You may know me, or you may not. Regardless, I'm penning this story and it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

I'm sorry that I couldn't update sooner, I know that I promised it to some of you about a week ago,

but when I went to upload it, I realized how sloppy it was. By that time, school had resumed and the

week went by without sparing much time. I've worked on it a bit, and I hope its alright. Anyways, if you want

to continue reading my rant, its at the bottom of the page.

Disclaimer (I'm only doing this once): Don't own Naruto and any other possible references to literature, music, etcetera, etcetera.

Chapter 1: The Winds Of Change

"Are you alright sensei?" Was the first thing Kakashi heard when he came to.

"You look terrible!" Exclaimed the raven haired woman - Tsunami, he reminded himself.

"Maa, I don't think I'll be able to move well for a week or so, but I'm all right." Replied Kakashi disinterestedly. Actually, he was feeling hung-over, sore and had a killer headache, but he wasn't going to tell a civilian that – let alone someone he supposed to be protecting. Shaking himself awake, he asked, "Tsunami-san, could you send for the kids? I need to talk to them."

"Alright. Breakfast should be ready soon. Please let me know if you need anything else." Was her compliant reply. Before exiting, she glanced back – to check for injuries, no doubt – and left him to ponder the situation.

Last night had been… illuminating. It had made him realize how badly things needed to change. Of course, many such changes were going to happen after the mission, but for now, he needed Sasuke to activate his kekkei genkai and Naruto to understand the entirety of Kage Bunshin. The blond could always be told, but he'd learnt that it was always more rewarding to let the kid discover facts on his own. Bit by bit, as he put a plan together, he winced at the added discomfort it would cause his already abused body.

"You wanted to see us sensei?" came Sakura's irritated voice.

His students were standing in front of him. Seemed like they'd let themselves in while Kakashi was busy thinking.

Apparently they'd been there for a while.


Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Kakashi replied, "Yes, I did. Are you maintaining perimeter?"

"Yeah," She nodded, explaining, "Sasuke's been patrolling for two hours."

"Good. But I don't believe there is a need for it right now." Kakashi delivered, before asking, "And why is that?"

After a short silence, "Uh… why is what sensei?" Naruto asked while scrunching his eyes, a pout on his lips. It was cute, Kakashi decided. In an amused tone, he asked again, stressing every word this time, "Why don't we need to patrol the perimeter?"

It was Sasuke who answered, "Because the enemy shinobi are incapacitated? And Zabuza, their best assassin, was killed?"

"Correct" Kakashi affirmed, "-in part. While you could be right in assuming that Zabuza was their best shinobi, we don't have intel on our opposition. For all we know, there could be scores of shinobi gracing their ranks. We have some facts, and from those, we need to draw conclusions."

"Fact one:" His index finger came out of an enclosed right fist, "Zabuza is an A-rank Missing-Nin, reputed to have an ego."

"Fact two: The enemy camp doesn't have any S-rank Missing-nin. They are thankfully small in number and work for their own ends." The sighs of relief he heard from the genin dispelled the pale faces they had when he mentioned 'S-ranked'. Really, it was nice to see his team act predictably for a change. After the stunt they had pulled during the fight, he had realized that his genin could be quite impulsive.

"Fact three: We weren't ambushed by anyone else after the fight." Kakashi continued, finishing his facts; three fingers pointed at the genin now.

Stopping to let them understand, he continued in a light tone, "This leads me to several conclusions."

Eying his students, he began, "Even assuming they have other shinobi, which I doubt, they don't have any A-ranked nins. If they did, they would have either pursued a numerical advantage while fighting or ambushed us afterwards."

"Which means that after their most recent failure, they will likely pull back and evaluate their strategy. Hence, we don't need to worry about the patrol." Finished Kakashi nonchalantly .

Letting his students stew on the information, he glanced around the room and took particular care to memorize the entry/exit points. Even if he couldn't function at full capacity, it didn't hurt to be prepared.

"Say, sensei? Who was that masked kid?" asked Sakura.

