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A Song for Them @nihilistic_bunny
Montage Arc, Holster and Kunai

Naruto Fan Fiction!

Adventure! SI-OC!


"A Song for Them"

A/N: RandomOTP, this has been a long one coming, but we've finally made it here. And a side note for anyone that's concerned over Ikari's craziness, I promise that this particular sub-plot will be finished with this arc and we can get into the Finals without any more from her journal. It'll be wrapped up with a nice bow… Until a very later point on down the road. They will be back, just not for a long time.

Back to this chapter of absolute crazy! A tiny, little side-note on my end. So.. uh, remember how I might've mentioned that this arc is going to last three more chapters? Well... that was before half of this chapter had turned into a whole one itself. So, uhm. Sorry about that. Two more chapters, THEN the Exams begin! Promise. Until then. I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I have!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'Naruto' or any of the canon characters! Because if I had, then they would suffer so much. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

NOTE: This chapter is a prime example of that suffering.

WARNING! RATED M! For stuffs. Secret stuffs. Mostly for the above stuffs. Also for comfortability regarding Ikari's shit. Uwaaaahhh…

Montage Arc,

Chapter Fifty-Two: "Holster and Kunai"

"When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." -Will Rogers

—Entry 337

August 3rd, Monday
(1897 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

It has been four months since beginning the Parturition experiment. Since discussing it with Orochimaru-sama, I have continued my travels while searching for potential recruits to help fill out the infrastructure of Orochimaru-sama's budding network. Acquiring assets when time allows and scouting land that we might use for a laboratory in the future.

Using his status in the Leaf, Orochimaru-sama has been providing me with the details of missions where I might locate an Uchiha he has deemed as an appropriate biological donor. I have attempted two separate inseminations as of this entry and both ended in miscarriages within the first trimester.

The first time was… jarring. Though I had anticipated the possibility of experiencing a miscarriage during the course of this experiment, to experience one first hand was…

Regardless. I will continue until I have achieved success.

—Entry 339

August 18th, Tuesday
(1906 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

Orochimaru-sama informed me that he has come to statistic regarding the efficacy of the Transference Seal. After applying it on more subjects, it seems to have a success rate of one out of ten. It is a less than desirable standard, but he tells me that it is interesting to see the effects the Transference Seal has upon their bodies. I am looking forward to reading his illuminating autopsy findings next time .

Besides that, he hypnotizes my case as being a rather unique one as the Seal failed to fully adapt to my chakra network. Though I can still tap into the seal to a certain degree, it takes a heavy and potentially lethal toll on my body. Orochimaru-sama said it was only due to my innate healing abilities that my heart remained beating after it's initial activation. There is concern that the influx of foreign chakra would overwhelm my coils and kill me if I attempt to activate the Seal again.

Orochimaru-sama has since forbidden me from doing so.

—Entry 340

August 29th, Saturday
Half Moon,
(1923 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

Today I met Ayota Hiromu, Head of the mercenary Ayota Clan. He and his clan were hired to protect the merchant caravan I had been traveling with from bandits and deal with Shinobi we might come across. I expected something like this might happen eventually.

With the recent increase of border skirmishes between the larger countries, the roads are becoming more treacherous to anyone unaffiliated to the Shinobi Villages. Including the handful of nomadic clans like the Ayota that were leftover from the time before the Villages establishments. Ones that had refused to be shackled to a single place, to serve under the rule and whim of a Daimyo.

I was able to witness a young man from the clan kill a boar at dusk, allowing me a glimpse of his skillset. The clan seems to hold a proficiency with Iaidō and incorporate it also into their Taijutsu. It is an intriguing mix that I think Orochimaru-sama would so share an interest in.

Our destination is set for Hot Springs, where my next target will arrive in two weeks. Until then, I will continue to observe this mercenary clan for anyone that might hold potential to serve Orochimaru-sama.

—Entry 347

October 13th, Thursday
New Moon,
(1968 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

Today we have arrived at our destination in the Capital of Hot Springs and I have inducted the entire Ayota clan into Orochimaru-sama's services. After acquiring the specimen from Uchiha donor, I along with the Ayota clan will return to Rice Fields where we will meet with Orochimaru-sama in a small Township he has recently taking a liking to and discuss the details of the Ayota's placement and future duties.

I am satisfied I was able to convince the Ayota Clan head to accept my offer. There are many useful members of the clan, but among them, there was a young boy that stood out to me the most.

Gen'yūmaru, the eldest son of the Clan head. I think he has potential that Orochimaru-sama would be personally invested in seeing developed. When he is matured, I would even think he could be a suitable bearer for the Seal of Transference.

He was certainly not perfection, but I am interested to see what would become of him.

—(The entries continue over the next three years to record her travels, growing increasingly less detailed as time passed. She lists some more names, cryptic mentions of specific locations, and the continued results of Parturition Experiment)—

—(By age twenty, she had experienced several miscarriages. Only one attempt had lasted more than a few months, and it had nearly killed her. From reading the entries alone, there were signs of it badly affecting her mental state with every new failure)—

—Entry 399

January 1st, Sunday
(2787 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

I feel lost.

Orochimaru-sama says that it is a waste of time and resources to further pursue the Uchiha Bloodline. He has ordered me to oversee the laboratory in the Land of Sea for the time being, to hone my skills and help him with his research. He says there are a great many other projects he would like my focus on instead.

