Anko's Apprentice: Uchiha Sasuke
By Slim Summers
Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. I don't own any thing here.
Summary: What if the Elders wanted extra protection for Naruto when he was made a gennin? What if they objected to having an Uchiha in the same squad as Naruto? Sasuke would need to be trained by someone, Sarutobi chooses Mitarashi Anko.
Prologue Part 1: Where Things Begin
"Here is the revised team list, Hokage-sama." Iruka said, handing over a file folder to the Sandaime.
"Thank you Iruka." Sandaime reached over to grasp the file, his eyes flickering over the chunnin teacher's injuries.
"I'm sorry to trouble you for this in your condition." Sandaime took a puff from his pipe as he began looking over the contents of the file.
"It was no trouble, Hokage-sama" Iruka said hurriedly. "I'm the one who chose to pass Naruto at the last minute after all."
"He really managed to learn Kage Bunshin…" murmured the old shinobi. "Well this list seems fi…"
The Hokage was suddenly interrupted by a sharp knock on his door. Giving a quiet sigh as he looked at the watch on his desk, he asked "What is it, Ishida?"
The door opened half-way and the plump body of the Hokage's secretary Ishida Takagi moved inside. "Pardon me Hokage-sama but Danzou-sama, Mitokado-sama and Utatane-sama wish to speak with you."
"At this time what is it about?" The chunnin secretary looked uncomfortable.
"Never mind." The Hokage sighed again. "Wait three minutes then show them in. Iruka-sensei, I'll see you tomorrow at graduation."
"Hokage-sama" Iruka said, giving a quick bow before leaving.
As Iruka left the Sandaime's office he walked past Danzou and the two elders by his side. The expressions on their faces made Iruka very glad that he was not going to be taking part in the meeting that was about to happen.
"We need to discuss the new gennin teams."
Sarutobi Hiruzen let a puff of smoke escape his pipe as he gazed sombrely at his two ex-teammates and his one time rival. They were waiting for his response after they had marched in and stated their interest in this meeting. He stood and slowly walked over to the window behind his desk. It had a beautiful view of Konoha and more importantly the view did not contain these strangers wearing his friends' faces.
"Sarutobi." Mitokado Homura said impatiently. His granddaughter had just given birth if Sarutobi recalled correctly. At one time he might have expected an invitation to the celebration.
"So you have a problem with the new gennin teams?" The Sandaime said dryly. He was being deliberately difficult but he had long ago found that he did not care anymore, at least not with these three.
"Just one team." Utatane responded in an annoyed tone. She had always been the most aggressive one on his team. "The one which has the container for the Nine-Tails as a member."
"What's wrong with it?" Sarutobi snapped back. 'Let's see how much information you have.'
"The boy is a jinchuuriki, Sarutobi. He is not a normal child." Mitokado continued. "Normally we would advise keep him under supervision and prevent him from leaving the village over much but he does require training and experience."
'Otherwise he won't be of any use to Konoha' Sandaime mentally finished the unsaid part of Mitokado's sentence. "I do not see the problem then, as he will receive both now that he has been promoted to a gennin."
"Sarutobi…" Utatane said in an exasperated voice. "Surely you realise that the boy will always be at additional risk because of the Nine-Tails sealed within him. He will require additional protection then a normal gennin will receive."
"The village has been forbidden to speak of the one who contains the Kyuubi and Naruto's sensei is perhaps the best jounin in the village as well as a student of the Forth Hokage. Naruto will be safe or at least as much it is possible for a gennin to be."
"No matter how much a person is told to not do something, it does not mean they will actually listen." Mitokado paused slightly. "Mizuki's actions should be a very recent example of that fact."
There was a very small pause before the next puff of smoke appeared from the Sandaime's pipe.
"Even if we trust our ninja to not spread this information, can you honestly say that the ordinary villagers would not have?"
"What do you suggest?" Sarutobi's tone was not defeated but rather wary, making it clear that he would fight any un-reasonable suggestion.
Utatane shot a glance towards Danzou who was standing with his back towards a side wall while gazing at it's opposite with an impassive expression, before speaking. "That we place a more experienced member, perhaps a chunnin into the jinchuuriki's team. This member would be responsible for protecting him in the event that his jounin sensei is other wise occupied."
