Fire and Ice

A Dancing Leaf, a Striking Snake, and a Flickering Flame

Kakashi kept a sharp eye on Haku, who sat against the wooden wall of the bridge builder, Tazuna’s, house. The boy still stared out into space, a heartbroken expression on his face. The results of the battle had hit him, hard, and it was showing. Even worse was the aftermath, the discoveries that had occurred in the wake of Gato’s death. Haku still clutched Terra’s sword, which was blood smattered but mercifully sheathed, and the fragmented crosspieces of the other boy’s chakrams. The Copy-ninja sighed, thinking back on what had ended the battle, at least for the boy before him.

Drip, drip, drip. The soft splatter of blood hitting concrete permeated the air, which had suddenly become very still. Every eye was trained on the figure standing before Zabuza. Kakashi’s eyes were wide with surprise, as were Zabuza’s. This was something that neither had seen coming.

“Terra?” Haku murmured. He stood five feet from the trio of people, eyes wide. Terra’s gray uwagi was beginning to be stained with blood, his black hakama absorbing the crimson. Blood ran down his pale arms, which were crossed in front of him. Terra’s chakrams were held in a defense position, his knuckles white as they gripped the cross guards. The blades had shattered when Kakashi’s hit had landed, and the fragmented blades now peppered Terra’s torso and arms. One fragment had sliced at his face, marking a bold line diagonally across his left eye, parallel to the tear trough on that side, thankfully missing the actual tissue. Terra shifted slightly, and one of his booted feet slid slightly in the pool of blood, which was growing alarmingly fast.

“Why…Terra?” Haku said, louder this time.

“Because.” Terra rasped around the blood oozing from his mouth, “You are…my…precious person.” And with that, the boy fell forward, dropping the crosspieces of his broken weapons, which fell apart. Kakashi managed to catch Terra, and leapt out of the way of Zabuza’s strike. Haku had managed to wobble over to where Kakashi had laid Terra, and had now fallen to his knees, tears streaming down his pale face.

“Terra. Why did you do it, Terra?” Haku murmured again, resting a hand on Terra’s blood spattered face.

“I told you,” Haku jumped as Terra grasped the hand on his face, fingers fumbling slightly from the blood that slicked them.

“But, why?” Haku asked. Terra’s right eye slid open, looking at the younger boy with his heavy gaze. Heavy with pain, suffering, and knowledge of the darkest parts of the world. Haku could almost see Terra’s pupils, which he had been surprised to learn were slitted like a cat’s rather than round.

“I made…a promise.” Terra said, breath labored from the effort to breathe while one of his lungs was filling with blood, “I made…a promise…to myself. That I would…protect you…until…I died.”

“Why?” Haku cried, “Why would you do that?”

“Because…you…saved…me.” Terra sighed, eye falling closed.

“Terra?” Haku frantically shook the boy’s shoulder, “Terra! TERRA!”

Zabuza’s death had hit Haku hard too, so it was no surprise the state that the boy was in right now. Kakashi and Haku’s eyes snapped to the hallway as hurried footsteps approached. Sakura suddenly appeared in the doorway, a smile lighting up her still childish face.

“He’s waking up!” she exclaimed. Haku was already past her, and Kakashi was right behind him. Once they reached the room that had been set aside for the injured, Haku dashed to his friend’s side, eyes wide but mouth set. Sasuke and Naruto were also there. Terra groaned and slowly opened his eyes and grimaced, slamming them shut again and fumbling around for something to apparently cover his face with.

“Aw damnit, fucking sunlight!” he hissed, and Haku sat back with a relieved laugh.

“You never change do you?” the ice-user said with a small smile. Terra peeked out from behind the blanket, eyes squinted at the brightness.

“Uh, no?” he said hesitantly. Slowly, Terra released the covers and looked around, raising an eyebrow at the Konoha ninja.

“Seeing as you guys aren’t leaping at our throats, I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say that you won.” Terra said, sitting up slowly, wincing at the pain that movement caused.

“In a way, yes.” Kakashi said, smiling beneath his mask. Terra nodded and began peeling off his bandages.

“Hey wait a minute! Those need to heal!” Sakura shouted, but Terra ignored her. The bandages fell away and there was a round of gasps from the Konoha ninjas as the skin beneath was revealed, perfectly smooth and pale.

“I’m a little different than what you’re used to.” Terra said, smiling ruefully.

“H-how…and before, you stopped breathing and your heart stopped, you were dead!” Sakura rambled. Haku was watching Terra, eyes holding the same questions, but restraining from asking them. Terra sighed and his smile became bitter and broken.

