A/N: Talk about… weird. But interesting. If anyone doesn't fully understand (which… you might, seeing as it is a rather abstract ficlet) pm me and I'll see if I can fill you in. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: not mind Naruto is.


As she waved off her team, on their way to start their very first Chunin exam… She smiled, ruby painted lips gleaming in the electric light.

"Shh," She would whisper, and they would lean in with delight at what she would tell them. Again and again, they practiced what she would show them. Over and over, they would rage through her teachings like ice, slicing through even the most blazing of fires.

"Shh," She whispered at the door, eyes gleaming. "Don't tell anyone."

And they complied, every time. Pushed so hard they couldn't stand, yet told not a soul. Everyone was blind.

When she found out that her students had passed the first exam, the taint on her lips became darker, a secret behind the parted plump flesh.

"Watch," she would whisper, chakra flowing and hands twisting, and they would lean in with delight at what she would teach them. Again and again, they practiced, drills and scenarios, people and places, over and over until every reflex, every action, was controlled and defined.

"Watch," She would whisper, and she tore through the enemy's intestines without him even knowing, seeing, believing. "Don't let anyone see."

And so they did, taking all the low-rank missions that fell outside Konoha's boundaries. Slums and beggars left their slumber with smiles on their faces. Yet no one ever saw any blood, any evidence, of what had transpired.

When she found out that Hinata had almost died, Kiba had been knocked unconscious, and Shino had passed through to the final round with barely a broken sweat, her crimson smile had taken on a wry tilt.

"Let me see," She would whisper, eyes alight as they performed before her, like dancers on hot coals then raging storms and cold ice. Flawlessly they performed, every action with grace and skill, a deadly undertone.

"Let me see," She would whisper, and they would lean in with delight as she gave a conspiratorial wink, "but don't let anyone else."

When she found out that Shino hadn't even had a chance to fight, her smile grew wider.

"Run," she would whisper, and they would not lean in, but run.

"Stay," she would whisper, and they would.

"Hide," she would whisper, and they were gone with the wind.

"Pretend," would be one of the lowest whispers, spoken and barely heard at all, because all of her teachings were wise, and like a shinobi, not even there, to ones who weren't supposed to know.

When she found out that none of her team would become a Chunin that year, she chuckled.

"Stay," She would say, then "in the shadows," she would add with a whisper, and they would lean in with delight then ghost through the town. All that was seen was a shadow over their true selves. A stammering, unconfident girl. Loudmouth bully. Quiet seriousness. Never catching a glimpse of light to cast away the shadows. Only she would see.

When she found out, after all the death and destruction and traitorous snakes, that somehow Shino had survived a lethal dose of poison, and both her other students had been unconscious through the whole thing… She laughed, bloody lips wide and gleaming.

Because genjutsu is complicated, a twisted maze, entrapping the senses, above all deceiving and betraying and not really there, but always present, lurking, in the shadows. The best kind of threat was one that didn't exist.

She was a genjutsu mistress, and they were her traps, set into place, ready to spring.