428 Follows. 277 Favourites. 96 reviews. 3 Chapters.

I am dumbstruck. O_O

Disclaimer: I do not own 'Naruto'.

Chapter 4

Bell Test

Sleep. The peaceful state of rest that provides an escapade from worldly concerns. A time to relax, both physically and mentally. This was more or less the concept the world shared about this respite, and it was no different for Naruto.

"Owww! What the heck?"

...Of course, any belief or concept can be shattered in an instant. Naruto shot up from his bed, looking around with wide eyes. He felt confused and disoriented. Why was he in a bed? Wasn't he talking to the First Hokage mere moments ago? Wasn't he being instructed along with his fellow clones on the art of fuinjutsu?

Wait a minute...Fellow clones? But I'm not a clone! I'm real! Naruto protested to himself. He distinctly remembered going to bed, but at the same time he remembered staying with Hashirama as a Shadow Clone. Confused was the right word to describe the situation. His head felt like it had run a mile in a minute, causing him to feel light headed. What happened? Naruto thought to himself, dazedly getting up. His thoughts were a mess, as were his memories for the past few hours.

Stumbling slightly, Naruto proceeded to do the morning chores. By the time he had finished, he had more or less formed an idea of what had happened. Moments before he had woken up, he –or more accurately, his clone –remembered feeling extremely sleepy while listening to Hashirama's voice. The First Hokage then had a mischievous expression on his face, and he heard Hashirama say 'time for you to wake up'. Not a moment later, Hashirama had hit his clone on the forehead with a finger. The next thing he knew, he woke up in his bed.

So this is what he meant when he said I'll get the memories of my clones. Naruto was equally intrigued and annoyed. While he was physically rested, his mind didn't feel as fresh as he was used to in the morning. Still, Naruto supposed, it's a small price to pay, I guess. Naruto could remember his first lesson on fuinjutsu with , he didn't remember all of it, as he had dozed off several times. He remembered practicing the basic chakra seal towards the end of the lesson.

Naruto wondered why all five of his clones had shared the same lesson. As he entered the balcony, he found himself facing four sleepy clones and a smug faced Hokage.

"Ah, good. I knew that'd get you here." Hashirama nodded.

"Did you have to wake me up like that?" Naruto felt like yelling at the top of his lungs at the Hokage, but restrained himself. He took his time to teach him, after all. Besides, he had a feeling Hashirama would just enjoy his ire.

"It worked very well, didn't it?" Hashirama beamed. "I didn't even have to move from my spot. Now, do you remember the entire lesson?"

Naruto frowned. "No, since I was pretty sleepy and... I couldn't pay attention throughout the lesson, sorry." Naruto finished lamely, hoping he wouldn't be scolded. Getting scolded by Iruka Sensei was one thing, but when it came from the First Hokage, it's a whole different matter.

"That's alright. No matter how much you try to concentrate, you can't pay attention to everything I say. This isn't your fault, as it happens to almost everyone. So I wasn't really expecting you to remember everything. That's why I asked you to create shadow clones." Hashirama said.

Naruto frowned. What did Shadow clones have to do with this? Hashirama pre-empted his question and flicked another clone on its forehead, causing it to disappear. Almost instantaneously, the real Naruto felt like his brain had received a painful jolt. This sensation was familiar, as he had experienced it when he woke up. For a few seconds, Naruto wasn't even capable of coherent thought. His entire brain seemed to be on fire at that short instant. As it 'cooled down', Naruto outright glared at Hashirama.

"Okay, seriously. Stop doing that!" Naruto could feel his head throbbing, indicating the arrival of a headache.

"They have to dispel sometime today anyway." Hashirama said, smirking. "Now how much do you remember?"

Naruto frowned. His eyes widened as the bits and pieces of this new memory merged with his existing memory. He felt like some gaps in his knowledge were filled. He then realized what Hashirama meant. Hashirama smiled at the realization on Naruto's face.

"Exactly. The clones serve to reinforce your memory and fill in the voids. Also, each clone thinks in a slightly different way, so you'll have five different interpretations of the lesson in your mind. Basically, it's the same as listening to my class over and over again, five times in a row. Hashirama extended his hand towards the third clone.

