The Demons of the Mist

Naruto smiled contentedly at the charm bracelet hanging from his belt. Hinata had given it to him just before he had left. So far it had three charms: a four leaf clover, two hands grasping each other and a fox's head- Luck, Friendship and Trickery; things that seemed to describe him perfectly. It had been two days since Team 7 and Tazuna had left the leaf village on their way towards Wave and the entire team was bored out of their mind. While it was nice to be out of the village walls for once, each of the Genin was hoping something would happen! Heck, a wild animal attacking would be preferred over Kakashi's giggling and the bridge builder's drunken ramblings.

Naruto idly fingered the bracelet once more remembering their parting at the southern gate with a soft smile.

"Be careful, Naruto-kun." Hinata had mumbled after handing him the bracelet. She looked like she had sprinted to her clan home and back again. Naruto wouldn't be surprised to know that she had. He smiled widely at the gift before looking back at the young woman.

"Thanks Hinata-chan!" He blushed, noticing the soft look she was giving him. "It's really nice!"

She giggled, brining her hand up to cover her mouth. "It also describes you perfectly." Her face quickly lost its happy look, sagging into a more concerned one. "Naruto-kun…please be safe…"

"It's just a C-class mission, Hinata-chan." He assured her, affectionately placing a hand on top of her head. She blushed and gave mocking glare. "Don't worry." It was an amusing sight, he was sure, considering the Hyuga Heiress was an inch or two taller than him, but he just loved seeing the alive sparkle in her eye whenever she found something funny. She was beautiful that way…

"You're right. I guess I'm just nervous." She blushed, brushing his hand off of her head, but gave his hand a small squeeze before it dropped to his side. "You should get going. I'll see you soon."

The look in her eyes told him that she thought something might happen; the same as Konohamaru had before he left. 'They're just friends that are worried,' he mentally told himself, while taking out his deck of cards and biting his right pointer finger, he began writing on the back of the first card. He needed something to distract his mind from the thought of them.

"Why are you writing on the back of playing cards, Naruto?" Kakashi asked, actually looking up from his book. The man was curious, as he had never seen that application of seals before. In the nearly two months that the team had been together, he had gotten over his grudge against the boy and learned to see that he was a good student. In fact, all of his students were endearing to him. Slowly but surely, they were making him proud to be their sensei. It was an odd feeling for him…

"You'll see…eventually." The boy smiled, without looking up from his work. Suddenly, something inside his gut flared, putting him immediately on edge.

"Where's your usual BINGO book?" Sakura asked.

"I finished it." He replied glancing sideways at two puddles on either side of the road. Naruto discreetly dropped two of the cards that landed on each puddle as the group passed. 'It hasn't rained in days either-' Suddenly, the 'puddles' leaped into the road, forming into two men with gauntlets shaped like hands connected to a spiked metal chain that wrapped around Kakashi. With a sharp tug, the two tore Kakashi to pieces.

"One down." One said, over Sakura's horrified scream.

"Three to go." The other finished, dashing toward Naruto, while the other headed towards Tazuna.

"Sakura protect Tazuna!" Sasuke yelled as the tossed a kunai, pinning the attacker's chain to a tree. The man never even faltered as he unhinged the gauntlet and continued his attack. "Dobe run!" Sasuke yelled, seeing his teammate wasn't moving.

Naruto smirked raising his hand as the man leaped. With a snap of his fingers, the card on the offending mans' chest exploded into thick wire and tied him to a tree. The force of the pull caused the metal claw to stretch further than Naruto expected, grazing the length of his arm and drawing a blood. 'Damn it!' the boy inwardly growled, watching as blood trickled out of the wound. 'What the hell was I thinking? That nearly didn't work!' He quickly looked towards the other man to see his other wire lying on the ground and the attacker kicking Sasuke away before running at a scared, yet determined, Sakura.

