"Are you all ready?" It wasn't much of a surprise that Naruto shot him a glare, while Sasuke continued to look annoyed. "Did you all remember not to eat?" He wasn't really trying to weaken them with the trick. Kakashi had a whole team start vomiting during their bell test, forcing him to take them to the hospital, test them again, fail them again and get a new jonin vest. Elite ninja or no, not much fixes the memories of three prepubescent children vomiting on you from every direction as they tried to continue fighting.
"Let's go." Taking a half relaxed stance, Kakashi watched his three students tense.
"Alright, ready? Set." A needle flew out from the trees behind Kakashi that barely missed the bells string, instead striking the lightly painted metal. The light ringing sound set both Naruto and Sasuke off and together, they rushed him, kunai in hand and sharingan possessing their eyes.
Naruto attacked first, attempting a jump kick that brought up dozens of old memories. Just as he had done weeks earlier, Kakashi ducked under it, this time grabbing Narutos leg and flinging him into the second sharingan child. Or he tried to at least. A foot away from Sasuke, Naruto flipped, landing on all fours, bringing himself to a skidding stop. As if they had planned the battle, Sasuke jumped over him and hissed the first jutsu of the fight.
"Grand fireball technique."The sudden attack nearly overwhelmed Kakashi, who countered with a silent earth defense technique barely before it reached him. The sound of light footsteps and grass being crushed was his only warning to dodge, as Haku joined the battle, a needle slicing through were his throat had been. Well, what looked like her at least. The easiest proof against it was the bounding run, nearly the same as an Inuzuka.
'Fast, but not quite, Naruto.' Stopping a kick with his knee, Kakashi carefully kicked the illusion cloaked Naruto in the chin, launching him away, before turning to prepare for a next attack. Nothing. Spinning to look around for the two boys, he realized too late that the Naruto he kicked did not poof away.
"U!" As three clones fell, each launching a sharp front kick towards their teacher, midair. The one in front of Kakashi didn't even see the incoming attack or land for that matter, as a kunai went through his stomach dispersing him. The other two were neutralized by simply stepping away and in seconds, another was destroyed by a punishing kick to the skull.
"Zu!" Grabbing the last clone on the ground by the neck, Kakashi flung him up into an incoming wave of clones. Said Naruto twisted until he was facing the ground again and yelled two things Kakashi never expected. First was, "Now Sasuke!" A testament to how close they had grown, as Sasuke would never allow the class clown to order him around before. "Grand fireball technique!" followed the first phrase as a loud cover attack.
An impressive, but weak fireball shot down, overwhelming the other Narutos who were passing him on their way down. As the ball of flames got closer to its target, kunai and shuriken sliced through it, peppering the ground around Kakashi. Giving them a chance to test their technique, Kakashi ignored the thin wires loosely cocooning around him, instead only countering the large fire with a simple water jutsu, which bled the near arid grass dry.
"Dueling Fire dragons technique!" Several dozen flames danced down the wires, wrapping Kakashi in a chakra fed pyre. It was…unimpressive. Expecting something more interesting, Kakashi was not disappointed when he sensed a surge of chakra explode above him, before it jumped towards him. Wisely choosing not to humor the two any longer, he replaced himself with a log and puffed away.
Sasuke, cloaked with illusions to make him look like Naruto, landed calmly beside the flame angrily feeding itself on the dry plants. "We need to do better." Four more Naruto landed around him and rushed to catch their falling master.
"It's time for Haku to join us." It stung, but even with Kakashi obviously underestimating their skill, they were not even close to getting the bell from him. Asking Haku to help would trample their egos, but victory would be worth it.
"I'll keep trying. Get Haku and figure something out." Sasuke and Naruto rushed off in opposite directions, one towards Konoha and the other deeper into the forest. Haku was supposed to watch from the sidelines, so it would not take too long to find her. If her help would be enough, was the question on their minds.
Sasuke broke from his sprint, looking for any signs of a disturbance. Either Kakashi had retreated fully, or he was going after Naruto and Haku first.
"I know you're here! Get out here and fight me!" The sound of a page being flipped, probably just to annoy him, made Sasuke smirk. This time, Kakashi would be an easy target. The thought that he wasn't a large enough threat without Naruto helping him died, as he thought out is next move.