A sigh. "I thought I told you on the field? Anyway, that mask is worn…"

Naruto was barely listening to sensei explain something about the weird masked kid, secrets and chopping people up. Instead, he was puzzling over his ever important conundrum – ramen! He didn't want to use up his noodle packets too early or he wouldn't have any left for later; but if he didn't eat, then the mission stock would still be left afterwards. Not to mention that he would starve.

Scratching his head in puzzlement, he decided that he wasn't too good at this thinking stuff and what the heck; he'd eat it and when he ran out, he'd buy more from the market here. Surely the good people of Wave understood the ooey-gooey goodness of ramen? , he turned his attention back to his teacher… just in time to hear the question, "-dentally, brings me to our next point of interest. How did the Hunter-nin dispose of the body?"

Sakura was the one to point out the obvious "How should we know? He carried it away."

Nodding, Kakashi dug further "And why would he do that? Standard Hunter-nin protocol states that the bodies are to be taken care of on-site. He only needed the head to prove his kill after all."

"Sensei, couldn't they have just not wanted us to see the process?" Sakura inquired curiously.

"True, that could have been it. But I remain unsatisfied when I think about the weapons he used." replied Kakashi in a detached manner; all the while shaking his limbs, accessing his level of mobility.

"…Senbon!" breathed Sasuke in wonder as his eyes grew wide – he had understood what sensei was telling them.

Kakashi nodded, confirming the deduction.

"What? What is it?" asked Naruto. Annoyed at his inability to understand, he glanced between his teammate and Sensei to decipher the hidden interaction.

Kakashi answered, "Senbon's are lacking as the weapons go. That and Hunter-nin are extremely knowledgeable in body structures. Unless the needles hit a vital spot, the probability of a kill is extremely low."

"Most likely, Zabuza's alive and kicking." At his proclamation, the atmosphere turned cold as the shocked genin tried to digest the information.

"Didn't you check Zabuza's body before the Hunter-nin carried him away? You said that he wasn't breathing! And that he had no pulse!" Sakura exclaimed in a hysterical shriek.

"That was most likely a temporary death state. It makes the subject's heartbeat and breathing slow down to the extreme; so much so that even medics wouldn't catch on." Uncaring of his students' despair, Kakashi switched gears and stated, "At most, we have seven days to prepare. It should take that long for Zabuza to heal. From here on out, every move we make, we make assuming he's alive and working with an accomplice."

"Starting today, you all will receive training. A shinobi must prepare before it is too late'." Kakashi stated firmly. Glancing at his students, he was amazed at the boys' expressions. While Sakura was trying to put up a brave front, the other two were grinning and smirking, looking rather excited about training for another confrontation with the maniac.

But the training would have to wait. There were things to do and almost too little time for them, "For now Sakura, go downstairs and help Tsunami-san prepare breakfast. Sasuke, make another round of the perimeter and come back for food. Naruto and I will be along shortly."

His two students left without protest, shooting the remaining half of the team curious looks. And the blond was... looking at him curiously. As the silence stretched, he blurted out, "So, what's this about Sensei?"

Kakashi grew solemn at the words and started in a grim tone, "What this is about Naruto, are your actions on the field. You disobeyed a direct order from your superior. In doing so, you placed both your teammates and our client in danger. You identified yourself to an enemy nuke-nin. Do you realize the gravity of your actions?"

A stunned silence greeted Kakashi's denunciation. Didn't last long, of course.

Choosing to ignore his stuttering denials, Kakashi ploughed on, "Imagine if you will, that your plan had failed. The death of Tazuna, as well as you three, was certain."

"When you decided to disobey my orders, you committed a grave crime. Granted, Sasuke played a part, and for that he will be punished; but what it boils down to is this: you were the prime instigator."

"The punishment for it, were we at war, would be a swift execution." Kakashi said harshly; taking a deep breath, he continued "Under current circumstances, a dishonourable discharge from the corps would suffice." Pausing, Kakashi glanced at Naruto.

The young shinobi looked crushed – he hadn't even argued! – but this had to be done. It had to be made clear that if it was anyone else in Kakashi's position, the punishment would have been severe. The chain of command was sacred, after all. Letting his statement hang in the air, Kakashi started again, in a softer tone this time.

