A Song for Them @nihilistic_bunny
Montage Arc, Fritillaria Meleagris

Naruto Fan Fiction!

Adventure! SI-OC!

(Title)

"A Song for Them"

A/N: So, celebrate the one-year anniversary and then doesn't post for the longest space of time yet. That's me alright. Sorry guys, my Internet was finally taken away from me and I had to work that off, and that is the sad reason why I've been absent for so long and why I haven't been responding to reviews or PM's. Sorry. It was a terrifying experience, too. I'd been going into withdrawal without you guys to give me my fix! In other news... FANART! THERE'S NEW FANART AND I AM EXCITED! …ahem. Now that's out of my system. There is a beautiful new conception of Sora that was created by the wonderful loveangel15 and it's on their Deviantart page! It's of Sora and Hinata out shopping together! It's so cute!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of the cannon characters! I don't know what they get up to when I'm not around.

WARNING! RATED M! For not too much actually. Another reminder that Sora is not all there in the head?

Exam Deux Arc,

Chapter Forty-One: "Fritillaria Meleagris"

"The most dangerous animal in the world is a silent, smiling woman." -Yuno Hoo

I desperately tried to catch my breath, pressing my back against a tree, keeping my balance on the branch and suppressing my chakra like my life depended on it. Which, it kinda did at this point. I heard the sounds of an unstoppable force of nature tearing through the forest behind me.

I couldn't stop. If I got caught here and now, I was as good as dead.

I leapt through the trees, palms scraping against the bark as I used them to help propel myself across the gaps. Getting a good distance away I decided to glance over at my shoulder and was reminded to run much faster than I already was. Intent spiked behind me, I lurched to the side and felt a displacement of air behind me, a whipping and sudden wind assaulted my back. The creature's head crashed into the tree, the force of which splintered the tree into too many pieces for me to dodge them all. I rolled, barely managing to grab another branch with my chakra before I fell off and to the ground twenty feet below and wound up dead.

Positive thoughts, Sora. Think positive thoughts.

Panting, I slowly pushed myself back up on tired limbs, muscles burning from effort, and my eyes met with slit, reptilian blue eyes. I swallowed thickly, sweat dripping from my face. The person-sized snake reared back, it's tail rat-rat-rattling as it coiled up. I saw fangs as it opened it's maw wide, large enough to show me that it was fully capable of swallowing me whole with ease.

Fudge. Terra summarized aptly. Fudge, indeed. I cycled chakra through the muscles in my legs and kept leaping through the trees, not daring to turn around again as I heard it pursue.

Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?!

Sora, June 3rd: Bathroom (7:21 AM, 10 ½ Hours Earlier)

So help me, Sky-girl- Terra began gravely, a tinge of panic in her tone as she made empty threats. I turned -Are you even listening to me!? I said; DON'T FUDGING FIDDLE WITH IT! my one-third shouted in panic. I rolled my eyes at the melodramatics, turning slightly to the right so I could get a better look at it in the mirror. I don't know why she was acting like this. She knew this was coming. it's the MacGuffin that sets up Sasuke's defection and lot of the crap that follows that.. Besides, it was a strange and possibly -most probably- life-threatening Fuinjustu that was burned into my chakra network in the most invasive fashion in all the known world. Of course I was going to look at it closer at some point. Fuinjutsu was my thing. Not doing so would've been lazy and cowardly and-I just realized that I am rationalizing this to myself. Great, just great.

I let out a breath that came out as more of a sigh, closing my eyes briefly. When I opened them again, I was looking at the Brand on my arm.

The Curse Mark.

'I'm not fiddling with it. I'm just... looking at it.' I insisted, a weak defense was better than none. Thankfully, Terra's complaints slowly dissolved into muttered grumbling but her presence never strayed too far from the front of my consciousness. I felt the weight on my brain, a mounting headache, as I looked at it through two widely different perspectives. A buzzing grew in the back of my skull and I shook my head clear, focusing on the design in front of me. A third perspective was not needed.