"A five man team would make it rather obvious that something was going on to everyone" Sarutobi responded immediately, his mind not even having to think to pick out the obvious flaws in this plan. "Not to mention it would be horrible for team dynamics."
"Perhaps but it can't be helped." Utatane responded. "However it seemed prudent to us to remove a current member and place them on another team, thereby diverting some suspicion from Hatake's team."
"In order not to mess up those team dynamics that you mentioned, we also felt it best that the higher ranking of the gennin should be the one switched."
"Sasuke." Sarutobi said, as he turned around. "Uchiha Sasuke."
The aged Hokage was genuinely surprised for perhaps the first time in this conversation. There had been conversations between him in the Council regarding Uzumaki Naruto's future for years. The Sandaime wishing him to receive as much of a normal child hood as possible while the Council wishing to train him as a weapon. The Council had discussed additional protective measures for Naruto some time ago but had acquiesced in the face of Sarutobi's opposition and the increasingly unlikely event of Naruto passing his exams and even then their measures had been favouring just adding another member to the team as well as restricting the team's missions. The sudden visit was another factor, the first few gennin missions were all D-Rank as the Council knew, hardly dangerous and hardly requiring them to visit so late at night to insist on additional protection, when they could have calmly discussed the matter later along with the village jounin.
"You do not want an Uchiha in the same team as Naruto." Sarutobi said as his mind worked. Individually the Council members might have been slightly annoyed with an Uchiha in the same class as their prize jinchuuriki weapon but they didn't really bring up the issue, knowing it would not have gotten far with Sarutobi. It had not really mattered in any case in such a large class with the additional fact that the two boys didn't really associate with each other in any case, however in a gennin team the two boys would have to do far more then simply associate if they wanted to succeed.
"Don't you think your being slightly ridiculous?" Sarutobi growled, placing his pipe on his desk while stepping forward towards his former team-mates. "The boy has no idea what really occurred back then and has not even awakened the Sharingan yet."
"Sarutobi" Danzou spoke for perhaps the first time since the meeting started. "The one thing we truly all share is the desire to keep this village safe, taking as few chances as possible with the container for the Nine-Tails is part of that."
His one time rival's voice was soft, deliberate and even sincere; however while they both shared that lofty goal; the one thing that truly separated the two men was what they would do to accomplish that goal.
"While we may not know who among the Uchiha summoned the Kyuubi twelve years ago, given his relations Uchiha Sasuke is definitely one with the potential to do so in the future and if he should ever find out the truth about…"
"He won't." Sarutobi interrupted. "The only ones who know the truth regarding what happened are us four and Itachi."
"Be that as it may," Danzou continued unperturbed. "As long as he lives there will always be a small chance that he could do so and attempt to use the Kyuubi against us again. The Council would prefer lowering that chance as much as possible."
'You'd prefer that the child was already dead along with his clan.' It took a fair bit of Sarutobi's will power not to shout out.
"Leaving the matter of the Uchiha Clan aside." Utatane interrupted in a firm tone of voice. "It merely makes more sense for Uchiha Sasuke to be the one switched out. He is the number one rookie of his year and the last of the Uchiha Clan. By switching him out we can make it appear that we are giving him an opportunity for advanced training and giving him protection instead of protecting the Nine-Tails."
"Advanced training?" Sarutobi questioned, his gaze still locked on Danzou.
"I was going to suggest that he be placed in a more experienced team, preferably one that has lost a member. As I said, this would create the fiction that the switch was entirely for his benefit and may even help him improve faster."
Sarutobi honestly wondered about that. Utatane had always hidden a surprisingly petty and vindictive streak. Unlike the males of her team who merely punched each other some one who upset them, if she disliked a person or group she didn't try to get even but instead found satisfaction in placing little thumbtacks along the road of her victim's life, making that life a living hell. Sarutobi remembered one kunoichi who had not seen her husband for a whole two years at one time due to a remarkable difference in their scheduled assignments. His former team-mate had always disliked blood-line limits due to the unfair advantage in her view that they gave their wielders over normal ninja and had nursed a grudge against the Sharingan blood-line limit in particular ever since her own original version of her family jutsu had been copied and used to defeat her in her first Chuunin exam.
