Look up Tell me no Lies by Nugar. Also look up Fuujinroku by Daneel Rush. Also look up Every Demon Bleeds Black by Pridefall. Look up Tales from the House of the Moon by Resmiranda and Dead Famous by Rozefire. These are my most respected Authors and their stories.

-)(-

The next day Naruto started off with a workout, again leaving clones to practice various Energy exercises. He also left clones sorting through his new collection of needles and poisons, the poisons were a pretty basic selection he got from the Ninja stores in Konoha, they weren't nearly as strong as Sasori's, but he mixed them up and applied them, he would keep Sasori's for special occasions, or until he could make more.

He also left some clones practising throwing the needles, it was a lot harder than throwing knives, something he prided himself on, his star throwing wasn't very good, which was unfortunate since they took up less space.

After his workout Naruto set off for a run again, though this time he sent out twenty clones straight away to help him search.

It took him twenty minutes before he found someone, he found Kurenai and her team in one of the training grounds doing team tactics drills. Kurenai was stood to the side maintaining illusory opponents for them to fight. He guessed Hinata was purposefully letting them affect her since her eyes were supposed to be able to see through illusions.

"Hey guys!" Everyone stopped what they were doing, which looked odd to Naruto since they had been attacking thin air to his eyes. Naruto ran straight up to Kurenai waving the note Tsunade had given him. "Look, I got permission, so you can help me now right?"

Kurenai, puzzled, took a look at the note. "Naruto, this is from Lady Tsunade." Naruto nodded eagerly. "I'm sorry but it was not about that kind of permission. Kakashi is a respected comrade, it would be wrong of me to teach his student without his consent, I'm sorry." Kurenai handed the note back to Naruto.

"Ah come on! Kakashi only ever taught me one thing." Naruto held a finger up to emphasise the point. "He only taught me that because he was teaching Sasuke and Sakura the same thing, so I'm not really his student at all, so that means you can help me. Look it says here." Naruto pointed to the note, then began reading it. "'To whichever Jounin Naruto asks, you have full permission' Full permission, see?! 'full permission to help him with his training. -Tsunade' See? Come on, please?"

Kurenai sighed. "Fine, take a break for a moment team." her three students nodded but took their break suspiciously close to where they were talking. "Okay, do you know what affinity you have? It's always best to start with that.

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Yeah! Yeah, I'm Wind natured."

Kurenais eyebrows rose in surprise. "Wind, wow. That's very rare in the Leaf, in fact I only know of one Ninja who uses Wind natured Energies." Naruto deflated. "Don't worry Naruto, that happens to be Asuma."

"Really? The Smoke stack?! Awesome! Do you know where I can find him?"

Kurenai grimmaced slightly at the nickname but let it go, if Asuma took offence he could deal with it himself. "I think he's doing team drills as well today, you can probably find him in a training grounds, though I couldn't tell you which one."

"Alright! Thanks!"

Naruto made to leave but paused. "Wow, he doesn't like being called Smoke stack..." Naruto held his head for a moment as he integrated the memories he had gained from Asuma, before the Jounin had smacked his clone for the nickname, dispelling it."

"What do you mean, Naruto?"

"Huh? Oh, one of my clones ran into him, he couldn't really help, I already found out everything he said, but at least he tried to help, makes a change!"

Naruto turned to where Hinata, Kiba and Shino were situated, obviously waiting for Naruto to be done so they could get back to their training. "Hey, sorry for interrupting your training guys."

Shino merely nodded but Kiba had something to say. "It's alright I guess you need all the help you can get eh, right Akamaru?" His companion barked in agreement.

Naruto nodded grinning, completely missing that he had been insulted. "Right. Hey, if you guys want to fight some solid opponents I've got a load of clones training in grounds fourteen. Head over for a spar if you want? I'll be there so I can always make more."

"T-Thank you, Naruto." Hinata stuttered, blushing red.

"No problems Hinata, Cya later guys!" With that Naruto raced off.

Kurenai turned to her team. "Okay well, want to continue what we were doing or do you want to go and take Naruto up on his offer?"

Kiba was the first to respond, as usual. "Yea, let's go kick some Narutos asses!" Shino nodded and Hinata fumbled with her fingers.

"Okay then, to ground fourteen!"

-)(-

"Holy crap! That's a lot of clones!" Kiba announced team eight's presence at grounds fourteen.

Naruto stopped what he was doing, which was exercising, again. "Hey guys! Decided to take me up huh? How many clones you want to fight? Twenty?"

Kiba didn't know what to say, since he didn't want to express his surprise at Naruto's abilities. "I think if you make a big group but only have five fighting my team at any one time, that should keep them on their toes." Kurenai decided.

Before any one on her team could protest Naruto had made what looked like fifty clones, five of which had stepped forward eagerly. "I'm gonna keep up my workout, alright? Try not to move into where my clones are training, ok?" Naruto wandered off to his exercise spot and carried on beore they could answer.

Kiba looked at the rest of his team, who seemed equally shocked as he was by what Naruto was up to, though it was harder to tell with Shino.

"Alright guys, think fast! Here we come!" Team eight had moments to prepare as five Naruto clones charged them.

Team eight was well coordinated, Hinata and Kiba took out clones left and right while Shino covered them and coordinated Kiba with his own swarm, Hinata, with her eyes, could see the entire battle at once so was able to warn her team mates of any surprises coming their way, which happened a lot considering who they were fighting.

Naruto had to stop his exercise more than he had expected to replenish the crowd of clones waiting to charge into battle with them.

After half an hour though his reserves were waning. "Okay, wo there guys. I'm running low here, gonna have to cut it there."

Kurenai smiled, impressed, her entire team looked exhausted. "Thank you, Naruto. You've given my team a very impressive workout. Perhaps one last rush? Why not send all the remaining clones at them?"

