Konoha's Scarlet Flash
Chapter 1: Yosh!
Standing at the north gate of Konoha were three shinobi, their silhouettes shrouded in shadows as the night lamps of the village barely illuminated their standing point.
One was a man in a disturbingly skintight green jumpsuit with orange leg warmers that seemed terribly out of place. He sported a 'hip' bowl haircut and eyebrows thick enough to trap small birds and reptiles for days on end. He could be identified as a shinobi of the Leaf Village: Konohagakure, by the red headband tied neatly around his waist and the unzipped Jonin military vest that he proudly wore. He is Konoha's admittedly self-proclaimed, fiercest beast of battle, Maito Gai.
The second could be considered viable bunshin of the first; only lacking the height and green vest of his sensei. Unlike Gai, this young shinobi wore white bandages around his hands and arms to hide the callouses and bruises acquired by his rigorous training and to help him perform one of his deadliest techniques. The only other difference between master and student was a heavy rucksack slung over his shoulders...for his journey. His name is Rock Lee, the genius of hard work.
The third was a ANBU shinobi with a boar mask. He wasn't Squad Captain material but Ginta was still among the elite of the Hidden Leaf Village. Gai had asked him specifically to accompany his..er, special student on this extended training leave. Maito Gai had saved quite a few of his fellow Leaf ninja in his lifetime. Ginta was one of them. He had gotten permission from his Squad Captain to undergo this mission and repay his debt to the green loon. His orders: escort Rock Lee to the medical temple in Northwest Fire Country and locate Inuzuka Rin; guard Rock Lee with his life as the boy recovered from surgery; escort Rock Lee safely back to Konoha.
A extremely simple mission compared to what the ANBU usually dealt with. And best of all...it came with ANBU pay! Total score!
"Now remember my youthful student," Gai began lecturing his prized pupil with his 'dazzling' smile, "Rin-san is a medical expert! You are in good hands."
"..in..good..hands," Lee scribbled into his tiny notebook. "Understood sir! I promise you Gai-sensei, I will return a splendid ninja!" He accentuated this promise by giving the pact of the highest level of keeping one's word: the nice guy pose.
The surgery that was going to be performed on his twisted, entwined and otherwise badly functioning chakra coils and entombed tenketsu was risky. It would not allow the young shinobi to properly mold chakra but it would vastly increase his overall stamina and resistance to the double-edged blade of his fighting style. There was a thirty-three percent mortality rate for the very few of these surgeries performed..but...
He would not allow for his flames of youth to be extinguished! He still had to defeat his eternal rival and prove, once and for all, that he could be a splendid ninja without the use of ninjutsu or genjutsu!
Crocodile tears ran down Gai's cheeks as his pride in his student welled up. He wiped his eyes with his sleeves. "Yosh! That's my student. The power of youth burns brightly within you!"
Lee became teary eyed as well. "Gai-sensei!"
With that, the two embraced one another and the power of youth; tears of pride and joy flowing freely and without shame.
Meanwhile with Ginta..
"The hell?" he asked himself, startled, as he looked at the sunset that had appeared beyond the realm of reason and rationality. "It's freakin midnight..and when the hell did we get to the beach!? Oh I see." He formed the Tora hand seal. "Kai!"
"It's still here." he noted with wide-eyed horror beneath his mask. "I'm scared.."
By this time Gai and Lee had said their...ahem, heartfelt goodbyes.
"Now go my youthful student!" Gai exclaimed as he pointed in the wrong direction. "The temple that will kindle your flames of youth awaits!"
"Yes sir!" Lee confirmed with a salute. Flames burning brightly in his eyes and guiding his darkened path, Lee sped outwards, leaving a trail of dust behind him.
"Ugh! Wait kid," the ANBU called out in vain, "that's the wrong way!" He turned back to Gai quickly. "Uh, see-ya later Gai-san!" The ANBU darted after Lee full sped, running far, far away from the still setting 'sun'.
Soon the two were well out of sight and Gai's smile dropped...the setting sun long with it.
With a frown of concentration, Gai shoved his hands into his vest and began walking to the Hokage Tower to see their fearless leader.
His Genin team had already bid farewell to Lee. Tenten had given him a warm hug and wishing him good luck; something she knew both Lee and their sensei highly prized. Neji chilled the friendly scene by simply telling Lee "Don't die yet."
It had been quiet for a few moments after that, before Lee exclaimed that he couldn't die until he crushed his eternal rival. Neji had cringed, hating when Lee called him that, before scoffing indifferently.
