Author's Note: The first chapter got way more love than I had anticipated, so I feel like the least I could do was give you guys a second chapter.
See the AN at the end of the chapter for my future plans for this story. Favs, PM's, follows, and reviews are always welcome. Thanks!
Chapter 2: The Fox and the Hawk
"So, Iruka, what has brought you here today? Hiruzen asked with a slightly wary expression. "Not to yell at me about Kakashi's decision again, I hope."
The Chunin instructor had not requested an audience with him since the day he found out Naruto had failed the Genin Test. He had hoped that the scarred young man could put it behind him and focus on the upcoming Academy semester.
The man in question scratched his cheek bashfully. "No, Lord Third. Actually, it's quite the opposite." He said with a sincere smile. "I've thought a lot about what you and Kakashi have said, and I have some ideas."
The Old Hokage blinked. "Ideas? Ideas about what?" He twirled around the pipe in his hand, a slightly surprised expression graced his aging features.
The instructor nodded eagerly at the question. From his Chunin Flak, he withdrew a scroll and handed it to the Village Leader. "It's all right here. Please, tell me what you think!"
Sarutobi's curious eyes glanced between the mysterious scroll and the Academy teacher. With a mental shrug, he gently took the scroll from Iruka's outstretched arms and unfurled it to reveal its contents.
Umino watched with great anticipation as the Professor's eyes diligently scanned the parchment. Every few seconds, the old man's face with crease slightly. Though he didn't know if that was a good or bad thing. As time when on, Hiruzen offered the occasional nod and a faint smile that gradually grew the more he read.
"Ah, I see." The teacher of the Legendary Sannin said.
Iruka couldn't help but sweat a little. This clearly meant a lot to him.
After what had seemed like an eternity, The Third Hokage placed the open scroll on his desk. "Iruka, this is quite the change that you are looking to implement. Aren't you worried that it, being so different, could cause a type of shock to the system you're trying to improve?" These were not criticisms, but things to consider. In all honesty, he loved the plan. It was bold, but such a daring act could prove to be exceptionally fruitful.
"Ah, but Shinobi must be able to adapt to any type of situation or scenario. I think something like this is perfect for getting the next generation of Ninja prepared for what it's really like out in the world. Don't you?" The Chunin responded confidently.
"Hahaha, I was hoping that would be your answer." The aged Kage said between puffs of his pipe. "You truly have become one of the Academy's most talented instructors."
Iruka shot to his feet, a look of hope on his face. "Does that mean you'll let me do it?!"
Hiruzen calmly rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the young man. "With you leading the charge? I would want nothing more." His smile was so sincere and kind that it almost didn't seem befitting of a leader.
But that was what made the Third Hokage different compared to the other members of the Five Kage.
"Thank you so much!" Iruka bowed humbly. "I will not fail you. I promise!"
"You never have before."
Iruka left quickly after, which left Sarutobi alone in his office once more. He stood up from his desk and walked towards the large windows behind him. The look on his face while he watched the people of his village scurry about was similar to a grandfather with his grandchildren, so much love, so much kindness. He unconsciously dipped his pipe in the direction of the Hokage monument. If only they were still around to see what they had tried so hard to protect. His thoughts drifted back to the would-be Team 7, and their instructor.
'Seems like Kakashi may have gotten through to all four of them. He turned back around and opened his desk. Inside was the crystal ball he used to ensure the safety and happiness of his people.
It was also a fantastic way to (harmlessly) eavesdrop on the individuals who need special attention. There was one particular interaction he had kept an eye on prior to Iruka's visit today. And now, it was time to tune back in. Because even he did not know what would come of it.
'Naruto, Sasuke… what will the two of you do now, I wonder?'
Today was such an interesting day, wasn't it?
This dock, it held one of the most cherished memories that he shared with his father. That was why he always found himself here when were harder than usual. It was the first time that Fugaku, his dad, ever acknowledged him as his own person, instead of comparing him to his brother.
'That's my boy.'
Sasuke's fingernails dug into the wood, and his legs, which previously dangled freely over the edge of the dock, went stiff. Why did he always come here? It was so painful. Such beautiful memories of the past only caused him to feel more grief. It was a harsh reminder of what could have been, that he would never have any more moments like that one. His father, mother, aunts, uncles… everyone was dead.
His chakra flared, and he felt a burning sensation behind his eyes.
It was all because of the monster that had masqueraded as his older brother: Itachi Uchiha, the devil himself.
