Authors Notes: Is it safe to come out yet? Because I am running out of food and water in my nuclear fallout bunker….

First and foremost, I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas, and New Years and the first half of 2022 as well! I know I said I would try to get this updated before the end of 2021, and believe me I did, though the last few weeks of December where chaotic as hell. And down here where I live, they also have a holiday on January 6th called King's Day which is like a second Christmas. And to top it all off, my wife went in for Lasik Surgery, so I was stressing out over that as well. And as of late, we have been looking into this property to potentially rent out to vacationers. But, between all of that, I've been attempted to stitch together small snippets of this chapter together, and here it is!

Lastly there was my most recent health scare that happened not too long ago, that had me so stressed out that I stopped eating for a few days and even started throwing up blood, fun times. Gotta say, 2022 is shaping up to be far worse (on a personal level) then 2020 ever hoped to be.

Alright, suppose I should address the massive amount of confusion from the previous two chapters, which I blame on my own writing for not being able to convey it clearly enough. So for that, I apologize.

Firstly, the part with Naruto and Karin are happening at the same exact time Sakura is fighting against the snake summon and eventually when she squares off against Orochimaru. Now, the reason why Naruto didn't rush back is because there was no urgency to get back. Mainly because as seen, Sakura was more then capable enough of taking on the giant snake, and when she fought Orochimaru, she sent her Dark Clone to do it, since it wouldn't dispel unless it was struck with a fatal blow while at the same time being equal in strength to the original. Therefore, she wasn't in any danger.

Which is why the two of them could joke about Naruto taking the time to ensure Karin got to the compound safely and hunt down a few extra scrolls. Also, this is Karin Uzumaki, not some random girl. One of the few surviving members of his nearly extinct clan.

Now, the Kyubi sized elephant in the room. The part with Anko.

Again, like with Sakura, the battle between Anko and Orochimaru is happening at the exact same time as when Naruto returns to Sakura, and it really doesn't click with Naruto why Anko is feeling upset and angry until Sakura informs him that Orochimaru is in the forest, and it is in that exact moment when Naruto feels anxious that Anko gets stabbed. So yes, Naruto was still able to get there instantly and catch Anko as she fell. He is omnipotent, not omnipresent, and despite growing with them, he is still learning how to fully utilize his hanyou senses and abilities.

I did this for two reasons.

One, as mentioned above, Naruto is over powered, even with his current powers and skills and they are only going to get stronger and more powerful as the story progresses. So, I needed something to show that he can be vulnerable and he can be hurt. And what better way for a hero to be made vulnerable is to have someone they hold dear get severely hurt and teetering at deaths door? Also drives it home since Naruto had just proposed to her officially not too long before this.

Secondly, shock value. It is well known that Anko is my favorite female cast member of the Naruto-verse, so I am willing to bet at least a few of you were not expecting me to do something like this to her. Especially if the playful (at least I am hoping they are playful) threats I have received were anything to go by.

So, I hope that clears up any confusion.


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Review Corner

Shirkahn – That is some mighty praise to put this story on par with someone like VFSNAKE, as such, I am deeply honored you rank me so highly. As for Pedo-maru, I have plans for him, though regrettably, he will not meet his end until much later.

NoroiUchiha – Glad I could convert you, welcome aboard the Pariah Ship!

Solice of Steel – I am happy that you have enjoyed it thus far, and I can only hope I can continue to meet your expectations going forward!

Romance Breeding – Well, if she lives or not will be seen in this chapter….please don't kill me!

As for Fu, no, she won't be in the exams. Naruto and Fu will not meet until our favorite blonde departs on his three year trip out of the village. Now, as for Fem!Kakuzu, honestly I wasn't considering it, but you do argue a good point. So, I shall take it under consideration. Though that would give Naruto three Akatsuki members, since Konan is also in the harem.

TheLostSoul2112 – I do apologize for the cruel cliff hanger I left everyone on, especially with how long it took me to come back to this story.

Ino will get her fair share, though she doesn't so much as need a redemption arc like Sakura did, since I had already established that Sakura was the worse fangirl of the two. To me, Ino always felt to be the more sensible of the two fan girls.

At any rate, I do have something special planned for our little mind walker.


In a relationship - Anko*, Ayame*, Fem!Haku*, Fem!Kyuubi*, Fubuki*, Hana*, Hanabi, Hinata*, Izumi*, Koyuki*, Mei, Sakura*, Tsunami*, Yakumo*, Yugao*

Coming Soon - Ameyuri, Fem!Hidan, Fem!Jashin, Fu, Fuka, Hokuto, Ino, Isaribi, Kaguya, Karin, Karui, Kin, Konan, Kurenai, Kurotsuchi, Kushina, Mikoto, Pakura, Rin, Ryuzetsu, Samui, Shion, Shizuka Shizune, Tayuya, Tenten, Temari, Tsume, Tsunade, and Yugito

Those with * next to their names have accepted to bear Naruto's mark.


