Chapter Twenty: The Chuunin Exams
(The Next Morning)
Naruto got up early and cleaned himself up before leaving for the Chuunin Exams. After checking up on Honoka, he found her still sleeping peacefully and chose not to wake her up. Leaving his apartment, he hurried to where the team was to meet up. He made a mental note to move everything of his and Honoka's to the house his parents once owned after the first portions of the Chuunin Exams were over. It was fifteen minutes later when he came across Sasuke and Sakura, who were at the light pole waiting for him.
Looks like Sasuke managed to make it after all, Naruto thought himself, I'm sure he's not up to talking about what's been happening to him for the past few days.
Naruto greeted, "Everyone's here! Great let's head over to-"
"Naruto," Sakura interjected, causing Naruto to stop in his tracks.
"What is it?" Naruto asked.
Sakura took a breath and said, "Kakashi-sensei told us everything about your parents and you being the Jinchuuriki of Kyuubi. When we heard his explanation…I was left utterly speechless…The sacrifice your parents made for us…How you tied in to all of that…How we treated you so badly…"
Naruto stood there and listened to Sakura trying to find the right words to say.
"Naruto, I'm…sorry for how I used to treat you and for being such a follower. You've endured far more than I could ever imagine, and we can never come to understand the responsibility your parents placed on your shoulders. It's hard to believe that none of us ever saw the obvious resemblance between you and Yondaime."
"Prejudice and discrimination always blind the eyes of the senseless and narrowed minded," Naruto replied, "But I accepted your apology, so thank you."
"But you're still a pervert," Sakura added. Naruto shrugged.
"I'm still finding it hard to believe that you're the son of this village's greatest Hokage. No one would have ever thought that to be possible Naruto. No one else in Konoha but the Uzumaki could hold such a powerful creature without dying. It's like you're a living prison for power," Sasuke remarked.
"If that's your way of acknowledging me Sasuke, I'd rather hear nothing more from you and just head to where the Chuunin Exams is to be held at," Naruto retorted as he walked past Sasuke to the Academy, where the first portion of the exams was being held. The rest of Team 7 followed.
The walk was in silence, as Sasuke was thinking about all of his findings from the Uchiha Library. As he looked at Naruto, he wondered how he could find some way of controlling Kyuubi through Naruto. He figured that he'd have to control Naruto ultimately in order to do so, based on his research. But his Sharingan wasn't strong enough to accomplish such a feat, and he still couldn't find a means of acquiring the Mangekyō Sharingan without resorting to Itachi's method.
He thought about the use of genjutsu. Depending on the strength of the user, a genjutsu could be a useful and powerful instrument in manipulating and controlling the intended target. The Sharingan, from his research, was renowned for its powers in genjutsu. Of course, Sasuke experienced that first hand through Itachi, suffering a genjutsu attack from the Tsukuyomi. As Sasuke thought more about it, ideas started formulating in his head. Some he rejected, and a few he mentally put away for later deliberation.
Naruto turned and looked at Sasuke, and saw a contemplating look in his face.
"What are you plotting?" Naruto asked up front. Sasuke snapped out of his thoughts upon being asked such a question.
"I'm simply giving careful consideration to what will help me in my quest to become stronger than I am now, and tap into my hidden potential," Sasuke answered.
"I see. In that case, I'll have to watch my back and make sure that I stay on top as Konoha's number one surprising ninja," Naruto replied. "And speaking of surprises, I have to plan one for Hinata-chan; something romantic after the exams are over. I need to do something that I'm hoping she'll enjoy very much."
"You can always take her out to dinner, and I don't mean to the ramen stand. Or maybe an expensive gift," Sakura suggested, missing the frown that wanted to form on Sasuke's face after seeing her give Naruto ideas about what he could do to surprise Hinata.
"Maybe a picnic would be nice," Naruto added.
"Oh definitely! In the right environment and setting, any girl would appreciate their guy treating them like a princess, even if it's at a picnic," Sakura said dreamily while visualizing Sasuke doing that with her.
"But then again, I have to do something different this time since I already took Hinata-chan out on a picnic and swim date," Naruto thought out loud.
"You did that!? When was this?!" Sakura asked wanting to know the details. Sasuke too wanted to know when he and Hinata went out on a private picnic and swim date. Naruto, realizing his slip of the tongue, quickly replied, "That would be kissing and telling. I'm not saying anything further."
Sakura resisted the urge to snort, but knew from experience that Naruto doesn't reveal much about himself. Sasuke, though, was in thought, wondering when Naruto pulled such a stunt off. The idea of Hinata wearing nothing but a two-piece bathing suit and being alone with Naruto by the waters greatly displeased Sasuke, but there wasn't anything the Uchiha could do that wouldn't jeopardize his future as a ninja. He couldn't approach Hinata directly anymore.
If only I could prove to Hinata that Naruto isn't the one for her, and that I'm the one she needs. Hinata would make a great Uchiha matriarch if she would just open her eyes to the truth. If only I had the ability to achieve the Mangekyō Sharingan and show Hinata my powers and skills in comparison to Naruto's, Sasuke thought.
After a good amount of walking, Team 7 arrived and entered the Academy. They walked up the flight of stairs until they got to the second floor. Upon arriving, though, they saw a crowd outside a room with the number 301. Suddenly, a boy wearing green spandex with a bowl haircut and very large eyebrows was knocked down by two older boys standing in front of the door, guarding it.
"And you're going to take the Chuunin Exams? Pathetic," one of the boys said.
"Appreciate the fact that we're doing this. The Chuunin Exams are extremely hard. You weaklings would just be slaughtered," the second said.
"Let us in you stupid jerks! We're here for the first part of the Chuunin Exams!" yelled Tenten, who was now holding Lee after he was knocked down by the older shinobi. Naruto saw that Rock Lee was clearly holding back.
"Give up. The Chuunin Exams are way too difficult for any of you. Even we failed three times," the second older boy guarding the door said.
"Have you any idea how many like you we've seen killed or injured for life by this exam?" the first one asked.
"A Chuunin is a team captain. Both the safety of the team and the success of the mission depend on the captain. And you're trying to become that? Spare us the nonsense," the second one said. Naruto looked at Sakura, who snorted at the two older shinobi.
"What's your problem, punk?" asked the shinobi standing next to the one who struck down Lee in the beginning of the brawl.
Naruto, having seen enough, stepped forward towards the two boys and told them firmly, "Step the hell out of our way, or I'll be forced to personally remove you both myself! You're preventing us from heading to the third floor to take the exam!"
Several people wondered what Naruto was talking about.
"Your pitiful excuse of a genjutsu that any simpleton shinobi could see is up over the door," Sasuke cut in, "Sakura, you saw through the genjutsu I'm sure, right?"
Sakura nodded in agreement, though she didn't outright insult the two older shinobi in front of them as Naruto and Sasuke did. Though Naruto wasn't as good with genjutsu as his girlfriend's sensei Kurenai, he had a measure of knowledge about them based on what he learned from his dreams about them. The sign shifted from 301 to 201.
"So…you both saw it. But that isn't enough," the first kid said and moved to kick Sasuke and Naruto. Sasuke responded by moving to kick back, however Lee moved in between them and stopped their kicks with his bare hands.
Impressively fast…Sasuke mentally noted.
"Hey…" Neji said, walking up to Lee, then reprimanded, "It was your idea to hide our strength, and you go and do this?"
Naruto noticed that the bruises Lee had were gone. Lee looked at Sakura and blushed. Tenten shook her head.
"Oh no," Tenten muttered as Lee walked up to Sakura, a faint blush on his cheeks.
"My name is Rock Lee! You're Haruno Sakura-san, Naruto-kun's teammate right?" he asked. Sakura nodded and Lee struck a pose known universally as the good guy pose.
