A somewhat dejected and tired Uzumaki Naruto walked with his head bent down, as he followed the winding, man-made paths that shinobi always made in this part of the forests of his ninja village. Doing his own version of 'the walk of shame' as he traveled the pathways that eventually lead to Konohagakure's residence and business section, as well as the city dwellings. He was smiling as he recalled the events that happened on Ninja training grounds nine. He had done the seemingly impossible task of bringing team nine together and making them agree to work as a cohesive genin cell. After that, the planning for Gai's 'downfall' was formulated.

Flashback no Jutsu!

Naruto was all ears as he listened to the brainstorming of his teammates. They had discussed Gai's strength, power, endurance, and speed in length. But in the last five minutes, they have not found a way to disable those advantages without having Lee, Neji, or Tenten in the line of danger. As the three entered an impasse in their discussion, Naruto decided to add his two cents to the conversation.

"Let's take this into simple perspective minna, what do we know about Gai sensei from our battles with him?" Lee fell into a thinking pose, followed by Neji and Tenten, with Neji heavily pondering his answer through meditation. Naruto then decided to make cup ramen for himself. He really doesn't function well without anything in his stomach.

After two minutes, Lee finally answered. "Well, Gai-sensei is fast, has an enormous amount of stamina, and has power and skill in his strikes, he also can use Genjutsu and Ninjutsu. The fires of youth burns brightly in him as well." Naruto nodded at Lee's input, and turned to Tenten, who started speaking right after Lee.

"Gai-sensei can dodge accordingly well, from my spar with him, he has the agility to dodge projectiles. Shrugging off an attack is like second-nature to him as well. Lee's kick grazed his arm, but he didn't even flinch." Lee nodded at her observations. That was the time Neji added his own input.

"I lead Gai-sensei to a place in the clearing where the trees were only twenty-five years old. He understood that he will have a hard time fighting me there, because his fighting style's major point relies on kicks and hard punches, which he has no legroom and elbow room for in the forest, so he used a shadow clone to trick me. He headed back to the open clearing after that though." Naruto contemplated Neji's answer, and nodded at the Hyuuga in appreciation for his input.

"So, Gai-sensei is fast, agile, has power behind his kicks and punches, he can dodge projectiles, he can out-maneuver the four of us using his speed, he can use Ninjutsu and Genjutsu, has great stamina, and can endure punishment…" The other three frowned at his thoughts.

"So if we remove his speed…" Naruto started, coaxing the plan out of their lips.

"…Restrict his movements…" Neji continued.

"…And restrain his limbs…" Tenten added.

"Then…we can take the circles that we need away from him! YOSH!" Lee finished for the three of them, Naruto nodded at his friend's deduction. Neji and Tenten were nodding their approval. But Lee was still having second thoughts as to what they were about to do.

"Demo…how can we take out his limbs if we can't even get near him?" Lee asked with a frown, Neji and Tenten seeming to agree with his question, Naruto huffed loudly, catching the attention of the other three genin-hopefuls and shaking their worries out of their brains.

"Don't worry, I have been in this situation before, and the person I pranked was somewhat like Gai-sensei, seemingly untouchable and un-prank-able, but I still got him in the end. Now, what I need for you three to do is…"

Time shift no jutsu!

Naruto landed at the spot in the forest that had thick tree trunks. He then brought out the combat knife, and concentrated his gaze on what he deemed as a moderately high; and moderately heavy tree. He then jumped on the tree to judge its height and thickness, leaving a kage bunshin on the top of the tree, which was holding a length of steel wire. Using the knife, he marked the places where he will cut the tree in sections by running downwards the three in high speed, without chakra of course. He then controlled his descent near the base of the tree by hanging onto the wire. Naruto then jumped the rest of the way downward. He then tugged on the wire once, and the shadow clone up the tree pulled him up.

Dismissing his shadow clone with a nod and rolling up his steel wire, the blonde then concentrated his chakra onto the knife's blade by using the ram seal, and with his newly acquired chakra focusing gloves. Deeming that he had enough chakra by feeling the temperature on the blade, he jumped using a back flip, holding the half-ram seal in his right hand and the knife with the blade surrounded by chakra, with the knife handle pressed to the palm of his right hand. Naruto then formed half-handed seals for a jutsu, ending with a two-handed tiger seal, igniting the chakra on the blade to form high-temperature flames. Naruto now recalled when Iruka taught him the jutsu, which he is now using in conjunction with the blade.