Now Maito Gai was in a predicament. A very un-youthful one. He had planned on his team participating in the Chunin Exams this year. The green beast had felt as though his team needed a full year of experience before attaining the mantle of a middle ninja. More specifically, it gave Gai enough time to work on the finest and deadliest aspects of Goken with Lee. But now that his prized student was undertaking this surgery, and would not be fit to perform as a ninja during recuperation, Gai had to find a replacement in order for his team to partake in the Exam. The only question now...
"Is who," Gai muttered to himself. That was why the Hokage had told him to stop by his office tonight. He would be able to pick a student from this years graduating class to help fill in the gap. Before he even considered which student to chose..he had to know who it was that passed.
Hearing the sound of panting brought him from his thoughts. Being a genius of hard work, Gai was more than familiar with the sound of exhaustion. Judging from the labored breaths, his person had been exerting themselves fervently for the last hour or so. Stretching out his senses, Gai listened carefully to the words being exchanged by three.
"Damn that punk demon!" one voice spat out. "Taking the Forbidden Scroll.."
"Yeah," another tired voice agreed, "I knew it was just waiting for the right time to strike."
A third voice spoke up. "I know Hokage-sama said to bring Naruto to him but," a malicious sneer could be felt from the man, "what would happen if the Kyuubi brat had a little...accident."
Choosing this moment to step in, Gai appeared behind the Chunin in less than an instant. "What's shaking everybody?" he asked in his happy macho voice. "I understand you all have some sort of missing scroll problem?"
The three ninja stiffened, clearly worried about if Gai had overheard their conversation, and annoyed that he was too fast for them to sense approaching. "Yeah." Chunin number three said cooly, as if he hadn't been considering treason. "That..kid, Naruto, stole the First Hokage's Forbidden Scroll of Sealing. We have to find him before he runs off with it."
As the green clad warrior was about to respond, a hawk flew over head. "It would seem, my comrades, that the situation has been resolved," Gai murmured. "If you'll excuse me!" Gai disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving three aggravated Chunin behind.
Several minutes later Gai was at the foot of the Hokage Tower. He briskly walked up the steps and knocked on the door politely.
"Yes Gai-san, please come in." the Hokage called. It wouldn't surprise him the Ninja God could recognize the chakra signature of each and every ninja within a hundred mile radius.
Without further prompting Konoha's Green Beast prodded open the door and looked inside. Sitting behind his desk was Konohagakure's Sandaime Hokage. In a chair across from the Hokage was one Uzumaki Naruto. The boy hadn't so much as glanced at him, a far away look in his eye.
"Is..now not a good time Hokage-sama?" Gai asked as he scratched his head with a befuddled look.
The village leader considered it for a moment, glancing at Naruto before answering. "I believe we should speak tomorrow with the other Jonin instructors." He reached into his desk and tossed him a small book. "This is a list of students who have passed the Graduation exam. Study it and decide who would best suit your team's needs. We will discuss this tomorrow."
"Hai Hokage-sama!" Giving one last glance at the two, Gai closed the door and headed home for the daily rekindling of his flames of youth. In other words...sleep. Once settled into his bachelor pad, he began to review over the list of students whom graduated.
He couldn't help but first look over the file entry for Uchiha Sasuke, what with the entries being ranked from best to worst. It wasn't that he wanted to train the boy himself, lest the counters for the Sharingan be countered. He knew that his eternal rival, Hatake Kakashi, would be taking the Uchiha under his perverse tutelage. The idea of another Sharingan user to challenge Lee, or vice-versa, was quite an exciting one. He silently vowed to train his student in the fine art of beating Sharingan ass upon his return as he read.
Uchiha Sasuke. Rookie of the year. Scored top marks in all but written exams where one student surpassed his scores. Taijutsu is superb, well above that of his peers. Has advanced knowledge of Katon Ninjutsu. Able to dispel Genjutsu at a Jonin level. Has a focused mind and is able to understand new concepts at starling speed. A prodigy.
Gai couldn't help but feel a sense of deja vu. He could have sworn that he'd read the same file a number of years ago. Sasuke's file was disturbingly similar to his elder brother's...and they all knew how well that sociopath turned out. Shuddering slightly at the thought; and realizing once more that he needed to pass down the art of battling Sharingan, just in case something happened, Gai continued to read the files in the book.
