Hi there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.
Nidaime no Sairin
Chapter 15 – Meeting with the Devil
It was already late at night as Hiruzen Sarutobi had finalized the amount of paperwork for the day.
The preparations for the Chunin Exam's last phase was well underway with all the invitations already sent and all the dignitaries' attendance confirmation.
Of course, some nobles had their own security detail, so the village had to account for them as well. The list of updated visitors were then set for screening by the Anbu personnel together with the Jonin commander. With that out of the way, Hiruzen only had to accommodate the shinobi visitors from other villages. In this case, so far, only the Kazekage had confirmed their presence. Other shinobi leaders were invited as well, but since there were no Genin from other villages, it was rather obvious that neither Kiri, Kumo or Iwa would come. It would be rather surprising and suspicious, otherwise. Lighting up his pipe, the Sandaime Hokage now took his sweet time relaxing in the dark confines of his office, taking advantage of the full moon outside. Normally, the entire building would be lit up, but sometimes the old war veteran Hokage preferred it this way.
'Well, with lights on, people would invite themselves in and it's rather late to indulge someone tonight'
Of course, the old man wouldn't be called the Professor if his senses were dulled, just because he was inside his own office, surrounded by his personal Anbu detail. Hence why he couldn't help but chuckle while puffing on his pipe.
"To believe that not one but two of my students would suddenly find the urge to revisit their own home…" A couple of the Anbu hidden in the shadows looked at one another, wondering what was going on, before a chuckle alerted them.
"I don't know what you're talking about old man, all I'm interested in is keeping my research updated for my books."
The Hokage just smiled in acknowledgement, before looking at the sudden appearance by his office window. A man with long white hair tied in a ponytail, wearing a short green shirt kimono and matching pants, under which he wore mesh armor that is visible at his wrists and ankles. He also wore hand guards, a black belt, traditional Japanese wooden sandals and a red haori with two yellow circles on each side. A giant scroll strapped on his back completed the appearance of the Sannin Jiraiya. His sudden and subtle appearance inside one of the most guarded places of Konoha, made everyone on edge, but the Anbu detail relaxed once they knew who this person was.
"I see, well I'm glad you warned me beforehand. At the very least, I will know to expect the increase in the list of complaints from the female population." His student chuckled and crossed his arms.
"I wonder why you bothered having your shinobi to search for me, sensei." The old man Hokage puffed more of his pipe, before getting off his chair and approaching the window of his office.
"The reason for that is quite clear, Jiraiya, as I'm sure you are aware." Jiraiya chuckled and placed his hands on his waist. "As of right now, it's unclear what Orochimaru intends on doing. The village is hosting the Chunin Exams and can't really afford to be on the lookout for an S-ranked criminal, lurking within our streets. Which is why I wish for you to stay put for now. The spy network could be set aside for this short while." The white-haired Sannin grunted at the order…perhaps the first order in quite a while, but he acquiesced in the end.
"Huh, understood. I guess I can take the time and check on Konoha's onsens to pass the time." Hiruzen chuckled at that.
"I'd guess it's quite a troublesome task for you, huh." Both senior shinobi laughed at that, until Jiraiya decided to change the subject.
"How is he doing?" Hiruzen smirked at that, he was actually wishing that Jiraiya had not taken this long to broach the subject.
"Oh, deciding to check up on him, out of the blue…as to why the sudden interest, I wonder." Jiraiya frowned at the sudden jab, but didn't comment, as Hiruzen continued. "He is doing quite well, it seems. Young Naruto-kun has displayed such an amazing set of skills these last few months. The Jonin sensei are actually fighting between themselves to become a part of his education. It was quite surprising to me too. If he continues on this path, I wouldn't be surprised if he received the Chunin promotion on his first try." Jiraiya whistled in recognition at the old man's praise for the kid.
"Well, he has good genes, after all. I do wonder if it's time to introduce myself to him and see for myself this progress. Perhaps, teach him a thing or two." The old man Hokage frowned, looking at his student with accusatory eyes.
"It's never too late to take responsibility, Jiraiya."
"Don't go there, sensei." The surly response wasn't surprising. The Sannin Jiraiya was known for his philandering ways and a goof in many ways. But the Hokage knew his student had more depth than that. While it couldn't be said that it was merely a front, it ended up escalating after the death of the Yondaime Hokage. Hiruzen knew his student's pain, he knew it too well. In the past, he would have pushed further. But, he had learned to restrain his mouth regarding his student's traumas…all of them. To this day, all three of them were still dealing with it.
"I won't. Now, allow this old man to go home for the night, Jiraiya. If you do try to peek at women, do be subtle about it, you know, as a favor to me."
"I can't promise that!" The Hokage just laughed at Jiraiya's now more upbeat response, knowing that Jiraiya could sneak up anywhere in the elemental nations without most shinobi catching up.
