Shadow and Wind: New legends

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Disclaimer: Everything that isn't Kishimoto's is mine. There's not a lot left, now is there? -_-'
Many thanks to Zanros for Beta-reading

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47. The Fifth: Promotion

Go Naruto! Show Naruto who's Boss!

Naruto eyed his double warily. If the little talk earlier hadn't convinced him of Nega-Naruto's true nature, seeing the bluish cloak of chakra surrounding the boy made it crystal.

Nega-Naruto smirked. "You like? It's not as powerful as the Kyubi cloak, but it has its uses."

He didn't doubt it at all, and that's what stopped him from simply rushing in and try to give him a fist full of common sense. The other being that frankly he didn't feel like fighting this other Naruto. This wasn't like fighting his shadow clones. Nega-Naruto wouldn't be pulling his punches, not to mention the consequences were kind of severe. It would be a cold day in hell before he got stuck in this hell hole. And because of that, he kind of understood where his evil twin was coming from. But that didn't mean he was simply let him take control of his body. And from his fight against Kabuto, he knew exactly how he'd take care of that.

Naruto dropped his stance. "Look I don't want to fight you. Let's talk."

"Oh, we're done talking, boss."

"You realize you have no chance against me, right?" he said making a familiar hand sign. Hundreds of clones appeared. "You're outnumbered!" they all yelled.

His dark self chuckled. "Ha, this isn't enough to stop me. I'm you, remember? I know all of your moves."

Nega-Naruto's clones weren't as many as Naruto's, but he didn't look worried. Both leaders motioned for their armies to attack and in the next moments, it was pure chaos. It didn't help that the clones on either sides looked exactly like the original Naruto. However when the dust settled, Nega Naruto was the one biting the dust – all the clones left had sided against him.

"Hey, what gives!?" He growled and tried to throw them away with a burst of chakra, but his chakra wasn't the Kyubi's. In the end, they restrained him, with five clones taking a hold of each of his limbs.

Naruto shook his head. "I told you – you're outnumbered. I remember your fight against Kabuto. Some of the clones you made turned against you. You may think you're all that, but your still using my chakra. The clones know who the best and most awesome shinobi around is." Most of the clones snorted derisively and almost sent Naruto sulking.

Nega-Naruto hadn't given up yet. "No!" he growled menacingly "You came all the way here – there's no way I'm staying!" His struggling was starting to give the clones trouble.

The blond looked at his dark self sadly. "You don't get it do you?" He snapped his fingers and all the clones dispelled. "Fine, leave – you have my blessing."

Nega-Naruto looked at him incredulously. "You're pulling my leg." Seeing Naruto had yet to move, he shook his head before laughing maniacally. "You'll live to regret it, sucker!" The dark-eyed blond tried to leave the area only to bang his head against an invisible wall. "Hey how come I can't leave?" he said, his worry turning into desperation. "No! No, no, no!" he cried, pounding the invisible boundary. "He lied! That no good bastard!"

Naruto had figured as much. This alternate Naruto had told him about his link to the Bastard Fox. Considering his goal, he must have been manipulating Nega-Naruto. Naruto figured extreme anger or hatred were the trigger for the switch. His dark self didn't have the power to push him that far, considering he was the one that kept all his anger and hatred in check. Sasuke had brought his lack of hatred before and he had found the source. All he had to do now was fix this.

And they wanted him to work with the Kyubi after that.

Naruto let Nega-Naruto fight against the invisible barrier some more before he finally said, "So, can we talk now?"

The other Naruto gave up after trying a Rasengan without effect. "About what?"

"About how we're getting you out of here…"

For once, it was Nega-Naruto who was speechless.

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When Naruto woke up he noticed it was quite late. In fact watching his clock it was past midnight. The blond sighed and went back to bed. He always was a bit cranky when he didn't get enough sleep.

Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.

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Naruto woke up to the sound of a knock. He blinked, yawned and looked outside. The sun was up, meaning he had overslept. Thankfully he had no appointments today. Did Shikamaru want something? Naruto cautiously approached the door – maybe the lazy-ass wanted to get revenge for the prank he had pulled at Stem Village. He opened the door… and nearly slammed it in fright. Instead he jumped back to grab the nearest weapon he could find – in his case, one of Asuma's kunai.

Behind her cat mask the visitor simply answered "Nice to see you too, brat."

Naruto gulped. This was one person he certainly didn't want to have seen again in a long time. "Can I help you?"

"Naruto Uzumaki, the Hokage as summoned you." Naruto cocked his head. If Tsunade was the Hokage already things were going quite fast. Fortunately, the ANBU noticed his confusion. "While the Hokage hasn't been officially instated yet, she already has the command the shinobi of the village, including the ANBU corps."

…Oh. Well that made sense. "…Right, I'll be there."

Before he closed the door he heard the one thing he didn't want to hear. "Cute pajamas." The boy flushed and went to his room cursing on the way. He prepared in record time and after deliberating the pros and cons of giving Yugao the slip, exited through the front door. Seeing no one outside, he breathed out in relief and headed towards the Hokage's office.