"Okay Naruto, I will now show you two jutsus that I made personally, which can be used in conjunction with any blade. We are just practicing it on knives as it has the shortest blade length. This is a chuunin-rank, bordering low to mid C-class level jutsu with a chuunin chakra control rank requirement, but as we are pressed in time, and you already have a chuunin-level chakra capacity, you're going to have to learn the control for it later, and that's an order. OK?

Well then, the first part is gathering chakra onto the blade with the ram seal. Ah, you're doing it already, that's good. Now, at this stage it can already be thrown by saying 'kai!' in your mind, this jutsu is called Chakra Bu-redo –Chakra Blade- I will now show you a fire jutsu that I made in conjunction with the chakra blade, do the seals, then shout out the technique in your mind, the jutsu is called…"

Naruto then opened his eyes, calling forth the technique in his mind as he was in freefall.

Houka wa Yaiba no Mai, Dageki Go! –Dance of the Fire Blade, 5 Strikes!-

Naruto then slashed the top most portion of the tree in a perfect horizontal motion, the super-heated chakra, which bordered onto a fire element Ninjutsu, cleanly cut the thick tree trunk and the topmost portion of the tree. He then proceeded to slash four times more, after the fifth slash he curled his body into a circle and descended down to the forest floor. Landing on his feet, he panted at the extreme amount of chakra that he released because of his poor chakra control. The blonde paused for a moment, decided to regain his breath, and think.

"I really have very bad chakra control, like Iruka-sensei said. The first thing I'm going to learn after I pass this exam is to fine-tune and control my chakra until it's on par with a Jounin's…or I'll at least fine-tune it until I achieve Mid-Sannin-level chakra control. That simple jutsu took a lot of chakra, but enough of my whining. The question right now is: where the hell am I going get the chakra to use for the rest of this exam? I'm screwed!"

"You don't have to look THAT far. That problem of yours can be remedied easily, you weakling…" The malevolent voice once again spoke inside his mind. Naruto then shook his surprise, and confronted the voice, which spoke inside his head for the second time today.

"Ok asshole, just who the hell are you? And what the hell are you doing speaking inside my mind?"

The malevolent voice adopted a mock-hurt tone of voice, but Naruto easily heard the tone of dismissal and indifference that underlie it.

"Who I am, or I am more inclined to say 'What I am', and what I am doing inside your mind, is of course important for both of us. But as I can see that you are, in my choice of words, 'Occupied' at the moment, we will continue this discussion on a more appropriate time and place, what matters is that you're in the middle of what you humans call, 'an Examination'. So I suggest that you get your 'ass in gear' and 'hop to it', you yellow-haired rat, for now however, I will give you a chakra boost, enjoy…"

As the voice left his mind, Naruto suddenly felt something spike up in his navel at the center of the seal of Kyuubi, he then opened up his vest, lifted up his shirt, and looked at the chakra, which was colored red. He then saw the chakra spiral out of the seal and engulf him. Naruto had never seen so much chakra before, and it was visible right in front of his eyes. As he was starting to get overwhelmed by the red chakra, the kanji for 'Sho' in his left arm twitched, and gave his mind a mental tug, catching the blonde's attention. Naruto then heard the voice of the Shodaime Hokage speaking inside his mind.

"Calm down Naruto, close your eyes, and use these seals that I will be showing you, then call out the technique in your mind. After that just hold the ram seal, until I tell you to release it." Naruto complied and slowly went through the hand seals with his eyes closed, he then called out the technique within his mind, which ended in the ram seal.

Shodaime Hokage's personal bijuu-chakra conversion and controlling technique: Release!

As he finished voicing out the technique in his mind, he found that the chakra did not overwhelm him as much as it did, and started to subside, Naruto then was awed as the red chakra transformed into multiple times the amount of blue chakra, which flowed back to his chakra coils. Shodaime then signaled the blonde to lower his arms. Naruto then gave the Shodaime a mental smile, and a bow.

"Arigatou Shodaime-sama! I almost thought that I would be lost amidst that red chakra. Can you please tell me where that chakra came from and why it is inside my body?" Naruto exclaimed as he waited for the Shodaime's answer. Naruto was dismayed however, as the first generation fire shadow gave him the mental equivalent of a headshake.

