Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Warnings: OOCness (mainly Naruto)
Author's Note: Woot! I'm finally updating this story! It's been...over 2 years since I've touched this fic...heheh (that just proves how bad an updater I am -sweatdrop-). Okay, due to the larger amount of reviewers who wanted something non-yaoi, I've decided to make it no pairings. Sorry to disappoint those who wanted het or yaoi. Anyways, on with the story!
The Sandaime didn't bother to hold back a victorious grin as he placed seals over the scrolls containing the more 'volatile' jutsu. 'Ha! You may have certainly drained as much benefits as you can from our deal due to the precarious situation the council was in, Naruto-kun. But that doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to work hard for them.' After sealing the last scroll, he placed them back into the Hokage's library. His mischievous demeanor abruptly vanished when he got back to his desk. The file of the boy that was on his mind lay opened on his desk. Sarutobi sat down and flipped through the documents in the folder, frowning at the few sheets of paper. 'How much can I trust you?' he sighed as his contemplation began to cause him to doubt Naruto. 'To have changed so much, so drastically in such little time...something must've caused it. That blank, empty stare...what happened? The pale skin in place of the natural light tan your father had...where were you living? Who did you live with?' He released another sigh as he placed away the folder. There's no time for him to mull over someone who the elders carelessly disregarded as a threat.
A content purr escaped his lips as finished his bottle of milk. Naruto tossed the bottle over his shoulder, not bothering to check if it landed into the garbage can, and exited his house. He arrived precisely on time at the training ground, not a second too early and not a second too late, causing Sakura, who was there earlier, to sweatdrop upon checking her watch just seconds earlier.
"Ohayo" the kunoichi greeted nervously. It wasn't as if her new teammate is scary. No, it wasn't like that at all. The boy looked angelic with his ivory pale skin, golden hair, and lithe figure - the very epitome of an angel. But there was this aura of malicious intent that surrounded the fragile looking being and it caused her skin to prickle. The small nod and an indifferent glance from the corner of the blond's eyes did nothing to quell her unease. Sakura wrapped her arms around her knees as she rested her chin on them again, eyes unconciously wandering back to Naruto as if trying to make sure the boy didn't come any closer to her. Getting tired from sneaking peeks, she decided it's no use from hiding her observation. She was pretty sure he noticed the first time her green orbs darted towards him. She noted the change of clothing the boy had on from yesterday. 'The cloak was probably for traveling...'
Today, Naruto had on a black vest over a white long-sleeved turtleneck sweater and black shinobi pants. His shuriken holster and weapon pouch were located at their standard place at the calf and waist. The standard black shinobi sandal covered his feet. In all, he almost looked like a shinobi ready for a fight if it weren't for the relaxed look on his face as he enjoyed the silence under the shade of a tree.
"SASUKE-KUN!!!" a loud squeal cut through the stillness, causing Naruto to frown slightly. He turned his head slightly to find the source of the commotion and his eyes narrowed in annoyance. 'So much for peace and quiet.'
"Sasuke-kun! I'm so happy you're here!" the female genin chirped, the anxiety she was feeling pushed to the back of her mind. The only thing on her mind is the brooding genin that had just arrived. "I've been waiting here for a while and there was no one to talk to! It took me a while to get ready. I was going to eat an apple, but then I realized that Kakashi-sensei told us not to eat! Would you --" She was interrupted by a drawl that came from their forgotten team member.
"You should've eaten the apple" Naruto gave a small smug smirk.
"Eh?!?! Were you not listening yesterday? Baka (Idiot). Our teacher told us not to eat" the Haruno huffed at being cut off right when she was going to ask for a lunch date.
"I believe his exact words were "Before I forget, I advise you not to eat breakfast tomorrow, you'll puke"..."
"Hn. A good shinobi follows orders" Sasuke sneered. "He was giving advice."
"Sou ka (I see). A good shinobi is a dead shinobi, ne? Not eating just because a superior gave instructions indicating that you shouldn't" Naruto replied calmly, eyes straying towards his left and away from his teammates. "No matter, Kakashi-san is here."
As if on cue, the jounin appeared with the signature Konoha shunshin. "Yo!" the man greeted, his only visible eye curling into a 'u'. 'Mou...and here I was thinking I'd have more time to read my novel. That gaki (brat) is good...to be able to sense me. Then again, the orange cover might've caught his attention'
"YOU'RE LATE!" Sakura shouted, still irritated at missing her chance at a date.
