Red Howling

Naruto / Other Fusion

By Perfect Psionic Soldier

Disclaimer: I do not own the various anime/manga thingies. The respective creators do. (I just pretend their mine ~_^)

Before you read on please note that some of this story and or wordings may not make sense to you but please bear with it, as it will become clearer as the story progresses from chapter to chapter.

If you have any questions that weren't answered however, then please send me an email, address given at the Author's Corner, and I will answer them to the best of my abilities.

Note: This takes place after volume 26+. Which means that I'm pretty darn far into the series and I hate it cause I can't get enough! So there are spoilers and the personality of the character Naruto is going to be changed as I more or less implement other anime stuff into this series! I like it! But that is just my opinion… Hope you Enjoy.

Chapter 02

Title: Chapter Two

The small house was silent except for the rhythmic sounds of strong fists striking quickly at the air. There in the center of the kitchen was a person following through with his morning physique.

A young man with blond hair stood shirtless as he preformed his morning exercises. His fists pounded against the small space of air before him, hammering it relentlessly as he continued the rhythm of his strikes, keeping it at a constant pace as he focused solely on a single strike at a time, though his fists quickly hammered the air.

His attacks were quick and deft, creating the most impact with the least movements. He had trained himself to recognize the workings of his body so that it could co-exist with his mind and soul. For only when they were one could he ever achieve the right to walk down the path of warriors that his half memories hinted at.

Finishing his punches with a final double strike with both fists, Naruto straightened his body as he drew his arms to his side. He held the pose for a mere few seconds before he allowed his body to relax while beads of sweat trailed down his body.

He wasn't by any means lean or muscular, but at least he was fit and able. With a sigh, Naruto turned his thoughts inward while he checked his mental list of exercises. Crossing off his final task, a three hundred punch set, Naruto heaved a sigh of relief as he realized that he was finally finished.

Walking off to the kitchen table, he picked up his cool glass of apple juice and downed it in a few gulps. Moving to the sink, he simply rinsed the used glass and set it on the dish rack to dry.

Returning to the kitchen table, he grabbed the simple folded parchment and unfolded it. What was written on the paper, were the names of three people and their portraits. Laying it down on the tabletop, Naruto scanned the faces and names of his new comrades as he started to pull on his jacket.

Scanning the first face showed a lazy looking man with his forehead protector drawn over his left eye as his lower half of his face was hidden from view under a mask. The name Hatake Kakashi was written under the portrait.

The second person was a young man with a cold and calm expression. He looked kind of cool with what seemed like a self-assured attitude. Neck length hair was about the only thing interesting to look at in the picture, expect for his dim smirk and what looked like intelligent eyes. The young man's name was Uchiha Sasuke.

The final person was a young lady with pink hair that went beyond her shoulder. She had what looked like a slightly big forehead and she had her forehead protector placed on top of her head, like a hair band of some sort. She had a look of an innocent girl with both happiness and confidence tugged at the rims of her eyes. Her name was Horuno Sakura.

A gentle knock on the door reminded him of his appointment. Looking at the picture was good enough, he guessed, but meeting them in person was most likely better.

Folding up the piece of paper and tucking it into the inner pocket of his jacket, Naruto then zipped up his front halfway as he went to put on his shoes. Taking a final look around the place he had learnt to call home, he then opened his front door and locking it behind him, leaving to meet the people he will come to call teammates.

Tsunade sat at her desk as she allowed Jiraiya to read over the recent reports of another small team recently killed, however this team was comprised of four Anbu. The four were killed in neutral territory, not even ten minutes away from Leaf's borders.

It seemed that the four were killed through physical combat and were finished off by a strong taijutsu. The imprint of the attacker's fists was marked on the bone structure at vital points. They apparently stood no chance.

If it wasn't for the fact that a small team of Jounins that were returning from a recently completed mission, the four might not have been noticed at all.

Setting the report on the desk, Jiraiya frown as he scanned the first few words again. "This is a bad sign. Especially since Konoha Village is still recovering. The loss of these four will impact us, but its more short term then it is in the long run…"

With her hands clasped before her and elbows resting on the desk, Tsunade let loose a sigh as she lowered her head onto her hands. "I know, I know. But what irks me is that those four were experienced shinobis. They must have known better then to stay and fight."

Jiraiya found himself nodding at the Fifth's words. He knew the four that died. They were anything but stupid and were in the superior B class, elites in their rankings. Not quite Jounin but very close.

"Then there are the three chuunins that were killed in another village…" Tsunade added in as she plopped her head onto her desk.

"So there is potential for yet another plot against our village. We must seem like ripe picking, especially so now as we barely have 60% of our forces active, meaning every ninja in the village is doing something… the other half dead…" Jiraiya stated as she finished the calculations in his head but he also knew something else. "Its Naruto isn't it?"

Raising her head in slight surprise, Tsuande frowned momentarily before she nodded once. "Yea. He's now awake, but he is completely different."

Raising an eyebrow, Jiraiya couldn't resist. "Different?"

Nodding once again, Tsunade explained. "Naruto woke up roughly a month ago, his condition went from the hopeless one that you left five weeks ago, due to an assassination mission, to miraculous recovery. However, he doesn't remember anything prior to the age of thirteen, and only the first seven to eight years are remembered clearly. He has regressed back to his original personality. Or that's what Ibiki Moriono says at any rate."

Jiraiya nodded as he took in the new information. "Heh that kid should know. He is a master at psychological warfare along with that torture and interrogation stuff. He has got some odd hobbies while growing up, but other then that, how is Naruto doing physically?"

Tilting her head, Tsunade let loose a wry grin. "He came out of that coma in an unusual fashion, he is stronger physically then when he went in… He can move faster, is stronger and has a far better stamina then ever. I also heard that after he came out of his coma he went directly into training. My Anbu said that Naruto is far stronger then he was eleven months ago… and… there is something else…"

"Something else?" Jiraiya asked with a raised eyebrow that quickly expanded as his face went white with shock with what Tsunade stated next…

Naruto stared at the afternoon sun as he trailed after his Anbu escort. The world was bright outside. It never ceased to amaze him it seemed. He always found himself staring that the scenery in awe, as though he had been away in a desolate land for so long that life like this was almost unimaginable…

Shaking his head, Naruto momentarily felt images cloud his eyes. Places here and there. Everlasting scars of countless battles marred the desolate land. The images brought forth feelings of longing as his heart yearned for what he felt was… was it… home?

Shaking his head once again, Naruto took a deep breath as the images faded. His heart slowing down to a gentle rhythm as he reviewed what he had seen. Why did his heart yearn for that desolate place? Why did he call it home? Why?

Looking up, Naruto blinked as he noticed that his Anbu guide had stopped and was currently looking at him expectantly.

With a reassuring smile, he instead shrugged off his thoughts and worries as he moved forward. If it were something important, then he would remember. There was no point in making his guide wait anyways. After all, he had plenty of time, right?

"Are you sure?" Jiraiya stated in wide eye shock. "The seal is gone?"

