Chapter Nine: Chuunin Wannabe Pt 2

So far, Naruto had found the Chuunin Exams to be not exactly what he had been hoping; at least considering the first portion of the exam itself.

In the first part of the exam, the Chuunin wannabes were subjected to a test of cunning, stealth, and skill; as they were pitted against the proctor of the exam, Morino Ibiki, and the various Chuunins either in disguise as other students or as side-proctors that graded them on their ability to cheat without getting caught.

During the whole course of the first portion, however, Naruto had found himself looking off towards Tenten's location whilst absent-mindedly touching the portion of his cheek that she had placed her lips on momentarily, earlier.

His mind could not comprehend the action that had taken place nor the sensation he was feeling now. It was all alien, to him. Yet, it was intoxicating in its after effects.

Naruto grinned in his suedo-inebriated state of mind; his dazed like expression catching the eyes of many of the proctors assigned to catch cheaters and grading them accordingly. Time had passed faster then he had realized and soon enough, Ibiki called a halt to everybody's testing and announced that it was time for the final tenth question.

Naruto, in a state of panic, snapped out of his stupor and realized that he had yet to answer a single question on the test. However, his mood changed as Ibiki called forth anyone who wished to abandon the exams as if they or their team had decided to take the question and failed then their chances of retaking the Chuunin Exams would become null from here on in.

Naruto scowled at the heavily scarred proctor/Konoha interrogator as he slowly raised his hand only to slam it down on the desk and called out the hidden challenge that the man was posing to everybody; stubbornly stating that he'd never back down, despite the danger of never being able to enter the Chuunin Exams again. To his amazement, it turned out that there actually was no tenth question and that it was all about how committed the entries were in completing a task when it may be possible that their lives and reputation would be put on the line. Ibiki demonstrated by removing his bandanna and hitae-ate from his head, showing everyone what they could look forward to should a mission turn for the worst. After his explanation, he announced that the first portion of the Chuunin Exams was complete.

The Forest of Death, so aptly named, was the next part of the Chuunin Exams. It was revealed to them during the end of the first exam when a woman going by the name of Anko Mitarashi, came crashing in through the window and displaying a sign behind her announcing herself as the proctor of the next exam.

The scantily-clad masochist grinned evilly as she explained to the timid Genin that they were to obtain two types of scrolls, one the Heaven, the other Earth. It was explained further that each team would have either one or the other and that the objective was to get the other by any means necessary. Killing a team was allowed.

Naruto gulped as he realized that the stakes to become Chuunin had been raised higher as it became clear that those he considered friends, or at least those he'd been in either friendly or familiar terms with; could very well be pitted against him and his team in order to get the heavily revered scroll they needed. Naruto's eyes looked for Tenten, hoping to get a glimpse of her and see what her impression of this was.

He didn't have long to search for as a hand gripped him by the elbow and he spun around to see that it was Tenten holding him by the grip, her face donning a sad expression.

Naruto, masking his earlier fears, grinned while placing a hand on her shoulder.

"Relax, Tenten-chan. I'm sure it'll be alright. How about this, if either of our teams come across each other, it'll be under a flag of truce as we'll not attack each other. Instead, we'll work together and help each other to get the scrolls we need."

Tenten smiled as she nodded, silently.

Tenten's teammates, however, who were right behind her; each had a different reaction to Naruto's speech.

"If fate were kind, you would not need our help, Uzumaki. But as helpless as you and your team are, and for Tenten's silly, unreasonable, admiration for you; I guess we'll help you." Neji sneered.

Naruto scowled at the older boy, Tenten doing likewise for Neji's jib at her.

Lee, however, raised a thumb's up, grinning.

"Yosh! Let all of our Flames burn brightly throughout this exam! We shall help each other, or I shall run all the way through the forest doing a hand stand on my knuckles!"

All three sweat-dropped at that proclamation.

"Naruto-baka! Sasuke-kun is getting impatient waiting for you! They're about to pass out our scroll! Get over here now!" A familiar voice shouted over their way.

Tenten scowled in the direction in which the voice came from whilst Neji smirked.

Naruto sighed and looked apologetically towards Tenten.

"I'll see ya at the tower, Tenten-chan. Be safe." He then smiled at her and gave her a small hug before turning around and running towards the direction of Sakura and Sasuke.

Tenten watched him leave for longer than she had intended as, soon, Neji came to her and nudged her.

"We've got our scroll and our designated gate; pine for the loudmouth later. We need to get going."

Tenten sighed and nodded before joining her team and heading towards their gate.

It had been an hour since Naruto and his team had entered the Forest of Death. Since then, Sasuke had decided for the team that they should come up with a code phrase that would eliminate the risk of someone posing as someone from their group. The one that he came up with, was one Naruto, for the life of him, could not remember even if his life depended on it.

