"Congatulations! You've passed onto the...WHAT THE HELL?! NARUTO!"

As Umino Iruka, the person that had been reverse-summoned to the Forest of Death Tower via the scrolls that Naruto had just opened, quickly hurried towards the bloody and battered Uzumaki he also took in the sight before him. Naruto looked as if he had just walked through hell itself and was obviously on his last legs. Uchiha Sasuke was currently being held between two Naruto-clones; the dark-haired youth was unconcious or at least seemed that way with his head hanging the way it was. Naruto was helping Okoi stand though it looked more like he was simply propping her up so she wouldn't fall, the girl's head was resting slightly on Naruto's shoulder and Iruka could see blood dripping from her mouth.

Just as Iruka had helped the two clones lay Sasuke on the ground after leading Naruto and Okoi over towards a bench against the wall, three ANBU and two medic-nins appeared which shocked the chunin since he hadn't yet called for assistance.

"I was the one who alerted them Umino-san." Came a grave voice and drew the attention of the scarred man and the two genin. Naruto cringed slightly at seeing Tenzo, or Yamato as he was to be called now; Naruto had no clue what the man's real name was and any attempts to find out were denied. Iruka blinked in surprise before moving out of the way of the medic-nins who rushed towards Sasuke. One of the ANBU had moved towards the other two members of Team 7 and was speaking to them in low tones.

"Yamato-san. Uchiha Sasuke is dead." Came the calm voice of one of the medics. Iruka's eyes widened in shock and he spun away from the jounin to look at the body of his former student in disbelief. It was almost surreal to the chunin. Just a moment ago he had laid out the genin and was sure there had been a pulse and now Sasuke was in a black body bag that was being zipped up before his eyes. Where did that bag come from? When was it even taken out?

"Umino-san.' The jounin called, causing Iruka to slowly turn back towards the older man. It was obvious he was in shock, and had he been more aware he would've noticed that the medics had quickly exited the room; he would've noticed that neither Naruto nor Okoi had looked in any way surprised and they had, in fact been ushered out of the room by the ANBU that had been speaking to them; he would've noticed many things but it's safe to say he wouldn't have noticed the genjutsu that was now over him.

A few minutes later Iruka's eyes blinked furiously and he stared at the fingers that were snapping in front of his face. Flushing in embarrassment, he looked back up at the less-than-amused jounin.

"Ah! I apologize Yamato-san! It's just, Sasuke-kun's death is quite the shock. I mean, he was number one in the academy. I had never pictured him being the first in his age group to die, and especially not in the middle of the village."

"It's understandable, Umino-san. Though to believe that the academy, in any way, could prepare a genin with less than a year's worth of experience for the Chunin Exams is a bit of a reach. Though I dislike speaking of the dead so negatively, it cannot be overlooked that Sasuke-san was average in terms of his clan. I'm sure you can think of at least a dozen or more of his kin who had been just as strong as him before the massacre, not to mention those that were stronger. Now, I shall leave it to you to inform Hokage-sama about this."

With that, and with no room for questions or further comments, the intimidating man walked out of the room leaving Iruka alone. As silence surrounded him, his mind began to race with what he had just seen and learned. There was also this nagging feeling that certain things didn't add up and perhaps had he more time to think about it Iruka might've come to certain realizations however the sudden appearance of Team 8 derailed his train-of-thought.

"...congratulations; Kiba-kun, Shino-kun, and Hinata-chan..." He didn't even bother to think about the fact that the trio hadn't opened their scrolls, instead he allowed himself to be mentally lead away from the events of just a few minutes ago.


Chapter 11...

[Contestant Waiting Room: Forest of Death Tower of Operations.]

The room itself was rather confining. All it would need would be bars on the windows to add to the visual effect of the room being like a jail cell. Naruto wondered briefly about the dimensions of the room and whether or not it had been apart of the original designs to create such a cramped atmosphere before catching himself and forcefully thinking of something else.

If someone, back during his academy days, had ever told Naruto that one day he would be thinking of anything to do with math just out of curiosity Naruto would've laughed until he was blue in the face then pranked the ever-living hell out of the person for ever believing that Uzumaki Naruto would ever willingly think about math.

"Math sucks." All movement in the room ceased and Naruto, suddenly remembering he was not alone in the room, flushed with embarrassment. A steady hand appearing on, and squeezing, his right shoulder brought his attention to the weary face of Okoi. She wasn't as damaged as Naruto and Saimon had been, but that wasn't to say she hadn't escaped unscathed; the bandage wrapped around her head that left only one eye, part of her nose, and one ear uncovered was testament to that fact.

