-1An Arduous Journey

Author's note: After reading quite a few Naruto fanfics, quite a few amazing ones actually, I decided to start my own. I don't know if the idea has been done before, I certainly haven't run across it, however the story should be different from anything you've read before, or my name is Alfred (Which it isn't.)

IMPORTANT: This story is AU. That means ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. That means I can do whatever the hell I want and you have to suck it up and deal.

Pairings: I don't know yet. Feel free to suggest things but I don't do slash, yuri, yaoi, or harems. I will do love triangles. This story will not be about pairings though.

BTW: I don't own Naruto!

The Chunin Exams - Kakashi's Hesitance!

Two weeks after the Wave mission and Kakashi was at his wit's end. He wanted to know what the hell had happened to his team. Where was the excellent teamwork that lead them to defeat such strong opponents. Where was the concern for each other? Where was the determination? It was as though returning to Konoha had brought back their bad habits threefold.

Sakura was even more determined to get Sasuke to notice her. Kakashi had thought she would finally get serious about becoming a ninja after having felt so useless in the Land of Waves, but no, one run in with Ino and she had forgotten all about that. She also seemed even more determined to bring down Naruto than ever before.

Speaking of Naruto, the kid had actually started to quiet down a little a ways into their walk back. Oh sure he still talked, Kakashi didn't think a gag could muffle him, but he wasn't as loud, or annoying. As soon as they walked in those gates though an errant remark from a passer-by had sent Naruto into a shouting frenzy. Kakashi just didn't know what to do about Naruto, He had more potential than anyone he had seen before, and more determination, but he was always undermining his own talents by his actions. Not to mention that the fighting with Sasuke had gotten even worse, if that was possible.

And Sasuke, here Kakashi had to refrain from banging his head into the memorial stone he was currently kneeling in front of. Sasuke had become even more withdrawn. It might not seem that way to the casual observer but Kakashi could see it. If Kakashi couldn't get Sasuke to open up and let go of his revenge, well Kakashi feared that Sasuke would do something drastic, and that wouldn't bode well for anyone. At that moment Kakashi actually wondered in Sasuke awakening his bloodline wasn't more of a curse than a blessing.

"ETERNAL RIVAL! I FOUND YOU!" The sudden loud scream jarred Kakashi from his thoughts and nearly caused him to jump, nearly. Only years of training prevented it. How a six foot tall green spandex wearing overly loud crazy could sneak up on him would forever be a mystery, no matter how many times it happened.

"Ah, did you say something?" Kakashi said as he stood, flipping open one of his treasured Icha Icha Paradise books.

"How unbearably hip of you rival!" Maito Gai cried pointing a finger at the relaxed looking jounin. "That does not matter, I have simply come to tell you that no matter how bright the flames of youth might shine in your students those flames of my students shall always be brighter. My students will prevail over yours in the Chunin exam or I shall do ONE HUNDRED laps around Konoha's walls on my hands!" He finished off his exuberant, and loud, speech with a thumbs up and a scarily bright student.

"Oh, is it time for the Chunin exams already? I'd forgotten." Kakashi lazily flipped a page, not taking his eye off the book.

"I will not be fooled by that hip attitude rival!" Suddenly Gai seemed to realize the time. "Ah! I am late! NO! I don't wish to become unyouthful as my rival!" He then ran off, kicking up a dust trail behind him.

Kakashi sighed as he lowered his book, he had not seen a word after Gai had mentioned the chunin exams. The truth was he had forgotten about that. Damn. If he had to be perfectly honest, he didn't think his students were ready. Strength wise he thought they would be okay. After all Naruto had the Kyuubi and Sasuke had his pride, which while it might not keep him happy it would force him to become strong. Sakura he figured would drag through on the coattails of the others. But they just didn't have the proper attitude.

Besides, he didn't want his students to drag themselves to the finish line by the skin of their teeth. He wanted them to blow everyone else out of the water.

With another sigh Kakashi put his book away and turned to the Hokage's tower. He had to tell the Hokage that his team wouldn't be participating in the exams, and request a mission to last at least until the beginnings of the exam. Preferably one far from Konoha.


"Where is Kakashi?" The Hokage asked, only mildly perturbed as he had grown accustomed to the jounin's habitually tardiness. No one in the room answered him. He supposed that was to be expected. "Well we might as well start…" He was cut off as the door opened, admitting a one-eyed shinobi into the Hokage's office.

"Sorry I'm late." Although honestly he had only found out about the meeting once he'd arrived, those messenger chunin were getting rusty. "I left my refrigerator on and had to go back to turn it off." Nobody commented on the outrageousness of this excuse because, really, what would they say?

"That's alright. Let's get down to business though." He turned to address the others in the room as well. "Kurenai, Asuma, Kakashi, do any of you believe your genin team ready to participate in the chunin selection exams?"

"I, Yuuhi Kurenei, jounin sensei of squad eight nominate my team of Inuzuka Kiba, Aburame Shino, and Hyuuga Hinata to take the chunin exams." She had stepped forward as she had begun to talk and now stepped back as she finished.

"I, Sarutobi Asuma, jounin sensei of squad ten nominate my team to take the exams." He hadn't even bothered to take the cigarette out of his mouth.

There was a small lull as everyone waited for Kakashi to speak. Finally the Sandaime got tired of the silence and asked, "And you Kakashi? What of your team?"

"I…" Kakashi stopped and really thought about what he was going to do. He never thought either Kurenai or Asuma would nominate their teams. In fact he had banked on it for explaining his decision to his team. Now though… What if they hated him? What if they thought he was would them back? Well he was kinda holding them back but he had a damn good reason. In the end he had to think about what would be best for his team, so taking a deep breath he continued on. "I do not nominate my squad, squad seven for the chunin exams.

The silence that met his reply was deafening.

Author's Note Reprise: First chapter done. Yes it is short. No, they won't all be like this. The next chapter should be two to three times this length. This was just to set up the plot.


"Why the hell won't you at least let us try Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto screamed, his thoughts echoed on the faces of his teamates.

"Because if you took the exam right now, you'd all fail, miserably."