Chapter 42

Sakura just looked on in shock and awe. She had to blink a few times just to make sure it wasn't a dream. However, it was no dream and this was real.

"Sweet merciful Kami, the Hokage has doomed us all." Sakura said. This made Naruto do a face fall. He was quick to get up and glare at his teammate while Hinata and Anko giggled at him.

"Really? You couldn't even say congratulations Naruto? Nice job Naruto? You are a ninja god, Naruto?" He whined.

"First of all, you are no 'ninja god'. Secondly, this is you we're talking about Naruto. As a chunin, you have to be able to lead a team. Name one time that you led someone?" Naruto was about to retort when Sakura cut in. "That doesn't include your clones pranking the village, you clones attacking Anko or your clones eating ramen." Naruto shut his mouth and pouted.

"Any way, my otouto (little brother) is a chunin and we have to celebrate. Ramen guy, bring on the ramen and the sake. This party is on me tonight." Anko said, slapping several ryo on the counter. Tenchu was more than happy to oblige. Naruto was curious as to where Anko got so much money.

"Where did you get so much ryo? You got another job or something? Please tell me you didn't get drunk again?" Naruto asked.

"Nope. I just won cash and dango for life due to your promotion. I made out like a bandit." Anko stated.

"You know you owe me ten percent of those winnings." He informed her. Anko just gave him a look.

"How about I owe you five across the eyes?" Anko threatened. Sakura and Hinata just watched as the two argued. Sakura shook her head once again.

"Yeah, the Hokage has doomed us all." She said. Everyone at the ramen stand found it amusing.

XXX

Anko made her way to her apartment, sober. It was a very rare occurrence but Anko knew when to stop. Also, she had a mission tomorrow and didn't want the hangover during it. As she neared her place, she saw that Kakashi was there. Knowing Kakashi lived on the other side of the village, she could only wonder why he was here.

"You got lost or something Hatake?" Anko asked. The man faced her with an angry expression.

"I guess you're feeling pretty proud of yourself." Kakashi said with a tone.

"Depends. If you're talking about Naruto making chunin, then yes because that was because of me. If you're talking about your private chat with the Hokage, then yes because it looks like she said or did something to displease you."

"She disbanded my team. Sasuke is suspended, Sakura and Naruto are being reassigned."

"Huh, I lost that pool." She said off-handedly.

"You think that this is a joke?!" Kakashi exclaimed. "Because of your influence on Naruto, my team is gone. You just destroyed a team that could have been the next Sannin (Three Ninja)!"

"That's not too far off if you think about it. I'm pretty sure Sasuke will betray the village soon." Anko said calmly, which deeply angered Kakashi. Anko was starting to get annoyed so she decided to end Kakashi's little blame party. "Look, if you want to blame someone for all this happening, then look in the mirror."

"I'm not to blame for this!" Kakashi shouted.

"Don't pull that innocent crap! You were team seven's sensei. You were supposed to guide them and bring them together. Naruto is a disrespectful little brat but guess what, you did nothing even earn that respect. Sakura was a pathetic kunoichi and you did nothing to help her improve. Sasuke was nothing more than an entitled, spoiled, jealous little creep who expected everyone to give into his demands, which you did so spectacularly. The failure and disbanding of your team rest on your shoulders." Anko said. She bumped Kakashi shoulder and opened her door. As she entered her apartment, she had a little bit more to say.

"You are right about one thing Hatake. You had a team that could have been the next Sannin. The only difference between you and the Sandaime Hokage-sama is that he had the balls to admit that he screwed up." With that said, the door was slammed in his face. Kakashi stood there for a while before leaving her complex.

XXX

Sasuke was making his way home after hours of training. It did little to ease his frustrations. He was frustrated with his progress to kill Itachi. Part of the problem was Naruto's interference but it was a small part. The fight showed him that everything he has done was fruitless. Itachi effortlessly defeated him and made him look weaker than before. He made him relive that horrible day over and over. He too it as punishment for his weakness. He was not getting stronger.

Sasuke wondered if it was Konoha that held him back. Sure, Kakashi was a strong jonin and focused on him but Itachi beat him too. Even with the Chidori, he couldn't hit him. Konoha may have produced people like the Kiroi no Senko (Yellow Flash) and the Sannin but who has Konoha created lately? As he thought about this, a conversation caught his attention.

"I can't believe that those two made chunin. Yeah, they had some great matches but to be promoted?" A man Sasuke assumed was a civilian said. Sasuke had forgotten all about the exams. He began to wonder why he was not called to get his vest when the shinobi with the guy spoke.

"Hey, those two deserve that promotion. Shikaku's boy had that Suna kunoichi on the ropes from the word go. I wouldn't mind him leading as he is his father's son. Also, Naruto is some kind of battle genius. The way he defeated the Hyuga prodigy around like he was a new genin. Those two will be a welcomed addition to the rank." The shinobi said.

"Okay, I defer to your experience because you're a ninja. Still, wouldn't you want the last Uchiha as a chunin?" the friend asked.

"Truth be told, I never understood the hype of that kid. Yeah, he's an Uchiha but I knew a few before the massacre. In Uchiha terms, he's above average." The chunin said. He suddenly stopped and spun around quickly. His friend looked worried.

"What's up?" he asked.

"I don't know. For a second there, I thought someone was about to attack me."

XXX

Kakashi stood in front of the memorial stone in complete silence. He just looked at the names, deep in thought about his decisions. No matter how much he reasoned his action, how much he mentally explained them, Anko was right. Everything that had led up to this point was on him.

