Teams 7, 8, and 9 were all sitting at a campfire on their way back to Konoha. Well, the genin were sitting around the campfire having dinner as their jonin senseis were patrolling the edge of the camp. Kiba finished wolfing down his meal and said, "So, Bandit Slayer eh? Man that is so cool Naruto! Most ninjas don't receive a title until they're jonins. I don't think that there has ever been a genin with a title before."
Tenten quickly rolled her eyes and said, "Grow a brain Kiba. Receiving a title isn't a good thing; it means that people know you're out there. Naruto's going to have his face posted in the bingo books! In case it has slipped your attention that means that other ninjas are going to want to take Naruto out and every bit of information other villages can gather on him will be publicized for practically anyone to read." Tenten had gotten to know Naruto a bit after the battle and thought he was an okay guy. Sure he was a little odd at times, but he was a lot more normal than the people she was used to working with. She didn't want him taken out by a ninja because he now had a title.
Hinata meekly spoke up, "Tenten is right in this instance Kiba. N-naruto will have to watch himself now that h-he's got an official title. This is a very serious matter." Hinata was extremely worried about Naruto and didn't want to see him hurt because of name hunter ninjas. These were ninjas who specialized in taking out big named ninjas. Naruto would almost certainly attract a few once word got out that he possessed the Rinnegan. It still amazed Hinata that Naruto possessed such a legendary bloodline, but she did miss his old blue eyes.
Lee quickly replied in his exuberant manner, "Still, it is very youthful that Naruto has acquired a title! We should all double our efforts and acquire titles of our own. If I have not acquired a title by this time next year, I shall walk from Konoha to Iwa on my hands!"
This little discussion came to an abrupt halt when Naruto got up and started walking away from the campsite. No one knew what to make of Naruto's sudden leaving and the other genin just stared at Naruto's spot in surprise. After a few seconds, Sakura place her dinner down on the ground and said, "Wait here. I'll go see what's bothering him." She then got up and left in the same direction that Naruto had gone leaving everyone else alone and wondering what they had done.
Sakura found Naruto a little ways away from the camp sitting on a tree stump with a stormy expression on his face. This immediately put Sakura on her guard since Naruto was normally cheerful. She slowly approached her teammate and said, "What's wrong Naruto?"
Naruto turned around to face Sakura and his eyes showed a great deal of sorrow. He seemed almost helpless as he said, "I can't take their chatting over my title Sakura. They weren't in the thick of the battle having to kill all of those bandits. They didn't watch the villagers' fear of death and know that you were the only thing keeping them from despair. They didn't see themselves killing dozens of men out of their own eyes. They can't understand what it's like. Hell, no one can understand what its like."
That honest confession hit Sakura in the gut. What was she supposed to say? What could she say? While Naruto had been on the front lines, she had been safe inside the center of the village. Sure, the villagers inside the meeting hall had been frightened. But, they weren't going through the terror of the front lines. During the entire battle, Sakura had never seen a single enemy and had simply been responsible for keeping the village women and children from fleeing in panic. That was an incredibly tame job compared to what Naruto or Kakashi had to do. Very quietly, Sakura said, "I know I can't understand what you're going through and I never will. But Naruto, I also know that it's not right for you to be in this mood. I'm your teammate and teammates help each other. Talk to me and try to make me understand; it might help you out."
A small smile formed on Naruto's face for few seconds as he said, "Alright Sakura, I'll talk." Naruto then got more serious and he said, "It's difficult to describe. When you kill someone up close you can see the look of horror and death in their eyes. That's hard for anyone to cope with. I have Haku and Kimimaro's memories of their kills and the difficulty they had coping with killing other people. However, I don't just see the look in my opponent's eyes when I kill someone when my realms are out. I also see how they die and what I'm doing when they die all at the same time."
"It's difficult for me to relate to others Sakura, especially my peers and I'm not saying that because I'm an orphan. Through Haku and Kimimaro, I have witnessed my father try to kill me, been locked up in a cave, sat as a beggar in the snow starving, and silently sat by as dozens were medically tortured because my 'savior' was the one doing the torturing. Within me lies the pain and suffering of three children whose only fault in life was to be something that society didn't like and wanted to keep out of the way. Tell me! How do I relate to anyone when I have that kind of an experience?"
