Fire and Ice

Quaking Leaf, Melting Earth, Steaming Ice

Terra whistled lowly as Naruto’s fight with Neji ended. The finals had just begun and already things were shaping up to be a day of surprises. He could hear several people in the stands muttering in disbelief over the fact that the supposed ‘dead last’ of the Ninja Academy had beaten the genius of the Hyūga clan. Terra shook his head, glancing at Haku, who was also shaking his head.

“Being a genius isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, eh?” the pyromancer asked. Haku lightly punched him in the arm. The two had both changed their outfits, deeming it time for a change as they were somewhere new and had different reasons for getting up each morning, though they still circulated around protecting the ones they cared for, that circle was beginning to grow, if very slowly. Haku had exchanged his heavier clothes for a lightweight, dark blue, short-sleeved gi, under a sleeveless black kimono top, a length of faded red fabric to use as an obi. He wore dark blue zubon pants, and black boots, the shins of which are covered in cloth kyahan. He also had a chainmail shirt on under his tops, but sleeveless. Haku had also changed his hairstyle to a ponytail similar to Terra’s. It made it less likely that his ice would catch his hair when he was doing frontal assaults. It also helped that it made Haku look less like a girl. Terra had exchanged his uwagi for a sleeveless black one under a very dark grey gi, black zubon pants, wrist bracers that covered the backs of his hands, a black strip of cloth for an uwa-obi to tie his uwagi closed, and black boots, the shins of which are covered by chain enforced kyahan. He too wore a long-sleeved chainmail shirt under both shirts, and his gi was left open. His chakrams were now holstered on his back, over his katana’s sheath, and he’d added two more kunai holsters to his left thigh.

The teens went back to watching the matches, which had accelerated to the match between Shikamaru and Temari, as Dosu had never showed up and Kankurō had backed out of his fight with Shino. Judging from the bug user’s expression, that wasn’t going to fly with him, no pun intended, and he’d get his fight out of the Sand Ninja sooner or later. It wasn’t hard to guess that even from what little could be seen of Shino’s expression. Temari and Shikamaru’s fight went fairly quickly, and even though he was in a prime position to win, Shikamaru backed down from it because of his chakra running out. Naruto didn’t take kindly to that for some reason, but Haku and Terra didn’t stick around to see how that turned out. They made their way down the stairs, silently gearing themselves up mentally for the fight ahead. As such, they were slightly surprised to see Sasuke and Kakashi had appeared during their descent. After letting Sasuke and Naruto talk for a bit, Terra stepped forward.

“Oi! Some of us have a fight to attend! Get your asses out of the way!” he shouted. The two younger boys jumped, Kakashi and Genma having already noticed, Temari had already vacated back to the participant’s balcony, and Shikamaru just didn’t care. After a few more minutes, the extras retreated from the arena.

Sasuke, Shikamaru, and Naruto made their way into the stands to watch Terra and Haku’s fight with Sakura and Kakashi. It helped that the view was better from the stands, giving a more aerial stance. Thankfully, the two older shinobi hadn’t started fighting yet, still throwing insults back and forth, though anyone could tell it was in good spirits, the two taking everything good-naturedly.

“What do you mean I look like a girl because of my hair? Naruto thought you were a girl until you actually told him otherwise!” Terra shouted, pulling his chakrams out. He spun them once in tandem, before fire ignited over the metal. There were sounds of surprise from some of the civilians, but otherwise not much of a reaction.

“That’s not exactly my fault, now is it?” Haku asked, pulling out three senbon with each hand, ice visibly condensing around the metal and his arms, acting as gauntlets of thick, solidified water. Terra spun his chakrams again and threw both forward, one after the other in quick succession. Haku dodged, throwing one handful of senbon, only to duck as one of the chakrams came roaring back towards his head. Terra reattached that to his back holster and leapt upward, fist cocked back. Haku disappeared in a burst of speed, leaving Terra to impact on the ground, cratering and cracking the surrounding field. The pyromancer just grinned, raising his head and yanking on the retractable cable extending from his right glove, brining his loose chakram back to block against a hail of senbon.

“Water Style: Water Dragon Jutsu!” Haku shouted, and a huge serpent of liquid water rose from behind two trees.

“Oh shit!” was all Terra could say before he had to dodge. The dragon impacted on the ground and quickly fell apart, filling the crater Terra had made. The older shinobi threw both of his chakrams, only to miss as Haku disappeared again.

