Wednesday, October 4, 2006
chapter 18 enjoy
Chapter 18: Lesson In Companionship
Naruto took a bite out of the apple he was eating. There wasn’t much to eat in the training area and he found himself only having some fruit and fish to eat. Luckily for him his impatience with the food would end today since it was the last day of the survival test. The jinchuuriki continued jumping through the trees towards his base.
The past week had certainly been interesting ever since finding the Konohamaru corps on his second day as an examiner. He couldn’t help but laugh at the genins when he found them in the bamboo forest. From the state that the trees were in, he assumed that they had tried to slash their way straight through the maze like jungle. However their plan had backfired with them completely blocking the way out from one side due to the entanglement of the vegetation.
He had taunted the genins to make them pursue him. He had enjoyed that day immensely as he made them give up out of exhaustion. Their game of chase had lasted for over 4 hours before the sun had begun to set. Naruto had decided to head back to camp since it was getting so late but being the kind person he was; he led the Konohamaru corps out of the forest before eventually returning to his base.
Nonetheless his actions weighed heavily on Konohamaru’s mind as the team of rookie genin had once again found him the day after. Naruto was already occupied with another team of leaf-nin when they came to exact revenge upon him. He had gotten out of the predicament by making both teams an offer. Whoever won in a head to head fight would receive Naruto’s scroll. The Konohamaru corps showed great teamwork and it was their familiarity and understanding of each other that helped them win.
Nevertheless, Naruto didn’t give them the scroll seeing as he didn’t believe strength really determined who should become a chuunin. That had really angered Konohamaru who ended up giving a verbal tirade about fairness. Naruto laughed it off and ran away from them once again.
Yesterday, he had set up extra traps in the canyon to add to the 50 or so traps already there. He then went to find the Sarutobi and his team to lure them to his creation. The only problem was that after having looked around the area for 2 hours; he couldn’t find the team anywhere. He ended up going back to his original location in the canyon and sure enough he found the Sarutobi in the midst of his well placed traps. Naruto just ended up laughing at them and leaving to train for the rest of the day.
Luckily for him, he didn’t have many problems with people discovering his training location. He had set up a few clones to patrol and they had got rid of any teams that were getting too close to his base, either by luring them away or engaging them in a fight. As for his fellow examiners, he had only met them on a few occasions. They all still had their scrolls. Kakashi seemed to be interested in the team from Sunagakure whereas Gai was still being targeted by a team of rain-nin. He didn’t know what made the foreign ninja so hostile towards the taijutsu specialist but he was guessing they weren’t happy with whatever Gai had done or suggested to them.
He looked at the sky, where the sun had still to reach the highest point. He needed to hurry up. He wanted to head back to his base and see how the clones were proceeding with the training so he could quickly find the Konohamaru corps. Last he had seen them today, they had tried to ambush him but Naruto quickly turned the tables on them and threw them in the large river. He didn’t know where the current had taken them but he would have to find them and proceed in giving them his final test since time was of the essence.
Jumping through a few more trees he stopped as he felt a rush of information flash through his mind. His eyes widened as he realised what had happened. One of his clones had dispelled himself to inform him of the situation at his base. It looked like the current had sent the Sandaime’s grandson and his team to his training area. They had succeeded in destroying one of his clones. He didn’t see what happened after because that was when the clone dispelled himself. He quickened his pace, “Kuso…what did my clones ever do to you?”
The Kyuubi vessel jumped as fast as he could whilst the seal was active to reach his base. He had a serious demeanour as he saw the end of the forest ahead. Avoiding his traps he jumped past the last tree propelling himself into his base.
He looked towards his clones finding them all circled around something. He counted how many there were and was relieved to find that only one 2 were missing, the one that had been destroyed and the one that had dispelled himself. He walked towards their location hearing screams from in the middle. All the clones moved out of the way on his instruction revealing the Konohamaru corps being held down.
Naruto laughed, “What happened?” He spoke mockingly.
Konohamaru had his arms held behind his back and was lying on his front unable to move, “I’m going to kick your ass Naruto-niichan.”
Naruto waved off the angriness of the genin, “Really? It seems to me you’ve already had your ass kicked.”
Udon spoke to calm down his team leader, “I don’t think it’s wise to make threats. We’re in no position to do so.”
