I seriously lost inspiration for this fic—rather the manga just went everywhere and I was just so confused. But that literally defines my life, so sometimes you just gotta run with this shit.

I was going to go a completely other direction with this fic, as I've written the Chuunin exam so many times its physically painful. But its an important part of the first arc, so sometimes you just gotta suck it up.

Things I've changed from cannon: Naruto didn't meet his father when he defeated Pein. I'm surprised no ones pointed that out. But no, that didn't happen. To be honest, I thought that whole scene was a little stupid anyway. If Sasuke killed Itachi after the council, I really don't' remember. But if he didn't then this actually hasn't been changed.

Naruto knew that there was something clearly wrong the moment he spotted his younger self face down in the floor.

And also knew that whatever had happened, it was entirely his fault.

It was obvious that this was the result of some degree of stupidity on his part, as Rock Lee hovered over his younger self, distressed and halfway to tears. Accidental then, most likely. Sasuke was hanging awkwardly away from the spectacle as Sakura ran and skidded to her knees, shaking his limp body repeatedly.

He'd come to the past in hopes of meeting Kakashi or one of the other Gennin instructors, on the off chance that he could pass himself off as a curious Jounin amiably making conversation about the Gennin exams. The academy was completely devoid of Kakashi, Gai, Asuma or Kurenai, though he did stumble upon Sasuke's fight with Rock Lee.

Or what was supposed to be.

Instead, the Uchiha was frozen on the sidelines, looking as if he hadn't fought at all. And it was his younger self that seemed to have taken his place, resulting in a different end then the one he remembered.

The blonde felt his heart freeze, his feet carrying him numbly until he stood, like a still wraith over his own body. What a surreal moment, as his mind continued past warp speed, trying to wrap around the fact that he could possibly be dead right now. Was he dead right now? Had Rock Lee accidentally kicked his skull straight in? What about him then, did that make him some sort of fucked up paradox?

What the hell was going on?

When he voiced it aloud, Rock Lee immediately leapt up.

"I'm so sorry—this is entirely my fault, Jounin-san!" The bowl-cut boy sniffled. "You see, I had wanted to fight Uchiha-san… but Uzumaki-san…" The boy gave a tearful look to the fallen blonde on the floor. "He insisted to fight instead."

Naruto sighed. Yeah, that was him alright.

"And what else?" The blonde Jounin edged him on snappishly.

"He used some strange technique—

"It was Karyu Endan." The Uchiha spoke up then, looking stunned himself. Naruto studied the lines of his face, wondering where the boy was now. He'd killed his brother—now what? With his revenge filled, what was left for the shell of his best friend? Naruto wasn't sure.

"The dragon flame bullet?" Sakura looked up sharply, confused and bewildered. "But—But that's an A-Rank Jutsu! I mean… Naruto couldn't have possibly…"

The Jounin blonde waved her off. "It was probably a very untamed, lesser version." He assured the girl. Well, at least he hoped so.

At any rate, the blonde was seriously regretting teaching that technique to his younger self. Who knew it'd end up being his signature?

"I tried to block it…" Said Rock Lee, mournfully. "I released too many gates—this is all my fault! I shall run twenty laps around Konoha to atone for my sins—

"That's quite alright!" Naruto cut in hastily. "This isn't your fault, Lee. It was an accident."

The blonde knelt down next to his younger self, trying to ignore the blatant orange as he rolled the boy over. He wasn't Sakura, but he knew enough about general health and well being to heave a sigh of relief. He was alive, thankfully. Looks like his head was a little bit thicker then he thought.

"Is he okay?" Sakura whispered, fearfully. Naruto was touched to see so much concern out of the girl. Sakura had always been a little stand offish with him, before Sasuke had left, anyway. What else had he accidentally changed?

"He'll be fine." Naruto lied, still unsure himself.

He realized with sudden clarity that the exams were about to start—and Team Seven and Neji's team would both forfeit if all three members weren't there for it.

