Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first chapter of "Into the Darkness." It is my hope that after several years on hiatus that I will actually be able to complete this story. For those who are reading this, I began this story more than 5 years ago. With so much going on – you know, typical teenage drama and then some – I felt that I wasn't doing this story justice. I hope and pray that after all this time, I can finally produce something I'm proud of. Okay. Here we go.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. I am merely using the characters for entertainment purposes.

"words" talking

'Words.' thoughts

"words." ninetailed/human communication. In this fanfic it will be mostly one-sided, though. Naruto only talks to the kyuubi. He doesn't respond too often.

'words' nine tailed thoughts. This probably won't appear much until later on.

Chapter One: Deepest Secret

Naruto sighed in bed and rolled over to glance at his alarm clock. It was well past one in the morning and practice started at seven thirty sharp, yet he couldn't sleep. The older memories of his childhood still brought back fresh pain no matter how many times they resurfaced. Recently all he ever thought about was how things could have been different if his former sensei hadn't left.

"Five years ago...Ojii-Chan. If you were still here than things would be so much different." he whispered to the darkness.

He hugged a plump pillow to his face before the tears building up in his eyes could fall. 'Why did you have to leave?' The pressure of simply living through each day was getting harder and harder to deal with. Fingers dug tightly into the soft fabric; a desperate attempt to alleviate the frustration he felt inside.

"Five years...why? Are you still alive? Do you have any idea how much I miss you? You never even said good-bye. I don't understand...why you had to leave...You were the only one who ever cared enough to see me for who I am. I didn't have to act around you, Ojii-chan. You were my sensei too..."

Naruto squeezed his eyes shut to block the onslaught of tears. The memory constantly haunted him, never allowing him a moment of peace. He found himself living a nightmare twenty-four seven. Nothing appeared the exact same way when he looked at it again. The world was gradually wearing away the layers of protective walls hidden behind false smiles and deceptive laughter. The pain of hiding his true self was almost more than he could handle.

The tears escaped, twin streams racing hotly down his cheeks to dampen the pillow beneath him. Naruto turned over and curled tightly into a ball, sobbing softly in the early morning darkness. This was the side of him that no one ever saw; the true person hidden by a well-placed facade.

"Sometimes I can't stand this. I hate who I am." Naruto said. "Why do I have to be me?"

He bit down on his lip until something wet and coppery-tasting flooded his mouth. Blood. With a groan he spat it out, not caring when it stained his bed sheets crimson. Frustrated at his lack of sleep, he kicked the covers back violently and stood up. He stalked across his small room in several lengthy strides to the bathroom across the short hallway.

Even in the darkness, Naruto could easily make out his own reflection in the mirror. A shock of blond hair stuck up in messy spikes from his night of restless tossing and turning in bed. Three dim shadows adorned each cheek, cast by the faint whisker marks.

"From you being sealed inside me, you stupid kitsune." Naruto let his voice echo deep within the chambers of his mind like his former sensei had taught him.

As usual he received no response. The nine-tailed fox hardly ever reacted to anything Naruto said, and when he did feel like answering, it was almost always an amused chuckle. Naruto's occasionally brash actions never ceased to astound him but he wasn't about to admit that to the boy.

"Maybe if it weren't for you, Ojii-chan wouldn't have left me."

The fox snorted contemptuously in the depths of his container's mind, letting Naruto know that even he was not the reason behind his mentor's decision to leave. Of course, the young genin already knew that what he said was far from the truth. 'Ojii-chan already knew about the nine-tailed fox when he took me in and he didn't care about it. He was the only one...'

"...who didn't already hate me besides Iruka-sensei." he finished his thoughts out loud.

Naruto wiped his face with a long pajama sleeve and gazed into the mirror again. His reflection met his stare with blue eyes clouded by grief.

"If I could become the person that I am in the mirror, would I truly become a different person, or would I still be me?"

His counterpart watched him silently through the glass. Naruto felt stupid for a moment, having half-expected for his own reflection to answer him. With a frustrated sigh that signaled he was on the verge of tears again, Naruto tore his gaze away from the mirror.

"Wise decision, brat. Now go to bed and sleep or you'll be too tired to practice." the fox's words wound their way sluggishly through Naruto's mind.

Under normal circumstances, the fox wouldn't attempt to comfort Naruto when he was upset like this, but he refused to have a weak container and therefor felt slightly obligated to "help" the kid whenever the need arose.

