This is my first attempt at making an actually serious Naruto fic, doods, so it might fail spectacularly and blow up on my face. Regardless, I'd rather you all at least have a fun read and don't worry, if you're a fan of any of my other projects, I don't abandon fics, even if it takes me a few months to update them since I write on the rule of fun.

An explanation that details the AU can be found at the bottom, since I couldn't fit it in here.

I doubt this fic will be very long in terms of chapters, so at the very least, if I waste your time it won't be much of it, so, do give it a read and tell me what'cha think.

As for the implications of yaoi? Well, it's up to interpretation, just like in canon.

Sasuke was a budding Taijutsu genius.

His body adapted faster and grew stronger. He was fast both to learn and to move. Even without his Sharingan, he was capable of remembering a variety of stances and movements that he incorporated into the structured Uchiha Interceptor style to counter the need for the Sharingan. Something he had learned from his brother, nine times out of ten, if you can trick a Sharingan you can defeat its owner.

The interceptor style, without knowing exactly where an attack came from was useless, so Sasuke learned from his brother a variety of moves he himself picked up from his ANBU team and from his other comrades.

His talent in Taijutsu quickly impressed his elder brother, even if his ninjutsu left something to be desired from his father. He had taken far, far too long to master the Goukakyuu, which had been something that drove a divide between him and his family until his brother figured out that he simply didn't have talent for the Uchiha's prized fire jutsu gallery. Just about anything else came easy to Sasuke, particularly Raiton, even if he wasn't up to Itachi's level, or even close.

Genjutsu he suffered from both a lack of interest and of talent, but it was okay, as long as he could detect and break Genjutsu, he could wait until his Sharingan took care of actively casting the Genjutsu in the first place. It was leaning on a crutch, but even Itachi admitted that having a weapon and not using it is quite dumb.

Because Sasuke was overall the best student in the class with by far the best grades in Taijutsu of the entire class, there was something that he hadn't expected.

He had been defeated in a spar. Very easily, even.

And there wasn't anything to say about it. He never went easy on anyone, because to him it was an insult to downplay one's abilities, but even so, when he'd been pitted against the dead last, who had barely passing grades in all categories and was even two years younger (how the hell the boy managed to not be booted back to his proper grade was something that Sasuke would never know, must be a paperwork mishap)…

The boy was so tiny, so thin and so pathetic that Sasuke couldn't help but underestimate him. So when he went for a quick win, he found himself on the floor, with a foot on his chest that drove the air away from his lungs. The blond boy didn't say a word, he just turned around and walked away after countering Sasuke's simple straight to the face and defeating him with only one move.

An eight year old boy who should have been in his first year of the academy, who was nearly failing every class, had just completely curbstomped the Rookie Of The Year without even trying.

Sasuke took a deep breath and tried to ignore his swimming vision. He had seen it all. When Sasuke's fist neared the boy's face, he'd grabbed it and used the Uchiha's own momentum to throw him to the ground, before stomping on his chest only once.

A simple, delightfully basic counterattack, executed to perfection.

He shook and cleared his head, finding the tanned, frowning face of Umino Iruka, contorted with concern, looking him over. "I'm fine." Sasuke announced, taking in much needed breath. His chest hurt, it'd probably bruise.

Sasuke could hear the screeching of his fangirls, the ones he'd collected over the years of being the best at everything, some of them screaming at the blond who'd wordlessly stuck his head in a book without seeming to hear them and the rest questioning him on his health and safety.

The curse of all Uchiha, the Fangirls, were going to drive him absolutely nuts, so he tuned them out in favor of focusing his attention on the boy who was even now ignoring everything around him.

Then he decided. The dead last had completely surpassed him in what was his best subject. Therefore, in order to prove he was worthy of being called a Taijutsu Genius, he'd defeat him. And the best way to defeat an opponent is to learn about them, how their techniques work, and how to counter them.

It was at that point that Uchiha Sasuke, rookie of the year, had chosen the dead last as his rival.

Half lidded, sapphire blue eyes ran from word to word, not missing a single one. There was absolutely no doubt in Umino Iruka's mind that the boy was paying just about no attention to his lecture, and he did not know what to do about said fact.

