Naruto – Legacy of the Yondaime Hokage
Chapter 13 – Team Selection, the spy from ROOT
Disclaimer – I don't own Naruto. Naruto is the property Masashi Kishimoto. This is just a story using his characters and I'm not looking to make any money out of this.
"Demon/Inner Sakura" talking/thinking
Warnings – Strong (though not invincibly strong), smart Naruto, Major OOC and possible Lemons (unsure at this point)
Uzumaki Naruto sat up in his bed and let out a rather wide yawn as he stretched his arms into the air. It was a brand new day in the village of Konohagakure no Sato and the sun shone through the window of the apartment, highlighting its untidiness in its golden glow. The floor was practically littered with debris ranging from half-eaten food items to food wrappers and empty ramen cups. Naruto just did not see the point in cleaning out his own apartment since people had come in and messed it up over the years; sometimes in his absence and other times when they were trying to kill him. Heck, he remembered one time two years previously, someone had come in and dumped the contents of their litter bin in the centre of his apartment with a rather cruel graffiti message on the wall in crimson-red spray-paint that read "Rot in the filth where you belong demon-spawn".
However, Naruto had just washed the message off the wall and ignored the extra mess. He was used to it. Years of living alone since he had been thrown out of the orphanage and having no one to set him straight about the lack of cleanliness of his apartment had made him grow accustomed to it, though he knew that it was wrong for his apartment to be in this condition, but still, he made do and knew that if he did clean up, then the villagers would probably just make a mess again, causing him to clean it up again.
"Huh?" he said as he noticed the calendar pinned up on the opposite wall from the window and noticed that the 15th of the month had been circled in red and he suddenly remembered what today was, "The Ninja-Orientation, damn, I almost forgot."
Looking at his clock, he was relieved to realise that he still had plenty of time and so, he swung his legs over the side of his bed and then stood up and walked over to the fridge that he had in the corner of his room to the left of the door. Aside from his bed, his apartment also had a blue fridge, a cooker next to the fridge and a wooden table with a single wooden chair near the centre of the room. In the corner to the right of the door was a wooden cupboard with a set of drawers beside it and a mirror hung on the wall directly above the set of drawers. However, Naruto just made his way over to the fridge and opened the door before taking out a carton of milk and a cup of ramen.
It wasn't long before Naruto was sitting at the table, still in his blue PJs, though he had removed his black and white cap that was shaped like the top of a dog's head, complete with eyes, a nose and two flat teeth that came down at the front.
"So, today's the day, eh?" he said to himself with a chuckle, "Well, I suppose that I can now just chow down now that I'm a ninja."
He knew that he may not be a ninja for long since he was already aware that the real graduation test was administered by the jonin-sensei that would be assigned to his three-man squad and despite his confidence, he secretly feared that he would not pass since he had no idea what the test would be. He knew that each test was different and that it all depended on the jonin-sensei and he knew that they all had different standards. Anyway, taking his chopsticks, he manoeuvred them so that they would grab the noodles all at once and then put them in his mouth before sucking them all up.
Not long after finishing his breakfast, he went over to the cupboard and the set of drawers and saw his hitai-ate neatly sitting atop the set of drawers, though for the time being, he ignored it as he opened the doors to the cupboard to look out a set of clothes. Now, if he hadn't gotten training from Kakashi and if he didn't make any friends, he would have probably had multiple outfits that would all be identical and mostly orange as it was his favourite colour, but orange of so bright that it was not an ideal colour for a ninja to wear. However, ever since he killed the owner of the General Store's brother six years previously and started training with Kakashi and made friends, he had gotten a lot smarter and knew what and what not to wear. Anyway, his loud boisterous nature had just been cries for attention and Naruto knew that if not for Kakashi and his friends, he probably would have become a rather obnoxious idiot who would probably overestimate himself and his abilities and fall easy prey to whatever the jonin sensei had planned.
However, when his eyes fell upon a pair of white trousers and a long-sleeved white shirt, he reached for them. True, they were white and at first glance looked as if they were not suited for shinobi, but Naruto knew that those clothes were special. After the whole incident with Sasuke, which led to Akito trying to get him expelled, which ended in his death when he decided to try and kill him and came close to revealing that he was the Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi's no Yoko four years previously, Naruto remembered that the day after that, Kakashi had taken him to a clothes shop, the Suchiruhanga, which was owned by an old friend of Kakashi's former teammate, Rin as well as a retired kunoichi, Orimono Hagane who specialised in making clothes. These particular clothes were designed in such a way that they would become infused with the wearer's chakra and using the infused chakra, the wearer could rather effectively change the colour of the clothes to whatever colour they wished.
Fortunately for Naruto, Hagane was not with the majority of villagers in believing that he was the Kyuubi in human form, though, thinking back, Naruto knew that back then, he had no idea why he had been so hated and had only found out a few days ago with Mizuki had used him to steel the Fuin no Sho and then revealed the reason why everyone hated him. Anyway, luckily for Naruto, Hagane didn't share the villagers' animosity towards him and even trained him in the Meisai no Jutsu, the jutsu that caused the clothes to change colour. It was a jutsu used for camouflage, which was the main purpose of the outfit. The wearer was meant to use the outfit's colour-changing properties to blend in with the surrounding environment; for example, if they were hidden in tall long grass, then they could make the outfit turn green to blend or in in the desert, they could turn the outfit the colour of the sand. Naruto nodded to himself as he decided that the outfit would be ideal and so quickly got out of his PJs and into the outfit and then tied his hitai-ate round his head with the metal plate over his forehead. He then got into a jutsu stance and started to make hand seals.
"Tori, Tori, Tora," he chanted as he said the name of each individual hand seal and then clapped his hands together as it was also part of the jutsu he was meaning to perform, "Tori, Mi, Meisai no Jutsu – Kasshoku!"
Naruto found himself suddenly engulfed with smoke as the familiar popping sound was heard. However, when the smoke cleared, Naruto smiled once he saw that the outfit he wore had turned brown. Nodding to himself, he decided to experiment some more as it was possible for the wearer to only change the colour of part of the outfit by cutting off the flow of chakra to the part of the outfit that they didn't want to change. However, the biggest drawback to the Meisai no Jutsu was that it took great chakra control and an awful lot of concentration to pull off; especially when cutting of the chakra flow to parts of it. It had taken Naruto the best part of three years before he had been able to master it properly and pull it off as if it were second nature to him and according to Hagane, there were more advanced forms of the Meisai no Jutsu that extended the colour changing to the person's hair and skin, though she had deemed that Naruto was too inexperienced to learn the advanced forms of the jutsu and had told him to get accustomed with what he already knew.
A little while later, Naruto was walking down the street on his way to the Academy as he brushed off the glares of everyone that passed him by. As for the colouring of his outfit, he had made the trousers dark green, the torso of the shirt brown and its sleeves dark blue. Many people noticed him and threw their usual glares at him, but upon noticing his hitai-ate, which symbolised that he was a ninja only caused their glares to intensify since they felt that he had no right to be a ninja and though they would never admit it, they were also somewhat afraid that as a ninja, they could not do what they usually do with him since attacking a ninja was considered a very serious crime.
Anyway, upon approaching a fence, Naruto could not help but notice a huge lump in the fence at that the area where the "lump" was was out of synch with the reach of the fence and there were two groups of fingers poking out from the top of the "lump". The lines in the fence that were supposed to be vertical were horizontal instead, plus the fact that it was coming out in a lump could only mean one thing.
"Konohamaru," Naruto thought with a rather unimpressed expression on his face, "That's even worse than his last attempt at the Kakuremino no Jutsu."
As if on cue, Konohamaru revealed himself as Naruto continued to walk toward him, not really all that bothered as the eight-year-old's antics.
"Prepare to die Naruto," the Sandaime's grandson said as he lunged towards Naruto with a raised fist, but unfortunately for him, his foot caught in the Kakuremino cloak, causing him to trip and fall on his front, but he fortunately placed his hands on the ground, breaking his fall.
This caused Naruto to stop with a rather bored look on his face as he tilted his head slightly.
"Gee, that was a slick move," Konohamaru said looking up at Naruto as he recovered from his fall, "I never saw that one comin', but then again, that's why I respect you as my rival."
"But I didn't do anything," Naruto said, totally nonplussed at how Konohamaru could possibly believe that he had performed some sort of secret jutsu when in fact it was him tripping over the Kakuremino Cloak that stopped him.
However, if Konohamaru heard him, then he had chosen to ignore him as he quickly got to his feet and dropped into the jutsu stance and was ready to perform the hitsuji hand seal.
"Okay Naruto, get ready to fight me," he said as he trembled with excitement, "This is it; this is our greatest battle ever."
"I can't right now, I've got this orientation," Naruto state, still in his bored tone, causing Konohamaru to lean forward and then face-vault.
"Orientation?" Konohamaru said after he'd picked himself up.
"Uh huh, as I told you the last time we met, I've only just become a ninja and now I'm on my way to see which three-man squad I'll be part of," Naruto started to explain, "And then the jonin-sensei will administer a test to see if we truly are ready to become ninja. So, like I told you believe, I could be handing this hitai-ate back in a few days."
"Ouch, major bummer," Konohamaru said with a groan, "Anyway, I hope you make it because if you don't, who will I have to prove myself against?"
Naruto just chuckled at that.
"Don't worry, even if I fail, I'll still try for next year," he said with a smirk, "Nothin's gonna stop me from becoming Hokage. I don't care if I have to take the Graduation Exam a million times over; I'll still find a way to become Hokage, but until then… later Konohamaru."
He then started walking away and Konohamaru watched him go with a look of admiration on his face. It had been a day since the whole incident with Ebisu and Naruto's pep talk and needless to say, Konohamaru was seriously taking it to heart. Naruto was someone he could honestly say he admired. He was grateful to him for getting rid of that annoying nutcase that he had the unfortunate privilege of calling his sensei and speaking of Ebisu, Konohamaru remembered staying after Naruto had left and once the jonin had recovered from the female Narutos' groping, the pain between his legs had caused him to limp away and he remembered how Ebisu complained of phantom sensations of the pain after he recovered whenever he thought about that incident.
