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The Senju Girl

Chapter Text

The sky was dark and foreboding, but inside one home in Konoha a couple laid in bed together basking in the afterglow of their love-making. The man hugged his wife’s back close, carefully caressing her stomach with chakra covered hands. “He’s going to be a strong shinobi one day” he said affectionately.

His wife snorted and placed her hands over his, taking them up to her face and placing kisses on the palms. “Of course she is, she’s ours. And she’s a girl, not a boy.”

It was his turn to snort. “What? No way! He’s definitely a boy. Feel how strong he is?”

“And girls can’t be strong? Have you forgotten who your wife is?”

The man faltered, feeling a sense of foreboding. His wife’s temper was not something he wanted to encounter before his shift in an hour. He shifted his body so he was facing her and moved his arms to her lower back, cradling her close. A mischievous smile spread across his face. “Of course not honey, I know precisely who my incredibly hot,” kiss, “strong,” kiss, “beautiful,” kiss kiss, “kunoichi wife is”. She giggled as he showered her in an onslaught of kisses and feigned pushing him away.

Suddenly there was a loud boom, followed immediately by a deafening roar and wave of KI that paralyzed them both momentarily.

“The Kyuubi,” she breathed. They sat up and moved towards the door quickly, grabbing their clothes, weapons and med kits on the way. They saw the great fox demon in the center of the village. People were running and screaming and crying, trying to escape the epicenter. She felt so many chakra signatures being extinguished she couldn’t discern them. It was worse than the Third Shinobi War. “Kushina needs me. I need to go-”

“No.” He said, looking at her sternly. “You can’t. I’ll go.”

“What are you talking about?! I can help! I’m a shinobi too and this is my village dammit! You can’t just expect me to run and hide when-”

“Mikki,” he cupped her face and touched her forehead to his. “It’s not just you, remember?” He took one of her hands and placed it on her small belly. Her eyes softened and she began to tear up. “You are a mother now, remember? And you carry within you the future of our clan. You must protect our baby. I will protect you both and the village in your stead.”

“But Ikkoi, what if-“

He cut her off with a fierce kiss. “I love you.” He bent down to kiss her stomach, placing a chakra covered hand over her womb and whispering soft words she couldn’t hear.

“Come back or I’ll kick your ass again.”

He chuckled and came up to give her one last kiss. “You beating me to a pulp in our chuunin exams wasn’t enough?”

“It’s been years since then, you may need a reminder.” Her smile was sad and words quiet. Her old teammates had joked with her a few days ago, saying pregnancy was making her soft. She didn’t believe them until now. She knew first-hand how frightening the Kyuubi could be, and her husband was going to go help fight it. She tried to hide her fear from him, he needed her faith right now. “Promise me.” She demanded.

He enveloped her in his arms and squeezed tightly. “I promise. I’ll always come back for you.” He let go and faced the center of the village. The scene was horrific, fire and blood and death reigned supreme. “Now go, get to safety. I’ll come find you when it’s over.” He didn’t turn back before vanishing in a flurry of leaves.

Mikki whispered “I love you too” and turned away, heading towards the shelters and grabbing strays along the way. It wasn’t until she was far away that she felt it happen. A flash of demonic flames, impossible in size erupted in the village. She recognized Ikkoi’s chakra, flaring at full power and then…nothing. He was gone.

She fell to her knees and barely noticed the kyuubi disappearing and relocating outside the village. She was numb in body and mind. She couldn’t feel, couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe. It was as if her soul had been ripped from her body. She gripped her head and screamed ‘no’ repeatedly until her throat was raw and her tears had dried up. By dawn, she was nothing but a husk of a woman.

 

The morning after was a dull blur. She was told by one of his comrades that Ikkoi’s body had been burned to ash by the Kyuubi’s flames. There was nothing left to bury except his Anbu mask he had left at home. The Fourth, her friend since childhood and comrade in the war, was dead. Kushina, her best friend and old teammate was also dead. Their other teammate had offered to take Kushina’s baby in, having two small boys herself, but the council forbade it. The woman’s clan was under suspicion after “incident”, and it would have been a scandal. Mikki wanted to take him herself, but as soon as she saw him she felt the Kyuubi’s chakra within and it made her sick. It wasn’t the same when it was in Kushina, it hadn’t destroyed her life then. To her shame, she knew she wouldn’t be able to separate her hatred for the thing that took her love away from the child of the woman who was as a sister to her. It broke her heart, but she just couldn’t do it.

Entering her home that was left undamaged physically due to the seals she had up was even worse. Every surface, every object, reminded her of what she lost. Even though their marriage had been arranged, as two of the last three members of their clan and the only two “pure” bloods, they had loved each other greatly. Losing him had been worse than when she had lost her father in the Second war. He was old then, and her mother although in her twenties had died shortly after. Like her own, the marriage had been arranged to keep the bloodline pure, as members were so few the age difference was ignored. However, like her own, her mother had loved her father greatly. Such was their fate to love once and lose too soon.

Mikki spent the next 7 months of her pregnancy locked away in her home, sending out shadow clones henged as plain civilians for food and necessities. Hating and loving the child growing inside her for preventing her from following her mother’s footsteps completely and joining her husband in the afterlife.

Several times people tried to visit her, but the only one she would see was Mikoto. The Uchiha woman was distraught, mourning the loss of one friend and helpless to aid the other. Her older boy stayed thoughtfully quiet as he listened to his mother comfort her friend while carefully cradling his baby brother. They were there when she went into labor, Mikoto delivering the baby herself since Mikki refused to leave the house and didn’t want anyone else in her home. The baby girl came into the world with a loud cry and finally brought some light into her mother’s eyes. She now had a reason to stay.

 

A few years later Mikki was still quite isolated. She hadn’t gone back to work as Anbu, but instead took work as a jonin. While she was away, she left her daughter in Mikoto’s care, and their children grew to be quite close. As the girl’s godmother and Mikki’s only remaining friend, she trusted the child with no one else. This caused some friction with the council, as they still held the Uchiha clan under suspicion, but Mikki made it painfully clear exactly what she thought of their opinions, openly defending the Uchiha clan in meetings and accusing the council of employing fear tactics.

Then one day, Mikki was on her way home from a mission outside the village she was ambushed by several dozen shinobi. When she didn’t return after a month, reports came in that she was KIA. The little girl remained in the Uchiha’s care, who carefully nursed her through her grief. The council demanded the child be taken into custody, as being in the care of Uchiha’s was dangerous. The Third refused, but fearing the rising tension between the Uchiha’s and the Council, he went to Mikoto’s house to speak with her and her husband.

“As the girl’s godparents, it is your choice. However, with things as they are, it might be safer for her to leave the village, at least temporarily. The circumstances of Mikkirama’s disappearance are…unnerving.”

Hiruzen sipped his tea and watched the two small children giggling and playing in the yard outside. The girl, wearing a black dress with white obi, and her hair, one half black and one half white and styled in small pigtails high on her head ran wildly waving her arms about. The boy, dressed in white shorts and a black shirt, with short blue-black hair that stuck up in the back chased her with his arms out. The older boy, wearing all black, long dark hair in a low pony-tail sat calmly and watching with a small smile, though it was clear he was listening to their conversation as well.

“Will you not allow us to investigate it Hokage-Sama?” Fugaku inquired even though he knew the answer already. Ever since the kyuubi incident his job had gotten much more difficult, both as chief of police and head of the clan. The Third was making it seem like they had a choice, but they all knew they didn’t. As much as he cared for the girl, she was too much trouble to keep. Their clans had a long standing history of conflict, and with the tensions between the Uchiha and the village, their caretaking of her even temporarily was stirring the pot. He had hoped that the close friendship between his wife and the girl’s mother would continue bridge the long-standing gap, but then everything happened.

“I’m afraid not Uchiha-San. Since it was outside of the village, we have already sent Anbu to investigate and even they have come back with nothing. Since she was also former Anbu, we can assume that she destroyed her body before it could be recovered by enemy ninja. There are no other traces of her.”

Mikoto stayed silent, looking out at the children with sadness weighing on her heart. Both her teammates were gone. Her sisters. Not being allowed to care for Kushina’s baby had hurt her, and now they were taking Mikki’s as well. But the clan’s position was precarious, and as the clan head’s wife she knew where her duty lay.

“Hokage-Sama,” she tore her eyes away from the little ones and steeled her emotions. “Will you guarantee her safety?”

Hiruzen held her gaze and gently put down his cup before nodding. “Yes, I will. Tsunade-Hime may not be the mothering type, but she is a Sannin and the girl’s last remaining blood-relative.” He noted Mikoto’s slight flinch at the last statement, and tried to sound more reassuring. “The girl will be protected with her, and she will grow strong under her tutelage as well.”

Mikoto bowed her head slightly in thanks. She knew the Sannin woman had suffered great personal loss in the village and would not be returning to stay. It would be a long time before the girl would be able to come back, if she came back at all. “When will she come for her?”

“She should be arriving in three days, just after the girl’s birthday.” Hiruzen looked over again as the girl let out a loud squeal. The small boy had caught her in their game of tag and was tickling her madly. She shouted for the older boy to come help, and when he approached the smaller boy froze, thinking he was done for while the girl smiled triumphantly. It was brief, because then the older boy bent down and started tickling her as well, the smaller boy smiling in absolute glee as they continued their “attack” while their combined laughter filled the house.

Mikoto sighed and stood. The other two men stood with her and she bowed deeply to the hokage. “Thank-you for your consideration, Hokage-Sama. Please excuse me, we will see you in a few days.”

She turned and stepped outside to join the children in their game. The girl reaching for her with breathless gasps and flushed cheeks. Mikoto bent gracefully and gathered her in her arms, holding her just out of reach of the boys. The smaller one pouted cutely and demanded his mother to give his “K” back while the other tried not to look affected but failed. Both females giggled and Mikoto placed her down, only to quickly snatch one boy in each arm so the girl could get her tickle revenge.

Hiruzen smiled sadly and turned to Fugaku. “I am truly sorry Fu. I hope you both can forgive me for all of this.”

Fugaku frowned and shook his head. “We all do what we must, Hokage-Sama.”

Hiruzen nodded in agreement, both knowing there was a double meaning to their words, and made his way to the door. “I will send for you in a few days then.”

Fugaku nodded in return but said nothing. The heaviness was starting to weigh on him, but he was strong. He would not bow under its weight.

 

Three days and one happy but somber birthday dinner later, it was time for the girl to go. The older boy understood the situation well, and did his best to comfort his otouto, though it was in vain. The almost five-year-old boy was adamant, the girl belonged to him and he would not let some strange woman take her away. The girl, newly four and equally tear-stricken, also refused to leave her big brothers before Mikoto and Fugaku were forced to intervene. Sobbing in defeat, the girl gave her last hugs good-bye to the Uchiha’s. The older boy poking her in the head and whispering to her before releasing her into the smaller boy’s vice like-grip.

“Promise you’ll come back?” he asked in a small voice, nuzzling into her neck.

The girl smiled and pulled away, causing him to pout. She held out her pinky and he took it in his own. “Promise.”

The girl took the strange woman’s hand and began to walk away. The older boy bent down and whispered something into his little brother’s ear. The little one’s eyes to grew wide he released his clutch on his elder brother’s torso and shouted “wait!” before running up to the girl. She turned and he, with an incredibly serious look, grabbed her face and planted a kiss right on her mouth, making them both turn bright red. Squeezing his eyes shut he pointed at her heart and declared loudly for the three women accompanying her, his parents, the Hokage, his aniki, and the shinobi standing guard at the gate all to witness a single word before turning right back around and running all the way home.

The girl stood there in stunned silence clutching her shirt above her heart and staring at it in confusion. A few moments passed before someone coughed and the woman holding her hand chuckled and gave her a small tug. As they walked the girl whispered the word softly to herself, bringing a bright flush to her cheeks and warmth in her chest she didn’t understand.

“Mine?”

Chapter Text

Twelve years after the Kyuubi attack, a new class of freshly minted genin were waiting their team assignments. As Iruka droned on about the responsibilities of becoming a ninja of the leaf and something about three-man cells with one exception of a four-man cell, the young genin were all mostly lost in their thoughts or straight up tuning out.

Naruto Uzumaki, the blonde haired, blue-eyed, orange jumpsuit wearing, holder of the Nine-Tailed fox, was ecstatic. He was finally a ninja, though it had been a close call. Shikamaru had given him some crap about being there, but he told that guy. He had really wanted to impress Sakura-chan with the story about how he got his headband, but then she blew him off and then he ended up accidentally kissing that jerk Sasuke and pissing her off and it seemed like what was supposed to be the most awesome day of his life was going downhill fast! Naruto sighed and snuck a glance at the beautiful pink haired girl next to him who was all heart-eyes for the damn bastard. It just wasn’t fair. But as long as he was partnered with Sakura-chan and literally anyone else except for Sasuke he would be happy.

Sakura Haruno day dreamed. Her maroon qipao dress complimented her bright pink hair and emerald eyes. She wanted so desperately to be on Sasuke-kun’s team. Three-man cells? It was perfect. She knew they would team her up with him. She pictured him falling in love with her on a mission, sneaking off for make-out sessions, and seeing him up close in action in all his perfection. She was so happy she got to sit next to him today too. Stupid Ino-pig had almost stolen her seat, and even worse, that moron Naruto had stolen Sasuke-kun’s first kiss! Inside she was still seething about that, planning several ways to get revenge on that orange loving idiot. Her parents always told her he was no good, and even though her parent’s annoyed her to no end, she had to agree. She really hoped she wasn’t on his team.

Sasuke sat with his hands folded in front of his mouth, trying his best to ignore the annoying idiots next to him. He was actually excited this morning. Well, as excited as he could possibly be. Dressed in his normal white shorts, dark blue shirt and loose white arm and leg warmers, the blue-black haired boy arrived earlier to the academy than usual. He was one step closer to his goal. Soon he would have an elite jonin instructor that could help him get stronger. But having a three-man cell was two too many. He knew they would only slow him down, and he wasn’t too happy about that. Everyone in their class was so pathetically weak, and all the girls annoyed him. The Hyuuga girl was the only one who wasn’t one of his stalkers, and even though she was weak too he would still rather have her on his team than any of the others. The kiss with the idiot had pissed him off, but he took solace in the fact that he only had to deal with him for a few more moments anyway before he was someone else’s problem. Kami had already taken everything from him already, he wouldn’t make him suffer anymore with a loser or a super fangirl like the pink thing on his team. The chances of that were slim, right?

“Next, Team Seven,” Iruka announced. “Uzumaki Naruto, Haruno Sakura,”

“Woo-hoo!” Naruto shouted.

“Oh no” Sakura slumped dejectedly.

“Uchiha Sasuke,” Iruka continued.

Naruto deflated. “Nooo!”

Sakura jumped up suddenly “Oh Yeah!!”

Sasuke said nothing.

“And Senju Akirama.” Iruka finished.

“Master Iruka!!” Naruto shouted in outrage and pointed at Sasuke. “What were you thinking putting a most excellent ninja like myself with that teme?!”

Iruka explained the balance of teams, Naruto’s lackluster grades and Sasuke’s outstanding ones. Sasuke made an offhand comment to Naruto which incited said boy’s temper and Sakura’s automatic violent defense of the Uchiha before Iruka told them to calm down as there were more teams to announce.

“Master Iruka?” Sakura raised her hand.

Iruka sighed dramatically. “Yes Sakura?”

“Um, I think you made a mistake with our team.” She said hopefully. Akirama sounded like a boy’s name, but she didn’t want to take the chance of it being some random girl who would likely come and try to steal her Sasuke-kun away. “There is no Akirama Senju in our class.”

Naruto looked around confused before nodding in agreement. Sasuke sat motionless, dark eyes narrowed as he tried to recall where he had heard that name before. He hadn’t realized there had been a fourth person assigned to their team due to the yelling of the losers next to him.

“You are right Sakura, there is no Akirama Senju in our class,” Iruka began. Sakura beamed, hope blooming in her chest. She loved being right! She glanced at Sasuke to see if he would acknowledge her accomplishment, and was immediately disappointed. “That is because she has received her training and education elsewhere. Hokage-Sama and I tested her when she arrived back in the village this morning and she passed with scores equal to that of Sasuke’s. Hokage-Sama has her filling out some paperwork, and she will be here as soon as she’s finished settling in. Now, if we are done wasting time, on to the next group. Next, Team Eight…”

Naruto sat quietly grumbling to himself about being on Sasuke’s team. He just knew that Teme was going to try and steal Sakura-chan from him! Though he was kinda excited about meeting someone new. Most of the kids in his class were ok, but a lot of them didn’t like him for some reason. He glanced down at his stomach and frowned, well now he knew what the reason was. He was hoping that since she was new maybe she would give him a chance and be his friend before someone scared her away, or worse, she turned into another Sasuke-fangirl! Ugh! He spent the rest of the time coming up with a plan to woo Sakura-chan during lunch. Now that they would be on a team together, he’d have lots of time to impress her, he just had to somehow get info from her on what he needed to work on most…

Angry tick marks appeared on Sakura’s forehead with the news of their last teammate not only being a girl but one who tested better than her?! No way! The girl must be a cheat, and Sasuke-kun was too good for that kind of girl. And anyway, he was hers! She decided she had to make her move on Sasuke-kun before this unknown harlot showed up. Then she would make it nice and clear to that girl who exactly he belonged to and to back off! Hopefully she ended up being as useless as Naruto and then Sasuke-kun would finally acknowledge her as his best teammate. She barely concealed a squeal in her inner excitement.

Lost in his own thoughts, Sasuke wondered how on earth someone, let alone a girl, scored as well as he did. That could potentially mean a teammate who wasn’t completely useless. Though, he still wasn’t happy this person was of the female variety. He looked out the window and wondered how long he would be forced to work on a team before he was allowed to take solo-missions.

Lunch had been interesting to say the least. All the genin returned to the classroom and awaited their jonin leader’s arrival. Sasuke his anxiousness behind his mask of indifference. Naruto had somehow tricked him and bound him up in rope, but also transformed into him. Where did he learn how to do that? Yesterday the dobe couldn’t make a clone to save his life, and now this? Sasuke escaped and went after him, curious to learn where Naruto had suddenly become mildly competent and to what his intentions were parading around in Sasuke’s visage. Only what he found was a very forward Sakura who, after saying some cruel things about the idiot not having any parents, Sasuke promptly decided he was done with. She obviously fell for whatever jutsu Naruto had pulled, and was incredibly ignorant about others pain. She was nothing but a spoiled brat and a weakling.

Naruto’s plan had almost gone right. He had successfully trapped the bastard and tricked Sakura-chan and was about to kiss her and make up for that horrible incident from earlier when he got a terrible case of the bubble guts. Sure, she had said some pretty mean things about him, how could she think he wanted to ruin her life? He was in love with her! And she was so desperately in love with Sasuke! Why? It made no sense! That bastard didn’t deserve her love, and Naruto was determined to prove it to her. Prove that he was the one for her! He knew what he had to do too, he was going to show her how much better of a ninja he was than Sasuke and win her heart!

Sakura was lost. First Sasuke-kun had almost kissed her, then he tells her she makes him sick? All she did was pour her heart out and bare her soul to him too! It’s not like what she had said about Naruto could have upset him that much, like he hadn’t seemed bothered about it before when they were about to kiss so what? She resolved to try and be nicer to Naruto just in case because really she would do anything to please her future husband. She just hoped it worked.

A knock at the door broke everyone out of their reveries as three intimidating individuals, two adults and one girl, walked into the room. The first was a towering tanned man with dark brown hair and a cigarette hanging loosely in his mouth. The woman was gorgeous with wild black hair and red eyes with black irises and a fashionable ninja-bandage style dress. The girl who walked between them was ivory skinned, with large solid dark red eyes that were cold and hard like rubies. Her hair was odd, the left half black and the right half white, styled in a low bun with chopsticks. She was wearing a black zip-up turtle neck that was open part way at the neck and the long sleeves had loops for her thumbs, and a men’s red obi wrapped thrice around the waist. Her loose black ninja pants reached mid-calf and she had blue ankle shinobi style boots. She wore a blue leaf headband on her forehead and her weapons pouch was on her left thigh. She glanced lazily around the room before turning back towards Iruka.

“Ah! La-Miss Senju, glad you could finally join us!” He smiled warmly. She stared at him and he sweat-dropped. “You have been assigned to Team 7, it’s a four-man cell so why don’t you take an empty seat anywhere and just listen for your team to be called, ok?” The girl turned to nod at the two jonin who had accompanied her before walking over and sitting in an empty section two rows in front of her teammates, who stared unabashedly along with the other genin in the class. They could see the red Senju clan crest on her back as she put her head down and seemingly went to sleep.

“Who does she think she is?!” Sakura whisper yelled. The girl was definitely a threat. Not only did she give off a cold aura but she wasn’t bad looking and her chest being about the same size as Ino’s didn’t help either. A glance at Ino showed her ex-friend had come to the same conclusion. Sakura lamented her lack of gifts in the T&A department for the second time that day and continued to glare daggers into the girls back.

Naruto was slightly disappointed. She seemed mean. She didn’t even talk to them or smile or anything! He really hoped they could be friends anyway. Other teams were getting called up by their leaders and the girl remained asleep. Maybe she was just crabby? Yeah that was it. Hopefully after her nap her mood improved and Naruto would get a chance to talk to her. Oh! And maybe she would want to get some ramen after too! He bet since she was new to the village she hadn’t had a chance to visit Ichiraku’s yet, and there was no way they couldn’t be friends after he introduced her to the ramen-mecca! Naruto smiled to himself and nodded determinedly.

Sasuke sat still as the world had come to a screeching halt. As soon as her eyes passed over him he was suddenly bombarded with memories. He had blocked out so much of his childhood. Everything from before his evil brother killed everyone he loved had been erased. Sasuke lived and breathed only for revenge. When he thought of his parents, he only saw their corpses. The memories of their smiles and life was too painful. And now he remembered her. How could he have forgotten? His first friend.

She had been taken away from him when he was four, and he spent the next few years for It happened missing her and hoping she would keep her promise. He had been told that she left for her own protection, so he trained hard so that he could protect her when she came back home and she wouldn’t have to leave again. After her mother died and she came to live with them, Sasuke felt selfish and guilty for being so happy. He had loved it before when she came over when her mom was on missions. She was good at playing ninja, she made great dinosaur noises, and he was her only friend. She was never allowed to go play with the other kids. It made him feel special and important.

And when they took her away he thought he was being punished. He had been so wrapped up in his sadness he had forgotten to lay claim to her, but thankfully he was reminded just before she left. His brother knew his fear that she would find another friend to replace him. He had learned early that Uchiha’s were possessive and that as an Uchiha man you must lay claim on what was yours before someone else did. And so in his child-like mind he did just that. He tried to control the blush that formed when he remembered that moment, his first real kiss and pointing at her heart and screaming the word “mine!” at the top of his little lungs before running away in mortification at how high his voice had gotten.

Now she was back and on his team and she hadn’t even acknowledged him. Did she not recognize him? Did she know what happened to his family? Did she think he was dead? Did she forget him too? His thoughts ran wild as he stared at her back. A few hours passed and he was lost in long-forgotten memories of their childhood together and trying to ignore the growing anxiety in the pit of his stomach.

Soon the bickering between Naruto and Sakura reached impossible decibel levels. Naruto was whining about being the last ones there, Iruka having left ages ago and Sakura having forgotten her resolution to be nicer to the blonde in record time and screaming at him to shut up. Their argument then shifted to Naruto’s prank he was attempting, Sasuke expressing his lack of faith and Sakura agreeing loudly, admonishing Naruto for being so dumb. Their mysterious teammate raised her head and gave them both a look that was somehow both deadly and bored.

“Oi!” All three heads snapped in her direction. They had almost forgotten she was there. Well, Naruto and Sakura had at least. Sasuke was painfully hyper-aware of her presence. “You two always this loud?” she questioned.

Naruto bristled and pointed a finger at her. “We’re not loud! You’re just too quiet!”

Sakura nodded and glared. “Yeah! And you’re rude too!”

The girl raised an eyebrow at both of them and shrugged. “I never claimed otherwise.” She stated before putting her head back down and seemingly going back to sleep.

“Uh…ok?” Naruto said, looking at his two other teammates in confusion.

“Sheesh! She’s like a girl-Shikamaru!” Sakura exclaimed. She looked over at Sasuke who was looking at the girl intently. Sakura growled and stalked over to the girl, putting her hands on her hips and leaning over to get in her face.

Before Sakura could speak, the girl raised her head on her forearms and looked at the pinkette. “What do you need Cherry?”

Sakura blushed a little at the nickname but quickly recovered, glaring once more she steeled herself. She was establishing her dominance as the alpha female on this team, she needed to be frim. “First of all, my name is Sakura. Sakura Haruno. Not Cherry. Got it?” The other girl said nothing but continued to stare impassively at the glowering female before her. Seriously, after living with Tsunade for so long, no woman or man on Earth could intimidate her. This girl was trying to blow down an iron tower with a baby’s breath of air.

“Second of all, just so you know, Sasuke-Kun is off limits. Don’t you dare think about making a move on him because I. Will. End. You.” She said in her most intimidating voice. Standing over on a ladder by the door, Naruto shuddered and gripped the eraser in his hand tightly. Sasuke glared at Sakura, but remained silent and motionless.

“Yosh!” The girl said, sitting up and stretching lazily before lacing her fingers behind her neck and offering the other girl a smile. “Not that I don’t appreciate a good threat now and again Cherry Darling, but let’s get a few things straight, ok?” Her tone was light as if she was talking to an old friend.

Sakura stood still as the girl continued. “One, I’ll call you whatever I like, so be happy I’m sticking with Cherry and not Talking-Forehead, because that could easily be changed if I decided to be an asshole like you. Second, stop picking on Blondie over there. He obviously likes you and you’re being an absolute dick. Third, I have no idea what a Sasuke-Kun is, so you can-” Sakura shrieked in outrage and went to punch the girl, but before either boy could move Akirama was suddenly behind Sakura, one hand around her waist and the other holding a kunai to her throat. The boys froze where they were, Naruto was still on the ladder and Sasuke was halfway out of his seat.

“And Fourth,” her voice was dark now, all light gone. “…we both know you can’t end shit. In the future, I would strongly suggest never trying to attack me again outside of training exercises. Got it?”

Sakura was shaking like a leaf and nodded numbly. Tears were gathering in her eyes and she looked at Sasuke pleadingly, hoping he would come to her rescue. All she found in his eyes was a look of shock and disbelief before he replaced his mask and sat back down, turning his head to look out the window. Akirama let go and calmly walked back to her seat, pausing a moment when her hand touched the desk.

“Sakura-chan! Are you ok?!” Naruto shouted and made to run over to her, forgetting he was on a ladder and falling over. Before he could hit the ground he was caught by the scruff of his jacket and set upright. He looked at the girl in front of him, who had just threatened his crush but also saved him from face planting. “uh…thanks?” he said, not really sure how to feel.