"You two really are trying everything, aren't you? I suppose I should be relieved that you figured out working together helps, but you can't beat me outright." Sasuke formed several seals, spun and spat a small fireball at his teacher. The fireball was sidestepped and the kunai hidden inside of it was yanked out, without Kakashi even looking up. Unenthusiastically, he casually threw the blade behind him, the knife barely sliding pass the Naruto clone sneaking up on him.
"You've been reading your clan techniques, I see." Sasuke's sharingan memorized every motion, recording the exact movements that allowed his teacher to remove the flying blade. Then, with barely a shared look, he and the clone both charged Kakashi. The clone, who reached their mutual target first, took a solid kick to the stomach as Kakashi spun to defend himself, before rolling away and coming back full force, this time launching a punch that Kakashi pushed off to a side. Sasuke took his chance and jump kicked at Kakashi's head, even as he twisted his body to reach for a bell with the one hand. It was perfect.
The perfection was ruined when Kakashi completely avoided engaging him, while jumping over the now falling Naruto's sweep kick. Flipping mid air, he landed barely a foot away from them, not even outside of their basic attack range. He didn't need to move any further.
A sound stole the Naruto's attention, making the two to dodge away from their overlapping area before they even knew what it was. With far more noise than necessary, another Kakashi dropped down from the concealing trees and stood waiting for them to attack. Then another fell. And another.
"Sasuke…Time for a new plan." An understatement only an idiot like Naruto could make, as twenty Kakashi surrounded them.
"Sasuke loves me. He just wants to make sure that I'm better than all the other girls. He knows, but he wants to be sure!" Sakura clutched at her only picture of her crush, tears slowly warping and destroying the precious photo. They hadn't really stopped falling since team Seven returned.
"Sakura? Get out here NOW!" 'Our parents are a distraction. This is their fault. It has to be their fault.' "SAKURA?"
"Naruto doesn't have parents. Sasuke doesn't have parents. It made them stronger. I can't have any distractions…I need to be closer to them if I want Sasuke to act on his love for me." One could claim that the voice only she heard belonged to her, but to the girl it was obvious that inner Sakura was a completely separate entity, totally devoted to their well-being. Likewise, her own mind was free of everything, but her consuming purpose. "If I can get just a little stronger, Sasuke will see I'm good enough for him. I'll be his true love and he'll kill Naruto before we move into an Uchiha mansion. I'll be Mrs. Uchiha. He'll love me."
"You haven't eaten all day Sakura! Please come out! Kakashi said you were just getting a private tutor! You can still be a ninja with your little friends!" 'They don't understand us. We have true love on our side! Being on Sasuke's team helped us stand out. Let us get closer to him.'
"I can't live without him." 'We can…we will kill our parents first, so we can catch up to the others. Then eliminate Haku and Naruto. Kakashi too, if he stands in our way. We just need to get ready for it.'
Delusional as the girl was, even then she knew that all of the people she needed to take down were stronger than her. Sasuke acknowledged Naruto's strength. He respected Haku and Kakashi. Kakashi would protect Naruto until his dying breath and, if his speeches were any clue, would do everything in his power to continue his job afterwards.
'True love concurs all. They won't stop our destiny.'"You will be mine Sasuke. I won't let them stop me. I'll always be with you." More tears streamed down her face as inner Sakura fell silent. Her prep talk over, Sakura let a precise amount of chakra flow to her hand, flushing the tears out of its prized cargo.
"Sakura?" Her mother was just outside the door. Carefully placing the picture on her pillow, Sakura bolted to the door to appease her mom. "Are you ok?"
Sakura nodded, forcing her smile up a notch in radiance. 'I have to become stronger. Sasuke will love me.' Her only picture of team Seven fluttered at a sudden gust from the open window beside her bed, but a thin stand of pink chakra anchored it to the pillow. 'I will become stronger.'
