Kurenai tugged at her flak jacket as she stood among the Jounin that were her senior by years, and even decades.

She had just become a jounin last year due to personal issues that prevented her from doing so earlier. Since then, she has only worn the vest once...well...now.

For chunin, it was was kind of expected. Not mandatory, but as an homage to making it to chunin.

By the time you reached jounin, or even tokubetsu jounin, you survived long enough to know that the jacket didn't do jack dittly squat when it came to protection and usually got in the way. The scroll pockets were even worse. Who puts their scrolls on the front of their chest where they'd impede movement or even get damaged?

Thus, the vest was only mandatory in a few instances. Ceremony and war.

Her fidgeting ceased when she noticed a few stares her way. While she kept her clam demeanor on the outside, in her mind, she was grumbling. Why were they all waiting again?

*Poof* Ah, gomen. A black cat crossed my-"

"Save the antics, Kakashi. Now that we're all here, we can begin the team selections", the Sandaime started.

Kurenai drifted off as the discussion started. There weren't enough teams for her to receive one after all. She was only acting as a backup this year, in case one of the senseis became unable to lead their team, temporarily or permanently, as small a chance as it was that it would happen.

It was disappointing though. She would have liked to become the sensei of her old charge, HInata. The last time she saw her, she had yet to gain much confidence in herself. She could only hope her sensei could help her.

" I want Aburame Shino, Hyuga Hinata, and Kiba"

Kurenai looked to the front of the office to see Inuzuka Tsume standing, commandingly, in the front of the room. The Hokage, and everyone else, stared in surprise at her.

" You seem confident in your choices, but your own son? Usually that isn't allowed, Tsume", the Hokage argued.

Tsume was already prepared for that, " If I'm making a tracking team, I want the best potential, and who better to lead them than an experienced tracker? Especially with my son aboard. I can train him alot easier, leaving more time to train the other two, who will need more work. Not so much Shino as Hinata, who everybody knows is softer than tissue paper. Who better than both me and my son to put some fighting spirit into the girl?-"

Alot of people wanted to chuckle hysterically...but they dared not to.

"-plus, if Shino is anything like his old man, he needs an Inuzuka to bug the logic out of him sometimes", she wrapped up her case. Everybody sweatdropped...but couldn't argue.

" Still, I don't think Kiba would like having his mother watching over his shoulder all the time", Asuma stepped in, seeing as noone else would.

Tsume rounded on him in an instant, " Oh? And why would you think that?", she asked, sounding like it had better be a good answer.

Asuma shrugged, " Well, what if your father had become your sensei?"

Tsume's eyes widened before she seemed to pale a few shades, " ...Errr, I'll give him breathing room...lots and lots of breathing room", she replied with a shudder.

The two Sarutobis nodded, " Then I'll allow it this time then. Now-"

Before he could go any further, a chunin burst into the room and went straight to the Hokage. After whispering something, the Hokage sighed and got up, " Excuse me for a moment, Something has come up that needs my attention",

A few of the jounins grumbled about having to wait...once he left of course. It was only minutes later that he came back.

" It seems one of our non graduates, Uzumaki Naruto, has stolen the forbidden scroll".

Kurenai was just as shocked as the rest of the room, well, until she replayed the words in her head.

" You said " It seems" Hokage-sama?"

She didn't realize it was her talking until everyone turned and looked at her. The Hokage nodded with a grin.

" Perceptive as always Kurenai-san. There was no way for someone so young to know about that scroll, and it reminds me far too much of a similar incident years ago".

" Then shouldn't we be out looking for him as well?", Asuma suggested.

" I doubt the chunin will have a problem finding someone who didn't even graduate", Kakashi rebuked from behind his book.

" Right, because the academy is so good at seeing talent". They were all staring at her again, including Kakashi, who looked up from his book to see who had countered his opinion. She kept going anyways.

" If I remember correctly, this is the same boy that managed to paint the Hokage Monument in front of everybody and lead pursuing chunin on a wild goose chase for half an hour?".

The grumbles in the room were proof enough that it was.

" So you're saying we should go look too?", Kakashi questioned with an inquisitive eye.

Kurenai shook her head, " Not at all. Hokage-sama knows him better than any of us, and has planned for it. I am merely stating not to underestimate people based on academic standing. Jiraiya-sama should be example enough of that".

Nobody could argue that.

