Author Note

Hi there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.

Nidaime no Sairin

Chapter 12 – Chunin Exams Part I

Beta: Scheffinator

Sarutobi Asuma was relaxing with a smoke as he observed his team train. Since he returned from the Capital, he had performed another quick C-ranked with his team as well as a couple of D-ranked here and there, much to Shikamaru's visible complaint. As jounin sensei of Team 10, Asuma had received the report of his genins' activities. Shikamaru's trip with his family as well as the Yamanaka and Akimichi clans bore great fruit in terms of teamwork exercises and even some training with shadow manipulation. Hinata and Naruto had also trained a lot with Hinata staying inside her compound training with her father. Asuma had surprisingly so received high praise from Hinata's father, saying that she has improved greatly under his command.

Asuma found it hard to accept the praise, considering that it was mostly Naruto who got the Hyuuga heiress to where she was now.

As to Naruto, Asuma had simply stopped being surprised.

Asuma had known about Naruto's time with Kurenai in genjutsu practice, going as far as to participate in a B-ranked assignment that involved one of Kurenai's students Yakumo and the Kurama Clan. If that wasn't surprising enough, Naruto had even shown the bearded jounin the beginnings of water manipulation exercise, one of his so called 'side projects'. While Naruto only showed him the beginning stages of suiton manipulation, Asuma couldn't help but whistle at the speed in which this kid was growing.

While true that Naruto had an affinity for water as well, using two elements in his first year of graduation placed him easily under the term of a prodigy. Not only on ninjutsu, but genjutsu, fuinjutsu and kenjutsu as well…truly Asuma wondered if the kid ever bothered sleeping. Kurenai had certainly bombarded him ever since he came back from his trip, with demands about sharing Naruto's training with her from time to time as she had finally found a genjutsu user to tutor.

Of course, she had Yakumo for that, but the Kurama heir truly needed no tutorship in that regard.

Asuma chuckled as Naruto took less than a couple minutes sparring with Shikamaru, before the lazy genius was on the ground panting for breath. Shikamaru's training trip may have helped him, but Naruto was never known for taking it easy.

"You're alright Shika?"

The frown on his face was evidence enough that he shouldn't even bother accepting to spar with his teammate.

"I told you it is worthless to try and face you in taijutsu." Naruto smiles as he offers a hand for Shikamaru.

"Nonsense, you have improved greatly Shika. I am betting you have trained a lot. Keep up the good work".

Hinata quietly observed the spar as she would be next to face Naruto. She couldn't help but see the humor in Shikamaru's sounds of complaint when in the presence of Naruto's drive. Looking at her genin superior, Hinata couldn't help but blush at her senpai's new clothes. Naruto's new attire consists of a fishnet shirt covered by dark blue short-sleeve yukata and dark blue pants with yellow tied by yellow sash. Both his wrists were wrapped by bandages just like Kurenai's thighs. When the girls asked what main color he envisioned, dark blue was his immediate answer as he remembered the Nidaime's clothes. After that, Hinata, Yakumo and Kurenai had helped him choose. Hinata saw how fine he was dressed in dark blue and the yellow sash matched with his golden hair.

"Okay Hinata, you're up…hopefully you can last longer than Shikamaru here."

Both Naruto and Hinata laughed both at Asuma's comment and Shikamaru's mumbling response.

"Feel free to use the jyuuken, Hinata. It will serve as practice against Neji when you next spar with him." Hinata smiled and fell into her fluid stance. After defeating Hanabi in their fight, Hinata had gained a boost in confidence. While never outgoing, she now went from lack of self trust to a reserved girl that stood out for herself. And Hiashi was pleased with her growth, so he had placed Hinata to face off against the clan's branch house prodigy Hyuuga Neji. Truth be told, Hinata had not considered herself ready not even remotely.

"Ah Neji-niisan is a year older than me Naruto-kun and a genius. I..I can't hope to defeat him"

Naruto merely tsked at her comment downgrading her skills like that.

"Experience counts a great deal Hinata, but your style of fighting compensates any lack of experience towards an older enemy. From what you said, Neji's style is not that different from Hanabi's. That rigid stance of your clan can't deal much with this style you created. So truly, Neji only has superior strength, but we had practiced many times together. Now, let's begin!" Hinata noticed as Naruto dashed towards her position at high speed as her Byakugan saw the use of chakra on his limbs. Hinata had used her style and diverted Naruto's punch.

The face-off causes dirt to get up from the ground.

Asuma saw it and chuckled. He saw the look in Hinata's eyes spark as she sparred with Naruto. Kurenai was right. Naruto's drive to improve rubbed off on Hinata to the point that the Hyuuga girl became quite the menace in close range fighting. Hinata's hands glowed with chakra as she attempted to break Naruto's guard. Naruto was already familiar with fighting against the jyuuken, so he was wary of her fingers and palm thrusts. And with her byakugan, Hinata was able to follow Naruto's movements. Naruto is highly efficient in using chakra to his moves so her eye pinpointed exactly which limb and where her teammate would strike.

Still, as the fight progressed, like she expected, Naruto increased his speed.

In a way, Hinata was happy to be in this position right now. Despite her already knowing that it wouldn't take much longer for her to tire and call it quits, she could see how much she had improved by seeing how her senpai Naruto was taking her seriously in this fight. It came as a position of respect to be acknowledged by whom she considered her senior, despite being the same age. As soon as Hinata had lost her footing in dodging one of Naruto's punches, Asuma-sensei had called the end of the match just as Naruto was about to follow up with a direct hit to her stomach.

