A/N: Hello! Just a warning that this is a redo of A Test of Insanity. Since I can't bring myself to take down the original, I'm going to be replacing chapters one at a time, or in the case of this first one, three at a time. If enough people bug me about it, I'll post the old story as a separate story. There won't be much difference between this version and the old one, except for the quality of writing. Also, this story was written at a point in the manga when all characters involved were still alive and mostly evil. Some changes may reflect new manga developments. Maybe a more detailed plot. I don't know. We'll see. Thanks for reading this again for old readers, and welcome to new readers!
Important note: This chapter replaces the first three chapters of the original A Test of Insanity. The rest of the story is still in its original form and has not been edited yet.
Disclaimer: I do not and will not own Naruto…such is the sad story of my life.
In the darkness of a cell, a pair of eyes shot open. The eyes—an interesting shade of cornflower blue—began searching the dank walls of their confinement, exploring all the angles and corners. The girl, for the eyes were inexplicably the right kind of shape for a girl, groaned in pain and shifted her long blonde hair away from the growing bump on the back of her head. Her entire body stilled as she took in the foul smell that pervaded her holding cell—a strange mixture between rotting garbage and urine. What lovely accommodations, she thought to herself sarcastically. The entirety of her head felt as though it was about to explode, but she had almost no chakra to heal herself. She guessed that she had been drained shortly before being locked in her current residence. Luckily, she was not being uncomfortably restrained, her captors correctly guessing that she was harmless without any chakra or weapons. Besides, if her memory was still functioning fully, she had been captured by the Akatsuki. No, not she, they. She had not been alone. And it was at that precise moment of recollection that Yamanaka Ino slumped against the wall behind her in annoyance.
The floors and walls were made of cement and were distinctly wet to the touch, a sure sign that her cell was somewhere below ground. Ino shivered slightly, her small purple tank top not doing much to protect her from the invading chill that spread throughout the subterranean prison. She had already noted the smell as being distinctly unpleasant, but she still had to fight the feeling of nausea as a new wave of the fetid odor wafted around her. However, no matter how dreadful the circumstances, Ino knew that it was unlikely that she would be able to escape. After all, not only her, but also Tenten and Sakura had been easily overpowered by just two of the Akatsuki, and Ino could feel at least two more chakra signatures drifting around somewhere above her head. No, she had more of a chance of convincing Shikamaru to quit being such a lazy ass than escaping from her current position.
Thinking about her friends, Ino wondered what had happened to Tenten and Sakura. She knew that the other two had been rendered unconscious in the battle against the two Akatsuki, but she had no idea what had happened to them after that. Did Akatsuki leave them in the middle of the forest? Did they kill them and leave their bodies to rot there? The thought made Ino shiver more than the cold. She didn't feel their chakra anywhere in the surrounding areas, but she had never been as good at sensing it as Sakura. Either they were just as drained as she was, in which case Ino would never have been able to sense them, or they weren't there. But why would they take her? Sakura would have made some perverse sense to kidnap. Both her value as a medic and her connection to Naruto would make her a prime target for Akatsuki, but Ino didn't have such infamous connections. Neither did Tenten for that matter. But Ino was unmistakably locked in a cell in the middle of the basement of some nefarious base somewhere with no hopes of escape at the mercy of Akatsuki. She was always very good at being melodramatic.
The mission that the three girls had been on had been a cakewalk. A simple 'destroy the target' kind of mission, with the target being just barely jounin level. While he had a distinct rank advantage over the three girls, they had the advantage of numbers and underestimation. After all, one of their numbers had pink hair. Not many girls with pink hair could punch a crater into the ground. Ino found that the three kunoichi worked rather well together with Tenten being best at long range, Ino at mid distance, and Sakura at close. That being said, they had kicked their target's ass around with some minor injuries on their part and, after Sakura healed their wounds, they headed home.
