Usually, the expression 'fork in the road' is metaphorical. For one fleeing missing-nin of Konoha, it was an actual, physical fork in the road.

The left or the right?

He knew there was a human tendency to pick the left fork of a path, but the hunter-nin would know that too, so perhaps he should take the left anyways? Or would she expect that?

No time to think it over. Flipping a mental coin, he moved left.

Scant minutes later and the ninja was cursing his choice. The path switched back here. If she knew this area well, and she likely did...

The noises of the forest died down and a silence settled over the trees. 'She's here,' he thought, pulling out a tanto and looking around nervously. He knew his odds in a fight here, and cursed. If he'd only taken the right hand path after all, he might have stayed ahead long enough to escape the Fire Country. Instead, he was going to die here.

A hand slowly pushed aside the foliage up ahead, revealing an ANBU mask in the shape of a bear's head. Twin blue eyes, dark enough to be almost black, stared back. He waited for the attack.

He never expected it to come from behind.

Slumping over, paralyzed, the would be traitor flopped to the ground as the hunter-nin kicked him off her sword. The one he'd been watching in the bushes disappeared with a poof of smoke. He'd been fooled by an elementary ruse. Looking up at his pursuer, he struggled to find his voice. "I have no-"

Whatever he was going to say was silenced by a boot stomping in his head.

Snorting, the ANBU wiped her sword off on the dead ninja, placed some seals on the body, and activated them. How lucky she was that he'd made this simple mistake, and not taken the other path. She'd have wasted another day chasing him, after all, and then another day returning home.

On the way back to Konoha she passed through the split in the paths without taking notice of it. What difference does a path not taken and two days wasted make in the long run, after all?

oooooooo

"The Hokage is discussing the upcoming genin teams with Umino," one of the guards outside the Hokage's office said, holding up a hand.

"Very well," the bear-masked ANBU said. "I will not take up too much of his time, and I have a report to give."

"You probably want to see your student again, too," the chuunin said, smiling. The ANBU stared back, impassively, until he twitched. He opened the door. "Hokage. An ANBU is here to give a report."

Sarutobi looked up from his desk, where he was assigning genin teams to various jounin-sensei with the help of the instructors, to glance at the ninja in the doorway. "Come in - close the door," he said, and waited until the door was closed before speaking further. "You can take off that mask, Makurayami-san," he told her, and pulled out a seat.

She removed her mask and held it in one arm, then sat stiffly in the offered chair. "Hokage, I report success in my mission to eliminate the fugitive," she said, her eyes carefully not looking at the desk and the various papers it held, lest she see something not meant for her eyes.

"Very good," Sarutobi said. "I expect no less of you, although you're back faster than you estimated."

"The target made an error, and I was able to shorten my mission."

"And you should never plan on having good fortune," Iruka said, smiling.

"You learned something from me. Good," she said coolly. She glared at him. "Sometimes I wondered if you ever would." She turned to the Hokage. "Is there anything else?"

"Actually, as long as you're here, would you mind giving your opinion of these genin teams?" the Hokage asked, gesturing to the provisional teams Iruka and he had drawn up.

She nodded and picked them up, reading over them quickly. "Kurenai-san to be given command of a team of an Inuzaka, an Aburame, and a Hyuuga. A very good choice; Kurenai will not push them into direct action and will polish their strengths in intelligence gathering and scouting. I cannot say the same about assigning Asuma to this other team," she said, indicating the provisional Team 10. "I have seen the Nara and Akimichi boy around town, and I question whether Asuma will be able to get them out of the lazy habits they have. Still," she said, "not a bad choice. As for this other team - with Uzumaki? He is the prankster, yes?"

"That's Naruto, all right," Iruka said, wondering what his former instructor thought about Naruto. With most ninja, it would be 'nothing good', but Lin-sensei never seemed to get upset about the antics of academy students. Mere students were beneath her.

"You have paired him with Uchiha, and assigned them Kakashi. I find that a particularly bad choice," she said flatly.

The Hokage held up a hand. "Kakashi is one of our most powerful ninja-"

"-which says nothing about his teaching acumen, which is unknown," she interrupted.

"-and also is the last sharingan user in the village," he finished.

"A better argument... against Kakashi. His presence on the team smacks of favoritism towards Sasuke. Besides, Kakashi fails all of his students; I question whether he should be given command of a genin team at all, at this point."

"We don't have that many other jounin available," Iruka said, pointing out another reason Kakashi was listed as a jounin instructor.

