I'm not dead. I swear. A zombie….maybe. I'm not really sure anymore. When was the last time I updated this thing? Christmas? I've been so amazingly busy, it's not even funny. It doesn't help that the latest chapters are making me lose interest in Naruto. (

Usual disclaimers apply.

'Did we pass this tree already'

Naruto sat on the stump of a tree that looked like it had been blown apart by…something powerful. Possibly from the last exam.

"We've been here before" said Sasuke, inspecting the mushrooms that littered the glade across from the blown apart tree. "I remember seeing these earlier."

"Do you think it's a genjutsu?" asked Sakura. She pushed her fingers together and released chakra in order to check. Nothing happened.

"I think Sasuke just likes leading us into circles" said Naruto, laughing at the glare that earned him from both his teammates."

"I think we should go up higher. At least that way we can see farther away and scout for opponents." suggested Sakura.

"Sounds good to me!" said Naruto, leaping from his stump and up onto another tree's branches. Sakura and Sasuke shared a look before following him up.

Climbing up higher into the canopy of the forest they were able to see evidence of fights that had occurred around them.

"How long has it been since the beginning of the second exam?"

"About 3 days, I think."

"We need to stop screwing around and find another team that has the Earth scroll. Fast." said Sasuke.

"How fortunate. It seems we want the same thing. Well- maybe not exactly the same" a voice chuckled a voice from behind them. Three ninja's melded out of the trees behind them. Their headband showed that they were from the Rain country. "We need the Heaven scroll. Hand it over please."

"Not a chance." said Sakura, pulling out a kunai from her pouch and holding it out in front of her.

"That's too bad. It looks like we'll have to use force." said on of them. It was hard to tell which one had said it because they wore masks that covered their mouths. Naruto instantly thought of Kakashi.

"Rain is such an interesting country. It has an amazing view of the Ocean"

'Don't care'

"How mean"

"Pay attention idiot!" yelled Sasuke as he pushed Naruto out of the path of a kunai.

'See! This is why you don't talk to me in a fight. I can't concentrate.' he yelled at Kyuubi.

Naruto bounded off the tree, landing on his feet. Taking out a kunai of his own, he signaled for Sasuke and Sakura to move away from their opponents. They jumped back as the rain ninja melded back into the trees with a spray of senbons.

"We don't know their skills, so be careful." Sasuke reminded them.

"Well duh" answered Naruto rolling his eyes.

"Shut up, both of you!" Sakura whispered harshly. "Listen. Do you hear that?"

Naruto and Sasuke stopped and listened in the direction that the Rain ninjas disappeared to.

"What are they doing? They're giving their positions away to us" whispered Sasuke.

As he said this, two of the ninjas were catapulted out of the trees and onto the ground before them, unconscious. Both of them were soaking wet.

'Oh no….please tell me she didn't.'

The third and final ninja was thrown in front of them with the Earth Scroll sticking out of his pocket. Naruto couldn't help but feel somewhat proud even though she went against his wishes.

"You guys grab the scroll, I'm going to check out what happened." he said to his team.

"Are you crazy!? Whatever's out there just took out three ninjas! It might be another team." said Sakura, grabbing his arm.

"But why would another team leave the scroll. Even if they had the same scroll, it would make more sense to destroy the scroll and cut down a potential team." said Sasuke, his eyebrows scrunched in thought.

"Don't worry, I won't get hurt. If it's another team, I won't attack. Just stay here." said Naruto, pulling his arm out of Sakura's grasp. With those last words, he leaped into the trees where the Rain ninjas had originally come from. Standing in the middle of the area, so he could be easily heard, he called out to her.

"Nina" he said quietly.

No one answered.

"I'm not mad, Nina. Just come out." he pleaded.

No one answered, again.

"Okay look. Just… head home. Please. I mean- Thanks for the help, but we want to do this ourselves. We won't feel like we deserve this if you do this for us. And I don't want you to get hurt either." he said.


Naruto turned around to face the small form between two adjacent trees. He smiled at her as she slipped back into her watery form and headed away from him, towards the entrance of the forest. Or at least, where he thought the entrance was. At this point, Naruto couldn't tell where he was. He hoped that Nina had a better sense of direction then he did.

Scratching the back of his head and sighing softly, Naruto made his way back to where his teammates were. When he got there he saw that they had tied up the three Rain ninja to a tree. They were still unconscious, which was good. At least they wouldn't be able to explain what had happened.

"What did you find?" asked Sasuke.

"There was nothing there. Whatever attacked them is long gone" 'Home, I hope'

"We have the scroll. We shouldn't look the gift horse in the mouth. Let's get to the tower." suggested Sakura.

"But it doesn't make sense. How do we even know that that's the actual scroll? It could be a trick. Whoever did this might have made a fake scroll. We'll get to the tower without the requirements." said Sasuke.

"How can we tell? They said not to open it until the tower. If this is the real thing, they we could get disqualified." said Sakura.

"It's the real thing." cut in Naruto. When they looked at him incredulously, he quickly added, "Just trust me okay? I think whoever did this is on our side. They would have attacked us when we were separated if they weren't."

Sakura and Sasuke looked at each other, still wary of the scroll in Sakura's hand.

"…fine. But if we come across another team we should try to get their scroll just in case." said Sasuke. Sakura nodded, agreeing with his idea.

Sakura placed the scroll into her kunai pouch. Looking at each other once again, they head off into the direction of the tower.

"Did you see what happened to those Rain ninjas we hired?"

"Not really, Lord Orochimaru. They just seemed to start choking. It seemed that they were almost…drowning were they stood. Their body language suggested asphyxiation consistent with drowning. All of a sudden they were thrown out of the canopy."