Thinking on it more, perhaps that was Sasuke's point. Anything Naruto couldn't remember, which for some reason Sasuke and Sakura could; was the whole reason for coming up with something like that as they figured he'd be the most likely to be impersonated.

Naruto scowled at that thought. Why was healways ousted as the most likely to get in trouble; why weren't Sauske or Sakura ever considered? I mean, they too had a chance of getting in trouble in some way or another.

Naruto sighed loudly as he rubbed his eyes tiredly with his fingers. Those same fingers drifted down from his eyes to the blazing blue marks on his cheeks. His thoughts drifted also from his earlier thoughts to those clan marks. Reaching into the left pocket of his trench coat's jacket, Naruto brought out three scrolls that Kakashi had given him earlier.

==Flashback no jutsu==

Naruto, happily walking back to his apartment after talking with Tenten, was suddenly stopped by a 'poofing' sound that symbolized someone appearing from nowhere and then he heard his sensei's voice.

"Yo, Naruto!"

Turing around, Naruto found his sensei walking towards him with three scrolls in his hands.

"What is it, Kakashi-sensei? I've told you that I'm not backing down from taking the Chuunin Exams."

Kakashi gave his patented eye-smile as he waived his free hand in front of him dismissively.

"Nah, nah, that's not why I'm here. I know you're going in, which I'm proud of, by the way; no, the reason I'm here is to give you these as they'll help you a little with you're clan's abilities." He then held out the three scrolls for Naruto to take.

Naruto looked at his teacher curiously as he accepted the scrolls.

"What are these, Sensei?"

"Well, considering how your, "Mizuno", utilizes all airborne condensation and uses it to compensate for the lack of nearby water; I thought it only proper to give you some mizu jutsu scrolls so you can learn how to use them when the time comes. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to teach these to you before hand, but with putting yours, and your teammates, names in for the Chuunin Exams; I wouldn't have had any time to train you in these."

Naruto sighed and nodded, understanding.

"So, you're going to have to find a moment, if you can, in some point in the exam to study these and possibly practice them. I doubt you'll be entirely proficient in executing these, but the closer you get the better." He finished.

Naruto nodded and smiled. "Thank you, Kakashi-sensei. I promise; I won't let you down."

Kakashi gave his eye-smile again as he knelt down and tasseled his student's hair, affectionately.

"I'm sure you will. Oh, by the way, Naruto. I think you'll be pleased to see that one of those scrolls is, in fact, an original jutsu created by the Nidaime himself."

Naruto's eyes widened to large state as an excited grin swept across his face.

"Wow! Really, Sensei?"

Kakashi chuckled as he nodded his head.

Naruto then looked at him, suspiciously.

"Sensei, what are you doing with something this valuable?"

Kakashi looked up in a thinking pose.

"Well…." He then looked back at Naruto and gave, yet another, eye-smile. "I'll tell ya some other time."

Naruto face-faulted and then shook his fist in his sensei's face.

"Hey, you cheater! That's cheap! C'mon tell me!"

Kakashi chuckled and tasseled his student's hair and then turned around and began walking off.

"Save your energy for the exam, Naruto. Good lucking trying to master those jutsus. When you have the time, may be pursue Asuma-san to get you to teach you some of his futon jutsus, as I don't know any, really." With that being said, Kakashi left his fuming student behind.

===End of flashback no justasu===

Naruto grumbled under his breath about his lazy, shifty, sensei. He then sighed and began looking over the jutsu when he suddenly heard a large commotion from behind him.

Berating himself for his inattentiveness, Naruto made a hasty retreat back to where his teammates were to see them in a battle with the strange Sound trio that they had met prior to the first exam.

He jumped in front of one of the boys, this one with wild spiky hair, and began assaulting the boy.

The boy paused their match by doing a back flip and then looked at Naruto, curiously. His eyes narrowed and a smirk emerged as he made a loud whistle, which seemed to stop the others' fighting.

"Hey!" He called out, "What was the description of the person we were supposed to look out for? You know, the one Orochimaru wanted us to take back with us to Oto?"

The one wrapped like a mummy, with a hunched back, gave a thoughtful pose and then began listing things off.

"Well, lets see….He's supposed to have blonde hair…blue eyes and….peculiar blue, glowing, streaks across his face."

Naruto and the others starred at this proclamation.

"Oh yeah," The mummy boy said. "He's supposed to have had some sort of demon in him as well."

To be continued…

A/N: I know it's crummy for me to do this to you all, but this is where the cliffhanger is.

I was wracking my brain trying to find an alternate course to take in changing the "Forest of Death/Orochimaru-branding-Sasuke" arc. I found Orochimaru being intrigued by how the Kyuubi dying by Naruto's sudden kekki genki emergence, was the better of two options.

I apologize for the slowness in updating. The weekends and other odd times will be when I'll be able to write and or post, so please be patient and I'll do my best to get these bad boys out to you all.