This chapter is all my work. I'm sure the difference in writing styles is pretty noticeable. I'm not nearly as good. But I hope I do the story justice and take it in an acceptable direction as well as answer all those annoying questions you had regarding the story. If you feel I'm doing a terrible job, please let me know as politely as possible.

Things as they are

Chapter 10

NAMIKAZE NARUTO VS AKADO YOROI

Naruto smirked as he made his way to the floor below but Sasuke wasn't stupid, he could see the barely discernible wince as the blond tried to ignore the pain in his neck and shoulder. Sasuke knew that pain all too well and mentally winced as well.

Sasuke's one time opponent walked towards the lower floor calmly. He was also working for Orochimaru. Sasuke knew this but there was nothing he could currently do. All he really could do was watch and pray that Naruto didn't fall victim to the curse mark's effects. He didn't know what kind of determination this Naruto possessed but if it was anything like Sasuke's Naruto then it was sure to be impressive.

"Naruto, don't use your bloodline." Kakashi stated calmly as the blond passed him. "That curse mark reacts to chakra and should it activate I'll be forced to take you out."

Naruto paused while Sasuke blinked in shock. Naruto had a bloodline? Since when? And what the hell was it? Thinking on it now, Sasuke hadn't really seen this Naruto fight. He'd mentally chalked up his abilities to what he himself had been capable of at the time. Not once did he think of the possibility that Naruto had a bloodline. Was it something only possible in this world? Or had Naruto in his own world had a bloodline as well, but having no knowledge of it due to his orphaned status?

Another thing that Sasuke realised was, he hadn't seen Naruto really fight because Sasuke had technically been doing all the fighting since day one, and because of this there had been no real bonding in Team 7. Kakashi-sensei hadn't really encouraged bonding either, not like his lazy self had, and as a result, Naruto did not have as strong a bond with Sasuke as he should've had. This did not reflect well for the curse mark situation.

"I know." Naruto replied tonelessly as he made his way towards Itachi and snapping Sasuke out of his thoughts.

Sasuke's gaze slid to the Yondaime and while the man didn't make a move towards his son, it was clear to anyone who looked in his eyes that he was worried out of his mind. He was forcing himself with every ounce of willpower he had not to cancel the match and drag his son away so that he could take care of the curse mark on the boy's neck. Sasuke knew that since the Yondaime had no bloodlines, then it was Naruto's mother that the blond had inherited this unknown ability from.

How would Naruto handle this fight? Would it be better if he didn't make it to the finals? Would that push him over the edge faster? Or would Orochimaru discard him because of it?

Sasuke doubted the latter one very much. Naruto had something Orochimaru wanted. Was it this bloodline that Kakashi-sensei had spoken of? It was damn near frustrating to have so much information but at the same time, be completely ignorant of the world around him. He couldn't ask without drawing suspicion onto himself; well more than what he currently had anyway.

Sasuke returned his attention to the ninja about to fight, his entire posture growing still and silent. He didn't react to Kakashi-sensei's speculative glance, nor Sakura's questioning one. His attention was focused on was taking in Naruto's expression - what he could see of it from this point of view anyway - and that of his opponent, and trying to decide just how this fight would go.

Itachi looked at the two of them as Naruto slid into a taijutsu stance. His opponent, Akado Yoroi, did not. All he really needed to do was get a hold onto Naruto, so as far as he was concerned this match was already over.

"Begin." Itachi stated, taking a step back so that he didn't get caught in the cross fire.

Neither Naruto nor Akado made the first move. Sasuke noticed that Naruto was panting slightly, one hand twitching towards the spot on his neck where the curse mark no doubt throbbed. He was familiar with the feeling of that pain, far too familiar. While he didn't envy Naruto at the moment he certainly felt guilty about it. He still could not get over the fact that he had been a complete failure as a friend, not once but twice.

The more he thought about his failure the angrier he got. He wasn't necessarily sure if he was angry at himself or if he was actually angry at Orochimaru for ruining his second chance, again. Another thing that persisted the more he thought about what had happened was a throbbing headache that started in the back of his head and pounded insistently behind his eyes.

Before it could get too distracting however he stopped thinking about it, forcing himself to focus on the situation at hand. Naruto was about to fight, and he had to be watching. He still hadn't gained a good grasp on Naruto's ability, on how much he was like Sasuke had been in his first chunin exam. How skilled was the Namikaze? Naruto didn't have the Sharingan to copy Lee's taijutsu moves so what would he do?

Naruto sprang at Akado suddenly, fist raised for a direct attack. Sasuke watched as Naruto over compensated, and used a kunai to stop his motion, much like Sasuke had the first time around. He then thrust his leg out, surprising Akado and hitting him directly in the chest.

Naruto moved quickly, trapping Akado in the same choke hold that Sasuke had used, but Sasuke knew that as well timed and thought out the move had been, it did not match the opponent he was facing. The style was all wrong in accordance with the enemy's strengths but Naruto did not know that and Sasuke was not supposed to.

"Yea! Naruto-kun! You show him." Ino cheered from the side lines. Seemed her little blunder was not enough to keep her down and out for the remainder of the preliminaries. Too fricken bad.

Sakura remained silent, confusing those from their year, and bit her lip in worry.

"He'll be fine Sakura." Sasuke whispered to the pinkette. "He's too stubborn not to be."

The girl offered a small smile at that but went back to biting her lip, chewing it as her concern for the blond and even for Sasuke grew by the minute. They shouldn't be fighting. They should be getting treated. She wasn't the smartest kunoichi in their year for nothing. She knew something was wrong with Sasuke, something he was trying to hide. She could still see the blood on the back of his shirt from where he had bashed his head against the tree.

He shouldn't have hit that tree in the first place if their previous missions were any indication. His previously displayed skill said at least that much. So that led her to believe that something was wrong with him as well as with Naruto.

Naruto-kun, well that one was obvious. That grass-nin was crazy! She'd bitten Naruto-kun. He needed help. It was still hurting him. She knew that it was and didn't believe a word he said when he protested vehemently that it wasn't.

Akado moved his hand to grip the one that was pinning him down and Naruto jerked in surprise.

He suddenly found himself flying across the room, his strength mysterious gone. Not that he'd had much to begin with but he'd definitely had more than that! He black flipped mid-air to avoid hitting the wall with his head or even his back.

Landing on his feet and narrowing his eyes at his opponent, Naruto pulled out a kunai, knowing that something was up with close range combat. He hadn't figured out what though so he'd just have to fight cautiously for now.

"Honestly, teme, I thought you were better than that." Sasuke remembered that Naruto's goading had been half the reason he'd actually won his own fight. Perhaps by doing the same for this Naruto he could help him out. "Perhaps all the stuff in the Academy was just over exaggeration."