"Funny, if I didn't know better, I'd say you're trying to avoid me Uzumaki."

Naruto nearly fell from the building he was about to jump off. He turned around to glare at the ANBU that had simply appeared right behind him. "Are you kidding me? You're always trying to cut one of my limbs – when you aren't trying to kill me!"

"Now, now, if I truly wanted to do those things, would you still be alive?" Naruto made a supreme effort to not shiver. "However a couple of pipsqueaks minding my business – that could give me ideas."

And here he thought Kakashi's little speech about teamwork applied to everyone. "In my defense, this was all Shikamaru's idea, and your business did almost screw up the mission."

Naruto felt cold sweat trickling as the cat mask of the ANBU got awfully close to his face. "Watch your back, Uzumaki." And just like that, she vanished. The blond let out a breath and hurried to his summon.

He arrived at destination without any more trouble. There, he met Sasuke and Shikamaru. His teammate looked his usual brooding self. Shikamaru however had a new black eye to replace the one he had given him two days ago.

"I suppose you met her as well?" the blond wondered.

The young Chunin glared. "…Yeah. Why the hell aren't you beat up?"

"Cuz of my cute face?" Naruto flaunted. Shikamaru shook his head in disbelief. "…Anyway, any idea why we're here?"

Shikamaru shrugged. "If I had to guess, I'd say your promotions."

This brightened Naruto's day considerably. Sasuke's trademark scowl dropped in intensity as well. "Let's go then!"

The three headed for the Hokage's office. The office lady, seeing the teens directed them towards some sort of conference room he recognized as the place where they had settled the Hyuga affair. Like that time, the room was filled with influential shinobi and clan elders. But unlike that time a very disgruntled Tsunade Senju sat behind the head of the council. At first Naruto thought it was because of Genta being an asshole as usual, but the conniving bastard didn't look too happy either.

"Remind me again why I simply can't promote shinobi as I see fit – like all the Hokage before me?" She asked with her eyes closed.

Naruto thought she was probably trying not to kill a few of the people here. Looking at her closely, the Sannin was nursing a headache – or more likely, a hangover. Jiraiya was also there, leaning in the back, near the Hokage's seat. Naruto was glad to see the old pervert had held his end of the bargain after all.

"It's simple really – you're not the Hokage yet. Remember that after your little… adventure, the advisors and the Shinobi Council have seen fit to take some measures." So Genta had hoped Tsunade Senju wouldn't have gotten the Hat? He should have known the bastard would be against giving Tsunade a second chance. "We're just making sure you're not sending the wrong message to the other nations."

The somewhat Hokage huffed and slouched on her seat.

Genta spoke once more. "As you no doubt remember, this council has already acknowledged one of the candidates as Chunin material…"

"Overstepping your rights in the process," Homura snipped.

The chairman suffered the rebuke without complaint and went on. "Judging from the reports and his mission record it seems the council's choice was well founded. Let us make sure the next decisions also bear fruit."

"The Uchiha might make a good Chunin," said one of them.

"And so it begins," muttered Shikamaru next to him. He looked quite disgruntled. His friend had mentioned going through the same thing before being promoted. It didn't look so bad at first, but the fact these guys had no business choosing who got to be Chunin annoyed Naruto – it's not like they had any idea of the things they had done so far.

"A bit rash though. He went after his brother on a whim and almost got killed." Sasuke twitched, and Naruto hid a snigger behind a cough.

"Otherwise, technique, power, stamina, cunning… he has a good balance of it all."

"Maybe his trip with Jiraiya curbed his rashness."

The discussions were going back and forth until Genta spoke once again. "Anything to add, Lord Jiraiya?"

The Sannin shrugged. "I agree to all the comments made so far. I'll add a couple of things though. First, these three boys faced things during their last mission even experienced Chunin would find difficult. And second and most important of all, Sasuke himself is aware of his issues and has taken steps to fix them."

Seeing someone like Jiraiya give his input, there was almost nothing else to add. The general consensus was to observe the young Uchiha for some time after his promotion in order to see his resolution concerning his rashness.

Now it was Naruto's turn.

"If the Uchiha is a bit rash, than Uzumaki is a complete fool," said one of the elders.

"Oi!" started Naruto, before Shikamaru stopped him with a shake of his head.

"His tests show that he is nowhere near ready for a promotion."

"Though, if we were to follow simple test results, the Nara wouldn't be a Chunin right now."

The discussions about his promotions were much more polarized than for Sasuke. While in Bastard's case they were simply reluctant to promote him too soon, some were going so far as to argue against his enrollment as a shinobi. Coincidentally, Naruto did not recognize those who argued against him. Since things had gone to a standstill the Chairman once again turned to Jiraiya.

This time, contrary to everyone's expectation, the Sannin replied with a simple, "No comment."

Startled, Naruto turned to his friend and whispered, "What's wrong with Jiraiya?"