A sound alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone. He turned swiftly in the direction he had heard it and grimaced.
'Naruto.' What the hell was he doing here? He turned his attention back to the water. Maybe if he ignored him, the blond idiot would go away.
The rage he felt was now gone, well… not gone, just subdued. It was replaced by a myriad of emotions he couldn't understand. For the past five years, the only things the Uchiha survivor felt were anger, rage, contempt, fury… and whatever other synonyms you can think of. He was pretty indifferent to everything else.
The goal had always been pretty linear; get stronger, kill Itachi, restore the Uchiha Clan to its former glory.
Then… why? Why did Naruto drag things out of him that weren't hate? Everyone else was ignorable, but the blond loser got under his skin.
He recognized it. Naruto definitely annoyed him, so he felt that. It was as if that was the only thing the idiot was good at, pissing him off. Yet, at the same time, Naruto's presence made him feel something else. His mind drifted back to a memory on this very dock, when he had failed to create a sizable fireball on his first attempt.
'Why did I think you would be like Itachi..?'
That was it, he felt shame right now. Why, why did he feel that of all things?
A voice shook him from his thoughts. He didn't have to turn around to know who it was, but he did anyway. A mop of blond hair and whisker-like birthmarks confirmed what he already knew, and his gaze fell down to his feet that hung just above the still waters.
"What do you want, Naruto?" The Uchiha said with as much indifference as he could muster. "Can't you see that I'm busy?"
Naruto fidgeted in his spot, unsure if his classmate was serious or not. He sat there and just stared out into the distance the whole time. How was he busy? The way Sasuke spoke made it apparent that he wanted to be alone. The blond felt compelled to turn around and walk away.
He looked down at his feet. Once again, they refused to move when he wanted them to. How that annoyed him. It was as if a part of him didn't want to leave. Naruto mentally sighed.
"I… I just wanted to say…" He trailed off; not sure what combination of words would accurately express his thoughts. Talking was so easy when he blurted out the first thing that came to his mind with little regard for those around him. People actually thought before they spoke? Why? It's a lot harder!
"Look, if you're here to argue some more, can you save it for when we're back in the academy?" Those words made him feel ill. Him, one of the elite Uchiha, sent back to the Academy for another year? His mother, father, and ancestors surely rolled over in their grave, and he couldn't blame them. "I'm really not in the mood right n-"
"I'm sorry!" The Uzumaki blurted out. He hadn't listened to a single word the Uchiha boy had said, too busy with his own formation of words. "It's my fault that you weren't able to become a Genin!"
Sasuke gave him a look. It wasn't shock, but he clearly hadn't anticipated an apology of any kind. They were both stubborn and proud, so his expectations were they would silently dislike each other from afar. Similar to how they were usually, but maybe with a touch more disdain?
"Why would you say something like that?" Sasuke asked, his gaze turned back to the water. "You said it yourself, you blame me for why we failed." He seemed subdued, more so than usual.
The blond rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "Well, I was pissed off when it happened." He sat down next to his almost-teammate, who gave a look of protest that was ignored. "Then, I thought about what that guy Kakashi said. And… he was right about me." He winced at the memory. "I should have just gotten past our differences and accepted the damn lunch. If I had, we would be Ninja right now."
Sasuke blinked. Who the hell did this kid think he was? Here he comes, completely uninvited to his cherished place of memory, and sits down without even a request. Never mind what he said, did this loser have even the slightest grasp on personal space?
Oh, right. 'He's an orphan, right?' When put into the context, it made sense. It's hard to develop social cues when you have no one in your life to learn from. And it wasn't like anyone in the village liked the idiot. Hell, most people seemed to act like he doesn't exist, at all. 'He's always been alone. Like I am now.'
Sasuke smirked for the first time in days. "Heh, at least you know how much of a loser you really are." It almost seemed like a playful tone, but the blond didn't catch it.
Naruto bristled at that low blow. He shot up to his feet suddenly and pointed the finger at the broody Uchiha. "Ah! You know, you can be a real bastard sometimes!" He yapped angrily. "Here, I am trying to be nice and admit what I did wrong, and you're still a jerk!" That smirk the boy had made him even angrier. "Bah, why did I even bother!?" The frustrated child turned around and started to walk off of the dock.
He missed the complicated expression on Sasuke's face.
"I don't blame you."
That stopped Naruto in his tracks. He turned around. "What?" He asked. Surely he misheard that, right?
