"...": Speech

Italics: Thoughts

Bold: Kyuubi

Bold & Italics: Naruto talking (mentally) to Kyuubi

Whatta...?! My reviews more than doubled since the last chapter! Must be doing something right, then, hehe.

As usual, responses can be found at the bottom! THANKS!

Behind a Mask

Chapter 04: Adversities

After catching up to the blonde enigma, the both of them walked together in silence to the restaurant, 'The Emerald Leaf', they had decided to 'grab a bite' at. Finally arriving after several minutes of unnerving silence, they found the place to be a bit crowded - at least more so than Ichiraku Ramen normally was, and the smallest table available was a four-chaired one.

When the two seated themselves Naruto ordered, rather reluctantly of course, a vegetarian noodle soup. The very same as what Tenten had ordered, with the only exception that he had gone with a large portion of extra noodles together with his.

The Kunoichi had merely rolled her eyes, resisting the urge to whack him hard over the head. It wouldn't had looked good, she told herself. Plus, the tiny fact that he was her superior probably had something to do with it with it as well. She came to the conclusion that she had to be happy that she had gotten him this far. It had been nothing short of a miracle that he had complied to eat anything that was not ramen.

They got their meals out almost instantly, and Tenten started eating at her usual, human, rate. She was hungry, it was past noon and the patrolling and sparring had demanded quite a lot of her, but she wasn't about to act rude and gulp down the whole meal right away. After satisfying her stomach with a few hasty mouthfuls, she slowed down and cast an eye at the young man across the table.

Normally, if he had been eating ramen, not that he actually was eating anything right now though, he would've downed that bowl, along with an additional dozen, in just under the a minute. Instead, he sat there, eyeing the content warily and poking 'some green stuff' with a chopstick. His experience as a Shinobi, as well as a human, told him that anything that colourful had to be poisoned. He stole a glance of Tenten's bowl, noting that her meal was also portrayed in the same array of disoriented colours.

Naruto then eyed the waitress. She seemed nice enough, not suspicious at all. Well, not 'I'm poisoning my customers'-suspicious, anyway, although he did think that it was weird that she seemed to be blushing a bit when she noticed him looking at her. Shrugging that rather silly and weird thought aside, he instead cast another suspicious glance at Tenten. It didn't look she was showing symptoms of poisoning, so maybe that whole idea had been far off from the beginning.

She did, however, show symptoms of something else, the blonde man noted. At first, she looked curious, probably towards his strange behaviour, but that was replaced with subtle rage. Subtle rage wasn't good, he knew that much. A certain event from yesterday, involving a katana and what used to be a three centimetre long goatee, reminded him of that. Subtle rage definitely wasn't good...

He plastered his everyday grin on his face and reluctantly fitted one of those... green things... between his chopsticks and put it in his mouth.

"Mhmm..." Naruto tried making it sound as sincere as possible, and to his great surprise, it wasn't all that hard. It was far from the best thing he had ever eaten of course, but it wasn't that bad either.

Looking up briefly, half expecting a grimace on Tenten's face, he was puzzled for a moment when he saw her looking past him towards the direction of the door, obviously following someone's movement, with a smug expression on her face. Expanding his senses out of curiosity, he felt two distinct chakra signatures entering. He estimated the two of them to be around Chuunin level, definitely less powerful than Tenten.

He turned around slightly and got a good view of the Shinobi's, or rather Kunoichi's entering but quickly faced Tenten again upon realizing who they were. Oh crap. Why do I always find myself in these situations?

There was no mistaking it. Haruno Sakura, flanked closely by Yamanaka Ino made their way inside before they noticed Tenten sitting at a table, looked towards each other and decided with a nod to move towards the brown-haired Kunoichi. He felt this, and snuck a peek at Tenten.

His jaw almost hit the table when he saw she was actually waving at them, motioning for them to come and join herself and the blonde. The same smug expression was still persistent on her face for a moment, until she noticed Naruto looking at her and then decided to replace it with a painfully obvious fake-innocent face as she pretended to be oblivious about the whole situation

"What?" She asked, playing clueless. I'm sorry, Naruto... but I can't pass up this chance at getting to know more about you, now can I? It's your own fault for not telling me anything before, Tenten told herself.