Aburame Shino was a promising shinobi. Well balanced and with an extremely tactical mind. But he would do better with a sensei more talented in teaching the art of stealth. Gai's approach tended to be a bit more...direct. What he needed was someone who not only would fit well in his combat specialized team, but an aspiring ninja who could benefit from his training.
The Haruno girl was easily looked over for the facts that he already had an excellent kunoichi on his team and that this girl seemed more interested in her hair and fawning over the young Uchiha than anything else. There wasn't a place on Team Gai for someone who didn't have their heart in the job.
Inuzuka Kiba was the leading choice thus far. Solid family Ninjutsu and Taijutsu. A fitting shinobi to fill Lee's spot.
His eyes easily glided over the profile for the Hyuuga heiress. She had little confidence and with Neji being on the same team it just wouldn't help...at all.
Neither the Akimichi, the Yamanaka or the Nara; the last of whom had been well below average scores, would do. They were better off sticking together for the synergy their techniques created.
The other candidates didn't seem very promising. Most of them, he was sure, would stop ninja training after they failed their Genin test and become civilians. That was a great strength of the Hidden Leaf Village. Most citizens knew at least the three basic academy jutsu, having once trained as shinobi themselves. Though not proficient enough to defeat a well trained Genin, every civilian in th village knew basic self defense maneuvers.
Getting a bit sleepy, Gai yawned widely. Though he was at the peak of his life in physical condition, he had skipped a nights sleep to ensure Lee had everything packed that he needed.
He was on the last few pages, still finding no one student of particular interest. The final page, near where he had skipped ahead to locate the Nara, held the final two entries that caught his attention.
Firstly their was a boy named Sai who joined the academy just a week from graduation. Not much was known about his skills, as no one had time to gauge them, but he had been able to perform the basic three jutsu required of him by the academy and therefore passed. He only took one test prior to the graduation exam..and he hadn't done well at all, making his grades just above Naruto's.
The little bundle of youth had passed the graduation exam by special circumstances...quite similarly to Lee but even more astounding. Not only had the blonde mastered the Kage Bunshin, but he had stopped the treacherous Mizuki from obtaining the scroll. Gai decided to ignore the fact that Naruto had stolen it, and focus on the fact that he had been able to do so in the first place. These revelations of the young Jinchuuriki's abilities left him to question his instruction at the academy.
The boy had very poor Taijutsu and Genjutsu skills; both fields holding premiere specialists right here in Konoha, himself being one of them. Ninjutsu wise, Naruto seemed to have a lot of potential. He didn't understand all the concepts that went into creating a shadow clone, but he knew that even Kakashi, Konoha's foremost Ninjutsu expert, seldom used the technique for the drawbacks that it had chakra wise. If this report was to be believed, Naruto created several times more than the Copy Ninja could on his best day.
The thought of training such a student made him grin sleepily yet at the same time with exuberance. Lee, dedicated as he was to training, had no talent when Gai first met him. None at all. Everything he had in Taijutsu was gained strictly from harsh training. Now imagine what he could do with a spirit as youthful as Lee's..but with many times the raw talent.
With his decision for the third member of Team Gai made, the Jonin decided it was time to sleep. Gai clapped his hands and the lights went out, the disco ball on the ceiling sparkled dully as it spun to life.
The next morning found Gai in the meeting room for the Jonin council. Kakashi, clearly planning on being fashionably late, was nowhere to be seen. Kurenai had been waiting in the office even before Gai had arrived. Granted, he had come here on his hands, but still. Soon after Jonin and Academy instructors began to fill in the place. The Green Beast received many strange looks, even more than usual. Not many were aware that he needed a third member for his team or why. When Kakashi finally showed, perverted book in tow, they began to observe the potential Genin through the crystal ball.
Many of the girls were fawning over Uchiha-san, clearly most of them wouldn't make it as shinobi; possibly the Haruno girl and the Yamanaka girl had the genetic talent. The Nara boy looked half sleep already, his longtime friend chomping away on a bottomless bag of potato chips. The Aburame was sitting so still one might believe he was asleep behind those sunglasses. The Hyuuga heiress simply sat quietly, sneaking glances to the upper corner of the room every now and then.
What surprised most of the instructors in the room, and the Hokage, was the person sitting in that far corner. Uzumaki Naruto, as they knew him, was just sitting, staring out the window with empty eyes.
"Hey! What is he doing there? I know for a fact that Uzumaki failed!" an instructor demanded.
