Author's Note: Please read and review, this is the first time I've made a foray into the world of Naruto. Please tell me if there is anything that isn't working, or if you have any constructive criticism, it would be greatly appreciated. :D
Chapter Three: Forming Bonds.
A light breeze blew through the leaves of the trees surrounding the emerald eyed girls home, the leaves twisting almost as if they were dancing with the light rush of air before settling down again, only to be blown in another direction as the wind swirled. The wind rushed through the gaps between the houses that belonged to the Haruno compound making it seem like the buildings were moaning because of their disuse and neglect.
The pink haired girl lay on her bed, idly staring out of the floor length window that led out onto her balcony. The moon was high in the sky casting a strange light over the world beneath it but the girl preferred it that way, she watched the clouds drifting over the horizon and the birds that flew through the inky blackness of the night sky. Many times before she had laid awake long into the night just watching as the world revolved around her; drifting into the background to where nothing about her life mattered and she could see that she was just a little piece of something much bigger that surrounded and engulfed both her and the village.
Tomorrow would bring a new start for the pink haired girl.
She had passed the final exam the day before at the academy and now she was eligible to become a Genin. Two days ago she thought that she would never be allowed to pass the exam, but yet she had managed to and the hitai-ate that sat proudly in her hair was the proof of that. A pale hand reached up, fingers combing through short locks of pastel pink hair, fingertips stroking over the fine cotton straps that held the metal faceplate of the hitai-ate.
Eyes slid closed on the darkness, waiting for the sunlight to come and the next day to dawn.
Light burst through the darkness momentarily blinding the eyes that snapped open, a pained gasp was torn out of the girl's mouth even as she twisted away from the bright light, her eyes closed against it again. The emerald eyes that belonged to the pink haired occupant of the bed blinked for a few moments before they were able to focus on their surrounding again. Turning her head while still remaining in the protective embrace of the shadows the girl looked out of the window towards where the sun was rising behind her. "Morning..." She whispered softly, a gleam coming to her eyes when she remembered what the morning had brought.
A pale hand trembled as it went up to her hair and felt the cool touch of the headband proudly sitting on the top of her hair holding it back from her face. "I passed." She whispered in wonder – half of her had expected to wake up that morning and reach for the headband only for it to be gone like the day before had been a dream, but it was still there.
The girl's legs slipped off the side of the bed, bare soles touching the cold floor sending a shiver up to her spine; bare soles walked across the varnished surface softly, barely touching the coolness of the wood before they were lifted up again until the girl stood in front of the wardrobe. Pale hands grasped the door handle and pulled the heavy doors open slowly.
The pink haired girl cocked her head to the side as she considered what she was going to wear before pulling out the same mesh under-top that she had worn the day before along with her brother's shirt. Throwing them onto the chair beside the mirror the girl picked up the black under-shorts and the black baggy shorts that would be worn over them. "To honour my brother..." The girl whispered softly, running her fingers along the soft fabric of the t-shirt.
Tugging the clothes onto her slight frame the girl's fingertips ran over the scars that littered her body, reminders of times when her life had been harder than it was now – the burn scars that curled over her hip slightly from when her house burned down and the slash across her stomach.
Half an hour later the girl slipped out of her window, dropping down the two stories down to the ground; a small dust cloud forming around her feet from the dust that she had stirred up by landing. The day before the rain clouds that the girl had spotted had fizzled out over the course of the day, cursing the city to yet another day without rain.
The pink haired girl padded down the road that lead through the centre of the Haruno Compound, her eyes glancing over at the empty houses, the houses that hadn't been lived in for over four years. The houses that were only half standing, the scars from the flames that licked across their outsides, support beams that barely remained upright. The girl's eyes scanned over the remains of her compound just as they did every morning that she walked through it, tears used to come to her eyes when she remembered things that happened but now her eyes were as cold as ice and her face set in a grim frown.