'A concussion' Naruto recalled one of the medics saying. 'and a hair-line fracture of...something or another'.

"Naruto...' Okoi started, as she slowly wrapped her arms around the younger teen's neck and hugged him gently. 'Thank you. If it wasn't for you, Saimon would've been killed by that...that..." Okoi shook her head as she pulled away and moved back over to sit next to her unconscious brother. Naruto let his eyes rove over the guy who had been wearing the face of Naruto's dead teammate since before the start of the exams.

Naruto didn't really know what to think. He, at first, didn't like Saimon simply because he was using a technique to make himself look like Sasuke. Something about that offended Naruto to such a degree that the young blonde wondered if he actually hated this person he had never met before. Then, as was normal for someone like Naruto, he let those feelings go and surprisingly began to accept the foreign shinobi. Saimon may only be a few years older than him, but Naruto could understand and accept that the older teen was very wise and when he spoke then it would be prudent to listen to his words.

'You're on a roll with all these fancy words...' Naruto shook his head slightly and cleared his mind. He didn't have time for the fox right now. He turned his head towards the door moments before it opened and two elderly men entered. Naruto stood at attention and bowed respectfully.

"Hokage-sama! Shimura-sensei!" He started before he was cut-off by the Sandaime.

"Naruto, report!"

"Hai!"


Forest of Death - Several hours prior to Team 7's completion of the Second Exam.

Naruto was doing everything in his power not to freak out; to not lose his nerve. For the last day and a half he had been forced to watch the murder of everyone he held dear; a short list but devastating none-the-less.

Then, Itachi found out that Naruto knew of his parents and the images got worse. His father was shown to him; cruelly laughing at the hardships Naruto was forced to endure at the hands of the villagers that the Yondaime "favored" over his son. The Yondaime then ripped the Kyuubi out of Naruto only to reseal it inside him again. Sometimes the Yondaime would take out his special tri-pronged kunai and repeatedly stab the younger blonde with it.

Naruto's mother, however, had only appeared once and this was the only time that Itachi showed any hint of emotion at all since the start of this little horror show. Itachi's eyes had widened when he had used his Tsukiyomi to conjure and image of Uzumaki Kushina to torture Naruto with. The image of the redhead appeared but didn't follow Itachi's unspoken order; instead, the woman looked upon 'her' son and then slowly turned her head to face Itachi...then vanished.

Naruto did not say a word about the loving look his mother gave him before facing Itachi; it was what had allowed him to keep his composure for this long. Likewise, Itachi did not visibly react to the look of intense hatred and utter disappointment that Kushina had sent him. It was the latter that had actually shaken him. He, of course, remembered the redhead who had been the only person that could truly get an emotional response out of the Uchiha prodigy; those emotional responses were usually mild contempt and embarrassment due to the older woman's pranks and crude comments whenever she was 'annoyed' with him.

Kushina had actually been something like a sensei, if not elder sister, to Itachi. She had taught him numerous tactics that she had learned from her Uzumaki heritage as well as a few fire techniques that Konoha, not even the Uchiha clan, knew. For her, even an illusionary image of her, to look at him with such disappointment...


Forest of Death Tower

"How could you possibly know what he was thinking or how he felt after he failed to use your mother to torture you?" The question came, not from Danzo, but from Fu. The slightly-older blonde had never really liked Naruto. Ever since the boy had been brought into ROOT, many things had changed. While that list was too long to go into, it wasn't the fact that things had changed, it was the fact that Fu felt Danzo had been forced to make changes because of Naruto.

As for Naruto's opinion, the fact that Fu showed his dislike towards him was a win. Naruto hated the whole "emotions are useless" crap that the old man had tried to get him to adhere to.

'another big word'

So, it didn't really bother Naruto that one of Danzo's most loyal (if that was even possible for any of those boring bastards to be more loyal) subordinates was openly showing emotion, even if it was negative and aimed at him.

'Drop in the bucket'

'And now philosophy? Color me surprised'

"SHUT THE FUCK UP KYUUBI! Naruto blinked and then focused on the unamused elder. He couldn't tell what Fu and Torune's expressions were but the masks didn't help.

"Uh...heh heh. Sorry about that Danzo-sensei. Kyuubi is being a bit more talkative today." Danzo's lone visible eye opened slightly.

"Is the beast angered due to the invasion of your mind?" Naruto winced and held a hand up to his head and tried to rub away the sudden migraine.