“No problem Blondie.” She took the eraser from him went over to the board. The three genin watched as she took a piece of pink chalk and shaded a large section of the board before erasing it and using a hand sign to henge its appearance to look normal. She walked back to the ladder and wedged it between the door like Naruto had planned and then resumed her seat and flashed Sakura the peace sign. “Think of this as my peace offering.” She said before pointing to the door.

All three were confused when the door slightly opened and the eraser fell on top of a man’s head of white-grey hair in a poof. The man was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face and his headband covered one eye. Naruto started laughing at cheering that his prank had worked while Sakura started making excuses and relieving herself of involvement. Sasuke resumed his window watching the obvious disappointment in his new sensei evident as the one-eyed man observed them all one by one.

When his lone eye landed on Akirama, she smiled and snapped her fingers and the henge released, revealing a cloud of pink dust and his wild styled up-do looking like tuff of cotton candy.

Three long seconds of absolute silence was broken when Naruto started cackling madly and fell to the floor clutching his stomach in pain. Sakura had gasped and brought her hands to her mouth before erupting into a fit of giggles. Sasuke turned his head and did a double-take before he let out a snort and tried to cover his smile up with his hands. Akirama continued smiling and rested her head on one palm.

“Hmm…how should I put this?” The man mused. “Based on my first impression I’d have to say…I hate you all!”

Chapter Text

“Now I’d like you all to tell us a little about yourselves.” The one-eyed man drawled. They had all met on the roof of the academy. He was surprised when the Senju girl shunshined right after he did, and picked a spot the right of him and remained silent. When the others arrived, she looked as if she had fallen asleep again, her knees brought up to her chest and arms crossed over them, head resting comfortably on her forearms and breathing steady.

“Like what?” The blonde asked. He had sat on the man’s left side. The Uchiha had sat next to the Senju girl, close enough for the pink girl who found a spot on the Uchiha’s other side between him and Naruto to start seething as he inched the other girl’s way whenever Sakura tried to get closer to him.

“Oh you know, the usual. Your favorite thing, what you hate the most, dreams, ambitions, hobbies. Things like that.”

The blonde and the pink haired girl gave him some grief and insisted he go first. He gave them all his normal no information speech which included only his name. “Oh…me? My name is Hatake Kakashi. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t feel like talking about his likes and dislikes. My dreams for the future are none of your business…but anyway, I have lots of hobbies.” He noticed the Senju girl stilled slightly at his name, but the others seemed more absorbed in the lack on info they received. “Now it’s your turn, starting with you on the right.”

“Me, right! My name is Uzumaki Naruto! What I like is instant cup ramen! What I like even better is when Master Iruka treats me to ramen at the Ichiraku’s noodle bar!” The pink haired girl and Uchiha boy sweat dropped. A slight movement from the Senju implied she was chuckling. “What I hate is the three-minute wait after I pour in the boiling water.” Kakashi listened to the boy go on and on about ramen, until he declared loudly and boldly what his dream was. “My dream is to one day…be a better ninja than all the Hokages!! And then the villagers will have to acknowledge my existence!” The Senju and Uchiha stilled and the pink haired one scoffed. “My hobbies are…practical jokes I guess.”

Kakashi narrowed his eye, yes he had figured that. The other two tensed and glanced at his hair, still slightly tinged pink, but Kakashi moved on. “You next, Pinky.”

Said girl blushed and brought her hands up to her chest. She began stumbling over her words and giggling, but the gist is that she was pretty much obsessed with the Uchiha boy who seemed embarrassed about it and was sneaking nervous glances at the Senju girl who hadn’t moved. “My name is Haruno Sakura and my favorite thing is…well it’s not a thing it’s a boy and that boy is…umm...my dream is...” She squealed and blushed even harder. “My hobbies are…ummm…” another giggle. It seemed that Pinky had no interest in shinobi life at all.

Kakashi sighed. “And what do you hate?”

“Naruto and Akirama!” she shouted passionately before looking frightened over at the other girl and glancing quickly back down. Naruto looked devastated and the Uchiha boy glared at the pinkette. So far they were an interesting bunch.

“Alright, now you.”

“My name is Uchiha Sasuke,” he glanced at the girl on his right but she had yet to move. He continued on, “There are plenty of things I hate, and there is almost nothing I do like.” Another side glance before continuing, “It pointless to talk about ‘dreams’…but what I do have is determination. I plan to restore my clan. And there’s someone I have sworn…to kill.” Kakashi narrowed his gaze, he had suspected as much. The boy was like a mirror image of himself. If he passed tomorrow Kakashi would have to try his best to save him from himself before it was too late.

Turning his attention to the last member of the team, he put on a cheery voice. “You’re last Princess.”

The girl had already picked up her head and was staring at the Uchiha like he was an abstract piece of art before sharply turning to Kakashi and shooting him a look when he called her ‘princess’. The Uchiha pretended not to notice her looking at him but the creeping blush revealed otherwise. The pink haired girl simply glared at her new rival and Naruto looked on interested.

“I’m Kira. I like green tea and I hate when people act like assholes.” Sakura gulped audibly and Kakashi smirked behind his mask. “Hobbies are reading and training. Dreams are either nightmares or highly realistic sex dreams, though there is one repeating dream where I’m late for a meeting with some rabbits and I’ve forgotten to put on pants.” All four listeners blushed deeply and Kakashi sweat-dropped. “Goal is to become strong enough to free myself.” She finished mysteriously.

Several seconds of silence passed before Naruto spoke. “Are the rabbits in people clothes?” Sakura turned and raised a fist like she was going to hit him before Akirama spoke.

“Yes they’re all in traditional formal dress, I’m not sure if that makes it better or worse.”

Naruto nodded sagely and crossed his arms. “I think that makes it worse dattebayo.”

Akirama sighed and shook her head. “I think you’re right Blondie.”

Kakashi coughed to gain their attention and announced their first mission. After some whining on Naruto and Sakura’s part and some evil teasing on his, he handed out the mission requirements and poofed away, hiding his chakra to observe from a nearby tree.

Naruto asked the others if they wanted to get ramen, Sakura screeched a rejection and threat before Akirama walked up and shot Sakura a warning look. Sakura stuttered an “excuse me” and turned to Sasuke with a shy smile to ask if he wanted to go on a date. Akirama accepted Naruto’s offer and he smiled brightly and jumped for joy and asked if she wanted to train after they ate. She agreed and he started babbling about how great Ichiraku’s was. Sasuke meanwhile rejected Sakura coldly and disappeared, leaving the girl heartbroken to head home alone. Akirama turned and asked Sakura if she was sure she didn’t want to come but the other girl responded with a hard glare and “no thank you” that sounded less polite than it should have. Kakashi then observed the Uchiha following the other two discretely from a distance to the restaurant.

Just as they arrived at the ramen stand, Akirama turned and looked directly at the spot where the Uchiha was hiding and smiled. She raised her hand to her teammate and beckoned him over with a wave. Uchiha stayed where he was for a moment, before the girl frowned and pointed to the seat next to her and mouthed the word “now”. Kakashi was thoroughly amused when the boy straightened up from his hiding place, red faced, and tried his best to casually walk over to join the other two. When he arrived she patted the seat and Naruto scowled and asked what he was doing here.

Sasuke glared back, “You invited everyone, remember dobe?”

“Yeah but you didn’t say you were coming Teme!” was the retort.

Sasuke smirked. “I never claimed otherwise”

Akirama shot Sasuke a look with a raised eyebrow and laughed, smacking him heartily on the back. “Nice one Ducky-chan!” Sasuke glowered and Naruto started laughing.

“Hahahaha oh man that is awesome! Ducky-chan!” he laughed. Sasuke sat brooding in silence while the other two chatted. Or rather, Naruto talked non-stop and Akirama listened thoughtfully, laughing and adding a few comments here and there. Sasuke kept sneaking glances at her and turning a faint shade of pink whenever she turned to look at him, trying to include him in the conversation but only receiving nods and “hn’s”.

When they were finished the girl paid the bill despite their protests and asked the boys where a decent training ground was where they could do some damage. Sasuke led the way to one near the edge of the training areas that was rarely used, heart beating wildly in his chest.

Kakashi stopped following them just before they got there, he didn’t want to ruin his fun for tomorrow completely. Through his observations he had some hope for them, and so he decided to go check up on his fourth student to see if he could trick her into joining the others. However, when he arrived at her window he was not expecting to be confronted with the scene before him.

 

Sakura’s parents were livid. “How dare the hokage put you on the same team as that demon child!” her mother shouted. “How could they even allow that monster to become a shinobi?! And the Uchiha boy?! He’s a walking target! Any day now that psycho killer will come back to finish the job and you will get caught in the cross fire! The Senju girl is just as much of a liability! Everyone knows that clan is cursed! I won’t allow it!”

Sakura was crying. “But mother! Sasuke-kun needs me! He-”

“I said no! You can’t marry him anyway! Everyone knows the Uchiha clan was behind the Kyuubi incident! They’re no good! What was Lord Hokage thinking putting those two together anyway! Ugh!” The woman threw up her hands in exasperation.

“Hmph. He’s probably hoping they’ll all get taken out at once.” Her husband replied. “Or better yet, the Friend-Killer will probably do the job for him. Three-birds with one stone if you know what I mean.” He chuckled and straightened out his newspaper.

Sakura was panicked. She didn’t care about the other two, but Sasuke…“Daddy please! I need to be with Sasuke-kun! Can’t you do something?” she pleaded with large eyes as she threw herself at him and cried.

“And what would you have me do my little Cherry Blossom?” He asked, petting her head softly.

“Ask for him and I to be on another team! Our own team with a good sensei!” her tears were gone now and she was smiling sickly-sweet. “Forget those other two! They’re both freaks, just like mommy said. But Sasuke-kun isn’t like that. And he’s my true love, we can’t bear to be separated! And he’s so strong mommy! The strongest in our class! You won’t have to worry about me! I know he’ll protect me!”

Sakura’s mother huffed and crossed her arms. “I don’t know Sakura. Maybe you should switch to another career. Something safer. You’re not the most responsible person and being a shinobi is a lot of responsibility. You don’t even put your shoes away properly!”

“But mommy!” Sakura whined shedding more crocodile tears. She detached herself from her father and ran to her mother. “I want him mommy! I worked so hard and I finally have my chance! Please?”

Both parents shared a look before finally giving in. “Alright dear, we will see what we can do.”

Sakura jumped up and down with glee, tears all gone as she hugged her parents tightly and squealed loudly. “Chanarro! I’ll be back later then!” Stopping to kiss each parent on the cheek.

“Where are you going Cherry-Blossom?” Her father inquired.

“I’m going to go find Ino-pig and tell her the good news! Then I’m going to go try to find Sasuke-kun. He’ll be so happy he won’t have to be on a team with those others he might finally kiss me and confess his love!” she giggled and ran towards the door.

“Alright then dear have fun! Try not to stay out too late, your father will go talk to the hokage right now. We should have this straightened out by the time you get back!”

“Okay mommy! Thank you! Bye daddy!”

With that Sakura bounced out the door, happily humming along the way towards the Yamanaka flower shop.

 

Kakashi controlled his temper and disappointment. When he and the Hokage met with the Haruno’s earlier they were completely different. It seemed the entire family had split personalities. He shunshined immediately to the hokage’s office and looked the man in the eye. “Hokage-Sama.”

“Ah, Kakashi, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you until after your bell test tomorrow. Don’t tell me they’ve proven their ability to work as a team already?” He asked, drawing his pipe out.

Kakashi suppressed a growl and shook his head. “Yes and no.”

Intrigued, Hiruzen gestured for him to continue.

“There is an issue we need to discuss.”

 

Back at the training grounds three genin were tired and sweaty. After learning that Naruto could make shadow clones, Kira had explained how Naruto had a big advantage in the training arena, and since he was sorely behind in pretty much everything else, he was going to need it. “They’re solid clones that when made divide your chakra equally into parts. When the clone is dismissed or killed, all its memories come back to you. Which means you can have clones training with shuriken and kunai practice, another few doing research, and another working on genjutsu at the same time. You don’t need to be perfect at casting genjutsu, but you do need to be able to detect and dispel for sure. The real you can work on taijutsu and ninjutsu with us since you’ll probably take quite a few hits. You’re strong but very sloppy, and this jutsu will help you catch up with us quickly.” Naruto was excited but his mind wandered to what kind of epic pranks he could pull being in so many places at once. A voice chuckled evilly in his head that didn’t belong to the Fox.

Sasuke was slightly jealous of the dobe. How did he have so much chakra anyway? Kira alluded to something that made Naruto nervous and she smiled and told him it was ok and not to be afraid. “People are assholes Blondie. Don’t worry if they don’t understand. The people who do are the ones you can count on, got it? Everyone else can go suck a fat dick.”

Naruto and Sasuke blushed and Kira giggled. “Kami you guys are such prudes!”

“I’ll show you prude!” he shouted making a hand sign. “Sexy Jutsu!”

Naruto poofed into a voluptuous naked blonde woman. Sasuke deadpanned and Kira stared wide eyed before laughing hysterically. “This is amazing Blondie! Where did you learn this? Do you have any idea how hilarious this is? Oh man this will work on so many morons! It’s like the ultimate weapon!”

Her teammates gaped at her, though it was rather lude on Naruto’s transformed figure. Sasuke was bristling. Seriously? She was impressed by him? Twice? The dead-fucking-last? Naruto transformed back and boasted about having used it successfully on Iruka-sensei, the Hokage and another closet-pervert he didn’t know and it being his own invention. Kira nodded enthusiastically and high-five'd him.

“Okay Ducky-Chan, I can tell by your face you want to learn the shadow clone jutsu too but it’s going to take a while before you get there.” He frowned but remained silent, motioning her to continue. “It’s a forbidden jutsu for a reason. Splitting your chakra like that can kill you or put you in a vegetative state or worse. You need to work up your reserves to at least jonin level before we can try, which shouldn’t take too long since you’re already at low chuunin.”

“Hey Kira-chan, how can you tell all this stuff about our chakra anyway?” Naruto asked.

Sasuke was upset with the idiot for interrupting but he was a bit curious too. “Oh easy! I’m technically a sensory ninja. I can sense chakra on a detailed level and from great distances. The closer I am, the more I can tell. My other strengths are my speed and ninjutsu. I’m decent in technical taijutsu, but weaknesses are physical strength, genjutsu and shuriken/kunai throwing.”

“What do you mean a detailed level?” Sasuke asked.

“Oh like for instance, where your chakra affinities lie. Blondie, your primary chakra elements are wind and water, and your secondary chakra’s element is fire. Ducky-chan, your primary element is lightning, followed by fire and earth.” She smiled at both of them and they both smiled back.

“Really that is awesome!” Naruto shouted and pumped his fist in the air. “I can’t wait to learn some cool new jutsu now!”

“Hn.” Sasuke agreed. “What are your affinities?” He asked.

“Umm I’ve got water primary and lightning secondary.” She stated. “Anyway Duck, you’re strong, you’ve got some excellent taijutsu skills and you’re pretty good with shuriken and kunai, so we can work on your speed, ninjutsu and genjutsu, though the sharingan should help a bit.”

Sasuke remained silent and looked away, while Naruto looked confused. “Uh, hey what’s sha-ring-on?” he asked.

“It’s the kekkei-genkai of the Uchiha clan. An Ocular ninjutsu.” Sasuke answered.

“Wow that’s cool Teme! Can we see it?” Naruto didn’t know when his two scary teammates stopped being so scary and started being so talkative and friendly. He liked to think it was the power of Ichiraku’s, the Holy Grail of Ramen held serious power after all. Since they had eaten their first bowls, Kira-chan had been in a good mood and was joking around with them. Even Sasuke-bastard seemed to have lightened up. Then they came to the training grounds and went all out in a taijutsu free-for-all til they dropped. It was epic! Naruto had used almost twenty shadow-clones at a time to attack his teammates, who ended up teaming up against him before winning, then Kira-chan switched it up and flipped Sasuke-bastard on his stomach and sat on his back, declaring herself winner and queen of the training ground. Teme hadn’t even gotten upset just flipped them over and declared a change of leadership. Naruto then tackled them both and proclaimed himself ruler of all time and they both grabbed him and tied him up. Kira-chan refused to let him out and explained how to use the escape jutsu properly, and when did Sasuke-bastard even gave him a nod of approval. He just wished Sakura-chan was here to join in the fun.

When Sasuke didn’t say anything the other two exchanged a look. “Ducky-chan, close your eyes for me, ok?”

Sasuke shot her a look but she was staring at him seriously. “Trust me ok? I promise I’m not going to hurt you. Blondie won’t hurt you either.” Naruto nodded vehemently in agreement.

Promise. The word echoed in his brain. He looked at her eyes and nodded. Closing his eyes, he breathed in. He felt her hands on his stomach, the epicenter of his chakra network. Warm, pleasant chakra filled him up and spread throughout his network, flowing like water clearing him of invisible debris. She told him to follow the stream, and allow himself to feel his own chakra flowing. One of her hands then moved to cover his eyes and she told him to focus his chakra there lightly. After a moment, she removed her hands and asked him to open his eyes.

When he did Naruto was the first to react, gasping loudly. “Holy shit Teme your eyes!”

He looked at Kira who was smiling gently. She reached into her pouch and pulled out a small mirror for him. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing, sharingan with two tomoe in each eye. “But…how?” he asked.

“Your chakra was activated there but dormant, like you had it but haven’t used it in a long time. And by your reaction I figured maybe you hadn’t used it because you didn’t know how to.” She explained with a shrug.

“I…I don’t understand. When did I get it? And How come I didn’t know?”

“Well, from what I’ve read, Sharingan is developed and advanced when an Uchiha feel one of the two strongest emotions greatly. Those being Love and Hatred. So, either you’ve experienced a moment of great love twice, a moment of great loss or hatred twice, or one of each and just don’t remember. Either way you probably passed out before someone noticed your eyes. Sharingan uses a lot of chakra and if you aren’t used to it can drain you fast. Mangekyo Sharingan is different, written records indicating that it has only been developed by witnessing the death of a loved one, though historically mistaken for causing the death instead.”

Naruto remained silent, trying to absorb all the information being given. Sasuke looked at Kira, and remembered the burning sensation in his eyes when he had kissed her and squeezing his eyes shut and running home to pass out. The second time he felt it was when It happened, after he confronted his brother and had been overwhelmed with hatred, and he had passed out then too.

“Hn.” He said, and after a moment continued. “Read where? That kind of information isn’t usually available outside of the clan.” Closing his eyes he released the chakra there and suddenly felt extremely exhausted. He was about to collapse when Naruto caught him, much to his chagrin.

“Easy there Ducky-chan. We’re going to have to work on building up your chakra control and stamina before you start over-working yourself. Can’t just dive right in. Actually, that goes for all of us. As for the information, my grandfather did a lot of research on the Uchiha clan’s sharingan. Before his brother died he had instructed him to not to mistreat the Uchiha, which he tried to do by creating the police force for them to run as a sign of trust, and with their permission researched the sharingan in order to help them develop it in less negative environments. Most of his research was stolen after he died, but he kept a few scrolls hidden away with his personal items. His things were given to me a year ago, and I’ve stored them away for safe keeping before coming here.” There was a pause while Sasuke took a moment to take in all he had heard.

“Well…shit.” Naruto and Kira shared matching looks of surprise as Sasuke smirked and they all laughed. Kira glanced up at the sky and saw it was starting to get dark.

“C’mon, let’s get you guys home. We’ve got that survival training against Baka-sensei tomorrow. We all need to rest up, especially me. It’s been days since I’ve actually slept and I’m about this close to being absolutely useless. These damn cat naps aren’t holding up.” She laughed.

After some friendly debate on chivalry versus equality versus Kira was new in the village and she paid for lunch so shut up, the boys insisted walking her home first. She told them to make sure they ate a good breakfast. When they protested saying they didn’t want to throw up, Kira pointed out that it was a “fucking survival exercise against a fucking jonin. A legendary one at that. Survival in the shinobi world means fight. How do you expect to survive a fight against a jonin if you’re too weak from hunger idiots? Don’t worry about Cherry-darling either. I’ll bring her some food in the morning ok!”

The boys acquiesced to her demands, promising to eat under threat of punishment. Kira hugged them both good-bye, confessing she was happy to have made her first friends and she looked forward to working with them, even if they were both morons. Both boys blushed for different reasons and she laughed, shutting the door and disappearing into her apartment. Before they split separate ways, Naruto stopped Sasuke and held out his hand.

“Friends, Teme?”

Sasuke was about to refuse when he pictured Kira’s face. She had been so happy during their training session. And even after the incident in the classroom she had been willing to put her issues aside to try and befriend Sakura, offering an olive branch in the form of pink chalk. He knew she would be disappointed in him if he turned down the dobe. Plus, it’s not like the idiot was that weak either. Kira had been impressed with him on several accounts, not just his mysterious chakra. At Ichiraku’s she had declared he was going to be a valuable team member, going to far as to point out Naruto’s apparent excellent stealth skills to have pulled off so many elaborate public pranks in a bright orange jumpsuit in a village full of ninja and hardly ever get caught. Besides, if Naruto was as strong as Kira implied, then training against him regularly instead of alone would help him advance quicker, getting him closer to his goal. And now, with his Sharingan, and Naruto with his shadow clones, things would be progressing nicely. He didn’t want to admit to the growth slump he was in before, and if putting aside his differences helped things along then…

Sasuke stuck out his hand and grabbed Naruto’s in a firm grip. “Just try not to slow me down, loser.” He smirked.

Naruto growled and gripped back. “I should say the same to you Teme!” He smiled brightly and let go, turning to leap in the opposite direction with a wave and a laugh, disappearing on the roof tops.

Sighing, Sasuke realized none of his questions about Kira and their shared past had been answered. In fact, if anything now he had even more questions. Frowning he glanced up at the sky. He wanted to talked to her alone but, she mentioned something about needing sleep. Maybe tomorrow after training he could try to get some answers. Heading off in the direction of his apartment, Sasuke felt a small smile tug on his face. The day hadn’t turned out that bad after all.

 

Back in her apartment, Kira sank into her warm bath. She didn’t think today was going to go as well as it did. Sitting back and observing her team while they waited for the teacher had proven useful. She had felt the Kyuubi chakra immediately, but the boy was pleasant and clearly non-threatening. The girl had been annoying, and Kira did lose her temper with the girl after hearing her talk down to their other teammate. In her defense she really hadn’t slept in almost a week and had eaten very little, so her tolerance for such fuckery had been low. Traveling on her own for weeks had been rough but Tsunade and Shizune were on one and she didn’t want to wait for them to sober up. She had left them behind on somewhat rocky terms, but she had a goal and the women made it clear they weren’t going to help her.

The Uchiha boy had been a mystery. She had heard about the massacre in her travels and around the village, but he was nothing like she expected. Plus, he kept staring at her when he thought she couldn’t tell like he was expecting her to say something. Did he think she was going to be all over him like the other girl? Kira scoffed. No fucking way. Kira had one goal, and romance was not needed. Although she was quite happy that she was able to make friends with the two boys so far, and she hoped to make friends with the girl too, allowing it would probably be more difficult after this morning, she was still willing to try. After years of traveling and running she had never gotten a chance to make friends her age before, and found that it was something precious. Something she wanted to hold on to and keep for as long as she was able to before her goal was accomplished. Smiling to herself, Kira left the bath and went to bed, praying tonight would be good dream one and not nightmare one. She really, really needed to sleep.

 

Across town in her home Sakura was crying herself to sleep. Apparently, when her father went to talk to the hokage, things hadn’t gone quite as planned. Sakura’s father had told the hokage that he wasn’t comfortable with his daughter being on the same team as the jinchuuriki, and that he believed the Uchiha boy to be an asset to the village and also not worth risking, and that as the two top students in their class, they would do well on a two-man cell. The hokage thanked him for his concern, and apologized for not informing them earlier who his daughters teammates were. But as the Uchiha boy was technically under his care, he would not be removing him from Team 7. However, as Sakura’s parents, their concern for her safety in this matter were taken seriously, and that he would make a special consideration, just this once. The Third made it clear in no uncertain terms that while he was all about second chances, he would only give Haruno Sakura one last chance at being a ninja before she was removed from the program permanently. Typically, team exchanges were strictly forbidden, the slippery slope could ruin future teams forever, though the issue of the jinchuuriki team placement would be this one exception. And so tomorrow morning Sakura was to report to testing with her new team, Team 10.

Chapter Text

It was 9a.m. and Kakashi-sensei still hadn’t shown his evil face. Naruto was fuming.

They had shown up at 5a.m. as instructed, Naruto ate a cup of ramen just in case, and neither Sakura or their sensei had shown up. Kira-chan was curled up next to him and sleeping on her bag, completely unbothered by the odd situation. Sasuke-bastard was sitting a few feet away, glaring at their strange teammate and at nothing in intervals.

Around 10:30, Naruto had had enough and started pacing and shouting. His stomach had already started to rumble and he was worried about Sakura-chan. After a few minutes Kira-chan growled and threw a shoe at him, bouncing off his head and sending him on his ass.

“Ah! What the hell Kira-chan?!” he grumbled, rubbing each of his offended areas with a scowl.

“What are you making all that noise for Blondie?” she mumbled, getting up to grab her shoe and returning to her make-shift bed. “Sit down and conserve your energy. The enemy is waiting us out, gotta keep your head in the game man.”

“Ugh! You keep saying that Kakashi-sensei is the enemy! That doesn’t make any sense! And what about Sakura-chan dattebayo, she should have been here by now too!!”

“Hn.” The raven agreed.

“I take back all the nice things I said about you idiots yesterday.” She deadpanned sleepily. Both boys looked hurt for a moment before getting angry.

“Oh yeah! Well you probably scared Sakura-chan off with your kunai trick in the classroom yesterday! You keep saying Kakashi-sensei is the enemy but you’re the one acting that way!” Naruto surprised himself with his harsh words but he stood his ground. “Maybe they’re not here because we listened to you and broke the rules and ate breakfast and Sakura-chan didn’t so we failed the test and she passed and now he’s punishing us!” He whined, suddenly afraid.

Sasuke’s anger with Naruto’s harsh words dissipated at that last statement. Oh no. What if the dobe was right? If he made a stupid mistake listening to her just because it was her and ruined his chances of becoming a ninja he was going to lose it. He had come so far and to just throw it all away for a girl who didn’t even seem to remember him…

Her laugh broke the silent horrified musings of her two teammates. They both turned to give her the death look when she finally spoke. “Absolute morons.” She got up and made a hand sign, making two clones she instructed one each to go find their missing teammates and see what was up. The clones nodded and put their hands to the ground, concentrating chakra momentarily before taking off in separate directions.