By this point, Naruto had broken down and crying his eyes out. Sakura, not knowing anything better to do, simply pulled him in a hug and let him cry on her shoulder. It was quite amazing really. If anyone had told Sakura back when Team 7 was first formed that she would have been comforting Naruto in such a manner she would considered that person to be a lunatic. And yet, here she was trying to help him deal with a mental attack brought on by some careless comments and his memory of memories that weren't his.
After several minutes, Sakura felt Naruto's crying wind down and then stop. Naruto then pulled back from Sakura and said in a sheepish manner, "Sorry about getting your shirt wet Sakura." He then gave his teammate a false smile, which she promptly saw through.
Sakura shook her head and replied, "Look Naruto. Things haven't been stellar for you in the past and you don't have to pretend that everything is alright when things aren't alright. If you want to pretend around others that's your right. However, I don't want you to pretend around me."
Naruto's face, joyful smile was quickly replaced with a much more subdued smile and he replied, "Alright Sakura. For you, I won't hide." Naruto was surprised, but talking to Sakura had helped out a lot for him. It somehow let the more painful memories he had acquired fade into the back of his mind without any emotional attachment. He could still remember the events, but it was now like reading about some ancient battle that had little connection to a person's life.
"Alright, I know I didn't meditate before going to bed. So, why am I back in the Bardo?" Naruto looked around at the misty cavern that housed Haku and Kimimaro's souls. Very quickly, Naruto decided to try and get some answers as to why he was here. He called out, "Haku! Kimimaro! Where are you guys?"
Both boys quickly emerged from the mist of the cavern. Haku gave Naruto a sorrowful look and said, "Good evening Naruto. Sorry about calling you here instead of letting you dream, but Kimimaro and I needed to talk with you. It's about the emotions that you experienced earlier today."
Kimimaro quickly took over for Haku. "The Rinnegan has a side effect that you weren't aware of. It is known as the Transmigration Eye for a reason. You gain our memories and bodies when you gain a realm, but you also gain our emotions. No human can bare the emotions of many people indefinitely. You just experienced a 'blow off' of excess emotions. These 'blow offs' occur when you experience extremely intense emotions of one kind or another. The effects of these 'blow offs' will lessen when you gone through previous 'blow offs' of the same emotions since we only have a finite amount of emotions from before we joined with you."
Haku then cut in and continued the lecture. "You will gain more emotions to go through this process when you add new realms. This is an unfortunate side effect that you need to be aware of. Also, you need to find someone or a group of people that you can bond with. During these episodes, the people that you have deep bonds with will help to pull you through. That's not to say that you couldn't pull through on your own because you can. The Wheel of Creation allows its bearer to pull through these bouts by themselves while the Wheel of Destruction does not. However, your bonds with your precious people speed up the process. Your attachment to Sakura is what allowed you to pull through the previous bout so quickly."
Naruto nodded his head and said, "I think I understand what you guys are saying. I'm going to have severe bouts of emo-ness because I've got all these emotions stuffed in my head."
Kimimaro rolled his eyes and stated in a deadpan tone, "You're experience the whole spectrum of emotions Naruto. That means that you'll have extreme bouts of happiness, joy, sorrow, anger, lust, etc. Each bout will cause you to experience a concentrated portion of the realms' combined emotions."
Naruto scratched the back of his head and sheepishly replied, "It's not just emo-ness I get it. Honestly, I understand." Naruto then leaned his head to the right and asked, "Uh guys? Why do I not seem to remember your memories when I'm in the Bardo?"
Haku smiled and relied, "That's very simple Naruto. In the Bardo you can't remember what we experienced. It's a way for you to sort out your thoughts without being overwhelmed by our experiences. Remember, this is a place a solitude for you from your regular life just as it is a place of contentment for us while you live."
Sakura was, although she didn't realize it at the moment, in the middle of a nightmare. In her nightmare, she was standing in the middle of a battlefield looking at the remains of a very massive and bloody battle. All around her were the decaying bodies of dead soldiers. Slowly, Sakura picked up her nerves and hesitantly approached one of the corpses. She then reached down and removed the helmet of a nearby soldier. Immediately Sakura wished she hadn't done that and leaped back in terror. There was her face staring back at her on the dead soldier.