Meanwhile, Haruno Sakura was currently in her room dressed in a pair of blue sandals, dark green shorts with bandages tied round her upper right leg and a red short-sleeved Chinese style dress with white outlining and the O symbol of the Haruno Family on the back and of the two flaps at the front and back near the bottom. The Haruno O symbol also appeared at the sides of the sleeves where the sides of the shoulders were the bottom of the O symbols merging with the dress's outline, which was highlighted by an upside-down V design that pointed upwards. Her hitai-ate was tied atop her head in the same manner the red ribbon that Ino had given her had been. She was currently looking herself over in the mirror and applying some finishing touches to her looks. Despite no longer being a fangirl pinning after Uchiha Sasuke, she still prided herself in her looks and also she wanted to give off a look of someone who preferred their looks over their ninja training in the hope that any future opponents she had to face would definitely underestimate her and then she could throw them off-balance more easily. After all, ninja and deception go hand in hand. She then gave herself a wink, indicating that she was satisfied with herself.
"Sakura isn't it time that you get going?" the voice of her mother, Haruno Fuhei came from downstairs.
Sakura groaned at hearing her mother's voice. Ever since she had befriended Naruto six years ago, the relationship between the mother/daughter duo had become rather strained. Even today, Fuhei still hated Naruto for having the Kyuubi inside him, though the pinkette supposed that she could consider herself lucky that her mother didn't disown her like Ino's mother, Shiori did when Ino refused to stay away from Naruto and when Ino's father, Inoichi stood by his daughter and stood up for Naruto, Shiori had gotten a divorce and had moved out. However, unlike Fuhei, Shiori did not have the same fear of being alone that the Haruno matriarch did and Sakura knew that it was because of her mother's fear of being alone, since she had lost her husband in the Kyuubi attack and Sakura was all she had. Nonetheless, the fact that Sakura was friends with the Kyuubi's Jinchuriki had driven a wedge between them.
Now Sakura knew the truth. Naruto was not only the Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi no Yoko, but he was also the Yondaime's son and that knowledge brought a resentment towards the Yondaime; a resentment that the Yondaime had not done more to safeguard Naruto and because of it, Naruto had lived every day of his life wondering if he would survive to see the next sunset and whenever he felt asleep, he would wonder if he'd ever wake up to see the next day as he feared that someone may decide kill him in his sleep. Needless to say, Sakura knew that bringing it up with her mother was pointless. She remembered that her mother had threatened to kill her if she persisted in trying to find out why Naruto was hated so much six years previously and she knew that revealing that she knew the truth and that she was still his friend would undoubtedly push Fuhei over the edge and she knew that her mother would not believe that Naruto was really the Yondaime's son. Her anger would prevent her from seeing the truth and even if she could prove it, she knew that her mother would just go into denial and she also had a sneaking suspicion that even if she did manage to get enough proof to prove all her mother's denial's wrong, Sakura feared that her mother would decide that she didn't care and continue to hate Naruto anyway just because she believed that someone had to suffer for her husband's death.
"I know, I'm on my way out now," she said in response to her mother's statement.
"I'm not a child anymore; I'm a full-fledged ninja now, Shannaro!" Inner Sakura protested furiously as she spoke what Sakura really wanted to say to her mother.
Speaking of her mother, despite the strain on their relationship, Sakura still cared for her deeply. She remembered the previous day when she had gotten home after the Sandaime had gathered her and her friends and revealed the truth behind the Kyuubi attack. She had heard her mother crying when she confronted the elder pinkette on it, she had seen that tears streaming down her mother's face and Fuhei had told her that it was nothing she should worry about and that she didn't want to talk about it. However, it really worried Sakura and she had to wonder if Naruto's prank before the Mizuki incident had gone too far, but she knew better than to ask Fuhei as her mother had been really distraught and the last thing Sakura wanted to do was hurt her mother.
Anyway, putting it to the back of her mind, she walked out the door and started making her way to the front door.
Later, Sakura was walking down the street towards the Academy wondering just what was in store for her now that she had graduated.
"So now that I've graduated, I suppose it means that I'm not a little kid anymore," she mused to herself, ignoring the glares that passers-by shot her due to her known association with Naruto, "Haruno Sakura, Kunoichi Extraordinaire."
She then shook her head, realising that she was getting ahead of herself.
"No… at least not yet," she went on in her thoughts, "I've yet to pass the real graduation test and well… let's face it, I just don't know what my assigned jonin-sensei will do for the real test."
It was true that she was indeed aware of the real test and the possibility that she may have to hand her hitai-ate back if she failed. Naruto had been the one who had told her about the test. His secret trainer, Hatake Kakashi had been assigned a genin team every year and each team that he had been assigned, he failed due to them not meeting his standards. Sakura knew that the graduation test she and the others had passed was meant to determine who had the potential to become ninja and that the real test was to see who was ready to become ninja and who needed more training. Each test was different as it all depended on the jonin-sensei and what standards they wanted to set. Unfortunately for the teams that Kakashi had been assigned, Kakashi himself had far higher standards than any of the other jonin-senseis, though Naruto had refused to tell Sakura and the others what those standards were in case any of them ended up with Kakashi and Sakura had to say that she understood Naruto's reasoning. After all, if they went into the test knowing what their sensei expected, then it may lead to an inaccurate assessment and result in a team passing when they shouldn't have been passed.
"Bye tou-san, I'll see you later," a voice came, bringing Sakura out of her thoughts as she passed a building with a big green rectangular sign with a yellow outline above the entrance and in the rectangular sign was the kanji that read "Hana no Mise", and she knew that this was the Yamanaka Flower Store.
A few moments later, Yamanaka Ino, Sakura's first friend and the second of Naruto's friends emerged and from what Sakura could see, it was clear that she had followed her example in making herself look like a fangirl who prided her looks over her training and if Sakura hadn't known her very well, she would have been convinced that that's what Ino was; a beauty-obsessed fangirl, but thankfully due to their association with Naruto and realising that the boy they had both been obsessed over was nothing but a stuck-up arrogant snob, they both grew out of that phase. Anyway, Ino wore a pair of blue sandals and had bandages wrapped round her upper legs that started halfway between her hips and knees and the bandages extended all the way up to her stomach. She also wore a dark bluish purple skirt that had been cut at the sides and went down to just above her knees and on her upper torso, she wore a short sleeveless vest-like blouse the same colour as her skirt and with a raised collar that was so creased that it could have easily been mistaken for a scarf. On her arms she wore white arm-warmers with purple outlines at the end that went from her wrists to halfway between her elbows and shoulders and her hitai-ate was tied round her waist as if it were a belt and to complete Ino's look, she had her long blonde hair tied in a ponytail at the back and had small silver-ringed earrings hanging from her ears.
"Ohayo Sakura-chan," Ino greeted cheerfully with a friendly chuckle as she noticed her friend waiting for her.
"Ohayo Ino-chan," Sakura greeted with a smile as she started to walk and Ino walked beside her.
"So today's the day we become ninja, huh," Ino said simply.
"Yep, though you have to remember that we're not officially genin yet," Sakura explained with a hint of seriousness, "We'll be grouped into three-man squads and assigned a jonin, who'll be our sensei and he or she will administer the real test to see if we're ready to become ninja. According to Naruto-kun, each jonin is different."
"Yeah, I know," Ino said with a sigh, "Each jonin-sensei assigns a different test as they all have different standards. Well, I'll probably be partnered with Choji and Shikamaru.2
"Huh, what makes you say that?" Sakura asked curiously, "I know that your dads were all teammates, but what makes you so sure that you'll be with Shikamaru and Choji?"
"According to tou-san, the Yamanaka, Nara and Akimichi Clans have always had a rather close-knit relationship with one another," Ino explained with a sigh, "Long ago the heads of the three clans all made a pact to help one another out in accomplishing their missions. In fact, there's a memorial somewhere in the village with our three clans' symbols engraved on it to commemorate this close-knit relationship that we have."
"Gee, I didn't know that," Sakura said in wonder as her curiosity piqued.
"You see these earrings I have on my ears," the blonde-haired girl asked as she pointed to her ears and the pinkette nodded, prompting her to continue, "Well, they were given to me by tou-san. They were given to him by his tou-san, who in turn were given to him by… you get the idea."
"Yeah, so what's so special about them?" Sakura asked curiously.
"Well, each jonin-sensei of the three-man genin squad that the Yamanaka, Nara and Akimichi Clans are a part of has always been a member of the Sandaime's clan, the Sarutobi Clan and it was a member of the Sarutobi Clan that gave the three-man team who made the oath the earrings and we wear them till we become chunin so as not to forget the oath between our clans… it's kinda like it's being whispered into our ears and once we're considered adult by our clans, we return the earrings. Each member of the Sarutobi Clan that leads us gives the latest generation a brand new pair of earrings anyway."
"Wow, I've known you for years, so how come I've never known this until now?" Sakura asked, feeling a bit miffed at the notion that her friend had withheld information from her.
"I never really found out until I graduated and even then, you never asked," Ino responded and Sakura nodded, deciding to just drop the subject.
Meanwhile, at the Academy in one of the classrooms, Naruto sat happily chatting away to Hinata with Shino, Kiba, Shikamaru and Choji standing round about as they waited for Sakura and Ino to arrive.
Hinata was dressed in blue sandals, blue trousers with bandages wrapped round her upper right leg and a light cream-coloured hooded jacket with white fur at the bottom and yellow circles on the sides of the upper sleeves at the sides of Hinata's shoulders and in the circle was a spiralled fire symbol. Hinata also had her hitai-ate tied round her neck.
"So N-Naruto-kun, what's with the clothes?" she asked curiously as she looked him up and down and found his outfit intriguing.
"Oh this outfit, it's a Meisai-fuku," the blonde Jinchuriki explained, "It's a special outfit that goes hand-in-hand with the Meisai no Jutsu."