“Ah, damnit!” Terra appeared higher up the wall, beginning to go through a series of hand signs, “I hate it when you do that.” He drew in a deep breath, then planted his hands on the wall beneath him and exhaled in a controlled stream, “Fire Style: Dragon Flame Jutsu!” The jet of flame shot forward, incinerating a tree that was not far from Terra. Haku flew out of the foliage, dousing a few flames on his clothes with quickly conjured ice, then throwing a few senbon at Terra. The pyromancer dropped the technique, then let himself fall down from the wall, flipping to land on his feet and yanking on what appeared to be air as Haku drew closer, only for his chakrams to come hurtling back into his hands in time to catch Haku’s strike with his ninja-to.

“You’ve gotten faster.” Haku said, leaping away. Terra brandished his chakrams, lighting them on fire again.

“You’re getting stronger.” The elder said with a grin, then began swinging. Haku didn’t move in time and was forced to fend off the attacks, which were delivered with bone shuddering force.

Up in the stands, shock was a major silencing factor. The Genin members of Team Seven were quite glad that neither of the two older teens had gotten very serious during their fight on the bridge, or that day might have gone in a much different direction. Kakashi was thanking his good luck, what little he had, that both teens had surrendered fairly easily, and had also decided to return with them. Even if they didn’t advance in the tournament, both had more than displayed the qualifications of a Chunin level shinobi. Haku alone was scary enough, but Terra had held his own against Kakashi, albeit the teen had been fighting shadow clones, but that was beside the point.

“Did he learn how to use his chakra to enhance his strength?” Gai asked suddenly. He and Lee had appeared shortly after the beginning of the fight.

“No.” Sasuke was actually the one to answer, and when they looked, his eyes were fading from the Sharingan red, “It’s all physical strength, he’s not directing any extra chakra into his strikes.” Even the two Taijutsu users looked more than a little awed. Terra was, after all, making craters every time he struck, whether he hit Haku or not.

“That’s crazy!” Ino exclaimed, eyes locked on the fighting pair. As such, she didn’t see the members of Team Seven glance between each other, remembering Terra and Haku’s story on their lives before Zabuza. No doubt, advanced strength was another of the effects of the experimentation done on Terra. Down in the arena, Terra suddenly jerked to a halt, and Haku disappeared. Terra began swearing colorfully, obviously he’d been in contact with some sailors, and swiping down, trying to reach his back foot, which was pinned to the ground with a trio of senbon.

“Damnit Haku! Really? You knew I wouldn’t notice it until I moved forward!” Terra’s shouts were absent of any indication of pain, and Team Seven was again reminded of his obscene pain tolerance levels.

“What do you think the point was?” Haku asked, appearing a short distance away. He held his ninja-to in one hand, guarding against Terra’s soon-to-be charge. The older teen didn’t disappoint, tearing the senbon from his foot and racing forward, leading with his chakrams.

“Uh, oh.” Sasuke murmured. Haku stomped his foot on the large puddle that had formed after his Water Dragon jutsu, which he was standing on, and ice senbon began to form from the drops that showered upwards.

“Secret Jutsu: A Thousand Needles of Death!” Haku disappeared as the cloud of needles descended upon Terra, kicking up water and hiding the pyromancer from view. The cryomancer reappeared and sheathed his ninja-to, gathering several ice senbon into each hand. Terra finally came back into view, looking over his ice-studded arms, legs, and torso with appraising red eyes.

“Why is it that no one ever believes me when I say you have a thing for voodoo?” Terra asked blithely.

“Because I usually only practice on you.” Was Haku’s snarky reply before he threw the senbon. Fire abruptly exploded around Terra, cloaking him in a thick layer of flames. The senbon already puncturing his body, as well as the ones that Haku had thrown, melted almost instantly.

“Good to know. I don’t want to find out someone else has become a pin-cushion.” Terra grinned viciously with overly sharp canines, the chilling image only accented by his spiraling Sharingan, which also accented the fact that his pupils were elliptical. He charged forward, fists and chakrams wreathed in flames as Haku reinforced the ice on his hands and arms before disappearing.

“What the-!” Shikamaru hissed, “He has the Sharingan?” gazes of the nearby Genin participants swiveled to the members of Team Seven, who had known the two ex-missing-nin before the exams.

“Yes,” It was Kakashi who answered, “he does. We’re going to try and figure out his lineage after the exams are over. We’re not sure what part of the Uchiha family he comes from, but he doesn’t know either.” Sasuke made a ‘che’ sound as he turned back to the fight.

“He doesn’t even know what his Kekkei Genkai means.” The youngest living Uchiha murmured dryly.

“You’re kidding! He’s totally oblivious?” Ino asked, “How though? He had to have known about it before he left the village.” Sasuke and Kakashi were quiet, Naruto was, seemingly, too focused on the fight to input anything, “Right?”