"Nicely done, Hinata…you sure improved with the jyuuken." The girl was panting for breath, but still standing as Asuma praised her. "And it appears your stamina improved as well."

"H..hai, tou-san has been tutoring me in the jyuuken more these days." Asuma chuckled at the girl still fidgeting somewhat with her fingers at his praise.

"Alright then, Naruto, Shikamaru, Hinata, take a seat and get some rest, I have some news to tell you three."

"Oh troublesome, you're doing it right? You're nominating us?" The bearded jounin couldn't help but chuckle at the little genius Nara, while Hinata and Naruto were looking at each other, clueless.

Well, since his Shikamaru's father is the Jonin Commander, him knowing about it firsthand was no surprise.

===Flashback to this morning in the Hokage's Office===

The Hokage had summoned all of the most senior chunin and jounin to one of the giant halls of the Hokage's Administration Building for an important announcement.

"So it has started, then." Kakashi stood next to Asuma and Kurenai as both his fellow jounin nodded, both already knowing what this was about. Sarutobi Hiruzen had looked around and figured that most were present.

"Indeed Kakashi, now allow me to make the formal announcement…in a few days time, the Chunin Exams will begin. Now, then, in conjunction with beginning the Chunin Exams, I want to hear the names of the Genin that you wish to nominate…beginning with those in charge of the rookie Genins…Kakashi, Asuma, Kurenai, please step forward." The three Jonin did as commanded as Hiruzen eyed them warily as per the situation required. "So, are there any Genins from your squads you wish to nominate? It goes without saying that only a Genin who has carried out eight or more formal missions is hereby allowed to be nominated, but at least double that amount would be advisable, so let us hear you three, starting with you Kakashi."

Those in the back didn't even need to hear the Jonin-sensei for as they knew that nominating recently graduated Genin was out of the question. That was certainly what Umino Iruka was thinking as he waited for Kakashi to speak.

The silver haired jounin formed the ram hand sign and spoke with as much boredom as his apparent visage.

"Hatake Kakashi, Jonin-sensei of Team 7 composed of Uchiha Sasuke, Inuzuka Kiba and Haruno Sakura, I hereby nominate all three for the Chunin Exams."

The announcement came as a shock to everyone present, but Kurenai soon went after Kakashi.

"Yuuhi Kurenai, Jonin-sensei of Team 8 composed of Akimichi Chouji, Aburame Shino and Yamanaka Ino, I hereby nominate all three for the Chunin Exams."

Iruka by this point was wondering what the hell was going on as Asuma went up last.

"Sarutobi Asuma, Jonin-sensei of Team 10 composed of Hyuuga Hinata, Nara Shikamaru and Uzumaki Naruto, I hereby nominate all three for the Chunin Exams."

Immediately after the three jounin announced their respective teams, Hiruzen simply acknowledged with a hum of his throat, while the rest of the shinobi all murmured behind them, about how strong these rookie genin must be to be nominated right off the bat. Of course, it was no secret at least to Hiruzen who had spoken with the three jounin already about having these nine genin participate in the chunin exams, considering that this generation was composed of clan heirs, meaning that the village could receive quite the income from missions. While it was underhanded placing green shinobi to be used like this, it was one of the Hokage's jobs to bring in revenue for the village and he had high hopes that these three nine genin will surprise everyone in a positive manner.

"Hey, wait a minute here…" Iruka had about enough of this charade, though, and stepped forward earning the jounin's attention.

"What is it, Iruka? Speak your mind." The chunin teacher gestured exasperated, showing his objection.

"Forgive me Hokage-sama, but I was in charge of these genin in the academy…I admit that they all showed advanced skills, but this is too soon for them." Kakashi, Asuma and Kurenai all looked at Iruka with apathy. Kurenai and Asuma really didn't bother much explaining their reasons, but Kakashi with his bored almost falling asleep look, decided to entertain the Chunin's pledge.

"I became a chunin when I was six years younger than Sasuke is now."

"This is not war time, Kakashi, is it your wish to crush these kids?" Kakashi wasn't bothered by Iruka's sudden outburst however.

"My team always complains about wanting important missions and such, so teaching them a lesson would be fun, wouldn't you say, Iruka? Crushing them would be quite fun too." The Chunin felt insulted by the insinuation.

"What did you say?"

"Well, joking aside, I understand where you're coming from, however…" Asuma and Kurenai turned to see Kakashi and knew that their fellow jounin wouldn't mince words right now. "Stay out of this! They are not your students anymore, they are our subordinates and is up to us and only us to define whether or not they are ready for the Exams!" Iruka was truly about to hurl some obscenities at Kakashi for what he said, while Kurenai and Asuma had simply sighed in dismay. Though, they knew that saying their peace of mind would at least place Iruka's mind at ease.

"Iruka, despite Kakashi's harsh words, he is right…they are our subordinates." Kurenai said with a smile on her face.

"Plus, we wouldn't be irresponsible in simply throwing them in the Chunin Exams if we didn't believe that they weren't ready." Asuma then followed with his cigarette in between his teeth, before Kurenai turned to him.

"Though, it is quite unfair that your team has Naruto-kun in it." The bearded jounin merely shrugged, still unable to take credit for the daily surprise.

Hiruzen just observed the conversation, and it was clear that he was enjoying it.

