Kurenai stood, silent, in the middle of the clearing. Her genin team had finished their D-ranks for the day, and had now gone off to train, either by themselves or with other teachers. She'd feel jealous, if she wasn't acting as such a teacher for another genin. A genin who was making surprising progress in genjutsu. She had a good mind for details when she managed to avoid being distracted, and her control was very impressive for her age. Honestly, were there about three or four years less age difference between them, she'd probably have ended up as a younger rival rather than a student.

Ah, and speaking of progress, Kurenai thought as a kunai poked into her back.

"You're dead, Kurenai-sensei," Sakura whispered from behind and all around her at once. Kurenai noted the attempt at aural displacement with approval. They hadn't even gone over that yet. Sakura must have worked out how to do so by going over the principles of image displacement and attempting to apply them to sound. She really was a very talented illusionist. Alas, like any young genius, there was still one crucial element she lacked.

"Oh, really?"

The scene dissolved, Sakura finding herself threatening a tree trunk, with Kurenai's blade held to her own throat from behind. A few tense seconds passed, Kurenai waiting to see how the girl would react to this new development. If she'd planned far enough ahead, then she might have layered another level of illusion as a contingency, but...

"Damn it," Sakura growled, "you win, Kurenai-sensei. Again."

She lacked experience.

"You know it's not about that, Sakura," the jounin chided as she removed her blade.

"Right," she nodded, already evaluating her own performance. "I didn't spot your illusion layering over mine."

"I should hope not. If a fresh genin could see through my illusions, I'd be out of a job," Kurenai joked. "Though I must admit, you've made considerable progress with sound-based genjutsu in a very short time."

"Not fast enough," was the sullen reply.

Kurenai sighed. Sakura had initially been pleased with her progress, only to apparently decide over the course of her last mission that it was not enough. Now, no amount of progress seemed to be enough. It was a good attitude in some ways, but potentially crippling in others. She could end up burning herself out if she tried holding herself to a relentless pace.

"Sakura, what exactly happened on that mission?"

Sakura tensed.

"I know your mission was mis-ranked, but what all happened to make you unhappy with your progress so far?"

"...I wasn't unhappy," she started, "I was actually really proud of myself. Thanks to what I learned from you, Kurenai-sensei, I was able to help. I- I knew I was new at this, that I hadn't faced combat yet, and I was worried what I'd do when it happened. But," a small smile crept up, "I was able to help. I kept the client safe, and I was even able to help a little later on. I realised, 'I can do this.' I can be a ninja. I really can!" The smile disappeared. "Then, later, and like just now, I realised: It's not enough. Haku, and that Zabuza,"

Kurenai blinked at the mention of Zabuza's name. Kakashi's team had gone up against that kind of monster? On their first mission? It was almost a miracle none of them were dead.

"They weren't something I could stop. Zabuza, you know, I only managed to tag him once, but he saw right through it. Just like that," she snapped her fingers. "Sensei. That kind of ninja, that power. Zabuza's not the only one like that out there, was he." Sakura looked up at her tutor. "He's not the only jounin in the world." It wasn't a question.

"No," Kurenai confirmed. "In fact, he was probably mid-tier, compared to the likes of the Sannin. I'm a new jounin myself, and I don't think I really compare to either." She didn't miss the shiver Sakura gave at that.

"It's not enough." Sakura repeated. "Those people, they're not going to just wait for me to get stronger. So I have to, now. As fast as possible. I don't-" she swallowed, "I almost lost Sasuke. Even if he didn't die, I couldn't do anything to help him after he was hurt. I don't want to feel that helpless again. If I can't help them after they're hurt, I just won't let it happen. I need to be better at this."

Kurenai digested that for a moment.


"Sasuke, Naruto and Kakashi-sensei, too. They're all so reckless." She scoffed, for a moment seeming the 12-year-old she was supposed to be. "Is it just a guy thing, to charge ahead regardless of the danger or how hurt you are?" she asked sardonically.

Her teacher just grinned in response.

She sighed, "Yeah, that's what I thought."

"To be fair, I know one or two kunoichi who do the same." Kurenai rested a hand on Sakura's shoulder. "One more go before we call it a day?"