"Sakura!" The girl's teammates yelled, each rushing to try and intercept the missing-nin. The man was suddenly stopped as Kakashi grabbed the man in a headlock, knocking him out. Naruto and Sasuke sighed before turning to the other. "Saved your ass." Sasuke smirked, eyes glinting with a familiar light. 'You alright?' was the unasked question. The Uchiha had stolen a glance towards Kakashi's body (after hiding his shock that his sensei was, in fact, alive) only to find that the body was a pile of ground up logs. The young man shook his head, now focusing on his injured teammate.

"Didn't need it." Naruto replied with a smirk of his own. "I'll be alright." He assured his other teammate, seeing her come over and gasp at the sight of his sliced arm. She nodded but continued to pull out her first aid kit and begin the wrap the wound up.

"The cut isn't too deep, but I'm going to wrap it just in case," she told him calmly, as she began to secure his arm in the gauze.

"Their claws had poison on them." Kakashi sighed, inspecting one of the gauntlets. He watched his female charge nod and hand Naruto a small pill that he eagerly swallowed. With that taken care of, the Jonin turned his attention to their client. "You have some explaining to do, Tazuna." The man looked quite scared but sighed before looking at the group with pitying eyes.

"My country is in poverty. About a year ago, a man named Gato came to our land and since then has been sucking up our money and resources dry. Our elders had given me what the country had left for this but only could afford a C-rank mission." The old man growled in frustration. "Gato wants me dead because of the bridge I'm building. If it is finished, people from the main land will come in and will boost our economy, taking control out of Gato and his shipping companies' hands. I'm sorry I lied and put your team in danger, but I had no other choice."

"Damn this hurts…" Naruto groaned, catching everyone's attention as he moved his arm around. "You should have told the old man Hokage. I'm sure he would have come up with something to help you, but either way I want to continue on, Kakashi-sensei."

"Naruto are you crazy!" Sakura yelled.

"I spent all that time wanting a better mission, and I finally get one that's a challenge." He said walking over to one of the men tied to a tree. "I'm up for a challenge." He smiled reassuringly.

"I say stay." Sasuke nodded. "After all, someone's got to watch the dobe's back." Sakura's face brightened.

"We know." Naruto sighed, glancing at Sakura, as she and Sasuke walked over to stand by him.

The black haired boy looked to his blond teammate while handing him a packet of smelling salts. "You sure you can interrogate him, dobe?" His teammate hadn't needed to say anything to them. He just knew, as he figured Sakura did, that Naruto was going to try. He really couldn't explain it, and if Sasuke was honest with himself, he was slightly annoyed that he knew someone so well.

Naruto glanced at Kakashi, who was watching the trio with a blank look, before the older man nodded. Naruto retuned the nod and then returned his attention to the tied up man. Out of sight, he heard his sensei walk over to their other assailant. "I can certainly try," he answered, tearing the packet open with a grimace.

"Who are these people?" Sakura asked.

"The Demon Brother's from the village of Mist." Naruto answered looking down at the still unconscious missing-nin. "They have quite the bounty on their heads." He bent low, and placed the packet under than mans nose, almost immediately the missing-nin jerked awake. "Who are you working under?" the Jinchuriki asked.

"Why the hell do you think you are, brat?" he growled. A second later the man's eyes went wide and he tried desperately to back away. Sasuke and Sakura stiffened at the frightened look the man had taken. It surprised the two that whatever Naruto was doing would cause that.

"Who is it!" Naruto growled again, his voice was deeper and far more menacing than it normally sounded to his teammates. A slight pressure in the pit of the stomachs made them take a step back in fear, though they would never admit it out loud.

"Monster!" The man tried crawling up the tree, his back failing to get him very far. Sakura could faintly smell the man's urine as he pissed himself in fear trying to get away from the younger boy.



"Not him!" a slap across the man's face interrupted. "Who else is working with you if you failed!"