It just so happens that the perverted Sannin enjoyed being caught, especially by gorgeous women.
A week has passed since the end of the second phase of the Chunin exams and Naruto had opted to take camp inside the cave where he first met his mentor.
He had heard from Kurenai that she had managed to find a kenjutsu specialist for him, but this so-called specialist would only be able to tutor him, in a couple of weeks and for a limited amount of time, which suited Naruto just fine. To receive tutorship by an Anbu was exciting enough for him. Also, he had his own set of goals to finalize by that time, namely a new suiton technique and further improve the level of his suiton control. Reaching the Nidaime's level would take him perhaps many years, despite Naruto's constant use of Kage Bunshin to shorten the time needed. What Naruto needed right now were techniques that he could use with the water inside his body. Neji is a fast, close-ranged fighter and won't allow Naruto to use wider-scale ninjutsu. As such, going for quick and precise attacks is preferable.
The Suiton Suidan no Jutsu (Water Release: Water Bullet Technique) not only is easy to perform, but it's a highly versatile technique to use from middle-range.
He had other strategies, but against the Byakugan, those were rather limited. Against Sasuke, Naruto took the opportunity that he wasn't using his Sharingan when the fight began, but Neji won't have that handicap. Genjutsu and even fuuinjutsu would be useless for him. The Nidaime's scroll had a very nasty Genjutsu for Naruto to learn, but it required almost perfect chakra control, not to mention ample time to practice. Locking the enemy inside a perpetual darkness would aid him against Neji, but he wouldn't be able to learn it in one month's time. Regarding Fuinjutsu, Naruto didn't think he would be able to hide it from the Byakugan. He could have tried asking for Hinata's help in this, but his teammate was still recovering from her own fight against Neji.
With this, he had already devised a general strategy to use against Neji, but Naruto was somewhat clueless about what Neji could use against him.
Hinata had already used some of the Hyuga techniques against him, but Neji was more advanced and considered a genius among the clan. So, not only offensive but defense maneuvers needed to be taken care of.
Right now, Naruto was taking a seat in the middle of the lake inside the cave, while extending his chakra throughout the water. Despite doing this exercise for a long time now, every time he closed his eyes, Naruto felt himself practically becoming one with the element. And every time he reached this state it felt like he was being observed by the Nidaime Hokage. The image would be forever engraved in his mind: the stern visage, the constant frown on both his mouth and eyebrows, with his arms crossed and the familiar and nostalgic throat sound that showed his displeasure at one of Naruto's mistakes. Not to mention the constant water whip that was ready to be used the second Naruto made a mistake…and boy were they many, especially in the beginning.
Naruto stopped his exercise as soon as he stopped feeling his legs and he heard his stomach growling.
'Ok, guess it's time for some lunch.'
Opening his eyes and standing up, he turned to see ten clones fighting each other in pairs, while sticking to the slippery cave walls. He had one pair fighting using taijutsu, others with kunai and two pairs with kenjutsu. However, much to his lament, some of the clones started using ninjutsu as well. Sometimes, his clones tended to have a mind of their own and decided not to play by the rules. So, before they could destroy this sacred place, Naruto ended up releasing all of them. Sorting the gathered memory and experience from the clones, Naruto then walked outside the cave, before covering his eyes at the strong sun that suddenly reached him.
There was a nice little stream of water nearby where Naruto could find some fish for lunch.
However, the blond was surprised when he heard four different sets of voices nearby. Three of them were easily enough to spot as he saw what appeared to be three women bathing together while throwing water at each other. The fourth sound was better described as giggling and it was coming from a small forest close to the water stream where Naruto would fish and where the women were bathing. The Genin became curious and walked closer to the sound, until he found what appeared to be an old man crouched behind some bushes, using a monocular. From the direction the old geezer was looking, it was clear that he was ogling at the three women.
"Oi Ojiisan, what are you doing?" The long white-haired man, though, didn't stop giggling and mumbling some incoherent words, probably about the three women bathing.
"Oi, I'm talking to you." This time, Naruto poked this strange man on his right shoulder, and he received a dismissive wave in return.
"Scram it kid, can't you see that I'm busy?" A small tick appeared on Naruto's forehead, but he reigned in his temper. His stomach was complaining too much and Naruto sometimes got cranky when he was hungry. Still, he had decided to ignore the perverted old man, before going back to the water stream and walking on top of the water, ignoring the women staring at him in awe at the display. In no time, Naruto got five fishes for himself and then gathered some wood for the fire. While waiting for his lunch to cook, Naruto took a seat close to the fire, while taking some time off from his training. It was nice sometimes to allow his body to cool off for a while after a gruesome training session. So, once the smell of cooked fish hit his nostrils, Naruto grabbed the first one and started eating.
