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"ABC" - Spoken

ABC - Thought

'ABC' -Bijū Spoken

'ABC' - Bijū Thought

ABC – Book Excerpts

&&&& - Scene Change


Stranger Than Fiction

Chapter Eleven: Mirrors and Broken Wings

Part Two

Three hours of playing ninja while dodging never-ending questions about my non-existent relationship with Tempest had left me feeling more drained than a days worth of training.

Yet, The Corps' prodding left me wondering – Could I ever get a girl like her? Would someone like her ever care for 'something' like me? And, if they did, what would become of it? More importantly, am I even allowed to want, let alone have, such things…?

These questions and others like them had found a permanent place in the back of my mind, always lurking just beneath the surface, since learning what I am. But, at that moment these musings on the chances of me finding companionship, let alone love, were put on hold as I entered my apartment and quickly went about greeting my unexpected visitor with a kunai to their throat.

"Hey, Sensei, longtime no see!"

"That it has, Child…"

He gives me one of his barely-there-smiles as he glances between the "me" closing the door to my apartment and the "me" standing behind him with the blade gently pressed to his throat.

"Impressive… Good use of Kage Bunshin and I see your stealth has improved as well."

"Thanks, but we both know any level of stealth doesn't make a difference when you have your kekkei genkai activated."

Dismissing the clone, I saw him nod, his smile becoming a smirk, as I stowed the kunai and he deactivated his bloodline trait. He remained seated at the dining table within my modest kitchen as I closed the window I had entered from and drew the curtains.

Hitting the lights, I noticed he looked just as I remembered him. It had only been a few months since I saw him last but it had felt like years.

"Do you make it a habit of entering through there?"

I laughed, pausing as I was about to put a kettle to boil, replying, "Believe it or not, but you're not my first uninvited guest."

"I see…"

Despite his abrupt response, I could tell he understood what those words implied by the look of disgust I found in his eyes.

"Guests like…"

I paused on my way towards the rear of the apartment and looked over my shoulder to find him focused solely on me. I shrugged before looking away and laughing gently.

"Well, you're my first in awhile… I've gotten a bit of this and that over the years. The last was right after I became a Genin… she was different."


I looked back to find a look of surprise on his face which caused me to grin playfully.

"Yeah, well, she was nicer than my usual visitors… despite being more than a little drunk. And, even though she was clearly out of it, she kept going on and on about 'doing' a demon – cause there were no real men left or something like that."

"Doing a…?"

"Yep… well, you see, I had passed out while training in the woods and when I woke up it was already past midnight. So, when I finally got home I found her all curled up in a ball on my bed mumbling about how she was going to do her a Demon Lord… It was kinda cute, actually."

"Right, cute… And…?"

"And, what…?"

Now, I knew exactly what he wanted to know but I was going to make him earn a response. I mean it was only fair seeing as he was asking about something so private.

"Well, um, I-I mean… Well, did s-she…?"

The sight of a stuttering, blushing Sensei is something I'll never forget. It reminded me of Hime and caused me to wonder if he was where she got it from.

"Nah, she slept the entire night away at the foot of my bed... or, at least that's where she began the night. Anyway, I could tell she meant me no real harm. Actually, I think she's had it just as bad as I have."

"I see."

It took everything I had to not giggle like a fool at the blush on Sensei's cheeks. Clearing my throat, I continued my tale wondering if I could get him to stutter again.

"And, that morning, well…?"

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face as I captured his full attention as I began to tell him of our fateful encounter.

"Ah… Oh God, my head…?"

Opening her eyes, our home invader finds that she's nearly falling off the bed. Sliding away from the edge, she glances around at her surroundings as she comes to a stunning realization.

This-this isn't my room… Oh Shit! I-I didn't… No…

Rolling over to face the opposite side of the bed, the woman finds herself snuggled up against a blonde-haired, blue-eyed lump that's staring her straight in the eyes.

"Hey… last night was amazing!"


She shouts as she quickly tries to scurry away from her apparent conquest, only to fall off the bed, landing in a tangled heap on the floor. Looking up from her spot on the floor, she finds a fully-clothed, jumpsuit-clad Naruto laughing up a storm.

Blushing fiercely, she manages to untangle herself from his blanket. Standing, she notices that Naruto's laughing has stopped and that he's staring at her intently with a major blush of his own. Wondering what he's looking at, she glances down at herself to find that she's only wearing a pair of panties and a smile.