"Enough everyone…Iruka, Kakashi is right. The Genins are now their subordinates, so they are free to be nominated." The Chunin in question frowned but said nothing else. He wouldn't be pressing the issue any further. "Furthermore, I don't need to stress that everyone needs to be on high alert. There are too many Genin and Jonin from the other villages, so it's imperative to be on the lookout for any strange activity from each and every one of them." The ones present knew what the Hokage was saying and paid close attention.

"Do you have any suspicion, Hokage-sama?" The village leader took a puff from his pipe and turned to Kakashi.

"Reports are coming still and none stand out so far…many rumors going on and many uncertainties from the other villages, so maintain complete vigilance."

With that, the Hokage had dismissed everyone, especially the three jounin to communicate their respective genin.

===Back with Team 10===

Asuma saw the gathered team with a smile as he began his announcement for them. The sun was minutes away from setting for the day as the Genin took a seat around Asuma.

"As Shikamaru probably already knows, in a couple of days, Konoha will host the Chunin Exams." The news came as a surprise to Naruto, since he caught up on the sudden movement from visitors inside Konoha since the beginning of this week. At the time, he had simply waved it off, figuring that there was a festival of some kind. Plus, with some missions and training underway, the blonde shinobi had other concerns. "In a couple of days, Genins from other villages shall arrive to participate in an event that will demonstrate whether or not they are ready for the promotion and as of this morning, I had nominated you three as eligible to participate." The response varied after his announcement.

Shikamaru mumbled…Hinata 'eeped' in surprise and Naruto became elated at the prospect.

"Do you think we have what it takes to become Chunin, sensei?" It came as a surprise to Asuma that it was Naruto who asked that to him. Aside from a little more experience, the blond genin was already Chunin material.

Still, the question brought about the other two's interest, so Asuma addressed everyone instead.

"If I didn't believe you three weren't capable, I wouldn't have nominated you three. We already reached the minimal mission requirement for the participation and it shall be a good experience for you three to face off after Genin from other villages." Still, Hinata was the one who still looked skeptical about herself. Well, he needed to explain to them that attending was optional, of course withholding information that if one chose not to come, then the rest of them wouldn't be able to participate. "Of course, if any of you feel like you want to wait a while, participating is optional." As Asuma excepted, Hinata relaxed a little bit, but she still looked concerned while looking subtlety at her teammates for confirmation.

"Well, you all are free for the rest of the day and until the day of the exams and if you choose to attend, then here are the forms." After handing the forms, Asuma placed both hands on his waist.

"Ok now run along…think about it and see you at the exams…or not." Shikamaru was the first who yawned and bid everyone goodbye.

Naruto was seen whispering some encouraging words to Hinata, who appreciated it and bid him and Asuma goodbye after that, leaving Naruto and Asuma alone.

"I guess I don't need to ask whether or not you want to go, huh Naruto, but please do not pressure Hinata into going if she is resistant." Naruto negated the accusation looked at the Jonin.

"Don't worry, I won't pressure her into going. All I said to her was that she could talk about it with either you or Kurenai-sensei before deciding. But her family will pressure her into going, I'm afraid." Asuma sighed, concurring.

"Indeed, for a Hyuuga, especially the main family, to back off from this…Hiashi would not take that lightly." Naruto shrugged in the end; this was a door that Hinata herself needed to pass herself in the end. "Still, there was also something I wished to convey to you, Naruto." He looked as Asuma opened a bright smile. "It's quite impressive how you had taken a position of leadership amongst some of your peers." Naruto looked in surprise at that and couldn't help but avert his eyes somewhat at the praise, though Naruto smiled in content. "Not only to Hinata and Shikamaru, but Sakura, Chouji and Sasuke as well, from what both Kakashi and Kurenai told me."

"Well, I don't know about that…I mean…all I did was try to give them some pointers here and there." A chuckle escaped from Asuma's mouth at that.

"Don't be modest, Naruto…be proud of that. To become a Chunin, skill alone does not mean much. Being a chunin requires experience and leadership. There will come a time when you will be pointed out squad leader for a mission and you will get to lead genins and even other Chunin." It only dawned on Naruto now the words of wisdom he was receiving. True, the Nidaime's lessons, his training on his own and with either Asuma, Kakashi or Kurenai-sensei…they had only prepared him so much. Being a squad leader…being responsible for the lives of your team…that he would only get to learn with experience. And there will be times when he will make a mistake. However, Naruto had truly remarkable role models to follow.

"I guess I understand, Asuma-sensei, though it's quite scary now that you mention it." Asuma just hummed in approval. He would be disappointed had Naruto said something laced with arrogance.

"Indeed it is…as you grow, the challenges ahead of you will be harder. And with your drive to improve, I have no doubt that you will be quite an accomplished shinobi, Naruto."

Going from genes alone, that was an understatement in Asuma's opinion. But then he remembered some of the beef he had with his father, so Asuma refrained from that line of thinking.

"Thank you, Asuma-sensei. Well, I can already state that I will be there…and Shikamaru will as well, hhehhee, his mother will kick him all the way to Suna if he doesn't go. See you Asuma-sensei." The bearded jounin waved at the kid, while sharing the humor of a Nara Yoshino chasing Shikamaru throughout the village and dropping him at the academy soon after. Once alone, he just lighted another cigarette and casually walked towards the Hidden Leaf Village, while the city lights slowly came to life in front of his eyes. With nothing better to do for the day, Asuma went straight to the Sarutobi Compound and took it easy.