“No. He was taken from his home at a very young age.” Sakura murmured, “He told us himself. He doesn’t even know that he’s originally from Konoha. Terra thinks that he’s just another ninja. That his Kekkei Genkai isn’t all that special.”

“It probably doesn’t help that Sasuke and myself, both Sharingan users, he met on that last mission he had with their sensei.” Kakashi inputted. A series of loud crackling noises, not unlike a lake beginning to thaw after the first warm rush of spring, ended the conversation and drew attention back to the arena. Terra was cemented to the ground with thick plates of ice, which were melting alarmingly fast from the heat his fire-cloak exuded. Haku had formed his dome of ice mirrors, and was beginning the blitzkrieg tactics he’d used on Sasuke and Naruto, though he was going about three times as fast and throwing kunai made of ice rather than senbon.

Terra was indubitably a tank, his stamina, pain tolerance, and strength making him about as easy to move or stop as a rockslide. He was certainly a very straightforward fighter, as his overpowered swings and attacks moved him in a forward direction and the momentum made it hard to turn easily. Haku, as opposed to this, was a speed fighter. He depended upon his overwhelming speed and flexibility to move around his opponents, and his knowledge of anatomy to disable them. Unfortunately, that last point was moot when it came to Terra, as his body would heal the damage nearly as quickly as it was done. In any case, the only way to defeat either of them was to put them up against another strength or speed fighter, respectively, of higher skill, or set them against each other, as was what had happened. In this case, however, the two teens were canceling each other’s strengths out. Haku was raining down blows at a margin that made it difficult for Terra’s healing factor to keep up. Terra, on the other hand, had freed himself and had burst out of the dome. He’d discarded his gloves and chakrams, simply for the fact that he needed the up-close strength, length, and speed of his katana, and was again giving out heavy, flame accented blows with bone shaking force.

“They’re going to come to a draw.” Naruto, of all people said out of the blue. Everyone who knew him looked at him strangely, but he kept his eyes locked on the fight.

“Naruto?” Sakura asked.

“They’re canceling each other out.” The blonde replied, “Terra’s taking more hits, but Haku’s taking more damage.” No comment was made, but several curious glances were thrown at Naruto. No one was used to hearing him so serious, not to mention logical.

“I’ve got about one more move, you?” Terra called.

“Same.” Haku replied, “Usual final moves?”

“What do you think?” the pyromancer replied cheekily. The two skidded apart, both leaving smears of blood from numerous wounds, and stood about ten feet apart. The teens began flashing through a short series of hand seals. Terra finished with the tiger seal, while Haku was left holding the hare seal.

“Fire Style!”

“Water Style!”

“Dragon Flame Jutsu!”

“Raging Waves Jutsu!” the jutsu were released at almost the exact same time, and the two powerful attacks slammed into each other. The shockwave they created kicked up dust and debris, clouding the field below. It took some time for the field to settle, and when it did, Haku and Terra were both seen to be knocked out, having been propelled back into the walls around the stadium by the blast.

“Whoa.” Sakura murmured, then quickly glanced at Naruto. She was sure she wasn’t the only one who was surprised that Naruto had been correct in his guess of the fight ending in a draw.

Terra and Haku looked up as the building shuddered. They were both sitting in a room in the medical bay that was situated just outside of the stadium, having already been checked over. Haku hadn’t been able to smother the snickers when the medics had tried to take the ice kunai out of Terra, only to be met with a wall of fire, literally, and melted ice.

“That didn’t sound like it was coming from the stadium.” Terra murmured. He tightened his obi and turned to Haku.

“We’re going to investigate, aren’t we?” Haku asked, staring flatly at Terra. Terra grinned and bolted for the door. Haku heaved a great sigh before sliding from his perch on one of the tables and following.

Outside they were met with chaos. Smoke was rising from inside the stadium, as well as from the wall. A few Konoha Jonin and ANBU Black-Ops were dashing around, attacking others wearing headbands from both the Hidden Sand and Sound villages.

“Haku, you’re faster, go see if you can get any civilians out of the way of whatever’s going down at the wall. I’ll go see what’s going on in the stadium.” Terra bit out, pulling out his chakrams.

“Don’t bother.” The two boys turned to see Tenten approaching, Neji right behind her.

“The Kazekage attacked the Hokage, and now they’re locked in a fight with each other. There’s a barrier keeping anyone else out.” Tenten explained, “There are some Jonin and ANBU keeping the civilians and those that couldn’t throw off the Genjutsu safe in the stadium.” Terra nodded.

