Chapter 8: Mori no Hayate (Fleeting Breeze of the Forest)

"WAHAHAHAHOOO!"

The loud whoop of joy made Sasuke leap up from the tree he used to lean against, just in time to see a flying Naruto soar past him, out of the small forest behind him, a small line of leaves breaking apart.

"WEEEE-! Oh craap!" And that was the blonde falling right into the middle of the river.

"Oi, you all there, dobe?" Sasuke asked mockingly as he leapt under the bridge, sticking there with chakra and lending a hand to pull the soaking-wet blonde out of the water. "I'd give you a 4 for style but a nice 9 for your landing execution."

"Hey! My style's solid gold! Don't diss it!"

"Riiight..." He drawled at Naruto's indignant cries. "Because orange and blue obscenities is called 'style' these days."

"Better than having a duck's ass as hair!"

"Much better than having a face like a shaved cat, a colorblind shaved cat!"

"Boys, may I have your attention? If it's not too much of a chore." Kakashi's voice surprised the two; he had hidden his presence expertly the foliage of a tree. "Now, there's a great event coming up and you, my cute little gennin, will be taking part in it, if you'd like. It's an elite event, so I'm not sure I should enlist you-"

"We're in! We're so in-tebbayo!" Naruto's happy cries at taking part in an elite shinobi event interrupted his teacher, much to the laughter of his team. "Can I bring my pretties too? They'll behave, I promise!"

"Erm, yes, well, I'm afraid you won't be able to bring your... your 'pretties'... along for most of it. It's a very ninja event, you know, can't have many witnesses spoiling our ninjaish ninja-ness." Kakashi tried not to laugh at his student. Oh, the kid was a blast to have around, random as hell, but dependable like few people could hope to. "Anyway, this event is..." He paused for effect, almost laughing at the way Naruto seemed to hang from his words, who knew he'd like pranking the blonde blob of energy so much? "...Chuunin Exam Selection!" He finished dramatically.

"Yay! Chuunin Exam! Chuunin Exam!" Naruto danced around before stopping, with a wondering expression on his face. "Err... what's Chuunin Exam?"

The question caused poor Sakura's face to meet the ground with sheer incredulity before leaping up, hands clenched, and bonking him while shouting about his immaturity. "Narutooo!"

It was only when the Naruto went poof in her hands that she realized she had been beating on a clone. Also, that's about when the laughter of her most annoying team-mate registered with her.

"Oh! You should have -hahaha- seen your face, Sakura-chan! It was so funny!"

"Funny was it? I'LL SHOW YOU FUNNY!" And then she was off, chasing him, fist raised in the air.

"Well, at least she's back to normal. Her being so silent annoyed you more than her usual antics eh?" Kakashi commented idly, getting a 'Hn' from his leftover student, to which he in turn gave an eye-smile. "It's not that bad, Sasuke-kun. She's not as bad as you thought, and that kind of shook you, right?" Again 'Hnnn...' "Don't worry about it. She can take care of herself, she just needs to believe in herself, not her fantasies. She's going to be a very dependable team mate in time. And you like it."

"Whatever. She's smart, I'll give her that, but unless she stops wasting her time, me and Naruto are going to leave her behind. Besides, it's not as if I'd ever take her as my girlfriend..."

"Oh? So you already have one in mind, eh?" Kakashi poked at his student, chuckling when he saw the rising blush. "Remind me to buy you a round of drinks when you get your first kiss. Though, I could give you some advice on what to do, Icha Icha has all the tricks you'd ever need to win the girl of your dreams."

"I'm no pervert, Kakashi-sensei." He denied the offer, but Kakashi smiled knowingly when he spotted Sasuke's eyes drifting to his ninja pouch, where his important perverse treasure was stored.

Yes! Another will soon be converted into the Pervertedness! Then, after the boys master the art of the Icha, the girls will follow, and the world will be perfect in its Icha-Icha!

Mwahahahaha!

May the pervertedness be with Sasuke and bring forth a new day of Icha-Icha, bigger, longer and more perverted than EVER!

Ahem, back to reality and away from the daydreams of a 25 year old virgin...

Eventually, Sakura settled for giving Naruto a noogie, having enjoyed the whole game far too much to keep being angry at him.

"So, how come you leapt like that out of the woods Naruto?" Asked Kakashi. "Come think of it, you were holding on some leaves, weren't you?"

Naruto quickly recovered from where he had been nursing his head, excitedly pulling out a scroll and opening it up in front of his curious team. On it, Kakashi could see a breakdown on elemental chakra and what each chakra did best. Lightning: Piercing. Wind: Cutting/Pressure. Fire: Absolute destruction (Sasuke smirked when he read this). Water: Flexibility and control of movement. Earth: Toughness, rigidity.

"Zabuza-san didn't teach me all that much, not even a jutsu, the cheapskate." Came Naruto's grumble as he spread out the scroll, showing diagrams of how each individual chakra would react with leaves, even going so far as to speculate on other, rarer types of leaves and plants. "But, he did show me a few things, how to make my chakra mimic elemental chakra. He said, I was almost there, almost had it down, he just had to show me how to do it right. Doesn't mean I can use elemental chakra any better, except for wind of course, but I can make my chakra mimic each energy's properties."

Then he pushed it to the side, opening another one, this one showing a breakdown of a few of his jutsu. "I use wind a lot, so it's easy to apply it, but I didn't want wind for this, I wanted something else. Luckily, Zabuza-san knew how to mimic both water and earth-type chakra. Now, watch this:" He said and gathered up some leaves before sticking a finger in and pulling out a chain. "This is what I showed you when we learned the tree-walking, right? So, here's what happens when I mimic water." Sasuke's sharingan showed that the chakra turned a darker blue, almost viscous shape and filled each leaf. Then, the entire chain seemed to take on movement. "It's not perfect yet, of course, I can't make it hurt anyone with significant force, but I can make help any movements I'm already, physically, making, as well as hold on to each leaf better, kind of like super glue!"

"So... you made a whip out of leaves..." Kakashi mumbled. Well, it had its niche but... wait, why was Naruto grinning?

"Whip? Oh no, that wouldn't do at all. Remember, I've practiced with wind-type chakra a lot, I can give it an edge as well as keep it as a whip, so it can still cut pretty well. But, Kakashi-sensei, what would happen, if I changed from water, to earth?" He grinned deviously and demonstrated, causing the leaves flow closer to his hand, often making several layers and ending up in a straight, double-edged sword protruding from his fist, complete with a few leaves wrapped around his hand as a form of extra protection. "With just a little bit of change and some good old chakra manipulation, you change your whip into a sword! And back again!" He grinned, taking out yet another scroll, after he let his jutsu fade, this one having various handseal positions and what each did. "Admittedly, I did it seal-lessly because I know how it works, and I have way too much chakra, enough to spare. The hardest part is in fact finding out a seal that conforms to water's flexible control, as well as earth's rigid toughness. Turns out... there is no such seal!" He finished, snapping the scroll shut.

"So?" Sakura prompted.

"So, I made a new one!" His reply got a ludicrous look from his entire team, not to mention several mumbles, or in Sakura's case cries, of impossibility. They only got a raised eyebrow in return. "What, why is it impossible? Because nobody else does it? Did chakra just illuminate us with the right place to put our fingers for each handseal? Did the Kamis come down and tell us we have to do it in a specific way? No! People experimented, they tried and failed and tried again until they made it work!" He shrugged his shoulders. "Of course, not everybody has the ability to make a thousand clones and have them run through a variety of completely random hand placements of possible handseals and then record their effect on chakra, but then again, nobody's as awesome as me!" He finished with a grin.

Poor, poor Kakashi.

At age nine he had already made a powerful assassination technique... that couldn't be used unless you belonged to a specific clan and had a very specific bloodline activated.

And all this time, all these years that he had spent copying techniques and perfecting his arts... he had never, not once, tried to repeat that feat of his youth. For almost two decades, he had simply sat down on his success of his past and didn't take a single step forward.

"Is this... is this how it feels, when you let yourself down? Is this how it feels when you get the good kick needed to get on your second gear?" He wondered, not for the first time.

Next to him, Sasuke didn't know if he should be happy or envious. He was happy that Naruto was getting stronger, the dobe worked his ass off for it, he deserved it. But, he was also envious; Naruto had defeated Haku, he had made so many new jutsu, he had probably even made a whole new freaking breakthrough in chakra control!

It was a bittersweet feeling. He didn't like it. His hands clenched a bit. Fine, if that's how it's going to be... well, fuck it all, it's time to up his training some more! Can't have the dead last surpassing him now, can he?

Last but definitely not least, in her mind at least, Sakura was gazing at Naruto with newfound respect. So far, she had believed that either someone taught him these techniques or he had simply lucked out. He did have the devil's luck sometimes.

But this? This was no luck; this was research, this was spending hour after hour, painstakingly writing down your findings, cross-referencing them and finding out exactly why something ticked the way it did and what you could do to mess with it.

Though few knew of it, that's exactly how Orochimaru worked, this is how he gained the ability to perform techniques that no one else could. Because, similar to Naruto, he wasn't satisfied with whatever everybody else told him was possible and denied what was considered 'the correct way', making his own path. Only, somewhere along the way, he misplaced his ethics. But the man was a researcher first and, had he known, had anyone known, just how similar those two were, maybe things would have gone different. But right now, not even Orochimaru's top spies knew what or who Naruto really was.

And so, Konoha's most recent obsessively insane chakra researcher instead chose to follow the path he had realized he was walking when he met Haku for the first time. He would not let any harm come to his beloved precious people.

Far, far away, several people had felt a chill crawl up their spines when the Kyuubi jinchuuriki had made his vow to two other like-minded people.

But for now, he would happily spend his days learning and inventing jutsu as well as tending his ever-friskier pretties. He couldn't say he was surprised; they were always unpredictable when it was pollination time. At least, his own pet project had gone well, his memories from his clones assured him that he had done as he had asked. Hopefully, he would be able to hasten the growth a bit with some special aids. It would lessen the quality of the final product, sure, but if he could get even a tenth of what he had calculated...