"However, since we are looking at your decisions, it would only be fair to look at the results as well. Because of your plans' success, and because it bought me an escape route, lenience will be shown." Kakashi said quietly. "Keep in mind that this will happen only once."

"This will be your first and last warning Naruto. As punishment, I expect a three page analysis of why you broke protocol, including a study of the fight with your witness. I expect the report to be completed by the end of the week."

If Kakashi could have described the emotions that were flitting across Naruto's face, it would have been a mixture of relief and irritation – no doubt generated by the necessity of writing a report. But if the blond ever wanted to become Hokage, he would have to suck it up, what with paperwork being a huge part of the job. Chuckling at his student in the privacy of his mind, he continued, "In addition to that, you are going to present a verbal report on your motives about becoming a ninja, and Hokage. Once prepared, come and notify me."

With no questions forthcoming, he continued, "While I am disappointed at your actions as a commander, Naruto, as your sensei, I am very pleased to see that you took my point about teammates to heart."

A blushing and protest stammering Naruto was a rare sight, Kakashi had to admit. But rather than comment on it, and further embarrass the boy, Kakashi decided to throw caution to the wind and said instead "I am proud of you… and I am sure that your parents would be too."

Naruto knew that he'd never felt as stunned as he was now. When sensei pointed out that his actions could have killed the team, all the heat had rushed to his face, leaving his hands cold and clammy. He was feeling queasy about the mess he could have caused when he heard the praise and the punishment given . This was before the other shoe dropped of course.

Thinking furiously, he remembered asking Hokage-jiji about his parents. The Sandaime had steadfastly denied any knowledge of his parentage and claimed it lost forever. He had thought himself to be eternally unclaimed. So when he finally understood sensei's remark, his brain went numb and his tongue ran dry. He was pretty sure that he was gawking. He had parents?

Oh, he knew that he had parents, otherwise he wouldn't have been born; but never before had there been real proof of their existence! He thought them doomed to be ghosts of his imagination forever!

After a few seconds of stony silence, when Kakashi didn't speak further, Naruto realized that he was waiting for him to talk. Plucking up his courage, he asked carefully "My parents? Do - Did you know them sensei? " Naruto amended himself mid-sentence after it dawned on him that Kakashi was using past tense to describe them.

The reply was slow in coming, and it was rather shocking.

"I did know them Naruto. But I can't tell you about things I'm sure you want to know. I can't tell you if they were civilians or shinobi, if they are alive or dead. I can't even divulge their names and stations. To do so would be considered treason and I'm not interested in ending my life." Kakashi halted briefly, and resumed, "What I can do, however, is help you establish their identities, albeit in a roundabout way. And of course, telling you a bit about their personalities and quirks."

"As you rise in shinobi ranks, your clearance will elevate accordingly. Until you have clearance for their names; meaning, that you are both strong and smart enough to know, all that you will have is speculations. The secrecy of this act is vital. Not only does this protect you, but it also protects Konoha."

Here Kakashi hesitated briefly before gently adding, "I doubt this is easy to hear, but it's necessary. Are you willing to go after such an unreliable source of knowledge?"

Kakashi peered at Naruto, seeing the myriad of emotions flitting across the kids' face before they settled on grim determination. The reply was a brief nod accompanied with, "Yeah."

His eye softened around the edges as he smiled at his pupil.

"Very well. I have said what I needed to, but now I need some help."

"Help?" asked Naruto skeptically.

"About your pranks... "

Sasuke was contemplative today. First, the dead-last – Naruto, he corrected himself – had pulled a plan out of nowhere and saved the day. It had forced him to reevaluate the blond and elevate his status from a somewhat competent shinobi to an acceptable one. All the better, since it meant that he wouldn't have to watch out for him all the time. Flickering his eyes to the front, he peeked at his 'teammates' up ahead. The blond was his usual idiotically energetic self, but it was Sakura who was behaving oddly. She was rather... enthusiastic (?) about training. Usually she would whine about anything physical. And she wasn't squealing 'Sasuke-kun this, Sasuke-kun that'. Which was good, but weird. Very weird. Maybe she was more troubled with this mission that she let on. As he watched her though, she turned around and met his eyes curiously. Even hastily turning away, he knew it was too late. He saw something flash in the green eyes as she put on a huge smile and a shrill 'Sasuke-kun!' when she practically leapt at him. He suppressed the shivers before they rose. Looked like she was just fine.

