Chapter Five: Team Seven

Naruto awoke in a hospital room. He groaned as he felt a slight soreness in his back still, "Damn, that Dragonfire Jutsu that ANBU guy hit me sure was powerful… Kyuubi-sensei, what gives? Can't you heal this?"

Kyuubi had been awakened from its slumber, and was justifiably angry at its powers being called into question first thing in its morning, "Brat, that jutsu was far more powerful than you realized. And the fact that you were already near chakra exhaustion, including your use of mine, made it that much harder to heal. You ARE healed, but I never did say I would stop you from feeling the pain of your mistakes in battle. Think of it as payback for this stupid wakeup call. Now then, I'm going back to sleep, don't wake me unless you need REAL help."

Naruto just grumbled in annoyance, "Lazy furball."

"I HEARD THAT!" Kyuubi growled, and Naruto quickly ceased his griping, he knew what a pissed Kyuubi was like, and he really didn't need that on the day of…

Naruto glanced at the clock, "Oh shit! I'm half an hour late! Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!" Naruto quickly got out of his hospital bed, changed into his normal orange clothing, and bolted out the window, just as a nurse came in.

The nurse just sighed, "Typical Naruto. Then again, I probably should've tried to tell him that clock is three hours ahead. Well, I'm sure he'll figure it out pretty quickly. I mean, it's not like he'll have a tardy sensei."

Naruto arrived in the classroom mere minutes after he departed from the hospital. Quite a feat, considering that they were across the village from one another. Naruto vaguely remembered the Hokage complaining to some old man about the logic of placing a hospital almost as far as possible from the Ninja Acadamy, where students would hurt themselves on an almost daily basis. He also thought he heard the old man say something under his breath that the Hokage didn't catch, but he put that aside when he realized there was no one else in the room.

"Shit! Where'd everyone go?" Naruto frantically searched the entire academy, and found not one teacher, and not one other student. He decided he needed to search for anyone he recognized from class, surely not every team could've gone too far from the academy, right?

Two Hours Later

Sakura was walking down the street toward the academy. She was giddy with the fact that she knew she would be the first one to class, same as ever. However, as she got nearer to the building, she started seeing a strange orange blur streaking back and forth around the building. She was truly perplexed until she realized where she recognized an orange blur from. She quickly got angry, "Who does that guy think he is? First, he shows me up by being first to get a team assignment, and second, here he is speeding around, probably breaking things, and paying no mind to anyone's safety. I'm gonna go give him a piece of my mind!" Then it dawned on her, "Wait… Why is Naruto here when he didn't even show up for the Exam..?" Several thoughts coursed through her mind, but she settled on the one that made her feel the best about herself, "Aha! He must be trying to get Iruka to pity him into passing, well, I won't let that stand!"

Sakura stormed up to where the blur seemed to always return, which was near the swingset. She waited, impatiently, for him to return once more. She almost fell over, however, when the orange blur revealed himself standing in front of her with an almost frantic face. "Sakura! Oh thank the Lord! What'd I miss? Who's team am I on? Where's everyone else?"

Sakura didn't bother with a verbal reply, instead she opted to slug him in the face. "Naruto-baka, what are you doing here? You didn't even show up for the Exam, let alone pass it. Stop trying to get Iruka to pass you out of pity, it won't work. And as for all your questions, can't you tell time? We're half an hour early, everyone else is probably still at home getting ready. Baka!"

Naruto just stood there blinking for several minutes. Then it all seemed to be processed by his brain, and he let out a sigh of relief, "Yes! I didn't miss it! That clock in the hospital must've been early… Damnit! There goes three valuable training hours. Son of a bitch!"

Sakura looked highly confused, "Wait, what? Why were you in the hospital, Naruto? You didn't even get hurt in our spar!"

Naruto instantly lost some of his joy, "Well, after our spar, and after a small chat with Sasuke, I went to train." Sakura nodded in understanding, "And, well… This old man came by. I sensed his chakra, of course, it was gigantic. It easily dwarfed the Hokage's, and that's no exaggeration." Sakura's eyes widened in fear.

"You didn't try to fight him, did you?! Oh, you did! You idiot, you just made the village a horribly powerful enemy! Baka! Baka! Baka!" Sakura's threats seemed to have no real affect on Naruto, however.

