Iruka Umino's voice rang clearly through the classroom, and every newly appointed genin in it found themselves sitting up a little straighter. Their teacher was coming to the end of the team selection: anyone left would probably be picked soon.
A pink-haired girl sitting in the second farthest back row perked up, looking around. Her brow scrunched as she tried to figure out who her teammates could be. She turned her head, her short hair shifting slightly with the motion as it struggled to escape the hitai-ate keeping it secured behind her head.
Sakura peered at the boy next to her, barely daring to look at him in her peripheral vision. Could she dare to hope-?
The dark-eyed boy didn't react obviously. He didn't smile, or sigh, or close his eyes. But despite that, his shoulders shifted forward slightly, his clasped hands coming up farther in front of his face. There was a palatable sense of resignation… with a hint of relief.
He stared straight ahead and slightly below him, at the back of the head of the boy sitting in front of him. Then, he let a slight grin appear on his face.
"And Naruto Namikaze."
The Hokage's son turned around and looked straight into Sasuke's eyes. If Sasuke's grin was a glimmer of light crossing his face, then Naruto's was the sun itself.
The blonde wiggled his eyebrows.
"You really think that's a good idea?"
The Hokage shifted. "You're the only one I trust to do it."
"I'm flattered, sensei, believe me."
The man addressing the Hokage shifted, idly twisting his collar between two fingers.
He spoke, his voice careful. "But I don't think I'll be able to give everyone on the team enough attention. Sasuke and Naruto are both going to need watching… and the Haruno girl. Her parents are somewhat accomplished, and her teacher's say she really pulled herself together this year… but on a team like that?"
He shook his head. "Someone is going to get the shorter end of the stick."
Minato Namikaze smiled, lighting up the room. "Don't worry about that. I'm gonna be giving Naruto some pointers anyway. A little graduation present."
The man raised an eyebrow. "You're going to teach him that?"
The Hokage shrugged. "He won't stop bugging me. I figure the first time it knocks him on his ass will teach him a little humility."
Team Seven's sensei snorted. "I doubt it. Knowing him, he'll have it down by the end of the month, and then his head will just be even bigger."
Minato laughed. "Probably. But it'll be worth a shot, I think." He grew serious for a moment. "I'm counting on you, you know. Naruto… he's got the Will of Fire, I know it. And he'll lay his life down for his friends the minute he needs to, especially for Sasuke. But…"
The rest of the Hokage's sentence went unsaid, as the blonde stared off into the distance. There was a moment of silence.
"You know that they've been conspiring about Itachi again?" the other man asked, trying to distract his teacher. Minato nodded, his lips set in a flat line.
"Sasuke's become a little… fixated lately," the man continued. "The closer to graduation he's gotten, the more focused he's become."
"He's not ready yet." In contrast to his normal self, the Hokage sounded unusually sober.
The man snorted, making a minute adjustment to his forehead protector to hide his quick tic. "I doubt anyone will be ready for quite a while, sensei. Even you…"
"Would have turned out differently if Kushina hadn't been there," Minato muttered, finally managing to regain his humor.
The other man smiled: he and his teacher had had this discussion to many times to count already, and Minato had always fallen back on that argument.
"Yeah. That's why she was so pissed you didn't go after him," he joked.
The Hokage sighed. "Doesn't matter anymore," he said. "Listen." His voice was now completely serious again. "Someone needs to get Naruto into line. He's got the foundations… but you're the best person to finish the job. And I know for a fact you'll be able to keep Sasuke under control."
"Focus training on her. The other two can manage for now. She's got fantastic chakra control for her age. Work on that: genjutsu, evasion, speed training. I don't doubt you have some tricks to teach her."
"I don't know. Sounds like Shisui would have been better-"
"And he's dead," the Hokage cut him off. "You're the best option."
"I don't like that."
"Get used to it."
The office was silent once more.
Finally, the other man sighed. "Alright. But someone is going to regret this."
Minato smiled. "Maybe. But it'll certainly be fun to watch."
The man chuckled.
"So who do you think'll be our sensei?" Naruto was sitting on top of one of the lecture tables, his legs tucked slightly in and his arms cast over them. He idly scratched his nose with one hand.
Sasuke shrugged. "Asuma, maybe?" He didn't sound like he was very interested in the conversation, leaning against the window and looking out over the village, but Naruto knew that if he wasn't interested, then he wouldn't participate in the first place.
That was how Sasuke approached everything: directly.
