Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.


"I heard he killed a teacher."

"Kill? Nah, actually, he stole some scroll from the Hokage."

"No way! That's bullshit! Here's what actually happened…"

Hyuga Hanabi resisted slamming her head against the desk.

Her classmates were talking about HIM again.

The most annoying, insufferable, stupid, noisy, well….one got the picture.

Personally, she didn't have a problem with the boy. Not really.

He left her alone, and she did likewise.

It was just on occasions such as this, when she was trying to finish her homework, they would start talking about him.

"I heard he couldn't do the bunshin technique." Hanabi broke a pencil, looked at it, and reached for another. "Or was it the henge?"

Hanabi snorted at that.

How did her classmate fail the Henge? The boy clearly used it every chance he got. It was one of the annoying aspects about him, not that she would admit it, and it drew in the ire of many of the females in the class. It didn't help that most of the females were at least two to three years younger than him.

"Well, whatever the reason he failed the exam, the point is the guy's an idiot." Hanabi already knew that. Everyone did. Why bring it up? "But one of us is gonna be paired up with him in the next survival exercise."

True, the girl thought. One of them probably would. "Hope it ain't me. Don't want his retardedness rubbing off on me."

Hanabi snorted. Retardedness? Wow. That was original (insert sarcasm). As if these boys weren't retarded enough.

Between Konohamaru, Udon, and that Mo-something, there was enough idiocy to go around. Sighing to herself, the girl pushed off her desk, packed away her homework, and walked out of the room.

As soon as she was out, she heard him. "No! No! No! You do it like this!" Hanabi stopped, then shook her head. Those three were at it again. She wouldn't get sucked into it. Not like last time. "You need more curves! Curves damn you!"

Curves? What the hell. The girl turned to the right, where the voice came from. Not surprisingly, the idiot she was thinking about was there instructing another class idiot on…what? A quick debate told her it wouldn't hurt to check it out, for academic interest of course. She didn't care what they were doing! No personal interest whatsoever.

Slowly, with care, she sneaked behind the group of kids.

With a quick burst of Chakra she activated her Byakugan to get a better look. "Baka! Why are they coming out so fat?"

"I can't help it, Naruto-ni, you said I needed more curves."

"On your chest, you idiot, your chest!" The boy, Naruto, threw his hands into the air. "Okay. Try again."

"Right!" The boy, a brown haired one wearing a giant scarf, made some hand seals. Hanabi recognized it. It was the Henge technique.

Why were they practicing such a basic jutsu?

"Sexy No Jutsu!"

Oh. Dear. Kami. She rubbed her eyes. "This must be a joke." She rubbed her eyes again. "No..it isn't."

Uzumaki Naruto, the TECHNICAL deadlast of the academy was teaching the Hokage's grandson THAT Jutsu. "And why does the chest have to be so big?" She tilted her head in puzzlement. Despite being a genius, the girl was no older than seven. She had been let into the academy early, just like Uzumaki Naruto.

But, unlike Naruto, she was pretty sure she would pass within the next two years.

Knitting her eyebrows together the girl concentrated on the group. "Ni-san, the top's too heavy. How am I gonna fight like this?"

The blond shook his head. "Baka, baka baka." He had a smirk on his tanned face. "You ain't fightin' no one." His smirk grew wider. "You're gonna use your sexiness to win!"

"Sexiness?" The boy touched his/her chest. "Isn't having big melons sexy enough?" The boy looked confused.

The blond seemed to be thinking. It looked strange on him. "Depends who you're fighting." He nodded his head. "Like that Ebisu guy, remember what happened?"

The Hokage's grandson nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah, yeah! You had to yell "Sama!" and then latch onto him-,"

"And I had to use the Harem Jutsu." The blond walked around Konohamaru. "But you can't make more than one clone, so you've gotta improve your appeal."

Appeal? Kami, what kind of strange techniques were they talking about? A part of her wanted to walk out of the bushes to ask, but that wouldn't be Hyuga like. She was no commoner, and she wouldn't associate with such…actually that wasn't true.

Truthfully, the seven year old was pretty shy. Growing up with a shy sister, a father who had a hard time expressing emotions, and an older cousin, who might or might not want to kill her, affected her in interesting ways.

"Naruto-ni, I'm bored!" Hanabi turned to a new voice. Her eyes crinkled. What was her name? Moppy? Moji? It had an M in it. "You promised you were gonna play Ninja with us!"

"Yeah, Uzumaki-san," a boy, with snot coming out of his nose, said. "And then we have to work on our algebra." The boy said the last part with enthusiasm.

"YOU have to work on yer algebra, baka, I've just gotta pass the next Genin exam," Uzumaki Naruto said smugly. "Three more months and I can try again."

"That's not fair, Naruto-ni," the girl said, Hanabi noticed the orange hair this time, what was her name again? "How come you get to do the exam before us?"

