Naruto;

First Arc; Awakening

My standard form of writing applies.

" " - Spoken

' ' - Thought

( ) - Commentary. You should know how this goes by now. We see things. I have snarky smartass comments. You want laughs. I see a mutually beneficial deal here.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

Chapter 4 - The wierdness continues

~~Badadumdunbum~~

Oh, shit. Fuck. FuckfuckfuckfuckFUCK!

Not good. Very not good. Ungodly not good.

I can't remember my name. It's...

Sa- No, it's Sas-

Shit!

Rah... Faaaack!

Damnit!

...

Stop. Breathe. Relax.

Focus.

What is your name? Sasuke Uchiha.

That's not my name. It's- The name of the person whose body I am currently occupying.(If that makes sense)

But, I can't remember my own name.

Now that I think of it... I can't remember my friends' faces, nor their names.

S... Sa-

...

Sarah. That's the one name that shines through. All the others are, meaningless. Why? Why can't I remember?! Is it because Sasuke's memories are replacing my own? If that's the case... Why can I still clearly recall how to strip, clean, maintain and use every firearm I've ever owned? I still remember how to drive a car, even a stickshift. And the storyline of Naruto? And of Code Geass, Mass Effect, Resident Evil, Black Lagoon, Avatar? Damnit. None of this makes sense.

This isn't right. It's only my personal memories that are fading, and all in the course of a day! This is not good. If I'm not careful... I could wind up entirely forgetting who I am.

Most definately not good. I'd have to really think up a good solution to this.

...In the morning. Fuck, I'm tired.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Anko*

Early morning, well before dawn, the old man had sent someone to fetch her hungover ass. Still yawning, she shunshined halfway across the village, finally entering the tower.

"Mornin' Hokage-sama..." Stifling another yawn, she greated the great Third Hokage, seeing his worried visage through half-lidded eyes.

"Good morning, Anko-chan. I'm afraid I have what might be a difficult mission for you."

Her ear perked up at this. She loved a challenge. "Mmhm?"

The Third interlaced his fingers over his desk. "Kakashi has reported that Sasuke Uchiha is very different from what he expected, as if he became a different person overnight. Yesterday evening, Naruto came in and told me that Sasuke informed him of a secret that only five people in this entire village are privy to, including myself. You will fetch him, and bring him here this morning. After hearing his explanation, I will decide whether or not you will become his watcher. Now go."

The kunoichi nodded, and left to go look in on the brat.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Sasuke*

In the morning, I got up and yawned, then opened my eyes to find-

"HOLY SHIT!"

I jumped, hopping back in the bed as my sleep-crusted eyes bugged out. Squatting there on the edge of my bed, (With her bloody sandals on my sheets, too, damnit) was Anko Mitarashi, dressed in her usual garish outfit; a fishnet body stocking, miniskirt, and beige trench coat.

"...What? You'd think waking up and finding a beautiful woman on your bed would be a good thing."

Okay, I admit, she's hot. If it weren't for the fact that I know full well that a Tokubetsu Jounin doesn't make housecalls to genin without reason, I'd probably have a boner. I'm waiting for her to spell out the reason she's here.

Ahem. I blinked owlishly at her, drawling, "Not when they've got their bloody sandals on your sheets. Hop off."

She rolled her eyes, stepping off my bed and staring at me as I, too, got up.

"Now, is there something I can help you with, miss Mitarashi?"

She quirked an eyebrow with a coy smirk. " 'Miss Mitarashi?' Well, aren't you well-mannered?"

I glared at her. "I'm trying not to be rude to you for just breaking into my room. We're ninja, after all. You'd think they'd have decent locks in a ninja village, but oh, no. By the way, fair warning, if I find my fridge empty, I'll skin you. Just how long were you sitting on my bed watching me, anyway?"

She casually inspected her nails. " 'Bout an hour."

I blinked again. This is starting to annoy me. "Oookay. And why were are watching me sleep in the wee hours of the morning? Are you secretly related to Hinata?"

Anko started chuckling at my comment. "Nope. Hokage asked me to fetch you when you got your candy ass outta bed."

Oh, this is just fucking lovely. Just what I need right about now. Naruto must've spilled his guts about me.

"Oookie-day, then. And, I have to ask, why did he send you and not one of the Anbu to abduct me in the middle of the night? Or my own sensei, for that matter?"

She shrugged, a gesture that nearly opened her trench coat enough to reveal her lovely breasts for my viewing pleasure. Nearly, nearly. Damnit.

"Dunno. I'm just supposed to escort you to his office before you leave."

"Huh... Ah, well. Mind letting me get dressed?"

She raised an eyebrow, grinning smugly. "Oh? Bashful, are we?"

Damnit, I am NOT letting her get the last laugh! I went this entire time without even looking at her tits, man! (A blatant lie) That's torture!

Rolling my eyes flippantly, I responded, "No, I was hoping you'd be courteous. But if you really wanna watch, that's your perogative." I immediately removed my shirt, dropping it, and pulled off my shorts, turning as I tossed them over my shoulder.

Clocking Anko right in the face with 'em.

Oh, I was cracking up, even if I'd regret that sooner rather than later. Just as I pulled down my skivvies, her face turned bright red, realizing she'd been played. After that was done, I went over to one of my dressers and started rooting around for an outfit.

I settled on the same as usual. Underwear, mesh underarmor, cargo pants, and an Uchiha high-collar shirt, this time a black one. Gloves, belt, packs, holster, weapons, and I was good to go. I picked up my bandana and tied it in place, before turning back to Anko.

She was still blushing slightly, brows furrowed as she glared at me.

"What? You thought I'd get all flustered?"

Despite being thrown-off, she kept her voice even as she growled, "Don't get smart with me, Gaki."

Gaki? Roughly translates to Brat, or Pest, I think.

I chuckled lightly. "Easy, viper-girl. No need to get hostile."

After I was dressed, I walked out of the room, Anko following. I went straight to the bathroom, and when Anko nearly followed me inside, I turned to her with a cocked eyebrow and cock-eyed grin. "What, you going to hold it for me?"

She immediately blinked, blushed, turned and leaned against the wall across the hall. "Don't you dare try to leave! I won't be as nice as the Anbu would."

Heh, she's cute when she blushes. Not that I vocalized that, she might take offense.

After taking a piss, giving my teeth a quick brush, I went to the kitchen, where she was leaning against one of the walls. I made a beeline for the fridge, and pulled out a package of cold-cut lunchmeat. I pulled a box of pre-made dango out of the freezer, before tossing it to Anko.

"Microwave's on the counter." I didn't pay any mind to her as I opened the plastic bag of turkey and ham, before tearing into it.

"Breakfast of crackheads," She sniped, popping several of the dumplings into the microwave.

"Hungry. Need protein. And you shouldn't talk, with your sweet tooth."

"Touche."

I polished off the meat, then grabbed a glass and filled it with water from the tap, drinking deeply. Once breakfast was done and over with, I noticed Anko was staring at me. "...Yes?"

She had an unreadable look in those beautiful chocolate eyes. "I was wondering how you knew my name."

I replied with a shrug. "You're hated nearly as much as Naruto. It's fairly easy to pick up on who the villagers dislike, as they're not exactly quiet about it."

"Huh," She grunted, having opened the microwave and flipped the dumplings over, before hitting the button to turn the device back on. (Which I was surprised to see, kinda like the TV. Really, ninja and modern technology?)