"No! Don-". Too late. Naruto clutched his forehead in pain, this time actually causing him to stumble. As soon as he was able to think properly, he tried his best to strangle the Hokage while the remaining clones made a run for it. He was not going to experience that again!


Training Ground Seven, Early Morning

Sasuke and Sakura could readily see that Naruto was not at all in a good mood when they saw him.

"Stupid Hokage. Stupid seals. Stupid-" Naruto muttered darkly, joining his two teammates in the early morning 'Survival test'. Sakura looked at Sasuke, who shrugged and looked away, uninterested. Sakura attributed Naruto's behaviour to the early time at which they were required to meet their sensei. Although what the Hokage and seals had to do with the matter was beyond her.

A little over half an hour passed, and the sun was now clearly visible. Naruto groaned, slapping his forehead. "Is he always going to be late?" He grumbled.

Neither Sasuke nor Sakura answered his question, though it was clear that they were equally annoyed by their teacher's tardiness. Minutes turned to hours and Kakashi arrived at ten in the morning, three hours after their designated time. He didn't even have the decency to look apologetic at the glares his Genin were sending him.

"Ah... A black cat crossed my path and I had to take the long way around." He answered the unasked question, smiling. They assumed he was smiling, anyway. You can't really tell when the only part of the face you can see is an eye.

Great. Not only is he late, he's making stupid excuses too. Sakura thought. "So what's this Survival Test about, sensei?" She asked, trying and failing to mask her annoyance.

In reply, Kakashi held up two bells. "Your aim is simple. Get the bells before the clock ticks twelve." He placed an alarm clock on top of a rock formation nearby.

"There are only two bells." Sakura frowned.

"Precisely. Didn't I tell you that this test had a sixty six percent fail rate? Two will pass, and one will fail, if you manage to take all the bells. None will pass if the bells remain in my possession. You get the idea." Kakashi told them with another one of his peculiar smiles. The Genin started sweating slightly at the proclamation. Well, Naruto and Sakura did, but Sasuke remained expressionless. Kakashi gestured at the two lunch boxes he had brought with him. "Only those who get the bells will be allowed to eat lunch. Those who fail will be tied to that post while the others eat lunch in front of them." He gestured at a post near a rock formation.

The Genin were reminded of how hungry they are at Kakashi's statement. They glared at the man who would dare to deny them lunch.

Kakashi chuckled and attached the bells to his belt. "When I say go, come at me with the intent to kill. You stand no chance otherwise."

The Genin tensed, awaiting the Jounin's signal. "Go." Kakashi said simply. Naruto dropped a smoke bomb from his pouch immediately. At the cover of the smoke, the three Genin vanished from sight.

Good, they have the basics down. Kakashi thought. Naruto had plenty of experience escaping from ANBU like that. Granted, most of the ANBU sent after him would be trainees in chunin level, but still, stealth and escape seems to be his forte. Kakashi walked towards a tall tree and leaned against it. Producing an orange coloured book from his weapon pouch, he began to read.

From his vantage point, Naruto watched incredulously as Kakashi began to read the little orange book, seemingly paying little attention to his surroundings. He's a Jounin. Naruto reminded himself. He took down Mizuki with one hit. As part of the academy curriculum, ninja aspirants like him would occasionally spar against their Chunin instructors, to give them a feel of what battling a real ninja was like. Spar would be a strong word, as what resulted would be a mostly one sided beat down. Even Sasuke, who was widely considered a genius, was yet to win against a Chunin level shinobi. From the night of the forbidden scroll incident, it became clear to Naruto that the gap between a Chunin and a Jounin was perhaps greater than that between a Genin and a Chunin. At least, this was true in Kakashi's case. What should I do? Naruto pondered.


Meanwhile, at the Senju Clan compound

Senju Tobirama, the Second Hokage, stood facing the five Shadow Clones that Naruto had left behind before he headed off to meet with his teammates and sensei. Tobirama could think of a million more productive ways to spend his time than to train a recently minted Genin. Granted, they were related, but he was Hokage, and he had to spend his time in a manner suiting the best benefit of the village. He had taken the Genin squad all those years ago due to the importance of educating the Sarutobi and Shimura Clan heirs and to appease the respective clans. He had grown to like his squad, but still his initial reasons were concerning the well being of the village.