The Sandaime Hokage had made it very clear than any and all attempts at sabotaging his education would be met with force. The Shinobi History teacher had learned this firsthand when he'd tried to kick Naruto out of his classes. The Hokage kept a very close eye on the village's jinchuuriki and he did NOT tolerate bias against him. Not to mention, the god of Shinobi delivered the punishments himself.

People did not have the balls to even correct the boy when he was doing something wrong, such as paying more attention to the orange-covered, unlabeled books he seemed to carry around everywhere than to the teacher that was attempting to educate him into becoming a halfway decent Shinobi.

It took a full minute of internal debate while his body continued to go through the lesson on auto pilot before he finally decided that, jinchuuriki or not, Hokage's favorite or not, the boy was nonetheless one of his students and Iruka prided himself in being a fair and unbiased teacher. "Uzumaki-san, if you do not pay attention to the lecture, I will have to ask you to remain after class to make up for the time you miss." Iruka called, more than a bit of irritation to his voice.

The boy said nothing, as usual, merely slammed his book shut and settled it, carefully, against his desk, turning his gaze to the chalkboard and then, to Iruka. The tanned teacher allowed himself a smirk at the sight.

Uzumaki was a problem boy, rarely, if ever, doing anything the teachers commanded him to do, or so the gossip went, so seeing him obey a command like this was a point of pride to Iruka. At the very least, Uzumaki respected him enough to.

When he turned back to the chalkboard, however, his hand snapped behind the back of his head and blocked a small piece of chalk, most likely pilfered at some point from one of the teachers. He was not a Shinobi for nothing, so Iruka quickly turned around. His gaze locked onto where Uzumaki was, still sitting with a bored look on his face.

"It was Uzumaki, sensei! I saw him!" A brown haired boy spoke, pointing at the blond and grinning widely. There were nods from several of his classmates, causing Iruka to frown and stare at Uzumaki, who said nothing to defend himself.

He never did say anything to defend himself, and seemed to accept his status as a troublemaker… Iruka didn't know why. Maybe he just liked the attention? It was a possibility. The boy was usually so silent, calm and quiet that it was easy to miss him. Even in the glaringly orange jumpsuit, the boy somehow managed to be a stealth expert on par with trained ANBU when he wanted to be.

After all, the boy had once slipped in two hours late to a lesson and nobody had noticed he was there until the Taijutsu lessons.

"It wasn't him." A voice far too solemn to be coming from a child cut over the people agreeing with the brown haired boy who'd accused Naruto in the first place. The voice of the Uchiha, all of them, often carried that calm and authoritative quality to it that made others listen to them.

Iruka supposed that that was why they were one of the most important clans of Konohagakure, besides them being the one remaining founding clan. Iruka smiled. "Uchiha-san?" He prodded, turning to the black haired second in line to the Uchiha Clan.

The boy clasped his hands in front of his face. "It was Mutou."

Of course Iruka had known it had been the brown haired boy himself the whole time. To think that the boy that still had chalk in his hands thought he could hide his actions from a chunin was outright ludicrous. The tanned teacher merely smiled because he saw someone sticking up for the eight year old boy who seemed to be the target of bullies everywhere he went.

"Mutou-san, you will remain after class and will have to write an essay about why it is a terrible idea to lie to a chunin unless you're absolutely certain you can get away with it." Iruka said, looking his most disappointed to the entire class.

The Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, looked on none too impressed at the staff of the academy. Last year, their work hadn't been particularly impressive, considering that the genin that had passed their jounin sensei's test, all twelve of them, were rather pathetic and the rookie and Kunoichi of the year had both been forced to fail thanks to the old tradition of putting them in a team together with the dead last, who was so far away from a competent ninja that it wasn't even funny.

This was a problem that cropped up from following tradition. When Sarutobi first took Jiraiya along with Tsunade and Orochimaru, he'd done so because Jiraiya had had as much, if not even more, raw talent than the other two put together and he'd been proven right when Jiraiya had become the glue of the team.

The decline of the quality of the genin had caused him to actually pay close attention to the teachers and how they performed their duties which had resulted in firing four teachers who'd probably get discharged as Shinobi altogether. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to put the people who are being denied promotion to work as teachers? Touji Mizuki had been found out as a traitor not too long ago, and had had a full two years to sabotage his classes, and the other three were just outright incompetent.

