Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Naruto whatsoever, except for my fictions.

"Speaking"

'Thinking'

Demon talking


Bloodlines and Demons

by chairomori

Chapter One: Announcements
Neji and Hinata silently walked back to the Hyuuga complex.

The Godaime stood in front of a crowd of genin and called for their attention. "Quiet! You all must be confused at why I called you here. As most of you know, the chuunin exams occur semi-annually. The time has now come for the next chuunin exams."

Neji could hear Naruto jumping with glee. He rolled his eyes and returned his attention to the Godaime, ignoring the murmurings of the other genin.

"I'm not finished!" Tsunade waited for the genin to settle down. "The rules of the next exam will call for four-man cells, which means that those of you selected will be rearranged into temporary teams until the end of the exam. Now, because of the fact that the exams will not be held in Konoha, the number of genin who will be allowed to take the test is limited. Therefore, those of you who feel not up to taking the exams may drop out. The remaining genin will be chosen by drawing lots." She paused. "I will give you the rest of the day to decide. Those of you that want to take the exam will show up here tomorrow morning. Any questions?"

A hand went up. "Godaime-sama? Where exactly will the chuunin exams take place?" A female voice spoke.

"It is to be held in the Hidden Cloud Village." The Hokage sighed and left.

Several gasps filled the room, followed by angry words-mostly from the Hyuuga present. Neji himself had been caught off guard by the remark. Across the room, he saw Hinata's eyes, widened in fear.

'The next exams will be held in Lightning Country. Will Hiashi-sama allow us to go? It doesn't matter. I'll go no matter what. But Hinata-sama...he may not let her go.' Neji stopped his thoughts as they arrived.

A servant walked out and greeted them. "Hiashi-sama requests your presence."

Neji ignored him and kept walking until he reached his uncle's room. He could hear Hinata's soft steps patter behind him. His hand reached out to knock softly on the door. "Come in." Hiashi's voice called. He entered, followed by Hinata. Besides Hiashi, there were three other Hyuuga in the room. "You called, Hiashi-sama?"

"Yes. We were just waiting for you to arrive. Now that everyone is here, I will explain why I summoned you here." Hiashi proceeded. "The Hokage-sama has just informed you of the circumstances involving the nest chuunin exam. Now, I would rather have no Hyuuga participate, but I have decided to allow you to choose for yourselves. Whether or not you go is your choice, however, I, nor any other Hyuuga will be accompanying you. That is all. Hinata, I need to talk to you in private."

Neji and the other Hyuuga left the room. He was leaving to his quarters when one of the others called to him. He turned around. "What?"

The Hyuuga smirked. "You know, you should stay behind. We don't need a branch member to soil the Hyuuga's reputation, right?" He asked the other Main House members. They nodded in consent. "See? You should leave the real battles to us. You know you'll never make it pass the genin level anyway."

Inside, Neji was infuriated at the elder Hyuuga's words, but instead of assaulting him, he replied coolly. "I wouldn't talk if I were you. None of you even made it past the second test in the last chuunin exam."

"Why you arrogant-"

"If you really want to see arrogance, try looking in a mirror." Neji ignored the Hyuuga's reply and continued walking towards his quarters. 'I wasn't expecting Hiashi-sama to give his consent so easily. I wonder what he wants with Hinata-sama. Now that I know I can enter, I wonder who I will be teamed with. Whoever they are, we must make it to the finals. Then, I can take revenge for my father's death.' As he walked on, something deep down told him trouble was coming.


A flaming kunai hit dead center as it flew into a target. "Finally, it's time to make our mark." A hard voice arose. It belonged to a female with blood red hair hanging loosely to her waist. She wore deep crimson shorts under a white dress, falling just a few inches beneath her knees. At each side was a wide slit. Secured tightly around her waist was her forehead protector. Bandages were wrapped along her forearms. Her long bangs almost masked her off violet eyes.

