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Shattered (alone), but whole (together).

Chapter Text

A ninja lives to serve their village. They do what must be done, carry out their orders, and always finish the mission. In an age where war and conflicts are what society was built upon, there was a never-ending need for shinobi. Conflicts arose no matter the era, and tragedy always found its way to nearly every village.

The nine tails attack, the Uchiha massacre, both were quick but devastating tragedies. But others, they were more lengthy. Like a slow poison, they struck the shinobi world over time. Things like the shinobi wars, or the gradual extermination of the Vaswani clan.

The Vaswani was unlike other clans in the Leaf village or any village for that matter. Their clan's origins can be traced back to nations far away from Shinobi reach. But they found their way in and settled in the leaf village after it was founded by the first Hokage, Hashirama Senju. However, they were feared for their power. They had control over chakra that surpassed every other clan. Their members always performed the best jutsu and the most believable genjutsu. Their medical Ninja’s performance was showing great promise, but the clan didn’t last long enough to prove their worth in that field. The clan stayed true to their origins, teaching their young their native tongue and literature, but this just made them look like outsiders. They were hunted down to extinction, gradually, of course. If word got out that a Vaswani ninja was on a mission, then hunters would do whatever it took to take the ninja down. Over the years, many of the clan’s strongest fell to these hunters. The leaf was no longer safe for them, as its security was being compromised by assassins targeting the Vaswani.

Those who fled the village were picked off like worms to a bird. Those who stayed fell to death’s grasp as well, and five years after the Ninetails attack, a planned assassination wiped out the remaining Vaswani.

All, but one. Satya Vaswani, the sole surviving member of the Vaswani clan. She was five when her clan was ripped from her, her heritage slipped through her fingers, and her loved ones drifted off without her.

It was sheer luck that she lived. She had fallen asleep in a hiding spot in her house. The screams of her family were what woke her, and she came down to a horrible sight. She had no one to pin the blame on. The leaf never found the assassins. They knew it was more than one because no one person could infiltrate the leaf and perform such swift and clean Assassinations back to back and escape in time.

But she did not grow to swear vengeance, she swore protection. She swore not to let a single person close to her die again. She wanted to make sure that the village was protected, that all those she cared about were protected. She would never feel the pain of loss again, not on her life.

Three years after the Vaswani extermination, the Uchiha massacre took place. One child was sparred, and he became one of two Uchiha left alive.

The nine tails attack, the Vaswani extermination, and the Uchiha massacre. Three tragedies. Three children left behind, forever impacted by these events. One swore to lead the village to new heights. Another swore to protect all those she cared for, and one swore vengeance on the Uchiha’s killer.

 

It was really fated for their paths to intertwine. But would they be friends, or foes? Or maybe both? Perhaps it was more, and perhaps it was also less.

Three children, three scarred children without families, each with their own motives and goals.

 

How it all unfolded, well that's quite a tale.

 

Quite a tale indeed.

Chapter Text

Satya sat at wherever she felt like it. The academy housed many friend circles, and she was simultaneously in all of them and in none of them at the same time. She was comfortable with basically anyone, but she never really got close with any of her fellow students either. She was more focused on trying to keep the lights on in her house. Ever since her family died, she had to pull the weight. The house and land were passed on to her, but she was just five at the time. She doubted anyone else could understand what that was like. Well, maybe Naruto could. He was an orphan after all. She wasn’t too sure about Sasuke’s situation, but she knew he inherited his family's house as well.

Really, it was a miracle she managed to juggle making money, handling her house, coming to the academy, studying and training. Satya wondered if this was why Naruto was doing so poorly in the academy, as he probably had the same struggles and was just not able to keep up with it like Satya was.

Satya frowned as she glanced to her right, catching glimpses of the boy in question. She had always intended to be more friendly to him. She was never rude to him, and only showed kindness when they spoke, but that wasn’t all too often. She simply could not find the time when she was laser-focused on her studies. She had zero time after Academy hours, and during academy hours, she made sure to learn as much as possible, mostly to shorten her homework, as she was pressed for time.

Satya grew to be an admittedly beautiful young girl. She had light brown, almond skin, emerald eyes, and black hair. Her hair was smooth, and a nice black that went well with her eyes. Her two favourite colours were green and blue, and they were always present in her outfit on some level. Her greens were always emerald, and her blues were always a light, calm blue like the sky. She was probably a contender for Ino as the boys favourite student, for obvious reasons.

But she stood out from all the kunoichi. No one else had her almond skin or her emerald eyes. She was definitely a rarity. She was unique, almost like a foreigner in that no one in the leaf looked like her. Well, no one alive anyway.

Satya watched as Naruto got scolded, for what exactly, she wasn’t really sure. Then, Iruka sensei said that because Naruto was late, everyone had to review the transformation jutsu. Everyone groaned in response, and almost all of them shot glares at Naruto was we lined up.

“Of all the things we have to review,” Satya said in her head. She found the basic jutsu to be very boring. She was well beyond this level, and she knew Sasuke was as well. In fact, nearly everybody could do it, so she really didn’t understand why they had to do it now.

“Satya, you're up first,” Iruka sensei said.

“Yes Sensei,” Satya said respectfully with a smile. Not a condescending smile, just a friendly smile. Iruka Sensei was really nice, and she valued his teaching, so she had no reason to ever act out of line. Besides, She needed as many friendly faces as she could get, considering she didn’t have access to those at home.

Satya stepped up in front, put her hands to a seal, and cast the jutsu. Her chakra molded her appearance and body, and a puff of smoke was released. When the smoke cleared, she looked like an exact replica of Iruka sensei. To be considered a passing transformation, you only had to get your transformation to look generally what the object you were impersonating looked like. But Satya’s transformation got every single detail. While other students might get the shade of green off, or Iruka sensei’s scar length wrong, she made no error.

“Perfect Satya” Iruka praised. Sasuke performed with as much skill as her, and Naruto was up next.

The other students scolded him for being the reason we all had to do this, but he paid them no mind. Satya didn’t care much, but she sure as hell started to care when Naruto transformed into a Naked lady.

Iruka Sensei was shocked for a good moment and was clearly trying to hold back arousal.

The boys all laughed, and the girls all groaned. Satya spoke up, trying to diffuse the situation.

“I mean, It IS a good transformation,” Satya said shakily with a laugh as she tilted her head sideways and smiled. The whole class laughed a little, while Iruka sensei only got more mad.

Class wasn’t very eventful after that, and Satya was eager to get home. Tomorrow was the graduation exam. Those that passed got to become a leaf ninja. Satya’s parents were leaf ninja, but she didn’t really remember them going on many missions. Although, she doubted they would ever tell her when they left for a mission vs when they left for “An important outing”.

Satya was very talented, and she was aware of her skills. She wasn’t cocky about it, but she knew the facts. Satya could already use water style, and could even perform water style jutsu without any water nearby. She also was very skilled in genjutsu for her age, and she even started dabbling in medical jutsu. Of course, she was a novice in the medical field, but most shinobi couldn't start studying to be a medical ninja until becoming a chunin. Satya basically homeschooled herself, as the academy didn’t really teach her water style, genjutsu (at least not at her level), and they most certainly did not teach her medical ninjutsu.

Satya often went to the library to buy books and read on jutsu and such, and it very much paid off.

But she did have a weakness.

Taijutsu, or hand to hand combat. Satya just did not like taijutsu. The academy taught basic fighting skills that could be molded into different styles. Satya excelled in everything, even in shuriken and kunai throwing, but she just was no good at taijutsu or close quarters combat.

That was what held her back from graduating early. She trained hard at the academy, and she hoped that she trained enough to bring her taijutsu up to the academy's standards.

She didn’t even have to take the jutsu part of the exam as it was clear she would far exceed the academies standards anyways. All she had to do was spar with Iruka sensei. If she could just perform well enough, then she’d pass.

She just prayed she could pass, and finally become a ninja. Tomorrow would hopefully mark the start of her journey to protect all those she cared for.

 

 

Hopefully.

 

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“HIYAAA” Satya grunted as she performed a spinning roundhouse kick. Iruka sensei dodged by squatting under the kick, and swept Satya off her feet with his hand. Satya rolled off her fall and shot out a kick from a getup position, pushing Iruka back.

She slid forward and kicked the inside of his knee, forcing him to bend sideways.

Satya practiced what she was taught, and she was taught to be a ruthless fighter. The academy always drilled home the point to hit a targets weak points. Eyes, throat…..groin. She was going for the win, and this exam had only one rule, try your hardest.

So without even thinking, Satya used her other leg and kicked Iruka sensei right in the groin. Iruka obviously didn’t expect this, as he was holding back, and most academy students didn’t really intend to hit him in such places.

But Iruka did say to go all out, so Satya was simply following orders. Iruka sensei bent down, clutching his private zone, and Satya stood up and punched him square in the face him in the face.

Iruka stumbled backwards, and Satya took the opportunity to regain her composure. She was tired, REALLY tied. Up until this point, she had yet to land a hit on Iruka, and he was running her stamina thin.

She hoped the exam ended soon because she didn’t know how much longer she could continue.

 

“Enough” Mizuki sensei said, and when Satya turned to see him, she saw him with the biggest smile she’s seen in a long time,clearly trying to hide some laughter.

“You pass,” Mizuki sensei said.

“Maybe Iruka is the one who needs the training!” Mizuki said with a laugh.

“Oh shut it Mizuki!: Iruka said.

 

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Satya saw her name on the board outside later that day, and that meant one thing, she passed. Everyone gathered around the board and chatted, but Satya made her way out of the crowd. Everyone was talking about the exams, everyone, but three students. Naruto sat on a swing away from the crowd, looking longingly at it.

“Oh,” Satya said in her mind. “I guess he didn’t pass. Poor Naruto”

Sasuke was heading home, seemingly disinterested. Satya looked at Sasuke, feeling sympathy for him. He was obviously plagued with sadness, just like she was. They both lost everything they held dear. Hers happened before his, but his happened worse than hers. She understood him, more than any other would.

She knew what it felt like to have it all ripped from away from you. To have everything and then nothing. To have that feeling of security squashed in an instance. To have your world come crashing down and what once made sense now made no sense and everything seemed warped and so…….so wrong.

She always wanted to talk more to these two. Naruto and Sasuke, the only other two kids who knew what real sadness was. Maybe she would, now that she was technically a ninja she no longer had to work a job, as being a ninja WAS her job.

 

Maybe she’d help Naruto pass because she knew it would mean the world to him.

 

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Satya was up for far longer then she should be, but that was every night for her. She had her nose deep in a book about medical ninjutsu. She was finishing up a section dedicated to chakra and how to speed up a person's natural ability to refill their chakra reserves without draining their stamina. It was a tricky concept, and she was a novice at it, but she was getting more and more knowledge on it.

 

But this was when she heard whispers, whispers of a breach in security. Ninja scurried from building to building in a way that couldn’t just be for patrol.

 

“Hey, you” She heard, and she turned her head from the bench she was sitting on. The moon shone brilliantly, and the night sky was clear as day.

 

“You need to get inside, Hokage's orders,” A ninja said, chunin from the looks of his vest.

“Is something wrong?” Satya asked quizzically.

“You shouldn’t be concerned with that, just know that the Hokage wants you to be indoors, now go!”

Satya didn’t have to be told twice.

“I wonder what’s going on?” Satya mused as she hurried home.

Was it something bad, like a security breach? Was this how her parent's assassination started? With a security breach? Was another little girls world about to be shattered? Satya shook her head. She knew it was just fabrication on her part, but still.

Satya fell asleep with a Kunai in her hand that night.

 

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The days leading up to full graduation flew by. No student who passed the exam had to show up to the academy until graduation, which was a week after the exam. Satya used this time for three things. Learn more about medical ninjutsu, train with said knowledge, and hang out with Ino. The first two were standard, the third, not so much. Satya and Ino were friends in the academy but didn’t really talk afterwards. They wanted to, but Satya was just to busy trying to make enough money to keep her house going.

 

The two hung out and talked about everything and nothing, and Satya was glad she could do this.

 

“I can’t believe we're gonna be ninja!” Ino said as she finished her meal. They went for lunch at a popular fast food restaurant.

 

“Well, we have our headbands in case you start thinking this is all a dream,” Satya said with a laugh.

 

“And stylish ones to boot. I'm gonna put mine around my waist, what about you?” Ino asked

“I think I’m gonna hang mine from my neck,” Satya said thoughtfully.

“Ooh, that's good!” Ino exclaimed. “Hey, just make sure you don’t outdo me, I gotta impress Sasuke!”

 

Satya laughed at this. “I don’t think Sasuke’s interested, no offence of course”

“Well, then I’ll make him interested” Ino huffed.

“I think he’s got...other things on his mind,” Satya said a little darkly. She really did feel bad for him. She was once caught in a slump of depression. Truth be told, she was still in it. Pain like that doesn’t just go away. She never learned to make it stop, she just learned to ignore it, to work through it. Satya always buried herself with work to drown out her sadness, and that worked for her.

 

“Hey, are you okay? Your spacing out” Ino said quizzically.

“Oh, sorry about that!” Satya said hurriedly with a laugh.

 

“If your so sorry, then try to make yourself look worse. You're my only competition!”

The pair laughed at that.

Satya was glad she could do this. Maybe she’d be able to train with Ino now.

 

Perhaps this was the start of a new era in her life.

 

Satya couldn’t say she minded it.

 

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Graduation day was interesting. For one, Naruto was there, which was a shocker. Satya walked in with Ino, and while Ino sat above Sasuke, Satya made her way over to Naruto.

Satya sat down right next to him, which made Ino a little confused.

Naruto seemed even more confused and was clearly not used to someone voluntarily sitting next to him.

 

“Huh? O-oh hey Satya….What’s up?”

“Graduation day, what else?” Satya said with a chuckle.

“I’m surprised you're here Naruto, this must mean you passed the exam right?” Satya said sweetly.

 

“Damn right I did! You're looking at the number one academy graduate!” Naruto exclaimed.

 

“Oh really, then you won’t mind showing me your final grade?” Satya asked.

 

“I..uhh… left it at home!” Naruto said in a panic.

Satya chuckled and played with her headband a little. Satya wore an emerald green outfit. She wore emerald elbow high gloves and emerald stockings. She had a sort of form-fitting Emerald robe that exposed her legs, but a middle piece ran down to cover her crotch and ended right above the ground. Her breasts were covered as well by an Emerald shirt but exposed her neck and upper chest. Blue accents could be found on the outfit as well, and She even had an Emerald green hood that her black hair currently flowed into.

Strapped to her legs were kunai and senbon pouches, and her waist carried shuriken. They were blended seamlessly into the outfit, and the flowing frontal cloth helped conceal it. The tail end of her robe on her backside lightly touched the ground, dangling from the hip concealing more ninja weapons.

The outfit would be perfect for hiding in greenery like trees and shrubs, and she liked how it didn’t restrict her movements at all.

 

A few minutes passed and things started to get…...really interesting. The girls swooned over Sasuke, and Naruto got jealous. Naruto hopped on Sasuke’s desk and glared at him closely. But someone bumped his back and he ended up leaning right into Sasuke and……..kissed him?

 

The two started spitting violently, and the girls were stunned while the boys were having a field day with it.

Satya couldn’t help but laugh. Naruto turned around to see a mob of angry girls, but Iruka sensei had absolutely perfect timing and showed up right before Naruto got ganged up on.

 

“Alright everyone, sorry for the wait. As you all know, this is the day that you all become ninja. More specifically, Genin, or the lowest ranking ninja. You will face great hardship, and now is the time for you all to be grouped. Each genin will be put into a three-man team, led by one jounin, an elite ninja.”

Murmurs broke out, and Satya swore she could hear Ino exclaim something about Sasuke.

Naruto seemed intrigued by the grouping system, but Sasuke seemed displeased.

“Hmph, a team will only slow me down,” Sasuke said in his head.

Iruka sensei started listing off names, and Satya began to speculate who exactly she’d be teamed with.

“Alright, and now for team 7. Team 7 will be made up of…..Naruto Uzumaki”

Naruto’s head perked up.

“Satya Vaswani”

“He didn’t even say it right, and after so many years of being in this class too,” Satya thought defeatedly. Was saying her name really so hard!? She understood it was in a foreign language but come on.

“And Sasuke Uchiha”

Sasuke just scoffed.

 

“Oh god, Ino’s going to kill me,” Satya thought.

 

Ino ended up being with Shikamaru and chouji and she looked less than pleased. Satya mouthed “Sorry” to her and gave her an apologetic look.

When the teams were all made, Naruto decided now was a perfect time to complain.

 

“Iruka sensei, why does a great ninja like me have to be with a slug like Sasuke!”

“Hey, I like slugs!” Satya said in her head.

“Naruto, Sasuke has the best overall average in the class, tied only with Satya. You, on the other hand, have the lowest. We decided to put the two best students with the worst to balance it out.” Iruka sensei said scoldingly.

The class laughed at this.

 

“Just don’t slow me down loser,” Sasuke said in a monotone voice,

‘What did you say!” Naruto exclaimed.

“What do you not have ears or something?" Sasuke said, and Naruto looked like he was going to boil over.

Satya, who was sitting between these two, decided to not let a fight break out on their first day as team members.

“Well I for one just want to be in a team that ensures my safety, so let's make that a mutual thing and TRY to work together. Pretty please?” Satya added with a mock please face, and the class laughed again. Naruto’s anger seemed to die down, and Sasuke seemed mildly amused, so that was a mission accomplished

 

“Ahem. After Lunch, you’ll meet your new teachers. Until then, class dismissed” Iruka sensei said.

 

Everyone went off for lunch, and Satya had a plan. Maybe it wasn’t a good one, but she had to try.

Because lord knows she’s not gonna be able to learn anything if those two don’t get along.

Chapter Text

Satya had to fight back the urge to go hang out with Ino or to lose herself in her books. She left off right at a really critical part of the chapter, and she burned to finish it. But Satya knew this lunch break was more to familiarize the three-man teams.

Satya had hoped to have lunch as a group, but Sasuke all but disappeared. She went to find him first, mostly because out of the two boys, she assumed that Sasuke was the harder one to track. Her theory was proven correct with every passing second.

Satya waved her hair out of her hood and sighed.

“I expected him to leave, but I didn’t think he’d do it so quickly. Where on earth could he be?” Satya said exasperatedly

Just then, Satya heard a very distinct voice behind her. “Hey, Satya! Since we’re in the same group and all I thought we could have lunch together” Naruto said with his hand behind head.

Satya was glad Naruto was here. At least she didn’t have to hunt down both of her teamates “I was thinking the same thing” Satya replied, and Naruto seemed happy that she actually said yes. “I guess not many people are willing to hang out with him,” Satya thought.

 

“Really? That’s great!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Well, we still need to find Sasuke” Satya commented with a slight annoyance.

 

“Wha-? Sasuke? Why would you wanna find him?” Naruto said with a little disdain plastered on his face.

“Well, he IS our third team member” Satya reminded.

“Well, the other teams can have him! We don’t need him” Naruto exclaimed passionately.

“Well, I’d much rather keep him as a team member then give him away thank you very much” Satya stated.

“What, why? Don't Tell me you like him too” Naruto whined.

“You know what I like?”

 

“What?”

“A working team with all three members, so let’s go,” Satya said with a sense of finality that forced Naruto to come, albeit with some complaints and grumbling.

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The pair found Sasuke sitting alone on a bench in a park surrounded by trees. The leaves and greenery seemed to all but hide the park from onlookers, which made sense considering it was in the Village hidden in the leaves.

Sasuke turned to found his new teammates. His eyes initially landed on Satya, and he seemed to study her for a quick moment. It was well hidden behind his stoic face, but his eyes were calculating.

She raised an eyebrow to him as they got closer, and Sasuke’s eyes moved to Naruto. The second they landed on the blond, they did an obvious roll that was clearly meant for Naruto to notice.

Satya could literally FEEL Naruto get worked up, and she subtly slapped him on the leg to make him regain his focus.

“Hey Sasuke, I see you’ve already started eating” Satya commented. She had no idea how to approach the Uchiha, but she decided that she would try and be normal, something no other girl ever was around him.

“Yeah, What about it?” Sasuke said annoyingly.

“I gave up books for this!?” Satya thought defeatedly.
“What do you mean ‘what about it’?! We spent twenty minutes looking for you so we could eat together, you know, like a TEAM!” Naruto exclaimed, and Satya found it hilarious that Naruto was lecturing Sasuke about being a team.

“Tch, that’s your problem, not mine,” Sasuke said as he took a bite from his rice ball.

“What did you say!” Naruto said loudly.

“God it seems your stupid and deaf. Clean your ears dobe, I said it was your problem, not mine” Sasuke said, and Satya’s left eye twitched oh so subtly.

Satya knew Naruto would go off, she could FEEL it in her bones. It was really quite a sad feeling, to know what’s coming and be totally unequipped to stop it.

“Oh that’s it, I’m gonna knock some sense into you!” Naruto exclaimed as he brought his hands to make a seal.

“What kind of seal is that?” Satya thought quickly, but her question was answered mere seconds later.

“Shadow Clone Jutsu” Naruto exclaimed, and 8 clones popped into existence from smoke.

Both Satya and Sasuke looked shocked, and Naruto looked very smug.

“HA! Know you’ll see, I'm the strongest there is!” all 9 Naruto’s said in unison before jumping at Sasuke.

Sasuke ducked and dodged under the initial attacks, before quickly grabbing a clone. He swept him from under his feet and threw him into the others, dispelling five of them.

Two more clones attacked him, one on his right and one on his left. Sasuke jumped up and let them run into each other, and one more clone leapt up to hit Sasuke, but Sasuke kicked him into the ground.

 

As Sasuke landed, the real Naruto positioned himself to be behind him and was about to land a punch as Sasuke turned around.

Satya decided that now was a good time to intervene, and grabbed Sasuke, quickly pulling him out of the way at the last second.

Naruto’s punch missed, and the momentum sent him flying towards Satya, who sidestepped him, causing him to hit the ground.

Sasuke smirked at this, and Naruto looked livid.

“Hey, what the hell was that for!” Naruto yelled.

“I said to eat lunch with Sasuke, not attack him,” Satya said scoldingly

“He started it” Naruto defended.

“Pretty sure I saw you throw the first punch” Satya commented.

“Well, he was being rude”

“And you were being childish,” Sasuke said.

“What did yo-”

“choup Carr!! (Be quiet!)” Satya said in her native language. She had one hand on her hip and another extended towards Naruto in the stop sign. She hadn’t meant to say it, at least not in anything other than English. But it was her first extinct, and it came to her naturally. When she had a strong emotion, she acted on instinct, and she resorted to whatever came to her head, like nearly every other person on the planet. She was taught English as a second language, and all though it was definitely her first language now, her native language seemed to be her automatic response when she wasn’t thinking.

 

Satya was almost as surprised as Naruto and Sasuke. She hadn’t spoken anything out loud that wasn’t English in at minimum 10 years. Sure it was just two words but still.

“Dang, I’ll have to change that” Satya mentally scolded.

Naruto and Sasuke just looked confused, and silence followed.

“Out of all the things to try, that’s what makes you two stop?” Satya said sarcastically, and Sasuke smirked a little, while Naruto laughed.

Neither really knew what happened, but the joke cut the tension at the perfect moment.

“Tch. So I guess you're not gonna leave me alone?” Sasuke asked more as a statement of fact than a question.

“Not likely,” Satya said as she sat down next to Sasuke on the bench. Naruto followed, and soon Satya was sandwiched between them.

Satya and Naruto talked while Sasuke stayed silent. Satya tried to get him involved, but all of her attempts yielded some form of a grunt and a stoic face.

“Can’t something just be easy for once?” Satya said mentally.

“Just once, please?”

 

 

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After the lunch, the trio waited for their new sensei at the academy. The only problem was that he was late, by 2 hours.

 

“Ughhhhh, when is he gonna get here!” Naruto said, clearly frustrated.

Satya sat cross-legged on a chair. She perked up from her book to look at Naruto.

 

“Patience is a virtue” Satya stated simply. She noticed that Sasuke was staring at her, looking between her and her book. Was he interested in medical ninjutsu as well? Satya couldn’t picture Sasuke as a medical ninja, so that couldn’t be it.

She had tried to strike up a conversation, but Naruto was too angry and Sasuke just would. Not. talk!

“That's it, I’ve had it!” Naruto exclaimed, and set up a simple trap. When their Sensei slid the door open, an Eraser was set to fall on his head.

“What are you doing, dobe,” Sasuke said.

 

“Just wait, you’ll see! This is gonna be amazing” Naruto said, giddy with anticipation.

 

Sure enough, the door slid open, and an eraser fell on their Sensei’s head.

Naruto started laughing hysterically, while Sasuke just stared. Satya only buried her face deeper into her book, but keep an eye trained on the jounin.

 

“Hmm, how do I say this. My first impressions of you guys are….you’re all idiots”

Satya couldn’t lie. She was interested to see how this wouodball play out. Probably not very well, but, such is life.

 

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The four of them made their way to the roof of the building, and their sensei began speaking as they sat.

“So, now that we’re all here, why don’t you all introduce yourselves?” the jounin said.

“Introduce ourselves? What are we supposed to say?” Naruto asked

“Things you like, things you hate, dreams for the future, that kind of thing”

“Well why don’t you go first so we can see how it works” Naruto continued

 

“Me? Well, I’m Kakashi Hatake, my likes and dislikes, well, I don’t really feel like telling you that. As for my dreams for the future, I never really thought about it” Kakashi finished.

 

“Well, that was useless. All we got was his name” Satya thought. She was going to whisper it, but this guy was a jounin so he’d hear her clear as day.

Naruto went first, talking endlessly about ramen and wanting to be the Hokage. Satya didn’t listen to him, as she was busy studying Kakashi.

But what Sasuke said was kind of hard to ignore.

 

“My name is Sasuke Uchiha. I don't particularly like anything, and I hate a lot of things. What I have is not a dream, because I will make it a reality. I’m going to restore my clan and kill a certain someone.”

 

“Alright, so I suppose depression mode is in full effect then,” Satya said in her head. Satya understood, more than anyone would, how he felt. But Jesus was he ever depressed. She was sad too, she had demons to face, She knew loss and pain and agony. Maybe she was taking it better than him, and that hurt. She didn’t want others to face and she faced, to feel what she felt, and Sasuke was just that, another version of her, of her pain. She could not help herself, but maybe, just maybe, she could help Sasuke. Maybe she could help both Sasuke and Naruto. Easier said than done of course, but she’d try.

 

She spoke last and didn’t want to take too much time.

“My name is Satya Vaswani” She made sure to pronounce it correctly. “I like to read and hone my skills. I hate those who would do harm to others unjustly, and as for my dreams…….well, I guess want to be strong enough to protect the village.”

“Good, now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to tell you that we have our first mission tomorrow,” Kakashi said.

 

“Oh, what kind of mission is it sensei,” Naruto asked.

“It’s a survival exercise” Kakashi stated simply.

 

“Say whaaaaaa? But we already did this stuff at the academy!” Naruto complained

 

“This Exercise is a little different” Kakashi said with a glint in his eye that rubbed Satya the wrong way.

It must have caught Sasuke’s attention too because he actually voluntarily spoke up.

“How so”

 

“Well, this mission is really a make it or break it exam. Only 9 of the graduates will actually become genin, and that all depends on who passes this mission, In other words, I choose if you guys become genin based on how you do tomorrow” Kakashi said.

“WHAT, then what was the academy exam for!” Naruto yelled.

 

“That was just to select candidates for who MIGHT become genin” Kakashi stated simply.

 

“I would have liked to know that earlier” Satya stated dryly.

 

“Well, a shinobi must be able to react accordingly when new information comes to light. Be at the training grounds at 5 am tomorrow, and make sure to bring your ninja tools. Oh, and one last thing. Try not to eat breakfast in the morning”

 

“Otherwise, you'll puke”

 

---------------------------------------

 

Satya did as she was told and disregarded breakfast. It was hard, but she supposed she would have to get used to the idea of going out early while starving. She arrived at the training grounds at exactly 5 am. Both Sasuke and Naruto came at roughly the same time as well. Satya wasn’t surprised that Sasuke came on time, but Naruto? She hadn’t expected him to get up so early.

The sky was still more dark then blue, and the trio waited patiently. Naruto was too tired to really strike up a conversation, Satya was busy reviewing the basic shinobi rules in her head, and Sasuke was just being Sasuke, which meant not saying anything at all with a stoic face.

 

Three whole hours went by before Kakashi arrived, and Naruto made his anger very well known.

 

“YOUR LATE!” Naruto yelled.

“Sorry about that, but a black cat was crossing the road, so I had to take a different route,” Kakashi said, and Satya rolled her eyes.

 

“Well, I suppose now we can begin,” Kakashi said lamely.

 

“Your assignment is very simple, all you have to do is” Kakashi pulled out two small bells attached to a thread “Take these bells from me”

“If you can’t get them by noon, you’ll be tied to those posts over there” Kakashi jerked a thumb to the three posts in question.

 

”You’ll also have no lunch and be forced to watch me eat my lunch”

Naruto made a mortified face, and Satya’s eyes thinned a little

“Ahh, so that’s why he had us not eat breakfast” Satya mused. Just then, a confusing fact presented itself in Satya’s mind.

“Hold on, there’s three of us, and only two bells. Why is that?” She asked.

“Well, that way at least one of you will be tied up and sent back to the academy. Of course, all three of you could end up failing as well. You may use any weapons and techniques you know, whether it be shuriken, kunai, explosive tags, ninjutsu, genjutsu or whatever. Nothing is off limits”

 

“Wouldn’t you say that’s a little dangerous?” Satya was worried that if they could use these tools, so could Kakashi. That would be dangerous, as she knew none of them could hold a candle to the jounin before them.

“Yea, especially since you couldn’t even dodge that eraser yesterday!” Naruto said with a laugh.

“Class clowns only work in a class, not in shinobi missions. Try not to make yourself look like a loser” Kakashi said harshly.

Naruto looked livid at that.

 

“When I say start, you may begin,” Kakashi said, but Naruto had other plans. He did not like being called a loser, not when he worked so hard to graduate. He’d show Kakashi, he’d show them all.

Naruto grabbed a kunai and charged at Kakashi. Satya and Sasuke seemed surprised, but before they could even begin to think of doing anything, Kakashi vanished before reappearing behind Naruto. He had Naruto’s hand behind his head, still clutching a kunai that was being pointed right at the back of Naruto’s neck.

 

“Don’t be in such a hurry, I didn’t even say start yet” Kakashi said scoldingly.

 

“He’s fast. I couldn’t even see him move. Taijutsu won’t work, and by extension, any form of close quarters combat, armed or otherwise” Satya mused.

“I doubt any Ninjutsu I have will be fast enough to hit, so my only option is genjutsu. But he might just be a genjutsu type, which would be trouble. If that’s the case, nothing I have will be able to do much of anything” Satya thought.

 

“So this is the power of a jounin” Sasuke thought. “Tch. This might get rough, but I refuse to lose”

 

“Although, you came at me with full killer intent, and I like that. Hmmm, I’m actually beginning to like you guys” Kakashi said with a smirk.

“Now get ready….annndddd..START!”

 

---------------------------------------

 

 

 

Sasuke hid in the trees, while Satya laid on her stomach in the bushes. They each knew where each other was, and they made eye contact a few times. Sasuke gave her a look that said “Don’t get in my way” and Satya replied with a look that said “seriously?”

 

Naruto, of course, challenged Kakashi to a one on one. A stupid move, but it would at least show Satya what she was up against.

Kakashi pulled out…..a book? Satya was puzzled, but she quickly became stunned as Kakashi effortlessly dodged all of Naruto’s punches while reading.

“Basic Shinobi battle tactics number one: Taijutsu,” Kakashi said, and with one open palm, he pushed Naruto. Naruto was sent flying through the air and hit a tree with a big THWACK!

“Owwwwwwwww” Naruto whined.

“You know, you’d do a lot better if you were more like your other squad members and went with the stealth approach.” Kakashi scolded as he flipped a page.

 

“Oh shut it! I’m not done yet!” Naruto charged forward, and Kakashi simply grabbed his arm and threw him into the river.

Water forcefully entered Naruto’s nose, and it burned. Sasuke looked unimpressed, and Satya was trying to figure out how the hell she was going to do this.

 

However, It seemed Naruto had a plan, as 7 Naruto Shadow clones burst out of the river.

“Don’t underestimate me!” All 8 Naruto’s exclaimed as the clones circled him.

“Hmmm,” Kakashi said, not looking away from his book.

Suddenly, a clone grabbed Kakashi and locked him in a bear hug.

“What?” Kakashi said.

“Ha! I had a clone sneak around while the rest distracted you! Now for some payback!” Naruto exclaimed as he surged forward ready to punch.

“Amazing!” Satya thought. She didn’t expect Naruto to pull this off, but she decided she might as well capitalize on this. She readied a hand seal, and stayed alert, waiting for the perfect moment to activate the body flicker jutsu. The body flicker jutsu was invaluable as it sped up a user’s movement to insane degrees. Of course, it was extremely hard to see while doing it, and very hard to control and slow down, but the payoff was worth it.

Naruto readied his punch and punched.......... himself? WHAT!?

A Naruto clone was put in place of Kakashi, and Satya didn’t even notice.

All the Naruto’s began trying to distinguish who was Kakashi, and when Naruto undid the Jutsu, Kakashi was nowhere to be found.

“A substitution and body replacement jutsu at the same time! And it was done so seamlessly, I didn’t even notice!” Satya was realising just how large the gap in skill was.

Suddenly, Naruto sprang a trap that sent him dangling from a tree, foot caught in some rope.

“Woah woaah whoooaaaa”

Kakashi appeared and began to reprimand Naruto, saying how a shinobi should be more alert.

“His guard is lowered, now's the time!’ Satya thought.

“Wait, I can’t get a shot without standing up or at least sitting, and I can’t move without making noise. Damn” Satya cursed her luck.

Sasuke had no such problem and launched a shuriken attack. The shuriken soared in the air and hit Kakashi with a sharp whoosh.

Satya’s eyes widened, and they continued to do so when Kakashi turned into a log with a puff of smoke.

“Another substitution. So he was still on guard, he was just trying to lure us into attacking!”

Sasuke sprang into action, retreating deep into the forest, trying to move locations as to not be caught.

 

“Damn it, I fell for it. He read me like a book. I need to retreat and form a plan, maybe set up some traps” Sasuke thought. He hopped from tree to tree, going at full speed and hoping to god Kakashi wasn’t on his trail.

 

“I guess operation genjutsu it is,” Satya thought as she sat up.

Just then, she heard the whistling of leaves. She turned to see a swarm of leaves slowly drift towards her. They spiraled into the air before circling around her. It was entrancing, and she was mesmerized.

 

The leaves danced in the wind beautifully, and She couldn’t stop staring.

 

How long had it been, a minute? An hour? A day? A month? A year? Who knows? She certainly didn’t.

But something was off. Wasn’t this strange. Wasn’t this, abnormal? And why was she so calm?

Something felt off, and then it hit her. “GENJUTSU!” Satya’s mind reeled, trying to fight off the forced tranquility of the illusion.

She put her hands to a seal and stirred her chakra. She tried to undo the genjutsu, and flared her chakra.

 

“Release!”

……………..
……………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

“Well, the leaves are gone,” Satya said. “Wait, Where’s Kakashi sensei” Satya looked frantically.

 

“Well, I guess I’m no longer under the forced peacefulness of his illusion, so I must have broken out it.”

It must have been a while because Naruto was nowhere to be seen.

Satya’s ears perked up when she heard a familiar voice.

“I’ll get those bells, you hear me! Believe it!”

Yep, that was definitely Naruto.

Satya sprang forward, hopping from tree to tree as she scouted for him. She came across a clearing and saw Kakashi sensei throw Naruto right into….Sasuke?

The two boys were caked in mud and cut I multiple areas. Just how long was she out? Was that genjtusu so potent that it clouded her sense of time to this extent!

“Ughhh get off me loser,” Sasuke said angrily.

“Hey, you stay out of this, those bells are mine!” Naruto barked back.

No, this wouldn’t work. She couldn’t beat him.

But…..

 

Maybe,

“Wait. A three-man team. Three genin and one jounin. Obviously, the genin lose but… if it’s a three vs 1 then….maybe, wait that's it!” Satya nearly jumped for joy at the revelation.

 

They couldn’t do it alone, but together they could. The only issue was that one person would be left without a bell. Satya thought it was best to ignore that fact and first just focus on taking Kakashi down.

 

“You two are hopeless, you’ll never take these bells” Kakashi stated simply.

“Yea yea keep talking, just you wait!” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya took in a deep breath. She was hidden in the leaves, and that was an advantage she’d like to squeeze all the value possible from.

 

She formed 7 seals before holding the final one and whispering “Ninja art: Leaf wind dance genjutsu.”

She executed the same genjutsu Kakashi did on her, and she hoped the effect would last. She could tell it worked when Kakashi’s eyes looked vacant and distant. He slumped a little and stopped moving.

 

Naruto and Sasuke seemed puzzled, and the Satya jumped from the tree and lunged at kakashi, hand extended outwards.