“My soul, corrupted by vengeance, hath endured torment, to find the end of the journey.” Terra murmured lowly, shaking his head, “I’ll tell you but there’s a lot of backstory. Haku will probably want to hear this too, so I might as well explain now. After all, it’s Haku’s story too.” Haku helped Terra sit back against the wall under the window, and then sat next to him, giving the other boy something to lean against.

“Okay,” Terra grimaced as he straightened his back, but shook it off, “so Haku told you about his ass of a father?” Sakura winced slightly at the coarse language, but all of the Konoha ninja nodded, “Well, he didn’t tell you what happened after his mother died, and for good reason.”

“That bastard sold me.” Haku spat. The Konoha ninja’s eyes widened.

“What? Why? What can you get for a person?” Naruto asked. Terra facepalmed.

“Money you idiot. And people buy other people all the time. It’s called slavery, human trafficking, captivity, you get the gist?” Terra snapped. The blonde nodded fervently, obviously frightened.

“Well, as I said, he sold me to a slavery ring. I was terrified, and the guards weren’t helping, jeering, making jokes, and spinning lies about the guy I was going to share a cell with. I was trembling with fright by the time they left, but the guy who was already in the cell set me straight, rather quickly too.”

“Hey, I wasn’t nearly as bad as they were saying. Besides, I only bit them.” Terra said, a small smile emerging on his face.

“Wait, you were in the cell?” Sakura exclaimed. Terra nodded, smile rueful again.

“Yeah, that’s how we met.” He said, taking in their shocked expressions.

“You must have escaped though, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.” Kakashi said evenly. Terra and Haku nodded.

“Yes, but not until two years later.” Haku said.

“What took you so long?” Sasuke asked, just barely hiding the sneer from his voice. Terra shot him a glare, kicking the nearby pillow at him.

“Shut up, asshole.” He spat, “It took us that long because when they brought Haku in, he was only seven and scared out of his mind. I would have escaped much sooner, but the place where we were being held was an underground catacomb. I couldn’t remember the way out because I’d basically been in there my whole life!”

“H-how old were you?” Sakura asked quietly, keeping a hand over Naruto’s mouth to keep him from asking about whatever his question was. Terra looked down at his hands, which lay in his lap as he did mental math to the best of his abilities.

“I…I was nine when they brought Haku in. I don’t know how old I was when they kidnapped me. The only way I know that my parents didn’t just give me up was the fact that the guards who did it liked to gloat about it. I only know that I was too young to remember anything. I can’t remember where I’m from, my family…nothing.” Terra clenched his hands into fists, “You can’t imagine the fear, the hopelessness that rules places like that. It’s awful, never knowing if you’ll even wake up the next day. Learning to ignore the hunger that tears at your insides day after day. Hearing the screams echoing from those who have been bought, being dragged from their cells by a chain around their necks. It’s enough to break most people. Ninja are especially prized because they usually have special abilities or at least more strength than the average person. The only thing better is when they’re children. We were lucky, so damn lucky that we weren’t chosen before we could escape.”

“How did you manage to escape?” Kakashi asked.

“Well, after I got around to telling Terra that I knew the way out, it took us about three months because of a slight…hitch in our planning.” Haku said.

“Hitch? What hitch? What happened?” Naruto finally exclaimed.

“Well, there are two ways that they would discipline those whose spirits weren’t breaking fast enough for their liking.” Haku began, “One, and the more gruesome of the two was that the person would be sent farther down in the catacombs. The other, well…the person would be dragged off to be disciplined. I never had that happen, but Terra…”

“That was our hitch.” Terra said lowly, “The bastards in charge decided that I’d gone long enough without bending to their rules and it was time to break me.” The teen started to pull his knees up to his chest, but stopped for a moment, as if remembering phantom pains, before wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his chin on his knees, “You can’t imagine what it was like. The first time, when they first dragged me into that room, the smell was what I really remember. It smelled like blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids. I was so terrified that I couldn’t even scream. They chained me up to the wall and…” Terra broke off; eyes clenched shut and fists clenched so hard that the knuckles were turning white. He swallowed hard, and breathed slowly, in and out, in and out.

“Terra?” Haku murmured, “You don’t-”

“Yes, I do. Zabuza’s the only one who weaseled it out of me before now, but…I’ve got to tell someone.” Terra interrupted, “The depraved man that was waiting for me was a scientist. He used several experimental drugs on me, as well as testing human reactions to certain stimuli.”

“What kind of stimuli?” Sakura asked. Terra leveled a grave look her way, and the girl flinched.

