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Story Arc for Chapter 3 and possibly Chapter 4 (Land of Waves Arc will continue on Chapter 5)

Shinigami of the Leaf: Team Selections, the Bell Test, and the Land of Waves Arc Part I

Time Skip: Morning after Forbidden Scroll Incident

Hokage Tower

Sitting behind the oak table is the Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen. Currently, he is battling his most deadly foe: Paperwork. This day has more paperwork than normal due to the amount of inquiries or complaints due to the release of Ichigo's zanpakutō known as Ryūjin Jakka. The Hokage could not help but be awed again by the firestorm unleashed by their most powerful shinobi. He could see how fitting the title 'Hokage' will be if he can trick or blackmail Ichigo in the position. No such luck yet on his plans. However, the revelation yesterday has caused the Hokage to frown in worry on the mental and emotional state of his surrogate grandson. He received the message that Ichigo and Naruto will be visiting him later to clear things up and hopefully avoid the possible disaster of Naruto snapping and become like the infamous jinchūriki of Suna; Subaku no Gaara and go on a killing spree on everyone that has hurt him in the past. He can only hope that such an event will never happen.

Knowing that overthinking things will just cause him due stress, he picked up a pencil and looked at the innocent paperwork that is sitting on his table mocking him. He can swear to Kami that the paperwork grew a little more during his musings. He can only do one thing and curse his late successor, the Yondaime.

"DAMN YOU MINATOOOO!" cursed the Sandaime.

Kurosaki Household

Naruto woke up with a headache. Last night's events shook the core of his world. Knowing the real reason why the people hate him brought an ache to the heart of our blonde ninja. He was also forever thankful to his aniki, one Kurosaki Ichigo, for being there for him and never looking at him like a thing or worse the Kyuubi reborn. Since being broody and emo-like will never help him in the long run, he heaved himself of his comfortable bed and went inside the bathroom to do his morning rituals. He also hoped that news of his burden will never reach the ears of his friends for fear of losing them due to the Kyuubi imprisoned inside of him.

In another part of the house, Kurosaki Ichigo woke up from his sleep and finished his morning rituals. He went to the kitchen and prepared for breakfast. Upon doing said task, he cannot help but think back at what happened last night at the clearing. The very world of Naruto was broken so ruthlessly that he cannot help but to wish for that teme of a traitor to be alive again and again, with him casting all of the Hado spells he knew and let the man know the true meaning of pain. Upon arriving home last night, Naruto opened the floodgates again and sobbed on the realisation that his hero, the Yondaime has cursed him to this lonely existence. Ichigo provided emotional support to his badly shaken brother, whispered reassuring words, and giving advice to young Naruto. Naruto and he will be visiting the aged Hokage later so Naruto can get the full story on what happened 12 years ago during his birthday. He was broken out of his thoughts by the entrance of his brother and smell of burning omelettes. He quickly removed pan from the stove to prevent it burning more. He turned to his brother and greeted him.

"Ohayo Naruto. How are you feeling?" asked Ichigo with concern colouring his tone. He finished his cooking and set up the table for breakfast.

"Ohayo Ichigo-nii, I'm still shaken up a bit, but a lot better than last night. Thanks for being there for me and never looking at me differently regardless of my tenant." stated Naruto sincerely. He smiled at the boy fondly and ruffled his hair.

"Maa… let's get out of this depressing mood and eat. I've made your favourite, aside from ramen to cheer you up Ruto." said Ichigo and watched as Naruto smiled a little and started eating. Ichigo just smiled at his otouto's reaction. It was a bit better than yesterday. Soon this drama will be over, and Naruto will be back to his old cheery self.

Time Skip: Afternoon

Hokage Tower

The Sandaime has just finished today's batch of paperwork. He prepared himself for the discussion of a lifetime. Just as he was about to ask his secretary if both Ichigo and Naruto have arrived, a knock on his door interrupted him.

"Come in!" ordered the Sandaime. Upon opening, the figures of both his appointees are shown.

"Ah Naruto-kun and Ichigo-san, please come in and make yourself comfortable. I sense we will have a long afternoon." invited the old Kage. Both of his guests accepted the invitation gracefully and proceeded to make both of them comfortable.

"ANBU leave us!" ordered the Hokage crisply. After making sure that no outsiders or unwanted persons are within hearing range of his office, the Hokage went through some hand-seals and activated the silencing and privacy jutsus of his office.

"Naruto, what you have inside of you was the effort of the Yondaime in hopes of saving the village and seeing you as the hero." started the elder Sarutobi. Naruto just nodded and remained quiet.

"After the sealing, news spread fast among the Konoha Council of your status as Kyuubi's jailor. I tried to protect you then by passing an S-rank law that forbid anyone that is not in the know to spread, talk, gossip, or even think of your status as Kyuubi's jinchūriki. Now, a civilian council member has spread the news that you are the so called 'Kyuubi incarnate' to some shinobis that have lost their loved ones during its rampage on the village. Rest assured however, that said council member was executed publicly in front of many witnesses. However, the damage has been done. The public execution may have stopped the villagers from attempting to harm you in such a young age, but the hate has festered to the point it has passed way breaking point. As soon as you have started walking and talking, the villagers decided to 'finish' what the Yondaime has started and kill you, and through your death, the death of Kyuubi." explained Sarutobi forlornly.

He stopped from recanting after seeing Naruto sobbing quietly, but heavily. Ichigo just embraced his adopted younger brother, his narrowed eyes and barely contained rage clearly visible in his brown eyes. Ichigo continued reassuring his brother and promised that he will never be alone again. Sarutobi just give them all the time they needed to compose themselves, especially Naruto. After a few minutes of Naruto releasing all of his grief and controlling it, did Sarutobi continued with his tale.

"It all started with the glares and the sneers. However, as time progressed it became much worse. I've upped the punishment on the law; it still did not deter the people of what they think of you. I have tried to let someone adopt you, but the civilian council has been blocking my attempts for your adoption. However that changed when your Ichigo-nii has witnessed an attack on you when you are 7 years old." told the Hokage. It got a small smile of happiness from Naruto and a look of protectiveness and fondness from the Shinigami of the Leaf. Sarutobi continued with his tale since this was one of the most important turning points in Naruto's life.

"The day you were found by Ichigo, was also the day that Ichigo learned about the horrific life you have led. On that day itself, you Naruto became the adopted otouto of Kurosaki Ichigo." finished the Sandaime. Naruto just looked at his nii-san gratefully and with adoration. However, the Hokage was not done yet. Sarutobi stood up and approached where the brothers were sat, and surprised them by bowing on the ground and muttered:

"Kurosaki-Uzumaki Naruto, please forgive me for my short-sightedness, I have only wanted what was best for you, and yet it did the opposite." apologized the Hokage. Naruto just sat there slacked jawed at what his surrogate grandfather is doing. Ichigo just nodded at him encouragingly, and looked at him silently saying that it is his decision what to do with the Hokage's apology.

"Ano… Jiji, stand up. I have forgiven you already. I know you kept this from me, because you believe it will damage me mentally or emotionally. Rest assured I am not. Thanks to the support I got from you, Ichigo-nii, Kakashi-nii, and Iruka-sensei." stated Naruto embarrassingly scratching the back of his head. The Sandaime stood up from his position and hugged the boy.

"Thank you Naruto, for putting me at ease with myself." murmured the Hokage with sincerity and relief. The Hokage backed away from his grandson and made his way back to his seat.

"Now that you know Naruto, what else do you wish to know?" asked the Hokage. Naruto looked unsure for a while before looking at the Hokage straight in the eye.

"When will you tell me Jiji about my father being the Yondaime?" asked Naruto calmly and firmly. Hiruzen paled and Ichigo looked shocked that his brother was able to deduce his parents without anyone telling him. Sarutobi recomposed himself and voice the thought plaguing his mind about the revelation.

"H-how did you know that your father was the Yondaime?" asked the Hokage. Naruto just smiled sheepishly at him for a moment before explaining himself to the Sandaime.

"Well it is not very hard to deduce, I just found out about in yesterday. Aside from the obvious physical attributes like the blonde hair and blue eyes, which there are only two possible options for this: the Yamanaka clan or the Yondaime. The final piece of the puzzle was: Who will the Yondaime Hokage trusts the most when it comes to guarding the Kyuubi? The answer is simple, his son of course. You can thank Ichigo-nii for teaching me to think through everything that is presented to me, and never letting any amount of useful information to waste." said the grinning Naruto, with Ichigo grumbling about 'cheeky brats'. The Hokage just shook his head in response.

"Naruto-kun, I must ask you; what are your feelings towards your late father?" asked the Sandaime. He was worried Naruto will be resenting him for the rest of his life. Although, he cannot hope to change the boy's mind once he has settled for something, it is best to know if he needs to avoid talking about Minato with Naruto around.

"To be honest jiji, I really don't know how to feel about him. At first I was extremely angry at him for damning me to this fate, but I then realised that it will lead me to nowhere. I then examined my options and found that being simply apathetic to his existence is most preferable. I can thank him for being my progenitor, but after that, I am simply apathetic to his existence. I may not hate him, but I simply do not care if he lives or dies. He is just simply another person to me. This disposition of mine may change with time jiji, but I cannot guarantee anything right now." explained Naruto. Ichigo shot him a concerned but understanding look, but Sarutobi decided to at least try and change the boy's mind. However before he can open his mouth to voice his reply, Naruto continued on.

"I know you will try at least to change my view of him, but I cannot see him as my loving father. He may be my biological father, but Ichigo-nii-san here has filled the spot of being a proper tou-san quite admirably. As I said earlier, I cannot guarantee my apathetic disposition towards him will remain or change overtime. I am saying no more on this matter." declared Naruto firmly. Sarutobi just gave a resigned sigh of acceptance and nodded his head. Naruto, on the other hand, felt somewhat free, he cannot explain it, but after figuring out his emotions for his biological father, nothing really comes to mind at him. He may respect him as a great shinobi, but as a father; well there is more left to be desired. He knew that it may be too early to judge the late Yondaime, but to him 7 years of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse was already enough. He will try to see if his feelings about the Yondaime will change with time, but to be bothered about his feelings on his biological father is something he did not weighing him down right now.

"Well, since this is over, Naruto; team selection will happen a month later so that Iruka can properly recover from his injuries. I suggest you train for a while, so that your body will not get used to being lax. And judging from who your aniki is, I doubt you will get much rest because of his training regimen." advised the Hokage, he later hid a smirk at the shiver that went through Naruto. If there is also another legendary thing Ichigo was known for, it was his brutal tort-, training, methods.

After exchanging some more banal conversation with the Hokage, both Naruto and Ichigo left and returned to their home in comfortable silence. Naruto was thinking of enjoying his last moment of pure rest, whilst Ichigo was devising his otouto's torturous training regime that will fit in a month. It was also at this moment that Naruto felt a shiver of dread creep up his spine; he really did not want to know what his aniki will do to his training regimen, it is better to be ignorant for a few more hours.

Time Skip: Morning

Kurosaki Backyard

Naruto was undergoing his stretches for his first day of serious training with his nii-san. His previous training with his aniki is just to introduce the basics of the taijutsu and kenjutsu being used by his aniki to him. Since his other nii-san, Hatake Kakashi, will be a jōnin-sensei, he cannot ask for additional training on chakra control and ninjutsus anymore. His aniki promised him on finding him capable prospective sensei in those areas. So here he was now, apprentice to one infamous Kurosaki Ichigo in the way of hand-to-hand combat and kenjutsu. His nii-san promised to teach him a different style than what he saw in other Konoha shinobis. This promise alone made him giddy in excitement. However, he shook those thoughts away from him now. If there is one thing his nii-san hates, it is inattention. He better finish his stretches before his nii-san comes out and starts pushing or rather, starts kicking his ass, all around the backyard.