"Relax, sis. You need to chill. Have you ever considered taking a deep breath and just enjoying the simpler things in life? Like how this grass is nice and soft. Perfect for a pillow..." The voice belonged to a male who snuggled into the grass. His hair was slightly shorter than his sister's and tied into a low ponytail. The outfit he was wearing was similar to his sister's, but instead of the dress, he had on a white shirt. The back bore the symbol of a small ball of purple fire. Around his left arm was his forehead protector. His face almost identical to his sister's.

"Can't you ever be serious? Our clan is too secluded. After generations of secrecy, they have finally allowed us to participate in the chuunin exams. But now Konoha has forgotten our strength. We must use this exam to show all the countries our clan's power. I believe that is the key."

"Of course. But there's no need to overexcite yourself. You can take out your anger on your opponent."

"Hmph. Fine, let's go home." As they left, the target fell into pieces and was engulfed by the flames.


Neji awoke and prepared to return to the Hokage Tower for the drawing. He stood at the entrance of the Hyuuga complex and waited for Hinata to arrive. A full ten minutes passed, and he was becoming impatient, but he decided to wait a while longer. Another ten minutes went by. Angrily, he walked-sprinted to Hinata's room and knocked sharply.

Hinata padded softly towards the door and opened it. "Neji-niisan? W-why are you here?" She slightly stumbled on the words that came out of her mouth.

"We're supposed to go to the drawing today. Remember?" He was annoyed that she'd forget so easily.

At the words, Hinata looked down. "I-I can't go. Father has forbidden it."

"What? But didn't he say we were free to choose? Why can't you go?" Neji felt foolish asking the question when he was sure he knew the answer.

"He s-said that the Cloud nin m-might try to kidnap me again. Because we will be in their land, w-we won't be able to do anything." Hinata stared sadly at the ground.

'That's absurd! They won't be able to do anything because of the Chuunin exams. Hiashi must think lowly of her skills to prevent her from going.' Instead of voicing his thoughts, he turned and muttered, "I'm sorry."

Hinata was surprised. She had expected Neji to become angry and take out his rage on her of the nearest object or person he could find. 'He's changed so much after fighting with Naruto.' Before he was out of hearing range, she mustered up the courage to call out, "G-good luck!" He walked on as if he didn't hear anything.

As soon as he left the Hyuuga complex, Neji began to sprint ninja style towards the tower to make up for lost time. 'What if I am not drawn? What will happen? No. I must not think of that. I will get drawn. I must.' When he arrived in the Hokage tower, he found it full of genin chattering excitedly. He scanned the room until he found Tenten and Lee. To his displeasure, Gai-sensei was there as well. He tried whispering to catch Tenten's attention. "Tenten! Over here!"

Tenten was wishing she was anywhere else in the world when she heard Neji call her. Looking between the choices of waiting with Neji of waiting with Gai and Lee, she decided on the former. Slyly, she tried to sneak away without Gai or Lee noticing. Luckily, they wee over-preoccupied with the upcoming exams. She successfully made it out unnoticed. After reaching Neji, she immediately proceeded to bag on him. "Why didn't you come here sooner? I've been stuck with them all morning."

"I was waiting for Hinata-sama." Neji sighed. While Tenten was one of the few girls he could stand, he was still annoyed whenever she took out her own annoyance on him.

"Oh." Tenten craned her neck and looked around. "Where is she?"

"Hiashi-sama didn't allow her to come. She won't be participating in the exam."

"That's too bad. I heard she has become a much better ninja. It's a shame she won't be able to test herself."

"There's always next exam."

"Of course! So, how do you think they're going to pick who goes and who gets cut?"

Neji shrugged his shoulders and remained silent. They waited for the rest of the genin to arrive. After about another half hour, the Godaime appeared and ordered the doors to be closed.

"Now, about fifty of you have showed up. I am sorry to say that only 24 percent of you will be able to make it to the exams. For any idiots out there, it means twelve of you will take the exams and the rest wait 'til next time. During the drawings, you will not use any special techniques or bloodlimits to cheat. If you do, you are automatically banned from the exams. Now, I want you to get into a single straight line and draw a piece of paper from the basket. Chuunin and jounin, if you wish to chaperon the teams, then you will also have to draw."