The helmets that the other soldiers were wearing suddenly disintegrated and Sakura saw her face on every soldier. This grizzly sight caused Sakura to trip and fall on the ground. She then whispered out in terror, "W-what's going on here? Why is this happening?" Suddenly, the bodies began moving and tried to grab Sakura. She naturally tried to get away, but the moving corpses surrounded her and closed in. Sakura then desperately screamed out, "Help! Somebody help me please!"
There was a rumbling in the sky and two titanic figures suddenly appeared through the clouds. Sakura couldn't see who these figures were; their faces and bodies were shrouded in shadows. The only distinguishing features of these figures were their eyes. The one of the left had blood red eyes while the one on the right had cloudy grey eyes. Both figures stretched out a hand towards Sakura and a voice boomed over Sakura, "CHOOSE!"
By this point Sakura was literally over her head as she was being buried by the soldiers. The soldiers were all muttering about in a raspy manner that a decision must be made. Sakura couldn't even see the figures that were offering her salvation from this terror because of the soldiers. Reacting on instinct, Sakura reached up, blindly grasped a shadowy hand, and prayed that she would be saved from this hell.
Suddenly, Sakura found herself being pulled up and away from the hoard of soldiers piling onto her. She was carried higher and ever higher above the battlefield. Nervously, Sakura looked over her shoulder at the battlefield below. To her surprise, the battlefield looked like a giant, bloody heart. Sakura then felt herself be embraced by a pair of strong arms. She slowly turned around and saw-
Sakura was suddenly forced away by Tenten's shaking. The pink haired girl looked up at her temporary tent mate Tenten had a cheerful smile on and quietly said, "Come on Sakura its time to get up. If you don't get up now, you'll have to wait until we break for the night to get in a bath!" That quickly got up Sakura making her forget about her dream and any wondering about what it could mean.
Sasuke looked at his two temporary teammates. If he was honest with himself, he preferred the company of Naruto and even Sakura over these two guys. Still, these two had been acceptable and had helped him passed the first two tests in the exam. The 'last' Uchiha quietly stood in the background waiting for the Raikage to come in and announce what the next exam would be.
After a few moments, Kumo's leader arrived and started to speak. "Congratulations each and every one of you on passing the first two tests of the exams. In fact, more of you passed than we were expecting or are allowed to have for the final test of the exam. Therefore, we will have to undergo a preliminary round to thin you out. Be aware that there is a good chance of death in this next exam. If you feel that you are not ready or in a condition to take such risks, leave now. Do not worry about your teammates, because now the exam is every ninja on their own."
Naturally, Sasuke refuse to back down. He hadn't made it this far just to give up on his own. Finally, the Raikage nodded his head and said, "Very good. For those of you brave enough to remain I shall explain how the preliminaries work. Behind me on the other side of the area are three doors. One at a time, you all will be randomly called up to pick a door. Behind one door will be a Jonin ready to fight you, another will have a trap that can kill you, and there is nothing waiting behind the third door. The hallways of these doors quickly rejoin where there is a table and a list set up. Your goal is to get past the challenges of the doors and sign your names on that list. Do not rely on what others before you have chosen because the doors will be reset and changed every time someone comes up to choose. The unknown is a constant companion to a ninja; this test shows that fact."
Sasuke waited impatiently until he was called to make his choice. He then walked onto the arena, crossed over where the doors were located, and confidently opened the center door. Immediately, the avenger's danger sense started screaming at him as the door revealed a beautiful blonde kunoichi. The Kumo kunoichi gave Sasuke a predatory grin and quickly leaped to attack Sasuke. Reacting on instinct, the young Uchiha ducked, rolled to the side, and quickly started running for the center of the arena so he could have more room to operate.
