The first of the sun's rays had barely touched the horizon when Ai arrived at training ground 7, she had even stopped to get some manju from the sweets lady's first batch of the day. The pork inside was complimented so wonderfully by the sweetness of the bun itself that Ai wished she was able to get more than 6.

Pulling out a book on the founding of the village to await the arrival of her teammates Ai began her time mastered art of speedreading. The pages passed by as if blown by a fan and by the time Sasuke arrived just as the sun peeked over the horizon she was already a third of the way done.

"Morning Sasuke." Ai greeted, the last of her fourth bun disappearing into the abyss of her stomach.

"You're eating manju?" A look of disbelief made its home on his normally brooding face.

"Well even I'm not crazy enough to eat fried shrimp for breakfast. Especially after Shiki-nee gave me a verbal thrashing the week I ate nothing but fried foods for a week." Ai paused to swallow her delicious bun "Besides Oba-chan is always super thankful for the help I give her and these are her first batch of the day." Ai went to grab her fifth bun were it not for Sasuke's reply.

"Kakashi-sensei said not to eat today." This caused Ai to pause with the bun halfway between the bag and her mouth.

"Nope he actually suggested, not ordered, that we not eat today in case we throw up from the test." Ai held out the bun to Sasuke. "So with that, take it. It's better to have some food in your belly than none."

Turning away Sasuke crossed his arms. A clear sign he wouldn't take the kind and generous offering Ai was gracing him with.

Well two can play this game. Time for a little persuasion.

One low kick later and Sasuke was on a collision course with the cold morning dirt. A yell tried to escape from his mouth but was silenced by Ai jamming the bun into his mouth. Flailing like a madman, as Ai was sitting on him, Sasuke was forced to chew and swallow the bun. Content with her victory, Ai got off him with a cheery "You are very welcome!"

A nervous Sasuke trying to slowly inch away from the "Ice Maiden of the Leaf" and an Ai who was finishing her book was the sight a tired Naruto arrived to.

"Morning Naruto. Want a fresh manju?" Holding out the last of her stash. The bun was eaten instantaneously, with a thank you from the blonde.

As the sun got higher and higher in the sky, the air got warmer and more muggy. Ai was melting in the heat. Causing her to migrate toward the nearby river and drench herself in the refreshing cool water. While the heat was a major contributor, Ai, as well as her teammates, were starting to get irritated at their Sensei's lateness, when he had made it clear they were to be at the training grounds at sunrise. It was now past noon and he was nowhere in sight Ai was about to bring up the prospect of leaving when a familiar, indifferent voice called

"Hey there, you're on time today. Good job, you're already improving."

"You're late!" Ai boomed. Who was very much done with the temperature today, which did nothing to relieve her anger. Naruto joined in Ai's expression of irritation verbally while Sasuke gave a silent glare but the meaning was the same.

"Oh no, I'm perfectly on time, I said to be here by sunrise, and the Sun has certainly risen, has it not?" Before the three could attempt to harm their sensei he held up one hand.

"Since your all so energetic today I prepared a special test for you!" Kakashi said with the enthusiasm that only morning people could bother to muster as he reached for his weapons pouch.

Ai heard the faint tinkle of bells as Kakashi revealed two small ones suspended by right red string.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take one of these bells from me before lunch time." Kakashi explained as he set a timer and placed it next to a tree that was behind him. "The two who can will graduate and the one who doesn't go back to the academy until next year. Now when I say start I want you to come at me with the intent to kill. You won't get the bells any other way."

All three of the shinobi-in-training were stunned by this bold proclamation. Is he really serious? They all thought. However, the second Kakashi said "Start." Both Ai and Sasuke bolted for the nearest cover. Ai backtracking a bit to cover for the fact she was still dripping wet.

Naruto, however, made no move to hide, instead opting for the direct approach, and threw a punch straight at kakashi's head with his left hand, while his right reached for one of the bells.

Well that's clearly not going to work, Ai thought, and was proven right as Kakashi ducked under Narutos fist and caught the hand reaching for the bells.

"Ah ah ah, you'll have to try way harder than that, though I will give you points for attempting to face me head on." Kakashi said smugly. He then quickly slammed his knee into Naruto's stomach with all the force of lightning bolt, making the young Genin double over in pain. Kakashi then followed by simply placing his foot on the blondes head and kicked out, sending him flying across the clearing and into the treeline.

Ai nearly got whiplash from following Naruto's flying body. His attempted attack got her thinking as she hid.

As expected, direct attacks are not going to work, at least not by ourselves. We would need to overpower him or sneak up on sensei. Considering Naruto-kun's success at a frontal assault. Theoretically it should take a combined effort to take him down. However, if I know Sasuke-kun he is not going to work together easily. How to get him to cooperate will probably be the biggest hurdle.

A few seconds passed before an idea finally popped into Ai's head.

That just might work.


Ai found Sasuke hiding in one of the nearby trees. She was slightly surprised by how well hidden he was considering he was wearing blue and black while hiding amongst plants.

"Sasuke-kun. Hey Sasuke-kun." Ai stage whispered.

When Sasuke turned to face her Ai couldn't help but think of the expression "if looks could kill".