“Right, then, I’ll go investigate-” a resounding crash heralded the appearance of a trio of giant snake heads, “THAT! It certainly looks very interesting.” Terra grinned as Haku facepalmed, and took a few steps towards the towering creatures.

“Terra!” he paused, looking back at Tenten, “Make sure you come back. I’ve got something I wanted to ask you.” Terra blinked, then nodded and grinned again.

“Sure thing!” and then he disappeared. Haku turned to the two younger Genin.

“Let’s go see what we can do to help out with the civilians.” He said. The three of them disappeared too.

Terra didn’t even pause as he leapt out into the air, headed straight for one of the giant snake heads. He immediately threw both chakrams, and used a combination of the trailing wires and the movements of the snake’s body to wrap the thin cables several times around the neck of the snake. Terra used a kunai to make the chakrams ricochet back to him, knocking them off their curved course, and grabbed them out of the air, securing the wires around the bladeless parts of the edges before jumping over a thick, high stone wall. Admittedly, Terra wasn’t the bulkiest of people, and as such was only about a third of the way down the wall before the snake’s movement began to pull him up again. The dark haired teen blasted chakra through his legs, gluing them to the wall and with a titanic effort, dragged the snakes to a halt. Terra grit his teeth and grimaced, sending a tendril of both flame and chakra to wrap around his hands in an effort to cushion the impact of his chakrams’ handles on his palms. He could hear shouts and exclamations from the attacking ninja, but focused on keeping himself in one place, rather than being dragged up the wall, which he was one nanosecond of a lapse in concentration from doing. Abruptly, the lines went slack. Terra shouted in surprise as he went shooting forward, only to be caught by a large toad. The teen shook his head as he was deposited upon the toad’s head.

“Nice going kid, didn’t think a scrawny guy like you could hold something that size back for that long!” Terra shook his head, looking up to see the white haired man that had been with Naruto.

“W-what?” Terra stared, then looked around frantically, “Where’d the snake go?”

“I got ‘em.” The man said, holding out a hand to help the teen up, “Thanks for holding them still though.” He grinned as Terra still kept a wary eye on both him and the surrounding area, “By the way, I never introduced myself.” He planted his hands on his hips, “I am Jiraiya! The master toad sage and a self proclaimed super pervert!” Terra raised an eyebrow and stared flatly at the Sannin.

“Don’t degrade yourself like that, it’s embarrassing.” He said blithely. Jiraiya smacked the teen upside the head, which just made him sway slightly.

“Don’t backtalk your elders or push your luck kid, you’re still tired from your fight earlier.” Terra rolled his eyes and prepared to leap out and engage a Sand Jonin.

“Let’s see you keep up old man.” Jiraiya grinned at the comment, disregarding the jibe at his age.

“I already took out three snakes.” Terra shook his head.

“It still only counts as one.”

Tenten ducked under a flying kick from a Sound ninja, who received a open-palmed strike to the face. The ninja hit the ground, only to be almost immediately struck in the throat with a senbon.

“Six.” Haku said quietly, then spun, raising his foot to kick an approaching Sand ninja in the stomach and following up with a blistering series of blows, alternating between his fists and feet.

“Seven.” He said once the other ninja was down, before chasing after another.

“Why is he counting?” Neji asked. Tenten shrugged, then recalled something Terra had said at one point.

“Haku and I have contests when we’re fighting large groups of enemies. We use it to keep track of how many we disable or kill in a battle, and to keep ourselves sane.” The black haired teen grinned, “Plus, whoever takes down the fewest has to do all the chores for a week.”

“Terra said something about a contest.” Tenten summarized, smiling to herself when Neji shook his head. That sort of thing was as alien to Neji as it was welcome to Lee. She followed after Haku, who was leaving motionless bodies in his wake as he sprinted through the streets of Konoha. It was amazing that he’d learned about so many back alleys in such a short amount of time. Of course, she was ignorant of Haku’s photographic memory. It had only taken one thorough stroll through town for the ice-user to remember all the back alleys he’d seen.


Terra dashed down an alley, only to skid to a halt and look around. The end of the alley was quite clear to his Sharingan, and it was a dead end. There were no more, conscious, fighters out in the street behind him either. However, the sounds of fighting could still faintly be heard. Not too long ago, two absolutely huge powers had sprung up on the outskirts of Konoha. From the movement of the chakra signatures though, they were duking it out with each other.