I leaned against the counter and cracked my neck. It'd been feeling stiff all morning.

"So your sensei is Kakashi, huh?" She broke the silence with a question.

"Yep, guy's a lazy pervert. You'd never think he's actually one of the strongest ninja in the village. Only thing about him that irks me is that he's always late, and gives shitty excuses. I'd be fine with it if he spoke the truth, but I swear... 'Lost on the road of life? A black cat crossed my path? A little old lady needed help getting across he street?' Bloody hell, if he just said he was screwing Tsume or staring at the memorial stone, I wouldn't say a word."

Anko's eye twitched. "...Screwing Tsume? As in, Tsume Inuzuka?"

I looked over at her, cocking a brow. "Yeah, why? When he showed up to our genin test late, he smelled like a sweaty, wet dog. With very strong undertones of musk and perfume, I might add. I'd bet fifty ryo he was in bed with her and woke up late."

Her eyes narrowed, and she looked VERY pissed-off. "Oh... No reason."

Aha. "You've slept with him, haven't you." It was a statement, not a question.

She just had to ask, "Is it that obvious?" I nodded, as it was very obvious from her reaction just now. She sighed, looking slighly glum. "I wouldn't say we were dating, since neither of us mentioned becoming exclusive again. But yeah... It was more than just casual sex. Wait. I shouldn't be saying this to a kid..."

I rolled my eyes petulantly. "Old enough to kill, old enough to drink, fuck, smoke and cuss. Your words, not mine."

She blinked, minutely stunned by my words. "Fair enough. Just last night he told me he wanted us to be nothing more than 'friends with benefits.' Now I know why, at least."

I shrugged once again. My shoulders were starting to get a little sore. "He's not known for his tact or social skills. Personally, if you want a life partner, you'd be better off with Naruto."

She barked a harsh laugh. "Ha! Yeah. Right. A kid half my age, that'd go over real well."

I shrugged. Okay, definately sore. More than enough stretching for one day. "Twelve years isn't much, once he's a bit older. Then again, once he pulls his head out of his ass, he'll realize that Hinata has a crush on him. If it makes you feel better, I wouldn't mind."

She blinked owlishly, sardonically saying, "Yeah, that's real comforting. I'm attractive to jailbait."

It was my turn to bark out a laugh. "Hah! Don't feel too bad. Two or three years and it's only immoral, not illegal."

She blinked, opened her mouth, shut it. Then opened it again. "You know what... I can deal with that. People already give me the stink eye when they think I won't notice."

The microwave dinged again, and she pulled out two sticks laden with glazed dumplings.

As she chowed down, we made more small talk. "Say, did they execute Mizuki yet? Or have they not figured out who he's working for?"

She stopped chewing for a moment. "How d'ya know 'bout dat?" This kid was remarkably well-informed, far more intelligent than he seemed. No wonder Cyclops ran to tell the Hokage he was acting odd after only meeting him twice.

I raised an eyebrow. "A leaf ninja tries to trick Naruto into stealing the sealing scroll so he can take it for himself, and you think that wouldn't get around? Yeesh, Naruto's retold the story of how he beat Mizuki to a pulp at least three times. And I remember that limp prick, his brain's too small to come up with that on his own. Guy's got more hair than brain cells. Kinda reminds me of Ino, now that I think about it."

She swallowed her mouthful of food, eyeing the kid warily. "...No, he hasn't talked, yet. Ibiki's already started throwing things in frustration. For someone so stupid, that traitor is remarkably resistant to interrogation."

I chuckled, imagining the big guy yelling and tossing chairs around. "That bad, huh? Well, he was a pushover if Naruto could pound him into the dirt without a scratch. The boys over at T&I shouldn't have too much difficulty making him talk. I'd say put his nuts in a vice if I thought he had any."

Anko had just taken a bite, but she coughed and choked, laughing with tears in her eyes as she tried not to choke on her food.

"...-Ulp. Gah, that's good! Hahahaha, I like you, kid. You're my kinda Genin."

It was one of my favorite tactics. "Eh, interrogation 101. Personally, I'd put an axe in his gut and start twisting. Then whisper a few sweet nothings in his ear. Something along the lines of, oh, I dunno, 'You have five seconds to start talking before I strangle you with your own intestines.' Brutal, but effective. Or you could always do it the Lothar way. Walk in with a hacksaw and tell him you're gonna cut his bollocks off before asking some questions." (Go read Exterminatus Now. Bloody hilarious webcomic)

Anko chuckled darkly. "That last one's been done. Very efficient. I think Ibiki's got a running tally of how many times some poor schmuck thought he was bluffing."

I couldn't resist chuckling at the though of Ibiki sighing, then adding another tic mark to a small chalkboard in the interrogation room. "Heheheh, well that's nice. Love life aside, you been getting on alright?"

She shrugged, picking her teeth with one of the dango sticks. "Can't really complain. Not dead yet, anyway."

Seeing her watching me so closely, I decided to fuck with her head a little, if only for shits and giggles. "Heh, if only everyone thought that way... We'd never hear people bitching about petty problems. Hey. That seal giving you any trouble lately?"

She opened her mouth to respond when she stopped dead, her eyes widening. "Who- How do you know about that?!" Her voice was accusatory, and she grasped the side of her neck in reflex.

I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes, stifling a chuckle. "Believe it or not, I'm not the naive genin I look like. I hear things... Things people only discuss when they think they won't be heard. Your former sensei really hates the village, y'know... And he's got some crackpot scheme to attack us within the year. I figure out of everyone, you'll be the first to notice when he rears his ugly head."

Anko continued to glare at me, growling, "Is that an accusation...?" Her eyes narrowed, but otherwise, her expression remained the same, despite her dangerous tone.

Y'know, she's even cuter when she's angry. "Hardly. To the extent of my knowledge, you hate Orochimaru more than anyone. And from the reports, that seal reacts to his presence. If I thought you worked for him, I would have kept my mouth shut, or found a way to eliminate you. I'm not stupid, thanks."

She relaxed slightly, but didn't take her eyes off me, the intelligence spinning in her eyes. "And just what reports are you talking about?"

I looked at her as if she were an idiot, my patented 'You are lucky I cannot force-choke you' stare. Sasuke's facial features naturally shift into this expression quite often. "My father was the chief of police. My brother was an Anbu Captain. After my brother's betrayal, even before the Anbu broke in to tear the place apart, I went through every scrap of paper in both of their offices, searching for a reason. I found none, but you'd be amazed at what people hide amongst tax forms. What I did find was... Shocking, to say the least. Our village has many secrets, even for a ninja village."

Her expression turned dubious. "Secrets?" She parroted, her voice now sounding as cute as she looked.

"The kind that throws everything you know in a blender and pisses on it, before lighting it on fire. Nearly everything we know as truth, is a lie. I'll leave you with this; do not trust Danzo, and never turn your back on him, or ROOT. He stole many of my families' eyes, including that of Shisui before his death, something my brother was blamed for. That old bastard has an agenda, one that would put Orochimaru's to shame. More than that, I cannot say."

"Danzo... The old man on the council? That warhawk?" She looked puzzled, and completely thrown for a loop.

Well, she's not the brightest bulb around, that's for sure. But she's cute.