Regardless, he let himself smile when he saw Iruka's report on his favorite student's near spotless disciplinary record this year. Iruka had flat out pointed out how the boy almost always ended up as a scapegoat for his classmates' idiocy, and given his uncaring attitude, he never did anything to defend himself, either.

Iruka had actually told the Uzumaki to pay attention and, lo and behold, Uzumaki did, eyes never straying away from wherever the teacher intended them to be, even if they appeared as unconcerned and uncaring as ever, Iruka had noticed a marked improvement in Uzumaki's overall grades when he paid attention to class. As well as a sky-rocket of his Taijutsu grades after they started to grade based on actual fighting proficiency instead of theoretical knowledge and the ability to execute the kata the teacher instructed.

Granted, it required telling him to stop reading the goddamn book once every hour or so, but hey, it was progress.

Sasuke was not often seen after class hanging around the town. As the Uchiha Heir, he was a juicy target for just about anyone, so usually you'd see him training in his clan's compound. Today, however, he had found himself in dire need of wandering around town randomly, the exact reason being that he was unnaturally bored.

Itachi was out god knows where doing god knows what, his father was busy running the MP and his mother had her own genin team to take care of.

Plus, his mission to learn about how Uzumaki had gotten so outstandingly strong.

He had never seen Uzumaki exert himself. When they were made to run, Uzumaki didn't even have to control his breath, he just ran at a steady pace from beginning to end, often without even lifting his head from his book. When they were made to spar, whoever ended up sparring with Uzumaki would often have their world turned upside down without ever so much as touching him.

Only on this year would they actually start getting taught the control and manipulation of chakra, apparently the first few years were weeding out those who could definitely not be ninja while the last two were supposed to actually train one into harnessing the power of their chakra. Made sense to not train the dropouts in the use of a shinobi's most versatile tool.

So whatever it was, it wasn't chakra. It wasn't natural physical ability, as Uzumaki was rightfully the smallest member of the class, being two years younger than everyone else and even then rather small for a child of nine.

Sasuke did not expect to get an answer to his many questions when he wandered through the training grounds (often people went to watch some of the more showy Shinobi training, provided some entertainment, while Sasuke often went to steal techniques he might use in his own training if any proved interesting enough), but he did. In a lone training ground, designed for physical practice, he noticed a familiar blob of orange and yellow.

After the summer, Uzumaki's hair had gotten slightly longer, and he was certain that if it wasn't as spiky as it was the bangs sticking from above his headband would fall onto his eyes. The blond had probably added it to simulate a forehead protector or, more likely, to block the hair from bothering him.

Sasuke's eyes were fixated on Uzumaki's tiny fists hitting the wood of a training post. Mostly because every time they did, the red stain underneath the post seemed to get a tiny bit bigger, while there was an indentation shaped like a pair of tiny fists that was also colored red in the post itself.

To say that the Uchiha was transfixed by the display would have been an understatement, and then he knew. He knew why Uzumaki was as good at actual Taijutsu as he was. Whereas Sasuke banked on his natural talent and ability to remain far ahead of the curb, Uzumaki trained and built upon his own innate talent.

Sasuke sat on the wall that divided the rather small and untidy training site from the park it was close to and simply watched Uzumaki unload punch after punch after punch, often delivering upwards of a hundred strikes in one form only to switch to his legs and then back. Had he not stared intently at his legs, he might not have noticed the red liquid running down the boy's sandals.

He winced upon seeing the mutilated state of the boy's feet, once tanned skin in a combination of bruise-purples and blood red.

It wasn't until after an hour of continued training, that Sasuke observed, that Uzumaki actually began to slow down, the intervals of movements becoming shorter and more varied as he had to switch between his limbs faster and faster, lest one become exhausted.

Impressed as he was, Sasuke didn't miss the fact that the heat had forced Uzumaki to discard his orange jacket, revealing a perhaps once plain white shirt that now resembled a collection of holes more closely than a piece of clothes. Since the shirt was short sleeved, it let Sasuke appreciate just how truly thin Uzumaki's arms were. He was certain that he could grab both of his arms with one hand without problem.

