Naruto, Sakura and Ino all met up with each other soon after ditching their respective team members to have a short strategy discussion. With a known opponent and a way to narrow down the possible opponents they would be meeting along their tournament path they could emphasize aspects of their training that would allow them to exploit weaknesses in their probable opponents fighting styles.
It had been a fairly short meeting as they all had things to set up either for their training or to see to after spending a week away from home. They decided foremost that they wouldn't let the fights where they matched up against each other to affect their collaboration in preparing for the others. This was a simple rank advancement, not a fight to the death, there was no reason for them to get bent out of shape with each other over what appeared to be a friendly, no-holds-barred sparring tournament. After working out the best preparations for each of them they exchanged goodbyes and promised to meet up again for training soon.
Ino would be spying actively on all the contestants in between the times where she would be working with Iruka on her sword form and whichever jutsu he thought to teach her; possibly influenced by what she could find out about her fellow contestants. With enough information on who she would be fighting she could tailor her abilities to shut down or exploit the weaknesses of her opponents best skills. Unfortunately she would be facing Naruto right away which, beyond being distasteful just as fighting the guy she was having semi-regular sex with, meant that she was unlikely to win her first round. Still even if she did lose, and she wasn't going to go into the fight with that defeatist attitude, she could still make the information she'd gathered over the coming month available to Sakura and Naruto.
Sakura had finally lined up a taijutsu instructor in one of the combat qualified medic-nins who worked with her as an EMN. Although his style was mostly about avoidance (it being necessary to be mostly undamaged in order to put those who weren't back together) his primary mode of meting out damage to the enemy was to use chakra scalpels to target muscles, tendons, nerves, and organs. She thought that this type of targeting the myriad vital weaknesses of the body coupled with not getting hit would translate well as a style using a super-strength hit instead of a chakra scalpel to do the damage. She knew she would need to pick up some extra training somewhere else because there would be many more uses for her strength that wouldn't show to advantage in a style not designed for it; but at this point anything was better that the academy taught style. A couple scrolls describing some physical training exercises (and their practical applications) with some Goken power strikes also would be the stopgap measure she would use in order to deliver a truly colossal strike.
She would of course continue with her medical studies, but with so much of the exam focused on pure combat, the skills she was truly advanced in would not be showcased. She especially doubted that she would be able to fix the kind of damage her first opponent had shown himself capable of and if the killing intent she'd felt when he was fighting Quasimodo was any indication: he would not stop once he'd merely injured her. She needed to acquire enough skill in the coming month to reliably avoid the sand while getting close enough to put the hurt on the little psychotic redhead.
Naruto was nearly finished learning his last style from his ape-sensei and he was determined to have it finished by the time the finals rolled around. He wasn't a master and combat would only improve his grasp on the style but he had learned nearly all the base forms and it was time to summon his partner/weapon and learn to use Tokushu in battle. He was pretty sure that only Sarutobi and the ANBU who had investigated his summoning of Enma knew about his summoning contract. It would be entertaining to see Ino's reaction to him using a spear/scythe/staff/chain weapon.
He also felt that his jutsu needed some work. He had several now but except for the wind shield none of them were defensive. He didn't think that anything the other genin threw at him would be able to penetrate his iron skin technique but whatever Orochimaru had done to him had managed to mess with it so he wasn't counting out another fluke or lucky shot. Naruto had noticed that the hit had left five symbols around the Kyuubi's seal but they were smeared and fractured in form so he couldn't even copy them well enough to identify them later. It had only taken a couple hours before they had broken entirely, they were completely gone before they'd even made it into the tower, but while they'd been there they had wrecked his chakra control. He didn't know how he was going to get some new jutsu nor did he know who was going to teach him but that had never stopped him before.
-o0o- break -o0o-
Naruto's first stop was back to his apartment for a shower and a change of uniform. With that done he wandered over to the apartment next door to see what progress, if any, the medic ANBU had made with the female Sasuke clone.
It turned out that there had been a great deal of progress on that front. She had determined beyond her own doubt that the body was real and permanent. The circumstances of what had happened to the real Sasuke (Naruto didn't know much about that) had convinced her and the Hokage that Sasuke's current body disappearing was unlikely in the extreme.
It seemed to the experts that they now had two last loyal Uchihas. This would no doubt be of great interest to the council if they ever figured it out but soon after asking about the status of the new body Naruto had been told in no uncertain terms to keep his mouth shut about it.
Most of the medical terminology and the new theories that the ANBU had come up with to explain how this had happened went right over the blonde's head. After several minutes of staring at her blankly while she waxed on about chakra-based DNA mutations and energy to protein conversion, Naruto eventually asked her to save the explanations for when Sakura was around. The pinkette would know what the ANBU was attempting to say and Naruto was sure that she could then translate whatever that was to him.
As he was leaving that apartment to visit Tenten he ran into Sakura on her way to do the same. They both felt that they should show their support for her as a fellow Konoha ninja. They had both been scared by the brutality of her injury and seeing her recovering would do as much to help them as it would to show their support for her.
Lee and Neji were waiting outside of the room Tenten was occupying. They both looked pretty worse for wear and Naruto and Sakura imagined that they hadn't stopped for anything before coming straight here from the tower. It wasn't hard to see that any news they'd heard of Tenten's condition hadn't been promising.
"Yo, how are you guys holding up?" asked Naruto into the tense silence. Neji finally made eye contact with the other genin having not looked up when they'd down the hall. Lee did the opposite and broke eye contact to look intently at the tile floor between his feet.
"Not good Naruto-san," answered Lee when Neji didn't seem to be answering. "They have told us that Tenten will never be a ninja again! She will live, they say, and thanks to Sakura-san's help she will probably walk again but the blow has damaged her spine and pelvis. With such a dreadful wound even just the effort of getting back into shape as a ninja could aggravate the wound and make it worse." Lee seemed to take the news of his teammate never being a ninja again especially hard.
The oppressive silence descended on the hallway once more. It seemed that the genin had already run out of things to say. Sakura took the silence as permission to slip into the room that held Tenten. Her EMN qualifications would at least allow her to observe if not help in any way. Lee and Neji started up out of their seats when they saw Sakura open the door and slide in.
"Woah guys, we can't go in there. Sakura is a medic-nin in training with the qualifications to be there we'd just be in the way." Naruto said.
It took half an hour before Sakura came back out the door. Neji and Lee surged to their feet and moved to surround the pink haired girl.
"Calm down, they just finished surgery. She's stable and unconscious. They think she can heal up well enough to return to a civilian life without any problems. Unfortunately several of the lumbar vertebras were cracked all the way to the spinal cord. Any hard blow to her back or a high enough fall would be enough to re-break that and damage the end of her spinal cord, possibly losing the use of her legs. They won't let her be a ninja again. Even if she were to make a full recovery with physical therapy they wouldn't clear her for missions." Sakura lowered her head at this news. Less than two years into her career and it was over for Tenten. She couldn't bear to look at the poor girl's teammates, it was too close to what could have happened to any of them and it was only luck that saved them.
Lee and Neji looked like they had just taken the same hit as Tenten to their guts. Neji's hands clenched until his knuckles popped and turned pale white. Lee couldn't stay standing and collapsed into the chair he'd so recently vacated. Their team lived to be ninja; not the other way around. Not being able to be a ninja was something that they believed to be worse than death or torture if they contemplated it at all.
