Standard Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Hell... I barely own the idea. Inspired by Vesvius, and credit to wannabeamonkey, Ike and Lord Geryon for helpin me out in my time of need. Special thanks to everyone from the Slicer!Naruto thread, for fleshing out this idea enough for me to take interest in it in the first place. And most importantly... thanks to all of you for rekindling my want for this story to continue.

Chapter 1: Bloody Inspiration and Bonds

A ninja's body is full of secrets.

In his short life, Naruto had seen far more than any other 6 year old should ever see. He had experienced hate and felt both emotional and physical pain at multiple points in his life, prejudice and violence enough to break even a grown man. Despite all this, Naruto held tightly to a dream... to be the strongest ninja ever, specifically...

To become Hokage.

Everything, from the calluses on their hands to the blood in their veins, can tell you much about a ninja. How they trained, what jutsu they used... hell, there's a Hyuuga Hunter who specializes in that, since they can see which tenketsu points were most used in the body. You can even figure out bloodlines and blood limits by studying them!

Of course, the paths to greatness and power are many. There is no one way to become a great ninja. After speaking to the Hokage one day, Naruto thought that this path required endless amounts of training and strength. That by learning different jutsu and learning how to fight, Naruto would eventually become a super ninja, getting missions to defeat bandits and save princesses.

That's why a Hunter's job is so important. If another village ever finds one of our corpses, they can unlock many of our secrets. Of course, that's why we do our damnedest to bring back corpses from other villages too.

Sadly, no one would teach Naruto, not even at the Academy. If that was the case, he would have to teach himself. He would learn different jutsu... he would discover the secrets of shinobi everywhere!

Bah, enough of this talking crap. The rookie gets it by now. Let's just pack up Shisui's body and get the hell outta here... I swear I feel like someone's watchin me.

Naruto watched as the military police packed away the dead man's body. A man who, half an hour ago, was arguing with a man named Itachi... a man who was killed by the other one's katana. He watched as the killer screamed in pain, hands covering his eyes as he fell to the ground, tears of blood flowing down his cheeks and streaking his pale skin in sharp contrast. The screams lasted for ten minutes, but to Naruto, hidden away nearby and doing his level best not to be discovered, it felt like an eternity. No matter how he covered his ears, those screams pierced through and echoed in his mind. When they finally ended, the killer stood and looked into the water of the nearby stream for a moment, before washing his face clean of blood. Afterwards, he simply threw the body into the river and left, never noticing the boy hiding quietly, frozen in fear and shock.

... what he witnessed was someone willing to do anything for power.

Shisui... you are my best friend. To further my goals, I need to awaken the cursed blood that flows through my veins. I will awaken the next stage of our Sharingan. Goodbye.

... and he realized... if he ever wanted to be Hokage, he would need to do the same. If he was to learn jutsu and gain enough power to become Hokage, he would need to study ninja closely. No living shinobi would allow him to watch them train, and he doubted anyone would teach him from his experiences with the Academy. So, he would have to study dead shinobi, just like the military police were talking about earlier.

As he watched them cart Shisui's corpse away, Naruto felt a tinge of regret. Still, he wouldn't know what to do with it even if he had it. The body would be too big for a simple boy like him to carry, as well. What he needed to do was study...

Perhaps the Hokage might have something he needed...

"Hokage-sama, Naruto is here to see you."

Looking up from his paperwork, the Sandaime Hokage smiled and gave his assistant a nod. "Do let him in, Airi-san, I could use a break from the paperwork." Nodding in return, the nondescript woman motioned for Naruto to enter. After she closed the door, Sarutobi smiled softly at the boy. "Remember this, Naruto. Having an assistant around makes things easier when you deal with a lot of work, ESPECIALLY for a Hokage." he said with a chuckle. "Now my boy, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

Looking around, Naruto tried to gather his thoughts. "Umm... well... Jiji, I was wonderin... y'know how I bugged ya to let me in the Academy early?"

Seeing Naruto bow his head and shuffle his feet had the elderly Hokage worried. "Yes..." he answered hesitantly. "In fact, you earned the right in a game of cards. Just what are you asking, Naruto?"

"Well... I was hoping to stop going for now... y'know... til I'm around kids my own age?"

Warning bells began ringing in the Hokage's head. "Whatever for Naruto? Is something happening at school?" Never had the Hokage seen Naruto look so downcast, nor has he known the boy to give anything up! Something was wrong, and Sarutobi was going to get to the bottom of this.

"Well... nobody's teaching me at the school... I... I was kinda hopin to teach myself before going back, y'know? I figure if I teach myself, then I can learn better... so when I finally go to school, I won't feel stupid all the time when they pick on me..."

He had no idea Naruto's scholastic career was so bad! Still, the boy brought up a few good points... "But Naruto, don't you want to be around other children? And what will you do if you don't understand what you are trying to study?"

Naruto let out a soft sigh and hung his head lower, completely hiding his face from Sarutobi's view. "... no one'll play with me anyway... Parents keep tellin their kids to stay away from me for some reason. And... well... if I don't understand..." Slowly, Naruto looked up at the old man, and he knew that the argument was lost the moment those hopeful blue eyes came into view, glimmering slightly with unshed tears. "I... I can always ask you... right?"

