Second chapter down. Don't hold your breath for the third chapter to be uploaded as quick, since I refused to post the story until I had two chapters done, hence the quick update. I was surprised at the number of people who are already following this story.
His team had adapted to working together quickly. At first, he had been worried. He had a student obsessed over looks and boys, a student obsessed with food, and a student who seemed to only like being sleep. It hadn't looked good for them but then he had them train against him. He had given them ten minutes to strategies, away from his line of sight, and then they either attacked him or he went after them. Before the time was up, he found himself being maneuvered into trap after trap. He was able to get out of them, but that was beside the point. Three twelve-year-olds were able to work together to put their sensei on the back-step. After the fourth training session, when Shikamaru had wondered off to nap, Asuma had asked his other two students how they had managed to come up with a plan so quickly that worked so well. He was even bleeding!
It was a surprise to hear the name of the lazy ninja come out of their mouths. He had asked them to repeat themselves at first. When he had confirmed that he had heard Choji and Ino correctly, he had sent them to train together whilst he went in search of Shikamaru. He hadn't noticed the dark haired boy disappear at first but Choji was able to point him in the right direction. The boy was sitting at the base of a tree, leaning against the wood, looking out at a field in front of him. The look on Shikamaru's face made Asuma pause. Normally the boy looked bored but at that moment it looked as though he had came across a puzzle that had to be solved; only, he didn't know the correct answer.
Following Shikamaru's line of sight, Asuma noticed the people sitting in the clearing, having a picnic. He tried to not chock on his own saliva. He had not expected to see Kakashi Hatake having a picnic with three children. Asuma especially didn't expect the copy-ninja to look so happy whilst doing so. Nevertheless, there he was, sitting with a girl with pink hair and two boys. The girl was giving the dark haired boy doe eyes, which the dark haired boy ignored, and the blond was talking with Kakashi happily. Even from a distance, Asuma could see that the blond had a bit of food on his face, and that Kakashi was amused at something.
"I thought you would be sleeping."
Shikamaru jumped, looking around with an almost guilty expression on his face. Clearly he had not noticed his sensei standing next to him, having been too busy watching Kakashi's team. He quickly calmed down, a bored look coming over his face as he turned back to face the training area in front of them. "I was going to lie over there but Team Seven is there. Last thing I wanted was for Ino to come looking for me to yell at me about something and to see Sasuke. She's extra annoying around him."
Asuma turned his eyes back onto Kakashi's team, looking more closely at the two boys. "Which one is Sasuke?" When Shikamaru looked at him in surprise Asuma shrugged. "I don't pay much attention to gossip so I'm not too sure who he is."
"Don't say that to Ino. He's the one with the dark hair in the shape of a duck's butt." Shikamaru lazily pointed, which did little, since at that point the two boys started arguing, moving closer as though their angry postures and scrunched up faces weren't doing well enough to convey their hostility.
His description was enough for Asuma and made him chuckle. He turned his eyes back onto Shikamaru, who had closed his eyes and leant his head back. "I've been thinking I have a couple of puzzles and games you might like. I'll bring one around tomorrow afternoon."
Shikamaru shrugged, slowly rising to his feet and brushing dirt off his pants. "Alright, I'll let mum know." He walked towards the training grounds they had been using, putting his back towards Kakashi's team. "May as well find somewhere else to relax."
/ / / / /
Shikamaru was easily the laziest genius he had ever met. There was little to motivate the boy. But, Asuma had to admit, when it came to missions, the boy was reliable. It had gotten to the point that Asuma would ask Shikamaru to come up with the battle plan, and suggest things to improve it after the young boy had outlined his ideas. There was no doubt that Shikamaru would become one of the greatest strategists the village had ever seen… if he could be bothered.
Asuma knew there had to be something to drive Shikamaru to be ambitious, to think about his future and to work harder in becoming a ninja. So far, Asuma had learnt that his mother was no help. In Shikamaru's words, she was 'troublesome'. Choji was good at getting Shikamaru to work, but Asuma couldn't rely on the heavy boy to always pull Shikamaru into line.
He needed to know more about the boy, but that was hard. Shikamaru never divulged anything about himself unless he wanted to or you somehow tricked him into it, such as with his IQ. Asuma knew that Shikamaru liked naps, and watching clouds and that was the extent of it. He knew a list of things in regards to Choji and Ino.
He took this time to study Shikamaru, who was sleeping by the fire with Choji and Ino. This was their first mission that forced them to make camp. It was still a D rank mission; unlike Kakashi's team that went on a C rank turned A rank for their first away mission. It wasn't like he was bitter or anything. But back to Shikamaru. The kid was lying on his back, his knees making sharp bulges in his sleeping bag as he kicked and twitched. His face was scrunched up and he muttered incoherently. Asuma didn't know if he should wake the boy up or not. He thought about getting his students to do some of the night shift to get a feel for it, even if it meant that he had to pretend to be asleep.
Just as he was about to move from his position and wake up Shikamaru, the boy rolled over. His face relaxed, a small smile appearing. Asuma had no clue what the boy could be dreaming about to make him look so at peace. He had never even looked that way whilst awake. Even though his eyes were closed, Asuma could tell there was something to the expression, he just didn't know what.