Ichigo woke up and finished his morning rituals. He ate a light breakfast to prepare himself training Naruto for a month. He stepped outside and was pleasantly surprised that his little brother is busy doing his stretches. He smiled proudly at him and waited for him to be noticed by his brother.

Naruto just finished his last set of stretches when he noticed that he was not alone in the backyard anymore. He turned around and saw his nii-san looking at him proudly. The look made him break out in a happy smile because the looks his brother is giving him always seems to tell that he can do it and nothing others say will change that. He then noticed his brother walking towards him casually with his hands inside his pockets, and before he knew it, Ichigo was already in front of him.

"Ohayo nii-san!" greeted Naruto cheerfully. Ichigo just nodded at his greeting and replied

"Ohayo ototuo, getting ready I see…" commented Ichigo. Naruto then noticed his aniki turn very serious.

"Good. Starting today you will start calling me sensei, understood?" commented Ichigo sternly. Naruto gulped and nodded his head in acceptance.

"Now, what I will teach you for the next four weeks will be taijutsu and kenjutsu. Since you have a total of 200 lbs. of extra weight thanks to those training weights I placed on you. It will be of great benefit to your strength and speed. I will add another 25 pounds on your weights to increase your natural strength and speed. In taijutsu, I will delve into the more advanced katas of my taijutsu style; same principle also applies in your kenjutsu training. The first two weeks will focus on taijutsu, whilst the last two will be focused on kenjutsu. Sundays are reserved for rest days understood?" listed Ichigo. Naruto just nodded again in understanding.

However he was worried suddenly because he will become overspecialised in two of the four branches he is aiming for: Taijutsu, Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu, and Fūinjutsu. He has a simple reason for attaining equal levels in the four branches of combat: Taijutsu and Kenjutsu because of his nii-san skills in it, Ninjutsu is because of his massive reserves, and finally Fūinjutsu due to his innate interest in it.

His interest in Fūinjutsu began when he stumbled upon a book of introductory seals in the library of his aniki and was instantly hooked to it. Sealing seems to come easy to him, and if what he read is true, sealing is one of the most complex, deadly, and useful field in the shinobi arts. Thanks to his calligraphy lessons he has started working on simple storage scrolls. The lack of reading material on the subject of sealing is one of the flaws in his nii-san's library, which said man promised to fix in the near future. Genjutsu is out of the question, since his massive reserves forbids him learning it. If he can find a genjutsu than have relatively high chakra requirements, then he can learn it. Finally his control exercises must continue, lest he want his chakra control to be shot to hell. Ichigo must have noticed his confused and worried expression and stated:

"Use shadow clones in practicing your Ninjutsus, Chakra Control, and Fūinjutsu." explained Ichigo. Naruto was startled and confused why his nii-san thought that clones could help. Ichigo just continued explaining.

"Shadow clones give its creator its experiences when dispelled. For example, if a clone works on chakra control all day then dispel, its experience on chakra control will be passed on to you. Lucky for you, your massive reserves can help you make a crap ton of clones to do multiple things simultaneously. However, and you better listen attentively, if you dispel large amounts of shadow clones at the same time, chances are you will become a vegetable residing in Konoha's Hospital forever due to a fried brain. So to reduce or remove the risk, you dispel your clones by batch with a five minute interval among each batch. Am I understood otouto?" explained Ichigo. Naruto was in awe on how useful the jutsu his Kakashi-nii taught him. However, that expression fell quickly when he realised how dangerous the technique is when abused. Naruto just nodded at his nii-san in understanding. Ichigo nodded his head and continued.

"Now Naruto, create 100 clones. 50 clones will work on your chakra control, 25 clones will work on ninjutsus and the last 25 will work on Fūinjutsu. Do it now." ordered Ichigo. Naruto nodded and put his hand in infamous cross sign and exclaimed:

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" suddenly, 100 perfect replicas of Naruto stood before their creator, waiting for his signal to start.

"You guys know what to do. Hop to it boys! Dispel one if you need additional manpower." ordered Naruto to his clones.

"Hai Taichou!" responded the clones as one and set off to work on their respective tasks.

"Alright Naruto, let us begin your training! Kukukuku…"stated Ichigo with a certain gleam of ruthlessness in his eyes making Naruto gulp and pray for his safety.

Time Skip: A Month Later

It has been a brutal month for Naruto; his temporary sensei does not know the word restraint. For the past month, his aniki has been drilling him into the ground with katas, a few theories here and there behind the moves taught to him, and a few strategies where he can apply the moves he learned from him. Physically, he has been battered and bruised but his extremely advanced healing factor and his aniki's healing kido spells are working wonders to his body. He goes to sleep stiff after a healing session from Ichigo, and wakes up fully refreshed.

However, it did not mean he did not learn anything from him. Aside from being a sadist of a sensei, he is also a very effective sensei, able to point out flaws immediately and teach theories in simple words, He also do not sugar coat or beat around the bush as well when saying something, pointing a flaw, or explaining a theory behind a move. He is just very blunt and direct. After the first two weeks, his aniki informed him that his skill in hand-to-hand combat is at least mid to high chūnin without his weights restricting his movements, low-chūnin if he does have weights. Experience in it was balanced by the number of times he was sparring with his aniki in a pure taijutsu match.

In kenjutsu, Naruto is thriving. It seems he has also taking kenjutsu like fish to water, but to a lesser degree than his innate talents in fūinjutsu. He has already started on some advanced kenjutsu moves, and he can say that he has an extremely long way to go if he wants to match his aniki in kenjutsu someday. It also during this time that he has gained a special katana from his aniki, the katana gifted to him came from Tetsu no Kuni. Originally, Naruto's katana was one of the rewards the Samurai General Mifune has given to his aniki. It was made from high quality chakra metal, but since Ichigo has Ryūjin Jakka, which to Naruto's opinion; the best katana out there, Ichigo gave the katana to Naruto to keep and use wisely.

Delving further with regards to his kenjutsu lessons, one of the skills his aniki is teaching him is Iaido which is the drawing of the sword from its scabbard and slicing his opponents extremely fast, removing the blood, and sheathing the sword in one movement. The result if properly done is a bifurcated enemy. So far Naruto has still trouble performing the slice, since resistance from the target dummy means his swings are not powerful and fast enough. But his aniki told him that it takes time, patience, and practice to fully master it. To make Naruto train more in perfecting the Iaido, Ichigo promised him that if he masters the technique he will try to teach him Hitotsume: Nadegiri. Naruto, who is naturally confused, since he does not know what the technique is asked for a demonstration, Ichigo just grinned at him mischievously and asked Naruto to step aside and watch him. Naruto did so, and watch as his aniki placed his left hand on Ryūjin Jakka's scabbard and used his thumb to release the katana from the lock. Ichigo then placed his right hand on Ryūjin Jakka's hilt and drew the blade extremely fast before sheathing it with a click. Naruto face-faulted and was about to berate his aniki when he heard sounds of crashing, looking towards the sound, he saw multitude of trees from the forest beyond their yard falling like they have been snapped in half like twigs.

Shock that was the only thing Naruto felt when the effects of his aniki's technique took place. Ichigo just laughed at Naruto's dumbfounded look and told him that Iaido, for Ichigo, is just a toddler's version of his move. Naruto just nodded and steeled his resolve to learn his aniki's killing technique.

Thanks to his massive chakra reserves, and liberal use of shadow clones, he is doing great progress in the fields of ninjutsu, chakra control, and fūinjutsu. He is already studying expert level seals and started creating his own storage scrolls and exploding tags. Since he did not need to buy sealing scrolls and exploding tags, he is able to save money.

In ninjutsu, since his brother's library is 80% jutsus of every element, he was able to train his wind affinity to the fullest. He learned some C to A-rank Fūton jutsus like Fūton: Daitoppa, Fūton: Kami Oroshi, and Fūton: Renkūdan. He also trained in using fire jutsus, since his learning curve in wind release jutsus are impressive, and since he wants some form of trump card against his opponents in the form of collaboration jutsus thanks to his liberal use of shadow clones. His skills in Katon jutsus are growing steadily and he now learns some C-class Katon jutsus that will jump to B or A-rank if combined with his Fūton jutsus. Some of his Katon jutsus are Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu, Katon: Karyūdan, and Katon: Endan. However, he also learned some non-elemental jutsus as well. Two of these non-elemental jutsus are the Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu and the Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. Naruto uses his time during Sundays to go to abandoned training grounds and practice these jutsus after his clones learned at able to use it efficiently.

Academy Classroom: Team Selection Day

It is team selection day. Naruto is excited. He hoped that his nii-san will be his jōnin-sensei, but his aniki informed him that he will not be a jōnin-sensei because he does not use chakra. That piece of news made Naruto sad a little but perked up when Ichigo informed him that his Kakashi-nii may become his future team's jōnin-sensei. He snapped out of his thoughts and walked inside the academy.

During the past month, his physical body underwent changes, one of them is his height, no longer is him the shortest in the academy. His strict diet under Ichigo made sure of that, plus his healing factor repairing his stunted growth made him as one of the tallest in the academy with a height of 5'4. His body also catered to both speed and power making lean, not scrawny anymore. He also is decked in a modified jōnin outfit courtesy of Ichigo giving it to him the night before.

His outfit consists of black long-sleeved shirt that is rolled up just above the wrists. He wears a modified green flak jacket, with three pockets on each side of the chest that contains his storage scrolls. The jacket is also plated on the inside, one at the front and one at the back with a highly durable and light steel He wears fingerless black gloves. The metal plates on the backside of the gloves have an imprinted swirl, signifying his long lost clan. He wears a highly durable black combat pants. On his right thigh is a strapped ninja pouch containing extra ninja tools and scrolls for backup. He wears steel-plated boots that completes his militaristic look. He also has his forehead protector on and strapped on his back is the katana gifted to him by Ichigo during his one-month torturous training sessions with him.

He brought of his musings when he opened the door to the classroom and felt all eyes on him. Outwardly, he remained indifferent to their stares. Inwardly, he was cackling up a storm since they believed he was still an orphan. Only Shikamaru, Chouji, Kiba, and now Iruka learns the truth of him being Ichigo's adopted family member. With that in mind, he strode forward and sat on his customary place beside Shikamaru. Not long after sitting down, Shikamaru turned to him and commented:

"You are so troublesome Ruto…" stated the lazy Nara. Naruto just grinned at him and proceeded to wait for Iruka to start the announcement of teams. He tuned out Iruka's graduation speech since he has heard something similar already from his nii-san and Hokage-jiji so he does not need to listen to that kind of speech again.

"…I repeat to you graduating students: Congratulations!" finished Iruka. Naruto focused back on the man as he listed down the teams assigned by the Hokage.

"…Team 7 will be composed of Uchiha Sasuke…" all the fangirls tensed, waiting to be partnered to the Uchiha, the men, like Naruto, are indifferent to the Uchiha's placement. Sasuke has been shoving everyone away, they look at them like crutches or simpletons that is not worthy of his time. Naruto has long since rendered Sasuke's existence with indifference.

"…Haruno Sakura and…" Iruka was cut off when the pink banshee of Konaha has made herself known with her usual grating and annoying voice.