On the way back, they had been joking around about the look on the guy's face when he saw Sakura blast through a tree with just a punch. It had been just before the Fire border when they felt the enemy chakra. Sakura had frozen, Ino and Tenten not following long after. The feeling of the chakra still sent goosebumps down Ino's arms and legs. It had been massive and powerful, stifling in its intensity. The kunoichi fled to the trees, attempting to take cover and mask their own chakra in the hopes that the enemy presence wouldn't notice them. But before the fledgling desire could even completely form, an explosion had rocked the area that they were standing in, knocking down the trees they had been taking refuge in. The three of them moved quickly from the site of the detonation, stopping a few hundred feet away.
Tenten was the first to take action, launching a volley of shuriken and kunai at the enemy. Ino saw a blur of red and black and yellow dodge the weaponry before coming to a halt a few feet from her position. She unsteadily got into a fighting position, not completely assured in her own abilities against the much stronger opponent. She saw the Akatsuki smirk from underneath his kasa before taking a predatory step toward her. Sakura flew into action. The pink haired kunoichi threw a punch at her opponent, but he sidestepped it easily. He was making obvious movements to distance himself from Sakura, most likely marking him as a long or mid distance fighter. Sakura stuck to him, swinging her arms and kicking at him using her exemplary knowledge of taijutsu to outmaneuver him. Finally, the Akatsuki was forced to block rather than dodge, and he caught one of Sakura's punches with his forearms. Ino could hear the cracking of his bone from her spot one hundred feet away.
Ino heard another fight going on behind her, so she turned around and saw Tenten fighting another Akatsuki, this one with an orange swirled mask on. Tenten was being solidly beaten by her opponent. She didn't seem to be able to land a solid hit on him, his body going in and out of focus with Tenten's weapons merely flying through him. It was disconcerting. Ino took a step to help her brunette friend, seeing as Sakura wasn't doing too badly against the other Akatsuki. As she moved, though, Tenten was quickly incapacitated with a hard hit to the head. The masked man turned to Ino, then. The blonde kunoichi turned to see how Sakura was doing only to see that she was unconscious and slung over the shoulder of the other man. Before she could so much as say her friend's name, she felt a pressure on the back of her neck, hitting her solidly on the pressure point and knocking her out cold.
Ino was knocked from her memory of the events that led her to her current shithole by the sound of a door slamming shut and footsteps coming down what sounded like wooden stairs. The footsteps stopped a few feet down the hall, and she heard another door open. Maybe one of my captors is finally checking up on me, she thought with little excitement. At least while she was alone, she could pretend that she was just down in the Interrogations Department. At the thought, Ino slapped her palm down on the ground, annoyed that she couldn't even face her situation. She hadn't even attempted to defend herself when they had gotten ambushed. It sucked. She had let Forehead Girl of all people protect her, and she knew that her pink haired friend would never let her live it down. If she's not dead. But she couldn't let herself believe that. She had to have faith that the others were alive; even if that meant that they were stuck in this hell with her.
Sakura was propped up against one of the corners farthest away from the cell door. She couldn't see much from the tiny window set in it, but she knew that she didn't want to be anywhere near it if any of her captors decided to pay a visit. She was nearly drained of chakra, and from the other signatures she could feel down the hall, so were Tenten and Ino. She supposed she should be glad that they were all alive in any case.
Her legs and arms were cramped from sitting up against the wall and lying sprawled against the hard floor, not to mention the bruises that she had received during her fight with the Akatsuki. At least the bastard got a broken arm, she thought angrily. Sakura was downright pissed about her capture. It was bad enough that her and her friends had been ambushed for seemingly no reason, but now they locked her in a fucking cell and left her there to rot? Yeah, that didn't sit well with the kunoichi.
It was probably that anger that propelled her to move as soon as the door to her cell opened, but maybe it was just sheer bad luck that her captor took that moment to look in on her.
