Author's notes:

Okay, so I've done writing in the past, but am really out of practice. I'm not really good at grammar or spelling so I'm working on that.

Don't really think I need to explain that I don't actually own any of these characters, but I'm throwing it out there anyways.

That all out there, here we go.

Chapter 1: Divergence

Naruto adjusted his forehead protector, trying very hard to forget about what just happened. He and Sasuke had an unspoken agreement to never ever bring up what just happened again. Sakura, who was sitting next to Naruto and his bitter enemy, who really didn't care much about his hatred.

Iruka walked into the classroom, tapping some papers together in his hand. He raised an eyebrow at the somewhat beaten up Naruto, but shook his head as he realized what he thought was bruises were just his eyes playing tricks on him, "Beginning today all of you are real ninjas, but you are still merely rookie, genin," stressing the word to let them know they had a lot to prove, "The hard part has just started. Now... you will soon be assigned duties by the village, so today we will be creating the three-man teams, with a jounin sensei."

Naruto resisted his chin on his hand, I hope I'm on the same team as Sakura... and then anyone else, except Sasuke. He glanced at the people on his left, Sakura had her eyes dreamily checking out Sasuke, who in turn looked bored with it all.

Iruka continued, "You will follow that sensei's instructions as you complete the assigned duties," he held up the papers for the class to look at though with the fine writing only a few could actually see it well enough to read the teams, "We tried to balance each team's strength, however," he smiled at his favorite student, "Someone was determined to mess with us even in graduation!" Naruto beamed, "Had to go out causing one last head ache, didn't you?"

Iruka called out all the teams, Naruto paid half attention, he didn't care about the other teams as much as he knew he should have, but he was focusing on two names, his own, and the girl next to him, "Next, Team 7..." Iruka paused flipping through the pages, Naruto glanced up long enough to see the ink blots on the page, "Haruno Sakura," Naruto perked up, "Aburame Shino, Uchiha Sasuke, under Kakashi."

"WHOOHOO!" Sakura shouted.

Naruto let out a sigh, and slumped in his chair, Figured I wouldn't be so lucky.

Iruka continued ignorant of, or simply choosing to ignore, Naruto's displeasure at Sakura being on a different team, let alone with her idol, "Team eight, Hyuga Hinata, Inuzuka Kiba, and Uzumaki Naruto!"

"Seriously?" someone said from the back, "That's balanced?" Naruto looked back, it was Kiba who had spoken.

Iruka sighed, "I said we tried, Naruto... threw a wrench in the works to say the least."

"Bah," he said contemptibly, but he grinned at Naruto, or possibly bared his teeth. Looked more friendly but Naruto wasn't too sure. His dog, Akumaru, was sitting on the desk in front of Kiba, Naruto could tell that at least the dog was happy to be on his team.

"You three will be under Kurenai," Iruka finished, he looked at Naruto and swiped at his nose, Naruto recognized it as his see-me-after-class signal.

Yeah yeah, I get it, Naruto thought. He put his chin on the desk, and as he glanced about the room. His quick glance as Sasuke didn't reveal anything new, Sakura on the other hand was giggling. She looked very happy about her arrangement. He rolled his head over and saw a few other classmates, but one stuck out from the rest of the class, mostly because she was very red. Hinata was focusing very intently on her fingers which were pushing together in a nervous twitch. He'd seen her use it a lot, of course when he mentioned to any one else they had no idea what he was talking about.

Iruka ran through the last few names and said, "All right! Class dismissed to meet with your new teachers!"

Everyone got up except Naruto. Kiba heartily pounded him on his back, "Hey wake up! Time to move!" Naruto coughed and looked at the wild man, who had his canine partner situated in his jacket.

Iruka had already approached Naruto and waved Kiba off toward the door, "Wait outside a moment, I gotta talk to Naruto."

Naruto sighed, "Lecture?"

"Nope, just wanted to explain something." Iruka said calmly sitting down, in front of Naruto, "Got all the lecturing done already."

"What?" Naruto said leaning back in his chair and placing his feet on the table.

Iruka batted the feet off, making Naruto temporarily lose his balance, "We were having trouble placing you..." he paused for a moment, "Well... I was." Naruto only tilted his head quizzically, "It's because of your... extra passenger," he added, "A few of the jonin out there are more like Mizuki than me. I wanted to make sure you got a good one, that and it was hard to add you, we had already decided the teams."

