Disclaimer: Naruto, Ino, Shikamaru, and anyone else in the Naruto universe don't belong to me.
UZUMAKI NARUTO, GENIN OF TEAM TEN
CHAPTER 1: A SIMPLE CHANGE
Uzumaki Naruto sat on pins and needles. Today was the day of the Genin Exam, an exciting day for most, however more so for Naruto. Clad in his usual attire of a bright orange jumpsuit, he ran a hand through his spiky blonde hair. His deep blue eyes, resembling the most beautiful sapphire, gleamed with anticipation. The boy was sure that this was the year he would graduate. He had always heard that the third time was the charm, so surely this would not be any different. He adjusted the goggles that hung around his forehead, making sure that they were straight. Naruto wasn't sure why, but he felt that he should look his absolute best for today. After all, when one becomes a shinobi of Konohagakure, they represent the entire village. He felt his heart rate begin to rise, when the classroom door opened and the two teachers of the class walked inside, Unimo Iruka and his assistant Mizuki.
Iruka looked about the room, smiling weakly as he spotted Naruto grinning at him. It was a fox-like grin, possibly because of the six whisker-like marks that were on his face, three on each cheek. Iruka rubbed the back of his neck, sighing as he made his way towards the front of the room. He was wearing the typical attire of the Konohagakure shinobi, which consisted of a blue jumpsuit, a green flack vest overtop of it, and a pair of blue shinobi sandals. He had a hitai-ate with the symbol of Konoha tied around his forehead, and a faint scar that went across the bridge of his nose. His brown hair was pulled back, to keep it out of his eyes. Mizuki was dressed much the same. The only exception being that he was not wearing a hitai-ate at the time, and he had long, shoulder length, white hair. The class was whispering and talking amongst themselves as the two Chuunin reached the front of the class. If one listened closely, they could hear it was about the test, wondering just what kind of challenge awaited them. Iruka cleared his throat, gaining the attention of the entire class, but none more so than Naruto.
"Konichiwa, everyone." he greeted. "I'm sure you are all excited today, as you will be taking the exam that will promote you all from ordinary academy students, to Genin and official shinobi of Konoha." The class began to whisper and such with anticipation, but Iruka cleared his throat again, regaining their attention. "Now, for the exam Mizuki and I will call you down one by one into the room behind me. Once there, you will have to perform the Bunshin jutsu, and make two perfect Bunshin."
Once again, the class began to whisper with excitement. Most of the conversations were about how easy this exam was going to be. However, one of the students did not think so and that student was Naruto. The boy's excitement suddenly turned into dread, and he had a sick feeling growing in the pit of his stomach. Out of all the jutsu that Iruka had taught the class, why did it have to be the Bunshin jutsu? It was Naruto's worst skill! He began to rock back and forth in his chair, as one by one Iruka would call a member of the class forward and into the designated room. A moment later, the student would emerge. In their hand would be a shiny new hitai-ate. Just looking at that thing made Naruto lick his lips. He wanted to be a shinobi so bad… He had to be one to obtain his dream! However, he had to conquer the exam first. He felt his heart jump when Mizuki walked back from the back room. In his hands was a clipboard, with a list containing the names of the students in the class. He looked at the list and smiled as he looked back up into the room.
"Uzumaki Naruto!" Mizuki called. "Please come with me."
Naruto nodded, and made his way to the front of the room. As he walked down the stairs, he noticed various students pointing and whispering. His eyes darkened just a bit, but one would not notice this unless they actually took the time to stare deeply into them. He walked past Mizuki, who was holding the door open for the boy and then made his way into the room as well. Iruka seemed to be writing something down, and looked up with a friendly smile as Naruto stepped into the center of the room.
"Alright, Naruto… Are you ready for the exam?" Iruka asked.
"Hai! Bring it on!" Naruto replied while grinning in the process. His smile was foolproof, and impossible to see through. Even though he seemed excited though, he couldn't be more nervous. "This is gonna be a piece of cake, Iruka-sensei!"