Neji and Tenten both got in the line. To their dissatisfaction, they saw that their sensei had gotton in line. "He better not get picked." Tenten muttered.


"Hey, Shikamaru, come wait in line with us!" Ino dragged him into the line besides Chouji. "I'm so excited! I hope I make it!"

"Uh, Ino. I don't think I should be in this line. I mean, I don't want to chaperon any team." Shikamaru tried to back away.

Chouji butted in. "Don't worry. You're only waiting with us. You don't have to take a slip.

"Oh, alright. But I have a bad feeling about this. Troublesome." he muttered.

The line got closer. Soon, it was Ino's turn to pick a paper. Shikamaru tuned to walk away, saying something about getting away before some troublesome thing happened.

"Don't worry, Shikamaru!" Chouji patted him on the back for reassurance, but it was just a little too hard. "Oops."

Shikamaru was sent tumbling into the basket. Before he had time to react, a slip of paper just happened to fall into his hand. His lips moved in slow motion. "Nooooooo!"

"Next." Chouji walked up and took a slip. "Heh. Sorry. Oh well, what are the chances that you got in?"

"Right." Shikamaru replied weakly. 'Just my luck.'

Asuma walked up to him. "Wow, Shikamaru! I'm surprise you were motivated into volunteering to watch the genin!"

"Actually, Asuma-sensei, it was an accident."

"Oh." The smile Asuma wore drooped a bit. 'I thought my great teaching had brought some motivation into him.'

After the last person drew a slip, Iruka stood up. "May I have your attention! May I have your attention!" It was more or a command than a question. The majority of the crowd settled down. "Now, open the slips of paper you drew."

"Iruka-sensei! They're blank!" Shikamaru heard Naruto shout.

"Be patient!" Iruka made a few seals. The papers turned colors to either red or green. Shikamaru stared at the red paper in his hand. Chouji's an Ino's turned green. "Those of you with green papers...do not participate in the next exam." Shikamaru's heart sank. His stomach tightened as he prepared himself for what Iruka was going to say next. "Everyone with red papers, come forward. You will be placed into teams."

"Chouji! Hurry, trade papers." Shikamaru shoved his paper into Chouji's hand and took Chouji's before he could react. Soon, his paper changed from red to green, and Chouji's became red. His face fell. "I'm doomed."

"Sorry, Shikamaru." Couji looked at him sympathetically. "Well, you should go up."

Iruka raised his voice again. "Anyone who didn't get a red slip, please file out the room to avoid confusion!"


Sakura's face fell as she saw her green slip. Both Sasuke's and Naruto's were red. Even Kakashi had a red one. Naruto jumped up and down repeating, "I made it! I made it!" He stopped and looked at everyone's paper. "Sasuke, you made it too? Hmph! Nooo! Sakura-chan! You didn't?"

Sakura smiled meekly. "It's okay. There's always next time, ne?" she turned towards the doorway. "You should go up. I'll go meet Ino-pig. She probably didn't make it either by what her face looks like." Before Naruto could protest, Sakura left to join the crowd of disappointed genin.

"Oh well. Come on, Naruto. We're going to draw for teams." Kakashi pointed at the other side of he room.


"Whoo hoo!! Look, Akamaru! Shino got a red slop too!!" Kiba ran over excitedly. "Shino! Let's cross our fingers so that we'll be on the same team!! Yeah, we'll ace the exams, one, two, three!"

'Oh no. He made it too. I hope we're not on the same team.' "Where's Hinata?" Shino asked. He hadn't seen her since he arrived.

"I dunno. I guess she didn't make the cut. That stinks. Her vision helps a lot. We would be the ultimate team!"

"Not to mention she's much better company than you."

"What was that?"

"Nothing."

Akamaru barked.


"Lee!"

"Gai-sensei!"

"Lee!"

"Gai-sensei!"

Neji and Tenten stood, disgusted and embarrassed at their teacher's and teammate's display of affection. 'It's great that Tenten made it...but why did those two have to as well?" Thought Neji. Tenten simply rolled her eyes.

