Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. But man… It would be so BADASS if I did…

Okay, here's the thing…

I'm sorry. I haven't updated in a long while and you've all been getting antsy because I've been one of those jerks that takes so long to update you figure I've pretty much abandoned the story.

Sorry, I've had a lot of stuff to do with getting my degree in animation and working on a web comic on the side(check my profile for a link to that if your interested).

ALSO: I've been notified by several people that there is a striking similarity between my 3rd chapter of of this fic and the 2nd chapter of HEIR TO THE THRONE. I've checked it out and yes it is almost exactly the same. I've already left a note to the author. It's no big deal really. I'll just simply say that I WROTE IT FIRST. Enough said.

Now then, on to the fun stuff… Sorry, I know this chapter isn't as good as it could be. I just need to get through some of this canon before I get to other stuff.

Chapter 9

When she first woke up, the young Hyuuga girl's first thoughts were to question on where she was. The room was white from wall to wall with a window to filter in the faint light of what appeared to be the early morning sun. Taking a deep breath as she slowly sat up in her bed, the faint odor of sanitized air wavering through her nostrils.

With less bleary eyes than she had a moment ago, she surveyed the room once more and came to the conclusion that she was in the hospital.

'Oh… I remember now.' The young girl thought as she recalled her battle with her cousin Neji in the preliminary round of the third trail. As she recalled the fight, and all and sudden wave of soreness washed over her body. "ugh!"

"Hinata?" Blinking through the brief shock of pain in her body, the young girl turned to face the now opened door of her room and finding a spiky blonde haired boy looking at her in surprise. "Alright! You're wake!"

"N-naruto!" Hinata squeaked in surprise, sitting up a little more, despite her bodies protest. "W-what are you doing here?"

"I came to see if you were doing any better." Naruto grinned brightly. "After three days I was starting to get worried."

"Three days?" Hinata titled her head to the side in confusion, before it dawned on her. "I've been unconscious for three days?"

"Yeah. But the doctor said you'd be fine. You'll just take a while to heal." Naruto nodded before pointing to table to Hinata's right. "Check it out! Somebody told me you're supposed to bring get well flowers when people get hurt. So I got you those."

Hinata turned her head to look at the table and saw a bright bouquet of all kinds of flowers. Hinata couldn't help but giggle, it was quite obvious that Naruto had picked them himself.

For every kind of flower in the bouquet was orange.

"It's lovely Naruto. Thank you very much." Hinata smiled happily as she face the blonde boy whose grin seemed to be even larger than before.

"Your welcome!" The blonde smiled as he pulled up a chair next to Hinata's bed. " Man, too bad about losing in that match though. It would've been cool if we both could have made it to the finals."

"Yeah…" The pale girls smile began to fall as she recalled the sound beating her cousin had delivered to her several days earlier. Looking back on it, Hinata realized she hadn't stood a chance against him. 'What will father think?'

"But man! You were awesome!" Naruto continued on, completely oblivious to the young girls faltering mood.

"Huh?" Hinata looked up at Naruto excited face in surprise.

"Yeah!" Naruto nodded vigorously. "That whole gentle fist thing… Man! That was so cool! You two really duked it out!"

Hinata once again began to giggle as the blonde ninja began to mimic several of his apparent favorite moves from her fight.

"And you really showed that jerk Neji!" Naruto grinned.

"W-what?" Hinata blinked. "S-show him? But… I lost."

"Yeah." Naruto said, looking Hinata square in the eye, pale violet, meeting shocking blue. " But every time he beat you down. You kept getting right back up. No matter what, you didn't let him get away with giving you that crap!"

Hinata's face was a bright shade of red as the blonde went on with much energy. Every time he commented on her fighting or how she had stood up to her cousin, made her turn a shade redder.

"And don't worry." He went on. "I'll be giving that jerk Neji a peace of my mind when the tournament starts up."

"You will?" Hinata looked at the blonde worriedly.

"Yep. We're the first match in the tournament." Naruto explained, a feral grin spreading across his face. "I'll shove all that crap about destiny and fate right up his ass!"

Despite his confident words, the dark haired girl looked worried as she thought about her cousin. Neji was on an entirely different level… Did the blonde really stand a chance? She didn't want to see him get hurt, her older cousin could be quite brutal when he wanted to be and the Hyuuga style, despite its 'gentle' name could be very effective in dishing out said brutality.

"Just… Please be careful Naruto." Hinata whispered, her hands clenching together tightly in her lap.

