Anko's Apprentice: Uchiha Sasuke

By Slim Summers

Disclaimer:

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 2: Relaying the News

Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai or simply ANBU trainee Moshi Hayate cursed under his breath as he knocked on the door once again. He cursed the kami for his current fate, the Hokage for needing a message delivered to this woman at this time, and finally his senpai in the ANBU for assigning him to deliver a summons to Mitarashi Anko after she had just come back from a gruelling month long mission, while wearing expressions of 'better you then me' that Hayate could clearly see despite the masks they wore.

Hayate considered turning back and telling his senpai that Mitarashi-san wasn't at home but decided against it. With his luck they would probably assign him as Mitarashi-san's next sparring partner instead of just delivering a message and the trainees among the ANBU told horror stories about such an experience. While she may not have been the most powerful or strongest fighter among the ANBU she was considered one of the most sadistic and blood-thirsty when aroused.

Saying a quick prayer to the kami while mentally cursing himself this time for accepting the offer to join the Special Assassination and Tactical Squad, Hayate picked open the lock of Mitarashi-san's door. With a now or never expression on his face Hayate slowly opened the door and took a step inside.

The scream that followed a few moments later woke up half the apartment building.


Mitarashi Anko made her way to the Hokage's Tower at a brisk pace across the roof-tops. The tokubetsu jounin was hungry, tired and very annoyed in approximately that order. The messenger who delivered the summons to the Hokage would probably stop throwing up from the poison in a day or two; his nerves would take some what longer.

'This had better be something really urgent and important.' Anko thought, her annoyance growing with each step she took towards the Hokage's private office in the Tower. The purpled haired kunoichi had enough experience as a Konoha ninja to fully appreciate the fact that important missions were not necessarily always urgent enough to drop everything else for, despite what some clients and desk-ninja might believe while some of the most minor and insignificant tasks were necessary to complete as soon as one received them. Whatever task they had woken her up for, it had better be both important enough to require her in particular and urgent enough to wake her up from her first good night's sleep in more then two weeks.

"Ah Mitarashi-san." Ishida Takagi greeted her as she entered. The Hokage's secretary looked slightly swamped behind his desk as it and the floor were littered with assorted files. "Sandaime-sama is in a meeting with the new Jounin teachers for this year's gennin but he said that you were to join them inside and that he would speak with you after they left regarding your assignment."

'Why the hell can't I just wait outside?' Anko thought, before nodding her head and heading straight inside.

The assembled jounin in the room gave Anko a surprised look followed by a considering one before their attention was drawn back to the Sandaime's crystal ball. The old Hokage gave Anko a nod before indicating an empty space next to Kakashi for her to stand.

Glancing over at the crystal ball in front of the Hokage as she moved to her assigned space, Anko noticed the image of multiple children inside the sphere and figured that the Hokage must have been using his Tōmegane no Jutsu (1) to show the jounin sensei their new students.

"Is that him? This year's number one rookie, Uchiha Sasuke?"

Anko looked at image of the boy reflected in the crystal ball, she generally didn't have much contact with academy students or fresh gennin but even she knew the name of the last survivor of the Uchiha clan. She could definitely see the family resemblance even without the Hokage's confirmation.

"That's right."

"He's a survivor of the Uchiha Clan." Anko rolled her eyes at her friend's comment.

'No Kurenai, he just happens to have thing for shirts with high collars and a fan stitched on their backs. How many drinks did you have last night?' Anko thought giving her friend a questioning look. Despite the opinion of many ninjas in Konoha, Anko was relatively tame in her alcohol consumption while the more cultured Yūhi Kurenai in Anko's opinion had two hollow legs when it came to alcohol.

"Uzumaki Naruto eh?"

Kakashi's low mutter drew Anko's attention back to the crystal ball which was now displaying a boy in a bright orange jumpsuit.

'So that's the brat who painted the Hokage monument? The container for the Nine-Tails heh... I wonder who's his sensei?'

The crystal ball went dark abruptly as the Hokage cancelled his jutsu. "You've all seen your new students and have their files. Take a look over them and if there are any issues let me know as soon as possible, otherwise pick up your new students at two o'clock from the Academy."

The jounin sensei bowed their heads and turned to leave. "Just remember one very important thing, you are not training new ninja in the service of Konoha, you are protecting and guiding the future of the Hidden Leaf Village."

A chorus of "Hai, Hokage-sama" filled the room.

'Finally.' Anko thought, hoping that now the Hokage would tell her what he wanted her for so she could get it done quickly and go back to sleep. 'Maybe I can grab a couple of dangos on the way home. Wait, what's he doing still here?'

To her surprise Kakashi was still slouching next to her, hands folded across his chest. Feeling her gaze, the copy-ninja lazily glanced at her from the corner of his eye before shrugging in an 'I don't know' manner and turning back to face the Sandaime.

"Kakashi, Anko. Please sit down. I'm sorry keep you waiting but a matter has come up that will require some flexibility from both of you." Sarutobi said, taking a few puffs of his pipe.

'Flexibility? What does he mean by that?'

The two Konoha ninja sat down as their superior instructed.

"The Village Council brought up some concerns regarding the proposed gennin teams." Anko face twisted slightly as she heard the Hokage mention those two old farts. "No slight on your abilities Kakashi, they felt that as Naruto is the container of the Kyuubi, that he should receive extra protection now that he will be leaving the safety of Konoha."

'Is that why I'm here to play body guard to a gennin brat?' Anko thought indignantly.

"To that end they have recommended that a trainee of the former Root division of ANBU be placed in your team, Kakashi in place of Uchiha Sasuke."

'Danzou…It figures.' Anko had taken part in the dismantling of the division created by the Hokage's old rival. In her opinion the only real difference between Danzou and Orochimaru was Danzou viewing the welfare of Konoha above that of himself, unfortunately what Danzou considered good for Konoha was also nine times out of ten good for Danzou as well.

"Hokage-sama." Kakashi began before the Hokage held up his left hand in a wait a bit gesture.

"From his file, this Sai is about a year or so older then Naruto and has the about the skills we would expect of a fresh chuunin. I've made it clear to the Council however that their orders to him to protect Naruto are second to yours. In the field Sai is to consider your orders as his first priority."

It was clear to the Hokage and Anko that his words had not assuaged any of Kakashi's concerns.

"The cover story will be that Sai's former team was killed or permanently injured. As his performance has been both below expectations and there are worries about his mental health it was felt that it would be better to place him on a newly graduated team and slowly ease him back into the ninja life." Pausing to take a breath, the Hokage continued. "It won't fool any Konoha ninja but should be enough to fool most of the villagers and any ninja from other villages."

Sarutobi made a smoke ring fly out of his pipe and raised his head to gaze at it in thought for an instant before continuing in a sombre tone. "The Council were not to be dissuaded; the only way Naruto will be able to take part in missions outside of Konoha will be if he receives additional protection."

Kakashi bowed his head, thinking.

Sarutobi was trapping Kakashi here, he knew. While the son of the White-Fang may not have passed any gennin team so far in his career, Sarutobi could tell that Kakashi was truly hoping that this team would pass his test. The duty Kakashi felt towards the son of his deceased teacher as well as the last survivor of his best friend's clan was clear as crystal to the Sandaime. Kakashi would take who Sarutobi hoped was Danzou's former subordinate on his team if it meant that he would get the opportunity to train Naruto. Sarutobi just had to reassure him that Uchiha Sasuke's future would not suffer unduly as a result.

Anko had remained silent so far focusing on trying to figure out what the Sandaime wanted from her. After all, the training of gennin was not one of her concerns.

'Does Hokage-sama want me to look into this Sai character and see if he has any left over ties to Danzou?' Anko frowned. 'Or maybe he'll want me to investigate Root again and see if it has been re-formed?'

"What will happen to Sasuke?" Kakashi asked as the Sandaime expected. "Will he be placed on another team?"

"No." Sarutobi replied. "I believe that it will be less disruptive to other teams that way. Placing him on one of the new gennin teams just draws attention there and raises a few uncomfortable questions."

"Then what?"

"I've decided that it would be best that he becomes an apprentice."

"An apprentice?" Kakashi questioned, as Anko looked up and focused her gaze on the Hokage. The type of apprenticeship that the Sandaime had to be talking about was rare. The last well-known example of such an apprenticeship had been...