"Cause I'm awesome like that," Naruto answered. "….plus I was actually supposed to pass the last exam technically…should have shown Iruka the Kage Bunshin technique when we were fighting Mizu-" The boy closed his mouth.

He look both ways, trying to see if anyone heard him.

"Trying to fight who, Naruto-san?" Snot nose asked.

"Nothing. Forget I said that." The boy looked nervous. He was hiding something. Her Byakugan was good at detecting emotions. "So, er, how about that ninja game?"

That seemed to distract the three kids, and they started hiding, while Naruto counted to twenty. "Something's not right about Uzumaki Naruto," Hanabi mumbled. "If he can do a clone technique, then why in the world is he still in the academy?"

The mystery of WHY Uzumaki Naruto failed the test a fourth time kept getting stranger.

Naruto sighed and leaned against a tree. He had five minutes to himself, five minutes before he needed to find Konohamaru and the gang. He liked them, dear lord he liked them, but sometimes they could be a handful. Sometimes, well, most of the time, he felt more like a babysitter than a friend.

The kids were great company, he would give them that, but they were far from mature. "Still, better than the teme." True, they were. They didn't insult, or look down on him. In fact, they showed just the opposite.

"Four more minutes to go." He looked at his watch, then looked at the sky. "Let's see…Konoha is probably hiding behind the Ramen shop, Moegi at the Dango stall, and Udon…sonnovabitch, that kid'll be hard to find."

Out of all the brats, Udon was tricky. He used his head, and was unpredictable. Konohamaru would wait out wherever there was food, and Moegi did not have the endurance to travel very far. But Udon, the snot nosed punk, always chose a different place. It did not help that occasionally some older kids found the shrimp, and proceeded to beat the $%$%& out of him.

He sighed. "Better find the kid before someone else does." He glared at the sun. "Damn you! Why do you gotta be so hot." Trudging through Konoha in an orange jacket, on a sunny day, was not his cup of tea. Not that he drank tea or knew what it was.

He got up, dusted his orange pants, took off his orange jacket, wrapped it around his waist, and headed off to search for his juniors. "Now if I were Udon where would I hide?" Udon liked math, books, and tissue paper. "Better start with the school."

Naruto cleared the distance between himself and the academy. He frowned at the site. If only he had used the Kage Bunshin to fight Mizuki. But nooooo! He had to do it the 'sneaky' way, and now look where it got him. Even Iruka was embarrassed at the incident, much to the Hokage's amusement.

He growled thinking about that day. Kami. What a farce! They had shipped off the teams way before Iruka realized he had mastered the Kage Bunshin, and he had to wait for the next cycle before he could get sorted.

The only upside was he now knew about the 'true genin exam.'

Good old Kiba never could keep his mouth shut.

All he had to do was show his potential sensei that he could work in a team, and, presto, he would be a fully licensed genin!

Now if only he could find that damned gaki.

"Naruto, is that you?" The blond froze; that voice sounded familiar. "Naruto, I'm behind you."

"I knew that." He didn't, but it wasn't like he was going to admit it.

"Behind the door, open the door." Naruto turned around. Sure enough there was an office door. He scratched his head, and pushed it open.

"Iruka sensei?"

"Naruto?"

The boy looked around. It was a small office room. There were books, papers, and a few utilities nearby. "What is this?"

"This is my office." Iruka pointed to a stack of sheets. "I do my grading here."

Naruto nodded, not really interested. "I seeee."

Iruka frowned. "Naruto, what are you doing here?"

"Pardon?"

"School's out."

Naruto's light bulb clicked. "Oh, yeah, right." Uzumaki Naruto was not known to stay after school, if he didn't have detention that is. "I was lookin' for Udon."

Iruka didn't look surprised. "Playing Ninja again?"

Naruto nodded. "Gotta find some way to kill time before the next exam."

Iruka agreed. The boy really needed to find some kind of hobby. Three months was a long time away. Hopefully his classmates wouldn't be entered in the next Chunin Exam. Iruka didn't want Naruto to be left behind, not that far; not when he had friends in that group of kids.

An idea struck the man. "Naruto, how much time do you have?"

"Huh?"

Iruka thought about wording. "I mean, can you delay finding Udon, because I can really use help grading these tests."

Naruto looked down. It was multiple-choice, and seemed simple enough. "I don't know." He narrowed his eyes. "What's in it fer me?"

Iruka knew the boy would ask this: same old predictable Naruto. "Well, since it is PARTLY my fault that I didn't sort you-"

"PARTLY!"

"Okay, okay, calm down. I didn't know, you never used the Kage Bunshin, so what was I supposed to think?"

Naruto put his hand on his mouth. Every cell in his body wanted to scream at the older man. With great willpower, he fought it down. "Okay. I'm cool. I'm cool." He took another breath.