"Fine," she said. "Hokage, I request to take Kakashi's place as an instructor."

Sarutobi raised his eyebrows. "It's unusual for someone your age to offer to teach a second genin team, nevermind a third," he said. She stared at him impassively. He shrugged and lined out Kakashi's name on the team assignments. "Fine, then. Should we be expecting a rookie team in the Chuunin exams, then?"

"I would be disappointed otherwise," she said, standing up and bowing slightly.

"Dismissed," the Hokage said. Her mask reappeared on her face as if by magic, and she walked out of the room. He signed and looked at Iruka with a slight smile. "Don't you feel sorry for those poor kids?"

Iruka thought back to his own days as a genin and smiled. "As a matter of fact - yes." They both laughed. "I feel most sorry for Sakura, actually. Lin-sensei's training is a bit hard."

"Well, she was Gai's teammate," the Hokage said by way of explanation. "You know that. Besides, she might have mellowed out some. You got her as a rookie jounin, after all."

"I can't picture her mellowing out," Iruka said. "I mean, it's been eleven or twelve years and she'll still chew me out for calling her by her name."

"You aren't a jounin-"

"-you don't deserve to use it," Iruka finished, shaking his head. "I've heard that way too many times. Is that all?"

"That's it. Good luck with the next bunch of brats entering the Academy," the Hokage said, smiling, as he led the chuunin out of his office. After he left he stared out the window. "I suppose Kakashi will be happy - no distractions from Icha Icha. Which reminds me," he said, patting himself down for a piece of paper and a pen, "I should ask Jiraiya for an advance copy."

oooooooo

After they'd been assigned to teams, the rookie genin were given a short break before they'd meet their jounin instructors. He'd headed back to his classroom and sat down. Some of the jounin instructors were there already – there was a lazy looking guy who had a cigarette in his mouth. That guy just about had to be Shikamaru's team leader; it wouldn't be funny enough otherwise. Most of the jounin sensei were looking at various genin in the room or talking to each other about their new team. One was holding a conversation with Iruka instead. His teacher broke off the conversation and turned back to the classroom. "All right. Not all the jounin have arrived, but it's time for us to start. If your instructor isn't here, just wait for them. Kakashi isn't taking a team this year, so none of you should have to wait too long," Iruka said, and the jounin instructors chuckled.

The woman who'd been talking to Iruka immediately stepped forward the second he stopped talking. "Team 7," she said curtly, briefly glancing at each of the three genin. "Come with me." Immediately she turned and left without waiting for acknowledgement.

Looking at his two teammates, Naruto got up and ran out the door with them. Their instructor had paused out in the hallway, but resumed her quick walk once they got out of the classroom.

"Where are we going?" Naruto asked loudly. There was no answer. They entered the staircase and started heading up. "Are we going to the roof?" he asked again.

"Shut up, dead-last," Sasuke whispered, glancing at their jounin-sensei. Naruto bristled but shut up.

The four of them walked out onto the roof. Their instructor walked forward, then stopped and slowly turned. Her eyes flicked over her team. "Sit," she commanded sharply.

The three genin sat down immediately. Their instructor walked forward, then paced back and forth in front of them, looking down – looking through – the trio, silent even despite her armor. A long, straight, tapering sword was in its scabbard over her shoulder, looking more like a spike than a normal sword.

"I am unimpressed," she stated loudly, still pacing in front of them. She wasn't even looking at them. "They tell me I'm getting ninjas, but all I see are students. You three, are unworthy of being genin," she continued, looking down her nose impassively at Sasuke, who bristled.

Naruto was angry himself. Hadn't he passed the test? Didn't he have a hitae-ite? He jumped up, ready to give this jounin a piece of his mind. "Hey-"

"YOU," she barked, turning on Naruto suddenly and freezing him with the sheer intensity of her glare. "WHAT. IS. YOUR. NAME."

Naruto flinched back. "Uzumaki Naruto, future-"

"Are you the Hokage?" she roared, cutting him off.

"No, but-"

"Are you even a jounin?" she continued, even louder.

"No-"

"Are you under my command?" she growled at him, her voice dropping even as her eyes grew angrier.

"Well, yes-"

"Then, Naruto, you SHUT UP and accept my judgement," she said sternly. She switched over to Sakura. "You. What's your name?"

"Haruno Sakura," she answered nervously.

Still moving, she stood in front of Sasuke. "You. State your name."

"Uchiha Sasuke."