Kira sat down and ignored her two brooding companions. She was sure about the food thing with Baka-sensei. She had listened to his wording carefully and re-read the instruction list several times. And she learned all about seeing through deception from her guardians. From her research, she knew the first test was supposed to mimic a real life mission with specific parameters for which the squad would be assembled for. Tracking units tests were typically ones where they had to find their instructor. Likewise, trapping units would have to attempt to corner or outsmart their instructor and render them immobile.

Their team was obviously an attack unit. Which meant their test would include combat. She was confident in the boys abilities, but from the other girl it would be more difficult. Yesterday all she could sense was that the girl held some significant physical strength (had her blow landed it would have hurt like a bitch), she also had little stamina and chakra reserves. Kira was hoping her chalk tampering would have paved the way for some communication between the two, as she was hoping to get some information out of her this morning over breakfast to better formulate their team. But the pink haired girl hadn’t shown up, and despite her worries Kira had fallen asleep. She absently wondered if she was becoming a narcoleptic.

Naruto’s comments had hit a sore spot. She knew she fucked up when she lost her temper yesterday, and resolved to fix her mistake. She tried to distract them for the time being by bringing out some rice balls she had packed to snack on. Naruto’s stomach growled but he pointedly refused to make eye contact with her or her food. A glance at Sasuke’s way showed he agreed with the blonde.

Sighing, Kira took a large bite out of her food and drank some water she had brought with her. A few bites later, one of her clones released and she made a face. “Son of a bitch!” she growled, standing up suddenly and causing Naruto to jump back with a yelp. “She transferred teams!” she said, looking at the boys with anger and hurt.

“What?!” Naruto yelled pointing at her in fury. “This is your fault! I told you!” Naruto wasn’t acting like himself. How could Sakura-chan leave their team? How would he get her to fall for him now? He was so wrapped up in his fury he didn’t notice the impact his words had on his teammates.

Sasuke sat motionless. Honestly, he was shocked that Sakura had switched teams and not simply just dropped out. She was book smart sure, but she lacked any real shinobi skills, so in a way he was relieved. At least, until he looked over at Kira and saw she was about to cry, her face contorted in anger as Naruto flung words at her like kunai.

She stood there and held her tongue. Sakura’s parents had told her exactly why the pinkette was no longer on their team. It was because of her and her cursed clan, but also because of Sasuke and Naruto too. They were worried that the man who killed Sasuke’s clan would return to finish him off, and they hated Naruto’s existence. They had called him a demon child, and wanted their daughter as far from them all as possible. Kira’s clone had lost its temper (she really needed to catch up on sleep or else) and had maybe threatened Sakura’s parents with dismemberment by lightning if they spoke about her friend that way ever again.

When Kakashi showed up, he felt like he was interrupting a teen drama unfolding before his very eye. Kira’s clone had tracked him down and threatened his manhood if he didn’t show up right this minute. During the ‘conversation’, Kira’s clone froze and went from angry to sad to serious. She recommended sending a med-nin to the Haruno house, and told Kakashi he could explain what happened to Sakura because he was late and had wasted their time when they could be training. He had shown up just after she left, and stumbled upon a sight. Where just yesterday, these genin showed promise of working together, now they were all giving one another looks of pure fire. Kakashi sighed, resigned to another year of freedom from responsibility.

“Good morning class!” he waved happily.

Three faces turned to him in united anger now directed at him. “You’re late!” Yeah, maybe he spoke too soon.

“Mah, as you may have noticed, we are short one team member.” Naruto huffed and glared at Kira, who had replaced her mask of indifference. The Uchiha boy was trembling. Hmm…interesting. “Miss Haruno will not be re-joining us. You three have until noon to get these bells. If you don’t get a bell, you get tied to a stump while the rest of us eat lunch, then sent back to the academy for another year of school. You may use any means necessary to get a bell.”

No one commented on the fact that there were only two bells. Instead the two boys glanced over at their female companion with apologetic looks. Perhaps they had already decided she would be the odd man out. They each took a defensive stance and faced him. Naruto, without preamble, launched himself at Kakashi with kunai in hand. Kakashi easily grabbed the boy’s wrist and twisted him around to face the others. “I didn’t say to start yet.”

He carelessly launched the boy at the others, who caught him reflexively. Naruto aggressively threw them off and growled about not needing their help. The Uchiha boy scoffed and returned focus to their sensei, while the girl remained emotionless. Her calculating eyes had never left Kakashi.

“Begin.”

 

An hour later, the alarm went off and Kakashi was tied to a stump while his three evil genin sat around him swapping bento’s.

He had definitely been wrong.

While Naruto had attacked him immediately with clones, the other two had disappeared from sight and sense completely. He meant to dish out a quick lesson to the brash orange-clad ninja-wannabe in front of him before going hunting for the others, but he never got the chance. The clones just kept coming.

Meanwhile, apparently, the other two had grabbed a clone and hashed out a quick evaluation, apologies, truce and plan before dismissing him, consequently transferring the information back to the original, who never once ceased his barrage of feral clones.

Before he knew it, Kakashi had stumbled upon a couple traps. Then a few more. Then a minefield. By the time he escaped his hair was singed thanks to the Uchiha’s fireball jutsu and the Senju’s lightning sparks. His clothes were burned in odd places and he was starting to get annoyed. He brought out the sharingan only to be assaulted with more traps and fire and lightning and dear Kami more fucking clones.

He had attempted to break them apart. It was clear they had teamwork down after one afternoon of practice, and despite how impressed he was he was here to test them on more than that. So he taunted them with Sakura’s abandonment. It had been the catalyst that had broken their short lived friendship earlier, it might destroy their truce again.

Again, he was wrong.

Telling the truth about Sakura had only enraged them. And he was sorry for that, oh so sorry. The evil little genin had been so angry that they took a hostage. And it was then Kakashi knew he had lost.

The hostage of course, was his sacred text. One minute he was laughing about how Sakura had been smart to want to leave a team with an orange monster, a dead-boy-walking, and a cursed girl. It was only a matter of time before an enemy targeted one or all of them, and they would all die. She would be safer with another team, a team of real shinobi.

The next minute, he had fallen into an impossibly deep pit surrounded by all manner of sharp pointy things and a chaotic web of ninja wire strewn with paper bombs. Above him, three figures stood with fierce looks upon their faces as they looked down at him. The Uzumaki held in his hand a hostage, the Uchiha, a barely controlled flame in his hand, dangerously close to said hostage. Kakashi felt his entire body become drenched in sweat.

“Toss up the bells or the book gets it.” The Senju coldly demanded.

Kakashi untied the bells quickly and tossed them up. The Senju caught them gave the ok, Uchiha huffed and extinguished his flame while Uzumaki tossed the book carelessly into the pit. Kakashi moved quickly to secure it, setting off a paper bomb chain reaction and barely escaped with his junk intact. And when he finally made it out, exhausted and proud and maybe a bit overwhelmed, he was promptly grabbed and tied to a stump, his hands tied into fists so he couldn’t perform hand signs. The rope, surprisingly, was chakra binding. It was a bit overkill.

When the alarm went off he asked which of the two would get a bell, he was answered with laughter. It was pointed out that they had gotten the bells together and would be sharing them with one another but not him. Naruto wanted custody split between them with two-days a week each and alternating Sundays, Sasuke agreed if he got the first Sunday and Kira said she was fine with that, adding that the days should be consecutive to avoid confusion and they could go oldest to youngest in the rotation. They shook on it and the bells were tossed to Sasuke who accepted them with a smirk.

So technically they all had the bells, while he did not, which is why he was tied to the stump as per his own rules.

He didn’t know whether to cry or laugh.

 

After severely underestimating his students and his talk with the hokage, Kakashi resolved to taking his role as their teacher seriously. He was hoping to blow this off, but it was clear that was not going to be able to happen.

The Haruno’s did have a point after all. The combination of Uzumaki, Uchiha and Senju had been dangerous when it was their mothers, but now all three were the last among their clans. A jinchuuriki, an avenger, and an evil princess. They all had targets on their backs, both within and outside of the village. They were strong, but in order to survive the world they would need to be stronger.

But first, he needed them to listen. He released himself from his bonds and stood before them. They were all orphaned and had a clear dislike of authority. That needed to be fixed. They needed to trust him. So he did the one thing he never wanted to do with another person ever, let alone three. He told them about himself.

There at the memorial stone, he told them who he was. An arrogant prodigy. Son of an infamous shinobi who had taken his own life in shame. Kira’s eyes went colder as he continued. He was a student of the fourth hokage, and had lost both of his teammates due to his own misguided pride and mistakes. Sasuke had been especially attentive during the time he spoke about Obito, the wild Uchiha whom with his rivalry had been one-sided, and had gifted him his sharingan eye. Naruto shed some tears at that, especially when he told them how Rin died, forced into becoming a jinchuuriki and a human bomb. Her sacrifice to save the village still haunted him as much as the others.

“Those who break the rules are scum. But those who abandon their friends, are worse than scum.”

He looked at the genin before him who gazed back determinedly. He could see the weight of his words sinking in as the nodded. Sasuke stepped forward and placed a hand on top of the memorial stone opposite of Kakashi and looked to the others. Kira walked over and bent down, running her hand along some names before coming to two, putting a hand on each. Naruto joined them and instead of putting his hands on the stone, he put on each of his teammates shoulders. Kakashi eye smiled and suddenly wrapped them all in a group hug, eliciting grunts and groans of protest.

“Oi, Baka-sensei, I have a question.” Kira mumbled into his shirt where he had her pressed. He sighed at the name and released them, giving her the nod to continue. “What about Cherry-darling? Is there a way to convince the hokage and her parents to change their minds? I think we’re all strong enough to keep her safe, and maybe that will help disprove their fears of us.”

Before he could answer Naruto but in. “I don’t think it’s a good idea Kira-chan. Sakura-chan’s parents were right, it would be too dangerous for her to be on our team.” During the test Naruto had felt guilty about his part in Sakura-chan’s decision and for blaming Kira-chan. He couldn’t help being the kyuubi holder, and had felt bad that his being on a team endangered his teammates. Before he could wallow though, Kira-chan had appeared by his side and explained to both him and Sasuke that she didn’t care about the nine-tailed fox inside him or the psycho-clan killer who may or may not come after Sasuke. They were her friends and teammates she wasn’t going anywhere, and if they were done fucking around they had some porn to steal.

“I agree with the dobe.” Sasuke stated, causing Naruto to whip around to look at him. “Even if she isn’t as strong as us, there is still no need to put her in unnecessary danger. She’ll be safer on another team. It’s for the best.” He didn’t want to add that things would be less annoying without her hanging on him every five seconds, but there was also the part of him that knew he should keep his mouth shut about that. Hearing the things Kakashi had said about him and his teammates had given him a view on what others perceived them as. He had been shocked to learn that Naruto held the Kyuubi inside him, but it explained why the villagers treated him so badly. That alone fueled his anger. Naruto was clearly not a homicidal fox demon, he was a ramen-loving goofball, anyone could see that. And if Kira’s clan was cursed then his was too. But as serious the villager’s prejudices and fears of them were, one fact remained above all. They were a threat. A strong and dangerous team, solely capable of keeping one another safe. Anyone else wouldn’t stand a chance, let alone keep up.

Kakashi observed his female student’s brow furrow as she looked up to him for confirmation. He placed a hand on her shoulder and pretended not to notice when she flinched. “They’re right Kira-kun. Haruno will not only be safer on another team, but she will grow at a steadier pace with those on her level. Don’t worry about her, she’ll be ok.” She nodded and once again fixed her face into blankness. Kakashi removed his hand and clapped. “Now then! Should we begin with some training exercises?” he asked with an evil gleam in his eye. The genin shared a wary look before steeling themselves and facing him.

Oh, he was definitely going to have fun with them now. Payback is a bitch.

 

Several hours, dozens of bruises, a few cracked ribs, one black eye and a bloody fist later, Team 7 made their tired way to Ichiraku’s ramen stand. Naruto climbed up into his chair with considerable effort, groaning as his ribs repaired themselves. His teammates joined him on either side, each equally exhausted. Kira leaned up against the wall, her right eye varying shades of black, purple, dark blue and green. Sasuke’s fist was wrapped in bloody bandages cradled against his chest.

The owners of Ichiraku’s gasped as the genin sat down. Teuchi hollered for Ayame to grab some ice packs and proceeded to start on their orders, as Naruto insisted ramen was more important that ice and demanded ordered three specials stat. Ayame returned and asked what happened.

“Payback.” Kira answered as she held the ice pack to her eye.

“Payback?” Teuchi repeated.

The three nodded somberly. “We beat the hell out of Kakashi-sensei in our genin test. Then after he had us do some training and went all out. He got us all pretty good.” The blonde replied.

“Hn.” Was all Sasuke could muster. Pretty good was an understatement. Kakashi had slaughtered them. He held nothing back as he literally beat humility into his students. Sasuke’s ribs were cracked and he his hand was fucked. After a few hours of attempting tree-walking, Kakashi had decided to take a break and move on to something else. He had used a genjutsu wherein he took on the appearance of Sasuke’s older brother, the man who murdered his clan and the man whom Sasuke hated most of all and was sworn to kill. Even knowing it was an illusion, Sasuke didn’t hesitate before launching himself into a fight, getting kicked in the chest and thrown into some trees repeatedly. Finally, he saw the man standing still, and put all his strength into punching that man’s face. Only too late he realized, it wasn’t His face or even Kakashi-sensei’s that he had punched, it was Kira’s.

Kira, meanwhile, had been working on releasing the genjutsu Baka-sensei had cast on her. She stood frozen in the middle of the training grounds surrounded by dozens of dead bodies, bloodied and broken and clawing at her flesh while screams of torture and agony deafened her. However, her chakra was still so chaotic from that cursed jutsu that she couldn’t focus it to release the genjutsu. If it was a matter of using ninjutsu, she could do that easily. When it came to physical defense and offense, the chakra cooperated. But apparently genjutsu was another thing entirely. As she concentrated, she was so absorbed in what she was doing she didn’t notice Ducky-chan coming straight for her. The next thing she knew there was a loud crunch, pain, and the genjutsus broken on both of them. She was laying in the grass with a feral raven straddling her and fists raised for a second blow when she yelled at him to stop. He froze above her with a look of pure horror on his face. She was angry but had tried to tell him it was fine, an accident and she would live. He still wouldn’t look at her.

Naruto’s genjutsu had been awful. The villagers surrounded him with taunts and pitchforks, calling him names and demanding his death. His first instinct was to run and hide, he didn’t want to hurt them, he wanted to protect them, why couldn’t the understand that? He yelled and yelled but they didn’t listen. Then he remembered what was going on, this wasn’t real. This was a training. Kakashi-sensei was testing them. He got angry then and started fighting back, yelling for the grey-haired bastard to stop hiding and fight him like a man. Several villagers then transformed into shadow clones of his sensei, and Kakashi’s payback beating was rendered. By the time the genjutsu was released, Naruto had several cracked ribs and a smile on his face. He was in pain but he felt more alive than ever. This had been fun. He never had anyone to train with before, and now he had a whole team willing to go all out against him, who liked and supported him, making him stronger than he was the day before. It was awesome.

Teuchi and his daughter Ayame eyed the three children warily before accepting their brief explanation and going back to cooking. This was a village of ninja, and they had seen their share of weirdness. This certainly wasn’t the last of it.

A while later, the three made their way to Naruto’s place to get themselves fixed up. He had been nervous about them coming over, never having received guests or even been a guest before, but they both insisted it was ok. Well, Kira-chan had insisted. Sasuke-bastard initially didn’t want to come but changed his mind when Kira-chan wrapped an arm around Naruto’s shoulder and told the Teme to heal his own hand then or better yet to visit the hospital, she was sure there was some sexy nurse that could help him out there. The look of jealousy on Sasuke’s face warped into fear and he grunted, turning to follow the other two towards Naruto’s place.

When they got there, Kira collapsed on the floor while Naruto ran around trying to tidy up as best as he could, laughing embarrassedly and mumbling excuses. Sasuke stood and observed the place with an appraising eye, carefully avoiding Kira. When Naruto was finished Kira sat up and held out a hand for Sasuke to haul her up then dragged him over to Naruto’s kitchen and sat him in a chair. She then pulled out some medical supplies and asked Naruto for a bowl of clean water.

While she healed him they discussed his other injuries. She gently unwrapped Sasuke’s hand and cleaned his knuckles. She held hands glowing with white chakra over his injuries one by one and he felt relaxed in the comfortable wave of familiar warmth.

Sasuke’s eyes drifted towards her face, and seeing the eye he had been responsible for made him wince, resulting in a sharp reprimand from Kira and a literal slap on the wrist. Something had snapped inside him then, though he wasn’t sure what.

Naruto was more observant than people gave him credit for. Like for instance, he could tell the Teme had a thing for their teammate, didn’t know he had a thing, and no clue what to do. It was the same with him when he first started liking Sakura, and he had to figure it out on his own. Speaking of Sakura, man he was sad about her. But instead of letting it get him down it only fueled his fire. He would prove himself to everyone, no matter what.

As for his new friends, he could also see that Kira-chan was oblivious, which made sense because apparently she hadn’t hung out with anyone her age before. At dinner, Naruto had asked her where she learned from and she explained about living with some no-luck gambler cousin, a fashionable pig, and an over-protective sisterly-figure, all of whom were violent, drunk, crazy, and magnets for trouble. She also said that she left on bad terms, and that they wouldn’t be coming back to the village any time soon. She was kinda odd about it, almost detached. He simply nodded and changed to subject.

Naruto kinda wanted to wait and let the bastard torture himself a bit more, and maybe to get more information about his two teammates. After all, a good ninja got as much information about a target before making a plan. At least, that’s what one of the books a clone read today. He had taken Kira-chan’s advice about utilizing his clones to study, train and of course prank. The only bad part was none of them cleaned.

When it came to Sasuke, the guy seemed to only learn the hard way anyway. Naruto came to the conclusion that he’s sit back and watch the show for a while, and would only step in if it looked like the Teme needed emergency assistance or he got the balls to ask him. Man between Kakashi-sensei’s books (another two books read by a clone this afternoon) and his two teammates Naruto was developing a dirty mouth and a dirty mind. Yeah, Kakashi-sensei’s books for sure.

After Sasuke was treated, Kira went over to Naruto and inspected him for any left-over injuries before taking care of them. Then she went to his bathroom where the mirror was so she could heal her eye, returning looking good as new. Naruto, feeling mischievous, gave her a big hug after to thank her for healing him, calling Sasuke an ungrateful bastard. Sasuke felt irritation with the dobe swelling before Kira interrupted.

“Ah well, he can thank me by walking me home. It’s getting late and I’m beat. We still on for tomorrow morning?” She asked, addressing both of them.

“Of course. Kakashi said we have until noon to practice before he shows up with our bullshit D-rank.” Sasuke drawled, trying to seem as indifferent as possible.

“Yeah, then comes the fun stuff!” Naruto punched a fist in the air, pumped for Kakashi’s rough brand of melee fighting. They’d be doing drills that at four of them came up with to keep them well-rounded. It wasn’t going to be as bloody as the after training, which meant not as fun.

“Yosh!” she smiled and clapped. “Let’s get a move on Ducky-chan! Naru-chan needs his beauty sleep and I’ll turn into a radish after midnight!”

“What! Why am I Naru-chan now? Blondie was better!” Naruto cried, shaking Kira like a doll.

She laughed and pinched his cheeks. “Because you’re Naru-chan obviously!”

Naruto groaned and Sasuke spoke up. “While on the subject of changing your odd nicknames-”

“Not a chance Ducky-chan!” Kira sing-songed while still squeezing Naruto’s cheeks painfully.

“Uggghhhhhh!” Naruto groaned. “Please get out of my house now.” He said pleadingly, giving Sasuke sad puppy eyes.

Sasuke sighed dramatically. “You owe me one usuratonkachi” he said before walking over to Kira and grabbing her hand, yanking her towards the door despite her protests of not being done playing with the whiskers.

Naruto ran over and shoved her shoes on before pushing them both out the door, sighing and sagging on the floor in relief. He rubbed his poor cheeks, “physical strength as a weakness my ass!” he shouted.

 

Once outside, Sasuke pulled Kira up towards the roof and they started hopping across them towards her apartment. Once outside her door, Sasuke stopped her from going inside with a sudden hand on her forearm. She turned to look at him questioningly, and he dropped his hand to the side.

“Kira, I-”

“If you want to talk about something you can come inside, it’s cool. I’ll just make some tea, ok?” she asked. He nodded and followed her into her small apartment. Sasuke was surprised it was as smaller than Naruto’s, just one room with a futon, bookshelf, table, closet, some plants, kitchen area and a bathroom. “Before you say anything, I requested the place with the cheapest rent available. It was between this and something a lot worse. I wasn’t trying to over-pay rent on a place I won’t be spending much time in anyway, you know what I mean?”

He raised an eyebrow and nodded. Yeah, that made a lot of sense. As ninja they were always out training or on missions. He remembered his family members were all usually busy growing up. He shoved that quickly down, remembering what he came to talk to her about. “It’s smart. And your place is nice.” He added quickly.

Kira smiled thanking him and offered his cup, he took it and they shared a few moments of silence. He looked over and she seemed as always unbothered by her environment. She looked back at him and he realized she was waiting for him to speak. “About earlier,” he began.

“Let me stop you right there. Normally, I’d let you say whatever you felt like saying until you were done saying it before I spoke, but if you’re going to apologize again for that killer punch then save it Duck.” She put down her tea and placed her hands in her lap. “We are ninja.” She said calmly, maintaining eye contact. “Pain, loss, death, suffering. These are all things we have chosen to live with. If we are going to be on a team, we are going to hurt one another, and that’s ok. We need to hurt one another. That way, when we face our enemies, we will be stronger for our pain and kinder for our suffering.”

Sasuke stared. Maybe she was right. Naruto had endured years of suffering and misery because of the ignorance of the villagers. And he was still incredibly kind. Stupid, annoying, but kind. Loss and death had made Sasuke strong. But he needed to be stronger still if he was going to beat Him. Her eye was healed, as was his hand. Was he really stronger for it? Was she?

“Besides that, if anyone outside of our team lays a hand on you morons or the one-eyed pervert, pun-intended, then they’ll be the ones who need to apologize. Unless it’s your fault and you deserve it, then I can do nothing.” She finished with a smile and a lazy wave. Sasuke smirked and agreed.

“Fine.” He replied. ‘But if anyone lays a hand on her I’ll kill them’, he thought to himself. “I do have one question.”

She smiled and took a sip of her tea. “And that would be?”

He took a deep breath and held her gaze. “Do you…do you remember me?”

Chapter Text

Training had been rough. Like rougher than rough. And the masochistic little genin loved it.

Every morning at 5 they started off with “The Basics”. Stretches, followed by one set of a hundred each of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups, and squat-kicks, with a lap around the village between each set. Kakashi had made them wear weight vests under their shirts, increasing the weight and adding another set of a hundred exercises each week.

Then came the chakra control exercises. So many trees were harmed in the making of Team 7. By the time they learned water walking they’d sworn off swimming for at least a year.

After that, they’d get into “Game Time”, which consisted of either weapons accuracy and evasion, sensing and intelligence, or stealth and trapping, depending on the day. Since Sasuke excelled in weaponry, he led their group on those two days. Even though he got off to a rough start communication wise, he had surprisingly turned out to be a good teacher, providing motivation and constructive feedback to both of his companions while still able to improve himself. He’d set up an elaborate obstacle course the night before, with a certain number of targets needed to hit and several triggers to launch weapons. They got more elaborate, which meant more painful, with Naruto’s stealth and trapping lessons.

Naruto, as it turned out, was a natural talent for setting up evil traps, which probably came from his history of pranking. On his teaching days they’d set out into the village henged as him, because between the bright orange and a village full of people who would rather eat cow piles than to help him out, it was perfect. Kakashi approved of the lesson plan, saying it was like being in an open field in enemy territory. Their objective was to follow clues to find an object Naruto had hidden in the village the night before. The problem was, there were trails of false clues that led to traps, and good clues that led to even better traps, and neither Kira or Sasuke ever walked away completely unscathed. Naruto also wisely used this time to enact some of his own pranks upon random people, for which Sasuke and Kira sometimes paid for in their henged state.

Kira’s games were closer to that of tag meets hide and seek. The boys would have to try to find her using only their senses while she masked her chakra. Once they found her she’d start running. If one of them caught her, she was it and would start chasing the others, who had to hide their chakra as well as themselves somewhere in the forest near the Uchiha training grounds. Kakashi added hiding and tracking scents after two weeks, which Naruto excelled at thanks to the Kyuubi.

And that was another thing. Sasuke had brought them all to the Uchiha training grounds on their first day. The first morning they met at the memorial stone, Sasuke shocked them by stating that he wanted them to do their private training there, away from everyone else. The afternoon training with Kakashi could be done at the regular training grounds. Naruto and Kira agreed, and later when they told Kakashi, he patted the raven’s head and gave him a wide smile, thoroughly embarrassing him.

After lunch (if it was your game day you cooked), they’d meet up with Kakashi at the bridge, who, having several hours to get there, still always managed to be at least a few minutes late. Not that they minded but they’d still give him shit for it.

They had resorted to using all their time wisely, devoting the waiting room period to reading up on tai, nin, or genjutsu’s for their upcoming after-mission-melee session, which featured any one or combination of the three depending on Kakashi’s mood. He’d beat them down relentlessly until after sunset, and they never once complained. Instead, they’d come back the next afternoon mostly healed and ready to do it all over again. It made him glad he insisted on one day a week of no official ninja training, suggesting they use the time to enjoy life. At first they protested, but a quick reminder about how life was fleeting for a ninja and that living was still important, they’d consented.

Sunday’s somehow then turned into family days. The genin would all go grocery shopping for the week. It had easily turned into a regular thing to share lunch and dinner together, having barely enough strength to make it somewhere to eat after the day was finished and to heal their injuries. A hot meal was enough to give them the strength to trudge home and collapse. Having gotten used to visiting each other’s apartments for lunch, they soon were reminding one another of who needed to pick up what and participating in some friendly bantering.

“You’re about one roll away from having to permanently fuck up a towel Teme! Get the big one!”

“Shit Kira, you better be getting juice. We need to drink something other than green tea woman!”

“Damn it Naru-chan! Put the ramen back we eat enough of it already! And don’t give me that face!”

After marketing, they’d go hang out either in the library, an uncrowded park, or at one of their houses, genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Naruto’s special interest in fuinjutsu quickly spread to the other two, and they’d spend hours experimenting like little mad scientists.

Later, one of them would go kidnap their sensei and drag him over for dinner, which the four of them ended up making together. Kakashi-sensei was an excellent cook, and his three students were not. The cooking lessons ended up being everyone’s secret favorite, for it was in the crowded kitchen, filled with mostly pleasant smells (if nothing got burnt or forgotten in a food fight), sharp knives and friendly competitiveness that they all found some semblance of peace. They found a rhythm, and it worked.