Tsunade nodded solemnly as she locked her gaze with his. "I am positive. I did a few tests with the more specialized Jounins and its all been concluded. Naruto has lost the seal that withheld the Nine Tails Fox Demon…"

"But how can this be!" the senin asked in shock and frustration. "No one should be able to undo that seal unless they know how to also perform it. It took the Fourth ten months to even master that sealing method…"

"I don't know. We all don't. For the entire duration, Naruto was placed under strict surveillance and move to the outer detention center. Other then a few jounins, elite Anbu, you and myself, we should be the only ones with the information about Naruto." Tsunade answered in a tired voice. She had been very busy as of late. It had been barely over two years and it seemed as though everyone wanted to pick on her village…

There was a knock on the doors and with a prompt answer, the doors opened and allowed the person in. The two legendary ninjas looked up to see who had entered.

Walking in at a leisurely pace was a ninja wearing a facemask while he had his left eye covered with his forehead protector. Stopping in front of the desk, his face lit up in a small smile. "You summoned me, Hokage-sama?"

"Yes, yes I have. Do you have any idea why?" Tsunade asked as she got up from her desk and shuffled around a few pieces of paper.

"Uh… could it be about Naruto?" Kakashi asked as he remembered hearing something about his young student as he passed the hallways. Something about being awake for some time now.

"Exactly. I guess you heard it shortly after you returned. Naruto is now awake and you have to know a few things. First is that he has changed and has absolutely no recollection of the last three years of his life. He doesn't really remember anything before his first genin exam and that was a long ways off."

Blinking, Kakashi simply nodded, as he was unsure of what to make of the information. He was glad that his student was all right, but hearing that Naruto had amnesia was something of a disappointment.

Was Naruto even to be reassigned to him? Or was he going to be placed in a special training camp to relearn lost knowledge? But then again, it was Naruto, maybe lost uhhh… blinking, Kakashi cautiously wondered what Naruto would relearn, other then a few jutsu and kage bushin, there wasn't much that Naruto knew…

"He is being reassigned to you." Jiraiya stated bluntly as Tsunade searched around her desk with a slight frown. "He might remember things more clearly if he is by his former teammates. And there is something else."

"Something else?" Kakashi asked as he raised his one visible eyebrow.

"If what I hear is correct, Naruto has regressed mentally, meaning that he will act differently and see things differently. I was told he has regressed back to his original personality. So don't be too surprised if he acts in a completely different fashion." Jiraiya concluded as Tsunade gave her desk an evil glare, her hands quickly flipping through a rather large stack of papers.

"Another thing. Though we don't know how…" Jiraiya said in a serious tone, catching Kakashi's full attention. "Naruto no longer seems to have the seal on him anymore, meaning that the fox demon could already be free. Though nothing has happened, be cautious. He went into the coma as Naruto and came out differently…"

Kakashi's eyes widened but he kept his mouth shut. If Jiraiya and Tsunade, two of the legendary ninja's didn't know, then it was safe to guess that most shinobis wouldn't have a clue either. The following missions with Naruto could be more dangerous to themselves then not. But what Jiraiya said at the end bothered him. "Differently?"

"He might have come out stronger then when he went in. How? I honestly don't know, but be sure to keep a closer eye on him." Jiraiya finished as he scanned the paper piled desk that Tsunade was currently digging through. He didn't know what she was looking for and he felt like he didn't want to know…

"Naruto is going to rejoin the team today at your usual meeting spot. One of my Anbu is currently escorting him to the location and I have no doubts that the rest of the team is already on there way to go waiting for you. So you are dismissed. You are to continue with your current mission today, Naruto's presence is irrelevant." Tsuande stated busily as she rummaged through her third stack of papers.

With a respectful bow, Kakashi turned to leave and Jiraiya was about to get up when Tsunade clamped her hands onto his shoulder. "Now you, frog boy, are going to help me sort these out, lest I tell the women folk of Konoha that your in town, again. Lets not have a repeat of last time, eh?"

Thinking back to the last time the women knew of his presence, Jiraiya smiled faintly and nodded. "I'd love to help you, Hokage-sama."

With a bright and cheerful smile, Tsunade made a cut in the air and sweeping her hand across the left side of the desk, towards Jiraiya. "Good! This half is yours!"

Closing the door, Kakashi couldn't help but smile. He remembered the last time the women knew that legendary sennin was around. They started an Anti-Lecher campaign and began a village wide manhunt. Jiraiya had then quickly left on an important mission the hour after the women began their campaign.

The trees stood steadily against the wind as their leaves fluttered. The rising sun was still moving towards noon, casting a bright and cheerful light on everything under the blue skies.

Continuing after the Anbu, Naruto had his hands in his pant's pockets as he trailed after his escort. He honestly had no clue were he was supposed to meet his teammates but he was glad that someone was showing him the way.

Walking along the park pathway, Naruto found himself gazing around himself in wonder. Everything seemed to have a color scheme and this scheme was green. Everywhere he looked was green. Green grass, green leaves, hack there was green moss on a few rocks that littered the around the sides of the pathway. No matter how many times he saw this, it still awed him at the vibrant signs of life that existed all around him.

He found himself smiling as he saw a few birds glide by, their wings stiff as they glided from tree to grass, using their beaks to peck at something, maybe food, or twigs. The sounds of life were hanging in the air as they chirped. There were even a few squeaks as a furry rodent, he would later remember as a squirrel, scurried up and down the trees.

Turning his attention back to the Anbu in front of him, Naruto briefly wondered if the person also felt such elation at seeing all this life. Or was there some ignorance at the beauty around them? He knew that some things could be taken for granted, but he also knew that they would realize the importance of their surroundings if they just vanished.

Thinking inwards, he wondered if he himself was taking something for granted. He quickly found himself drawing a blank. He was admiring the life around him, so he recognized nature. He never had friends or comrades, at least people that he remembered. And he never had family, so he had never ever touched the odd bond called love…

Thinking on the subject, Naruto felt a small bout of depression wash over him, the world suddenly seemed a bit darker as his cheerful smile wilted to a frown. Love. What was that? He knew it was something that many people prized and have felt, but him? Nope. He had never known the heart of family or the touch of even respect.

The sad feelings then began to claw at his eyes, making him narrow his view as he continued to wonder what was his purpose here? Why did he become a ninja? Did he even have goals or dreams?

He felt empty, as though only a void existed within his body, mind and soul.

But then a memory returned.

The shadowed stranger laughing with cheer as he performed his newly acquired 'Sword' technique. There had been a smile there, though he never noticed until now. The man seemed to know him, and… and Naruto's eyes widened as something dawned on him. The man knew him and… and…

A memory surfaced. A large circle drawn in the dirt. His body battered and bruised. His position was that of defeat, his knees on the ground and the only reason he was still slightly upright was because of his right arm, his left broken and useless. Yet, before him stood that shadowed figure, a mocking grin on his face, arms outstretched. "Today you have lost, tomorrow is still yours for the taking." The figure stated warmly as he grabbed his good hand and helped him up. They were warm hands and the man's eyes… his eyes were filled with…

Breaking out of his trance, Naruto wiped away a tear as it began to slide down his cheek. He smiled once again. He remembered those moments, of the many different scenes. Yet they were all the same, the same victor, the same words, and, and the same eyes. Warm eyes that held only acceptance and something more…

Looking up at the bright blue sky bathed under the warm sunlight, Naruto blinked as he gazed at the greenery once again. A memory? It was a simple memory, yet it meant so much. "I wish to know who you are…" Naruto stated solemnly as he slowed down for a few moments to stop a few more tears from overpowering him.