Heroes of Legend – by Fanreader26: A truly unique take on a Naruto/Zelda cross over which flawlessly merges both worlds into one grand world. Follow Naruto and his friends as they embark on an epic journey across this newly imagined world! Swing by, give it a read, and give the author your support! Tell him Midnight sent ya!

Naruto Unleashed – by Fanreader26: Another one from this talented author. A chance encounter opens an entire new galaxy for Naruto. Join him as he travels far beyond the Elemental Nations than he had ever thought possible. With new friends, new allies, and new enemies.

Darkness Falls

Chapter 35

"Why? Why did he do it?" A young purple haired girl sobbed as she rocked back and forth on the balls of her bare feet, holding her knees to her chest within the cramped cage she had been left in by the man she had trusted. Tears falling freely from her eyes as sobs wracked her small eight year old frame. A curse mark, fresh on the base of her neck.

Two years ago, her sensei, a man she considered her mentor and idol, had abruptly arrived at her apartment in the middle of the night with an urgent mission that required them to leave the village immediately for an extended period of time. With literally just the cloths on her back, not even allowing her time to leave a note for her friends of where she had gone.

For the next year and a half, things had progressed as normal. The duo would travel around the Elemental Nations, partaking in various missions and requests from the places they had visited, all the while Orochimaru instructed her in his arts. Allowing her to sign his Snake Summoning contract, which had excited the young girl to no end when she had summoned her first snake.

Along the way, the duo picked up other outcasts that had been shunned by their home village, and even in some extreme cases, by their own families. Either due to abnormalities, deformities, lack of a clan bloodline, or strictly being neglected by their own family in favor of a more prodigal sibling. But each containing hidden potential that was over looked by those around them, potential that Orochimaru had saw. All ranging between ten years old to seventeen, making the Snake apprentice the youngest of the motley group.

As they traveled together, the group of misfits would train together, and during their down times when Orochimaru would disappear to take care of various things, they would talk, joke, and spar with one another. Almost as if they were a large family of misfits. The unwanted that everyone had cast aside. However, it was not to be.

Six months ago, Orochimaru had decided to have them settle for awhile in Umi no Kuni. At first, everything was normal for the group. Orochimaru would instruct them as a whole, and work on each of their strengths, whilst shoring up their short comings. Until about three months ago. It started out slowly, but one by one they could go missing in the middle of the night. When Anko would question her sensei, he would simply smile and give a short answer that they had merely grown restless and had decided to move on by themselves.

It was only a month later that young Anko had learned the horrible truth, when her sensei had forced her to observe his experimentation on one of the outcasts that had traveled with them. A young boy, only two years older then herself was strapped to a surgical table, writhing in agony from the experimental curse mark that Orochimaru had just placed upon the boy. All the while, the Snake Sannin had barked orders in an uncaring manner at his apprentice to take notes of how the mark was affecting it's victim.

It only got worse after that, as Orochimaru would force his young apprentice to watch him mark his next victim, all the while they would be looking at her with pleading eyes to save them, though she was powerless to do so. In the end, it was the same result each time. After hours of unimaginable agonizing pain, the curse mark victim would die, until finally, it was her turn.

The man that had been her sensei, her mentor, even her father figure had turned on her. Marking her with his latest attempt at perfecting his curse seal, bringing her untold agony as she writhed around on the floor as pain flooded her system. All the while, Orochimaru would observe the results with cold, uncaring eyes until she passed out from the pain. When she had awoken, she was locked inside a steel cage, like some animal, with Orochimaru no where in sight.

Out of ten 'test subjects', she was the only one to survive and bare the mark that would carry the weight of the twisted Sannin's sins.

"I got one." A voice echoed through the building, prompting the purple haired girl to look up and scurry to the back of the cage in fear as she was greeted by the sight of a porcelain mask of a Konoha ANBU. Quickly, four other ANBU appeared. Each with varying animal masks to signify their code names.

"Well, if it isn't the bastards little snake bitch." One of the ANBU growled as he glowered at the young girl. "Should just take care of you here, and leave your corpse to rot as payment for the inhumane shit that bastard of a sensei of yours did to my brother."

While the masked ANBU said this, he produced a kunai for his pouch, holding it in a reverse grip position as he stalked closer to the caged girl.

"Stand down, Usagi." A commanding voice barked as another ANBU entered Anko's line of sight, the squad leader by the looks of it, as made evident as the Usagi masked ANBU stiffened at the mans voice and had immediately backed away from the cage. "Our orders are to secure any and all evidence against Orochimaru for his treasonous actions."

"With all due respect, Captain Ryu." The Usagi masked ANBU began, looking to his commanding officer. "This bitch here is that bastards apprentice, which makes her…."

