Hello everybody! It's I, SunMoon, saying hello to all my friends on FF!
Lol, I'm referencing kiddie stuff now, how sad.
Massive thanks for helping me to reach one hundred reviews and I'm so proud to be one of your writers. It makes me happy to know that people read this and enjoy it! Hugs and kisses of thanks and love! Xxx ooo~!
As for the whole waiting period…sorry? I can really only update on weekends but I have actually wrote this over a series of days, before – tonight – writing a massive haul that took me nearly five thousand words and two hours to write. I can state now, that at least I'm dedicated to giving you all a chapter!
Also, special note, this is a chapter of massive proportions. This biggest one yet! Hope you're happy! I'm aiming for over seven thousand – which was my last record – but we don't know until I finish, do we?
So yeah, here's another chapter of my twisted story. Read it, love it and hate it. It's all fun and games here. (Until someone dies...)
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto, but he's finally going to make a reappearance in this chapter. Huzzah! It's always great when the character who has the series named after him doesn't show up in your story at all for around five to six thousand words!
Warning: So much swearing your eyes will burn. And sexual innuendo, maybe…
3rd Person P.O.V.
Alice smiled cheerfully into the foliage of a nearby tree, Team Ten and the two awake team members of Team Seven following her train of sight to three figures that stood on a tree branch.
"It seems like we have been spotted my youthful teammates! It would be rude not to greet them appropriately!" There was a boisterous laugh that followed the booming voice and one of the figures leapt down to reveal a green-clad, Rock Lee.
"Hello, Lee." A wave was offered to him by a relaxed looking Alice. Like she hadn't just talked to a crazed and murderous Sasuke, or managed to convince an enemy team to…fuck off.
Lee's eyes lit up at the mention of his name and his teeth gleamed happily at Alice. "Ah! You are Alice, are you not?! It's a pleasure to meet you again, youthful flower of Konoha!"
"Youthful flower of Konoha," mused Alice. "I like it!"
"Of course you would…" muttered Sasuke as he began to help a weak Sakura stand up. "You're insane, so of course you'll like weird things…"
Alice's ear twitched at his hissed comments, but she didn't turn from her position of staring up at a still hidden Neji and Tenten. "What are you guys waiting for? A bloody invitation? Get the fuck down here and let's have a lovely chat. Naruto-chan should be waking up soon and I'd like to get the whole explanation shit out of the way when we're all gathered."
There was a collective wince from the awake team members of Team Seven. At seeing the slightly appalled faces of Ino and Chōji, both Sasuke and Sakura wished deeply them that their friend could develop some more tact in the manner she spoke. Majority of them were only twelve after all.
"Such crass language." A haughty voice echoed from the trees and Neji leapt down from the trees gracefully, closely followed by his female teammate, Tenten. "It's uncouth for such language to be spoken in the company of others, foreigner."
Alice snorted softly and tossed her ponytail at the Hyūga. "You say foreigner like it's an insult, Hyūga. And besides, this place may not be America, but it's still a free country. I can speak however the fuck I want."
'America…?' Shikamaru's brow furrowed in thought of this new information. 'Another strange name that I haven't heard before. What was the name of the other place Alice often speaks about? Oustrayria? Where are these places? They're certainly not in the Elemental Nations. Where exactly is Alice from…?'
Ignorant to her companion's thoughts, Alice cocked her head to the side and let a massive grin cross her face. "Naruto's up!"
Sure enough, a groan was heard and the collected teams turned to the tree hollow nearby to see the previously unconscious blond slowly begin to wake up.
"My head is killing me! What the hell did I do today?" Naruto's grumbling broke off into unintelligible whining as he shakily stood up and brushed his orange jumpsuit down. He seemed oblivious to the gazes directed towards him as he stopped his dusting down in order to look around the hollow. "Actually…where am I?"
"Usuratonkachi…" Sasuke's mutter was heard loud and clear, loud enough for Naruto to hear. (A/N: Gosh golly dang, look at that. I can rhyme.)
The young blond instantly snapped his head towards Sasuke, his teeth bared for an insult that quickly died on his lips as he took in the sight of a bunch of people he knew. "Um…hello?"
"Hiya, Naruto-chan!" Alice stepped forward out of the group and approached the confused boy cheerfully. "Did you have a nice nap? I know Sasuke-chan did!"
Sakura had to choke back a laugh at the look of horror that crossed Ino's face at Alice's casual way of speaking about her crush. Like he was only a little brat she had to watch over and he had decided to sleep the afternoon away, much to Alice's annoyance and inconvenience.
"Kids got spunk," Tenten smirked as she watched Alice calmly answer Naruto's quickly fired off questions.
"That is not, spunk, Tenten." Neji replied her, the unfamiliar and commoner word rolling off his tongue like acid. "That is her terrible attitude, much like the blond failure with her."
Tenten sufferingly rolled her eyes at her teammate's negative comments. 'Maybe Neji needs Gai-sensei to fire up his power of youth.' As she caught sight of Lee joining in the shouting match that was developing between Alice, Naruto and Ino, she had to supress a shiver. 'But I can pass if he ends up making another Lee…'
"As interesting the topic is about how to address Sasuke properly," Shikamaru's voice cut across the verbal battle that had sprung up and the participants quickly quietened to look at him expectantly. "Don't we have manners of business to discuss?"
"Yeah," Chōji muttered around a mouthful of chips he had just stuffed into his mouth. "Like what was up with that freaky energy around Sasuke."
Said male rubbed his neck in phantom pain before stopping quickly as everyone's gaze turned to him. "I see no reason why I should explain myself, it's none of your business."
Shikamaru's eyes were hard as flint when he looked at Sasuke. "It's our business if it's a threat to our village."
There was an uneasy silence at that and many people shifted to a fight-or-flight position at his words.
"Woah, woah, woah!" Naruto cut into the silence with his sharp words. "It would be great and all if we were all on the same page here! What the hell is up with Sasuke?!" The blond let out a huff of angry air through his nose as he got no answer. Deciding that he couldn't wait for someone to answer him willingly, he turned to his most wealthy source of information. "Sakur-!"
Naruto's words were cut off by himself, his arms flying out to grab Sakura's own forearms in surprise. "What happened to you Sakura-chan?! You're hurt! We got to get you fixed up right away! Quick! Why isn't anyone helping her?! I bet it's all your fault, Sasuke-teme!"