"Ha! I win Ino-pig!" screeched the banshee. Naruto just pulled out his ear plugs after the monstrosity has finished speaking. Kiba, Chouji, and Shikamaru glared at him for not helping them with the sound problem. That, and add the fact that Kiba and Akamaru's ears are violently ringing due to being highly sensitive, Shikamaru for being disrupted from his nap, and Chouji for dropping his bag of chips due to being startled. Iruka just performed his patented jutsu on the annoying girl.

"SHUT UP HARUNO AND LET ME FINISH SPEAKING!" shouted Iruka, silencing the worthless girl immediately. That was also one of the gripes that Naruto have with other students. Well mostly the female population. They are so weak that it is making Konoha look like a joke. Fangirls and shinobi or kunoichi are two words that should never be together in one sentence. When no one muttered a single word, a combination of a silent and suffering sigh escaped the scarred chūnin. He coughed lightly and continued.

"As I was saying: Team 7 will be composed of Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Kurosaki-Uzumaki Naruto. Your jōnin-sensei will be Hatake Kakashi." announced Iruka. The majority of the class just stared at Naruto with confusion due to his added family name. All of one stared except for Shikamaru, Chouji, and Kiba who knows that Naruto's aniki is one of the deadliest shinobi alive in the Elemental Nations.

Naruto just ignored the stares and tuned off Iruka again after his team assignment. If there is one thing Naruto felt when it was revealed that his team consist of an avenger-emo and a useless excuse for a kunoichi, he was instantly disappointed. Knowing that him showing skills in battle in future missions will lead to Sasuke nagging him, with his number one fangirl backing him up every time. He was at least happy that his Kakashi-nii will be their sensei during their genin lives. Despite him tuning Iruka off, he heard and understood quickly that Team 8 will be composed of Kiba, Hinata, and Shino. Since Team 9 is still in circulation, it was skipped and Team 10 members were announced. The newest generation of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio were part of this team, well only Shikamaru and Chouji will have no problem with each other, it is Ino that will be, as Shikamaru stated time and again, 'troublesome' and Naruto cannot agree more. Once all teams were announced, Iruka gave them another congratulatory gesture for graduating the academy and a good luck in their shinobi careers. He then dismissed the newly minted genin for lunch and ordered them to be back at the room after an hour for their respective sensei to pick them up.

Naruto, knowing that Kakashi will be at most 3 hours late, decided to start building rapport with his two teammates.

"Hey guys, want to eat at the BBQ restaurant or Ichiraku's? Let's get to know each other before meeting Kakashi-sensei…" suggested Naruto to his teammates. He waited for a reply and patiently. However, his patience was rewarded with a belittling remark from the 'last' Uchiha.

"I do not need to waste effort knowing you dobe." remarked Sasuke, with a smug smirk. Haruno, trying to appease his crush supported the remark of his 'Sasuke-kun'.

"YEAH, WHY DON'T YOU JUST SCRAM NARUTO-BAKA!" screeched the worthless banshee. Sasuke's ears dripped a bit of blood due to the banshee in close proximity to him, whilst Naruto just removed a pair of earplugs from his ears. Haruno understood the meaning and was about to shout at Naruto again, when said blonde just disappeared in a swirl of smoke and leaves. Both saw this and couldn't help but gape at the technique Naruto pulled. Sasuke just seethed and grit his teeth in jealously on what Naruto did do. Sakura just returned to asking the Uchiha for dates, with said Uchiha denying every advance she made at him.

Naruto disappeared in the room using Shunshin no Jutsu to taunt Sasuke mildly, and escape from the maddening screech the pink-haired banshee can unleash on him. Disappointed by the team's lack of professionalism, well Sasuke's and Haruno's professionalism, he decided to head home and grab lunch there. Seeing that his brother is out on a mission, Naruto just went straight to the kitched fixed him a light meal and enter the library to read a new advanced fūinjutsu book that his nii-san was able to procure in one village during one of his missions in his storied shinobi career.

Time Skip: 3 Hours, 45 Minutes

Naruto is currently having a casual walk towards the Academy, having foregone using the Shunshin jutsu again. He was currently organising everything he has read in the past 3 hours about seals. The sealing arts still manages to awe Naruto, after all the ability to seal objects inside a roll of scroll to imprisoning the tailed beasts in either organic or inorganic objects with just a few squiggles of lines that means nothing to anyone untrained in the arts is downright fascinating and awe-inspiring.

He was broken out from his musings upon arrival at the Academy. He walked leisurely towards the assignment room and opened the door. As expected, Kakashi is extremely late as well as him if he interprets the pending eruption from the banshee. Quickly and discreetly, he plugged a pair of earplugs to protect his precious hearing. The same cannot be the same for the avenger, because Haruno is practically sitting on top of him due to the closeness.

"YOU'RE LATE!" screeched the banshee. Naruto just eye-smiled at the enraged Haruno, completely careless about the steadily increasing rage the pink-haired girl is feeling right now. Naruto was spared however, when the door to the classroom opened and Kakashi showed his face to them. Naruto was not surprised since he has already felt Kakashi's chakra moments before he entered the room.

"Team 7?" asked the scarecrow ninja. Naruto just laughed inwardly at his nii-san's stupid question. However, before Kakashi can finish whatever he is planning on saying he was shouted by the pink-haired girl.

"YOU'RE LATE!" screeched the banshee. Naruto snickered when he saw a trail of blood leaving the ear of Sasuke that is nearest to Haruno. Kakashi just shook his head to clear the ringing of his ears due to the volume and pitch. Naruto just pulled out his earplugs; an action that got him a cheated look from Kakashi and a glare from the 'almighty' Uchiha. Kakashi decided to reply to Haruno's accusation.

"Maa… While I was walking towards the Academy, a black cat crossed my way, so I circled Konoha seven times so that bad luck will not bestow on me…" explained Kakashi, Naruto just looked at his nii-san incredulously because of the blatant and lame excuse. Haruno just voiced out the thoughts again of everyone using her cursed voice.

"LIAR!" screeched the banshee. Naruto just laughed more at the blood flowing down Sasuke's ears. He has to commend the Uchiha for surviving the screeches coming from her at close proximity. Kakashi just plowed on and decided to ignore the girl.

"…my first impression of you is that you are boring and I don't like you. Meet me at the roof in five minutes." ordered Kakashi and disappeared in gust of wind, smoke, and leaves. Naruto shrugged his shoulders and followed Kakashi's example and left using the same method. He never noticed the jealous glare of one brooding avenger.

Location: Academy Rooftop

Kakashi was reading a familiar orange book when he felt the chakra of his otouto appear on the rooftop. He looked up briefly and saw Naruto arriving with the same jutsu he used earlier. He nodded at Naruto, who returned the greeting and went back to reading his favourite art. Naruto on the other hand shook his head at his ero-nii-san and pulled out another book on seals and started reading where he left off.

Four minutes later, both Sasuke and Sakura exited the door that connects the stairwell to the roof of the academy. Both green genins saw that both Naruto and their sensei are reading something and did not seem to notice them arrive, Sakura being the obvious and naïve kunoichi that she is, coughed lightly so she can get their attention. However something happened that unnerved them lightly, both Naruto and Kakashi looked at them and eye-smiled. Naruto was able to pull it off without a face mask, which is a feat itself. Naruto closed his book and stood in front of Kakashi. The two seeing the meaning of the gesture, took their places accordingly. The Haruno placed herself on the right of Naruto whilst Sasuke placed himself on Naruto's left. Naruto saw the meaning of this, and snickered to himself quietly and discretely.

"Let us start my cute little genins… Introduce yourself, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and ambition for the future." started Kakashi. Sakura looked at the scarecrow ninja and asked.

"Why don't you go first sensei?" the suggestion brought interest to both Sakura and Sasuke. The inquiry's purpose for the former to use for gossip later, and the other to see if he is strong enough, worthy enough, to teach him.

"I'm Hatake Kakashi. I have no desire to tell you my likes and dislikes… My dreams for the future… Hmm… As for my hobbies… I have lots of hobbies…" stated Kakashi nonchalantly. Sasuke and Sakura, who are both listening intently, face-faulted when they heard Kakashi's introduction. Naruto, on the other hand, shook his head at his nii-san's/sensei's antics. Kakashi just eye-smiled at the reaction and pointed at Sakura first.

"Let's start with you pinkie." this remark earned a growl of annoyance from said girl.

"My name is Haruno Sakura… My likes are… (Sneaking a glance at the Uchiha before squealing)… My hobbies are… (Rinse and repeat)… My dream is to… (Squeal again at the perverse image that his inner Sakura conjured)… My dislikes are INO-PIG AND NARUTO-BAKA!" ended the girl with a screech directed at Naruto who just pulled out his earplugs again. However Kakashi did as well, earning a glare from the girl. Both them simply ignored her, Kakashi though, pointed at the brooding one and stated:

"You're next emo boy." this remark got a tick mark from Sasuke and a pitiful glare from Sakura.

"Hn… My name is Uchiha Sasuke… My likes are training and plotting on how to bring a certain man to justice… My dislike is towards a certain man… My hobby is training… My dream is to rebuild my clan and kill that certain man…" finished the avenger. Both Naruto and Kakashi sighed at the obsession shown by the Uchiha at his goal of killing his brother. Did he not see that as he continues with this, it shows that he is still playing to Itachi's tune? Kakashi shrugged off those thoughts and pointed at Naruto.

"You're next blondie." Naruto just snorted at the nickname and went on to introduce himself.

"My name is Kurosaki-Uzumaki Naruto. My likes are ramen, training, Ichigo-nii, Hokage-jiji, Kakashi-nii, and Iruka-sensei. My dislikes are the time it takes to cook ramen, people who cannot distinguish between the sealed kunai and the scroll itself. My hobby is training with Ichigo and learning new jutsus from his library. My dream is to become as great at Ichigo-nii and become Hokage!" introduced Naruto to his teammates. The two genins were confused on who this Ichigo person is. They are also confused as to why Naruto called their sensei his older brother, plus his comment about a sealed kunai. Kakashi however was happy that Naruto never changed after the revelation of his burden. However, since he has not seen hide or hair from the blonde genin last month, he was unsure on how to gauge Naruto in skills. If there is one thing he knows however, is that Ichigo has a hand with training Naruto, and he must prepare accordingly.

"Maa… now that the introductions are over, I will now tell you about the real test before becoming full-blooded genin." stated Kakashi seriously. This got all the attention of the three. Naruto was not surprised that there is another test, for if you just become a genin by just doing the three academy techniques, then Konoha is in serious danger from other villages invading them.

"Ano… sensei, I thought that the academy graduation test was all that was needed to become genin." stated Sakura, Naruto just sweat-dropped from the cluelessness of the girl, whilst Kakashi hid his expertly. Before Kakashi can reply, Naruto beat him to it.

"Do you not see it Haruno-san?" the calm, collected voice of their fellow genin caught their attention. Sakura, seeing a chance to place the blonde ninja in what she thinks her proper place and score points to the Uchiha started berating Naruto.

"SHUT UP NARUTO-BAKA!" shouted the girl, Naruto just took it in stride and let the comment fly by him.

"If you think those three jutsus that has been taught at the academy will ensure that you will be enough to save you in every mission that you will undertake, then you are sadly mistaken. For the smartest girl kunoichi in the batch, you surely lack common sense." replied Naruto, ignoring the hurt shone in Sakura's eyes briefly. If Naruto needs to become cold towards his teammates for them to shape up, then he will do so. Plus, Ichigo's demeanour is rubbing off him. Kakashi intervened beofre things get out of hand.

"This is a test to show me, the sensei, who is ready to a life of being a shinobi." explained Kakashi. Deciding things to end now, he continued on with his announcement.

