"Fuck you, Sasuke!" The pointed ends of the blond's hair hardened turning into piercing blades. His voice broke into a shattering howl like a wild beast wanting to get away from its prison. His fists curled, his fingers feeling the flowing veins on his closed palms. Like a beast driven by madness, Naruto's posture lowered as if ready to pounce at his prey if it continued to talk.

"Shut up, you turd," said the other ninja. Similar to the beastly Naruto, Sasuke adapted a primitive snarl towards the opponent. "I don't need your help." As he stated those words, he launched a kunai directly left at Naruto's head, hitting the hidden creature creeping against the blond. Sasuke's eyes didn't towards the fallen monkey revealed by the moonlight to know the creature was dead: The putrid odor of rotten meat told the rookie ninja.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes at their first mission, which was stopping a group of midnight monkeys from destroying the properties in the northern part of Konoha. He loathed the smell the monkeys gave out: They fucking smelled like three week old meat every time he killed a monkey. Furthermore, midnight monkeys have very short gestation periods of five days with infants reaching maturity in two days. After two week, Hokage Tower approved the mission to eliminate these creatures.. In addition after killing those creatures, they collected the cadavers because the rotting death would stay smelling for an entire year.

Staying up for nearly twenty hours, he felt his temper flaring being stuck hunting the monkeys for three hours and grouped with one of the most annoying people around; he grumbled in disgust at his teammate. "I want to finish this as soon as possible. You being here is only slowing me down."

He thought, it was more fucking logical if both of them went after the monkeys on their own.

"Again, Kakashi-sensei said to stay close to you. Plus unlike you, I know Shadow Clone, and I already send out clones to help," said Naruto, who snorted against the annoying tone of his teammate. Naruto thought, they reached a tentative understanding with each other when Sasuke called him by his name. The brooding asshole returned back to his regular prick self.

"Then maybe you should have gone with your clones. You're the one who need helps especially since those clones are your only friends" said Sasuke, spitting back the insult Naruto gave him.

"Fuck you, Sasuke!" A more vicious snarl appeared on Naruto's features. "You're an asshole who thinks everything comes from his ass because of what you're family has done. Well, sorry to break it to you, ass-wipe, but you're not them!" The creases in his face etched deeper as if carving a hallow dusk.

Those black eyes turned prominent with the aide of the natural darkness, and the intense emotions surfaced onto those eyes. "You don't know me Naruto!" Those smothering eyes glowered, wanting the organs inside the blond to rot like those monkeys. "You might have been an orphan, but I had a family. A father! A mother! A brother! Then, one day they're gone." The sheer bitterness in the brooding ninja's voice that made something in Naruto explode: it was like a volcano, wanting to release its flowing lava from its depths. "They were murdered in cold blood like lambs. My brother fought the hardest against that demon, but in the end, he fell like the rest of my clan. How can you, a stupid orphan, understand the pain of losing family one day? Answer me that, Naruto."

Naruto knew what the feeling Sasuke was making him feel: anger. At least he had the enjoy of knowing his family loved him. An unadulterated anger coursed through his body just as if Naruto heard someone say his biological father's name. "You think you're the only one that suffered! Bullshit. All of us suffered! You're not the only person in this world that suffered. Oh I understand that you lost your family, but at least you knew that your family loved you."

Unknown to the two fighting teammates, the rest of the team heard Naruto's lines when Kakashi and Sakura decided to come over after finishing their section. Sakura wanted to walk towards them but Kakashi stopped her, rooting her place on the ground. She turned around and saw the shaking head from the teacher. "They have to sort out their own differences in order to work as a team," said Kakashi.

As the two were watching, the boy continued arguing with each other before they reluctantly left each other to get the monkeys themselves. Sakura could feel their teacher do a heavy sigh, and she looked at the other two for one last time before she went to looking for more monkeys herself. She rubbed her shins. Like what Yuugao suggested, she needed to practice the motions of her taijutsu. She didn't have the same stamina or have Shadow Clones like Naruto, who could go through motions and stances without any stop or the sheer genius of Sasuke-kun or the experience of Hinata.

She had her own worries to deal with. She would reach that graceful sight she saw in Hinata; she wanted to touch and to be that beautiful figure.

In the rich darkness the night provided, Kakashi wondered how he could connect his team together because they wouldn't be able to beat Team Ten as they are. Seeing how his genins dispose the midnight monkeys with hunter vivacity, they already had the potential to do regular C-rank missions. He needed some way of making everyone in his team understand that in order to survive against the world they have to depend on each other. Like a light illuminating from moon against the veil of darkness, an idea shed his doubts away.

Now what he needed was the permission of the Hokage and Kurenai as he saw the sun rising from the distance. It was finally time to finish their mission...

...Even he would admit that this mission was a pain. Whatever, another nighttime mission done, Kakashi thought.

As Kurenai watched Team Eight's first mission of fixing fences, she noted both of her quieter students becoming unfocused. They stared off into the vacant sky. Despite the short amount of time she actually gotten to know her team, she thought they were having an off day, but as soldiers, her duty to discipline them on their unawareness came first. She rose her hand mid-air to halt her team, and she mustered her most sternest tone directly calling out on them. "Why are you two so out of focus?"

Her unique crimson eyes noticed Shino subtly moving his left leg around before stopping. After moments of waiting for a response, Shino finally said, "I'm sorry. I'll not let it happen again." While Kurenai moved her sight towards Hinata, the quiet heiress quickly widened her eyes before setting on a neutral expression then she nodded. Unseen by her students, she clutched her hands. Her roles as their teacher filled her with tiredness because their young lives depended on her; she needed to be the rock that held the team together despite the awkwardness she felt at how she handled the situation. As she 'let' them go, she saw the other two finally setting out to help the dog user.

She sighed trying to think what she could do, her mind thinking of presenting herself in their lives more. 'Maybe, I should get some advice from their home teacher. I think his name was Iruka.'

