Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto. I will GIVE you high school. You can HAVE it. No take-backs.

A/N: First Naruto AU, and at the time of its writing first Naruto fic ever. If my writing style AMAZES you and you are blown away by my eloquent use of LANGUAGE and you happen to like INUYASHA or LORD OF THE RINGS, READ MY OTHER FICS of YOUTH and ENTHUSIASM and POWER because I am doing my nice-girl pose for you. Then REVIEW them. And this. –sparklies-

Sooyeah. Now that the shameless self-promotion is over and done with, I'd like to say a few words about this fic. (hear, hear) The characterization is way crazy right now, because you're just meeting the characters, and it should mellow out as the story goes on. I hope. Keep that in mind when you are leaving your REVIEWS OF YOUTH, which you shall do abundantly, of course. I love constructive criticism especially, as it's definitely better than blind praise and infinitely better than flames. Just keep it in mind…

Gifted and Talented

Chapter 1: Questionably Gifted

Naruto Uzumaki was definitely, certainly, most assuredly not sleeping in science class when he heard his name on the loudspeaker. He was resting his eyes. But he had heard his name, so he lifted his head off his desk and wiped the drool from his mouth and asked Sakura Haruno, who was walking by him, what he was wanted for.

"I don't know, but we're supposed to go down to the auditorium," she said, rolling her absolutely stunning green eyes.

"Yeah! I get out of science!" Naruto yelled, causing his teacher Ms. Godaime and several of the students to turn to look at him as he sprinted out of the room. Sakura rolled her eyes again.

Even though he'd been (definitely not) sleeping a few minutes ago, Naruto was full of energy and reached the auditorium first. There were several teachers and a few upperclassmen standing by the podium and talking. One or two of them looked up as Naruto entered, running straight into a seat with a loud crash and then sitting down in it.

Second in was Kiba Inuzuka, followed closely by Sasuke Uchiha and then Sakura. "Sakura! Sit here!" Naruto yelled, waving his hand in the air, but she gave him a weird look and followed Sasuke, who didn't look too happy to have her. Kiba took a seat up front as the door opened again and more people walked in. The group was all freshmen, most of whom Naruto didn't know. This wasn't exactly surprising, since Naruto had only been in high school for a week.

Naruto's Japanese teacher Ms. Yuuhi did a quick head-count and then announced, "If we're all here, then let's begin. Lee?" A boy stepped up to the microphone. He had a bowl-cut, a green turtleneck, and some of the largest eyebrows Naruto had ever seen.

"Yes, Ms. Yuuhi!" The boy, apparently named Lee, saluted, and then began, so loudly that Shikamaru Nara, who was sleeping in the back, jumped visbly. "WELCOME, YOUTHFUL FRESHMEN, TO KONOHA HIGH'S AMAZING ACADEMIC COMPETITION TEAM! ARE YOU BURNING WITH ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS ENDEAVOR?" He raised a fist and assumed some sort of odd posture that Naruto assumed was meant to be heroic. Or something.

Glancing around the auditorium, Naruto saw that most of the freshmen looked both totally weirded out by Lee's performance and totally confused as to what this 'academic competition team' was. Lee, apparently, also saw this.

"Mr. Maito! May I explain to these youthful freshmen the purpose of our great team?"

"LEE! YOU HAVE MADE YOUR TEACHER PROUD OF YOUR YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM FOR OUR TEAM!" A teacher, who looked uncannily like Lee, posed in the same odd manner.





Okay, maybe being bored in science was better than this. At least Ms. Godaime didn't stand around yelling students' names unless she was really angry. And she wasn't anywhere near this weird.


"Gai, you're scaring the students," said Mr. Hatake, one of the English teachers. Mr. Maito looked at Mr. Hatake, his…whatever interrupted.


"UOOOOOOOOO! MR. MAITO!" Lee added helpfully.

"We don't want to keep the students too long," said Mr. Hatake, and began to read a book.

"THAT REACTION WAS EXTREMELY—" began Mr. Maito, but he was cut off by Ms. Yuuhi, to the disappointment of Lee and the relief of everyone else in the room.

"The Academic Competition is a sort of tradition in this city," she said. "Students from all our high schools, of all grades and from any educational background, meet twice a year to compete in what Mr. Maito likes to call 'a proud battle of youthful wit.' The winners bring glory to their schools and to themselves, and our college counselor tells us a win looks impressive on applications. There is also a small cash reward, and several local restaurants offer free meal coupons to competitors." Naruto wondered if Ichiraku Ramen, the best restaurant in the world, gave out free food coupons. This could be an exciting opportunity!

