Yay, a story has escaped development hell. Let's check it out...

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto nor any of the ideas that appear in this fic.

Lightning flashed in the sky and brought with it a crash of thunder over Konoha, the village hidden in the leaves. A storm was blowing in. A few paid it no mind, going about their business. A few closed their windows, not wanting to let the rain in their houses. And one boy, a six-sear old with blonde hair and three whisker-like markings on each cheek, clutched ever tighter to the leg of an old man.

Despite the mounds of paperwork the Hokage was forced to root through, Sarutobi couldn't help but spend every moment he could with the boy. He chuckled a bit picking the blonde up and letting him look out the window. "Come now, Naruto. It's just thunder and lightning. It can't hurt you." He vaguely recalled being on the bad end of a few Raiton jutsu in his rather long career, but shook those thoughts from his head, instead going back to comforting the small child.

"But it's still scary," the young child stuttered, prompting another chuckle from Sarutobi as the boy dug his fingers into him. "Why do they have to scare me?" Placing the boy back on the floor, Sarutobi ruffled his hair.

"Everybody is scared of something, Naruto," he said, reassuringly. The young blonde's eyes widened.

"Even you?" he asked, unbelieving.

"Yes, even me," the old man laughed.

"I didn't think you were afraid of anything," Naruto said in awe, and Sarutobi nodded. A knock at the door took their minds off the conversation and the door opened. Naruto's eyes widened and he broke out into a bright smile as he ran and leapt through the air at the newcomer. "ANKO!" he yelled happily, the purple-haired girl smiling back and catching him in the air, twirling him around.

"Hey there, Squirt," she said, placing him down and crouching to meet him eye level. "There's a storm blowing in, and I wanna get you home before the rain hits. You're a handful as it is, I don't need you sick, too."

"But Anko," whined the six-year old. "I don't want to go home. It's dark and cold, and I'm scared." Anko looked confused for a moment before understanding dawned on her.

"Scared of the lightning?" she finished. Naruto nodded.

"Can I come stay with you? Just tonight?" he pleaded. Looking to the Hokage, who nodded his approval, Anko smiled down at the child, mirroring the elder's nod back at him.

"Of course you can, Squirt," she said. "You just go and wait outside for a minute, ok? I have to talk to the old man." Naruto nodded happily, practically skipping out of the office, with Anko closing the door behind him.

"Anko, Naruto is an impressionable child," Sarutobi said, with a puff of his pipe. "I wish you wouldn't refer to me as 'the old man' in front of him." Anko chuckled and rubbed the back of her head.

"Aww, you know I only mean it as a sign of respect," she said, and Sarutobi chuckled with her.

"Yes, I know," he said, before turning serious. "I've reviewed your request."

"And..." replied Anko, turning just as serious, a gleam of hope in her eyes. Sarutobi rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"The council is going to give us both hell for this, you know that?" he asked, and she nodded.

"The shinobi council is mostly sympathetic, and I can handle the civilians." Sarutobi looked at her, seeing the determination in her eyes and the finality in her voice. But he still had to make sure she understood what she was getting into.

"If you do this, you'll need to stay in the village for the most part. No missions out looking for-" The growl was his sign that she already understood. To be fair, it was a sore subject with him as well as with the girl.

"I understand, and I already have a job lined up working in interrogation with Ibiki," Sarutobi nodded. He should have known that when Anko wanted something, she would let nothing get in her way. She had graduated the academy at age ten, made chuunin by twelve, all to impress his own former student, Orochimaru.

"Well then, I'll have the paperwork pushed through by morning. Naruto will officially be under your care as your son," he announced. He was unprepared for the normally strict girl to lunge out and hug him, but even so, he returned the gesture. He knew how much this meant to Anko. When she had returned to Konoha branded with that cursed seal, she had been shunned and scored by the villagers. They accused her of all sorts of things both behind her back and to her face. And she still took it all in, refusing to break. But when she saw Naruto, an innocent child being treated the same way, all because he too had been forced to live his life with a mark of darkness, something in her heart finally gave way.

Since then, she had done everything she could to help Naruto. She'd bring him food when he was hungry, played games with him when he was sad or depressed. She even put in to be his personal guard. The only one who was more sympathetic to Naruto was Itachi Uchiha, who had previously held the position as Naruto's watcher, before he was recruited into ANBU. Had it not been for the Uchiha head's insistence that he join, he was almost sure Itachi would have declined the offer. It hadn't at all surprised him when Anko had put in her request to adopt Naruto the moment she turned eighteen.

He knew of course that he would take a lot of flak for this. The civilians hated Naruto for being what he was, while many members of the shinobi council had actually tried adopting him themselves. Even the normally stoic Hiashi Hyuuga had expressed an interest in taking him in. And all had been turned down, mainly by the Civilian council, who claimed to have jurisdiction in the matter, seeing as Naruto wasn't a ninja. But Sarutobi had other plans, and when Anko expressed her interest in being a mother to the boy, he circumvented the normal adoption procedure and brought the matter straight up to himself.

