Wrath of a Woman Scorned
Rated M for: language, violence, adult situations and concepts, lemons, and graphic imagery
[Insert disclaimer here]
Chapter 12: Let the Games Begin, Part II
"Alright, you sorry, worthless, wastes of space!" Ibiki barked, glaring down at all of them. "First things first, my word is law! While you are in this room, if any one of you disobeys one of my orders, you and your team will be summarily expelled from this test and the exams as a whole. Am. I. Clear!?"
The response was universally affirmative.
"Good to know we already ditched the exceptionally stupid ones," Ibiki growled with an intimidating smile. "Let's see just how smart you lemmings are. Form a line, brats. Straight down the middle aisle. You'll pick up a chit out of the box that my assistant at the front. The number on your chit will correspond with the number on one of the chairs. That is where you will be sitting until the exam is over. No questions. No complaints. No trades. No other bullshit or your out. I don't give a shit if you keep trash talking each other, but you start anything and I boot everyone involved. I don't give a shit who started it, you start anything and you all get the boot while my friends at the front door will point you toward a convenient training ground where your teammates can beat the stupid out of you. Got it?"
Another chorus of affirmatives.
"Then why aren't you forming a line you braindead maggots!?" he barked, he deep voice rattling the windows.
In the mad rush to form up and get started, very few noticed Ibiki slip out a side door. Of those who did, none gave it much thought.
Meanwhile, in the breakroom adjoining the large lecture room where his portion of the exam was going to be held, Ibiki fixed himself a cup of coffee, discretely tapping the counter three times. "Nezumi!" he called quietly.
A panel in the ceiling moved aside, revealing a stylized rat mask lurking in the darkness above.
"Tell our friends to get an extraction team ready," Ibiki told him, using a sip of his coffee to obscure his mouth. "I have a target of opportunity for them to pursue."
"The Yakushi boy?" Nezumi clarified, his voice barely above a whisper.
"The same," Ibiki replied, taking another sip. ROOT ninja were a rare commodity these days. The boy could be a wealth of useful knowledge, especially if he were an infiltrator like Aki had implied. Then, if he could be turned… well, the possibilities were such that he couldn't pass up the opportunity. "Assuming he passes my test, their best window will be in Training Ground 44, but make sure their ready in case he pulls a runner."
"She's not going to like this," Nezumi warned. Neither needed to say which particular "she" might take exception to Ibiki… appropriating, her latest interest.
"That's why we are taking him when there will be a legitimate excuse for his disappearance instead of snatching him now," Ibiki explained. "Besides, you can just throw me under the carriage if it comes to that," he added, turning back to the counter to rinse out his mug. "Who knows, maybe a running commentary and the occasional pointer while she tortures me might amuse her enough to let me off the hook."
"You, sir, have a very strange sense of self-preservation," Nezumi said, shaking his head disbelievingly as he replaced the ceiling tile.
Alone once more, Ibiki took a fortifying breath and squared his shoulders. "All for Konoha," he murmured before turning to leave.
There was a fluttering of paper as all of the participants flipped over their exams followed by the quiet scratch of pencils as they added their names and identification numbers before beginning the test in earnest.
Almost immediately Sasuke encountered… issues.
You are attempting to kill an enemy taijutsu specialist before he can reach a viable striking distance. He is closing fast but you hold the high ground and will be able hide a kunai in the glare of the sun for a brief moment in order to kill him. Your distance to target is 32m, there is a wind velocity of 27 kph out of the North East at a bearing of 43 degrees, you are at an elevation of approximately 14m, and angle of the sun will be at a 56 by 47 degree angle to your opponent at the optimum moment. Calculate the angle and velocity of the throw you will need to make in order to successfully strike your opponent. Show your work.
'What in the...?' Sasuke wondered incredulously. When Kakashi had mentioned a written test, he had expected it to be challenging but he hadn't expected this. He never calculated the angles of his throws; he just threw the damn things and practiced his clan's special techniques until they were accurate and second nature. There wasn't time to think about anything in combat, you just did it. There wasn't time for math during battle, it had to be instinct. He didn't even know where to begin with this!
Tap… Tap… Tap...
