One Change: Chapter 12 – Chuunin Pt 1

Sorry for the long wait guys but I've recently gone back to school and it's my final year so I've been really busy and I've got retakes from last year to do because my exam results weren't great. Also I completed FFXIII-2 as well as starting Lightning Returns and having to restart FFXIII because my disk three save file corrupted D:

Thank you to: kkstev, realsky(anon), leosbabygirl84, Analelle, Yuki'sAngel(Anon), DeadlyNightshade(Anon), Uchiha Tsunako, silverwolfighter00, xPao-17x, XxNina-himexX, Guest and angel897

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Standard Disclaimers Apply

4 weeks later:

Itachi watched stoically as the three Genin stared back with impassive expressions.

"So have I made myself clear? In three hours the first round of the Chuunin selection exams begins and it is vital that you are all thoroughly prepared. The things that you will face will be one a new level to anything that you have had to deal with before. These exams will not only test your physical strength but also your mental and emotional strength." He continued to watch them as they absorbed every last bit of information that he had to give.

They'd been like this since he'd told them of the exams just under four weeks ago, he wouldn't call it solemn but they certainly were not acting as their usual selves. They'd been much more focussed on their training and rarely spoke with each other unless it was to convey a vital piece of information.

This troubled him slightly. They worked so well as part of a team unit so it was odd to see them suddenly become to independent. He had a theory, he theorized that they believed that individual strength was the way to passing through the Chuunin selection exams but they had not yet been informed that it was impossible to participate in the exams without two accompanying teammates.

Teamwork had never really been Itachi's strong suit because he had been brought up to think that he was in a class of his own. The first time he had to work as part of a team he had tried to stray off on his own and one of his teammates had ended up injured. Though it wasn't serious, he'd never really been able to rid himself of the guilt that the girls injury had brought on.

When he'd been placed on his permanent team within ANBU he found it a little easier to acclimatise to working with people. The reason for this was that he was already familiar with his teammates, his cousin Uchiha Shisui and Hatake Kakashi who had already made a name for himself.

"Before you go in there, tell me, what do you think is the purpose of taking part in these exams?" The question was simple but the Genin before him looked completely stumped, Itachi had been right in his assumptions that they hadn't really put any thought into the purpose of the exams.

Haruki was the first to speak up, "Well sensei, I think the answer to that is simple. Of course the main reason behind the exams is to determine who is ready to advance to the rank of Chuunin but there's another purpose as well. I think we're really taking this exam to see whether we want to continue being ninja or not. We've seen minimal amounts of conflict on the missions that we undertake right now and if we can't stomach that then we need to seriously rethink whether we're fit to be ninja or not." It was a surprising deep answer but not exactly what Itachi had been looking for. Of course he expected them to get to get the promotion purpose but he wanted to see what else they thought.

It was Sakura who spoke next, "Like Haruki said, of course the primary reason for this test is to see if we're ready for the promotion to Chuunin but the important thing is not what, it's how. The examiners want to see why we believe we're ready to be Chuunin and brute strength alone is going to do nothing to convince them. They want to see that we can think like Chuunin, adjust our plans in the middle of conflict and most importantly to know when we've had enough. We need to know when to give up or lean on our comrades, after all, the reason we work in teams is so that we're not alone when the going gets tough." For a twelve year old girl who knew very little of the world, Sakura was wise and seemed to understand the meaning of being a shinobi but there was still something missing, he wondered if Shin would be able to understand.

For a while after Sakura spoke there was silence. When Shin did look up his face was uncharacteristically serious, "To see if we're ready, if we've grown up enough to be placed in higher regard by the village." The answer was short but with all three answers together, Itachi felt as though team two finally understood why they we're entering this exam.

"Now that you finally seem to understand why you're doing this, there is something I want to tell you. Had one off you decided not to participate in this exam then none of you would have been able to enter. I'm glad you have all made the decision to take this challenge, I look forward to seeing you after the end of the second round." With that having been said, Itachi vanished but masked his chakra as he continued to watch the three Genin advance towards the academy where the first round would be held.

He had faith that every single one of them would be able to pass this round with ease, It was after all an exam based on intelligence. He knew that the aim was to cheat efficiently but he was sure that at least Sakura and Shin would be able to pass on pure Intelligence alone. Haruki had the Byakugan and would easily be able to cheat if he began to have any difficulty.

Now all he could do was wait.

One Change – Chuunin

Sakura was unsure what she was supposed to think about Itachi-sensei's admission. On one hand she thought that she should be angry with him because he could have jeopardized the whole exam should one of them have decided to wait until next year. On the other hand she could understand her teachers reasoning. He had meant to make sure that they were all individually ready for the challenge that they were about to face.

The waiting room that preceded the examination hall was particularly unassuming and packed full with hopeful Genin, some of which looked confident and some which looked less so. It was easy to distinguish those who felt assured of their victory from those who did not by the expressions on their faces. In the corner of the room Sakura could see a group of Kiri-nin that were eying the opposition with malicious grins; they easily fell into the group that were assured of their own victory and she noted that she would have to keep an eye on them.

The only other person that stood out in the room was a lanky boy, possibly a little taller than Haruki, with long red hair pulled back into a ponytail at the base of his neck. The front of it hung loose and was threaded intricately with an assortment of beads and feathers. Though he wasn't actually looking her she could see that he had piercing green eyes that glittered with a subtle intelligence hidden just beneath the surface. His stance was relaxed but the way he keenly observed his surroundings told her that he would be ready to strike at a seconds notice. His headband, tied loosely around the side of his head that wasn't covered by the thick hair, signified that he was allied with the Hot Water village.

Once they successfully made their way through the first round, Sakura noted that she would need to dig up some more information on this boy; after all, he could turn out to be one hell of a formidable opponent.

That's it for now :) Hope you enjoyed! Anybody remember a red-haired character from Sakura's past? Maybe there'll be some connection?!

Please leave me a review to let me know what you thought, things that could be improved or just some general comments!

Sei x