Shaking his head to clear his mind, Naruto then blinked away the last of his tears as he quickly began to move forward. His guide was still waiting for him and if his tears were noticed or not, the Anbu did not give a hint of knowledge nor care.

With his hands in his pockets, Naruto smiled as he walked under a large tree and crossed through the shade. A dream? He had discovered one now. He wanted to know the person who was still a shadow to him. The person that he held in high regards and respect, but most importantly, this was a person who accepted him.

Though it was for a briefest of moments, the darkness around him lightened for a moment, and he almost forgot the void that resided within.

The numbness that surrounded his arms did not change. It never did. Ever since that last battle with the third, his arms had remained the same. True he had defeated the greatest of the five kage leaders of the hidden shinobi world, but the trade off was immense.

He had lost the usage of both his arms, rendering him almost completely useless. Of course he could still fight and undoubtedly be on par with perhaps a jounin or even two, but that was pushing his current limits. Limits that shouldn't even exist!

It wasn't the fact that he lost the usage of his arms that annoyed him. It was the fact that he had lost the usage of over ninety percent of his justsus! That fact alone angered him above all his previous losses.

However, that would soon change. He would regain his former powers and gain the strength to surpass all those he previously knew.

Standing in front of a large stone statue of a giant snake, Orochimaru blinked once as he found himself staring into the statues eyes. Even from his rather limited knowledge of gems, he found it easy to identify the blood rubies that were embedded as the snake's eyes. The size of most large boulders, the rubies gave off a sinister feeling.

He was tiny compared to the immensity of this single stone carving. It was painfully obvious that this statue was carved with the greatest care, even though it didn't resemble a snake type that he was familiar with.

For one thing, there were spikes jetting out along the entire snake's backside. And its scales had an unusual pattern to them. They were like triangles with the edges pushed inwards, forming unique pattern as it stretched across its skin. Though this creature was made of stone it was flawlessly duplicated.

All around him was strewn jewels of gold and silver. Piles of coins littered around the statue with ancient markings on them. The coins were old, very old, but from what period, even he did not know. But it was safe to say that this statue was around for far longer then anyone could ever guess.

He had seen this snake many times. It haunted his dreams with its overbearing voice. It was a powerful voice that shook with supremacy and left him to wake up trembling.

Set. That was the voice's name as he had learnt. And it promised him power in exchange for his loyalty. It promised vengeance in turn for deaths. He would serve this spirit as he felt the truth to its words. His arms were promised to be unsealed. All he would have to do is allow this spirit into his body. He would then gain access to its knowledge and skills. He would take a step closer to becoming the greatest.

If Set was a summoning gone wrong, then Orochimaru did not care, nor did he mind. This was a creature that radiated power from just its Image. Power. This was true power that he could not claim anywhere else or through anyone else.

All that Set asked of him was obedience and the usage of his body. Set had shown him a few skills that he himself did not know even existed! He now had a simple strike that would allow him to kill an opponent through even a barrier of solid stone. It was extremely complex but he had mastered it, he had used it on three simple leaf chuunins a few days ago. They were simply obliterated while he stood three feet away from them. It was so easy.

He knew the truth of Set's words and thus began to hunt for the snake's tomb. His elite aid, Kabuto was the one to find it and bringing his old body, as Set had instructed, as he now stood in front of the tomb of Set.

It laid before him now, his old set of eyes closed in eternal slumber. He had Kabuto bring it and lay it before him before he was ordered to depart and guard the entrance. They were alone out here, as the need for the rest of his jounins did not exist since they were busy preparing for a very special war.

He did not know the reason for the presence his old body, but he had kept it safely tucked away in a sealed room. It still existed in case he had need for it again and for his foresight he was rewarded with its need.

"Young Snake! You have come!" a voice boomed through the giant cavern as an immense presence smashed into his body. It took all his will power to not crumble to his knees. Muscles straining, he finally won as the presence withdrew itself.

Eyes glowing, the stone snake seemingly looked down upon him. The statue itself felt alive as chakra radiated from within the snake's stone body.

Looking up with a ragged breath, Orochimaru suddenly found himself in a dangerous position. Set's presence alone seemed like more then enough power to snuff out his life. He was suddenly completely sure that even the Manda would have been defeated if Set so desired while sleeping within the stone statue.

Instead of worrying however, he stood straight and tall. He was a snake and thus could relate to this creature. "I have come. And as you have asked, I have brought my original form here. What do you wish of me, Set?" Orochimaru asked proudly, but humbly as he knew Set's displeasure would be profound and deadly to himself. It aggravated him that he was weaker but he was not so proud as to pass up an opportunity for greater power.

"You must submit unto me, as you would have your loyalist servants submit unto you. I am Set, one of the last of the Seconds. I have slept for centuries within this stone prison, searching for the perfect master. You young snake have much to grow, but you are qualified!" Set bellowed as chakra pushed Orochimaru back.

Fighting to stand upright, his eyes widened in awe at the simplicity of how Set had pushed him back with seemingly no effort. In the face of Set, he, Orochimaru, was complete and utterly inferior. And he could become this creature's master… a wicked grin began to tug at the edges of his mouth.

As though lit with passion, Orochimaru cried out in excitement. "What would you have me do to master your strengths and loyalty?"

"You must submit unto me as you would have others submit unto you." Set replied in a calmer voice. "You must return to your original form, for only there can you claim the strength of Set!"

"My original form? But why Set? It is old and dying! My current body is young and fresh!" the young man challenged as the ruby eyes of the snake glowed once again.

"Fool!" Set bellowed, his chakra rocking the cavern and knocking Orochimaru instantly off his feet and into the far wall along with his old body. "Your current body is youthful, yes, but it is inferior to the body of your old! You can never have the perfected unity of body and spirit in the host of another! For only in your original form can you surpass the limits of the flesh. No others!"

"Then, then what must I do, Set!" Orochimaru cried in return as he regained his footing.

"You must submit unto me, as you would have your loyalist servants submit unto you." Set replied once again.

"What does that mean? What will you have me do, Set!" Orochimaru screamed in return.

"Kneel before your body of old. And from there we shall join and begin the process of old. We will become one, young snake and you shall gain the powers of Set. With that, no one of this world will be able to stand again you, nor kill you!" Set stated with a calm voice once again as its eyes flashed crimson red with each sentence.

Kneeling in front of his old body, Orochimaru then stared defiantly at the stone statue and cried out. "I am ready, Set. Grant me the powers that I deserve!"

