Four Teams ch 1
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Naruto Uzumaki entered the academy with a beaming grin that could probably have outshone the sun, and a gleaming hitai-ate on his forehead.
Hinata noted this with adoration, Sasuke and Neji barely noted this at all, Shikamaru was sleeping and as such didn't note this at all, Tenten didn't note this either due to being busy with her kunai, Chouji and Kiba noted this with surprise, Rock Lee noted this with joy, and Sakura and Ino noted this with annoyance.
Naruto Uzumaki had passed the genin exam. Despite failing the tests on the previous day. The tests that even Rock Lee had barely scraped by on.
There were some commotion as a few expressed their disbelief of Naruto's presence, however it ended without incident.
Then it became time to be separated into teams.
"So, does anyone have any requests?" Sarutobi asked, mildly curious.
"Uchiha Sasuke." Came Kakashi's deadpan voice.
"Rock Lee!" Came Gai's enthusiastic voice.
"Akimichi Chouji." Asuma nodded.
"Yamanaka Ino." Kurenai added.
The Hokage frowned as he pondered this. Sasuke would be Kakashi's, obviously. Lee would be Gai's equally obviously. But what of the Ino-Shika-Chou trio? Without Ino, it couldn't really be done. That might cause some friction if there wasn't a good reason. Best to make sure there was one available.
"Asuma, Kurenai, explain."
Asuma blinked. "I'd like to make a protection squad." He stated in all seriousness.
That was unusual, and Sarutobi found his eyebrows climbing as he studied his son.
"You wish to create a specialized squad from genin?" He finally asked for clarification.
Asuma nodded. "I have experience in that particular field, and I feel that it would be useful to have such a team. Getting to them at genin is just the logical step."
Grabbing his pipe, the Hokage mulled on this for a moment, before nodding. "Your desire has been noted, and shall be considered." He turned to the kunoichi who'd requested Ino. "And you?" It'd be a lot easier to deal with the three clans if both the teachers had a good reason for splitting them up, after all.
"I wish to make an infiltration squad." Kurenai explained, seemingly uncomfortable with being the center of attention, but dealing with it nonetheless.
"Two specialized squads?" Sarutobi frowned. This wasn't how these things usually went. Normally they just bunched up a couple of brats who might work, and hoped that they wouldn't kill each other before the chunin exams. This sounded an awful lot like a revolution towards the previous system. "Or, am I to believe that you two also wishes to specialize your squads?" He turned to the first two who'd spoken up.
Kakashi tilted his head, apparently considering this.
"Making a 'track and destroy'-team might help in keeping the Uchiha in line." He noted absently.
This was a revolution! Dammit! He was getting too old for these things!
"And you, Gai?" He dreaded the idea of Gai teaching his team how to infiltrate things, if only because of all the spectacular failures their missions would turn into, and the resulting paperwork of such failures. Otherwise, the thought was somewhat amusing.
"If my rival is making a specialized team, then I Maito Gai, shall prove my Youthfulness by also making a specialized team!" He paused as he seemed to think more about what kind of specialization he could help such a squad of genin with, before grinning wildly and doing the Nice Guy pose. "I shall make a combat squad!"
Sarutobi breathed a sigh of relief. That shouldn't give him too much paperwork, and since they'd all taken different fields to study, there was a decent chance of actually making this whole arrangement work. Lovely.
"So, with your specializations in mind, how do you suggest that we divide the remaining genin?" He asked them.
As long as they didn't force him to think too much about all of this, and didn't cause any untold amounts of paperwork, he didn't care even if they turned them all into ballerinas.
"Team 7 will consist of: Uchiha Sasuke, Inuzuka Kiba, and Hyuuga Neji. Your sensei will be Hatake Kakashi." Iruka droned on, ignoring the disappointment of the fangirls as they lost both of their targets.
"Team 8 will consist of: Yamanaka Ino, Nara Shikamaru, and Uzumaki Naruto. Your sensei will be Kurenai Yuuhi." Shikamaru blinked, startled at being separated from his friend, as Ino started screeching like a harpy about being stuck with the lazy-ass and the idiot.
"Team 9 will consist of: Rock Lee, Hyuuga Hinata, and Tenten. Your sensei will be Maito Gai." Iruka continued, ignoring whatever the little brats were shouting across the classroom.
"Team 10 will consist of: Akimichi Chouji, Aburame Shino, and Haruno Sakura. Your sensei will be Sarutobi Asuma." Iruka wrapped up, smiling happily. "I wish you all good luck."
Then Iruka did the brave and noble thing. He turned tail and fled from the frustratingly annoying brats who'd just managed to graduate and that he'd hopefully never be required to teach ever again.
This basically meant that the children were left to their own devices.
Naruto shrugged and went to greet Shikamaru, decisively ignoring Ino in the process. Chouji left Shikamaru to 'introduce' himself to his new teammates. Shikamaru buried his head in his arms and decided to take a nap. Ino screeched even louder.