'Oh hell, no.' Mitarashi Anko felt her throat going dry as Kakashi's head turned to gaze at her. Her stomach which had felt completely empty on coming to the Hokage's tower was suddenly filled to bursting with nervous apprehension.

"Yes. I've decided that Uchiha Sasuke will become the apprentice of tokubetsu jounin Mitarashi Anko."

"WHAT!"


Ishida Takagi had just finished assembling all the original files of the new gennins into neat stacks, ready to be put away when a loud deep yell came from the Hokage's office that reverberated throughout the entire tower and sent those painstakingly assembled files back to the floor.


Sarutobi Hiruzen wondered if it was for the best that his hearing had been slowly going in his old age. Certainly the ringing in his ears was loud and somewhat painful but it was still better then what Kakashi, who was still clutching his ears must have been feeling.

'It's a good thing I didn't decide to pair her with Naruto. They'd probably scare away all the villagers just by their shouting, not to mention the clients.' The Hokage smiled wryly as he focused his attention back on what Anko was saying.

"…I'm a tokubetsu jounin, I don't want to be baby sitting some brat when I could be doing real missions." Anko stopped mid-rant as the Hokage shot her a glance making it clear that enough was enough. For all her wild behaviour, Anko had always been respectful of the aged Hokage. A respect borne out of the care she had received when she had first been abandoned by Orochimaru.

"Kakashi, you had better go and take a look at the file for Sai." Sarutobi said, taking out a file from his desk drawer and sliding it across the table. "I've passed instructions on that he is to wait for you in the lobby of the tower till twelve, in case you wish to meet him. If not then he is to be wait outside the academy for you to pick up your team from two o' clock. I'll meet up with you during lunch to address some other concerns regarding Naruto's training."

The Copy-Ninja inclined his head in acknowledgement as he slowly picked up the file and got up to leave. His reluctant movement made it clear that he would probably have a number of concerns when he met up with Sarutobi later.

Turning his head to face the silently fuming kunoichi sitting across from him, Sarutobi carefully considered exactly what he was asking of her for one final time.

'She's actually taking it better then I expected.' The Hokage thought as his doubts raced to the forefront of his mind. 'Am I doing the right thing? Having her train a gennin especially a child who will undoubtedly require special handling like Uchiha Sasuke?'

Examining Mitarashi Anko once again who was silently displaying an expression of indignant anger while hiding nervous fear, Sarutobi found his doubts slowly dissipating. He knew his former student's apprentice fairly well and considerably better then most of his ninja family as he viewed the citizens of Konoha. While her personality was a bit rough that had never been a factor as far as becoming a jounin was concerned and in his view her past actually made her more suitable to train Sasuke then most jounin. 'After all, I didn't choose Anko just because I felt she deserved a chance at promotion, the issues she still has with Orochimaru make her more suitable to be Sasuke's teacher then anyone save perhaps Kakashi, although it looks like I will have to convince her of that.'

"Anko," Sarutobi stated in a firm tone of voice, drawing the kunoichi's full attention and making it clear to her that he truly meant what he was about to say next. "I didn't choose you to be Sasuke's teacher just because I picked your name out of my hat, there were a number of jounin I could have picked to become Sasuke's sensei but I chose you. Do you wish to know why?"

"Hai, Hokage-sama, I not suited to train a gennin. I'm not even a full jounin yet." Anko said her voice changing as she spoke from being respectful to being slightly ashamed. Back when she was young and had just been selected as an apprentice by a Sannin, she had felt certain that a bright and shiny future lay ahead of her. One of her dreams in particular had been of becoming one of Konoha's youngest jounin. A twisted smile came on the kunoichi's face as she recalled hoping to one day see her Sannin sensei proudly giving her praise for being appointed as a jounin. Instead her inheritance from her sensei had ultimately done nothing but hinder her.

"So you said." Sarutobi said taking a puff from his pipe. "In terms of overall ability you are certainly not fully on the level of a jounin yet despite your talent. However you are certainly an experienced ninja and have even completed a couple of S-Rank missions. I believe you will be looked to for more of those in the future and your skills are certainly growing now that the Curse Seal has completely faded."

Anko had to consciously keep left her arm from reaching towards the back of her neck. The gift that her mentor had given her, while no longer present to everyone else was always there in her mind. It had taken a long time before she could wean herself from calling on its addictive power, years more for it to subside and even more years for it fade away completely. It had been frustrating, training and going on missions always being watched in case she became a danger to whatever team she was assigned to, always wondering if she actually would become a danger in case the seal decided to flare up and berating herself when it did. Even though she wouldn't admit it to herself a lingering fear that the Curse Seal would return still remained.

The Sandaime and others had been working on creating a jutsu that would counter or at least restrain the Curse Seal but her sensei's seals had always been complex and creating a new sealing jutsu to counter one you had little knowledge of took time. Anko wasn't sure if they had actually finished working on that jutsu or not but she had little desire to do anything right now that could possibly cause her Curse Seal to flare up once again.

"Anko answer me this," The Hokage asked. "I have rarely known you to be nervous about an assignment, most often no matter what the mission you seem eager take it as long as it is challenging. Why are you nervous now?"

"I'm not…" Anko nearly yelled before she saw her Hokage's eyes looking at her. The genuine concern in them made her pause.

"I just don't want to teach a gennin brat." She mumbled turning her gaze to the floor. She could still feel the Sandaime's eyes on her however and even though he did not say a word she was compelled to continue. "Hokage-sama, how can I teach anyone? I didn't exactly have a normal gennin team, hell I didn't have a normal apprenticeship. The only thing that'll happen is that I'll mess the kid up just like..."

"Just like Orochimaru did to you..." Sarutobi finished as Anko's voice trailed off. His voice took on a firm tone as he stated. "Anko, you are not Orochimaru and you have no relationship with him any more. You will not repeat the same mistakes that my former student did, you are incapable of it. "

Mitarashi Anko slowly raised her head as her Hokage continued. "Besides it isn't due to your experience with Orochimaru that I decided to place Sasuke in your care, its how you dealt with that experience that makes you best suited to become Sasuke's sensei."

"Hokage-sama?"

"Anko, Sasuke is somewhat a special child. He is the last member of the Uchiha Clan and is as talented in his own way as his brother. If I hadn't risen the graduating age at the academy to twelve a few years ago, he would have graduated earlier. If his clan had still been alive he might have graduated even before that if they trained him as much as they did Itachi."

"So the brat's an Uchiha, but on his brother's level?" Anko scoffed. "That guy was in ANBU by Sasuke's age wasn't he?"

"No, while Sasuke might have the same raw talent and potential as his brother, from what I understand Itachi received a large amount of training as the clan heir, not to mention we pushed our students harder in the Academy back then to recover our numbers after the Kyuubi attack. When you combine that with actual mission experience from an early age, not to mention ANBU training as you said, the gap between them at the same age is vast. However once he actually starts receiving individual training and getting mission experience I fully expect that his growth rate will exceed his brother's considering their age."

That was enough to bring even Anko out of her agitated state. Until the Uchiha Massacre. Uchiha Itachi had been regarded as one of the most talented Shinobi that Konoha had ever seen some one who would be certain to have their name spoken of in the same manner as that of the Sannin or the White Fang, if not the Yellow Flash. The fact that Sasuke might have that level of potential was shocking. Despite herself she found herself slightly interested in the brat.

'It might not be bad training him.' Anko found herself thinking as images of a future dark-haired shinobi wearing a trench coat with the Uchiha symbol on its back over his fishnet shirt, graciously accepting accolades from Konoha while thanking his great teacher Mitarashi Anko flashed through her mind.

"However I am getting somewhat off-topic." Anko's day dream vanished as the Hokage continued his reasoning.

"If it was simply a case of training a talented gennin then there are a number of jounin I could trust to train him, however there is another factor that needs to be kept in mind when discussing Sasuke."

The Hokage took another puff from his pipe as he spoke of a matter that always pained him when it came to his mind. "You know of the Uchiha Massacre?"

It was less of a question and more of a simple statement so Anko merely kept her gaze centred on the Sandaime as he finally got to the true reasoning behind her new assignment.