"I think he wants them to deny you the promotion," he answered with gritted teeth.

"No shit!" he hissed, "I mean he looks angry. Why?"

Shikamaru did not know, and apparently did not care. He did however take a step forward and asked to speak.

"I don't think I was ready for the promotion when I received it. However, in the course of the last months I have worked hard to fulfill the role given and to make Konoha proud. During this time I've had ample time to observe Naruto Uzumaki as we have been paired in important missions since my promotion. Having seen his growth first hand, I can say with certainty that he is more ready to be Chunin than I was at the time."

The room was quiet for a moment. But from the look of things, Shikamaru's little speech didn't sway anyone.

"Thank you, Mr Nara, your comment was noted," said Genta, in a slightly condescending manner.

"I would like to add my support to that comment," Shikaku Nara said. And this time heads turned, as it was the first time the Jonin Commander had spoken since the start of the day.

Tsunade nodded. "So do I."

"I also think the young Uzumaki can be especially mature and astute given the occasion."

Even Hiashi Hyuga had spoken his approval. More and more heads of renowned clans were siding with Naruto – this completely floored him. Did they know about his heritage? Looking back at Jiraiya the man didn't seem as angry as before – disappointed maybe, but why? He would have to talk with the pervert.

"Anymore remarks?" Genta asked. "I think the members of the council are ready to vote on the propositions."

"Now wait a darn minute here!"

The Chairman looked annoyed. "Mr Shizuka."

"You don't expect me to accept this… orphan as Chunin material do you? I had my doubts about the Nara – apparently is better than his tests show, and of course the Uchiha is a given. But from the way I seeing this you want that, that… urchin, promoted as well?"

"Mr Shizuka, I think that as the voice of the Civilian council you're…" Oh a civilian. What was he doing here? Anyway, Genta's explanation didn't go too far because Tsunade cut him off.

"Since the council is somewhat in agreement with my propositions, and that the matter should be mine to settle anyway, I suggest a trial period to observe their actions as Chunin. Of course, as Chunin Nara has been in a few missions since his promotion, he is exempted from this."

The suggestion was a wise one. No one had something to say to that, even Mr Grouchy-zuka. "Does anyone have objections to that? Very well, we will leave the matter of Chunin promotion to the new Hokage as is her right. That being said let us go through the next order of business."

Wait, didn't that mean they basically wasted their time for something Tsunade had already decided in the first place? Naruto really hated politics. As if that wasn't enough, the teens were unceremoniously ushered out of the room and told to wait in front of Hokage's office for Aunty's return – nearly two hours. Tsunade eventually entered her office, leaving them at the door. After another fifteen minutes, in which Naruto was sorely tempted to just bust in or leave, the Hokage bid them to enter.

"You've heard what happened there," She stated, and without preamble gave both Naruto and Sasuke a Chunin vest. "You're hereby promoted to the rank of Chunin – in name only. Meaning you'll have the same responsibilities as a Chunin, but with added supervision. As Chunin you may be given missions to complete solo or in a team. You may gather Genin or Chunin when given the opportunity. Special Jonin and higher level shinobi may also freely use you as they see fit, and will always be assigned to you when a mission requires it. As for you, Shikamaru Nara, I hereby acknowledge your promotion to Chunin. To all of you, I hope will make Konoha proud." Naruto saw Shikamaru blink as she gave them a once over. "Any questions?"

"I want to be teamed up with Shikamaru!" yelled the blonde as Sasuke said, "I want to be in a team with Naruto Uzumaki and Shikamaru Nara."

Tsunade raised an eyebrow. She then looked at the only Chunin who hadn't spoken yet and the only one nursing a headache. She then smirked evilly at Naruto. "That's not a question, brat, that's a favor."

Naruto swore, Sasuke snorted and Shikamaru sighed in relief. But speaking of favors, there was one he had in mind since his little encounter with his dark self. On top of that, he wanted his heritage. He might as well ask for both at the same time. "Well in that case, I have favor or two to ask you then. I want my stuff. And Third's law on the Kyubi – revoke it."

Aunty's headache returned with a vengeance. She gave Naruto a long hard look before answering, "As much as I want to count those as favors, I can't." The blonde frowned, but she looked like she had something to add. "The old man made sure to give you power over your life when you were promoted to Chunin"

Naruto remained quiet. So the Old Man had intended to tell him everything eventually. That was good to know. He was still upset the man had hidden so much from him, but this made things bearable. Maybe that's why the others had kept quiet as well. He still wanted to punch them all in the face though. As far as he knew, only the Third, Kakashi and Jiraiya cared. He wondered again how many people knew.

Naruto finally nodded. "Okay, we'll talk about this later, then."

Seeing everyone was quiet Shikamaru raised a hand. "I have a question – what do you mean by 'supervision'?"

"One of the ANBU will be watching over you. Usually ANBU hate anything to do with babysitting…"

Naruto did not need to hear the rest because he knew exactly what this meant. He and Shikamaru only knew of one ANBU, and odds were this was the same ANBU the Hokage had picked for him. So Naruto groaned loudly as Tsunade explained his situation and glared at the smug look Shikamaru was giving him.