The atmosphere relaxed at the spew of words that was expelled from the obnoxious mouth of one Naruto. Team Gai discreetly relaxed their bodies from their ready stances. They didn't whether or not they could trust these rookies after all. They were yet to prove their loyalty to the Will of Fire.
It took three hits to the head – courtesy of Sasuke – before Naruto could calm down enough for Alice to explain what had happened while he was unconscious. And as seeing that the other two Konoha teams were interested as well, Alice decided to just sit down on a tree stump to explain it to everyone.
"I beg your pardon for my rather cold attitude earlier on. Or my rather…insane comments." Alice frowned to herself before locking gazes with a knowing Shikamaru. "It's a problem I have, and one that may not be resolved for a while, so I hope that anything I do in the future will not be too surprising for you."
"More surprising than the power of youth?" Tenten cocked an eyebrow at Alice as she leant coolly against a nearby tree trunk. "I highly doubt you could have anything more surprising or scaring than that." The girl studiously ignored the whimpers emitting from Lee with practised ease.
Alice's lips pursed as if she was about to say something but she quickly shook her head and her expression cleared. "That doesn't especially matter now. What matters, is that we currently have an S-class nuke-nin, psychopath running freely around Konoha."
There was a collected muttering of disbelief before it dispersed as Alice opened her mouth again.
"Orochimaru-sama is here in Konoha, and is quite able to put on the face of other people and blend into a crowd."
There was shocked silence at the mention of their biggest nuke-nin. He was feared by many in Konoha. Adults hoping that he would never return to snatch their babes from their cradle; to do horrible things to them.
Naruto was confused by who Orochimaru was, but he gathered that he was bad news by the way the others spoke his name in fear, and mainly by the fact that he had Sasuke.
There was a slight coughing noise as Alice drew the group of genins attention back to her. She stared at them steadily, trying to convey several unspoken messages. "Trust no one. Not even others from Konoha."
The gathered genin all shared mistrustful looks and shuffled away from each other, invisible lines dividing them into their team cells.
"Except other rookies," Shikamaru inputted. "Others from our academy classes I mean."
An agreeing nod came from Alice as she hooked a foot around her other legs ankle. "You can trust your classmates, the Will of Fire is strong in them and they will serve Konoha well."
A dubious snort came from Ino, "I can't help but doubt that." The female blonde fisted her hands on her hips and narrowed blue eyes at Alice. "And I also can't help but doubt anything that comes out of your mouth. You're some foreigner that we know nothing about. Who's to say you're not some enemy spy!"
Protests were instantly released from Naruto and Sakura's mouth as they tried to protect their friend's reputation, but a look from Alice silenced them.
"You're quite right Yamanaka-san." Alice stood up from the stump and walked over to Ino, towering over her in a way that set Ino's hairs on end. "No one can trust someone who opposes their home, or doesn't come from it. I have yet to place my loyalties in this place, but know this now; for those that I cherish, I will go to the ends of the Earth to keep them safe." Finishing with green eyes that seemed to glow with her words, Alice shifted into a short bow of respect to the surprised Ino. "I mean you no offence, but I also warn you. Don't touch what is mine." The brunette relaxed her bow and stepped away from Ino, before she turned away from the group and headed towards the hollow. "I will be back shortly. There are some things I wish to grab."
Silence fell again as Alice entered the inky blackness that blanketed the inside of the broken tree; until a snicker slipped out of Sakura's mouth.
"Care to tell us what is so funny?" Neji asked with a bland tone and cold eyes.
Sakura managed to swallow the smile that was trying its best to split her bruised face into two. "No. Just old memories of when Alice has said that. Don't be offended or scared. She's very possessive of things she deems to be hers."
Neji didn't blink at her reply. "And what would be hers?"
There was a simple lifting of Sakura's shoulders that managed to convey duh, are you stupid or blind? "Us. My team and Kakashi-sensei."
There was sense of awkward silence as no one knew how to respond to such a strange comment. Who had heard of someone that thought of people as objects? To be kept and collected, like trinkets and toys of affection.
"Is there anything else you guys want to know?"
A collected shudder rippled through the group as they were roused out of their thoughts and their consciousness became focused towards a grinning Alice that was advancing towards them. Clutters of things hanging out of one hand as the other scrabbled around in one of her ninja pouches. She stopped beside Sasuke and devoted her attention to pulling several scrolls out of the pouches.
"No. Not that one. There's the one with food. Full. Got stuff in it. Aha!" She exclaimed in triumphant and grabbed a plain scroll gleefully, "this one is empty!" The girl ignored the strange looks she was getting and quickly dropped down into a cross-legged position on the ground so that she could dump the odd bits and pieces that Team Seven had left onto the ground.
Unravelling the scroll with her left and biting her right thumb at the same time, Alice pushed the clutter onto a seal matrix that took up the centre of the scroll. "Seal." Swiping the bloodied thumb in gestures that no one recognised next to the objects, a puff of smoke went up and cleared to show no more objects.
"So you know sealing scrolls," Tenten said appreciatively as she eyed the strange language on the scroll that Alice was once again rolling up. "Nice."
A noncommittal noise came from Alice's throat as she stored her supplies away and stood up. "I'll ask again; any questions?"
"Rude," scoffed Ino. "Why would we need to ask you anything anyway?"
"Ino," Chōji tried to placate. "Just relax and stop being mean to the girl." He turned from the shocked choking noise Ino made and smiled slightly at Alice. "I'm Chōji, and my question is; what should we do about this…situation?"
Shikamaru nodded approvingly at his teammate's question. "Chōji's right. What are we going to do? Tell our superiors? Stay quiet? Tell us Alice, what do you want us to do?"
Scowling at the nosiness of his comrades, Sasuke spoke up for the first time in the conversation. "Stay quiet, for now, of course. We aren't sure of our information. We've only got the assurance of an insane girl who pretended to be dead."
Hiding the flinch at Sasuke's harsh words, Alice donned a cool façade and stayed quiet. She could tell that Shikamaru was better for this conversation. He was a strategist and was trusted by majority of the group. She, on the other hand, was a crazy chick that most of them had only met just now. Yep, she was totally the best person to get to explain a delicate situation as this. 'Damn Sasuke...'