Naruto's attention snapped to the railing, where Sasuke was frowning at him. He snarled at the other genin before ignoring him and returning his attention to his opponent.

Twirling the kunai in his hand he rushed at Akado once again, dodging the hand that tried to grasp his wrist and aimed a slash for the other genin's face.

Predictably the genin dodged and it became a game of who was faster. So far Naruto was doing well, managing to stay away from those hands and dishing a few blows of his own, but frustratingly not landing any.

But then the curse mark pulsed as another wave of pain went through him and he faltered.

Akado's hand clamped down on his head and chakra poured out of him as the other genin stole it. Naruto knew he had larger reserves than most chunin and even some jonin but this was ridiculous. How was this guy absorbing so much chakra all at once? Heck, how was he even able to do it at all? It certainly wasn't a genin level technique.

Sasuke's earlier warnings of spies sprang to mind and Naruto found himself wondering if this was one of them? Were there more than one?

This genin was on Kabuto's team and Kabuto had been acting highly suspicious so it wasn't too far out there.

With a grunt, Naruto shifted his weight violently but only managing to change Akado's hold from his head to his shoulder, his chakra leaving him in alarming amounts with every second that passed. Soon he wouldn't be able to stand without wobbling.

"Perhaps, teme, with that performance you should take the title of dead last." Sasuke taunted yet again. "And you hope to beat me into submission with moves like that? That's laughable."

Rage boiled within Naruto and he took it out on the only person he safely could at that moment. The curse mark pulse but he forced his mind to ignore it as he planted a fist in Akado's unprotected stomach.

He did want to beat Sasuke into submission! But how had the dobe known that? He'd never once given any indication to this desire, this desire to show Sasuke exactly who was the Rookie of the year and who was the dobe.

He was Namikaze Naruto dammit and he'd had some of the best teachers Konoha had to offer. Disappearing in a flash of speed he reappearing directly in front of Akado as he flew across the room from Naruto's rage induced punch. One hand planted firmly on the ground as his leg snapped up and changed Akado's path of flight from sideways to upwards. He didn't kick the man once or even twice but three times to ensure that he was soaring through the air high enough to execute the manoeuvre Naruto had in mind.

Disappearing in a flash of speed again he reappeared behind the soaring genin, kicking at his side while Akado smirked. "You're going to have to do better than that if you want to defeat me."

Before the move could be finished, another wave of pain from the curse seal flared. Naruto grit his teeth, feeling the damn thing activate. He was losing control of it. He wouldn't allow that to happen! He wouldn't.

The jonin in the room as well as the Hokage and the disguised Orochimaru watched in silent anticipation as they saw the curse mark light up on Naruto's neck, spreading out like the toxic thing that it was.

Sasuke waited for a heartbeat of time, wondering if Naruto had the will power to push it back. He should've. After all Sasuke remembered all of this from his own fight.

Many of the jonin in the room were seething at the Uchiha, for taunting Naruto in the first place but none of them could really act against him, for now at the very least. Really, was the brat trying to get the curse mark to activate?

The only one who was actually pleased with the Uchiha was Orochimaru because he hoped that the boy's actions would make the Namikaze rely on the curse seal's power in his rage at the Uchiha's words.

Naruto grit his teeth, fighting the pain and the power that flooded his system. It was something that was glorious yet terrifying. This power, whatever it was, was intense. He knew it wasn't right but power was so seductive, something he strove for in his efforts to surpass that man.

Sasuke's maddening smirk came to mind. He didn't have this accursed mark on his neck and yet he was powerful without it. Should that prove that Naruto didn't need it either? Not to mention Kakashi-sensei's earlier words. The man had warned him that should this seal activate then he would need to get involved and that was a fight Naruto was sure he wouldn't win.

NO!

"I won't become a victim of this stupid seal!" Naruto screamed mentally as he pushed back at the power. Aggressively locking to away back from where it had come from.

Naruto suddenly snapped out of the struggle he'd been locked in and the curse mark receded. The match ended with Naruto slamming Akado into the ground, powerfully and painfully.

Sasuke wasn't impressed with the move as he was the one that had done it in his reality. Called it Shishi rendan. Naruto felt no such need to name this technique. That boy really needed to lighten up. He was even more broody than Sasuke was and as far as the Uchiha could see, he really had no reason for it. It wasn't like his entire clan had been wiped out by his brother or anything.

He landed on his feet, panting and exhausted before wobbling slightly and falling to the ground. Obito was the one that shunshined into the match and supported Naruto, keeping him from falling.

"Winner: Namikaze Naruto." Itachi announced quietly after checking on Akado and deeming him no longer able to fight.

Sasuke noticed immediately that in this fight Naruto had had far more stamina than what he'd had. He'd fared somewhat better than Sasuke had too. For one, he knew Lee's taijutsu without having seen Lee fight. Perhaps Gai-sensei had taught him while he was still attending the Academy. It was entirely possible. He was the Hokage's son. Interesting.

"Oh yeah! Naruto-kun is the best. Did you see that?! That was awesome!" Ino cheered and once again no one really paid much attention to her. It was so sad.

Naruto turned a tired glare at Sasuke and the Uchiha smirked. "Sure glad I wasn't him but, see? All you needed was some incentive." Sasuke offered with a shrug. Naruto looked away with a sneer. Seemed he wasn't in the greatest of moods and really who could blame him.

Kakashi disappeared from his spot by his team and reappeared next to Obito. He said something to Obito before he lifted Naruto and shunshined out of the room with a last look at the Yondaime. The older blond looked pained but he remained where he was, even if all he really wanted was to go with Kakashi.

Obito returned to the railing, taking Kakashi's place. He grinned at Sasuke and Sakura but they didn't smile back.

"Don't you two worry. Kakashi-kun will be back before you know it and Naruto-kun will be right as rain in no time at all." Obito stated with a grin and Sasuke found himself studying this man. He was almost like Kakashi-sensei from Sasuke's true reality but not quite the same.

Was that the reason Obito was here, to represent the Kakashi that Sasuke knew? Or was the Kakashi that Sasuke knew the way he was because Obito had died?

It was highly possible.

The slight bleep sound that announced the board's activation was all the warning they got before names were flashing across it once more.

Sasuke tensed, knowing that he could be next and that he could end up with any one of the people in this room. While he was confident none of them could actually beat him unless it was Kabuto he didn't exactly want to face genin like Gaara because that would force him into revealing things he did not want. Not yet.

ABURAME SHINO VS HYUGA HINATA

Shit.

That meant Neji was still an option. But at least that took care of the slight mystery that was Shino. Sasuke still wasn't sure if he'd have won against the bug user.

