Ok, so JFK didn't have internet, so I had plenty of time to write. Kinda sucks, do what can you do?

Sorry again! Germany has been a lot of fun, but I've been so busy.

Chapter Sixteen: Snake in The Forest. Part 2

Blue eyes were bright as Naruto and Gaara reached their friend. "Now what?" Gaara whispered, poking the blond next to him.

Naruto nodded at this. Hinata was with her team, and the pair didn't really want to introduce themselves to the other Ninja. They were fine with the young Hyuuga, and she with them, but that was mostly because they had met each other before they were old enough to be suspicious of strangers. Kiba and Shino on the other hand, would have too many questions that the hanyou pair would be unable to answer.

The blond shrugged after a second, before picking an acorn from their perch and chucking it at the young woman. Only to wince. He'd thrown it far too hard! Hinata flinched as it hit the back of her head, uttering a soft 'ouch' as she ran a hand through her hair, soothing the tiny hurt. She turned tho look and see where the nut had come from, only to grin at the familiar sight of eyes glowing in the shadows of the trees. "Shi-Shino-kun, I have to use the b-bushes for a moment," she offered softly, turning to her only composed team mate. Kiba was still sneezing his fool head off. The other boy nodded to her, letting her know he'd keep an ear open in case she got in trouble.

The first thing she did once she was in the foliage was pull the pair into a hug, happy to see them after so many months. Well, see them safe and in one piece, that is. She had seen Naruto back in Wave, but they didn't have the time them to talk. "W-where have y-you two b-been?" she asked, pulling back to look them other thoroughly. The first thing she noticed was the developing slits in their eyes, then the delicate points of their soon to be claws. But she did not fear these changes in them, she could tell that these were still the boys she'd befriended so many years ago. The shape of Naruto's pupils didn't hide the happiness in his eyes at seeing her, and the claws tipping Gaara's hands didn't make him any less gentle as he hugged her.

The pair smiled at her, only for Gaara to turn away first, sharp eyes scanning the foliage for trouble. The red head had always been more sensitive as a sensor than Naruto ever could be, so he took the job of a scout. "Well, we went on vacation. We went to see our San-jisan," Naruto offered, voice low to keep Shino or Kiba from hearing him. "You might have seen him? The blue man who was walking on water?" He nodded as her eyes went wide in amazement. "He was looking for me, and he ran into the fat man while there."

"W-what did he have against Gatou?"

"Well, San-ji is basically in charge of the waters of the sea over in that area, including those islands," Gaara offered, eyes still scanning even as he talked with his friends. "That man was hurting the people of the island, so when he had a chance, he took him out."

"Then, w-what w-was that giant turtle thing?"she asked, voice a touch squeaky as she remembered how big and terrifying the creature had been.

"It was, eeer-"

"Family pet." Naruto grinned at the proclamation. That'll work!

Or not so much. "Family pet?"

Gaara to the rescue! "Look how big things are growing in this forest," he offered, waving a graceful hand at the foliage around them. As if summoned, a slug the size of a barn slithered by at that moment, and Hinata had to concede the point. "Speaking of the forest, why are you in here?"

"Yeah! And why are so many other people in here too! We can handle it, but I don' think many others can," Naruto chirped.

Hinata bit her lower lip as she looked around as well, hands twisting together in worry. "I-it's a t-test," she stuttered, only to eep at the stern look from both boys. They'd been helping her to stop the stuttering, and look at what happens when they go on vacation. The young woman took a deep breath in order to steady her nerves and hopefully keep from tripping over her own tongue. "We have to get a scroll from other teams, a-and if we have both Earth and Heaven, we c-can get to the safety of the tower."

The pair gave her a curious look. "So, you take a scroll, you pass, and the team to take it from doesn't," Naruto said, mischief starting to rise in his eyes.

Gaara was only a step behind him. "So, if you have scrolls more now, then you will have less competition later?"

"We'll be back in a bit!"

"Bu- wait!" Too late though, the boys had already vanished into the forest, only a pair of falling leaves marking their passing.

"Oi! Hinata, did you fall in or something?" She didn't have the time to waste worrying for them. She pulled a fresh kunai from her thigh pouch, ready to dive back into the exam. Her friends would just have to take care of themselves.


"Please, help me!"

The young Iwa-nin perked up at the plaintive sound. His team had been the only one from Iwagakure to enter, and they had been lucky to have gotten this far. He'd been ready to quit for his team back during the paper test, right up until the boy with the dog had yelled at the proctor, giving courage back to the teams that were still there. His team wasn't having any luck finding someone with a scroll; maybe their luck was about to change?

He peered around one of the massive trees, (And seriously, why did Konoha had to have such a hard on for trees?) only to pause at the sight before him. One of the young women who had entered the test must have been using Genjutsu to hide a pregnancy, because there she was, blood soaking her thighs, and a wrinkled red thing in her arms that had to be a newborn. She turned her tear-soaked face up to him, sweat-drenched hair sticking to her neck in black clumps as she held out her arms. "Please, help me."

