Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor The Gamer. I own nothing, really.

Chapter 60

[Kiba Inuzuka]

He was frustrated.

That much was obvious, on his face and on his attitude ever since his team had been taken out. Hell, he had been frustrated for years, really. Now, looking as Eiji Satou left the arena with a victory and what he was sure was the promotion already in the bag, Kiba couldn't help but be reminded why.

For a long time he had been up there at the top of their class. Never quite managing the very top, what with Sasuke Uchiha being part of said class, but still second place most of the time. Even between the clan members of his age, he was always relatively high unless they were a few years older.

All that had changed when Satou had decided to stop being a background character. In days, he had gone from the bottom of the food chain, where all the civilian, unmotivated students always were, to the top. Since then, he had never stopped going up, to the point that he seemed to have left them all in the dust.

Left Kiba in the dust.

It had damaged the young Inuzuka's pride, even if he would never admit that. It had been especially bad when his mother had told him to get used to that. That there was always one or two that distanced themselves from everyone else.

He hadn't quite understood then.

By the time he had, however, he had burnt his bridges. He had tried to put aside his pride and try to join in on the group. A group that was obviously doing wonders for everyone in it. He'd really tried…

However, he wasn't surprised when they rejected him. He was angry and, once again, frustrated, but not surprised. You couldn't expect a dog that you kicked to trust you. No, you had to prove that you deserved that trust back…

That had been a problem for Kiba for a while. There was no way for him to do that. He could go with Eiji's ridiculous idea, but that… No. He couldn't do that. Or wouldn't, more like.

It grated on Kiba that he might need tough. He couldn't, after all, continue as he was. He was being ostracized by everyone in his year, even his own team.

Granted, they worked with him just fine. There were no communication problems. There were no teamwork problems either. Any real problem would have been pointed out by Kurenai-sensei, but there wasn't one.

Not a noticeable one, at least.

Kiba could tell though. From the way Shino and Hinata always consulted things with one another before asking him to the way they ignored him when there wasn't anything team-related to do or talk about. It was his own fault, however, that much he knew. He had opened his mouth one too many times without thinking. He didn't remember, but he was pretty sure that he had said at least one or two mean things about both of them.

How he wished he could smack his past self.

He'd been given a chance though. And by the gods he would hold onto it for dear life. It was taking it or actually kneeling before Naruto begging for forgiveness. Anything to get him out of the dog house, pun not intended.

'From Eiji Satou,' He remembered looking at the bugs that were still on his hand. Shino's way of messaging had been difficult to get used to and even more difficult to learn, but it had been worth it, Kiba knew. Especially now. 'Something is going to happen. This is your one chance, Kiba.'

From there, it was instructions for him and Kiba was more than a little annoyed at being ordered around. He would have to swallow his complaints though. Eiji was the leader of the group, everybody knew that, and as much as he hated it, Kiba could respect that.

"Running commentary, that teammate of yours?" His mother asked from his side and he turned towards her. "Or just chatting?"

"The Aburame are surprisingly chatty when they don't have to actually talk," He replied with a fanged smirk getting a laugh from her. Once her attention turned back to the arena, the grin fell from his face.

His eyes then moved towards where her mother had told him the participants where. He could only see the outside of the balcony from where he sat, but that didn't matter. Kiba didn't need to see them, really.

After their fights, besides the expected frustration, he also felt… sad. Sad that he had a chance to be there too. He could have been part of that select group of distinguished ninja too, if he had been a little less full of himself.

Would being part of the group have helped him avoid being poisoned during the Second Test? Would it have helped him feel less lonely within his own team? Would it have made him better than he was?

Kiba was pretty sure the answer to all those questions was yes.

Even if he didn't want to believe that, the proof was right on his face. If someone had told him that Ino would be among the best Genin participating in the Chuunin Exams a year or two back, he would have laughed on their faces. If someone had told him that Shikamaru would get up and actually do something he would have reacted much the same. And the less said about Naruto the better…

All that could be traced back to one thing, the group.