"As it should be!" Set bellowed as the ruby eyes cracked and shattered. From the moment of destruction, the stone statue bursted apart as a flow of chakra slammed into towards the far wall and connected the two bodes, moving one spirit from one form to the other.

In a flash of light, there was suddenly nothing in the cavern but melted rock and pools of gold and silver. At the far end of the cavern, stood a single solitary figure.

Standing, the figure then moved its arms and flexed its fingers before it let out a sinister howl of laughter as his he focused his chakra to his arm, creating a dark emerald green hue around his open, yet tense hands.

The laughter deepened into a crazed frenzy.

Silver eyes opened back to the light. For a few moments, there was no picture, no sound, but a dull soundless roar as a solid blend of colors shined before him. It was a blank color, a pure white that showed all, yet revealed nothing...

In a moments rush, it roared, the ever-lasting dull sound of a moment. But in a flash, everything came into focus. The sounds of animals moving and chattering filled the air, the vibrant flow of the wind caressing the land and the hazy sounds of a waterfall damping everything around it.

"Good Morning, Master." A gentle voice filled his ears. "If you are hungry, there seems to be plenty of prey around us. Even you could eat your fill here without killing too many of them." The voice chuckled lightly as the warmth of the voice's chakra embraced his body.

Blinking a few times, Silver sat up slowly as he felt his body protest in return. Resting his head on his right hand, he took a moment to focus on his body.

Taking in a deep breath, the sounds of the air filled his mind for a moment before he released a deep sigh. His body was more or less currently crippled. Thinking back at what was the potential cause of his misery, he also wondered briefly what he should eat.

Images flashed before him. A creature of gold, leader of the Shadowed Sun. He remembered now, his last fight. It was a demon lord that almost rivaled his powers. Or at least did.

Flexing his left hand into and from a fist, Silver slowly got up as he felt his body protest loudly against him. He felt the pain course through his body as he slowly stretched.

He was tired.

Looking up at the blue skies, he blinked as he once again realized how drained he was. He was at his limits, though the final fight between him and the Golden General was fun it was also extremely brutal.

His body was barely functioning as it was and he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would be months before he could regain his original strength. His recovery would have been faster but he was also drained spiritually. There wasn't enough excess power for him to carelessly indulge in mass regeneration. It would take weeks if not months as well to restore his reserves of soul. Even his fox, Lady, one of the greatest nine tailed fox demons in existence was almost tapped.

He then briefly wondered were he was as he saw a little furry animal with long ears that stuck upwards and plump body hop by. With a deft lash of his left arm, Silver simply stabbed his hands at the general direction of the small creature as the energy of his soul lashed out and pierced the creature.

It died upon impact.

"I think they call it a rabbit…" Lady stated slowly to his ear as he walked over to it and examined it.

It seemed edible.

Grabbing the creature by the back of its neck with his left hand, Silver studied it for a moment and deciding that he didn't want to eat it raw right now, he simply held the rabbit before his right hand as he concentrated.

Within moments pulsating silver fire formed on his right palm and with a thought jumped onto the rabbit, engulfing it within its flames as it simply ate away at the fur and skin before receding into the meat.

"I hope you like it well done master, I took off the fur." Lady announced in amusement as her master licked his lips in anticipation.

Sinking his teeth into the meat, Silver chewed for a few moments before swallowing the rather tasty morsel.

Plunking down onto his rear, Silver found himself staring at the sky as he ate. His fox settled down around him, her chakra giving her a faint form as he slowly wondered why he was here in this strange world.

Licking his lips, Silver burped as he finished off his meal and with a grin and raised eyebrow, began to look around for another one of those 'rabbits'.

The sun continued to embrace his body, seemingly wrapping him in both light and warmth. Following his guide through the village, Naruto found himself walking at a relaxed pace as he trailed through the many buildings and streets.

He honestly didn't know were he was going, but he found that his feeling of contentment under the warm sun was being continually prodded.

The village itself was amazing, with its artfully constructed buildings around the living forests. It was as if the creator of this village had simply taken a large patch of forest, laid down stone lines and littered building around the busy streets.

All around him was the people who lived in this village of leaf. He had guessed that they had lived here all their lives as his memories didn't tell him of those who came or left. Heck, his memories didn't recognize more then two or three faces out of the countless he had met. But, there was vibrancy in the air that seemed almost apart of the trees and stones around everywhere, just as he remembered during his younger years...

However, there was a constant thing that didn't seem to have changed since his youth. The cold stares he remembered still grazed at him with every passing eye. It seemed worse, actually, since those days. He knew now why he was hated and the people's cold gazes seemed to have gotten colder, as if they blamed him for knowing why they blamed him.

It was with the strength of sun though, that he didn't allow their cold hearts to touch him. Oh he knew their unspoken wish, it was voiced through their very eyes. They had wished that he didn't exist, that he was simply a horrible stain in their lives that would never wash away.

He wanted to… to…

Clenching his teeth, Naruto tried to suppress his inner desire. He refused to stare them in the eye lest they knew his deepest wish… a wish that he was rather fond of.

It wasn't his first time trying to block out his thoughts in this area. He had grown used to it, as he knew it would solve nothing. But he still wished for it. For it had been the sole reason of existence so long ago.

He had changed hadn't he? Since those days of old…

He knew that he was missing most of his memories. Most of the time it seemed as though his memories were nothing more then someone else's wish for their existence. If it weren't for the fact that he felt he should know more, should strive to find that man who was cloaked in shadows, he wouldn't have bothered. In fact he might have given into his deepest desire…

Taking a deep breath, Naruto once again tried to ignore that part of his mind, its seductive heeds for him to listen. To obey, to give into…

His bubble popping, Naruto once again found that his good cheer evaporated like a warm dream, instantly fading and leaving him back to the endless cold.

Then there was another one, another cold stare from a young woman who was smiling but a moment ago. She passed him without word but her gaze said more then enough.

Naruto quickly found the dark parts of his mind reaching forward, demanding to be heard.

Kill them! Kill them all! That is why I exist! Wide eyed, Naruto found his hard gaze tracking to the back of the passing woman, his urge to destroy peaking as he found the current object of his hatred…

With one forced, hard blink, Naruto willed that part of his mind back as he turned his head around. He had changed since those days of old. He had found a dream and no longer floated around aimlessly. He had found the dream to work towards, to find the man who smiled at him with kind eyes…

Alone! The faded echoing voice in his mind stated before it seemed to blink and vanish back to its originated from… the many memories of those cold gazes.

Eyes clear, Naruto found a small masking smile tug at his lips. He had survived here for longer then he remembered and he would survive still. He would not harm them without cause, for they were nothing to him, just haunting memories that simply wouldn't go away.

Picking up his pace to catch up with the slightly distant form of his guide, Naruto ignored the slightly fearful expression of one young lady who had turned around. Her eye were filled with fear as though a wild beast was, but for a moment, stalking her from behind…

The sounds of running water were the first indication that the scenery was still changing. It was a calm sound as there was no one else around.