He'd make sure to stick to the lazy bastard like glue if only to spite him.

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Naruto might be glaring at him with all his might, he wasn't going to apologize. After all, he hadn't been the one to receive a sound beating from a cranky ANBU. So Shikamaru simply shrugged as he accompanied the blonde to Ichiraku's. Naruto's talk with the Hokage had taken a while and it was now in the late afternoon. Hopefully Choji would be there as well.

They had only made a few steps into the main street when Shikamaru noticed Naruto's sharp change of mood. From clearly annoyed, he now looked borderline furious with no reason. Well, the villagers around were behaving as their usual, bigoted selves – with the feigned ignorance, the heated glares when they thought he couldn't see and, of course, the poorly concealed insults. Really he didn't see what was so special about—

"That's it!" Naruto snapped. He made a hand sign and after a puff of smoke the street was in flooded with clones. Each Naruto purposefully walked towards a civilian, and glared, hard, with the same hatred he'd been given – complete with a hint of killing intent. Needless to say, it was quite impressive.

"Oi! Quit looking at me," they all said. "If you have something to say, tell it to my face, or leave me alone."

Shikamaru followed his friend as they turned the street and was amused by the fact that the clones hadn't dispelled when they left. Although those idiots had it coming for a long time he couldn't help but be a bit concerned. First he wanted the law on his status as Jinchuriki revoke and now this?

"Are you OK, Naruto?" he asked.

Naruto gave him a feral smile. "Never been better."

"Care to explain what just happened?" he insisted. At the blonde's disbelieving stare he added, "Not that they weren't asking for it, I'm just wondering why you chose today of all the days to do so."

Naruto shrugged. "I recently learned it was bad for me to bottle up my emotions."

Shikamaru sighed. Well, he hadn't killed anyone yet, so there was that. After a few encores they arrived at their destination, sat down and got ready to order.

"You! You're back!" Ayame shouted.

Naruto grinned. "Ayame! What's up?"

Unfortunately Ayame wasn't focused on the blonde. Instead she grabbed Shikamaru by the collar and nearly dragged him over the counter. "Give me back my money!" she half wept, half yelled. Shikamaru smirked, glad that Choji had done everything he'd asked during his absence. He had thought his little pranks wouldn't amount to much considering the little time he had to think them up, but seeing the waitress's distress told him otherwise.

Naruto looked lost, so Shikamaru explained. It was a harmless prank really – all he did was ask Choji to put an ad on the public billboard. Something about free love counseling with guaranteed results or a free bowl of ramen. Ayame added that by the time found the ad in question dozens of people had showed up. And the best part? Every free bowl was taken out of her wages.

Naruto was shaking. "That… that was…"

"Evil, monstrous, cruel!" the young woman cried.

"That was freaking brilliant!" Naruto roared as he laughed himself to tears "And it worked? And Ayame's pretty too! So I'm sure some of the guys pretended to ask for advice only to ask her out." Seeing Ayame's face turn crimson only sent the blonde into new fits of laughter.

"Naruto!" Ayame huffed, pouted, and glared.

Naruto wiped the remaining tear of his eyes. "What? You must admit that he got you good." Seeing Ayame's pout wasn't subsiding, Naruto threw his hands up. "Alright alright." he then turned to Shikamaru. "Shikamaru, you're my pal and all, but I'm Ayame's honorary brother and if you do that again, I'll have to kill you." He said with a straight face. Behind her counter Ayame was nodding in approval, hands on her hips.

Shikamaru had nothing against the woman before she had annoyed him, so he didn't mind. "As long as she leaves me alone," he agreed.

Naruto remembered his friend account of that day and nodded. "Ayame?" he said looking at his honorary sister.

"What did I do?" she asked innocently. Naruto knew better and she quickly realized it. "But, but… he's entertaining!" Both Naruto and Shikamaru looked unimpressed. "Oh, Fine! Only because it's you, Naruto."

Things settled into a comfortable silence after that, but once again the lazy shinobi could see something was up with Naruto. He was still on his second bowl for one. Mr Ichiraku himself noticed his favorite client's lack of appetite and left the kitchens. Naruto waved their concern away but none of them were fooled. Finally Naruto looked at the man.

"Oi, Teuchi, have you ever told Ayame about… me?"

Shikamaru frowned while Ayame looked clueless. Apparently she didn't know about his secret. She probably had suspicions, but considering the cook's daughter must have still been a child on that day, she might not have heard. Teuchi confirmed it. And so Naruto told her his secret. He was glad to see her expression never once hinted at disgust, spite or hatred for his friend, not that he had expected any less from her.

Instead she was a little upset. "Naruto… why didn't tell me before?" You could see in her eyes she would have done something had she known. What exactly, he didn't have a clue – he didn't think she knew either.