"So why with Kiba and Hinata?" Naruto asked.

"Well, Hinata's a nice girl, and Kiba, well... He's sometimes a jerk but he's generally a good guy" Iruka said with somewhat of a half-smile on his face, And will hopefully help keep you out of trouble, he thought then added, "And I trust Kurenai, so I don't think she'll treat you unfairly."

Naruto nodded emphatically, happy that his now former mentor had put so much effort into placing him into a good team.

"Okay, not get out there. Your team is probably waiting on you."

Naruto ran outside and looked down the halls, he ran toward Kiba who was waiting, "That was quicker then expected," he said smirking, "Expected him to lecture you quite a bit."

"Me too," Naruto admitted.

"Uh... umm..."

Naruto turned around, he had ran past the shy Hinata without realizing, "Oh! Hey," he said smiling, "Sorry to keep you both waiting."

"It's fine," she said looking down, "I hope we can work together..."

Naruto turned toward Kiba, "So... uh... where's our leader?"

Kiba's smirk disappeared, "Ain't here yet," he said, the dog in his jacket let out a bark, "I think she's coming."

Naruto looked down the hall, "I don't see anyone," after a couple of seconds passed, Hinata silently nodded agreement.

"Neither can I, but I can smell something."

"Glad to see your senses live up to your family name," a female voice said from behind them. They turned around and saw a tall woman standing next to Hinata. She smiled at them, "I'm Kurenai," she placed a hand on Hinata's shoulder and looked at the three of them, "Let's go somewhere else shall we?"

With that she silently led the way to another building and brought them to the roof. She leaned against the railing. She indicated the mountain that they all lived under. The stone carved faces looking over the village, "I suppose I don't need to ask you all if you know who those people are do I?" She turned toward Naruto, "One of you got a great lecture from Iruka about them. And I'd assume the rest of you did too."

Kiba sat down and let Akumaru out of his jacket, "Yeah, yeah, the great hokages."

Hinata said in a soft voice barely above a whisper, "The hokages are our leaders, some like the fourth laid down their lives to protect the village, they are the best ninja this village has to offer."

Kurenai nodded appreciatively, "Very good, Hinata, I can see why you got great scores on written exams."

"What about them though?" Naruto asked crossing his arms.

"Well, their goals were to protect the village, or to learn and so became great leaders like our current hokage. What about you? What are your goals?"

Naruto pointed up at the faces, "I want to be the greatest hokage ever!"

A small smirk appeared on Kurenai's face, "Well, hopefully others won't get the idea to smear graffetti over your face when it gets up there," she turned toward Kiba, indifferent to Naruto's blank look of shock, she didn't dismiss his claim like many others had, outwardly at least.

Kiba thought for a moment, "I think I want to be the strongest as well," he looked at Naruto to gauge his indirect challenge, "I want to raise Akumaru into the best nin-dog there is."

Kurenai laughed sweetly, "It seems we already have a bit of a rivalry going here," she looked at Hinata, who immediately turned red, "And now Hinata it's your turn."

She began to push her fingers together in a nervous twitch, Naruto turned toward Kiba to see if he was indeed seeing it, Kiba shrugged at Naruto's unspoken question, "Uh... Well..." She glanced toward Naruto, who had brought his attention back to her, "I guess... to umm..."

Kurenai smiled , "To get stronger as well, right?" She said folding her arms and resting her chin in her hand, Hinata looked up at her and slowly nodded, "Great, then all three of you already have something in common, you all want to get stronger."

Kiba laughed, "Of course we do!"

"Which leads me to my next question," Kurenai said standing up right, "How do you go about that?"

Kiba stared at her for a moment before looking back at the others, "Training?" he said, it seemed obvious enough.

Kurenai shook her head, "Yes, that's true, but that's not where your strength will be. It's in your team," she indicated the hokages, "Every hokage got where he was because he had friends he could rely on. So our first task, starting tomorrow and for the next few days we are going to be training together and living together."

Naruto looked at her, "I understand the training but why living together?'