"That was bad." Sasuke and Haku nodded at this statement. The team had been brutally defeated. Kakashi barely accommodated to them at all, stopping each of them as if they were opposing jonin. Only Naruto escaped visibly unscathed, but that was mostly because his skin refused to bruise. Occasionally unable to tell the difference between the original Naruto and his clones, Kakashi hit him with a real attack, to the point that if he didn't contain Kyuubi he wouldn't be alive, let alone able move. His clones could barely stand, excluding the occasional elemental clone that somehow ignored his injuries.
"He is stronger than I expected." As soon as Haku joined the fray, Kakashi's sharingan made an appearance. Her techniques while fast and deadly, were actually countered by Sasuke and Naruto's redirected assault. They hadn't prepared for that intense of a fight and with conflicting attacks, Kakashi's experience got the better of them.
Sasuke remained silent, his thoughts already understood. This time, Kakashi was fighting like a jonin and although he held back on offensive jutsu, he had still taken them down with little difficulty. They were missing something. A new loophole was waiting for them.
"What could he want us to do?" The Naruto tore through the utterance, digging through everything he could connect to it. "We need to cheat somehow." The blond haired nin took his turn next.
"We need to go past getting a bell then. We can go straight to the Hokage or impersonate Kakashi somehow." They looked to Haku for her opinion.
"Kakashi wished for you to work together last time, correct?" The barest of nods prompted her to proceed. "He is instilling the virtues of a village ninja in you. Teamwork is the first. Next would be cunning. After that, discipline."
Sasuke almost visibly batted her comment away. He already knew all that he needed about the virtues. Naruto however, fell to deep concentration. "Cunning…we should definitely try my idea. If the Hokage makes our team official, Kakashi can't do a thing about it." Haku suddenly became tense.
With a single fluid motion, she sapped water out of the air and formed a needle, but the sudden threat was upon them before she could snatch it away. With an almost taunting impression of a smile, Kakashi dropped the smudged bell before Haku, letting it land on her discarded frozen weapon. The still functioning bell let out a pleasant ringing sound out before the ice dissolved from the heat of the soon to set sun.
"You pass." He chuckled, before the impression of a smile faded under his mask. "You figured it out, so I will make sure Team Seven will now consist of Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha and Haku Uchiha. However, from now on, you may not overrule me with the Hokage or the council. If you can't get permission for something, take it as training and do something else." Naruto and Sasuke both nodded.
"Train us." Both boys demanded this, as soon as his speech was over. Haku seemed impartial to the whole matter, but with Sasuke and Naruto, he was left with little choice.
"Enthusiastic I see. It won't do you much good though. You three are only as strong as most of our chunin right now, so right now you must be dead tired. Rest for tonight. At dawn tomorrow, you start your training." Two quick oxygen-depriving punches and both of the boys, already worn down to their last legs, were on the ground unconscious. With one last encouraging nod towards Haku, he took to the trees.
In less than a minute, he arrived at his own house and ignoring the easiest way in, as most ninja did, manipulated the window open. Preparing for a short rest, a weak presence passed over his roof forcing him to become alert again. Broadening his senses he followed the presence until it was a reasonable distance away from him, before he continued his preparation. It was oddly familiar, but instead of thinking about it more, he wiped off several thin slashes the three had inflicted upon him and ate. Admitting it would ruin their training, but the three were a lot closer to jonin level together than he was comfortable with and they could only become stronger still.
A relatively small, pink figure traced his steps back to her old team, hunting down her single purpose for life. It wasn't too difficult to find them, the still burning trees called as much attention to the area as puddles of dissolving ice throughout the forest. Perching herself on a tree above them, Sasuke immediately faced her greatest enemy. As Sakura glared down at the girl gathering up her love and Naruto, Haku matched her gaze silently. Deadlocked, the two refused to shift, coldly sizing each other up.
'She looks tired.' Haku did look slightly scruffy, but compared to Sasuke she was virtually unscathed. The two boys were out cold on either side of her, a determined expression frozen on their faces. Naruto stirred slightly, breaking Haku's stare, but Sakura knew the other girl was still waiting for her to act. Thus, she retreated. A faint hint of pink remained, even as she slinked away to watch the transportation of the two Uchiha from afar, marveling at her love's ability to look powerful in his sleep.
