Foxhound Chapter 2: Part 5
“I see…” Tsunade stared at the girl, as if sizing her up. Ino shifted a little, but otherwise didn’t break eye contact (which took all her willpower considering she was facing a Sannin.) “Alright, I guess you want the full diagnosis, huh? I’ll tell you, but only on the condition that you don’t let it get out to any of your friends aside from Sakura. She’ll find out from reading his chart anyways, so it doesn’t really matter.”
When Ino nodded, Tsunade gave her the full list of Naruto’s injuries, being careful to exclude any direct mention of the Kyuubi. After the medic finished, the genin was silent for several moments in shock over the damage Naruto had taken. She forced her stupor away in favor of asking, “But, Hokage-sama, isn’t there anything you can do? I mean, you’re a Legendary! You even helped Lee-san and no one could do anything for him!”
A dark look crossed Tsunade’s face, but it wasn’t one of anger. The tall woman moved to sit on the edge of Naruto’s bed, as she pondered what to say.
“Naruto’s injuries are both better and worse than Lee’s were. Lee’s life was constantly at risk with the damage to his spine, while Naruto’s life isn’t in danger from his muscular destruction. On the other hand, Lee could at least walk around. Naruto will be lucky if he can ever lift a pair of chopsticks again. Beyond that, with Lee all I had to do was remove the bone fragments. With Naruto I’d have to rebuild his entire muscle network. That would mean regenerating from scratch. There isn’t a known jutsu on the continent that can do that. There is very little I can do for him,” The Legendary medic lectured.
Ino frowned a little in thought.
“What you can do for him? What’s that mean? Somebody else can help him?”
“In a sense,” Tsunade muttered, looking towards Naruto’s abdomen. Louder, she replied, “Naruto has a certain… ability. His body has an accelerated healing factor that normally repairs virtually all damage to him.”
“Really?” Ino said, surprise and hope coming over her face. “A Bloodline Limit? How powerful is it?”
Tsunade shook her head as she said, “Not an actual Limit. His body is just… different from other people. As for how powerful it is, when I debriefed and checked him over after Sasuke’s defection he mentioned that the Uchiha-brat had rammed his entire hand through his chest with a Chidori. It punctured and burned through his right lung, but he was able to regenerate it entirely in a minute. When I checked the spot, he didn’t have scar or any sort of internal damage to that area at all. Even his cells had no traces of genetic damage like normal fast-healing would leave. Not only that, but he didn’t have a scar anywhere on his body, even though he’d been on active duty for almost half a year.”
That not only got Ino’s attention, but Kakashi’s as well. When he’d brought back Naruto all he had seen were chakra burns all over the boy’s body. There wasn’t any trace of being directly hit with a Chidori, so he’d assumed that Sasuke had just beaten the crap out of him. That meant he’d vastly underestimated both his students. The Kyuubi’s influence on Naruto’s body was far greater than he’d originally thought and Sasuke had fallen much farther than he’d dared to think. Kakashi had originally thought that Sasuke was merely being foolish in his blind pursuit of power and had been seduced by Orochimaru’s offers, but to use an assassination technique on his closest friend and comrade changed that perspective.
‘The Chidori can’t be used to merely stun or immobilize an opponent. It can only do critical levels of damage.’
Hadn’t that been part of his own lesson to the dark-haired boy when he’d taught him the technique? If Sasuke had used that jutsu on Naruto, it could only be a deliberate attempt to kill. He should’ve read the goddamn reports instead of foolishly assuming he knew what had happened. Being a genius was good in combat, but it also led to arrogance that led to very foolish mistakes.
‘You fucked up big time, Hatake,’ Kakashi angrily thought to himself. ‘Not only did you get on the ‘Poor Little Uchiha’ bandwagon, but you also taught him a B Rank assassination technique that he tried to kill his best friend with! And since you assumed Sasuke would never use it against a friend, you never taught Naruto a counter and he nearly got killed because of it. Nice, genius, nice…’
While Kakashi was berating himself, Ino was staring at Tsunade with a hopeful expression.
“So he’ll be up in no time right? If he can regrow part of a lung, then his muscles should…” The genin trailed off as the Hokage shook her head.
“It’s not that easy. This is much worse than just a lung. The Chidori wound was externally inflicted damage. Naruto’s muscles have atrophied as a side-effect of his healing factor overcompensating for blood production. That changes things,” The Sannin replied.
Ino stared at her blankly. She wasn’t dumb, but medical talk tended to go over her head. Fortunately, Shizune was listening in right behind her and noticed her confusion.
