An: There is no fainting scene, but I'm hoping to make up for it in the coming chapters. I missed this story and I know you guys do too. I'm hoping to update operation munchkin and game over soon as well. I have most of the chapter written for both. If there are any inconstancies in this chapter I apologize. It's been a while and I need to reread it.

Chapter 42

The Hokage was not pleased with what he had been told.

A trusted teacher had been sabotaging children in the academy. For years.

He had planned to force the academy to graduate Naruto this year. Now, maybe Hiruzen had known that Naruto was not being treated all that fairly. He had to crack a few skulls together a time or two, but this. This was disturbing.

The Leaf had been actively sabotaged. Their ranks had been harder to fill the past few years, as there had been fewer graduates. Part of Hiruzen had thought maybe it was just the lack of drive or lack of will.

But no, something much more sinister was happening.

And if he had just taken the time to properly investigate it. If he had bothered to assign a team at the very least to look into complaints about the academy from past students and parents he could have prevented all of this. Instead, when he voiced his concerns to a trusted friend, he had been pacified.

With a heavy feeling of dread permeating his being Hiruzen discretely called forth his three most trusted Anbu.

"I need you to go through the academy records. Track down the students that failed. I also want you to find any promising genin that were MIA or KIA during missions. Be quick. I want the information within two hours. Do not be seen."

The three Anbu nodded and vanished.

With a grim face the Hokage made his way to the interrogation rooms.

He paused when he entered and took in the scene in front of him. Hyuuga Hinata was sitting in Naruto's lap. Unconscious. Her father looked like he had swallowed a lemon, but oddly enough remained silent.

The Sandaime raised his eyebrow.

"Hokage-Jii-sama," Naruto started, "I can explain."

"Go on."

"So, I was telling Hinata-chan a few jokes and-"

The Sandaime raised a hand and pressed it to his head and laughed exasperatedly. He could see where this was going.

"No, need to go on, Naruto. Just please wake her."

"Okay." Naruto pulled out smelling salts from his pocket prompting raised eyebrows from several of the people in the room.

Once Hinata had regained her faculties they began.

The Hokage had the children recount the interrogation. When they reached the part where the interrogation had turned he asked a question.

Why?

Why did they ask Mizuki those things?

The children grew quiet and solemn.

"Honestly," Kiba began, "I knew it was my only chance. No one else was asking those questions. I don't think anybody knew to ask those questions. Us academy kids, no one takes us seriously. We ask stuff and get a pat on the head and a boring history lesson instead of actual answers."

Kiba grew pensive before continuing.

"I knew some of the kids that flunked out. Some didn't deserve it."

"When you repeat the exams as many times as I have you see stuff." Naruto spoke up next. "The first time I took it one girl failed because her shuriken throwing skills were too low. But I was watching another person and they scored lower, but still passed. One guy didn't pass his taijutsu portion, he tripped and the teacher took off a lot of points. I looked at the training grounds after. There was a small piece of raised earth in the grass where he tripped. I don't think it was there before."

"I understand that the world isn't always a nice place, but Mizuki-sensei has always been unfair and a bit mean." Hinata said quietly "A few years ago there was one girl Mizuki was teaching taijutsu. A private lesson. He kept pushing her to the ground over and over again. Telling her how weak she was. How she would never become a ninja. How she was stupid and was better off just quitting. I didn't see her again the next day. Afterwards, Iruka-sensei was added as a teacher."

Hiruzen did not know about this.

But wait, maybe he did?

A complaint from a civilian family about the harshness of the academy. Their daughter had been abused by a teacher or so the complaint had been. Mizuki had been brought in briefly and he had seemed torn up and so sad by the accusations. Instead of investigating, Hiruzen had simply believed him. He had hired a more compassionate teacher to satisfy the parents, but their daughter had still withdrawn from the academy.

Hiruzen wondered where the girl was now.

One more thing to add to his growing list of failures.

He was tired.

No, not only was he tired, but he was going to retire. Again.

First, however, he was going to clean up his mess. He had sat on his hands for too long and his people were suffering.

Danzo would not be able to weasel his way out of this. There would be no trial. No council meeting.

As soon as his ANBU brought him sufficient evidence Danzo was dead.

Now, what was he going to do with these children until then? They were not safe here.

"Naruto, Hinata, Kiba, thank you for all that you have done. It seems I need a little more from you three as well. I have a task for you. If you complete it successfully I will promote all of you to special genin immediately."

'Special genin.' A ninja mouthed in incredulity.

All three children sat up and nodded seriously.

"Anko, I need you on this as well. This will require you to leave the village on an extended mission." Anko's eyes sharpened.

"This is an A-rank mission. I need you to track down Jiraiyah and Tsunade. It is time they returned to the village. I need you to be discreet. The mission begins immediately. Time is of the essence."

Team Badass agreed.

They could do discreet.

Sort of.

"Okay, so what does he mean by discreet? Can I use exploding tags?" Naruto asked not long after they left the village.

"Bombs are not discrete." Kiba snorted.

"Yeah, but what if they don't know it's me." Naruto argued.

"He's got a point." Anko agreed.

Kiba exchanged glances with Hinata. Clearly, they were going to be the only ones with common sense on the team.

"Also, what the hell is a special genin anyways?" Naruto asked confusedly. Anko burst into laughter.

"Nothing, it's absolutely nothing, but damn are we about to make it something." Anko grinned maniacally.

AN: I hope you guys liked it. I had a spurt of inspiration out of nowhere and just ran with it. Please see the authors note at the top if you haven't read it yet.