"I-I don't know! I don't know, I swear! Please don't kill m-me—AH!" the man screamed before fainting and slumping against the tree once more. Naruto sighed, running his hand through his already messy hair. The oppressing atmosphere had gone again, and the Uchiha and Haruno could breathe easily once more.

"What the hell was that!" Sasuke asked, shocked, as Naruto stood up. He hated to admit it but for a second, he feared what Naruto would do. It was a side neither him nor Sakura had ever seen on the normally cheerful boy, and frankly, neither of them wanted to see it again.

"I…learn things when living with Kaje." He smiled cheerfully. "His teammate works for the T & I department, so he taught me some things that would be useful on the field." Before the two could ask him anymore questions, Kakashi appeared again. "I didn't learn anything of use, sensei."

The man nodded, expecting as much. "Neither did I," the cyclops sighed. "He had a cyanide capsule hidden inside his one of his teeth." Sasuke quickly went and checked the other brother, pulling out a fake tooth a minute later, failing to hide the look of disgust that crossed his face for a moment. "Whatever the case," their instructor continued, "What comes next is going to be stronger than a couple of Chunin. I've sent a message to the village asking for them to come and collect the bounties on these two as well as interrogate them further, but hope for back up is not expected considering that the majority of our forces are already on missions." The three looked at their sensei with intense gazes, the seriousness of the situation falling upon each of their shoulders. "We'll rest here for a while and then we'll continue on."

It had been a few hours since their run-in with the Demon Brothers. The team had been on constant pins and needles since their first encounter, always on the lookout for suspicious activity. Even Sakura was, for once, acting serious, which greatly surprised both the boys. After getting to the ocean's edge, Team 7 boarded a small boat to reach Wave. The ride was slow, due to them having to row instead of using the engine as to not be heard, but soon they reached land. "Be on your guard, team." Kakashi warned as they got into their positions around Tazuna.

As the group continued to walk the team began to feel very nervous. Each of them was sweating a bit and eyes darted from side to side. Kakashi mused to himself that his team was surprisingly handling things quite well for being such a potentially high ranked mission. Despite his thoughts on the group reminding him of his own team back during the war, he realized that as time went on and he worked with the three further, the similarities between the two teams, while close to one another, were also very far.

Sasuke was, at least in his mind, a spitting image of a younger Kakashi. The boy was a prodigy. He worked tirelessly and his attacks, techniques, and plans were nearly flawless, for a Genin. He was driven, even though Kakashi did not like his particular drive, and it certainly made him worthy of the Rookie of the Year title he had been given. Things came naturally to the boy and it showed. While not a stickler for the rules as Kakashi had been, the young Uchiha reminded him of himself.

But then again, the boy was already starting to open up, something that Kakashi had not done until it was too late. Even though the young man had his misgivings towards his two teammates, already Kakashi could see that Sasuke could read the two other Genin's actions and plan accordingly, just as they could do with him. It was astounding the amount of progress these three had made in just less than two months of training together. It was a trust that had crept up on the three and influenced them subconsciously, and was only a matter of time before they consciously realized it.

Sakura was someone that reminded him of his former teammate, Rin. Like the Inuzuka, Sakura was kind and understanding towards both her teammates (a little more violent towards one of them sadly) but could not hold her own until recently. She was making, to his surprise, astonishing progress from her former level after leaving the academy. Already the young Haruno was delving into the medical arts (something that Kakashi had noticed while subtly watching the three Genin after training) and taking to it like a fish to water. He was curious to know, though, what made her want to pursue that particular ninja art?

Whatever it was, it had improved her attitude towards the ninja life as a whole. He had watched her pour over countless medical books, making notes, and even going as far as to try to perform techniques on fish (a very advanced technique for beginning medical users). While she had yet to make any success in that regards, she had not given up and was, as far as he knew, still trying. However, all this begged the question of why she showed the same fan-girl attitude during training? Yes, it was toned down, but it was still there. The Jonin knew it would not just go away, but what did the girl have to hide?