“What she means is when he was hit with the Chidori, Naruto-kun’s body recognized it as an outside threat and dealt with it as such. Atrophy, on the other hand, is the body strip-mining itself to keep from dying. Naruto-kun’s healing factor might not repair the damage if it came from the inside,” The dark-haired medic explained as she put a comforting hand on Ino’s shoulder.
“Oh…” The genin’s voice sounded very small and disappointed.
“This is assuming his healing factor even works,” Tsunade grumbled. “He seems to heal faster when actively using chakra, so I would normally try outside chakra stimulation with a jutsu or acupuncture, but it wouldn’t do any good with his inner coils so screwed up. Right now, he can barely keep enough energy flowing to stay alive let alone regenerate.”
“I see,” Ino quietly said. There was a long silence that stretched out uncomfortably. Tsunade looked towards Naruto again to distract herself when something occurred to her.
“Where’s his necklace?” She asked (though it came out more like a demand.) Ino watched in confusion as Shizune suddenly moved passed her. Necklace?
“Oh, I’m sorry, Tsunade-sama. Here it is,” The dark-haired medic said as she pulled out a leather string with a very pretty green stone on the end of it. “I took it when Jiraiya-sama brought him in. It was… dirty, so I wanted to clean it off before he wore it again.”
“Oh… Thank you, Shizune-kun,” Tsunade replied, her anger noticeably calming. Both Ino and Kakashi watched curiously as the medic handed the necklace to the Hokage. Tsunade carefully leaned Naruto’s head forward and put the leather string around his neck, then eased his head back again. Ino tried to picture the boy without the bandages and had to admit the necklace would look good on him. A slight gasp to her side made her look over at the copy-nin.
“Hokage-sama, isn’t that…?” Kakashi asked, his eye noticeably wider. It had taken him several moments before he recognized the jewelry.
“Yes. My grandfather’s necklace,” Tsunade answered, still leaning over the boy. Her hand gently stroked the tuft of hair exposed.
“Huh? Who’s your grandfather?” Ino asked in confusion. It was really annoying to be the only ignorant one here.
“The Shodai. The First Hokage of the Leaf. That stone is rumored to be worth enough to buy several mountains,” Kakashi answered. He gave the Fifth a hard look. “For you to give that to a genin…”
“I made a bet with Naruto and I lost,” Tsunade answered in a stiff voice. Her glare would have made Kakashi flinched if his body wasn’t moving so sluggishly. “Besides, it has absolutely nothing to do with you, Hatake-san. Mind your own business.”
After a tense moment of silence, Ino asked, “Uh, what was the bet? It must have been something big.”
Tsunade turned away from the copy-nin and back to Naruto. For a long moment it seemed like she wouldn’t answer. Ino was just about to apologize for being so forward, when the Sannin spoke.
“When Jiraiya and Naruto found Shizune and me on their trip to recruit me as the Fifth, Naruto was a few days into learning a powerful move called Rasengan. We got into a fight and he tried to use an imperfect version on me. Obviously it failed. I made a bet with him that he couldn’t master it in a week. On the seventh day after that, we fought Orochimaru and one of his flunkies. Not only did Naruto pull off a completed version of the move, but he also did it while saving my life and defeated an Elite Jounin level ninja in the process. I gave the necklace to him afterwards,” Tsunade said. A painful, dark look grew in her eyes. “He certainly earned it.”
“A week?!” Kakashi exclaimed, his voice choked with disbelief. “Are you serious?! How were you sure it was a perfect Rasengan?!”
Tsunade gave the Copy-Ninja a wicked grin that made the jounin’s insides squirm unpleasantly.
“It worked on Kabuto just fine,” She smirked, knowing Kakashi himself had a couple rough encounters with the Sound-nin before.
“Kabuto…?” The jounin’s eye widened even further. Naruto had beaten Kabuto!
“Yes, though I’m sorry to say he survived… Barely,” The Hokage answered. “He was able to use chakra to buffer some of the initial impact. It still threw him forty feet into a boulder and even his medical jutsu couldn’t entirely heal the damage the Rasengan did to his body. I figured nearly killing a ninja of your caliber meant the move was mastered. Looks like you made the same mistake as old Sarutobi.”