"I'd better get the little squirt home," Anko said after a moment, wiping her eyes, though she tried to keep Sarutobi from seeing it. "That rain is gonna start soon." Sarutobi nodded and smiled as the purple-haired young lady walked out.

Naruto's eyes widened as he was scooped up from behind, thrown over Anko's shoulders, laughing as the girl bounced him around as they exited the building, the blonde still riding on her shoulders. His laughter stopped however as they walked through the streets and he looked to the others, who shot him dirty looks and turned away.

"Anko?" he asked, and the girl looked up with a raised eyebrow. "Why does everyone hate me? Anko almost tripped up, abruptly stopping. The girl had also seen the dirty looks and turning away. Naruto saw her frown and begin to glare too, but he realized she wasn't directing it at him.

"Don't bother with them, Squirt," she said, beginning to move again. "They're just stupid." Naruto frowned.

"But Ankooooo!" the boy whined. "They always glare at me or ignore me. I wanna know why." Another crack of lightning and thunder caused Naruto to grip her hair tightly.

"Well, Naruto, it's kind of like you and the lightning." Seeing his confused look, she continued. "You don't like the thunder and lightning, do you?" The sour look she got in return was all the answer she needed. "Well, they're like you. They're afraid of you, so they just don't want anything to do with you." Anko sped up when she felt the rain begin to fall on her head, but her eyes softened when she realized it hadn't begun to rain yet. Grabbing the now crying boy and putting him on the ground , she knelt to his level and pulled him in for a hug.

"Oh kiddo, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that," she said, moving back and wiping the tears from his cheeks with thumbs, her hands cupping his face reassuringly. "Someday, you'll understand. I can't really explain it right now. But I promise you, when you're ready, I'll help you figure everything out." Naruto stared at his friend, unsure.

"You're not afraid of me, are you?" he asked. "You won't ever leave me, right?" Anko chuckled, ruffling his hair before hoisting him back up, now in a piggy-back.

"Nah," she said. "I'd be a pretty bad ninja if I was afraid of a little pipsqueak like you." She laughed at the face Naruto made. "Besides, you won't get rid of me that easily. You're stuck with me." Naruto now tilted his head in curiosity, and Anko just turned her head to look at him and smiled. "I was planning to wait til tomorrow for the paperwork to go through, but you seem like you could use some good news. I got it all set up with the old man, and you're gonna start living with me." Naruto's eyes lit up at that.

"You mean I don't have to go back to my apartment?" he asked, hopefully. Though despite the joy he was feeling, he was curious. "Why are you gonna let me live with you?"

"Well, what kind of mom would I be if I didn't let you stay with me?" she asked. She grinned, waiting for the silence to break. Naruto just stared at her in a strange mix of shock and wonder.

"M...Mom?" the boy stuttered out, absolutely flabbergasted. The purple-haired girl smiled brightly, while flashing the peace sign to the small child, whose eyes were welling with tears again. "Yay!" he shouted, wrapping his arms around Anko's neck even tighter. "I've got a mother!" Anko began to turn blue and struggled for air, the blonde strangling her in his joy, surprisingly strong for a six-year old.

"Ack!" she choked. "Naruto...Mommy needs to breathe!"


After giving the younger boy a bath, Anko brought Naruto into her room, seeing as though she had yet to acquire a bed for him. To be honest, she never thought the adoption would ever go through. Picking her son up with a little spin, she threw him through the air, giggling all the way, and onto the bed. She quickly followed suit and jumped in after him, making sure to land just so in order to make the mattress bounce, making Naruto laugh even more. As she pulled the covers over them both, she pulled in the small blonde and snuggled close, hugging him like a teddy bear. As she closed her eyes, trying to get some sleep, the rain tapping rhythmically at the window, she heard her child's voice.

"Anko?...Mom?" he said.

"Hmm?" she asked. "What's up kiddo?"

"You said that the others hate me because they're afraid of me..." he began, not feeling as Anko tensed up. "I'm afraid of the lightning and thunder, but I don't hate it." The purple-haired woman sighed, stroking his blonde hair.

"Fear is a strange thing," she replied. "It can make people do things they would never do normally. It can lead to many things. Anger, hatred, hopelessness, sadness...Even the bravest men can be scared, Naruto, remember that. That's just the nature of fear. It's one thing that nearly every living thing has in common with one another."

"Do you think...fear could be a good thing?" the child asked, and Anko raised an eyebrow at the insightful of the boy.

"I guess sometimes, fear is useful," she said. "Fear can impede our actions, but it can also strengthen them. Make us ready for future danger or tragedy...Why so curious all of a sudden?"