His brother, however, was rather insistent that he train the boy while Hashirama studied the Shadow Reincarnation Technique. His brother's knowledge in fuinjutsu made him essential for the further betterment of the technique, and he would only persuaded to improve it if Tobirama were to take over Naruto's training for the day. Tobirama didn't have anything against Naruto. If anything, he wanted to help the boy. But his desires had no place when it comes to the village, and the village was everything to Tobirama. At present, however, his brother gave him no choice. He supposed he could spend some quality time with the young Uzumaki, training him.

"According to your academy records, your chakra control is poor." Tobirama stated, facing Naruto. "You have a large amount of chakra. This is partly due to your Uzumaki heritage. The Uzumaki clan members have a naturally strong chakra. In addition to that, the sealing technique that the Fourth Hokage used to seal the Kyuubi in you is designed so that small amount of its chakra seeps through the seal and mixes with yours. Thus you can utilize more chakra than what is naturally within you." Tobirama pre-empted Naruto's question. "Don't worry, this will not allow the Kyuubi to control you in any way. However, the chaotic nature of its chakra causes it to interfere with your own. This is the reason for your poor chakra control."

"Oh." Naruto didn't know what to say to that, really. He didn't understand half of it, but he did miraculously grasp the point. The Kyuubi's chakra was responsible for his poor control. "So what should I do?"

"You can work on chakra control exercises for a while. Controlling chakra is key to controlling ninjutsu and many other shinobi arts. You've done the basic chakra control exercises in the academy, I believe. We will now start with the Tree Climbing exercise."

"Tree... climbing?" One of the clones asked, trying and failing to keep the scepticism out of his voice.

"Without the use of your hands." Tobirama added, smirking slightly. Naruto just looked at him blankly. Tobirama walked towards a nearby tree, and without changing the pace, walked vertically upward. Gravity? Rot in hell.

The clones were positively gaping at this point. Come to think of it, I think I have seen some shinobi standing on the walls sometime. And I thought it was a Genjutsu of some sort.

"This works by channelling the chakra to your feet in a controlled manner. Channel too much chakra, and you will be propelled off of the surface. Too little, and you fall down. This can greatly help in bringing your chakra under control. You can imagine how useful this technique would be to shinobi." Tobirama explained.

"Okay, so we have to channel our chakra to our feet. Can't be too hard." A clone muttered. The others nodded.

"If you fall down from a tree, you will use a significant portion of your chakra to maintain the body after hitting the ground. If you run out of chakra in that manner, it'll cause the clone to be dispersed. This isn't an easy technique to master. It would be better if you first place your feet at the base of the tree and experiment on the amount of chakra required to stick to it. Concentration is of utmost importance in this exercise. If you lose your concentration for an instant, you will lose balance. You have to practice this until it becomes second nature to you." Tobirama nodded at the clones. "I'll leave you to it."

The clones nodded, determined to get this down in no time.


Training Ground Seven, 10:15 AM

Hatake Kakashi slowly turned another page of his book. "Gee, it sure is quiet around here. Wouldn't you say, ?" He said, eyeing a little squirrel that was nearing the tree he was leaning on. Said squirrel stiffened at being addressed. Most uncharacteristically, it jumped back when a shuriken embedded itself on the position it was a second ago. A puff of smoke later, Naruto stood in the place of the squirrel, an irritated look on his face.

"Alright, what gave me away?" He asked the Jounin. His best bet of a sneak attack failed. Not that he fully expected it to work. That would've been too easy.

"The sound of your footsteps, for one thing." Kakashi eyed his student. "Also, you disturbed the ground while walking. I could see the leaves and grass crumbling all around that 'squirrel'. Then there's your smell. Shall I go on?"

"Okay, okay, I get it." Naruto was beyond irritated now. Those same tricks worked on some of the rookie ANBU sent after him during one of his pranks. This guy, however...

"Nice try though." Kakashi complemented. "Would you like to leave and try again?"

