Chapter III: O f S e c o n d C h a n c e s

-x-

Dreams are the eraser dust I blow off my page.
They fade into the emptiness, another dark gray day.
Dreams are only memories of the plans I had back then.
Dreams are eraser dust and now I use a pen.

-x-

A certain white-haired Godfather really deserves to be castrated sometime soon, fumed a rather irate blonde as he rushed his way over various Konoha rooftops in order to cut his travel time shorter. He knew that the intentions were in the right place, but when the damn Pervy Sage had turned off the twelve-year-old's alarm clock, the bastard hadn't had the forethought that just maybe the action could possibly make the soon-to-be Gennin just a little bit late to the Team Assignments that morning. A little meaning two hours, of course.

It goes without saying that the boy was very surprised when he entered Iruka-sensei's classroom and found only two occupants at the desks.

"Good morning—Na-Naruto?" The usually charming, melodious tone had a certain sharp shrill to it as a pink-haired banshee flew onto the blonde, claws flying. "Do youknowhow late you are? IDIOT!"

"Sakura! Calm down! Ow—just let me explain! OW! Don't pull my hair!"

Once Naruto had effectively disentangled himself from the seething pink-ette, he took a few minutes to rearrange his appearance, purposefully ignoring the amused gaze from the other darker haired boy currently situated by the room's only window. "God, Sakura… did you really have to fly off the handle like that? I know girls are crazy but…" Smartly, he decided to fall silent once he saw the warning in her emerald eyes; he had already learned that particular lesson thanks to a certain Shigure Suien. "Okay, okay, I got it. Sorry I'm late, truly! Though, I'm guessing we're all on the same team?"

Haruno Sakura patted down her dark pink skirt, flattening the wrinkled lines caused by her assault on the blonde. "Yes Naruto, apparently we're Team Seven. Which you would have known if you had been here this morning." Her glaring eyes narrowed. "But it seems our Sensei has decided to be even later than a certain Blonde is on a very important day. Honestly Naruto, how air-headed are you to oversleep on a day like this?"

"Oi! Why do you think I overslept? Maybe I was out training intensely since sunrise and I just lost track of time?"

"…You're still in your pajamas stupid." A blush rose on his tanned cheeks as he looked down, realizing he actually was still in his ensemble of orange sweats and matching button-up top.

"Well, would you look at that?"

"Oh, I give up!" He just laughed at the girl's annoyed response to his flippant tone. Sighing resigned, Sakura crossed the classroom, seating herself at a desk near the raven-haired Uchiha Sasuke. "Sasuke-kun! Can't you try knocking some sense into him?"

"Hn."

"Oh wow Sasuke, you're right! I've really learned the error of my ways thanks to the almighty Uchiha-sama! Oh Sasuke-kun! Thank you for opening my eyes to the light with you oh-so-inspiring grunt!" Even Sakura couldn't prevent a snort at the exaggerated display of flailing arms and mock tears – before realizing exactly what she had done. Eyes wide, she glanced at her crush before turning towards the blonde with a large frown marring her refined features.

"Naruto, don't tease Sasuke like that! He didn't do anything to you!" Naruto just rolled his eyes at the lame retort.

"Sakura-chan, I know you're like, in love with the brick, but honestly. What good is he besides a good laugh?" Because in all honestly, the Bastard's reaction was always so very hilarious. Not that anyone else saw the true beauty of getting under the stoic boy's skin—besides Inuzuka Kiba, of course. It was disappointing to see that his comment actually hadn't warranted a reaction; Sasuke just turned back to the window, acting as pretentious as ever, and his admirer relaxed in her seat, sending the blonde a sharp look when he opened his mouth to provoke once again.

Aw, damn. The bastard had actually won that round.

Heaving an exaggerated sigh, Naruto turned to examine the room. It was painfully unassuming: white walls, dark wooden floors with matching mahogany teacher's desk. The blonde wandered behind the usually off-limits piece of furniture—not that he had ever paid any attention to that specific boundary. Iruka-sensei had been at the brunt of many ill-fortunate pranks focusing on that very desk.