"Heh, don't worry Hinata. Kakashi sensei told me yesterday that he had a special teacher in mind for me to help train me for the fight."

"O-okay…" Hinata nodded, suddenly becoming aware that she felt very tired all of a sudden.

"Ah, you should let her rest now. She's going to need quite some time to recover." A soft voice whispered from the door.

Turning around in his chair, Naruto saw one of the nurses leaning her head into the room.

"Oh. Okay." Subduing himself, now that Hinata appeared to be asleep, Naruto pushed his chair back into place and left the young girl to rest as the nurse closed the door behind him.

Only a short distance from the young Hyuuga girl's room, a much more sinister scene was taking place. Several rooms down, the young green beast of Konoha, also known to many as Rock Lee was laying in his bed fast asleep. The round eyed and bowl haired cut boy was currently in the worst predicament of any ninja's life.

He was utterly helpless.

Due to the severity of his injuries during his fight with the sand genin Gaara of the sand, the doctors felt that it would be best to keep the ninja sedated for the first several days of his recovery, one reason being for the pain, the second being that if the boy were currently awake, he'd be trying to do one arm push ups and one legged jumping jacks all day long. So while his work ethic was admirable, the medical staff of the hospital felt his common sense was lacking.

And for that reason, Konoha's number one Genin taijustu expert was currently rendered helpless, just a dangerous and totally blood thirsty figure came into his room.

Hatake Kakashi was not known by many to be an overly sentimental person. A certain level of detachment and desensitization is necessary of a Jounin of his caliber and ex-ANBU captain.

But then again, not many people knew that Kakashi, the copy-cat ninja spent a great deal of his spare time, simply staring at memorial stone of all the ninja's whom had lost their lives in the service of their village.

"You know Obito… I know I've said this before but… god… I wish you were here. I wish… I could have known what you would've done." Kakashi sighed as he ran his ungloved hand over the smooth surface of the stone. His index finger lightly tracing several of the names etched into it.

"You know, Arashi never did tell me very much about Obito." A feminine voice, soft as silk yet as a strong as steel passed by Kakashi's ear.

"You must be regaining more of your strength." The gray haired man said as he turned away from the stone to face the red headed woman. "I almost didn't sense you."

"I'm getting a little stronger day by day." The young woman commented off handedly, as if they were talking about something as simple as the weather. "It will be a long, long time before I am anywhere near as strong as I once was."

"Leaving you weak and vulnerable in the mean time." Kakashi stated, his one normal eye trained squarely on the Fox demon. "Tell me, what does it feel like, for the first time ever, to have to fear for your life like the rest of us mortals?"

The bitterness was evident, much to Kakashi's dismay. He had intended for it to come off more casual and off handed.

"It's terrifying." Kyuubi answered truthfully, looking towards the memorial stone as she spoke. Kakashi was caught a bit off guard by this, but didn't let it show.

"So what brings you here?" He already knew the answer, but he felt he just had to say it a loud anyways. "I would think that Naruto would be pesting you to teach him some 'amazing' demon justu or something around that line."

Kyu gave a short laugh.

"There's nothing more that I can teach him." She sighed. "He understands the basics of how to control his powers, aside from a move here or there… There is little I know that could help him… Most thousand year old fox demons with infinite power don't waste there time learning human 'justus'."

"As to why I'm here? Simply to talk to you. I just spoke with my son a little while ago… I felt that it was time you and I spoke."

"And what do we have to speak of?" Kakashi asked, leaning casually on his right leg, in his normal carefree manner, hands buried into his pockets.

"You hate me." Kyuubi stated simply, surprising the copy-nin with her bluntness.

"… I don't… Hate you." Kakashi said uneasily as the conversation quickly took on a much more personal nature.

"Really? You don't hate me? Not after what I brought upon this village?" Kyuubi cocked her head to the side as she looked at Kakashi. "Because I sure do."

"What?" His eyes narrowing in a mixture of suspicion and confusion, Kakashi looked carefully into the ruby red eyes of woman standing before him.

And found a nothing but red pools of grief and sadness.

"I hate myself for what I have done to the man I loved." The fox woman stated. "He loved this village, and everyone who resided in it. My carelessness not only killed him, but took away the lives of those he cherished…. I…"

Kyuubi paused for a moment as she looked more closely at the stone memorial, something on it, catching her sharp eyes.