"I'm not gonna shout, that's not gonna help me any." Iruka nodded. Naruto's temper as of late was getting worse. Oh boy, and he could understand why. If he were in the boy's situation…he didn't want to think about it. "Anyway, take a seat and count up the correct answers."

Naruto nodded and helped his sensei tally up marks. Halfway through the grading Naruto decided to voice a question that had been bugging him. "Sensei, why the heck did I get sent back three grades?"

This was an awkward topic. "I didn't want to take a chance."

"Come again?"

How was he supposed to explain this without getting the blond really, really pissed. "Naruto, you noticed how I treated you during your early days?"

Naruto glared at him, but only for a fraction. "Yeah, I do." The two looked away.

"Well, after you guys graduated I got a new class, and, well, I thought maybe you'd rather be in my class than…" He let those words hang.

"I see." Naruto said softly. He really did.

In the past, academy teachers treated him badly.

He could count the number of fair teachers on one hand.

No. He could count it on one finger! He clenched his fist, and went back to marking. Not fair!

So very unfair.

Life. It sucked. It sucked so damn hard.

"Naruto…"

Why him? Why! Out of all the babies in the village, why did the Yondaime pick him?

"Naruto your hand…"

He hated this! His life was $%$%$%* because of his hero; the man he looked up to.

"I'll get the bandages."

Naruto's thoughts stopped. He felt something trickle. The boy looked down, saw his hand, and frowned. He waited a moment, then another, and another. Iruka eventually came back with a fresh set of bandages and wrapped it around his hand.

After an intense moment, the scarred Chunin decided to speak. "I'm sorry Naruto."

"It's fine."

"It's not."

"No, it's fine." He forced a smile. "Don't worry about it."

"If I was a better teacher from the start."

"Stop…"

"If I didn't hate you from the start.."

"Stop."

"Naruto, please, let me make it up to-"

"STOP!" The boy stood up as he said this, and blanked at the man's surprised face. "I…you don't owe me anything." He looked at his bandaged hand. "And the Kage Bunshin was a fluke."

Iruka wouldn't have any of this. "No, Naruto, you learning the Kage Bunshin taught me one thing."

Naruto winced and looked up. He had never heard his sensei sound so serious.

"Naruto, you aren't a failure." The man seemed to have a hard time saying the last part, but he needed to get it out. " I am."

"Iruka-sensei-,"

"And I'll make it up to you, Naruto." He reached out and held the boy's hand. "This time I'll really be your sensei."

Naruto felt tears build up. He held it back, he would not cry, not now, and not in front of the man he respected.

"So what do you say, Naruto?" He knelt down on one knee. He was at eye level with the boy. "Would you give me one more chance?"

His reply was a sobbing, wailing, nasal dripping weight tackling him to the ground. "Iruka senseiiiiiiii!"

While Iruka patted Naruto's back, as he cried into his vest, Udon watched the scene through the gap left from the office door,with tears, nasal fluids, and sweat pouring to the floor.

'WAHHHHHHH, Naruto-ni-san's got such a sad life!'

Udon is gonna need more tissue paper

"So you're chasing a cat?" Naruto asked.

"Trying to, key word is try." The pony tailed boy stopped trying long ago. It didn't matter anymore. After Ino had spotted Sasuke the entire project was a bust. "Besides, if we were chasing the cat, we couldn't be talking to you."

Naruto shrugged. He couldn't complain. It wasn't like he had anything better to do, aside from practicing the Chakra training exercises Iruka had given him. "Where is Chouji anyway?"

"He's getting the chips." The Nara had given his friend the cash. They decided not to ask Naruto for money, mostly because they had enough between the two of them. Also, Naruto was an orphan, and most orphans didn't have the currency they did.

"What'll your teacher do if he sees you lounging around?" Naruto didn't know anything about having a Jounin teacher, but he was pretty sure he or she would not approve. "Isn't he going to get angry?"

The dark haired youth pointed to a man sleeping by a tree. He had a large beard, a large body, and a standard Jounin uniform.

"Never mind," Naruto mumbled. If only Iruka was like that. Since last week the man had been persistant in helping Naruto train.

"So how are the brats?"

"What brats?"

He knew perfectly well who Shikamaru was talking about, but he wanted to clear which ones. It wasn't just Konohamaru and his crew he hanged with after all.

"The Hokage's grandson."

"He's alright," Naruto said. "Pretty good kid, a little annoying, but he ain't bad."

"That's not what I heard." The boy yawned. "My dad said he was trouble."

"How would your dad know?"

"He ran into Ebisu."

"Eh, that explains it." Naruto folded his arms. "That guy's trouble, I tell ya."

"How so?"

"He keeps telling the brat that he's got a short cut to being a Kage." Naruto frowned at this. "That's stupid."

Shikamaru shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe he does. Ever seen what he's trying to teach the kid?"

Naruto nodded. "Same thing Iruka seems to be tryin' ta teach me."

"Chakra control exercise?"

"Yep."

