I do not own Naruto or any of the characters within the series.
Important Background Information below
Naruto Time line
14- Sasuke runs off to join Orochimaru
15- Akatsuki captures Gaara. His demon is removed but Naruto manages to save his life. Due to weird circumstances Gaara still has the one-tails power (i.e. control of sand, senses, etc.). Even without the one-tail, Gaara can't be discribed as just human. The former demon vessel is now Kazekage. Naruto and he are close friends.
16.5- Naruto and co. drag Sasuke back to Kohona. Orochimaru himself is still a major problem, but sound itself took quite a blow during the battle.
18- Naruto gets fed up with the council's prejudice and sneaks off to take the chuunin exam in Stone during his vacation. He was the last member of the rookie nine to achieve the rank of journeyman ninja. The village was not happy but he came back with all the correct paperwork and a vest. There was nothing they could do.
18.5- story begins
Other Important Information-
None of the rookie nine know about Kyuubi (officially)
-genius is so troublesome
All the members of the Akatsuki are alive
Itachi is not going blind
Now that I've rambled, on with the show