When they sufficiently processed with their mission, they reported in to one of the assistants on the completion of their first D-rank mission. As she walked over to another assistant playing something on his desk, the man looked, her body feeling his eyes lingering on her legs and breasts. She breezily shook off the glancing. "Hello, I'll like to request a D-rank mission, and any sort of mission would do," said Kurenai.

She didn't flash her ninja identification when she got to the man. Spotting on the corner of her eyes, she saw several teachers, some colleagues she was familiar and some she was not, waiting for assignments. Her students stood outside, away from the incoming ninjas. She even saw first time chunin squad leaders coming in for a mission, which reminded her the first time she became a chunin, a survey mission gone wrong when enemy ninjas caught them. She shook her head.

"Sure, sure. Let me get the forms of approved missions for D-ranks," said the man, who was still keeping an eye on the beautiful woman. Despite breathing in her lavish fragrance and sight, the man quickly pulled out several documents that had details appropriate for a genin squad. "Okay, so there's one mission to get some grocery for an elder couple, one for getting wild-berries for a store, and one for hunting two forest lynxes as a designer wants skin for material."

Without any hesitation, she said, "let me get the one for the lynxes." Unknown to her, the man was slightly getting turned on. Beautiful yet deadly. Those words came into the man's mind. Most teachers would start their students on very mundane and simple D-rank mission, yet this woman wanted to her students to experience hunting.

How very, very exciting.

"Okay, here you go." He handed the form over to Kurenai. She looked over the details and smiled.

"Thank you," said Kurenai, leaving the working man for another requesting teacher. As she got back to her team, they quietly muttered among themselves even the wild Kiba. They saw her coming near them, and Hinata stood up followed by the other two.

Before the young girl could say anything, Kurenai stopped her. "I'm sorry if I was harsh; however, I need all three of you to focus on any given mission because that's one of the differences between failure and success. So, now you know, I expect each one of you to keep focus on the mission and set aside any personal feelings that might hinder the outcome. Now come along."

With saying another word, the young students went after the illusive teacher. They hastily moved, trying to catch up with their teacher, yet she moved much faster. Moving pass the mingling crowds and varying buildings, Kiba, Hinata, Shino, and Akamaru practically sprinted when their teacher decided to enter an alleyway. As they ran into the southern section edge of the village, Kurenai stopped, turning to the her charges with the growing forest scenery behind her. She held up the picture the mission form had on type of lynx the request wanted. "This are the lynxes we have to capture."

"Is that all?" Kiba questioned the teacher, his guts getting a funny feeling about this mission. Akamaru agreed with him by barking and folding his ears over his eyes with his paws. Hinata stood behind the males with uncertainty; Shino stood with soldier posture, his body awaiting for the signal.

They saw their teacher with her tiny smirk; her lips tinted with cleverness. "Of course until I gave out more orders, Kiba. Once you have entered the forest, there are many unknown elements out there, and many forest creatures are tricksters. So my advice is be careful on trying to rely on your senses," said Kurenai, vanishing like a ghost after someone saw its form.

The four remaining members of the team blinked. Shine said, "she's completely gone because my insects can't sense her anywhere. Would you confirm it as well, Hinata?" In a private conversation with his scouts, they told Shino the person they were chasing was not really their teacher. But considering the fact their teacher seemed to utilize genjutsu, there was high chance this mission would be another small test she wanted from them. Underneath his high-collar jacket, a small flicker of a smirk emerged from Shino.

Doing as what their unofficial leader said, Hinata activated her bloodline limit and scanned the trees meters away from their spot, yet no trance of their teacher anywhere lingered. "Yes, Shino-kun is correct. Kurenai-sensei is nowhere to be found."

"Darn, even Akamaru can't smell her location out," said Kiba, translating the barks and growls from the pup of the group.

"Then, I believe what Kurenai-sensei is trying to say is we complete the mission without her guidance."

Seeing the chance to become the leader of the group, Kiba said, "alright, I'm going to be in charge."

Akamaru shook his head the suggestion or the idea of Kiba becoming the groups's leader. "No way. You don't trust me, Akamura?" said Kiba with a grin. Akamaru barked that even both Hinata and Shino could understand as Shino being more reliable as the leader.

Letting out a small smile, Hinata said, "I do agree with Akamaru. Kiba-kun, you might be a good leader, but I do think Shino would more suitable as our leader." New energy entered Hinata's body as laughter from the team filled the vast space. She felt the heaviness from the training yesterday leaving her body as she continued talking with her teammates. Being outnumbered by his team and knowing Shino's qualities as a leader, Kiba said, "yeah, I figured the Strategist would be the leader." He smiled at his teammate with his toothy grin.

As everyone looked over at Shino, he pushed up his specs and said, "why must you call me Strategist?"

"I call ya dat 'cause it such a rad name to call ya by."

Shino shrugged at the comments; he signaled them to embark on their small yet monstrous mission, marking the day Team Eight became a true ninja group.

Once again during the two weeks since she gotten wounded, Yuugao set near the beeping machines and the prying eyes of the ninjas around her. The wires itched her flesh, its invasive beeps monitoring her person. In her honest opinion, it was ridiculous that they had to keep observing her like a lab animal. As much as she wanted to get out already, she stayed for the greater good of Konoha.

"As you stated before, you're feeling better after two days? Have you felt any effects recently?" said a white clothed ninja. She stared at his tinted goggles as he skillfully examined her arm without wasting both of their time. When he said his question, he grabbed some notes near the beeping machine from his right.

"Yes after the initial contact with the sword, it took one day until I could fully mold chakra in the affected area of my body. I feel perfectly normal, not seeing any more problems in molding chakra or anything physical. "

"I see. Thank you for your cooperation during these two weeks and the annoying questions. This is probably the last time we'll see you in awhile. From what the scans, you're perfectly fine to do mission fit to your ABNU operative rank. There are no signs of anything that could harm you in the future from the wound, at least that's what the scans are showing."

