An Alternative Path
Author's note: Well, it's later than I had hoped to get it out, but it is indeed out, yay! I had thought to do the whole second exam in one chapter, but that would be a really long chapter, haha, so I changed my mind, because then you probably wouldn't get anything for, say, another nine months. I'm so bad.
IMPORTANT: This story is AU. That means ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. That means I can do whatever the hell I want and you have to suck it up and deal.
BTW: I don't own Naruto! I do however own Sajiki Atsuko, Yamamoto Yuuka, Kobayashi Sakiko, and Kimura Shuu. You can borrow them if you give me credit.
The Far Goal
Sakiko began hunting around her person for the list Ibiki had given her as soon as she finished explaining the second exam to the brats, first checking the pouches on her belt, then up the sleeves of her haori.
"Where the fuck could I have put it?" She thought, glaring at the ground in front of her while the genin began to mill around anxiously, holding hushed conversations with their teams over strategy.
"Ah!" She exclaimed, reaching a hand behind herself under her haori, whipping out the rolled up list. Sakura sincerely hoped it hadn't been down her pants. "Let's see... Hmm, four of you teams of fuckers got perfect scores. Congratu-fucking-lations. Team Seven of Konoha, Team Ten of Konoha, Team Three of Iwa, and Team Thirteen of Waterfall, pick a fucking number, one through twenty."
"Why?" asked one of the shinobi of Waterfall.
"Cause I can't have you all fucking going in a once! Pick a fucking number, closest goes first, then fucking second, and so on." Sakiko rolled her eyes and began mumbling something about 'fucking morons'.
"Ah, thirteen then." The same shinobi picked.
"Three." Said Matsuda Jun, the apparent leader of Team Three from Iwa.
"Ten!" Ino cheered from her place between Chouji and Shikamaru, near the front of the group of genin.
"Twenty." Naruto shouted out before Sakura could say seven, she turned to begin throttling him when Sakiko interupted.
"Huh." Sakiko grunted. "Twenty was the fucking number. Team Seven is first, then Thirteen, Ten, and Three."
"You got it right." Sakura said somewhat astonished, hands placed loosely around his neck.
"Game of chance, remember?" Sasuke reminded her, annoyed at the apparent denseness of his teammates. Naruto never did lose if it came down to probability.
"Oh yeah. I forgot." Sakura pulled her hands away from Naruto and ran one through her hair in embarrassment.
"Oi! Are you fuckers coming up here or what?" Sakiko called back to them, clearly irritated, although Naruto wondered if she was ever not irritated.
Team Seven was quick to push through the crowd of genin to stand in front of Sakiko.
"Alright, here's the fucking deal, you go through that tent and then into the training area. The boxes are given out randomly; there is no fucking pattern, got it?" This was address to the group at large, where most nodded absently.
"Then you fucks get going!" She shooed Team Seven up to the tent.
The tent wasn't very large. Made from canvas with seals stitched in them to prevent spying it was really only large enough for the table and two chairs (and chuunin in them) that occupied it. Sasuke felt very uncomfortable squashed in between his two teammates.
"You guys first?" The female chuunin asked with a smile. Her partner besides her gave them an assessing look.
"Yes." Sasuke answered her, elbowing Naruto in the stomach to attempt to get more room. While the grunt Naruto let out was satisfying the blonde truly didn't have anywhere to move.
"Congratulations! In order to see whether or not you start out with a box you need to draw a chopstick." She held out a strange wooden box filled with small holes. In each hole was a wooden chopstick, the cheap kind you might get at a food stand, standing straight up.
"If the tip is red, you get a box, it it's blue, you don't." Her partner elaborated when they looked confused.
"Naruto, you choose." Sakura ordered. "And if you don't get red I'll kick you into next week."
Naruto glanced over at Sakura nervously as he reached out for a chopstick. He pulled one out slowly and sighed in relief when the tip was red.
"Red!" Sakura launched herself at Naruto, nearly knocking Sasuke over in the process, gripping him hard enough to choke him with a hug. "It's red!"
Sasuke sighed as he took the small, wooden box the woman held out to him. It was heavier than expected and had a metal catch on one side to keep it closed.
"Which of us is going to carry it?" He asked once Sakura had released a slightly dazed Naruto.
"I don't know. What do you think Sasuke-kun?" Sakura asked back.