Slowly, the young man held out his own arms, letting the young woman transfer the child into them, only for him to smirk as he straightened, pulling out a kunai. "Hand over any scro-" He stopped. The girl was gone! But, the baby was still here, so where did she go? He frowned as he shifted the child in his arms, it was already growing heavy, as he looked for the lying bitch. Only for him to blink as the baby became noticably heavier! He tried to drop it, only to find that he couldn't let go. He couldn't even move his arms! He panicked, breath coming faster as he collapsed to his knees, straining his back to try and stay upright. With a yelp, he lost his balance and fell backwards, the child lying across his chest, and the last thing he knew before passing out from lack of air, was the evil little chuckle coming from the wrinkled bundle.

Naruto grinned as he and Gaara jumped down from the tree, releasing the Genjutsu. "This one was worth the time it took to create it!" Gaara offered as Naruto rifled through the boy's pockets, pulling out a scroll with 'Heaven' printed on the front.

"I know! That's the third guy we managed to trick with that illusion," Naruto chirped, the scroll added to the other pair already in his haori. "That makes two Heaven, and an Earth."

Gaara nodded, pushing the boy over onto his face. "And we know about sixteen teams, and since every team needs two scrolls, and we just took out one full set and half of another, that's only six teams at the end at the most. Maybe even less!" The pair still didn't know that there was still four other teams they hadn't seen yet, but they were still very proud of the fact that they had helped Hinata out. The plan now, as the boys took back to the trees, was to return to the girl and follow her as she and her team headed for the tower in the middle of the forest. It was with a pair of happy grins that the boys homed in on the familiar Chakra of their friend, laughing at their own cleverness as they vaulted and swung through the thick tree tops.

They were almost back, when they ran into the snake.

This was no normal snake though, not even a large, man-eating snake like the ones that they had seen in the forest already. This was a creature that could eat the Kyuubi's home and come back for seconds. This was a reptile that made other reptiles hiss vows that they would eat more to try and pump up their slithering muscles in a vain attempt to look more impressive, but knew they would never truly compare. And it was this animal that was sent into the forest in order to watch for certain Chakra signatures; The Uchiha, the Hyuuga, or anything with youki. And both boys were heavily saturated with demonic Chakra.

"Run!" The first thing to pop out of Gaara's mouth, but it was an apt command; The boys dashed off, only for Naruto to yelp as the snake focused on him. With a twist of the long graceful neck and a snap of those jaws, Gaara was suddenly alone in the forest. Naruto had been eaten.

In another life, Gaara may have not cared in the slightest that the blond was gone. In another life, he would have possibly sand-crushed the snake just because he could. But the pair had been raised together since they were five. Even with his real family somewhere in the forest, (not that he truly remembered them as such,) Naruto was more his family than they ever had been and now, ever could be. Sea green eyes went wide, slotted pupils contracting for only half a second before he launched himself at the beast, kunai in hand, sand swirling and dancing around him as he unconsciously controlled it in his rage. "GIVE ME MY BROTHER BACK!" he screamed as he landed on the reptile's rough scales, metal and sand gouging and rending at flesh.

Only for the young man to blink at the sudden swelling and bulging in the creature's middle, and for it to give out a hiss of pain before disappearing in a large poof of smoke. And there was Naruto, swaying on his feet, body slicked with blood and stomach acid from the innards. "Never. Again." he groaned dodging to the side right as a final Shadow Clone fell to the ground, popping the second it hit the dirt.

"Naruto!" Gaara yelped, pulling he young man in for a hug, ignoring the slime his brother was drenched in. "Thank all the kami you're alright," he murmured into a nasty shoulder.

"I'm fine bro, I promise." A rueful smile as the blond pulled at his haori. "I'm just in desperate need of a bath."

The sand child chuckled, only to stiffen as he stared at something over Naruto's shoulder. "I do not think you will have time for that aniki," he offered quietly, backing up a few steps, grains of sand starting to dance around him again. Naruto spun around at the look in his brother's eyes, hands arching into claws as he scanned the forest for the target.

It had been years, but the man was still familiar to the young hanyou. An evil grin threatened to split his face at the sight of long, silky black hair, but he refrained at the sight of the bundle slung over the man's shoulder. He was out cold, but the boys could recognize him as the ninja from their Vacation, the Uchiha.

Orochimaru sneered, tongue lolling out of his mouth for a second before slipping back in. "Well well, I see my pet found me new animals to play with," he hissed, hand drifting down to a pouch strapped to his thigh. His eyes narrowed as he pulled a scroll out, the kanji proclaiming 'Purify the Darkness' printed on the side. "I will enjoy killing you."

Ubume no Genjutsu: Mother Demon/Ghost Illusion.

An Ubume is a ghost of a woman who has died in childbirth. They will weep and beg for you to take their child for a moment, and as soon as you do, she disappears, and the child, now stuck to you, gains weight until it crushes you.

Next chapter will be the big show down!