On the subject of hiding, Kakashi's mind drifted toward the final member of Team 7, Uzumaki-Namikaze Naruto. Kakashi would be the first to tell you that he did, in fact, hate the boy. At least that would be his response if you had asked him a month ago. Yet, slowly but surely, the young blond had shown him that he was not the demon that he contained and was just a hard working ninja that had been given a horrible lot in life. Kakashi trusted his sensei's seals; they were the best of the best and could not fail. He knew that, but that stigma could not be broken so easily, or at least until Naruto had wormed his way into Kakashi's heart. The boy had an air about him that made people want to trust him, to believe in him, and it was something that reminded Kakashi of Obito the most. Kakashi's former teammate was just like that. In addition, just like the deceased Uchiha, the blond Genin goofed off just as much.

Unlike the Uchiha though, Naruto had carefully hidden his potential behind a mask of the dead last. The boy had taken the deceptive aspect of Shinobi life and had breathed it. Lived it for years, so much so that he was nearly swallowed by it. 'Just like Gai,' the man thought with a silent sigh. Naruto, after a week of training, could very well hold his own against both Sasuke and Sakura in a spar, if only just barely. He won half of their matches based solely on the boy's creativeness and dirty tricks, something that the other two were very quick to cotton on to and emulate in their spars as of late. If Kakashi had to guess, Naruto was on par with, or maybe just below, Sasuke's level, which was good since it gave the self-proclaimed avenger more of a challenge to work harder.

The three Genin had teamwork that was on par with the Sannin. It was a thought that sent shivers of excitement down the man's spine. If he could train these three properly, they would be known and feared throughout all of the elemental nations. Kakashi just prayed that they did not turn out like the current incarnations: a Letcher, a Drunk gambler, and a deranged psychopath. 'I just have to make sure they survive this mission first,' he thought with another sigh. He was pulled from his thoughts when his blond student began to be beaten over the head for, from what he could tell, nearly killing a white rabbit the boy found hidden in a bush.

'White rabbit?' Kakashi thought before feeling a slight pickup of chakra from behind them, as well as a low swoosh of an object speeding through the air. "Get down!" the man yelled pulling Tazuna down. Sasuke grabbed Sakura and Naruto right when a zanbatō spun where their necks should have been a second ago and dug itself deep within a tree. As it hit, a man with bandages on his mouth and scars all over his body landed on the huge weapon. His black, eyebrow-less eyes looked malevolently at the group. On his head, tilted to the side, was his headband with the insignia of the village Hidden in the Mist crossed out. When he spoke, his voice was gruff and menacing behind his bandages. "Hatake Kakashi, also goes by the name 'Copy-cat' Kakashi. What a surprise this is." He laughed, taking in the group as if they were ants.

"You must be-"

"-Momochi Zabuza. A former member of the Seven Swordsmen of the 'Bloody' Mist." Naruto interrupted. "You were exiled and named rouge after a failed coup d'état against the Mizukage, Yagura. You're listed as a high A-rank, low S-rank, Missing-nin. You also killed your entire graduating class without ninja training, giving you the name 'Demon of the Mist'."

'Shit, we won't be able to handle him for very long…' the Uzumaki panicked internally.

"I'm flattered that one so young knows of me." The proclaimed demon spoke, eyeing Naruto with newfound interest.

"I find other villages history…entertaining." Naruto suppressed a shudder. He should not have spoken. It painted a much larger target on his head then needed right now, especially with this man. But his voice worked solely out of fear; this was a situation that he did not expect to be in, even though he should have.

"Who are you?"

"Uzumaki Naruto." He replied with a small bow, watching as Zabuza laughed. He had hoped that a little theatrics might distract the man, but it obviously did not work.