By the third fish, Naruto saw the same old man from before standing next to him.
"That's some nice fish you got there gaki, mind sharing one?" Naruto was still chewing on this third fish as he looked at the stranger. By looks alone, Naruto was clueless about who this old man was. He had a headband alright, meaning he was a shinobi, but he didn't recognize a hidden village with the 'oil' symbol. Also, based on his sensor skills, it was quite obvious that this man was high Jonin level, dare Naruto say that this guy was on par with the Sandaime, which was quite frightening. Though, the Genin at least attempted to hide his surprise.
"I thought you were busy ogling at those women, but sure help yourself." Jiraiya simply smirked and took a seat next to Naruto, before picking up one of the fish still being cooked.
"I was indeed, checking them for my research."
Naruto took the last fish and finished it quickly before this strange old man grabbed the last one, while ruminating about the next part of his own training, not much inclined into keeping a conversation with a stranger. Jiraiya, for his part, kept on eating his fish, subtly observing the quiet blond in the meantime. While the Sannin didn't bother checking on him much these last few years, Jiraiya did remember that the kid was quite the hyperactive one in the academy. Naruto, then, realized that the old man was looking at him.
"So, ah, I don't think I've ever seen you around. You must be a shinobi based on that headband and the scroll on your back." Jiraiya also remembered Naruto being more aloof in the academy and not as attentive on details like this. The Sandaime did say that Naruto has improved. Naruto then saw the strange man behave even more strangely if possible, standing up and forming a kabuki pose.
"Huh, I am not just a shinobi kid. I am the shinobi. The high and mighty gama Sannin, Jiraiya!"
Jiraiya was counting on various possible reactions based on his boisterous introduction. However, when Naruto just blinked twice unimpressed, before staring at Jiraiya, the Gama Sannin stopped posing and awkwardly cleared his throat. Naruto, for his part, became quite confused. If he was speaking the truth about being one of the Sannin, then Naruto truly wondered if all the Sannin were this weird. Since he didn't get to meet Orochimaru, Jiraiya was actually the first Sannin he laid his eyes on.
"Ah, are all the Sannin like you, then?" Jiraiya snorted at the comparison.
"No, I am one of a kind!"
"I see, well, it's nice meeting you. I will have to get back to my training now." Naruto bowed slightly in respect and then turned his back on Jiraiya, but the Sannin quickly appeared in front of Naruto.
"Wow there, what's the rush? I didn't even get your name, kid."
"Oh right, sorry, Uzumaki Naruto. Now excuse me…" Jiraiya just placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder before the Genin tried to turn again.
"There you go, trying to flee again. So, why are you training so hard for?" Naruto sighed at the strange insistence but decided to humor the old man for a bit. Perhaps after asking his questions, Jiraiya would leave him alone.
"I am training for the Chunin Exam Finals and my first fight is against a Hyuuga one year my senior."
"Oh that's interesting…if you want some pointers, just ask and the Gallant Jiraiya shall provide!"
"You don't need to bother with me, I bet you must have more important things to do, thanks for the offer, though." Once more, Naruto tried leaving, but once more Jiraiya stopped him, this time with a heavy sigh. He didn't believe that Naruto would openly refuse help especially not from him of all people. It kind of stung the perverted Sannin to realize that the Genin just didn't want much to do with him, though he should have realized the consequence of not showing up to check on him much. Still, it couldn't be said that Jiraiya just gave up that easily.
"You know Gaki, many shinobi out there would thank the heavens to be tutored by the one who taught the Yondaime Hokage." This time it got the desired effect as he had finally got the kids attention.
"Wow, seriously. You taught the Yondaime?" Before meeting the Nidaime, Naruto worshipped the Yondaime Hokage.
"Haha, sure did. Now are you interested in me helping you?"
"I guess…it's just that I don't want to focus on something that it would take too long to learn and master. After Hyuga Neji, there are also other fights to plan for." Jiraiya nodded in approval at the kid's concern.
"It's a good thinking indeed to focus on mastering what you already know, instead of trying to learn something new in such a short amount of time. Well, I happen to have a nifty little technique to teach you. It's easy to learn and you can use in plenty of situations." Jiraiya could tell that Naruto's chakra capacity was high enough, which surprised him. Jiraiya at first wanted to teach the kid to use the fox's chakra for this, but it wasn't needed, at least not right now. "It's called Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Summoning Technique)."
Naruto's mouth opened slightly and Jiraiya could have sworn that a little drool came out.
"Really…you are teaching me the Kuchiyose, but you have to have a summoning contract for that, right?" The Sannin was caught by surprise that the kid knew about this technique, before he got to explain what it is.
"Oh you seem to know your stuff kid, interesting. Yes, you need to form a summoning contract with an animal species and through space and time, you summon the animal to aid you through ninjutsu. It just so happens that I have the contract with the toads, just like I gave it to the Yondaime, when he was your age.." The glint in Naruto's eyes at the prospect of having the same contract as the Yondaime was simply too much to pass by.