"Why the hell would you care? You are the reason almost everyone in Konoha hates me. You have no idea what it's like to hear people whispering things about me all the time! You don't have to deal with the hurtful judgment of other people, you stupid fox! You were powerful and strong and didn't depend on anyone or anything and it isn't my fault that I had to be the one they sealed you in! You don't need me for any reason other than to be your container!" Naruto shouted mentally.

"I'm just your pathetic host. A good-for-nothing and that's all I'll ever be!" Naruto finished his sentence by crashing a fist into the mirror before him.

A loud crack resounded through the tiny bathroom as glass shattered into hundreds of pieces. Sharp shards gouged deeply into Naruto's right hand, penetrating the skin easily as if they were slicing through warm butter. A few smaller pieces tore through the flesh of his upper arm. Dark red fluid rushed out of the wounds to form a puddle in the sink. The pain he should have felt was blocked out by an intense numb sensation that washed over him slowly. All of his rage was forgotten as he stared at his reflection in the broken glass.

"Ow..." he said, but the word came out small and weak in the dark room.

Naruto blinked several times before fully realizing what he had just done. Gravity suddenly became a tremendous force acting on his weight alone. He sank to the ground, mentally and emotionally exhausted, carrying a look of seemingly ancient wisdom that often resulted from a painful past. With a tired sigh he closed his eyes tightly.

Inside his cage, the nine-tailed fox paced back and forth anxiously; a habit he rarely displayed. Naruto's sudden self-degrading attitude deeply concerned him though in all actuality he did not know why it bothered him so much. He had never before seen Naruto take negative emotions out on himself and judging from the kid's current reaction to his action, he'd completely zoned out.

"Naruto...?" the fox pushed the question gently into Naruto's mind.

The kyuubi-no-kitsune was met with solid silence. Was Naruto unconscious? He padded forward to the sealed door of his cage and searched through the steel bars into the sewer-like surroundings beyond. A small figure clad in dull orange clothing emerged from around a corner. It was Naruto, but he approached with a look of dejection on his face.

"I'm just...tired, kyuubi...that's all. I'm just so tired...of living a lie...the person everyone thinks they know...isn't real."

Naruto sat down heavily on the damp floor and examined his hand, wincing as he yanked out several shards of glass. He tossed the red-stained fragments on the ground beside him, The fox observed him wordlessly as the smell of fresh blood filled the air. He rippled his blood red fur and continued to watch his container's depression grow deeper.

"Everyone knows about how powerful you were, how your sheer power could flatten mountains in an instant, how out of all the other legendary tailed beasts you are the strongest . Only I...only I have to live with you inside of me. And...only I have to live with the secrets..." Naruto trailed off, hanging his head.

The fox tilted its massive head inquisitively, bright crimson coat shining like satin in the dim light. His mouth opened to reveal glistening wet canines and then he let out a low growl.

"Naruto. You need to wake up so I can heal your wounds."

"No...I don't...need your help. Not...not this time. Okay?" the genin said as he got shakily to his feet.

He stumbled several times and very nearly fell over, but he held his ground. When he turned his blue eyes to the ruby of the kyuubi's, he was surprised to find something that could almost have been pity in the deep scarlet orbs. The large kitsune nodded imperceptibly before retreating to the dark confines of his sealed cage.

"Thank you...for this...but I want a chance to get through this on my own without anyone's help. Maybe then...maybe then I can become strong enough to keep my promise to Ji-chan. I can't allow myself to disappoint him..."

Naruto took several steps back and turned to the dark tunnels of his mind. With yet another sigh, he walked resolutely through the twisting maze of hallways, doors, and dead ends. Focusing on bringing himself back to the conscious world was difficult; he really didn't want to wake up just to experience more pain...

With a soft groan he opened his eyes and found himself back in the dark bathroom. The previously unacknowledged pain exploded into being when he pushed his hand flat against the floor so he could stand up. Naruto bit off a swear word before it could escape and he forced himself to his feet.

He quickly turned on his sink and shoved his right forearm under the faucet, hissing between his teeth as ice cold water washed the blood from his wounds. He was surprised to see that the nine-tailed fox wasn't healing his injuries automatically. 'Did he...actually listen to me?'

He fought the urge to yank his hand, which now sent needle-darts of pain shooting up his arm, out from under the stream of water. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he managed to stave off the instinct until he was satisfied that the wound was clean of glass splinters. Then he turned the faucet off.

