I can promise."
* * * * *
Notes: So... the teams are revealed. Questions? Comments? Complaints? This ends most of the real set-up for the conclusion to Volume 3 (finally) and prepares a very few little things for Volume 4 -- moderately significant things, actually, but you probably won't know what it is for quite some time. After a brief intermission (as described below), we'll start the climax of Volume 3... which should lead into Volume 4 very nicely, I would think. Next Chapter: Sakura's eighteenth birthday is upon us. Is she going to be able to spend it with Naruto, however, now that they both have teams of thier own? (Not a real good teaser, but I'm not certain how far into this storyline this one chapter will go. It could be the whole thing, it could split into three or four chapters. Somewhere along the line, there will be a lemon, which will be censored on the ffnet version, but I can't say for certain yet whether that'll be next chapter or not)