'This isn't getting me anywhere,' Sasuke decided as he skipped ahead, trying to find something easier. This wasn't like the academy where he needed to maintain an overall grade. He didn't need to get them all right. Really, he only needed enough points to not fail this exam so he could move on to the next round. Better to get the ones he could manage easily and worry about the more difficult questions after he'd gotten the points he knew he could. Quickly skimming through the rest of the questions to see if there were a few more simple ones that he could complete quickly Sasuke couldn't help but frown in frustration.
Tap… Tap… Tap...
There weren't any easy questions, not a single one. These questions were ridiculous! Barely relevant to begin with, completely unrealistic at best and stupidly overcomplicated at worst!
'What the fuck kind of test is this?' he wondered incredulously. 'At this rate, I'll have to-'
Tap… Tap… Tap...
'Who the hell is doing that?' Sasuke wondered irritably before looking up from his test to find the unfortunate person who dared to distract him in the middle of…
Tap… Tap… Tap…
It was Aki.
Lounging in her chair, her sharp eyes fixed on some point somewhere in the front rows that Sasuke couldn't quite pinpoint, as she steadily tapped a claw-like fingernail against the surface of her table... She looked the very picture of a cat on a ledge; relaxed, waiting, watching.
'Hunting,' Sasuke thought with a shiver.
Sasuke shook himself, tearing his eyes away from the sight. Aki wasn't his responsibility. Whatever she was up to wasn't his problem. Chancing a brief glance at Sakura who was diligently scribbling away on her own test. Suppressing a stab of jealousy at her academic prowess, he returned his attention to his own. Both of his teammates would be fine. Today, he was the weak link so his job was to just not fail. As long as he could manage that, nothing else mattered. Even if he had to lie, steal, and cheat he just had to…
Suddenly, Sasuke paused, his pencil hovering just above the paper. 'Cheat?' he wondered as the word echoed over and over again in his head. That's right! You didn't fail if you were caught you just lost points every time you were caught. He could cheat! He just had to make sure that-
'Son of a bitch!' he seethed, taking a moment to discretely glare at the examiners.
He would swear until the day he died that one of them smirked at him.
They were supposed to cheat!
Now armed with the secret to passing this portion of the test, Sasuke began to surreptitiously search the room for someone who already had something that looked like comprehensive answers.
Sasuke frowned, who should he cheat off of? Obviously, he had to be careful who he picked or he could still fail no matter how flawlessly he cheated. Sakura being the obvious choice was, unfortunately, a little too far away to be really useful. There were just too many people between them for him to use Sharingan reliably and they hadn't thought to iron out a system for passing clandestine messages within the team.
Something he planned to badger Kakashi-sensei into fixing the second they were done with this circus of an exam.
So, he either needed to find the perfect person to cheat off of… or he needed to treat this like a real intelligence gathering mission and check as many sources as he could manage and cross-reference answers to find the ones more likely to be correct. The first was simple, attractive and came with the benefit of someone to blame if things didn't work out, but the second was more likely to yield useful results.
He was going to have such a migraine after this.
He would need to wait, bide his time until enough people had completed their tests so that he would only have to look once. 'In the meantime, good people to cheat off of,' he decided. After all, no sense in wasting time lingering when he'd lose points when he could do a little scouting ahead of time. Ducking his head so that his bangs hid his eye, he absently doodled in the margins to look like he was doing something as his eyes flicked left and right.
As the test dragged on, Sasuke decided that, without a doubt, simple intelligence gathering was, bar none, the most boring thing ever and that all those "Gentleman Spy" movies he'd watched were utterly full of shit. But finally, finally, his targets were finishing their work and not a moment too soon as he only had fifteen minutes left in the first portion of the exam.
So, activating his Sharingan, he swept his eyes over the room paying special attention to his primary targets picking out as many extras as he could before he was noticed. He watched one of the examiners glare him and scribble something on their clipboard. Sasuke just smirked victoriously and returned his gaze to his own paper.
He had everything he needed.
The next few minutes were a blur of sorting and comparing images in his mind's eye and furious scribbling as he raced to get all the right information written down. Then, after an eternity and the beginnings of what promised to be a nasty cramp in his wrist, he was done. Giving a relieved smile, Sasuke finally set his pencil down, the wood giving a satisfying little clack into the relative silence of the room. Glancing at the clock, Sasuke couldn't help a bemused blink.