She didn't even batter her eyes when he said her rank because the people in this Research and Development, the branch of the Medical Department of Konoha, knew the current ranks of their patients. The more important question in her mind was if she had any adverse effect. "Do you mean I could still get some side effects, even if signs aren't showing up?"

"To be honest, we're dealing with an unknown substance something we, as a research department, haven't seen before. We don't know any effects it may have on your body. But we do have the best scanning technology around; we're sure that right now you're perfectly healthy." Yuugao nodded as the research medic ninja continued writing some notes. Moments later, the medic ninja got up and released the wires. "Okay, you're all good; however, if you feel pain on your arm, come back here."

"Have a good day, doctor," she said, getting up from her seat. The doctor slightly tilted his head; a trait he excessively did before leaving the room.

Stretching for a moment, she ran out of the Research and Development Department, intending to meet her fiance in the restaurant for their wedding. As she maneuvered her way to the busy, crowed Konoha street, she stopped as she spotted a small twinkle inside a small shop. Like a fly attracted to light, she did not even noticed her surrounding as she moved closer to the small twinkle, wanting to find out what was making her go to that spot. When she entered the dainty shop, her toffee colored irises encountered the trinkets proudly displayed around the shop.

Yet none of the toys around had the same radiance as the one tiny figurine of two birds with the mirror moon near the window. Getting closer to the figurine, her vision took in the fine craftsman detail of the Tiger Owl and Hooded Crow. The scenery seemed so contradictory, but there was something that worked in them. The miniscule white orb jewelry acting like eyes of the birds, the wooden carving of the bodies with every feather so intricately shaped, the metal trees caressing the moon up, and the mirror cleanly shining while drawing in light; those fine, miniscule details enticed her.

But as soon as she touched the surface of the mirror, she flicked her hand away as if the figurine breathe with life.

She ran out of the shop, away from that pure essence of art and unaware of the eyes following her movements since she entered the shop. The owner of the eyes walked to the same spot where that figure awed his creation. Oh how, her eyes danced with mirth, and her breath gave more life to his masterpiece. If he could, he would want to meet that beautiful woman once again. He could still make out her figure despite the oncoming and crowing mobs of people on the streets.

Oh, she knew why she ran away from the shop.

Such a beautiful figurine shouldn't be terminated by her hands.

Her time and the acts she done as a ANBU operative made her hands so blood-stained that she had no right to touch any that pure. Maybe, that was the reason why she was moving towards it like some careless fowl towards food seemingly laying on the ground.

She hugged herself because she didn't want to destroy that figurine with her hands. She already destroyed so many lives. The images of those children dead with their hallow eyes staring at the sky without the brilliance of life haunted her waking moment. It was truly her fault that those precious genin dead. Despite only knowing Sakura and Naruto for weeks now, imagining them among the dead made her sick. Their lives were just beginning just like those genin, and for them to suddenly die by her mistake, she knew she would not be able to cage those nightmares away.

Everything she touched would die. That idea weighed too much. The gravity of death and dread sunk into her bones, making her unable to control the shaking and shivering of her body. The crowds of people mostly ignored the woman from her breakdown.

A familiar cough made way into her hazy ears that was muting away the mundane sounds of the crowds. "I knew I would find you here, Yuugao." His familiar touch made way into her guarded posture by gently stroking her hands until her fingers freed themselves. He intertwined her frost fingers with his warmth, and he engulfed her shivering frame with his firm embrace, protecting her against the horrors of the images. "Yuugao, you deserve happiness." Despite the scripted way the voice sound like this scenery was commonplace, the rawness of the voice conveyed the emotions needed for Yuugao to stop crying.

She lifted her watery eyes at her fiance's dependable features. "Hayate, how can I? Because of me, I let so many genin out there die. I made a mistake in putting my trust into one man. I should have been put on trial for my actions," said Yuugao.

"You already repented. By mastering the Leaf Style and medical techniques while honing your sensor skills and completing missions, everyone in Konoha knows how much you hated yourself and how much you make amends," said Hayate, whispering more soothing words into her being.

Everyone their age and older knew the Sorrow of Akagahara, the devastating event of Konoha losing their genin populace by half. "Everyone knows it was not your fault. Sabiru was the traitor, not you. He planned that event, not you. You deserve happiness, not him."

He wiped away the tears forming on the edge of her eyes. She smiled and said, "thank you, Hayate."

"Anytime for the strongest woman I know." He said while coughing.

Kiba hated the area he came upon. He kept sneezing as the heavily dense spores coming from flowers assaulted his nose. Even poor Akamaru, who was covering his sensitive nose with his paws, fiercely reacted to the pollen gathering around the area. The dense spores surrounding the place limited their sights as well.

"Akamaru, are ya sure that this is the right place? There are too many scents around right that I cannot pick up Kurenai-sensei any where. So are ya really sure?" Despite Akamaru mostly disabled, the puppy growled at Kiba. "Okay, okay," said the Inuzuka clan member.

As more pollen assaulted their noses, they continued sneezing at the pain their body parts are experiencing. Both friends knew they want to finish the mission as soon as possible, so they would no longer be suffering at the hands of this demonic area. Narrowing his eyes, Kiba could make out silhouettes of two animals, yet Akamaru was warning him about something. "Com'on, ya not scary of some cats, are ya?"

Getting closer, Kiba knew those shadowy contours were the lynxes. The haze made the flowers dispensed when Kiba put his face too near the silhouettes, revealing a group of mushrooms. "You're relying to heavily on your sense of sight and smell," said the distinct voice of his teacher.

Both Kiba and Akamaru jumped, feeling the unnoticeable invasion of privacy from the woman. "K-Kurenai-sensei, when did ya appear?"

She tutted at the boy's question. "Kiba-kun, you're not going to be a high ranking ninja if you only rely on those senses." The woman took out a shuriken, twirling it around her elongated digits before throwing at the pair. Lucky for them, they dodged the incoming weapon by rolling away.