"So you are one of the last Uzumaki?" he asked. "And the boy with the fan on his back is an Uchiha." He chuckled before turning his attention back to Naruto. "I've met another one of you before. Kaje was it?" Naruto, despite his protests, could not help but give a slight reaction at the sound of his brother's name. One that Zabuza seemed to take pleasure in. "Yes, he's given me quite a few of these scars. It's ironic what has happened to him and who you're sided with…Given your history."

Naruto's eyes widened further as fear gripped him. "What do you know of my brother?" he whispered shakily.

"I'm not one to say." The 'demon' laughed, grabbing the hilt of his blade. "Kakashi, hand over the old man and I'll spare your team of children."

"No can do, Zabuza." Kakashi replied dryly, lifting his forehead protector to reveal a Sharnigan eye.

"How can he have the Sharnigan!" Sasuke whispered softly. "Is he-" Just then, Zabuza leapt from the tree and landed waters surface. Naruto watched closely as he performed a few hand seals then said darkly, "Kirigakure no Jutsu!" Slowly, a thick mist began to enclose the area.

"Sairento Kiringu no Jutsu…" Naruto gasped, glancing at his teammates.

"I take it we need to be careful?" Sakura whispered as she backed up to cover Tazuna's left side, knowing the other two had moved as she did, forming a triangle around their client. She could not help but feel nervous as chakra, laced with killer intent, flooded her senses. Even so, she struggled to suppress her body from shaking and pay attention.

"Hm…" Naruto nodded. "If we're not, we'll be dead before we know it." He sighed, closing his eyes in concentration.

"Eight points," a voice grinned. "Liver, lungs, spine, jugular vein…carotid artery, brain…kidneys, heart." The three Genin stiffened as the killing intent spiked unnaturally.

"Where's it coming from?" Sakura yelled. "It seems like he's everywhere!" She couldn't breathe; her lungs felt like they were going to collapse with every breath she took. She could vaguely feel Sasuke and Naruto trying to force chakra through the area, hoping it was a genjutsu that was causing them to feel this vulnerable and weak. The weak feeling that she knew the two hated above all else, a feeling that she was starting to hate just as much. It had to be a genjutsu that was doing this and not their own inexperience…

"Now, which critical point shall I choose?"

'So much killing intent…' Naruto thought, scared, his hands shaking as he tried to weave hand signs together. It was all he could do to not snap his own neck and get away from this oppressive feeling. Nothing, not even the villagers' avoidance of him felt this horrible. He wanted to die, but he knew he couldn't…not yet… 'Kami, please let this work!'

'This is what it's like…' Sasuke thought, trembling. 'Two Jonin ready to kill each other at a moments notice…You almost want to kill yourself to get away…' Slowly and without notice, he began to raise his kunai. He wanted to die! This was too much! Not even Itachi had made him feel this powerless, this pathetic…he just wanted to get away by any means necessary!

"Calm down, everybody!" Kakashi shouted making the three stop. His chakra suddenly flooded the three Genin, calming them down instantly. "I won't let my comrades die. I promise."

"Too late." Zabuza retorted, appearing in the center of the group. The three children stiffened in fright, but, before their foe could strike, Kakashi appeared with his blade sticking out of Zabuza's side- a clean kill shot. But instead of blood, there was water pouring from the wound.

There was a dark chuckle before Kakashi was cut in two by another Zabuza who was behind him. However, like the former clone, he too popped into water as well. 'He copied my technique in an instant and used it.' Zabuza thought as a blade was pressed against his neck.

"It's over." Kakashi growled, pressing the blade closer to the mist ninja's neck.

"So you think," he said as he burst into water. Kakashi's eyes widened and he stumbled back as a large zanbatō pierced the ground where he was standing. Using it as a post, Zabuza spun and kicked Kakashi, sending him flying into the lake. "Suirō no Jutsu." The silver haired Jonin was trapped inside a large bubble of water, Zabuza's arm holding it in place.

