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Path of Shadows, Path of Lights

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5 May, Year 75 SG - Konohagakure Shinobi Academy:

A notorious blonde-haired problem child raced over the rooftops of the Hidden Leaf Village, towards his destination.  He was late; delayed by a bad burner on the stove in his apartment which made his breakfast ramen take three times longer than normal to make, a number that was decidedly not the "instant" that it had been labelled with.  Even so, nothing could damper the boy;s good mood.

The previous day, he had confronted his traitorous former teacher, learned the truth about the fuzzy tenant within his body, and been given a field promotion to Genin after beating said teacher.  Hopefully his lateness wouldn't somehow revoke that promotion.  In his haste, however, he forgot to slow down enough to descend from the rooftops and treetops, and inadvertently launched himself directly towards the (thankfully open) window of his second floor classroom.  "This is gonna hurt..."

Inside the room in question, one Shikamaru Nara was lazily watching clouds when he observed the orange blur launch himself at the window.  "How troublesome" the dark-haired boy thought, just before the Great Orange Menace made his dynamic entry (across town, a certain green spandex-clad Jonin sneezed - youthfully, of course).  Several of the girls in the room shrieked in surprise, and several of the boys winced sympathetically when he hit the opposite wall of the room, before pulling himself upright as if nothing had ever happened.

"Naruto?  Didn't you fail yesterday?" asked one of the girls, the blonde Ino Yamanaka.

The other blonde awkwardly rubbed his head.  "A bit of a long story.  Iruka-sensei called them extensional...no, that's not right; ummmmm, experimental...-?" he began.

Shikamaru cut him off.  "Extenuating circumstances?" the lazy boy asked.

"Yeah, those!" Naruto said cheerily.  The blonde in question was dressed in a garish jumpsuit dyed in "Kill-Me-Orange"...although despite this, he had somehow managed to evade capture by legions of Chuunin, Jonin and ANBU secret police over and over for years after crude prank after crude prank.

Naruto noticed one pink-haired girl make her way towards him and his heart fluttered.  "Good morning, Sakura-chan!" he sang, only for the girl to completely ignore him in favor of sitting next to another girl, this one dark-haired and dark-eyed as the night itself.  Satsuki Uchiha; the last member of her once-proud clan after her sister had inexplicably gone mad four years earlier and killed off three hundred and seven of the three hundred and nine Uchiha in Konoha.

"Good morning, Satsuki-san" the pinkette, Sakura Haruno, said shyly.  "Ummmmm....I was wondering, would you like to come hang out with me after we meet our Jonin-sensei?"

"Hn" was all the ravenette responded with, alongside an almost imperceptible twitch of the shoulder.

"SO COOL!" thought most of the girls in the room, the exceptions being Satsuki herself and a shy white-eyed girl in the back of the room; Hinata Hyuuga, heiress of the aforementioned clan.

"SO HOT!" thought a number of the room's boys, the exceptions being Naruto (because jealousy), Choji Akimichi (because food), Shikamaru (because he was asleep) and Shino Aburame (why?  Because he was tending to his insects).

Naruto, determined to figure out the "mystery" behind why everyone idolized Satsuki, leapt up on her desk.  "So, what's the deal with you anyway?" he asked.  "Everyone's always going on about how cool you are.  'Satsuki-chan' this, 'Satsuki-san' that.  Every girl idolizes you, and every boy wants you.  I don't see what's so special though."

The Uchiha glared right back at him, wordlessly.  "How dare he?!  Kick his ass, Satsuki-san!" Sakura growled.

Shikamaru leaned back in his seat.  "How troublesome" the Nara remarked, not noticing how he had bumped into Naruto or how everyone had suddenly gone silent.  "What the...?" one of the nameless boys in the back corner of the room started.

Shikamaru turned around to see why everyone was suddenly quiet, and even he couldn't help but let his eyes bug out.  He had inadvertently pressed the two into quite the passionate kiss.

And then the room exploded into a cacophony of shouts and, in some cases, giggles.  "This is incredible!" Kiba Inuzuka laughed at the two's embarrassment, his ninken companion Akamaru barking in agreement.

"Shut it, dog-breath!" Sakura roared, as Ino berated Shikamaru.  "Look at what you've done, lazy-ass!  Now Satsuki-san's first kiss has been taken by Naruto of all people!"

The Nara just sighed.  "How troublesome."  In the back of the room, although few noticed it, Hinata began leaking killing intent towards Satsuki, while much of the male population of the lecture hall projected their killing intent at Naruto.

Iruka Umino, Chuunin and schoolteacher, walked in a few moments later to notice the last Uchiha and the blonde troublemaker sitting as far away from each other as possible, their faces an odd shade of red.  "Huh, wonder what happened here."  "If I can have everyone's attention, please!" the schoolteacher called.  "I am very proud of you all and want to congratulate you upon becoming Genin of Konoha!  In time, you will rise to become Chuunin and even Jonin!  Now, team assignments!  One through five are being assigned in a different classroom, so we'll start with six!"