He got up armed with a pair of kunai and said,"what's going on, Kurenai-sensei?" He tried to focus despite the clouds of spores limiting his vision and smell. No adrenaline coursed through his body as he nearly got pierced by the projectile.

"Kiba-kun, this is training. T.R.A.I.N.I.N.G," said the woman, silently moving closer to Kiba while stressing every word.

He backed away. "Who are ya?"

"Now that's the right question, Kiba-kun," said the woman. "Never truly depend on two senses, you have to rely on all of your senses." With her last comment, Kurenai faded away from existence with the help of surreal haze.

Thinking that his teacher was playing a game with him, he did not notice that Akamaru was nowhere near him or the roots from the flowers were rapidly growing. The roots latched onto Kiba like a clingy girlfriend or rabid fangirl afraid to leave her most precious person. "Holy shit," said Kiba before the roots encapsulated his being.

He grew more fearful every time he struggled against the roots, the controlled plants tightening their hold on him. He tried calling for help, yet no sound came out of his mouth as if something muted his vocal cords from vibrating. He kept calling for his team, for Akamaru, for Hinata, for Shino, for anybody until his face sweat red with his veins around his neck pulsing harder.

He gave out one last feeble attempt for help with the roots coming closer to his face. He closed his eyes hoping to whatever higher power there was in the world to save him from his awful predicament. He gave out a whimper when he felt those creepy smooth fibers explosively crawl across his face. He prayed even harder as he was feeling those roots forcing their way into his mouth.

He was not so ready to be a victim like those side characters in man-eating plants comics he read.

Like a flash of lighting, the sensations of those invading fibers no longer graced his face. Blinking to see if some divine being saved his ass, relief washed over his body when he saw his stoic teammate. "What took ya so long, Strategist?" Kiba tried playing cool, so his teammate would not notice the unsteady beat of his heart.

Shino merely pushed back his glasses. "Our teacher's genjutsu is harder to break than I thought." As Shino said his words, Akamaru jumped while licking Kiba's face, drenching the boy with sticky saliva.

"Where were ya, bud? I could have really used yer help earlier," said Kiba, his fingers rubbing the ears of Akamaru. "So Strategist have ya found the lynxes yet?"

"No, I have not found anything. I did encounter some traps from Kurenai-sensei. It seem my plan of separating to cover more ground is working against us."

"Don't worry about it. Ya really couldn't have known about our teacher's intentions." Getting up from his position, Kiba started sniffing for their other teammate with Akamaru along his side as the haze from the flowers miraculously vanished.

"Are you able to locate Hinata?" Kiba nodded at Shino's question and ran in full speed as he tracked Hinata's scent. Going further south from their place after the rows and rows of monotone green trees, they stopped when an intense drop of temperature filled the area. The change did not come from the environment but from someone they know.

"Who is that? She looks like Hinata!"

Shino merely looked at Kiba as if the boy couldn't really see who the person was. "That person is really Hinata." Away from the normal, shy Hinata, the person standing there was a proud lioness with her noble eyes honing on a prey. Despite just standing still, she emitted a pressuring presence throughout the area.

Kiba blinked not being able to associate his gentle classmate to this being. "You're kidding, right?"

"No, I never joke with these situations," Shino said. "Like us, she's been taught the ways of her clan since she was younger. Didn't you know Hinata is the successor of the Hyuuga Main Family?"

That was the only sentence Kiba needed to understand. He certainly did not know his classmate was of the Main Family. Then again, politics and inner workings of clans were not his favorite subjects since he did not have to deal with clan issues. That was his sister's territory. But every clan knew the power of the Main Family. "Then why did she never show it in our classes together?"

"Our academy exempted her from our taijutsu session. You just never noticed because you played around more often. Moreover, her other skills were not up-to-par with her taijutsu if you're thinking why she wasn't the top kunoichi of our year." The quiet boy's remark came faster than Kiba's parting lips. "Let's go, Kiba, we should help out Hinata." Kiba and Shino rushed near Hinata's side without a second thought. Kiba sniffed around the area while Shino sent out some of his drone bugs. Hinata barely blinked or relaxed when she saw her teammates.

"Yo Hinata, what's happening?"

"Kurenai-sensei. She approached me, but she tried using an genjutsu on me. Then, she disappeared again." Kiba, although, noted her voice slowly decreasing in volume. Her stance fizzed into withdrawal with lowered shoulders and curled fingers around the helm of her sweater.

The normal image of Hinata replaced the sight he encountered before.

Shino pushed them away from their spot as a whirling pillar of black hair emerged from the ground. The hair receded revealing their beautiful teacher. "As you advance in more into your career as ninjas, the more the unknowns increase as the higher rank your missions become. I'll do my very best to give you the skills to survive the most difficult missions out there," said Kurenai without battering her eyes at the expressions shown by her students.

The youngsters gawked at the duality their teacher showed them. She constantly changed expressions and attitudes towards them that it was hard to truly see their teacher was truly like. "So this as the reason for why you disappear on us?" Shino asked recovering from body-slamming his teammates.

The faintest curved lips from Kurenai befuddled her students. "Yes, there will be some cases where I'll not be there. Only then will you three have to rely on yourselves to come through for the mission. Now move out Team Eight and search out for the lynxes."

And when the order came out, Hinata, Kiba and Shino obeyed without hesitation.

"Kakashi-sensei, where are we going?" The only female of Team Seven said, her feet tramping down a leaf-covered path while crushing the branches and twigs along the way. Far removed from the usual path traders come into their village, the path extended more internally into the thick forest renowned throughout their village. It was an enjoyable break compared to being stuck within the village for two weeks while continuing doing nighttime missions. I prefer the touch of the sun, Sakura thought.

As their teacher eye-smiled at them again, sudden chills touched them. Seeing the teacher not speaking anything else, Sakura looked up while seeing the gentle lines of sun through the veil of leaves hanging like a magical rearranging ceiling. "Sakura-chan, this is your first time outside the village?"