"Haha, sure." Naruto cheered. Team eight had only moments to register their situation before twenty grinning clones converged on them.

"Damn you!" Kiba cried as he tornadoed across the training grounds, attempting to cut up as many clones as possible, using their numbers against them.

Naruto sat down, pleased with himself, breathing heavily from both his exertion as well as having depleted his energies so low.

"Hey, I got an idea!" The clone reading Sasori's notes on sealing announced suddenly, waking Naruto from his rest. "Check this out." It pointed to a section in the book, which was gibberish to Naruto. "And this!"

Naruto rubbed the bridge of his nose as he absently punched the clone in the face, dispelling it. The book landed on his lap and he left it there, more focused on the pain in his skull as half the book in his lap was suddenly filtered into his brain all at once. "Ugh, need to find a solution to that."

After taking a few minutes to sort through what his clone had learned, Naruto had to agree with himself, that was a good idea. He made a clone to replace the last and gave it the book on sealing before he made his way to the Fire Shadow Tower. "Got to go guys, I've had a good idea! Bye! Thanks for the training!" Naruto waved at Team eight, who were all collapsed on the floor, except Kurenai, who was just sitting with them.

They all waved, not nearly as enthusiastic as Naruto, too tired to be, however pleased that the source of clones was leaving, they were safe, for now.

-)(-

"Hey Granny! I've got an idea!" Naruto barged into her office surprising the blond woman.

"Agh Naruto, don't do that!"

Chastised but still brimming with enthusiasm, Naruto plowed on. "Sorry. I've been reading about seals! I can't make any yet but you can, right? Well you can stick a marker seal on me and keep a summoning platform with you." Naruto explained by pointing at himself and her. "Then if I get captured or anything, Bam!" Naruto slapped his hands together. "Not captured!"

Tsunade's eyebrow rose, that wasn't a bad idea. Such seals weren't easy but equally they weren't uncommon, they even used them for the Chuunin exams. "Okay, that's a pretty good idea, you'll have to wait for me to draw one up."

Naruto nodded. "Right, also you could make a beacon seal tied to my Chakra network, so it'll tell you if I ever run out of Chakra. Hey I could have one for you too!"

Tsunade nodded. "Okay, that will let me know if I ever need to summon you. Might take a while though, I'm not exactly the best seal artist out there" Tsunade was impressed, perhaps it was especially convenient that Naruto's current go to person for stuff like this was also the best medic on the continent.

"What about the seal on your forehead? That's awesome!"

"Thank you, Naruto but this seal-" Tsunade tapped her forehead. "-took me a long time and a lot of work to create."

"Oh, right. Well if you need any help I'll help! If I can that is..."

"Okay, I'll be sure to ask you if there's anything you can do to help. By the way, what exactly have you been reading on seals to come up with these ideas? I thought you said Jiraiya and Kakashi hadn't taught you anything like that."

Naruto scratched the back of his neck. "Ah well, I guess it's okay to tell you, but you gotta promise not to tell anyone."

"Okay..."

"I got more than that bingo book from Sasori, well, he gave me a load of books. Most of them were his techniques or ideas."

"Ok Naruto. I can see why you don't want anyone to know, the Sand would be in uproar if they found out, but why did he give you such things? Not only were you his enemy but you're the one who killed him." Tsunade watched carefully for any indication that Naruto had not in fact killed Sasori, just in case. There were none, however.

"Yeah, I know. He said it was his vengeance upon the Red Dawn for leading him to ruin, he also said that if I were to become strong enough to defeat them using his teachings that I should announce him as my teacher."

Tsunade nodded. "I see, it makes sense. From the reports and what you've told me he seemed taken with permanence, to the point he even turned himself into a puppet, it's entirely possible he may have lived forever were he never defeated in battle. In this way, he will live on in fame if not in person."

"Oh, I get it now." Naruto said. "There was one other book, journals from his spy network, but I can't figure it out."

"Wait, spy journals, you mean you had something so valuable and kept it hidden? Damn it Naruto!"

"Hey, shut up! It's not valuable at all, it's just loads of locations and numbers, there's no information on anything in there."

Tsunade calmed. "Okay, I'm sorry. Can I see it? I may be able to discern something you haven't from it."

Naruto shrugged. "Be my guest." he pulled out the scroll Sasori had used and unsealed a large worn book from it. "Here you go."

Tsunade opened it to a random page and began reading. Immediately she pinched the bridge of her nose and had to force herself to not scream and Naruto. "Naruto those numbers are dates."

Naruto immediately protested. "No way, see here it says twenty five, there's only twelve months. I already thought of that!"

Tsunade sighed and shook her head. "In the Sand they put the month first, then the day, then the year."

"What the hell? That's stupid, can't they count?"

"Yes, it is illogical, but they do."

"Oh, so how many dates have we missed?"

Tsunade read through the book for a while, skipping pages back and forth. "Ah here we are. It's been a week since you defeated Sasori, that means we've missed..." She ran her finger down the side of one page. "Two meetings. One in Rain country and on a bridge."

Tsunade closed the book and sat back. "We have another week before the next date and it's in fire country. I'm going to give this to Jiraiya, he's already a spymaster, I'm sure he can adapt to include Sasori's spies." Naruto didn't look too happy about Tsunade's suggestion, though he didn't say anything. "You look doubtful. I know Jiraiya's wronged you but he didn't mean to, he's just an idiot and he didn't know what he was doing. With this-" She tapped the book. "-he knows what he's doing. Besides I think he's going to try and make it up to you."

"What do you mean?"

Tsunade smiled. "You'll see, if I'm right that is."

"Okay..."

"One more thing, while you're here."

"Yeah?"