" While it is heartening to see someone standing up for him for a change, I suggest we get the rest of the teams knocked out. Kakashi?", the Sandaime gestured to the aloof jounin.

" Uchiha Sasuke for sure. Since we have an odd number of graduates this year, I am willing to take just two, so for the second, say, Haruno Sakura?".

The Hokage raised his brow, " An interesting choice. My Anbu have reported her being part of an orginization dedicated to idolizing Uchiha Sasuke".

Kurenai had to suppress a snort. An Uchiha and a fangirl? Kakashi is evil.

" It might help Sasuke gain a tie to Konoha. It's no secret he wants nothing more than to kill his brother. The problem is making sure he doesn't abandon everything to do it."

" And you're going to do this by putting a fangirl on the team...Are you sure it's not going to make him want to run even more?", Asuma joined in on the poking fun.

You could tell Kakashi was starting to get irritated, " Oh? Maybe I should take the Yamanaka or Nara heir instead?".

Kurenai breathed a chuckle as Asuma clammed up with a sheepish look, " Err, I think it has potential", he backed off.

The Hokage wrote it down, then looked at his son...then looked back down and started writing again.

" Umm, what are you doing pops?"

" The Nara, Yamanaka, and Akimichi".

Asuma folded his arms, " You don't know that. I could have picked someone totally different".

The Hokage stared silently at Asuma until he finally caved, " Okay. Yes. But only because their father's hounded me, for a month, to do it. Personally I think Ino is too different from her father for another trio to work as well as it did, but if there's a chance, might as well take it".

The Hokage looked surprised, like he expected a completely different argument. Before his surprise could be voiced, a knock came from the door.


Instead of the update on Naruto he was expecting, his old rival, Danzo, walked in.

" And what may I do for you, Danzo?", the Hokage asked with a healthy helping of caution.

" Just a request. It has come to my attention that there is an odd number of graduates this year".

" Oh? And how did you know this?", the Hokage inquired.

" Easy. I counted them as they left the building...but to the point. I have a pupil, that I have been training, that wishes to make it into the ranks. I see this as a perfect opportunity for him to do so", Danzo stated as he gave the necessary paperwork to the Hokage.

Apprentices didn't need to go through the academy. As long as their mentors vouched for them and they passed the tests required, they could become genin. It was just getting them on teams that was a bother. Unless you had three apprentices and either coaxed a jounin or made yourself their sensei, you had to wait for an open spot. And this was, obviously, that opportunity.

Hiruzen knew better. The plant would be to observe Sasuke, who Danzo knew would be taken by Kakashi, who Danzo knew would take the odd number. Everybody knew the boy was a loose cannon, even Danzo, and he wasn't going to rely on emotional attachment to keep him around. As much as Hiruzen wanted to deny it, it was a sound investment, though, the boy would be taking the spot that was meant for Naruto if he had graduated. Hopefully next year, he would.

Hiruzen nodded, " He can fill the empty spot on Team 7, as long as Kakashi agrees?", he prodded the man, who hadn't taken his head out of that book once during the whole exchange.

" I won't have to babysit him will I?"

Danzo looked to the jounin, " I can assure you, that his skill is well above the academy curriculum, so he will need little " babysitting"", the bandaged man answered.

" Then I see no reason to argue", Kakashi answered with a shrug.

The Hokage nodded, " Then that leaves all the teams assembled. Be at the Academy in three days to pick up your teams",

With that, the jounin started filing out of the room with Kakashi taking the window out of laziness. Kurenai stuck near the wall, waiting to meet up with Asuma, who was no doubt going to wait for the crowd to thin before even trying to leave. Her waiting was interrupted as it seemed a chunin was trying to go against the crowd and get into the office.

A freshly bandaged chunin, with no headband and a giant scroll.

Once he got through, he immediately went to the Hokage and started murmuring something. The quiet conversation continued until-

" Shimata"

That caught both Asuma's and Kurenai's attention. The Sandaime hardly ever swore.

" You couldn't have come five minutes earlier?", he continued as he started paging through the roster used for team placements.

As soon as he landed on the last page, he looked up directly at her, " Kurenai-san, could you stay for a while longer?".

Her surprise was evident. What did the Hokage need to talk to her about? Waiting for the rest to leave found Kurenai...and Asuma in the room. The Hokage gave Asuma a questioning look, and Asuma gave him a look like he should know better. Such were the communication skills between the two.