"Continuing on, there will be a test tomorrow to see how good you truly are. Meet me at Training Ground 7 at 6AM. Don't eat breakfast if you do not want to throw it out during the test. That's all my cute little genins. Ja Ne!" explained Kakashi before disappearing in a swirl of smoke and leaves. Naruto turned around to face his teammates and let a soft sigh escape his lips.

"Look, the life of a shinobi will be a hard one. If you will only rely on your intelligence, I can guarantee you that you will not survive long. We are team, we need to work together to survive, until Kakashi-sensei is sure that we can take ourselves properly. Konoha became the most powerful shinobi village not because of our strength alone. We value team work and loyalty above all else. We embody the Will of Fire that gives each of us to face challenges with our heads raised up not in arrogance, but in confidence. So, with this in mind, let us start our team with the right foot. Let us go out and get to know each other better, our skills, and possible tactics to use to make us effective in the field. What do you say?" invited Naruto. He got responses shortly after asking.

"Hn…" and with that the Uchiha walked out of the roof, with Sakura trailing behind him asking for dates, which were ignored or outright denied. Naruto just sighed in resigned acceptance and disappeared from the roof with a Shunshin. The day has worked on his patience.

Unknown to the three genins, Kakashi was just under a genjutsu at the roof and heard everything Naruto has said. He was proud that his otouto was willing to build bridges with his teammates and work together. But Sasuke and Sakura have made it difficult for Naruto to do that. It also made things difficult to Kakashi. It stands now that he has an avenger, a fangirl, and a skilled shinobi that will have difficulties growing to become stronger due to his teammates dragging him down with their lack of professionalism. Kakashi sighed again and left the rooftop in the same manner like Naruto. This time however, he truly left the rooftop this time.

Time Skip: Morning of 'Real' Genin Test

It is 10 minutes before 9 in the morning, and we see that Naruto is casually making his way towards Training Ground 7 for the 'real' Genin Test. Naruto thought about the purpose of the test, since one of the first lesson his Kakashi-nii has told him is that always 'look underneath the underneath'. After contemplating for a few moments on what the test could possibly be, he has suspicion on the true nature of the test that his nii-san has prepared for them. He entered the training ground and soon saw his teammates waiting impatiently for him and Kakashi. Can his teammates really be this devoid of common sense? They have already seen that their sensei is chronically late, yet they still followed the order to be present at exactly 6 in the morning. What's more Naruto can also see that they have skipped breakfast. Naruto used everything in his power to not smack himself on the forehead due to his teammates' ignorance. They should have remembered their lesson at the Academy that shinobi's metabolism is far higher than normal due to the things they do every day. Shaking of those thoughts, he made his presence known by greeting them cheerfully.

"Ohayo guys!" Naruto greeted happily at his teammates. Sasuke glared disdainfully at him, probably because of him not thinking the same thing of appearing late like Naruto. Sakura gained a tick mark and made her banshee presence known.

"NARUTO-BAKA YOU ARE LATE!" screeched the Haruno. All wildlife scrambled from the screech, whilst Naruto just shrugged his shoulders and looked at Sakura and replied:

"I am not late because Kakashi-sensei has not made his presence known. If he did come much earlier, then I can be considered late." explained Naruto that shut the girl up. Sasuke just ignored the blonde again and continued brooding. Naruto just plucked out a book about the sealing arts and started reading under the shade of a tree. A couple of minutes later, Kakashi made his appearance.

"YOU'RE LATE!" shouted Sakura again at their sensei. Kakashi just eye-smiled at them and rubbed the back of his head and explained his tardiness.

"I was walking towards here, when I noticed an old lady having trouble with her grocery and I offered my help to her and escorted her back to her home. Then I got lost on the road to life and used trial and error to get here." explained Kakashi. All three genins did not but to his BS story one bit. Sakura expressed the single thought they have in common:

"LIAR!" shouted Sakura. Naruto rolled his eyes, Sasuke returned to brooding, and Kakashi just shrugged his shoulders. It was then they noticed that Kakashi brought with him two bento boxes and a timer watch.

"Moving on, this test is to see if you are all skilled enough to become genins of the Leaf. Attached to my belt are two bells, your objective is getting a bell from me. If you fail to get a bell, you will be sent back to the Academy. That is why this test has only a 66% passing rate." explained Kakashi. Both Sakura and Sasuke are having the same thoughts at the same time:

'I'm not returning to the Academy. I'll get a bell.' thought the two naïve genins. Naruto however, has confirmed his theory about the true nature of the test: Teamwork.

'This will become difficult for me. These two will not willingly work with me unless I force him. Sasuke, being a prideful Uchiha, will think that the two of us are weaklings and will only slow him down. Sakura, being a rabid fangirl, will just try to get on the good side of Sasuke, if he has one, and try to retrieve the bells from Kakashi-sensei. How to force them into teamwork, on second thought… Yes that might work!" thought Naruto, he hid his smirk and continued listening to Kakashi.

"You three will have until noon to retrieve these bells from me. Come at me with the intent to kill." ordered Kakashi, Sakura being ignorant, again, of Kakashi's reputation voiced out:

"Are sure sensei? We might hurt you." stated Sakura worriedly. Kakashi smiled, but inside he face-faulted at the girl's naivety.

Naruto's gained a tick mark at the girl's ignorance. He was now sure that Sakura will be the weak link amongst them. He chased those thoughts away and looked at Kakashi as he is setting the timer till noon.

"Moving on, the test begins now!" stated Kakashi, both Sasuke and Sakura jumped through the foliage and hid themselves. Naruto just stayed at his place since the beginning. Kakashi found this odd and approached his otouto.

"Otouto, both your teammates are hidden in the forest, will you not follow their example?" asked Kakashi. Naruto looked at him and smirked at his aniki.

"Nii-san, I give you my congratulations on spreading the seeds of deceit and suspiciousness on my team, masterfully done if I do say so myself. I know that the purpose of this 'test' is to measure our teamwork capabilities. It will be difficult for those two to swallow their pride and accept help, but I will not." stated Naruto. Kakashi was stunned a bit on how fast Naruto was able to deduce the hidden purpose of the test.

"And what are you going to do about it Naruto?" asked Kakashi. Naruto's smirk grew bigger with the question.

"Nothing." it was here when Kakashi felt something different in the air, that's when recognition flashed through his eyes.

'Genjutsu, but I thought Naruto could not do genjutsus. This may be the more chakra taxing ones.' thought Kakashi as he released the illusionary hold on him. He then found out that his otouto has gone into hiding as well. Kakashi shrugged and entered the forest and walked until he reached a clearing. He sat down and read his Icha-Icha in silence.

Location: Sasuke's Hiding Place

Sasuke is running through possible scenarios inside his head on how to acquire a bell and secure himself from returning back to the Academy. He does not care who the other holder is, as long as he gets hold of a bell he will be alright.

'I'll get a bell, and then I'll be one step closer from killing you Itachi!' thought the Uchiha.

Location: Sakura's Hiding Place

Sakura is hiding in the bushes and formulating a plan to help her and her 'Sasuke-kun' in acquiring the bells. She will prove to her 'love' that she is not weak and worthless. Inner Sakura was agreeing with everything she is telling to herself. Stealthily, well stealthily for a civilian anyways, she made her way to a bush that provides a clear image of the clearing and waited for the right time to strike.

Location: Naruto's Observation Area

Naruto is clamping down on his massive chakra reserves to avoid being detected by his teammates and hopefully his nii-san. One of the training his clones underwent in the last month is how to hide one's chakra from being detected outside of using the famed Byakugan of the Hyūga clan. So far he has made progress but not to level of his liking. However, it pushed him into mastering the technique further.

Location: Clearing

Kakashi has sensed the chakra of his three genins. He has to commend on the stealth skills of his Uchiha genin, whilst shaking his head mentally on the Haruno's skill on the same field. He is also mentally applauding his otouto on trying to clamp down on his chakra to hide him completely outside of using a dōjutsu. Naruto has still much to learn, but it was good that Naruto is able to hide his chakra partially. He knows that Naruto's skill in stealth is top-notch due to him being able to hide from ANBU wearing a 'kill me orange' jumpsuit, but now he is wearing ninja appropriate clothing he will be more difficult to find if one is not a sensor, or have a dōjutsu.

Kakashi waited for who will strike first. He did not have to wait long as a dozen kunai were launched towards him. He simply replaced himself with a log and silently went towards the location of where the kunai came from. He landed in front of the surprised Uchiha and engaged him in a taijutsu match. Kakashi observed that Sasuke has an expert level skill in their family's taijutsu style: Uchiha Interceptor, however the lack of the Sharingan has made the style being used by Sasuke full of holes that Kakashi is now exploiting with relish. Sasuke disengaged and jumped back and started running through hand-seals at speeds faster than a genin. Kakashi widened his eyes at the familiar set of seals. He then remembered that Uchiha's are required to know this technique as a coming of age for them. Sasuke finished his hand-seals and shouted:

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!" a fireball twice the size of Sasuke is launched towards the scarecrow and promptly exploded. Sasuke waited for the smoke to settle down and was surprised to see that his sensei was not to be found anywhere. He looked at every direction possible and was not able to see him. He then felt a tug on his feet and saw the hand of Kakashi pulling him underground until his neck was all that is left. Kakashi then extricated himself from the ground and dust off his clothes will calling the name of the justu calmly.

"Doton: Shinjū Zanshu no Jutsu." said the man, and crouched in front of the trapped Uchiha.

"Always be alert of your surroundings. You must have been able to notice the chakra travelling under your feet, therefore making you able to escape." commented Kakashi objectively at his student. Sasuke just huffed and brooded even with his neck the only thing sticking out of the ground. Kakashi just eye-smiled at Sasuke and stood up straight before returned to the clearing.

Kakashi returned to his previous spot in the clearing and continued reading his favourite literature, whilst waiting nonchalantly for the next genin who will have the brass balls to attempt to take the bells.

Sakura seeing her chance to prove that she is indeed strong rushed out of the bushes and charged the copy-nin in attempts to fight him long enough to get the bells for her and Sasuke-kun. She never saw Kakashi sighed at the lack of proper planning from the kunoichi of the group.

Snake → Rat, the hand-seals that Kakashi went through and casted an illusion on the kunoichi.

"Magen: Narakumi no Jutsu." intoned Kakashi in a whisper.

Sakura's Illusion

Suddenly Sakura stopped in her tracks as she saw that leaves are started circling her. She lost sight of her sensei, so she did see that Kakashi has just seemingly vanished in thin air. After the leaves dispersing she saw the most gruesome sight, her love; Uchiha Sasuke is on the ground breathing heavily, cuts and wounds abound his body. It is obvious to her that Sasuke will no longer that much longer. She rushed forward in an effort to save her future husband.

"Why Sakura?" asked Sasuke hoarsely. Sakura cannot stop the tears flowing out from her eyes as she saw the battered and broken body of Sasuke up close.

"I'm so sorry Sasuke-kun! Please forgive me!" pleaded Sakura as she tried to stave off the blood coming from Sasuke's heavily bleeding chest. She saw that it was a very deep cut the skin and muscles are split apart, most likely made by a sword.

"Why did you not save me Sakura? Why are you not strong enough to save me?" continued 'Sasuke' making the tears from Sakura's eyes come out much faster than before.

"Why?" that was the last thing 'Sasuke' has stated and promptly closed his eyes, finally losing the battle against Death. This was the moment in which the dam is broken. Sakura cried out in horror, sadness, and guilt because of what happened in front of her.