Shino sat contently where he was, and Chouji joined him, snacking on chips as he did so, and even offering him a taste, as a peace-offering of sorts, but was politely declined. Sakura was fighting against Ino over who could protest the loudest at the unfairness of the world.
Sasuke glared at everyone and everything. Neji glared at everyone and everything, too. Kiba looked vaguely constipated as he looked at this marvelous display of his future teammates wonderful personalities, but was quietly glad to have at least avoided the two screeching fangirls.
Rock Lee was bouncing around, trying to talk to his new teammates with what his future sensei would've declared as 'Youthful enthusiasm'. Tenten was being polite to the excited boy, whilst inviting the shy girl over. Hinata was finding herself remarkably alright with her current team, if still a bit shy to instigate conversation with them.
Basically, there were loud complaints, a few angered glares, some attempts at making friends, and Shikamaru napping – which Naruto found himself quite envious of actually, being able to sleep in all the chaos.
This was the scene that all their new jounin sensei walked in on.
Well, all of them except Kakashi. That guy wouldn't be around for another couple of hours, which would lead his future students to loathe him to a degree that he really wouldn't have guessed at.
Gai happily dragged off his own team before one of the screeching girls turned on him, Youthfully allowing his colleagues deal with their own students.
Kurenai winced inwardly as the blonde girl turned to her, eyes ablaze with indignation. She briefly considered the potential repercussions of simply using a genjutsu on the girl and then dragging her off with the rest of her team. It might save her a bit of work.
"Team 8." She said instead, speaking in a no-nonsense tone above the noise. "Let's go." Then she turned on her heel and marched off.
Damn it all, she should've checked to make sure she didn't get a fangirl on her team. She hated fangirls.
"Team 10." Asuma spoke up in a calm voice that he didn't feel, because he was stuck with a screeching banshee that might make his ears start bleeding if he wasn't careful. In fact, looking into earplugs sounded like a very viable option. "Follow me."
Hopefully the two boys wouldn't give her reason to use her voice too often.
Damn it all, he should've just picked the Ino-Shika-Chou combination, that way he might be able to sneak out of training them in order to relax or something. Like a paid vacation with a few kids that'd follow your orders. It would've been wonderful.
When Kakashi finally deigned to show up, almost three hours later, two of his students were glaring daggers at him, and the third one was actually growling.
He blinked at the image.
What were they so upset about?
Kiba hated his team.
Of all the guys, he had to get the two most arrogant, cold, stuck-up, and in fact down-right hostile prodigies of the entire graduating class. It didn't help matters that they each had a fanclub, and were parts of the two greatest clans of Konoha, even if one of them was its only member.
All of this meant that his team would look down their noses at him continuously. And Kiba really wasn't looking forward to that.
Despite this, he got along rather well with his team.
It was shocking, how much absolute loathing for another human being can bring three people together.
Because whilst Kiba hated his team, there really weren't any good words for just how much he utterly despised their teacher.
So, since they all hated him, and the other two weren't especially used to making use of their vocal cords – the Uchiha apparently believing that 'Hn' was a language – Kiba became a sort of unofficial spokesperson of just what they wanted to say. Of course, whenever he tried saying something that the other members didn't agree with, they'd gang up on him, because they were jerks like that.
Still, Kiba was slowly coming to understand the subtleties of 'Hn', even if he didn't want to, and not even the Hyuuga could bother ranting about Fate like he'd been doing back at the academy. It was just something about Hatake Kakashi that awoke such pure loathing in his students that they didn't seem to have time to hate anyone else.
In fact, the only reason they'd passed the test that the bastard had put them through was their sheer determination to make the guy's life absolute hell before they even considered continuing on with their lives. In other words, nobody cared if they got sent back to the academy without a bell, as long as they got to beat the shit out of Kakashi before they did.
Ino gaped at the blond idiot who'd just demonstrated how you snuck away from ANBU after deliberately provoking them. In an orange jumpsuit.
What the hell? Wasn't this guy the dead-last? How could he sneak away from ANBU?
Ino hadn't been surprised when she'd ended up on Shikamaru's team, though the lack of Chouji had caused her to blink. She was fairly certain that her parents had been pushing the Hokage into making another Ino-Shika-Chou team, so the lack of Chouji had been surprising, if not entirely unwelcome.
She hadn't even been surprised when Shikamaru proved himself to be absolutely brilliant, he was after all a Nara, despite being extremely lazy. And after hearing of the goal with their team as an infiltration squad, she could understand why Chouji hadn't been included. But she'd figured that Naruto had been chosen as some sort of 'filler', that might have the slightest chance of proving useful at some point. But here he was, demonstrating evasion tactics at a level that she doubted anyone else in their class could pull off.