"Meisai no Jutsu?" Kiba said in a wondrous tone, "Camouflage, right?"
Uh huh," Naruto said and then proceeded to explain how it worked as the others listened.
Kiba wore blue sandals, dark brown trousers with bandages tied round his upper right leg and a grey coat with dark brown feral looking fur at the cuffs of the sleeves and the edge of the hood, which he had over his head His hitai-ate, which was visible underneath the hood was worn in the same manner at Naruto's and he had his puppy, Akamaru inside the jacket with his head popped her at the top where the zipper hadn't been zipped up to the top.
Shino wore blue sandals, dark brown trousers and a light bluish, greyish and greenish jacket with a high-rising collar along with his trademark black circular sunglasses with his hitai-ate worn in the same manner as Naruto and Kiba.
Choji wore blue sandals and had bandages wrapped round his legs. He also wore dark brown shorts with bandages wrapped round his upper right leg over the shorts. He also had light yellowish white t-shirt with the kanji symbol for food in red and surrounded by a red circle at the front and over the t-short he wore a green short-sleeved jacket and also had bandages wrapped round his lower arms from his elbows to where the first joints of his fingers were and each individual finger and its own set of bandages. He also had a white scarf wrapped round his neck and somehow managed to arrange his hitai-ate to look like a set of underwear that he was currently wearing over his head with two tuffs of his hair; one at either side and not only did he look as if he was wearing a set of underwear on top of his head, the tuffs of hair looking a bit like a pair of horns. Like Ino, he also had a set of earrings that were given to him by his father.
Shikamaru wore blue sandals, dark brown trousers with bandages wrapped round his upper right leg, a mesh sleeveless vest with a thick light green outline at the top and a rather small short-sleeved brownish grey waistcoat with the same green outline as the top of his vest. At the sides of the sleeves were dark blue circles with a line running down from the top to the bottom of each circle. He had his hitai-ate tied round his upper left arm and also had a pair of earrings that were given to him by his father. He also had his hair tied at the black, giving a rather short, spiky pony tail that could alternatively be made to represent a small fire.
Anyway, the four boys and one girl continued to listen to Naruto's explanation of the Meisai no Jutsu and how the outfit he wore was essential for the jutsu to work.
"Gee, I never realised that such a jutsu existed," Choji said in awe.
"Well, I didn't invent it," Naruto replied honestly, "It was taught to me by the owner of the Suchiruhanga Clothing Store. She's a retired kunoichi who specialises in that sort of thing."
"So, not everyone in this village's out to kill you, that's good to know," Hinata said with a sigh of happiness; happiness that not everyone Naruto happened to meet decided that they hated him the moment they first laid eyes on him. Either, Naruto's refusal to kill anyone when he stood up for himself was getting through to some of the villagers or not everyone believed that he was the Kyuubi in human form and they those that didn't believe he was the Kyuubi only distanced themselves from him for fear of the masses extending their anger and hatred to them like Sakura, Ino and to a lesser extent, Hinata herself experienced when they first made friends with him.
However, across from the group in the middle row of desks in the classroom in the middle desk at the middle sat the one boy who could easily have ruined the group's good mood and he had half a mind to go over and ruin the mood. Uchiha Sasuke sat with his elbows on the table and his hands clasped in front of his face with his eyes closed. This was his classic brooding pose; the pose he took whenever he was deep in thought and though he still looked cold, calm and calculating; on the inside, he was seething with a raw passionate fury as he listened to Naruto explain the Meisai no Jutsu and how his Meisai-fuku was essential for it. Four years was the last time he and Naruto had their last major conflict and unfortunately for him, it ended in him suffering defeat at the hands of Hyuga Hinata and because of the aftermath of that incident, Sasuke had been told to attend therapy sessions with the Yamanaka Clan. However, all those sessions did was teach him the value of patience and did nothing to dissuade him from his goals. If it had been four years ago, he would have undoubtedly made a move to ruin Naruto's day, but thanks to the patience he had acquired, he knew that now was not a great time to cause a scene. He would kill Naruto and his friends soon enough. He just had to wait for the perfect opportunity.
He wore blue sandals, blue shin guards that ran round his legs with all but the ends wrapped in bandages, light greyish white shorts with bandages wrapped round his upper right leg, a dark blue high-rise collared shirt with short sleeves and the Uchiha crest on the back and a pair of white arm warmers with a blue outline. He wore his hitai-ate in the same manner as Naruto, Kiba and Shino, but on the metal plate of his hitai-ate, he had stuck a sticker of the Uchiha Clan's crest over the village's symbol; making it clear to everyone that that he valued his clan over the village, though even doing this, he still received praise from the villagers who did not see the implications of his actions.
When he first showed off his hitai-ate with the Uchiha crest sticker, some shinobi had attempted to arrest him, but the people stood up for him, much to the ninja's chagrin and what was more, when he was brought before the Village Council, the Civilian Council actually praised him for it and actually preferred the Uchiha crest over the village's symbol, much to the shock and disgust on the Shinobi Council. The villagers were so blinded by their admiration that they were willing to overlook all the wrongs Sasuke had done in the hope that he'd warm up to them and get in his good graces. They actually believed that what he had done was a good thing and all because of their blind admiration. However, after a heated argument, the Sandaime had eventually bowed to pressure just to shut the civilians up and Sasuke felt as if he had won yet another victory.
However, his attention was suddenly diverted back to reality when he heard a horde of female voices; all arguing over who would sit next to him.
"Hey, I was here first, so I'm sitting next to Sasuke-kun," one girl said in a rather aggressive tone.
"Screw you, I was here before you, so I'm sitting next to him," a second girl protested.
"In your dreams, that seat is mine," a third girl argued.
Sasuke did his best to ignore the loud voices of the bickering girls and remaining looking as calm as a cucumber as if nothing was bothering him.
"Annoying fools," he thought to himself, commenting on the girls as he thought back to Naruto and the Meisai no Jutsu; a jutsu that he felt that he should know.
It was why he was seething on the inside. He did not know the Meisai no Jutsu and upon hearing Naruto's explanation, he felt his rage flare as it was clear that Naruto could do something that he could not and the fact that the jutsu required a set of clothes to pull off only added to his fury as he did not have those types of clothes. He wanted those clothes and to learn that jutsu. Knowing what the Meisai no Jutsu entailed, he saw it as a valuable asset for the future. He could easily get the drop on his opponents before they even knew what hit them. However, he knew that Naruto would not teach him the jutsu and so he resolved to find the owner of the Suchiruhanga Clothing Store and force her to teach him. He was an Elite Uchiha and in his mind, that meant that he could just demand to be taught anything and whoever he wanted to teach had no say in the matter. He would force her to teach him, one way or the other. He needed that jutsu… though it was mainly because Naruto could perform a jutsu he could not and in Sasuke's mind, for a non-Uchiha to be good at something an Uchiha wasn't… it was an unpardonable crime and was deserving only of death.
"Just you wait Dobe," he thought as he flashed Naruto a deadly glare, "That jutsu will be mine one way or the other; even if I have to beat the woman to a pulp. I'll make you pay for upstaging the Uchiha."
Meanwhile, in the Hokage's office, Hiruzen sat in front of a congregation of jonin; the jonin that had all been assigned as senseis to the three-man genin teams. On the desk in front of him was a crystal ball that showed what was going on in the classroom that the graduates all currently occupied. Currently, the crystal ball was focussed on Sasuke, who was still in his usual brooding pose.
"That's him, the survivor from the Uchiha Clan," one jonin said, studying him over.
"Yeah, most promising student, Uchiha Sasuke," Kakashi noted as his one visible eye narrowed, "Too bad his attitude's not as great as his grades."
That much was true, despite Sasuke rather rebellious and boisterous attitude towards others, his grades were still among the highest in the class. In fact, despite Naruto's overall improvement since Kakashi started training him, Sasuke held the title, Rookie of the Year, though Kakashi knew that that may have been because Naruto had held back in a few events so as not to anger Sasuke. Kakashi knew of the problems with Sasuke and Naruto. Naruto had told him about Sasuke and needless to say, Kakashi was concerned. Sasuke was a loner and if what Naruto said was correct, then he was possibly plotting on leaving the village so as to acquire more power in order to find and kill his brother. Kakashi had done his own individual assessment of Sasuke in the past and his findings had been rather troubling. The real tests that determined who became genin and who went back to the Academy may be different from jonin-sensei to jonin-sensei, but the underlying meaning was the same; teamwork. Each test was set up so that the three genin would have no choice but to work together in order to pass and many tests were designed in such a way that they would normally pit the three genin against one another and the object of the test was to put aside their differences and work together in order to complete the task. Some tests were easier to pass than others; it all depended on the standards on the jonin-sensei. However, looking at Sasuke, Kakashi could honestly say right here and now that he was destined to fail the test since it was obvious that Sasuke would not want to work with his teammates; viewing them as worthless and even if there was someone stronger than him on the same team, Kakashi knew that Sasuke would view them as more of an obstacle in his way than a teammate. Kakashi had assessed that not only was Sasuke not ready to become a ninja; he should never become a ninja in the first place due to his attitude and to make matters worse, Sasuke had been assigned to Kakashi's team.
"Yes, I understand your concerns Kakashi," Hiruzen said with a sigh, "But the Civilian Council were most insistent that you train Sasuke since you're the only one with a Sharingan and who can teach him how to use it."
"I could honestly care less what the Civilian Council says," Kakashi said in disgust, knowing that the Civilian Council wanted him to pass Sasuke regardless of how poorly he did, "Since when were the Civilian Council allowed to butt their noses in shinobi affairs. This is a purely shinobi affair and has absolutely nothing to do with the civilians."