"As for now, I cannot tell you how and why that red chakra came out of your body. Just focus on the exam for the moment and the four of us will tell you what you want and need to know tonight, as we have many things to discuss. For now, what I advise is that you start moving the tree you have just cut, and to begin executing your 'prank'. We will be watching you from within your mindscape Naruto. Good luck and do your best.

Naruto nodded mentally and felt the Shodaime's presence leave his mind. Looking towards the tree that he cut, he took a minute to fully take in his handiwork, and examine the clean cuts that Iruka's personal technique did on the tree, he whistled in awe and appreciation to Iruka for teaching the technique to him. He then formed nine kage bunshins, and ordered them to surround the tree, forming hand seals in sync, Naruto and his clones all spoke out in unison.

Ninpou: Jishin wa Kyokuso no jutsu! –Ninja Arts: Localized Earthquake technique!

Lifting up their hands and gathering up a small amount of chakra, they opened up their palms and slammed it onto the ground, causing a small seismic quake. Which was localized at the base of the tree, and shook Naruto and the clones, causing the clones to disappear because of chakra depletion. The tree finally toppled at the points where it was cut, and fell like a house of cards. Naruto grinned as he shouted, while running away out of the tree's collapse radius.


While Naruto watched the progress of the toppling tree, he spied a medium-sized fox running away from one of the falling tree trunks. He suddenly found himself some distance away from the falling tree in shock, the fox held protectively in his arms. For some reason, the wild animal didn't seem to be frightened at Naruto, the blonde then kneeled on one knee, and released the fox, which hesitated to run away, Naruto then shooed it away. "Come on now, best be on your way, it's a little bit dangerous here at the moment." Naruto then chuckled at himself. Here he was, talking to a fox, which can't talk back.

Can't it?

Suddenly, a shimmering light engulfed the fox, and the tail that it was swishing back and forth turned into two tails, while the body transformed itself into a lightly-tanned, pre-teenage female form, that was equal to Naruto's age and height. Her body fur covered her sensitive areas in silver and gold hues, while pale blue eyes with cat-like slits looked at him in kindness, but Naruto could see a hint of playfulness and mischievousness in its depths, as she looked at him in fascination, and a hint of adoration.

The kitsune also sported whisker marks on her cheeks. Black fox-like ears with violet-tips adorned the top of her head, while dark-brown hair framed the heart-shaped, angelic face. The fangs on her mouth also accentuated her features, making her look more like a kitten than a fox. The somewhat transformed kitsune swished her tails and approached Naruto, who bowed at him, and spoke in a tiny, girl-like voice.

"Thank you for saving me from the falling tree, kind sir. May I know the name of my savior?" Naruto was opening and closing his mouth like a fish. For the first time in eleven years, he can't say anything to save his ass.

"Well, that is a first." The author chuckled as he continued to type.

"N-N-N-Naruto! U-Uzu-ma-maki, N-Naruto!" Naruto blurted out in a stutter as the kitsune bit her lip in awkwardness, making her cuteness more adorable, not to mention more seductive at the same time. A shimmering aura surrounded her as she stood there.

"Uzumaki Naruto…" The dark-haired kitsune repeated the name, as if she were testing the sound of her voice. Looking oddly at Naruto and his behavior, she then looked at herself, and immediately found the problem. The radiant glow that surrounded the kitsune was dispelled as she flicked her hand on her head.

"Ah, I see! Sorry for not turning my kitsune seduction off. The reason for that is because I have just turned a hundred years old, and had just gotten my second tail. I am Kanae by the way, and I belong to a tribe of Kitsune that patrol the borders of fire country. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu, Naruto-kun!" The female kitsune came closer to Naruto and shook his hand. Naruto nodded as he turned a shade of pink.

Apparently, the female kitsune still hadn't turned off her seduction factor completely.

"Mount her, you yellow-haired rat!"

Naruto was thankful for the voice that distracted him from the cutesy kitsune that was in front of him, before his mind strayed into unexplored and uncharted territory, but he was confused as to what the voice meant.

"What in the blazes of hell do you mean?"

Inside the seal of Yondaime, the Kyuubi no Kitsune banged his head at the bars of his cage. Grumbling about vessels that can create stupid perverted jutsus that targets the more perverted, older male species, but can still have a grasp of its innocence.

Wait…was Naruto really that innocent?