"As I was saying… I hid in the water, transformed into a local fish species, until I sensed him leave. Once I was fairly certain he was gone, I emerged from the water and went to the bank to dry off. That's when things got painful… Really painful. He came out of no where, with a kunai to my neck. However, he laughed and took it away after a few moments, and well… I'll cut the story short, as I don't want to bore you, I already have a bruise still healing from the last time I bored you with one of my stories, but, I'll cut to the chase. The old guy summoned something and I took no chances, I hurled some kunai at him, which he and his frog summon both caught. After a little talking, he and the frog dropped the kunai I threw into a pile, the frog vanished, and the old guy, who I found out was Jiraiya," Sakura nearly fainted at the mention of one of the Sannin, but Naruto gave her no chance to cut into his story, "realized that I had put a special exploding seal on one of the kunai. He took cover in time, but…" Naruto pulled off his shirt, disregarding Sakura's death glare and slight blush. However, she quickly got serious again, when she saw how many scars lined Naruto's chest. "The kunai with the tag was in nearly the middle of the stack, and when it went off, it went off with a BIG bang. The shrapnel found a good target in me…"

Sakura, despite her boastful hatred of Naruto, was still concerned, "How the hell are you standing?! Why the hell did you break out of the hospital!? You need to get back there and finish healing up, NOW!"

Sakura attempted to start dragging Naruto away, but he held his ground firmly, much to Sakura's surprise, "There's no need, Sakura. I'm almost entirely healed from the shrapnel, in fact, most of the wounds you see on me aren't from the shrapnel. In fact, I can count the scars I still have from the shrapnel on one hand. The wounds on me right now, however, are mostly from ANBU. Don't ask," Naruto said, cutting off her question before she could start it, "Long story short, it was part of an alternate test, albeit fake, by Mizuki. Mizuki had me steal the Forbidden Scroll for him, but ANBU caught him later that night when he was on the way to meet me to take it. I had to fight ANBU for almost an hour before Iruka showed up, and took control of the situation. Now I may boast and I know I'm good Sakura, but an hour against legions of ANBU is hard on anyone. I took some real hits in those fights, but I'm pretty sure the hospital will be filling up with ANBU any time now, I had to have knocked out at least three-hundred of them. Regardless, late last night, Iruka convinced the Hokage that that 'test' should have been proof enough, despite my academic grades, that I was more than ready to become a Genin, and I'm allowed to be here for team assignments today because of that."

Sakura was stunned into shock once again. She gazed on Naruto with eyes she had never used on him before, eyes of admiration. She merely smiled at him, and grabbed his hand. Naruto was confused as she lead him into the classroom, where they would continue to wait for their senseis.

The scene the first few students, after Naruto and Sakura, walked in on nearly made them fear for their own sanity. Naruto and Sakura were sitting next to each other. Laughing. And it appeared that Sakura was there voluntarily. Today was going to be an interesting day, that was almost certain.

That prediction was further strengthened when Sasuke walked in, smirking. However, that smirk was not the sinister one of superiority he normally wore. No, that smirk was one similar to a smile. It was probably as close to smiling as Sasuke could get in public. And that scared everyone.

Iruka walked in on a strange scene, as well. He was used to his students chatting, but this was something new entirely. Currently, three students were chatting together, while the rest of the class was looking at them strangely and whispering quietly. After several minutes of this, Iruka decided something serious was up. He decided he should stop the gossip before things got taken too far, he had students to protect through today, and protect them he would, even from things such as mindless gossip.

Iruka cast his famous 'Big Headed Jutsu' and proceeded to yell, "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!" The effect was immediate. The gossip ceased entirely, Sakura looked scared stiff, Sasuke was smirking almost normally, and Naruto was at attention. The rest of the class seated themselves silently, and awaited further orders.

"Very good. You are all here today to find out which teams you will be placed on. You are here because you passed the initial Genin Exam. I say 'initial' because each of your senseis will have the right to, if they deem it necessary, test you further to prove you are worth their time. Do not forget that your senseis are Jounin, the elite ninja of the village. I can also say that some of them have been in ANBU, even as far as to say one was a Captain. They could be out performing high-danger, A-rank missions, but, instead, they have chosen to take on a team of worthy Genin. As such, they have the right to test you however they see fit, and also to punish you in any way they see fit for any failures. Do not take these tests lightly, if you get one. I cannot say, even if I was allowed to, what tests may be given. So be ready for anything and everything. I can give you this hint, however: 'Look underneath the underneath.' " Iruka really hoped that hint would save anyone unfortunate enough to get the infamous Bell Test.