All that took the back burner when compared to how Kakashi was behaving today. Glancing back to make sure the man wasn't looking; he lost himself in his thoughts. This morning, he'd seen a side of the man which was very promising. A leader and commander. A jonin. He'd taken charge of the place so naturally that it seemed like breathing to the man. The aloof man he'd seen the month before had vanished with the wind. This man was Konoha's Copy Nin, the Sharingan Kakashi. Although, the eye... the whole eye business was rather troubling. How had he gotten the eye? It sure wasn't natural. He'd never heard of a single-eyed sharingan manifestations. Not to mention that that amount of sharingan usage wouldn't cause exhaustion to an Uchiha. The Uchiha also weren't allowed to marry into other village clans... before. Before there was a before. Before Him. That man... he'd pay for what he'd done. His gut tightened as he imagined bringing down that abomination. So lost in his thoughts was he, that when Kakashi asked them to stop, he went several yards before looking back.

That man wasn't Kakashi.

Turning around to face him, all sorts of alarm bells started ringing in Sasuke's mind. Looking sideways to see if either of his teammates had noticed anything, he was frustrated by their earnest gazes. The man in front of them – for he wasn't Kakashi – gave off an eerie aura. It was only minutely different, but the change was glaring to anyone who would examine closely. Kakashi was half-dead this morning. He couldn't move much, even with his crutches. This man though, he wasn't relying on them, just hanging them by his sides.

Before he could think about options available for the team and himself, a poof of smoke later, Zabuza stood in Kakashi's place. Barely a second later, the mist-nin exploded his Killing Intent. When the insane urge of dismembering them limb from limb stopped the three in their tracks, Zabuza moved. One second he was over ten feet in front of them, and a blink later, Naruto was flying backwards into a tree with a five inch gash on the right side of his face.

Zabuza turned to face him and Sasuke turned ash. His brain went into panic: Was Sensei dead? Was Naruto? Zabuza was running towards him with a bloody kunai. not good! he had to move! Zabuza passed a pale faced Sakura. he's targeting me? shit! He breathed resolutely. Calm down. Think. Think. Breath. and Move! Zabuza was a mere three feet away. his feet weren't responding! As a kunai come down to stab him, shakily, he moved his hand to the hip-pouch and grabbed his own kunai. He lifted his hand to push the weapon into his thigh to break the paralysis, and realized that his hand was grabbed. He was left gaping at the charging assassin in terror and disbelief.

But even as the attacker's kunai approached his eye, the most peculiar sensation took hold of Sasuke. It seemed to him, as if the whole world had slowed down. When he focused his eyes toward the attacker, he saw the 'Zabuza' in front of him was… Kakashi?

As suddenly as it had come, the Killing Intent vanished; and another poof of smoke later, Kakashi 'appeared' in place of Zabuza. Sasuke collapsed backwards, body shaking, as he stared uncomprehendingly at Kakashi. Stuttering, he asked, "W-what…H-how? Kakashi? But…"

Before he had a chance to pull himself together and ask properly, Kakashi said, with a smile on his face, "Congratulations. Your Sharingan's activated."

As Sasuke became aware of the prickling sensation in his eyes, and the feeling of chakra drainage; Kakashi, underlining the sheer absurdness of the situation, turned towards 'Sakura' and said, "Dispel yourself and bring Sakura here."

Trying to understand what was going on, Sasuke stood in silence when 'Sakura' commented offhandedly, "You know… I didn't think you had it in you Kakashi-sensei." before disappearing in a poof of smoke.

He was starting to get really irritated at these puffs of smoke.