"Have you thought over the promises you've made in the past?"

Naruto's face darkened slightly. "Mostly. Other than my promises to the Old Man and my various declarations along the same lines since then, I've only really made two promises. One was to beat Neji up, which I did. The other was to get Sasuke back." Naruto deflated a little. "I don't really know about that one. I mean, I want him back but only if he's the Sasuke I knew, not the Sasuke who wanted to kill me, who chose to be a monster."

Tsunade nodded gravely. "Due to the exceptional circumstances in his departure, I can swing it either way, depending of course on the circumstances of his retrieval. Personally he reminds me too much of Orochimaru, though perhaps worse in some ways. But I'm willing to let you decide at the moment. That will change though if he makes any aggressive movements towards us."

"Thanks Granny. You're right, at the moment all he's done is run away for power. It's wrong but understandable, if he turns out to be like Orochimaru then he's my enemy."

"That's very mature." Tsunade paused. "No wise cracks..." Naruto chuckled. "How are your sessions with Ino coming?"

Naruto looked puzzled. "Sessions?"

"Yes, Naruto, sessions. Counselling. You can't just go once, healing takes time, it's a process and you're not going through it alone."

"Oh... right. I guess I should find Ino and organise some uh... sessions, then."

"Good. Off you go then, I'll let you know when I've prepared those seals."

"Right, remember to call me if you want help."

"Okay." Tsunade went to carry on with her paperwork. "Wait! It might help if I could have a look at that book on seals."

Naruto turned at her call. "Okay sure, I'll go get it." And with that he was off.

-)(-

In a dank room a bandaged man sat reading a report. His subordinate who had delivered it to him was knelt in his supplicating position, statuesque since he had adopted it.

After reading through the report with his single eye the man hummed to himself in thought. "There are a lot of mentions here to conversations we have no record of." The supplicating Ninja before him bowed lower for a moment.

"I'm sorry, My Lord. A few days ago the boy created a cell of stone inside the office. While inside there was a great deal of chaotic Chakra emanating from it, as well as noise, there was no way to know what was said inside. Also, Jiraiya has been in the village recently."

"Yes, yes I know. You have done well to not let that brat know of your presence, he is insufferably talented in the spying arts." The man sat for a long while before coming to a decision. "Very well, I wish for you to bring the Uzumaki boy to me. I believe your best course would be to attack him and then draw him to my location, I shall be waiting in the Delta safe house. Your name for interactions with the boy shall be Sai."

The boy, christened Sai, nodded. "As you will, My Lord." And disappeared in a splash of Ink. The man continued to sit in silence and near darkness for a few moments. "That damn woman is getting far too close to the demon, she's giving it far too much freedom. For the good of the Great Tree I will step in. The man stood and left the room by foot.

-)(-

Once he left the tower Naruto created a search party of clones to find Ino. He thought about looking for Sakura too, but decided against it. He knew he was just delaying the inevitable but he had not yet fully reconciled the situation for himself, if he could do that before talking to Sakura, it would be a lot easier.

Ino wasn't in her flower shop this time but out training with her team. The clone that found them dispelled and Naruto immediately ran off in their direction. As soon as he arrived he announced his presence, loudly. "Hey guys!"

Shikamaru was rudely awakened, Chouji paused in his munching. Ino paused her training and Asuma ignored the teen, still staring at a Chess board in frustration, he was obviously losing.

"Troublesome..."

"Hi." *munch*

"Naruto! What are you doing here?"

"Actually I was looking for you Ino, got a minute?"

Ino nodded and wiped her forehead. "Sure, what's up?"

Naruto looked at Ino's team before jerking his head to the tree line. Ino shrugged and followed him. "Okay, now you can tell me."

"Granny said I should be having um, sessions." Naruto put the word sessoins in air commas with his hands, as if it were a made up word. "With you, to make sure I'm okay or something."

Ino chose to ignore Naruto's weirdness. "Who's Granny?" She stopped herself from mentioning the fact he was an orphan.

"Tsunade, you know. The Fire Shadow." Ino promptly whacked him on the head. "Oww! What the hell?!"

"You can't call Lady Tsunade 'granny'! Show some respect!"

"What do you mean, I'm not disrespecting her!"

"Yes you are! You're making fun of her age!"

"No I'm not, she's my Granny."

Ino paused. "What?"

"She's my Granny. She doesn't have any real family left so I adopted her, like she adopted Shizune."

"You... adopted Lady Tsunade." Ino rubbed her forehead. "Fine, if she's okay with that, whatever. Still you should show respect in public, so that other people know you're not disrespecting her or her authority."

Naruto scratched his head. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, anyone hearing you call the ruler of this village 'Granny' for apparently no reason will assume you're disrespecting her, like I did. So to other people, or in public, you should call her by her title, okay?"

"Oh... I guess that makes sense. Thanks Ino, it's nice to know these things."

Ino frowned, correctly assuming that nobody had ever bothered to teach him ettiquette. "Well, sorry for hitting you, now what were you saying about sessions?" Ino parodied Naruto's air quotes, though he didn't notice the joke.

"Right, Gra... Lady Tsunade said I should have sessions with you, to make sure I'm okay or something. So can we set something up, is that okay? I don't want to impose."

"That's fine Naruto." She thought for a moment. "How about later today after training?"

"Sure! Thanks Ino." Naruto went to leave when Ino had an idea.

"Hey, Naruto wait up."

Naruto skidded to a stop. "Huh?"

"Well if you want to pay me back, you can train with me for a bit. My team's too lazy and my dad doesn't think I'm ready for our clan's advanced techniques, but I doubt I'll ever be ready at the rate my team trains. You spent ages training with one of the Legendary Three, so you've got to be pretty strong now, right?"

"You'd be surprised." Naruto muttered.

