When Naruto opened his eyes, for the third time, the first thing he noticed was that it was still dark outside. He grumbled to himself. "Dammit. I can't get back to sleep," he thought in frustration. Tsunade had made him go to bed early so they could train before she went to work. "Why the hell isn't she up yet?" He thought irritably.
Naruto got up, threw on his usual outfit and trudged out the door to find Tsunade's room. He figured she would be on the top floor. As far as security went, it made the most sense. Three flights of stairs later he found himself at the end of a hallway that had three doors. Two, were along the sides. The third was at the end. "That's gotta be it," he thought.
As Naruto began to walk down the hall he started to get the feeling he was being watched. A few spots on the walls became the focus of his attention. "Guards hidden in the walls huh? I just hope they know I'm a guest and not an enemy."
Almost as if they heard his thoughts camouflage sheets made to match the walls of the hallway dropped from the bodies of three jounin, including a certain spiky-haired sensei. "Yo, Naruto," Kakashi said with a smile in his eyes.
Naruto smiled. "Hey, Kakashi-sensei."
Kakashi walked over to his former student. "Naruto, if you're thinking of waking up the Fifth, then you need to go back downstairs. She'll kill you," he said nonchalantly.
Naruto turned to Kakashi with a defiant gleam in his eye. "She told me to be up this early and she's still in bed!" He said loudly. "And besides," he continued just as loudly, "She doesn't scare me!"
The guards all simultaneously sucked in a breath as their eyes widened. As they took a step back Naruto slowly turned around to see Tsunade standing behind him, hair bedraggled, cracking her knuckles.
"Naruto," Tsunade said in a low voice. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
Naruto sucked in a breath through his teeth and backed up a few steps.
Tsunade put on a dangerously fake sweet smile. "You know it's four in the morning...right?"
A vein popped on Naruto's forehead. "YOU made me go to bed at nine o'clock! Because YOU wanted me to train early before you went to work!"
Tsunade's expression quickly changed to one of confusion. She put a finger sideways to her mouth as though she were trying to recall her words. "I...did?" she said with a yawn.
Naruto's expression instantly became incredulous. "YOU DON'T REMEMBER!"
Tsunade was not phased in the slightest. She scratched her right arm absentmindedly. "No," she said as she yawned again. "Just go back to bed," she said as she turned to go back to her room.
"Go back to bed! How the hell to you expect me to sleep!"
"Count sheep," Tsunade replied as she walked into her room and shut the door.
Naruto stood there, seething for a moment before turning around and trudging down the stairs. When he got to the bottom he looked in the direction of the front door. "Fine then. I'll train by myself," he thought. He left the house and was swallowed up by the darkness of the moonless night.
Naruto stood on the platform for the zipline. He took a deep breath and stared at it for a moment. If the first obstacle had been so hard, what was the rest of it like? He knew it was dangerous to be at the course by himself, but he was so angry that he didn't care.
He took a running jump and leapt for the zipline handle.
Tsunade groaned and sat up. "Damn brat," she thought in irritation. "Now I can't sleep!" she thought as she kicked off the covers. She got up and staggered out of the room. "Kakashi."
A camouflage blanket dropped from the wall. "Yes, Tsunade-sama."
"Go wake up that brat. If he wants to work out, I'll give him the workout of a lifetime," she said with an evil smile.
"Hai," Kakashi said as he bowed and vanished.
Naruto hopped off the end of the zipline and looked around to see where he needed to go next. The sun was starting to come up, so he didn't have to squint like he did when he had first come onto the field. He spotted a tiny red arrow. "There."
He jumped from the platform in the direction the arrow indicated. After a few seconds Naruto wondered if he was supposed to have flipped another lever because nothing was happening. Suddenly, two giant logs came from both sides, threatening to flatten him in the middle. He jumped out of the way just in time to see some blunted kunai shooting toward him. "Ahhhhh!" He took out his own kunai and deflected as many as he could, but four out of the ten hit him. Two on his right shoulder, one on his ribcage and the other hit his left hip.
Naruto winced in pain from the kunai hitting him. Even though they were blunt, they still hurt like hell. Naruto shot forward, turning in the direction the next arrow pointed.
Tsunade came out of her room, pulling on her green Haori. Suddenly, Kakashi appeared in front of her, without Naruto. "Where is he?" she asked.
Kakashi bowed as he made his report. "He wasn't in his room."
Tsunade cocked an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Kakashi's expression was somewhat grave. "He's no where in the house. Godaime-sama, I know Naruto, and I think it's very possible that he went down to the training grounds by himself."
Tsunade's eyes widened. "What!" In an instant, she was gone in a puff of smoke.
Kakashi sighed. "Naruto. You idiot."
Naruto followed the next arrow into the trees. He dodged a spiked drop net. As he came to the next tree the branch he landed on exploded. Naruto dropped about twenty feet before he felt arms under his body. "What?" he thought. As soon as he realized it was Tsunade, he was angry.
Tsunade landed and put down a furious Naruto. "Just what the hell do you think you're doing, Brat!" Naruto fumed, but remained silent. "Do you have any idea how STUPID that was!"
"I can take care of myself!" Naruto shot back.
"Kakashi almost got killed running this course!"
Naruto's eyes went wide then he gritted his teeth and looked up at Tsunade. "That doesn't mean it'll kill me!"
Tsunade's expression softened a bit. She turned away from the blonde haired genin. "Come back to the house," she said in an commanding voice as she began walking.
"I can do this!" Naruto yelled.
Tsunade stopped mid-step. "I know you can Naruto," she said in a soft tone of voice.
"Huh?" Naruto had been expecting her to snap back at him again.
Tsunade sniffed and hurriedly wiped her eyes with her sleeve. She turned back to Naruto. "But not without me here in case something goes wrong." She sighed heavily. "I don't want you to get killed."