As those words left Kyuubi's…err, maw? Yeah, maw…Naruto visibly reddened, with matching blood rushing up at the blood vessels of his nose, threatening to spurt on his nostrils. The blonde kitsune then shouted at the voice, which wasn't in the mental sense.


The four Hokages and the Kyuubi winced at Naruto's loud volume, the Bijuu however wasn't going to take Naruto's insults, and retorted back.

"I dare, because I am the greatest demon lord of all on the makai realm! Kyuubi no Kitsune no Youkai! Source of the Akagan! Master of illusions! And founder of the Aka Tribe! Who do you think you are to shout at-?"

Before the Nine-tails could retort further, and before Naruto could get over the shock at the identity of his mental sparring partner, Kanae gasped, and spoke in a whisper…

Time shift no jutsu!

After a few minutes of clearly explaining things to Kanae, and after making a deal with said kitsune-no-onna, Naruto finally found the time to rig and setup the logs on the entire clearing. It was to be the scene of their first, and hopefully last attempt as a fully functional genin cell, to outwit their sensei-to-be and pass the exam 'as a whole'. Naruto then admired the handiwork that his clones did as he swung from his wire, which was still long inside his utility pouch. Iruka-sensei did give him several years' worth of the stuff, which was very handy in these kinds of situations.

Landing someplace near the center of the clearing, Naruto sensed Gai's chakra signature as the Jounin approached the clearing, which was exactly where Neji and Lee first predicted him to go. Using a shadow clone and turning it into a kunai, he shot the kage kunai at their 'staging point'. He then busied himself and made shadow clones appear near the four logs, which were rigged to fall once the steel wires binding them up the canopy of the forest were cut.

He then went down on the forest floor and made four clones, which he assigned to wires that were dangling below the rigged logs. The blonde then ordered the shadow clones to henge into squirrels, in the exact same color that matches Gai's legwarmers perfectly, and briefed them to wrap their assigned wires on the Jounin's legs. He then handed three wires each to the orange squirrels, which nodded at him and scurried off to await Naruto's signal.

Naruto then pulled on the other strings and dragged them to where the rest of team nine was standing by to take on Gai, giving two each to Lee, Tenten, and himself. Neji was there to iron out their plans and change the trajectories of the kunai that Tenten will throw, Tenten had good aim and she always hit her intended targets with a 100 percent accuracy mark, so there was no need for Neji to participate in restraining Gai.

After some hushed words of good luck, Lee, came out of the brush, followed by Neji and Tenten. Naruto then wrapped the remaining wires on his left gloved hand, making the wires stick to his glove by using his chakra. He then made another shadow clone, made it henge into a lark, and ordered it to 'raise the curtain'. The lark flew upwards to the forest canopy, and twitter Naruto's war cry.

The stage for 'Gai's downfall' had just been signaled to start.

As his three teammates started their 'table-tennis of barbs' skit, Naruto observed Gai's every move, and smiled wide. Noting that the special Jounin didn't have the slightest clue of the activity between his legs, Naruto had to stifle his laughter when he saw Gai 'roll his eyes'.

"It's funny that…if you would actually find the time to watch and observe the mannerisms of someone, you'd know more about them in those several minutes than if you would talk to them in person for an hour, day, weeks, months, or years." Naruto mused in his mind as he watched the ongoing 'scene'

And Maito Gai, whichever version you read -manga-, or watch -anime-, DOESN'T roll his eyes uncharacteristically.

Naruto then waited as his squirrels scampered out of the clearing, he then looked overhead and saw the twin copies of his combat knife pass by above his head. He then entered the clearing, and did his impression of Shikamaru, with a little bit of Sasuke-teme thrown in for good measure.

"Yare yare… you were all so loud I had to cut my naptime short because of your volume. I'm here to fetch my circles. Don't get in my way…"

That sentence started their 'attacks', as he went in first. He then swung his armed, left gloved hand, and let go of the strings that were temporarily bonded to the glove by deactivating his chakra control. The strings were a little melted at the tips, and the motion of the wires as it left Naruto's hand made it twirl around and wrap themselves around Gai's right arm, and the slightly melted tips of the metal wire bonded the wire to itself, but not loose enough that it will slip out of Gai's arm that easily. As his mission was accomplished, he gave Gai a very mischievous grin, and stepped back to let his other teammates do their part.

