AN: Hello everybody! Do I need to dodge anything deadly or grovel for a while for not updating for so long? Don't answer that. Anyway, I'm not going to go on (for long) giving excuses about why I haven't updated in so long. Suffice to say…shit happens. To be honest, it's still happening but what you gonna do? I decided that, although this chapter is shorter than usual, I needed to actually get it out there or I wouldn't be able to for ages. I did include a short omake at the end of it to make up for things. Hope you enjoy it.
Anyway, what am I doing wasting your time here? You didn't come for me, you came for the story, which is down there, so get to reading it already.
(WARNING, ADVANCING PLOT)
The Start of Something New
Click. Click. Click. Clack.
The noise of lacquered shogi pieces being moved around on the board was the only sound that pervaded the Hokage's office.
"Good move," Hiruzen commented. Fox inclined his head, grateful of the compliment.
"Do you remember the time that you and I were on the opposite sides of the same mission?" the Hokage asked, reminiscing about early times.
Fox snorted, loudly. "Same mission my ass. You just wanted to get away from the paperwork!"
Hiruzen chuckled. "True enough, although I may actually have preferred doing the paperwork to guarding that arrogant prick."
"Your efforts certainly did make my job a lot harder," Fox confirmed, as brief smugness entered his tone.
"Bah," Hiruzen exclaimed. "You won anyway. Ivan 'the Butcher,' slain by your hand."
Fox nodded, thinking back fondly of the one time where he comprehensively defeated the Professor.
"I always did wonder though, why were you guarding him in the first place?"
The Hokage shrugged. "Ivan was slated for termination. And I needed someone competent to become the new Fox. What better way to test the potential leader of the ANBU department than to pit him in a battle of wits between leader of the village himself?"
"I'm glad I passed muster," Fox said sarcastically.
The Professor chuckled. "You were good kid, real good, but after all those failed attempts I was beginning to wonder if I would have to finish the job off myself. Then all of a sudden Ivan just drops down dead. I never did understand how you did it, it just happened."
"I admit, by that time I was clutching at straws," Fox confessed. "You prevented everything I threw at him, be it poison, knife or explosives. Hell, you even found the explosive notes in the toilet."
"I also found when you switched the vegetable oil with peanut oil. Clever trick that, trying to use his peanut allergy to do him in, leaving the taste testers none the wiser. Too bad it didn't work."
"But as you said," Fox stretched languidly. "I got him in the end." You could hear the smirk in his voice, despite the mask covering his expression. Hiruzen's eyebrow twitched almost imperceptibly.
"So, how did you do it?" he asked, very casually.
Fox held up two fingers in a V for victory sign. "Not telling."
"OH, COME ON!" The Third Hokage exploded. For eight years now, he had been trying to pry this secret out of Fox, a secret that the ANBU commander delighted in holding over his head. There had been times when Hiruzen had lain awake for nights on end trying to puzzle out how Fox had accomplished the seemingly impossible. Fox was working alone; trying to get at a target protected by not only the Hokage himself, but also by Elite Jonin, four of them to be exact.
Ivan had been moved to a secure location. All food was thoroughly checked by the resident ninja. The entire servant task force was made to go through extensive background checks and had all come up clean. The area was swept with a fine toothcomb every hour to make sure that there were no traps in the area. They had the finest chakra sensor Konoha had to offer there in person, constantly on alert for the smallest flinch of foreign chakra. State of the art locks, seals, hell, they even had those horrifically expensive security cameras! In short, they had everything to their advantage. In the end, none of it had mattered. Ivan had still died. And not a one of them could figure out how the hell he had pulled it off. Rumor had it that the only reason why Kakashi had ever joined the ANBU was to try and pry that secret out of Fox, given that he had been one of the four Jonin on site when the assassination took place. Rumor also had it that the only reason Kakashi had quit the Black Ops was that Fox refused to tell him how he had pulled it off, even after the Cyclops had shown the man his face.
Fox reached across and patted the Hokage comfortingly on his arm. "There, there, Hokage-sama, it's alright."
"That's an order."
"Hmm? You say something?"
Groaning, utterly frustrated, Sarutobi let it go and changed the subject. "So, what do you think of the newly graduated genin?"
Fox cocked his head, slightly. "They have potential," he conceded.
"If they survive long enough for it to be brought out," Hiruzen said, sighing pessimistically.
Fox caught the hidden meaning behind his words. "Then you do believe Yurei's warning." It was a statement of fact, not a question.
"I do, Kami help us, I do."
Silence greeted this statement for a moment as thoughts took a darker turn. Fox was the first one to break the stillness. "You know, of course, that Naruto has had some contact with Yurei already?"
Hiruzen looked at him dryly. For once, the expression on his face could be easily read. It said: what kind of a fool do you take me for? Fox held his hands up apologetically, warding himself away from the Hokage's gaze.
"Just stating the obvious, just stating the obvious." His tone became hard. "You going to be doing anything about it?"