He felt sorry for Hinata though. He knew that she would probably forfeit in favour of letting her teammate progress. The girl was simply like that at heart.

As he watched the little Hyuga girl not far from him, he saw that her eyes were wide with indecision and disbelief. Her sensei said something no doubt meant to be encouraging to her but it hardly looked like it had worked.

Shino merely walked to the stairs, not showing an ounce of emotion.

"Neji, is that not your cousin?" Lee asked his teammate loudly enough to gain the attention of those around him.

"Hn. Yes but she's pitiful. She shouldn't even be a Shinobi." Neji scoffed and from Hinata's wince, Sasuke knew she'd heard the words.

As the girl shuffled passed him, Sasuke felt this crazy urge to do something so very Naruto-ish and he indulged it. He shot out a hand and placed it on her shoulder, feeling her flinch through the thick jacket.

"Don't let what anyone says about you get in your way to being who you are Hinata-chan. Go down there and prove to yourself and to others that you can change, that you can be who you want to be and please those around you. You already have everything you need to win this one Hinata-chan, now all you need to do is believe in yourself like I do, and prove it." Sasuke gave the girl a soft warm smile that he hadn't directed at anyone in this world and he saw her face go an alarming shade of red before she nodded mutely and continued walking towards where Shino was waiting in a slight daze.

"Uchiha-san is right, Hinata-san. Do not hold back simply because I am your teammate. It is because I am your teammate that I say this. It would be disrespectful to give me anything but your best." Shino droned. "I say this because I know that you are capable of more than what you allow yourself to use."

Hinata stared at Shino like she was stricken but his words seemed to have struck something within her and perhaps Sasuke's words had helped, perhaps not, but the small girl moved into the Hyuga style stance and nodded once in determination to her teammate.

Itachi watched them both calmly before tilting his head in the smallest moment of contemplation. "Begin." He stated tonelessly when he deemed both of the genin ready.

Hinata was the first to attack, the veins by her eyes bulging as she activated her bloodline. Hands glowing ever so slightly with chakra she struck out at Shino only to be met with bugs before landing a blow. Hinata was undeterred as she struck out again, trying to be faster than the bugs.

Shino was forced to physically dodge when Hinata did indeed get through his bugs.

Aburame were not close ranged fighters and they did not carry Shuriken or Kunai. Sasuke knew this and wondered if Hinata's chakra control was good enough to protect her from Shino's chakra stripping bugs. How did one fight against that anyway? A fireball maybe?

Perhaps Hinata's blows were strong enough to kill the bugs before they could land on her but the bugs were so small how was one supposed to keep track of all of them? All it would take was a few of those bugs slowly draining her already meagre reserves and then she'd be finished. Shino would only have to avoid those blows till she passed out.

Then again, Hinata was a Hyuga and she had the Byakugan so there was no doubt that she could see them all, but was she fast enough to react to them all? There was also her desire not to badly injure her teammate or his bugs because she would know that Shino held all of his bugs very dearly.

She would fight, she would give it her all, but in the end they all knew that her kindness would hinder her. Sasuke was no Naruto, well he wasn't the Sasuke Hinata needed. As such he could hardly cheer her on in the way that would bring out the very best in her.

All the same Sasuke found himself silently rooting for the girl, actually wanting her to win. He wasn't entirely sure whether this was his own feelings or the Sasuke of this world's feelings. She was certainly trying her very best, any fool could see that.

Sasuke's attention was jerked back to the match that up till now had been mostly about attacks from Hinata and dodges from Shino as the Hyuga took a few steps back only to slam herself forward again. Her raised palm slammed against Shino's chest and the grunt of pain echoed around the arena.

"Shino-kun?" Hinata immediately stepped back, concern dominating her features. "Are you alright?"

"Not bad Hinata-san. If you had perhaps landed that blow a moment sooner you would have won this match." Shino replied, his voice hiding the strain well. "I say this because you are now out of chakra." The Aburame moved forward to catch the Hyuga that was his teammate as her eyes lost their bulging appearance before growing dim.

"That was a good fight Shino-kun, thank-you." Hinata's quiet whisper wasn't quiet enough that most in the room didn't hear it.

"Winner: Aburame Shino." Itachi called as the medics relieved Hinata from Shino's hold. Aburame were strange ones. Almost coldly polite but loyal to a fault when it came to comrades. Sasuke respected them for that quality.

"Shino-kun, go with the medics. That wasn't a soft blow." Kurenai stated quietly and the Aburame nodded before following his teammate out of the room.

Those ringed red eyes slid over to Sasuke, curiosity burning within them. Sasuke wondered if she felt offended that he'd asked to be removed from her team in favour of another jonin, a better jonin. How could he explain to her that to him, life just wouldn't be balanced if he wasn't on Team 7 even if this Team 7 wasn't his Team 7.

Sighing he looked away, catching the tilted look of speculation on both Obito's face and Kurenai's.

"Hn, as I said, pitiful." Neji narrowed his eyes as he sneered this statement, showing just how disgusted he was in Hinata's performance.

"On the contrary, Hyuga, Hinata's fight was perhaps a turning point for her in her life. Her main weakness is that she tried to please her father in all the wrong ways." Sasuke replied to the arrogant ninja's statement when it seemed that no one else was willing to.

"Oh? And how do you figure that, Sasuke-kun?" Obito asked, his tone conveying far too much excited interest for him to be an acceptable Uchiha. He probably wasn't received well back at the compound.

Sasuke noticed that he now had an audience, one he hadn't really wanted in the first place. He rolled his eyes before turning towards the pale eyed Hyuga and spoke again "She wishes to protect people but she listens to those that have told her to do nothing but hurt people. Of course she'd not going to show much progress when it's presented to her like that. It's the wrong approach. She should focus on what she could do to protect those precious to her, on how she could use her talents to aid her in this desire. From the fight alone, I could tell that she's extremely flexible which makes the Hyuga's rigid form of taijutsu not very suitable, and overly hard for her to master. It would be more beneficial if she tried to combine the advantages of the Byakugan with her natural flexibility and tried to integrate it into her family's taijutsu."

"What you speak of would break a tradition that's been in the Hyuga clan for generations." Neji replied, scoffing as though he thought Sasuke was extremely dense.

"Without change, a Clan will not survive." Sasuke narrowed his own eyes at the Hyuga. Itachi's words from so many years ago flashed through his mind, and it was all Sasuke could do not to repeat those words out loud. None here would even understand them anyway. Not even Itachi.

"Like I said before, appearances and preconceptions aren't going to tell you anything. For instance you've already made the mistake of assuming I'm a patient man. The clan, the clan . . . You over-estimate your own abilities with no idea of the depth of my own. And look at you now, grovelling in the dirt."