"A witness." The Ryu masked ANBU interrupted. "Old man Gouken will determine if she is an accomplice or a victim. Now, secure the area."

Usagi stood there for a handful of seconds, silently glaring at the purple haired girl in the cage before stiffly turning his back to her and walking off to carry out the orders he had been given by his commanding officer.

"Neko!" Ryu called out, prompting a short ANBU with a cat mask to come forth, looking to be only a two years older then Anko herself with shoulder length purple hair.

"Hai, captain!" The Neko masked ANBU replied, awaiting her orders.

"I am placing Anko-san in your care. See to it that she is fit to travel." The man instructed the young ANBU. "We leave for Konoha at first light tomorrow morning."

"Hai!" Neko replied, confirming her orders before moving to the cage to carry them out. Working quickly to pick the lock that had been placed there by the snake bastard when he had abandoned the girl to her fate, feeling she had served her usefulness.

Naturally, this caused a terrified Anko to scurry back further into the cage, colliding with the far wall.

"Relax, Anko-san." Neko spoke softly, as she opened the cage door, kneeling down at the exit. "I am not going to hurt you."

To emphasis her statement, the young ANBU held out her hand towards the frightened girl in a kind and friendly gesture. A handful of seconds passed between the two, as the young girl eyed the ANBU's hand apprehensively. Nearly a full two minutes had passed between the two, with the traumatized girl only staring at the offered hand of the young ANBU, prompting Neko to frown slightly. It was clear the young purplette was traumatized and apprehensive of new people, no doubt due to being betrayed by the one person she had put all of her trust into. Not to mention, Usagi's aggressive behavior and hate filled words didn't exactly help ease the girls mindset any.

Taking a moment to look around, she ensured that none of the other ANBU members were looking her way, before she brought her hand up to her mask, and slid it aside, giving young Anko a clear view of her face as she offered a kind smile, once more, Neko held out her hand in a friendly manner. After all, a friendly face is more inviting then an emotionless mask.

Seconds passed, as the traumatized girl looked between the now unmasked ANBU and her offered hand. Tentatively the purple haired child reached out and accepted the young ANBU's hand, allowing herself to be pulled into a comforting hug.

"It's alright," Yugao whispered into the little girls ear, allowing her to finally break down and clasp on to the young ANBU with all her might as Anko sobbed into the crook of her neck. The two stayed like this for a handful more seconds before Yugao replaced her mask and gently lead Anko out of the room, all the while ignoring the glare Usagi was sending the duo's way.

As soon as the two younger women had left the room, Usagi had quickly made his way over towards the ANBU Commander, whom was located at the other end of the room, rummaging through various papers and scrolls the traitorous snake had left behind in his haste to vacate the country.

"You know she revealed her face to that….thing." Usagi hissed out, in a jealous bid to make the young Neko ANBU appear to be incompetent and unfit to watch over the traitorous bitch. Perhaps even leaving the traumatized girl even more vulnerable. If he couldn't get at the snake bastard that rendered his brother a vegetable, he could at least make his little bitch pay in his place.

"The girl needed to see a friendly face." The ANBU Commander replied evenly, casting his eyes towards the rabbit masked ANBU before him. The man wasn't stupid, nor was he blind to what the ANBU before him was attempting to do.

"With all due respect, commander." Usagi growled behind his mask. "That bitch should be dragged back to Konoha in chains and publicly executed, not be coddled but some snot nosed girl that doesn't even deserve her mask."

"Neko has earned her mask, just as every other ANBU has." Ryu stated, narrowing his eyes at the ANBU before him. "As for the girl, you are to stay clear of Neko and her charge. You are letting your emotions dictate your actions, not facts or evidence, which is very unbecoming of an ANBU. Am I understood?"

Usagi merely glared back at the ANBU Commander, grinding his teeth behind his mask in frustration before nodding in acknowledgment.

"Be warned Usagi," The commander continued. "Should you disobey my orders, I will personally see to it that you are stripped of your rank, and have your chakra sealed for insubordination, are we clear?"

Giving one last nod, albeit a little slower, the Usagi masked ANBU left to carry out his duties. The very clear threat echoing in his mind.

Konoha, Three Days Later

A burly elderly man flipped through the file he had just received about the purple haired girl that sat across the table from him, her knees held closely to her chest as her eyes, seemingly dead inside with no light, stared at the cold concrete floor. Reaching up, he stroked his long white beard as he read over the file, a scowl etched across his aging face. His dark brown eyes casually flickering between the document and the girl. This was Gouken Salto, otherwise known as the 'Mind Flayer', due to the elder man's reputation of being able to see through the lies, or if someone was hiding something with a mere glance. With a soft grunt, he continued to read her file.