That was true and normally the Civilian Council kept out of the ninja graduation proceedings as they normally didn't care who passed or failed, but this year was different. This year, the Uchiha Heir had graduated and they definitely wanted to see him pass so that they could continue trying to get in his good graces. They feared that if he failed the real test, then they'd lose favour with him and that he could potentially leave the village. In fact if the Civilian Council had their way, Sasuke would have already passed and would not have to go through the real test. The fact that Sasuke had to be subjected to the same treatment as everyone else definitely annoyed them and so they had given Kakashi explicit instructions to pass him anyway and as for his two teammates, he was to ignore them and concentrate only on Sasuke.
"Like I have any intentions of carrying out their outrageous wishes," he thought with a sneer underneath his mask, "The kunoichi assigned to my team's no better and I know next to nothing about the third."
Hiruzen sighed as he shook his head. The Civilian Council were definitely giving him a headache recently. Not only were they pressuring him into allowing Sasuke to pass regardless of his attitude, they were also unhappy that Naruto had finally graduated as well. They hated the fact that the "demon-spawn" was now a ninja since they knew that he was effectively out of their grasp since he was a shinobi and the Civilian Council had no authority over the village's shinobi. In the past, it had been rather easy for them to target Naruto since he was not a shinobi and technically a civilian, which had put him in their sights. Now that Naruto was a shinobi, the Civilian Council knew that it would be much harder to try and do away with him. What Hiruzen feared was that the Civilian Council may decide to try and goad Naruto into attacking them as he knew that the only time that the Civilian Council could get involved with shinobi affairs was when a civilian was involved and he believed that they may get people to harass Naruto and provoke them into attacking them so that they could get rid of him.
"Not while I'm around," he thought as he started making plans to counter the Civilian Council and rein them in.
The crystal ball moved to a boy standing at the back of the class who was leaning against the wall and had his right foot on the wall as well. The boy in question had rather pale looking skin with ink-black eyes and jet-black hair. Instead of the usual dark blue coloured sandals, he wore dark grey sandals, dark grey trousers with the usual bandages wrapped round his upper right leg and the trousers had a white waistband with a black stripe running between the ends. On his upper body he wore a dark grey midriff shirt with a high collar at the back and a jacket that was a darker shade of grey than his shirt with red straps over his shoulders. However what was unusual about this jacket was that the right sleeve was a long sleeve, down to the boy's wrist and the left sleeve was a shot sleeve the same length as the short sleeves from a t-shirt. He also wore black gloves with the finger holes from the index and thumb fingers missing and had a backpack and a tip-less tanto mounted on his back. His hitai-ate, which was dark grey instead on the usual dark blue was tied round his head in the same manner as Naruto, Kiba, Shino and Sasuke had theirs.
"So that's Danzo's ROOT agent, the one assigned to keep an eye on Sasuke, eh," the Sandaime thought as he raised an eyebrow, "I never thought for one moment that Danzo and I would ever agree on anything, though I am worried about Itachi's reprisal should anything happen to Sasuke. Danzo, I hope you're not planning on having Sasuke killed. If Sasuke dies, then you know what Itachi will do if he believes that you're involved in it."
Hiruzen had not forgotten Itachi's threat to Danzo about going public with his mission and selling of all the village's secrets that he knew of to their enemies if Danzo harmed Sasuke and what was more, Itachi had received his blessing to do so, though he had only done it so as he could get his revenge on Danzo and his two former teammates for forcing him into the position where he had no other choice, but to order the Uchiha Clan's extermination. If it had been up to him, he would have continued trying to negotiate with Fugaku, but unfortunately, he had been overruled. It was a decision that he regretted even to this day; especially since he could see what was becoming of Sasuke and knew that Itachi's plan had worked too well and even though he would not admit it, he was rather tempted to let Danzo have his way and have Sasuke eliminated, but he remembered how Itachi had begged him to protect and not let anything bad happen to Sasuke.
"Easier said than done," he thought to himself, "Itachi, I hope you somehow come to realise the monster that you've potentially unleashed. I'll continue with you wishes for the time being, but I honestly don't know just how long I can go on like this."
Taking a brief glance back at the boy that he had identified as Danzo's spy and noticing the rather stoic, emotionless look on his face, he nodded as he came to a decision.
"Alright then, I'll let you have your way for now Danzo," he thought with a nod, "However, when it comes to espionage; two can play at that game."
Back in the classroom, Sakura and Ino had just arrived and noticed Naruto and the others.
"Ohayo minna," Sakura and Ino both greeted in unison as they waved to them.
"Ohayo Sakura-chan, Ino-chan," Naruto greeted as he waved back at them.
"Ohayo," everyone else greeted.
Sakura and Ino both blushed and then turned to face one another and then nodded.
"Hey movie it freak!" a familiar voice came and Ino suddenly felt someone place their hand on her back and violently shoved her forward.
It was then that Ino realised that she and Sakura were still standing in the doorway of the classroom, but it almost immediately didn't matter as she stumbled forwards and slipped, falling right into Sakura, who fell to the floor and as she moved to get up, her lips somehow made contact with the still-disoriented Ino's lips and everyone else in the classroom, who had all turned to see what was going on had widened eyes as they saw the two girls that appeared to be kissing one another. One of the boys actually whistled at the side.
"Oh my," Hinata said; at a loss for words as the familiar sound of a smooch could be heard throughout the classroom since everything had gone quiet.
A few moments later, both girls parted.
"Hey, don't stop!" someone shouted, clearly disappointed, "That's kinda hot!"
The girl that had shoved Ino was none other than Ami, the purple-haired girl, who had terrorised many of her classmates in the past until Naruto had humiliated her, not once, but twice and since then, she had vowed to get her revenge and get back on top. She wore blue sandals, black short that went down to her knees with bandages wrapped round her upper right leg, a grey shirt and a black jacket with chains attached to the chest area underneath the breast pockets. She wore her hitai-ate in the same manner as Naruto, Kiba, Sino and Sasuke.
Upon realising what had just happened, her eyes widened in surprise and disbelief, but then her face almost immediately transformed into a rather cruel and sadistic smile.
"Wow Ino, I always knew you were a freak like everyone else, I just didn't know how you were freak up until now," the cruel purple-haired girl boasted as she turned away from the two girls who had accidentally kissed, "But now I know how you're a freak. You're into other girls."
Ino and Sakura's eyes widened in shock, disbelief and surprise as they realised what had just happened.
"Oh Sakura, I-I-I'm so sorry, I-I…" Ino spluttered as she tried to figure out what to say.
"No need to apologise Ino-chan," Sakura said as she placed a hand on Ino's shoulder and flashed her a smile, "It wasn't your fault."
"Shannaro! Naruto-kun was supposed to be my first kiss, Ami, you're gonna wish that you hadn't done that!" Inner Sakura ranted while punching her fists out in front of her as her outer self and Ino picked themselves up while glaring at Ami.
"Guess that means that you have Whisker-Face all to yourself you white-eyed freak since the other two are too busy with each other," Ami boasted to Hinata, who just glared back at her, remembering that it had been because of this girl that she was finally able to befriend Naruto since Naruto, Sakura and Ino had come to her aid when Ami had decided to target her when Sakura had gained the courage to stand up to her.
"Oh Ami, my dear," Ino's voice came in a rather sinisterly polite tone, causing the purple-haired girl to turn her attention back to Ino and Sakura, who were both looking right at her with sinister grins on their faces, "You do realise…"
"That you're gonna pay for that," Sakura finished as she cracked her knuckles.
Ami gulped as the pinkette and blonde started to advance on her and she could feel their combined killing intent bearing down on her and she had to admit that it scared her and for the first time in perhaps a long time, Ami came to realise that she perhaps made a mistake.
"C-c-c-can't we talk about this?" she pleaded as she waved her hands up in front of her as if waving goodbye.
"You're finished," Sakura said as she cracked her knuckles and then turned her head towards Ino, "Let's get her Ino."
"With pleasure Sakura," Ino said, nodding in agreement.
"Hold on," Ami said, too terrified to move as the two girls got closer.
"Well, at least it's not Naruto," Hiruzen said as everyone in the Hokage's office watched the scene unfold, "Naruto's usually the one responsible for causing so much trouble."
"Why did the two girls have to break apart, that was getting good," one of the jonin complained.
"Pervert," one of the kunoichi present spat in disgust.
"Just who is that girl?" one of the others asked before the first person that spoke could reply.
"Kuroishi Ami," Hiruzen answered simply, "From what I've heard, she had amassed quite a reputation for being a bully until Naruto humiliated her, not once, but twice and that was when all her so-called friends abandoned her and those she normally targeted gained the courage to stand up to her and since then, she's become rather bitter and joined the Uchiha Sasuke club of fangirls."
"Fangirls, the bane of all kunoichi," Kurenai said in disgust as she recalled her own academy experiences in which she came across girls that were more interested in enhancing their looks to impress the boy they had a crush on rather than training, "I sometimes wonder why they're not all expelled. They give us kunoichi a bad name. In fact, the only three in that class I'd say who are worthy of being called true kunoichi are Sakura, Ino and Hinata; the three that have been hanging around Naruto. They're the only three I've seen training in their free time."
"Yes, well, moving on, Ami's a rather special case," Hiruzen said with seriousness in his tone, "She's the only one of the Uchiha's fangirl who has actually trained."
"Really?" Kurenai asked, clearly surprised at this.
"Yes, though I believe she has an ulterior motive," Hiruzen replied with a stern look on his face.
"What could that be?" Kurenai wondered curiously.
"I believe she's trying to use Sasuke as a means of getting her reputation back," Kakashi answered as he looked to see Ino and Sakura beat Ami up, "I've been keeping an eye on her and from what I've seen, she really has it in for Naruto and is looking to Sasuke since he also hates Naruto. Like Hokage-sama said, unlike all the other fangirls, she's the only one who's actually bothered to train. I believe she's preparing herself for a confrontation."
"Yes, I also believe that that is possible," Hiruzen said in agreement with a nod, "Anyway, two years ago, Ami unfortunately lost her parents when the boiler in their house exploded."
"What, you mean, she's an orphan?" Kurenai said as her eyes widened in shock.
"Uh huh, unfortunately the answer is yes," Hiruzen said with a sigh, "Though she miraculously escaped unscathed."