Who knew, it could even be ready for the Chuunin Exam selections! Really, he knew what it was, he was greatly interested in getting the Kage's hat, so of course he had looked at whatever way there was to getting there fast, but Sakura was so easy to rile up sometimes.

"Focus you damn idiot!" Sasuke's voice pulled Naruto from his reverence, only a second before a kick caught him on the side of his head, sending him rolling head over heels.

Oh, right, this was taijutsu practice time. Or, as Sasuke called it more aptly; 'Beat-up-Naruto-time'.

"Alright, stop, stop, that's enough." Kakashi's voice provided relief to a bruised black-and-blue Naruto, sprawled at the ground, twisted around like a pretzel, with Sasuke practically yawning on him. "Are you alright Naruto?"

"It's just a flesh wound..." Came the groan.

"Yeah, well, I didn't think you were quite that bad in taijutsu... Anyway, I got a few ideas for now, want to hear my advice?"

"Sure, better what anything I've thought, for sure."

"Alright, Naruto, you have unreal endurance and toughness. You took all of Sasuke's blows," Here Naruto muttered 'like I had a choice', still annoyed he was that bad at taijutsu. Or maybe Sasuke was just that good. "and your reaction time and agility are alright, but your strength and speed are subpar; you have the muscle for it, but you don't know how to best put it to use, so all your strength is wasted and causes you to overextend. You need a style that allows you to avoid enemies and move quickly; no matter how much you train, you'll never be a great taijutsu fighter, but you're a ninjutsu-type anyway, right?"

"Yeah, and if I could use a leg-based one, I'd still have my hands mostly free. I may be able to use my own jutsu without seals out of combat, but while fighting, it would be almost impossible beyond the simplest moves."

"Too true, you've done a great job with the Kawarimi, but there's a reason it's considered a basic technique; there's not really many jutsu that are easier to use. So, I scoured my library, pulled a few strings, blackmailed a few people" He said nonchalantly, "And got some styles to choose from. Some taijutsu masters go for multiple styles or combine them to get a better one, you shouldn't try something like that, it's just going to confuse your body with conflicting instincts."

"Hm. Alright, but whatever you teach me, you teach to Sasuke as well." Naruto replied after a second of thought, getting surprised looks from his team. "What? If we both know the same things, he'll know what I'm about to do and complement my own style. Besides, the teme's got the right instincts and stuff for taijutsu, right? One more style should be fine, right?"

"Would it really help me, sensei?" Sasuke really did want to learn, he wanted to learn as much as possible, but Kakashi's warning about not learning more than one style crossed his mind. Learning more was good, messing up what you already know wasn't.

"Yes, Sasuke, you are a budding taijutsu genius. Well, so far I've seen, you're a genius in all arts, but taijutsu and weapons are your best. You've got a good head on your shoulders, great instincts, proper conditioning and years of practice. Your sharingan also gives you the reflexes to fight with ease even in grappling distances. I'll help you refine your control and awareness, but you still have your Uchiha clan scrolls, right? You won't need me to add much to your jutsu arsenal, but of course you can ask me any time for help, ideas or advice. But, unlike Naruto and Sakura, you have material to start on."

Then he turned to his last student. "Speaking of the sole female of our team..." He grinned at the half-hearted glare Sakura shot him. "Taijutsu will do you good, but we'll focus more on evasion than anything else, for now. I dug for some medic scrolls from a friend of mine, too," Oh, Miho-chan, the ever-naughty nurse... "ahem, and I'll be showing you a few genjutsu to see what you can do best. Then we'll see. Not like we'll be able to improve too much before the exams are here."

"If we won't be improving too much until then, why are we being invited?" Asked Sasuke.

"Ah, caught on to that, eh? Simple; you can't grow if you do the same thing over and over again. Facing ninja of other countries will give you a very good idea of what's going on. Also, you've already had a meeting with the world outside, so you three are much better off than the other gennin teams; they've only done a C-rank or two, you have an A-rank under your belt. And last but not least, it's safe; the exams will take place in Konoha this time. You'll be much safer here for your first time rather than somewhere else. And if you pass? Well, you pass." He grinned at them, before making a handseal very familiar to Naruto and making two clones. "Split up now, time to train!"

And so it was that Team Seven had their first meeting with ANBU Captain Hatake Kakashi, realizing how much of a slave driver he is underneath his relaxed facade.

Really, the ANBU had thrown a party when he left. One even then ROOT had joined too...

Several hours of grueling hard work later, an exhausted Team Seven was making their way back home, leaning on each other for support, lest they fell on the ground. Not even Naruto would have the energy to get back up if that happened. Dropping off Sakura with a mumble of 'bye's and a shaking hand barely rising up enough to hit the doorbell, the last two members trudged on, hating the fact that their houses were so far away from their training grounds.

Finally reaching that intersection where their paths split, Sasuke was struck by inspiration. "Naruto... come stay with me tonight."

Now, there was a great deal many things the blonde could have said, and so he did. "My, Sasuke-kun!" He said, fluttering his eyes at his friend. "How straightforward of you! But you should at least have taken me on a date!" He would have shifted to his alter-ego, Naruko, too, but he didn't have enough chakra for it. Damn Kakashi and his training! Such a good opportunity to embarass his friend, and he couldn't even take advantage of it!

"Shut up dobe, you're too short for my liking anyway." Came the snark, and grin, from the Uchiha. "Besides, my home's closer, less walking for you, the way I see it."

"Oh, and what's in it for you, except the honor of basking in my presence?"

"You'll cook breakfast. And I get to have someone sleep over, dad would have had a stroke it's not an Uchiha, but what can we do? I'll have to make do with you." The last word was delivered with an overexaggerated sneer, barely managing to hide the grin behind it.

As the two gennin made their way, they didn't notice a rather acid-tongued, gossip-loving civilian eavesdropping on them. The woman didn't have the best hearing though, nor was she all that good of a judge of people, so most of their words were taken in a completely different context.

Itachi would later find the rumours hilarious, as would Naruto. Sasuke on the other hand was much less amused, at least until he realized that it saved him from approximately ninety-nine percent of his fangirls. He threw a party after that.

But, in the safety and emptiness of the old Uchiha district, Sasuke and Naruto were enjoying a very late dinner of cup ramen. Sasuke would have rather had something else, but he didn't have the energy to make something, so he let Naruto just boil some so they wouldn't sleep.

"So, why didn't you tell me about Zabuza-san's teaching you?" Asked Sasuke, the question annoying him.

"Not like you asked." Naruto grinned, but quickly turned serious, all signs of his usual chipper smugness gone. "He didn't teach me all that much anyway. I still can't use elemental jutsu beyond the basics of wind, if that's what you're worried about. I can just mimic what elemental chakra does, but it's not all that good of a mimicry either. Wastes too much chakra for now, I think. Hell, the only reason I can do this with leaves is probably because Mokuton, the bloodline that creates living wood, is a mixture of Earth and Water..." Naruto speculated. He had researched on it, of course. If he wanted to use unique jutsu, it would have been much easier if he could at least use some legendary styles, like the Mokuton or Jinton. That and, what if his manipulation of leaves alluded to having such a bloodline? He would go from Konoha's Demon Brat to an almost prince-level, as heir to the Senju.

It would have also given him a family, even if it was only one person.

However, his chakra testing showed that he had not one shred of Mokuton in him. Too bad, really, but it wouldn't stop him.

"I... see... So you wouldn't be able to use fire or electricity through them?"

"Well... fire would just burn the leaves, so yeah, I could, but it would at the same time reduce the leaves I can use, meaning that it would weaken all my other jutsu. Not a good idea I think. Besides, I'm Wind natured, fire's not my area of expertise, you're the team's pyro." Both of them grinned at that. "And electricity? Well, water could channel it, so I guess I could... but it's an element opposed to my wind so I doubt I'd ever learn enough about it to put to use." Naruto shrugged there.

"Ah, I see... So, Zabuza?"

"Well, I showed him what I was doing and he just helped me focus the effect without wasting as much chakra as I did." He shrugged again. "So, anyway," His insanely happy look returned. "can I interest you in one of my pretties? They'll behave too! I think..."

"Err... no. Not that good with plants, pyromaniac tendencies, remember?" Well, whatever worked to get away from taking care of one of Naruto's pretties.

After that, they descended into a calm quiet, relaxing simply in the presence of each other. They only spoke when they were retiring for the night, Naruto on one of the many beds of the house.

"Sasuke, catch." He tossed him a small scroll. "Start reading on it. It'll come in usefull later on, trust me." It was a scroll with the proper chakra manipulations needed to mimic water and earth chakra. And it would come in handy soon. As soon as his special order was finished anyway. Should be ready by the end of the Chuunin Exams. Too bad it wouldn't be done earlier, but, oh well, high quality requires a long time to acquire.

"Hn... G'night, dobe." And they were out like a pair of lights.

The following days rolled by much the same, waking up, training hard, having lunch, training some more and collapsing to their beds for the night. But there was marked increase in their skills as Kakashi seemed to pull all the stops from training them. Well, not all the stops, he still made sure to withhold quite a bit of training, he couldn't let them get too powerful yet, they didn't have the kind of bonds with the village to not be one-hundred percent safe from abandoning it, but he still cared for the brats.

To Kakashi, they were all so familiar to his old team, yet so different. Sakura was so much like Rin, but at the same time so different. At least he was safe from his old team-mate's legendary wrath; Sakura seemed to hold his position as teacher in great respect, Rin was never really bothered by their ninja ranks. Sasuke and Naruto though were his favourites. Gods, these brats were amazing. Naruto had enough chakra to rival the entire village and the willpower to match, while Sasuke was an absolute genius, it was like he absorbed techniques like a sponge to water. So, he trained these two hard; Naruto was forced to learn Taijutsu along with the chakra control excercises he had started him on, also making a single clone to match Naruto's 'Idea-Cataloguing Squad' (Naruto chose the name), helping the doppelgangers come up with new ideas for old techniques and brand-new techniques to work on.