"Alright, calm down…" the Chuunin sighed. "Now remember, the exam is to perform the Bunshin jutsu. All you have to do is make two perfect Bunshin, and you pass."
Naruto nodded and began to focus his chakra. He focused his mind on the jutsu, and the image of two perfect copies of himself standing behind him. A puff of smoke exploded in the room. As the smoke cleared, Naruto slowly turned around looking behind himself in anticipation. He was hoping, no praying that the two Bunshin would be behind him and smiling. However, he was let down. There were not two of the clones behind him, but rather only one. It didn't look to good, either. It was pale and sickly, sprawled out on the floor and moaning in pain. His stomach suddenly felt a lot sicker.
"Gomen, Naruto…" Iruka began. "But… You fail."
"Come now, Iruka-san… Couldn't we let him pass?" Mizuki suddenly asked. "I mean, he did technically make one Bunshin…"
Naruto was surprised by Mizuki's sudden urge to stick up for him. He had never truly cared for the man much. Something about him just seemed untrustworthy. Up until this moment, Naruto was pretty sure the man didn't care for him much either. He had never made any attempt to show Naruto that at any rate. Naruto looked a bit hopeful, turning back to Iruka.
"No, Mizuki." Iruka replied. "We can't let him pass if that is the best he can do. He would only be a burden to others… and put himself at risk. He cannot pass."
Naruto felt his heart sink and break into pieces. He didn't wait a single moment as he quickly turned around and ran out of the room and academy all together. Iruka sighed and rose out of his seat, preparing to go after the boy.
"No… I'll go after him." Mizuki said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "I know how it feels… I didn't pass the exam in one try after all. You take continue on with the remaining tests. I'll take care of Naruto."
"Arigato, Mizuki…" Iruka replied.
Meanwhile, Naruto could be found sitting on a lone swing in the academy's school yard. Before stood him several students and their parents. Each of them congratulated their children. They knew that they were loved… They were respected… They had everything that Naruto ever wanted. He was about to hop of the swing and go get something to eat. Ramen sounded really good to him right about now. However, as he began to get off the swing, he noticed two women looking over their shoulders at him and talking to each other.
"Isn't that…" one of them began.
"Hai… I heard he didn't pass this year. That makes it the third time in a row." the other woman said.
"Just as well." the first woman snorted. "Can you imagine if they let someone like HIM become a shinobi?"
Naruto felt a hint of anger rising. He felt like getting off that swing, and letting them know his opinion on the matter. However, as he began to do so, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He slowly looked up, and saw Mizuki smiling at him gently.
"Mizuki-sensei… What are you doing here?" Naruto asked. "Shouldn't you be in the class with Iruka-sensei and the ones who passed?"
"Maybe, but I thought it better to come make sure you were alright." Mizuki replied. He gestured to the grass beside the swing. "May I sit down?"
"Hai." Naruto answered.
"Don't be upset now, Naruto… Iruka-san was only looking out for your best interest." Mizuki explained. "I know it may seem like he's hard on you… But he's only that way because he cares."
"He could've at least given me another chance…" Naruto sighed, looking down at the ground.
"Well… It just so happened he did." Mizuki replied, a slight smirk on his face. Naruto's eyes widened at this, and he looked back up at the Chuunin. "It's true."
"Really? Iruka-sensei said I could have another chance?!" Naruto asked in an overly excited voice. "What is it? What do I have to do?!"