I understand why he has reached this decision. The results so far account for it. My failures speak for themselves.

As of this date, all eighteen attempts have resulted in undeniable failure.

—Entry 403

March 4th, Wednesday
A Wonderful day,
(2850 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

Orochimaru-sama has finally cut ties from the Leaf.

I believe it was due to his experiments into gene manipulation in search of recreating mutations of Senju Hashirama's Wood Release Bloodline. I do not know the exact details yet but I will be going over his research later tonight. His letter also mentioned researching about a Clan with a Bloodline ability to turn their bodies into smoke?Something interesting to investigate, should he like me to. It sounds worthy enough of attention.

I expect him to arrive at the base here in Sea any day now. I will be there to greet Orochimaru-sama in person. Excitement fills my veins when I think of it, I can barely contain myself.

It feels like lifetimes since I had last seen Orochimaru-sama in the flesh...

—Entry 404

March 5th, Thursday
(2851 Days since meeting Orochimaru-sama)

I am slightly confused? No. Confused is not the proper word. I was… shocked? Stunned? Perhaps…

I was surprised when Orochimaru-sama had arrived at the base, with a young girl from the Leaf trailing behind him. A genin from the squad of children his former mentor had thrust upon him to choose. He had confessed to me that he finds she holds a great potential, waiting to be unlocked under the ideal conditions. Conditions she would not find amongst the Leaf.

I confess, I have not seen the potential that Orochimaru-sama speaks of. Yet, I trust Orochimaru-sama's judgment implicitly.

Soon he will apply the Seal to her and we will see if she will become the one out of ten. If not, then I will be performing an additional autopsy before dinner.


Ikari, Age 20—Base in the Land of the Sea

"Yo, Nee-san! What'cha readin'?"

I looked down at young Anko who was peering up at me with large brown eyes. I closed the latest chemical analysis of subject #301, setting to the side where she would not see it's contents and the effects my neurotoxin has on human brain tissue. Orochimaru-sama had given my explicit instructions not to frighten or engage with the young girl too much after all.

"Tests of the salt water from this ocean," I answered, reminding myself to smile politely. "I'm interested if the levels of sodium here differ from places such as the Shuchiin coast in Wind or Ameyoshi Bay in Cloud. Would you like to read, Anko-chan? There are several pages worth of material—"

"NO! No—no, thanks!" she said hurriedly, waving her hands. "I'm good. Dickface-kun wanted me do to something anyways."

I frowned uncertainly, moving to secure some of my projects I had left exposed. There's not many she could be referring to. That man Orochimaru-sama appointed to head the research at this base was both highly unpleasant to be around and the only one the girl should've been in contact with since her arrival.

"Amachi?" I guessed. She nodded in confirmation, walking over up to the chemistry table to scrutinize my vial of concentrated stonefish venom. That was for my experimental neurotoxin. It took two weeks to extract the venom sacs for that amount.

I watched her carefully, curious as to her intentions. She stood on her toes and sniffed the container before abruptly pulling back, pressing a hand over her nose. Interesting reaction.

"What kinda venom is this?! That smell—" she yelped, looking up at me with surprise. "This ain't no herbal shit like the kunoichi back home use! Yah must be working with something real nasty, Nee-chan," her lips cracked into a thin smile that reminded me very much of Orochimaru-sama. She grows more interesting. "…what the hell is it?"

She must have a heightened olfactory sense to be able to discern the proteins in the venom. Perhaps this is what drew Orochimaru-sama to the girl? Orochimaru-sama had mentioned to me that the girl had an certain adeptness with toxicology, but I wonder just what was the extent of her knowledge.

I scrutinized the girl for a moment before telling her where the venom originated. She responded with shock, having never heard of sea creatures having venom glands of their own. Young Anko then began to ask me a series of questions relating to the toxins of the sea and the effects they have on human subjects. I answered each question concisely and continued to be surprised by how eagerly the child had absorbed the information, allowing her curiosity to take full control of her judgment as she began to look closer at the other projects I had lying about. My own curiosity was sparked anew and I began to inquire further into her own knowledge, and made a discovery about how she had caught the eye of Orochimaru-sama.

"That was your recipe?" I asked, brow arched. I remember how Orochimaru-sama had lauded that toxins potency in combat. If this is true, then young Anko is more impressive than my first estimation. "From what I've seen, that must require quite the complex distilling process for maximum potency. I would not have expected such resourcefulness from someone so young and inexperienced."

Her eyes shone as her grin widened, chest puffing up slightly in pride.

Yes, I could see it now. This is what Orochimaru-sama had spoken of.

"Come, Anko-chan," I placed a gentle hand on the girl's shoulder and ushered her from the lab, into the hall. She walked beside me without resistance, watching me with wonderfully curious brown eyes. "Tonight, Orochimaru-sama has something very special planned for you. I believe it's time to prepare you to receive his gift."

"Holy shit—Seriously!?" unbridled excitement washed over her every feature. It was a refreshing sight. "What kinda gift is it, Nee-chan?"

I smiled softly, touching her head. "A very special one."