Naruto watched from the corner of his eyes, as Lee made his move and jump kicked Gai in the head, the Jounin dodged accordingly to his left, and as Lee entered the apex of his jump, he let go of the wires that he held in his arm, and slapped it on Gai's left arm without the Jounin feeling anything but a slight tap. Naruto was now at the edge of the thick bushes and other undergrowth beneath Konoha's towering forests, observing his teammates.

The blonde genin-to-be watched as Tenten calculated the trajectory of the kunai that she will throw; she then reared her arms and threw a kunai each, which whizzed past Gai's left shoulder blade, and right armpit. As the wired kunai passed Gai's body, Neji activated his Byakugan and threw kunai of his own, the kunai Neji threw then changed the trajectory of Tenten's kunai, making them spin around Gai's arms.

As the Jounin Taijutsu specialist took in the info of what the kunai were doing to his arms, Naruto used kage bunshin no jutsu again, and ordered four of the clones to grab all of Gai's limbs, while one clone was ordered to grab the Jounin's head and cover his eyes. Naruto then used another kage bunshin that he made to transform into a swallow, the transformed shadow clone signaling the clones up above the forest canopy to finally make the rigged logs fall down, effectively restraining Gai. Meanwhile, Naruto shouted the next signal behind the bushes.

"Now Guys!"

Naruto then used his ears, and listened to four simultaneous sounds of knives chopping down something, with the snap of metal and the sound of something metallic rubbing against wood, the very heavy logs Naruto rigged hoisted Gai upwards in the middle of the canopy in the speed that he had planned.

It was now time for payback.

Naruto then made six shadow clones, which acted as human catapults, and boosted his teammates upwards to their restrained, rising, and temporarily blind genin survival examiner. As he looked up at the progress of his teammates, he smiled a sad smile, and turned around for the direction of his apartment. Dismissing his clones with a nod of his head.

"It's now or never guys, I'm going to leave the rest up to you. I'm not needed in this equation anymore."

Using some of his left over chakra, Naruto created a single shadow clone, ordered it to backtrack and approach the clearing in another direction, and appear after a few minutes in the clearing where team nine will be, the clone's 'job' was to ask about the results of the exam from team nine and Gai-sensei, which the clone nodded in assent. The clone addressed his creator as 'Naruto-sama', nodded and began to traverse the thick bushes of the clearing, backtracking to the position of Naruto's teammates, and ask them the results of the exam.

Flashback no jutsu, kai!

Naruto looked back at the direction of training grounds nine, and smiled a sad smile. He was sure that Gai, Neji, Lee, and Tenten were celebrating right now amidst the success of their genin survival exam. Lee, Neji, and Tenten celebrating because they had passed the exam and proved that they could work together as a team, while Gai was celebrating because team nine would be the first genin team to pass his rigorous exam. He was proud of his teammates and what they have achieved together, if only he passed the exam as well…

"It was a do or die choice anyway, I'm proud of what I have achieved at that exam. I guess there's hope for me after all in becoming a competent ninja that can pull his weight on a team. If history were to repeat itself, I'd still make the same choice and sacrifice my chance to pass the exam so that my other teammates will pass."

I wonder what my survival exam would be like if I graduated next year, instead of this year. With my dumb luck, plus an abysmal record and ranking at the academy, I'll get teamed up with another angst-bastard worse than Neji…that would be Sasuke-teme, I guess. Worse than that is I'll also be teamed up with a Sasuke fan girl, and then it was Sakura of all the fan girls…AND my sensei will be someone with chronic tardiness, which he has turned to an art form, reads porn in front of us because of his perverseness, and then ignores MY training, and the female's training in favor of the bastards growth! I'd rather be in the genin reserve list than to have a team like that, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Well then, time shouldn't be wasted on moping around, thinking of the past and the future, and 'what should have been', or 'what could be'. You have to move forward, accept the good things and the bad things that happened to you as a part of your life, and charge it to experience. I do not let Fate and Destiny rule my life, they are just there to guide me to my ultimate goal, my life is mine, my body is mine, and my fate and destiny are what I make of it, like how the decisions I will make in my life now will have a significant effect on my future…"

As he was contemplating on what to do next for the rest of a day, he heard some people calling his name from afar. Naruto then turned around and saw a black and light-green blur; but the latter was coming towards him at a higher speed than the former. He recognized one of the blurs as his shadow clone. But he had no time to recognize the light green blur, as it literally 'glomped' him.

"Naruto-sama! Abunai!" Said the running shadow clone, which was left in the dust by Lee's speed.