She flashed a small smile at Naruto and nodded. Unlike the previous times during their school years, the annoyance that usually accompanied the voice creased to exist. It felt so long since they graduated and she calling him out on his annoyance. "The other times were when we had field trips during school."

Thus the only conversation happening came between Naruto and Sakura as the team walked down the path lead by Kakashi. Sakura stared Kakashi's figure weaving between the environment. So quiet, she didn't hear the Kakashi's steps, so similarly to that man. She shook her head, trying to find another matter to focus on. She let the feeling of being outside the village swollen up. Just walking down the light filled road, just beyond the horizon were new places she knew she would journey later.

Team Seven headed into a small clearing where a small stream flowed through. "Okay, we will be having a training camp for three days," said Kakashi while he turned towards them. "This training camp will serve as a joint training session with Team Eight as well. Now before I teach you guys some jutsu, we're going to need for you to practice nanba aruki since all three of you are wasting energy walking."


"Now, now," said Kakashi as he got his favorite literature out in the open. "You three know the concept of nanba aruki right?" He saw shaking motions from his team. "It's very easy compared to the other things I planned for you. You three just have to walk without making any sort of sound by syncing your arms and legs."

After saying those words, he tossed them the bells they were very familiar with, or at least the same color and design as the bells from the test he gave out. The young teenagers groaned when the bells rung. Understanding their teacher wasn't going to give out hints, the trio walked using what their teacher said. The chiming vibrations echoed throughout the clearing like the engines of a rusty train, making Kakashi pause his reading his fine literature.

Kakashi lowered his book as his students desperately needed help on most effective way of walking for ninjas. Disbelief filled his mind as they struggled at moving without making any noise, a basic almost necessary skill for ninjas to have. He would have understood if Naruto was the only one that failed at moving, but Sakura and Sasuke were having a difficult time. Sasuke hailed from a noble clan spawning and training their members at tender ages skills needed for ninjas while Sakura had a step-father, a highly successful jounin, known for his silent steps. Apparently his team needed more help than he originally thought of. "It seems you three need a tutorial," said Kakashi as he watched them once again trip over their feet.

Pulling another bell from his bag, he walked with utter silence as he passed the bell between hands with every step. The genin had twitching eyes as how effortlessly their teacher could walk. "Most inspiring ninjas already know this skill, so you three need to catch up to them."

The group dedicated several hours on mastering the art of nanba aruki. At the end of the session, the students definitely showed improvement with Sasuke being the only person who could accurately walk without any clunky stumbling along the way. "Kakashi-sensei, does this really help?"

"It really does, Sakura." said Kakashi leaving out that as ninjas, they are required, sometimes, to travel long distances without stop in order to fulfill a mission. Furthermore, the stress on the body lessened more. Kakashi preferred if his students to figure out themselves than him explaining everything.

"Anyway, Kakashi-sensei, are you going to teach us anything else?" Sasuke asked.

"Only after you three complete this exercise," said Kakashi. "But for now, we'll start collecting firewood." Finishing what he needed to say, Kakashi returned back to his precious literature. Sensing two of his students left, Kakashi looked up to see the familiar head of blond hair glimmering against the shine of the sun.

"You said we're going need to talk, Kakashi-sensei," said Naruto. Despite saying the proper title, little respect carried in Naruto's voice although no malice uttered through.

Closing his book, Kakashi rose from his position. "Let's take a walk, Naruto." As the quiet youngster watch his teacher walked in a different path compared to his teammates, Naruto quickly caught up to the tall male. Despite getting there within moments, the masked teacher already had a stack of dry branches around his arm.

"What do you want to talk about Kakashi-sensei?" The blond crossed his arms together, but he disregarded his attitude to pick up more firewood.

With the twigs casually hanging around his arm, Kakashi faced Naruto straight into the blond's eyes with his one eye. "I heard from the Hokage about you finding who was your father. While it seems you have a resentment against my teacher, it doesn't change the fact you are on my team."

Despite the lazy appearance of Kakashi's eye, Naruto tensed up when the invading eye landed on him. But he was Uzumaki Naruto, and he toughed up against his teacher. "Of course I know that, Kakashi-sensei," said Naruto, "I'm not going to disobey you or make this team fail just because you're my sperm donor's student. I'm going to get whatever I can learn from you." Naruto picked up some more twigs before walking back to the camp.

"It seems the bête norie of the village really grew up interesting," said Kakashi.

When Kurenai landed on the steady branch, she was greeted with Kiba getting attacked by a pair of lynxes while Hinata and Shino tried to get the clawing felines from Kiba. She wanted to help her squad out, but laughter stopped her. She never thought she would see a young boy running around with a bunch of cats and yelling at the top of his lungs. "Get them off! Get them off!" She smiled as her team hilariously repeated a scene from an old movie she saw.

Her fun ended when Hinata, Shino, Akimaru and Kiba finally got off the cats from digging further into the Inuzuka's back. Seeing Hinata and Shino calmly handling the felines, Kurenai landed near them to proceed with the other part of the mission: obtaining fresh hides. "Good job," said Kurenai, her eyes scanning her recovering students. She sighed before she said, "now do you three know how to cut open the lynxes as we only need the hides for the mission."

Despite the lack of communication between two different species, the lynxes aggressively moved against the arms of Hinata and Shino. The felines must have felt the intense pressure from the teacher without understanding out she said. "No way! I thought we're only suppose to get the felines?" Kiba stood up from his position and moved in front of his teacher while he was not over fond of them, he was not going to such a sick and vile action such as killing them.

While he is undoubtedly a dog lover, he is also a fierce lover of all animals including felines.

"I have never said the mission was over when the felines were found. I'm now giving a new order as your squad leader, Kiba." Her stern voice overwhelmed the fleeing courage the dog user had in his body. A creeping sensation started building on his legs then working up to his heart as he stood directly at a superior officer of the Konoha's military force. "The next part of this mission is to get the hides off these lynxes."