“Several kinds, epidermal torture, poison injected into the blood stream, being lacerated with a whip, broken bones, dislocated joints. He told me that he would have tried a firebrand, but because of my abilities over fire, which he somehow knew about, it would be useless. Fire never harms me, and heat only makes me stronger. Instead, he exposed me to dry ice, liquid nitrogen, and frozen metal rods. The worst was the internal torture though.” Here Terra shivered, remembering the cold that sapped his internal heat and nearly killed him, “He remodeled my digestive system on a molecular level. Because of that, I can’t eat or drink anymore. I just have to have access to chakra.”

“But, how is that possible?” Sakura exclaimed, earning her a deadpan look from Terra.

“You really think I know? I’m just lucky he explained what he did to me. The man was under the assumption that as an experiment, I had no more rights than a rat or a mouse.” He said.

“That’s not all…is it?” Haku asked softly, “What was it that he did that made you so cold that first time?” Terra stiffened, a pained look crossing his face.

“There was a reason he remodeled my insides. He…he was especially fond of…putting things…inside people…in specific places.” Terra said, not looking at any of them.

“Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?” Naruto asked.

“Naruto, Sakura, drop it.” Kakashi said suddenly, “You don’t want to know.” Terra looked from Kakashi, who had an understanding look in his visible eye, to Haku, whose face was shadowed by his bangs.

“H-Haku?” Terra murmured. The younger teen suddenly lunged forward, pulling Terra into a crushing hug.

“Haku?” Terra asked, louder.

“You made that promise.” Haku said quietly, “You made that promise that night. The first night they dragged you back in a broken, bleeding heap. Why? All I did was try to keep you warm.” Terra put his hands on Haku’s shoulders and moved the younger teen away a bit so he could look him in the eye.

“Yeah, and because of that, I was able to build up enough internal heat to fight off the cold.” He ruffled Haku’s hair, “Besides, I wasn’t going to let you stay there. I knew you were going to be a great ninja, but only if someone gave you the incentive to train. A reason to keep going.”

A week or so after the fight on the bridge, the workers finished construction. Everyone had healed up from the battle, and Kakashi had convinced Terra and Haku to come back to Konoha with them. So the six stood on the end of the bridge, Naruto saying good-bye to the bridge builder and his family. Finally, after several embarrassing minutes, the group left. Haku and Terra paused on top of the slight rise, looking out towards the cliff where they’d buried Zabuza.

“Good bye, Zabuza.” The murmured together. Then the pair turned and left, following Team Seven back to the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

Terra dropped the grocery bags on the small table in the kitchen. He and Haku had been granted citizenship shortly after their arrival in Konoha. Terra, who was paranoid about money and had all of his, Haku’s, and Zabuza’s savings on him at all times, had purchased a small flat for the two teens. They had managed to find some decent secondhand futons and bedding, a couch, and a couple of armchairs. Thankfully the apartment came with the major appliances. Haku had gone out to find a good weapons store, while Terra had gone shopping for groceries. It was easier for them; especially after the explanation session they’d had in the Land of Waves, than most because they only had one person to feed. Terra looked up as Haku entered, locking the front door behind him and stepping out of his shoes.

“Any luck?” Terra asked as he began to put away the perishables.

“There were a few promising ones, but I got distracted with a message from Kakashi.” Haku said, joining Terra in putting things away.

“Oh? What did he want?” Terra asked.

“Well, he said that the Hokage wants to see us.” Terra froze.

“What! Why didn’t you say so sooner?” he exclaimed, throwing the rest of the things in cupboards and racing towards the door. Haku was hot on his heels, and the pair raced out of the apartment, barely managing to lock the door after them. They darted over the rooftops to the Hokage tower, then up the stairs to the floor where his office was. They skidded to a halt in front of the door and Terra knocked.

“Enter.” An older voice called. Terra and Haku spared a glance at each other, and then stepped into the room. Kakashi was leaning up against the wall, reading from a small orange book. The third Hokage sat at his desk, smoking a pipe. The two teens stopped and bowed in tandem.

“So, you must be Haku and Terra.” the Hokage said. The boys nodded.

“Kakashi tells me that you are quite skilled. Have either of you ever tested for Chunin?”

“No sir.” Haku said.

“Hmm, well, we’ll have to fix that won’t we?” Haku and Terra shared confused glances. The third Hokage smiled and produced two slips of paper.

“These are application forms for the Chunin exams.” He said, handing them to Terra, who passed one to Haku, “If you decide to participate, you sign them and turn them in to room 301 in the Academy at three p.m. on the thirteenth.” The forms had a formal statement saying that the Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, recommended them for the Chunin exams.

“Three pm on the thirteenth.” Haku stared at the paper, “Shit! That’s in twenty minutes!”