"You can't defend Naruto forever, Haku." Haku quickly escaped her gaze, but the route was simple enough. Sasuke always slept in the home his parents planned to give to Itachi. It was the closest to Konoha's ever-present forest and the most important place in town for the dedicated nin, the Hokage's office. It was also the first of her love's conquests. She would make it her home soon enough.
The air was amazingly crisp and refreshing as Naruto's blue eyes cracked open. Yawning, he rolled out of bed, unwilling to let his weary, but rejuvenated body to support him any more than necessary. Almost crawling to the door, his powerful senses and instincts finally alerted him to the presence of two other beings in the room.
Haku lay against the wall under the window, eyes closed. Sasuke was in the second bed in the slightly cramped room, black eyes barely opening as he sat up. Wanting to taunt his cousin at his slow awakening, Naruto instead mumbled something barely within the restriction of speech, which didn't even register in his mind. Though it was a pathetic wake up, it was as natural as fighting to them.
"Good morning masters." Haku stood completely alert now, still by the window. With a sigh, she canceled a subtle flow of chakra that and immediately, the room started to warm up. Not willing, or able to ask questions this early in the morning, both boys proceeded to one of the small home's two bathrooms to complete their morning routines.
Haku, alert though still tired from not sleeping through the night, invested a small amount of chakra on speeding the restoration processes of her body, while silently patrolling the other rooms of the house.
It was…an ordinary morning in their family.
The three finished their first activities of the day and collected in the house's small kitchen to try to create a small breakfast when a knock sounded at the door. More from reflex than anything else, Naruto immediately rushed to the door and opened it widely to the Uchiha household's first visitor of the day, Kakashi.
"Time to train. You all have ten minutes to eat and get dressed, then meet me at the Uchiha training grounds." Sasuke a resentful growl at the assumption that their property could be used, but it quickly faded into the sound of bacon sizzling and toasts being buttered.
They rushed through the meal, most of the food barely making it off whatever it was prepared on, before they finished, plates unmarred. Getting dressed, each with their backs to the others was even faster and with five minutes to spare, the three were out and on their way. The three took the fastest path along roofs and landed as one behind Kakashi, painfully ready for action with time to spare.
"You're early." Though he didn't have his little orange book this time, he still seemed to be trying to avoid direct eye contact with them. "You need to perfect being exactly on time. Too early and you can expose your team. Too late and your team will die without you. Your team should never be inconvenienced by your timing." That seemed to be all he wanted to say, as for several minutes he didn't say anything, or even make a move to look at them.
"You called us here to waste our time?" Sasuke turned and started walking away, heading towards the teams preferred training ground. "I have too much training to do for this."
Kakashi let him get five steps, before springing into action, nine kunai piercing the air towards his students. Haku hit each of them with a single needle, redirecting them into the ground prematurely. In the two-second exchange, neither Naruto nor Sasuke batted an eye, Naruto watching the proceedings with slight interest and Sasuke frozen five feet away.
"I'm supposed to train you three, but you're actively fighting against it. Haku can't fight your battles for you." This got the two boys attention. Naruto zeroed him on Kakashi, sharingan alight as Sasuke turned, his eyes doing the same. "Teamwork isn't depending on one person to fight for you." That was all he needed to say.
"I'll take this fight." Naruto formed a thin wall of clones, obscuring Sasuke and Haku. "I'll prove I can stand on my own." It was easily obvious that he would lose, but how badly would swell or shatter their collective ego.
With no further warning, half of the clones surged forward, kunai drawn and pace slightly off with each other. The first was caught in the stomach with a kick before he could try to attack, but the next learned from his predecessor's mistake. Taking aim, he threw his blade carefully in Kakashi's direction, before he started doing hand seals. A foot to his side, Kakashi caught the blade and returned it, nailing the clone in the forehead with its handle. The shock of the return, more than the pain of the blunt impact, made him freeze up as Kakashi seized the falling blade and held its handle against the first Naruto's throat.
"You switched with the first clone as soon as it attacked." Naruto let the other clones explode into dust. The group watched as the blade spun on their teacher's hand, slicing along Naruto's throat, before blood gushed from the fatal wound. With one last betrayed look in his eyes, the clone violently exploded, dissipating into wandering chakra. "You aren't the real Naruto though."