"As anyone could expect Sasuke has sworn to avenge his clan by killing his brother. As can also be expected he hates Itachi to a degree I have rarely seen. Leaving aside the difficulty he will face in accomplishing his goal, I am more worried that his emotions will consume him and make him a danger not only to himself but also to any team I place him on as well as to Konoha as a whole."

Anko found herself slightly empathising with the brat. The players involved might have been different but she knew the feelings of betrayal, loss and hatred all too well. In spite of what her few friends might be forgiven for thinking given Anko's energetic attitude; those feelings were still very much alive in her soul. They might have been buried deep but they still lurked within her, waiting.

"That is why I initially wished to place him with a sensei who would at the very least understand what Sasuke has lost and has seen enough experience to realise the damage such a loss can do to a person's mentality."

'Kakashi' Anko thought. She knew enough of the famous copy-nin's history to know that the famed shinobi had lost practically everyone he had cared about.

"When the Council raised their objections, I was forced to consider alternative sensei to teach Sasuke, some of whom I would not have considered before. I found a person who, while not technically a jounin would be able to understand Sasuke better then even Kakashi."

Anko found her body stiffening at the last few words as she realised the reason behind the Sandaime choosing her to be Sasuke's sensei. 'Congratulations Anko-chan, you get saddled with a gennin kid not because they recognise your strength or skill but because you're the only one screwed up enough to relate to the brat. What was that saying about birds of a feather flocking together?'

"Anko." Sarutobi said with a stone hard expression on his face.

'Shit, did I say that out loud?' Anko's face flushed.

Sarutobi shook his head slightly before continuing. "Despite everything that Orochimaru did to you; you did not allow your experience at his hands to break you and neither did you let your own emotions consume you. I will work with you on your skills but that resilience of character is a rare quality and that resilience is something that Sasuke needs right now before his emotions consume him completely. That is why I am entrusting him to you."

"Do you accept this responsibility?"

"Hokage-sama..." Anko chewed her lip slightly before saying in a rush. "I accept."

Sarutobi held her gaze for second before nodding his head. "Excellent. You can get his file from Ishida outside. The time to pick up gennin from the academy is two o' clock. Don't be late. You'll still have to administer the gennin qualification test but however how you test him is up to you as long as you let me know the result before the end of tomorrow."

"Wait, wait...You mean after that speech, I can still fail him?"

Sarutobi's response however was firm and to the point. "No, you can still give him a legitimate test. Whether he passes or fails will be up to him."

"Understood." The Hokage's meaning was clear. No tests that the Uchiha brat would automatically fail or a simply impossible challenge. She'd have to give a genuine test and pass or fail him honestly.

Anko stood up and bowed her head in good bye before turning to leave. She had just stepped through the doorway when the Hokage's voice stopped her. "One more thing, Anko."

'Now what?' Anko was slightly annoyed as she looked back.

"Please report to me tonight at..." The Hokage flipped through his schedule. "Let's say half past nine."

"What for? I thought the test result wasn't due till tomorrow evening?" Anko was unable to think of another reason as to why the Hokage would summon her at that time.

"Both you and the Council did have a point about one thing. Your skill level is not entirely appropriate for a teaching position, which is why I will be personally training you starting from tonight till you qualify as a jounin. "

There were not many sights that generally afforded the Hokage genuine amusement during his office hours, the sight of Mitarashi Anko's jaw dropping would be one of the few. The way her eyes widened as he used a quick jutsu to close his office door on her face would be another one.


Kakashi wasn't particularly in the mood to talk with the newest member added to his proposed team but he'd thought he'd sneak a quick look at the supposedly former Root member anyway. Just from his first glance, the famed copy ninja knew three things. There was no way this child could be called normal, that Root had a lot to answer for and if this team did pass his test, then he would no longer be able to make fun of the way Gai or his student dressed, ever again. 'Seriously what did Root do to this kid to make him think belly shirts were a good idea at his age?'


Iruka's eyes widened as he looked over the finalised team list that he had just received from the Hokage's office. It should have been the exact same list that he had given the Hokage last night along with the Hokage's signature of approval but when he had glanced over to the team containing his favourite student, he saw a name that he was fairly certain had not belonged to any student of the Academy for the last four years.

"Excuse me, Ishida-san." Iruka said looking up at the Hokage's secretary who had delivered the team list which in itself was unusual. "but who is this Sai? I don't remember a student by that name in the Academy even in the other teachers' classes."

"Ah, the Hokage told me you would want to know about that." Ishida said, giving Iruka a look. "I have his official file here. The story that's going around is that his team was dissolved. Apparently they encountered a missing nin while they were already injured and returning from another mission. The gennin survived but their Sensei died saving them."

'How come I haven't anything about that? This doesn't make any sense.' Iruka wondered. The death of a jounin-sensei would have been fairly big news as far as the ninja gossip line was concerned. While Iruka was not nearly as paranoid as ninja who went on field missions were, wheels slowly turned in his mind. "What about his team-mates?"

"Story on one is that she won't be fit for duty for half a year at best, possibly longer and the other one quit apparently."

To 'look underneath the underneath' was a lesson that Iruka had often taught his students and while he was not a field ninja, the chunnin's mind slowly drew circles around the words 'story' and 'apparently' that his fellow chunnin had just mentioned twice in the conversation. Alarm bells rang through his head as Ishida continued. "The higher ups felt that it would be best that Sai be eased back into duty on a new gennin team. He was told to come to the Academy at two o' clock to meet his new team."

Iruka shook his head slightly. "Ishida-san, would it be possible to get an appointment to meet that Hokage later today?"

Ishida grinned. "He's already scheduled one for you at three-thirty. Don't be late."

"Thank you, Ishida-san." Iruka noticed that the secretary was giving him an expectant look.

"I'm waiting for your next question, Umino-san."

"My next…?"

"Read the rest of the list, Umino-san." Ishida said patiently and with an expression that reminded Iruka all too much of Naruto when he was waiting for a victim to fall for one of his pranks.

Iruka glanced down at the list again. 'What else could be the…wait Sasuke's sensei is… '

"HER?"


Uchiha Sasuke sat in his usual seat with his hands clasped together as he waited for the graduation ceremony to begin. The newly graduated gennin was doing his level best to forget the previous fives minutes beginning from when Uzumaki Naruto had sat on his desk till Iruka entered the class room and began his speech. Sasuke ignored his sensei's words for the most part and instead concentrated on the fact that he was finally graduating from the Academy and would be able to truly pursue his ambition when he was pulled from his thoughts when Iruka's words actually registered in his head.

"You all will be in a group of three, where you will accomplish missions under a Jounin teacher."

'A group of three, that's only going to burden me.' Sasuke thought looking up at technically his former sensei as he began giving out team assignments. He hoped that at least Iruka would be kind enough to not place him on a team with one or even worse two of his fan-girls.

"Team 7, Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura"

"Yeah!"

"Ugh..."

Sasuke did his best to ignore the two on his right, although a small part of him mentally crossed his fingers. To be on the same team as one of his fan-girls and the Dobe would be as bad as being on a team with two fan-girls.

"and Sai." Iruka finished, shooting Naruto a dark look for interrupting.

'Sai?' That caused Sasuke and a few of the more attentive gennin to give Iruka questioning looks. While Sasuke could easily be labelled as antisocial, no one could have the same classmates for years without sooner or later knowing their names at least.

Beside him, Sakura slowly raised her hand to call their sensei's attention. "Iruka-sensei, who's Sai? He's not in this class."

"Ah" Iruka made a show of shuffling through some papers on his desk before he responded keeping his eyes focused on an otherwise blank piece of paper. The chunnin-teacher had never been one for the more deceptive part of being a shinobi especially when the targets of the deception were his precious students; however he still did his best to follow Ishida's instructions. "Here it is, Sai's team was ambushed while on a mission."

Noticing the way he had the entire class's attention right now, Iruka couldn't help feeling that something good might come of this after all. 'Hopefully this will drive home that gennin ninja's aren't invincible.'

"The team was later disbanded due to the death of their jounin teacher and other two members being unfit to continue as ninja." Iruka paused to let that sink in. "Sai is just coming out of rehabilitation himself and as we had an open spot available in one of our teams, it was decided that it would be best that he be placed there to ease him back to active duty."