While she tried to work out what I'd said, I turned and started for the door, calling back, "C'mon, we've wasted enough time for now. I'd rather not take after Kakashi and be late on my first day."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

She hurried after me as I pulled on my sandals and left, before we made our way to the Hokage Tower. It was still dark out, not even seven in the morning, yet. Shouldn't be too bad. If the old man asks too many questions, I'll play it off by saying it was buried in the tax reports in my father's office.(Excellent excuse) Good thing I'm a damn good liar, even if Sasuke isn't.

Took us another ten minutes to get to the tower. Once there, Anko took point and knocked on the door, walking in at the Hokage's say-so.

"I've brought the boy, Hokage-sama." Despite her inner turmoil/confusion, she was a consumate professional, and looked/sounded the part.

"Very good. You're dismissed, Anko." She nodded, turned and left. Leaving me standing before the Hokage.

With his piercing stare. "You wanted to see me?"

"Yes... You had a discussion with young Naruto yesterday?"

Ah-ha. I was right. "Yes. What of it?" I didn't sound curt, by the way. Difficult, but I tried to sound, ah, respectful.

Tried being the keyword.

"Did you mention anything of his parentage?"

I raised an eyebrow. "I spoke the truth. I wasn't going to lie to a friend about a sensitive subject."

The Third nodded sagely. "Very well. I'm not going to berate you for revealing an S-ranked secret, as you were never sworn to secrecy... However. How did you learn of this?"

I blinked owlishly, deadpanning, "Really? He's a dead ringer for the Fourth, has the same hair and eyes, and was born the same day Minato and Kushina died. Which is also the same day that the Kyuubi was Imprisoned- I mean, defeated. Wasn't too hard to figure out. Honestly? How has no one else figured this out, yet? Is this village full of idiots? ...Does our sensei know?"

The old man sighed, looking fairly sardonic. "No, no one but myself, my advisors, and one of the Sannin are aware of this. Now you, and Naruto, as well."

Interesting. Wonder how far I can take this without getting strapped to a chair and mind-probed. "Well, it concerns him, so I'm not sorry. He deserves to know. Not to mention, there were a few reports in my father's office that gave me a clue. Oh, yeah. Before I forget, you do know that Orochimaru is planning to attack the village, right?"

He blinked, hard. "...Are you serious?"

I nodded solemnly. "Of course. During the next Chunin Exam, I believe. He is currently the leader of Otogakure, the Hidden Sound village, and supposedly has a deal going with Hidden Sand. I can explain my reasoning, if you'd like."

"Do so." He deadpanned, staring holes in me.

This is going easier than I expected. "There were some reports in my father's office about his suspicions of Orochimaru, since he fled the village. He hates the village, everyone knows that. During the next exam, held here, he gains a chance to infiltrate the village by waltzing right in, for revenge against you, and the destruction of Konoha. If I recall, he also wants to acquire the sharingan, something my father Fugaku was absolutely certain of. He'll either come after myself, Danzo, Kakashi, or my brother. Seeing as Itachi is stronger than him, he'll double his winnings by targeting the village."

Hiruzen Sarutobi's expression was entirely unreadable, as expected. "And the sand?"

This is the more difficult and far-fetched bit to explain. "They hate the village, since we get many lucrative contracts that they themselves feel they should get. They're in a serious recession as is, but mix that with living in the desert? They're ready to go to war to ensure their survival. Orochimaru offers them a deal to take down a rival village, they'd eagerly accept, in the hopes that destroying us will bag them more jobs."

He looked more dubious than Anko had earlier, and seemed to be ignoring of mulling over my mention of Danzo. "That's some rather far-fetched reasoning. Though not unbelievable."

I shrugged. "There'll be more evidence of it later. By the way, has my brother reported anything recently?"

The Hokage stopped dead. As in, he fucking froze. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. This is the kind of mindfuck I live for, the kind that throws their entire mental process for a loop and a half.

"...Your brother has betrayed the village and become a missing-nin. You know this."

I blinked and stared at him expectantly. "Don't patronize me, old man. I know full well he was under orders to wipe out my clan, given an ultimatum by that thieving bastard, Danzo Shimura. I also know he begged you to spare my life. It took me until just a few days ago to realise he was never a traitor in the first place. Until then I had nightmares every night that he came back to finish what he started... So do not lie to me when we both know the truth."

"Your words border on insubordination." His tone was neutral, but had inflection behind it; there was a hidden threat in those words.

Ah, decisions, decisions, decisions. How to handle this...

I narrowed my eyes. "I'll be insubordinate if I damn well please. My entire family is dead, based on speculation and intrigue; my brother pays the price for the council's politics. If I had my way, I would kill every one of them involved in the massacre. Danzo used it as an opportunity to acquire as many of my family's sharingan eyes as he could, instigated mass murder, and walked away. The Hyuuga used the chance to gain power and influence in the village. Others took advantage of a traumatized boy with more wealth than he knew what to do with. So excuse me if I am not feeling very forgiving." For some reason, I wasn't just indignant, I felt enraged. I wanted to beat someone to death with their own arms.

Or maybe a spine or two, good to have some variety.

Sarutobi sighed once more. "There is nothing more to be said. I am sorry, but I did what I had to. Our best option for peace died with Shisui. The past cannot be changed."

I took a breath, forcing my mind into a state of peace. "No, it can't. But we can learn from our mistakes, and ensure they are not repeated, and that blood was not shed for nothing. When the time comes... I want to tell them, everyone. To honor my brother's sacrifice. To show that he has not been forgotten, has not disappeared, even if he intended to serve history from the shadows. He deserves that much." My own words moved me, and I felt that tightening in my chest. The kind that comes with great emotional turmoil.

Or indigestion, that breakfast of crackheads is starting to come back to bite my ass.

Hiruzen's expression hadn't shifted after regaining that calm neutrality. He was nearly unflappable. Nearly. "He is a true shinobi. One who sacrifices himself for his village, whose valor and honor are unknown by the public. But he will be remembered, by those who know the truth. And, perhaps, one day the people will come to learn that truth, and recognize him as a hero."

I chuckled drily. "It'll be the same day Naruto becomes Hokage. I've no doubt in my mind that that day will come."

The old man quirked an eyebrow. "When Naruto becomes Hokage? You wouldn't seek the title yourself?"

Me, wearing that goofy hat? I'll be cold in the ground before that happens. I shook my head, smiling. "No, I'm better suited to the frontlines. I'm too hotheaded to sit behind a desk, I'd wind up strangling the politicians within a day, and the cycle of hatred must be broken. Naruto's perfect to do just that."

Hiruzen chuckled. "Huhuhuhuhu, you're right. And I hope I'll still be around to see it when that day comes."

I barked a short laugh. "Hah! You hope? I say again, hah! Ojii-san, you're going to outlive us all." If I have anything to say about it, anyway.

"You won't be thinking that in another decade or two. Well, go on, then. You've got your first day as a real ninja today, and you don't want to turn out like your sensei. Oh, and before you go, don't mention what we've discussed to others."

"Sworn to secrecy and all that? Alright." There might be a handful of exceptions. Not many, but a few. Kakashi and Jiraiya, if they need a kick in the ass to get 'em moving. Always fun to guilt people.

I turned and left, making my way to the training field. I was still an hour early to the meeting, and Kakashi was still two hours late. I later asked Anko to help me in burning the bastard's book collection.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Anko*

Immediately after Sasuke had left the Hokage's office, the Jounin dropped out of the ceiling, having been listening in on the conversation. "Well, Hokage-sama?"