"Now, now… Calm down, Naruto…" Mizuki said quietly. "And I'll tell you all about it…"
Night slowly came to Konoha. The pale moonlight shone down on the village. The streets were empty, not a soul to be seen. Iruka was lying in bed, a frown on his face. He knew Naruto wanted to pass the exam, and he felt sorry for the boy. However, he knew that Naruto just couldn't pass, not without being able to at least do the basics. He sighed and slowly sat up, gazing at the clock on the wall. It was late, a little after midnight and yet the Chuunin just couldn't sleep. He was about to go get some warm tea, to see if that would help, when there was a sudden knock at the door. Iruka wasn't sure who it could possibly be, especially when it was this late. Perhaps it was just Naruto playing a prank on him, wanting to get back for not being able to pass the exam. He climbed out of bed, and walked to the front door. To his surprise, it was not a prank when he opened the door. It wasn't even Naruto. Rather, it was a fellow shinobi of the village… A Jounin to be exact. He had long, red hair that he kept pulled back into a ponytail. He had emerald green eyes, and wore an outfit similar to Iruka's, except the jumpsuit was black instead of blue.
"Haruno Kazuhiko?" Iruka asked. A slight yawn escaped the mouth of the Chuunin. "What are you doing here so late?"
"We have trouble." he replied. "It was Uzumaki…"
Kazuhiko need not say anything else. Within a moment, Iruka had his sandals on, and the two were racing to the Hokage's Tower. It turned out that Naruto had broken into the tower, and taken a scroll from the office of the Sandaime. It wasn't just any scroll though. It was a very valuable one, one that contained many high-level jutsu, and some of them were forbidden too. No one was quite sure how the boy had managed to acquire the scroll. In fact, the old man had refused to go into such details. He simply stressed two things of importance. One was to bring back Naruto and the scroll. The second thing was to do so without harming the boy, and the Sandaime did his best to emphasize this point. Many shinobi seemed to protest this fact. Naruto was a bit of a prankster, and they felt that he was always causing nothing, but trouble for the village. Many had felt that he had gone way too far this time. It only took a glare and a clearing of throat from the old man to silence the protests though. The shinobi gathered around him, and took off into the village to search for Naruto.
Iruka and Kazuhiko quickly made their way through the village. Having taught Naruto and deal with his pranks for most of the boy's academy career, the Chuunin had managed to get a good deal of knowledge on where his hang-outs were. They checked the Hokage Monument, a set of faces sculpted in the likeness of the four Hokage in the village within the mountain that was located on the north end of the village. They checked Naruto's apartment. They even checked his favorite ramen stand. However, not a sign of the boy was to be found. As the two stopped for a moment, Iruka trying to think of where to look next.
"This is ridiculous…" Kazuhiko sighed. "If someone had just taken care of that monster years ago, none of this would have happened…"
"Perhaps… But the Hokage's orders are still orders." Iruka replied.
"Iruka, you can't be defending that thing!" Kazuhiko exclaimed. "You remember what we've lost because of it!"
"That is not the point right now!" Iruka replied. "Look, let's just get back to the search. Maybe we'll do better if we split up."
"Fine…" Kazuhiko sighed. "I'll take the left half of the village, and you take the right."
Iruka nodded and the two then split up. Iruka was feeling mixed feelings at that point, and was now nursing what he felt to be a bit of salt in an old wound. He bit his lip at the thought, but still kept moving. He needed to find Naruto first, and then think later. Suddenly, as he passed the ramen stand again. A thought occurred to him. There was one place in Konoha that no one had probably thought to look in yet, and that was the forest. He quickly ran through the village and to the said area. Iruka kept his eyes peeled as he leapt from tree branch to tree branch. He was hoping to find a sign… a clue… anything in relation to where Naruto's current location might be. Suddenly, he froze as a familiar cry filled the woods.
"Ha! I did it! I finally got it right!" the voice shouted.
"Naruto…" Iruka sighed. He quickly turned in the direction the shout had come from, and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. The Chuunin quickly reached a small clearing, frowning at the sight before him. Naruto was sitting against a tree, breathing heavily. He was dirty, sweaty, and looked like he was going to pass out from exhaustion at any moment. "I finally found you… What are you doing out here?!"
"Konichiwa, Iruka-sensei!" Naruto replied happily. "I've been out here working really hard, and I'm ready to finally pass that exam!"
