Teaser: Sasuke had not been the first Uchiha that Orochimaru had set his sights on. He had merely been the only one to survive... That people knew of.

Summary: Mitarashi Anko is Orochimaru's most well-known student. With the Snake Sannin's defection and her survival of the curse seal, her other two team-mates (plus the others who had also received the seal) are often overlooked. Added to the fact that one is presumed dead, and the other never made it past the position of an academy teacher, is it any wonder? But her late teammate isn't as dead as everyone thinks. HunterxHunter crossover. Slight AU.

Disclaimer: I (we) don't own Naruto or HunterxHunter. This applies for all future chapters.

And with the exception of possibly four other stories (one in French, one in Filipino, one that wasn't really a crossover, and one that just so happened to have HxH in the summary), I present to you the first (decent?) NRT-HxH fanfic! Er, at least I hope...

Black River

Chapter 00: Prologue

By Hikagi and A Writer Wannabee

Life is like a river: it flows steadily from the mountains to the ocean, no matter what obstacles are in the way.

That had been something a very precious someone had said to me back when I was still a little brat running around and causing everyone trouble. I think I was being reprimanded while he spoke to me about what I had (at the time) thought to be philosophical crap. Though I guess, now that I've grown up somewhat, I can see what he was telling me. Or what he had been trying to tell me while I was tied down to a chair and forced to sit through his lectures.

In the end, I think I just brushed him off at the end of the hour. I don't know how he was able to stand me, let alone look at me with fond eyes. Heaven knows how I've been an absolute terror since I learned how to walk. But still, I can't help but think to what he had been saying about his outlook on life and his comparison of it to a river…

A couple of rocks thrown in will not upset the general stream of time, no matter how big the ripples spread or how high the water splashes.

Of course, the rocks were obstacles, tragedies and whatnot like the Third Shinobi War or the Kyuubi Incident. Or that one time when the Third was assassinated when the Sound and Sand tried to take over the village.

But after a time, all rocks will settle on the bottom of the river, forming a new layer for the water to run over and eventually smoothen out, and life will continue on as before despite any formations in its way.

Hmm. "Life will continue on…"

The whole analogy reminds me of this one place I used to frequent as a kid. It was a little ways from my old apartment, but not a lot of people were there to disturb me. There weren't any fish in the area due to chemical poisoning, but that didn't matter to me at all. In fact, I think I liked it all the more because the people stayed away for that very reason.

It wasn't like the water was dirty or anything. No, not at all. It was relatively safe – the poison had been a one-time accident and most of its traces were long gone. The area surrounding the river was really peaceful too. And during the dry seasons, if the water was clear enough, you could see all the stones that had made their way into the river, even during the night.

Sometimes I'd play a game with myself, seeing if I could use these stones to hop across without getting wet above my knees. It was even more challenging during the night when the forest seemed to grow and cut off all sources of light. But when the water turned black once a year on the darkest new moon, I made sure not to go there because it was hard to see what lay beneath its surface, what lurked in the mysterious depths.

They say that trouble brews near the riverbeds on these nights and tell horrifying stories to scare some of the children from misbehaving. However, all rumors are based on some truth, and the tale of the Black River is the same. Our teachers had warned us to never go anywhere at night, but I have never been one to listen.

The rumors first started when a woman came to our village, seeking refuge from a group of human hunters who were after her blood. It was a new moon and the guards on patrol duty were especially alert and tense due to low visibility, but they could still clearly recall her physical appearances. She was turned away due to political reasons that prevented the higher-ups from granting her asylum. No one knew what happened to her after that.

Many, many years later, they found her body floating in a river nearby the village. Her hair had grown so dark that the team patrolling had trouble distinguishing where it began and ended. The officials said that she had drowned in a suicide attempt, but my sensei told me the autopsy reports stated that she had been poisoned and her body had been marked with signs of struggle.

No one dares to question out loud how she had managed to survive all the years beforehand. But the strange thing is that she was found on the exact new moon (according to the lunar calendar) as she was last seen alive. Her hair had also managed to turn darker, almost as if the moon's influence had made her undergo a metamorphic change.

What's even stranger is that there had been accounts of a lady dressed in white who wanders around when there is barely enough light from the moon to see properly. But every time someone tries to confirm these reports, she disappears until the investigation is over. However, according to sources, she appears next to Black River without fail, and only umm, innocent individuals can see her.

They named that river Kurogawa after that rumor. It is a superstitious place that only the very daring or the foolish bother to visit. To this very day, it is still called such and is spoken about just as much as the Kyuubi incident, which is to say, very little. I wasn't alive when it all happened, but I recall growing up hearing whispered comments about the whole ordeal. I have no idea if any of it is true, or which parts had been fabricated, though. Rumors tend to get all the facts mixed up, as I have personally experienced.

Anyway, some time after I had been promoted to the rank of genin, I went there one day on the new moon to see if I could catch a fleeting glimpse of the woman they spoke about. After many hours of waiting and very nearly falling asleep, my efforts paid off.

She appeared like an apparition before the riverbed, dressed in a pristine white robe. Her long black hair flowed out like the waters behind her as she slowly made her way towards me. At this point, I was too shocked and blank to process what was going on.

Eventually, she managed to reach where I was rooted to the ground and placed a hand on my head. She bent over to kiss my forehead and I could feel something wash over me like a cool shiver of wind. Then, leaning so that her lips brushed against my ear, she whispered something that I could barely distinguish. Her words sounded like the raindrops falling from the skies. She then smiled at me and placed a hand on my cheek, caressing it like a mother would do to her child.

I know what it is you seek for. You will find the answers to your questions soon. Do not trouble to come look for me in curiosity, as the only one who can relieve me of my suffering no longer remembers who he is.

I don't remember ever closing my eyes, but when I opened them, she was gone and the sun was rising. Somehow, I had fallen asleep with the ghost-lady in front of me, holding me gently like the mother I never had. And now I was late for training, but I couldn't find it in me to care very much.

Looking back, I should have at least asked her why she seemed so sad, or at least to know what her name was. But I have never been known for thinking ahead, and soon the memory of visiting the Black River lady was driven far from my mind. By current events or supernatural forces, I wouldn't know. It would be a while before I would be able to recall this incident, and that in itself leads to a whole different story.

--Taken from the memoirs of Uzumaki Naruto, Rokudaime of Konohagakure no Sato

Authors' Notes:

Yes, another crossover fic. And this time it's a collab between A Writer Wannabee and I.

At first, we wanted to complete the fic before we began posting, but our hectic schedules and stuff led us to change our decision. So now Black River is being posted, and while it is no where near being complete, the basic outline and plot elements are already configured and waiting to be stretched out. And the other series didn't come into play yet, but as the story progresses, you'll see where we are going with this. HxH doesn't come in until waaaaaaaaay later. Just a warning.

And that little review button at the bottom of the page? That helps us when we're stuck at with writers' block. Plus it's really encouraging when we get to hear from the readers about what worked and why.

Yatsuka Hikagi

A Writer Wannabee

September 16, 2006