When Kurenai had been explaining their roles, Ino had found herself nodding along. She already had a gossip-network, the idea of managing a spy-network wasn't too farfetched. Shikamaru could make up their plans, he was pretty good at strategy. But the idea of trusting Naruto to get them out of whatever tight spot they'd found themselves in had left Ino feeling distinctly nervous.
You didn't trust your life to someone you didn't think would be able to keep you alive, and Naruto hadn't really given her a lot of confidence in his skill.
But here he was, dodging ANBU, grinning like a loon, and dragging his two teammates along for the ride.
He was, in fact, performing his role perfectly.
And as she realized this, Ino found herself grinning back. This was going to be awesome!
Tenten was very, very pleased that she wasn't the only female member on her team.
This wasn't because of any dislike towards boys, or even a particular fondness for girls, as most she'd met were fangirls. No, this was because as Hinata and Tenten began to bond, they also began forming plans against the Youthfulness.
Tenten liked their teacher. He was skilled, enthusiastic about what he did, and he was always willing to lend a helping hand. But if there was one thing about Gai that she would remember even if she were to go senile before she died, it was the Spandex. That and the Youthfulness.
Suppressing a shiver at the very thought. Tenten remembered how she'd actually been forced to convince Hinata not to give in to the green horror. Apparently the girl was somewhat bad at resisting the flow of enthusiasm from the two spandex clones.
Now, as she'd quickly realized just how fragile the sanity of Konoha truly was, Tenten was determined to step up and defend all of Konoha from the horrible Spandex and the Youthfulness that it radiated.
Still, Hinata was slowly coming out of her shell, Lee was learning to stop trying to get them to join his and their teacher's insanity – or get hurt by sharp pointy objects – and Tenten was beginning to realize that threatening to stab people was really quite a wonderful way to spend the day.
Gai didn't look entirely comfortable whenever she had something pointy and sharp in her hand, for some reason, but he was still happy to teach her what he knew. Which was a lot. So Tenten didn't mind.
Sakura was starting to realize just what it meant to be a ninja.
Not in the way that she now knew how to kill people in thirty different ways, and had learned to suppress all her emotions. No, Sakura was learning of the responsibilities that stemmed from watching over her teammates.
Their teacher had sat her down and explained to her just what would be expected of her in their formation.
Chouji would defend the client. Shino would uncover any attacking enemy. And Sakura was to make sure that nobody on their side got themselves injured or killed.
Her role was reinforcement wherever and whenever it was needed. Her role was what would keep the others on her team alive.
It was a sobering thought.
Asuma had gotten them all to sit down and explain their clan techniques to her. And whilst learning that Chouji could expand himself and needed more meat than what was normal, did certainly help explain why he always eating so much. The thought of someone letting bugs live inside of them gave her the creeps.
She'd apologized to Shino about her reaction, though he'd taken it in stride, and on his request she'd begun to not kill any insects that she laid eyes on. If mostly because she now had an excuse to avoid touching them.
All in all, Sakura found herself being quite alright with training along with the others. She'd even given up on her diet as she'd realized that her new metabolism would just force her lack of nutrition to keep her from getting those curves that she'd always wanted.
Kiba was seriously considering faking developing an allergy for cats.
Once he'd mentioned this in his teammates' presence, he'd actually gotten a few almost sympathetic winces. Apparently, they too were getting quite sick and tired of chasing that damnable cat around every time that it escaped.
Couldn't they just kill the cat and declare war on some really small country that they'd just made up for the purpose of blaming the cat's assassination on them? It wasn't like the daimyo would check, right? And since it was such a small country, nobody would be surprised when Konoha wiped them all out within the week.
Hell, they could probably hold a festival for them winning the 'war', in which everyone could covertly toast to the damnable cat's demise.
When Kiba had mentioned this particular idea, his teammates had looked fascinated to a degree that would've disturbed him, had he not been too busy consciously avoiding frothing at the mouth in rage, for him to notice.
Ino growled as she remembered that Naruto's excuse of practicing on his henge had a far deeper significance.
Most shops wouldn't let him through the door.
She'd originally thought that this was because they were afraid he'd try to prank them, and had started out simply ignoring their glares. Then she'd realized that Naruto would never prank someone whilst on a mission, and had at one point almost stated as much to a man who she'd guessed they would get closely acquainted with since their jounin-sensei rarely took D-Ranks that didn't involve shopping for other people.
In fact, she would've stated it, if Shikamaru hadn't put an elbow into her side when she'd opened her mouth.
Shikamaru had probably guessed that it was more to it than the pranks.
Kurenai seemed to have realized it as well, and Ino had seen the normally calm and kindhearted woman twitch towards kunai whenever someone in the crowd glared at Naruto.
So, Naruto went through most of their shopping whilst henge'd into someone else. Normally he stuck to looking like Kiba, for some reason. Perhaps to make his normal behavior-pattern stick to the person he was portraying.