Kakashi’s head lowered and he stared into his scroll covered lap. Naruto had mastered the Rasengan in a week? Damn… He hadn’t even thought to ask Jiraiya-sama about it. Then again, he seemed to have done a lot of ‘not thinking’ since Team 7 formed. For a genius, he was sloppy. He’d assumed Sasuke was just like him, with the Sharingan and being brilliant at combat. It had taken Sasuke only a day to learn the Chidori, but that wasn’t really an accurate measurement. Kakashi had made the seals, powered up the jutsu, and shattered a boulder with it while Sasuke copied his every move with the Sharingan. Naruto couldn’t copy jutsu. Even if he could, the Rasengan itself couldn’t be copied. It had no seals and there was a specific training process that had to be completed before it could be used. One had to work hard to learn it. Even Jiraiya-sama had needed several weeks to learn it from his own student. For Naruto to have mastered such a powerful and difficult technique in a week and to have beaten a ninja arguably as strong as the Copy-Ninja himself spoke volumes about the boy’s potential.
Potential Kakashi had ignored in favor of his other student.
Tsunade’s words hit home, though the Copy-Ninja gave no external reaction. He had blatantly favored Sasuke over Naruto during the exams, even if he had tried to get him a different tutor. What’s worse, he had the gall to criticize Jiraiya because he had taught the boy a move that was stronger than Sasuke’s. Sarutobi had made a similar line of mistakes when he’d favored Orochimaru over Jiraiya, just because the Snake Sannin had better natural talent than the Frog Sannin. Kakashi had repeated that error, even after Sasuke was infected with a seal designed to make someone even more power hungry.
The copy-nin let his head droop some more. He hadn’t even apologized for it either. Hell, he’d barely talked to Naruto since the chuunin exams. He should’ve taught both of them equally. Actually, to be fair he should have taught the three of them equally. He had foisted Naruto off on someone else and he’d ignored Sakura entirely. No wonder the two of them had gone off and found other teachers. And Sasuke… Sasuke had taken everything he thought would be useful from the Copy-Ninja, then left to find someone else to give him more power.
Looking back on it, Kakashi wondered how he’d missed the fact that Sasuke was a selfish brat. Or (more accurately) why he’d ignored that fact.
“-of move is it?” Ino’s curious voice dragged Kakashi from his thoughts.
“Well, you’d have to ask Jiraiya if you want to know the exact details, but I can tell you it’s deadly. Very deadly,” Tsunade answered. “The Yondaime spent three years creating it and the effort shows. The Rasengan can be used in several different ways, but its main function is to rip through anyone and anything. It does little surface damage, but internally it shreds and twists like no other jutsu. Only three people have ever learned it and one of them is dead.”
“Wow…” Ino said. She’d been right before when she’d assessed the other genin’s caliber. Naruto didn’t know many moves, but the ones he did know were jaw-dropping. Maybe he could show it to her when he woke up. “What rank is it?”
“A Rank,” Tsunade and Kakashi responded at the same time. Ino raised an eyebrow, both at the Rank and the stereo effect.
“So… Why did Jiraiya-sama teach him the Fourth’s technique?” The genin asked. Tsunade’s expression darkened again.
“I don’t know, but probably because Naruto looks like him. Jiraiya taught the Yondaime, so seeing someone with a strong resemblance to him might have inspired him to do it,” The Hokage answered. There was another reason, but not even Jiraiya was certain about it. The records around the time of the Kyuubi’s assault were sketchy and it would take a great deal of investigation to know for sure. That was time and effort neither of them had to spare. Still, if it was true…
“Well… It’s a nice necklace,” Ino said, running out of stuff to say. She didn’t know Tsunade on any level, so it was hard to come up with something talk about.
“It is,” The Godaime’s tone was little more than a whisper. “I’m just glad it serves him like it does me, instead of…”
Shizune flinched at that. No one said anything for a long minute as Tsunade shifted her position further up on the bed so she could look at Naruto’s face. Her expression held the look of old pain that had never healed. She slowly reached a hand out and rested it on the boy’s bandaged forehead.
“I… Could you leave us alone for awhile?” Tsunade quietly asked. There was a hint of command in her voice. Ino blinked. What was going on?
“Sure, Hokage-sama,” Kakashi said as he grabbed his crutches and limped out the door. Shizune gently ushered Ino out of the room and closed the door behind her. The last thing the genin saw before it shut was Tsunade leaning over to press her lips to Naruto’s bandaged forehead as tears streaked down her face.
“…What’s that all about?” Ino asked. Shizune sighed and motioned her to move away from the door. They found Kakashi seated on one of the wall-benches a few rooms down. As the genin sat down next to him, she noticed he was looking over the scroll again. How he’d managed to get it out of the room unrolled and with both hands occupied without crumpling it was a mystery. Shizune glanced up and down the hall to make sure there were no eavesdroppers before she began speaking.