"Humph." The blonde boy pouted, readying a speech about how he knew exactly what she was doing, and how he wouldn't have tolerated it if they were still working (or so he liked to think, at least). As he was about to tell her this however, the visitors had already arrived and cut him off before he even had a chance to get started.

"Hello Tenten! How are...." Either Ino or Sakura began - who it was he couldn't tell as he was busy trying to hide his face as much as it was possible. She, whoever it was, continued. "Ooh, who's this? You two wouldn't happen to be on a date, would you?" The question was obviously directed towards Tenten, but he could still literarily feel the gaze of two people burn through his back.

"No! No, of course not!" The older Chuunin defended herself, waving her arms in front of her. Her cheeks were flushed, however, and had they been able to see Naruto's cheeks, they would've noticed that his were as well. "He's my new captain."

"Oh yeah, you told us you were going to join." The other girl, who he by now was certain was Sakura, said. "You don't mind if we sit at your table, do you? All the smaller once are full..."

"No, of course I don't mind..." Tenten answered a little hastily, not allowing Naruto to object. He looked at her with an equally annoyed and helpless expression, while she just grinned back.

"Thanks. I'm Haruno Sakura," The pink-haired girl said, directed towards Naruto, as she sat down on the opposite side of him - next to Tenten. "That is Ino...-pig." She continued, the last part barely audible.

"What was that?" Ino growled as she sat down next to the blonde boy.

"Huh? What? Nothing..."

"Never mind pinky over there, she just likes to nag on people because of her defected forehead. I'm Yamanaka Ino, nice to meet you."

"My pleasure, Ino-san, Sakura-san." He said, for the first time looking them straight in the eyes.

Tenten smirked, waiting for the obvious reaction that was bound to come, at least from Sakura. However, no reaction of the sort Tenten had hoped for came.

How can they not recognize him? Sakura was even his team mate, she thought, looking over towards Naruto again. She noticed that something was different about him, but didn't know exactly what... His face? Wait a minute, his cheeks, it was then that she noticed; his birthmarks?! They're gone! Genjutsu...? But, that's cheating!

"So you're Tenten's captain? How old are you?" Ino asked.

"Seventeen." He admitted, although reluctantly. He didn't like to lie, simply hiding the truth felt better.

"Ah, then you're as old as us!" Ino squealed in delight. Suspicious delight. "And already an ANBU-captain? You must be pretty skilled! When did you join the ANBU?"

"When I was fourteen."

"Fourteen?! There's actually people joining at that age?" Sakura asked, baffled. Sasuke was supposed to be a genius, but he was no-where near the skill of an ANBU at age fourteen.

"There's records of Shinobi's becoming captains at age thirteen..."

"Oh..." Ino looked thoughtful for a moment. "So you're a Jounin?"

"Special-Jounin." Naruto was beginning to get slightly annoyed by all these questions. How did real geniuses, like Kakashi, stand all these questions? Naruto had never considered himself special in anyway, aside from a huge monstrosity imprisoned in his stomach, of course.

"I have to go, I promised a friend I'd spar with him today. Being stuck with a couple of students is boring him to death." He excused himself as soon as he had finished his food, or at least most of it. He left the extremely colourful 'thingies' on the plate.

"But we just came, can't you stay a little longer?" Ino pleaded.

"Sorry, Ino-san. I'll see you tomorrow, Tenten. Same time, same place, but you probably know that." He grinned, leaving some money - what he estimated would enough to pay for his food but in reality was enough to pay for both him and Tenten, and then left. Tenten and Ino looked disappointed about his rather abrupt disappearance, while Sakura looked a bit puzzled.

He looked familiar, somehow... But I don't know where I could've seen him before, Sakura thought, but decided to keep her thoughts to herself, convinced that she was imagining things.

"Tenten, you're lucky!" Ino said, being the first one to break the silence.

"I am? How?"

"He was cute! And he must be skilled too!" She said before leaning closer to the table, whispering conspiratorially "Perfect boyfriend-material."

Tenten merely rolled her eyes at the younger girl. "Then why don't you make a move on him yourself, Ino-pig?" Sakura asked.

"Aww, don't be so boring, forehead-girl! Besides, I might just do it." The blonde girl giggled.


"Hey guys!" Naruto greeted as he walked into the clearing the training area that, informally, belonged to Konoha's genin Team Nine.

"Naruto-nii-san!" Konohamaru was the first one to reply, or rather shout. "Look, I've mastered the Goukakyuu no Jutsu last night, so you're gonna teach me a new one now!"