"Waai! Gomen, gomen" Kakashi appologized, the laughter in his voice portraying his amusement. "I thought today was yesterday! As a dutiful jounin, I went to the academy to pick my team up only to find no one there!" the silver-haired man shedded a few alligator tears spectacularly. He visibly deflated when his might-be-students stared at him blankly. 'No sense of humor...what's happening to kids these days?!' "Anyways, let's get started. The objective of this exam, is to retrieve these two bells from me" he held up two silver bells by the strands of red yarn they dangled from. "These two bells will be tied around my hip, here" he showed them exactly where he hung their ticket to becoming real genins. Then he took out an alarm clock, placing it on the middle log in the middle of the training ground. "This is set to 12 noon. You have 4 hours to accomplish this task. The one who doesn't get a bell by the alloted time will get sent back to the academy, miss lunch, and get tied to the log." At this, Naruto gave the girl a haughty grin at which she returned with a scowl. "So, come at me with the intent to kill. Otherwise, you won't be able to even land a hit on me. Ready?"
The three genin nodded.
"Begin!" Kakashi commanded, hand itching to bring out the novel he placed away when giving the instructions to the test. He stood lazily as his eyes glanced around, noting the hiding places of the fresh-out-of-the-academy students. 'Hmm, the Uchiha is well hidden. Haruno...well since she's hiding right near the Uchiha...' He sent out his chakra in search of the other member. 'Nani (What)? Where'd he go...' His eyes narrowed when he couldn't sense the blond. Before he could ponder more on it, Sasuke attacked. 'Looks like the Uchiha is lacking patience.' He held up an arm as the boy swing his leg at him, ducking as the Uchiha used the momentum to twist and follow it up with another kick. A grin appeared on his face as he kept dodging the boy's attack, shifting away when a hand barely skimmed the bells. 'At least it's a nice warm up. Not bad, I can't even take out my book' After catching both of the boy's legs, he tossed him away and vanished.
Sasuke gritted his teeth when he landed harshly on his side. He stood up, brushed off the dirt and immediately began looking for his teacher. 'Not left, not right....behind?' He instantly spun around. 'No. up?!' His eyes widened when there was no one above him. "Wrong. Below" a voice from underneath him called out, two hands grasping his ankles and yanking him down into the earth. "Doton: Shinju Zanshu no Jutsu (Earth Release: Double Suicide Decaptitation Technique) success."
"If this is the rookie of the genin class this year...I wonder how the other two would fare" Kakashi mocked, enjoying the angry glare the boy shot him. "Maa...at least you were able to touch the bells."
"SASUKE-KUN!!" Sakura shouted horrified at seeing only her crush's head above the ground. She clasped her hands against her cheeks in shock, eyes wide and mouth opened.
Kakashi snorted in disbelief as the girl revealed herself just because Sasuke got caught. "You're not hidden anymore..." he pointed out, turning to her. He had to hold back a laugh when she gasped and looked thunderstrucked. He could almost hear the 'uh-oh' running through her mind. "Well...since you're here anyways, let's start."
Sakura bit her lips before shifting into the academy style taijutsu form. 'Damn it.' Sighing mentally, she ran at the man.
The silver-haired jounin sweatdropped when the girl ran at him. 'Too slow...' He simply sidestepped when she charged head first at his stomach and grabbed her hair, triggering a screech from her as she stopped and reached for her hair. "Long hair is a nuisance to those in the ninja profession. It gives enemy nin an easy target to go for." He threw her against a tree, watching her sink to the ground panting.
"Long hair is required for some techniques" a smooth voice informed from his left. Kakashi turned to find his last 'examinee' leaning against the tree. "Shall I show you?"
Before he could figure out what was happening, his instincts told him to scramble. He dodged, reflexes allowing him to avoid the incoming object. 'Left, left, below, right, above...' His eyebrows rose when he realized what he was running from. The boy himself wasn't throwing anything, standing calmly with his hands in the pockets of his vest. His hair, however, was an entirely different matter. They extended and formed long sharp spikes, speeding towards him, trying to impale him. He sweatdropped when a spike of hair slammed right into the spot he stood just seconds ago, breaking through the ground before swerving to chase after him. 'Phew, good thing I didn't try to test how strong they were' It didn't help that there were several other spikes of hair after him also. When he avoided one, another one was there, backing up.