"Naruto, you carry it." Sasuke tossed the box to Naruto who scrambled to catch it.
"Eh? Why?" Naruto replied, scratching his head.
"You're the toughest." Sasuke explained simply. "Plus no one would think we'd give the dobe the box."
"Why you bastard-" Naruto began only to be cut off by a fist to the shoulder courtesy of Sakura.
"No fighting!" She admonished. "And we need to go." With that she shoved her way to the other side of the tent from which they'd entered which opened up the training ground.
The forest they stepped into was incredibly dense, just as Sakiko had said. The trees were large and close together with thick canopies that blocked out most of the sunlight. The ground under their feet was springy and smelled strongly of moss and decaying vegetation. The cries of birds and chittering of monkeys could be heard throughout the forest and a set of tracks nearby hinted that large cats might also call the forest home. The air was cooler due to the shade and the scent of moisture hung in the air.
"Amazing." Sakura murmured, for some reason it felt as though the forest demanded hushed voices and cautious steps. It felt like an ancient place, a magic place, for all that it wasn't so old. "I read about this place, but I never imagined..."
"What do you mean, you read about it?" Sasuke asked her, equally quiet.
"Well, when Ino explained the last exam, and then Kakashi-sensei said we'd be doing the exam here in Konoha, I started looking into the training grounds, trying to get us an edge." Sakura explained softly. "I mean, I figured they wouldn't hold the second test out of the village."
"What did you learn?" He asked, moving to examine the tracks left by what might have been a tiger.
"The only parts of this area that are natural are the field and river, the rest was created using jutsu during the Shodaime and Nidaime's time. It's a miniature eco system in here, it even boasts its own rain cycle. A marvelous feat of ninjutsu, although obviously many different kinds were used." Sakura explained. "But more important than that, I know where the rest station is." Sakura turned to give them a brilliant smile as the boys stood dumbstruck at her admission.
"How?" Sasuke asked her.
"Turns out, the records have maps of the training grounds. While I don't remember everything, I do remember that the rest station is on the other side of the training grounds, almost directly across from here." Sakura was very proud of herself for this accomplishment. Sometimes it really did pay to be prepared for everything.
"That's awesome! So all we have to do is head straight from here!" Naruto raised a fist in celebration. "That's easy!"
"That's stupid." Sasuke told him with a scowl. "Most people will probably go straight. We want to avoid people."
"Sasuke-kun's right, I figure we should hug the wall and travel left. It will take longer but we are less likely to encounter other teams and traps." Sakura planned thoughtfully, fingers at her lips to bite nervously down on a nail.
"Why don't we go right?" Naruto pointed in said direction.
"Most people are right handed and so tend to veer towards the right." Sakura explained with the tone of a teacher.
"Oh. Well, to the left it is!" Naruto cheered before turning to the right and stalking off.
"...How long until he realizes that's the wrong direction?" Sakura asked Sasuke after a moment.
Naruto then came back with a sheepish expression, heading towards the left with an awkward shuffle.
"He is such a moron." Sasuke lamented before following.
Sakiko whistled in a bored manner as she leaned back in her chair in the center of the exam monitoring station. This building was built to the side of the training ground and was only temporary. It had taken a small group of builders only a few days to build it and it would take even less time to tear it down when the exams were concluded. Generators had been set up to power the equipment and simple desks and chairs crowded the sole room.
Almost one hundred closed circuit cameras had been placed in well concealed locations in the forest, running off of batteries that in all honesty cost more than most d-rank missions. Sakiko didn't know where Tsunade had gotten all the money for the various equipment, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know as the source was probably on the shady side. Still, the twenty monitors that could switch between five cameras each were useful, as was the veritable brigade of chuunin Sakiko had to work under her.
Lord knew she wasn't going to be spending her time watching those damn monitors.
Taking a loop of ninja wire Sakiko began playing cat's cradle with it, ignoring the looks of the chuunin as the wire slit into her fingers. Dozens of thin white scars on her fingers gave evidence to the fact that Sakiko had long grown accustomed to it.
"Sakiko, I thought you were out in the woods somewhere blowing up squirrels or something." A snide voice cut into Sakiko's reverie. She spun her chair around, glad she had forced Tsunade into giving her a proper desk chair, rolling wheels and all.