Had it really only been five minutes?
'Wait,' Sasuke thought as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. Something was wrong. He could still hear the scratching of pencils on paper and nervous fidgeting of the other participants. Nothing looked out of place… Why did that make him uneasy? Something was missing. Something just wasn't quite right. It was just…
It was just too quiet.
Suddenly there was a flicker of irregular movement at the edge of Sasuke's vision and his head snapped around, his eyes seeking out its source.
'Aki?' he wondered, confused. Catching sight of her blood red hair, he watched his teammate as she hopped lightly onto the table she was sitting at, settling into a low crouch. In the same instant, Sasuke's eyes flicked around the room, watching as the examiners zeroed in on her with looks ranging from confusion to dread and the head examiner—Ibiki if he remembered right—had just opened his mouth to say something when all hell broke loose.
In the next instant, Aki had crossed from her seat near the back of the room to the second row of desks, barely making a sound as she ghosted over chair backs and desktops until she reached a boy that looked like he might be in his early twenties if he was a day over nineteen.
Sasuke couldn't be sure whether the boy had heard her approach or had somehow felt her presence but, whatever the case, he saw the older boy start to turn, his shoulders suddenly tense…
Aki never even broke stride as she firmly grabbed ahold of the back of the boy's head, throwing her entire weight into the strike as she drove his face into the desk with enough force to crack the hardwood. Then, without ever releasing her grip, she gracefully rolled through the air to land in front of the boy's table before she twisted and heaved him over the table as she hurled him bodily across the room to crash through a number of hastily vacated chairs until he collided with the wall.
For a long moment, nothing happened as the entire room stared at the petite little redhead in shocked disbelief as she admired her work. Then the room broke into silent pandemonium, examiners rushing to help the boy Aki had thrown as gennin shifted uneasily, fingering weapons as they gave their teammates meaningful glances or studiously catalogued the nearest exits.
"What was it about 'no fighting other participants' that you didn't understand?" Ibiki growled, glaring daggers as he loomed over the little redhead while the examiners pulled her victim out of the rubble and started administering first aid. If the man hadn't scared him before, the head examiner had just earned Sasuke's eternal respect for having the guts to stand up to Aki.
"The part where the examination staff counted as participants?" she replied cheekily as she casually picked up her victim's exam paper. "After all," she purred as she took a threatening step toward the special jounin and his assistants. "You never said I couldn't attack the staff; forceful acquisition of intelligence is a mainstay of our profession, after all. I felt an object lesson might... liven things up."
To his credit, Ibiki didn't give an inch. "Take your seat and let me do my job, girl," Ibiki rumbled, glaring at her with a thunderous look.
"And if I don't?" she replied, giving a saccharine smile as she absently fingered her stolen test.
"Then I will fail you for disobeying the direction of the head examiner and your team can find someone else's exam to screw up six months from now," he growled menacingly.
For a moment, Aki's grin turned feral, her nostrils flaring angrily as a dangerous light danced in her eyes and Sasuke was sure she would kill the examiner where he stood.
All around the room the examinees, already on edge from Aki's little display, panicked as something burst through the window. Some of the braver ones assumed ready positions, once more reaching for weapons or beginning to cast various ninjutsu but most just dove for cover...
Then they all froze, caught somewhere between dumbfounded and incredulous as the thing that had crashed into the room burst into a plume of smoke, clearing a moment later to reveal a purple haired woman in a tan greatcoat.
"Alright shit for-" she started only to pause as she got a better look at the room. A moment later she cocked her head like a curious animal, eyes flickering around the room. Then, without warning, she rounded on the head examiner and started shouting. "What the actual fuck, Ibiki!? How are there still so many?"
"You are more than fifteen minutes early, Anko," he replied dully.
"Eh, not my fault you're so slow, old man," she replied with an unapologetic shrug. "I ran out of dango and got bored." Then Anko's brow quirked toward her hairline when she caught sight of Aki still standing at the front of the room, casually holding a blood-stained test form. "Red? They let you in on this party?" she asked, appearing genuinely surprised. Anko had always said that the kid was her kind of crazy… which usually meant that the brass didn't want them anywhere near anything even resembling public relations.
"Apparently," Aki replied, the corner of her lip twitching ever so slightly.