"You are an angel! Let us go out sometime! I'll protect you until I die!" Lee declared. Sakura's face showed horror as Naruto snickered before he noticed that the two troublemaking boys were gone. Naruto and the rest of Team 7 turned to leave when Neji spoke up, "Naruto?"
Naruto stopped and turned to Neji and asked, "Yes?"
Neji looked at him before giving a barely audible snort.
"I was informed about your history and life story the other day. Though I can't imagine what your life is like with the status you carry, I still don't approve of the bond Hinata-sama and Hanabi-sama have with you. Fate will see to it that it's severed," Neji inquired.
"Believe what you want, Neji. I'm sure in time a life-changing experience will serve to change and humble you," Naruto remarked. Neji scowled, seeing that he wasn't able to get much of a reaction out of Naruto.
He then turned to Sasuke and said, "You're Uchiha Sasuke. I've seen you around the gates of the Hyuuga Compound on a few occasions."
Sasuke said, "I came by a few times, but my time spent there were never long."
"It's understandable, since whatever interest you have in Hinata-sama isn't reciprocated by her, and Hanabi-sama is even less enthused of you showing interest in Hinata-sama," Neji mocked. Sasuke growled and wanted to show Neji off. Naruto bit his tongue down to keep from laughing after seeing how easily Neji angered Sasuke, especially when he recalled what his clone sent back to him last night.
(Flashback; Yesterday Evening)
A Naruto clone, out of boredom, was practicing drunken fist while combining it with wind manipulation in the training field when his ears heard the sound of a ruckus taken place some distance from him. The clone went to investigate what was going on. Upon his arrival, he saw Kakashi make Sasuke sit on the ground up against the wooden log before tying him up with rope against the log. Wanting to know what the issue was about, the clone moved in closer but made sure to stay out of sight. After tying Sasuke up, Kakashi stood over him with a hardened gaze while Sasuke gave him a defiant look of anger.
"What's the meaning of this Kakashi?" Sasuke barked in anger.
"Sasuke, it's been brought to my attention that you once again chose to disobey my advice with regards to Naruto's girlfriend. Only this time I had to hear this from a fellow Jounin-sensei who reported how you recently tried to influence and manipulate Hinata into dumping Naruto in exchange for going out with you. You're treading dangerous grounds, Sasuke," Kakashi said with a warning.
"All I did was tell Hinata the truth about my feelings for her and how things might have been between us had she given me the chance to prove my merit," Sasuke retorted.
"There's no merit when you go behind your teammate's back and try to convince his girlfriend that you'd make a better boyfriend for her than your teammate! I told you time and time again to leave Hinata alone and to stop this ridiculous pursuit of her! But clearly, my words have no meaning to you Sasuke, since you refuse to take my advice seriously! I told you before Sasuke, those who abandon the mission are trash; but those who betray their comrades are worse than trash. And your actions in trying to get Hinata to dump Naruto, your teammate, so you can get her to date and become your girlfriend instead makes you worse than trash!" Kakashi said firmly.
Sasuke scowled at Kakashi and replied, "He may be your late sensei's son forced to carry the burden of being a Jinchuuriki, but that doesn't excuse his foul treatment and disrespect of his suppose relationship with Hinata! I don't know what cunning lies he told her to deceive her into turning a blind eye to his perverted, womanizing character! The very fact that he acts the way he does so shamelessly while in a relationship is disgusting, and Hinata deserves better than that!"
"You think you're in the position to decide that for Hinata? Tell me Sasuke, assuming that you said things similar to what you told me just now to Hinata, what was her reply to you?" Kakashi asked.
Sasuke frowned deeply and reluctantly answered, "…She said that I don't know Naruto as well as I think, and that I know only what he wants me to know…and that she's the only one who truly knows him."
"That's right, Sasuke. You don't know Naruto. You know only what he wants you to know," Kakashi said almost cryptically. "Though you graduated as the Rookie of the Year, the truth of the matter is that you don't deserve the title. Your performance and actions over the past weeks certainly hasn't been Rookie of the Year material," Kakashi mocked. Sasuke growled upon being insulted with that remark.
"The only reason that I haven't disqualified you from taking part of the Chuunin Exams is because that would deny Naruto and Sakura a chance to participate, and that wouldn't be fair to them since the Chuunin Exams require a three-Genin cell team in order to participate," Kakashi made clear.
"So in other words you're using me as a token for their convenience?" Sasuke replied.
"You put yourself into that position Sasuke, so deal with it. And one other thing, I better not hear about how you tried to approach Hinata again on the topic of persuading and seducing her to become your girlfriend during the Chuunin Exams, or even after the exams are over. Because if I do, I'll have you suspended from active ninja duty until further notice. Is that understood Sasuke?" Kakashi warned.
Sasuke frowned but gave no retort.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I'll take my leave and depart from you so you have time to think about what I said. But make sure that you're ready and present for tomorrow's Chuunin Exams so that you don't drag your teammates down," Kakashi said as he pulled out his orange book and turned to walk off.
"Wait! You can't leave me tied up like this!" Sasuke yelled.
"You're a ninja. I'm sure you can come up with some escape plan. Especially if you don't want your teammates to blame you for failing the exams before they even start. Don't screw up, Sasuke. Your teammates are counting on your performance tonight," Kakashi replied before he executed a smokeless shunshin and left the area, leaving Sasuke still tied up to the wooden log.
Sasuke was seething in rage. He wanted to get back at Kakashi so badly, but he knew such a thing wouldn't be possible, considering the situation he was in, and the fact that Kakashi was smarter, stronger, and faster than him. Not wanting to be the cause of his own inability to become stronger, Sasuke started working on freeing himself. The clone, having heard and seen everything, watched for several more minutes as Sasuke worked to reach his kunai for almost half an hour. It would be a while before Sasuke freed himself.
The clone dispelled and gave his experience and knowledge to Naruto. In effect, Naruto burst into a fit of laughter outside his bedroom, with Honoka wondering what on earth had Naruto laughing all of a sudden.
(End Flashback: Present Day)
Naruto snapped out of his train of thought when Lee spoke up.
"Naruto-kun, I recall that my team and I were told about your life story. I want to say what an honor it is that I'm friends with such a youthful Genin who saves us every day by keeping that unyouthful bijuu at bay with the powers of his radiant flaring youth! If all the people of Konoha were half the man you are, this village would be a far better society!"
"That's something I can agree to Lee," Naruto replied.
"So you're Uzumaki Naruto. I heard much about you from Lee, Gai-sensei, Hiashi-sama, and Neji. I'm Tenten," Tenten said introducing herself. Naruto turned to look at Tenten. He went over to her and looked her over carefully. Neji, though, looked ready to put Naruto in his place if he tried anything. Sakura shook her head, seeing this all too familiar behavior.
"What are you doing?" Tenten asked quizzically.
"You're definitely a worthy specimen," Naruto remarked as he continued studying Tenten's features from top to bottom.
"Excuse me?" Tenten replied.
"I've seen many kunoichi-wannabes in my time; however what I'm beholding before me is telling me a whole different story. You have a tomboyish choice of clothing, yet your hairstyle balances you out as it expresses your femininity. You discreetly conceal much of your bodily appeal while allowing onlookers to give attention to your arms, which shows a nicely toned build while still maintaining your womanliness. You possess a lovely yet confident look in your face and those firm brown eyes of yours demonstrate that you're not to be taken lightly at any time. Indeed, everything about you testifies to you being a kunoichi who works hard to be more than just another skirt to chase; just like Tsunade," Naruto complimented, but his last words truly hammered the nails of his earlier words deep.
"You really think I'm like Tsunade-sama?" Tenten asked through her blushing face, happy that someone acknowledged how she wishes to be so much like Tsunade, who's praised as being not only one of the Sannin, but one of the strongest women in history.