"I am? Well, let me see it first." The blonde-haired ANBU grinned.

"Ok!" Konohamaru said confidently, turned towards a near-by tree and, after doing the appropriate hand seals, shouted "Goukakyuu no Jutsu!"

He took in a deep breath and let it out through the hole his thumb and index finger had created in front of his mouth. But instead of air, a roaring fireball shot out, turning the top half of the tree to cinders. After watching the result; a half burnt-down tree, Naruto saw that he hadn't mastered it completely yet. "Sorry kiddo, not yet. You don't concentrate enough, and you're not holding enough chakra in your lungs. Practice a bit more, and I'm sure you'll get it by tonight." He said, looking at Konohamaru who was now pouting.

"Well, I did warn you it was going to be tough to master... Now go join your friends and master the tree-walking. Better chakra-control allows you to master Jutsu's faster." He grinned.

"All right!" The brown-haired genin shouted as he turned around and darted off towards the tree where his team-mates were training.

"I didn't expect the three of them to still be here, Genma. Extra training for the Chuunin exam, huh?" He said, turning towards the Jounin-instructor.

"Indeed. Unlike a certain Shinobi I know, I want them to pass on their first try." He said, a smug smile forming on his lips.

"Bah! You know I would have passed on my first try too, if it wasn't for that stupid invasion. Especially the way I pummelled that Hyuuga."

"Sure you would." The older nin teased. He had to admit it, though not openly, that he had been impressed by that fight.

Seeing a twelve-year-old handle that kind of power, power entitled to demons, wasn't something you saw everyday. It had shaken the whole village more than anyone really cared for. The one always considered a failure, a demon-spawn; came out victorious out of a fight everyone thought he had been destined to loose. While most ended up hating Naruto even more after that day, he had earned his respect from some of them.

"Sometimes I just want to shove that toothpick down your throat, or rather up somewhere else, you know that?" The blonde grinned.

"How many times do I have to tell you, it's not a toothpick it's a---"

"---It's a senbon-needle, yeah yeah, I know." Naruto cut him off.

"Good. Why are you here, by the way? Shouldn't you be off training around now, as usual?"

"I was hoping to be able to train with you, since Jiraiya is off on some mission, and it'd be nice to spar with an equally skilled person for a change. But since you're busy, I'll get going."

"Feh. You're hopeless."

"You know I try." The young ANBU stuck out his tongue at the Jounin and disappeared in a flash.


Thirty minutes after being rather abruptly left behind by a certain blonde ANBU-captain, Tenten now found herself making her way towards the house she lived in. It was bad enough that he had just left her there to face a never-ending supply of questions asked by Ino. Questions mostly about him. But to think they actually hadn't recognized him.

It was sad, and she found herself subconsciously furious on behalf of Naruto. Especially at Sakura. The pink-haired girl was supposed to be his old team-mate. Geez, why am I getting so worked up over this anyway? It's not like I care...

As she got inside and closed the door, she heard her mom calling out to her. "Hi Dear."

"Hey mom. You're back already?" Tenten asked her mother. She had, along with her husband - Tenten's father, been on a b-ranked mission in a foreign village. They had been away for several days already, but weren't expected to be home until tomorrow.

"Yes, we came back earlier this afternoon. Are you hungry? I made dinner already, come and join me and your father in the kitchen and tell us all about your day, and what it's like in the ANBU."

"I'm not hungry, I just got back from a restaurant." Tenten said as she made her way into the kitchen and sat herself on one of the chairs, opposite to her father.

"Alone?" Her fathers baritone voice asked.

"No, together with my captain in the ANBU, Sakura and Ino." How would they react when they found out that Uzumaki Naruto was her captain? Did they hate him like everyone from the older generations seemed to do? She hadn't thought about that, but on the other hand, would it really be a problem? It wasn't her decision who her team-mates were anyway.

"Who are they? I mean your captain and team-mate..." Her mother asked, with the same curiosity that Tenten seemed to posses most of the time.

"My captain's name is Naruto and the 3rd memb---"

"---Naruto? The one that beat that Hyuuga in the Chuunin exam?" Her father asked, unsure of how to take the news. He had been there, all those years ago. He had lost many friends fighting Kyuubi until the fourth managed to seal the beast away into that poor boy.