空 (Sky)

Sora, June 22nd—Outskirts of Konoha
(Days Until Invasion: 10)

Anko cackled. Loudly and with glee. I walked beside her, bag over my shoulder as I continued to pretend as I have for the last ten minutes that the woman was dead to me.

You kinda deserved this though. Terra was kind enough to point out.

It was my mistake - a mistake I will never ever make again for as long as I shall live - for trying to make small talk with her. I ignored her as I walked down the paved path, listening to the sweet birdsong in the early morning and being thankful that the air was cool and crisp.

Anko was still laughing at me.

"Bwhahahaha! You—You are p-pretty stupid! Hahaha!" Anko continued. Then, to drive the kunai in further she decided to use logic for once as she eyed me up, specifically eyeing my chest area. "Yeah, I can see it actually! You've got the hips and shoulders for it, and with your diet? You're definitely not gonna get any smaller—Pffft!"

Why did I ever entertain the idea that Anko would have some genuinely helpful advice about where to get a good sports bra? God. Resisting the urge to look down and give her any more reason to mock me, I acknowledged the fact my chest size showed no sign of stopping it's growth yet and it was annoying as hell. I also know that I used to be able to preform a handstand without having to account for my breasts in the past, but that is no longer the reality, sadly. Now I have to resort to wrapping my chest even tighter so there's no chance of movement or bounce, which is annoying because it gets harder to breath the tighter it gets. Anko obviously had no issues with hers, which is why I asked for advice. She just goes without anything on. Letting them bounce around freely and unobstructed like fudging bouncy balls. But instead of being an adult and helping out a younger, maturing girl, she just started laughing her ass off and I was so done with her.

Being a girl is hard.

Anko started laughing again, as if she could read my thoughts.

As we came into sight of the Hot Springs I felt a shiver run up my spine and a familiar tug on my senses, a chakra signature I knew too well. The very distinct pull to it had me running forward just in time to see a pair of emotionally stunted geniuses standing in front of the archway to the Hot Springs.

Sasuke looked to be in the middle of grousing to Kakashi while the man in question bore it with uncharacteristic patience. One grey eye looked over just as I'd stopped dead in my tracks. I was blinking rapidly, trying to process if what I was seeing was really what I was seeing. Anko didn't drug me again, did she?

Kakashi-sensei raise two fingers in a lame attempted wave.


I dashed forward with my arms spread, a grin on my face. Sasuke took notice of my presence and immediately moved out of my way but Kakashi only looked somewhat amused, his eye creasing warmly a little at the corner as I closed in. Just as soon as he was in range, I launched a hug at him and his chakra poofed!

I reoriented myself and I found I was hugging a dummy. Like, an actual dummy—expertly stitched together, filled with stuffing and had the most annoyingly cheerful eye-smile on it's cloth-covered face.

What the fudge!?

Why the hell did he use substitution to get out of my hug!? My head whipped towards the silver-haired man in befuddlement, he was now standing a good few feet away from me and practically laughing by the way his cheek was curved. I began to pout, because after everything I've been put through these last few weeks I deserved at least an indulgent head pat!

Sasuke snorted from where he also stood a safe distance away and turned his head away to hide his amusement, drawing my attention to him. I found myself blinking again, this time taking in all the little differences from the last time I'd seen him, walking out my front door with an annoyed expression on his face.

His hair has gotten a bit longer, I noticed. The ends of it hung down past his jawline and brushed below his neck with every tilt of his head. His hands and forearms were wrapped up with thick bandage but I could see the pink and scarred skin on his fingertips, raw from use. He was wearing his usual knee-length shorts and high collared outfit, just in a darker shade. I noticed that he's gained more muscle, too. His arms and legs were far more defined than they used to be. He must have been training his body like crazy this whole time.

I looked down at my own arms and legs, wondering if I've gained any muscle, too? I better have. I've been running my ass off everyday to build up my stamina! My other halves made nasty comments that I chose to ignore, because I deserve better than that. I'm in damn good shape!

"HEY! SORA-CHAAAN!" Naruto's voice rang out at an increasingly oncoming rate. He was running this way, hand waving in the air. I smiled. He nearly tripped when he saw them. "WHAT'RE YOU—WAIT, IS THAT?! BASTARD?! AND KAKASHI-SENSEI TOO 'TTEBAYO!?"

Naruto came stumbling up and stood in front of Sasuke, eyes wide, shoulders tense, and looking a mix between happy and unsure. Very unsure, actually? Oh, is this because they aren't technically 'friends' or mortal enemies, so he doesn't know how to greet him?

I considered if I should try to help break the ice, but it became clear that I didn't need to.

In contrast to Naruto, Sasuke stood completely at ease, hands in his pockets and a smirk naturally sliding onto his face. He gave the Hero a brief nod.

"'Sup, Dead Last?"

Yup, that's our Duckie.

"Why you—" Naruto reacted loudly and with indignance, and the sight of him getting red in the face over Sasuke seemed like the first really normal thing that's happened in a while. I was looking on, extremely fond, as my hug-allergic sensei came sashaying over to where I was still clinging onto this stuffed replacement.

"Good to see you've both managed to stay in one piece," he dryly said to me, chakra reacting with fondness as we watched Naruto and Sasuke get back to their usual tricks. We were both saps.

