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A Living Lie @pencyke
Break time

Hey all! Happy late new year! Let's just hop right into the story.

After the Wave mission team 7 had been given some time off. "More like forced into." Ryuto grumbled as he meditated on the surface of a river.

The remedial academy student trembled in his sandals and he fought to keep from making a sound. He was hiding out in an unused classroom at the academy. He didn't try to convince himself that he'd escaped his pursuer, instead he had his escape route. The single window through which the sun lit up the dusty room. Through it he had a straight shot toward Konoha proper where he could disappear in the crowd.

It had been quiet for a while. She couldn't have given up so easily, could she? The academy student inched toward the classroom door, careful not to make a sound. He put his ear up to the door, silence. Maybe she really had left, the academy had plenty of empty rooms just like this one. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch for anyone to lose their way among the seemingly endless rooms. He cracked open the door to check if the coast really was clear. All he saw was an empty hallway. Gaining confidence that he was right and his pursuer really had given up, he was completely surprised by what happened next.

Against his will the door flew open and without thinking he turned tail to make his escape, coming face to face with the pink haired menace. He jumped back, trying to put some space between him and his opponent, but he was clotheslined from behind and his face made a high speed impact with the hard tile classroom floor. He then slipped into unconsciousness.

Konohamaru trudged home after school, Ebisu was off that day and both Udon and Moegi were busy too. He didn't notice he was being followed, until the figure called out to him, "Hey, snot nosed brat!"

Konohamaru turned in surprise, that wasn't a voice he recognized. His surprise quickly morphed into anger when he realized how this stranger had addressed him, "Don't talk to me like I'm just some kid off the street! My grandpa's-!"

"Shut up and listen." The academy student shut his mouth instantly, there was a hard edge to the dark boy's words that bespoke of danger. He continued, "You claim to be that dobe's rival, don't you?" The kid tentatively nodded, "How would like to see exactly how powerful he really is? So you can know exactly what you're up against."

Konohamaru gulped.

Ryuto walked through the busy streets of Konoha, arms laden with research material that he'd use his week of mandatory leave exploring in great detail. Thank Kami for the library, Ryuto had long since run out of new material to *ahem* observe since the only ones learning anything beyond the most basic of jutsu had enough sense to keep a keen eye out or spies. He hadn't had many chances to make it into the ninja library since graduating so he was grateful for any chance to tap into the treasure trove of knowledge. The boy stopped himself before he drooled all over the front of his shirt.

"Hey, Ryuto!" One Ino Yamanaka called over the sound of the crowd, dragging her teammates behind her by the ear.

Ryuto blinked at the high-strung blonde for a moment before remembering his manners, "Uh, hey Ino." He nodded to Shikamaru and Choji. They were both rubbing their ears, Shikamaru with a faint look of displeasure, and Choji with a tiredness that said this was a regular occurrence. Turning his attention back toward Ino, he spoke, "I honestly didn't think you'd remember me. How long has it been? A few months?"

Ino clamped her hands together and tilted her head in a placating manner, her features twisting into a sickeningly sweet expression, "How could I forget you, Ryuto? You've always been super nice." Now she was twisting in what was no doubt an attempt to up her cute factor.

Ryuto shook his head, "I wouldn't say super nice, just your regular old stock sort of nice. I didn't think you thought about anyone if it didn't have to do with Dusty Uchiha. How's your crush on him working out for you by the way?" Ryuto, like everyone else in their class, already knew that Ino had a huge crush on Sasuke. He wondered what her game was trying to flirt with him.

Ino smile dampened a little at the reminder of how little progress she'd made in her conquest of the Uchiha's heart. This was the first time her team had run into anyone from team seven. She adopted a shy expression, averting her eyes and rubbing her arms in an approximation of nervousness, "Well, you see, the thing is…" Ryuto raised an eyebrow, "I never really liked Sasuke, I only pretended to so I could stay popular with the other girls. I was really happy when you ended up passing with the rest of us."

"Ah," Ryuto nodded in understanding, she was fishing for how he'd become a genin when he very publicly failed the test. Then he smirked, "Yeah, I was really happy when I became a genin too. It's a pretty good story, lots of nice juicy bits of info." Ino and Choji both leaned forward in anticipation, even Shikamaru couldn't hide his interest. Without warning Ryuto spun around and walked away, calling over his shoulder, "Too bad it's a secret! Maybe one day you'll find out!"

