I do not own Naruto. The only character I own is Yami. At least, for now.


NARUTO

We spent the next hour in a free for all against each other, fighting non-stop with no rules. By the end of it, I'd learned that Gaara was not about to be hit in any way whatsoever - the earthen stuff that had blocked Shino blocked all of us as well. Sasuke had his own little spin on the Intercepting Fist style, implementing grapples and swift movements the Uchiha never normally used, and Yami... he was absolutely brutal when it came to taijutsu. His style was one based on almost pure offense, only dodging or blocking when doing so would set him up to deliver a counter or follow up strike, filled with swift, almost acrobatic maneuvers that seemed to be more befitting of a demon's fighting style than a human's, tending to role with the punches, taking the strikes in and using their momentum to fuel his next strike. For the most part kept his hands open and clawed like the Inuzuka clan, striking with the palm of his hand and forcing whoever fought him into grapples that were impossible to simply break out of, but when it suited him, he put the bloody knuckles that had put Kiba in the hospital to good use. He also had a habit of going for his kunai, constantly remembering at the last second that no weapons were to be used before switching things up with an elbow to the gut or a kick to the face (note to self; feet like leather hurt when they connect in a kick.)

Coated from head to toe in sweat, the four of us leaned against the wall of the academy, breathing in deep gasps as we each drank gratefully from a water bottle Sasuke had brought. Yami grinned, "that was the most fun I've had in a while. I always enjoy a good sparring match."

"Speak for yourself," Gaara huffed, patting his gourd like it was a precious memento, "I personally prefer long ranged combat. You get hurt less often."

"Coming from the guy who doesn't have a scratch on him," Sasuke pointed out, "none of us could even get through the stuff that keeps showing up to guard you. What's up with that, anyways?"

"It's sand," Yami stated before Gaara could speak. Gaara glared at him as he continued, "while Gaara has a special ability to control sand to begin with, there's this odd little thing that happens whenever he's about to get hit. The sand rises up to protect him, independent of his will. It would show up even if he didn't want it to."

I tilted my head slightly, "you mean like a kekkei genkai?"

"The way it is with the Sharingan?" Sasuke asked.

Gaara put his hand to his chin in thought as he stared up at the clouds, then nodded, "kind of, but this is a bit more complicated."

Sasuke smirked, "so what is it if it isn't a kekkei genkai? Some kind of special power given to you by the mighty Log?"

Both Yami and Gaara flinched, and the latter, after some hesitation, gave an answer, "I... it's a personal subject. Maybe if I come to trust you later on, I'll tell you, but for now..."

"Just leave it alone," Sasuke and I finished at the same time.

Gaara nodded, and we resumed the relaxing silence, resting beneath the tree as we stared up at the clouds.

"Well, looks like you all got a good workout."

I glanced down from the sky to catch sight of a fairly tall boy about the age of thirteen, a small smirk pulling at his lips. His long black hair was pulled back behind his head in a ponytail, and his Konoha headband glinted in the sunlight as he adjusted it slightly. His onyx eyes danced with a certain friendliness few people had, and twin lines ran from the sides of the bridge of his nose across his cheeks, as if they were intentional scars rather than simple birthmarks. He was fairly tall for his age, and wore a simple pair of pants and a shirt, the only things sticking out being his headband, the kunai pouch on his leg, and the Uchiha symbol on the back of his shirt. He took a step forwards, "having fun, Sasuke? I see you've got some new friends."

"Yep! These guys are tough! Nice to know I've got someone at my back. Those fangirls..." the younger Uchiha gave a cold shudder, his face contorting into a face of a mixture of fear and extreme annoyance, "they're so obnoxious!"

Upon seeing the look on Sasuke's face, Yami burst out laughing, rolling around in the dirt and pointing at Sasuke, "I don't believe it! He did it! He pulled it off! He did the Excalibur face!" he gave a long gasp, then continued laughing uncontrollably, finally stopping a few minutes later, "ah, man... that was a good anime."

"Anyways," Sasuke shook his head, "Itachi, you know how you said I could bring some friends along for training today?"

"I did," the boy smirked, obviously the only one able to understand Yami's joke, "and you want to bring them along, right?" he looked us each over, tilting his head slightly. He glanced at Sasuke, "good to see you're making the newcomers feel welcome, Sasuke. And I'm not going to stop you, but you realize that if mom and dad find out about bringing along Naruto, they won't be very happy with you, right?"

"So what? A guy has to learn to make decisions on his own," Sasuke shrugged as we all stood, each of us introducing ourselves to Itachi.

In response, Itachi grinned, "that's exactly what I wanted to hear," he turned, "you guys look hungry. Let's get some lunch, then we'll head out to the training fields."

You know what, Naruto? I think I'm going to like this kid.

So do I, Kirin, I grinned as the others started forwards, me close behind, so do I.


It wasn't long after we'd met Itachi and started up that we'd seen that he was no softy when it came to training. His skill was on par if not above that of a Jonin-level shinobi, and he kept pushing us harder and harder, testing our limits and giving us tips as we went along. By the end of it, we were all on the brink of exhaustion, every one of us ready to drop. All except for Itachi, who hadn't even broken a sweat.

"I'd say that's enough for today," he grinned, "you guys all look like you're out of breath."

"Wh... What are you talking abou-" Yami stumbled, then fell face first on the ground, his legs giving out from underneath him as his eyes shut. Almost instantly, he was snoring, and Gaara gave a smirk.

"He suffers from insomnia, just like I do," he explained, the sand gathering up the napping boy and hoisting him above the ground, "but I think it's just because he's got way too much energy."

"No wonder he collapsed then," Itachi shook his head, "now come on. Let's all head home."


As soon as we entered the door, I felt myself almost float over to my bed and collapse on the softness, the muffled sounds of Yami and Gaara hitting the hay following soon afterwards. My eyes forced themselves shut, and I found myself descending into the blackness of sleep.