Iruka's eyes widened as he looked at Naruto closely. The scroll he had taken from the Hokage was opened and sitting in his lap. That's when it fully hit him. This whole time that he and the other shinobi of the village had been searching for the boy, Naruto had been out here in the forest, working on his skills.
"Naruto… What are you doing with that scroll?" Iruka asked.
"Come on, you already know!" Naruto replied. Iruka gave him a curious look. "Remember? You told Mizuki-sensei that if I could get a hold of the scroll from the old man, learn and show you a technique from inside of it, you'd finally let me become a shinobi!"
"Mizuki?" Iruka asked. "He really told you that?"
"Hai!" Naruto cheered. "So, are you ready to see what I learned?!"
Iruka opened his mouth to speak once more, but he never got the chance. He looked out ahead, and saw a mass of kunai flying at the two. The Chuunin quickly shoved Naruto and the scroll out of the way, taking a majority of the attack for himself. Slowly, Naruto and Iruka looked up to see Mizuki chuckling at the sight. He was now wearing his hitai-ate on his head in the style of a bandana. A large shuriken was strapped to his back, and a cold look was in his eyes.
"Naruto…" the Chuunin began. "I don't know how Iruka found you so fast, but we need to hurry. Quickly, give me the scroll."
"The scroll?" Iruka asked. "What use do you have for it, Mizuki."
"Well, you won't be living past tonight… So I guess I can tell you." Mizuki replied. "There's a very powerful technique inside of it… A forbidden one at that… One that hasn't been used in about twelve years."
"You don't mean…" Iruka began with widened eyes. He quickly turned back to Naruto, panic beginning to set in. "Naruto! Whatever you do, don't listen to Mizuki! You can't let him have that scroll!"
"Nani?" Naruto asked in confusion. "Why not?"
"Naruto! Just do what I say and run!" Iruka shouted.
"Now, now… Don't you think the thing has a right to know, Iruka-san?" Mizuki asked with a chuckle. He said the man's name with a hint of venom in his voice. The glare in his eyes got colder as he looked at Naruto. "After all, it does have to do with him."
"Mizuki! Shut up!" Iruka shouted. "Naruto, hurry up and run!"
"No, Naruto!" Mizuki replied. "Listen to what I have to say. I'm sure that you've heard the story in class before… Of how the Yondaime sacrificed himself to save all of Konoha… How he sacrificed himself to kill the nine-tailed fox demon known as Kyuubi, right?"
"H-Hai…" Naruto answered. "But what does that have to do with anything?"
"Naruto, run away!" Iruka shouted.
"What would you do if I told you it was all a lie…" Mizuki began, both he and Naruto seeming to ignore Iruka. Naruto's eyes widened, and Mizuki continued. "You see, on that night our village was bound by a decree. It's one you wouldn't know, or any of the children of the village. This is because of what a dark and terrible secret it is. The Kyuubi was never killed that night… That is because you and it are one and the same… You are in fact the Kyuubi, Naruto."
"Mizuki, that's enough!" Iruka was now pleading.
"I said to shut up, Iruka!" Mizuki shouted. He turned back to Naruto and continued. "Surely you've noticed all the cold glares you get! How none of the adults will let their children near you, and you seem to be despised by all, no matter what you do?! It is because they know what you are, demon! You are the one that took the Yondaime away! You are the one who injured many of our own! You are the one who killed any that would get in your way… Such as Iruka's parents…"
"I said enough, Mizuki!" Iruka shouted.
"Look at that! He's angered! It's at you, demon!" Mizuki shouted at Naruto. He grabbed the large shuriken on his back and smiled. "Even noble Iruka lied to you, Naruto… He hates you too… No one will ever love you… No one will ever accept you!"
The man began to break into laughter as he tossed the shuriken straight at Naruto. The boy didn't move for a moment. He simply looked down at the ground, and then back up. His eyes widened as the shuriken was flying at him. He wanted to move, but his legs wouldn't respond. Naruto quickly closed his eyes, and braced for impact, but that impact never came. Instead, Naruto felt his body get shoved to the ground, and a body resting just above him. He slowly opened his eyes and turned around to see Iruka covering him, and Mizuki's shuriken sitting in his back.