That was the moment when Kakashi choose to collapse. Facing him, he started speaking, "I guess I should start at the beginning…"

Naruto was in a foul mood. While talking to Sensei, he had cautiously inquired about the prank. What with how unpredictable sensei was being, he had no idea where their talk was headed. But sensei had just wanted to pull a prank (a prank!) on Sasuke. Of course he hadn't said no- it was Sasuke! But how was he to know that he wouldn't be included. Playing a prank was awesome, but just helping? It sucked. All that sensei had wanted from him were a couple of durable clones and help for keeping Sakura away while the four of them – Kakashi, Sasuke, and the clones – left.

This was agreed upon, so it wasn't too bad. When they left, he had to force Sakura to move. She'd struggled, so he'd had to forcibly lead her to another room. Of course, as soon as he let go, she decked him, but it wasn't unexpected. Explaining to her that Kakashi had needed to speak to Sasuke alone (which was their official cover), he informed her that they were to stay put until Sensei told them where to go. Besides, with neither of them being expert trackers, they'd get lost trying to look for the trail.

Things had been quiet for a while, but then he had met that brat, Inari. Talk about annoying. 'You should leave if you don't wanna die' his pearly white ass. Fuming, he'd followed the kid, wanting to teach him a lesson. Then he'd heard his pitiful cries that he'd let loose in the comfort of his room, and had come back quietly. Now he was in the sitting room, and he really wanted to vent, but he couldn't! Sensei had yet to come back.

So time had passed and his anger had abated. Then… he grew bored.

It had almost been an hour since Sensei had left. If it wasn't for the fact that they might be working with new jutsu, he would have bailed and trained by himself. With a need to move, he stood up and started pacing around the room. On the other side, Sakura watched him warily.

When word arrived, it was through a completely unexpected means. While wondering what was taking so long, a sudden rush of memories invaded Naruto's brain.

Disoriented, he staggered and fell down in a heap. Walking down towards the clearing… turning around to face…Zabuza? Had he attacked? As he was about to rush outside and go help Sasuke, a second set of memories arrived. With it came the instructions: "Dispel yourself and bring Sakura here".

As his mind rushed ahead to make sense of the situation, a smile came to his face as he realized what had happened.

Taking a few moments to get the entire event in order, he peeked at Sakura and said, "Sensei wants us there now." With no response forthcoming, he said, rather anti-climatically, "So… let's go."

As he was walking out of the room, he glanced back to check and see she was following. She wasn't. Looking at her face, he found her gaping at him. Right. She hadn't been told about his Kage Bunshin. Hell, he'd just found out! As he was thinking on how to explain it, she asked incredulously, "And you suddenly know where to go?"

Naruto though about explaining, and then realized the amount of time it would waste. Not to mention that Sakura's fury would be directed at him alone. Deciding to face her alongside Kakashi, he asked, "Do you wanna come with? 'Cuz sensei wants us there and we're getting late. I can explain later, if you want."

She jerkily nodded her assent, with the fire in her eyes promising violence in the near future.

As they went outside and turned towards the path that his clones had taken, Naruto's mind started to wonder about the possibilities of his favorite jutsu…

As soon as Naruto and Sakura arrived at the clearing, Kakashi began his lecture.

"Your training for today will focus on tree climbing. The objectives are to reach the treetop, and to stick to the underside of a branch for a period of five minutes without discomfort. You ar-"

"But sensei! We can climb trees! We learnt it back at the academy already." Sakura said with a voice full of frustration.

Kakashi started again, with a hint of irritation this time, "As I was saying before the interruption, you will learn to climb trees. Without hands."

Pausing to check if his charges' focus was on him, he started towards the closest tree, and continued limping onto the trunk. As he came to the first branch, he changed direction and stuck to its underside. At all times, his hands were firmly by his sides, supporting his crutches.

When Kakashi twisted around to talk to his charges, he saw that Sasuke had already activated his Sharingan and was observing his feet. Good. He thought. Now let's see if Naruto understood the whole point of this 'prank'.

All of them, he found, were gaping at him – no doubt in astonishment. Allowing a chuckle to burst through, he said, "This is exactly what you will learn. Focus chakra in the soles of your feet, and try to cling to the trunk. Your objectives are to make it to the top before sundown."

"That looks cool and all sensei, but how will that help us?" Naruto asked warily.