Outside the illusion, Kakashi sighed at the display in front of him. Taking pity at the crying figure in front of him, he knocked her out by pinching a nerve cluster. He picked up Sakura placed her under the shade of a tree and waited for Naruto to try his luck against him. This is the battle he is waiting for, since he does not know how Ichigo trained Naruto during the past month, he did not know what to expect from the blonde ninja.

Kakashi was broken out of his musings when Naruto dropped in front of him and walked up until he was a respectable distance to him. Naruto's face was devoid of anything that indicates of what he is thinking of right now. They are also unaware that a certain Uchiha has his eyes set on the brewing confrontation in front of them. Sasuke knew that he is much more skilled than the 'dobe' in front of their sensei; therefore his is confident that Naruto will lose the battle against Kakashi.

"Maa… Naruto as you can see, the head-on approach is not the ideal strategy for you to have a chance of retrieving a bell." stated Kakashi lazily. Naruto merely inclined his head and replied.

"I know Kakashi-sensei, but I came here to test myself and see how far I have gone with my training." replied Naruto calmly. Naruto's voice did not express any hint of arrogance or nervousness. In the experience of Kakashi, those who are patient and calculating are the most dangerous opponent that a shinobi can face; the Yondaime Hokage is a perfect example for that.

"Very well Naruto, let us begin." stated Kakashi, however his stance is still did not change. However, to the extremely observant, one can see the tensing of the muscles of Kakashi, signifying his preparedness to any situation that Naruto can throw at him.

Naruto, wanting to get this over quickly by unbalancing Kakashi with quick strikes while also distracting him from the true purpose of his plan, started going through hand-seals at respectable speed, way faster than Sasuke's but slow enough that Kakashi can still see the individual seals. Kakashi's lone eye widened at the jutsu Naruto is about to unleash and was mildly impressed at his student's knowledge of this jutsu.

"Katon: Karyūdan." intoned Naruto calmly. He then unleashed a stream of white fire from his mouth towards Kakashi's location. Kakashi's lone eye widened again at the power Naruto gave to the technique. Substitution is out since Sakura may get hit by the flames and be burned very badly. No choice but to counter the jutsu with another jutsu of a stronger element.

Tiger → Snake → Rat → Snake → Tiger are the hand-seals that Kakashi formed at incredible speeds for his latest technique:

"Suiton: Suijinheki." intoned the copy-ninja. A semi-circular wall of water formed in front of Kakashi before the fire release technique hit and possibly burning him. As soon as the fire stream hit the water wall, mist started enveloping the area, covering the view of all the conscious ones. Kakashi stretched out his senses to find where Naruto is. He did not have to wait long as the blonde hair ninja announced another jutsu.

"Fūton: Daitoppa!" exclaimed the blonde. Kakashi saw that Naruto and a Kage Bunshin of said blonde were standing side by side going through different hand-seals. But before he can act and subdue both, three clones popped from his blind spots, like what ANBU Neko does when she uses her flush move, and started engaging him in a taijutsu match. He absently noted that the some of the moves Naruto is using is similar to some moves that his best friend Ichigo does when they are sparring with each other. No matter how many times he has seen Ichigo in a taijutsu match with Gai, or facing Ichigo by himself, he is still impressed with the fluidity and power of the style being employed. And now that Naruto knows a few moves from Ichigo's arsenal, he now knows what to expect from the blonde. He was so into the battle between him and the three clones that he forgot that the original Naruto and his clone are working on a collaboration jutsu. He only remembered when Naruto and his clone shouted two different jutsus that complement each other:

"Fūton: Daitoppa!" the clone shouted and breathed out a compressed gust of wind towards Kakashi's location.

"Katon: Endan!" the original Naruto stated and breathed out a white hot fire bullet. Mixed the fire bullet with the wind jutsu that his clone used, the speed and power of the fire technique is doubled.

Kakashi, seeing that a jutsu is impractical due to the clones utilised a seal-less Shunshin and escape the blast. He then noticed that he left Sakura to the fate of being blasted apart by the collaboration technique, but even before he can move a muscle, an explosion rocked the clearing. He waited for the smoke to subside and look for the unconscious kunoichi. After the smoke has settled, he was relieved that Naruto was able to remove her from the danger zone before the explosion occurred. He was shaken from his thoughts when sounds of metal flying through the air reached his ears. He looked around and saw a dozen kunai rushing towards him at respectable speed. Naruto's voice then rang out and called a technique surprising him again.

"Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" called Naruto. The kunai then multiplied easily hundreds, making Kakashi block and dodge the flying metal and saving himself from injury. It seems this is what Naruto is waiting for as he suddenly engaged Kakashi in a fierce taijutsu match. Kakashi was surprised at the added speed that Naruto has, and absently noted that Naruto seems to wear weights. He started defending more quickly, because some moves he recognised hurts when hit. Add the nature of the moves to the added speed and power of Naruto's strikes and you've got pain just waiting for you.

Throughout all of this Sasuke, was watching the fight and seethed in jealously on how skilled the blonde ninja seemed to be. He was wondering why he a no-name adopted orphan has a private teacher, whilst he, an elite Uchiha, does not. It was not fair, and will demand the 'dobe' to take him to his teacher force said teacher to drop Naruto and take him as his apprentice.

"You are good Naruto, very good. Your skills put you at least chūnin level. It seems Ichigo really trained you to the ground for the last month." commented Kakashi. He was starting to enjoy the battle between him and his otouto.

"Thanks Kakashi-nii. Ichigo-nii is really a perfectionistic, ruthless, but effective sensei." replied Naruto. It is better not to lose focus on the fight right now. He knows that Kakashi is just matching his level right now, but he can clearly see excitement and pride shining through the copy-nin's lone eye. They were interrupted by the time going off. They disengaged and took a breather to cool themselves down. Kakashi glared at the location where he set the timer because of it disrupting the increasingly fun spar he has with Naruto. Kakashi shrugged those thoughts away and proceeded to excavate the Uchiha from his underground confines and carrying Sakura near the bridge that is present in the training ground. He woke up the unconscious kunoichi and started explaining that he trapped her in a genjutsu that shows her most feared thoughts. She just shouted at her sensei for doing that. Kakashi just ignored the compaints, whilst Naruto ignored her completely.

"Well, time's up, and you fail to get both bells." informed Kakashi solemnly. That expression lasted when he heard tinkling coming from Naruto's direction. Kakashi looked at Naruto and saw the two bells dangling from his raised index finger. Kakashi looked down and saw that two rocks with wrapped in ninja wire is hanging from his belt. Sakura and Sasuke was wide-eyed at what Naruto has accomplished. Kakashi looked at Naruto questioningly. Naruto just smirked and answered the silent question.

"Remember when you used your suiton jutsu to counter the jutsu I unleashed on you Kakashi-sensei?" asked Naruto to his bewildered sensei. Kakashi just nodded prompting Naruto to continue with his explanation.

"Well you see, whilst the mist was surrounding the clearing, I created five shadow clones of myself. One is responsible for helping me in my collaboration jutsu, three to distract you in a taijutsu match, whilst the last remaining clone is to take Sakura away from the crossfire. However, the clones sent to distract you Kakashi-sensei have another agenda; one of them must touch the bells or at least one of the bells. One of the clones managed to touch both the bells hanging from your belt. However, that is not the genius part of the plan. The clone who managed to touch both bells is able to perform a Kawarimi no Jutsu on the bells." explained Naruto, to the shocked Kakashi and genins. Kakashi's mind was able to understand the rest of the plan and was surprised how simple yet effective Naruto's tactic is that he cannot help himself from chuckling in amusement at how he was outsmarted by Naruto. Naruto seeing the understanding on his nii-san's eyes nodded his head at him. However, seeing the confused look at his fellow genins, he decided to continue his explanation.

"We all know that to perform a Substitution Jutsu, one must overwhelm the latent chakra surrounding an object to switch places with it completely. The same principle applies in using humans, but this time one must overwhelm the innate chakra inside a person to switch places. All the clone did was to overwhelm the chakra surrounding the bells and replacing it with what is strapped to your belt. The rocks hanging from Kakashi-sensei's belt was originally hanging at my belt, hidden from view, but the clone knew where it was. The remaining time sparring with Kakashi-sensei was just purely for fun and educational purposes." explained Naruto to the dumbfounded genins. They quickly nodded their heads in understanding about what happened.

"Well Naruto, congratulations on retrieving the bell from me, but now that you have one bell, who are you giving the other bell?" asked Kakashi, trying to spread mistrust and doubts to the group. He knew that it was futile since Naruto knew of the true purpose even before the start of the test hours ago. It was proven true when Naruto threw both bells in the direction of Sasuke and Sakura; both caught the bell instinctively and looked at the blonde questioningly. Naruto seeing the looks aimed at him decided to explain the hidden purpose of the test.

"You guys might have noticed this, but did it ever occur to you that there was never a 3 man genin cell?" asked Naruto to open up his explanation. Both Sasuke and Sakura nodded their heads to the query. Naruto then continued on.

"Exactly, it was always a 4 man genin cell. A jōnin-sensei and three genins is always the composition of a genin cell team. What Kakashi-sensei was doing is that he was sowing seeds of doubts and mistrust among each of us. We are a team, and we are expected to watch each other's backs come hell or high water. We must never abandon our comrades for that makes us lower than any scum that can be found in the Elemental Nations. If doubts and lack of trust are rampant in a team, we can never grow into a shinobi that will make Konoha proud and we can never differentiate ourselves from those ninjas of the other villages who abandons who what they are think are weak to the wolves to fend for themselves. We are not that, and never will be like that." explained Naruto to his teammates. Kakashi just looked at his blonde younger brother with pride. Deciding to capitalise on Naruto's charismatic speech, Kakashi continued:

"Naruto is correct. I believe I can summarise what he said in a single sentence. Those who abandon the rules are trash, but those who abandon their comrades or family are worse than trash." stated Kakashi. He let his students absorb what he has said to them. He decided that tying someone up the post is no longer necessary since Naruto has let the cat out of the bag. After a few moments of silence, Kakashi continued.

"Alright, meet me here tomorrow at 7 in the morning for training. At 1 in the afternoon we pick a D-rank mission from the missions' office. Dismissed." stated Kakashi, he watched on as Naruto invite the team again and watched in satisfaction as they agreed and left the training grounds in what looks like companionable silence. Deciding to report to the Hokage without further delay, he left the training ground in a swirl of smoke and leaves heading straight to the Kage's office.

Location: Hokage Tower

The jōnins that were assigned a team are standing in front of their leader reporting on the teams that have passed and failed. He sighed at the number of teams to be placed back at the Academy. Konoha has become complacent after the end of the Third Shinobi War. Despite the attack of the Kyūbi 12 years ago, the Academy standard is still lax about its requirements for promising genins. Shaking those thoughts off his mind, he focused on the reporting jōnin, which is his son Asuma, since Kakashi is nowhere to be seen.

Asuma, the son of the Sandaime, is a tall man, with brown eyes, short, black spiky hair, and beard. His clothing consisted of the standard Konoha ninja uniform with the sleeves rolled up half way, flak jacket, regular shinobi sandals and forehead protector. He also wore the Twelve Guardian Ninja sash that had the kanji for "Fire" () marked on it around his waist, a pair of black bangles and bandages wrapped around the arms of his sleeves.

"Team 10, consisting of Yamanaka Ino, Nara Shikamaru, and Akimichi Chouji passed." reported Asuma before falling in line with his fellow jōnin. A ruby-eyed kunoichi then stepped forward to give her report on her assigned team's status.