"Ah, because I didn't know if I had the right to tell you before, you know?" Naruto answered, scratching his head sheepishly. He looked absolutely certain she wouldn't have turned her back on him. He needed more people like that in his life. "With you being a civilian and all," he explained refusing to look at her. "So?"

Once again Ayame threw her arms over the counter, but this time it was to hug Naruto. The blond didn't know what to do at first, but then he returned the embrace and mumbled. "Eh this feels kinda nice."

"What does?" Shikamaru wondered aloud.

"This is the first hug I remember." This only made Ayame squeeze harder, so much that Naruto was starting to suffocate. A after a while she let go and Naruto, fresh of the new experience looked at his friend.

"Shikamaru, hug me!"

The Chunin's brain froze. "W—hell no!" Trust Naruto to say the weirdest things at random. It was enough to give one an aneurism.

"Aw c'mon!" said the blond and suddenly Shikamaru was under the intense stare of three people. The young Nara sighed while muttering. The things he did for his friends… Of course Naruto didn't find it as pleasant as the hug Ayame had given him – for obvious reasons, but he didn't let go right away either.

"I knew it! You do swing the other way."

And of course this particular troublesome kunoichi had to appear at just that moment. First it was Neji and now this. Naruto abruptly let go – finally – and spluttered while he thought about the thing Choji had told him. Namely, that all the pranks pulled had the expected results.

He shrugged condescendingly. "Don't worry about her, Naruto – she's just having dating problems."

The reaction was instant and the young Nara had barely time to dodge the kunai thrown. Seriously, he didn't know what was scarier – the fact that he didn't even see her draw the weapon the fact she had another one waiting on hand. Kunoichi were scary. Of course the owner and waitress of the ramen stall were far from impressed seeing the kunai dented their perfectly fine counter.

"You…! You're the one behind this!" she said, barely controlling herself.

He raised an eyebrow. "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. I was away on a mission, remember? But Ino told me everything – well everything about you and Neji at any rate." It was now Naruto and Ayame seemed interested by the news, while Tenten flushed. Too bad – she had brought it up. "Though I must say you really have bad luck."

The girl nearly growled. "Bullshit! I know you're the one behind this."

Shikamaru smirked and returned to his meal. He knew he had won this round. Tenten gave up and left vowing payback. Naruto looked at him and just then Choji appeared and sat between the two of them. As he placed his order, the young Akimichi turned to Naruto.

"Boy, you sure have missed a lot during your mission," he teased.

Naruto nearly died when Choji recounted every odd happening in Konoha during his absence. Like Tenten and Neji going out together, but with the misfortune of encountering their mentor Gai Maito the three times they tried to go on a date, or Shino wanting to watch porn in front of his parents, or how Hinata had been caught peeping on the women's baths. By the end of it, even Ayame was laughing. Of course, Choji had only heard from those misadventures from Ino – he denied having part in any of it, but the wink he gave Shikamaru was quite telling.

Naruto hearing all these stories had a glint in his eyes. "You know what? I think it's time for the undisputed King of Pranks to make a comeback. And the first I'm doing is challenging you!" he added, pointing at Shikamaru. "It's time for payback you lazy bastard!"

Shikamaru snorted. "After what you've done, I should be the one to say that."

"Me? Don't you remember all the pranks you pulled on me during the mission?"

"You practically shoved Aya on me," Shikamaru countered with a sneer.

"You started it!"

"I left. You should have done the same."

"I guess this is war then," Naruto said coldly.

Shikamaru narrowed his eyes dangerously. "Fine. Don't be crying to me when this is all over. Rules?"

The blonde eyed Choji for a second. "You can't use your teammates against me. Otherwise, anything goes."

That was about 30 pranks down the drain. Troublesome. "Fine." People around them could almost see the sparks flying.

"Also," Naruto smiled, "whatever happens, no hard feelings."

Shikamaru totally agreed to that and they shook on it. Still nobody had said anything about not starting now. "Then one thing. You may have turned Aya on me, but when she comes here – and she will thanks to your stupid stunt – remember I live with my family within the Nara Land." Naruto immediately understood the danger he was in. "I hope you enjoyed your virginity."

As he left Naruto crying in despair Shikamaru mentally counted.

Shikamaru 1, Naruto 0.

…At least, he hoped it was a prank.

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Of all the missions Team Oblivion could receive, Naruto never imagined the first one would be about Sasuke. He knew deep down the last Uchiha was important to the village. It was annoying that Konohaers expected the Bastard to succeed while they wanted him to fail. He had yet to get over the blatant favoritism. On the other hand, as arrogant, rude and as much as he sometimes wanted to punch the 'Rookie of the Year' in the face, Sasuke was his friend – sort of. So he did take this surveillance mission seriously.

The details were straightforward – Orochimaru was a vindictive bastard and if he had failed at one thing, he'd succeed in another, because he loved to have the last laugh. Also, he had a very big interest in the Sharingan. It was easy to conclude that soon after that loss against the two other Sannin, he'd want to get even and hurt Konoha by the same token – thus Sasuke.

