Challengers!!

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When the four of them reached room 301, they found a familiar face waiting for them outside. They were surprised to see Kakashi leaning against the closed door. He hadn't said anything about meeting them there.

"Oh... So April and Sakura came too..." Kakashi remarked. The girls were more cautious and sensible than the boys, so he wouldn't have been surprised if they had decided to wait until they had more experience. "Now you can officially register to take the exam."

"?" April raised an eyebrow. What was that supposed to mean? Did he really think they wouldn't come?

"What do you mean?" Sakura asked.

"The truth is that this exam can only be taken by teams with a minimum of three members," he replied. Fortunately for them, they weren't the only team applying with an extra person this time, so the rules had been adjusted slightly to allow for their participation as a group of four, if necessary.

"Huh? But you said taking the test was an individual choice," Sakura reminded him.

"In other words, you lied to us?" April asked.

"Yes. If I told the truth, Naruto and Sasuke would have pressured one of you into taking it. Even if you didn't want to, if they asked you... you would, even though it wasn't in your heart. For the sake of your teammates," Kakashi explained. Sakura was weak against Sasuke, and April wouldn't have wanted to hold Naruto back. He felt it was better if they each had a chance to find their own resolve to take it, given the nature of the types of challenges they would be facing during this exam.

"So what would have happened if only Naruto and Sasuke had shown up?" Sakura asked.

"The exam would have ended here. They would not get to go any further. But the four of you came of your own free will, you guys are my proud team," Kakashi said with a smile. "Now go!" he encouraged them, stepping aside to let them through. April, Sakura, Naruto, and even Sasuke smiled proudly.

"Yeah!! Let's go!!" Naruto said excitedly as they pushed the doors open, entering the room without hesitation. Kakashi watched as the doors closed behind them.

"!!" Sakura gasped in surprise as the four of them stopped and stared at the scene that was waiting for them on the inside.

"W-Wow..." Naruto said as bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face.

"..." Sasuke furrowed his brow.

"What is this?" Sakura asked, starting to get nervous again.

"I guess everyone else already beat us here..." April said. The large classroom was filled to capacity with fierce-looking genins.

'What numbers... They're all taking the exam? They all... look so strong...' Sakura thought, swallowing the lump in her throat.

"Sasuke-kun!!! You're late!!" Ino exclaimed excitedly as she suddenly appeared out of nowhere, glomping Sasuke. Naruto flinched in surprise, while Sakura flinched in shock.

"!!" Sakura gasped indignantly. How dare she!?

"I haven't seen you for awhile, so I've been waiting eagerly," Ino said with a grin, blushing excitedly, as she continued to hang all over Sasuke, who did not look pleased with the sudden invasion of his personal space. He was especially ticked off because April looked like she was holding back a laugh.

"Get away from Sasuke-kun!!! Ino-pig!!!" Sakura yelled angrily, pointing at her with a vein throbbing on her forehead.

"Why if it isn't Sakura-chan... big ugly forehead as always..." Ino remarked smugly.

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