The Nara smiled. It seemed like Naruto was progressing, which was strange because his team didn't seem to be progressing. Naruto had been doing something called the Tree Climbing exercise, and he would have to do some Leaf Concentrating exercises tomorrow.

What were they, his team, doing? "Shikamaru! Help me get Sasuke-kuuunnn!" The boy shuddered.

"Hey, Ino!" Naruto waved. "How ya doing!"

The blondette stopped. "Naruto, what are you doing here?"

"Can't a guy visit his friends?"

Ino sighed. "We're not friends."

"We could be if ya let me."

"Why would I do something so suicidal?" Ino smirked.

"Hey! I ain't that bad!"

"Yeah, right. I've seen the way you chase after Sakura," Ino commented. "And I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."

"Isn't Sakura your worst enemy?"

"Rival. There is a difference."

Naruto didn't understand, but shrugged regardless. Far be it for him to work out her mind. He didn't care, and he didn't want to delve too into this. "So how long is Chouji gonna take to get back?"

"Not sure," Shikamaru said.

"Not sure?"

"Depends if he takes a lunch break."

"Or a mid lunch break," Ino supplied.

"Or an after-lunch break," their teacher grumbled.

"Guys, shouldn't he be, I don't know, training you?" Naruto asked.

"Probably," Shikamaru admitted. "Should we ask him?" He turned to Ino.

"Don't look at me, I need you guys to distract Sakura while I go after Sasuke-kun."

"What are they doing again?" Naruto had seen them chase another cat, only that one looked more frilly from the one Team 10 was going after.

"Capture Tora."

"Eh?"

"Basically it's a waste of time." Ino looked annoyed. "Are you two going to help me or not!"

"No." They both said in unison.

"Fine!" She huffed, turned around, and walked toward Team 7.

"Bitch," Naruto muttered.

Shikamaru agreed, not that he would say it. "So, about those brats?"

"Yeah, yeah. " Naruto got up, dusted off his pants, and looked toward the academy. "I've gotta go play Ninja with'em now."

"Again?"

"Twice a day, five days a week." The Uzumaki knew he needed better friends. At least more friends his own age, but, to be frank, Team 10 was the only team that seemed to have down time.

"Couldn't you, I don't know, visit Kiba's team or something?"

Naruto frowned. "They're actually training."

"You COULD ask to train with them," the Nara supplied.

"You think she'd let me?"

"Have you tried asking?"

"It's hard! Have you seen their sensei?"

Team 10's teacher seemed to perk up. "Did someone mention Team 8's sensei?"

Naruto and Shikamaru jumped slightly. They were pretty sure he was sleeping. "Um, yeah, I did?" Naruto looked at the Nara, asking him 'wtf?'

"What do you want with Kurenai anyway?"

"Nothing, really, I just wanna know if she'd let me practice with her team." Naruto grumbled.

"Why would you want to do that?" Team 10's Jounin asked.

"Why not! I don't want to get left behind!" There was heat in his voice.

"Whao! Calm down, Naruto, you're not going to be left behind." The bearded man seemed to consider what to say. "We don't do much personal training outside of the Academy."

"Seriously?" Naruto asked.

"Really…just look at my team."

"But you've got the laziest team!"

"We resent that…sort of." The Shadow user didn't find any point arguing this.

"Yes, but what we lack in effort we make up for with team work," the elder man beamed.

Naruto looked at Ino trying to win over Sasuke, then to a stall at a distance where Chouji was pigging out, then back to Shikamaru who just looked at the two blankly. "Riiiighht, I think I definitely see the team work." Stupid Jounin! Why couldn't he pass? He would put way more effort than these three! "I think I'll just stick to Kurenai sensei."

"What is she teaching anyway?" the man asked. He looked genuinely curious.

Naruto shrugged. "Don't know, some kind of tracking jutsu."

"Hmm, that seems about right."

"But my Jutsu can track way better!"

The man smiled. "Yes, of course, Naruto, of course it can."

"I'm serious!"

"I am too." The smile didn't leave his face. "But maybe you should get back to the academy? My nephew is probably waiting for you to get back."

Naruto grumbled. "I do too have an awesome Jutsu, I just was told not to show it to everyone."

"Sure you do, Naruto."

Naruto sighed. "Alright gotta go."

He looked at the academy, at Chouji who was coming back with food, then sighed to himself. "Just a couple more months."

Then he would be a Genin!

Naruto walked into the classroom. "Yo, boss iz in da house!"

Instantly his underlings looked at his direction. "Naruto-ni!" they called in unison.

"How's it been?"

"Okay, I guess," Konohamaru answered.

"Kinda boring,"Moegi chirped.

"Not enough homework." Udon got punched after saying that.

"Baka!" Moegi screeched.

"Oi, oi! No need for violence." Naruto immediately grabbed the girl's hand.

Moegi looked embarrassed. "Sorry, habit."