"I'm not helping you. Now you have to deal with the consequences of your actions." the fox demon's words echoed through Naruto's subconscious mind, but even though he didn't respond, he was certain that the boy had heard him perfectly. After all, Naruto wasn't deaf.

"I am such an idiot." he said as fresh blood dripped out of the wound and slid down his hand, dropping down to stain the white sink crimson.

"At least they aren't too deep." he said, inspecting the damage from punching the mirror.

His knuckles had obviously taken the brunt of the impact. The skin there was shredded and painful to the touch. There were also two deeper cuts on the back of his hand and three, longer, nasty-looking gashes on his lower forearm. Dark red blood still oozed out from them.

Naruto spotted the almost empty toilet paper roll sitting atop the tank of his toilet and quickly reached out with his left hand to grab it. It quickly unraveled to the end as he wrapped the last of the tissue around his wounds. Within minutes, blood was seeping through the thin layers of toilet paper and he clamped his hand around it to stem the flow.

"Oh man...this really, really hurts. What the heck was I thinking?"

"You weren't, brat." the fox said sleepily before settling down to rest within his confines.

Still holding his wounded arm tightly with his opposite hand, he proceeded to search the rest of his household for something better to use. He was searching through the cabinet beside his refrigerator when he suddenly remembered the emergency treatment kit he kept stowed away in the far corner of the drawer beneath his bathroom sink.

Returning to the bathroom, he ignored the light-switch in favor of dressing the wound as quickly as he could so he could get some sleep. He wasn't sure of the time, but exhaustion weighed down every limb. He found it difficult just to keep his eyes open.

Inspecting the wounds again, he was surprised to see that they were not actually as deep as he had previously thought them to be. He still felt uneasy about the amount of blood still seeping out of the ones on his forearm.

"They probably could use stitches, but I don't know how...maybe I could just take a needle and thread and..." Naruto broke off, shivering at the thought of poking a needle so close to the painful wound. Just thinking about it hurt, and it was already obvious that the nine-tailed fox wasn't going to assist him this time. " Maybe I could use one of the healing jutsu that Ojii-chan taught me..."

The more he considered the possibility of pricking himself over and over again, the more he disliked it. The idea of using a healing jutsu seemed much more reasonable. He started to make a hand sign but stopped when the movement opened up one of the two cuts on the back of his hand.

The pain from it was almost mind-reeling. Fresh blood trickled in dark streams down his hand and formed a puddle on his feet. He quickly positioned it over his sink so that the liquid wouldn't stain his floor.

"What the heck? Is there like a piece of glass stuck in there or something? I guess a jutsu is out of the question. Oh man, why did I go and do something so stupid like that, Naruto?" he asked himself.

'Jeez. And this is what it feels like when Kyuubi doesn't heal me...I am such an idiot, punching the mirror like that.'

"I will not help you this time, Naruto. You dislike having me inside of you, so now you will have a chance to see what it is like without my help."

Naruto simply pushed the words aside. He was very tired and wanted more than anything to go to sleep and forget about everything that had happened. Biting his lip against the pain, he used his left thumb and forefinger to open the wound again. He could just barely make out the dime-sized fragment of glass embedded deep inside it.

"How am I gonna get this out...?"

He mentally ran through the list of names of genin that he knew, trying to find one that he knew best and would be most likely to not ask questions or notify his sensei of what transpired. 'Sakura...no she's on my team...Sasuke is definitely out of the question...Can't ask Iruka-sensei...Neji is just a jerk. I don't why I even considered asking him! Lee might know a thing or two about treating injuries since he seems about as brash and accident-prone as I am...but he would probably tell Kakashi-sensei...what about the other girl...the one who always used to sit next to me in the academy? Hinata. She's always been so nice to me. I feel like I could trust her enough.'

"Yeah. I think this is going to need stitches. Maybe Hinata has some ointment or something. I remember some of the grades she used to get on written tests given to use by Iruka-sensei. They were always better than mine, but she made perfect scores on all the ones about healing jutsu, treatment, and medicinal herbs. And she was always so nice to me...even though she didn't talk much."

Naruto was starting to feel really good about himself for coming up with idea until he remembered that it was in the middle of the night and she was at home sleeping. 'Wait...what time is it exactly?'

He backed quickly out of the restroom, stuck his head through the doorway of his room, and very nearly had a heart attack when he saw the light blue glow on the edge of the horizon through the glass of his bedroom window.

