Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
by Chronos Astral
The final academy examinations. The one thing that Naruto has been dreading ever since the first time he's failed it.
He damned the accursed Bunshin no Jutsu, damned it for its refusal to work properly for him. It's what caused him to fail the first time, and the second time. And, by Kami, he swore that if it failed him a third time, he would personally find the man responsible for developing the damnable jutsu and kick his ass. And if he were already dead, Naruto would drag his sorry ass out of Hell (because evil men like him couldn't possible pass away into Heaven) and kick his undead ass back to Satan. Believe it!
His many new friends had given him all sorts of encouraging words. Even Sasuke himself had approached him, quite reluctantly he noticed, and told him in a near subdued whisper 'You better pass, dobe...'. The Uchiha had left without another word after that. In all honesty, Naruto was surprised by how much attention he was getting. The normal scorn he received was becoming notably lesser and lesser each day, replaced by accepting friends and rather charitable adults. It was so surreal, but he welcomed the change, elated to have (somehow) earned this acceptance.
His concerns shifted to Hinata, whom he considered a rather peculiar girl, especially when he was in her presence. He had considered trying to be friends with her once, but on one attempt of approaching her, she had outright fainted on the spot. Now, whenever he was so much as a ruler apart from her, she'd squirm her legs together and drool would escape her lips. Once or twice he had caught her staring at him during class and he could have sworn there was a trickle of blood streaming from her nose and a glazed look in her eye. It was more than just a little unnerving. At this, Naruto pondered. 'I thought that was only a reaction perverted guys get. I don't think there are any girls that are perverted... Maybe she's allergic to something on me?'
Going back to the problem at hand, it wasn't like he didn't have any help in making a bunshin. Hell, nearly every instructor in the whole school seemed keen on improving him in near every aspect of being a ninja. They were more than happy to train him themselves should they have the time, becoming more and more lenient with him, and already Naruto was improving significantly, slowly going up from the dead-last rank to one of the higher ranks in class. It was no Rookie of the Year, but he supposed it was better than being the dead-last. He had this sneaking suspicion that the teachers were competing for who could teach him best, but he laid those suspicions to rest. Though, for all their efforts, he still couldn't do the Bunshin no Jutsu right.
Naruto grit his teeth, waiting in distressed silence for the calling of his name. All those that had been called gave him encouraging pats on the back before stepping into the exam room. While he appreciated it, it did not boost his spirits up too much. There were a few of his classmates that noticed.
"It's alright, Naruto-kun," Yamanaka Ino gave an encouraging hand on his shoulder and a comforting grin. "I'm sure you'll pass if you try your hardest."
Haruno Sakura approached him from the opposite side and laid her own hand on him. "You'll pass this time for sure, Naruto-kun. Then we can be teammates."
"Who said he was going to be your teammate, Forehead?" Ino snapped from her side, possessively gripping a little harder on the blond boy's shoulder.
"Well it's certainly better than being yours, Pig!" Sakura spat back at her rival, giving an equally powerful grip on Naruto, making him wince in pain of their combined might.
The two continued their dispute through the sparks that clashed in their glaring eyes. Until now, the two girls had no idea how they'd easily gotten over Uchiha Sasuke and were suddenly more than just a little interested in the whiskered blond. At first, they were in doubt, but as the days grew on in the boy's company, they easily warmed up to it. It was just so... pleasant to be close to him, and apparently nearly everyone else had the same thought since in the span of many months, he had hands-down become the most popular kid in class. Surprisingly, even Sasuke had secretly given in to the boy's charms.
After a while, things started to get a bit aggressive between Naruto's many newfound friends. He had always been offered some form of help or token of good will. Lunches, money, homework, companionship, the list went on. What he didn't take notice of was the fact that in the background, many would constantly fight for his attention, trying to outdo the other in what to present to the blond. The most dauntless and determined of these competitors were none other than Sakura, Ino, Kiba (Yes, Kiba. Though he says its only because they were great pals.), Hinata (The girl could be really motivated and scary when she wanted to be.), Shino (Not that it was very noticeable. He usually approached while no one was around or snuck about in the shadows.), and lastly (Though he would rather die before admitting it to anyone.) Sasuke. Chouji and Shikamaru were a little more subtle and settled for just being Naruto's closer friends. For now.
Naruto had his own unusual brand of fanclub vying for him and he didn't even know it. Poor boy.
"Uzumaki Naruto up next for examination!" The voice of Iruka cut through the classroom and immediately silence the spat the two would-be kunoichi were having.
Naruto straightened and stood, taking in the cheers of encouragement with a shy and modest smile. You'd think his ego would be bloated from all the attention but he learned to appreciate the appraisal he was now receiving without letting it get to his head.
He just hoped he wouldn't let them down.
This became a strong moot point in Umino Iruka's decision. Naruto had, though despite his obviously strained and concentrated efforts, barely put up a single decent bunshin for his test. Stubbornly, the boy requested for another trial, which he and his assistant, Mizuki, had acceded to. He had only failed once more, though surprisingly the clone was just a little more solid than the last one. But overall, it just wouldn't cut it.
So it all came down to this, because he knew that either way he was going to regret it a lot. He held a strong sense of companionship with the boy, which may or may not have been deeper than that. So it was to either let his better judgment guide him and fail the boy, which would undoubtedly result in a crestfallen expression from the boy which he would all too devastated to see (not to mention the mobs of his own students violently protesting against his decision but he didn't know that), or let the boy pass and let him risk his life in the ninja world clearly unprepared for its perils.