Hiruzen closed his eyes for a moment, thinking. After several moments, he said, "Sasuke is indeed acting strange, and made wild claims that I do not wish to verify via the Yamanaka. The risk of traumatizing him is too great. I will not give him another reason to hate the village that he is willing to risk life and limb for, the village that has already treated him so poorly. He has not done anything overtly treasonous, but you will watch him, gain his trust, become his confidant, and seduce him in the years to come. You will ensure his loyalty. That will be your top priority, until you are relieved of this burden."

The kunoichi shifted uncomfortably. It wasn't the first time she'd been tasked with seducing someone for the purpose of espionage, but a child? One of their own, even? It was unheard of... Even moreso for the purpose of keeping them loyal. "Must I, Hokage-sama? He's just a kid."

The Third's eyes opened, gaze as hard as iron. "For now. This is not going to be a short-term assignment, I'm afraid. You will be his teacher and big sister, watching out for him. But as he grows older, he will develop affection for you, I can guarantee it. This is your specialty, after all."

"...Very well, Hokage-sama."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

One week later

*Sasuke*

Well, I made it through the week. I'm still me, I think. Still can't remember shit, but hey. Now I honestly react to the name Sasuke, so I no longer second-guess myself at least. Not sure if I should be happy or sad about that, though. So far, I've got nothing along the lines of a solution to my fading memories.

But I did write down several important bits of information. Itachi not being a traitor, the old warhawk being a bastard backstabber, Pein being Nagato, the names of all the jinchuuriki, along with the names of several important individuals. Not to mention various important events and character weaknesses. Just in case I started forgetting things like that.

Oddly enough, I can still clearly recall reading and watching Naruto, as well as several other different anime. However... I can't remember the names or faces of anyone I watched it with.

Weird.

Anyway, our first week as genin was torture. We painted fences, picked up trash, cleaned gutters and sewers, and caught that bloody cat.

Six times. In under a week! Gah!

That aside, we each made a bit of money, around 1500 ryo per job, with Kakashi getting a 500 ryo chunk. So that's how the five grand was split, eh? Heh, it costs more than that to feed us after each job.

Moving on, other than making some pocket money, I usually wound up paying for food after our missions. There were benefits to being a clan heir, after all.(Stingy sensei) Other than that...

I picked up some new threads. More cargo pants, some long-sleeve shirts, a pair of cloaks for cold weather, and several new pieces of armor. I was sick of wearing sandals already, so I was ecstatic about finally getting some boots. Of course, my teammates made comments about my choice of footwear.

"They'll slow you down."

"Those'll make noise."

Of course, I then pointed out how both of them were disgusted when we had to clean out a sewer. Both of them spent a good five minutes afterwards cleaning muck out from between their toes. I got several pairs of heavy, high-quality plated shinobi boots.(Good for kicking and walking) Along with a pair of thicker, warmer ones for winter enviornments.(Land of Snow and all that, ya?)

Aside from clothes, I picked up new armor. Most ninjas wear mesh armor under their clothes, which I already had, but I decided to get something better for combat. An armguard and pauldron, worn on my left arm that acts as a shield against blows and projectiles. The pauldron protected my neck and upper arm, also giving me a way to fully guard my head from projectiles if need be. However, none of this affected my mobility, and I could detatch any part of it in seconds. Not to mention, as it was made for shinobi, by shinobi, it was silent.

Speaking of new steel, I finally broke down and bought a sword. Not one of the Anbu kind, but an actual sword. It took some convincing, but the weapon shopkeeper sold me a large, double-edged, straight-blade two-handed sword. Nowhere near the size of Zabuza's weapon, but I had difficulty swinging it with one hand. It would do perfectly when it comes to fighting someone wearing armor. I also picked up a knife and a tomahawk.

No, not a kunai, but a knife. A combat knife, not meant to be thrown, but for fighting and killing. I just liked having something I could rely on that was razor sharp, as I didn't much care for kunai as actual weapons. The axe was- Well, for chopping. And maiming. And for torture. Okay, okay, I got it because I like using axes. They're heavier than most other weapons, and hit a lot harder.

Not to mention, they're great for fighting in close quarters. You can trap an enemy's weapon, arm, leg or neck with it. Or simply break their weapon, which is a lotta fun. The look on someone's face when you snap their blade is priceless!

And, of course, I got a nice leather harness for carrying my sword. I also rigged up the sheath for my new 'hawk to latch onto it, keeping two of my new weapons on my back. My knife got tacked onto the pauldron, keeping it on my left shoulder at the ready. My team commented on my new 'accessories' with mirth, the bastards.

"So do you even know how to use those?" Naruto, the smart-alec.

"Geeze, Sasuke-kun... Those look heavy." Sakura, the fangirl.

Kakashi raised an eyebrow. "I hope those aren't going to just slow you down, Sasuke."

... Insensitive prick. I'll show 'em. I'll show 'em all!

No, not all of me, you perverts.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Sasuke*

It was another beautiful, boring Saturday morning when Sasuke woke up groggy as hell, his head filled with a heady, sweet scent. Like... Perfume.

After rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Sasuke found he was not alone, with only some surprise.

Quietly dozing next to him was Anko Mitarashi, having broken into his home once more. But apparently, she'd fallen asleep sitting on the edge of his bed. He blinked owlishly, wondering why she'd appeared in his home again while he decided what he'd do about it.

Can't fuck with her too much, she'd wake up before he even fully drew a dick on her cheek.

Could arrange the two of them into a more compromising position and then cry foul to mess with her head.

Could whip out his prick, slather some spit on it and really mess with her head.

The corner of his mouth twitched with mirth. That last one would be the funniest, though the irate Anko would very likely inflict great bodily harm upon the Uchiha for screwing with her head.

It was at this moment that the woman shifted and rolled over, curling herself up a bit, just a hint of drool leaking out of her mouth.

In a word, she was adorable. Sasuke then made his decision, shifting ever so gently, so they were nose-to-nose. After watching her eyes very carefully for movement, he decided she wasn't feigning sleep. So he said, rather loudly, "Miss Mitarasi."

Anko gave a start, practically bumping his nose with her own as she blushed, blinking owlishly.

Sasuke cocked a brow. "You know, if you're going to sneak into my bed, the least you can do is buy me dinner first."

The woman bounded off of his bed, immediately straightening herself out as she growled to herself, "Agh, fell asleep, damnit."

"Mmhm. I'd like to hear why you broke in again."

The woman rolled her eyes. "Oh, your bed is just so much more comfortable looking than mine, I had to find out for myself. I've been assigned to provide supplementary training for you, apparently, you left a good impression on the Hokage."

Mulling this over, Sasuke sat up, about to throw the covers off when he stopped short, glancing under them before turning a saronic eye on the kunoichi. "Very funny."

Anko stared at him, dumbfounded. "What?"

"Where the hell are my shorts?"

Blanching, the Jounin blushed bright red and stuttered, "Your sh-! Th-the fuck are you suggesting?!"

Sasuke chuckled and hopped out of bed, satisfied with her reaction. "Eheheheh, just fucking with you, you're cute when you blush."

He could practically feel the so-called 'killing intent' radiating off of her as he selected an outfit, calmly ignoring her until he was dressed and kitted out. Just as he tied his bandana in place, he felt her warm hands upon him, her soft breasts pressed against the back of his head... But something cold and hard pressing against his throat.