===Chunin Exams Start===

When the date of the Exam occurred, the village was in uproar with the opened gates. Many…many people flooded through the gates: visitors, vendors, customers and Genin from other villages as well, plus the Jonin responsible. As such, the hidden village in the leaves worked double in providing security for everyone. The village counted with the help of the Anbu force and the Chunin guards to investigate if the Genin and the Jonin from other villages matched with the list they had. Many of the Chunin guards were sensors, as such they had the ability to scout for possible invaders…eventual shinobi or kunoichi disguised as the ones Konoha had on the list. So far, nothing out of the ordinary occurred, though.

At least, nothing considering the foreigner's behavior.

However, on the main road there was a skirmish with the village's troublemaker and the Sandaime's grandson Sarutobi Konohamaru and his two friends Moegi and Udon.

Konohamaru was a scrawny little kid wearing yellow shirt, brown pants, a set of goggles and a long scarf. And right now, the little troublemaker was running for his life together with his friends as one Haruno Sakura was chasing them, after a comment from Konohamaru regarding her let's say front assets or lack thereof. Of course, the fiery Haruno wouldn't take the comment lightly and chased after the three. Kiba and Akamaru were with her when it happened and instead of trying to stop her from killing the Hokage's grandson, the Inuzuka merely pointed at Sakura and laughed his ass off about the comment.

Of course, before Sakura chased Konohamaru, Sakura punched Kiba hard on his stomach. Of course, with her chakra control being even higher than Naruto's, Sakura managed to pack quite the chakra enhanced punch.

"Ahhh, she is going to kill us…crazy lady…I'm sorry." If possible, Sakura was even angrier when she heard the brat's comment.

"Come back here, you little creep. I'll teach you some manners." Konohamaru screamed his ass off out of fright as they saw Sakura approach them slowly but surely.

Konohamaru was running while looking back to see Sakura's position, so he didn't see that he was running straight towards a Genin from Suna wearing a black hooded jumpsuit and war paint on his face. The kid slammed into the Genin and fell on his butt on the ground. Sakura and Kiba soon appeared as they recognized the guy's Suna headband. Plus, there was a girl next to him with blond hair tied in four pigtails, wearing light gray clothes with fishnet clothing. The guy was looking straight towards Konohamaru.

"That hurts, little shit!" He then grabbed Konohamaru by the scarf and dragged him forcefully up in the air. The kid tried in vain to get away, but his airpipe was being squeezed.

"Hey, let him go, it was just an accident." Kiba was about to charge at this punk for daring to attack Konohamaru, no matter how much of a pain this kid actually was.

"Oi, stop that, you'll get us in trouble, Kankuro." The Suna Genin named Kankuro looked at both the blonde girl and the one that threatened him wearing a gray overcoat with the dog on his head.

"So you're all Konoha Genin…huh…I guess I'll just play with you two while we wait."

"Hey jackass, let him go this instant…let's go Akamaru!" The dog barked in acknowledgement just as Kankurou smiled and threw Konohamaru towards the running Kiba. The Inuzuka, though, managed to grab Konohamaru airborne and gently placed him on the ground, before ushering the kids to run along.

"You'll pay for that now." Kankurou merely tsked at the empty threat while the blonde girl from Suna merely sighed in exasperation. She shrugged though as Kankurou did cause this situation. Sakura did try to stop Kiba from attacking a foreign shinobi while it was clear that they were here for the Chunin Exams, but she was already too late to do that. Kankurou, though, merely smirked as he swiftly used chakra strings that he used to control puppets to make Kiba slip and fall on the ground. Akamaru stopped his advance as he checked on his owner to see if Kiba was alright. Sakura, for her part, released a sigh at the scene, ignoring the Suna Genin's taunt against Kiba.

"So, it's this what Konoha has to offer, then this Chunin Exams will be easy. Allow me to finish you off right here and remove you from the competition."

The threat was quite clear as Kankurou unleashed what was strapped on his back. The woman next to him became worried about the situation escalating and urged him to stop, but Kankurou paid her no mind.

Before Kankuro managed to release whatever technique he was about to perform, a small pebble of rock travelled fast straight towards his stretched hand, forcing him to abort. When everyone turned to see the direction it came from, Uchiha Sasuke was sitting on top of a tree, dangling another small rock on his hand. Immediately, Sakura relaxed somewhat, knowing that at least they had the superior numbers if something were to happen here. Still, she couldn't help but berate the Uchiha.

"Sasuke-kun, what took you so long to get here, you're late." The Uchiha only grunted, not bothering to acknowledge Sakura's complaint. It was already a huge boon in his life that Sakura had stopped following him around like Akamaru did to Kiba. While it couldn't be said that her teenage infatuation with the Uchiha was no more, it was now more subdued. After all, Sasuke could attest that Sakura became more motivated after the Wave mission in her demanding Naruto to help train her from time to time.

"How about you get down from there, so that I can teach you a lesson in manners, punk?" Sasuke looked at Kankuro and sneered at the empty threat.

"You should think better before trying to cause trouble in here." Sasuke got up from his sitting position and was about to jump down, when a smooth voice jolted Sasuke by surprise.

"Kankuro, stop this at once, you're an embarrassment to the village." Sasuke was so caught by surprise that he had even activated the Sharingan in reflex, before looking back to the other side of the tree he was sitting on. There, hanging upside down, was a redhead Genin with a giant gourd strapped on his back. Sasuke was completely caught off guard since he didn't even hear the intruder's footsteps. This level of stealth was close to Kakashi in his mind. Sakura and Kiba even looked surprised at the sudden appearance, though Sakura was surprised at the frightened look displayed by the two genins from Suna at this new guy's presence. Then, both the newcomer and Sasuke used shunshin to drop to the ground at the same time, before facing each other.

