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When I Doubt, You're My Belief

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I.

"-and the members of Team 7 are Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke... and Haruno Byakuran," Iruka manages to get the words out with only a brief hiccup, and none of the students realize anything is amiss. He patiently counters Naruto's increasingly petulant protests, all the while eying the boy's teammates with no small amount of wariness.

He hadn't had much of an input in the team assignments, unfortunately. His own reports about their academic performances and temperaments and what not had been collected throughout the year, of course, and the higher ups had certainly taken them into consideration. Ultimately, however, the decision was up to them, and he can spot their influence all of over this team's makeup.

The last Uchiha, the jinchuuriki, and the civilian prodigy – On paper, it sounds like the ideal team. With Sasuke's Sharingan and clan techniques, Naruto's overwhelming chakra and loyalty to the village, and Byakuran's intelligence and competence, Team 7 should have the potential for greatness.

"But Sasuke-teme is just gonna drag me down! And Flower Boy doesn't ever do anything! How am I supposed to become Hokage like this, Iruka-sensei?!" Naruto bellows, pointing accusingly at the aforementioned boys. Byakuran has his nose buried in an advanced book (on medical jutsu, of course; the kid's been studying techniques far above his peers since he'd joined the Academy), and Sasuke has his patented scowl directed firmly at the window. Neither of them seem to be paying any attention to Naruto's perceived crisis.

Resisting the urge to rub his temples to ward off the oncoming headache, he frowns at the boy and points out sternly, "The Hokage has to be able to work well with everyone, Naruto – not just the people he likes. You're never going to have your face on that mountain if you can't even do this without acting like a child."

The boy's face falls – and Iruka feels a twinge of guilt; he'd only just gotten Naruto to open up to him – but his grin is back in full force as he declares loudly, banging a hand on the desk, "Alright! I don't care who's on my team 'cause we're gonna be the best! And I'm gonna become Hokage one day. Believe it!"

Sasuke snorts derisively, and Kiba begins to taunt him while the others simply roll their eyes at his big words. Iruka smiles fondly at him, inwardly wondering at his ability to pretend this kid wasn't just a normal, hardworking student for so many years when it's so blatantly obvious. He grimaces as the room is overcome with bickering and quickly regains control when he threatens to hold them back in his class for another year.

He smiles brightly at all of their worried, little faces – almost all of them, that is. Naruto, frankly, looks outraged. Sasuke has turned his death glare up to maximum power. (If the boy ever makes it to jounin, Iruka might be inclined to quiver in his sandals. For now, he simply finds it adorable, if not humorous.) Byakuran, however, is simply regarding his peers with barely concealed amusement.

Iruka moves onto the rest of the teams, but he continues to muse over the topic of team 7. On paper, it's the wonder team of the entire graduating class, even including the other two teams comprised of future clan heads. In reality, the three of them are more likely to fail their sensei's test or - if by some miracle, they manage to pass – be utterly incapable of completing D-Ranks. Sasuke is entirely too haughty and full of himself to deign to work with the other two, Naruto will probably spend most of his time picking fights with Sasuke, and Byakuran will most likely ignore the both of them and focus solely on his own training, as he is wont to do.

It's a walking disaster, and Iruka almost pities the fool who has to deal with them – only considering what fool it is, he's more concerned about his students' well-beings, which, honestly, says it all.

Clearly, the Council is plotting the destruction of its own village or, at the very least, attempting to drive its people into insanity.