"Let's get something straight here, Romeo." Her sickly sweet sing-song voice rang in his ears, her warm breath on his neck. "You don't get to tease me. Next time you make a sexist remark like that, I'm going to hurt you. Do you understand?"

His reaction was not what she expected... He laughed, heedless of the steel against his neck. "Bwahahahaha! Is that your best effort to intimidate me? I've been cut up, burned, and stabbed more than once, lady, spent half my short life intent on killing the last of my kin, even if it cost me my life. You're not going to scare me."

Sasuke found himself forced to look straight up into her eyes, forced halfway closed by the too-wide, too sweet smile on her face. "Fearless, are you?"

As he gazed into those beautiful chocolate eyes, he cocked a brow. "No other way to live. And the way you're dressed, meant to catch the eye of every hot-blooded man that passes you by? If you can't take a genuine compliment that isn't along the lines of 'nice tits,' then we're probably not going to get along. Hypocrites disgust me."

Anko loosed a throaty chuckle, a sultry sound that would arouse the interest of nearly any man in the room. "Huhuhuhu... You're lucky I like you, Gaki." She could already tell... This little punk would be a real heartbreaker when he got a little older. He was still a bit too cocky for her tastes, as most genin are, but that would change. She hoped so, if she was going to be stuck with him for the foreseeable future.

The corner of his mouth twitched. "I might take that the wrong way, if you keep staring at me so longingly with those beautiful chocolate eyes."

Her eye twitched as she fought to keep the blush off her face. Anko desperately wanted to smack the shit out of him for teasing her like that, yet not wanting to give him the satisfaction... Mostly because she liked it, that slow drawl he had that so closely mimicked her old on again, off again boyfriend Kakashi.

But he smiled when he saw her ever-so-slight reaction.

This kid would definitely be a headache for her. "Meet me in training field 3 after you finish whatever missions Kakashi has lined up for you. We'll see if you've got what it takes to survive being my apprentice."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Sasuke*

Kakashi had three tasks for us, today. We painted a quarter-mile of picket fence, raked leaves in two public parks, and had to catch that damned menace of a hellcat. Naruto looked like he'd gotten in an argument with Tenten and grabbed her ass, he was cut up all over. I suppose a cat in a shinobi village chased by ninja all the time becomes a ninja feline...

It was late afternoon, around four or five, he guessed, when he made his way to the training field Anko had specified. He wasn't feeling particularly happy nor sad about it, more ambivalent than anything else. This series of events was outside of what he remembered from the series, he supposed he ought to do a better job of acting like Sasuke.

But what fun would that be? For all he knew, this was just a lucid dream; he didn't particularly give a damn one way or another, he just didn't want to be bored.

Yawning languidly, Sasuke arrived at the grassy clearing designated Training Field 3, same place he'd taken the bell test. Sasuke wasn't sure if she chose this place because he was familiar with it, or for some other reason.

Anko casually stepped out from behind one of the three wooden posts, nonchalantly twirling a kunai around her thumb by its pommel. "About time you showed up."

He noted how easily she'd been able to hide from him, as well as the distance from which she detected him, a good thirty or forty feet. By ear, she'd have to have nearly superhuman hearing; by nose would make sense, too, given the wind's direction. Or perhaps she's got some other means of spying on him, maybe shadow clones. "Evening. What's the plan?"

She grinned pleasantly. "Like I told you, we're going to see if you'd even survive my training." Before he could even cock a brow in response, there was a shrill whistling noise-

*THWIP!*

Eyes shooting wide, Sasuke threw himself to the ground on instinct, new blade in hand before even rolling to his feet, noting the kunai buried in the dirt right where he'd been standing. 'Shadow clones? Or is the Anko in front of me an illusion? She trained under Orochimaru, genjutsu and shadow clones are both on the table...'

He kept one eye on the kunoichi in front of him as he quickly began circling her, angling himself to see where that knife had been thrown from.

She didn't bother turning to keep him in her sight as she continued smiling and cheerfully said, "Oooh, you're smarter than I thought. You can't tell if I'm the real Anko, or if the real one threw the kunai."

"Or if both of you are shadow clones and the real one is watching me from the trees, prepping an ambush or waiting for me to step into a trap. Can't swear that this isn't a genjutsu, either, given that you're recognized as being very skilled in the art." Sasuke kept his weapon in both hands, bringing the blade up into his preferred stance; the Ox, a high guard which kept the blade horizontal and parallel with his temples. It was good for offense and defense, striking a very nice balance between them. He had quite a lot of experience with European medieval martial arts, having spent a few years with a renaissance reenactment crew. Of course, he could fight quite well with a knife and his bare hands, even without Sasuke's memories of academy training, but his previous training emphasized using a knife in conjuction with a pistol, utilizing the blade as a standoff or 'get the fuck off me' device for contact shooting. He'd have to un-learn a few things to function in this world.

Anko's happy smile morphed into a savage grin, her teeth glinting in the light, amost looking like fangs for an instant. "Much smarter than I expected. You only bought that sword a few days ago... But you look like you already know how to use it. I've never seen a stance like that before, though."

He answered without hesitation, and in truth, it wasn't exactly a lie. "Something my brother showed me years ago. We going to fight, or just talk about our feelings?"

She didn't answer as he kept circling, but the instant he saw her grin widening, he stopped mid-step. 'Trap!' He thought, and hopped well back from where he stood, changing tactics.

"Hahahahaha! Very good!" Anko finally began to slowly approach him. "But you really need to learn to spot traps without a visual cue from your enemy."

Sasuke stood his ground, breathing slowly and deeply. He had no doubt she could easily outmatch him in terms of strength, speed, and endurance. But he was confident his skill was far beyond that of an amateur, and he had a serious advantage in reach.

"Not going to run? Alright, Gaki, lets see what Itachi taught you."

She vanished into thin air, not even a puff of smoke.

Sasuke instantaneously threw himself into a dive, tucking and rolling back to his feet as he spun about, taking in his surroundings. She had quite literally disappeared. 'Shunshin? Shadow clone? Genjutsu?'

Carefully panning the clearing and the treeline with his eyes, he shifted back into his stance, ears perked for the slightest hint of an incoming attack. And he waited.

Five seconds.

Ten seconds.

Twenty seconds.

Thirty seconds.

A full minute passed, but Sasuke refused to relax. Stalling tactics are a basic part of psychological warfare. 'More kunai? Some long-range jutsu? Or perhaps an earth jutsu, hitting me from below... Hard to guard against. Only tell will be vibration under my feet. What is she testing, here? My ability? Or my resolve?'

*THWIP!*

He spun on instinct, bringing his weapon to bear and deflecting the kunai. 'Shit. That was aimed at my neck... No wonder she has a reputation for being a psycho.'

Seeing nothing moving in the trees, he retook his stance and waited. 'Something isn't right, here... She's testing more than my will and my body. Leaf shinobi are at their strongest among the trees, running through the woods would be suicidal. Guarantee she's got traps and ambushes set up all over the place. Or is that-'

*Thw-thw-THWIP!*

The Uchiha dove to the side in another roll, careful to keep his blade tucked in the safest manner possible. Standing, he found half a dozen kunai buried where he'd been standing. 'Fuck. That's the idea, then, goad me into running to the trees for cover from the kunai, playing right into her hands. Options?'