A complete silence ensued as Sasuke eyed this interesting foe before him, while the opponent did the same to Sasuke.

Sasuke could tell that this guy was the real deal and he couldn't help but compare him to Naruto…it was certainly the same feeling he had when Sasuke sparred with Naruto when they had the chance.

"Tell me, what's your name?" The redhead had simply stared at Sasuke for a long time, and this only served to escalate the tension further. Certainly, Kankuro and the blond lady next to him were already feeling it.

"Sabaku no Gaara…you are very interesting as well, what's your name?" The Uchiha smirked at the acknowledgement from a worthy opponent.

"Uchiha Sasuke…I look forward to facing you in the Chunin Exams." Gaara just hummed in recognition, before he turned and jumped away followed by his teammates.

The two ended up causing quite a spectacle for many foreign shinobi, who were perfectly hidden on top of other trees a couple meters behind them. Shinobi and Kunoichi from Iwa, Kumo, Kiri and even three shinobi wearing a headband with a musical note as a symbol. They all focused on the black haired Genin from Konoha and the one with the gourd from Sunagakure. And they were all gunning against the Genins from Konoha in particular. If there is one village that every other village hates with a passion and for different but similar reasons was the Hidden Village in the Leaves.

This was the scene where one particular blond shinobi wearing navy blue clothes observed from a very good vantage point on top of a building nearby.

Naruto's focus lay entirely on the redhead Genin from Sunagakure as he could feel a powerful chakra inside of him, the likes of which it was uncomfortably familiar.

===Academy Building===

After leaving the building, Naruto went straight towards the Academy building where he would join the Chunin Exams. As soon as he got in front of the building, Naruto was surprised to see Shikamaru and Hinata there waiting for him. The three genin exchanged pleasantries along the way, with Naruto praising Hinata for her decision to come and laughing at Shikamaru from probably being too scared to risk telling his mother that he didn't want to attend. After that, the team went inside the building and climbed two sets of stairs, before stopping when they saw a commotion of sorts. They were supposed to head to room 301 and Shikamaru had simply sighed, wondering why these people even bothered.

Naruto and Hinata chose to simply follow the genius as they had avoided the group of Genin on the second floor and went straight to the third where they would find the designated room.

Of course, had they opted to stay on the second floor, they would have witnessed a stand-off between Sasuke and two Konoha Genins that graduated last year, one of them being Hinata's cousin Hyuuga Neji.

As soon as Team 10 appeared in front of the room 301, they saw Asuma casually leaning on the wall, with his arms crossed, eyes closed and smoking.

"Well, it appears that Hinata is here, huh…good. Now, you can formally attend the Chunin Exams." The girl in question looked at their sensei with a silent question, as Asuma chuckled. "Actually, from the start, only three-man squads could apply and take the exams."

"So you lied…" Asuma smiled at Shikamaru's accusation and…well, it wasn't much of an accusation, but an assertion.

"Indeed, had I said it differently, either one of you could be pressured by the others to apply. This way, at least, by you three showing up individually, shows that you're at least in this whole-heartedly." It took Shikamaru's throat clearing to make Asuma correct himself. "…well, at least Hinata and Naruto is." Naruto couldn't help but grunt at his teammate's laziness. Naruto had already shown that he could use suiton manipulation, so it would be perfectly fine for him to use the Nidaime's water whip on the lazy Nara.

Then, he counted one to ten backwards and it passed. Still, it would be highly satisfying to do so…soon, he will, though…only once just to feel vindicated.

"Well, I guess it's due time you three step in there and begin…I just like to say how proud of you three I am, even you Shikamaru."

Asuma saw the three smile back and then step aside as his team took their first steps towards becoming a Chunin.

===Room 301===

Once inside, Team 10 had met probably close to two hundred pairs of eyes staring at them. Quickly so, the team went to the far corner of the room where they saw Team 8 standing there waiting as well.

"Oh Shikamaru, Naruto, you came." Chouji greeted them as he was busy eating a bag of chips. The other two boys greeted the robust genin while Ino greeted Hinata. Shino just stood in the back, observing the group's interaction.

"It's great to see you Chouji, how's your family doing?" Chouji responded to Naruto's question by offering him a bag of chips.

"They are great, Naruto." Naruto had been there together with Shikamaru once or twice. The Akimichi Clan were food lovers and Naruto had quite the stomach to match the clan. Akimichi Chouza, Chouji's father, saw Naruto's 'performance' at the food table and he bonded with the blond Genin immediately, saying that Chouji should invite Naruto more often to the clan's food gatherings. While Naruto preferred ramen and even Kosuke's magnificent cooking, the Akimichi Clan's barbecue was excellent as well. "So, I guess that even you came Shikamaru."

"Yeah, though is quite troublesome…it would be even more to try and back out of this and explain to my mother." Chouji showed a full out smile at that, knowing all about it.

The chatting then stopped once Sasuke's team opened the door as well and once again, everyone turned to see the new opposition.