"Why don't you guys head over to the exam room?" He began quickly. "I'll just help Naruto up…"

"But—but you can't enter…" Sakura faltered in her protest. "…Without a full team…"

Naruto gave her a smile, watching in amusement as the girl's cheeks lit pink. God if he told Sakura that her younger self seemed to gave developed a crush on him… "Don't worry, I'll get him there in time."

Though Sakura didn't look convinced.

Luckily, Sasuke seemed to understand how dire their situation was. "Sakura." The girl turned at the sound of his voice. "C'mon. Just listen to him."

Still unconvinced, though clearly wavering, Sakura only nodded numbly, following in step with her Uchiha teammate. She gave a worrying look to her fallen teammate, before scurrying after Sasuke.

"You too, Lee." He spoke to the older Gennin, smiling. "Your technique is very impressive. You wouldn't want to miss your chance for Chuunin, would you?"

"No, Jounin-san!" Lee parroted, looking pleased with the compliment. "…You really think I will make Chuunin?"

"You're very talented." Naruto answered truthfully, tactfully leaving out the fact that he would probably be injured during the preliminaries of the final round. "A real Taijutsu master! Is Gai-san your teacher?"

"Yes he is!" Lee brightened. "He is the most talented Jounin-sensei in the world! Gai-sensei can do anything, he is so youthful! Just last week he—

"I'm sure he is—but maybe you should go in too…" Naruto interrupted weakly, before this Gai spiel got out of hand. "I'm sure your team is waiting."

Lee bolted in surprise. "Ah! You are quite right, Jounin-san!" Then he took off, shouting over his shoulder. "Thank you, Jounin-san!"

The blonde only shook his head. "That guy hasn't changed one bit."

He looked back to his unconscious younger self.

Naruto was under no impression that this entire scenario hadn't been his fault. If he hadn't taught himself that technique—which was clearly too much for the young Gennin to understand, or even comprehend the consequences of, this wouldn't have happened. The young blonde wouldn't have had the confidence to challenge Rock Lee in Sasuke's stead, nor would he have been able to fight off the older Gennin without all the training "Furu-sensei" had asked him to do.

Like he didn't have enough fucking problems. What with Sasuke being on Konoha's wanted list, that crazy ass Danzou being elected Hokage, Akatsuki, and the fourth Shinobi war practically simmering on the horizon. Now his younger self was knocked cold and the exams were going to start any minute now.

"Naruto." He poked at his younger self. "Hey. Kid."


He tilted the boy's head, taking a look at the deep gash on the side of his head, dripping down his ear. It looked pretty bad, and though he could tell Kyuubi was already healing the wound, that could take hours. They didn't have hours. They had five minutes at best.

Naruto sighed.





Sakura fidgeted, for once unconcerned with Ino leaping onto Sasuke, nuzzling her face into his neck. Her eyes hadn't once left the door behind them. They'd met Kakashi-sensei, who had first and foremost asked where Naruto was. Sakura had lied and said he was in the bathroom. But the fact remained—they couldn't compete without a full team.

After Ino had moved on to berate Chouji, Sakura hedged closer to her last remaining teammate.

"Sasuke-kun," She began timidly. "You don't think…"

"He'll be fine, Sakura." Sasuke said, exasperated. Though there was a lingering crease to his brows, a concern for his teammate. Or perhaps for the fact that without their teammate, they wouldn't get a shot at being Chuunin.

Sakura let out a breath. Well, if Sasuke believed it too…

"Who was that?"

Sakura blinked, startled at the question. "Huh?"

"That guy." Sasuke reiterated. "That Jounin guy."

"Furu-sensei?" Sakura tilted her head. "That's Naruto's sensei. Apparently he's real. He's the one who taught Naruto all those techniques…"

The Uchiha narrowed his eyes. That guy… he thought to himself, must be very powerful. Even an idiot like Naruto could clearly learn things from him. Things like that powerful A-rank Jutsu. Kakashi certainly wasn't teaching them anything like that.

"Hey guys!" The door opened, and the whole twelve turned to the opened door.