The Hokage seemed to ponder something before nodding, then turned to her, " It seems Naruto was tricked into stealing the scroll by his teacher, Mizuki, as an alternative test to graduating, much like the prior incident I mentioned", he started, elliciting surprise from the two jounin as he continued.

" Naruto was found by Iruka, who he told as much, before both were attacked by Mizuki, during which, Naruto was told of his tenant".

This caused tension. Naruto knew of the Kyubi now?

The Hokage continued before they could voice their concerns," The confrontation continued until Naruto apparently used Kagebushin, which he learned from the scroll, to overwhelm Mizuki and incapacitate him. In the aftermath, Iruka-san here graduated him to genin".

Kurenai looked at the proud, injured, chunin. So that's where his headband went. " Is there some reason you felt he could graduate now, and not during the test?"

It caught Iruka off guard, especially the concentration boring into him from her. " Uh, he only failed because he couldn't do the clone jutsu. I felt his new skill rectified this problem".

Asuma wanted to know something else, " Kagebushin is a chakra intensive jutsu, and, yet, you said he overwhelmed a chunin with them. How many did he make?".

Iruka replied with total seriousness, " Hundreds. Maybe even a thousand".

Even Hiruzen's eyes widened a bit. The amount of chakra needed for that was indescribable. He would truly be a powerhouse with the right guidance.

" As I said, so much for the Academy's knack for seeing talent. You expected someone with that much chakra to do a simple clone without extensive chakra control exercises?", Kurenai disapproved as she crossed her arms.

Before it could turn into a guilt trip, the Hokage interrupted, " Unfortunately, what was supposed to be his spot on Team 7 has been filled with Danzo's pupil, which I cannot change after already accepting it". Not that he was sound on the placement to begin with.

He watched as Kurenai caught on, " Which is why I'm bumping the backup further down the line, and instating you as his sensei".

She was immediately on the defense, " You...want me to be his sensei?¿ I hardly feel I would be experienced enough to train him Hokage-sama. Not to mention the lack of teammates".

The Hokage was unperturbed," It's true that normally an extra genin would usually be put through the last year of the Academy again until they could be formed onto a team, but there are multiple reasons I don't want that to happen. He knows of the Kyubi, so if I were to put him through the class again, he would also know why all the other students avoid him, being comprised of civilians and the smaller clans. I watched him go through that once already before he fell back into this class-" the Hokage got up as he continued, " -and to take away his headband after what has happened...would be asinine on my part...there's also the little fact that he learned a kinjutsu in one night...it's obvious he's going to be a force of nature with the right training, so the "Hokage" wants him on the field, not in a classroom-", he turned from the window to look at them.

" It's also getting to dangerous to keep him out of the forces. You saw the potential in him Kurenai. If a foreign "recruiter" saw it as well, and him without a headband, after having his headband taken away and being forced to go through the Academy again with a class that hates him for something that he KNOWS I kept from him...what do you think is going to happen?"

If a double-take was an emotion, both of the jounin would be going through it right now. No wonder he still deserved that hat. It was a bleak yet very possible scenario. The image of Naruto with a Kumo headband on was far too easy to imagine. Kumo...where they had two jinchuruki...it was even reported that one of them might be a female.

"Actually, it's been confirmed. A rather attractive one at that", the Hokage replied.

" Dammit pops, that's creepy", Asuma complained as Kurenai looked at him in shock.

" What? Mizu's in no condition to be recruiting, Iwa still has a distrust of blondes, and Suna couldn't keep him for obvious reasons. So it's obvious which one would take him in a heartbeat, and has a blonde female jinchuruki to lure him."

" Alright, I get it Hokage-sama, but why me? You said it yourself, he's geared towards ninjutsu, I'm a genjutsu specialist."

The Hokage grumbled in his throat as he tried to think of the best way of saying it...and then he gave up, " Because I personally think you'll make a better teacher for him than Kakashi ever could for any student".


" Kakashi is a genius, always was. And while I don't doubt his expertise in the field of ninjutsu and his skills, I do doubt his ability to teach. His "teamwork" test alone gives as much of a warning bell. While it's supposed to figure out the weak link and test the dynamic of the students, it's not supposed to be used as a pass/fail test. It's too complicated for new graduates, who have been bunched together with people they might have quarreled with the day before. He assumes and expects too much, and I'm sure it will be seen in his teaching style as well".