"I'm so sorry," Sakura said. It felt so inadequate to say so like it wasn't enough.
Depressed now Naruto and Sakura bid Team Gai farewell and repeated their offers of any help they could possibly provide to the elder genin. They couldn't speak until they were out of view of the hospital, quite a distance given the white building's size and position.
"We need to figure something out," offered Naruto. He continued when Sakura didn't respond. "I know it's not our fault or even our responsibility but imagine if that were one of us. We would want someone to figure something out for us."
"I agree in principle. I would love to help Tenten but I just don't see how." Sakura responded.
"What about healing her vertebras like you strengthened your bones?"
"It's not that simple. With my bones I was reconstructing healthy bones, just making them more of what they already were. With Tenten's bones I would need to rebuild broken parts which is an incredibly delicate process especially when a fragment might dig into the nerve trunk. Even with my bones I've had to do more work on them since: reinforcing parts that had already begun to wear and adjusting the thickness and strength in places. I wouldn't be able to constantly monitor Tenten to make sure that nothing was going wrong with the fixed parts, nor could I guarantee that the repaired bits would hold up to the punishment ninja put them through. The body automatically filters out foreign chakra over time and any repairs that I make would be saturated in chakra that her body would be trying to oust out of her. That's leaving aside the issue of not being able to override the decisions of the more senior medical corps." Sakura was breathing heavily at the end of her rant. It was obvious to Naruto that she desperately wanted to help Tenten but she couldn't think of a way to do so.
"We'll think of something," the blond comforted her, pulling the pink-haired girl to his side with an arm around her. "Come on that ANBU wants to talk to us about the extra Sasuke-chan that's hanging around next door to me."
Sakura giggled a little at Naruto's description. She was very eager to see what the ANBU medic-nin had managed to glean from the body, hopefully still living and undamaged.
-o0o- break -o0o-
They arrived at the apartment next to Naruto's at the same time as the Hokage.
"Ah, Naruto-kun, Sakura-chan, it's a good thing that you're here. I was going to send for you after hearing what our ANBU has to say about Sasuke-kun's extra body," the Sandaime said as he opened the door and gestured for the two genin to precede him.
The ANBU didn't even look up from the thick medical text she was studying against a scroll of writing. "Welcome Hokage-sama," she said as she formed a ram seal and released a technique. Naruto and Sakura watched in awe as the writing on the scroll she'd been studying slid across the paper and disappeared into a huge glowing seal that covered the floor around the gurney with the Sasuke-chan body on it. Sakura nearly rubbed her hands together at the thought of learning such complex seals that would be able to tell her the status of her patients or even possibly help her in keeping them alive. She was excited at the prospect of so much further to go in her discipline. Naruto was amazed that chakra-charged ink could do such incredible things. A few scribbles of ink should not know the difference between a human body and a rock but it was apparent that somehow it could identify the difference and even possibly tell a skilled ninja more about a human body than Naruto could.
"Are you ready to give a report Rabbit?" asked Sarutobi.
Rabbit nodded, "I am Hokage-sama. As you can see I've been testing the body as rigorously as I am capable of and I can say without any doubt that this is a fully functioning, real body. It matches perfectly what I have of Uchiha Sasuke's DNA with the obvious gender difference. I would not be able to tell this body apart from one that had been born to Uchiha Fugaku and Mikoto themselves."
The aged ninja leader nodded. "What does that mean as far as Sasuke's current body?"
"According to the reports of what happened in Training Ground 44 if his current body had been fake it would have dispersed by now. The assessment the Hospital did after Hatake-san put the Fūja Hōin on the Uchiha, showed that he was healthy as could be expected, more so actually, after a run in with Orochimaru. That they found nothing wrong with him after so close a check-up as would be necessitated suggests strongly that there is nothing wrong with that body. It's my opinion that whatever happened resulted in a perfect copy of Uchiha Sasuke in a female template." The assessment started out monotone but Naruto and Sakura noted that as the conversation went on the ANBU was starting to show more signs of life than the generally autonomous ANBU were credited with.
"A very interesting effect to be sure but I suspect you have found something else," was Sarutobi's leading comment.
"Yes," she trailed off a little, giving herself time to think about her response. "I have had to keep the body sedated." This perked up all three heads listening to the report. "It has become obvious that the body does not have a copy of Uchiha-san's personality. I had originally thought that the personality would surface given some time to adjust but this mind is totally instinctual. There are no higher level brain functions than you would expect in a small animal like a dog or cat. If you were hoping for another ready-made Uchiha genin, you are to be disappointed." This last was said with a rather wry sarcasm, as if the expectation were groundless and absurd.
"I admit that such a result might have worked in our favor," allowed the Hokage. "But, I suspect that the therapy necessary for a copy of Sasuke-kun's personality to accept that he was now female would have negated any advantages so far as to make a blank slate preferable."
Naruto chuckled at the idea of someone getting Sasuke to accept that he was now a girl and not only that but he was no longer the last loyal Uchiha, effectively having a twin. He didn't think that Sarutobi would have had one of the Yamanaka wipe the body's mind had that been the case but the blond admitted he would not have wanted that decision tossed on his lap for an all-you-can-eat, Ichiraku ramen lunch.
"What is the personality like now?" asked Sakura. "Is it like an animal in the sense that we could not even teach it to perform like a shinobi? Is it capable of learning or just keeping the body alive: eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.?"
The ANBU raised an eyebrow at this. No one could see it but they all knew that it happened behind the mask anyway. "I do not know for sure, I have not attempted to teach it anything. You have some idea of what we should do that relates to this?"
Sakura found herself the center of attention now. She blushed a little and seemed about to shrink into herself at such pointed attention. Naruto smiled at her and took her hand for reassurance and she took a breath before continuing.
"What about replacing the current personality? If the entity that is operating the body now isn't truly human and cannot become one we might be better off replacing it, at least in the interest of having a second Uchiha survivor in the village. Of course having an Uchiha is only good for the village if the village can use them in a manner that is unique to them so ideally we would switch it for a kunoichi personality."
"Tenten!" shouted Naruto. "You want to replace whatever is in there with Tenten. That was she can continue to be a ninja even though her body it broken up too badly for her to continue."
That caught the attention of both the ANBU and Sarutobi. The possibilities were very exciting. To be able to bring an experienced kunoichi, unable to continue due to injury, and put her in the body of an Uchiha would be exceptional on many levels.
Hiruzen was thinking how motivated she would be after having only narrowly escaped death. She would also not have any of the ingrained Uchiha superiority and he would not need to deal with that sort of bullshit should she ever rise to position of the head of the restored Uchiha clan. A deep irony that: the possibility of a non-Uchiha commanding the future of Uchihas within Konoha.
Rabbit was very interested in the medical possibilities. If a supply of bodies were to be found (and whatever the procedure entailed actually worked out) it might be possible for Konoha to reactivate ninja that had been forced to retire due to career-ending injuries. The wealth of experience regarding multiple battles placed into a new, strong body was a recipe for an incredibly powerful set of ninja.
After several moments of greatness flashing before their eyes, both Sarutobi and Rabbit allowed themselves to think about the possible side effects and potential problems of such a procedure. Sarutobi vividly recalled his traitor student with his twisted dreams of immortality and power. Sanctioning this might lead to a path similar to Orochimaru's horrible experiments if the procedure proved a success and were opened up to more ninja.