Naruto gave a malicious smirk as he flowed more chakra through his hair, converting a spike into a smooth wrap, using it to wrap around the man who jumped to avoid the three spikes that suddenly stopped and reverted back to his waist-length hair. "That was fun, ne?" he asked rehetorically, taking out both of his hands from his pockets. He rested one of them on his waist as he tilted his head questionably at the jounin's actions. "That's not going to work" he alerted, watching amusedly as the man tried hacking at his hair with a kunai, using his only available arm as the other was wrapped up. The blond lifted the hand that wasn't resting on his waist and grinned as the nails of his index and middle finger extended towards the bells. He closed the two fingers together, cutting off half of the red yarn before they shortened back. As they fell, Naruto added chakra to the other side of his hair that wasn't holding the man, allowing it to grow into another long wrap, taking the bells back to him. "Arigatou (thanks)" he chuckled, stopping the flow of chakra through his hair and reverting it back to waist-length. "I didn't even have to move."
"Chakra enforced, huh?" Kakashi muttered thoughtfully.
"Hai, hai" the blond chirped, swinging the bells by the short string.
"Genjutsu? How is it possible for it to grow long and revert back?"
"Hmm...did that feel like genjutsu to you?" the preadolescent raised an eyebrow, eyes looking pointedly at the holes his hair made on the ground. "Hair is merely dead cells...all I have to do is increase the rate at which the cells die, extending them faster. Then when I'm done, I heal it back. Nails can be done similarly. He stared directly at the man, knowing that the jounin would understand not to continue his pestering. "Maybe I should keep my hair longer...that way I won't have to expend so much chakra for the process..."
Kakashi sighed, glancing at the other two genin. The Uchiha was scowling at the blond while Sakura was gazing nervously at the two.
-Beep- -Beep- -Beep- The alarm clock sounded.
"Maa...looks like time's up. Only Naruto got the bells" Kakashi announced. "Who are you going to give the bell to?"
The said boy frowned. "Is it really necessary?"
"You're going to let both of them fail?"
"Give me a bell, dobe" the Uchiha held out a hand.
"Well...you certainly would make a better partner than Haruno..." Naruto lifted a bell thoughtfully. "But I don't like your attitude."
Sasuke's triumphant grin was wiped off his face.
Kakashi laughed. "It doesn't matter who you give it to, Naruto." He stepped back to look at the three genin. "Because all three of you FAIL."
"WHAT?!" Sakura shouted. "But Naruto-san got a bell."
"Neither of you got the meaning of this test. This was supposed to test your teamwork and neither of you showed any of it. Sasuke, you didn't think of asking the other two for help and attacked. Sakura, you revealed yourself without coming at me. If I were an enemy, you would've been killed 5 times over. Naruto...I congratulate you on getting the bell, but you have not offered help to the other two. Remember, there is no 'i' in 'team'."
"There's no 'us' in 'team' either, sensei" Naruto retorted, looking as composed as always. He didn't seem to care that he was going to get sent back to the academy even though he passed the "supposed" test.
Kakashi made no comment as he walked over to the memorial stone that stood a alone near the far end of the clearing. "This is the memorial stone for all the heroes who died in battle. In Konoha, there is none who have died more honorably than by defending one's teammate. It became an unspoken motto for us shinobi. Strength comes from the will to protect."
"How articulate" Naruto murmured. "But in the end you can only trust yourself, ne? But you can't do everything alone...that's what a team is for."
The jounin grimaced at the pessimistic notion. "Nevertheless, the three of you have failed the exam. I wish you better luck next year."
Sasuke gave the Hatake his patented Uchiha glare, eyes boring angrily into the side of the man's head.
"I don't believe you have the right to do that" the blond finally enunciated after a momentary pause. "You see, before this team had to take this exam, it was granted immediate and automatic pass."
This caused the others to turn to him.
"How do you know this?" Kakashi questioned suspiciously.
"There is a reason why I was called back, you know" a wicked glint flashed quickly behind blue orbs, disappearing as fast as it appeared. "I am merely used to take up the spot of the third member so this team could do more than D-rank missions...or did you really believe that your beloved council would invite me back so willingly?"
"Eh? Naruto-san. What did you do?" Sakura tilted her head in confusion.
"I was on self-imposed exile" the said boy smiled serenely at her, as if being kept from entering one's hometown is small matter.