Sasuke quickly glanced around, seeing the grass and leaves rustling in the wind, the three posts, the creek-

He smirked. "Idea!" And he took off running, carefully sheathing his sword and speeding up into a dead sprint, heading for the treeline directly next to the water's edge. He knew from the series that water was fairly deep, at least ten or twelve feet. It would suffice. He crossed the thirty meters to the trees in record time, just as another handful of kunai whistled through the air, and Sasuke heaved in a deep breath.

*SPLUSH!*

The boy threw himself to the side, appearing to have accidentally thrown himself right into the water in a desperate attempt to dodge her blades. Once submerged, he immediately dove deeper, following the current to pick up speed as he moved unobserved. He had maybe two minutes before needing to re-surface. Perhaps less, with the armor, weapons, and equipment weighing him down. 'Note to self, dry and oil everything tonight, else it'll all be a pile of rust tomorrow.'

He swam a good fifty yards before slowing, carefully pulling himself out of the water and into the treeline, breathing hard. This wouldn't give him much of a headstart, but anything is better than walking straight into her trap. He ducked low, moving quickly as he stalked through the underbrush, ears perked for more signs of attack.

Anko nodded to herself as she watched him from above, quietly impressed. 'Kid knew I was forcing him into a trap, he's earned the title Rookie of the Year. Wonder if he intended to use the water to mask his scent, too? Fifty-fifty.' Unseen, she grins wickedly. 'Dumbass is still walking right into my killzone. Let's see how he likes the Gauntlet.'

Sasuke had moved a good twenty yards, taking cover and looking around every so often to maintain situational awareness of his surroundings. He was surprised he hadn't been attacked, yet. Yet. From the series, he knew Anko was vicious, practically a sadist. And there was no way in hell he'd actually managed to ditch her.

Just as he was about to pass by a rather knobbly-looking oak tree, his instincts screamed at him, and he froze. 'STOP. Danger. Don't rush, look around.' He obeyed that gut feeling, and finally saw what triggered his nebulous sixth sense; a razor-thin tripwire running from that aged tree to another. 'Trip lines. Running to...' He followed it with his eyes, until he was looking straight up, at a rather large log suspended from heavier steel wire.

His eyes widened when he saw that. If that thing hit him, he'd be in the hospital... Or the morgue. He slowly nodded to himself with a slight pout. This wasn't going to be anything like training with Kakashi.

"Hmm..."

Sasuke froze for split-second. Then his gaze snapped onto the chocolate eyes of the woman squatting right in front of him, having silently appeared not even a full foot away from him, right on the other side of that trip wire.

"You're taking too long, Gaki."

And she flicked that tripwire with her thumb.

*Nnngh...*

"You chickenfucker!" Sasuke screamed as he dove right over her head when he heard that log groaning ominously above him, gracelessly rolling and scrambling to his feet, taking off at a dead sprint through the trees.

He got no more than ten yards before he heard that ominous whistling again.

*THWIP!*

Sasuke juked to the side, evading a kunai that would've missed him anyway, hitting a tree some fifteen feet ahead of him. "HAH! Nice aim, viper-girl! Maybe you ought to cover up an eye like Kakashi, I think depth perception is only hindering you!"

As he passed that tree and kunai, just over the din of his footfalls, he heard something else. Something that made his stomach drop into his scrotum.

*Ksss...!*

"HOLY FU-!"

He barely had time to scream as he threw all his weight to his left.

*BA-DOOOMSHKAaaa!*

The kunai exploded, taking a sizable chunk of the tree with it as it threw Sasuke into a painful tumble across the roots of at least half a dozen other trees. "Augh..." Sucking in a painful breath through grit teeth, he shoved himself to his feet and staggered away, clutching his abdomen. 'Bruised... Nope, cracked ribs. Definitely cracked one or two. Gah, fuck this hurts... That woman is insane.'

He moved as quickly as he could while he caught his breath, the best he could maintain was a brisk jog.

*Thw-thw-THWIP!*

Once more, the Uchiha juked to one side, painfully doubling over to dodge the blades that passed by him. He thought that was it...

*Kssss...!*

Until he heard that terrifying hissing agaim.

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" He forced himself forward, throwing everything he had into a frenzied sprint, tear-assing through the trees, now, as-

*BA-DOOOOOMSHKAaaa...!*

As the entire forest blew up around him, his ears ringing terribly. Now he would struggle to hear the kunai being thrown at him, a very problematic disadvantage until it wore off. If he lived that long.

Sasuke continued running, making it another forty yards before he skidded to a halt, spinning and drawing his blade. 'Can't keep running,' He thought, panting raggedly. 'New plan, engage as best as I am able. '

With his back to a massive oak, he retook his stance and tried to catch his breath, warily eyeing the spaces between the trees around him. The sun was beginning to set, now... If they continued this training in the dark, he may as well stab himself and save her the trouble. He waited like this for at least three minutes until the ringing in his ears dropped to a volume he could tolerate, hopefully enough to hear any kunai or shuriken coming his way.

Glancing around, he saw no movement, no beige, no purple. Where was she?

"Yo."

In the next instant, those chocolate eyes were less than an inch from his own, her nose practically touching his hitai-ate. Sasuke froze. Anko had been hiding in the tree behind him, and simply dropped down, hanging upside-down from a branch above. Somehow, he hadn't seen her when he looked up... Which shouldn't be possible.

"This isn't any fun if you're not going to run away."

He steeled himelf, growling, "Can't outrun you in the forest. Even chased by someone you can't beat, knowingly running dick-first into an ambush is retarded. So shut up and fight." He expected her to shout, hit him, berate him, or something.

Instead, she grinned that too-wide, too-sincere smile that forced her beautiful eyes shut. "You sure about that, Gaki?" That sickly-sweet tone of voice was dripping with poisoned honey, even if her head was maybe six inches from the edge of his sword.

'Strike with crossguard, pirouette, and parry her attack. Or improvise.'

Sasuke decided to improvise. In the blink of an eye, he grabbed her ponytail in a deathgrip, rearing back as he watched her eyes snap wide open, her arms a blur of motion

But it was far too late, and she was focused on the wrong threat, grabbing the blade of his sword in her bare hands, heedless of its keen edge. The last Uchiha slammed his hitai-ate into her nose with a desperate headbutt, relishing the sickening crunch as scalding-hot blood spattered across his face and into his bandana.

"RRRAGH!"

And the next thing he knew, his back slammed into the ground, sword flying through the air, and the kunoichi was sitting on his chest with a kunai pressed against his throat. He could barely breathe, her weight against his injured ribs was agonizing.

*Plp...Plp...*

She was breathing hard, a fearsome look on her bloodied but beautiful face, baring her teeth as blood dripped down onto him. After several seconds of glaring at him with that terrifying look, she breathed deep and sheathed her weapon, growling, "I'd be damned proud of that, if I wasn't ready to skin you alive, Sasuke."

He forced a cock-eyed grin, gritting out, "After blowing me up? I'd call it even for my ribs. You mind?"

Anko stood, pulling the genin up by the bauldric carrying his sheath, tugging his shirt up to look at his abdomen. After maybe three seconds of studying him, she grunted, "Just bruised, nothing broken. You'll live." She looked him in the eye again, heedless of her bloodied nose. "That was a good hit, lucky, but good. Don't forget that a headbutt is a last-resort trick that most shinobi will expect."

Sasuke chuckled mirthlessly, glancing around for wherever she'd thrown his weapon. "I'd have kicked you in the junk if that was an option, easier to do without telegraphing your intent."

"Ahh, the old cunt-punt. And here I thought you were a gentlemen," She snarked, arching a brow.