Once Iruka was satisfied that the class had taken the speech to heart, he decided he should get right down to it. "Alright, pay attention now, I am going to call out the theam's number, followed by the three genin that will be on it, and then the name of the jounin sensei. I will only say this once, so don't miss your team. Now then, the first five teams are still in circulation, as well as Team Nine, so we will not be making new teams for those numbers. Now then, Team Six will be: Akami Toyura, Shintsu Takuhima, and Gendo Madra, led by jounin Anko Mitarashi." A few of the genin gathered who knew of Anko's reputation flinched in fear for the new Team Six, while Iruka just smirked to himself before continuing, "Team Seven will consist of: Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha-" a large majority of the females in the classroom groaned in disappointment while Sakura, surprisingly, stayed rather calm, although you could tell that, without a shadow of a doubt, she was ecstatic, "and Naruto Uzumaki." The whispering of the class returned, tenfold, as it appeared that Sakura had gotten happier. The whispering continued to grow in volume, until the whole room was silenced by Naruto getting a high-five from Sasuke... Willingly. Iruka took this as a stroke of good luck, and continued, "Team Seven's jounin sensei will be Kakashi Hatake." To Iruka's surprise, no one recognized that name, "These guys know of Anko but not Kakashi? What the hell kind of rumors has Anko been spreading to the genin this year?" Iruka didn't hesitate to continue the listing of the teams, however, "Team Eight will consist of: Shino Aburame, Hinata Hyuuga, and Kiba Inuzuka. The jounin assigned to Team Eight is Kurenai Yuhi. As I said, Team Nine is still in circulation as genin. So Team Ten will be: Chouji Akimichi, Shikamaru Nara, and Ino Yamanaka. Your jounin sensei will be Asuma Sarutobi. As for the rest of you," Iruka said, motioning to the rest of the class, consisting of about ten other genin, "the Hokage has deemed it appropriate to send you into specialized divisions for both war- and peace-time duties as shinobi of the village. You are to report back here tomorrow at noon to receive individual senseis and instructions. That being said, you are free to go. However, for the twelve genin who have been assigned to Teams, you are to stay here and wait for your jounin instructors to arrive. They should be here shortly."

Iruka gave no time for questions, complaints, or concerns, he vanished as soon as he finished his sentence. Mere moments after Iruka disappeared, the genin who had been selected to come back tomorrow left quickly and quietly, most feeling like they had been selected as sub-par shinobi to those who got placed on Teams. As a small group of friends passed by, Naruto heard them whining about how it was unfair that he, who had gotten the lowest possible passing grades on all written test material, had gotten onto a Team, while they, some of the highest in the class at both written and practical skills, were left out. Naruto simply smirked, "Idiots. They really don't understand what the Old Man is up to, do they? Booksmarts my ass!"

A few anxious minutes passed for the newly assembled Teams, who had grouped into there soon-to-be-squads. They began to mingle, and Naruto occasionally heard Chouji ruffle a bag of chips, much to Ino's disdain. Fifteen minutes passed, before two people walked into the room. The first wore the standard Konoha jounin outfit, while the other one wore wrappings around her entire body, over what appeared to be only a fishnet shirt and a red-sleeved shirt. The male, who wore the standard jounin outfit, spoke first, "I'm Asuma Sarutobi. Team Ten, please come with me, you have a test to take." The man now known as Asuma slowly walked out of the classroom, while his new students scrambled out of their seats as fast as possible, save Shikamaru, who merely walked over to the window, and jumped out, landing right next to Asuma.

The woman took her turn to speak, "I am Kurenai Yuhi. Will Team Eight please meet me at Training Ground Six in half an hour? I'll leave a map with directions on the desk." The woman, known as Kurenai now, walked over to the desk, and did as she said she would, placing a small rolled up map on the desk, before vanishing in a puff of smoke. The new Team Eight proceeded to walk over to the desk, retrieve the map, and head out the door. The six remaining genin in the room didn't pay any of this much attention, figuring their senseis would be here very soon now, and be totally normal like the two senseis they just met, if you can call it that.

An hour passed, and the two teams were starting to get annoyed. Sakura was the first one to speak up, "This is ridiculous, do they seriously expect us to wait here this long for our new senseis? Well, if we have to, then I'm going to make sure we get some entertainment out of their arrival." Sasuke and Naruto smirked, while Team Six watched silently in curiosity, and slight amusement, as Sakura set up a decently complex Genjutsu over the door to the classroom.