Sasuke twitched, not one who likes to repeat himself, especially when what was said could make him feel vulnerable. "I said I don't blame you!" Naruto winced at the loudness, that had been harsher than intended. A deep breath later, he would try and clarify his words. "If anything, it was both of our faults." Would he admit that he hasn't treated the blond very well? Of course not, he was too proud to go that far. The best the raven-haired boy could do is hint at it.
Naruto smiled and sat back down. This time, he chose to be even closer to the Uchiha. "You know, you're not so bad when you aren't being a big jerk."
"Heh, and you aren't that bad when you don't talk."
"Thanks a lot! I-" The Uzumaki blinked, and his eye narrowed. "I hate you…"
"Hn." Though the Uchiha couldn't hide the playful smirk, he tried his best to conceal.
There was a tense silence between the two. They still weren't close. In fact, nothing had changed, they got on one another's nerves like no one else could.
The blond was one who broke the silence. "Hey, can I ask you a question?" There had been something on his mind since the day of the Bell Test.
Sasuke scooted further along to dock, so he wasn't so close to the loudmouth. "Even if I said no, would you listen?" He asked dubiously.
"Great! Glad we're on the same page!" Naruto exclaimed excitedly.
Sasuke winced at the sound and silently wished the dock would triple in width, so he didn't have to be within eardrum-rupturing range. "What was your question, idiot!?"
"Oh, right. Hehehe." His expression changed to a slightly more serious one. "I was just wondering; when we failed the first time, you tried to attack Kakashi. Why was that? I mean, becoming a Ninja means a lot to me, but that… seemed a little crazy." The Nine-Tails host wasn't one to mince words. If he thought something, that was what came out of his mouth. Since people avoided him like the plague, to begin with, tact was never a necessary thing he needed to develop.
The Uchiha's dark eyes flashed dangerously. "Becoming a Genin clearly doesn't mean the same thing to you that it does to me!" He seethed. "My goal isn't to play ninja. To achieve my reality, I need to get stronger. That starts with making Genin!"
"Are you talking about that person you want to destroy?" Naruto was curious about the boy's dream for the future that he had mentioned during their introduction. At first, he thought that the person Sasuke spoke of could be him. But, after thinking about it, that didn't make sense.
Sasuke shot him a glare, something that had already become a common occurrence. They were eyes that told the blond boy to leave before he got hurt.
But, again, the Uzumaki either didn't notice or didn't care. "Well, is it?" He pressed.
"Why do you even care?" The Uchiha said harshly. "What the hell makes you think it's any of your business, huh?!"
"It's not that I'm nosey or anything. It's just…" Naruto twiddled with his thumbs; his gaze turned towards the water. "Sometimes I wish that I had someone to talk to about things. So… maybe, if you'd like, you could tell me about it?" He finished with a hopeful tone. "You don't have to if you don't want to!"
The Uchiha felt a frown tug at his lips. "You have no reason to concern yourself with me. It isn't something that you would be able to understand, anyway."
"I understand what it feels like to be alone."
The prodigy's eyes widened, but he didn't say anything.
"I doubt that you've paid any attention to me, and how people around here treat me." The blond pariah shook his head. "Well, let's just say it isn't good, and I don't really have a single person I can talk to about anything." The usual mask of confidence and happiness was slowly chipped away as he spoke. Gone was the loud, cocky, and bombastic blond that Sasuke had always noticed from afar. In his place was a timid, quiet, insecure, and unhappy version of the boy. "You don't seem to hate me. Well, you kinda hate everyone. Just not in the same way most of the other people do…" He trailed off after he lost the point of what he had tried to say. He was desperate to form bonds and, in the process of expressing himself for the first time, rambled on more than he would have liked.
This was… unexpected on the Uchiha's end.
He had just seen a different side of the knucklehead and did not know how to feel about it. While he wouldn't admit to paying any sort of attention to Naruto, what the boy had said was true. The villagers, adults, and children alike seemed to pretend that the boy did not exist. And when they did take notice, it wasn't exactly a good thing. Harsh looks, words, and mistreatment at shops and food stands were a common occurrence in Naruto's life. In a cruel kind of way, it made Sasuke feel better about his own situation. In a sense, he wasn't alone. They were both alone and, by his twisted logic, that made him feel less pain.