Two figures with blood red hair walked past them. The girl muttered something under her breath. On the backs of their outfits was the symbol of a fireball. Neji looked at them curiously. 'I don't think I've ever seen that clan symbol before.' He and Tenten followed them to Iruka, leaving Gai and Lee behind.


Iruka waited with Genma for the selected genin to gather around. He observed as twelve genin and the three others arrived. Among them, were seven of the genin that had made it to the preliminaries the previous year. 'I see everyone on Seirei's and Neji's team made it. Seirei's team graduated a year before Gai's cell. They will be very experienced.' Behind them, Iruka saw two twins. 'A boy and a girl. They must be the new genin from the Aguni clan. I heard they're a few years older than Naruto. Speaking of which,' Iruka turned his head and saw Naruto. He couldn't help but grin at Naruto's enthusiasm. 'I have to remember to buy him some ramen before he leaves.'

After the small group assembled before him, Iruka took a deep breath. "Congratulations on behalf of being chosen to represent Konoha. Please give your name to Genma-the one with the . . . toothpick in his mouth. He'll write it down and then we'll have the three temporary cell leaders choose who will be in their team." Iruka indicated to Gai, Kakashi, and Shikamaru.

"Uh, Iruka-sensei?" Shikamaru raised his hand. "What if I don't want to go? This is too troublesome."

"I'll take it from here, Iruka," Genma turned to Shikamaru. "If you don't want to go, you shouldn't have drawn."

"But, it was an acci-"

"It doesn't matter. What's done is done. You draw a red slip, you go. Nothing you do can get you out of it. Not unless you are near death. Are you clear?"

Shikamaru's face fell. "Troublesome."

"Now, let's start from the right." Genma recognized the face from the last exam.

"I'm going to be the next Hokage! My name's Uzu-"

"-maki Naruto. I know." Genma wrote the name down and threw it in a jar. He looked up. Another familiar face. "Uchiha Sasuke. Hoping your match won't be interrupted again?" He wrote down the name and threw it in the jar. "Next."

"Aburame Shino"

"Next."

"INUZUKA KIBA!"

"NEXT!"

"Aguni Hane."

Genma looked up. He saw her blood red hair and violet eyes. "Ah. From the ancient Aguni clan. It's been a while since one of you have represented Konoha." He scribbled the name down and looked up again. "And next is another Aguni. What's your name?"

The boy had his hands propped behind his head and yawned. "Aguni Senshu. Do you happen to have a pillow here?" Hane smacked his head.

Genma ignored him. "Next."

"Tenten."

"Next. Oh, you." He wrote Hyuuga Neji on the slip. "Next."

"ROCK LEE! YEAH!'

Genma sighed as he wrote down the name. 'Genin are either too excited or too serious. Can't there be any normal people?' "Next."

"Hyuuga Uwayaku." The Hyuuga wore an outfit similar to Neji's. His forehead protector was tied around his arm. His forehead showed he was from the Main House. An arrogant smirk lingered at his lips. Neji recognized him as the one that taunted him the night before and clenched his fists.

The toothpick almost fell from Genma's mouth. 'Two Hyuuga's, one from the Main, one from the Branch House again. I hope they don't get put in the same team.' He clentched the toothpick between his teeth and put the name down. "Next."

"Toruchi Seirei." A female perked up. She had short, light brown hair. Her forehead protector was tied on its proper place to hold back her hair. A white t-shirt rested under a long dark blue tank top. She wore long, black shorts, and a black sash was tied around her waist. A katana was strapped across her back.

"Next."

"Morino Ikioi."

'Morino...is he related to Ibiki? I'll have to ask him later. They don't really look alike.' The boy had sea green hair and blue eyes. He wore a fishnet shirt beneath a black shirt and black pants. A rubber band held his short hair at the cape of his neck. Genma finished slipping the paper in the jar and stood up. "Alright. Kakashi, Gai, and Shikamaru. You will each take tuns drawing names from the jar. The four names will be the members in you temporary cells."