“Better get going then.” Kakashi said nonchalantly. Terra and Haku whirled, darting back out the door.

“Kakashi, are you sure?” the Hokage murmured. The silver haired ninja nodded.

“Yes, those two are definitely qualified for Chunin, if not Jonin. And I told you about Terra…” The Hokage nodded, lacing his fingers together.

“Yes, that boy…I can certainly sense his determination, not to mention his will to protect. It will certainly be interesting this year.”

Terra grimaced under his mask as he leaned against the wall. After so many years working with just Haku and Zabuza, being around this many people was making him antsy. On their way over, Haku had rushed back to the apartment to get their masks, having almost read Terra’s mind on that front. Despite not liking the lack of peripheral vision while wearing them, Terra would use the mask as a way to keep some distance between him and the rest of the participants. The two boys had arrived shortly before Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura. They were off to the side, watching the trio talk with several other Genin who looked about their age.

“Hey, you guys. You might want to try keeping it down a little.” The duo’s attention was pulled to a silver haired young man with glasses, “I mean, no offense, but you’re the nine rookies, right? Fresh out of the academy? I wouldn’t go making a spectacle of yourselves. Just cool it. This isn’t a class field trip.”

“He doesn’t know the meaning of cool.” Haku murmured. Terra snorted, shaking his head.

“That’s an understatement. None of them know the real meaning of bringing the heat either. We might just have to show them.” He said, crossing his arms.

“Are you ready for this?” Haku asked.

“Yeah, you?” Terra replied.

“I would have thought you’d have been a bit more worried. After all, your weapons of choice are still out of commission.” Haku said. Terra grimaced.

“Yeah, that’s not helping, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.” He said.

“Hey, Kabuto. Do you know anything on those two guys?” one of the younger Genin asked, the one with a dog on his head. The whole group turned to look at Terra and Haku.

“No, I don’t actually.” The silver haired Genin, Kabuto, said softly.

“Shall we?” Terra asked. Haku nodded and the two moved forward. A few of the group backed up, nervous about the approaching teens.

“Sasuke, Sakura, Naruto, good to see you.” Haku said softly.

“Yeah, we wondered how long it would take you to notice us.” Terra said.

“What are you guys doing here?” Naruto asked.

“What do you think? Selling cookies?” Terra deadpanned. In another universe, several teenage girls in green, brown, blue, and kaki vests or sashes sneezed.

“Who are you guys though?” a brunette with his hair pulled back into a high ponytail that made him look like a pineapple asked.

“My name is Haku, and that is Terra. We…met these three on a mission they had in the Land of Waves.” Haku said.

“So, did Kakashi-sensei recommend you for the exams?” Sakura asked.

“He mentioned it to the Hokage, who put in a special request for us to enter as a two-man team. We only got told about this about fifteen minutes ago.” Terra said.

“Hey, if your masks have the symbol for the Village Hidden in the Mist, why did the Hokage recommend you?” asked one of the other Genin, a blonde with a long ponytail and bright blue eyes.

“Well, we recently became members of Konoha. Before, we weren’t registered with any village.” Haku explained, pulling his mask down far enough to show that the headband tied around his forehead now had the symbol for Konoha rather than Kiri, “We just haven’t had time to get new masks made.” He slid the mask back into place.

“Terra, where are your chakrams?” Sasuke suddenly asked.

“Uh, still in pieces. Thankfully we got all of the ones that hit me out. Do you really think I’d be able to get replacements for them this soon? I’ll have to special order some after all this is over.” The teen said, “Until then, I’m stuck with my katana.” Terra twitched violently as he felt a heavy gaze land on him, and he turned slightly to see a ninja with a Rain headband staring at him.

“I’m going to go back over to the wall. Too many people have noticed you guys for me to be comfortable.” Terra murmured, walking back to his spot against the wall. Haku followed, standing off to the side slightly with his arms crossed.

Terra glanced around, keeping his head still as he did to keep from drawing attention to himself. The man in charge of this part of the test, Ibiki, had given the list of rules at the beginning of the session. Several of the candidates had already been pulled for cheating…or at least cheating badly. He knew Haku could easily answer the questions on the test, more because of the years of experience they both had in the field. Terra, to his embarrassment, had forgotten to mention that he’d never learned to read, and that was keeping him from just outright answering the questions. However, they had both figured out what the test was really about. Terra smirked slightly, his Kekkei Genkai beginning to spin rapidly, and as Ibiki turned to look at him, Terra cast a quick Genjutsu over his eyes to hide the Sharingan, but slowly enough so that the man got a glimpse of his Kekkei Genkai. The teen began copying the paper next to him, quickly filling in all of the blanks. Across the room, Haku had already distracted the boy beside him and glanced at the paper. Now he was filling out his own paper, calling on the image he had saved in his mind of the test paper. He glanced across the room, catching Terra’s eye through the mask. The other teen was leaning boredly on one fist, flipping his pencil around his free hand. Haku smirked under his mask, seeing the glint of mischief in the other boy’s eyes.