Kakashi had found himself surprised by some of the blonde's insane ideas, even if most of them were niches, tricks that would be great for a very specific case or situation, rather than something more generic. Still, he had found more than a couple of viable, useful ideas in Naruto's many scrolls that he would have to work on.

Truthfully, even Sasuke had found a nice trick or two he could use with his Katon, but he wasn't like Naruto, he wasn't that good in making jutsu from scratch (he just wanted his target to burn), so he swore he would get that damn dobe to make him some fire techniques worthy of an Uchiha! Then they would all burn! Buuurn! Mwahahaha- ahem... That is to say, Sasuke's pyromaniac tendencies were also getting looked at.

Of her team, Sakura was the least happy of them; her studies in genjutsu and iryojutsu (healing techniques) were taking up a significan amount of time in studying, time she could not use to go after her beloved Sasuke-kun. That is not to say she didn't see him, but the only time she did was when Kakashi was running them into the ground, meaning there was no time to just look at him and sigh dreamily.

But, today was the day. Not just any day, but the day. The day that signified the beginning of the Chuunin Exams, a bi-annual event that was hosted by a different major ninja village each time. Through, in three different and successive stages, young, promising and upcoming gennin would compete to see who would gain a promotion to Chuunin, bringing honor and clients to their village in a show of power and superiority.

Needless to say, nearly every competing gennin was bursting with anticipation at the event. Except Shino. He's always calm.

So now they walk the path to the Academy, where the first part will take place, Sasuke and Sakura trying to comfort an inconsolable Naruto that no, written tests are not evil and they do not in fact each people's souls.

Naruto would, of course, disagree.

But, other than that, they are also making fun of the blonde thanks to his mini-me; a young boy named Sarutobi Konohamaru and his two friends, Udon and Moegi, who want to be 'just like Naruto-nii-san'. The boy had even almost made the mistake of speaking out about Sakura's forehead, but it just took Naruto's warning that she did in fact pack a mean punch and she wasn't afraid to use it (something he had learned for himself several times over after becoming teammates) to stop the possible slaughter.

Not that it stopped the kids; being children they would run ahead of the trio, making ridiculous antics, issuing challenges or just making fun of the people around them.

It was just after the little ones had dashed around a corner, trying to get Naruto and his team to spot them 'if they could', when they heard a light thud, two "ow!"s and a "You damn brat!"

Turning around the corner they saw poor Konohamaru raised off the ground by his scruff and a weird guy holding said scruff. The guy was really weird, he would give anyone a run for their weirdness; purple lines on his face, a weird cat-like jumpsuit (only lacked the paws really) and an even more weird coffin-shaped thing covered in bandages and placed on the back.

"I should hurt you, just so you learn not to piss off those superior to you!" Spouted the black-dressed guy.

"Oh yes, because hitting little kids makes you so superior, make-up-chan!" Naruto said with a sneer. He had been on the receiving end of bullying too many times not to grasp the chance to show a bully how it feels. "Now, your hand will let go of my friend or I'll cut it off!" He growled menacingly.

"Oi Kankuro, let go of the brat, if we're late he'll get angry again." Spoke up a very attractive girl next to the now-known 'Kankuro' guy. Dressed in a short battle kimono, fishnet and carrying a huge fan, the four-ponytailed girl made for a much more serious (and attractive) sight than her team mate.

"Oh yeah? What do I care? These weaklings challenged me first!"

'Weaklings? We're weaklings? Ha! I'd like to see them so much as look at Zabuza!' Thought Sasuke, but outwards only scowled and grunted at them, his hands slowly inching to his favourite pair of knives. "Hn."

"Riiight, you're picking on kids half your age and we're the weaklings? Then again, what do would you expect from a queer make-up-loving coward!"

That insult seemed to be too much for the cat-suit-guy and he dropped Konohamaru, preferring to go for a quick punch on the insulting blonde...

Only to hit a cloud of smoke and air.

"Oops, missed me! Want to try again? Oh, this one was close! My, my, kanky-chan! Are you getting angry?" Teased Naruto, subtly using the Mori Yuurei to replace himself with innocently-floating leaves, leaving the poor guy spinning, punching and almost frothing.

"WHY YOUUU!" He screamed, setting down the bandaged object-

"Stop. Kankurou." A cold voice informed them, making everyone look at the speaker, a weird, red-haired boy wearing red-and-black robes and carrying a gourd. There was the kanji for 'love' on his forehead and his teal-colored eyes had black rings around them.

It was like a switch had been turned. Both unknown ninja (they looked like gennin, but Kakashi-sensei looked laidback when he was really a slave driver) seemed to shiver with barely-restrained terror as they turned to look at the new speaker.

Only a few seconds of pinning everyone under cold, deadly eyes, the red-haired one seemed to surround himself with sand and then vanish, only to appear at the street, in between Naruto and Kakurou.

"G-Gaara..." The blonde girl stuttered, still shivering in fear. "R-relax, we... we were on our way..."

"Temari. Shut up or I will kill you." It was emotionless, lethal, cold, dark and somewhat familiar to both Naruto and Sasuke, for different reasons each. Then, the 'Gaara' turned to the Konoha shinobi. "Apologies. My siblings are stupid. Who are you?"

"Uzumaki Naruto! And blondie there isn't stupid, just the make-up lover guy!" He said, much to the chagrin of Temari and the gulping of Kankurou at Gaara's newest glare.

"Uchiha Sasuke. There is no problem, but where are you going? You are no Konoha shinobi, your headband indicates Suna. Here for the Chuunin Exams?"

Sakura however chose to stand back, make herself as small a target as possible. It wasn't fear, so much as shock; after Zabuza, few people could scare her like he did, but the fact that a boy near her age could was... Besides, what could she do? She's pointless in direct combat and Sakura is keenly aware of it; even Naruto can eventually beat her in taijutsu, even if just by way of his endless stamina (though he had been markedly improved lately). No, best to lay back, watch and help her team as best as she can, which is not by getting into the fray.

"Yes. We are here to take the exams. You are entering them too." It was a statement. "You are strong. I look forward to meeting you both there. When we do, I will kill you." Then, sand rose around the three siblings from Suna and they were gone.

"Well, ain't he a basket of sunshine?"

"Yes, such a nice, caring, personality. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside." Sasuke mocked. He was surprised just as much, if not more than, Sakura. Those eyes were familiar. Very familiar, though old in memory...

Itachi's eyes...

It was an uncomfortable silence that dampened the moods of Team Seven as they made their way inside the one building they had uniformly hoped to never enter again.

Just a few flights of stairs ahead of them, there was a lot of commotion, shouts of pain, curses and even some pleading. Naturally, the members of Team Seven went to investigate, finding the very doorway they were looking for, 301, literally flooded with prospective chuunin being held back by a pair of bullies.

What cinched it for them however was the sound of pain coming from a girl that was quickly thrown to the floor.

"Eeeh! What weaklings! Pathetic loosers like you shouldn't even be considered for Chuunin!" One of the two bullies said, one with X-shaped bandages over his nose. "We're doing you a favour, really! So you better thank US!" And then, he was moving to kick the downed girl.

His leg didn't make it as he found a leg stomping on his other one, and a hand clamping down on his throat.

"If this is what amounts to worthy chuunin, I'd rather be a rogue, coward." Naruto hissed, tightening his grip.

The other one however did not stand idle, he quickly made to kick the blonde, but blinking in surprise as he found his own leg pinned to the wall behind him by a rather annoyed Sasuke.

"And you're not really all that strong are you?" Sneered the Uchiha in absolute disgust. "Not even your genjutsu is that strong; 301? Are you stupid? We only went two flights of stairs, not three! This is the second floor class, 201."

Around them, prospective gennin gasped and released the illusion that had tricked them, making the numbers swirl back to their original. A second later, the one Sasuke had pinned down had leapt up and over the boy and was coming back at him with a quick kick. Not that Sasuke remained standing of course, as soon as his target had leapt, he too spun and was ready to interfere... when two hands grabbed the two legs and stopped them in their tracks.

"You should not fight so close to the exam, you know" The boy with the shiny black bowl-shaped hair cut spoke, large, bug-like eyes looking out. "You could get expelled."

Sasuke sneered as he retracted his leg calmly. The green-dressed boy was good, his taijutsu was almost on par with his. But he looked ridiculous. "Whatever." Compared to this guy, Kankurou or whatever his name was, looked almost normal!

What followed then was a declaration of love from the bowl-haired boy towards one Haruno Sakura, prompting the pinkette to hide behind a rather amused, almost snickering, Sasuke. Until he took pity to her anyway and asked the 'sexual harasser' to stop traumatizing his team mate.

Unnoticed by them all, except maybe a certain boy with long black hair and pupil-less white eyes and his chocolate-eyed, brown-haired female team mate, Naruto was whispering to the other bully. "I'm ashamed at you two, really. What were you thinking, placing a genjutsu here? The prank's nowhere near funny and you didn't even think to use paint? Genjutsu can be broken, but if you had just replaced the damn sign, no one would have known! Is that how I taught you to prank people?" The captive ninja had even the good grace to look sheepish before being freed and taking his partner, vanishing in a swirl of leaves.

Unfortunately for the blonde he had missed the goings-on, which had included someone hitting on Sakura, someone copying Sasuke's haughty demeanor and a rivalry-challenge.

Really, the blonde thought, normality may be over-rated, but sometimes it's just too much. So, he turned to the lone girl of the opposing trio. "How do you bear with them? No offence, they're crazy and you're pretty normal... not that I have anything to say about normal, even my pretties think I'm crazy, and they're plants for gods' sake!"