'No thanks to you,' I shot back, trying not to look too mooney-eyed after finally seeing my sadistic teacher after a couple weeks. He didn't deserve my affections. Kakashi-doll did. 'Crazy Lady tried her best.'

And just as soon as I'd said that, Anko's boot pressed against the back of my head.

"Eh? Are my eyes failing me, brat? Because it looked like you were talking shit 'bout me." she pressed harder, smushing my face against Kakashi-doll's masked one and I felt actual Kakashi's chakra become weirded out. Hah. That's funny.

He should suffer more. This is his fault.

"Ahh, Mitarashi-san," he interrupted with an awkward eye-smile. "Thank you for keeping my student out of trouble these last few weeks. I hope she wasn't too much of a handful for you?"

I blinked rapidly. Repeating his words over in my head.

This woman has beaten, verbally berated, poisoned, and has taken me to a bar and openly encouraged me to drink alcohol. What part of that did he consider as keeping out of trouble, I wonder?

No, seriously. What are his standards for childcare? I feel like this is something that should be seriously addressed.

"Nah, she didn't talk back so I'm good." Anko eloquently answered.

I gave my silver-haired sensei the blankest, most unimpressed side-eye I could physically manage from my position under Anko's boot. I don't think it was very effective, honestly. Well, whatever. He asked - as unconcerned sounding as possible - for Anko to remove herself from atop me and they exchanged some words that I couldn't quite catch as Naruto and Sasuke's bickering had hit a peak volume, and the Devil Woman gave me an evil-looking smirk before shunshining away.

My eyes zeroed on Kakashi, who acted as infuriatingly casual as ever. I became very alarmed as he returned my stare with that sleepy look and I read his chakra—He was suppressing it!

"Maa, it's been a while since we held Friendly Sparring Day." he eye-smiled. "Don't you think, Sora?"

I let my head fall against the Kakashi-doll, falling into despair. I took comfort in its silent support, noting that it actually did smell faintly like it's maker. Huh, that was sort of reassuring. Actual Kakashi rolled his eye at me, with fondness though.


I sat on a little wooden loveseat by the water as I watched Naruto and Sasuke go at it on the surface of the hot springs, the both of them getting the hang of sparring while balancing barefoot atop reasonably hot water. After Naruto took the first dunk he stripped down to his boxers - the grinning monkey faces printed on them were so cute - already used to getting dunked in the water due to his brief training with Ibisu. Sasuke had stripped too, but kept his shorts on, being surprisingly more modest than Naruto. That or he just was confident that his shorts weren't going to get wet, which, was much more likely if I'm being realistic.

For the umpteeth time in the last ten minutes, Naruto had flung himself at Sasuke—who dodged effortlessly, and then returned the lunge with a sideswipe that had Naruto going headfirst into the water. There were girlish cheers nearby that I tried to ignore. Another by-product of Duckie stripping somehow ended up attracting attention from some of the other female visitors of the Hot Springs. There were currently five-and-a-half girls standing against a bridge, ogling the very pale and shirtless Duckie.

This annoyed the boys and me all for different reasons. Duckie: Because he was allergic to his fans, and girls in general. Naruto: Because the girls weren't cheering for him, at all. And Me: Because they were noisy and distracting. I couldn't concentrate when they were squealing over Sasuke every seven seconds.

Naruto climbed back atop the surface, sputtering and looking like a drenched yellow cat with all his fur sticking to his face. The comparison had me smiling a little. Naruto shook himself off, splashing water everywhere but onto Sasuke mostly. Duckie just scowled before shaking the droplets of water from his face once and combing his hand through his slightly damp hair, looking like a guy out of those cologne commercials I used to see all the time.

Le Duck—the new fragrance by Konoha…

On the bridge, one of the girls giggled hysterically before she collapsed. The other four-and-a-half gasped and tried to fan her back to consciousness.

For a while after the boys started brawling I had tried to focus on the latest Fūinjutsu formulae Jiraiya and I had agreed on pursuing, but then I had gotten distracted by a presence in the distance. It had only been there for a flicker of a moment but I recognized the chakra's as Neko's immediately. Then Kakashi had none too subtly ditched me at the sidelines with the excuse of spotting a rare spotted-bellied canary. Which, I was fairly convinced he had made up on the spot. It didn't take a genius to figure out Scarecrow left to chat but I couldn't help but feel a little jealous, reminded of the fact I hadn't seen Neko in person since our fight. I wonder if something important happened? Was he eating all his meals? Getting enough sleep? Was there something he wanted to talk to me about, but he didn't know how to approach me so he was going to ask his super senpai girl advice?

...or maybe they just ran off to gossip like old ladies about what Kakashi has been missing while out training and read porn for a while. Yeah, now that I think about it. That's probably what they're doing.

Naruto shouted a curse as his footing slipped and he went ankle deep in, but he kept his concentration and stayed above water level. That was improvement already. Stashing away my Fūinjutsu materials I began to make observations on the boys in earnest. Taking note of how much - and how little, considering their spar is actively devolving into a common brawl - their fighting styles have changed over the last few weeks since we've been training separately. One of the first things I noticed while Naruto and Sasuke were fighting?

Naruto was hitting harder than he used to.