They were also covered in white bandages stained with both blood and sweat. The holes in the shirt's torso also let Sasuke observe the fact that Uzumaki's entire body, not just his arms, was covered in bandages.

In the end, however, he couldn't just stay and watch there forever… so he decided he might as well begin his own training to catch up. The best way to catch up to someone who trains harder than you is to train as hard as, or harder, than that person, and the training grounds were easily big enough for both of them.

Uzumaki didn't even spare him a glance as Sasuke began to get rid of his own stress by utilizing the facilities of the training ground to exercise his muscles. Uzumaki was lost into his own training, it seemed, and from the complicated combo that he seemed to be executing on the training dummy (that involved several movements that would have made most non-ninja males wince), Sasuke understood why.

Sasuke, however, wasn't lost to his training and was, as a matter of fact, was acutely aware of everything that happened around him. He blamed it on his brother's awareness training (involving throwing senbon at him whenever Sasuke lost track of his surroundings), but it allowed him to hear something that most people would've missed in the chaotic mess of sounds that accompanied ninja training.

There was a crack. A short, almost silent gasp, and then a thud.

Sasuke turned around to see Uzumaki on the floor, probably after a complicated maneuver that had gone wrong the moment the training dummy had been snapped in half and, given the torn look of the orange pant leg that still clung to Uzumaki's blood and sweat soaked skin, had broken into splinters and dug into the small boy's skin.

Sasuke had to commend Uzumaki's stoic demeanor at not cracking, even under the no doubt huge pain he must have felt at the time. In fact, Uzumaki didn't even seem to hesitate as he began to rip the larger bits of wood from his leg without a care in the world and when his hand came down upon his leg, Sasuke noticed that the boy's hand was also covered in splinters.

He sighed and remembered a time when his own elder brother had explained to him that pulling anything imbedded into your body carelessly can do more damage than what it did going in. Fugaku had corroborated this, explaining to Sasuke that all police officers knew the basics of field first aid and Sasuke himself would be no exception.

"You'll only hurt yourself if you pull them out like that." Sasuke said, though Uzumaki didn't seem to care particularly and only gave him a stare that carried only the slightest hint of confusion. Sasuke had a hard time reading it, but still, he sighed and walked up to the still sitting blond, ignoring his intent gaze and kneeling in front of the wounded leg, inspecting the splinters lodged in it. "You should probably go to the hospital… your leg looks pretty badly beaten…" He said, after taking a moment to look at the horribly bruised lump of flesh that might have once been someone's shin.

Uzumaki merely shook his head and went back to pulling the splinters out without consideration for his own well being.

Sasuke grabbed his hand at the wrist. "You're doing this wrong. You will only hurt yourself. Let me do it." He didn't know what had possessed him to even close the distance between them. He supposed he was just still in awe and feeling respect towards the one who trained his body even after the point where even the most determined of men would have stopped.

The blond didn't do or say anything other than lower his hand. Sasuke took it as his cue and went back to work on Uzumaki's leg with a concentrated frown.

Maybe it had been the afternoon he spent tending to his wounds. Maybe it was the fact that he'd gotten stabbed by his own fair share of splinters that day. Maybe it was the simple fact that Uzumaki was the only sparring partner who Sasuke could not easily defeat.

Whatever it was, Sasuke had found out that Uzumaki did not ignore him as he ignored everyone else in the class. This meant that the blond had as much respect for him as he had for the teachers and , contrary to popular opinion, Uzumaki seemed to have a high opinion of the academy's staff, particularly one Umino Iruka.

The mere fact that he listened to what they said and looked at them at all spoke volumes, given that Uzumaki still had the nasty habit of focusing on whatever book it was that he'd gotten in his hands when anyone else spoke. Whenever one of their classmates would speak to Uzumaki, the blond would just continue reading.

The fact that he put down the book and actually turned to regard Sasuke whenever Sasuke actually spoke to him made the rumors about whatever their relationship might be, mostly propagated by the more… fanatic members of Sasuke's own fanclub, fly all over the academy, but it was none of Sasuke's concerns.

After all, unlike just about everyone else, Uzumaki actually knew how to listen and that was what Sasuke wanted from him.