Kakashi nodded as he gave Ami a suspicious glance through the crystal ball and Ino and Sakura continued their assault on her. What the Sandaime said was true. Ami had lost both her parents to an explosion in their house two years ago and Ami was recovered from the wreckage unscathed, but Kakashi just could not help but be suspicious of the circumstances surrounding that incident. He had done a background check on Ami and as it turned out, she never got on well with her parents at all. Looking into the situation, Kakashi had discovered that Ami's parents constantly argued with one another and constantly fought with one another and whenever one of them was angry and the other wasn't around for them to take their anger out on, Ami had become the target of their abuse. Kakashi remembered reading into the reports of ninja being called to the Kuroishi residence to deal with disturbances, but Ami obviously have been too afraid to rant her parents out. It had gone on for years and Kakashi had to wonder if Ami's love of bullying had stemmed from the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her parents. It would indeed make sense. Her parents made her feel like dirt and she had decided to make others feel like dirt as a coping mechanism. From what he discovered, the Kuroishis did indeed treat their daughter as if her birth had been a mistake and he found it convenient that their relationship had started to deteriorate when Mrs Kuroishi had become pregnant, though they didn't start harming Ami right away since he knew that the likelihood of Ami being alive if they harmed her as a baby was relatively small.
Anyway, with this information and looking into the circumstances of their deaths and Ami's so-called miraculous escape, he found that she was totally unhurt and did not look in the least bit shocked. She did try to make everyone believe that she was, but she was a rather poor actress. When in the hospital, it was discovered that not only was she unscathed, she had not suffered from smoke inhalation. Her lungs were completely smoke-free and Kakashi knew that even if she was unhurt physically, she was bound to have suffered from smoke inhalation as the fire burned, which led him to the conclusion that Ami had not been in the house when the explosion occurred. He figured that once the fire had been put out, she must have such into the wreckage and placed herself there. He also recalled that not once did she shed a tear for the deaths of her parents. At their funeral, Ami had looked more bored than anything else and only seemed to be agitated at the fact that the funeral would not end. Several people reported that when the funeral finally did end that Ami had walked away with a smile on her face as if glad that it was over and she did not look in the least bit grief-stricken at the loss of her parents.
"It may just be me, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she may have killed her parents," he thought to himself.
Of course, that was just him. It could be that perhaps the explosion was an accident and Ami had nothing to do with it and that she was just glad that they were dead and that they would not abuse her anymore. Perhaps she had not been present and had played the part of a victim to gain some sympathy, but the explosion had occurred in the dead of night; at a time when it would be unlikely that Ami would be away from the house given her age. Yes, Kakashi was sure that he knew the truth. However, he just didn't have the proof to move against Ami, but that did not bother him in the slightest as he would be able to keep a close eye on Ami from now on.
The image on the crystal ball then moved and focussed on Naruto just as Iruka entered the classroom and everyone got into their seats. One of the jonin present, a woman looked at the image of Naruto in wonder and curiosity.
"So that's Naruto-san, huh?" she mused to herself, "That's Kushina-sama's son?"
A wave of regret suddenly washed over her and she couldn't help but wince.
"I'm so sorry Kushina-sama," she went on as she looked up, "I'm sorry that I was unable to protect him until now."
Back in the classroom, Iruka had come in and almost immediately, Sakura and Ino stopped beating on Ami and took two empty seats next to one another and Ami, who was now covered in bruises with a swollen left eye, had taken the seat next to Sasuke that the fangirls had all been fighting over. Once everyone had quietened down and took their seats, Iruka started talking.
"First off, let me just say to you all; congratulations, as of today, you are all ninja," he explained with his hands behind his back and his right hand holding onto a sheet of paper listing all the three-man squads on it, "To get here, you have faced great trails and hardships, but that's nothing. Compared to what lies ahead, everything you've experienced so far will seem like a walk in the park that experienced ninja can perform in their sleep. Now, you are all genin, low level-level ninja. All the genin will be grouped into three-man squads. Each squad will be led by a jonin, an elite ninja."
"A three-man squad," many of Sasuke's delusional fangirls thought to themselves, hoping that they would get onto the same squad as their crush.
"Terrific," Sasuke thought with a dissatisfied groan, "The last thing I need is two losers slowing me down."
He remembered his vow that once he'd gained enough power, he'd destroy the village due to having to go through therapy with the Yamanaka Clan before going off to hunt down his brother and kill him and then hunt for strong kunoichi to force them into helping rebuild his clan into an army that he'd use to conquer the world and plunge it into eternal chaos. The last thing he wanted was to be lumbered with people he saw as pathetic and weak and even if there was someone stronger than him in the class, the last thing he wanted was for them to get in his way. He thought about Naruto in particular. The last thing he wanted was to be on the same squad as the blonde-haired bane of his existence. He knew that he just would not be able to tolerate being in Naruto's presence for very long without trying to attack him.
"Well, at least one of us will have to be on Sasuke-kun's squad, I wonder who," one fangirl commented to another in a rather smug tone.
"I dunno," the girl she had spoken to replied while flashing her rival a side-glare as if warning her not to push it.
"A three-man squad," Sakura thought with a mixture of excitement and worry; excitement that she may end up on the same squad as Naruto and worry over the possibility of getting onto the same squad as Sasuke, "Please don't make me be on Sasuke-teme's squad; not Sasuke's squad, not Sasuke's squad."
She continued repeating three words over and over in her head as if it was a mantra.
"Shannaro! If I end up on the same squad as that arrogant prick, I'm gonna set you on fire in your sleep Iruka-sensei, Shannaro!" Inner Sakura shouted out at Iruka despite the fact that he could not hear her.
Apparently Ino and Hinata were having similar thoughts since from the looks on their faces, it was clear that they both were repeating similar mantra over and over again and for Sakura and Ino, it only served as a reminder of how they had once been loyal devoted Sasuke-fangirls before they had met Naruto and how through Naruto they had both came to see the real Uchiha Sasuke and not the "Prince Charming Heartthrob" that they had pictured him as.
"Idiotic fangirls," Ino mused to herself as she looked around the classroom and saw many of the girls with looks of anticipation on their faces as they were clearly hoping to get paired on the same team as their "Prince Charming", "If they had even half a brain, they'd realise that they're not in love with him; but rather, they're in love with an image of him that they themselves have created. Handsomeness doesn't necessarily mean kindness."
She let out a snort of disgust as she remembered that she could very well have become one of those annoying girls had it not been for Naruto.
"I just hope I'm on the same squad as Naruto-kun," Hinata thought to herself as she gave Sasuke a stare and then trembled, "I just hope I'm not on his team. I really can't stand him and I'm sure that he hasn't forgotten that humiliating defeat I gave him four years ago."
That much was true, Hinata knew. She knew Sasuke still held a grudge against her for that defeat. She remembered that Sasuke had been trying to pick a fight with Naruto, looking for payback for a beaten that she, Ino and Sakura had dealt him a few days earlier. Sasuke clearly blamed Naruto for it despite the fact that Naruto had not been involved, but that had not mattered to Sasuke. He was obsessed with Naruto due to the fact that Naruto had started to improve in his performance at the Academy and the Uchiha heir felt threatened. Anyway, when Naruto refused to humour him, Sasuke had resorted to taking her hostage in an attempt to goad him into fighting him and needless to say, it had backfired drastically and Hinata had managed to free herself and then retaliate, which ultimately led to Sasuke's defeat. Hinata didn't want to be on the same team as Sasuke because she knew that Sasuke never let go of his grudges and instead hung onto them and used them as fuel for his insane quest for vengeance against his brother and anyone else he believed had wronged him and Hinata knew that she, Naruto and the rest of their friends were on his hit-list.
"Not Sasuke, anyone but Sasuke," Naruto thought to himself, having similar thoughts as Hinata, "We wouldn't last five seconds in each other's presence before we started trying to kill each other."
Looking around, he searched for the classroom for potential teammates. In truth he really didn't care who was on his team; just so long as Sasuke was not one of them. He'd even take those he couldn't stand to be around; just so long as Sasuke was not in his team because the difference between the others and Sasuke was at least Naruto could tolerate them despite the fact he didn't really like them. However, he knew that he would not be able to tolerate Sasuke and he knew that the feeling was mutual. Like he had said, he and Sasuke would undoubtedly be at each other's throats, trying to kill each other in under a minute. However, as he looked around the classroom, he noticed a boy (the same one in the Sandaime's crystal ball) leaning against the wall and realised that he did not recognise him.
"Just who is that?" he thought curiously, "I never saw him at the Graduation Exam."
The boy had a stone-cold stoic and emotionless look on his face and if Naruto didn't know any better, he would have probably mistaken him for a statue. However, something about the boy seemed off to Naruto. He didn't know what it was, though he put it down to the fact that he had a pale skin tone and could easily outdo Shino in terms of stoicism, but there was something about him that just didn't sit well with Naruto. It was like he felt that they boy should not be here and was more skilled that he looked. Anyway, the boy paid him no attention and continued to stare ahead, not once blinking.
"We want each squad to have a balanced set of strength and abilities, so that's how we set them up," Iruka went on with his speech, bringing everyone out of their thoughts and back to reality as he brought his hands to the front and held the sheet in front of him as he started to read, "I will now announce the squads."
And so Iruka started announcing the squads and many of Sasuke's fangirls found themselves disappointed that they were not on the same squad as their crush and let out dissatisfied groans. Many boys also let out similar groans at not being on the same squads as their friends and those who managed to get on the same squad as their friends all cheered.
"Squad Seven," Iruka said, having reached the seventh team, "Santen Sai."
The boy at the back of the class, who had remained motionless all this time finally moved as he raised his hand, indicating that he was the person that Iruka had mentioned.
"Kuroishi Ami," Iruka went on, mentioning Ami's name as the purple haired girl closed her eyes and crossed her index fingers over her middle fingers, clearly hoping that Sasuke would be the last one mentioned.
"And Uchiha Sasuke," Iruka finished.