As though reading his sensei's mind, Shikamaru unknowingly provided him with the answer.
The word was said so softly that the man almost missed it but once it registered in his mind his jaw dropped, his cigarette falling onto his lap. Swearing quietly, he patted the spark that had appeared on his pants. Grabbing his smoke off the ground, he put it out, before it could burn him again. Once he was out of danger of combustion Asuma looked back at Shikamaru again, who had put his arm under his head as a pillow. He still had that same small smile but as he buried his face into the crook of his arm, his smile grew.
How interesting Asuma thought. So there is a Naruto in his life. No, that can't be right. If he was dating a girl, Ino would have mentioned it. She loves to gossip. He must not have said anything to anyone. Well then.
He left Shikamaru to his dream. The boy slept peacefully until morning where the sun blinded all three Genins. Ino woke with a grumble, Choji woke asking about breakfast, and Shikamaru… he woke with that same smile, as though the bright yellow of the sun was something amazing. The smile disappeared once his sleep disoriented mind woke up. His bored expression came back into place.
Asuma didn't mind. Shikamaru might not realize it, but Asuma had been let in on a secret that was hidden from everyone. If only he knew who Naruto was. There was nothing he could do with the information but he enjoyed having it anyway.
/ / / / / /
The amount of pride he felt was indescribable. His grin grew as Kakashi walked up to them. The copy-ninja shook his head, chuckling to himself as he dropped ungracefully onto the seat. When Asuma raised an eyebrow at Kakashi's amusement, the white haired man waved him off.
"I can't believe they are already sitting the Chunin exams," Kurenai stated, her red eyes glinting. "Do you think any of them will pass? I wouldn't be surprised if Shino does. Kiba is strong but he can be a bit reckless and Hinata, well she's skilled but has little confidence. I just hope she does her best and starts to realize how much she has improved."
Asuma smiled at the young woman. "I'm sure they will all grow in these exams. Even if a person fails, they learn from their mistakes and improve. I know that two of my students, Ino and Choji don't have what it takes to be Chunins, yet. They will one day, I'm just hoping they will learn what it takes from this. Also, I had to give them all a chance because I think Shikamaru could really get there… if he can be bothered." He sighed, knowing that once it hit the final examination that someone would have to give Shikamaru a hard push to get him motivated. Asuma toyed with the idea of threatening to tell Ino about Shikamaru's crush on Naruto but the Jonin then realized that for all he knows Naruto could have been Shikamaru's family cat that he missed.
Kakashi hummed, drawing Asuma's attention. "I can't really say much about my students. One of them I think will not pass this time, another will definitely come close or will actually pass, and that's Sasuke and well… Naruto should never be overlooked. I learnt that one the hard way. Sometimes you just want to beat that knucklehead into the ground, and other times you find yourself going along with whatever popped into that kid's head. If I had to choose someone who's improved the most I would say Naruto and I never actually expected that." Kakashi rubbed his chin, looking at the ceiling before he gave an eye-smile, chuckling to himself. "That kid certainly does surprise me."
"So Naruto is on your team?" Asuma could have slapped himself when he saw Kakashi look at him. How was he going to get out of this one without the other male working out one of Asuma's students had a crush on Naruto. He couldn't divulge Shikamaru's secret, especially when said boy didn't know about Asuma's awareness.
"Yes, why do you ask?"
"The name came up. Choji mentioned Naruto and something about a bridge…" Asuma trailed off. It wasn't a lie, he had overheard snippets of a conversation that had mentioned those two things he just hadn't understood a word of it.
"Yeah, I've heard the name too but haven't been able to put a face, or a sensei to them. So what's this about a bridge?" Kurenai looked between the two males, waiting for one of them to elaborate. Asuma looked at Kakashi, who sighed.
"It was the A rank mission that was originally a C rank and that Naruto had hounded the Hokage to give to us. Basically the village was so impressed with the team, and Naruto especially, that they named the bridge Uzumaki Bridge, after the knuckle head."
That was the second time Kakashi had called Naruto a knuckle head. Thinking back at the time he had seen Kakashi's team, he hadn't thought the girl was thickheaded. She did seem to be infatuated with Sasuke though.
Poor Shikamaru, no wonder he was staring at the team. He was trying to work out how to get the girl to notice him over Sasuke.
He decided he would have to observe Shikamaru with Naruto so that Asuma could give him some pointers on how to get her to stop fawning over Sasuke. That was if he could convince the boy to actually bother to try instead of muttering 'what a drag' all the time and calling girls 'troublesome'. Sometimes the things that boy said could come off as sexist, but Asuma knew that he recognized and respected strong woman, he just wanted to avoid the ones like his own mother.
But Naruto must have been skilled if a town named a bridge after her. He had heard from his father about that mission, and how one of the boys had nearly died, another getting poisoned at the beginning of the mission as well, and Kakashi being taken out of commission for most of it. Just hearing about it had made Asuma feel as though he had swallowed a giant ice cube. If it had been his team he would have turned them around straight away but for some reason Kakashi didn't and it had turned out well in the end. Finding out Naruto 'hounded' his father though made him want to smile. She must have been stronger willed then she had appeared to him. If Asuma had to pick a person on Kakashi's team to hassle the Hokage into doing something it would probably have been the blond.