"Hironori, what the fuck are you doing here?" Sakiko grimaced at the male chuunin in front of her.
"I have been assigned to you. I see your vernacular hasn't improved any since the years we were assigned to the same genin team." Hironori taunted.
"Yeah? And neither has your fucking face." Sakiko swung her chair back around with a simple twist of her spine. "Go watch a fucking monitor or something."
"I was under the impression that this was Anko's gig. Why are you doing it?" Hironori ignored her order.
"Don't ask me, do I look like I fucking know? Or care?" Sakiko rolled her eyes. "I assumed Anko was on a mission or something.
"I see." Hironori placated. "And Tsunade-sama saw fit to ask you to be this exam's proctor?" Condescension was thick in his voice.
"Something about people finding me intimidating, or whatever." Sakiko twisted her head back to look at Hironori over her shoulder. "Apparently I'm fucking scary."
"You got that right." One of the other chuunin at a desk mumbled.
"What was that, fucker?" Sakiko growled in irritation, eye twitching. The chuunin hunched lower in his seat and said nothing. "Thought so."
"Clearly your interpersonal skills haven't improved either." Hironori smirked.
"And yet for all my faults I'm in charge of you! Isn't that a kick in the fucking pants?" Sakiko cackled, pleased with herself.
"Most assuredly." Hironori sighed as he wandered over to relieve one of the other chuunin at the monitors.
"Fucker." Sakiko murmured under her breath. She hated Hironori, always had. Frankly it was amazing they had even made it on the same genin team, although that may have been due more to the efforts of their third teammate and their sensei then their own sense of restraint.
Sakiko returned to her game of cat's cradle with little care. Five hours had passed since the last team had gone in and Sakiko was expecting a few more hours yet until the first team passed.
"Ah, Kobayashi-san?" A chuunin piped up from his place at a monitor.
"What?" barked Sakiko, throwing her ninja wire to the floor in aggravation at being interrupted as she attempted one of the more complicated designs.
"One of the cameras... it just went off." He answered hesitantly.
"What? What do you mean it just fucking went off? Did it get hit?" The cameras were incredibly will hidden and protected, for the amount they cost they had to be.
"Ah, well, I'm not sure, one moment it was working and then...black." The chuunin sounded confused.
"Fuck, those damn things are useless!" Sakiko swore. "You!" She motioned at a random chuunin in a purple shirt. "Go check camera..."
"Camera thirty-two ma'am!"
"Camera thirty-two!" Sakiko finished.
"Yes ma'am!" The chuunin ran out as Sakiko rolled her eyes.
Thirty-eight minutes later the chuunin made contact over her headset.
"Kobayashi-san, I think you're gonna want to see this." She said, faint horror in her voice.
"What the fuck is it?" Sakiko snarled into the radio.
"Team six from Iwa has been... eliminated, and the camera has been destroyed." The chuunin explained. "I, I don't think a genin would be capable of this."
"...Fuck." Sakiko said before turning back to the room. "Hironori, Oda, Fushima, with me, the rest of you, watch the monitors and don't so much as fucking blink!" With that Sakiko disappeared.
Sakura grumbled as she pulled a broken stick out of her sandal, glad that it hadn't pierced completely through and into her foot, but irritated at it all the same.
They had been making their way cautiously around the perimeter of the training field for several hours now, moving slowly in an attempt to avoid traps and other teams. Team Seven had managed to skirt past eight traps, but two had been activated, the first a simple pitfall Naruto and Sasuke had to pull Sakura out of and the second a weak explosion tag hidden on a branch Naruto had stepped on. That one had been annoying more because it alerted others to their presence than because of the damage it could have done (although Sakura rather suspected that was the point).
Sakura dug in one of the many pouches hanging off her waist for the ration bars (high in nutrients, low in taste) she kept there. She kept one for herself and threw one to Sasuke who was sitting in the tree above her, to Naruto, who was inspecting a tree on the other side of the small clearing they had stopped to take a short break in, she tossed two. She had long since figured out that the demon inside him required more nourishment, often two to three times the amount of calories a normal shinobi consumed (which itself was typically twice the human adult average).
"Careful." Naruto told her as he caught the bars. "I think there's a trap in this tree." He walked around it slowly has he bit into the first bar.
