So I am back from outer space. I have re-edited this chapter and am currently working on the next chapter. I know it has been a while and I will not waste time with excuses. I am not one for them anyways. I do hope though that you enjoy this newly edited version and wish for you guys to tell me what mistakes I have looked over and didn't see. Thank you for your patience and please enjoy.


Leader was aloft on a grand oak tree. His excellent eye sight caught what he had been hunting for the past two days and he couldn't fight the slight smirk growing upon his face. Finally he will witness for himself the kyuubi and its capabilities. He would test the powers of the nine tailed demon container and see where he matches up. In all, this day was beginning to show promising signs and who was he to not take advantage of such opportunities?

Of course he had to factor in the fact that the kyuubi wasn't alone. No, he was surrounded by the protégés of Konoha but they stood no chance against him, not even the formidable copy ninja. Now it was all the matter of how to go about surprising him.

Then he caught the flash of pink and his smirk grew into a sadistic, uncharacteristic grin. Why not kill her first, the Hokage's apprentice, the lover of the kyuubi, and beloved friend to all in Konoha? Pity, really, that he had to kill someone of such exceptional skill, someone who served the Akatsuki well. Oh well, we all must die sometime right? It was by sheer luck (or was it convenience?) that he got to play death and she was to be the first of four today. Well then, what was he waiting for?

In a mere whisper, he disappeared from view and took towards the right of their camp where he would soon place his attack upon her. In mere seconds he was about to end her life and it felt…

Warm blood spattered his vision and ran down his arm lazily winding its way through his fingers. His crimson hair dripped the coppery liquid down his neck and clung to his robes in a desperate attempt to stay before falling onto the soft ground.

Fiery jade mixed with complacent samasara eyes.

…Great.


"A war to end all wars." Neji breathed in disbelief, "Is that what you mean Kain?"

"Dunno how else to put it sir." He handed the mold infested book over and shrugged his shoulders to seem mildly unaffected but the slight tremors in his fists alerted Neji that he was quite terrified with such a concept, and truth be told, so was he.

"Oh great kamis" Kaoru's voice shook, "I knew we were going into a war but I never thought it would be the war. And if Kain is right then…then…"

"We're doomed."

"Not entirely." Neji looked up and set aside the rotting book, "We have the advantage, we know all the suits in their hand and that's enough to predict their next move and they have no need to bluff anymore."

"Akatsuki never bluffs." Kaoru interjected.

"They did." Neji's eyes narrowed in recollection, "They messed with everyone's minds by manipulating their best fighters, and gave those who survived back without much opposition knowing the delicate state of mind they'll be in and while the villages are busy taking care of their most precious fighters, they would go unnoticed for their true plot."

"Damn."

"How are we going to fight them on top of those opposing Konoha?"

"We won't."

"What? Are you crazy if we don't then surely they'll win!" Kain interjected.

"That is to say," he began, "You and Kaoru will not further participate concerning the Akatsuki. Once we meet up with Toru and the rest at Konoha we will go from there."

"Sir, I only have one question."

Neji inclined his head to tell her he was listening while Kain kept muttering curses under his breath.

"Why would this man, Pein, kill his own people? Kill the people who worshipped him?"

"He, by all technicalities, didn't." Was all he could say, he didn't feel the need to elaborate anymore than he had to that morning. His patience was already running on reserves and he didn't know how much he could take without seriously injuring one of them.

"Damn it." Kain cursed again, "Fuck."

"Shut up Kain, our world may be plunged into total darkness and we may be doomed but this is no excuse to be cursing up a storm."

"Seems like a damn good time Kaoru." He snapped back.

The two stopped their bickering when they heard Neji slam the book. "There seems to be a shinobi aspect that eludes the two of you. To be quiet is to not be killed as quickly."

A few seconds of silence enveloped the trio but it didn't last long when a tenor voice stopped everyone in their tracks.

"And this Madara, if what the damn book says is completely true?" Kain's entire body shook in fear, his voice quivered with every syllable as realization dawned upon him. He slowly looked up and his dark eyes connected with Neji's own widening orbs, "He's been alive for a while and…"

"Konoha's in even more grave trouble then we could ever imagine" Kaoru caught on, "This whole war is not only to end the shinobi race, it's to destroy what he helped to build."

"The war is another bluff," Neji threw the book into his satchel and took off with amazing speed followed closely by the two terrified shinobi. The sooner they get to Konoha the better, and he prayed to whatever kami listening that there was still time.

He quickened his pace knowing deep down it was too late. War was inevitable and all of Konoha will be fighting for their life.

For once in Neji's two year sabbatical, he felt that time was against him. Time he greatly miscaculated which now leads him desperately running towards the one village he abandoned. Towards the one village doomed to suffer the most. But then again, maybe this is fate?

And if this was fate then surely it's the cruelest sadist he'd ever encountered.