Hiruzen shrugged. "What would you have me do?" he asked, ruefully. "I was going to talk to Naruto about it days ago, but then we ran through the Path of Death and things kind of snowballed. It's obvious that Yurei has given Naruto some form of training and I honestly can't blame him for that."
"Yurei is still an unknown, we need to know more about him in order to keep the village safe," Fox argued, mildly.
Slowly, thoughtfully, Hiruzen made his next move. "Tell me Fox, do you believe the warning that Yurei gave us."
"Logically there is nothing but a very slim chance that Orochimaru and a new village could cause much harm to the Leaf. He'd have to be some kind of idiot to attack the strongest Shinobi village with such a paltry force," Fox replied. "And to attack in the middle of the Chuunin exams? To break that peace agreement would be far more trouble than it is worth, he'd turn every village against him!"
The Hokage snorted. "I did not ask you to tell me about the political ramifications, I asked you whether or not you believed that war would come to the Leaf during the Chuunin exams. Do you believe Yurei's warning?"
Fox hesitated, slightly, before letting out a brief sigh. Leaning forward, he slowly moved a piece into position to mount a stronger offensive on his opponent's king. "Yes. Log help me, but yes, I do."
The Hokage nodded as he moved to strengthen his fortifications. "Then it is for that event that we will prepare. If we are to trust Yurei on this, then I will extend my trust to him on some other matters as well. As per his wish, Naruto will receive his mother's blade should he pass the test and become a Genin."
Fox cocked his head. "Are you sure that is wise? After all, the hilt may have belonged to Kushina, but the blade itself was never hers. And the legends that surround that blade are…"
"Immaterial," Hiruzen interrupted. "I had that blade tested by the finest of our Shinobi. Never did it show anything that may have been classified as supernatural." Hiruzen snorted, slightly. "It could not even conduct chakra, for crying out loud!"
Fox murmured, almost petulantly in Sarutobi's opinion, "well of course you never found anything, the people you had test it never matched up to the legend's criteria!"
Hiruzen rolled his eyes. "You mean how it stated that only the chosen of the Uzumaki could wield the sword? I saw Kushina with that sword hundreds of times. Again, it only ever acted as an ordinary piece of sharpened metal."
"Technically, the legend states that only one of 'The Family' can wield the sword," Fox said, shrugging, "but I see your point."
"Good. Now, shall we get started with the reason why we came here in the first place?" Hiruzen asked, a slight twinkle in his eye as he readied himself to put Fox's King in check.
"You mean the new Genin team placements?"
"Naturally," Sarutobi stated, smirking slightly, sensing his soon to come success.
Fox stirred to move his King, paused and then withdrew his hand thoughtfully, watching the Third, trying to read his intentions. Naturally, he discovered nothing.
"How do you plan to split up the teams?" Fox queried, taking his time to think over his next move.
"Usual specialties. An Assault team, a Capture-Interrogation team and a Tracking team."
Fox frowned. "You believe war is coming to the Leaf, sir?" he asked, blocking the oncoming check with a knight as he did so.
"I've already said that I do, Fox."
"Then, excuse my bluntness, but why are you trying to get those kids killed?"
Silence reigned. "Excuse me?" the Hokage asked, dangerously.
Fox shrugged. "You and I both know that a specialized ninja is a dead ninja, especially in wartime. Just ask any ANBU. Look at your own career, Hokage-sama. You were never one to focus on just one thing, which is why you are so feared by the enemy, even today."
Hiruzen nodded, slowly. "A true ninja is more than just a knife in the dark."
Fox shrugged. "A lot more. Sure, keep them in teams under those headings, but by the Sage, don't have them all be completely specialized! A ninja at peace can afford to be good at just one thing. A ninja at war cannot. Your own student said something along those lines to me a few years ago."
The Hokage sniffed. "Did he now?"
Fox nodded. "That he did. Mind you, though, Jiraiya was stone drunk at the time."
"What was it that he said?"
"Well, it was after he was caught in a fuinjutsu trap which prevented him from summoning the toads to help him. As I recall, their leader gave a classic evil overlord speech about how his defeat was now inevitable." At this, the ANBU leader cleared his throat and gave a scarily accurate imitation of Jiraiya's voice, even adding a slight drunken slur.
"No reshpect I tell ya. Firsht a'all, the guy thinks he has me on a silver platter, and he jusht won' shut up! All a becaush I, the 'Toad Sage' can no shummon any toads?" he continued, giving a loud snort. "Sure, that might work onna reg-regular ninja, but me? I'm a freaking Sannin! Most people, they get good at one thing, mebbe two. They just ninja. Me, a Sannin? There's a difference. Sure, I mostly use summoning jutsu in a fight, 'cos I'mma damn good wit'em! But, but I kin also kick ass in taijutsu, I can use ninjutsu of water, earth, fire and a whole lot of other non-elemental stuff. I'm a fuinjutsu master cahpabul of space time techniques. I kin use a staff, sword or kunai in a pinch and that's wit'out going intah any sage techniques!" Fox paused, his words lingering in the air.
"Did he say anything else?" Hiruzen asked.