Iruka's small hope of the new gennins appreciating the gravity of his words were promptly dashed as an excited buzz arose in the class room as the students 'discussed' the news. The chunnin teacher barely suppressed a groan as he realised some of the louder voices were coming from one corner in the back of the class.

"First Naruto, then Fore-head girl and now another loser."

'Kesigawa Naru' Iruka mentally lamented in his head. 'and her follower Aino Kasumi...'

"Yeah, guy can't be that hot if his team got beaten that badly."

"Maybe they ought to rename the Team 7 as the Deadweight Team."

Iruka opened his mouth to yell at the class but was interrupted before he ever got a chance.

"Hey, Iruka-sensei." Naruto yelled waving his arm. "Iruka-Sensei, Why is a top student like me in a group with this Sai guy? He'll just hold a genius ninja like me back."

"Naruto!" Iruka yelled. In a peculiar way Iruka had always been more sensitive to Naruto displaying similar behaviour as the class bullies. He definitely didn't want his favourite student to pick up any of their bad habits.

"We do this to evenly divide the abilities between the groups. You were ranked dead-last in the class, Sakura meanwhile was placed right in the middle which is still above many of this class." Here Iruka shot the sniggering Kasumi a very pointed look. "and as Sai has been a gennin for months now, his abilities will be above any one in this class."

Sasuke looked up upon hearing the last part. The Uchiha had started giving a silent prayer of thanks when he realised how close he had come to being in the same team as Naruto and Sakura but the last part was enough to put Sasuke's mind on to another chain of thought 'I should have considered that, this Sai must have been a gennin for months at least. He's probably had more advanced training and been on a number of missions.'

The competitive Uchiha blood began to boil slowly. 'It might be interesting sparring with him.'

Meanwhile Naruto was sitting with his arms crossed, fuming. It wasn't only Iruka-sensei's words right now but the teasing from most of the class behind him that was really making the blonde gennin mad.

"Looks like something's never change."

"Yeah, even if he somehow managed to pass, Naruto's still dead-last."

"It figures though right." Kiba chuckled before continuing in a whisper designed to reach the whole class save for the teacher. "They had to bring in an experienced gennin to balance the team with a dobe like Naruto bringing them down."

That tore it. Turning around in his seat, Naruto yelled "Who are you calling a dobe? You dog-smelling freak?"

"Dog-smelling? You..." Kiba snarled, getting ready to jump out of his seat.

"SETTLE DOWN, You guys!" Iruka yelled. "Just because you're all gennin now does not meant that I can't still discipline any of you."

Both the rambunctious gennin settled back down in their seats. They had enough experience pushing their sensei's buttons for them to know when Iruka-sensei was being completely serious.

Giving a small nod of satisfaction at the sight, Iruka slowly finished assigning out the remaining teams and it was only when their teacher had finished, did Sasuke realise that his name hadn't been mentioned.

"Hey Iruka-sense" Ino called out. "You forgot to say whose team Sasuke-kun is on."

At Ino's words, every kunoichi except for Hyuuga Hinata straightened, giving a quick glance towards Sasuke before turning and fixing their gaze on the suddenly very nervous teacher.

'This must be what an animal handler feels like when it's feeding time at the dog pound' Iruka thought. An image of ravenous hounds completely focused on a piece of meat came to his mind as he looked at the young kunoichi, all perfectly willing to bite off the handler's hand if he was just a bit slow or bite the handler himself if they did not get a piece tossed to them directly.

The chunnin sensei was suddenly very glad that he wasn't placing Sasuke on any team right now. By delaying the announcement regarding Sasuke's placement as the Hokage's secretary had requested he had inadvertently built up anticipation among the female gennin. There could easily be a riot if he placed 'their Sasuke-kun' on a team with another kunoichi.

Iruka realised they were all still waiting for him to speak. Shaking his head the teacher explained. "That is because Sasuke has not been placed on any team."

'What does he mean?' Sasuke thought ignoring Naruto who had suddenly started laughing.

"Hey Sasuke, looks like you aren't so great are you? Maybe you can try again next year."

"Be quiet Naruto!" Iruka yelled, before turning to face Sasuke. "I meant to discuss this with you after class Sasuke, but with your permission?"

'What's this about?' Sasuke wondered before inclining his head at Iruka with the casual self assurance of one who knew that he had done nothing to be punished for and much that others praised him for.

At Sasuke's slight nod, Iruka began to elaborate "Sasuke has been offered a chance to become the sole apprentice of a tokubetsu Jounin."

"NANI?" Naruto yelled along with Sakura and a few of the more rabid fangirls.

Ino and the remaining disappointed fan-girls meanwhile populated the air with a chorus of depressed "Sasuke-kun's"

Sasuke himself was completely shocked and it showed his expression. 'What's going on? I thought they stopped the Apprenticeship system years ago.'

As before it seemed that one of the few good points of having a loudmouthed self-proclaimed rival as well a number of similarly annoying fan-girls was that one didn't necessarily have to ask questions regarding anything that affected themselves. They did it for you, loudly.

"Wasn't the apprentice system phased out? " One of the brainier girls in the front of the class asked.

"Iruka-sensei, Can't I be an apprentice with Sasuke? It'd be better to balance the teams out."

"Figures that the Uchiha Survivor would be made an apprentice wouldn't it?"

"Yeah, too special to be in a normal team with the rest of us." Two of the quieter but still just as jealous as Naruto boys jeered from the middle.

"Did Iruka-sensei say a tokubetsu jounin ?

"You're right. Hey Iruka-sensei, I thought only full jounin could become sensei?"

"Figures. If anyone would be chosen to become an apprentice they'd choose that guy."

"Yeah, lucky bastard."

"IRUKA-SENSEI!" Of course the loudest voice had to belong to Naruto who had jumped to his feet and was pounding the table with his fist on every other word. "How come that guy gets to be an apprentice when an ace student like me is put in a regular team? HOW COME..."

Naruto suddenly found himself flying sideways as Sakura's fist connected with his cheek. "Don't shout in my ear you moron! Are you trying to make me deaf?"

Iruka had quite enough by now. "I TOLD YOU TO SETTLE DOWN!"

The class became as silent as a tomb.

"Now," Iruka said in a tone that would brook no argument even from Naruto. "You've all received your team assignments and your jounin-sensei will be here to pick you up after lunch, so don't be late. Sasuke, if you have any questions regarding your placement, please come see me in the faculty lounge during lunch and I'll do my best to answer them. That is all."

"but Iruka-sens..."

"Every one, DISMISSED!"


Anko found herself wondering about in a semi-daze around Konoha.

'Wonder if I should buy a lottery ticket?' Anko randomly thought. 'or maybe one of those scratch cards. Nah better not, way my luck is going today I'd probably win something at least but whether I'd actually want it would be something else.'

"Hey get in or get out of the way lady." Anko barely registered that someone was speaking to her before being rudely brushed aside. Looking up she realised that she had somehow made her way to her favourite dango shop. The delicious smell of dango and green tea wafted over to her nose and went all the way down to her stomach which loudly informed her and everyone nearby that she had not had anything to eat since the last night.

Feeling her face flush slightly, Anko made her way to a seat reasoning that it was probably best to be well fed and confused instead of hungry and confused.

That was where Kurenai found her half an hour later. On her third cup of tea and fourth round of dango while reading through an open file on the table in front of her. Giving a quick signal to the waitress for her regular order, the red-eyed kunoichi made her way over to her friend.

"Hey Anko." Kurenai said sliding onto the seat opposite Anko before reaching out to steal a dango skewer from Anko's plate.

"Kurenai, Thank the Kami." Anko said looking up, making the recently promoted jounin stare. Her friend was looking somewhat desperate and the few times she had that look when not on missions were generally when...

"I'm broke till next Monday." Kurenai responded bluntly.

"Wha..." Anko said before realisation came. She made a face. "Oh, I don't want any money; in fact I think I got paid a bundle for my last mission."

"Then what's wrong? The only time I saw you like this was when you couldn't make your payments on that overpriced tea ceremony set you bought and were terrified that they'd send someone to repossess it while you were on a mission."

"That tea set was - Dynasty and" Anko bristled before calming down suddenly. "Ah forget it, this is more important anyway. Here take a look."

Anko slid the open file she had been reading across the table to Kurenai who looked at it with interest.