"What?"

"Oh, nothing. Sure, this training ground's pretty big, mind if I move my operation here?"

"Your... what?"

"My training operation, you'll see." Naruto made a Shadow clone and sent it off to his own training grounds to get his clones to dispel except those with books, who would walk to where he was now, and take the book on sealing to Tsunade.

"There we go!" Naruto waited for a few minutes and braced himself. True enough when all his clones dispelled he was hit with days of information all at once. He calmed himself and tried not to think about any of it, just let it settle in.

"Naruto, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I just dispelled a load of clones, give me a minute."

"What do you mean, why would that give you a headache?"

"I've had them training most of the day, so I just got a lot of information."

"Information? Huh? Why would you have clones train?" Ino asked.

"I get their memories, if they want me to get them."

Ino's eyes widened. "No way... you must be super strong by now..."

Naruto shook his head, clearing out the last cobwebs. He blinked a few times before focusing on Ino. "I only found out recently that I could do this with them. Still better late than never."

"Yeah, I guess. Wow, talk about missed opportunities, I remember you could make loads of them when we were younger, how many can you make now?"

Naruto thought about it for a moment. "On my own, somewhere over five hundred." Ino's eyes bugged out. "Of course they don't have much Chakra to play with at that number, and it takes my own a lot longer to return if I have that many out. If I... uh... use help." Naruto pointed to his stomach. "I'm not sure what my limit is. But they come out a bit, um, wild... when I do that, so for training I just use my own."

"Right, so um, how are we going to train together if you're doing all that?"

"Oh don't worry, I'll just send them into the forrest over there to practice, we can fight a few if you want, or I can try to teach you something, though I don't really know that many techniques."

"How about the Shadow Clone?" Ino asked eagerly.

Naruto scratched his head awkwardly. "I dunno, I think I have to ask permission, it's a forbidden technique, I think because of the Chakra requirements. Gr... Lady Tsunade can make like fifty apparently, and maintaining them drains her Chakra, so I'm not sure if it would be a good idea." Ino nodded sadly. "Want me to ask for you?"

"Yeah, please." Naruto made a clone and sent it off to the Fire Shadow Tower.

"Right, let's get this show on the road." Naruto kept his hands together and focused, suddenly the area was filled with copies of Naruto, a sea of orange and blond peppered with black stripes.

"Wow..." Ino looked around in awe.

The army of Naruto's ran off into the forest away from the rest of Team Ten, a few clones stayed behind, looking intently at Ino. "Right, you spar them, as many at a time as you want, so I can see what your fighting style is like, I'm gonna stretch and warm up, okay?"

Ino nodded, focusing on the clones. Naruto suddenly had a thought however. "Wait, hold up."

"What?"

"Your clan technique, the mind thing, you put your mind in a target, right?" Ino nodded. "I think it would be a very bad idea if you ever used that on me." Ino's eyes widened and she nodded slowly. "Also, if a clones memories transfer to me when it dispels, you might go with them, so I think it would be best to avoid anything like that on them as well."

"Alright, I'm glad you thought of that. I'd rather not..." Ino's eyes glanced to Naruto's stomach. "You know."

"Yeah, trust me, I do." Naruto walked to the side and began stretching, so Ino turned to face the group of clones left with her.

"Right." Ino took out a knife. "One at a time to start with I think."

Ino remembered Naruto's sloppy fighting technique from the Academy and her few missions with him when they were younger but she expected he would have improved a lot since then. She wasn't wrong, for the most part.

The clone that attacked moved a lot faster than her, though not faster than she could deal with, Naruto obviously hadn't done any training specifically towards his running speed.

When the clone reached her it went for a punch, obviously expecting her to retaliate with the knife, so being guarded. His form was a lot better than she remembered, but he was still sloppy. Ino brushed the punch aside and slashed for the clones torso, expecting to score a killing strike. She blocked Naruto's other arm with hers but his knee came up at the last second, catching her wrist just before she struck.

Frustrated she Adhered herself to the floor and flowed Chakra into her muscles, something she had become proficient with, she shoved but the clone barely budged. Annoyed she retreated for a moment and analysed her opponent.

"Damn, you're a lot stronger than you look."

Ino smirked. "I have excellent Chakra control, so I can improve my strength a lot."

The clone looked confused. "What do you mean improve your strength?"

Ino paused, stunned and hoping he had just misunderstood. "I mean flowing Chakra through my muscles and bones, making them stronger."

"Wow! You can do that?"

Ino's eyes widened. "You mean... you weren't doing that?" The clone shook his head. "And you were still stronger than me?!"

The clone shrugged. "The Original is stronger, clones don't really have muscles as such... Say could you teach me to do that?"

"Ino smirked. Depends what you teach me."

"Fair enough." With that the clone charged again. This time Ino knew she couldn't take him head on but she also knew she had superior technique to him and that their close range speed was about the same. The clone came in with a low kick, Ino siezed the opportunity, gauged its momentum and hopped over its extended leg. She planted her foot in its face before it even knew it was coming.

She turned to the group of clones. "Your technique needs work. How about two at a time?"

Two Narutos charged in and easily outmatched Ino with their seamless teamwork, but the point was to help Ino so they toned it down to an uphill struggle for the blond bombshell, forcing her to pull out all the stops to keep up and be that extra bit less predictable, more surprising, to take out a clone. Which was of course quickly replaced.

Naruto paused in his warm ups as he got the memory from the first clone Ino defeated. He was confident he could beat Ino in a melee fight because he wouldn't disperse when struck, meaning Ino would have less time to recover, whereas if he got a hit on her he predicted it would hurt a lot more.