"Very well. My name is Makurayami Lin. You will address me as 'Makurayami-sensei' or 'sensei'. We will be working together as a team, so I believe a short introduction is in order." She looked over to Naruto. "State your likes, your dislikes, your hobbies, and your goals."

He wanted to tell her that she should introduce herself, but Naruto wasn't a total idiot; he'd just get yelled at again. "Well, I like ramen... and I dislike the three minutes I have to wait for it to cook. My hobbies... pranks, I guess. And someday, I'll become the greatest Hokage of them all, and have the whole village acknowledge me!"

"Nice. Haruno. Same questions."

Sakura started, then blushed. "Oh! Um, the thing I like is... the person I like. And they're my dream for the future, too." Then her face went an instant tranformation as she frowned. "And the thing I dislike is Naruto. My hobby is -" and there she looked at Sasuke and blushed again.

"Hnn. Boy crazy," Makurayami-sensei said dismissively. "You. Uchiha. Same questions."

Sasuke shifted. "Well, there are lots of things I dislike, but few things I like. I don't really have a dream, more of an ambition: to restore my clan, and kill a certain man. I don't have hobbies."

"Hmm. Yes. Itachi," she said, frowning. "I will answer the same questions. I like serious, no-nonsense people. I dislike irresponsible people, perverts, and self-absorbed showboaters. My hobbies are reading and training, and my dream is to be recognized as the finest instructor of genin and chuunin this village has ever seen."

Sasuke snorted at that.

"There is one final thing to cover. Despite what you think, you are not wholly out of the academy yet. Instructors are supposed to give a final test – one with a passing rate of only 33 - to determine whether or not you are really ready to be sent out into the world as genin. I disagree with this system. It is bullshit, and I do not tolerate bullshit. If I have a team of ninja, they will learn to be a team, they will be an effective team, and they will become chuunin. Still, you have the choice. You can come with me, and I'll train you until you curse the day you were born. I'll train you until you curse the day I was born. And then I'll keep going until your enemies are the ones cursing your birthdays." She turned away from them. "Or you can run crying back to the academy. Your choice. I'll give you one minute do decide. If you don't want to be a genin, get the hell off this rooftop."

The three genin looked at each other, and remained seated. When the minute passed, she turned around. "Good. You didn't run away." For the first time since they'd met her, she smiled. It was not a reassuring smile. "There are going to be times when you regret this decision. But that's later. You are officially genin of the leaf. Congratulations. Meet at the bridge outside training area 23 tomorrow at dawn. Don't be late."

With that, their new sensei turned and jumped off the roof of the building onto the streets below. By the time Team 7 reached the edge of the building, she was already out of sight.

"That wasn't what I expected at all," muttered Sakura.

"She seems a bit... intense," Naruto said, agreeing.

"She's serious. She'll make us stronger," Sasuke said. He seemed almost eager to start training with the scary lady.

Truth be told, Naruto was a bit frightened of what training was going to be like, but it wasn't all bad. Not once had she looked at him with hate and loathing like the other villagers did. Of course, that was because she was sneering at them for being fresh out of the academy, but Naruto wasn't picky. Acceptance was acceptance. Right?

oooooooo

The next morning three tired genin were standing outside training area 23. The sky was still black, but they felt a generous definition of 'dawn' was the safest with their sensei.

"My parents asked me who my jounin instructor was," Sakura said. "When I told them who was leading our team, they started crying."

"That's not a good sign," Sasuke muttered.

"They said I was growing up too fast. This is the third team Makurayami has taken and the first two passed the chuunin exam as rookies," she finished.

"That's an encouraging sign," Sasuke said with enthusiasm. He'd be that much closer to killing his brother with a good instructor.

Their instructor walked up, emerging from the shadows just as the sky on the horizon turned a shade that could – with charity – be construed to suggest that the sun might actually rise soon. "Good, you're up," she said, unslinging a bag from her shoulder. It fell to the ground with a noisy thud. "Have you eaten?"

"Yes, sensei," Sakura and Sasuke said in unison. Naruto's stomach growled and he scratched the back of his head nervously.

"Heh heh, I'm not that hungry," he said. "I didn't want to be late, so I skipped breakfast."

"Hmm," Lin said, looking at him. "It's good you picked the team over breakfast. Still, you should eat. It would be bad to run out of energy." She reached into one of the scroll pouches at her belt and withdrew a scroll. She opened it up, revealing a series of squares, each one with a seal in the middle. "Kuchiyose: Ramen no Jutsu," she said, releasing one of the seals. A bowl of hot ramen appeared. Naruto needed no prompting to grab and inhale the hot soup. "Ramen is a source of good, cheap energy. It helps warm you on a cold day, and the salt is good for hot days. I don't recommend it as a steady meal, however. I've heard you have a habit of eating it."