"Obsessed with the organisation, obsessed with the clan, obsessed with our lineage. A worthless compulsion that enslaves us and limits our capabilities, leading us to fear what we don't understand."

"I've had enough, there's no hope left for this pathetic clan. The people of this clan are all the same. You focus on the trivial and lose sight of what's most important. Change is impossible in this fog of ignorance. How can we evolve when regulation is all we know?"

"You should cherish those that you have, Hyuga, because one day you just might find that everything you knew, everyone you've ever loved, they're all gone . . . in more ways than mere death." Sasuke didn't know what compelled him to say those words but he knew it had nothing to do with the Sasuke of this world. Those words, they were all on him. After all, not only had he lost his clan, his older brother, but he'd also lost his entire way of life.

Neji stared at the Uchiha, not at all sure how to respond. The boy's eyes, while looking away and towards the ground, were clouded with a pain so deep it was hard to imagine how he ever smiled at all. But then he blinked and that pain disappeared as the Uchiha's attention turned to the board as it began to blip again.

Sakura wondered just who Sasuke had lost because as far as she knew he had never had anyone to feel that much pain over losing.

Obito mentally sighed as just one more thing was added to his list of what makes Sasuke so suspicious lately. Kakashi and Minato-sensei weren't going to like this. Worse still, this indicated that there had been someone at the very least, someone who was quite possibly dead which didn't help them at all.

All those that had been listening to Sasuke moments before reluctantly turned their attention towards the board as the names flashed across it. Sasuke had to wonder just what the next fight would bring, but he couldn't keep the feeling of dread out of his mind.

Was he the one that was fighting?

With Hinata out of the preliminaries, Sasuke was left with more and more headache inducing opponents like Gaara and Neji. With this seal on his chakra there wasn't much he'd be able to do. Especially if his opponent was someone like Gaara. He'd be forced to play the smart card and forfeit rather than risk death or possible unrecoverable injuries.

He watched as those neon letters blinked into existence before flashing away again.

When they settled, his heart literally froze.

HYUGA NEJI VS HARUNO SAKURA

"Sakura, forfeit this match." Sasuke blurted out hoarsely. He'd heard all about what Neji had done to Hinata, someone who was family. What the hell would stop him from holding back against Sakura.

"What?" Sakura asked, having been lost in a daze upon seeing her opponent.

"Forfeit. Your training, we didn't get enough time to get you up to standard for this. Not against someone like Neji." Sasuke stated quickly while Neji scoffed, walking down the stairs and towards Itachi who was watching curiously.

"He may be right Sakura-chan." Obito added with a worried frown. Kakashi would skin him alive if anything happened to his students on Obito's watch.

"Don't you listen to him Forehead!" Ino suddenly butted in and Sasuke wanted to smack his face at her ignorant stupidity. All he could think about was, Please don't listen to the moron that bombed out against a puppet in her first move! "You go down there and you show that Hyuga what us kunoichi are made of!" Ino continued to yell.

Something seemed to snap within Sakura. Her hand reached up to her shortened pink locks of hair and her eyes grew determined. "I won't stay behind you guys forever. It's time I stopped being a burden to my teammates." She stated with a conviction Sasuke had seen in her in their last meeting at Orochimaru's hideout.

This really, really wasn't the time for life changing decisions. Neji would chew her up and spit her out so thoroughly it would be a miracle if she could still walk straight afterwards.

"Sakura–" Sasuke began but she cut him off.

"He'll only acknowledge me if I'm powerful, if I take being a kunoichi seriously. You told me that Sasuke." Then she was spinning on her heels, hair flicking out at him as she did so and she was marching towards the stairs.

All Sasuke could do was watch.

As he'd walked through the forest towards the tower he'd allowed his mind to wander, to think of the fights to come. He'd expected them to be the same as they were in his reality but he should've known they would not have been.

But all the same he'd imagined teasing Naruto into beating his opponent like Naruto had done for him. He'd imagined yelling out to Sakura as she faced off against Ino, that if she won her fight Naruto promised to take her on a date while if she lost she had to go on a date with himself.

But now all he could think about was getting her out of that arena, far, far away from Neji. All his mind could process was how he was failing yet another friend.

She was wholly unprepared for this match, so much so that it was almost a comical match up. He'd need far more time to train her if he expected her to win a match like this.

So, that left him with the option of watching, and praying Neji lost interest before ending the fight quickly and painlessly.

.0.0.0.

Naruto was led through the corridors of the tower, Kakashi close behind him.

"Where are we going?" he asked tonelessly.

"To take care of that seal on your shoulder." Kakashi answered just as tonelessly.

"Is there any way we can hurry this along?" Naruto asked impatiently. "I want to see the dobe's fight."

"If you're still conscious by the time I'm done, then maybe I'll let you go back in there."

Naruto narrowed his eyes in annoyance but another wave of pain made him bite on his tongue rather than reply to his sensei's comment.

"What sealing method are you going to use?" Naruto asked instead. He might not be allowed to create his own seals just yet but he did know a little of the basics. At least he'd managed to learn that much from him.

"Evil Sealing Method." Kakashi replied dully.

He wasn't Minato and they both knew this but Kakashi was adept in his own right.

"So it'll rely entirely upon my own will power. Great." Naruto scoffed sarcastically.

"Your father is busy otherwise he'd be doing this himself." Kakashi's tone had grown colder at Naruto's sarcasm. Didn't the boy realise that something else entirely was going on here and that he was the unfortunate centre of it all? Surely he wasn't that jaded towards his father.

"He's always busy." Naruto mumbled and Kakashi didn't feel the need to rely. Naruto was silent for a moment before picking up the pace and tilting his head slightly towards Kakashi. "Hurry up already. I want to get this over with."

Well that certainly made two of them. It wasn't that Kakashi didn't like Naruto per say. It was more like Naruto made it very hard to be a likable person.

.0.0.0.

Sasuke's gaze stayed on the two in front of him and didn't move for even a second. He didn't care if he got disqualified but if Neji took this too far, he was going in there and taking Sakura away by force.

"Obito-san?" Sasuke asked quietly, not turning to the jonin as the older Uchiha's attention reverted to him. "What would happen to me if I were to stop the fight?" Sasuke continued quietly so that no one else could hear him other than Obito.

"Well, that would depend on why you stopped it and probably when and how too." Obito replied thoughtfully. "I guess it would all boil down to a decision from the Hokage."

Below them Itachi glanced at the match up for this round and nearly called it there and then. It was clear to him that this wisp of a kunoichi would never be able to beat the Hyuga, at least not in her current condition. She was probably one of those kunoichi. It was such a shame really.

"I don't even need my Byakugan to defeat you." Neji sneered arrogantly. "You should just give up now, save me the chakra."