Smirking, she asks, "Like what you see?"

Naruto simply nods before snapping out of his flesh-induced stupor and throwing his sheet at her. Covering herself with it, she watches as Naruto gets up and heads out the room without saying a word. Left alone in his room, her momentary flash of confidence fades as she's left feeling more vulnerable then she'd ever like to admit.

"Um… about last night."

Entering the kitchen, Naruto shakes his head, replying, "Your clothes are folded on the dresser. The bathroom's all yours, you can use the shower if you want; it's through the door in the hall."

"Oh, um, thanks…?"

Naruto peaks his head down the hall, smiling slightly, he replies, "No problem, there'll be food ready by the time you're done."

Grabbing her clothes, she quickly enters the bathroom and starts the shower. Letting the bedsheet pool at her feet, she stretches before stepping into the stall. Letting out a content sigh as the warm water soothes her tense muscles; she can't help but wonder, Did I really… Nah, there's no way… Hey, where's my coat…

Entering the kitchen, now fully-dressed sans coat, she finds Naruto sitting in the window sill with a cup of ramen in hand. Hearing her enter, Naruto looks her over, his eyes widen slightly at her unique way of dress, namely her eye-popping take on the bodysuit, and he gives her thumbs up before gesturing to the table where all the fixings for a Naruto-brand breakfast, an empty bowl, a box of cereal, a cup of ramen, a kettle, and a cup of tea, rests.

"Cereal or Ramen… it's not much but it's yours. If you want the cereal there's milk in the fridge."

Blushing at his apparent approval of her outfit, she mumbles, "Thanks… um, you haven't seen my coat lying around by chance."

Naruto blushes, replying, "You were wearing it and I guess not much else when I found you last night. It has to be in my room somewhere."

"Oh, okay…"

Avoiding his gaze, she heads for the bedroom her blush intensifying at his words. Following a quick search, she finds her coat thrown over the foot of his bed. Quickly donning it, she reenters the kitchen to find Naruto looking out the window once more.

"Found it."

Turning to face her, he looks her over again and nods, "Definitely completes the look… nice."

She mumbles a quick thank you before sitting down at the table. Looking around the room, she gets her first real look at it considering how out of it she was last night. She's surprised to find it impressively clean with only a few empty ramen cups lying around.

"Your tea's getting cold. And, if you're going to have that ramen you better start… that three minute wait's a killer."

Laughing, she sips her tea before pouring the water from the kettle into her ramen cup. Glancing over her shoulder, she's surprised to find Naruto looking at her with something oddly close to a smile.

"Um, about last night…"

Naruto cuts her off, saying, "Having second thoughts…"

"Second thoughts…?"

"Yeah, well, it's to be expected I mean getting engaged is a big step…"


She stares at him, unbelieving, as he stares right back before glancing to the table. "Your ramen's ready… what?"

"Did you say…?"

"Engaged? Yep, last night was surprising. I mean, it's not every day you come home to find a beautiful woman ready and waiting for you, who… well, after you know… then asks you to…"

"No way… there's no way, I… I've never been that… God, I-I've never even… before… what have I… Shit…"

She's brought out of her downward spiral as she hears muffled laugher coming out of the corner of the room. Looking over to Naruto, she finds him barely containing his mirth at her distraught behavior.

"Okay, okay, I'm sorry, but I just had to… No, we didn't do it and, no, you didn't pop the question."

"Thank God!" she shouts her relief seemingly oozing from ever pore of her body.

Frowning, as her reaction brings to surface insecurities that have surfaced in him recently. Naruto mumbles, quite loudly, "Excuse me; you're not exactly the catch of the day yourself."

"Oh, sorry, I didn't mean… HEY, what's that supposed to mean?" she shouts, jumping to her feet.

Jumping to meet her stare, Naruto shouts, "It means, who'd want to marry someone who'd get drunk enough to break into a Genin's apartment mumbling about "doing" herself a demon."

"I-I… I'm…" she stutters dropping back into her seat at the table.

Sighing, Naruto sits back on the window sill, adding, "And, for the record, I'm not that bastard… He's the prisoner, I'm the prison. Got that…!"

"I know. Sorry… about everything. So, I take that to mean you know about him and stuff."

"Yeah, for a little over a week now, it was a definitely a shock. Not that it should've been considering everything."