"Holy crap! I gotta try and get some sleep before I miss my chance to catch some shut-eye altogether."

Panic sharpened his awareness despite his total lack of sleep. He set about searching for a pair of tweezers in his medic kit. When he found them he let out a sigh of relief and looked grimly at the gaping cut on his hand. 'Guess I have no choice. I really, really, really am not going to like this at all.'

He used his left ring finger to stretch the cut open a little more and, with two other fingers, inserted the tweezers. Gritting his teeth, he grasped the sharp between the two metal pincers and pulled it out. It was difficult with the blood making his hand slick and wet, but he was able to remove the fragment and set it down on the sink.

Naruto poured hydrogen peroxide onto all of the cuts with a shaky hand, drawing in a sharp breath as pink-tinted bubbles foamed over the surface. When he couldn't bear the burning sensation any longer, he rinsed it all off and applied an antiseptic ointment over them. He then cut open one of the several bandage rolls in his medic kit and methodically began to wrap them over his cuts.

By the time he was finished, he had used almost an entire roll; the blood escaping from the many cuts kept soaking through the bandages. The clean white wrappings wound around the middle of his forearm and traveled down to the back of his hand where they were considerably thicker. Naruto used his teeth to tear off the end and fastened it securely by pushing it under and through several lengths of bandage beneath his palm before tying it into a knot. He carefully flexed his arm and fingers out, testing to see if the wrappings were too tight.

"Good." Naruto declared.

His eyes felt like sand had gotten in them. He rubbed them tiredly and stared at the mess on the edge of the sink. Deciding to attempt sleep once more before it became impossible, he returned to his room and climbed into his soft bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow he was out cold.

Sleep came almost instantly for him, but it seemed like he had just barely fallen asleep when the alarm clock beside his bed blared two hours later. Groaning, he slammed his fist down upon it and scrunched his eyes shut.

"Practice..." he growled and threw off the covers. He winced slightly at the sudden tightness in his left arm and the memory of the previous night resurfaced.

In the bathroom he deliberately unwound the bandages and inspected the wounds. Half of him expected the cuts to be fully healed by now so he was slightly surprised when he saw that all of them were still there.

"I guess you weren't kidding me when you said you wouldn't help, Kyuubi." Naruto spoke thoughtfully to the kitsune sealed within him.

"I never kid around, brat."was the fox's indignant reply. The idea of Naruto doubting his word really ruffled his fur.

The fox demon shut his eyes and returned to his slumber, completely blocking Naruto's ability to communicate with him. If the kid wasn't going to believe him then why should he bother listening to him in the first place? 'Logic.'

He took a hasty shower but made sure to clean the injured area before getting out. He dried himself off before wrapping the towel around his thin waist. A look at the cuts told him that none of them had reopened during his actions. They were all scabbed over well. The still-sleepy blond treated them again and re-wrapped them with fresh bandages.

After donning his traditional bright orange outfit, he noticed that because his sleeves were rolled up the bandages were easily visible.

"I can't let Kakashi-sensei or Sakura see this because they'll ask. Sasuke probably won't care either. I guess I can keep my sleeves down all the way to conceal it."

He unrolled the sleeves of his orange jacket and was pleased when they completely covered the bandages with the exception of the ones beneath his palm. 'Oh well. I think we're going to be climbing trees again. I wish we could do another mission like the C-Rank one in the Land of Waves. Ever since we left, we've only been doing all these practice spars and more exercises for chakra control.'

He hung his towel over a drying rack and proceeded to pick up the mess he'd abandoned the night before. He swept the trash into a garbage can beside the sink and returned the medic kit to its proper place in the storage space beneath his sink. However, there was one more thing he had to do before he could leave for training.

With a practiced hand, though it was a little more difficult since his dominant hand was bandaged, he held open his left eye and gently removed a bright blue contact lens. The he repeated the motion with his other hand, blinking several times to relieve the slight discomfort. Finally he stopped.

From a small box he retrieved from beneath his bathroom sink, he pulled out a fresh pair of 24 hour contact lenses sealed in a sterile case and set them on the edge of the counter. Unscrewing the lid of the tiny green container, he reached in and took out a blue contact lens. But before he put the contact in his eye, he looked up and observed the reflection in what was left of the mirror.