Regardless, Ino was rapidly closing in on the point where she'd grab someone and get them to answer why they kept glaring at her blond teammate, even if it meant resorting to those actual interrogation techniques that she'd managed to pick up from her dad.
But Shikamaru was apparently annoyed by the mystery as much as she was, and she could totally outlast his curiosity. No way was she going to lose to a lazy bastard like him.
Tenten grunted as she lifted another box.
Sure, it was a quick way to develop a bit of muscle and work on your stamina, but that didn't mean you had to be enthusiastic about it.
Unless you were Lee of course. Lee had to be enthusiastic about everything. It was probably genetic. Tenten was working on a theory to prove that Lee was actually Gai's son, or possibly a nephew or something. The resemblance was too damn near perfect for the two of them not to be related. Hell, the only reason Tenten had given up on her earlier theory of Lee actually being a clone of their sensei had been the realization that Gai actually could use jutsu, he just chose not to as he wanted to prove a point to Lee.
Still, both Hinata and her were slowly inching their way upwards in terms of power thanks to all the damn training their team did, even if they'd never be a match for the spandex-clad duo in close melee.
Tenten's build was more suited for long-range support, and Hinata just generally disliked hurting people and could as such not really motivate herself to master her family techniques. Oh, she tried anyway, and she didn't give up on learning them, she just didn't have the same instinctive inclination towards violence that most ninja would have.
Unless, of course, someone hurt one of her precious people. Apparently, she'd actually landed a hit on Gai after he'd managed to provoke her somehow.
Grumbling at stupid old people who wanted to move things all over the place for no reason, Tenten set down the far too heavy box at its designated place. Then she turned back to the pile of boxes still left to move.
It would be a long day.
Sakura suppressed the urge to giggle as she watched Chouji with the kids they were babysitting.
Shino didn't get along with children, and Sakura didn't get along with children who'd developed speech – but would still gush over any cute babies she encountered.
Chouji, on the other hand, was great with kids. He had what seemed the patience of a saint – probably developed after all his time hanging around Shikamaru – and a comforting kindness to him that made the kids latch onto him for seemingly merely existing in their presence.
She was really really glad that he was on her team. This way she was allowed to stay away, despite being the 'only female' on the team. Damn chauvinistic pigs who thought you were good with the small monsters just because you had double X chromosomes.
Still, she was getting quite sick of babysitting. They'd done a few other things, but babysitting seemed to be the one thing they kept returning to. Something about it being good experience when dealing with their future clients as a protection squad.
Hopefully, Asuma-sensei would let them go on C-Ranked missions soon.
Kiba was just working up the nerve to stage Tora's assassination when Kakashi declared that they'd be doing a C-Rank next.
The Hokage wasn't sure why he'd suddenly felt both relieved and disappointed, but shrugged his shoulders and returned to his paperwork.
As team 7 were informed of the mission, which apparently consisted of checking in on a merchant caravan that hadn't shown up at its designated time, the three genin all fought down smiles.
Their mission was to make certain that the caravan hadn't been attacked by bandits, and that it'd merely been delayed by weather or bad roads. If, however, there truly had been a bandit-attack, their mission didn't include hunting down said bandits, but rather finding any survivors and possibly valuables before returning to Konoha. Though in the event of a hostage situation, they were given the choice of engaging the bandits in question in order to rescue the hostage.
The odds of it actually being a bandit attack were pretty damn low, but Kakashi figured that it'd be funnier for his students to find out that on their own. Their disappointment would be priceless.
Ino had had it. And apparently Shikamaru agreed with her.
However, when they finally cornered Naruto in an attempt to find out just why the entire village seemed to hate him, he'd shifted somehow.
Naruto was normally a very easy-going kind of guy. He smiled a lot, he joked more, he was nice to people who were glaring at him for no reason, he would help people out if he thought they needed it. But the Naruto that stood in front of them at that particular moment wasn't smiling, wasn't joking, and looked far more like a cornered animal than anything else.
Still, they'd gotten this far, and neither of them could truly let this affront against their teammate slide without a cause, so they'd asked him the question he'd seemed to know would be coming.
And he'd deflated. And then he'd begun by explaining that his birth was on the unluckiest of days, before asking them how the Yondaime had defeated the Kyuubi.
When none of them could actually come up with a suitable answer, other than Shikamaru's previous theory on it being a state-secret due to the power of the attack, Naruto explained that the bijuu couldn't be killed. But they could be sealed.
Then he'd pulled up his shirt and shown them a very intricate tattoo on his belly.
"I'm the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi."
Ino stared at him for a long moment, too stunned to remember that she was supposed to be blinking. Shikamaru had closed his eyes as he considered this new information about their teammate.
"How long have you known?" Shikamaru finally asked.
Naruto blinked, surprised by the question. "Since graduation." He responded bluntly.