The D-ranks were boring, but they used the opportunity to be friendly towards the villagers, despite their feelings towards them, and put their ninja skills to good use where applicable. Naruto’s clones made large daunting tasks easier with a larger crew. Kira’s water Justus came in handing for farming missions. And Sasuke had a connection with cats that made catching Tora, the chronic runaway, a breeze.

Basically, the fowl-mouthed group of kawaii genin were all monsters. And Kakashi was really starting to like them.

Which is how they ended up in the Hokage’s office to begin with.

 

The Third Hokage was impressed by the change not only in Naruto, but in Sasuke, Kira and Kakashi as well. Naruto was more subdued, contemplative and at the same time his pranks were at an all-time high, both in hilarity and complexity. It was troubling but also, good? The boy had grown up so isolated, Hiruzen had hoped that placing a fourth member on his team would have expanded his chances of making a friend. Even though that hadn’t turned out the way he thought, looking at the three before him who so closely resembled their parents he couldn’t bring himself to regret his decision, especially when Naruto seemed happier now that he had ever seen him before.

Sasuke was no longer the withdrawn angry child. Now he was friendlier, expressive, and protective of his team members. He had been caught off guard when Kakashi told him that they would be using the Uchiha police training grounds. At first he objected, but since the lands technically belonged to the boy, he could do as he wished.

He was even more shocked when he learned that Naruto had been researching sealing techniques, and with Kakashi’s help had put up seals around the Uchiha grounds so that only team 7 could enter. And the thought of what Naruto would be getting up do with seals had him lying awake in bed for several days, looking over at the hokage mountain in worry.

Then there was Akirama. The cold girl who had shown up a month ago after her long absence with no recollection of ever being here before. Tsunade’s letter of introduction he received a month before briefly addressed the situation, but focused more on the fact that the girl had a tendency to be distant and both wanted and needed to make some friends. The girl had refused to live in her mother’s home or the isolated Senju compound, electing a small one-room apartment in the middle of the village instead.

The Haruno’s wanted to press charges against her for electrifying their couch, but he had shut that down, asking if they really wanted to be the people who brought the heir to the Senju clan to court for something so simple as defending her comrades? And just after they had just received such an unprecedented favor from the hokage himself. No, they did not. Though he did warn her after that not to go around threatening villagers, she pretended not to hear him. Now she was just as friendly as Naruto, treating her companions as brothers she had known all her life.

Kakashi had taken on a role of an elder brother/father figure for all of them. Going so far as to submit a special request, one he was about to grant.

The hokage took a puff of his pipe and eyed the team before him. “I’m assigning team 7 a C-rank escort mission.”

Three heads popped up from their books (this had also turned into a thing, three mini-Kakashi’s running around with their noses in books and kunai at the ready) and waited silently for him to continue. Iruka began to protest beside him, but they still remained silent, all eyes on him. To say he wasn’t impressed would be a lie.

He put up a hand for silence, and asked for Tazuna to be brought in. As soon as the man walked in, all three genin immediately regretted having honed their sense of smell as the man simply reeked of sake. Naruto and Kira made scrunchy faces and Sasuke scowled.

“They look like a bunch of wet nosed brats.” The man took another couple swigs from his bottle. “Especially…the short one. He’s got-”

“I’ll have you know I’ve grown TWO INCHES this past month, thank you very much!!” Naruto nasally interrupted with two fingers pinching his nose and pointing at the man with the hand holding his book.

“Tsk. And yet you still complain about eating your vegetables dobe.”

“At least he eats a variety of vegetables and doesn’t stockpile tomatoes like there’s about to be a shortage or something Ducky-chan~”

“It would be a good time for me to point out that tomatoes are actually a fruit and not a vegetable Sasu-chan.”

“No one asked you for your opinion Kakashi. And stop calling me that!”

“Baka-sensei is right you know. Perhaps we should invest in some more greens…”

“It’s a joke right? You kids aren’t really ninja, are you?”

“Hey guys, can we kill him and keep the money?”

“Hn.”

“No killing the client you’ve been assigned to protect Naru-chan.”

“Damn it sensei not you too! I’m a boy dattebayo!”

“But you’re both so kawaii!~”

“Not helping Kira-chan!”

The Hokage observed the interaction between Team 7 and Tazuna with a small smile before bursting out in laughter and dismissing them all in a cloud of tobacco smoke.

 

An hour later the group assembled at the Konoha gates. Naruto was bouncing up and down in pure excitement for his first trip outside of the village, which earned chuckles from Kakashi, a smirk from Sasuke and a cheek pinch from Kira.

“Am I really expected to place my life in the hands of this idiot?”

“Oi! Listen here fuc-”

“Mah!” Kakashi clapped one hand over Kira’s mouth and yanked her away from the suddenly fearful client. “There’s no need for concern. I’m an elite ninja and I’ll be here too.”

“Hey old man! You better show some respect! I’m going to be hokage one day so remember my name! It’s Uzumaki Naruto!”

“Respect you? I don’t think so. Not even if you become hokage.”

“Too bad for you then.” Sasuke spoke up from Tazuna’s side. He and Kakashi had taken buffer positions between their two irritated comrades. “Having that kind of attitude will ruin any chance of future relations with Konoha. You should consider being nicer to our future Orange Hokage.”

Tazuna didn’t reply, but Kakashi and Kira shared a look and Kakashi released his hold on her.

Naruto stopped dead in his tracks and looked over at Sasuke with wide eyes. “You…you mean that Teme?”

Sasuke sighed. He looked over at Naruto and smirked. “Hn.”

Naruto smiled widely and jumped onto Sasuke’s back, yelling and hugging him to death. Kira walked over and separated them, laughing and signaling them discretely with two fingers scratching her eyebrow.

The boys, understanding immediately, playfully shoved Kira away towards Tazuna, who stuck her tongue out at them and took her place by his side. Kakashi fell back, as always secretly observing while reading his literature. Sasuke threatened Naruto and shot an insult about his ramen breath before striding towards the front. Naruto then took his place on the other side of Tazuna and started asking questions about the Land of Waves, some of which Kakashi answered for him.

Naruto already knew all of this. In fact, he had set up a clone to read up specifically on foreign relations only. Of course there was another who was solely researching female figures and pornography for his new Sexy Jutsu as well, but who’s to say which one had the more important job really.

All four ninja were aware of the two foreign shinobi hiding in the puddle they were passing, yet none broke character. Naruto kept his mask of naivety, Sasuke his brooding scowl, Kira her ambivalence, and Kakashi his normal porn-absorbed absence from reality.

So no one was surprised when they appeared from “no-where” and apparently killed Kakashi with a weaponized chain. Well, no one except Tazuna, who was quickly snatched by Kira and carried like a bag of rice several feet away before he could fully process the situation.

Sasuke jumped and threw a kunai pinning the ninja’s chain against a nearby tree, effectively rendering them temporarily immobile and landing on their heads. He flipped over backwards and hit their pressure points, knocking them both unconscious. Naruto dashed forward making a hand sign to summon several clones who took to disarming and booby-trapping their opponents. The look of fear never left Tazuna’s eyes but he couldn’t look away.

“Wha-what is he doing to them?”

“It’s payback.”

“Payback?”

“Hn.”

“Good job minions!” Kakashi poofed and waved cheerily. “You’ve made me so proud!” He choked and pretended to wipe a tear away from his visible eye, earning a scoff from the Uchiha and eye roll from the girl. Naruto came bouncing over with a smile that told them all they needed to know.

Tazuna looked at Kakashi and gaped. “He-you-dead-wha-?”

“Now Mister Tazuna,” Kakashi said in a deadly serious tone, causing the other man to gulp audibly. “I need to speak with you.”

It didn’t take long for Tazuna to confess that he had paid for a lower rank mission because his village was under duress and he couldn’t afford the higher rank. Kakashi thoroughly shamed Tazuna for putting his kawaii monsters in unnecessary peril. There were significant dangers on this mission that necessitated shinobi of a higher caliber. Tazuna hit back with a sob story about a daughter and grandson who would miss him dearly. It was a stalemate. Kakashi sighed and addressed his team.

“Apparently, the Land of Waves is being held hostage by a malicious rich man named Gato. The bridge is necessary for the villages financial independence. We are likely to face stronger enemies, out of genin league, and should probably head back before we get into trouble.” Kakashi drawled.

Naruto bristled. “Fuck that Kakashi-sensei! Since when do we care about getting in trouble anyway?!”

“Language Naru-chan.”

“Hn. Hypocrite.”

“Hush now Ducky-chan, humans are talking.”

“There’s no way we’re going back! We’ve trained too hard! We can handle this mission, right guys!”

“Didn’t you want to kill this asshole earlier?”

“Language Kira-kun.”

“Why is she ‘kun’ and the dobe and I are ‘chan’?”

“I think Baka-sensei is just confused. The porn must be getting to him.”

“We can have an intervention when we get back! Can we focus on the mission guys?” Naruto waved his hands in the air for emphasis.

Kakashi unconsciously clutched his book to his chest, mumbling ‘not again’ under his breath.

“C’mon! I know the old drunk is like, a terrible excuse for a human being-”

“Hey! I resent that statement!”

“More like you resemble it.”

“So sassy Ducky-chan!”

Tazuna pouted and Naruto continued. “But we made a promise to fulfill this mission no matter what! And I don’t know about you guys but I keep my promises!” He issued the others a challenging look.

Kira smiled widely. “Yosh! But I reserve the right to kill him after if-”

“No Kira-kun.”

“But what if-?”

“No.” All three males on Team 7 said in unison.

Tazuna sweat-dropped.

“Hn. I’m in too. No way I’m letting you two have all the fun.”

“Ya-ta!!” Naruto pumped his fist in the air and slung an arm around each of his two teammates. “You guys are the best dattebayo!”

“I guess that means we’re committed.” Kakashi sighed. “Well then, let’s get on with it then. Daylight’s wasting.”

Tazuna let out a large breath he had been holding and took chug of his bottle as he followed the three strange ninja children down the road, getting lost in his own thoughts.

 

As the small boat carried Team 7 and their client to shore, everyone was silent. Kira tapped her fingers almost absently, but the slightly stiffened posture of the other three signaled that they had understood. There was an enemy nearby.

“This is as far as I go” said the ferry-man. “Take care of yourself.”

“Thanks...” Tazuna offered the man a smile. “...for taking such a risk. I shouldn’t have asked it.”

“And yet he seems to have no problem risking our lives.” Kakashi pointed out.

“Pshh! I know right?”

“Worst. Client. Ever.”

“Hn. You can say that again.”

“I can hear you guys you know!”

“GOOD.”

Suddenly, Naruto sensed a small chakra signature from their 10 o'clock position and threw a shuriken. “OVER THERE!” he shouted, and everyone turned in defensive positions to find-

“A rabbit?”

“Seriously kid?”

“Oh no! I’m so sorry bunny! Please snap out of it!”

“Usuratonkachi. Stop man-handling it like that.”

“Baka-sensei…”

“EVERYONE TAKE COVER!!”

A loud whooshing noise accompanied a ridiculously large blade that sliced clean through several trees and foliage. Kakashi grabbed Naruto and pulled him down along with the rabbit. Sasuke grabbed Kira and she grabbed Tazuna and the three of them ate dirt. A large, intimidating man landed on the hilt and looked down at his prey menacingly.

The company of five stood up and took stock of their opponent. Kakashi signaled discretely for the genin to step back into defensive positions while maintaining his relaxed posture.

“Well, well. If it isn’t Momochi Zabuza.” He said, one eye narrowed. He brought a hand up and uncovered his sharingan. “This may be a little rough.”

“Kakashi of the Sharingan.” Zabuza said. “This is an honor. Could you consider surrendering the old man?”

Kakashi took a fighting stance. “Shall we?” he asked.

Zabuza grunted. “It looks like I’m going to have to kill you first.”

The giant blade was dislodged from the tree as Zabuza quickly disappeared. Naruto handed Tazuna the rabbit and the genin readied themselves for Zabuza’s attack.

Their enemy reappeared standing on the lake nearby. “The finest of the ninja arts…the Kirigakure Jutsu!” A thick mist surrounded them, blinding everything from sight.

“He’ll come after me first.” Kakashi stated. “Remember your training with Kira-kun. Eyes closed, stay focused. Even if he gets to me I’ll still protect you. I will never let my comrades die.”

A disembodied voice came from all around them, “Throat, spinal column, lungs, liver, the jugular vein-”

“There!”

Kira grabbed Tazuna and jumped away as Zabuza landed in the space between the genin and their client. At the same time, Sasuke and Naruto turned around to face him.

“Wind Style! Gale palm!”

“Fire Style! Dragon Flame Justu!”

The water clone evaporated in a sizzling mist. Another Zabuza appeared behind Kakashi, slicing his back in two. Kakashi himself evaporated, stunning Zabuza momentarily and giving Kakashi enough time to materialize behind him holding a kunai to his neck.

“Game over.”

“You think it’s over?”

Kakashi, feeling the effects of the sharingan from copying Zabuza’s technique, wasted no time. He took a swipe at Zabuza, who dissolved and another sliced at him from behind. Kakashi ducked and maneuvered himself out of the large sword’s range. The two took to offensive tactics, neither one landing a clean hit.

When Kakashi fell into the water, Zabuza made his move. “Art of the Water Prison!” Kakashi was now trapped in a sphere of water. Zabuza then made another water clone, who proceeded to taunt the genin before him.

Kira cursed. “Let’s go to Plan B!”

From his sphere, Kakashi began to chuckle. Zabuza looked over at him irritated. “And just what is so funny Hatake?”

“You’re about to find out!”

Naruto had made a dozen clones, all of whom charged at Zabuza’s clone with dramatic war cries. Sasuke launched a barrage of shuriken and kunai at the real Zabuza. While neither was defeated, the real Zabuza remained unimpressed. “Shuriken won’t work on me. Is that really-”

“Lightning style! Spider Web!”

Zabuza was hit with the full force of the electrocution, his skin burned in several places. His clone instantly vanished and the real him collapsed, releasing the water prison jutsu. Kakashi stood and faced Zabuza, soaked and deadly. “Your move.”

What followed was clearly Zabuza’s idea of a trump card. A series of hand signs that Kakashi quickly copied and caught up with, until the two shouted simultaneously “Water Style! Water Dragon Missile!”

Two massive dragons faced one another in a show of incredible power. From their position in the trees, Naruto, Sasuke and Tazuna were still unable to escape the flood that washed over them. Kira, although soaked, maintained her position in between the two jonin and the others, keeping tabs on the other ninja nearby. A quick glance at her two teammates let her know they were also aware of his presence.

Zabuza began another series of hand signs, which Kakashi followed at an increased speed. For a moment, Zabuza swore he could see himself standing behind Kakashi, before the man overtook him and beat him to the punch. “Water Style! Giant Waterfall!”

An enormous wave destroyed everything in its path. The chakra he used combined with the electric shock had taken more out of Zabuza than he intended. With a grunt, he smashed into a nearby tree. “What…can you see the future?” he asked Kakashi, exhausted beyond comprehension.

“I foresee…your death.”

From the hidden ninja, several senbon were launched and embedded in Zabuza’s throat. He collapsed on the ground lifeless.

“Hehe, looks like your prediction came true!” came a soft voice.

Kakashi went over to check the body, confirming his status as deceased. Meanwhile, Sasuke, Naruto, Tazuna and Kira approached. Naruto and Tazuna were uneasy with seeing the dead body, while Sasuke and Kira remained impassive and vigilant.

The masked ninja who had killed Zabuza thanked them for their help. Naruto asked if he was a Hunter Ninja, which surprised Kakashi momentarily before he remembered the boy was now taking his education seriously and had for the last few weeks maintained several clones on duty at the shinobi library.

The strange boy then landed next to the body and excused himself to take care of business. Naruto narrowed his eyes in suspicion and was about to say something when Kakashi announced they should be on their way. Tazuna laughed and insulted his saviors, again, before Kakashi face-planted into the dirt and scared the bridge builder half to death.

“Baka-sensei.”

“You said it sister.”

“Is…is he going to be alright?”

“Unfortunately.”

“Teme!”

“Dobe.”

“You’re all morons. Pick him up and let’s go.”

“Ugh. Konoha ninja…what was I thinking?”

Chapter Text

Chakra exhaustion.

During Sasuke’s one-on-one training with Kakashi, the jonin had explained his abilities and limitations with the sharingan, so the cost of his overuse was not as much of a surprise as it was an inconvenience. Kakashi had announced he would be out of commission for a week, and Kira had called bullshit and used a strange jutsu to transfer some of her chakra into him. Sasuke hadn’t like seeing Kakashi surrounded by the warm white light she emitted, but if it got the man on his feet sooner he’d keep quiet. By the time she was done, Kakashi was as good as new and Kira announced she was going to take another one of her naps.

That was sixteen hours ago.

During that time, Naruto voiced his suspicions about the supposed hunter nin. Apparently he had read that they traditionally disposed of the bodies on the spot. Having done his own research on weaponry, Sasuke pointed out the use of senbon and the vital areas that could be used to cause or mimic instant death. Kakashi had agreed, stating that in all likelihood the two ninja were working together. Which meant that they’d have to prepare to face them again or possibly other stronger ninja sometime in the near future.

Then Inari, Tazuna’s grandson, announced they were all going to die and should go home now, heroes didn’t exist anymore. The gloomy kid showed up and rained on the ninja’s parade, much to his mother Tsunami’s concern. Naruto, in another rare show of patience, told the kid that heroes still existed and to never give up hope, promising that they’d take down the “cake” man. The kid, of course, didn’t believe a word and ran away crying.

Sasuke was starting to feel like Shikamaru with all the times “troublesome” was voiced in his head on this mission. He told Naruto to leave it alone and that the kid was just one more person to prove wrong. Naruto, true to form, accepted the challenge.

Now it was dawn. Sasuke had set up his mat on Kira’s right side and Naruto was over on the left, sprawled out like a starfish and snoring away loudly. Unlike the blonde, the raven haired boy hadn’t slept very well, waking up often to their female teammates whimpering in her sleep. At first he tried to wake her by shaking her shoulder softly, but it didn’t work for long, likely due to her temporary chakra exhaustion. However, he noticed the physical contact seemed to dissipate whatever bad dreams she was having, so he decided to reach out and hold her hand that was resting near her pillow.

It worked, but now he was stuck, red faced and unable to cease the erratic beating of his heart or fall asleep. She had, at some point after he had fallen asleep after the initial hand-holding, pulled his hand towards her and turned over, cradling his hand to her chest. Or more specifically, between her chest.

Sasuke had woken up when he was pulled over closer, and made a choking sound in his throat when he distinctly felt his hand being enveloped by two very soft mounds, fingers laced with hers. His brain short circuited, and the embarrassment that grew between his legs was of no help.

He angled his lower body away from her as much as possible. All he needed was either the dobe or her to wake up and think that he was molesting her or something. Or even worse Kakashi or Tsunami coming in their room to wake them up and they’d end up killing him. His only choice was to try and free his hand without waking her up. Only it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.

It was like a Chinese finger trap. Every time he tried to pry himself loose, she’d unconsciously tighten her grip. If it wasn’t for the possibility of death and being branded a pervert he’d have been more than glad to let his hand remain where it was. But he was an Uchiha, with a reputation to uphold, or restore, or something, and he couldn’t just lay there. So he tried to tug again just a tiny bit harder.

And this time it worked. Too well. She rolled over and pressed her face into the other side of the pillow that Sasuke had been forced to share with her due to their awkward spoon positioning. Sasuke didn’t have time to move away or think or anything so…

Her lips were soft. And Sasuke was momentarily frozen in time. A quiet “mmm” came from her throat as she sleepily opened her eyes and closed them again before immediately reopening and staring wide eyed at the large onyx orbs in front of her.

Sasuke jerked back finally freeing his hand and tumbling back over on his mat. Kira sat up, creases from the pillow lining one side of her face that was completely pink as his own. For an eternity, neither of them spoke. She looked down at her hand, the one he’d been holding, and flexed it experimentally. Her brows furrowed and Sasuke couldn’t find his voice to save his life. Literally.

Finally, she laughed. It was soft and airy and her smile was genuine. Sasuke’s heart thundered and he honestly didn’t know whether to be relieved or to run. She was kinda crazy so the chances were about even. She turned over to look at Naruto and smacked his bare stomach hard. He shot up with a shout and glared murderously at both of them. Sasuke managed to raise a brow in a silent ‘I didn’t do shit’ gesture that the blonde understood, turning his fury to their bi-colored hair companion.

“What the fuck Kira-chan!”

“What the fuck what? It’s time to wake up Naru-chan! We’ve got work to do!”

“Do you even know what time it is?!”

“Um…daytime…obviously.” She rolled her eyes and giggled. “C’mon! That bridge isn’t going to build itself!”

“About that…” Kakashi interrupted from the doorway. Sasuke tried to hide his mortification under his ‘Uchiha mask’ at the way Kakashi’s lone eye lingered on him knowingly. “It appears as though that hunter nin and Zabuza were working together.”

Kira cocked her head to the side, her bed-head hair tumbling about. “The senbon, right?” Their sensei nodded and took a seat right next to Sasuke, causing the raven to inch away discretely. Naruto moved to sit next to Kira and leaned his head on her shoulder, yawning loudly. She put an arm around his head and moved her fingers though his hair absently. “Shizune uses them too. I thought something was off but I figured I was just being too paranoid.”

“We’re ninja. There’s no such thing as being too paranoid.” Kakashi replied. “Well…maybe in rare occasions. But someone will probably say something if it gets that far.”

“Like sensei with the porn.” Naruto mumbled. Kakashi pointedly ignored him. “Which one’s Shizune again? Your cousin or her niece?”

“Her niece. She’s around Baka-sensei’s age I think.” Naruto hummed. “So what’s the plan then, oh fearless leader?”

The man eye-smiled. “Training of course! You three will need to come up with some more formations now that Plans A and B have been utilized, the enemy will know what to expect.”

Naruto sat up straight and smiled blindingly. “So does that mean you’ll teach us some new jutsu then Kakashi-sensei?!” he asked eagerly.

Kakashi chuckled and hummed. “Mmm…maybe. That depends on whether or not you three think you can each learn an A-rank jutsu in a week.”

The three genin exchanged looks. Sasuke smirked, Kira smiled sweetly, and Naruto grinned.

Of course they could.

 

Since the inception of their training regiment, Kakashi had taken special care to ensure that each of his students got one-on-one training with him. His usual laissez faire attitude was temporarily shelved during the few hours in which he groomed his charges for ninja-life.

So for the past few weeks before they embarked on this terrible joke of a C-rank mission, Kakashi had been secretly working them up to where he needed them to be, focusing on chakra control and shadow clone usage, which Naruto had learned from stealing the sacred scroll (Kira thought that was hilarious, Sasuke was begrudgingly impressed, and Kakashi prayed to Kami for his own soul), and Kira had learned from her teacher’s, leaving Sasuke to catch up. The Uchiha succeeded a week prior, which is why he had no doubt they’d all learn their new jutsus in time, therefore boosting their confidence and strengthening their ability to survive against Momochi and future enemies.

Because if Kakashi lost one more precious person, he’d fall straight into madness.

He observed his minions entranced in their lessons, Kakashi felt the swelling of pride in his chest. They were beat to hell, tired beyond words, stubborn as mules, and still remained optimistic. And best of all, their desire to protect one another was the driving force for their determination.

 

He had been worried at first. The blonde craved attention, and saw strength as the way to earn acknowledgment from the village. The raven desired vengeance, and sought only power and death. The girl, admittedly, still worried him. He wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by freedom, but the look in her eyes reminded him of someone else, and if that was what she meant by freedom then…no. He would not allow any of them to lose themselves to darkness.

Fortunately, things were turning out in his favor. Upon learning about Naruto’s status as a jinchuuriki in the bell test, the main thing he and the hokage had been concerned about after the Haruno incident, the others did not waiver in their commitment. Instead, it reinforced it. He saw in Sasuke’s eyes final understanding, their shared loneliness and isolation from the village bonding them. In Kira, he saw acknowledgment, free from judgement. She easily accepted the two rivals as worthy companions and kept them focused on their goals.

Naruto had researched his last name that same week, wanting to know if he had any kekkei-genkai like Sasuke. Finding out he was from a renown clan that was famous for its fuinjutsu, massive chakra and longevity was to Naruto the coolest thing ever. Then he learned that their clan and village was wiped out, and it devastated him. It broke Kakashi’s heart to see the boy so lost, but it was his team who brought him back.

Sasuke took them to his old house, and shared what happened to his family. The senseless massacre and a clan lost to a man Sasuke called ‘brother’. Naruto wept, and promised Sasuke he would help him get justice for his clan. Kira held onto both of their hands, a strange look on her face, and remained silent.

Kakashi could tell Sasuke was trying to see if she remembered anything, but it still didn’t seem to work. He felt bad for the boy, who so obviously wanted her to recall their childhood, but the hokage had told him and Sasuke when the boy demanded to know what exactly happened to her that whatever jutsu was cast on her would not be so easily broken. Still, it didn’t stop the kid from trying.

The next day Kira showed up with a dusty scroll she “liberated” from somewhere that showed that the Senju and Uzumaki clans were distant relatives, and that the first hokage, her great-uncle, had married an Uzumaki, therefore making them practically cousins. Naruto cried again and declared Kira his little sister instead, which she thoroughly objected, but Sasuke supported, probably for his own personal motives.

Finally, Kakashi made the one move that cemented the bond of their team. Two days after Naruto had found out about the Uzumaki clan, Kakashi paid a visit to the hokage and returned with a photo from the archives.

A blonde, busty young woman in a jonin vest stood with three girls in battle kimonos in front of her, a proud smirk on her face. On the right, a blue-black haired girl with black eyes and a sweet smile. In the middle, a red-headed purple eyed girl with a wide grin. And on the left, a white haired red eyed girl with a smirk. The girl in the middle had her arms folded across her chest in triumph, the ravenette flashing the peace sign and the white haired girl flipping the camera off.

Sasuke recognized his mother immediately. Kira recognized Tsunade and (surprisingly) her mother too, whom she seemed to have mixed reactions to. Kakashi announced who each of the women in the picture were, and when he revealed Naruto’s mother as the red head in the middle, the boy bawled for the third time in as many days, a mixture of happiness and sorrow.

After that, Team 7 was unwavering in their commitment to one another. While he had initially been shocked at how easily they seemed to all work together despite their differences in personalities and fighting styles, he was also impressed. He had planned on using the information about their legacy status as a last resort if they drifted apart, but it worked much better as cement.