"Kakashi-sensei!" The group yelled. A water clone appeared a few feet in front of the two. "I think I'll kill your team first, Kakashi, right in front of you."

"Take Tazuna and run!" Kakashi yelled. "This fight was over the minute I was captured."

"Shit!" Naruto cursed. "We need a—" Zabuza's clone suddenly appeared in front of the group, zanbatō arched mid swing. Kakashi watched horrified as, in an instant, the Demon of the Mist's clone carved a bloody arch through the three Genin and their charge. He watched as the bodies of his students, each with a horrified look upon their faces, fell gracefully to the ground before suddenly exploding into a fiery ball of flame and molten steel, killing the clone.

It was this that caused the astonished Zabuza to barely block the projectiles coming at him and his captive from the tree to their left. Raising his blade, he watched with veiled surprise as playing cards indented themselves into his famed blade before exploding, nearly taking his arm off in the process. As it was, the force of the blast knocked the blade away from him and pushed him further into the water, surprisingly still holding Kakashi in place. "You brats!" the missing-nin roared, facing the tree where the odd weapons came from.

Naruto cursed as Sasuke and Sakura helped him up. Using the Jibaku Bunshin no Jutsu, putting them under a Henge to make them appear like his party, and having them go off at a specific point after their death, as well as those card bombs and Kawarimi no Jutsu took a lot out of him, even with his large chakra reserves. He was tired and his disappointment that his plan did not work was not making the situation any better. "Damn it…" he murmured as he watched the man ground himself more on the water.

"Good job, Naruto." Sakura spoke, fully lifting him up with Sasuke's help. "You got his sword away from him." She was surprised the plan did not work fully, but at least Zabuza's reach couldn't kill them any quicker. She watched Sasuke nod with a tight smirk upon his face. She knew, even though he still would not admit it, her crush was impressed with the blond-haired boy's plan. 'We've all changed so much in two months…' she thought with a happy sigh.

"Yeah, Dobe, now leave it to the professionals." Sasuke silently took out a large Oni-Shuriken, and unfolded it. "I think I can distract him with this while you make another one in its shadow." The Uchiha turned towards Sakrua. "Think you can guard me while I—"

"—I don't think I'll letcha do that." Turing quickly the trio froze as a man appeared behind them and their charge. Tazuna stiffened and shakily glanced behind him. The man was tall, not overly so, but shorter than Kakashi, with green eyes and red hair that touched his shoulder. He wore a short sleeved, yellow shirt, covered by a thigh length blue jacket and green pants and sandles. None of them could see a Hitai-ate. In his hands was a simple katana, poised to strike right at the old man. "Goodbye, bridge builder." He smiled before striking.

Acting on instincts, Sasuke swung the oni-shuriken as hard as he could, knocking the blade out of the way. Sadly, at the same time, Sakura tackled Tazuna out of the way causing the sword to pierce her shoulder instead before being ripped out as Naruto grabbed the three and leaped back into the clearing. The three landed harshly, each barely being able to stand up. Sasuke, thinking quickly, threw the oni-shruiken at a still steaming Zabuza who caught the blade but dove out of the way from the incoming one hidden in the shadow, freeing Kakashi.

"What are you three doing, I said—" Kakashi was stopped by Zabuza who was quick to continue his attack upon the 'copy-cat'. Pissed off, Kakashi knew he had to focus on his battle and not his students. He prayed he could end this as quickly as possible.

Naruto sighed in relief as Zabuza leaped away from the henged clone he had thrown at the last second. It seemed their half-baked plan worked and had successfully freed Kakashi, but now the three were pitted against another unknown character. Turning quickly to help defend his friends, Naruto's heart stopped as he caught sight of a kunai blade aimed for his eye, wielded by a dark haired woman. There was a pull from somewhere inside his body that did not feel like his or his tenant's chakra, and he suddenly found himself behind the woman. As sound rushed back into his ears, he could hear a pissed off Sakura's cry of 'Shānnarō!' Leaping away from the woman, he saw Sakura punch the woman in the side of the face with surprising force, causing her to skid across the ground only to be caught by her partner.