As the rest of team 10 face faulted, Ino latched onto Ryuto's back, "Ryuto, wait! I didn't tell you everything. I wanted to stay popular by pretending to like Sasuke, but the truth is that I'm in love with you, Ryuto." A lie, "That's why I was happy that you'd passed," Another one, "I even hoped that we could've been on a team together." Just another lie in a last bit effort to pump him for information, "Please, Ryuto. Won't you tell the person who loves you from the bottom of their heart?"

Ryuto stood stock still, arms heavy with books, a purple clad preteen clinging to his back.

"Ino…" The girl looked into his face, expression lifting with the lightness of hope, "I'm sorry." Only to be marred by confusion, "You're not as good of an actor as you think you are." And then distorted by anger.

"Why you…!" Ryuto substituted away before Ino could attempt to crush him in her anger. Spotting his quickly receding form, Ino pointed and ordered, "After him! No one gets away with insulting me!"

The chase was on.

Ryuto led the trio of gennin across the rooftops of Konoha, dancing around them, weaving in and out of their grasp seemingly at will. He dropped off the library books at his home after briefly losing team 10, but he went back out to lead them on some more. He couldn't help it, toying with team 10 was way more fun than reading dusty old books.

Finally landing in an empty training ground, Ryuto turned to the wheezing genin, "Wow, you guys really haven't improved at all. What have you been doing all this time?" He pointed at the trio, the setting sun at his back, "If I were an enemy, you'd all be dead."

"Fuck off Ryuto!" Ino slammed her fist into her waiting palm. She seemed to have caught her breath, "No one knows where you live or what you do in your free time, back in the academy school was the only place anyone ever saw you, no one's head of any kind of Shota family. You failed the test, and yet now you're some ridiculously over powered gennin? It doesn't make any sense! So you're gonna tell me about yourself, or we're gonna make you." She was ready for round two.

Ryuto tried to bend his legs in preparation, but found that he couldn't.

"Shadow possession complete."

Choji sat with a thump and pulled out a bag of chips to munch on as Ino sauntered up to Ryuto, smirking in triumph, "Well, well, well. Looks like we won anyway. So, do you want the easy way? Or the hard way?" Ryuto grunted as he strained against Shikamaru's jutsu.

"I can't hold him long Ino. If you're gonna do something, now's the time."

Ino shrugged, "Oh well, hard way it is. Don't worry Ryuto, I won't go digging through anything too personal. Just enough for a 'bit of dirt on ya, 'kay?" She actually had the gall to wink cutely at the disguised boy.

Choji frowned at his teammate's back, "I don't think you should do this, Ino. He's still a fellow Konoha ninja, you could get in a lot of trouble if word of this gets to the Hokage."

"This is the only chance I'll get Choji and I'm not gonna waste it! You boys just don't get it, I'm the gossip queen! What good is that title if I don't know squat about one of my former classmates? I'm doing this Choji, don't get in my way!" Ryuto struggled even harder as she began a set of hand signs unique to her families' technique.

The rotund Akamichi charged at his teammate, "I'm sorry Ino, I can't let you endanger yourself like this!" Despite his words, even moving as fast as his big boned legs could take him, there was too much distance between him and his blonde friend. He wasn't going to make it!

"Oi! What do you brats think you're doing?" A voice echoed across the clearing, stopping both Ino and Choji in their tracks.

"Sensei!" Choji called out, relief evident on his face.

"S-s-sensei?!" Ino shook in fear, hands still clasped in the second to last hand sign of her jutsu.

"Eh? Things were just getting interesting, why'd you stop?!" Ryuto crossed his arms indignantly.

"Troublesome." Shikamaru muttered as he released Ryuto from his shadow.

Asuma stepped out of the tree line, cigarette lit and hands in pockets, he was the picture of casual. He glanced at Ryuto, "You're that scarecrow Kakashi's brat." It wasn't a question. Ryuto just huffed in response. Asuma scratched his beard as he contemplated the boy, he'd been toying with his team that entire time. The little shit hadn't even been a little winded after the wild goose chase he'd led them on. It was pretty humiliating to have just one genin easily out maneuver an entire team of his peers that'd been official ninja for the same amount of time.

