Sakura's Request and April's Condition

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Kabuto stood with his hand raised, looking awfully calm for someone who had just surrendered their chance to become a chūnin.

"...!!" Naruto and April stared him in astonishment, confused. Why would he suddenly give up after fighting so hard alongside them to get there?

"...!" Sasuke furrowed his brow, suspicious of his actions.

"Kabuto-san..." Sakura said, stunned.

"Umm... You're Kabuto Yakushi-kun from Konoha, right?" Hayate asked, confirming his identity. "You may leave now..."

'...!!' Naruto thought, startled. Just like that...!?

"Umm... Does anyone else want to retire?" Hayate asked. "Oh... Umm... I forgot to tell you that from now on, it will be individual battling. You may raise your hand based on your own judgement."

"So it won't affect our teammates?" April asked, keeping both hands down. As much as it had surprised her, she was sort of glad Kabuto was out of the running. She certainly didn't want to fight him.

"No, not at all," Hayate answered. He waited a beat for her to raise her hand after that, but she  didn't. He coughed. "... Did you not want to quit...?" he asked.

"No, just checking..." April started to reply, when Naruto spun around to confront Kabuto before he had a chance to fall out of line.

"Kabuto-san!! Why are you quitting?!! Why?!!" he demanded earnestly.

"...!" Kabuto said, pausing to look at him.

"I'm sorry, Naruto-kun... but my body is all beat up," Kabuto replied with regret. "Actually, I haven't been able to hear out of my left ear from the time when I got attacked by the sound ninjas before the first test... And now we'll risk our lives... I just..."

"..." Naruto stared at him.

"..." Sasuke frowned.

'But... He's been fighting like that this whole time... and we risked our lives in the last test, too... I don't really see what's changed...?' April  thought, also frowning. Was he worse off than he appeared? Was it because he had run out of stamina? She was also running on fumes in that department, but she didn't want to give up without even trying. And this was his seventh time, wasn't it? You would think he'd be more desperate to pass...

Naruto bowed his head in disappointment.

"I've seen him before," Anko told the Hokage. "Didn't he quit during the final test last year? What's he thinking?" she flipped through the tabs on her clipboard until she came to his. "Kabuto Yakushi's data... He's failed six straight times."

"What kind of record is that?" the Third asked, surprised.

"Since his academy days he was a student who didn't stand out much, his grades were average. He finally graduated on his third try. His completed missions are two C-ranks, fourteen D-ranks. No spectacular battle history here. But..."

"But?" the third asked.

"It's about before he entered the academy," Anko replied grimly.

He gave a look telling her to continue.

"Do you remember?" Anko asked him. "That young boy brought back from the battle at Kikyō Pass."

"I do... I remember, a jōnin member of the medical unit brought back a child of the enemy who had survived the battle," the Third mused. "So, he is that child..."

Kabuto suppressed a smirk looking at the one on the face of the sound ninja jōnin. 'You sure are devoted... Let me handle everything... Is what I'd like to say, but...' he thought, pausing to readjust his glasses as he turned his attention back to Team 7. 'Naruto-kun... Sasuke-kun... April-kun... I would have liked to play with you a little longer, but anymore and... hehe... the old blood will start boiling. I am a spy, after all... I can't reveal my true face here...' But with him there in person, there was no need for him to stay. 'Perfect... If you will be watching them, my job of gathering information is done. Orochimaru-sama.' Kabuto found it laughable that no one else seemed to realize their greatest enemy was hiding in plain sight, standing only a foot away from the Hokage.

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