"Naruto!" Sakura breathed, relieved. "You're alright!"

"Yeah guys, I'm fine." The bubbly blonde rubbed the back of his head. "What'd I miss?"

"Idiot." Sauske sighed, though he looked just as relieved.

"You moron!" Sakura swiped at him. "You almost got us booted out of the exams! Why'd you have to get hit like that?-!"

Naruto ducked easily, smiling. "But Sakura! It's not my fault! Everyone knows Lee hits pretty hard. And anyway, he had almost five gates open! You don't mess with shit like that…"

All twelve of them were staring at him, uncomprehending.

"Dattebayo?" He ended, awkwardly.

Shikamaru turned away first. "Whatever." The kid yawned. "At least he's back."

Naruto was surprised to see the rest of them looking pleased to see him as well. The blonde was touched—had they all cared that much? Had he never realized how much he had, how many people he had behind him? He'd thought that the village had only truly supported him after he'd taken down Pein. Perhaps he'd been wrong… maybe it was there all along, and he'd just been too blind to see it.

And more importantly, why was he repeating the Gennin exam?

How the hell could his younger self had ended up unconscious? Team Seven couldn't fail just because he fucked up the timeline again. There were some shit that he instinctively knew not to mess with. The Chuunin exams were implacably one of them.

And he had clearly already fucked it up.

"Is your head feeling okay?" Sakura asked, worryingly.

"It's fine!" Naruto lied easily.

Actually, he'd stuffed his younger self into a closet after putting a sleep Jutsu on him. His head was probably going to be pretty killer when he woke up. Hopefully it would keep him out for a the hour of the test, at least until the first exam was over. And even if he did wake up, the kid was blinded, tied and gagged. If he managed to get himself out of the locked door and through the Genjutsu Naruto had trapped it up with, then he'd be really impressed. At his teaching abilities as much as he would be at his younger self. He'd keep to the plan for now—wait until this exam was over before seeing if his younger self was awake yet. It wouldn't take a difficult illusion to make the boy believe he'd actually taken the test, and hadn't spent it in a janitor closet.

How many things would he accidentally change? Naruto was already fast-forwarding, bracing himself for the moment that Orochimaru forever pitches Sasuke into the darkness. Was it even physically possible for him to stand by and do nothing? Not to fight that man with every ounce of chakra in his body?

The blonde Jounin—disguised as his younger Gennin self—sighed.

And why the hell was he taking these goddamn exams over again? They sucked enough the first time around.

"You kids are noisy." A testy voice came from the side, and Naruto felt every bone turn to stone and his blood run cold.


"Right out of the academy, right?" The guy sighed. "Screaming like school girls… this isn't a picnic."

Naruto couldn't even move. Actually, couldn't even say anything. To think, this guy gave his body to a freak like Orochimaru. Naruto shivered involuntarily. What a creep.

"Who do you think you are?" Ino scowled.

"I'm Kabuto." The slimy bastard introduced himself. "But instead of that, look behind you."

"Behind?" Sakura blinked, turning around.

She was met with almost every pair of eyes in the room, focusing on the Gennin gathered in the center of the room like they were some sort of circus spectacle.

"Everyone is nervous about the exam, so you should quiet down before you cause a scene." Though Naruto assumed the already had. Kabuto continued on. "Well, I can't blame you. You're clueless rookies. Remind me of how I used to be."

What's sad is that you've taken this exam seven times. Naruto thought irritably. And for what? To help Orochimaru take Sasuke?

"So this isn't your first time then?" Naruto scowled, unable to hold his temper much longer. "Jeez. How many times have you taken this exam then, seven?" He laughed. "Isn't that a little more pathetic…?"

Kabuto narrowed his eyes, and Naruto caught the glimmer of the actual, cruel-hearted man. It was gone quickly though, replaced with an almost meek little smile. "Err—actually yes."

"Wow... so you know a lot about this exam!" Sakura pointed out.

