The long awaited Chapter Eleven! Author Note at bottom, cause I figured you wouldn't bother reading it if it was up here. ^^"
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, but if I did, Naruto would be the only one in his generation that wanted to be Hokage!
Naruto was far from happy as they made their way back to the village with Itachi in tow. The former missing nin was silent as he walked but Naruto could see the relief on his face that came with coming home for the first time in years. Sasuke, on the other hand, looked like his entire world had come crashing down. Naruto really couldn't blame him after all the information that he had heard; Sasuke was probably revaluating everything that he had ever heard and seen from his family when they were alive. It was probably not a pleasant realization. Naruto was rather glad that he would never have to have a similar one.
"What are we going to tell everyone?" Sakura asked, nervous about the on-coming explanation they were facing at the hands of the Council, not to mention the Hokage.
"The truth," Sasuke sighed, glancing at his brother. There was no other way that he'd be able to regain his remaining family and that was something that he wanted more than anything. Itachi kept his face calm but Sasuke could see the small twitch of his lips that meant he was smiling. It seemed that he was still able to read his brother, even after all these years. It was annoying to know that even when Sasuke had thought the man had murdered their entire clan for no reason other than to 'test himself' that he hadn't discarded the knowledge he'd had of his brother's personality in order to hate him all the more.
"Beyond that," Naruto commented, blank eye narrowed. "We need to be selective about what we tell them."
Itachi hnned in understanding, having easily figured out that his blond opponent was visually handicapped after only a few minutes into their battle. It hadn't been hard as the blond hadn't bothered closing his eye during their battle yet remained unaffected by any of his Genjutsu. That was an impossibility if he was able to see. Naruto's sentence was a veiled hint to keep that information quiet. He'd no problem with keeping the secret and kept on walking with the others in silence.
It was not long before he reached the village gates and braced themselves for the upcoming inteto-ah, debriefing.
Sarutobi was there waiting for them at the gate to Konoha, a grim and yet satisfied look on his aged face. He gave Itachi a warm, welcoming nod, to the surprise of the three genin and the missing nin.
"You didn't think Danzo left things to chance, did you? After raiding his underground base we found hoards of information about things long thought to be coincidence or accidental deaths. His records included the faked orders to you to have the Uchiha Clan assassinated and his 'agreement' with you so you'd stay quiet. We were going to send out a messager hawk but this makes things easier." Sarutobi smiled at the relief in Itachi's stance. "The announcement will be made today about the true events. Welcome home."
The ninja around them gave Itachi the same welcoming. To think that one of their own had been used like that was devastating and infuriating. It was also frightening. Konoha shinobi were a unit, leaves of a tree working together for the good of the village to protect the 'trunk' or civilians. The Anbu and the T&I were the roots the kept the trunk strong (not Danzo's Ne Anbu, no matter what the man thought in life). Danzo was rot that had nearly brought them down. Stealing and corrupting leaves as he went.
"Glad to be back. Now, about Kisame..." Itachi remembered that he'd left his partner to fight the former Demon of the Mist Momochi Zabuza before engaging his brother and his team in battle.
"Ah, he's already been apprehended. Haku managed to turn the battle in Zabuza's favor using his Hyoton. With the ability to freeze any of Kisame's suiton jutsu, he was easily captured when he resorted to kenjutsu. It seems your partner let himself get out of practice in that area.
Itachi nodded, eyes thoughtful. "Word that I was a spy will not have reached them yet, then. However it will not take long for them to wonder where Kisame and I are. Would you like me to continue in pretending to be a missing nin for the time being?"
Sarutobi frowned in thought before shaking his head. "Too many dangers if word does reach them of this conversation." He finally decided. "Your information from the years you spent there will already be a large blow to their plans. I do not needlessly risk my ninja. You will remain here and reintegrate yourself amongst the village life before you decide if you wish to resume missions. The decision on who will be clan leader and heir lies between you and Sasuke."
Sasuke blinked, he hadn't thought of that. A chance to get rid of the responsibilities that come with being the clan leader (admittedly to a single person clan) was a welcome thing in his books. He gave a searching look at Itachi, one that any Uchiha would be able to tell meant 'Take it. Take it now.'