He didn't feel any hatred towards Naruto himself, but did he trust him, and that seal, enough to let him take responsibility off his little girl? That was a completely different matter all together.

"Yes, what about it?" Tenten perked up. Maybe this was a good opportunity to get a clue or two on what the blonde could have done in the past...

"Erm... Nothing. He's captain in the ANBU already? It wasn't more than seventeen years ago that..." He tried to change the topic, to no avail. Silently cursing himself for letting his tongue slip, he tried to correct himself. "I mean, he can't be more than seventeen years old."

"Seventeen years ago, what?"


"Nothing." This time the word came from Tenten's mother instead. "I'm sorry honey, but we can't tell you."

"Why not?"

What happened seventeen years ago? Tenten asked herself. Well, of course there was Kyuubi - she had heard about a demon attacking the village and killing many. But it was absurd to believe that Naruto had had anything to do with that. He quite possibly wasn't even born back then. No, there had to be something else.

"Why can't you tell me?"

Her father sighed deeply. He did not like the idea of that kid being his daughters captain, but he had to admit the gaki was in a totally unfair situation. The unofficial rule imprinted on the people that prevented them from telling others about his special 'relationship' with Kyuubi might have been his only chance, and the boy deserved at least that much. But once people that had no idea what had happened to Kyuubi all those years ago grew suspicious of why he was treated the way he was, it began to create problems. What could one tell people that began asking questions? 'A rule says that I can't answer. A rule you shouldn't even know about.'?

There had to be a better way, but yet he came to the conclusion that there simply wasn't. And it was still better that she gave up this quest, since if she really did find out, there was a chance that she wouldn't be able to trust him. His nearly 40 years of experience which he had gained through countless of battles and deceptions told him that a team without trust did not function.

"There's a rule. No one is allowed to speak of it." He finally said, ending the rather long silence.

"Oh." That was certainly not what she had expected to hear, and naturally it complicated things for her. Especially since she was still as hell bent as ever to find out the answer.

"If he himself, or Hokage-sama, decides you need to know, I guess they'll tell you. If not, there's not much we can do about it dear." Her mother added.

"Fine..." She reluctantly agreed and stood up, her chair screeching in protest as its legs were dragged backwards across the wooden floor. With a wave goodbye, she left her parents and slouched upstairs to her room, poised to think more about the new information she had gained.


Naruto dropped himself wearily on the couch in his apartment after letting himself inside. He had been training all afternoon, the first couple of hours spent on perfecting a few techniques and, after the sun had set down behind the horizon, he spent another couple of hours running - in an effort to raise both stamina as well as speed.

Needless to say, he was extremely tired at this very moment.

His diminished thought-process presented him three options, right now. He could A; sleep now and eat ramen/shower as soon as he woke up. B; shower first, and then eat ramen before turning in for the night, or C; Eat ramen now and then shower after waking up tomorrow morning.

Of course, he could also improvise, he thought after trying to choose between the various options for a minute or two. He could eat ramen first, and then take a shower. Then, as he came out of the shower and got dressed, he could eat an additional cup of instant ramen! Naruto! You're a genius! He praised himself, and with new-found strength managed to pluck himself off of the couch and move into the kitchen.

He prayed a silent prayer to the ramen-god, since there surely must exist one of those somewhere along the divine vault, and offered him his apologies for deserting him and his heavenly food earlier. Five minutes later, the blonde had cooked and devoured two cups of ramen and was now heading for the shower.

Just as he was about to enter the bathroom, several impatient knocks resounded through his apartment, coming from the front-door. After muttering curses to himself and asking who in their right mind would disturb him at this time of day, he had half a mind on just ignoring whoever was standing outside his home. He decided against it however, since he had a feeling it'd be important - it was rather late after all.

Three additional rapid knocks could be heard before Naruto had made it to the door.

"Ero-sensei," He greeted his visitor. "Shouldn't you be out peeking at poor defenceless ladies about now, you old pervert?"

"How many times haven't I told you not to call me that? And for the last time, I'm not a pervert!" The tall white-haired man glared at his student.

"I know, I know..." The blonde yawned. "You're actually a super-pervert. A really lame one at that." Naruto said, before a particularly rusty gearwheel in his absent and tired mind shifted. "Wait a minute, aren't you supposed to be on some mission?"

