AN: due to some plot-holes in the main continuity I am going to change some things up nothing too major but slightly noticeable. Thanks to Midnight Lost and Nobodyufgs for looking this over.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto


"talking"

thoughts

Bijū talking/jutsu

* scene changes *


Out In The Open

Natsumi, her clone carrying the still unconscious Sasuke, and Sakura were speeding through the forest, it had been about a few minutes since they left the clearing. Natsumi had made a few more clones to scout ahead for traps and enemies.

So far nothing of note had come back to the group. The silence was starting to wear on Sakura as she still had questions. A few more minutes of silent running, Sakura was at her limit, and spoke out, "Natsumi! We need to talk, now!"

Should have known this was going to happen, Natsumi thought as she merely nodded to her clone, signaling they were to stop at the next branch. The group stopped, and the clone set down Sasuke, leaning him against the body of the tree, before dispelling.

Natsumi turned to her teammate, before saying, "Is this a question you think Sasuke should hear, because if so, I rather not repeat myself, and would respectfully decline to answer till all could hear it."

Sakura let out an aggravated groan before sighing and said, "You're right, he should hear your answer as well. When do you think he will wake up?"

"Not sure, but shouldn't be much longer. I didn't hit him that hard." Natsumi answered, "I could also slap him real hard to wake him up that way, if you would like?"

"What! No! Don't slap Sasuke!" Sakura shrieked, with a look of pure horror.

"Ugh, what's that shrieking, it's annoying." Sasuke groaned out. "Also what happened?" He said as he managed to look at his teammates.

"In order: Sakura and long story short we got our asses handed to us, then we got ambushed, a big fight happens. Then whatever Orochimaru put on you, turned you into even more of an annoying ass, and I had to knock you out." Natsumi summarized, while receiving a glare from Sakura.

"Where are we?" Sasuke asked.

"On a tree branch a few minutes away from the clearing where we originally dealt with the ambush. To answer your next question, we stopped since Sakura has questions that can't be waited on and she also thought you should hear the answers." Natsumi answered both the asked and unasked questions.

"Fine, but let's make this quick." Sasuke huffed.

"Okay. Sakura, what is your first question?" Natsumi asked her pink haired comrade.

"Why were you a boy?" Sakura bluntly inquired.

"That is a long story." Natsumi sighed out. "To clarify, yes, I was born a girl. No, it was not my willing choice to be a boy. The reason I was a boy for as long as you two have known me, is because when I was about seven years old, which if you remember is about a year into the Academy, I was living in an apartment building with the most Kami awful landlady. Long story short, she pissed me off one day and in response I burned down the building with her inside. The tenants survived, she only got second degree burns. And because I used a jutsu that I probably shouldn't have known, the Hokage decided to place a seal on me that would not only keep me docile and practically dumb, but had the added affect of turning me into a boy apparently. Though it was more like a Transformation Jutsu if anything else." Natsumi explained, her tone becoming more spiteful near the end.

"Wait, I think I would remember seeing you as a girl." Sakura rebutted.

"Sakura, how old are you?" Natsumi asked in a form of challenge.

"Twelve, why?" Sakura responded.

"How old were you when you started the Academy?" Natsumi questioned.

"Six, again why?" Sakura growled a bit in annoyance. What's she getting at? Sakura thought to herself.

"And how many times in a year is the Final Graduation Test usually given, without considering early graduations or other circumstances?" Natsumi continued her counter interrogation.

"At most, once per year, again why?" Sakura asked not sure what her teammate was getting at. What does this have to do with this situation, what am I missing here? She racked her brain around these questions.

"You remember hearing about me or Naruto, that is, having failed it twice prior to finally graduating?" Natsumi again counter questioned.

"Yes." Sakura bluntly stated. Again what is the point here?

"What do you think that means for my age?" Natsumi inquired.

"It means….Oh!...Wow, I can't believe I nearly missed it. You're at least two years older than us, since you would have had to retake the final year over." Sakura figured out with an embarrassed blush on her face, before quickly saying. "But that would also imply that you are at least two years older than us, you should have been recognized by the older teams and vice versa. Why did they act like they didn't know you?"

"I can only speculate on that. My main theories are that, the Hokage had a Yamanaka wipe peoples memories of me being a girl or, in the case of my classmates, converted any memory of me being a girl to a boy. Or the most likely one is the seal had the added effect of making people not bother with remembering anything significant about me, unless they are in constant contact with me. Though I do plan to beat the answers out of the decrepit old man when I get the chance." Natsumi answered, with a sadistic grin on her face near the end of her tale.