Half an hour later, four genin shot up out of their seats as snakes began pouring into the classroom. While those four latched into the ceiling of the classroom like scared cats, Naruto and Sasuke merely laughed. That is, until a few of the snakes began smelling the air with their tongues. They began to convulge on Naruto, in such quantities that even Sasuke jumped back. Naruto, however, didn't have the chance, as hundreds of snakes began leaping at him, preparing to bite him. Surprise registered on his face, and on Sasuke's too, when he saw some strange, nearly naked, purple haired woman burst through the window at speeds that must have been that of a jounin. Sasuke leapt down to his comrade's defense, pulling a kunai and staring down the new, strange lady. Anko gave a look of confusion as she tilted her head while looking at Sasuke, before she sighed in realization, "Whoah there, kiddo, I'm not the one who sent the snakes on a rampage after your tasty little friend over there. I don't know why, but something is making my snakes want to eat him. So, I kind of need to go save your teammate..." Anko made to leap over Sasuke and save the little blonde, but, to everyone's surprise, Naruto was still sitting in the desk, calm as could be, as strange black limbs formed from random spots on his body, striking the snakes between the eyes, apparently knocking them out harmlessly. Not one snake landed a touch on Naruto, who finally got up, and picked up a rather small snake from the ground, and stroking it softly over the head. The snake woke up, and at first hissed, baring its fangs, before it, for some strange reason, relaxed, and slithered up to Naruto's shoulders, where it coiled up peacefully. Anko laughed, seemingly in a defeated tone, as she rose her hand into a one-handed seal, and said, "Release!" Instantly, all of the snakes that were sprawled all over the classrom vanished in a puff of smoke that hung to the ground, while the snake on Naruto's shoulder merely smelled the air with its tongue, seemingly still asleep. Anko just smiled as she walked over to Naruto, "Heh, you seem to be good with animals, kid. Too bad you're not on my team, my snakes might actually let you live. Ah well, beggars can't be choosers, now can we?"

The genin designated to Team Six promptly fell off the ceiling when Anko implied that her snakes would kill them. Sakura stayed clinging to the ceiling, which Naruto found amusing. Sasuke just returned to his seat, while Anko pulled the small snake off Naruto's shoulder. Anko yelped in surprise when the snake bit her and tried to leap back onto Naruto's shoulder. Naruto just smiled at the snake, pet it on the head, and placed it on Anko's shoulder, where it again coiled up and went to sleep. Anko was dumbfounded, but shook it off as she remembered she had a team to kil-... er... train. Anko looked down at the three genin heaped on the floor where they had fallen, and just sighed in annoyance, "Okay, maggot sacks, Team Six meet me at Training Ground Fifty-Seven in twelve minutes. That's your test." Anko, unlike Kurenai, gave no directions, no instructions, no help. She just disappeared. Team Six got frantic.

"Oh crap! Where the hell is that?! How are we gonna get there in twelve minutes?! How-" Shintsu was cut off by Naruto.

"Relax. Training Ground Fifty-Seven is a two minute walk, for a civilian, from here. Its that forest behind the training field behind the Academy. Didn't you guys ever read that big sign with the red paint saying, "Warning: Training Ground Fifty-Seven. DO NOT ENTER."?" Naruto's impersonation of an annoying alarm system's voice when someone broke in make Sasuke laugh outright.

Team Six paled even more as they walked over to the door, before Akami remembered, "Wait! Remember what Sakura did to the door! Use the windows." Akami's teammates nodded, while Sakura, who had finally regained her ability to move and talk freely, dislodged herself from the ceiling and smirked.

Naruto decided he should make sure Team Six was aware of their time restraint, "Oh, by the way guys, you have-" Naruto checked his watch, "Seventy-four seconds to get there."

Team Six moved faster in that moment than they ever had in their entire lives, and faster than they likely ever would again until they made jounin.

Alright, well, there's the first glimpse of why I titled this story the way I did. I deeply apologize for the long time from the last update, schoolwork caught up with me rather fiercely, and I had almost no free time. Got the first half of this typed up, and couldn't finish it until today (psh, and they say Friday the 13th is unlucky!).

Anyway, hopefully the next update will be sooner, as I'm pretty far ahead in a few of my classes, so I should have more free time to write the next few chapters.

As always, Read and Review (Reviews are how I know people actually read this, and don't actually misclick on it, or skim through the chapters looking for something specific (what that might be, I've no idea)).