Apart of him wanted to ask the blond boy why the village seemed like they were out to get him. It was strange since, as far as he could tell, no one else drew the populace's ire quite like him. It wasn't like those pranks he pulled ever hurt anyone. Though, he didn't have the nerve to ask, especially when he hadn't answered Naruto's question from earlier.
"It's fine if you don't want to tell me." The Jinchuriki broke Sasuke from his thoughts. Naruto's face was downcast, and he appeared as if he were about to leave. Perhaps he felt he had overstayed his welcome? After all, this was probably the longest conversation he's ever had with another person.
Sasuke felt his chest tighten, and his fingernails once again dug into the wooden dock. He could feel the splintered wood poke through the skin underneath his nails, but he ignored it.
"It's my brother. He…" Naruto looked at him, shocked he was still willing to talk to him.
The lone Uchiha bit the inside of his cheek until he tasted blood. Though, that did little to quell the anger that rose up within his chest. "He killed my entire clan." Why was he saying this out loud? "Everyone. My Aunts, Uncles, Women, and even children." What had come over him? It felt like someone else had taken possession of his vocal cords, and they had chosen to reveal his most personal thoughts. "I have to get strong, strong enough to kill that damned bastard!" He subconsciously pounded his fist against the small harbor's frame with enough force to ripple the water beneath their feet. "I'm going to destroy him and avenge my clan! Then, I'm going to restore the Uchiha and bring back the honor to my family's name!"
Naruto watched in stunned silence as his new friend's chest heaved up and down with heavy breaths.
Wait, were they friends? I mean, they still didn't particularly like one another. Yet, the Uchiha wouldn't reveal something so personal if he didn't consider them friends, right?
The blond shook his head. This was definitely not the time to get caught up in that. Not after Sasuke had just poured his soul out in front of him. Before this, the broody prodigy had only said a handful of words at a time to him or anyone.
But… could he say anything substantial after that? What series of words could he possibly string together to make his new friend feel any better? No matter what came out of his mouth, the Uchiha Clan would still be dead, along with Sasuke's parents, and anyone else he loved.
Naruto could say that he was sorry for the boy's loss, but that kind of knee-jerk, obligatory response felt inadequate in this situation. Surprisingly, he felt his own heartache slightly at the rare display of emotion from the top-ranked Academy student. A flash of realization glimmered behind his bright blue eyes. Yes, that was it. He had no words that would lessen any grief the Uchiha felt. No, that would be something only killing his brother could do.
He could share his own grief to let his companion know that he wasn't alone. Because, deep down, Sasuke's loneliness had made Naruto feel less miserable about his personal situation. He felt guilty for it, but hopefully, Sasuke would react similarly. They could be alone together!
'I just hope he doesn't end up hating me, too. When he finds out about…'
"I don't need you to feel sorry for me." The black-haired boy said with some edge to his voice. He had heard enough of that over the years. Every store he went to, random people on the street, even the Hokage, they all looked at him with such sad eyes. Like he was a victim. It disgusted him. "I'm an avenger, not some sad kid who needs your sympathy or pity. The only thing I need is Itachi dead at my feet."
"No, I wasn't gonna say that." Naruto corrected with a sad tone. "I'm sure you've heard it enough; you don't need me to repeat what other people have already told you."
The blond boy chuckled. "You know, I actually failed the Academy Exam. I just couldn't use that damn Clone Jutsu."
Sasuke stayed silent and waited for him to continue. Though, that was something that he had wondered about since the day they were assigned Kakashi as their Jonin advisor. He just figured that Naruto had somehow learned the Shadow Clone Jutsu, and that was able to get his fail reversed.
"Mizuki-sensei tricked me into stealing the Scroll of Seals from the Hokage Tower. He said I would pass if I could manage to learn a Justu from the scroll, but he just wanted it for himself."
Shadow Clones. It was left unsaid, but it was clear that it was what he was able to learn from the Scroll of Seals.
Sasuke stared at the Uzumaki and did his best to repress a smirk at the boy's idiocy. That seemed like something Naruto would fall for. Though, he also wondered what this story had to do with anything.
"Yeah, and?" As if to say: 'Get to the point.'
Naruto smiled sadly. "Well, after Iruka-sensei caught me with the scroll, Mizuki came to take it. That… was when I learned the truth." His eyes hardened as he remembered that day. "The reason why everyone hates me."
They traded a glance, and the Uchiha saw the immense pain behind those blue eyes. Before he could say anything, Naruto spoke.