"So, how do I start?" Jiraiya smiled and sacrificed some blood from his finger, before going through a small sequence of hand seals.
When Jiraiya slammed his hand on the ground, Naruto focused on the written kanji that spread on the floor, before the Sannin was enveloped in smoke. Instantly, Naruto's sensor caught another presence and when the smoke settled, he was in awe when he saw Jiraiya standing on top of a large red toad carrying a scroll on its mouth. The toad's tongue then expanded and the scroll was handed to Naruto.
"Open that scroll and sign your name in blood, Naruto"
The Genin did as instructed and opened it to see many empty slots with only two names written
Naruto did as instructed and opened it to see many slots already signed. Quickly doing as instructed, he bit his finger and signed his name with blood. Jiraiya admitted to being quite enthused about the kid's first attempt. Usually, the Kuchiyose required a considerable amount of chakra just to summon the regular sized toads. For Naruto to for instance summon the giant toads, he would need the aid of the fox's chakra for that. However, there are many toads that Naruto could summon with the chakra he has right now at his disposal.
"Now, perform the hand seal sequence and release a strong amount of chakra at once." The blond Genin looked back at his sensei for the day with a question mark clearly on his face. "What is it, gaki?"
"You said just now...a strong amount of chakra. But could you give me an estimate of the necessary amount. For instance, the amount of a B-ranked ninjutsu would suffice?"
Now, Jiraiya understood why the kid was drawing the attention of the other teachers.
"Wow, that would be a nice amount, yeah, you could use that much and summon a kick-ass toad. Go for it." Naruto nodded and went through the hand seals sequence he saw Jiraiya perform, before slamming his stretched hand on the ground. Just like the white-haired Sannin, an assortment of kanji spread around Naruto's hand, before a sizable smoke erupted around him, making Jiraiya smirk knowingly. Yeah, good genes, indeed. While he didn't know which toad would appear, he knew the kid's first attempt to be successful. When the smoke was released, Jiraiya whistled in great appreciation. Naruto blinked twice at the sudden appearance, before he looked quite ecstatic as well. For as this toad in Jiraiya's mind was similar in appearance to one of his favorites named Gamahiro, though instead of having two swords strapped on its back, this toad carried a single white handle katana sword strapped on a black obi.
And this toad was perhaps the same size as the toad that Jiraiya was standing on right now.
"Wow gaki, are you sure you're just a Genin?" Jiraiya asked in a sincere but baffled question and Naruto couldn't help but scratch his head at the praise. Jiraiya then chuckled at his reaction.
"So you're our new summoner huh…what's your name?" Naruto then turned to the animal next to him and bowed in respect, earning a respectable nod from the animal who crossed its arms.
Plus, the toad's eyes landed on Naruto's own sword as well.
"Ah, Uzumaki Naruto….a pleasure to meet you ah…"
"Call me Gamatsurugi (Sword), a pleasure to meet you as well, Uzumaki Naruto. I see you're a practitioner of the sword. Interesting. Feel free to call me anytime you need assistance." Naruto accepted, before Gamatsurugi released himself back to wherever the toads came from. Jiraiya had also released the toad that carried the scroll and landed safely on the ground, while he observed an introspective Naruto. A chuckle escaped from the perverted Sannin's mouth as he then turned his back on Naruto and was about to leave.
"Ah Jiraiya-sama, I appreciate you teaching me the Kuchiyose…thanks a lot." Jiraiya always prided himself of being a pervert and able to get a rise out of everyone for his perks. However, the genuine expression of appreciation on Naruto's face was too much for Jiraiya. It somewhat made the perverted Sannin remind himself of the Yondaime Hokage. A genius in the making quite like Naruto is and also respectful to others, which is a surprise, considering that, to his knowledge, the kid pretty much had no one to raise him at least not properly.
"Stop with the 'sama' there gaki. Call me Jiraiya and you're welcome. I could give you more if you wish. The night is still young after all." Naruto smiled at the offer and appreciated.
"Wow, this is too much already. But thank you, once more, Jiraiya. I still need to train more."
Jiraiya this time didn't offer any resistance as he saw the kid wave goodbye and run up the water stream, just as the sky turned orange. The Sannin found the kid quite intriguing as he remembered Hiruzen's words the other day about how Naruto was surprising everyone with his abilities. For him to grasp the concept of the kuchiyose so fast means that the kid must have at least a basic to intermediate knowledge of fuinjutsu and space-time ninjutsu. Plus, the fact that Naruto had summoned a warrior toad on his first try showed Jiraiya that the kid has a firm grasp of his own chakra capacity, which was even more surprising. Having not only an abundance of his own chakra, plus the colossal chakra from the Kyuubi no Yoko, meant that the kid would find chakra control to be his dire weakness.