Uzumaki, despite his brutal training style, actually seemed to know what he was doing when he trained himself. Sasuke had learned quite a lot from the blond's own movements and incorporated several of them into his own move-set. Sasuke had a knack for copying another's abilities, even without his Sharingan, which had made him even further excited of when he'd finally get his Sharingan, since he could not only copy the abilities he saw, but also improve upon them.

Yet Uzumaki had still never initiated the interaction between them. Sasuke understood that the boy was, seemingly, extremely introverted, but this was ridiculous! Uzumaki never seemed to notice, nor care, of anything entering the training site while he was using it, and it pissed Sasuke off to no end to be ignored like that.

But then, he reminded himself, that was just the way that Uzumaki was. Hyperfocus is not always a bad thing, as they say, annoying as it was. Whenever he actually spoke to Uzumaki, he could tell that despite the boy did not stop his training for even a second, his ears were always open to whatever Sasuke had to say, and considering Uzumaki ignored anything but the important information even from the teachers, this was an ego boost like no other.

"Do you want to spar?" Sasuke asked, tentatively. He did not know if Uzumaki found sparring with him pointless, given that every spar they'd had in class had always gone the same way, often a tremendously one-sided victory in Uzumaki's favor.

The sheer strength and pain resistance built from hours upon hours of training had created a vast gulf between Uzumaki and a normal academy student, but Sasuke was no normal student. Sasuke adapted faster and better than any of his classmates could ever hope to. Whereas Uzumaki dispatched just about anyone in two to three moves at the most, Sasuke had gotten used to it.

He had gotten used to the fact that Uzumaki never attacked first. It wasn't because Uzumaki wanted to hold back and prepare a strategy to deal with his opponents. He didn't need to. Uzumaki never attacked before he was attacked first and while Sasuke wanted to know where this fixation came from, he knew better than to outright ask the one who would never answer.

First he'd have to earn the blond's trust.

Seeing the blond seemingly think it over for a few seconds, enough to let him have an internal monologue, the Uchiha thought out his battle plan. Uzumaki may not need one, but he certainly did. Seeing the blond's nod, Sasuke jumped backward, putting some distance and landing in the soft grass not too far away from the other batch of training dummies.

Uzumaki's first attack was always a counterattack, as a result of that, but there were things he could not counter. Sasuke's strategy relied on opening the fight with a ranged attack, so he grabbed one of his blunted kunai (he'd taken to carrying them everywhere, apparently it helped get used to the weight and to the position they'd be in) from the pouch in his right leg and with technique worthy of a genin let it fly towards his target, who caught it with two of his fingers just an inch away from his forehead.

Before the blond could discard it, Sasuke had rushed forward and bent low, dodging under the rather predictable backhanded throw that Uzumaki used to return the kunai, and then spinning around on his own axis to try to sweep the blond's legs from under him.

The blond hopped into the air and Sasuke nearly yelped when he saw the sandal mark on the floor. Hadn't he decided to get his leg out of the way quicker, his ankle would probably have been reduced to paste by the comeback stomp. Completing his spin, Sasuke used his momentum to deliver a staggering blow, the first blow he'd ever landed, to Uzumaki's side.

There was no ooph. There was no sign of pain. There was nothing. Uzumaki looked as if nothing had happened, even if his next attack had been interrupted and his muscles had tensed to prevent the damage to his insides. The reaction never reached the blond's face.

Remaining unfazed at Sasuke's shocked face, Uzumaki countered the attack with a simple straight to the face that Sasuke blocked… Only to find out that was the entire purpose of the move. With one arm overextended and the other blocking the face, Uzumaki's leg was free to snap forward and send Sasuke flying away.

Landing on a heap, the Uchiha groaned his pain out loud. "Okay… note to self… Less gawky more fighty…" He mumbled to himself as he stood up, nursing his much abused abdominal muscles (that still hadn't formed, dammit!) and offering Uzumaki an apologetic frown. "I'm still not up to snuff, but soon I'll be able to beat you."

Uzumaki said nothing, merely nodded and turned back to his training.

Acknowledgement. It had come several months into their relationship, but Uzumaki had finally acknowledged him as a rival and, at the time, Sasuke thought that it was the one thing he'd needed to surpass both his limitations and his brother.