What made him pause however was the memory of being mid-spin when suddenly a foot was in his face, or his clones face. That was a serious flaw in his abilities which he hadn't ever seen from top Ninja. Naruto made the assumption that they could use their Chakra sensing abilities to predict movements outside their vision, or some whacky bloodline ability.

Naruto couldn't rely on that however because he had far too much Chakra. It was like listening to whispers in the middle of an explosion, the minute ripples created by everyone elses Chakra in the environment were virtually silent compared to the roaring inferno that was his own Chakra, he could tell that there were people and vaguely where they were, but that was it.

Coming up empty on solutions Naruto decided to employ his newest solution to everything, throw a hundred or so clones at the problem. He decided to pair them up, one fighting blind and one fighting as quietly as possible, which wasn't so quiet on grass. They'd use taps rather than hits, so as to conserve themselves.

On spur of the moment Naruto made another ten clones and sent them to try and figure out some way of using Chakra to walk quietly on stuff.

After only ten minutes of fighting Ino was getting exhausted, she hadn't ever fought at full pace for so long before. She saw the extra Naruto clones run off and start doing weird things, some standing on the spot, staring at one of their feet as they moved it about. Most however pairing up and tapping each other. She disposed of one clone, noting with pride there weren't many left, and spoke to the remaining clone. "Say, what're you doing over there?" The clone jumped back from her before looking, though the others just looked.

The clones all shrugged, but the one she was fighting still was the one to answer. "Eh, dunno. Have to ask the original, maybe he figured something out or had an idea, or a clone had an idea... Only the original gets the memories you see."

Ino slowly wrapped her head around the confusing sentence and nodded. "Okay..."

The clone decided to get back on track. "You look exhausted... finish off this group then rest?"

Ino eyed the remaining ten or so clones with despair, completely sure she couldn't last that long. "Uh, I'm not sure I can..." She didn't get to finish her sentence as the clone plus one, were attacking.

Ino reconciled herself to being angry at Naruto after she woke up from passing out, but the clone shot that idea down. "Come on, you can't expect an enemy who's out to kill you to stop because you're tired."

Huffing and puffing, Ino protested. "But... you've got so much Chakra and stamina, it's... not fair."

The clone smiled. "Well be glad I'm on your side and make the most of it."

Ino grumbled to herself between breaths.

Not long later, the last clone dispersed and Ino fell to the ground instantly, heaving in great gulps of air.

Naruto, having moved on to some calisthenics, took note of this and was proud of her, but he was also a little disappointed. It was entertaining watching a fight he was in from the sidelines as well as experiencing it in flashes, it made working out on his own a lot more pleasurable.

As such, with Ino down for the count he decided to move on to the rest of her team, so he sent a clone over.

Chouji was munching some chips still, though he was sure the bag was a different colour. Asuma seemed to have gained a few levels in agitation and was powering through the last of his current cigarette. Shikamaru appeared to be asleep.

"Hey guys! Ino's uh, resting at the moment. Any of you want to spar? It's good exercise and good practice, you can make kill shots against clones without worries... so?"

Chouji looked at Naruto speculatively, as if considering the proposition. Shikamaru surprised Naruto by replying immediately. "Troublesome."

"Eh, what do you mean?"

"Ugh... you put far too much effort into all this, I'd rather look at clouds."

Naruto stared at Shikamaru for a while longer, he still looked as if he were asleep. "But you're a Ninja, right?" Shikamaru didn't respond. "You go into battles where people try to kill you..." Still nothing. "Well, a true Ninja should win his battles through preparation. Skills, abilities, traps, whatever, all preparation. The most prepared Ninja is most likely to win."

"Most likely?" Asuma enquired, rather impressed by Naruto's speech. "Yeah, if you don't diversify, cover all your weaknesses as well as working up your strengths, then you're more likely to get unlucky and fight someone less prepared, but who just happens to counter all your strengths, so your preparation is nullified." Naruto was thinking about his fight with Sasori, but also Sasori's thoughts on fighting Kakuzu. Also Sasori's thoughts on Uchiha Itachi's eyes.

"Like say an illusionist versus someone with the Sharingan, no chance."

Asuma immediately jumped to Kurenai's defence, even though Naruto didn't actually know she was an illusionist. "That's not entirely true, if skilled enough, an illusionist can overcome the Sharingan's illusion piercing abilities."

Naruto shrugged. "I guess, I'm no expert, but I bet the illusionist has to work so much harder than the Uchiha does, or Kakashi... Anyway, the Sharingan can't see through seals, or traps, if they're obscured by something. Lure them over a seal, boom, literally. Or a poison needle in the foot, bye bye." Naruto mocked an Uchiha falling over with his hands.

Asuma had to concede the point, he even thought about mentioning it to Kurenai, or perhaps sending her in Naruto's direction, let him take her ire.

"So, spar? Chouji? He looked expectantly at the boy, but Chouji seemed to have come to a decision. "Nah, not today Naruto."

Naruto slumped. "Ahh man, no wonder Ino complained, you guys are so boring." Then the clone was hit with inspiration. "How about you Smokestack?"

Immediately incensed, though not willing to show it, Asuma turned his head slowly to regard Naruto. "I'm in the middle of a Chess match, at the moment."

The clone snorted. "Pfft, you're losing. Besides a Ninja should always be prepared, you never know when you might be attacked."

"We're at home, you can't be on the defensive all the time." Asuma countered.

"Well, sort of, we are outside the walls. Easy pickings for a first-strike team."

"If they could defeat our ANBU patrols, I'm not sure what difference I'd make."

"You could run away if you were alert. Bah, you want to spar or what?"

Asuma smiled at getting on Naruto's nerves. "Sure, why not? You're right anyway Shikamaru always beats me in the end." He threw his stub to the floor and stepped on it before pulling out his trench knives.