“Guess it’s time to take to the roofs.” Terra murmured, coiling his legs to leap. He started to jump, only for a crippling pain to wash over him from the curse mark on his neck. Terra let out a startled, choked groan, falling bodily forward and skidding just a bit from the momentum he’d built from the few inches of air he’d gained. The pain increased, making the teen whimper and curl in further. Some distant part of his brain was telling him that it didn’t hurt that bad and he needed to get up, but Terra’s body wasn’t responding. A cold hand gripped his right hand, the one covering the mark on his neck, and a numbing sensation abruptly washed over Terra’s body. He went limp, unintentionally, and his hand was dropped. A pair of feet came into view, and the teen could just look up into the shadowed face of his assailant.

“So, you’re the hidden Sharingan user that Lord Orochimaru found.” Terra tried to force his mouth open, but the muscles weren’t responding, “Don’t bother. I’ve used a paralysis jutsu on you. It won’t last for long, so I have to make this quick. Got to make sure they’re the real thing…” The silver haired aggressor stooped, his hands glowing green, and Terra’s vision blacked out.

Haku dropped down onto the balcony outside of the apartment he and Terra had procured all that time ago before the exam. Using his key, he unlocked the sliding door and let himself in. After re-securing the door, he turned and about had a heart attack when he saw Terra laying on the floor in the living room area. The older teen was facedown and seeming to be asleep, however, when Haku came over, Terra didn’t stir. Reaching out with his senses, the ice-user could feel something constricting around his friend’s chakra, as well as his very body. With a few hand seals, Haku sent a burst of healing chakra into Terra’s system, jumpstarting its defenses and making the older teen jump and take in a huge breath of air.

“Holy shit I thought you were never going to figure it out!” Terra exclaimed, sitting up and gripping his chest as he panted, “Fucking asshole Sound ninja!” Haku raised an eyebrow as the older teen continued to swear, coming up with a few new combinations that made him laugh, “And he stole my chakras!”

After Terra calmed down, Haku finally got the story of the encounter, what the fire-user could remember that is. After getting Terra to sit down, the ice-user went over him with his healing Ninjutsu, just to be sure there wasn’t any damage. The scan came back with the same results as always for Terra; unusually high body temperature, overly high energy rate per cell, and overly high cell division rate. There weren’t any unusual toxins in the Sharingan user’s bloodstream, and no healing internal injuries.

“Well, at least we don’t have that to deal with.” Haku said as he sat back. Terra nodded as he pulled on his uwagi, leaving it hanging open. Haku watched his friend as he leaned back on his hands, raising his face to the ceiling and sighing. The curse mark Terra had received in the Forest of Death was quite plain on his neck.

“I’ve got to get back into the vigorous training cycle from before we left the Land of Water.” The older teen’s words startled Haku out of his staring. Terra reached up, covering the mark partially with his hand as he closed his eyes.

“Why? We’re stronger than most our age.” Haku asked. Terra let a huff of silent laughter leave him.

“That never stopped us from training before. We used to go all out, just to see how strong we could be.” The pyromancer turned his head slightly in Haku’s direction, but didn’t open his eyes, “Now, we’ve got more to protect. More than Zabuza, more than each other. We have friends, people who are counting on us.” Terra’s hand fell from his neck, going back to supporting his upper body, “That ass of a Sound ninja took me down without ever laying a finger on me. He’s high up in that snake’s organization, high enough to know a jutsu that suppresses those with these curse marks. It’s past time that I paid that fucker back for what he did to me.” Haku nodded, looking out the window.

“I agree. Orochimaru, he’s the one that killed the third Hokage. We won’t be the only ones after his blood. But we might be the fastest, with a little work.” Terra stood, crossing his arms and grinning.

“Right! So, after the funeral?” Haku nodded again and joined his friend, standing up.

“Right, we’ll get right back to training like we never left.”

The sounds of repair echoed around the village, people busy repairing the damage done by the fights with the invasion force. Jutsu were destructive at the best of times, but when aimed to destroy, that's when the potential went up exponentially. A masked Terra dashed over the rooftops, trying to gain on his quarry, not to much avail. He might be getting faster, but the other was too, and had been faster for most of their lives. The pyromancer leapt over a large gap, only to slam into a pane of cold.

“COLD!” Terra shouted as the ice fragmented around him. He couldn’t grab onto anything, his forward momentum had been enough to make him bounce before the pane of ice shattered. The seventeen year old landed in a heap on the ground, groaning as something cracked that wasn’t supposed to. Terra staggered to his feet, glaring at his right forearm, which hung in a odd position. However, in the next second, it snapped back into place.

“Well, that’s unusual.” Out of reflex, Terra activated his Sharingan as he turned, staring at the two chakra figures standing there.

“What’s so unusual?” the pyromancer asked, glaring slightly. There were several seconds of silence, before the shorter of the two figures answered.