This is not what she wanted! No, things like this only complicate her well-planned lifestyle and what she disliked more was a screw thrown into the works. No, this wasn't happening. But every time she looked down to the very masculine arm draped around her bare hip she couldn't deny the reality of her stupidity.

Why her? Why this at such an inopportune time? Why did she allow herself to give into such pathetic carnal desires with…with him of all people?! Her friend and teammate! No, this will no do.

With uncanny stealth, she slipped from his strong embrace and rapidly made her way to the shower. She had to wash him from her because maybe then her denial would hold more ground, but she knew once he woke up that denial will fly out the door. He was a smart man, he very well knew what took place between them last night…a little innocent peck on the cheek he gave her meant nothing. Then that little kiss he gave her turned into something more. His mouth assaulted hers in an uncharacteristically energetic way that left her breathless and her bento box on the floor…how could something so innocent end up in her bedroom with not too pure acts taking place!

She swore to herself that no man would ever touch her like that until after the war, until her life found some ground because currently she was stumbling around like an uncoordinated toddler.

Turning off the shower she quickly dried herself and dressed all the while thinking about the closest escape route. She could always use the excuse of work…on a Saturday but with how issues were escalating it wasn't all a lie and not too far-fetched to believe.

She rested her head on the door and let out a sigh. Her senses caught Shikamaru stirring awake and knew her escape plan had gone out the door. She may be a master of lies when interrogating others but with him and Choji she could never lie to them, they always called her bluff. Her hand was on the nickel knob as she took a deep breath,

Here goes nothing she sardonically thought. Pushing the door open her eyes immediately met those of her…erm…teammate.

"Ino." Came his groggy voice.

"Shikamaru," She stiffly replied, quickly making her way across the room towards her only means of exit, other than the window, and said over her back, "I have a busy schedule today-" She felt that familiar hold of his shadow binding technique and quietly fumed.

"We need to talk and not just about last night, whatever you have planned for today is now gone."

"Listen here Nara" She spat, "I will not bend to you! I am a fully grown woman and have a life and a job that doesn't involve you."

"Which is why we must discuss this." He fluidly answered back, "Ino war is about to engulf all of the shinobi nations, don't you feel that all of this avoidance is getting troublesome? We need to confront the issue before all is too late."

"Don't use war as an exscuse to get in my pants Nara."

"As I recall, I didn't need to last night."

Fuming, Ino silently counted to twenty before regaining her focus and sighed, "What issue?"

"You're not daft Ino. You like me and I like you, there's a possibility that we even may love the other. However, if you continue on like this then we will never happen, you'll end up alone married to your work and if I survive this troublesome war I would live to regret what could've been between us." The last few words faded into a mere whisper and Ino's heart clenched.

A report came in yesterday morning reporting Asuma's death when on border patrol. The details were sketchy but what could be ascertained was that it was an Akatsuki member who ruthlessly killed him. He left Kurenai alone with a kid and his last words were of pained regret. A regret that he never told her how much he cared for her, that he loved her so much…

Tears welled in Ino's eyes and she so much wanted to wipe those stupid things away. She didn't cry, she wasn't weak, tears were for the weak. Damn it! She tilted her head up and blinked furiously but they kept coming and soon enough a small stream wove its way down her high cheekbones and all she wanted to do was turn her head away so Shikamaru couldn't see her like this.

Calloused hands cupped her face and gently, the pads of his thumbs wiped away the salty liquid. That's when all her built up guilt and anguish broke free and she collapsed into his awaiting arms where she cried into the crook of his neck. Shikimaru held onto her tightly murmuring soft words as he too broke down in her presence.

His pain was hers, they were so similar in that aspect. They suffered a loss of a teacher and had to shoulder many responsibilities and it was because of this that mistakes were made, mistakes they had come to regret and it was a time like this that allowed them to openly wallow in their grief together. A sort of healing each other that he didn't find too troublesome especially with his girl in his arms.

"I love you Ino." He whispered into her soft tresses.

"I love you too Shika."

Ino laughed softly and pulled away to look into his eyes, "What are we going to do with Choji?"

"Are you implying that you want him to join us?" He quirked a brow with a lazy smirk adorning his sleepy features, "Kinky."

Ino softly smacked his shoulder playfully, "No I meant what are we going to tell him and how will he react?"

"He'll be a little upset." Taking a glance to see Ino's concerned gaze he laughed, "Naruto won the bet of when we'd get together, Choji was sure that after the war we'd hook up since we were both too hardheaded to admit our feelings."

Ino laughed, "Maybe we should wait until then?" She jibed.

"No, I'm too impatient." He lowered her onto the bed and began kissing her neck.

"The lazy genius impatient? Hmm I thought I was supposed to be that."

He nipped her lower jaw, "Not when it comes to you Ino, I found that patience is unattainable."