He was subconsciously using more physical chakra/stamina to throw more pack behind his punches, the constipated face Sasuke makes whenever he blocks is any indication. The Hero hasn't been training physically like Duckie and I have been, but he's been working on focusing his chakra more finely, and that's carrying over into his every punch. Putting his troubles with the tadpole summoning aside, it was a vast improvement over a short amount of time. I had to give that old pervert a little credit for giving Naruto something to work towards and focus on, but the rest of it was all thanks to the Hero's relentless work ethic!

On the other side of the spectrum, Sasuke has been holding back the entire time.

It was obvious in his every move. There was a lightness and fluidity to his footwork that wasn't there before. There wasn't a single movement wasted by him as he took his time sparring against Naruto, every one of his strikes and kicks were efficient and hit on target. I hadn't thought it was possible before, but Duckie has become even more graceful. It's as annoying as it is begrudgingly impressive. They've already been going at it a while, much longer than their usual spars, but at this point I suspect that Duckie was just using Naruto as stamina training. Speaking of, Duckie just upended Naruto and threw him through the air and into the water by the bridge. Where the girls were still gawking.

They all shrieked as they were all caught in the splash zone, they all whined and began to slink away, complaining about their hair. From where I sat, I could see the new smirk Duckie was sporting and Naruto looked pretty pleased when he resurfaced. It almost made me wonder if they made a brief truce to get rid of their unwanted spectators.

I chewed on my bottom lip, one hand toying with my earrings.

It didn't seem like the boys were going to finish up anytime soon, and it's already been about twenty minutes since Kakashi ditched me. So there was little chance he was going to come back at anytime to enforce the Friendly Sparring rules and send me in for my regularly ass-kicking. Odds are, Sasuke and Naruto were just going to keep going until the sun went down. Just like they always did when it was the two of them. And here I was, left to my own devices as everyone else was being all social and crap…

I sighed, feeling an annoying sensation of loneliness prickling at my chest.

There was a giggle in the distance, followed by a girlish shriek and a splash of water. I turned my head towards the sound and spotted the Women's bathhouse. My body ached suddenly, and I was reminded of how very tired I felt. How long has it been since a proper hot, relaxing soak in a proper bath? I looked back at the boys, weighed my desire to get my ass kicked in a spar versus the temptation of a moment of selfish indulgence after the last couple of hellish weeks I've had?

I stood, deciding that I deserved a bath, dammit!

Before heading directly to the bathhouse, I'd stop by the room we rented for tonight and tomorrow and grab a change of clothes, drop off my equipment. I took two steps before I paused, looking down at the two piles of clothing sitting nearby. I looked back up at Duckie and the Hero, confirming that they were so totally into their spar that the world didn't exist outside of them.

Smiling, a tad villainously and just a smidge spitefully, I reached down as a brilliant idea came to me.


I exhaled slowly as I walked across the water, releasing the tension from my shoulders as I controlled my breathing. My muscles were beginning to ache from exertion and my reaction time had become slower with every time the Idiot had gotten back up. My stamina may have improved a lot since the last time we sparred, but I'm losing more energy at a growing rate the longer I fight. That wouldn't cut it in a real fight.

It was just another limit that I needed to overcome.

Kakashi said we were only going to be here for the weekend to rest before going back, but that wasn't soon enough for me. I shouldn't be wasting my time sitting in some bath with idiots when I should be out perfecting my execution of the Chidori and improving how many uses I can get out of it.


I closed my eyes and didn't bother looking, already sure that my things weren't there either. The Idiot continued shouting about being robbed and I sighed. Opening my eyes again, I stepped off the water back onto the concrete and confirmed that everything was gone.

"Sasuke," he ran up, panicked. I gave him a dull look. "We've been robbed!"

"You notice something else that's gone, Idiot?" Some one, specifically.

He scowled at me before looking around. It really was an embarrassing amount of time he took in realizing who the culprit was. When he did, a conflicted expression crossed his face. He was both annoyed and… proud? What the hell? Naruto ran off, grinning excitedly as he began searching for Sora and I returned to the room.

I had left my overnight bag there earlier and I needed a fresh shirt, then I could look around for an area where I could resume training by myself. I didn't need to rest. I needed to get stronger as soon as I could. The others could afford to slack off if they wanted to, but I had a goal beyond the Final Exam. One that is far above the opponents I'll face next week.

I didn't have time to play around like them.


I let out a content sigh, feeling every muscle in my body melt into the hot water. After navigating through the semi-to-mostly naked women at the entrance, I found myself a quiet little rock to lean on in the deep end of the hot spring and just… relaxed.

I inhaled the humid air and let it fill my lungs, crossing my arms under my head and closing my eyes. I was in serious danger of falling asleep, but I really couldn't work up the effort to care much at the moment.

Then I sensed something odd.

Or, more accurately, two somethings.

Frowning, I squinted through the steam and looked up...


(3¾ minutes earlier)

I frowned, looking up at the rooftop.

What was that Idiot doing? He looked to be carrying a small bag in his hand as he crept along the roof, a disturbingly wide grin on his face. What could he be up there for? It doesn't look like he'd found his clothes yet. Could he be… was he getting in more training?

I frowned deeper, feeling a restless itch under my skin.