After reading off three random civilian-born students for Team Six, Iruka moved on to Seven.  "Team Seven: Sakura Haruno-" the pinkette looked up "-Satsuki Uchiha-" Sakura started gloating while several other students growled in anger and the ravenette in question buried her face in her hands "-and Naruto Uzumaki," the glares intensified even more towards the blonde, who looked vaguely annoyed "-led by Kakashi Hatake."  Satsuki's brow furrowed.  "Hatake?  I feel like I've heard that name before..."

"Team Eight: Shino Aburame-" the sunglasses-wearing boy looked as neutral as ever "-Kiba Inuzuka-" the tattooed boy grinned and scratched his ninken behind the ears "-and Hinata Hyuuga," the white-eyed girl squeaked "-led by Kurenai Yuuhi."  Iruka continued.  "Team Nine is still in use, so Team Ten will consist of Shikamaru Nara-" the lazy boy continued to snore "-Ino Yamanaka-" the blonde groaned, before elbowing Shikamaru "-and Choji Akimichi," the boy in question looked impassive as he munched on a bag of chips "-led by Asuma Sarutobi."  Shikamaru's eyebrow raised.  "The Third's son?  This could be both interesting AND troublesome."

Iruka moved through Eleven and Twelve, before packing up his scroll of names.  "Good luck, all of you!" he said as he left the room.  A few moments later, a red-eyed woman with dark hair leaned into the room.  "Team Eight?" she asked.  "I'm Jonin-sensei Kurenai Yuuhi.  Could Hinata, Shino and Kiba please come with me?"  The trio in question got up to leave.  "Have fun, dead last!" Kiba shouted at Naruto, who made a face in response, before looking to the white-eyed girl.  "Good luck, Hinata-chan!"  The bluenette squeaked and ran a little faster out of the room.

Other Jonin entered the room to collect their teams, most notably a bearded man with a cigarette in his mouth.  "I'm here for Team Ten.  Asuma Sarutobi at your service; can Ino, Shikamaru and Choji come with me?"  The trio in question left, with the blonde having to drag both her teammates behind her.  And then there were three; all the members of Team Seven sat in silence in the nearly-empty room, waiting for their sensei.

"So Satsuki-san, what do you think our sensei will be like?" Sakura asked.  The other girl remained silent, but Naruto's face took on a look of curiosity.

"I know!  I'll go ask jiji!" the blonde shouted, leaping up and racing out the door.

"Wait, come back, baka!" Sakura shouted, chasing after him.  "Who the hell is 'jiji' anyway?!"  Satsuki maintained a look of disinterest, but followed all the same, her own curiosity now piqued.

Much to the surprise of both girls, the resident troublemaker raced up a few flights of stairs, past some surprised guards, and right into...the Hokage's office?!  "Yo, jiji!" the blonde panted.

"H-H-Hokage-sama?!" Sakura shouted, while even Satsuki's eyes widened a little.

"Naruto, my boy!  What a surprise" the Third chuckled, pulling his pipe from his lips.

Naruto began to babble a mile a minute.  "-Apparently our sensei's someone named Kakashi, and I was wondering if you knew him, and-!"  Sakura bopped him on the head.  "Naruto!  This is the Hokage!  Be respectful!"

Hiruzen Sarutobi, the aged Third Hokage, chuckled again.  "Now now, it's alright, Sakura" he said gently.  "Now, I do know Kakashi - I am the Hokage, after all.  He's your sensei?" he asked, knowing well and truly that Kakashi was their sensei, since he had made all the team assignments.  "He's considered to be Konoha's strongest Jonin-" Naruto had stars in his eyes, and Satsuki suddenly showed a lot more interest "-but he's always a minimum of three hours late, unless its' for a mission, so you might be waiting a while" he chuckled.

At this, Naruto and Sakura audibly groaned, and even the ever-stoic Satsuki looked somewhat dismayed.  "While you're here, how have the villagers been treating you?" the old man asked Naruto.  The boy briefly looked downcast, but responded with a falsely cheery "All good!".

The Hokage winced a little at the lie in his voice, and the two kunoichi weren't sure how to react, but they all said nothing.  "Well then, why don't you go get acquainted with each other while you're waiting for Kakashi?  I regret that the paperwork never ends" the Hokage said, looking forlornly at the stacks of paper surrounding him, before ruffling Naruto's hair.

"Alright!  See you later, jiji!" the blonde chirped, waving as he ran out the door, his two teammates following him.  After a few moments, he popped back in.  "Say, if the paperwork is bugging you, why not have some shadow clones do it?" he asked, before popping back out.  The Third's pipe dropped from his mouth, and as the three Genin left the Hokage Tower to walk back to the Academy at the base of the Konoha Administrative Complex, they heard a thunderous yell of "DAMMIT, WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!"

A few hours of waiting and one chalkboard eraser trap later, and the Genin heard footsteps coming down the hallway.  Much to their surprise, the masked, silver-haired cycloptic figure who stepped through the door fell for the blatantly obvious trap.  The man cleared his throat.  "My first impressions of you three...you're idiots, but you have potential.  Meet me on the roof in five minutes."

With that, he vanished in a swirl of leaves and wind.