"Naruto… Are you alright?" the Chuunin asked.
"Iruka-sensei… Why? Why did you do that?" Naruto asked.
"Because Mizuki is wrong, Naruto…" Iruka said. "You are not the Kyuubi… You are a boy… And it's taken me this long to realize it… You are alone, and you try so hard to train and strengthen your skills. I have nothing, but respect for you Naruto…"
"That's real sweet…" Mizuki sighed. "I'll make sure to tell everyone your thoughts once you die!"
"Leave him alone!" Naruto suddenly shouted. He crawled out from underneath Iruka, glaring at Mizuki with pure hate in his eyes. "I swear if you come anywhere close to him, I'll kill you!"
"Try your best… DEMON!" Mizuki shouted.
The man rushed forward with a kunai in hand, ready to strike at any moment. However, Naruto simply continued to glare. Iruka once more began to shout for Naruto to run, but once again the blonde ignored him. The Chuunin looked up at the blonde, and gasped as he thought he saw Naruto smirk at him. The blonde raised his hands up, forming a single hand sign. A large cloud of smoke exploded in the area, causing Mizuki to stop in his tracks. The man's eyes widened as a mass amount of what appeared to be Bunshin surrounded the entire area. The real Naruto was still remaining in front of Iruka. He slowly raised his hand, and pointed at Mizuki. The clones all jumped at the man, and before he could blink the man began to be mauled by the army of Naruto Bunshin. Iruka's eyes widened at the sight. Average Bunshin should not be able to actually touch a person like that. Slowly, the man rose to a sitting position, and looked at Naruto carefully. The clones all vanished, leaving Naruto, Iruka, and a pummeled Mizuki as the only ones in the area.
"Naruto… What technique did you just use?" Iruka asked.
"The scroll called it the Kage Bunshin jutsu." Naruto replied quietly. "I thought it would be hard to use, but for some reason it was easier than the normal Bunshin jutsu."
"I see…" Iruka sighed. "Naruto… Come here for a minute. I have something to give you."
The blonde nodded and slowly made his way to Iruka. The Chuunin smiled weakly, telling the blonde to close his eyes for a moment. Naruto looked at him in confusion for a moment, but still did as told. He heard some slight shifting around, and felt the top of his head being messed with some. He then heard Iruka tell him to open his eyes. Naruto once again obeyed. He saw the Chuunin smiling at him, but oddly Iruka's hitai-ate was gone. Naruto then gazed down, and saw his old goggles sitting in the man's hands… And yet, he still felt something resting across his forehead. Naruto slowly reached up, and felt the cold metal on the cloth around it. He smiled slowly, but widely.
"Congratulations, Naruto." Iruka told him. "You pass."
Iruka returned the scroll, and made sure Naruto got home safely. He now believed that he could get some sleep, but sighed as he looked up to the sky just in time to see the sun rising. As much as he wanted to sleep, it would have to wait. There was something else he had to do now, and the Chuunin did not have much time to do it in.
Across the village in the Hokage's Tower, a gathering of various Jounin was starting to take place. In front of them, sitting at his desk was the Sandaime. He too didn't get much sleep from the previous night's events, but he was doing his best to try and put it behind him. For now, he had other things to focus on, such as the assigning of the teams for this year's academy graduates. Normally, he had an instructor from the Shinobi Academy to help him with this, and this year it was planned to be Iruka. However, the old man doubted that the Chuunin would be coming, so he decided to have Kazuhiko take the man's place. It was a little after eight in the morning, and the meeting had yet to begin. Mainly because one of the Jounin scheduled to be there was still missing, one by the name of Hatake Kakashi. He was a Jounin that had a habit of being late, and even worse one of forming excuses for doing so. Finally, about twenty minutes after the meeting was supposed to start, he entered the Sandaime's office.