"Really?" Sakura asked from her position on the forest floor. Naruto had proven near invaluable when it came to avoiding traps. Of the eight traps they had bypassed, Naruto had spotted six of them, while she and Sasuke boasted one apiece.
Sakura wondered if his past abilities in setting up pranks lead to his expertise now in avoiding the often embarrassingly simple contraptions.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's a wire up there, but I don't know what for." He spoke with his mouth full, spraying crumbs onto the ground.
"Ugh, Naruto, manners." Sakura wrinkled her nose at the display.
"Sorry Sakura-chan." He replied after a noisy swallow.
"Alright, so we don't touch that tree." Sasuke gestured towards it with his own ration bar before undoing the wrapping to eat it. "What we need to figure out is the best way to get across the field."
"We've never really had to deal with traversing a field undetected before." Sakura pulled her knees up and rest her chin upon them.
"And then there's the river to deal with too. If the current is especially strong water-walking might not work." Sasuke pointed out, stuffing the wrapper of his rations into one of his pockets.
"We could henge into animals and cross it." Naruto suggested, moving away from the tree he'd been inspecting to plop down next to Sakura.
"That might work for you, dobe, but not me or Sakura." Sasuke vetoed his idea.
"Huh? Why not?" asked Naruto.
"Do you know how much chakra it takes to perform a solid henge? And only solid henges allow shinobi to change into things other than people. You can do it, but you have more chakra than four jounin combined! Me and Sasuke-kun? Not so much." Sakura explained.
"Oh, sorry, I didn't realize." Naruto laughed.
"I know a genjutsu—that might help." Sakura spoke up when Naruto was done. "It's pretty low level, but it's handy, it should prevent us from being seen too easily, but I'm not sure I could keep it up over all three of us."
"How does it work?" Sasuke asked curiously. He dropped down from the tree to crouch with Naruto and Sakura.
"It bends light around you, which is why it works best in well lit places, like a wide open field rather than in places with a lot of shadows, like this forest." Sakura waved a hand at their surroundings.
"Bends light?" Confusion was thick in Naruto's voice and he made an odd face as he looked down at the ground, trying to puzzle it out.
"Okay, basically things can only be seen because light bounces off them, got it?" Sakura waited for Naruto (and Sasuke) to nod. "This genjutsu causes light to appear to bend and curve around you, making you difficult to spot, of course the closer people are to you the better chance they have of seeing through it, but it's the best we got, however I think I could only maintain it around two of us."
"Ooh! Ooh! I know!" Naruto raised his hand high above his head and waved it enthusiastically, as if they were still in the academy. "Sasuke can use his freaky eyes to copy you when you do it!"
"One, it's called the Sharingan, please try to remember that, idiot." Sasuke told him disdainfully, "and two, as much as I am loathe to say it, Naruto has a good idea, for once."
"Hey! I have a ton of good ideas! I have good ideas coming out the wazoo." Naruto defended.
"...That sounds slightly painful." Sakura commented absently. "But, yeah that could totally work! Although it still doesn't plan for how we get across the river."
"Naruto, how's your frog summoning going?" Sasuke asked randomly.
"Eh? Fine. Why?" Naruto replied suspiciously.
"Think you could summon a frog to carry us across the river?" Sasuke suggested slyly.
"That's a fabulous idea!" Sakura cheered. "Oh, but I've never seen Naruto summon a frog bigger than a foot tall, aside from Gamabunta, and I really don't think you want to summon him to take us across a river."
"I can summon bigger, I just never needed too before, but I have practiced it with Ero-sennin." Naruto assured her. "I'm sure I could do it."
"I think it's our best shot, if worse comes to worse and we get spotted, we just have to defeat them." Sasuke stated decisively.
"Hell yeah!" Naruto agreed.
"Let's get started then. I'll perform the genjutsu about fifty yards from the edge of the forest." Sakura stood up, dusting dirt and dead leaves from her clothes as she did. Naruto and Sasuke did the same and they all set out again, Naruto in the lead to spot traps.
Suddenly Naruto twisted spastically in mid-step and threw himself to the right, screaming "Get back!" to Sasuke and Sakura.
"Ooo, nicely done. You managed to avoid it. The other's didn't manage that much." A small, thin girl stood where Naruto had been moments before. "Although you didn't avoid it completely, right?" She giggled lightly.
