Subject: [FFML] [Naruto] "Genin"
From: "Zac Wendler" <>
Date: 2/29/2004, 1:25 AM
To: "FFML" <>

Disclaimer:  Naruto does not belong to me.  Nor do Sakura, Sasuke, or any of the other characters mentioned or described herein.  I haven't even bothered to get permission from their great and august creator.  Feel free to sue me if you wish, but you won't get anywhere.  Not only do I have no money, but as a college student, I have LESS than no money.  That's right.  A negative net worth.  Have fun, Mr(s). Lawyer!  Also, I will be using adult language in this fic.  If you're not supposed to read such language, GO BACK TO SCHOOL!


" " = Talking

/ / = Thinking



By: Flashfyre5

Chapter One: Dobu-kun


Naruto slowly opened his eyes, finally succumbing to the morning light that had now been shining on his eyelids for a full half hour.  He sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes with his right hand as he glanced over at the calendar that hung on the wall to his left.  Even as he did, he knew the date- it had simply become somewhat of a ritual for him, albeit an impromptu one.

"Fuck" he cursed, flopping back onto the bed.  Today's date, the fifteenth of August, was circled in a little red swirl.  "The chuunin finals are today.  Oh, well.  Might as well get up."  Naruto rolled out of bed, standing up after sitting on the edge of the bed for a moment.  Clad only in a pair of boxers half a size too large for him, he made his way to his bathroom.

/It's been four years now,/ he thought to himself as he went about his morning routine.  /I've been a genin for four whole years./  Time had done Naruto well; over the last four years, he had gained quite a bit of height.  He was still significantly shorter than Sasuke or even Sakura, but that had never really bothered him in the first place.  Naruto slid open the shower curtain and stepped into his tiny shower stall.  On a genin's wage, he couldn't even afford a proper Plexiglas door for the shower.  Hell, he couldn't even afford what most people would consider decent food.  Of course, cup ramen was, and always had been, somewhat of a delicacy to the young man, so he never really could bring himself to care.  He turned the hot and cold water knobs inside the shower on, and turned his face up to face the falling water.  As the steaming liquid rushed over his body, he found himself reminiscing.



*** 3 Years, 6 Months Ago ***



            "Well, things have been pretty crazy here for the past six months," Tsunade said to the eight young shinobi arrayed in front of her.  "But here we are, the chuunin exam completed, and on time."

Arrayed in front of her were basically the same people as had been there six months prior; only Garaa and his team had not returned.  In their places stood a pair of mist ninja, looking dark, mysterious, and badly bruised in their neoprene suits.  Also, a lone representative from the Wind country had come and survived to the finals.  He had, however, drawn a rather short straw, and had fallen to Sasuke in the first round after only a few short minutes of rather brutal punishment.  Finally, a single Thunder ninja sat in a wheelchair at the far end of the room.  Naruto had gotten a little carried away in the first round.

In the end, the tournament had come down to Naruto and Sasuke in the finals.  The fight had been grueling, and long.  Sasuke had eventually triumphed, but it had been a close thing.  Naruto had had to be taken away on a stretcher, unconscious, but Sasuke hadn't been able to walk away from the fight unaided either.  It had been two days since the fight, and everybody was in, more or less, condition to walk and stand before the Hokage and the Raikage, whose country was hosting the tournament this time.

"You have all fought well, and are to be commended.  Even those," the Raikage said, looking notably at the dejected wind ninja, "who feel they did poorly are to be congratulated for making it this far.  However, as you know, this is a test, and only one of you has passed this time."

"The first, as most of you have probably guessed, is Uchiha Sasuke," Tsunade continued, smiling faintly.  "Sasuke, you displayed excellent tactical knowledge and a truly remarkable level of skill.  Would you accept the honor of a promotion?" she asked, bowing slightly to the raven-haired youth.  The Raikage bowed along with her, remaining silent for now.

"Yes, Hokage-sama," Sasuke replied, bowing more deeply than either the Ho- or Raikage had.  Tsunade and the Raikage filed out of the room, and the remaining genin gathered around to congratulate Sasuke.  A few began to talk to each other about how they were going to go all the way next year. 