The ANBU commander shifted uncomfortably. "Yes, sir."
"After that he had another bottle of sake, then started talking in great depth and detail about his accomplishments as an author and his prowess as a ladies man."
A few more turns of Shogi were taken by each of them before the Hokage spoke once more. "You do raise a good point, Fox. But Asuma, Kakashi and Hibiki are experienced Jonin. I am sure that they will be able to give them the grounding that they need."
Fox paused. "Hibiki?"
"I thought that Yuhi Kureanai was going to be one of the Jonin sensei for this upcoming class?"
"Yes, she was, but Kurenai has only just been promoted to Jonin, so, naturally, those more senior to her get first priority. Unless you know something that I am unaware of?"
Reaching beneath his coat, Fox drew out a highly official looking contract. Raising his eyebrow, Hiruzen took it from him and began reading.
"An agreement between Asuma, Kakashi, Gai and Kurenai to come together at least twice a week and teach each other's Genin teams their own specialties-"
"And Anko, Lord Hokage."
Fox nodded. "Naruto shanghaied her into training him and his teammates in poisons and antidotes. Pity she never specified how many teammates he could have…"
Hiruzen chuckled. "Point. It is a good plan, I admit, but I do not see it happening. I do not intend for Kurenai to be a Jonin sensei this time around and I am loathe to do something that may interfere with their teamwork."
Fox stayed silent for a moment, before letting loose a heavy sigh. "Then I suppose I'll have to do something to make you change your mind."
"Oh? And what will that be?
Fox frowned, thoughtfully. "I could always try a bribe."
"I pay your salary, Fox. You don't have enough money to tempt me."
"There must be something that I could give you to change your mind."
Reluctantly, Fox came up with the one thing he could think of. "I could tell you how I offed Ivan the Butcher."
Hiruzen paused, his smirk frozen on his face. This, this was tempting. He would not risk the young lives of those under command for such a paltry thing, yet at the same time, he really, really wanted to know how Fox had done it.
"You tell me how you did it and you join in with the Genin team's training every now and then to make sure that they are showing proper progress."
Reaching over, the Hokage signed the appropriate paperwork. It was done.
"Alright. So, how did you kill him?"
Carefully, Fox took the papers from the desk and tucked them beneath his clothes once more.
"Hmm? Oh, but you can't expect me to tell you now, Hokage-sama. After all, the Academy Students have yet to become true Genin. If they do not, then that will render our agreement null and void. Plus, it wouldn't do for the other ANBU around here to spread the secret, now would it?"
As the Hokage was busy gaping like a fish, Fox made one more move. "Checkmate, Hokage-sama."
Naruto came into the Academy just a little bit late, yet with a big, goofy grin on his face. His white striped friends had gotten all the more numerous since he had started feeding them. And Shirobi had been getting bigger and bigger, as her babies grew. When he came with their daily meaty meal, which now had to be sealed instead of just carried around in a sack, his tigers were all there and waiting. There were twenty-two of the big animals there now, which added up to a lot of meat. Suji had been fussing over Shirobi the entire time he was there, washing her, bringing her more food and chasing off any other tiger that came sniffing around. Naruto had shuddered violently when he first witnessed the mauling that Suji had administered with extreme prejudice. Apparently, the tiger was a firm believer in the best defense being a good offense. Yet when Naruto had kept his distance, the upcoming mother had taken matters into her own paws, as it were, and had trotted over to him before lying down next to him with a grunt. With a smile, Naruto had rested his head against her soft fur, before her heavy breathing sent him drifting off to sleep. He had awoken just a few minutes later by something smacking the side of his head. Blinking owlishly as he awoke, he was nevertheless aware enough of his surroundings to know that there was no-one close enough to have hit him like that.
"Put your head back down," Shinigami said gently.
Shrugging, Naruto did as he was told and nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt something hit him through Shirobi's thick fur.
"Dust unto dust, life from the dying, and so the Circle of Life continues," Shinigami said softly.
A grin slowly spread across Naruto's face as he placed his ear on Shirobi's stomach. From this position, he could hear the strong beat of the big tigers heart. Lubdub, lubdub, lubdub. But as he concentrated, sending chakra to his ears and blotting out all other distractions, focusing his entire being on that sound, he realized that this song was not a solo act. Two more heartbeats purred their own rhythm in tandem, fluttering and faster, yet in perfect time with each other, their beat sheltered beneath that of their mother's. For a while, Naruto simply lost himself in the moment, listening to the beat of new life, before another sharp kick bought him back to reality. Smile still spread across his face, he made his way back to the academy.
Iruka was there to say goodbye to them, leaving Mizuki to teach the rest of the class for the day. Wrapping his around an obliging Naruto in a hug, he then pulled him into a headlock and started giving him a noogie. He figured that he owed it to the blonde after all the trouble he had put him through. After finally releasing himself via substitution with Sasuke, Naruto scowled to hide his smile and went over to stand next to Hinata, who giggled slightly at the way his already spiky hair stood up even more than usual. After hearing the cute sound, Naruto immediately resolved to make sure he heard it more often, even if he was the one that she was laughing at.