"I wouldn't have given you my praise if I didn't believe my own words. I can tell just by looking at you that you're the type who focuses more on her skills as a ninja than how she looks like in the mirror for some boy to see as if she was a walking tease. Though I'm sure Neji's Byakugan can see far more than I can if it was put to use," Naruto added. Neji growled and leaked bloodlust after hearing Naruto's perverted insinuation of the famed and respected bloodline limit of the Hyuuga Clan. Tenten blushed hotly from Naruto's words and looked at Neji while wondering if he ever looked through her clothes like that before.
"I never abused my Byakugan for such inappropriate behavior Tenten. You're my teammate and I have boundaries I set in how I used my bloodline limit. Abusing my bloodline limit for such lewd conduct would shame the Hyuuga name," Neji stated with a hardened tone as he gave an angered sneered at Naruto. No one but Naruto noticed the slight look of disappointment Tenten had on her face.
"Even still, some kunoichi, tomboyish or not, like to be complimented about their womanliness and grace, even if it's by their teammates and friends," Naruto replied.
"Who are you to give me advice?" Neji scoffed.
"Someone with experience and understanding that doesn't need the Byakugan to know a good thing when he sees it, unlike you," Naruto replied confidently. Neji wanted to retort but he chose to calm himself down instead of giving into his anger.
After calming down, Neji replied, "Tenten is a skilled ninja and reliable teammate. Even while we were students at the ninja academy, she demonstrated her dedication to always improving and becoming more than she is. She doesn't need me to tell her that."
"You have Byakugan, yet you're still blind," Naruto remarked as he shook his head.
"Naruto, did you forget why we're here?" Sasuke cut in.
Naruto turned to Sasuke and answered, "Sorry, I got lost in the moment," Naruto turned to his left. "Did you get everything?"
"Every last word and description," a kage bunshin said as he was writing down everything in a notepad. Everyone was now wondering at what point Naruto made a kage bunshin and had him start jotting down notes.
"Wait a minute, you mean to say that you had your clone write down everything that was said and done just now?" a dumbfounded Sakura asked in disbelief as the clone handed Naruto all of his notes and then dispelled.
Naruto smiled as he placed his notepad away and replied, "It had so many great elements and resources for a believable scene! I just couldn't pass it up!"
"You're something else Naruto. Why can't you be more like Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asked.
"I just don't have what it takes to measure up to Sasuke's magnificence," Naruto mocked before receiving a scowl from Sasuke.
"Sasuke-san, I see that Sakura-san is very taken by you. I desire to show her my flaming youth by challenging you to a match," Lee said.
Sasuke looked at the green Genin incredulously and replied, "You seriously think you can match me?"
"He's this year's Rookie of the Year, Lee. There's a chance that Sasuke could give you a challenge," Naruto said after seeing what was going on.
"Is that right? Well, I suppose challenging him shouldn't be so bad I imagine," Lee figured.
"You think you have what it takes to go against me?" Sasuke asked. Lee nodded.
"Alright then," Sasuke accepted.
"Sakura-san! I'll prove and demonstrate the burning flames of my love for you!" Lee said happily as he blew a kiss at her which led to, logic be damned, a genjutsu of floating hearts to fly from out of his lips and over to Sakura. The pink-haired Genin panicked and dodged all of the floating hearts sent her way before falling to the ground on the back of her head.
He seriously has a huge crush on Sakura! Naruto thought while he, out of respect for his friend Lee, bit his tongue down hard to hold the laugh that so badly wanted to come out.
"Hn," Sasuke muttered as he assumed and fighting stance with Lee assuming a taijutsu stance. A moment later, both combatants charged at each other and as soon as Sasuke reached Lee, Lee seemingly vanished and reappeared behind him. The next thing that happened was that Lee delivered a swift swing kick to Sasuke's left side. The Uchiha barely had time to block the attack as he was sent flying backwards. Sasuke managed to regain his balance and keep from falling and hitting the ground.
Lee, however, didn't give Sasuke time to coordinate himself as he rushed at him fiercely. Sasuke tried to resort to his Sharingan but Lee didn't allow him time to gather the needed chakra, as Sasuke was being forced to block as many speeding blows as possible with several punches and kicks landing. The next thing that happened was that Sasuke was sent flying backwards again with no time to regain his balance. Sakura, seeing this, hurriedly rushed over to Sasuke and used herself as a landing cushion as Sasuke collided with her. Both Genin landed on the ground disheveled.
Lee stood upright with a look of disappointment. "Sasuke-san, from what I heard Naruto-kun say about you earlier, I was honestly expecting more out of our match."
Sasuke was seething at how he was floored by Lee before being told that his performance was a disappointment.
"Sasuke-kun, are you-" Sakura was about to ask, but was interrupted.
"I'm fine," Sasuke said as he got back up off the ground with Sakura following as she stood back up also.
"Impressive Lee," Naruto complimented, "You've gotten better than before."
Lee turned his attention to Naruto and said, "Thanks Naruto-kun! As always, I work hard to strengthen the flames of my burning youth!" Lee turned to Sakura and asked, "So how about it, Sakura-san? Will you go out with me?"
"No way!" Sakura screeched. Lee's head dropped down in dejection as Tenten shook her head and sighed.
"Anyway, we've wasted enough time here so let's continued to room 301 please," Neji suggested.
"Sure, let's go," Naruto said as he began to walk away before turning to face Tenten again. "Oh and Tenten, you should try letting your hair out of those cute buns occasionally. I bet you'd look even more cute like that, and you'd have a few guys entranced by your cute face," Naruto said smoothly earning another blush from Tenten as her hand unintentionally went to one of her hair buns after hearing that.
"See ya later," Naruto said as he rejoined the team and went on his way.
The Konoha Genin and the rest of the crowd continued on their way to the room. As Naruto and the others entered the designated room, they came to see that there was a large amount of competition this year. Genin from both major and minor villages were all over the room.
"I get dibs on the strongest ones here!" Naruto shouted, earning a few stares from some of ninja in the room.
"Hey Naruto," said Shikamaru as Choji and Ino made their appearance behind him, "Nice way to make an attention grabbing entrance. You must really want to make enemies."
"Whatever," Naruto retorted. Ino, Shikamaru and Chouji remembered what their fathers told them the other day about Naruto. Shikamaru found the whole ordeal troublesome, though he was angered by the amount of lies and cover ups he was told and taught to believe. Chouji was shocked and outraged. Their fathers explained that they and Inoichi tried to adopt Naruto into one their clans but were overruled by the majority in the council and the hierarchy. Though the three Genin accepted that, they were angry that more wasn't done for Naruto and much of their trust and respect in their parents and older clansmen was lost.
"Hey Naruto, Shikamaru and I were told the whole story about you and your clan. I have to say that Konoha really did you and your clan a great injustice," Chouji sympathized.
"Reparations are in order. Don't worry about it too much, especially since we're about to take the Chuunin Exams," Naruto suggested.
"He's right, so don't become troublesome please," Shikamaru added. Sasuke saw Ino making her way over to them. Catching Sasuke in her sights, she went and hugged him from behind, wrapping her arms around his shoulders.
"Sasuke-kun! I missed you!" Ino purred.
"Get off me," Sasuke said with a tone of utter annoyance.
"That's right pig! Get off my Sasuke-kun!" Sakura barked.
"Troublesome. Why don't you two do everyone a favor and go find a guy that's actually worth your time?" Shikamaru said in exasperation. Ino was about to give a retort when her eyes fell on Naruto.
"That reminds me," Ino said as she released Sasuke and went over to Naruto.
"Naruto, I heard some rather amazing and shocking news about you and the lies we were told all these years. I know I can't take back all the bad things I said and did to you but I just wanted to say, I'm sorry," Ino said honestly.
"I accept your apology, but that doesn't mean you and I can't be friends, right?" Naruto asked with a toothy smile.
"Of course not! And as new friends, perhaps you can fill in some missing gaps about yourself. I mean, I've been finding out things about you that don't seem to quite make sense, and I've been trying to dig up the facts," Ino said.