"Oh that's right. I don't believe that you are all aware that Naruto passed a..special examination last night. Iurka-san felt that Naruto should be allowed to graduate with his peers." The aged Hokage explained calmly, though there was always that steel undertone that so many feared and respected. "Now then, we shall discuss the nine students who will be considered for becoming Genin and place them into teams."
Sarutobi looked to his son. "Asuma." the named Jonin straightened a bit as his name was called out. "Because you have been on the most missions with the Ino-Shika-Cho team, you will take Yamanaka Ino, Nara Shikamaru, and Akimichi Choji as Team Ten. It is most likely that they will work together efficiently enough as a squad of capture and interrogation."
"Hm." the Hokage murmured as he gazed at a sheet of paper. "The next squad shall be formed of Hyuuga Hinata, Aburame Shino, and Inuzuka Kiba of Team Eight under Yuhi Kurenai. A tracking and reconnaissance team." The red eyed Jonin nodded in recognition, happy to have gotten the Hyuuga heiress onto her team.
Sandaime glanced to Kakashi, who was half paying attention to the meeting. "It is unanimous that Kakashi will train Sasuke, being the only other Sharingan user..in Konoha." Sarutobi openly acknowledged the missing ninja Uchiha Itachi.
Several murmurs of agreement and encouragement ran through the room. Clearly they all wanted Sasuke trained to achieve the height of his abilities.
"So," Kakashi spoke lazily, "who are my other two students." He didn't even sound interested enough to want the answer.
"Haruno Sakura scored the top marks among all the kunoichi and will therefore be placed with the top shinobi, Uchiha Sasuke." Sandaime answered. "Your third student will naturally be the one with the lowest marks, Uzu-"
Gai took this moment to interject. "Pardon me Hokage-sama, but I would like to request that Naruto be placed on my team!" he exclaimed while proudly jerking a thumb toward himself.
The Hokage seemed surprised by this, but not nearly as much as the others in the room. "What are you smokin Gai?" Genma asked casually. Upon hearing the two of the Sarutobi clan clear their throats, he gently rephrased the question. "I mean, what are you high on Gai?"
Gai instantly gave a charming smile. "The flames of youth of course!"
Genma sweat-dropped, as did others in the room. "Well it was clearly my mistake for asking like that..what I mean is, don't you already have a full roster Genin Team?"
Gai sighed, his smile dropping. "No longer, I'm afraid." he denied as he shook his head. "My student Rock Lee has left Konoha for reasons that are his own, with Hokage-sama's permission. As there are no students in need of a team at the moment, I must chose a disciple from this years graduating class. And there is no one better suited for my team than a youthful spirit such a Naruto!" the green man finished with excitement.
The Hokage made a thoughtful noise as he leaned back in his seat, considering this. "It is the tradition to rank lowest ranking students with the highest scoring.."
Gai was undeterred. "That may be," he agreed, "however, Naruto's scores are the equivalence of what Lee's were. Considering that Hyuuga Neji is on my team, that makes it even."
Kakashis visible eye widened a fraction. "That makes a surprising amount of sense..coming from Gai."
Deciding to ignore that for the moment, the Green Beast went on. "Furthermore," he continued with a 'logical' face, "would it not be more fair to consider Naruto's personal growth? His potential would surely not be reached if he were to be taught by Kakashi!" he gestured wildly and, by some miracle, toward said Jonin.
Icha Icha Paradise would have to wait. Snapping his book shut, and fighting the urge to ask Gai if he said something, Kakashi's eye narrowed slightly. "Are you saying I'm not a capable sensei?" he asked evenly.
"Not a all rival!" Gai dismissed with a boisterous laugh. "I am simply stating that a student such as Naruto would do better under my supervision."
"How so?" Sandaime asked, interested.
"For one thing," Gai held up a finger, "You have already seen what I can do with a student labeled as a 'dead last' by the academy."
Several faces became sheepish at that. The instructors had all believed that Rock Lee simply could not be a ninja. Gai had shown them up by proving it was their instructing that had caused Lee to be no good.
"Secondly," Gai continued, holding up a second finger, "Kakashi is a born genius. Naruto is...not. Would a genius such as Kakashi be able to understand and bring out the potential of a student who lacks his natural talent? Especially since Naruto is not of any clan, unlike the larger number of students planned to graduate this year. Thirdly, Kakashi will undoubtably be giving the young Uchiha special attention; where would that leave Naruto?"
By now Gai was giving the Hokage his 'intense' stare. This consisted of leaning onto his desk with both hands, one eye shut as he other bore into the aged ninja, his head shifting directions slightly.