‘This will be fun.’ Haku thought. Over the next few minutes, Haku began releasing waves of cold, just faint enough so that they would be barely noticed. Gradually, the room became colder and colder. Several of the Genin began shivering, fidgeting in their seats and trying to warm themselves up. Even some of the Chunin were trying to get warmer. Ibiki finally turned to one of the Chunin towards the front.

“Go check the air, this is getting ridiculous.” He said. Haku smirked and stopped upping the cold. Momentarily, the air came on, blowing warm air into the room. Haku extended his senses and felt Terra releasing some of his chakra into the air, creating a wave of warmth to wash over the room. Several of the people sighed in appreciation. However, it wasn’t long before several were sweating profusely due to Terra ratcheting up the heat. Haku himself was only exempt because he let out a burst of his own chakra in a tight bubble around him every time Terra did, to combat the heat. Finally, the clock hit the forty-five-minute mark. As Ibiki began to go on about the final question and its set of rules, the two elemental users glanced at each other. Terra dipped his shoulder, silently asking Haku if he wanted to quit. In response, Haku drummed his fingers lightly on the table, a solid no. Terra nodded and faced forward again. After about ten minutes of people leaving, Naruto raised his hand. Terra and Haku shared startled glances, before the blonde slammed his hand down on the desk. The older teens shook their heads slightly and smiled to themselves. Naruto was the number one, hyperactive, knucklehead of Konoha. Terra nearly had a heart attack and leapt to his feet when something cannoned in through the window. It was a bundle of cloth, and it unfurled, being nailed to the ceiling with a kunai in each corner, revealing the woman that had been wrapped inside. The banner announced her as being Anko Mitarashi, the proctor for the second exam. Slowly, Terra replaced his kunai, sitting back down stiffly.

‘These Konoha ninja are insane.’ Terra thought, ‘With a capital ‘I’!’

Haku and Terra took off as the gate opened, kicking up dust as they pelted forward. Terra kept one hand on his katana’s hilt, while Haku kept one hand full of senbon, though his sleeve hid it. The two quickly took to the trees, Terra in the lead with Haku right behind him, moving silently through the upper reaches of the forest. About five kilometers from the gate, they stopped and glanced around.

“One or two?” Terra asked. Haku tossed an Earth scroll to Terra.

“Two, I feel like a challenge.” He said, smiling beneath his mask. Terra shook his head and pulled out a thin scroll. He unrolled it and placed the Earth scroll on one of the many seals on the inside. A series of hand signs and a poof of smoke later, the Earth scroll was sealed away.

“Four hours, we meet up at the tower. One of us isn’t there, the other goes looking.” Terra said. Haku nodded and they both disappeared. Terra leapt though the trees, speeding forward.

‘Something’s up. I can feel it. There’s a lot more going on than just the exam.’ Terra thought, leaping up and using his arms to grab a branch and flip over several feet of empty air, using several other branches on the other side as monkey bars. He dropped towards a larger limb, when a huge blast of wind tore through the woods and shredded the canopy of the forest. Terra, caught without a handhold, was sent flying, slamming into several trees before rolling to a stop on the ground.

“That hurt.” Terra groaned, slowly propping himself up on his elbows, spitting out dirt, leaves, and grass that had found their way into his mouth, somehow getting past his mask. As Terra stood, the sounds of footsteps made him look up, peering through the eyeholes of his miraculously still whole mask.

“Terra?” Sakura asked, standing beside Sasuke, who held a kunai defensively. The teen in question rose, brushing off dirt, leaves, and other debris from his trip through the woods.

“What weapons do you usually use?” Sasuke suddenly asked sharply.

“Chakrams.” Terra replied blandly, then, to keep up appearances, “How old was Haku when I first met him?”

“Seven.” Sakura and Sasuke said at the same time. Terra nodded.

“Good, now, where’s Naruto?” he asked.

“We’re not sure.” Sakura said. Terra abruptly turned to the right, eyes locked on the bushes. Suddenly, one began moving, then parted as Naruto ran out and staggered towards them. Terra’s left hand twitched and two kunai slid from his sleeve and into his hand, hidden by his body. Sasuke noticed, eyes flicking from Terra’s hand to his hidden face.