"The Fourth Hokage didn't actually kill the Nine-Tailed Fox." That declaration made the Uchiha's eyes widen in shock. "It couldn't be killed. He had to seal it away in a newborn baby." Once again, their eyes locked. It said more than either of them could say aloud. The message was clear, however.
The Nine-Tails is sealed inside me, and the entire village hates and fears me for it.
Sasuke waited patiently for the punchline to the dark joke. Yet, all he was given was the deflated expression of the Nine-Tails host. Those bright blue eyes seemed to lose some of their shimmer. That was when it dawned on him.
It wasn't a joke.
Everything seemed to click upon that realization. His mind recalled a few insults that had been hurled the boy's way by villagers.
At first glance, these comments seemed to just be gross overreactions to childish pranks that had been dished out on the populace. It was clear now that the glares and contempt weren't from the pranks, but because of the Nine-Tails. Naruto's pranks were just his way of getting people to notice him. Without those, then he would go back to being unnoticed, invisible.
Huh, guess they both had a ton of baggage,
"…I see…" I mean, give him some credit, what else could Sasuke say to that? Now he knew what Naruto felt like when he listened to him about Itachi and his clan.
The blond looked at him, a single tear dripped down his cheek and over his whisker marks. He hadn't expected to get so emotional about it. He understood why Sasuke wasn't too excited to talk about his own baggage. It was much easier to hold it in and ignore it to the best of his ability.
"Do you hate me now, too?" The Jinchuriki asked, a bit of fear in his voice. He couldn't have made a new friend just to lose them right away.
He just couldn't.
From Sasuke's perspective, Naruto definitely annoyed him sometimes. Well, most of the time, actually. Still, that didn't mean he thought the kid was a monster. If anything, the blondie was far from it.
The two of them were very alike, more than either of them cared to admit.
The raven-haired boy allowed himself an unreadable smirk.
"Not any more than I did before."
Naruto's frown flipped into a broad smile.
"Hey, can you sit down? You're making everyone look at us!"
"What? Why do you care about that?"
"Just shut up and get off the desk!"
"Oh, I see. You're worried I might catch the attention of some new fangirls for you, right?"
"Hehehe, I knew it! Or, are you afraid I might kiss you again?"
"You're an idiot. I can't believe I'm stuck with you for another year of this crap."
"You woulda been stuck with me on our Genin Squad, either way. You do realize that, right?
"I hate when you do that."
After that fateful day at the dock, the Fox and Hawk had spent quite a few more just like that. At first, they didn't speak much and merely enjoyed each other's company in front of the water. They simply enjoyed the company of each other. Naruto was thankful to have found someone who didn't hate him for who he was, while Sasuke was glad that he wasn't being pitied. Slowly, over time, they became closer. They began to talk about themselves. Well, Naruto did most of the talking, and Sasuke just grunted most of the time. Every once in a while, the Uchiha would chime in a couple words here or there.
For what it was, it worked for them.
And now, there were back at the Academy for the start of the semester. Time seemed to have flown by, and Naruto was excited to finally take his schooling seriously. He was also eager to see a certain face the two of them hadn't seen in a while.
"You know, I wonder why the semester started up again so soon. There wasn't much of a break, only a couple of weeks." The blond boy said, still squat on top of his desk with his eyes glued to the front door.
"Who knows?" The prodigy answered, fingers interlocked in front of his face as he stared aimlessly out the window at his side. "Hopefully, all it means is that it'll end sooner so we can become Genin already."
Just then, Iruka walked through the door with a bright smile. The Jinchuriki matched that smile and hopped off of the desk to go and greet his teacher.
"Iruka-sensei!" He called out.
That voice made the scarred Chunin's smile grow even wider, and he turned around to greet his favorite rambunctious student. "Naruto! It's good to see you back. Excited for the first day?" He seemed unusually chirpy today. "There's a lot of new stuff that I can't wait to share with you all!"
"Yeah, yeah. Cool" The Uzumaki dismissed with a wave. There was another thing on his mind. "Do you know where Sakura is? It's not like her to be late like this."
The older man frowned at the question. "Oh, you didn't hear? I thought she would have told you guys."
Naruto gave the man an odd look. "Huh? Tell us what?"
Iruka gave the boy a sad smile. "Her parents requested an audience with me shortly after you guys failed your Genin Exam. She was pretty distraught about it, and blamed herself for why you three didn't pass. I tried to talk them out of their decision, but…"
"W-What decision are you talking about?" No… it couldn't be.