"For now, when must focus on more important matters." Sarutobi sighed. "There were some interesting finds when we took down Ne Anbu. Those can be discussed later. You've all earned a break. Naruto, Jiraiya is to show you to your clan home later. Sakura, your parents are probably worried, you should report to them immediately so they stop harassing the staff. You're all dismissed."
"Hai, Hokage-sama!" The four disappeared. Sarutobi nodded to himself, one thing completed another hundred or so to go.
The team didn't meet up again until nearly a week later. Itachi and Sasuke had been too busy identifing the Uchiha that Ne Anbu had secreted away over the years. Itachi hadn't been able to identify any of them, but had speculated that they were among those that had been kidnapped as babies. It had been one of the reasons that the Uchiha Clan were set of have a coup, all the missing children that turned up if they didn't keep their eyes on them twenty-four seven. 'So that's why Danzo didn't want us to discuss the reasons with them...' Hiruzen had sighed in mourning for all that could have been solved years ago if they had managed those talks.
Kisame had been interogated by the T&I teams and was locked in one of the highest guarded cells in the underground Ne base. It had been turned into the Anbu base after discovery, to throw off any spies that were trying to find information on the village. Really, if the underground complex had been missed by the natives, unfamiliar spies who knew nothing of the territory were never going to find it.
Kakashi had been more than happy to turn over Sasuke's clan training to Itachi (someone who actually had a full Sharingan and could help him with it more that Kakashi ever could). Jiriaya had taken over Naruto's clan training by teaching him secret Uzumaki Clan technique's. He'd been tasked with guarding the Uzumaki Temple as well, for reasons that Jiraiya and Naruto refused to tell anyone. The perimeter seals made sure that no one that wasn't Uzumaki by blood could get into the Temple. So if it was accessed without Naruto knowing, he'd be there in a heartbeat.
Sakura had focused on reassuring her parents that she was fine and learning Medical Ninjutsu. She'd come a long way from the basics and had been helping in the hospital with the wounded from the invasion. Kakashi couldn't have been more proud when he had heard.
So when Team Seven finally met again, it was for the promotion ceremony. While they'd been officially chuunin since the second part of the exam, the team needed to get the flack vest with the rest of the promo-tees. Suna's genin were to be in attendance as well. Kakashi had a feeling that they too, had been promoted, recalling the tales that he had heard of the genin going around the village and saving various Konoha civilians that had been forced out of hiding during the attack.
Sarutobi Hiruzen was to be the acting Kage for both villages in this matter since the Kazekage had been killed. Suna had thought it was appropriate seeing as he had seen more of their skills and knew whether they were qualified or not than any filler Kage they could send. So he'd started with the Suna genin.
"Sabaku no Temari!" Sarutobi called. Temari stepped forward with only a bit of hesitation. "You have shown great skill in times of war, leading your team in defense of the villagers and protecting numerous allies from enemy attacks as they took civilians to safety. You have been promoted to Chuunin. Be proud and serve your village well."
Temari accepted the flak jacket with a bright smile before stepping in line with her team.
"Sabaku no Gaara!" Gaara stepped forward. "You have demonstrated that you are capable of prioritizing between the battle and protecting the civilians by pointing out their distress to your team leader. You were instrumental in the defense of the village in a time of war and have saved the lives of many children that were separated from their parents during the battle. Your quick thinking when the building came down, using your sand to protect those that were the way of it's fall, saved many lives. For that, you have been promoted to Chuunin. Serve your village well."
"Eh?" Kankuro mutter in confusion as Gaara accepted the vest. "What children? I don't remember seeing any children on the streets."
"Baka! That's because Gaara used his sand to get them to the Konoha Chuunin that were looking for them in the alleys!" Temari growled at her brother. "How did you miss that?!"
"Sabaku no Kankuro," Sarutobi looked amused. "Like your siblings, you have shown great foresight in a time of war. You have also been promoted to Chuunin." Kankuro accepted the flak jacket with only mild embarrassment.