Sakura launched herself across the cell and swung her right arm wildly in a punch that, with her chakra, probably would have left a hole through the man's head. As it was, he caught her fist swiftly, and without her chakra, Sakura didn't even have the satisfaction of feeling all the bones in his hand breaking.
The man before her was not one that she had ever encountered before. He had light blond hair that shined silver in the low light streaming in from the hallway, and a pair of violet eyes that appeared almost red. His Akatsuki cloak was opened in the front, revealing much of his torso as well as a strange beaded necklace with a silver circular pendant at the end of it. The circle of the pendant had an upside down triangle inside it, maybe representing some obscure religion or belief system. Or perhaps he just liked it. His hair was carefully slicked back from his face, giving him the look of a mobster, and his face was set in a scowl as he exerted painful pressure on her fist.
Sakura grimaced, pulling back to try to free her hand from his grasp, but he wasn't being forthcoming. At her look of pain, he smirked.
"Too bad I can't fucking draw blood." His voice sent a shiver down her spine and made her seriously contemplate spitting in his face all in one moment. She settled for something a little less death defying.
"Go fuck yourself," she spat, still angry beyond belief and almost hoping to get a rise out of him. Maybe he would kill her, and the Akatsuki wouldn't be able to use her for whatever evil plot they had up their sleeve now. It was a morbid, if not productive, thought.
"Want to watch, princess?" he asked, his breath spilling across her face, sending a wave of his scent at her—cinnamon with a touch of polishing oil and blood. She bared her teeth at him in a fierce scowl.
"Only if you're planning on ripping it off," she bounced back, knowing that she was pushing her luck but not really caring. The man's smirk merely widened before he threw her arm back at her, making her stumble a little away from him. Sakura rubbed her wrist in irritation, her leather gloves chaffing the skin worse than his rough grip already had.
"Now there's a thought." The return was unexpected, and Sakura couldn't do much more than raise her eyebrow at him, wondering if he liked to mix opium with his juice in the morning. It wouldn't really surprise her.
"You're unbelievably fucked up," she said. Now, Sakura did not use the word unbelievably lightly. She had, after all, been exposed to Orochimaru and Uchiha Itachi. Therefore, she knew some people who were unbelievably fucked up, but this guy was sitting comfortably at number three on her list.
"You have a smart fucking mouth. Jashin would hate you as a sacrifice, pinkie. Too damn bad for you," he replied, sending her a look that clearly stated that he really thought it was unfortunate for her that she couldn't be sacrificed to his god. Good thing all of her friends had equally smart mouths, though Tenten was probably a little more reserved about trading witty repartee with evil criminals. Sakura knew Ino would probably be just as bitchy as usual.
"Oh damn, and here I was, looking forward to that." Her tone was entirely sarcastic, and the moment it left her mouth, she knew she had finally crossed the line. The man was towering over her, his chakra swirling around him malevolently.
"Shut your filthy mouth, you fucking bitch." The statement was hardly out of his mouth before he had backhanded her across the face. She fell unceremoniously down onto the cement floor, and she could taste blood in her mouth from where she had bit her cheek. "Itachi wanted you awake, so you're awake. Don't pass out like a fucking pansy."
And with those words of encouragement, he swept out of her cell, leaving her alone once more. Sakura propped herself up on her elbow and stared at the door for several minutes, contemplating her options. They didn't look good, especially if the Uchiha was somehow involved. Last time she had met him, she hadn't even been able to look at his face. She had been terrified to look up and get caught in one of his genjutsu. Sakura was proficient in genjutsu, but comparing her talent with it to Itachi's was like comparing a shark to a goldfish. She would probably kill herself before even noticing that she was trapped in one of his illusions.
So, Itachi's involvement completely ended any chance they had at escape. Not that those chances had been good to begin with, but Sakura liked to keep her options open. Whatever Itachi or their Leader had in store for the three kunoichi, they had no choice but to play along for now. Someone in Konoha would certainly notice their absence and look for them, though Sakura hoped that Tsunade-shishou would be able to contain Naruto. No matter what happened to her, the Akatsuki could not get their hands on her best friend. It would be disastrous.