The Seal was... intricate. At first glance it looked to be a mitsudomoe design but on closer inspection with a hand mirror I was alarmed to see -and feel- what looked to be layers of characters piled onto each other, all compacted into a symmetrical shape instead of a traditional housing design. If you didn't know what you were doing then you would've never even guessed at how advanced this kind of Fuinjutsu was. And I haven't even begun to crack the formula so that I could fully understand how this works beyond; 'Because that's how it worked in the story'. That would be lazy and lazy will get me killed. It'll get me killed or worse-it'll get others killed.

Shit.

My hand wound around the edge of the sink, gripping it tightly as I felt the beginning signs of anxiety attack. A heavy weight pressed down on my chest and I couldn't breathe anymore! My chest began to heave and I focused solely on my breathing exercises, counting the seconds between breaths and staring at the drain, twisting the faucet with my other hand and watching the water swirl down and disappear.

In... and Out. Terra soothed. She continued to speak, repeating our mantra and reassuring me.

Breathe.

There is only myself and my burning core.

Breathe...

The weight lifted and my body sagged. I leaned forward and pressed my forehead against the mirror, enjoying the coolness of the surface on my skin. I bit the inside of my cheek as I berated myself inwardly. I couldn't believe myself, getting so worked up about that. I didn't understand why that realization keeps hitting me, surprising me with it's force each time. Things have changed, I changed them, and I can't control that now. All I can so is everything in my ability to make sure that things-I breathed deeply-that the people I love are happy and alive and that they stay that way.

Setting high goals. That's what I do.

I shook my head, smiling ironically. My life would probably be easier if I didn't mock myself. I turned to leave the bathroom but out of the corner of my eyes I caught a glimpse of a purple-eyed fourteen-year-old girl in the mirror. I stopped in my tracks, feeling a wave of... of... hollowness, was the most apt word. I turned back to the mirror and lifted a hand, running it through her bangs, most of the orange-pink hair falling naturally to the left side in an uneven part. It rolled down in waves just over her shoulders, barely brushing the tops. I had left it down today. My usual Red Ribbon on the dresser in my room. She usually wore a simple mesh-shirt with a cloth lining under a blue, long-sleeved tunic I had made years ago with materials given to me by a shy, beautiful little girl who hadn't existed Before. Her eyes fell to the scar adorning her neck. The ugly, red, tear across it that had never healed like a scar should.

Her eyes though, there was something different about them than every other time I've looked into them. I saw-RedEyesRe-Purple, Violet... Periwinkle irises. I leaned forward again, inspecting them closer.

She never looked how I felt.

Old.

Tired.

The girl in the mirror didn't look like she'd killed three people.

'CRASH!' I startled. There was a sound of something breaking that snapped me from my drifting thoughts. I stepped away from the counter and slipped back on my blue long-sleeve, covering the Mark and reaching out my senses as I tied my hitai-ate around my neck, feeling the kitchen area more specifically. Bright and Breezy began to clash against Thunderous and Hot. What the heck could they have gotten up to in the last ten minutes? I opened the door and stepped out of the bathroom to see a plate, or what remained of it as it was very much broken now, scattered across the kitchen floor.

"Be more careful, loser!"

"Me!? You're the one who dropped it 'ya bastard!"

I lifted a hand to rub my temple. This was already turning out to be the start of a good day. As the two boys began to bicker for the first time of the day I grabbed the broom and dustpan from beside the fridge and lamented the lost peace. They had been doing so well, too. I had woken up around dawn and had begun my routine, morning stretches, a quick shower and as I opened up the cupboard that held our bento boxes and stopped. Remembering who was sleeping not five feet away. I had then decided to just make omelets. The boys had woken from their make-shift beds on the floor to the smell of fresh eggs, not a word had been exchanged as they were still half-asleep and probably hadn't yet registered the other's presence. Sasuke had been a bit alarmed when he woke up but that had quickly morphed into annoyance when he saw me cheerfully waving at him in an apron. After breakfast was consumed with only the sounds of utensils scraping plates and the morning birdsong outside the window, Naruto had offered to wash the dishes -because I had cooked by myself. We usually share the tasks- and then I guess Sasuke felt some kind of obligation to help? He ended up washing while Naruto dried and put away and we all know where that lead to.