Sighing, Kakashi replied, "I'm getting to that. This exercise's objective is to help you gain a greater control over your chakra. And that's just a small term benefit. The abilities gained from this exercise are far reaching. But… you don't need to worry about them yet."

"Why do we need to control our chakra? We can already use jutsu and any other we learn, we can learn from our bodies, right?" Sasuke questioned.

"No. If you end up putting a high amount of chakra into a jutsu, the end result will be a weakened form of the original, or it won't work at all" Kakashi corrected. Continuing, he said, "But… you won't be able to just walk up at first. So, you'll take to the trees running. Mark your progress with these, and use the marks as goals to surpass with each attempt." He threw three kunai which landed near the genin's feet.

Limping away from the trees, Kakashi stopped when he reached the stream. Standing opposite of his students, Kakashi barked, "Begin!"

At his word, the genin started their mad dash.

A moment later, Naruto was rolling on the ground clutching his head and moaning in pain. Not enough chakra, hm? Sasuke had reached the middle before the bark cracked under him. Sakura on the other hand…

"This is easy!" She crowed , sitting on a high branch with her feet swinging idly .

Her performance triggered a memory – Iruka's words: She's always been the first one to complete control exercises. During the time I have taught here, I haven't seen another student with as precise a control as hers. Kakashi frowned. While it was good to have suspicions confirmed, she had sounded a tad more arrogant than he liked.

"Well, it looks like Sakura is the one closest to Hokage. And I suppose the Uchiha clan isn't worth much either…" lamented Kakashi, while mentally patting himself in the back for the superb acting.

Looking at his boys share a determined glance made his lips twitch into a small smirk.

Continuing his put-down, he said, "It's good that you reached that high up Sakura, but why are you sitting down? I don't remember permitting a break. Are you that tired already?" Kakashi teased, a knowing grin forming behind his mask as he watched her reaction. He wasn't disappointed. The content smirk on her face changed into a glare directed his way.

As the two of them ran at it again…wait… two? Where was Naruto? Looking around to check for his student, Kakashi spotted him coming towards him. While Sasuke and Sakura were running up their trees, Naruto had slipped back and was coming towards him with a startlingly serious expression on his face. Waiting for his student, Kakashi turned his attention towards the other two. Sakura was already near the top, and Sasuke went three feet higher than his previous mark before slipping.

Naruto chose that moment to speak up, "Kakashi-sensei?" As he focused on the blond, he continued, "It's about Kage Bunshin… I need your advice." Gesturing for the blond to go on, Naruto continued with his lip bit in thought, "You see… I get the whole memory thing, but I don't know how to use it properly."

Mulling over the question for a bit, Kakashi responded, "Well… your clones can only do what you can. For best results, I would try to get a bit higher up the tree, and the use… say, about 10-15 clones. Then, every half hour, dispel the clone that has reached the highest and replace it with a new one. Got it?"

A sharp cry of, "Yes sir!" rang though the clearing. Just as Naruto was about to bolt to try and get higher up, Kakashi stopped him and said, "Not so fast. I need some of your clones to come with me. In my state I need some help protecting the bridge builder and you're the only one with manpower to spare."

Glowing at the unintentional praise, Naruto simply asked, "How many?"

Scratching the back of his head in though, Kakashi replied, "About twenty clones would do."

Naruto, of course, being his usual self, produced thirty. Dryly glancing at the sheepish original, Kakashi said, "And this is why you need to learn tree climbing."

Raising his voice, Kakashi addressed all the clones, "Alright, Clones! Follow me!"

Marching (read: Hobbling) through the woods, Kakashi glanced back to check if the clones were following. The clones were following him in a single file, matching him step for step. A sweatdrop formed at the base of his neck when he compared his absurd situation to that of the fictitious Piper. Now if only he had a flute...