 

“NOW!” Her mind commanded. She was going to get those bells.

 

Her fingers brushed the bells, and she thought victory was secured. But right at the last moment, Kakashi jumped back, and the bells slipped her grasp. Kakashi landed several feet back and clapped.

 

“That was a very skilled genjutsu, I’m impressed,” Kakashi said. “Credit where credit is due, this girl's genjutsu is beyond genin level,” Kakashi said in his mind.

 

“Sasuke, Naruto” Satya spoke up. Kakashi looked intrigued.

“We can’t do this, not alone. One on one we’ll be demolished, but three on one and we might have a chance”

There was an eerie silence.

Sasuke smirked. “Sure, why not, not like going solo was working anyways”

 

“Any objections Naruto,” Satya said.

“Nu-uh. I’ll do anything to get my revenge, even if it means teaming up with someone like Sasuke” he replied. “Loser” Sasuke said. “Jerk.” Naruto replied

“Whatever, lets just focus on getting kakashi sensei” Sasuke said in a voice that was surprisingly full of emotion.

“Oh thank god,” Satya said mentally.

“Alright then,” Satya said.

 

“Let’s go!”

 

Naruto made a hand seal and 20 clones appeared. They all charged at Kakashi, and Kakashi readied a kunai.

“Hmph, they said they’d work together yet all Naruto’s doing is running at me,” Kakashi thought in a bored tone.

Naruto smirked.

“Dispel!” He called, and all the clones vanished, leaving a huge puff of smoke.

Kakashi’s sight was compromised, and Sasuke knew what to do.

His hands flew into the right seals before unleashing a fireball that engulfed the smoke.

“Fire style: Fireball jutsu!”

Kakashi jumped into the air right before the flames could reach him.

But Satya was ready and already had completed the hand signs she needed. With Kakashi airborne, he couldn’t move out of the way.

“Water style: Water chains!” Satya’s hands slammed onto the ground, and water chains began to surge from the ground towards Kakashi.

“What! That jutsu is way beyond genin level, and she did it without any water present either, impossible!” Kakashi was genuinely shocked.

The water chains wrapped around Kakashi and pulled him down. Victory seemed at hand but right before he touched the ground he turned into a puff of smoke and only a wooden log remained.

Satya’s eyes widened, and then she heard a yelp from Naruto. She whipped her head around to see Naruto being pelted with Kunai.

Sasuke rushed forwards and grabbed Naruto, and Satya threw kunai at the trees where the kunai were coming from.

She attached paper bombs to the kunai, and they all exploded with a big BOOM!

 

Kakashi appeared behind Naruto in a flicker, and none of the three genins could react in time.

“Secret Leaf village taijutsu technique! 1000 years of death!”

 

Kakashi made a hand seal and……….well, Satya didn’t even want to say what it was that he did.

“Is that...legal?” Satya thought as Naruto was sent soaring through the air, yelping in pain.

 

Kakashi turned to Sasuke and dodged an incoming kick by grabbing his leg and throwing him towards a tree.

 

Sasuke flipped and his feet touched the tree. With all the strength he could muster, he quickly pushed himself off the tree and towards Kakashi.

 

Kakashi ducked under the punch that followed, but Satya had already woven hand signs during the scuffle.

 

“Water style: weighted water jutsu!”

 

Satya spewed very dark blue water at Kakashi, and Sasuke jumped back.

 

“That’s not normal water, it’s much denser. So she’s trying to restrict my movements huh? Nice” Kakashi had only a few moments to collect his thoughts before he used the body flicker technique to dodge the water. Kakashi appeared behind Satya with a flicker, and Satya whipped around to see him reach for a grab.

“Dang! He used a body flicker without the hand seal!” Satya panicked as she knew she could not escape this.

Luckily, she didn’t have to as shuriken flew towards Kakashi from all angles. Kakashi quickly jumped back as he deflected the shuriken with his Kunai.

 

7 clones of Naruto jumped towards Kakashi, and relief flooded over Kakashi.

“Whew. That was close. Kakashi sensei is just too strong, we need to wrap this up before we lose anymore steam” Satya explored all the options given to her, but only one really stood out.

Kakashi swiftly dealt with the clones, and Naruto didn’t seem to happy about that.

“Arrghhh, You think you’ve won! Well, I got news for you! We’re not giving up, Believe it!” Naruto yelled.

“If you really believe that then I’ll need you and Sasuke to cover me” Satya announced.

“You good with that, Sasuke” Satya turned to look at him. She knew she was asking a lot from him. She was asking for his trust, something that becomes hard to give after you have felt real tragedy. When you go through something like Satya or Sasuke has, you lose the ability to trust the world, to trust that life itself will be fine. So asking for his was significant, she knew this.

“........Sure, why not” Sasuke replied, and Satya almost audibly sighed in relief.

 

“Right, then let’s go!” Naruto yelled as he called forth 20 clones. The Naruto squad and Sasuke all rushed Kakashi, and Satya took a deep breath as she closed her eyes.

“I only get one shot, so I better make it worth it” Satya readied herself. She drowned out the noise of a frustrated Naruto or a battle lusted Sasuke. There was just her, her chakra, and Kakashi’s chakra.

Satya formed hand seals ever so slowly, focusing hard. After 10 seals, she riled her chakra.

Kakashi dodged a barrage of punches from four Naruto’s and flipped over Sasuke. But something felt off.

Something was missing.

Kakashi ran forward and began decimating Naruto’s clones. But something still felt off.

 

“Something’s missing...wait, there’s no sound from my hip! The bells!” Kakashi looked down and sure enough, the bells were gone. Kakashi was so surprised he had no time to see a charging Sasuke come at him. He realised Sasuke’s attack a mere millisecond early and barely managed to jump back. Kakashi hadn’t noticed until Sasuke was right on top of him, and it was only due to his sheer speed that he was able to escape. But Sasuke didn’t go for an attack, he reached for his belt. He went to grab his belt but Kakashi jumped back in the nick of time.

“But why?” Kakashi thought.

 

And then,

He heard a jingle.

 

Sasuke held up two bells in his hand.

“Ha, got them” Sasuke replied with a smirk. Naruto and Kakashi were stunned.

 

“What! When?” Kakashi's said in surprise.

“Uhh, just now, didn’t you see,” Sasuke said confused.

“That’s not possible, my bells were off my belt before then, that’s why I was so distracted,” Kakashi exclaimed.

“That’s impossible, your bells were right there on your hip Kakashi sensei!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Then what?” Kakashi sensei trailed off.

“Basic shinobi battle tactics: Part 2: Genjutsu” Satya replied as she stood up.

“Wait, what!?” Naruto said.

“I’m glad it worked because we were running out of stamina. Thanks for the distraction guys” Satya said with a smile, gratitude written on her face”

“Wait, what did you do?” Sasuke said analytically.

“Well, I told you guys to cover me. In that time, I wove 10 hand seals and cast a subtle genjutsu on Kakashi sensei. I made it seem as though his bells had disappeared, disorienting him. And If he thought they were gone, he wouldn’t think to protect them because in his mind they weren’t on his person, that’s why he went to block your attack and didn’t see that you were going for the bells Sasuke. Normally, a genjutsu like this works best when you change all five senses, but It took all my focus just to take a hold of 2 of Sensei’s 5 senses. I made him see that the bells were missing, and I made him unable to hear the bells jingle. But Kakashi sensei is so skilled that I couldn’t affect anymore. Had his hand brushed where the bells were, he’d still feel them, because I’m just not good enough to pull that kind of Genjutsu on someone like Sensei. Thankfully, Sasuke came in before he noticed because I doubt I could have kept the illusion up for more than a minute on someone like Kakashi sensei” Satya finished her speech, and her teammates and Sensei were floored.

“Brilliantly executed Satya” Kakashi sensei praised.

“Well, I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without Naruto’s clones, and Sasuke was the only one fast enough to even get close to you to get the bells. They did most of the heavy lifting, all I did was cast a genjutsu while they attacked your head on” Satya shrugged. She did kinda feel bad. The boys were all cut and bruised, and here she was with just a bit of dirt on her outfit.

 

“Heh he, ya see that! We won!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Not quite,” Sasuke said.

“Huh, what do you mean Sasuke?” Naruto said.

 

“There’s only two bells, and only one of you for me to give one to” Sasuke stated simply.

“Ahhh, now this is the true test,” Kakashi sensei thought. “Let’s see how this plays out”

“So now what! Do we gotta fight for them” Naruto said as he turned to Satya.

Satya didn’t want to fight her teammates. They had all worked so well together, and she knew what she had to do. It simply isn't fair that she was the only one not hurt. Naruto went through hell to use all the clones, and Satya couldn’t imagine the strain of chakra on his body. And Sasuke went directly against Kakashi toe to toe more than once to keep Kakashi from going after Satya. Sasuke suffered many hits, and yet all Satya did was sit back and throw out jutsu and a genjutsu. It just wasn’t fair, so she made her decision.

“No...that’s alright”

‘Huh?” Naruto said.

“Sasuke, give the bell to Naruto, I don’t want it,” Satya said.

“Wait, What!? why!?” Naruto exclaimed.

Sasuke’s eyes narrowed “yea, why?”

Satya looked down a little. “Well, you two worked so hard. Sasuke, you fought Kakashi sensei head on for us and got hurt so many times in the process. And you, Naruto, you pushed yourself constantly. It can’t be easy to make that many clones and maintain them constantly. And you kept doing it, kept pushing and kept suffering for it. Look at you two, all bruised and beaten, but here I am without a scratch. It isn’t fair, you two deserve to go on. Just promi-”

“NO WAY!” Naruto cut her off, and she jumped in surprise.

“Are you kidding! You’re the only reason we got those stupid bells! Your genjutsu stuff was amazing! It was so amazing that even Sensei couldn’t stop it! And your water stuff was awesome too, and you made a plan for us as well. All I did was charge at Sensei a lot, YOU were the one to do all the thinking and stuff!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Bu-”

“Both of you are stupid,” Sasuke said.

What was this, Satya interruption day!?

 

“As much as I hate to admit, you guys deserve it more than me. I initially went on to attack Kakashi sensei on my own. But unlike Naruto, I didn’t do that because teamwork never crossed my mind, but because teamwork did cross my mind and I thought it was worthless. I thought you guys would only slow me down, and yet you guys are the only reason I got these bells” Sasuke looked away with a “Hmpf”

“So really, I should be the one to go back to the academy”

 

“Enough!” Kakashi said.

“I will decide who passes or fails,” Kakashi said resolutely, and the three of them gulped.

Naruto refused to let Satya fail, and as much as he hated to admit, Sasuke WAS the one who got the bells, so he thought he should fail. Sasuke hated the idea of not passing, but he couldn’t be the one to walk and pass, not when he was the only one who initially actively sought out to avoid teamwork, the very thing that helped them win. It was hypocritical to reap the benefits of their teamwork when he rejected it in his mind. Satya couldn’t fathom what was going on. Could they not see how unfair it was, for them to suffer like this, to put themselves on the front line only for her to steal one of their spots? It was only fair that they got to pass”

“My answer”

 

All three of their hearts raced.

 

“Is”

Their stomachs twisted, and...

 

“You all pass!”

Chapter Text

Say whaaaaa?” Naruto exclaimed.

“Come again,” Satya said bewilderedly

“What?” Sasuke said simply, eyes narrowing.

“It’s as I said, you all pass,” Kakashi said with a smile. Well, none of the young genin could really see his mouth since it was covered by his mask, but he had a very expressive eye.

“I think we all heard you the first time, it’s just why you came to that decision that has us confused,” Sasuke said, clearly still trying to decipher what was going on.

“Simple. This test wasn’t about you guys individually, but about how you all acted as a team”

“Wha- that doesn’t any make sense,” Naruto said.

“Oh? Then why would I have you all come up against me? Surely you can see that you all have no chance against me by yourselves. Yet as a team, things evidently become different.”

“Then why only two bells?” Satya asked.

Kakashi laughed at this. “I wanted to test you all to see if you had the heart to put your team and the mission before yourselves.”

Kakashi glanced at a stone memorial with a wistful look in his eye.

“Those who abandon the mission are scum, that is true. But those who abandon their comrades are even worse than scum. Ninja almost always work in groups. Teamwork is vital, and you all need to have pure unwavering faith in your teammates. But you can only have that if you know that they have the same faith in you. The only way to truly trust someone is to know for certain that they would always have your back, that if push came to shove, they would even sacrifice their life for you. That’s why there were only two bells. If you all could come to work together despite knowing that one of you would certainly fail the test, then that shows you all have the groundwork for true trust and teamwork to grow”

Sasuke looked down at the floor. “But how, how can I trust anyone. Trust got my clan murdered. Shisui trusted him, father trusted him, mother trusted him…...I trusted him.” Sasuke’s thoughts whirled. How could he trust again, after having being stabbed in the back so brutally by his own dear brother?

“That kind of thing doesn’t just happen after one session Sensei,” Satya said out loud.

“True, but you all showed me that you have the potential for it. Of course, you have to trust yourself before you can demand trust from others” Kakashi said.

“Trust in...yourself?” Satya said quizzically.

 

“Of course. For example, Satya, do you trust in yourself that if push comes to shove, you would save either Sasuke or Naruto, even if it meant you’d die?” Kakashi asked.

 

Satya was silent for a moment.

“That’s crazy to ask,” Sasuke thought. “I don’t even expect her to say yes. We only just became teammates."

Satya thought for a moment. Would she? She would have for her family but these two were not her family. Although, they were comrades in arms. They just showed that they’d go through hell with her if they had to, their scrapes were proof of that. They were her comrades, her friends, hell they were the closest thing she had to a family now. Would she sacrifice herself for them?

…………….
…………………………………………………………..
“I think I would” Satya stated.

“No way,” Sasuke thought. His surprise was audible even in his head.

“Do you trust them to do the same?” Kakashi asked.

Satya looked to her left and found Naruto. The same Naruto that stopped Kakashi from grabbing her. The same Naruto who swarmed Kakashi with clones for her.

Satya looked to her right and saw Sasuke. The same Sasuke who charged at Kakashi for her, the same Sasuke who put his full trust in her plan despite barely knowing her. She couldn’t say why, but in the heat of the moment, she had trusted them completely.

“After the fight we just had, Yea, I trust them,” Satya said resolutely.

“S-she, she trust us? She trusts us to that level already?” Sasuke thought. He was almost……….touched by this. He didn’t think he deserved it, but he had it nonetheless. Of course, he also thought she was an absolute fool for having such blind faith, but he didn't have it in him to condemn her too much because of the feeling of warmth he got that came from having someone's trust to such a level.

 

“Heh, Ya see that? We’re definitely the best team there is, Believe it!” Naruto said with a huge smile.

Sasuke smirked just a little.

“Your still a bunch of losers,” Sasuke said, but Satya could tell that it had just a twinge of playfulness in it.

Naruto, however, did not. “Oh, yea? I didn’t see you make a bunch of clones!” Naruto stuck out his tongue.

“I wasn’t the one who was left dangling from a tree,” Sasuke said, clearly enjoying the face Naruto made at that comment.

“Bastard” Naruto exclaimed

“Loser” Sasuke retorted.

“I don’t know whether to hug you guys or slap you two” Satya commented. Naruto laughed, Sasuke gave a smirk, and Kakashi chuckled.

“I think I really am starting to like you guys,” Kakashi said.

It was a good thing too since they were going to be together for a long time.

 

---------------------------------------

Somethings change, in fact nearly everything changes. This usually scares people, knowing that whatever they have now will eventually change no matter what, but for Satya, she prayed for that. Maybe, if anything could change, then perhaps, just maybe, one day Kakashi would stop being so damn late. Satya and her teammates had their first mission today since the bell test, and their sensei was running late by one hour. They were meeting at the training grounds, which was a little odd, but Satya didn’t really care where they met.

 

“Why does Sensei always have to be so damn late!” Naruto exclaimed.

“He’s actually managed to be consistently later than you, which is actually kinda sad,” Sasuke said.

“Yea I know righ- hey wait a minute!” Satya chuckled at Naruto’s reaction.

She really wished Kakashi would just show up on time, but she supposed that was just wishful thinking. Satya was never one to just sit around. She always kept herself busy in some form, whether that be chakra training, reading up on jutsu, medical training or weapons training. She always made sure to keep busy, it was better that way, less time to dwell on the past.

So just sitting around for an hour was just not her thing. however, she was foolish enough not to bring any books with her. She had to do SOMETHING, but she wasn’t sure what. Perhaps some training? She could, but training while her teammates watched would be a little weird. Perhaps they could participate? Yes, that might actually work. Satya decided that this was the best course of action, and she hoped the other two would play along.

 

“Hey guys, since Kakashi sensei is probably not gonna show up for a while, why don’t we do a little training?” Satya asked.

“What do you propose we do,” Sasuke said, seemingly intrigued by the thought. It seemed that the one thing that could for sure interest Sasuke was anything that pertained to him getting stronger.

“Hmm, maybe a spar?” Satya said.

“A spar, Alright! I’ll show you two just how amazing I am!” Naruto boasted. Sasuke rolled his eyes and Satya chuckled a little awkwardly.

“I’m gonna have to teach him how to behave before this gets really irritating” Satya mused in her head.

“So who goes first,” Sasuke asked.

“Well actually, I was thinking it would be fun to do a free for all” Satya stated.

“A free for all, that sounds fun!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Any restrictions,” Sasuke asked, almost as if he was checking something. It seemed as though he was almost testing Satya to see if she wanted restrictions or not.

“Hmmm, well we should try not to seriously injure each other, but we should still be able to use all of our skills,” Satya said.

“Finally a good idea,” Sasuke said with a very subtle smirk that Satya read as him expressing excitement.

“Alright, let's do this!” Naruto exclaimed.

 

“Alright alright, sheesh. Let's all take fifteen steps back, and then I’ll throw a kunai in the air. As soon as the Kunai hits the ground, we begin, got that?” Both boys nodded before all three took the fifteen steps back.

Satya threw the Kunai in the air, and suddenly the atmosphere shifted. Naruto was eagerly waiting for the kunai to land, literally bouncing in anticipation. Sasuke had a look in his eye that made it seem like he was a predator ready to pounce, and he wore a devilish smirk. Satya herself just stared at the two, reading their every move.

Each second the kunai fell, the tension grew. The tension became almost palpable, and the buildup was increasing at a rapid rate. Hearts were pounding, and the jittery feeling of anticipation found its way into each of the genin’s stomachs.

And then, with a thump, the kunai lodged itself into the ground. With that, the game was on.

 

Naruto instantly brought his hands to a familiar seal. “Multi shadow clone jutsu!” twenty Naruto’s sprang up from smoke and all of them began charging at Sasuke.

“Today’s the day I prove I’m the better ninja, believe it!” All Naruto’s exclaimed, and the output of volume was nearly deafening.

 

“As if,” Sasuke said as he surged forward, mowing through the clones with taijutsu. He had a very efficient fighting style. He cut through the clones with punches, kicks, flips and so forth. Satya thought that now would be a great time to knock out both her opponents.

her hands easily found the seals she needed, and the jutsu was released.

“Water style: Water wave!” Satya slammed her hands from the ground, and out came a wide wave of water. The wave crashed into all of the clones, dispelling them all. This jutsu has a widespread area of effectiveness and was good for hitting multiple targets. Sasuke, however, jumped over the wave and landed on the ground. Sasuke quickly charged at Satya, trying to eliminate the distance between them.

Satya went to form seals, but found that she underestimated Sasuke’s speed.

“Damn it he’s fast!” Satya’s mind whirled with options, but she didn’t have time, for Sasuke had already reached her. Sasuke launched a jab at Satya’s face at a quick speed, and she barely ducked under it. She felt the hair on her head graze his fist, but he retracted his arm faster than she could have reacted too. Before even finishing her duck, Sasuke kneed her right in the stomach. She felt the air leave her lungs and exit her mouth. Sasuke grabbed her arm and threw her over his shoulder, and Satya tumbled on the ground.

The soft grass of the training fields cushioned her fall, but Sasuke had thrown her hard, and Satya wasn’t exactly known for her physical durability.

“Heh, she’s barely above academy level taijutsu. Did she really think no one would capitalize on that?” Sasuke smirked. It seemed like this one was in the bag for him.

Suddenly, Sasuke felt a whoosh of air behind him, and he quickly jumped out of the way of an attacking Naruto.

“Don’t underestimate me!” Naruto exclaimed, and 30 more shadow clones jumped towards Sasuke.

Satya clutched her side as she brought herself to her knees.

“This won’t work, he’s too quick. I need to slow him down” Satya was far more concerned about Sasuke then Naruto, mainly due to the fact that Naruto seemed obsessed with taking Sasuke down.

Sasuke was still breezing through Naruto’s clones, albeit with more difficulty than last time. It seemed Naruto was favouring the quantity over quality method in this battle, and she couldn’t really say it was the incorrect move because he was seeing some progress with it.

Sasuke ducked under a clone before using another one as a springboard. In the air, Sasuke formed some quick seals before wiping out all the clones.

“Fire style: Fireball jutsu!”

The clones all dissipated in a puff of smoke, and Satya quickly executed her plan before Sasuke landed on the ground.

Seals already formed, Satya initiated her plan.

“Ninja art: Colour distortion genjutsu!”

As Sasuke landed on the ground, he was thrown completely off his game by what he saw. The world's colours were completely distorted. The grass was grey and yellow somehow at the same time, while the sky seemed orange in some parts and purple in others. The clouds were red and everything seemed to blur into each other like when you squint your eyes at a light.

“What the, a genjutsu?” Sasuke was indeed halted for a moment, but he wasn’t one to lose his cool for too long, and he quickly released the genjutsu.

“Release” Sasuke exclaimed as he formed his hands into a seal, dispelling the genjutsu. However, Sasuke dispelled the genjutsu just in time to notice a big dark blue water wave hurling at him.

“Water style: Weighted water wave!”

The dark water quickly enveloped Sasuke and whisked him away until he was slammed into a tree from the wave. Sasuke fell to his knees with a gasp and noticed that it was significantly harder to get his body to move.

“What is this? My body seems so much heavier” Sasuke struggled to get to his feet. It felt like he was wearing heavily weighted clothing.

Satya surged forward at Sasuke and began launching attacks at Sasuke. She wasn’t too keen on taijutsu, but in Sasuke’s current state it was the quickest way to deal with him without using chakra. Satya jabbed him once in the side and once in the stomach. Sasuke was trying to block but was clearly having difficulty adjusting to the sudden weight change. Satya launched a few more attacks, and Sasuke managed to somewhat block them, but they were still chipping away at him.

Satya then kicked the lower half of his sheen as he leaned back to avoid her punch. The force of the low kick sent his foot upwards and behind him, and sent his face leaning forward. She punched him straight in the face before kicking him in the stomach, sending him to the ground.

It seemed as though the hardest part about his new weight was getting off the ground once not standing. Satya went to finish off Sasuke before she whipped her head around at the sound of many approaching footsteps.

“Sorry Satya, but we’re the only ones allowed to beat Sasuke,” Said at least 20 shadow clone Narutos.

Satya quickly launched an attack to dispatch them.

“Water style: Water wave Jutsu!” Satya was always praised for her amazing hand sign speed, and it came in handy as she launched the jutsu with lightning fast reflexes.

The jutsu caught about half of the clones in it, while the other half jumped in the air.

Satya smirked. In the air the Naruto’s could not dodge her attacks, so they were easy pickings.

As quickly as she thought about it, her hands formed the seals required.

“Water style: Water shot” Satya spewed out a stream of water from her mouth. It wasn’t very powerful, but it had a low chakra cost and it did not take much damage to dispel a shadow clone.

Satya turned her head as she mowed down the clones, but after she killed off about five of them something interesting happened. Right before each clone got hit, they would summon five more clones. Suddenly, Satya could not keep up. They were multiplying faster then she could kill them, and before she knew it, she was faced with a horde of Naruto’s.

 

Satya desperately tried to form seals, but even she couldn’t perform the seals fast enough at such close range. Satya ducked under the first punch and swept Naruto off his feet, before spinning around and killing two clones with a roundhouse kick fueled by her momentum. Unfortunately, that was about all the clones she could manage to take out.

A sea of punches and kicks rained down upon her, and she could do nothing about it. Whenever she dodged an attack, she just ended up moving into another. She was dodging without looking because she didn’t have the speed nor the time to look around first. One Naruto launched a devastating kick that sent her flying backward. She ended up extending the roll she did on the ground just to put more distance between them.

 

As the clones ran up to her, Satya didn’t even bother getting up. She just launched a jutsu and hoped that would deal with the clones.

“Water style: Water ball” Satya spewed a big water ball bigger in size than even Sasuke’s fireball jutsu. But water was not fire, it did not travel as fast. It took out many clones, but the ones that survived just made more and continued on.

Before they could reach Satya however, a kunai lodged itself in a clones shoulder in the middle of the hoard of clones before exploding. The blast sent the hoard in different directions, and through the smoke, the clones were being picked off by shuriken.

The smoke cleared, and Sasuke filled the gaps with the heat of a fireball jutsu.

With that last attack, all the clones on the field were killed, and Sasuke initiated taijutsu with the real Naruto. Sasuke was still heavily weighted by her jutsu, as the water droplets stuck to him as his clothes absorbed the heavy water. However, Sasuke was still slightly faster than Naruto, and he was much better than Naruto in form and fighting skills.

Naruto was quickly sent flying, but Satya used this to try and score a hit on Sasuke.

“Water style: Water shot!” The water raced towards Sasuke, who dodged at the last second before running back towards her. Satya smirked.

Sasuke was much too slow to reach her now, and she decided she wanted to end this before her chakra supply ran out. She had heard that the Vaswani clan had excellent chakra reserves, and Satya was no exception. But she was still using a large amount of chakra, and Vaswani or not, she was still a genin.

“Ninja art: Sonar genjutsu!”

Sasuke suddenly felt a high pitch ringing in his ears and covered his ears with his hands.

“Arrrghhh” Sasuke dropped to one knee, trying desperately to drown out the sound. But it was no use, for it was a genjutsu, and thus, it was all in his mind.

 

Satya kicked him with all her might, sending him sprawled out in the grass. Sasuke released the genjutsu in time to see Naruto approaching.

Satya jumped back but found that she jumped back right into a platoon of clones, and she was quickly being assaulted once again by clones.

Sasuke rushed past the clones and found the real Naruto before hitting him a few times with taijutsu. The clones retreated back to Naruto to help but were all hit in the back with kunai by Satya.

 

“Wait, this is becoming a pattern,” Satya thought.

“I gain the upper hand against Sasuke, then Naruto comes in and I can’t keep up. Sasuke then recovers and beats Naruto, and then I defeat Sasuke again. It’s almost like a cycle”

 

Satya observed for a moment. No matter how hard Naruto tried, Sasuke would always beat him. But Sasuke himself just could not exploit Satya’s weakness before she hits him with her advanced water style and genjutsu. But there were too many clones for Satya’s plan of attack to ever work against Naruto.

The fight raged on for another minute with neither side giving in an inch. Each second more grueling than the last, and it was wearing down each competitor. Sasuke was constantly being pelted by water ninjutsu, draining his durability and stamina. Satya was forced to exert tremendous levels of chakra to avoid Naruto's sea of clones, and Naruto no matter how hard he tried could not keep his real body away from Sasuke finding and attacking it.

“Damn it. I can’t seem to put Satya down. I can handle the dobe, but she’s making this difficult. It all comes down to who slows down first, her chakra reserves or my stamina. But thanks to her stupid jutsu, I’m almost at my limit.” Sasuke thought worriedly. He would not lose, he could not lose. How could he ever avenge his clan and his family if he couldn’t even beat two genin?

 

“I don’t know if I can go on much longer. If it was just Sasuke I’d have more chakra left, but Naruto is forcing me to keep continuously outputting large scale jutsu just to ward off his clones. But I have no choice, otherwise, he’ll overwhelm me and I don’t think I’ll survive another round of his clones ganging up on me. If I run out of chakra, I’m finished” Satya could not lose this. She spent too long trying to get stronger. She literally drowned herself in books for this. She was terrified of losing those close to her again. But how could she protect these two, her comrades, her teammates if she couldn’t even beat them to begin with?

 

“This is crazy. No matter what I do, Sasuke is always one step ahead of me! I keep sending clones after him, but I just can’t get a hit in! Well if he thinks I’m gonna give up, then he’s dead wrong, Believe it!” Naruto didn’t dwell on how he was getting bruised to the point of no return. He didn’t think about how his durability was wearing thin, no, he just thought about winning. No one respected him, no one cared for him or believed in him. This was his chance to prove the villagers wrong, to prove to them that he was worth something, and he’d be damned if he let the chance slip.

 

A three-way clash sent them all sliding backwards on their feet. Panting feverously, the three genin seemed to be at their limit. Satya quickly riled up her chakra to see how much she had left. The result was scary, as nearly all of it was depleted.

Sasuke seemed to be having a hard time standing. Satya’s weighted water wave jutsu still clung to his clothes and body, and the impacts of all her other water jutsu’s were rapidly reducing his stamina. He was still on his feet, but it looked to be a struggle.

Naruto seemed to be a mixture of Satya and Sasuke. He was chakra drained but had more than Satya had left. His stamina was also wearing thin, but he seemed to be better off then Sasuke.

A stalemate, through and through, and Satya had no idea how to break it. But could they go further? Should they go further? Satya knew Naruto wouldn't call it off, not until he won or dropped dead. She thought that perhaps Sasuke would, but he seemed equally determined. Sasuke seemed like he was almost on a mission, almost as if he could not afford to lose the battle. Satya didn’t want to lose either, but she didn’t have the same competitive spirit that her teammates seemed to possess. Satya deemed it in everyone’s best interests to call off the match.

“Guys, we should *huff* call of the *huff* match,” Satya said through heavy panting.

“What, no *huff* way!” Naruto wheezed.

Satya stood up and relaxed, her body language signifying that she was done. “We have a mission today *huff* and we shouldn’t be *huff* So exhausted before the mission”
Satya bargained.

 

“Satya’s *huff* right. We need to be able to *huff* perform well on our *huff* first mission.” Sasuke said between trying to catch his breath. He too dropped his guard.

“Ugh, fine” Naruto said breathlessly as he dropped down on his bum before lying down spread eagle. Satya more gracefully sat down with one leg over the other, hands behind her back supporting her upwards.

 

Sasuke seemed almost too prideful to stop standing, although he was probably having the hardest time staying standing with Satya’s weighted water jutsu pulling him down.

“Does he actually intend to just stand there? That’s got to be torture, and for what?” Satya mused.

“Sasuke, just sit down already, It’s clear you need to”

Sasuke gave a defying “Hmph” In response as he looked the other way.

“Really?” Satya thought sarcastically. Apparently, pointing out that Sasuke needed rest was not the right way to go about things.

But Satya was too damn tired to deal with his shit.

“Just sit already or I’ll use my last bit of chakra to weigh you down even more,” Satya said annoyedly. Sasuke glared at her with a squint that would probably melt most people on the spot. Satya, however, just motioned for him to sit. She didn’t meet his eye much, mostly because she’d be lying if she said the glare didn’t have some sort of effect on her. But she wasn’t about to be intimidated.

Sasuke ever so gently sat down, trying to do so in a way that would keep him from collapsing. Satya wouldn’t have minded or judged Sasuke one bit if he just plopped down from exhaustion just as Naruto did, but even now he remained dignified. Satya could understand it, but she didn’t think he had to stay like that in front of her and Naruto. Not that she ever thought she could get him to change that habit. Satya had a sinking feeling that getting Sasuke to quit his bad habits would be as hard as trying to get Naruto to stop being so damn loud. And of course, no one would ever be able to stop Satya from basically drowning herself in books, so in a way, they were all stubborn idiots.

 

The trio talked about the fight after they caught their breaths, which took roughly 10 minutes to so.

“So, a stalemate, huh? Almost like a cycle” Satya started.

“Tch, yeah, I noticed it way back when you casted that sound genjutsu on me” Sasuke replied.

“So, he noticed it too huh?” Satya mused.

“Wait, what do you guys mean?” Naruto said, completely clueless to what they were talking about.

Sasuke rolled his eyes. “Of course you wouldn’t get it, idiot,” Sasuke said.

“Seriously, what is it? What am I missing?” Naruto seemed really eager now.

“Well, we kind of ended in a three-way deadlock” Satya replied.

“Three-way deadlock? What the hell does that mean?” Naruto said as he scratched his head, trying to wrap his head around the concept”

“It means we were almost stuck in a cycle, you idiot” Sasuke replied.

“A cycle, how?” Naruto asked, and Sasuke groaned. Satya didn’t really like Sasuke’s insults, but she would be lying if she said she wasn’t a little annoyed by Naruto’s…….slow pace when it came to these things.

“Think back to the fight Naruto, what seemed to always happen?” Satya asked almost as if she were talking to a five-year-old.

‘Umm, well, I kept trying to beat Sasuke, but I couldn’t get him” Naruto exclaimed.

"Yea, and then what happened when you tried to fight me?” Satya asked, knowing the answer.

“Oh, fighting you was SO much easier” Naruto exclaimed, and Satya put her hand to her face.

“He could have at least said it nicer” Satya deadpanned. Sasuke smirked.

“Oh shove it Uchiha,” Satya said in her mind before taking a deep breath.

“So you couldn’t beat Sasuke, yet you always beat me?” Satya asked.

 

“Yea, that's it,” Naruto said.

“What about Sasuke, you said he beat you, but what happened when he fought me?” Satya asked in a tone that signified she already knew the answer.

“Hmmm, well, Sasuke was never really able to do much to you once you hit him with that water jutsu. He just kept getting blasted” Naruto said, and Sasuke glared at Naruto, who was oblivious to his targeted hatred.

Satya smirked, “Ha, payback,” Satya said in her mind.

“So Sasuke couldn’t beat me, but he could beat you?”

“Yea yea, that's right” Naruto answered.

"well, that’s what we mean by a three-way deadlock Naruto”

“Huh, how does that have to do with the three-way deadlock thingy or whatever,” Naruto said quizzically.

“It’s like rock paper scissors, scissors beats paper, paper beats rock and rock beats paper. That’s a three-way deadlock and that kind of happened in the fight. As you said, you beat me, I beat Sasuke and Sasuke beats you.”

“Ohhhh, I get it!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Finally,” Sasuke said, and Satya chuckled.

“I guess I’m alright with a tie, but I have to admit, I was really stumped as to what to do against all your clones Naruto” Satya admitted. She really did not find being swarmed by an army of Naruto’s a pleasant experience.

“Heh, well all your water stuff was really cool Satya” Naruto exclaimed.

“I beg to differ,” Sasuke said somewhat bitterly, and Satya could not stop herself from laughing. “Aww sorry Sasuke,” Satya said sweetly.

“Tch, don’t apologize, it’s my fault for getting hit,” Sasuke said, almost as if he was scolding himself.

“Although I could do without your stupid water always weighing me down,” Sasuke said.

“Wait, is it still doing that?” Satya asked.

“Yes, and I really hope it wears off before Kakashi sensei gets here,” Sasuke said in an annoyed tone.

“Oh damn, sorry Sasuke, I totally forgot” Satya exclaimed guilty. She felt bad about weighing him down so much even after the fight ended. She wasn’t one to enjoy hurting others, least of all her teammates.

 

“Do you want me to help with that” Satya asked sweetly, still feeling guilty.

“I thought you’d never ask,” Sasuke said with a smirk, and they all laughed.

 

---------------------------------------

 

The coming days were not as exciting as the genin had hoped. Upon reaching the Hokage, it became very clear that they were only going to get very low ranked basic missions. Babysitting, cleaning, store helping and such seemed to be all they could do. Naruto was outraged almost every time he got let down in the Hokage office after the group got a new mission, only to see that it was the same old D-rank missions. The three genin had sparred on three separate occasions since their first match, and it always seemed to end in a three-way tie.

 

The group gained great knowledge from these sessions, and it was enough to stave off Naruto’s hunger for an exciting mission. Naruto learned to use his clones more tactically, while Sasuke learned how to better approach an enemy from long range, and Satya gained great experience in fighting multiple opponents converging onto you at once.

But after an admittedly annoying D-rank mission that involved rescuing a rabid cat that clawed Naruto’s face to no end, the young unpredictable genin had enough.

“COME ON OLD MAN, I WANT A REAL MISSION” Naruto exclaimed loudly.

“Silence! You are only a genin and a new one at that. You will get more “real” Missions as you progress and gain experience,” The third Hokage said sagely.

“Oh come on!” Naruto seemed to be getting more and more worked up. Kakashi was doing an absolutely phenomenal job of acting completely indifferent about what was going on. Sasuke seemed more annoyed than anything, and Satya was just wincing in second-hand embarrassment.

Satya really didn’t want this to go on, but she knew who Naruto was. He wasn’t going to give up until the Hokage gave them a C-rank mission, so she begrudgingly took his side, albeit with much more finesse.