Rolling his dark eyes, he muttered, "All the shinobi gentlemen in the world can be found in one graveyard or another."

She smiled brightly. "Fair enough. Just remember, you kick me in the twat, and I'm going to give you a very sloppy circumcision with a pair of garden shears. Probably after two or three bottles of sake, depends on my mood."

The Uchiha blinked owlishly. For some reason, he had an inkling that she meant every last word of that threat in a very literal manner. "If two shinobi agree not to hit each other in the groin, is that what they call mutual respect?"

Anko snorted in amusement. "Probably the closest thing to it, besides two cannibals giving each other a blowjob." Sasuke couldn't help but chuckle at that.

"But, to get back on topic. You're smarter than I first gave you credit for, they were right to award you the title Rookie of the Year. But you damn sure hesitated far too long to react after getting kunai chucked at you, good chance a real attack would have injured or killed you. Not all blades whistle when thrown, Gaki. Jumping in the water was a smart move, but without clones to act as decoys, it was pointless. You spotted a few of the traps, but missed others. If I had snakes out here, you'd have gotten bit more than once, and that would have been the end of you. Any time an enemy misses you, assume it was done intentionally, you'll live longer. The explosive tags I used were one-quarter yield, you would've been dead while you ran your fuckin' mouth if it was real."

The corner of her mouth twitched up with mirth. "That was a good line, though, I'll give you that. Got a few friends that'll get a kick out of it, heheheh. Onto the good news, congratulations, you little shit, I'll be training you regularly from now on."

Sasuke suppressed the urge to roll his eyes and snark something that would get his ass kicked again. "A'ight, I could use the extra exercise, I get the feeling Kakashi's too lazy to really spend as much time training us as he should. What else for today?"

She shook her head. "Nothing else, you did pretty good considering it's your first time running the gauntlet. You're dismissed, we'll meet here again tomorrow after you complete your assignments."

He nodded, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. "Gotcha. Well, I'm going to get cleaned up and hit Ichiraku's for dinner, then. Feel free to join me if you like, Sensei."

With that, he tracked down his discarded sword, drawing it out of the tree it was embedded in while he glanced over its edge. "Agh, really going to regret diving with all this..." He sheathed the weapon while he started to make his way out, making a mental note of the way Anko had been watching him.

'Huh... Forget running the gauntlet and challenging ME to a head-on fight, he just broke my nose, and then asked me out to dinner. That kid really is fearless.'

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Sasuke*

Feeling refreshed after that shower, and immensely calm after carefully drying, cleaning, and oiling his equipment, the Uchiha made his way through the streets towards the family-owned ramen stand, quite pleased with himself.

For you see, he had discovered a new trick; when he began practicing his chakra cycling exercise on his way home, he found that the ache in his ribs nearly vanished the instant his power flowed through his abdomen. He would have to experiment with this even more, because the implications are quite interesting.

"Hm?" Sasuke blinked owlishly as he came into sight of Ichiraku's, seeing two familiar faces; Naruto was sitting down eating, as expected, but he caught sight of Anko approaching, as well. "Didn't think she'd take me up on my offer."

He got there just as she did, casually greeting both her, and his orange-clad teammate. "Oy, good to see you, Naruto, Sensei."

Anko was looking exactly as she did this morning, nose completely healed. No bandage nor blood, little button nose wasn't even crooked. He wagered she saw a med-nin, or has a healing factor like Naruto.

"Eh?" The blonde glanced over his shoulder, seeing Sasuke, but then looking around the other way. "Kakashi-sensei's here, too? Where's he hiding?"

"He meant me, blondie." Anko was smiling that overly cheerful smile again.

Naruto looked her up and down, cocking a brow. "Uhh... Why are you wearing a henge to look like you're working the red light district, Kakashi-sensei?"

Uh-oh.

The only reaction Sasuke saw was one of her chocolate eyes twitch.

"Whoa, whoa!" The Uchiha was immediately panicking, rushing forward as he tried to placate his new teacher. "Don't hurt him!"

"Gak-!"

Naruto found himself pulled back in his stool by his hair, a blade tapping his hitai-ate while Anko grinned menacingly at him. "Would you care to repeat that, Na-Ru-To?"

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean it! I thought you were my pervy sensei!"

"That's what I thought." Sasuke thought she'd drop him to the ground, but she tugged him back up into a sitting position, casually sitting down next to him as if she hadn't just threatened him.

Sasuke heaved a sigh of relief, taking a seat on her other side and introducing her. "Yeesh... Naruto, this is Anko Mitarashi, the Hokage assigned her to train me in my spare time."

For his part, the blonde looked like he desperately wanted to shift into another chair, further away from the kunoichi. "Eh? How come you get two senseis to teach you?!"

Anko immediately filled in that little plothole, grinning from ear to ear. "I'd be happy to teach you, too, Na-Ru-To." The way she emphasized every syllable of his name made the jinchuuriki shiver.

"I'm, uh, I'm good! No offense!"

The Uchiha couldn't help but chuckle as he ordered his food. "Compared to Kakashi, she's got a very different idea of training. Oy, Ayame! I'll have the Naruto Special, pass me the bill for whatever these two are having."

"Of course, Sasuke. And what would you like, miss?" The young girl poked her head out from the kitchen, coming up to the counter with a kind smile and another bowl she placed in front of Naruto.

Anko took another two or three seconds to study the menu before she asked, "What's the Naruto Special?" She was somewhat surprised the boy was going to pay for her outright, as well as his teammate, but then again... He's the sole remaining Uchiha in the village. He surely had a lot of money laying around.

"Three bowls of miso pork, and two bowls of our house special."

The Jounin's nose twitched as she noted how the blonde boy next to her was eagerly wolfing down his sixth bowl of ramen, obviously more on the way. For his size, his appetite matched her own, ravenous as she could be at times. "Sure, I'll try it."

The brunette nodded and smoothly turned, scurrying back into the kitchen with her father, Teuchi.

"Careful, Anko. The food here is addictive," Sasuke quipped brightly.

"The best things in life usually are." If it's that good, she'd eat her fishnet. Ramen wasn't exactly a favorite of hers.

The dark-eyed boy wagged his eyebrows at her. "The withdrawal's no joke, either. Naruto grows fangs and claws if he goes too long without, starts howling at the moon and hunting virgins."

"Awoooo!" Naruto howled in response, snickering to himself immediately after.

Anko rolled her eyes, biting her tongue. "You two should've become comedians, not shinobi."

Sasuke shrugged and smirked. "Figure I'd warn you, the blonde dork's more cunning than he looks."

She shook her head. "Spent almost ten years dating Cyclops off and on. I'm not worried."

"That's exactly why I'm worried." The exaggerated concern in the Uchiha's voice was palpable.

Her expression was unreadable. "...We're talking about Kakashi, here."

"Exactly!" Naruto joined in, already sensing where his teammate was going with his joke. "He's always walking around reading porn in broad daylight. Sometimes he starts reading out loud without even realizing it."

Sasuke coughed suspiciously before continuing. "Mmhm. Like I said, I worry for you, Sensei. Kakashi wouldn't even know which hole to stick it in."

As Naruto snorted and put his head down, trying, and failing, to suppress the cackle that escaped his throat, Anko blanched, stiffened, and turned bright red, before suddenly grabbing a fistful of Sasuke's shirt, getting in his face. "WHAT DID HE TELL YOU?"