The first part of their mission was simple – keep an eye on the Uchiha and prevent his extraction.

They were on their fourth night of surveillance and so far Naruto and Shikamaru had agreed that Sasuke must have been the most boring guy they had ever met. He literally did nothing but train and take care of his house. Thankfully they were keeping busy by their prank war. So far Naruto was leading five to two. The blonde snickered – soon Shikamaru would kneel before the King of Pranks.

He was imagining his victory gloating when a small noise put him on alert. Knowing the best place to meet Sasuke alone would be within the Uchiha district, He and Shikamaru had each settled in one of the abandoned buildings. Thankfully the perpetrator or perpetrators had sneaked in close to his hiding spot. Naruto turned on his radio.

"Shikamaru, trouble on my three."

"Got it." there a slight pause. "I got a visual – Four, no signs of Bones or Scalpels, calling backup anyway."

With that little preparation done, Naruto waited for the second part of their mission to start. Sasuke was training, but from his tensed stance, knew there were intruders around. Of course, the four people coming in weren't exactly going out of their way to hide their presence now. As they got closer, Naruto finally got a first look at them. One was bigger and buffer and Choji, sporting short orange hair, the second had dark hair, and six arms the other two looked like females from afar. One of them sported pink hair, while the other had a darkish lipstick, dirty hair and a second face.

"Naruto. Bingo Book. Page 33. Trouble."

The Blonde picked his book, very glad Shikamaru took him out to buy one after his promotion. At the mentioned page he learned those four were part of Orochimaru's army and responsible of the Barrier that ended up causing the death of the Old Man.

"They aren't leaving this village alive."

"Noted."

Meanwhile, the Sound Four had finally surrounded Sasuke. The first to speak was the white-haired girl, but judging from what he read in the Bingo Book, he wasn't a girl. "Well what do we have here? The Uchiha training by himself? That's dangerous. Shouldn't Konoha trash go home after dark?"

Sasuke snorted. "You have some nerve to step in the Uchiha domain so openly. Who the hell are you guys? The circus?"

Naruto nearly blew their cover by laughing out loud.

"Stuff it, dipshit!" barked the pink haired girl. Though from her language, Naruto wondered she really was one.

Sasuke shook his head mockingly. "Oh my, such language coming from a lady."

The orange haired sound ninja turned to his teammate. "See even the Uchiha says it, T—"

"Shut it, you stinking fatass!"

"Sasuke Uchiha, I am the East Gate's Sakon of the Four Sounds." The white haired boy said. The orange-haired brute, eight-limbed freak and pink-haired kunoichi introduced themselves as Jiboro, Kidomaru and Tayuya. Sakon continued. "We're here because our master gave you a gift."

Sasuke snorted at that. "What a gift – a leash to better control his pets." They all sneered at him. "What if I don't need his help?"

"You really think you're all that eh, fucker?" Tayuya said. "We'll try not to fuck you up too much. Orochimaru wants you alive after all."

Sakon moved first, aiming low. Sasuke vaulted over him only to be caught in Kidomaru's web. Only, the only thing remaining in the web was a log. By the time he realized this, the spider-looking shinobi was engulfed in flames. Sasuke then quickly dodged Jirobo, and used the shinobi's shoulder as leverage to deliver a spinning kick to Sakon. The Uchiha landed to return to his original position and smirked – he hadn't even used the Sharingan yet. This demanded some taunting.

"Are you guys supposed to be Orochimaru's best or something? Should I be impressed by four of Orochimaru's supposed elite needing to gang up on a Chunin to achieve victory? That's kind of pathetic if you ask me."

Sasuke went still. Naruto didn't understand it at first, but seeing his teammate struggle he figured it had to do with girl and the flute she was playing. He had to admit the team was good – it seemed the Genjutsu only affected Sasuke, even though the rest of her team were all within hearing range.

Tayuya stopped playing and smirked. "Heh, how's that motherfucker!"

Following his teammate's attack, Jirobo used a jutsu to trap Sasuke into a dome of earth. As Sakon and Kidomaru regained their bearings he smirked. He was no doubt devising a new strategy with his team as far Naruto could see. It was the blonde's turn to smirk however, when he heard the familiar high-pitched chirping sound. They cautiously circled the structure, but it suddenly flew apart. Jirobo barely managed to dodge the Uchiha's deadly lightning stab.

"Oh, you dodged – lucky you." The Sound Four looked at each other. Sasuke took that opportunity to say something. "I've seen the power Orochimaru promises. Frankly, I don't see how he's better than Konoha seeing Konoha made him, and the other two Sannin. I'll take my chances here." Good. That took part of their second objective.

Sakon looked angry. "It seems you need some better convincing." As he talked he and his team had different markings taking over their skin. "Let's see how you deal when we take it up a notch."

"How troublesome."