Kabuto chuckled. "That's right. I'll even share some info with you cute rookies. These are nin-info cards…"

"Nin-info cards?" Sakura echoed.

"They're basically cards which have info burned into them with chakra. I have four year's worth of info here. Over two-hundred cards…"

Chouji had knelt next to him curiously. Naruto wanted to drag the Akimichi at least twelve feet away from the guy, but refrained. "What are you doing?"

"You can't view them unless I use my chakra…" He explained. "For example…"

Naruto wasn't nearly as impressed with all the information as he had been the first time around. Quite honestly, most of it was useless anyway. It was strange, watching Sasuke get so worked up about Gaara and Rock Lee's cards. Actually, it was surreal just seeing expression on the boys face. Soon, it would be nothing but a mask of impassivity. Naruto had tuned everything out, focusing on the bridge of Sasuke's nose, the high cheekbones and sharp chin. To think that he'd joined Akatsuki…

What happened to him?

They were enemies now… Naruto thought to himself, distantly. Well and true enemies.

And yet here they were, still on the same team.

He was so lost in thought that it took Kabuto belching on the floor to bring him out of it.

They didn't have much time, because soon all the proctors arrived with more stunning style than Gai's "Dynamic Entry" Eventually, the crowd thinned out as everyone got into their seats for the paper test. Naruto didn't even bother with looking at it, more concerned over getting all this over with. He'd take this stupid test, and once it was over he'd see if his younger self had woken up enough to take the rest of the exam. There was a lot to change in the Forest of Death, but Naruto wasn't sure if it was even for the better. But Sasuke…

Once again, Naruto had accidentally completely forgotten about Hinata, who was smiling at him and wishing him well for the test. Oh god Hinata…

He stared at her, the short hair and blushing, rounded face. To think this girl just proclaimed her love for him, and took a hit from the Akatsuki leader.

Naruto was so red in the face that for the majority of the test that he was as bright as a tomato.

There was little else he could do but feel his face burn, staring uncomprehending at the paper in his hands. Jesus, a Jounin and he still didn't know the answer to half of these fucking questions. To think Sakura answered them all—that was pretty goddamn impressive.

Why was he still sitting here taking this stupid test?-! Hadn't it been an hour yet?

"Ok," Ibiki's voice sliced through the anxious silence, startling everyone in the room. Naruto slumped in his seat—after doodling for the past hour, trying not to think about Hinata, or his love life in general, when the girl was right next to him was incredibly tedious. "And now, for the final question."

"First, for this tenth question…" The torture and intelligence operator began steadily. "You must decide whether you will take it or not."

"Choose?-!" Temari shouted. Naruto almost laughed. Six years later and she was still a no nonsense battle axe. And Gaara… well, hopefully Naruto would keep him from dying. "What happens if we choose not to?"

"If you choose not to," Ibiki continued on, irritated at the interruption. "Your points will be reduced to zero—and you will fail! Along with your teammates!"

The crowd erupted into noisy anarchy, which Ibiki quickly quelled with a quick jab to the desk in front of him. It splintered on impact, and the entire room became deathly quiet once more. "And now, the other rule. If you choose to take it, and answer incorrectly, you will lose the right to ever take the Chuunin selection exam again."

Kiba protested the obvious. "What kind of stupid rule is that?-! There are guys here who have taken the exam before!"

"You guys were unlucky. This year it's my rules." The man smiled, though with his scarred face it looked a little grim. "But I am giving you a way out. Those that aren't confident can choose not to take it… and try again next year."

Naruto scowled lazily. To think he'd been so freaked out over such a transparent question. But of course, being a ninja was all about being brave—or in his case just really fucking stubborn—and this sort of shit hadn't even really fazed him even when he really was twelve.

"Now the tenth question… let's begin! Those who do not with to take it, raise your hand. Once your number is confirmed, leave."