Sakura smiled.

While he probably should have, he couldn't go to Kakashi for this. Wouldn't go to him for this. Pride was a ninja's enemy, as Naruto had helped him understand, but he couldn't help it in this case. This wasn't something anyone else could help him with, nor would he let them. Itachi might have received help or training in this regard, but since everyone who could tell him so was now either dead or untrustworthy, it didn't really matter.

Learning to activate the Sharingan at will... this was something he could only do himself. Kakashi was not an Uchiha, and from what he could tell, had next to no control in terms of switching his implanted eye on and off. Perhaps later, when he needed the benefit of advice from experience in using these eyes in battle, he would approach Kakashi, but first he needed to figure this out for himself.

So it was that he had secluded himself in a small area of the Uchiha compound.

It had seemed fitting when he started. That it was considered out-of-bounds to the rest of the village also meant there was less chance he'd be interrupted. This was too important for that. Besides, there was also that stone Itachi had told him about. Sasuke had every intention of reading whatever secret it held the moment he had his Sharingan under control.

If he ever did, anyway. He grit his teeth in frustration. He'd been at it for most of the day already, trying to brute force chakra to his eyes in an attempt to activate them. All he'd accomplished was making them ache from overpressure, so he stopped that before something unfortunate happened. Then he'd tried modulating the flow, or sending chakra while using a katon technique, or reversing the flow, or...

He sighed, slumping back against the wall of the room he was using.

Still, if it was as easy as just forcing the chakra, every Uchiha would have been able to use them. True, everyone in military service could, but there were also those who lived as civilians and had only ever touched a kunai to sell it. He thought of the old couple he called Uncle and Auntie lying dead on the street in each other's arms, their blood pooling-

Sasuke shook his head. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to come back here. But it needed to be here, he felt. Unlocking the Uchiha legacy in the Uchiha district... That was right, right? He rubbed his eyes with one hand. He was more tired than he thought, if he was dwelling on such things instead of training. Maybe he should head back. Sleep sounded like an awesome idea right now, especially with his efforts causing a burning ache behind his-

Wait. Burning.

That time. His eyes. They burned.

...Fire is an Uchiha's blood...

But he'd already tried-

He hadn't tried that.

Well. No. He didn't particularly want his eyes to combust.

Fire is an Uchiha's blood.

Could it really be that simple? Just... send fire-element chakra to his eyes?

So he tried it. Sasuke closed his eyes, concentrating. He'd never tried using katon internally before, focusing his efforts on learning his clan's extensive library of katon ninjutsu. He'd not considered ever trying to convert his internal chakra to fire-element. After a few minutes, he felt confident he had it ready, and opened his eyes.

It was immediately noticeable.

The room was still the room, but it was also more, suddenly. Now that he had the time to really examine how his new eyes worked, instead of that desperate battle before, it was... intoxicating. Everywhere his gaze fell, he was aware in a way he'd never been before. Everything he could see, he could truly see, as though...

No. It was incomparable. If he had to say anything, then it was like seeing color for the first time when you'd been born colorblind, but even that analogy didn't come close. Every grain in the wood, every mote of dust in the air, even those ants in the far corner that he hadn't noticed earlier. He was not focusing on them overmuch. He could discern each leg of each and every ant at the same time he could see even the most minute imperfections in the wood grain, the path each mote of dust traced through the air. It was not a constant shift of focus. It was everything,simultaneous, in each instant. Every detail, every movement, he was aware of.

Then a fly came in through an open window, and his newfound awareness now encompassed it along with everything else in the room. It was surreal. It wasn't like the world had slowed down in that space that he was now impossibly aware of. It wasn't that he suddenly had a superhuman disregard for time, processing everything so much faster. He was just... aware.

Yet, that made all the difference. The fly's beating wings were not moving more slowly, from his perspective, but he could still track their movement. Not as an indistinct blur, but each rapid movement, up and down. At the same time he was still focused on the dust that was dancing in the air. The ants crawling around the wooden floor. The world had not slowed down, nor was he processing it more quickly, but he could still see everything before him. It was not something that could be related or described to anyone that had not experienced it themselves.

