Mic grinned at all of them outside the building where the first part of the chunin exams were taking place. The Konoha 12 had already gone ahead, but Hitoshi had been coerced into waiting to have their three adult figures send them off before they went off to wherever it was the jounin were going to be waiting in the meantime.
“WECLOME,” Yamada yelled in his best announcer voice, “TO THE CHUNIN FESTIV- uh, no, THE SPORTS EXAM! No, that’s not it… Sports… festival?”
Hitoshi shook his head and made an X with his arms. “Wrong combo.”
Mic snapped his fingers. “CHUNIN EXAMS! Thank you, Hitoshi. ANYWAY, kick ass and don’t die! We’ll be watching!”
And then all three of them were gone and finally the fifteen of them were allowed to enter the building.
Hitoshi instantly split off, Momo and Itsuka falling into step behind him. Besides Kyouka and maybe Todoroki and Tsu (Haku was smiling in a way that promised pain for the other teams), they were the best at actual ninja stuff, and he was better than them. Give it a few months and Momo would no doubt surpass him, she definitely would have been Rookie of the Year if they had grown up here, but for now, Hitoshi was the senior genin, therefore making him team leader. And he didn’t want any of the other teams to get any legs up, hence why he split off and started climbing the building to the third floor, their meeting place.
He briefly stopped on the second floor to see most of the applicants were gathered there, talking to two chunin he knew for a fact were actually the gate guards in a henge, and he could almost taste the mental compulsion to believe that this was, actually, the third floor, but if they fell for a basic genjutsu and didn’t bother counting how many floors they had gone up, frankly they didn’t deserve to sit the exam in his opinion, so he continued up to the third floor.
He silently slid open the window to the room and slipped in, pulling up beside Ino who was watching the entire room with a raised eyebrow.
“Was worried you’d be too delayed,” she murmured out of the corner of her mouth as Momo and Itsuka crawled in as well. “How was the second floor looking?”
“Basic numbers?” He hummed. “Five teams. One from Kusa, others from unknown villages. There are… a lot more teams than I thought.”
She shrugged, eyeing the several dozen genin in the room, some giving each other hostile glances as more of the UA kids came in. There were a lot more than the ten additional teams he had initially thought there would be, but that just meant more people to curb stomp to victory and the better chance Konoha had at getting more teams through to rounds two and three.
A silver haired teen about Mirio’s age with a Konoha hitai-ate lit up when Team Seven walked in and started rambling about how he’d taken the exam multiple times and had information cards if they were interested. Hitoshi pushed off the windowsill and slipped through the crowds, lightly tugging on Momo as he went so she’d follow. Itsuka stayed behind with Team Ten.
“-activated the Sharingan-”
Hitoshi sighed loudly, drawing attention. “You might want to check your sources then. It’s ok, Sasuke, even your sister hasn’t gotten the sharingan yet, you’re still strong and stuff.”
His eyes held a drop of confusion before he noticed Momo and he took on an actually sad expression (who knew he had an expression past blank or annoyed?) and nodded solemnly.
Sakura and Naruto immediately caught on. “You’ll get there, Sasuke,” Naruto chirped, “you’re still a great teammate!”
Momo smiled softly. “It’s not like we have anyone to help us, Otouto.”
Hitoshi cast a side glance back at the silver haired teen to see him looking between the two similarly colored people mouthing the word “otouto” in shock and looking like the sky had just turned purple or something. Mission accomplished, it seemed.
He jerked his head back to where Team Ten was still hanging out and Team Seven quickly followed him through the crowd.
“That guy gave me weird vibes,” Hitoshi announced, “and technically we’re all opponents so information limiting is ideal. Keep your cards close to your chest, yeah?”
Momo immediately spun to Sasuke, biting her lip. “I'm so sorry if I overstepped my bounds-”
“No,” he interrupted softly, looking away, “it was for the purpose of the mission. It’s fine.”
Hitoshi resisted the urge to smack his face. Knowing that he was starving for family members, this was painful to watch. Momo, as an only child, was no better. This was like a trainwreck in slow motion but someone kept pressing rewind.