Dumping the shards of clay in the trash I put away the broom and turned to the boys, placing my hands on my hips. Sasuke was glaring and the Hero was glaring right back, I don't think that I had imagined the sparks that flew between their gazes. I whistled shortly, gaining their attentions again, Duckie's chakra flickered with indignation and the Hero's chakra swirled with annoyance with an underlining of guilt.

I walked up and flicked the nose on his whiskered face.

"Sora-chaaaan!" he whined, rubbing the tip of his abused nose. I gave him a droll look and he finally had the decency to look sheepish, he looked away and muttered. "...I'll replace it..."

I pat his fluffy head, content with that answer. The boys went back to cleaning up and I took a seat at the table with my writing materials. I had to write up a brief written plan of what Sakura should be focusing on when I'm not present; the basic concepts revolving around Seal housing, it's structure, it's varied purposes, ect.. Just after one afternoon I could tell that Sakura wasn't messing around, at least at the start. How she feels after she gets to stringing together drafts in an attempt to create a working formula. I could only do what little I can to help, it was my responsibility now that I was a Senpai. Because I have a kōhai.

Haah.

That's not gonna get old anytime soon.

As I wrote, Naruto began talking to me as he dried and placed the remainder of the dishes safely into the cupboard, I listened idly. "-thanks for making breakfast by the way, Sora-chan! It was great!" I flashed him a smile. Hm. Her thought process is fairly straightforward so I should probably lean her more towards the Elemental and Physical Manipulations. "-I'm gonna need ALL the energy I can get if I'm gonna be training all day, I'll-" I nodded to myself. Also fits in with what Sakura theoretically wants to achieve. Other than that I think that she might be suited for one of the big schools but it would really depend on how she approaches a problem with her logic. "So, I had a really weird dream last night 'ttebayo. And I mean it was really weird, Sora-chan! Weirder than that one you had about the giant pandas!" I'll have to give her some kind of test so that I could-"I dreamed that when I got up get some water and I looked out the window, I saw Kakashi-sensei out on the roof talkin' to the Pervy Sage!"-Wait, what now? My eyes snapped up to him. "And there were some other guys there, too! All on our roof! A masked guy with a cape and a guy with glasses and I think that the Closet Perv was there! They were all on the roof talkin' and then a giant frog came outta nowhere and ate one of the other guys!"

I stared at the blonde as he was completely oblivious to my slowly rising alarm. There were only two explanations here. Either something really important happened last night after I fell asleep or Naruto snuck into the junk food again. I... really didn't know. A masked guy? He would've recognized if it was Neko wouldn't he? And Neko would've let me know if stopped by last night by knocking or something, right? Right. And why the hell would Jiraiya be on our roof in the middle of the night? I didn't get to ask any kind of further questions and find out the truth as Naruto finished and headed towards the front door.

"Alright, I gotta go meet the Pervy Sage! He's gonna teach me a super-powerful new jutsu 'ttebayo!" he gifted Duckie with a fairly smug look. Causing said Duckie to scowl in return. Then the sunshine turned a thousand-watt smile back to me. "I'll see you later, Sora-chan!" he shouted half-way out the door before pausing, hand on the doorknob. Then almost as an afterthought he added, significantly less cheerfully, "Later, Bastard."

Sasuke blinked. I puzzled over the meaning of Naruto's dream and there was a semi-awkward silence that fell over the room following the Hero's exit. It was just Sasuke and I now. He dried off his hands, looking around the kitchen uncertainly, onyx eyes eventually landing on me. "You said Kakashi was coming?"

I nodded, he glanced around once and he made a move towards the couch I caught his eye and offered my library up to him to entertain himself while we wait on our eternally tardy sensei. He 'Hn'd' and disappeared into my room, presumably to get a book to read. He walked back out with a red-cover book that I recognized as-Oh, wow. He was reading The Count of Monte Cristo. How... suiting, and he even picked it out on his own! We did our own things and Sasuke read the book for about a half-an-hour before shutting it none too gently and standing to put it back on the shelf. Well. I guess he didn't like it. Pushing aside my stuff for a moment I wrote and held up a paper for him to look at, whistling shortly to catch his attention.