He decided to pick the lesser of the two evils and swallowed hard against the nagging voice in his head. "I'm sorry, Naruto... But you failed..."
Oh Kami, it was just too unbearable to see that downhearted face in the boy's normally smiling front.
'Must... resist urge... to change mind... Must... resist urge... to hug crying boy...'
Mizuki himself was having hard time trying to convince himself that the importance of his mission was much, much more important than the feelings of a certain academy drop-out. Okay, so he had taken a rather fond liking to the boy and he knew that it would might very well jeopardize the his mission. And it was already doing so.
'Why am I hesitating? It's the Kyuubi gaki for Kami's sake, it would actually do the village a favor!... Wouldn't it...?'
After a few moments of doubting his conviction and sorting out his mind, he resolved it by playing Orochimaru's orders over in his head. It would be the smart thing to do not to disobey the snake Sannin's orders for fear of inciting his wrath. Considering that the snake man had a reputation of finding ungodly ways to dispose of insubordinate followers, it was clearly the better choice.
'Hell yeah, it's the better choice. Being strung by your innards over a pit of snakes is so freakin' not worth being in the good graces of one lone boy... No matter how emotionally attached to him.'
So, the chuunin spy chose to follow through with the task trusted to him in favor of his life. And he approached the morose blond boy, ignoring the relentless nagging from the back of his mind. "Naruto-kun... There is another way to pass..."
Unfortunately for him, Naruto was easily moved by the smallest of hope, and his eyes brightened, sparkling with so much innocence it made the soon-to-be traitor choke.
'Must... resist urge... to change mind... Must... resist urge... to hug beaming boy...'
With another jump and a mad dash, Iruka was speeding up even faster than before, cursing and swearing obscenities with each step. The man had only recently been informed of young Naruto's excursion of stealing the forbidden scroll. He had mostly blamed himself for that, seeing as he might have been the cause for motivating the boy to do something so rash. What he was more worried about right now was Naruto's safety, because if the other chuunin find Naruto before he does, he'd doubt that they would be too lenient with him.
In the distance, he had spotted a tuft of yellow hair amongst the foliage but it was hard to make out through the dark of night. Throwing caution to the wind, he approached as swiftly and as quietly as he could, to better observe his former-student.
The boy looked to have been downright exhausted with many creases on his shirt along with dirt and grime. He was sweating quite a lot, though had an otherwise satisfied smile on his face. Wrapped tight around his right arm, was a large scroll, the forbidden scroll.
'He looks really winded. Has he been practicing a jutsu from the scroll?' Then another thought crossed him.
'How someone who hasn't even graduated from the academy had somehow taken an item of great importance so easily, from the Hokage, of all people, I'll never know...'
Shaking away whatever implausibility he felt over the situation, he drew closer to the boy, eyes darting left and right for any sign of danger. With bated breath, he asked. "Naruto. What are you doing with the forbidden scroll?"
Naruto looked up from the base of the trunk he sat, eyes squinting a little in an effort to make out the darkened figure of his teacher. He grinned and shakily stood up. "Iruka-sensei!" Apparently, the volume of his voice won't change no matter how tired he was. "Look! Look! I've learned a new jutsu and it's way better than the Bunshin no Jutsu! I'll show it you then you can let me graduate, right!?" The boy gushed with ungodly enthusiasm, already forgetting how fatigued he was.
"Naruto..." Before Iruka could say anything, the ominous whizzing of what he recognized as approaching shuriken alerted his trained senses, and he dodged out of the way in time, the ninja stars flitting too uncomfortably close to his tanned face. He produced a kunai from his pouch and swiveled his head to the direction of the assailant. "Mizuki!?"
There, crouched on the branch of a tree, was the silver-haired chuunin instructor, Touji Mizuki, fuuma shurikens strapped to his back. From where he stood, he hesitantly addressed the blond boy, eyes momentarily flickering with doubt, but resolved steely once more. "Naruto... Give me the scroll... And I won't hurt you."
Believe it or not, somehow my left hand had just gotten numb. Don't know why, it's not that long a chapter to begin with. I think I should be concerned.
The two instructors aren't pedo. They're just strangely affectionate with him in a not so creepy way. Sort of like how any straight guy looks at one of those atrociously cute (Cute in the adorable sense. Not in the attractive sense.) anime drawings of guys in deviantart. They'll never admit it out loud, but at least to some small degree, they find it adorable. (Unless it's only me, in which case I seriously question my sanity)
On a side note, look up my other fics and see what you think:
I am not Submissive!
- Possible harem of how Naruto ends up with nearly all the girls sleeping over at his house. Added to Naruto's charitable and chivalrous nature, it equals to utter chaos.
Windows to the Soul
(My main Naruto fic)
- Harem fic of how Naruto, in his dark struggle to live on, is befriended and cared for by a stranger, whom he will then see as his own brother. Through the times they've been together, a bloodline stirs within him. A bloodline of mystery and untapped power, that can either strengthen or break him.
- Also a harem (I know. I just can't help myself) wherein Naruto seeks companionship and love by traversing through the plane of dreams to connect with those who were precious to him.
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