Uzumaki was not, as Sasuke thought, a genius who held his knowledge back to not stand out. Uzumaki was an intelligent individual, but his lack of interest for pretty much anything other than the many ways in which one can kill people probably screwed his grades more than his unwillingness to actually display his knowledge.

Sasuke had learned that Uzumaki simply did not care and did not pay attention to anything but the lectures specific about Shinobi work, which were often given by Umino Iruka, who he had learned was the blond's only friend amongst the teachers, considering he was the one teacher who treated the small boy fairly.

Having become his unofficial protector, Sasuke had had to deal with a variety of bullies over the years, particularly one Inuzuka Kiba (who somehow hopped between friend and bully every other day, talk about bipolar), but mostly civilians who did not understand how exactly the dead last managed to get into the academy two years earlier and pass while they failed.

The academy put very little weight into academic pursuits and much more weight on the students' physical abilities in the early years, changing focus towards Ninjutsu in the last year. It made a certain sense, again, to hold back the knowledge of the more complicated forms of chakra manipulation to the ones who would actually be capable of using them.

Regardless, Uzumaki never cared, even if he was bullied. He did not acknowledge insults or compliments. He just stuck his face inside of his book and read, ignoring any but the teachers and the class' resident Uchiha.

One day, Sasuke, with his mother's prodding, realized that his relationship with Uzumaki was weird and couldn't really be called friendship, so he wanted to fix that. Uchiha Mikoto, Sasuke's mother, had suggested he invite the boy for dinner.

So Sasuke stuck around the academy, since that particular day, like many of the week, Uzumaki had been placed on detention for no real reason other than his presence annoying the teachers. Sasuke had to admit, Uzumaki was tremendously irritating at times, but this was ridiculous.

Deciding that he didn't want to wait, he thought about sneaking Uzumaki out of the classroom. All he'd have to do is grab him and just drag him away. Uzumaki wouldn't protest or say anything, and it was for his own good, anyway.

He did not expect, however, to hear anything coming from the classroom. "Hm… How are you, Naruto-kun?" Asked a rather old, weary and tired voice. Anyone could have recognized it. That voice made the most valiant of man think twice. That voice struck fear into the hearts of men. That was the voice of the God Of Shinobi, the Sandaime Hokage of Konoha, Sarutobi Hiruzen.

There was no response. Sasuke hadn't expected one.

"That's nice." The Hokage said, his tone more than a bit amused. Sasuke peeked through the door that separated the classroom from the hall, opening it around the width of his pinky, and what he saw shocked him. The Sandaime Hokage had one hand on top of his blond friend's head and was ruffling his hair affectionately, like a grandfather would to his grandson. "I've heard you made a friend." The old man said.

Uzumaki nodded, his book closed and laid to rest on the desk.

It kind of warmed Sasuke's heart to know that Uzumaki hadn't hesitated, even a second, to name him as one of his friends. "Hm… Try not to cause too much trouble for him, okay?" The grandfatherly smile on the Third's face left Sasuke dumbfounded.

Apparently, Uzumaki was actually far more important in the grand scheme of things than he'd thought. His curiosity about the blond enigma shot up at that point, because most adults seemed to find him to be an irritating little prick, which was weird. Wouldn't they be kissing the ass of the Hokage's favorite?

As interesting as it was, Sasuke knew that the moment the old man's focus left Uzumaki, he'd probably detect Sasuke in an instant, so he decided to go for the best bluff he could think of and simply barged in. "Uzumaki, are you still he- Oh. I apologize for interrupting." Sasuke said, upon intruding into the moment.

Uzumaki, like always, remained completely unfazed, while the old man let out a loud chuckle. "Boy, I've known you were there since the moment you stepped into the hall. Do take good care of Naruto-kun, he's… not very good at it." Sarutobi said, standing and walking up to Sasuke, ruffling his hair for good measure. "Now then, I have work to get back to and you have something to tell Naruto-kun, I presume."

Sasuke blinked, seeing the wink the old man threw at him. Was that, maybe, the Hokage approving of his friendship with the blond boy? It seemed the old man was fairly protective of the blond, if he had actually met in person with him. The Hokage rarely, if ever, left the office.