Still ever following his Anbu guide, he found her slowing down as they approached a bridge… a bridge that tingled the back of his mind and he found himself forgetting everything as… as… as something nostalgic washed over him.

He found himself walking to the bridge, his feet moving on its on accord as he forgot everything else.

Moving to the edge, to the side of the wooden bridge, were there were railing to protect one from falling in, Naruto found his hands caressing a small area on the top of the rail. His hands ran along the warm and smooth wood, a faint feeling of recognition wash through him anew as he found himself lightly hopping up onto the railing, sit so that his left leg was laying on its side, his right leg dangling freely.

I've done this before… sitting here… and… waiting… for something… Naruto mentally stated as he found himself staring on what he was sitting on.

The Anbu however, memorized what had just happened and figured that the Fifth would want to hear about this. It seemed that Naruto at least recognized his team's original meeting place for missions and training. So a complete recovery was not only possible, but potentially quick if his mind would recognize enough things to jog his memories back.

With a slight frown that only the most elite shinobis would notice, the Anbu turned her masked face towards her trailing charge. "The rest of team seven will meet you here. I have fulfilled my tasks." She stated calmly and turned to leave.

"Thank you… for helping me… and.." Naruto replied a bit shyly. He wasn't sure how to thank her, so he decided to be blunt. "And for not showing your hate for me… even though you too must also despise me, deep down..."

The Anbu had paused for a moment, when Naruto had started to speak, but she didn't acknowledge his words as she simply left, vanishing in a small wisp of smoke and a rustle in the still air.

There was a moment of silence after his guide had left. He found that he was slightly happy. True she had said nothing to him as she left, but his had spoken with his heart, his words simply the truth. She never once gazed on him with the cold eyes like everyone else. He could almost feel it however, what she masked behind her cool gaze. She disliked him as much as anyone else, perhaps more as he realized that it was many shinobis who died fighting the demon within him…

But, she had shown none of it, making it easier to be around her. She had never really said anything to him unless needed, but neither had he ever heard her whisper behind his back, or even disproval of she always needed to wait for him to catch up.

Staring wistfully at where she was standing but moments before, Naruto found himself idly wondering were she was going and what she had to do.

With a slight frown, Naruto noticed that other people were approaching. It wasn't just a feeling, but a collection of senses. The sound of their light steps, the faint voices but most of all, there was something else, tugging at the back of his mind. It was unexplainable, but he knew, even without all his other senses that not one, but two people were currently walking up this bridge.

Turning around, Naruto felt confused for a moment as a moment of nostalgia once again wash over him. A boy with black hair leading the way with a pink haired girl trailing slightly behind, her voice floating in the still air.

The moment instantly vanished as the two people stopped and stared.

Uchiha Sasuke walked along at his usual pace towards their usual meeting place. While his teammate, Harono Sakura, trailed after him in their usual traditional walks, with her badgering him about something while he more or less ignored her unchanging requests.

They had been together in team seven for almost three years now and though she had earned his trust and respect, it still didn't change the fact that she paid far too much attention to her heart then to being a shinobi.

If it weren't for the fact that she genuinely cared for him, he would have completely ignored her all together.

Looking up at the skies, Sasuke found himself momentarily mesmerized by the passing clouds. Three years… he thought to himself as he contemplated on what had transpire between his the time he had graduated till now.

He had trained hard with the intent of killing his older brother for he was left alive but for a single purpose, to become an avenger, as he was meant to be. He was to gain power to rightfully destroy what had slaughtered his clan and parents. It was his duty.

To that extent he had even tried leaving his village, his home, to attempt to gain power… yet… yet he was outdone, outdone by a single boy who he and everyone else had thought to be worthless, a dead last shinobi without talent or skills.

It grated on him to no end at how someone who seemed to be inferior in every way, always seemed to grow in the midst of time when they were all busy surviving and yet he still leapt ahead by leaps and bounds.

He couldn't not fathom how much his comrade had grown throughout their time together yet still remain the same annoying, loudmouthed, hyperactive person he was. He had gained great skills and that 'Rasengan' technique was easily the stronger when compared to his own chidori, and the fact that chidori allowed for more pinpoint damage didn't help much.

Sasuke focused on a cloud as he felt himself frown. What had he been doing since the tragedy of his clan? He had tried to gain power, but he was so seemingly effortlessly surpassed that even he was slightly amused.

Uzumaki Naruto, the lone ninja in the village that was so open, yet was a complete enigma. Sasuke knew what everyone else knew, that Naruto grew up with no parents and as he discovered later, no family or even friends. He understood that loneliness, having no family and he also understood why he had caused pranks as a child though it irked him at how proud he was of his mischievousness. An Uchiha would never be caught dead pulling one of Naruto's jokes. As Sasuke had recently learnt, an Uchiha was supposed to be a point of respect, a guiding light for those weaker then himself to follow.

Then the incident at the temple had occurred. It was something completely unexpected. It was supposed to be a simplistic D rank mission where they were to bring a simple package to the head of the temple.

But while Naruto went in to explore the temple, his chakra manifested and it seemed to explode, injuring even him while he stood outside the rather large temple building. Dozen of others, mostly the monks of the temple, were also hit.

When the dust settled, at the center of the explosion laid the still orange clothed form of Naruto. He wouldn't respond to anything, or anyone and even flailed in a wordless scream once.

Kakashi quickly took charge and they all rushed back to Konoha as fast as their bodies could push themselves.

The Fifth then took custody of Naruto and Sasuke never heard from that boy again… and it irked him. He was apart of the team. One of exactly three others that he found he could trust. That was well over ten months ago and still no word other then that Naruto was moved from the hospital and to an unknown location.

Team seven itself, seemed to have suffered during that time. Without its third member, the mission became fairly difficult and though he and Sakura grew during that period, it never felt quite right without a certain loudmouth interrupting their lives with his unnecessary chatter and loud voice.

Even Sakura seemed to have dulled a little. Her worry for a person she considered a friend tugged at the back of her mind. However, her quaint requests for dates had been slowly dwindling, much to his relief. But they both knew that there could never really be a date with Naruto still hospitalized. His condition was an ever-constant worry at the back of their minds and even when they sat down to rest during a mission they either reminisced about old times or talked about the mission. Any date they had would have gone downhill.

But he still held hope. Even though he would never admit it, he was looking forward to seeing Naruto again, to outdo that boy, his rival, and show off his skills. He had not been resting during their time apart. No, he had been training like mad, for this was his chance, to move ahead and recreate that gap that existed between them. Naruto caught up far to quickly and Uchiha Sasuke wasn't arrogant enough anymore to let this chance slip by him.

Still, there was no word on Naruto's condition and he knew that after their ritual greeting of Sakura yelling at Kakashi for being late who had even worse excuses, Sakura would once again ask about Naruto's condition and ask if there was any improvement.

With a hint of a smile on his face, Sasuke found himself hoping that there was an improvement. He was itching to show off his honed skills, though he would never admit it to anyone, he truly enjoyed the pressure of keeping ahead of his rival… his friend…

Then as they approached the bridge, Sasuke felt that something was off and immediately focused ahead, his peripheral vision showing that Sakura had felt that something was wrong also.