Was it selfish of him, to want to join only to get stronger? Yes, it was. However, it was a good thing that he didn't want to join just because of that. He would train, he would help, he would do whatever he needed to.

He just wanted to stop being weak and stop being alone.

[}-o-{]

[Temari]

"I have a message from Eiji," The words of her opponent, Shikamaru Nara, echoed in her head. The name of the red-eyed monster that plagued her nightmares sent a chill down her spine. "to your younger brother."

'A message for Gaara, of all things,' She thought, dreading that conversation. However, as much as she feared Gaara, she feared Satou much more. The plans for the invasion be damned, she would do what he had asked of her.

Temari wouldn't give her life and the lives of her brothers for a village that had actively tried to kill her younger brother. Her feet moved faster, knowing that the attack would happen soon. Her hand clutched a very confused Kankuro's hand as he dragged him through a hall.

"Temari?" She heard him call for the hundredth time.

"Shut up, Kankuro," She ordered him with as much authority as she could muster put into her words. "We have to get to Gaara and get out of here."

"Wha-Why?!" He asked, wide eyed and open mouthed. "Why would we do that. This will be-"

"Suicide," She shot down his argument before he could get started. The coldness in her voice silenced him better than any order she had given before. "I won't stand in front of someone that toyed with Gaara, Kankuro. And I won't let you or him do it either."

"Others will take care of him," Her brother tried and she scoffed.

"And what if they don't?" She asked then. "They've been trying to kill Gaara for a long time. Why wouldn't they throw him at Satou again?" She saw the realization dawn on her brother as he paled.

"But… we'll be traitors..." He mumbled.

"But we will live," She said resolutely. "Now, help me find Gaara. Where even is he?"

"Here," Both older Suna siblings jumped as the voice of the youngest spoke right beside them. Temari felt her heart freeze over as his green eyes scanned the two of them.

However, she also felt curious. Why? Because he was looking at them with an expression that she had never seen before on his face.

[}-o-{]

[Gaara]

"I would miss my friends the most. My family. The people that I care about. So, that's what really matters to me. What I fight for."

That was what Eiji Satou had told him, the day they fought. Gaara hadn't understood back then. He had tried, but he couldn't. He didn't have any friends, after all, and why would he miss his family? They had never been there.

Now, however…

"I won't stand in front of someone that toyed with Gaara, Kankuro. And I won't let you or him do it either."

Was that… concern? For him? Gaara, once more, didn't understand. However, this time, he really wished he did.

"I am the strongest when I fight for them."

'Is that what Temari is doing?' Gaara wondered. 'Fighting for us?' Her eyes scanned her as she stood there, stiff and obviously nervous. She looked scared and… weak.

A second before, when she hadn't been aware of him, when she had been trying to convince Kankuro… then she had looked strong. Determined and sure of what she was doing. He'd hardly ever seen her like that. Was it because she had always been too afraid of him to show that side?

For a split second, he felt a spike of annoyance at her. Why was she so weak willed then? He was her brother and she seemed to care, so why was she so afraid of him?

'Did you give her a reason not to?' His mind asked and he felt his irritation die a quick death.

Then, Gaara felt… he didn't know what it was, but his chest felt tight all of a sudden.

"So, you want to leave?" He asked, looking between both his siblings. Both seemed to grow even more nervous. Before he could feel annoyed again though, Temari gulped and visibly gathered courage to speak.

"I do," She replied simply. "And we will leave," She added, making Gaara blink at her. Was she ordering him? That was…

Interesting.

"And why?"

"Because we will die if we don't," She answered again. Gaara felt his hand twitch at that. "If we are here during… this," She waved her hand unsure, but he got her meaning. "They'll put you in front of Satou."

He didn't comment on that, but he had received orders to fight Eiji Satou during the Invasion.

"And he'll kill you if you do that. I know it and you know it," Temari finished.