The emerald eyed girl walked slowly through the centre of the village, sliding between gaps in the crowd to make her way through, the people barely glanced down at her before their eyes took on the mask of hatred. The girl kept her head down refusing to meet anyone's eyes as she walked, preferring not to see the hatred that they held and trying not to think about the things that Mizuk had said the day before – about her being a demon.
"Good morning class," Iruka's voice boomed loudly, startling the pink haired girl out of her thoughts. Somehow she had made it all the way into the classroom after losing herself to the thoughts that were flying around her head. "Those of you that passed yesterday's test are going to be meeting your Jonin teachers, those of you that didn't pass will be going outside to practice with the targets."
There was a resounding groan from all the students that had collected in the room, wanting to have the chance to meet an actual Jonin even though they hadn't passed; one by one they trooped out of the sliding door that led to the outdoor training area that the Chunin instructors used for training the academy students in the use of kunai and shuriken. Targets were put up on the trunks of trees and human shaped dummies were also stood in the middle of the area to make sure that the students could strike the areas on the body that would cause the most damage with the least trouble and effort.
The emerald eyed girl could remember days spent in front of those targets, throwing kunai after kunai until her hands were sore and bleeding - the skin on the pads of her fingers grew tough because of the intense training that she did there, many times Iruka had to come out and stop her from training, but she would be back there the next morning before he got to the academy training with the targets again until he gave her permission to go to the academy's training field and practice there, since then that was where she practised.
"As the rest of you know, yesterday you passed the final exam at the academy and therefore I want to congratulate you all on becoming academy graduates, you've done Konoha proud." The brown haired Chunin said, a smile spreading across his lips as he looked around the room at the students that he had helped train for years, among them the Uchiha survivor and the Kyuubi no Youko's jinchuriki. "Today I'm going to pass on your training to some of the most experienced shinobi in all of the Hidden Leaf, treat them with the respect that you've treated me with and I'm sure that you will get along well."
"Hai Sensei," Most of the class replied, almost everyone of them sharing the same happy smile.
"Now, I'm going to give out the assignments for the teams and I hope that you will work together to complete missions and do your best for the village," Iruka's voice boomed in the girl's ears, keeping her attention on what was happening at the front of the classroom, instead of the muttering that was happening at the back of it. "Team One will be..."
Iruka droned on until he made it to Team Seven, a small frown spreading over his lips as he read the name of the instructor but he nodded none the less and called out the names, "Team Seven will be Uchiha Sasuke, Uzumaki Naruto -" The man was interrupted for a moment by a loud cry from Naruto, but the blonde was settled down with a sharp glare from the Chunin, "And the third member will be Haruno Sakura, your Jonin instructor will be Hatake Kakashi."
"I'm stuck with the teme?" Naruto yelled loudly, pointing directly at the raven haired boy, Uchiha Sasuke, who was the other boy on his team. "You've got to be kidding me."
"No, we're not Naruto, you see they liked to even out the abilities on every team to make them roughly the same, and you see, Sasuke is the best student in the entire room, and Sakura is average -" "Though only because she doesn't let her true potential show..." The man thought to himself before continuing, "While you Naruto, regularly post the worst scores in all the tests in the entire class."
"That's a lie!" The hothead boy cried out loudly, glaring at the brown haired Chunin.
"You can look at the score list if you want." The man shrugged continuing to rattle off the teams and who belonged in which.
Knowing which team she was on the pink haired girl turned her attention to the window, gazing through it barely listening to what Iruka was saying as he continued to list names. Hatake Kakashi wasn't one of the Jonin that she had ever come in contact with before but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing - some of the ANBU Special Ops Jonin that the old man had told to guard her when she was younger just after her family died preferred to hound her and not step in when the villagers attacked, though they normally got a very bad reprimand from the Hokage whenever they did that.
"Now that everyone's team are assigned wait here until your Jonin teacher comes to collect you, which I'm sure won't be in too much time." Iruka finished with a smile before exiting the room.
"Aren't you glad we're on the same team Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked loudly, his booming voice pounding into the pink haired girl's ear drum as he spoke.