At least it was familiar territory that gave the blonde more time to put his thought process into more vindictive outlooks. After all, he'd been attacked because their errant Sensei had set off the pink-ette's temper (he didn't feel the need to cast any blame on himself for her annoyance. It was practically expected from the prankster by this point, after all.) Revenge always took away boredom, too. Double the retribution, triple the pleasure in the blonde's opinion.

A mischievous glint took to his cerulean eyes as he examined the scene in front of him before resting on a single, more subtle object; the black board's eraser that hadn't been clapped clean that morning. Naughty, naughty Iruka-sensei. He really should've learned his lesson by now~! Naruto thought, a grin spreading across his cheeks. The simplicity of the plan that formed instantly in his mind was perfect. After all, who would expect something so inconspicuous from the Village Prankster? With a single clap and sinister rubbing of his hands, the blonde set to work, blissfully unaware of the nervous glances cast by his two classmates.

"Naruto, what—oh for God's sake!" Sakura sputtered as she watched the orange clad boy walk up the wall, gluing his chakra-covered feet to the door frame as he carefully balanced the chalky eraser on top of the door's support structure. "Do you even care about setting a good example for our new Sensei? Really, as if anyone would even fall for that, idiot!" The blonde just stuck out his tongue childishly as he returned his feet to the ground, crossing the room to seat himself on top of the girl's desk.

"Maa~h, I think you're just jealous of me. Poor Sakura-chan. Not everyone can be filled with as much awesomeness as myself!"

"Tch, Dobe."

"What did you say Bastard?"

"Oh, are you deaf now? That certainly explains a few things."

"Well at least I can see that you still haven't pulled that stick out of your ass. Seriously Uke-teme, you need to have that checked out. It can't be healthy!"

Sasuke's pale face contorted, frustration evident in his onyx eyes; which only made Naruto feel more successful. Naruto vs. Sasuke; One–all . His mouth snapped open to give a retort—only to be interrupted by a door opening. Immediately, three pairs of eyes darted to the room's entrance

One set narrowed; onyx evaluating the figure in the door.

Another wide; emerald nervously darting from the doorway to the floor and back again.

The final completely relaxed; cerulean bright with anticipation as he saw the fated object drop from its unsteady resting place.

A single grey eye observed all of this within a few milliseconds, wisely choosing to wait in the hallway a moment longer as the air in front of him rippled with a chalky dust. His smile went unseen as he observed the myriad of reactions; intense disappointment from the room's blonde, relief in the only female, and an attempt at stoicism from the dark haired boy.

"Maa… how can I put this lightly? This team obviously needs a lot of work; you're all idiots." With that highly informative statement, the man just turned and left the room, leaving behind three extremely confused twelve year olds.

-x-

Kakashi has nothing against the three sitting in front of him. No, not a single misplace feeling towards the three children specifically. But Hatake Kakashi had seen many teammates die on him already, and he didn't need this group of brats to be the replacement bunch to do so again.

The Jounin didn't exactly have a good track record with keeping his loved ones alive.

He had been the one, after all, to find his father's crumpled form in their home's Genkan (2), dried scarlet soaking deep into the soiled tatami mats. Of course, he had known of the Hatake disgrace: his father's well-intentioned decision to abandon his mission for the sake of his teammates lives. Even if it meant continuing the war, and abandonment by his very Village and his squad mates.

The eight year old Chuunin awoke that morning to find himself his last remaining family member, his mother having passed away long before his ability to remember even the faintest of details, and Hatake Kakashi was left with the burden of his father's suicide resting on his all too young shoulders. And yet then there had been Minato-sensei. And that idiot Obito. And Rin. The three that helped him throughout his years until the Jounin trials. What an unappreciative bastard he had been.... They were all gone now, picked off by the hands of fate and replaced with three new nuisances for him to acquaint with.

An Uchiha—the last remaining of the clan within the village, although with a personality that would curdle milk.