Shikamaru groaned. 'My cell's going to either be my age or older. How troublesome.' He walked up to draw a name. Genma looked at the paper and smirked. "Uzumaki Naruto." Kakashi reached in and pulled out a slip. "Hyuuga Neji."

Neji sighed in relief. 'At least I don't have Gai-sensei for a while.'

Gai opened his slip. His eyes sparkled. "Luck is on our side! Rock Lee!"

"Gai-sensei!"

Tenten walked to Neji's side and closed her eyes. She looked as if she wanted to puke.

Shikamaru looked at the paper he pulled and groaned. "Inuzuka Kiba." 'Why me? I got the two loud mouths of the group. It's bad enough with Naruto. Oh well, at least I didn't get Lee, too. The three of them together would have been a handful.'

Kakashi drew another lot. "Tenten." She sighed in relief.

The drawings continued until the three teams were decided. Shikamaru's cell consisted of Uzumaki Naruto, Inuzuka Kiba, Toruchi Seirei, and Aguni Senshu. In Kakashi's cell was Hyuuga Neji, Tenten, Morino Ikioi, and Aburame Shino. Gai's team had Rock Lee, Aguni Hane, Uchiha Sasuke, and Hyuuga Uwayaku.

Tsunade walked back. "Your teams have now been selected. The leader of each group will explain any essential information. All teams will report here tomorrow at noon. You will all set off to Lightning Country then. You're dismissed."

Shikamaru stared at his group members. 'Explain any essential information. What does she mean by that? I don't know any information.' He turned to face his team. Naruto and Kiba were bickering over something. Shikamaru could have sworn he heard 'Hinata.' He turned to face the other two members. The Aguni had walked over to the wall and laid down with his head rested against it. Shikamaru felt compelled to join him.

Seirei walked up to him. "Um, Shikamaru...san."

"Just Shikamaru. I'm younger than you are."

"Okay...Shikamaru...what exactly will we need to bring to Lightning Country?"

"I'm not sure. Go ask one of the jounin instructors." Shikamaru walked away.

Seirei's mouth hung ajar. "You're supposed to be our leader!" She shouted angrily. By then Shikamaru had already left. Frustrated, she walked over to Naruto and Kiba and pushed them apart. "Which of those two instructors," she gestured at Kakashi and Gai, "are more reliable?"

"Reliable?" Naruto asked.

"As in, on time, up-to-date, perfectly sane and helpful reliable?" Kiba added. They looked at each other and snickered. Then they burst out laughing. "Reliable." Naruto choked out. "Ha ha! That's a good one!"

"Why do I even bother?!" Seirei stormed out of the room in anger. 'I'm surrounded by incompetent, foolish, not to mention useless idiots!'


Kakashi stared at his new cell. 'I managed to get two of Gai's subordinates. I wonder if they improved any since the last exam.' "Well," he began, " why don't you tell me a bit about yourselves? You can tell me your favorite and least favorite things, and your dreams." He turned to Neji. "Let's start out with the Hyuuga."

"I don't want to tell you what I like. As of now, my least favorite things, or should I say 'persons,'" Neji pointed across the room, "are that bastard Uwayaku and Gai-sensei's over-flashy teeth." Tenten suppressed a snort. "I'm done."

"Okay. Tenten, your next."

"My favorite things are my weapons. My least favorite thing is when some one purposely ruins my weapons, and as Neji pointed out, Gai-sensei. My dream is to become the number one kunoichi in Konoha."

"Great. Alright, Morino Ikioi."

"Let's see...my favorite thing is confusing my opponent with genjutsu and making them look like fools. Teachers or people that irritate me are my main targets. I don't really have a lot of dislikes. My goal is to become a great interrogator like my uncle, Ibiki."

"You're related to Ibiki?"

"Yep. He and my father were cousins."

"Whatever." Kakashi turned to the last member of his cell. "Aburame Shino."

"Bugs. Kiba. Don't really have any." Shino speeded in monotone. Neji was impressed.

