Chapter 8

Author's note: Alright people! Thanks for the reviews and follows! I can't put into words how pleased I am that people are like, begging, for updates. Brebre74874, your request is sort of impossible as I don't have a lot of free time. CW, perhaps I will do that somewhere down the line, but not now. Elder Sibling, sorry to let you down. Zubhanwc3, I will get to that once I am past chunin exams. Arc09 and Lord Halcyon, thank you for your words. Onto the story!

P. S: There will be no update for next week as I have my exams to concentrate on. The week after that, updates will resume as usual.

"Welcome to the wonderful world of D-ranks."

Naruto was starting to hate those words by now. It had been two weeks since the bell test had taken place. Kakashi had kept to his promise and started taking missions for the team the day after.

Only Naruto, and by extension his teammates, refused to believe whatever they were doing were missions.

Menial tasks such as fixing fences, taking dogs out for walks, manual labor on farms…Naruto was confused as hell as to how these tasks could be labeled in the same category as missions. He was sure Sasuke and Sakura were too.

Speaking of which, Sasuke had started asking questions about how Naruto knew wind and water ninjutsu, his taijutsu style. He even had the nerve to demand from him all the jutsu he knew. Naruto had told him in no uncertain terms that unless Sasuke was willing to share jutsu from his own repertoire, Naruto had no intention of telling him what he wanted to know.

Of course, Sasuke refused to share any jutsu of his, believing that they were Uchiha clan jutsu and as such, no one besides him could know. Naruto had scoffed at that, but Kurama had straight out burst laughing. The great beast had told him he knew at least twenty people who could perform the great fireball, only two of which were Uchiha.

Naruto had smartly countered that argument by toeing the line that was Uchiha Sasuke's pride. He had condescendingly asked if the great Uchiha library was not enough for him. Sasuke did not want to admit that he could not access it without his sharingan and he honestly believed all jutsus available outside were weak and so, did not bother to learn them.

He stopped bugging Naruto after that, much to the blonde's relief. However, Sakura had started bugging him on Sasuke's behalf to get him to hand over the jutsus, saying that a loser like him does not deserve them. Naruto was quick in shutting her up, turning her own argument against her.

He had smartly questioned her if she was implying he was weak. Sakura, unaware of what she was putting her foot into, scoffed and replied that she was not implying, she knew he was weak. After that, everything went smooth like butter.

Naruto replied that if he was weak, then by extension, the jutsu he used were also weak. And Sasuke wouldn't love Sakura if she handed him weak jutsus, right?

Sakura had adopted a worried frown at his question and seemed to come to the conclusion that he was right. She did not once question why Naruto accepted himself as weak, which was opposite of what he had displayed in the bell test. Regardless, after mocking him some more, she went back to Sasuke, who ignored her as usual.

Kakashi-sensei was also onto him, but he was a lot more cautious in his approach. He subtly framed his statements such that Naruto would have difficulty in avoiding the correct answer. But Naruto knew that if it got out he had received training from an early age, Sasuke might throw one of his tantrums, which would then result in the civilian council removing him from the ninja program.

No thank you.

Naruto, while subtle talking was not one of his strengths, decided that he would avoid talking to Kakashi outside of missions and training.

Speaking of training, Naruto tried out the taijutsu simulation his father left for him. Needless to say, he was excited as hell when he fought the first level. And he was more than surprised at how difficult it was. He may have reached a level in his resistance seals that actually permits him to try all seven levels, but only the first level's victory came at the cost of some very impressive bruises. It taught Naruto that his taijutsu, while very good, was not good enough. He increased the resistance on his body, believing if he was faster, he would be better

He tried the second level after a week and was pleased to note that the number of bruises he got were significantly less. A sign of improvement; he also learned a water and a lightning jutsu as well. A very interesting thing he learned about his red lightning was that it was very versatile and easy to use. He could mold it into anything with ease, almost like it was an extension of his body.

But enough of that. Right now, they were on a mission. A mission Naruto had absolutely no problem in failing.

The mission to capture Tora, the feudal lord's wife's cat.

It was a mission that always managed to give Naruto goosebumps. He could swear on his ramen that the old man was a sadist. He could see the joy at their pain in his eyes every time the mission to capture the blasted cat was handed out.