Naruto showed no sign of having heard her, and noisily finished his meal. "Hey! Sensei! You have to teach me how to do that!"

"I'll teach all of you how to do that, once I've trained you up. The technique is adaptable to other items, and it makes life in the field much easier," she said. She looked the trio over. "For the next two weeks, we will be performing one D-class mission a day. The rest of the day will be given over to training. The four of us will eat lunch together. The choice of where to eat lunch will rotate through the team. Any questions?"

They shook their heads. "Then let's start off with conditioning. My old teammate Maito Gai believes in weight training as well, but he and I have different philosophies as to what it's good for. Everybody take a vest, a pair of bracers, and a pair of leg weights."

The genin each put on their weights and tested them out, Sasuke going so far as to try a few taijutsu exercises. "These aren't too heavy," Naruto said.

"Speak for yourself, Naruto," Sakura said. Sure, they weren't super heavy, but she was definitely going to feel it if they did any exercises at all.

"Are you all set?" their instructor asked. "Yes? Then let's go. Try to keep up."

"How far are we running?" Naruto asked as they started to follow her.

She looked back over her shoulder and glared. "You'll find out when I stop, fool! In the field, your enemy isn't going to tell you how far he plans to flee. So run until you don't need to run anymore!"

"I was just asking a question," Naruto grumbled to his teammates.

Minutes turned to an hour and their sensei hadn't even slowed, keeping up a steady lope as they ran around Konoha seemingly at random. They'd been led up hills and through mud, and even took to the rooftops for a while, jumping from building to building. Sakura was rapidly getting winded, with sweat pouring down her face as she gasped and wheezed. The combination of weight and distance was straining her. Sasuke was getting a bit winded, too. Only Naruto seemed unaffected by their run. Finally, their sensei ran back to the training area they'd set out from and stopped.

"We drink, and then we continue with training," she said, pulling out a different scroll and unsealing some canteens. "Drink, drink," she ordered them, forcefully handing them each a container before drinking from her own."

Sakura immediately took a gulp and then stopped in surprise. "It's not water, it's lemonade," she said, pleasantly surprised.

"Lemonade has sugar to replenish the energy you lost running, and the lemons prevent you from getting sick, which can happen if you drink ice cold water too fast after a long run," she said, then raised her voice. "Everything I do, I do for a reason! Remember that! It is the first lesson I'm teaching you. Be prepared to fight and you've half won already!"

"Hnn," Sasuke grunted, looking thoughtfully at the lemonade before finishing it off.

"When you're finished with that, we're doing jumping exercises," their sensei said.

"Jumping exercises?" Naruto asked, wiping his mouth off with his sleeve.

"They're pretty simple. Sakura, go behind those bushes and get the boxes I left over there."

"Why do-" she began to grumble before seeing the look on Makurayami-sensei's face. "I'm going, I'm going!"

"Can I help her?" Naruto asked eagerly.

"No. For asking, do fifty pushups."

"Heh, dobe," Sasuke said. smirking.

"No insulting your teammates. You get fifty pushups. And Naruto?" Lin said, looking at her loudest student.

"Yeah?" he said, doing pushups.

"I don't hear you counting. Start over, and count out loud. You too, Sasuke."

"Arrrgh!" Naruto said, dropping to the ground and banging his head against the ground in aggravation.

"Was that 'Ichi'?" Lin asked, smirking. On the other side, Sasuke began loudly calling out numbers.

"Uh, no," Naruto said, and began counting out loud.

Sakura finished dragging the heavy boxes over. There were ten, and each one was about a foot high, and rather heavy. The pink-haired girl sat on one and wiped her forehead. "What's in these boxes?" she asked.

"Concrete," her sensei replied. "They need to be heavy for this training."

"Oh, OK. What's the training like? -sensei?" Sakura said, adding the last on after catching herself?

"That's better," she said. "It's just strength training. We'll wait for the boys to finish before I explain, though."

Soon enough Naruto and Sasuke finished, and Makurayami grabbed one of the boxes. "This is a very simple training exercise for your legs," she said, putting the box in front of her. "You jump as high as possible onto the box, like this." Jumping into the air, she landed squarely in the middle of the box. "Then jump off to the front, then backwards onto the box again, always in the middle. Any time you fall off, you have to stop, pick up your box, and run around this clearing once. When you do the training exercise, don't hesitate, and jump as hard as you can." She demonstrated by jumping onto and off the box rapidly.