“Lord Hokage, If I may, I think what Naruto is trying to say is that we’d like a chance to prove ourselves. We may just be new genin, but these D-rank missions don’t really help gauge where our skill level is at. If we aren’t skilled enough for a C-rank mission, then Kakashi sensei can take over. I think since Kakashi sensei can fix any serious mistakes, we should be given a chance” Satya asked, almost pleaded. It was more a plea of “just give us a C-rank mission so Naruto will shut the hell up”, but Satya had a suspicion that everyone was tired of this.

“Yea, what she said! I already know what you're saying, but I’m not a little kid, not since I graduated. I’m a real ninja now, and I wanna show you that!” Naruto exclaimed.

The Hokage sighed a long sigh, seemingly very tired with the current state of events.

“You want to prove yourselves eh? Alright, I suppose I can assign team seven a C-rank mission” The Hokage smirked as Naruto’s eyes lit up like stars in the night sky.

“Alright! What is what it what is what it what is what it what is what it!?”

Satya jabbed Naruto in the stomach

“Oww”

“Just pay attention” Satya whispered through her teeth.

“You will be guarding an important figure to the land waves”

“Whaaaat, no way!” Naruto seemed to like that prospect.

However, Naruto’s joy was quickly killed when he realised their client was just, in his words “A grumpy, drunk old grandpa”. The team was scheduled to meet at the frontal Leaf village gates, and for once, Kakashi was actually on time!

Satya had prepared for the mission in advance, carrying with her books and such. She ended up completing her book on basic medical ninjutsu and principles the night before the mission. Satya also had spent some time with Ino after they got accepted as Genin, so Ino would often listen to Satya’s thoughts on the book. Ino actually was a double-edged sword in that she provided Satya with a very nice way to pass the time, and she really enjoyed their time together, but Satya could just not resist Ino’s way of making her spend money. Ino just had this ability to make you want to go buy something in every store you went in with her, and Satya’s wallet was clearly suffering. But on the plus side, Satya had four new outfits she could wear.

The trio met at the designated spot, and all seemed well. Naruto was as excited as ever, as this was the first time the three genin had ever left the leaf village. The client, Tazuna, was not a very pleasant man, but he was a client nonetheless and Satya showed her respect. If nothing else, she’d uphold her respect just to keep the leaf village’s good name, although she was having to work overtime to compensate for Naruto’s behaviour.

The genin talked while the two adults stayed quiet for the most part. Satya did end up sparking a conversation on the subject of the other main hidden Villages when she asked if the land of waves had any Ninja.

“No, the land of waves do not possess any ninja” Kakashi answered. “But other countries house hidden villages who do. There are many hidden villages, but the five main ones are the leaf village, sand village, rain village, mist village, and stone village. Each of those five hidden Villages has their own kage, or shadow. Their respective kage is the leader of the village, and the five Kage are deemed to be the most influential people in the world. We have the Hokage, while the other four villages have a different kage, such as the kazekage or mizukage.”

The conversation continued on, but it all seemed to fly over Naruto’s head. Sasuke was vaguely interested in it, while Satya was paying full attention.

The group walked for about two hours, and the sun was still shining its brilliant rays onto the group. That’s what set off Kakashi’s alarm bells, as they crossed a puddle of water, which should have been impossible in heat like this.

The leaf Village had a secret sign language that all leaf village ninja knew. Each village ad their own ninja sign language and Kakashi used this to try and signal to the others that there was an enemy. The sign language was instantly discreet and focused on very subtle movements. However, Sasuke was the only one who picked up on Kakashi’s message, and it was too little too late.

Out from the puddle sprouted two ninjas, and each ninja had a giant claw on their arm. The Claws were connected by a long, sharp chain.

The two ninjas rushed towards Kakashi and swiftly had him entrapped in their sharp chain.

“What!?” Kakashi exclaimed. The genin all turned to see their sensei be cut to shreds by a pull of the ninja’s chain.

“KAKASHI SENSEI!” Naruto exclaimed in horror.

Satya could not believe her eyes. He died, he died right in front of her. It was all so quick, so sudden. One moment they were talking and the next Kakashi was wrapped up and slit to pieces by the chain. Once again, Satya had those close to her ripped from under her, and just like last time, she was shaken to her core.

The two ninjas appeared right behind Naruto, and Satya’s heart dropped to the pit of her stomach. Anxiety coursed through her veins, and she was terrified that she’d watch Naruto die as well. She could feel her blood pumping at an abnormal rate, her heart felt like it was running a marathon, and her mouth was as dry as can be.

“NARUTO!” Satya exclaimed. Naruto looked shaken. He just watched Kakashi, the same ninja who effortlessly dealt with him while reading a book get decimated by these two ninja. Satya feared for Naruto, feared that neither of them would react in time. Her fears were momentarily dispelled by Sasuke, who threw a shuriken at the chain, pinning it two a tree. The two ninja were rendered unable to stray far from the tree, as the chain acted as a leash. The two ninja quickly ejected the chain from their claws and began to attack. One of them sped right for Sasuke, while the other surged towards Tazuna. Satya was left with an impossible choice, save Tazuna or help Sasuke. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want either of them to get hurt, but she didn’t have time to choose.

The ninja was fast, but Satya’s hand seals were faster.

As the ninja rushed at Tazuna, Satya surged in front of their client and unleashed her jutsu.

“Water style: Water wave!” Satya’s hand flew to the ground, and her chakra formed water that sprouted from the ground, creating a widespread wave. The ninja was only inches from her when the jutsu took effect, so he could not dodge. From another angle, however, it could be said that it was very dangerous that the ninja as able to get so close to Satya who was easily the fastest hand sign weaver of their team, besides their now dead sensei.

Water style users usually only use water style when water is in their vicinity, so the Ninja was most likely caught off guard to see a genin perform a water style jutsu in an area with no water.

The wave carried the ninja right into a tree, slamming him into the bark as the water rushed into him. The other ninja was attacking Sasuke, and Sasuke was seemingly struggling to avoid getting hit.

Satya quickly cast a genjutsu to aid Sasuke.

“Ninja art: Colour distortion genjutsu!”. Sasuke saw that his opponent suddenly dropped his guard due to the sudden genjutsu, and he quickly kicked him, launching him far away.

Satya smiled, but that quickly turned into a frown as the ninja she had first dealt with appeared behind her.

Tazuna yelped, and Satya was fearful for both her life and Tazuna’s.

“You didn’t think you could take me out that easily, did you?”

“Damn, he’s fast, I didn’t think he’d recover so quickly,” Satya’s mind thought frantically.

“SATYA NO” Naruto exclaimed, still shaking. He didn’t know what to do, or if he could even do anything. These ninja, they were out of his league. They took out Kakashi in one move. He couldn’t get over the shock, and it was too late to act now.

“Stay away from her!” Sasuke exclaimed as he launched 6 shurikens. They all whizzed right by her ear, and the ninja blocked it with his metal claw. Satya and Sasuke made eye contact for a brief moment, but that was all they needed to convey their thoughts. Sasuke and Satya were expressing gratitude for each other and made an unspoken pact to watch each others back. Satya used this opportunity given to her by Sasuke to counter-attack.

“Ninja art: Sonar genjutsu”

The ninja behind her dropped as he covered his ears, and Sasuke rushed over and launched a series of punches and kicks before throwing him back into his teammate. His teammate caught him, however, and broke him out of the genjutsu.

Naruto watched in awe and shock, and could hardly believe what was going on.

The two ninja suddenly created three water clones each, and with that, the three genin were surrounded.

Satya frantically glanced at Naruto, who was still too stunned to do anything. The clones surged forward from all angles, and Satya knew this was it. Even if they saved Tazuna, Naruto would die. Satya hated this, she hated the feeling of knowing a comrade was going to die. And worst of all, she hated feeling helpless to stop it.

However, all of the clones were suddenly dispatched by kunai, while the real bodies had kunai lodged in their backs.

 

In the blink of an eye, Kakashi grabbed both Ninja and bonked their heads together, knocking them out.

“Hi,” Kakashi said simply.

“Sensei!” Satya exclaimed with glee. Relief flooded through her at the sight of her sensei.

“He’s alive!” Satya thought in an elated voice.

 

“But how” Naruto glanced to where he thought he saw Kakashi get torn to shreds, only to see a bunch of pieces of wood.

“Tch, Showoff” Sasuke said, and Satya punched him in the arm.

“H-he, he used the substitution jutsu?” Naruto exclaimed in awe.

 

Satya sighed a very hefty breath, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Sasuke.

“So, she was really that nervous? In the fight, I would have never guessed that she was this worried. Interesting” Sasuke mused. He found it commendable that she was able to just completely shove her feelings to the side for the sake of victory. Of course, he would have liked it better if she wasn’t nervous at all and holding that in could actually be dangerous for the team, but it was still impressive.

“So, they actually saved me,” Tazuna said in his head. It seemed as though Tazuna was relieved in a way that looked almost like he expected the attack, or at least, something like it. This went unnoticed by both Satya and Naruto but did not escape Sasuke and Kakashi’s watchful eyes, or eye in Kakashi’s case.

 

Kakashi looked back at a very stunned Naruto. “Naruto, Sorry about not jumping in sooner, I didn’t mean for you to get hurt …...I just didn’t think you'd freeze up like that”

Kakashi did seem apologetic, but his words still stung.

 

Kakashi made his way to Sasuke and Satya. “Good work Sasuke, very smooth. You too, Satya, excellent hand sign speed. Oh, and most importantly, excellent teamwork.” Satya smiled at this, she was really glad she decided to train on her hand seals so much, otherwise, she would have been in big trouble.

 

Naruto just stared miserably at the group.
“I was useless! Sasuke was so cool, like he’d done this a thousand times! Didn’t he feel scared at all? He looks so calm, and he doesn’t have a scratch on him, and I was so lame. He had to come up and save me! And after that, Satya was the one to team up with him. She was so serious and awesome with all that jutsu, and I just stood there and watched! Argh, why can’t I keep up with them!” Naruto’s frustration rang through his head. He was a ninja, and he thought he was a good one, yet he completely blew his first real test.

 

Sasuke had his hands stuffed in his pockets, and he turned around to see Naruto.

“Hey,” Sasuke said simply.

“Yeah,” Naruto said.

“You’re not hurt are you?” Sasuke said in an extremely mocking and teasing tone. “Heh, Scaredy cat,” Sasuke said with a big smirk, looking like this was the most entertaining thing in the world.

Satya on the other hand, was actually concerned. She noticed Naruto had a cut mark from one of the shinobi’s claws, and she had previously not noticed it. “When did he get that? I should have been paying more attention” Satya mentally scolded herself.

But Sasuke’s mocking didn’t sit well with her. She hated Naruto’s obnoxiousness just as much as the next person, but she took people's well being very seriously. And she did not want them mocked, in any way, not when they could be in danger at any moment.

Naruto looked furious.

“Cut it out, Sasuke. I for one am worried for Naruto, and I’m actually a little scared that you aren’t as well”

A brief look of confusion riddled Sasuke’s face. He most definitely wasn’t used to a girl doing anything but fawning all over him, much less actively standing up to him. Although he didn’t think Naruto deserved her backing him up. After all, they were shinobi, and Naruto just stood there while they risked their lives. In fact, Satya put herself in a lot more danger fighting because Naruto was not participating, so if anything he thought she should be on his side.

Naruto still seemed furious, and started to charge at Sasuke. “SASUKE!”

“Naruto, stop!" Naruto halted the second he heard Kakashi’s voice.

“Stand still, these ninja have poison in their claws. We need to take it out of you quickly. That poison is deadly, so don’t move around, as that only spreads it” Kakashi motioned to Naruto’s hand, and Naruto seemed to panic.

“By the way, Mr. Tazuna” Kakashi said calmly.

“Yeah, what,” Tazuna said in a panicked voice.

Kakashi turned to face him. “We need to talk”

 

Kakashi tied the two ninja to a tree before speaking.

“Mr. Tazuna, in your mission request, you only asked for standard protection against thieves and whatnot. Nowhere did you mention that Ninja were involved. Had you decided not to leave out that important piece of information, we would have bumped the mission rank accordingly to B-rank or higher, and we obviously would have charged accordingly. I’m sure you have your reasons, but lying to us is simply unacceptable.” Kakashi said in a business-like tone.

 

“We’re just genin, this mission is not what we signed up for, and Naruto got hurt because of it,” Satya said sternly, a bit of venom dripping from her voice. She was not one to act harsh to a client, but this situation was an exception.

“Speaking of Naruto, I suppose we should get that checked out. Back to the village, we go then” Kakashi said simply.

 

“No way, I’m not letting this stupid cut get in the way!” Naruto exclaimed angrily.

He grabbed a kunai and thrust it deep into the back of his hand where the wound was.

“What the hell!” Satya exclaimed.

“What in the world,” Kakashi said.

“What's that idiot doing,” Sasuke said, clearly surprised.

Naruto felt the hot searing pain of being stabbed, of his blood pouring out from his hand. It hurt, it hurt like hell. But that didn’t matter. He promised, promised on the pain in his hand, that he’d never be useless again.

“I worked hard to get here, I trained all the time. No one ever believed I could be a ninja, but I promised to show them, and I won’t quit now, so there’s no way we’re going back just because of my stupid wound, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed.

Everyone was stunned.

“He’d go to those lengths, just to keep us from stopping” Sasuke mused. “Tch, that’s actually kind of impressive”

 

 

“Hey uh, Naruto, that was really cool, how you took out the poison and all but, uhhh, if you lose any more blood, you're going to die,” Kakashi stated, and Naruto paled.

“Good idea to stop the bleeding now, seriously,” Kakashi said sweetly, and Naruto lost it.

“AHHHHHH. NO NO NO NO, I'M TOO YOUNG TO LET IT END LIKE THIS, NO NO NO NO” Naruto pranced around in fear.

“Hold on, let me see,” Kakashi said.

“Wait, Sensei, let me” Satya piped up, and Kakashi looked intrigued.

Satya bent down on one knee and lifted Naruto’s hand, examining the wound.

It was actually really deep, and Satya winced.

“Oh wow, that’s actually pretty deep. Jeez Naruto, what were you thinking?” Satya said in a scolding manner.

“Well are you just gonna stand there or are ya gonna actually do something!” Naruto exclaimed in a panicked voice, fear rising with every second.

“Alright alright, just hold still,” Satya said calmly.

She formed a few hand seals, and her palms began to glow green. She placed one on top of the other on Naruto’s hand and began to heal him.

Medical ninjutsu was tricky to use, as it required immense chakra control. Right now, Satya was speeding up Naruto’s bodies natural healing process, but that was a delicate manner. Speed it up too much without giving enough chakra support to him, and his body would tire out. But give too much chakra as backup and not raise Naruto’s healing rate enough to match it and it might just make his body outright reject her treatment because of the foreign invading chakra. It was a balance that could never stop being perfected, and maintaining that balance was a hard one. But Satya was shocked to see just how quickly his wound was healing. She knew for certain that she was not good enough to be healing at this kind of level, so she had no idea what was going on.

Sasuke looked fixated on the treatment.

“So those medical books weren’t just for show then, huh. That’s good, having a medical ninja on the team gives us a good edge, even if she is just a beginner.”

Kakashi seemed impressed by the showing, and Satya finished quickly. In only 20 seconds, the wound had completely closed off, and all that remained as proof that it was ever there was the drying blood on his now healed hand.

 

“Wow, thanks Satya, that was amazing” Naruto beamed.

“No problem Naruto, although that wasn’t all me. You were regenerating at a crazy rate, I’ve never seen anything like it” Satya said with a puzzled look.

“Well, you know me, always ready to keep on going!” Naruto exclaimed.

Kakashi had this look in his eye that hinted at the idea that he knew the answer to this healing, but Kakashi never revealed anything about it.

 

The group decided to at least get Tazuna to the land of waves before deciding what they would do next. So they left for the land of waves with an excited Naruto, an annoyed Sasuke, a worried Satya, and a suspicious Kakashi. They had no idea what to expect, but none of them could guess the next few events that transpired.

Chapter Text

The thick salty fog of the sea rejuvenated Satya’s body and mind. There was something so very calming about slowly traversing the sea through the fog. The long canoe her team sat upon rowed gently with the waves in pace with the wind and fog. Satya could not say that she had ever seen such a sight in her life. Everywhere she looked, there was nothing but a canvas of blue.

Satya’s eyes drifted towards Naruto’s hand.

“How did it heal so quickly,” Satya thought perplexedly.

Sasuke seemed indifferent on the scenery, while Naruto was more outwardly expressive of his appreciation for the change of scenery. But a question lingered in the air, lingered on everyone's lips.

“What now?” Everyone silently asked in their head, and only one person tried to answer it.

Tazuna revealed that he was a master bridge builder, and a crime boss named Gato was after him. The land of waves was very poor, but Tazuna was working on building a bridge that would connect the land of waves to the mainland, allowing for trade, and setting it down the path of change. Gato didn’t like this, as he had full control over the poor country, but if the bridge was completed, his hold on the land would be weakened. With some admittedly great guilt tripping, Tazuna convinced team seven to help him. Although Kakashi was secretly a little fearful, more for his students than anything else.

“The next ninja they send will be Jonin or higher, at least A rank,” Kakashi thought worriedly. Kakashi himself could handle this, but his opponent could use his students against him. They were easy targets for a jonin, but he had to trust in himself, and in his team's teamwork.

Once finally in the land of waves, they set off on solid ground to Tazuna’s village. The group walked for a good while in comfortable silence. Satya, however, was anything but comfortable. She was paranoid about being attacked again. She studied every minute detail in panic, no leaf went unwatched, no tree bark left unexamined. She was not stupid, she was no fool. After what Tazuna said, she knew they’d be attacked again. She kept her hands loose and ready in case she needed to form seals.

Satya had a bad feeling in her stomach, like a gut instinct telling her they were in trouble. Her eyes went to Naruto. She hoped he’d maintain composure when attacked again. She knew that in order to survive he’d need to be active in the group, and for as much as it pained Satya to say it if he acted like how he acted in their last fight, she wasn’t sure if she could save him.

Her eyes then fell onto Sasuke. She was not really worried about Sasuke. They had a good synergy going, and in their last battle, it was almost like they knew what each other were thinking. They could read each other's eyes and they just knew what the other needed.

Her eyes then travelled to Kakashi, and then, she realised something. He was signalling something, something in the leaf village secret hand seal language. It read “Enemy ninja, A rank or higher, in the trees, be on guard”

Kakashi kept repeating these signs in a very concealed manner. Satya gave Sasuke a side eye, and for a fraction of a second, his black eyes met her green ones, and they both knew that each other understood the message. Satya took another look at Naruto, and she was trying to see if he understood.

To her dismay, he didn’t. The pit in her stomach returned tenfold.

“A rank or higher! And Naruto doesn’t even know. If the ninja decides to go for Naruto first, he’ll be oblivious to it and will surely be killed!” Satya’s mind panicked.

“So, they are already here,” Kakashi thought.

 

They walked a little further, and the tension between Kakashi, Sasuke and Satya was nearly palpable. She could taste her anticipation, as well as Sasuke’s. For a quick moment, she thought about how easy it would be to be like Naruto. Carefree and oblivious to the presence of an enemy ninja. How easy would it be if her heart didn’t race a thousand miles, if her stomach didn’t sink down farther then she thought possible.

The tension kept building, like a ticking time bomb.

But then, finally, the fuse finished.

“WATCH OUT!” Kakashi commanded as a massive sword soared through the air, spinning in a horizontal circle.

Satya barely had time to turn around before she ducked. The sword sliced a strand of her hair as it whizzed over her head. Had she not been anticipating an attack, she would have surely died. Kakashi had to force Naruto and Tazuna down to the ground so they weren’t sliced in half. The sword travelled upwards until it lodged itself into a tree, handle sticking outwards to the left. The sword was huge, and so was the handle.

Satya’s heart raced, and she began to feel her battle senses kicking in.

A very tall and muscular Ninja then flickered onto the hilt of the giant blade, standing on its handle with his back turned to the group. The ninja glanced backwards, revealing a bandaged mask covering his mouth and nose.

Kakashi seemed cool as a cucumber and walked up a bit before speaking.

“Well well, if it isn’t Zabuza Momochi, rogue ninja of the village hidden in the mist.”

Naruto seemed ready to attack, much to Satya’s surprise because she was anything but attack ready. She wasn’t thinking about attacking, she was thinking about surviving.

Kakashi stuck a hand out to Naruto.

“You're in the way, get back” Kakashi simply stated.

“But why?” Naruto exclaimed.

“He’s not like the other two ninja, he’s in a whole other league. If he’s our opponent.” Kakashi grabbed the downward slanted portion of his headband covering his left eye. “I’ll need this, as this could be treacherous”

Sasuke’s eyes narrowed. “ what’s he hiding under that mask.” Sasuke thought quizzically.

 

“Heh heh heh” Zabuza laughed menacingly. It was a cold laugh, a killer’s laugh.

 

“Kakashi of the Sharingan eye, did I get that right?” Zabuza said in a slightly taunting way, and Sasuke’s eyes bulged out of his head.

“It’s too bad, but you’ll have to hand over the old man” Zabuza stated.

Kakashi simply tightened his hold on his headband.

“The Sharingan!? It can’t be” Satya thought in disbelief. The Vaswani held knowledge on many things, and she distinctly remembered her parents mentioning on multiple occasions it’s power and origins.

“Now quick, mangi formation, protect the bridge builder and stay out of this fight. I taught you all teamwork, now use it” Kakashi’s voice had an inkling of panic in it. This was Zabuza Momochi, the demon of the mist. He was not an A rank ninja, no, he was an S rank one. Genin had zero place in this fight, and yet here they were

Kakashi slowly lifted his headband, revealing his left eye to be closed.

“I’m ready!” His eye opened, and his Sharingan was released. It’s red was like blood, and it’s black was like night, and it had the legendary three tomoe design.

“Well, I guess I get to see the Sharingan in action. Now this is an honour”

Sasuke shivered at it. That eye, that eye was his clans. That eye was legendary, it was used to kill many people. It was used by the Uchiha to kill hundreds of shinobi. It was used by an Uchiha, to kill every other Uchiha. How had Kakashi gotten it? It by all rights should have been impossible, so how?

“Everyone keeps saying Sharingan, Sharingan, but will someone please tell me what the hell that is,” Naruto said in a confused tone. He expected Satya or Kakashi to answer, but not Sasuke.

“Sharingan. A rare power, it resides in the eyes. The user of this visual jutsu or dojutsu can instantly see and comprehend any ninjutsu, genjutsu or taijutsu. It can read people's movements to insane degrees, and users of this dojutsu and react to nearly anything so long as they can see it. But there’s more to it than that, much more” Sasuke replied. Gone was his usual know it all or I’m too cool for this attitude. Only shock and wariness resided in him now.

 

“You got it right, but you only scratched the surface. Different sharingans have different abilities. Kakashi’s Sharingan can analyze any ninjutsu, genjutsu, or taijutsu, and copy it perfectly. “ Zabuza stated with something akin to glee.

“In fact, in the assassination unit of the hidden mist, we had a standing order to kill Kakashi on site. Your profile book was in our bingo book, it called you the man who copied over a thousand jutsu. Kakashi Hatake, the copy ninja”

Thick mist began to accumulate, making Satya’s field of vision limited.

“Wow, that's so cool, I want the Sharingan” Naruto exclaimed.

 

“No, no you don’t” Satya said in an ominous tone.

“Huh? Why?” Naruto exclaimed, and all eyes fell on Satya.

“Andhere ki aankh” Satya muttered with a shiver, but loud enough for the others to hear.

“Hey, what did you say?” Naruto asked.

“It means the eye of darkness. That’s what the Vaswani clan, my clan, calls it. Or, well, called it. It’s legendary in my clan, and it has a vast rich history, but also a very dark one” Satya said with a shutter. She didn’t know all about it, but from her vague memories, she remembered to fear it.

Sasuke glared at Satya. “Just how much does she know about my clans dojutsu?” Sasuke thought. She seemed to have a good understanding of the subject, and that made him wary.

 

“Ahhh, a member of the Vaswani clan. And here I thought you had all been whipped out. This proves to be fun” Zabuza said with anticipation.

 

“But enough talk, it’s time to get this show on the road,” Zabuza said. He kicked off the tree and grabbed his sword, pulling it out of the tree. He then sheathed it on his back and clasped his hands into a hand seal.

“Water style: Hidden Mist Jutsu,” Zabuza said darkly, and the thick mist began to accumulate further. Zabuza disappeared from sight. The three genin instantly snapped into a formation around the bridge builder. Sasuke watched the front, Naruto the right and Satya the left.

“H-he vanished!?” Naruto said in awe, and Kakashi stepped forward.

“Everyone, be on your guard. We’re dealing with Zabuza Momochi, one of the seven deadly ninja swordsmen of the mist. He’s a master of the silent killing technique. As the name suggests, it happens without sound or warning, and it’s lightning fast. He could come for any one of us at any moment, and we might never know. The Sharingan cannot fully neutralize it through this thick mist, so do not drop your guard”

Satya felt a chill run down her spine. Was it Zabuza? She had no way of knowing. No sound or sight, no smell, no touch or taste. None of their five senses could prevent this attack. What could she do? Any attempt at genjutsu would only bring attention to her, which would be fatal. The bridge builder was in the center of their mangi formation, but Satya had little faith that they could stop Zabuza from breaking it.

Satya felt helpless, helpless and scared.

 

“Well, if we fail, we only lose our lives” Kakashi stated in a very nonchalant tone.

Satya rolled her eyes.

The area became silent, deathly silent, but the mist was getting thicker and thicker. It kept getting harder and harder to see until the worst happened.

Satya lost sight of Kakashi.

 

“Eight points” Zabuza started. It sounded as though he was all around them and as if he was in every direction. “Larynx, spine, lungs, liver, jugular, subclavian artery, kidney’s, heart”

Satya gulped.

 

“Now, which will be my kill point”

Satya knew this was intimidation, but it was damn good. And it wasn’t an empty threat, she could be hit in any one of those areas instantly.

 

Kakashi formed a hand seal to cast away enough of the mist so that his students could see him again.

“Wind style: Leaf village breeze!”

Kakashi unleashed a wind jutsu pushing away part of the mist, and Satya regained sight of her sensei.

But this was serious, she could tell. The way Kakashi made those handseals, the power in his jutsu. He wasn’t joking around anymore, he was dead serious.

Sasuke could feel the tension between the two elite ninja. He could feel the energy of anticipation between the two dance it’s way into Sasuke. It was sickening, maddening even. He couldn’t wait for this, he couldn’t take this stress, this weight.

“What an intense thirst for blood,” Sasuke thought in shock. “One shallow breathe, one tiny movement of the eye, is enough to bring on instant death. If it goes on like this, I’ll go insane!” Sasuke thought. He was ready to puke, to puke and crumple under the weight that was these two jonin. The sheer amount of killer intent was something he couldn’t take.

He understood what was going on to such a high degree that he knew what was coming, what could come, how it would come, and why it would come.

Sasuke’s grip on his kunai tightened tenfold, and he was suddenly deathly fearful that he drew attention to himself. He fought his initial shock, willing himself not to make a facial expression. He started to second guess everything, every move he did, he could find a reason as to why it would draw attention to him. The feeling was bone chilling.

He felt trapped, trapped in his own skin.

“N-no, I can’t bear it” Sasuke shakily grabbed the kunai with both hands.

“I’d rather taking my own life,” He thought. It was the only way out. Sasuke was shaking, he knew it, and with each shake, he only got more scared.

 

Satya could see this in the corner of her eye, and her heart dropped. But she could do nothing. One movement, one word and she could die. She just had to sit there, sit there and watch Sasuke think himself to madness. She ached to reach out to him, it burned her very soul to stay where she was, to say nothing. It became unbearable when she saw him grip the kunai.

 

“Sasuke” Kakashi exclaimed seriously.

“Calm down. I’ll protect you with my life, all of you. I will not allow my comrades to die, trust me” Kakashi said, and Satya could feel the stress roll of Sasuke.

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Zabuza said. Before Satya could even begin to register where the sound came from, she felt a burst of speed and the vibrations of someone landing behind her.

He was behind them, behind them and ready to cleave all of them in half, the bridge builder included.

 

“It’s over!” Zabuza exclaimed, before beginning to swing his sword. Satya jumped away as fast as she could, but she knew it was not fast enough.

But in a flash, Kakashi appeared and Stabbed Zabuza in the stomach.

Relief flooded over Satya as she landed but turned into dismay when she saw that Zabuza was not leaking blood, but water.

Realisation hit Satya like a ton of bricks, and she could not remove the panic in her voice.

 

“Sensei, it’s a water clone!” Satya shouted, but it was too late. Zabuza took Kakashi’s back and cleaved him in two.

“SENSEI!” Naruto screamed.

Zabuza’s water clone dissipated into a shower of water as the real Zabuza cleaved Kakashi in two.

“DIE” Zabuza yelled.

Satya watched his upper body fly into the air, but his blood……….was actually water?

Kakashi’s entire body then turned into water, and everyone’s eyes bulged from shock.

 

Kakashi appeared behind Zabuza, kunai to his throat.

“Ahh, I see. So you used your Sharingan to analyze and copy my jutsu huh? Very clever” Zabuza said.

“However” This voice came from behind Kakashi.

“I will not be defeated by a mere copycat!” another Zabuza came from behind Kakashi and swung his sword in an arch. Kakashi ducked under it, and the sword cleaved the Zabuza in the front in half, revealing it to be another water clone. The sword then buried itself in the ground, and Zabuza pushed off it with his hand to send forth a powerful kick, launching Kakashi in the air.

Kakashi went soaring into the lake, but he flipped and landed on his feet, standing on the water.

Zabuza had already ran towards him though and swung his sword once more. Kakashi leapt over it and performed an aerial roundhouse to Zabuza’s head.

Zabuza ducked under it, and Kakashi quickly threw three kunai at Zabuza, who then blocked them with his sword. As Kakashi landed, the two jonin began to clash in close quarters combat. Sounds of metal clashing and winds being displaced as the two ninja moved at high speed could be heard, and none of the spectators were able to watch.

They were too fast to watch, Satya could barely follow it at all.

Kakashi kicked off Zabuza’s sword, and Zabuza decided to abuse the opening.

 

“Water style: Water bullet!” Satya didn’t even see the hand seals, but rather a blur of hands. Zabuza unleashed a fast-paced flurry of water bullets, but Kakashi dodged them all. His Sharingan allowed him to see it all too clearly and did not struggle to dodge it.

“Water style: Great water wave!” Zabuza used the water they were standing on to create a massive water wave, much bigger than anything Satya could dream to imitate. It hurled itself over to Kakashi, and it looked to be the end.

“Water style: Water wall!” Kakashi’s hand seals were even quicker then Zabuza’s, and the water around him surged forward to create a wall. The wave crashed into the water wall, sending water everywhere.

 

Satya watched in awe, the sheer power of these two was incredible.

Zabuza surged forward, slashing in different directions trying to hit Kakashi, but Kakashi could react to it all.

Kakashi jumped back, but this proved to be a fatal mistake.

“Water style: Hidden mist jutsu!” Mist once again formed, this time thicker than Satya thought possible.

Kakashi didn’t know where Zabuza was going with this approach. Water makes more noise then solid ground, so Kakashi would likely hear him coming. And they were in an open area, so there wasn’t anywhere to hide.

 

Ninja battles relied on strategy just as much as raw power. Like a game of chess or shogi, each player had to know what to do and when and why. Kakashi couldn’t understand what Zabuza had to gain from this mist.

Zabuza, however, showed him his plan soon enough. He emerged from underneath Kakashi, in the water, and grabbed his ankles.

“What!” Kakashi exclaimed, and he looked down to see Zabuza holding his ankles with an iron grip. What Kakashi failed to notice was that another Zabuza appeared behind him.

This was checkmate.

“Water style: Water prison!” The Zabuza who had taken Kakashi’s back formed a circular ball of water, encasing Kakashi in it. The other Zabuza let go of Kakashi in time to not get caught in the prison, and with that, the battle was over.

“There’s no way!” Naruto exclaimed.

“This isn’t good” Sasuke stated.

“Sensei, are you alright!” Satya called.

“Everyone, take the bridge builder and leave, Now! The real Zabuza has to maintain this jutsu, and his water clone is only a fraction of his full power. If you run away, you may be able to outlast him and escort the bridge builder back to the hidden leaf!” Kakashi barked out this order, panic clear in his voice.

“That’s not an option. Running away became impossible once you got caught. He'll just finish you off and then hunt us down, trying to run would be suicide” Sasuke stated, seemingly somewhat calm amidst their devastating situation.

The water clone slowly walked towards them all until he reached solid land.

“You said we had to work as a team, so that’s what we’ll do, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya was not to keen on this idea, however. This was a gamble and a big one. They would be fighting someone with way more experience, jutsu variety, physical prowess, and just about every shinobi skill. Their only advantage was that there were three of them, but would that matter? She did not wish to gamble with her teammate's lives, that just wasn't in her nature.

“NO! You can’t beat him, and besides, your mission is to protect the bridge builder at all costs!” Kakashi exclaimed through the water prison.

Everyone looked at Tazuna who was sporting a very guilty expression.

“Well, I suppose it’s my fault you all are in this mess, so don’t let me stop you from getting yourselves out of it. Go, on kids, save your sensei!’ Tazuna exclaimed.

“Kakashi sensei, you said you wouldn’t let any of us die, right? Well, that works in reverse, we're not gonna let you kick the bucket here!” Naruto exclaimed.

Kakashi’s comforting words played in her mind.

“He did say that, didn’t he? I suppose it’s only fair we return the favour. Besides, He’s important to me too, so I have to help him” Satya thought resolutely. She just prayed Naruto and Sasuke wouldn’t suffer because of this.

The water clone Zabuza laughed.

“You can’t be serious. You little brats are not ninja, you are just kids playing ninja. You think you can take me on! How insulting! I’ll teach you a lesson!” The clone Zabuza exclaimed.

“Oh, yea? We’ll see! Multi shadow clone jutsu!” 30 Naruto clones popped into existence, and they all bum rushed Zabuza.

Satya herself was weighing her options. Water style was out of the question, as she feared any water she created would be used against her. She wasn’t very good at taijutsu, but perhaps a horde of Naruto’s could get the job done.

Zabuza dissipated all the clones instantly with a huge swing of his sword, and that basically answered Satya’s question of if taijutsu would work.

The real Naruto got flung back by a kick, and Satya caught him. Sasuke seemed angered by this, and jumped up in the air, throwing 6 shuriken downwards at Zabuza.

Zabuza easily blocked all of them, and as Sasuke brought his hands crashing down towards Zabuza, Zabuza stopped the attack by grabbing Sasuke’s neck and squeezing.

 

Satya felt her heart break in two at the sight.

Naruto got off her but stumbled.

Sasuke was slammed onto the ground by Zabuza, and the impact forced blood to spew out of his mouth.

Satya’s eyes widened.

 

“No, he can’t die, he can’t, I won't allow it” Her mind screeched. She was angry, angry that death kept trying to claim those around her. She had just about enough of this.

Zabuza raised his giant sword into the air and brought it down to impale Sasuke in the face.

His sword came crashing down, and…….missed? Sasuke could feel the air blow past his face, the sword missed him by a millimetre.

“What!” Zabuza exclaimed.

A bunch of Naruto clones dog piled on Zabuza, while the real Naruto quickly jumped in and grabbed Sasuke before pulling him to safety right before Zabuza broke free of the dog pile. Sasuke clutched his stomach but got a glimpse of Satya, who had her hands in a seal.

 

“So that’s how. She saved me with a genjutsu” Sasuke thought. He came so close to death, he basically stared it down in the face. And it was terrifying. He was suddenly the helpless eight-year-old kid again, but this time, he had people who helped him.

He wasn't alone this time.

Sasuke and Satya made eye contact, and that was all Sasuke needed to express gratitude.

Zabuza straightened up, before chuckling.

 

“I see, so you used a genjutsu to make that boy’s face appear to be a few centimetres farther than it actually was, clever girl,” Zabuza said, but Satya didn’t enjoy the praise. It was more creepy than anything.

“Naruto, more clones, now” Satya ordered. She was desperate, she needed to keep these two alive and save Kakashi, and she was terrified that Sasuke came so close to dying. She had to stop this, and she didn't have time to play nice.

Naruto obliged and created more. Satya formed eight seals and began healing Sasuke’s stomach.

The Naruto clones only kept Zabuza occupied for about twenty seconds, and she knew that was all the time she could afford.

She had hardly brought Sasuke back to full speed, but he’d be able to move with less pain, and that was enough because it had to be enough.

“Naruto, one more time, we’ll tag team him with clones this time” Satya stated.

“Wait, what? You can make clones too?” Naruto exclaimed, and Satya shot him a look that said “Shut the hell up”

 

“Less talking more doing”

“Alright alright.”

“Multi shadow clone jutsu,” The two shinobi said in unison, and 40 clones of each of them sprouted on the battlefield.

 

Sasuke smirked, he knew what was going on, but he’d play along.

The clones all rushed at Zabuza, and he swung his sword taking many out. But while his sword kept killing off Naruto clones, it merely phased through Satya’s.