"I just got back from briefing Tsunade-hime."

"Uh-huh. And then you thought it'd be a good idea to come over here and bother me before I could get some sleep?"

"You could say that," The sannin grinned. "The real reason is that I wanted to give you some of the mission details." The white-haired nin continued with a serious voice, the tone of which told Naruto that this was going to be important. Further more, he also realized that it'd be a while until he would get an opportunity to sleep...

"Fine, come in." The blonde replied as he moved out of the way. "I'm going to get a shower first though." He said and moved towards the bathroom. The sannin positioned himself on the couch where he, once seated, took out a pen and a notebook and started scribbling down notes with a blush etched on his manic grin.

Ten minutes, and about five pages in Jiraiya's notebook later, Naruto emerged from the shower wearing casual clothes. He took a glance at his perverted sensei and muttered a curse. The white-haired sannin sat there without a worry in the world, occasionally nodding once or twice to himself and giggling before writing down another few lines. He decided that he would let the pervert be alone for an additional minute or two while he boiled water for his ramen, since he of course hadn't forgot about it. How could anyone forget about ramen?

After boiling the water and adding it to two cups of instant ramen, Naruto now found himself propped on his couch right next to his sensei, desperately trying to get the white-haired sage's attention.

"Oi! Stop writing in that perverted notebook."

The sannin growled, obviously disappointed. "Fine."

"You're the one that wanted to talk to me in the first place..."

"Yes, I thought I might as well give you a personal briefing this time, seeing that you fell asleep last time there was a public briefing."

"It's not my fault that the old hag was boring the hell out of me, is it?"

Jiraiya sighed. He, personally, didn't mind Naruto calling Tsunade a hag, although if it were anyone else, he probably would. Also, he knew better than to correct the little baka, since it didn't have any effect anyway. It reminded him a bit off his previous student, Yondaime.

"Anyway," Jiraiya started. "I've been doing a little, shall we say, spy-duty on the sound the last week. I think they're about to move soon. But from the look of it, they're going to try to round up some allies before they do. I know Orochimaru isn't dumb enough to try anything with their current army, anyway."

"What really troubles me is just who those allies might really be. Sand is out of the question, he already tried that once - and they're not foolish enough to make the same mistake twice. No, he's not going for the Hidden Sand, which only leaves the Hidden Cloud and Stone powerful enough, and the Hidden Stone has no interest in our country at all." It was true. A more reclusive country than Earth, where Hidden Stone lay, was hard to find. They didn't care much about the outside world, and only liked to mind their own business. Hidden Stone had been involved in wars before, yes, but they had never started the wars themselves.

"If he finds any ally, it'll be the Hidden Cloud. We've been to war with them before, as you know, and they're just looking for a way to destroy Konoha. I also know that Tsunade-hime's brother was killed by the Cloud, something that would greatly satisfy Orochimaru's twisted humour." A long silence followed while Naruto took in everything he had just been told.

"So we're going to war?"

"No." Jiraiya said firmly. "Not yet, we still have time to stop it. We know for a fact that Orochimaru still hasn't contacted the Cloud, so he hasn't proposed a deal to them yet. Our spies that I contacted informed me that he's about to send a group of three people to Lightning Country. We need to stop them, preferably kill them, before they reach Hidden Cloud. Kabuto is probably one of the people that Orochimaru will send..." Naruto perked up immediately at the silver-haired Shinobi's name.

"I'll go." Naruto said flatly. Ever since he found out that Kabuto had been spy working for the enemy that day five years ago, he had wanted to settle the score between them. He was also aware of the fact that he was finally powerful enough to kill him. The blonde boy had never liked killing, but he felt that sometimes it was needed - possibly even justified.

"Hold your horses there, gaki. We don't even know for sure if Orochimaru even trusts Kabuto enough for that."

"He trusted him enough to spy at us, didn't he?" The blonde shot back.

He's becoming sharper, Jiraiya thought, an amused smile tugging at his lips. "Ok, fine. I know how important this if for you, Naruto, and I already talked to Tsunade-hime about it anyway. She said she'd think about it. That she'd possibly, possibly allow your team to go, on the condition that you bring one more... experienced shinobi with you. A shinobi of her choice..."

"Thanks ero... I mean Sensei!" Naruto grinned mischievously while scratching the back of his head, sleep already forgotten. Bringing someone experienced doesn't seem too bad. In fact, it doesn't seem bad at all, he thought. If he only knew how much he'd regret thinking that...