"YES!" Ami shouted as she jumped out of her seat and thrust her fist into the air, "In your face bitches! I win, Sasuke-kun's all mine!"
Many of Sasuke's other fangirls all turned and glared at Ami as she shot them all a boastful smug look as if she were rubbing the fact that she was on Sasuke's squad in their faces. Some were upset at not being on the same team as their crush and all of them were jealous of Ami since she was on Sasuke's team. However, the fangirls may have issues with one another over their desire to be with Sasuke, but all of them were united in the fact that they all did not like Ami very much. Some of them had been Ami's targets when she was still a bully before Naruto had caused all her so-called friends to deserve her, which in turn gave them the courage and confidence to stand up to her and they still remembered what the cruel purple-haired girl had done to them. Of all the Sasuke-fangirls, Ami had been the most violent on them, willing to assault the others to get what she wanted whereas the rest of them were content just verbally bashing one another. Ami was the only one who was willing to go further and actually attack her rivals. The seat that the fangirls had been fighting over, when Ami had arrived after recovering from the beating that Ino and Sakura had given her, she had just barged her way through the horde vying for the seat, shoving them out of her way and had claimed it for herself and had shot the others a look that dared them to challenge her and needless to say, it was enough to get them to back off. Ami was definitely not like the others. They all feared and resented her something awful for her willingness to use her fists in order to get her way. It was an unspoken rule among the fangirls that they would not use physical violence to try and win Sasuke's affections as they were all too afraid that getting into a fight would spoil their "good" looks. However, Ami had gone and violated that rule and even though, the others were willing to put their differences with Ami aside when it came to cheering Sasuke on to the point where it looked as if Ami was leading them; none of the other girls could really stand her.
"Team Eight," Iruka went on, after recovering from Ami's cheer, "Hyuga Hinata."
"Hai," Hinata said with a nod.
"Inuzuka Kiba," Iruka went on as Kiba let out a laugh with a grin on his first; his way of indicating that Iruka was talking to him, "And Aburame Shino."
Shino just brought his hand up in front of his face and adjusted his glasses slightly in response.
"Oh, so I guess I won't be with Naruto-kun then," Hinata thought as she gave a sigh of disappointment.
She had really hoped that she would be on a team with Naruto and even though she was half-expecting not to be on the same team as Naruto, it still felt rather depressing that she and Naruto were not teammates. She was really hoping against all hope that Naruto would be on her team, but unfortunately, fate had deemed that it was not meant to be.
"Oh well, guess I'll just have to make the most of it," she thought, not all that happy.
"Hey, don't worry Hinata-chan," Naruto said as he noticed her deflated expression, "We're still friends and even though we're not on the same squad, I'll make it up to you somehow."
Hinata could not help but blush at this as Naruto flashed a her a nice, warm smile and she then knew that Naruto would indeed make up for the fact that they were not teammates.
"Arigato Naruto-kun," she whispered to Naruto and Naruto nodded.
"Team Nine," Iruka continued as he read from the list, "Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura,"
"Huh?" Sakura said as her eyes widened in surprise that she was on the same team as Naruto, though she did not rise and let out a loud cheer.
In truth, part of her was glad that she was on the same team as Naruto as he was the boy she was closest to. After all, it had been because of Naruto that she had seen Sasuke for what he really was and he had saved her from Ami when they first met and had been instrumental in helping her build up the courage to stand up to her purple-haired nemesis on her own. She felt that she owed Naruto a lot and could not help but remember how he had been willing to sever his friendship with her just so she could preserve her friendship with Ino back before he had met Ino and he had been terrified that she would reject him, which gave the pinkette insight into how considerate Naruto really was. However, remembering that and seeing Hinata's disappointed expression led to part of her being sad that Naruto was on her team. After all, Hinata and Ino liked him as well and she knew that both had also been hoping that he'd be on their team. Despite what Ino told her earlier about the sacred pact that the Yamanaka, Nara and Akimichi Clans had with one another, she knew that Ino had been hoping that just once, they'd break from the usual tradition and group her with Naruto and she knew that Hinata had admired Naruto for the longest time since he was looked down on with hatred and scorn and yet he refused to give up and strived to prove everyone wrong in their assumptions of him and it reminded the Hyuga Heiress of how her clan had once looked down on her due to her poor performance and compassion and she found herself wishing that she could be like Naruto. In all, Sakura had mixed feelings. Part of her was happy that she was on Naruto's team and part of her was sad that neither Hinata nor Ino were on his team, though she knew that if Hinata or Ino had been on Naruto's team, she would probably feel jealous. After all, she had befriended Naruto first and in her jealousy, she believed that she'd use that fact to justify her dissatisfaction.
"And Kumashiro Satoshi," Iruka finished as a boy with short brown hair and dark brown eyes made a quick wave gesture with his hand to indicate that Iruka was referring to him.
He wore blue sandals, a pair of green trousers with brown stripes looped round the leggings and bandages tied round his upper right leg. He also wore a dark brown t-shirt with a dark green waistcoat over it and had dark grey fingerless gloves with four grey ovular metal plates; one situated over each of his knuckles and coming to coned points in the centre of each plate on his hands. He wore his hitai-ate in the same manner as mostly everyone else, but unlike the others, who had the metal plate over their foreheads, this boy had his hitai-ate's metal plate off to his right side.
"And finally, Team Ten," Iruka said as he continued down the list, "Yamanaka Ino, Nara Shikamaru and Choji Akimichi."
"Wow, I can't believe that Ino called it right," Sakura thought to herself as she remembered Ino telling her that she expected to be paired with Shikamaru and Choji, "And I'll bet that a member of the Sarutobi Clan will be their sensei."
"Those are all the squads," Iruka said with a sigh, glad that he was through with the list as he expected to hear complaints from those who were not happy with their team's setup.
"Hey, Iruka-sensei, just who's that guy in the back," Naruto spoke up as pointed his thumb behind him at the boy at the back, who was still leaning against the wall, "I never saw him at the Graduation Exam, so what's he doing here and just what happened to Keiichi-san? Did this guy bump him off in order to take his place?"
"Well Naruto, to answer your question, no, Keiichi's not dead and Sai did not kill him in order to replace him," Iruka replied, though the boy, Sai remained still and made no acknowledgement that he had heard Naruto and continued to stare ahead, not really looking all that interested in anything in particular, "Keiichi's parents had a stroke of good fortunate and won the local lottery and Keiichi, it seems had a change of heart about his career and pulled out. Fortunately, Sai here, who had been trained privately and had taken the Graduation Exam later than normal happened to be there to replace him , though because of that, he has the lowest scores of all the graduates here and to create a balanced group, we group the student with the best scores with the student with the worst scores."
Sasuke turned to look at Sai and shot him a rather disapproving glare after hearing Iruka's statement about how this stoic boy had the worst scores in the class.
"Hey you, be sure that you stay out of my way!" he called out to Sai and only then his Sai turn his head to face him, though the stare he gave Sasuke was rather blank and lacked any emotion, which only served to anger the Uchiha Heir.
"Hey, hard of hearing or what; in case you didn't hear me, just stay out of my way," he repeated before turning to glare down at Ami, who was sitting off to his right, "And that goes for you as well. I don't need any weaklings slowing me down."
Ami winced at this, looking visibly hurt at Sasuke's comment, but that didn't matter to her. She knew that… or at least in her mind, she believed that Sasuke was only saying that to her because of the fact that he had witnessed Ino and Sakura beating her up after she shoved Ino into Sakura, which caused them to accidentally kiss and she cursed herself for allowing herself to be overpowered by her fear as she knew that it made her look bad in front of Sasuke and she vowed that she would make both Ino and Sakura pay for that. She would have her revenge and she would prove to Sasuke that she was worthy of his affections. Sasuke may view her as weak right now, but she vowed that she would train for the day in which she could prove to Sasuke that she had become strong enough to earn his affections and then together, they would deal with Naruto and his band of freaks and then Ami would regain everything she had lost and then all would be okay.
"After lunch, you'll all meet your new jonin-senseis," Iruka informed the class, "So you're free until then and all I have to say is good luck and class dismissed."
A while later after the newly qualified ninja left the Academy to have their lunch, Naruto and his band of friends all met up outside the Academy Entrance.
"So I guess our teams have all been decided, eh," Kiba said with a smirk, "Well I really can't wait till we get started."
"I hate to burst your bubble Kiba, but we're not officially ninja yet," Naruto pointed out, "Once we meet our senseis, they'll administer the real test to see if we're ready to become ninja. The last exam was to determine which of us could potentially become ninja. Those who fail go back to the Academy."
"Yeah, well there is that," Kiba said with a sigh as his mood deflated, realising that Naruto had a point.
"Well I can honestly say that I already feel sorry for the team who's got Kakashi-niisan as a sensei because not only will they be waiting for hours till he arrives, they also don't have a chance at passing," Naruto stated as he remembered seeing Kakashi fail his many genin teams, "His standards are unfortunately a lot higher than most of the others and of all the teams he's failed, not one of them came close to realising the true nature of his test and a few of them even started fighting amongst themselves and not only does Kakashi-niisan fail them, if their performance is really pathetic in his eyes, he recommends that they be forcibly pulled out of the Academy altogether."
"Man, that's harsh," Kiba said as he flinched at the thought of Kakashi ending the hopes of many of his genin teams of ever becoming ninja and at the same time, hoped that he, Hinata and Shino were not assigned Kakashi.
"Any pointers Naruto-san?" Shino asked in his usual stoic tone, though he genuinely was curious about Kakashi and his test.
Years of people being too freaked out to be near him due to having insects living in his body had caused him to become withdrawn and though making friends had changed him somewhat, he still spoke in the same stoic tone no matter what his mood was. He was very adept at concealing his emotions, though his friends could normally tell his mood due to hanging around with him the past four years.
"Sorry, but I can't say," Naruto said as he shook his head, "The whole purpose of the test is going into it and not knowing what it is. If you knew what you were getting into and what the test was really about, it could lead to an inaccurate assessment that would result in a team passing when they're not ready to become ninja since their knowledge of the test before hand and what was expected could affect their performance."