With this kind of ability, was it really any wonder his clan had believed themselves above everyone else?

Sasuke grinned. His eyes burned.

Fire is an Uchiha's blood.

Naruto sat up from the training area's field and cracked his neck, calling out as he did so. "Hey, guys! Mission over, and I'm back!"

"Yeah, we kinda figured." Shikamaru shook his head. "You know everyone's talking about that kunoichi you brought back with you, right?"

Naruto sighed, "And once again, the only thing faster than the Yellow Flash is gossip..."

"There are a number of rumors going around," Hinata offered, primly settling herself next to Naruto's undignified sprawl. "I think the most amusing are that she's either your or Sasuke's girlfriend after saving each other's lives." Naruto couldn't completely smother a snicker at that.

"I heard that she's a distant relative of the Uchiha, descended from an estranged branch of old." Chouji mentioned between bites of chips. The amused look on his face showed what he thought of that.

Naruto considered it as he laughed harder. Black hair, black eyes... It was tenuous, but he supposed Haku could pass for an Uchiha, and he'd heard rumors with worse bases in fact. At least she actually did have a bloodline limit.

"So, you brought back a new friend, which people had better get used to from you, but..." The lazy genius looked him in the eye. "I thought we weren't trying to make waves just yet?"

"I think there isn't any point to that anymore," Naruto rebutted. "Our foreknowledge is... well, not worthless, really, but... You've seen it, right? People aren't behaving the same way they were last time, and that's mostly down to us. We still know the broad strokes, but the details are definitely gone." The group was silent after that.

"...Yeah," Shikamaru finally said, "I have to admit I've been seeing some of that myself. My parents, they're not acting the same way they did last time around me, and neither are Ino or Chouji. At this rate it's... possible that I might have already avoided Asuma's death."

Hinata frowned. "My teachers and teammates are acting differently as well. While you were gone, my jyuuken tutor revealed that my father is suspicious of me." She sighed at that. She hadn't anticipated that she'd be revealed this early, though it was still possible that her father would keep it quiet for his own reasons.

"That's fine, isn't it?" Chouji asked. "You've still got the broad strokes, like you said, and that's more than anyone else has. I mean," he frowned, but bulled forward, "I don't even know the whole of what's coming. I know it's bad, and I know it's something to do with this... Akatsuki? Yeah, them. That's fine, though, because you guys know, and that means we can stop them."

There was another silent pause afterwards, his friends looking at him in stunned acknowledgement. Eventually, though, the silence got to be too much.

"What?" He protested.

Naruto chuckled ruefully and flopped onto his back. "Of course the time I start overthinking is when it's something like this, ttebayo..." he muttered to his friends' amusement.

"So," he spoke up from the ground, "I take that to mean there's no objection to use making some more changes, then?" He got general sounds of assent from the assembled youths. "Great," he sat up, "then is there anything else I should know about? I think we've still got some time before Gaara shows up."

"Well, things are going well enough, like I said." Shikamaru offered. "I think I managed to light a fire under Ino, and Chouji, well..." He looked over to his best friend, who smirked and enlarged his hand to give them a big thumbs up. Shikamaru chuckled and turned back to his fellow time-travelers. "Like he says."

Hinata muffled her giggle at that, before schooling herself into a more serious countenance. "I had thought I was able to stay under the radar, but I was clearly mistaken. My tutor noticed my improved performance and informed by father. She tested me on his instruction." Her face fell. "I can only hope I was able to convince her of my intentions, but either way... I don't think my plan for Neji will work anymore." Naruto had to stop himself from leaning over and comforting her. Then he shrugged and did it anyway, wrapping his arm over her shoulders. To hell with expectations.

"I can't say I'm too upset about that," He told her. She smiled and leaned into his side, unable to keep a soft smile off her face.

"The Chuunin Exams are coming up." She mentioned. "The clan is usually in a furore about the security of the compound and such, what with so many foreign ninja coming to visit the village. Though, somehow, the clan's usual murmurs about the upcoming exams have been eclipsed by the rumors about a foreign Bloodline user being offered shelter." She shot Naruto a teasing giggle as he groaned once again at Haku being made the centre of attention. "There isn't much people can freely talk about in a military village, dear."