The clones eyes widened at that. "Ah crap, you're a melee fighter, Jounin melee fighter. You're gonna mince us up, aren't you?" Asuma smiled. "I'm guessing what, four clones at a time? Replacements fast and constantly... hmm... I'm not so sure, We just used a load of Chakra on all those clones, takes a while to come back." The clone pointed to where the other clones were all practising different things, they couldn't see the Chakra control clones from where they were, but they were just walking on stuff with things attached to them.

Asuma deflated a little, having gotten himself pumped up to fight four Naruto's at once, wanting to show off a little, plus the prospect of getting in some good kill-shot practice was rare and welcome.

"Well, I could use some of the red stuff..." The clone pointedly didn't look at Shikamaru or Chouji. "The clones come out a bit more... wild, still good though. I'm sure you can handle it, up to you?"

Asuma grinned a little. "Sure, let's get wild!"

Shikamaru's one eye opened and looked briefly to where his teacher and Naruto were talking before it rolled in its socket and the eyelid closed. "Troublesome."

The clone dispelled and Naruto paused in his calisthenics for a few moments. He then grinned and formed the seal for the Shadow Clone. He paid extra care to suppress the fox's energies from leaking out as he channelled it into the technique. The air around him became a bit heavier with its malevolence but the effect didn't travel far, he hoped it wouldn't reach the boys. At least Ino would understand. Ino who was still collapsed on the floor.

Fifty clones appeared, bit by bit, around Naruto. They all jogged off at once towards Asuma, who was in the middle of the field, away from Ino, and apparently ready for battle.

He had another cigarette in his mouth and he sounded a little funny to Naruto as he talked around it. "Okay, how about we start at two, warm up a little?"

Two Naruto's grinned and charged in. Their attacks were coordinated but Asuma cheated, he dodged one and attacked the other, confident it would dispel before its own attack reached him, he was then free to attack the remaining clone.

"Hmm, you're a bit slow, need to work on your speed. Something like the Body Flicker technique would help you approach your targets, it's exceptionally hard to use as anything other than an entrance technique to a battle however." Asuma puffed a little on his cigarette. "How about four at a time?"

"Hold up, the Body Flicker? What's that? Will you teach me?"

"Sorry, same reason."

"Aha! I got a note off Lady Tsunade, it says you can teach me!"

Asuma groaned. "I could, but it would be disrespectful to Kakashi, he's been a comrade for a long time, I don't want to steal his student from him."

"What, why not? It doesn't matter! I mean, you're not mad at me teaching Ino are you?" The clone paused. "Are you?"

Asuma smiled. "No, it's fine."

"See! Besides, Kakashi's only ever taught me how to walk on walls, that's it! I've learnt more from enemies who I've killed than that. Please?" Naruto whined.

Asuma frowned. "I'm sorry, and if that is the case I have lost a lot of respect for Kakashi, but I'm afraid my answer is the same."

"Damn it!" Four Naruto's attacked then, with a lot more enthusiasm than before. It wasn't long before Asuma lengthened his blades with Wind Energy, surprising the clones and taking out a whole group in a flurish of swipes. He was immediately pressed by another four clones however, who were ready, it turned out to be more costly than helpful as it was hard to maintain and wasn't making his fight especially easier.

Even though Asuma ended up using no outward Chakra techniques, especially nothing requiring hand seals as the slightly feral Narutos kept him pressed too much for him to spare the time, he still defeated them all within five minutes.

Naruto was impressed, he stopped his calisthenics and ran over. "Wow, that was quick. No techniques either, though I bet you were enhancing your strength with your Chakra?"

"Yeah..." Asuma replied slowly.

"I still don't know how to do that, well I only found out it was possible earlier. Can you enhance speed too?"

Asuma nodded, a little shocked at Naruto's performance when considering the clones weren't enhancing themselves in any way and were in fact less physically capable than the original, though not by too much. "Yeah, it's the same thing, really. Keep your muscles tense to block, tense them fast for speed and power, use Chakra to reinforce the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones."

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Right, right. What are tendons and ligaments?"

Asuma fought hard not to sigh in exasperation, knowing Naruto didn't deserve the mild degradation, it probably wasn't his fault. "They connect muscles to bones and bones to bones. Everything needs to be reinforced, if you miss one thing out it will buckle under the increased strain."

"Right got it! So do you just put Chakra there or flow it or mold it somehow or what?"

Asuma frowned. "We're stepping into teacher pupil territory here Naruto."

"Ah come on, I only need you to tell me, I can figure the rest out, please?!"

Asuma sighed and rubbed his forehead tiredly for a few moments. "Fine, I guess we can trade, give me another two hundred clones and we're even."

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Right! Trade, got it!" Naruto went to make the required Shadow Clones.

"Wow, let me explain first, save your Chakra maintaining the clones longer than necessary."

Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Lady Tsunade said that too, but It doesn't really cost anything, I mean my Chakra returns a bit slower but... Hey your call, so how do I do it?"

Asuma chose to think on that little tid bit of information later. "Okay, this requires control more than power. You have to create strands or layers of Chakra in everything. The more strands or layers, the more added strength. Your bones should also be coated in a strong layer, to absorb shocks."

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Right, got it. Wait, how did Fuzzy Brows become so strong that time by unleashing all that Chakra, in the preliminaries three years ago?"

Asuma remembered that battle well. "What he did was something very dangerous, he removed the bodies limitations, his muscles directly absorbed a great deal of Chakra, this allowed them to become stronger but the muscles tore themselves up even as he did it, that's what left him hospitalized for so long, not the attacks Gaara performed at the end, though those certainly didn't help."

Naruto nodded wide eyed. "Wow, so that's it. But wait, I heal fast, so do you think I could do it?"

