Author: Fanfiction of the Dead PM
Abandoned. Remade into The Jinchuriki.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 3 - Words: 13,292 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 10-20-12 - Published: 04-04-12 - id: 7988337
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The Formation Of Team 7
The next day came and a dust of smiles blew across the Village Hidden In The Leaves. The entrance to the ninja academy turned into a mob of small children, all of whom were now officially recognized as proud Genin, low-ranking ninja who pledged their lives to the duties of Konoha, agents of its elders, and the hands, eyes, and feet of the Hokage. Parents seemed proud of their children, but their happiness was just a well-executed facade. Every mother and father knew that their child was plunging themselves into a world of risk and pain, and that they may never return after being issued their first mission.
Nobody saw the spiky-haired child who usually sat on the swing set, not far away from the front entrance. He would sit by himself and watch the graduates walk out and greet their loving parents. Kids would jump into their mother and father's arms and spray mucus over how cool it was being a ninja, right before getting a lecture about how serious being a young shinobi or kunoichi would be.
Only one girl had noticed the boy's absence. A girl with bright pink hair and somber green eyes who was sitting in the exact spot he did.
She clutched a forehead protector in her left hand; she hadn't bothered trying it on yet. She almost did when she saw the other kids putting on theirs in front of their parents, but then she saw that the Uzumaki kid was missing. She had to wait after school for a mandatory meeting between her sensei, Iruka Umino, so that she could be introduced to the rest of her team. So she waited here, alone and bored, staring into the ground fantasizing about who her team mates would be.
The worst I could get stuck with, she mused, is with that class clown. He only got through because he cheated, or did something illegal! I'm sure of it!
Eventually the time came when her teacher came outside and found her.
"Let's go Sakura, your team mates are already inside." ordered Iruka.
This caught the pink-haired kunoichi by surprise. The courtyard by the front entrance was empty except for people who were tending to the grass and cleaning up.
"How is that possible sensei? I've waited here the whole time, and nobody else came here or went inside!" explained Sakura.
"Well one had to serve detention until now, and the other decided to wait in the classroom and didn't go outside. You should put your forehead protector on; you can wear it like a ribbon if you want." Iruka replied, guiding Sakura through the front door and closing it behind them.
The Genin complied and fixed her hair so that the blue headband could fit snugly around her head. It was times like these that she regretted growing her hair out all because of a rumor: that one of the really cute boys in her class had a thing for girls with long hair. Now that she was a Genin and would start training for missions tomorrow, she probably wouldn't ever see that boy again in her lifetime.
Fate had a sense of humor.
Sakura's eyes bulged when she saw the first face in the room that wasn't her teacher's. A face that made girls her make odd noises and caused their hearts' to flutter uncontrollably.
The boy saw her and didn't show any emotion, then leaned his cheek on his right fist in a way that made it look like he was sighing. He was a fair-skinned boy with handsome features and onyx eyes, eyes that made everything around them cooler. He had dark hair that he kept well-maintained and wore a blue short-sleeved shirt with the symbol of the Uchiha clan proudly displayed on the back.
And more importantly, as Sakura had confirmed, he was the only boy in her class with marks as high as her own. He was a certified genius and a cunning thinker, and he rarely showed any feelings for anybody or anything, and now he seemed least interested in her or the blond, spiky-haired kid drawing inappropriate pictures on the chalkboard. He resembled a kid stuck in detention with nothing better to do but stare at the closest noise.
"NARUTO!" Iruka yelled, causing his immature pupil to drop a piece of chalk.
"Ir-Iruka-sensei!" Naruto stuttered, trying to cover the picture he'd drawn of Hiruzen doing dirty things with a group of women. "This isn't what it looks like!"
"Naruto, I told you right before I left - if I EVER see you disrespect the Hokage like that again, it's 100 laps around the school in less than 3 hours, or I'll make sure every manga shop and ramen place in town denies you service for the rest of your life!" Iruka bellowed, watching Naruto scrape away his chalk drawings in haste.
"P-p-p-please Iruka-sensei, I didn-didn't mean it! 100 laps in 3 hours! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!" The blonde boy pleaded.
While the teacher and the clown bickered and negotiated a compromising punishment, Sakura stood in the doorway without saying a word. The left half of her lip twitched in annoyance because of Naruto, and the fact that she was going to have to put up with him for the rest of her career as a Genin and Chunin. Then again, once she inevitably reached Jonin, she could pick her own squad and stay the hell away from Uzumaki.
And things weren't all bad. Sakura glanced at the dark-haired boy again, keeping images of his youthful good looks saved away in her memory banks.
Thanks to Sasuke, they had two geniuses on this team. One was a brilliant student, if she did say so herself, and the other was a child prodigy. From what Sakura knew about the Uchiha clan, most of them were that way since they inherited an incredible eye-based technique from their clan's long line of ancestors. Of course it wasn't all inheritance. Since the first time she'd laid eyes on him, she'd never seen Sasuke fail at anything he set his mind on even once.
That still left Naruto... who was getting a scolding from their teacher and had to promise to pray to the Hokage for good fortune every time he was in Iruka's presence to avoid running 100 laps around the academy.
"Sensei?" Sakura called to Iruka, "Why were we called after school? I thought Genin teams weren't assigned until tomorrow?"
"Yes, good question Sakura. You and Sasuke were selected early to be put on the same team due to both your tremendous scores and abilities. With Naruto being added as your third member, we wanted to discuss the dynamics of your team as soon as possible because you're going to be given a special instructor. He's a ninja that belongs to a rank of special instructors called Tokubetsu Jonin." As Iruka was explaining this to the three children, they each had different expressions.
Naruto was unimpressed by the "special treatment" they were getting. Sasuke didn't say anything, which made Sakura peek in his direction, trying to gauge his thoughts on the matter. He flicked his eyes at her with such speed that Sakura couldn't tell whether he was looking at her, but she turned her attention back to their teacher.
"Who is this special Jonin, sensei?" Questioned the female Genin, rubbing her fingers together anxiously.