Naruto crouched panting, right arm hanging numb and useless, unmarked but unresponsive from where the girl had managed to tap him on the shoulder, Naruto thanked every deity he had ever heard of that he had noticed her shadow flit across the ground before she could hit him in a place worse than the arm with that attack.
Meanwhile Sakura had leapt up and backwards over the teammate of the girl who attacked Naruto and Sasuke had thrown an arm up to block the kunai from the third member of the threesome.
"If you're looking for a box, we ain't got one." Naruto snarled at the dark haired child who couldn't have been older than eleven.
"Like I'd trust anything my enemies said." The girl laughed in his face before rushing forwards once more to slam her knee into Naruto's stomach. "Besides, who said I wanted one?"
Kobayashi Sakiko was not happy. In fact she was pissed, very pissed as she inspected the corpses of Team Six of Iwa.
Two, while assassinated nearly perfectly from behind with single wide cuts across the neck, were still within the realm of believability for genin to have done. The third however...
"Fuck me." Sakiko said without inflection. "Did you find the camera?"
"What's left of it." Fushima said bitterly, holding the remains of the camera in her hands. It had been shattered by a well thrown kunai. Or what Sakiko assumed had been a kunai, she couldn't be sure as Fushima hadn't found one yet.
"Fuck, you know how much one of those fucking things costs?" Sakiko asked. Oda opened his mouth to answer when Sakiko glared at him. "That was rhetorical, dumbass."
"I don't see what about this makes you think it couldn't have been genin." Hironori spoke snidely. "Exceptionally talented genin, but genin all the same."
"This fucking incompetence of yours is the reason why I am a jounin, albeit a special jounin, and you are not, and never will be. Look at this body." Sakiko pointed to the body of the third genin at her feet.
"I see nothing wrong with it." Hironori spat out.
"Exactly. There isn't a single fucking mark on this body, I don't know a single genin that can kill and leave no trace of it on the body, do you?" Sakiko nearly growled.
"...No." Ground out Hironori after several beats of silence.
"Although I do know what fucking killed him." Sakiko said smugly crouching down next to the body to flip it over from where the boy had landing face down on the grounds. The eyes and mouth were open in an eternal expression of shock and fear. "Iryoujutsu: Complete Paralysis. One tap of the hand on the back of the head and the victim is instantly paralyzed from the neck down, including all major organs. With the lungs and heart paralyzed oxygen can't get to the brain, the only part of the body still functioning. The person falls unconscious in about five minutes, after eight the chance of brain damage should the jutsu be reversed is close to eighty percent, after ten or so minutes, that's it, you're fucking dead."
"How do you know so much about Iryoujutsu?" Hironori asked.
"My mother was a medic-nin, you stupid fuck, plus considering my expertise, knowing a little Iryoujutsu is quite handy. It's one of the few jutsus that's used extensively for offense in the medic profession. It's especially useful for assassination." Sakiko stood stiffly from her crouch. "It also happens to be exceedingly difficult to master, that's why I doubt it was done by a fucking genin. Oda, report back to Tsunade-sama. Hironori, take the bodies to the morgue. Fushima-" A crackle as their headsets came alive interrupted Sakiko.
"Kobayashi-san, camera forty just went out." A chuunin spoke through the microphone.
"Fuck. Fushima got get reinforcements. Whoever these fuckers are I want them caught!" With that Sakiko whirled around to race through the trees.
Naruto had no real problem with being defeated by a girl, after all, these sorts of things happened, but when that girl happens to be about three years younger than him, seven inches shorter than him, and thirty five pounds lighter than him, that's just embarrassing.
Still with only one arm it was all Naruto could do to stay a few steps ahead of the child that seemed intent on taking his head off. And Naruto wasn't quite sure what it meant whenever her hands started glowing that sickly green color but he wasn't about to find out as he ducked down to avoid one.
Sakura however was trying not to lose her head in another meaning of the phrase. The boy she was fighting did not have to leer at her so, or make such disgusting comments, and the next time she found his hand on her ass it was coming off! To her imminent aggravation however, the boy, who might have been a couple years older than her, was able to fend off everything she threw at him.
Sasuke fared the best against his opponent, another boy a couple years older than him. While he was stronger, and, though Sasuke was loathe to admit it, better trained, Sasuke's speed and Sharingan eyes enabled him to avoid most of what his opponent threw at him and even allowed him to retaliate a couple times, but he knew if they didn't come up with something fast Team Seven was going to lose.