Asuma shrugged. "Maybe, but unless you heal instantly, it would still disable you, but you'd be back up sooner. In a battle such a technique is a last ditch attack because you're completely defenceless once it's complete." Naruto nodded solemnly. Asuma then whispered. "Especially for you, you can't afford to be left defenceless, you have to at least have the option of escaping. It might be worth learning it for that, but then something like the Body Flicker is probably just as good, if not better."

"Wow, okay. Thanks. I'll get right on it!" Naruto made fifty clones, as he didn't really have the Energy left for more without becoming physically tired, they went off to the side of the field, a little away from the other group, and began practising. "Right, two hundred? Coming up." He then ever so carefully channelled the Fox's energies through his technique, bit by bit rather than all at once as he did with his own Energies. After a minute two hundred clones, give or take, stood around the two. Asuma smirked before disappearing, his image flickering momentarily with distortion, as if it were pulled from different sides, then he was gone.

Narutos, all of them, immediately began looking for him, though they all easily spotted him a few metres away from the pack in a ready stance.

The original immediately shouted. "A Thousand Clones for how you did that!"

Asuma smirked. "I'll think about it, I'm sure you have plenty to work on for now though."

"Screw plenty to work on, I wanna be able to do that! Two thousand!"

Asuma paled a little. 'Two thousand, are you kidding? It would take the majority of our Ninja forces to make that many Shadow Clones, though it is ridiculously Chakra expensive...' "No more trading today Naruto, now come on, five at a time." He took a drag from his cigarette then stubbed it out.

"Fine." Naruto waved his hand about airily and five of the group charged Asuma, Naruto made his way out of the huddle while grumbling. "Stupid no trading... stupid actually moving places, stupid walking, stupid disappear, all flickering, stupid..."

He made his way over to the side so he could see the progress of his clones against Asuma. He began doing a workout, using a transformed clone as a weight. It was less entertaining watching and experiencing the fight as he was losing it. He hadn't been at it long before a completely refreshed Ino came up behind him. "Damn, that was a good workout." She stood next to him and watched the fight with him. "Wow Teach is pretty good, huh?" Naruto nodded. "I've never really seen him in action, is he going full out?"

Naruto looked at her and grinned. He made a seal and suddenly there were six Narutos attacking Asuma. "Let's find out, huh?"

Asuma obviously noticed the change immediately, though there was little he could do about it at that point in time. It took more effort on his part, but he was able to keep pace with the six Narutos attacking him.

"Damn, he's still fine. I don't really want to push my luck... I'm still hopeful on getting him to teach me the body flicker."

"Teach you it? But he hasn't taught me! I'm his student!"

"Eh well, I could teach you..."

"But I was going to get you to teach me the Shadow Clone for the muscle enhancement, I can't think of anything else to trade."

"Ah too late, I managed to weedle out how to do that from Asuma."

"What?! Noo..." Ino despaired, collapsing to the floor in despondency. "It's not fair."

"Wow, don't worry, I'll... wait, I forgot, clone talked to Lady Tsunade, no Shadow Clone for you. But I'll still teach you other stuff if you like."

"What? Why can't I learn it? You learned it when you were like eleven!"

Naruto shrugged. "Apparently you don't have enough Chakra to use it both safely and effectively, you can do one or the other... hey don't glare, her words not mine. Besides, I could make like fifty even back then."

"What?! Fifty! But you said Lady Tsunade could make Fifty, now! She's the Fire Shadow!" She thumped the ground. "It's not fair."

Naruto's expression darkened slightly. "Trust me, it isn't. I'd rather have no Chakra at all than have paid the price I have to get so much."

Ino's head snapped around to stare at Naruto. "Oh god, I'm sorry!"

Naruto smiled and shrugged. "Don't worry, like you said, it's over now."

Ino nodded and smiled, jumping up from the floor. "Well, I'm ready to go home, think I need a shower. Want to come and have a 'session' ?" She paused and sniffed at Naruto. "Hey, you don't smell at all! That's so unfair!" She quickly rounded on Naruto. "Don't give me your sob story crap! You have luscious hair, perfect skin and you've been working out since we got here and you might as well smell of roses, it is NOT fair."

Naruto chuckled. "I've got a pretty sensitive nose you know..."

Ino rounded on him and whacked him. "That's a horrible thing to say!"

"Oww, dammit!" Naruto rubbed his head. "I was going to say you smell fresh."

"Eh? What does that mean?"

"I mean, you were obviously sparkly clean when you got here, you don't smell bad, just active." Naruto rolled his hand in the air, trying to think of what he meant. "It's natural, you know? I mean you smell like a person, and we're people. If you were a rose then..." Naruto's eyes widened and he covered his head. "I mean you're a beautiful flower don't hit me."

Ino giggled. "I get it, thanks, probably."

Naruto grinned. "Right, well, better dispel the clones."

"Why?" Ino asked.

"Eh? I can't really keep them up from long distance, I guess it's 'cause they need maintaining and sending Chakra further is harder. If they were just sat there doing nothing it'd be fine probably." With that he made a seal and braced himself. "I hate this bit..." Then the clones began disappearing ten at a time, energy being released across the field. "Ugh, my head..."

Ino quickly cottoned on, the massive information rush must've caused damage to his brain, if he didn't heal so quickly he probably would've damaged himself permanently by now.

Naruto was bent over slightly cradling his throbbing head when suddenly a cooling wave of relief washed over his entire head. His eyes closed in a flutter and he lost the will to control his muscles. He just flopped to the ground in a boneless heap, though he was woken from the trance as his head rebounded off the dirt. "Oww..." He looked up to see an amused Ino with green energy still emanating from her hand. "You can do Medical Techniques? And you can do that with them?"

Ino nodded while giggling. "Stop laughing, more healing."