"They call him the Copy Ninja, Kakashi Hatake. He specializes in tracking and copying the jutsu of his enemies."
The words that came out of Iruka's mouth made Sakura gasp. This wasn't a measly Copy Ninja... he was talking about THE Copy Ninja, Kakashi of the Sharingan. The shinobi said to have acquired over 1,000 techniques from ninjas from other villages, and some of those 1,000 were taken from mercenaries or ANBU black ops, techniques with no definitive village of origin. Even excluding how he copied all of these techniques, there was still a large impression from the fact that he MASTERED all of them, or so she had read. One of Hatake's most well-known achievements was splitting a bolt of lightning in half... how awesome of a teacher would he be?
"And he's going to keep an eye on one of you specifically." Iruka added.
"Hold on!" Naruto butted in. "If this Kakashi guy doesn't even show up on time, how are we supposed to trust him to train us!?"
Iruka smirked at Naruto's displeasure. "That's funny coming from a guy who never showed up to class on time, Naruto."
"New manga always comes before class, Iruka-sensei!"
"No! No they don't, you idiot!"
The teacher and student went on like this for an entire minute without interruption. Sakura, still taken by the thought of being trained by one of the most interesting ninja in the Hidden Leaf village and possibly the world, sat down a couple of seats away from her crush, and Sasuke kept his eyes aimed at the front of the classroom. He didn't shift his gaze until somebody knocked on the classroom door. Naruto and Iruka stopped fighting, the door creaked, before being pulled wide open, and a man wearing a jonin vest stepped inside and politely closed the door behind him.
This man had spiky, gray-white hair and a facemask covering everything except for his right eye. The three Genin couldn't tell much about him from just his single exposed eye, but the man looked very calm as he studied them and looked at Iruka.
"Tch... for a second, I thought a pint of rotten milk was going to land on my head when I walked through the door..." The man dryly spoke.
Of course, the only Genin that looked guilty was the boy with the spiky hair that Iruka was scolding.
"Well guys... this is your new teacher." Iruka said, releasing Naruto's collar, letting him fall to the ground on his rump. He told them that their new instructor was of Jonin rank, that they now had to do everything this man said, and that they had to undergo rigorous training to work with him on low-ranked missions. The rest was up to the three Genin and their instructor to converse about. "...so now I'm saying my farewell. Two of you are my best students, and Naruto, you're my most persistent problem, but you've shown talent I never would have pegged you for. Don't any of you let me or the village down."
And with those parting words, Iruka Umino walked out of the classroom and shut the door, and his smile collapsed as soon as he was out of sight. Gritting his teeth, Iruka stomped away from the classroom and left for home. Now all three genin were looking at their new instructor, waiting for an introduction of some kind. In the space of six breaths, they all stared at each other, until the Jonin finally spoke.
"So then... I guess we should get the basic stuff out-of-the-way. I am Kakashi Hatake." the Jonin made his way to the teacher's desk in front of the classroom and sat there. "Okay, let's start with... you, spiky-hair. Tell us some the things you like and dislike, your hobbies, your dreams for the future and stuff like that."
"Me?" Kakashi nodded at Naruto. "Well I... my name is Naruto Uzumaki. I like ramen, manga, and video games! One day, I'm going to be the Hokage and be respected by everyone!"
The jonin lacked any sort of surprise hearing Naruto's introduction. The brat who failed the graduation exam three times was gossiped about throughout the ninja hierarchy, and for more reasons than one. That still didn't make Kakashi's job any easier and he sighed, fearing the length of this duty.
"Hey! Shouldn't you tell us a little more about yourself before we speak?" Sakura interjected.
"I told you my name, didn't I? Kakashi Hatake."
"Well is there anything else you can tell us? I read a lot about ninjas like you in the academy. I read about how you've mastered over a 1,000 different jutsu from all over the world, and how you used one of those techniques to split a bolt of lightning!" her voice got a bit higher, and Kakashi could see the excitement glowing on her face. She was a cute kid, and she wasn't cut out for this line of work in the slightest.
"So my reputation precedes me..." he said, feigning an answer with a voice that decided to play along with her so-called research. Then, without addressing Sakura again or her question, Kakashi looked at the Uchiha boy who seemed to be reserving his words. "And what about you?"
Sakura stayed quiet for Sasuke. Even Naruto listened in. And even though he was talking, Sasuke's hands covered his lips and his eyes sharpened the floor.
"My name... is Sasuke Uchiha. I hate a lot of things, and I don't particularly like anything. What I have is not a dream, but a mission. I'm going to restore my clan... and kill a certain person." he announced coldly and dramatically.
...when the other two Genin thawed, Kakashi scratched his temples and looked at Sakura, "Okay then, it's your turn."
"Well - I'm - Sakura - Haruno." Sakura tried to say. Her words melted down to a whisper, so she started over again and continued, "...and I want to study medicine and become a great medical-ninja."
"Wow, so there is a normal one in this group." snickered Kakashi. "And I'm sure if you give it your all Sakura, you'll reach that goal. But I can't say the same in good conscience for the rest of you..."
Sasuke and Naruto's eyes flicked at him. Naruto looked like he was ready to bust into a hundred fuming particles, but Sasuke kept his cool.
"WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TO SAY MY GOALS AREN'T REALISTIC!? I said I'm going to become the Hokage someday so that's what I'm going to do! No doubt about it!"
"Were you paying attention at all or do I need to say my name again?" Kakashi said, his eyes thinning, "I'm the person who's going to evaluate you three from now until, and only if, you make it to the Chunin level, and it'll be over my dead body if that happens. But until then, unless you move past these childish notions of vengeance and megalomania, I don't see either of those dreams happening."
The Jonin cleared his throat and continued before Naruto could butt in.
"...of course, you'll have the chance to prove me wrong tomorrow when we begin your survival training."
"Survival training!?" said Naruto and Sakura, confused.
Sasuke peered icily at Kakashi.