"He's not being serious, is he?"
"I THINK HE IS," Kyuubi mused. "I OFTEN FIND MYSELF SURPRISED AT THE IDIOCIES OF HUMAN COURTSHIP RITUALS. MAKING AN ABJECT FOOL OF HIMSELF IS STILL WELL WITHIN THE REALMS OF POSSIBILITY."
'We can't all be as smart as foxes,' Naruto thought, sarcastically.
"BUT IT'S SO SIMPLE! HERE LET ME EXPLAIN."
Ignoring Naruto's firm statement that, no, he did not need an in-depth summary of a nine-tailed Demon's mating habits, thank you very much, or at least words to that effect, albeit slightly more M-rated. Unfortunately, Kyuubi ignored and proceeded to administer just that.
"I'LL EVEN PUT IT INTO FIVE NICE, EASY TO UNDERSTAND STEPS SO THAT YOUR MORTAL BRAIN CAN COMPREHEND."
"Not listening, not listening."
The Demon Lord's voice overwhelmed his protests as the Nine tailed vulpine continued.
"STEP 1 MEET. ADMITTEDLY, THERE MAY BE SOME CHASING INVOLVED TO ACCOMPLISH THIS STEP."
"Be grateful. At least you didn't have to actually kidnap the girl you were interested in to even get a chance to-" Shinigami muttered petulantly. Kyuubi ignored him.
"STEP 2 SNIFF. A HEALTHY VIXEN, NO BETTER SMELL IN THE WORLD."
"The Fox may have a point after all, gaki, you did say that Hinata smelled nice."
"STEP 3 PROVE YOUR DOMINANCE. I'LL LEAVE THAT UP TO YOUR OWN DISCRETION."
"Awfully decent of you, old sport. However if you want my advice, you'd grab some whipped cream, this not so little thing right here and a couple of these leather-"
"SHUT UP!" Naruto cried wildly, launching himself at Shinigami.
"STEP 4," the giant fox continued, ignoring the small blond mortal attempting to gag the god of death with a set of risqué paraphernalia and a…wait, was that a…? Never mind, nothing but madness, humiliation and shame lay that way. Trying to block out the sound of high pitched buzzing, Kyuubi completed his sentence "PROCREATE."
"STEP 5," here Shinigami spat out the object that Naruto had shoved down his throat in an effort to gag him before he choked. It clattered noisily on the floor as he and Kyuubi spoke as one."REPEAT STEP 4 AS NECESSARY."
"Whoops, Iruka's talking now."
Anime tears of thanks streamed down Naruto's face. Iruka, by now having become used to such things, didn't even pause.
"I'm so proud of you all," Iruka said, sniffing slightly to prevent some tears of his own from escaping. "I know that probably doesn't mean all that much to you from an Academy Teacher, but it's true. Congratulations, all of you. Now, before I go, just listen to old Iruka one last time." He sighed here, his eyes turning serious. "You are about to become Shinobi of Konohagakure, soldiers of the hidden leaf village. Staying alive in this job is never easy and even if you do, it's a hard life. Be vigilant, be wary and never underestimate your enemy. Trust in your friends and in your teammates; never abandon them when they are in need. As a ninja, you may be called to die for your village, but never allow that to be your first option. I'm not going to tell you not to die for Konoha; I won't take that choice away from you. But consider this. People in this world die for their village all the time, it's not all that uncommon really. But once you're dead, then you are of no more use to Konoha. Rather, live for your village, after all, the village is not the buildings, or the land, rather it is the people who make up the village. And if we all die for the village then there will be no more village left, which kind of defeats the point, doesn't it?" He smiled slightly, trying to relieve the tension and failing miserably. The smile faded away.
"The world is a nasty place and we are a part of it. We do not lead glamorous lives. We are not storybook heroes. We are ninja and that means we deal in reality. All too often we must harden our hearts and blacken our souls to get the mission done. But by doing so, we can protect the innocent, and, if we're lucky, we might even make the world a better place. Sometimes, the knowledge that you are making a difference is all you've got to help you carry on and occasionally, that's enough. Sometimes it's not. If you ever find that to be the case, then look around you." Iruka paused and his words became a command. "Look around." Blinking the nine students in the room did so, seeing the classroom that they had spent so much of their short lives in.
"What do you see?" Iruka said, softly.
"The classroom, sensei," Sakura answered, slightly confused. Naruto shook his head. There was so much more, if you only looked in the right place. Iruka's words slowly washed over him shoring up his conviction, leaving him feeling stronger than when he had first entered the room.
"I'll tell you what I see," Iruka said with a smile. "I see friends, companions, fellow leaf shinobi," he pointed at each of them as he continued on. "When you feel that it is all too much, then look around you. We fight for the village. But the village is not a symbol. It is not some overarching concept that we willingly give our lives for. And it is not the greater good."