The shock made Zabuza lose focus, and that was their opportunity.

“NOW!” Satya roared, and all of Naruto’s clones whipped out a paper bomb and detonated it on themselves. Zabuza barely jumped in the air in time to escape, but what was troubling was that all the clones of Satya were still there as if nothing happened.

He was so perplexed, that he nearly glossed over the fireball hurling towards him.

This was the power of teamwork. They were coordinating attacks and watching each other's movements, creating openings for each other and chaining their skills to maximum efficiency. Even without verbal communication, the three of them just clicked so well that the knew what each other was thinking. Alone they stood no chance, but together, they just might pull through.

 

Zabuza formed lightning fast seals and intercepted the attack. Satya rushed over to Sasuke and poured as much chakra into her healing and chakra recovery jutsu as she could without breaking the jutsu and having it backfire on her due to lack of balance.

“Water style: Water ball!” Zabuza’s jutsu overpowered Sasuke’s and it came crashing down towards Sasuke, and subsequently Satya who was healing him.

But the two jumped out of the way just in time.

The clones of Satya sprang up and began to attack Zabuza, but they all fazed through him. As Zabuza descended down to the ground, Sasuke used the clones as cover before launching a kick at Zabuza.

Satya knew what he was doing, but she didn’t know if he could pull it off. The diversion was set up, and Zabuza was caught off guard, it really depended on if Satya healed him enough.

Sasuke’s kick got grabbed, and Sasuke got yanked into Zabuza’s elbow. Satya flinched, fearing the worst, But Sasuke narrowly dodged it by moving his head.

Sasuke then slipped a paper bomb onto Zabuza, and a tsunami of Naruto clones swarmed Zabuza in hopes of providing Sasuke with an opening to escape.

The clones were able to get Zabuza to let go of Sasuke, but only for a moment, and Zabuza surged to reclaim his hold on Sasuke.

But Sasuke did something unexpected. He detonated the paper bomb.

 

The explosion killed off the water clone, and Sasuke was far enough away for it not be fatal, but the impact was still dangerous. Sasuke was sent hurling through the air as he yelped in pain.

Satya watched in mortification.

“Sasuke!” Both Naruto and Satya yelled. Naruto had been far away from the blast, or at least, his real body was. Sasuke however, took the brunt of the blast. Sasuke landed in front of Satya’s feat, and she never squatted down faster in her life.

 

Sasuke was on his side, but she rolled him over and saw a very pained expression on him.

“Are you alright!” Satya said, her voice betraying her as it showed how truly terrified she was.

It was almost touching how much concern she had, in fact, Sasuke probably would have appreciated her concern more had he not been in excruciating pain.
The real Zabuza spoke up.

“So, they managed to take the clone out, interesting”

“I-argh-I-I'm fine. Just free Kakashi sensei” Sasuke wheezed out.

“But” Satya started.

“Do it!” Sasuke demanded, and her heart broke in two as she stood up. She had to leave a bloody and broken Sasuke on the ground. Sure it was the tactical thing to do, as The real Zabuza couldn’t form hand seals and was immobile while he had his one hand in the water prison sustaining it, but she still hated the thought of abandoning a comrade.

But this was her chance, Zabuza was left open.

“You can’t kill me, even if I am unable to move from this spot I’ll still kill you all. You think a clone of me was bad, well then try the real deal” Zabuza said with a laugh.

Satya looked back to see a bruised Naruto and a wounded Sasuke. She was left unscathed, again.

Unacceptable. She would make him pay.

Satya recalled her clones, and Zabuza finally realised that they were nothing more than a clever genjutsu.

“Smart,” He thought. “She’s good, very good. But still, no matter how good she is, she’ll never produce a jutsu fast enough to take me out.”

 

“Water style: Water chains” Satya formed her jutsu with as much power as she could muster, and chains of water sprouted from underneath Zabuza’s feet. Since he was standing on water, she could use that for her jutsu, and since she wasn’t tasked with creating her own water, she could focus on the jutsu’s potency,

 

Zabuza was stunned. She was a good distance away from where the chains were forming, and there shouldn’t have been any reasonable way for a genin to have such a mastery over a jutsu.

 

“What! She’s able to execute a water style with this much distance between her and the starting point, at her level! Impossible!” Zabuza jumped out of the way. And the chains missed their target, but that wasn’t her goal.

Checkmate.

 

“Argh, is this the chakra control of a Vaswani!? To think they raised such powerful ninjutsu users, that even a genin could use this level of ninjutsu and extend the starting range to such a degree!”

 

With Zabuza no longer holding the prison, Kakashi burst out of the water prison, eyes glaring with fury.

 

Zabuza in panic swung his sword at Kakashi, but Kakashi blocked it with the back of his hand, seemingly unfazed by the deep wound created.

Satya rushed back towards Sasuke and Naruto. Both of them were heavily bruised, and Satya was set with a dilemma.

Who does she heal?

 

Both looked at her with a pained expression. Neither one was really asking for healing, they clearly had pain written all over their faces. For someone who wished to protect everyone, having to only select one person was heartbreaking. Satya was not an experienced shinobi, she was a genin, just like them. She did not know how to hide or kill the despair she felt. It was the rush of panic that snapped her out of her pain, and deep down, she knew who was more hurt.

Satya approached a pained Sasuke who was barely sitting upright, clearly nursing a great deal of pain from the explosion. Satya frantically weaved signs before once again treating Sasuke’s wounds.

She was shaking slightly, and the only thing stopping her from shaking more violently was the fear of reducing the treatment effectiveness. But where to even start? The explosion damage tainted a good portion of his body, and Satya was definitely not skillful enough to perform a widespread full body healing jutsu.

She decided to focus on his chakra, and redirect her and his chakra into healing his upper body.

Satya did not care to look back and witness the two jonin fighting, she did not turn when she felt the power of chakra take shape into the water behind her. She did not react to the noises of jutsu or the clash of metal.

It was strange, Sasuke and Naruto were the ones beaten up the most, but it was she who panicked the most. She was able to keep her emotions at bay back when the two chunin attacked them, but then again, Sasuke didn’t blow himself up in that encounter. But that encounter left a mark on her, it scared her, but she suppressed it’s hold on her. But it built up, and exploded during this fight, mixing with the stress of Zabuza, and she cracked. She was still composed enough to function, and she was still performing high-level medical ninjutsu for her level and age because Satya refused to let her fear impact her performance, but it sure as hell impacted her mental state.

 

Naruto made some noises of astonishment as he watched the fight, and Sasuke seemed amazed as well, but Satya couldn’t care less, all she cared about was healing her teammates.

Eventually, a ginormous vortex slammed into a tree nearby, carrying Zabuza with it. Its power was so fierce that even Satya couldn’t ignore it.

As she whipped around, eyes hardened and hands tensed but not finished healing, she saw Zabuza slumped down in pain.

Kakashi appeared in front of him. And Zabuza paled.

“It can’t be! Can you see through the future!?” Zabuza roared.

“I can indeed, and I foresee….your death!” Kakashi exclaimed, but right before he released his kunai, two senbon pierced Zabuza right in the neck, and the light left from Zabuza’s eyes.

Kakashi’s eyes squinted.

“What the hell?” Naruto exclaimed.

“Who?” Sasuke said, finally sitting up fully.

Satya’s breath hitched.

A masked girl, roughly Satya’s age, appeared from a tree.

“You have my thanks for taking out Zabuza, I’ve been tracking him for quite some time now,” The masked ninja said cooly.

“I see. So judging by your mask, I’d say your a tracker ninja from the village hidden in the mist’ Kakashi said.

 

“Impressive, you are very perceptive. I am Indeed a hidden mist tracker ninja” The masked girl said with a bow.

“Wait a minute, why strike now,” Sasuke said.

“I simply didn’t catch up to Zabuza until this very moment,” the masked ninja said almost immediately.

“Well then, I suppose our work is done,” Kakashi said.

“Yes, yours is done, but mine is only beginning,” The masked ninja said as she picked up Zabuza’s body, before using the body flicker to evacuate the area.

All of them were a little stunned as to what happened, but Naruto just seemed clueless.

“Wait, what just happened?” Naruto exclaimed.

 

“I’ll explain later, right now we need to get to the bridge builder’s house and tend to everyone’s wounds,” Kakashi said.

“Wait,” Satya said, her voice finally evening out.

“Give me ten more minutes to heal Sasuke, then we’ll move. I don’t think I’ll be able to heal him if we’re on the move” Satya said.

 

“Good call Satya” Kakashi praised.

“Oh, and to all of you” Kakashi started, face breaking out to a big smile.

“Excellent teamwork, you guys are truly remarkable students,” Kakashi said with pride.

“See, didn't I tell ya, we’re the best, believe it!’ Naruto exclaimed.

Everyone laughed at that. It was such a well-timed stress relief after a dangerous situation. It was so well timed, that even Sasuke laughed a little.

Satya could see now what Kakashi meant by teamwork.

And you know what.

She did trust her teammates with her life.

The passing battle ensured that.

Chapter Text

The group made it to Tazuna’s house within the hour, and relief flooded over them once they stepped inside. Sasuke had outright refused the notion of being carried, so he just had his arm slung over Kakashi’s shoulder. Due to the height difference, the scene was almost comical. Satya couldn’t say she was surprised by this, Sasuke had been prideful before as well, but it didn’t mean she agreed with it. Satya didn’t ponder too much on this, mostly because she was nervous throughout the entire trip to Tazuna’s house.

The fight with Zabuza shook her to her core. She watched Sasuke nearly get stabbed in the face, Zabuza's gigantic sword mere millimetres from landing a fatal blow. Naruto had been kicked around relentlessly, and she could never forget that killer laugh. For all her knowledge, she was still just a 12-year-old girl, ninja or no ninja. She was not used to this like Kakashi was, the feeling of being hunted was not second nature to her as it is with all higher ranked ninja. She was far from the leaf villages safe walls, far from the academy, or the library, or any familiar, comforting location. She was in uncharted territory, fearing for both her team's life and her own. The entire walk was torture, each passing moment just adding more tension to her terrified mind. She tried to hide it, and she was mostly successful, but Satya did not let Kakashi’s analytical glances slip by. He knew, he could see through her, and Satya hated it. However, she expected a jounin like him to pick up on her stress, but what was more concerning was that Sasuke seemed to be aware as well. She didn’t want to seem weak, not in front of her team, but Sasuke just had a knowing look in his eyes.

As they entered Tazuna’s house, they were greeted by his daughter who introduced herself as Tsunami. Sasuke occupied the couch as the team decided he needed the most rest, and the group began telling Tsunami what had happened. Tsunami promptly thanked them, but Satya was only half paying attention. She still felt like she was being watched, like there were eyes all around the house, studying her every movement. She still felt that feeling, that feeling of anticipation while waiting for an attacker to strike and send her to the afterlife.

“Is this what Sasuke felt?” Satya thought as her mind drifted to the image of Sasuke's visible stress in the thick mist.

She felt like she was drowning, drowning in anticipation. She needed something to ground her, something to just calm her down. The group was talking, but the topic alluded Satya. But she couldn’t wait any longer, she needed relief and she needed it now.

“Can I brew some tea?” Satya asked when there was a pause in the conversation.

“Of course! Feel free to use whatever you like!" Tsunami said with a smile.

 

Satya wanted to get up and sprint to the kitchen right then and there. She was dying to brew it, dying to calm herself. Her clan was big on tea, and it had always been Satya’s failsafe. Tea always calmed her down, and some of Satya’s fondest memories was her family sitting together and talking over a cup or two of tea. She wanted to race into the kitchen, but she didn’t. She couldn’t seem desperate. So she got up at a reasonable place, but an idea came to her.

“Who else wants some?” Satya asked in a hopeful tone.

“Uhhhhh, me I guess?” Naruto said. it was more of a question than an answer. Satya was visibly elated by his answer. She hadn’t shared a cup with anyone in a long time, and the idea of having tea with someone once more struck a deep, nostalgic chord in Satya’s heart.

“I’ll pass,” Sasuke said plainly, and down went Satya’s previous joy. No one had ever really denied drinking tea with her, mostly because tea was very valued in her clan, so Satya wasn’t used to the idea of someone not wanting tea. Perhaps she was taking it too personally, but she very much valued family time. Perhaps they weren’t family, but they were a team and Satya always wanted to bond with as many people as she could, because the ability to do so with her parents was stripped from her at a young age.

“I suppose I could use a cup,” Kakashi said.

Satya simply nodded and made her way to the kitchen. Three out of four was good, but she would have preferred a perfect four. Nevertheless, Satya entered the kitchen, and she promptly flew through the cupboards. She was desperate to calm down, but it was hard. She hated leaving her back to open space, as it always felt like Zabuza would fill up that space. It felt as though he was there, behind her, ready to strike. She remembered the cold feeling of Zabuza appearing behind her, and it was one she hated.

 

Satya kept checking behind her, and each time she did her heart jumped just a little. She was looking for some specific ingredients, as she hoped to make a special clan brew, but alas, they were absent from Tazuna’s limited spice cupboard.

She had to settle on peppermint tea. Normally, she would have been far more disappointed, but right now she just needed relief, and she couldn’t care less about what kind of tea it was. She brewed the tea with a sense of desperation and returned to the group in record time.

She handed Kakashi his cup first.

“Peppermint?” Kakashi inquired.

“Not my first choice, but not my last” Satya admitted as she handed Naruto a cup. Naruto looked like he had just found a new earth shattering, mind blowing jutsu.

“Hey, uh, what is this stuff?” Naruto asked.

“What, you never heard of tea?” Sasuke said sarcastically.

Naruto stuck out his tongue. “So what if I haven’t, huh? Why do you care!?”

 

Satya simply rolled her eyes and sipped. She felt her anxiousness washing away as the hot liquid flowed down her throat.

“I’ve about had it with you two and your stupid fights!” Tazuna exclaimed.

Kakashi seemed to agree.

 

The group talked a little more, and Satya found herself relaxing more and more with each passing second. Now this, this felt like home.

Of course, Kakashi promptly ruined the feeling when he unloaded some bad news onto them.

“So, I guess there’s really no way to properly break this to everyone, So I suppose I’ll just come out and say it,” Kakashi said.

 

Naruto gave him a confused look, Sasuke thinned his eyes at Kakashi, and Satya took a big sip of her tea.

“Zabuza’s not dead”

 

Satya lurched forward and had to stop herself from spitting out her tea.

“What!? But how? We saw that ninja lady kill him!” Naruto exclaimed.

“For once, I agree with the dobe. He died right in front of us” Sasuke said, getting up from his lying position.

“Do not believe everything you see,” Kakashi said sagely.

“You see, that ninja was an elite tracker ninja from the village hidden in the mist. But there’s a problem. Tracker ninja usually destroy the body immediately, yet the ninja we saw chose to relocate it. Why? And remember the ninja tool she used?” Kakashi said.

“Senbon, no way,” Sasuke said simply with a hint of realization.

“Exactly. Senbon are rarely ever used to kill because they are so thin and small. Why did she not opt to use a kunai or shuriken? Why break the standard code of destroying the body on sight? I’ll tell you why, because she was not aiming to kill Zabuza, she was aiming to incapacitate him” Kakashi said, and Satya felt her heart lurch.

“I’m gonna need more tea,” Satya thought.

“So then what’s our next course of action” Sasuke asked.

Satya was amazed he could be so calm about this. It was true that the logical reaction would be to plan their next move, but Satya needed at least a minute to process their current situation. Not Sasuke though, he didn’t seem phased much at all. Satya admired that.

“Straight to the point, good” Kakashi said.

“It’s simple, we train” Kakashi stated simply, and Naruto seemed pumped by that statement.

 

“Hold on, I doubt some last minute training is going to help us defeat Zabuza,” Satya said. She didn’t want to fight him, not again, not after what happened last time. She could still vividly see Sasuke detonating the paper bomb, and she would never un-hear his pained voice after the explosion.

 

“Satya, we only beat Zabuza because you all helped. You guys have all grown, and your teamwork is remarkable.” Kakashi said.

“You, Naruto, have grown the most” Kakashi stated.

“So you finally noticed huh? See, everything’s gonna be fine, believe it!”

“I don’t believe it, and Nothings going to be good!” A voice piped up from behind them, and they all turned around to see a kid, no older than eight, with an almost angry look on his face

“Inari,” Tazuna said cheerfully.

“Grandpa, your back!” Inari cheered as he ran up and jumped into Tazuna’s arms.

“Inari, that was very rude. These ninja helped protect your grandpa!” Tsunami scolded.

“mom, don’t you see, these ninja are going to get wiped out once Gato and his men come for them,” Inari said.

“Excuse me. We’re not gonna let no Gato guy get us. I’m a super ninja, and I ain’t letting that happen!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Loser” Sasuke coughed.

“You don’t understand, it’s pointless. If you want to live, you should leave!’ Inari said angrily before running up the stairs.

Satya just blanked for a moment, while Naruto was fuming.

Things only got more wild from there.

 

-----------------------------

Satya couldn’t sleep. Images of Zabuza still haunted her. She twisted and turned, but there was no position in the world that could offer her the comfort she needed to go to sleep. Satya rubbed her eyes. The darkness was unsettling. Zabuza could be lurking around, hell he could be standing right beside her, and Satya wouldn’t be able to tell. A chill ran up her spine.

Satya got up and made her way to the door. She exited her room, ninja stealth skills in full effect. She wasn’t amazing at stealth, but she was adequate enough at it. She crept down the stairs, constantly looking behind her, checking every direction for Zabuza.

She knew she should be sleeping, but it was pointless. All she needed to do was reach her bag and take out her new book. Then, she’d read until her eyes burned and she would have no choice but to sleep.

Getting to her bag was easier said than done, as the lack of sight felt all too familiar to Zabuza's mist jutsu.

Satya made her way to the living space, and she was nearly home free.

But then she heard a noise.

Satya’s hands never formed seals faster. heart racing and blood pumping, she turned to the couch, hands clasped together in the final seal required for a water style attack. Her chakra was riled up, and she was ready. She wouldn’t be caught off guard, not again. She wouldn’t be killed, that was something she’d make sure of.

“Satya” someone hissed in a whisper, and Satya froze.

“Sasuke?” Satya asked, voice riddled with confusion.

“What are you doing?" Sasuke asked in a hushed tone.

Satya was startled, blood still pumping. “I could ask you the same thing!” Satya said in a very defensive tone. It was clear she didn’t want to seem scared.

Sasuke rolled his eyes in the dark.

“Can’t sleep?” Sasuke asked simply.

“Yea” Satya admitted softly, and Sasuke only grunted tsked in response.

A calm silence fell.

“Your scared” Sasuke said simply in a matter-of-fact tone.

Satya hugged herself and bit her lip. She couldn’t lie, he had been onto her since the two chunin ambushed them.

“How are you not?” Satya exclaimed through a whisper.

Sasuke shrugged, and Satya made it out through the darkness.

“I’ve seen worse” Sasuke stated darkly. He regretted saying it because now she’d ask about it and he’d be forced to think about that day for the rest of the night.

But Satya didn’t ask, because she could tell it was touchy.

“I won’t ask,” Satya said, and Sasuke sighed. He was glad she didn’t. It was almost as if she knew, somehow, that he didn’t want to think about it. She seemed to get him, and he didn’t know how to feel about that.

“A ninja shouldn’t be scared for their life,” Sasuke said. “If you can’t handle the pressure, you should quit now”

Satya inhaled as she brought her thumbnail to her lip. “Would you believe me If I said I’m not so much scared for my life as I am for all of yours?” Satya said in a soft, frightened tone.

Another round of silence.

“Why?” Sasuke asked.

“You’d probably understand better than anyone. Having everything, then losing all of it, it makes your priorities change,” Satya said. Her throat hurt, it hurt because she had a pit in her throat like what you got when you were trying to hold back a sob. Oh, Sasuke knew, he definitely knew. He knew that pain all too well. But it shifted his priorities to revenge, yet it seemed revenge wasn't on Satya's mind. So just what were her priorities?

“How do you do it? How are you so calm about this?” Satya asked.

 

“Because I’m going to face far worse than Zabuza, my goal demands that. And I WILL complete my goal, so I can’t let this affect me” Sasuke said.

Satya sighed.

She wasn’t as strong as Sasuke, she wasn’t as fearless. He seemed to be determined to get what he wanted, and he was more than ready to face whatever life threw at him head on because he had one thing on his mind and would ensure that he got it.

“As I said, if you can’t take it, leave,” Sasuke said.

“I won’t do that” Satya replied with a sense of confidence she hadn’t had moments ago.

“Hmph.” Was all Sasuke said?

 

“I wouldn’t leave you guys to fight Zabuza when I can help,” Satya said.

“Even when fighting leaves you like this?” Sasuke asked.

“Yes,” Satya said simply. Sasuke was confused.

 

“Why is she so hellbent on helping? Is she really more scared for our lives then she is for hers?” Sasuke wondered.

“You do what you want,” Sasuke said.

Satya just rolled her eyes.

“Just……don't die,” Sasuke said that last bit in a more softer tone. It was almost like a request. Did he care if she died? It sounded like he did.

Sasuke, deep down, knew he needed this team. They were the closest thing he’s had to a remedy to his broken heart. But he didn’t want to be questioned on it, he didn't want to admit it. Because admitting he cared meant admitting he was hurting and he would never do that.

But Satya didn’t comment on it like he thought she would. That was twice now that she left Sasuke be.

“I won’t,” Satya said resolutely, in an almost comforting manner. It had confidence to it, and that’s exactly what Sasuke wanted to hear. She seemed to understand him, she seemed to know what he needed, and in a way, he sort of knew her that way as well.

“But, you can’t die either, deal?” Satya asked.

“Fine” Sasuke stated simply.

More silence.

“Wait, why are you up?” Satya asked.

“Hard to sleep through the pain,” Sasuke said simply. Satya felt her heartbreak.

“I….I can try to continue to treat it?" Satya offered.

“Don’t waste your chakra, you’ll only keep yourself awake even longer?” Sasuke said. There were two things Satya got from this. One, that Sasuke was still prideful and didn’t want to admit that he needed help, and two, that he had at least some concern for her well being.

“Better me than you,” Satya said, weaving seals.

Sasuke made a noise of disapproval.

After she spent a good portion of her chakra, they both headed back to their respective rooms. In the end, neither of the two genin ended up falling asleep at a respectable time, although really, they both expected as much.
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Team seven spent the next day just recuperating and licking their wounds. Satya slipped in some healing sessions, although she needed a break as well. Eating with Inari was…….interesting. Tsunami picked up some herbs for Sasuke that seemed to do the trick. Satya recognized the herbs and was surprised to see that the land of waves grew them.

Kakashi explained that they’d be training tomorrow as they wouldn’t have too much time before Zabuza showed up.

Sleeping wasn’t as much of an issue as before. Granted, it still took Satya way longer than it should have, but her “talk” with Sasuke seemed to help somewhat.

After their relaxation day, the group moved straight onto training. They all went into a forest near the small village.

“Alright! So what are we gonna do today Kakashi sensei!?” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya herself was actually very excited to see what Kakashi had planned for them.

“It’s simple really, all you guys are going to do is climb some trees,” Kakashi said nonchalantly.

“Wait, what!? What kind of lousy training is that?!” Naruto burst out.

“The dobe’s right for once, how’s climbing some trees going to help us?” Sasuke seemed irritated by this news as if he was expecting something more.

Satya couldn’t say she understood the method to her Sensei’s madness either.

“I have to agree with the others, how is climbing trees going to help us against Zabuza?” Satya said. They were pressed for time, and she was ready to work herself to the bone because she knew exactly what was coming, and she swore she’d be ready this time around. She was scared, sure, but Sasuke’s determination to fulfill his goal inspired her. If she wanted to protect others, there’d be no time for hesitation.

“Woah Woah, slow down everyone, you didn’t even let me finish,” Kakashi said as he rubbed the back of his head.

“Before I was so rudely interrupted, I was going to inform you all that there’s one little catch” Satya’s eyebrows rose, Naruto leaned forward and Sasuke’s eyes thinned.

Kakashi lifted up his hands. “No hands” He stated simply.

“Huh!?” Naruto said, clearly surprised.

“Oh god, it’s physical labour isn’t it?” Satya deadpanned. Her voice sounded defeated even though it was all in her head. Satya loathed physical work as it was not her area of expertise.

 

“You kidding, right?” Sasuke said in a half monotone half sarcastic tone.

 

“Am I?" Kakashi said as he walked towards a tree, before literally walking on top of the tree as if it was the easiest thing he’s ever done.

“What the heck!” Naruto said in a surprised tone.

Kakashi stood upside down from a branch, his feet sticking to the tree as if he were standing normally.

“Well, you get the idea. Focus your chakra towards the souls of your feet, and then use it to connect to the tree. This is one of many ways to apply the power of chakra” Kakashi explained.

“Hold on a second! How the heck is this gonna help us!?" Naruto said, clearly baffled.

“This is the only way to help you guys. Firstly, you’ll learn to draw a precise amount of chakra to a precise point in your body. Secondly, this training will teach you how to keep a steady flow of chakra to that precise point in your body, all while managing the precise amount. The bottoms of the feet are the hardest parts to focus chakra into. If you all can master this, then precise chakra control should become second nature to you all. If you all succeed, then mastering new jutsu should become a lot easier, and performing jutsu will become second nature, almost like breathing or standing.” Kakashi explained from atop the tree.

He threw three kunai at them, each one landing in front of one of the three genin’s feet.

“Use the kunai knife to mark the tree at the highest point you can climb without using your hands. Then, try to get past that mark the next time, and then the next, and then the next time after that, and then so on and so forth. At first, you will all need to run at the tree so your momentum will carry you as high as possible” Kakashi exclaimed.

“Well, I guess this isn’t too bad. It requires chakra control, so maybe I’ll learn this quick and it won’t be so tiring” Satya thought optimistically.

Naruto picked up is kunai knife. “Alright, I’m ready! This is gonna be no sweat, believe it! Remember what you said Sensei? I’m the one who’s grown the most!”

Sasuke rolled his eyes, and Satya picked up her knife.

“Your definitely the one who talks the most, now be quiet and do it” Kakashi commanded.

The three genin stood still for a moment, gathering their chakra. Then, Satya heard Naruto exclaim “Charge!” before running towards the tree.

Satya followed suit. She gathered the chakra in her feet. As she took two steps on the tree, she could feel the bark of the tree give away to the force of her chakra. Satya quickly adjusted the amount of chakra she focused mid step accordingly and adjusted it a few more times with each step. After about three more steps, Satya found the right ratio she was looking for.

“Got it!" She thought with a smirk. She climbed higher and higher, running up the tree with her feet. It was an interesting feeling, but definitely a fun one. The feeling of her chakra sticking to the tree, the constant focusing of energy, it all felt so right to perform. Satya heard a yelp beside her, and she looked downwards while running to see Naruto fall flat on his head. Sasuke jumped back off the tree after putting too much chakra into the tree, breaking the outer bark. Satya came up to a branch, and she was feeling adventurous. She needed to push herself, so she decided to test if she could stay stuck to the tree while upside down like Kakashi.

As she reached the underside of the branch, Satya realized it wasn’t any harder than climbing up the tree itself. It was very weird, feeling gravity try and push you down while you used your chakra to try and combat the force by holding your ground with your chakra. The constant pull of gravity was almost straining on the body, in a sense.

 

“Hey guys, are you alright?” Satya called from high up.

All three ninja looked up to see Satya perfectly hanging from the underside of a branch just like Kakashi. The two genin looked shocked, while Kakashi seemed impressed.

“Well, would you look at that. It seems the kunoichi of the group is the one with the best chakra control, very good Satya” Kakashi complemented.

Satya smiled as she lifted one foot off the branch, testing her control.

“Well, you were right about one thing Kakashi sensei, this does take chakra control. I’ve never felt anything like this” Satya remarked. It was clear she was fascinated by this type of chakra application.

“Way to go Satya! I always knew you were awesome!, believe it!” Naruto called. Sure, he was jealous, but he was still happy to see his teammate do well.

Satya was touched that Naruto complimented her. She didn’t want to make him feel jealous, so she was happy to see he wasn’t put off.

 

“Tch, Whatever,” Sasuke said in an annoyed tone as he looked away from Satya, clearly a little angry.

Satya’s eyes softened. Had she been too pompous? She hadn’t meant to show off, really, she hadn’t, but she supposed it might have come off that way.

“Well, it seems you two have some work to do if you want to catch up to Satya,” Kakashi said to the two boys. Sasuke scowled and Naruto huffed.

“Way to rub it in,” Satya thought.

The two boys began trying to climb with newfound gusto. Sasuke was leagues ahead of Naruto, much to the blonde's frustration.

“Satya” Kakashi called. “I want to see you climb up this tree back and forth a few more times with as much speed as possible”

“Alright” Satya replied simply, seemingly more interested in how the boys were doing.

Satya ran down and up the tree three more times, each time she stepped she felt her feet magnetically click on the tree bark, and the sensation still felt weird to her. Nevertheless, she made record time, and on her final trip down, she could see Kakashi had something to say.

“Alright, that’s enough. It’s clear to me that your chakra control is already exceptional, that much is to be expected from someone from the Vaswani clan” Kakashi said, of course, he had said the clan name wrong, but Satya didn’t really mind at the moment.

 

“However, you seem to have one fatal flaw, so you’ll be training on that” Kakashi said.

“No” Satya internally panicked.

 

“We need to get you more physically fit”

Satya knew it was too easy.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Satya spent the last hour and a half doing gruelling, painful exercises. She was sweating a good amount, and her skin felt like it was on fire. Every muscle in her body hurt, and her legs felt like jello. Kakashi had her do push-ups, squats, punching and kicking exercising, and he even spared with Satya, which he was doing at that very moment.

Satya saw a roundhouse kick coming, clearly slowed down and telegraphed by Kakashi. Satya should have ducked, but she didn’t trust her legs to withstand her weight at that moment. So she pushed Kakashi’s foot up with her palm as it came to her head. She was relieved, but then Kakashi spun around and in the blink of an eye she was sent flying into a tree from a simple push.

Satya slumped down from the tree in exhaustion, panting heavily.

“Alright Satya, that's enough for now. Take a break” Kakashi said, and Satya had never been more relieved in her life.

She turned to her left to see Sasuke panting heavily on one knee, while Naruto was lying down much like her, also panting.

Sasuke sprang up and tried to climb the tree again. Satya noticed he made some progress. Naruto followed after, and it became apparent that Naruto was not making very good progress.

 

“I’ve never been so tired in my life. How can those two keep going like that?” Satya thought.

Naruto fell back on his head again, and he once more yelped in pain.

“Poor Naruto. He doesn’t seem to be doing so well. He might just give up soon and throw a fit, not that I blame him” Satya thought. She too was fed up, and was currently holding a little grudge against Kakashi, so she understood Naruto’s frustration.

But his outburst never came, but something else did instead.

Naruto walked up to Satya.

“Psssst. Hey Satya, Your good at this, right? Can ya give me some advice?” Naruto whispered, and Satya was more shocked than anything.

 

“But please, don’t tell Sasuke I asked, pretty please?” Naruto pleaded.

“Oh, alright,” Satya said.

“Well, you have to concentrate first. Take a minute to just rile up your chakra and really feel it move towards your feet. There’s a certain amount of potency and ratio of chakra you need to stick to the tree. Try and see how much chakra you can use before breaking the wood, and then once you found that, just use a little less. You have to get a feeling for the resistance of the wood, and then try and focus on your feet. Don’t worry about anything else other than the chakra in your feet and how the bark is holding up. You don’t need to use your chakra for anything else too, so riling up all the chakra in all parts of your body is just wasteful”

Satya tried to give him as many pointers as possible so that he’d stop falling on his head. Partially because she was worried for him and partially because she knew she’d have to be the one to heal him.

Satya could see Sasuke was staring at them. Satya would definitely offer advice to Sasuke, but only if he asked. Maybe she would have actually sought him out had he not been cold to her earlier.

She only got about 15 more minutes of break before Kakashi said it was time to continue. Satya felt like she was at death’s door.

“Kakashi sensei, I can’t keep this up,” Satya said breathlessly.

“That’s exactly what we’re trying to fix,” Kakashi said with a smile, and Satya rolled her eyes.

 

Satya felt like she had gone to hell early.

 

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Four hours later and Satya was healing herself. She was trying to refill her stamina through medical ninjutsu. There was a problem, however. When a ninja was tired, their grip on their chakra became less firm. Fatigue often led Ninja to get sloppy with their chakra control, and thus leading to a lot of chakra wastage just to achieve satisfactory results. Satya was no different. She could barely breathe, so trying to focus on her chakra was nearly impossible, which made her treatment substantially less potent than usual.

 

Satya could only imagine what it was like for the boys, who had to think about chakra control and deal with fatigue at the same time, and without healing. Satya also got frequent breaks, while the boys just kept going. She sighed a heavy sigh. The sky was an orange-purple hue, and it made her want to just lie down and go to bed.

She glanced over to see Naruto and Sasuke climbing. Naruto was still behind Sasuke, but he was progressing at a faster rate, and it showed. Sasuke jumped down, and he seemed shaken by Naruto’s progress. He looked like he was thinking about something like he was deciding if he should do something.

 

He looked back and forth between Naruto and Satya a few times, seemingly indecisive.

Satya caught his eye, and they stared for a little. Satya simply made a quick head motion as if to call him to come, and Sasuke hesitantly came up to her.

 

“Hey, uh, Satya.” Sasuke started, hands in his pockets. He was almost, nervous?

 

Satya responded.

“Yea?” She said, gasping for air a little.

“You, uh, told Naruto some advice before. So….what did you say” Sasuke asked as he looked away?

Satya just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

 

“Wow, I’m flattered. The great Sasuke Uchiha asking me for help?” She said teasingly, and Sasuke’s eye twitched with irritation as he let out a frustrated growl.

Satya simply laughed, and it was somehow very melodic to Sasuke.

She put her hands up. “I’m kidding, I'm kidding!” She said with a smile between chuckles.

Sasuke sighed.

Her eyes softened, and she spoke softly. “Try to focus on how your chakra feels in your feet. Just feel it flowing towards your feet, and only to your feet. Don’t rile up your chakra anywhere else, otherwise, it gets too hard to manage.” Satya said.

“Thanks,” Sasuke muttered quietly while looking down.

“No problem” Satya replied with a smile. Sasuke was glad she was willing to share. She didn’t have to, and he WAS cold to her earlier. He hadn’t felt cared for in a very long time, and it was clear Satya did care. He liked the feeling, missed it almost.

“Oh, and Satya,” Sasuke said.

“Hmm?” Satya’s head perked up.

“Try not to be so tense when fighting Kakashi Sensei. Only tense up when you make contact, and only tense up the part that's making contact” Sasuke said.

“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind” Satya responded.

Sasuke just nodded and left.

She was touched, really, that Sasuke cared enough to help her out. She could see he was out of his comfort zone, but he made the effort.

As she watched him climb, she remembered his determination the night before. He was dedicated on seeing his goal through. She should be more like him, more ready fight. His attitude inspired her. He worked for what he had, but he did not flaunt it. She decided to be more like Sasuke. So when Kakashi called for her to spar once more, she did not complain, neither internally nor externally. After all, there would be no corners to cut against Zabuza.

Chapter Text

Training continued with a zero slowing down policy as per Kakashi’s orders. The boys seemed to fall into a sense of rivalry, both of them trying to one-up each other in everything they did. Whether that be eating, tree climbing, getting up early, you name it, they would fight over who could do it better. Satya herself was more focused on surviving her training.

“Satya, I’m going to make a change to your training” Kakashi stated. Satya whipped her head towards Kakashi after looking at both boys climbing trees.

“No more physical work?” Satya said hopefully.

“Sorry, but no” Kakashi said simply, and Satya deflated.

“But, we are going to focus more on fighting with ninja tools. Building up your durability, strength and stamina to overall improve your hand to hand combat will take too long and won’t take into effect before Zabuza strikes” Satya shivered at the mention of Zabuza.

“But fighting with ninja tools will circumvent this” Kakashi finished. Satya considered what Kakashi was proposing, and after a bit of thinking, she found his logic to be genius, really. An average teenage girl would never be able to beat a normal man in his prime, but give that girl two swords and things become very different. In that sense, Satya could abuse the power gained by fighting with a weapon to negate her physical deficiencies. Maybe she wouldn't be fast, or strong, but she’d be armed. An attacker unarmed would have to be wary of the weapon, even if she is slow, because she didn’t need to land a big blow with the weapon to get good results, and power wasn’t needed nearly as much if said weapon could just cut through the person.

“Of course, We are still going to improve your physical capabilities, but hand to hand combat will be ignored, for now,” Kakashi stressed that last part out.

 

“ARRRRGGHHH” A certain blonde shinobi yelled as he charged up a tree. Satya turned around to watch as Naruto climbed up and up. He still was far from the top of the tree, but he had made good progress, and it had only been a day.

 

Sasuke was sitting on a branch above all of them.

 

“Satya, try not to faint from exhaustion” Sasuke called in a coy, arrogant yet playful voice from up above. The smirk hid a sense of encouragement as well, almost as if Sasuke was daring her to prove him wrong because he wanted her to get better. Sasuke wondered if Satya would understand this.