Now, the perverted Sannin found himself quite curious about what else Naruto could do.
'Initially, I was staying because sensei ordered me to, but now I'm actually curious to see the gaki's matches.'
===One week later===
With only two weeks left for the finals, Naruto had opted to change a couple of things in his training regimen.
The reason being that today was the day that Kurenai would introduce him to his kenjutsu tutor, and he figured that keeping his stamina at optimal levels was paramount for a physically demanding training. Just remembering the level of concentration needed to train the art of the sword under the Nidaime was tortuous enough. As such, he now found himself dressed in only his pants as he took a seat on top of Gamatsurugi's head, while both calmly meditated beneath one of the many waterfalls located in the outskirts of the village.
Naruto had often summoned his newfound partner ever since he learned how to summon from Jiraiya.
They would train together as Naruto found out that Gamatsurugi not only was a sword practitioner but a suiton user as well as all toads tends to be.
Hell, he was even able to expel oil from his mouth if needed be, which was quite the tool to have. Despite him not knowing any katon techniques, there was always the nasty explosive tag to use to ignite the oil beam.
'Oh the possibilities!'
As such, right now, as he calmly meditated, Naruto's consciousness slowly drifted from the outside world into the inside world. Ever since he learned this exercise from the Nidaime, Naruto had continuously passed his chakra through each and every chakra coil inside his body. Doing this, allowed him to ease the strain both in his chakra as well as his mind as he focused solely on the feel of his chakra. Right now, there were no Chunin exams, no mission to focus on, no skill he needed to grasp…nothing. Just the continuous and relaxing feeling of passing his chakra throughout his tenketsu. So immersed was him that when Naruto next opened his eyes, he was not at the lake with the waterfall, but rather inside what appeared to be a rather creepy and dark sewage system of some kind with pipes on the walls and water reaching his ankles.
He could see blue energy passing through the pipes at a fast speed. When he touched one of the pipes, familiarity overcame him at the feel of his own chakra.
However, Naruto frowned once he looked at the pipes from the adjacent wall.
There was energy passing through those as well, but it was red not blue.
As soon as he touched the pipes with the red energy, Naruto was surprised to hear a beastly growl nearby.
"What the hell is that?"
The Genin started walking slowly towards the sound as he wondered what could possibly be.
Considering that he is somehow inside his own mind, since he had felt his own chakra, Naruto shuddered to believe this could be what he was thinking.
Despite the Nidaime telling Naruto that he was the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Yoko, this was the first time that Naruto ever came close to knowing just what that precisely entailed. And as he walked through the sewage walls, he then stepped inside a vast room that had an enormous looking cage in the middle. Looking up, he saw the pipes from before going inside the cage as well. His eyes also focused on the single seal parchment that stood in the middle of the cage. He could also hear the heavy growl inside as well and he gulped in fright at the possibility of seeing the very creature that made his life a living hell for the first years of his life. True to his fear, the same red energy appeared inside the cage, followed by long teeth and bloody red eyes that looked at Naruto promising bloody murder.
"Sooo, I finally get to meet my jailer…huh, ever since the Nidaime Hokage told you about me, I truly expected you to appear sooner."
Naruto gasped at the mention of the name, before wondering just how much the fox knows. Truth be told, this was the first time Naruto was having a conversation with someone about the very reason why he had evolved so much. The fox, for his part, merely laughed at the surprise, already knowing deep down about the human being's true nature.
"Huh, what…so you keep on using everyone around you meanwhile you lie to all of them about what truly happened to you three years ago, interesting. No, actually, not interesting, it's quite the very foundation of you humans…to hold on to lies and deceit. Truly makes me hate your species beyond measure." Naruto recovered fast when he heard the accusation coming from the gigantic fox.
"What are you talking about…I don't use anyone, and I certainly did not lie to anyone!" Kyuubi just chuckled at the denial.
"Imbecile, you cannot hide from me, I see through you. Everyone is so surprised and so astonished about your so called growth…your so called skills…huh pathetic. Instead of showing everyone what you can do, you hide it like a worthless human. You complain about the old geezer Hokage for not telling you about me, but you also keep secrets from him…from everyone. So tell me, you still naively believe you don't take advantage of your peers…of your sensei, especially that woman who seems so eager to teach genjutsu to you. And they say I'm the demon."
"I don't use Kurenai-sensei…I helped her save Yakumo after she helped me with genjutsu. So stop with your accusation here."
Naruto was finding this conversation very annoying indeed. True, that Naruto kept his real growth from everyone…but that's what it means to be a shinobi. To reveal everything you can do means ridding the advantage of surprise.
Though, Naruto was finding that perhaps the fox cared little about the workings of the shinobi mindset.