Slowling to a stop with Sakura at his side, Sasuke couldn't but help feel anger, pure distasteful anger at what stood before him. A young blond boy in dark clothing that he settled on dark blood was sitting were Naruto was supposed to! No one but his teammate had that right. Sasuke was surprised at his own reaction of anger, but it didn't stop his minor bloodlust.

Beside him, Sakura was also narrowing her eyes. This was her team's spot! The meeting place for Team Seven, not some bumbling, crimson dressed idiot that was currently sitting on the railing of the bridge. That was Naruto's spot!

Their emotions of resentment fairly saturated the air with their intent to harm, one who looked to all the world as serene and placid while beside him was a young lady who more or less looked ready to rip flesh from bone, all she needed was her victim…

Then the person lifted his head and there was a collective gasp as the killing aura instantly vanished into surprise. Before them sat the ever proud, hyperactive, loudmouthed ninja, Uzumaki Naruto.

Naruto blinked a few times as he stared at the two quickly approaching people in apprehension. But he fought back against the fearful force or at least try to hide it from his face. After all, he did feel their killing intent not two seconds ago and he felt uneasy as they continued to close the gap between them.

Taking in a single breath, Naruto found himself studying the faces of the two approaching people. They didn't run at him, but neither did they leisurely stroll towards him. They moved simplistically at a brisk pace, their faces wry with emotions.

Looking at the person named Uchiha Sasuke, Naruto couldn't readily pinpoint any readable emotions but he emanated a slightly amused and or happy feeling. As though he was seeing an irritating yet comforting sight. Did this mean that they were friends once? That they got along together enough to trust one another?

Shifting his gaze to the pink haired lady who was more energetic with her expressions and movements, she looked like she was jogging towards him, but with Sasuke effortlessly keeping pace while looking to all the world that he was simply taking a stroll, it created an offbeat picture.

Haruno Sakura. He vaguely remembered someone like her during his youth. She would have been a young girl then, who cried at the torment by others. They had even talked a few times, sitting in a park as they tentatively traded stories. There were some things in common, such as being made fun by others and being alone, but there were also differences. She seemed like a kinder person then he was, there was no hate or malice in her, like him.

However, she quickly found a friend and forgotten about him. Not that he minded too much. After all, her happiness was important also. But… what had happened? Why did she act liked she knew him so? The last thing he remembered was sitting on the swing talking to her, though he never saw it coming, it was the last time they would talk when a blonde haired girl quickly yelled out her name and they had left, never noticing him, leaving behind an empty farewell…

Did he get the chance to talk to her again? Was she also a person that he could call friend? Was she a person to trust and laugh with?

Blinking, Naruto quickly crushed those thoughts as other memories surfaced. He was ridiculed a lot during his childhood. He had trusted some but they ended up leaving him, some returning only to taunt and fight, he never knew a true moment with happiness while in the company of others. Though she never did really taunt him, she never really talked to him again either.

No. It would have been simpler if they had never met again. He did not need false hopes and he sure didn't need imaginary bonds called 'friendship' to raise his moral. He was Uzumaki Naruto. He existed for one purpose, to… destroy every human…

Looking down, Naruto halted those thoughts before they took hold once again. He found himself staring at a faint outline of his own reflection within the gentle stream below. He had found someone to acknowledge him and the fact of it was enough. He would not dream of friendship as it brought nothing but pain.

The man who was cloaked in the shadows of his vague memories however, was different. He always had this warm laugh, a rich smile and though he could not see the person's eyes, Naruto knew that they stared down fondly at him.

"Naruto!" a youthful feminine cry pierced the air and shattered his thoughts as he looked up to see the person known as Sakura stop before him, her eyes wide with disbelief, joy and excitement… and… and he was sure that there was another. Another person hidden in the shadows that looked over him fondly as well… just like the man in the shadows.

Turning his head slightly, Naruto then focused on the young man as he simply smirked at the person before him. It was a self-confident smirk, one that told volumes about his attitude and outlook on others. It was clear that he thought himself superior to everyone present.

It was a similar smirk, Naruto decided, to those bullies that taunted him endlessly during his youth. Blinking once, Naruto then forced down the urge to wipe that smirk off the Uchiha face and instead tried his best to make a fake smile. Just like the one he used to make all the adults ignore him. He simply put on a fake, open and clueless mask. It was his mask that he would use to hide his true self away from the world.

It was easy.

As his eyes narrowed and his mouth turned into a large grin, he felt the two before him relax slightly at the sight of his mask. He didn't remember anything about them. He didn't even know how they knew him or even how he was suppose to treat them.

But something told him that there was something amiss. That the two people in front of him were expecting… something… something from him, though he honestly had no clue what he was supposed to do.

Blinking Naruto tried his hardest to remember. To remember whom these people before him were and how they had known each other. He could see it in their eyes. There was trust and mirth, unity and comfort as they stared at him. But he didn't feel what their eyes stated. He did not feel anything but the empty void that had accompanied him throughout his life. And within the reaches of the void there was even slight animosity lurking at the edges of his mind.

With nothing coming to mind at how he should react, he instead replayed what he had seen other do so often. He knew their names as they were inscribed on the paper that the Hokage had given. So he finally put to use what he had seen so many times as he watched from the shadows. He had studied others, as there was little he could do since they mostly refused to even acknowledge him.

Raising his head slightly so he could clearly look them in the eye, Naruto repeated what he saw done by other so many times in his life. "Good afternoon, Haruno-san, Uchiha-san. How are you today?" Naruto finished almost lamely. He had never said those words to anyone and found that there was something lacking in his tone.

Both people froze as Naruto referred to them so politely. There was obviously something wrong here. Naruto never addressed them in a formal manner. This was not the Naruto that they had learned and grew with. This was someone different.

Sasuke frowned as he assumptions were answered when he had first seen Naruto sitting on the bridge. There was something amiss when they had made their way over. For one thing, Naruto didn't greet Sakura. He always greeted her. He most likely would have greeted her if he were to die from saying her name. There was something very wrong here and the change of wardrobe was only the beginning.

Greeting Sakura was as much part of Naruto was his stupid grin. Then when they got closer, Sasuke noted with slight annoyance that he didn't respond to them in almost any fashion. In fact, as Sasuke reviewed their encounter, he found himself detecting a hint of hatred directed towards them.

It was not the same rivalry hatred that Naruto usually yelled out but true, deep seated hatred. The kind that rivaled his hate for his brother… and Sasuke found himself feeling disturbed that Naruto could release such emtions. It was also unnerving that those brief moment of hate seemed to be directed towards him and Sakura…

Sakura on the other hand wasn't faring as well. She was confused. Naruto seemed off to her, as he didn't greet her arrival as he usually did. And then there was the brief look in his eye that she suspected that even Sasuke missed as Naruto's hair had briefly covered his eyes when he stared at them while they approached.