"Not a good one ta have kiddo," Naruto replied.

"But you let that Sakura girl do it to you all the time!" she whined.

Naruto had no response to that. He DID let Sakura hit him, but she was...Sakura-chan? He needed a better reason. "Yeah, about that…"

"Sakura's Naruto-ni's main squeeze!" the younger Sarutobi shouted.

"Well, I don't mean to brag or anything but-"

"She called Naruto a loser," Udon supplied.

"And bad because he's supposed to be an orphan." Moegi didn't understand that part.

Naruto stopped. "Whah…what did she say?"

The kids looked at each other. "Oh, you didn't hear?"

"Hear what?"

"Well, this is awkward." Konohamaru scratched the back of his head.

"Konoha, what did I say about keeping secrets from me?"

"Nothing actually."

Naruto recalled any talks he had with the brats. He didn't mention this. "Never mind, what did Sakura-chan say?" He looked eager.

The kids, once again, looked at each other. "Well it's just a rumor," Moegi said cheerfully.

"It's probably not even true," Konohmaru reasoned.

"And the only witness was one of Uchiha Sasuke's fangirls," Udon added.

Naruto frowned. "I only asked what did she say."

"Yeah, I'm not sure you'd like hearing what she said." Konohamaru didn't like the idea of Naruto-ni beating the shit out of him.

"I don't want you to be sad, Naruto-boss," Moegi added.

"I bruise easily," Udon finished.

"Guys…please?"

As Naruto tried to get information out of his so called underlings, a little girl had to listen to this. This girl was getting extremely annoyed at the conversation, and, more importantly, she wanted to join in.

She knew the answer, and she would easily give Uzumaki Naruto the information he wanted.

It wasn't like it was a particularly important rumor. In fact, most had forgotten about it. See, during the day of Academy Graduation, right after they had been assigned their team meetings, Sakura had approached Uchiha Sasuke.

At some point Sakura mentioned something about Uzumaki Naruto's character, stating he was bad because, quote, "He has no parents."

Yes. Hanabi had to sweat drop at that too.

"Oh, look, I hear Iruka sensei!"The scarf-wearing boy took an escape.

"Yeah, I hear him too…I better ask him if he needs help with those stacks of papers."

Naruto turned to the final member. "I bruise easily, please don't hurt me."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Fine, if you guys won't tell me, I'll ask someone else."

Hanabi had a strong urge to raise her hand like they were in class. She always liked getting the answer right, and what better way to make contact with Uzumaki Naruto then telling him that his crush said….never mind.

That would be a horrible first meeting.

Still, as he sat down on his chair, Hanabi had to think of something. No matter how many plans she came up with, how many times she had tried to approach the group, nothing seemed to be working. How hard could it be to say 'hi' to a group of children anyway? Never mind that she, herself, was also a child.

She pouted and looked at the board. Stupid Uzumaki! Making this so darn difficult for her! She should just give up on solving the mystery of why he was here in the first place.

"So class we are going to go over Chakra training exercises again, or at least the theory behind it, please turn to page…" Hanabi did so, and the rest of the class tuned out the teacher.

Chakra training was easily the most boring part of the day. It involved memorizing some simple exercise that would make Chakra moves slightly more efficient. She doubted anyone would try it at home, simply because the Bunshin, Kawarami, and the Henge didn't require a lot of Chakra to start with.

Why work more than you had to?

"Oi, Iruka sensei, can you repeat what you said about the water walking thing?"

Iruka turned around. "Oh! Don't worry, that won't be on a test, I just wanted to mention that there are higher forms of Chakra Training Exercises other than the Leaf and Tree Walking."

"Yeah, but I wanna know the Water Walking!" Naruto whined.

Hanabi rolled her eyes. She doubted he could do the Tree Walking, let alone this one.

To her surprise, Iruka didn't share that opinion. He sighed, "Alright." He turned to the class. "By the way, this won't be on a test." Then he went on with explaining the theory behind Water Walking.

Hanabi, unlike the rest of her classmates, actually copied it down. Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon seemed to be following their boss, though Konohamaru and Moegi didn't seem to be getting anything out of it. Udon did, considering how smart he was, but Hanabi doubted the nerd had the Chakra control to pull it off.

"Hold on! Hold on!" Naruto said, getting annoyed stares from the rest of his class. It was pretty funny seeing the only twelve year old acting like he was eight. "So I gotta do what to make it work?"

Iruka didn't look annoyed. "You have to make sure you send a constant flow of Chakra, while adjusting to the surface, and If you stop for even a moment, you'll fall."

"How is that different from Tree Walking?"

Hanabi snorted. It wasn't even close!

Oddly enough, Iruka just smiled. "Well, once again class this isn't on any exam, but it goes a little something like this…"

"Naruto? What are you doing?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

"We know you've been watching us." A boy who resembled a dog jumped off a tree.