The new voice took everyone by surprise except Naruto who frowned. Damn Shikamaru! That was the perfect interruption moment, and he nailed it perfectly. The Sound shinobi tried to look in the newcomer's direction but found they couldn't. During their introduction, Naruto had seen Shikamaru stealthily exit his watching spot and observe from the shadows. During their small battle he managed to link his shadow with theirs while they were distracted. That almost failed seeing he was also caught in Tayuya's Genjutsu. Fortunately he was far enough that its effect were not has strong and so, he could dispel it on his own – and, more importantly, without being noticed. He tried again and succeeded while they were distracted by Sasuke's Lightning Edge attack.

"Who the fuck are you?" An angry Tayuya snapped.

"Trouble."

This answer seemed to only anger Shikamaru's opponents who turned completely demonic – some of them even had horns and hard looking skin too. With this new power up they were all able to free themselves from the Shadow Bind. But they hadn't made one step in his direction that they were pierced and bound together by Shikamaru's Shadow Sewing Technique.

"Yeah, I'm afraid I can't let you do that guys – this is Checkmate. Naruto?"

"Spiralling Bullet!"

The Sound Four barely registered there was second shinobi involved before the long range Rasengan hit them. The powerful Jutsu sent them all crashing into the next building. Now that was more like it! That was efficient and totally badass.

"What the fuck are you guys doing here and why are you after my kills – again?" Cue Sasuke being his usual Bastard self.

Naruto was having none of it. "Shut it, Bastard! This is actual our mission so butt out!"

"Your mission, but you're stepping on my territory and destroying my property."

"Uh guys," Shikamaru said to get their attention, "Can you guys discuss this after we deal with the Sound Four?"

Naruto looked nervous. "You think they're still alive?"

Sasuke looked unsure. "I'm not sure I liked their last transformation – looked demonic to me."

And he was right, too. Seriously, what the hell was up with Orochimaru and the occult? First it was zombies, then ghost zombies, and now freaking demons. And here he thought the Snake penchant for children was his only issue. Nonetheless, extermination was clearly in order.

"Let's cut off their heads," Naruto suggested.

Shikamaru quickly shot down the idea. "They're too far – and I'm not going anywhere near demons. Way too troublesome."

Naruto's eyes lit up. "Let's kill them with fire then."

"Oh no you don't, Dobe!" Seeing they had a plan, Sasuke decided to attack first.

Naruto had only time to yell "Shikamaru!" before he got started on his hand seals. His friend quickly followed more out of habit then from the will to outdo Sasuke. Unfortunately the Uchiha finished first.

"Blazing Dragon's—" Sasuke started.

"Infernal Fire Blast!" Team Oblivion said right after.

Sasuke's new gigantic fireball collided with the deadly combination attack. The result was surprising. Instead of setting off the firebomb, Sasuke's Jutsu got absorbed into it. The resulting ball of fire shone like the sun, nearly blinding the three boys in the process. And when the Jutsu hit the abandoned building the Sound Four had crashed into… Naruto could only marvel at the tower of flames the appeared after the explosion. It was surreal, it was beautiful, it was…

"Absolutely…" Naruto said, wiping away a single tear.

"Ridiculously…" Shikamaru added.

"Awesome.", Sasuke finished.

The teenagers were looking at the extent of the damage – they had taken out half the street with that Jutsu. Then they looked at each other, and then a fight immediately broke out. The subject was one that had come often between the three – Sasuke's recruitment of Team Oblivion. As usual Naruto refused. He didn't want to spend more time with Sasuke than he had too. Besides, as they were now both Chunin, Team Seven's missions would no doubt start to involve B-ranked or maybe even A-ranked objectives.

As they were arguing, and Naruto was about to pound his argument into Sasuke's face, they heard a slow clap. The trio turned around to spot a young man they definitely did not want to see.

"Kabuto," Naruto sneered. It was three on one now, but even then he felt nervous.

"I must admit I'm impressed. I knew Sasuke was stronger than before, but the way you disposed of them before they could activate the second state of their cursed seal properly shows me you've grown as well. I guess pitting you guys against Jonin before was a bit much considering you weren't even Chunin yet, but I do say you deserve your promotion." Kabuto replaced his glasses and left Naruto wondering how one could make that gesture look so threatening.

"Unfortunately, you won't get to enjoy it. You two are becoming increasingly painful to deal with – and letting you grow to your full potential would be bad business. And so I'll kill you and take back Sasuke with me if you don't mind."

Naruto glanced at Shikamaru. Their friends were already here and they could all attack in numbers, but the risk of one of them dying was too great. Their only hope right now was that Aunty was right about their surveillance. The sheer numbers should be able to even the odds.

"Well too bad you forgot to account for someone!" Naruto yelled back.

Kabuto smiled. "Oh were you perhaps referring to the ANBU in charge of the Uchiha district? I killed him already." Naruto gulped, while Shikamaru and even Sasuke looked nervous. "For an ANBU, he looked quite distracted."

"I agree," said a female voice that made the teens jump and Kabuto frown. "I always told Rooster he should watch his back before he got himself killed. But what can I say – Rookies, right? I suggest you surrender."