Name - Anko Mitarashi

Age – 8

Height – 124cm

Weight – 17.2kg

Blood Type - A

Affiliation – Konohagakure no Sato

Shinobi Registration Number - 011226

Rank/Status – Genin Kunoichi, Former Apprentice of Orochimaru of the Sannin

Description – When brought in for examination, Anko Mitarashi was severely malnourished. Her body also showed signs of constant experimentation performed on her, without her consent. Due to the indication of abrasions along her wrist, neck, and ankles. Indicating that she had been secured and struggled against her bindings while these experiments were carried out.

No evidence of sexual related abuse found.

From Inoichi's mental evaluation, Mitarashi has become mentally withdrawn and will shy away from anyone's touch, with the exception of ANBU Neko, whom was tasked to look after Mitarashi after she had been discovered locked in a cage in Umi no Kuni. Currently, Neko seems to be the only individual that Mitarashi will willingly allow to engage in physical contact with.

Currently, it is unknown just how deep Mitarashi's mental scars are.

After a thorough medical and mental evaluation, coupled with the evidence retrieved from the abandoned base in Umi no Kuni, it is my belief that Anko Mitarashi is innocent of all wrong doings and is another unfortunate victim of Orochimaru's manipulation and betrayal.

Signed, ANBU Commander Ryu

"Anko Mitarashi." The deep voice of the large elderly man boomed, prompting the girl to stiffen before she cast her eyes upwards to bald man. "I have just read the report delivered by ANBU Commander Ryu."

He paused, allowing for the tension to build, seeing if she would crack under the pressure and reveal something that the ANBU teams had over looked. While cruel to do this to a child who had already suffered so much, as head of the Torture and Interrogation division of Konoha, Gouken had to ensure that no stone was left un-turned. His eyes softened slightly as he saw her demeanor remain unchanged, indicating that she had nothing to hide. Though he surmised that she was no doubt afraid of being found guilty of crimes that were not her own

"After reviewing your evaluation, combined with the evidence discovered in Umi no Kuni, Commander Ryu has determined that you were an unfortunate victim to Orochimaru's machinations." Gouken stated, letting the folder fall to the table. "And I am inclined to agree with his report."

Hearing this, young Anko couldn't help but look up at the man in pure shock. With the way the ANBU known as Usagi had looked at her, and the words he said, coupled with the glares and comments made by random civilians they had passed when they had returned to Konoha, she had all but resigned herself to pay for the sins that the bastard had committed.

"However, I will not lie to you." The elder man sighed, bringing his large hand up to rub his bald head. "Despite being innocent, there are still those that will disregard that verdict and still blame you for what he did."

Anko frowned at this, but nodded in acknowledgment. She had already seen the glares and heard the whispering from not only the civilians they had passed, but also a handful of shinobi as well.

"Which is why ANBU Neko has offered to allow you to move into her apartment." Gouken smiled. "Both for your own protection, and to allow you time to re-acclimate yourself."

As if on cue, the door to the interrogation room opened, revealing the young cat masked ANBU member that was just mentioned mere seconds ago.

"Right on time, Neko." Gouken stated as he stood to his full height, towered over the two girls. "Anko-san, you are free to go. Neko, you are allowed to use any means you deem necessary to keep both Anko-san and yourself safe."

"Understood, Gouken-sama." Neko bowed before turning back towards the young purple haired kunoichi. Silently, she extended a friendly hand towards her newfound friend.

As the two departed, the elderly man couldn't help but frown. Knowing full well that despite being found innocent, the poor girl would still have to bear the burden of her now former sensei's sins. Letting out a sigh, the man turned around and re-entered the interrogation room. Waiting for his next victim.

Anko, Age -12

It had been four years since Anko was brought back to Konoha after her bastard of a sensei's betrayal. True to Gouken's word, many of the villagers, both civilian and shinobi alike, blamed her for Orochimaru's actions. More then a few had been stupid enough to attempt their own perverted sense of 'justice' when they attempted to break into Neko's apartment to make the 'Traitor's Bitch' pay for her crimes against them, only to be met the edge of Neko's blade.

Six months after returning to the village, Hiruzen had placed her in a genin team that comprised of Kurenai Yuhi, an up and coming genjutsu prodigy and Hana Inuzuka the eldest child of Tsume and next in line to be the Inuzuka clan head after her mother. At first, Anko had been apprehensive of being placed on a team, fear evident in her eyes despite how hard she tried to hide it behind her developing mask of being flirty and boastful. Fear that her new team mates would look at her and treat her the same as the rest of the village had done so far.

However, her outlook had shifted when she saw who the Jonin Sensei was for this all kunoichi team. Yugao Uzuki, otherwise known to Anko as ANBU Neko, had temporarily resigned from her ANBU position to train this all kunoichi team. Partially to ease Anko back into the active roster of the Shinobi forces, and partially to help her younger sister like figure to gain new friendships.