"This is..." She whispered. Kurenai recognised the type of file immediately; she had browsing through three similar files herself just a short time ago.

Kurenai flipped the file shut, taking a look at the cover to double check before opening the file to read from the beginning. Completely casually the genjutsu mistress stopped the flow of chakra in her body before applying a sudden surge of chakra throughout her body. At the same time the jounin kunoichi's mind was evaluating everything she had observed upon entering this restaurant and meeting her friend, trying to look for some flaw that would indicate the use of a genjutsu.

Anko meanwhile waved the waitress who had appeared with Kurenai's order to place it on the side of the table while ignoring the sudden ebb of her friend's chakra flow followed by a strong surge. The fact that her friend considered Anko having a gennin student's file as grounds to check for genjutsu didn't bother her at all. While not having Kurenai's talent in the field, Anko herself was fairly skilled at genjutsu even if her techniques were technically forbidden by Konoha and she knew just as well if not better then Kurenai how insidious the art of genjutsu could be.

In fact, most ninjas who had achieved a certain degree of mastery of genjutsu had a tendency to regularly check if they themselves were under a genjutsu technique. While even other ninja (generally those who were not skilled in genjutsu) considered this habit paranoid particularly when the genjutsu users conducted such self-checks despite being in their home-village and not on a mission, those skilled in the use of illusions ignored them completely. They above all knew how much damage a powerful genjutsu master could unleash. Kurenai herself had gotten into the habit of checking for genjutsu the moment when anything that could be called slightly unusual occurred and her friend carrying around the jounin sensei version of a gennin's file qualified.

"So the rumors were true." Kurenai muttered, looking up. "You are going to be a sensei of a gennin team."

Anko's mouth was currently full of dango or she might have corrected her friend's assumption.

"Are you really taking over Kakashi's team? Where are the other team members' files?"

Anko quickly swallowed her dango before responding. "No, no. Kakashi still has his team."

"Then why?"

"I" Anko said with great drama and ceremony. "am upholding a proud and ancient tradition of Konoha and making a contribution towards guiding the feature of our great village, I, the beautiful and wonderful Miterashi Anko will be taking on an apprentice."

'Well it looks like she's feeling better at any rate' Kurenai couldn't hold back a small smile at Anko's performance. A depressed or even simply worried Anko just wasn't right in her view. Still Kurenai couldn't help asking. "You? An apprentice?"

"Yup."

"How did they manage to convince you to teach a gennin? The woman who told me that she'd rather go on an undercover mission in Lord Fang's harem then be in my shoes babysitting a bunch of gennin babies and changing their diapers." Kurenai couldn't help laughing at the memory of her celebration at being confirmed as a jounin-sensei.

Anko's face twisted at having her own words tossed back at her. "You would have to remember that despite being dead drunk, wouldn't you?"

"Oh, but hearing one of your best friends being perfectly willing to be a member of the harem of the most sick and twisted man in the Land of Fire is one of the thing's a girl remembers Anko-chan."

"Besides" Kurenai said, her red eyes glittering with smug amusement as she pointed to herself. "Two hollow legs remember."

Anko scowled. "Ok, ok...I'm sorry I teased you about becoming a teacher alright?"

Kurenai decided she could be magnanimous in her victory. "How did you get the Uchiha kid as an apprentice anyway? I thought he was in Kakashi's team?"

Anko leaned back, hands behind her head, her feet casually brushing Kurenai's legs as she stretched. "Hokage-sama decided that the brat deserved being made an apprentice given his grades and his heritage. I'll tell you the full story later."

Kurenai got the message. Whatever the reason was behind Anko being made a sensei, it wasn't one that could be discussed in public. She'd get the full details later though.

"So why were you so grateful to see me for?" Kurenai said, taking a sip of her rapidly cooling tea.

Anko took a deep breath. "I need some adv…no I need a LOT of advice. You went to all those teaching seminars right?"

"There were only three, Anko and they just covered some of the basics."

"More then I got. " Anko scowled. "Hell, I don't even know exactly what I'm supposed to teach the brat, probably everything if the academy has become as soft as I heard."

Kurenai took a moment to consider the situation, taking another sip of her tea before picking up a skewer of dango from her plate. With anyone else she might have advised that they remember their own experience as gennin and use that as a base for how they treated their own students but she wasn't sure she could honestly give Anko that advice.

"Well, from what I understand the Academy no longer teaches chakra control exercises as standard." Kurenai stated ignoring the snort Anko gave at that information along with the muttered insults to the Academy teachers while taking small bites of her dango. "Makes it a bit tougher to identify potential medical or genjutsu talent which is annoying. So the tree climbing exercise might be a good idea if you have nothing else to do."

"Other then that," Kurenai said tapping the open file before her with her fingers. "The general advice given to us was to initially work on promoting teamwork and basic training before doing any specialised training."

"Well that's out for me. Bit hard to practice teamwork if you're in a team of one."

Kurenai frowned this time and pointed her now empty dango stick at her friend. "You still have to work with the kid, Anko. Your in the team too remember? It's a team of two, not one. He might be a fresh gennin but your still going to have to develop some sort of team work otherwise the reason he'll be a liability on a mission will be because of you."

Anko crossed her arms and scowled across the table but Kurenai kept her skewer pointed at Anko along with a serious expression of her own till the purple haired kunoichi nodded her head in grudging acceptance.

"What was that bit about specialised training?" Anko asked wanting to move the topic away from developing teamwork with her new apprentice as far as possible.

"Well, the advice we were given was to do the teamwork and general training first and see what their skills were like. If they were horribly poor in some areas then focus on bringing them up to standard in that area. If they showed talent in some area then it might be ok to give some additional training in that area. Generally though the sensei giving the seminar said that most gennin would receive additional training as well as be taught jutsu by their family members, so we were advised to do some coordinating with their family to make sure we were on the same page. I'm going to be making a few visits to my kids families later this week."

In this Kurenai was stating Konoha's current policy regarding gennin training. Most ninja families had secret jutsu that they had painstakingly created and preserved since before the founding of Konoha. They were traditionally loath to teach their secrets to people outside their own family and to be fair generations of specialising in those secret jutsus had left their mark on most of families. While not on the level of actual blood line abilities, a member of an old ninja family would generally have greater natural talent in their family's techniques compared to an outsider who was merely taught that technique.

The current system allowed for ninja families to get the first opportunity to pass on their techniques to their children with jounin-sensei stepping in if the child did not display an aptitude for their family's teachings which was rare or to merely round of the child's education after they had become proficient in their family's jutsu. This system did have its flaws however in that gennin who did not come from ninja families tended to slip through the cracks.

What made the system somewhat better or worse depending on whom you asked though was that jounin-sensei were advised to not give additional training to any gennin beyond the basics unless the gennin themselves sought such training. The reasoning behind it did make a little sense, if you accepted the fact that the gennin were no longer true students but rather subordinates, if they wanted additional training then they had to decide and seek it out, without any real handholding. Those who passionately wanted to get stronger for whatever reason would invariably ask for such training. Those who were just coasting along would not. A gennin from a ninja family who did not display such interest would sooner or later fall behind the gennin from a civilian family who truly desired to improve.

Kurenai's voice became somewhat teasing at her next words. "You might have some problems with that though. Your kid's an Uchiha and going by his file was always asking his sensei for advanced training. You don't have a family to coordinate with but that only means, you're the first person he'll ask first and this file states he's definitely got a lot of potential in taijutsu and ninjutsu. It'll be a bit though deciding what to focus on."

"Suppose I should just be grateful he doesn't have any talent in genjutsu." Anko groaned as she buried her head on the table. 'I couldn't get a nice lazy gennin, could I? Someone who would stare at clouds and wouldn't pester me?'

"He might." Kurenai stated matter of factly, making Anko look up at her with a small scowl. "I said that the Academy curriculum these days is not exactly good at finding out a student's potential in genjutsu remember? And if I recall correctly most Uchihas' had some talent in genjutsu particularly if they had the Sharingan. Uchiha Shisui was a genius with genjutsu, so was Sasuke's brother. If he's anything like them..."

"So much for narrowing the field..." Anko groaned, closing her eyes, thinking of the work involved. "So basically I might have to focus on teaching the brat everything?"

