Author's Note: I am so happy that I've decided to start a new Naruto fic! The idea for this story just came out of nowhere to me and I was filled with exciting ideas once again. And finally after a tedious week, I found some spare time to actually type it out! I'm hoping that I will handle this fic tastefully in the action/adventure category. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Masashi Kishimoto


"How long has it been?"

"See for yourself."

A young man took the clipboard from his assistant's hand and sighed heavily. They were so close to the end yet these last pieces of the puzzle were without a doubt, the most difficult to put together. Good thing people called him a genius. However, there was always a downside with him and that was his laziness. He flopped down on his desk and screwed up his tired eyes to read the small details on the paper.

After ten minutes of silent contemplation, his assistant began to lose her patience. Her brows furrowed at the long wait and her light blue eyes glared at the man whose own eyes seemed glued to one spot on the paper. A tapping noise suddenly snapped him out of his stupor. He glanced around and realized the origin of the annoying sounds.

"Can you please stop that?" His assistant stopped tapping her foot but glowered at him even more. He lowered the clipboard and slightly frowned at the woman's right foot that had been tapping against the shiny linoleum floor. Women and their high-heeled shoes. Great. He went back to the clipboard with a yawn. He definitely needed some coffee. Another ten minutes passed by when the sound began again.

"Will you please hurry up?" snapped the woman. It was late at night and people's dispositions were not exactly pleasant. Even being in the position of an assistant didn't affect her attitude towards her superior. The day had been long and arduous and her appearance showed the strenuous effort. Her fair blonde hair that had been held up in a long neat ponytail that morning was messy, her make-up had worn off and the dark circles under her eyes became more and more prominent as the night dragged on.

"Ino, this takes time," explained the man tiredly as he leaned back in his leather chair. Nonetheless, he slid the clipboard on the desk to her apparently finished reading. Ino looked surprised and hoped that it indicated that he'd figure out what to do. "It seems today is good. Tell them to use Procedure 16."

Her impatience suddenly melted away. She looked to the floor and slowly took the clipboard off his desk. "Shikamaru-" At the call of his name, he looked up. Shikamaru knew where this was going and although he didn't want to admit that he felt the same as she did, there was a job to do.

"You know what's going to happen eventually anyway." His voice was softer but held a firm tone. Ino knew what that meant and left the room quietly with no other protests. Shikamaru continued to look at the door for several moments after it had been closed, then he reached for an earpiece to listen to the inevitable conversation that would soon follow. Settling back into his chair, he slowly rubbed his eyes and leaned back as far as he could while folding his arms behind his head for some support. Another step had been made and he hoped that it would soon be all over. Damn, I need some coffee.

Her heels clicked on the floor despondently. She knew that with every step she took, the ending was coming for that person and that she was going to be one responsible. As she reached the control room, she showed her clipboard to the operator standing by.

"Procedure 16."

"Right away ma'am." Ino put on an earpiece to listen in. Shikamaru, herself and four others were the only ones authorized to be a part of the interrogation process. The operator turned on a switch that illuminated a small room down below them. From their level, they could examine the procedure through the glass and supposedly take notes on the victim's response and behavior. Afterwards, they were to analyze such reactions and make a study of the victim's psychological condition.

Looking below, Ino saw a young woman only about a couple of years older than herself, strapped into a chair. Her dark blonde hair was completely disheveled and her skeletal frame looked dwarfed by the huge, steel chair. Her arms and legs were held down by metal cuffs that were securely bolted down, ensuring her no escape.

The operator pushed another button to open the door into the room. A man clad in a black suit nonchalantly entered and sat down directly across from her; most of his face concealed by a mask. In contrast to his dark attire however, his spiky hair was silver and it stood out against his overall appearance. At the man's entrance, the woman stirred and began trembling.

"Today's the day." The man greeted her casually as though he was talking to a longtime friend.

"Say what you want. I don't give a damn." seethed the woman as her breathing became more ragged with each breath. But her rude attitude did not faze him as he continued his conversation.

"You know that's not true," laughed the man. "If it was, you would have told me a long time ago," Hearing this, the woman wriggled against her tight restraints in an attempt to break free causing the man to laugh again at her futile efforts. "Now without any further ado, let's get you talking." He motioned to Ino above who then reluctantly gave the signal to the operator to start. Following orders, he reached for a knob that indicated Procedure 16's three levels of power.

