Powerful New Rivals

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"Now... First, we'll hear from those who are watching over the new genins," the Hokage said. "Kakashi, Kurenai, and Asuma... Well?" he asked as all three of them stepped forward. "Are there any genins that you would like to enter into this Chūnin Selection Exam? I don't have to tell you, but... after a genin has properly completed at least eight missions, they may take the exam if nominated by their sensei. Of course, completing more missions than that is the norm."

'He doesn't need to ask, they aren't ready,' Iruka thought with a frown.

"Now, starting with Kakashi..." the Hokage said, prompting the jōnins to begin. Following proper etiquette, Kakashi raised one hand in the Seal of Confrontation.

"The Kakashi led Team 7," he said, "Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto Uzumaki, April Starr, Sakura Haruno... Under the name of Kakashi Hatake, I nominate all of them to take the Chūnin Selection Exam."

"What!?" Iruka gasped, startled.

"The Kurenai led Team 8," Kurenai said, following Kakashi's lead. "Hinata Hyūga, Kiba Inuzuka, Shino Aburame... Under the name of Kurenai Yūhi, the same as to my left."

"The Asuma led Team 10," Asuma said, making the Seal of Confrontation. "Ino Yamanaka, Shikamaru Nara, Chōji Akimichi... Under the name of Asuma Sarutobi, the same as to my left."

"Hmm... All of them..." the Hokage said thoughtfully. "How rare..."

"Hold on a second!" Iruka blurted out.

"What is it, Iruka?" the Hokage asked calmly.

"Hokage-sama, please, let me have a word!" Iruka said urgently. "I may be speaking out of place, but most of these nine... were students of mine at the academy. Of course, they are all very talented, but it's too early to take the exam. They need more experience. I can't understand the jōnins' reasoning."

"I became a chūnin when I was six years younger than Naruto," Kakashi reminded him. Age had nothing to do with it. When you were ready, you were ready.

"Naruto is different from you!!" Iruka snapped. "Are you trying to crush these kids!? The Chūnin Exam is...!"

"They're always complaining about the missions. Experiencing some pain may be good for them..." Kakashi retorted coolly. "Crushing them could be fun..."

"What...!?" Iruka shouted, appalled.

"Well, that was a joke, Iruka-sensei..." Kakashi stated calmly. "I can understand your feelings, it must upset you, but..."

"Ugh..." Iruka furrowed his brow, still angry that he would even joke like that.

"Kakashi, stop already..." Kurenai said, furrowing her own brow slightly. Why were they even arguing about this?

"Stay out of this. They are no longer your students..." Kakashi continued, looking Iruka straight in the eye. It was important that he understand this. "Right now... They are my subordinates."

"..." Iruka gritted his teeth in frustration. What Kakashi had just said was true. He no longer had any authority over Naruto and the others.

'Geez... So annoying...' Asuma thought, sweat-dropping. Those two were getting way too worked up...

"..." The Hokage watched silently. The corner of his mouth curved upwards slightly in the hint of a smirk. It was rare to see Kakashi like that. He must really like his new team.

"Nee-chan!!" Konohamaru cried, burying his face in April's chest, as he clung to her.

"Konohamaru-kun..." April said, placing a hand his head. "I'm glad you're alright, but quit it. I know I what you're trying to do..." she said tersely with a tense smile as she pushed his head back to stop him from repeatedly rubbing his face against her boobs.

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