Sorry for the long wait, but school really has it in for me these days. Enjoy!
P.S.: It's the same day as in the last chapter.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Chapter 3: Reformation
It was afternoon now. The breeze had died down, and the birds were chirping every now and then. On their way to the Hokage tower Sasuke and Naruto came close behind their sensei. Naruto didn't know about the others, but he wasn't really concerned about Sakura, though that didn't mean he didn't care about the whole matter. He simply didn't want to think too much about her, it hurt. It hurt to realize that she wasn't who he thought she was. It was then that Sasuke spoke up, as they passed through the entrance.
"What's wrong dobe? Are you missing your beloved torturer?" he sneered.
"Shut up, Sasuke-teme! Don't act like you actually know something about people!" Naruto replied angrily.
"I know more than you numbskull can ever hope to comprehend!" he shouted back
"You might want to keep it down you two; our Hokage is in no mood for your ruckus today." Kakashi said, silencing them.
He knocked on said door, and opened in response to the words "come in" they all entered the office.
"You wanted to see us Hokage-sama?" He casually asked, although he already knew the answer.
"Correct, Kakashi. Have a seat everyone." The old leader said, gesturing to a group of three chairs in front of his desk, to the left. They couldn't help but notice the other four chairs to the right, but refrained from asking about them. They sat down, and he continued.
"First of all I have to inform you that Sakura is no longer on your team, nor will she be on any. She no longer serves as a ninja."
"You…you sent her back to the academy, old man?" Naruto asked disbelieving.
"No. I expelled her from the ninja program completely, she is a civilian now." the Hokage said, bracing himself for the reaction.
It didn't come. The blond Genin was stumped. Sasuke just gave a derisive snort, and Kakashi looked down muttering "thought as much". A moment of silence followed, and then it knocked at the door again
"Come in!" The Sandaime called out.
The opening door revealed Kurenai, followed by Kiba, Hinata and Shino. Kakashi greeted his fellow Jonin with a nod, while Naruto was shaken out of his paralyzed state.
"Hey, it's you guys! What brings you here? Hey Hinata-chan, what's up?" He exclaimed, feeling a lot more cheerful immediately.
Once again her cheeks turned pink; as this was the first time he called her like that in public; and in the Hokage's office too!
"Umm…Hello N-Naruto-kun." she murmured, and made her way to sit next to her friend and childhood crush.
Kiba wanted to make another teasing remark, but was shushed by Kurenai. She turned back to their superior.
"Please continue Hokage-sama." she said formally.
Hiruzen nodded and once again explained Sakura's dismissal and the circumstances that brought him to that decision, but most importantly in what situation that leaves team seven. He explained it carefully so that every one of the Genin would understand.
"As you know most missions for Genin teams require a four man cell, composed of three Genin and a Jonin Instructor or sensei. Now while Sakura's attitude was very unbeneficial for a ninja, her dismissal leaves the team considerably weakened, seeing as how important manpower can prove. Also there were no separate Genin to spare and I couldn't simply take a shinobi from another team, since that would leave them weakened, and would defeat the purpose of the action. Do you get the picture?"
Everyone nodded in understanding, and he went on.
"So I have developed a new system that only applies to team seven and eight, and arranges them to work together. In fact, as soon as this system is invoked, there will be no more team 8 and team 7. All of you will be one team." was his rather surprising reply
"So that means we would be a team of five Genin with two senseis? How will this work?" Kurenai asked a bit unnerved, while the kids whispered among themselves.
"Your teams will create a balance together: Team 8 consists mainly of trackers, and team 7 is more suited as an assault team. Kakashi is a Ninjutsu specialist, with adequate Taijutsu skills, while Kurenai excels at Genjutsu. When this new team is formed every one of the Genin can be taught in any of the three great shinobi arts, assuring that they all are able to exploit all of their talents. And since tracking and combat will be quite well balanced, your team will be suitable for a much wider scale of missions, not to mention your various, unique abilities which further add to that point" Hiruzen explained.
"But Hokage-sama, isn't a seven man cell including two Jonin just a little too much for simple Genin missions?" Kakashi pointed out, not sure what to make of this.
"Good point, I already thought of that. When a mission is given to your team the three best suited Genin will head out to accomplish it. If the mission is a particularly difficult one, a Jonin or more Genin will be sent along. The rest of you stay and train with the other Jonin, or both. You have to make sure though that all of the Students spend enough time training together as a whole to familiarize each other's Jutsu and skills, and ensure teamwork. Now, if you have any objections raise your hand" Hiruzen answered.