"Naruto-ni's been trainin' on his own, dogboy!" Moegi shouted.

"So leave him alone," the Hokage's grandson said.

"Or else." Udon wiped his nose with a napkin.

Kiba sighed and looked at his sensei. "I found him."

A second later a tall woman, wearing an odd, stripped cut-off kimono, followed suit. "Naruto?"

"Ahh, yeah, that's my name."

"Naruto-kun?" a shy voice asked.

"It seems Uzumaki has been the one all along." The bug user shrugged. "I told you."

"For the last time, I'm not doing anything."

"Then why is that boy with the scarf writing down our training logs?" Kurenai recognized Asuma's nephew.

"I don't know, he's weird like that." Naruto shrugged.

"And why is that girl wearing binoculars?" Kiba asked.

"Naruto-kun, you've been watching us." Hinata tapped her fingers together.

The blond sighed. "Why would I do that?"

Kurenai sighed as well. "Why wouldn't you?"

"Seems like something you'd do," Kiba said.

"Certainly something he would do," Shino finished.

Naruto looked for an exit. "And why would I do that?"

"Because you always wanna learn more Jutsu," Kiba deadpanned. "You've always been like that."

"Even when you couldn't do the basic Bunshin." Shino didn't understand his blond classmate.

"Naruto-ni can do a clone!" Konohamaru protested.

"Yeah, Naruto-boss, show'em," Moegi added.

"Guy's I can't just show that jutsu." He scratched the back of his head. "It's kinda important that no one knows about that."

"Ha, I knew it! Liar!" Kiba never believed in Naruto.

Kurenai decided to put a stop to this. "Okay, Uzumaki, you've been caught. Now tell us why you've been spying on us train."

"Grumble grumble."

"Wha't's that?"

"I said I just wanted to see how you did those Chakra training excercises."

Kurenai looked at a tree. "You mean the Tree Climbing?"

"Heck no! I've been Tree Climbing for the past week, I wanted to see how you do the Water Walking." Naruto pointed at the Hyuga. "She's doin' it."

Hinata blushed. Her crush was paying attention to her.

"Naruto, you don't have the Chakra training to pull it off," Kurenai said.

"I do too!"

"You do not."

"I do-,"

"Naruto, do I look like I'm going to argue with you?" The teacher glared at the boy.

Naruto sighed and looked dejected. "Fine, but, if you don't mind, can I just sit there and watch you?"

The teacher smiled. "You should have just said so in the first place."

"You would have actually let me?" Naruto seemed surprised.

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Because of your secret training?"

Secret Training? Kurenai hadn't heard that in a long time. She was pretty sure there was no such thing in the Jounin Cell system. It was a pretty open concept. Anyone from another team could watch them train. It was just a huge waste of time, that's all, as they would only do the basic of training, such as Chakra exercises.

Students were encouraged to study moves on their own spare time, or get another teacher to teach it too them. If every sensei was assigned to privately tutor their cell squads, that would just be unfair. For example, if Hatake Kakashi was allowed to teach privately every one of his Jutsu, said student would easily dominant the others.

To even out the playing field the Jounin instructors were only allowed to teach what was readily accessible and certainly nothing forbidden. Though certain Jounin seem to go past that rule, but for good reason of course, as was the case with Maito Gai and a few others.

"Do you really know how to do Tree Climbing?"

"Of course I do!"

"Who taught you?"

Naruto looked at Kurenai like she were stupid. "Iruka sensei of course."

"Iruka?"

"Yeah, my Chunin School teacher."

That didn't surprise her, but Naruto actually listened to him? Noone, not even Kiba, paid attention to the Instructors. "Alright, Uzumaki, I'll give you one shot." She pointed to a tree. "Walk up that."

The blond looked determined. "Just walk?"

"Walking is harder than running."

Naruto frowned because that was true. "Then you'll let me practice Water Walking with Hinata-san?"

Kurenai thought about that. Should she? "I'll certainly think about it."

"Kurenai sensei! I thought we were gonna beat up the spy!" Kiba protested.

"I don't think we ever agreed to that," Shino pointed out.

"I don't want to hurt Naruto kun."

"Get your hands off Naruto-ni," Moegi shouted.

"And what are these brats doing with him anyway?" Kiba asked.

"Hey, back off dog breath."

"Or what?" Kiba smiled.

Naruto glared. "Or I'll beat your ass."

Naruto tried to keep an eye on the brats while he trained. He didn't want Kiba to pick on them. "Oi, dogboy, leave Konoha alone!"

Kiba looked back. "What the hell?"

"His name, asshole, his name!"

"His name's Konoha?"

"That's Konohamaru to you!" The Hokage's grandson didn't like Naruto's shortened version, but it was less of a mouthful. "And why are you bothering us anyway?"

"I'm not, I just wanna make sure Naruto doesn't try anything on Hinata."

"Why would he do that?" Moegi asked.