"If you liked Dracula then you should try Frankenstein." I suggested, remembering how many times he'd read it while we were in wave. He glanced over his shoulder at me before turning his attention back to the bookrack, scanning for something to interest him.

I shrugged to myself and went back to what I was doing. I finished up a very rough draft of Sakura's study plan and made a note to drop by the hospital to give it to her. I folded it away and lifted a hand to scratch at my arm, feeling an uncomfortable warmth from it. That Brand was very annoying. An amazing and evil piece of work, but also annoying. I sighed, resting my chin in my hand as I mentally reviewed what I knew about the design on my arm. Honestly? It made me feel a bit self-conscious about my work. Granted, he's probably spent a solid decade on this and has had access to any kind of research that sick little mind of his could dream up. Even preforming his own research on human subjects as well. My mind continued to dish out my contempt for That Man as I ran my finger over the much more welcomed imprint of Scarecrow's chakra over the Brand. His duct tape over the Devil's sippy cup comforted me immensely. Hm. I think that analogy went out the window.

It was disturbing and brilliant on many, twisted levels was my point. Disturbing in that it's use is to basically serve as a conduit for Orochimaru's soul to house in the subjects body without risk to the Original, making it nice and habitable. And brilliant in he way that I never could've imagined creating a seal without a housing design! I mean, the possibilities that having a Seal without a housing design would be simply incredible. Someone wouldn't even have to follow the rules surrounding the use of a traditional housing Base, they could set the formula in any-Holy Shit! I jumped up from the table, barreling into my room and past a startled Sasuke to grab my storage book, unsealing all my drafts and notes on my Scrambler seal. I spread them across the floor of my bedroom and pulled down all my research material pinned on the wall by my bed, anything that had to do with the Scrambler seal and my deductions on the Tablet. Oh! And the notebook with my test-story too! How else was I going to see if it worked?

"What are you so worked up about?" I blinked at the question. Looking up I notice that Sasuke was still here, standing nearby with a book in his hand as he peered down at what I was doing. He'd picked Frankenstein after all. Is it a bad thing that I've already forgotten he was here? His eyes scrutinized the papers under my hands, he looked like he usually did when faced with my short-hand notes. Clueless. His eyes did light up with recognition when he saw the test storybook I've had him read over and over. "You're still working on that? What's so important about scrambling up a children's story anyway?"

'It's a gift.' I answered absently, hurriedly too, mind wholly focused on my eureka moment. Where the hell did I put Neko's gift? About now would be a really good time to try it out. The Medium-sized brush would be perfect for this! 'The Fuinjutsu is just my thing. Extra. Not really the point.'

My eyes landed on the smooth white case. A thrill shot up my spine as I launched myself towards my new pens and opened them up, briskly filling the ink chamber in the case and I sketched down the roughest draft of a Seal formula ever. Following the untested, unresearched, possibly very dangerous and stupid design idea I've ever had in this second life. It just makes so much sense now! No wonder I've never been able to pin down the exact housing Base for the Tablet's Fuinjutsu-It's because there wasn't one! I overlaid the characters for the Physical Manipulation with the Kanji belonging to the Space/Time School -relying more on the Space aspect of the School- over the Raiton characters -Raiton for their ability to affect the fields of light- borrowing it's flexibility and versatility. I couldn't just lay them down on the paper willy-nilly, no. There was a specific sequence of characters that had to go in an order that I could never get to work with a traditional Seal housing. Ohhhh… the Seal was so close... I could taste it!

Ink dripped off my brush and splattered along the edges of the paper as I drew my wonderful new brush in long strokes, turning it into a messy abomination of a very rough draft that will never be shown in a professional standing. I sat back on my haunches when I figured I was just about finished, looking at my work with wide eyes. I tilted my head at the design, realizing that it actually ended up looking like something. It... kinda looked like a flower. An inky lotus, of sorts. I smiled as my eyes traced the ends of the structure Kanji one the edges, each of their end strokes branching out and curling in, making the 'leaves' of the flower turn into an uneven heart with one side being larger than the other. It was obscenely pretty and I was going to keep it even if this didn't work.