Uzumaki just kept getting more interesting with each turn…

Uzumaki might be by far the greatest when it came to practical fighting, but Sasuke was leaps and bounds ahead of him in practically everything else. In fact, Uzumaki somehow managed to be the dead last. It was actually odd, considering that despite his rather horrendous Chakra Control, Uzumaki could manage the Kawarimi perfectly and his henge…

His henge had transcended the boundaries of the simple illusory technique and somehow become a complete transformation. Apparently, nobody had told Uzumaki that the henge is not supposed to be physical and, given that what he reads is better left unsaid, he'd gone and made up his own version after the standard henge failed him utterly.

The bunshin was a lost cause, however. Uzumaki could not manipulate so little chakra at once. It was simply impossible for him. The Bunshin is the least chakra intensive technique out there, consuming even less than taking a few vertical steps would. Haruno Sakura, the rather pitiful Kunoichi Of The Year, could manage to create two dozen bunshin with ease.

Given that Sasuke had just obtained his headband for doing that exact same jutsu, it seemed that the test was tailored to fail Uzumaki, since failure in two of the three tests meant automatic failure. Uzumaki would no doubt get top marks in Taijutsu and fail utterly at the written portion of the exam. Had the jutsu to test been anything other than the bunshin or the Kawarimi, he'd have passed Ninjutsu with flying colors…

… But with the bunshin?

He was bound for failure, no doubt.

Sasuke hadn't known he'd been holding his breath until Uzumaki came walking out with a forehead protector replacing his usual headband. He smiled at the tiny newly minted genin, even if he'd passed just barely, he had. After all, Sasuke's rival could not be a failure, right?

"Team 7 will be… Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke…"

Sasuke winced, hearing the high pitched scream coming from his elated self proclaimed number 1 fangirl, and locked his eyes on the teacher.

"TAKE THAT, INO-PIG! True love conquers all!"

Shallow, fan girlish love is not true love, Sasuke wanted to say. But he kept quiet because he knew she'd ignore it like she had ignored just about every other stinking time he'd told his fangirls that he was much more interested in an actual Kunoichi than in the useless Kunoichi.

"… And Uzumaki Naruto, under Hatake Kakashi."

The blond merely turned to Sasuke.

Sasuke shrugged and the blond turned back to the chalkboard. He did, however, pull out a book with a blond man on old timey chunin armor and a rather confident smirk on his face from one of his pockets. He did not remove his eyes from the book, however, and simply tossed the smaller book towards Sasuke. Sasuke raised one eyebrow and caught it.

Three hours later, while Sakura was trying to get either of her teammates to talk to her instead of focusing on their respective books, Hatake Kakashi walked through the door. "Yo." He said, waving to them. He got completely ignored by the blond and while the pink haired girl yelled at him for being late, Sasuke merely sent him a blank look that didn't really express any irritation.

After all, Sasuke had been rather entertained these past few hours, getting through the story of the Utterly Gutsy Shinobi.

"My first impression of you? You're all so bland I can't even hate you guys." Stated the rather colorful silver haired Shinobi, who seemed at best unimpressed with his team.

At the rooftop, Kakashi sighed when he noticed that while the quiet blond and the Uchiha had gotten to the roof in his exact specification, the pinkette had taken an entire minute above the limit and came in looking quite exhausted. He'd have to work on that, if they came anywhere near close to passing, anyway.

"So… Now that you're all here, how about introducing yourselves? Pinky, you go first." Kakashi said.

Pinky caught her breath, then seemed at a loss of what to do.

"You know, your name, likes, dislikes, hobbies, dreams, favorite volume of Icha Icha, those things." Kakashi said, waving his hand, already recognizing the huge problem she had with her inability to think on her own and overreliance on authority figures providing her with direct orders. That was the symptom of a Shinobi who would never progress past genin and he would fix it ASAP.

"Oh… Well, I'm Haruno Sakura, and what I like… I mean the person that I like is…" She blushed and looked at the Uchiha, who completely ignored that and forcefully averted his attention away from her.

Kakashi noted it would most likely cause continued problems in the team dynamic. Sakura, it seemed, had the most problems he'd have to work with, even if they were all minor problems that he could solve with relative ease.