"Naruto-kun! Daijoubu ka?" Said Lee as he got off from Naruto's prone position on the ground; the blonde's current predicament was very much like Neji's a few hours ago, swirly-eyed and dizzy. Tenten, Neji, and the Naruto clone eventually caught up with Lee, they then looked down at Naruto's unconscious state, and grinned. Neji's grin was more of a triumphant smirk, as he looked at the swirls on Naruto's eyes. Seeing the look on Neji's face and the current state of Naruto, Tenten berated her now official teammates.

"Don't look so smug, you were in the same position a while ago when we 'rescued' you. And Lee, why did you tackle him so hard? Now we're going to have a hard time carrying him back to Gai-sensei." Tenten asked in an exasperated tone, Neji's smug smirk turned into an inquisitive frown, while Lee bowed his head in remorse.

"Gomenasai, I was just so happy to have located him! I wanted to thank him for what he has done for us. He decided at once that he was going to be the one to fail. But I'm so happy because-"


The trio of genins looked down, and saw Naruto getting up from his 'nap' on the ground, the shadow clone then helped him dust off, the blonde giving the clone a silent nod of thanks, which the clone returned with a salute. The shadow clone disappeared in a poof of smoke after saying goodbye to his master, which Naruto didn't expect.

"Oi! Chotto-matte!" After this exclamation, Naruto sighed in exasperation.

"Oh well, I guess he left because you're all here to tell me the results of the exam. So, did Gai-sensei pass all of you?" He asked his 'ex-team mates', who nodded in unison.

"Gai-sensei said I had the most potential in Taijutsu out of the four of us! His encouragement really had me smiling when he said that." Lee exclaimed with tears in his eyes, as he recalled Gai's praise.

"He said that I had the finesse and the accuracy of a weapons master." Tenten explained as she grinned in remembrance, she was actually feeling giddy inside because of Gai's appraisal at her skills.

"He then said that I was a prodigy in the Hyuuga Jyuuken Ryu, and that I was the most proficient in the style at my age and skill level, but I knew that already. What?" Neji asked as Lee, Tenten, and Naruto didn't say anything. Saying nothing at all, but just rolled their eyes in synch. Naruto decided to pick up the conversation where it left off.

"I guess it's a rather nice assessment of your skills, but what did he say about mine?" The blonde kitsune inquired at his teammates. Lee decided to answer his friend.

"Naruto-kun, Gai-sensei declared that you had the knack for devious planning! He then said that your stamina is of insane proportions, and that we would all have trouble to keep up with your exuberant energy!" Naruto grinned at the fair assessment of his abilities. He then realized that Gai wasn't with them. Naruto then proceeded to ask his teammates of Gai's current location.

"I see…but, where is Gai-sensei at the moment?" The blonde asked the trio.

There was a pregnant pause and the chirping of crickets, as three fourths of team nine pondered their answers.

Naruto had a sweat-drop on his head as he figured out the answer.

"He's still strung up in mid-air, waiting for us to return so that we can free him from the trap that we set, right?" Tenten and Lee nodded at him with hints of pink on their faces, while Neji just "Hn"-ed with his nod. Naruto chuckled and beckoned Team Nine with his hand.

"Let's hop to it then, so that after we are done, I can relax with a nice bowl of ramen." Naruto smirked at Tenten and Lee's sheepish grins, while Neji had that arrogant smirk on his face. Naruto then sighed and headed for the direction of training grounds nine, the trio of genins wordlessly following behind him. As Lee, Tenten, and Neji followed Naruto back to Gai's location, Tenten then asked the two boys whether or not to tell Naruto that he passed. Neji replied logically.

"I think it is better for Gai-sensei to pass him officially in person, than for us to tell him that he passed the exam ourselves. That way we can gauge his reaction, when we caught up to him, I noticed that he seemed depressed and defeated. So he wouldn't believe us outright unless we repeatedly told him that he passed, which I think would be a waste of time, breath, and energy." Tenten and Lee nodded at their teammate's wise recommendation, and proceeded to follow Naruto in silence.

