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"Creature Talking"

"Character Talking"

'Character Thoughts'

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Chapter 6: Academy Days

"You ready bro?" Naruto asked, his face completely serious. Byakuya nodded gravely as sweat beaded down their faces. "Remember, if we get caught, we'll be dead before we even get to the Academy."

Byakuya's expression shifted to horror. If they failed in this mission, their lives, were over.

"Let's go wild," Naruto whispered as he disappeared in a Shunpo. Byakuya quickly was in pursuit as they dashed through the building, almost too fast to see. Once they managed to get through the twisted maze-like alleyways, they quickly got to work.

"Did you bring the stuff?" Byakuya whispered.

Naruto nodded as he showed Byakuya a bag. They opened it, and readied for the mission to truly begin. Naruto slowly opened the bag to reveal... spray paint and various other items.

The two brothers grinned evilly as their silent laughter could've echoed through the entire 2nd Division Barracks.

Soifon suddenly shivered as she felt a feeling foreboding settle over her. The 2nd Division was in for a surprise when they woke up. The power of the Dynamic Duo was about to be unleashed!

Naruto and Byakuya gasped as they finally made it back to the Kuchiki Compound. They grinned at each other tiredly as they gave each other a high five.

"That was a piece of cake," Byakuya exclaimed. "I can't believe how lax their security is!"

"They probably didn't think anyone was stupid enough to infiltrate them," Naruto remarked smugly. "Serves that 4th Seat right for insulting us."

Byakuya scratched his chin. "Yeah, what was her name again? Soi-, Soi- something, right?"

Naruto shrugged tired.

"Well you two are clearly stupid enough to do something like that," a voice remarked sarcastically.

The brothers leaped a foot in the air. They slowly turned around. "Oh, it's just you Hisana," Naruto said, his hand still on his heart. "Geez don't scare us like that. We though you were someone else." He paused for a minute, then a mischievous grin slid on his face. "However, feel free to surprise Byakuya whenever you want to," he quipped.

"Shut Up!" Byakuya shouted, his face completely red.

Hisana had been staying with the Kuchiki's ever since they had found her, three days ago. They all studied Shunpo together, and though all the elder's were against it, Ginrei managed to make a compromise with them. Hisana would only stay at the Kuchiki Manor when they weren't at the Shinigami Academy. They learned that Hisana also had a decent amount of spiritual energy, and she had left the 78th District to become a Soul Reaper. They still didn't know everything about her, but they were sure that they would find out in time.

"What exactly are you two up to at 1:00 midnight?" she asked curiously, eyebrows raised.

Byakuya and Naruto looked at each other, then nodded. "You'll see in the morning," Byakuya said shyly.

Hisana had already figured out that the Kuchiki brothers were die-hard pranksters, and they couldn't resist returning the favor. They were unlike any nobles she had seen, but she supposed that's what made them so likeable.

Hisana sighed as she put a hand on her forehead.

"You alright?" Byakuya asked, edging closer to her, clearly indecisive on whether he should get any closer.

Hisana smiled at him, causing him to look away in embarrassment. "No, but thanks anyway," she said. "I was just feeling a little lightheaded."

"You should probably go lie down," Naruto offered, his eyes straying to the window, as if he couldn't look her in the eyes. Hisana frowned. It was always like that with Naruto. Whenever she brought up that she wasn't feeling well, he looked away, as if he was ashamed of something. "Plus, you want to be well rested for tomorrow. You can't miss the Shinigami Academy Entrance Exams," Naruto exclaimed, the look on his face now gone. Hisana blinked.

'Maybe I'm just imagining things,' she thought dismissively.

"Alright, I'll do that," she said finally as she headed towards her room. 'Rukia, wherever you are, I hope you are well, and I hope that you have someone looking out for you as well as Naruto and Byakuya look out for me.'

Naruto and Byakuya watched her go. Naruto with something akin to shame, and Byakuya... well it was obvious what he was thinking.

"Well, see ya tomorrow," Naruto said, stretching his arms as he fake-yawned. It had been a long day for both the Kuchiki brothers.