"Why wouldn't he?" Kiba growled.

"No, seriously, I don't get it either." Naruto shook his head.

"Forget it, just do what you always do." Kiba knew of Hinata's feelings, and he didn't want Naruto to take advantage of it. "I'm just gonna sit there and watch."

"Suit yourself," Naruto said, shrugging. "Just don't hurt anyone here."

"Why would I hurt these brats?"

"Cause they are about as strong as you."

"Says the guy who failed the academy test."

"Those tests were rigged and you know it."

"No they weren't!"

"Well, maybe not, but to me it kinda was." Naruto didn't want to explain his strange situation. "Besides I'll be graduating in the next few months. "

"And by then we'll be Chunin," Kiba said. He smirked at the blond's glare. "What? Jealous?"

"You shouldn't bait Naruto-kun like that, Kiba-kun."

"Na, that's cool Hinata-san," Naruto said. He turned back to the dogboy. "And how do you know Kurenai sensei is gonna send you to the exam anyway?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean your teacher is the one who determine whether or not you get to participate."

"How do you know that?" Kiba was confused. How did Naruto, the deadlast, know that. Not even he, Kiba, knew that.

Naruto smirked. "I listen to Iruka's lectures now."

"You serious?" This was new.

"Of course, now that I actually stay in class I'm learning a lot."

"Like what? History?" Kiba hated those classes.

"Haha, very funny."

"Seriously, what is there to learn?"

"Chakra Theory for one." Naruto channeled Chakra through his body and tried again.

"Looks like you're going to fall Naruto-baka."

"At least I can do this!"

"Only because you've been doing this before we have."

"Hey, not my fault your teacher didn't show this to you sooner."

"Well, we were busy with our missions, Naruto kun," Hinata said.

"What's that?"

Hinata crawled into her jacket. She started mumbling.

"Hinata, I can't hear you."

"Yeah, Hinata san, Naruto-ni can't hear you."

"And can someone get rid of your underlings! It's really annoying!"

"What? They aren't doing anything."

"They keep bothering me!" Kiba was getting frustrated with them.

"How?"

"That Hokage brat keeps throwing spitballs at me when he thinks I'm not looking."

Naruto frowned. He turned to the scarf-wearing boy. "Is that true?"

"What? He's makin' fun of you, boss."

"Yes, but his teacher's nice enough to help me train."

"She hasn't taught you anything, boss!"

That was true as well. Unlike Hinata, Kurenai never gave him any pointers. The best he could hope for was to get info out of Hinata. That, by itself, was hard enough. The kids seemed to be getting a better job getting her to talk, but, for some odd reason, she always fainted when he got too close.

"Kurenai ain't your teacher, Naruto, so don't expect anything from her."

Naruto knew that. He was just glad he could see Water Walking in action. He didn't get how Hinata kept doing that. He figured he would have to ask Iruka in their next class. "Oi, dogboy, let's race up the tree."

Kiba smirked. "You're on."

The two lined up side by side. "Any wagers?"

"What? Why the hell would I do that?" Kiba knew he was at a disadvantage. He didn't constantly train like Naruto. How the blond managed to do that, he just didn't understand. Did he have some kind of monster stamina?

"What? You chicken?"

"No, just not stupid."

"The heck you talking about? You're as smart as me."

"Given you aren't SMART to start with, that amounts to zero." Kiba knew their test scores were close to even.

"Are you guys going to race or what?" Konohamaru shouted.

"Yeah. Yeah. Just give Kiba a minute to decide."

" I don't got a problem racing, Uzumaki, I just don't want to bet."

"Fine."

Right before the race could start, however, someone interrupted them. "Kiba, Kurenai sensei says its your turn."

"What?"

Shino looked at him blankly. "She wants to check your stances."

"Oh, yeah." Kurenai looked at their individual forms every single day. She wanted to make sure they were correct.

"Hey! What about our race?" Naruto asked.

"Race?" Shino asked.

"Yeah, I was gonna whoop his ass at Tree Climbing."

Shino tilted his head. "That seems hardly fair. Kiba has only been at this for two days."

"And you for the last week," Moegi added. She shook her head. "That seems sort of unfair to me too, Naruto ni."

"You're supposed to be on my side."

Shino stared at Naruto for a bit. "However, Hinata, and I, might join in."

Naruto froze. "What?"

"We've been doing this much longer."

Hinata glowed. "I've been doing this for years."

Naruto frowned. "Sooo"

"The race is on."

Shino let a few bugs out.

Naruto smirked. "Bring it."

"Naruto ni, we believed in you!"

"We trusted you!"

"And you let us down. My calculations said you would, but still…"

"Shut up!" Naruto shouted.

"And now you've lost your awesome orange jacket."

"What'll you do now, Naruto-boss?"

"Statistically you're better off without it."

"Didn't you guys hear what I just said?"