Another reason of course, was the primary cause as to why this particular team was lacking a third member and a Jonin Sensei to begin with. It seemed that the sole male genin of the team had been extremely possessive over both kunoichi and had all but claimed that they were both his and that they had no say in the matter. Which was further compounded by the fact that the disgraced former Jonin Sensei over the team had encouraged the boys behavior. This of course had earned both males a savage beat down at the hands of an enraged Tsume Inuzuka, leaving both a bloody mess and barely alive. Currently, both were in intensive care due to the severity of their injuries with a prison cell awaiting their recovery.

Fortunately, with a little pushing from Yugao, the four kunoichi bonded quickly and formed a near sister like connection to one another. Something the budding Snake Mistress needed, desperately. As the team bonded and performed missions together, their reputation of being efficient and deadly team grew with various shinobi and kunoichi from other villages calling them 'Shi no Tenshi', The Angels of Death.

The girls had also gained a second nick name within Konoha itself, the Four Ice Queens. Due to the girls reputation of turning down practically any male, and sometimes even females, that approached them. Sometimes in brutal fashion, for those that didn't take 'no' as an answer. Though of the four, Anko had it the worst, as many had approached her under the assumption that she would be so desperate for acceptance that she would easily climb into bed with them.

Of course when she rejected them, often times in brutal fashion, they would hurl insults at her. Bitch, whore, slut, snake whore and more. All to further sully her already stained reputation. While she never showed it, hiding behind her emotional mask, their insults stung. However with the help of her sister-like figures, she pushed through it.

Another positive event that had happened over the past four years was when Anko was informed via a purple and red snake summon, that Manda and those aligned with him and Orochimaru, had been exiled from the Snake Clan. Making Anko the sole 'true' snake summoner. Something the snake mistress took great pleasure in, knowing that it had to sting both Manda's and Orochimaru's pride to be cast out like that. Forcing them to create a weaker summoning contract, which also cut off the disgraced snake sannin of learning the Snake Sage Mode.

Today however was a bittersweet day for the budding Snake Mistress of Konoha. Not even twenty four hours ago, her team had dominated the Chunin Exams, earning all three members their promotion to the rank of Chunin. Of course, there had been some push back from the Elder's and Civilian council about Anko's promotion, citing some bullshit that it was too early and that she could still be a spy for Orochimaru, but Hiruzen had stood firm and granted her promotion.

While she was happy that she had finally earned some recognition within the village, aside from being the former apprentice of a traitor, it also meant the end of her team. Yugao would be returning to ANBU, having been offered the position of ANBU Commander due to her impressive record and leadership skills. Kurenai had aspirations of becoming a Jonin Sensei for a team and pass on her knowledge of Genjutsu. Hana was content with her current rank, and simply wanted to run the Veterinary Clinic for her clan. While Anko herself was offered an apprenticeship under Ibiki Morino, the newly appointed head of the Torture and Interrogation Division.

So, with a promise to always be there for one another, each went their separate ways.

Anko, Age – 14

A grinning Anko casually made her way down the road as the sun began to dip below the horizon, casting the village in a fiery orange light as she munched on what was left of her dango stick. The reason she was grinning was simply due to the fact that not only had she just broken Ibiki's record in getting someone to crack, but she had also been given a field promotion to Tokubetsu Jonin.

Stopping for a moment, she looked down at her current attire and frowned slightly. In the past six years since she had been brought back to Konoha, she hadn't done anything to change her look. She still wore her hair up in her typical pineapple pony tail, and still wore the same burgundy tee shirt and khaki shorts. While her hair style suited her, since she honestly couldn't imagine her wearing it in any other style, her outfit had to go. She needed something that screamed sexy and dangerous. A trench coat like Ibiki wore would give her an intimidating appearance, as well as a means to hide various weapons and other means of attack. Perhaps a full body chain mesh to give her that sexy appeal.

However, her musing of what her future outfit would consist of was cut short as a commotion off to the left over her caught her attention. Looking over, she saw what appeared to be an eight year old blonde boy running from a mob of drunks, and from the looks of it, some shinobi as well. Scowling at the sight, Anko jumped to the roofs and gave chase.

As she pursued the mob, she watched as one of the mob members pulled ahead of the group, clearly a shinobi of Chunin rank at least. Cursing as she saw the blonde kid turn down an alleyway she knew was a dead end.

"You're pretty fast for a demon brat." She over heard the Chunin say as she came to a stop at the edge of the building over looking the alleyway.

"Yeah well, when you have morons constantly trying to kill you, you learn to move fast." Was the blonde's response, prompting the snake mistress to crack a grin at the kids attitude.

By now, the rest of the mob had caught up with the duo. All showing to be breathing heavily, clearly unhappy about the impromptu cardio exercise that was forced upon them.