They couldn't defend against it.

" You, on the other hand..."

"...Me?", Kurenai questioned.

" Well, the proof is in the past Kurenai. Who discredited Naruto's skills and who argued against it? Besides, a scroll can teach a person a jutsu, what Naruto needs is someone to teach him".

"...Teach him what?".

" Everything that nobody else did".

Silence reigned in the room as Kurenai absorbed that. It was vague...and ominous.

" You'll figure out you have more to give him than you think. So, I'm forming you and Naruto into Team 11 until you find your other two students"

" Wait..find, Hokage-sama?", she asked in confusion.

" You didn't think Danzo was the only one with a pupil looking to get into the ranks, did you? They're out there, recruit them, or you can wait until next year's class to fill the spots, or, kami-forbid, get them from a broken team. It's not the members that are in short supply, Kurenai, it's the team spots that are rare. By forming this team, I'm giving you and Naruto a shot, along with two other people tha might have never had such a chance. Don't deny them that".

Kurenai's shoulders slunk in defeat, " Hai...Hokage-sama", Kurenai breath out, less than convinced. Asuma ushered her to the door as Hiruzen regarded their backs.

" And if all else fails, I'm sure my son would be more than happy to help you out every now and then.", he added with a smirk.

They stumbled and froze a little, but their denial fell short as they realized there was no point in trying. Figured he would know.

Kurenai sighed to herself as they left. What had she gotten herself into?




*With Naruto*

Despite his earlier cheer in front of his sensei, tonight's events left him torn. While it was a breath of fresh air to know why people glared at and despised him, it added so many suspicions that the relief was short-lived.

Did everyone know?

What else was being hid from him?

Why was he chosen?

And a much deeper one being, did he graduate because of his merits that night, or because he found out about..it? He wasn't stupid...Hyper, scatterbrained, and loudmouthed, but not stupid. When there was noone around to try to catch the attention of, you could see it plain as day. It's just too bad noone really bothered to look...or care.

As much as he just wanted to forget about it, it weighed too heavily. So much so that he totally forgot to tell anybody of the second jutsu he learned. He didn't get to try it, but it was so much like the first, all he really needed to do was remember the handsigns and give it the good old college try. Maybe he should try it tomorrow. It might help clear his mind. With that, he finally nodded off.



*clock spinning wildly*

The night before team placements found Kurenai nervous and fidgeting. It was one in the morning and she had yet to get any sleep. She was too ingrained in trying to figure out exactly what she was going to do. Since there was only one genin in the team, there was no point in having a teamwork test, so what next? That's what she was trying to figure out. She had a few ideas written down, but not much...*BLI-*

Naruto twisted and turned in bed as something assaulted his eyelids. Finally giving up the fight, he woke up...to find out he was late for team assignments.

"CRAP!", he shouted as he jumped out of bed and started getting ready. He almost put on his goggles, but remembered the headband sitting on his nightstand. He looked at it as he held it in his hand. Had he earned it? He still had his doubts, but put it on anyways. Coming back to reality, he burst out the door, not even having time for breakfast.




*At the Academy*

"Congratulations on passing. With it, you-", Naruto wasn't listening. He was already in a crappy mood, stuck between Sasuke and Sakura. As soon as he stepped through the door, it started going downhill. First off, No one would believe he had passed, even though it was displayed right on his forehead. The second was having to sit next to the Teme three feet away from him.

Then there was Sakura. For...certain reasons...he had given up on her a couple years back. At first, she seemed happy about it, but after a few months, that happiness seemed to dry up. After that, he caught her looking at him every so often. Then, after that, it seemed like wherever he sat, she sat. She didn't talk to him or anything. It was almost like she was coaxing him to try again.

Grrr! Why did girls have to be so complicated?¡

It was almost as frustrating as his-

"Now, onto team placements! Team 1 will be-", Naruto pushed aside his current frustrations as he listened to the lineup, trying to figure out what team he would be on. Anything but Sasuke's, hopefully...if there was a god. That would be a nightmare.

" Team 7 will be Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Sai, under Hatake Kakashi"

Oh thank you sweet merciful god.

" Sensei. We don't have anyone in our class named Sai", Sakura interupted.