"I'm sorry."

"Nah, it's not your fault. It's not like you're the one who shoved him in there."

"No, I meant about last night… and my reaction to the idea of…"

"Oh… Yeah, well, I'm not that sure I'd be all that thrilled to marry me either."

Laughter fills the apartment, as they laugh at their predicament. It serves to loosen the atmosphere as they finish their meal in silence. As Naruto cleans up, she watches him move about the apartment as a smile takes its place upon her lips.

"So, what exactly lead to last night's surprise visit? And… who the hell are you anyway? By the way, the names Uzumaki Naruto, in case you didn't know."

Her smile fading and her blush returning, she avoids his gaze, replying, "I know you're name, Naruto-kun. Well, let's just say yesterday always reminds me of a certain bastard and I usually spend it…"

"And, you usually spend it in a drunken haze…?"

"Yeah… that's one way of putting it."

Seeing the hurt in her eyes, Naruto sighs, saying, "You wanna talk about it?"

He sees the look of surprise in her eyes as she quickly looks up to meet his concerned eyes. Their gazes remained lock until Naruto looks away, blushing slightly, causing her to smile.

"Nah, that's all right… but, why are you being so kind to me…? After you know… You don't even know me."

Naruto looks back at her, smirking, "Yeah, well, I did ask your name before you got all mopey about some jackass from your past."

"I wasn't moping… Anyway, Naruto-kun, the name's…"


All around Konoha, the thoughts of those reading KNC turns to the identity of Naruto's late night visitor. Some, mostly of the male persuasion, wonder if she's as hot as Naruto describes her to be; others, including two sisters, a wind mistress, and a weapons expert, wonder where they can hide the body after they get their hands on her.

The one in question remains surprisingly unaware of her role in Naruto's tale and can't help but wonder if she's coming down with a cold as she's hit with yet another sneeze.

"Hey, are you feeling all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine… And, what's so funny, you two?"

Asuma and Gai look up from their copies of KNC struggling to contain their laughter. Asuma shakes his head, replying, "Nothing much… here, take a look for yourself."

Anko takes the book and begins readying as Kurenai looks to Asuma for an explanation. He simply smirks and gestures to Anko, mouthing, "Just watch."

The three Jounins watch as a myriad of expressions pass over Anko's guise: indifference, surprise, joy, embarrassment, and, finally, anger.

Jumping to her feet, she throws the book back at Asuma as she begins to rant and rave.

"That little… after everything we… how could he put that… When I get my hands on… I knew he was up to… 'It's all there' he says…"

Kurenai and the others watch as Anko paces back a forth mumbling to her self, being able to only make out bits and pieces of her rant, but what they clearly hear her say next brings them to a pause.

"Dammit, now I have to read it all over again. Who knows what else he sunk in there… Shit, at least he didn't mention any names… Bastard, last time I do him a favor… even if he… well, maybe if he does that thing with his…"

Taking a deep breath, Anko sighs as she turns to face the others. Seeing the shocked looks on their faces she eloquently asks, "What…?"


"Well… Who was she?"

"Ah, but, Sensei, a real gentleman never kisses and tells."

Laughing at Sensei's shocked expression; I headed for my bedroom to the sound of his laughter before taking a quick shower. I reemerged as the kettle finished boiling, clad in only a pair of sweatpants with a towel draped over my head.

I noticed Sensei raise an eyebrow at this causing me to smirk, asking, "Like what you see?"

The look of utter indignation that filled his face as I went about removing the kettle from the stove was priceless.

"Tea or Ramen…?"

To say that I was pleasantly surprised by his answer is putting it lightly. Let me just say this – There's no better way to shoot the shit than over a cup of ramen with a friend.

"Ramen… Beef, if you have it."

It wasn't long before we were eating, a comfortable silence surrounding us. One only disturbed by my more than enthusiastic slurping, followed by a muffled laugh at my utter lack of table manners.

"Uh… excuse me, I guess."

"No need for that, Child, this is your home after all. It's quite… quaint."

I could only shake my head at Sensei's attempt at sparing my feelings, but truth be told, for everything my home lacked, it was perfect for me. Not that I wouldn't like more but beggars can't be choosers, as they say.

"Yeah, well, it ain't a clan compound but it keeps the unwanted elements out, for the most part, and the heat in. So, I have no… well, few complaints."