Gaara, for his part, blinked.

"Anyone that is a danger to me or to my friends will die."

That's what Satou had told him, back then.

"Alright," Gaara nodded, earning a pause and a blink from both his siblings.

"Really?" Temari asked, hope in her voice and in her eyes.

"Just like that?" Kankuro asked in disbelief.

"I want to fight Eiji Satou again," Gaara told them, turning and already starting to walk down the hall. "But I don't want it to be a fight to the death."

Mainly because he didn't want to die, but also because… He wanted to live. It sounded like the same thing but it wasn't. Not really. His ears focused on the sound of his siblings' feet behind him. He wanted to see if they could be the family that Eiji Satou spoke about.

"I am the strongest when I fight for them."

Maybe Temari and Kankuro could be that for him too.

"Also," His sister started hesitantly, the confidence and determination of a moment ago seemingly gone. "My opponent gave me a message from Satou for you."

'Oh?' Gaara raised a curious eyebrow.

"What? That's what brought this on, because if so-" Kankuro never got to finish his statement. If Gaara had to guess, by the sounds behind him, Temari had smacked him. The sand user internally approved, his brother seemed to have forgotten what they had been talking about a moment ago, for some reason. Maybe due to his very obvious anger towards Satou.

"He said to tell you," Temari started again, her tone giving Gaara the impression that she was glaring at Kankuro into silence. "That you would find your way to strength through the two, maybe even more in the future. Whatever that means."

That made the red haired boy stop. 'So, you think so too?' Gaara mused. 'More in the future? What do you mean, Satou?' He wondered, slightly annoyed due to not being able to get an answer for his question.

"He also said… um..." The way she seemed even more reticent to give him whatever was left of the message made him turn. His green eyes found her teal ones.

"Speak," He ordered her. He wanted to hear it already and wasn't in any mood to beat around the bush.

"He said that he could be a way too, if you wanted him to," She blurted out, determinedly looking at the floor. Gaara saw Kankuro looking between them nervously.

The boy himself, however, merely stood there in silence, with his eyes wide. 'Is that an… offer of friendship?' Gaara asked himself, for once, absolutely baffled.

"Was that all?" He asked, as his eyes narrowed.

"He said that he would, but he would need your help with… this," She said then and he nodded internally once more.

'So, he wants my help with the Invasion in exchange for his friendship? That's much more understandable,' He mused. It wasn't an easy decision to make. Was he willing to become a traitor to his village in exchange for mere friendship?

He was.

It wasn't an easy decision for others. It was an easy decision for him though. What had Sunagakure done for him besides trying to kill him? For the longest time, he had been by himself and only cared about himself. The sudden and very weak connection with his siblings certainly wasn't enough to care for the village.

Even then, Temari's plan could very well label them traitors anyway.

The corner of his mouth twitched up. 'Let's see how your way works for me, shall we, Eiji Satou?' Gaara mused, almost as if the other boy could hear his thoughts. After all, what did he have to lose anyway?

[}-o-{]

[Kurotsuchi]

"So, do you think your friend stands a chance?" A voice spoke next to her and she had to consciously make an effort not to groan. Not because she didn't want to talk to him, which she honestly didn't really care about, but because she was busy preparing herself for her own match and also trying to watch her friend's match too. "Princess?"

Also, he was annoying.

Facing him, those red eyes staring into her black ones with no malice whatsoever, instead holding honest curiosity. It grated on her, that he had been through his match and still looked just like how he had arrived. As if that whole fight, short as it had been, hadn't even happened.

"I'll have you know that Akatsuchi will kick that guy's ass," Kurotsuchi replied with a scowl and trying to put as much confidence in her words as possible. His raised eyebrow and twitching lips told her that he didn't believe her lie for even a second. She clicked her tongue, turning back towards the arena. "And stop calling me Princess," She growled, her eyes trained on Akatsuchi entering the arena.