"No thanks. I might not get this close next time." Naruto replied. Kakashi was about three foot away from him. Naruto jumped forward, his hand extending towards the bell. Before he could grab the bells, however, Kakashi vanished. Abruptly regaining his footing, Naruto blinked. Huh? Where did he go?

"Don't let your enemy get behind you." Naruto froze as a voice sounded from behind him. "Konoha Style: Secret technique-"

"Naruto, look out! He's using ninjutsu!" A voice he identified as Sakura's shouted from somewhere in the vicinity. Before he could replace himself, however, Kakashi had completed his technique. "- One thousand years of Death!"

Kakashi smirked in satisfaction as his fingers made contact with Naruto's underside. His satisfaction however, vanished when his target disappeared in a puff of smoke. Clever little brat. So he can use Shadow Clones, as the Hokage said.

Naruto had to stop himself from screaming out as his Shadow Clone disappeared. It seems that the memory transfer worked in ways that are non beneficial too. I'm gonna get him for that. He seethed.

Sakura recoiled in disgust at their sensei's supposed ninjutsu. She blinked as Naruto disappeared in a puff of smoke. Substitution? But what did he substitute with?


Training Ground Seven, 10:30 AM

A single feminine shriek tore through the relatively quiet training ground, causing Naruto and Sasuke to stiffen in surprise. They identified the sound to be that of their female team member, Sakura.

Looks like he's started his hunt. Sasuke gritted his teeth. No matter how long he waited, Kakashi wouldn't show an opening. He cursed silently as the Kakashi he was looking at vanished. Sasuke realized that he had been spying on a clone for some time now, while the real Kakashi went out to get Sakura. His conscience warred against reason. He identified horror in Sakura's voice. But he might get himself caught if he moved into the open. Besides, it could be a trap. He reasoned.

A minute later, Sasuke got up from his hiding place. I'm probably going to regret this. He thought to himself. Whatever. If Kakashi decides to attack, I'll fight back. That seems to be the only option, since even Naruto's well planned sneak attack failed. Sasuke had to admire the brilliancy of Naruto's plan. He didn't suspect a thing when that squirrel got close to Kakashi. Who would've guessed that the class dead last would use the Transformation technique like that? Still, it wasn't enough.

Steeling his resolve, Sasuke got to the location of the scream under the cover of trees and bushes. He saw Naruto stooping over Sakura, concern evident in his face. I should've known he'd be here.

"What happened?" Sasuke asked, walking towards Naruto and an unconscious Sakura.

"I don't know. She looks fine. But she was passed out when I got here." Naruto said, frowning.

"Genjutsu, probably." Sasuke surmised. Placing his index and middle fingers on Sakura's forehead, he muttered "Kai." He released a pulse of his chakra through Sakura's chakra system, disrupting it and freeing her from the genjutsu.

Sakura groaned slightly as she opened her eyes. Upon seeing Sasuke, she promptly sat up and hugged him, saying "You're alive!"

"Hey! What about me?" Naruto asked jokingly. Sakura just sent him a glare. Sasuke extracted himself from Sakura's grip, scowling and regretting his choice to come here. "Alright. Now that that's over with, I'm outta here. That guy leaves no choice but direct combat." Sasuke told them, walking away.

"You seriously think you have a chance of touching him?" Naruto asked, raising an eyebrow. Sasuke seethed.

"Got any better ideas?" He asked, not turning around. He had analysed the Jounin from his position, and there was no openings to exploit. After witnessing Kakashi's speed in dodging Naruto's assault, his hopes were dashed. How can he win against someone who can move faster than the eye can see?

"I don't know!" Naruto exclaimed, frustrated. "I'm out of ideas after what I pulled. If he saw through my Transformation jutsu that easily, and he can move faster than I can react, how am I supposed to beat him? And I know the same goes for you." Sasuke admittedly had much better Taijutsu and reaction times as compared to Naruto. But it wouldn't come anywhere close to Kakashi's.

Sakura didn't like Sasuke being talked down to, but Naruto had a point. "But it's a test. A test is supposed to have an answer, right?" Sakura asked, more to herself.

Sasuke turned around. "And the answer is...?" He asked, raising a questioning eyebrow.