"Well, Sasuke," Shikamaru began slightly coldly. "I believe that we should tell Hokage-sama about this. You're only disagreeing because of that – what was it called again – cursed mark."
A sharp intake of breath from Sasuke was the only sign of that comment meaning anything. The collected genin had no clue what Shikamaru meant; only Sakura had a sneaking suspicion of what he meant.
And of course; Alice.
"Shut up Nara," Sasuke growled, eyes flashing dangerously.
There was no sign that Shikamaru was intimidated by the boy, his eyelids just slid lazily over his dark eyes. "Whatever that thing is Sasuke, it's bad news. If – and I'm only assuming – you've just got it and you're already breaking arms and slamming friends into trees, then that seal is doing something to your mind. Something bad. I'm also assuming that your teams encounter with Orochimaru resulted in it. Meaning, you've gotten an unknown seal imprinted onto you by a twisted man who only wishes for Konoha – your homelands – downfall. So tell me Sasuke," Shikamaru looked on steadily. "If it's not so bad, then why are you doing bad things?"
Sasuke merely gritted his teeth and turned away, hand unconsciously going to the currently pulsing mark.
"Um," Naruto hesitantly began, "can someone tell me what's going on?"
"I agree with the youthful Naruto-san!" Lee's happy attitude lessened the serious atmosphere left over from Shikamaru's and Sasuke's conversation. "What is this cursed mark that is affecting Sasuke-sans mind?"
"It's a mind altering seal matrix, entwined with a seal that feeds off ones dark thoughts in order to power it." Alice's eyes were dark as she spoke. "But that isn't our concern right now. We should get to the finish of this part of the exams before we think out any more goals. We have roughly two to three days and I believe that all of us have the necessary scrolls, excluding Team Seven. Right?"
Shikamaru nodded beside Ino and Chōji, "we have ours, correct."
Sakura answered for Team Seven. "Unfortunately, Orochimaru…ate our heaven scroll, but we still have our earth." She shared a look between her two teammates, "and I'm certain that we can get a heaven scroll in quick time."
Naruto grinned heartily and gave a thumbs up. "Damn straight we can, dattebayo!"
There was no reply from Team Gai and Lee shifted nervously as he looked to Neji to answer the question. Although it wasn't spoken – or necessarily liked at times – Lee and Tenten knew that Neji was basically the leader of their team. He would be calm and collected enough to make the correct decisions for them.
"I concur," Neji said shortly, folding his arms across his chest. "We have our scrolls and I suggest that we continue this conversation at the tower in the centre of this forest. I am not done speaking with you, foreigner."
A quirk of Alice's lips was all the acknowledgement Neji needed. "Come, Lee, Tenten. If we want enough time to talk, we should get there already." The two mentioned genin nodded and leapt up to the treetops with Neji. There, Neji paused long enough to give Alice a look that she couldn't decipher. "Don't be late."
Then they were gone.
"Pity he's an asshole," sighed Ino as she stared after Neji. "He's pretty cute with his girly looks."
Sakura choked down the snort of disgust that threatened to crawl out of her mouth. Did she used to be like this when she talked about Sasuke? Sickeningly sweet and with that lovesick look in her eyes? Thank Kami for the long conversations she had previously with Alice and Kakashi-sensei. They were real eye-openers to her pathetic crush on someone who didn't like her back.
Now if only she could make Ino see, and to make sure Sasuke got the right girl. She had someone already in mind…
"We'll be taking our leave now," Shikamaru said shortly. "I will see you guys in the centre of this damn forest." He gave a half-hearted wave as he turned away and slouched towards nearby bushes.
A scoff came from Ino before she gave everyone a searching look, "bye." She gave a giggly wave and a wink to a repulsed Sasuke. "A special bye to you, Sasuke-kun~!" She gave off another round of giggles and sauntered off after Shikamaru, making sure to sway her hips as she did so.
The final member of Team Ten fidgeted with an empty chip packet before smiling softly at Team Seven and Alice. "I'll see you guys shortly. Don't…" The boys plump face furrowed as he moved away. "Don't die, okay?" The chubby boy fled the scene and his truthful words, his scarf trailing behind him.
"Wow," Naruto said, "I didn't know Chōji was so…"
"Compassionate?" Finished Alice. "He's a sweet boy, and a trustworthy companion. If you stand by him, his loyalty will serve you forever."
Sakura looked at her in confusion, "and, pray tell, how do you know this, Alice?"
There was a haunted look in Alice's eyes, like she wasn't really looking at Sakura, but at something only she could see. "Trust me, Sakura-chan. I know."
And Sakura did. Sakura trusted Alice. But sometimes, Sakura wasn't too sure. Sometimes, Alice seemed…off.
"Well," Alice snapped out of her daze with a clap of her hands. "I should be going. Teammates to find, exams to finish. You know, the usual." The brunette began to wander off, ignoring Naruto's confused tones. She leapt into the trees and disappeared.
"That was rather anticlimactic," Sakura noted idly as she began to channel healing chakra to her hands. "But then again, Alice is always one for the unsuspecting."
Sasuke could only grunt his agreement.
"Ne, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked cautiously. "Why are you only healing yourself now? You could've done it earlier and saved yourself pain."
"True," Sakura agreed as she began to heal the last bit of her ears. "But who was to say I wasn't already healing myself? I could hear you guys that whole time, couldn't I?"
Sasuke looked at her suspiciously. "You don't need to use your hands all the time, do you? When did you get so powerful, Sakura?"
A strange smile crossed Sakura's face. "A player never reveals their hands until it's their turn, Sasuke."
A taboo was being beaten out upon stone floor, steady and fast in its tempo. The foot the taboo belonged to was sandaled and strong, used to destroying trees and breaking stones. The room that echoed the taboo was large and bare; the greeting room of a certain tower in a certain forest.
"Lee," Tenten said in exasperation, "can you please stop tapping your foot? It's driving me mad!"
The bowl-cut boy blushed lightly and straightened his posture even more than usual, feet stilling. "I'm sorry, Tenten, that was most unyouthful of me. I am just anxious to see if the other teams will get here or not. Alice-san said that she would be here quickly, but there's only a couple of hours left until the end of this portion of the exam. Sasuke-san's team has already made it, yesterday in fact."