Iruka paused in his announcement to grumble something that sounded like " you think I don't fucking know that?", before replying, " Sai was trained outside of the Academy and passed the criteria needed to be put onto a team. You'll meet him when you meet your sensei. Team 8 will be Hyuga Hinata, Aburame Shino, and Inuzuka Kiba under...Inuzuka Tsume-"

" Ehhh?¡ Why is my mom leading my team?¡"

" Stop interupting!", Iruka shouted amongst the snickers at Kiba's predicament. " Team 10 will be Akimichi Chouji, Nara Shikamaru, and Yamanaka Ino under Sarutobi Asuma-*GLARE*", Iruka warned Ino, who had her mouth already open to start expressing her thoughts on the lineup. She, instead, crossed her arms and huffed a pout.

"And finally, Team 11 will consist of Uzumaki Naruto under Yuhi Kurenai".

Naruto's shock was as apparent as everybody else's.

" Eh?¡ Why is Naruto on a team by himself?¡" Sakura

" Who's ass did he kiss to get that?", Kiba

" They were probably worried he'd get his teammates killed", Sasuke got in, much to the amusement of his fan club. For Naruto, on the other hand, it was another doubt into why he was even made a ninja.

Iruka piped in after Sasuke's rude comment, " You shouldn't laugh Sasuke. Until the other two spots are filled, he gets to train exclusively with his sensei, while you have to share with two other people", this had the wanted effect of sending Sasuke into a bout of glowering as Ino decided to pipe up.

" He can have my spot and I can have his!"

Iruka sighed, " It doesn't work that way Ino-"

" Then just put me on his team! At least he has energy! These two lazy bums wouldn't roll over if they were on fire!".

The eyes of the "two lazy bums" twitched in annoyance. Naruto, however, didn't look like he was even listening.

"Anyways. Your senseis will pick you up after lunch-"

"-*Slam!* Team 8! We're going out to lunch!"

"...or before", Iruka added as he stared at the feral looking woman who had burst through the door with a giant dog just as gruff looking. Kiba dragged himself down the steps with his teammates. This was so wrong.

The rest of the class went to lunch as Naruto just sat there. He hadn't brought anything for lunch anyways, and he really wasn't all that hungry.




When Kurenai opened her eyes again, she was no longer staring at the paper she was writing on. She was resting her head on it...and it was wet.

She must have dozed off...uhoh.

She instantly became alert as she snapped up and looked at the clock. She was late. Oh Kami, was she late! She shot up to her feet and bolted out the door. She should have picked up Naruto over an hour ago.



*At the Academy*

The door finally opened again, only for one Hatake Kakashi to come in with some pale, black haired kid sporting a large bump on his head.

" The rest of Team 7, up on the roof in 5 minutes", he ordered shortly before poofing away.

The two looked confused

" He sounded angry...what happened?", Sakura asked their, apparently, teammate.

" All I did was give my first impression of him", he answered emotionlessly before poofing up to the roof as well. Sasuke got up and walked out of the classroom, Sakura following, but not before giving a confused glance back at Naruto.

Did his sensei ditch him or something? It looked like he was at the same conclusion. She turned and caught up to her teammates.

Kurenai was cutting a path through a park to get to the Academy, until she nearly collided into a fleshy wall. Luckily, she put the brakes on quick enough.

" It's nice to see you too, Kurenai, but you're supposed to jump into my arms...wait..where's Naruto?", Asuma asked as he looked at her disshelved state.

" I haven't picked him up yet"

" Kurenai!"

" I fell asleep at my table", she admitted

Asuma shook his head, " Poor kid's been sitting there for hours".

" Asuma", she warned. She was in the middle of getting there afterall, and he wasn't making it any better.

" Alright, alright, but before you get going, let's at least try not to look half crazy when you meet him", he reasoned as he patted down her frizzled hair, cleaned the ink off her cheek, and straightened out the sleeves on her dress. It was like being inspected by her father.

" There, now go get your student before I put you over my knee"

She blushed red in embarrassment before taking off, and blushed even worse after she passed him. Asuma looked on as she left-

" So, that was your girlfriend?"

He jerked in shock before turning to see Ino smiling coyly at Asuma and the other two regarding him with surprise.

" Ugh", Asuma was at a loss for words.

