"It's your fault we're late!"
"MY fault?! I'm not the dense one who misplaced his practice gi a few minutes before it was time to go to class!"
"It was an honest mistake! Loads of people do it all the time! Besides, if you hadn't taken your sweet time making me do last minute reviews, it wouldn't have happened!"
"We have two tests today and unlike you I want to pass. Especially since Ni-sama knows I'm in Naruto-sensei's class!"
They ran as fast as their legs could carry them through the partially empty hall of the academy as if demons were on their tails in a desperate mad dash to reach their class. Renji clutched his schoolbag and practice sword in one hand while the other held Rukia's arm in a vice-like grip, practically dragging the poor girl behind him, to make sure she kept up with him since he had longer legs. Ignoring her complaints about how he was about to pull her arm off Renji made a sharp right turn down the hall his classroom was. They were already running late as it was and while he usually didn't care about getting to class on time, this year things would be different. What made this year so much more special than the others was the fact that Uzumaki Naruto was his sensei.
From what Renji heard through the grape-vine to what he knew from reading history scrolls in the library, Naruto-sensei was, despite his laid-back, carefree attitude, insanely strong. As in Zaraki Kenpachi strong. As in he-could-snap-your-spine-like-a-twig-if-you-piss-him-off kind of strong. And he was also known to many in the academy as the Jodan-zuki no Seireitei (Joker of Seireitei) because if he didn't like you, you annoyed him, or if you disrespected him you could expect something like your dorm room painted neon pink with red heart-shaped poka-dots the next day.
It had been three weeks so far into the new school year and nothing happened yet. But somehow Renji got a sinking suspicion something was going to happen soon.
The two panted heavily as they slid to a stop in front of their homeroom door. The door almost flew out of its frame when the redhead opened it. The two were promptly drenched from head to toe when a bucket of ice water fell on their heads. Rukia let out a startled, angry squeal while Renji gave a very unmanly gasping squeak. Not a moment the dowsing the two were showered by a dusting of white powder, flour.
The childhood friends groaned despairingly. The class burst into laughter. Naruto himself snickered in amusement.
The two Shinigami-in-training looked up moodily to the grinning blond, who the entire time had been sitting cross legged with his hands tucked together in his sleeves on his desk. The light pouring in from the windows shadowed Naruto's face but still caught his glasses, making them shine and glint ominously, as he gave the two one of his more creepy smiles. With his unusually enlarged canines showing, the smile gave him the added effect of malevolence "I despise tardiness. The next time you're late," he began; the room seemed to suddenly grow darker somehow. The pair gulped nervously. "I'll use glue and feathers… maybe some itching powder too. I'll make you walk the halls all day looking like a pair chickens." His demonic smile then brightened in childish cheer as he pointed to the room's supply closet. "The mops and towels are in there, clean up, take a seat and then we'll prepare for today's written test. I don't want to fall behind schedule so you better hurry up. After that we'll all head out to the dojo for you first Zanjutsu practical exam."
Renji and Rukia scrambled to retrieve the proper cleaning equipment.
The sudden 180 in his attitude switched so fast it was a wonder how he didn't get an emotional whiplash. Most of the students were beginning to wonder if the blond was bi-polar.
Rukia studied her opponent carefully, looking for any weaknesses she could exploit, as she brandished her sword. Her adversary was barely paying attention to her. And what was worse was that he was using only one hand! It bugged the hell out of the young Kuchiki that the one she was fighting thought so little of her swordsmanship. He wasn't even pointing his sword at her as he stood opposite to her in an almost relaxed way. She lunged forward, letting out a battle cry as she swung her sword in a downward slash. There was a sharp reverberating CLANK as steel met steel. Rukia grunted as she pushed her sword forward only to find she was barely gaining three inches. It may not have been a lot, but it was something to be happy about. Not long ago Rukia could barely get a few centimeters on her current sparing partner and now she was beginning to gain some more ground. It meant all her extra training was paying off; she was becoming stronger. Rukia didn't let her happiness be seen on her face. That would show the beginnings of cockiness and arrogance, something her opponent hated. Cockiness, he always said, was the number one killer for any young, untried shinigami. He loathed it with such fervor he would usually beat it harshly out of whoever he saw it in during their spars.
Many learned quickly to reign and hide their emotions in front of him very, very quickly after the first few people he made examples out of.
Naruto raised an eyebrow with a small smirk before he pushed the dark haired girl off his sword, throwing her back several feet. The blond looked over his glasses as he gave her a more interested look. She was getting better in her Zanjutsu. Only a few students so far were able to get at least that much ground on him. It wasn't overly great but it was an improvement. Keep in mind that Zanjutsu may not have been the easiest class to start with but with Naruto teaching this and the other courses for this class it made the students hard pressed to pass. If they couldn't pass this particular class they would fail, and failure meant they couldn't become full-fledged Shinigami
The shorter blond smirked and said, "You're getting better. But you need to try a bit harder." Naruto informed. "Remember, the objective of today's practical exam is to cut me at least once within the five minute deadline." This time Naruto said to both Rukia and her surrounding classmates. He then ran his thumb across a shallow cut across his left cheek and then threw glances at the ripped cloth of his once white now red stained practice gi over his right bicep, upper right thigh and four other places; the wounds had long since stopped bleeding and were almost completely closed up but that didn't mean he wasn't annoyed by them. "So far only Ren-kun and Kira-kun have achieved this even if it was through sheer dumb luck. Even little Momo-chan and four others landed hits. I expect a few more passes today."