The woman was none other than Konoha's Genjutsu Mistress, Yūhi Kurenai. Kurenai is a fairly tall and light-skinned woman of slender build. She has long, black, shoulder-length untamed hair, and very unique eyes that are red in colour, with an additional ring in them. She wears make-up consisting of red lipstick and purple eye shadow. Her outfit consists of a red mesh armour blouse with only the right sleeve visible. Over this is very broad material which resembles bandages with a pattern on it similar to those of rose thorns. Her hands and upper thighs are also wrapped in bandages and she wears the Konoha forehead protector and regular shinobi sandals.

"Team 8, consisting of Aburame Shino, Hyūga Hinata, and Inuzuka Kiba passed Hokage-sama." reported Kurenai. Team 9 is not included due to them being the same team last year, and they are also currently on a mission outside of Konoha. The Sandaime nodded his head and was surprised lightly at the timely arrival of Kakashi. The same thoughts are also running in the minds of the other jōnins inside the room.

"Hokage-sama, Team 7 consisting of Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Kurosaki-Uzumaki Naruto passed." reported Kakashi. The others were surprised because of two things; Kakashi has finally passed a team, and the full name of Naruto. All jōnins knew that there is only one person, aside from Naruto, who has that family name: Kurosaki Ichigo, the Shinigami of the Leaf, and the Yondaime Kami no Shinobi. Some jōnins who have a beef with Naruto decided to wisely shut their mouths about their opinions regarding Naruto if they don't want Ichigo's wrath to bear down upon them. Sarutobi reigned in his thoughts and ordered Kakashi to explain what happened during the test. Kakashi did so, and everyone in the room was astounded on how Naruto was able to capture the bell and how easily he deciphered the true purpose of the test. They were also surprised how charismatic Naruto can be, if the impromptu speech he gave his team was any indication. Sarutobi was mentally applauding both Naruto and Ichigo. He applauded Naruto for being so mature in handling his teammates. Ichigo, on the other hand, has his heartfelt congratulations on how Ichigo was able to raise Naruto properly, and able to make him utilise his potential to the max. With Kakashi's report done, he dismissed all of them and continued his paperwork.

Time Skip: 4 months

It has been 4 months since Team 7 or Team Kakashi was formed. The three genins were able to at least form a civil form of relationship with each other and this relationship is slowly, but surely growing into that of a tenuous friendship. There might be an argument here and there, but nothing like good food facilitating in fixing whatever was the problem that started the argument in the first place.

However, it did not mean Naruto is not learning anything during this time. He was sending an enhanced shadow clone to do the D-rank missions while he works on his physical strength and skills. During the last four months he is able to master the Iaido technique and was rewarded by his nii-san by new acquisition on the sealing arts plus several B to A-rank Fūton and Katon jutsus. He spent all these months perfecting the hand-seals and increasing his speed in them. He may not like to brag, but he feels that his hand-seals are now as fast as Kakashi-sensei due to countless clones doing the same set of hand-seals over and over again, plus him doing it all during his Sunday rest-day at an abandoned training ground. The Katon jutsus that he has mastered during the last quarter are: Katon: Karyū Endan, and Katon: Gōryūka no Jutsu. For Fūton jutsus he mastered during the last four months are: Fūton: Shinkū Taigyoku, and Fūton: Shinkūgyoku.

Naruto also increased added another 25 lbs. on his current weights, with blessings from Ichigo, totaling the extra weight he has to 400 lbs. His big brother made sure to keep a keen eye on him when he was getting used to the additional weights. And so for the next 3 months he worked diligently until his previous speed before adding the extra 25 lbs. is achieved.

Naruto was going crazy from the amount of D-rank missions they have been doing. None of them was worse than catching Tora the cat. The one-tailed beast was a menace to him and his team, they were scratched and bit by the damnable cat and Naruto had enough. Even though he was only sending a shadow clone during D-rank missions, every time the clone dispel he can sympathise with his clone that the damnable cat is annoying. During one of the missions, he ordered the clone to place a summoning seal on the cat's collar for easy retrieval for the real one later. However Naruto was unable to use it since then due to Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi was the one picking the missions. However, since he will be the next one, he will make sure to pick the Tora mission, and earn easy money from doing so.

The seal he placed is usually on objects that are small in nature. Naruto, using his natural talent in seals, modified the seal to allow summoning small living objects like cats instantly to him. The technique simply creates an unseen bridge between the 'sending' and 'receiving' seals. Upon experimentations on some objects of differing mass and size, he was able to summon anything to him, like a summoning technique. However, live human beings are out of his reach because as the mass, size, and distance of the object increase, the more chakra is needed to utilise the technique. Now the same principles apply to humans, however, add the fact that the seal must also overwhelm the latent chakra a person has. Therefore, putting these seals on trained shinobi is out of the question since, it is already difficult to summon live civilians, therefore it stands to reason it will be much more difficult to downright impossible summoning a person who can utilize chakra.

Right now, he felt that he can finally use the seal and summon the cat and set an unbeatable record regarding the cat. Naruto's team entered the office of his surrogate grandfather and saw him smoking his trusty pipe with Iruka handling the missions to be given to them. Kakashi stepped forward and greeted the Hokage respectfully.

"Hokage-sama, Team 7 reporting in for another mission." stated Kakashi, his nose buried at his Icha-Icha after greeting the village's leader. The Sandaime nodded his head and presented a selection of open missions for Team 7 to take on.

"Alright Team 7, we have catching Tora, helping a civilian move houses, and helping a farmer near Konoha's outskirts on his farm." listed off the Fire Shadow.

"Old man, we'll take the Capture Tora mission." stated Naruto confidently. Naruto ignored the incredoulus look of his teammates and sensei. Sarutobi just looked at Naruto questioningly.

"Naruto, are you sure you want this mission? Normally, genin teams that drew the short straw figuratively are the one who take this mission." asked Sarutobi. Nauro just nodded his head and asked the Hokage a surprising question.

"I'm sure. Jiji, what is the record regarding the time spent capturing Tora?" asked the grinning Naruto. Sarutobi saw this look and decided to humour him.

"The record stands at 3 hours flat. Why Naruto? Do you intend to break the record?" asked the Hokage to the grinning blonde ninja.

"Something like that jiji." Naruto then took the mission scroll and read through it and nodded his head. He went to the centre of the room and unravelled a scroll with a sealing array. This is the first time that anyone saw Naruto using seals. Both the Sandaime and Kakashi noted how Naruto looks like the Yondaime when he was at that age. They were snapped back to reality when Naruto cut his thumb with a kunai and went through familiar hand-seals.

Boar → Dog → Bird → Monkey → Ram were the seals Naruto used and slammed his lightly bleeding hand on the center of the seal.

"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" in a puff of smoke, Tora stood in front of everyone. The room's visible and invisible occupants had their jaws fall to the ground due to how Naruto finished the mission easily. Naruto laughed at the expressions and picked up Tora before locking the cat to her cage.

"Mission Accomplished Hokage-jiji, we have captured Tora and achieved a new record of 15 seconds." stated by a grinning Naruto to the aged leader. The Hokage composed himself and asked the question burning in everyone's minds:

"How?" asked the Sandaime to his surrogate grandson. Naruto just chuckled and explained how he got tired of Tora scratching the hell out of him and his team. He also explained on him placing a seal on the cat's collar that enables him to summon the cat anywhere as long as he has the complementary seal of the seal he used on Tora. He also explained the mechanics of the seal to everyone. After Naruto's explanation, everyone was shocked that a genin was able to create a modified seal to summon an object or a living creature like a cat easily. The potential of such a seal is great regardless of the cost when Naruto informed them of the limitations of the seals. The Hokage was in contemplation on whether to buy the seal for Konoha's use or let Naruto modify the seal first to perfection before making a deal with the budding seal master.

"Ano… jiji, can we have a higher-ranked mission now? I'll be blunt to you jiji, D-ranked missions are simple chores that civilians are too lazy to do in the first place." stated Naruto. Sasuke nodded his head on Naruto's logic. And Sakura, since he saw that her Sasuke-kun agreed with Naruto's logic nodded her head as well. Iruka was about to explain it to them, when the Hokage asked the still silent Kakashi.

"What do you think Kakashi? Do you think your team is ready?" asked the leader of Konoha. Kakashi made eye contact with Sarutobi and declared in a firm tone:

"Yes, they are indeed ready Hokage-sama."

"Very well, Iruka give me the C-rank bodyguard mission." ordered the Sandaime. Iruka just nodded in acceptance since his leader has already made his decision regarding Team 7.

"Team 7, your client is hailing from the Land of Waves. He is the bridge builder Tazuna, the self-proclimed 'Super Awesome Bridge Builder'. The job is simple protect him on his way back to Wave from bandits. My secretary will let him inside this office now." stated by the Hokage, briefing them on the parameters regarding the mission they received. They waited for their client to make his presence known. They did not have to wait long when the door opened and came in a man that smells heavily of sake. The genins cannot believe it, their client was a drunk!

Upon closer inspection, they saw that their client is a grey-haired, bespectacled man with a large beard and dark eyes. He wore a sleeveless V-neck shirt with an obi, pants and a pair of sandals. He also carried a towel around his neck and wore a pointed hat on his head. Their observation of the client was interrupted when said client started talking.

"This is protection detail! I did not ask for some snot-nosed brats to protect me! I see a pink-haired girl that will run away on the first sign of trouble, a pretty boy who broods a lot and looks like he cannot handle himself on a fight, and… well at least this one seems capable." commented Tazuna about his protection detail. His comments got him a glare from Sakura and Sasuke due to blunt way their client has described them. Naruto just accepted the compliment wordlessly. Inwardly however, Naruto is suspicious at the jumpy attitude Tazuna is displaying. A simple escort mission should not make their clients that jumpy, unless the mission has a deeper purpose that is not written on the mission scroll. Kakashi moved to placate their client by saying:

"Don't fret Tazuna-san. These three in front of you are trained shinobi. Bandits will be easy for them to defeat." stated Kakashi calmly. Tazuna just nodded his head, Naruto and both Kakashi still saw the nervousness radiating off the man and vowed to watch him closer as the mission progresses.

"Alright my cute little genins pack necessities for a one-week mission and meet me at the Main Gate within 2 hours. Dismissed!" ordered Kakashi and watched as Sakura and Sasuke left using the door, whilst Naruto used a Shunshin no Jutsu to return to his home. Kakashi nodded at the client and left the using the same method Naruto used moments ago to prepare for a mission.

Location: Main Gate of Konoha

Naruto arrived at the meeting point just in time to see the client, Sasuke, and Sakura waiting for him and their sensei. He received questioning looks from his teammates due to the lack of a backpack. He caught the looks and explained.

"As you can see earlier, I have advanced knowledge of seals, so I created my own modified storage seals to use. All of my equipment and necessities are there. I have also brought extra just in case. It is better to be prepared always." explained Naruto to his teammates. Both just nodded their head at the blonde's logic. Naruto seeing the opportunity build more in their dynamics offered that he can make them the same storage seals for their used and they accepted. A few minutes later their sensei appeared with a backpack. He noticed Naruto has no backpack but instantly remembered that Naruto is a sealing expert, so storage seals are common place for the blonde ninja. They showed the needed papers at the guard station and left Konoha, their first non D-ranked mission officially begins now.

Time Skip: 2 days after leaving Konoha

Location: Road to Nami no Kuni

Team 7 was on their second day of the escort job that Tazuna has posted in Konoha. So far no signs of impending hostility have made itself known, which is good. Companionable silence was reigning among them. Sakura decided that she can't keep silent for long periods of time, and with natural curiosity winning out asked Tazuna a question.