"I meant no disrespect, Child. I…"

"Nah, it's all right."

I was working on my third cup when I noticed that Sensei kept glancing at my bare chest or more likely what rested just below it. Sighing, I asked, "Would you like to see it?"

Now, what may sound like a simple question was in actuality a defining moment for me. Truth be told, what I was about to show Sensei, I had never shown freely to anyone before, only Old Man Soul having seen it before him. He was actually the one who pointed out its existence to me, during our meeting following me and Chibi-Hime's passing of Sensei's final test.

You see, knowing you're a vessel and saying you're a vessel is one thing, but having irrefutable proof appearing on your body is something else entirely. It defines you, stating without a shadow of a doubt that you're different.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what about those marks on his face; well, those can be passed off as nothing more than ordinary birthmarks, as I've seen weirder ones on demon-less people.

Making this a show of extreme trust, trust that I have for few people and I could tell that Sensei understood that as he answered simply with a grave nod of the head as he activated his kekkei genkai.

Standing before him, I channeled a small amount of chakra making the seal placed upon me become visible. It amazes me to no end how what seems to be nothing more than a bunch of squiggles and swirls manages to keep the frightening power of a ninth-level Demon Lord at bay, let alone contained within my very being.

He deactivated his bloodline once more signaling that he'd seen enough. Lowering my chakra output, the seal faded from my stomach as I took my seat again.

"Thank you for showing me. It's truly an impressive piece of work."

"Yeah, well, it does what it does."

"True enough."

The silence reclaimed us. Finishing my fifth cup, I had finally had enough of Sensei's stalling. So, as I cleaned off the table and put out another pot of tea I asked, "Well, are you going to tell me why you're here or is it simply for the company?"

He smirked at my sarcasm as I handed him a cup of tea; he thanked me before taking a sip. I caught him looking at me, as I took my seat again, with a look I had seen on few occasions, one I'd hoped to never see again.

"My sources tell me, that in a week's time, you're going to be participating in the Chuunin Exam."

"Wow, considering Cyclops hasn't even mentioned them yet means that your sources must be well informed."

"Yes, they are. But, that is not what I'm here to discuss with you."

"I figured that. So, what's up… it must be important if you're breaking the 'no contact' part of our agreement."

Seeing him stiffen slight at the mentioning of our agreement made me worry, as I would soon learn it was with good reason.

"I'm sorry, Child, but I must ask something of you that will not seem fair while upsetting you greatly."

"Well, if you know all that then simply don't ask it."

Hiashi frowned, shaking his head, "I would if I could but I must ask this of you… You must refrain from using The Hakkyokuken in any of its forms."

Jumping to his feet, his chair falling over, Naruto was shocked, but more than that, he was furious. This was the last thing he expected and he wouldn't let this happen without a fight.

"What… but, you promised… you said that during the exam, I'd be able to show them, all of them, that I'm not a… That I'm not a LOSER or a DEAD LAST… So, why… give me one good reason."


Naruto flinches at the sound of her name. The tone with which Hiashi spoke nearly broke his resolve, but he wouldn't give in that easily.

"Yeah, what about her…?"

"She, along with the rest of this year's rookies, will also be entering."

"So, what… are you afraid I'd hurt her, that I'd hurt any of them, is that what this is all about... Because you know I'd rather die than…"

"I know, Child, but that IS one of the reasons… truth is you have only used the style in actual combat once and…"

Quick to defend himself, Naruto stares Hiashi in the eye, explaining, "That's not true… I used it on my C-rank. I mean, it became an A-rank but that's not the point. The point is that I used it freely and I've killed using the style. I've also used it without killing, so…"

"Did anyone see you using it?"

The harsh tone of Hiashi's voice causes Naruto to momentarily faultier, as he looks away, replying, "No, Sasuke was presumed KIA, Sakura was guarding our client, and Kakashi-sensei was knocked out. Only…"

"Only what…?"

Taking a calming breath, as he looks up at his sensei, Naruto continues, "Only Haku, a missing-nin, and his master saw me use the style. They're dead."

"I see. Who was his master?"

Naruto frowns for a moment before grimly responding, "Momochi Zabuza. I killed him with a blow to the heart. It was meant for Haku but he intercepted it."