"I understand, Lee." Tenten placed a soothing hand on her friends shoulder. "I'm sure she'll show up soon."
"She better," stated Neji from his casual position leaning against a stone wall. "She swore that she would get here on time. Maybe fate decreed that she should die out there."
Both Lee and Tenten stayed silent; Neji's morose thoughts were never given an answer, it was an unspoken rule of Team Gai.
"Excuse me, Neji, Tenten," Lee gave a short bow. "But I believe that I will go and talk to Naruto-san again. He has most youthful attitude."
Tenten stepped closer to Lee, "I'll join you, Lee. I want to talk to that Sakura girl again. She's got a good kunoichi spirit, and that's pretty rare. She's an interesting gal." Tenten twisted to face Neji, "you coming, Neji?"
Tenten shrugged before tugging Lee's arm and leading him away. Neji would be able to find them in the tower with his Byakugan easily, they had no worries there.
A few moments of silence stretched on as Neji closed his eyes and leant quietly against the wall. No other teams had arrived for the past hour or so and Neji wanted the peace and quiet before what was guaranteed to be the last rush came through.
"I know you're there," Neji spoke – seemingly – to thin air. "Come out already."
Laughter echoed before a black-clad figure flipped gracefully down off their position on the ceiling. "Damn Byakugan. It can see everything, can't it?"
"It is the all-seeing eye," Neji replied dryly, eyes still closed.
"You know, it's rude not to look who you're talking to in the eye. I would ask if your parents ever taught you manners, but I don't want to be disrespectful if they're dead. And you are a Hyūga."
A scoff escaped Neji's lips and he opened his pale eyes to meet Alice's bright green ones. "Obviously your parents never taught you manners."
Alice hummed before she sat down cross-legged on the ground, right elbow propped up by her knee and cheek in her palm. "Whatever you say, genius."
"Foreigner," sneered Neji in reply. "What do you want?"
"Me?" Alice asked innocently, batting her eyes at him. "Well, since you're asking…I'm suggesting something along the lines of an alliance. I know you don't like me, and you know I don't like you, but we're both prepared to do whatever for our village, right?"
"Your village?" Asked Neji scathingly. "If you haven't noticed, you're a foreigner. I would never form an alliance with someone like you, no matter the gain."
Alice didn't reply for a moment, content to swirl her left index against the dust and dirt that had accumulated on the stone floor. "This alliance isn't for gain, Neji. This is to protect Konoha and its people."
Unconsciously, Neji's spine straightened. "What do you know?"
"I can not be certain, so I shall not throw out any accusations here." The index finger curled to reveal blackness. "Activate your Byakugan, I want to be completely alone. The walls have ears."
Irritated by the fact that he was being ordered, Neji activated his dōjutsu and scanned the walls and ceiling for any chakra sources. "There is nothing here."
"Keep it activated," Alice said sharply as Neji began to relax. "Just in case." Seeing Neji's eyes continue to have veins arcing away from them, Alice continued. "I have reasons to suspect a plot to attack Konoha. I only know that Oto is involved, although any other village could be involved. The invasion is planned around these exams for a reason; many involving the fact that many of their nin can come to Konoha under false pretence that they are there to watch their comrades fight. I don't know how many, or how they'll attack, so it's foolish to go to Sandaime-sama about this. That's what you were going to suggest we should do, wasn't it?" Alice cocked her head to the side as she studied the suddenly blank Hyūga.
"Remember this though, Neji; don't trust anyone. Even your superiors. We are shinobi for a reason and our jobs entail spying and infiltration, that could very well be happening in our village right now."
Neji only gave a terse nod at this dose of information; what else was he going to say? Alice had obviously thought over this before handing the information over to him, but…
Emerald eyes looked at him with amusement dancing in them. "Why you? Well, you are the most level-headed person I know about, either than Shikamaru. Your cold façade will also be useful in hiding the lies. I also expect you to get to the finals; that's where they are most likely to make their move."
Another terse nod.
"Has anyone else been informed?"
The emerald eyes shone brighter. "Clever. The only other person is Shikamaru. He is someone who I trust and he will become immensely important in the future. Your mind may be sharp and cold, but his is the most brilliant of our age. His strategic thinking will come in handy for planning and executing."
Neji mulled over the information for a moment before agreeing. "What is it that you wish me to do?"
"Do what you do best, Neji." A Cheshire-grin spread its way across Alice's face. "Observe and assess."
The brunette uncurled from her sitting position and rose to a height that was taller than Neji's by a head. "I'll be taking my leave now. Thank you for your time."
"You are not coming in?" Neji asked, his normally bland voice barely tinted with confusion. "Why wouldn't you? Your…friends are waiting."
"Really, I would." The grin stayed immensely wide. "But I would have to be here to do that."
She disappeared in a puff of smoke.
A certain blond was bouncing anxiously on the balls of his feet as he waited with a throng of other chunin-hopefuls in a large room outside of equally large, closed doors. "Where is she? She's not here yet. Do you think she's hurt? What if she's hurt? Who's going to help her? Maybe we should go out and find her. May-"
"Shut up, Dobe." Sasuke punctuated his quiet words with a firm rap on Naruto's head before retreating a step out of the blond's personal space. "That idiot will come soon. She wouldn't miss something as important as this."
"He's right you know Naruto," Sakura said idly as she scrubbed away some dirt that marred her pale arms, elbows occasionally brushing Sasuke and Naruto. "Alice is almost always coming in at exactly the right time. As she says; 'the hero arrives at the perfect moment.'"
Naruto hemmed and hawed some before relenting and relaxing his vibrating frame. "I guess you're right, Sakura-chan."
"She's always right, you know?"
A – very, very unmanly – scream came from Naruto's mouth as he leapt back from the grinning brunette that had appeared in front of his face. "A-a-"
"Alice," Sakura finished helpful for him. "Where were you?"
Said girl turned to Sakura and turned up her smile to blinding. "You know, here, there, and everywhere."
"No," Sakura relaxed her arms as she successfully got the dirt off her right arm. "I don't know since you didn't tell us where you were going."
Alice chuckled nervously and ruffled her spiky fringe. "Sorry 'bout that. I had to head off quickly since one of my bunshins had found my teammates. Unfortunately, some of the giant tigers living in that forest had found them first. So I hit a spot of trouble there and it took me a while to find my bearing after that."