Pausing, Iruka took a deep breath and carried on, making sure to meet the eyes of every one of his students as he tried to give them his last words of wisdom as their sensei. "One of the rules of ninja passed down from the archaic times is to never have any attachments. Forget that rule right now. You fight for your friends and, ironically enough, they fight for you too. If it becomes too much, draw strength from that. You are not alone. This is what makes the Leaf strong. You are young, yes. Some may say that you are too young. The world is dangerous, but we will not make you go out into it alone," here Iruka paused once more, allowing what he had said to sink into the minds of the students who were no longer his charge, yet people that he would always care about all the same. His gaze lingered on Naruto the longest, the warmth of understanding and a look of pride burning deep within his eyes.
"You know, Iruka was one of Naruto's first role models and one of the people that Naruto looked up to for all of his life. I've always wondered why. I mean, sure he was one of the first people that accepted him, but that not explain the level of hero-worship that he had for him."
"TRUE, I MEAN, LOOK AT THE OTHERS HE HELD IN SUCH HIGH REGARD. SARUTOBI, JIRAIYA, KAKASHI, TSUNADE, THE FOURTH, ALL OF THEM LEGENDARY SHINOBI, SOME OF THE STRONGEST OF THEIR TIME."
"And his dream is to be the strongest Hokage in history, yet he regards the opinion of a relatively unknown chuunin more than almost anyone else."
"WHAT IS IRUKA THEN, TO COMMAND SUCH LOYALTY?"
A smile spread slowly across Shinigami's face, glad that Naruto had such an influence in his life and that he recognized and respected a man such as this. After all, he shuddered to think about what type of man Naruto might have become if the only thing he ever respected was strength, or power. "Iruka is something that is rarely found in this world of Shinobi."
"OH, AND WHAT IS THAT?"
"A good man," Shinigami said simply. Yet, despite the simplicity of the words, Kyuubi understood the enormity of the statement. Giving a small bark of laughter, Kyuubi nodded his head in agreement.
Unaware of his divine judgment, Iruka calmly finished his talk. "Which is why you have been assigned sensei. They will be your guardians and teachers. They are there to support you, to teach and if need be, they may become a shoulder to cry on if necessary and they will do all that they can to protect you, until you yourself can protect them as well."
On cue, Kurenai entered the room. Her sharp red eyes regarded all of them dispassionately, tightening slightly at Naruto's waving form. "Greetings. My name is Yuuhi Kurenai, primary sensei of Hyuuga Hinata, Inuzuka Kiba and Aburame Shino."
Naruto started a little bit at that. Primary Sensei? What the hell was that about?
The three members of Kurenai's team stood up to leave with their new sensei, Kiba crowing slightly about how they had a 'hot dame' for a sensei. Kurenai remained resolutely expressionless and motioned them to take their seats once more. "We're going to wait until the others get here first."
Others? A slow smile crept unconsciously over Naruto's face. If he were right, then things had just changed for the better. The grin only got wider when another well-known figure entered that room in a swirl of leaves.
"Morning everybody. My name is Sarutobi Asuma. Yes, the old man's my dad. Get over it. I am the primary sensei of Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Choji and Yamanaka Ino."
"CHAAAAAA!" Sakura shouted, having worked out that she would be in a team with her 'Sasuke-kun.'
"It's probably going to be a while until the others get here, so Kurenai and I are going to tell you a bit about ourselves before we all get started," Asuma said, placing a cigarette in his mouth and flicking open a lighter.
"Ahem." Asuma glanced at Iruka, who had a slight glare on his face. "Sorry, Asuma-san. The academy is a non-smoking zone."
"Ah," Asuma shrugged. "I'm sure that it'll be alright if we wave that rule for a bit, neh?"
Iruka said nothing, yet the glare he now sported was the one that he usually reserved for Naruto when he had done something that exceeded his usual flair for the dramatic, or disastrous. Asuma put away his cigarette.
"Thank you, Asuma-san," Iruka said graciously, letting up on the glare a little. "However, don't be too worried about the others. I'm sure that they will be along shortly."
A single eyebrow was raised by both Jonin-sensei, who were united in their disbelief.
"What makes you so sure, Iruka-sensei?" Kurenai asked, genuinely curious.
Iruka simply shrugged. "I promised her dango."
As if summoned by the magic word, the door opened with a bang as Kakashi's unconscious form slid across the floor, leaving a long red smear that marked his passage. Anko walked in with a self-satisfied smirk, hands in her pockets, a moment later. "Did someone call?" she asked, innocently.
Asuma and Iruka both stared at the blood trail on the ground before pointing at Anko. "You killed Kakashi-sempai!" they exclaimed as one. Kurenai simply facepalmed, muttering something under her breath which sounded suspiciously like 'not again.'
"Nah, don't worry, he's just knocked out," Anko said, unashamedly.
"Then what about all the blood?" Sakura demanded.
"It's coming from his mask," Naruto said distractedly as he tried to find something to use as gloves so that he could remove that infernal bit of blood-soaked cloth and see his sensei's face.