A citizen-born Kunoichi, who seemed promising in many areas of expertise-with the right guidance.

And here was Sensei's son staring him in the face. A boy that he had purposefully marginalized for twelve long years. What joy.

"So why don't you start off by introducing yourselves? Pinky?" Said girl, Haruno Sakura, jerked stiffly upright at the acknowledgment.

"Introduce ourselves Sensei? L-like how? Could you go first Sensei?" Kakashi tilted his head playfully in mock thought as the poor girl sweated. Oh how fun. He had forgotten how nervous Gennin-to-be's were at the beginning stages.

"Hmm. Hatake Kakashi. There are things I like and things I hate. My thoughts for the future… unimportant. Anything else I just don't feel like telling you." And then the dimly-veiled awkwardness broke as one of the boys—Uzumaki Naruto—snorted in disbelief.

"That told us absolutely nothing—"

"Naruto! Respect!" Sakura hissed under her breath, glancing at him in disbelief.

"Kiss ass."

"What. Did. You. Say?"

"Nice sash? You're looking as lovely as ever today Sakura-chan~"

"As lovely as banter is this time in the afternoon, I really have places to be. So if we could move this along…" Kakashi stared at the two. The girl, who didn't handle audacity well, and the boy, who couldn't handle a seething female. Not that he could blame the blonde, per se. But regardless, good to note. His gaze flickered to the silent member of the trio, who seemed to be ignoring the whole situation.

"Um, I'm Haruno Sakura and I like… ah, flowers. I guess. And my dream is to," she paused, a bright blush staining her pale cheeks. "Um, well, duh and as for my hobbies, I like to ah," she glanced at Sasuke quickly and Naruto coughed into his hand to hold back a snicker. Sakura's eye's darkened. "I enjoy beating up insufferable blondes who don't know their place."

"Ouch Sakura-chan," Naruto whined as she threw a fist towards his head. "I can feel the love radiating like a thousand blistering suns. Oi, Kakashi-sensei! I'm Uzumaki Naruto! Number one most unpredictable village prankster who loves ramen, hates pretentious pricks, is gonna be the Hokage after the old man kicks the bucket... oh, and I train. Beat that Sasuke."

The last boy sat forward. "Uchiha Sasuke. Training. Idiots. Clan revival and performing a specific task you have no need to know. Are we finished with this waste of time?"

Kakashi smiled mirthlessly beneath his mask. Just as I thought… "I think the brick wins! Quick and straight to the point; I like him! But alas, there is one more thing on our agenda. You see, the three of you aren't yet Gennin. There's still one more task for you to perform, which will take place tomorrow." He cackled enthusiastically, procuring three slips of paper from his sleeves. "It's quite a lot of fun really—a dropout rate of sixty-six percent, even!"

"What?" Sakura gasped, her eyebrows scrunching in confusion. Even Sasuke's mask of indifference cracked briefly as he looked to their Sensei in a show of interest. "Then what was the purpose of the exam we just took if we're not already Gennin?"

"That exam only determines viable candidates for the Shinobi teams. The actual test has yet to begin. Just read these, they contain all the information you need. Just one last bit of advice before I leave you—don't eat any breakfast if you can help it. I wouldn't want the three of you heaving it back up. You know, it really is a hassle cleaning the practice fields afterward. Later!"

Kakashi seemingly disappeared in a puff of smoke, but in actuality disguised himself to watch the trio depart on their own. Uchiha Sasuke was the first to trudge off, giving a dull grunt to the other two before making his way on his own, the girl staggering a few steps behind him in question before breaking off with the blonde amiably.

God, it was just so similar. Yet in all the important ways, it wasn't.

So no, Kakashi had nothing against these three of the possible future Team Seven. But the heavens must have something against him. This team will have a lot of work to do...