Naruto pondered that. What could be the answer? "This is stupid. I mean if they want us to compete for the bells against a Jounin, then why did they put us in a team in the... first...place?" Realization dawned on him as he said the last part. He then proceeded to slap his face over and over again, muttering "stupid stupid stupid..."

Naruto's teammates bemusedly watched Naruto's self imposed punishment. "Yes, we know you're stupid. So what?" Sasuke asked, irritated.

"He practically told me the answer" Naruto muttered, more to himself than for the sake of others. He faced his teammates. "We have to work together. Teamwork is the key."

"What? There are only two bells!" Sakura protested. Sasuke however, widened his eyes in realization. He felt like slapping himself, just like Naruto. "He deliberately created conflict." Sasuke said out loud, causing Naruto to nod.

Ah, man! Hashirama-ojii almost spelled out the answer for me! Naruto thought to himself. 'You're teammates, so you have to stick together.' Naruto repeated in his mind, recalling his conversation with Hashirama the night before. The First even emphasized the last part of the sentence, but he didn't think much of it at the moment.

'Teamwork' was almost a foreign concept to Sasuke. He was always alone after that night. His life's goal was to kill him, and nothing else mattered. He distanced himself from everyone else so that he wouldn't come and kill them as well. He worked alone. But even he could see logic. The Jounin's skills were in a whole other level. As he was right now, they stood no chance alone. But together, perhaps... He grimaced.

Sakura digested the information. Now that she thought about it, the answer was simple. Iruka sensei had even told them yesterday that they would be completing missions with their respective Genin teams. Of course team work is important.


Training Ground Seven, 11:15 AM

Kakashi stifled a yawn as he turned another page in his beloved book. It was not that the book was boring, far from it. But he was kind of expecting to be attacked at any moment, but he kept getting disappointed. Did they all fall asleep? He wondered. He expected the Uchiha boy to try by now, at least so that he wouldn't feel out done by the supposed 'dead last'.

He casually tilted his head sideways as a kunai embedded itself on the tree. He was, however, taken by surprise when this started a whole round of attacks, from all around him. Shadow Clones. Kakashi rolled his eyes. He deflected all the projectiles aimed at him with a single kunai. Holding a few shuriken, he swept his right hand in a wide arc, releasing the shuriken one by one. Six distinct pops were heard, indicating that all six of the attacking clones were dismissed. All the while, he was still reading the little orange book. Why is he the only one trying? Kakashi wondered.

Naruto flinched from his position as the memory of six clones assaulted him in a second. "He took them all out with a shuriken each. Without looking up from his book." Naruto informed his teammates. Sakura's heart sank at the news while Sasuke grimaced.

"As I thought. He has excellent reaction time." Sasuke had suggested that Naruto send a few clones to scout their opposition after Naruto revealed his latest trick to his teammates. They didn't want to ruin their chance by outright attacking the Jounin. They intended to keep the fact that they were working together a secret until the last second so that their Jounin would be caught by surprise.

"So I guess it's time to begin operation S.P.A.M." Naruto grinned, forming a cross shaped seal. "Multiple Shadow clone jutsu!"


Kakashi tensed as he heard the sound of many silent footsteps converging around his location. Unlike last time, this was not a small scale attack. The footsteps were soft, but he could tell that there were many of them. Kakashi estimated about twenty of them were now surrounding him.

As one, about twenty of Naruto's Shadow Clones charged towards the Jounin. They'll be too weak in such large numbers. They'll only last a minute or two even if they don't receive any damage. With this thought, Kakashi kept swatting any of the clones that came close to him in rapid succession. They have terrible form. Kakashi noted. Naruto's taijutsu was coarse and unrefined, and couldn't even get near him to attack. At least, that's what he thought, until one of the clones dodged his blow and got a step closer than the rest. Undeterred, Kakashi aimed a punch at the clone's midriff. He was caught by surprise when the clone redirected the punch with his left hand while the right went for the bell. Narrowing his eyes, Kakashi's foot made contact with the clone, but not before the clone managed to grasp a bell. The Jounin regretted his choice to continue reading the book as the 'clone' was now in possession of a bell. It was dragged through dirt by the force of the kick. Kakashi blinked as the 'clone' was enveloped in a puff of smoke, and a smirking Sasuke was in its place.