In my mind I ran the logic of the design through all that I knew. This compacted and unrestricted design allows me to string together the characters that make up the formula of the Seal in a way that the Trigram-style housing that I had been using wasn't letting me do. It gave me the freedom I needed to get over the last hurdle. I hadn't even thought it was possible until I saw it on my arm. But now... I was sure this was going to work. I ran the logic and the formula had always been correct, just never in the correct order. I gently blew on the ink to dry it, once done, I placed my hand on the ink and I could feel electricity running through my veins. I was just that excited. I held my breath as my heart raced. There really was no rush quite like creating a Seal. Glancing up at the bored and completely unexpectant expression of the Uchiha beside me once more I became eager to wipe that look off his face. I pulsed my chakra through my palm, activating the ink beneath my fingertips, the words and lotus lit up a pale blue color.

I watched as the writing changed. My hearted soared in my chest. The strokes of the characters rearranged themselves, creating a new and unrecognizable symbols.

Frankenstein dropped to the floor.

"...the hell?" I heard mumbled behind me. I didn't turn to see the look on his face as I carefully lifted the paper to inspect it closer, a small pain forming in between my eyes as I did. A headache from the illusion in my vision.

The paper disappeared from my grasp and I didn't even mind as Sasuke scrutinized the paper closer, squinting his eyes at it. His chakra pulsed and his eyes spun Sharingan red and a look a frustration washed over him. I grinned wider. The writing was still there and exactly how I wrote it, it was just the Fuinjutsu refracting the ambient light on the page off of itself and tricking our normal eyes into thinking it was something else. That's why the Sharingan can see through this Fuinjutsu, because the Sharingan really can see different spectrums of light like I had guessed! It was the light I was using to actually try and read that was making it impossible to! If it was completely dark then one would be able to see the actual writing but then it would be completely dark! It was a paradox. My cheeks were starting to hurt from how wide I was smiling.

Fuinjutu is incredible.

I left Sasuke staring at the page with incredulity and I went to my bookrack to pull down a brown, leather-bound book. A special one that I'd been saving for years now. I went back to the kitchen table and opened it to the first page to finish writing down the story from the drafts ow that I new how to create the Seal. I would apply the Heart-Lotus design on the cover of the book later. But for now... I carefully brought the pen down, writing the name of the book in my cleanest, nicest hand; 'The Tale of the Unfortunate Ferret, Sensu Sable'.

This was gonna be good.

Duckie was still staring at the old draft, blinking on and off his Sharingan and I didn't bother with rubbing my success in his doubting face as I was still pretty surprised that I'd gotten it myself. I mean, I was sure something like this was going to happen-the logic followed though, but it still isn't quite what the Fuinjutsu on the Tablet does. Whatever that is tricked not only my eyes but also the sketching's off of the carved surface. That isn't a trick of the light, that's for sure. So, what the hell was causing the change of the words carved into the stone tablet? I closed my eyes with a sigh, excitement burbling in my chest again. My side-project was not quite finished it seems.

Oh, so you're NOT on the same level as the Sage of Six Paths? I'm SO surprised, Sky-girl. Terra drawled, voice as dry as Suna's deserts.

'Yet, Terra. Not yet.' I corrected myself. I seriously had to stamp down the urge to mime an evil cackle. My snarky one-third groaned in exasperation at my sudden ambition. I was well into the first chapter of the fable when Sasuke walked back into the Main room, carefully setting down my draft on the table next to me and rolling his eyes at my overt display of excitement. It's not like I could really help it at this point. Some higher goals have been set! Daily task achieved!

'So where exactly is the Other One?' I asked, changing the subject as I wrote down the story I've recited in my head a thousand times. I noticed Sasuke take a seat on the couch with his monster classic. 'I would've figured that she had a couple choice words of her own to share. Probably chock-filled with profanity if our other conversations have been anything to go by.'

'Bout that... Terra chuckled nervously, alarming me somewhat. That wasn't the usual reaction. It's-Well, it's kinda complicated to explain. Let's just say that the next time we meditate you might find that there've been a couple more changes to the scenery.

What the hell was that supposed to mean?