“Well since that’s the story we’re going with,” he drawled as he rolled his eyes, “I guess you’ll just have to keep it up. Lovely to meet you, Uchiha Momo, do take care of your baby brother, would you?”
They both blinked and looked nervous and overwhelmed and excited and Hitoshi rolled his eyes and leaned in to whisper to Ino.
“I have to do everything around here.”
She snorted and the doors slammed closed as a man Hitoshi recognized as Morino Ibiki, head or Torture, came in through the door, parting the crowd with just a tinge of killing intent.
He stalked to the front of the classroom (oh, that’s right, this was the Academy building, wasn’t it?) and cast an impassive indifferent gaze over the gathered genin, some of whom were quite literally quaking in their boots.
“Welcome to the Konoha Chunin Exams,” he said shortly, “first is the written portion.”
A few people looked like they were going to complain but a sharp glare silenced them.
“You’ll be escorted to your seats,” he continued, “and you will have half an hour to answer all the questions. You will be graded as a team and you need a certain amount correct to pass.”
As they were split up all over the room (he was sat next to Katsuki and one of the Kumo genin) Hitoshi sent a tendril of chakra into his shadow to make sure Hina was awake and ready to go, since if this was anything other than the basics, he didn’t know it.
Indeed, when they were given the sheet of paper and told to begin, Hitoshi would even posit that these nine questions were impossible , even for people who had been raised in this their whole lives. Meaning the point of this exam was not to pass.
It was to cheat.
“Anyone caught cheating will be escorted out and fail the exam.”
It was to cheat without getting caught .
Well, they weren’t ninja for nothing.
He felt Hina slipping around the room as he read over the questions that made no logical sense and had a feeling that only Sakura, their bookworm, would get any of these questions.
Some of the genin were not subtle about their cheating and were kicked out, leading to a few team feuds, but he noticed all the Konoha nin were, at least, doing well and sharing answers amongst their teams. Once he had the answers written down, he sent Hina to any Konoha stragglers, including Itsuka and Momo, only to have the cat report they were both done as well. He did not, of course, send any to his classmates. No matter how much he liked them, they represented different villages and he was loyal to a point. Plus this didn’t actually impact their careers, though he was certain Aizawa would find a way to spin it that way.
Finally, the half hour was up, and maybe half of the teams remained, including all of his classmates and his friends. With a quick estimate, he figured there were probably about twenty four teams left, nine of those being people he knew.
Ibiki cast a gaze across them all and nodded to himself. “There is one last question. Before you hear it, you must decide whether or not you want to attempt it. If you leave right now, you will be disqualified from the chunin exams, but you will be able to take them next year.”
But that sounded like…
“But if you choose to take it and fail, your entire team will never be allowed to take the exams again.”
Hitoshi raised an eyebrow. He knew none of the UA kids were backing down because this was their one and only attempt at the exams anyway, but he wanted to make sure none of his friends were thinking on bailing. It was guaranteed to be a trap of some sort.
Naruto cast him a fearful glance and he knew exactly what the other boy was thinking.
“Naru,” he said softly.
“Take a deep breath and remember your team cares about you. You’re smarter than you think.”
He let the brainwashing slip but the boy looked slightly less like he was about to have a panic attack.
Four of the teams decided to try again next year, but once it was clear the 60 kids weren’t budging, Ibiki actually smirked.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. For the tenth question…”
Everyone leaned forward.
“You all pass.”
Hitoshi smirked. So it was like that, was it? The real tenth question was about commitment.
They all relaxed for a moment before the window exploded and a purple haired woman burst in, two tigers at her side and a wicked grin on her face.
“2/10, Anko,” he called out, “I’ve seen more dramatic.”
She scoffed. “What! That was at least a six, Hitoshi you biased fuck!”
Ino blinked. “Do you two… know each other?”
Hitoshi and Anko exchanged a glance before speaking at the same time.
“I’ve never seen this kid in my life.”
The non-Leaf teams turned to stare between the two of them incredulously but Anko just looked over them with a pitying sigh. “Ibiki, you’re going soft, there’s still so many of them!”