He couldn't take it anymore. All the frustration from the future—all that useless feeling, unable to help Tsunade, to stop Danzou from becoming Hokage, even from Sasuke killing Itachi, and selling his soul to the devil himself. No amount of brute strength, mulish stubbornness or just plan old naïve faith could help him. He could crush any opponent in his way—but to what end? Nagato had changed his ways… but Madara was still controlling Akatsuki. He was ready to be Hokage, but the council still stood in his opposition. Everything was building up inside him, having to take this stupid test all over again, the pressure of realizing how much he'd fucked up the world by going into the past, how much he could fuck up the world, the fourth shinobi war and Sasuke standing on the other side from him—

He couldn't help it, he laughed.

"Got something to say, blondie?" Ibiki narrowed his eyes. The Gennin struggling out of the room had stilled at the sound.

"Yeah I got something to say." The blonde began, irritated. "This test is some goddamn fucking bullshit and so is this goddamn tenth question—so you can take this shit and shove it up your ass because I'm not fucking going anywhere!-!"He didn't know when he stood up, but he was standing. "Uzumaki Naruto doesn't give up goddammit!"

How ironic, that he had just spent the entire test mulling over how little people changed, when it seemed even he hadn't changed all that much either. How inspirational. Of course he couldn't give up; just because there was too much shit to do didn't mean he could just roll over and let the world go to the dogs. No offense to Akamaru.

Ibiki narrowed his eyes. "I'll ask you again." He began, calmly. "Your life is riding on this decision; this is your last chance to quit."

"I don't quit." Naruto frowned. "That's… my ninja way."

Though he may have forgotten for a while.

Ibiki glowered for a moment, before nodding. "Good decisions." Was all the man said. Naruto thought he looked a little impressed. "Now, to everyone still remaining—I congratulate you on passing the first test!-!"

Naruto could actually hear Sakura's audible sigh of relief from somewhere above him, and he smiled.

"To the seventy-eight who remain—congratulations on passing the first test!"

"Wait…" Sakura spoke up uneasily. "What do you mean? We already passed? What about the tenth question?"

"There never was such a thing, or you could say that those choices were the tenth question." He smirked, his eyes lingering on Naruto. "Though I wonder if some of you have already figured that out."


"Hey!-! Then what were the first nine questions for?-! They were pointless then!" Temari yelped.

"They were not pointless." Ibiki shook his head. "They had already served their intended purpose." Temari looked confused. "To test the individual information gathering ability—that was the purpose."

"First, as the rules explained… success on this test is based on the whole team overall doing well. This puts pressure on each member not to mess things up for their teammates."

Naruto breathed, flopping back into his seat and sprawling there, feeling better then he had in weeks. Maybe time travelling to the past was rather therapeutic—it certainly helped him remember all the things he'd lost about himself in the last couple years. The years maybe changed him, but he was still Naruto underneath it all.

"But the questions on this test were not types that a mere Gennin could answer. Because of that, I'm sure most people came to the same conclusion; that to score point's they'll have to cheat."

"Basically the premise of this test is to cheat." Ibiki explained. "As cheating targets, we had two or so Chuunins who knew all the answers mixed into the crowd—to help you guys."

Hah, and to think that he'd literally had no idea that this had been the motive of the test the time he actually took it.

"Those that cheat poorly fail, of course." Ibiki began, pulling off his hat. "Because some times, information is more important than life. And on missions and the battlefield, people risk their lives to get their hands on it."

His scarred, burned head looked worse then Naruto remembered. A stark reminder of the Third Shinobi war, which ravaged all of the five great nations and decimated half the Shinobi population of Iwa and Amegakure.

And not even twenty years later the Fourth Shinobi War erupted. However, would Konoha emerge victorious next time?

Ibiki continued to explain the importance of gathering information, and Naruto found his thoughts mulling over to Sakura, and the Konoha in which he had hastily left behind. On the brink of the Great War, hell, on the brink of everything. For a few days it was total destruction, now it was total destruction by Danzou, and pretty soon it would be total destruction by the world. Conveniently, or perhaps rather inconveniently, Naruto was aware that these stupid, moronic exams were the forefront of everything, and here he was having to fastidiously restrain himself from doing anything at all.