I looked up and down the path before leaping up to the roof after him. The Idiot had crawled over to the other end and was crouched by the edge, holding out the bag in his hand. I kept my footsteps quiet as I came up behind him and asked what he thought he was doing. Wait, this was the women's

"GRAAAAHHHH!" he spun around with a start and the Idiot's foot slipped on the rooftile. He tilted backwards, arms flailing. Naruto's hand grabbed the back of my shirt as he fell—

I didn't react fast enough to stay anchored to the building and lost my footing, too.

"You Idiot—"

We both fell off the roof.

I twisted my body around and prepared myself for landing, concentrating chakra to my feet so I'd land on the surface of the water. Naruto hit the water first, sending waves through it but I managed to land with minimal effort even against the excess water resistance.

I looked up and saw Sora, then everything seemed to move slowly after that.

She was leaning up against a rock, dripping wet from Naruto's splash landing.

The bag Naruto had been holding finally landed, exploding directly on top of her head into a cloud of faint green smoke.

I blinked, realizing what the Idiot had done.

Sora lifted her hand and pulled her hair down in front of her eyes.

Her hair was green now.

There was a funny but brief moment when her face went pale before it lit up red, then purple.

Then Naruto shouted, panicked. "SASUKE, RUN!"

I didn't understand why he would say that until Sora stood up on the water, glaring and completely naked.

What the hell.

It was more on instinct than conscious thought that I turned and followed Naruto, who had already climbed out of the water and was sprinting through the dressing room. There were screams and shouts from the other women in the bath as they spotted us on the way out and all I could do was damn Naruto and his idiocy under my breath as I saw way too much skin than I was comfortable with.

I caught up with the Idiot soon enough but we weren't even halfway out the door before we heard a new wave of shouts coming from the back. Then Sora rounded the corner, still naked and looking pissed.

Naruto squawked and grabbed my arm, pulling me behind him as he took off running again. Wait, what was I running for!? I didn't do anythi—I yanked Naruto to the side just as a hand reached for him. I looked over my shoulder and saw Sora was right behind us, having closed the distance unusually fast for her. So she hasn't been slacking off these last few weeks, huh? Interesting.

My mouth tugged into a smile.

Maybe I would be getting in some training after all.

友達 (Friend)

This… really wasn't how I was expecting this day to go.

Seriously, on my list of things that could've possibly happened in response to getting the kids back in one place, finding one of them streaking after the other two with noticeable Killer Intent wasn't remotely in the range of potential scenarios. And yet, here I was. Sitting across from all three of my students as they each tried to look anywhere but each other. Sasuke was blankly staring at the wall, probably making plans to sneak out tonight to train more. Naruto was sitting in his underwear beside him, shooting nervous glances at Sora like a sad puppy. And Sora, who was fuming on the other side of the room in a bathhouse robe with her newly greenish hair.

It was just like Chapter Three of Icha-Icha Paradise, right after Takeo and Katsumi tentatively agreed on sharing an inn room to hide from the head-hunters. Well, it was close enough. Takeo had accidentally walked in on Katsumi when she was in the middle of a bath and was mistaken for a peeper, much to his dismay. Katsumi had reacted angrily and violently, chasing after him dressed in nothing but a damp towel. Poor Takeo had tried to explain things but got understandably distracted when he saw her, bouncing after him. It was an absolute mess full of misunderstandings that became the source of most the animosity Katsumi held against him in the first half of the book.

I looked back at the kids, who were getting older and more familiar with each month, - Kami, has it really been six months since I picked them up at the Academy? - and I realized I had made a mistake of noticing these things. Shit. It was that time, wasn't it? I'd been pushing it off for so long that I had hoped that maybe I could get away with not doing it, and then they could just learn on their own. But… they were making it really hard to do that.

Ah, sometimes it really sucked to be a responsible adult.

I took a deep breath, mentally preparing myself.

"I think that we need to discuss… something. As a, uhm, a team." I began, already fighting the instinct to shunshin as far away as possible when all three of them turned their attention to me. "As your teacher, it's my responsibility to, ah, make sure that you are informed as growing… people. About the, uhm… things young people sometimes have compulsions to do."

Sasuke looked at me like I was speaking another language. Sora looked mildly alarmed. Naruto just squinted at me, already lost.

"Things like what 'ttebayo?" Well, for example Naruto; things like kissing, touching, se—the sudden urge to throw oneself off a cliff.

Oh wait, that last one was just me.

I glared at Naruto for asking such painfully reasonable question. This is his fault I have to talk about this in the first place. Seriously, it looked like he didn't even understand the situation he's put us in. He really was living up to the title of knucklehead, wasn't he. Swallowing, my mouth felt dry and I tried to ignore the rising heat of my face, keeping my composure.

"As young adults, there are ways to deal with these things—safely. Be safe. Always be pr-prepared." I choked out, pointedly not elaborating on his question. "There are two types of… interaction. One that is used for people that, uhm, have known and care about each other a lot. And the other is used to, uh, fulfil a certain kind of, des—a hunger—Like… food? A craving?"

Sasuke went pale. Sora dragged her hand down her face. Naruto suddenly got excited.

"Like a craving for ramen!? Oh! Hey Kakashi-sensei, can we go to Ichiraku's for dinner tonight?"