"But." Naruto said in a defeated, surprised voice.

"Hey," Sasuke called in his direction.  Naruto looked up and met the new chuunin's gaze.  "There's always next year," Sasuke taunted, smiling insultingly.  The dark-clad boy moved to leave the room ahead of everyone else, but turned back at the door.  "Dobe-kun," he added, then stepped out the door.

"Hey!" Naruto shouted, his knee-jerk response to the familiar taunt coming automatically.  "I'm not." he trailed off, as he realized that nobody was paying him the slightest bit of attention.




*** 2 Years Ago ***



            ".three shinobi have proven themselves worthy of the chuunin rank today," said the Mizukage, whose country was hosing the festivities for this particular.  The Tsuchikage, who had not said a single thing throughout the entire ten-minute speech that the Mizukage was wrapping up, flanked him.  The Mizukage had extolled those virtues that the graduates possessed over and over.  

Naruto, though he was still nervous as hell, was even getting bored.  He had won the tournament handily this time, unlike the one that had been held six months ago.  He glanced to his right, for among the lined-up shinobi, he was the one set furthest to the left.  Sakura fidgeted two people over from him, and that wind ninja from his second chuunin tournament had found his way into the finals this time, after defeating Sakura.  Naruto tried to remember what his name was.  Jun-something.  Ahh, it didn't matter, he decided.  He'd beaten the blisteringly fast ninja in record time in the finals; though the kid was fast, one well-placed punch to the face had ended the tournament for him.

Leaning against the wall was Rock Lee, who had been promoted six months ago, and had fought against Naruto in the finals.  Naruto grinned, remembering that fight.  It had been intense.  Both he and Lee had enjoyed it thoroughly.

"Our three choices are Haruno Sakura, Yamashita Junpei, and Kunou Akiko.  Congratulations," the Tsuchikage announced, nodding to the three.  Sakura looked like she'd been struck by lightning, her shock was so great, and another girl, who was furthest away in the line from Naruto, seemed to share her surprise.  The guy Naruto had faced in the finals leapt up with and excited cry and dashed from the room, calling for either his parents or his teammates.  Lee ran to Sakura in excitement and embraced her.  This seemed to shake the girl out of her shock.  Suddenly, excited words about her plans and hopes came spilling out of the girl as she talked quickly and excitedly to Lee.  She didn't even seem to notice that he had embraced her.  Eventually, Lee seemed to realize that Naruto was still in the room, and stopped, staring at him.  Sakura turned to follow his gaze, and realized that Naruto, indeed, was standing there.

"Uhh. Naruto. I don't know what to say," Sakura eventually managed, real concern in her voice.  Naruto immediately covered his true emotions with a cocky grin and scratched the back of his head.

"Ha, there's always next year," he returned, then looked away.  He didn't finish the statement, but he didn't have to.  Sasuke had said it to him after each and every failed attempt at the chuunin exam, almost verbatim.  Always at the end, however, was the insulting, sniping 'Dobe-kun.'



*** Six Months Ago ***


            "Hey," Tsunade said as she walked up on him from behind.  Naruto turned to look at her, then turned back to face the way he had.  He was sitting on top of one of the buildings of the Hokage monument, his legs dangling over the edge of the building.

            "Hey," he replied, not bothering to cover the dejected tone in his voice.  He had just failed the chuunin test for the seventh time.  Tsunade was perceptive; even if he had tried to hide his emotions, she would have known.  "So much for the seventh time being the charm, huh?" he asked wryly, chuckling a bit at his own humor.

            "I guess," the Hokage replied, joining him at the edge.  "You fought well yesterday," she tried to cheer him up.

            "I know, ya old hag.  You didn't need to tell me that," he shot back, rolling his eyes.  He'd barely had to fight at all; all his opponents had forfeited rather than face him.  /Well,/ he thought, /I did have to fight in the finals, but that was a joke.  The poor guy didn't even have time to perform a single jutsu before I downed him.  Even as he thought this, Tsunade sighed in exasperation.