-x-

Naruto's eyebrow twitched dangerously in annoyance. "You good for nothing lecher… do you know how much time I just wasted looking for you thinking that just this once you'd be using your time, I don't know, maybe doing something worthwhile?" The responding giggles did nothing but further prove his point. "You damned old pervert! I've got an exam to train for and you've got to help meee—"

Jiraiya snorted as he looked down from his peeping spot amongst the tree branches. "Pipe it brat. You know the drill; More Watchy, Less Talky." He gave the blonde a bawdy wink before returning his heavy leer to the scene below his perch—three scantily clad woman oblivious to the perverted old man privy to their bathing session overhead.

"Perrrverrrt~"

"Look Brat. If you think that tiring yourself out the night before a session with Kakashi will put yourself in a better shape to face the Jounin, then that's fine by me. But you don't need my help to do that. If you want my honest opinion—"

"Which I don't."

"And yet you opened the can so you get all the worms. As I was saying, this old man thinks you should kick back, relax, rest those overtaxed shoulders for the night, and enjoy the finer details of the otherworldly wonders that is the female body."

The blonde just rolled his eyes. "And you wonder why you end up a frequent patient at the hospital."

"No, I wonder why I haven't beaten some manners into you. Ever heard of respectin' your elders Blondie? Might come in a bit handy in your future."

Naruto glared at his godfather hotly. "Will you just come down from there already you lecher? Aren't there laws against this or something?"

The white-haired man smirked as he descended from his post, deciding to grant the boy's wish. "Right. Since when have you and laws gotten along? Don't give me that look Brat, I'm just saying. You tend to shit on rules, and they give you the same courtesy."

"And as my guardian you're doing a hell of a job setting an example."

"Damn straight."

"Perrrrverrrrt~"

Jiraiya slugged an arm around the blonde's shoulders, leaning in heavily to whisper into his ear. "Stop pouting Hokage-to-be. I thought you're practically a Gennin now? Geez, you'd think you'd learn some maturity now but nooooo it's 'Pervy Sage this~' or 'Pervy Sage that~' If I put some sustenance in that bottomless pit you call of stomach will you shut your trap and call us even?"

"….yes?"

"Predictable brat. I like the new look by the way—pajama pants really fit the whole 'just rolled out of bed' hairstyle."

"God damnit! I knew I was forgetting something!"

-x-

Six hours. Six fucking hours.

Naruto clutched at his grumbling stomach in annoyance as he let out a petulant moan. "Is this our test? 'Cause this. Is. TORTURE! That bastard might actually be worse than you Bastard—I can't BELIEVE he told us not to EAT. I'm starving to DEATH OVER HERE!"

"NARUTO. If you don't shut your mouth this instant you won't live long enough to know what starving to death feels like."

"Sorry Sakura-chan~!"

"Tch."

Naruto stopped doodling stick figures on the ground long enough to level the other boy with a look. "Aw stuff it Sasuke. Your stomach's louder than Ino on a bad hair day so stop acting all high an' mighty." His own stomach decided then was a good time to make itself known, causing Sasuke to smirk. Naruto didn't have the energy to growl at him, instead focusing on his own pain. "God~! I knew I should've eaten some ramen this morning. Screw rules. Since when have I ever listened to teachers anyways?"

The pink-haired girl glared at the blonde from her seat in the dirt. "Na. Ru. To."

He glared back. "Sa. Kur. Ahhhh~ I'm dying over and you don't care. If I was your precious Sasuke-kun you'd be digging up tree roots or something, trying to keep me from getting too famished!"

"Oh please, that's an exaggeration," Sakura laughed, a quick glance being spared to their raven-haired teammate - who was decidedly ignoring them. No surprise there. "Tree roots wouldn't taste any good—I'd gather some berries or edible foliage idiot. Survival 101."

"NO! I was looking for reassurances not a confirmation! How can I continue knowing that the world is against me~ Woe is the whiskered blonde."

The pink-ette bopped him on the head with a small blush. "Cut the theatrics, okay? It's annoying." He graciously granted her request. He was hungry goddamn it and didn't have the spare energy to waste! And the trio slipped into a silence once again, but it wasn't long before their quiet rapport was interrupted by the appearance of their errant Sensei.