With those thoughts in mind, Sakura once more propped herself in one of the corners farthest from the door, waiting to see if the elusive Uchiha would make an appearance.
Tenten wondered silently what the hell was going on in the cell next to her own. She heard raised voices, one of them obviously Sakura and the other a male. Sakura was making a fuss, from what Tenten could hear, and the man sounded like he was simply playing along with whatever the pink haired kunoichi threw at him. Maybe he had a sense of humor? Tenten highly doubted it, but she couldn't figure out why else a member of the Akatsuki would be bantering lightheartedly with one of her friends. Maybe she had accidentally slipped some opium into her juice the other morning? Bah, it didn't matter. It only mattered that…
The unmistakable sound of a slap reached her ears, and the world sharpened back into focus. Sakura must have finally pissed off the guy. Tenten wasn't really all that surprised. Sakura had a terrible temper, and if she was pissed than she would have been pushing her limits. Tenten heard Sakura's door slam shut and some footsteps thumping loudly toward her cell. Her door was hurriedly unlocked and in stepped the man.
Tenten supposed that he was kind of surprising to look at, but her dumbfounded look probably didn't earn her any points in his book. For his part, he merely looked annoyed with the entire situation. It was probably the eye color that prompted her to open her mouth.
"Who are you?" she asked, the question sounding stupid even to her own ears. She sounded more like she was asking him what he was rather than whom he was, and the whole situation was getting progressively more surreal as the seconds ticked by. After all, she knew he was a member of Akatsuki, and what else could possibly matter.
"What the hell does that matter?" His question voiced her thoughts, and she was glad that she was standing otherwise she would have had the urge to jump up and point at him accusingly. She didn't want to give the Akatsuki the impression that she was just as socially retarded as her teammates in any case, though she had often secretly imagined that Neji would have gotten along splendidly with Uchiha Itachi if Itachi wasn't a psychopath.
"It doesn't, really," she replied. Her voice was much stronger than her constitution at that moment. She could clearly see that he noticed it. The smirk on his face was entirely too mocking for its own good.
"The name's Hidan, if that's what you meant." By the way that he said it, Tenten could tell that he was mocking how she had phrased the initial question.
"Yeah, I think that's what I meant," she said in return. She couldn't help but keep talking even though she could tell that his opinion of her lowered as the time went on. He raised his eyebrow at her, giving her a look that clearly stated that he was expecting her to continue making a fool of herself.
"Look, I don't give a fuck anymore. Let's just go," he stated, quickly turning around and moving back toward the open door of her cell. By the way he moved and the remark he had made, he expected her to follow. Tenten continued to sit against the back wall, dumbfounded. Where would he want her to go with him? The idea of just simply following him seemed completely backwards. If he wanted something from her, he was going to have to prod her a little more than he already had. Contrary to his belief, she wasn't completely mentally handicapped.
Hidan finally seemed to notice that she wasn't behind him because he flipped back around just as fast as he has moved toward the door. He furrowed his eyebrows in irritation at her defiant posture before stomping to her and roughly grabbing her arm. Without giving her a chance to protest, he hauled her to her feet and dragged her out of the cell.
The most Tenten could do was glare heatedly at his back, but unless she expected his clothes to set on fire, it wasn't going to do much damage. Still keeping a firm grip on her arm, Hidan walked further down the hall to cell next to Tenten's and kicked the door. It made a loud clanging noise as the lock bounced in the jamb. Hidan muttered something like, "bitch kunoichi giving me hell." She heard a muted yell that sounded suspiciously like Ino before they were moving back toward the stairs at the other end of the hallway.
Tenten glanced longingly back at her old cell and the cells of her friends. She couldn't help but think that being locked up would be infinitely better than whatever awaited her at the top of the stairs.