The three looked at each other. "We heard you, boss," Moegi answered. "We just want to know how you plan to win your orange jacket back?"

Naruto looked at Moegi critically. "I don't know, do you have any idea?"

The orange haired girl looked at Hyuga Hinata. She had won the orange jacket off their boss. That was the wager. Whoever lost would lose their jacket, and, surprisingly, the Hyuga put a lot of effort into this Tree Racing match.

"You can always win it back from her?" Konohamaru suggested.

"Probably," Naruto said, "but I want it back now."

"You'll live with out it," Udon said dryly.

"Besides, now you have a reason to keep coming back here," Moegi pointed out.

The blond paused. That was true. Now he could come back again and again, until he won his orange jacket back from his odd classmate. His eyes slowly trailed toward it, and he frowned. The girl was really holding onto it tight. She must love orange as much as he did. Was she smelling it too? Why was her face turning red? No matter. One of these days he would get his orange jacket back.

That was a promise. "Shino, I lost didn't I?"

"Affirmitive."

"And I have to train more, don't I?"

"Yes."

"Then tomorrow…"

"We can have another race, " he finished for Naruto.

"Would that be okay for you two?"

Shino looked at Hinata, who was still clutching onto Naruto's orange jacket. "I'm certain it will." It will give Naruto more time to win his jacket back. Shino didn't want to see that eye sore so close to him.

"Great." Naruto rubbed the back of his head. "By the way, do you guys want supper?"

Hinata perked up. She looked up from the orange jacket, toward his face. "Naruto kun is asking us out?"

"Yeah," Naruto said, sounding confused. "Why wouldn't I?"

"To a restaurant?" Hinata asked, her face blushing.

"That's usually where you as your friends out." Naruto turned to Shino. "Shino, there is something seriously wrong with her."

"There isn't."

"You sure?"

Shino raised his eyebrow. "You really don't know, do you?"

"I'm getting tired of people telling me that."

"And they'll probably keep telling you that until you figure it out." Shino bent down, allowed a few more insects to crawl up his sleeves, then dusted his knees.

"So should I get Kiba?"

Shino looked at him blankly, though he always did that. "What do you think?"

Naruto snorted and turned away. Soon his underlings were behind him, along with Hinata, to Naruto's great surprise. He had the suspicion that the girl hated him. Why else would she faint when he was around? Why else would she turn red? Maybe she hated him so much she burned with anger and passed out. What did he do to deserve so much malice from her anyway? This would probably need research in the near future, if he was going to come back that is.

"Oi, doggy, you ready?"

Kiba stopped showing Kurenai his stances. "Go away, bastard."

"Alright, but you're going to miss supper."

The fanged boy dropped his stance. "Wait, what?"

Naruto smirked. "We're going out to eat." Naruto pulled out his wallet. "My treat."

Kiba looked at his sensei. "Sensei, is it okay if-"

Kurenai frowned. "Kiba, you haven't shown me all of your form."

Kiba looked sheepish. "Sorry."

"But….if you are asking me if I should let you off early." The teacher looked up to Naruto, who didn't seem to care either way. "Then fine."

"Really?"

"I suppose this counts for team bonding."

"Of course it does," Naruto said, nodding. "Plus, it'll be a lot of fun."

"Yeah, what Naruto ni said."

"You're awesome Naruto boss."

"I still think we should be doing our homework."

Naruto didn't understand the last part, but didn't question it. Regardless how strange his group of friends were, they were his group of friends. Who knew failing the exam woud result to this? He certainly didn't. He had traded respect of Genin status for a group of brats who followed his every move. True. He wasn't any closer to being the kage, but every day his need to become one seemed to lessen and lessen the more times he was around these brats.

"Can you hurry up, Kiba?"

"Just another minute, asshole!"

"Naruto, have patience." Kurenai scowled. "You should be glad I'm letting him go at all."

Naruto looked down. "Sorry, sensei."

"It's okay, Naruto, I just want you to know that-" She looked up. "What was that?"

"Huh?" Naruto didn't get it.

Kurenai looked from side to side. "I thought I sensed something." She glared at a nearby tree. "Or someone…"

"Don't look at me, I was here all along." Naruto chuckled a bit. Had Kurenai sensei seen IT? That thing he had been hiding.

"Well, in any case…" She trailed off. "I think I'm going to need to talk to some people."

"Sure thing, Kurenai sensei," Kiba said, putting his back pack on. "See ya tomorrow!"

Hinata and Shino seemed to greet her too. "It was another productive day, sensei."

"Good bye, Kurenai sensei."

"Good bye to you too, Hinata, Shino…" She paused to say the last. "And you to Naruto…and you children as well."

"Good bye!" the three said in unison.

"And now we're off to Ichiraku Ramen!" Naruto said standing behind his underlings.

"And you're paying!" Konohamaru shouted.

"And Konohamaru is going to help me pay!"

"Yeah –what?"


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