Ryuto yawned, "It's boring now, so Imma leave. Don't worry, I won't file a grievance." He smiled impishly, "After all, I wasn't gonna let anything happen." Then the boy disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Asuma looked at his team and sighed, "Looks like I haven't been working you brats hard enough if your classmate is that far ahead of you all." The jonin turned away from his groaning students in contemplation. What was Kakashi thinking, teaching any of his students how to make Shadow Clones?

Sakura huffed at the notebook sitting on the table in front of her, written inside it was everything she knew about Ryuto Shota before beginning her investigation. It was depressingly bare, having only his name, that he had no parents, and that he sometimes disappears in puffs of smoke. Looking at that page only reinforced the feeling that she barely knew either of her teammates. She turned to a new page and began writing the information she'd extracted from his academy friends.

1. Ryuto always disappeared after school

That was something that she hadn't initially noticed, but now that Sakura thought about it she realized that he did always disappear after their missions and training.

2. No one knows where he lives

Sakura decided that she'd have to look into that in the near future.

3. He couldn't make a decent normal clone even if it was to save his own life

While that was true, at some point Ryuto had picked up some other clone technique that he sometimes used. That made Sakura wonder though, why would someone as strong as Ryuto have trouble with a simple technique like the clone jutsu?

Sakura sighed, the amount of questions was multiplying.

Ryuto had left some clones to refine their water manipulation(hidden somewhere in the forests of Konoha) while he went to do… Something. Currently he was wandering through the city streets. The boy scratched his head in confusion, "Why did I come here?" He stood there in contemplation.

"Boss! You gotta come quick!" A little boy burst into Ryuto's field of vision.

"Konohamaru?" Noticing the hokage's grandson's frantic state, Ryuto sharpened his focus on the boy, "What happened?"

"Moegi's in danger, c'mon!" And then the kid was off, bounding across the roofs at high speed.

It took Ryuto a moment to catch up to the boy, "Wha-? What do you mean Moegi's in danger? How did that even happen?"

They were out of the village proper and crossing the terrain of a training ground when Konohamaru finally answered, "She's trapped in a cave."

"A cave?"

"Y-yeah, we were, um… Training! We were training together when it happened! Yeah, that's exactly how it happened!"

Ryuto raised an eyebrow, "You sure about that, tough guy?"

"Eh? Why wouldn't I be?"

Ryuto shrugged at his little friend's back, "Hey, I'm just saying', you seem a little more nervous than the situation calls for. Maybe you weren't really training with Moegi at all." Konohamaru's shoulders skyrocketed and Ryuto smirked, "Ha! You could'a just told me the truth, I only would'a given you a little bit of a lecture."


"Yeah, though I can see why you didn't tell your old man about it."


"Yeah man, who'd want to have to talk to the Hokage about how they got their eight-year old girlfriend trapped in a cave during your, *ahem*, alone time?"

Konohamaru was silent for a moment before bursting into laughter, "Yeah, Boss. Got it in one. I never could lie to you." He chuckled a bit more, but his mirth quickly died. He peered through some bushes, "It's just up ahead."

Ryuto nodded seriously, judging on how the cave entrance was blocked it could be difficult figuring out how to brake the little girl out of her prison. Not wanting to waste another precious moment, he raced past his guide in search of the blocked off cave, "Eh? Konohamaru, you did say it was just up ahead, right? How come there's no cav-?" The genin threw himself to the side just fast enough to dodge the shuriken flying at him, "Konohamaru take cover, we're under attack!"

Quickly scanning for any obvious enemies, Ryuto found someone unexpected, "Dusty? Why're you here? You know what? Never mind, I don't care. Just help me take care of whoever it is attacking us." Cowering beside his teammate was one Konohamaru, "Why're you still here? Get away, whoever this guy is could be after you!"

Sasuke smirked cruelly at his brown haired teammate, "Fight me, Ryuto."