“Hey! What’s up? You guys okay?” Naruto asked as he came close, slight surprise registering from seeing Terra.

“Don’t come any closer.” Sakura said sternly, raising her hand in a ‘stop’ position, “What’s the password?” Naruto grinned.

“Oh, sure! No problem.” He said brightly, “A ninja waits till the time is right. When the enemy sleeps and drops his guard. When his weapons lay forgotten in the stillness of the night. That is the moment for a ninja to strike.” Sakura sighed in relief, but Sasuke and Terra tensed. Both boys threw their kunai, making Naruto dodge to the side, falling to the ground.

“What was that?” Naruto shouted, “You could have killed me.”

“That was the intention.” Terra said bluntly.

“Gotta hand it to you, you’re quicker than the last one.” Sasuke commented.

“Jeeze, already? You guys just attract trouble.” Terra muttered.

“What are you talking about? What was wrong with that?” Sakura shouted, “He just got the password right word for word.”

“Exactly, that’s what’s wrong.” Sasuke said, “Do you really think Naruto could memorize all that and get it word for word?” Sakura looked back at the disguised shinobi, “Not the Naruto I know, not in a million years. You’d have a better chance of teaching it to a hamster.”

“Oh, right. You’ve got a point.” Sakura muttered.

“Besides, Naruto doesn’t move like that. I may not have known you guys for long, but I’ve seen him fight.” Terra said.

“Alright, come out, whoever you are! Party’s over!” Sasuke ordered. The disguised person sneered, then licked his lips with a rather long tongue, looking rather strange on Naruto’s face.

“Aren’t we the clever one?” he said, then disappeared in a cloud of smoke, revealing a female Grass ninja with a wide brimmed hat and long dark hair, “Tell me, if your teammate is really that dimwitted, why would you come up with a password he would never remember?”

“You see, it wasn’t meant for Naruto so much as for anybody who might have been nearby trying to eavesdrop on us.” Sasuke said with a smirk, “it was meant as a trap and you stumbled right into it.” The Grass ninja removed her hat.

“I’m impressed.” She hissed, “You certainly haven’t dropped your guard, have you? This promises to be very entertaining.” The shinobi licked her lips. Terra shook his head and grimaced.

‘And Haku thinks I’m weird.’ He thought. The Grass ninja pulled an Earth scroll from the back of her belt. Sakura let out a little gasp.

“Ah, you’d love to get your hands on our Earth scroll, wouldn’t you? It would go so nicely with your Heaven scroll.” The Grass ninja then proceeded to swallow the Earth scroll, “Well, when this is all over, one of us will have both scrolls. And the other will be dead.” A massive amount of killer intent washed over the three Genin. Terra’s eyes narrowed and he grimaced, glad that his mask hid his face. This ninja obviously was expecting them to be frozen. A glance at Sasuke and Sakura showed that it worked at least partially. Sakura had sunk to her knees, face frozen in fear. Sasuke had downright fallen on all fours and was puking.

‘I’m probably not as affected by it because of my time with Zabuza.’ He thought, eyes snapping back to the ninja, ‘Who is this…no Genin should be able to deal out that much killing intent…except maybe an angry Jinchūriki…a really angry Jinchūriki…or Haku when he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.’

“S-Sakura?” Sasuke managed to say, staring at the pink haired girl. The Grass ninja laughed.

“You’re paralyzed with fear.” Terra rolled his eyes, noticing that Sasuke was managing to pull out a kunai and get on his feet.

“Very good. Now what happens?” the Grass ninja asked. Sasuke was still unable to reply. The konoichi began moving forward, drawing three kunai.

“Don’t worry, I’ll make it quick. But I don’t have to tell you that, do I? You’ve seen it with your own eyes.” The Genin laughed again, raising her arm to throw.

“I expected you to be more of a challenge. How disappointing.” And then she threw. Terra pushed Sakura towards Sasuke, and then dodged to the other side. Sasuke stabbed himself in the leg, then scooped up Sakura and bolted. Terra crouched; putting a hand on his katana’s handle and drew another kunai.

“So that’s how it is.” The konoichi said with a smirk, and then looked at Terra, “You seemed a bit quicker on the uptake.” Terra shook his head.

“Wasn’t affected. I’m a bit more experienced than those two.” Terra gestured over his shoulder, “The Demon of the Bloody Mist was my mentor for six years.” The Grass ninja looked slightly surprised.

“Zabuza? And how did you manage to get accepted into a Chunin exam?” Terra shrugged.