"No, well, he is now because of you calling him a 'beast'. Says that term denotes a lack of intelligence and the 'Mighty Kyuubi is the most intelligent being to have ever been unleashed upon this world'. Naruto went silent for a while and then cracked a grin. 'I just told him that for all his smarts, he got tricked and enslaved by an Uchiha and then was sealed away by not one, but three different Uzumakis. Even if it wasn't willingly in my case."

Danzo's eye closed again and he shifted; the only indication of his amusement...Naruto was pretty sure it was amusement.

"Anyhow, to answer your question Fu-lish*, I was getting to that part!"


Forest of Death

Itachi had my dad beat me up and kill me for a couple more hours before he finally said something

"Tell me, Naruto-kun. What really happened to my foolish little brother?"

The question was delivered in such a way that it only served to enrage a disbelieving jinchuuriki.

"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! YOU COULD'VE SIMPLY ASKED THAT FROM THE BEGINNING! NOT BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF MY TEAMMATES, WHO AREN'T EVEN FROM OUR VILLAGE I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW, AND THEN PUT ME IN TSUKIYOMI!...fuckin' asshole."

Itachi, had not been expecting this reply; or the hidden implications. He, being who he was, easily kept any surprise from showing to his prisoner.

"So, Danzo saw fit to inform you. I also see that the rumors of you being in ROOT are true." Naruto blinked then grimaced.

"Dammit, me and my big mouth. Yeah; yeah I know the real reason your clan was destroyed, same way I know that you didn't like what you saw when you tried using my mom against me."

And how is that, Uzumaki?

I'm getting to that Fu-lish! Let me freaking talk!

Uzumaki-san, it is obvious Fu does not like that nickname. It is illogical to continue to provoke him.

Quiet Shino-Number-two!

..."Because of my grotesque levels of chakra, I am crap at genjutsu. Can't use it, can barely dispel it. At least, not on my own..."

"'Grotesque'?" Was the only reply. Naruto lowered his head so that his bangs shadowed his eyes.

"Take care, Uchiha Itachi. You've upset me enough already, but to insult me now might be the last straw."

Itachi's eyes widened and he quickly bowed and hurriedly attempt to pacify the young powerhouse.

"I'm sorry Naruto-sama! It was a slip of the tongue and I..."

Naruto!

Sorry, sorry! Hey wait! Okoi! I didn't hear you come over! How ya do...

Uzumaki.

"'Grotesque'?" Was the only reply and Naruto flushed in indignation and embarrassment.

"Sh-shut up! You don't even know me so you can't judge me! My vocabulary isn't complete yet so sometimes I use the wrong words!"

"Why not simply use a simple word? Such as 'large' or even 'massive'?"

"...everyone'sacritic' He muttered under his breath. 'Forget about that! The reason I know what you were thinking, and how I know about the truth of your clan is something that I can't really explain."

Upon seeing Itachi slightly narrowing his eyes Naruto hastened to clarify his answer.

"It's not like I'm saying I wont! I'm simply saying that I can't answer...simply! It's not a bloodline or something like the Yamanaka, but, it's like I can hear people's thoughts and even see a part of their past whenever I'm in a fight. It works even better if I ask certain questions during the battle that makes my opponent recall certain memories. Kinda like interrogation, I...I guess you can say, I force them to show me their tells."

Itachi went silent at this and didn't even bother to show his surprise.

Why was I never told about this, Uzumaki?

Well! You would've been more careful about who I interacted with in spars and all that! When I found out, I still didn't know what to think of you. Not to mention I didn't know I could do this. Kyuubi was the one who pointed it out and after I got a bit better at it, I used it to find out if you weren't going to just off me one day or something and also to keep myself safe in the event that one day youdid decide to do just that.. Only reason I'm telling you know is cuz I got a big mouth and already let it slip, not to mention this Itachi thing is too important for me to keep this a secret any longer.

...that was a very clear and concise explanation Uzumaki. The fact that you had such a useful skill and despite not being fully willing to divulge the information, you made the right choice because of it's potential impact on the village. I am impressed.

...why do I feel like you just insulted me up, down, left and center?

"Very well." With those two words, the illusionary world of Tsukiyomi shattered and Naruto once again found himself in the forest. Looking around his eyes widened when he caught sight of the heavily injured Saemon, who no longer looked like Sasuke, and the unconscious, but visibly fine, Okoi. He quickly rushed over to them and started checking them over.

"I admit, I may have been a bit overzealous upon seeing someone using the image of my deceased brother for no acceptable reason. Your teammates will live, though the shape-shifter will need a few weeks in the hospital." Naruto whirled around on Itachi completely infuriated.