That's about when Sasuke noticed movement in a tree a few yards away from where he and Sakura were engaged in battle, then a small round object came flying towards them and Sasuke did the first thing he could think of, he jumped into a tree.
Which was a pretty smart thing to do as the round object exploded into a cloud of thick gray gas that smelled oddly of burning sugar. Sasuke pulled the collar of his shirt above his nose and mouth.
Sakura instantly crouched down to get below the smoke that was slowly dissipating and at the first wave of dizziness performed a quick jutsu to clear the lungs of toxins.
The two shinobi they had been fighting however weren't fortunate enough to avoid the knockout gas, and both toppled over in a dead faint.
The sound of the small explosion had alerted both Naruto and the girl he was fighting of the new addition. And they had both turned to see the red-headed Sakiko allow herself to fall out of the tree she stood in, to land heavily on the ground in her steel soled boots.
"I have to admit, I was expecting someone older." Sakiko stated as she walked forward, making sure to step on the back of one of the shinobi she had felled. An odd crack came from the vicinity of his ribs as she did so and all of Team Seven winced at her cruel uncaring.
"I wasn't aware that proctors could interfere on behalf of genin from their villages." The child spoke sullenly, pout firmly placed on her lips.
"And I wasn't aware that jounin could enter the exams. But then I didn't exactly read that fucking 'Genin Exam Guidelines and Procedures for Proctors' book. It was about five fucking million pages long you understand." Sakiko told her.
"But, I'm not a jounin, I'm just a little girl." The child wearing a mist headband said, eyes wide and face innocent.
"And I'm a Kage." Sakiko sneered. "I learned a long time ago that age has very little to do with ability."
"Hmph." The girl pouted even more, looking nothing short of ridiculous. "And what on earth makes you think that I am a jounin?"
"Iryoujutsu: Complete Paralysis." Sakiko replied smugly.
"How did you..." The girl snapped out of her pout to look at Sakiko incredulously.
"Little known fact; I'm a fully certified Medic Nin." Sakiko told her plainly.
"I see..." The child trailed off. "But what makes you think that I can perform it?"
"Tell me boy, can you move that right arm?" Sakiko asked, not taking her eyes off the brunette girl in front of her.
"No." Naruto told her, shaking his head.
"And, did she by any chance hit you in the shoulder?"
"Yes." Naruto said, drawing out the word, clearly confused as to where this was going.
"I know of only a small handful of techniques that can paralyze a limb without showing outward damage. All are above the level of genin, aside from Hyuuga Taijutsu, but I sincerely doubt you know anything of that."
"Approximately an hour ago and half a mile from here a genin team from Iwa was assassinated, one by the Complete Paralysis. The camera watching that area was destroyed, in the exact same manner the camera in this area was destroyed. Let's save us all some fucking pain and end this sham, yeah?" Sakiko moved a few steps forward. "You all get the fuck out of here." She directed at Team Seven.
"But what if you need help?" Naruto asked her.
"From a bunch of genin? Yeah right." Sakiko scoffed. "You'll just get in my way."
"What if the other two wake up?" Sakura called to her, pointing at the fallen shinobi.
"They won't." Sakiko said. "Frankly I'm impressed you two managed to avoid it. Now get out of here, or I'll disqualify you from the exams."
Naruto gritted his teeth but turned to leave, confident that Sasuke and Sakura would follow. The two looked at each other, slightly surprised that Naruto seemed so willing to leave a fellow shinobi behind to battle on her own, but they both saw the wisdom in Sakiko's words and so quickly moved past the two females who stood facing off, moving in a wide arch around them.
Sakiko smiled as they left. Glad to have three fewer things to worry about.
"Now, why don't we see if you truly are a prodigy or grossly over-promoted?" Sakiko asked.
"I didn't become a jounin for no reason. Do you really think you can beat me, especially as a medic-nin?" The girl responded angrily.
"No one ever said I was just a fucking medic-nin. Besides, should you be saying that in a village where the Kage is a medic-nin?" Sakiko smirked. "This is my territory fucker, you haven't got a prayer."
For not being a shinobi Atsuko was very hard to find. Seven hours had been long enough for Naruto to endure his new (not improved) green hair. Now he was going to find Atsuko and make her change his hair back, even if he had to sit on her to get her to do it!