The girl giggled and introduced herself as 'Tenten', no last name which is weird, but Naruto thought that, hey, she could be embarassed about it or maybe she was adopted and didn't know where she came from. The stick-up-the-mud-guy-number-two was Hyuuga Neji, apparently a prodigy as a Hyuuga, to what Naruto snickered. The guy was a Hyuuga alright, he'd pranked them enough. Nah, Neji was no prodigy, he was a genius, to be sure, but no prodigy; he was a textbook Hyuuga, no innovation that one! The green leotard wearing, bowl-haired, bug-eyed boy was called Rock Lee, though Naruto quickly re-christened him as 'Eyebrows' or 'Geji-mayu'. Really, the blonde thought, it might be wrong for guys to dabble in the make-up arts, but it's even worse having caterpillars for eyebrows! They even wiggled like real!

A few minutes after that, Sasuke was nursing his jaw. He had taken Rock Lee's challenge... and had gotten his ass handed to him. The man was good. Lee might look like a clown, act like an idiot and dress like a retard, but he damn sure knew his taijutsu. Even with the sharingan, he had barely seen him move and, had it not been for pracicing with Haku, he would have been smacked around silly. Even then, Lee was so fast, that his body couldn't react in time, bypassing his blocks as if they weren't even there! Only his last resort technique had saved him from total embarassment; Katon: Hishu, or Fire Style: Fire Flash, a spat-out tiny fireball that goes off in a bright flash like a minature firework. No damage, but also no handseals needed, which makes it for a nasty surprise up close. Thanks to that, Sasuke did manage to give Lee a few good hits, but the crazy gennin seemed almost as tough as, if not tougher than, Naruto!

Sasuke would not deny wondering for a second if insanity somehow also made someone tougher. If their detachment for reality somehow made them impervious to damage; were they simply incapable of understanding that, after a point in time, it should be impossible to keep getting up? Like their body sends them a memo of 'you're in deep fucking pain right now' and they miss it!

A few moments after that coherent thought, Sasuke would also admit that, since his crazy is different from Naruto's crazy, then he should have different abilities or something. Did anyone even catalogue these crazies?

Unfortunately for the Last Uchiha Scion, no one did, and so he missed on all these abilities insane ninja seem to be getting. That, or Lee eventually shook off the stars from his eyes and the proceeded to, quite simply, beat Sasuke black and blue. He even went so far as to use a forbidden technique, one that started with a kick under his chin, throwing him in the air and then appearing right under him, floating in his shadow. Sure, it was an idea place to start an attack, but what about that technique could be so dangerous that called for the jounin-sensei to interrupt it?

Well, then there was the sensei that reminded Sasuke he should really, really find some brain bleach. Two males dressed in skin-tight green leotards and hugging each other under a sunset, complete with crashing waves...

"Oi Naruto..." Sasuke turned to his friend, still testing his jaw to make sure everything was here. "Do you have some left-over brain bleach? That guy was..."

He got a shudder in return. "Nah, and doubt it would work on you, magic copycat eyes, remember? I guess that teaches you to not keep them active all the time."

That left poor Sasuke grumbling all the way to the examination room. Which was after a short talk with Kakashi supplemented by a sympathetic look of pity and an admission that they were better off than him, since he had somehow managed to get Maito Gai, Rock Lee's jounin-sensei, to consider him a 'youthful rival'.

No, Sasuke was sure that if Lee had called him his 'eternal rival', he would have seriously considered sepukku. Because, after Kakashi's explanation that this specific pair of ninja simply didn't seem to accept the fact that someone was better than them, he was quite pleased with himself for loosing. No, best loose a fight than have that self-styled 'Beautiful Green Wild Beast' after them for life!

Infinitely better!

Entering the examination room was... eventful. Ino tried to tackle Sasuke, Sasuke replaced himself with a willing Sakura (she let him substitute her for himself before realizing the reason), Kiba howled with laughter, almost crushing poor Akamaru as he rolled on the floor, Hinata quietly giggled and Shikamaru and Chouji looked at each other before snickering.

Shino was cool, as always.

Naruto preferred to mumble about his pretties, using the covert signal system Kakashi had helped them create to communicate without anyone understanding them. The fact that everybody also underestimated the blonde as being completely insane and therefore helpless was just an added benefit. Really, for a village filled with ninja, nobody ever tried to see underneath the underneath.

Someone approached the group then, a guy with silver-grey hair and round specs, meekly warning them. "Err... you might want to calm down you know... People here are getting really agitated..."

Looking around them, they noticed that nearly the entire room was glaring at them, so Naruto, being Naruto, decided to send them over the deep end, en masse.

"Agitated! Aggravated! Insanely introverted!" He leaped up, screaming accusingly, while on a desk, pointing at them, insanity clear in his eyes. "I know your kind! You're here for my pretties aren't you! I know you are! Admit it!" One of the poor onlookers tried to speak, but wasn't given the chance. "Silence! I don't need your excuses! Listen up all you, flower-stompers and tree-cutters! Knaves and maids alike! Ye who bear the honor of being a shinobi to your little, itty-bitty, treeless villages! You got a problem with my pretties, bring it to me! Not my pretties! And if you think you can take on my pretties, well, lemme tell you, they will rip out your hearts and serve them with mayonnaise!" An onlooker interrupted the 'crazy guy' by saying something like "you're crazy!" Which only prompted Naruto puff up, not unlike a peacock and yell out, even louder. "Crazy? THIS! IS! KONOHAAAAA!" He finished with a loud warcry before abruptly calming down, dusting off some imaginary dust from his clothes, straightening them out and, with obviously exaggerated arrogance, leapt back down to the ground. "Alright, you may proceed with the examinations."

It took almost all of Sasuke's considerable self-control to not burst down in loud guffaws, but just looking at the stupefied faces of his fellow shinobi, friend and foe alike, was almost too much to bear! Ah, that idiot, with just a loud show, he made everyone doubt his sanity and focus on himself rather than the examinations.

Amongst the Suna siblings, the blonde girl, Temari smirked. "Oooh, I like him. Can I keep him as a pet, Gaara? Pwease?" She gave the puppy-eyes to her emotionless little brother, while her other little brother's eye twitched and he mumbled something about 'oh great, now there's two of them'. Temari chose to ignore him.

With Team Gai, poor Lee looked dumbfounded by everyone else's reaction; Naruto-san definitely had strong fires of youth, why did they look so wierded out about? It was an inspiring speech! Silently, he swore to himself to keep a better eye on the blonde, he might get his eternal rival yet! Tenten on the other hand had trouble preventing her giggles, especially as she looked at a horrified Neji's face; the poor 'genius' looked ready to have an aneurism at just being of the same village as Naruto!

A silver-haired gennin on the other hand looked at his special pack of ninja information cards and reconsidered ranking Naruto's intelligence ratings above that of a goldfish. With a quick wave of his hand, and quite a bit of chakra control, he re-wrote the information to plainly show that the subject in question was an insane idiot with absolutely no talent or use, obviously having gotten there on Sasuke's capabilities. The rumours that the blonde had some sort of special technique were also apparently false; no one that stupid could possibly have made a technique! Still, he coughed slightly, getting everyone's attention, the show must go on after all. "Ahem, yes, that is one way of reacting to it. I'm sorry, I haven't introduced myself, Yakushi Kabuto, gennin. Here to take the exams, I suppose eh? Are all of you green gennin?"

"We're not green," Interrupted Naruto out of nowhere, somehow surprising everyone that they had managed to already forget him. "I'm orange! Praise be to The Orange! It's up there, with Ramen and The Log, in Divinity! Truly there be no higher forces in the universe!"

Ignoring the blonde, who continued to praise ramen, the Orange and The Log, urging those around him to pray to the so-called 'Divine Trinity', Kabuto soldiered on. "I mean, you're new here, right? I'm, well, it's kind of embarassing, but I'm a veteran of these exams... They're very hard, I've taken them seven times and still I can't pass..."

The admission was delivered perfectly, well enough to receive any actor's award. But... Sasuke didn't buy it. Having spent nearly half a year next to the insane blonde, he had learned how to tell when people hid something, his best (maybe only but still best) friend did it with alarming frequency. That, compounded with reading his father's guides on how to read people, guides made so that beginning members of the Uchiha Police Force could tell when someone lied to them... It all pointed out to one fact; that Kabuto guy was lieing. Unfortunately, he wasn't good enough to be able to find out about what he lied or why, but he knew there was something fishy about it.

Maybe it was the veteran's way of calming the rookies down, or making them think he's an ally so he can defeat them later on, or maybe he has a different goal for the Exams. Sasuke didn't know about his reasons or goals. He did know however that he couldn't and wouldn't trust the guy. Clenching and unclenching his fist in specific timings passed the message to Naruto 'Lies, no trust'. Said blonde didn't seem to lower his eyes from the ceiling, where he had been looking while still praising Ramen, but a smal movement of the shoulders told Sasuke that he had received the message.

"Seven times? Man, you must be a weakling then!" Kiba's rowdy voice tried to insult Kabuto, not that the older gennin seemed to mind, if anything he took it in stride, which sent even more warning bells in Sasuke's head.

"Ah, yes, haha, that... that may be true," Kabuto admitted, laughing awkwardly, once again ignoring Naruto's cry of "Repent infidels! Praise The Log in Its Loggedness!" and instead tried to move on. "but, you see, I have collected a great deal of information, so I'm confident I'll pass with the help of my nifo-" "And the world shall unite under The Orange!" "Doesn't he have a goddamn off button?" He screamed, finally having no more patience.

Surprisingly, he got a sympathetic look from Sasuke, who clapped him on the shoulder. "Don't worry, only the first month or so is truly painfull, after that, you get used to him." There was an almost palpable feeling of pain and humiliation. "But, you were saying something?"