"It's though having to teach a genius isn't it? Better you then me. "

Anko opened her eyes to Kurenai's smiling face. "When did you begin enjoying kicking people when they were down, Kurenai-chan?"

"I think I picked it up from my best friend, Anko-chan."

Anko attempted to glare before settling for an amused snort. "If you're going to pick things up from me, should I assume you'll be looking for a good trench coat next? I bet Asuma would love to see you in a fishnet shirt."

"Do not go there." Kurenai glared. 'I knew I shouldn't have told her about the time Asuma tried to kiss me when he was drunk.'

Anko smirked as she saw a light blush come to her friend's cheeks. Kurenai for some reason unknown to Anko liked the bearded jounin who had recently returned from his stint as a guardian of the Fire Daimyo, even if she denied it. Anko had nothing against him personally. Asuma was a nice enough guy and almost as laid back as the men of the Nara clan generally were but she couldn't help laughing herself silly the one time Kurenai had told her that the person Kurenai wanted to fight against the most was Sarutobi Asuma. The teasing she had given her friend about what type of sparring and whether it would take place in the bedroom or a more natural environment had been tremendous.

"Ok, ok. Getting back on track, so what is this gennin qualification test like?"

Kurenai's expression softened as she responded to the subject change although there was still an undercurrent of 'don't push it' in her voice. "Do you really have to give that test? It's mostly a teamwork exercise, just some goal that they can't complete unless they work together. I don't know how you're going to do it if Sasuke is your only apprentice."

"Sandaime-sama said I did and I was a bit too shaken to ask him what it meant at the time."

"Your sensei never did the qualification test?" Kurenai wanted to slap herself the instant the words slipped her mouth. Her general policy was to never bring up Orochimaru in Anko's presence unless her friend brought her so-called sensei up first.

"Nah. He just made me do some jutsu's, a quick spar and finally said I was less annoying then the other kids Sarutobi-sama pushed on him. " Anko resisted the urge to rub her neck as she spoke. She would not let her sensei have more influence over her life then he already did.

"Perhaps you could do the same? Sarutobi-sama couldn't object if you drew somewhat on your past experience, could he? For something like this, I mean."

"Yeah..." Anko said considering. "He's the one who pushed this brat on me anyways. I suppose I could double check with him when I meet him later tonight anyway."

"Your meeting him later tonight?"

"Oh, didn't I tell you? " Anko said giving her friend a grin that Kurenai would have considered a sign of insanity on anyone save Anko.

"Tell me what?" Kurenai asked. 'What is she upto now?'

Anko smile grew bigger as she waited, the glint in her eyes becoming even brighter when she observed who was entering the restaurant.

"Just tell me alright." Kurenai said becoming agitated.

Anko waited some more with all the amused patience of a snake watching its prey walking towards it willingly.

"You can be so annoying sometimes." Kurenai huffed doing her best to ignore Anko as she brought her tea cup up to her lips.

Which had been precisely what Anko had been waiting for.

With all the malevolence of a striking cobra she pounced, leaning in close to whisper in Kurenai's ear her voice dripping with sexual innuendo like poison. "Sarutobi-sama plans on taking me on as a personal student and giving me lessons all night long."

A few things happened in quick succession. First sheer surprise made Kurenai spit hot tea out of her mouth and nose. Second, Anko used shunshin no jutsu to quickly get out of the way of the (anticipated) flying tea. Third, Kurenai glared up at her so called friend with her red eyes promising a swift revenge even as she coughed out the remaining liquid from her nose and finally Anko's anticipatory grin grew even bigger despite her friend's glare as she watched the last part of her hastily put together plan come up from behind Kurenai.

"Are you alright, Kurenai-san?" asked Sarutobi Asuma in a concerned voice.

Kurenai's face became pale as she realised who was beside her before flushing a deep red that was one part embarrassment and two parts anger as Anko's grin gave way to sheer laughter.

"You know, I really hate you sometimes, Anko." Kurenai said before giving another cough.

Anko's laughter turned into mad cackles as Asuma watched bewilderedly.


At about the same time two other discussions regarding Konoha's newest apprentice-sensei pair were taking place, one between the Sandaime and Kakashi while another between the apprentice in question and his academy teacher. However another interesting encounter was about to take place between two future team mates.

Naruto cursed his stomach as he ran back to Sakura who he hoped was still waiting for her 'Sasuke-kun' on bench outside the academy. The henge'd ninja ran full tilt towards his cherry haired crush who looked up at him with a smile as he approached.

"Sasuke-kun,"

'She's so beautiful when she's smiling.' Naruto thought finding himself struck dumb at the sight of Sakura happy to see him. When her words actually registered it caused a flood of jealousy throughout Naruto's body. 'That bastard Sasuke could make her smile like this anytime he wants and he doesn't even care'.

'Yosh! All I have to do is act so disgusting that Sakura-chan won't ever want anything to do with her precious Sasuke-kun ever again.' Naruto grinned causing Sakura to blush as she thought the smile was directed at her. 'and then she'll be willing to be my girlfriend. Dattebayo!'

Naruto was so lost in his day dream of him and Sakura together that he almost didn't notice the whistling sound of thrown shuriken as they came through the air from behind Sakura and headed straight towards the henge'd blonde.

"Heh...NANI?" Naruto let out a loud yell as he jumped awkwardly to the side, not so much gracefully landing as doing a peculiar combination of skidding and rolling as he dodged the launched projectiles.

"Sasuke-kun" Sakura yelled this time in concern as she ran over to help up the one she thought was her crush.

"Who threw that? I'll defeat anyone who tries to interfere with me and my Sakura-chan! Dattebayo!" Sasuke yelled standing up and shaking his fist in the direction the shuriken had been thrown from.

'He called me, his Sakura-chan' Sakura couldn't help the sudden burst of happiness through her body when Inner-Sakura shouted for attention.

'Yeah he called us 'his' Sakura-chan. Don't you see a few things wrong with that? or what he's doing now?'

Sakura blinked as Sasuke continued to yell and threaten wildly in front of her. 'Why is he behaving like...?'

Before the kunoichi could complete that thought, a new voice interrupted Sasuke's screaming and drove all other matters out of Sakura's mind.

"I apologise."

"Sasuke-kun, behind you!" Sakura yelled warning her crush of the pale skinned boy behind him who was now holding a kunai next the Uchiha's throat.

'Where did he come from? I should have seen him sneak up behind Sasuke-kun.' Sakura couldn't believe that someone had sneaked up on both Sasuke and her like this. While she had been distracted she should still have seen this guy.

'Even Sasuke-kun was surprised.' Sakura realised as she observed comprehension of the kunai at his throat dawn on her classmate. Both the newly graduated gennin froze stiff, not wanting to make a move.

'This guy is weird.' Sakura thought as she started at their attacker. Despite the fact that he was holding a blade to her Sasuke-kun's throat, the inexperienced gennin thought he should have shown some expression. Instead their attacker's face was completely and utterly blank. There was no anger, cruelty or even boredom apparent on his face.

"Who are you?" Sakura asked loudly, the fear apparent in her voice. Sasuke meanwhile had a look of fear on his face as his eyes remained fixed on the kunai that was just drawing a drop of blood on the side of his neck.

"As I said, I apologise." The dark haired boy meanwhile had no such feeling as he casually began moving his blade away from his target's neck with a complete lack of concern. "I simply wanted to know how weak my new small dicked team mate that I had to protect would be."

Sakura's mind broke momentarily as the young girl tried to get her mind around the image of her Sasuke-kun that the stranger's words had produced.

"I'm gonna pound you!" Sasuke had no hesitation in his response, spinning around and throwing all his weight behind a strong right hook.

The dark haired boy merely stepped to the side avoiding the clumsy punch and reaching out to simply give the already off-balance and charging gennin a strong shove which sent him rolling on to the ground.

"Sasuke-kun." Sakura screamed, ignoring her training as well as the dark haired boy and running over to Sasuke.

"Don't you say anything else besides Sasuke-kun?" The expressionless boy said in a voice that matched his expression as the kunioichi ran past him to help her fallen classmate up.

"Don't insult Sakura-chan, you belly shirted freak!" Sasuke made a lunge towards the one who had insulted his Sakura-chan when he halted mid way, looking to his left and leaning closer in as he realised that his Sakura-chan currently had her arm across his back as she helped him up.