"You're kidding, right Kurenai-sensei?" said Kiba, whose voice was caught between desperation and confusion. "We're only suppose to capture the lynxes right?" Any thought or idea of harming any sort of animal by his hands sent Kiba over the cliff of sanity.

There was no way for him to actually do that sort of malice towards animals, creatures of nature.

Two disturbing dying calls made Kiba's head whipped towards the lynxes in a blink of an eye. He screamed as he saw the two beautiful yet playful creatures' eyes lose their brilliance when they were attacking to him. "What did you do Shino!" Kiba's eyes wanted to burn the grotesque hands of the bug user who had the animals.

"I only did what I needed to do," said Shino without any waver in his voice. Shino's heartless expression fueled hot anger into Kiba.

Kiba launched Shino without any hesitation. "You asshole!" His fist full of despair tried reaching the face of his teammate when the sudden hold from his teacher stopped him. Her slender frame hid away the strength a ninja of many years gained. With just one pull, she got Kiba off from the fallen boy.

"Enough!" She commanded them while standing between her male subordinates. "Kiba, there was nothing wrong with Shino's decision."

"There is! He didn't have to." He yelled out again. His frontal fangs showed as volcano spewed more lava into his heart. There was something seriously wrong with just obeying the orders without questioning the consequences. What couldn't they understand that there was something wrong with hunting down animals.

"Then you must question me, not Shino."

The indifference about killing those creatures in her voice suffocated the burning in Kiba. He stayed there unmoved as he came to the conclusion that he was with a pair of animal killers. "I'm the one who chose this mission for you three, and Shino is fulfilling the request."

Kiba didn't tear his eyes away from the process of cutting up and getting the hides from the lynxes was being done by Shino.

To look away now would dishonor the life of those lynxes.

From the corner of his right eye, he saw Hinata approaching him with tears at her own eyes. "Kiba-kun, I'm sorry that I couldn't stop Shino-kun." As soon as Hinata's gentle hands touch his elbows, the darkness of the inferno dwelling inside him receded into a smothering shimmer.

"It's okay, Hinata," said Kiba. He stayed watching the barbaric act of skinning the animals out of their fur. And all for what? For some need to make leather or material for clothing when cotton or wool was readier available. He understood that animals are much more purer than any human because animals only hunt down for survival while humans hunt for materialistic ventures.

He flipping loathes this kind of cruelty.

Kurenai, for the most part, looked at how Shino handled the cutting without any wasted movements like a seasoned hunter. Maybe, she shouldn't have gotten this mission for her team. Considering she had Hinata and Kiba; doing a mission to murder a couple of lynxes wasn't the best of her decisions. However, she shook her head, reminding herself they were ninjas now.

She ordered Shino to stop with only the tail of lynxes left to extract. She took the creatures with their innocent blood spewing into the earth with her bare hands, and she walked over to her resting genin. With a firm grip, she placed the two almost carved animals into front of Hinata and Kiba and said, "it'll not be fair for Shino to do all the work without you two helping out." As she said those words, she put the dead bodies on their laps. "Out there in the world, our lives are just as fragile as these lynxes. Out there in the battlefield, our lives are just as meaningless as these beautiful creatures. Now if your dream is to become stronger, you need to understand that being ninjas is not a glorious occupation. Like the regret and anger you feel now, the path of being ninjas is the same. We have to accomplish and fulfill the mission without putting our personal feelings out there in the open."

She looked at her students. Shino walked to the bin she brought over, washing the grimes and liquids soaked into the fabrics of his coat. Out of the three, he fitted the tenacity of being ninja. Shaking her head, she slowly walked away from the two as it was not her decision if they truly wanted to continue being ninjas.

Maybe she should have gone easier on her first genin team.

She flicked her hair away from her eyes.

Her teacher did the same thing to her old team. Because of those lessons and how she took them seriously, she survived the harsh ninja world, the only one alive out of her old team. Before she could walk any further, someone called out to her. Then she turned around to see that both Kiba and Hinata had both successfully peeled of the remaining hide.

Then both her students stood up with their drenched red clothes, and they fiercely walked towards her with their eyes clear of any glossiness. Regardless of the soft volume of their voices, they clearly said, "Kurenai-sensei, when we accepted the position of being a ninja, we knew what we had to do. This is our resolve on becoming ninjas."

As she felt their fingers when they handed the hides to her, the frost, sweat, and blood were the things that told her that they on their way to becoming full pledged ninjas. Nodding towards her three students, she said, "good work, Team Eight."

Kakashi knew he shouldn't have taught a technique that a trickster could use against him. He dodged another stream of water again from the left as he heard the disappearing hustling within the trees. He didn't expect all three of his genin to quickly learn two techniques within three hours. Since they had manage on doing nanba aruki well enough, he decided they had enough foundations to learn the Body Flicker technique.

The glee in Naruto's eyes should have forewarned Kakashi, but by then, it was already too late. Naruto managed to turn the Body Flicker technique into a tool for the prankster. Another stream of water came towards him from the right which he dodged by ducking.

He wondered why he decided to give them a mid-range technique. As he got hit with a stream of water along with the giggling of a female, he remembered only two of his students knew techniques above D-rank. He didn't expect his students to master the Violent Water Wave before Team Eight arrived. For them to convert their chakra into water that easily, his students must have some affiliation with water nature although he can't know for sure until he tested them.

But thanks to the genius's mind of Naruto, Team Seven currently played a game of shoot the teacher. Kakashi admitted Naruto's clever game served a better way for the group to master two techniques while building on teamwork and getting more experience. He leaped backwards when two waves of water came crashing down where he was just at. He cartwheeled as more water gushed down from the trees.

Blood rushed in his body. He needed to calm down before he started becoming more serious. Was he turning into Guy?

Of course, that won't happen at all.

He smiled because he wasn't too sure about that.