Trying very hard, and still barely succeeding, to quell his desire to decapitate the crazed blonde, Kabuto smiled uneasily. "Yes, yes I was, wasn't I? I... I have these ninja info cards, or ninfo cards for short..." "So The Ramen were born of salt and flour, the perfect unison..." "Grrr... ninfo cards, yes, cards with a great deal of information, about almost all participants of the Exams here."

"Oh? So you have information about all of us?" Sasuke asked, obviously curious, though he hid the reason why. When Kabuto nodded, he decided to take advantage of the veteran gennin, see what more information he can earn to store in his own mental personal folders. "So, there's someone named Gaara, he's from Suna, anything on him?"

"Gaara? Oh, you mean Sabaku no Gaara, son of the Kazekage, brother to one Sabaku no Temari, user of Wind jutsu, and one Sabaku no Kankurou, whose specialty is unknown but I think he knows how to use poisons." He smiled, thankfull that the blonde seemed to be involved into a weird, muttering prayer. He tried not to overhear, the very words the blonde spoke hurt his ears!

Unknown to him, three particular gennin of an up-and-coming village were straining to keep their brains intact, the damn blonde's words were killing their brains!

"But, back to Gaara, wow! He's good, like, really good! He's taken part to B and even A ranked missions, completing them all without even a-"

"So praise be to the Bright Orange for it lifted our spirits, the Tasty Ramen for it fed our stomachs and the Holy Log, for it saved us from painful deaths!" Screamed Naruto once again.

"scratch...WHO THE FUCK IS GOING TO SAVE YOU FROM A FUCKING PAINFUL DEATH YOU LITTLE SHIT!" Unable to control himself any longer, Kabuto leapt at the blonde, frothing at the mouth and obviously trying to strangle the annoyance...

"STOP THIS AT ONCE!" A loud voice boomed from the end of the classroom, a tall, scarred man, wearing full body armor, boots and a large bandana on his head, surrounded by a dozen or so proctors. "I am Chief Interrogator Morino Ibiki! I am proctoring this exam and-"

"And on the fifth day of the seventh month, Ramen shall come down from the Heavens to feed the devout!" Naruto's voice interrupted Ibiki. "And there will be much rejoicing!" Then he just looked around, curiously, at everyone staring either at him (and his apparently house-sized steel balls) for ignoring Ibiki, or Ibiki (and his twitchi eye, seriously, that wasn't healthy) to see what kind of punishment he would dish out. Naruto, of course, was unperturbed. "Want to join the reciting of the Ramen Prophecies?"

Morino Ibiki stared. He stared hard. He was not glaring, he was not scowling. And he would never pout. But this brat had ruined his dramatic entrance! He twitched, wishing to strangle a certain someone. Still, he would admit that this boy had big balls of steel, high quality too, none of that cheapskate stuff that 'noob' ninja buy. So, even though he wanted to take the little brat for a tour of his workspace, he had to respect him too. That, and he'd have to keep an eye on him, he'd seen the chaos he'd wrought. If he could get him into T&I (Torture and Interrogation), he'd be breaking the worst prisoners without even touching them!

But, in the verses of a great song, the show must go on, so he filed away these new information snippets and continued on. "Silence, unless you wish to be banned from Chuunin Exams for life. This is the first rule; Shut. Up. You will be silent and respectful or I'm going to toss you out on your collective asses, am I understood? Good. This is a written exam. You all start at ten points and ten questions. For every time you cheat, you loose two points. For ever question unanswered, you will loose one point. If this exam finishes and you have no points left, you fail. This exam will last one hour. Those of you smart enough to have read the tests," He sneered. "you will find that there are only nine questions there. After forty-five minutes, I will give you the final question. Take your seats, silently, and we'll begin. Well, what the hell are you waiting for? MOVE!" He snapped, satisfied at making most leap to their seats.

The first stage was underway.

Naruto looked at his test and sighed. What the hell was wrong with these people? 'Calculate the vector of throwing a kunai with half-a-gram leaning towards the left-front axis, through a gust of wind with 43degrees bearing left in front of you and a circular funnel of wind, both at 10km per hour, at a moving target moving at 33km per hour bearing 21 degrees right, so as to hit in the inside of the calf... what the FUCK?' He glared at his sheet. Did they expect them to know this kind of useless stuff? First you throw a kunai and then you correct your aim!

Well fine, if that's how they want to play... "I would attach an explosive note (initially hidden in the hollow compartment under my sandals so as to not be found) to the kunai, throw the kunai in the general direction of my target and use the Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, blanketing the area with explosive kunai; the resulting explosion will make sure that the target will not have a body left, let alone a leg." Well he's a combat-type ninja! He ain't no genius scribe or somesuch useless thing! He sighed, he had told them, he had told them, that this would happen! He had warned them but did they hear? Nooo! 'Tests don't suck your soul out Naruto!' they said, 'Yes Naruto, we're sure that they won't be using this as an opportunity to take your brains and replace them with slug-like parasites so they can take over our lives and conquer the world' they said!

Oh noes! They're going to eat their brains! Quickly, send out some leaves to Sasuke and Sakura! Warn them before it's too late!

Sasuke and Sakura found it truly hard to hold their laughter in as they saw a leaf float in front of their tests, writing Naruto's 'terrible truths revealed' in his regular style.

Next to Naruto however, Hyuuga Hinata giggled at his antics. She had looked at his eyes, going from a mesmerizing swirling tide, a chaotic mix between sky blue, sea deep blue and cloud white, spin and spin around, hypnotically, switching to a just as powerful perfect blend, though this one seemed to not move but instead glow with willpower.

Not once had she seen fear in his eyes, not even once. Was it then, such a big surprise that she wanted to be like him? He had been through a lot, she had seen the few occasions where he was bullied just as harsh, if not harsher, than her. And not even the bullying, not even the threats, not even those cold, frigid, looks had deterred him. He still shone just as brightly as ever.

Some would say that Hinata was only crushing on him. She would not deny that, but she also knew that she had true feelings for him as well. She only had to gather up the courage to talk to him about them.

In time, the forty-five minutes passed, quietly as even Kiba refused to so much as let a peep out against the terrifying proctor. He did repeat to himself that it was because he didn't want to hurt his team's chances of passing, but Akamaru whined a 'liar' at him, though he let it drop.

"Alright now, brats, it's been forty-five minutes! Time for the tenth question!" he yelled, causing everyone to look at his stony face. "This one has two additional rules! Shut up, I'll answer later, if you interrupt me again, I'll show you just how good I am at my job. Now, the first rule is that you can choose whether or not you will take this question, but if you choose not to, then you fail the exam." He sent a glare at the poor boy that made to speak, instantly silencing him. "Don't like it? Don't care about you! Second rule is that if you fail this question, you are banned from Chuunin Exams for life!" He took a deep breath, knowing what would happen, and predictably many people made to shout. "SILENCE!" He yelled, using his 'aura of the dark lord' ability to quieten everything. "As I said; I don't give a fuck if you don't like it! It's just your bad luck that I am the examinations proctor his year." Another glare reinforced his points.

Now, Naruto wasn't someone to give praise or respect easily, he called the Hokage 'old man' for crying out loud, but this time, he had to admit; the man knew how to terrify them! Even he, Naruto, felt fear and uncertainty creep into him, and he had mouthed off at Zabuza! Looking to his right, seeing poor little Hinata shaking, he sighed. Time to bring out the crazies again!

Well, now that he thought about it, it wasn't so bad. So, he took a deep breath.

"INFIDEL! You bear not Orange, the Ramen has not granted you their exquisite taste and The Log has renounced youuu!" He yelled, pointing at a blinking Ibiki. "Repent! Repent at once I say! Oh, they speak to me! They talk to me! You are a liar, INFIDEL! The Log does not stand by your tactics of fear and terror! Repent! REPEEEENT!" He screamed, leg on his desk, looking just as insane as... well, every time he was alone. "Oh, the Ramen talks to me! They say you wear pink underwear! Shame on you! SHAME! SHAAAME!" Now the whole class was laughing and Ibiki was having a hard time holding down even his own chuckles. "The Log speaks once more! It says that I need no Chuunin to behold my dreams! A world united in The Orange's glow, The Ramen's taste and The Log's Loggedness! They have spoken! This is the Truth! The Absolute Truth! Rejoice for The Trinity has spoken!" Then he just fell right back to his seat, hands clenched together, speaking made-up words as prayers.

Three particular Gennin wondered if it really had been better to get some ear-plugs, despite the nature of their skills. Anything was better than hearing those... those... those sounds coming out of the blonde's mouth! It was like a blasphemy against reality itself!

"...Cthulu Iagh! Iagh! Iagh!"

Still, Naruto's cries of infidels, logs, orange and ramen were enough to make the people calm down, the dark aura that Ibiki had unleashed on them broken. Some even began to think more clearly; what if they failed Konoha's exams? They would get tested in their own countries! Besides, did they really have to be chuunin to get to their dreams? Ibiki himself was amused by the whole turn of events. Fine then, if that's the way it was... "No more leavers? Well, if that's the case, all who remain here... Pass!"

...aaand cue cries of disbelief, joy, question etcetera etcetera...

"SILENCE YOU IDIOTS!" Ibiki's voice boomed, instantly demanding respect and quiet. Except for desperate screaming of pain and suffering, but there was none of them there, unfortunately. "Yes, you all pass, do you even know why? Just fucking luck! Luck that helped you choose the right answer! Pathetic, you're not halfway to being proper chuunin so shut up, sit down AND LISTEN FOR A FUCKING CHANGE!" He barked at them, making the few who had stood up in complaints sit back down with an audible 'thud'. "When you are given a mission, you do NOT have the right to refuse. You cannot back down from your enemy, regardless of danger! You have to go through, survive and protect your own village! But, this test was also about your intellect; no matter how strong you are, if you can't learn anything about your enemy, the weakest gennin will have your collective asses!" He then untied his bandana, revealing numerous scars on his bald head, torture scars. "This is what happens when you act like idiots. Use your brains and walk boldly, yet tread softly! This is the first step to becoming chuunin!"