So far they had already caught it five times. This was the sixth. And he was ready to tear his hair out.

"This is Kakashi, everyone copy?"

"Sakura here, copy."

"Sasuke here, copy."

"Naruto here, copy."

"Does everyone have eyes on target?"

Naruto responded, "I have clear eyes on target. Just waiting for the go."

"Alright, go!"

A flash step later and Naruto had Tora secured in his arms. She was thrashing around, but he could care less. "Got him, Kakashi-sensei!" Turning to the cat, he pressed to fingers onto the cat's forehead and removed them, revealing a kanji for 'sleep'. Tora fell asleep instantly.

His teammates landed beside him, irritated expressions on their face which Kakashi expertly ignored and asked Naruto through radio, "Does it have the red ribbon on the right ear?"

Surprisingly, it was Sakura who replied, "Yes, red ribbon is there! Can we go now?!" Naruto couldn't fault her for being so infuriated. He looked over to Sasuke and saw him return to his normal brooding expression, but his clenched fists told otherwise.

Kakashi landed beside his team, eye scrunched up in that annoying eye smile of his. "Well done team 7! Capturing Tora is a success!" Naruto quietly mumbled, "Again." He seriously wanted to start doing actual missions.

XXXXXXX

After they returned to the mission hall, Kakashi asked for another D-ranked mission, much to his team's protests.

The Sandaime scrolled through the missions, "Hm, let's see….. There is a fence that needs painting, weeding to be done, dogs to be walked-"

"How about a real mission this time, jiji? Like a C-rank?" he asked the Hokage, tired of doing the chores these people called 'missions'.

Sakura was quick to scold Naruto, "Naruto! Show respect to Hokage-sama!" Surprisingly, she didn't try to hit him. Must have scared her back there, he mused.

"Naruto!" Iruka spoke with a frown, "You can't demand missions like that! Genin teams have to do D-rank missions for two to three months before they get qualified for C-ranks! And even then their jonin sensei-"

Hiruzen cut Iruka off with a gentle chuckle, "It's ok, Sakura-chan. He has called me that ever since he was little."

Sakura's eyes widened a bit in surprise as did Sasuke's. They didn't know Naruto was so close to the Hokage to the extent of calling the man a grandfather figure.

Hiruzen turned towards Kakashi, "Kakashi, do you think your team is ready for a C-rank mission?"

Kakashi thought about it a bit. Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura's teamwork had progressed at a slow rate, but he can say that their teamwork had become decent. One development worth mentioning was that Sasuke now held a one sided rivalry with Naruto. With Naruto starting to hide less of his abilities, it became even more clearer that he had Sasuke outmatched in ninjutsu because of his wider repertoire of jutsus, not to mention that Naruto had shown he could use three elements and had monstrous chakra reserves due to being a jinchuriki and an Uzumaki, easily dwarfing Sasuke's reserves. Fuinjutsu already gave Naruto an edge that Kakashi knew Sasuke would not be able to match.

The jonin suspected Naruto was hiding a lot more, but didn't call him out on it. He kept a close eye on Naruto during the D-ranks, but Naruto held his edge. He didn't give the two boys any chance to spar, knowing that because of Sasuke's inability to accept someone, especially Naruto, was stronger than him would cause the spar to escalate into something much serious. Kakashi was not dumb enough to take that chance.

Anyway, Naruto had unintentionally become Sasuke's reason to get stronger. Kakashi reasoned that Sasuke held his brother, Itachi, in a much higher position than Naruto and wanted to become stronger than Naruto, so he could finally kill him. Another positive development was that Sasuke didn't completely alienate himself from his teammates. He held a strange… companionship with Naruto, deeming the boy tolerable. Maybe it was because Naruto had metamorphically extended a hand of friendship towards the lone Uchiha by displaying a bit of what he was capable of, and Sasuke respected those who had power.

Taking all of this into consideration, Kakashi finally spoke, "Hai, I believe they are ready, Hokage-sama."

All three genin had different reactions to this. Sakura sighed in relief, not wanting to do D-ranks anymore. Naruto pumped his fist, exclaiming "Yes! Finally!" Even Sasuke smirked a bit. He felt doing D-ranks held him back from getting stronger. Maybe getting some real world experience like encountering bandits and foreign shinobi would make him stronger, he mused.