Two blood red eyes stared back at him from the broken shards of glass that hadn't fallen off. Each of them had one tiny circular shape inside, both markings ending in a comet's tail. He looked silently and whispered something even the nine-tailed fox's super-sensitive ears would have had trouble understanding it.

Naruto turned away from his reflection and put both contacts on without a word. No one, not even his own sensei, Kakashi, knew anything about the development of his Sharingan.

It had first appeared when he was wondering around the side-streets of Konoha as a six-year old. His guardian, whose identity was only known as Ojii-chan, was out doing what Naruto only assumed to be a mission and had temporarily left him. The only instructions given to him were to stay out of trouble and occupy himself.

Flashback/ Memory. 3RD P.O.V.

A short, blond-haired figure sat in the shadows of an alleyway, drawing pictures on the ground with a stick. He finished his doodle, erased it with a dirty hand, and started again when he saw his reflection on some pieces of broken glass. It caught the boy's interest since he had never before looked at himself in a mirror. Although the image was fragmented, he could clearly make out his eyes.

They were blue, but as he stared, the eyes in the reflection turned red with a small, dark comma-shape in each orb. After he finally blinked, they returned back to their normal deep blue color. Since then they had changed from blue to red rarely, finally becoming permanent when he turned ten.

Naruto learned of his past from a person he knew only as Ojii-Chan. His earliest memory of the kind, dark-haired man was when they'd first met. The five-year-old had been sleeping on a cot in a small room when a sudden noise roused him from his nap. He saw a short man wearing dark clothing climbing in through a window on the far side of the room.

"This is no place for you to grow up, boxed in away from the outside, even if the Third Hokage does have a good reason. Hey there, little Naruto. Do you want to come with me?" the man asked.

Naruto blinked wide blue eyes, startled that the stranger had known his name. But something the man said caught his attention. 'Outside? Where the trees are...and sunlight?' he thought. He nodded. He never got the chance to go out and do anything. Rather than running through the streets and playing on the playgrounds with other children, he was cooped up in a room with an old man who occasionally came to visit and a lady who brought him food. Boring didn't come close to describing the monotony of his young life.

"Yes," he said, nodding his head. "Anything is better than here."

The expression on the older man's face softened and a fiercely protective look came into his eyes. 'You don't have to stay here any more. What does the third Hokage think he is doing, keeping you in here like this?'

"Alright then. Hold on tight and stay very quiet. You can call me Ojii-chan, okay?" the man said as he scooped Naruto up into his arms tenderly.

"Yes, Ojii-Chan." Naruto replied and buried his face into the man's shoulder.

He eased through the window again and carried Naruto to an apartment building far away from the Hokage Tower. Shortly after Naruto settled in to the place, he began to teach the child, hoping to instill some valuable skills that would allow him to go out on his own.

Naruto matured much faster than any other child Ojii-chan had ever seen. He learned to read, think carefully, analyze situations, and act decisively years before he would be old enough to join the ninja academy in Konoha. He was also taught several useful skills that he later learned were known as jutsu. Although Ojii-chan took the time to train him, he also made sure that Naruto had fun as well. He already knew that the kid was going to live a hard life.

He had never known the true identity of the man who has taken him from his previous home, and despite his young age, he instinctively felt that this knowledge would have been dangerous for the both of them.

When he told Ji-Chan what had happened to his eyes that day, a concerned and troubled look came into his face. He quickly brought Naruto back to the apartment and locked the door behind him, using a jutsu to create a sort of barrier around the place.

"Do not touch this door. You can play in here for the rest of the day." Ojii-chan told him sternly.

Later in the evening the man went out and didn't return until nearly midnight with several scrolls and a small box. What Naruto learned that night had never once dimmed from his memory. His mother was from the Uchiha Clan, a rare girl in a village that mostly consisted of boys and men.

Even rarer still, she inherited the power of the Sharingan, a powerful kekkei genkai that allowed the wielder to see an attack of jutsu and copy it instantly.

All of the women of the Uchiha Clan possessed pure Uchiha blood, but lacked the chakra and strength to ever activate the Sharingan. The women were instead trained in arts of ninjutsu and genjutsu and the abilities of their blood-line remained dormant. Any female who carried this trait was considered a curse, but Naruto's mother was able to survive by wearing contacts to hide her heritage and eventually sealed the power within her temporarily. The punishment for concealing her kekkei genkai was death.