“Not really your business now is it?” Terra threw his kunai, then activated his Sharingan, ducking the punch and throwing his arm up in an ‘X’ to block the kick. He grabbed the konoichi’s foot, and twisted, pulling the other shinobi off balance and elbowing her knee. The Grass ninja managed to roll out of the way, bringing a kunai around to swing at Terra. Terra released the konoichi, shuffling back to dodge the kunai, drawing his katana, spinning, and slashing diagonally upward. The Grass ninja ducked and leapt away, throwing the kunai. Terra blocked it with his katana, making the knife spin off to the side. This all happened in a matter of heartbeats, leaving neither of the two winded in the least.

“You’re rather good.” The Grass ninja said, licking her lips, “I might get a challenge after all.” Terra rolled his eyes. That was a mistake, because the eyeholes blocked off his sight long enough for a kunai to get close enough that he couldn’t dodge fully. Terra was able to lean back far enough that the kunai spun around to hit with the hilt. The kunai clatter to the ground, and a large crack formed on Terra’s mask. The teen growled.

“Damn it, I wanted to keep that until the finals.” He said lowly. The mask fell apart, dropping in three pieces to the ground. The Grass ninja’s eyes widened.

“Itachi…Uchiha?” Terra rolled his eyes again.

“Why does everyone think that? No, I’m not Itachi. My name is Terra.” Terra tightened his grip on his katana, his Sharingan’s three tomes spinning faster in agitation.

“You’ll have to forgive me. But you do look a lot like him.” the Grass ninja commented, ducking his head and grinning widely.

“So I’ve been told.” Terra suddenly threw his another kunai and stabbed his katana into the ground, hands flying through hand signs.

“Fire Style, Grand fireball jutsu!” Terra shouted, expelling a huge fireball from his mouth. The konoichi dodged and ran forward again, engaging Terra in Taijutsu. The two went at it for several minutes, until an explosion was heard not far off.

“What t-!” Terra’s attention snapped to it, searching for chakra signatures.

‘Sasuke, Sakura, and…but she’s…’

“A clone!” Terra’s gaze snapped back to the Grass Genin.

“Striking Shadow Snake!” five brown snakes with darker brown markings shot from the sleeve of the Genin, Terra managed to bat aside a few with his katana, but the rest either bit him or wrapped around him. Terra grunted and snarled at the other Genin.

“What are you-?” the Genin chuckled and formed a hand sign, her neck extended, canines lengthening. Terra yanked his head to the side, but that only exposed his neck further. The konoichi bit down on Terra’s neck, just below his jaw. It took a lot of strength for Terra not to scream. Even with his high pain tolerance, the bite hurt, more than it should. The snakes retreated, and Terra brought up his katana, striking wildly at the Grass Genin. She stumbled back a hand held to her face. She pulled her hand away to see it covered in blood. The Grass Genin began to laugh, one of the kinds of laughs that shook the whole body.

“You are a surprise. Not many can still move after getting one of my curse marks.” Terra grimaced and put his right hand to his neck, partially covering his right ear as a wave of pain lanced through his body from the bite. His left hand tightened on the hilt of his katana.

“Not many people…”Terra hissed slightly in pain, “Not many have been though what I have…and lived. I…I’ve had it rough.” Terra staggered slightly to the side. The Grass Genin smirked, and dug her fingers into the scratch on her face, which was near her eye.

“To be honest, I was surprised to find another Sharingan wielder. To my knowledge, there wasn’t another besides Itachi, Kakashi, and Sasuke.” The konoichi pulled at the wound, her skin peeling away to show much paler skin beneath with a gold colored eye and black makeup around it, and her voice deepened to that of a man’s, “Tell me, how did you escape the massacre?”

“W-Who wants to know?” Terra spat, glaring as he fell to his knees, woozy from the effects of the…curse mark.

‘What massacre?’ the fire-user thought.The ninja before him laughed slightly.

“It’s no matter, I’ll find out eventually.” And with that, the man sank into the ground. Terra panted, slowly levering himself up and staggering in the direction of the earlier fight he’d heard.

“Gotta…help.” Terra muttered, dragging his katana in the dust, unable to lift his arm to sheathe it and right hand still clamped over the mark. It took entirely too long for Terra to get close enough to stumble up a tree and be within sight of Sasuke and Sakura. The Grass ninja stood some distance away, holding a Heaven scroll, but he looked paler and more masculine. He was saying something, but from the distance, and the state of his senses, Terra couldn’t understand what was being said. The heaven scroll began to burn, a green fire engulfing it.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but if you’ve finished why don’t you just beat it!” Sakura shouted, her voice shrill and high from a combination of fear and anger, “If we never meet again it’ll be too soon.”

“Oh, he and I will meet again.” The man said, forming the hand sign again.