Konohamaru turned his head slightly to glare at his team mate, “Shut up you wimp!”
Naruto laughed at him again which only caused the Sarutobi to become even more incensed, “You should listen to him.”
Moegi who was also incapable of moving attempted to diffuse the situation, “Konohamaru-kun, I’m sure everything will be alright.”
Konohamaru couldn’t believe this. They had been tricked repeatedly by the Uzumaki and he still hadn’t got a chance to test his skills against him. “Fight me, Naruto-niichan. I’m sick of your games.”
His team mates looked on not sure of whether that was a good idea whereas Naruto raised an eyebrow, “You still haven’t learnt.”
Konohamaru had a confused expression, “Huh?”
Naruto shook his head, “Who said I’ve been playing games?” The genin team listened intently as he resumed, “Everything I’ve done so far has been to test you.”
Moegi was the one to ask a question, “What do mean Naruto-niichan?”
“In the bamboo forest, I wanted to see your determination and how strong your will to never give up is. When you fought against the other genin team, I was hoping you would realise that strength isn’t the only requirement to become a chuunin. And the traps at the canyon were to see how well you worked together with your friends. The fact that you remained alive means your trust between each other is strong.”
The Konohamaru corps looked astounded as they hadn’t realised each of their encounters had a hidden meaning behind them. Naruto closed his eyes as he continued speaking, “You did well in two of the tests and totally missed the point in one of them. That isn’t too bad but the most important test is now.”
Naruto nodded to the clone holding Konohamaru down. The clone moved away from the Sarutobi allowing him to move. Naruto turned to the rest of his miniature army, telling them to resume their training only leaving him and the two clones that held Konohamaru’s team mates.
Konohamaru straightened his scarf, “What about Udon and Moegi?”
Naruto smirked before his clones picked up the two genins and held a kunai to their throats. Konohamaru was shocked with the blonde’s actions, “What are you doing?”
Naruto had a serious expression, “This is the final test. Fight me like your teams life depended on it.”
Konohamaru didn’t have time to protest as Naruto instantly appeared next to him punching him in the face. The unsuspecting genin fell a few feet back from the force of the punch as his team mates looked on worried for him.
Konohamaru slowly rose to his feet. He wiped the blood that had begun to protrude from his mouth before looking at the boy he admired. Naruto stood with a stern expression, his usual joking attitude nowhere to be seen. The jinchuuriki spoke calmly, “What’s wrong? You wanted to fight me didn’t you?”
Konohamaru looked on determined, before running towards the blonde. He began to throw punches at Naruto hoping to connect. Naruto dodged the punches making sure he wasn’t hit before he sidestepped the Sarutobi and grabbed his arm. He smirked as he threw him.
Konohamaru was taken by surprise as he felt himself being launched away through the air. He grabbed his scarf before throwing it around Naruto’s neck. The blue scarf took a tight hold around the blonde’s neck as the Sarutobi pulled himself back to land a punch.
Naruto didn’t suspect the scarf to be used in such a way but his shock didn’t last long. He withdrew a kunai quickly slashing the scarf into two pieces. Konohamaru was still heading towards Naruto and threw a punch to his face. Naruto simply turned before kicking him hardly sending him sprawling across the ground.
Naruto formed seals within seconds before calling out, “Katon Hosenka No Jutsu.” Multiple balls of fire were shot from his mouth towards Konohamaru. He looked on anxious to see what the Sarutobi was capable of.
Konohamaru was shocked to see the multiple targets heading towards him. Not having time to do a technique of his own, he began to evade as many as he could. Unfortunately for him, one still managed to strike him on his arm, burning him.
Naruto took out three shuriken and threw them at the distracted shinobi who was now holding his arm gasping in pain. The weapons cut him across his legs making him fall to his knees.
Konohamaru’s body was racked with pain as he struggled to stand. His team mates looked on fearful for their team leader and friend. Naruto folded his arms, “Is that all you have? Is that all you can give for your friends?”
Konohamaru couldn’t believe what was happening. He was being decimated and Naruto wasn’t taking it easy on him at all. He moved his hands to the shuriken embedded in his legs, pulling them out and causing his blood to spatter. He slowly struggled to his feet as he remembered the Sandaime, “I will prove myself worthy.”