"There's a law regarding this, isn't there?" Shikamaru continued his questioning.
"It's an S-class secret. None of our generation is supposed to know. They call it the Third's Law." Naruto nodded carefully, still confused about something.
The lazy boy nodded, apparently content with this information.
Ino blinked, finally letting all this information click inside of her head. Finally realizing why Naruto was looking so uncomfortable.
Almost everyone that knew of the Kyuubi, hated him. He'd just told people who didn't know, and now he was expecting them to hate him too.
It was... actually enough to make her seriously consider killing someone.
Of course, Naruto might take that the wrong way, so she settled for attempting to alleviate the lonely boy's fears.
Kurenai arrived with their first C-Rank mission – to deliver a simple message outside of Konoha – to the scene of Ino hugging Naruto, Naruto trying to keep himself from crying, and Shikamaru patting the blond comfortingly on the shoulder.
It was all very confusing.
Tenten had inquired as to when they'd be getting a C-Rank, but Gai had simply beamed a smile at her before ranting on about Youthfulness.
Tenten believed that the earplugs were possibly her single most amazing purchase of all time. She'd never use them on a mission, of course, but during training they were absolutely invaluable.
Hinata had also added sunglasses to her list of anti-Youth appliances, as apparently the sparkling teeth and the hugs were more painful than usual for someone with the Byakugan. As an interesting side-effect, the shy girl's stuttering seemed to diminish once she wore them.
Tenten had considered joining her with the sunglasses, but they'd be too much in the way, whilst for Hinata they were of no relevance once she got serious and activated her bloodline. Which she'd learn to only do when sparring, and to make absolutely certain that it deactivated whenever Lee and Gai started shouting each other's names.
There were some things that regular people just weren't meant to see.
Sakura beamed proudly at the thought of finally being good enough to get to go on a C-Rank.
Unfortunately, the smile slipped once she found exactly who they were guarding.
Apparently, the drunk old bridge-builder was traveling back to Wave Country.
Shino was stoic, Chouji was patient, Sakura kept her growls of being looked down upon very quiet. If her teammates could do it, so could she.
Asuma seemed quite pleased with how none of them had blown up in their client's face, but didn't seem surprised by it, which was reassuring. He believed in their ability to resist provocation.
"My Youthful students!" Gai exclaimed as he'd gathered them up for an emergency meeting. "A fellow ninja has asked for assistance after being ambushed by missing-nin and we shall answer their call! This is a dangerous mission, and technically above C-Rank, but the Hokage has decided that our Youthfulness would be most helpful in their aid!"
Tenten blinked. Her first big mission would be above C-Rank. That could be both good and bad. Hopefully more good than bad though.
Asuma had barely made it.
That was a sobering thought. Their sensei, a jounin, son of the Third himself, had barely managed to defeat Zabuza.
And then they'd realized that the hunting-nin was an accomplice.
By the time this had passed through all their heads, Sakura hugged Chouji tightly enough that the boy actually had to pry her off of him in order to breathe. The idea of calling for backup immediately after they'd first been attacked by the Demon Brothers just made her that grateful.
Had he been Sasuke, she would've probably attempted to kiss him, but he was Chouji and she couldn't really imagine kissing Chouji. Not because Chouji was ugly or lazy or whatever, but more because he was quite firmly in the 'friend zone', and he seemed happy with that.
Still, by the time their backup finally showed up, Sakura wondered if perhaps she shouldn't have overreacted.
Two of them were wearing spandex in a horror show of doom. One was wearing sunglasses, that matched Shino's actually, even if they looked a bit odd on her. And the final one was fingering her weapons pouch as if she was trying to remind herself not to use them against someone, but was continuously tempted to do so.
The last one actually looked like the most competent of the bunch, which was saying something.
Kiba hated C-Rank missions almost as much as he hated D-Rank missions.
Reason number one. By the time they'd made it to the mountainous parts where they might find the caravan for which they were looking, it was raining. Hard. The road had turned into a river of mud, making Kiba very suspicious of the idea of bandits being involved in the caravan's delay, whilst at the same time making him horribly miserable from the crappy weather.
Reason number two. Kakashi seemed to have waterproofed his book, and from the way he was smiling cheerfully at their misery, the bastard had known this.
Reason number three. He was still on a team with frigid bastard number one and two. This was important because he'd never been forced to sleep around them before, and his hatred for them was reaching new heights with every mumbled 'fate' or 'vengeance' that slipped past their lips.
Reason number four. He didn't mind sleeping outside, it was something any Inuzuka worth their salt could at the very least deal with, but sleeping outside in the mud, whilst the rain was coming down hard, and with their teacher chiding them whenever they attempted to build a camp of any sort with words such as 'waste of time and energy' or 'good time to get used to it', was a bit too much for Kiba to handle without risking snapping at someone.