After a few moments of silence, Sasuke spoke up. "Where did you learn that jutsu?"

"That is an S-Rank secret." Natsumi sighed, causing both Sakura and Sasuke to sweat-drop."However, I don't give a shit about what that old monkey thinks. I am what most people refer to as a Jinchūrriki, literally it means power of human sacrifice. Anyway, Jinchūrriki are people that have a Bijū sealed inside of them. Mine happens to be the Kyūbi. And yeah the Fourth Hokage didn't kill it, he could only seal it into me. Anyway I can talk to the Kyūbi, and he has taught me some jutsu." Natsumi smirked at her teammate's expressions while she explained her situation. Kami, I wish I had a camera right now. Their faces are just priceless. She thought as she looked at the shocked expressions on her teammates' faces.

Waiting a few more minutes, Natsumi sighed and said. "We should probably get moving. We have stayed still too long. No telling what potential enemy is lurking around." Well, that's not true. My clones' memories would return to me and give me warning. I am surprised that my fake personality never noticed the extra memories. Natsumi contemplated her current situation.

That got the result she was looking for. Sakura and Sasuke were shocked out of their stupor, and prepared themselves to move. Not before Sakura spoke out one final question. "Wait….Do you like Sasuke?"

Is she fucking serious right now? Natsumi thought with a flat look on her face, and a what the fuck look from Sasuke, he clearly thought the same. With an even tone, Natsumi responded with, "Sakura, I rather masturbate using a cactus or a rusty kunai, than ever consider going on a date or being romantically involved with that emo piece of shit." Her answer received a sigh of relief from Sakura and a death glare from Sasuke. "Besides, while I might not have been in total control of myself with the seal in place, I was able to influence some of Naruto's choices. And considering who he was always trying to get a date with, what do you think my sexual preference is?" She stated with a smirk, before continuing, "Of course, I could be into guys as well, just not Sasuke. But now is not really the time for this discussion, we still have an exam to pass. Let's get moving." She said as she turned her back to her teammates and prepared to begin their journey again.

"Damn. She's right we have to get moving." Sasuke grumbled as he picked himself up.

"R-Right." Sakura stuttered out, clearly still unsure of the information given.

"Oh, one last little tidbit of information: That was not actually Sasuke that said your forehead was kissable. It was my sealed self transformed as the emo, while Sasuke was tied up." Natsumi said as she started to jump to the next branch.

"W-What? Is that true?" Sakura screamed. No, no that can't be true. Her mind denied.

"As much as I hate to admit it. I was tied up by Natsumi, or was it technically Naruto, that day. So most likely any interaction you had with me prior to my escape, which was near the end of the lunch hour. So it was most likely her." Sasuke grumbled.

"Get the lead out you two, we don't have much time left in this exam." Natsumi called out.

"Come on Sakura." Sasuke snapped as he jumped to the next branch.

"O-Okay." Sakura stuttered before following behind.


* a few hours later, Entrance to the Tower *

It had taken Team 7 a few more hours to reach it, but here they were. They had finally made it. "We made it!" Sakura cheered, stating the obvious, in a slightly worn-out manner. They had found a few entrances already but they had been locked, they finally found an open one.

"Yeah. I am just glad my clones were able to give the competition some wild gooses to chase." Natsumi commented.

"How did you know what was going on with your clones anyway?" Sasuke spoke.

"It's something I learned about while stuck in the seal. Anytime Naruto used a Shadow Clone, I noticed I would have extra memories when they dispelled. My guess is that it's a function of the jutsu and Naruto never truly noticed this. If he had he would have used them for surveillance." Natsumi contemplated the matter.

"Well either way, it helped us out big time. Now let's head in and finish this test." Sakura said.


* Interior of the Tower *

The room they found themselves in was for the most part empty, except for two overhanging platforms with doors leading out of the room and a plaque with some sort of inscription on it in the middle of the wall in front of them. Natsumi glanced at it for a moment. "Huh….I think this phrase is a hint to what we should do next, or at least that's my guess." She commented about the inscription.

"If heavenly qualities are your desire, acquire wisdom; take your mind higher. If earthly qualities you lack, train your body, prepare to attack. When heaven and earth are opened together, the perilous path will become righteous forever." Sakura quoted the inscription.