Two days later, Naruto found himself in full ANBU-fatigue together with the rest of his team on their usual meeting place, the bridge. It was a typical morning in the comfortable climate that Fire country found itself in this time of year. The sun graced everything with its divine light as it was rising just above the trees and the birds were chirping merrily to each other'svarious tunes.

Someone, however, wasn't as merry as the feathered beings.

"I swear that if you tell us that we're going to do nothing but train today as well, I'm going to..." Was the greeting Naruto received from his male team-mate. "Can't we have a normal mission today instead? You know, something that involves us doing something else than training?" Iwashi continued.

Tenten, although silently, agreed. They had done nothing but running, sparring and perfecting techniques and chakra control these last two days, things she hoped she wouldn't see again after joining the ANBU. Where was the thrill, the action? Hell, patrolling was more fun than this.

"Hello, nice to see you too." Naruto said, before continuing. "Actually, we'll be leaving for a mission today. A, or maybe even S-class, in fact." He grinned profoundly beneath his mask. This would be fun.

"Really?" Tenten asked. Now this sounded interesting.

"Yes, that's why we've been training these last days. We're not going alone however, so we're just waiting for the temporary fourth member to come along - and after getting acquainted, we'll be leaving."

Interesting indeed, Tenten thought, but couldn't help but to feel a tad bit nervous. She had done very few A-class missions before, and when she had, it had always been together with her old team and sensei. This mission she was going to do together with her new team, whom she had just known for a few days. Of course their teamwork had improved over the last two days of training, but it was still far from perfect. Not to mention, who was this new mystery shinobi that was going to accompany them? She decided to ask.

"I have not a single clue, to be honest. All I know is that he, or she, is supposed to have more experience than any of us. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. He's supposed to show up any minute now..." He said in a cheerful voice, scratching the back of his head.

Two hours of waiting later, just before Naruto was about to call the meeting off and search for the Hokage, he noticed two figures moving towards them from the edge of the forest. Squinting his eyes, he was able to make their identities, and didn't like it one bit. Actually, he almost felt furious.

Coming towards them in a slow pace was one silver-haired and one raven-haired Shinobi. The first of which wore a mask, and gave the term 'fashionably late' a whole new meaning.

"Copy Ninja" Hatake Kakashi together with his prize-student Uchiha Sasuke.

Naruto definitely didn't like this...

Author's Note:

I'm so evil! :D

Weee! Another chapter down! And WOAH! Reviews! I almost peed my pants after opening my mail-box the day after I released the last chapter and noticed that I had a humongous amount of reviews in it! The last chapter got more reviews than the first three chapters together, and that's quite an accomplishment, eh? I even passed the 100-mark, after only four chapters!! Go me!

Yeah, I know it's shorter than my usual chapters. I'm sorry for that, but this was only supposed to be some sort of filler-chapter anyway. Judging by the ending, I'm hoping you'll understand that there's hopefully gonna be a lot of action next chapter! Yay!

And yes, yet again, I'm sorry for the terribly long delay. If anything, I'm gonna blame school this time... Yeah.. for fucking up my daily rhythm and keeping me busy with a bunch of annoying stuff.

Everyone in favour of burning down school, raise their hands.

Also, there is the question of how strong Naruto is in this fic. Some have been asking me if he's sannin/kage-level, and I can inform you that he is indeed not. Unless in an AU-world, or something interesting happening - like Naruto merging with Kyuubi, I cannot see a 17-year-old Naruto being at Kage-level. Yes, Itachi is 17 and he's at Kage-level, yes, but he was a genius growing up, he had a head-start. Naruto never was a genius.

In this fic, I picture him a bit stronger than Kakashi/Kabuto, and of course growing rapidly strength-wise. Not as weak as he would loose a fight versus one of them, but not so strong either that he would win without a scratch. I guess you'll find that out soon, though. :P

Yes, I am aware that this chapter feels rushed. I had a terribly hard time writing some of the scenes, actually, and it rubbed off of the quality. I'm sorry about that too - and I'm gonna blame school here as well.

As usual, I'd like to thank Erikkoekkoek for being.... well... what he is, I guess... dutch, annoying, slightly perverted and a damned good beta.