"Alright. Now I'll explain the terrain in Lightning Country. It can get pretty rocky and it has sparse trees. At this time of the year, there'll be a bit of sprinkling going on, so you'll want to pack accordingly. Meet me outside the tower at ten o'clock tomorrow." Kakashi made a hand seal. "Later." He disappeared in a puff of smoke.

"You know," Tenten started. "I heard he's always late. Maybe we should wait and arrive late..."

"I agree with Tenten. Gai-sensei always took pride on being on time. He said he was beating Kakashi-san." Neji joined.

"Alright then," Morino agreed, "it's decided."

They looked at Shino, who shrugged his shoulders. "Fine by me."


"Alright! I shall begin our team bonding by starting with the traditional introductions! First up-LEE!"

"Yes, Gai-sensei! My goal is to become a great shinobi using only taijutsu!" Lee exclaimed enthusiastically.

"Ah! An excellent dream Lee!" Both Gai and Lee were unaware of the looks of annoyance and repulse by the other members as they shared their sentiment. "Okay. Next is you! Hyuuga Uwayaku!"

"I want to become a strong shinobi and bring even more fame to the Hyuuga name."

'Another Hyuuga, my hand has a thing for getting Hyuuga's on my team.' "Alright! Now, Uchiha Sasuke! You are up!"

"I want to become strong enough to kill someone."

"Ah, yes..." Gai nodded. "It will be a long and hard journey before you accomplish that feat." Inwardly, he wondered it is was even possible. "Now, lastly, Aguni Hane."

"A little like the Hyuuga," Hane paused, "my goal is to save the Aguni clan and then have it be recognized as a superior clan." she paused. Her eyes turned red. "And I will crush anyone who gets in my way."

Gai listened intently. 'Three of my subordinates have blood limits. I must make sure to keep an eye on them so they don't bring too much harm to each other when they train.' "Okay. Tsunade-sama said to be here at noon, but I want you here at dawn! We will be starting a vigorous training routine to get you in shape for the exams."

Lee jumped in the air in joy. Sasuke was mildly interested. 'Now I'll be able to see how Lee trains. It may pay off, seeing how strong he is.'

Uwayaku and Hane stood to the side uninterested. "Are we done now? I'd like to go." Hane asked.

"Yes. You are free to go and spend your valuable youth!" Gai made a posture. "The great azure beast of Konoha will not take your precious time any longer today!"

"Whatever." She walked over to her brother and pulled him up by his hair. After much kicking and harsh words, Senshu finally stood up and reluctantly left.

Gai sighed. This would probably be a long trip.


That night found Iruka and Naruto sitting at the Ichiraku eating ramen. Naruto was happily shoving the noodles in his mouth and slurping them up. "Calm down, Naruto. At this rate, you might choke and miss the chuunin exams."

"Mph mm mph m-" Naruto started choking as a mouthful of ramen slipped down his throat. Iruka started to beat his back.

"Are you okay? Naruto?" He questioned worriedly.

Naruto took a large gulp. "Fine. Well, what I was saying was that you shouldn't worry. I'm going to make it to the chuunin exams, and I'm going to beat everyone with my secret weapon!"

"Secret weapon?"

"Yeah. The rasengan." Naruto replied proudly.

"Wow. The rasengan? That's quite a feat. Well, keep it up." Iruka laid his money on the counter. "Good luck, Naruto." He got up.

"Wait, where are you going? I'm not done eating yet!" Naruto protested.

"Err, sorry Naruto, but I don't have any money left to pay for more ramen. Tough luck." Iruka left.

"Hmph. Cheapskate." Naruto left the raman bar and walked home. He was nearing his apartment when he ran into someone. "Huh? Hey Hinata-chan!"

"H-hi, Naruto-kun," Hinata played with her fingers as a faint blush rose to her cheeks.

"Kiba and I were just talking about you this morning!"

"You, you were?" Hinata's hopes rose a bit.

"Yeah. Kiba said that you wanted him to win, but I said that you wanted me more."