"What's more pathetic is to see your denial, but I actually grew tired of looking at your worthless face, human. Speak your mind, here and now!" Naruto took a step back as the fox started screaming at him now. "What you crave is quite clear….it's what you all crave…you and everyone else. Its power isn't it…you want my chakra to be stronger. You wish to demand I give you my chakra. Come on, human, speak!"
"I don't want anything!" No sooner had Naruto said his piece and quite vigorously, the fox stopped his oppressive nature and turned to look at his jailor more closely.
"Oh! What nonsense are you speaking…I know how much you desire to be strong. You're a fool if you think you can fool me!"
Naruto tried to hold his ground, but this amount of killing intent was at least a hundred times what both the Nidaime and Zabuza could produce combined.
Still, the blond tried holding his own. They were inside his own mind after all.
"I meant what I said, Kyuubi. Everything I conquered I did with my own sweat…my own chakra. Sure, I had help. I won't deny that I did. The Nidaime helped shape my foundation, since the academy wouldn't even bother looking at me! It was thanks to him that I am where I am right now! Without a good foundation, everything else falls apart. And the others helped me as well. Asuma-sensei, Kurenai-sensei, Kosuki-ojisan and even Jiraiya with the summoning just now. It's thanks to them, I am now more complete and thanks to them I am able to grow stronger now, using my own strength from here on out."
This time, human and demon looked at each other's eyes, while the fox growled in defiance at Naruto's words.
Still, Naruto needed to address the elephant in the room, and he did so by looking down as his own image looked back at him from the water reflection.
"I don't know why you are in here or why the Yondaime placed you here…no one so far has decided to explain it to me and, quite frankly, I fear that I won't enjoy it when the truth finally comes, you know. I do know it sucks for you to be trapped here, instead of outside. I also do know and feel the hatred that everyone has for me because of you. I can't say I have all the answers here. I don't even know if you wish for me to use your chakra or not. I don't even know why the hell I was chosen to become your warden!" Kyuubi, this time, only kept his usual growl, while hearing Naruto speak. "As of right now, the best I can say is that I hope that we at least talk about this more often and together come up with something, moving forward."
"Talk…huh, that's precious." Naruto also found himself concurring with an easing smile, despite the situation.
"Hehe, I know it's not much. But at least it's better than me coming in here and demanding your chakra, isn't it?"
"Hardly any better…just by looking at your blue eyes and blond hair makes me want to rip your body to shreds. So, if you don't wish for my power, then begone from my sight."
Before Naruto could even respond, wondering what his eyes and hair color has to do with anything, the fox had thrown him out by force.
When Naruto next opened his eyes, he found himself breathless and he was shaking a bit, much to his own surprise. Another surprise came when he opened his eyes and saw Kurenai-sensei standing close to the shore together with a long purple haired Anbu woman by her side, both of them facing his direction. Deciding to wonder about the conversation he had with the fox for another time, Naruto stood up from Gamatsurugi's head and released the summon after appreciating the help.
Meanwhile, Kurenai and the Anbu were busy conversing amongst each other, as Naruto waved at her from the lake. The Genin crossed the lake in no time and grabbed the top of his blue outfit, before hurling it on top of his shoulder.
"Hi there Naruto, I didn't know you can summon toads." The Genin scratched his head at the accusation laced in Kurenai's words.
"Well, I couldn't until just a week ago when I met Jiraiya. He decided to give me the contract to summon toads." Naruto found it strange that both Kurenai and Yuugao groaned at the mention of the Sannin's name. Little to his knowledge, pretty much every Chunin and above kunoichi had been victimized by the pevert's attempts of peeking. "Why, what's wrong…"
"Nothing…" Kurenai responded with a sigh. "It's just that let's say that his hobbies leave much to be desired and let's leave it at that."
Naruto saw the female Anbu nodding along and then Naruto remembered just how he came to know the Sannin.
"Oh, yeah, when I first saw him, he was peeking at three women bathing and he was giggling…now I understand." Still, the boy caught the trap he ended up falling into when he saw the ire coming from the brunette sensei.
"It was just him peeking, Naruto?" Naruto had quickly raised both hands at Kurenai to appease her. The Anbu was also discreetly raising her own killing intent.
"Wha...no, I didn't do anything. I was training nearby and went to the river when those women were bathing to catch some fishes for lunch. Jiraiya was already there looking at them with his monocular."
"Huh, I will give you the benefit of the doubt for now, just don't follow in Jiraiya-sama's example." Clearing her throat, Kurenai then introduced Naruto to her Anbu friend. "Well, like I promised, I managed to find you a kenjutsu user to tutor you for the exams, though I can't tell you her name as you probably already know why." Naruto nodded and bowed at the female Anbu.