Now Naruto had about nine clones working in pairs with him on his jutsu, and Sasuke had five working on his. The Uchiha still hated the fact that the blond had more chakra than him, but not-so-secretly took solace in the fact that his control was better since Naruto still struggled with separating his own from the kyuubi’s, and was therefore a bit behind him in progress. Kakashi and his shadow clone remained to supposedly supervise and to make sure Naruto didn’t lose control. Kira had been pissed her jutsu wasn’t was badass as the boys, and but worked just as hard to perfect it.

After learning her jutsu in half a day thanks to her five clones and the insulting simplicity of it, Kira was sent later to watch over the bridge builder, while Kakashi and the others went back out to train.

 

Akirama walked around the village, mostly to get away from Tazuna who she still kinda wanted to punch. The guy was just a jerk and his grandson was a brat, but thankfully she had gotten enough sleep so she was able to maintain her temper.

Oh, that’s right. She actually slept last night.

She touched her lips absently and blushed. What the hell was wrong with her anyway? She never kissed anyone before, even accidentally, so maybe this was just a hormone thing? She should have paid more attention to The Ancient One’s health and medical nin lessons, but it had all been so boring. She was a fighter, not a healer. It had been one of the reasons they clashed so often, and why Shizune ended up doing most of her re-training.

Now with Sasuke, she was worried things would get weird. It didn’t take her long to figure out what had happened. While she wasn’t expecting them to share a room with her, she had forgotten about the trouble her nightmares caused others, and figured that he had tried to comfort her in some way. At home, she usually held onto another pillow while she slept, and probably mistook his hand as that in her sleep. As for the kiss, it was clearly an accident. She could feel her hand was cramped from holding his, which meant he was likely forced into her personal space. Now she just didn’t know how to address it.

And it all came back to that night he had asked her if she remembered him. The look on his face when she had told him no was enough to make her explain her situation in bare bones.

 

“I’m sorry, but I actually don’t remember anything from before a year ago.”

Sasuke looked up at her with barely concealed confusion. “How? What happened?”

She rubbed her face tiredly and sighed. “Honestly, I can’t be sure other than there was some kind of jutsu involved. My first memory is kind of like a horror movie. It comes back to me in bits and pieces sometimes, but for the most part all I can remember is blood and screams. A few days after that, it’s just travelling with my cousin, the pig and her niece. They trained me sometimes, but mostly I was on my own. I think I preferred it that way since they were all basically strangers to me. They told me when I announced I wanted to come here to become a ninja that I had been born here, but not many people knew me since my mom was apparently a bit anti-social as well. I didn’t expect you to be one of the people who knew me though. I’m really sorry.”

Sasuke remained silent as he contemplated her words. “So…you can’t remember anything from the first eleven years of your life?”

Kira shook her head. “Nothing about myself or anyone else. I remembered how to speak, read, write, and when I was re-trained in things like kata’s and ninjutsu it came back almost like muscle memory. But I didn’t even know my name when I woke up. If it wasn’t for a few pictures we carried around with us and the fact that my body seemed to recognize their chakra, I wouldn’t even have known for sure they all were who they said they were.” She laughed bitterly.

His fists gripped his shorts tightly and he looked angry. She reached over and put her hand on one of his. He looked up at her startled and she offered him a small smile. “Will you tell me about it? Our past?”

 

A hand grabbing her ass knocked her out of her reverie quicker than a flash and she turned around and gripped the bastards hand and flipped him on his back. She held a kunai to his private area and glared. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing you old pervert!?”

The man’s whole body shook and he looked as if his soul was leaving his body. When he failed to speak Kira punched his face, knocking him out and dragged him over to a nearby bench. Angry, she stalked away when she soon felt another presence by her back side. She spun around only to find a child begging for food. Instantly, her fury dissipated and she reached into her back to pull out her bento. The child took it and happily ran away, leaving Kira to observe how bad the conditions were in this village.

Cursing, she summoned four more shadow clones (she had left one to watch over the old asshole earlier), and sent them out into the village to look for some D-rank volunteer work. Gato definitely needed to go, but it was clear that the village had more than the tyrant problem that needed attention.

 

Later that night at the dinner table, things were a bit tense. The boys were having some sort of ‘friendly’ competition again, and she was pissed at Kakashi for teaching her such a lame jutsu. Even if it was technically A-rank, she felt a bit left out and jealous of her teammates. She avoided Tsunami for personal reasons, Tazuna was drinking again and Inari was still being a little butthead.

“So…uh…Kira-chan, how was your day?” Naruto asked hesitantly.

She was busy glaring daggers at their sensei, who was pretending he didn’t notice. “Not as interesting as yours, I’m sure.”

Naruto winced. “Oh c’mon, you got to see the village right? Anything interesting happen?”

She turned to look at her friend and sighed. He was trying to ease the tension in the room, and it wasn’t his fault their sensei was being a sexist jerk. “Some old fuck face grabbed my ass on the street. Some kids were begging for food. And the villagers are on the verge of total poverty. My clones and I helped out who we could, but I’ll need to get back to it tomorrow.” She said emotionlessly.

Naruto had dropped his chopsticks and Sasuke looked like he was going to murder someone. Kakashi had looked up from his book and narrowed his eye at her. “Kira-kun,” Kira looked over at him with a blank face.

“Did you kill him?”

She could feel everyone’s eyes on her. Really? She wasn’t a homicidal maniac. Is that really what he thought of her? Is that how they all saw her? Sure, she had a temper when she didn’t get enough sleep, but the only time she threatened anyone seriously was if they hurt her teammates, like that shop owner in Konoha who had called Naru-chan a monster under his breath when they went clothes shopping. The look on Naru’s face was enough to make her come back later and have a ‘gentle’ conversation with the man. In general, she usually didn’t care what happened to her, as long as her guys were ok.

Still, the insinuation was enough to hurt. ”No.” The look of relief flashed across several faces. She got up and grabbed her bowl and handed it to her blonde teammate. “I’m not that hungry, you can finish this for me. I’m going to check the perimeter.”

Not leaving room for comment she shunshined away. Hiding her chakra and her scent, she made her way to a deserted beach area and decided to go for a swim. The water always calmed her anyway.

 

Back at the house, another awkward silence reigned. Sasuke made a move to follow but Kakashi held out a hand to stop him. Naruto coughed and looked around trying to find something to distract everyone when his eyes landed on a photo.

“Oh hey Tsunami-chan! Is that your family photo? Why is it torn? It looks like someone’s face is missing.”

“…”

“That’s Inari’s father.” She replied.

Another awkward silence and increased tension. Naruto’s eyes flickered to the boy who looked ready to cry.

“Once upon a time…” Tazuna began. “…our entire village called him a hero.”

The small boy slammed his fists on the table and ran upstairs. Tsunami turned to her father and shouted angrily before following him. Tazuna sighed and shared the story about a man who was honest and brave and had earned a place in his daughter’s and grandson’s hearts as well as his own. The entire village hailed him as a hero, as he was the only one brave enough to stand up against Gato, and he was mercilessly killed for it. It broke Inari’s heart and the boy hadn’t been the same since.

Kakashi and Sasuke were stunned. But as usual it was Naruto who spoke up. “I’m going to do some more training. I’m going to prove to Inari that heroes still exist!” He got up and marched out of the house, heading towards the training grounds.

Kakashi sighed. All three students were out of sorts. Normally, he’d leave them to work it out on their own. They were ninjas, not regular children after all. But…they were still children, they were his responsibility, and they were all one another had, himself included.

He looked up to the ceiling. What would Minato-sensei do? He asked himself. He was at a loss. He turned to the last Uchiha glowering at the bowl in front of him. “Sasu-chan, let’s go for a walk.”

The raven stood and reached for his bowl. “Don’t worry about that kid, I’ll take care of it.” Tazuna may have been drunk but he wasn’t blind. The boy grunted and Kakashi nodded his thanks before the two left outside.

 

Sasuke followed his sensei around for a few minutes. He reached his senses out to try and locate his missing teammates. Naruto was somewhere near the training grounds, working with a single clone. When he couldn’t locate Kira he began to worry.

“She’s fine, Sasu-chan.” Kakashi’s voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked over with a scowl and shoved his hands in his pockets.

The two walked in silence for a few more minutes before they came to a cluster of rocks. Kakashi took a seat on one and leaned his back against another boulder. Sasuke sighed and went to sit nearby before Kakashi patted the spot next to him. Wary, the boy paused for a moment before acquiescing.

Looking over at his stoic student, Kakashi was reminded even more of his former self. He took a deep breath, and began speaking. “You know…I was in love once.”

The boy snapped his head to attention and stilled, brows raised in question. Kakashi smiled sadly and nodded. “Unfortunately, I never got the chance to tell that person how I felt before they died. I was too consumed by my own selfishness to see past my own desire, that I didn’t even realize how I felt about them until it was too late.”

He was expecting the boy to remain silent as usual. So when he heard the boy clear his throat to ask a question, Kakashi was pleasantly surprised, if not pleased. “Will you tell me about it?” he asked.

Kakashi smiled and settled in. “Of course.”

 

Kira retuned to a quiet house. She was tired from swimming, her skin tight from the seawater and there was sand in her hair. She checked her senses to find that Naruto was off at the training grounds and the other two were a bit further but together. Seriously, they all just left? She scoffed and went to take a quick shower. She was on her way back to her room when she noticed the light on in Tsunami’s room. Pausing, she knocked and shortly the woman slid the door open. Her eyes were a bit puffy as if she was crying.

“Ano…Tsunami-san, can I speak with you about something?”

She nodded and slid the door open a little wider. Kira followed her in and the two sat down. Red eyes landed on a photo of a man with a black ribbon across.

“Your husband?” she asked.

Tsunami nodded and sniffled. Kira hated seeing people cry. It stirred something in her she couldn’t identify. She reached a hand out and held Tsunami’s in her own. The woman squeezed and began sobbing, latching herself onto Kira.

Akirama was not comfortable. Ever since the incident she refused to speak about, the one that changed her life forever in too many ways to be acceptable, she hated women touching her in anyway. The boys on her team were different, she knew they wouldn’t hurt her and she felt safe with them. Baka-sensei was a bit off but she was ok with the occasional closeness there too. But women, especially mother figures, were out of the question.

She knew it was a weakness, and was consciously trying to move past it. It was one of the reasons she had approached the woman of the house in the first place for an attempt at conversation. But now, she was forced into the one position she couldn’t stand. The one where she felt the most vulnerable.

Now, with the strange lady sobbing and holding onto her, Kira was internally panicking. She fought the urge to let out a burst of Ki and run for her life. Hesitantly, she put her arms around Tsunami and patted her gently in a ‘there-there’ manner, hoping that would be enough. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a few hours later, with choked sobs and broken sentences about the man she had lost randomly strewn together, that she finally passed out. Kira stood, legs stiff from her kneeling position and tucked the woman in before fleeing the room silently.

She had felt Baka-sensei and Ducky-chan return an hour or so ago, but Naruto was still out training. While she would have joined him to keep him company, she was exhausted and in need of rest. She made her way to her room when she noticed that he was in there, on the mat next to hers.

The steadiness of his breathing and chakra let her know he was asleep, but Kira was filled with a certain amount of anxiety. Last night was a regular nightmare, but tonight was bound to be worse. She couldn’t put that on him. Not to mention the whole kiss situation…She quickly grabbed her mat and pillow and fled to her sensei’s room. Going back to Tsunami’s room was out of the question, and was still mad at Baka-sensei, but at least she felt safe with the man.

 

She set her mat up next to him and shook his shoulder. He was awake already, of course, but was waiting to see what she would do. He opened his eye and looked at her, expecting normal teenage girl anxiety after an awkward kissing situation that Sasu-chan had confessed to him earlier about. What he got instead was a look of fear and sadness and aging beyond her years. Concerned, he sat up immediately and reached a hand out.

“Kira-kun, what-”

“Kakashi-nii, can I stay here with you tonight? Please?” her voice was so soft and a bit broken and he didn’t immediately register that she had addressed him by his name, let alone as elder brother. He nodded and brought her in for a hug. She buried her face in his chest and began to cry silently. He laid there awake for a long time after she fell asleep, shirt damp and head full of questions and worry.

 

They awoke just before dawn the next morning, Kira still wrapped in her sensei’s arms. She remembered calling him elder brother and blushed before burying her face deeper into his arms. Yes, he pissed her off sometimes. And yes, he was her teacher. But she also felt safe with him, and found herself looking up to him not only as a teacher but as a family member. A big brother.

It was a strange feeling. She hadn’t felt that closeness with either of the woman who were her actual family either. So she didn’t regret her feelings towards Kakashi, but she was still kind of embarrassed for displaying such vulnerability. It was very un-ninja-like and didn’t help her issue with him taking her as seriously as her male teammates.

She peeked up to look at him and saw he was looking back with a small smile. “So…you sleep with the mask on too? Afraid Lord Morpheus the Sandman will see your face?” She asked jokingly.

Kakashi chuckled. “How did you know?”

Kira shook her head and sat up, rubbing her dry eyes. She turned to look out of the window at the looming sunrise.

The gray haired man studied her for a moment. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked.

She sighed, feeling the weight on her shoulders bearing down. “No, but I think I should before it consumes me whole.” She said so quietly he almost didn’t hear it. She turned her head to look at him. “Did I…um…make any noises in my sleep?”

He knew she was referring to the whimpering Sasuke had mentioned the night before. He shook his head. “No, you didn’t make a sound…other than your snoring of course.” He laughed.

Kira’s eyes widened at that. “I do not snore!” she whisper-yelled, crossing her arms in indignation.

He laughed and scratched his head. “Hate to break it you Kira-kun, but you snore like a jack-hammer.”

A pillow slammed into his face and feathers burst everywhere.

 

Naruto awoke to the pleasant sound of birds chirping, the smells of ocean breeze, trees and flowers, the feeling of a hand on his shoulder and the timbre of a smooth soft voice.

“You’ll catch your death, sleeping on the ground.”

He opened his eyes to see the most beautiful girl he’d ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.

“Who are you?” he asked, sitting up.

The girl giggled and introduced herself as Haku. She was there to pick some medicinal herbs, and being a gentleman and a friend to all, Naruto volunteered to help.

After a while, they engaged in some friendly conversation. Haku recognized him as a ninja by his headband, which made him beam in happiness.

“What are you training for?” Haku asked.

“Well, originally I was training to get stronger to prove to everyone in my village that I’m not worthless, and to become Hokage one day.” He began.

Haku looked on intrigued.

“But now…now I’m training to protect the people who care about me. I won’t let anything bad happen to my comrades.” He said, quoting Kakashi-sensei’s earlier words. Their team was around each other so much they tended to use each other’s words and phrases often, sort of like inside jokes.

The girl smiled. “Do you have anyone special in your life?”.

Naruto nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah yeah! I have a few precious people in my life. My teammates are like my family. All of us are orphans, but we’re all really close and care about one another. Kakashi-sensei is like my big brother, Sasuke-Teme is like a brother too, and Kira-chan is like my little sister.

Haku nodded and smiled just a bit brighter. “When people are protecting something truly precious to them…they truly can become as strong as they must be.”

Naruto laughed and smiled widely, offering a thumbs up. “Yup! I know all about it!” he said. Then paused a moment. He suddenly recognized Haku’s chakra, he was the boy pretending to be a hunter nin! The one who was working with Zabuza! But wait…the way he was talking about protecting someone precious…could that mean-?

Haku got up to leave but Naruto quickly followed. “Wait!” he said. “You…you’re the boy from before right?” he asked hesitantly.

Haku stiffened but Naruto waved his hands. “It’s ok I just want to talk to you! Please?”

Naruto could see the other boy considering his words before nodding.

“Look, I’m…I’m pretty sure your precious person is Zabuza, right? And I may not look it, but I’m actually smarter than people think I am. I read up on this Gato guy earlier, and from what I’ve gathered it’s a pretty safe assumption that he isn’t going to pay you whatever he offered to kill the bridge builder and will probably have you killed after you finish the job. He’s just using you guys so he can keep oppressing these people and ruin their lives! There are kids here who are starving! The bridge is key to their survival! Gato is a really bad guy, and you aren’t like him! I can tell! If you were a bad guy then you wouldn’t care about your teammate, the same way I care about mine!”

 

Haku stilled and listened wide-eyed to the blondes breathless ranting. He could tell the boy was being honest and was likely correct. Gato had tried to kill Zabuza earlier when he thought he had failed without a second thought. But he couldn’t go against Zabuza’s wishes.

“You may be correct, Naruto. But I will not go against Zabuza-sama. This mission is his choice.”

Naruto frowned. “Will you at least talk to him about it? I mean, if Gato isn’t going to pay you what’s the point? What do you guys even get out of this? You’re only hurting innocent people!”

The beautiful boy shook his head. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me!” Naruto crossed his arms and gave his best ‘serious’ face.

Haku hesitated. Would Zabuza-sama be angry with him for this? Would the boy try to stop them? Was it coincidence that he met this boy today? Why not one of the other two? Was this fate? It didn’t matter. In the end, he would do whatever Zabuza wanted, even if it meant killing this ball of sunshine in front of him. Still…something in his heart told him this was ok.

Haku sighed and knelt down, placing the basket of herbs to the left of him and his hands in his lap. Naruto blinked a moment and then followed, sitting down across from the other boy, a light blush on his cheeks.

“My name is Yuki Haku.”

Chapter Text

Sasuke awoke to a cold empty room. Naruto hadn’t come back last night apparently, and Kira’s mat and pillow were missing. He frowned, the feeling of loneliness and rejection creeping up on him. Loneliness was nothing new, it was something he had become familiar with since he was 8 years old and everything was taken from him. But ever since that first trip to Ichiraku’s with the dobe and Kira, that feeling had become a stranger to him.

Rejection, however, was completely new.

Combined with the now unfamiliar solitude…it was almost overwhelming.

He could feel Kakashi and Kira downstairs with Tazuna and his family. His frown deepened. They hadn’t even bothered to wake him up.

A few minutes later he came downstairs and locked eyes with Kakashi, who smiled and waved cheerily. “Ohayou Sasu-chan! You’re just in time for breakfast!”

Sasuke scowled at his sensei and grunted. His eyes wandered over to Kira who was in the kitchen helping Tsunami with the omelets. She didn’t turn around. “Where’s Naruto?” he asked.

“Hmm…I assume he’s still out training, or passed out somewhere in the general area.” Kakashi mused, head back in his book.

“Hn. I’m going to go get him.” Sasuke turned towards the door. “The dobe will be useless today if he doesn’t eat.”

Kakashi hummed. “Hurry back! Don’t want the food to get cold!”

 

Sasuke took his time walking around getting lost in his thoughts. When he finally came upon Naruto, the blonde was sitting with a pretty girl having a quiet conversation. Sasuke’s mind backtracked. Since when did he think girls were pretty? Well, other than Kira anyway. And that was complicated enough. He was still trying to sort out his feelings like Kakashi suggested he do before talking to her, so maybe her not being there this morning was a good thing?

Focus Uchiha. The dobe is having a conversation with some strange girl. You came here to get him. Focus.

Before Sasuke could get his shit together though, Naruto was up and yelling again. Sasuke peeked around the tree and watched his friend curiously.

“Bye Haku-chan! See you soon ok! Good luck!”

The girl giggled and blushed. “Goodbye Naruto-kun! Thank you!”

The raven emerged from the tree and started walking casually towards the blonde, who stood there in an almost trance-like state. “Usuratonkachi.”

Naruto jumped and clutched his heart. “Damn it Teme! You scared the shit out of me! Why’d you sneak up on me like that!?”

“Tsk. We’re ninja.” It was both an explanation and an admonishment.

Naruto scowled. He was about to retort when his stomach growled. Loudly. He flushed with embarrassment and rubbed the back of his head. Sasuke couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Come on, I came to get you for breakfast. We can get back to training after.”

“Oh cool, thanks Sasuke!” Naruto offered him a smile, which Sasuke felt himself return. The feelings from this morning slowly ebbing away as they made their way back to Tazuna’s house.

 

Naruto called Kakashi and Kira over for a meeting after breakfast. Kira had to leave with the bridge builder so she left a shadow clone behind to listen and speak on her behalf. Naruto shared about his conversation with Haku, and the possibility of not having to fight. Kakashi was skeptical, but Sasuke spoke up.

“If Naruto believes in this, we should trust him.”

“I agree. But we should still prepare to fight.” Kira’s clone added.

Kakashi looked at his students and sighed. “This is seriously the most complicated mission I’ve ever been assigned, and I’ve been a ninja for over two decades!”

Both Naruto and Kira’s clone giggled, and Sasuke smirked. “So does that mean we can go with my plan?” Naruto asked.

They agreed and Kira’s clone vanished immediately, sparing only a pat on Kakashi’s shoulder before leaving. The boys frowned and Kakashi sent them off to train, opting to stand guard at the house for a while and do some research.

 

Several hours later, they were sitting in the forest, taking a break from their training to eat the lunch Kakashi had left them before the man returned to whatever it was he was doing.

“Nee, Sasuke, do you know what’s wrong with Kira-chan?”

Sasuke stilled, rice ball halfway to his mouth. He put it down and shook his head. “No. She won’t talk to me.”

Naruto cocked his head to the side. “Did something happen?” he asked. He noticed the sag in the other boy’s shoulders and the guilty look flash in his eyes. “I’m your friend too Sasuke. You can trust me, I promise.”

Looking over at the blonde, Sasuke felt a tug. He opened his mouth and closed it again. Not sure where to begin. He had told Kakashi only about the incident the other night, and broad strokes about their shared past previously when the two of them went to see the hokage concerning Kira and the rights the Uchiha grounds.

The question was, could he trust the dobe? One look at the guy’s stupid face and he knew that yes, he definitely could. Sighing, he resigned himself to his fate. If anything, Naruto didn’t have trouble talking to girls, or dealing with his feelings, and knew Kira as well as he did, at least currently. That, and the idiot always kept his promises.

So he told him everything, from beginning to now. His honesty surprising even him.

Naruto listened quietly without interruption. He understood now why Sasuke looked at their teammate with such longing and sadness sometimes. At first he thought it was just a crush, and he was sad because Kira didn’t seem to like him back in that way. But it was much more than that.

For a long time after, neither of them spoke. Lunch time had come and gone, and they had yet to return to practice.

“Do you think that’s what she meant by being free?” Naruto asked. “Releasing whatever memory jutsu was put on her?”

His companion shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never asked.”

“Hmm…we should probably find out. But not until after we get home. It seems kinda complicated.” Sasuke nodded. “In the meantime, I’ll do whatever I can to help you go out with her and regain her memory, if you want.” He offered.

Sasuke looked at Naruto slightly surprised. “Why?”

Naruto smiled bright and got up with a stretch. “Because we’re best friends dummy! And Kira-chan is my little sister. If she’s gonna end up with anyone, even though you’re a bastard, I’d still prefer it was you dattebayo!” he struck his signature pose for added emphasis.

“Hn.” His cheeks slightly flushed, he got up and dusted himself off before awkwardly turning to the side, hiding a small smile. “Let’s get back to work. We’re losing daylight.”

 

Since then he and Naruto had been at one another’s sides, and Sasuke felt lighter. It was nice having friends, but having someone he could call best friend was much different. Their rivalry had become a bigger part of their friendship as well. Competing and goading one another daily but also being proud of the other’s accomplishments. It was…nice. Though that night Sasuke had that dream again, his brother’s final words to him echoing in his brain, and he’d woken up shaking. Afraid he’d hurt Naruto or Kira, he tried to distance himself only for Naruto to call him an idiot and point out what Kira had told them when he first activated his sharingan. Still, that wasn’t completely comforting, but at least he knew he wouldn’t have to kill them. Hopefully…

The only time they were with the others was at breakfast and dinner. Naruto insisted that this was a good thing, quoting some book one of his clones had read (Naruto had coincidentally had a clone researching love and romance in his ongoing effort to woo Sakura) that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Sasuke countered with the fact that she’d been absent from his life for years, and Naruto whacked him in the back of the head. “I’m talking about her missing you Teme! Jeez!”

Sasuke absently wondered if having friends and liking a girl were making him stupid. Naruto being smarter than people thought was one thing, but the fact that he was now correcting him was another. Then Naruto forgot to brush his teeth one day and fell down the stairs while going up them and all was right in the world.

 

It was a few days later that Naruto and Sasuke finally completed their training. The re-emerged at the threshold of the house, leaning on one another and barely standing with triumphant grins.

“We did it!” Naruto shouted.

Kakashi smiled and congratulated them. Kira was sitting next to him and smiled as well. After that one night, she continued to sleep in Kakashi’s room, supposedly because Naruto snored too much. Sasuke had been hurt at the distance she put between them, but he noticed she was also distant from Naruto and everyone else other than Kakashi. His jealousy at the fact was not very well hidden either, as he was a bit cross with everyone who wasn’t the blonde.

 

Early the next morning Kakashi, Sasuke, Kira and Tazuna were leaving the house. Naruto was exhausted, having used several too many clones consecutively. Kakashi insisted on letting him stay to sleep, hoping that when he woke up the boy would be able to talk to Inari, with whom he’d had an argument the night before.

The little brat accused Naruto of not knowing what suffering and loneliness was. Kakashi had to physically restrain Kira and Sasuke, while Naruto remained calm, before calling the kid a big baby and making him cry. Kakashi sent his students to bed and went to have a nice chat with the little bugger.

His other hope was that this would be a good opportunity for Sasuke and Kira to make up. While he didn’t mind and completely understood her evasion tactics from both Sasuke and Tsunami, and he was glad the boys were getting along so well in her absence, he also did not like the fracture in the team.

So the four of them set off for the day while Naruto, Tsunami and Inari stayed at the house. Kakashi hoped it would be a good day for mending fences and building bridges, both literally and figuratively.

However, when they arrived, the construction area was devoid of workers. A thick mist surrounded the area, and Zabuza’s dark laugh filled the air.

 

Naruto woke up to the sun brightly shining and-

“What the fuck! I over slept?!” He jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to see Inari helping Tsunami with her knitting. The rabbit they had brought back with them was in a small cage next to Inari. “Hey Tsunami-chan! Where’d everybody go?”

“Oh Naruto, what are you doing up? They said to let you rest while they went with my father to work to-”

“Damn it! They ditched me!” The blonde ran back upstairs quickly shedding his nightwear. He threw on his jumpsuit and ran back down with a wave. “I’m outta here!”

He ran through the trees before noticing several were cut in an odd manner, but it was a pig that was freshly shred to ribbons yet left out made him pause. It was senseless, and when he looked at the pattern the trees were cut in…” Shit!” Naruto turned around and headed back in the direction of Tazuna’s house, hoping he wasn’t too late.

 

Zabuza had surrounded them with water clones. Sasuke was angry that they man hadn’t listened to reason and was now talking shit, calling Naruto pathetic for trying to turn Haku against him. As soon as Kakashi gave the ok, Sasuke cut them all down at once. Zabuza addressed his masked partner. “Haku. Take care of the little male brat. I’ll handle Hatake.”