"Self-imposed..." Sakura frowned. "Why did you want to keep yourself from returning back to Konoha?"
The blond shrugged. "I wanted to travel without having any shinobi after me unless I am needed. Otherwise, I would be taking the academy courses with you guys."
"Where did you learn your skills?" Sasuke demanded.
"Maa...One can't survive alone outside without being able to avoid getting killed" Naruto huffed. "If that's all for today, I'm going to talk to the Sandaime about a little change in plans."
"Naruto!" Sarutobi greeted enthusiastically, pushing a pile of paperwork onto the floor to make way for the two cups of tea he was pouring. "What brings you here?"
"I've decided I've changed my mind" the said boy responded, plopping down in the armchair in front of the Hokage's desk. "I'm going to change some things I've asked for."
At this, the Sandaime raised an eyebrow. "We've already signed our contract...for you to break it so soon..."
Naruto smirked at the retort. "That's where you're partially wrong. Remember I demanded to be allowed to bring the scrolls out of the library after the contract was signed?"
The old man nodded slowly, mentally cursing for forgetting such a small piece of detail. "Is that not to your content?"
"Iie (No). It would be a shame not to be allowed to study the scrolls outside of the stuffy room. However, I've decided that it's not that much of a sacrifice" Naruto murmured wistfully. "I require a pass that'll allow me outside of Konoha's gates without having to be on a C-rank mission or be labeled as a nuke-nin."
"That's a huge favor to ask for..." the Hokage narrowed his eyes. "What do you need it for?"
"Don't worry about me being a spy. No one would believe a demon anyways" the blond spat out bitterly, playing the pity-me act.
The Third sighed and rested his cheek against his palm. "You're not a demon, Naruto. But in order to get an authorization that'll allow you out of the village requires you to be at least at chunin level."
"I understand. But I've been living outside of the village for so long. I'm not accustomed to living with so much people."
"Your house is far from the rest of the residence in Konoha."
"The noise still reaches my house. Away from the village, the only noise comes from nature. How about I allow you to take back the house and also reduce my pay back to the normal amount for this pass?"
"You're practically returning all but one of the benefits you're getting for just helping Konoha out. Are you sure you want to give back the house, half the money you were going to get, and the ability to take the forbidden scrolls out just for an out-of-village pass that you can get after taking the chunin exams?"
"Hai. I want it now. Besides, it's the least I can do while you have to circumvent the Chunin Clearance Act to get me the permit."
"I see that you've put in much thought into this. I guess it'd be useless to sway your decision" the Sandaime took out the old contract and an empty scroll. "We have to break the first contract and rewrite a new one. I trust that you won't vandalize Konoha by abusing the license."
Naruto looked up after he finished signing his name on the old contract. "That's nothing to fret over. I don't have to do that. Your council's already bringing down the village's image on their own."
Sarutobi couldn't help but agree to that statement. "Homura and Koharu have been over zealous in some of their actions."
"You're too mellow in dealing with them, old man" Naruto pointed out, signing the new treaty as the other male burned the old one with a small fire technique. "From my vantage point, you're merely a figurehead for the village. Everything else is done behind the scenes by the elders." He took the card that was handed to him, storing it in his vest's pocket.
The two were enjoying the comfortable atmosphere until the door slammed open. Neither of the two flinched, continuing on with their sipping.
"Fight me, jiji (grandpa)!" a young boy, the age of 8, called out. He had a shuriken held abysmally in his hand. It was surprising he didn't get cut.
There was still no further action from the two figures sitting in the room other than the lifting up of the cups to their lips.
"I will defeat you and take your position!" the preadolescent shouted, running towards the man sitting behind the desk. Naught three feet from where he started, he tripped over the long blue scarf tied around his neck. "Uwah!" the child cried, picking himself up. "This must be a trap!"
"Your honoured grandson! There is no trap, I assure you! As an elite jounin, I can tell!" a jounin in sunglasses informed upon entering the room.
"My" Naruto drawled, drawing the attention to him as well as causing a blush of embarrassment to crawl up the Sandaime's face. "Such a dramatic bunch."
"Who are you?!" Konohamaru exclaimed, pointing to the smirking blond. "I know, you're the one who tripped me!"
"And if I did?" the blond raised an eyebrow.
The two that entered loudly sputtered incoherently.