"Yes, I understand, though I kind of recognize the mask and the long purple hair. For what it's worth, I'm sorry for making you guys chase me around the village all those times."
Kurenai looked at the Anbu, surprised to hear a chuckle, followed by her friend's comeback.
"Yeah, it was quite a hassle to chase a nine-year old throughout the village…for sure, I didn't sign into Anbu for this. Though, it was quite irritating when you managed to evade us…evade me on occasion." The Anbu placed both hands on her hips and even inclined her body in a false accusatory mode, though Naruto didn't sense any form of malice coming from her. Kurenai found it quite humorous to see the interaction. Still, it's been a couple of weeks since she last saw him and she could tell that he has been training vigorously.
"Well, once again, I apologize and I appreciate you taking time out of your hefty schedule to help a Genin out."
"Kurenai asked for my help, said that you're quite a gifted student, always eager to learn. Though, I won't be able to accompany you for long, I can still give you some pointers here and there."
"I understand…with the Chunin exams finals approaching, security is a major concern. Though, I don't know how I should address you. Anbu-san, Neko-san, Neko-sensei?"
"Oh Neko-sensei, I like the sound of that. I never had a student before." Kurenai by this point figured that she would leave the pair alone for now, so she bid them goodbye, saying that she needed to meet with Shino in his compound.
"Oh Kurenai-sensei, do you know about Hinata. How are her injuries?" The brunette sensei turned to answer him. Naruto has been training ever since the end of the second phase and felt guilty for not checking on his teammates.
"Yes, she is much better now. She comes to my house quite often nowadays to hang out with Yakumo. We will all cheer for you in the finals, Naruto-kun. So train hard and make us proud."
"Will do. Thank you, Kurenai-sensei." The sensei then bid both Naruto and Yugao goodbye, leaving them alone.
"Okay then Naruto, please put back on your clothes and let us begin…" Naruto muttered a quick apology and Yugao waved him off. "Now, I won't bother trying to imprint a style on you. We don't have much time for that and I don't believe this is what you're looking for. Instead, I will attempt to correct any flaws I see in your movements while we spar. First, show me your ninjato." Naruto, now fully clothed, showed the sword while Yuugao inspected it from the hilt to the tip of the blade. "Okay, good, you take good care of your weapon. That's an important part and I'm pleased that my first student understands that. Now, let's stop wasting both of our time here."
The training ground then became alive with the noise of exertion from both parties and the sound of steel meeting steel as Yuugao focused on Naruto's footing as well as his blade reach, giving him pointers here and there.
===Last week before the Finals===
With one week left for the finals and with Neko back in Anbu coordinating the village security, Naruto now found himself wandering close to the Nara Compound. As he came back to the village, he managed to make a quick visit to Kurenai's house, knowing that Hinata and Yakumo were there as well. He was thrilled to see that she was almost completely healed after her fight with Neji. Hinata had expressed her concerns for Naruto perhaps taking his fight against Neji too far because of Neji's words to her in the second phase.
Even if Naruto had found them distasteful, he was proud of her for giving the elder Hyuga quite the fight.
So, right now, Naruto had stepped inside the Nara's main house and saw his teammate and their sensei locked in a shogi match, much to Naruto's chuckle. So this was Shikamaru's idea of training, in the end.
Not that he was surprised.
"Hi there Shika, Asuma-sensei…" Both players looked away from the shogi board and greeted the blond, before Naruto took a seat close to them. Asuma had made his move, before turning to his other student.
"So Naruto, I trust that your training was fruitful these last three weeks. I had a nice chat with Jiraiya-sama and he gave me much praise about your accomplishments." Naruto chuckled at that, before Shikamaru looked at his friend.
"Wow, Naruto was tutored by Jiraiya of the Sannin?" Shikamaru knew that he would eventually face Naruto if he wins against Temari. Though, if Shika had any doubts that he could win against his teammate…he now firmly believed it would be best to simply withdraw. The Nara brainiac had already thought of various scenarios for this exact battle and in none of those, he could see himself winning.
"I wouldn't say tutored, exactly. He just taught me one technique, that's all. We spent less than a day together." Asuma flinched at the move that Shikamaru made, before addressing Naruto.
"Kurenai-sensei also told me about your other tutor. Oh don't worry, I won't tell to Shikamaru who or what you trained in."
"Don't bother, I will count my blessings by passing the first round." Shikamaru replied, before placing the final piece. "This is my win, Asuma-sensei." The Jonin sensei groaned in displeasure at losing once more.
"Yeah, I guess you did." Naruto laughed, as he saw the Nara yawn after the match and walk inside his house, but not before addressing Naruto.
"Naruto, after you and Asuma-sensei train today, my nagging mother told me to invite you to dinner." The blond Genin nodded.
"Sure thing, tell Yoshino-obasan I will be here for dinner. Thanks." Shikamaru then closed the door, before Asuma got up and gave Naruto one of his trench knives.