            "Do you know why you haven't been passed, Naruto?" she asked after a short pause.

            "Yeah," he replied.  The youth turned to look at his leader with a weak smile and said, "I like to fight too much.  Once I find an opponent, I just stop thinking about anything else."

            "That's it," Tsunade nodded, faintly surprised.  "You have more skill than any genin I've ever seen, and even among the ranks of the chuunin there are few who could beat you in a fight.  What it all comes down to, though, is that you would be a death knell for any ninja squad you led, if there was a war."

            "That's why I've been doing nothing B rank missions for the last year or so, huh?" Naruto asked.  Tsunade nodded in reply.  Naruto leaned back, letting his arms catch him against the cool cement of the building's rooftop.  "I know that I'm no leader.  It's okay.  I just wish that Sasuke wasn't so damned right."

            "Huh?" Tsunade said, confused.

            "Sasuke always called me 'Dobe-kun.'  I hated it coming from him, and I hated it even more because I was scared that he was right," Naruto explained, tilting his head to meet Tsunade's gaze again.  "And Chouji just made chuunin today.  That's the last of the 'rookie nine.'  Everybody except me," he continued dejectedly.

            "Naruto." Tsunade started, trying to find some way to comfort the youth.  "There are other ways to make your dreams come true."  Naruto shook his head and pulled his legs underneath him.  He squatted there for a moment, then stood up.

            "Don't try to make me feel better," he said, his voice carrying his pain.  "You really suck at it," he sneered, then ran off, hopping down the side of the low building and off into the afternoon distance.



*** Present ***



            Naruto sighed as he turned off the hot water knob, then the cold.  He stepped out of the shower and toweled himself off, then tied the old, almost tattered towel around his waist.  In the cramped bathroom, he brushed his teeth quickly, then ran a comb through his hair, giving himself a ragged part over his left eye.  He no longer wore his hair in the wild, unkempt style that had been his trademark for so long.  Now the strands of blond hair were forced down, and to the sides of his head, where they inevitably sprung back up, somewhat.  He put a few silver ornaments in his hair, each etched with the name of some barely-readable entity.  They represented the summoning contracts that he'd acquired.  He had three total, one for the Toad clan, one for the Fox clan, and one for the Wolf clan.  Naruto hadn't had to call on any them for help in months.  A nice side effect of his new hairstyle and ornamentation was that he could now look rather intimidating when he wanted to.

            He walked out of the bathroom and into the main room of his apartment, and pulled open one of the wall panels.  Inside, hung or folded depending on what they were, were his clothing.  He put a fresh pair of underwear on, then pulled on a pair of orange pants.  They were similar to the ones he had worn years ago, but much more practical.  Far less baggy, they were just roomy enough so that he could move in any way he needed to.  The pants had black piping along the major seams, and some black cording along the right side.  A wide area along the outside of each leg was black cloth.

            Now somewhat decent, Naruto pulled a white undershirt on, and followed it with an orange zip-up jacket.  This too was similar to the style he had used to wear, but it wasn't nearly as heavily padded.  He liked the extra lightness that this jacket had in particular.  It had a pair of pockets in the front, colored a little darker orange than the rest of the jacket.  It had somewhat of a neck on it, but it was loose and thin.  The shoulders and the neck were the same darker orange color as the front pockets were.  The inside lining, visible only once in a while, was a dark royal blue.

            Dressed, Naruto made his way to the 'kitchen' area of his apartment.  In reality, he had simply removed the sliding screen from this section of wall, and had put in a microwave and a minifridge.  While he nuked some cup ramen, he grabbed a compact digital music player from the table.  He hit play and tucked the ear buds in each of his ears.

            /Music,/ he thought as the ramen finished cooking.  He ate it, moving around the room, collecting kunai, shuriken, and other things that he knew he'd need for the tournament today.  /Damn, it seems like music is the only thing that I've always had,/ he continued.  Naruto had had little human contact as a child, and he'd latched onto music as a source of comfort.  Then, for two magical years, he'd had Sakura and Sasuke.  Team Seven had given him companionship where before he'd had none.  Even if he fought with Sasuke every day, and even though Sakura wouldn't give him the time of day, he'd had people to be with.  Then Sakura had been promoted, and he'd been out of teammates.