Large roots ripped themselves violently from the ground, augmented to unreal sizes with chakra, then lashed out at him. Within seconds, they trapped his feet and in just a few more, they had coiled around his body, squeezing him to a violent death. The limp corpse remained in the root's clutches, until a growth of white hair appeared on the ground, which seemed to signal the illusion to fall, leaving a splintered log in its place. A startled shout and the two opponents were ejected from the ground, leaving victory visible to all who cared to see it. Kakashi had encased Naruto in a humiliatingly immobilizing bear hug with one arm and once again held the wrong end of a knife in the other. It was over.
"Will I have to beat one of you each time I want to teach you something?" Naruto stared at the ground, his sharingan dying embers in his blue eyes. "Now, will you let me do my job, or do I have to do the same with you Sasuke?" Sasuke growled, looking equally angry with himself as he was with one of the two standing in front of him.
"Then teach us something! I'll fight you until I die of exhaustion, if it means you'll actually teach us." Kakashi automatically looked to Sasuke for the first part, but upon hearing the second sentence, turned to Naruto. Only their favorite blond could make such a promise.
"You really want to get stronger?" There was no opposition here. "Alright. I'll teach you something interesting, after you do a small workout every day. Then give me ten laps up and down a large tree, with ten pushups when you reach the middle going up and twenty sit ups when you're coming down." Three blurs answered whether they were committed to learning.
"I just hope I'm good enough to teach them." Doubt never reached the prodigy's eyes as he tracked down his students to watch them exercise. Keeping a close eye on two of them in particular, Kakashi let out a breath he was holding in when he realized there was no anger or hatred in their eyes. "I hope I know enough to keep them loyal." The three dropped as one, each landing uniquely, before turning to him, thirsty for the knowledge that flowed through his veins and spilled as his blood.
They would be sure that, of that blood, they had their fill.
Barely able to feel his own body, Naruto rolled out of bed and after a minute of enjoying the slightly dirty floor, stood. Not remembering when he laid down, he trudged out of the otherwise empty bedroom and headed straight to the kitchen to full his roaring stomach. It was a good plan, until he realized the house was deafeningly silent. A simple note, tacked to the refrigerator with a kunai, answered all of his questions.
"Gone training. Wake up sooner. Idiot." Too tired to be annoyed at his closest relative's abusive writing, he did his first jutsu for the day.
'Shadow clone technique.' A clone appeared before him, but it was already obvious it was a defect. Its eyes had a mutant sharingan, the tomoe split into sides by a long slit. While the whisker birthmarks didn't cause any concern, despite being at least twice as large a normal, its hair was longer and seemed to be tinted red. With an annoyed grunt, he dispelled it mentally, but as he formed the signs again, he realized it hadn't disappeared. Or moved.
"I really should figure out what's up with these duds." Forming a kunai, with much more effort than he normally needed, he stabbed the flawed copy through the stomach. The force of the attack knocked it down, but it still refused to disappear. Blood even rose from the wound, dyeing its shirt around the brutal stab. Therefore, he formed another, this time slitting its throat, to dispel it. Finally, it burst in a puff of smoke, taking its blood and his weapon with it. With a sigh, Naruto started back up the stairs, to retrieve his gear.
"Ok, no messenger then. I guess I'll go myself." He returned to the shared room, tossed on his single favorite outfit and was out the window, tracking down his family. They were, of course, at the same training grounds as before, the three practicing earth jutsu.
"You're late. Sasuke has already died twice today." Kakashi repeated the jutsu's hand-seals for Naruto and, thinking nothing of this, Naruto tried to imitate it seal-less. "The stone wall technique. Haku has mastered it already. Channel it through your legs when you just need a shield and through your arms when you need a strong one., and have a bit of extra time." Drawing chakra and forcing it to navigate the same general paths as it did in Kakashi, Naruto hit a spiritual brick wall. His chakra refused to flow further once it hit his legs.