"Ino, now isn't the time for you go looking for the latest gossip," Chouji remarked.
"Chouji," Naruto rebuked, "It's never too late for young maidens to invest and spend their time investigating my greatness."
Most of the Genin in the room sweat-dropped at Naruto's self-absorbed proclamation.
"Don't get big headed Naruto!" Ino replied. "You may have some interesting secrets to yourself but Sasuke-kun is still first place in my book!"
"I like to have a short word with you," Naruto said he gestured for Ino to follow him to the isolated part of the hallway. The group watched as Naruto whispered something into Ino's right ear. Moments later, Ino's eyes widened as the complexion on her face changed to a red that could rival Hinata's blush. Ino's head lowered a short moment before Naruto was done. The blond Jinchuuriki grinned as he walked and left the silent and blushing Ino where she was, looking as meek as ever, something that wasn't common.
How did he know? How did he find out? Ino thought nervously.
"What did you tell her," an intrigued Sakura asked.
"Nothing important," Naruto replied with a shrug. Sakura and everyone else didn't buy that obviously. It was clear that Naruto told her something that truly embarrassed her, and considering how shameless she and Sakura act towards Sasuke, it was saying something. Ino was known for always digging up the latest dirt and news about people and events, but whatever it was Naruto told her must have been deep dirt Ino didn't want to come out into the light.
I wonder if Ino's being blackmailed. I can't help but wonder what embarrassing secret Naruto found out about her, Shikamaru considered as he looked at still quiet and nervous Ino thinking about whatever it was Naruto told her. Troublesome! I just hope that Ino's plight doesn't serve as a hindrance during the Chuunin Exams!
"Hey you guys," Naruto said as he looked over at Team 8, who was just arriving. "Glad to see that you all made it here. And thanks for escorting my girlfriend here safely."
"Whatever Naruto," Kiba grinned. "We didn't come all this way for that. Like you, we came here to kick some ass and get promoted!"
Hinata walked over to Naruto and just as she was about to say something to him…
"Naruto," a masculine voice devoid of emotions called out. Naruto and the others turned to see Gaara. The Suna Jinchuuriki went over to Naruto until they were face to face with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Gaara, how nice to see you again," Naruto replied with a smile while secretly being on guard.
"…I learned some intriguing truths about you Naruto, and found that you're more than what I previously thought you to be," Gaara said with the same deadpan expression. Kiba, Sasuke, and the other rookies saw the tension between Naruto and Gaara. Sasuke sensed that there was something strong about Gaara, though he couldn't put his finger on it.
"Hey," Sakura said. "You're that same Suna-nin that my team and I saw the other day."
Gaara turned to Sakura and replied with sharp bloodlust, "I have no interest in you or in that Uchiha over there. My attention is set on Uzumaki Naruto."
Sakura backed away after being hit with Gaara's bloodlust. The others stood their ground, but stayed cautious of what they thought might happen. Gaara turned back to Naruto and said, "You will be my greatest conquest."
"Gaara!" Kankaro called out, grabbed his younger brother's attention, "You're drawing unwanted attention to both us and yourself!"
Gaara turned to Kankuro with a hard gaze. The older male hid his nervousness as he maintained a strong front. Temari appeared and said, "Gaara, you'll have us disqualified if you start fights outside the rules of the Chuunin Exams. Baki-sensei won't be pleased should that happen."
Gaara relented and said, "We'll meet again soon, Naruto."
The Suna Jinchuuriki turned and walked off, leaving the other Konoha Genin confused and at the same time worried. Sasuke didn't like how Naruto was being looked at as trophy fighter that foreigners wanted to challenge while he, Sasuke, was shoved to the side as uninteresting news. Though Kankuro also wanted to challenge and fight Naruto, unlike Gaara, he didn't want to publicize it.
"That guy looks dangerous," Tenten remarked. "Not to mention crazy."
"You're telling me," Ino said after returning back herself and joining the others.
"Hey cutie," Temari greeted Naruto flirtatiously as she went over and stood in front of him as Hinata subtly moved and stood closely next to Naruto at his right. Temari grinned upon seeing the reaction she got out of Hinata, which didn't go unnoticed by the others.
"Did that girl just refer to Naruto as "cutie"?" Chouji asked incredulously.
"She did, and evidently Naruto and his team seem to have some sort of history with these Suna Genin," Shikamaru said in boredom.
"It's nice to you again," Temari said with a feminine smile. "I was hoping to run into you before the start of the Chuunin Exams today."
"You were?" Naruto asked in some surprise.
"But you were unavailable so I wasn't able to meet you again," Temari said.
"Why did you wan-t to meet Naruto-kun a-again?" Hinata asked, though she already knew what Temari might say.
"I heard some funny things about him, something along the lines of pranking the ninja of this village and his teammates," Temari replied.
"You heard about that?" Naruto asked.
"One store owner told me that you painted and vandalized the entire Hokage Monument underneath everyone's nose and that even the team of ninja sent after you weren't capable of even catching you," Temari laughed. "I couldn't help but wonder how you managed to pull that off."
"That was nothing, I've done far worse than that," Naruto chuckled.
"I heard. He even told me how you occasionally pranked the Hokage and the Rookie of the Year," Temari laughed.
"Would this store owner happen to be Teuchi?" Naruto asked.
"Yeah, that's the guy! He seems to be quite taken by you Naruto," Temari added. "Back home, your pranks would have gotten you into so much trouble, especially with my father."
"You mean the Kazekage," Naruto acknowledged. "Gee, some people don't appreciate good jokes."
"Your idea of jokes weren't amusing to your victims Naruto," Sasuke remarked.
"But they were for everyone else, who got good laughs out of them. My friend Rock Lee enjoys my sense of humor," Naruto replied.
"Naruto-kun, your humorous spirit radiates with youthful flares that sadly aren't appreciated by many," Lee remarked.
"But you're one of the few who does, which is why I like sparring with you from time to time," Naruto said.
"You actually spar with this guy?" Sasuke asked.
"And why not? Lee is…how can I put this…." Naruto contemplated. "…a genius."
"A genius?" Sasuke asked skeptically.
"Yes, a genius of hard work," Naruto said with a large smile.
"A genius of hard work?" Ino asked. "There exists no such classification!"
"You're wrong!" Lee shouted indignantly. "So many blindly believe that geniuses are born or gifted by fate! Naruto-kun and I don't share the belief of such unyouthful people, and it's through our burning youth that we exceed all expectations of us!"
"…Why did you have to get him started Naruto?" Tenten sighed.
"You there, the one in the green spandex. Quiet down a bit, will ya?" spoke a voice that caught all twelve rookies' attention as they turned to the source, only to see a young man with white hair wearing purple clothes and glasses. "You're attracting too much attention to this area and I would prefer not be made a target just yet."
"And just who might you be, four eyes?" asked Kiba, as neither he nor anyone else for that matter had seen that kid before, despite him having a Konoha headband on.
"You guys must be this year's rookies. I'm Kabuto. Take a look around," Kabuto advised, and the Konoha rookies did. There were scowling and downright unfriendly faces all around.
"Those behind you are from Amegakure. They are famous for their short tempers. If you aren't careful, they might kill you," Kabuto said. "But I can't blame any of you. This is your first time and all. How about I give you guys a few pointers?"
"Kabuto-san," Sakura asked, "Is this your second try?"
"Actually, this is my seventh. There are two exams each year, so this is my fourth year," Kabuto replied.
"So you know a lot about this exam?" Kiba asked.
"I do," Kabuto said and pulled out a stack of cards. "I have collected all I know of the exams and put them on these special info cards that I created. They are blank until I pump my chakra into one of them, making the information visible."
Kabuto crouched down. He laid a card on the ground, making it swirl and in a moment, the blank surface was replaced with a map.