He had spiky silver hair, which hung slightly at an angle. He wore the standard shinobi attire of the blue jumpsuit and green flack vest. He wore his hitai-ate at an angle, covering his left eye completely. Kakashi also had a mask covering the lower half of his face.
"Gomen…" he said quietly and a bit lazily. "I would have been here sooner, but I took a wrong turn and found myself halfway to Sunagakure…"
"Please, Kakashi…" a female Jounin sighed. She had long, black hair and red eyes. She was wearing a dress that looked like it was made of a bandage like material. Underneath that was a red, one-sleeved shirt. Her hitai-ate was around her forehead. "That's a worse excuse than usual."
"Come now, Kurenai…" Kakashi sighed. "I assure you it's true."
"And I'm the Hokage's daughter…" another male Jounin replied. He wore an outfit just like Kakashi's save for the mask. His sleeves were rolled up though, and he had a cigarette in his mouth. His hitai-ate was tied around his forehead like a bandana. "How about we just forget it this once, and start the meeting already?"
"I agree, Asuma." the Sandaime stated. He sighed, and lit his pipe. Taking a few puffs, he began to look through the papers on his desk. "Now, like every year, it is time to form this year's Genin squads. However, it will be slightly different this year…"
"How so?" Kakashi asked.
"Unlike the usual twenty-seven graduates, only twenty-six passed." Kazuhiko answered. A small smile appeared on his lips as he continued. "Uzumaki did not pass."
"I see…" Kakashi replied. "Well, no matter. I will take the squad with only two students."
"Just so you half less work to do?" Asuma asked. "Not that you ever…"
The man was cut off by the office door opening quickly. Every head turned to see Iruka breathing heavily, walking into the room with one more sheet of paper in his hand. He was still rather sorry looking, with bruises, cuts, and such on him, and it was obvious the man was in pain. However, he still kept moving, walking to the Hokage's desk. Iruka put a paper down on the desk and smiled weakly.
"Gomen… I did not mean to intrude, but… I had to give you this…" Iruka said.
"It is fine, but shouldn't you be resting, Iruka-san?" the Sandaime asked.
"My duty as a shinobi of the village and a teacher at the academy comes first." Iruka answered.
"I see…" the old man chuckled. He picked up the paper and looked it over, his eyes widening in the process. "This is…"
"Correct, Hokage-sama." Iruka replied. "This is the paperwork involving the final graduate for this year… Uzumaki Naruto."
"N-Nani?" Kazuhiko asked. "He failed, Iruka! Remember?"
"He did at first." Iruka answered. "But he mastered a new technique last night during that incident. The Kage Bunshin jutsu to be exact."
"Impossible!" Kazuhiko argued. "There's no way HE could learn that…"
"He can, and he did." the Hokage replied. "I saw the entire scene with my crystal ball. Now that we have the paper work to prove it, there are the correct number of graduates, exactly twenty-seven."
"Fine…" Kazuhiko muttered.
Several of the other Jounin in the room began to grumble and whisper among themselves. The Sandaime gave them a stern stare, however and once he cleared his throat, the talking and such ended.
"Iruka, you may be seated." the old man said. "Now, let's continue on. The first team we shall arrange will be team number seven. I have thought this over, and selected Hatake Kakashi to train this team."
"Hai, Hokage-sama." the said Jounin replied.
"Now then, for this team's first member I have selected Uchiha Sasuke. I feel that you should be able to tailor to his skills the best, seeing as you also posses the Sharingan. Now, as you all know, Uchiha Sasuke not only passed with amazing marks, but also as Rookie of the Year. Now, like always this means that we must put the bottom of the class with the best to balance out the strengths and weaknesses. So, we shall also put Uzumaki Naruto into this team as well. Now, this rounds out the power and skills, but the team also needs a smart mind. After all, a strong mind is needed as well as power. For that reason, I believe that Haruno Sakura will fit this team well."