"Very logical of you Naruto," Shikamaru said with a smirk, "I definitely wouldn't want to know what my sensei had in store for us beforehand. It would spoil it for not only the sensei, but us as well."
"So then, Kiba, Shino and Hinata's in one team, Ino, Shikamaru and Choji in one team and Sakura and I are in a team with a Kumashiro Satoshi," Naruto said as he looked around.
"And Ami gets her wish of being on Sasuke-teme's team along with that Sai character," Sakura added with a sneer as she thought of her old nemesis and former crush, "I can honestly say that they belong together. They're opposite gender version of one another; I can't believe that Ino-chan and I once liked him."
"Yeah, but just what's the deal with that Sai guy anyway?" Ino asked, curious about the stoic black-haired boy that had been in the classroom with them despite not being seen at the Graduation Exam or in any of their classes beforehand for that matter, "Do you honestly think that Iruka was being truthful with what he said about Keiichi having a change of heart after his parents winning the lottery?"
"Who knows, but the thing about Keiichi-san is that he'd do anything for money," Hinata answered with a shrug, "He'd probably even humiliate himself if someone paid him to do so."
Naruto had an unsure look on his face. There was definitely something out of place with Sai and he didn't know why it bothered him. After all, he was not on the same squad as him, so why was he letting it get to him? At first glance, Sai didn't look anything special. However, he just leaned against the wall totally motionless with a blank, stoic look on his face and only made two movements; one to confirm his name when Iruka had mentioned his team placement and the other was when he turned to stare at Sasuke. He had to admit that it was creepy. Sai had not spoken a word in all the time they had been in the classroom; hadn't even uttered a single syllable. Maybe that's what was bothering him, he decided. Maybe it was just Sai's cold, withdrawn and stoic nature. He'd definitely outdo Shino in a contest to see who the most stoic person in the village was and since meeting Shino, Naruto didn't think it was possible to get any more stoic than that, but Sai had come along and proven him wrong. He did wonder about Keiichi and whether or not there was some meaning behind his supposed withdrawal from the ninja program. Even if what Iruka had said about his parents winning the lottery and him withdrawing was true, Naruto found that it was too much of a coincidence that Sai just so happened to be around to replace him. He hadn't heard of anyone getting private training… well he did train with Kakashi for six years ever since he had lashed out and killed in self-defence, but he still had to go through the Academy curriculum just like everyone else. Apparently Sai didn't and had taken the Graduation Exam separately. What was it about Sai that was so special that he managed to get special treatment? Why was he allowed to just turn up after the Graduation Exam and take it?
"Something about him stinks," the blonde-haired Jinchuriki thought, feeling rather troubled, "Though I don't know why I'm letting it get to me. It's not like he's my teammate or anything."
"Anyway, what's the deal with the team setups?" Choji asked curiously.
"Well, Iruka-sensei did say that the teams were set up with striking a balance in mind," Naruto said with a sigh, "I think each team has its own specialty."
"Like what?" Kiba asked curiously.
"Well, you, Hinata and Shino for example," Naruto went on, "With Hinata's Byakugan, Shino's insects and your own dog-like abilities, you'd make a great tracking team and Ino, Shikamaru and Choji's team with Ino's mind jutsu, Shikamaru's shadow jutsu and Choji's body-expansion jutsu would make a great capture and interrogation squad."
"Plus, the Yamanaka, Nara and Akimichi Clans have always been grouped together for generations," Ino added to which Shikamaru and Choji both nodded.
"Though I was hoping to get on a team with Naruto-kun," Hinata mumbled to herself feeling a wave of depression wash over her and only Sakura managed to hear her.
This caused the pinkette to flinch as she remembered that despite being happy that she was on the same squad as Naruto, she was also sad for Hinata and Ino, but the main rule of assigning teams was that they were only allowed to assign one kunoichi per team, though Sakura remembered hearing how one year two kunoichi had been assigned to the same team by mistake because one of them looked so much like a boy that the person assigning the teams assumed that she was a boy and teamed her with a boy and another girl and when this mistake was discovered, it had been decided that it would be overlooked because they believed that rearranging the team assignments would be too much hassle, though Sakura guessed that it was probably because they were just lazy and couldn't be bothered. Anyway, Sakura knew that the fact that she was on Naruto's team could potentially become a flashpoint between her, Ino and Hinata as she would be spending the most time with Naruto while out on missions and she feared that she may lose Ino and Hinata as friends and had visions of them both letting their jealousy get the best of them. With that in mind, Sakura considered that perhaps it would have been better if none of them had been assigned to Naruto's team, but then again, if that had happened, they'd all probably complain, wishing they were on his team and if he had been assigned with another girl, then they would all wonder and worry over the possibility of her stealing him away from them.. Even though it was highly unlikely due to the fact that most of the other girls were diehard Sasuke fangirls and hated him because Sasuke hated him, there was always the possibility that being with Naruto may his female teammate to open her eyes to reality and though such a thing would be welcome, the fear of Naruto being taken from them remained with the pinkette and looking at Ino and Hinata, she knew that they were both having similar thoughts.
"Um… excuse m-me," a new voice came, sounding nervous and a bit fearful, causing everyone to turn their heads round to see the boy that was Naruto and Sakura's teammate, Kumashiro Satoshi, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but since two of you are my teammates, I was hoping that we could use this time to get to know one another."
The group all looked apprehensive about Satoshi as they did not know him all that well and didn't know how he felt about Naruto since most of the other children had followed their parents' example when they told them to stay away from him. Satoshi may very well be one of them and it was clear to Satoshi just by looking at the faces of the group that they did not trust him one bit. Who knows, as soon as his parents found out just who was on his team, they may get him to try and kill Naruto at the first opportunity. After all, the Kumashiro Family did have a seat on the Civilian Council and the group all knew of the Civilian Council's fierce animosity towards Naruto, so having one of their children on the same team as Naruto did not sit too well with them.
"Um, of c-c-course, if you'd rather I'd just get lost, I u-understand," Satoshi stuttered as he turned to leave.
"Hold it," Naruto said, causing the short-haired boy to stop.
"Y-yes, what is it Naruto-san?" he asked curiously.
"Let's get one thing straight right here and now," Sakura said as she shot her teammate a rather stern warning glare, "We don't trust you and we don't like you. However, like you said, we're teammates, so we can't help but be together, so it's unavoidable that we'll get to know you. However, I will say this. If you do anything to Naruto-kun; if you so much as look at him in a way I don't like, I'll make you regret it."
As if to emphasise her point, she started to crack her knuckles
"Yeah and then you'll have to deal with the rest of us as well," Kiba put in as the rest of the group all joined Sakura in giving Satoshi the same glare she was giving him and followed her example in cracking their knuckles, making it clear exactly what await the short-haired boy if he tried anything.
"Are we clear on that?" Sakura said in a tone that suggested that she only expected one answer and Satoshi gulped as he gave the group a clear nod to indicate that he understood.
Meanwhile, Sai was walking back to his apartment while holding a green book with two drawings; one on each side of it. One of the drawings was child's draw of Sai himself and the other was of someone else that he could just vaguely remember; a boy called Shin. He looked down at the book and stared at it for a few moments as a flicker of sadness found its way into his stone cold eyes, but he almost immediately suppressed it as he heard someone rushed up behind him. He immediately dropped the book to the ground and reached for his tanto and spun round as he unsheathed it and brought it up to block a slash from his would-be attacker, who had attacked with an identical tanto.
His attacker had gloves identical to his own, only with all five finger holes and was covered by a green cloak that covered his body from the shoulders downwards. His face was covered by a grey cat like ANBU mask with a frowned expression and two red lines; one at either side running up the mask with three curves above the eyes. He also had spiky dark brown hair that was so dark that it could easily have been mistaken for black.
"Very good, as sharp as ever I see," the man said as he relaxed and withdrew his tanto and Sai did the same, "Remember to never let your guard down."
"Hai, I understand," Sai said, speaking for the first time that day as he sheathed his tanto and his "attacker" did the same, "What is it that you want Hyo-senpai?"
Not far away, Ami was looking for Sasuke, hoping to convince him to allow her to eat with him. After the class was dismissed, Sasuke had stormed out of the classroom and disappeared.
"Sasuke-kun, hew Sasuke-kun, where are you?" she shouted, hoping to get a reply, "Look, I'm sorry about letting those two freaks beat me up earlier, but if you'll just give me a chance, I can prove myself to you! I can become strong! I'm sure that I can be of use to you!"
However she got no reply and as she continued to look for Sasuke, she noticed her other teammate, Sai standing in the shadows just outside an alleyway between two buildings. Normally, she would have just ignored him since she really didn't care about her third teammate; all she was interested in was Sasuke and proving herself worthy of his affections so she could get back everything she believed that Naruto had taken from her. What her third teammate did with his free time was not her concern and she was about to walk away, but she suddenly noticed that Sai was not alone and that the person he seemed to be talking to was an ANBU, who handed him a light yellowish brown envelope and that did pique her curiosity as she wondered just why a genin would be hanging around the ANBU.
"This envelope contains the details of your mission," Sai's "attacker", Hyo said as Sai untied the seal and took the sheet out to read, "These are orders direct from Danzo-sama himself."
After a few seconds, Sai's eyes widened slightly, though it was not in surprise, but rather an acknowledgement that he had read the sheet.
"The future vision that Danzo-sama has for this village all depends on the success of your mission," Hyo went on and then gave Sai a stern stare as he spoke, giving Sai a warning, "Failure will not be tolerated."
"I understand," Sai said with a professional nod.
"Very well then," Hyo said had he brought his hand up in front of him and prepared to perform a hand seal with just one hand, but then noticed the book that Sai had dropped when he "attacked" him.
"You're still hanging onto that?" he asked curiously.
Sai flinched and looked down at the ground as uncertainty and sadness made their way onto his face.
"This is…" Sai started to say.