"This is the map of the shinobi lands, and which villages that have sent how many teams. I have information on them all, although on the team from Oto I don't know much. It's a new village, and it's their first time in the exams," Kabuto said.
"Do you have information on individuals?" Sasuke asked.
Kabuto nodded and replied, "I have data on everybody, therefore I can uncover just about anything about a person in regards to their shinobi history. Is there someone you are looking for?"
"Yes, give me whatever information you have on Rock Lee from Konoha, Gaara from Suna, and Uzumaki Naruto from Konoha," Sasuke said, desiring to know just about everything he could about those opponents. Everyone but Naruto stared at Sasuke.
"You know their names? That makes it easier," said Kabuto as he took out a card from the deck and spun it around on the ground with his chakra.
This ought to be interesting, thought Neji, hoping that he could find out more about Naruto and then use it against him later in some way or another.
"First up is Rock Lee," Kabuto started. "He is one year older than you. His mission history is 20 D-ranks and 11 C-ranks. He has no talent for either ninjutsu or genjutsu, however his taijutsu has developed extremely this last year. He was praised by his sensei as a skilled Genin, and this is his first time taking this exam. His teammates are Tenten and Hyuuga Neji. His Jounin sensei is Maito Gai."
Sasuke nodded as Kabuto took out the next card and explained, "Next we have Gaara. He's a year older than you too, and he carries a large gourd on his back everywhere he goes. His mission history is 0 D-ranks, 9 C-ranks, 8 B-ranks, and 14 A-ranks. There's no documented data about his skills in any form of combat but according to what's known, in his missions Gaara has never been hit once. His teammates are Temari and Kankuro, and their Jounin-sensei is Baki."
This next one better be Naruto's, thought Neji, as he was becoming slightly impatient.
This Kabuto fellow is trouble, Naruto thought calmly.
"And last, but not least we have one Uzumaki Naruto," said Kabuto as he spun the card and lifted it up to read the information. Sasuke and Neji both waited for Kabuto to speak and give them as much information on Naruto as he could.
"Hmm," Kabuto muttered while scratching the back of his head, "His academic background and ninja history don't add up."
"What do you mean?" Sasuke asked.
Kabuto explained, "Naruto graduated from your class as the dead last, having done poorly in every subject covered in your class. He has no talent in genjutsu, however his uncanny and unexplainable skills in kenjutsu is high to elite Jounin-level, and it's said to match, if not rival, that of the Seven Swordsmen of Kirigakure. His mission experience is 10 D-rank missions and one C-rank turned A-rank mission, in which he singlehandedly slaughtered and butchered over one hundred rogue samurai and mercenaries in a span of a few seconds using Zabuza's sword before feeding their leader to sharks. His ninjutsu skills are B to A-class though rumor has it that he's adept in wind manipulation. At age 9, he was highly admired and praised by many older and veteran kunoichi of Konoha for having defeated the Hokage, all of the other male ninja in the area, and all the males of his class, including the Rookie of the Year, at the same time with a jutsu he himself created years before becoming a Genin. His teammates are you and Haruno Sakura and his Jounin-sensei is Hatake Kakashi."
Everyone looked at Naruto questionably on hearing everything Kabuto said. Hearing that Naruto took out and defeated the Hokage and his men at such a young age through his original jutsu was news to the Suna-nin. They saw him as more of a dangerous threat than before, while Gaara saw him as more of a grand prize worthy of feeding to his mother. The other foreign Genin looking over at Naruto, wondered how someone that dresses so stupidly in a flashing orange jumpsuit that screams "I'm an easy target to kill" could have such a dangerous record. Naruto, though, remained neutral and calm, as if unaffected by what Kabuto said of him.
"I wonder what that jutsu was," a female Kusa Genin with glasses and red hair said to her teammates in the background. "It must have been a very powerful jutsu if it effectively defeated the current Hokage and every ninja that was with him all at once."
"If this Naruto is as powerful as that Kabuto guy says he is, it would be wise to avoid and not cross him," a male Kusa Genin said. The red haired Kusa Genin and her other teammate nodded in agreement. Meanwhile, three Kiri Genin in the background eyed Naruto carefully.
"So that's the famous Uzumaki Naruto," the first male Kiri Genin remarked. "The one they named the bridge in Nami no Kuni after."
"That's same the one," the only female Kiri Genin of the group said. "Pretty hard to believe, considering his unusual choice of clothes."
"Never mind that," the lead Kiri Genin with light blue hair and square glasses said, "Remember, we're only taking part of the Chuunin Exams to complete our secret mission, and we can't afford to fail. But we have to make sure make that no one else is around when it's time to encounter Naruto. Understand?"
The three Kiri Genin nodded.
"Are you making all of that crap up, Kabuto?" an Ame-nin asked skeptically. "How could the dead last of Konoha that failed at everything in the ninja academy accomplish such feats worthy of a high S-class ninja? I doubt even the current and previous Rookie of the Year of Konoha possess such caliber!"
Neji and Sasuke scowled hatefully at the Ame-nin.
"My information is based on solid facts not speculations," Kabuto said as he adjusted his glasses, "What I have is all I currently know of Naruto."
Anyone who takes the Chuunin Exams seven times straight isn't doing so for the enjoyment of it. I'm just happy that he and everyone else is oblivious to my in-depth expertise in fūinjutsu, Naruto thought as he cautiously eyed the believed spy in their midst.
Naruto actually fed the bad guys' leader to sharks? Tenten wondered.
"Kabuto-san, you've just proven that geniuses aren't born, they're developed! In spite of being the dead last, Naruto-kun, through dedication to hard work and unyielding perseverance, is reaping the fruits of his blazing youth! I will work even harder to reach the youthfulness Naruto-kun is basking in!" a starry-eyed Lee praised enthusiastically.
"Such foolishness," Neji mumbled. Naruto was suddenly aware of someone heading towards them at a high speed. He also felt that whatever it was wasn't headed for him, but Kabuto. Three Genin from Otogakure rushed at Kabuto. One of them, a man covered in bandages with something furry on his back, took a swing at Kabuto, who dodged. But after the punch passed, Kabuto fell down, his glasses broken, and he vomited.
What the hell was that sound? Naruto thought, rubbing his now hurting ears. Just then an explosion erupted in the front of the classroom, and a lot of Chuunin stood there. In front of all of the Chuunin, a tall man wearing a black trench coat stood. His face was set in a firm frown, with a single scar running down the left side of his face.
"SHUT UP! Damn brats!" the tall man shouted. "I'm Morino Ibiki, and I will be the head proctor for the first exam."
Ibiki emitted a bit of bloodlust that made several Genin gulp. Ibiki then pointed at the three from Oto.
"You three! No more trouble, or I'll throw you out myself!" Ibiki barked. The one who had taken a swing at Kabuto mumbled an apology and a lame excuse.
"There's no fighting unless your proctor tells you to! Trash that disobeys this rule will get thrown right out!" Ibiki said before gesturing towards the group of Chuunin around him, who each held a box with a hole in the top.
"Each team is to approach one of the examiners and take a number. Go to the seat with your number on it. If you don't like where you're sitting, too bad! We will then hand out the written test," Ibiki explained. Soon enough, everybody was seated.
"Now that everyone has taken a seat, I can explain the rules. Don't turn your tests over yet, and listen up, because I'm only saying the rules once! No questions are allowed!" Ibiki barked and started to write on the blackboard.
"Rule one! You have ten points to begin with. The written test has ten questions, nine written, and one spoken. For each wrongly answered question, you lose one point. If you answer all the questions correctly, then you keep your ten points," Ibiki explained. "Rule two! This is a team test, which means we will be checking every team for their overall score. Your passing this exam is decided on the performance of the team as a whole."
A Konoha Genin jumped up and shouted, "What? How are we supposed to work in teams?"
"Shut up! Who gave you permission to ask?!" Ibiki snapped.