Naruto raised an eyebrow as the younger ninja charged him ignoring the pain. Konohamaru put all his strength into his punches as he tried to hit the jinchuuriki. Naruto was inwardly smiling at the younger ninja’s determination. He dodged an oncoming punch before trying to sweep his legs from under him.
Konohamaru jumped up before spinning and trying to land one of his own kicks. Naruto bought his elbow up defending the attack before driving his fist into the Sarutobi’s stomach. Not giving Konohamaru a chance to recover, he grabbed his leg and threw him resounding in a large impact when the 12 year old made contact with the ground.
Naruto looked at the unmoving genin, “I’ve got a proposal for you.”
Konohamaru turned onto his front as he pulled up his knees to help him stand. He faced Naruto, staggering a little. Blood leaked from his nose and mouth, “What kind of proposal?”
Naruto smiled, “I’ll give you the scroll and you’ll make it to the tournament.”
Udon and Moegi’s eyes widened whereas Konohamaru knew there was a catch, “What’s the price?”
Naruto pointed back at his team mates with his thumb, “They won’t make it through, only you.”
Udon looked at his friend to find him staring in the direction of him and Moegi. He cleared his voice before speaking, “Take it.”
Konohamaru’s mouth fell open but he didn’t have time to protest as Moegi spoke, “He’s right. This is more important to you. We’ll always have next year.”
Naruto looked at the younger genin waiting for him to make a decision. Inwardly he was proud of Udon and Moegi and the support they were showing their comrade. All that remained was the Sarutobi’s decision, “Well?”
Konohamaru looked at the ground. Bringing his hand up to his mouth he wiped away the blood. He looked at Naruto, “No…” Naruto stared impassively while Udon and Moegi were astonished by what he had done, “Whoever breaks the rules in the shinobi world is trash…but whoever abandons their friends is worse than trash.” Naruto smiled as he heard the genin, “We got this far as a team and we’ll finish this as a team.”
Naruto stared at the boy he considered a younger brother. He felt content that he understood the importance of friendship. Reaching into his pouch he took out the scroll before throwing it at his feet.
Konohamaru gazed at the still scroll, confused. He was broken from his thoughts as Naruto spoke, “You all pass.”
The Konohamaru corps all had awkward expressions on their faces. Konohamaru addressed the older shinobi, “Why?”
Naruto closed his eyes as he spoke, “As your rank increases so does the responsibility on your shoulders.” He opened his eyes resuming, “If you don’t understand how important it is not to leave your friends behind, what good will you be as a leader on a mission?”
His shadow clones let go of the Konohamaru’s team mates, “Udon and Moegi showed you support even if it meant they wouldn’t get through to the final stage of the exams.” He walked towards them smiling, “It takes courage to be selfless.”
The Konohamaru corps listened to the older shinobi. They had never seen him talk so seriously but their respect for the person they considered as their older brother increased as they listened.
Naruto walked towards Konohamaru, “You wanted to make it to the finals more than anything…You wanted to remind everyone that you are proud to be a Sarutobi…Even though you wanted it so badly, you were willing to let go of your desires for your friends.” He placed his hand on the younger shinobi’s shoulder, “Ojiisan would be proud to have you as his legacy.” Konohamaru looked at Naruto as he finished, “…There isn’t anyone better that could’ve been named after Konoha.”
Konohamaru eyes began to water as he looked at Naruto who had a heart warming smile across his face. Naruto looked at the sky realising the sun was nearing the highest point. “We should go. There isn’t much time left.”
The jinchuuriki dispelled his clones shaking momentarily as all the experience they had attained rushed into him. Fortunately, he had only created 100 clones to train with so he didn’t end up collapsing. He motioned for the Konohamaru corps to follow as he walked away from his momentary base.
Konohamaru stared after his team mates and Naruto as they walked away. He felt happy inside and wiped away the tears from his eyes. His admiration and respect for Naruto had increased to a whole new level and he felt proud that he had met him, ‘You’re wrong Naruto-niichan…there is someone better…you.’
Deidara picked up his cup of sake to drink. Finishing, he placed it back on the table before pulling his hat down trying to cover his face. He stared at his partner who was busy polishing his newly acquired medal.
Their trip to the art exhibition didn’t go as planned. They arrived on time however Deidara, wanting to show off his art, performed a demonstration which the organisers weren’t very fond of. Instead they ended up giving Tobi a medal for “Visiting Art Extraordinaire” due to the design of his mask.