"Tazuna-san don't you have shinobis in Nami no Kuni?" asked the curious kunoichi. But before Tazuna can answer her question, Kakashi replied about the topic.

"Nami no Kuni is a nation that has no hidden village, and thus rely on its neighbouring hidden villages to protect them. However, Nami no Kuni is prosperous, thus troubles that require shinobi intervention are far and few in between." explained Kakashi, while also dropping a subtle hint to Tazuna about the mission having a deeper reason that was not written on the mission scroll. Kakashi detected no visible reaction from the Tazuna thus allaying the concern of the copy-nin for a moment. As they were talking and walking, Kakashi noticed a puddle of water. He noticed the genjutsu immediately and looked at his team discretely if they saw the same thing he saw. He was pleased at least that Naruto was able to pick up the genjutsu. He decided to test his genin's skills at facing enemy shinobi by stepping on the pool of water 'accidentally'.

He saw Naruto tense, ready for battle, and not a moment soon since the genjutsu was dispelled and Kakashi was wrapped in a chain made of shuriken and was dragged back violently to the attacking duo. Sakura froze on the spot due to the sudden attack. She quickly recomposed herself and stood guard in front of their client whilst watching Naruto and Sasuke attack the duo.

Naruto rushed his enemy at high-chūnin speeds, which shocked his attackers and his teammates causing them to stop whatever they are doing, and attacked. Using the katana gifted to him by his nii-san, he wasted no time as he imbued the katana wind chakra for added cutting power and used his newly mastered Iaido technique. He unsheathed his katana, swung it, and flicked off the blood and sheathed the blade again in its scabbard.

'Click…' that was the sound that reverberated through everyone's ears. Then they heard the splurging of blood and saw the shinobi that Naruto attacked is instantly bifurcated by the stomach. Sasuke and Sakura both threw up their lunch as they saw innards slipping out of both halves of the once live shinobi. Tazuna was not doing better either. Although he thanked Kami that he is guarded by capable ninjas he was not used to seeing innards falling off sliced body parts. The shinobi who saw his brother getting killed by a genin with a single swipe of his katana shouted in rage and dashed forwards to the one responsible for his brother's demise intending to remove the head of the blonde ninja from his shoulders.

He threw his fist forward, trying to cave the skull of his brother's murderer in. He forgot that said blonde brat can move faster than him, making Naruto dodge his attack with ease. Naruto, trying to save the one to gather information used the blunt side of his katana to knock the enemy shinobi out. It was successful and he tied up the possible Kiri-nin to a tree. He then went to the shinobi he killed and decapitated it and placed the head inside one of his storage scrolls. He intends to collect the bounty after the end of the mission or during the mission if they will pass by a bounty office.

"You can come out now Kakashi-sensei." stated Naruto to no one in particular. Both Sasuke and Sakura, now finished emptying their respective stomachs and understanding how easily Naruto defeated both their enemies, looked at the blonde in question since they saw their sensei being cut multiple times by the shuriken chain that was used by both enemy ninjas. They rustling and saw their sensei exit the shrubs. They then looked at where their sensei landed and saw hacked-off pieces of wood lying on the ground meaning their sensei used a substitution jutsu.

"Good work there Naruto, remind me not to annoy you while you are holding a katana." stated Kakashi. He saw how Naruto bifurcate the enemy ninja and was impressed by how precise, quick, and powerful Naruto's kill move is. Ichigo must have taught him those advanced sword techniques. Kakashi was reminded by his sensei's wife, Uzumaki Kushina, how she too was a master of the blade giving her the name of Red Hot-Blooded Habanero, or the more fearsome Benihime.

Inside a certain candy shop, Urahara Kisuke's zanpakutō, Benihime, was shimmering red with annoyance. Someone must be talking about her. They will feel her wrath once she found out who has been talking about her behind her back.

Kakashi then felt a dreadful shiver run through him. He felt that he entered someone's hit list and prayed to Kami that he is wrong. He shook those dreadful thoughts out of his mind and focused on their prisoner that is currently tied up to the tree. After interrogating the ninja that was later known to be Gōzu and learning Momochi Zabuza will be waiting for them once they set foot on Nami no Kuni. Naruto then placed a paralysis and life suspension seal on Gōzu and sealed him inside another storage scroll.

"Now Tazuna-san care to inform us why an A-rank missing shinobi is waiting for us at Nami no Kuni?" asked Kakashi in a deadly whisper. This mission has jumped from C-rank to A-rank instantly. Tazuna started sweating before he started on the story why he lied about mission parameters. He started it by telling about the arrival of Gatō and how the methodical tightening of the noose on the neck of Nami no Kuni started. He then told the Konoha ninjas about his goal of finishing the bridge to break Gatō's monopoly on the area and free his people. Kakashi sighed at the true circumstances of the mission they have taken and was in a quandry.

"I'll inform Hokage-sama about this development. Until we received word from him, I cannot do anything about this Tazuna-san." informed Kakashi solemnly to the crestfallen bridge builder. He then summoned Pakkun and asked him to go to Konoha ASAP and deliver a message to the Sandaime. The nin-dog nodded his head and made his way to Konoha. Kakashi proposed that they camped out for the day and make viable strategies on what to do next.

"Kakashi-sensei let us continue the mission. We have suffered no injuries since Naruto took care of the enemy ninja earlier." suggested the Uchiha, inwardly the beast, known as jealously, has made itself known and is overriding Sasuke's rational thoughts. He and Naruto have a civil relationship with each other after the bell test. However, as the months continued, he felt that he can never grow up as a shinobi since Naruto is, as he hated to admit it, more skilled than him and his fangirl. However this feeling of inadequacy soon mutated to resentment for the blonde. But now seeing Naruto kill one chūnin level shinobi and knocking another out using a few moves; it made him utterly jealous because he felt that he should be the one who has that skill to enable him finally killing his brother for the Uchiha clan genocide that he did. However, he kept those thoughts to himself; despite Naruto offering his ear to his team should they need a sounding board of their problems. He needed to prove to Naruto and to himself that he stands on equal footing with the blonde.

Kakashi just hummed in contemplation about the Uchiha's suggestion. He weighed his options carefully. In one hand, he can face Zabuza since they are roughly on equal footing, couple that with the loss of the 'Demon Brothers' will just make Zabuza a powerful missing-nin without shinobi back-up. On the other hand, the mission that they have signed for is a C-rank escort mission from Konoha to Nami no Kuni and continuing the mission is a breach of standard protocols. Tired of weighing his options out, he turned to face his students.

"Alright, let us put this matter into vote. Who agrees on continuing the mission to Nami no Kuni?" asked Kakashi to his genin team. He saw both Sasuke and Naruto raised their hands in agreement. Since Sakura is outvoted, he sighed in acceptance and explained to Tazuna that they will continue on with the mission.

"Oh Thank You! Thank You so much! You cannot believe how much this means to me and to the people of Wave." gushed out the relieved master bridge builder to the Konoha team he was assigned to. Both parties slept that night with one feeling relief, while the others, specifically Naruto and Kakashi, feeling a sense of ominous life-changing events will happen during the mission.

Time Skip: Midday after the ambush set by the Demon Brothers

Location: Dock

Team 7 including their client reached the dock that currently connects the Land of Waves with the Land of Fire by midday after the attack of the Demon Brothers yesterday. They were greeted by a friend of Tazuna and they started their journey to Wave by boat ride. A few minutes on the boat and they saw the bridge that will serve to free Nami no Kuni from Gatō's clutches. Naruto voiced their thoughts about the incomplete bridge that welcomed them.

"That is one magnificent bridge Tazuna-san." commented Naruto with a hint of respect to his voice because of what Tazuna is doing to free his people from corrupt business man. Tazuna just puffed out his chest in pride at the comment he and his masterpiece received. They were shaken out of their thoughts when Tazuna's boatman friend announced that he cannot go further, lest he risk the corrupt tycoon finding out about him helping the bridge builder. Tazuna nonetheless thanked his friend and informed his security detail that the walk towards his home will at least take two hours. Kakashi and his team nodded their heads and started their trek towards the bridge builder's home. Kakashi reminded his team that Zabuza is stalking somewhere waiting for them. They all nodded their heads and tensed their bodies, ready for anything that may happen. Sasuke still gripe about his uselessness during the last fight was more alert now. He hears a movement on the bush near him and threw a kunai to its direction. His attack garners his teammates' interest and looked at the rabbit that came out of the bush, terrified out of its wits. Naruto and Kakashi saw the unsual colour of the rabbit's fur and knew that the rabbit was grown inside in a relatively cool environment, meaning that the rabbit was used for a substitution jutsu. They then heard the sound of a spinning metal flying through the air.

"DUCK!" ordered Kakashi and dragging their client to the ground. His genin team followed his lead and saw a massive broadsword cutting the air and aimed to take their heads off, since they have ducked away from the massive blade, the blade lodged itself on a tree. Moments later a man landed on the hilt of the blade and observed the Konoha team before him.

The man standing on the hilt of the blade is a tall and noticeably muscular man with pale skin, short spiky black hair, brown eyes, and small eyebrows. He wears bandages like a mask over the bottom half of his face, covering his teeth but outlining his relatively narrow jawline. He wears a Kirigakure hitai-ate sideways on his head. He is also shirtless; with his chest only covered by a belt to which they can assume is where his massive blade is attached. He is also wearing baggy pants with the striped pattern typical of Kirigakure and mimetic wrist-warmers extending up to his elbows, with matching leg-warmers.

"No wonder the Demon Brothers lost, they have faced the infamous 'Sharingan no Kakashi' and his team of green genins." stated the missing-nin in an amused voice. Sakura and Sasuke were surprised about the information, Naruto has known about his nii-san's secret for years now.

'Kakashi-sensei has the Sharingan? How is that possible?' thought Sasuke as he tried to process the information stated by the enemy ninja.

"Momochi Zabuza, A-rank missing nin from Kirigakure no Sato, accused of trying to assassinate the Yondaime Mizukage, Yagura. Also known as the 'Kirigakure no Kijin', we know about you waiting for us here. One of the Demon Brothers is dead, whilst the other is indisposed of the moment" stated Kakashi. The now named Zabuza chuckled in respone at the recital of his profile from the Bingo Book. Zabuza also hid his slight surprise that one-half of the Demon Brothers is dead whilst the other is captured.

"Enough with the pleasantries Kakashi, I come for your client. Give him to me and you can walk away with lives and limbs intact." offered Zabuza to the Konoha team. Kakashi just shook his head in negative and revealed his transplanted Sharingan for Zabuza to see.

"Team 7 protect the client at all costs." ordered Kakashi, he knew that Naruto can handle guarding the client, so that made him more relaxed and completely focus himself against the swordsman.

"The Sharingan? This early? I am honoured to see you think that I am a big enough threat to force use using that dōjutsu of yours." stated Zabuza as he jumped down and prepared himself to face Kakashi. Zabuza then placed his hand in a half-tiger seal and called out his infamous jutsu:

"Kirigakure no Jutsu." as mist originating from the lake started crawling inland and blocked the view of the Konoha ninjas completely. Kakashi's Sharingan is rendered useless due to the chakra-laced mist surrounding him.

"Eight points…" started a voice that seems to come from everywhere in the mist.

"Larynx, Spine, Lungs, Heart, Kidneys, Subclavian Artery, Liver, or the Jugular: The eight points that I can slice while hidden in this mist. Which one will I slice off your client Kakashi?" taunted Zabuza. In a show of complete mastery of the jutsu, Zabuza appeared inside the formation that Team 7 built around the client and was ready to lop the head of the client when a kunai emerged from the chest of Zabuza, showing Kakashi has indeed tracked his movements whilst hidden in the mist.