"So I guess the tigers are the main reason that your shirt has been torn into two," Sakura said. "I'm also guessing there's a good reason why you're wearing a snake around your waist to keep the shirt together."
The silvery snake raised its head, that was trailed up from Alice's back and currently resting it's head on her shoulder, and hissed – in what Sakura assumed to be a happy way.
An odd whimper came from Naruto's mouth as he looked at the snake that was about as long as his arm span. 'I think I get away from these accursed snakes and there's only more coming after me!'
"Yeah," laughed Alice. "Akemi-chan didn't mind too much. She likes my body heat and is content on wrapping herself around me, she is a constrictor after all."
"You named it, Akemi?" Naruto asked incredulously.
"Yep." Alice scratched Akemi's head and smiled when the snake hissed contently. "That's what Anko-nee called her, and as my teammate, she is respected enough to get a name."
Team Seven didn't even acknowledge the fact that her teammate was a snake. You eventually got used to some things that Alice did, and suddenly appearing with random animals wasn't completely abnormal.
Kami-knows that Sasuke knew. It took him three days and twelve massive arguments to convince Alice to toss the tortoise she had, somehow, found, into one of the many freshwater lakes that Konoha had.
It had taken him another week to get the weird, rotting weed smell out of his bathroom where Alice insisted on keeping the damn thing.
"Are you not talking to me, Sasuke?" Alice asked curiously to the quiet – although that's not really strange – Sasuke who studiously kept his head tilted away from the diamond conversation that he was currently making up one side of.
"Are you really giving me the silent treatment? What are you? Five?"
Sakura cut in before the verbal argument could escalate to one of physical properties. "You guys can have your lovers spat later, I believe the next portion of the exams are beginning." The pink-haired girl walked past a stunned Sasuke and turmoil-filled Alice, followed closely by a snickering Naruto.
"I really don't think that this could get more awkward right now," Alice said quietly as the last few genin pushed past her. "But anyway," she flourished an arm towards the now open doors. "Shall we enter, Mr Uchiha?"
"Idiot," scoffed Sasuke as he relaxed and flicked her ear. "Let's go."
"I said that already," whined Alice as she followed him into the stone room that was even bigger than any of the rooms they had seen so far. "Holy son of a monkey…"
The room and its statues were more intimidating and awe-inspiring than how it was portrayed in the show. Alice couldn't help but appreciate the craftsmanship that had most likely gone into the whole place.
Meanwhile, Sasuke rolled his eyes discreetly at Alice's choice of words. 'Idiot…' He wandered past several genin who stared at him suspiciously and stopped behind Naruto and Sakura, the former who had been waving stupidly to get his attention.
"Ne, ne," Naruto started excitedly. "What do you think we'll be doing know?"
"Something physically based," offered Sakura. "It would only be logical since we've had tests based on; smarts, reconnaissance, survival skills and general shinobi basics. Testing our physical attributes should most likely come next."
Sasuke nodded in agreement as Naruto chirped at how smart 'his Sakura-chan was!'
When Sarutobi Hiruzen stepped forward on a balcony that overlooked the collected genin, jōnin leaders of every team flanking him, Team Seven quickly fell silent alongside the other genin in order to listen.
A few teams down and on the very end of the lines, Alice stood quietly next to the Sand Siblings. She could feel Gaara's KI pulsing out towards her, but she ignored it. If you were subjected to Anko's constant tests of strength via KI, you could easily brush Gaara's unfocused, raging mass of KI off.
Temari and Kankurō were having a bit more trouble.
"Psst, pup, are we at the tower yet?"
Alice shifted slightly as Pakkun's warm breath tickled her neck. "Yes, Pakkun. We've been here for a while. Did you find your nap comfortable? I meant, you were inside my top with a snake that could potentially kill you wrapped around you."
Pakkun's discomfort was palpable as he shifted around in his impromptu piggyback of Alice's upper back, his hind paws resting on Akemi's coils. "Um…"
There was a hiss as Akemi lifted her head of Alice's right shoulder in order to peer back at Pakkun.
"I was very comfortable," Pakkun said quickly. "Very comfortable indeed."
"Good," replied Alice shortly. "If you said otherwise, I think Akemi-chan might've been having doggie for lunch today."
No laughter came from Pakkun. He was not amused.
Suddenly, Hiruzen's voice rang out, loud and clear. "Since we have too many contestants, we shall have a preliminary in order to cut down the numbers to manageable levels."
Almost instantly, there were several loud protests and Alice was content to idly listen to people like Kiba, Shikamaru and Temari protest against such a verdict.
"Enough." Hiruzen's voice didn't raise in volume, but it had an undertone of steel contained in its calm tones. "I will no-"
"Excuse me, Hokage-sama." A sickly male cut across Hiruzen. "But I shall explain the rules, if you may."
As Hiruzen nodded his assent, Hayate launched into a tirade of rule explaining, only interrupted occasionally by protests, exclamations of indignation and severe coughing fits.
Hayate coughed quietly before speaking once more. "If that is all, does anybody wish to back out now? We have even numbers of twenty-two, but we allow people to back out if they don't wish to continue."
'Kabuto…' Alice didn't let her eyes be drawn to the form of Kabuto who had already started arguing with his teammates. Instead, she looked over to where Team Seven was currently arguing.
Both Naruto and Sakura seemed to be ganging up on Sasuke, who was currently holding his neck as he stubbornly argued back.
'So he didn't get it sealed…Idiot.' Alice tsked to herself and absently stroked Akemi's head. 'I don't know if I should be grateful or not; if he had it sealed, he may have not had the problems in his battle and he probably would've been here for the next few fights. On the other hand; he being sealed is something I know, that I don't need to predict. I guess I should just be thankful for now and see how this plays out. Orochimaru shouldn't really make Kabuto forfeit as it would raise suspicion, something that I'm only too glad to take advantage of…'
"Proctor, I forfeit."
Murmurs broke out amongst the genins as Kabuto raised his hand in defeat. Alice watched curiously to see if Naruto would protest and ask why, but there was no shouts from the blond. 'Interesting, it seems like I have changed something in this series after all.