Naruto and Hinata exchanged heartfelt smiles. The new arrangement meant they could spend more time with each other, train together, and fight by each other's side. Shino and Kiba knew they would need some time to get used to their new teammates, but had no objections. Kurenai and Kakashi also knew that this solution was for the best. Only Sasuke thought for a moment about raising his hand.
I don't need some pathetic trackers to back me up; I can work for two, if not for three! …but it seems I'm outvoted here, and I don't want any unnecessary attention….oh well, fine.
And so he left his arms crossed. The Hokage had noticed Sasuke's arm shifting, as if he wanted to raise his hand, but refrained from doing so. He let it slide, hoping that the Uchiha could eventually warm up to his new team and loose that worrisome attitude of his, bit by bit.
"No objections? Good. Then all of you are named team 8 from now on, since the members of the original team 8 are the majority. You will have your first collective training session tomorrow; you kids have the rest of the Day off. Kakashi, Kurenai; Come back to my office in three hours so we can discuss your new training regiment, until then you may go home. Dismissed." he announced, and returned his attention to the paperwork that piled on his desk. Today was a rather busy day.
The members of the new team 8 turned to leave the office, except for two people. One was Naruto, who seemed to have more to discuss with the Hokage, and the other was Hinata, who seemed to be the only one to notice he wasn't coming with them.
Naruto turned his gaze to meet hers, and paused for a moment.
"Don't worry Hinata-chan. I just have some unfinished business with the old man…how about we celebrate the formation of our new team at Ichiraku's, as soon as I'm done here?" The blonde asked with a foxy grin.
Hinata's face got as pink as it could without turning red as she answered. "I'd l-like that very m-much N-Naruto-kun…"
"Alright Hinata-chan, see you later then…will you be at home?"
"Hai, I-I will be, Naruto-kun. S-See you later." she replied, exchanging another smile with him before turning around and exiting the room. Naruto stared at the closed door a little longer.
"So, what kind of 'unfinished business' do you have with 'the old man'?" the Hokage asked dryly, promptly shaking the only remaining Genin out of his daze.
What surprised him though was the serious look in Naruto's eyes when he spoke.
"Hokage-sama…I want to make a request that…that you give Sakura another chance to become a ninja…" Naruto managed to bring out.
He had finally come out of his Sakura stupor, and held a considerable amount of resentment against her because of her longtime treatment of him despite all his attempts to build a relationship with her. But he also felt that completely and permanently losing her ninja-status was too harsh a punishment for her. He just hoped that she wouldn't be put back on his team if she got her career back. Hiruzen looked thoughtful. As far as he could remember Naruto always referred to him as 'old man', and for him to address him so formally all of a sudden said a lot. Nevertheless he wouldn't go back on his Judgment easily.
"What makes you say that, Naruto? Did Sakura talk you into this?" he inquired.
"No… I just think that her punishment is more than she deserves, so I ask you to at least lessen her punishment, or punish her in another way."
Jeez, I feel like some kinda jurist, rambling about 'punishment' like that… He thought, feeling a bit silly.
After a while of thoughtful silence Naruto heard chuckles echo in the room. He looked up, and saw something he had thought he would never see: The Third was grinning mischievously!
"O-Old ma- Umm I-I mean…Hokage-sama?"
What could that grin mean? Was it a good sign, or a bad one?
"Just call me old man, Naruto, I'm used to that. As for your request about Sakura…well, I have something in mind…"
Naruto recognized his expression as the one someone sports when coming up with a prank or something similar; he knew it all too well. Being someone who enjoyed pranks, he let go of his concerns, and matched his expression.
"I'm listening, old man."
Walking down one of the many shady corridors of the Hyuuga mansion, Hinata's feet made almost no sound at all, as she was nearing her room. On the inside she was ecstatic at the prospect of going out with Naruto, but though it was hard she managed to maintain the stealthy pace, and the quiet exterior she had developed to escape unwanted attention inside the compound. She reached for the handle, when she heard a very faint noise coming from her father's chamber. She instantly knew it wasn't the sound of his normal daily activities, and that something was not right. She was unsure what to do now, as she made a few hesitant steps towards his door. She was afraid of him, afraid of her own father, because of his harsh treatment of her during her clan training, because of his coldblooded words in comparing her to Hanabi, because of him always being the rational and merciless clan head and never a caring father, not since her mother had passed on.
This time however, she overcame the fear that had been etched into her mind since early ages, as she put her ear on the door. Seconds later her eyes widened, and she started quivering upon identifying the noises. She staggered back from the door, turned, and retreated to her room, while a single tear slid down her cheek. She feared him, but he was still her father, and she still loved him. Those sounds that came from his room also reminded her of the darkest time in her life.