Meanwhile, Sarutobi Asuma was observing the progress of the academy graduates that were given to him. His test was simple, but tricky. His exam forced the graduates to work together, but in a subtle way, so that the graduates won't figure it out until after the exam. The current team was handling it in a so-so way. (READ: They were failing.) But as they were about to reach their goal, the timer rang, signaling their failure. The prize the genin were reaching for puffed out in ninja smoke. Their surprise and shock resulted in their fall from the pole they were climbing. The genins' bodies were intertwined in a tangle of limbs and torso. Asuma sighed and got up from where he was watching their progress on the mid-chuunin level obstacle course. (1)

"Sorry team 4, but you fail the genin test." Asuma held up his hand at the starting round of protests and shouting from the group. "I'm really sorry you three, but you're not ready to be genin yet."

"Why did we fail, Asuma-sensei?" Asked the calmest of the three genin, Asuma looked long and hard at Hikaru Meiji, before reaching for a stick of cigarette, putting it in his mouth and holding it with his lips.

"Before I answer your question, let's see what you learned during the test. Kuroda, what is the purpose of this exercise?" the Jounin nodded his head to the team's self-appointed leader. Kuroda Masato, according to his test scores in the academy, had difficulties in analyzing unfamiliar situations and forming a solution to the info he had. The graduate had average scores in taijutsu, slightly above average ninjutsu, and low in genjutsu.

"Umm…to see how fast we get to the prize at the end of the maze?" Asuma shook his head, turning to the third member, Aoyama Misao, the female of the group. Her test scores show much potential in genjutsu and medic jutsu, average taijutsu, but below average ninjutsu

"Etou…you planned to test our endurance during the exercise?" Once again, the Jounin shook his head and sighed, taking a long draw from his stick that promised complications when he reached old age, he nodded his head back to Meiji, who had begun to think when Asuma posed the question to his two comrades. Meiji was the most intelligent of the three, but his test scores showed that he was slightly below-average in nin, gen, and taijutsu, The only strong point going for him was his ability to think through stressful scenarios with low info, and plan accordingly. A budding strategist, given the right time and resources and the right Jounin sensei, he would be a big asset to Konohagakure's tactics department.

Unfortunately, he'll have to wait next year to hone his skills.

"Well, we were put together on the obstacle course in separate locations, forced to find each other, navigate the center pole and reach the top of the pole where the prize was, and make it out before the timer signaled the end of the test." The academy graduate continued to ponder the scenario, until his face brightened. "The separation on the maze, the obstacle course, the pole, and the prize at the top of the pole…it was all a clever ploy to make us work together, right sensei?" Asuma nodded at Meiji, who smiled and secretly congratulated himself. Masato narrowed his eyes at the latter, as if challenging the other boy to a fight.

"But what's so important about team work? We've been working our butts off for six years in the academy. Why teach us now how to work together?" Asuma was about to answer himself when Meiji cut him off.

"The six years of academy training was crucial, as it gave us time to train our individual skills. Remember when we did those spars and exercises together in pairs, or in groups of three or more?" The other two nodded at his question. "That was to prepare us to work together after six years of training. When the exit exams are over, our chuunin-sensei takes our individual scores and judges our strengths and weaknesses. They then sort us out into teams of three according to the score in our exams, after they find a balance in our skills and attributes. They do this so that no team will have an unfair advantage on other teams." Masato and Misao nodded in understanding, and Meiji continued his analysis of the exam at the urging of the two.

"Question: in terms of our individual skills, can you defeat a Jounin level ninja, like Asuma-sensei, on your own?" The others pondered about it for two minutes or so, and then shook their heads in the negative. Asuma smiled as Meiji continued. "That's an honest answer, guys. Technically, you can't defeat a ninja that's higher than your own level. But in theory, three genin-level ninja can over-power a Jounin-level ninja, as long as they're working together. That's why we're put into teams of three. I hope that's a good enough explanation guys. Do you have anything else to add to what I said, Asuma-sensei?" Meiji asked Asuma as he got up from where he was sitting in the grass. Asuma took another long draw from his cig.

"I guess you've said most of it already, Meiji. But I've got something more to add before we call it a day." Asuma motioned for team 4 to follow him. They walked single file behind the Jounin, each lost to his or her own thoughts. At the cenotaph, they saw another genin team walking away from a man similarly dressed like Asuma. The Jounin introduced team 4 to the copy ninja. "This is the legendary Hatake Kakashi, also known as the copy ninja, Sharingan no Kakashi. Kakashi, meet team 4, they failed the test this afternoon." Kakashi and team 4 acknowledged each other by nodding once. Kakashi then turned to his colleague as his lone exposed eye upturned in a smile.