Sasuke snorted. "That looks easy," he said. Naruto didn't look impressed, either.

"All right, then, you shouldn't have any problems, right?" She set a timer to thirty minutes. "Go!"

Sasuke began with a smirk, which quickly started going away after a few minutes of relentless jumping. Sakura was the first to fall off her box, and lifted her box for a jog around the clearing. Sasuke followed her a few minutes later, as the endless jumping was beginning to tire his legs out. He joined Sakura on her third trip around the clearing.

Surprisingly, Naruto didn't fall off once.

"You must have the stamina of an ox," their sensei said, impressed. "You two take a break before the second step of the training. Naruto, you get a head start on the second step."

Naruto chuckled, sneaking a quick glance at Sasuke, who angrily looked away. He'd outperformed his rival, in front of Sakura, no less! And his sensei acknowledged him! "Oi, what do I have to do, sensei?" he said eagerly.

"Get another box and stick it on top. If you fall off, carry both around the clearing." While Naruto did that, she picked up another two boxes for her other students. "You two have a few minutes to catch your breath... wimps." she said, smirking.

Unsurprisingly, Sasuke angrily reacted to the taunt by immediately getting up and resuming the training, with Sakura following a few seconds later.

The training continued on like that. Naruto, the stamina freak, managed to keep jumping without a fall all the way up to three boxes. Lin had him jumping four boxes alone while Sasuke and Sakura finished up on three boxes. The final box proved too much for Naruto, who finally had to take a lap carrying four of the heavy boxes.

"Let's get lunch," she said. "Then we'll get our first D-class mission afterwards. Since Naruto performed so well in this training session, he'll get first choice of where to eat lunch. Where are we going?"

"Ichiraku ramen!" Naruto said, the slight exhaustion he'd felt wiped away by the thoughts of fresh ramen.

"All right, then. To the ramen stand, at the run. Up! Up! Get going!" she ordered, dragging Sakura to her feet. Sasuke followed, still glaring at Naruto.

The first team lunch didn't feature a lot of conversation; Lin was not a talkative type, Naruto was too busy eating, Sasuke was too busy glaring, and Sakura was too wiped out. In fact, other than ordering meals, the meal passed in silence until Sakura finished her first bowl and pushed it away. "Another bowl for Haruno-san," Lin ordered, not looking up from her meal.

"I'm not hungry, sensei," Sakura said, lying her head on the table.

"I don't care. You've exercised too much for one bowl of ramen. The only question is... will you eat it yourself, or do I force-feed you in front of your teammates and the employees here?"

Sakura met her teacher's eyes and found no threat there - just a promise. "I'll eat, I'll eat!" she said, taking the new bowl and eating it mechanically.

"Naruto, you've eaten enough," Lin said, turning to the boy in question. A stack of empty bowls was in front of him, and he was finishing off another.

"I'm still hungry," Naruto protested.

"Whatever," she said dismissively. "I want you and Sasuke to go get a D-class mission at the Hokage's tower. I'll pay for the food."

"A mission!" Naruto said, cheering. "What are you waiting for, Sasuke? Let's go!"

"Hnn," Sasuke said noncommittally.

"Meet us in front of the Yamanaka flower shop," she ordered.

The two headed out. As soon as they were beyond earshot, Lin turned to her remaining student. "Follow me," she said, slapping Sakura on the shoulder.

"Umm, ok," Sakura said, putting her now-empty bowl down silently.

Lin lead her through Konoha before leaning against a building across the street from the flower shop. "Speak freely. You must have a lot on your mind."

"Isn't this training too hard?" Sakura whined.

"No," she said, shaking her head. She looked Sakura in the eye. "Hard training and easy missions is much better than easy training and hard missions. Look," she said, nodding towards the shop. "Isn't that girl your rival?"

Sakura looked. Sure enough, Ino was in the shop, looking happy, and not looking like she'd trained half to death. "Yeah. Why isn't she with her team?"

"Well, most teams do that test I told you about. She must have passed, and has nothing else to do for the day. But even if she doesn't, she isn't taking things seriously." She turned to Sakura and pulled the leaf headband off her head. "You should. Put it on the right way," she instructed, giving her the headband back..

Clumsily, Sakura tied her forehead protector around her head.