"I have to prove myself!" Sakura declared but she didn't elaborate any further. "And you aren't going to stop me from trying."

Sasuke wished Naruto were here. If he had asked her, then she'd probably forfeit the match with a cheerful ohkay before skipping to the stairs with a dopey grin on her face. As it was, she was giving Neji a hard determined stare, getting into a pathetic example of the Academy taijutsu stance.

The saddest part was, that stance was actually an improvement, one she'd learnt from Sasuke.

"Begin." Itachi called with a mental wince, already feeling pity for the kunoichi. But she was determined, he'd give her that.

Sakura, true to her Kunoichi of the year title, immediately jumped backwards. She had gathered enough information from Hinata and Shino's fight to know that close range combat was not an option. But Sakura's best chance was to land one of those mammoth punches of hers.

Her genjutsu was useless with Neji's Byakugan.

That was if he actually deemed her worthy enough of actually using it on.

Sakura's hand dipped into her pouch and she pulled out the smallest little pale pink packages. Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the little blobs of pink, recognising them but not quite remembering exactly what they were.

She threw them at Neji would scoffed and hit them with concentrated chakra covering his palms. His mistake because now, Sakura didn't even have to use a kunai or shuriken to open them.

Hundreds of the tiniest pieces of paper fluttered through the air, surrounding Neji as the genin looked at them in slight confusion.

"Ninpo." Sakura began with a near manic grin, throwing a kunai with an activated paper bomb on the end towards Neji. "Yuki Sakura no Mai." Ninja Art: Dance of the Snowy Cherry Blossom.

"Paper bombs." Neji muttered in realisation before throwing his arms up and protecting his face as they detonated around him. Neji was thrown into the air and across the room with a violent whiplash from the explosion causing him only further harm.

"Aw YEA!" Sakura crowed while pumping a fist in the air.

Neji got to his feet slowly, eyes turning towards Sakura with a slight frown. "It would appear that I have under-estimated you. No matter, it won't happen again."

No it wouldn't.

Had Neji had his Byakugan active at the time and had he been in the correct stance, he would have used that Kaiten move he was so proud of.

Sakura better have more moves like that up her sleeve because if she did then she actually had a chance of winning this.

But that chance when out the window when Neji's stance shifted and he glared violently at the pinkette. There were always those that had one expression, one expression that changed ever so slightly to adequately convey their thoughts and Neji was one such person. At the current moment, Hyuga Neji was promising a world of pain.

Sakura didn't stand a chance in close combat but she wasn't fast enough to move out of the way as Neji forced her to engage in a taijutsu match.

At first Sasuke was proud to say that Sakura managed to successfully redirect Neji's blows and dodge them so that none of them even so much as grazed against her, but then three successive direct hits were delivered and everyone in the room held their breaths to see what would happen.

Neji stepped back with a smirk of defiance and Sasuke thought he was the most selfish genin in this room aside from Gaara. Sakura hadn't deserved that. One blow would have been enough, one well aimed blow would have been all he'd need to merely knock her out.

But no.

The bastard had hit her in three different places, all three a pain she did not deserve and all three not enough to knock her out.

She doubled over with a wheeze of agony and Sasuke's hand slammed down onto the railing to keep him in his place. When Sakura's blood began to drip to the floor Itachi shifted and Sasuke held his breath to see if his Aniki would call the match in Neji's favour.

"Win–" Itachi began but Sakura's weak protest cut him off.

"N-no. I can still fight." She stated adamantly.

Itachi hesitated, not sure what to do. If the girl was sure then he would wait for now but that decision could possibly end the girl's Shinobi career and he knew that she was one of the promising ones if she took her training more seriously.

Neji took that moment of hesitation to help Itachi make his decision. He didn't want to wait for the disgrace of a kunoichi to possibly recover enough to pull another stunt like her earlier one.

He darted towards her only to be hit with something so foul, so potent that it froze him in his tracks. His lungs constricted and his heart squeezed, very nearly stopping. He'd never felt anything like this before.

Whatever it was, heightened, gained more concentration and Neji fell to his knees, eyes wide in terror of something he couldn't even see, only feel.

"I'm going to die." Was all his mind could comprehend. "And I can't stop it." He felt utterly useless, completely worthless.

Perhaps, perhaps he should just end his own life. That would mean something wouldn't it? It would certainly be better than this insignificant existence, this waste of air his life had begun to represent.

He'd never be able to achieve anything he wanted so what was the point in trying? Sure he was considered a genius but he was nothing but a branch member. So why bother trying at all?

"Uchiha Sasuke!" Obito barked when he found the presence of mind to resist the potent killing intent that the room had suddenly been doused in, making every person in the room's blood run cold, well not the Hokage. He just looked a little uncomfortable. The genin looked ready to stake themselves with their own kunai and the jonin and chunin looked confused, some a little dizzy.

Said genin jumped a mile upon hearing his name and looked to the older Uchiha in complete bewilderment. He blinked for a moment, as though coming to his senses and just like that the killing intent was gone and it was akin to someone lighting a giant bonfire in the middle of the room as it instantly warmed by several degrees.

Sasuke frowned to himself. When had he released his killing intent? Surely his control wasn't that bad?

No . . . a tiny voice whispered. Yours isn't, but Naruto's is.

But Sakura was safe from another uncalled for attack from Neji. She was also slowly coming back to her senses, having not been as affected simply because Orochimaru's killing intent had been so much worse.

Sasuke, for all his patience and outward mask of calm, had a rage just like any other. He just found other ways to make use of it and while under Orochimaru's tutelage he'd learnt to take all that rage and condense it into a killing intent so potent it was meant to freeze his enemy in their tracks if they were weak minded and weak willed enough. It was what Orochimaru used to control unruly subordinates.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Obito hissed at him.

Sasuke just continued to blink at him in shock, as though he couldn't process the words Obito was speaking.

"Winner: Hyuga Neji." Itachi took the momentary distraction to call the match before another incident could present itself to their little chunin exam. As it was, he was sure Sasuke wouldn't just stop at killing intent should Neji try to attack again.

The medics were immediately trying to force Sakura onto a stretcher while she continued to protest weakly. But Neji had hit her in three places that might not have instantly taken her out of the fight, but they certainly took their toll over time and didn't stop unless treated. It wasn't fair and it was hardly necessary but a wounded pride was a dangerous thing.

Then again, the Hyuga boy had made an enemy of the Uchiha Jinchuriki and Itachi did not envy the Hyuga there.

Sasuke . . . Where had he learnt to project such a crippling killing intent? Itachi was finding himself more and more intrigued by his younger brother who had supposedly been the runt of the Uchiha clan.

