The older jounin blinked and looked up from his reading. The medic nin there looked frantic. It was enough for him to close his book.
"There is a problem," the medic nin reported.
He stood up and pocketed the book, forcing his steps to be even and calm as he walked down the hall. Halfway there, he paused to let the Hokage step in front of him.
"What happened?" she asked him.
"They didn't tell me, Hokage-sama."
They arrived at the large monitoring room after a few more moments. Television screens displayed the images of at least two dozen shinobi, lying asleep on beds. It was the middle three screens that concerned Kakashi the most.
His three students twitched violently, like they were in the middle of a nightmare. They were bruised and slightly bleeding. A few more cuts appeared on their faces as Tsunade watched,
"What's going on?" she demanded.
"We don't know," the medic nin replied. "No one else is having these types of problems with the genjutsu."
"They are having physical reactions to it," Tsunade barked. "Bring them out of it."
"The Dokage is on his way. He'll break it immediately."
"This is exactly why I was nervous about them taking Jounin exam outside of Konoha," Tsunade told Kakashi.
"They were ready," Kakashi replied.
"I'm sure they were. It was Hidden Rock I was more worried about."
"The Dokage has arrived."
Tsunade and Kakashi turned their attention back to the screen. The older man pushed open the door and walked towards the center of the room where a scroll on a stand glowed fiercely. He performed a few hand symbols and placed his hands over the scroll. A second later, he robe caught fire and he stumbled backwards.
"Fire?" Kakashi asked.
"Kyuubi," was Tsunade's only response.
Sakura's body lifted violently and a large red splotch appeared on the front of her shirt. The monitoring staff began to panic but by then, Tsunade was gone, running towards the room where they were.
A few assistants were helping the Dokage out of his singed robe. Tsunade bowed to him quickly before continuing. "We need to try again, this time together."
He nodded and listed the hand symbols needed as they walked inside. The two Kages performed in synchronous movements. The scrolls shuddered a bit and then erupted into flames. As the assistants put out the flames, Kakashi walked over to Sakura just as Tsunade finished closing up the wound.
"Kakashi-sensei?" He turned around and watched Naruto sitting up from the bed. "What's going on?"
Sakura nodded once, clutching the blanket of her hospital bed. "So I was right."
"Yeah," Naruto nodded. "The genjutsu was supposed to create our 'perfect' world… only Kyuubi interfered… I'm sorry."
Sakura smiled a bit. "No worries, shishou patched me up just fine."
"Why?" Sasuke asked, looking over at Kakashi. "Why was it part of the jounin exam?"
Kakashi took a moment before continuing. "A decade ago, the Jounin exam was restructured to test more then just the physical and mental abilities of the applicants. Emotions and desires are just as important. Those who craved power were not always the best choices for a village's jounin."
"How come?" Naruto asked.
"Because as Jounin, you will have access to almost every jutsu that a village knows. Some people in the past have used this to their own advantage rather then to serve their village. It became important to know that people could resist the temptation to do that by putting their duty as a ninja above it."
"So you use the genjutsu to create a perfect world," Sakura continued. "And if they can break out of it, then their will to be a ninja is stronger then their desire for their own personal happiness."
"Exactly," he said, patting her on the head. "Of course, the genjutsu is supposed to be a bit more pleasant then what you experienced. " He stood up. "Well, I need to go file paperwork. Rest up. Still have a few more days of testing to go."
He waved as he left through the door. The remaining trio sat in silence as the weight of what Kakashi said sank in.
"Hey, at least we passed," Naruto smiled, breaking the silence. "I think some celebratory ramen is in order!"
Sakura returned his smile. "I think I'm confined to bed rest."
"We'll bring you back some, right Sasuke?"
"I… think I'll stay here for a while."
Naruto look at him for a moment before shrugging and walking out the door, saying something about more for him. Sakura laughed a bit, glad to see that Naruto was already back to normal. She couldn't say the same about herself though.
"Sasuke-kun?" she asked, wondering exactly why he had stuck around.
He didn't say a word. Instead, he reached down and pulled open the bag at his feet, pulling out a plate and an apple. Then he sat in silence and slowly began peeling it. She smiled a bit and leaned onto the pillows, just watching him.
Maybe back to normal wasn't what either of them wanted anymore.
The second Naruto cleared the room his smile faded. Normal was not what he felt. His mind was still clouded with the emotions of living part of what Hokage goes through. He thought about going to find her but at the moment he didn't want a lecture. He really did just want to go back to normal.
He heard some laughter as he walked through the glass doors. He found Hinata with her two teammates. Kiba was having Akamaru perform a few tricks and Hinata appeared to be enjoying it. She turned and caught his eye, the smile still on her face.
She was alive, laughing and smiling at him. He smiled back at her.
"Hey! Fox boy," Kiba called. "We're going out for ramen. Wanna come?"
He just looked at her until a blush crept over her cheeks. He broke the stare and look over at Kiba.
"Only if you're paying, Dog Breath!"
He jogged over to them and fell in step next to Hinata. She looked up at him with a smile.
"How was your test?" she asked softly.
He looked at her for a moment before smiling. "Learned a few things, had a few good fights. It could have gone better. But… it's over."