Kira, offended and irritated she was once again stuck babysitting the stupid bridge builder, and seriously pissed that the asshole insulted her teammates, summoned her five clones and took defensive positions around Tazuna. “Oi! Take that fucker down Baka-sensei!” she shouted.

Kakashi sweat-dropped. What happened to Kakashi-nii? He thought sadly. Zabuza laughed. “My my Kakashi, seems like even your student thinks you’re stupid. Sure you don’t want to drop out before I kill you all?”

“It’s a term of endearment you fucking moron! Insult any of my team members again and I’ll be the one to claim your worthless life you piece of sh-!”

“Calm down Kira-kun. I’ll handle this.” Kakashi said in a level voice. His sharingan remained on Zabuza. “You best take her advice though. She will not grant you as kind a death as myself.”

 

Naruto arrived just as the two bad guys were about to kidnap Tsunami and kill Inari. He rescued the woman and performed a substitution jutsu to get the kid out of the way.

“Sorry I’m late! Way to go Inari!” The boy looked at him wide-eyed. “It’s being a hero you know? All the nick of time stuff!” Just then the enemies attacked, but Naruto was faster. His shadow clones jumped then from behind and beat the crap out of them without impunity.

After, he apologized to Inari, and congratulated him for standing up for his mom. They kid started crying then was ashamed for his tears. “Nothing wrong with crying when you’re happy!” he said with a smile, shocking the kid. “I’ve gotta get to the bridge now, you can handle things here right?”

The boy sniffled and nodded. “You bet!”

Naruto laughed and started to take off. “Man, this hero thing is a lot of work!”

 

At first, Haku was going toe to toe with the dark haired boy, neither one of them giving an opening. It surprised him how strong the boy was as well. Although he didn’t want to fight one of Naruto’s precious persons, but he had no choice. Zabuza had made his wishes clear. They couldn’t afford the possibility that Naruto was wrong, they’d lose what little they had.

Then the boy started over-taking him. His blows were increasingly powerful, precise, and more damaging than Haku initially believed possible. Soon Haku had realized he was taking serious damage. At the minimum, he could feel several ribs were cracked, and at least one was broken. He realized with a small amount of admiration that in terms of taijutsu this boy was clearly his superior. If things kept going this way…

Haku started weaving hand signs with one hand. Sasuke was taken aback and it gave his opponent the opening to perform his jutsu. Unfortunately, Sasuke was also faster then he’d originally considered and escaped with another powerful counter attack. As the fight progressed it got to the point where Zabuza called Haku out, and was no longer left with the option of mercy.

“Secret Technique! Demonic Mirroring Ice Crystals!”

 

Sasuke was surrounded by large mirrors of ice, each with Haku’s visage. Kakashi made a move to go to him but was stopped by Zabuza’s blade. “Let’s not forget, I’m your enemy.”

Haku was moving at incredible speeds. The senbon attacks were fast, and Sasuke was taking hits. “Any sudden moves and I’ll kill those other two.” Zabuza threatened. Behind him, Kira growled. Kakashi was torn. He wanted to help Sasuke, but if he did his other student would be in danger, or worse... Just when he thought he’d be forced to choose, he felt a familiar chakra signature approach.

“Uzumaki Naruto! Here to save the day!” The blonde appeared with a striking pose. Everyone literally sweat-dropped. Kakashi said another prayer to Kami. Zabuza threw some shuriken at him but they were deflected by Haku. Apparently, the kid wanted to fight Naruto in his own way.

Naruto used the opportunity to sneak into the ice mirror dome. “Psst! Sasuke-Teme! I’m here to rescue you!”

Sasuke fought an urge to slap his forehead. “Usuratonkachi! You’re supposed to be a ninja!”

The other boy smiled and turned to face Haku, who suddenly disappeared into one of the mirrors. “Haku, we don’t have to do this! Everything I told you was true! It’s not too late!”

“Shut up kid!” Zabuza yelled from his position. “Haku, stop fooling around with those brats! Kill them already!”

Sasuke tensed. Senbon rapidly flew at them from all directions. Haku hadn’t even responded to anyone, just attacked. Obeying. They couldn’t tell which mirror he was in even using their senses. He and Naruto were getting torn to ribbons. His mind struggled to find a way to get out of this through the pain. Naruto had made it clear beforehand that he didn’t want to kill the Haku kid or Zabuza, which was why they agreed not to use their new jutsus against them so he’d have to think of a way to-

“Shadow clone jutsu!”

The dome was suddenly filled with orange clad clones who were rapidly cut down. Sasuke used the opportunity to gather his chakra and performed a fire jutsu, hoping it would melt the ice.

“Fire style! Blaze of glory!”

It was ineffective. Haku’s jutsu was revealed to be a kekkei-genkai, and the images were not illusions but him just moving at incredible speed. “I have my own dreams, as you have yours.” The mirror images spoke. “Please try not to resent me, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to protect the one I care about most…to fight, kill, or die to fulfill that person’s dreams. Doing so is my own dream.” The others listened on with mixed emotions. Zabuza himself looked a bit taken aback. “To that end, I will become a true shinobi…and I shall kill you both.”

A moment of silence passed before Kira yelled. “You’re all fucking morons!” Several heads snapped in her direction. “I’m about finished with this bullshit! Baka-sensei! Show that ungrateful fucker who’s boss! Ducky-chan! Eye’s on! Naru-chan! Get your shit together! If any of you assholes die I’ll bring your useless ass back to life and kill you myself! This is your last chance before I step in and emasculate your sorry asses!!”

Zabuza tsk’d. “Such a fowl mouthed little girl. All talk and no bite.”

Kira scoffed and Kakashi chuckled. “Well boys, you heard the Princess!”

“Son of a-I told you never to call me that!”

Sasuke smirked and took position, turning on his sharingan. Haku gasped and Zabuza’s eyes widened. “Whenever you’re ready, Naruto.”

Naruto removed his jacket and slammed his fist into his other palm. “All right Sasuke! Give us the word, Kakashi-sensei!”

From his position, Kakashi smirked. “START!”

 

It was chaos. It was bloody. It was beautiful.

Kakashi’s battle with Zabuza was bloody as the two took to fighting one another with their weapons and taijutsu, dancing around each other with speed and deadly grace. Zabuza bragged about his brutal shaping of Haku into a perfect weapon, insulting Kakashi’s students as worthless trash. Kakashi, angered, attacked mercilessly. A mist formed and Kakashi was faced once again with Zabuza’s silent killing technique. He focused his senses on where the man would attack next.

Zabuza appeared in front of Kira, or one of her clones, and made to take a swipe. Faster than he could predict, the girl smiled and absconded with the bridge builder, while Kakashi took her place and caught the blade. Using a force of chakra laced with electricity, he pushed Zabuza back, slamming him into the ground several feet away. Zabuza choked up blood and Kakashi wiped his own bloody hands on his flak-jacket. He stared hard at the man before him.

“Let’s not forget, Momochi…I’m your enemy.”

 

Sasuke and Naruto faced a storm of senbon, moving as fast as they could but still being stuck with several dozen needles. Because of his sharingan, Sasuke was a bit faster than Naruto without his weighted jacket, his eyes giving him the ability to see Haku’s movements. Unfortunately, they still had no means of an effective non-lethal counter attack. The two combined fire jutsus as well as fire and wind jutsus, in rapid succession. They destroyed two mirrors and managed to crack another three before Sasuke smashed another to bits with a fist encased with fiery red chakra. His strength surprising even his teammate.

Haku was amazed at how much chakra the two had to have been able to summon that many powerful attacks, while he himself was slowing down, something the two before him will have noticed soon enough if they hadn’t already. Suddenly, Haku made a move to go after Naruto and Sasuke moved to intercept without thinking, taking the brunt of the hit.

“Sasuke…wh-”

“I used to hate you, you know.” Sasuke collapsed. He whispered a few words to Naruto before falling deathly silent.

Haku made a soft speech about Sasuke’s noble sacrifice, making him a true shinobi. It was meant to both console Naruto and also convince him to accept the loss of the battle before it was too late. But it was already too late, for Haku. All at once, terrible overpowered chakra permeated the air. Naruto looked up at Haku with demonic red eyes, fangs, darkened whiskers and sharp claws. His wounds completely healed. Haku’s eyes widened in horror behind his mask.

“I’M GONNA KILL YOU!!”

 

Over on the other side, Kakashi had summoned his ninken. The release of the kyuubi’s chakra signaled it was time to end this battle, and Kakashi wasted no more time. The kyuubi’s chakra was nightmarish, but the consequences of releasing the seal were bound to be worse, so he pushed through the fear. The pack of dogs tracked Zabuza through Kakashi’s blood that was smeared on him and attacked viciously.

 

Fear. True fear.

It wracked Haku’s body in a way he’d never known before. The sickening chakra taking shape in front of him was stronger than anything he’d ever felt before. Even stronger than Zabuza’s. The boy in front of him was unrecognizable from before. No, not a boy. A demon.

The chakra was suffocating him. Then the thing attacked, quickly and with incredible force. His mirrors were smashed into a million-million pieces. His arm was grabbed, instantly crunched. His face, punched and broken, his mask smashed in the process.

He was defeated.

And then, just before the killing blow, the attack stopped.

 

Seeing Haku's face woke Naruto up from his trance. The mask had detached him, making the boy in front of him easier to comprehend as an enemy. Once it was gone, he saw again the boy with whom he picked herbs with a few days prior. The one who shared a past as similar as his own. The one who was human. He might have failed to save Sasuke, but he could still save the boy in front of him.

 

Seconds before, Kira had felt it. Sasuke was at death’s door. Fading...Naruto had called upon the nine-tails chakra which was threatening to consume him. She could feel the seal weakening with every passing moment. She was losing them. She had failed them. She let out a scream and released her other chakra.

 

A cold blinding light and icy Ki emitted from over where Tazuna and Kira were. Kakashi was about to make his final move with the lightning blade when an agonizing wail sounded from behind him, freezing both him and Zabuza in place. The ninken held onto Zabuza through their own fear, though their prisoner was now shaking. Naruto and Haku looked over startled mid conversation. Haku had begged for death, he was useless now, a failure. But the boy wouldn’t grant it. Now they strained to see but were unable to make out the scene before them.

Tazuna fell back, the clones guarding him disappeared and he was left alone shrinking in his fear. Zabuza fell to the floor, his body seizing uncontrollably. Haku screamed and shunshined to his side only to be afflicted by the same immobilizing pain. Kakashi’s eye widened as Kira walked them, possessed. Her hands raised before her in bloody fists and eyes completely black including the sclera.

“You had your chance for redemption. You were warned of the consequences.” Dark images flashed in Haku and Zabuza’s minds, some were their own memories, other’s things from unfathomable nightmares. “You have killed one precious to me, and caused harm to another. You will now accept your fate.” Her voice was off, as though there were several voices speaking. “There will be no mercy.”

Kakashi stood frozen behind her. This is what he wanted to prevent. A few days ago, her brief description of this rare occurrence when she lost control was nothing in comparison to witnessing it. It was frightening.

Naruto materialized between her and her prey and put his hands over one of hers, tears running down his eyes. He had no idea what was happening, but he knew it needed to stop. He was more afraid for her than of her. He could feel her pain, and her chakra was draining fast. If she didn’t stop soon… “Kira-chan, please, d-don’t do this. Sas-Sasuke wouldn’t want you t-to do this. Please.”

Kakashi snapped out of it and put his hands on her free hand. “Come back, Kira-kun.”

 

The voices and screams were far, far away. She was deep within the cold darkness. Lost. Blind to everything but her victims and their punishment. The images she threw back at them were dark and relentless, just like their lives. And it felt good, so good to feel their pain, their life forces fading away with each passing moment. It was just as it was before, satisfying. Sadistic. Sick. She was getting lost in it, like a drug, when she felt...warmth. Naruto’s warmth. Kakashi’s warmth. And Sasuke. She could feel him too. He was still alive.

She gasped for breath in her mind and roused from her abstraction. Her eyes returned to normal and her victims were freed. The cold light surrounding her dissipated along with the Ki like it had never been there. Numbly, she registered Naruto hugging her tightly and she hugged back briefly before pulling away. “Naru-chan,” her voice was raw as if her vocal cords were damaged. “Sasuke-”

“I know Kira-chan, I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault, he-”

“He’s still alive.” She smiled softly as he looked back at Sasuke with shock and relief. “Watch over Tazuna, I need to heal him while I still remain conscious.” She released her surprised friend and shunshined over to Sasuke. Concentrating, she focused her warm white light chakra into her hands and placed it on his stomach at his center.

 

Haku and Zabuza coughed and breathed deep desperate breaths. The older man reached out to Haku and grabbed him. “Haku…are you…alright…?”

The other’s eyes widened and he coughed violently. “Ma…master Zabuza…I’m sorry I…failed you…that…”

Zabuza shook his head and pulled the kid closer. “I’m…the one that…failed you. It’s your forgiveness that…I don’t deserve…”

“Zabuza!” A voice shouted from across the way. Gato stood with a large group of thugs behind him.

“Gato. What are you doing here? And why did you bring all of them?” he asked.

“There’s been a slight change in plans…or rather…this is what I had in mind all along. It’s why I like hiring nukenin. You’ll do anything for money that I never have to pay because once you’ve served your purpose you’re dead. Literally! And the best part? No one misses you when you’re gone!” The short man laughed heartily.

“It seems I owe you all an apology, Haku, Kakashi…and Kakashi’s brats.” Zabuza coughed again and stood up, bringing Haku up with him. “Please allow me to make amends.”
Kakashi looked over at Gato and his men. “And after?” he asked.

“Heh, considering we’re all half-dead, if there is an ‘after’, I believe your boy said something about vouching for us to your Hokage?”

Kakashi laughed. “Well, I guess that depends on how many of these guys you can take out before me.” He said jokingly.

Naruto went over to Haku and worriedly put a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright, Haku-chan?”

“Naruto-kun, I’m sorry.” The boy was still shaken, his mind and body feeling incredibly weak, but his heart was a bit lighter.

“It’s ok, let’s just take care of business!” He smiled brightly. Haku’s eyes widened as all traces of the monster boy were gone, the sunshine child before him as if the other never existed. “And then you guys can help us build this bridge, ok?”

The other boy nodded and the four of them ran over to Gato and his crowd. Zabuza summoned his demon and many of the thugs ran in fear. Gato was killed bloodily and without prejudice. Haku threw senbon immobilizing several of the hired thugs. Kakashi summoned a dozen shadow clones and their kunai and shuriken found their way into vital areas. Naruto summoned several of his own clones and together they managed to dispose of a majority of the entire lot before the cavalry arrived.

“Stop where you are!” Inari had shown up with the entire village. “This island is our home! One step further and you’ll die where you stand!”

“Inari!” Several Naruto’s shouted happily.

The small boy was armed with a tiny crossbow and smiled big to his new idol. “It’s being a hero, you know? All that nick of time stuff!”

 

Sasuke thought he was dead. There was darkness, cold, and blanketed in silence. Then he was enveloped in a bright light and warmth. A familiar soft voice called his name and he followed its source without thought, drifting towards the light.

When he opened his eyes he saw Kira hovering above him. Her hands were on his stomach and they were glowing, flooding him with warmth. No. She was glowing. She was the light. His light.

“Kira?” he asked. His voice startled her and she blinked her tears away, looking from her hands to his face with unbridled hope and relief.

“Sasuke, you moron!” She grabbed him and pulled him into a hug, squeezing him almost too tightly. He could feel her crying on his shoulder as he hugged her back. “Don’t you dare ever do that to me again, you hear! I mean it!”

“I’m…I’m sorry Kira.”

“You’re sorry!” her voice was muffled by his shoulder, shirt growing damp from her tears. “Naruto’s sorry! Haku’s sorry! Zabuza’s sorry! Kakashi’s sorry! Everyone’s fucking sorry! I don’t care! All your apologies don’t mean shit to me! Just don’t do this shit again! I can’t-”

Sasuke silenced her with a kiss. A real one, on purpose. He had been close, so close to never seeing her again. He held her face in one hand and his other arm wrapped around her waist, holding her as close as possible and ignoring the senbon poking out of odd places on his body before releasing her lips and resting his forehead against hers.

“I promise” was all he could say before she fainted.

 

Two weeks later, the bridge was finished and Team 7 along with two new friends and a rabbit wearing a light pink kimono that matched Haku’s were heading back to Konoha.

The party of six ninja had spent many nights waxing philosophical about what it truly meant to be a ninja, and what a ninja’s true purpose was. After coming to some bleak conclusions, Naruto had decided to follow his own ninja way, and both Haku and Zabuza believed his was already doing just that.

Haku had flirted unashamedly with Sasuke, eliciting blushes from the raven and snickers from both Naruto and Kira. Zabuza started calling Haku his son, which in turn made the beautiful boy blush without fail.

Despite the brutal fight, flirting and almost killing of one another, Naruto seamlessly blended Haku into their group friendship. Zabuza and Kakashi bonded over what it was like to raise such monstrous brats, to which Naruto responded by gathering the group of four teenagers plus Inari into an epic series of pranks that left both masked men exasperated and raising white flags.

Saying goodbye to Inari was hardest on Naruto, who had grown close to the little one. They both cried like babies and Kira practically dragged him away. When they arrived home, Team 7 vouched for the two ninjas individually and as a group, as well as presented a letter from Tazuna endorsed by the villagers. In the end, the Hokage was convinced and sent a letter of introduction, explaining the circumstances of Zabuza’s attempt at a coup (which considering Yagura, the previous Mizukage’s history, were understandable), requesting pardons from the new Mizukage, and offered to grant them sanctuary should she refuse.

However, Mei the new Mizukage not only pardoned Zabuza she reinstated him as a jonin and accepted both him and Haku as citizens. She was trying her best to reform the Village Hidden in the Mist’s legacy of blood, and knew better than anyone Zabuza’s motives were not unfounded. A reasonable punishment of some community service and probation would suffice. She also sent a letter of thanks addressed to the ninja who spared their lives, which Naruto kept and framed, proudly displayed in his apartment.

When Haku and Zabuza were leaving to head home with their escort, Naruto bawled at the gates while he hugged Haku and made him promise to come visit soon and did the same to Zabuza, who awkwardly patted his head and called Kakashi to come get his stray. Kira’s farewell was a bit quieter, the unspoken awkwardness between them still a bit present. She bowed deeply to both men and handed them bentos. “Don’t worry, I didn’t cook them so you know they’re edible for sure!” she joked trying to lighten the mood. The others all laughed in somewhat relief.

Haku flirted a bit more with Sasuke, who tried moving towards Kira for some sort of buffer but she only laughed and pushed him back towards the other boy, telling him to be nice and give him a hug goodbye. Blushing furiously, he held out a hand only to be pulled into a hug and a kiss deposited on his lips. Sasuke was mortified and Zabuza slapped him on the back and told him to keep it in his pants.

To say the raven was relieved when they finally left was an understatement.

Chapter Text

It had been a week since they got back from the Land of Waves, including two days since Zabuza, Haku and Yukio the formal dressed rabbit left, and Team 7’s dynamics were a bit off.

While they picked up their training schedule right back off where they left it, adding things and substituting others based on needs, the distance between the boys and the girl was increasing. Kakashi worried about how to mend things, deciding to approach Iruka to ask for some advice one afternoon.

It started off nice enough, some harmless flirting followed by some sound advice to put them in a situation where they felt comfortable enough to face their issues without an escape. A plan formed in the Hatake prodigy’s mind and he giggled internally. Then the Sandaime announced the chuunin exams in three days and Kakashi recommended his genin without a second thought, making the cute academy teacher upset with him, but he refused to back down. He knew his students better than anyone, better actually than anyone else had bothered to know them their whole lives. He knew they would take the exams by the tail.

Feeling a bit competitive with the other jonin who thought their teams were going to wipe the floor with his, Kakashi proceeded to engage in a rare trash-talking competition. The others argued that the Uchiha boy was known for being uncooperative, the Uzumaki boy for being a troublemaker and a weakling compared to his classmates, and the Senju girl was basically an estranged princess who was probably just another spoiled brat. Not to mention Asuma was a bit irritated he had to take on an extra genin that originally was supposed to be his. Needless to say Kakashi laid down some heavy ryo on his entire team making it to the finals.

 

Meanwhile, Naruto chose to use the free afternoon to try and talk to his female teammate. He had asked her about her weird jutsu a while ago, but she had refused to comment on it and changed the subject. Of course, he had brought it up in front of Sasuke, thinking that since there were no real secrets between their group that she would be willing to share, but ever since the Teme kissed her on the bridge she had been acting weird around him too, probably because the bastard still hadn’t talked to her about it even though Naruto kept telling him he should.

But since they were both being stubborn, and Kakashi clearly wasn’t going to help out, Naruto took it upon himself to fix the issue, volunteering to talk to Kira on Sasuke’s behalf. He wasn’t ecstatic about playing the middle man, but hey, if it got the everyone through the awkward phase then what the hell.

So here he was, walking with Kira to the ramen shop where he hoped to have a nice chat on their afternoon off when he sensed three small chakra signatures following close by. A quick look revealed a poorly disguised rock was trailing them. Kira giggled and Naruto brought out a smoke tag, throwing it into one of the eye holes of the box and laughing when three orange dusted kids came out coughing.

“Aww man! How’d ya know it was us leader?!” Konohamaru said. He was a small boy with brown spiky hair in a pony-tail and an oversized blue scarf. His companions, one girl with two spiky orange pig-tails and rosy cheeks and a boy with glasses and a nose-drip all wore goggles on top of their heads like him.

“C’mon Kono! I’m a ninja! Hey, what’s up with the goggles?”

“And who are your friends?” Kira asked, reaching a hand out to dust off the girls face with a piece of cloth she tore from her shirt, causing the girl to blush and smile shyly. Naruto grimaced, that orange sticky dust may have been a bit overkill for the runts.

“We’re the Konohamaru Gang! And these goggles are our tribute to you, our leader!” Konohamaru shouted with a fist in the air.

“I’m Moegi” the girl bowed.

“And I’m Udon” the nose-dripper spoke. “Who are you?”

“I’m Kira, Naruto’s teammate. It’s a pleasure to meet you all!” she smiled.

“Woah, Naruto-nii, she’s pretty!” he whispered conspiratorially. “Is she your girlfriend?”

Naruto laughed and shook his head. “Nah, she’s my cousin actually, but I think of her as my imouto.”

“I prefer cousin Naru-chan.” Kira quipped as she brushed off Udon’s face.

“Cool! That means you can be our nee-chan too!” the little leader shouted. Kira visibly winced at the volume and shrugged.

“Will you guys play ninja with us?” The little girl asked.

Naruto looked at Kira questioningly and she nodded. “Alright! We’ll give you guys a ten second head start! Run for it!”

As one the Konohamaru gang took off, though they didn’t separate. Naruto made a mental note to teach Konohamaru and his friends evasion tactics. They took their time going after them, only to find that they had bumped into some foreign ninja and hadn’t made a good impression, as the one with the purple face-paint and brown cat onesie was about to throttle Kono.

Naruto body-flickered to where the make-up guy was and took Konohamaru out of his hands and moved back to protect the other two while Kira appeared behind the guy, crouching on his shoulders and holding a kunai to his neck. The blonde female with four spiky pig-tails who was with him blinked and then went to attack when a rock hit her hand, stunning her momentarily as she winced in pain.

“Who are you and what are you doing in our village?” Sasuke’s questioned. He was sitting casually in a tree nearby and tossed a rock in his hand, eyes on the foreign ninja.

“So cool” came the collective whispers among the three little academy students.

“Kankuro…” the female whispered cradling her hand to her chest. “We should go before-”

 

“That’s enough. You two are a disgrace to our village.” A deep gravelly voice sounded from behind Sasuke. Hanging upside down from another limb on the tree was a redhead with no eyebrows, red kanji tattoo for ‘love’ on his forehead, pale-green eyes and a giant gourd on his back. Unlike the other two foreign ninja who seemed surprised at the other boys sudden appearance, Team 7 didn’t react. They had sensed his presence as soon as he arrived to observe them. Kira made eye contact with the boy who was clearly another jinchuuriki and stared hard, while Naruto concentrated, trying to feel what exactly was wrong with the guy’s seal. Though Sasuke was a bit unnerved not when he realized exactly what this boy was, but that he didn’t seem to have the same amount of control over his beast’s chakra as Naruto, he didn’t show it. “Have you forgotten why we came here?” he asked. His eyes were cold and deadly.

“Ga..Gaara! It was their fault!” Kankuro choked out. “The little one bumped into me and-”

“Shut up, or I’ll kill you.” That stopped the taller boy cold. Gaara turned to Sasuke. “Sorry about my friends.” Kira smirked as she felt the boy’s fear beneath her and body-flickered over to Naruto, resting an arm on his shoulder.

“No worries!” Naruto smiled. “Although, if you are here for the chuunin exams assaulting the Hokage’s grandson is probably not the best way to start things off.”

Kira giggled beside him as the other two paled. Disappearing in a flurry of sand Gaara reappeared between his two teammates, as they all sported the same headbands. He looked impassively towards the smaller kids huddled behind the confident genin and to the ninjas. When his eyes settled on Kira, the lingered a bit too long for Sasuke’s liking considering her midriff was bare for some reason.

“You know, we could probably help you with that problem of yours if you wanted, as a gesture of goodwill and all, considering that our villages are allies after all.” She said smiling. Gaara stared a second more before raising a non-existent eyebrow in question. She walked over slowly and held out a hand. “I’m Kira. The orange one is Naruto and the broody one in the tree is Sasuke. We’re Team 7. It’s a pleasure to have you in our village and we wish you luck on your exams.”

Hesitantly, Gaara held his hand out. The sand hadn’t reacted to her presence, and he felt a sort of calm aura around her contrary to her eyes that screamed blood and murder like his own. He knew she had killed before, he could feel it. Her eyes and those of her teammates also all held the same loneliness as his own, but something else was there as well…some sort of warmth? Understanding? She took his hand and he felt a small surge of chakra, warm and bright and soothing and why hadn’t the sand killed her yet? As if time slowed she pulled him in for a one armed hug while still holding his hand and patted him on the back. “So you can find me if you want help your seal” she whispered before pulling away and smiling brightly.

Gaara and his teammates stood stunned as she walked over to Kankuro and held out her hand to him. “Sorry about earlier, but you were kinda being an asshole to my little friend there.” Kankuro shook her hand in a daze and she moved over to the other girl. “I’m sorry, we didn’t get your name?”

“Te-Temari” the girl breathed, also shaking her hand in a fog of disbelief. Kira grinned and flickered back to Naruto who was smiling as well.