Unfortunately for Sasuke, his opponent didn't give him the chance to think of a plan. Instead, she kept him on his toes just barely one hairs breath away from being hit by her attacks. Sasuke thought he knew what fighting a Jonin was like after witnessing Kakashi and Zabuza go at it, but this was unreal! She just kept going from one lighting fast attack to another. What made it all the more enraging and terrifying for Sasuke was the fact that she was using some unknown fire jutsu to create fiery claws over her hands. This was terrifying to Sasuke because he couldn't copy it with his Sharingan. Sasuke's voice contained a hint of fear as he called out, "Who are you?"
Yugito Ni smirked as she saw the Uchiha that many from Konoha were pinning their hopes on start to buckle from her killing intent. The boy had the worst luck to open the door when it was her turn to be the opposing Jonin. She gave Sasuke a predatory grin, upped the amount of killing intent she was sending, and said, "I am Yugito Ni, Kumo's second strongest ninja. End all hopes of becoming a Chunin and pray for your survival." With that said, Yugito quickly proceeded to maul Sasuke until he was a bloody mess on the area. However, she had been careful to make sure that none of her attacks killed the boy so that Konoha couldn't claim she was trying to assassinate the last Uchiha.
Team 7 was in the middle of some basic training when Sarutobi walked into the field. Immediately, Team 7 stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the Hokage. All three of Naruto's realms called out, "Hey Old Man! Why are you here?"
Sarutobi cracked a small smile at hearing Naruto's name for him and then got serious. He turned to face the three members of Team 7, looked into all five pairs of eyes, and then started to speak. "I have some bad news to tell you all and you deserve to hear about it first from me. A messenger bird recently arrived from Kumo. Sasuke Uchiha was badly injured during the preliminary round for the final test in the exam. He's going to live and he's going to be able to continue as a ninja. However, your teammate will be in the hospital for several weeks and will be returned to Konoha when the exams are over so that he can recover here. Right now, he's judged to be in too serious a condition to make the trip back from Kumo. Also, Sasuke has lost his right eye."
The reactions of the members of Team 7 were quick and quiet pronounced. Kakashi bowed his head in shame as if he was directly responsible for this. Sakura hugged herself and started crying. Naruto's reaction was the most interesting and the most varied reaction of the group. Deva Naruto quickly grabbed Sakura in a comforting hug since Naruto figured it would help her out. Human Naruto created a set of bone swords and tightly gripped them as if he was about to attack something or someone. Finally, Hell Naruto got right up in Sarutobi's face and almost shouted out, "How the hell did this happen to Sasuke Old Man?! I may not like the jerk, but there is no way that Sasuke would just end up in that kind of condition."
Sarutobi gave Naruto's Hell Realm a sharp glare and firmly stated, "Control yourself Naruto! Many things happen in life that we don't have any control over as you well know. This is one of those times. Sasuke had the misfortune to pick to fight a Jonin and had the double misfortune to face off against the strongest Jonin Kumo had allowed as an eliminator. These things happen and there is nothing we can do. All that you, all that any of you, can do now is train. When Sasuke gets back you can help him in his physical therapy and help him return to active duty if he so chooses. If Sasuke decides to leave the Shinobi life you can be there to help him recover as a friend."
The old Hokage watched as a storm of emotions crossed Hell Naruto's face. Unknown to Sarutobi, the news about what had happened to Sasuke had caused Naruto to go through another emotional blow off. Suddenly, Human Naruto leaped at a nearby tree and started to shred it with his bone swords. The others watched as Naruto turned the tree into toothpicks. Once this was done Human Naruto returned to the Bardo. Deva Naruto slowly said, "I understand Old Man. Thanks for telling us about Sasuke. Don't worry; we'll help Sasuke out any way we can."
Sarutobi nodded his head and replied, "I know you will Naruto. I know that all three of you will help out Sasuke and I would expect nothing less from my ninjas. In the end of the day, all we have to help ourselves is each other."
Kakashi nodded his head solemnly stating, "Those who abandon their comrades are lower than trash. I'm proud to say sir that no one on my team is lower than trash. Thank you for informing us sir. I know how busy your schedule is."
Sarutobi nodded and said, "Quiet right Kakashi, quiet right. Sadly I can't spend more time with you all to help you sort out any issues you might have. My paperwork breeds like rabbits and if I'm not back in the office in fifteen minutes the stacks will be over my head." With that slightly humorous note, the Sandaime left the training field.