"Odd…take a walk around the forest and see if you can get chakra through them WITHOUT blowing them off. Only push a little and if it starts hurting, stop." Naruto grumbled at the dismissal, before jumping into a tree and starting his journey around the forest. After only a minute of travel, a heavy smell of dogs struck his nose, stopping him in his tracts. Under the heavy smell, there was a slight hint of flowers.
'Might as well check it out.' Barely changing directions, he followed the smells to their sources, until he burst from the tree line, onto a training field. Before him, two Kibas circled Hinata and Shino, in what must have been one of their more intense training exercises. Their practice lasted only a few clashes, until the dog-like boys sniffed the air. Their transformation failing simultaneously, the two disappeared in a puff of smoke and in their place, stood Kiba and a small dog.
"Yo, Naruto! Want to join us?" A dozen small fireballs hurling toward the group was all the answer they needed.
"I'm sorry. I…" A claw cleaved the Water general's arm off, not that he was really prepared to use it. There wasn't much fight left in him after a week of fighting the mutated clone generals. "I guess I'll never be Hokage. Goodbye Shadow" The shadow general split Water's skull open, finishing the Water master completely. As the aquatic corpse fell, it slowly broke down into a clear, thick gel, which bubbled and fizzed on the deep red floor. In a rapid, strange reaction, the bluish fizz built itself up, into an almost human figure; a stature in tribute of the fallen general.
Shadow, in all his furry glory, waded up to the statue, offering a prayer for what had been a comrade in another life. With a soft pat on the statues back, he twisted the residual chakras from their battle into a small, egg-like shape. Said egg, he clenched in his paw/fist, binding it to his will, before taking hold of the dead general with the other.
"Come on. We have work to do." Chakra oozed off Water, forcefully wrapping itself around the egg, until it doubled the small item's size. Then, in an unnatural twist of evolution, it grew, stretching and twisting, until it took the form of a small fox kit. Said fox stared up at its creator, dazed, confused and hungry for attention. "So this is what it's like to be a father…" The kit licked his hand, sniggling into the larger beast's fur.
"So, you finally took him down?" Fire hadn't changed as much as Shadow had, thin red fuzz covering all of his visible body and odd muscles bulging as fox, demon and human all conflicted within him, but he could still easily pass as a human. His tail, bushy with orange, blond and red fur swayed, imitating a fiery snake, as he looked down at his leader the ceiling.
"He was a strong opponent. Remind me that we grow more powerful when we're around our own elements." Placing the kit on their lord's chakra, so it could become accustom to their master's chaotic chakra, Shadow bid his final farewell to the water general's monument. "We should get moving. The new Water will take a few weeks to master his abilities, so he can stay here." The baby looked up, distracted form half swimming, half walking of the rich red fluid. "Father wants us back…he said we should return to him after killing these humans, so we can start his ritual." Shadow bound to the ceiling, landing crouched on the stone.
"Let's go then, big brother." Taking advantage of their modified bodies, the two dropped on all fours and took off towards the center of Naruto's chakra network. "On the way, could we make a quick stop? Please?" Shadow looked over his shoulder, before nodding.
"Sure. Your kit might finally be a bit more mature." A turn at the next intersecting hallway sent them on their way to the grave and nest of Earth. The red sea rose a few more inches, as the two made their way deeper into the sewer that was a young 'Uchiha'.
AN: ya…crappy ending, but I wanted to get this out as fast as possible. I think it's alright…good enough for now, but not much progress. Next chapter will bring…something interesting. I don't know if I said there would be romance, but I might toss in a little, to make up for going so long without updating. If there is romance, it won't be mushy…since romance is almost last on team seven's priority list, there will probably be at least a few missed dates, due to someone wanting to train.
And…since one of the boys in the team will get a…girlfriend? Love interest? Non-training partner? Some combination of those… Since one of the boys will have a girl around them, that isn't devoting her time solely on training and getting stronger, the other might get one as well…don't worry though. I will never let them wimp out… think of it as a reward for being patient while I was lazy…
Oh, ya...Sakura will be a semi insane, creepy stalker. if you diagnose her mental disorder, which was made obvious early in the anime, it's go much smoother. I figured an insane student is perfect for an insane teacher... try to guess which jonin will get her, and what mental disorder she has.