This led to Deidara being infuriated even more than he was originally and destroying the whole exhibition which resulted in the Country of Waterfall knowing of the Akatsuki’s presence and hence sending lots of shinobi after them. The Akatsuki members decided to retreat since they didn’t want to start a war. They ended up returning to the Country of Grass and were currently in a restaurant in one of the many small villages.
Deidara looked at his criminal partner, “Put that damn thing away yeah.”
Tobi looked at him with confusion, “I’m just polishing it.”
Deidara snorted, “You’re attracting unwanted attention.” The blond shifted slightly in his seat.
Tobi didn’t understand and looked past his partner to see a young girl pulling at her mothers dress and pointing at him. Tobi waved at the girl, causing his art appreciating partner to speak, “What the hell are you doing idiot?”
Tobi attached his medal to his cloak before responding, “Nothing.”
Deidara shook his head before he felt someone approaching. He looked from the corner of his eye to see the little girl make her way over to them. His eyes widened before he spoke to Tobi heatedly, “You dumbass, look what you did yeah.”
Tobi ignored him as the girl approached. She stopped at their table before he spoke, “How can I help you?”
Deidara scoffed but remained silent and turned to the side not wanting to include himself. The young girl fidgeted before she spoke in a quiet voice, “I was wondering…if…” She looked directly at the S-class criminal with a smile, “…I could have your mask?”
Deidara nearly fell over as he heard her request while Tobi was taken aback. He couldn’t believe what she had asked; he answered quickly, “No.”
Deidara’s eyes widened but he began to worry when he saw the young girl begin to water up. He knew that they couldn’t afford attention directed towards them. Without thinking he formed one of his clay sculptures in the shape of a swan and gave it to the little girl. “Forget about the crap that he’s wearing. This is much better yeah.”
His insult caused Tobi to point a finger at his medal but the criminal quickly realised the sculpture within the girl’s hands. The girl thanked Deidara before pulling out her tongue at his partner and walking back to her mother merrily.
Deidara left the restaurant whilst Tobi stared at the sculpture stuttering. He rose from his seat running after his partner. He caught up to Deidara, “Sempai…that…she’s just a little girl.”
Deidara waved off his concern, “Don’t worry, it’s normal yeah.”
Tobi sighed before laughing, “I thought you were going to blow up everything again.”
Deidara turned to the eccentric criminal, “Shut up and put on your hat. That crap on your face is causing trouble yeah.”
Tobi once again pointed at his medal which angered the blonde criminal. Deidara ripped the medal of his cloak before throwing it far away, “That medal doesn’t mean anything yeah.”
Tobi stared at his medal flying through the air as he lost sight of it, “NOOOOOO!”
Naruto and the Konohamaru exited the Land of Doom into a plain clearing of grass. The jinchuuriki was surprised to find that there was around 40 shinobi present including the Godaime.
He saw Kakashi standing and reading his book. Turning he spoke to the genin with him, “Hand in your scroll and they’ll tell you what to do next.”
They nodded before making their way over to the chuunins. Naruto walked over to the masked pervert, “Oi, Kakashi-sensei!”
Kakashi looked up from his book and gave a wave, “Yo.”
Naruto folded his arms, “Where’s the rest of the teams? There’s only three here.”
Kakashi continued reading, “They’ve already left since they didn’t get a scroll.”
Naruto nodded acknowledging his response but was cut off from speaking when he heard a cry fill the air, “KAKASHI!”
Naruto nearly fell over as Gai made his way over to the two shinobi. Kakashi turned a page in his special edition of Icha Icha Paradise, unfazed by the large volume of the jounin. Gai stopped in front of his fellow examiners before speaking, “I am here in all my beauty, and confident that my blistering fire of youth has helped me win our challenge.”
Naruto shook his head not understanding what he had said whereas Kakashi ignored him preferring to read his book. Gai smiled, “How long were you able to hold your scrolls my comrades?”
Naruto scratched his head, “Well I passed mine on about 10 minutes ago.”
Kakashi sighed before speaking unemotionally, “Guess that means I lost since I gave mine to the team from Sunagakure this morning.”
Silence passed over the three shinobi as no one spoke. Gai, still smiling, broke the peace, “Is no one going to ask my youthful self?” he continued not giving them a chance to respond, “It seems I am the winner because…” He drew his scroll from his pouch giving a thumbs up, “I still have my scroll!”