“It was nice to meet you all!” he shouted. “If you guys are hungry later meet us at Ichiraku’s for dinner, it’s tradition to get to know new friends better over a delicious bowl of the best ramen you’ve ever had!” he waved cheerily and turned to the little ones. “Ok you three, last one back to the academy has to take the blame for the prank we’re gonna pull on Iruka-sensei! Got it!” Three startled heads nod. “Good! Go!!” The kids took off at high speed in the opposite direction.

Kira looked up at Sasuke and shouted “That means you too Ducky-chan!” before taking off at a sprint. Sasuke grunted and jumped off the tree to follow, leaving Naruto behind.

“Aw, C’mon guys! No fair!”

The three foreign ninja stood there a few moments longer, each lost in their own heads trying to figure out just what exactly happened but knowing one thing for certain; Team 7 were not ordinary individuals.

 

The next day the genin were at their usual afternoon meeting spot waiting for their punctuality-challenged sensei and discussing the events of the night before. The ninja from the sand hadn’t shown up to Ichiraku’s but that wasn’t completely unexpected. They did sense the other jinchuuriki nearby though he didn’t approach them, so that was something.

It was momentarily forgotten when Kakashi arrived to tell them he recommended them for the exams. Naruto tackled him into a hug and professed his love, while Kakashi tried in vain to pry him off.

“Oi, Baka-sensei, we need to discuss something first.”

Intrigued, Kakashi looked at his three genin who suddenly became serious. “In private?” he asked. In response the three shunshined away and Kakashi followed, meeting a few minutes later at the Uchiha training grounds. “Ok, so what's up?”

Kira smiled. “We had to initial protocol C.”

Kakashi’s eye widened. “Another jinchuuriki? In the village? What happened?”

Naruto relayed the previous day’s events, his concern about the other boy’s seal being so weak as well as the fact that Gaara now seemed to be following Kira around the village randomly. Sasuke was upset that Kira had approached Gaara so recklessly and half naked, even if it was protocol to approach as friendly as possible in order to disarm them and not to let Naruto have physical contact just in case it triggers the fox. Kira thought that things went well and Sasuke was being a big baby and if he had something he wanted to say to her he knew where to find her.

Needless to say, Kakashi was a bit worried about team dynamics again. He had hoped that another challenge like the chuunin exams would bring them together, as they seemed to thrive in that sort of environment, but it seemed the universe was against him. He mourned his days of being a carefree jonin before he knew these little monsters. “Alright, that’s enough.” He said, asserting as much authority in his voice and silencing the genin all at once. He was the alpha of this pack, and it was high time he settled the beef among his pups. “The chuunin exams are dangerous as it is. Everything I taught you, especially teamwork, is paramount to your survival. With another jinchuuriki in the mix, you’ll need to be on guard more than ever. Now, Naruto, have you worked out a seal that can work for the other boy?”

Naruto hummed and nodded slowly. “Mostly. We worked on it late last night but I’ll need a better read on his chakra. Kira-chan could only sense the chaotic chakra and Sasuke-Teme couldn’t use his sharingan without being noticed.”

“If he actually comes to us we can figure it out, it shouldn’t be an issue.” Sasuke added.

“If not…well…we’re pretty sure we can take him.” Kira said.

“Pretty sure.” Kakashi deadpanned.

“Yup!”

“Mmmhmm.”

“Hn.”

Kakashi sighed and looked at them all individually. Between the Fox, the Sharingan, and Kira’s other self, well… “Fine. I’ll trust you to handle this for now, but if anything should go sideways…”

“We know!” an annoyed chorus answered him.

“Good. Then I have one last task for you before the exams start. It’s extremely important to your success, should you wish to proceed. Are you ready to accept?” he asked with an evil glint in his eye. The three genin gulped internally. The last time their wayward sensei looked at them like that they got the living shit beat out of them. Not that they were opposed to that sort of training of course, on the contrary, they loved it. But the look now made them feel like this wasn’t going to be as fun.

As one, they nodded. And so, sealed their fate.

 

Kakashi’s task was simple; sleepover at the Uchiha’s apartment.

Naruto’s apartment was small, and Kira’s was smaller, and with Gaara lurking around somewhere it was better that they stuck together in case he approached, either for help or to attack. Sasuke’s apartment was big, with a patio and an extra-large bed and a great vantage point. They worked on Gaara’s seal on night and spent the days researching previous exams, training and preparing for the worst.

The first night before they went to sleep Kira decided to bite the bullet and told them the truth about her nightmares. She knew this was one of the reasons their damn sensei assigned them this ‘task’. He had told her before she should confide in her teammates, and she was avoiding it, rightly so. She didn’t want to tell them everything, but between Naruto’s curiosity and Sasuke’s damn assist he was giving the blonde they ended up getting most of it out of her.

“So…remember how I told you my first memory was pretty much blood screams and…yeah…?” she began. Sasuke nodded and Naruto shifted in his seat. He had heard this from Sasuke but not her, so he just stayed silent. “Well, there’s um…a little more to it than that. Did you, um, hear about what happened on the bridge? After you kinda died?” Sasuke’s eyes widened and he looked to Naruto before turning back and nodding. She could tell they were putting it together. “I’m not…I’m not sure exactly what it is, or how it happened in the first place. I know it’s not a kekkei-genkai, and as far as I know it’s never occurred before in another person. Although they could have just kept it a secret like me so…”

She paused, trying to find the words. “It’s only happened three times. I can’t…control it. The last time, was when I thought…I thought you two were…and the time before was…when I was traveling here…I was on my own and just outside of fire country. There were some kids…young girls who had been…taken I guess…killed after they were…used and…the men who did it wanted to take me too but I…I lost control and I…killed them all.” She took a deep breath and clenched her fists in her hands.

Sasuke’s hand clenched and anger rolled off him in waves. Naruto grabbed her hand but she pulled it away. “It’s ok, Kira-chan, we’re here, we-”

“No! You need to listen! You might…you might hate me after this…after I tell you…I just…I need you to listen…ok?” she was trembling. It had been easier to disassociate with Kakashi, he at least knew what she had been through. He hadn’t judged her. He understood her.

She didn’t look at them, she could feel their resolve but she knew it would crumble soon. “The nightmares, the ones that wake me where I wake up and believe I’m still covered in blood…that I’m still there…killing them…they’re from these times. The second time is clearer than the first, and the third…I dream of that too now but the first…the first is the worst. The first time…when I woke up…my first memory…the blood…the person I killed…was my mother.”

Naruto gasped and Sasuke stilled. “But your mom…she died…didn’t she?”

Kira shook her head. “No…she…faked her death after she was attacked and went to find Tsunade in disguise. Apparently…she was…afraid of something in the village. She wanted to take me and leave but…she was afraid of being branded a traitor or ruining our clan’s reputation for abandoning the village. She wanted to…make sure I was strong enough to protect myself before I could come back so…whatever this curse is…whatever I am now…she…she did it to protect me and she…made me kill her to complete it…No one knows about it except Kakashi-nii and my cousins but they don’t know what it is either and…it’s too dangerous to tell anyone else so…”

The silence was deafening as Kira began to feel hot tears slide down her face. She knew Sasuke would hate her now. It had been the reason she avoided his advances. She was a kin killer, like his brother. She didn’t deserve his affection. She didn’t-

Strong, slender arms embraced her waist. She gasped and looked up to find Sasuke holding onto her like she was his lifeline. Another pair of arms encircled her around the shoulders and kami she couldn’t hold it in anymore. She started bawling, letting out all the tears and grief she had felt. Endless nights of reliving the murders had haunted her. Confessing she was a murderess to her teammates caused her more fear and anxiety than anything had before. And here were her two morons, holding her like she had done nothing wrong.

“I’m sorry.” Was all she could muster.

“You’re sorry. Naruto’s sorry. I’m sorry. Everyone’s fucking sorry.” Sasuke mumbled into her neck.

Naruto snorted. “I don’t care. Just don’t do this shit again dattebayo.”

Kira laughed between her sobs and reached her hands up to grasp the arms across her chest and stomach. “I promise.”

Apparently, no one on Team 7 was immune to nightmares.

Naruto confessed to occasionally reliving the abuse he received from the orphanage during the short time he was there as well as at the hands of various villagers. “My first memories were of being hated…craving affection and being shoved away. In my dreams…I try to connect with people, with you guys, and…everyone just pushes me away. They call me names, turn their backs on me…and hurt me.” Naruto had mentioned some of the behavior of the villagers before after Sasuke and Kira had witnessed several incidents, but they didn’t know how far back they extended. “Even Iruka-sensei and Jiji…they all hate me. They blame me for everyone dying…for the Yondaime’s death, and they leave me behind…you all leave me behind...in the darkness…alone.” He choked out.

“Dobe.” Sasuke sighed, putting a hand on the blondes’ shoulder. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“You’re stuck with us and our vegetables!” Kira jested as she wrapped herself around his other arm.

Naruto laughed in relief and wiped away his tears. “I love you guys, you know that? You’re…the closest thing to family I’ve ever had and…I don’t know if that’s ok or if we really are but…” he was blushing a bit, embarrassed by his confession.

Kira stilled, making eye contact with Sasuke above the other boy’s head. They were all conflicted with the emotions and connections that came with this territory, but there was no way they could say they didn’t feel the same.

Smiling softly, Sasuke bumped his forehead against his friends. “Usuratonkachi. Of course we are.”

“Morons.” Kira snuggled into the orange fabric of Naruto’s shoulder and held a bit tighter. Sasuke’s heart constricted at the sight.

“I need to tell you guys something too.” He said, gaining their undivided attention. “I dream of that night too, when…Itachi..." Sasuke spat his name with such utter disdain it made the others flinch. "...killed my clan and…my parents.” His breath hitched and Naruto grabbed his hand and squeezed a little tighter. “Every night, I find them all…the bodies…and he tells me to come find him when I have the same eyes…that I need to kill my best friend…”

“But Ducky-chan, we already know that you don’t need to do that, remember?”

“Yeah, you read some of the research yourself right?”

“Yes but in my dreams…in my nightmares…I do. I kill you both because…you’re the only two people who matter to me anymore…and…”

“And in order for you to get the Mangekyo in the first place-”

“-one of us has to die.”

 

They approached the academy as one cohesive unit, armed to the teeth with all sorts of goodies. On the way they noticed several potential threats and a few interesting characters. When they arrived to the supposed third floor, a couple genins were being refused entry and making a fuss. Naruto made a move to help them out but Sasuke stuck out an arm and shook his head. “This is a competition dobe, leave them.”

Naruto pouted but followed his teammate, noting the pale eyes that followed them as they moved past the others and ascended the stairs to the actual third floor. When suddenly, a bowl-haired boy in a green jumpsuit jumped up, introducing himself as Rock Lee and challenged Sasuke to a match as a member of the legendary Uchiha clan. Sasuke, feeling competitive and always eager for a fight, was about to agree when Kira grabbed his hand and pulled him close. “It’s a competition babe, remember? Don’t show anyone anything until it’s time.”

Sasuke controlled his blush and nodded. He looked up to the strange looking boy and Naruto snickered. “Sorry, perhaps we should save the fighting for the exam.”

The other boy looked disappointed for a moment before striking a dramatic pose and giving a dazzling smile that made Kira giggle. “I look forward to it, Uchiha!” Sasuke smirked and tugged Kira away, who in turn grabbed Naruto’s hand and pulled him along as well. They approached the door and were about to enter when a puff of smoke revealed-

“Kakashi-sensei!”

“Baka-sensei!”

“Hn.”

“Yo!”

Naruto tackled him into another hug and Kira jumped over to pat his head asking “Who’s a good sensei? You are! You are!” embarrassingly and Sasuke chuckled, reaching to pull his teammates off much to Kakashi’s eternal thanks.

“Mah, you little demons will be the death of me!” he laughed, though the mask did nothing to hide his blush. He knew just beyond the wall his fellow jonin were laughing at his expense. “You three show them what you’re made up in there. And whatever happens, know, I’m proud of you all.” He said, ruffling the boys’ hair on either side of Kira. He then leaned down conspiratorially and whispered “I’ve got money riding on my three minions making it all the way. Don’t let me down and I’ll treat you to dinner at the fancy place with the 24 course meals!”

Naruto’s eyes went wide and he started salivating, Kira’s stomach rumbled and Sasuke smirked. “So, if you’re willing to take us there that means you’re getting a lot more than that place costs if we win huh?”

Kakashi narrowed his eyes and the other two laughed. “And what if I am?”

“Oh…we’ll get back to you on that, sensei.”

“Tch. Brats” Kakashi huffed and poofed away, leaving the three two walk through the doors.

 

And into a room packed full of shinobi. The three slid in and were almost immediately assaulted by Team 10.

Oh yeah, them. Naruto repressed a chuckle as they immediately laser eye focused on his poor best friend.

“Sasuke-kun!”

“Sasuke you cutie!”

Said boy winced as the two crazy girls meant to tackle him and he used a substitution jutsu just before they got there. Sakura and Ino landed on a pile of logs and started arguing about whose fault it was, giving Team 7 a chance to back away. Naruto pulled Sasuke in between him and Kira, hoping that it would deter the girls from going after him again.
While he knew Sasuke could be a bit of a jealous bastard, he had no idea how Kira was going to be.

The morning after Kira’s reveal he left them alone to talk while he went to pick up some supplies and came back to find them making out on Sasuke’s bed. He had screamed that he was blind for several moments before breaking out in laughter at their red faces. They had talked things out and were apparently dating now, which while he was happy about he was afraid he’d be a third wheel. Kira pinched his whiskered cheeks painfully and told him that he was her big brother and the Duck’s best friend (Sasuke tried for a new nickname since he was now her boyfriend but she ignored him) and they were all friends and teammates first so he should shut the fuck up and start on the rice. He did, but only after Sasuke came up and gave him a quick fist bump while Kira wasn’t looking and thanked him.

It was weird, and Naruto couldn’t help but be stunned at how much things had changed, how they all had changed, but it was good. They were all happy together.

And now they were going to kick this exams ass and become chuunin together too.

Shikamaru, a perpetually bored genin with spiky hair approached and started talking shit alongside a chubby boy named Choji who was munching on chips and equally as snippy. Apparently, they weren’t happy that Sakura was on their team because she and Ino, the blonde fangirl who tried to tackle Sasuke, were always bickering.

“And here I thought the famous Ino-Shika-Cho team, known for their embodiment of teamwork, would rise up to the challenge of adding another shinobi to their group flawlessly.” Naruto spoke, shocking Team 10. He smiled, gratified by their silence. Before the exam they had done research on teams and gathered information on those they knew. Team 10 would be a trapping team, which meant they were of little threat to Team 7 because of their private training.

He had thought that when he saw Sakura he would have swooned like usual, but all he saw was her immaturity and lack of growth. After hearing that all she’d been doing lately is arguing with Ino he knew he was right. His experiences with his team and their mission to the wave had taught him he was more attracted to a person emotionally than physically, like with his brief crush on Haku. He did, however, notice a pair of pale eyes looking at him and blushing from nearby.

“Hey you there!” Kiba shouted. He was a tanned boy with brown hair, red downward facing triangles on his cheeks, wearing a thick fur lined coat, and a small white dog sat upon his head. “Looks like the gang’s all here!” he said jovially.

Hinata, the pretty pale eyed girl with short, dark lavender hair wearing a light tan coat, was always used to be nice to him even when others weren’t. Shino, the tall but equally quiet boy who wore sunglasses said nothing. Together those three were Team 8. The tracking team. Also not a threat. Naruto smiled disarmingly and waved to Hinata, who blushed deeper and stuttered hello. He found her shyness a bit endearing, and her blush a bit cute.

 

Kira stretched her senses out as subtly as possible. Leaning on her comrades, she closed her eyes and feigned fatigue like she normally did when observing others and analyzing their chakras. She felt the other jinchuuriki close by, his beast stirring as the boy looked at her. His chakra was as chaotic as her own was previously, if not more. Stretching a bit further she found another familiar signature that made her smile internally, not wanting to ruin the surprise she bit the inside of her cheek. This exam was definitely going to be interesting.

 

Sasuke ignored Kiba as the dog boy bragged about their training and tried to egg Naruto on into an argument. It was satisfying to have witnessed Naruto silence Team 10, a group of lazy shit-talkers whom he never particularly cared for. He was also grateful of his teammates guarding him from his fangirls. He guessed from Ino’s defensive posture that Sakura had told her about Kira and the incident in the classroom, which meant they wouldn’t be trying anything with her around. No one else knew anything about her, and everyone was going to underestimate Naruto for sure. Team 7 definitely had the advantage here.

Instead he observed the other ninja in the room, onyx eyes landing on Gaara and his teammates who were watching them carefully. His eyes narrowed when he noticed the redheads focus on his girlfriend. When a voice spoke up from nearby telling them all to shut up his attention was snapped elsewhere.

A shady looking gray haired kid with glasses went on to berate them for being newbies. Sasuke resisted the urge to scowl. Kabuto, as he introduced himself, warned them about the other shinobi there and apparently was on his seventh attempt. He felt Naruto shift at his side subtly and slip into his mask.

“All right Kabuto buddy! You’re the man! Got any tips for us?” he asked excitedly. Sasuke smirked, knowing full well what the blonde was doing.

“Cute. Okay, I guess I can help you innocent babies out with some info from my shinobi skill cards.” Kabuto smirked and eyed Sasuke.

“Shinobi skill cards?” Sakura questioned. Tch. That girl was so gullible. At least Naruto was pretending.

Kabuto adjusted his glasses. “Data cards infused with my chakra on every shinobi here.” A map of all the genin taking the exam and where the hailed from appeared. “Would you like to know about anyone in particular here?” he asked, eyeing Sasuke again. Kira’s body shifted slightly, and he knew she had noticed it too. Something was up with this guy.

“Gaara from Suna and Rock Lee from Konoha.” The raven stated. Might as well see how much info this guy had obtained.

“Aww, you know their names, no fun!” Kabuto mocked and pushed up his glasses. Pretentious fucker.

Naruto leaned forward wide eyed as the chakra cards came to life and displayed stats on the two genin. Rock Lee was a taijutsu expert, and his sensei was Might Guy. Kakashi had mentioned him once, supposedly the man was the village’s foremost taijutsu expert and Kakashi’s rival. Sasuke definitely wanted to try his skills against Lee now.

Gaara was another matter. One B mission was impressive but…he’s never been injured in anyway. Not a single scratch. That was…interesting. Knowing he was a jinchuuriki with an unstable seal made it all the more so. He really wanted to fight that kid too.

“How about Akirama Senju, from Konoha.” Shikamaru asked and glanced at Sakura. Sasuke raised an eyebrow and next to him Kira chuckled. Yeah, the pinkette definitely warned her team.

Another card was summoned and flared to life. “Hmm…not much data here. High stats in nin, tai, chi…moderate gen and ningu…it seems like my info on this particular genin is incomplete. Other than her being the legacy of the Nidaime and having appeared in the village after many years absence, there is nothing else known about her.” Kabuto’s brows furrowed and he looked at Kira oddly. True to form, she opened her eyes and smiled, waving cheerily and reminiscent of their odd sensei.

“WHAT?!” Sakura and Ino yelled. “What are you talking about Nidaime?!” “You can’t be serious!” The other rookies glanced at Kira warily as she leaned away from Sasuke’s shoulder and laughed.

“Nice to meet you all! Fair warning, I came here to fuck shit up, so bring your A-game if you want to lose with dignity!” She smiled and flashed a peace sign and received several scandalized looks. The sand team looked on with a mixture of horror and interest. Naruto took a stance and addressed the room.

“Oi! I’m Uzumaki Naruto and none of you bastards are gonna beat me!” He shouted. At this point Sasuke was concentrating very hard on not laughing. His best friend certainly had a talent for gaining undivided attention by pissing people off.

Ino and Sakura flipped and moved to strangle him as the other rookies sweat dropped. Kira stepped in front of Naruto and wagging a finger in a ‘no’ gesture, causing both girls to freeze and back off. Suddenly, several ninja appeared and attacked Kabuto. None of the other rookies were fast enough to move, and even though Team 7 were they were still playing their roles as foolish genin. Kabuto’s glasses cracked and he fell to the floor, throwing up and cursing. Several nearby shinobi including the rookies were amazed at the speed of attack.

Naruto and Sakura rushed over to the injured Konoha nin. “Kabuto my man! Are you alright?”

“Leave him alone Naruto this was all your fault to begin with!” Sakura admonished while placing an arm around the gray-haired boy. Sasuke grit his teeth and he felt Kira tense next to him. “If you hadn’t egged everyone on then-”

“Add this to your little cards! Don’t mess with ninja from The Village Hidden in the Sound!” One of the attackers spoke. Several pairs of eyes narrowed at the bold statement.

A boom from the front of the room grabbed everyone’s attention and a loud intimidating voice roared. “ALL OF YOU SHUT UP NOW!!”

Chapter Text

To be completely honest, the first part of the exam was bullshit. It was a written test that with rules the proctor Ibiki Morino outlined, that clearly meant cheating was needed to pass. As if the ridiculously hard questions weren’t enough of a clue. And of fucking course Yuki Haku was here, and Kami the flirtatious pretty boy just had to sit next to him during the exam. It took every bit of control Sasuke had to not slam his head repeatedly into the table and instead grumbling 'what the fuck' as the other boy giggled and batted his eyelashes at him.

Sakura had made a fuss during the time the proctor was explaining his rules. He figured she wasn’t confident enough in her teammates abilities to pass, since if any individual failed then the entire team failed. He glanced over at Naruto who was sitting in the front next to the Hyuuga girl and playing the frustrated fool and hid his smile behind his hands. Nothing to worry about there.

Onyx eyes found Kira seated between another Hyuuga and a foreign shinobi. She had her head down and was pretending to sleep, probably scanning the room, or legit napping. Either way she’d definitely pass too. Activating his sharingan, he located one of the genin plants and began copying down the answers to the questions.

 

Naruto may have been laying it on too thick. Hinata-chan offered for him to cheat off her, which truly surprised him. He declined, insisting he would pass on his own merit. After thirty-something minutes and several teams had been kicked out so far for getting caught, he frantically scribbled a few answers, erasing a few and rewriting the correct ones, just to make it look like he struggled. It’s what everyone expected of him anyway.

He glanced behind him as a genin caused a ruckus with one of the proctors. He eyed his female teammate as she yawned and began writing absently. Sasuke was just deactivating his sharingan, which meant they were all in the clear.

The scary looking proctor began speaking exactly fifteen minutes before the test ended. Apparently, the last question was optional. However, if you chose to take it and failed, you’d be stuck a genin forever. If you chose not to take it, you’d live to fight another day, so to speak. Anyone who didn’t want to take it had to leave with their team. Kakashi-sensei wasn’t kidding about this teamwork thing, hehe.

He sat down and made a scrunchy face as a bunch of genin began raising their hands one by one and quitting. When enough had gone, Naruto decided enough was enough. He raised his hand hesitantly, gaining the attention of the proctor before slamming it back down with force.

“Never underestimate me! I don’t quit and I don’t run!!” he growled.

Ibiki stared him down. “I’ll ask you one last time. This is your last chance.”

Naruto smirked. “I never go back on my word. It’s my ninja way.”

“Alright then. All 73 of you…have passed the first exam.”

Sakura-chan and Temari complained a bit, and Ibiki explained about teamwork, testing their commitment and ability to gather information under harsh circumstances. He took off his headband and wrap and revealed his scarred scalp. Naruto winced but was awestruck. The man was definitely an awesome shinobi. He also addressed what it meant to be a chuunin, being faced with impossible choices and being responsible for your team. To be a chuunin you needed more than strength, you needed to be a true leader.

A loud crash sounded and a woman came barreling in, hanging up a banner without missing a beat announcing her as the second examination proctor, Mitarashi Anko. She was flashy and cool and Naruto instantly liked her. She complained that Ibiki passed too many genin, then boasted that she’d have that number cut in half by the end of her exam before barking orders for everyone to follow her. Naruto jumped up and glanced back at his teammates who joined him quickly as they made their way to training ground 44.

 

It turns out that training ground 44, aka the forest of death was no joke. Everyone was asked to read over and sign consent forms in case of death, which was likely. This was a survival death match where the 24 teams started off with either a heaven or earth scroll, and had to obtain the missing one before reaching the tower in the center of the forest. They had five days to get to the tower with both scrolls and all team members intact. They couldn’t leave the forest at any time nor could they open the scrolls until they reached the tower. It seemed simple enough.

Kira burst out laughing as soon as Sasuke sidled up to her and she saw Haku’s pink lipstick on his cheek. He was scowling and grumbling about the other boy not having any boundaries and what kind of girlfriend was she to accept this kind of behavior. She wiped off the lipstick with her sleeve and placed a small kiss in the spot where it was to placate him before dragging him off to sign their consent forms.

They were seated in a secluded area reading over their forms when Sasuke pulled Kira in for another kiss. She felt her heart beating erratically as the Uchiha held onto her waist and gently massaged her tongue with his own. She tangled her fingers in his hair and wondered when exactly she fell for this moron, and if she really minded it after all. It was odd, knowing he had known her before and had memories she could not recall herself. It had made her feel pressured in the beginning, but now she was comforted by it. Or maybe it was just him that made her feel that way. He smirked and she pulled back, slightly flushed and wondering when she became such a foolish girl.

“What are you smiling about Ducky-chan?”

“Hn. You got jealous, didn’t you?”

Kira huffed. “Of course not. Haku just likes bothering you because you’re so uptight around him. I mean, he’s gay but you’re not his type. Sorry babe~” she cooed and pinched his nose.

“I meant those idiotic girls. And I’m everyone’s type. How do you know Haku wasn’t lying just to keep you from killing him?” he chuckled.

“Oh Kami you’re sooooo conceited!” She slapped his chest playfully and he chuckled. “First off, I’m secure enough to know you only have eyes for me, just like you should be concerning me. Second, you are most definitely not everyone’s type, so shrink that head of yours a couple sizes before you stop fitting in doorways.” Sasuke shook his head and pulled her into his chest, cupping her face gently and bringing it towards his. She blushed furiously under his intense gaze. “And third, I can tell by someone’s chakra fluctuations when they’re lying. Haku definitely isn’t into ducks.”

“Hn.” Another kiss and Kira found herself lost in bliss for a few sweet moments before she sensed Naru-chan’s chakra approaching. She pulled away and giggled at his adorable pout when their blonde teammate popped up.

“Hey guys! Haku-chan went with his team to turn in their forms. Are you guys ready yet? Or do you wanna discuss our plan first?” he asked excitedly, plopping down on Sasuke’s other side and pulling out his consent form.

“We should stick together no matter what. We can send a few shadow clones in mock-teams in different directions towards the other groups. If anything they can act as scouts to find whoever has the scroll we need.”

“Hmm…Ducky-chan is right. I think we should find the river and follow it straight to the tower. It’ll be a good source of food as well as good for our water jutsus and lightning should we need to fight anyone along the way.”