"Awww, does it mean we get cool scars and stuff when we become a chuunin, or is it just for jounin? What about tattoos?" Guess who piped up, getting a grin from Ibiki, though whether it was bloodthirsty, proud or downright murderous, it wasn't exactly clear.

"Oh, I'm sure I could get you a few, even if you're a gennin, brat." He snarked, getting a toothy grin in reply. "Now, as you have passed this part of the exam, most likely due to sheer, dumb luck or more guts than brains, get ready for your second exam. It will weed out the children from the adults. It should start right about... now." He said, having known the second examiner's penchant for flashiness.

And of course for having an ANBU cast a genjutsu on said examiner so she would show up exactly when he wanted her.

Just then, something impacted a window, shattering it, and then seemed to explode open, four kunai pinning the corners of a huge black cloth on the blackboard, reading "Introducing the sexy and single, second Chuunin Exams proctor, Mitarashi Anko-sama!" Next thing everyone knew, a poof of smoke revealed the form of a truly sexy, if vulgar, woman with brown eyes, violet hair and gorgeous body. Unfortunately for most 'virgin boys' (Sasuke and Naruto not included), she only wore a short miniskirt, a fishnet top, metal shin guards, a trenchcoat and... well, just that really.

Kiba experienced a full octave drop in his voice. And a near dangerous loss of blood.

Akamaru just sighed on his pet's head.

Naruto on the other hand? He took out his test paper, scribbled a nine and held it over his head, shadow clones mimicking his actions only with different scores.

"Eh, a six?" Anko whined, catching on to the blonde's antics. Oh, she loved guys like this! She quickly sat down before said clone, leaning forward and letting him see more of her body. "I'm sure we could... work out a better score... m-a-s-t-e-r?" She whispered in her best, sultry voice, which is in fact very effective.

The clone quickly took down his score, turned the paper around and put a 1 before the nine, now reading '19/10'.

The puple haired examiner smiled and placed her hands over her bust dramatically, sparing an amused look at the glaring Hyuuga next to her, "Oh my, is this for me? Why thank you!" Then she leapt off the desk, landing next to a sighing Ibiki and grinned widely. "Call me in a couple of years, stud, I'd love to teach you a few things." Then, like a switch, she turned from seductively-playfull to murderingly-playfull. "Well, if you survive, if any of you survive, because the next test is going to cut you down by at least half!" She gave everyone a gleefully sadistic look and hopped on the window sill. "Follow me and quickly. You snooze you loose, suckers!" The next moment she was gone, laughing as the poor gennin tripped over themselves to catch up to her.

Oh, beautiful chaos, how she loved it! Chaos, Chaos undivided!

Anko's laughter scared more than a few people, but only made Sasuke and Naruto grin.

In the end, Anko and her minions... err, entourage... ehm, subjects... umm... following mass of chuunin hopefulls, landed next to a large forest, separated from the rest of the world by a huge fence. On a nearby sign, the words 'Training Ground 44 - FORBIDDEN'.

"Welcome to your new examination area! For those of you who can't read, it's Training Ground Fourty-Four. Also known as the Forest of Death. The name's more literal than you think. Because in here, you will have a pretty darn good chance of dieing!" She grinned at them hungrily. "Yes, some of you will die, spilling all this beautiful, tasty, lovely blood, oh, how I wish I could be there with you..." She even moaned at her own descriptions, successfully making several gennin look green.

Naruto couldn't help but agree; he wondered what blood ice cream tastes like.

"Now, since there's that chance of dieing, you're gonna have to sign these papers, saying that if you kick the bucket it's your own damn fault for being pathetic, so Konoha doesn't get suit by your crying mommies and daddies. After you hand in each form, your team will get a scroll, one of a pair. One is labled Earth, the other Heaven. You need both scrolls to advance as well as a full party of three. If even one of you can't reach the tower in the middle of the Forest in five days time, well, you better find your own way out 'cause no one's coming to save your sorry asses. Now, keep in mind the time limit and needing both scrolls, however you can't open any of these scrolls until you get to the tower, understood? If you do... well, let's just say that the tigers, snakes, giant spiders and giant bears here will have an extra lunch without having to chase you down. Final piece of advice; Don't. Die."

Sufficiently creeped out, scared witless and nauseus by the jounin, the hopeful chuunin made lines to get their death release forms and scroll, though unsurprisingly many of them chose to leave the exam right there and then.

Soon, Team Seven was standing in front of a gate, Sasuke hiding the scroll amongst his own supplies. Naruto had quickly agreed with the plan; he knew Sasuke was smarter than him, he must have had a reason to do this, right? Only, Naruto kneeled quickly, calling the other two.

The onlooking chuunin found himself staring surprised at an extremely precise map of the Forest Of Death, complete with the few gorges, lakes and even small hills it had.

"Alright, listen up, I know both of you are smarter than me, you even bother to think, I don't," He gave them a grin that caused the other two to laugh and roll their eyes. "But here, I have an advantage. I've been here before, quite a few times, and lemme tell you, there's a lot of problems ahead. Giant leeches, giant spiders, giant tigers, hell there's giant mosquitoes, that are going to eat us alive if we give them half a chance. So, we need to have constant lookouts, no exceptions." He had quickly turned grim as he added small details here and there. "I've probably gone over the entire place looking for more species to add to my pretties, there's a treasure trove in there, so I know how hard it can be in there, and it's hell, trust me. Food's not an issue; if something glows, don't eat it. If something's red or yellow or black, don't eat it. If something still moves, stab it until it's dead. I once tried to hunt down a giant rabbit; the bastard almost ripped my head off my shoulders." He ignored the incredulous looks he got. "Sasuke, the tower the crazy lady spoke of is here." He marked it with a circle. "We're here." He marked another with an 'X'. "The easiest route to the tower is this." He drew a jagged line. "Not the shortest, but you avoid a couple giant spider nests and you go around the giant leeches." Sakura now looked ready to vomit. "Imagine leeches the size of your legs. Yes, I do think we should go around them. Now, on the first night in, I'll work on making you some maps so you can navigate. Other than that... well, you have the brains, I have the chakra."

"U-umm... Sasuke-kun?" Sakura hesitated to put an idea forth, he was still the boy she crushed on, she couldn't hope to know better than him, right? "M-Maybe we could... take the shortest route to the Tower and camp there? We... we could, of course, take on any team we meet until there, but since we have Naruto, who knows the area, we could be there without much trouble even though everyone else would be tired. And... and... well, it's a individual-team event, but maybe we could work together with another Konoha team? Like... Like Ino's or Hinata's team?"

Sasuke 'hn'ed quietly and nodded. It was an adequate plan, for sure. "Anything else to add, Naruto?" He used his friend's name rather than insult to show how serious he was.

"Yes, one last thing; keep to the fucking trees and away from webs. Giant leeches move as fast as a large snail, so we can outrun them, and giant spiders stick to their nests, so we may at most have to face a couple of them, rather than a hundred. The tigers and bears though, and just about every big predator here, stick mostly to the ground. Only come down to forage for food, water and if the branches you're on break. No other reason."

The chuunin proctor quickly informed them that the doors would open soon and Naruto wiped out the map he had made on the ground. Team Seven stood by the doors when Anko's voice echoed loudly over the speakers; "Chuunin Exams, second phase, begin... NOW!" And the doors opened wide.

Two steps into the forest, Team Seven had already leapt for the trees, moving quickly and silently, as Kakashi had trained them.

"Hop, hop, hoppity-hop." Mumbled Naruto as his team leapt from branch to branch, only occasionally taking detours. For having not been there for a few months now (and considering how quickly everything seemed to change there, it was as if it was alive -which it was), his map was pretty darn accurate.

Suddenly, Sasuke leapt to the ground, panting. Weird, Naruto thought, Sasuke might not be nowhere near his own endurance, but he was pretty darn tough. So why... "Alright, let's take a break, all this jumping around like rabbits has tired me out."

Rabbits. Of course; the signal his team had made after their first encounter with Zabuza. Hidden enemy watching. Had their leader detected something out of the ordinairy?

"Naruto, can you get us something to eat? A quick breakfast, if you please?" Naturally, Sasuke would never ask Naruto to bring them food, even if they needed it despite carrying food capsules on them (as Kakashi had deemed it withing acceptable 'nice deed of the month' paramaters to tell them to prepare for a few days of hiking). No, there was another reason... Ah, of course!

"Sure! I think I saw some nice, thick, juicy mushrooms a few trees back! They glowed all pretty too! Hang on tight, I'm gonna get'em!" And he purposely stumbled all over himself to get the 'glowy mushrooms'.

In on the trick, Sakura leapt at Sasuke, cooing at him. "Aww, Sasuke-kun! How smart of you to send the idiot off! Really, he's so worthless! He always gets in our way just when things are going to get good!" She sighed dreamily onto his chest. Though that wasn't nearly fake, it had been a good chance to cop a feel, take that Ino-buta! "It should take him some time, the idiot, I'm sure we can spend our time very enjoyably until then..." She tried to seduce him (again not that faked), but she felt his muscles tense and sighed inside. Always interrupted at the good part, shannaro!

Less than a second later, a bunch of kunai had been sent at them... Or where they used to be anyway, as the pair quickly split up, each going to opposing directions.

It was a bad match-up really; the attacking genning were from Ame, a place of dreary rain and flat lands. This was Konoha, a place of bright greens and tall trees. The attacking duo had no idea how to camouflage themselves effectively to hide from shinobi who have trained to fight in those conditions. A few minutes later, an unconscious and two tied up gennin, all of the same team, had been tossed into the clearing, Team Seven glaring at them.

"Did you really think you could have hidden from us? I knew of your little circle genjutsu after the second time I passed the same tree, Sakura probably felt your chakra and Naruto... Well, Naruto can run the entire day without getting tired. Now, where is your scroll, and be quick about it. There's a giant spider colony here, you wouldn't want to be left behind now, would you?" Sasuke smirked at them.