Sasuke seemed to be lost in a world of his own, his confusion blasted on his features in a manner that was highly contradictory of what he had been displaying of his skills since graduating from the Academy. If Itachi didn't know any better, he'd say Sasuke was going backwards, once again falling into the loud mouth idiot routine from before. He'd have to watch the boy fight to be sure.

Sasuke shook his head before a slight scowl dominated his features. He proceeded to ignore Obito, staring rather stonily at the blank board that was sure to light up any moment now.

Sure enough, names blipped across the screen and Sasuke kept his attention firmly fixed upon the flashing letters. He didn't want to see the questioning gazes that were being sent his way.

He didn't want to see Orochimaru's perverted interest aimed at him. He was sure the Sanin was watching him. He could feel the cold tingle on the back of his neck that usually meant the snake Sanin was watching him with more than simple curiosity.

He'd been with Orochimaru for two and a half years, and he still couldn't get used to that stare, still found himself hard pressed to ignore its weight.

DOSU KINUTA VS. AKIMICHI CHOUJI

Huh. Another comical match up. The Akimichi didn't even want to enter the arena. Sasuke was almost sure he heard the boy's sensei bribe him with food.

Quite suddenly the Uchiha realised just how alone he was in this world.

Kakashi was a jerk who cared more for rules than for teamwork, but perhaps not quite as much as he previous did before Obito had saved his life. Just enough so that he was always on time, always listened when spoken to by another person of authority and took his training seriously.

Sakura was all about Naruto and Naruto was all about power. Sasuke wasn't even sure what he wanted power for other than to surpass his father who was the fricken Hokage. Naruto was twelve. Did he realise that it would take him far longer than what he liked to actually surpass his father?

Why did he want to surpass his father so badly?

Another thing he had but at the same time did not was his family. He could see them, but he could not interact with them. Would Itachi go berserk and kill everyone? He didn't look crazy.

But then Itachi had never looked crazy. Not even as he'd stared Sasuke down all those years ago, and told him to keep his pathetic life simply because he wasn't worth the effort it would take to kill.

Even the villagers that had fawned over him after and even before the death of this family, no longer cared to even look at him. They hated his very existence.

Naruto . . .

He'd fought so hard at the valley of the end, very nearly winning.

And Sasuke had laughed at the reasons he fought.

How could Naruto possibly know what it was to lose something when he'd never had anything before in his life?

Simple. Sasuke had been Naruto's something. And Sasuke had carelessly ignored it, stomping on it and trying to destroy that bond.

But for some reason, he just hadn't been able to.

Now, he didn't even have that bond anymore.

It hurt. More than he ever imagined it would. He thought he'd managed to freeze his heart against all things that weren't related to Itachi.

The headache was back and Sasuke noticed his eyebrow was beginning to twitch slightly.

Yondaime.

He'd looked at Sasuke with such warmth when he'd first walked into that office. A warmth that had been absent since Sasuke had surprised him by being so formal due to his ignorance of this world. Sasuke was not the boy the Hokage knew, could possibly never be that boy. He wasn't the Sasuke the Hokage loved so much.

Naruto, the equivalent of himself just as Sasuke was to be Naruto's equivalent. It was Naruto that had lightened Sasuke's heart, had caused him to almost give up on his anger towards his brother. Almost. Had it not been for Orochimaru, he would have walked away, not forgetting about Itachi but not obsessing over it either.

Sasuke's presence in this world hindered it. Everything was brought to a screeching halt and he did not have the same mysterious powers as Naruto did. He could not sway people over with just a single look. He was not determined and foolishly insistent.

He was not the Sasuke the people of this world needed.

In fact he was probably the reason why a lot of things would be worse.

Kakashi was supposed to be happy in teaching this genin team, but instead he got a suspected spy, an incompetent fangirl and a broody moron instead. Naruto was a moron merely because he didn't know what he wanted. He didn't know the cost of what he was asking for and foolishly ploughed ahead with no real cause for his anger. Not that Sasuke could see anyway.

The Yondaime had lost someone precious to him because clearly, by the familiar way Sasuke was supposed to have interacted with the Yondaime, the two had been close.

Sasuke, the happy go lucky idiot that this world needed, was gone, replaced with a broody avenger far too familiar with the path of darkness Namikaze Naruto was about to walk down . . . all because that incompetent broody avenger had failed at being a friend.

"Gomen." Sasuke whispered to himself.

Who he was apologising to, why he was apologising was beyond him. But he felt it had to be said all the same.

There had to be a way to fix this. There had to be something he could do. He knew he could never be like the Naruto from his world so he was just going to have to do it his way. The question was what?

A hand clamping down onto his shoulder made him jump a mile and he instantly froze. What the hell was wrong with him?!

"Sasuke." Obito said with a frown.

The Uchiha turned to him questioningly and the older Uchiha gestured to the board.

UCHIHA SASUKE VS. KIN TSUCHI

Sasuke's eyes widened in disbelief. He'd missed the whole match?

Predictably Dosu had won. There wasn't any surprise there. The Akimichi didn't look too harmed, not even having needed the medics.

"Well Sasuke-san, it'll be quite interesting to observe your match. After all, you did request to be removed from my team. Not that I'm angry or anything, it just made me curious to your skillset." Kurenai smiled warmly at him and Sasuke blinked at her. He didn't really know what to say to that.

Eyes were turned to him in expectation and he wondered how long he'd been standing there, lost in his own thoughts. With a heavy sigh he made his way over to the arena, to Itachi and his opponent.

Skipping the stairs, he dropped down from the railing, taking on a bored posture that he realised rather strongly emulated the lazy Hatake Kakashi's. Facing Kin wouldn't be an issue, even in his messed up state. Sakura had even been able to keep up with the kunoichi and she'd been exhausted.

Really, Sasuke thought he'd lucked out.

"You're not going to get to intimidate me with cheap imitations this time Uchiha." Kin snarled, her upper lip curling to bare her teeth in the most unattractive manner.

"Oh please. I won't even need to use 'imitations'. You're not even worth the time it took to get here." Sasuke drawled back, eyes becoming dull and distant to further taunt the Sound nin.

Ignoring Itachi, because that's the only way he was going to get through this match without any serious distractions, Sasuke waited calmly for the match to begin, while Kin looked impatient to rip him limb from limb.

"Begin." Itachi stated carefully, his gaze on Sasuke, just like most others, including the Hokage.

Only focusing half of his attention on his opponent, because really, that's all he would need, Sasuke returned to his earlier inner musings.

He knew that Orochimaru was in this very room, watching him with avid attention. That was not a gaze to be mistaken or ignored. Did the Yondaime know? He had to otherwise he'd be a very poor excuse for a Hokage.