“That stone has a dark history to it,” The medic began. Ino and Kakashi looked up, both curious about Tsunade’s odd reaction. “You see, it’s only served Tsunade-sama. Everyone else who’s ever worn it has died soon afterwards. Supposedly, even the First and the Second were wearing it when they were killed. Tsunade-sama gave it to her little brother and he was brutally murdered by an enemy nin the next day. Later on she gave it to her first love and he died only a few days after on a mission. The only other person the stone hasn’t harmed is Naruto-kun.”
“Oh…” Ino said. What the hell do you say to that? Even Kakashi’s eye drifted to the floor. Then again, he used to be an ANBU Captain, so he knew first hand what it was like to lose someone close to him. Speaking of closeness…
“Um, not to pry or anything, but what was with…?” Ino trailed off, not really sure how to voice her question.
“You mean why Tsunade-sama is so close to Naruto-kun?” Shizune replied, a bit of life coming back to her face. “Well, I’ve never seen any pictures, but she told me once that Naruto-kun looks almost exactly like her brother. Even more than that, both her brother and her boyfriend dreamed of becoming a Hokage and I’m sure you know Naruto-kun has the same goal. It gives Tsunade something to hold onto, I think. She’s been much happier ever since meeting him.”
“Oh, I see,” Ino said. “And Naruto? Sakura told me once he called the Fifth a hag to her face.”
Shizune laughed a little, “That’s just the way the two of them are. They yell and fight constantly, but I think that’s how they like it. Naruto-kun has never had any family his whole life. Tsunade-sama fills the role for him like he does for her. They were both very lonely people and having a family means a great deal to them, even if it isn’t one of blood. Besides, after saving each other’s lives it would be kind of hard not to grow closer.”
“I’ve seen the Hokage punch Naruto through the floor before. Literally. If they’re family, then they’re constantly attempting fratricide on each other,” Kakashi commented dryly. Shizune just shrugged, a small smile on her face. Even if the two nearly gave her a heart attack every time they fought, it was still kind of cute to watch.
“Well, we should probably leave her alone for awhile. When she gets like this… It’s just best not to disturb her. Naruto-kun’s close call probably drug up a bunch of old memories on top of scaring her to death,” The medic said, her face losing its cheer. The other two nodded, Kakashi going back to the scroll immediately. His interest finally caught Shizune’s attention and she curiously asked, “Hatake-san? What’s that you have?”
Ino nearly choked. It was bad enough the stinking Copy-Ninja was vandalizing her stuff, she didn’t want the Hokage’s assistant poking through it too! Who knew if there was some sort of law about Bloodlines or something? Kakashi might not give a shit, but Shizune looked like she took rules seriously.
“Oh, just something naughty,” Kakashi cheerfully said, his eye smiling and a little heart floating above his head. Ino nearly fell to the floor. Why did she even bother?
Shizune sweat-dropped and said, “Hatake-san! Don’t read your smut in a hospital, for Kami’s sake! I’ll have to tell the Hokage if you keep it up.”
Kakashi laughed nervously and rolled the scroll up.
“That’s not necessary, Shizune-san. I’ll be good,” He said with another heart floating up.
The medic glared at him, before shaking her head. She looked over to Ino and said, “I’m sorry to leave you with this poor excuse for a man, but I have to go and check on some other patients. I’ll see you two later.”
“Okay. Bye Shizune-san!” Ino replied, waving as the medic walked off down the hall. As soon as Shizune was out of sight, the genin gave Kakashi one of her death glares.
“If you were writing some sort of porno crap in my scroll…” She trailed off, making a fist. The copy-nin started sweating a bit.
“No, no! I was just making a couple notes,” Kakashi said, holding his hands up in defense.
“Hmm, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now, but if I find out you’re lying…” Ino held her hand under the jounin’s face and loudly cracked one of her fingers.
“Hai, hai… I understand,” Kakashi said. Kami-sama, that girl was frightening when she wanted to be. His thoughts were interrupted by his stomach loudly reminding him that not only had he drained all his chakra, but he also hadn’t eaten all day.
Ino sighed, feeling her stomach grumble in agreement.
“Let’s go to the cafeteria,” The genin said. She stood and helped the unsteady copy-nin to his feet. “You can answer a couple questions while we eat.”
As the genin and jounin made their way down the hall, neither noticed the flash that ducked further into one of the rooms they passed.