Ryuto's face scrunched up, "What? No! What the hell, Dusty? Someone's trying to kill us and you choose now to try to spar? What's wrong with you?" He paused for a moment, "Don't answer that, I don't want to hear about your personal life." Turning his eyes back toward the darkening expanse of the woods Ryuto barely dodged the kunai that came at him. Looking back in the direction it had come from, Ryuto saw Sasuke lowering his outstretched hand.

"There is no attacker."

Ryuto's brown eyes drilled into Sasuke's form, "What?"

Sasuke smirked at the hard edge in the boy's voice, "You heard me."

"What about Moegi?"

Konohamaru spoke up from his hiding spot behind a tree, "I'm sorry Boss, he made me!"

This time Ryuto didn't take his eyes off of Sasuke, even as he addressed Konohamaru, "You lied to me?"

Sasuke crouched into a fighting stance, "You did your job kid, now get out of here." Konohamaru was gone in an instant. Sasuke smirked a little harder, "Now," He charged forward, "Fight me!"

Dodging all of his teammates strikes, Ryuto looked on in concern, "Look, Dusty, I don't know what this is all about but if all you wanted was a spar, you could've just asked me."

Sasuke growled as he willed his body to move faster, pushing chakra into his limbs just like he'd learned back in wave, "I don't want a spar where you hold yourself back just to make me feel good, I want you to fight me with your full power! Stop holding back Ryuto!"

Ryuto frowned, still dodging, "You still didn't answer my question, Dusty. Until you do I refuse to even consider fighting you at my full capacity."

Throwing a kunai to distract his opponent, Sasuke fired off a quick fire jutsu, "If you won't do it on your own, I'll just make you!"

Ryuto screamed out in pain, "Agh! It burns! Why, Dusty?! Why would you subject me to such torture?" Sasuke frowned, Ryuto couldn't've gotten caught in that simple maneuver, could he? Ryuto's screams continued as the fire dissipated, "Why would you even think to use such a two bit trick on meeeee?! It's so simple it huuuuuurts!" Sasuke grit his teeth so hard they creaked. Ryuto was completely unscathed.

Ryuto pointed at Sasuke, the setting sun at his back, "If you're gonna talk big, make sure you can back it up."

A Ryuto clone poked it's head out of a bush to the side, "I give it an eight and a half out of ten as far as cool poses go, If it were original you'd get a nine!" It dispersed before the original could direct punishment it's way.

"Heh, cheeky clone." Ryuto returned to seriousness in an instant. He didn't know what Sasuke's problem was, but he had to make sure the Uchiha got this out of his system now. Who knows what would happen if he didn't. He didn't need for his friend to be imprisoned.

Watch out for rabid Sasukes on your walk home tonight, I heard they can be lethal sometimes.

As always, please review. I don't care if it's with an account or as an anonymous reader, it's just nice to get some feedback.

Goodnight peoples.

1. Chapter 1 3061 0 0 2. The second chapter 2732 0 0 3. Third time's the charm! 2789 0 0 4. Four Man Team! 2365 0 0 5. Five on One 2229 0 0 6. Six Eyes Watching Me 2654 0 0 7. (Un)Lucky Team Seven 2637 0 0 8. Ate the Dust 3084 0 0 9. Nine Tales 2692 0 0 10. Pending Ignition…10…9… 2800 0 0 11. Cranked up to Eleven 3131 0 0 12. Twelve Tolls of Death's Bell 1761 0 0 13. Baker's Dozen 1970 0 0 14. Break time 3032 0 0 15. Tantrums Work! 2291 0 0 16. Oh boy, FLASHBACKS! 1110 0 0 17. Smoke signals 2153 0 0 18. Great Acting 2812 0 0 19. Days Spent Well 4242 0 0 20. The First Bout 2116 0 0 21. Sasuke vs Kiba 1170 0 0 22. Sakura vs Tenten 1579 0 0 23. The Rest of the Prelims 3112 0 0 24. Emergency Therapy Session! 3230 0 0 25. A Real Bad Time 3083 0 0 26. True to Form 2871 0 0 27. Impact 2434 0 0 28. Aftermath 2859 0 0 29. Day 1 2520 0 0 30. Memory Lane 2884 0 0 31. Midnight Stakeout 3346 0 0 32. Tournament Part 1 3358 0 0 33. Tournament Part 2 2864 0 0 34. Tournament Part 3 2300 0 0