"Oh Rin…" A tear fell down her pale cheek and past the red whisker marks as she read the name.

"It was during the attack." He didn't know why, but he suddenly told her how the young girl had died. Maybe as extra barb in the fox woman sides perhaps?

"I have caused so much pain here." The woman sighed, falling to her knees in front of the memorial. "My husband… My friends… The villagers…. My own son… My very first child..."

Looking at this woman now, Kakashi suddenly felt as though he had done something wrong. The guilt, the pain… A powerful fox demon she might have been… but she felt love, joy, anger, hate, sadness…. Grief… Just like any other human.

"You said… I hated you." Kakashi said, getting the redhead's attention. "That's… not true."

Kyuubi looked up at Kakashi in confusion.

"I did." Kakashi explained. "For a long time… But now, I'm just angry and frustrated.

"I thought everything that had happened was your fault. You were a powerful fox demon. What should you care about what happens to us mere mortals? But… I was wrong. Yes, a lot of good ninjas died in that attack. But so have many ninja's died in the war with the stone, or the war with the sand. Whether it's a rival nation or a terrorizing demon. We ninjas were raised to fight and ultimately die for our village, for those that we love and cherish who live here. Even you did.

The Redhead looked up at Kakashi in surprise. Kakashi went on. "You really didn't expect to survive that Justu 12 years ago, did you?"

"…No." Kyuubi admitted guiltily. "And I would have left Naruto with nothing…"

"Well, you haven't. He has you… and slowly but surely, he's getting the rest of the village on his side too."

"You're right." Kyuubi nodded, standing back up and brushing herself off. "You know… for thousands of years, it's always amazed me, how humans can become so wise is such a short speck of life."

"It's because we know we only have that short speck of time that we have to cram as much wisdom into us as we can." Kakashi shrugged, a grin involuntarily forming under his mask. "We can't take our time about it like you demons do."

At that, the redheaded woman laughed both bitter and mirthful.

"You really… don't hate me?" Kyuubi asked, looking at the gray haired man in amazement.

Looking briefly at the memorial once more before turning back to Kyuubi, Kakashi looked at the demon with an entirely new feeling. There was no more anger or frustration. No hate, no malice, or even the slightest bitterness.

"My sensei loved you. He could see into your heart and tell what kind of person you were, be it demon, animal, or human. He trusted you, cared for you, and would have died for you. You are the mother of one of my students who I consider to be my friend and one of the few precious people I have left… No. I don't hate you. I can't hate you, and I don't think I ever will."

Smiling serenely, Kyuubi walked over to the copy-nin, staring into his one normal eye, as if she was searching for something.

Whatever it was, she must have found it, because with a simple nod of satisfaction she placed a quick peck on his mask covered cheek and ruffled his gray hair like he was child..

"You're definitely a lot more talkative now, than when you were a kid."

Shikato Nara was in a bit of a moral dilemma. Of course, such a dilemma is natural for a man in his line of work. Having to make decisions as a ninja that may challenge his own morals and ethics was common place for him.

Unfortunately, this was a moral dilemma of a much more dangerous nature.

A marriage dilemma.

He should have expected this sort of thing when he married a civilian… the only ones who knew about the Kyuubi attack where the adult ninja and older villagers. And while some of his fellow ninjas may have kept the secret with their loved ones, Shikato had followed the Third Hokage's word to the letter. The secret of the Kyuubi child was never to be mentioned.

Not even within the trust of the woman you were married to.

But now… Without knowing it, his wife had invited the demon container to their very home. And while from first looks, Shikato thought the boy to be fairly harmless…

But still, if his wife ever found out, she'd go ballistic.

The elder Nara sighed as he sat himself down at his small kitchen table to think, his wife busying herself with cooking at the moment.

If she ever found out that he'd intentionally never told her about this… Shikato shuddered at the thought.

Still, she seemed to like Naruto well enough. And Apparently even though Shikamaru thought he was loud and annoying, he was still considered an 'okay guy.'

"… So what do you think?" Shikato's wife asked, pulling the shadow using ninja out of his thoughts.

"Huh?" He looked blankly at her, as she frowned at his lack of attention.

"I said, do you think that Shikamaru will invite that nice Naruto boy over again?" Mrs. Nara said as she frowned at her husband. "It's nice to see him finally making friends outside of Chouji and Ino. Besides, Naruto is so energetic, he'd make for a good influence on our son."

'Would you say that if you knew what was inside that kid?' Shikato thought as he watched his wife return to her cooking.