"Y-you wouldn't dare!" Their apparent leader said, not sounding too sure of that. "Y-you Konoha ninja don't have the guts to do it!"

"Ah, don't bother with'em Sasuke," Spoke Naruto, stopping the 'leader'. "I already got it. Let's go!"

And as the team leapt off, they heard the desperate cry of help behind them. Only Naruto sighed and tossed a kunai back at them. "What? I couldn't leave them to die! We're way ahead of them too; the kunai landed about a dozen or so meters above them. It'll take them a while to get it and by then we'll be gone. Now, left or right? Left's some leeches but right's longer and will put us over some giant wolves."

"And ahead?"

"Ahead, my dear Sakura-chan, is a field of mushrooms that release toxic fumes. Beyond that, there's several giant wasp nests. And after that is a small field with man-eating plants. No, we do not go ahead."

Sakura gulped and nodded. In the end, they went right, but not before sending some Naruto-clones to make tracks towards the left.

Both scrolls were now safe in the team's pockets, Naruto had placed their second one in his pouch while promising Sakura their third if they got it, as they leapt.

Then, Fate decided to toy with them.

A strong gust of wind, too strong to be naturally developing, blasted the team. While Sakura and Sasuke had been lucky enough to be on a tree branch, Naruto was not so; he was caught mid-jump and was sent tumbling back.

After breaking several branches, Naruto finally managed to find the earth beneath his feet, or well, around his body as he rolled several times to absorb as much of the impact as he could.

"Well, ain't that grand." He drawled in a way too similar to Sasuke. His eyes closed a bit and he focused on the chakra-charged leaves he had given his team. Ah, good, not too far away, nothing near them either. Now, let's see how to get there... And could someone stop that damn hissing!

Wait, hissing?

"Oh shit!" Turning around to see a giant snake reel back to snap at him, Naruto's mind turned to Kakashi's training.

Namely that time that his sensei told him that a wind moving in spirals generated more power than going straight. That had given birth to Naruto's sole movement technique. "YIKES!" And he was off! Pumping chakra to his calves and feet, turning into a powerful gust of wind and spinning it counter-clockwise (he had found it made the spin stronger somehow), Naruto was tossed high into the air, spinning vertically as he went, the wind making a small cyclone under him.

Of course, it didn't give him flight, but he had leapt just over the damn snake's jaws and onto a tree branch.

"Damn, giant snakes too? I hate snakes!" He whined before leaking his chakra onto the branch he was standing on and right into the leaves around him. Then, ram, ox, bird, dragon and the leaves came alive, gathering around his clenched right fist. "Back the fuck of, slime-head! Konoha Ninpo: Ha no Nagare (Leaf Ninja Art: Leaf Stream)!" And he punched, sending the torrent of wind-enhanced, hardened leaves washing down on the serpent, spinning in a spiral, as if in a funnel.

"HISSSS!" The snake reeled back, its face cut up in many places, eyes bleeding and blind, even its long, forked tongue had been cut apart. Deciding that staying any longer would be greatly detrimental to its health, and resolving to warn the others about the jungle-friend monkey, it decided that discretion is the better part of survival. It quickly vanished in a puff of smoke.

"Smoke? Wait, that's summons! Oh UNHOLY FUCKING HELL!" Naruto yelled, knowing that only one person had the legenedary snake summoning ability. A ninja considered as a genius and a prodigy in one. A ninja insane, deranged and yet brilliant.

Someone he would have loved to meet, were he not an evil, depraved bastard.

One of the legendary Sannin, Konoha's strongest three-person team...

Orochimaru.

And where Orochimaru was... Well, Naruto wasn't exactly sure what Orochimaru did (he had never talked to the man), but he did not want to know. Because if Orochimaru was there... then things were not going to be nice.

So, channeling chakra to his feet like Sasuke had shown him, Naruto leapt forward, features contorted by his worry for his friend. The exams were unimportant right now; he had first to make sure Sasuke survived!

'Hurry! Hurry! Hurry goddamn you, stupid legs!' He urged himself, the place going by in a blur. A spider made to jump at him and was summarily kicked off into a tree without though. It was pulverized on contact.

Leaves swirled around Naruto as he let his chakra flow freely, connecting with every single leaf around him, filling it with his chakra so he could make room for more.

At last, the branches opened up to reveal Sasuke doubling in pain as someone had planted his fist into his kidneys. When that someone pulled back for another blow, Naruto had had enough.

He leapt in front of his friends, hands splayed to the sides, leaves quickly gathering in front of him, sticking with each other and hardening.

The thud of the fist was not the only sign of the blow; Naruto felt his arms strain as he held the shield back.

"Oh, now that's an interesting jutsu. I wonder, how did you get past my snake?" Asked an effeminate voice that had Naruto's hair standing at the cold threat in it.

"Konoha ninpo: Konoha no Tate... You're Orochimaru, aren't you?" He shook in his sandals, for sure, but he knew he had to buy some time for Sasuke to recover. Kidney blows suck.

"Me, Orochimaru? Now, where did you get that idea from, boy?" He seemed genuinely curious, even arrogantly ready to launch into a self-important speech. Well, he was a villain.

"You used a summoned snake. Granted, it slowed me for a second or two, but yeah, it was a summon. The only ninja who summons snakes is Orochimaru, and I doubt a gennin, or hell, even a jounin, would manage to get one of Orochimaru's most prized techniques and live. Either you're Orochimaru, or you're on his level of skill, or you're one of his subordinates. I'd rather think you're Orochimaru, you feel too... off..."

The man laughed, and gods, it was an evil laugh, it was a wrong laugh, it sounded like it scraped on Naruto's ears. At least, behind the blonde, Sasuke had recovered, though he stayed doubled over to hide that fact.

"Yes, yes, I am Orochimaru. Are you frightened little boy? Well, you definitely should be. Especially if you keep standing in my way. I just want Sasuke-kun behind you."

"I'd call you a gay pedophile, but I doubt you'd take it as an insult." Naruto snarked before his eyes got serious. "So, instead... I'm just gonna do THIS!" He yelled, snapping his hands forward, breaking his shield to individual leaves and turning the chakra from earth-mimicking to straight wind-type. An instant later, the stream of leaves had been launched at the still smirking man.

Both Sasuke and Naruto, the latter with a dozen clones spawning as well, leapt away, claring the place just in case. Good thing too, as the Orochimaru they had been talking to had turned to mud and another had appeared melding out from the earth.

"Impressive instincts. I did expect them from Sasuke-kun, but to get them from you as well, Naruto-kun? My, my, seems my spies aren't as good as they think they are."

While the two boys fought for their lives, Sakura shivered away from them. She had barely even recovered from just a look Orochimaru had sent them, so strong in ki that it had made them hallucinate and see their deaths over and over again!

She saw Naruto launch one of his Ha no Nagare, many clones at the same time, making a deluge of leaves all around, shaving parts off trees, and yet Orochimaru didn't even seem fazed, or even hit!

She saw Sasuke-kun bind Orochimaru in wires and then set him on fire with an awesome fire jutsu called the Fire Dragon, and all Orochimaru did was take off his melted face and smirk, unhurt!

Nothing they did could hurt him! Nothing they did even annoyed him!

Punch, kick, flurry of knife slashes, kick, kick, leap and drown the place in fire, popping of Naruto's clones, grunts of pain and exertion and above it all, above all this chaos...

Orochimaru's laughter. Orochimaru's taunting. Orochimaru's smirk. Orochimaru.

Sakura quickly ran to Naruto when he was kicked down and fell right next to her. Her stomach clenched, one eye was closed, his left arm was clutched to his stomach, as if to hold it there, and he was beaten black and blue.

In front of them, not even half a dozen meters yet so far away, Sasuke was screaming in pure agony, Orochimaru having somehow bitten him.

"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Naruto got up, yet again, and charged Orochimaru, only managing to pull Sasuke away from that monster while it laughed.

But he didn't get away himself, he was grabbed from his hurting arm, eliciting a grunt of pain, which was scaring Sakura since she had never seen Naruto so much as flinch in pain. Then, with another mocking comment about incompetence and 'being useless to him', Orochimaru slammed his palm on Naruto.

This time, Naruto didn't grunt or whimped.

He screamed!

Then he fell, Orochimaru kicking him over to his team. "Well, I guess that's the limit of your power. Might as well kill you, rid Sasuke-kun of the company of such weaklings." He sneered, revealing for once what must surely lay beneath that smirking facade, a monstrous mien that made Sakura shiver.

But Naruto wasn't out just yet. Barely aware of himself, barely even cognizant he would admit, but he hadn't given up! His chakra was all wonky, but it was still there, still fucking there!

It took a momentum feat of will, but Naruto got up again, wobbly and unsteady, but still standing.

"Naruto..." Sakura's breathless whisper just reached his eyes and elicited one of his foxy, smartass, confident grins. As if to say 'everything's gonna be fine, Sakura-chan, just trust me'.

Just like always.

Then the pinkette noticed something in his hand, a weird fruit, looking like a large, bright, violet grape. Then he was eating it with swift bites.

That's when the chakra came. Bursting around like Naruto, potency and quantity making up for quality, a visible tower of chakra, a flame that covered half the clearing, all of it centered around the blonde gennin.

A blonde gennin with three clones appearing behind him, grabbing the team quickly and securing them, all except Naruto. Their summoner had instead fallen to a handseal terribly familiar to Sakura, the handseal of his first ever jutsu.

Orochimaru, confident in his skill, merely looked on amused. Soon the seal would set, anyway, and the blonde would be out like a light. Might as well see what stupidity the boy thinks it can use to hurt him. If its enough, he might even convert the brat in some other way.

"Konoha Ninpo... Konohagakure no jutsu..." Naruto spoke between coughs, but he made it.

