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Like I'd mentioned, Naruto had told me many things about the village last night. I'd regretted having to say goodbye to him, but he'd promised to meet with me so we can walk to the Academy together. It's my first day today, so I'm a little nervous about how I'm going deal with this new... this new... well, I don't know what to call it quite yet, but it's new to me, so that should explain enough, right?

The Academy is located right at the base of the mountain of heads. Naruto told me that the heads are the symbol of Konoha, and that it represents all the Hokages who had reigned over and protected the village in the past. He also had told me that only the strongest Shinobi can become Hokage. And today, I'd be able to see Naruto's skills for my own eyes. He must be incredibly talented if he has such an ambition.

But I surely hope that tardiness won't be an obstacle for him, since he's late...

The Academy is actually really big. There are several other buildings that it's connected to, including the Lord Hokage's mansion, and just like his mansion, the kanji for "Fire" is there above the entrance-- "Morning!"

I must've spaced out, because when Naruto arrives, we scare each other. His eyes are wide with surprise, but then it turns into amusement, as he starts to laugh.

"Sorry about that!" he says, a sheepish grin crossing his lips.

"No, I'm sorry," I say, and I smile, letting out a laugh of my own. "I wasn't really paying attention... I guess... I guess I'm just a little nervous."

A little? I think. That must be the greatest understatement of them all. I'm extremely nervous. Something strange floats inside my stomach, and I've never felt anything like it before, so I take a deep breath, and as expected it to, it comes out shaky.

"Don't worry," he says, losing his carefree smile and replacing it with one of reassurance. Almost instantly, I feel very weak, almost empty-like. But at least my pulse has slowed down. "You'll be fine! Well, as long as Iruka-sensei doesn't get mad like he always does..."

"Iruka-sensei... is our teacher, right?" I ask, thinking back to when Lord Hokage mentioned him.

"Yeah, and he can be a real jerk sometimes, too!" he adds, and with this, he grabs my hand and pulls me up the stairs to the large doors, where he forces them open and runs inside with me in tow.

With each door we pass, my curiosity only grows less dormant. I find myself peering in through each window, earning estranged looks from the students inside. They are all students here, like Naruto, and now, me.

"Here it is, Kari," he announces, letting go of my hand. To my surprise, the door suddenly slides open, and we are suddenly blinded by a bright light. Covering my eyes with my hands, I peek through my fingers at the same moment it disappears. Blinking, I see that Naruto is no longer in front of me, but inside the room on the floor, tied up and glaring at a man in a vest that stands over him.

"I'm at the end of my rope, Naruto," he says, and it seems like he's having trouble controlling the volume of his voice. "You failed the graduation test last time, and the time before that! In a couple months, you'll get another chance, but you're messing up again!"

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