Rabbit's objections were much more practical: the foreign chakra that the body would attempt to reject might cause the replacement personality to be ejected at an inconvenient time; proximity to the body might affect the responsiveness of the switch; the availability of brain-dead bodies that weren't horrendously damaged getting that way to supply other ninja with new bodies; just to name several.
"I would be very wary of starting down that road Sakura-chan. First of all we have no way of knowing how successful an attempt like that would be. It may not be possible or it might turn out to be terribly impractical as a method for returning your friend to ninja duties. I admire your drive to help your friend but unless you have more than just good intentions I cannot condone the attempt." The old leader tried to be gentle in his negative but it seemed that his words just encouraged the two teens.
"What about the mind switching jutsu Ino used to put Sasuke's personality back into the male body?" asked Naruto.
"That wouldn't work," opined Rabbit. "With Uchiha-san they were both his body and he could inhabit either without issue; it was just a matter of transferring between them. With any Yamanaka they must fight the body's natural resistance to their chakra, the opposing personality (admittedly not applicable here), and there is a distance threshold where the farther away the target gets the harder it is to control. I've heard rumors that there is a slight delay between the spirit telling the body what to do and the body doing it and that it gets longer as the subject of the jutsu gets further away. At some point the Uchiha body would get far enough away from your friend, this Tenten, that the jutsu would collapse leaving the Uchiha body without guidance or drive and would leave Tenten back in her own body."
"It would still be worth looking at." Sakura stubbornly insisted. "We can't keep Sasuke-chan sedated, restrained and hidden. It's not practical nor useful in any way to us like this. From a results-only standpoint all this body can provide here is genetic material and a womb for new Uchiha babies that would immediately go up for adoption. That wouldn't get us very far though because without exercise and proper diet the body would break down very quickly and become too unhealthy to provide children." Sakura's face twisted in disgust at the idea of using a female body like some kind of baby machine.
"A good observation," continued Rabbit. "There is evidence that if the mother does not activate the Sharingan that the child will be less likely to receive or activate its own. Without an active Sharingan and with no additional source of Uchiha genes to breed her with we would have perhaps one in five of her offspring able to activate the Sharingan, optimistically. That too requires a full-time nurse or medic-nin to make sure the body stays healthy and the pregnancies go smoothly. Eventually someone would figure out the secret as well and it would open up a political can of worms we would never see the bottom of."
This silenced conversation for awhile as all the participants took the time to think of more options. It didn't even occur to either Rabbit or the Hokage that the two genin shouldn't have an equal say in what would happen. They had created this mess after all and that made it at least partially their responsibility to clean it up. That they were offering good suggestions only solidified their right to speak in the minds of their older compatriots. Eventually the Hokage spoke hesitantly, delivering his judgment.
"I do not have enough information to make a solid decision…" he paused, "I will let you continue to explore options in theory. However, you all must bring these possibilities to me before taking any steps to use them. Rabbit, you may continue to study the body in order to better understand the Uchiha. If something happens we may want some way to resurrect the clan via volunteers."
Rabbit nodded, knowing that the Hokage was giving her permission to take genetic samples, study the physiology of one of the notoriously cagy clan, and to preserve some of the female's eggs that they might fertilize them and implant them in willing civilian mothers should Sasuke and his new clone die before naturally reproducing. Naruto and Sakura looked like they found the implications unsettling but they said nothing.
"Sakura, you and Naruto may look into options for turning 'Sasuke-chan' into something more than a coma patient, but you will come to me and Rabbit-san before you do anything more than put the theory together for us to look at." The Sandaime finished this order such that he looked, sounded, and felt every inch the dictator of Konoha's military forces that a Hokage was supposed to be. Naruto and Sakura straightened to attention before responding in the affirmative and saluting him. Glad that they understood the severity of the order Sarutobi moved on to other subjects.
"I finally got a response from Tsunade regarding Sakura," he started. Naruto and Sakura relaxed from their rigid posture though they still paid very close attention. Rabbit's attention had been caught too. "It seems that your abilities have warranted a visit from her in order to see how you've replicated her technique and to ensure that you've done yourself no undue harm in the manner you replicated it in."
Naruto and Sakura smiled at that. Visions of training from a Sannin and her role model were dashed however.
"She still remains stubborn about permanently returning to her home. She lost two very important people and I'm ashamed to say that the losses broke her in a way that the Second Shinobi War did not. She still categorically refuses to return to her home and take up her position again. You will need to meet her at a small village outside of Konoha a week before the Chunin Exam finals. I will have more details for you when I am more sure of them myself." This said, Hiruzen turned to leave, addressing them one last time before disappearing in a Shunshin. "I'm not supposed to have favorites amongst the examinees but I look forward to your fights especially, good luck."
Naruto and Sakura's smiles were ear-to-ear. They would have to take extra effort to showcase something special for the old man who showed confidence in them.
"What exactly did you emulate of Tsunade's?" asked Rabbit, eyes examining the two genin as a scalpel might. Sakura looked at Naruto who just shrugged in response to the nonverbal question.
Sakura turned her attention back to the ANBU kunoichi before walking over and lifting the entire gurney using a single finger and some chakra to make it stick. Again the genin felt that if they could see her face the older kunoichi would have an eyebrow raised.
"I found a way to copy her strength, or at least I think I did. I might not look it, but I can put craters in bedrock with my punches and kicks," elaborated the pinkette. "It's not going to be much of a secret at the end of the month 'cause I'll probably use it in my fight but I would appreciate it if you would keep that to yourself until I can surprise that sand psycho."
Rabbit nodded and looked like she wanted to ask some questions about it but after a slight pause where she might have she just turned back to her research on her seal's anatomy results. Sakura turned to Naruto and shrugged before they both left to pursue their own avenues of interest.
-o0o- break -o0o-
The first order of business they decided after leaving the ANBU alone with Sasuke-chan was to find Kakashi and figure out what he had planned for their training. Naruto, perhaps uncharitably, thought that the masked man would not have anything lined up for them but Sakura thought that he would have set up something if only to save his reputation.
It turned out that Sakura was the more correct of the two. She didn't quite have it pegged because Kakashi didn't give two shits what most people thought of him. He actually arranged tutors for them because he honestly wanted them to succeed he just wanted them to succeed without his having to put effort into their preparations. He was lazy and a poor teacher, not malicious.
For Sakura he'd managed to convince a tokubetsu jonin named Yamashiro Aoba. Kakashi had assured Sakura that Aoba knew a great deal to teach her and would be able to get her ready for the finals in a month. It didn't take long to figure out that Aoba was mostly concerned with teaching Sakura enough techniques to get away from Gaara rather than to fight him. He'd outlined his plan to teach her Shunshin which Naruto had already taught her, a ninjutsu for distracting opponents allowing her to attack unimpeded, a technique for using her chakra to paralyze her opponent, and to work on her basics and fitness.