"YOU'RE LATE!" Sakura and Naruto harmonized. Sasuke just gave the silver-haired Jounin a heavy glare.

Kakashi's single visible eye upturned in what seemed to indicate a smile. "Ah, about that; I happened to cross the path of a black cat so I took a different route today. "

"What type of shit are you trying to pull—"

"Naruto!"

The blonde grinned cheekily and rubbed the back of his neck meekly. Kakashi pulled a timer from his bag and set it on a stump. "Shall we begin? Today's goal is simple—the timer will be set to go off at twelve noon. By that time, the three of you will have tried to get these bells away from me," the Jounin lifted two silver bells tied to red string into the air and jingled them a few times in demonstration. "If you can't—you won't have lunch."

"What!" Naruto gasped, scandalized. Sasuke rolled his eyes while Sakura bumped his head lightly.

"Focus, idiot."

"I am bastard – on this travesty of a situation. No lunch? Have you ever heard of such a punishment?"

"Already planning on losing?"

"Boys." Sakura hit both on the head (Sasuke barely a tap, of course.) to get them to focus once again on their waiting Sensei. "Wait Sensei, is that why you told us not to eat breakfast—so that we'd be hungry for lunch?"

Kakashi nodded. "Whoever fails will be tied to a wooden post and made to watch me eat my lunch." His eye upturned gleefully once again. Naruto couldn't hold in a shudder. How does someone do that with only one eye? His attention turned to the objects Kakashi was holding in his hand. The already bright sunlight was already reflecting off of the two silver bells making them even more of a target... wait. Two?

"Sensei, why are there only two bells?" The blonde stared at the bells uncomprehendingly.

"Since one person will have to be tied to the log, that person will have to fail the mission. He—or she—will be going back to the academy. It can be one or all three of you for that matter; it makes no difference to me. To this point, I'll let you know that I've never passed a Gennin team."

"WHAT!"

"Sensei, that's not fair, we all passed the exam—"

Kakashi just shook his head. "As amusing as arguing semantics would be, your time is already ticking away. Choose to waste it however you see fit, just know that the three of you will have to come at me with the sole intent to kill if will have any chance at snatching a bell."

Naruto smirked. Provocation he could handle, this business with passing two members, not so much. There's got to be something I'm missing… Idly he fingered a shuriken in his front pouch; half listening to the Jounin explain the rest of the rules. Not like they actually mattered.

"So if we're ready to begin—"Naruto pounced.

Or more accurately, his clone did. Kakashi's hold on the clone didn't slacken as he felt the sharp impression of a blade at the base of his spine. "Shadow clone? I am impressed, but sadly I didn't say start. Feel free to begin now." The blonde's blade slid through smoke as the Jounin's own bunshin disappeared.

"Aw shit."

Sasuke and Sakura had disappeared into the surrounding foliage upon the start of the exercise, leaving Naruto in the clearing by himself with their Jounin.

"You're not the brightest one, aren't you? When facing a stronger enemy, gaining an advantage should be your main focus."

"And in all honesty, I've already fought a Jounin before. Hiding in a bunch of bushes isn't gaining an advantage—it's just prolonging the inevitable. So come of Kakashi-sensei, let's do this!"

Kakashi just hum'ed softly in contemplation. Of course he remembered Genma's account of his failed Gennin team the previous year—innovative blonde pariah and all. The Jounin smirked as he reached for his pouch, watching the blonde tense in anticipation. "While we do, would you mind if we caught up on my reading?"

Naruto stopped dead in his tracks. No. Noooo. He could have recognized one of those orange covers anywhere. The clandestine woman being fawned over by nosebleeding men… the vibrant green and red Icha Icha Paradise advertising what did NOT need to be advertised.

"NO! You're not—you can't, don't tell me people actually read the Old Pervert's books!"

"You mean this literary masterpiece?"

"DON'T PLAY OBLIVIOUS!"

"I wasn't playing anything; I was just going to read."

"Ah, just shut it. Perverts are all alike—come on! Let's fight!"