"If your Sasuke-kun's team mate then why are you attacking him?"

"I am not Uchiha Sasuke's team mate. I am yours." The belly-shirt wearing boy responded calmly. "My name is Sai."

Sakura's jaw dropped as she recognised the name.

"I am a member of Team 7 under Hatake Kakashi, with Haruno Sakura and Uzumaki Naruto. Iruka-san should have already told you about me" The newly revealed Sai said nodding his head first at Sakura as he mentioned her name and then at...Sasuke?

"What do you mean your our team-mate?" Naruto yelled ignoring the sudden stiffening of his female team member. "There's no way a jerk like you could be on our teaaaiye..."

Naruto's voice changed to a higher pitch as he was suddenly yanked to the side bringing him face to henge'd face with his crush.

"Sakura-chan..." Naruto sweat dropped.

"NARUTO NO BAKA!"


Some time later Sai after taking a long look at Haruno Sakura's back as she stalked off in the direction of the academy, turned to look back at the crumpled orange and blonde heap on the ground nearby.

The boy, who already had trained in the merciless Root, reviewed the mission objectives Danzo-sama had given him last night. 'Monitor Naruto for the re-appearance of the Kyuubi, prevent attempts to subvert him away from Konoha, if possible foster an aggressive attitude towards other countries and 'separate' him from his team mates and protect him from threats both physical and non-physical from other villages' ninjas. Report on team's activities.'

Looking back down at the mercifully unconscious ninja at his feet, Sai couldn't help wondering if he should have protected Naruto from this Haruno Sakura as well or whether that would come under 'separating' him from his team mates.

'I'll ask Danzo-sama later.' Sai decided. Making the Ram seal, the ninja quickly shunshin'd away to spot where he could wait for Hatake Kakashi's arrival as well as keep an eye on his battered and beaten charge who was still unconscious on the ground.


Sakura massaged her knuckles. They had started hurting shortly after she had left her two new team mates. Despite her best efforts the young kunoichi felt her eyes water.

'It's only pain from the bruising. It'll stop when my hands heal.' Sakura told herself looking at her knuckles. The pink haired girl couldn't even make herself believe that.

'Damm it, Naruto. Why does he have to be so cruel? I thought that things would be different now that I was a gennin ' Leaning back on the school wall, Sakura couldn't help but wonder how she had started the day hoping for a new beginning and how quickly it had all started to go wrong. Getting into an argument with Ino on the way to school, not being able to beat her in their unspoken race that had been just the start. Naruto's idiotic stealing of Sasuke's first kiss and then Sasuke being assigned to another team that had crushed two of her dreams and then to have her hopes raised, that her crush might truly return her feelings only to find out that it had been just been a mean trick played on her by the class clown who was also her new team mate and to have her stupidity pointed out to her by her other new team mate.

'How dare that Naruto play with an innocent girl's feelings.'Sakura let out a humourless chuckle. What the pink haired gennin had termed her Inner Sakura was still raging on Naruto.

In terms of social standing the blonde was regarded as practically a no-go area by most of the kids in the class. Only some of the wilder or just plain lazy kids occasionally hung out with him and she had even heard that the parents of many of her classmates had outright forbidden them from associating with Naruto. While her own parents had never given her such a restriction she had no real desire to associate with him anyway. Naruto in her view was a slacker and jester who deserved his position as dead last. Sakura herself had to work harder then most of the other students in order to make up for the advantage they had coming from ninja families and having the class consistently disrupted by Naruto's actions was beyond annoying to a girl who seriously wanted to do her best in becoming a ninja. The other kids could ask for help from their family to make up for whatever they lost in class, but she could not. Naruto's loud boasts claiming his abilities as the top of the class when in fact they were near the bottom, his appearance and lack of respect for practically anything were all qualities that did not remotely endear him to Sakura.

'If I did something like that my parents would be so ashamed of me, they'd ground me for a month.' Sakura thought.

The girl was startled from her misery when a door from the main academy building across where she was sitting opened. Her eyes brightened when she noticed her crush through the open door way turning around to give a nod to Iruka-sensei before walking away, closing the door behind him.

'I remember, Iruka-sensei told Sasuke to speak with him if he had any questions.' Sakura's mood lifted even more as she noticed that not even one of the other members of the Sasuke fan-club was present.

'Shannaro! Love prevails, now go get him.'Sakura gave a quick wipe of her eyes before making her way over to Sasuke with a hopeful smile on her face.


Sasuke had a frown on his face as he walked away with his hands in his pockets from his meeting with his academy sensei. Despite the fact that the meeting was ostensibly to answer questions that the young Uchiha might have had, Sasuke couldn't help feeling that Iruka knew only slightly more then he did or at least didn't want to talk about a lot of what he did know.

A slight hunger pang reminded the Uchiha that he had skipped lunch to have that almost worthless meeting.

'Wonder what time it is?' Sasuke glanced up at the Sun making an estimate at what time it was before double-checking with a look at the clock that the school had placed near it's play and lunch area. Telling the approximate time from the position of the Sun was a basic skill and one that Sasuke could do in his sleep but there was no reason to get sloppy or out of practice.

'Less then ten minutes left, not enough time for lunch. That meeting was definitely not worth skipping lunch for. Thank you Iruka '

'At the very least I know her name; Mitarashi Anko and Iruka did mention that she was known for her ability in ninjutsu and genjutsu.' Sasuke thought back to Iruka's face when he had given that information. The academy sensei had obviously been hesitant when mentioning the tokubetsu jounin's skills.

Sasuke was interrupted from his musings when the piercing cry of one his fan-girls filled the air.

"Sasuke-kun!"

Sasuke winched, before turning around to one of his more annoying stalkers jogging towards him.

"Sasuke-kun" Sakura repeated coming to a stop next to him. "It really is you right? Not Naruto?"

Sasuke's eyebrows rose. "Naruto?"

"I knew it was you." Sakura beamed. "That jerk Naruto henge'd himself into you to try to play a trick on me but he couldn't really copy you Sasuke-kun."

Understanding dawned on Sasuke. 'One of Naruto's pranks. It figures. '

The dobe was always gunning for Sasuke. Declaring that he would beat him but always failing. Sasuke wouldn't have minded so much if Naruto had actually been a decent opponent like Aburame Shino or even Yamanaka Ino who had surprisingly come close to being the number one rookie of the year but Naruto never really managed to come through on his boasts.

'I don't know whether I should try to stop him from doing this again or not. On one hand having the Dobe running around henge'd into me is somewhat insulting, on the other hand...' Sasuke shot a glance back at Sakura who was currently going on as to how she had seen through Naruto's prank right away. 'If he some how managed to attract all my so called fan club I'd probably thank him.'

"Say Sasuke-kun, have you had lunch yet?" Sakura looked up at him hopefully. "We can share."

"Where is he now?" Sasuke asked.

"Who Naruto?" Sakura was nonplussed with Sasuke's response. Sasuke merely nodded.

"Who cares about Naruto? All he does is get into fights with you, Sasuke-kun." Sakura's pent up frustration exploded out of her.

'Guess he upset her more then I thought.' Sasuke would have probably shrugged and walked away if Sakura's next words hadn't pinned his feet to the floor.

"Well he hasn't had a normal childhood. He doesn't have any parents. He can do whatever he wants." Sakura continued her rant, not paying attention Sasuke's body stiffening or his fingers clenching into fists inside his shorts.

'Does she even realise what she is saying?"

"If I acted like him my parents would get so mad at me. He's so lucky all alone, parents never getting on his case. That's why he misbehaves so much."

"All Alone." Sasuke muttered, turning to look straight at Sakura. "The sadness of having a parent yell at you is nowhere near what he feels."

What's this all of a sudden? Sakura asked surprised at her crush's reaction.

"You're annoying" Sasuke said simply and with feeling before walking off.

"Wait Sasuke-kun"

Sasuke ignored Sakura's yell and continued back to their class room. Lunch time was practically over and he hadn't had a chance to eat anything.

As he walked Sasuke did his best to put Sakura's speech out of his mind. The girl may have just proved what he always felt, that his fan-girls did not know a single thing about him but she and her team mates were un-important. His brother was important. Becoming strong enough to defeat him was important and that meant the experience, instruction and training he would receive from his special-jounin sensei was important.