Shingami chuckled deep in the recess of her mind, mindful of not letting his thoughts echoing out to her consciousness. You have no idea what you have already managed to change…
The murmurs died down as Kabuto walked out unhindered and Hayate brought their attention to large, electric board above their heads. "This board will decide the matches randomly."
'Random my ass,' snorted Alice internally.
"First match is…" Hayate stared up at the board as a flurry of letters cluttered across it. "Yoroi Akadō versus Uchiha Sasuke."
There were a few scattered murmurs and Alice caught sight of Sakura and Naruto looking at Sasuke with concern, but her attention was drawn back to Hayate. "If there are no protests; contestants step forward and I have to ask the rest of you to exit the arena and to go up to the stands."
Alice dropped back to walk beside a worried Naruto and Sakura, both glancing back as Kakashi began to speak with an irritated Sasuke.
"He'll be fine, guys." Alice slung an arm around each of the younger kid's shoulders, mindful of not dislodging Pakkun from her back or upsetting Akemi on her shoulder too badly. "Let's go up to the stands and watch him kick ass!"
"Yeah!" Naruto began to get fired up as they walked up the steps. "He promised that he wanted to fight me, so I'm going to hold that to him!" He ducked under Alice's arm and leant over the railing, cupping his hands around his mouth as he did so. "Do you hear that Sasuke?! You better not lose before I have the chance to kick your ass!"
A familiar smirk appeared on Sasuke's face as he turned from Kakashi and looked up at Naruto. "Me lose, Dobe? You should be more concerned about yourself."
Naruto spluttered and went to yell, but found himself being picked up by the scruff of his jumpsuit by an irritated Sakura. "Just shut your trap Naruto and let's go up already. You've already got the whole place looking at us." She ignored Naruto's wails and continued to drag Naruto up the stairs, only releasing him when they were between their sensei and Asuma.
Alice followed at a slower pace, only doing so since she had to give Sasuke the universal sign of I'm watching you.
His smirk got even wider – if that was even possible.
"The match will begin if we have no more interruptions," Hayate interjected quietly. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave, Kakashi."
The famous eye-smile appeared on Kakashi's face and he patted Sasuke on the shoulder before wandering up the steps to Alice. "C'mon, Alice-chan. Let's get a good view, okay?"
"Mn," Alice agreed as she fell into step beside her sometimes-sensei. "Gotta get a good view to see Sasuke kick that guy's ass!"
"So confident in Sasuke, aren't you?" Kakashi asked slyly.
Alice frowned at him. "Why wouldn't I be? I don't waste my time in people I don't believe in, or don't like. That's foolish and time wasting." She gave a huff before bounding over to Naruto and Sakura, who were both chatting quietly to Shikamaru and Chōji about the upcoming fight.
"They grow up so fast," sighed Kakashi before walking over to join Asuma.
Down at the battlefield, Hayate raised his arm up between Sasuke and Yoroi. He glanced at the two, "are you ready?"
An ugly sneer crossed Yoroi's face. "I'm ready to take this punk down."
"Tch, you wish," scoffed Sasuke as he got into a ready position.
"Okay." Hayate's arm sliced through the air. "Begin!"
Neither of the two moved, both content in studying each other closely. Yoroi gave a smirk towards Sasuke as he cocked his head. "Is that girl your bitch? The brunette, I mean."
Sasuke's stance slipped as he choked, "WHAT?!"
Yoroi turned to see an angry Alice leaning over the railing of the stands. "What is it, bitch?"
In response, Alice gave a short snarl. "First of all," she held up her right hand and lifted up her middle finger. "Fuck you. Secondly, I am no one's bitch! Especially not a pussy-ass like that Uchiha."
A scowl appeared on Sasuke's face. "I'm not a pussy-ass!"
"Fine, Pussicha," Alice rolled her eyes. "Whatever."
Sasuke's anger was so great that he couldn't respond. Instead, he ground his teeth together before turning his killer Uchiha glare onto Yoroi. "Since Alice is up there, I guess I'll have to beat the crap out of you before I can go murder her."
"I'd like to see you try!" Yoroi roared as he took off, right arm extended out towards Sasuke as it began to glow ominously. "Show me your power, Uchiha!"
Leaning against the railing above the fight, a certain brunette tried to regain her composure. "Power this, power that," sniped Alice as she watched Sasuke dodge the initial attack from Yoroi, and then continue to dodge the mad swipes from the creepy male. "That's all Sasuke is good for. Fucking hell, why doesn't he just kick the gay feeler in the face so we can get on with our lives. The guy is obviously weak in the legs since he's focusing on attacking with his arms so much."
Nobody replied to her angry muttering – Pakkun was content to go back to napping on her back and Akemi wasn't half-dozing on her shoulder – but somehow – probably the years spent listening out for gossip – Ino caught the bad comment about Sasuke, and promptly acted in reply.
"You take that back about Sasuke-kun!"
Blinking in surprise, Alice turned to face a huffing Ino who stood in front of the rest of her team and the two members of Team Seven. "Why do you care? I'm not talking shit about you."
Ino stamped her foot angrily, "but you insulted my Sasuke-kun! Repeatedly!"
"That's nice," Alice answered absentmindedly as she continued to watch Sasuke's match. "Oh man, Sasuke is really sucking. Well, more like that other guy is sucking. Sucking his chakra."
"Really?" Sakura asked, interested as she came to lean against the railing beside Alice. "How can you tell?"
"Chakra sensor," reminded Alice. "I know Sasuke's chakra and I can already feel it dropping."
"Don't ignore me you skank!" Ino wailed in the background. "And how dare you feel Sasuke-kun's chakra! You can't do that!"
Wisely, Naruto gave her a wide berth as he went to hop up and sit down on the railing to Sakura's left. "That Teme better not lose."
Ino pouted dramatically, ignored by all. "Don't ignore me as well; Pig! Loser!"
She continued to be ignored.
There was a reason though; Sasuke wasn't in a good position as of right now and Team Seven and Alice held their breath as they watched.
Squirming under the older male's hand, Sasuke could feel his strength fading as his chakra was forcibly taken off him. "G-get off me." He weakly tried to slap away Yoroi's hand with his own, the other hand occupied with grasping Yoroi's hand so that he wouldn't fall down.