"S…Sorry," the Genin said and sat down.
"Rule three! If you're caught cheating five times, you're out. No exceptions!" Ibiki explained. "And remember, we see everything."
"Last rule! If someone on the team loses all of his or her points, or is caught cheating five times, then the whole team fails, no matter how well their teammates do!" Ibiki said, and a chorus of "WHAT" sounded through the room.
"I hope my words were clearly understood. If not, too bad!" Ibiki added.
"Naruto-kun, good luck," Hinata said from next to him. The couple considered themselves lucky to be seated together.
"Good luck to you too, Hinata-chan," Naruto replied, and Hinata smiled at him. Their attention was brought back to the front by Ibiki's booming voice.
"You have one hour. BEGIN!" Ibiki yelled, and everyone turned their test over. Naruto looked over the exam and the questions on it. A moment later…
What is this crap? These are questions only an experienced Chuunin or Jounin could answer! Naruto thought as he examined the nine questions on the paper. There has to be more to what Ibiki said earlier when he told us the rules to this exam.
Naruto recalled Ibiki's words: "If you're caught cheating five times, you're out! No exceptions!"
Wait a minute, so cheating won't get us automatically disqualified! We get four free shots at cheating, but if you're caught cheating five times, you're failed. So the purpose of the exam is to cheat and not get caught in the process! Naruto realized before he decided to see how others were doing. Several minutes later, he saw what started taking place in the room. He noticed that Sasuke was using his Sharingan while Sakura did her best to answer the questions based on her book smarts. Naruto saw Tenten twirling her kunai, with Lee watching to see the answers her kunai reflected. Naruto turned to Hinata, who was discreetly using her Byakugan and writing the answers down on the test sheet, something Neji was also doing. Using his own understanding based on experiences awakened in his mind, Naruto started answering the questions. Hinata peeked over to see if Naruto was carefully copying her answers. She found that Naruto wasn't struggling at the very least to answer the questions. In fact, he wasn't looking at anyone else's paper at all.
I should have more confidence in him, Hinata thought, After all, he taught and trained me.
Naruto also saw how, during the hour that went by, a lot of teams had been failed and dismissed from the room. Towards the end of the hour, Naruto sensed and felt a particular chakra in the room, which gave him a familiar sensation that he experienced before in Nami no Kuni.
That chakra! It…It has to be! There's no other explanation! Naruto thought excitedly while trying not to go crazy in trying to trace from whom in the room that chakra radiated from. However, the chakra died out as quickly as it came, as if it was never there, but it was enough for Naruto to feel it.
I'm going to have to thoroughly search and find the Genin in this room that that chakra signature came from! I can automatically rule out the Suna-nin, and of course, those from Konoha, which leaves those from Kiri, Ame, Oto, and Kusa, Naruto thought deeply.
Soon, all of the remaining Genin were done with the exams.
"Time's up! Pencils down, everyone!" Ibiki shouted, causing all of the Genin to do as instructed.
Now that the trash is kicked out, we can proceed, Ibiki thought and cleared his throat before he continued, "Now it's time for the tenth question-"
Ibiki was cut off by Kankuro, who came back from the toilet with one of the examiners.
"Just in time. Now that you are finished playing with your dolls, perhaps we can continue," Ibiki said, and Kankuro was shocked.
He knew about Karasu! Kankuro thought, referring to his puppet disguised as the examiner behind him. Kankuro walked down the rows towards his desk.
"Alright, now before I can give you the tenth question, there are some additional rules," Ibiki said. "First, you have to choose if you are going to take the question or not."
"What happens if we don't take it?" one of the Konoha Genin asked.
"Your points will be reduced to zero, and you'll fail, along with your team!" Ibiki replied simply.
"What a dumb rule! Of course we will take it!" an Ame Genin shouted out.
"However, if you take it, and get it wrong, you'll be forever banned from the Chuunin Exams," Ibiki said, and the room fell quiet.
Suddenly, Kiba shouted, "That's not fair! There are people here that have taken the exam before!"
"Well, they didn't have me for a proctor! Now choose! Wait until next year, or risk never taking the Chuunin Exams ever again!" Ibiki barked, emitting a faint bloodlust, enough to emphasize his threat. Murmurs filled the room. One by one, some of the Genin gave up and left. Naruto turned to Sakura and Sasuke and found them debating on which option to make, along with Hinata and the rest of his friends. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, Naruto stood up from his seat and started walking away from his desk. Some thought that Naruto was going to give up until they saw him head over to Ibiki, facing him in front of the entire room. Ibiki looked back at Naruto with a hardened glare.
What is Naruto doing? everyone wondered.
"Did I give you permission to stand and come before me, boy?" Ibiki said with a tone that intimidated most of the other Genin in the room.
"First off, my name is not boy. It's Uzumaki Naruto," Naruto replied calmly before continuing with a firm tone, "Furthermore, Morino Ibiki, you're so full shit it's sickening!"
Everyone, including Hinata, looked at Naruto in shock after hearing what he told Ibiki to his face. Sakura turned pale with a look of horror on her face.
"That freaking idiot is going to get me and Sasuke-kun kicked out, if not permanently banned from ever taking the Chuunin Exams again!" inner-Sakura screamed in panic.
"That imbecile!" Sasuke growled under his breath.
"What was that?" Ibiki asked venomously as he leaked out waves of bloodlust.
"I said you're full of shit! Did I stutter?" Naruto mocked, being unphased by the bloodlust as he continued, "Who the hell are you to say that we and those from foreign ninja nations can never become Chuunin? You backed yourself into a corner when you said that crap about all of us never being allowed to take the Chuunin Exams ever again if we chose to attempt to answer the tenth question and failed it! Tell me please, what political connections you have in high places to get all of the leaders of all of the other ninja villages to agree to that shit? I'm certain that Temari's father would never agree to your garbage!"
Ibiki looked at him and then turned to see the look on everyone's faces after listening to Naruto's logical words. They saw that everything Naruto said made sense.
"I trust Naruto-kun!" Hinata exclaimed. "I'll take the tenth question!"
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm with the dobe also. I find it illogical that the leader of another village would allow other shinobi nations to decide for them whether their ninja could ever be promoted to Chuunin or higher," Sasuke said.
"That cutie has never met my father, but after hearing what Naruto said, I doubt he'd ever agree to what Ibiki-san said," Temari said, "I choose to believe and side with Naruto."
And one by one all of the remaining Genin sided with Naruto. And with just that, the fear and uncertainty in the room was gradually dying down.
That kid boldly stood up to me as he saw through and called my bluff, completely wiped out everyone's fear, and got everyone to side with him, even those who would be his enemies, to take on what could have been a dangerous ordeal. This Naruto is truly Chuunin material. Anyway it's useless to wait anymore, Ibiki thought before shaking his head. "Everyone in this room…passes."
There was a deafening silence until…
"WHAT?!" a not so silent question came from all of the Genin in the room, except Naruto and Gaara.
"What about the tenth question?" Chouji asked.
"There was no tenth question. Or you can say the 'take or don't take' choice was the question. It was an impossible problem. Take it or don't. Live or die. You could say that choice was the whole point of this test," Ibiki said.
"What? But what was the point to those other questions then?" Temari asked.
"They served their purpose," Ibiki explained, "They weeded out those that are trash with no talent for gathering information. I'll say it again: you're here to become Chuunin. A Chuunin has to be able to get information. As you have noticed, the questions are difficult. To answer them, most of you had to cheat. Therefore, we planted two Chuunin who knew the answers to the questions. They were to be targets for the rest of the room. Those that cheated without regards for themselves or their teammates were kicked out. If you get bad information on a mission, then your teammates and village will be the ones to pay."
"But what about that tenth question?" a Kusa Genin asked.