"It's over Zabuza, you lost." mocked Kakashi. He then heard mocking laughter from the mist and realised that the one he stabbed was the real Zabuza. He was proven true when he looked the 'Zabuza' he stabbed started ejecting water from the wound. Before Kakashi can do something, the entire body turned to water and fell to the ground.

In a moment of karma, Zabuza appeared behind the copy-nin and sliced the scarecrow in half. Everyone was taken aback when Kakashi's body dissolved to water as well signifying that he was able to copy the Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu of the missing-nin while being surrounded by the Mist.

"Impressive Kakashi, you have managed to track me in my mist whilst also copying my Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu…" commented Zabuza before appearing behind Kakashi, "…but that is not enough to stop me." said Zabuza before grabbing Kakashi and throwing him onto the lake where the real Zabuza is waiting in wait for Kakashi's arrival. As Kakashi emerged from the lake he heard an eerily distinctive voice beside him and a jutsu being called.

"Suirō no Jutsu!" stated Zabuza before trapping Kakashi in a spherical water prison. It was also at this moment that Zabuza dispelled his mist and showed to the trapped copy-nin that Team 7 and the client is outnumbered and outgunned. He has no choice but to order them to retreat and save the client.

"Naruto! Take your team and GO! Protect the client from Zabuza!" Naruto looked at Kakashi's location in worry before nodding reluctantly and faced his Team.

"You heard sensei! Let's make a tactical retreat. Our client must be protected above all else!" ordered Naruto. Sakura nodded her head, but Sasuke, feeling the need to show everyone he is stronger dashed forward a Zabuza clone, completely ignoring Naruto's shout of turning back.

"Dammit! I'll kick his ass if we survive this." growled a pissed Naruto and started formulating a viable tactic to make sure they can escape from this with the least amount of injuries.

"Sakura!" shouted Naruto, snapping the girl's attention from the beating that Sasuke is receiving to the blonde teammate near her.

"Protect the client! Let none get past you, understood?" ordered Naruto sternly.

"H-hai!" replied the girl meekly. Naruto sighed before going to the Zabuza clones that are currently wiping the floor of Sasuke and unsealed and unsheathed his katana. He was just in time to block the swing of the massive cleaver from connecting to the battered boy. Naruto gritted his teeth, since even though that he is facing a clone; the swing still packed a punch.

"Next time, if our sensei orders us to do something follow it!" shouted Naruto to his downed teammate who just glared at the blonde nin. Naruto focused on his opponent and started going through the basic and advanced katas Ichigo has taught him. He is able to hold the clone; however, the next two came to the help of the one he is fighting with, making it much more difficult to face them since he is still learning the way of Ichigo's sword style. He overextended his attack a bit, making a Zabuza clone able to disarm him, and disarm him the clone did. Now that he is now without a weapon against three of the eight Zabuza clones, it will be very difficult to face him now. He jumped back and performed a shadow clone jutsu. A clone appeared beside him and went through rapid hand-seals. A collaboration jutsu is best here since fire is definitely weaker than water.

Tiger → Dog, these are the hand-seals the clone went through and inhaled a large amount of wind and compressed them into a high-density wind sphere.

The original formed a Tiger hand-seal and kneaded his chakra to create a fireball shaped like a dragon's head. He then prepared to launch it in conjunction with his clone. He made a mental command to the clone, and in an instant they shouted their respective techniques before exhaling them.

"Fūton: Shinkū Taigyoku!" stated the clone and exhaled a dense sphere of potent Wind Chakra.

"Katon: Gōryūka no Jutsu!" the original stated and exhaled a large fireball shaped like a dragon's head.

Both techniques merged to formed a fast moving whit hot fireball that are heading straight for the cluster of water clones that their enemy has created. The clones cannot escape in time due to the speed the collaboration attack is approaching them and small number of hand-seals that both techniques require. The enhanced fireball hit a clone and exploded in a massive explosion, destroying all the clones that Zabuza made.

'The gaki is good. Good thing he was part of my security detail…'is the single thought running through the mind of the bridge builder.

'I cannot believe Ichigo has managed to teach Naruto this far. Naruto should be at least Chūnin level by now.' thought the trapped man inside the water sphere.

'Why is he more powerful and skilled than me? I have trained myself to exhaustion each day so that I can come closer in killing him. And yet, here I see someone that is far more skilled than me! It is not fair! What does he have that I don't?!' thought the battered Uchiha before falling into unconsciousness.

"You're brat is good Kakashi. Shame can't be said for the other two. Who is the blonde gaki Kakashi?" asked the curious Demon of the Mist.

"That will be my otouto Momochi Zabuza. And your ass is next." stated a new comer. Zabuza turned around to face the intruder and paled when he realised that the newcomer is someone who can whip all the members of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū (Seven Swordsmen of the Mist) asses and not break a sweat in doing so.

"I-Ichigo…" stated Zabuza in a uncharacteristic show of fear. With good reason, Zabuza has once challenged Ichigo in a fight whilst he was still a Kiri-nin, and has regretted the decision ever since. Ichigo whipped his ass all over the training dojo of the Seven Swordsmen and not break a sweat in doing so whilst also breaking his sword: Kubikiribōchō in multiple pieces each time they clash swords. Ichigo is also the only person that his former teammate, Kisame, feared and respected since his skills with the sword is so much that he managed to nick a few scales from Kisame's sword: Samehada, and nullify said sword's ability to eat the energy that is used in Ichigo's jutsu since doing so slowly melts the sword slowly every time Kisame attempts to do so.

"Yes, I am Ichigo you eyebrow-less bastard. Release Kakashi now, you will need everything you have to survive in a clash against me." suggested, well ordered, Ichigo coldly. Zabuza nodded his head and released Kakashi from his water prison, since he knew that Ichigo was not bluffing. On the one hand he is hesistant to face an enemy that he knows are miles beyond him in skills. On the other hand is equally giddy because he will now have a chance to test his skills in a battle against him. It has been 3 years at least since his last battle with the man, so he definitely improved. The question of how much will remain unanswered if he does not face this man right now.

"Kakashi, cover your Sharingan eye and regroup with your teammates. I'll take on Zabuza here." stated Ichigo. Kakashi just nodded his head, covered his Sharingan eye, and went to where his team is currently taking a breather from their own battle. Well Naruto is taking a breather, Sakura is meding Sasuke's injuries, and Tazuna is drinking sake to calm his frayed nerves. He also needs to have a breather as well since the strain of keeping his Sharingan exposed is eating away on his chakra. He made a mental note to spar with Ichigo once they have returned to Konoha, and get his skills up to snuff again.

"Let us begin Zabuza. I hope you have improved your skills after out last meeting." stated Ichigo calmly and prepared Ryūjin Jakka.


1. Jutsus or Kido used in this Chapter:

Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) - A technique where chakra kneaded inside the body is converted into fire and expelled from the mouth either as a massive orb of roaring flame or as a continuous flame-thrower.

Katon: Karyūdan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon Bullet) - The user exhales a flame breath from their mouth.

Katon: Endan (Fire Release: Flame Bullet) - This technique simply shoots a flame bullet at the enemy.

Fūton: Daitoppa (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough) - This is a relatively simple technique that creates a sudden gust of wind, but its scale varies greatly depending on the user.

Fūton: Kami Oroshi (Wind Release: Godly Wind from the Mountains) - This technique creates a vortex of wind to blast at a target.

Fūton: Renkūdan (Wind Release: Drilling Air Bullet) - Shoots out compressed air ball from its mouth.

Shunshin no Jutsu (Body Flicker Technique) - The Body Flicker Technique is a high-speed movement technique, allowing a ninja to move short to long distances at an almost untraceable speed.

Doton: Shinjū Zanshu no Jutsu (Earth Release: Double Suicide Decapitation Technique) - This technique conceals the user underground and drags the object of their attack down into the earth, robbing them of their freedom. In addition, they can start another attack.

Magen: Narakumi no Jutsu (Demonic Illusion: Hell Viewing Technique) - This is a genjutsu that reveals the fears that dwell inside people's hearts.

Suiton: Suijinheki (Water Release: Water Formation Wall) - This defensive technique creates a wall of water around the user.

Kawarimi no Jutsu (Body Replacement Technique) - With this technique, users replace their own body with some other object, generally with a block of wood the moment an attack lands.

Katon: Karyū Endan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon Flame Bullet) - The user kneads their chakra into flames, which are then manipulated into a genuine-looking dragon.

Katon: Gōryūka no Jutsu (Fire Release: Great Dragon Fire Technique) - The user compresses a large amount of chakra built up inside their body and changes it into a dragon head-shaped fireball. The user then skilfully manipulates that great fire, and attacks their opponent.

Fūton: Shinkū Taigyoku (Wind Release: Vacuum Great Sphere) - A stronger version of the Wind Release: Vacuum Sphere technique, where the user instead chooses to compress the entirety of the previously inhaled breath into a single large, crushing sphere of wind chakra that they then proceed to expel from their mouth.

Fūton: Shinkūgyoku (Wind Release: Vacuum Sphere) - The user takes a deep breath and then exhales several small blasts of wind chakra in such a manner that they are dispersed over an expansive range, enough to make it difficult to avoid them entirely without taking any damage.

Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Summoning Technique) - The Summoning Technique is a space–time ninjutsu that allows the summoner to transport animals or people across long distances instantly via blood.

Kirigakure no Jutsu (Hiding in Mist Technique) - This displacement technique is a speciality of the ninja from Kirigakure, where one causes a mist to spring forth by lifting up some water from either a pre-existing source or expelled from their mouth, then goes in and out of sight at will from within the pearly-white realm. The mist's thickness is controlled by the amount of chakra kneaded into it.

Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu (Water Clone Technique) - The Water Clone Technique is similar to the Shadow Clone Technique except it creates clones out of water that have one-tenth of the original person's power. Like other solid clone techniques, the clones can be used to perform tasks the user is unable or unwilling to do on their own. The range of the clone is limited however, as it cannot travel very far from the original body without losing control.

Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu - The users splits his chakra to create multiple solid copies of the thrown kunai to harm the enemy.

Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu - The users splits his chakra to create multiple solid copies of the thrown shurikens to harm the enemy.

2. The third chapter will be an interlude on why Ichigo was only doing supporting roles in this chapter. Enjoy!

3. This will not be a bashing fic. I will slowly try and fish out the positive aspects of both Sakura and Sasuke as well. So those who are started thinking that I will bash them forevermore you are mistaken. I'm just really blunt in describing their flaws right now. Well, I am always blunt so how the fic describes them here are pretty much how I will describe them. Again, I am not bashing these two characters.

I am planning on writing Original Side Stories for them during the Exam Arc, so their characters can be more fleshed out. I will show their flaws to their character and their methods of creating a solution to said character flaws. As of right now, I am outlining possible ideas on some side-plot than can be used with each character so far. Ichigo will be the first. Naruto or Sasuke may be the second one to get a side-plot. I am also researching the personalities of both Sasuke and Sakura to know where I shall direct their stories so that they can have justice in regards to their character.

4. Regarding Smart and Strong Naruto. Try living with someone who is blunt and calculating. Chances are, those traits will rub off a person sooner or later. Naruto has been living with Ichigo for 5 years already. He is sure to pick up Ichigo's demeanor. In relation to the third point, I will solve the teamwork issues that Team 7 is suffering soon.

5. Canon will be changed from this point forward. Changes will be made secret for now...