With a slightly strained smile, Sakura remembered that look well. It was despair that melted into something more menacing. But she shrugged it off. Perhaps he was only annoyed that she was paying attention to Sasuke. Yes… that had to be it. That he was jealous of her attention to Sasuke…

However, who could blame her? Sasuke was still one of the most wanted genin and with the recent graduation of rookie genins, the girls from the previous classes came to haunt their crush.

"Heh heh heh… that's not a nice joke Naruto… I'm glad your awake now but…" Sakura trailed off as she stared into Naruto's eyes and found nothing. With her brow furrowing in confusion, she tried to reason out why Naruto was staring at them so blankly. "So… quit playing around you idiot…"

Sakura suddenly found herself cut short at the word idiot, a word she had used many a time on the person before, instantly drew out a sharp frown from the blonde's lips and the look in his eyes for a moment, grew both harder and colder.

What's going on? Sakura asked herself and even inner Sakura seemed to have faltered.

But then it vanished almost instantly, replaced by that smile that she had seen so often during their missions that she really couldn't picture Naruto without it. It seemed to be as apart of him as his whiskers or his unruly hair.

It was an almost always-comforting smile and had always eased her slightly back then… but now… after seeing the look in his eyes, Sakura found herself beginning to doubt the sincerity of that happy look…

Sure he looked the same, sitting there before him, but his entire aura seemed off. He knew their names but he seemed far more withdrawn and strained. She couldn't quite place the feeling, but it seemed as though Naruto was straining to do something…

Naruto smile didn't change during the entire exchange. His mask had been forged by the loneliest of days and he had well over fifteen years to practice and master his hollow smile. Though his mask showed happiness, to prove to the world that he didn't need them, any of them or ever would, he was in fact rolling around in apprehension.

How was he to deal with this? He had tried his hardest and still was trying to remember things, anything, about his past and why they continued to stare at him expectantly. He knew nothing of talk and chitchat.

Sure he had seen it done dozens of hundreds of millions of times, but when it came down to him applying it… he found that he was falling short in all areas. He never knew these people; he in fact didn't really know anyone. He had seen a few vague faces that almost had a name attached to them, but nothing ever came up.

So began the tense awkward atmosphere where three people stared at each other. There was a blond young man who wore a simple grin, his mask adapting to the odd situation as he simply sat on the railing and took in information about the two people before him.

He had immediately noticed that the picture was slightly off as both people had longer hair and their features seemed slightly more defined then what was shown on the paper. Guessing that the pictures were taken a little while ago, Naruto simply shrugged it off as he instead found himself categorizing the little details about the two people before him.

Sasuke seemed immobile and frozen in time, his penetrating eyes and subtle shifts in weight was the only indication that he was in fact, a living breathing person. His hair was cropped at the neckline and his bangs hooded his eyes. Naruto found himself taking stock of what Sasuke kept visible on his person, the shuriken holster on his right hip and headband tied on his forehead.

Moving onto Sakura, Naruto noted that she wore a mid-thigh one-piece dress with clinging shorts underneath that reached down to slightly above her knees. Her vibrant pink hair flowed down to her back where Naruto lost sight of it. He did note that she wore her headband on top of her head, making him curious as why she wore it like that. He quickly took note of her shuriken holster as well before his thoughts drifted off to the clear blue sky above.

In turn, Sakura and Sasuke took the awkward moment to study their teammate. Other then his colder attitude of indifference, Naruto seemed to have changed for once. His old orange clothing was replaced by what looked like loose crimson black clothing and his hair once short now fell to his neckline.

In-between the moments of yesterday and now, the three ninjas who had once been a team suddenly found themselves lost. The old bonds that once held them together was suddenly cut as one did not know much of his present and the others, they did not know him at all.

No one knew him. A boy whose life was lived in the open, yet completely shrouded by shadows. He was Uzumaki Naruto. A boy who was ignored and forcibly forgotten so that though they would recognize him on sight or without the phrase 'Demon' they would in fact, not realize he was there until something happened. This was his story. A life of hatred, which was only surpassed by inner loneliness…

The air seemed tense as he arrived, his one uncovered eye taking in everything around his students in a glance. They were unsure of themselves.

With a quick sigh, he made his spontaneous entrance with a puff of smoke and a smile. Standing at the end of the railing, on the same side Naruto was sitting, he waved to his team.

"Sorry I am late. I had to discuss a few things with the Hokage." Kakashi stated simply as he turned his almost full attention onto the blonde that was currently staring back at him.

Sakura and her usual screams of denial didn't come up this time but he already knew why. While Naruto on the other hand, continued to stare at him.

He knew that there would be no apparent difference from the picture that was given to Naruto. Having talked to the secretary, he knew what was shown and explained to his young charge. The picture was a purposely-older copy. A year old copy to be precise in hopes that he would remember something about his team. Judging by how Sakura and Sasuke were eyeing Naruto… that course of action seemed to have failed…

Bringing forth his calm and so ever experienced smile, he simply walked in front of Naruto and squatted before him.

"Hatakate-sensie." Naruto greeted with a small nod of his head. Digging back into his rather blurry memories of school… Naruto vaguely remembered that this was a proper gesture from new students to a teacher. He wasn't sure if this applied here but he simply didn't know what else to do.

The wide eye gaze he received from his team was anything but sterling.

Sasuke simply raised an eyebrow in curiosity. Since when had Naruto been so respectful? Sakura had both eyes wide open and her jaw hung loose in shock. Naruto knew their teachers last name and didn't scream out something! Why was he acting so weird!

Kakashi on the other hand scratched at his cheek in slight embarrassment. He had never been so formally addressed and he found it both embarrassing and disheartening.

He found himself reminiscing about the earlier days of team seven, when they were struggling with life and each other while adapting and learning to coexist.

With a cheery smile, Kakashi shrugged off distant thoughts and instead decided to let fate play it out. Naruto would remember them in time. He had no doubts about that. What he was uncertain of however, was the simple warning he had received during the talk with two of the legendary three.

If Naruto's seal was gone, then that meant that kyubi was a sudden and very real threat that could come back and haunt them at any given time. But that wasn't the only thing that was bugging him. The simple situation that Naruto was stronger after his coma was a very interesting turn of events.

Taking into consideration the facts that a person should come out of a coma weaker, since atrophy would set in, weakening the muscles and forcing the person to train their body to simply respond to the easiest of commands so that they could lift more then a spoon.

Naruto on the other hand, was a very different case. As he had heard it, Naruto had simply come out of his coma and within a day, was out and about in his home and within that week, was out training for the last month or so.

It was far from a normal situation considering that fact that he was scared for Naruto's safety when the temple mission had taken a very dark twist. No one knew what had exactly happened or why, but Kakashi himself felt angered at how helpless he had been to prevent it.

Now before him stood the problem of what to do in order to get Naruto to remember whom he was. Though he doubted that he had the abilities or the knowledge to perform such an act since if there was a way, the two of the legendary three would have known or discovered shortly.

Taking but a moment for those thoughts to run through his head, Kakashi then decided that they had wasted enough time as it was. He had a team to lead today and there was a higher potential risk factor now that Naruto was with them.