He felt the presence of another officer nearby. As if his thoughts materialized, Team Eight strolled down the broken path like hunters coming off a hunt. He smirked under his mask thinking that Kurenai did know how to make an entrance.

"Okay, everyone can stop for now. Team Eight is here," said Kakashi. Dropping down from the trees, the genin of Team Seven presented themselves.

"Hi guys!" The only blond out of the group yelled out.

"Now, now. Calm down, Naruto before you fall again. But first let us have some lunch first before doing anymore training." It was the first useful thing Team Seven's squad leader as the children guided their guests to the campsite. The roaring growls from the stomachs were heard throughout the small campsite.

The teacher of Team Eight nodded, mildly impressed at the work the young genin did. She knew Kakashi, and he was the type of person who come rest without a tent or convenient covering. So the vertical green tents along of the trees and small stone circle for the fire weren't the doing of Kakashi. As she sat down on one of the log seating, she saw the mangling of the children. While both Kiba and Hinata were quieter than usually, they talked to the personification of sunshine named Naruto.

Feeling the other adult sit down nearby her, she turned and looked at the man. "So what am I suppose to teach your students exactly?"

"How to dispel or at least recognizing they are in a genjutsu, so they can counter. Mostly focus on Sasuke and Sakura because they better chance of reversing genjutsu since they are like you that way. Although do help Naruto on higher level jutsu, so he could dispel them."

On her part, Kurenai blinked at Kakashi's suggestion. "I'll help you out, but in exchange, you will teach my students at least five elemental jutsu." She rested back as her eyes laid on the upcoming flames Team Seven built for the group. As she looked over the flames, her team slowly interacted with the other group.

He hummed with the same careless, casual swag he adopted. "Of course, this is why we are having this training session," said the ever calm voice of Kakashi, who relaxed against the log while watching his group's dynamics.

Silence overshadowed the teacher's area compared to the laughter emitted from young ninjas across them. The two teacher had different thoughts running throughout their heads. They knew the risks of being ninjas because they were brought up in a time of war while these children never experienced the bitterness of those times. Gradually the teachers ran into the what-ifs.

What if they were not strong enough to protect them? What if they taught them wrong? What if they were forced to abandon them?

What if? What if? And what if?

Any lingering thoughts would have driven any normal person mad; however, ordinary people didn't define Kurenai and Kakashi.

Despite her confidence on saying she could lead her team out of the most dangerous situations, watching them being like children ruined any assurance of watching them live under her watch. "Kakashi, I... how can I..." Her confident front faded, slowly crumbling as she continued watching the flames growing higher and higher until it engulfed the children.

Kakashi soften his eye at the tender breaks in Kurenai's voice. "Kurenai, I can't help you. The only advice I could give you is trust your students."

If he only could have taken the same one when he led his first genin team.

The far-away demeanor around Kakashi told Kurenai that she brought a regrettable memory. She almost put on her hand onto the man expect she remembered she was nothing more than a comrade in the same military, and she was nothing more than that.

The roaring laughter from the children interrupted the teachers' lamentation with each other, overwhelming any mourning they possible have. Instead of being stuck with any thoughts of the what ifs, they should focus on the present because that mattered the most.

As the two teachers started engaging into the conversation, the two senior officer didn't notice the eagle flying above their heads with the envoy letters from Iwagakure. Kakashi stood up and called the genin into attention. "Now that we are here, let's me assign all of your schedule."

Because of his long existence on the world, Hiruzen thought nothing could surprise him anymore in terms of political power plays. Yet as he was reading the letter from another elderly Kage, his brows narrowed at the implications why now. He thought only the grand leaders of the land were interested in the outcome of the joint mission between Konohagakure and Iwagakure. Apparently the Tsuchikage wanted to form a tentative alliance with Konoha. Interlocking his fingers together, Hiruzen signed at the proposal the other Kage gave him. Before any official talk about an alliance, Iwagakure requested to join the upcoming Chunin Exams. Such a suggestion was too much for Hiruzen to think alone, so he had ordered some of his ninjas to get his teammates.

Once he mobilized his own ninjas, only one more person would notice the grievous situation that was landed on his desk. Like how he planned it, the ensuring knocking coming from his door was from that person. "Come in," he said as he straightened out even more because the person wouldn't be easily swayed the Kage's presence.

The light coming into his office shined down on the ominous figure, an elderly man, walking into his sight. The prominent frown plastered on the figure's face deeply contrasted the happily aging Hokage. The man with his polished robes and bandaged wrappings sat down on the center seat while putting down his cane. "I see you were expecting me." The man's voice filled with clarity and absent of worry.

"Of course, Danzo, we had been friends long ago but furthermore, we have known each other even longer. Now, let's get talk about our village instead a trivial matter as such greeting with each other." Hiruzen mirrored the expression on Danzo. "Read this."

The bandaged man detected he underlying command in the request, but Danoz took the paper and thoroughly read the content. He even read it another time before placing the paper back. "Is this some kind of joke, Hiruzen?" The mere fact that old fool Tsuchikage wanted an alliance warranted the whole situation as a joke. Also, his spies within Iwagakure has not even warned or even delivered any sort of news that the Tsuchikage wanted to forge an alliance.

"I can assure you, Danzo, this is not a joke. It seems because of the recently joint mission, the Earth Daimyō and Tsuchikage saw this chance as a way to bridge the wrongs between the two villages and countries." The simple statement weighed heavy on all uncertainties the two men were thinking about.

Like any great leader over a body of people, the two men thought about everything, but the mot possible situation they have come with was grim.

A political trap echoed in their minds. If Konoha doesn't agree to the 'goodwill' of Iwa, then Konoha and even the Fire Daimyō would be known as mongols of war. But on the other hand, if they do accept how would the rest of the ninja nations handle the alliance. Konoha already has several alliance around their region. If they add another alliance, three out of the five major ninja villages are allies. It could cause a preemptive strike on the borders of Konoha from the others then Iwa could very attack their nation afterwards. Furthermore the resentment from the population of Konoha against Iwa burned like the eternal sun, and the many years hasn't diminish the tension.