"Yes, and it starts tomorrow. Meet on the training field and make sure you don't eat breakfast, or you'll throw up. This test has a 66 percent rate of failure, sending at least 18 of the graduation class back to the academy for another year."
The news filled the young Genin with dread. Kakashi enjoyed knowing that, so much that he started chuckling to himself while Naruto babbled on and on about how unfair this process was. Kakashi noticed Sakura glancing at Sasuke, who seemed too engrossed in his thoughts to comment. He was probably thinking of ways to dismember him, and that guess made Kakashi stop chuckling and continue.
"Bring all of your equipment and nothing else." was the instructor's last decree for today. He dismissed his three upcoming junior ninjas, each with their own gripes about tomorrow's test.
As Sakura walked away, she stopped and looked at the direction Naruto and Sasuke took. Both were headed to the orphanage, but Naruto was forcing himself to stay at least ten paces behind Sasuke. Sasuke had such graceful, relaxed steps and didn't stretch his steps to accommodate Naruto, which made spiky-hair look even more like a dork when he tried to count both his and Sasuke's steps.
With a smile, Sakura walked back to her own home and solemnly greeted her mother.
Walking towards the training grounds the next day, Sakura couldn't get the image of that cute Uchiha boy out of her head.
Not only was he cool, handsome, and smart; he had this reserved, brooding nature that just made all of his features twice as attractive as any other boy she'd ever seen. He was a direct antithesis Naruto and so much so it was like they were born to contrast. She'd known Naruto since childhood and she positively hated him, but she had only heard stories about this Sasuke Uchiha and that he had a number of fan girls.
She felt how warm her cheeks were getting when she saw him again; he was standing right next to a post in the ground at the front entrance to the training field. He spotted her with a sideways glance, before looking back at the ground without muttering any kind of greeting or verbal acknowledgement. Her heart started beating faster, her chest and palms started to sweat, and her jaw twitched.
Love-at-first-sight just didn't say it. When she was little, she used to think highly of such things. One day, that all disappeared, maybe when she started getting smarter and more practical. Why now, of all times, would it suddenly come back to her and beg her acceptance like an old boyfriend? Why now, when she had known this boy for no more than an hour and some, and hadn't spoken a word to him?
Every feeling, every quart of attraction swirling inside Miss Haruno's mind was suddenly disrupted by the loud, abrasive cry of her other team mate.
"Good morning Sakura-chan!" said Naruto, jogging closer to them in an awkward, skipping motion. "Did you sleep well last night - I had this really awesome dream about you last night and-"
"I don't want to know about any dreams that you had Naruto, especially if they involve me!" Sakura cut him off, tapping her foot.
Disheartened at first, Naruto curiously pointed at her, "Uh... Sakura, your cheeks are really red... did you fall or hit your face on something?"
"Wha?" Sakura felt her cheeks again, and with embarrassment she held them and started taking deep, cleansing breaths to clear her anxiety.
"I-I'm sorry Sakura-chan, I-I didn't mean to-"
A half-masked, white-haired figure appeared behind Naruto and Sakura, startling them.
"Gyaaah!" they both cried. Naruto shouted, "Where the hell did you come from?"
"He walked over to you while you were flirting, imbecile." replied Sasuke in a callously low voice.
Naruto locked eyes with Sasuke.
"So I guess the Hokage didn't cut off your tongue. I thought Sas-gay Mute-chia was going to threaten us again or something!" Naruto retorted.
"What's the point in threatening guys like you who fail the same test three times and have to cheat to pass it the 4th time, Narutard?"
"Now, now. Let's all get along you guys. Where do kids these days learn such language?"
'What a thing to say for a guy who likes to sneak up on children.' Sakura mumbled.
Despite their new teacher's wishes, the name-calling animosity between Sasuke and Naruto had only just begun. Kakashi decided not to waste anymore time and put his own equipment bag on a nearby tree stump.
The three young ninjas watched as he pulled out a small clock and put it in front of his backpack, then set it to not ring for several hours. He faced his students, and like so many others, they were probably wondering why this survival training would take hours to finish. Naruto and Sakura were exclusively worried. Naruto, for all of his big, showy talk, was shivering even.
"Okay, this is a simple trust-building exercise. Your objective..." Kakashi reached into his pocket, "...is to steal these two bells from me. If you take a bell and keep it until the afternoon, then you've successfully passed this training. Of course, for the unlucky person who doesn't keep one - you'll be sent back to the academy for a year of remedial courses and demeaning tasks alongside underclassmen. Those who can't get a bell by noon are forbidden to eat lunch. I'll tie you to a post and eat my lunch right in front of you also. Lastly, make no mistake about what your instructors said in the academy. When you train with a Jonin and swear your life to the Leaf village, you will face death and severe injury. That's why I'm putting my life on the line and allowing the use of your shuriken, kunai, poison, bombs, and lethal jutsu. You need to have the will to destroy your opponent to win, in this case and the future."
"No way I'm going to let that happen! I don't care how many people failed this thing!" shouted Naruto.
"Don't talk the talk until you've actually gotten a bell, Naruto. You won't be able to pass unless you attack with the intent to kill me. And I don't think you have the nerve..."
With that warning, Naruto drew a kunai from his waist bag.
"Remember you said that when the jaws of life are pulling kunai out of your stomach! Hyaaaa-!"
He dashed and aimed his weapon, the small, dagger-like throwing weapon used prominently in ninja culture called a "kunai", straight for his instructor. Naruto kept sprinting with no intention of stopping, alarming Sakura and surprising Sasuke, who thought the twerp wouldn't have the nerve to attack first. Kakashi, however, wasn't phased by this reckless show of bravado. Announcing your attack and giving your opponent an ample amount of time was not how a ninja was supposed to operate, and he hadn't given them the signal to start yet. This did show initiative though, and with a little better execution, the element of surprise might have caught a lesser enemy off-guard.
The distance closed between the two, Naruto and Kakashi were in arm's reach of each other now and Naruto swung his arm at Kakashi's chest.