You ask what the noises were, that came from behind the locked door? It was the sound of Hiashi Hyuuga weeping on the anniversary of the death of his beloved wife.
Sakura was desperate. When she arrived at home the Anbu had already confiscated the ninja gear she was storing at home, thus informing her parents of her loss of status. They rejected her very presence by yelling at her to not come back, until she found someone to train her. Since then she had been talking to every Jonin sensei she came across throughout the village and training grounds, asking them for training, and everyone turned her down. Almost everyone…when she came across the last sensei and his student, she didn't even talk to them. The Jonin had his shining black hair in a bowl cut, and his eyebrows looked like thick, hairy caterpillars, and the shine of his teeth dazzled her. Not to mention the vivid green of the tight fitting spandex suit
, a crime against any sense of fashion! And those ugly orange legwarmers to top it off. Sakura hated orange! And the student looked the exact same!
There's no way I'll talk to those two weirdoes, they are unskilled creeps anyway. She thought to herself, as she wandered the streets aimlessly.
Of course she wouldn't think that way, if she had seen the Taijutsu spar they had, shortly after she left the training grounds, but that was a moot point.
"Haruno Sakura." Said another voice from behind her!
"Aaah!" She shrieked and whirled around.
DAMMIT! Why do people always sneak up on me like that?
The voice had belonged to an Anbu, who immediately escorted her back to the Hokage's office. What did the old man want this time? He had put her career to an end this very morning, surely that was enough punishment! Or at least…so she hoped.
When she finally stood before him again, she kept her gaze on the floor, awaiting whatever may come.
"You called me back, Hokage-sama?" she mumbled dejectedly.
"Indeed Sakura and I will get straight to the point. I was spoken to on your behalf, and decided to give you another chance at your Ninja career."
"Really? Then I can resume training with team seven again?" She asked hopefully.
"No, I don't think things would go well with returning everything to the old ways, besides, team 7 is disbanded" The old leader having said that, found the girls reaction was easy to predict.
"W-what? But what happens to Sasuke-kun?" she asked franticly.
Thought as much. He exhaled and continued.
"I will not go into the details of how this affects your former teammates and sensei, so to put it simple, they have joined up with team 8 now"
Sakura grabbed her knees and stared quietly at the floor the information sank in, and the Hokage inhaled through his pipe deeply before he went back to the main subject of this talk.
"Now, Sakura, let's go back to your own predicament. A certain Tokubetsu-Jonin will be assigned as your Sensei, to train you and go on missions with you. But For that to happen, you will have to accept another specific shinobi as your superior and master, whose instructions you always have to follow, with exceptions of things forbidden by the Konoha law. If you agree to the contracts terms, sign here." He explained while handing her a document.
She quickly took a pen and scribbled her name on the provided line, not sparing it a second thought. As long as her parents would be satisfied with her, she couldn't care less about anything else…except Sasuke of course.
"Good. Now I want you to go meet your new sensei and receive her instructions. Your training starts tomorrow. You'll get your ninja tools and Hitae-ate back from Iruka at the academy."
"Hokage-sama, just who is my sensei, anyway? And where should I meet her? You said she was female, right?" she wondered out loud.
"The contract explains it all." Hiruzen simply said, trying to suppress a chuckle.
Sakura read the first several paragraphs, until her face lost all color, and she stammered:
"A-Anko Mi-Mitarashi? My Parents warned me of her…!"
She trailed off. If even her new sensei was such a terrifying revelation, what about her new master and direct superior? She read further on. Suddenly her Eyes grew to the size of dinner plates, and her face morphed into a visage of absolute horror.
The name of her master was…
Down below, in the Intel division's department, Ibiki Morino was leaning back in a seat, reading his favorite crime thriller. Suddenly a female scream of utter terror penetrated the normally sound-proof ceiling, from the Hokage's office above.
Staring in wonder at said ceiling he muttered:
"Hiruzen…sometimes I wonder who of us would be the better at interrogator…"
After a few minutes of trying to figure out what the hell had happened up there, he resumed his reading.
Sakura, having almost screamed her lungs out, could only twitch her eyebrow In her catatonic state of mind.
The name of her master was Naruto Uzumaki.
And that's chapter 3, finally. Dont worry about Naruto's and Hinata's Ramen-appointment, that will be in the next chapter, and I promise to make it nice and fluffy ^^
Im looking forward to your reviews, as they are my main source of determination and inspiration for this fic.
Thanks for reading!