He shrugged. “Then you deal with them.”
She grinned and clapped. “I think I will! Alright, baby snakes, follow me! Or if you get lost because I’m too awesome to keep up with, go find Training Ground 44, also known as the Forest of Death!”
She cackled at the sea of paling faces. “Chop chop, if you’re late I feed you to the man-eating slugs!”
Hitoshi grinned and grabbed onto Hina to melt into the shadows, knowing Shika wouldn’t be too far behind.
He ducked out of the shadows with two storage scrolls and tossed them to the girls.
“Food, water, and clothing,” he smirked, “since knowing Anko, this isn’t going to be a couple hours, it's going to be a couple days, and both of you work better with access to food.”
They both nodded and tucked the scrolls into the folds of their shinobi clothes, specifically designed for them by Choji’s clan, who had all but adopted Itsuka and by consequence, Momo. The Yamanaka had done the same for Hitoshi when he was really getting serious and he kind of really liked the mesh armor. The Ino-Shika-Cho clans welcomed the extra Konoha genin team with open arms, and Hitoshi was not upset in the slightest.
“So," Itsuka snickered, “do you actually know Anko or…?”
Hitoshi shrugged. “I’ve certainly heard of her, seen her once or twice. Knowing her more than that? Well, I’ll keep my secrets.”
Both girls looked amused at that, but didn’t push as they all came up to the Forest of Death, named for its tendency to kill even experienced nin if they were caught off guard.
“Brat,” Anko said cheerfully, “hold this for me, you’ll need it! Oh, but don’t open it!”
He saluted as she bounded off to the next team, forcing a scroll on each of the twenty teams.
He looked down at it and cocked an eyebrow at the inscribed kanji for “heaven” on the white and gold scroll.
Once she had finished Anko stood on top of the wall, grinning madly.
“Hello hello,” she crowed, “Mitarashi Anko, tokubetsu jounin specializing in poisons! Lesson one, never take anything from a poison specialist! I’m kidding, I didn’t do anything to the scrolls, I wasn’t allowed to. Anyway, you have one of two scrolls, either Heaven or Earth. You have five days to collect one of the other scroll and head to the tower in the center of the Forest of Death. Why is it called that, you ask? Simple, everything in it can and will kill you! And I’m not talking about the other baby genins that will be gunning for your scroll! Man-eating slugs was legit, I just didn’t want to scare you guys off before you got here and committed. All of you will be going through different gates. If you open the scrolls at any point you automatically fail, so don’t do that! Otherwise, everything is allowed but try not to make things too messy, I’m sure the villages would like their genin back, even if it’s in pieces! Speaking of, all of you signed your waiver, right? The one that says Konoha isn’t responsible if you bite it?”
She herded them to their gates and Hitoshi spied that Team Seven, Ten, Kumo, and a Kusa team were all quite close. The two Suna teams (one being Izuku’s, the other being the jinchuuriki’s) were farther out, but still not around the curve of the training ground.
The gates opened and they were given the signal to go and Hitoshi felt the other two fall into step behind him, immediately taking to the trees. For only having a few weeks to practice, they were both quite good at it and leapt fluidly through the branches before he pulled the to a stop.
“Momo,” he said lightly, “are you able to make me a bluetooth speaker? As loud as you can, I want the forest to hear this.”
She frowned. “I… I can, but that seems counterproductive, letting everyone know our position?”
“Ah,” he raised a finger, “hence the bluetooth. I can hide my phone if I need to and then come back for it, but I think that everyone needs to know that this is where the real game starts. You in?”
She bit her lip but was grinning.
“Very well, one loud bluetooth speaker coming right up. I’ll sacrifice range for volume, if you’re alright with that.”
He shrugged. “The sound will carry, don’t strain yourself.”
She smirked. “No, of course not.”
He affixed it to a tree, pointing it in and slapping a very small seal on it that he came up with a week ago that acted as a battery. He was pissed he hadn’t thought of this earlier, but then again, he hadn’t managed to fine tune it to not fry delicate electronics like his phone, so best not to risk that.
He connected to the speaker and hit play .