"It's sad that the Uchiha have fallen so much," Yoroi said with quiet malice. "I remember when the Uchiha used to be great. Now, not so much…"
A wordless snarl came out of Sasuke's mouth as he thrashed and struggled.
"C'mon Sasuke! He's messing up your perfect hair! Are you really going to let him do that?!"
Both Yoroi and Sasuke paused at Alice's screams. Yoroi's face was amused as he clenched Sasuke's head tighter, crumpling the boys hair in his meaty fingers. "Hear that? She's worried over your perfect hair. It definitely sounds like she's your bitch."
"I'm not his fucking bitch!" Alice kicked her foot angrily against the railing, unknowingly awakening Akemi and Pakkun. "I'm going to fucking kill you Sasuke if you don't beat this asshole! Get up and finish him!" She finished with her hands out in front of her as fists, clenched in determination and flailing madly at the air like she was fighting invisible enemies.
"Always causing trouble," Sasuke muttered before he snapped his left leg up in a kick that completely smashed Yoroi's ever-present glasses.
Yoroi wasn't able to finish his sentence as Sasuke managed to stagger upright and throw a few good punches into the male's defence that he hastily put up.
Springing away to catch his breath, Sasuke took note of his chakra levels that were alarmingly low. 'I only have enough for one katon jutsu. Better make it count.' Summoning some of his chakra, Sasuke went to make the necessary handseals, but found the constant throbbing in his neck flaring to a ridiculous level.
"Gah!" He stopped moulding chakra and hastily grabbed his neck as his pain spiked once more. 'I can't use my chakra! It hurts too much!'
"Use taijutsu, dumbass!" Called down Alice. "What the fuck do you think we've been doing at training? Practising ballet? Kakashi-sensei has put time and effort into making you a real shinobi, so you better fucking make him proud. Kami-knows that his skill is too high to play around with little brats like you. He is the fucking copy-nin after all!"
Kakashi laughed from where he leant against the wall with Asuma. "You make me blush, Alice."
Said girl turned around quickly to give him a peace sign and a wink. "Love you too, sensei!" She quickly turned around as Naruto tugged on her arm, shouting about 'Sasuke stating to kick that bastard's ass!'
"…Interesting bunch you have there, Kakashi." Asuma retorted in mild bemusement as he watched the pink-haired girl of his comrade's team leap up onto the railings in order to yell encouragement down at the Uchiha boy. "…Very enthusiastic."
"Maa, Asuma," chuckled Kakashi as he looked at his team and fighting student with quiet pride. "They're one of the most interesting kids I've had the – occasional – pleasure of meeting."
Asuma merely raised his eyebrows and fell silent again, interested in how Sasuke would fare against the chakra-leeching nin from Konoha.
Apparently, not well at parts.
"Oooh," Naruto visibly winced, "that's going to leave a mark tomorrow."
"I'll heal it," Sakura said before screaming some more encouragement at her teammate. "Go Sasuke! Make us proud!"
"Shut up, Sakura!" Sasuke huffed as he twisted away from Yoroi's searching hand. "I'm not doing this bloody thing to make you proud."
"You're doing it 'cause you looove~ us~!" Alice clasped her hands together and fluttered her eyes. "You love us soooo much~!"
A shriek of rage came from Sasuke and he slapped Yoroi's hand away, not caring about the slight drain, before he slammed his fist into his face in a vicious right hook. "You guys are so annoying!"
"Aww," Alice cooed, "little Sasuke-chan is all embarrassed."
Sakura echoed her small noises of endearment, "he's so adorable when he gets like this!"
Meanwhile, Team Gai and Team Ten looked on in quiet horror. Well, the team members that would actually show their shock.
"Okay, guys," Tenten said aside to her teammates. "I think we've finally found a team weirder than ours."
"They are most youthful!" Lee beamed. "What amazing blossom those lovely flowers will bloom into!"
"Lee!" Bellowed Gai. "Truly you understand the springtime of youth! Yours words have moved me so!"
'Kami I hate my team sometimes,' Neji muttered to himself internally.
"I have no idea what to be more horrified at," whispered Ino with wide eyes. "Sakura joking and teasing to and about Sasuke-kun. Or the freaky beachside, water show accompanied by a sunset that is happening to our right. Who wears green spandex? Or even spandex? What has this world come too?!"
Chōji had to agree with his teammate. When had the exams turned into a crazy mass of yelling, cheering and weeping for teammates and senseis?
"Troublesome," muttered Shikamaru as he watched everything with drooping eyes. "Everything is mad and troublesome."
Internally though, he was more than a bit worried. 'If Sasuke uses that freaky seal again, this exam will not end well under any circumstances. It's bad enough he went crazy in the forest, but if he goes mad here again, he's certain to get killed. Maybe even by his own sensei…'
Almost opposite Sasuke, a disguised sannin let a crazed grin slip out. 'Use the curse seal, Sasuke-kun.' Orochimaru watched with anticipation as Sasuke visibly wore down from the small snatches of chakra Yoroi had managed to grab off him. 'Give into the temptation and use the power! Wield it so that I may wield you!'
Unknowing of how he was being thought of by several people, Sasuke had slowed down enough that Yoroi managed to brush him and a large amount of his remaining chakra was sucked away greedily by the glow surrounding Yoroi's hand. He gasped and swayed drunkenly on his feet before staggering back a bit. "Ugh…"
"You're mine now, Uchiha." A fist ploughed down towards Sasuke, heading for a blow that would knock out Sasuke in one hit.
'No!' Sasuke's eyes widened and bled into red as he saw the fist grow closer. 'This will not be how it ends!'
His barely activated sharingan gave him enough perception to manoeuvre his body past Yoroi's fist and past the rest of his body. The attempt on his chakra though, began to draw out his curse seal. The jagged lines were already beginning to creep up his neck when he leapt a few paces away from the smirking enemy.
"Shit," Alice cursed as she saw the glow of orange on Sasuke's neck dull to a sickening black that stood out against his pale skin.
"You can say that again," Naruto said as he leant over the railing anxiously. "Don't use it Sasuke, damn it!" He yelled to himself. "He better not give into it! I'll beat the crap out of if he does!"
"Get in line," growled Sakura, the railing beginning to tremble under her clenched hands. "If he thinks he can use that thing, specifically after I told him too, then he's dead meat!"