"Okay Naruto, for this last week, we shall focus on your wind manipulation. The goal here is to focus both on power and control." Before Naruto asked for more clarification, he gasped once Asuma's own trench knife hummed to life in an explosion of wind chakra. Normally, the wind chakra would only surround the weapon, but right now the energy has grown so much that it resembles more like a sword made of wind. "I will warn you beforehand that this will place great strain on your chakra coils. But for you to learn the more powerful and wider range wind techniques, you will need to get used to this feeling. Now, try to imitate what I'm doing." The blond nodded and then focused wind chakra through the knife he was holding.
Asuma approved as he saw the kid start small and then slowly add more chakra. He could see Naruto flinch and spasm on occasion.
Wind chakra needs constant training and refinement. Like Asuma said, the wind change in chakra nature splits chakra in two and grinds them together. However, adding more power to it, it's easy to lose focus on containment, hence the reason for the pain Naruto was feeling right now. And Asuma smirked at that, knowing about his own bad experiences with it, before getting accustomed to it. Truth be told, the bearded Jonin never did focus on wider-range techniques with futon, but he got the feeling that with Naruto's chakra, his student could become a powerhouse.
"That's it, keep this up Naruto. Try keeping like this for twenty minutes and rest for ten. For my satisfaction, you'll be repeating this cycle at least ten times."
"Wow…Asuma-sensei..ahh….that's kind of a vicious training." Asuma chuckled at the pained expression on his student's.
"Huh, consider it payback for ditching your sensei, now stop complaining." Naruto, despite the pain, managed to sweat drop at the accusation.
"Yeah, well, I deserved that…ahhh!" Asuma waited three weeks for this as he kept quiet while hearing Jiraiya, Kurenai and even Yugao relaying about Naruto's training, praising him through it all.
And since their training was happening close to the Nara compound, the entire Nara family heard it. Shikamaru groaned at his teammate's drive, while he had to listen to his mother saying that she wished that he would have half of Naruto's desire to improve. Meanwhile, Shikamaru's father Shikaku simply snickered both at Naruto for complaining about the pain and Shikamaru for trying to cover his ears while his nagging mother yelling at him.
While Naruto trained his ass off, other Genin were also doing the exact same thing.
Like Kakashi promised, he had focused on training Sakura and has even helped her develop her affinity for doton ninjutsu, while slightly encouraging her to use her perfect chakra control for genjutsu.
Sasuke had even approached them and helped, despite his initial protest of wanting Kakashi to train him as well. The Uchiha still didn't swallow what Naruto did to him by using Sasuke's hatred for his brother against the Uchiha and it took Kakashi some time to explain that Naruto didn't actually use his brother's image, but rather enforced Sasuke's worst nightmare. Still, the Uchiha now wished to have a rematch more than ever with Naruto. Sakura sighed in dismay at that. She wondered what would have happened to Sasuke's ego had Naruto-senpai truly gone all out in that fight.
Neji and Tenten trained together after the Hyuga was healed. At first, Neji felt enraged that Hinata gave him so much trouble, but then he came to his senses. After all, he was pleased that his cousin was taking things seriously.
Despite being a year older, Neji knew not to underestimate his next opponent. Lee was actually the only one who witnessed Naruto's fight against the Uchiha and despite his teammate still in the hospital recuperating from his injuries, Lee had explained with quite the enthusiasm how Naruto had defeated the Uchiha using genjutsu, fuuinjutsu and kenjusu. Neji knew from his cousin how much Naruto influenced herself moving forward. And despite Hinata apologizing to Neji for not betraying her own teammate by saying what he can do, Hinata had an entire list of good things to say about him.
As such, with the exams approaching, the Genin from Konoha felt themselves ready for the next step towards the yearned promotion.
Ok that's about it for now.
In this chapter, I covered not only his training for the Chunin exams, but also the relationships that he is slowly but surely developing. I enjoy writing about his bond with the fox. Those who read my other stories know this. The fox is the only one that truly knows who Naruto Uzumaki is. No one else knows our main character so thoroughly. And though I don't particularly enjoy the grownup Naruto, for reasons I rather don't divulge from fear of earning some name calling, the fox is still one of my favorite characters in the anime (despite how brief that was, for those who knows, I don't want to give spoilers here).
Another thing…I plan on using this story to accommodate all the women that I enjoy writing him with. He will have plenty of interactions with Anko, Yuugao and even Hana on occasion. Sakura and Hinata will also interact with him. But before anyone asks, this won't be a Harem Story. I feel that I need to explain this every time. Naruto will have plenty of interactions with other women, but his pairing will only be with Kurenai. And that will only happen much later in the story.
Thank you everyone for reviewing or adding this story as favorite or following.
Next update: Fate Shadow Spear