Apparently, she did.

“So long as you don’t fall from that oh so dangerous tree” Satya replied with a knowing smirk. Sasuke just tsked and rolled his eyes, but it was futile because he was still smiling a little. She seemed to get the underlying message, and didn’t take offence to his comment. Had it been Naruto, he would have thrown a fit. No one seemed to really understand Sasuke’s way of thinking, no one but Satya.

Satya could literally feel Kakashi smiling through his mask. Training went on, and Satya began sparring with kunai knives. She would do a warm-up consisting of exercises like push-ups, squats and such before she practiced with her kunai. The kunai was light so she could swing fast, and it didn’t drain her stamina very much. She also practices throwing shuriken and kunai. And of course, when she got too tired to continue, she’d heal herself as much as possible to speed up her stamina recovery time. That way, she was training her medical ninjutsu and by extension her chakra control, as well as her bodies physical capabilities and her skill with ninja tools.

Whenever she was unfortunate enough to have to spar Kakashi, she always left the battle feeling like jello, mostly because Kakashi did not go easy on her. But she was improving, that much was certain.

Satya ducked under a swipe from Kakashi and unleashed a flurry of fast-paced kunai slashes. Her sensei thrust his hand to her right side, and she tried to intercept, but as it turned out, it was merely and distraction to expose her left side, and it worked. A kick followed, and she was sent on the ground.

“Never focus all of your attention on one thing” Kakashi scolded as she got up and launched three shuriken at him. He caught each one.

Satya felt Sasuke’s eyes on her, and suddenly she felt an overwhelming urge to do better.

“If I won’t get better for myself, then I should at least get better for my team,” She thought. She needed to cover them more, wanted to. Sasuke wanted her to get better, and probably believed she could, so she could not let them down, Sasuke most definitely included.

Satya threw a kunai at Kakashi while running at him. Kakashi blocked the throwing knife with the shuriken he caught previously. Satya jumped to the side, launching two more kunai. Kakashi simply sidestepped them, but Satya rushed forward. She slid on the ground and tried to hit a kick to Kakashi’s hip. Kakashi caught her leg, but Satya tried to stab his arm. His other arm caught her striking arm, but Satya had one free hand with a kunai and went to stab him again. With both arms occupied, Kakashi let go of both and hopped back. Satya threw both kunai at him, which got dodged once more.

 

This all continued for hours and days. The three genin pushed themselves to their limit each day, and each day their limits increased. Satya’s sleeping became much easier, mostly because she was just too tired to be afraid or worried.

Tea time was still an everyday occurrence, hell it happens more than once every day. She had a cup when she woke up, one after dinner and one before bed. Apparently, this was not normal, which was news to Satya.

“What are you, addicted to tea or something,” Sasuke said in a mocking tone, hands in his pockets.

“What, are you a coffee person?” Satya asked.

“I’m a training person,” He said simply.

“Your a bore is what you are,” Satya said with a sip, and Sasuke rolled his eyes, flicked his hair and looked away. But still, he was smiling. It was ever so faint, every so tiny, but it was there. He enjoyed the banter. These were the things he never got to do. His family was taken away when he was too young to have light banter with someone, and he wondered if having a family when you were mature was like this. Playful banter, playing on each other's personalities because you would know each other, having fun for the sake of being together. He couldn’t talk to Naruto like this, or Kakashi sensei, but he could go back and forth with Satya for hours if he really wanted.

 

“And your so weak you can’t last more than 15 minutes before dropping to the ground,” Sasuke said as he sat down at a table where Kakashi was playing cards with Tazuna.

“And you can’t even get high up enough on a tree to drop down to the ground in the first place” Satya retorted.

Yes, this was family, this was what he lacked.

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Fast forward a week, and Naruto, as well as Sasuke, reached the top of the largest trees in the forest. That was a fact Naruto would just not let them forget.

“See how Awesome I am! Zabuza going down for sure!” Naruto exclaimed, but Inari begged to differ.

“You don’t understand, Gatou can’t be stopped, why won’t you listen!” Inari exclaimed.

“Because I don’t care who this Gatou guy is, I’ll take him out no problem!” Naruto said as he pumped a fist in the air. Inari huffed and then groaned with frustration before leaving.

“What’s that kid's problem!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Idiot, Tsunami already told us his issue” Sasuke replied.

The three genin were alone in the house, as Tsunami and Tazuna went shopping, and Kakashi followed for protection. Inari was theirs to watch, but Inari made it clear that he didn’t want to see them.

 

“Yea yea, I know, but come on!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Shut up dobe, you wouldn’t know what it’s like to watch your family be murdered,” Sasuke said with venom.

“Well all I know is that we all had messed up stuff, but none of us are crying about it!” Naruto said, although Sasuke took this as Naruto belittling his pain. Sure Naruto didn’t know much about Sasuke’s condition, but he still would not stand for his pain to be belittled.

Satya stepped in before Sasuke had a chance to wring Naruto’s neck.

“Maybe we aren’t crying now, but we all were when we were eight. I know I was” Satya said that last part darkly.

Everyone was silent.

“So...What happened to you guys?” Naruto asked quietly.

“I don’t have to say a thing,” Sasuke said in a monotone voice that said “Drop it now”

Satya wondered if she could say what happened to her, without crying. She hadn’t put what had happened into words since she had explained what happened to the Anbu who questioned her. That was when she was five. But it seemed Sasuke didn’t want to talk about his problem.

Satya glanced at Sasuke, and Sasuke noticed. Her glare read “I know, I get it”. He didn’t want her sympathy, but he couldn’t say he hated the idea of another person knowing his pain.

“Well, My family, and my clan, was…….murdered when I was five,” Satya said softly.

Satya saw Sasuke clench his fists tightly.

“Oh...I’m sorry,” Naruto said awkwardly

“Don’t be, you didn’t do anything to make it happen?” Satya said.

 

“Yea, but still……” Naruto trailed off.

“I don’t blame Inari. He went through something terrible” Satya said.

“He should be more worried about avenging his father,” Sasuke said. It sounded like he was speaking about both Inari and himself to some degree. “What good is wallowing in your own self-pity? The kid should be avenging his family at all costs” There was a good deal of passion in that last statement from Sasuke. And Satya knew what he was getting at, at least to some degree.

“At eight years old? Come on” Satya replied.

“If he really cared that much, he’d avenge them at all costs” Sasuke growled. His fists never loosened.

“Well I don’t know about all this avenging crap, but all I Know is I got sick and tired about crying, so the little brat needs to start sucking it up!” Naruto exclaimed. It was interesting to see Naruto call someone a brat, as he was usually called one himself.

“So you're telling me that at eight years old both of you guys acted any better than him?” Satya accused, and they were silent.

Was there really anything they could say? Of course, at eight years old all three of them were nothing more than little kids with a pain they couldn’t comprehend.

No one was there to help them, to save them from their pain. Satya wondered, how her life would have changed had there been people around to help her? Better for sure, but by how much?

Maybe no one helped her, but they had the power to help Inari.

“Wouldn’t you guys have wanted someone, anyone, to help you through your issues/ Maybe we didn’t get that luxury, but we can give that to Inari, we can help him, if we can just take down Gatou”

 

“That's not the mission” Sasuke replied.

“And it was the lack of any mission ordered that kept us from getting any outside help. Besides, we are already outside the mission parameters. A genin squad shouldn’t be taking an S rank mission like this.” Satya fired back.

 

“Well, I ain’t quitting!” Naruto answered.

“If we are going to face Zabuza again, then we are already ignoring the mission in a sense, so at this point, we have no reason to stop.”

Sasuke knew she was right. He would have loved for somebody, anybody to have helped him. No one could have, but he had hoped back then that someone would help. Now here he was, with the chance to help a kid like him. He was kind of obligated to take it.

Sasuke sighed. “Fine, I’m in”

“Me too! If he can’t suck it up, then I guess we’ll just have to make it easier for him!” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya smiled. “So it’s team 7 vs Gatou, I like our odds”

“I like my fist in Zabuza’s face!” Naruto exclaimed. He seemed to be getting more and more pumped at the prospect.

Overall, they had improved greatly. Satya’s combat speed and combat skills improved heavily, and her kunai work with Kakashi yielded great results. Satya also got to train her medical ninjutsu as well. She healed herself and the boys when she could, and it was valuable training. She also pored over the pages of her ninja books, so she taught herself a few new concepts.

Naruto gained some much-needed chakra control, and Sasuke was already thinking of ways to use his new chakra mastery for battle applications. The squad had buckled down and really improved, and Satya felt confident, in herself, and in her team.

They wouldn’t settle for Zabuza, no, they’d only stop when they had made Gatou pay. And they’d do it together.

 

On the eighth day of their time in the wave country, all three of them accompanied Tazuna on the bridge. They were taking a day off, mostly because they had been working themselves to the bone and Kakashi predicted that Zabuza would make his move soon.

Evidently, he was correct. Upon reaching the bridge, the group quickly noticed that all the workers were on the ground, many of them wounded, and some even dead.

“Wh-what, what is this!” Tazuna exclaimed.

 

“No way,” Naruto said.

Thick mist pooled around all of them, laced with chakra, and they all knew what that meant.

 

He was here.

Chapter Text

Everyone knew it was time. All their training, all their blood sweat and tears, all of it was leading up to this. The mist just kept getting thicker and thicker. Satya remembered her talk with Sasuke. She had a goal too, she had a goal to protect people, and right now, she had to protect her team from Zabuza. So she would not cower, not this time.

The three genin crowded around Tazuna, but Kakashi seemed calm.

“So, It seems I right, you just couldn’t wait for round two, could you, Zabuza?” Kakashi said. He seemed certain Zabuza would hear him.

It was an eerie scene, bodies flung about as thick mist accumulated, the presence of ninja all round.

“What can I say, it’s not every day you get to fight someone with the Sharingan” Zabuza’s voice still had that deadly edge to it, one that reeked of anticipation and killing intent.

“Then why don’t you come out here for another showing?”

Satya could see that Kakashi’s banter was all to keep everyone’s nerves down. She supposed that was a good strategy.

Suddenly, ten Zabuza’s appeared, along with that masked, supposed tracker ninja.

“Heh, look who it is,” Sasuke said as he motioned to the masked ninja.

The clones all circled around the group.

“You all should be more concerned with us’ The clones said in an eager tone.

The mist still got thicker. “Sasuke?” Satya called. She still remembered his fear last time, and was still worried for him.

“Don’t worry, I’m actually enjoying this” Sasuke called back.

“See, aren’t they adorable,” Kakashi said in a sweet tone.

“Hey, watch who your calling ‘adorable’, we’re ninja here!” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya wondered how much longer the banter would last. She had some things to consider. Her water style could be taken over by Zabuza, but Kakashi would most likely keep him occupied. But that tracker ninja, she could very well be of the water element as well. And just how strong was she? There was no way to tell.

“You’re all just brats!” the 10 Zabuza’s exclaimed before they all began leaping forward. Sasuke sprang into action, speed amplified by his new-found chakra control, he quickly threw two kunai, and they both hit two separate clones in the neck, killing them. Sasuke then lurched forward, stabbing another clone. That made three down. The other clones enclosed in on Sasuke, which was dangerous for Satya’s teammate. But they made a fatal flaw.

They turned their back towards the other ninja. Clones of Naruto surged forward, killing two more Zabuza's through the sheer number of punches and kicks before being ripped to shreds by Multiple Zabuza’s. That made five down. Satya pulled out four shuriken in each hand, and threw them in a horizontal arch, catching three Zabuza clones. They spun with great speed, courtesy of her training. Sasuke took out the remaining clones with a few kunai slashed, and the ground around them became painted with a lot of water from all the water clones.

“Hnn, too easy,” Sasuke said dryly. calm and confident as always.

“Come on, I want a challenge!” Naruto said, loud and excited as always.

“Even if each clone was only one-tenth the strength of the original, they did all manage to take them out, which is quite impressive, lord Zabuza,” said the ‘tracker ninja’.

 

“It seems my hypothesis was correct, all that talk about being a tracker ninja was just a ruse to save Zabuza. And judging by the execution of the act, it seems they’ve been doing this for a very long time now.” Kakashi said as the two ninja approached.

“Hmph, who does she think she is, hiding behind that mask like a clown, phony” Sasuke called in mild disgust.

 

Zabuza laughed. “It seems you’ve made some enemies, Haku. I’m so proud”

“Oh, yea? Lemme at her, I can take her on, no sweat, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed.

“I see no reason to intervene,” Zabuza said, before disappearing into the mist.

Kakashi’s Sharingan flared as he lifted his headband.

“Let’s end this, Zabuza!” Kakashi exclaimed before launching kunai into the mist before surging forward, seemingly towards Zabuza.

Haku surged forward, senbon in her hand. She threw four senbon with deadly accuracy, but Sasuke blocked each one and locked her in combat. She was fast, but Sasuke had the edge in that his kunai carried more weight, so Haku couldn’t clash her weapon with his.

The two danced an elegant dance of taijutsu, feeling each other's movements. But Haku was too quick for Sasuke to keep up. The masked ninja kicked Sasuke in his stomach, sending him flying backwards. In a quick blur, her hands formed seals, and then what came after was terrifying.

“Ice style; 1000 needles of death”

The water around them from the now dispersed water clones rose up, and froze into thin, long shards of Ice. Satya’s eyes widened as they all took aim at Sasuke. Haku was quick, but so was Naruto.

Each ice needle looked like it could easily pierce the body, and their size made them deadly. Naruto summoned a multitude of clones and created a literal wall of clones around Sasuke, and all the Ice needles were stopped. Each clone yelped as the Ice needles surged through them, but the jutsu did as Naruto hoped, and Sasuke was able to land on his feet from the kick without being impaled.

“Ice style? A bloodline limit!?” Kakashi exclaimed worriedly through the mist as ninja tools clashed between the two jounin.

“Ice style? Doesn’t that incorporate water chakra? Great, another water user.” Satya didn’t want to use any water jutsu for fear of giving Haku any more ammunition.

But Satya needed to strike now, because Haku was quick and she’d probably launch an attack very soon.

Satya realized that she was in the front line, a poor position for a medical ninja. She decided to promptly relocate herself.

She jumped backwards as she unleashed many quick shuriken attacks. Haku dodged them all, but Naruto and Sasuke rushed forward as Satya retreated closer to Tazuna.

Clones of Naruto swarmed Haku, and Sasuke was within the horde as well. Haku was fast, but fighting Sasuke and an army of Naruto’s was too much, and she formed seals for a jutsu.

“Not a chance!” Satya called, forming seals of her own.

“Ice style: 1000 needles of death”

“Water style: Water chains!”

The water around Haku began to rise for her jutsu, but stopped midway. The two water ninjas were grappling for control over the water, but Haku was forced to let go of the water tug of war to dodge the incoming genin.

Haku unleashed a flurry of senbon, killing many clones and tried to gain some distance. The water formed chains as per Satya’s jutsu, and they rushed to entangle Haku. The light blue water chains surged forward, but Haku was too quick, jumping away.

 

But she forgot about Sasuke.

As she jumped to the side, Sasuke intercepted and plunged a sword deep in her throat. But then, with a poof of smoke, Haku disappeared, and all that was left was a log.

“A substitution?” Satya thought.

Haku disappeared in the mist, and suddenly the genin were very conscious of their surroundings.

“Naruto, surround the bridge builder with clones, now!” Sasuke barked, and Naruto did as he was told.

Suddenly, Haku appeared behind Sasuke, and launched some senbon at him. Each one found its mark, plunging deep into Sasuke’s body at different angles.

Haku used Sasuke’s moment of pain to surge forward, but Satya was already weaving seals.

“Ninja art: Kunai barrage genjutsu” Satya whispered quietly.

Kunai knives materialized from thin air all around Haku, and fired off at her with lightning speed. Little did she know they were entirely fake and just an illusion, but she’d never figure that out, because she was too quick to get hit by one, in fact, Satya was counting on that. Haku was so quick that not a single Kunai would touch her, so Haku would never realize they are fake, so to Haku, Satya was able to summon hordes of Kunai at will, which was complete nonsense and beyond her skill level.

As Haku dodged the final of the Kunai, the battlefield was littered with Kunai. Satya had to keep the jutsu up, making each Kunai sink in the ground as to not disclose she was a genjutsu type.

Five Naruto’s sprang up behind her, and she took them out but was oblivious to the kick Sasuke sent her way. She went flying, but flipped and landed on her feet.

“I do not wish to kill you, but should you continue, you will leave me no choice,” Haku said.

“You gotta be kidding me, we’re the ones kicking your ass!” Naruto exclaimed. Satya however, was not as confident. Was she holding back, or was this just fear tactics? Either way, his guard raised even higher.

“For once I have to agree with Naruto, you’re in no position to make threats,” Sasuke said with a smirk.

“Haku, quit playing around and shut those brats up” Zabuza barked from the mist. More jutsu could be heard after that statement. Which of the two jounin that fired it was impossible to make out.

“ I think you’re underestimating my students Zabuza, a deadly mistake as you should know. Sasuke here is probably the strongest young fighter in the leaf”

Sasuke’s smirk only grew at that. Satya couldn’t say she disagreed, but that all depended on what you considered “Young”.

“Satya here is definitely our sharpest mind, and master of chakra” Satya simply tightened her grip on a kunai at that. She didn’t need the spotlight to be on her, especially since she’s the medic. But she appreciated the praise.

“And Naruto here, well, he’s the Leafs number one most unpredictable ninja” Naruto smiled a big smile at that.

“And Haku here is my most deadliest weapon. But don’t take my word for it, show them Haku!” Zabuza responded.

“Yes, lord Zabuza” Haku replied. Satya could see Haku make some signs, but then the mist got nearly twice as thick and Haku, as well as Naruto and Sasuke, disappeared from her view.

 

“Naruto, Sasuke, where are you!” Satya called. She couldn’t stray far from Tazua, especially not in the thick mist. But she needed to see her team, needed to be on standby in case they needed medical assistance.

Satya decided to release her genjutsu, mostly because at this stage it was useless and it was just draining her chakra, something she didn’t need.

Speaking of her chakra, she still had a good supply left, but she had nowhere she could use it.

Sounds of battle whispered around her, and it was all she could do to listen in and anticipate if an attack was coming.

Tazuna was shaking behind her, but she was determined and had a dead serious glare.

It was agony, torture even. Minutes passed where all Satya could do was sit there and wait. What was going on? Were they okay? Was Haku winning? Satya just didn’t know.

But she’d have her answer in just a moment.

 

“YOU BASTARD! I KILL YOU” Satya heard Naruto call out, and Haku suddenly whizzed by her, flying through the air, presumably from an attack. But then, Naruto, no, a demon emerged.

There was Naruto, but orange, swirling chakra was being emitted from him. His scratch marks blackened, and his eyes were blood red, and his orange chakra was so unbelievable potent that Satya couldn’t believe her eyes.

 

Her knees began to shake from the sheer fear that consumed her. That......beast, ran forward and thrashed Haku around like a doll, chakra oozing out of him. The Vaswani clan had knowledge on many things, and maybe, if Satya had a clearer mind, she could have cross-referenced her teachings with what was going on in front of her. But right now, her teachings were the furthest things from her mind. She was focusing more on not being consumed by the sheer power of that chakra. It was almost getting hard to breathe due to the thickness of the air. The mist was clearing, being blown back from the chakra radiating from the demon Naruto.

Haku got slammed into the ground, and Satya just watched in terror.

And then.

It stopped.

Haku’s mask fell off, revealing a beaten up but beautiful girl. And Naruto just, froze.

 

“H-haku…..you’re…” Naruto spoke softly.

“I told you….we’d meet again, Naruto” Haku spoke in a pained voice.

 

“B-but why?” Naruto asked. Satya could not comprehend what was going on.

“Because, Naruto, Zabuza in the person I want to protect. Just as you have those you wish to protect, so do I”

“But he’s so cruel and evil!” Naruto exclaimed.

Zabuza laughed.

“Haku is my tool, he’ll do as I say, when I say”

In the back if Satya’s mind, she could hear herself exclaiming “WAIT THAT'S A GUY????!!!” but she pushed it back to focus on deciphering just what was going on.

“It is true. Lord Zabuza saved me when no one else would, trained me when no one else could. I am his tool, and will do as he wishes”

 

“That's, That's so messed up!” Naruto exclaimed.

 

“Just one more reason to end this!” Kakashi exclaimed.

“Summoning Jutsu!” 9 dogs suddenly sprang from thin air in a puff of smoke, all of them biting Zabuza, immobilizing him.

“What the!?” Zabuza exclaimed. Kakashi formed quick hand seals, before his hand began to glow with electricity. The lightning crackled in his hands, the chakra palpable, oozing with power.

“It’s time to end this Zabuza! Lightning blade!”

Kakashi thrust his lightning hand towards Zabuza at a speed that looked inhuman, but it did not hit Zabuza.

Kakashi’s hand tore straight through Haku’s heart. Haku had jumped in the way.

“HAKU!” Naruto screamed, confusion and terror muddied his voice.

Satya was so mortified she had to look away, and then she caught glimpse of something equally disturbing. Sasuke was lying down on his back, limp, with senbon poking out of him in every direction.

“No” she whispered quietly.

She started shaking.

“No, no no no no NO!” Satya ran towards Sasuke, fear pulsing through her. Everything else became a blur. She did not hear how Zabuza tried to slash through Haku to hit Kakashi, how Kakashi dodged and counterattacked. She did not hear Naruto’s pained sobs as he saw Haku’s lifeless body.

 

She reached Sasuke, shaking violently. He was bleeding from multiple areas, and he looked like a pincushion. Scratch marks and senbon we’re all over him.

She didn’t even know where to begin. Her mind scrambled to remember all her studying, all the books she read over. He couldn’t die, she wouldn’t be able to take it if he did.

Was she so weak as to be unable to heal him, to save him? Is she always doomed to watch all those around her drop dead while she does nothing? She did nothing to help her parents, because she couldn’t have, and now was no different. Was she still as powerless as before, could she not save him?

Tazuna approached behind her. She didn’t bother checking his vitals or using a jutsu to scan the damage, because she was too afraid of the answer.

She just started pulling out senbon, one after the other.

She didn’t take them all out, but she took out enough. She wasn’t skilled enough to perform a full body healing jutsu, not by a long shot. Where does she even start?

She formed seals quickly, and placed her hands on his chest. The healing effect would spread out from his heart so long as the heart was still pumping blood and chakra.

Her hands glowed green as she healed, praying to any god that would listen.

“Don’t die, please don’t die, not again” Satya choked out as she healed. He was still lying there, just like her parents, lifeless, motionless.

She cried over her parent's bodies, just like this, it was all so similar.

“Y-you promised, we made a deal, please!” Satya cried out, tears burst forwards as she couldn’t hold them any longer. She was allowed to cry, wasn’t she?

She wouldn’t stop healing, even if her chakra fell to zero, she would not stop, she could not stop.

She sat there, tears streaming down her face as she healed her broken teammate. Was this her fate? Was she supposed to get used to this? Would this become…….normal?

“Is he….?” Tazuna trailed off behind her, she barely even registered his voice.

 

Her pleading turned into anger, anger at the world for being so cruel to her, for wronging her in so many ways.

“Live dammit! Just LIVE!” She screamed as the tears poured. Her chakra surging through him. She was healing with all she could, she couldn’t do anymore.

“I’m begging you, please,” she said defeatedly.

Then, there was silence. All that could be heard was Satya’s sobs and cold wisps of misty air.

 

“Satya?”

Her heart jumped.

“Don’t….cry for….me…...I wasn’t even….that nice to you” Sasuke choked out. To him, you only got what you deserved, and he didn’t think she should be crying over him. It made no logical sense, because he wasn’t really that nice to her, or to any of them. Sure they joked a little, but he was mostly distant and patronizing and just ignored his team, her included.

Satya didn’t even know what she felt anymore.

“Sasuke, you’re alive?!” Satya said disbelievingly.

Sasuke didn’t seem to pay attention, he seemed more confused than anything.

“You’d still….cry for me...even after how cold I’ve been?” Sasuke said in a confused and disbelieving tone. He really just did not understand this. He didn’t remember how it felt, to be cared for unconditionally, no matter what. He had forgotten that feeling, and it felt very foreign.

 

“Sasuke, it’s fine, just….. Are you okay?” Satya really didn’t know what to think, she just wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to drop dead.

“Y-yeah” Sasuke replied.

She sat there, healing him for a little while longer.

“What...happened?” Sasuke asked, and Satya didn’t even know how to answer that.

She turned back to see a beaten a dead Zabuza, and many more dead……..mercenaries.

“When did that happen,” She thought. She just now realized she had been completely ignoring her surroundings since seeing Sasuke. That was the opposite of what a ninja was supposed to do.

Sasuke looked back at everyone, and they all approached.

“Sasuke, are you okay?” Naruto asked.

“I’ll live” He replied simply.

That was what Satya was waiting to hear.

Chapter Text

Satya didn’t stop healing Sasuke for a good while. She healed him through the team's conversation, and it was good practice for her. If today's battle was any indication, she needed more training on reducing her tunnel vision.

“So, we won?” Sasuke asked as he sat up. He winced ever so slightly, but he hid it well. Naruto was wiping tears out of his eyes. Today had been a very emotional event for him, for all of them.

“I suppose we did. In the end, Zabuza took down Gatou with him” Kakashi said. At the mention of Gatou’s death, all three genin looked at each other and cracked a wry smile. It didn’t slip by Kakashi.

“What’s that mischievous look in all of your eyes? You’re not hiding something from me?” Kakashi said as if he was a scolding parent.

And of course, Naruto would be the one to crack first. “Well, you see…...we were actually thinking of going after Gatou once we beat Zabuza ya know....” Naruto trailed off with a hand behind his neck, rubbing it absentmindedly with a cheeky grin. Sasuke smirked and simply said “tch”. Although he looked like he enjoyed being caught.

“But I guess Zabuza did it for us, who would have guessed?” Satya said with a shrug and a hopeful voice.

“You sneaky little kids, what am I going to do with you?” Kakashi said with a smile. Naruto and Satya laughed, Sasuke just kept on smirking. It was nice for Kakashi to let that one slip by. On another occasion, he’d probably lecture them, but he understood the circumstances and just what they went through, so he cut them a break.

“Sasuke, where does it hurt the most?” Satya asked. She wasn’t skilled enough to tell by the wound which one brought about the most pain, especially since there were so many tiny cuts that created bigger cuts. Sasuke seemed hesitant to answer, mostly because he probably didn’t want to admit that he was in any pain at all.

“.....I can’t choose, but it doesn’t matter” Sasuke said simply. Satya just shook her head with a faint smile. Her light almond skin was painted with dried up watermarks, whether that be from the mist or tears depended on the part of her body. Her favourite green outfit was definitely not looking its best.

Kakashi was the one who spoke next. “Naruto, Sasuke, care to explain what happened?”

Naruto did most of the talking, and they told their side of the story. Although, when it came to the part where Naruto transformed, Naruto simply described it as him getting very angry and smashing through the ice mirrors. Although Satya knew it was more than that, she had seen it, felt it even. It was a chakra that was so dark and evil. She wasn’t even a sensory type, but she could vividly feel the negative chakra roll-off Naruto. It was scary, it made Zabuza seem like a joke even. She couldn’t even begin to comprehend the power in its chakra. She had a deep understanding on the fundamentals of chakra, but she was clueless when it came to Naruto’s transformation. If she wanted to research it, she wouldn’t even know where to begin to look. How does one classify such an intense chakra?
When it came time, Naruto asked Sasuke why he saved Naruto. Sasuke still had his hands on the ground behind him, holding up his weight, and his response was short as he looked away.

“I don’t know, my body just…...moved on its own” He replied quietly. For someone who was usually more focused on logic and the bigger picture, it seemed out of character for him to act on impulse. But the way he said it, it made it seem like he acted out of necessity, and Satya could relate to that.

Satya wiped her forehead, taking a two-second break before continuing to heal Sasuke.

“Well it wasn’t all bad, Sasuke got his Sharingan eye thingy!” Naruto piped up.

Kakashi’s gaze fell onto Sasuke.

“Sasuke, is this true?” Kakashi asked. Sasuke simply nodded.

“Come on Sasuke, show us, show us!” Naruto seemed fascinated by the Sharingan.

Sasuke just rolled his eyes, and Satya interjected. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea for Sasuke to expend any chakra Naruto,” Satya said wisely.

“Tch, it’s fine,” Sasuke said pridefully as he flashed his Sharingan. Naruto made a surprised expression, but Satya…..she just flinched.

It was as her parents said. It held a sense of darkness to it. But it was different from the darkness of Naruto’s chakra when he transformed. That chakras darkness was overpowering, it was fierce and radiated power as it ripped through the very core of her being. She felt like she could drown in the fiery darkness that was Naruto’s chakra at that moment. But the Sharingan, it had a mystifying darkness to it. It was less powerful, less blunt. It was just reeking with potential, the potential for pure darkness. It was dark and cold and she hated it. It felt like it was creeping through her, slowly, carefully poisoning her. Satya was no sensory type, but she was in tune with her chakra. And She was healing Sasuke, so it allowed her to better feel his chakra. At that moment where Sasuke activated his Sharingan, all the things her clan said about it became eerily true in her mind.

Sasuke looked worried at her reaction to it, while Kakashi was just curious. Naruto had completely missed it, and Satya just wished she never saw Sasuke’s eyes like that.

Kakashi lowered his headband after that.

Satya refused to let everyone go back to Tazuna’s until she ran out of chakra from healing Sasuke and Naruto. Satya, being a Vaswani, naturally relied on her chakra, as the Vaswani clan excelled in ninjutsu, genjutsu and medical Jutsu, all of which required the user to expend chakra. Because of this, members of the Vaswani clan had a very large chakra pool. But Sasuke’s wounds were plentiful and deep, and it was more than just cuts. His muscles were strained, his body fatigued, his blood littered the floor and he sported many bruises as well. She couldn’t heal it all in one sitting even with her large chakra reserves. With more skill in the field, she’d be able to, but she was not at the level needed for her to be able to heal Sasuke from such a beating.

She spent about 70 percent of her remaining chakra healing Sasuke, and the rest went to Naruto. What shocked her was that her healing seemed to be nearly double it’s normal strength when healing Naruto. It made no sense to her. She knew she wasn’t that good, but here naruto was, recovering at an alarming rate. But she knew her limits and she knew she wasn’t that skilled, so how?

Perhaps on a better day, she’d inquire about it to Kakashi, but she was too drained to think about it for long.

 

-------------------------------

Was it any surprise that Satya never caught a wink of sleep after that day? The team had to keep watch over Tazuna until the bridge was built, so Satya spent many nights having bloodcurdling nightmares in an unfamiliar bed. The days they spent in Tazuna's house after Zabuza’s defeat were uneventful. Inari seemed like a new person, which made Satya happy, and she was getting a lot of good practice with her medical ninjutsu through Sasuke. Satya found it funny how she gained more medical practice in one mission then she had previously throughout her entire life.

Satya had long since finished the book she brought with her. And the land of waves didn’t have anything she was looking for, so she decided that she’d make up for it by enjoying her other favourite thing in the world. Tea.

“Seriously, I think you have a tea addiction,” Sasuke said sarcastically.

“I never denied it,” Satya said with a sip. Sasuke just walked away with a grunt. She was glad Sasuke was up and on his feet, but he was a little distant ever since nearly dying. Satya couldn’t really blame him, she just hoped it passed, eventually.

“I mean, Tea’s good, but nothing beats ramen, believe it!” Naruto said to her, and Satya chuckled a little.

“You don’t say? Maybe I’ll try some with you” Naruto brightened up at that.

“But you gotta pay” Naruto’s face came crashing down, and she could hear Kakashi laugh.

“Wait wait wait, can’t we split it?” Naruto begged.

“Come on, you can’t make a lady pay,” Satya said teasingly.

“Awww come on! I Don’t have the money!” Naruto exclaimed, almost pleading with Satya.

Satya simply smiled sweetly. “That’s why we're on a mission Naruto, to get paid. Now you better not cheap out on me”

Naruto Paled. Everyone laughed, well, everyone but Sasuke.

It was about two weeks before the bridge was built, and it was a joyous occasion. It was clear that the bridge meant a lot to everyone in the land of waves, and when it was complete, team 7 had to say there farewells to their new friends.

Getting back to the village did not take them very long. Without Tazuna, they could travel much faster, and the slowest part was the boat ride. The team had been through a lot, and all of them just wanted to get home. The mission had opened their eyes to the dangers of the world, and the leaf villages safe walls would be very comforting to return to.

Upon entering the village, Naruto just had to make himself known.

“We’re finally back, believe it!” Naruto shouted with glee.

“Shut up you idiot,” Sasuke said in a very annoyed tone. They had barely crossed the gates and they were already at it.

“Alright alright, that’s enough. You guys are very lucky you know, you don’t have to write the ninja report” Kakashi said.

“We don’t?” Satya asked.

 

“Normally, each ninja involved has to write a report but, you are all genin, and as your jounin instructor that task falls unto me,” Kakashi's said that last part in a very sad tone.

 

Satya could only laugh at her Sensei’s sullen face.

 

---------------------------------

On Satya’s first full day back in the village, she decided she needed some sense of normalcy. Something to relax and take her mind off of the admittedly terrifying events that transpired during her mission. Satya knew just who to visit.

“Satya, is that you?” Ino called from behind the desk of her parent’s flower shop. Ino regularly helped out, so finding her was easy enough.

“In the flesh” Satya replied with a smile.

Ino smiled. “Finally, your back!” ino exclaimed excitedly as she hugged her friend.”Where have you been? Do have any idea how dull Shikamaru and Chouji are? I could have really used you!” Ino said in a semi scolding voice, but it was more playful than anything.

“I could have used you, or any form of backup really,” Satya thought in her head, but what came out of her mouth was much different.

“Well, it turns out C-rank missions take a lot longer than I thought they did” Satya replied.

“No kidding, you had me worried,” Ino said.

“It wasn’t in vain, that's for sure,” Satya thought absentmindedly.

 

Satya just laughed it off.

“Are Shikamaru and Chouji really that bad?” Satya asked with a sweet look on her face, hoping to quell the rant that she knew was coming.

“Oh, you best believe they are! Shikamaru is a lazy, half-ass ninja who doesn’t do anything. Seriously I’ve had better conversations with paint - and no don’t ask about that, and Chouji just eats and eats and eats and he can’t even train because he gets stomach aches and none of them do the mission properly and I just can’t stand them sometimes!” Ino finished her little rant with a pout.

“Well, have no fear, for I am here now,” Satya said.

“And right in the nick of time, I’ve needed to hang out with another girl who’s actually a ninja for a while now, Wanna go out?”

“Right now?” Satya asked dubiously.

“Yea, it’s fine, Dad’s in the back, he won’t mind” Ino replied haphazardly. Ino always had her father wrapped around her fingers, so Satya knew to trust her on this.

“Well then, let’s go” Satya replied, and go they did.

It was fun and relaxing and exactly what Satya needed. She had spent her mission cramming as much ninja information and training into her as possible, and it was hard to relax in unfamiliar territory. She was also sleep deprived, but for the first time since her mission, she’s felt safe, at home and normal. It was something Satya didn’t know she missed until she lost it. Satya and Ino did there usual rounds of shopping, but they also got ninja weapons as well. Ino was a peoples person, she knew everybody and everybody knew her. She could hold up a conversation for hours if she needed, and she definitely didn’t disappoint today.

 

As of right now, the two were just taking a walk as they talked. It was so simple, but Satya valued it so much more now.

“I can’t say I mind Sasuke or Naruto,” Satya said.

“Who could mind Sasuke?!” Ino said dubiously.

“Well, he can be a little moody sometimes,” Satya said thoughtfully. She spent a bit of her time thinking about Sasuke. In hindsight, she could totally see why he was the way he is. He went through something terrible, just like she did, so of course, he’d be affected negatively in some ways.

“Don’t you just love a bad boy?” Ino said dreamily. Satya laughed.

“Ino, you’re obsessed,” Satya said jokingly.

 

“Okay, but how are you not!” Ino exclaimed. They dipped into a clothing store as they talked.

“I’m more focused on other things” Satya replied with a wave of her hand.

“Like this blue dress, it’s gorgeous!” Satya exclaimed as she ran her hands through a loose, blue dress. It wasn’t very elaborate, it was beauty in simplicity. It showed the hips, but the front and backcloth ran almost to the ground.

“Oh come on, how can you not admire that perfect face and-oh yea that would look perfect on you!” Ino said.

Satya walked into the dressing room with the dress, but before she closed the door she said one last thing to Ino.

“Hey, I never said he didn’t look good” Satya winked and shut the door laughing. It was more of a jest than anything. She knew Ino would see her as competition if she said she found Sasuke attractive, and she enjoyed a little teasing as well as getting people just a tad riled up.

She could hear Ino’s jaw drop through the door.