Kakashi quickly turned around to face Sakura and Naruto. He then said in a very serious manner, "Team, take the rest of the day off. You've just heard some very painful news and I don't want you within fifty feet of a training ground for the rest of the day. Neither of you is mentally ready to train any further. Naruto, I don't want to hear anything out of you about Haku or Kimimaro training after hearing bad news or about you wanting to vent your frustrations like you just did. A ninja needs to have a calm mind when training so that he or she doesn't get carried away. Haku or Kimimaro might have had that discipline, but you don't have it all the time." He then turned around and started walking away.
Sakura looked up at Kakashi and asked, "Sir? Where are you going?"
Kakashi stopped, turned around, and said, "I'm going to check on the shrinks at the hospital. Taking that kind of damage and then going through a long recovery can mess with your head. I want to scout out who will be seeing Sasuke. Also, I want to check on eye transplant options for Sasuke."
Sakura nodded her head at this and Naruto remained silent as Kakshi walked away. It was then that Sakura noticed that Naruto was hugging her. Instead of jumping away, Sakura actually snuggled up against Naruto. His presence was comforting to her and she secretly enjoyed the close feeling she was getting. A very small part of Sakura wondered why she was enjoying the closeness to Naruto. However, that small part of her didn't reach her conscious mind.
Hell Naruto walked up Sakura and said, "Hey Sakura, want to go to Ichikaru's? They've got this great blend of ramen that can pick up even the most depressed people. Trust me; it's really good at picking you up."
Sakura nodded her head and said, "Alright Naruto. Let's go to Ichikaru's. But know this, you're paying." Hell Naruto quickly retuned to the Bardo and Naruto smiled. Okay, it wasn't exactly a date. But, it was a step in the right direction. Besides, it got Sakura's mind off of being depressed about what happened to Sasuke.
It was the dead of the night in the Kumo General Hospital and only a few late night nurses and overnight patients were in the hospital. Very stealth fully, a shadowy figure moved through the hospital corridors to a single patient room. There was a ninja wearing a Konoha headband standing next to the door on guard. The shadowy figure frowned for a second from the shadows and considered what to do. Carefully, the figure slowly cast a genjutsu on the guard. This was done over the course of several minutes to make sure that the guard would remain under the genjutsu's effects. Once the guard was under, the shadowy figure went to the door, picked the lock, crept inside the room, and closed the door.
Yugito removed her mask once the door was closed and scowled. Damn her restraint earlier in the match and damn the Raikage! Having Sasuke Uchiha inside the hospital under minimal guard by Konoha was just far too tempting for Kumo's leader. The Sharingan was tantalizingly within Kumo's grasp and the Raikage refused to let it slip through the cracks. A golden opportunity like this would likely never come again.
Ever so slowly, Yugito forced down her revulsion, reached for the hem of her pants, and pulled them down. Her panties quickly followed leaving her lower half exposed. Konoha, as was their right, had demanded that all samples taken from Sasuke by Kumo's doctors be turned over to them for proper disposal. Kumo had acquiesced to Konoha's request after a show of resistance to allay any suspicions. Blood samples were meaningless compared to having an Uchiha of their own. Yugito had been given the 'honor' of mothering Kumo's future Sharingan wielders since she was the strongest kunoichi and the Raikage wanted the best possible offspring.
Damn it all, the boy was only thirteen years old! Yugito had never felt more dirty or revolting than she felt right now. She wanted nothing more than to put her clothes back on, leave the hospital, and get as far away from the boy as she could. However, Yugito's sense of duty and self-preservation, the Raikage had been very descriptive about what would happen if she failed; forced her to bed the unconscious Uchiha.
Once Sasuke's seed was in her womb, Yugito leaped out of the bed like it was on fire. She quickly put her clothes on and made sure to remove all evidence of her presence in the hospital room. Before she left, Yugito turned around to look at Sasuke and whispered, "I doubt you'll ever forgive me for this boy, I sure as hell know I won't forgive myself. However, I promise that our child won't have put up with this kind of shit if I can help it." With that said, Yugito left the hospital carrying the unknown heir of the Uchiha Clan.