Graduation

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The next day...

Naruto and April were both feeling excited and a little nervous as they sat in the classroom waiting for Iruka-sensei to get started.

'This is it, the day I finally become a real ninja...!' April thought happily with a silly grin on her face. She had to really bust her butt in order to catch up with the others, who had been training for years, but it was so totally worth it!

"We will now start the final exam," Iruka announced. "When your name is called, come to the room next door. To graduate, you'll have to perform the 'clone jutsu'."

'Oh, no! Not that one!' Naruto cried internally, breaking out into a nervous sweat. 'That's my worst skill!'

'They just had to pick the one thing that gives both of us the most trouble...' April thought, letting out a disappointed sigh. She clenched her firsts and steeled her resolve. "All right, now that it's come to this... we'll  just have to do it!" she said determinedly. "It's not over till the fat lady sings, right, Naruto?"

"Right!" Naruto said, also clenching  his fists, as he swallowed the lump in his throat. April was right!  They'd pull it off somehow! Just watch!


They didn't seem to be calling names in alphabetical order, because Naruto's name ended up being called before April's.

"Good luck, Naruto! Do your best!" April encouraged him, hoping they would both manage to make it.

"Yeah, you too," Naruto said as he got up and headed for the door. April glanced around the empty classroom when he was gone.

'Looks like I'm the only one left,' she thought, resting her head on her hand for a moment. She wondered if they were saving her for last because she was an outsider...

"April Starr!"

"Y-Yeah, coming!" she said, nearly falling over in her haste to get up. It was finally her turn!

April walked into the next classroom, where Iruka-sensei and Mizuki-sensei were waiting. She took a deep, calming breathe and exhaled, centering herself so she could focus. She raised her hands and formed the hand seal. "Clone Jutsu!" When the puff of smoke cleared, there were two Aprils standing before them. They both looked equally solid and perfectly identical.

"Well done," Iruka said, a little relieved. Much better than Naruto. Considering that she had only been with them for a year and her low chakra levels, she had done very well. "You pass," he told her with a smile.

"Yeeessss~!!" April cheered as she let her clone vanish in a poof, literally jumping for joy. She was just about to break out into a victory dance, when Mizuki-sensei spoke up.

"Hold on, Iruka-sensei," he said, stopping her in her tracks. "Although she did manage to replicate, she only produced one clone, and you just failed Naruto for that reason."

"What?" April asked, staring at Iruka in shock. How could he...!?

"That was different," Iruka said a bit defensively. "Naruto's clone was useless, whereas April's clone was flawless. What she lacked in quantity, she made up for with quality. And unlike Naruto, who has below average grades in every subject, she has above average grades in most subjects and advanced skills in Taijutsu. Remember, there is a precedent for a student being allowed to pass because—"

"Sensei," April interrupted him with a troubled expression on her face. Iruka stopped, surprised. "Is it true you failed Naruto?" she asked grimly.

"Yes," he replied a bit regretfully. "I'm sorry, but I just couldn't pass him. He wasn't ready. I'm afraid it would be too dangerous if we sent him out on missions the way he is now." April lowered her head sadly.

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