"Hai, sensei!" the class chorused.
Looking at Rukia once more, Naruto held his sword defensively and said, "Let's continue."
Rukia was already moving as he spoke, aiming to stab the blond's shoulder. Naruto parried the incoming blade, but Rukia pushed on with a horizontal slash towards his midsection to which Naruto jumped back a fair distance away.
'Now is my chance to catch him while he's in mid-air!' Rukia readied herself. 'I'll have to use "It" though.' The dark haired girl leapt after Naruto as soon as his jump came to an apex. She then promptly activated her secret weapon.
Cerulean eyes widened in surprise for a moment before a wide grin spread across Naruto's face. Down below the class were also in a state of shock and were looking all over the place for their vanished classmate. Less than a split second later the sound of clashing steel rang out and everyone looked up. Naruto was had crossed his sword against the young Kuchiki's.
"My, my, you know Shunpo." Naruto stated, still grinning. "I bet Bya-kun taught you this nifty little trick. This game just got a little more interesting."
Rukia furrowed her brow at the casual way her shorter sensei used to address her brother before answering, "Nii-sama did teach me."
Naruto nodded. "Good, don't hold back on me now or I'll have to tell Bya-kun." He said in a taunting sing-song way. "I expect a pass from you, and Bya-kun would expect no less if he actually took the time to teach you Shunpo."
With his words a fierce fire of determination lit up Rukia's blue-violet eyes. The taller girl refused to fail now and risk disappointing her brother. She then disappeared. Within a span of two seconds Rukia had attacked Naruto four times, all of which were neatly dodged with equal speed. Rukia was beginning to grow frustrated as her teacher kept matching her. What was worse was that her reiatsu was beginning to wane because of how many times she was using Shunpo.
Naruto gave the girl a smug look. "You're looking tired. You better hurry. You've got less than two minutes left." He taunted.
Rukia growled before launching a barrage of slashes and forward thrusts with renewed vigor. The two were a blur of motion as they danced around each other.
Not long after her assault Rukia pushed away from the smaller Shinigami, stepping a good ten feet away. She was panting tiredly as she glared at her teacher. As a bead of sweat slid down the side of her cheek was mentally cursing the older blond. 'I just can't catch him, he's too fast. He may even be as fast as Nii-sama is. There's got to be a way to beat him before my time runs out… hm, if I can't catch him, maybe I can outwit him.' With that thought and a plan firmly in mind she began to move.
The blond watched the Kuchiki run towards him, sword poised to strike at him. The younger girl went into the motion of attacking from the right in a downward diagonal slash. Naruto's blue eyes narrowed on suspicion as he watched her move intently, he could see her blade tilting ever so slightly to the left. She was going to try to feint him, he could see it and was ready to parry her. As her sword came down and suddenly changed directions, as he predicted. Naruto threw up his guard for his left to block the feint.
It was however for nothing as Rukia suddenly used Shunpo and was now on his unguarded right side. Rukia let out a battle cry as she thrusted her sword forward.
Naruto resisted the urge to yelp in surprise as he spun away to the side. The blond did however let out a small, annoyed hiss as he put some distance between them.
"Yameru!" He shouted as soon as he saw Rukia prepare a follow through.
The raven haired girl nearly lost her footing as she made a hasty stop. She blinked in question as him; she still kept her guard up, however, and wondered if this might be a ploy to lead her into a trap. All he did was stare at her for a good long moment in appraisal before he nodded to himself. "Naruto-sensei, why have we stopped?" As if to answer her a ringing echoed. Rukia gasped in horrified panic as if the sound was the most terrifying thing she'd ever heard. "No! I didn't…I-I failed…" Rukia stood petrified as the weight of the situation seemed to bare down on her shoulders with a crushing force.
"Time's up, Rukia-chan." The blond adjusted his glasses. "You-"
"Oh, c'mon!" called a voice on the sidelines. Every head in the dojo turned to Renji as the red-head stood in obvious outrage. "You can't fail her! You stopped the match before her time was up! She should get a rematch!"
Several students, Momo and Kira included, added in their voices in agreement.
The former ninja rolled his eyes. "Calm down," he drawled and he flapped at the class. When the class grew louder instead of quieter Naruto's annoyance grew quickly. A vien pulsed at his forehead. "I SAID CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!"
The class went silent almost immediately.
Naruto grumbled to himself before directing a small annoyed glare to the class, bet especially to the pineapple haired red-head. "First off, Abarai-kun, sit down. Second, don't interrupt me when I'm talking. And third, I'm not giving Rukia a rematch because she doesn't need one." When blank stares greeted his words, Naruto sighed in exasperation before lifting his right sword hand. Across the back of his hand was a thin, angry red line just slightly bigger than a paper cut. "She managed to catch my hand during her fake feint. Nobody saw it happen because I turned away." He explained. The Uzumaki 'boy' turned to young noble, who's eyes were wide in stunned disbelief, and said, "Not bad, Rukia-chan, not bad at all. You managed to come up with an impressive attack while under pressure and completed your task. You pass."
The spiky haired Shinigami could see the excited joy building in her eyes but she remained admirably cool faced, with the exception of the tiny smile starting to break though. Rukia bowed respectfully and he returned it before she walked to sit with the rest of the class. "Okay, now that today's little drama is out of the way, who's next?"