" Which means we're going to be seeing a lot of Team 11, probably in joint training sessions, since Naruto doesn't have any teammates to train with. Troublesome blondes"


"*Munch* That is, if he ever gets out of that funk he was in. He looked miserable after lunch *Munch*

" I wonder why. He should have been jumping up and down that he became a genin...how did he even graduate anyways?¿", Ino asked in confusion.

They all looked at Asuma for an answer, " Err, that's for Naruto to tell you if he wants to, not me". Well, at least they got off the girlfriend subject.

*At the Academy*

Kurenai briskly walked down the academy halls, trying to find the classroom. When she found it, butterflies assaulted her stomach as she hesitated with the door handle. when she finally opened the door, the butterflies tuned to lead after catching sight of her student. He reeked of dejection, so much so that he didn't seem to notice she was there.

" You're late", a small voice echoed in the room. Oh, so he did notice her.

" I...don't make a habit of it. It was beyond my control".

" Oh", he acknowledged in the same tone, before his stomach provided a solution to the heavy atmosphere.


"I'd like to make it up to you by taking you out to eat", she offered. It seemed to lift his spirits a bit.

"Okay", he answered as he got up, before he seemed to pause, "Uh, so where are we going...sensei?".

He seemed to be concerned about it. Instead of questioning it, Kurenai decided to give him the option.

" Why don't you pick", she answered to the surprise of Naruto.

*A while later*

Kurenai found herself at a small ramen shack on a side of town she hardly ventured. She was surprised. when she opted to let him pick, she expected at least a pricier sushi shop or something. But a ramen stand?

"Here you go", the waitress chirped as she set their orders down in front of them.

" Thanks Ayame-chan"

Oh? So he knew her.

" Not a problem Naruto...", the girl looked at Kurenai with a mischievous smile, " Ne, Naruto. Aren't you going to introduce your girlfriend?".

Both choked and sputtered.

" Ayame-chan! That's my sensei!", he cried out.

Ayame went wideeyed as her hands went over her mouth, " Ah! Gomen-nasai! I thought you were into mature women-"


"-of course not too mature, as she's still very young and pretty-"

"-I wasn't thinking that!-"

"-and would be a great catch for you-"

"-You're not helping!".

"Well someone had to break the ice, and you two mopey mutes sure weren't going to do it", she admitted with a smirk and a her hands on her hips. Both looked at her in surprise, before Naruto scratched the back of his head.

" Sorry. I've had alot on my mind since...graduating", he replied.

Kurenai pushed aside the previous scene as she concentrated on the conversation now, " Is it anything I can answer?".

Naruto regarded her with hesitation, " Uh, most likely, but I don't want to sound like I'm ungrateful or anything..."

" I won't judge you on it. It's best to get it out now instead of letting it linger", she assured him. She could see it as being a number of things, none of them too pleasant.

" Did...did I graduate because I learned about...it...inside me?"

She wasn't expecting that. Having problems with a female leader, sure. Questioning her competency after showing up so late, no problem. But this? As much as she hated to admit it, it was a valid question. Luckily, the waitress known as Ayame had went into the back to let them talk in private.

" I mean, with everything that happened that night, and then being put onto a team by myself...it kinda fits...like I'm a risk or something".

This...was the brash and headstrong kid she was told about?

" A couple pieces of a puzzle do not give you the entire picture, Naruto", the words that came out even surprised Kurenai a bit, but she continued while she had his attention.

" I'll admit, you knowing about it was part of the reason the Hokage gave for putting you on a team, but not exactly why you graduated..."

She gave him a soft glare " You graduated because you managed to learn an A-ranked kinjutsu from a scroll you stole from the Hokage Tower, and then used it to defeat a traitorous chunin", she held up her hand to forestall any arguments or comments, " Where "knowing about it" comes into place, is that usually, if there is an extra genin, they're sent back to the Academy for another year to be put into a team with that class, but that wasn't an option since the next class is nothing but civilians. they most likely would have shunned you, and you, knowing why, most likely would have resented them. He didn't want to do that to you".

She watched as Naruto nodded solemnly before she continued, " As for the team placement, you graduated after the teams were already formed, so he couldn't put you on an existing one, and I was the backup, so...he turned us into a team with two open spots", she finished, seeing insight in Naruto's eyes.

" So..we're leftovers thrown together to make a meal?".

Kurenai almost sweatdropped at the comparison, as accurate as it was, " I guess that's one way to put it".

Surprisingly, Naruto's mood seemed to be alot more upbeat.