"As if you weren't the Princess of Iwa," He pointed with a chuckle.

"Hidden Villages don't have princesses," She countered.

"Really?" Her eyes moved to the side, stubbornly refusing to turn her head, only to catch him raising an eyebrow at her, leaning against the railing. "That's what you are going with?"

Kurotsuchi felt the tips of her ears burning. It had been a weak argument, but she just hated the nickname. Nevermind the fact that she was also very annoyed at him all but calling her out on her lie. It wasn't like she could say that her teammate would lose against the Konoha nin, was it?

"Why are you even here?"

"Now, that's the question, isn't it?" He replied instantly after her question and she sensed a change in his voice, even if she couldn't tell precisely what it was. She then narrowed her eyes and gave it a moment of thought.

"Begin," She heard the proctor call, and her eyes focused on the fight. Akatsuchi immediately put an earth wall between himself and his opponent, who had snapped a Lightning Release technique at him. It hit the barrier harmlessly, but it had been a close thing, she thought.

"You know what's going to happen," Kurotsuchi pointed out, not turning towards him at any moment.

"... So he didn't tell you that?" He mused, low enough that she was sure he was talking to himself. It didn't make it any less annoying.

"Who and tell me what?"

"Your grandfather and that's not for me to tell," He replied easily, making her eyebrow twitch.

Meanwhile, inside the arena, Akatsuchi had already brought out one of his golems. The Uchiha, for his part, was trying a similar strategy to the one the Kumo nin had used against her friend in the preliminaries. Lots of Lightning Flickers try to poke Akatsuchi to death. She had to give it to Konoha nin though, he was already doing much better than the other girl had. Still, she was sure that it wasn't all that the boy could do, either of them, really.

"You think we are going to attack too, huh?" She asked in a low voice, making sure that nobody would overhear them. "Keeping an eye on me?"

"Well, that too," He answered ambiguously and Kurotsuchi was taken aback by the blunt admission. "But also the same reason I had in the forest, Princess."

"Can you imagine the fallout we would have if you died in our village?"

She remembered. Oh, did she remember.

"Don't call me Princess," She muttered.

Kurotsuchi grit her teeth in frustration, feeling acutely aware that there were Iwa nin hidden somewhere close acting as bodyguards for her. Not only were his own people obsessed with protecting her, but so were ninja from other villages. Even Konoha, who was supposed to be as close to their enemies as one could get without a war going on.

She should have felt happy, when she saw Akatsuchi getting a solid hit on his opponent. It was a normal punch, which while good wasn't all that, really, but it was still more than the Uchiha could say. However, all she could think about was what her grandfather had told her would happen. Was it the same with the boy next to her?

"Did you tell him?" Satou asked then. From the corner of her eyes, she could see him looking at the battle two, his face not giving away any opinion on that or what they were talking about.

"I did… Today..." She admitted, although she didn't know why. "I was told I shouldn't but I just..."

"Couldn't not tell him about such a thing," He finished for her, his tone sounding bitter. Turning to look at him, she noted a half-smile that held no happiness on his face. "You are a better person than me, then. I only told my friends today because they confronted me about it."

It should have been a victory for her, she mused.

Instead, Kurotsuchi was left without even knowing what she was feeling regarding that.

"Sasuke is about to end the match," He warned her, and her attention snapped back to the arena only to frown. Nothing much had happened in that second she was distracted. What was he talking about?

Then, it happened. Akatsuchi's opponent used a Flicker once more, this time, however, he moved back and stayed there instead of going back in. 'He put Aka's earth wall between them,' She realized with a blink of her eyes.

Once there, he stood for a split second before starting to go through hand seals. 'Many hand seals', she thought with growing dread. Her teammate, trying to prevent whatever it was that his opponent was doing, commanded his golem and jumped to the side, trying to get the other boy into his sight.

