I rush into class late, disheveled and unorganized. The students sit in their seats as I enter.
"Well, I'm a little sad to see you go. But I hope everyone the best. Today, you'll be separated into teams of 3 and given a leader."
Ino Yamanaka raises her hand and speaks.
"Will you be one of the leaders Mizuno sensei?"
"No. I'm only a Genin. Plus I enjoy being an academy teacher very much."
Shikamaru whispers, just loud enough for me to hear.
"Because you're too weak."
"Actually Mr. Nara it's by choice. When the village was attacked by the ninetails, many children were left orphaned. Including me. I decided to help by becoming a teacher. And I really hate fighting."
Sasuke jumps into the conversation. I don't really like the kid. He thinks he's better than everyone else.
"I heard you have a disappearing jutsu you use to run away from fights."
"No way. Really sensei?"
"Of course you're curious billboard brow."
"Shut it Ino-pig!"
I roll my eyes and sit on the front edge of my desk.
"What did you just-"
"Ino, Sakura! Knock it off!"
Naruto smiles widely.
"I think a jutsu like that would be really handy! It'd really throw off the enemy in battles!"
"Of course you'd think so."
Upon hearing the 3rd Hokage's voice, I turn towards the door and bow. Kakashi, Kurenai, Asuma, and Iruka come in as well. As the Hokage begins talking to the children, Iruka comes over to stand next to me. He takes my headband out of my back pocket and ties it around my head. I feel Kakashi's glare on my skin.
I ignore Kakashi.
I ignore him again and listen in to the Hokage.
"Iruka sensei will now separate you into teams of three and assign your team leader."
Iruka nods and steps forward.
"Team 7. Sakura Haruno, Naruto Uzumaki, and Sasuke Uchiha. Lead by Kakashi sensei."
Sasuke and Sakura both look at Naruto with disgust. In turn, Naruto glares at Sasuke. I clear my throat and Naruto frowns at me. I smile and he cheers up a bit.
"Team 8. Kiba Inuzuka, Hinata Hyuga, and Shino Aburame. Lead by Kurenai sensei. Team 10. Ino Yamanaka, Choji Akimichi, and Shikamaru Nara. Lead by Asuma sensei."
Once Iruka is done, the Hokage speaks again.
"The first part of the exams will be a written test. There, you will be joined by other Genin from inside and outside the village. Until then, you'll be training, practicing, and doing missions."
The Hokage wishes all the students good luck and leaves. I begin to tear up a little.
"Everyone is dismissed."
Most students disperse with their team leaders. Naruto comes over and gives me a hug.
"Thank you Erity sensei!"
I hug him back tightly as Iruka, Kakashi, and his new teammates watch curiously.
"If there's anything you ever need Naruto, I'm here for you. Anything."
He nods and heads over to his team. Kakashi looks at me intently.
Iruka walks over and unintentionally interrupts Kakashi.
"Erity can we meet for dinner? My treat."
At my surprised face, he flushes and begins to stutter.
"N-no! Nothing like t-that!"
"Relax Umino. Sure. Just let me finish up here."
Iruka leaves and Kakashi pulls me to the side.
"Mizuno I said we need to talk."
"I heard you Hatake and I ignored you."
"Erity, about last night..."
"Don't mention it. Your team is waiting for you Kakashi."
He reluctantly leaves, annoyed. I tidy up the room and write some lesson plans for my new class. They have a little troublemaker too. Konohamaru Sarutobi, the Hokage's grandson and Asuma's nephew. Maybe I should bake some treats. I haven't baked in a long time.
I sigh and head out into the heart of the village. I unravel my headband and tuck it back into my pocket. Up ahead I spot a familiar figure and rush forward.
He stops and turns, smiling when he sees that it's me.
"Ah, Erity. It's been a while since I've seen you outside the classroom."
I grimace and rub the back of my neck.
"Well, I've been busy. You know how it is."
He takes the cigarette out of his mouth and puts on a serious look.
"Erity it's hard to ignore some of the things I hear. Are you okay? I worry about you sometimes."
"So how's Kurenai-san?"
He flushes and puts the cigarette back in his mouth.
"You want one right?"
"You know me well Asuma-san."
He sighs and hands me the nearly empty pack. There's 3 inside.
"It's been like this for a while, hasn't it?"
I just nod. Since father died, maybe a bit after. Asuma found me in the forest crying. He didn't say anything. He just offered me a cigarette and sat with me until I calmed down.
"Do you need company tonight?"
"No. You'll be busy now right?"
We stop walking and he turns towards me.
"If you need me, you know where to find me. Don't stay out there too late Erity."
"Don't worry so much Asuma-san!"
With a smile, I go on my way.
"Is that Mizuno I see?!"
I frown, looking around me. Suddenly I'm lifted up into a bear-like hug from behind.
"Choza-sama! Put me down!"
I'm finally set down and spin around to see Choji's dad along with Shikamaru's dad and Ino's dad.
"Good evening Shikaku-sama, Inoichi-sama."
"Long time no see Erity-chan!"
"How have you been Erity-chan?"
I pout, dusting off my clothes.
"I'm not a little kid!"
Shikaku and Inoichi pinch my cheeks.
"But you're still so adorable Erity-chan!"
I slap away their hands.
"Shikaku-sama! Inoichi-sama! Could you stop it!"
There are laughs from behind me. I turn around and see Iruka and Kakashi. My face flushes and I try to run. Choza catches me in his arms and helps Shikaku and Inoichi bully me,
"Please stop it! You're embarrassing me, you drunkards!"
They all laugh, including Kakashi and Iruka. I pout and all 3 give me one final pinch.
"Come visit us soon Erity-chan!"
I wave them off as they stumble home hopefully.