Ino stopped chatting with Hinata and hugged Sasuke from behind, earning Sakura's ire at the Yamanaka's forwardness, while Kiba ignored them and greeted the other genin, namely Naruto, Shikamaru and Chouji. It's been a long time ago, but these four would get together in this very academy and skip school together. While it's been a long time, Naruto found himself reminiscing on those days while the four chatted amicably. While they chatted, a gray-haired man with a short ponytail, a Konoha Genin, approached the nine rookie Genin. He wore long blue pants, a gray shirt beneath a dark blue jean vest and glasses. This stranger fell into Naruto's senses immediately, though the blond couldn't feel a strong chakra capacity, meaning that either he was truly a low-level Genin or he was controlling his chakra to a point that he was able to trick a sensor shinobi.

"Hey there, you should be a little quieter and learn to read the atmosphere. You all are rookie Genin, aren't you…good grief." Ino was the one who took offense to the man's talking.

"Well and who are you, talking like you know us?" The grownup Genin adjusted his glasses and opened a haughty smile at them.

"I'm Yakushi Kabuto and please take a good look around you." As an answer to his cue, the rookie Genin looked around and once more caught the eyes and stares of everyone in the room focused solely on them. "Everyone around here is quite tense because of the Exams, so I wouldn't push it if I were you. Just a heads up from a fellow shinobi of the Leaf." Like Kabuto expected, the rookie genin at least stopped conversing as if this was a school field trip and stopped talking, though Naruto was still wary of this guy. "Now, I guess that with you being rookies and all, a few pointers would help you all."

"Ah Kabuto-san, so is this your second time in the Chunin Exams?" Sakura looked quite eager to know more about what was going on.

"Well, it's my seventh time overall." The rookies had different responses to that. Kiba mocked him for being a low-level Genin…Sasuke just dismissed this guy's info considering it all…Shikamaru considered the exam even more troublesome if it took someone seven tries and still failed. However, Naruto right there caught a miniscule shift in his man's chakra as soon as he said it. Something was not right here, though he couldn't tell what. "So, I guess that most of you already know a bit or two about these exams and the relations between villages, so I won't bother going into detail. But, I could provide help for you guys to know what you may be up against." Kabuto then reached inside his pocket and picked up a deck of cards. "Throughout my experience, I have gathered information about all of the genin here, including you nine."

"What are those?" Naruto asked as he could feel the intricacies of fuinjutsu on these cards, getting his interest.

"Oh these are ninja info cards…these cards react to my chakra, so only when I pass my chakra through it, the card reveals the shinobi, any shinobi here's stats." Kabuto then began to flip the cards one by one and pass chakra through, showing images of some of the shinobi in this room. "So, any of you wish to know about anyone here?" The rookie genin were all silent as none of them had any names they wished to pass on to Kabuto. Only Sasuke had a few names to check.

"What can you tell about Sabaku no Gaara from the Sand and Uzumaki Naruto from the Leaf?"

Sasuke's mention of Naruto was met with incredulity from the rest, though Naruto couldn't help but sigh at the rivalry that the Uchiha pursued with him. While Naruto enjoyed sparring with Sasuke's Sharingan every now and then, he wasn't too thrilled to deal with Sasuke's drive to defeat him every chance he got. Still, it would be at least revealing to Naruto just what sort of information this Kabuto had on him to confirm if this guy is legit or not. A side look at Shikamaru made Naruto aware that his teammate was also suspicious of this guy.

"Wow, interested in knowing one of your own, well, in here we're all enemies, so I can't fault you for that…let's see…first Sabaku no Gaara." Kabuto then placed the card on the ground and passed chakra through it, revealing a very intricate chart with mission records, teammates, jounin-sensei and even a chart with the shinobi's main abilities. "Well, he is a foreign shinobi, so records about him are quite scarce, mainly about his abilities. Teammates are Sabaku no Kankuro and Sabaku no Temari, well, so they are siblings. Mission record is 1 C-ranked and wow 8 B-ranked and he came by unscathed in all of them. A tough opponent indeed. Though, only the Genin elite from each village comes here, after all."

The news was registered by Sasuke and even Naruto who remembered the feeling he had when he looked at the Suna genin from this morning.

"Well, now, Uzumaki Naruto…"

When Kabuto was about to review Naruto's stats, a kunai drenched with wind chakra charged and stuck the card on the ground, slicing it cleanly in half before Kabuto could even read it. Naruto's rapid action surprised the rookie genin and even the rest who were busy observing the scene. This very moment, the team from Suna all looked at the blond in attention, as all three noticed the usage of wind chakra and pin-point accuracy. Hyuuga Neji, Hinata's cousin, focused on Naruto and remembered him as his cousin's teammate. Neji remembered seeing Naruto on occasion inside their compound, but he hardly ever interacted with the rookie genin. Though, now, he found himself focusing on him more now.

"Sorry there, Kabuto-san, but I don't feel comfortable with you announcing to everyone here just what I can do. I hope you understand that and sorry for ruining your cards there."

It was bad enough that this guy had such an info that should have been safely stored inside the Hokage's Administration Building. Kabuto appeared surprised for a while, but then relented with a flat smile.

"I understand Naruto-san, my apologies and you're right…forgive me."

Naruto's actions alone brought about loud murmuring as each and every shinobi in this room looked at whom they considered an opposition. Many strong shinobi and kunoichi spiked their chakra as they stared at each other. Sasuke, Neji, Gaara, Naruto, Neji and many others did the same. The rest couldn't help but sweat profusely at the high tension that suddenly enveloped the entire classroom. Ino couldn't help but cower slightly at the feeling while she looked at Sakura and Hinata, wondering If they felt the same way. Though, she was surprised to see the two girls matching what the others were doing. Ino looked at both their focused visages and realized how further than her Sakura and Hinata were.