Should he act out against the Sanin, reveal his identity to everyone? It would pose the awkward and unwelcome question of how he knew and it would also reveal all the skill he'd been hiding thus far merely because he'd need all of it to even dent the Sanin. At his current level he simply could not fully expect to get much further than revealing his identity to the others.

The Yondaime was likely to possess the knowledge it would take to kill the snake.

But then Orochimaru was very skilled at escaping.

Sasuke pulled out a shuriken and used it to knock Kin's senbon away from her intended target and upwards towards the ceiling where it would be of no use to her. He could do this blindfolded merely because she had bells in her pouch and no matter how secure they were, or how little she moved, he could still hear them.

"Honestly, as a ninja you'd fail every assassination mission." Sasuke drawled, absently and that fact painfully obvious to even the genin watching. Uchiha Sasuke was not taking this match seriously.

It was a by-product of having spent his last two and a half years training with the Sanin, in a world of perpetual half-light and silence.

As for Orochimaru himself, could Sasuke defeat him?

At his previous skill level he knew that he'd been nearing a standstill point with Orochimaru's training and that it had been nearing the time when Orochimaru would claim Sasuke's body for his own. He couldn't have left because Orochimaru would rather kill him then let him walk away.

Before ending up in this world, he had contemplated leaving Orochimaru but he'd have had to kill the Sanin in order to that. Since he was nearing the body switch he was also nearing the time when he was weakest.

Orochimaru in this world was nearing that point right now if he remembered Kabuto's taunting words correctly. The bastard had gleefully tried to get a rise out of Sasuke whenever he could and mostly he would speak ill of Konoha, as though it would've made a difference to Sasuke either way. Kabuto had once mentioned that Orochimaru's fight with the Sandaime had greatly weakened an already weakening man. The Sanin had been in need of a body switch and as such had come to the chunin exams in the hope that he could gain Sasuke's but he'd been too late due to Naruto's interference.

Had Orochimaru not had that fight with the Sandaime and later with the other two Sanin and Naruto, he'd have been able to wait for Sasuke's arrival.

Sasuke threw his next, single shuriken at Kin with a lazy flick. She was still forced to abandon her jutsu attempt in order to dodge the flying projectile.

"Start taking this match seriously!" She screamed.

"Oh like you took my teammate seriously while in the forest?" Sasuke drawled, further slouching down. It was actually quite comfortable and he could understand why Kakashi liked it so much.

"That pitiful Kunoichi should never have been allowed into these exams." Kin sneered back but her sneer disappeared into a look of shocked surprise when Sasuke used pure speed alone to appear right in front of her. He couldn't use chakra so he'd have to rely on speed and taijutsu. He didn't waste time or energy of doing anything fancy or even anything gentlemanly, well as gentlemanly as a ninja fighting another ninja could be, and promptly lodged his fist into her stomach.

"It's never the greatest idea to insult another's precious people." Sasuke whispered in a tone so low it was almost a caress before he was gone from her side, back to his slouched position three metres or so in front of her.

"That Kunoichi has greater potential than you ever will. In fact I'll be surprised if your master even lets you live after such a dismal failure." Sasuke paused to chuckle. "For Oto's first performance in the chunin exams it sure does leave a lot to be desired. If I was the leader of your pathetic village, I'd kill you just for that sad attempt back in the forest."

Kin was still trying to regain her breath and could only manage a glare in his direction.

When Kin had insulted Sakura, it had been the most alert Sasuke had been since the match had started. Now that he'd made his point to the kunoichi about his feelings on insulting his teammates, he'd gone back to the distant, half attention posture.

Kin only grew more enraged and attacked Sasuke head on. Obito worried at the senbon between his lips. As a child he'd always had a lollipop but he'd grown out of that rather quickly and chosen senbon instead because like Genma, it provided a ready weapon. The reason Obito was worried was because Sasuke was clearly distracted, not even giving Kin any of his attention. He seemed to be blocking her purely based on instinct or ingrained training habits and that was something that took years . . . or brutal torture sessions.

She couldn't land a hit at all, yet Sasuke landed plenty. Not very damaging ones, just absent taps that most friendly spars consisted of, which let the opponent know that their guard had been breached. Why was Sasuke treating this so lightly?

Was his mind too focused on other things for him to actually realise what he was doing?

Sasuke himself was now contemplating the possibility of simply leaving things as they were, letting them play out for now. Did Orochimaru even have the nerve to attack the Yondaime? He wasn't the Sandaime, an old man way past his prime. Orochimaru didn't know him as well. Would he attack at all now that he'd managed to place the curse mark on Naruto?

Sasuke couldn't help but frown when he thought about the seal now severely disrupting the normal workings of his chakra. Right now, with Kin, it wasn't much of a problem. Later though, he was going to need it. Was there someone who could remove the damn seal? Who had done if for Naruto in his world?

He sighed in annoyance when he realised that he hadn't even paid that much attention.

However, the lessons from the Academy spoke of the Yondaime being a seal master of sorts. Did that mean he could remove the seal Orochimaru had placed on him?

Now just because the Yondaime might know of Orochimaru's presence did not mean he knew what the Snake Sannin was up to.

That line of thought circled him back to simply leaving things be. After all things had to be different. There was a different Hokage and there was a different proctor. The last one, Hayate something, hadn't he been killed after tailing Kabuto? Itachi wouldn't be as likely to get killed. Not by a long shot.

Would Itachi be following Kabuto at all? Now there was a thought.

Giving a small glance to the older Uchiha watching the match intently, Sasuke concluded that he had no idea what this Itachi would do.

Ultimately however, his choices were really boiled down to two things: "I can attack Orochimaru now or I can attack him later. There's no doubt that eventually I'll have to. I'm not going to let him take Naruto or the Yondaime. I'll die before I let that happen. With this seal disrupting my chakra though, the choice seems simple enough. There's nothing I can really do to dent Orochimaru in this state. With the extra month before the third round I should be able to train myself to the level I had been before coming here. So I'll wait . . . for now."

What he would do was follow Kabuto after these exams. That way he'd have a plausible excuse for later should he end up giving too much away. He could say he hadn't like the way Kabuto acted from the start, that he followed him and saw that he was really a spy.

But before he did that he needed to get the seal removed so he'd go speak to the Yondaime and see what he said. They couldn't expect him to continue throughout the third round like that. Naruto hadn't had to but then Kabuto shouldn't have been in the preliminaries anyway.

Kakashi and Naruto, during Sasuke inner musings, slipped back into the room, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Naruto was noticeably paler and there was a slight stumble in his steps, but he stubbornly refused Kakashi's steadying hand.

His blue eyes travel down to the area where Sasuke is still toying with Kin, where Sasuke is still deeply in thought and he couldn't help but narrow his gaze.