“We can set up traps once we get there, that way we can ambush anyone if we haven’t gotten a chance to get a scroll by then too.” Naruto added.

“Hn. Or at the very least, take out some extra competition.”

“Fuck yeah! Let’s do this!”

“Kami you two are so competitive! Though I’m glad you guys are on my team at least. I feel bad for some of these morons who are going to be dumb enough to underestimate us, worse for those who fall into your guys’ traps and shit.” She laughed.

“Hey, it is a competition after all!”

 

As soon as they entered their gate Naruto henged a scroll using a seal to keep himself and they sent out five clone teams with the objective of ‘search and destroy’. Kira-chan took the real scroll and hid it away and they took off, hearing some random screams nearby.

Naruto made a funny face and scratched his eyebrow. “Gotta pee.” The other two nodded knowingly and he went behind a tree. They shunshined next to him where a ninja in a gas mask attempting to attack him. The guy was clearly not expecting reinforcements and was taken down fairly quick. Naruto really did have to take a leak and Kira-chan told him just to go there while they tied up the other ninja and hung him upside down from the tree, stripping him of weapons and searching for a scroll to no avail.

After, they huddled together and Teme suggested a password. It was more bullshit, they all knew, because there was another ninja nearby listening in it would be easier to trick them if the person thought they couldn’t read one another’s chakra. The password was complicated and Naruto once again played the confused fool, marking himself as the target. Sasuke then made a show of asking for the scroll, and Naruto handed him his fake with a bit of a pout.

 

A large gust of wind knocked them apart. Sasuke asked Kira for the password and she recited it with a smile, both knowing already the other ninja had made his move. When the fake Naruto appeared, and recited it perfectly, the other two grinned and attacked him head on. He was surprised enough to drop his henge and revealed himself as one of the creepy grass ninja.

The guy knew they had a heaven scroll, which was bad enough until he ate his own earth scroll and challenged them to a battle to the death. Kira took a stance beside him and narrowed her eyes.

“Let’s get this asshole Ducky-chan!”

They were suddenly hit by a wave on genjutsu that made them think they had been killed. They broke out at the same time and released the paralyzing after effects, the after images of his death still echoing in his mind. They retreated to a tree and he wracked his brain for a way to escape. This guy was definitely above their paygrade. They needed to escape before-

“Duck!”

A giant snake attacked from above and he quickly launched several weapons at it killing it instantly. It fell and their enemy emerged from its corpse and laughed, taunting them before becoming snake-like himself and attacking. What the fuck was this guy? Naruto then appeared and hit the thing with a barrage of shuriken.

“Sorry I’m late guys. I got eaten by a giant snake and had to bust my way out.” He said proudly. “Woah, who’s the snake guy?”

“Naru-chan! Just in time!”

“Welcome Naruto. Congratulations on your stunning defeat of my giant snake friend.”

“We can’t fight him! We need to go!” Sasuke shouted. The too realistic genjutsu of their deaths and the sheer power the enemy was displaying had shaken him. If anything happened to either of them…he wasn’t strong enough to protect them. They needed to run. He turned to the snake-guy. “Here! Take our scroll and go!”

“Sasuke! What the fuck are you doing?”

Naruto intercepted the scroll just as Sasuke tossed it to the man. “He’s just going to try and kill us anyway Teme! There’s no point-!”

“Kukukuku. Naruto-kun is right you know. Why bother bargaining for your lives when I can just kill you and take your scroll?” He smeared blood on his arm and an even larger snake was summoned. Naruto was just about to attack and was hit, flying back with blood spraying out of his mouth as his eyes took their demon form.

“Shit!” Kira shouted. The snake-guy looked on intrigued and Sasuke called out to his friend. No no no. Naruto couldn’t lose control. Not now. The snake was coming for him but then the blonde stopped it with sheer force of will. Sasuke stared in awe at his animalistic traits and emanating power he was witnessing for the first time.

“C’mon Teme.” Naruto’s appearance was feral. His whiskers were dramatically thicker, red slit eyes, fangs and claws. “We’re here to fuck shit up, remember?”

An impossibly long tongue reached down and pulled Naruto up. He took the scroll Naruto had retrieved from Sasuke and destroyed it. The snake-guy apparently knew Naruto was a jinchuuriki, shit. He lifted Naruto’s shirt to expose his seal on his stomach and summoned chakra in his fingertips.

Kira ran past him towards the snake and started making hand signs. “Lightning sty-” It was too late. The man slammed his hand into Naruto’s stomach, who screamed out in pain and passed out. “Naru-! Shit!” He then tossed the boy carelessly and Kira jumped after him, catching and carrying him to safety. She lifted his shirt and tried to heal him. “Sasuke! Stop fucking around and get your shit together damnit!”

Sasuke was bombarded with thoughts of his brother, calling him a weak, dishonorable coward for clinging to life. He was weak, and Naruto had gotten hurt because of him. Kira was bound to be next if he continued on this path of cowardice. He needed to save them before this freak killed them too. If he ran from this, how was he supposed to face his brother? If they died, what would be his purpose in living anyway? He snapped out of it and activated his sharingan, now with three tomoe in each eye.

“Kira, let me handle this.” She grunted but gave a short nod.

“Kukukuku. Excellent Sasuke-kun. Come now, show me everything you’ve got.” The snake-man demanded.

The Uchiha obliged, attacking relentlessly because their lives depended on it and he would not lose. He refused to lose another precious person, especially to someone as disgusting as this. The man was fast, but Sasuke kept up, eventually trapping the man with ninja wire and employing the fire dragon flame technique, resulting in a hot blast of flames directly onto the man’s face.

Which then started to melt off.

“No…” Kira whispered. She picked up Naruto and shunshined to Sasuke. “It’s Orochimaru! Sasuke, you need to run! Protect Naruto and go now! I’ll find you later!” She handed him Naruto and took a protective stance in front of them. He took the boy over his right shoulder but refused to leave.

“No, I’m not leaving you!”

“Kukuku, I’m honored you finally recognized me princess. I’d love to play with you, but unfortunately my time is almost up here. I just have a little present to give to Sasuke-kun before I go.” His neck then became impossibly long and lunged straight for him.

Kira slammed her fist into Orochimaru’s head and it went flying back through the tree behind it and dragging his body along with it.

“Mother fucker I said GO NOW!”

“And I fucking said I’m not leaving you woman!”

Orochimaru appeared again with an angry glare in his eyes. “So, you truly are her apprentice then. I should have known better than to underestimate you.”

“You have no idea.” She said with a deadly calm that made Sasuke take a step back. “I’m going to kill you and bathe in your fucking blood!” She screamed, igniting her cold white chakra and ran towards him, aiming another fist for the man’s stomach. He dodged and snaked his head around to latch himself on her neck, biting down as she screamed in pain. Her chakra instantly dissipated and she fell limp.

“Akirama! Get away from her!” Sasuke flew into a rage and ran towards them but then the man detached himself and his head went towards Sasuke. Before he could dodge the man had bitten the left side of his exposed neck. Sasuke screamed and crumpled to his knees, Naruto dropping to his side.

“What…what did you do?”

“Kukuku, like I said, just a parting gift. I wasn’t planning on giving out two of them but considering I’d be a fool to pass up this opportunity, well…let’s just say your blood lusts and bloodlines are strong enough that both of you may actually survive this. I sincerely hope that is the case, wherein, I shall be seeing you two soon.”

 

White hot burning chakra flooded her where the snake bit her. She could hear Sasuke’s screams outside next to her body but she was consumed by her own pain and locked within herself. A voice, soft and familiar…Mama…called her name from deep in the dark, telling her to hold on, to fight. A second, darker and more ominous answered…Orochimaru…claiming her as his own. It was followed by a third that thundered above the others, frightening and transcendent…Death…she was promised to that voice, it’s servant. There were other voices, far away, she didn’t know them.

At once she felt the source of Orochimaru’s voice being destroyed, disintegrating within her though she felt the pain of every molecules dissolution on a massive scale. She screamed aloud in pain. Death’s voice laughed at her. The first voice, Mama, begged her forgiveness, and the warm brightness of her chakra returned, soothing her, cleansing her pathways and the voices ceased.

She opened her eyes to the forest. Sasuke was huddled over in pain next to her, Naruto passed out on his other side. She put her arms around him and he looked up, the agony clear in his eyes. “Sasuke…” she whispered, tears flowing freely. “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you, please, please forgive me.”

He looked defeated. “No...I…argghhh!” he doubled over and dug his hands into the base of the tree as if it were nothing but lose soil. She summoned her chakra and channeled it into him, trying to sooth his pain. He settled and finally passed out, leaving her alone.

A while later Kira had set up a base camp of sorts under a large tree. The boys were both passed out, and she was currently too weak to move them and fight potential enemies now. Her body had somehow rid itself of the seal Orochimaru had placed on her completely, but something was different inside her now. Sasuke wasn’t so lucky. She could feel the disgusting chakra in the seal corrupting his chakra network, taking over. Converting it. An examination of Naruto’s seal had been locked with an elemental seal that was out of her depth as well. She had no choice but to wait until the blonde junior seal master woke up so he could figure out how to fix this. Fuck.

Orochimaru was a monster. He had masked his true chakra the entire time up until his face was revealed and then it hit her all at once. It was equal to that of Tsunade, massive and sinister. She should have known by all the snake summons, but she was distracted, too focused on the stupid insignificant exam to see the forest for the trees.

There were three ninja nearby. Formidable, but she could take them if she called upon her power. They were likely going to attack as soon as the opportunity presented itself, when they assumed she was the weakest, but Kira would be ready. She gathered the personal chakra replenishing seals Naruto had made for them and set them on her teammates and herself and waited.

At dawn. Kira had never been grateful for her terrible sleeping habits until that point. Her experiences with going days without rest had always been a nuisance, but now she realized they were just another aspect of training. Launching a kunai on reflex at a squirrel who was approaching, she sighed and returned to her vigil. She smirked to herself as she felt them approach. They took the bait. This was going to be fun.

“Poor thing, you’ve been up all night standing guard, right? You can rest now, just hand over Sasuke so we can kill him and we’ll let you live.” It was the three sound ninja who attacked Kabuto. The ones with something to prove and lacked self-control. Oh goody.

“Hmph. First Orochimaru, now you guys? I’m starting to think my conceited teammate was right about everyone wanting a piece of his ass.” The three ninja looked startled at the mention of Orochimaru’s name. So, they probably work for him then…well that just makes things easier. “If you want him, come get him, if you’re brave enough to try, that is.”

The group launched forward and triggered several well-placed explosion tags, a storm of kunai and a web of ninja wire that snapped inward, nearly slicing off on of the ninjas limbs but succeeding in several minor injuries. Damn, they’re faster than anticipated. They were angry though, which was good. She was about to engage when a flurry of leaves appeared and a voice shouted “Leaf Hurricane!” knocking the ninja on their asses.

“What the f-”

“Who are you kid?” the leader of the sound ninja asked.

“Konoha’s Handsome Blue Beast! Rock Lee!” Striking his dramatic pose.

Kira sweat dropped. “Uh, no offense, but what are you doing here Lee-kun?”

The boy turned and blushed. “You are a fellow ninja of the leaf and Konoha’s beautiful princess, it will be my honor to defend you my lady.” He winked and Kira blinked. Seriously?

“Umm…it’s ok, really…I can handle this-”

“Please! I insist! I will not take no for an answer! Attend to your teammates, I will not allow these ninjas to harm you!”

Lee didn’t wait for her response as he immediately engaged the others in a destructive fight, Kira took a guarded position over the two sleeping boys and launched weapons at the enemy ninja when they were vulnerable. Taking the opportunity to gather more of her chakra and centering it, easing the chaos within her and channeling it, she realized something was definitely different, she could never control it like this before…perhaps…

Her attention was drawn to Lee’s ferocious fight. The Forward Lotus technique stunned her. But it was his determination that reminded her of Naruto. She smirked. As the student of her sensei’s rival, she expected nothing less.

As Lee fell to the floor, injured from the bandaged nin’s sound attack, Kira growled low and threateningly. She felt Cherry Darling and her team close-by. Too close. That was it. She may not remember this village, or have any friends other than the two boys passed out behind her, but she was Akirama Senju, granddaughter of Tobirama Senju. This village was her home, and the people here her people. She would no longer stand by and let others fight for her. She was a warrior, not a princess. Time to get her own shit together.

“That’s enough.” Her voice was thickly laced with chakra forcing everyone who heard it to freeze in place. “Lee-kun, thank you for your help, but you are injured and I refuse to allow any more harm to come to you. I will take it from here. I will not take no for an answer. Please stand guard over my teammates, and let absolutely no one to approach them other than myself, even if they hail from the leaf. We have been deceived by those disguised as friends before, I would not like it to happen again.”

She hoped this would deter the other girls from approaching and endangering themselves. The other leaf genin were no match for these assholes. Lee-kun was much stronger than any of them, and he had gone down. She looked over to where Team 10 was hiding and shook her head, subtly giving a hand signal to stay back. She saw the pineapple headed boy and the blonde girl nod in understanding and turned back towards Lee.

“My lady…”

“Now, Lee-kun. As your princess-" she cringed internally at the word, "-that is an order. Do not interfere, no matter what.” She asserted as much authority as possible in her voice. He nodded and she released him from the genjutsu with a wave, allowing him to stumble over to the others where he passed out immediately. Still facing the enemy, she smiled and harnessed her other chakra. “Now then, shall we dance?”

 

Team 10 were still frozen in place as Kira began to emit an insane amount of chakra, blindingly white, freezing and immense and none of them had even experienced anything like it before. She laughed as the sound ninja attacked at incredible speed, matching them perfectly and hacking into their flesh with just a kunai.

“You bitch!” the female screamed and lunged at the same time as one of the males and their weapons sliced into Kira. She had deep, bloody gashes all around her body from the senbon one of them had launched but she was still smiling, still laughing. It was a dance. She was playing with them. Shikamaru shuddered.

Suddenly, her head snapped towards a nearby tree and she gave the same head and hand signal to stay put. Shikamaru figured some other genin had showed, likely that Lee kid’s team. Shit. She punched one of the guys who had taken the opportunity to slice a large gash into her face and he flew back into the ground making a crater where he landed. “What the fuck” Ino whispered in awe. Kira then grabbed the woman by her wrist and twisted it around, placing her into a submissive position,

“You think any of you are a match for me? That any of the genin here are even on my level?” she asked as she held her weapon to the throat of the female. Her voice was extremely odd. The woman was on her knees, Kira’s foot dug into her back and her hand held behind her back by Kira’s crushing grip. Choji cringed as she heard the bones break when the girl applied force. The other two sound nin stared in shock. “You came here to kill Sasuke on your master’s orders. You think I’ll just sit here and let you take what’s mine?”

She pressed the blade into the woman’s flesh and growled. “You think that I will allow you to hurt anyone else from the leaf?” Her eyes, the sclera of which were now black for some reason, flicked towards where Team 10 was and up into the trees again before settling back on the sound ninja. “You think I will allow you to get away with your actions?” She laughed, several octaves joined in terrorizing harmony. “You are fools. And you will die in this forest.” Sakura audibly gasped as the blade sliced clean through the woman’s neck, severing her head from her body.

The bandaged ninja held up his hands, a scroll in one of them. “Please, we concede! We’ll give you the scroll if you just-”

Kira body-flickered behind the man, taking the scroll and placing a hand on his head. “Arigato.” A deafening crack was heard and Kira returned to her original position before the man crumpled to the ground.

“Sasuke-kun!” Sakura cried. Ino’s head snapped to attention as she saw her crush standing up slowly, but something was wrong with him. Sakura moved to go towards him but Ino stopped her. The pink girl thrashed but Ino and Shikamaru held her down.

“Don’t Sakura, it’s too dangerous!” he whisper-yelled.

“That monster girl is going to kill him! We need to save him!” she argued.

“No Sakura,” Ino countered. “…they’re-”

“Akirama.” Sasuke’s deep baritone voice broke their discussion. They looked over and saw Sasuke surrounded by an immense, dark, ominous chakra, half his face and body covered in strange markings. “Who did this to you?” he asked, eyeing the remaining sound nin. “Who hurt my love?”

Sakura and Ino gasped and the last of the sound ninja spoke up. “Ah Sasuke! Finally!” He laughed madly, all traces of sanity and hope gone. “It was us kid! What are you-?”

In a flash Sasuke had attacked the guy, beating him senseless and then launching a fire jutsu with shuriken and kunai hidden in the flames. The man dodged barely but was cut up, bruised and burnt. Before he could launch a counterattack, Sasuke was behind him, one foot on his back and holding his two arms at a sickening angle, breaking him slowly. “No one touches her. No one hurts what is mine and lives.” Sasuke growled.

The screams of pain seemed to break Kira out of whatever trance she was in. She blinked, the sclera of her eyes turning white again, and looked at her bloody hands and then at Sasuke before she appeared to register what was happening. She body-flickered over to Sasuke and put her arms around him. “Sasuke! Stop! This isn’t you!” The white chakra emitted from her entire body was different than it had been before. Before it was cold and threatening, this was warm and calming. Shikamaru narrowed his eyes. Seriously, what the fuck was going on here?

 

The marks receded from Sasuke’s body and he felt his chakra return to normal, leaning back briefly into her embrace. The sound ninja had passed out from his injuries, but he was still alive. Sasuke felt her clutch him tightly and sob. He turned around and cupped her bloody face. “Kira, baby, what the fuck happened? Are you alright? Where’s Naruto?”

“He’s okay, we…were attacked by that snake fuckers’ henchmen…they wanted to kill you…Lee-kun fought for us but after he was hurt I…couldn’t let the other’s intervene. I used the last of my strength to…” she passed out in his arms and he cursed. Looking over to where Naruto and Lee were he made a mental note to thank the weird hair-cut kid for protecting Kira. She must have used her ‘other self’ as Kakashi called it. But this was more controlled then she had said it was in the past, what had changed?

“Sasuke-kun!” Sakura cried, jumping up from her hiding place before Ino or the others could stop her and running to him. “I’m so glad you’re ok!”

Sasuke looked up and glared at the pink haired girl, stopping her in her tracks. She reached a hand out to touch him and he snapped. “Get away from us Sakura.”

She looked at him with big green eyes and her teammates walked up behind her. Shikamaru placed a hand on her shoulder and addressed him. “We’re sorry Sasuke. But your teammate…she signaled for us not to interfere. She made it clear she didn’t want anyone else to get hurt after what happened to Lee.”

Ino put her hands up and smiled softly. “I can heal her, if you want. I have medical supplies and I know some basic medical ninjutsu, I can stop the bleeding at least and treat her minor wounds, if that’s ok.”

He eyed her suspiciously then glanced back at Kira before nodding. Ino approached cautiously and began healing her while Sakura held back, sniffling softy. Choji offered her some chips but she refused and Shikamaru went over to where Naruto and Lee were, Choji following.

“Can I kick him awake?” Choji asked.

“Harm the dobe and I’ll kill you.” Sasuke warned. The chubby boy and the Nara kid stiffened, the latter leaning down to gently shake the sleeping blonde awake.

Naruto grumbled and then jumped up in fear. “Everybody down! Where is he? Where’d he go?”

“Naruto you idiot!” Sakura yelled and stomped over to slug him.

“That warning goes for you as well Sakura.” Ino stilled and looked at him curiously, but his eyes were focused on Naruto. “He’s gone, usuratonkachi. Shut up and toss me a RC scroll for Kira and use another to heal Lee.”

Naruto blinked and looked behind him where an unconscious Lee lay. He shrugged and sat down, taking out two of Kira’s chakra replenishing scrolls and tossing one over his shoulder without looking to Sasuke who caught it reflexively and rolled out the other, activating it and healing the other boy. Sasuke unrolled his and carefully lifted up Kira’s shirt to expose her stomach. Ino made a scandalized noise but he ignored her, applying the scroll directly to her chakra center. Since it was her own chakra stored in the seal, it would work faster and better applied directly.

A girl with two buns on her head dropped down from a nearby tree and identified herself as Lee’s teammate Tenten. Lee woke up and started asking where the sound nin were. Naruto had no idea who he was talking about and Shikamaru explained that Kira and Sasuke defeated them. Lee looked on in awe at the pair, and Naruto narrowed his eyes.

“Sasuke, what-”

“Later, Naruto.”

The others looked on curiously at them. Sasuke ignored them all and turned back to the girl in his arms. Ino finished up her work at the same time as the scroll.

“Fuckery.” Kira stirred in his arms and sat up stiffly.

“Kira-chan!” Naruto jumped up and ran over to them and Lee followed with just as much enthusiasm. Sasuke wondered if the two were long-lost brothers or something. “You ok? You look like shit.”

“Naruto! That’s no way to speak to a lady!” Ino scolded. Shikamaru, Choji and Tenten followed and looked on amused.

“That is correct Naruto-kun! Princess Akirama is a Lady of Konoha!” Lee shouted.

Kira laughed and reached a hand out to pinch one of the blonde’s cheeks. “Still better looking than you Naru-chan.” Sasuke pulled her against his chest protectively. Lee may have defended Kira when he couldn’t but the guy was too familiar. “Hello Lee-kun! Are you alright?”

“I am alright princess! I am honored by your concern, but I must apologize for my weakness. I failed to protect you adequately from those fiends!” He cried dramatically and hung his head in shame.

“Seriously Lee-kun, it’s ok. I would have preferred you not to have gotten involved at all but…I am grateful to you for your help. You are certainly a brave and strong shinobi.” Lee blushed and Sasuke tightened his grip on her waist. “And please, just Kira is ok. I’m not much of a princess or a lady really.” She smiled.

Sakura scoffed and muttered something under her breath but Ino surprised him by shooting Sakura a glare. “You were kinda scary but really badass, Kira-chan.” The blonde kunoichi spoke up, offering Kira a genuine smile. Kira looked at her and blinked before returning the girls smile.

“Oh thanks…um…?”

“Yamanaka Ino.” She held out her hand and Kira shook it. “I can definitely see why Sasuke chose you. I’d be mad about losing his heart to you but if I’m honest none of the rest of us ever really stood a chance to begin with.” She shrugged and flipped her pony-tail over her shoulder, gathering her supplies and getting to her feet.

Kira laughed and shook her head. “Um thank you I guess? It’s nice to meet you, Ino-chan.”

 

Naruto eyed his companions warily and rubbed his hands over his face. Seriously, what the fuck. “So let me get this straight. That snake bastard-”

“Orochimaru, Dobe.”

“Snake bastard. He wants you guys for some reason, and so he gave you hickies-”

“Curse seals, Naru-chan.”

“Hicky-seals. And Kira-chan’s weird chakra thing destroyed hers, but Sasuke-Teme’s is still there, and it’s corrupting his chakra and making him think bad thoughts, like kill kill kill, and the snake bastard also placed a five-prong seal over my kyuubi seal to prevent me from accessing its chakra?”

“That about sums it up.”

“Hn.”

“Well…shit.”

“So can you fix it?”

“I mean…kinda…”

“Usuratonkachi. ‘Kinda’?”

“That sounds soooo promising.”

“Fuck you guys! At least I’m trying!”

Team 7 sat in their room in the tower. After they left Team 10 and Lee’s team they set off there, hiding their chakra and scents completely and taking out four other teams along the way, laying an abundance of traps. Four out of the fifteen total clones they sent out returned with scrolls too, which they destroyed on the spot. Nine other clones had disappeared some time ago and there were two more wandering about likely setting up traps and wreaking havok.

When they got there, they opened their original scrolls and Iruka popped out, greeting them happily then with horror at their state of being. After assuring him they were fine, Naruto sealed the room and demanded they discuss important matters. As in, what the fuck happened back there, because Naruto was not about to wait another second in the dark.

He crossed his arms in protest as Sasuke stared impassively back at him. Kira sighed and pulled out a food storage scroll and began setting up some dinner. Resigned to his fate, he huffed and addressed his sister.

“Ok, ok. Exactly what happened again with your hicky-curse Kira-chan?”

“From what I can figure, there’s like, a bit of my mother’s chakra inside me and also a bit of the Shinigami’s…something. The Shinigami’s thing dissolved or ate or basically destroyed Orochimaru’s chakra before it could assimilate to the rest of my network. My mom’s chakra, or what I’m assuming was her chakra, destroyed the rest of it.”

“Wow. Ok. That’s…um…”

“Insane.”

“I was going to say fucking bat-shit-crazy but yeah, insane works.”

“How do you think I feel? I mean, shit guys. It’s the fucking reaper. What the hell kind of deal did my apparent fucking bat-shit-crazy mother make with the bastard that there’s literally a part of him inside me?”

“I think the better question would be, what kind of enemy would warrant such a drastic measure?”

“Teme is right. That’s like, some serious fire-power you got there. Who knows what the hell we’re going to be up against.”

“We?”

“Hn.”

“Yeah ‘we’. Get over it. If we can help Teme defeat Itachi then we can help you defeat whatever or whoever it is you’re supposed to go up against. Sheesh. Anyway, the good news is you can control it better now, right?”

“I mean…kinda. I still killed two of those guys, remember? Anyway, what about Ducky-chan?”

“They were going to kill us. Their deaths were warranted.”

“Agreed. Well, we can isolate the snake bastard’s chakra and destroy that now. It will take a lot of chakra on our part but we can do it so he won’t be whispering ‘kill kill’ every five seconds. Then we can have Kakashi-sensei seal the other part of it later when we see him so Sasuke can access his chakra without activating it.”

“What will happen if I use chakra in the meantime?”

“It will corrupt your system further. It’s like it’s terraforming your chakra network every time you use it.”

“What the fuck is the point of that?”

“No idea babe, but it can’t be good.”

“No shit babe. What about Naruto?”

“I’ll need Kakashi-sensei’s help with that too. I don’t think I can do it myself since it’s you know…the kyuubi and all.”

“Ugh. We really need to get stronger so we kill that snake fucker the next time we see him. He’s just fucking our shit up left and right. Asshole cock-blocked the fox and gave my boyfriend a hicky-curse.”

Naruto made a scrunchy face. “Eww nee-chan! Don’t say it like that!”

She laughed at him and pinched his whiskers. He both hated and loved when she did that.

“Agreed on both counts. Orochimaru needs to die and that is definitely a gross way of putting things. I’m not too fond of the fact he gave you a hicky-seal too love. So are we doing this now then?”

“Yeah, yeah, let’s do this before you guys make me puke from all this romantic crap.”

“Shut up. I’ve seen you read those trashy romance novels Baka-sensei loves, you’ve got no room to complain.”

Naruto flushed and waved his hands frantically. “That was research dattebayo!”

“Hn. Liar.”

The blonde grumbled and got into position. Sometimes he really wished his friends weren’t so observant. He definitely was a sucker for romance but he didn’t want them to know that. As if them catching him in his purple froggy boxers last week wasn’t bad enough! Can a guy not have at least one secret? Was nothing sacred anymore?

Nope.