This just clearly sucked.

What sucked more was Anko barreling the wall down with her grand entry, knocking dust and wall plaster into his face in the process. He thought less of her intimidating opening speech and more on his younger self, and his reaction to seeing her the first time. Were her boobs smaller? Was that possible?

He missed the part where she imperiously commanded everyone to follow her, and hastily got up after his team as they made their way with the remaining Gennin.

Just as the group rounded the corner, he threw up his hands and landed a Kage Bunshin, sneaking back the way he came as his clone split to join the other Gennin. He caught sight of Ibiki staring blankly at his paper as he ducked out of the crowd and down the hallway, smiling at himself. The guy better enjoy his vicious rendition of his future battle with Pein—with added special effects around the math problems and some pretty kick ass stick-figure fighting.

He was just about to reach the water closet his younger self was stashed into when he heard the clattering of Ibiki's boots rounding the corner into the hallway.

The blonde was about to sprint for it, when the faint sounds of lighter footsteps coming from the opposite direction met his ears.


As quick as soundlessly possible, Naruto flipped himself onto the ceiling, opened the vent and climbed his way in with the dust bunnies.

Just in time too, as Ibiki rounded the corner and so did—


"Hatake." Ibiki greeted amiably, pausing in the hallway to nod at his fellow Jounin. "I thought you'd left already."

"I did." The Copy-nin agreed. "But I came back to ask you how it went."

"Interested, I see." Ibiki smirked wryly. "You must really like this team."

Kakashi shrugged. "Considering I failed all the other ones."

Naruto smiled. Typical Kakashi-sensei.

"And did they pass?" The ex-ANBU began without anymore preamble.

Ibiki gave him an amused look—probably at seeing such concern out of the generally impassive Jounin. "They did." He answered finally. "You've got quite a bunch there. I have to admit I'm impressed."

"It was Sasuke, wasn't it?" Kakashi sighed, though he seemed less exasperated and more expecting.

Ibiki shook his head. "Naruto, actually." He tapped the paper at the top of the pile in his arms. "Didn't answer a single question—only drew what seems to be some sort of battle."

"Really?" Kakashi peered over curiously. "Huh. Didn't get Kushina's artistic talent did he?"

A brief, glancing smile and the wide brim of blue-green eyes, fiery red hair and his gut clenched at the thought of his mother. At the thought of seeing his mother.

"I'd think not." Ibiki snorted. "At any rate, it's nice to see you caring over something, aside from rescuing old women's cats and helping strange people cross the street."

"Those are actual scenarios." Kakashi said seriously. "And they did actually happen."

Ibiki looked nonplussed. "I'm sure."

They parted ways at that, and Naruto gave them a couple seconds to fully clear the area before he dropped off the ceiling, bending his knees to quiet the impact before rushing to the water closet.

He dispelled the Genjutsu making it look like the rest of the wall and pried the lock open easily, revealing—

A still clearly knocked out younger version of himself.





He was able to sneak back into the tide of Gennin easily enough, dispelling his clone when everyone was too focused on the enormous, looming trees of the Forest of Death, and not on the blonde who quickly reappeared behind his pink haired teammate.

"This is creepy…" Sakura mumbled next to him.

Naruto only narrowed his eyes at the crowd behind them, more interested in the restlessly shifting Kusa-nin then the gargantuan.

"You'll soon find out…" Anko smirked grimly. "Why it's called he Forest of Death."

Naruto remembered with stunning veracity how much those words had irritated him in the past. Funny how they still did. "Because a lot of shit dies in there?" He scoffed rhetorically.

"Spirit." Anko commented with a raised brow. "I like it."

This time, when Anko threw the kunai at him, he dodged under her swing, the Jounin obviously underestimating him and leaving herself outreached and completely open. He dove up, kunai to her throat.

Their eyes met, Anko's wide with surprise and his narrowed with grim satisfaction. "Kids like me—get killed pretty easy, right?"