"How long?" Kakashi looked to Obito who shrugged. "Too long for his skill level. He hasn't even used a single jutsu. It's just been that the whole fight. However, there was once when he seemed to actually be paying attention and that was when the kunoichi insulted Sakura-chan."

"How was her fight?" Kakashi asked tonelessly, processing the information as he watched the fight below. Even if Sasuke was toying with Kin, and even if he was only fighting with half a mind, there was still a lot to be learned. He'd ask Itachi about it later.

"She got Hyuga Neji." Obito sighed and Kakashi knew it couldn't be good. "Right from the moment her name flashed onto the board, Sasuke was begging her to quit but she refused. Neji underestimated her and she managed to catch him in an impressive explosion. After that he was brutal on her and Sasuke got mad, letting off a killing intent stronger than some jonin I've met. It was . . . something else. Needless to say, it stopped the fight long enough for Itachi-san to call a victor. But Sasuke . . . he didn't even know he was doing it." Obito reported, keeping the tale as detailed yet as short as possible.

Sasuke just kept on getting more and more surprising. Kakashi would've sworn the Uchiha didn't feel that strongly about the pinkette anymore.

The fight he was currently in however, why was it still going on? What was Sasuke doing?

He narrowed his gaze at the boy, his suspicions churning in his mind but nothing logical came to mind. Did Sasuke see the kunoichi as that little of a threat?

Sasuke was by now, rather annoyed with Kin. She was more like a buzzing fly then any sort of challenging sparring partner. A swift kick was enough to dispose of her, but not entirely it seemed. Huh? Maybe he needed to work on his natural body strength. He relied on chakra far, far too much.

While Kin was still trying to gather her wits, Kakashi asked the question everyone wanted to know but hadn't thought to really ask out loud. After all, the boy was in the middle of a fight.

"What are you doing Sasuke?" Kakashi snapped.

Sasuke turned to the jonin with a glare. Truthfully he was surprised to see the jonin there at all, and with Naruto no less. The boy looked dead on his feet but determined to remain right where he was all the same. "Not that it's really any of your business, but if you must know, I'm thinking about the next five weeks."

Kiba scoffed, "I didn't think you were one to think so far ahead. Weren't you the dead last at the Academy?"

That was getting old, really fast. Was that the way Naruto felt all the time when people reminded him just how much of a failure he'd been at an Academy whose teachings had hardly been sufficient for Shinobi life anyway? Quite frankly, it sucked. Especially since Sasuke really wasn't the dead last.

Sasuke chose to ignore Kiba, looking to Kakashi instead. Sasuke cocked his head to the side to look at the other ninja, considering his next move very carefully. Slowly, a malicious grin spread across his face and Kakashi got the distinct impression that Sasuke's thoughts were not very pleasant and they were somehow aimed at him.

If Obito has both his eyes . . . then what does Kakashi-sensei hide under his headband? Does he have a Sharingan or not? Sasuke contemplated the possibility of the jonin indeed having the Sharingan. If he didn't then – Sasuke almost didn't even dare to hope.

It was time to find out for sure.

Sasuke whirled around to face Kin who was actually only just getting to her feet. Honestly, Sasuke hadn't hit her that hard. Maybe she'd been trying to think or something that would help her win this match. Not likely but a possibility all the same.

Sasuke pulled out six shuriken, balancing them carefully. He only got one shot at this and he had to do it right. All the angles, all the distances, he couldn't afford to mess up. He threw them at Kin who reacted with a kunai and Sasuke's smirk widened. The shuriken were deflected and Sasuke could have yelled in excitement but he suppressed the Naruto-ish urge.

He heard the slight hiss as the silver haired jonin realised that the shuriken were headed straight for him. Well two of them at the very least. They had been thrown with enough force that even with the deflection they'd be going too fast to avoid.

Sasuke turned to smirk at the jonin just in time to watch the metal plate of the headband fall from Kakashi's head. A hand shot out to catch it on instinct and a wide, disbelieving eye was turned to Sasuke. Not even his skin had been grazed by the shuriken, only the cloth had been damaged.

With a wince, Sasuke realised that even Itachi was looking at him in amazement while certain others were looking with gleeful interest. Perhaps he should have thought of that one a little better but then . . . Naruto hadn't ever really given much thought to the consequences of his actions had he?

Sasuke forced his attention back to Kakashi, activating his Sharingan for the barest of seconds, only long enough to see if there was anything beneath Kakashi's closed eyelid.

There was not.

Meaning, Kakashi, this Kakashi, did not have the Sharingan. He already assumed as much but Sasuke had needed to be sure.

Why?

Because now, Sasuke knew that Kakashi didn't use the Chidori or any variation thereof. No, that option was closed to him without the Sharingan. Sure he'd probably had other lighting techniques, but that specific one? No. It was now all Sasuke's. At least in this world anyway.

That meant all Sasuke's most powerful jutsu . . . he could use them without having to explain where he learnt them.

Finally having come to a decision, knowing exactly what he was going to do, Sasuke took pity on Kin and knocked her out with a single swift blow. He knew that his previous blow had been too soft and had added extra oomph to it. Perhaps a bit more than what was necessary but he didn't much care.

Those watching were a little shell shocked at the abrupt ending of a match that had seemingly been dragging on forever. Uchiha Sasuke sure was a mystery. Kurenai frowned slightly but did not comment. She was starting to understand what Sasuke meant when he said that Kurenai was just not the jonin suited to his skill set.

Sasuke mostly ignored Itachi as he passed the older Uchiha to move back to balcony. He'd barely waited for Itachi to call him as the winner as it was. Making it back to Naruto, Obito and Kakashi, Sasuke was met with a glare that would put Orochimaru to shame.

Sasuke stared passively back at the silver haired jonin, waiting to see what he'd do. His left eye was still closed, a deep scar still entrenching it . . . but his headband was now in three pieces and far too ruined to use.

Sasuke clenched his jaw, fighting back the guilt he felt. It wasn't his guilt. It was something Naruto would feel so therefore it was his guilt. The other Sasuke.

Sasuke slowly reached up and removed the headband from his own head, silently offering it to Kakashi. Sasuke ignores the surprising urge to snatch the headband back and not give it to the jonin at all. He watched instead, as Kakashi hesitantly reached up and took the offered headband, lone eye flickering to Sasuke with slight confusion showing through.

Honestly, Sasuke hadn't quite gotten used to having a headband back on his forehead just yet and while he was anxious about not having a headband and not knowing where he could even get another one, it was a relief to take it off.

Sasuke then turned his attention to the other genin, the ones who were still waiting for their match. He ignored them just as actively as they watched him. They, and their jonin sensei, were trying their hardest to figure him out. But they wouldn't be able to. Sasuke had never really been that simple.

.0.0.0.