Naruto’s eyes widened while Kakashi spoke in a knowing tone, “You were meant to pass one of the teams Gai. Hokage-sama won’t be pleased.”
Gai laughed nervously, “…That doesn’t matter because…” He looked around to find the team of rain-nin giving him a death glare, “Ah! I have found the team that I believe is youthful enough to receive a scroll from me, those who haven’t stopped pursuing me since the beginning of these marvellous exams!”
Naruto saw Gai run to the team of rain-nin and give them a scroll however they didn’t let up on their irate look. He shrugged and made his way over to where the Godaime was since they were deciding the match ups for the main tournament.
He stopped when a flash of pink caught his hair. In front of him was none other than the apprentice of the Godaime with a smile across her face, “Sakura-chan? What are you doing here?”
Sakura’s visage lost it’s pleasantness upon the awkward greeting she received, “Baka! I came here to see you!”
Naruto scratched the back of his head, “Gomen, I didn’t mean it like that.”
The medic-nin sighed, “It doesn’t matter.” She was interrupted from resuming as a kunai flew past her towards Naruto.
Naruto moved his head to the side as the kunai missed him but felt someone grab him from behind and hold another kunai to his neck.
“Is this what training with one of the legendary sannin turned you into? I’m kind of disappointed.” Naruto turned his head slightly and was greeted with purple hair belonging to an older woman.
He instantly recognised her as the lady who oversaw his chuunin exam and had cut him. He shouted rather loudly, “YOU!”
Anko grinned before licking his cheek, “I just wanted to thank you for what you did to Orochimaru.”
Sakura eyes widened as she saw the special jounin lick Naruto. ‘Shannaro! I’m going to rip that tongue out!’ The pink haired ninja began to put on her gloves but stopped when she saw what Naruto had done.
Anko wiped the smirk from her face as she felt something being pointed at her back. “Huh?” Her transitory distraction was all Naruto needed as he swiftly disarmed her before holding a kunai to her throat.
He laughed, “It’s a shadow clone.” Anko found herself in a predicament as she had a kunai being pointed at her spine as well as her throat. Naruto put away his kunai as his clone dispelled itself. “It was Tsunade-baachan and Ero-sennin who killed him, not me.”
Anko tapped her chin, “That’s true, but you’re the one who stopped him from taking the other brats body. It’s good to know that he wasn’t able to get what he wanted.” Anko looked over to Sakura and found her glaring. She laughed before adopting a smirk, “Are you angry that I touched your man?”
Naruto raised an eyebrow whereas Sakura looked ready to explode from her candour. She collected herself, “Want to find out?”
Anko laughed before jumping back while Sakura finished putting on her gloves. Naruto realising what was about to happen quickly moved in the way of Sakura grabbing her. “She’s just trying to make you angry.”
The tense situation was diffused as the Godaime made her way over to the three shinobi. “Anko, stop wasting time and go help the others.”
Anko gave a wave to Naruto and Sakura before making her way over to the chuunins. Naruto wiped his forehead sighing, “That was close.”
Tsunade smiled at the genin, “So how was it?”
Naruto realised that she was talking about the exams. He folded his arms, “Piece of cake.”
Tsunade inwardly smiled. She could tell that he had enjoyed his time as an examiner. She was hoping that he would relax once in a while to enjoy himself rather than always indulge in training. She closed her eyes, “I expected you to say that.”
Naruto laughed before he realised the demeanour of the kunoichi next to him. Sakura was visibly angry and glaring in the direction of Anko. “Sakura-chan?”
She didn’t respond busy with glaring at the purple haired special jounin who was now barking orders at some of the chuunin. Naruto’s stomach rumbled before he grabbed Sakura and began to lead her away from the area. Looking back he gave a wave to the Hokage, “Later Tsunade-baachan.”
Sakura was surprised to find herself being led away from everyone else. “Naruto, what are you doing?”
Naruto grinned before answering, “Well you came here to see me didn’t you. I’m hungry and I wanted some company while I eat.”
Sakura smiled before speaking teasingly, “Did you miss me that much?”
Naruto stopped, tilting his head, “No, not really.” He saw the kunoichi about to burst before he finished, “I’m just kidding.”