"What do you want?" He asked his eyes making a quick glance at her before settling back on Kakashi-sensei who seemed thoroughly invested in his book.

"We should team-up to take him on."

Ai suggested. This caused Sasuke to give her a look that said "you can't be serious". "Think about it Naruto-kun got trounced so easily. What do you think would happen if we were to try?" Sasuke gave Ai a look that said he would try to solo Kakashi anyway.

Well desperate times.

"Hey Sasuke-kun, do you remember this morning…~" Ai said, with a devilish look on her face. "If we do not pass this test, I will force feed you 10,000 manju, and it will not be as nice as this morning."

All the color drained his face, but with clearly forced calm he said "On second thought, perhaps a two person assault would be better, what did you have in mind?"

"Well my plan has a vital component. Can you do the great fireball jutsu?"Ai looked at where Kakashi-Sensei was standing, his back to the tree with the timer next to it.

"Yes, I can, what do you need me to do?"

"First we should find Naruto" Ai quickly looked to make sure Kakashi wasn't near them. "This plan will require all of us."


"No way, I refuse to work with that bastard!" Naruto yelled before Sasuke hit him upside the head.

"Moron do you want him to find us!" Sasuke hissed out pointing to Kakashi who was still against the tree and seemed to have not moved at all.

"Naruto, you want to be hokage right? Then you NEED to pass this test, we all need to."

"Fine" Naruto pouted, crossing his arms to show he was not all pleased to do so.

"Okay, now listen carefully" Ai told them and she started whispering.


The sun was approaching the midpoint of the sky when Sasuke and Ai tumbled into the clearing fighting each other. Jumping apart they circled each other and had gazes so fierce it should have set the other on fire.

"Back off!" Sasuke yelled a growl underlying his words. "I don't need you!"

"You're cooperating and that's final" Ai bellowed back her thinning patience evident in her voice.

"Maybe you'll get the message with this." Sasuke raised his arms from his side and began to form four seals.

"I was hoping you'd do that." Ai smirked and began forming her own three hand seals.

Kakashi gave a cursory glance in interest.

"Suiton: Mizurappa!"

"Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!"

Ai and Sasuke say at the same time

A cloud of steam billowed forth from where the two jutsu connected

"Okay first Sasuke and I will pretend to fight and create a steam with our jutsu's to give us cover."

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

Suddenly three Narutos came flying through the air toward Kakashi from the cloud, Kunai held before them in a spear like formation.

"Naruto, you will use the cover to jump at Kakashi-sensei, and then, when he tries to dodge you and your clones…"

Kakashi easily sidestepped the three Narutos but was unprepared for the forth and real one behind him.

"You come from his blind spot and rush him."

Naruto caught the lead clone by the feet as it passed him and threw it at Kakashi, with Naruto prime quickly following.

"Now both of you must keep him distracted and

As Kakashi turned to see naruto and his clone coming at him, he failed to see sasuke sprint at him from behind. Sasuke jumped and aimed a spinning heel kick to the jonins back. Surprisingly, it hit him, sending their sensei careening into the nearby river.

most importantly away from the timer."

Ai was meanwhile traversing the mist, sprinting for all she was worth toward the tree that the timer was in front of.

"I will be gunning for it. If we have it, we control this test."

"My my it seems my students were being sneaky, I certainly didn't expect that." Kakashi said as Ai reached for the timer, causing her to freeze.

"We cannot afford to fail, there are no second chances."

Everyone was frozen in place as their sensei appeared in front of the kunoichi. Ai heard a splash, and though she dared not look away, she was certain she'd see a log where Kakashi had been if she had.

"Let me guess, your plan was to steal the timer, so that i wouldnt know when the time was up, therefore giving you more time to figure out a better plan, is that correct?"

"So you found out. It doesn't change the fact it would have worked!" Ai said defensively.

"Oh there's no doubt in my mind that it was a good plan, brilliant even." kakashi said, the tiniest amount of pride in his voice. "However there is one thing you didn't plan for…"

Suddenly, Kakashi brought his arm out from behind him showing the timer. Looking straight at Ai, he crushed it with one hand.

"This timer was purely for your sake...I however, don't need this to tell how long it's been…"


Joker: Wow that sure was a long 2 weeks!

DamscusDalek: i think you spelt months wrong. Anyway...WE'RE ALIVE!

We have...reasons...for why it took so long.

Joker: Life happens, and while watching Naruto episodes I replayed Pokemon Platinum again and well...Ideas happen.

Damascus: in other words, we wrote other stuff in between our real life problems...it probably won't happen again

Joker: We did learn something though, don't set deadlines.

Damascus: especially ones you can't keep. Cuz then you end up disappointing readers and, in my case, yourself.

Joker: It happens, you just need to learn from it. The plan, now is to HOPEFULLY get the next one done in less time than this one...which shouldn't be hard

Damascus: fingers crossed. On the bright side, i believe this chapter is a magnitude longer than the last chapter to make up for the hiatus.

Joker: I believe it is? I think it's better than the first one...Its injecting some character at the very least.

Damascus: On that note we shall take our leave.

Joker: Join us next time for… Land of Waves! The Assassins of the Mist !

Damascus: coming to a fic site near you in at least the next century. See ya!

Joker: Goodbye!