"Well, you won't have to worry about that any more." The Chunin stated, producing a kunai from his pouch and twirling it between his fingers, hoping to intimidate the eight year old. "Because you won't survive after tonight."

Silently, Anko summoned a single snake and wordlessly ordered it to slither down the drainage pipe to her right as she took out her own kunai. Her eyes narrowing at the Chunin, watching as the mans muscles tensed, indicating he was about to throw his weapon. It had happened in the blink of an eye, the Chunin had launched his kunai towards the blonde kid and Anko had let her own fly instantly, knocking the first out of the air.

Knowing she had revealed herself, the snake mistress jumped down from the roof and landed in between the mob of villagers and the kid.

"You lot are pretty brave when teaming up against a kid." Anko commented in a condescending tone, twirling a kunai in her fingers as her eyes flickered over the mob gathered in front of her.

"No surprise the snake whore would defend the demon brat." The Chunin spat as he glared at the fourteen year old kunoichi in front of him.

Hearing the standard insult hurled at her, Anko's expression morphed into a scowl before turning into a sinister grin as she saw the snake she had summoned earlier had reached it's destination. Twitching her finger ever so slightly, she commanded the snake to attack.

Without warning, the snake struck, sinking it's fangs deep into the Chunin's calf. Injecting a lethal amount of venom as it did so. Screaming out in pain, the man kicked the snake away before turning back to the woman before him. In a last ditch effort in killing not only the disgraced snake whore, but the demon brat as well, he launched one final kunai with an explosive tag attached to it.

Seeing the explosive tag burning, Anko cursed loudly and turned, lunging towards the blonde haired boy, covering him just as the explosion went of, sending massive amounts of shrapnel and other debris all over the alleyway. Grunting as she felt multiple impacts along her back, followed by a cold feeling, indicating that she had be critically injured by the shrapnel. Groaning slightly, she willed herself up, only to look up just as the wall they were next to fall over, burying the two of them under it. And the, blackness.

An unknown amount of time had passed before she slowly returned to the world of consciousness, warmth returning to her body. Slowly, she tried to push herself up off the ground, prompting her newly acquired companion to scurry over to her side, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"Are you okay?" The blonde asked with genuine concern.

"The hell happened?" She asked, trying to shake off the disorientating feeling in her head.

"You saved me from the mob that was trying to kill me." He answered. "Why did you risk yourself to save me?"

"Because you needed help." She shrugged. In truth, she was well aware of who or rather, what the boy was. It was rather hard not to with how the civilians and even some of the shinobi would talk about the boy. Though she never did learn his name. It was either 'Demon Brat' or 'Fox Brat', or sometimes just plain old 'Demon'. Seriously the villagers here really needed to expand their vocabulary when it came to insults and names.

However, she noticed one crucial fact that was starting to eat away at the back of her mind. She remembered the kunai being thrown, the explosive tag going off, and her jumping to cover the boy, the impacts on her back and then, blackness. Even if her injuries were superficial, she should be feeling some sort of soreness. Instead, she felt perfectly fine. Even better then fine. She also noticed that she seemed a bit more sensitive to her surroundings.

"What happened to me?" She asked, looking in the direction the boys voice had come from, due to the fading light obscuring her vision. Only barely able to make out his silhouette as the scattered moonlight filtered through the cracks in the rubble, before disappearing again behind a cloud.

"You were badly hurt." The blonde sighed heavily. "In order to save you, I had to do something, and I hope you won't be too upset."

Anko frowned at this, she could hear the remorse in his voice. Whatever he had to do, he felt guilty about it.

"Your injuries were life threatening." He continued, no doubt taking her lack of response as a sign to continue. "In order to save your life, I had to mark you."

"Mark me?" She nearly growled out.

"Yes." The boy sighed, swallowing thickly. "Truth is, the villagers are right, I am a demon. Or at least a half demon, thanks to their attack on me two years ago. So in order to save your life, I had to mark you as a mate."

Anko couldn't believe what she was hearing. She had a mark on her. Another damn mark, and this time given to her by a kid no less.

"Sorry, potential mate. This stuff is still pretty new to me." He quickly spoke with a nervous chuckle. Prompting the snake mistress to narrow her eyes slightly, since it seemed like someone was talking to the kid that only he could hear.

"Great." She sighed, leaning back slightly in reluctant acceptance. "Another mark. I may as well just start collecting them since I seem to attract them."

"You only have one." The blonde informed her.

"What do you mean only one?" She questioned, looking in his direction once more. "I got marked by that snake bastard six years ago!"

"My mark over powered his and destroyed it." He explained as the moon shown through the cracks once more, completely illuminating the area.

For her part, she was taken back by how handsome the boy looked, despite being a good six years younger then her. His blue eyes seemed to glow in the darkness, giving off a sense of intimidation as well as a sense of comfort at the same time. Even more so, she was shocked that she had finally been freed from the snake bastard by this boy. Slowly reaching up, she trailed her fingers across where the curse mark once was, only to find nothing. No lumps, scarring or anything to show that it was there.