Naruto found himself in the company of Ebisu. A tokubetsu jonin whose claim to fame was as an elite tutor with a reputation for obsessively drilling his students in the basics. Naruto knew him from his training of Konohamaru, the Hokage's grandson, and from a little known list of ridiculous feats that the mission office liked to keep and add to. Ebisu's place was secured by being the only person since they started checking (the latter part of the Shodaime's reign) to have completed an A-rank mission using only kawarimi, bunshin, and henge. This constituted the highest ranked mission ever completed with naught but the academy three. Kakashi thought that because Naruto had been the dead-last he needed a refresher on his basics and who better to do that than the man who ran jonin-level missions using only those skills. Before Naruto had found that record he would have been insulted beyond words, he imagined he would have found some anyway, but after seeing that he was quite curious about the creative ways the man must have found for the most basic jutsu.
In the meantime, they learned, Kakashi would be personally training Sasuke. He would be taking him out to a remote training field and spending the entire month out there. Naruto seethed with jealousy that Sasuke would be learning so much. Sakura was more practical… after all, how good could the training be coming from someone with minimal people skills going to another with almost no people skills. There was bound to be some communication problems and she imagined that Sasuke would learn a great deal less than Naruto and Sakura despite the disparity between their respective teachers' reputations.
After setting a time to meet with their temporary senseis, Naruto and Sakura took their leave. Naruto went to look up ways to boost or support the connection between Tenten and Sasuke-chan. Sakura went to talk to Ino; she needed to get a better picture of what was actually happening during the mind switch. If she knew better how it was done she had no doubt that there would be a way to tweak it to be more permanent or work better for the situation. When the Yamanaka's designed the jutsu they wanted to return the minds to the original bodies, Sakura thought that by taking that option away they could come up with a much stronger connection between the minds.
-o0o- break -o0o-
It was fifteen days later that Naruto and Sakura made a breakthrough. Separately their options didn't really fit the bill. Sakura fiddled with the theory of the connection between minds and did find a couple ways to make it stronger but nothing permanent. Ino actually appreciated being let in on that part of the project as it significantly improved her understanding of her family's jutsu which in turn allowed her to learn more after displaying the requisite mastery of the ones she already could use. Sakura kept getting defeated by distance. She could force the jutsu, in theory, to completely meld with the target mind. She could modify the jutsu so that even third-party dispelling techniques were ineffective. She could not get the jutsu to work as designed from further than a hundred meters away. Indeed, the more she strengthened the jutsu's effects the shorter the tether became. Partial tests done by Ino with animals and her teammates (they volunteered) bore out Sakura's theories but also confirmed the additional weaknesses.
Naruto couldn't do anything with the switching jutsu itself. He did find some ways to condition the body to better accept the new spirit. Some very minor chakra seals he'd worked out with Rabbit would allow Tenten's chakra to suffuse the body and to fill the atrophied chakra network. The personality currently inhabiting the body was incapable of using chakra and so even without it being sedated it would have allowed the chakra to fall out of use. This would have the side effect of conditioning the body to accept Tenten's chakra making the transfer easier. As soon as they figured out a way to make the transfer and convince the Sandaime of their method they would start slapping seals filled with Tenten's chakra all over the body.
The solution eventually came to them when they were outlining their individual progress. It occurred to Naruto that their methods could be complementary. They needn't do it just one way or the other. Still they were stuck on the distance. Eventually Naruto jokingly suggested that Tenten strap her old body to her new body's back and go into the fights and missions like that.
That sparked Sakura's suggestion that they use a very difficult and esoteric medic-nin's seal that they used to store live, injured shinobi in scrolls. The seal was designed to work on a live body which was very different than a dead one or any other inanimate object. All seals manipulated spiritual energy as a component of the chakra fueling them when they worked; so the reason that one couldn't seal a live body into a regular storage scroll was that the spirit of the person being sealed interfered with the spiritual energy component of the chakra used by the medic-nin and manipulated by the seal. Eventually Tsunade had found a way around that limitation. By putting the physical body into stasis, partially separating the spirit from the body, sealing the physical body, and maintaining a tethered connection between the spirit and the seal where upon opening the spirit would reconnect to the body; a medic-nin could now seal a ninja on death's doorstep in the field and then save their life later when they had replenished their reserves of chakra and had a full hospital of equipment. With the body in stasis, it would not die when the spirit was partially disconnected; with the spirit remaining outside the pocket dimension the body went into, the energies wouldn't clash and cause the seal to fail.
This had the beneficial, to Naruto and Sakura, side-effect of keeping the sealed shinobi conscious of what was happening around the seal he or she was inside. This was rather disconcerting to most recipients of this technique and was often described as a prolonged out-of-body experience. A rather horrible feeling for a ninja to be aware and completely helpless at the same time. This helped Naruto and Sakura as they actually needed Tenten to remain conscious while her body was sealed in order to maintain control over the new body.
If they sealed Tenten's body into one of these seals and then had the spirit linked up to the Sasuke-chan body there was no way for the transfer jutsu to be interrupted besides unsealing the original body or killing the Sasuke-chan body. By keeping the scroll on hand the distance would never be an issue.
Naruto, excited by the prospect, then refined it further. Why not tattoo the seal for Tenten's original body directly on the Sasuke-chan body? There would never be an accident with a scroll that way and if placed in the right way, by the time someone was able to damage the seal the Sasuke-chan body would be fatally wounded which would minimize lucky shots that might not damage Sasuke-chan but totally destroy the scroll and thus Tenten. If the seal were designed well, they might even be able to use Tenten's body like a chakra battery like Naruto could use the Kyuubi in an emergency. Tenten wouldn't want to make a habit of it as accidentally killing her sealed body from chakra exhaustion would effectively kill her in her new body. Naruto was even optimistic that they might be able to tether the spirit directly from the seal into the new body avoiding possible problems with the modified Yamanaka jutsu.
Presenting their ideas to Rabbit and the Sandaime went rather well. It turned out that Rabbit had the necessary sealing knowledge to look into the modifications of the medical body-storage seal. As soon as Sarutobi gave the go-ahead for the seal modifications and the experiment, all three full-time conspirators got to work.
Sakura briefed Ino on what had happened and what her role would be in this. She would also be responsible for explaining the whole thing to Tenten after Rabbit would give the brunet the option to make the switch. While Rabbit was necessary to keep up the image of sanctioned, legitimate procedure, Sakura was better able to explain what would happen in terms that Tenten would understand.
Naruto worked out a dozen of the chakra preparation seals and he rotated them out. A half-dozen were collecting excess chakra from Tenten; the other half-dozen were forcing what they'd collected earlier to run through the Sasuke-chan body. Again this was explained as part of the preparation process to Tenten by Sakura. Naruto could have explained it sufficiently, given Tenten's lack of specific knowledge and the decision to leave out unnecessary details, but it would not have been received as well coming from someone Tenten knew to be an idiot with regards to bookwork.
Rabbit meanwhile, was very busy modifying the seal to work in the way they had come up with. She found that she could get the seal to pull chakra from Tenten's body in an emergency but she thought that connecting the spirit directly from the seal to the other body would cause the spirit to totally separate and Tenten would then die instantly as her spirit would be pulled from the mortal plane. Understandably concerned over that possibility it was unanimous between Rabbit, Sakura, and Naruto that they would bring in Ino to perform the switching jutsu.
With so many things that could possibly make the whole operation go wrong it was probably for the best that they left at least some parts as proven techniques.