"Sure," The girl replied softly, turning her head slightly to look at the boy she was stuck with - in the terms of the academy he was nothing special, but he was well liked among the students, and had even tried to befriend Sakura when most of the other students ignored her because their parents told them that she was bad news.
The hours ticked by slowly, one by one teams left with their teachers and the group in the room thinned down, the noise lessening with it, until there was no one but Team Seven still in the room. Naruto paced back and forth in the front of the classroom while Sasuke tapped his fingers on the surface of his desk, only Sakura seemed to be able to remain calm, sitting at the back of the classroom staring peacefully out of the window.
Finally the blonde haired boy couldn't take it any more, taking one of the chalk filled board dusters and a chair he slid the door to the classroom open just enough that he was able to wedge the duster in the gap until it was stuck in place before jumping down from the chair giggling softly at the set up for his prank. "You don't really think that a Jonin is going to fall for that, do you?" Sasuke asked smirking at the blonde from behind his hands.
"Shut up teme," The blonde replied glaring at the other boy.
"Don't you think we should-" The pastel pink haired girl began to say but was stopped when the door started to open.
Time seemed to slow down until everything was happening in slow motion, the duster fell, turning over in the air a total three hundred and sixty degrees before landing on the silver haired man's head softly, bouncing off and tumbling to the ground.
"-try and make a good impression..." The girl mumbled softly staring wide eyed at the man standing in the doorway.
"How should I say this... my first thoughts of you lot are... I don't like any of you." The man said softly, a small smile on his lips - though that was barely visible underneath the cloth mask that he wore over the bottom half of his face. Other than the mask the man was dressed very similarly to the Chunin, though he wore blue pants and a blue jacket underneath the flak jacket, as well as the gloves that he wore on his hands.
"Gomen Sensei." The pink haired girl was the first to react, though Naruto jumped in yelling at the man.
"So it seems, follow me to the roof." The grey haired man said softly, turning around promptly and walking down the corridor in the direction of the stairs that led to the roof.
Leaning against the metal railing on the roof the man looked at the three children, looked towards the steps that were opposite from where he was standing and waved his hand over to them. "Sit there, and tell me something about yourself."
"Why don't you tell us something about you?" Naruto asked peevishly, staring at the man his eyes narrowed.
"My name is Hatake Kakashi, I'm not going to tell you my likes... my dislikes are well, and I don't really have many goals." The man said, practically just telling the three children his name without telling him anything else.
"You didn't tell us anything but your name!" Naruto yelled loudly, glaring at the man.
"You first blondie." Kakashi replied with a smirk on his lips. No matter what he had said before he was actually warming up to these three kids, though that wouldn't be enough to let him pass them if they failed his test.
"My name is Uzumaki Naruto, I love ramen, all types and flavours, but I dislike the three minutes that it takes to cook ramen. I want to become the best shinobi in the village, the Hokage!" Naruto proclaimed loudly, a large goofy grin stretching across his lips as he spoke.
"Interesting..." Kakashi thought to himself, "Alright raven haired boy."
"I'm Uchiha Sasuke, I don't have many likes, and I don't have many dislikes either. My goal is to kill a certain man and revive my clan."
"Almost scary, but interesting nonetheless, it wasn't a surprise that they would put the Uchiha on my team, though that's not enough to let me pass them just to train with the Sharingan." Kakashi pondered silently, before nodding to Sakura. "You now, Pinky."
"Haruno Sakura, I like to train and become stronger, but I dislike people that throw their strength around. My goal is to become a person that the villagers like and accept, and someone who is strong enough to protect the entire village and it's people."
"So you want to become a hero? Is that it, or is there something else to your comment." Kakashi wondered, staring at the girl as he thought. "Alright, that's certainly interesting, now, I want the three of you to meet me at the number Seven training ground tomorrow morning at five in the morning, and don't eat breakfast, you'll throw up."
"What are we going to be doing sensei?" The emerald eyed girl asked softly, eyeing the man wondering what he was going on about.