"Do you know who he is?!" the jounin cried out angrily. "He's the honoured grandson of the Hokage! Appologize immediately!"
Naruto merely lifted an eyebrow.
Konohamaru grinned smugly, interpreting the raised eyebrow as one in shock. 'You're going to appologize, aren't you? You're just like everyone else when they hear of my status.'
The blond sneered. "Like I care about who you are. You could be him," at this, Naruto pointed a thumb at the Hokage, "and I'd laugh at you."
"You wound me, Naruto-kun" Sarutobi faked being in pain, clutching the area above his heart. "I'm an old man. What if I fall and can't get back up?"
"Then you're no longer fit to be a shinobi" the pre-teen answered indifferently. "Maybe you should hand over your position to the gaki (brat) after all."
The jounin in the room snapped out of his shock and interrupted. "How dare you act so brashly towards Hokage-sama and his grandson?!"
Naruto chuckled darkly at that. "I could say the same to you. You were hardly acting professional. Maybe if you change your sense of fashion it'll help a little, ne? The vibe you're giving off is screaming 'pedophilic stalker'."
The jounin's jaws dropped at that.
Sandaime laughed amusedly. "He got you there, Ebisu."
"Why you!" the humiliated jounin snarled, before blinking and realizing that the blond was no longer in the seat. Instead, the boy was walking gracefully towards the exit, hair fluttering lightly in the breeze.
"I think the brat would turn out better if he had a better teacher. It sends shivers down my spine thinking about what that man could've done to your grandson behind your back. I mean it's bad enough the man - Ebisu, was it? - passed on his horrible sense of fashion to the kid. The gaki looks like he's pretending to be some stupid cartoon hero." Naruto tossed up a hand in a wave before walking out the door. "Thank you for the tea, Sandaime-sama."
Konohamaru woke up from his shocked stupor from when the boy insulted his grandpa and decided to follow his new role-model. Slipping out the door unnoticed by his teacher as the man was rationalizing his defeat with the amused Hokage.
Sasuke was practicing his aiming when he spotted his blond teammate coming into view. He noted that the blond's hair now reached his knees. 'He lengthened it? He did say that he was going to keep it longer...' A scowl came to his face when he remembered how he got shown up by the new boy. "What do you want?" he asked irritably when the boy leaned a shoulder against the tree where his target was located.
"You're free now, right?" Naruto asked. But before the other boy could answer, he spoke again. "Of course you are. It wouldn't do for an Uchiha to have to train."
Sasuke sighed, relaxing his posture and replacing his kunai in his leg holster. "What do you want?" he questioned again.
"You can come out now, gaki" the blond informed seemingly to noone as he stared lazily at the raven.
The side of the tree behind Naruto rippled before a brunette appeared.
"Aha! You're worthy to be ---" Konohamaru was cut off when the boy he was stalking grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dumped him in front of the Uchiha.
"This, Konohamaru, is Uchiha Sasuke" the flaxen-haired genin told the academy student. "He's pretty popular, heard of him? He's the top of this year's graduates, has a large group of fangirls and people just simply adores him."
Konohmaru gained stars in his eyes at the information.
"Therefore, he should be the perfect role model for you" Naruto continued, shooting his teammate a look that portrayed his entertainment. "You'll learn much from him. Ganbatte (good luck) ne?"
"Hai!" the brunette saluted. "Sasuke, please teach me well!"
The Uchiha shuddered. "What the hell, Naruto! I don't want to take care of the brat!"
"Please do me a favor, Sasuke" his partner spoke, ignoring him. "Change his outfit for him. It's unsuitable for a shinobi. No fashion sense at all. You can put it on the Sandaime's tab" At that, the blond patted the older boy's shoulder before walking off.
"Sasuke, teach me!" the Hokage's grandson tugged at the genin's armwarmer.
"Damn you, Naruto!" the Uchiha cursed under his breath. "Damn you to hell!"
Author's note: A (slightly) longer chapter for the long wait! I changed some stuff around, made some stuff up and added a small fighting scene even though I don't know how to write one. For anything scientific regarding the hairs and nails, I suggest you not to follow what I wrote...they're all made up based upon what I know...I tried to look up information about nails...but they didn't have what I need. So it's all made up. I've also decided that Naruto shouldn't have long hair unless he needs it, so there you have it ;D. The jutsu information are all taken from NarutoHQ so...if they're wrong, it's not me. I hope you all enjoyed!