"I think we need to open the scrolls now." Sasuke put his two cents in.

"Yeah I have to agree, it's basically saying so." Natsumi concurred. "Sakura, you and me, on the count of three." She said to her fellow female teammate.

"Right, here is the Earth Scroll, I will open the Heaven Scroll." Sakura said as she handed the scroll over.

"Ready? One...Two….Three!" Natsumi counted out. The two kunoichi opened their scrolls.

"Shit! Those are summoning scrolls! Toss them quick!" Sasuke shouted out, having gotten a quick glimpse at the contents.

Heading his warning, both girls threw their respective scrolls on the ground. Either through luck or something else, the scrolls overlapped perfectly and the summoning was a success. With a puff of smoke, a man of average height and build, clad in the Leaf Village Chunin standard uniform, the only defining features were his brown hair done in a ponytail and a thin scar across the bridge of his nose under the eyes, appeared before the three Genin.

"Iruka sensei?" Sakura called out in confusion.

"Hello Sakura." Iruka said as he took in the sight of the kunoichi in front of him. "Sasuke." He continued with a nod towards the young shinobi. "Last but not least, Na- Oh shit!" Iruka had started to speak but soon realized his mistake.

"Hello sensei, long time no see." Natsumi spat out with venom in her voice and a glare that could freeze the nine circles of Hell.

"Na-Natsumi. Y-You're out!" Iruka stuttered. This is bad, very bad. He panicked.

"Indeed. Now, while I would love to get reacquainted, and clear up some unfinished business that we both share. We are still in the middle of the exam, and it is clear you have a part to play." Natsumi stated in a tone that clearly promised misery, pain and most likely death for the panicking Chunin in front of her.

"Yeah, Iruka sensei, let's get a move on before what ever this is goes any further." Sakura interjected, clearly not wanting to be around what ever was about to go down between her teammate and former sensei.

"R-Right. Right. Anyway, I am to congratulate your team on passing the second test. And also explain the phrase that is on the wall behind me." Iruka stuttered at the beginning before getting his confidence back. "The phrase on the wall here, is the Chunins' motto, originally thought up by the Third Hokage." He began to explain, and noticed the harsh glare Natsumi had when he mentioned the Third. Yeah, this is bad. "From the inscription, you can probably guess that Heaven and Earth represent the Mind and Body respectively. If your mind is lacking, get as much knowledge and information as possible. If the body is your weakness, train more and build up your strength. When you have both, then nothing will stand in your way." Iruka finished his lecture.

"If I were still in that seal, my transformed self would have definitely needed to train his mind. Perhaps, considering past events, I should as well." Natsumi commented. And never again trust a certain Academy teacher, the bastard led me straight into that trap, and I lost seven years of my life. Oh, you're going to pay Iruka, you better believe it. She thought practically salivating at the thoughts of revenge.

"And I guess I should focus more on my physical strength as well." Sakura lamented. I really am the weakest out of the three of us.

"Glad to see you are both acknowledging your weak points. Now as there is still a day before the second test is done, I will now escort you to your temporary rooms. You will have the rest of your time here to relax." Iruka stated. And will give me time to report to the Hokage. He needs to know that Natsumi is out. He thought to himself.

"And I am guessing after you show us to our rooms, you will be informing not only the proctors of our success, but also informing the Hokage of my sudden release. Am I wrong?" Natsumi smirked. "Don't answer that, I already know what your answer is. All I ask is you pass along a message for me." She said before waiting for a response.

"What message?" Iruka questioned.

"Tell him this: I will not be locked away again. And that Karma comes to collect her debt." Natsumi stated.

"Right, I figured as much. Come along you three, let's get this over with." Iruka said in a curt tone, that surprised Sakura and Sasuke. Before he turned his back and motioned them to follow.

"I have never seen Iruka that upset before. Have you, Sasuke?" Sakura asked her teammate as she fell in line behind her sensei.

"Never." Was Sasuke's short answer. Just what the hell is going on. He thought as he too fell in line.

"All answers will be revealed in time. Ghosts from people's pasts coming back to bite them in the ass is the gist of what is happening here. And how this all plays out is on how good of a liar the Hokage can be." Natsumi said from behind her teammates. Of course, nothing he says will ever justify what he did, and in the end people are going to die. Oh yes, there will be blood, how much is yet to be decided. Natsumi thought with a smirk and a subtle lick of her lips.