Never in the history of the bell test... Kakashi thought, smirking to himself slightly. He was, however, caught by surprise when Sasuke began to form hand seals, signifying the Uchiha clan's famous jutsu, Fire Release: Great Fireball.

He should't be able to do that, he's just a genin! Kakashi thought to himself, slightly shocked. He made a quick substitution to avoid being charred by the technique. However, a few of Naruto's clones were not so lucky. So they have one bell and still working together. Well, would be if Sakura had done something...

Kakashi had to substitute himself again as he was forced to dodge a barrage of shuriken from one of the few remaining clones. Naruto doesn't have such a good aim. Kakashi thought, recalling the attack the previous attacks by the Shadow Clones. He eyed the Naruto clone in suspicion. So that's where you are, Sakura. He jumped down from the tree he was hiding in to avoid another attack from Sasuke. Deciding to take care of the remaining clones, Kakashi disappeared from his position and reappeared in the midst of the three remaining clones. He gave them each a bang on the head. Two of them dispersed. The third, however, ignored it and shot his hand towards the remaining bell. Kakashi was half expecting this, however, and caught Naruto's hand right in time. Not stopping, he twisted the hand so that Naruto was forced to turn his back on him. Kakashi immediately hit Naruto's knees, causing him to crumple on his feet. The Jounin had now restrained Naruto with a kunai pointed at the back of his head.

"Stand down Sasuke, Sakura." Kakashi ordered. Realizing the position the Jounin had Naruto in, they froze. "Good. Now stay still until the time is up or your teammate will pay the price." He said in a threatening manner. He was satisfied when neither Sasuke nor Sakura twitched, although Naruto was silently cursing to himself. Moments later, the alarm went off, signifying the end of the test.

Kakashi released Naruto and smiled at the glaring Genin. "You pass, Sasuke and Naruto. Sakura, you fail."

All three of the Genin gaped at Kakashi's proclamation. Naruto protested. "But I didn't get the bell either. Why are you failing only Sakura?"

"You and Sasuke worked together to get the bell. The strategy would've failed without either one. Sakura didn't contribute to that, and only engaged me once throughout the confrontation. As I see it, the two of you are ready to be Genin, but Sakura needs another year to sort out her priorities."

Sasuke shook his head. "Sakura came up with the idea of disguising us along with Naruto clones. We wouldn't have a strategy in the first place without her. Either we all pass or we all fail." He said resolutely. Naruto nodded vigorously in agreement.

"It's okay, guys. I didn't do anything." Sakura's voice quivered as she said that. "You two deserve to pass."

"Nope. No chance. Not going on without you, Sakura-chan!" Naruto said fiercely. Sasuke smirked, showing his agreement.

"Well, you leave me with no choice then." Kakashi said, looking at them without revealing any emotion. "You all pass!" His demeanour suddenly relaxed, and his face (?) reflected pride. Contrary to his expectations, however, the Genin didn't look all that surprised at the proclamation. They were cheering, but they looked like they more or less expected it. Kakashi swelled with pride.

"Alright!" Naruto cheered. "Operation S.P.A.M, success!"

"S.P.A.M?" Kakashi quirked an eyebrow.

Sakura rolled her eyes. "Shadow clone Powered Attack Manoeuvre" She elaborated.

Kakashi smiled at the rather imaginative name. Sounds like a name you'd come up with, Minato Sensei. "Since you don't seem surprised, I suppose you understand the true meaning of the test?" Kakashi asked his Genin.

Naruto nodded. "Teamwork, right?"

Kakashi smiled. "Indeed. Until you're all promoted to Chunin, this team will be your family. Someone who leaves a teammate behind to complete a mission isn't worth being a ninja in my eyes. Rules are important, and those who don't follow the rules are considered as trash in the shinobi world. But those who abandon their comrades, they're worse than trash."

Naruto was broadly grinning by the end of Kakashi's little speech. He liked that philosophy. Sasuke's expression didn't give away much, but it was clear that he was pleased that they had arrived at the right answer. Sakura was fawning over Sasuke, declaring that nothing can separate them anymore. Kakashi sweat dropped. I'll have to work on that.