"Are you okay, Naruto?" Sasuke called, jumping to his teammate's side, quickly joined by an equally concerned Sakura. Naruto numbly nodded, watching the two adversaries, all the while trying to pay equal attention to their sensei's battle and the bridge builder who was pressed against a tree behind them.

"You're quick, boy." The woman smiled predatorily as the male helped her up. Her voice was soft, nearly music like, but with a hint of danger thrown in. "How'd you do that?"

Naruto and the three just glared at the duo, their weapons at the ready. Sasuke and Sakura could feel the chakra draining from their bodies with each second that passed, their attention split just like their teammates'. While both were silently impressed by the actions of the blond, they knew they could wait until later to ask the same question. "Who are you?" Sasuke asked, eyeing their opponents carefully. "Why did you interfere with our battle?"

"Such a naive boy!" The male laughed. "To think that once a battle has started nobody else could join in. You Uchiha really are arrogant." His voice was deep, nearly baritone. If Naruto had been standing next to the man, he would bet that his ribs would be vibrating from the sound alone. "And yet, you are surprising. That little plan you came up with actually worked. Certainly took Zabuza by surprise. Your teamwork is also quite good."

"Answer the question!" Sakura yelled, no doubt acting braver than she actually felt. Like her teammates, she could feel the power radiating off these two, and it was on a higher level than they currently were.

The smiling man's grin vanished in an instant and he glared at her. "No." he spoke calmly, taking a step forward (and the Genin a step back). "I don't think I will."

"You should help your sensei up," the woman chimed with a sickening smile. "He seems to have killed Zabuza-chan." Taking a risk, the three took their eyes off their opponents and saw the missing ninja being taken away by, what looked to be, a hunter ninja. Quickly turning back, team 7 noticed that the two were nowhere in sight.

"They're gone," a cracked voice spoke from behind the three. The trio spun and saw that Tazuna was looking at the group with gratitude and a little bit of shame. He did not think that Gato would go this far to kill him, and it made him worry for the safety of not only these kids, but for his family back home. He decided immediately that he was bringing the team to his home, if only for a little more protection. "They disappeared when you weren't looking; a very stupid move on your part." He saw, with a little satisfaction, that the three kids seemed to deflate in a touch of shame on their actions.

Moving slowly, the group made their way towards their sensei, whom was lying on the ground. With a slight hint of fear, Sakura made her way over and checked Kakashi's pulse. Sighing in relief, which cause the other two to do the same, she looked towards Naruto and Sasuke. "He's alive, just unconscious, probably chakra exhaustion." She quickly plopped down next to the man and began to shake uncontrollably, tears falling from her eyes. The adrenaline had worn off and the situation now just hit her. She had been so close to death just now and it scared her more than anything. Before the pinkette could fully breakdown, she felt two strong hands place themselves upon her shoulders. Looking up she saw both Sasuke and Naruto trying to support her, despite the fact that they both looked just as lost, confused, and scared as her. 'I…I have some truly good teammates…no…friends…' she thought with a watery smile. Unknown to her, her thoughts mirrored the two boys' as Team Seven did its best to comfort one another.

Author's Note: Hello one and all! I'm proud to say that I am back after a long year and MANY problems with my computer. I'm EXTREMELY sorry that this has taken so long, but my computer, as I said before, had stopped working. I've since then, fixed that problem, for the most part. I hope that everyone has enjoyed this chapter, frankly, I loved writing it!

More chapters to come as soon as I can and I PROMISE you, it will not be MONTHS before they are up...hopefully. Haven't been very good on that part but I can say that I'm trying my best.

As always, a HUGE thank you to Ohiogal593. Without her, this story would be riddled with mistakes.

Per usual, Questions, Comments, Reviews, and Flames are welcome!