He grinned at the two of them and they ran off again, leaving the music playing. As they got farther, he turned it up to max to let it wash over the forest.
“Now's the time, get in line, don't be afraid tonight. We're gonna take you high, before you realize…”
Kyouka perked up and doubled over laughing. “That bastard; but he has good taste, this is a bop.”
Denki put his hands up as the chorus came on. “We gunning for the music to meet up with them, then?”
She sighed. “Why not. Like it says, welcome to the show, so let’s give them one.”
“Gravity we’re defying,” Uraraka giggled as they all shot through the air, powered by her and Izuku’s quirks, “cuz we were made for flying! Oh, I see a group! Let’s see if they have an Earth scroll!”
“Fucking dumbass,” Katsuki grumbled, “painting a huge ass target on his back.”
Mirio slipped back out of the ground. “I found a group and disabled them, but I couldn’t take the scroll back with me, so we should get going!”
He clicked his tongue. “Did you check to make sure it was the right fucking scroll?”
Mirio blinked, crumpling sheepishly before he perked up.
“Oh, I know this song, Nejire loves it! Eri does too! Does that mean Hitoshi is playing music?” He whistled. “Ballsy!”
“Stupid,” he bit out, but Shitty Hair grinned.
“I like it! It’s manly!”
“Yosh, a fountain of youth!”
Katsuki whirled around to see one of the green jumpsuit fuckers, the smaller one, which, ok, the bigger one was probably a jounin and therefore not allowed in the forest.
“Hey,” Mirio beamed, “what scroll do you guys have?”
The girl with space buns and a love of knives scoffed. “As if we’d tell you!”
Shitty Hair grinned. “We have Earth! But if you don’t have a Heaven scroll, there’s no reason not to team up!”
Katsuki face-palmed in a way that was probably going to leave his face red and stinging, but it was better than blowing up the only non sarcastic boyfriend he had.
“Most youthful,” the green clad idiot yelled, “we also have Earth! Shall we team up to take down our enemies in this, the springtime of our youth?!”
Shitty Hair clapped the guy on the back - when did he get over there? - and grinned again, shark teeth on full display. “Sounds manly! You’re Toshi’s friends, right? Looking forward to working with you! Mirio, you said you got rid of a group before? Let’s go there first! If all else fails we have a backup Earth scroll. What do you guys say, truce until we both have the scrolls to pass? Or until the final day?”
The one who hadn’t spoken yet narrowed eyes that looked fucking blind. “And how do we know you won’t betray us and simply take the first heaven scroll for yourself?”
He pouted. “That wouldn’t be manly at all!”
“Indeed,” Bushy Brows yelled, “very unhip! Our allies would never do that!”
Blind Boy sighed. “Up to you, Tenten.”
Space Buns shrugged. “Why not? This is the Iwa team, based on the hitai-ate, so that means they have explosion boyfriend and rock solid boyfriend and then an upperclassman, right? I feel like we only win in this situation.”
Katsuki decided he hated her.
No reason, just gut instinct.
Definitely hated her.
“Besides,” she smirked, “Naruto might be the best of the seals team, but I'm the storage and weapon specialist. I think we can take them between us three.”
Fuck, no, he liked her, dammit, she was cool.
“Don’t fuck this up,” he barked, “like Eyebags has already done by broadcasting his whole ass position!”
Him, on the other hand, he definitely hated him.
Naruto swallowed the lump in his throat as the Kusa kunoichi smiled at them. He couldn’t move, why couldn’t he move? Her eyes were wrong, she looked older than a typical genin, where was her team? Why was she smiling like that, looking at Sasuke?
“Prey must always stay tense and flee desperately,” she cooed, “but I do hope you can entertain me for a while.”
“Is this about the scroll,” Sasuke gasped out, “because we can just give you the scroll, honest.”
“Hmm, no,” she grinned and her abnormally long tongue licked around her lips again, looking at him almost hungrily. No, she couldn’t touch Sasuke, that was against the rules, Momo would be upset and he was just turning into less of a bastard, “I don’t want the scroll.”