"No real reason?! The only reason Saemon had to use your brother's face was because of this damn village's rose-tinted view on your piece-of-shit traitorous clan! I may have, and actually still do, considered Sasuke my friend and I miss him, but you know more than anyone else that your clan didn't and still doesn't deserve the pedestal Konoha placed it on! The majority of the village doesn't even know Sasuke's dead! Saemon was ordered to use his skills to act as Sasuke until this part of the exam where he would be pronounced dead in such a way that it wont diminish his memory or the reputation of his clan!

Itachi remained silent as Naruto once again turned away to continue checking on his teammates.

"Tch! It would've been a hard pill to swallow if the villagers found out their precious Uchiha died on his very first mission out of the village...and by his own hand!"

Naruto froze as he felt his presence standing directly behind him. Despite the heavy impulse, Naruto remained facing forward.

"...he took his own life?" The question was spoken in a dead tone barely above a whisper.

Naruto clenched his eyes shut as the memory of Sasuke's unseeing eyes staring up at the sky...the vicious tear in a pale throat...the utter relief on the young boy's face that spoke of how much Sasuke was happy to 'end it'.

"He...it was too much for him. The killing intent from Zabuza. Danzo-sensei thinks that the massacre and you using the Tsukiyomi on him that night had been the building blocks that lead to his breakdown. The KI had just been the catalyst. Sakura-chan wasn't any better, I...I only saw her and was able to stop her but Sasuke...I never would've thought, back then, that he would've ever done..."

A soft thud sounded in front of him and Naruto opened his eyes to see a scroll.

"Inside is the body and head of Yakushi Kabuto. I believe you were on a mission to kill him? Also, know that Orochimaru of the Sannin is here in Konoha. He wants the Sharingan and now I am the only one with Uchiha blood that Orochimaru will target. He has created a technique that allows him to take over, and make his own, a person's body. He attempted to do this with me a while back. He was after my brother but apparently wasn't aware of...Orochimaru isn't one to admit defeat. I am sure he had other targets in mind if he wasn't capable of getting my brother; you might be a target yourself."

Naruto turned his head and watched as the Uchiha nuke-nin began to make his way out of the clearing.

"For telling me the truth; for being a friend to Sasuke...I have repayed you, both with the lives of you and your team as well as completing your mission for you. Akatsuki, which I am apart of, wishes to collect all the Bijuu in the Elemental Nations. Jinchuuriki do not survive, once caught. Farewell, Naruto-kun."


"I see. Uzumaki; You have three days until the end of the second task. Depending on the number of finalist, there might be a preliminary series of bouts in order to bring the number of contestants down for the finals. Kisaragi-san' Okoi looked up at hearing her name. 'You do not have to win, or even compete, in the preliminary if you choose not to. Naruto, you have no choice."

Naruto rolled his eyes as he tossed the scroll with Kabuto's body towards Torune. He had acted like he was going to toss it to Fu but changed the direction of his aim at the last second much to the older blonde's frustration.

Okoi rested a hand on Naruto's right shoulder and gave it a squeeze before moving back to her brother's side.

Naruto watched as the Sandaime, his sensei and the two older ROOT operatives left the room before he, himself, leaned back against the wall behind him and slid down to the floor. He brought his legs up and then crossed his arms over his knees before resting his face in the crook of one of his elbows.

'You're not the only Uchiha out there Itachi; not yet.'

Within Naruto's mindscape, the Kyuubi opened a single eye at his host's latest thought and a wide smile full of massively-large, sharp, teeth appeared in the dark.

Soon...Madara!


*edit* 11/12/13 - Made some corrections, added a bit to a few sentences. Nothing really major except where Itachi cautions Naruto that he [Naruto] may be a target for Orochimaru.

*"Fu-lish" (read like foolish) just a play on Fu's name

I live! Aha! No. Yes!

So...it's been a long while. Summer is over (*cough*) and I'm back at school. I was in a writing mood this morning and I actually have class in 5 minutes so I need to go get my laundry.

Anyhow, I am working on the next chapter of my HP fic also on a new addtion to Random Ideas.

I don't know when next I shall update this chapter. I will commit now, that the next chapter will immediately go into the pre-lim matches though I haven't decided who will fight who. BUT! Naruto will unveil one of his new techniques, it's actually an answer to a question a certain reviewer had.

Hrm..."Thank You!" to all those who have reviewed, put this fic on follow/favorite and those who pm'd!

CD! the XPG!