Though only one person was talking, Kabuto was surrounded by two ANBU. One was unmistakably Yugao, while the second one had the built of a man and a horse mask. Naruto breathed and regained his confidence – with this they had the upper hand.

"So there was more than one ANBU… It seems we keep underestimating the people of Konoha. Still it would be better to cut our losses here."

Yugao pierced Kabuto in the stomach the moment Kabuto tried to make a move. This sent Naruto and the rest into high alert. There's no way Orochimaru's right-hand man would drop so easily. Upon closer inspection the 'Kabuto' the ANBU had killed was Rooster, the ANBU that the evil medic said he killed earlier. The ANBU called for reinforcement and secured the perimeter before Naruto was able to sigh in relief. Still, he had a nagging feeling he had missed something. Shikamaru didn't look so happy either, but they both agreed it would be better to discuss this later.

The ANBU with the cat mask dropped to their level and Naruto hand instinctively neared his Kodachi. Nearby Shikamaru looked ready to move as well.

"Don't worry. I'm only here to officially congratulate you on your promotions." Naruto blinked. Did that mean what he thought it meant? "As your supervisors, Horse and I observed that you behaved and completed your mission adequately. With this report you should be able to receive the full rights and duties of a Chunin."

From what he knew of Yugao and what he heard from his Aunty, she definitely had reasons for that to happen. Besides, the council was pretty much in favor of their promotions anyways. At least he'd be glad not to have the sword wielding kunoichi breathing down her neck.

"Let's hope you mind your business from now on," she said before vanishing. The ANBU nicknamed Horse waved and disappeared as well.

Naruto turned to his fellow Chunin beaming like mad.

"So, ramen tomorrow?"

Sasuke shook his head while Shikamaru grinned. And all was well in Konoha.

For now.

Finally Chunin! Cheers for a hard earned promotion!

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A/N: Happy 2014 everyone! Again I'm thankful for the 1k+ reviews. This arc is officially done. What's next, well, it'll have to Naruto and Shikamaru, that's for sure. Other than that… it's a secret. Expect all that post arc what-have-you next time.

About the Sound Four and their defeat – that's what happens when an ambush works properly.

Oh, and another thing I put another poll in my profile. Check it out.

Nothing else to say besides R&R, so see you around!

*Sound of scissors cutting*

Rev: I'm so lost right now...could you please have a bullet point summary or something at the beginning of the next chapter covering what's happened so far?
SShun: I might PM you a summary if you like.
Naru: Maybe other people would like that though.
SShun: hm… well let's see what they have to say about that.

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Rev: I LOVE THIS!
Seriously, I love this […] Shikamaru and Naruto teaming up and forming FRIENDSHIP/BROMANCE,
Naru: not FRIENDSHIP/BROMANCE, EPIC FRIENDSHIP/BROMANCE!
Shika: *sighs* I do not know this guy.
Aya: *giggles* they're so cute together

R_: Shika developing more techniques, NARA MEDICINE (finally someone acknowledges!),
SShun: And plot relevant, too.
Shika: Yeah, that surprised me as well.
Naru: I wonder if we'll se more of that.
Shika: You might, I'll have to think about it.

R_: Naruto's way of learning is just PERFECT for him,
Naru: Aw, thanks! And did you see how strong I became?
Aya: *dreamily* he is, isn't he?
Naru:

R_: I'm glad Sasuke is getting somewhere now, I was totally amused by how he verbally replaced Sakura with Shika (who is much better right now anyways).
SShun: Yeah, poor Sasuke! He's never going to get them to agree with him with quotes like that.
Naru: That was funny though
Shika: I still resent that.

R_: Genta is an interesting antagonist.
SShun: That he is. The fact that there's never a direct confrontation between the mis what makes it more… fun.
Naru: For you. What I wouldn't give to kick his ass, though
Shika: Ditto.
SShun: *smirks*

R_: My only request is MORE NARUTO-SHIKA, MORE TEAM OBLIVION,
SShun: Done, and done!

R_: AND THE EXPLOSIVES, ALWAYS GOTTA LOVE THE EXPLOSIONS, SHIKA, YOU AND YOUR EXPLOSIONS ARE AWESOME.
Shika: *grins evilly* You don't have to worry about that.
SShun & Naru & Aya: *takes a step back*
Shika: …what?

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Rev: I think u should introduce Aya to Anko after she meets Hinata or maybe have Jaraiya adopt her would be very troublesome have get kiss up to Shika's mom so she likes her too.
SShun: All of this sounds hilarious.
Aya: I agree!
Naru: I don't want her to meet Hinata!
Shika: If she somehow gets along with my mom I'm doomed.
SShun: I'm looking forward to her meeting Anko. *chuckles*
Naru & Shika & Aya: …?

R_: Update soon. Ass in maybe the next week or so not 3 months u asshole
SShun: Dang! Foiled again!
Naru & Shika & Aya: *glares at Shun*
SShun: It was a joke! Seriously though, It /was/ before three months, so I'm good, right?
Naru & Shika & Aya: *glares at Shun*

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