            Sure, every now and again he'd see her or Sasuke, but A and B rank missions were handled differently than the genin level missions.  They were assigned to individuals based on their skills, or teams selected for their combinations of skills.  Of course, as a genin taking B rank missions, few chuunin would work with him.  Even those that knew him and would work with him were rarely assigned to.  As such, Naruto did most of his missions alone. except for his music.

            Into the small trash bin went the empty ramen cup.  Naruto grabbed his keys and his forehead protector.  He tied the forehead protector around his neck, like Hinata did, except that his rested outside of the neck of his jumpsuit.  He stepped outside and locked the door.

            "Here we go again," he said to himself, then grinned.  Konohamaru had graduated from the Academy five months ago, and had completed enough missions, along with his team, to become eligible for the chuunin exam.  He had cruised through to the finals- the fights.  Naruto grinned as he walked towards the arena.  He and Konohamaru were to be the first match of the tournament.  Naruto knew that he was better than Konohamaru in a straight fight, but the kid had grown up well.  He was smart, and had lost much of the reckless abandon that had characterized him since Naruto met him at age 8.  His stealth skills were still more than a bit lacking, but Naruto had heard that he was good in a fight, and had quite a few tricks up his sleeve.

            "Hey!  Naruto-sempai!" Konohamaru's eager voice called.  Naruto turned and waited for the young ninja to catch up to him.  The youth wore his hair short now, and his still-new forehead protector on his forehead.  He was dressed in baggy black shorts, covered with pockets.  He didn't wear the usual Kunai or Shuriken holsters; instead, he kept all of his weapons inside the ubiquitous pockets of his shorts.  He also wore a gray sleeveless t-shirt, and over that a black fishnet t-shirt.  Naruto was reminded of Shikamaru for a moment before blinking the memory away.

            "What's up, kid?" Naruto asked as they walked together toward the arena.

            "I'm looking forward to our fight," Konohamaru replied with a wide grin on his face.  "I know I won't beat you, but I'm gonna try and give you a run for your money!" he declared.

            "That a fact?" Naruto asked, meeting Konohamaru's gaze.  /What that kid doesn't know,/ he thought, grinning wryly, /is that he's the only reason I'm even in the fights this time.  I owe him one for sticking with me all this time./

            "Well, then, don't hold anything back," Naruto goaded, thinking ahead to the tournament.  "You're gonna need everything you've got to beat me."



*   *   *   *   *   *



            Naruto stood across the arena ring from Konohamaru.  The crowd, seated fifty feet up, was buzzing with excitement.  Quite a few cheers wafted down from the stands.  All of them, it seemed, were for Naruto, who had become somewhat of a staple at the semi-annual genin tournament.  He had won the last six running; nobody was foolish enough, it seemed, to cheer for anybody that happened to be his opponent.  Konohamaru, a few feet away, cast about nervously.  He had obviously not been ready for such a crowd presence against him.

            "Scary, isn't it?" Naruto called above the crowd.  He still wore his music player, but he'd turned it down enough that he could hear both the crowd and Konohamaru.

            "N-no way!" the youth denied, shaking his head.  The nervous sweat and stammer gave away the feeble lie for what it was.  "Well, maybe just a little.," he admitted.

            "Hey, now.  Focus on me, Konohamaru.  A ninja never lets his guard down, right?" Naruto encouraged the younger shinobi.  /Buck up, kid, or this'll all be for nothing,/ he thought nervously.  Konohamaru didn't know about his plan, which was exactly how Naruto wanted it.

            "Right!" the young ninja shouted back, focusing his gaze on Naruto.  His right hand drifted to one of the side pockets on his shorts, while his left stayed close to his waist.  His nervousness seemed to evaporate as the youth focused, and a grin began to spread across his face.