With clever speed, the jonin grabbed Naruto's weapon-carrying hand and turned his wrist counter-clockwise. The pressure ruptured Naruto's grip and made him release the kunai, and while his senses were flashing with pain, Kakashi snatched the falling kunai with his other hand. He spun Naruto around and pulled the little Genin's arm around his head, pulling it so that Naruto continued to struggle while unaware that his weapon had been stolen.
Naruto kept struggling until he felt something sharp prick his nape. Kakashi was completely in control; on a whim the kunai would slide into his skin, ending his life if it went far enough.
All of Naruto's energy froze with his posture. He was 'defeated' in almost every sense of the word.
"Slow down... I didn't say start yet." the Jonin casually whispered to him.
Kakashi raised the strong hand that was holding Naruto's arm when a pair of whooshing noises approached them. He caught two loosed shurikens, the traditional star-shaped weapons of the ninja world, whose aim would have been dead-on if not for his reaction time. The speed and tenacity of the attacker matched his ferocity, as Kakashi saw that one of the Genin was missing.
"What the-?" Sakura saw Sasuke disappear from her side, completely out of sight.
'I didn't even say start and they're already trying to kill me...' thought Kakashi, but he secretly blamed himself for losing track of the Uchiha during the exchange with Naruto. The Uchiha clan had a reputation for being fierce, ruthless warriors with a demonic heritage to match their demonic eyes. He should have guessed that even one of their last sons would inherit the clan's talents.
This training exercise was becoming a true battle of life and death. Kakashi wondered if he might have to use 'it'... and he quickly dropped the thought. The chances of this exercise coming to that were extremely low.
"HAAAAAAH!" Naruto yelled.
For only a moment, Kakashi lessened some of his grip in order to catch the corresponding shurikens in time. He still had Sasuke's shurikens dangling on his index and middle fingers, while he used his kunai-gripping hand to keep Naruto's trapped arm in place with the kunai facing downward. Meanwhile, Naruto felt the kunai on his neck move slightly, and boldly he ducked before the jonin could readjust himself, and Naruto spun while crouched and tried to punch Kakashi in the crotch.
Kakashi dropped his kunai and blocked Naruto's punch with his knee. His balance was still perfect; Naruto fell back when Kakashi pushed him forward with his leg, then he hopped backward and avoided the next flurry of shurikens that raced from the shadows of the nearby trees aiming straight for his head. These were thrown clumsily, and over a long distance, so he dodged them effortlessly.
Naruto rolled to his feet and readied another kunai, and Sasuke leapt from a bush with his own kunai ready.
"Tch! What took you so long Mute-chiha?" mocked Naruto.
Sasuke didn't reply, staying focused on Kakashi, a look of murder in his eyes.
"Alright, since you two don't seem to have any problem with taking my life... I think it's time to show you why a Jonin is considered a high ninja, and why a Tokubetsu Jonin gets special recognition. Watch closely Naruto, I'm about to show you a magic trick. I'm going to kill Sasuke right in front of you."
With a blur, Kakashi grabbed and tossed a shuriken at Sasuke. The shuriken was aimed perfectly and struck Sasuke directly in the skull. Naruto gasped, because Sasuke didn't budge as the shuriken went through his face.
"Y-you've got to be kidding me!" Naruto yelled, "How is that possible?"
Kakashi took advantage of Naruto's confusion and closed in on him, using a kunai of his own to cut Naruto's leg.
Stalling Naruto with this pain, Kakashi thrusted his palm into Naruto's stomach, using enough strength to pull the child off of the ground and into the air. Kakashi twisted and slammed his leg into Naruto, blasting him through the air and watching as he sailed into the small body of water. Naruto hit the pond with an unnerving explosion as he carved through the water. After a few moments, the surface of the water had stilled.
Not recognizing an illusion, the core principle of genjutsu, was a rookie mistake. No, even rookies could understand genjutsu. This was a mistake only Naruto could make.
On the other hand, the diversion must have given the Uchiha the chance to plan his next few moves, and Miss Haruno had taken the chance to hide herself as well.
Since one of his students was probably unconscious and running out of air, and the other two were still missing, Kakashi took a big breath and sat down where he'd left his bag.
He pulled out a book out titled Icha Icha Paradise, a novel written by the Legendary Sannin Jiraiya, student of the third Hokage, detailing the unique and thrilling tales of love, the conquests of the heart, and the gushy, excrutiating eccentricities that glue relationships together. He had chewed down almost fifty pages before he had to report for duty yesterday, and he did a brief read of the last few pages of a steamy chapter before heading out for the survival test today.
Not that he'd tell his students or his colleagues such classified information.
'Damn it Naruto!'
Sakura cursed at him for putting her in such a terrible position. Most likely, they had to combine their efforts to stand a chance of reaching one of those bells. And Uzumaki's brazen efforts and cluelessness left him at the bottom of a pond, and it had been ten seconds now and he was still down there, and there weren't any bubbles on the surface.
'Damn it!' she couldn't let a team-mate perish, not like this. Sakura dove from her hiding place... the jonin instructor was fast when reacting in close combat, but he didn't seem interested in rescuing Naruto or ordering anyone to run and save him, and Sasuke was somewhere else, probably not caring whether Naruto lived or died. Compassion must have been in short supply today. Or humanity.
She sprinted toward the pond, batting her eye over at Kakashi every second or two. The sight of Kakashi sitting down and enjoying a book almost made Sakura stop in her tracks, then she remembered Naruto and dove into the pond after him.
The warm temperature of the water aided her while she clawed her way underwater. The genin found her unconscious teammate slumped at the bottom, and she swam toward him with everything her muscles could offer.
Sasuke bounced from his landing to the ground, stopping about twenty meters away from the reading Kakashi. If this whole test hadn't been pathetic for the genin team so far, Kakashi was whistling a cheery tune, just to make fun of them. The scowl on Sasuke's lips burned with familiar hatred. The same kind of awful emotion he'd felt long ago, for that man...