At once the chair vibrated with electricity and the woman's cry echoed throughout the small room and in the earpieces of all those that were listening in; the despair and suffering crackled through the transmitting causing a few to wince at the thought of her torture. After five long seconds, the man ordered for the electrocution to be stopped temporarily. He glanced at the victim who was quivering from the painful shocks; her teeth rattled together as she felt the unbearable numbness that seeped through her very bones. The woman was already very weak and it was only short matter of time until the last moments of her pathetic existence was over. Unsatisfied with the results, the man sighed. He was tired of all the interrogations so he was going to speed up the process a little regardless of the toll it took on the dying woman.

Another hand motion. This time, the woman did not scream. She seemed to have passed out from the shock and no expected words of mercy or submission was uttered. Was there anything more annoying than a prisoner who wouldn't talk? Deciding that this case was a dead end, the man motioned for Ino to finish the job. It had been two years and if the woman wasn't going to confess now, then she never would.

Ino felt disgusted with herself. No matter how many times she saw it, the feeling wouldn't change. It seemed to have been set in stone inside her very heart and no stoic expression on her face could mask how she really felt. The sooner it's over, the better it'd be for her…and me. She raised a hand to signal the operator when she heard a mumbling sound in her earpiece…

"Ru-unn…R-un…way-y-y." All six of the people who heard the sound transmitted to them stopped their activities and listened intently. The silver-haired man froze and turned around to face the still unconscious woman. "R-u..un awa-a..ay….to-to.."

Shikamaru slowly turned off his radio to listen to the muffled sounds that were occasionally interrupted by the static. What is she trying to say? Is it the information we need?

Ino quietly motioned for the operator to turn up the frequency so that the other five could listen more clearly to the woman's last words…

Meanwhile, the man had inched closer to the oblivious woman and steadily stood in close proximity next to her. No doubt he was eager to hear whatever she had to say, as was everyone who was important enough to listen in on this vital moment.

"Run away where…?" whispered the man as he deliberately placed warm hand on her freezing one in hopes of assuming the false role of a loyal comrade.

"T-t-to…the…" In between her stuttered words, the man's mind was reeling with anticipation. Since they were so close to completing the puzzle, there were only so many possibilities that the young woman could be talking about. Missing codes, people and documents; all of those areas needed more information. He could settle for answers to any of them because it'd been so long since one of the prisoners had confessed anything.

Anxious for her to say the final word, he squeezed her hand. "-the s-spring orchard…" What followed this statement was nothing that was comprehendible; it was clear that the woman was no longer sane. The message was unclear to the man as well as the six. Useless.

Letting go of her hand, the man turned and walked out of the door but not before signaling to Ino once again; this time the door firmly closed behind him meaning that there would be no turning back. Acknowledging his order, Ino slowly took out her earpiece and nodded to the operator who cranked the level up to high and reached for the on switch…

His watch read 2:23 am as the silver-haired man walked out into the courtyard. Although it was a rather small one, there was an abundant of greenery. He smiled. It always did give this place a deceiving image of peace. The moon was a weak little sliver as he glanced up at the dark cloudy sky. A warm breeze relaxed his tension as he let the disappointment seep out of him. After all, he was not one to dwell on losses. It'd only created irritability and depression and those symptoms were much too cliché for him. The light warm air felt good as it sporadically rose and died at various intervals. Summer was indeed just around the corner.

"Master Kakashi?" A voice came from the man's communicator that was pinned to his collar.

"I'm listening."

"We're sorry about that."

"It's all right. We still have one more so there are still resources."

"But that one's not making good progress. You've seen the results. They've all come back negative."

"No. It'll just be a little while longer." The temptation of sleep began to lure Kakashi's body strength away from him as the wind continued to play with his vivid locks. "It's late. You should probably get some sleep Chouji. Pass the message on to the others will you?"

"Yes, sir."

Kakashi dusted himself off as he stood up and made for the door that led inside. As he passed several of the trees that stood in the middle of the courtyard, he noticed something rather peculiar about one. Setting aside his desire to go to sleep for a moment, he approached the tree and examined a small branch that protruded out further than its other leafy companions. As he looked closer, he saw a single blossom at the branch's very tip. It was rare to find such a blossom, especially one that had still not bloomed this late in the spring. Looking closer, he saw that its little petals were tinged with an innocent soft pink hue that was still rather underdeveloped at this stage. How ironic that he would find something with those qualities at this place.

Suddenly, the man's eyes widened with understanding. He laughed as he began to make his way back indoors. "Clever little girl she was. Very clever." Kakashi entered then closed the door and proceeded down the hall in the opposite direction of his bedroom, his exhaustion completely forgotten.

E/N: That was a little boring for me to write but I hope it's different for all of you readers! Don't worry; our favorite characters will make their appearances very shortly. And is it just me or do I tend to have Ino and Shikamaru appear rather frequently in my fics? Anyway, thanks for reading.