“Your healing rate.” He said, dipping his head slightly, “I’ve never even seen a jinchūriki with that kind of healing power.” Terra shook his head, dropping his guard slightly.

“Yeah, well, I’ve never found anyone alive like me…at least in that sense. Everyone keeps comparing me to this rouge ninja from Konoha as of late. I even got jumped by the ANBU Black-Ops during the Chunin exams. It’s about the only reason I’m wearing my mask right now.”

“Terra, who are you talking to?” Haku appeared, standing on the edge of the roof. He’d left his mask behind today, so his Konoha headband was quite obvious.

“These two.” Terra replied, nonplussed as he gestured in the direction of the two figures he’d noticed.

“Are you overusing your Sharingan again?” neither of the teens heard the slight intake of breath from the shorter figure.

“No! I’ll prove it to you.” Terra bowed his head for a moment, then raised it again, “There, I deactivated my Sharingan and there’s still-” Terra had turned to look at his conversation partners, only to see nothing but air.

“I told you, nothing there. Maybe we should get your eyes checked.” Haku said, only half joking. The pyromancer shook his head, then leapt upwards, plowing into his friend.

“Tag! Your it.” He crowed, then disappeared in a burst of chakra enhanced speed. Haku grumbled about elaborate ideas to keep him from getting too much headway before following after. After a moment, the Genjutsu that had been hastily thrown over the area shimmered and died, revealing two men in long black cloaks, patterned with red clouds. The shorter of the two was looking towards the rooftops, staring in the direction the two teenagers had gone. Most of his face and his companion’s were covered in the hanging paper strands that hung from the edge of their straw hats.

“That was close, eh Itachi?” the taller of the two asked.

“That boy…he had the Sharingan.” Itachi murmured, sounding as if he couldn't believe it, “Who is he?”

Haku blinked awake, and after a moment realized that he was staring at the rolling credits of the movie he and Terra had sat down to watch. Glancing at the other end of the couch, the cryomancer could see Terra’s prone form. The older teen was a fairly heavy sleeper, especially if one moved around like they normally would. It was when people tried to sneak up on him in his sleep that Terra would wake up as soon as they got within a certain radius. The pyromancer also had a tendency to sleep in awkward positions. Right now, his head was resting on the arm of the couch he was nearest to, while his left arm was thrown over the back and his left leg was extended towards the middle of the couch, foot hanging off the middle cushion. His right arm was pillowing his head, while his right leg extended towards the small television they’d procured for their apartment. The only reason they’d stopped training today was because they’d both ran out of chakra, and Haku had run out of energy. After they’d gotten back to the apartment, Terra had all but collapsed on the couch. When he was fighting and training, Terra absorbed chakra from the air around him. It was a bit of double edged sword though. On one side, the pyromancer would never have a shortage of chakra in any drawn-out fight, and along those lines, wouldn’t ever have a shortage of energy. On the other side, it was a function that took a lot of energy, and in turn, a lot of chakra to maintain. Even though he was replacing spent chakra as fast or faster than he was spending it, the energy used to complete the process was still spent, giving the impression of a long, long drawn out fight. So as soon as the adrenaline faded, Terra was usually out of commission for several hours. After one particular brawl they’d been entangled in during their training under Zabuza, Terra had been out for five days straight, and could barely move for a week afterwards. Thankfully, he’d learned to ‘turn the conversion on and off’ about a year after they were taken in by Zabuza.

Haku stood and moved over to the door. It was time to do something he’d been meaning to do since they’d come to the Village Hidden in the Leaves. The fifteen year old slid his feet into his boots and grabbed one of the sets of keys hanging from the peg by the door. It was a little past seven in the evening, so it wasn’t a leap of faith to think his target would have already gone to bed, despite his usual temperament. Haku closed the door and locked it behind him before dashing down the hall.

“I think…it’s this way.” Haku murmured, leaping over a balcony and landing on a nearby rooftop. It took another twenty minutes to reach his destination, but finally the cryomancer landed on an open-air balcony that bordered a row of apartments. Double checking the number on the door, Haku knocked sharply. After a few moments, the door opened, and Haku blinked, seeing a dark haired woman with red eyes, so unlike the Sharingan. After his two-second lapse, Haku crouched, condensing the nearby water and air molecules into ice senbon.

“Who are you and why are you in Kakashi’s apartment?” he demanded, despite faintly recognizing the woman from the Chunin exams. The woman blinked, seemingly surprised by his almost immediate reaction, then shook her head.