"Huh… Oh well, no skin off my nose. Makes my job easier actually since someone dropped the ball," she said as she threw an affronted look over her shoulder at Ibiki as if this was all somehow his fault. "That will come in so handy!"
"And, uh... what exactly is your job in this exam, ma'am?" one of the braver examinees asked, doing an admirable job of keeping their voice steady.
"I'm the proctor for the Second Exam and, since so many of you clever little gennin managed to make it through Ibiki's game, it's my job as the next proctor is to… cull the herd, shall we say? You know, make sure that only the truly entertaining brats make it to the public tournament," she explained with a grin that was completely inappropriate considering the kind of violence she was implying. "Normally I'd give most of you lot a bit less than fifty-fifty odds of completing the next stage because of the way its set up, but with little-miss-murder over there running around with you? You're going to be lucky to walk out of this test alive!" Anko cackled as she lead the way out of the exam room.
Training Ground 44...
"Alright kiddies," Anko called happily once the last of her victi-examinees caught up with her. "Welcome brats! To Training Ground 44, lovingly nicknamed "The Forest of Death" by those who have used it. This baby features more than 300 square kilometers of densely forested woodlands, over 200 species of poisonous plants, an unknown number of un-triggered traps and unexploded ordinances, and all manner of things that go bump in the night," Anko said in a cheerful voice… that did not bode well for the examinees. "Before we get started, each team will receive a scroll marked either "Earth" or "Heaven." You must deliver a copy of both to the tower in the center of the forest by any means available. Once we let you in, you sorry bastards will have the next 120 hours to run around in there trying to complete your objective while doing your level best not to die!" she finished with a positively evil.
"Ahem," a nearby chunnin coughed, meaningfully waving a stack of papers.
"Oh, right. But first!" Anko chirped, her eyes lighting up. "But before we get to all of that, you poor, dumb bastards need to sign your release form!"
"Release forms?" someone parroted.
"A legal waiver of all fault on my or my village's part if you so much as break a nail," Anko explained with a wolfish grin.
Several of the more legal minded gennin sagged in relief.
"Just the village?" Aki asked with a knowing smile.
Anko rolled her eyes. "Yes, just the village and staff by extension," she replied causing many of the surrounding gennin the surrounding gennin to slump in relief. "But, no worries, you had to sign the contract absolving other participants of any wrong doing in your likely death or dismemberment just to get past the front gates," she explained, shattering the brief moment of reprieve with absolute glee.
Aki gave a chilling smile in reply. "Excellent," she murmured, an unnatural timber in her voice that sent shivers down the spines of all who heard it.
"Make no mistake," Anko called, returning her attention to the gathered examinees. "Some of you will be maimed by the end of this round and at least one of you will die. If you can't handle that kind of risk, get your ass out of my exam because you aren't chuunin material."
"That's everything, right?" Anko asked, turning to one of her chunnin assistants.
"Excellent, sign your shit then get to a tent for a scroll and a gate assignment!" Anko barked before turning toward Aki. "Oh, and red?"
Aki cocked her head curiously. "Hmm?"
"Try to leave some of the entertaining ones in good enough shape for a decent tournament, yeah?" Anko requested, her smile never wavering. "You know, so that nobody who actually matters has a reason to bother me about annoying things like international incidents and loss of revenue. M'kay?"
Aki cocked her head, affecting a thoughtful expression. "Hm… I make no promises," she finally replied.
"This chick is our new idol," Inner Sakura declared matter-of-factly as they finished their paperwork and made their way toward the chunnin that was collecting the wavers.
Sakura frowned, despite herself. 'Why her and not that Morino guy? All she did was banter while he stared Aki in the eye and… well, said what he did. The last guy that did something like that ended up in the hospital.'
"Oh, don't get me wrong, he's still in the top five on our list of badasses," The inner persona replied. "Anyone who can stare Aki down knowing she's about to gut them like a fish deserves a gods damned statue. But, he's not "interrupt Aki" levels of badass."
"Really? You didn't notice? That was either the world's luckiest instance of a convenient lack of snacks and someone upstairs really loves that dude or Anko-sama just broke protocol to interrupt Aki getting her murder on to save that guy and she got away with it! She is also hot as sin and kind of terrifying. Either way, she's awesome and we should ask for lessons… and dieting tips, she has an awesome rack."