"Oh, that?" Anko answered, waving the incident off. "He didn't want to come straight away, so he was attacked by a pair of magnificent puppies and passed out from the pleasure of it."
"Uh, don't you mean pain?" questioned Ino, looking a little confused.
Anko allowed a slow, predatory grin overtake her features. "No. No, I'm pretty sure I meant pleasure."
Kurenai sighed, before stepping forward and slapping Anko upside the head, taking control of the situation. "Alright, enough, the man on the ground is Hatake Kakashi, primary Sensei of Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto. And this-"
"My name is Mitarashi Anko, kunoichi extraordinaire!" Anko interrupted. She held out both arms as if to receive the accolade of a thousand adoring fans. Behind her a black banner unfurled from the ceiling, hiding the male sensei behind it. Shuffling so that she faced them side on, she crossed her arms and struck another pose. "Interrogation, infiltration and poison specialist, not to mention one of the hottest ninja that you will ever have the honor of meeting."
Naruto applauded loudly wolf-whistling as he did so. Anko frowned before taking in the expressions of her audience. Ino and Sakura looked horrified, Hinata somewhat thoughtful while the boys, Naruto not included, had expressions that varied from mild embarrassment (Shino) to plain out drooling (Kiba).
Confused, Anko turned around and was confronted with a larger than life sized banner of herself in striking a rather sexy pose wearing nothing more than some rather risqué lingerie. "Damn I'm sexy," she stated matter of factly, a small grin on her face.
Kurenai muttered darkly under her breath at her friends antics and, walking to the side of the banner, pulled a cord that caused the whole thing to fall to the ground.
"Anko?" she asked, sweetly. "What was that?"
"The wrong banner," she answered promptly. "I got that one for doing an assassination on a budding warlord with an interest in painting. I waited until after he finished the painting before I pulled a kunai and slit his throat."
"WHERE THE HELL WAS SHE KEEPING A KUNAI WHILE WEARNG THAT?"Naruto's tenants asked as one.
'I'm not entirely sure I want to know,' Naruto answered.
"But enough about me. Oh wait, there's more! I specialize in poisons, assassination, interrogation and infiltration. Due to an unwise bet, I'm going to be teaching blondie and his teammates."
"And there's the catch," Kakashi interjected smoothly. "You see, this year the Hokage has decided to try something slightly different than usual."
Asuma nodded, and continued "usually, you would be divided into three different teams, each of you with one sensei who would focus on all your teaching."
Kurenai stepped forward to continue. "This year, you are going to be the participants of something new. Instead of three different teams, the nine of you are all on one single team. Not only does this mean that you are all going to get specialized training from a larger pool of Jonin, it also means that you will be able to reliably team up with a larger group of people to perform more difficult missions."
"Of course, that will only happen if you can prove yourselves to be real Genin," Kakashi said with a smile.
"What a drag," Shikamaru muttered.
"What do you mean Kakashi-sensei?" asked Sakura.
"Simple," Naruto mused, apparently thinking out loud. "We've been graded by the academy, but the academy teachers aren't the ones that are going to be taking us out into the field. They've gotta know our capabilities. They've gotta know whether or not we're compatible. In short we're not actually real Genin yet. Not until they say we are. Am I right?"
"Meh, close enough," Kakashi answered with an eye smile. "The three of us will be giving our primary students one more graduation test. If you all pass, then you'll all be teammates, understand?"
"Oh yes, I think I understand perfectly," Anko interjected as one arm snaked around Kakashi's neck. "Correct me if I'm wrong in my understanding, but you're saying that if these brats all pass their easy little quiz, then I'm going to be stuck teaching all nine of the twerps for the foreseeable future?" One eye was twitching dangerously.
Kakashi looked thoughtful, before his expression cleared. "You are mistaken."
Anko heaved a sigh of relief and released the cyclops. "They'll have to all pass a hard graduating test, after all we usually have a 66% fail rate, but if they do, they you will be stuck teaching all nine of the twerps for the foreseeable future." Eye smiling once more he turned to his gaping students, who had turned pale upon the words '66% fail rate.'
"Haruno, Uchiha, Uzumaki. Meet me tomorrow at 6 a.m. tomorrow at training ground 7. Oh, and I suggest that you don't eat anything. You'll only throw it up if you do."
With those ominous words, he disappeared in a shunshin, just in time to avoid Anko's flying tackle, a kunai in each hand. She slid across the highly waxed floor (Naruto) and straight out the open doorway headfirst. A loud thump resounded from her direction
"Right, the rest of you, meet Kurenai and I up on the roof for further information. You might want to hurry, before she regains consciousness would be good."
Nodding in agreement, the others got up to leave.
"See you later Hinata-chan!" Naruto called, waving with a large grin on his face.
Hinata blushed before waving back. "Bye Naruto-kun. Good luck."
Naruto shook his head. "Nah, don't need luck. None of us do." The rest of the prospective Genin looked at him curiously. Naruto just snorted. "Come on guys, look at us, we're so awesome that we got passed six months early by Fox! We're all just too awesome to not pass this measly little test. Just remember what Iruka said. We are not alone. And if we all pass, then we're going to be the largest official team in, like, ever, so we're just going to have to show them the best teamwork that they've ever seen, blow them away, and blow this test out of the water. Capiché?"