"It's what Ino's currently focusing on in terms of gossip as well, though she's smart enough to ignore the more unreliable sources." Shikamaru ignored Naruto's disgruntled muttering over the speed of gossip. "How did you manage that, anyway? Keeping Haku alive and bringing her here?"

Naruto shrugged. "Just treated her like a person." Shikamaru rolled his eyes. Naruto was just sincere enough that that would have worked. "But, you know," the blond continued, "Seeing her abilities in action again, it got me thinking; Hyouton and other Bloodline Limits are just combining two chakra elements to get a new one." He began gesticulating excitedly, his eyes taking on that same spark they got whenever he began talking about fuuinjutsu. "It's got to be possible to replicate the effect somehow using a sealing arr-"

Hinata sighed, "Oh, no," directing a look of marital disapproval at Naruto.

"No, sweetie, don't be like that. I'll be careful this time!" He protested.

"Isn't that what you said the last time?" Shikamaru asked him offhand.

Naruto's brow furrowed. "Uh... which last time are we talking about?" That got him Shikamaru's full attention, along with an incredulous look.

"There's more than one?"

Hinata made a sound of consideration, "I think so... Perhaps he means the time when he blew up an entire training ground-"

"That gave me good results!" Naruto interrupted. "It wasn't the expected result, but it did have interesting implications about how explosive tag arrays function! Anyway, how was I supposed to know that a scaled-up array would be inherently unstable?"

Hinata gave him a decidedly unimpressed look and continued. "There was also the time he tried to make a bowl of infinite ramen. He almost suffocated under a mountain of noodles, and it was days before the noodle growth slowed down enough that we could clear them away."

"That's the only 'last time' I knew about." Shikamaru confirmed.

"I learned a very valuable lesson from that incident," Naruto argued sagely. "And that is to always include a limiter on anything that includes an exponential function. Also, to not charge my test arrays with that much chakra. Two lessons. See?" He smiled, "Learning."

"And the time you accidentally turned yourself into a woman for a month?" She asked him.

"Wait, that was because of a seal gone bad?"

"...I'm underage right now, so I can't make seals when drunk, forget what they do later and fire them up to see what happens?" Naruto offered lamely. "Anyway, I thought you never wanted to bring that up again?"

Hinata's look of disapproval took on a minor glare, because that was not the point.

"I'll be careful! I mean it!"

His once and future wife's slight glare did not abate.

"It's not like I'm expecting it to wor- uh, do anything straight away... It'll be little stuff. Proofs of concept."

Hinata had not yet become a mother in that future they left behind. Her current disapproving glare proved that she would have been up to it.

"...I'll wait until Jiraiya shows up and run everything past him before testing?"

Hinata considered that. Jiraiya, from what little she knew of him, was less unorthodox than Naruto was, and possibly also less... enthusiastic about trying new sealing arrays. However, she also knew that her husband's own enthusiasm could be infectious. For all she knew, Jiraiya would get swept up in the same reckless curiosity.

However, she also knew from experience that when Naruto got carried away, it was often safer for everyone - involved or otherwise - for someone else to be present to rein in his more... unorthodox experiments. She was eternally grateful to her cousin-in-law for becoming Naruto's apprentice in sealing arts. She'd kept him from doing something potentially lethally reckless several times since. Perhaps with someone who actually knew what he was doing, like Jiraiya, it would be even safer?

Oh dear, he was beginning to quail under her disapproval. She sighed.

"You promise not to test anything by yourself?" she asked him.

"I promise!" he confirmed.

"All right, then," she smiled at his sincerity. Then squeaked when he risked a peck on her cheek.

"Love you," he told her, grinning.

"Love you too," she returned, fighting the light blush. It wasn't that she was embarrassed, it was just sudden, is all!

Naruto stiffened, and Hinata recognised the cause. He swept a serious look across them all. "Gaara just walked in the front gate."