The feeling was close, but not exact. Still there was something about this Kakashi, the Copy Ninja, making the Uchiha's skin burn every time he saw him.
Something about his eye, maybe the one he was hiding with his mask and headband, was calling to him.
"Silence is uniform, but not lethal." Kakashi declared just loud enough for the genin to hear.
"The Uchiha were known for copying the techniques of rival nations and exploiting their weaknesses. Are you an Uchiha, Kakashi Hatake?" demanded Sasuke, clicking his finger along his last kunai.
The Jonin had been waiting for this sparkling question. He didn't take his eyes off of his book.
"Sorry, can't say I am. I did know an Uchiha once since he was on my team."
Sasuke flared his teeth, grunting, "Was his name...Itachi?"
Kakashi stopped reading the next sentence of the Icha Icha Paradise novel. Sasuke Uchiha, one of the last known living Uchiha in the world, whose brother had gone down in infamy for slaughtering their entire clan.
What were the odds that tiny Sasuke would wind up in the Leaf village, the very place that had the longest grudge against their clan?
Maybe that enmity served as a catalyst for this Sasuke's unusual dedication to his craft, because just like Naruto, he was shunned for his background, not for what he did or how he acted. And just like Naruto, that kind of treatment made them question the world around him and strive for truth and acknowledgment, and both required power unimaginable. Kakashi mused on this while he prepared his answer.
The next attack to come would surely be a vicious, calculated one.
"No." was Kakashi's calm answer.
The Genin abandoned his scowl and dropped his balance. Kakashi saw this, thinking of it only as something unorthodox, right before Sasuke shot his hands forward and pressed them on the ground like a push-up. By the time he got up again, Kakashi saw the shadows that split from the trees and heard the sound of a trap going off, and most of Sasuke's shurikens were headed his way.
The shurikens burned up in mid-air.
"Huh?" Kakashi saw them and stuffed his book into his bag.
Sasuke charged him, a kunai laced in his fingers, and every step he made caused an unnatural noise to creak underneath him.
More shuriken traps activated, and their trajectories were lined up so well that they would form two walls around Sasuke's path as he drew closer and closer.
"Clever kid." Kakashi admitted, more to himself than anyone else. He took off in full sprint towards Sasuke, a tactic that threw Sasuke's expectations for a loop.
The shurikens whisked around them just as Sasuke had his kunai at the Jonin's chest.
Kakashi sensed this and caught his arm with incredible speed, yet the Uchiha wasn't as easy to read as his team mate. He swung his other hand at Kakashi's leg, weaponless.
His fingers pushed one of the bells.
But those fingers were instantly smacked away by Kakashi's free hand. The battle was one-sided now, and the Jonin shoved his student backward while they were connected with his free palm. It was a non-taijutsu based manuever, but the fact that Sasuke had come so close to taking a bell alarmed the Jonin. Kakashi wasn't sweating when they disconnected and slid away from each other, but his student was breathing hard, and the wall of shurikens faded from his vision.
"You understand illusions, I'll give you that. But what you don't understand is that even if I wasn't a high-level ninja, all it took was one logical clue to defuse your tactic-"
"The number of shuriken. Genin would never carry that many, right?" Sasuke smirked.
Kakashi glanced at his feet. A kunai was placed in the ground next to his left foot, and a tag, some wire, and a tiny cylinder were attached to it. An explosive tag.
Both Genin reached the surface and Sakura put Naruto on his back and started chest compressions. When that didn't work, she grimaced and got ready to breath into his mouth. With one huge breath, Sakura pressed her lips against his, forcing the oxygen into his lungs, her thoughts vaulting from disgust to paranoia. When she stopped and examined him, he started coughing and spat out some of the pond water.
Naruto opened his eyes and fought to breath when he saw Sakura looming over him, but she swiftly stood up when an explosion boomed from the direction of the tree stump where they'd started at in the beginning.
A cloud of dirt drizzled on the training field. The two Genin saw their comrade leap out of the cloud with a kunai in his right hand, and his left hand cupped over his mouth. Sasuke was getting ready to use a powerful jutsu.
When Sakura looked again though, she saw that Sasuke's mouth was bleeding from a vertical, knife-like cut and he was trying to hold the bleeding. She saw Kakashi falling from above the explosion, a kunai prone in his hands, and Sasuke was too withdrawn to notice his descending attacker or the weapon in his hand to respond.
Sakura rushed and yanked her shurikens out, and chucked two and then a third at Kakashi.
Her comrade heard the whooshing noises and twisted to the right to avoid, and one of the shurikens was flying at him and missed. A mere diversion as the other two went for their instructor, but he saw them coming and dodged them easily, and followed Sasuke as he retreated. He wasn't about to let the most dangerous one in the group get away; he had to put Sasuke down first.
He stabbed the ground where Sasuke's head was seconds before, and now that he was on the ground he saw Sakura heading straight towards him. This was just another illusion and one that kept running at him before dissolving.
A shuriken camouflaged by the illusion cut a small tear in the jonin's vest. He grunted, and tensed while awaiting the Genins' next attack.
It came a bit louder than expected.
Kakashi spotted the loud-mouthed one, soaking wet and placing his hands together in a rare hand sign. Kakashi figured he was going to have to save the unconscious brat after quickly disposing of Sasuke, but Sakura had saved Naruto on her own. Maybe there was some hope for this group after all. If they started working together, then perhaps, with luck, Sasuke might have managed to take a bell.
That said little about his own assessment since Naruto was still standing without any broken bones.
Naruto continued yelling, "NEXT TIME YOU THROW ME INTO A POND LIKE SOME KIND OF PEDOPHILE, YOU BETTER MAKE SURE I'M DEAD!"
"Humph, I was sure I had broken a few ribs with that kick-"
As Kakashi taunted him, Naruto cut him off and furiously shouted, "KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!"
The jonin's eyes widened with shock.