Literally, Sasuke had spent quite a few hours glaring at him for almost biting his hand off when the Uchiha had tried to wake him up from his fretful sleep.
God but he hated his team.
Ino suppressed the smirk twitching at her lips as she watched Naruto bounce around them, trying to take in everything at once. This was the blond's first time outside of the Village, and he was making the most of it.
Shikamaru looked like he was getting tired just from watching his hyperactive teammate, and was apparently trying to figure out a way to continue their missions without opening his eyes. Considering how his eyes were still open, he wasn't making a lot of progress.
Ino briefly wondered if the Nara would ever actually wake up if he one day found a way to do his missions in his sleep. She found it unlikely, at best. The guy was beyond lazy.
Still, Naruto's cheerfulness was contagious, though perhaps bittersweet, she reflected as he kept glancing back to them, his smile always widening in awed disbelief at the sight.
They accepted him. They knew of the Kyuubi, his darkest secret, and they accepted him anyway.
To Naruto, he could've been locked in a basement and told that he wouldn't see the sun for a dozen years, and he still would've had difficulties with not smiling for the first week. The relief that sparkled beneath the surface would've been heartbreaking had he not been so happy.
She wondered how many others would've followed his path. To follow the path of the cheerful martyr, the easy-going scapegoat of another's evils.
It painted a disturbing picture, actually, and she would most likely try to suppress it later. But for now, she felt that she needed to understand her teammates quirks and habits. She'd berate him for them later, she'd make him better them later, but first she wanted to understand how they'd come to be.
Because what fantastic set of events could've created someone as kind, happy, and yet mischievous as Naruto? He hadn't had parents to guide the way, the only role-models he could locate were busy with their own duties. Had anyone even named a bedtime for him, or a curfew? It was fascinating to see, now that she'd started looking, just how he'd managed to pick up on things without anyone there to teach him of it.
Did he even know how to read and write? She couldn't imagine it having been neglected, but she'd never actually seen him read anything, though again that could be due to his inability to sit still for more than a minute.
He was Shikamaru's opposite in that, and perhaps it stemmed from not finding anywhere where he'd felt safe enough to just relax.
Analyzing Naruto was both confusing and horrifying. Confusing because she didn't have a clue what made him act the way he did. And horrifying because her imagination kept filling in the blanks in the most morbid of ways.
Still, she paid attention to him, and if he was a cat, Ino was fairly certain that he would've purred happily whenever he noticed that her eyes still followed him.
Not that she was listening to a word he'd said. She'd learned to tune that out hours ago.
Tenten wasn't sure of how she felt when she realized that their current mission seemed to lean more towards a field-trip to see how jounin dealt with an A-Rank, and less towards an actual mission for them.
Their duty, all six of them, was to keep Tazuna and his family safe. Their teachers' mission was to erase any serious interference that Gato sent their way.
This basically meant that they might get to fight bandits at some point, but that it was more likely that they'd stand next to the old man and perhaps catch a glimpse of how true ninja fought.
Sure, it would most likely be very educational, and Tenten really didn't feel like fighting against a potential jounin-leveled enemy. But that didn't mean that she wasn't childishly disappointed with not being part of the action.
Also, the lack of earplugs – as this was still very much a real mission – was seriously making itself known to her as she tried her best to stay as far away from the spandex-duo's... Youth.
The other team looked just as uncomfortable as she and Hinata did, but they'd managed to keep their retinas from getting too scarred by one of the 'manly hugs' and the weird optical illusion that followed. Tenten had long since given up on trying to make sense of those two and how the world worked in their presence, the closest thing she came to a belief was that the world was so disturbed by the image that it looked the other way whenever it happened, allowing them to do whatever they wanted for a brief span of time.
It would actually explain a lot.
Kiba stared at the caravan.
A part of him was happy that they'd found them. That meant they wouldn't be forced to search for them. That was good, because he was fairly sure that that would've been his job.
A part of him was disappointed, because this meant that he wouldn't get to kill something. He really really wanted to kill something.
A part of him was hesitant, because there was no way that he could be lucky enough to let them go home now that they'd found them.
"Ah, good, we'll be escorting them back to Konoha." Kakashi stated cheerfully before wandering off, his nose deep in his book.
Sasuke's face twitched, Neji clenched his fists, Kiba came an inch away from howling in anger, settling instead for a growl of pure loathing, whilst Akamaru whined pitifully.
At the pace these civilians moved, they'd be lucky to get home within the week, and the weather really wasn't looking up.
Kiba nodded to himself. "When I snap, I'm going to kill him first."
His teammates hummed their agreement.
Ino grinned evilly as she kept Naruto from running away by an iron grip on his arm.
She wasn't sure if the orange jumpsuit was a personal preference, or simply all he could get his hands on, but she wouldn't stand for it. And with Konoha being questionable in their service of the boy, it was simply common sense for them to do the shopping whilst they were still out of the village.