"Let's suppose you become Chuunin. You will be sent in on missions with little or no information on enemy forces. Should you choose not to take the mission because of the uncertain factors involved? The answer is no. When you get a mission, you have to complete it, or the village will be in an unfortunate situation. We are shinobi, and we're sworn to protect our village. Those that believe 'there will always be next year' don't deserve to become Chuunin. But those still in this room demonstrated that they're willing to place their lives on the line. That's precisely what ninja do every day. Congratulations on passing, and good luck in the next exams."
As Ibiki finished his explanation, he, Naruto, and the more skilled Genin felt something flying towards one of the windows. Reacting quickly Naruto jumped back and landed near Hinata as he successfully avoided a black ball that flew through the window, sending shards of glass flying. The ball twisted and two kunai shot out of it into the ceiling, turning the ball into a banner hiding Ibiki from view. In front of the banner stood a woman wearing a brown trench coat, shin guards, fishnet clothes and a very small dull orange mini skirt. She had purple hair and brown eyes. The banner read, "The Second Examiner: Mitarashi Anko."
"This isn't a time to be celebrating! I'm the second examiner, Mitarashi Anko!" Anko yelled, pumping an arm into the air. Naruto looked at Anko as he studied her features and choice of dress. Everyone else also stared at the strange and loud examiner known as Anko. Ibiki's eyebrows twitched.
"Read the mood," Ibiki said, and Anko's mood deflated. She turned and faced Ibiki.
"Twenty-seven teams," Anko said sounding upset, "You let eighty-one people pass? The first test must have been too soft."
"There were a lot of excellent ones this year," Ibiki replied.
Anko replied as she turned to face the mixed group of Genin, "No matter. By the end of the second exam, I'll cut the number in half if not less."
Anko stopped when her eyes fell on Naruto, who was smiling toothily at her while holding his and Hinata's test papers which showed 4 tens written on the back of them. Hinata shook her head at Naruto's antics while everyone else looked at Naruto with confused expressions.
"What the hell are you doing, and what are the four tens for?" Anko asked.
Naruto explained enthusiastically, "It's the scores I'm giving you: 10 for the entrance, 10 for the landing, 10 for the outfit, and 10 for your sexy figure that looks even hotter with the outfit! A perfect score!"
Everyone looked at Naruto and wondered if he was for real.
Is he really the same Naruto that told Ibiki-san off just moments ago? the only red-haired female Kusa Genin wearing glasses thought.
He'll never change, Sakura mentally snorted.
"While I appreciate the praise gaki, I'm used to men complimenting and fawning over me like dogs in heat," Anko snickered.
"I'm sure you are! Over the years I've seen hot and great specimens in my in-depth research in Konoha, but damn how the hell did I miss such a magnificent specimen like yourself? And that orange mini-skirt of yours, with orange being my favorite color no less! I feel a sense of kindred spirit seeing you in that color and-"
"Naruto-kun," Hinata said meekly as she grabbed and tugged the side of his jacket a little with her left thumb and finger, "we're st-still taking the Chuunin Exams and you're k-keeping all of us from co…continuing."
Naruto looked back at Hinata who gave him a pleading look. The blond Jinchuuriki conceded and said, "You're right. I shouldn't be so selfish. I'll have to continue looking into this elusive specimen on a later occasion."
Sasuke thought, Hinata says I don't know Naruto as well as I think yet she subjects herself to tolerating Naruto's indecent behavior, and even during the Chuunin Exams he acts perverted in front of her and everyone else, even in front of those from foreign nations. He's even flirting with an older woman in front her! How long is Hinata going to stomach this?
"You amuse me gaki, but as the girl said, we have Chuunin Exam business to take care of!" Anko smirked before turning to the rest of the Genin and shouting, "Ask your sensei for directions to the next testing ground and be there tomorrow morning at nine! That's it! Dismissed!"
Anko left the room in the same manner in which she entered, right through the window.
"Would it have been too hard to use the front door?" Shikamaru asked.
"She has style, and not every ninja uses the door Shikamaru," Naruto said before turning to Hinata, "Hinata-chan, we still have time kill before the day is out. Wanna join me for some private time?"
"I…I do-don't know," Hinata meekly hesitated, "I was going to find a-and meet up with Kurenai-sensei with Kiba-kun and Shino-kun."
"I understand. I'll just meet up with you later if you have any time. It's not a problem," Naruto assured before making his way out of the room.
"And where do you think you're going Naruto," Sasuke asked.
"To find Kakashi-sensei for directions to the next testing grounds. I'll leave bread crumbs for you to follow," Naruto said as he left through the door. Ignoring Naruto's sarcasm, Sasuke and Sakura followed after Naruto to find Kakashi. It didn't take long for them to do so after find him in the mess hall with the other Jounin and Special Jounin. After hearing that they passed, Kakashi congratulated them and told them where the next next testing ground was going to be.
When they were dismissed, Naruto separated from the group and went his own way. While alone, he started thinking deeply about that chakra he sensed while inside the exam room. He summoned several clones and instructed them to search out the one the chakra was coming from, starting with the foreign Genin who took the test with him. The clones nodded and took off to carry out their assignment.
Meanwhile, a female Genin was looking for someone, and soon found who she was looking for.
I finally found him alone, she thought as she waited for her chance to approach Naruto, "Hey Naruto!"
Naruto turned to see Temari making her way over to him.
"Hey Temari. What's up?" Naruto greeted.
"Nothing much. I just wanted to say that you did good during the first part of the Chuunin Exams. That Ibiki-san guy really did a number in scaring many of the other would-be Chuunin to drop out of the exams. But I really liked how you used my father and political logic to thwart Ibiki's deception. I wouldn't have honestly thought of using that line of reasoning," Temari praised, "But how did you know about me being the daughter of the Kazekage when I didn't get the chance to tell you?"
"Hinata-chan told me after telling me how her day with you went. You walk like someone dignified, too," Naruto replied. Temari, despite knowing this was a mission from Baki, couldn't help but smile at the compliment.
"Thank you. That reminds me. You said the other day how you appreciate strong women who refined themselves into kunoichi while referring to me as an exceptionally polished gemstone," Temari commented.
"Wow! You actually remembered that?" a surprised Naruto asked.
"You were being sincere and honest, how could I forget?" Temari replied with a feminine smile, "I will admit that my younger brothers at one point didn't think highly of you. But today's earlier event obviously showed that their opinion of you changed, as Gaara clearly wants to challenge you and I'm sure Kankuro wants to also, though he won't come right out and say it."
"Overprotective siblings, typical," Naruto remarked. "Regardless, I'm sure lots of guys back in Suna still checked you out and complimented you," Naruto assumed. Temari's smile faded. She refrained from telling the truth about guys being too afraid to approach her because of Gaara. So she went with a different approach and said, "Like I said before, guys back home don't have guts to talk to me the way you do."
"Because you're the daughter of the Kazekage? That's lame and spineless on their part! They're missing out on such fun and pleasure they could be sharing with you right now. They don't know a good thing when they see it because of their fear to approach you," Naruto stated. Temari wanted to get mad but her blushing face and emotions conflicted with her sense of reasoning. This wasn't how she had wanted things to go, and she had to regain control of her emotions before she ended up making a fool of herself in public.
"One must always learn to look underneath the underneath; things aren't always what they appear to be on the surface. You being the daughter of the Kazekage is what you are on the surface, but that doesn't say who you are underneath," Naruto said.
After taking a moment to get herself together, Temari took a breath and said, "For someone who's ranked as the dead last of your class, it's quite clear that your proverb truly describes you also. Clearly we have something in common."
"Really? Won't Gaara and Kankuro hunt me down when they hear that you said that in public?" Naruto joked. Temari chuckled and said, "Don't worry about them. Since we have time to spare, how would you like to-"
Naruto and Temari turned to see Hinata approaching them. Hinata came stood by Naruto.