“I am Kurenai Yuhi, squad leader of Team Eight. I’m here because Kakashi is indisposed at the moment. Another Jonin and myself are tending to him.” Haku relaxed slightly, but didn’t dismiss his senbon.

“What happened?” the cryomancer asked.

“He, myself, and two others got into an altercation with two s-rank missing ninja who had infiltrated Konoha.” Kurenai crossed her arms, “Why do you want to know?”

“I wanted to ask Kakashi something that I’m not sure who else to go to about. I really don’t want to involve Sasuke either.” Haku glanced over his shoulder, “And I’d prefer not to involve Terra until I’ve got all the answers.”

“What did you want to ask?” Kurenai questioned.

“Well, I wanted to know if there’s a way to look into the records and see about looking up Terra’s lineage. He’s dying to do it himself, but can’t. Not to mention we’ve been throwing ourselves into training so much that we haven’t gone a day without him passing out after we get back to the apartment. Also, I wanted to know some things about the Sharingan. Side effects, detrimental effects, what to look for in early signs and if overuse can cause hallucination. I know Sasuke won’t be as big a help, seeing as he recently activated his own Sharingan, while Terra’s are nearly mastered.” Haku explained. Kurenai frowned.

“What’s this about hallucination?” the ice-user sighed, finally dismissing his senbon to rub at his temples.

“We were working on speed and agility training about a week ago. We usually use tag as a catalyst for this, where jutsu and buildings become obstacles. In any case, we were running through town, and I realized I had outstripped Terra. Upon doubling back, I find him talking to thin air. Normally when we’re out, Terra wears his mask, so I have to guess that he was using his Sharingan. I call him out on it, and he deactivates them, but the two ‘people’ he was talking to are ‘gone’.” Haku shrugged, “I’m not sure what to make of it, Terra’s never had something like this happen before.” Kurenai froze, staring at the teen, then glanced around before tilting her head further into the apartment.

“Come inside.” Haku cautiously followed the young Jonin into the apartment and back into what was obviously the bedroom. There was another Jonin, another of the Konoha Jonin from the exam, and Kakashi was there as well, though he was unconscious and laying on the bed.

“Huh? What’s up Kurenai?” the unnamed Jonin asked.

“Asuma,” Kurenai helpfully supplied a name, “I think Terra, the Sharingan user that Kakashi brought back to the village, may have met Itachi when he was coming in.” Haku blinked.

“Itachi? The one that everybody seems to think is Terra?” he asked. Kurenai nodded.

“He was considered a genius, one of the fastest rising ninja of the entire village, not to mention the Uchiha clan. However, that all fell away when he murdered the entire Uchiha clan, leaving only his younger brother, Sasuke, alive. The only reason we know for doing so, was what Itachi told Sasuke upon his departure, which was that is was to test his ability.” Haku stared at the two Jonin. His mind was whirling, trying to put the pieces together, but…things weren’t adding up.

‘‘To test my ability’? That doesn’t sound like a sociopath, even one really off the deep end. It sounds like an excuse. Like…like he was trying to keep Sasuke from following. To keep people from following him in an attempt to ‘save’ him from a third party, imagined or otherwise.’ Haku raised his head.

“Were Itachi and Sasuke close? Before the massacre?” Kurenai and Asuma blinked, then looked at each other.

“Uh, from what I’ve heard, yeah.” Asuma finally responded, “They were five years apart, but still on fairly good terms. Sasuke was only seven when the massacre occurred.” Haku crossed his arms, leaning back against the wall by the door.

‘That settles it. He knew there were two responses for Sasuke to run through. One being disbelief and grief, the other disbelief and following after him to get the truth. Instead of leaving it to chance, Itachi pushed the scales so Sasuke would stay in the village. There’s more factors in this, but I think Itachi was just the tool to implement a plan.’ Haku glanced at the two Jonin who were sharing confused glances with each other, ‘And if Jonin aren’t told about this, coupled with the fact that nobody’s mentioned anything about there being tracker ninja after him, leads me to believe someone in high places has knowledge of this. Best to keep myself out if it for now. But…still…there had to be a reason behind wiping out the Uchiha clan…I don’t think the Land of Fire has the same prejudice against those with Kekkei Genkai as the citizens of the Land of Water do, but it makes the most sense.’

“What is…was…the main asset of the Uchiha clan?” the ice-user asked. The two Jonin stared at Haku in disbelief.

“You don’t know?” Kurenai asked.

“No, I’m just testing your knowledge. Of course I don’t!” Haku frowned heavily, erasing the deadpan expression he’d first leveled at the Jonin, “I come from the Land of Water, and wasn’t exactly at liberty to learn about these kinds of things. Terra and I were fairly indisposed at the time of the massacre, and afterwards, we were on the run with our sensei.” The two older shinobi had the decency to look abashed.