This proved to be his undoing, the Uchiha cutting his technique short and Flickering right in front of Akatsuchi, his electrified foot hitting him square in the chest. Then, with but a couple more, he used the first technique he had shown in the match, a discharge of lightning shooting right from his hands.

That was all for the match.

"Was that series of seals a bluff?" She asked, grimacing in sympathy for her friend.

"It wasn't, I think. But this was a better outcome, if I'm right," The Satou answered. She wasn't sure why she asked, it wasn't like she would believe him anyway. For that matter, she wasn't sure why he even answered. "Good luck in your match, Princess," He added, before stepping away and going to join his friends.

"I'm fighting against someone from your village, you know?" She pointed out as he continued moving.

"I'll be wishing Lee luck too," He told her, waving his hand over his shoulder.

As she looked at this retreating form, she narrowed her eyes. 'What was that about?' She wondered, confused. Obviously, it hadn't been any of the answers he had given her.

He wasn't there because he thought she was a threat, otherwise he would have been much more on guard, she was sure. Besides, it wasn't like she would do something in the few minutes he had been there. It was useless to approach her for that, Satou could have just as easily kept an eye on her from the other side of the balcony where he had been beforehand. He could certainly make his way over to her in less than a second if anything happened.

Much the same reasons could be applied to guarding her in case someone attacked her. Watching over her for only a few minutes was almost a waste of time. If he had wanted to do that, he would have done so from the very beginning. So…

Why?

Kurotsuchi saw him turn around once he reached his group of friends and sent a look her way. Seeing her confused expression, he smirked. That made the girl's eye twitch in annoyance. 'Smug bastard,' She thought, before she was pulled from her thoughts when the proctor called her over to the arena.

Her eyes darted towards her opponent.

Rock Lee was… something, that was for sure. Not someone to be underestimated, Kurotsuchi knew that much. However, he was also very… interesting, some would say. She would call it annoying, if anyone asked her.

He was too loud and, frankly, dumb to be a ninja, in her opinion. However, he was skilled, strong and fast. In a direct fight like this one would be, he was in his element.

Kurotsuchi wished she could give it her all. She was sure that it would be enough to beat the Taijutsu specialist. Sadly, her grandfather had recommended her not to use too much of her Chakra or exhaust herself too much. Not with what was coming, nevermind the fact that this was a tournament, meaning that she would need some strength left over for another round if it came to that. Especially so when she would have to fight the Mist ninja after this before they got to the next stage of the Third Test.

Still, the Invasion was the important part, and she knew it. If she lost, she lost. It wasn't a big deal, her grandfather had said, and she had agreed.

It would hurt her pride though.

As she stepped down the stairs towards the arena, she tried to keep her mind calm. Which wasn't easy, what with her opponent eagerly running down shouting at the top of his lungs. He was really annoying. Her mind recited the plans she had made for this fight, distracting her from the irritating boy.

Plans that would never come to pass because, when she took the first step into the arena…

The wall behind her and the arena itself blew up.

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

God, I'm really enjoying not writing from Eiji's PoV. This is really fun, not gonna lie. I may even write this whole Arc like this, honestly. We'll have to see though. We all know how my plans usually go.

Anyway, I'm sure nobody expected that Kiba PoV that I threw in there. Hopefully you'll like it. I had several comments throughout the series about him and I always tried to explain myself when the topic came up. I never planned on bashing him, honestly. It's just that, considering his personality and the events that came to be, that's how my mind saw him acting. I actually try to avoid actively bashing anyone.

Anyway, I think that's all. I hope you enjoyed the chapter.

As always, if you can't wait until next week for next chapter, there's up to three new chapters in my Pa tre on:

P a treon . com (slash) AdrianKing

Random Question: I don't know if I've asked this already or not (I'm losing track of what random questions I've already asked, if you hadn't noticed) but… do you prefer warm weather or cold weather? I prefer the cold, honestly. I hate sweating and I'm a person that sweats a lot. The cold is much easier to deal with, just wear some warmer clothes and that's it.

See you.