Kurenai had seemed amused by this prospect, Shikamaru had muttered 'troublesome' and taken a nap, and Naruto had been trying his hardest in order to escape.
Ino briefly wondered if she was a sadist at heart, or if it was the thought of playing dress-up with a reasonably attractive person that was causing the cheerful butterflies in her stomach.
Sakura groaned pitifully as she continued carrying material for the bridge. The genin had all been stuck with trying to help working on the bridge at some point.
Chouji didn't seem bothered by it, having more than enough physical strength and stamina to continue carrying around all the heavy things that was apparently needed. Shino seemed unused to it, but did quite well too. Hinata was a bit above Sakura on the strength scale, and somewhat used to moving boxes from their team's D-Ranks. Tenten was on Shino's level, but more comfortable with it. And Lee was... well, Lee.
"Oh! How Youthful Lee!" Gai beamed down at his student who was running all over the place, carrying as much as Chouji, but moving at a ludicrous speed.
Sakura was seriously starting to pity the two girls that were on his team.
Kiba tried to ignore the overpowering stench of alcohol from the woman next to him.
Their team was wading through the mud, helping people along, pushing carriages, and just generally trying to get them to move faster than they currently were.
It was still raining, and the caravan wouldn't share any of its raincoats, despite having spares. Quite a few of them also refused to help pushing the carriages, instead actually sitting down on the carriages the genin were trying to dislodge from the mud, stating that this was their job.
Some of them also got really drunk.
There were children in the caravan too, but Kiba was willing to bet that they were actually evil banshees from how they continued to scream at each other. Though, considering how their mother screamed right back at them, it was possible that it was merely genetic.
The drunk woman on the carriage threw up over the side.
On Kiba. Who'd been walking next to her.
Right. Don't kill. Don't kill. Don't kill.
With a growl of frustration, misery and absolute rage, Kiba charged.
He was tackled into the mud. Which thankfully helped numb the smell of the woman's digestive system.
As he began struggling against his attacker, Neji began shutting down his tenketsu with extreme prejudice.
Kiba got the feeling that his teammate could sympathize and wasn't so much defending their clients as he was taking out his frustrations on Kiba.
Kiba didn't approve, but he couldn't truly blame him either.
This was all Kakashi's fault.
It was odd how, despite the differencing times at which they left, all four rookie genin teams arrived back at Konoha at the same time.
Sakura was fussing over a somewhat battered Chouji as Shino stood vigilant, leaving Asuma to smile proudly at their teamwork.
Hinata was chatting away with Tenten about something whilst Lee ran elated circles around them, leaving Gai to rant about Youthfulness.
Naruto was pulling at his new clothes like a little child dressed for an important event with Ino clearly enjoying herself at his side and Shikamaru moving along like a sleep-walker, leaving Kurenai to look both exasperated and amused.
And then came Team 7, the genin under Hatake Kakashi, who unlike the rest of them arrived at the gates with the caravan they'd been sent out to find.
Sasuke was covered in mud, his eyes staring straight ahead with a glazed numbness that spoke of both mental and physical exhaustion. Neji's mouth kept opening and closing, like a fish on dry land, and his ebony hair was caked with dried mud in a way that severely defied gravity. Akamaru was being carried, tied to Sasuke's backpack in the same manner as a rolled up blanket, but didn't seem ready to object to this. And the mud-drenched Kiba was being dragged along on the ground on a stretcher by his teammates, the ropes holding him steady making it difficult for him to move enough to even raise an eyebrow, and curses bold enough to make Anko blush still flowing freely from his tongue, aimed at all those nearby. Kakashi was reading his book, and looking perfectly pristine.
Needless to say, everyone else stared.
The Hokage briefly wondered if it'd really been a good idea to force Kakashi to take on a genin team. It seemed like this would definitely cause a lot more paperwork than he'd been hoping.
Maybe he should look into naming a successor and returning to retirement? As in, before Kakashi had the time to file his report.
Sakura had been useless.
She'd expected as much, when they'd told her of their enemies' level, but that didn't make it any less of a bitter pill to swallow.
Chouji had gotten hurt, and if Asuma hadn't been there to stop it, he would've probably died. Reinforcement was her job, and she'd been useless.
She needed to be faster, stronger, better. Because she didn't want to ever feel that kind of guilt again.
Kiba had considered resigning from the ninja force. Then he'd remembered that Inuzuka was a ninja clan and that his mother wouldn't look kindly on his resignation.
No, Kiba wouldn't resign. Kiba would be a ninja. But it wasn't because of fear for his mother as much as it was that he refused to let Kakashi win.
It didn't matter if he was tossed into hell on earth a hundred times, he'd get back up. It didn't matter if an enemy crippled him, he'd get back up.
Because the moment he stayed down and just took it, Kakashi won.
And he would never let that happen.