Tenten was excited, nervous, apprehensive, giddy, scared, and a whole host of other conflicting emotions. She'd been selected for an experimental procedure. As it had been explained to her, she would switch out her spirit from her damaged body into an undamaged body that was brain-dead. The body was apparently in some way important, which was the reason that they would be doing the switch in the first place. She had been chosen because the body was of a similar age, was a kunoichi, and (if she were cynically honest to herself) she was somewhat more expendable than a less injured but better, more experienced kunoichi. She had some idea about the possible implications of such a transfer – putting old ninja into young bodies being the foremost – so in that sense she, as a very novice ninja, wasn't the best transfer choice unless they were worried about the procedure going wrong somehow.
Still, it was a chance to be a ninja again and she would gladly risk her life for that. She was amazed and somewhat humbled that a genin a year younger than her had explained the procedure and was by all appearances part of the operation. To be so young and already so highly thought of only increased her drive to become a better kunoichi as soon as she had a body that was 100% again.
In order to do the transfer they had spent the last several days siphoning chakra from her with paper seals and using them somehow to prepare the other body to receive her chakra. She'd heard from the pink-haired medic-nin that they were going to accustom the body to her chakra so that it didn't reject the transfer and she would be able to take control immediately. Some other preparations had been made she was sure and now it was the day of the switch.
In preparation for the switch she had been moved last night to another location inside Konoha. They'd allowed her to speak to her team beforehand and had recommended that she say anything she felt she needed to say to them then. It had seemed like a very harsh thing to say to someone you were attempting to cure but she remembered the explanation…
The ANBU and the pink-haired medic-nin, Sakura she thought her name was, entered her room shortly after the duty nurse had left with the remains of Tenten's breakfast. She looked up at the two kunoichi that had claimed to be able to give her dreams back to her. The brunette could see that today would be a very serious discussion, like the last discussion hadn't been, but she prepared to give her full attention to her would-be saviors.
"We will begin the operation tomorrow morning and as such we will move you to a different location tonight. The entire affair will be beyond top-secret so you will not be able to see your team after we move you and they will not be allowed to know where you are until the procedure has been deemed a success or failure," the ANBU began without any preemptive small talk. "If you have anything to say to your team, today would be the time to say it, you may not get another chance. I will be back at 7p with the rest of the team doing the operation to move you to the new location. If you have any questions or last concerns please address them to Sakura-san in my absence."
A slight sound and the ANBU appeared to blur and disappear as she left. Tenten was left speechless. That was possibly the most callous thing she'd ever heard from anyone before. Doctors were supposed to be optimistic weren't they? Did this mean they thought she would die? Medics were supposed to know that keeping the patient's spirits up improved their chances!
"She didn't mean to scare you," Sakura jumped in, seeing that Tenten was working herself into a panic. "She's been in ANBU a long time and she's forgotten how to interact with people who aren't ANBU." Tenten looked up to see a slight reassuring smile on the pinkette's face. "In ANBU there is a very high mortality rate due to the difficulty of the missions they get sent on. She doesn't want you to have regrets or to cause your teammates anguish if something does go wrong. She's probably known too many people who left an argument they were having with their comrades and went on a mission they didn't come back from."
Tenten thought over this notion while Sakura gave her a little time to absorb it before continuing: "But let's not talk about depressing stuff! I've already sent messages to your team and your sensei; I know they would want to hear about your operation from you. You can't tell them what exactly is going to happen but you can say that you're having an experimental operation and that you'll be out of contact for a bit. Gai-sensei might be briefed a little more on what's going on but that's up to Hokage-sama so you shouldn't say anything even to him."
"What about what she said?" the brunette asked. Sakura looked confused so Tenten elaborated. "Is there really a good chance that I'll die from this?"
"Oh," exclaimed Sakura, her eyes shooting wide open. "No, it's not as bad as she made it sound. She was referring to the tests we'll have to do after you get transferred over. We need to make sure it worked, of course, and to see if there are any limits or ways enemy ninja might exploit or disrupt the technique. We aren't going to just check that you're in command of the new body and send you off without checking to see if a simple genjutsu release technique will break the transfer!" she joked.
"But there is a chance that I might die." That sobered Sakura up quickly. She looked very serious before answering and Tenten got a shiver down her spine at the power the look conveyed.
"Yes, there is, but you knew that before you agreed to the procedure. I remember telling you yesterday the possible consequences of this. As far as we know, conservatively this has a 30% chance of working without any problems, a 50% chance of working with some unforeseen complications like being dispelled by an outside source or some such, a 10% chance of rejecting the transfer entirely with little or no harm to you, and, as I explained yesterday, a 10% chance that you could die from this." Sakura paused again to let this sink in before her smile crept back onto her face. "It's actually much better chances than some conventional surgery and I suspect that in most of the cases where there is an unforeseen problem we would be able to reverse the procedure with no harm to your current body. However… if you are having second thoughts about this you should speak up now because once you are moved tonight you won't get the chance to back out."
Tenten seemed to relax after that. "No I'm not having second thoughts it was just the way she said I should speak to my team like I was already dead that spooked me. I thought she meant that she didn't think the procedure was going to go well and that I wouldn't make it so I should tell my team goodbye."
"Ah, she does tend to be rather abrupt I suppose but you get used to it. You might not want to say goodbye outright but you should talk to your team and let them know you're going to be gone for awhile. This could take months if something doesn't seem right and while I'll be there to help you out it is Rabbit-sempai's decision as to when the testing is done and when you can see your team and explain. I'd certainly take this time to say things to the people I care for if I knew I was probably going to be away for weeks," suggested Sakura.
It was about this point that Lee and Gai had burst through the door in a synchronized flying kick screaming about youth, springtime, and burning fires.
Tenten had just finished recalling the rather emotional farewell and well-wishing that her team had given her when the door to the rather Spartan room she was in opened to show the ANBU who would be presiding over the operation.
"We will begin now," was all she had to say as a greeting. "You will need to be nude for the sealing work to be done. I will need to ink symbols on bare skin and it is best that we minimize the number of things that could interfere with the process. As my assistant, Sakura-san, keeps reminding me, not everyone is ANBU or former-ANBU and she thought you might like a warning that there will be several people helping with the procedure who will see you nude. They have offered to cover their faces with doctor's masks to make you more comfortable if that helps but they are necessary to the process and will need to remain as well as be unimpeded."
Tenten blushed and swallowed nervously. She didn't want someone looking at her nude. She was uncomfortable enough when the medic-nin had to remove clothing but to be in a room with several people who would all see her in the altogether, it was horrifying. She wasn't sure what the mask offer was about unless it was to make it more like they were all doctors if she were more comfortable with the professionalism represented by the pale green masks. The problem was that she was no more comfortable with doctors seeing her naked than anyone else. Still, it wasn't like she had another option.
"They don't need to wear any masks if they weren't already, but please thank them for attempting to make this more comfortable… and thank you for giving me the option," she responded at last. The ANBU nodded to her before she drew the covers back off the gurney Tenten was on.
"If you can, please remove the hospital gown," the masked kunoichi said as she turned and took an ink pot and brush from the table beside her.
Tenten struggled a little with the gown, her injuries still bothered her and she'd had strict orders to not move around much until the healing solidified and her own body took over. Rabbit turned back to the genin and waited a moment until the brunette managed to shed that paper-like barrier. She attempted to cover herself with her arms but managed to leave them lying at her sides when she was interrupted by a slight clearing of the throat.