"Sorry it took me so long," Hinata apologized, "Kurenai-sensei had more things to say to us than I thought."
"Don't worry about that Hinata-chan," Naruto assured, "So what do you want to do now?"
"Whatever you want…Y-You said something earlier about pri-private time, right?" Hinata stuttered with a hint of lust in her tone while fiddling shyly with her index fingers.
"I did suggest that. I just have to make sure Honoka-nee isn't around to disturb us," Naruto chuckled and wrapped his arm around Hinata, pulling her closer to him. Temari, upon seeing this, couldn't help but feel angry and jealous at seeing Hinata in Naruto's arms. She tried to remind herself that she was on an assigned mission to try to find out more about Naruto, but she couldn't help but feel jealous of Hinata. Temari had to leave quickly, not wanting to blow her cover.
"Well, you two go and enjoy yourselves! But I'll be seeing you both tomorrow! Bye!" Temari said as she quickly dismissed herself. She hurried the pace while keeping her emotions in check. She took to leaping to the wall of a building and running up it till she was on the roof. Once there, she took a moment to get herself back in check and not lose sight of why they were in Konoha.
Damn her! Temari mentally swore. Hinata just had to show up and mess up everything I had going with Naruto! C'mon, Temari get a grip! What's your problem? Why are you so jealous? You're a dignified Suna kunoichi for kami's sakes! Why are you getting all emotional over a guy Baki-sensei assigned you to spy on who's clearly a threat to the plan? Besides, Naruto already has a girlfriend! So why are you acting like this?
Then Naruto's earlier words came to her mind: "…They don't know a good thing when they see it because of their fear to approach you…One must always learn to look underneath the underneath; things aren't always what they appear to be on the surface. You being the daughter of the Kazekage is what you are on the surface, but that doesn't say who you are underneath."
"He acknowledged me for me," Temari admitted to herself. "Something no guy in Suna has ever done."
Calming down, Temari started considering certain things about Naruto.
His proverb about looking underneath the underneath; it's the identifying mark that he became the dead last and acts the way he does on purpose to throw me and everyone off about him! He falsified his own records at the academy by intentionally doing poor at everything. And considering what Kabuto said about his skills and mission details, along with what I learned from Baki-sensei, Naruto only shown his true self when necessary. Just like how he did with Ibiki-san, Temari realized as she looked down at Hinata and Naruto walking away together with their arms around each other and Hinata's head resting on his left shoulder. I'm not through with you yet, Uzumaki Naruto. I'll find a way to get you to show me your true self, one way or another.
Temari took off and left, deciding to leave Naruto alone, for now.
(The Next Day)
All of the remaining teams made their way to the designated location. Upon their arrival, they stood in front of a massive, dreadful looking forest that was fenced up, making everyone a feel apprehensive at the sight of it. Naruto walked over to where the other rookies from Konoha stood. Then, in an explosion of smoke, Anko appeared in front of the forest. She, and the examiners already there looked around and made sure all the teams were there. When they were sure, Anko started speaking, "Welcome to the Forest of Death! Soon you'll learn why it's called that."
Naruto remarked, "That's nice and all, hot lady, but can you hurry this up so we can go camp out and picnic in your garden and play with all of your little animal friends?"
This got some chuckles from a number of Genin present. Anko smiled at him before whipping out a kunai and throwing it at him, aiming to nick his cheek. Naruto stood there motionlessly and unfazed as the kunai grazed the left side his face. Anko appeared behind him and grabbed him by the shoulders, holding him close to her.
"I really like you," Anko said as she licked his bleeding cheek. "…Your type always dies first and leaves behind a delicious blood trail."
All of the Konoha Genin, along with the foreign ones, looked at Anko licking Naruto's cheek. Many thought Anko was a psycho, while others thought she was just sick and twisted.
"She's a sick freak!" Sakura thought out loud while Sasuke looked at Anko with disgust.
"I see that you carry a burning desire of running your tongue over my body Anko," Naruto implied, "I can't say I'm surprised after our first meeting yesterday, which is why you cut my face and used my injury as an excuse to get a sample of what my body must feel and taste like under your tongue."
Nobody knew what to think after hearing Naruto's words with the serious implications they carried. Hinata, though, wasn't amused at what Anko was doing, and really wanted to let loose and put Anko in her place with some brutal Juuken strikes while cutting off some chakra points. She knew Naruto could have removed Anko from him, but her being the proctor of the second part of the Chuunin Exams kept him from acting out.
"You have balls to say that about me in front of everyone," Anko said with a measure of bloodlust.
Naruto ignored the bloodlust as he replied, "Balls aren't all I have, Anko, as I'm a ninja with many talents."
Anko was about to say something when…
"Excuse me, you dropped this," a female Kusa Genin with long black hair said as she appeared behind Anko while holding Anko's kunai with her tongue.
Anko turned to the Kusa Genin and said, "That was a dangerous stunt there. I could have killed you just now for that."
"My apologies. I'll be sure to watch my step with you next time," the Kusa Genin said as she returned the kunai and left. Naruto's attention turned to the female Genin from Kusagakure (Hidden Grass). Something about that Genin sent a vibe through the blond ninja that didn't sit well with him. After putting her kunai away, Anko disappeared and reappeared next to a booth where two of the other examiners sat.
"This portion of the exam is a field exam. All of you will be inside this forest for five days," Anko started, but was interrupted by a distressed Chouji who asked what would be done about food.
"Hunt," Anko answered plainly, "The forest is full of food. As I was saying, all of you will be staying in the forest. Getting these scrolls your objective."
Anko held up two scrolls, one of them brown and with the kanji for 'earth' on it, and one white with the kanji for 'heaven.'
"Each team gets one of these, and you're to get the opposite from an opposing team. By any means necessary," Anko said and held up a bunch of papers. "These are release forms that dismisses any charges against Konoha for whatever will or might happen to all of you. After all, none of you want to see me get into any trouble, right? Sign these forms, and exchange them for the scroll in this booth," Anko said and started passing out the forms. "You have twenty minutes to consider whether or not you'll risk your lives here and sign the forms. Then come one team at a time."
"So," an Oto nin figured. "In other words, killing is allowed in this part of the exams, correct?"
Anko retorted, "Didn't you hear me the first time? You're to get the opposite scroll from an opposing team by any means necessary."
The Genin went to sign the forms and get their scrolls. After a couple of moments, all of the Genin teams had signed the forms and had their respective scrolls.
"Finally, everyone have their scrolls. Now, let me explain the terrain and goal of this exam," Anko said before unrolling a chart showing the Forest of Death. Training area 44, best known as the Forest of Death, was surrounded by high fences with warning signs and do not enter signs. The trees of the forest itself were huge, and very dark. All of which Naruto already knew about from visions he had seen in his dreams before, as if he had trekked through the dangerous forest before.
"The fence around the forest has 44 gates, which you will pass through. In the center of the forest, about six miles from the gates, there is a tower. All of you must make your way there within five days with both scrolls. You have each been assigned a gate number. Go to your assigned gate and wait for it to open. That will be the start of the second exam," Anko explained. All of the Genin hurried to their gates. Before long, the Genin were allowed through the gates and into the infamous forest, not knowing what dangers awaited them.
For Naruto, he desperately hoped that whomever that chakra came from survived long enough for him to track down during the next five days. He knew time and circumstance were not on his side, as he had to find and protect that unknown Uzumaki who suddenly appeared in Konoha…
The first part of the Chuunin Exams is over but an even deadlier portion of the exams started with Naruto discovering that another Uzumaki is in Konoha! Will Naruto find the unknown Uzumaki in time, or will that unknown Uzumaki become a casualty of the second part of the Chuunin Exams? And with Temari in the state mind she's in with that secret mission she's on, what will result from it? What secret mission were the three Kiri Genin assigned to carry out in connection with Naruto? And what other dangers lie in wait for all of the Genin? Stick around and find out next time!