"You should always take being a ninja seriously," Lin said. "I know you think I'm being very hard on you guys, but you need to look at the other jounin before you say that. I know a jounin who trains even harder than I do, and has been giving his team hard training as well. Come to think of it, I should probably introduce you guys to them. It might do for you to have a friend who isn't a rival for Sasuke." Privately, Lin hoped Neji and Sasuke might recognize how much they acted like jerks if they saw their fellow genius, although she probably wasn't that lucky.

"I guess," Sakura said, still tired. "Oh, there's Sasuke!" she said, "and Naruto too," she added with much less enthusiasm.

"Give me the mission scroll," she said, and Sasuke tossed over the scroll. He and Naruto didn't look happy. Probably spent the time glaring at each other. The Uchiha sure was touchy about being upstaged... well, he'd get over it. She smirked, then opened the mission scroll. "It looks like we're walking dogs today," she said. "Alright, let's go!"

Lin watched her team do its tasks with a serene expression. Her teams never complained about D-class missions - they were a welcome break from the hard training. She wondered how many of her former students had ever realized that was one of the purposes of her harsh training regimen. She certainly was chuckling internally at the way the genin weren't doing the usual rookie rush job on the assignment, knowing that they'd be back to the training grounds and the boxes again after this.

Still, they walked back to the training grounds with a spring in their step. Probably from getting paid for the first time, she thought. "All right, then. Had a nice break?" she said.

"Yes, sensei," the three replied.

"Guess what? We're not jumping over boxes this time," she announced. She watched the reactions of her team. Sure enough, Sakura brightened up visibly, Naruto almost looked disappointed, and Sasuke looked wary.

"Are we going to be carrying them around the clearing?" he asked carefully.

"No. We're just going to be standing on top of them. Make two piles of five boxes each," she ordered. The three genin stacked up the boxes, then looked at her. "Watch closely," she ordered, then placed one foot on the side of the boxes, and then another. She then turned to them. "This is a very basic chakra control exercise. I want each of you to pick one of the sides and stick yourself to the boxes with your chakra." She hopped back down. "Now, get started!"

Sakura was the surprise of the group, learning how to stand on the side almost immediately. Once she was satisfied that Sakura could stand on the side for a few minutes, Lin nodded, gave her a thumbs up, and went on to the next of her students. "Hmm, Sasuke, you're emitting a bit too unevenly - the instability it causes is what's making you lose your grip. Try gripping with chakra at the edges of your foot, instead of all the way across." She watched him adjust his technique. "Yes, like that," she said.

Then she walked over to Naruto, who kept falling off. She smacked her face with her palm. "Naruto, your chakra control is horrible," she said, sighing. "You've got the right idea, but your raw control is nonexistent... just keep trying." She turned around to the stack Sakura and Sasuke were on. "You two, keep practicing stepping on and off of the stack for a few minutes. That'll be all for you tonight. I'll need to get Naruto up to speed on chakra control."

"I guess the box drill was luck, dobe," Sasuke said, smirking.

"50 pushups, Sasuke, and count them off."

Sasuke growled angrily and began counting off pushups.

Naruto looked up at his teacher hopefully. She shook her head. "Just keep trying what you're doing for a bit," she said.

When Sasuke was finished, she dismissed them. "Can I borrow a box?" Sasuke asked casually.

"Bring it back tomorrow," Lin said.

"I'll help you carry a second box, Sasuke," Sakura offered, picking up another box.

"Hnn," Sasuke said. "OK." No way was he letting Naruto beat him in anything.

Once they left Lin turned to her remaining student. "Your chakra control is horrible," she said. Naruto frowned. "Don't frown, I have a way for you to fix it," she said. "You know kage bunshin, right?"

"Yeah!"

"Make three bunshin," she ordered.

Naruto made a seal and three bunshin popped into existence. "I want each of you to stand on one of the sides of the stacks."

"And?" Naruto asked. That couldn't be it, right?

Lin smiled, and performed the same hand seal. Three copies of herself popped into existence. "Well, I want you to do exactly as I say. This way we can pack four times the training in."

"Oh," Naruto said, and redoubled his effort.

oooooooo

Disclaimer: Naruto does not belong to me. Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto, Shonen Jump, and Viz Media. I don't own any of the characters, concepts, or settings within the story except for Makurayami Lin.

oooooooo

Author's Notes: I haven't abandoned Fate, I just haven't written much. I hope to get chapter 17 out someday.

This fic basically is written to satisfy my frustration at how incompetent the Naruto jounin seem to be. The genin almost might as well have no teacher at all.