It didn't take more than a minute to have the symbols drawn over her body. She thought she recognized the same seal for pulling chakra from her painted over where the chakras were supposed to lie in Hindu teachings. A much more complex seal linked them all together and spread across most of her stomach. Small seals, barely a handful of lines and swirls that seemed meaningless to her, coming from just a little knowledge of sealing scrolls as she did, were inked on her arms, legs, hands, feet, back, shoulders, and head. Rabbit put her brush and the ink down before she made several seals and began touching each seal over her chakras while holding the final handseal. At each place the older kunoichi touched, Tenten could feel a slight draw on her chakra like when she pushed chakra into her sealing scrolls to unseal a weapon. It wasn't much chakra at each seal but seven seals all working at once was more than she would put into a dozen bunshin.
This part done, the ANBU slid her arms under Tenten and lifted her from the gurney and carried her into the room she'd entered from.
Tenten looked around as she entered the room and noticed Sakura standing next to a nude kunoichi who was lying down in the middle of a large, inactive seal array. The body, she assumed the one she would soon inhabit, was about the same height as her with black hair that reached her shoulders, very pale skin, and a lithe almost skinny build that she imagined would be very fast but incredibly weak. She assumed that the build was due to the muscles atrophying from long term disuse but she didn't think it would take too long to rehabilitate.
She took her eyes from the body and the pink-haired genin that was preparing it to look at the rest of the room. There was a blonde kunoichi sitting in a chair between the two seal arrays on the floor idly running through handseals. Although Tenten didn't know who this was she recognized that this was the rookie Yamanaka she'd seen at that start of the Chunin Exams. She was shocked that the girl would be helping with this operation but she did recognize that transferring consciousnesses would be something a Yamanaka would be uniquely suited to. She did worry a little at how many genin seemed to be involved and it was only the presence of the ANBU carrying her and the professional way that Sakura had explained the procedure that kept her from getting worried.
The second array that was drawn on the floor was where the ANBU set her down. Again she produced a brush and more ink after turning around for a moment. Now the symbols that had looked mere scribbles along her body were being connected to the seal on the ground. As Rabbit was finishing up her sealing, Tenten took the time to finish her perusal of the room. There wasn't much around although she imagined that it had just been moved in preparation for the sealing. The room was basically white and had the air of being recently remodeled or renovated: the paint looked new, the floor still smelt of sawdust and chemicals from when they resurfaced it recently. There weren't any windows but there were three doors, one per wall with one wall blank. She didn't know where they led but she imagined that she would find out in the coming days.
She was so caught up in her observance of the room she nearly missed the second blond that had just entered the room. She recognized him as Naruto, Sakura's teammate, and she felt herself light up in a furious blush – there was a boy in here! It was bad enough that she had to bare herself to all these other women but to have a male in here with them was inexcusable. She nearly let him have a piece of her mind when she was interrupted before she could start.
"Are you ready for me yet?" he asked, directing his question to the still painting ANBU operative.
"Nearly so, take Ino's chair out of here while you're waiting. She can lie down on the floor if she thinks this is going to make her lose control of her body. I want as few unnecessary things in here as possible," replied Rabbit. Naruto chuckled at that even as he grabbed Ino's chair once she stood up, still doing handseals.
"I'm surprised you haven't made us all strip to the skin if you're so worried about it." Naruto laughed. The ANBU actually seemed to think about this for a moment before she spoke when Naruto returned.
"I would order that but I think that would be the cause for more distractions rather than less."
Naruto laughed again as Ino and Sakura giggled a little; Tenten was appalled.
Naruto was antsy. He wanted to be doing something but he knew that his presence wouldn't be appreciated by anyone just yet. Ino was concentrating on the jutsu she would be using as well as the modifications she would be making. Sakura was checking up on the Sasuke-chan body to make sure everything was fine before the transfer: checking chakra levels, general health, and other last minute checks. He had nothing to materially contribute to the sealing efforts that Rabbit couldn't handle much better so he really had no reason to be in the room until they needed him.
He was trying to make Tenten comfortable. He knew she would be nervous about the procedure and he didn't want to make that worse by hanging around doing nothing other than ogling her body and making her nervous about the dead-last being involved in a very complex medical operation.
All he really needed to do was function as a chakra battery, powering the arrays that would seal Tenten's body into a tattoo on the base of the Sasuke-chan body's head. It would probably be better for all involved if he stayed out of the room until they called for him.
That resolution didn't last long.
He opened the door quietly and looked around at the progress. He could see the moment that Tenten noticed him in the room and he felt a little bad about the embarrassment that was easy to read on her face.
He laughed and joked a little with Rabbit-sempai about everybody needing to take their clothes off, trying to make Tenten relax a little. He was very glad when they were ready to start, anything to stop this awkwardness of looking everywhere in the room except at Tenten.
"Naruto-san, you will begin to power the arrays as we've been over. Ino-san, when you see both arrays fully aglow you may begin your transference jutsu. Sakura-san, you will wait out of the way until the process is complete then you will need to check and recheck the status of the Uchiha body, while I confirm the success or failure of the sealing."
Tenten nearly sighed in relief when the ANBU kunoichi outlined again what the roles of every member would be. She only held it in by desperately not wanting Naruto to know how relieved she was at his not being a complex part of the technique. She really didn't want to insult one of the people who would have her life in their hands in just moments. As unjust as it was to insult someone whose very presence indicated that the elite kunoichi in charge trusted him, she still had the impression in her mind of the genin she used to go to class with wearing orange and failing at everything he did.
Everyone took their places. Naruto was at her feet and off to her left allowing him to touch both arrays while kneeling in a seiza position between them. Ino took an almost identical position across from him putting the female blonde next to her head almost, but not quite, within reaching distance of both bodies' foreheads. Sakura had retreated out of the way until she stood, back to the wall, on the opposite side of the extra body (an Uchiha body, she thought to herself) from where she was lying. Finally the ANBU took up a position kneeling behind Naruto and reaching out to touch both seals herself in order to stabilize them from any fluctuations that might come from Naruto's control.
"Alright Naruto, you may begin," said the ANBU quietly.
Suddenly the world exploded in chakra and the very air warped and pressed Tenten firmly to the floor. Panicking, her eyes darted around to the others in the room but for all the massive amount of chakra being thrown around it didn't seem to bother anyone but her. She desperately gasped for breath that she couldn't seem to get. She saw the total calm of Sakura standing by the wall, waiting patiently until the technique was completed. Ino only showed some slight beads of sweat on her brow to indicate that she even felt the same crushing presence Tenten felt swamped by.
The brunette noticed the blonde Yamanaka begin a chain of handseals as her vision tunneled in, the black consumed her and she knew no more.
-o0o- break -o0o-
Tenten's eyes cracked open and instantly were rewarded by a painful stab of light.
She groaned in pain. She hadn't felt this bad since the time her team had first found out that Lee was a natural drunken fist master, the beating and accompanying hangover the next day were possibly the worst things she'd ever felt.
This might actually top that.
She had a headache. Her body felt sluggish and weak. She felt disconnected from her limbs and all her body parts felt like there was something slightly off about them.
Then her memory of before she blacked out came rushing back full force.
She tried to scream and sit up but her body wouldn't respond to her commands right. She ended up jerking around like someone had just slapped her in the stomach.
"She's awake now, Rabbit-sempai," she heard someone say. She thought it might have been Sakura but she didn't know. She was still so confused. Hands pushed her back to lie on her back and stretched out. She felt the telltale tingling of medical chakra being run across her body; probably a diagnostic.