" You don't really seem upset about it", she inquired as he at his cooling noodles.

" I'd rather be a leftover than what I was thinking I was. And I'm not on Sasuke-teme's team, so that's always a plus...I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be...It would have been nice to have some teammates though", he lamented. At least he wasn't depressed anymore.

" It's a team-in-progress. We'll have to find them as we go".

Naruto gave her a silent O before looking confused.

" Uh, one more question"

She looked at him as he seemed like he was trying to remember something.

" Umm...what's your name again?", he asked sheepishly.

Kurenai's eyebrows went up in surprise before realizing she never gave it.

"...Kurenai. Yuhi Kurenai, but call me Kurenai-sensei"

Naruto lit up with a smile, " Uzumaki Naruto, but you can call me Naruto", he replied as he held out his hand, which she shook.

" Well then Naruto, hopefully this team tuns out to be a success", she stated ruefully, to which he agreed. He finished gulping down his ramen before looking back to her.

" So. What happens next Kurenai-sensei?", he asked eagerly.

" If this was a full team, we would have had some sort of teamwork test. Obviously, we can't do that. So I think, tomorrow, we'll just settle for a skill evaluation. Meet e at training ground 8 tomorrow at 9 am". With that, she paid the tab and left with a wave, to which Naruto returned.

Things were quiet until he turned around to see Ayame looking at him with a coy smirk, " So, you're on a team alone with her? Lucky you", she nudged.

Naruto choked again, " I'd never think about something like that!".

" Eh? You wouldn't? I know I would. She's cute", she replied.

It only took a second for Naruto to process that, " Ayame!", he cried out indignantly.

" What? I can be curious", she defended with a pout. Naruto just wanted to crawl into bed before today got any weirder.




Kurenai's confidence lasted right up until she shut the front door of her apartment, where panic and doubt plagued her. She was making this up as she went. She evaluates his skills tomorrow...then what? Jounin were supposed to be well-rounded. She wasn't to that point yet, being fairly new in her higher-tier rank. When she was a chunin, her genjutsu and tracking skills got her through it all, but now?

Hell, even when her previous student was gifted in her specialty, she screwed up horribly. This one was a completely different scale!

This is how Asuma found her when he entered the apartment, pacing her living room while chewing on her thumbnail. Did she even know he was there?

His question was answered when she stopped and rounded on him with a punch to the shoulder.

" Oi! What the hell?", he complained lightly.

" That was for making me look like a deranged nut in front of you students", she argued.

" You didn't need my help with that. I'm sure half of Konoha saw your new look before I brought it to your attention", he countered as he crossed his arms.

Kurenai sighed. She hated it when he was right. She plopped onto the couch

Asuma looked at her curiously. She usually wasn't very expressive, unless she was stressed.

"What's wrong?", he asked.

Kurenai regarded Asuma, who had been a jounin long before she was. His skill set showed as much, having not only ninjutsu, but kenjutsu, taijutsu, some fuinjutsu, and the Sarutobi style of being able to break things down and figure them out.

She hated to say it, but she was a bit jealous.

" I was thinking about how I'm going to even start training Naruto", she admitted to him.

Asuma's surprise was visible, " Is that all you're worried about?", he asked with a bit of incredulity. It gained a glare from Kurenai, nonetheless.

" Is that all?¿ We're almost polar opposites, Asuma. I don't have the skills to teach him anything useful", she replied shortly. Not even Asuma had ever heard her yell, for even as long as he had known her, even when she was really mad. Instead, her speech became short, cold, and venemous.

Right now, she was just irritated. He was used to that.

" Do you know the basics?", he asked knowingly.

Her irritation became confusion, " The basics? That should be obvious", she retorted.

" Then you have plenty to teach him for now. Worry about specialties later, just like pops said"

Her confusion only grew, but her halted any questions by walking behind her.

" You'll figure it out tomorrow, trust me. For now, you look like you could use a backrub", he stated as he grabbed her shoulders.

She tried to resist, but damn did he know that exact spot. She conceded by melting.




Considering how late in the game I'm getting this in, I don't know how popular it will be...but then when the hell have I ever fucking cared? =D

Don't expect it to be updated too frequently, considering I'm so far behind on my main story. Speaking of which, if you read it, you'll have seen this coming *wink wink, twitch twitch cackle mumble mumble*