The sound of a chair falling over could be heard. Eyes shifted over to see Kazuhiko slowly pulling himself to his feet, but a look of pure anger and dread in his eyes. He walked towards the Hokage's desk, and slammed his hand down in anger.
"No. No… No… No… No… NO!" he shouted. "I forbid this, absolutely not! I will not allow you jeopardize my daughter's health, by placing her with… with… that demon!"
"Gomen, Kazuhiko… But that is…" the Sandaime began.
"NO! With all due respects, Hokage-sama, I cannot accept that!" Kazuhiko replied. "That demon showed what a threat he could be! Because of it… we almost lost the scroll, and many powerful jutsu to go with it! If you put that… that thing with my daughter, then I will remove her from this year's selections!"
"He's right, besides he could pose a threat to the Uchiha!" another Jounin shouted.
"We have to protect him! He's the last of the true Sharingan users and of his clan!" another one shouted.
The Hokage sighed and began to rub his temples. This meeting was starting to become a true pain in the ass, and all he really wanted to do was finish up and get some rest. To make matters worse, several of the Jounin in the room were now getting into an uproar, and all of it because Naruto. He sighed, and slowly looked up. The Sandaime knew that this day would finally come, and knew it would be a troublesome one at that. But to think that so many detested Naruto… It was sickening. Suddenly, the sound of a throat clearing could be heard. Everyone turned to see the head of the Akimichi clan walking forward. The large man looked at Kazuhiko with anger in his eyes, and gave a nod.
"If this is so much trouble for all of you… Then switch a member of another team with Naruto." Chouza said.
"I do not think it's such a simple matter, Chouza-san." the Sandaime replied. "These teams are made to be balanced and to bring out the best in each other based on skills and abilities… The only way I could make a change, would be if it was a unanimous decision… And someone willing to make the exchange."
"He can take my son's spot on the team he was going to be on." Chouza said.
"H-Hey, wait a minute there, Chouza." came the voice of one Yamanaka Inoichi. "Are you sure about that? We were always talking about how our dream was for our kids to be on the same team!"
"I know, but this isn't just any kid we're talking about." Chouza said quietly.
"Hai… He's the legacy of our lost friend…" one Nara Shikaku said.
"Right…" Chouza answered. "As such, it should be our duty to make sure he can get the best… And if there is going to be nothing, but regret and anger, then his development as a shinobi will just be stunted, and you know Minato wouldn't like that…"
"You're right…" Inoichi said. "But are you sure you want to do this?"
"Hai… Two of ours together is better than none. I'll take the bullet. It is for Minato and Naruto." Chouza said. The group paused as they felt every eye in the room on them. Chouza gave a nod, and turned back to the Sandaime once more. "Hokage-sama… I ask that you please switch my son, Akimichi Chouji with Uzumaki Naruto."
"I see…" the Sandaime replied. "Haruno, is that decision fine with you?"
"Hai… So long as that demon is no where near Sakura…" Kazuhiko replied.
"And Uchiha will be safe this way too!" a voice shouted, several more agreeing with him.
"Hatake Kakashi, is this alright with you?" the old man asked.
"I'm fine with it." Kakashi replied lazily.
"Then I will now make it official. From this day forward Nara Shikamaru, Yamanaka Ino, and Uzumaki Naruto will be team number ten, trained under Jounin Sarutobi Asuma." the Sandaime began. "And team number seven will be Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Akimichi Chouji, trained under Hatake Kakashi. All those in favor?" Everyone gave a nod. "All those opposed?" Not a word was said. "Good… Then, let us move on…"
Iruka sighed as the meeting began to move on. He felt both a sense of relief and anger. Anger that the village was such a closed-minded place, but relieved that people like Akimichi Chouza, Yamanaka Inoichi, and Nara Shikaku were around… People who could look past old scars, and see someone for what he really was: a boy with a horrible burden. Iruka only hoped that Naruto would be able to get the respect he truly deserved one day, and that the teams would still be successful…