Satya managed to flawlessly make her way to the counter and buy the item in a way that didn’t allow Ino to question her further, and in the back of her head, she wondered how much of that was due to ninja training. Ninja could often tell other ninja in crowds of civilians. They always seemed to slither through a crowd better than any civilian could. Their movements were more swift, more optimal in a way. Being a ninja was a way of life, and Satya was finally understanding that fact.

Ino did, however, question her when they got out the door.

“I knew it! You do have a thing for him!” Ino said triumphantly

“All I said was that he looked nice, not that I have a crush or obsession with him like you do,” Satya said with a sly smile, and Ino huffed.

Was she lying? Well, if Satya was being honest, he did look quite nice, but there was more to a person then looks. Although, if Satya thought about it, she didn’t really mind Sasuke. He was prickly sure, but he showed his softer side in a very subtle tone. No, she did not dislike Sasuke, she liked him. As a friend of course, as a friend.

 

“Naruto isn’t bad either you know. He was actually really helpful on our mission” Satya said.

“You’re joking, Naruto? Does he even know how to be helpful?” Ino said.

“Apparently he does. He was also really determined during training.” Satya noted.

“Heh, wanna trade him for Shikamaru?” Ino said slyly.

“Not a chance,” Satya said with a smile. No, Satya wouldn’t trade her team for the world. Their last mission solidified that. They relied on each other, they were a unit, they pulled each other up when one fell, and they were the ones who watched each other's backs. Their last mission brought them close together, even if it didn’t look like it.

The two of them ducked into a souvenir shop. “Not even for a few missions?” Ino pleaded.

“Nope, I like my teammates to actually do something,” Satya said with a chuckle.

“Okay, what about Sasuke? Come on, do it for your friend, help me out here” Ino practically begged.

Satya thought about her team. They had their ups and downs, but they worked well. Naruto was annoying and rambunctious, but he worked hard and he didn’t give up, and he was very dependable. Sasuke could be cold and mean, and harsh as well. But his confidence really helped her ground herself, and it seemed he really did care somewhere down there, he just never made a spectacle of it. In a way, silently caring is better than being overly caring. Because Sasuke wasn’t freely handing out care so much, the small times he did feel more special. Naruto helped balance Sasuke’s quiet attitude as well. She had to hand it to Iruka, he did a great job picking her team.

“You can go ask him, not me,” Satya said as she picked up a little ornament. It was a very cute clay slug perched atop a clay tree. It looked very decorative, and she decided that she’d buy it.

 

“Well, what about your sensei? Is he any good?” Ino inquired.

“He's nice, but he always shows up at minimum an hour late,” Satya said exasperatedly

“Really? That sucks. Mine’s alright, but he spends too much time trying to get Shikamaru to do anything. I say leave him and focus on the ones who are actually trying” Ino said sagely.

Satya smiled a little. “You know, you might make a good sensei one day,” Satya said.

“Me? Are you crazy? I don’t want anything to do with teaching, especially when there are students like Kiba or Naruto” Ino said.

Satya checked out her clay slug and got another bag for it. Her arms were starting to get very heavy from all the bags.

 

As they walked, Satya began to reminisce on what she had seen. She had seen death, a death she played a hand in. Did Haku deserve to die? Satya remembered what he did to Sasuke, and her mind screamed yes initially. She was overprotective, and this was natural for her. She didn’t want anyone else to die, didn’t want to lose anyone else, so anyone who tried to take friends away from her got her unbridled hate.

But then, she remembered his face, his struggle. Naruto had told her everything, and it was…..painful to listen to. Was she right to hate him, was she right to forgive him, was she right to even care as a shinobi? She couldn’t say.

“Hey, Ino, I have a question”

“Yea, what's up?” Ino said as they walked.

“Do really want to kill people?” Satya said suddenly. It was devoid of tact, not her usual approach, but her mind was elsewhere.

“Woah, where did this come from!” Ino exclaimed.

“I’ll, I’ll tell you some other time, but right now I just want to know,” Satya said.

 

“Well…..I mean, it’s killed or be killed. We become ninja to protect the village, don’t we? If we don’t kill, then others will kill the village, and everyone we know. Maybe it’s not good, maybe it makes me selfish, but I don’t want anyone I know to be killed, and you bet I’ll never let that happen, no matter what.” Ino said resolutely.

She was right, of course, Ino was always bright. Satya had to choose, her team or her morality, and to hell with losing another person close to her, she would choose her team.

When the two ninja parted ways, Satya came to a shocking realization. Her little shopping trip would cost her a fortune, and she could only think of one thing.

“Sensei better finish the report soon, I need to get paid.”

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Team 7 didn’t do any more C missions after that. Although In actuality they never did any C rank missions, they did an S rank one. The mission got bumped to an S rank, and the Hokage declared that the leaf would be paying them directly, mostly because he realized just how stupid it was for genin to be anywhere near Zabuza Momochi.

When they left the Hokage office, Naruto ripped apart his envelope and checked how much money he made.

“Holy crap! Look at how much the old man gave us! I’m gonna be rich with this, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed. Satya opened her letter to see what the fuss was about.

 

“Dear God, that is a lot of money,” Satya said surprisingly as she opened her envelope.

“Tch, they better give us some compensation after what happened,” Sasuke said.

 

Of course, none of the coming missions they would go one would be even a tenth of the pay as their mission in the land of waves. It was back to D rank missions for them, and Naruto, as usual, voiced his complaints throughout.

 

Satya spent some time checking out new ninja books from the library. She had settled on some books on genjutsu and more medical ninjutsu books, which were getting increasingly hard for her to get her hands on. The leaf village had a library dedicated to the ninja arts that all ninja or academy students could access. The issue was that a genin doesn’t have the clearance to view any scrolls or books classified as B rank or higher. So while Satya could grab books that went in-depth in the basic principles, there was only so much she could learn before she plateaued. Even worse was that medical ninjutsu isn’t something genin have the clearance to dabble in at all. Typically, if one wanted to be a medical ninja, you would need to be chunin before enrolling in the medical studies department. The only reason Satya was even able to get her hands on any medical books in the first place was because Iruka had requested she gain access to some medical books specifically after she had inquired about it to him. However, even his word had limits, and it became clear that she was running out of books or scrolls that she had clearance for, even with her former teacher's recommendation. Nevertheless, she found some hidden away deep in the library. She fell back into her routine of late-night reading, early morning training and missions during the day. She enjoyed studying as she had always been very book smart, so she had no reason to stop. She got to test out anything she picked up from her readings during her spars with Naruto and Sasuke, which was thrilling. Finally, she could use all of that studying in real-world applications. Satya felt comfort in learning things through pen and paper, but the feeling of watching that work yield results in actual combat brought forth a sense of achievement she loved. However, there seemed to be a common theme whenever team seven sparred. Sasuke had ended up dominating them for nearly every battle. His Sharingan gave him a massive edge, and he won every time, without fail, and Satya couldn’t do anything about it. It got to the point where Naruto and Satya had to now team up, making it a two vs one battle, and they still struggled immensely. Sasuke also didn’t even make an effort to hide his happiness whenever he won. He didn’t gloat or shout like Naruto, but he smirked that devilish smirk, and his eyes gleamed a prideful look, and worse of all, Sasuke clearly new Satya noticed, in fact, he seemed to be enjoying knowing that she picked up on the subtleties of how he manages to remind her that he is on top.

She doesn’t despise him for it, but instead, it just makes her want to win even more. This meant more late nights reading, and more training. Before she was training and learning for the sake of it, now she had a benchmark, a goal.

But Naruto and Satya still were a little ways away from beating Sasuke.

 

“Fire style: fireball Jutsu!” Sasuke exclaims as a fireball erupts from his mouth, flames licking the grassy ground of the training field as it zoomed towards them.

“So fast!” Satya exclaims in her head. Sasuke managed to cast a ninjutsu before even Satya did, something that she never sees coming. She was always the quick one with hand seals, but now it seemed as though Sasuke knew exactly when to use his jutsu, as if he could see into the future or something.

 

“Water style: water ball!” Satya managed to cast her jutsu right before the flames engulfed her. A giant ball of condensed water shot forward, cancelling out the fire Jutsu. Hot smoke erupted at the collision, and Satya felt as though her lungs were burning from the inside out. Before she could even crouch down at the sudden internal heat, Sasuke already kicked her forward.

“He can see through the smoke!?” Satya exclaimed in shock in her mind. She was sent flying and tumbled onto the ground.

Naruto, seemingly angered by Sasuke’s actions, lunged for Sasuke as he emerged from the smoke. It was touching really, Naruto seemed to really care for her well being. But that didn’t help him against Sasuke.

“That’s it, I’m gonna stop you once and for all!” Naruto said as no less than 50 clones lunged at Sasuke. But Sasuke mowed them down with such finesse that it would bring a tear to Kakashi’s eye. It was as if he knew the perfect counter to Naruto’s every move, almost like he could see every detail perfectly as if he was seeing things at a higher plane that neither Satya not Naruto could even begin to understand.

 

Satya got up with tears in her eyes from the smoke. Her lungs still burned, but Naruto was down to just 10 clones, she had to do something.

 

“Water style: water-”

“Gotcha,” Sasuke said as he grabbed Satya’s hand, body flickering towards her at an insane speed.

He pulled a kunai and spun her around, holding it to her neck, Naruto froze in place.

Satya was in shock. “Did he use the body flicker jutsu mid-battle, with no hand signs? That's upper chunin levels at least!” Satya’s mind reeled. When had this happened?

 

“I concede,” Satya said.

 

Sasuke smirked.

“What about you dobe?” Sasuke said over to nAruto, who had his fists clenched tightly.

“Yea, me too” Naruto gritted through his teeth.

Sasuke stepped away from Satya with his smirk still plastered on his face. He stole a glance at Satya Sharingan still activated, and she noticed, and he knew she noticed, and she knew that he knew that she noticed it. He wanted to see what her reaction was, because apparently, this mattered to him.

Satya patted herself down “Better luck next time I guess,” Satya said. Her green outfit was all muddy, and she found that to be absolutely criminal, it was her pride and joy, a very stylish and functional outfit. She never liked to keep it anything less than moderately clean.

 

“You’ll need more than just luck” Sasuke replied as he then made direct eye contact with her, Sharingan still active. Was he gauging her?

Naruto was seething in the back, as expected, but Satya didn’t know what to think. But those eyes, she didn’t like them, not at all. But why would Sasuke be doing this? Unless.... unless he knew she didn’t like his Sharingan, and was testing her, seeing if she was afraid and what her attitude would be. Why he was curious was beyond her. Did he want to see if she had a strong mental fortitude, or did he not like the idea of Satya being afraid of a part of him? Who could say? One this she knew for sure was that If Sasuke was scoping her out, then she’d make sure she put on a good show for herself.

“I suppose I’ll need more books then,” Satya said casually with a stretch, Sasuke just gave a “hmph” in response.

 

When they all parted ways, Satya had one thing on her mind. She needed to know just what the Sharingan was. As far as she knew, her clan had extensive knowledge on it, but as far as Satya knew, they took that knowledge to their graves. All she knew was more about her clans attitudes towards it. She remembered it being viewed as evil or dark in nature, but that didn’t leave her with much, and Sasuke didn’t seem evil. Difficult, yes, but not evil.

There was only one person she could deem credible on this kind of thing, and it was her dear old sensei.

 

Kakashi Hatake of the Sharingan, the copycat ninja who mastered over 1000 Jutsu. He’d have her answers, the question would be how easily he’d give them.

Chapter Text

Satya Vaswani could be described as someone prone to worrying, especially if it was over the wellbeing of those around her. If she had reason to believe they were in danger, she’d go through hell to stop it. It was one of the many traits she gained, born from her tragedy.

So she tracked down Kakashi easily. In fact, she’d bet that if Kakashi knew her efficiency in the matter, he’d be thoroughly impressed and even proud. She knew he had been giving them time off, which meant one thing, he’d be reading that stupid book of his. She knew he had a house, he had made an offhand remark about it, she merely had to find it. Which led her to a bookstore, as she had an idea of who would know where he lived.

As she walked in, she felt strangely out of place. This bookstore was for citizens, there was a lack of books on shinobi theory or practice, something Satya nearly exclusively read about. Regardless, she walked up to the man at the counter. He was decently tall, a few wrinkles born from reading, and had red glasses. His black hair contrasted it nicely. She'd guess he was about 40 years old.

 

“Excuse me, sir, I’m looking for Kakashi Hatake, do you know where he is?” She asked politely.

“Kakashi Hatake? Ha, he’s my number one buyer! Of course, I know where he is, but who’s asking?” The man said.

Satya saw no harm in answering truthfully.

“My name is Satya Vaswani, Kakashi is my Jounin sensei” She replied.

“Oh is that so?" He said while sizing her up.

"I was wondering when he’d actually be forced to teach some kids. Well, he lives not too far from here, I’ll give you a map with it marked”

Satya thanked the man and left, map in toe. She’d be a pitiful shinobi if she couldn’t read a simple map, they all learned in the academy. It only took her five minutes to reach it. Satya wondered if she should approach with stealth or not. It generally wasn’t a good idea to sneak up on a shinobi, and she didn’t want Kakashi to think the worst. But it WAS valuable practice. It couldn’t hurt, could it? Well actually, it could. In fact, it could be fatal, and Satya valued her life, so she wasn’t going to gamble with it. Kakashi's house was, well, a house. Which was actually uncommon. Most shinobi had apartments, but Kakashi had a full-blown two-story house. It made her wonder, just how skilled of a shinobi was he, for him to amass such a high fortune.

So she knocked, twice, and waited. But no answer came, well, not from inside the house anyways.

“What’s my adorable little genin student showing up at my house, hmmm?” A voice said from behind her.

 

She turned around, and there stood Kakashi, book in hand.

“Wait, how, what, when?” Satya’s mind reeled, but she cooled herself.

“Sorry for just showing up sensei, but I need your help,” Satya said.

Kakashi cocked his eyebrow curiously.

“Help, what kind of help?” he asked as he studied her.

He was stalling, trying to gather information on her motive. Why the hell would he be suspicious of her? If he knew what she was going to ask before he agreed to answer, he could back out, and she couldn’t let that happen. So she’d play this game, even if she was outmatched.

“It’s the kind of stuff you could only go to your sensei for” Satya replied.

“Really, and what kind of things are those”

Dang, he flipped it on her quick. He was watching, breaking down her every move, his intel-gathering was clearly top-notch.

“The kinds of things you don’t talk about around civilians” There, that would do it. That could range from any aspect of shinobi life. Suicide in enemy territory to avoid torture, hidden Jutsu techniques, the theory of chakra, ninja politics. She was in the safe zone now. She was just glad Kakashi lived in a mostly citizen populated area.

 

Kakashi stared for a moment before replying.

“Then I guess we better move to a more secluded area, shame too, I was just getting to the good part,” Kakashi said as he stuffed his book in his pocket.

 

----------------------------------------

Of course, they’d go to the training grounds, it was an obvious choice. They wouldn't risk his house, because civilians could interrupt or be listening in. Stray children will do anything to hear a shinobi so much as a yawn, so it was better not to take chances. the training grounds were permitted only for Ninja access, so they were safe from nosey civilians. Satya was surprised Kakashi came so easily, almost as if he’d been…...expecting this.

And he had been. Kakashi was a watchful sensei, and there were things hidden deep underneath all three of his students. A common theme between his students was that they were all hurting. Naruto was hurting from his treatment as a monster, Sasuke was hurting at the betrayal of Itachi, and Satya was hurting from the loss of her once-normal life. Naruto was loud and rambunctious to gain attention, so then people wouldn’t try to ignore him out of disgust. Sasuke was closed off, trying not to let anyone in so that if they were taken again, it wouldn't hurt him, and Satya was overprotective and always worrying, trying to make sure everyone was safe so that she couldn't lose them again.

 

But he had seen Satya’s reaction to certain things. He knew her clan was renowned for their knowledge in chakra, they understood it on a deeper level, even Satya, who lost access to her clan's knowledge at five years old, still carried with her a great degree of understanding on it. Which was why he wasn’t surprised when she was downright fearful of her two teammates. Ever since the mission, Satya would every so often steal glances at them, or what they could be. She would look at Sasuke’s eyes, or stare through Naruto.

 

That’s why he knew what this was about, he knew what she wanted to know, and he didn’t know what he could and could not say to her.

They sat down on a patch of grass, and Kakashi began.

 

“So, what are these so-called problems?”

“They're not really problems, per se, but I have questions only you can answer,” Satya said cryptically

 

“Well then, fire away,” Kakashi said.

“It’s about Sasuke”

Kakashi wasn’t surprised at this.

“Or well his eyes. His” Satya stopped herself for a moment. What did they call it again? She knew it by what her clan called it, so that’s what came to her first.

“His Sharingan?” Kakashi helped.

“Yes, that, his Sharingan. What, what is it?” Satya asked.

“What’s bringing this on?” Kakashi said amusingly.

Satya took a deep breath.

“Ever since he got it, he’s shot way past me and Naruto. Our spars have become lopsided, mismatched in his favour entirely. Whenever he has it on, he can cast ninjutsu before even I can, and it’s like he knows what I’m going to do next. But that’s not everything, his chakra control skyrocketed too, and his taijutsu” Satya said, almost as though she was reporting something crucial to a superior.

Kakashi smirked ever so slightly. “And that’s the only reason for you to ask about it? Nothing else?” Kakashi mused.

Satya’s eyes widened a little. He already had her real motives figured out. Somehow, someway, he knew that this was about more than just why Sasuke was improving.

“Maybe, but I came to get answers, not look into why I’m so curious,” Satya said, feigning a sense of ignorance.

Kakashi sighed for a moment. He knew this was coming, but not this soon. He could be reading make out tactics right now, not trying to explain something to his genin student in a way that won’t make her distrustful of her teammates, or him.

“The Sharingan is a special dojutsu. Only members of the Uchiha can awaken it” Kakashi started.

“So it’s a bloodline trait?” Satya said, more as a statement of fact than a question.

“Just how much does this kid know?” Kakashi mused. Satya had long since read about bloodline traits, mostly because she was ever so curious about if she had one herself. However, detailings on the Vaswani were lacklustre, and all she gathered as that her clan had a built-in affinity with the very essence of chakra. All her clan members apparently had abnormal chakra reserves and chakra control, but as far as she knew, they didn’t have a bloodline trait like a Jutsu or anything.

“Yes, it is a bloodline trait, a rare one. You already know what it can do. But you don’t know how it does what it does. The Sharingan allows one to experience extremely heightened eyesight. To someone with the Sharingan activated, you could clearly see every single little detail of your opponent, like how their muscles contract and expand before they attempt an attack. From there, you can easily see what attack they will perform. The Sharingan can break down and process an enemy's movements to such a high degree that they know what you are going to do as soon as the thought of acting enters your brain”

“So that’s how he’s gained such a boost in his taijutsu?” Satya asked.

“Exactly. But that isn’t all. The Sharingan can see chakra itself, even chakra within another person. If you perform a Jutsu, the Sharingan can read the hand seals instantly, and see how they affect a person's chakra, and deduce what the Jutsu is. Even if the Jutsu requires no hand seals, the Sharingan can see what the chakra in the person's body is being used for, and thus can tell what the Jutsu will be before it’s even performed.” Kakashi answered.

Somewhere, Satya’s mind was reeling at the thought of Jutsu with no hand signs. But that wasn’t the focus right now.

“So does that mean Sasuke knows the instant I intend to cast a jutsu?” Satya asked.

“Precisely. Even before you weave handeals, Sasuke will be able to see that your going to attempt a jutsu by the way you’re chakra flares up, and with the heightened reaction speed of the Sharingan, he can process that fact and make a note to react to it before you can even think to start the Jutsu.

That sounded unfair in Satya's opinion. How does one combat that?

“Hold on, so then what about the spike in chakra control?” Satya asked.

“Well, you saw what happened to me when I overused my Sharingan, it left me very drained. That’s because, without the proper chakra control, the Sharingan can consume all of your chakra very quickly.” Kakashi replied.

“So every time he uses it, he is forced to improve his chakra control then?” Satya mused.

“You hit the nail on the head,” Kakashi replied.

But Satya was more confused than ever.

“But sensei, don’t you have more chakra control then all of us? Why can Sasuke handle his so much better?” Satya inquired.

“Because unlike me, he’s an actual Uchiha,” Kakashi stated.

Wait, hold up, back up a bit. How the hell did he have a Sharingan then?

“And before you ask, I don’t want to explain how I got mine,” Kakashi said.

Satya’s eyes thinned a little. So he has secrets. Her clan viewed this dojutsu as evil, fueled by hate, and judging by Kakashi’s sudden toughness on the origin of his Sharingan, she didn’t know everything. She wouldn’t be able to crack the information out of him either, she wasn’t that good. But it was said to be dark, consuming and dangerous. So she just had to know.

“Will he be okay? Is it dangerous?” Satya asked in a slightly panicked voice.

Kakashi looked hesitant, but he answered.

“I think he will be, I mean, look at me, I’m fine,” Kakashi said.

Satya studied her sensei. Was he really okay though? Or was this a ploy? Either way, she knew they were done with this topic, but that didn’t mean she was done asking questions.

“Then what about Naruto?” Satya asked.

“What do you mean?” Kakashi said, and Satya knew he was playing dumb. She said to hell with the song and dance of feeling each other out, trying to grab information from each other.

Satya folded her arms in front of her chest.

“Come on Sensei, I know you know what I mean. There’s no way you didn’t see it……...didn’t feel it” She said accusingly and somewhat forcefully.

“So she’s got a bit of a temper huh? I guess she’s worried about her team, and that’s what can set her off. Good to know” Kakashi thought.

 

“That’s…..something you shouldn’t worry about,” Kakashi replied.

Not something to worry about. Was he insane? Did he think her to be stupid? She had seen it, felt it even. Naruto was…...was a monster. He tore through Haku, rag-dolling him. And his chakra was orange, orange and visible and dark and powerful and overwhelmingly raw. It wasn’t human, it was something else. How could she not worry about that!?

“I’ll stop worrying when I know what it was, what he is. That…..what happened…...it wasn't human. His chakra, or it’s chakra….. It was so… dark and powerful. Its sheer potency was unreal, unnatural even.”

Satya spoke in a fearful tone, and she looked like she was remembering something traumatic.

“Dang, looks like I need to deal with this now before it becomes a problem,” Kakashi thought.

“Listen Satya, as you’re sensei I’m telling you there are things you should just not concern yourself with, as a ninja you need to know this” Kakashi responded.

“I will concern myself with anything and everything that involves the safety of my teammates, be it Sasuke’s cursed eye’s or Naruto’s unnatural chakra, I will know!" Satya responded hotly, eyes fierce and determined. If Kakashi would fight her every step of the way, then she’d welcome the challenge.

It was at this precise moment that Kakashi truly understood just how far Satya would go for her teammates. He knew how far Sasuke would go, he had proved it, and he could guess at how far Naruto would go. But here, now, Kakashi knew Satya would do anything, even if that meant standing up to her Sensei.

Kakashi sighed a hefty sigh. There was no way around this. She’d ask around, read books, study Naruto as best she could. She’d figure it out herself, eventually, there was no point in hiding it anymore really. He also needed to watch her down the road too, considering she just referred to Sasuke’s Sharingan as his “cursed eyes”. He wouldn’t delve into that, but she needed to know about Naruto.

But he had to be serious about this, dead serious, shinobi serious.

“Alright alright, I will give you some information on it, but don’t ask for anymore, I’m already breaking some serious rules here,” Kakashi said sternly.

Satya nodded silently.

Kakashi looked seriously at her, like she was a real true shinobi. She sensed the shift in attitude. This was official.

“Satya Vaswani, I grant you the information that Naruto Uzumaki, ninja of the village hidden in the leaves, is the jinchuuriki host of the Nine-Tailed Fox.”

 

What
the
hell

 

------------------------------------------

 

Studying, that was her next course of action, naturally. After Kakashi had dropped that bombshell, Satya became absorbed in her readings. Kakashi told her more, about how the fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze sealed the nine-tailed fox into Naruto to save the village, and how the sealing jutsu was so strong that Naruto would be fine for years to come. That soothed her a little, but she needed to know more.

Satya had all but forgotten about her medical and jutsu books, they were practically collecting dust. She was far too busy drowning herself in any piece of information she could grab on both the Sharingan and the ninetails. Satya’s research led her to jinchuriki’s, records of them and such. There were cases of failed jinchuriki’s, but that was due to poor sealing methods. But Satya knew the signs to look for now. She learned about how the chakra tries to take over the host, how extreme emotions can push the chakra to the forefront. Kakashi had said that the sealing method was so good that Naruto would be fine, but he failed to mention that the ninetails was the strongest and most resilient of the tailed beasts.

She found some information on sealing jutsu, but it was way above her Paygrade. Due to the topic, she gained some very basic knowledge of the basic concepts, but nothing more.

On the contrary, there wasn’t much on the Sharingan. Satya wasn’t surprised, it was a clan dojutsu, so obviously, the clan liked to keep its secrets to themselves. Satya lied on her side, comfortably snuggled under the sheets of her bed, a cup of her clan’s tea on the nightstand.

“Maybe I do have an addiction?” Satya thought aloud. Not that she’d stop, to hell with that. Her current book was on recent Uchiha history. She already read all about the Uchiha’s role in the founding of the village, the tales of Madara Uchiha’s power, but they were just that, tales, unsubstantiated. But this, this stuff was recent. Although it seemed very clear cut, almost too clear cut.

Uchiha police force watches over the leaf, and then suddenly for no reason, Itachi Uchiha wipes them all out, well except for Sasuke. Why was Sasuke spared? That became Satya’s fixation. Perhaps he was special, but was that good or bad? Satya scoured for reasons, but she eventually came upon something, something that explained so much.

there it was, documented on the book of Itachi's immediate relatives, stated as of it had no more relevance than the colour of the sky being blue.

Itachi Uchiha is the older brother of Sasuke Uchiha.

Oh my god.

Satya’s eyes widened, she reread the family tree of the Uchiha over and over, hoping for a different outcome, hoping her eyes were going bad but no, they were, no, are indeed brothers.

Here Satya was, thinking she understood him, understood his pain, but really she didn’t understand a thing about him. Satya was not betrayed in such a way, hers was different. Now she knew, she knew and she couldn’t say she knew because if there was one thing she did know, it was that Sasuke wouldn’t want her knowing this.
So she had to play dumb, but was she supposed to ignore it? Satya used to wish that there was someone for her to unload her past terrors on. She could never tell anyone about how it felt to go from having a perfect life to losing it all in a matter of minutes, how it felt to never say goodbye, to never spend more time. Satya was a bright girl, even at five. She could speak and write in both her clan's language and the language of the continent, and she had an amazing memory, but all that did was make her miss them more. But there was no one, no one she could tell that to, yet she wished that there was. Perhaps in time, she could tell Ino, but that would take a good amount of time. Yet here she was, holding the power to help someone like her, she just had to be smart about it.

But what of Naruto? She needed to keep a heavy eye on him too, she needed his perspective on things, and she knew just how to do that. It was nearly six, the perfect time for dinner, and Staya knew just what to do. Satya threw the sheets off her bed, not caring about the mess she’d make. She usually was pretty clean and particular about these things, but there was no time to waste. She quickly got changed out of her at home attire and into her ever so loved green outfit. She could have worn that new blue dress, but the green outfit doubled as her ninja attire, and she might need it in case she gets roped into sparring. She had been slacking on that aspect recently, but she was busy.

She hopped from building to building, definitely enjoying the looks she got. She was being looked at as a ninja, an actual ninja. Satya could get used to that.

It didn’t take long for her to, of course, find Naruto in the training area. Where else would he be? If Satya thought about it, he didn’t really have anything else to do. He didn’t really hang out with anyone, he didn’t have any other hobbies as far as she knew, he had no family, training seemed like the only thing to do. Actually, that described Sasuke too. Was she really the only one in their team that did more than just train?

She approached a tired Naruto, lying on the ground who, as soon as he saw Satya, sprang up.

“Hey, Satya, where you been! Haven’t seen you train in forever!” Naruto exclaimed. In truth, she only stopped for about four days, not THAT bad, was it? And she had a valid excuse anyways. Satya gazed upon her teammate, and suddenly his bright demeanour was painful to look at. Underneath it, she knew there was a dark monster he was trying so desperately to hide. She had to help him with that, in any way she could.

She had a perfect plan, something that would give her time to feel Naruto out on the subject. She needed to be smooth about it, although Naruto was pretty dense so Satya assumed this wouldn’t be very hard.

“Yeah well, I’ve just been busy is all” Satya replied nonchalantly with a smile and a hand behind her head.

“If only you knew just what I was busy with, then you’d probably be thankful I care so much,” Satya thought.

“Heh, I can’t afford to slack off, I still gotta beat Sasuke!” Naruto exclaimed with determination.

It was at that moment that the blonde’s stomach growled, which honestly couldn’t be more perfect.

Naruto smiled a very bashful and cheeky smile, radiating energy as always. Satya smirked.

“Well, I guess you want some food, huh?” Satya asked.

“You know it!” He replied.

“Well that’s perfect, you do owe me some ramen, remember?” Satya said with a wicked smile, and Naruto’s face dropped tenfold into despair.

“W-wait wait, don’t you think we should split it?” Naruto begged.

Satya wanted to keep pushing his buttons, but did he really deserve that? The only correct answer was no.

“Alright alright, I was just kidding, now come on,” Satya said as she motioned for Naruto.

“Alright! I’ll race ya!” Naruto said, pumping a fist into the air before leaping off in the direction of Ichi raku’s ramen shop.

“Hey, you didn’t even give me a warning!” Satya said as she quickly followed behind, but it was evident Naruto was faster.

Physical skill was never her forte. But chakra was. Naruto was looking behind him at her, he had already reached the end of the training field, whilst she was still only halfway done. He smiled a very cocky smirk, and Satya knew she couldn’t let that stay.

Satya placed her hands in the tiger seal and concentrated for a moment as she ran. She felt her chakra pulse and quicken as she commanded it to surge rapidly in her body. In an instant, she used the body flicker technique, and she quickly caught up to and surpassed Naruto. But she couldn’t hold it for long.

With her great chakra control, she was able to maximize the effects of the jutsu whilst minimize its chakra cost. But it still involved her body. It involved the chakra stimulating her muscles to speed up, to make her move faster then her body would normally dream of. Ninja needed to have very resilient bodies to withstand the use of this jutsu for long, and Satya did not fall into this category.

Still, she gained a good distance from herself and Naruto before stopping the jutsu and returning to normal speed, and It seemed as though Naruto had no idea how to use the jutsu as she did.

She jumped from building to building, but Naruto was gaining on her.

“Don’t get comfortable just yet!” Naruto called as he inched closer.

Satya smiled as the wind brushed past her. She was laughing, and hell Naruto was too.

This was fun, she enjoyed this. Maybe she could stand to get out more. Hanging out with Ino had its charms, but Naruto made her feel like a kid again.

“You mean like how you did when you got a head start?” Satya called, not looking back.

"Just you wait!” Naruto called, and he sounded a lot closer than before.

“Damn, he’s quick,” Satya thought.

In the end, Satya had needed to use another body flicker, and Naruto still edged it out slightly.

“Ha, I win!” Naruto exclaimed.

“I can see that” Satya replied while panting slightly.

“And now, for my prize!” Naruto said as he ran into the shop.

Satya never really went to order ramen anymore. It wasn't something her clan ate and wasn't something she ever really sought out. When her family died out, she practically lived on instant ramen until she learned to cook. After having it for so long, she gave it up completely as soon as she learned the culinary arts

Naruto had ordered three different types of ramen off the bat, whilst Satya just had whatever was most recommended.

Satya was out of breath, tired, and sweaty. She really did not like physical labour, which was definitely an issue for a ninja.

Naruto was mowing through his food with, in Satya’s opinion, inhuman speed. It was so ludicrous that it was actually kind of impressive. She wouldn’t even attempt to match his speed in food consumption, it was impossible. Satya simply laughed as she said.

“Naruto, you gotta slow down!” Satya exclaimed with a smile, holding back some laughter.

“Do not!” Naruto managed to gurgle out between slurps.

Satya only laughed further. Naruto's appetite was absurd, like a starved fox finally coming across a rabbit, Naruto devoured his food. When she finally caught her breath, she was greeted with the sight of Naruto ordering 4 more bowls.

“Naruto, you’re gonna blow everything you made on our mission on just ramen” Satya scolded, but damn it there was still a smile on her face.

“Worth it!” Naruto exclaimed as he smiled bashfully.

Satya shook her head. He was ridiculous, both on and off the battlefield. That train of thought suddenly reminded her of her plan. She was trying to get info on Naruto’s condition straight from his mouth. She needed to focus!

She pondered for a moment, on the possibility that the ninetails being inside him is what made him so hungry. It sped up his bodies natural healing rate exponentially, so she couldn’t rule it out.

“Naruto, have you always had this kind of an appetite!” Satya asked. She was then reminded that during their mission, he routinely complained about a lack of food.

“Yup! You can’t be this great without needing lots of fuel!” He exclaimed as he took a giant mouth fool of noodles.

“I don’t remember you eating this much at the academy” Satya pried.

“Well, I never really got as much food as I wanted, but finally I can eat as much as I want since our paycheck!” Naruto explained.

Satya’s eyes thinned as she slowly ate.

“Why did you never get enough food?” Satya asked.

“Well, everyone used to always jack up the prices whenever I came around,” Naruto said somewhat bitterly as he slowed down. He looked down at his ramen bowl. His big smile was slowly fading.

Satya didn’t like where this was going, she needed to shift her angle.

“What about your stamina? How are you able to run for so long, it’s insane!” Satya made sure to exclaim this as to boost Naruto back up to his normal spunk.

“Heh, I’ve always been the best, I used to outlast the chunin that chased me whenever I did a prank, you should have seen some of their faces!” Naruto laughed remembering past events. It seemed flattery was a good way to get manipulate Naruto.

"I wonder if you could prank your way to victory in battle?” Satya said with a challenging smirk, she knew full well what his response would be.

“Now you’re talking, I got some great ideas!” Naruto said, rubbing his hands together with a foxy smirk. Satya wondered if this would somehow bite her back later.

The two ate some more, with Naruto clearing many more bowls. But Satya just couldn’t resist, she had to ask. She needed to know how it felt, how he viewed himself. Did he even know?

“Naruto…how did you do that?” She asked.

“Do what?” He asked quizzically.

“Breakthrough Haku’s ice mirrors, and fight him like that?” She asked meekly. The mood suddenly shifted.

Naruto straightened up stiffly, and she could sense he was suddenly a little more alert. But he also seemed ...deep in thought.

“I dunno…...I was just so mad, ya know?” Naruto said, refusing to meet her eye. That was the tip-off. Naruto never had a problem meeting anyone's gaze. This was the boy who could stare the Hokage square in the face and blow his tongue at him without fear, he never had any issues meeting anyone's gaze.

Which means for him to struggle and fail to look her in the eye now, meant only one thing.

He was hiding something.

And it was then that Satya knew that he knew.

Suddenly she wanted to tell him, tell him she knew and she was sorry and she would help him. He looked wistful and sad then, but he was trying to hide it.

She was out of her element here. Had this been Sasuke, she could give some discreet sign that she knew without ever saying it. Sasuke would understand the hidden message, and they’d never bring it up, but he’d know that she knew and she would know that he knew, and all would be good. But Naruto was not Sasuke. Any specially crafted hints or secret messages would fly over his head.

The only way to get through to Naruto was to be as blunt as he was, and she couldn’t do that. She wasn’t supposed to know, and Naruto probably didn’t want her to know, much less make a big deal out of it.

“Well, whatever you did, you beat him, so good job with that” Satya said in recognition.

“Say, you think you can pull that out against Sasuke? Losing to him in spars is getting old” Satya said in a slightly complaining voice.

“Just you wait, I’m not losing to that princess anymore, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed.

Satya really liked how easy it was to bring Naruto back up to his normal self. She didn’t have to be super tactful, she didn’t need to say the right things or do something special, Naruto naturally just couldn’t stay down for long. And that was refreshing, because when it came to stuff like this he was easy. It was easy to have conversations on a heavy topic with him, because he’d bounce back quickly.

She was grateful for that.

Maybe she could talk to him about her issues one day. She still never got over her parent's deaths, and she took it badly. It made her nearly obsessive in a way, obsessive about other people's safety. When she thought Sasuke died, she basically had a panic attack. That feeling of dread, of lack of control, she hated it, she loathed it she couldn’t live with it. She would never let herself feel it again.

Yes, maybe she could talk with Naruto. One day. But until then, she needed to make sure she was there for him too. That meant emotionally as a friend and as a ninja ally.

Which meant she couldn’t settle for strong she was now. She was proactive, she needed to protect her team. She couldn’t do anything about what was inside Naruto but she could damn well make sure nothing new harmed him.

She wouldn’t be powerless, never again.

She would make sure of that.

 

--------------------------------------------

 

“Hya!” Sasuke called out as he threw eight shuriken whilst falling headfirst to the ground. Each shuriken hit a target posted on a tree, all hitting the center too. The sun was beaming down from above the white clouds in the light blue sky, heating Sasuke Uchiha as he trained. Sweat lightly grazing his forehead, he was panting heavily.