In fairness Utatane did place limits on that side of herself, she would never endanger a person's life or risk harm to Konoha however Sarutobi knew that the Council kept track of both Sasuke's and Naruto's progress in the Ninja Academy and Utatane undoubtedly remembered that Sasuke's lowest grades had been in cooperation and assertiveness. Trying to insert that damaged child into an already established team, one used to more dangerous missions then fresh academy students and particularly one still mourning a deceased member would result in any number of problems for the Uchiha.
"I'm afraid I am going to have to object to that plan Koharu." Mitokado said calmly. "I was going to suggest that we insert our agent onto Hakate's team with the excuse that he was the only survivor of his team. If we use yours at the same time people would wonder why we did not place the agent in to the more experienced team."
Neither Danzou nor Sarutobi said a word as their two compatriots started tossing suggestions to each other. There was no point in truly objecting to this plan Sarutobi knew. The three members of the Council would all vote against him and their reasoning of protecting Naruto was just sound enough that other jounnin would support it as well.
"Who is the agent you have selected?" He could take a reasonable guess considering Danzou's presence but he needed time. He may not be able to win this battle but an idea on how to win another battle was slowly coming together in his mind. He just needed the opportunity to things through a bit more.
Both Mitokado and Utatane looked up from their discussion at Sarutobi's interruption. "We need someone both young enough to not be out of place on a team fresh from the Academy yet strong enough to be able to protect the child."
Utatane paused before continuing "That is why we asked Danzou to this meeting."
"Root was disbanded." Sarutobi stated in voice all the more dangerous because it was completely calm and even.
"On your orders, Sarutobi." Danzou responded. "However just because you disbanded my division of ANBU, does not mean its former members forgot all they learnt and there are benefits of such training as I pointed out before. One of those former members is at most a year older then the current academy graduates and he is on the level of a new chunnin."
Sarutobi disregarded Danzou's boast. He periodically attempted a sweep of ANBU to look for remnants of Root but had never found a trace. However that did didn't mean he believed Danzou had complied completely with his orders.
The Sandaime turned, once again facing his office's window. "Very well send me the files on your candidate and have him meet with me tomorrow morning. I'll notify Kakashi and Iruka regarding the change."
"Which team will we place the Uchiha in?" Mitokado asked.
"The gennin teams from the last three years have not lost a single member." Sarutobi said with a quiet pride. Danzou may be proud of the strength of his division members, Sarutobi was prouder still of the lives of his ninja family. While Sarutobi's preferred training methods for academy students did result in a somewhat slower growth rate of their abilities, it also had a far lower casualty rate as well as providing them a much higher quality of life. "It would be unwise to put Sasuke in a team that has been together for longer then that so I have thought of a different solution."
The Council waited, then waited some more.
"Stop trying to be dramatic, Sarutobi." Utatane growled.
As he was facing away from his village's elders, Sarutobi felt free to allow a small smile on his lips before stating simply "We will apprentice him."
No gasp of surprise or startled expression appeared on the Council's faces. Apprenticeship was an established tradition in Konoha. If a ninja displayed an outstanding talent in a field of study, they were generally offered an apprentice by a more senior ninja in that field. This was most of the time in addition to their duties on their regular team, however on rare occasions the senior become completely responsible for their apprentice. This was rarely done these days however as Sarutobi was a huge proponent of team work as well as the fact that the most infamous example of such an apprenticeship was very much alive in the mind of most of Konoha.
"That would work." Mitokado decided, after examining the idea from all sides. "Who will you apprentice him to?"
Silenced descended in to the room before the Council found their voice.
"Orochimaru's old apprentice? You can't be serious, Sarutobi." Mitokado exclaimed. "She's not suited to be a teacher."
"She's not even a full jounin." Utatane followed up.
Sarutobi merely puffed at his pipe still looking away, although that small smile had become somewhat larger.
Mitokado took a deep breath before shooting a glance at Danzo to see how he had reacted to the news. Sarutobi's old rival had been surprised enough to actually turn and shoot the Hokage a questioning glance although he did not say anything.
"Sarutobi, even if we forget her past history, Mitarashi Anko's personality is hardly what I'd call suited to be a teacher and Utatane has a point regarding her current rank."
"So I'll promote her to jounin."