"What? The old man's son?" Naruto asked.
"Maybe," Sasuke shrugged. "He's a Sarutobi, so he's probably got fire jutsu. But he's also got a wind affinity, so he could help you out. And he's a Hokage's son: I bet your dad would find that pretty funny."
Naruto pulled a face.
Sakura just watched the conversation, afraid to step in. She wasn't sure if she was apprehensive or ecstatic.
Mostly, she was quiet.
Being on a team with Sasuke had been her dream ever since she'd first met him, all those years ago. He was handsome, respectful, and polite.
And though there was a kind of coldness in him, a suppressed sense of ambivalence to what happened around him, it just made him more appealing.
But Sakura was barely thirteen: she didn't really understand why that was.
Naruto, on the other hand… Sakura was somewhat intimidated by him.
The son of Minato Namikaze, the Yondaime Hokage, and Kushina Uzumaki, one of Konoha's most famous kunoichi.
He was brash and loud. He was also rather dumb, at least when it came to tests. His taijutsu was average, but not as impressive as Sasuke's. The same could be said for his ninjutsu.
He'd barely managed to scrape together a successful clone jutsu for the test. His chakra control was fairly abysmal.
But Naruto was the Hokage's son, and people said that he had been learning from his parents as soon as he could walk. He may have been book-dumb, but she had heard that he already knew the basics of fuinjutsu, something that Sakura had no working knowledge of.
And he learned quickly. Sakura knew for a fact that he hadn't been able to use a basic bunshin two weeks ago. He'd only learned it for the test.
"What do you think, Sakura?" Naruto turned to her, and she blinked and straightened up from her thinking pose.
"What?" she asked, and then winced. "Sorry. I wasn't listening."
"Who do you think our sensei's gonna be?" Naruto asked patiently, staring at her. She didn't understand why he did that. Maybe he was looking at her forehead. Ino said tying her hair behind her head would make her look more like a ninja, but maybe she was just trying to sabotage her? But why would she-
"Sakura?" Naruto asked, puzzled. "You okay?"
Sakura shook her head, trying to clear it. "Yeah. Uhh…" she bit her lip.
Unlike Naruto and Sasuke, Sakura didn't know many of the jōnin who took students on after they were assigned teams. The only one she did personally was-
"Maybe Kurenai-sensei?" she suggested. The red-eyed woman was friends with her parents: she'd even taught Sakura a very basic genjutsu for hiding blemishes a year or so earlier.
Naruto looked thoughtful. "Maybe," he said. He gestured to Sasuke. "She could help Sasuke out with his Sharingan." He laughed. "And everyone knows I couldn't use genjutsu if my life depended on it."
"Sakura has good chakra control," Sasuke quietly suggested. "Kurenai would be a good match for her."
Sakura blushed and lowered her head, secretly pleased that Sasuke had noticed anything about her.
Naruto nodded. "Yeah," he said. "I dunno, though. Who knows who we'll end up getting stuck with? It might even be-"
The room was filled with a bizarre noise. It sounded like water running over electrified stones, or a generator in the midst of heating up being dropped down an elevator shaft.
Sakura stood up, staring around, trying to locate the source.
Naruto's eyes went wide.
Sasuke closed his, bringing one hand up towards his face.
A hole opened in reality: a dark void, about the size of an eye, in the center of the room.
A man swirled out of it.
He wasn't very tall: only about five-foot seven. He wore a dark blue bodysuit, with a standard jōnin flak jacket over it. There was an impressively straight scar starting just below his left eye, running just past his mouth and under his chin.
He wore steel armguards, plain of ornamentation and covered in minute scratches and dents. There was a small sheathed blade sitting on the small of his back, set horizontally. His hitai-ate, tied around his forehead, was affixed to an orange cloth.
"Obito," Naruto finished, looking somewhere between constipated and excited.
Obito Uchiha stared at his teacher's son, the next prodigy of his clan, and a kunoichi in training who was probably going to spend the next couple months far out of her league.
He raised two fingers to his forehead, bumping them against his hitai-ate.
AN: So yeah.
But seriously, I have plans for this thing. It's definitely lighter and softer than Not Sick (because you would not believe how much Obito living changes; plotting out the butterflies took me quite a while).
I probably won't be updating this for a while, since I'll be focusing on Not Sick, but I wanted to get it out there. So here it is.
Also: yes, Morta's Priest has done this story already. I don't care. This one is going to be different.