How long had he been at it? It didn’t matter, he needed more power. There were still tons of ninja out there who completely outclassed him, he couldn’t accept that, he needed to get stronger, that was all that mattered.

“You know, you should tell me when you train, I can replenish your stamina quicker so you can keep going” Satya called from behind him as he landed, back turned towards her. When had she gotten here?

“Maybe you should be training instead of offering to help me,” Sasuke said, back still turned to her as he unleashed more shuriken, practicing his ability to make them curve, they all perfect curved in time to hit more posted targets.

“What I just offered would be great practice for a medical ninja,” Satya said. Sasuke smirked. She always seemed to have a reason for what she did. Perhaps he wasn’t giving his teammate enough credit.

“Helping me get stronger won’t close the gap you know,” Sasuke said as he finally turned around to see her.

Satya smirked a little, of course, all he cared about was power.

But that wasn’t true, was it? She didn’t believe so, she believed he cared about more than he let on.

Sasuke felt like her gaze was somehow able to fully see the deepest parts of his mind, it was unsettling in that it was so uncanny.

“Will you really refuse help for your training that will undoubtedly make it more efficient?” Satya said as she cocked an eyebrow. She always had to be on the top of her game with Sasuke, which was the exact opposite of how she was with Naruto really.

“Fine” Is all Sasuke said.

Satya walks towards him and begins to cast a medical jutsu to decrease his general fatigue. She glanced at all the targets, kunai and shuriken lodged in each bullseye. She was envious really, of his skill with weapons.

When Kakashi trained her on weapons during their mission, he got her aim so that she’d land a bullseye shot with any kunai or shuriken. But that was just it, with any kunai, with any singular kunai. Any more than one in each hand and her accuracy dropped. Three or more and only one would hit and it wouldn’t be accurate. So for Sasuke to casually throw out bundles of ninja weapons perfectly was nothing short of staggering for Satya.

This didn’t go unnoticed by Sasuke.

“You need to relax when you throw kunai or shuriken” Sasuke commented as he looked at the targets whilst Satya healed him, light almond brown hand glowing with green as it worked on pale Uchiha arms.

“You were watching my training?” Satya asked curiously.

Was that a blush on Sasuke’s face? The mere notion was absurd. She couldn’t check as he conveniently looked at another target in a way that concealed the alleged blush.

“Not the point,” Sasuke said somewhat defensively

“So you WERE watching. Well, I’m flattered honestly” Satya said with a smirk as Sasuke looked farther away.

Sasuke didn’t enjoy how she seemed to know how to get under his skin in such a way that was less annoying then it was embarrassing.

“I guess I shouldn’t be trying to help,” Sasuke said.

He glanced over to see Satya smile when he said he was trying to help her. She took it as that he cared.

Wait…..did he care? Sasuke was hit with a big realization that moment. He did care. He cared about her, about Naruto and about his sensei even. He was just too stubborn to admit it. That's why he jumped in front of Naruto back then. That had to be it. Was that bad? Was it bad to care? Maybe not for others, but he had a mission and caring was a weakness, and he couldn't afford to be weak. His walls were going up, he shouldn’t care, he needs to be focused, not getting soft of all things.

Satya noticed the frown that was making its way on his face, and she could tell why.

“Well, I’m grateful you're trying to help. I’ll make sure to help as well” Satya said softly, and somehow, someway, it made him think that maybe caring was alright.

“Yea,” Sasuke said distantly as he stared off. He looked as though he was pondering something. Satya wondered, if she had just done something game-changing. He looked as though he was the moon, slowly giving in to the idea of letting the sun take over. As she finished healing him, she decided that maybe now would be the time to build bridges, to capitalize on Sasuke’s emotional walls being somewhat down.

Sasuke's eyes always seemed distant, but recently they seemed cold thanks to Sharingan. Even when not when activated, those evil eyes always emitted a dark presence. But at this very moment, it was like the darkness of his eyes finally faded out, even if just slightly. Yes, now would be the time to start throwing hints.

"How has your body been since Zabuza?" She asked.

"Fine," He said simply.

Satya hesitated.

"And....your eyes?"

".......fine, why?" Sasuke said as he looked her in the eyes, eyebrow raised.

Satya's breath caught.

"I know next to nothing about your eyes, what they are or what they mean."

"That doesn't concern you"

"That's not true, I-"

Sadly, she never got to continue, as the pair was then met with…..a talking dog?

A small dog with a leaf headband approached them.

“Hey, are you two Sasuke and Satya?” It asked, and Satya about lost it.

 

Sasuke’s eyes narrowed whilst Satya’s enlarged.

“Don’t give me that expression, I was sent by Kakashi. He said to meet him at the bridge where you guys usually meet” The dog explained.
“What for,” Sasuke said.

“Dunno, but he said to come as quickly as possible”

As quick as the dog came, he left.

“Are you not at all interested in how sensei got a talking dog!?” Satya said in a somewhat shocked voice. She needed to find out more about this later.

“It doesn’t matter, Sensei said it’s urgent, we should get moving,” Sasuke said.

Satya agreed, so off they went.

But the remnants of their unfinished conversation played through both
ninja's minds.

as they ran, Sasuke desperately tried to fill in what Satya was going to say. Why he cared so much he didn't know.

but he couldn't stop wondering........just what was she going to say?

Maybe one day he'd find out.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------

 

“Who the hell says something’s urgent and then is an hour late!” Naruto exclaimed as he stomped a foot in anger. Sasuke was simply leaning on the redwood railing of the bridge, visibly bored and irritated, although he didn’t make a spectacle about it.

Satya wasn’t always a complainer, per se, but she was sensible. Plus, who can blame her for a little complaining, had she not earned that right when she was bussing tables at age 8?

“I have to agree, Kakashi sensei had me worried, but clearly it isn’t that important,” Satya said sarcastically.

“Hn” Sasuke simply said, although Satya could tell it meant he agreed.

“Oh come on, cut your poor old sensei some slack,” Kakashi said from behind all three of them.

Naruto whirled around, Sasuke glared, and Satya tensed slightly.

"Why do you always have to be so damn late all the time sensei!” Naruto accused loudly as he boldly pointed a finger at Kakashi.

“Hey, I’m not always late,” Kakashi said as he put a hand behind his head.

Satya had respect for the man, a lot of respect, but she also had respect for herself and her time.

“Sensei, lying to your comrades isn’t teamwork” Satya pointed out.

“And not trusting your comrade's words isn’t teamwork either” Kakashi effortlessly countered. It was to be expected, he was a high ranking jounin after all.

Thankfully, Sasuke came to the rescue.

“That kind of thinking gets you ambushed by an enemy posing as your ally with the transformation technique,” Sasuke says blandly, although
he flashes you a very faint smirk.

 

“Well, I suppose your right on that one. I guess I made the right choice, recommending all three of you for the chunin exams” Kakashi replies, and if Satya wasn’t so distracted by the news, she would commend Kakashi on how he changed the subject by using very valuable information as a lure.

Sasuke’s eyes widened slightly, but Naruto just had a blank look on his face.

“Chunin exams, what the heck are those?” Naruto exclaimed, and Satya couldn’t even say she was surprised that he didn’t know.

“Oh, Naruto” Kakashi sighed.

“Naruto, the chunin exams are the tests that genin take to be promoted to the rank of chunin like Iruka sensei,” Satya said.

“No way! We get a promotion? You’re the best Kakashi sensei!” Naruto says as he tackled Kakashi, bear-hugging him, at least until Kakashi gets Naruto off him.

“Now now Naruto, you still have to actually pass the test, and fill out these forms, but the chance of a promotion is there,” Kakashi says as he hands them application forms.

The forms were standard enough, although there were some complications for the three of them.

“Legal guardian? What's that?” Naruto said quizzically as he read the form.

Kakashi sensed the troubles this would bring, and quickly dismissed the issue.

“Don’t worry about that Naruto, you can look at the forms later. Anyways, I have to run, important business and all” Kakashi said quickly.

Sasuke cocked an eyebrow.

“You mean read more of that book of yours?” he said in a slightly agitated yet amused voice.

“That's for me to know, and for you to never find out,” Kakashi said cheerfully before disappearing in a small cloud of smoke

Sasuke ended up leaving right after, so it was just Naruto and her.

They talked for a while, but it became apparent they were being followed. They both turned around to see a cardboard box painted as a rock.

“That’s the worst disguise ever, no rock is square!” Naruto pointed out.

“Your slick boss, I’ll give ya that” a voice piped up from the box, before a young boy popped out.

“Konohamaru? What the heck are you doing here?” Naruto asked.

“Following my eternal rival of course!” Konohamaru said. Satya was just watching the whole fiasco with a curious expression. How naruto knew this child was beyond her, but he seemed to be just like Naruto, The only difference was age and appearance.

She didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing, but one Naruto was good enough for her.

“Eternal rival? I don’t have time for that, I'm a real ninja now, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed with pride and gusto, jerking a thumb to his headband.

Satya was going to retort for the fun of it, but she bit it back. After Zabuza, after Naruto’s efforts, he was a ninja, that was for sure. It was strange, thinking of him as an actual ninja, but of course, she’d need to get used to it.

“Well, I’m gonna catch up soon boss!” Konohamaru said, before looking towards Satya, a puzzled expression riddled on his face.

“Hey boss, who’s this, your girlfriend?”

Satya suddenly felt very embarrassed, very agitated, very flattered, very confused, and had an urge to laugh, all at once.

“Hm, oh yea,” Naruto says simply, nodding as if it was as normal and as true as stating that the sky was blue. Konohamaru’s eyes sparkled. Satya was all for letting Naruto have his moments, but she drew a line here.

Satya smacked him on the back of the head, hard. In fact, she poured some chakra into it. His head jerked forward, and a yelp came from the blond ninja.

“Think before you speak Naruto. You're a valued teammate, but we are never going out together, period. No offence of course” Satya said cooly but with a sharp edge. She could be scary if she wanted to.

“Owwwwwwwwww. You didn’t have to do that, ya know!”

“Well, you didn’t have to make such an untrue lie” Satya responded quickly. Not in an angry tone, more in a humoured tone. Even she had to admit, this situation was sort of funny. Besides, she couldn’t really stay mad for long.

“Well, it doesn’t matter, because I'm gonna beat both of you! And I’ll prove it by getting to the Hokage tower before you do!” The thirds grandson quickly sprang into a sprint, but it was nowhere near fast enough. Naruto could use chakra to amp his speed, and although he had terrible control with it, he could pour so much chakra thanks to his un-natural reserves to make up for it. Satya, on the other hand, had precise control and could maximize the speeding effect she gained through chakra use. She could still use improvement of course, but she was easily past average chunin level in chakra control.

To them, Konohamaru might as well have been walking. It truly was amazing, how far a little chakra training with the right application went. Kakashi was right, getting good at this would make you a much better shinobi.

The thirds grandson didn’t make it very far at all, as he bumped into a boy, roughly one year older than Satya. He wore a black outfit that was quite baggy, and was carrying a giant wrapped up package on his back. He had purple face paint, and it became obvious he was not a leaf citizen or ninja.

That fact was confirmed the moment this mysterious person picked up the child by the collar.

“So…...does this hurt, punk?” The offender said mockingly as he tightened his grip. The way he effortlessly mocked him, the way he seemed to enjoy hurting a child, it froze Naruto for a moment, and all he did was stare worryingly, bug-eyed.

“Put him down Kankuro, or you know you’ll pay for it later,” A blonde girl said behind him, more annoyed than anything.”

Satya decided she didn’t like where this was going, so she tried to go the peaceful route.

 

'We apologize for any trouble we caused. I'm sure this is all jus-"

“YOU BETTER PUT HIM DOWN RIGHT NOW!” Naruto exclaimed loudly, seemingly angered. It seemed as though he came to his senses, and had a sudden disdain for the situation. Almost as if he had experienced it often.

“There goes being diplomatic,” She said sulkily in her head.

 

“Hey, we got some time to kill, why not mess with these punks, eh?” The male with the painted face said.

Konohamaru squirmed, more frightened than anything.

“Heh, seems the leaf is full of weaklings” He continued.

 

“Put him down!” Naruto yelled as he surged forward.

Satya spring in an instant, no hesitation. To her, combat was synonymous with deadly risk. She sees her teammate charge in, and she refuses to let them go alone, no hesitation, no thoughts. Not because she’s impulsive, but because she’s determined to see them come through okay.

The male with the painted face moves his fingers in an almost inhuman way, like a spider, and suddenly Naruto is twisted before he falls face first.

“Naruto!” Satya says sharply. Combat mode was in full effect. Her eyes hardened, her chakra flowed quickly, her heart raced. Naruto looked her in the eyes, and he found a fierce expression. He saw Satya as a caring teammate, one who was smart and cool-headed and in control. But he learned then that she too was a hardened soul.

“I don’t like little runts, and that's what all of you are. When I see runts like these acting all tough, I just gotta break them in half” He says menacingly.

“Fine, whatever, I'm not involved in this anyway,” The blond girl says behind him, sounding bored.

The male brings back his fist to punch Konohamaru, and Naruto springs up.

She can see the fist closing, and Naruto won’t make it in time.

Her hands weave through seals, acting on autopilot. She didn’t even consciously decide what jutsu to use, her body just knew.

She finished on the tiger seal, but the jutsu wasn’t needed, as a rock shot at the painted male's hand, cutting it across as it nicked him.

He dropped the thirds esteemed grandson promptly, clutching his hand. They all looked above to where it came from, and found Sasuke Uchiha sitting atop a branch on a tree, one leg dangled down as he leaned on the main section of the tree casually. He was throwing another rock up and catching it as it came down casually, seemingly not phased at all.

“You’re a long way from home, and way out of your league too,” He remarks casually, face stone cold and in control.

Satya wondered why he intervened. Did he just hate the sight of an obvious bully, or did he care about the potential outcome of a fight?

Their eyes locked briefly, and she could make out a look in his eye that told her to let him take care of it, to trust him.

So he did care. That was twice today he showed that. Interesting.

“Oh yeah? Why don’t you come down here? You’re the kind of runt I hate the most, all attitude and no action!” The painted male said as he took the wrapped package off his back. It was tall, almost like a body bag.

“Kankuro, are you seriously using the crow for this?” The blonde said, astonished.

“Damn right. Not just him though, that stupid girl over there seems to think she’ll make a difference too”

It was at this moment that Satya realized she still had her hands in the last seal required for a water jutsu. In fact, her chakra was still flowing with potential, ready to form at her command.

Sasuke’s eyes seemed to twinge, and a flash of harsh anger followed at the remark made towards Satya.

But then, a cold, dark voice from the other side of the tree Sasuke was sitting on spoke, and it was bone-chilling.

“Kankuro, back off, your an embarrassment to our village” Satya nearly shivered. Standing upside down, a red-haired boy glared coldly at the scene. He was hanging upside down from the same tree as Sasuke, but on the other side of the stalk. Satya saw Sasuke's eyes widened. They locked eyes, looking at each other for clarity.

“So he didn’t notice either” Satya thought worriedly.

“Not even she noticed from her angle? Who is this guy?” Sasuke thought.

“Oh...uhhh sorry Gaara, but you see, this is..ah... Just a misunderstanding, What really happened-”

“Shut up before I kill you” Gaara replied coldly.

“Yeah sure, s-sorry Gaara, I was totally out of line, I didn’t know what I was d-doing, I was uh, totally out of line,” Kankuro said practically falling over himself.

The one named Gaara used some sort of sand body flicker to quickly appear behind Kankuro.

“Sorry for any trouble my friend caused”

He didn’t sound sorry at all, more annoyed, as if he hated the idea of needing to apologize at all. He also was radiating this sort of eerie vibe of killer intent, like Zabuza, but Gaara’s never faltered.

Satya’s hands still didn’t leave the hand seal position, she didn’t want to take any chances.

“Hold on, you are most certainly not leaf Shinobi, so what’s your reasoning for being here?” Satya said so cooly. Her voice had an edge as a cat’s body did when it was holding itself back from pouncing.

“We’re here for the chunin exams, you have heard of them, haven’t you?” The blonde girl said as they turned to leave.

Naruto gulped, and Sasuke glared. Sasuke’s eyes drifted to Satya’s hands.

“She’s still ready to fight. Is she that worried, or is she just cautious? She speaks like she's calm and in control, yet she makes actions that convey a sense of fear. I just can’t read her.” Sasuke thought to himself.

Satya lowered her hands as they faded away. Then it hit her. They were going to enter the chunin exams, THE chunin exams. It was well known that many died in them, and those people were going to be taking it too. They would be competing. Those people were enemies to them.

They could die, and they didn’t have their legendary jounin sensei to help them. They were on their own, and they didn’t have long to prepare.

“Guys,” She said.

“We need to start preparing, fast”

Chapter Text

The chunin exams. It was what every genin rushed to qualify for, which in turn contributed to the high death toll. This was where ninja who honed their craft fought to gain rank, this wasn’t like picking weeds or fighting bandits, this was the first taste of true shinobi life in all aspects. Survival, stealth, intelligence gathering, you name it and the chunin exam tested it. If you pass, then you have truly begun your career as a real ninja. If you didn’t, then your career would usually be cut short, most likely because you probably died.

The idea of death seemed all too real once more. Death could happen, it was a real possibility and the thought of it shook Satya to the bone. She was so caught off guard by this. Were they ready? Could they handle this? There was so much she needed to do, and so little time. The day had already nearly ended. Team 7 agreed to meet up first thing in the morning to train, as well as beg Kakashi for assistance.

Satya basically sprinted home. 7 days not including this one, that was what the date on the form said. Seven days until the exam that chose whether they lived or died. Satya Quickly deduced that seven days was not enough time to learn anything extraordinary and different. She wasn’t going to be able to cover her taijutsu weakness in seven days, so it was pointless to try. With such a short amount of time, the best thing to do was train her strengths, as those would improve the quickest. Water style, genjutsu and medical ninjutsu. That’s what she offered. Sasuke offered fire style, shuriken and enhanced taijutsu. Naruto offered clones and, well, more clones.

They could make it assuming they played their hand correctly.
Satya was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice that she had wound up in the training grounds, meaning she had taken the long route back home. Which in actuality led to more problems, as Satya suddenly heard a presence behind her.

The sun had been setting for a while, and the sky was a blend of purple and black at the moment, but when she turned around, Satya could make out a shinobi behind her in a mist headband.

“Here for the chunin exams?” Satya said simply as she looked him in the eyes. He had a straw hat and a blue coat.

“Heh heh heh, that’s correct, but I stand before you for a reason little girl” The shinobi responded menacingly.

Satya had felt something was off ever since she had first turned around. Like a problem internally, as if something within her wasn’t working right. Satya decided not to keep the man waiting any longer. All the chunin participants seemed to be very threatening so far, and this didn’t bode well.

“And I assume you're going to tell me said reason?” Satya asked.

“My, what a smart little princess, very well. I’m here to thin out my competition” He said slowly.

Satya realized it then, that this man was not really here, it was a genjutsu. She could tell, being a genjutsu user herself. The craftsmanship was good, upper chunin. In fact, it was too similar to someone else’s work whom she knew.

“Well I don’t want to keep you waiting, so how about you just end this genjutsu and get on with it?” Satya said.

“Oh? Bold of you to assume this is a genjutsu, I think you’ll find the pain I’m about to put you through it quite REAL” The man said as he threw an umbrella at her with spikes, but the ninja tool simply faded through her.

Satya needed to get home, so she thought she’d end this quickly. Her hands formed 6 seals, each time she felt the chakra binding her to the enemy's genjutsu weaken, and on the final seal, it broke. This was a more advanced version of the standard genjutsu release, something only genjutsu users could do. The idea was to create the same genjutsu but reversed in every way possible, and apply it to oneself, so both Genjutsu cancelled out. It had to be very precise, and the difficulty scaled with the level of genjutsu the user was trying to counteract. This, however, was a step down from the genjutsu reversal, in which the user not only cancels the original genjutsu out, but then takes it and sends it back to the enemy who cast it.

As soon as the genjutsu came undone, Satya sensed the man throw a punch at her head from behind. She ducked, but barely, and he kicked her square in the chest, sending her forward in the air. As Satya was kicked, she slipped a paper bomb on the ground next to her attacker's feet. When she hit the ground, the recoil pushed the air out of her lungs forcefully. She could feel the dirt stain her green outfit, the softness of it mixed in with slight moisture cooling her skin through the fabric. Stains, she was always stained, wasn't she? By the dirt and filth of life, by the pain of loss, she was always stained.

The attacker took six steps forward, which would be enough for the explosion to not be fatal. Lying there on the grass, Satya detonated it with chakra. She threw her hands up in front of her face as she stood up, facing the roar of the blast. When the dust settled, she saw the ninja lying on his back, about 8 feet behind her.

“You can cut the act Iruka sensei, no one needs to get hurt more than they already have,” Satya said with a slightly forced smile.

There was a poof of smoke, and gone was the mist ninja, replaced with a groaning Iruka. “When did you realize it was me?” He said as he held his back.
“I knew I was in a genjutsu before the fight started, but I only figured out it was you right before I broke it,” Satya said.

Iruka got up fully, beaming through the pain. “As sharp as ever I see. And to think I was worried for you in regards to the chunin exams. Now I know you’ll do great.” Iruka said.

Satya tucked some of her black hair behind her ear. “Thank’s sensei, that means a lot,” She said. That was just the kind of thing she needed to hear right now. Through all the fear and doubt in her mind, Iruka's words shone like a beacon of hope.

“I can’t believe you’re already going to participate. Make sure to take care out there Satya” Iruka said, almost fatherly.

“I will, but not just for me, but for my reckless teammates too,” Satya said with a sly smirk.

“Speaking of them, I have to go test them too and see if I think they're ready. Good luck Satya!” Iruka said before he used the body flicker in conjunction with a smoke bomb to disappear.

Getting home after that was easy. Picking what area to focus on was not. Water ninjutsu would be good because it would help in fights by providing long-range attacks. Genjutsu was great because it helped with stealth, and medical ninjutsu was also a solid option because it allowed her to make sure her teammates were back on their feet.

Satya knocked out water ninjutsu first. It was useful, but using it consistently with no water supply would drain her chakra faster than the other options. She could still do it, and she was really good at conserving chakra, but if there was a prolonged survival exercise, water ninjutsu would be used sparsely. It was too dependant on the situation. That left Genjutsu and medical ninjutsu. Medical ninjutsu would definitely help in a survival exercise, but battle wise she wasn’t at the level where she could heal mid-battle safely. It took too long for her to heal, and rendered her immobile, and she had to tunnel vision on the treatment. One day, she might be able to hold a candle to the greatest medical ninja in the world, who was said to heal wounds in seconds, and was hailed as the greatest battle medic of all time. She could switch between attacking and healing in an instant, or so the legends said. But that was a long, long ways away.

Genjutsu would be better for stealth and actual battles, but once again didn’t help if they were required to survive. Naruto had an abundance of chakra, but Sasuke was prone to running low, and only medical ninjutsu could help with that.

In the end, Satya knew that having a medical ninja on your team was one in a hundred when taking the chunin exams since hardly any participants could use it. So, it was probably best to squeeze all the possible value out of it.

 

She just better pray that she doesn’t end up in a one on one battle.

 

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The next day the three genin woke up early, slipped a note under Kakashi’s door, and went for training. Naruto and Sasuke would spar, in which Sasuke would win, and they would go again. When Sasuke got tired, Satya would heal him, and it went on like that for about an hour. Naruto got tired once, but Satya was able to get him back on his feet much quicker then she deemed her skill level, no doubt thanks to the nine-tailed fox.

It was about an hour in that Kakashi showed up, book in hand and clearly groggy.

“I guess you guys want me to help you, huh?” Kakashi said exasperatedly.

“Of course we do! You’re our sensei, now act like it!” Naruto exclaimed, and no one really stopped him.

“Okay okay, sheesh. Why don’t we do a little stealth training?” Kakashi said.

“Stealth training?” Satya said quizzically. She hadn't expected that, but it made sense. Stealth was the first attempt all ninja took in completing a mission.

“So stealth is involved in the exam then,” Sasuke said simply.

“Bingo. Your job will be to track me and take me out in a stealth-like manner. After, I give you guys some pointers of course” Kakashi said.

“Pointers? Like what?” Naruto asked excitedly.

“Like how you need to be more quiet Naruto,” Kakashi said.

“Wha-hey!” Naruto exclaimed offended. " I can be quiet! I just choose-"

“Don’t start dobe,” Sasuke scolded with a slight hiss.

“Oh yeah? well I-”

"Naruto, why don't we test how quiet you can be, starting now," Satya said, cutting Naruto off.

“Well alright then, let's begin,” Kakashi said, following up on Satya's initiative.

And begin they did. Kakashi covered how to stand, how to run, how to crouch, how to lie down, all of it. He made everyone roll around on their stomachs until they muffled the sound as much as possible. Satya was never a kid who liked to roll around in the mud, and honestly, she hated how her clothes were getting stained. After yesterday, she had to wash her trademarked green ninja outfit, and it was seeming to be in vain.

“Satya, forget your clothes and do it right, at least Naruto has embraced it,” Kakashi said, and on cue Naruto was rolling around, a big smile plastered on his face.

“Although his technique is horrible, at least he’s trying,” Kakashi stated, seemingly trying to convince himself more than anything.

“This is stupid and a waste of time,” Sasuke said angrily. “Even if we do it perfectly, we can’t mask the sound completely, and we look like idiots.” Sasuke continued, clearly disliking his clothes being caked in dirt as well.

“If you can’t handle rolling on the ground then I suppose you’ll just stay a genin forever,” Kakashi said simply. Sasuke’s eyes glared fiercely. He clearly didn't like that particular comment. "I'll show him, I'll show him and I'll show Itachi. just wait" Sasuke thought somewhat angrily.

Kakashi turned to head over to Naruto, who rolled to the other side of the training field, leaving an angry Uchiha and an annoyed Vaswani. Lying on their stomachs, the two looked completely done with the training, and their eyes met. The anger that had just plagued Sasuke seemed to melt away at the sight of his teammate. The two of them, caked in dirt and lying on the ground together, it had such a resemblance to his old life before everything went wrong. It was this sense of calmness amongst the raging storm that was Sasuke's life that quelled his anger.

Sasuke simply smirked and tsked before saying “At least I’m not the only sane person here.”

Satya laughed, a big, hearty laugh, mostly because she wasn’t expecting it. A joke? From Sasuke? That was unheard of. This was a rarity in more ways than one. Sasuke seemed happy that he made her laugh, almost like he had forgotten, just for a moment, amidst the dirt and smell of grass, amidst her dishevelled hair and his pale arms stained with brown mud, that he had lost it all. Or maybe, just maybe, he started to think he didn’t lose everything.

She knew she didn’t, she lost a lot, but she didn’t lose this. She didn’t lose all of it because she had just gained it again, and she wanted to keep it.

“I don’t like this either, but I suppose if it will help our chances at passing” Satya started.

“Then it’s worth all the trouble” Sasuke finished.

They both looked at each other a little longer.

“Yea” Satya breathed.

They would be okay, they had to be.

Because she couldn’t lose this, not again.

Never again.

 

----------------------------------------------

The training was nonstop, just like how it was when they prepared for Zabuza. Stealth was a huge focus, and Satya had managed to grasp it as soon as they started to cover the art of using chakra to mask the noise you make. Kakashi seemed to hammer home the importance of physical work. It made sense really. The harder you work, the more chakra your body needed to use to replenish your stamina, and thus the body would react by increasing its reserves to compensate. So that’s what they did. An hour of stealth, an hour of working out plus taijutsu sparring, and then an hour on chakra applicability. Focusing chakra to the feet to move faster, to hit harder, to become more durable and much more was what Kakashi drilled into them.

Every day was gruelling, but it was worth it.

After every training session, Satya would hang out with someone just a bit, before then studying more on medical ninjutsu and genjutsu. On the fourth day, Satya was hanging out with Ino when she found out that Ino was going to be participating as well.

“You’re kidding, you’re gonna be in it too!” Ino said happily as the two of them walked through the streets. She seemed ecstatic at the prospect of both of them taking the exam together.

“I’m more surprised your team is taking it, did Shikamaru really agree to take the exam?” Satya asked quizzically. There was simply no way Shikamaru agreed without some level of force.

“Ugh, don’t even get me started, he was the hardest to convince, sensei basically gave him a two-hour speech while playing shogi over why he should take it.

“Typical, I know Shikamaru is fond of that game, although I don’t know why. Is it really that good?” Satya asked.

“Have you never played?” Ino said as she tilted her head to the side.

“Not once” Satya replied. Her clan, from what she remembered, did not play this game. They had other games they played, in their own language with their own rules. Satya grew up on those, and never really had a chance to play the famous leaf village tactics game of shogi.

“Really? Even I’ve played it a few times, and I don’t even like strategy games” Ino said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“Well, maybe I could play one day after the exam” Satya said as they rounded a corner.

“Speaking of, I hope you know I’m not gonna go easy on you. I intend to win, and I intend to beat you too. We’re still rivals you know” Ino said somewhat scoldingly, fire in her eyes.

While Ino’s eyes were passionate and burning, ready to spring into action, Satya’s turned somewhat mischievous and confident.

“I welcome the challenge, just don’t expect to win,” Satya said deviously.

“Oh really? I’ll have you know you should never underestimate a Yamanaka, and a Nara even less so”

The two walked side by side, egging each other on. Satya did indeed feel a sense of rivalry coming over her. Deep down, she was burning to beat Ino. But on the other hand, she was more concerned for her safety, but this was an exam, Ino had to pass on her own merits, not with Satya’s help. But could Satya say she passed if she allowed a friend to fail? Were they even friends under the exam, or would they be considered enemies?

The two walked on, but surprisingly, they ran into a certain raven-haired Uchiha as they were walking. Ino, of course, freaked out.

Ino practically ran up to Sasuke. Said Uchiha met Satya’s eyes over Ino’s shoulder for a moment, his eyes half curious half snarky. His eyes basically said "Really? You’re with her?”

To which Satya rolled her eyes, which meant “She’s not THAT bad”

Ino, on cue, contradicted her friend.

“Oh Saaaaaassssukeeee, How are you!” Ino said cheerily and seductively, drawing out his name and sticking out her hips.

“Fine, now get out of my way,” Sasuke said coldly. He seemed to not be in the mood for this, although that seemed to be the case every time he saw Ino.

“Awwwwwww, come on Sasuke, you don’t wanna be lonely alllllllllll the time, do you?” Ino said somewhat seductively. They were still kids and this was wrong on many levels. Satya approached from behind too, if nothing else, see her friend. Now whether that was Sasuke or Ino at this moment, she didn’t really know.

“Ino’s got a point Sasuke, being alone doesn’t really help much” Satya responded as she stood beside Ino. Satya had decided that Ino did have a point, even if she was coming from the wrong place. Sasuke, like her before team 7, was nearly always alone. Them being in a team helped, but outside of training, he was always alone. She knew what that did to you, how that made you feel. Even now she still felt lonely sometimes, because that hole never closes fully, but Sasuke wasn't helping to thin it much.

“I’m not always alone” Sasuke stated simply.

“You so are! Come on Sasuke” Ino said sweetly.

“It's true you know,” Satya said.

Sasuke looked her dead in the eyes.

“We just trained for over three hours together, I was not alone.” He said simply.

Ino looked affronted.

“True, but that was simply so you could get stronger for the exam, not to enjoy the company” Satya replied.

Sasuke hesitated, but settled on saying in a very factual tone, “I never said I didn’t like the company,”

Satya’s brows furrowed slightly. “That’s not true, you said, and I quote, Kakashi was impossible and Naruto was an idiot as always” Satya even tried to Imitate Sasuke's voice for effect. Despite her attempts to be light-hearted, Satya was puzzled. Sasuke wasn’t making sense to her. Why would he say he didn’t mind the company, even though he always complained about it? Was this some sort of joke? Was he going to turn this into another jab against Kakashi or Naruto? He should know Satya knows him, she knows he’s been somewhat annoyed with his team the last few days. He often felt Naruto was holding them back, and Kakashi didn’t take it seriously enough. Just what was he getting at?

Sasuke looked away from Satya a little, and said in a very quiet and hesitant tone “I never complained about you,”

Oh

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.

Ino practically hit the floor with that one. Sasuke refused to meet her gaze, but his gaze was up high. It held a defiant nature to it, but he was also slightly flustered.

Perhaps she didn’t know him as well as she thought she did. What to say to that? She knew Sasuke wanted to leave it at that, didn’t want to dwell on it. So she wouldn’t harp on it much at the moment.

“Well, the feeling is mutual I guess. Do you maybe wanna, I don’t know, continue walking with us?” Satya tried. She didn’t really know how to respond to this situation.

Ino was glaring holes in her head.

“No thanks, I’m going to train more, you two have fun messing around, but don’t get surprised if you don’t make the exam,” Sasuke said with a challenging smirk.

So that’s how it was then. “If we fail, it’ll be because of your lack of ninjutsu. One fireball trick isn’t enough you know” Satya replied.

Sasuke simply tsked and walked off, but as he walked off he simply called back “Sharingan, remember?” Satya watched him leave, smirking to herself as she shook her head a little. Interacting with Sasuke was always weird. It was usually a tight balancing act of keeping him from being too broody and annoyed, but not overly friendly to him. In return, he would often throw jabs at you as a defence mechanism, but not before showing some sense of friendliness. It was a very particular game too, with both players feeling each other out, and it kept her on her toes, and the payoff was very high, which in turn always made it exhilarating. Naruto was constantly high energy, he bombarded you with his energy and he'd take the front seat. Naruto was overwhelming and always brought with him a sense of excitement that was infectious. Sasuke brought with him a sense of guarded kindness. He was fire and ice, lightning and more. He kept you thinking, kept you thrilled, and surprised you when he felt like it. He was calm yet thrilling, he was reserved yet always watching.

When the Uchiha was out of earshot, Ino was all on her.

“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT” She exclaimed. Satya jumped a little from the sudden outburst.

“My god Ino, what was what?” Satya asked.

“You know what! When did you get so close with Sasuke!” Ino said while fuming.

“Close? We’re not that close, what are you talking about?”

“Are you crazy, he hardly tolerates anybody, trust me, I’d know. And yet here he is basically saying he likes being with you! That’s like years ahead of where I’m at with him, and you don’t even like him anyway!”

Ino did have a point. “I mean, I guess we kind of are close, or as close as one can get with Sasuke. I don't know, being teammates will do that I guess” Satya said with a shrug

Ino was fuming the whole way back.

 

-------------------------------------------------------------

 

Here it was, the chunin exams. Team seven had met up early, and walked to the building together, although thanks to Naruto they were about five minutes late. Typical really.

As they made it to what they presumed to be the third floor, Satya immediately noticed that something was not right. As they walked, Sasuke and Satya gave each other a side-eye, and it was then that she knew she wasn't going crazy. Something was indeed wrong here. Two more steps in and she noticed it. Genjutsu, and an area of effect one, placed under you the second you entered the building.

The three of them made it to what looked to be room 301, but two chunin were guarding it and berating this girl trying to get in. They went on and on about how she was weak and such, and it was clear that Sasuke was getting tired of the show. The girl was wearing a pink outfit and had two hair buns that her brown hair was done into. Her teammates were interesting as well. One was a boy with long brown hair in what looked to be a Hyuga robe, and the other was in a green jumpsuit with bushy eyebrows and a bow cut.

“Yea yea, nice speech, but get out of my way and let me through. And while you’re at it” Sasuke flashed a smirk to Satya, “release the genjutsu, we’re going to the third floor."

Murmurs broke out behind them.

“What are ya talking about? This is the third floor” one of the chunin said.

Satya spoke up next. “Or so you would have us believe, but it’s clear this is just an Illusion. I don’t know if this is an actual part of the test, but if it is, we passed, so I’d ask you let us pass please." Satya said.

Naruto looked completely lost, but he was acting like he knew everything

The chunin smirked. “heh, so you figured it out huh? Well little girly, let’s see how you handle THIS!” Just as the chunin said "this", he surged forward and launched a kick at Satya. Sasuke reacted immediately with cold fury. He jumped in front of her and launched his own kick, ready to end the chunin.

However, the green jumpsuit boy jumped in the middle, and grabbed both legs, stalemating them with supposed ease.

“What the hell? This guy just blocked both our kicks like it was nothing” Sasuke thought in bewilderment as he thinned his eyes. This ninja was clearly a cut above the rest. Sasuke decided he'd keep an eye on him.

“Whatever happened to hiding our power, Lee?” The Hyuga replied.

“Too late for that now,” the girl of the team said.

The Hyuga boy walked up to them, before addressing Sasuke.

“You, what’s your name?” He said simply. He seemed to view himself as above the others judging by his tone and mannerisms.

Naruto looked furious that no one paid him any mind. Satya gently patted his shoulder.

“It’s common courtesy when asking for someone’s name to give your own first” Sasuke replied simply, hands stuffed in his pockets.