'Uh-oh. Think I touched a nerve.' The Uchiha splayed his hands, eyes wide as he backed off on the crude humor. "Whoa, easy! You lost me, I was just joking at our perverted Sensei's expense." Anko's chocolate eyes narrowed as she stared hard into Sasuke's, paying no mind to the way the boy cocked a brow at her response. "Something tells me I struck a nerve by accident."

"Forget it, Gaki." She released him and faced forward, her mood souring immensely.

"...If it makes you feel better, Naruto and I both clocked him in the sack during the bell test. Still think he ought to be demoted for letting new genin hit him like that, it's disgraceful."

Anko snorted in amusement, shaking her head. "A small but satisfying consolation prize, Gaki. Remember, though, the greatest warrior does not fear the second-greatest; he fears the worst, because you cannot predict what he will do."

Just as she finished speaking, Ayame came out bearing the first four bowls for us, setting them down and disappearing again. "Here you go! Hope you enjoy, Miss."

"'Preciate it." Sasuke watched her carefully as she took that first bite, her eyes widenening as she slurped down the long, delicious noodles. "It's- It's the best ramen I've ever had..."

"Told you!" Naruto quipped, starting on bowl number seven.

Anko cast a wary eye toward Sasuke. "So, what'd you do to it, anyway?"

He blinked owlishly, parroting, "Umm... Do to it?"

"You were watching me so carefully for a reaction. I figured you'd paid the girl to slip me something nasty to get back at me for the Gauntlet." Regardless of her blunt words, the Jounin was still eating.

The Uchiha's face scrunched up in confusion at the contradiction of words and actions, muttering, "Do I really come across as being that vindictive...? Wait, forget that, you're asking me if I slipped you a mickey, but you're still eating?!"

She shrugged nonchalantly. "First genin to continue speaking to me after the first session, let alone manage to actually draw blood. I wanted to know what sort of petty vengeance you came up with for the exploing tags; if you got creative, or if you went with something classic, like a laxative. Besides, this shit's fuckin' delicious."

Sasuke just gave her that blank, disbelieving stare. "A'ight, couple things. Training is training, so long as it's objective, I don't intend to whine or pitch a tantrum just because it's hard. That's kinda the point. Second, you're a Jounin interrogator and assassination specialist, last I checked. I'm about ninety percent certain you'd be able to detect any medication or weirdness in your food, I'm smart enough to come up with something funny that won't end with my ass naked and suspended from the Hokage monument. And, seriously... Say I had spiked your ramen with a potent laxative covered by the strong spices. You're still eating like you don't give a damn."

Anko finished off that first bowl in record time and flashed him a cheery grin. "I'm quite well known for having a very strong resillience to most toxins and medications, everything from liquor to laxatives. You'd need enough to give a horse dysentery for me to notice the effects."

"...You probably shoudn't have said that in front of Naruto."

The Jounin blinked owlishly, turning to glance at the menacing grin on the blonde's face, before looking back at Sasuke, arching one delicate brow.

"I'm the dashing leader, Naruto's the goofy prankster, and Pinky's the brains. Don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to mischief, but the orange jackass over there is the one to watch out for. I spent two years in the Academy trying to get him back for including me in one of his stunts, and I never managed it. You think he wore orange while defacing the Hokage monument at dawn for shits and giggles?"

She slowly turned to look at Naruto again, eyes narrowing slightly. 'The Gaki makes a fair point. I wonder if Kakashi is aware that the blockhead's not as dim-witted as he seems...'

"Uhh... Why are looking at me like you're trying to decide whether or not to stab me, Nee-chan?"

Anko's lips twitched. "Nee-chan?"

Sasuke chuckled. "Sounds like a fitting nickname to me."

"EEYAGH!" The jinchuuriki yelped as a brightly-colored snake suddenly appeared out of Anko's sleeve, wrapping around his shoulders.

She had on that too-wide, overly-sincere smile. "Aww, looks like Kurochi likes you." Naruto was practically trembling as the snake licked his cheek before retreating back up Anko's sleeves.

Naruto's pleading eyes were suddenly on Sasuke.

"I think he got your point, Anko. You can drop the 'crazy snake lady' act."

The Jounin actually pouted a bit. "You're no fun."

"And terrifying Naruto is a bad fuckin' idea. You haven't heard about some of the less amusing pranks he's pulled... Plenty of academy instructors that found their coffee swapped with crude oil, their birth control replaced with aspirin, clothing and sandals modified without their knowledge, their shampoo replaced with hair dye, their chairs and desks sabotaged, I could go on for an hour or two. And that's the stuff I'm aware of, there's plenty the teachers would never admit to suffering... Like someone's personal lubricant being swapped out with heat-activated glue, or a thin coating of jalapeno juice in the worst possible places you can think of. Hey Dobe, how many of those did you actually confess to?"

He had that sadistic grin once more. "Ehh... About a third of 'em. Had to get Iruka, too, or else I would've been the prime suspect for everything from the beginning."

Sasuke chuckled. "So that's why you glued his pants to his chair."

"Iruka-sensei hated that chair, anyway. It always squeaked, even after oiling it." The blonde suddenly laughed aloud, unable to contain his mirth, the fear forgotten. "Never admitted to this, but one time I got him with one of those constipation drugs, the kind that keep you from crapping for a few days. Did that so I could hit the teachers' lounge and spike their coffee machine with laxatives after spreading a dusting of powdered ghost peppers on all the toilet paper in the Academy."

Anko's jaw dropped as she mouthed, "That's- That's pure evil..." She suddenly wrapped an arm around the Jinchuuriki, grinning from ear-to-ear. "Y'know what, you're alright, Naru-kun. Just promise to tell Nee-chan when you're free to assist with some good-natured pranks."

The last Uchiha was suddenly overcome by a feeling of utter dread, as though he'd just unleashed a great evil upon this world... He made a mental note to never piss off either of them if he could avoid it.

More than half an hour passed as Naruto engrossed the kunoichi in his stories while the three ate, before the sky seemed to open up on them, the pitter-patter of heavy rain drawing their attention.

For some reason, Sasuke's entire attention was taken up when Anko stared out into the deluge with a faraway look in those chocolate eyes, mumbling to herself.

"Anything but the rain..."

~~Badadumdunbum~~

*Sasuke*

Well, we went through another two weeks of D-rank crap, my poor dumb ass getting tortured- I mean, trained by Anko in what little spare time I had, before Naruto bugged out just before we recieved another mission. Not that I blame him; he was the one who got clawed the most by Tora.

Fucking demon cat.

After he freaked and shouted, the Hokage relented and gave us our first C-rank.

Que the drunk old man walking in, and Naruto's subsequent rage at Tazuna's comment, to which I then remarked,

"The short stupid-looking one, huh? Well, Naruto, that fits you to a T. Least he didn't hit on Sakura like the last one."

All three of us shuddered, thinking of the perverted, half-blind old man who ogled Sakura like a piece of meat. Until she got closer, and he saw she had no tits. Oh, the A-cup-angst-filled rage that followed.

...And ninety-seven pieces of the man were all they found.

~~Badadumdunbum~~

Ahahahahahahaaa! The first person who tells me which song that last line is from will get a bonus prize. I may very well do a bit/skit based on material you provide/want, or run a scenario that you ask for. IF you get it right!

Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa! Good luck, and may the literature be with you, my faithful toadies! (Number of times George Lucas has flipped me off; 37)