"Uzumaki Naruto! Uchiha Sasuke! Haruno Sakura!" Sarutobi called out, grinning at the show of confusion. The other three promotions had been down separately. "You were promoted during the second exam, but asked to keep it a secret as to continue in the Chuunin Exams without much question, therefore the official promotion will be held now. Team 7 successfully escaped the Sannin, Orochimaru, and alerted the village to his presence a month in advance which allowed us to gain the upper hand in the invasion. Not only that, your team alerted us to a potential spy within our ranks that we successfully captured and detained. You led what you thought to be an S-Ranked criminal away from the village and managed to find information that greatly benefited our village. We have regained Uchiha Itachi. You three our promoted to Chuunin, continue to serve your village well!"
The three stepped forward with wide grins, accepting the flak jackets with little fuss.
"Nara Shikamaru!" Sarutobi called. "You showed great tactics and above genin skill in the face of battle. You showed the knowledge of when it's best to give up and when it's best to fight to the end, preserving your chakra for the invasion. You have been promoted to Chuunin. Serve your village well."
Shikamaru sighed, but stood and accepted the flak jacket.
"So concludes our promotions. Many of you have shown great skill and talent in these exams, however you have also shown yourselves to be unready for the responsibilities that come with leading a team. Hyuuga Neji, you allow yourself to be clouded by the past and would put your team in danger. You do not qualify for the mental health requirements that are made for this exam. Tenten, you showed great skill but little tactic against a opponent ill suited for your own style. You did not qualify for Chuunin. Rock Lee, you showed much skill but you become to focused on the opponent and not your surroundings or your mission. You caused much damage during the invasion and nearly caused a building to crush several civilians. You are not yet qualified to become a Chuunin."
Lee looked horrified at that, crocodile tears running from his eyes.
"Yamanaka Ino, you are not nearly skilled enough to become a Chuunin." Sarutobi knew that this wasn't going to be kind but it had to be done. "You are too focused on boys and your looks and not enough on your skills. Frankly, you shouldn't have even been in the exams and if not for your other two teammates, I wouldn't have allowed it." Ino looked mortified. "Akamichi Choji, you showed much skill but you must not let you rage blind you. Until you get a hold of your temper, you cannot become a Chuunin." Choji looked somewhat abashed.
"Aburame Shino, you showed skill with your clan jutsu but little else. No tactics or taijutsu or even other ninjutsu. With that little knowledge we cannot justify passing you." Shino nodded solemnly. "The same with you, Inuzuka Kiba. You showed basic Academy taijutsu and only clan ninjutsu. You cannot be passed with such pitiful knowledge." Kiba turn scarlet with embarrassment. "Hyuuga Hinata, you showed great skill, above genin level, but you lack confidence and that will get you team killed in the battle field. You are easily unbalanced and that is dangerous for a Chuunin. Therefore, you cannot be passed."
Hinata nodded, frowning. 'Great skill? Above genin?' She had much to think about.
"You are all dismissed! The newly minted Chuunin should report here for assignments tomorrow morning!" Sarutobi felt glee fill him. Genin's had it easy but once you hit Chuunin, the real hard work began.
The newly minted Chuunin vanished, the Suna trio getting ready to head back to Suna with their sensei, while the Konoha Chuunin were to meet with their sensei for the traditional parting gift. While Konoha wasn't known for their sensei's abandoning their genin after promotion, the parting gift was more of a sign that they were proud of their accomplishment and looked forward to working with them in the future. Kakashi had been holding back on the gift until they were officially Chuunin in the eyes of the village and not just the Hokage and a select few.
'Assignments will be...interesting.' Hiruzen thought to himself as his office cleared. 'Very, very, interesting.'
And it's done! Aren't you all happy! It only took six months! ...yeah, sorry about that but dead laptop, school, life in general...really, just be glad that this was written at all! I mean seriously, I've had a shitty six months. A really shitty six months! And Fanfiction doesn't have an 'update' option on the mobile version of the website. I know, I've looked. That being said, no being angry at the poor author who just barely managed to borrow a laptop from a friend so she could get this up! And typed, let's not forget typed because that's very important...
Yeah, it's 1:03 am and I'm tired but I haven't had a decent nights sleep in two months so meh. I'm done trying. Have a chapter.