"Well, team 7 failed again this year. This year's batch hasn't got an ounce of teamwork in them. I take it you're here to show them the memorial stone?" Asuma nodded as Kakashi absently felt for familiar names engraved in the large stone. "I'll see you at the lounge then. Later!" Kakashi then disappeared in a puff of smoke. Asuma smiled wistfully as he beckoned the team to where Kakashi was standing moments earlier.

"Ok then, walk over here next to me and feel some of the names engraved on this stone." Masato was the first to touch the hard and cold stone, the barely legible letters engraved on the memorial, which wore on with the passing of time and the power of the elements.

"Kuroda Mizuho, my great-aunt." Masato gazed at the stone memorial in awe and surprise. The legend of his great aunt had been told from generation to generation. Spearheading the hunter-nins, she brought back more missing nin than any other hunter-nin before or after her death. Her record of capturing and disposing of missing nins hasn't been challenged for 6 years running. Meiji was the next one to touch the stone, settling on a newer name.

"Hikaru Genji, my aniki" Meiji bit back tears as he remembered the funeral for his older brother. Almost all of his family were ninja, and were either sent to the scouting division, or the strategies and tactics division on the Hokage tower. He died protecting the last of their team, desperate to bring back critical information from the battlefield to the Hokage.

"Aoyama Misora, okaa-sama…" Misao touched the name of her mother with much love and respect. Misora had been one of the successful kunoichi of her graduating class, joining ANBU and becoming the captain of her own squad after only a year of service. She died defending her team from a group of A-Class missing nin, gravely injuring 3 to death, and making sure the rest were crippled beyond healing. All of her team survived, except for her. Asuma smiled a sad smile as his touch drifted to a familiar name: Sarutobi Hanako. A wisp of prayer left his lips, then turned around as he let go of the stone memorial, which acted like a massive headstone for the ninja who had been freed from the mortality of their world.

"This stone memorial; and the cenotaph near it symbolize our ideals as a ninja village. The familiar names you have touched, and the not so familiar names that were engraved in this stone block, are the names of the shinobi who died for our cause. This was done so that we would never forget the sacrifice they have given, so that we could go on and live in their place, and fulfill their dreams and wishes that they will never realize." The Jounin took a breath on his newly lit cig, and then put his hand on top of the stone.

"In the world of shinobi, those who don't follow the rules are called trash. But, those who abandon their comrades…are worse than trash. Always remember that, just some food for thought when you take your next genin exam from a Jounin." Dusting off his ninja outfit, he extended a hand to Meiji. "Better luck next year team four. You really had it near the end, you just ran out of time." Meiji grasped Asuma's hand and shook it a few times, before disengaging and bowing before the Jounin.

"Arigatou gozaimasu, Asuma-sensei In behalf of our team, we thank you for taking the time to test our skills. We may have failed your exam, but what we have learned today will prove invaluable to our careers as ninja. We'll try our hardest to pass next year. Won't we guys?" Masato and Misora nodded together, and approached Asuma to shake his hand. As one, team 4 bowed one last time, before taking off for their individual homes. Asuma lingered for a while as he listened to their voices, fading as they walked further away from the cenotaph.

"After I pass next year, my next goal is going to be the ANBU corps!"

"Why not medic nin or genjutsu specialist?"

"I'm going to be the next Hunter-nin to break my aunt's record."

"Is that so? Well I'm going to be the next department head for tactics and strategies division!"

"You wish, Hikaru!"

Asuma took a slight draw from his cig, looking up at the afternoon sky. A smile playing on his lips as it held his cancer stick. After putting the stub out, he vanished in a poof of smoke.


(1.) In the fanfiction 'For the love of my friends' by foxie-sama, Asuma's genin test was to put his assigned genin through an obstacle course, I modified it a little by having a prize they were supposed to get as a team in the end.

A/N: Not my best chapter, still not finished as well.


Abunai – means "Watch out!" or "It's dangerous!"

-sama – Honorific, used to address people with high authority, or someone you respect with high regard.

Aniki – Honorific, used to address your older brother.

Okaa-sama –Honorific, used to address your mother (Okaa-san)

Daijoubu ka? – "Are you ok/alright?"

Sensei – Used to address someone who is teaching you. It's primarily used by apprentices to address their masters.

Chotto-matte – "Wait a minute/moment"

Tsuzuku… - To be continued…