"Okay," Byakuya replied as they headed to their own rooms to sleep... at least for Byakuya. Naruto had other plans for the night, and he didn't want anyone to find out about what he was doing while everyone else was asleep. It was time for him to give his closet a little visit.

He closed the door, and after making sure he was alone, he peered into his closet and moved all his clothes off the closet floor. His forehead dripped sweat as he gently removed the floorboard, and stared at what was underneath. It was... a long curved sheathed daito. The handle was embroiled with white silk with dark blue crossings. Naruto hesitantly gripped the handle, and pulled out. Instantly, Naruto's features changed.

The blade was glossy silver and black with a dragon design on the blade itself. The blunt side was jagged all the way from the first third up to the second third up the blade. It was slightly wider than the handle with no tsuba (guard).

Naruto closed his eyes. He couldn't look himself in the mirror. The last time he had unsheathed his blade, he was completely stupefied, but even now, he couldn't stand the sight of himself.

Long black horns jetted out from the sides of his head, pointing forward. His hair reached his back, and his eyes... his eyes had turned exactly like a hollow's except, they were crimson. He felt the area where the seal used to be, and sure enough... there was nothing to feel. There was a hollow hole. The seal was the only thing keeping his other appearance a secret. However, if he even drew the sword from the sheath, it would be unveiled.

He settled cross-legged on the ground, and placed the nameless sword in his lap. His eyes were shut as he focused, his mind only on one thing. He and Byakuya already knew the concepts behind Jinzen, and knew how to perform it, even when Naruto hadn't gotten his sword yet. He still wasn't sure what to call his sword. He knew for certain that it wasn't a zanpakuto, due to the fact that as soon as he drew it, he transformed into some kind of Hollow Hybrid.

'I'm worried though,' he admitted. 'What if this is my zanpakuto? If that's the case, then my career as a Shinigami is over. I can't possibly amount to anything like that. The Soul Society wouldn't accept a monster as a Soul Reaper.'

"You are not a monster, Naruto," a deep voice boomed.

Naruto opened his eyes as he found himself in his inner world. Since the first time he saw it, it still amazed him. There were lush forests surrounding an entire city, which looked so peaceful and relaxing. The smell of leaves and pine filled the air. A great stone mountain loomed in the distance, carrying six faces which he didn't recognize. He was standing atop a large red tower with the symbol of a leaf on the side.

But, that wasn't all the case this time. Rain hailed from the usually deep blue sky like bullets, covering the entire ground. Dark clouds shadowed overhead, making the usually cheerful place look like something out of a nightmare.

"Naruto, you have gone through this before. Do you still not remember? Your sorrow has made your inner world rain, yet you still don't recall me?

"Like I said last time, I don't know who you are," Naruto shouted over the roar of the wind.

"This sword does not come from me, Naruto. The sword you carry with you now has no spirit of it's own. It is no zanpakuto."

"How do you know that?" Naruto yelled. "And if that's the case, how am I able to talk to you?"

"The bond we share is unlike any other. I am your companion, Naruto, and that will never change. This sword you have carries some of my spiritual energy within it which allows me to communicate with you. It is still your sword after all."

Naruto was getting even more confused by the minute. The voice chuckled at the dubious expression on Naruto's face, as if nostalgic. "It really has been too long, old friend," the voice said sadly. "However, I am forever grateful to you. You rescued me from my hatred, just as you promised. That is your nindo after all."

"What do you mean? What's a nindo?"

"Please Naruto," the voice begged. "The only way you can regain yourself is if you learn my name."

Naruto's eyes narrowed as he saw a great shadow in the distance, looming over the village. He couldn't make out it's shape exactly through the sheets of rain, but he could see something else. Nine Tails flowed behind it gracefully. He felt his eyes born, like something was supposed to be there that wasn't. It seemed too familiar... this comforting shadow.

"As for your friend, I did not mean to distress you by informing you of her condition. My only intention was to help you."

Naruto sighed. "Yeah, I know, and I do appreciate it."

"Time grows short," the voice said urgently. "Dawn will be arriving soon. Naruto, before you depart, I need to tell you. My name is..."