"Ra—no. No, Naruto. Not like ramen. It's—" I sighed. This was getting too off-topic. I should just stop beating around the bush and get this over with. It can't get anymore painful than it is right now. I felt light-headed and could really use that drink Anko offered, her ulterior motive be damned. "What… I mean to say is, that when a man and a woman love each other—"

Choking on the last of the sentence, I gave up and made a circle with one hand and moved to poke the other one through it.

Sora slapped my hands down before I could follow through with it.

'What is this?' she signed, looking bewildered. 'What are you doing?'

I blinked, looking at my red-greenheadish student.

"Educating you?" I answered weakly.

She narrowed her eyes at me, unamused. Then she produced her notepad and jotted down a very damning; "You do realize that we learned about sex in the Academy, right?"

It took a moment to register.

"...say again?"

"There was an entire day dedicated to learning about it. Everything about it. Boys and Girls were separated and then had everything explained in painful detail. We had the class last fall."

I didn't learn that in the Academy. Granted, I had graduated a lot earlier than they had. In a different era, too. Learning about things like that didn't have a place in the classroom when you were nine-years-old and would've been better off learning how to disarm an explosive tag instead. In my defense, Minato-sensei had tried to explain it to me himself and even then, well... he was a great man with many accomplishments, but the mention of sex and his face would turn redder than Kushina-san's hair. One of Kushina-san's favorite ways of teasing him when they thought we weren't listening. It was kinda gross.

Our talk didn't go well, as expected. He had spared both of us the pain and had just given me one of Kushina-san's trashy novels from the bookshelf and promised to try to answer any questions I had.

…and then he died, so.

"So, you… already know about…?"

"Sex." Sora finished with far too much ease. Then she wrote a further confirmation and showed it to the boys for agreement. "We've already had our sexual education. Correct?"

I looked at my students, a small hope rising in my chest. I didn't actually have to do this? Gai was just fucking with me when he told me he gave the Talk to his kids? No, wait. It was Gai. He probably knew it was not needed and did it voluntarily. Maybe out of care to make sure his genin were prepared for the world or maybe just to embarrass them for fun. It depends on his mood.

"I, uh..." Oh shit. Naruto ducked his head, rubbing the back of his neck. "I might've skipped that class so I could go hang out with Shikamaru, Chōji and Kiba..."

So much for hope.

Sora stared critically.

"It was boring 'ttebayo!" he defended. Naruto ducked his head further and crossed his arms over his chest, looking like a scolded pup even though Sora hadn't actually said anything. "They just had a bunch of us sit in a room while some chuunin from another class droned on and on! I'd almost fell asleep when I spotted the guys in the hall! I mean, I know how that stuff happens! I'm not an idiot, yanno!"

Sora's face twitched.

"There is more to the class other than 'how it's done'." she wrote forcefully. We both turned to Sasuke who looked like he wanted to be here even less than I did. He was silent, but I could still tell from his body language that he was massively uncomfortable right now. Sora just looked resigned at this point. "It's not mandatory for Clan kids, is it?"

"It was an elective class." he calmly confirmed, so that meant no, he didn't take it. Hopes officially dashed. Well, at least I don't have to deal with the extra awkwardness of having to explain it to my female student.

Before I could kick her out, Sora turned to me, arching an eyebrow.

'Did you take the class?'

Fuck. Lie. "Of course I did—" she closed her eyes and held up her hand, silencing me. Sora then pinched the bridge of her nose and gave me a look of vague disappointment.

I wonder how long it'd take me to get to the top of Hokage monument? It would probably be a nice view on the way down…

'Stay.' she signed quickly. Okay, that knowing-what-I'm-thinking thing she was doing was getting annoying. She scowled, looking me dead in the eye. 'If you flee, I am getting Rival.'

Rival? What did she mean by—No. But she couldn't—Oh. That's right. He had went and introduced himself during the first phase of the exams. Does that mean if I were to leave right now, like every instinct in my body is telling me, that she'll send Gai after me and have him talk to me about this?

I looked back at my female student, eyeing her serious and resigned expression.

"You wouldn't." I challenged. Was she really that cruel?

The corner of her lips twitched.

'Try me.' she dared.


Naruto's eyes were wide as he stared up at the roof. He looked as if he was contemplating deep philosophical questions about the nature of Life and Existence. Yanno, the usual stuff.

Sasuke had his head turned as he glared at the wall, his ears and neck a flushed a light pink as he tried his hardest to suppress the memories of the last twenty minutes.

Kakashi just looked like he regret everything in his life that led up to this moment.

I grinned.


'Any questions?' I asked, putting away a few diagrams I'd drawn up for visual reference during my lecture. I wasn't close to being considered a good artist, but I at least knew how to draw basic anatomy from my Kunoichi classes. It was enough to make Kakashi want to die of embarrassment.

Naruto opened his mouth and Sasuke promptly slapped his hand over it, glaring darkly.

I snorted a laugh as I walked over and cheerfully handed Kakashi's Icha-Icha back to him. He took it sullenly, not meeting my eyes whatsoever. While the man had been hiding his face in his hands and desperately wishing for my lesson to be over, I had plucked the book from his hip pouch and began using it as reference material.

For someone that claimed to be an expert on the female body, Jiraiya sure took a lot of liberties when writing about the woman's perspective during intercourse and other things. Particularly about the women's menstrual cycles and how it turned them all into violence-craving, punch-happy weapons of mass destruction. Which, I'm pretty sure only has ever applied to one woman who just so happened to be Jiraiya's obsession and able to kill a mountain with her pinky finger.