Kurenai folded her arms, "If you three can't live and work together then there's no purpose in me training you guys," she sighed and walked up to Naruto and put her hands on his shoulder, "I really want all of you to be my students, Iruka spoke very highly of all of you, but if you can't live together, then you can't fight together."

Naruto nodded, and Kurenai looked about Kiba's expression told her he understood. She supposed he had experience with making sure he had a suitable partner in Akumaru, she then turned toward Hinata, who was staring at her fingers, red as a beet. She then looked at Naruto, "Okay, meet at the gate tomorrow, at one o'clock, thirteen hundred hours."

Naruto nodded and she let go of him and he started walking away. She caught Hinata by her shoulder, "Please wait, I'd like to go meet with your father tonight."

Hinata nodded, "Okay," she said quietly.

Kurenai's lips twisted into a small smile, "You're as shy as Iruka said," she said wrapping her arm around Hinata, "I know it's putting you on the spot, but how about we get dinner tonight? Before going to your father's?"

"You... want to?" Hinata said with some surprise in her voice.

"Of course I do," Kurenai said reassuringly, "I do plan on sitting down with all of you during the next couple days, but I feel like us girls should spend a little more time together."

Hinata nodded and for the first time Kurenai had seen her smiled.

Kurenai lead the way to a local restraunt, Hinata thought she knew the owner's kid but couldn't be sure. They sat down and Kurenai waived away the menu, she turned to Hinata, "They have very good red bean soup here, I believe Iruka said that was your favorite?"

"Yes!" Hinata said, as soon as she realized her voice was raised she began to blush and looked down at her hands.

"Great!" Kurenai said just a little bit louder smiling at her, she looked at the waiter, "Two shriuko's, a small bit of saké for me and water for her," he nodded and ran back to relay the order, "Oh! And some pickled radishes," the server turned and nodded with a smiled. She turned toward Hinata and placed her elbows on the table, "So Hinata, I know a bit about you, but I want to hear about you from you."

"I don't know what you mean..." Hinata said looking around the restaurant and seeing that indeed not everyone was staring at them because of their outburst, looked back at Kurenai.

"What are your interests, hobbies, wishes?" Kurenai said as the waiter returned with drinks.

"Well..." Hinata said taking the cup in her hands, it was cool to the touch as she ran her fingers about the rim of the cup and she watched the water swirl inside, "I like pressing flowers..."

"That's interesting," Kurenai said pouring herself a bit of saké, "How often do you do that?"

She shook her head, "Not often."

"Too bad," Kurenai lifted the cup to her lips and stopped, she held it out to Hinata, "Want to try?"

She held up her hands, "I can't! I'm-"

"Underaged? Well, you're old enough to fight for Kohona, you're old enough to have a drink, it's up to you though." Kurenai said leaning back trying to let her know there was no pressure. Hinata stared for a moment, and reached out her hand, Kurenai placed the cup in her hand and Hinata took the sip, she coughed and made a face. Kurenai laughed, "Not your thing, huh?"

Hinata shook her head violently, as Kurenai handed her a pickled radish, which she devoured quickly to get the taste out of her mouth, "I do not believe so."

Kurenai shook her head, "You don't need to be so formal, Hinata, relax."

Hinata nodded, "Sorry, sensei."

Kurenai thought for a moment, "I know it's a breach of conduct, but you can just call me Kurenai when we're alone," Hinata looked up at her, "I don't want you to think of me as just a mentor. Think of me as a friend," Hinata nodded, "Speaking of friends," Kurenai said, "Iruka said you had a couple at school?"

"Sakura and Ino..." Hinata said with a nod.

"How about the guys? Are you friends with Kiba and Naruto?" Hinata nodded, "And about Naruto?" Kurenai said with a very big grin, she had read Iruka's reports. Hinata looked up at Kurenai, and turned as red as Kurenai had ever seen. Hinata looked down at her hands and muttered a few words. Kurenai laughed openly, "I'm just curious, what is it you see in him?"

The food came as Hinata slowly found her voice again, "I admire him... I like that he's always smiling, always trying... he's got so much self confidence..."

"Hey," Kurenai said quietly, when she didn't look up she repeated herself, "Hey, if that's the reason why," Kurenai began when Hinata looked her in the eyes, "Then you picked a good guy."

Hinata turned more red then normal.