'…You think she's looking for an apprentice?'
"I doubt it, but maybe she'll give us some tips if we find the right bribe."
'Well, that's something at least,' Sakura decides.
"Yeah it's something! Oh, and did I mention that she has an awesome rack?" Inner Sakura added with a mischievous smirk. "Now that is something worth worshiping!"
The suffering groan Sakura released was enough to garner curious looks from everyone within hearing distance.
"Sir, that might be the bravest thing I've ever seen. I can't believe you stood up to her," one of the chunnin whispered as he and the others were cleaning up the various half-finished tests.
"There's nothing brave about doing your job," Ibiki replied as he picked up the last test in the front row.
"With all due respect sir? Fuck that noise. I was there when the beast attacked and I would rather face it again that deal with her," another—older—subordinate chipped in. "The worst that thing would have done is kill us all."
"Now if only we could get everyone else to understand that," Ibiki sighed, tiredly.
"They all figure it out eventually, one way or another," the older man replied.
Ibiki was about to say something more when he felt something brush against his foot. Glancing down, he found a small snake that he vaguely remembered Anko summoning on a mission regurgitating a small scroll.
"Hmm, what does Anko want now?" Ibiki wondered, retrieving the scroll as the small snake canceled its summons. It read:
You fucking owe me, old man! I had to completely scrap my awesome entrance to save your ass! I was making a banner and everything! If you ever pull that shit again I'm going to give her a few minutes to play before distracting her, you reckless moron!
Love, The Sexy and Magnificent Anko-sama
P.S. I expect you to bring me lunch a T44. Three orders of Haruhi's Deluxe Dango Samplers and a jug of her special sake ought to do it. Cheers!
Ibiki blinked, surprised. "Huh… didn't think she liked me that much," he mused, torching the note. He'd indulge her lunch order but maybe he should do something nice for her too. She liked tea, if memory served. Maybe he could get her a funny mug? Something like: "In case of emergency, pour on stupid!" No, on second thought, that was a horrible idea. Anko being Anko, she'd probably take something like that as a challenge. In the end, he'd have to deal with the paperwork and take the mug back. Perhaps a gift card? No, too thoughtless. Or he could get her an engraved set of dental implements? Maybe a monogrammed bag to go with them? Hmm… that had some potential. Something like "Head Bitch In Charge!" or "She who must not be named!" She'd appreciate something like that.
Omake: Deepest Regrets
It was a long-standing tradition among the Jounin that anyone who put their team in the exams got together while their brats where away. Usually, it was a good time. A little alcohol, a lot of good food, and even more embarrassing stories about their students usually made for a fun night.
This time around, there were only seven of them. Three of which had skived off for one reason or another while Asuma was off in a corner trying to get Kurenai drunk enough to get her into bed and Gai didn't drink for… "youthful" reasons.
Which left Kakashi alone to drown his sorrows at the bar.
"That stuff will kill you, you know," someone said as Kakashi took a long sip of whatever lighter fluid he was drinking that night.
Glancing over his shoulder, Kakashi nodded in greeting. "Iruka," he said, taking another sip.
"Senpai," Iruka replied, flagging down the barman. "Cherry Cider for me and another of whatever he's trying to drown himself with," he ordered.
Kakashi rolled his eye.
"So, how are things with… you know," Iruka prompted when the barman had left.
"She nearly spilled a kid's guts before the exam started, put one of the examiners in the hospital, and Anko might be court-martialed for breaking protocol when Ibiki pissed her off," Kakashi answered without preamble.
"Nobody died?" Iruka clarified.
Kakashi shook his head. "Pretty clean, all things considered." After all, one puddle of blood wasn't much in the grand scheme of things.
"Well, that's something at least."
It was sad that they measured the success of a paper test in corpses.
"And Sasuke? Sakura? How did they do?" Iruka asked as the barman passed him his drink.
"Passed with flying colors," Kakashi answered. "From what I'm told, Sakura never even looked up from her test."
Iruka blinked. "Well, shit. I knew she was good with tests, but at this rate you might have to knock some heads in the cryptography unit to keep ahold of her."
Kakashi waited for a second until Iruka went to take a drink. "I just told them that Aki would miss her," he explained, dark mischief dancing in his eye as he took another sip from his cup.