Without warning she lunged forward and it took everything in him to get past the mental screaming of “you’re going to die” to grab his teammates and get to higher ground. He was breathing far heavier than he should with so little exertion, but as soon as he moved some of the unbearable pressure had lessened and he had the time to get pissed again, feeling it bubble out of him. He stamped it down in panic but Kurama rumbled in him.
“Brat, I’m not going to break the seal, I’m not going to get out, but you felt it, this is not a genin and you are outclassed. You need everything you can get.”
He took a shuddering breath. “Everything? Because what we need right now is numbers.”
“Am I not talking to the Uzumaki with bottomless chakra reserves and the ability to make a thousand Shadow Clones? Make your own army, brat, and maybe you can send a couple out as messengers.”
He took a deep breath and nodded. The lady had been talking more, but he hadn’t been listening to her.
“TAJUU KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!”
Across the forest, shadow clones came upon Team Ten, Team Kumo, Team Suna (our side, duh), and Hitoshi’s group. They were frantic and people could barely get anything out, but the message of danger, unnatural danger, was quite clear, and they started to run, hoping they’d make it time.
“Katon: Ryuuka no Jutsu!”
The Fire Dragon jutsu travelled down the ninja wire and engulfed the snake woman in flames, erupting out the other side of the tree she was bound to and there was a hiss before the three of them and the scattering of clones that hadn’t already popped stepped back, dread sinking into their hearts.
“You,” the voice hissed, but it was going in and out of being male and female, “are a lot of trouble, Uchiha Sasuke. Still,” he mused, tearing off the burnt skin on his face, and yes, that was a man, ok, something to think about later, “it will all be worth it in the end. Your brother is out of my reach, but you… yes, you’ll do just fine. Tell me, Sasuke, do you want power?”
“Snake fucker,” Hitoshi’s voice called, “you better not be creeping on Momo’s little brother, not cool. Wait, you wouldn’t happen to be the human experimenter Orochimaru, would you? Because I owe you like, four punches, three of them for Eri.”
The snake Sannin narrowed his golden eyes and smirked. “You’ve heard of me? Ah, yes, that Yamanaka cousin who caused such a stir all those months ago. I wouldn’t recommend getting in my way.”
“Unfortunately,” Izuku chirped from the other side of the clearing, “class A has never been very good at doing what was recommended. I mean, Iida went after a serial killer, and he’s class rep. We’re all a little crazy.”
“Yeah,” Denki grinned, sparking dangerously, “but you maybe wanna come down here to fight? I’m not great at tree walking yet.”
Momo sighed. “Denki, you should have focused on your studies instead of pining.”
“Well, you should have-! Yeah, I got nothing, sorry vice!”
Momo leapt to him, brandishing a tanto and baring her teeth in a facsimile of a smile. “Are you three alright? Sasuke?”
He sighed in relief. “Yeah, Neesan, we’re fine. Not to say your entrance isn’t well timed.”
“I hear we’re having a party,” Ino grinned, “and we can’t let my brother have all the fun, can we boys?”
Shika narrowed his eyes. “Sasuke, why are we fighting one of the Sannin during our chunin exams?”
“He’s being creepy about possessing Sasuke or something,” Naruto ground out, “and I hate it. Can we kick his ass now?”
Shikamaru raised an eyebrow. “You’re looking… sharp.”
“Thanks,” he grinned, showing off fangs, “Kurama doesn't want any of us dead.”
Denki huffed as he finally made it to the admittedly low branch level they were all perched on.
“Ok,” he panted, “we’re good, let’s kick some Sannin ass. Ain’t nobody hurting homeboy’s friends, he don't got a lot.”
“Rude,” Hitoshi snorted, pulling out a kunai, “but fair. So, Orochimaru, you ready to rumble?”
The snake Sannin sneered. “You’re children.”
Uraraka (Ochako?) grinned, cracking her knuckles. “Then won’t it be even more embarrassing when you lose?”
He didn’t waste any time and lunged forward, gunning straight for Sasuke, and he was hauled back by his sister as the battle got real.
It was clear Sasuke was the target for some reason or other, and none of them were about to let that stand.