The Hokage sighed. "Gai, what have we said about personal space?" His tone one that he would normally take with a child...mostly because he had been telling Gai this since he was a child.
Gai leaned back. "I have no idea." he admitted honestly.
Another sigh. "Despite the..theatrical presentation, you have made your point more than valid. And I suppose that taking Naruto out of this class would make the new student Sai his replacement for Kakashi's Team Seven. Very well. I grant you Uzumaki Naruto for the existing Team One."
"What an honor." one of the instructors muttered sarcastically as the Hokage dispensed teams that were not meant to pass.
Gai's response. "Yosh!"
I would like to thank my Beta, Teh Randomness Girl for her excellent work, as always.
The Pitch: This was originally going to be a NaruTema due to my other story, Naruto Uzumaki: Shinobi of the World, not containing that pairing. However, upon my changing of that scenario, I decided that this should be a NaruTen due to the popularity of this among my fans and there being so few (100 exactly, only one fifth of which are completed). So I came up with a way to have Lee out of Konoha for the time being and Naruto can get a good teacher.
My Beef Against Kakashi: Let me make it clear that I don't hate Kakashi as a character. He's actually quite cool, which is why it irritates the hell out of me that he's such a crappy teacher. I guess I'll start from the beginning. (Cracks knuckles)
Kakashi's treatment of Naruto was wrong starting from the bell test. How on earth do you expect a boy who has been ostracized by his own village to just grasp the concept of teamwork like that? Naruto's never had anyone really looking out for him, especially not his classmates. While the exercise would be understandable for Sasuke (if he weren't such a stuck up prick) as he has been pampered by his village, it makes no sense for Kakashi to reasonably expect Naruto to rely on two people who have never been there for him, i,e. Sasuke and Sakura, to help him. Naruto, despite his outgoing personality, is a loner from the beginning of the series. What kind of f&king idiot is Kakashi not to be able to see that anyway?
Next is the training. Or lack thereof. Let's list what Kakashi taught Naruto before the time skip: Climbing Trees...and that's it. Kakashi regards Sasuke more highly than Naruto, that much is pitifully obvious; as he watched Neji fight Hinata, he privately thought that not even Sasuke could stand up to him, as if that bastard set the bar for Genin standards; also when he told Naruto that he couldn't train him, he blatantly said he had more important things to take care of (though it was different in Japanese but delivers the same message). We all know that how Kakashi abandoned Naruto during the one month break of the Chunin exam is more than a little messed up. Granted that things worked out for the best (with Naruto finding a stronger teacher more willing to train him) Kakashi didn't know that would happen. What exactly was better chakra control going to do to help Naruto defeat a Hyuuga prodigy!? He probably planned on Naruto losing and training him in the next exam, the bastard.
First and foremost, if you can't train more than one student at once, don't take a three man squad. Secondly, Kakashi knows the Kage Bunshin. He freakin knows it! Why couldn't he have at least made one to instruct Naruto. Thirdly, and this is the kicker, he had the gall to reprimand Jiraiya for teaching Naruto the Rasengan after he had taught Sasuke the Chidori! This clearly indicates that, while he knew the technique all along, Kakashi had no plans of teaching it to Naruto because he didn't think he could handle it appropriately. WTF did he think Sunshine boy was going to do with the Chidori; use it as a magnetic force to attract an ice cream truck for the Konohamaru corps to have a snack!? Hell no! He actually believed that Sasuke would use it to protect his fellow shinobi of the Leaf. Didn't he spend a lot of alone time with Sasuke? You'd think he was a little more observant of the fact that everything Sasuke did was toward killing Itachi...especially since the prick had said that! Argh! Baka! Baka! Baka!
This whole thing has really been eating at me after I saw Naruto's new training after the time skip. Kakashi had said that Sasuke had taken several days learning how to use lightning. How long did it take Naruto to master his element? One. Freaking. Day. Okay, so maybe Naruto couldn't create a thousand clones on the fly during the Chunin exams, but he was pretty damn close. Also, let's not forget the rather ironic fact that Naruto mastered the Rasengan in roughly one month, the same amount of time taken to train for the third round...a rather obvious smear on Kakashi's poor teaching. The idiot doesn't even realize how Jiraiya taught Naruto the Rasengan because Kakashi is a genius ninja and Naruto is not and therefore the copy-ninja cannot teach it to Naruto.
Kakashi is and excellent ninja. The top jounin in Konohagakure. Former ANBU captain. But I'll be damned if he ain't a sh$ty sensei.