            "That's what I like to see," Naruto said eagerly, sliding into a ready stance.  A broad smile crossed his face.

            "Ready?" the exam proctor asked, raising his right hand.  Neither ninja replied, but neither backed down either.  "Begin!" he shouted, dropping it and jumping backwards.  Konohamaru whipped his right hand forward, slinging as kunai towards his opponent.  Naruto faded to the left, then heard the sound of a muffled explosion.  He glanced back towards where Konohamaru had been, and there was only a cloud of thick, purple smoke.  /Smoke bomb,/ he thought.  /Nice./

            Instinctively, Naruto pulled out a kunai with his right hand, and deflected three other kunai.  Konohamaru, who had thrown them from a great jump he had taken out of the smoke bomb, landed lightly and charged toward Naruto, throwing a full complement of six shuriken.  Naruto, to even his own surprise, was forced to dodge the three on the left even as he deflected the other three with his kunai.  /Nice!/ he thought excitedly, his already broad grin widening.  /This ought to be fun!/  Then there was no time to think, as Konohamaru had closed to melee range.

            The younger ninja, blessed with ambidexterity, had his last two kunai out and was attacking Naruto with them viciously.  The older ninja gave ground, deflecting and dodging the furious assault, but making no move to strike back.

            "Fight me, Sempai!" Konohamaru grunted between swings with his kunai, then jumped, flipping over Naruto to land behind the older ninja.

            "I am," Naruto replied, spinning on his heel so that, when Konohamaru landed, he was facing the younger shinobi.  "But I'm also doing my best to make you look good," he continued, deflecting kunai slashes with the ease of a veteran.

            "I don't look good if you're not taking me seriously," Konohamaru shouted, sweating from exertion now, instead of nervousness.  He spun a furious corkscrew, piling slash after slash on Naruto's left side.  The older ninja was forced to turn sideways so that his right hand, his dominant one and the one holding his kunai, could meet the blows and deflect them away from his body.  After a few rotations, Konohamaru was forced to stop, or risk dizziness.  Naruto met the slight pause in attacks with a brutal side kick to Konohamaru's forehead, which sent the youth tumbling back away.  The youth had the sense to roll with the blow, but he'd dropped his kunai in the first landing.

            "Fine," Naruto replied cockily as Konohamaru used the last of the momentum from his roll to find his feet again.  Naruto's eyes widened as he saw Konohamaru performing a pair of hand seals.  /He dropped them on purpose!/ Naruto thought, surprised, /so that he'd have time to do the seals!/  Naruto's own hands came up to form his own seals, but Konohamaru had already finished.

            "Kono Ha Maru Ha no Jutsu!" Konohamaru shouted with a smirk, as a disc of crackling fire roughly the size of a dinner plate sprung up vertically in front of his hands.  For a moment, it seemed to grow, then it contracted violently, expelling a thin beam of pure heat straight forward. and directly at Naruto.

            Naruto's hands blurred violently as the disc expanded, and as the heat beam struck him, he exploded in a burst of smoke.  The beam lanced straight through, striking the arena wall, and heating it enough to redden the stone before the beam collapsed, a few moments later.  The billowing smoke blew away a few seconds later as a panting Konohamaru watched revealing. a smoldering log, with a charred and blackened hole burned through the middle.  Konohamaru then felt the cool blade of a kunai placed against his throat from behind.

            "Nice move," Naruto said from his position behind the younger ninja.  "I like the name in particular.  But next time," he continued, leaning forward, his head next to Konohamaru's, "pick a move that doesn't leave you rooted to the spot if your enemy manages to get away."

            "Y-yeah," Konohamaru nodded, shaking with tiredness, the just dispelled fear that Naruto had actually been hit, and relief that he hadn't.  Whatever else the jutsu he had just used was, it was definitely lethal if it hit.

            "Hey, Examiner," Naruto called, standing up straight again.  He pulled his kunai away from Konohamaru's throat and stepped back.  "I quit."

            "Huh?" Konohamaru exclaimed, turning to look at his mentor.  The examiner looked just as surprised.