"When I get older, I want to be a ninja, just like you and the old man," he replied, almost excited at the idea. "And if fear is really so powerful...then I want to use it." That actually surprised Anko, but she let him continue. "If people are going to be scared of me, I want to be in control of the fear." Anko smirked., stroking the blonde's hair.

"Well, sounds to me like you're gonna be a real shinobi when you're older," she said.

"Will you help me?" he asked, and she smiled softly.

"You got it, Pipsqueak," she replied, giving him a squeeze.


Over the next six years, training was brutal for Naruto. Anko was highly intelligent and highly skilled, and she easily passed that onto her adopted son. Even with the teachers who hated Naruto in the academy and wanted him to fail (before Anko had set them straight of course), he was doing very well in all areas. Unfortunately, his weakest was his genjutsu, but they were working on it. But besides that, Naruto and Anko had been working on a little something to make up for his lack of genjutsu skills.

Vast studying of the human anatomy and the brain in particular, taught Naruto the biology of fear. What chemicals were secreted by the amygdala, how the body reacted to them, and more importantly, how to control them. Anko's experience with poisons helped immensely, and by the time Naruto was eleven, they had created a formula for a working fear toxin. It worked fantastically on animals, but a human test subject was still needed...and the night Naruto graduated from the academy, with some rather impressive scores aside from his 'adequate' in genjutsu, he got his human subject in the now-former academy teacher, Mizuki.

Mizuki sat alone, strapped to a cold chair in an empty, dark room. After being captured trying to steal the Scroll of Sealing, he had been immediately dragged into the room and strapped down, but not even the by this time famous pair of Anko and Ibiki had come to interrogate him yet. It struck him as odd, but he assumed they were just waiting it out, trying to get under his skin. He took a deep breath to calm himself. He could beat this. At worst, he would be sent to prison. The Hokage was far too soft to have him executed.

As he continued focusing his breathing, the fluorescent light above him began to flicker. He closed his eyes for a moment, the light beginning to give him a headache. When he opened them again, they went wide and he nearly tipped the chair over. Sitting across the table from him was a small figure. He wore simple, yet ragged black clothing. His skin was pale and his sleeveless arms each bore a tattoo. On his right shoulder, the kanji for 'death' and the left shoulder held the kanji for 'power.'

It was his mask that caught Mizuki's attention though. It was no Anbu mask, that was for sure. It looked like it was made from a potato sack. The eyes were shadowed by the roughly cut holes, and the mouth appeared to be sewn shut. "Who the fuck are you?" Mizuki asked, still trying to maintain his calm facade. When the light flickered on again, the figure vanished, seeming as though he never was there in the first place. When the light flickered again, the white-haired man saw, in the split second the light flickered off again, the figure appear and disappear. It was as though whoever this was was invisible in the light. As the flickering got worse, the figure stood, silently, just walking around the restrained ninja. The small figure turned toward the air vent to the room, and this drew Mizuki's gaze as well. It was almost invisible, but he was able to make out a slight haze of some kind, and the traitor was caught off guard.

"Gas?" he thought. "They're drugging me? Is that what this is?"

"No," replied the figure, his shadowed eyes beginning to burn a fierce red. Apparently, Mizuki had actually said that out loud. "They are doing nothing. This is my doing...consider it a science experiment." Moving toward the now struggling traitor, Mizuki watched as he pulled out what looked to be a greatly oversized syringe, filled with a strange, yellow liquid. He grabbed Mizuki's head, forcing it to the side and stabbed the needle directly into the Jugular vein.

"We'll see the results very soon." The mask seemed to contort into a twisted grin, the wearer's whole body beginning to contort and grow. Mizuki suddenly felt very small compared to everything else, as flames began to spew from the eyes and mouth of the figure before him. "What's the matter, Mizuki-sensei...afraid?"

Sensei? A feeling of dread indeed set over Mizuki, as the mask begin to twist and morph into a more vulpine appearance. His body began to sweat and tremble as the room began to collapse around them, Naruto's skin beginning to stretch and rip off, revealing fur of blood red beneath.

Outside the interrogation room, Anko and Ibiki watched on the hidden camera as Mizuki began to shake and scream. Naruto wasn't doing anything other than standing there and talking to the traitor. Whatever Mizuki was seeing, he was spilling his guts. And his bladder...when he began to speak of Orochimaru, Naruto looked up to the camera.

"You guys get that?" he asked, and before Ibiki could respond, Anko snatched the microphone for the intercom.

"Every word," she growled ferally. This was her first lead on Orochimaru in years, and Mizuki would definitely get grilled for more later. "You did great, Squirt." Removing his mask, Naruto grinned at the camera. "But I think you need a better costume...I got a few ideas..."

Chapter end.

So, this one has been in development hell for quite some time. Based it on my original challenge, actually. Just decided to make Naruto a genin instead.

I'm planning on doing a new chapter of Fox in Equestria: Revamped in the next week or two.

Peace to all my Fans

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