This suggestion of an alliance trapped Konoha's future.

Hiruzen looked over at the shadowy observer just rubbing his hands together. "Hiruzen, this situation is difficult." Those were the first words that came from Danzo's mouth that were not cynical. For him to say those words proved to Hiruzen that Danzo doesn't want some of the possible predicaments to happen as well. Despite the extreme ideologies and means they stand upon, they always truly thought for the sake of Konoha. "From what Tsuchikage said, we can start by inviting them to the Chunin Exams."

Another set of knocking occurred alerting the two men to another set of elders like birds singing at the creak of dawn. However what was ushered in was not the bright glow and warmth of the sun, Homura and Koharu strolled into the office with their own dark robes covering any intent that wanted to leak from their bodies. "We got your message, Hiruzen," said Homura.

"Then I shall be going now," said the ever evasive shadow observer.

Before Danzo could get up from his seat, Hiruzen said, "stop, Danzo. There is another matter I wished for us to speak about. I was calling you forth before despite you were not answering; however, I'll let it pass since I need you to do something for me. I need you to contact your spy in Kirigakure, and tell him that I wished to make an audience with Terumi Mei."

The dopey look on Danzo's eye vanished and replaced by a sharp stare. "You're becoming more cunning in your old age, Hokage-sama." He bowed down on his wrist, showing the occupants in the room that the shadow observer still had fight within him. "I will do as you have willed." With that last statement, Danzo disappeared from the room without any more incidents.

"So you are really going forward with your plan," said Koharu.

"The ends justifies the means. Isn't that was you have been telling me all these years, Haru-chan," said Hiruzen using the old nickname for his female teammate because he wanted to get a reaction from her.

And he was right.

The straight strands of hair on her hair became loose, and the excessive twitching on her left eye almost made her look like she only had one eye. She even had her hands balled into a fist. Thus he effectively rattled her up. "Don't use that name," said Koharu, growling at the leader of the Konoha.

The peacemaker of the group intervened between the two members. "Then what is the reason why you called us here, Hiruzen." The aging Hokage handed the letter he received to his trusted advisers.

"While the Earth Daimyō may be clueless about the tension between Iwa and Konoha, we ninjas are not. Danzo and I both agree that we should invite some Iwa ninjas into our Chunin, however, doing an alliance is rather reckless on our part."

"Is that why you are making your move towards Kirigakure?" Koharu commented when she finally gained control of her emotions.

"Yes, I trust Kirigakure more than I do with Iwagakure."

Hiruzen showed them another note he got from their esteemed country leader. Both his advisers quickly read the content and with a rustling of paper, Homura said, "the warlord's soldiers' stomachs exploded because of butterflies, which the butterflies started eating the corpses." That was the only shocking news in the background of their leaders successfully dividing the estate of the warlord among themselves.

Homura thought about the possibilities on this new information they have. He, in his lifetime, never heard of butterflies eating the flesh of corpses or them bursting out of soldiers. The only idea was that one report from a traitor and Hiruzen's student. "Isn't the experiment Orochimaru did suppose to have not worked? And knowing his personality, he does not like repeated failure, so this is not likely his work."

Koharu coughed drawing the attention of the two men. "The greater concern is that we had store all of Orochimaru's data after he deflected the village. We have a breach of information on our hands."

"I have much faith in your system networking, Koharu," said Homura. "What do you think is the cause of such an error?"

"You know how rigorous I check my systems. My systems are not at fault," said Koharu. "I can think of seven people who can obtain information from my systems."

Unfolding his intertwined fingers, the Hokage said, "as much as we speculate, the matter is null unless we get more information. At least we know something about our hidden enemy. They have a great amount of resources and wealth. What Kakashi said might come true, the enemy's planning on attacking the Elemental Nations."

"Haku-nee, is this how you do it?" said a boy with tore clothes and wounds marring over his bare legs. The same question was repeated by others with similar features of the boy: Features of poverty marked throughout the small children, who couldn't get food for themselves.

Holding the frail hand of the boy despite the grime gathering around the fingers was a fair-skinned youth with a floral pattern kimono. Taking the piece of paper in the boy's hand the youth undid the last step of the origami the boy took. The youth then did the right crease to make paper into a proper crane. "This is how you do it," said the youth with a mysterious heavenly voice.

The children, on their part, were captivated by the beautiful youth while not fully knowing the older sister was really a male. Nevertheless, the children happily played with the light emitting youth instead of being stuck in their shadow-clouded world full of disease and depression that the adults want to spread throughout the land.

Seeing the adoring looks from the children, Haku got up to get the presents for the children. "I have some presents for you all before you leave since it's almost dark," said Haku. As he handed each one a large-size box, the children were excited at the generous quantities of food wrapped with; it would last their families a long time.

"Thank you, Haku-nee." The children said in chorus with their heartfelt gratitude reaching the heavens and to their savior sister. "Let's play again," said the children.

Their shouting put a half-met smile on his face. "I'll be waiting here." When the last of the children left, Haku turned to the pond around the corner of the spot. "You can finally show yourselves to me," said the male. Popping out from the pond, two figures stood there with their masks and horned headbands.

"Haku-san, we're sorry, but the old man got away from us." The two figures kneed down in disgrace at their simple mission of capturing the man their client wanted dead. They almost shrieked when the younger man came towards them knowing the younger man was far more powerful than they were.

Haku bent to the Demon Brothers' level and said, "it's okay."

"We'll take the head of that old man now," said Meizu with his two horns nearly hitting his brother's face.

"Don't." The winter behind the voice stopped any fidgeting the two males had. "Since the old man knows we're after him, he'll request some ninjas to protect. We'll wait it out because we don't want any ninjas he hired to know our numbers."

Haku rose and signaled the fellow ninjas to follow him back to the dark depths of their hideout where Zabuza awaited them.