            "Are you sure?" the chuunin asked, taking a few steps forward.

            "Yep," Naruto declared, spinning his kunai on his index finger, then holstering it.  "I'm not cut out to be a chuunin.  I just decided to come and try to give everybody here a good look at what the Third's grandson could do.  Besides, he's an old friend.  I wouldn't feel right taking away his next round, especially after he fought so hard."

            "All right," the examiner replied, then turned to face the crowd, which was rustling about at the sudden cessation of hostilities.  In a much louder voice, the examiner shouted, "Naruto withdraws.  Konohamaru wins by forfeit!"  The crowd exploded in noise, shouting their surprise and disappointment.  Many had bet on Naruto's victory, and many had just lost.  Smiling, Naruto just turned up the music on his player and walked out the gates of the stadium.  As he pushed through the heavy wooden gates, he stopped in surprise.  Sakura was standing there, waiting for him.

            "Sakura-chan," he said out of reflex.  He hadn't seen her except in passing for over a year.  "What are you doing here?" he asked, surprised.  Sakura had grown up quite a bit in the last four years, and had become quite the beautiful young woman.  Her hair had grown back somewhat, but she kept it trimmed well above her shoulders.  Gone were the pretty, somewhat frivolous dresses of her youth.  Today, she wore a white button-down vest, which showcased her burgeoning curviness quite nicely.  There was a little beaded ornament hanging from the left side of the lower hem.  After her bare midriff, she wore a pair of dark red stretch jeans, secured at the waist by a wide, white leather belt.  They allowed her excellent mobility, and had, on several occasions, distracted a male opponent for long enough for her to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.

            "I was watching you," she replied, a weak smile crossing her face.  "You know, the last of the old team seven."

            "Thanks," Naruto replied, returning the smile.  "Sorry to disappoint," he said with a shrug, continuing his walk away from the arena.  He could hear the examiner calling out the names for the next combatants, but he wasn't paying attention.

            "Why'd you do it?" Sakura asked suddenly, and Naruto stopped.  A short silence passed between the two of them.  "Forfeit, I mean.  You didn't need to," she said, trying to break the tension.

            "Yeah, I really did," Naruto said, turning to look at her.  "A chuunin is the squad leader in the event of a war.  He's the guy that has to make sure that his team accomplishes the mission and survives to do it again.  He has to be the cool, collected, thoughtful one," Naruto explained, and Sakura looked down and away, biting her lip.  "You know just as well as I do that I'd get people killed if it came to that.  I'm just not a leader," he said after a moment, shrugging.  He looked at her for a while, and eventually Sakura's eyes rose to meet his gaze.  After a few moments, Naruto turned away again.  "I'll see you some time, Sakura-chan.  We could have lunch or something, catch up on old times," he called back over his shoulder, waving his hand at her.

Sakura reached out towards him, paused for a minute, then called, "Wait, Naruto.  I need to ask you a favor."

"Huh?" Naruto asked, looking back at her.

"Sasuke and I. Well, he'd never admit it, but he does," she rambled nervously.  "Well, we need your help," she continued, shaking her head.

"What is it?" Naruto asked, turning around to meet her attention properly.

"The jounin exams are in two weeks.  We're required to make our attempts in teams of three.  We're allowed to make our own teams, and Sasuke asked for my help a few weeks ago, but we haven't found a third team member," she continued more confidently.  As she spoke, she approached Naruto, until she was standing at a normal distance for conversation.  "Sasuke's controlled power, and I've got precision covered, but we don't have the kind of power that you have.  The kind of power that everybody knows that you have."

"Are you asking me to take the jounin exam with you guys?" Naruto asked, his eyebrows raised.  "Is that even allowed?"

"I don't know, but without you we can't even try," Sakura replied with a shrug and a helpless look.  "Registration forms are due tomorrow."  Naruto looked down for a moment, then shook his head slowly.

"Knowing these sadists," he said with a nod towards the arena, "the test probably involves fighting real jounin.  There's probably a damn good chance that one, if not all, of us would die, and even if we do make it, there's no way they'd let me be a jounin anyway."