Or that was what he'd told him anyway, six years ago.

Anko quickly snapped back into a shuttered scowl, turning as one of the Kusa-nin appeared behind her.

It was Naruto's eyes that widened this time, catching sight of Orochimaru's disguise and feeling white hot fury burn through him. He hadn't seen the sick Sannin the course of the first exam, though now he had a full view of the morbid disguise. The slick tongue holding out Anko's kunai.

"Here's your kunai." The man said, his snake-like appendage holding it out for her.

Anko gave him a burning smile. "Oh, why thank you." The pleasant undertone ruined by the angered visage of her face. "But try not to sneak up on me," And then, with a sultry look that held a certain amount of danger, she added, "Unless you want to die."

"No…" Orochimaru's rasp voice was defined further by the slow roll of his large tongue. "I just get excited when I see red blood. Plus you cut my precious hair; I just couldn't help it…"

It took everything he had to refrain from jumping at the snake with the largest Rasengan he could conjure. To think, he was exerting so much effort on staying put. A first for him.

"Looks like we have a lot of blood thirsty ones in this test." Anko noted with a tinged laugh. "Should be fun."

She turned to the assembled group. "Now, before we start the second test… there's something I have to pass out."

Naruto took his death certificate with churlish determination, making sure to keep his feet near glued to the ground, regardless of how every hair on his body stood on end at the mere thought of Orochimaru at his back. Everything in him was grossly wronged by such a feat, including his brain—which continued to war between a Jiraiya-like voice convincing him that inaction was the key to success, and the rest of him telling him to fuck it and just gut the guy.

By the time Anko had finished her long-winded spiel, indubitably meant to scare half of the kids here shitless, Naruto had duck a five inch hole with each foot into the dirt. There were small rocks in his sandals, but aside from that it seemed to work. While the impulse to take a run at the Sannin while he wasn't expecting it was causing his fingers to near spasm, he managed to make it to the gates without really fucking up the future as he knew it.

But the more he stood there, tracing the limbs of trees with his eyes and waiting for Anko to give them the go, the more he wondered if he even wanted the future the way it was. Though quite obviously he wasn't actually omniscient, and hadn't any idea what the outcome of the story he was winding through would be, he was acutely aware that half way through it everything just sort of sucked.

His best friend was well and truly his enemy, and before his untimely death Itachi had transparently hinted that Naruto may have to kill him, Danzou was undoubtedly going to screw Konoha for his own agenda, Madara was halfway to doing the same, and Naruto was absolutely positive that the Shinobi council was going to solve nothing.

And where did that leave him? Scrambling to find enough time to finish the work of his late mentor? To finish what could very well be the final mission Tsunade would ever give him? To save his fellow Jinchuuriki?

Just one hit, his mind whispered. The jugular, the heart, any main artery. And everything would be different.



For all he knew, killing Orochimaru could set off a chain reaction resulting in Konoha not even being there at all when he travelled back. Nothing but a decimated wasteland, and him the last of the once great Hidden Village. Just the mere thought was enough to spit him back into the real world with frank clarity.

The blonde open his eyes, this time nothing but determination lingering in their blue depths.

He could feel Sasuke's eyes curiously focused on him, as if subconsciously sensing the dynamic change in the blonde. The slow simmering confidence in contrast to the burning arrogance, the sharpness to his cheeks that hadn't been there and the way his eyes seemed to study the world with clearness.

"The Second Test of the Chuunin Exam.."

Naruto tensed, each muscle ready-spring as the locks shifted in the doors with an audible groan—

"Begins now!"

And leapt head first into the darkened forest.

It's almost amusing to see how much my writing has changed. I certainly cuss a lot more throughout most of this, I also notice that when I curse in person, it generally follows a goddamn fucking (blank) pattern. Like, "This is some goddamn fucking shit." Or, "This is goddamn fucking crazy." This could be the shrooms, or it could just be the fact that I was thirteen when I started this crazy story. OH MY GOD.

Review before I sell my soul to the devil in exchange for