She finally forced her eyes open to see what was going on.
She was in a different room than the one they did the sealing in. She could see only two doors and one looked to be a closet door. She was lying on a real bed but she thought that it was medical sheets based on the feeling against her skin. She was no longer naked but they had put her back into a hospital-style gown that opened in the back and she could tell that they had neglected to tie the back closed.
She was being attended by Sakura and Rabbit-san though it had been Rabbit-san's medical jutsu that she had felt. When she saw there wasn't anyone else in the room and she couldn't feel the oppressing chakra that had weighed her down during the technique she finally relaxed and allowed the two kunoichi to poke, prod, and fuss over her.
Before she could even begin to ask questions about her status Sakura started explaining.
"Well, you'll no doubt be happy to hear that as far as we can tell the operation was a total success. We were a little worried when you first transferred over and freaked out a little but I imagine that the transition was very startling. We're sorry we didn't warn you about the chakra pressure, we were so caught up in doing our own parts that it entirely slipped our minds. Naruto has a massive amount of chakra but Ino and I are used to it and Rabbit-san has experienced it before so we didn't think there would be a problem…" as Sakura continued to apologize and explain the huge chakra presence as Naruto, Tenten was remembering flashes of memory.
Apparently she had woken up right after the transfer and reacted badly to the amount of chakra in the air by trying to run away and attacking everyone in her way at the time. She didn't remember it all but there were flashes of vision in her head: facing Sakura's astonished eyes, dodging around Ino as she tried to block the door, a muscled forearm suddenly in her vision and a brief sensation of surprise and pain. She imagined that was from when they had to resort to force to restrain her as Sakura was also explaining and apologizing for.
"…caught you and had to knock you out again. You've been out for two days since." Sakura finished. Tenten could only look at her blankly as Rabbit continued to use medical diagnostic jutsu to check her out.
Finally Tenten broke off the starring to look down at herself. She was shocked to find herself in a very different body. She knew that she was going to end up in one but it was very jarring to see such pale skin and delicate arms in place of her own familiar tanned, calloused, and muscular limbs. Her hands, almost against her better judgment, swept the sheet covering her aside so she could see herself better. Her legs were just as pale and petite as her arms. Her first thought, damn her sensei, was that it would take a lot of hard work to get back into shape, but her ninja mindset soon fell away to be replaced by the orphan girl who'd always thought herself a little too plain. She admired the color of her new skin, very classically beautiful and if she remembered correctly her face was the same regal beauty she might have expected in a daimyo's wife or daughters or even geisha.
Her hands rose to her face and she fluttered her fingertips across flawlessly smooth and soft skin before drawing a lock of hair into her view. It had been pulled back and braided by someone to keep it from disturbing her rest if she moved too much. The hair was jet black and seemed to drink the light in neither reflecting blue like a raven's wing nor showing brown highlights, just a single uniform glossy jet black.
She sighed and let her hands drop back into her lap as she attempted to get used to this. It was a lot to wrap her head around and she knew that there would be a great deal more that she would need to know and be shocked by before she was done. She settled in for a long talk and used her body language to indicate she was ready to listen.
-o0o- break -o0o-
Sarutobi Hiruzen was irritated. He liked to think that he was an even-tempered man but it seemed that his students had mastered the art of making him angry. He reflected that it should have been his first clue that Orochimaru was going bad when he had been much less irritating after Sarutobi had named Minato as his successor.
In this instance both of his still loyal, and he used that term very loosely in regards to the blonde, students were targets of his ire.
Jiraiya was in town somewhere peeking on women and totally ignoring any and all efforts Sarutobi was making about using him to prepare for what was coming. It was irresponsible, and more worrisome was the feeling that the aging Hokage was getting that he would need his most powerful student by his side for this. This was irritating but he'd already put and ANBU seduction specialist on the case. She might not be much help in preparing for the imminent conflict given her specialty but she was perfect as a messenger and a lure to his perverted student.
It was his other "loyal" student that was making him loose his cool. She was nowhere to be found and she'd not sent another message to let him know what her plans were. He was inches away from showing up to the meeting alone and taking her to task before he'd let her around his genin. In fact, he thought that was a grand idea and he created several shadow and mud clones to take his place in the office while he went to look for her.
She was nearly a week late. Sarutobi had caught the studied insult in it and he would tolerate her behavior no more.
-o0o- break -o0o-
Sakura, Naruto, and Ino were meeting for the last time before the exams started tomorrow. They were all going to arrive separately; Ino with her parents, Sakura would leave hers in the stands, and Naruto would be waiting in the arena before anyone except the security duty was there.
Ino had just finished handing out the last little bit of relevant information on their possible opponents. There had been a few last minute additions to the techniques they might be facing. They were all excited to finally show their stuff, unhidden and unvarnished. If they didn't make chunin rank it could only be by the most base disfavor or heinous bad circumstances.
Ino, as was her custom, gave Naruto a scorching kiss while nearly dry-humping him before abruptly breaking away and slinking off in the most sensuous manner she could. Naruto's eyes nearly glowed with restrained lust as he watched and struggled to calm his breathing.
Sakura slid into his embrace turning away from the retreating blonde to snuggle into Naruto's chest.
"It's been awhile since we've had some time to ourselves like this," started Naruto as he caressed Sakura's back slowly. She nodded into his chest and turned into him until she was fully embracing him.
"It has," she agreed. "Do you want me to stay tonight?"
Sakura could have nearly kicked herself. She didn't want to sound desperate. She was a kunoichi for goodness sake. She stopped her recriminations however when she heard Naruto's appreciative noises and felt his arms tighten around her.
"I would very much like that but I don't want to get you in trouble. I'd like you to stay every night but I know you can't." Naruto seemed wistful and Sakura felt her heart get tight as if it were trying to reach out to him and hold him. Sakura knew she cared deeply for this man who beneath the confidence and the power and the sex, wanted to be accepted and loved.
They moved back into Naruto's apartment where they had been conferring, somehow not letting the other out of their embrace. They made their way directly but without any haste to Naruto's bedroom. They didn't attack each other there, though they certainly might have. It was rather domestic in a way that ninja were very seldom involved in.
Almost like a long-time couple they undressed and got ready for bed. Sakura using the extra toothbrush and toothpaste she'd begun to keep here when she and Ino had started using Naruto's apartment as a place to meet up before and after personal training.
They got into bed and pulled the sheets up to cover themselves as Naruto spooned in behind Sakura. They just lay there for a moment enjoying each other's companionship. This was in some ways more enjoyable for them both than the wild sex they'd been having off and on over the month of training. To lay here and simply be there in the other's arms was peaceful and relaxing; refreshing in a way that a full night's rest and a shower were insufficient to provide them with. They'd come to love these moments of togetherness that they were able to have.
Naruto knew that if any of his male friends or any male near his age heard of him doing this he would never hear the end of the ribbing. Still, just holding Sakura was one of his favorite pastimes.
Much like two people of different genders cannot remain platonic friends once they get close enough, Naruto and Sakura could not lie together naked in a bed and just lie there for too long.
It started with some slight shifting. Sakura shifted her leg and scooted back to accommodate Naruto's reaction to her nudity. Naruto tensed and pressed his hips firmly against Sakura's ass in response to her shifting.