She did however, feel a slight rise in her skin where her new mark was. Though she couldn't quite make out the design as she traced her fingers around it, making a mental note to take a look at it in a mirror as soon as she could.

"Don't worry, it should disappear in a week or so." The blonde hanyou continued. "The only way it would stay is if you were to mark me to accept it and this, agreeing to be my mate for life."

"And just how would I mark you?" She inquired with a slight grin as the clouds covered the moon once more, delving the two into darkness once more.

Having had a chance to get a good look at him up close, she could see that he was rather cute and that he would turn out to be handsome as he grew more. Not to mention, while in an unorthodox way, he had freed her from the last hold Orochimaru had on her. But above all, his primary concern was to save her life. Perhaps he was the one.

"Same way I marked you." He replied with a small shrug, unaware of the snake mistresses thoughts. "You would have to bite my shoulder and inject your chakra into me so that they mix and form a bond. However doing this will also change you into a hanyou as well."

Without giving the blonde time to react, Anko moved forward and grabbed the young boy. Sinking her teeth into his left shoulder, drawing blood. Channeling her chakra through her teeth and pushing it into his body. Grunting as she felt him clamp down on her own neck before feeling the foreign chakra enter her body, bring forth a sense of euphoria.

Once she was done, Anko sat back and wiped the blood from the corner of her lips. Giving it a timid lick from her fingers and noted how sweet it tasted. However, as she did so, she forgot one crucial detail about what she had just done.

"So um, what's your name?" She asked, embarrassed.

"Shouldn't we have established that before we mated for life." Her now mate quirked a brow, followed by a small chuckle. "Anyways, I am Naruto, Naruto Uzumaki, resident demon brat."

"The sexy and no longer single, Anko Mitarashi." Anko introduced herself, feeling a sense of contentment and warmth simply by near him.

"Nice to meet you." He smiled.

A smile she would come to cherish in the years to come.

The Void

Anko let out a gasp of air, as she shot up in a sitting position, breathing heavily as she eagerly sucked in as much oxygen as she could into her lungs. Bringing her hands up, and covering her sweaty face, rubbing along her hair line before letting her hands drop to her chest area, patting herself down. She was able to find the hole in her mesh coverings from the bastards sword, but couldn't find the wound it had inflicted.

"How?" she whispered as she continued to assess her body for any injuries she knew she had sustained in her fight against her former sensei. Only to come up empty handed. It was then she noticed she was no longer in the Forest of Death, but rather a bizarre place she couldn't recognize.

Instead of massive trees, she was met with a skyline of floating islands of various sizes drifted in front of her. Some of the larger chunks having the remnants of what appeared to be buildings on them, falling apart. The closer she looked at the various destroyed or simply unfinished buildings, the more she realized they looked like they were part of Konoha. If the village was suddenly destroyed and then frozen in time, floating endlessly in whatever abyss she was now located in.

"Where the fuck am I?" The snake mistress inquired out loud.

"You are in The Void." Came a regal, feminine voice from behind her, prompting Anko to spin around, her eyes widening as she identified who the voice belonged to.

"Jashin-sama…." The snake mistress voiced as she peered at the back of the crouched form of the goddess of blood and carnage that she worshiped. Her beautiful silver hair cascading down her back. "….what are…."

The words died in her mouth as her eyes landed on the prone figure that Jashin was kneeling next to. His long flowing coat, that held a unique sheen to it, splayed out on the ground. His face, that she adored staring at, covered in sweat and deathly pale. His trembling lips a horrible shade of blue. His hands clutched together tightly above his chest, shivering violently, as if he were trying to wrestle some invisible beast.

"No…." She breathed out, quickly scurrying over to the other side of her fallen lover and mate, directly across from where Jashin currently was. "No no no no…."

"He took the poison into himself." Jashin informed the snake mistress, her tone betraying nothing. "To save you."

Tentatively, she reached up and caressed his cheek, noting how cold it felt to her skin. However, as she did so, she came to a crushing realization that pained her very soul. This was her fault. If she hadn't foolishly tried to fight Orochimaru on her own, then he wouldn't be in the condition he was in currently. No doubt, he would already be at the center tower with his team and Sakura-chan.

"You're alright, I'm glad." A weak voice croaked, prompting the snake mistress to cast her eyes on her mates face. Tears forming in her eyes as she gazed into his frail blue eyes. She didn't want to see him like this. Knowing that it was her fault.

"Don't cry, Hebi-hime." Naruto weakly smiled, struggling to bring his hand up to wipe her tears away.

"It's my fault." She sniffled, closing her eyes as she held his hand close to her face.