The tension stopped when a huge smoke enveloped the room from up front, before many Konoha chunin appeared with the same uniform and one man leading them, with a black trench coat and face full of deep scars.

"Quiet down, everyone this instant!" This was enough for everyone to stop flaring their chakra as the Jonin instructor named Morino Ibiki showed a full out deranged smile. "I deeply apologize for keeping you waiting, I'm Morino Ibiki and shall be the proctor of the first Exam. And before I begin with the rules, I will state right now…there will be battles or fights without the permission of the proctors." This time, Ibiki even flared his own chakra, increasing his killing intent as he intoned. "For those who believe they can try their luck right now, well, you shall deal with me personally." That alone managed to get everyone's attention, before Ibiki continued. "Now, hand in your applications and take a seat under the numbers I shall hand to each of you. After that, we shall begin the written test."

A few murmured about the absurdity of having a written exam, but did as demanded.

Naruto observed that the proctors gave random numbers to the same Genin team, which meant that he would be seated far from his teammates. It turned out that he was then seated next to Sasuke as the Uchiha kept glaring at him, probably because Naruto kept him from knowing more about his skills. So, Naruto sighed and turned to ignore the glare from his comrade in favor of paying attention to Ibiki while the other Chunin handed the tests to everyone. In no time, Ibiki stood alone in front of the classroom while the chunin took chairs close to the room walls.

"Now hear me out, because I will only say it once…there are several important rules to this first test." Ibiki started, still with his killing intent high, keeping up the tension in the air. "You all are given ten points right from the start. The written test has ten problems to solve, with one point each. And this test is a point deduction system. You are deducted one point for each problem you get wrong. If you get three wrong, you'll have seven points! Now, pass or failure will be determined by the total points of the three-person teams." At this point, everyone realized precisely why this exam needed to be taken in teams. If one failed, then the others would fail as well. "Now, shut up everyone because this is important. Those who are deemed by the sentinels as having committed an act of cheating or something similar to that will have two points deducted for each act."

It was at this point that these Genin began to know about the sadist known as Morino Ibiki.

"As some of you might have guessed, yes, there may be those who will be dismissed during the test without waiting for the test grading." Ibiki now smiled just like the chunin who were seated close to the genin. "If you all aspire to become a Chunin at all, then know that shinobi should act like exemplary shinobi. Oh and if one of the members of the team get zero points, then the entire team is disqualified." Like Ibiki expected and thrived off, the entire class shuddered at the rules. Well, Ibiki's chakra flaring didn't make things any easy.

"The last problem will be given forty five minutes after the start of the test. So this test is to be finished in one hour flat, no exceptions. BEGIN!"

The noise of pages turning and dead silence met the room as the Genin looked at the questions. Five minutes later after reading all of the questions, it became clear that this system was beyond sadistic. The questions were quite complex and not many in this room would manage to answer it correctly. Still, the rules were quite clear in Naruto's mind. He began with ten points and only needed to not score zero in this test. He knew Shikamaru would ace this thing without the need to work up a sweat and Hinata was quite smart as well. Naruto had more battle brains, but he figured that he could at least provide answers to three questions, maybe four. What intrigued him, however, was the notion that he would only get a two point deduction for being caught cheating. So that alone was surprising, considering that when he was caught by Iruka-sensei once, the Chunin kicked him out immediately afterward.

'So this exam encourages cheating and that's what that Ibiki guy said about acting as an exemplary shinobi…this is an information gathering mission, the likes of which Kurenai-sensei often talked about.'

Quickly going about writing the answers he knew, Naruto then placed the pencil down as he observed the classroom around him. He observed the Chunin around the classroom and even the Jonin Ibiki up front, looking around. Each of the Chunin had a pencil and paper as well probably to write down the Genin who were caught cheating. And if one gets caught five times, then they are out. True to his guess, the chunin next to him scribbled something on his paper.

'So the goal here may not be the questions itself, but cheating without getting caught'.

Like Naruto came to this conclusion, many of the others did so as well. Gaara commanded his sand to make an artificial chakra eye to check on who had the answers. Kiba's dog Akamaru barked the answers to Kiba. Shino's bugs did the same. Sakura and Shikamaru were perhaps the only two who didn't need to cheat as they answered all of the questions. Ino saw Shikamaru doing so and used her signature clan technique on the lazy Nara to take possession of him to check on Shikamaru's answers, before answering her own, before turning to Chouji and doing the same, taking control of his body to answer for him. They were even those who had to rely on creativity like Neji's teammate Tenten, a twin bun-haired girl wearing Chinese style clothing who did so using mirrors to see Shino's answers. She had even managed to help her teammate Rock Lee, a bowl-haired Genin with green leotard clothing.

Throughout the test, the Chunin sentinels announced the numbers of Genin who were caught cheating five times as these Genin along with their teams were getting kicked out.

Both Neji and Sasuke got the same idea with their respective dojutsu, with Neji looking past one who was answering all of the questions with his Byakugan. Sasuke with his sharingan copied the same man's movements.

Naruto noticed Sasuke doing so and turned to look at the Chunin next to him, fully focused on him. Going through the skills he had at this point, Naruto realized that he was rather limited right now. No ninjutsu would help him and fuinjutsu wouldn't help either. That only left genjutsu to use and a smirk soon appeared on his face, before Naruto focused on the ram signal straight towards the Chunin who was looking at him. The Chunin looked to see what the blond would do, but he just stood there looking at his test doing nothing. Little did he know that the Naruto he was observing was truly the false surroundings technique. The Naruto he was looking at was not the real one. The real one was peeking at Sasuke's test and following Sasuke's writing speed flawlessly. Being adept at fuinjutsu, Naruto needed to have a good enough calligraphy and fast enough to write the seals in the midst of battle.