"And I dislike Naruto-baka!" The blond, meanwhile, didn't even seem to register the obvious attack on his person, which only infuriated Sakura further. However, she seemed to regain her calm under Kakashi's bored gaze. "My hobbies are reading and studying…" a confession that caused Sasuke to snort. It was a wonder that she disliked Naruto so much simply for reading all the time if she knew the joys of reading herself. "And my dream is…" She looked at Sasuke and blushed bright red.

Kakashi resisted the urge to facepalm, Sasuke did facepalm and Naruto did… absolutely nothing.

She then seemed confused. "What's Icha Icha?" she asked. Both the Uchiha and Kakashi looked at her with odd expressions in their faces.

"Okay, Duckie, your turn." Kakashi commanded, causing Sasuke to frown at him.

"My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I like training and tomatoes and dislike those who don't take their training seriously." He sent a meaningful glance at Sakura, but she merely interpreted it as praise and acted more than a bit proud of said fact, blushing and smiling. "My dream is to surpass my elder brother and become the leader of the Military Police." Then he seemed thoughtful. "I also haven't read Icha Icha." He at least seemed to know what Icha Icha was.

That was an improvement, Kakashi summarized.

"Okay, blondie, your turn now."

Naruto looked at him with a deadpan expression on his face over the edge of his book.

"It's an order." Kakashi said, a tad more forcefully.

"Uzumaki Naruto." Sasuke was stunned. It was the first time he'd ever heard Uzumaki's voice. It was… ridiculously soft. It was odd, considering just how strong Sasuke knew him to be. Then again, he was tiny, thin and fragile looking, yet was far stronger than one would expect even from a Shinobi.

Sasuke guessed that this was just even more proof that Uzumaki was perhaps one of the most perfect Shinobi he could think of. He was as threatening as… well, an underfed ten year old boy. The fact that he also somehow managed to make his mother forget about her Shinobi training just to go 'Kawaii!' and almost choke him on her breast made him an even more effective Shinobi.

Even Sasuke could notice that Uzumaki was adorable at times, given how wonderfully naïve he seemed to be of anything that did not involve killing people.

" I like training. My hobby is training. My dream… is becoming Hokage." The blond said, his voice still as soft and low key as ever. It had managed to stun all three of them into silence. Sakura, after all, hadn't ever heard so much as a grunt from Uzumaki and Sasuke imagined that Kakashi was more surprised about a lack of mentioned dislikes. "My favorite is… Blitz Tactics…"

Kakashi actually smiled under his mask and ruffled the blond's hair, act which had no reaction from the blond whatsoever. "You've got good taste, then." He said, more than a tad cheerful. He grew even more cheerful, however, when he stood up and looked ready to Shunshin away. "Okay, then, you guys should get ready. Be on Training Ground Three tomorrow at five sharp for your real genin test."

Sakura gasped. "But we've already had a genin test!"

Kakashi gave them an odd eye-smile. "I'm a tad harsher with my test than the academy. After all, nobody has ever passed it!" He said, leaning down. "And do you want to know a secret?" He said in a conspirator's tone. "I don't think any of you will pass, either!" he said. "I recommend you don't eat breakfast, you might just puke it out!" with that, he was gone in a flash of smoke and leaves.

And then, it had been official. At least in Sasuke's mind.

There was, after all, no chance he'd fail that test!

Different events:

The attack of the Kyuubi happened two years later than it did in canon, because Kushina did not get pregnant until two years after she did in canon. The date, funnily enough, is the exact same except for the year. October 10.

There was no attempt at kidnapping Hinata, since security after the attack was on full alert and the Kumo delegation deemed the mission too high risk to take. As a result, there are actually fairly decent relations between Kumo and Konoha and Hinata does not have the self confidence of a sponge. Since Hizashi didn't die for the Main Branch, Neji is not a colossal prick, even though he still doesn't like the main branch for obvious reasons.

The Uchiha Clan was never wiped out because the Uchiha who released the Kyuubi was caught and killed by Minato in that very night before he sealed the Kyuubi within Naruto. Yes, Obito died.

Anything other than that would be spoiling something or limiting my abilities to screw with the plot later on, and I don't wanna rely on dumb retcons, so... That's all you're getting.