The Jounin coughed to get the attention of the Genin. "The test I gave you today is traditionally called the Bell Test. The Third Hokage gave this same test to his students, the Legendary Sannin. You've undoubtedly heard of them." Kakashi said. His students nodded, as the Legendary Sannin were just that. Legendary. "Lord Jiraiya of the Sannin gave the same test to his students, and the Fourth Hokage, Lord Jiraiya's student, gave this test to my team. You could say that it's a tradition passed through the generations." Kakashi added. His students looked awestruck at this piece of news. They were part of a tradition that made legends like the Sannin and the Fourth Hokage, not to mention their sensei.

"Woah! So the Fourth was your teacher?" Naruto asked. Admiration was clear in his voice.

"Yes, he was a great man." Kakashi lost himself in thought, his eyes never leaving Naruto's headband. "So you have a great deal to live up to. Though I have to say, none of these teams I've mentioned deciphered the meaning of this test as quickly as you did." He said with pride. "So congratulations!"

The Genin cheered, glad that their teacher had such high expectations for them. "Don't worry Kakashi sensei! Your team will also give birth to legends. Like me, for example. The Greatest Hokage ever!" Naruto seemed to be picturing himself in that position, a grin never leaving his face. Sakura rolled her eyes, though even Sasuke didn't make fun of him. Naruto's performance today had earned their respect.


Hokage's Office, 12:30 PM

"Team Seven, consisting of Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto pass with flying colours." Kakashi declared, much to the shock of almost everyone else in the room. Sarutobi Asuma dropped his cigarette in shock. Yuuhi Kurenai was looking at Kakashi like he grew two heads. Umino Iruka's jaw hit the ground, and Maito Gai was... shouting about the power of YOUTH!

The Third Hokage wished he had a camera to record everyone's faces as Kakashi said that. He too would be surprised, if he hadn't taken a peak at the exam in progress with his Telescope Technique. The team, after all, carried important traditions. He was waiting to see one of them tied to a post, but he was pleasantly surprised. He had a good feeling about this team. They passed each and every one of Kakashi's tests for teamwork. First, they teamed up despite the test's design to generate conflict in them. Then, they went to look for Sakura when she was in danger. Afterwards, they stopped their attack when they realized that their teammate, Naruto, was in danger. They refused to abandon Sakura when Kakashi singled her out. All in all, it was the best result one could hope for from a shinobi cell.


Senju Clan compound

Afternoon found Naruto in the clan compound, glaring at a tree like it was his mortal enemy. After he recounted the incidents of the Bell test to the Hokage, he was congratulated by both. He felt a warm sensation rise up in his stomach at that moment. The Second then reminded him that he might want to get back to tree climbing after he was sufficiently rested. His clones had all dispersed by the time he had lunch, as this exercise used up chakra fast. Now that he was rested and ready, he was about to tackle the challenge with everything he had.

Creating four clones beside him, Naruto rushed towards the tree, recalling the amount of chakra needed to stick to the tree. He remembered getting as far as five steps from his clones memories, and a significant portion of the tree still lay ahead of him. Concentrating, Naruto climbed and counted the steps as he went. ...four, five, six, se-

A loud thud was heard as Naruto hit the ground again. He was excited at his sudden progress, and that caused him to lose concentration and fall. His clones too lost their concentration when he fell down, but Naruto noted that his progress had almost doubled.

When I dispersed the clones, their experience helped me to get higher. Though, Naruto noted, this wasn't as effective as it was for fuinjutsu practice. The clones had all progressed roughly by the same amount during their training. He just gained more practice at it, but this method won't be as useful here as it was in fuinjutsu. Still, it's good practice.

Getting up, Naruto once again rushed towards his tall challenge. The road to success is filled with many failures, though Naruto wished they weren't this painful. Ouch.


Ending notes:

If you find anything wrong with the way Naruto is characterized, please let me know through your reviews. I know that my characterization is different from canon, but I can't help it. However, I have been informed that Naruto here follows different logic structures during different situations. Thank you 'sendicard', for bringing this to my attention. I've decided to publish this chapter anyway so that there would be more material to base his character on. What do you think of Naruto's character? Is the characterization inconsistent? Please tell me where I'm going wrong.