“Well, for the longest time, the Uchiha were Konoha’s police force, and they were very well known for their Kekkei Genkai, the Sharingan.” Haku’s eyes widened at Asuma’s words.

“Wait, the Sharingan is the Kekkei Genkai linked to the Uchiha clan?”

“Yes. I would have thought you’d have known, seeing as you know what it’s called. Your sensei never told you?” Kurenai asked. Haku shook his head.

“He said he would explain to Terra after our fight on the bridge in the Land of Waves…but, that fight didn’t end in our favor.” Asuma glanced a Kurenai, who shrugged. Nether had been given details on the circumstances leading up to Haku and Terra joining the Village Hidden in the Leaves.

“You met Kakashi and his team after that, right?” Asuma asked. Haku stiffened, realizing that the two Jonin didn’t know.

“Ah, not…exactly.” The ice-user glanced at Kakashi, then straightened and turned towards the doorway, “Seeing how I can’t get my answers from Kakashi, I’ll be going. Thank you for the information. You’ve given me a lot to think about.” With the abrupt change in conversation, Haku left, and neither adult could ask anything as he disappeared.

“If Itachi knows about Terra’s Sharingan, he might come after the boy.” Kurenai murmured. Asuma nodded, pulling out a cigarette.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on those two,” the Sarutobi lit the cigarette, pocketing his lighter afterwards, “especially now.”

Terra’s eyes slid open as the door closed, and he glanced over at the door, seeing one of the keys missing. The pyromancer sighed, shifting and stretching out both legs on the now empty couch. Grabbing the remote, he turned off the television. He dropped one arm down to rest behind his head, brining the other forearm to rest over his eyes. Terra smiled as he remembered the conversation he’d had with Tenten the day after the invasion, which was a day before the funeral for all those that died in the ensuing fights, including the Hokage.

Terra raised his left hand in greeting as he approached the training ground that Tenten had asked they meet at, passed through Haku of course because Terra had been immobile until late in the evening on the day of the invasion. The girl in question was leaning against one of the trees on the edge of the clearing. The both of them were wearing casual clothes; a blue, loose t-shirt and dark red pants for Tenten, dark grey hakama and his sleeveless gi, tied shut, for Terra.

“Hiya, sorry I couldn’t come yesterday.” Terra called as he got within about ten feet. Tenten shook her head, pushing away from the tree and turning to face him fully.

“No problem. I figured that everything might take a bit to settle down.” She said. Terra grinned, and Tenten smiled, the older teen’s jovial mood contagious.

“So, you had something you wanted to ask me?” the fire-user prodded. Tenten nodded.

“Yes,” she took a moment to look at Terra with a calculating expression, then, “Haku told me you never learned how to read.” Terra paused, grin fading slightly. He looked down and away, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Ah, so…you probably wanted to ask why I never said anything? It’s, pretty lame…not knowing one of the basic skills of humanity.” The pyromancer pasted on a fake grin, almost Naruto worthy, “I understand if you don’t want to hang out anymore.” He turned, only for Tenten to catch hold of his elbow.

“Silly, I wasn't going to ask that at all.” She said with a gentle smile when he looked over his shoulder, “I was going to ask if you wanted me to teach you.” Terra’s eyes widened, and his mouth opened slightly in shock. He turned back to Tenten, who released his arm and crossed her own.

“So? What do ya say?” she asked. Terra blinked, then a bright grin spread across his face.

“When do we start?” the fire-user replied.

They had spent the rest of that afternoon, as well as times in the following two weeks when Haku was out doing errands and Terra was confined to his bed due to exhaustion, in tutoring sessions. Terra could now read, recognize, and write his own name, as well as Haku’s and Tenten’s. He could remember almost all of the alphabet, which was saying something after Tenten realized that the pyromancer didn’t have the best memory retaining skills in the world, ironic considering his Kekkei Genkai. It didn’t help that Terra’s comprehension was cut in roughly half when he was on bed rest, due to being so exhausted. In addition, Tenten was having a bit of difficulty wrapping her brain around teaching such a rudimentary skill to someone. She’d gone through a week of lessons before realizing that she needed to teach the alphabet before anything else.

“I didn’t think it would be such a massive undertaking. I’m just glad I’ve already learned how to swim.” Terra murmured, face reddening, “That was embarrassing enough as it was.” Traveling with two natives to the Land of Water, where one learns to swim about the same time as they learn to walk, had made it rather awkward when that particular issue had come up.
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