Whistling to pass the time, Kakashi's giggled as his thoughts turned towards the week's agenda. The kids would love it…

It was getting awkward, and he didn't like awkward. About an hour ago, the pretty boy had thanked him for that prank! Him! He was pretty sure that it was the first time that someone had thanked him for playing a prank and it had come from the Uchiha! When he asked why, the raven haired kid coloured and mumbled something about his help in activating the Sharingan. Waving off the gratitude, Naruto was pretty off-balanced. Then he turned all his confusion into energy, which he used for the exercise. But it was a frustrating and fruitless effort, Naruto decided. It had been about two hours since Kakashi-sensei had left, and he hadn't gotten any farther than three feet.

Grumbling about the unfairness of it all, Naruto sat down to think about his options. He would have asked Sakura for tips, but they hadn't talked about what had happened in the morning. Adding to the fact that Sasuke wasn't being a bastard today... hesitation gripping him, he decided he'd just ask the both of them.

Clearing his throat (hem, hem!) to capture their attention, he looked at his teammates and asked a bit sheepishly, "Could you... I need some tips."

Sighing, Sakura and Sasuke shared an exasperated glance. Sasuke looked away quickly, but Sakura it still left cheering in her head about the cuteness of the moment.

Looking back, Sasuke, instead of speaking, merely raised an eyebrow in question while tilting his head sideways. Sakura interpreting it as 'Well? Are you going to tell us? I might go out with you if you do.'

Okay, so maybe the last part was the figment of her imagination, but a girl could dream dammit!

Taking a moment to compose herself, she said succinctly, " Listen up! Since chakra uses mental energy, you can't get too excited. To gather chakra in your feet you have to make sure that your focus is entirely on the tree."

This time it was the boys who shared a glance. Shaking their heads in bemusement, Sasuke merely nodded his thanks and Naruto said enthusiastically, "Thanks Sakura-chan!"

It had been a tiring day for team 7, Naruto decided. The three of them were battered and bruised and exhausted. They were walking by holding each other up.

After following Sakura's advice, Sasuke had made it to the top fairly quickly. Naruto was soon to follow with the regular boosts provided by his Kage Bunshin. Of course, his teammates had been curious, and had asked him about it. Before sundown, all of them were simply expanding their control by sticking to the bark and trying to walk up and down.

There had been but one mishap, and it came right before sundown. It seemed that his clones had come in handy, and instead of being used for sentries, they had been used as manpower to help build the bridge. At the end of the day, the thirty odd platoon that Naruto had dispatched had mass dispelled, and he'd been nursing a migraine ever since.

As they went though the front door and to the sitting room, Kakashi-sensei had been waiting for them and their meal was on the table. Plopping down on their respective chairs, Naruto and his two companions wolfed down their food as fast as possible. Thankfully, Inari hadn't been around to ruin their meal.

When he knew that he would get an answer, Kakashi asked, "So? Did all of you finish?"

Naruto was the one who answer for them all, with food spewing out of his mouth, "Yeah-chomp- Sakura finished -chomp- first -chomp- then Sasuke -chomp- and then me."

Wisely deciding to withhold questions, Kakashi eyed his charges while waiting for them to finish.

A few minutes later, with belly full of chow, his charges were eying him sleepily. Sighing, he decided on briefing about on the coming week tomorrow.

"Alright, to bed everyone. We have a long day tomorrow."

As they shuffled past him, Kakashi went over the training plan he'd drafted for the week. It was perfect. Not only would it help them improve their fighting skills, but they would be pushed to use teamwork. An insane giggle tore its way through his throat. Oh yes, this was perfect...

English translation:

Kekkei Genkai - Bloodline limit

Kage Bunshin - Shadow Replication

Sharingan - Copy Wheel Eye (seriously?)

Sensei - Teacher (or Doctor)

Jiji - Old Man (or Grandfather)

Author's Notes (Cont'ed):

I'll be telling the story from a military point of view. Character and relationship developments between members of Cell 7 is probably going to be the major focus for the next few chapters.

On another note, I crave feedback. Constructive criticism is always appreciated. Flamers are ignored. Fans are adored. I hope that you liked it. Its fine if you didn't, but leave feedback. Tell me why you didn't so I can make the story better.

I need a beta. If anyone is willing and interested, please PM me and I'll go and see about it.

Thanks for tuning in! I'll catch you next time.

Signing out,


P.S. : Bug jamming technique!