It was a simple C, potential B rank mission that involved a group of bandits preying on Konoha merchants as they headed north, towards Lightening Country to trade with their various cities and Kumagakure itself.

So in response to these brazen acts of theft, the merchant guild in Konoha had formally requested that this situation be rectified as soon as possible. Though this mission would have taken the average chuunin team but a few days to complete, it was deemed to insignificant for anything higher then genin rank. This simple mission was with out a doubt going to contain a lot of violence.

Had Naruto been his old self, Kakashi wouldn't have doubted that the boy would have been jumping and hollering in joy for a mission like this. But there have been quite a few missions like this for a while now.

The sound's invasion had hindered the village greatly and for himself, the legendary copy ninja, Kasashi, these low end C/B rank mission were apart of his 'Recuperation' times in between his usual A/S rank jobs. Heck. Even this simple job had an extra baggage with it, an A rank mission for himself as soon as he found the time to accomplish it after they dealt with the bandits.

With a light sigh that he wouldn't have as much time to himself as usual, he quickly noted the responses of his team towards one another and then coughed once to get their attention before he told them of today's spectacular mission.

Naruto found that he really was agitated as he walked down the warn pathway away from Konoha, a place that he had mixed thoughts upon.

Though he had never left the village before, he felt that the place was something akin to a place of ice, where everyone gave him cold and hated looks, glances, sneers, muttered jobs and curses. It all was there, the usual norm that left bile building at the back of his throat and brimming hatred with the essence of a growing forest fire.

But it was also a place of rest for himself, a home to him since it was the only place he ever knew. The people in this place, save the Hokage herself, were nothing more then an annoyance to him. It was a stain to an otherwise decent area in the forest.

Hokage. Those two syllables seemed to hold a lot of meaning to others as they treated her with reverence, something that he had never experienced himself, but so desperately wanted to.

What did that word really mean? What was it to him? Was it important? Was it something he valued? Strived towards obtaining? Or was it a word that meant hatred towards him? Did this Hokage dislike him as well? Did he despise Hokage like he did with almost everyone else in the village?

The questions swirled around him as he walked on as the scared pathway began to enter a deeper part of the forest.

Everything began to fade however, as they continued on the pathway, the thickening forest were they occasionally passed a merchant or two on their way to sell their wares in Konoha. To Naruto himself, he was beginning to feel at peace once again as he was swimming in a sea of leaf green, dirt and bark brown littered with rock gray.

Here… here he could feel at peace and allowed the village hatred fade away like a morning mist as this place held no malice towards him. He didn't feel threatened here though it was undoubtedly more dangerous since his memories recalled stories of animals with lots of teeth and a there was always more then one of them around.

- December 25 2003

Author's Final Note.

- June 01 2010 -

I wish to begin with a simple Hello, to all those who read this.

The time is quickly approaching that is the magical number of my current age divided by 2 = years in the world of fanfiction. Both reading, base start point, and writing, far after I began to read.

I started with Ranma fics. I had one day stumbled over a story when the internet was young and Geocity was the primary host of everything. They are vague years that I simply recall with a fond fuzzy feelings and memories of CRT nostalgia.

In the many following years since I began to write a lot has changed. My writing style and ideas have matured since I began the stories presented in the short list on my profile. Many themes and ideas have also changed as good ideas flourished and faded with the passing years.

I have written a lot, most of which will never leave the scrap folders on my hard drives, and thus I am sad, yet relieved, to announce the decision to let Red Howling enter the realm of completed fiction. The idea was sketchy at best. I started the story as a impulsive idea that I badly glued together with other ideas. I have other chapters and tidbits but ultimately I will not continue the story. The ending is vague enough to be a ending to a small arc but also vague enough to end a story. I have chosen the latter.

I will allow you, the few readers who remember this account, to let your imagination take you where it may.

Re-starting the series is a no go since the 7 years that have passed has changed many things. The story was flat, simple and listless. I tried to buy some time to scrape something more together but it was futile as I ended up simply using it as a figurative one-shot to make a far superior series. At least superior in theory. =P

As for the rest of my series, Red Moon and the Zelda fic, I will finish those. The plots were thin enough that I didn't need to pretend to have something greater. Red Moon was a test in page limitation and bad poetry while Zelda was my first serious attempt at fan-fiction. These will be the ones I focus on before releasing anything else. Unreleased stories are safe since lack of updates can be ignored. A release story, on the other hand, is a promise to the people that it will be done at some point. A sad, unfulfilled promise that far too many good authors and stories succumbs to.

The big question. How long?

In all honesty, the next decade or five. My free time has become a luxury that life just simply consumes far too easily to be comfortable and yet I still cling to the amazing world of Fan Fiction. I still write semi-regularly but it is mainly original fiction that commands my attention. I have many ideas but I have also realized that I am a one trick pony in fanfics. My heroes are all the same, my plot lines equally so.

I attempt to hide it with different series, something that a quick comparison would shatter, and different characters but I feel that I had slinked off at a good time. I was no longer writing quality but slowly degrading chapters of babbling gibberish and overly dramatic poses.

The interval years has gently built my writing confidence to a level where I can openly weep at the immature style I had began with years ago. I look back at them fondly but I also realize the short comings that I had built into the foundation of the stories that I cannot fix. I prefer that they stay that way. A mark of my growth as a person, writer and dreamer.

The fiction that I will release in the future and the fiction I plan to continue will hold 2 major ideals. Quality and Completion. Red Howling failed the first and then entered the second.

If I have changed and improved in a way that creates more enjoyable stories, then my growth was huge. If not then I still have a long way to go.

I will leave with a simple message to all those who wish to pursue fanfiction. Keep on Writing.

It does not matter how good or bad a story is. Dream it. Write it. Read it. From these simple and short stories will slowly become something more. It will solidify in your vision and your writing.

You will improve with every story, every idea and every character. You will write good fiction, amazing works that will be remembered years down the road and bad fiction, works that you all but vaporize your hard drive to remove all traces of evidence.

Be bound only by your writing speed. On paper or by keyboard. At best, become so excited that you start skipping paragraphs as you desperately attempt to write it all down. At worst, a one word paragraph placeholder like 'plot' or 'sword' or 'hero speek'.

If you follow those 3 words, I can promise you that you will improve. It won't be done in leaps and bounds but it will come. Slowly, subtly and gradually. One day you will look back and laugh or cry as you re-read your early works. This is a sign of growth and be proud of what you had completed.

Like a child learning to walk you will look back at your old clumsy self and smile.

I had forgotten those word's meaning and was hit by a veritable 5 year hiatus, ignoring the genius that is Narutardo.

I am not dead but I am still learning.

So please bare with me as I continue to stumble around in the grandiose world of fiction and its many amazing ideas, stories and people. I will forever write and read but I will also encourage others to do the same.


Perfect Psionic Soldier

Time Between Updates:

2380 days


6 years, 6 months and 6 days.

2380 days can be converted to one of these units:

205,632,000 seconds

3,427,200 minutes

57,120 hours

340 weeks