"Hehe, get up then,"

"Are you kidding? I'll just collapse again, come on. I'll trade you something for it."

Ino let out a long suffering sigh and knelt down, though she really didn't mind. It was good to use her skills to help someone, plus practice was always good. "You can't trade the Body Flicker since you don't know it yet."

Naruto merely mumbled, eyes shut as Ino smoothed her hand over his scalp, helping blood flow to where energy was needed to finalise the new memories, helping the old blood flow away, soothing damage and relieving any pain.

"How about teaching me the Shadow Clone?"

Naruto mumbled again, less coherently, eyes still shut. His hands looked like they were aiming for some sort of seal but they gave up and fell to the ground again. Ino didn't let up because she knew he wouldn't agree if she did, but he couldn't agree at the moment, so there was no point. As she worked she thought over what she knew of Naruto for something she could get him to teach her, but she came up blank.

When she was sure Naruto was done assimilating his memories she stopped the technique and sat back. "Aww, why'd you stop?"

"You're fine now."

"Yeah, but... so?"

"Come on, get up. We're going back to mine and on the way we're figuring out what you're going to teach me."

Naruto groaned and got up. "Fine, what kind of thing do you want to learn?"

"Hold on." Ino turned to where Asuma was. "I'm off now! Bye Master Asuma!" She turned to where the rest of her team was. "Bye lazy bums!" She turned back to Naruto. "Right where were we? Oh yes. The Shadow Clone."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Of course. Well I don't know any other clone techniques, so let's think of something else."

"Okay well, what other techniques do you know?"

"Um, summoning and the Rasengan."

"The Rasengan?" Ino asked, intrigued.

Since they were still in the training ground Naruto brought his hand up and formed a swirling chaotic sphere of his energies in his palm. The ball hummed with a mild intensity and saturated the air around them with Chakra.

"Wow, that's so cool!"

"Ah I can't really teach you this, it's Jiraiya's technique to give away, not mine. Besides, it requires a lot of energy."

Ino pouted. "Please?" Naruto shook his head. "Fine. Well, I'm guessing you can't just randomly let someone sign your summoning contract so... what else do you know?"

Naruto shrugged. "Maybe I can help with a weakness you have or a flaw in a technique or something?"

Ino thought about berating him for suggesting herself weak but she had overhead his speech to the rest of her team, even over the sound of her laboured breathing at the time. "Well, since I heard your speech earlier, I'm not going to tell you off for that... Hmm..." She put her finger to her lip as she thought. "Well, when I possess people, if I could hurt them while in control it would be great, but the damage carries over to my body, stupid link."

Naruto hummed, that was a pretty big weakness. "Well, you could poison them somehow." Ino nodded eagerly. "I don't know any techniques for making poison from Chakra." Ino deflated. "You could buy poison and make traps to set off on them or find a way of getting a poisoned weapon to them when you've got them."

Ino nodded appreciatively. "Yeah, those are good ideas, I might implement them if I get the chance, I'll think about it, but you're not teaching me anything here, really."

Naruto grumbled. "Fine, well I could teach you a storage seal."

"I know how to store things in seals."

"Aha! But I know one that doesn't need blood. You can put it on your body or something and fill it with weapons or poisons or whatever, if its poisoned maybe put it on a glove, but anyway, you just have to mold your energy a certain way to activate it."

"Wow, that's pretty good. I guess that's what you get for hanging around with a seal master like Jiraiya for so long!"

Naruto looked away. "Eh well, I found this out separately."

"Oh..."

"Anyway, want to learn? It's pretty useful so I think I should get more... whatever that thing you did to my head is called."

"I guess I can manage that, but you have to come to me. I'm not going out of my way to save you a self-inflicted headache." She joked.

"Bah, fine. I'll draw you the precursor seal and show you how to activate it. I'm still working on molding the Chakra to activate it at the moment, so I'll just have to describe how to do it."

"Hah, what good are you!?" Ino joked.

"Pah, even if I could do it, that's all I could've done for you anyway." Naruto defended.

"Oh calm down, I was only joking." Ino giggled.

"Oh..."

As they entered the Leaf Village itself Naruto's head shot round to one side and he peeref intently in one direction for a while. "What is it, Naruto?"

Naruto turned back to her a few moments later. "Nothing, must've imagined it. Come on."

"Okay."

-)(-

On a roof a few buildings away, a boy labeled Sai sighed in relief, his newest target was exceptionally hard to track undetected, not impossible but there had already been close calls.

-)(-

AN: I got a big message from someone unhappy about Naruto's approach to the deleted memories. I'll post my reply here so anyone else with that issue can read it.

Long story short, I didn't want to base my entire fic on bashing everyone and everything. I narrowed down the timing of all these traumas to near after the Kyuubi Attack, so only older characters are possibly implicated, or the faceless civilian mob.

Now, they are not a part of what makes him who he is because they've been permanently removed, even if he found out what happened, he wouldn't have the experience himself first hand.

Also, Tsunade is worried about him wanting to leave the village, because she's stuck there and he's the only reason she went back. So saying something like 'that's mature of you' isn't saying it's the only right option, but putting it above other right options, for her own benefit if not for his. (look underneath the underneath.)

Also, he hasn't really sworn to protect anyone, he was forced to and now that's gone and he's decided to stick around because he's got nowhere else to go that's as safe as the leaf.

Essentially he knows the truth, that the village did things to him that were bad enough to need sealing away, on top of mild brainwashing. I'm just making him more pragmatic about the whole thing, he's not good enough to go it alone yet and he knows it.

About the sipher memory seals. Sarutobi is dead and the one about the Leaf village more deleted overall ideas about the village being bad, so they never stuck. It wouldn't delete any specific memories because the village as a whole could never do something to him, only individuals, which weren't covered by the seal.