"Hey." I snapped out of my inner musings long enough to meet Sasuke's annoyed glare. "When was he supposed to show up? It's almost eight now."

I blinked blankly at him.

Would now be a good time to tell him that Kakashi never explicitly said that he'd show up here? I mean, he never specified a meeting place and it was obvious that I wasn't going to be in the hospital another day so I'd just assumed that he'd meet me here at some point. So, going by the assumption that he was actually going to show up, I glanced up at the clock-7:52 AM-so knowing Scarecrow it'll probably be another few hours until he showed up. It was rare to see him before noon when we don't have a mission. It was right after I had finished that thought that there suddenly was a cloud of smoke that appeared, filling up my kitchen and placing an obnoxious man in my apartment.

"Morning!" Kakashi-sensei chirped, hand raised in a wave. As the smoke cleared Duckie and I stared at the man unceremoniously before looking at one another, apparently of the same mind.

"You're early." Sasuke observed, a wary edge to his tone.

At the same time I signed, my brows pulling together in genuine worry. He never arrives at a remotely respectable time. 'Is something wrong?'

The man tilted his head at us in the most infuriatingly clueless way. "What are you two talking about? I thought we'd head out before noon and get a could hours of training in before sundown, but if you're too busy for me then I suppose I could come back later and-"

"No." Sasuke interjected, he was quick to stand and march towards the door as well. I spit my tongue at his back. I wasn't that terrible of company. "I've already packed a overnight kit and am ready to leave." then he added in a lower tone, more to himself. "...Naruto's been training since yesterday."

"Maa… technically you're not allowed to do any sort of arduous physical activities for the next eight days minimum. So, be thankful that you have very understanding sensei who's going to overlook that." Scarecrow drawled dully, like he didn't just admit that he was going to be completely ignoring the doctors orders and training Sasuke in one of the most intense Taijutsu styles there is. Or maybe that's just what I heard. His lone eye drifted to me and I fidgeted. Why did I fidget? I have no reason to fidget. Damn it. And folded my hands under the table for a moment before I realized I was going to be meeting my new teacher right about now. I made quick work of gathering up my new work of literature and sealing it away in my storage book for safekeeping.

"Sasuke, you know where Training Grounds Twenty-Eight is?" he asked, glancing back over at the Uchiha in the room. He nodded shortly after a second of thought. Kakashi eye-smiled. "Good! You can go on ahead while I go take Sora to meet someone. I'll meet you at the top of the tallest rock."

Sasuke's face flickered with annoyance at the silver-haired man's cheerful order, he only spared me a brief glance before nodding silently in obedience and heading towards the door, it opened and closed behind him with not much sound. Then he was gone. And I wouldn't be seeing him again for a couple weeks. I chewed on my bottom lip, a constant worry in the back of my mind that I was pretty sure wasn't going to go away anytime soon. I felt... sad. Damn Duckie. I shouldn't be this attached to someone so emotionally stunted!

Kakashi straightened up from slouching over my counter and my attention was brought back to him. He eye-smiled at me and I became very unsettled by it. More so when I realized that he was suppressing his chakra. He began to leisurely stroll towards the door, motioning me to follow with a jerk of his head.

"C'mon then. Someone is waiting on us."

I tried not to look too much like a deer in the headlights, seeing the danger of an oncoming and painful encounter. I really did. Even my usually defunct sense of survival instinct was flaring to life in this situation. Scarecrow had taken me to one of the larger and more forested Training Grounds on the far side of the Village proper, miles away from another soul. Here, I met the person who he'd chosen to teach me for the next two-and-a-half weeks. I was secretly hoping that my psychosis had finally kicked in and this was all a horrible hallucination.

I felt her chakra intimately now that it was just us three.

Slick, too smooth to grasp properly. Evasive, too. Murky and Suffocating, a feeling like breathing in smog.

"Sora, I'd like to formally introduce you to your teacher," Kakashi-sensei announced, pretending to be oblivious to how pale I'd gotten. I was still holding onto the vain hope that my actual teacher was hiding somewhere and I've failed to spot them yet. He lifted a hand and gestured to the woman and only other person in the training field. She was not much taller than me, standing with her hip jutted out and her arms crossed over what I realized to be mesh armor without a shirt underneath. Effectively, the only clothing she had on was her burnt-orange mini skirt and her brown trench coat.