Naruto… Wasn't a bad kid. Heck, as much as he wasn't sure he wanted to admit it, if he knew nothing about the demon fox Shikato probably would have thought the same thing as his wife.

'I guess… Ignorance is bliss.' Shikato sighed as he watched his son enter the kitchen, looking at bit perturbed.

"Hey son. So how's Chouji doing?" Shikato asked referring to his son's visit to the hospital to check on his team mate.

"Uh, he's fine." Shikamaru said offhandedly, more pressing things on his mind.

"You okay?" Shikato asked.

"Huh?... Yeah, I'm fine… I'm just…" Shikamaru paused to think for a moment. "Hey dad, what do you know about those sand ninjas?"

"The Sand ninjas?" Shikato asked, taking a moment to think about the question. "The ones who made it to the finals? Not much, aside from the fact that they come from the only major ninja village to have such a huge military cutbacks due to the recession in the wind country. Why do ask?"

"… Never mind." Shikamaru said, before heading out the back door to go to his favorite cloud watching spot.

"Huh… wonder what's bothering him?" Shikato murmured out loud.

The next morning, Naruto was waiting anxiously for his sensei to arrive with his new teacher.

As he paced back in forth on the small bridge at Team Seven's meeting spot. Thoughts from the day before began to resurface in his mind.

Recalling his meeting with Shikamaru after he had left Hinata's room, the two had been on their way to visit Chouji… that is, until they had noticed that creepy red haired sand nin going into Rock Lee's room.

It was a good thing that Shikamaru had been there to stop that freaky sand ninja from killing Lee.

'My soul reason for existing is to take the lives of others.' The San ninja, Gaara had said.

"What kind of existence is that?" Naruto mumbled to himself. In the end, Gaara had left… But in his wake, left a slew of unanswered questions, the biggest being just how much alike was he and the deranged redhead?

"Man that guy had scary eyes." Naruto said as he thought back to the blood lust in those hollow green orbs of Gaara's eyes.

"Hey Naruto! Been waiting long?" Kakashi greeted as he jumped out of a puff of smoke.

"Huh? Oh! Kakashi-sensei! So you've got my 'special teacher' huh?" Naruto asked excitedly as he looked around.

"Yep! Since I'll be off training Sasuke for a while I'll be leaving you in the capable hands of a special tutor, Ebisu."

Hearing his name, said tutor made his presence known. "Greetings Naruto. After speaking with Kakashi here, I understand you and I will have to spend the majority of our time working on re-learning the basics."

Naruto's only response was to stand there in horror.

"Naruto?" Kakashi asked, waving his hand in front of his pupil's face.

"CLOSET PERVERT!" Naruto exclaimed, jabbing an accusing finger towards Ebisu.

Kakashi sweat-dropped.


It was nearing night fall as Anko sat at one of the many park benches littered around Konoha. A small bag of treats resting in her lap as she surveyed her surrounds vacantly.

'I really need to tell Iruka…' Anko thought. 'I just know he's not going to take it well. He'll probably pass out from shock.'

An image of Iruka fainting like a damsel from those old classic films that Anko saw when she was a kid came to mind and she couldn't help but snicker at the thought.

Popping another piece of candy into her mouth, the young Mitarashi woman noticed a familiar mop of blonde hair trudge past her.

"Hey kid, what's wrong with you?" Anko couldn't help herself as she got the kid's attention.

"Huh?" Turning to look at the snake ninja, the boys eyes widen in surprise. "Ack! It's you!"

"Heh, you remember me huh?" Anko grinned mischievously, noting the small cut she had made on his cheek several days before was gone now.

"Yeah! You're that crazy lady who's been taking up all of Iruka-sensei's time!" Naruto pointed at her accusingly.

Blinking in surprise, Anko stared at the little blonde kid.

"Oh…So you know about that huh?" Anko shrugged popping another piece of candy into her mouth.

"Yeah! I found out yesterday! So you're the reason he's always busy when I go looking for him." Naruto huffed.

"So? Gonna cry about it?" Anko shot back.

"Hmph! No!" Naruto pouted, crossing his arms over his chest.

'Jeeze, I'm arguing with a twelve year old…' Anko thought. "Here, kid have a seat."

Scooting over, Anko made room for the blonde boy to sit down next to her. Hesitantly, the body took the spot with much suspicion.

"So what's bugging you?" Anko asked, recalling the boy's earlier disposition.