An unbidden smile crept across Kakashi's covered mouth as he watched his students. 'Ah, sensei, if you were here, would you be proud of me? Of the person your child has become? I've tried hard sensei, but I wasn't there for him. But, it seems, like I wasn't needed to make him into a person worthy of your name.'
Over at the small balcony where many other senseis and proctors stood, one single woman began to panic at the sight of the black lines that were making their way up Sasuke's face. 'The Uchiha brat has the curse mark!' Anko looked across to her Hokage in fear, her own curse mark trembling and pulsing with her fear. 'Call the match, Hokage-sama! Call it already! We're not having a fucking incident here, not if you just call it to a stop already!'
Hiruzen leant back enough in the chair he was sitting in, in order to catch Anko's harried brown eyes. Barely shaking his head, he tried to put the girl at ease, but still felt like he hadn't done much when he faced the fight again.
"Pup," whimpered Pakkun as he huddled close to Alice's ear. "I know this chakra…"
A hand rose up to pat Pakkun soothingly, "I know Pakkun. Just wait, it'll be fine soon." Alice began to worry her bottom lip with her teeth, even Akemi's soothing hisses couldn't calm her.
On the battlefield, Sasuke faced off with Yoroi before sweeping his gaze across the awaiting spectators. Suddenly, he stopped his scrutinising, his gaze caught by his teammates and Alice.
Naruto and Sakura were watching him so expectantly, and he could even see Kakashi behind them, watching with a hard look. They had trained him hard; and for what? So that he could give up now? So that he wouldn't be known as the strong, invincible Uchiha Sasuke? No. That wouldn't do.
Emerald eyes stared solidly into his and then crinkled slightly in a smile. Sasuke could almost hear Alice's past words in his ear, like she was speaking them to him all over again.
Who are you Sasuke? You say you're an Uchiha, but what does that mean? To many, an Uchiha is known for one thing and one thing only; their sharingan. They pride themselves on that one aspect and that is something that many only think about when they think of your clan. Me? I think of their pride in their abilities. Their pride on what they achieve. So, Sasuke, are you a copy-cat? Or your own person?
Alice's eyebrows quirked up in a silent what are you going to do now? And Sasuke nodded to himself and at her question.
He would show this bastard the strength of the Uchiha pride.
A deep breath was taken before Sasuke did anything. Feet blurring into action, the young Uchiha tugged specific kunai out of his ninja pouch before flicking them expertly towards Yoroi.
The elder boy laughed as he easily dodged the weapons, the knives sinking in with a thunk into the tora handseal behind. "What was that meant to do, Uchiha? You're weak and your aim is so off you can't even throw a kunai properly! Forfeit now and I won't have to humiliate you further."
Sasuke didn't give him a response, too intent on tightening his hold on the invisible wired grasped in his fingers and pulling them at the right angles.
The only warning Yoroi got that something was wrong was the odd whistling sound in the air before his body was suddenly picked up by invisible wires and flung back, pinned, against the statue behind. The unique carvings digging into his back as he did so, eliciting a sharp gasp of pain.
"Forfeit now before I slit your throat," Sasuke said coldly as he tugged on the ninja wired. "My ninja wires are of the highest quality and are capable of cutting heavier heads from thicker necks than yours. I'll give you to the count of three though, just to be fair. One…"
Yoroi gurgled as the wires bit into his arms, legs and torso, but also began to slice deeply into his bare throat.
He flailed his fingers, grasping for something that wasn't there. His lips began to go blue and his face contrasted the cool colour with a warm red. He could barely breathe and was that his breath rattling out of his mouth, or neck?
"Yoroi will have to forfeit as he has no other choice!" Hayate finally intervened with the fight, his hand grabbing Sasuke's securely so that he couldn't rip his arms back and slice off Yoroi's head. "Uchiha Sasuke is the winner of this fight!"
A blatant pause fell over the crowd and contestants as they tried to process what had just happened. Sasuke's fingers slackened as he began to realise and Yoroi fell to the ground with a wet cough. 'I won…?'
"FUCK YEAH, HE WON!" Alice's shout prompted Naruto and Sakura to start cheering, the trio making enough noise to make up for everyone else's silence – they were ninja after all. They don't clap or cheer for such occasions.
"Way to go Sasuke!" The combined cheer came from his…friends, and Sasuke let a tired smirk cross his face before he turned to his teammates. "Didn't you think I could do it?"
"Well," began Naruto as he nervously scratched his head. "I had some doubts when you were getting your ass handed to you. But other than that…"
A scoff came from Sasuke. "Shut up, usuratonkachi."
He tiredly pulled his ninja wire from his kunai before winding them up in coils and slipping them back into his ninja pouch. Trudging past Yoroi – who was being helped up by several medics – he tugged his kunai out of the statue and placed them into his ninja pouch alongside their accompanying wire.
Just as he was turning to head back up to his teammates, there was a puff of smoke and a strong hand grasped his shoulder. "Sorry Sasuke, but we need to seal that up before you do anything else."
Sasuke looked up at his sensei before looking across at his teammates. Both Naruto and Sakura looked confused and worried at what was going on, but Alice gestured him to go, her strange snake bobbing its head in the air beside her.
"Okay," was all Sasuke said before the view of his friends disappeared in a swirl of white smoke.
Holy hell that was long as fuck and twice as hard to write. It was weird to try and write a battle and the conversations that go on around it. I don't know how people do it! And serious respect to those fan fictioners who can like, quote Naruto perfectly in their stories. I could dig up the dialogue online, but I'm a lazy bitch who just wants to put this up already. So yeah, hope you're okay with this and that it wasn't too OOC in parts.
Sakura has basically out away her girly crushes and toys – which will become very evident in her upcoming battle with Ino – so it's hard not to write her like a mini-Alice. But she'll get her own type of spunk and dry humour. Don't worry about it!
I wanted to get to ten thousand words, but I'm not sure if I really made it. I'm a bit disappointed, but I guess you can't win it all.
But you can catch them all… ;D I'm too good.
But, okay, yeah, that's all I have to say so…Thanks for the wait and enjoy while you can. I'm not sure when I can update this story again, so just be patient and don't hate on me too much, I have a soft heart, ya know? Softer than playdough on a hot day.
Getting off track here, so,
Ciao my lovely friends.