That's pretty much it, I reckon. On with the review-response! (I love this part :D)

Erikkoekkoek: Yeah, pretty much about time, me thinks... Well, 8 chapters in 2 weeks? Well, you got 1 chapter in 4 weeks, but that's just as good, isn't it? :D Thanks for reviewing and beta-ing and stuff... (asshole :P)

Princess-Tsunade: Woah, there... That's like a, 3 to 4 pages long review!! YIKES! :D I'm sorry that I don't have time to go over everything you said, since I'm in quite a hurry, but I believe I already talked to you about it over icq after I read your review the first time. Thanks a bunch for reviewing, your reviews are always the best :D I hope you enjoy this new chapter, too.

Frank Cadena: Thanks for the review... but well, Lee is pretty much all over the place though... He's in the prologue, the second and third chapter, I think... Well, you got 3 more of the old genins in this chapter! About the SakuNaru idea, yeah - guess I could've done that... But onesided inonaru is funnier, because Ino's character is just great to use that way.

Max Knight: Yes, his speed as increased, but I still think Naruto would be better - not faster, but overall better. Well, of course Naruto would lose if Lee opened the gates, but that's not gonna happen in a sparring match, I think.

Kepelus: Sorry about those mistakes, my beta usually goes over the chapter after I write them, and then I go over it alone again, but still there seems to be things that slip under our attention, so to say. Thanks for reviewing!

Darren: Read the Authors note about your question. Thanks for the compliments!

Hattuteline: Yah, I agree on most of your points. And I guess the NaruTen isn't concealed, but well, it isn't supposed to be either :P They're not going to fall head over heels with each other in just one chapter either, I already got some complications planned over the next chapter, hehe. Thanks for the compliments and for reviewing! It means a lot to me!

Peradis: Thanks for the compliments! Ah, yeah, I believe you should have received my reviews too, and I love your story. As I said in a review, I normally don't go for fics like that, but yours is awesome! When is the next update, though? :P I know I shouldn't be one to whine, since I'm the epitome of laziness, but I'm looking forward to an update! Yes, you should do an unusual pairing-fic! They're so much fun to write, you have no idea! Thanks a bunch for reviewing!

Blazer6: At some points, the sand-siblings will be in this fic, yes. And well, you'll just have to guess what will happen with Sasuke :P Thanks for the review!

Alden-san: You already got your ino-dosage, I think. Temari will definitely be in it sooner or later, and I guess our lazy friend will too. Yeah, I'm sticking to Lee as a comic-relief :P He's really funny to write, the scenes where he's in is some of my favorites... Thanks for reviewing!

waat: Thanks for being this weeks biggest comic relief, and weirdest moron yet. I guess I'll take your review as a compliment, though, and that death-threat? Hilarious! Actually, just so you know, I toppled over laughing the moment I read your review, which delayed the chapter further by a minute or two. Now that your 15-seconds of fame is over, I wish you all the good things this world has to offer (even a brain-cell or two, since you seem to be missing out on those...). Thanks for reviewing!

BloodShinobi: Thanks for reviewing, mate! Glad you liked it. And yes, unusual pairings are way more satisfying than most naruhina/saku ones (even though those are great too...).

Calophi: My own personal stalker! Weee, I always wanted one of those. I guess I really am the lucky one, eh? Thanks for reviewing!

Xero-ghost: Hehe, no problem :P. And yes, in some fics, Naruto are overly-powerful, and it's not even fun to read... I decided that he, unless something really drastic happens (read my authors note) can't be at kage-level at age seventeen. I'll try to add more area-description next time, just for you Thanks for reviewing, I appreciate it!

Big thanks also goes out to One Azn Dragon, element4life, Gopu, skuld's Sentaru, panuru4u (twice! :D lol, thanks!), SilverMoonlight (hey, you reviewed twice as well! Thanks!), esanime, ghettomusick23, writer-golore, lazyboy, crutches, SilverNinjaHikaru, tenten, trickmaster, HellHound, Shippou-chan, Omnis Morganis, playgrrrllll, DaemonAvatar, Licht Sieger, AkiaBinZaid, swt-angel-babi3, Hanyou-Ria, AnGeL70, EfrainMan, davis4ever, evilmustardman: Thanks for reviewing, all of you!

Well, I'll see you all (I hope) next time I update! :D Please keep reviewing!!! I LOVE REVIEWS! :D