Suddenly Sakura found herself rolled forward on her front with Naruto following her over to press her down into the mattress. Her peaceful smile turned into a smirk and she pulled her legs up under her as she ground her bare ass back into Naruto.
She heard him growl and her smirk widened. She loved it when she could get him to lose control.
She felt his arms encircle her as his hands gravitated to her breasts. His right hand cupped her left breast and he began rolling her nipple between his index finger and thumb. His firm grip was enough to excite her without being painful and she shivered in lust.
The claws on his left hand gently scraped down her front leaving trails of goose bumps. He had the power to slice effortlessly through her skin but he was always careful with her. The thought of his care turned her on still further and she was already wet by the time his fingertips came dancing over the lips of her slit.
She shuddered as she felt Naruto's erection slide between her legs and along her cleft. She felt his weight settle over her harder as he ground down into her, so close to losing control but determined to make sure she was ready first.
Naruto inhaled deeply and his head spun from the heady scent of Sakura's arousal. The potent musk overlaid her natural scent of earth and life. The scent called to him to let go and just take her but he would never just fuck Sakura-chan. She'd become too important to him since the days when she actually started getting to know him.
His left hand finally reached its destination and he grinned as he felt the slickness that was already seeping from the slightly parted lips of her sex. He couldn't help himself and he ground into her again.
His fingers slid up and down the slit for a moment, spreading the slickness that was increasing by the second. Suddenly without the slightest warning he dipped his middle finger into her, hooking it as he drew it out slowly. The palm of his hand pressed firmly into her mound and he ground the heel of his palm into her clit.
"Gahh!" she squeaked. "Please, don't tease Naruto! I'm ready, just fuck me!"
Naruto pinched the nipple still captured in his right hand harder and twisted slightly. He'd tease her if he liked, but she was ready and his dick ached for his favorite home.
Sakura begged for it. She wasn't ashamed of that. She loved the sounds Naruto would make when she did. Such a pleased sounding grunt, it was almost a chuckling purr, which he would use when he realized that he was in charge.
She squealed again as he twisted her nipple and she felt a rush of more fluid in her pussy. Oh she was so ready for him.
With a sucking sound his fingers withdrew from where they were pistoning in and out of her sex.
"No," she let out a disappointed sigh and she arched her back whilst pressing backwards into him. She felt his hand leave her breast and press her down firmly into the pillows. His fingers slid into her hair and he tangled the strands up into his fist to get a good grip.
She felt something press against her dripping hole and she screamed in ecstasy when Naruto pulled back on her hair and slammed his whole length into her.
Naruto grunted as he set a fast pace. Sakura's scream had turned into a keening moan and she grunted every time he bottomed out inside her. The wet slapping noises his hips made every time they contacted her ass and thighs played a counterpoint harmony with the headboard knocking into the wall.
Sakura's pussy felt perfect around him. It fluttered and griped his tool as he slid in and out. She was so tight but the juices she secreted made it easy to pound into her at a furious rate.
He pulled her up by his grip on her hair into a kneeling position, slightly bent forward. He could see the sides of her breasts as they jumped up and down in time with his thrusts. He watched her hands scrabble for purchase on whatever was in reach but whenever they got close to something he would tug on her hair and pull her back to him.
His left hand that had been gripping her hip for purchase slid down once more to fondle her swollen pearl. Her keening moan turned into a wail and he felt her sex clamp down like a vice on him.
Sakura embraced her climax with abandon. Her hands flew to her breasts kneading them roughly to prolong the feeling. She could feel Naruto still thrusting deeper into her and her hyper sensitive body was caught in a spasm as his fingers brushed over her clit once again.
She felt him let go of her hair and she didn't resist falling face down into the pillows.
Naruto's calloused hands grabbed her left leg and lifted it over his while he straddled her right leg. She spun on her side and looked up at him as he began to thrust into her from this new position.
He was hitting different parts of her now and she could feel her tapering orgasm begin to build again.
Naruto gasped at the beautiful, wanton picture Sakura made. She was twisted around with her shoulders flat on the bed as he pumped into her. Her pink hair was sprawled all over the pillows underneath her head and her heaving breasts were magnificent. Her eyes were clouded with lust for him and his cock jerked and the pure desire he saw in them. Her arms were raised artfully over her head and braced against the headboard to push back into his thrusts.
She bit her lip as she moaned again and when her sex tightened as she orgasmed again. He could hold on no longer, spilling himself in jerking thrusts deep into her womb.
With a little repositioning Sakura rested on top of Naruto's chest. She idly drew patterns with her fingertip across his chest. She wiggled against him to make sure his dick was still inside her and she clenched her muscles to message him enough that he wouldn't go soft.
Naruto was slowly running his fingers through her hair and if she weren't careful she would soon be relaxed enough to fall asleep on top of him.
She smiled as Naruto captured her wrist and lifted it to his lips. He started kissing her wrist, moving on to her palm before he sucked her fingers one at a time into his mouth, gently laving them with his tongue.
She pushed herself upright and settled herself on him, straddling his hips with his cock deep inside of her. Slowly she started grinding down on him and rising up just a couple of inches and repeating it. The slow pace and minimal movement she knew would drive him wild with pent up desire.
She loved how he would let her do this with him; voluntarily let her have control by being on top of him and not trying to change the pace. She started rotating her hips around in small circles as she slowly pumped him with her pussy.
Naruto groaned as he felt Sakura begin to stir his dick around in her pussy. He fought to restrain himself from just grabbing her hips and pounding her up and down on him but he stopped himself from taking control. This was his way of telling her he trusted her beyond anyone else. She alone could see him with his guard down. He knew it was incredibly arousing for her to see him like this and she always had intense orgasms with barely any stimulation like this.
His hands, fed up with no action, drifted up Sakura's legs and began stroking them gently. They glided from her knees over the tops of her legs before running off the sides around until he ended to stroke fingers splayed on her ass. He felt Sakura shudder through a mini-orgasm and she began picking up her pace.
Naruto grunted and moaned as Sakura started going faster and faster until the staccato of slaps of their hips meeting grew loud enough and fast enough to cover their moans.
Naruto could already feel his orgasm coming up on him and he barely had time to warn Sakura.
"Sakura, I'm cuming," he gasped just loud enough to be heard.
"Do it," she responded. "Fill me up with your seed. Make me leak your cream all night."
He couldn't take it anymore, the hot, wet pressure along his dick along with the dirty talk from Sakura broke his control, and he shot his cum deep into her setting off her own orgasm.
Naruto grunted as Sakura collapse onto his chest once more and they kissed lingeringly before both their eyes slid shut and they drifted off.
AN: It has become very obvious to most of you who follow this story that as soon as I give you an approximate time to expect the next chapter that I have just lied to you. So, in the spirit of honesty I'm not going to tell you when I think the next chapter will be done. There is nothing written down though so make of that what you will.
I hope you enjoy the lemon at the end, I thought that I'd try something more emotionally involved than just fucking. I'll leave it to you the judges about whether I succeeded or not. As you have presumably just read you now know where I was going with a fem-Sasuke clone. I thought it would be interesting to do a riff on Orochimaru's body-switching jutsu. I figure that I'm cutting him off at the knees everywhere else I might as well have some genin accidentally steal some of his techniques.
Next chapter: chunin exam final round fights