"H-huh?" Hinata jumped in surprise.

"Oh, I mean in the last exams, when we fought."

"Oh."

"Well, it's obvious what the answer is. Anyway, what are you doing here?"

"A-actually, I w-was looking for you." She fiddled her hands nervously. "I wanted t-to wish you luck for t-the exams."

"Gee, thanks Hinata-chan. Wait 'til I tell Kiba. He's going to be so jealous! See ya!" Naruto ran off.


Tenten lay on her bed. 'I can't believe I'm on the same team as Neji again! I hope I do better than last time. That sand nin- Temari – she made me look like a child. Maybe this time I can impress Neji. Now that I've learned that new jutsu, I can have a big advantage over some people.' She rose from her bed and walked over to a shelf. 'Hmm. What scrolls should I take with me.' Her eyes scanned the scrolls that were lined against the wall. '
Shikamaru paced around his room, every now and then picking up an object and throwing it in his bag. 'This will be so troublesome.' He looked around his room and spotted his shougi and go boards. 'Maybe I can get someone to play with me.' An image of Temari crept into his head. 'Yeah! She's pretty good. I hope she goes to the exams, because I don't think Naruto will want to play.' He stuffed the two boards into his bag and tried to lift it. "Oof!" 'Maybe I over packed.'
A large fire burned in the center of a dark room. All that was seen were the orange flames that licked into the darkness. No light came from it, as if it were trapped inside the heart of the fire.

"It is now up to you." An old, worn voice creaked from the darkness. "We thought that we could save ourselves, but our path has strayed us further into the darkness. You must find a new path, that will free us. I feel our time is near. Hurry and find the key, before we are engulfed by the darkness."

"We will not fail."

The flames turned red, as if in protest and soared towards the ceiling. The old voice shouted a word. The flames were dragged down as they desperately tried to stretch upwards. Slowly, the flames became a light shade of violet. "Hurry! Go now!" The light steps of a pair of feet were heard as they escaped from the darkness.


Gai sat on the bow of a tree and waited for his new cell to arrive. First, Lee came. He immediately wanted to start training, but Gai told him to wait for his teammates. Next came Sasuke, he leaned against the wall of the tower, away from where Lee was sitting. A few minutes later, Hane showed up. Gai sat, irritated that it had taken so long for everyone to show up. The sun was now fully up and the Hyuuga still had not arrived.

"Alright everyone, I think it's obvious that Uwayaku will not be here until later, so we will start our training program without him."

"Yes!" Lee raised his fist in the air.

"Since this is your first day, I'll go easy on you by having you run twenty laps around Konoha to warm-up."

"Yes, Gai-sensei!" Lee made a pose and took off, leaving Sasuke and Hane in the dust.

"What do you mean twenty laps? That's crazy!" Hane shouted. "We'll never finish in time."

Sasuke smirked. "Then get started. Unless you can't make it. But I should have expected as much from a kunoichi."

Hane growled. "Can it pipsqueak." She took off, following Lee's trail. Sasuke was about to follow suit when Gai called him.

"What?" he was annoyed. He didn't want to get beaten by a girl, even if she was older than him.

"I must warn you. Do not get onto Hane's bad side. Much of her clan is shrouded in mystery, and she seems to have a short temper. You might end up getting hurt."

"Her clan is not really known, huh? Then that means they're weak, and there's nothing to worry about." Sasuke replied arrogantly. He ignored Gai and ran off.

Gai sighed. 'How does Kakashi manage him?' He turned away. 'Now I must find Uwayaku and punish him for his absence.' He walked towards the Hyuuga complex. When he reached it, he found Neji and Uwayaku training near the doorway. They were punching a beanbag as if there was no tomorrow. The poor bags didn't even have any time to return before they were angrily punched back.

Hinata stood to the side, nervously twiddling her fingers. When she saw Gai, she ran over to him. "P-please stop them, Gai-sensei! T-they have been at it a-all morning!"