Pausing for a moment, Ms. Yuuhi let Asuma, Naruto's English teacher (who went by his first name), take over. "So, it's a pretty nice package, and the teachers, at least, have fun preparing Konoha High for the event. You nine have been selected to compete in the first year team event, which means, basically, that your middle school teachers and your high school teachers have recommended you as having potential to win."

Potential to win? Sasuke? thought Naruto. Who would recommend him?

"You've been divided into teams based on your talents," said Mr. Hatake, looking up from his book. "Each team will be assigned to a teacher who you can work out individual practice schedules with. I'm afraid I've lost the sheet with the team assignments." He smiled, the corners of his one visible eye crinkling up. Asuma grinned and passed Mr. Hatake a sheet of paper.

"Thank you," said Mr. Hatake politely, looking down. "My team will consit of Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno," Naruto could see the disappointed expression on her face from across the auditorium, "and Sasuke Uchiha." He could also see her unmistakable glee when Sasuke's name was called, but he was too busy being shocked that he was on a team with both his crush and his worst enemy to worry about said crush's feelings for said enemy.

"Shino Aburame, Kiba Inuzuka, and Hinata Hyuuga will be on a team led by Ms. Yuuhi. And Chouji Akimichi, Shikamaru Nara, and Ino Yamanaka will practice with Asuma. You can meet with your teachers now to schedule your first practice."

Mr. Hatake strolled over to where Sasuke and Sakura were sitting, reading his orange book as he walked. Naruto got that he was supposed to be joining them, so he scrambled out of his seat and jumped into the one next to Sakura.

"Hey," said Mr. Hatake. "So, apparently you are the idiots I'm supposed to prepare for victory." Sakura turned her eyes from Sasuke to the still-reading teacher at that, obviously suppressing rage. Sasuke grunted.

"What?" yelled Naruto, his voice loud enough that the other teams turned to look at him. "Maybe Sasuke here is an idiot, but I'm sure not!"

Sakura rolled those perfect jade orbs again, her action mirrored by Mr. Hatake's one visible eye. "Not idiots? I'll believe it when I see it." He took three papers from between the pages of his book and gave one to each student. "There's a math problem on each of these," he said. "Solve yours, and you're worthy of this team. Don't, and I can kick you off. Don't even think about asking your teammates for help. I'll know if you do, and you'll still be kicked off. I'm afraid even teachers need to eat, so I'm leaving you three for the teachers' lounge. When I'm done with my lunch, I expect all three of you to be finished."

Mr. Hatake walked out of the auditorium, leaving Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura sitting in the wooden seats of the auditorium and staring at math problems. Naruto hated math.

His sheet read: "Three ninjas, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, are on an assignment to steal two bells from their teacher, Hatake Kakashi. Unfortunately, only a ninja holding a bell will be able to eat lunch. In other words, only two of the three will be allowed to eat. If, on a scale of 1 to 10, Naruto's intelligence is 3, his stamina 10, his control 4, his determination 9, and his ability to surprise 9, which two ninjas will get the bells?"

What the hell?

There was a long silence, in which all three team members stared blankly at their problems. Then:

"Hey, idiot." Sasuke poked Naruto in the shoulder with his pencil. "What's your problem say?"

"Mr. Hatake said we're not supposed to help each other!" Naruto protested. "I don't wanna be an idiot!"

"Newsflash: you are," said Sakura, flipping her pretty peach hair. "But Sasuke, he'll find out, won't he? If we have our problems done, he'll know we've cheated."

"They're impossible to do without looking at all three, so we'll fail if we don't look," said Sasuke coldly, as if he was explaining something to a very small and dim child. "There's the chance that he won't know if we do, in which case we get them right and pass. And if he does know, we fail anyway."

"Maybe it's a trick," said Naruto, his blue eyes lighting up. "That dirty…"

Wordlessly, Sasuke handed his paper to Naruto. It was the same problem, but with Sasuke's stats substituted for Naruto's. Naruto was displeased to see that several of Sasuke's numbers were higher than his. He handed both papers over to Sakura, who was sitting in the middle, and she looked them over, nodding and wrinkling her large forehead in concentration. Both boys peeked over her shoulders and tried to make sense of the numbers in front of her. They were so absorbed that they didn't notice Mr. Hatake come in, book in hand.

"Hello," he said, looking pointedly at all three problems in Sakura's hands. The team jumped, and Sakura dropped the sheets, looking guilty.

"You…you…" said the teacher, closing his book. Was that rage in his single eye? They were in for it now.

"You pass!" he said cheerfully. "Welcome to the Konoha High School Academic Competition Team!"