It takes him a moment to comprehend what he's heard. To think that the child before him had killed a missing-nin of Zabuza's caliber with a single blow proved the Hakkyokuken to be a complete success. Pushing aside feelings of pride and accomplishment, Hiashi calmly reacts to this information.

"T-That is… impressive.

Naruto nods, quickly saying, "I've been practicing. I even got the stance down to where it looks nothing like the Jyuuken and I can switch between my stances with ease."

"Show me."

Moving away from the table, Naruto drops into a stance for The Jyuuken before shifting seamlessly into his improved stance for The Hakkyokuken then into a relaxed standing position with his hands in his pockets then back again.

"Impressive, I see you're still using that stance of yours."

"Yeah, well if they see me as nothing but an overconfident fool they'll only underestimate me more than they all ready do."

"True… but, it doesn't change the fact that I must forbid…"

If there was ever a word not to use at that moment or any moment where Naruto is involved - forbid would be that word. The look that crossed Naruto's eyes at that moment would have shaken lesser men, yet Hiashi simply met his gaze with practiced ease.

"Forbid…? Who the hell are you to forbid me anything…? This style is mine, you said so yourself… Okay, I know it grew from your clan's style. So, if not mine completely, it's as much mine, if not more so, as it is yours. I'm the one who's still working on it, perfecting it, on my own. I'm the one who got his ass kicked, by you, repeatedly for over a year while developing its basis. So, how… Why would you…"

Hiashi sighs, as Naruto's fury dies out into a whimper, he understands where his student is coming from but he knows that it can't be helped, not when they've gotten this far, not when it could all come crashing down at the hands of a single individual.


"Who… who the hell is Neji and what does he have to do with any of this?"

"Neji is my nephew and he is nothing less than a prodigy. Even with the change in stance, he'll be able to tell that it originated from The Jyuuken. Besides he obviously possesses the Byakugan, so if not from the stance or movements, the effect it has on your opponents most definitely will. That's why…"

"Aren't you giving this guy too much credit? I mean… how good can he really be?"

"That is something you'll have to find out for yourself, as he and his team will be taking the exam as well. I have little doubt that your paths will cross. Now, I am truly sorry to ask this of you but truth be told it simply isn't the right time for all to be revealed."

I didn't want to admit it but I could understand where Sensei was coming from. I, more than anyone, understood what the potential fallout of me knowing, let alone altering, his style could be; but I didn't care I had worked too hard to let that stop me.

"And, what am I supposed to do… huh, besides Kage Bunshin, tree climbing, and water walking, my skills are Academy level, at best. My taijutsu is still based off the Academy taught stuff, even if I've added my own special touches here and there, my ninjutsu is pathetic… Henge, Kawarimi, moving on… And, my genjutsu is completely nonexistent…"

I stood there feeling lower than I'd felt in years, not even failing the graduation exam hurt like this. At least, then I could blame it on that damn Bunshin but this was horrible. Admitting every weakness I had was so demoralizing that I wanted the ground to open and swallow me whole.

Everyone around me, all my friends, had their clan's or families' jutsu or kekkei genkai to fall back on, things that made them unique or special, things that gained them love or respect, while I was left with – nothing.

"This style was my thing… you know, that one thing that would separate me from the rest… besides the…"

I stood there feeling completely and utterly defeated as Sensei remained silent. I just couldn't understand how he could do this to me.

"Sensei, I…"

"Enough! What has happened to you… are you listening to yourself? You sound pathetic… You sound weak…"

I flinched. His words left me reeling. I could only stand there speechless. He was right. I was pathetic and weak; I could only wonder what had happened to me or was I was always like that.

"Kyu, I have watched you grow exponentially over our time together. I'll say this once and only once… You have an advantage over any ninja out there. Whether they belong to a clan or possess a kekkei genkai matters not."

I stood there shocked what advantage could I possibly have over such people. A clan-less, no bloodline having, demon-carrying orphan, what could I possible have over them. And, then it hit me and I frowned. Seeing my reaction, Sensei was quick to explain.

"And, no, I'm not talking about your tenant… though that is a potential advantage. No, it's an advantage that every great ninja has had over their adversaries – flexibility."

"Flexibility… what do you mean?"