Leaves were ripped from the trees around him, a cloud of green, complementing those he had used before, saturating the world around him with his brilliant blue chakra.

Then something happened that Sakura hadn't seen. The right hand fell from where it was place, just above the crown of the head, never loosing its half-ram placement, and came to rest upside-down, palms touching, right onto his left.

The world erupted into violent green, ripping white and blades that cut the world!

A high-pitched sound, like a thousand shuriken, spinning through the air filled Sakura's ears, for but a second before her world became a blur.

Orochimaru wasn't so lucky.

He had barely heard the gennin's words, before the world became chaos.

"Haton: Senhaken (Leaf Style: Thousand Leaf Blades)."

It was as if thousands of blades, screeching piercingly, howling fearsomely, descended to this place of the world. A green maelstrom of blades that turned trees to sawdust and stones to dust.

It only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough.

When Orochimaru re-emerged from his hiding place, he looked around in unbridled awe.

It was gone. The entire clearing, trees wider than two men are tall, rocks the size of small houses, they were all gone. They had been cut to pieces so small, to dust and grain.

The blonde had rendered the entire place a deadland. In a sphere, a wide ovoid to be exact, like an egg... it had all... been sliced apart.

Looking down at the sudden pain on his left arm, his eyes widened. 'That boy... managed to actually... hurt me?'

In another part of the Forest, far away from their almost-killer, a pink-haired girl was dragging her two unconscious team mates under a hollowed tree, praying beyond hope that they would be alright.

A/N: New Leaf Style Maestrom chapters, now with 25% more crack!

Well, this one took a bit of time to write, and I got few reviews for the previous one, could that be connected?

As always, I pose the question; Does anyone want to adopt this story?

But if not, well, keep up reviewing, if you could. And when allows you, since it seems that there are quite a few problems with logging in lately, aren't they? I wonder why, it's so annoying!

Also I'm looking for a new outfit for Naruto... something with loose sleeves and pants for the third part of the exams and after... Any ideas/pics? Would really appreciate them. Am thinking of green-camo as base color, with pants and a long-sleeved vest, with a beige or brown-camo (forest camo with more browns) shirt underneath, hiding the light armor he wears. Finishing touches with a wide ninja pouch that covers the entire small of the back (where Sakura had her tanto), small bands on his arms just under the shoulder joint and an indian-inspired background for the cloth of his headband... Then again, I was never known for my fashion sense, in fact, I've admitted that I'll probably show up in my own wedding in old blue-jeans, plain black T-shirt and black or brown full-time boots...

Here's the Jutsu list for this chapter:

Konoha Ninpo: Ha-ken (Leaf Ninja Art: Leaf Sword)

Cost: C, Control: B, Rank: A

One of Naruto's most versatile leaf-based jutsu, the Ha-ken is an excellent display of how with a little bit of power, you can go a long way. It appears as a sword composed of leaves, complete with a wide handguard or basket hilt to protect the hand, it tends to have a straight blade made out of several layers of leaves. The leaves themselves are enhanced with chakra, making them hard and resistant to damage, while the wind-chakra that flows through the jutsu gives it a good edge. However, its best feature lies in its unstable form; the user can easily extend it and turn it into a whip, surprising enemies with the sudden increase in range, or dulling the edge to use it to grab from a protrusion, like a real whip, and swing somewhere else. Additionally, because the weapon is held by chakra, its form changes to suit the user's needs subconsciously; the weight and form change constantly to make up for any possible inexperience the user has. Because of this, even if the jutsu itself deals relatively little damage, it is still considered A-ranked out of the sheer number of uses it has.

Konoha Ninpo: Ha no Nagare (Leaf Ninja Art: Leaf Stream)

Cost: C, Control: C, Rank: C

The Leaf Stream jutsu is very straightforward, but highly effective none the less. The user gathers leaves in front of their hand, or other major chakra point, and spin them into a spiral before sending it forward. Depending on the amount of leaves, chakra used and charge time, it can easily rival a B-rank jutsu, as the leaves easily carry wind-chakra edges. Individual cuts, despite their large numbers, are relatively small however, so several Doton defencive jutsu can outright cancel it.

Konoha Ninpo: Konoha no Tate (Leaf Ninja Art: Leaf Shield)

Cost: B, Control: B, Rank: B

A defencive jutsu utilizing chakra-hardened leaves protected by a wind current that deflects fire and lightning attacks, placed in several layers of dense web-like formations. It is mobile and can move according to the user's motions and can easily deflect most weapons with ease; even if one leaf is cut, another ten will take up its place, thickening and thinning as the user needs. However, the shield itself may be able to stop an attack, but the user still suffers damage if their physical strength isn't enough to hold it back. Thus, it is ill-advised to use this jutsu to defend against a large attack, such as a boss-sized summon.

Haton: Senhaken (Leaf Style: Thousand Leaf Blades)

Cost: B, Control: B, Rank: A

One of the 'big guns' in the leaf-style arsenal, the Senhaken makes right to the A-rank jutsu family. The user spins leaves around him, much like the Konohagakure, but does not allow them to come within a certain, small range of him. The reason is simple; as soon as the last handsign is made, each leaf is surrounded by a large wind blade, extending out to several inches. This usually means that whatever is near the user is sliced and diced in an instant. Depending on the amount of chakra used, this jutsu can change an entire battlefield in an instant. Due to the high chakra cost requirements, it is rarely sustained for more than a few seconds; few things last as long anyway and no enemy would enter the threatened area after it is used. A downside is that, thanks to the focus required to use it, the user, and therefore the technique itself, cannot move from their spot.

If you have any ideas for more jutsu, feel free to send them over; I'll cite you in.

Visiting Naruto's Greenhouse Scene Three:

Naruto holds more than the Warehouse to his name however.

A mere twenty feet away is the Glasshouse, a smaller and shorter creation of plastic and glass, letting as much light as possible go in, perfect for plants in need of more sunlight and warmth.

At first, merely the fact that it belonged to the Demon Brat had a few drunken civilians (and occasional ninja) throw stones at it, hoping it were destroyed. However, the blonde not only didn't seem to mind, but his irritating smile sapped their will to destroy the greenhouse; they were simply too disheartened after the first three years.

But were an architect to pay attention, they would notice that the glass panes and thick iron-and-plastic supports were made to protect the integrity not only from outside forces but also from ground-level internal ones.

And were someone to really pay attention to the plantlife inside, they would have noticed that, even with no wind, many of these plants still moved.

Against their will, and better judgement and many complaints, Team Seven found themselves close to that Warehouse of Naruto, though Kakashi had to threaten Naruto with a sword version of Sennen Goroshi to escape being dragged into the concrete building.

Even so though, Kakashi, and the rest of his team, couldn't restrain a shiver when they entered the veritable jungle that was Naruto's Glasshouse. Even Sakura, the one most interested in flowers and herbs of her team, even she could not help but feel intimidated. It was almost like killing intent, or more like 'I-want-to-eat-you' intent.

Sasuke fared only slightly better; he had several katon jutsu he could utilize to get the bloody hell out of that green hell.

And how green it was! There were no trees and only a few shrubs in the entire building; most of the plantlife was in the forms of vivid green vines and emerald-green leaves, only a few fleshy-red flowers littering the place.

But even the sweet scent of nectar couldn't shake away the feeling of a predator looking at you and licking his chops.

Naruto whistled a happy tune as he dragged a large sack of his special 'fertilizer' for his pretties. He loved them so! And they loved him back! Oh, how happy he was to be amongst them again!

Giggle. Yesss my pretties, I have good food with me. Giggle-giggle.

Kakashi and Sasuke were smart enough to stick together, 'coincidentally' looking over each other's shoulders, but Sakura... she wasn't that wise. She was curious; she knew Naruto cultivated Purple Irises and she wanted to see them! Now.

Patience had never been a large part of the pinkette.

So, instead of doing the logical and sensible thing in an area full of predators... She wandered off and away from her team.

But no one paid attention to her, mostly because A) Naruto was too busy hugging his 'pretties' and B) because Kakashi and Sasuke were shocked to find him being hugged back!

"N-Naruto! G-Get away from that plant! It's dangerous!" Cried out an alarmed Kakashi, watching his student get wrapped around by vines.

The gennin instead laughed merrily. "Oh what are you saying, Kakashi-sensei! They just like hugs!" More and more vines were wrapped around him, shaking him left and right but not once did he look worried.

"SASUKE-KUN! HEEELP!" Came Sakura's screech of panic and everyone turned to see the pink-haired girl high in the air, rope-like vines wrapped around her body, holding her limbs apart. Many more waved in the air around the panicking girl, her clothes already sticking to the skin thanks to the nectar the flower-like openings at the end of the vines produced.

"Oh, Sakura-chan! My pretties seem to really like you!" Replied Naruto, who's vines were far less wild than his team mate's.

"W-What are you talking about Naru-OH! IT'S IN!" She squealed, and was there a blush on her face?

It was right about then that Sasuke's nose exploded in a nosebleed and Kakashi decided to free his female student- before his brain had time to melt down at the sight. He would forever mourn the fact that Naruto didn't escape with them.

Who knew what those monstrocities would do to his poor, poor student? Oh, the shame, that Minato-sensei's son would end up like that...

Inside the Glasshouse, Naruto was rolling on the floor laughing while mercilessly tickled by the vines. His friends were pranksters like him, only with a far more perverted side. The look on Kakashi's face!

Some day, he'd have to tell the man about his dryads, but first he'd have to teach the girls how to tell 'eatable flesh' from 'non-eatable flesh'. Until then, he would be content to be hugged by the rather frisky human-looking plants.

Who said having a green thumb was a bad thing?


Today, on this 9/6/2012, I, Soulblazer87, do hereby leave this site, possibly forever.

I shall not update this, or any other story.

I shall leave them on, however. Should you desire to follow my stories, do so in my new site of residence: www dot yourfanfiction dot com.