Naruto, noticing that her eyelashes were wet, looked at the Hokage in confusion. "Was she...crying?"
Tsunade closed her eyes for a moment in thought. When she opened them again she nodded her head in decision. "Alright, Naruto. But let's get something to eat first." She said with a small smile.
Naruto's face brightened considerably. "Okay."
Both Ninjas turned and jumped into the trees toward the house. Tsunade was glad, as they leapt from branch to branch, that Naruto could not see the relieved tears that were carried away on the wind.
"Seconds!" Naruto said as he held up his bowl.
The maid who was serving breakfast glared at Naruto as she took the bowl from his hand. Tsunade noticed, but didn't say anything.
As Naruto started downing his fourth bowl of breakfast ramen Tsunade stood up. "Excuse me, Naruto. I need to speak with Izumi for a moment," she said with a hard stare at the now nervous maid. Tsunade motioned for Izumi to follow her as she left the room.
Tsunade led Izumi into a room a few doors down the hallway. She didn't want Naruto to hear the conversation that was about to take place. She shut the door and turned sharply toward Izumi, who was now looking like a cornered mouse. "If I ever see you look at Naruto that way again, you will no longer be employed at this house!"
"Yes, Tsunade-sama," Izumi answered. She was silent for a moment before speaking again in a voice that was strong, yet respectful. "But...I don't understand. Why? It's just Kyuubi," she said, sounding genuinely confused. The instant she finished, she knew she shouldn't have said it. Even before the loud slap that came across her face.
"He is a human boy and I don't ever want to hear you suggest otherwise!" Tsunade snapped.
"He killed my sister!" Izumi cried as she cradled her sore cheek.
"Naruto is NOT Kyuubi! Kyuubi was sealed inside him! Naruto was keeping you and everyone you care about safe!"
"I...I didn't know," Izumi answered. "Wait a minute. Was? What do you mean he was keeping us safe?"
Tsunade flinched. She'd forgotten that she hadn't told everyone about that yet. "Kyuubi is dead."
"It is!" Izumi said in shock.
"Yes, but that doesn't change the fact that Naruto has never been a danger to you," Tsunade said in a low voice.
"Yes, Tsunade-sama. I apologize," Izumi said as she made a low bow.
Tsunade, seemingly satisfied with this, nodded. "Return to your duties."
Izumi bowed again. "Yes," she replied before walking out the door.
Naruto stood the beginning of the course, eagerly awaiting Tsunade's signal. Suddenly, she appeared next to the platform.
"Everything is reset. Are you ready?" Tsunade reported.
Tsunade pulled the lever. "Go!"
Naruto was off like a shot. He reached the end of the zipline, dodged the two swinging logs, deflected most of the blunt kunai, dodged the drop net and then made sure to use ninja wire to carry himself over the exploding branch. Seeing another arrow down and to his right he dove in that direction.
Tsunade followed the flash of orange that was Naruto by running along the ground through designated 'safe zones'. "He's gotten faster," she thought as Naruto sped through a fearsome looking gauntlet of fire traps.
"Shit, that was close. Old Lady Tsunade wasn't kidding. This is one hell of a course." Naruto thought as he dodged the last of the walls of fire only to find himself heading right for a large net. "Crap!" He pulled out a kunai and sliced through it. About a second later he landed on a branch only to have it break out from under him, dropping him ten feet to the ground.
He got up and looked for the next arrow. He spotted it about five feet in front of him. He didn't take more than two steps before he noticed a trip wire on the ground. He was about to go over it when he remembered the triple wire trap that he had tripped when he and the others had gone after Sasuke. He decided to jump over it. A small land mine exploded under his feet knocking him down. He got up and started running again. More mines exploded as he pushed forward. He dodged them easily now that he knew to look for them.
Naruto saw an arrow pointing to the trees and headed up. The branch he landed on was connected to another tree about fifty feet away by a thin log. He shrugged and began to run across the log only to discover very quickly that it was not as stable as it appeared. It rolled to the side, nearly dropping him sixty two feet to the forest floor. He managed to use chakra to hang on, but when he tried to climb back to the top the log simply rolled him back to square one. Naruto dipped his head backwards and looked at the other side. "Okay," he thought, nodding his head in decision. He carefully got to his feet. Once he was sure he had a solid grip he began to run along the underside of the log using chakra. When he reached the end he flipped down to a branch a few feet away. He looked around for the next arrow. He found it quickly and began moving again.
Naruto followed an arrow down to ground level. In front of him was a large pond with several, small platforms on posts about a foot out of the water. "She's kidding, right? I can just run across this," he thought with a smirk. Naruto collected chakra to his feet and ran onto the pond. No more than four steps into his run he noticed something moving in the water. He barely managed to miss being pulled under by very large alligator. He immediately jumped up onto one of the platforms. "Is she insane! I can't believe she had that thing in there!" he thought as he jumped his way to the other side of the pond.
Tsunade smiled. "Very good," she thought happily. She looked ahead of his current position and frowned. "I wonder how he'll do on that one?"
The next arrow led back into the trees again. Naruto was getting tired. He never thought the course would be so long. He made a jump to the next branch. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a large, metal ball on a chain swinging towards him. "Shit!" he yelled as he jumped up to the top of the ball and leapt for the branch ahead of him. Another ball came from the other side of him, but as he jumped to avoid that one a third ball came from a higher position. Naruto couldn't dodge the new ball in time. "AAAGGH!" he cried out in pain as it smashed into his body. He was sent flying toward a huge wall of spikes. "You've got to be kidding me!"
Naruto tucked himself into a protective ball, even though he knew it wouldn't do him any good, and prepared for the oncoming pain.
...TO BE CONTINUED