That turn of subject, of course, caused Naruto to raise his hand and asked what a menstrual cycle was.

My dear Sensei had been horrified. And then Duckie learned never to let the Hero ask another question about anything ever again. I still felt like laughing at their misery. As flustered as I might get when faced with the absurdly pretty people of this world, I was fairly dispassionate about the subject of the human body as a whole. It was just a fleshy bag to hold our electrified meat, skeletal frame and essential fluids. I just didn't understand the embarrassment associated with learning about how it works. To not do so would just be irresponsible, especially in our line of work. Besides that conversation, I wiggled in the topic about respecting boundaries and specifically how it's not allowed to ambush someone who's sitting naked in the bath.

Naruto had profusely apologized, again. I forgave him, of course. Then in lieu of awkwardly starting a conversation, Scarecrow suggested we all head out to dinner in effort to dispel any lingering memory of what happened.

The boys - unsurprisingly - agreed.

There was a little Soba place not far from the hot springs, and it should've been nearing closing time so there probably wouldn't be a crowd. Naruto and I got properly dressed and we all headed over in relatively awkward silence. The Hero was acting skittish around me even when we took our seats, choosing to sit closer to Duckie than me. Which, I couldn't honestly say that I blamed him for. I was allowed to be a little pissed with his prank gone wrong. I might've forgiven him for the deed, but it didn't mean I wasn't okay with it.

Speaking of…

I picked up a green-tinted lock of hair and held it in front of my face, wilting. God, why did he have to use green?! I'd went back to the bath and scrubbed repeatedly but in the end I couldn't get all the dye out of my hair. I probably should've washed it out immediately but my brain kinda… went into a fugue state back there and I just started hunting the boys down. It was quite an episode. I don't usually lose my cool like that… I wonder if I was developing anger issues?

From across the table, Duckie smirked to himself and made an off-hand comment as he made for the dumplings.

"At least your hair matches your boyfriend now."

I blinked, frowning in confusion as Naruto made a choking noise. Boyfriend? What did green hair have to do—DID HE MEAN LEE?!

Scarecrow caught my arm before I could stab Sasuke with my chopsticks.

"Now, now," the silver-haired man chided, nose buried in an instructional booklet about wicker basket making. No Icha-Icha? Really, now. Did I scar him that badly?

With a calming exhale, I stopped trying to make a Sasuke-kabob and he released my arm.

Then I dropped my heel on Sasuke's open-toed sandals. He bit his tongue and then gave me one of the darkest, deadliest-looking glares he's ever had! Ooooh, so scary~! As if that would work on me—my knee jerked up and hit the table in reaction to the little shit kicking me in the shin.

Oh, it's on.

I swung and he moved, making me hit his chair. He retaliated and caught my ankle. Kakashi sighed as we began a heated kicking match under the table. "Ouch!" Naruto yelped, and I didn't know if he was hit by either me or Sasuke. But he began kicking, too and soon enough all three of use were halfway under the table as we bruised each other's shins.

This was so beyond childish, I couldn't wipe off the grin plastered on my face.

With the arrival of more food, we eventually stopped kicking the shit out of each other and started eating, with a renewed appetite. There wasn't much talk beyond Naruto's occasional outburst towards Sasuke. They even started to compete to who could eat faster. It was all so nostalgic. From a feel of Kakashi's chakra, he felt the same.

You know what I've gleeeamed from tonight's experience? Terra asked me suddenly, sounding suspiciously pleased. I watched Naruto make a dive towards the steamed buns, looking starved. I matched him by eagerly digging into my soba, coincidentally ignoring her. She cheerfully continued. …thaaaat we can now assume from his total lack of knowledge about the subject, that Hatake Kakashi is a VIRGIN!

I choked suddenly, my soba getting lodged in my airway.

Montage Arc,

Chapter Fifty-Two: "Holster and Kunai"


A/N: Team Seven is briefly reunited and everyone got a minute in the spotlight. Sasuke is modeling for cologne commercials in my head. The boys have both ben branded as perverts. Sora has no shame. The Sex Talk happened. Kakashi suffered through every minute. I suffered immensely as well as I tried writing Ikari talking about her sperm harvesting—My god, it's not getting any better. Ugh. That was uncomfortable. Also, apologies if anyone felt out of character. That's just what The Talk does to sane people.

Lets talk chapters, huh? For starters, this Hot Springs adventure has turned into a 2-parter, so sorry about that. This has been a long time in the making, personally. I imagined Team 7 getting the Talk from Sora soooo long ago and it just feels liberating to finally have finished it! It's one item on a long checklist of things I am excited to share with you guys. I can't wait to hear your reactions for when the plot thread for Sensu Sable is revealed. Eeeep! Oh! Besides that, there was a lot of foreshadowing in this chapter, if you can believe it.

Author Question: "Who do YOU think would be the absolute person to get the sex talk from?"

Gai, hands down. Can you even imagine how many times the words YOUTH and BLOSSOMING? I'd join Kakashi up there on the mountain. Gosh.

Don't allow fear to control you, but heed the caution it brings. Please stay safe out there, loves.
Also, for you Hmmmm: I loof ewe~

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