Over time, fear and pressure swayed her decision to continue hiding her Sharingan. She staged her own death and fled to Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village, where she met and fell in love with a man named Arashi.

Even after she confessed her identity to him as well as the Sharingan that she had sealed, they still lived together and eventually married. They lived together until one fateful night when Naruto was born.

The Kyuubi, or the nine-tailed-fox as some know it, went on a rampage and destroyed most of Konoha on the night of October 10. Naruto's mother was injured when a nearby building collapsed and caused enormous debris to fly through the air. She went into labor shortly after Arashi found shelter for her at a nearby inn.

With the help of countless jonin, chunin, and ANBU Black Ops, Arashi was able to create a powerful seal the demon inside of Naruto, his own son, by making a deal with the Death God, Shinigami. Sadly, the jutsu cost him his life, and his mother died shortly after giving birth.

Naruto was left in the care of the third Hokage until he disappeared one night after turning five by a mysterious man who offered him the chance to live outside the walls of his room. All of Konoha learned later that he had been taken, but no one was ever able to find out who took him or where he was taken.

After Ji-chan finished recounting the story of Naruto's past, he opened the scrolls and showed the boy a picture of a dark red eye with three tomoes in them.

"Is this what your eyes looked like, Naruto?" he asked.

The blond-haired boy pulled the scroll closer and frowned. He reached out to touch the iris, running a finger over the little comma-shaped dots. Ojii-Chan watched patiently for Naruto to answer.

"There weren't so many dots in them. Only one. Not three." Naruto replied slowly.

"Do you know what this is?" Ojii-chan pointed to the picture on the paper.

Naruto scanned the scroll for words and finally found a small paragraph inked onto the bottom of the parchment. He mouthed the words silently as he read through the details concerning the image.

"It's a blood-line trait, a kekkei genkai. The Sharingan." he said although it was more of a question than a statement.

"Yes. And you have this trait from your mother. This is a special kekkei genkai. Once you activate it and master the proper skills, you will be able to do many things with it. However, you know that the villagers don't really like you, correct? Well, you have to hide this from them. You mustn't ever show this to anyone except me."

"Yes." Naruto replied, blue eyes clouding over with sadness as he remembered the lonesome times he had to walk through the village.

It was always with the looks, and now he knew why. The demon...the powerful demon whose unbridled strength was no match for anyone except his own father, Arashi...it was sealed inside of him. But he wasn't a demon. Ji-Chan always said that having a powerful demon sealed in his belly did not ever, ever, make him the same thing.

"You are always human. You just have a little extra on the inside, that's all. Remember that. The mean things that people say aren't true."

"I understand. But how can I hide it? And my eyes aren't like that now, are they?" Naruto asked, eyes wide.

Ojii-Chan couldn't help but laugh at the gesture. After all, he looked so much like a child with the wondering expression on his face.

"No. But the next time your eyes change, come and tell me as soon as you can. Try not to let anyone see them. When you're older, your eyes probably stay like that all the time." the older man explained while looking at his charge, who nodded with a seriousness so uncharacteristic of him it was funny.

With the discovery of Naruto's kekkei genkai, the sharingan, Ojii-chan had gone out and bought contacts in the same deep blue that he'd grown up with until his ability appeared. At first Naruto hated to wear them all the time because they constantly bothered him, but he wore them to please the man who had watched over him ever since he was five. When he was ten years old he came to accept them and then even to like them because a few days after he turned ten, his eyes bled into the Sharingan and became permanent.

After Ojii-chan left him for reasons unknown, Naruto used his knowledge to disguise his appearance and work to earn money so he could buy the contacts himself.

End flashback and memory...

Naruto shook his head, breaking himself out of his reverie, and glanced at the clock.

"Ah! 7:10 already! I'm gonna be late!" he dashed to the kitchen.

He put on his shoes and scarfed down a bowl of cold miso ramen that had been sitting in his refrigerator for several days.

He ran a quick brush through his blond hair before locking his apartment door and running out into the streets of Konoha in the direction of the practice field. He could just imagine his teammates' irritation at his tardy arrival. 'Oh boy...' he thought...'I'm gonna get an earful from Sakura when I get there. This stinks. Maybe I should just stay home...'

Chapter one edit is complete. I'm working on a time-line which will hopefully ensure that certain events make more sense and are more believable. I want to keep the characters ages in line with the anime as well. Right now all of Team 7 is 12. The next revised chapter will be up as soon as possible. Until next time. Ja ne!