As such, it came easy for him to follow Sasuke's answers, before both finished at the same time.

The Chunin in question widened his eyes as the real Naruto appeared in front of him, with his arms crossed instead of just focusing on his test holding the pencil. While he knew that this kid did something, he couldn't know what.

"Alright, I think we almost finished shaking off the losers." Ibiki's sudden voice made everyone focus on him and then looked around to see forty perhaps fifty seats from the proximately two hundred chunin candidates. "Now, it's time for the tenth question."

Everyone tensed as Ibiki once more flared his chakra for effect.

"Before I give the tenth question, however, you guys will have to choose whether or not you will take the tenth question. If you choose not to take the tenth question, then your score will be zero, thus you and your team will be eliminated." Of course, the natural course of action would be to take the question. But herein lies the genius of Ibiki's madness and precisely why the man was considered Anbu's lead of torture and interrogation in Konoha. "However, if you choose to take the tenth question and fail…" Ibiki had paused, keeping up the tension to everyone, including the most experienced. Such is the psychological power this guy possessed. "then you relinquish the right of taking the Chunin Exams forever!"

"Hey, what the hell! What kind of rule is that…there are tons of Genin here who have taken the Exams before." Ibiki couldn't help but chuckle at Kiba's tantrum.

He laughed and laughed hard, before spiking his killing intent making Kiba buckle under the pressure.

"I guess you're just unlucky then kid, it is I who make the rules this year. But I did give you all the options. If you decide not to risk your ninja career, then you can simply not take it and try again next time. Take the tenth question and fail, and you shall remain a Genin for life." Ibiki had even chuckled evilly once more as he basked at the feeling of the terrified looks in front of him. "Now, before I give the tenth question, I need you to raise your hands if you wish to forfeit. Those who stay put will then receive the question." Naruto observed as one by one, random genin left and right raised their hands choosing not to endanger their careers. If he was true to himself, he was in a perilous situation right now.

These questions were tough to answer and if the tenth question is too hard for him to take it, then he would be a genin for life. But if he decided to quit right now, then they would have to leave as well.

Well, it somewhat eased his mind at the thought that should he take it, he wouldn't be damaging their careers. Worst came to worst, only he would suffer the penalties, so he came with the resolve to stay and answer.

In the end, no matter his ranking, Naruto will always strive to become stronger as the Nidaime's Legacy. And he couldn't picture his role model taking a different decision. The rest of the rookie Genin knew about the odds and remained in their resolve to stay and answer it as well. Ibiki remained quiet as he could still see some raising his hands and quitting, until only fifty one Genin remained. Morino Ibiki smirked, knowing that his mission was accomplished. He received the acknowledgement of the chunin and then addressed the classroom, now quite empty.

"Well, then, I like your determination! Now, for those who stayed…you pass!" Five seconds passed and most Genin simply stopped breathing, their brains had simply stopped working for a while. Certainly, Shikamaru cursed this man even more than his own mother. Even if he was a genius, Shikamaru could very well get a question that he couldn't answer and he stays genin for life and doing the same chores over and over again was way too troublesome. Naruto for his part allowed himself time to breathe properly. He wouldn't want to meet this guy anytime soon after this.

"Hold on, what are you talking about, what's the tenth question?" This time, Ibiki had stopped flaring his chakra and transformed from the sadist interrogator to a completely different person, smiling broadly at the question.

"Well, you can look at the choice you had to make as the 10th question. This test's objective above all else started with your ability to gather information. It was never about the questions itself, so no one will be grading your answers here. As to the tenth question, well, it was indeed an unfair question. It was to test your resolve as future Chunin. There will be missions where you won't know what will happen to either you or your teammates. What do you do then…decide to flee to save your life or go through it knowing you could walk into a death trap." The lesson was then clear to everyone as Ibiki finished. "Showing your courage to your teammates in a tight spot and the ability to get through the hardships is the qualities of Chunin captain."

Naruto observed this man intently and he saw many of Tobirama's qualities in Ibiki. Despite Tobirama's methods to inspire fear were more physical, Ibiki's was by no means less effective, and his heart is on the right path.

Ibiki then turned to the window just as a black ball came barging inside. The man observed the window shards headed for the opposition, before his vision became impaired as the black ball turned to be a black flag the assailant opened with two kunai thrown upwards that stuck on the roof, before Mitarashi Anko emerged with such grace that baffled everyone. Naruto remembered the woman from the Dango place and couldn't help but smile at the theatrics.

"There is no time to celebrate yet maggots. I'm the proctor of the second exam, Mitarashi Anko! Follow me!" Ibiki then appeared behind the flag containing Anko's name written in white.

"You're late again, Anko." The woman in question deflated at her superior, before looking at the number of genin still present.

"Oh, only fifty one…you weren't kidding around huh Ibiki."

"You expected something different?"

"Huh, I guess not." Anko concluded, before turning to the class once more. "Well, then, alright, I'll drop more than half of these losers in the second exam!" Anko said was with a smirk that promised a great level of pain. "So, the details regarding location and time will be handed to your Jonin and we shall meet tomorrow. Everyone is dismissed!"

Author Note

Ok that's it for now.

I really wanted to finish the first phase of the exams in one chapter.

Next update: Avalon Bond