Naruto rushed forward, sending three kunai at his teacher's book. Kakashi, his nose buried both figuratively and literally into the text of his perverted sin, easily dodged the projectiles and punches aimed at his face. The blonde Gennin-to-be grimaced at the lewd giggles coming from the Jounin. He just knew his Godfather would be proud.

Were all men really like that? The thought made him give an extra hard slash with the kunai at the offending 'novel.'

"Are you… trying to murder my porn?"

"Yes."

"1000 Years of Pain!"

Oh. Fucking. Hell.

Today was just not a good day for the blonde.

-x-

After Naruto, his ass dragged from the river it had landed in, was somewhat dried, he decided to enact at least some sort of plan. He had, after all, been through something like this once. And thus, he tracked down the lesser of two evils first.

Naruto tapped on Sakura's shoulder casually, causing the focused girl to jump.

"Naruto…? What are you doing? Get the hell away from me before Kakashi-sensei catches us both!"

"Aw," the blonde pouted. "That's so hurtful. Why must we always degrade to insults Sakura-chan?"

"Naruto!"

"M'kay. Okay!" He held up his hands in surrender. "I need your help," he admitted sagely. "As much as it pains me to say this, we need to pass the exam and we have to do it together."

"Together?"

"So skeptical." A frown.

"I'm serious Naruto; you'd better not be wasting my time! Why come to me for my help then? I'm flattered and all—don't get me wrong—but Sasuke-kun is obviously the better choice. He's always been better suited for this life style. I would've thought you'd gone to him instead of me…"

Naruto smiled as he poked the pinkette's head lightly. "Ah, I thought you had brain in that big forehead of yours Sakura-chan?" The blonde had enough sense to duck out of the incoming fist's way, a laugh bubbling from his throat. "Kidding~! Well, that's part of the reason it's a three person test Sakura. Come on, we can't stay here much longer. The pervert'll get suspicious. I'll explain on our way to pick up the bastard."

~x~

Finding Sasuke, as it turned out, was a lot easier than the blonde had foresaw.

"SASUKE-KUN!" Sakura shrieked, her shrill voice reverberating throughout the clearing they'd landed in along with Naruto's own peals of laughter. Sasuke, it seemed, had met his own form of defeat against the silver-haired Jounin and was incapacitated from the neck down in the ground—his scowling face the only visible feature.

"Oh god, this. Is. Just. GREAT!" He gasped, sucking in large quantities of breath. "I really just fucking love our Sensei, ya know? He's a perverted asshole, but it's just totally worth it."

Face, meet Sakura's not-so-lovely fist.

"Just shut up and let's help him Naruto!"

"OW. Damn it woman! Don't you see this actually works better for us? Now the Bastard actually has to listen to our plan." He rubbed his bruising face, crouching down next to the raven-haired teen. "Okay Uchiha-bastard, we have about an hour till lunch and a perverted Sensei with some bells to catch. Sakura has a plan that can actually work if you and I work together. Understand?"

"Hn."

"Translation?"

"Hn: a grunt of begrudged acknowledgment."

"Thanks Sakura-chan~"

"Cork it Blondie. We still need to figure out how exactly we're getting Sasuke-kun out of the ground—"

Sasuke scowled at the two of them. "There is no need—"

"Aw stuff it teme. My ass hurts, you're head deep in the ground, and we're almost out of time—I think it's about time we all swallow our pride and just work together. What can it hurt?" Sasuke glared at Naruto from under his bangs but said nothing, finally giving in with a sigh.

"Tch."

"That'a bastard! Okay, so let's do so Kawarimi no Jutsu and get the prick out so we can pass this test! Dattebayo!"

After a shared glance with Sasuke, Sakura felt it was prudent that Naruto's face be reacquainted with the ground. It was a rather harsh reunion.