Several paces away, Naruto was obscured by several plumes of smoke, and suddenly there were six, no, seven Narutos standing around him. With eight Naruto's in the same position, they all sprinted at him, fists roaring.
This technique would be impossible for a regular genin to do. Just like Iruka had informed him, this forbidden jutsu was mastered by a small, foolish child. It was the excuse for Naruto Uzumaki to graduate the academy, even though no one knew how or when he had stolen this jutsu, or where he could have acquired the scroll with its instructions. Now Kakashi could analyze just how far Naruto had studied the jutsu, and with time, he was going to learn where he had hidden the scroll and what his connections to Mizuki were. In all honesty, Naruto was far too stupid to be a terrorist... the traitor must have trusted Naruto with the scroll knowing that no one would suspect him.
It wouldn't have been a bad move if Naruto were a normal kid with normal aspirations.
This event would've been less surprising if someone more talented and rational like Sasuke or Sakura had used it. He might have bought that Sasuke might have a connection to a rival village, but of course it wasn't that simple. Kakashi reasoned that somewhere in the trees, the two of them were probably stupefied about how Naruto, of all people, could use such a strange technique.
He was wrong though, and right as the first Naruto got within striking range, a tree far-off in the thick of the woods exploded into flames. Katon no' Jutsu; the art of using fire as a distraction from one's planned point of entry. A pathetic distraction at best.
Kakashi caught Naruto's fist and brought a knee to the shadow clone's chest.
The shadow clone was fast, faster than the original, and parried with its other hand.
'Of course!' Kakashi realized, 'Shadow clones have a literal name; they move as fast as a person's shadow, and they're extremely light on their feet!'
The shadow clone was very light, so even though it was solid enough to attack, the jonin lifted it off the ground by its hand.
Six more hands almost punched him in the stomach and Kakashi back pedaled with the shadow clone in his grasp. The clone tried to kick him in the face and missed when he bent his neck to the left. Naruto's clone screamed when the jonin crushed its wrist with his one hand, nullifying any more hand signs the clone might have been capable of. Then he hurled the clone into the crowd of clones.
"Damn it!" cried the Naruto with the broken wrist.
Two of the shadow clones worked their way out of the attack and charged again, pulling out their cloned kunais from their cloned bags. Kakashi braced himself, and vaulted between the two shadow clones.
He grabbed one Naruto's collar and yanked him, almost pulling him to the ground. The other shadow clone watched in horror as Kakashi grabbed its comrade, and with minor exertion, twisted its neck until a snapping sound chirped out. The shadow clone dropped to the ground lifelessly and the remaining Narutos stared at the jonin. A mix of fear and anger tainted them.
The shadow clone that had attacked alongside the dead shadow clone was closest, so Kakashi reached over and assaulted that Naruto. With his kunai drawn, he broke through the shadow clone's defenses and buried his kunai in the shadow clone's neck, then unfastened his kunai and allowed the shadow clone to collapse like the previous one.
Five Naruto's remained and a fire raged on the other side of the fields, but the jonin ignored this and kept his attention on Naruto. Shadow clones may have looked like the user, moved faster than them, and had solid forms, but to an untrained user they shared the same weaknesses.
The Narutos got ready for another attack when figures raced towards their battle. Six Harunos and six Sasukes ran at breakneck speed, with Sakura's clones being less transparent, right for Kakashi. Four of the Sasukes halted and pulled out their illusionary kunai before chucking them at the jonin. Two Sasukes burst into flame, and the Sakuras hopped and performed simultaneous aerial kicks. As they did this, the five shadow clones joined the fray with their own weapons drawn.
Kakashi ducked as the real kunai thrown by the real Sasuke, hidden among his four images, whizzed past his head.
He caught the real Sakura's leg and swung her around by her ankle, and he used her as a mace and bashed her against the first and second shadow clones, causing the other Narutos to halt.
Sasuke didn't stop his attack, and since he was out of shurikens and kunai, he opted for close-combat. He slid and tried to trip Kakashi, and the jonin raised and dropped his leg with perfect timing, pinning the Uchiha to the ground with his foot.
'I've had enough of this.' Kakashi kept one foot on Sasuke who was trying to remove it with both hands.
Dazed, Sakura couldn't escape Kakashi's clutches. She fleetingly noticed him retrieve two more shurikens, and then release them, until they found their homes in the skulls of two Narutos. That technique Naruto used wasn't an ordinary jutsu, they were just as mortal as their creator and, though she doubted Naruto knew this, their chakra was divided from the creator's, making each one effectively weaker individually and unable to use advanced techniques alone.
"GRRRRARRRRH!" all three Narutos leapt over their fallen comrades and ushered a battle cry for their ultimate cooperative strike.
Kakashi's left hand held Sakura by her ankle, his right foot was pinning Sasuke, and his free hand was still stretched from killing the last two shadow clones. Now he was finally off-guard.
Sasuke started punching the jonin's leg to no avail, and when the kunais of the three Narutos touched Kakashi's vest, the jonin fell back and rolled Sasuke at the shadow clones.
The tactic worked and Sasuke crashed into them, tripping all three clones. They hit the ground hard, nearly landing on top of Sasuke.
"NO!" Sakura cried, terrified as Kakashi, unbelievably, regained his balance before Naruto or Sasuke could recover.
She felt the hand wrapped around her ankle loosen. The female genin started to fall, but doing so she looked straight at the jonin instructor, and he reared his free left arm back and charged it with strength.
When Kakashi let go of her fully, he threw his left arm and introduced his superhuman strength to the center of her abdomen. Sakura felt what she thought were her ribs break under the pressure, and that was before gravity took control and the arch of the punch blasted her into the earth, creating a person-sized dent in the dirt and kicking up dust like a small, controlled explosion.
Her team mates saw only the end as the dust kicked up, and they saw Kakashi rise while Sakura laid on the ground, trying to clutch her stomach.
"Oh my god - SAKURA!" the Narutos cried. Sasuke said nothing, but his eyes were shaking.