He favored Sasuke to the point that the boy believed he was untouchable. He ignored Sakura and wasn't there to help her through her suffering. He lost the respect of Naruto and had no hand in his growth. He was a terrible sensei and his own sensei would be appalled at his choices. He even knew that Rin and Obito would be disappointed in him.

Kakashi came to the realization that he had to become a better person before he could mend the rifts he caused. The way he was now, it would only hinder him. His journey in becoming better would have to start with him talking to someone. There was a lot for him to vent. Afterwards, he was going to find Naruto and Sakura. He was going to apologize for his neglect and pray that they accept this. It was the right thing to do.

XXX

Naruto led Sakura and Hinata to an open field. The new chunin wanted to show the two his new jutsu that he learned while on the road. He also wanted to talk to Gamabunta about allowing him to sign Anko's contract. Sakura and Hinata were a little worried about that.

"I-I don't think this is a g-good idea Naruto-kun." Hinata said.

"I'm with Hinata. This just seems stupid." Sakura added

"Kami, you two have been complaining about this since I got you. Look, I want to sign Anko-oneesan's contract. I know that both groups have a bad history and I need to arrange some kind of sit down so that they could talk." Naruto explained.

"Naruto, the Gama and Hebi clans have never gotten along. Even when Orochimaru was a Konoha-nin, they only tolerated each other. What makes you think all of that is going to change just because Anko has a different version of the Hebi contract?" Sakura asked seriously.

"I can be pretty convincing. I convinced you to become a better kunoichi. Hell, no one thought that was possible." Naruto said cheekingly. Sakura gave him a dirty look. Hinata tapped Naruto in his side.

"Stope antagonizing Sakura, Naruto-kun. Besides, don't you t-think summoning a huge toad may upset the Hokage?" Hinata asked.

"Nah, Tsunade-obaa (Granny) won't do nothing. I just tell her I was training." Naruto said confidently. Naruto stepped forward and was about to bit into his thumb when someone appeared. Naruto was startled by who it was. "Sasuke?" The two females walked up to Naruto and saw that it was indeed Sasuke. However, the three were on edge as Sasuke gave Naruto a very dark and menacing glare. They watched as he walked up to them, his fists clenching and unclenching. The Sharingan was piercing right at Naruto, which made him uneasy. Naruto prepared himself just in case.

"What's wrong with you?" Naruto asked.

"Fight me!" Sasuke demanded loudly. That surprised the three.

"What?"

"I said 'fight me'!"

"First off, I would watch the attitude. Secondly, why would I fight you? You seem to be very angry with me for some reason." Naruto said.

"You think you're so great?! You think just because you brought back that woman to be Hokage and she promoted you, that you're so great?! You're nothing! I don't care if you're a chunin! You are still a no nothing dead-last!" Sasuke exclaimed loudly. His rant was very shocking to them.

"Are you actually jealous?" Naruto asked surprised. Sasuke glared at him harder. "Holy shit, he is."

"Enough! Fight me!"

"Sasuke, you need to calm down. We can talk about this." Sakura said, trying to be peace keeper.

"Shut up! No one is talking to you!" Sasuke spat. Sakura glared at him for his attitude.

"However, I am talking and you need to calm down!" she shouted at him. "You are threatening someone of higher rank and there are consequences. Yes, Naruto reached chunin but he earned it. If you want to act like a spoiled child the do it alone." Sakura turned to Naruto. "Come on Naruto, we can do this another time."

"I agree with S-Sakura. Let's go." Hinata added.

"Yeah, we can do this later." Naruto said. The trio decided to leave. This only enraged Sasuke further and he went through hand seals.

"Katon: Gokakyu no Jutsu! (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique)" Sasuke roared and launched a large ball of fire. The three turned around to see the attack coming at them. Naruto was quick to come out of his shock to do his own jutsu.

"Suiton: Suijinheki! (Water Release: Water Wall)" Naruto shouted and spat out a large torrent of water. It formed a wall of water and drowned Sasuke's fireball. There was a little steam that cleared out quickly. Naruto stopped his jutsu only for Sasuke to come at him. Naruto blocked the punch and redirected it. He jumped and planted both of his feet into Sasuke's chest. Sasuke was sent flying and hit the ground with a thud. Naruto was quick to his feet with a pop-up. He quickly checked his two friends.

"You guys alright?!" Naruto asked urgently.

"Y-Yeah, I am fine." Hinata answered.

"I'm okay Naruto." Sakura answered as well. The two joined him as they looked at Sasuke who was slowly getting up. Naruto glared at Sasuke and took off his coat.

"You two need to go. It's me he wants, it's me he'll get." Naruto said.

"What? W-We can't leave you!" Hinata exclaimed.

"Hinata is right. Sasuke has gone off the deep end. He's going to kill you." Sakura added.

"This is not up for debate! I am ordering you two get out of here! I'll hold him off until you get help!" Naruto shouted.

"Well, I'm ignoring your order dummy!" Sakura said and faced Sasuke. Hinata did the same, making Naruto sigh.

"Fine but back me up." Naruto said. The three prepared themselves as Sasuke glared at them.

"I'm going to break you loser. I'm going to have you laying at my feet broken!" Sasuke spat loudly.

"We'll see about that." Naruto said. The two roared and charged at each other, Sakura and Hinata following behind him.

XXXXX

Author's Notes

Sorry about the delay. I had a bit of a writer's block with this story. Lucky for me, it cleared and I'm back to writing this story. Anyway, enjoy the new chapter.