Utatane and Mitokado looked at each before simultaneously releasing a breath. Both realised that bringing up Mitarashi Anko's past not to mention her curse seal would not dissuade their former team-mate. Sarutobi Hiruzen was far too compassionate in the view of the village elders. Ironically a trait he shared with the two shinobi they had most admired in their youth, however years of war and bloodshed, decades of seeing the compassionate suffer and die because of their soft-hearts had hardened their own. They would just have to find some other argument regarding this matter.
"Do you think her skills are truly adequate for that rank, Sarutobi?" Utatane asked, bringing up a point that the Sandaime could not ignore. "I'll grant that her skill with ninjutsu and knowledge of kinjutsu are above most jounins but the last I saw of her file, the remainder of her skills were those of a senior chunnin at best."
"There is also the matter of her personality." Mitokado continued. "Do you really think she is ready to assume the rank of a jounin? Or more importantly teach a gennin? I don't believe she would find such an assignment appealing."
Sarutobi had already considered most of those points. The simple fact was that despite Anko's natural talent for the ninja arts being enough to attract even Orochimaru's attention, her growth had been hampered by her abandonment by his former student leaving her without a full-time jounin sensei and her struggle with the cursed seal that Orochimaru had left her. The stain on her reputation of being Orochimaru's apprentice had never truly left her as well in some circles of Konoha. While a comparative few in the village's upper echelons truly doubted her loyalty, many still harboured suspicions regarding exactly what hold Orochimaru had left on her mind and soul especially given her curse seal. Her current position was regarded as perfect as far as those people were concerned. High enough in Konoha's hierarchy that she could be useful, while not high enough that she could do great harm if their suspicions were true.
The Sandaime had always felt responsible for her in a way given that her sensei had once been his prize pupil and had toyed with the idea of training her himself when he had retired from being the Hokage. Minato's sacrifice had put an end to that plan and the time in between had been consumed with re-building Konoha as well as jumping from crisis to crisis. Not to mention the opposition he knew he would face from those who did not trust her. Their current request had provided him with the perfect leverage that he would need.
"Perhaps you two do have a point." Sarutobi stated as if he was just now considering their words. "Instead of an immediate promotion, I'll tie it to how well she trains her new apprentice. If she trains Sasuke to the best of her ability for the next few months, she will be promoted."
Utatane and Mitokado both had a resigned expression on their faces as Sarutobi continued. "As for her skills, I will devote some time to helping her train personally."
"You will train her, Sarutobi?" Mitokado asked giving his Hokage a considering look.
"She's always had a difficult time training because of that curse seal however I've been working on a seal, Fuja Hoin that should make sure that is not a cause of concern anymore."
The elders considered this carefully. Creating a new fuinjutsu was difficult even for geniuses like the Sandaime. That Sarutobi had done so meant that he had been intending to aid Mitarashi Anko for some time and would not be dissuaded easily.
Sarutobi's voice was sober as finished laying his trap. "If you give your consent to this plan then I can see no reason why we can not switch Uchiha Sasuke for Naruto's new bodyguard."
Just like that he let Danzou, Mitokado and Utatane know the conditions he would accept in exchange for bending to their wishes this time. If they wanted additional protection for Naruto as well as keeping him away from the influence of an Uchiha then they would have to allow the promotion and training of Miterashi Anko.
Utatane and Mitokado exchanged a look before nodding in resignation.
"You can never be entirely reasonable, can you Sarutobi?" The old kunoichi stated as she stood up along with her former team mate. "Very well, we agree to your plan."
Mitokado shot a glance first at Sarutobi then at Danzou before nodding once more as he continued an old habit of his of summarising the results of a meeting at its conclusion. "Danzou will send the necessary files immediately and have his man meet you in the morning. He will be inserted into the Hatake Kakashi's team and Uchiha Sasuke will be trained by Mitarashi Anko."
Sleeping soundly in their separate homes, a purple haired kunoichi and a black haired shinobi both suddenly found themselves waking up due to a sudden sneezing fit. If they knew what lay in store for them from tomorrow the two might just have decided to never leave their beds.
This chapter and remaining chapters of the prologue are all un-beta'd so far but are ready to upload otherwise. I might touch them up and re-upload if I get a good beta or feedback but otherwise they should be ok. I just really wanted to post them before I got nervous and deleted them entirely.
Might take me a bit before I upload, hopefully by late Sunday I should have the next part up.