Soon the young kunoichi must have felt unbelievable agony as she tried to curl up in fetal position; her body denied her so and this caused her to start convulsing, scared and too injured to cry for help. Her mouth watered with bile and violently started vomiting while she lay there on her back with her jonin instructor patiently observing, perhaps realizing the damage he'd caused and allowing a respite.
Sakura bled with tears, and her vomiting was nonstop as she kept struggling to register the damage and frantically tried to suppress it. It simply was not meant to be, and the only thing Kakashi intended to do was stand there and watch.
"You... you b-BASTARRRRD! Why are you just standing there!" the three shadow clones shot to their feet and ran closer to the wounded genin. "SHE'S HURT! She needs medical attention!"
"I warned you from the beginning!" said Kakashi, his voice churning with malice, "Make no mistake, here you face injury and DEATH!"
The jonin pirouetted and kicked one shadow clone that tried to jump onto him away. More than enough force to break few bones went into that kick.
When the second Naruto saw this, he decided to distract Kakashi while the third dove underneath him.
"Idiot!" said Kakashi, smacking the real Naruto away.
The shadow clone was quicker and nearly grabbed his ailing team mate, but Kakashi grabbed a kunai from his bag and switched it across the shadow clone's skull, stabbing the false Naruto through the head and sticking him to the ground.
Sakura turned over with the shadow clone that had its head pierced inches away from her face. She tried to scream, but all that came out was more of her liquefied breakfast.
The jonin scolded Naruto. "If you had tried moving Sakura in her condition, you would hav-"
"HAAAAA-!" Sasuke darted at Kakashi from a low angle, reaching for a bell.
"Enough!" the jonin impatiently yelled, disarming and capturing the Uchiha as easily as before. "BEFORE you interrupted me Sasuke, I was saying that if Naruto had moved Sakura like this, he would have caused more damage. She's probably suffering internal injuries right now. She didn't heed my warning about not eating and now that last hit was enough to make her puke, on top of coughing up blood. Even Naruto, of all people, didn't puke when I sent him into the lake. And you Sasuke, you might have the edge and the smarts to succeed, but you just charged me without caring about anyone else on the team. Sakura only mattered when she created those illusions and helped you to your goal!"
Caught in the jonin's grasp, Sasuke grumbled and tried not to look at his fallen team mate. Sakura gurgled on the ground, raising a hand defiantly when Kakashi insulted them, and her cheeks puffed and deflated vigorously. Naruto got up and saw his last remaining shadow clone get up as well, but that one got up with a broken arm and collapsed shortly after, breathing in harsh stints.
"I've beaten the hell out of you all so repeatedly and easily it almost isn't even fun anymore. And the best any of you have done is touch one of the bells. Most genin are just fighting over one of the bells by this point." Kakashi taunted.
"Stop talking! Sakura's hurt, you need to-"
"Quiet. You think the enemy is going to provide medical support? You think all of your big talk when everything's fine and dandy, and then this stupid show of affection is going to carry you through every battle? What if somebody dies then, hrm? Ever think about that, like what's going to happen soon if Sakura doesn't see a doctor? Are you just going to revive everyone with some ridiculous magic spell out of nowhere that resurrects everybody on your side that died in the heat of battle? Or maybe you'll just promise that none of them will ever get hurt and get yourself killed in the process!"
"I don't care about all that! So what if I'm loud, so what if I talk too much! That doesn't matter right now!" Naruto yelled, preparing for another charge. "What are you trying to prove? Trying to tell us that we suck as ninja and you're a tough son of a bitch? Fine, you win, just end it and treat Sakura!"
Kakashi shut his eyes and started speaking in a sarcastic voice, "Let's start with you Naruto! The reason you suck is because you lack control. You can't control your emotions. You can't control your mouth. You can't control your addiction to causing trouble and speaking out against the Hokage. You can't control how much chakra you disperse among your clones; you can't even control when the clones disappear! I've slaughtered more than half of your pathetic little shadows without breaking a sweat, captured two of your team mates twice, beat your clones with one of them, and now I'm holding a comrade's life in my hands. And right now, you can't control my actions."
"AND IF YOU INTERRUPT ME one more time, I'll BREAK Sasuke's neck and STOMP on Sakura until her stomach bursts!"
"Gh!" Naruto hesitated, a tear or two slipping down his face.
"See, I've got a hostage and one of your comrades is severely injured. What do you do when you're presented with an impossible choice? You can't beat me, but if you charge me you might make it away with Sakura. There's no way for you to break Sasuke free-"
Sasuke defiantly stomped on Kakashi's foot, but his escape attempt failed and Kakashi tightened his arm around Sasuke's neck so that he couldn't breath.
"Sasuke, you can't escape and your life is being threatened. Your team mate and yourself are completely out of shuriken or kunai, he has no chakra left, and I'm still fresh. You might have the ruthlessness of your clan and the intuition to match your opponent, but let's face it, you're a punk. A rank amateur at genjutsu and taijutsu. A newbie to death, even if your entire clan was wiped out before your very eyes, you're still green! I'm an emotionless, experienced killer who couldn't give a damn about your life or your mission. What do you do?"
Kakashi grabbed Sasuke by the back of his shirt, grabbing his neck with his other hand also, and hurled the genin at Naruto. They collided head first, screaming, and fumbled on top of each other before separating, terrified and embarrassed.
If this had been a normal exam, then the jonin would have been free to abandon the three genin to their fate. He could have gone home and finished reading his book, and maybe he'd read Sakura's obituary in the paper the next morning and probably face some sort of reprimand from her parents if she had them. But since this group consisted of a troublemaker and an outcast from an orphanage, he didn't doubt that Sakura was from the orphanage too.
Keeping the orphans together was a generous management decision. And keeping the test going might have meant killing Naruto, something that would be bad for Kakashi and the Leaf village. There was no use threatening him with Sasuke's life since the two despised each other regardless. But his admiration for Sakura however...