"No, Anko-chan." He shook his head, gently pulling his hand away to let it rest on his chest. "I should have pushed harder for you to train in your hanyou abilities. If I had, you would have easily humiliated that bastard."

"Shh, you need to rest, Naruto-kun." Jashin smiled as she placed a slender finger over his lips, before weaving her delicate fingers over his face with her free hand, prompting him to fall asleep. Her crimson eyes then cast their sight on the distressed snake mistress. "He is correct, you know."

Anko visibly stiffened.

"Naruto-kun may have freed you from Orochimaru's Curse Seal," The Goddess began, gliding over to the crestfallen kunoichi. Placing a slender digit under the snake mistresses chin, prompting her to look into her crimson eyes. "But you have yet to free yourself."

The purple haired hanyou looked at the goddess in confusion, not understanding what she meant.

"You still bear the scars of what Orochimaru did, inside you." Jashin began to explain. "There is a part of you that still does not allow you to fully trust anyone, regardless of who it is. Be it Yugao-chan, Ibiki-san, and even Naruto-kun. You allowed them to instruct you in new techniques, but you have never given your full trust in any of them to get close enough to fully teach you."

Anko sobbed, feeling extremely vulnerable before the goddess. Mainly because Jashin was correct. She never fully let anyone in after Orochimaru's betrayal. Only accepting brief explanations and scrolls to learn new techniques. She had politely refused when Yugao had offered to teach her kenjutsu, and when Naruto had eagerly offered to guide her through her newly acquired hanyou abilities at the time, she always made up some excuse that she didn't have time.

All because in the back of her mind, a small voice whispered.

'They'll betray you, like he did.'

And she had listened to it, like a fool. Thinking she was protecting herself from being hurt again. From being betrayed again. Instead, her lover and mate was hurt. All because of her. Casting her eyes to her prone lover, she made a silent vow. Never. Never again will she allow her fear control her again.

"You know what you must do, don't you, Anko-chan." Jashin smiled, seeing the resolve begin to flicker to life in the snake mistresses light brown eyes. Earning a nod from the purple haired kunoichi as she composed herself and wiped away the tears.

"Yes, Jashin-sama." Anko finally spoke, holding her head up high with confidence. "I need to get rid of the last of my doubt and fear in order to fully free myself."

"Good." Jashin smiled again. "Now, I must send you back, as I have already done with the others."


"The other girls." The goddess chuckled lightly. "Many of which had abandoned their duties to be at the side of their lover in his time of pain and anguish."

"Wait, what about Naruto-kun." Anko inquired.

"He will survive." Jashin reassured her. "My champion will not perish to some poison, though he will be out of commission for the next few hours, at least. Now, let's send you back so you may carry out your duties and warn your Hokage of Orochimaru's presence within the exams."

With a flick of her wrist, the goddess opened a portal to the location not far from where the battle between the Snake Sannin and the Snake Mistress took place, prompting the kunoichi to travel through it, though not before stealing one last glance at Naruto before she departed. Closing the portal, Jashin turned her attention to her fallen champion.

"To sacrifice yourself in order to save those precious to you, Naruto-kun." She smiled, kneeling next to him once more. "Even at the risk of incurring my wrath, you truly are remarkable. Perhaps I should observe the remainder of these exams in person."

Leaning in, she pressed her blood red lips to his, channeling a bit more of her power into her chosen champion, and eventual king, when the time would be right.

Additional Authors Notes: And finally, this chapter is completed!

An entire chapter, dedicated entirely to our favorite Snake Mistress. Going over her past, which writing this out, I never realized how little back story Kishimoto had given Anko. So, played around with a bit of the time line and how Orochimaru acted until he got to his hidden base in Umi no Kuni. As well as other test subjects he picked up along the way, since it would make sense if he had others to "perfect" the seal on before testing it on Anko.

We also got to see just why Anko never trained herself in her hanyou abilities, which to be honest, if she had mastered her abilities like Naruto, Sakura and the others have, she would have wiped the floor with Orochimaru. Which is exactly why I planned it this way, since the earlier chapters. I knew this part would be coming up, and I needed a way to make Naruto vulnerable and incapacitate him for the initial attempt for the Sound Team to try and kill Sasuke.

One last note, I had originally intended to take this chapter all the way through the Preliminary Matches, but considering how long it has been since I updated this particular story, I figured I would only focus on this bit for now, and do the rest in the next chapter.

I had also intended to have a scene with all of the girls who were marked make an appearance, but with how I did Anko's past, I felt it just wouldn't fit the mood, since I wanted to make it very emotional for Anko, which I hope I succeeded. Rest assure, as Jashin said, the rest of the girls had abandoned their duties and rushed to his side.

Now, with that being said, I do hope every one enjoyed this, extremely late, update. I promise I will try to have the next chapter out at in a more reasonable time frame.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the reviews, or hit me up with a private message!