-x-

As the sea of orange clad Kage Bunshin swarmed one Hatake Kakashi, the Jounin couldn't help but wonder what the boy's Godfather could have possibly done to ruin such a delightful treasure as he swiped his Icha Icha from another clones' violent reach. It was, while not difficult to protect the book from his vengeful student, surprisingly stimulating since the child's clones' form was simply atrocious. They bombarded him like a pack of Inuzuka dogs' intent on the last biscuit but failed to draw the Jounin's attention from the sudden Chakra spike to his left.

He grappled a clone over his shoulder, ducking beneath the heavy fire stream of a Katon Goukakyuu no Jutsu as the Kage Bunshin took the brunt of Sasuke's sneak attack. So they're actually working together… The tag team didn't let up as the clones and the original Naruto aimed carefully placed punches and kicks at the Jounin's knees while Sasuke played rear guard—sending kunai tearing at the Jounin's elbows and wrist guard. Kakashi felt a small murmur at his side—the faintest whisper of fingertips brushing at the bells tied to his pack and he couldn't help but smile as the third team member made her appearance. …Such brats.

An alarm shrilled throughout the clearing.

"You've. Got. To. Be. KIDDING. ME!" Naruto sputtered as the blonde's shadow clones popped out of existence, his face turning incredulously to the high sun directly overhead. "After all of that…? I even… we were about to… three more seconds! SAKURA-CHAAAAN~ you faiiiiled!"

"Don't blame me for this Naruto! You and Sasuke took too long to get the plan into action! I could have grabbed them if you had given me just a little bit more time, stupid!"

"You're both idiots."

"Eloquent as usual, Sasuke-teme. I don't see what you did besides throw pretty fireworks around and Sakura! I was the one getting my ass handed to me by a Jounin so sorry that it took just a little longer than expected. Hell, I wish I had your part—waiting in the shadows to grab some bells from the pervert's the better end of the stick if you ask me!"

"You should have spoken up sooner then! Sasuke-kun could've handled the combat part if it was too much—"

"No, he couldn't. You know my clones are better suited—"

"Then stop complaining!"

Kakashi rubbed his head in exasperation while listening to the three—or rather, two of his students complain. (Sasuke tended to stand to the side, dropping in his occasional grunt whenever a lull in the argument warranted it.) He wasn't sure if he should just put the three out of their misery and tell them that they actually passed; they had achieved the goal of his test after all, despite the fact that they hadn't acquired the bells. Not that he had ever thought they would anyways.

To reclaim what was left of his sanity, he intervened. "Alright you two—enough of this bickering. Congratulations Team Seven, you three pass."

"What?" Sakura looked at her Sensei with wide eyes. "R-really?"

"Maa, don't act so surprised. The three of you achieved something that very few Gennin teams have been able to; you've worked as a team. You looked 'underneath the underneath' before deducing that something wasn't right with the scenario put before you and then manipulated it into something that you could work with. I'm not saying that you three won't be a hassle to train, but you're significantly better off than any other that I've had to test before."

"Thanks Sensei!"

"Yeah! You know, for a pervert, you're not half-bad~"

"NARUTO."

"PUT YOUR FIST AWAY WOMAN!"

Suddenly, Kakashi remembered there was a reason he hadn't taken on a Gennin team before this bunch. At least the Sasuke wasn't half bad.

"Tch. Idiot."

Previous thought retracted. This team needed a serious lesson on team ethics. And fast.

-x-x-x-x-x-


Genkan: Meaning entranceway or front room in Japanese. An extremely important area of a home in Japan for it sets the mood of the rest of the house.


-x-

-tbc-

-x-

-word count: 5459-

-x-

last edited: 9/04/11

-x-

AN: So, rereading this, I got the vague TeniPuri impressions in here... so fail. So fail. I'm totally not obsessed with that fandom. Nope... not all .

End Notes:

-Curses! : Sometimes I feel this story has too much expletives, but I feel this also needs a maturing process. I have a plan. Hopefully it'll work.

-So I enjoyed this chapter a lot. Sakura is a lot of fun to write, considering I really didn't appreciate her character until much later in the series. I hope you take as much out of it as I do – the relationships between the three will differ from Canon. Drastically.