"Yeah, yeah, we got it. Besides, it would be far to troublesome to fail these things anyway," Shikamaru drawled out as he exited the room, followed by the others. Shino, however, paused to speak.
"Indeed. Despite my usual distaste for Nara-san's typical disposition, I find myself having to coincide with his statement. Why? For it could be construed that another half a year spent at this academically inclined institution would be a an unwanted surplus of time," Shino concurred.
Walking out the room, he immediately turned round and started walking towards the window.
"By the way, it seems as if Mitarashi-san is regaining consciousness. It is therefore possible that you will resort to the logical conclusion and use a novel point of egress like myself." So saying, he slipped out the window and began walking on the side of the building up to the roof.
"What does he mean, a novel way of egress?" Naruto muttered.
"He means to find a new exit," Sakura explained.
"I know he meant, there's just nothing novel about it. Ninja always use the windows, in fact, they seem to prefer them."
"Less talking, more fleeing," Iruka said, turning back to look at his once students from his perch on the windowsill.
Approximately thirty seconds later, Anko rushed back into the empty classroom. "I don't believe them! They're going to make me teach all those brats? I'll go crazy!" She paused. "Well, crazier," she grudgingly admitted. She sighed, "well, maybe one of the classes will fail, then I won't have to teach as many." Pouting, she slid down the wall to the floor. She appeared to sulk for a while, before a slow smile began to spread across her face. "If a team of three fail, then they're not going to be Genin, and I don't have to teach them. But if Naruto fails, then none of them are going to be his teammates. And if that happens…"
Behind the wall in the next-door classroom, Wolf paled dramatically, and clicked a button on his radio. "Code Orange Beta. I repeat Code Orange Beta."
"Roger Wolf. In progress?" the operator asked.
"Negative. In planning."
"Are you sure?"
Instead of answering, Wolf stuck the radio out off the window, where the sounds of Anko's laughter were clearly audible.
"Is that Anko?"
OMAKE Fangirl Repellant.
"I'm telling you Sasuke, it works!"
Sasuke scoffed. "Yeah right, dobe. You're telling me that you, of all people, have developed a way to defeat the harpy demons?"
Naruto nodded, a large smile on his face.
"Look," he said, gesturing at the aluminum can, which looked suspiciously like a can of deodorant, that he held within his grasp. "All you have to do is point it at the fangirl in question and then press the button on top. The can is full of compressed wind chakra, so it sprays the repellant out in a fine, chakra powered mist."
Sasuke looked at the can warily. "What's in it?" he asked. Naruto looked affronted.
"You think that I'm just going to tell you the ingredients, just like that? You're trying to steal my recipe so that you can make it for yourself!"
Sasuke sighed. "Fine, don't tell me what its got in it."
Naruto nodded, self-righteously. "I will tell you this though, inside, there is a combination of alcohol and Holy Water, among many other things."
Sasuke raised his eyebrows at Naruto, before shaking his head. "Alright, how much?"
Naruto smiled blindingly. "Eight hundred ryo per bottle."
"EIGHT HUNDRED RYO!"
"Ah, did I say eight hundred? I meant seven hundred and ninety-nine," Naruto said, blithely.
"Forget it. Not interested!" Sasuke growled viciously slapped the bottle out of Naruto's hand and began walking away.
"Oi! Sasuke!" turning, the Uchiha was just in time to catch a much smaller bottle, about one fifth of the size. "Free sample!" Naruto called out.
Sasuke shrugged. "Whatever. I told you. I'm not interested. Now leave me alone, I'm late for the academy." Turning on heel Sasuke stalked off, his nose in the air, seemingly radiating arrogance. Behind his back, Naruto had a pouting expression that soon changed into an evil smirk. Using the smallest bit of wind chakra, Naruto sent a gentle, yet precise, kazeken at Sasuke. His target never even noticed the large rip in the back of his pants, exposing his jocks for all to see.
"Not interested, you say? But you will be…you will be…kukukuku-" A wild Anko appeared. SLAP!
"Bad Naruto, bad! Not a pedophile! No ramen for you!"
"OK, OK, OK! Thanks, I needed that!"
"Glad you understand. Now let's get rich."
By taking the rooftops, Naruto had found it easy to get to the academy in soon after Sasuke. Once there, he leaned against the doorframe and hollered.
"Oh, laaaaddddiiiieeess?" As one, every female in the class faced and upon seeing who it was, deliberately turned their backs to him, save one. Naruto shrugged. "Sorry, forgot. Oh, haaaaaaaarrrrrppppiiiieeeees? Hey, that rhymed! Not you of course, Hinata-chan," he added hastily. This time when they turned to face him they wore their most ferocious glare. Naruto shrugged it of like water off a ducks back. Please, he had been glared at by the Kyuubi no Yoko. Compared to that, these girls glare were less than nothing. Although, Sakura's would get better, especially when she eventually had something approaching Baa-chan's strength to back it up. "I just came to inform you all that I am taking the day off," he said, giving them all a wide grin.