Hiruzen nodded and browsed through the pile in front of him, "Let's see. Hmm…. Found it. Simple escort and protection mission to wave country. Your client is a bridge builder named Tazuna who wants you to protect him until he completes building his bridge in wave."

Kakashi took the scroll, "Mission accepted, Hokage-sama."

Hokage then turned to Iruka, "Send Tazuna inside."

Iruka nodded and went out of the room, returning two minutes later with an old man wearing a straw hat and holding a bottle which obviously contained alcohol. Naruto wrinkled his nose, the odor was not pleasant at all.

Tazuna looked at the team of genin and slurred, "These are the brats that are supposed to protect me? I paid for real ninja protection!"

"Funny of you to say that, considering you didn't even notice me move", a voice came from behind him. Tazuna whipped around with wide eyes, but couldn't spot the owner of the voice.

"Over here, you drunkard", the same voice drawled, making the man whip around again, eyes locking onto a mop of blonde hair. Intense blue eyes stared back at him, silently mocking him and his earlier statement.

Kakashi intervened before Naruto could scare Tazuna even more, "Naruto, please don't scare the client", he reprimanded in his usual lazy voice, which didn't sound like a reprimand at all.

"Kakashi-sensei, you're no fun at all", Naruto sighed despondently, walking back to his place beside Sasuke.

Kakashi assured the builder, "You have nothing to be afraid of, Tazuna-san. My genin are among some of the best upcoming ninjas of this village. We can easily take care of a few bandits."

Instead of making the man relax, Tazuna tensed up a bit at the word 'Bandits'. Naruto narrowed his eyes a bit at that. Protection from a jonin would be enough to make anyone relax, so Tazuna tensing up didn't make sense.

'He's hiding, or more probably, withholding some information, Naruto. Be on your guard', Kurama advised. He too, noticed Tazuna's tensing up.

'Will do, Kurama', Naruto replied before turning to Kakashi, excitement on his face. "When are we leaving, Kakashi-sensei?" he eagerly asked.

"We will leave tomorrow morning at seven", he answered. He then lazily waved them away, "That's all for today. Take full rest for tomorrow."

The genin dispersed to do their own thing for the remainder of the day. Naruto and Sasuke went separate ways to do their own training while Sakura headed home.

XXXXXXX

Naruto headed to the abandoned Senju compound, more specifically the Nidaime's library. He figured that this C-rank might take them two to three weeks, so he might as well collect two jutsu scrolls to learn in the meantime. Browsing he picked up a Suiton and a Fuuton scroll.

Suiton: Suidanha (Water style: Water severing wave) was a powerful A-rank jutsu. After infusing chakra in your stomach and then converting it to water, the user spit the water out in highly pressurized, razor sharp jets of water, sharp enough to cleanly cut through rock and barks of thick trees if used perfectly.

Naruto was pleased to note that like all Suiton jutsus he had learned from the library until now, this one had two types of learning as well. One for a normal water user, another for a user who had extremely high affinity like Tobirama, who could perform the most complex water techniques with only one hand seal.

Fuuton: Kaze gyorai no jutsu (Wind style: Wind torpedo technique). A powerful C-rank jutsu that Tobirama himself created keeping explosive tags in mind. 'I'm starting to think our esteemed Nidaime was a man obsessed with explosives', he thought as he read on how to perform the jutsu.

After infusing wind chakra in your lungs, it is expelled as a highly explosive ball of wind, near invisible. Upon contact, it will explode with the force of two standard explosive tags. It required three hand seals of Ox-Horse-Snake.

"Should be enough to last this mission", he mused as he exited the library. Extending his senses, he checked if anyone was nearby. Finding no one, he shrugged and simply flashed into his apartment.

He had no idea what he was in for in this mission.

Author's note: Hey readers! Sorry for missing my weekly update. You see, I was in middle of a medical crisis and needed immediate attention. Axodus, thank you for your concern. I am quite alright now. Girrr, please calm down. For the guest who said I would cringe at my own story when reading it in the future, I have only one thing to say. We fanfic writers are working hard to deliver, so unless you have written a story that has more followers than mine or any other writer on the website, you have no right to call my story a dump. And fuck you, by the way.

That's all, and updates will resume as usual.

P.S: Sorry for the short update.