“You’re a rookie aren’t you? Just how old are you?” The Hyuga shot back. Sasuke remained unaffected.

“I’m not obliged to answer that,” He said simply, and Hyuga’s eyes widened. Naruto slumped down after witnessing how cool Sasuke was.

"Enough guys. Sasuke, Naruto, let's hurry up, we’re late after all." Satya said, diffusing the situation. The Hyuga glared at them as they walked away. Satya had a feeling they'd be seeing more of them later.

The trio then made it to the actual third floor. Butterflies were still in Satya’s stomach. But whatever happened, she’d be ready. After all, what could be worse then Zabuza? As the three of them walked, they went through a very long room with hardwood flooring, before they heard a voice from behind.

“Hey you, yes, you with the attitude, wait one moment!”

The three of them turned to see the bowl cut ninja from before. Sasuke’s eyes thinned. “Yea, what do you want”

“What I want is simple” He pointed a finger at Sasuke. “I wish to fight you, right here, right now,” He said.

Sasuke scoffed. “Here, now? What for” Sasuke said simply.

“I want to see what all the fuss is about with you and your clan”

“That’s it? You want to see why my clan is so legendary? Fine, I’ll teach you why, the old fashioned way.” Sasuke said with a smirk as he cracked his knuckles.

The two of them glared at each other. They both clearly meant business. Satya didn’t like this. They hadn’t even started the exam and already there was a chance for Sasuke to get hurt. This did not bode well.

“Oh enough already!” Naruto exclaimed. “Sorry Sasuke, this guy is mine! I’ll have him out in two seconds flat!”

“Sorry, but I have no interest in you,” The bowl cut boy said.

“Oh, yea? Well, get interested!” Naruto said as he surged forward angrily. Naruto was done being ignored. He had always been ignored, and he tried so hard to change that. He'd make sure to show this stupid bowl cut ninja not to mess around with him, believe it!

He put all his body weight into a punch, but the bowl cut boy simply sidestepped it, causing Naruto to rush forward. Naruto then lifted his leg and stood on one foot as he swung his other foot into a kick from a downward position, but his opponent swiftly dodged and swiped his one leg with his own. Naruto was sent spinning into the wall.

“Ow, what the hell!” Naruto exclaimed. The bowl cut ninja kept on staring at Sasuke, barely paying any mind to Naruto. “My name is rock Lee, now come forth!” He said confidently.

Sasuke looked ready to hop in, But Satya saw enough. “This is absurd. We don’t have time for this, and this is pointless too. No one needs to get hurt, let’s jus-”

“Satya, it’s fine. It’ll be over in five seconds max” Sasuke said simply.

Satya simply took a deep breath. “I’ll take care of this, you just sit back,” Sasuke said before running up to rock Lee.

Sasuke opened up with a curved punch, but lee simply jumped above him and rounded for a kick, but Sasuke just barely dodged, the tip of his raven hair grazing lee’s leg. The two were moving at high speeds, but Lee was faster. He landed quickly and went for another kick. Sasuke knew he was too slow, so he lifted his hands to block, but lee aimed perfectly, and with his speed, landed a direct kick to the fact. His foot made contact with the Uchiha's face, and Sasuke tasted a bit of Lee's shoes. It tasted of dirt and worn-out rubber.

The raven-haired genin went flying before landing on his back, clearly shaken. Lee simply got into a very simple fighting pose. Satya and Naruto were both stunned. When it came to close-quarters combat, Sasuke was by far the best of the three of them. And yet he was losing. That set a dangerous precedent.

Sasuke got up, but to everyone’s surprise, he was smirking. “Heh, that’s good. I’ve been wanting to use this more” Sasuke said confidently before his Sharingan flared. Satya got a deep pit in her stomach.

She didn’t like this at all, but Sasuke seemed almost excited to return to the fight. Sasuke once again charged forward, but his eyes were calculating. He saw every twitch, every muscle expansion in his opponent's body, and saw him coming forward. Yes, he saw him alright, but that didn’t mean he could do anything about what he saw. Which is why he got a kick straight to the jaw.

“Arggh!” Sasuke cried out. As he stood back up, he seemed shocked beyond belief.

Lee smiled a devilish smile. “You see, I do not use ninjutsu or genjutsu!” He said as he surged forward. The two ninja started battling once more, but it was more just Sasuke trying to survive. Each dodge was more close than the last, and Sasuke was fighting just to stay in the running. He couldn't even launch any attacks. A blur of green advancing on a blur of black and blue, and the green was overtaking the blue, that was what Satya saw.

“I only use taijutsu and nothing more!” Lee said as he punched Sasuke straight in the gut. Sasuke doubled down as all the wind rushed out of his lungs and mouth. “Your eyes are impressive indeed. You can see my every move, but that is not enough. Your eyes are fast, but your body is slow by comparison, you cannot react to what you see fast enough." Lee stated simply.

Sasuke seemed to be in disbelief, frozen in place with a cold sweat.

Sasuke got up, but Lee appeared behind him. “In other words, you are simply to slow!” Lee said as he swept Sasuke’s feet before pushing him up into the air. Lee then kicked him on his way up.

“Now I shall show you that hard work will always beat raw talent!” Lee said as he surged upwards. His bandages on his arms unwrapped and flowed in the air as he jumped. It was clear he was going for a finishing move. However, two shuriken hit his flowing bandages and pinned them to the wall, stopping Lee’s movements. Sasuke fell down from the air, but something was wrong. He didn’t take the fall right.

“Sasuke!” Satya exclaimed as she ran up to him, She helped him on his knees, but he was shaken badly.

“I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen him like this since Zabuza” Satya thought with a chill.

Satya looked forward only to see Lee getting reprimanded by……..a talking turtle? Naruto rushed to them. “Guys guys, do you see that! It’s a talking turtle! I think it’s his sensei!” Naruto said.

“Is that even a thing? Can turtles be teachers?” Satya wondered. Sasuke was noticeably quiet, save from his rumblings of rage.

“How dare you, Lee! You’ll have to answer to Gai Sensei for this!” The turtle said before a very tall and more masculine version of Lee appeared.

“Gai sensei!” Lee exclaimed as he dropped into a bow. Team seven was about as confused as can be.

“Lee you idiot!” Gai said as he punched lee straight in the face. Satya gasped audibly. What was going on!

“I thought I told you it was forbidden! How dare you use that technique so recklessly!” Gai scolded. Lee got up and bowed, apologizing.

“Save it lee. When the exams are over I’ll think of your punishment, but you tread lightly, do you understand me!” Gai said.

“Yes sensei,” Lee said.

“Hey, Just who the hell are you!” Naruto exclaimed, and Lee was furious.

“How dare you speak to Gai sensei in such a way! I’ll have you know that-”

“Oh save it, Lee. Tell me, just how is Kakashi these days?” Gai said.

All three of them raised an eyebrow. “How do you know Kakashi sensei?” Satya asked.

“Heh, simple really. People say we are eternal rivals” Gai said with great pride. It seemed he enjoyed this little fact, as well as the look of shock on team seven.

“What! There’s no way!” Naruto exclaimed.

“Indeed we are! And in fact, My score in our eternal competition is one higher than his is. 50 to 49 to be exact.” Gai said proudly.

This only seemed to anger Sasuke further. “I apologize for Lee’s behaviour, he was most definitely in the wrong. I hope you can forgive him. I look forward to seeing how you all do in the exams, so good luck” Gai said before telling lee to go. Lee started bandaging his hands, and they all got a glimpse of them.

Calloused would be an understatement. His hands were worked to the bone and beyond. A mark of hard work and training.

Gai left first, but Lee stayed back a moment. He looked straight at Sasuke. “You. I want to give you this warning. I said I wanted to see the power of an Uchiha, but really, you were just my warm-up. In my own team, there is another genin even stronger than me. You are our enemy, and we will destroy you if need be. Tread carefully, Sasuke Uchiha.” Lee said before leaving. Sasuke glared, his hands trembling with rage as he tightened them.

Naruto put his hands behind his head. “Well, would you look at that, guess the Uchiha aren’t so great after all,” He said simply.

“Just shut up!” Sasuke said, his hair covering his eyes. “Next time I'll drive him to his knees,” Sasuke growled.

This was not at all the Sasuke Satya had been seeing lately. This was not the Sasuke she trained with, not the one she hung out with. This couldn't be him. This Sasuke was fueled by rage, consumed bt vengeance. He was doing so well before this, why did this have to happen now?

“Says the one who got his butt kicked” Naruto teased.

“Naruto, not helping” Satya scolded, and Sasuke got furious. He was not weak, he couldn’t be. He didn’t need her for protection, he didn’t need anyone. He was going to kill Itachi, and he would do it with his own damn power.

“Well, you saw his hands, didn’t you? I bet he trains until he drops every day. He trains harder than you for sure. That’s all I'm saying” Naruto said casually.

Sasuke seemed shocked as though he was knocked off his high horse. Was this reality? Was he weak like Itachi said? Was he really worthless?

Satya placed a hand on his shoulder to calm him. Sasuke, however, seemed to calm himself. If he wanted to stop being weak, he’d need to stop letting people get to his head.

“Satya, it’s alright. The chunin exams seem to be getting interesting” Sasuke said with a smirk.

“That’s right, believe it!” Naruto said.

Sasuke was not weak, he would not allow it. Neither Lee nor Itachi would get in his head. He had a goal, and he planned on achieving it with confidence.

“Well, we’re actually sort of late, so let's hurry,” Satya said.

Whatever awaited them, they’d face it without question. Of course, none of them could begin to fathom what was in store for all of them.

 

----------------------------------------

 

As they walked into the big waiting room, team seven was greeted with the sight of a sea of shinobi. Old, young, big, small, you name a shinobi and chances are they were here. It was almost overwhelming. Naruto had a dumbstruck face, and Satya subconsciously started nibbling on her nails.

“I didn’t know there’d be so much…competition” Satya said quietly to her teammates.

“Me either” Sasuke whispered back as his eyes thinned. Compared to most of these guys, little team seven looked like a joke. Although what came next was even more of a joke.

“Ohhhhh Saaaaaasssssukkeeeeeeee” A familiar voice boomed before a blond-haired purple outfitted girl practically threw herself onto Sasuke’s back, hugging him. Sasuke seemed two steps from throwing her off violently, and Satya didn’t know who’d she back up should things go south.

Remarkably though, he kept his cool somehow. “Boy you have no idea how much I was hoping you’d show up, I’ve missed those brooding good looks of yours,” Ino said with a smile as she tightened her arms around Sasuke. Sasuke’s left eye was starting to twitch a little.

“Ino, could you stand not to harass my teammate?” Satya asked simply, and Ino shot her a defiant look.

“You're just trying to keep him for yourself aren’t you! Well, it won’t work!” Ino exclaimed. Sasuke shot her a look that said “She better be wrong about you on this”

“It’s more about me not wanting to pick a side when you inevitably get shook off" Satya replied quickly. Ino simply stuck out her tongue.

“Ugh, it’s you guys? I knew this was gonna be a drag, but I didn’t know it was going to be this lame” Ino’s teammate, Shikamaru Nara, walked up to them. Shikamaru had always been a lazy one, but also the smartest person if you could coax him to ever actually put any effort in.

Choji Akimichi followed suit, munching on some chips as per usual. Naruto seemed to know them well enough. “So all three stooges are here?” Naruto said teasingly, a foxy grin plastered on his face.

“Hey, you know what pipsqueak? I- ah forget it, you're not worth the effort” Shikamaru said.

Another three-man team made up of familiar faces approached. Upon further inspection, Satya could see it was Kiba, Hinata and Shino. Kiba was a lot like Naruto, but a bit more prideful and had a bigger ego. Hinata was super quiet and was extremely timid, and Shino was just hard to get a read on.

“Well well well, what do ya know, the whole gangs back together!” Kiba announced smugly.

“You guys to huh? Man, everyone’s here for this stupid exam” Shikamaru said. It was sort of nostalgic in a way, having their old class back together again. Although now they weren’t classmates, they were enemies. The idea didn’t sit well with Satya. She was ready to kill if it was for Naruto or Sasuke or Ino, but could she strike down an old classmate? She wasn’t sure she had the heart for it.

“Yup, the nine rookies back again. Only this time, we’ll only make it if we actually have what it takes, right Sasuke?” Kiba said mockingly. Sasuke surprisingly smiled a big, smug smile.

“Kiba, careful you don’t get overconfident, it might be the end of you,” He said.

“Just you wait, we’re gonna blow you away. We’ve been training like crazy” Kiba said proudly, although Hinata sunk further into the background due to his boasting.

“Oh yeah? And what do ya think we’ve been doing, sitting around picking daisies? You don’t know the real meaning of training!” Naruto exclaimed with pride.

The group began to bicker in pairs until a ninja with long white hair and glasses stopped them. “Hey you guys, you might wanna keep it down. You’re the nine rookies, right? Well, I wouldn’t go making a spectacle of yourselves, this isn’t a class field trip” He said.

“Well, who asked you? Just who are you anyway?” Ino replied.

“I’m Kabuto Yakushi, but really, look around you, you’ve made quite an impression,” Kabuto said with a smile. The group did as they were told, and found a huge crowd of shinobi staring right at them. All of them looked very intimidating, like wolves watching their prey, ready to pounce when needed.

“Now this is going to be interesting” Kiba said with a smile. Satya glanced over to Kabuto, who seemed very familiar with the exams.

“Kabuto, you seem knowledgeable. Do you think you could help us rookies out?” Satya asked.

“Hmm, well I suppose I could…..with my ninja info cards,” Kabuto said as he pulled out a deck of cards. All eyes of the rookie nine turned to him.

Sasuke’s eyes sharpened, and Satya cocked her head. Shikamaru seemed to scan the cards suspiciously, and Naruto just looked clueless. Just what were these ninja info cards and why did Kabuto seem to hold them in such high regard?

“What exactly are those?” Ino asked curiously. Kabuto smiled, seemingly happy he was getting to show them off. Kabuto was a weird one. He seemed nice enough, but also seemed very cunning and deceiving. He was hard to get a read on, much like Shino.

 

“These cards are my pride and joy. They are chakra encoded so not just anyone can see them, which is good since they are really useful right now. They hold all the information I have been gathering for the past four years” Kabuto pushed his glasses in as he set the deck down and took a card in his hand.

As he placed it face up, it appeared blank. “These cards have info on nearly anything, such as which villages are participating in the exam this year,” He said, before forming the tiger seal. Suddenly, the card facing upwards faded into a map of all the lands in the continent, and certain villages were highlighted.

A series of shocked noises came from the rookie nine. "Wait…..so this map shows us which villages are participating, as well as how many shinobi from each village?” Shikamaru said slowly.

“Precisely,” Kabuto said with a smirk. “The village hidden in the Leaves, the Sand, Rain, Grass, Waterfall, Mist and Sound. These villages are participating, and by the looks of things, each village has put forth exceptional shinobi. In these times of shaky peace, genin get to have more time for training, so it’s only natural.” Kabuto continued as if he was a professor.

Sasuke stepped forward. “Those cards…. Do they have information on specific participants?” This was a bold move, but a smart one. Satya hadn’t even considered asking for this.

“I might. You have anyone in mind?” Kabuto asked.

“Gaara of the Sand and Rock Lee of the Leaf,” Sasuke said Lee’s name coldly. "So he's holding a grudge then," Satya thought. Sasuke had tried to save face earlier, but Satya hadn’t been completely fooled. She’ll never forget the look of rage he had when Lee beat him.

“Man, you even know their names. That makes it too easy” Kabuto whined. Kabuto began taking out some cards from his deck, but Satya intervened.

“Hold on a moment. I might have something in mind” Satya said. All eyes turned to her. She continued, although more quietly. “Do you know if, by chance, there are any members of the Vaswani clan that are participating?” Sasuke shot her a look of surprise before grim understanding.

“I doubt it. They were all wiped out as far as I’ve heard, but I’ll double-check,” Kabuto said. As he got the cards out, one faded into the image of Lee. Everyone gathered to see who he was, mostly because Sasuke had put his name down, meaning he had to be important.

“Rock Lee….. His sensei is the blue beast of the Leaf, Gai. His taijutsu level is off the charts, but he’s a dud in everything else. He’s also a year older than you guys, but this is his first chunin exam. Strange. Also, his teammates are Neji Hyuga and Tenten.”

“So a failure at everything besides hand to hand then?” Sasuke said with a smirk.

“Seems so,” Kabuto said. His other card then faded into an image of Gaara. “Well, now this is a surprise. I have nearly nothing on this guy. His age is unknown, so are his techniques other than that he can manipulate sand somehow. Oh wait, but get this. The kids completed one solo B rank mission, and they say he never even got a scratch on him.” Kabuto finished.

Everyone gasped. Well, everyone except team seven. “A solo B rank!” Ino exclaimed. “And without a scratch too! This guy's gotta be tough” Kiba said, half intimidated half excited. “Pshhh, so what, we did an S rank with Kakashi sensei,” Naruto thought as he put his hands behind his head.

Sasuke seemed distressed, although Satya was probably the only one who could tell. He had his eyes trained hard on the card, and his hands tightened. Sasuke had every right to be cautious. Rock lee showed them they were not unbeatable. The scuffle with Zabuza made them feel on top of the world, but they were on their own now. It was clear there were shinobi above them, so now it became a matter of picking your battles. Sasuke was probably angry that he wasn’t the strongest, but Satya was more just worried something bad would happen. After all, Satya specialized in healing, in picking up the broken pieces. It was more up to Sasuke and Naruto to prevent them from ending up in pieces in the first place. She wanted to be more proactive, but at the moment she knew her role, and knew to stay in it.

Kabuto then started scanning through his other cards before addressing Satya. “As for your request……..it seems you truly are the last Vaswani,” Kabuto said.

Satya’s breath caught. She hadn’t expected to hear that any of her clan survived. But she had hoped that perhaps some of her clan survived and booked it to another village. This just confirmed her beliefs. She had held hope that maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t the only one. But that was clearly foolish.

“How do you know she’s a Vaswani?” Sasuke asked cautiously, shoulders tensed. Satya’s eyes widened. She was so caught up in grief she didn’t even notice the fact that Kabuto knew her heritage. She never really tried to hide it, but why would he know?

“Unless you have intel on all of us too?” Shikamaru interjected. Kabuto smiled a prideful smile and pushed his glasses back into place. It would seem he wasn’t completely on their side, which meant he may be an enemy.

“Of course I do. I like to leave no stone unturned” Kabuto said. “Good thing too. I’m sure this year is gonna be the toughest one in a long time” he lamented. “Don’t take my word for it though. Just look around”

It was too true. Everyone had an eerie feel to them, as though they were hardened veterans. Hinata was the first to crack. “S-so it w-would seem. I-it’s almost enough to make you lose your c-confidence,”

“Ah come on Hinata! No turning back now!” Kiba said gleefully. “Yea, we didn’t come all this way just to chicken out!” Ino said passionately, throwing Satya a look of rivalry. Satya returned it in full, but something caught her eye. Naruto didn’t seem himself. He seemed way too quiet. Was he…...was he scared? Satya thought back to their first mission. When they were initially attacked by those chunin, Naruto froze immediately. Could he still be scared like that? But that wouldn’t make sense, he was fine against Zabuza. Of course, Satya couldn’t blame him. She was scared too. Everyone was older, wiser, and more experienced than them. Maybe Naruto was even worse off than her?

Her fears were put to rest when Naruto yelled out “My Name is Naruto Uzumaki, and I’m gonna beat every one of ya!” Naruto yelled as he pointed a finger to the crowd. Satya’s heart fell straight to her stomach.

Everyone was staring, some smiling, others frowning, and some looked like predators watching prey. What was he thinking! Satya was forgiving, but this was too far. Did he want to get hurt? Did he just not care? How selfish!

“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” Satya said as she grabbed him by the ear and pulled him back. “ Do you want to get us killed!? Think about what you do before you do it! Maybe you don’t care if you die but I do, got it!?” Satya said harshly as she looked him straight in the eyes. Naruto flinched, clearly taken aback.

“O-oh yea..sure. S-sorry about that Satya, I wasn’t t-thinking...ya know?” Naruto said cautiously. Naruto didn’t expect this from Satya of all people. Sasuke for sure, but Satya? She’d never gotten mad at him, not once. She always understood his outbursts and quirks. To see her like this, well, it was unsettling. Was she really that scared for this thing? Naruto suddenly felt very guilty. The fact that she got this angry was a testament to her stress and underlying fear. She wasn't fully herself, not while she had a nagging feeling of dread in her stomach.

By some weird twist of fate, Sasuke calmed Satya down. He ever so gently placed a hand on her shoulder, almost as if he had forgotten how to, and had no idea what he was doing. He quietly said “Too late now, let's just move on”

That shocked Satya more than it did calm her down. Her anger replaced with astonishment. Sasuke was being positive? That was new. In truth, this shocked Sasuke too. It seems when it came to Satya, she always brought out something new within him.

The rest of the rookie nine were just facepalming and trying to make some distance. However, there was no need, as a big plume of smoke suddenly burst into existence in front of the big room. A low, harsh voice barked from inside the smoke.

“Alright, you baby faced degenerates, pipe down!” Everyone’s heads whipped around. As the smoke cleared, Satya counted 10 shinobi at the back, and one tall shinobi in the front with a black trench coat and headscarf on him. “It’s time to begin, I’m Ibiki Morino, your proctor for this examination, and from this moment on…your worst enemy!”

Murmurs broke out. Ibiki seemed to be a very hardened shinobi, one that saw many battles. Satya could tell just by the way he conducted himself.

“Now, everyone! Listen up! Come here and hand in your forms, and you’ll be given a number that instructs where you’ll be sitting for the written exam."

As soon as Ibiki said "written exam", Satya saw Naruto visibly recoil.

Wait…

A written test that Naruto had to take.

 

Oh god

Chapter Text

Satya wondered how they managed to get into this situation. The seating arrangement was all random, and as such, there was no way to tell where you would be seated. When they got their seats, Satya was in the middle, with Naruto two rows in front of her. Sasuke was actually right beside her to her right, which made this interesting. The two of them seemed calm, mostly because they knew they could face any written test. They were top of their academy year after all.

Many people wore hardened, monotone faces, probably because they wanted to seem tough under pressure. Kiba seemed mildly concerned, Hinata was fidgeting, Shino was admiring his bugs, Choji was eating, Ino was fixing her hair and Shikamaru just did not care. Typical really.

Naruto had his hands in his hair, visibly stressed. “Poor Naruto…...written exams just aren’t his strong point. But how was he, or any of us, supposed to know? Sensei should have told us a written test was involved,” Satya wondered. “In fact, how did Naruto pass the academy?”

Ibiki stood at the front, and coughed once before he spoke, chalk in hand. “Everyone, eyes front. There are some rules you need to be aware of, and I won’t take questions, so pay attention.”

“No questions? What kind of rules are these?” Satya thought.

“Alright, rule number one is: The exam is based on a point reduction system. You will all begin with a perfect score of then points, and lose one point for each wrong answer. Rule number 2: Teams will pass or fail based on the total scores of all three members”

Satya and Sasuke locked eyes before nearly gasping audibly. “You can’t be serious” Sasuke groaned quietly. Satya put her palms to her forehead. “Oh god, we’re definitely going to fail.”

“Rule number 3: The sentinels you see in the room are there to watch you for any signs of cheating.” Satya counted ten in total, five on each wall to her left and right respectively.

Ibiki continued. “For every incident they spot, they will deduct two marks from your total score. Be warned, their eyes are extremely sharp, and if anyone of you is caught five times, you will be failed on the spot. Anyone foolish enough to be caught doesn’t deserve to be here.”

Satya took a deep breath. “Okay, this is fine. We’re fine. I’m sure I’ll do good. In fact, I’ll probably get all ten, same with Sasuke. So even if Naruto gets a zero, we should be able to carry the weight.” Satya didn't think the sentinels mattered, it wasn't like she or Sasuke were going to cheat anyway.

“This all rides on me and her getting perfect,” Sasuke thought. It seemed Satya and Sasuke had the same way of thinking. "Why can't that stupid idiot carry his own weight?" Sasuke thought annoyedly.

“One more thing. Should any candidate get a zero, the entire team fails,”

The sheer force of this statement shattered Satya's spirit on the inside. Satya slumped in her seat, defeated. “Oh no,” She whispered. “We are so dead,”

“The final question won’t be given out until 15 minutes before the end of the testing period. You will all have one hour total, and with that ...begin!”

Satya turned her paper over immediately, writing her name in cursive. This was it. She had to do well, there was no other option. Maybe if she added extra details, they would allow her team to pass even if Naruto got every question wrong. It was a longshot, but what else could she do?

Satya scanned the questions. Her stomach dropped. The first question was about deciphering a code. It was written in a way that was leaf village coding, but it was highly encrypted, seemingly several times over. The second question was even harder. It involved a ninja throwing a kunai atop a tree at a specific angle and a bunch of variables added into it, such as varying positions and even wind currents.

The third question was based on economics. They would all have to describe why the economy of the leaf in the third great war was at an all-time low and what could have been done differently to combat the economic crisis using specific examples and estimations on how much money could be saved.

Some were history-based, others went deep into math and some were downright brutal by testing actual theory on chakra, which required unproven ideas.

This was insane, Satya never dreamed it would be this difficult. She looked towards Naruto to see him shaking. There was no way in hell Naruto would get a single one correct. These questions required complex analysis on fundamental laws on chakra as well as complex variables pertaining to physics. Truthfully, there couldn’t be more than a handful of people who even had a shot at this.

Satya bit her nails. She needed to do well, she had to. But these questions were so difficult. She wasn’t sure she could get her desired perfect score. She might be scrounging for seven points with this. How could it be this hard? It’s almost as if they were goading them to cheat. But why? That made no sense. But at the same time, there was no way anyone in this room besides her and a few others were going to pass. The only option was for mass cheating. Is that why you only lost two points for cheating as opposed to being failed instantly? Was that the secret?

If so, then what did they expect? Not every ninja specialized in gathering intelligence, what then? Was it tough luck? And if no one knew the answers, then how would anyone cheat?

There was a high level of uncertainty in this, and way too many variables. Although, in a way, that was the life of a ninja. Is that not what the chunin exams attempted to do? Its goal was to give them a taste of real shinobi life. Based on this, the goal had to be to cheat, it had to be. There was no other answer. Satya wondered if she was the only one to figure this out, or if she was just over-thinking this. After all, she could be looking to deep into it since the stakes were so high.

Suddenly, she heard some very faint tapping next to her, three evenly spaced taps. It was deliberate yet quiet. Satya peered her head to her side, only to meet Sasuke’s eyes. He smirked at her, his eyes slightly mischievous. And that's when she knew she wasn’t the only one. She nodded once, and with that, the two of them knew they were right. No words were said, they didn’t need them. They could tell the others thoughts just by that gesture alone.

Satya thought for a moment how she would cheat. But then she realized, Naruto would so get caught. He was too far away to signal to, and she knew he was not nearly slick enough to pull off cheating in this situation.

The pressure of the test filled the air, and Satya could practically feel some participant's stress weigh her down. The only way Naruto would get the answers was if she gave them to him. That meant she needed to have them first.

Satya had no reliable way to cheat, so she was left with one option. She buckled down and worked on the questions manually. It had to be the toughest set of questions she had ever seen by far. It was gruelling, truly. It was the sort of test that was so drawn out it tested your endurance, it made you soppy. They had one hour, and Satya used up 35 minutes just to finish the questions. She was 90 percent sure they’d be right, If nothing else, she’d get an 8 or 9 out of 10.

Now all that was left was giving this to Naruto. But how? The only thing she could think of was genjutsu, but the seals would blow her cover. If she went that route, she’d need one that required a single sign. Not only that, but she’d need to freestyle it.

Documented genjutsu offered a step by step process on how to control the chakra to create the specific illusion required. Her genjutsu for colour distortion was a genjutsu she found in a scroll at the library. Documented genjutsu were widely used because it held your hand, you just had to memorize how and when to mould the chakra to create the illusion.

To create your own genjutsu on the fly was extremely advanced. It required extensive knowledge on precisely how minute chakra shifts affect the body and the desired illusion. It also required to make the seals required on the spot.

Hand Seals were done to help balance and control the chakra being used, and certain ones fit with certain jutsu. To pull this off, Satya would not only need to create her own genjutsu on the spot, but limit herself to a single the seal. The level of control required for this, as well as the knowledge of hand seals and chakra theory, made what she was going to attempt well beyond chunin level.

 

Then there was the problem of being caught. She’d need to limit the hand seals needed, meaning more hard work in terms of controlling the chakra. The only choice was auditory genjutsu. She’d have Naruto hear the answers to the questions and he’d just write them down. Considering the circumstances, By Satya’s estimates, she might just barely be able to squeeze out enough time for her to send a message detailing the answers to three questions. Maybe four if she was on the top of her game and was lucky. This would all be with a single hand seal, and it would not be easy. There are 12 basic hand seals that are most commonly used, but there are others as well. Even hand seals had ranks to them. For Satya’s idea to work, she’d need a high ranking hand seal. If you didn’t know how to properly utilize a hand seal, it would backfire, so this would be difficult, especially since she has to keep it up the entire time. Any more seals and she risks getting caught.

Satya knew of a clan hand seal that involved putting capping both hands together, fully extended vertically. It was also a common motion for prayer, so Satya could act like she was simply praying.

Satya took a moment to calm herself. As she closed her eyes, she felt the pressure of the sentinels wash off her as she focused. Putting her hands in the prayer motion, she put her head on the desk as if to surrender herself to god. She focused for a little, kneading the chakra. She singled out Naruto’s chakra signature and began casting the genjutsu. It was harder to control then she could have imagined. Even the tiniest changes in her hold and she’d lose it.

Nevertheless, her audio-based genjutsu began.

Naruto was panicking. He was doomed, absolutely doomed. He could barely even understand what any of the questions were asking, much less begin to start answering them. It seemed like all hope was lost. He hated the feeling of being dead weight. How would Satya and Sasuke react? He was letting them down, and he didn’t want to. To fail them was even worse than failing himself. Naruto had his head on his desk, hands in his hair.

Through his dilemma, Naruto suddenly heard a voice in his head. “Naruto, this is Satya. I’m using a genjutsu to send you a message. I’m going to tell you the answers to questions 1 2 7, and 9 so be ready, I can’t repeat this message.” Naruto’s head shot up. Could he talk to Satya through his mind!

“And no, we can’t talk like this, I’m just sending you a message, I have no idea what your thinking.”

Naruto nearly laughed. “Okay, question 1” the message started, and Naruto scrambled for his pencil.

The message was only about 2 minutes long in total, and it was very rushed. One single hand seal while freestyling a genjutsu with her clan specific seal was hard, really hard. What she was doing right now was low jounin level in genjutsu. When it finished, Satya nearly gasped in release. The strain of pulling off that level of genjutsu took a toll on her, not so much physically but mentally.

“That was even harder than the test itself,” Satya thought. But it was over. She knew she probably got a very high score, same with Sasuke, so with Naruto getting a four, they should be alright.

Throughout the test, many were getting thrown out for cheating. It seemed like more people figured it out. Either that or they were cheating just because they couldn’t answer otherwise. The latter of the two was more likely.

As time passed, Satya began to wonder what this would mean. If she became chunin, what was next. What was her goal? Really, her only goal was to get so strong that she could guarantee that she would never lose anyone again. The concept of those she loved dying once more was sickening, she hated the very idea of it. In truth, she hated death as a whole, but she’d kill if it was to stop others from being killed. But was that really the best goal to have? What was becoming chunin to her? All it really did was get her more money but put her in more dangerous situations. Although, if she made chunin, she’d have more chances to save lives.

 

But perhaps she could find other motives. Maybe if she became a chunin, she’d formally enroll herself in the medical Ninja academy program. Once you made chunin you gained the ability to attend to learn how to be a medical ninja. From there she could go for the rank of special jounin with her specialty being medical ninjutsu. That, in turn, would give her access to even more ninjutsu and thereby boost her chances of getting regular jounin, so there was really no downside besides the workload. Of course, this was assuming she even wanted to be a jounin. Most ninja were actually chunin. Although Satya doubted she could be chunin and still protect everyone with enough power to make sure they didn’t meet death early.

Her thoughts were cut short 15 minutes before the exam ended, and it was by none other than their proctor.

“Alright you maggots, time for the final question. Be warned, this is the hardest question on the test. But before I give it to you, I need to list off some more rules”

There was a collective groan from the participants.

“Firstly, each of you may choose not to take the final question, as it’s optional. Of course, if you do so you get an automatic zero and your entire team fails”

“So what’s the point” The yellow-haired sand ninja exclaimed. She was Gaara’s teammate, and Satya vaguely remembered her name being Temari.

“Yea, why the heck would we do that!” Kiba exclaimed.

“Now hold on a minute, you didn’t let me finish,” Ibiki said with a smirk and a very dark tone. “If you do take the final question, but get it wrong, not only will you fail, but will be stuck as a genin for the rest of your life!” Ibiki said harshly, smiling at the sudden outburst that followed.

Waves of voices piled on top of each other. Lot’s of “You can’t do that!” or “What kind of rules are these?!” or “This is bullshit!" Naruto just seemed to sink in his seat. "these weren't the rules last year!" one kid yelled.

“SILENCE!” Ibiki shouted, however, he was still smiling. “I guess you guys are just…..unlucky. I wasn’t making the rules then, but I am now.”

Satya’s entire world was spinning. She needed a plan, something to ground herself amongst the wave of information she just received. What were they supposed to do? This was gambling, hard gambling with extreme consequences. They could take the question, but if anyone of them fails then that’s it, game over for life. Was such a chance even worth taking? What was the point of risking everything when you could do it later free of the risk?

“Don’t feel pressured. There is no shame in quitting now and coming back next year.” Ibiki said seriously, but he had a faint smirk. Why would he do that? Why was he telling them it was okay to quit? He didn’t seem to have their best interests in mind up until now, so why the shift?

Unless this was another trick? Were they supposed to take the question? Even if they were, there was no telling what would happen. They barely had any time left, It seemed almost impossible. What was one supposed to do in this situation? It was torture, and it was the worst kind. It was horrible because you did it to yourself, you beat yourself up over the possibilities and the pressure and the fear. You ended up torturing your own mind, and Satya was reaching her breaking point.

Was there no way to calm herself? Was it possible to be calm in such a situation? How could she clear her mind when the stakes were so high.

Unless…..unless she needed to clear her mind of the stakes in the first place. Was that not the way to success, to clear your mind of negative emotions, to devalue them to zero so they become meaningless?

She was once raised on these principals, once upon a time when her clan still had more members than just herself. There were old sayings, mantras that said the art of letting go was stronger than holding onto something tightly.

To clear her mind, to focus only on the goal, only on what she wanted, and to let go of what she did not need or care for, that was the correct response.

Amongst the sea of murmurs and people dropping out, Satya simply drowned them out. They were unnecessary, unneeded. She let go of all of it. All the pressure, the fear, the anxiety, the idea of failure, the notion of the future, she cast it aside.

And then the course of action became clear. It was one simple question. She could pass it. If she focused and cleared her mind she could definitely get it. If she got it done in ten minutes she would have just enough time to send the information to Naruto via another audio genjutsu. Yes, she could do this. Without fear or doubt, with a clear mind, everything seemed possible. There was simply no need for doubt, so the result became absolute in her mind.

She could do this, if she could just stay like this, she could take the question and lead her team to pass.

Just as she finished the thought, Naruto’s hand tentatively raised, and Satya’s heart dropped. The pressure had to have gotten to him. “He had to have been feeling the most pressure out of all of us,” Satya thought sadly. That was one hefty burden to carry. She knew she wouldn’t want to carry it.

But he did not quit, no, he did something much more Naruto like. He slammed his hand on the desk.

“You think you can scare us!? No way in hell are we dropping out! We’re ninja’s, we don’t quit and we don’t give up, believe it!” Naruto exclaimed.

The sheer volume of his voice completely knocked Satya out of her calm state, rattling her to extreme alertness. Everyone in the room seemed stunned, the upward hands and whispers seemed to stop, almost as though Naruto’s little outburst halted everyone’s doubt.

The room became in a state of rest, time seemed to halt and everyone sat in an almost stasis like manner. But then, slowly, hands started falling, and cheers started erupting.

“Damn right, we ain’t gonna give up!” one kid called

“That’s right, you can’t scare us!” Another yelled

“Bring on the question!” This one came from Kiba.

Suddenly the room became filled with vigour with Naruto the epicentre. Even Satya felt the effects of the room. It was infectious, impossible to resist. She felt it deep in her stomach, the will to pass, the determination to leap over all obstacles. She could do this, she knew she could.

No, THEY could do this. She’d answer this question and pass it to Naruto. Even with her fatigue, the time restraint, the pressure, she’d do it and no one would stop her. For once, she almost felt like…...Naruto. It was an overwhelming sense of determination, and she liked it.

“SILENCE ALL OF YOU” Ibiki yelled, but he was smiling.

As the room died down and stilled, Ibiki cleared his throat.

“Well, I guess there’s only one thing I can say to that”

 

 

 

“Congratulations, you all passed”