"What was that? I couldn't hear you over the rain," Naruto shouted. "Say it again."

"When the time is right, you will learn my name. Please Naruto, be prepared. Keep yourself alive until you can learn my name."

"Wait! I still have so many questions..."

"Naruto!" Hisana's voice called. Naruto's eyes widened as his crimson eyes locked onto Hisana's horrified gaze...

His blade however... was already sheathed, along with his hollow-like appearance.

"You have a zanpakuto already?!"

Naruto looked away, panicked. She noted the distressed look on his face. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Please Hisana," he begged silently. "Just forget what you saw."

She eyed him curiously. "Why?"

"Just please... don't tell anyone about it."

She sighed. "Things are always complicated with you guys. There must be a good reason for you to hide it, so I won't ask, but I don't like to lie, especially not to Byakuya or Master Ginrei. You all have done so much for me."

"As long as they don't ask, you don't have to tell them anything, right?" Naruto said with a somewhat mischievous expression on his face. His panic was well hidden.

She giggled, but then paused. "Anyway, I wanted to tell you that we're leaving right now."

"Don't tell me," Naruto groaned. "Byakuya's famous 'nobles wake up early saying' huh?"

She nodded, grinning as Naruto proceeded towards the bathroom to freshen up. 'That was close,' he thought, relieved. 'If she had come a second earlier...'

"Oh yeah, hey, Hisana," he called. She looked back at him.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks."


At the Gates of the Kuchiki Compound, Two Hours Later...

"Master's are you certain you won't require the guards company on your journey?" an elder said worriedly.

Naruto and Byakuya stared at him disbelievingly. "Um, no it's all good," Naruto said quickly. The elder frowned at his lack of proper language.

"What my brothers means to say is, thank you for your concern, but we'll be alright without their assistance," Byakuya said, bowing. The Elder smiled at him, before frowning at Naruto again. He smoothly turned and walked away, not sparing them a second glance.

"What's up with him?" Naruto asked, as he cluelessly scratching his back. Byakuya slapped his forehead in exasperation as Hisana laughed. It was clear that though Byakuya was very immature, he had the potential to be a great Clan Leader, wheres Naruto couldn't care less about such things.

"Please don't embarrass me when we're at the Academy alright," Byakuya begged. Naruto grinned at him slyly.

"Come now bro. If anyone's gonna embarrass you it's gonna be yourself. Besides, since when did you actually start acting like a snot-nosed Clan member anyway. You know that certain people don't like those kinds of guys," Naruto said slyly, thumbing in Hisana's direction. Byakuya sputtered uselessly as Naruto disappeared in a Shunpo.

"You guys can already do Shunpo that quickly?" Hisana said in amazement. Byakuya froze. He was about to chase his brother, but then he realized that Hisana didn't know how to use Flash Step yet.

'That clever idiot!" he thought grudgingly. 'He knew that I couldn't abandon Hisana to find the Academy for herself, which means I can't chase after him.'

"Well, let's go," Hisana said eagerly. Byakuya nodded in agreement as he led the way to the Academy. 'Naruto, for once you did something right,' he thought. "Now I don't have to be constantly annoyed by your idiotic antics."


At the Shinigami Academy...

Naruto materialized in a blur, scaring some freshman half to death on the Introduction Courtyard. It was very large, with a marble floor, and there was a balcony on a large building that loomed over the Academy Courtyard. Naruto assumed that this was the Shinigami Academy, or at least one part of it. He had actually never visited this place before. Byakuya had gone once, but Naruto chose to stay behind.

He was never really interested in 'showing off' as he put it.

"Whoa, did you guys just see that? That guy just appeared in a Flash Step. And look, he's from the Kuchiki Clan."

Naruto ignored the rest as he scanned the crowd anxiously for someone he knew. Suddenly, he heard the pounding of feet in his direction. He closed his eyes as they walked right past him, and went up to the balcony. He silently followed them up the stairs, and listened behind a door.

"Sir, there's an emergency at the Second Division, and their Fourth Seat is coming here personally. What should we do?"