Gai patted her on the shoulder and walked over to them. When they punched the bag again, he appeared on the other side and punched them back. Neji had enough sense to jump backwards, surprised as he was, but Uwayaku stood dumbly in shock as it came back and hit him full force. Gai commended Neji. 'Well, it looks like you're still in shape, despite being under my rival's training." He turned to Uwayaku. "As for you, you will be severely punished for missing my training. I want you to run 35 laps around Konoha! Now!"

"But-"

"Now I'll make it forty! Do you want anything else?"

Uwayaku groaned and started running. Neji smirked at him. He glared back. "Just you wait..."

"45 laps!" He gritted his teeth and ran off. Gai walked over to Neji. "Now, I don't want you two causing any trouble during the duration of this exam, understand?"

Neji turned away. "Whatever. If he provokes me, then I will fight him."

"B-but Neji-nii-san!" Hinata protested.

Gai sighed. Children these days never listened. "Then try and stay way from him."

"Why not tell him to stay away from me? Remember, from now until the exams are over, you are not my sensei, you're his."

"Very well. But you should be cautious." Gai said good bye to Hinata and took his leave.

"Neji-nii-san, y-you should listen to Gai-sensei." Hinata spoke nervously. "Uwayaku, he...he knows h-how to activate the c-curse seal."

Neji turned around. "What?" His eyes widened. 'If he knows it, then there is no doubt that he will use it against me.' "How did he learn it? He is not even an important member of the council. He doesn't matter."

Hinata looked at the ground. "H-his father thought t-that it would help him i-in the exams," her voice quieted.

He seethed with anger. No doubt the Hyuuga had wanted his son to learn it in order to get rid of any Branch members he encountered. It was further proof that Uwayaku was weak. "I'm going to be fine. If he even attempts it..." He didn't continue. "I'm going to meet my new cell now." Neji walked away, leaving Hinata behind.


It was noon and the three teams entered the Hokage tower to meet Tsunade. Everyone was there except Kakashi and Tsunade herself. Shikamaru rolled his eyes. Kiba and Naruto were arguing about 'Hinata' again. It looked like Naruto was winning. Senshu was standing besides a panting Hane. Seirei was telling all of her troubles to Uwayaku, who slumped on the ground, not listening. Everyone else stood around, waiting for Tsunade.

Kakashi finally appeared in a puff of smoke. Tenten immediately rushed over to him and demanded where he was. "Well, you see, I saw this guy using this super cool jutsu and I just had to ask him to teach me."

Ikioi rushed over to him. "Really? Wow! What was it? Can you show us?"

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "Well, you see, the guy swore me to secrecy. I'm not supposed to show it to anyone."

"Oh." Ikioi's grin faded. He was clearly disappointed. "That's too bad."

Tenten's eye twitched. "And you want to be an interrogator?! You'd probably believe that a guy standing in the middle of dead corpses with a bloody sword in his hand was innocent if he told you he was!" She took a deep breath.

It was Neji's turn to raise his eyebrow. "Don't you think that's going a bit too far, Tenten?"

Ikioi blinked his eyes in shock. Tsunade chose that moment to enter. "Well. I'm glad to see everyone is here on time today." Tenten fumed. "I just wanted to wish you luck and give you a map to Lightning Country. Remember, you're representing Konoha, so do your best."

"Yeah!" Naruto shouted. "Let's go kick some nin-butt!"

Hane stood up. Her eyes became a shade of red. Six tails of flames seemed to spin into her pupils. It begins.


A/N: Okay, I shouldn't have posted this, but since my other fic, The Uchiha Secret, is doing SO well (notice the sarcasm dripping) I decided to start another fic. I won't be updating this for a while, by a while, I mean a WHILE, as in a month. Meanwhile, please review! -chairomori

June 20, 2007 – I went through and edited this chapter. Man, there were so many grammatical errors I'm surprised no one told me about them! They're probably more even though I perused it for half an hour, but I probably got most of them. How do I feel about this chapter, looking back after two years? Hm. Some parts felt really awkward and amateurish, as well as undeveloped. I guess two years makes a big difference, huh? Anyway, enjoy! -chairomori