Ino grumbled a few curses at her parents' idea of romance. What kind of parents ran off on a second honeymoon the moment their daughter spent a few nights outside the Village?
Damn blonde idiots.
Ino carefully ignored how she was insulting the hair color of those whose hair she'd inherited.
Still, they were supposed to be gone for another week or so, and Ino really didn't feel like staying home when it was empty. It just felt way too eerie. No, better then to crash at a friend's place.
Unfortunately, Shikamaru would shut the door in her face without even letting her ask a question – the bastard didn't want to deal with troublesome things on his time off – Sakura hadn't really been an option for years, Chouji's home always creeped her out, and the idea of crashing at a virtual stranger's house just didn't come close to being appealing.
Which was why she was currently standing outside an apartment.
She wondered briefly if this was the beginning of one of those silly love-comedies that Sakura had been so obsessed with, way back in the day, because the situation seemed oddly familiar.
Shrugging her shoulders, Ino knocked on the door.
Her response was the sound of something crashing, someone yelling in pain, a wide variety of curses, what sounded a bit like kunai impacting wood, another loud crash, loud pleadings for mercy, and silence.
Ino stared with wide eyes at the door.
What the hell?
Finally, the door opened, revealing a Naruto who was bleeding slightly from a cut on his forehead and was covered in dust.
"Ino? What are you doing here?" He asked as he tried to hide himself behind the door.
Ino raised an eyebrow at this action, wondering just what the blond prankster was up to.
"My parents decided to go on a second honeymoon, and the house when it's empty is creepy, so could I stay here for a week?" She asked, getting it out in the open from the get-go.
Naruto stared at her for a moment, confused, before realization dawned on him. Then he blushed, fidgeted, and cleared his throat as he searched for words.
"Umm, could you wait one moment? Awesome." Then he shut the door in her face.
Ino's eye twitched.
A loud crash came from the other side of the door, curses, yelling, cries of agony, more crashes, the sound of breaking glass, shouting, clashing steel, and finally deranged laughter.
Ino wondered if it was too late to force her way into Shikamaru's house. She could totally do that, she was a ninja after all, no ninja would be defeated by a simple door, no matter how much it'd been reinforced over the years tin order to keep it from breaking underneath the knocking of any particularly enthusiastic Akimichi.
Naruto appeared in the doorway again, the blood on his brow wiped away, but his clothes looking more torn, and he was breathing heavily.
"Ino." He stated calmly. "You're welcome to forever stay in my home, as long as you know how to get a raccoon out of your kitchen."
"... A raccoon?"
"The bastard has been raiding my fridge for years." He spat out. "I want it gone."
Ino couldn't help it. She started to laugh.
"Report." The Hokage ordered calmly to the four jounin present.
It was simply common sense that he'd be asking just how the new genin were fairing in their teams and under their teachers, especially since they were apparently trying to revolutionize the system. Damn whippersnappers.
"Team 7 have come a long way with their teamwork." Kakashi started with a smile. "They've already shown themselves capable of stopping each other from making mistakes that they would later come to regret."
"Is this why young Kiba was hospitalized with his tenketsu closed upon arrival?" The Hokage asked with a raised eyebrow.
"That is correct." Kakashi said, his smile becoming wider. "I'm very pleased with their progress."
Most present realized at this point that they were infinitely happy that Kakashi had never been their teacher, because if he thought having absolute loathing directed his way in tandem by all his students at once was teamwork... well, it didn't sound like training under him would be any fun.
Ignoring the weird, but oddly workable peculiarities in Team 7, Kurenai took the scene.
"Team 8 is growing closer. Naruto has revealed his... tenant, to his teammates. They reacted well to it, though Ino seems to have become somewhat protective of him." She reported calmly. "They still have a long way to go, and their teamwork isn't always the best. But they're getting there."
The Hokage nodded, pleased to hear good news from Naruto's team.
"Team 9 is filled with Youthfulness!" Gai started his rant. "Their flowers of Youth are blossoming with beautiful enthusiasm!"
"That is good." The Hokage hurriedly interrupted the spandex-clad man's speech before he could build himself up into true Youthful Rant Mode. Nobody wanted to experience that. "And Team 10, Asuma?"
"Sakura seems to have truly understood the dangers that comes with the job, and they're all working hard. I couldn't ask for a more professional team." Asuma said with a small, proud smile.
The Third nodded solemnly. It seemed as if this damnable revolution would be taking off well. Hell if he was going to be forced to actually do this again with the next graduation, he needed to find his successor. Fast.
A/n: Okay, so I've read like a hundred stories of Naruto ending up on a 'better' team, but they never seem to really mix up the team selection, which meant that I ended up having to write a story featuring that myself. Here is the result.
Also note that I'm a big fan of JellyfishBlues' Subject 014 and that Team 7 might've been slightly infected from the awesomeness of that fic.