"You're going to be doing survival training, as the last test before becoming true Genin shinobi. If you fail then you are going to be sent back to the academy for another year, as you obviously haven't learnt enough there the first time. This is a hard test to pass with a sixty six percent failure rate." The man replied, the humour that he was feeling showing in his tone as he spoke.
"But what about the final test, what was that about if we have to go through with this one?" Naruto yelled loudly.
"That was just a test to see if you were ready to be tested properly," Kakashi replied, "Training ground seven tomorrow at five, you are released for the rest of the day."
The man disappeared in burst of smoke, the grin on his face visible even under the mask that he wore.
"What the hell was that about?" The blonde member of the team practically growled as he glared at the spot where the man had been standing moments before. "Why didn't they ever tell us that there was another test!"
"A shinobi is expected to expect the unexpected." Sakura murmured under her breath for a moment before turning and heading over to the railing which Kakashi had just disappeared from. "The test is to see if we're good enough to be sent on missions for the village, after all we will be representing the village."
"But why do they have to have another test, haven't they already tested us enough!" Naruto moaned softly, shaking his head and groaning.
"Obviously not enough from their point of view." Sasuke added, opening his mouth for the first time to directly speak with team-mates. "I suggest that we just make sure we pass, I certainly don't want to be thrown back to the academy."
The pink haired girl considered the raven haired boy's word for a moment, there was obviously a reason that Kakashi told them about the test after they had been put in teams. Something about the fact that it hadn't been mentioned before, neither the teams or the test got the emerald eyed girl thinking but she couldn't quite put her finger on exactly what it was that was bothering her. Just as the other two members of Team Seven turned to walk away the girl lifted her head and called out to them, her voice cracking slightly because it was so unused to being used to call loudly to someone. "Guys!"
"Yes Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked turning his head to regard the girl, his bright blue eyes shining with warmth for the pink haired girl.
"I think that the test is meant to test know well we work together as a team... that is after all what shinobi do. We've just been split off into teams, that are meant to be balanced - we all know each other's strengths and weaknesses, but we've never worked closely together." The girl said quickly, a light blush making it's way onto her cheeks as she spoke, unused to speaking to others.
Sasuke tilted his head to the side for a moment, considering the girl's words before he nodded, "That would actually make sense, so the test is going to be something that tries to pit us against each other?" He pondered aloud, Naruto switching back and forth between the raven haired boy and the girl.
"Probably... something that means we have to put the interests of the team, above those of the individual. Something like that." The girl shook her head, "I don't really know... but we have to remember to work together."
"Hn, if you hold me back you'll be left behind." The raven haired boy replied nodding his head to the two other members of his team and walking away.
"Don't worry Sakura-chan, I'm sure that we'll pass if you and me work together..." The boy blushed a dark red for a moment before he coughed clearing his throat and looking towards the girl, "Do you want to come and maybe... have lunch with me?"
"Sure.." Sakura replied, a small smile working it's way onto her lips even though she didn't want it to be there, if she was going to work with Naruto, then she might as well get to know him a little better - he had been nothing but kind to her in the best as well.
"Alright!" The boy yelled happily, coughing again when he noticed the girl chuckling softly before laughing loudly, inviting the other girl to join in with him. Minutes later the two were able to breathe again, and smiles were locked onto their lips, "So wanna go to the ramen place, it's really good!"
"Sure..." The pink haired girl answered softly, a small smile staying on her lips as she walked towards the other boy. "I'd be glad to."
Unknown to the three young members of Team Seven their sensei stood on the roof of a building that overlooked the academy, a small smile crossing his lips as he watched them interacting - first the girl had figured out the meaning behind the test, and then the three of them had agreed to work together because no matter what Sasuke said, he had no intention of not working with the other two, and now Naruto was treating Sakura to lunch, and they were laughing together. The silver haired man nodded his head slowly, before walking away from the two young children, the thought going through his head that he might actually grow to like this team - if they passed.
Author's Note: I decided that the Sakura in my story was going to be a little more intelligent than the one in the actual anime, and I thought that she would be able to put the clues together about the final test, though Sasuke is still going to be as arrogant as ever. :D