“Move!” Terra managed to shout weakly, but neither of the younger Genin did so much as flinch. Again the man’s neck extended, and he bit Sasuke.

“Sasuke, no!” Sakura exclaimed. The man retracted his neck, and Sasuke slowly sunk to his knees, crying out in pain and gripping his neck.

“You, what have you done to Sasuke?” Sakura demanded.

“I gave him a little parting gift.” Sasuke fell to his knees with a yell, “Very soon, Sasuke will seek me out…he’ll desire my power. In the meantime, I enjoyed the demonstration of the powers you already possess.” Sasuke let out a long yell of pain as the man sunk into the tree limb. Terra then concentrated on getting over to the two younger Genin, noticing Naruto was unconscious and pinned to a tree by a kunai through his jacket. Sakura looked up as Terra approached, gasping slightly.

“Terra, you’ve still got your Sharingan active.” She said quietly, obviously surprised, Sasuke cradled in her lap and tears streaming down her face.

“Oh,” Terra deactivated his Sharingan and instantly felt a wave of pain. He hissed and dropped to his knees, tightening his grip on his neck.

“Terra?” Sakura gasped, “He got you too?”

“No, he just painted it on, yes he got me.” Terra snapped, panting from the amount of effort it took to stay conscious, “There’s…there’s a large tree several meters that way,” he gestured with the hand gripping his katana, “with…with a large space in its roots. Good place to…to hide and rest.” Terra’s eyes squinted closed in pain.

“Okay, but…”

“I’ll bring…Sasuke. Bring Naruto and…my sword.” Terra’s katana fell from his grip, thankfully staying on the branch. Sakura nodded and hurried over to retrieve Naruto. Terra grimaced and slowly got back on his feet, dragging Sasuke up too, maneuvering so that his left arm supported the younger Sharingan user. Sakura came over with Naruto on her back, and managed to pick up Terra’s katana. The group made their way to the shelter slowly, and Terra collapsed, unfortunately taking Sasuke with him. Sakura got Naruto down, and then helped Terra get over to the side and sit up.

“Thanks.” Terra breathed, gritting his teeth as another wave of pain roared over his nervous system, not quite managing to clamp down on the whimper of pain that bubbled up. Sakura went about tending to Sasuke and Naruto, worriedly glancing ever so often back at Terra, who just waved her away.

It was close to midnight when a pair of footsteps drew Terra’s attention and jolted Sakura from her doze. Terra tensed and readied a kunai, while Sakura stared out at the darkness, eyes wide with terror. Internally, Terra shook his head.

“How old was I when you met me for the first time?” Terra asked.

“Nine.” Haku’s voice answered, “What do I want for Christmas?” Terra shook his head, smiling slightly, and then wincing.

“A hippopotamus, or a white Christmas.” He replied. Haku seemed to almost materialize from the mist, looking down at them.

“You look like shit, Terra,” he said bluntly.

“Feel like it too. My chakra control is fucked up right now.” The Sharingan user replied, shifting slightly, and wincing, touching a hand to his neck.

“What happened?” Sakura glanced over her shoulder at Haku’s question, looking at Naruto and Sasuke.

“We were attacked by a man named Orochimaru. He’d disguised himself as that Grass ninja that talked to our proctor today.” Sakura frowned as she explained, “He went after Sasuke pretty quick, but I think he switched with a clone shortly after Sasuke got serious so he could fight Terra.”

“Probably right. He broke my mask, so he saw my Sharingan and how much I look like this ‘Itachi’ character.” Terra grimaced, clenching his hand on his neck, “He bit me, and according to Sakura, there’s a mark there now. That bastard got Sasuke too.” Haku moved forward and pulled Terra’s hand away. A black mark was positioned, just below Terra’s jaw line, under his ear. It consisted of three slightly curved lines, which spread in a rip-like pattern.

“That looks serious, we should get to the tower. We might get some help there.” He said.

“You got the scrolls?” Terra asked.

“Sort of, only had time for one.” Haku replied, taking Terra’s hand and pulling the other teen to his feet.

“You’re leaving?” Sakura asked, sounding rather scared. Haku and Terra glanced at her, then each other. Terra nodded towards Haku, who sighed and brought his hands up in a hand sign.

“Ice Style, Combat Clone Jutsu.” He said, and another Haku appeared from a puddle of water nearby, which Haku had formed when he had arrived, solidifying into ice before taking on the teen’s form.

“My clone will stay with you and set up traps, so you’ll be safe against most of the weaker Genin. Remember though, that one hit will cause the clone to disperse. Especially since I’ll be so far away.” The ice-user explained. Sakura nodded, and the two older boys left.

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