"That's right! For the entirety of today, Sasuke is on his own, with no one to rescue him – I mean, get in you way in the pursuit of your true love." Several girls looked at him thoughtfully, wondering what the catch was. They were the wiser ones. The rest started edging towards the exit. Naruto had proved to be extremely frustrating when it came to their…pursuits of Sasuke-kun. Somehow, he was always able to give them the slip, although Naruto maintained that losing them was even harder than losing the ANBU who regularly chased him to bring him to justice for one of the pranks that he…didn't commit. Sasuke, seeing where this was going, bolted through the window immediately, providing a perfect view as he did so.
"Did I mention that he's got a huge rip in the back of his pants, meaning that things normally covered are now in full view?"
Obviously, if the stampede to the door was any indication on the matter, Naruto had neglected to mention that one little detail. "Itai," the blond said. "Memo to myself, don't stand in between a fangirl and the doorway to object of said fangirl's obsession…"
Sighing to herself, Hinata Hyuuga, the only girl who had not glared at Naruto and now the only girl left in the class, began to scrape Naruto off the floor. "Why did you d-do that Naruto-kun?"
Naruto smiled up at Hinata goofily. "I thought of another get rich quick scheme, Hinata-chan!"
At that moment, Iruka walked in. "Where is my class?" he asked. As one, every hand remaining in the room pointed to Naruto, including Hinata's. Naruto looked affronted at being accused, before he turned to Hinata and proclaimed dramatically "Et tu Hinata?" The Hyuuga heir giggled.
Sasuke was running for his life, his honor and his dignity among other things. For the first time, he felt truly grateful to Naruto for all the time spent running that he did with him. Of course, if it weren't for Naruto then he would not be in this situation in the first place, so the gratitude and hatred kind of evened out. Naruto had said that the running was to build up speed and to avoid capture. Right now, Sasuke was more interested in the avoiding capture part of the deal. Behind him, was the horde. Almost the entire population of "Sasuke Uchiha Fangirls," was chasing after him, an unholy light burning deep within their slightly glazed over eyes, which, incidentally, were staring at his ass. Not for the first time, Sasuke wished that he had mastered the tree walking exercise. He could almost make it to the top of the tree now, before slipping off. But he just could not afford to risk it at this time. If he slipped off a wall with that lot of savages behind him…well, it didn't bear thinking about.
Ino and Sakura, meanwhile, had put aside their petty rivalry for the moment and were treating this…endeavor as a mission. Meaning, to poor Sasuke's misfortune, that there was actually some sort of mild cognitive function leading the crush of fangirls after him.
"Ino-pig! You take the second squad, use the alleys, and get in front of him." Ino nodded with authority, before leading about a third of mob down a side street.
"Just make sure that you're there to drive him towards us, Forehead! We'll act as the anvil, but you're the hammer! We'll meet you four streets down!"
Sakura nodded, before giving what she thought was a warrior like war cry, which in reality was more along the lines of a fangirlish squeal, and lead the charge towards their tiring prey.
Sasuke was cut off, surrounded, staring a fate worse than death in the face. He had made the mistake of turning into a dead end, oh the irony. It was then, when all hope seemed lost, that Sasuke remembered the "free sample" that Naruto had given him. With no other chance, he pulled out the bottle and pressed the button. Immediately, those who came into its stream fell to the floor, either twitching, or unconscious. Sasuke blinked. What the hell, it actually worked? Filled with trepidation, mixed with the smallest feeling of hope, Sasuke marched forward, spraying as he went.
Unseen, Anko smirked from the rooftops. It had been difficult to craft a genjutsu that came into effect when it's target was touched with a certain compound. Difficult. Not impossible. Naruto, who was sitting next to her, smirked as he opened two bottles of beer and passed one to Anko.
"So all we have to do now is wait for the bottle to run out."
"Yep," Anko agreed. "I can't wait to see the look on his face when it does."
"You got the camera?" Naruto asked, causing Anko to wordlessly hold up the producer of his future blackmail material.
"You're a bad influence on me Anko-chan.
Anko smirked. "Gaki, I'm not entirely sure, but I think it may actually be the other way around."
Naruto looked thoughtful, then shrugged. Anko immediately pulled his head into her bosom as she hugged him tightly, ignoring his flailing.
"I'm so proud!"
"Geroff of me you Crazy Snake Lady!
"Fine, fine," Anko muttered, sighing as she released him.
"Oi!" Naruto yelled. "Why is the beer gone?"
AN Hehee. I'm evil. Sorry that the update wasn't as long as it might have been, but at least it's something, right? Right? Yes the omake was canon, I just wasn't sure where to put it. Anyway, next chapter we have the graduation test, and other stuff. If you've got any idea how Fox pulled off that assassination, PM me. If you are right, you will be rewarded. Anyway, read enjoy, review. You know the drill.