"Simple, while clans and kekkei genkai holders, for the most part, specialize in that one thing that makes them unique and nothing more; you, on the other hand, can focus on anything and everything that catches your interest. A jack of all trades, if you will. Also, they have a weakness that far too many are unaware of or refuse to admit. That weakness being the exact thing that makes them unique…"

Sensei paused, staring me straight in the eye, obviously wanting me to figure it out on my own. It was staring into his eyes, the eyes of a kekkei genkai, that made me realize what he meant.

"Take away what makes them special and they're left with nothing to fall back on…?"

"Exactly, a well-rounded ninja will always have the advantage over a specialized one. Soul-sama is a perfect example. Just remember that while you may have an advantage, it by no means guarantees victory as there's a reason why clans and kekkei genkai are so valued."

The truth of Sensei's words clamed my raging insecurities but they still didn't make the idea of not using my style any easier to swallow.

"I understand. And, I'm sorry for showing such weakness, but…"

"Child, I would like nothing more than for you to go into these exams and prove to everyone, my clan included, that you are one to be reckoned with. For you to use YOUR style freely showing this entire village what your hard work has wrought despite their ignorance and bigotry. But, alas, I cannot allow that to happen… at least, not in the way we would like. You have the skill, the knowledge, and the determination, embrace them, and make a name for yourself."

And, like that, any argument I had was quieted. His words were true and they were honest. And, they left me more determined then ever to pass this exam and become a Chuunin. Bowing before him, I could tell the gesture surprised Sensei; I thanked him from the bottom of my heart for everything.

"Your gratitude is not necessary but appreciated. There is but one more thing, I must ask of you before I take my leave."

The look on my face must have been obvious, as Sensei laughed, saying, "Do not worry, it's nothing like the last request."

"Thank God."

"Indeed, no, what I must ask is that doing the exam… um, Hime, if…"

"I'll protect her with my life."

My answer was quick and to the point, and not exactly what either of us were expecting. I could see the surprise on his face which caused me to start mumbling an explanation.

"I-I mean… not that she needs my help… I meant to say that I'd help her… yeah, help her… and stuff… not that I wouldn't, you know… die…"

"Yes, well, not what I was going for but it'll do… On that note, if Hiun… if you and he… if he"

"If Hiun what…?"

A surprisingly uncomfortable silence filled the room; Sensei seemed to be struggling as the right words seemed to elude him. But, I saw it as more like he didn't want to say them.

"Nothing… it's nothing. I simply wish you the best of luck, Kyu."

I knew there was more he wanted to say but I would not push it. As, I watched him prepare to leave, I was full of questions but one rose above the rest – Who the hell is Hiun and why do I get the feeling he's going to be nothing but trouble…

But, before I could dwell on that notion any further Sensei paused and turned back to face me.

"One last word of advice… Remember what awaits you at the end of this exam and look to those around you for inspiration. You're not the only 'ordinary' ninja taking the exam, look to those who are like you and find solace in them."

I nodded my head as he vanished from sight. I laughed, thinking, Someone has gotta teach me that…


If one were to be strolling through one of the many gardens lying within the Hyuuga compound, they'd be privileged to a rare sound, one some might say to be the second rarest in all of Konoha, the laughter of one, Hyuuga Neji.

No matter how hard he tries the image of Hiashi blushing and stuttering like Hinata will not leave his head. Even now, as he approaches what no doubtingly will be his first appearance within the book, he can't help but snicker at the images dancing around his head.

Steeling himself, his thoughts turn to the one responsible for what he holds in his hands and the name he felt to bestow upon him.

Hiun meaning fate or misfortune… it's seems that Uzumaki is not without a sense of irony.

Frowning, Neji's thoughts turn to what else was revealed.

So, my actions were expected… and yet he did nothing…

Neji pauses as he thinks about what he has read. The further into KNC he gets the more conflicted he becomes. In recent years, his relationship with his clan, his immediate family in particular, has improved.

A sense of closeness and understanding that was missing even before his Father passed away has come to be. But, now, seemingly with every page he turns he finds himself realizing just how little he knows about his Uncle and cousins. It's left him feeling odd as feelings that he's unaccustomed to, yet feel oddly familiar, have taken a hold of him.

Sighing, he shakes his head deciding to continue on and not let these feelings bother him too much. He figures they'll go away eventually, not realizing just how wrong he is. Little does he realize but guilt and regret can fester in the strongest of hearts, undeterred until they consume it whole.

This is something Hyuuga Neji would learn all too well and it would only take a few more pages for his lesson to begin.

To Be Continued…