"It seems as though Sakura has given up on becoming a Shinobi."
Naruto slowly walked back to where he and his friend had sat and plopped down onto his seat.
Sasuke, who had long since tuned out his surroundings, jumped slightly at the sudden noise. He glanced over and saw the pale expression on the boy's face. "What's wrong with you?"
"Alright, everyone!" Iruka called out to the class, effectively cutting off their conversation. Everyone in the class turned to face their teacher, which prompted him to continue. "I know we're here together a lot sooner than in the past, but I want you to know it is for a good reason. Since this is only the first day after I explain everything about the upcoming year, I'll end class early."
That last bit elicited a few cheers from the classroom full of kids. Shortened class days were always good news.
"I know, I know." The Chunin waved his hands to calm down his students. "Now to the matter at hand. This year is going to be a lot different than what you've experienced in the past."
One of the kids, whose name Naruto didn't know, raised his hand. Iruka pointed at him to allow him to speak.
"What's gonna be different?" The boy asked.
Iruka clapped his hands together and smiled. "That's a great question. Since this is the final year for your class before you have the option to become Genin, we thought it would be best to fully prepare you to the best of our ability."
Sasuke brought his head out from behind his hands and looked away from the window. This seemed to have gotten even his attention. 'What does he mean by that?' Maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't have to sit through the same material as last year.
"Once you are promoted to Genin, you will be put into three-man cells under the supervision of an elite Jonin. In the past, we have had complaints that the Academy hasn't properly prepared graduates to work effectively in these teams." That comment got both members of the almost-Team-Seven to lower their heads in shame. "To rectify that, we will now be placing you in three-man teams with your fellow classmates and simulate some of the aspects of being a Genin!"
There were some murmurs among the crowd of kids. For some, this terrified them. They weren't ready to become Ninja. Hell, a lot of them didn't even know if they wanted to be Shinobi. For others, it exited them—one Uchiha in particular.
'Heh, at least I'll be able to get some experience as a Ninja while I'm back in this place.' Though, the thought of being stuck in the Academy for another year still disgusted him. He doubted that that would change.
A girl raised her hand this time. "What are we supposed to do while on these three-man teams?"
"Ah, another great question!" The instructor exclaimed. "In your designated cells, you will train together, complete classroom assignments and D-Rank mission together, and, most importantly, develop chemistry and improve your overall teamwork!"
'Missions?!' That was honestly the only word Sasuke bothered to hear. It was an important one, though. They were actually going to be tasked to complete missions! 'This is sounding better and better.'
While the Uchiha was excited about finally getting the Ninja experience he had hoped for, Naruto's mind had drifted off to other things. To him, these cells provided the perfect opportunity to improve their teamwork as Team Seven. However, he could only envision one other person on the team with him and Sasuke.
'Sakura… why did you give up on becoming a Ninja?'
Author's Note: While writing this alongside my other story, I noticed something. I don't think I can write both of them at the same time. Because of that, I'll have to put this one on the backburner for now. I'm not sure how other's are able to juggle so many stories at once. It's amazing, and I envy them.
So, I'll either leave this as a Two-Shot, or come back to it at a later date.
I hope you all understand. Thanks for reading.
NOYB - ABoaL will always be my main focus. This idea just bugged me and wouldnt leave me alone.
As for OOC Naruto, I would have to agree to some extent. In my defense, I'd like to think this would have been an appropriate reaction if what happened with Mizuki had any effect on Naruto. After being manipulated like that, it isn't that much of a stretch that he wouldn't be so quick to trust someone so soon after it happened. Especially someone he doesn't like, like Sasuke.
Why would Kakashi feel guilty? If anything, he'd feel guilty for passing them even though their teamwork was awful.
Naruto is still an idiot, he wouldn't figure something like what Itachi told him all by himself. Naruto hadn't even come to that conclusion after his battle with Pain. That was when he reached peak maturity, and Itachi still had to impart that wisdom on him.
Also, about your comment on ABoaL: PM if you would like some writing advice. I would, but your reviews are anonymous. Or, message me on Reddit: U/TheCrackerSeal
Passive Person - For you? I'll make it a two-shot (for now).
HyperspaceGamer - Hopefully I have time to come back to this in the near future. Because I really want to continue it. It isn't all bad, though. This break will give me an opportunity to map out the story in a proper way.
GunBlade2020 - It'll definitely be a massive undertaking. This one small tweak changes everything!