"That's good enough, Kabuto. We'll have to watch out. And I'll have to act soon. They have the last scroll, so they'll start heading to the tower. You should start heading over there as well. We wouldn't want you to get disqualified."

"Of course."

"It was Gross!" said Sakura, shuddering from the memory.

"What are you talking about!? That thing was awesome. I've never seen one that big!" said Naruto.

"Shut up, idiot. You're too loud." groaned Sasuke.

"You shut up, bastard!" yelled Naruto.

'Not again' thought Sakura.

"So loud." drawled a voice behind them. Team 7 turned around to face a single ninja.

"Is it just me or do we really suck at noticing people around us?" asked Naruto.

"I don't like this guy. Be careful. His chakra is extremely high for a human." said Kyuubi.

'How much stronger?' asked Naruto

"Your teacher has nothing on this guy."

'Well shit'

"I can make this easy for you. Hand over your scroll and I will kill you quickly." the enemy said.

"Isn't it supposed to be 'or I kill you'?" asked Sasuke, sliding into a defensive stance.

The enemy ninja, who seemed to be from Grass country, simply chuckled.

"How funny. However, those are the terms." he said, licking his lips. The three of them shuddered when they saw just how long that tongue was. It reminded Naruto of a snake's tongue.

Next thing they knew, the ninja had disappeared from his original place. Naruto tensed as he looked around for him. There was no seeable trail. It was like the enemy ninja disappeared into thin air.

It was only the sound of an intake of breath and a fleshy 'thump' that allowed him to locate the enemy ninja.

Sasuke fell to the ground as the Grass ninja's knee connected with his stomach. Retching onto the ground, Sasuke grasped the area that was hit.

Sakura, seeing him fall to the ground hurled a kunai towards the ninja, forcing him to jump away from Sasuke.

"Are you okay!?" she shrieked, as she ran over to him and knelt down.

"Y-yeah. He just surprised me." he wheezed. "He has a powerful kick."

"How interesting. Most people would be unable to move so soon from something like that." said the Grass ninja, laughing.

Naruto moved in front of Sakura and Sasuke, between them and the enemy ninja.

"Sakura, help Sasuke and get out of here. I'll distract him." he said quietly, his eyes never leaving the Grass ninja.

"What are you talking about!?" said Sakura, looking at him as if he was crazy.

"He's a lot stronger than he looks. We can't beat him." he said seriously. He reached into his pockets and started to maneuver his gloves on. Naruto hoped that he wouldn't need to use them with Sakura and Sasuke in sight.

"If we can't beat him, what makes you think you alone could." said Sasuke as he tried to stand up.

"I never said I was trying to beat him. Just trying to distract him so-"

"How rude. It's not polite to talk between yourselves when someone else is here." teased the enemy ninja.

"Just GO" Naruto said.

"We're not leaving you here, Naruto!" yelled Sakura, her madness clearly visible at the thought of leaving him to fight by himself. Sasuke's glare said the same thing.

Naruto sighed at his teammate's stubbornness, though part of him was touched that his team cared so much about him.

Sighing to himself, he put his hands together and created two Kage Bunshins. Without even telling them what to do, they turned around and picked up Sakura and Sasuke and darted off farther into the woods.

"I put enough chakra into them so that they won't disappear to soon." he explained to the enemy ninja, so he wouldn't think they were coming back.

"Very noble. Unfortunately, you are not the one I'm looking for. I'll have to kill you here quickly so I can go and catch your friend, Sasuke."

Naruto eyes narrowed.

"What do you want with him." he asked

"Ah! I said too much." The Grass ninja laughed. "Not that it matters anyways. I'm going to kill you." He disappeared.

This time, Naruto knew what to expect. He ducked down as an arm above him thrust a kunai into the space where his head used to be. Lunging sideways, he put space between them. Naruto brought his now gloved hand out in front of him as the enemy ninja straightened out of his lunging stance.

"You're very fast, aren't you, you bastard." he hissed.

Once again, the enemy ninja just chuckled maliciously. That laugh was starting to really to really piss him off.

"Like I said, I don't have time to play with you. The exam is almost up, so I need to finish before the end."

"Bastard, I won't let you past me." said Naruto, as he held up his gloved hand in snapping position.

This seemed to be even funnier, because the Grass ninja started full blown laughing. "And just what do you think that's going to do? I've dealt with techniques that use sound, boy. You could say that I deal with…Sound quite often."

"Well then. How lucky for me that this has nothing to so with sound." he smirked as his fingers snapped together. The friction of the gloves sparked the air, leading in a fiery line straight to the offending ninja.

Seeing the line of fire coming at him, the ninja jumped out of the way. The following explosion, however, caught him completely off guard. The explosion took out the entire area where the ninja had been standing. The surrounding tree continued burning.

Coughing as he sat up, Naruto mentally reminded himself that he should remember to stand farther away from the target next time.

'Man that was awesome! I didn't think it would be that powerful!'

"Don't get too relaxed. That attack didn't kill him…I don't sense his chakra nearby anymore. I think you should get to the tower. You'll be safer there in case he comes back."

'My clones are already there. So are Sakura and Sasuke. The clones are pretty battered though. Sakura sure can pack a punch.' he chuckled.

Naruto leapt up from his sitting position and started sprinting towards the tower. Hopefully he could get there before someone discovered his team in their hiding place.

At least they had the scrolls. Though something told him this was going to be an even long exam after this part.

The black bird above him squawked once. The fox that soon sat in it's place, jumped down to the forest floor and followed.

Please review. I know the chapters are pretty short, but this is all I have time for right now. Enjoy guys!