"Let her in," the second voice answered. "It would be nice for the students to meet other members of the Gotei Thirteen anyhow."

Naruto grinned as he silently backtracked to the way he came, trying to find Byakuya. Finally, he spotted him entering the Courtyard.

"Hey, Byakuya," he whispered, tugging on his sleeve.

"What?" Byakuya hissed, trying to ignore him.

"She coming."

Even Byakuya had to grin at that one.

Suddenly they felt the force of spiritual pressure. Naruto grinned as the 4th Seat of 2nd Division appeared flanked by various members of the Squad, and they didn't look happy. All of them stormed up the balcony, promptly ignoring the stared they were receiving.

There was a moment of silence before they heard a tomboyish voice shout something about "Glue in the Squad's supply of underwear, and "Vandalism of 2nd Division Property."

"WHERE IS HE?" they heard her yell before they all heard a frightened reply.

Rapid footsteps sounded down the stairs as Naruto's grin grew wider and wider. Soifon scanned the crowd before catching a glimpse of blonde. He did not try to hide as he stood next to Byakuya, trying to look as noble as possible.

She deftly Shunpo'ed directly in front of him and grabbed the collar of his uniform, trying to life him higher than herself.

"How dare you!" she screamed, catching the attention of the entire amount of students present.

"Whatever do you mean, Fourth Seat," he replied tauntingly, trying to appear as innocent as possible. His eyes glinted slyly as her face grew crimson in rage and anger.

"I know it was you!" she accused loudly.

Whisper's floated around the room, as rumors spread like wildfire.

"I'm afraid I don't follow," he said respectfully. "If you want something from me, all you have to do is ask."

Her other hand clenched into a fist as she brought it near his face.

"I'll kill you," she threatened. He simply smirked.

"Perhaps if your security wasn't so lax, and perhaps... if you didn't insult my family," I wouldn't have done so, Fourth Seat," he mocked.

"What do you mean?"

He leaned forward, and whispered in her ear. "Don't insult Hisana again, you got me?"

She gritted her teeth as she slowly let Naruto down. She looked around. All the tester's looked at her at something akin to horror. She scowled as she vanished with a Flash Step.

"Ha, we showed her didn't we!" Byakuya exclaimed.

"And where the hell were you?" Naruto asked, turning to him.

Byakuya's face turned red. "I was preparing for a surprise attack," he insisted desperately.

Hisana smiled gently as they all prepared to have their names called. From what she had heard, they really had done a number on the place, but she still wasn't sure exactly why.

The all waited as a burly man appeared in the balcony. His mustach twitched rapidly, and a thin sword was strapped to his back.

"Welcome," his voice boomed. "The entrance exams for the Shinigami Academy will now begin. Please wait for you name to be called, and proceed to the testing area. Once there, you will be tested based on you spiritual pressure and physical abilities as well as your overall knowledge of the Shinigami world. Now, let's begin..."

Naruto and the others shuffled toward the testing room, eager to begin.

In his haste, Naruto bumped into someone, and sent him tumbling to the ground.

He looked down to see that he had knocked over a boy slightly older than himself. The boy had blood red hair, and pale skin with listless green eyes that carried signs of heavy fatigue. Kanji for "love" was on his forehead, and a large gourd was on his back.

"Sorry, I didn't see you there," Naruto said apologetically, extending a hand. The redhead's eyes stared directly into his own, glimmering with madness barely being kept at bay. "My name's Naruto, what's yours?"

The other boy didn't reply, but suddenly said, "Mother acknowledges you, younger brother of Byakuya Kuchiki-"

Naruto's eyes widened. 'What the hell. I didn't even tell him that part.'

'-so I will indulge you. I have no name, but others call me Gaara, Gaara of the Desert."


I love cliffhangers! Hahahahaha. Well, there you have it. Gaara has appeared. Is he still sane? Does he remember anything? Will Naruto be able to keep his secret? Find out, Next Time?

Next Up: Old and New Friends appear as Naruto's days at the Academy finally begin...

PS. Please review, but no flames.