Gaara stood just inside the main gate to Konoha, looking up at the mountain face behind the village proper while Baki dealt with their entry paperwork. He didn't envy him.

"Damn." He turned as Temari spoke up behind him, "I don't think I'm going to get used to that anytime soon."

He followed her gaze back to the Hokage Monument in silent agreement. It was odd, seeing only four faces up there instead of the six he was supposed to be used to. He hid his grimace, shaking his head. Two years. Two years and he still hadn't assimilated properly. At least Shukaku was less brazen than he would have remembered. The errant thoughts, though... they never went away.

"Well, so long as it isn't anytime soon," Kankuro offered, "There'll be a fifth face up there once the Third retires, after all."

Temari made a non-committal sound.

"Still, the Chuunin Exams..." He mused, "I can't help wonder what those'll be like."

Temari made a non-committal sound.

Kankuro grumbled in response, and Temari allowed herself to grin at his attempt at fishing for info. Gaara couldn't help but smile faintly at his siblings. Ah, Baki was done.

"All right, you three, apparently they've already set up room and board for visiting teams." He handed them the address. "I still have to go and settle a few other matters, unfortunately. Politics," he muttered disgustedly. "You can play tourist while I'm doing that if you want. Just don't do anything stupid," he finished with a glare. "We'll meet at our accommodations." Then he was off, following between two Konoha-nin to wherever they needed to be.

"So we're playing tourist, huh?" Kankuro mused. "Should be fun. I guess."

"I hear they actually have enough water here for public baths," Temari announced as she strode forward, "Public baths! Can you imagine! I wonder where those are?"

Kankuro glanced at Gaara and sighed as his little brother followed after their sister without a word. Hitching Karasu up, he likewise followed along behind.

"Oh! Foreigners, is it? How rare!" They didn't get far down the main road before they stopped at the sound of that voice. While teasing, it was kindly rather than mean, coming from a stooped old woman with a beaming face, watching the foot traffic from a bench. "Such exotic attire, as well... one last novelty for these old bones, hihi! Ah, that Hokage of ours is right to preach peace as he does."

"Ma'am." Gaara inclined his head and his siblings quickly followed suit.

"Such manners for young'uns, too," she praised. "Hm, such polite young'uns ought not be caught out by the tourists' rates." Suddenly there was a look on her face that was almost familiar to Gaara, "Perhaps I should let you in on a secret, hm?"

"Uh... We'd appreciate that, ma'am, but-" Kankuro began, only to be talked over.

"Still so polite! You call me Baachan, young man, you hear me?" Kankuro started, looking to Temari and Gaara for support. Temari was watching him with an indulgent grin, while Gaara was as impassive as ev-

No, wait, that was a twitch on the side of his mouth, just there. Bastards.

"Of course... Baachan." He tried to smile. Hopefully it didn't look as awkward as it felt.

"Good lad," She beamed. "Now, there's a ramen stand down a certain side street. Best ramen in the country, you ask me, and the price is even affordable! Not like that trash you'll find being hawked to tourists. It's called..."

Ichiraku's was... not all that different from how he thought he remembered it to be. It was a modest, open-air, street-side ramen stop. The smell was decidedly nostalgic.

He blinked. Yes. It was nostalgic. As were the backs he could see occupying half of the stall's six stools. The orange one especially.

He led his siblings over, but because of how the three people already there were sitting, one of them had to sit apart from- ah, Temari had already decided to do that. Given who she was now sitting next to, that was not especially surprising. He sat himself down next to the orange jumpsuit, with Kankuro sat next to him on the far left.

"Welcome, customers!" The old man who ran the stall announced. "What can I get for you?"

Several copies of the menu were plastered all over, so it wasn't difficult to get an idea of what could be asked for.

"Beef, thanks," Kankuro asked.

"Vegetable for me," was Temari's request.

"Salt broth with chicken, please," Gaara finished. He looked to his right side neightbour once their orders had been taken, noting that the blond was already on his second bowl. "You have quite the appetite," he observed, and his neighbour just chuckled.

"Nah, only when it comes to ramen. Food of the gods, you know." He thumbed at his own right-side neighbour. "Now, Chouji, here, he can pack it away no matter what it is. I don't think he even has a food he hates."