"Meet Mitarashi Anko."

I turned to Scarecrow, looking up at the man and signing. 'This is about the book, isn't it?'

His eye frowned, confusion flickering through his chakra. "What?"

My face was completely serious. 'Just wondering why you hate me.'

He rolled his eye at me.

The purple-haired woman across from us scowled, drawing my attention back to her, "Eh? Why the hell does your brat know the Intelligence Division's modified hand signs, Hatake?"

What? I blinked stupidly at her. Did she really say what I think she just said? I didn't mishear? Beside me, Kakashi put a finger on his clothed chin and looked up at the cloudless sky, "Oh. Well, that's because Sora is the one who came up with them."

Wait! Wait! What does she mean by-"BWAHAHAHAHAH!" Scary Proctor Lade burst into crazed laughter, alarming me greatly. I inched closer to Kakashi's side as she slapped a hand over her gut. "Oh, that is good! Wait 'till I tell the guys back in T&I that their beloved sign language was created by a tween! Hahahaha! Oh... Oh damn... Ibiki-taichou is gonna flip!"

I was so, so very confused as to what was happening.

My sensei hummed under his breath, the amusement was bright and obvious in the man's chakra. It was a nice change from feeling his usual sadistic amusement. I still didn't have a damn clue what was happening. He looked down at me and spoke with a thoughtful tone. "Actually, Sora was about seven when she started modifying the Standard signs, weren't you?"

Anko was on the ground now, dying.

I still didn't understand what she meant by the Intelligence Division's hand signs. I looked up at my silver-haired sensei, hoping he'd have mercy on my ignorance. He saw my pleading look and shrugged languidly, "Tenzō was really proud of you. He may have shown it off."

Ah, Neko. Wait. Does this mean that everyone connected to the Intelligence Division knows what I'm saying? Just how many people is that? And for how long? I showed Neko my sign language years ago. Just how many people can understand what I'm saying?! I-Scarecrow's hand landed on my head, the weight oddly comforting. I frowned reflexively as he forced me to bow my head in a semi-respectful manner. "Alright, I'll leave her in your care! Please take care of her!" he announced. But what about me? What if I don't want to be left in her 'care'?

He lifted his hand and I turned my frown up at him and the dastard just eye-smiled at me. He turned to begin walking away and the same sadness I felt earlier when Sasuke left was back again. Out of the corner of my eye I was Mitarashi Anko grin. It was sharp and menacing and it was not nice by any means. I swallowed and hastily turned on my heel, impulsively snatching Scarecrow's sleeve in my grasp, he made a small noise of surprise as he looked back down at me with what I imagined was a frown beneath his mask.

"Sora? What is it?" he asked.

I raised my hands quickly, 'Can you come by and check up on the Hero and I? At least once before the end of the month?' I asked/pleaded. It wasn't so much for him to swing by and check if I was still in one piece as it was I could check on that moody brat he was absconding with. Sasuke disappearing with Kakashi was probably the best course of action to keep the Snake's fangs out of him, I know. But... I really don't think completely isolating the angsty, trainoholic teen for an entire month with only an equally emotionally repressed adult was a good idea whatsoever. My boys don't talk about things, they'd rather punch each other's lights out first.

Plus, Kakashi checking in on whatever the heck Naruto and Jiraiya were getting up to sounded pretty good, too.

Reluctance with a tinge of regret appeared in his chakra as he lifted a hand to awkwardly scratch the back of his head, he also averted his eye. "Ahh, I don't really think that's-" I sensed his oncoming rejection. Before the words could leave his mouth I clasped my hands together in front of my chest and pulled out my secret weapon.

Puppy-dog eyes.

The sha-blam, too. Wide eyes, bottom lip trembling ever so slightly, all of it. From the 19% of his expression I could see, it looked like a cross between pain and exasperation. A usual response when dealing with me, I've noticed. Eventually, he folded like a sheet of origami paper. With an exaggerated sigh, he turned away and waved his hand uncaringly over his shoulder. "Sure, sure... I'll check-in in about a week and a half then. Don't get into too much trouble while we're gone."