"I guess so.," Sakura trailed off as Naruto paused to draw a breath.

"So, basically, you're asking me to risk my life for no damn reason at all, just because an old friend asks me to?" Naruto asked with just a hint of a growl in his voice.

"More or less," Sakura replied nervously.  Naruto looked up, his eyes shining excitedly and a vicious-looking grin on his face.

"Lucky team seven rides again, huh?" he said, the growl of what had seemed to be anger turning to excitement.  "Where do I sign up?




*   *   *   Author's Notes   *   *   *


            Hello, everybody.  After a two or three year (I can't remember how long it's been) hiatus from the world of fanfiction, I'm back!  With a new e-mail address and a fresh enrollment in college, I decided to take a whack at this whole mess again.  If anybody cares, I learned long ago to stick my AN's at the end of my fics, so that those who don't like them can skip em.  This fic was brought on my seeing Naruto through Episode 68 or so.  If I screw anything up, in regards to the timeline, please tell me so that I can go back and fix it.  Yes, I did have to go digging to find out that Tsunade was the Hokage, and if I screw up her characterization, I apologize.  I'll try to keep her to a minimum.

            ::Deep Breath::  Anyway, I write these things with the presumption that people not only read them, but like them.  If this is the case, PLEASE let me know.  Hell, if you didn't like it, let me know too.  Preferably, do so with some advice.  However, no matter what you write to me, I will take a reciprocal amount of time to reply to anybody that DOES write.  If enough people like this, I'll write a second chapter, and so on.  If not, oh, well.  Thanks for your time, everybody.


P.S.: The outfits that everybody is/will be wearing in this fic were inspired by a piece of art that the original author came up with.  It's posted at Toriyama's world (just google Naruto Toriyama's World), under the extras section.  It's called Naruto Pinup or something.

P.P.S.: If you're interesting in prereading for me, E-mail me and say so.  I NEED PREREADERS!!


The #1 Song on Naruto's Playlist: (I'll use this section to tell you what song best fits the mood for the chapter.  Since Naruto is, in this fic, so attached to music, and since I listen to a great deal of it while I write, I figured it'd be appropriate.  I will also include a link to a location where the song is downloadable, when it is applicable.)

"Wind" by Akeboshi.  I know it's already a Naruto song, but it's so appropriate for this chapter.  Find it at, under the music section.


Translations:  (I try to keep Japanese to a minimum in my fics, but some of it, like for the Justus and the honorifics with which these characters actually DO speak, is unavoidable.  I will give the translations for such things here.)

Sempai: an honorific attached to the end of the name of an upperclassman or a mentor that is, relatively speaking, at the same level you are.  Konohamaru uses it here after growing out of Oyabun, which is somewhat closer to Mafia Boss.

Shinobi: a synonym for ninja.

Ninja: Please don't tell me that you need this translated.  If you do, you're reading the wrong fic.

Genin: Lower person, used to denote a lack of skill in Naruto's world.

Chuunin: Middle person, a term of relative respect, compared to genin.

Jounin: Skilled person.  Denotes a high level of ability.

Hokage:  Literally, 'fire shadow.'  In Naruto's world, the five most skilled ninja in the world.  To understand the other -kages, just think of what country they're from.  That's what the prefix means.

Dobe:  Literally, 'Dead Last.'  Sasuke uses this to talk down to Naruto, because Sasuke has the world's BIGGEST superiority complex.  The -kun suffix at the end makes it a nickname.

Ramen:  Dude, give me a break.  Go to college.  Then you'll know what ramen is.

Kono Ha Maru Ha no Jutsu:  Hehe.  Okay, I admit it, I made this up for Konohamaru just because I could.  It translates, more or less, as 'The Fire Circle Wave Skill," which makes a pretty decent name for a technique.  Much better than the Uzumaki Naruto Combo.  Anyway, I just thought that it'd be fun to give Konohamaru a unique technique, and since I'm writing this fic, I get to do it.  So there.

Jutsu: Skill.  This is added at the end of any technique performed in Naruto.

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