Blood poured from his nearly severed arm; the kuniochi beneath him unerringly met his gaze before going for a swipe in which he reacted accordingly, flipping a few meters away to assess the impossibility this mere girl had committed unto his person.

For the briefest second he was so sure that this was her blood that covered him but taking a glance he saw his useless arm dangling with the artery spurting blood at an alarming rate.

No matter all he needed was time and it will be good as new, as for the pink haired kuniochi…

Pein ducked and swiftly blocked her knee from his face, using the inertia he lifted up and landed behind her. For now he'll have to use evasion techniques and assess her fighting style. That should be enough time for his arm to properly heal.

Noting that the girl had a small red line running across the cheek made him narrow his eyes. The blood smelt different, not human almost like…

His eyes widened minutely as he realized his folly. The girl was nearly mated to the Kyuubi and when blood is drawn from the intended mate...

Pein jumped away with enough time to take note that the explosion came from somewhere relative to the campsite. And knowing this attack it wasn't hard to figure out who had done it.

So the Uchiha survivor wants to get involved. That leaves the question of the Copy nin and Kyuubi.

Funny, usually demons were territorial with their possessions, mates included. Usually they charge headlong into situations, he was counting on such a reaction. Stupidity was his greatest tool he used against all opponents.

It seems like he'll have to take this situation more seriously than previously anticipated.

There you are Copy nin. Easily he parried the shuriken and ducked the senbon. This is supposedly Konoha's best? He scoffed at how weak the shinobi were.

All nations with shinobi will be terminated soon enough and he'll live to see it. Too bad these four wouldn't.

"C'mon Hatake" his mocking voice held a tinge of boredom as he easily avoided the triple attack, "Surely your team must be better than this?" Again he ducked with ease, "I only want the Kyuubi, hand him over and I may spare your precious village."

"Hn, the dobe stays."

"You however"

"Can die!" Sakura pounded a crater into the ground and Pein knew easily where this would lead to so he stayed and took the assault. When the dust cleared he stood firmly on the small area that seemed undisturbed from the shockwave. The crevice once directed towards him veered slightly around before regaining its intended course and he kept his usual façade.

"Surely you Sakura, would know that I would not fall for such tactics. You've come up with better" He disappeared and reappeared behind her and callously whispered in her ear, "Remember?"

He swiftly grabbed her neck and twisted it, where her corpse should be was a log and he used it to block the projectiles from hitting him.

Now they were masking their chakra.

Below.

He did a substitution jutsu in time and copied their tactics. Hiding in a low area he quickly came up with a surefire tactic to draw out the kyuubi, and now with his arm fully healed taking those annoyances down should be relatively easy.

Immediately he located the pink haired kuniochi and the Uchiha kid and grabbed them each by the necks, his jutsu immediately paralyzed them while the ground beneath held onto them as he set to using his kunai to parry the Copy-nin's attacks. The familiar tomoe of his stolen eye swirled to anticipate his moves but he knew it would be futile and met every attack the copy nin threw at him with unhindered ease.

Then he activated his favored attack, and the Copy nin was disabled.

"Kyuubi" He didn't bother to raise his voice, he knew the kid would hear him. Grabbing the Uchiha's neck he pulled him by his chicken hair and put a kunai to his throat. "I have no qualms killing your friend."

"I'd like to see you try" The Uchiha kid smiled uncharacteristically, "Teme!" Right then he felt it, that sound of birds taking off in flight the burning sensation through his back assaulted his senses and then he felt another burning hand go through his stomach, the resegnan. And then the kuniochi's immense strength snap his neck.

Pein One had died.

Good thing there was more.

….............................................................

Lee found himself at Naruto's favorite Ramen stand covered in sweat and dirt from a new workout regime he and Gai-sensei were creating. They were done for the day and headed in opposite directions. Gai was heading towards the Hokage tower while he wondered aimlessly. He knew Gai was taking it hard that one of his friends had died, though he tried to not show it, he knew his teacher better. He knew his team better.

"Tenten, we missed you at practice today." He looked to his left an gave a smile, "We were working on strength-endurance training."

"Sorry Lee" Tenten didn't try to smile as she kept her gaze on her untouched bowl, "I just didn't feel like it today."

"Yosh, he'll come back and reclaim your youthful heart!"

Tenten finally looked at her friend and smiled, "Want to help me train Lee?"

"I would love to help you Tenten! In the springtime of our youth it is our duty to-" Tenten's hand covered her friend's mouth,

"I get it, let's go."

Lee quickly paid for both their bowls and followed behind Tenten lost in his own thoughts. To his great happiness she was starting to smile more often and laugh like she use to. And as her teammate he is obligated to keep that radiant smile going until once more, Neji came home. Lee loved his teammates equally and his loyalty towards both of them was unquestionable and it was only for Tenten's sake that he wouldn't beat the crap out of him next time they crossed paths and he was certain that fate would bring them together.