The husky boy paused at that, looking up with a bewildered expression. "There are people who don't like food?" he asked innocently. He got only a snort in response, before smiling sheepishly at his own joke and turning back to his meal. The last of their group, black hair tied up into a brush, didn't respond, instead focusing on his own ramen and trying to ignore Temari's stare boring into the side of his head. Gaara arched a brow. That... was a decidedly predatory look on his sister's face.

How odd.

"Your ramen, sirs and lady!" The old man was back, placing their bowls before their respective requesters. Gaara relished the smell for a moment. It felt easier to be himself here. He didn't know why and, for the moment, he didn't particularly care. He was among friends and family, and about to eat a very good meal.

He looked over to his best friend with a contented smile. There were important matters to discuss, but there would be time for that after eating.

"So, Naruto."

The blond looked up.

"Is Kankuro still allowed to call you 'Baachan'?"

His brother choked on his first mouthful of beef as Naruto and Temari both started laughing. Gaara broke his chopsticks with a wide grin.

Yes. Business could wait for now.

Author's Corner

So, uh... It's late. It's very late. I hit some writer's block and went away for a while, and... I may have forgotten this existed for a little while. Mad props to my beta (and her little brother) for reminding me!


Buuuuut I'm back now! With a new finished chapter! Let's talk about that instead shall we yes let's!

Yes, the Sharingan is trippy. You thought it wouldn't be?

and it's official. Butterflies be coming from this point on. Intentionally, even!

As for Naruto's experiments, usually when a character messes with things like that it's left as a Noodle Incident. So I figured I'd make one a literal Noodle Incident. :P

Hopefully I got the NaruHina vibe done right.

Ramen time! Regarding their choices - I looked up their favorite foods and extrapolated from there what they'd order.

Kankuro's is given as hamburger steak - so he orders beef topping for his ramen.

Temari's is kenchin soup (which I had to look up), a kind of soup made with tofu and vegetables, so she gets the veggie option.

Gaara... likes salted tongue and gizzard. Since a gizzard is only found in birds (and worms, crocodilians, and some fish and crustaceans,) he asks for the salty broth with added chicken.

Since I know next to nothing about ramen, hopefully these are actually choices that a small ramen stand like Icihraku's would be able to provide!

And, of course, have an Omake. Heck, have two, I've been gone long enough! I spoil you people, really I do. :P

Omake: With all its Glory, and all its Horror. (Non-Canon, Konoha-That-Was)

"AGH." Naruto flopped down next to Gaara at Ichiraku's. It had been hell to get here on time, but damn it, he was not missing a chance to talk to his friend just because of work. He was only going to be in Konoha for two days, while paperwork was hatefully eternal! Despite that, it was still preferable to the reason he was late.

"Problems, Naruto?" the Kazekage asked him calmly.

"Worse," Naruto muttered darkly. "Fangirls." He ordered the Miso Pork Deluxe. Twice. "Now I get why Sasuke was so damn emo all the time. Hearing hordes of creepy stalkers constantly screaming that they love you all the damn time... I'm not interested, damn it! I'm married, take a hint!"

"It is not all that surprising," Gaara offered bemusedly, "In fact, had either of us been born female, I have little doubt I would have fallen in love with you myself." Ayame's grip suddenly slipped on the noodles she was cooking, but she caught the handle before any damage could be done.

Naruto slowly turned to stare at Gaara, incredulous.

"What?" Gaara asked.

"...Gaara, you do know that you have fangirls, too, right?" Naruto asked in the tone of one explaining that, yes, the sky is blue.

"Yes. What-"

"And you do know that parts of those two groups... overlap, right?"

Gaara frowned in confusion, "Yes, but-"

"Because it's just, when you say things like that, you give them ideas." With that, he pointed to the street outside. Dozens of young women were gazing at them, starry-eyed with adoration and, Gaara noted alarmingly, naked lust. They were all babbling incoherently amongst themselves, and while he usually tuned it out, this time he did catch a few words and phrases. The most disturbing of which were 'Yaoi', 'Shounen-Ai' and something called 'Bee-El'.