'She will be teaching me one on one so that means I get dedicated training and I don't have to worry about others holding me back, that's a plus.' Sasuke mused. 'but she isn't a full jounin, only a tokubetsu jounin. Will she be able to teach me enough to fight my brother?'

'Known for her ability in ninjutsu and genjutsu, that's what Iruka said.'

Reaching his class room, Sasuke settled into his usual seat and waited as other students slowly trickled back in. Most came back in their assigned teams having taken the opportunity to get know each other better over lunch.

'Most genjutsu will be seen through easily with the Sharingan.' Sasuke thought remembering the basic information that he had been given about his clan's blood line when he was younger. 'Higher level genjutsu might not but that would depend on how strong the opponent's Sharingan was and how skilled they were in identifying genjutsu.'

The young gennin had already decided not to rely on the possibility of activating his blood line ability and to proceed towards his goal as if he never would. Even if he did end up activating his Sharingan something that Sasuke knew was not guaranteed, he would at least gain an understanding on how combat it.

'At the very least she would likely know how to defend against genjutsu that would be useful especially against the Sharingan. Ninjutsu is good especially if I use an element that Itachi is unfamiliar with, I'll still need to work on my handseals though.'

Most of his classmates continued chatting in their groups although volume did rise a bit when a beaten and battered Naruto staggered in, Sakura already having trudged in to class looking slightly depressed. A few kids glanced at Sasuke with curious expressions but he ignored them guessing they wanted to know about his apprenticeship and thankfully they didn't actually bother him.

"Settle down, class." Iruka said sticking his head in through the doorway. "Your jounin sensei will be arriving soon, just wait here and I'll bring them in as they arrive."

Sasuke watched with interest as one by one jounin ninja entered the class and claimed their teams.

"Team 3" A delicate looking Hyuuga kunoichi merely stuck her head in like Iruka had and called for her team.

Ten minutes later, a bald man with tattoos all over his head and apparently all over his body entered the class room. Sasuke dismissed him almost instantly from his consideration; according to Iruka his sensei was apparently a kunoichi. "Team 6..."

"Team 9..." A short red haired Kunoichi with a sword strapped across her back entered looking straight ahead.

'She looks competent.' Sasuke approved as the kunoichi repeated her squad number while looking as if she wanted to dice them for taking so long to come to her.

'Wait...What's my squad number?' Sasuke realised that Iruka had never given him his squad number. 'Does a single apprentice actually qualify as a squad?'

Shrugging his shoulders, Sasuke decided it didn't really matter and settled back to wait.

An hour or so later there were only three teams left in the class room, not including Sasuke who glanced over them in sheer boredom. Naruto was currently pacing and muttering as to what was keeping their sensei so long, Sakura was alternatively telling him to sit down and be quiet and shooting Sasuke admiring glances, Hinata was glancing at Naruto with a red blush on her cheeks, Shikamaru and Kiba had decided to take the opportunity for some sleep while Ino was currently berating Choji for not at the least eating some healthy food and Shino currently appeared to be having a conversation with a bug on the back of his hand.

Sasuke sighed. Even an avenger could get completely and utterly bored.

Finally the door opened making everyone sit-up or in Ino's and Akamaru's case poke and bite respectively for Shikamaru & Kiba to wake up.

Their academy sensei strode forward, leading a bearded man with an unlit cigarette clutched in his mouth and a kunoichi that made all the boys including the sleepy Shikamaru and Kiba sit up as well as Sasuke if for different reasons.

'Red eyes?' Sasuke stared at her intently before realising that the long haired jounin's eyes did not contain the tomoe of the Sharingan.

Berating himself quietly both for the hope and disappointment that he had felt upon seeing her, Sasuke found himself joining the rest of the boys in the class in their admiration of the adult kunoichi.

Despite what some of the boys in the class claimed, Sasuke was neither gay (a fact that had disappointed at least one boy in the class) and was not asexual and had gone through puberty (a confusing time when a few of his fan club had almost succeeded in having their dreams come true.) It was just that he considered most of his admirers/stalkers as complete idiots not to mention poor kunoichi in general. A skilled kunoichi who didn't become a fool upon seeing him was (as far as Sasuke was concerned) non-existent in his age group.

That was why he found his own admiring glances turning towards older kunoichi from more experienced gennin that he saw walking around in the village to the beautiful kunoichi who just strode in.

This was also why Sasuke along with the other boys in the class couldn't help from feeling slightly disappointed when after Iruka's apologies for their being late; the kunoichi simply said "Team 8."

Suddenly as the members of Team 8 made their way down, both the jounin suddenly turned their heads towards one of the windows to their right. Iruka shot the jounin a glance before turning to face the window himself only watch as it burst into fragments as a cloth wrapped bundle hurled itself through it.

'She never changes.' Kurenai thought with a small smile as her hands made some quick seals. The smile turned into a cute smirk. 'but she should know not to play pranks on me.'

The surprised class could only watch as the bundle itself seemed to twist and spin as two kunai were suddenly thrown to the ceiling making it unfurl, leaving the two jounin and one startled chunnin teacher behind the make shift banner with a smiling woman a trench coat, a fishnet shirt and short skirt in front of it.

Sasuke's hand paused at the top of his kunai holster.

'No way.' He thought as he read the banner behind the woman.

"What are you doing lazing about here, Uchiha Sasuke!" The purple haired woman said in a voice that could give Naruto a run for sheer exuberance. "I am tokubetsu jounin, Mitarashi Anko. From now you will be my subordinate!"

Except for two, the remaining students' mouths hit the floor as they turned their gaze on Sasuke who was doing his best not to give in to the urge to bang his head against his desk. Hinata's face went beet red as she looked away towards the floor trying to get the images out of her head while Naruto started laughing his head off while pointing a finger at Sasuke.

"Ha ha ha, Sasuke! You got a pervert for a sensei." Naruto laughed. "Your ha..haha her subordinate." The blonde was close to crying with laughter.

Anko's eyes twitched as she turned to make the annoying gennin bleed when she caught a glance of what was written on her banner.

In the centre of the banner was an image of her using a snake as a whip while written around the image were the words "Mistress Anko! Sex Fiend of Konoha!"

Behind the banner, Asuma wondered if he really wanted to know what was going on as the smirk on Kurenai's face became a full fledged smile.


Miscellany:

Tōmegane no Jutsu: Teloscope Technique.

Words in Bolded Italics like the following- Are Inner Sakura's thoughts/words.

Author's Notes:

Sorry for the lack of updates but I've had some personal problems along with simply not being happy with this chapter. It's gone through a number of revisions (6 at last counting) as I've tried to find Anko's voice. Not to mention that a lot of the last few manga chapters for Naruto have been very downhill for me and did not exactly fill me with inspiration. I think I'll actually update my profile for perhaps the first time with my opinion rather then rant on here though. That being said please read the below note:

I have got a basic plot outline for most of Part 1 but when (and I WILL GET TO IT) I get to Part 2 I will greatly diverge from Kishi's plot. (Heck the middle and ending of Part 1 will greatly diverge from his plot.)

Pairings are up in the air right now but I am leaning towards Sasuke/Temari, however their meeting alone is a long way away. One word of warning though: I dislike the fact that the majority of pairings seem to be inside the same team. I think the parents would be much more opinionated on the matter of who their kids' team-mates are if they realised that their kids' future spouse would probably come from the same team. There might be a rare exception to this rule but don't count on it.

Finally one of my major intentions in writing this fic will be to increase Sasuke's personality influence over the course of the fiction to within hailing distance of Naruto's. I will do my best to avoid lowering Naruto's own personality influence during this time but he will not be the only one influencing people. This by necessity will result in a somewhat more mature story line but I intend for Naruto to rise up to this challenge to his ideals.

Finally please take note of the following:

Explosive Tags and Kunai can hurt and yes even kill people.

All Katon's can actually burn people, which will make them dangerous and useful. Shocking I know. (Unless there is a truly vast difference between the user and their target such as Gennin Sasuke vs. Sannin Orochimaru but even then Oro will have to take some protective measures.)

Genjutsu can be used for some interesting and more subtle combat applications then paralysis. (This might or might not effect Sakura in Part 1)

The Sharingan will actually be used to copy jutsu. You may pick your jaws up of the floor...