"Naruto, I'm going to ask you something, and how much I like your answer determines whether Sakura lives or dies. I'll end her life here so she doesn't have to suffer any longer."
Naruto gulped, clenching his fists without fighting the tears on his face. Sasuke, too, had his eyes wide open, and even without crying, the jonin could tell how visibly disturbed he was.
"The technique you use is called Kage bunshin no jutsu, shadow clones. It's a technique forbidden to all but the strongest Konoha ninja. It is stored on a sacred scroll that belongs in the Hokage's manor, and that scroll was stolen not long ago by a traitor to the leaf village. Tell me, did you ever have any contact with a man named Mizuki?"
"No! No! Of course not!" cried Naruto. "I-I did find a scroll and.. and that's where I learned the jutsu from! But I found it in the woods, and after I learned how to use shadow clones I lost the scroll! I never met this Mizuki person! Please just l-let Sakura go and find help!"
"You... lost it? Where exactly did you lose it?"
"It was taken from me!"
"I don't know his name. He was some old guy with glasses and he wouldn't tel me his name! He had a funny symbol on his head and he said he was part of the Konoha elder's council, and he said that if I didn't give the scroll back, I'd get in big trouble, but that if I gave it to him and never told anyone I gave it to him, he wouldn't tell anyone and would hand it back to the Hokage, no questions asked!"
"Do you swear this, Naruto?" Kakashi knelt and brought his kunai to Sakura's neck, "Do you swear you're telling the truth Naruto!"
"I SWEAR! I SWEAR! I SWEAR! I SWEAR! I SWEAR! I SWEAR! I SWEAR...!" Naruto fell to his knees, sobbing this same chant over and over.
The jonin's hand trembled a bit, seeing Naruto's eyes gaze back at him. Those eyes were no longer those of a genin. They changed, flashed into something demonic, the color of blood. There was no change in Naruto's facial expression except for those eyes and the chakra that was boiling behind them. Kakashi stood up and straightened himself, then walked over to Naruto and Sasuke, the latter whom raised his fists in self-defense.
Kakashi pulled the two bells from his waist and presented the two objects to them. Understandably, they weren't the least bit trusting.
"That's enough. I've decided I've gotten all that I can out of this exercise. You can both take these and hold on to life out here while I take Sakura to a doctor. With those bells, you two will pass."
When no response came from them, Kakashi sighed and dropped the bells on the ground.
"Fine. I'll leave and you can pick them up and keep them until I get back."
"Wait! What about Sakura!" pleaded the spiky-haired genin.
"Sakura will receive proper medical care under the Third's financial blessing. However, as you are both aware, I said only those with bells will proceed as genin. So Sakura will not move on. And given these injuries, she'll be lucky if she's able to walk or feed herself again, let alone work as a medical ninja like she wanted. I highly doubt she'll be able to bear children if she survives either, if she chooses to do so in the future."
"You're a sick man, Hatake." Sasuke bitterly uttered.
"That's right. I'm a sick person. I'm so sick that I'm giving you little punks the chance to redeem yourselves and win a spot for Sakura on Team 7 if she does pull through..."
The crying Naruto and angry Sasuke gazed up at Kakashi.
"You'll have until the afternoon to rest up and tend to your wounds and even eat if you want to. After that, you're to go into the woods and sleep there until I return here in three days. You are not to make contact with the villagers or go home and grab supplies. If I find so much as one hint that you've disobeyed this, I'll hunt you down and kill you myself. Since you're both tough-as-nails and determined to prove yourselves, I'm sure this will be a way to explore your survival skills and educate you on teamwork. Understand?"
"But that's... that's not what we were told we had to be ready for!" Naruto said, panting, "This whole survival exercise - I've never even heard of this thing until now! And now you're extending it after we just barely survived?"
"I'm not extending it. This isn't mandatory; you and Sasuke will pass if you go home now. However, if you succeed in this test, Sakura will be given back the right to remain a genin with no additional tests, and I'll have a little more respect for you guys. If you two break the rules beforehand or cave, then you'll lose your chances too."
Sasuke snorted. "If it's not mandatory, then-"
"Don't even think about it!" shouted Naruto, "Sakura deserves to stay a genin as much as we do! There's no way I'm going to leave a friend in the lurch!"
Something about the way Naruto phrased that sentence made Kakashi grin a bit under his mask. Indeed, their contrasts were becoming more apparent, and yet, when Sasuke took Naruto's argument and considered it, he didn't look pleased to be putting his neck out for someone else, but he glanced at Kakashi. Then he glared at Naruto like he was about to spit in his direction.
He responded, "Fine. I guess if a loser like you can stand it, then it should be a piece of cake for me!"
"That's the spirit!" said Kakashi, smiling.
With a whistle, Kakashi called to some unseen pack of dogs who'd been watching the fight the entire time without being noticed by the Genin team. Kakashi whispered something into the pack leader's ear and got a nod for it, then the pack leader had the rest of the dogs get ready to transport Sakura. Two extra dogs appeared from the trees with a wooden stretcher already prepared, and they nudged the genin on to it as she gradually lost consciousness. They had her on the stretcher before anything could be confirmed, and they traveled swiftly toward Konoha on their own without the jonin watching over them.
Instead, Kakashi faced Sasuke and Naruto.
"I'm going to give you a hint you two. This time, the point is for you to work together under extreme conditions. Scarce amounts of food and a dire cause; and I should mention that the weather report wasn't looking good for the next two days. If this is of any comfort to you, I'll make sure Sakura gets the best of care and-"
"You better!" Naruto threatened him. "If I come back from this and she's dying, I swear on everything that I'll make you suffer the same way you made her suffer!"
The Jonin nodded, still a bit unnerved, and took off after his pack of dogs to Konoha.
When the sun touched the horizon some time later, the two genin disappeared into the forests.
Another Note: This chapter got beta'd several times and I'm still not happy with it. I do hope that if you've read this far you're kind enough to disagree with me, or prove me wrong. But its going here for now since I liked it. No promises on when it'll be rewritten.