He turned back to Naruto's look of annoyance, and said the only thing he could.

"My apologies."

Author's Corner

This was and is never going to happen in-story, but my beta found it funny when I pitched it over skype, so, uh, here you go.

Omake: Below the Sky, Beyond the Stars (Non-Canon, Konoha-That-Is)

Sasuke smirked as he-

He frowned and attempted to school his features into a less arrogant expression.

Sasuke did not smirk as he watched Naruto and Sakura occupy themselves, waiting for Kakashi to show up.

Late, of course. Why would anyone think otherwise? He smirked to himself - Damn it. - and it quickly fell back into a neutral frown.

Sasuke found he had been smirking a lot more often. It bit at him that he didn't have a better poker face when it actually counted, because how he could be expected to hold information to himself if he couldn't get this smirk off his face? Even if it was really cool information that proved he was totally aweso-

He forced it down again. Honestly, it was like he was in a good mood or something, and that never happened.

...Okay, so maybe he was in a slightly good mood after mastering his Sharingan. Maybe.

It was just... It was just such a rush, using those eyes. It was amazing, even after using it in training a couple of times. He still wasn't used to it. He knew he was acting like a kid with a new toy, but damn it, his eyes were awesome enough that he didn't care.

Damn it, he was smirking again. He needed to find something to take his mind off it. Maybe... maybe training to get used to his eyes? Yeah, that'd work. He activated his eyes and was proud of how he kept the smirk down as he did it. He was getting there, he smirked.

Damn it.

Okay, let's see what we can see.

River? Water, silt, reeds, fi- oh, Sage's balls, fish are ugly. No.

Trees? Bark, ants, termites, leaves... so many leaves, all moving at o-. Gah. No.

Sky? ...Huh. This is actually kinda cool. Clouds look pretty weird under the Sharingan. Like little wads of cotton made of tiny glass beads. He smiled, a legitimately relaxed smile rather than the arrogant smirk he'd been fighting down earlier. Yeah, this was a good way to kill time while waiting for Kakashi to show up. He'd definitely be doing this again, he thought, as the clouds drifted out of his vision to reveal a completely empty blue sky. Honestly, why didn't he try this earlier?

Then his Sharingan adjusted to the atmospheric refraction.

"Yo." Kakashi waved as he ambled over to the bridge where his cute little genin were waiting.

"You're late!" Naruto and Sakura chorused in annoyance, leaving Sasuke leaning back against the bridge railing, watching the sky.

"Well, sorry about that, see, there was a mermaid up a tree and-"

"That's a lie!" Came the expected chorus.

"...Wait, mermaid?" Sakura asked in confusion.

"Oh, it was just a lie, you wouldn't care," he answered helpfully. Sasuke had yet to get off the railing. "Oi, Sasuke, having fun there?"

No response.

"...Sasuke?" Wait, is he drooling? His Sharingan's on too...

"Oi, Sasuke," Naruto walked up to his team-mate, "Sensei's here, so we can start already, come on." No response. "The hell are you staring at, anyway?" Naruto looked up, trying to spot whatever Sasuke was looking at.

-stars so many stars so bright so black so beautiful they move they don't move they spin they explode they sing the song of the spheres so beautiful no words should have sent a poet IA IA-

"There a bird or something...? Whatever, come on, Sasuke!" He waved his hand over his eyes.

Sasuke blinked. He grabbed Naruto and began screaming in his face.


"Sasuke! Whoa! What?!"

"Sasuke!" Kakashi darted forward to separate the two, holding Sasuke in place while he continued to freak out.


"Sasuke! Listen to me! Look at me!" Kakashi yelled. Sasuke did so. It was not reassuring.

"SO MANY STARS SO MUCH BLACK" His Sharingan were active and bloodshot and the drool was beginning to foam.

"I CAN SEE FOREVER" His eyes rolled back as he fainted in Kakashi's grip.

"...What the hell?"

Author's Corner

...Uh. This was supposed to be humorous, with Sasuke tripping out on seeing the universe beyond the sky, but it quickly became horrifying. I don't even-