And then he was gone. Like Sasuke.

"Oi, maggot."

Correction.

And then I was abandoned. To the Crazy Lady.

I woodenly turned back around to face the purple-haired woman to fully soak in the impressive scowl she had on her face. Huh, maybe Sasuke should be learning form her instead? No, scratch that. Duckie is apparently too pretty for regular people and time and again I have witnessed that the women of this world all seem to fall under some sort of spell when he's within eyesight. I've no idea why, -he's so prickly! And rude!- but I had the feeling that even the Crazy Lady wouldn't stand against his pretty powers.

And now is the moment when I realize that she's been talking this entire time.

You idiot. Terra scolded. I withheld a cringe. She was too right this time. Instead of asking the hard-face kunoichi to repeat anything that she had just said -I think it was a sort of introduction or monologue on why she doesn't want to be here right now- I had just nodded when she looked at me expectantly. She stared at me a moment, hard, like she was looking for something on my face. Her chakra shifting in a worrisome way, almost... angrily? Definitely frustrated. Crap, does she know I wasn't listening?

Anko suddenly jabbed her thumb towards the sky, "See the position of the sun?" I glanced up, it was about 8:30 now. Her brown eyes were apathetic as she stared at me. "Yeah, you have until it sets to survive my test. You last that long and I'll maybe consider actually teaching you some shit."

Oh. So that's how this is gonna go. Probably should've seen this coming when I saw her standing her. After hearing that, I had a really, really stupid question that I just had to ask.

'And if I don't make it? Before sundown.' I asked in Sign, and wow it's strange talking with a stranger like this. Does this mean that from now on I have to ask other Leaf nin if they know my hand signs? A thought for another time.

The woman didn't stab me for asking that very stupid question so I took that as a good sign. Then she grinned that not-nice grin again and I took back what I'd just thought. "If you don't make 'till sundown, well..." she shrugged one shoulder, unconcerned, "You'll be dead at that point so that shouldn't concern you too much. The countdown starts now, maggot."

Shit. Damn you, Scarecrow. What have you done to me this time? The woman's predatory grin widened as she leaned forward and whispered...

"...run."

Exam Deux Arc,

Chapter Forty-One: "Fritillaria Meleagris"

END

A/N: So, it may not be obvious but this chapter was cut in half due to a number of reasons. One, being that I got writer's blocked on the last half of the chapter and it just wrecked me. I can't get over this little bump that I probably will in a couple days from now. Two, today is when I finally got my internet back! And since I was satisfied with the first bit I thought that I've made you guys wait long enough and slapped this together. Sorry if it isn't as satisfactory as it could've been but we did get some progress on one of my little plot seeds! It's finally budding and I can't wait to show you all when it blooms!

Oh my god, everyone wants to see Kabuto get his ass kicked! I almost feel bad for the guy. Almost. Then I remember how much of a plot tool I'm using him as. Sora wants his ass kicked, ergo, I do too. Why did we get no substantial follow-up to the end of the last chapter you're wondering? Easy. Nothing big happened. You'll get to see the details soon enough but it was uneventful enough that it didn't need to be seen this time around. We'll all get to see what Kabuto's fate was maybe next chapter? Maybe not. He's not important right now. What happens to Orochimaru's plans while he's AWOL? Now that is important.

A personal fun fact, I've been re-listening to my old Lenka albums and was semi-startled to realize just how many of the songs pair so well with Sora and her story. Especially one track called: 'Like a Song'. I completely forgot how much I was listening to her when I first started writing this.

Fritillaria Meleagris, also known as Snake's Head. You are now free to guess why I called the chapter this. Joking aside, is it a rather pretty little flower.

Author Question!

"What kind of summons contract would you like to sign with? And it doesn't have to be limited to the Narutoverse, pick anything you like."

Hum, I'd pick either Dogs or Foxes. Dogs for ALL the reasons you'd want in a loyal partner -plus PUPPIES!- and foxes are just so wily and fluffy~ I couldn't help myself but want to snuggle them all the time!

Alright all, 'till next time! Wuv yew!

-Nanami

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