"Nothing… Well… I got stuck with this lame teacher." Naruto sighed.

"Lame? I didn't realize Kakashi was so boring." Anko laughed.

"Not Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto exclaimed. "That close pervert Ebisu."

"Closet pervert! Heh, heh!" Anko laughed. "I had a feeling he was a bit of a pervert. He tries to hide it by acting all high and mighty."

"Yeah! He's so lame! All I needed was to use my Harem Jutsu and he was out cold!"

"Harem… Justu?" Anko raised an eyebrow.

"Well you see…" Naruto began.

"No!... I'm pretty sure I don't want to know." Anko raised her hand to silence him.

"Fine." Naruto huffed.

"So you got stuck with a lame teacher? Why isn't Kakashi teaching you?" Anko asked curiously.

"Said he had to focus on training Sasuke…" Naruto grumbled, and then under his breath. "Like I'm not good enough to train…"

"Makes sense." Anko shrugged.

"Eh!" Naruto turned to the snake woman indignantly. "What makes you think that!"

"Because Hatake Kakashi is the only shinobi that can teach the Uchiha kid how to use his sharingan eyes." Anko explained simply. 'At least the only shinobi still apart of the leaf that can train that kid…'

"Oh…" Naruto deflated. "I guess… that makes sense."

"You still think you got jipped though don't cha?" Anko asked seeing the boy's crestfallen look.

"How I am supposed to compete with Sasuke when I'm training under a loser like the closet pervert?" Naruto sighed.

Anko stared at the orange clad boy for a few minutes as he sat there pouting. She wouldn't admit it then and there, but she was starting to like the kid. Sure he was loud, obnoxious, and had horrible taste in clothing, but… Maybe she was starting to see something in him that Iruka did too…

Iruka... Anko smiled softly, her hand unconsciously coming to rest on her stomach. Iruka was a good person, and could see the good in others as well… Did he see something good in her as well?

"You know Iruka talks about you a lot." Anko smirked, as she suddenly caught the blonde's attention.

"He does?" Naruto asked excitedly.

"Yeah. All the time, heck almost can't get the guy to shut up about you." Anko grinned as Naruto's face lit up. "Wanna know what I've gathered from all the things he's told me about you?"

"What!" Naruto asked excitedly.

"You're loud, you don't pay attention, and you pull too many pranks." Anko almost laughed as the boy nearly fell over from shock. But she popped another candy in her mouth and went on. "He also says you're strong, determined and he believes that if you try hard enough, you can do anything you set your mind to."

The boy's face lit up once more, a grin of sheer joy spreading across his face.

"Sure that Ebisu might be a bit lame…" Anko cringed. "But if you try hard enough, you'll learn everything you need to. I've learned that you're full of surprises and that you tend to pull rabbits out of your head protector when you need to." She said with a wink.

"Yeah!" Naruto shouted as he pumped his fist into the air. "I'll show Iruka-sensei! Come the final exam he'll be so proud of me he'll be saying 'there's the next Hokage! And buying extra ramen!'"

"Go get 'em kiddo." Anko grinned as the boy jumped off the bench and began to head off. But before he got even a couple steps away he stopped and turned back to face the snake woman.

"You know… I really used to hate you since you cut my face, scared the heck out of me and ate up all of Iruika-sensei's free time." Naruto said, as he looked back at the dark haired woman.

"Yeah?" Anko raised an eyebrow, not sure what he was getting at. "That so huh?"

Naruto gave his trade mark fox grin.

"But now… You're pretty cool, you're still freaky, but cool. And besides…." Naruto said, as he looked at Anko more seriously. " You make Iruka-sensei happy… There's no way I could hate somebody who does that."

With those final words, the blonde shinobi finally ran off.

Anko just stared at the boys retreating back with a hint of surprise.

'You make Iruka-sensei happy…. There's no way I could hate somebody who does that.'

Anko smiled softly, her hand once again resting on her stomach.

She made Iruka happy huh? The smile turned into a full grin. Iruka was a wonderful person… He'd be there to help her no matter what. Even help her be…

Yes. Maybe… Just maybe she could be a mother… Yeah. If Iruka believed she could do it then… Yeah...

'Now all I have to do is tell Iruka.' Anko thought. '… But man, he's totally going to pass out.'

I hope this is alright with you guys. It was actually a major pain to finally get this chapter written out.

Also, I hope some of you might take the time to go to my profile and check out my WEB COMIC.