"In ROOT, you have no name, no emotions," Hyo interrupted as he observed Sai sternly, clearly not happy with his display of emotion.
"No past, no future," Sai went on in a cold stoic tone once he regained his composure, "There is only the mission."
"We are ROOT, we operate underground and in the shadows; invisible to everyone else and we work to protect the tree that is Konoha," Hyo said as he performed a quick gesture with his hand, "Remember that!"
Hyo then disappeared in a puff of smoke leaving Sai alone.
"I understand," he said simply, even though his superior had left.
He then took the sheet in his hand and read it over once more to be sure that the details of his mission were accurate. However, as he turned to leave, he noticed his female teammate walking towards him with a not-so-pleased look on her face.
"Hey, pale-boy, just who the hell was that?" she demanded as she glared at him, "What's a genin like you doing hanging around with those masked ANBU freaks?"
"Ami-san, wasn't it?" Sai said simply in a rather stoic tone.
"Yeah, that's my name," Ami said as she stopped and folded her arms, looking at Sai as if she expected him to answer her.
"Just how much did you hear?" the emotionless boy asked with a hint of seriousness in his tone.
"I couldn't hear what you were saying, but I saw you being handed that envelope," Ami admitted as she eyed the envelope and sheet of paper in Sai's hands, "Just what's on that sheet anyway?"
"That does not concern you, now I suggest that you leave," Sai warned as he gave the purple-haired girl a blank look that held a hint of warning.
"Doesn't concern… just who the hell do you think you are?" Ami said in pure outrage as it was clear that she was not happy at his response, "Do you have any idea who I am?"
"Should I?" Sai asked in genuine curiosity as he raised an eyebrow as he reached behind his back for the hilt of his tanto.
Ami looked ready to blow up right then and there, but in truth, though she wouldn't admit it, the look Sai was giving her was scaring her and alarms bells rang out in her head, telling her that to persist in tormenting Sai would be a bad idea and so, she just let out a rather infuriated sigh as she forced herself to calm down.
"Whatever, fine, keep your crumby secrets for all I care," she said at length, crisscrossing her arms and then throwing them to her sides as if to say "I wash my hands of the whole thing", "You're a freak just like Naruto and his merry band of freaks. I have no idea why you don't hang out with them. You'd fit right in with them, but then again, I don't really care. Just don't get in Sasuke-kun's way like he warned you before and stay out of my way as well and if I so much as see you looking at Sasuke-kun in a way that I don't like, I'll personally kill you myself. Sasuke-kun's mine and I won't allow anyone, not even another boy come between me and him."
She then turned and stormed off as Sai withdrew his hand from his tanto.
"You'll kill me if I make a move or look at Sasuke-san in a way you don't like, huh?" he said once he was sure that the purple-haired girl was out of earshot, "Not if I kill you first. Danzo-sama will have to be informed of this complication."
It was true; Sai was not really a genin. He was really a spy from Danzo's ROOT Division sent to keep an eye on Sasuke. The truth behind Keiichi's withdrawal was that it was all ROOT's doing. Sure, Keiichi and his family were okay and what Iruka had told the others was genuine, but what even he didn't know what that that lottery that Keiichi's parents had won had been rigged by ROOT to ensure that his parents' numbers would be the winning numbers. Keiichi's family was a relatively poor family and his parents could only just barely earn enough to make end's meat and no more. The whole reason Keiichi applied to become a ninja in the first place was so he could help work his family out of poverty, which was why he had been willing to do things for money. However, after his parents won the lottery and became a whole lot richer, Keiichi no longer needed to become a ninja and so dropped out. The story of how Sai had been tutored privately and had taken the Graduation Exam afterwards had been a cover story. Santen Sai wasn't even his real name. The name he had been given was just a codename he'd been assigned to help identify him.
Thinking back, Sai could not remember what his real name was. He had been orphaned at a relatively young age… he could not even remember how or when he'd been orphaned or even how he'd come to be recruited by ROOT. All he remembered was his time in ROOT and like all members of ROOT, he had been trained to kill his emotions due to the fact that many of the things ROOT were involved in was considered unethical and immoral by many, but deemed necessary by Danzo. Sai could vaguely remember a boy he knew called Shin, but the details of their relationship and what they did together were hazy and he couldn't remember them. However, he did know that Shin was dead, though he couldn't remember how he had died, but whenever he thought of Shin, he could not help but feel sad and believed that the book he had been carrying was something of a memento of him. Even though he couldn't remember if it was a memento or not, he still treated it as if it was a memento regardless. In ROOT the recruitment process involved tough training in order to force the trainees to kill their emotions to prevent their consciences from getting in the way of their missions. New recruits were normally grouped together in pairs and made to bond with one another and then then after a while, they would take one final test to see whether or not they were cut out to be in ROOT and this test involved the recruits that had been paired together to be pitted against one another in a fight to the death in order to get them to suppress all their emotions; including their sense of personal attachment to others since they may be required to kill potential loved ones to fulfil their mission or if their loved ones found out what they were doing, they would undoubtedly be appalled and probably abandon them. This test was to ensure that ROOT members were not swayed by their loved ones, but then again, Danzo normally went after orphans who had no one left who cared for them to minimise the possibility of this happening and the test was also to ensure that they didn't develop personal attachments to anyone while working undercover. Sai honestly did not remember when he had taken the ROOT Graduation Exam, but he had to wonder if he had been paired with Shin and if so, it would mean that he had probably killed Shin to get into ROOT and if that was true, Sai could not help but shudder at that despite the fact that he was unsure if he did kill Shin or not and hoped that he didn't kill him.
"On with the mission," he said as he shook his head and placed those thoughts to the back of his mind, "My mission is to keep an eye on Uchiha Sasuke and eliminate him at the first opportunity if he shows signs of betraying Konoha, though Hyo-senpai and I were careless and were seen by my other teammate. Oh well, I'll report this to Danzo-sama before taking any action concerning Ami-san."
He would report this to Danzo before dealing with Ami. As a member of ROOT, he was not to do anything that involved anything outside his mission unless ordered to. Members of ROOT only did what they were ordered to do and if they wanted to do something on their own, they had to have permission from Danzo himself to do so. Ami could be a potential factor in his mission, but he nonetheless decided to await orders from Danzo on what to do about her should she prove to be a hindrance to his mission after he reported this incident The reason why ROOT never did anything outside their orders was to reduce the chances of drawing unwanted attention upon themselves and their organisation. Officially ROOT was disbanded and no longer existed, but due to the majority of their members remaining loyal to Danzo after the Sandaime had disbanded it, ROOT continued to operate in secrecy and the last thing Danzo needed was for the public to become aware of his organisation's continued existence. Danzo was no fool. He knew that if ROOT's continued existence were to be made public, it would undoubtedly cause outrage and panic as he believed that many of Konoha's citizens would not understand his motives.
Suchiruhanga – The Steel Clothes
Hana no Mise – Flower Store
Meisai-fuku – Camouflage Clothes
Tanto – Short Sword (issued to ANBU ROOT members to distinguish them from regular ANBU members)
Meisai no Jutsu – Camouflage Technique
Meisai no Jutsu – Kasshoku – Camouflage Technique – Brown
Tori – Bird (hand seal)
Tora – Tiger (hand seal)
Mi – Snake/Serpent (hand seal)
Hitsuji – Ram (hand seal)
Ohayo – Good Morning
Arigato – Thank You
Minna – Everyone
Santen – Three Points (Sai's fake family name)
Senpai – Senior
Author's notes – After two years and two months, I'm back with this fic once again. Sorry for the really, really, really long delay, but a combination or writer's block, computer problems from the end of April 2010 to September of the same year, my mind wondering to other things and a lack of motivation were all to blame. My old computer finally packed in in September 2010 and I had to get a new one, but even then I still had my mind wondering and a lack of motivation. The good thing about this hiatus though is that the manga's progressed so far and we've learned an awful lot since then, like Kushina being the previous Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi and that "Madara" wasn't the real Madara, but someone else entirely and more recently that the Kyuubi's real name in Kurama as well as Kabuto's backstory. I will try to fit all this into the fic and work round what contradicts the manga without retconning it. After all this is an AU fic. Anyway I hope you've all enjoyed the chapter and to give you all a taster; Orimono in Japanese means Fabric and Hagane in Japanese means Steel and the name Orimono Hagane (remember in Japanese the family name comes first) means Fabric of Steel (which I believe goes hand in hand with the name of her store, which is Japanese for The Steel Clothes) and as Sai's fake surname, Santen suggests, it means three points and a Sai is a fork like weapon with three points (Rafael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wields them as weapons). Anyway, team selections was hard for me. I always intended for Kiba, Shino and Hinata and Ino, Shikamaru and Choji to be in their cannon teams, but I was unsure how I wanted Naruto and Sakura to go. I considered having Sakura put on a team with two OCs with an OC sensei and have Naruto as a one-man team with a sensei of his own, I decided that it was too much like the fic, Neo Yondaime Hokage and I'd have three OCs to deal with (Sakura's two teammates and their sensei), but I finally decided on this arrangement on having Naruto and Sakura together (don't think for one minute that this means that this is a Naruto/Sakura fic. As the summery says, this is a Naruto/Sakura/Ino/Hinata fic, which means that once Naruto is done with his missions, he'll spend his time afterwards with Hinata or Ino and Sakura spending time with the girl who's not with Naruto). Naruto, Sakura and Satoshi's sensei will be an OC (I know you probably won't like this setup, but please bear with me). Satoshi and the OC sensei (whom I will introduce next chapter) will have somewhat important roles to play, but I will try to keep them out of Mary Sue territory. Anyway, as for the arrangement of Sasuke's team and the bit where Ami caused Sakura and Ino to kiss… those were always planned and I tweaked Sai's backstory a bit with his past concerning Shin. In cannon, he suppressed his memories of Shin, but in episode 35 of Shippuden when he stared at the sketchbook, I'm convinced he remembered at least something, so here; he was only partially successful in suppressing his memories of Shin.