But, as previously mentioned, Atsuko was surprisingly hard to find. He had checked her hotel, the Hokage Tower, the hospital and the ramen stand (he got hungry), and so far all that he had found was an incredibly messy room, a drunk Tsunade, Gai and Lee in traction (their shouts about the youthfulness of his hair still rang in his ears), and the bottoms of four bowls of ramen.
He was about ready to give up and resign himself to wearing hats for the rest of his life when Sakura and Sasuke appeared at his elbow.
"I see your hair is still green." Sakura snickered unkindly.
"Yeah, yeah, laugh it up." Naruto mumbled without heat, letting his head fall forward onto the counter. "I can't find that bitch to turn it back!" His words were muffled by the wood.
"...Did you try the tea shops in town?" Sasuke offered.
"What?" Naruto turned his head to face Sasuke, but didn't lift it.
"Sajiki really likes tea." He told him as though it should be obvious.
"Oh yeah!" Sakura cheered from Naruto's other side. "She's from Tea Country!"
"No, she's not. But she lived there." Sasuke stated.
"Tea shops..." Naruto muttered. "Where would I find tea shops?" He honestly didn't have a clue himself.
"Well, the best tea shop in town is at big shopping arcade right in front of the Tower." Sakura told him.
"Alright! I'm gonna find you now you crazy old bitch!" Naruto leapt from his seat and tore off towards the Tower.
"... Who's gonna pay for his ramen?" Ichiraku asked, staring intently at Sakura and Sasuke.
"Damn it Naruto!" Sakura screamed as she dug in her pockets for the correct amount. "He is so going to owe me."
The best tea shop in town was currently in a state of dissarray. Atsuko sat in the center at one of the delicate tables, a dozen or more half drunk tea cups at rest in front of her and most of the staff surrounding her.
"Ugh!" She grunted as she spat out the tea she'd just taken a sip of. "This is the worst yet! You call this a tea shop?"
"This is the finest tea shop in all of Konoha, ma'am." The owner of said shop ground out through clenched teeth. "Perhaps it is not our tea that is inferior, but your taste."
"What was that? How dare you! I come from Tea Country, we know our tea and this is not proper tea!" She waved her cup at him, uncaring when the liquid within sloshed over the sides and onto the floor.
"Ah ha!" A triumphant shout sounded from the door that had just been thrown open. "I found you! Change my hair back right now!" Naruto demanded looking quite rediculous with his bright green hair and serious face.
Atsuko took one look at him and bursted into a hearty gale of laughter.
"Damn, that's as funny now as when I first saw it." She remarked when she had gathered her breath.
"Change. It. Back." Naruto growled at her.
"I already told you, I. Don't. Know. How."
"I thought you were supposed to be a genius or something!" Naruto threw his hands up in exasperation, hitting the owner of the shop (who had come up to ask him to leave) in the face. Naruto ignored him. "You're telling me you can't reverse a seal you made."
"Well, when you put it like that, it's kinda embarrasing, huh?" Atsuko rubbed at her chin in thought. "Alright, I'll change it back. You don't have to be so uptight. I was just having fun with you." She dug around in the sleeve of her jacket and pulled out the slip of paper the seal had been written on. She studied it silently for a few minutes before taking out a blank piece of paper and a stubby pencil. In a few strokes she wrote out a new seal and tossed it at Naruto. "There." she said. "That should change it back."
"Finally!" Naruto shouted as he quickly activated the seal. Once done he looked into one of the mirrors hung around the tea shop to confirm it was the proper color once again. It wasn't. It was a brighter pink than even Sakura's hair.
"ATSUKO!" He yelled as she rolled out of her chair laughing.
Author's Note Reprise: Ah, the chapter has been beta'ed and I feel much better getting it out. I have no real idea when the next chapter will be out considering I start Chemistry and Anatomy courses soon, but I shall try my best!
I want ideas for Omakes, so if you have one PM me. Snicky's Note:
Snicky's Note:Due to a bit of miscommunication (coughcough me not checking my email) this was a tad later than it should have been. FORGIVE ME FOR I HAVE SINNED~~~
REVIEW OR I'LL EAT YOU! RAWRGH! 120 Reviews Gets An Omake!