Iruka almost spits out his cider. "Dick move, Kakashi! Dick move," he coughed, slamming a fist against his chest.
Kakashi shrugged unapologetically. "Well, if it keeps the vultures away," he replied airily.
"I meant you trying to force a spit take, as you well know, jackass," Iruka replied without venom.
The night continued in this vein. Kakashi and Iruka drinking and sniping at each other between depressing talk about the sorry state of affairs in the village until…
"I made her a promise you know," Kakashi slurred, his cheek firmly planted in the palm of his hand. "I told her… said I'd keep her safe."
"Horse shit," Iruka replied. "Whether by action or inaction most of us had some part in what happened. But you? You were always looking in on her. She talked about you, you know? Inu, the big bad ninja to keep her out of trouble. You were her hero."
"It's still my fault," Kakashi mumbled, staring miserably into his drink.
"You can't blame yourself for how things turned out, Kakashi," Iruka argued. "You weren't even in the village when it happened."
"Not that… after," Kakashi corrected taking another pull of… was this water? When had Iruka switched his drink? Oh, wait, no it was just that his mouth was numb.
Iruka frowned. "What are you talking about? Your little hunting expedition? They still tell stories about what you did, you know."
"That's the problem," Kakashi sighed. "What I did. I killed them, she wasn't even awake yet. By the time she got out of the coma, the only things left of them were ashes and hearsay."
"And that's a bad thing… how, exactly?" Iruka asked, not quite understanding Kakashi's point. Wasn't a good thing that she'd never have to face or worry about her attackers ever again?
"Because it denied her closure."
Iruka blinked. "Come again?"
For a long moment, Kakashi said nothing. He just stared morosely down into his cup as he swirled the contents round and round. "She might know, up here," he said, tapping the side of his head, "that they're dead, but she can never… It was all so fresh when she woke up and they were just gone. Now, every time she rips some scumbag apart, it's them she's killing. Every time she shows her claws, it's always them. Over and over, because thanks to me the only three people she really wants to kill are just horrible memories that come for her in her sleep."
Happy Halloween everybody! I hope you are all having fun and making yourselves sick with all the candy you are eating. If not, go find a friend to mooch off of or find another way to have a great time!
Now then, onto other things. Some of you have probably noticed more humor in recent chapters. This is for two reasons. The first reason is to show some of the effect that Aki has had on Konoha and it's people. Most notably, the gallows humor, the desensitization to violence and their own safety; generally the warping of a person's worldview in a living situation that involves very real danger on a day to day basis. The second, is that it's easier for me to write. I discovered early on that writing Wrath was very difficult for me; more accurately dark writing in general. I can plan it for days, but actually writing it is hard for some reason.
RG: To answer your question, no one can spell because we are all doing this for free and can't afford editors while decent Beta readers are few and far between. And no, the word I was looking for was not aura but a synonym of the same pronunciation as "err" which I eventually gave up finding because I was tired and forgot to change it later; thank you for the reminder. Now, kindly have enough confidence in your opinion to post it under an account I can actually reply to or go the distance and shut the hell up.
READ THIS OR ELSE
So, I have had yet another person complain about the apparent AkixSasuke leanings of this story. This is the last time I will address this, but rest assured I will not ignore you. I will counter-troll you for your laziness; ignorance due to not reading this warning is not a defense. In any case, as I have mentioned several times now, Aki will NOT be in a relationship with Sasuke. Pay attention to this next bit, it's important.
It looks like AkixSasu because that's the point.
Because this story was conceived in direct opposition to a mess of fanfiction tropes that piss me the hell off. Bubbly blonde bimbo Naruko? I answer with dark, scary, Aki. Little to no realistic variation in plot? I riposte with killing major plot device characters before the story even starts. One-trick wonder star-crossed-lover romances where the kiddies find their one true love at the age of seven and go through life with barely a disagreement? While fluffy and good for the soul once in awhile, I counter with puppy love that leads to greek tragedy level drama. We fall in love, shit happens, we move on or don't and the world keeps spinning. So yes, it looks like there will be AkixSasuke because that is how I'm writing it to look. There will be a spark of something… like trying to light your smoke in a room full of black powder and gasoline fumes; it will not end well.
End pairing = NOT AkixSasu (he doesn't deserve her)