Sighing, Sarutobi did the only thing he could do... he nodded. "Of course Naruto. If you want, you can even access my personal library, but always let me know before hand. I'll go through and mark all the forbidden scrolls so you do not have to worry about seeing what you aren't supposed to, alright?" Seeing the boy's bright smile and feeling a powerful hug that nearly made his ribs groan seemed to make the world a little better for the old man. "There there... now, you cannot ask me questions at any time, but I'll make sure to set aside some time on Sunday to address any questions you might have. If you do well enough, I may even teach you some nice jutsu!"

Smiling brightly, Naruto thanked the Hokage. Later, as he made his way home, followed by an ANBU assigned to carry the books and scrolls he chose home with him, Naruto let his smile shift into something slightly darker. With this... I will be on my way to power...

Looking over his personal library, the Hokage was a bit puzzled as to why Naruto picked out a few medical texts, then merely waved it off. The boy is only 6, after all, perhaps he took it by accident in his mad dash for knowledge. Many of the terms would be far beyond what the boy should be able to understand...

Of course, one of the books Naruto borrowed was his dictionary...

Perhaps the boy understands more than I thought.

-Line Break-

Only couple days had passed since Naruto made his decision to leave school. Self-learning through reading was difficult... VERY difficult. But, not wanting to give up so early, and unwilling to go to sleep for fear of recalling just WHAT made him decide this in the first place, Naruto endured. Complicated terms were researched in the Hokage's dictionary, various books were strewn about the floor and bed of his apartment, open to various pages to make research easier. A book on anatomy was open to the chakra circulatory system, an addition made by a Hyuuga Medic-Nin , though it only explained how the chakra flowed in the average ninja body. Another book, somewhat older, was a catalog of sorts, detailing the different bloodlines in Konoha, giving only enough information to say who held it and a rough idea of what they did. Nothing concrete, just the kind of rumors and hear-say that Konoha wanted floating around.

After going over the various entries, Naruto felt frustrated. Even to one as young as him, a majority of what was said about the bloodlines seemed far fetched. "The Sharingan has the power to banish malevolent spirits, as well as hypnotize opponents with but a single glance. The Byakugan can perfectly see 360 degrees and can view opponents through solid objects, even if they are invisible." And that was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the nonsense.

What I really need is someone to teach me... he thought as he glanced around his apartment. Someone who can help me with stuff too, like Jiji's assistant. Sighing, Naruto decided to take a break. Too much information, after all, hurt his head. "I'll never understand this at this rate!" he grumbled aloud. At that moment, a loud growling sound rumbled through the apartment, emanating from Naruto's belly and interrupting any further line of thought. "Well... might as well get something to eat! Can't think on an empty stomach." Nodding at his own brilliance, Naruto decided there was only one thing to do. "To Ichiraku's!" he said excitedly. With course of action plotted out, Naruto got up and left his apartment, making his way towards his favorite ramen stand.

It was almost night time when Naruto left Ichiraku's. He had told the little family about his decision to leave the academy to try and teach himself, and despite being a bit shocked, the pair accepted his decision with smiles and support. After enjoying his ramen, Naruto decided to go for a walk. Despite the meal and the company of the Ichiraku family, Naruto was feeling... edgy. I need to do something! Naruto thought, his hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. I've been cooped up at home for two whole days, STUDYING! I don't want to go back just yet.. I need something to-

Suddenly, Naruto stopped as he came to a realization. Since it was a few days since his decision, he had not stepped foot into the Academy. No Academy meant no cold stares or teachers who wouldn't teach him. That meant... no pranks. He hadn't pranked anyone in two whole days! Sure he hadn't slept in as long either, but he could endure.

To the young boy, the pranking situation needed to be remedied. That, and the thrill of the pranking could be just the adrenaline boost he'd need to keep awake for that much longer. All he needed was a victim...

Fate... Kismet... Destiny... one could call the chance meeting any of these, but as Naruto turned a corner, he noticed an excited looking Uchiha boy running by. He didn't know the boy at all, but he DID recognize the telltale features that most male Uchihas shared. The dark hair, pale complexion and the slightly effeminate look that made it easy to underestimate them at times. The same features as the policemen who would give him a hard time. The same features that was shared by the killer and his victim that he saw a few days ago.

Had anyone been paying attention to Naruto, they might have noticed a rather manic looking grin on his face as he found his victim of the day. "Perfect."

Locked on target, Naruto trailed after his victim-to-be.

Naruto followed after the Uchiha boy closely, making sure not to be seen by anyone. It would be difficult to explain what he was doing following after an Uchiha... that, and if caught he might lose sight of his target. From the way he was running, Naruto could only guess that the boy was running home. Perhaps a bit of simple vandalism on the boy's house? Get the police station on his way out for laughs?

... maybe itching powder in their uniforms... THAT'S always good for grins. Sure it's small time... but then, not many people can get away with pranking the police like I can.

Noticing the kid stop at the entrance of the Uchiha sector, Naruto carefully made his way closer to the boy. Oddly enough, the area around the entrance was empty, even for this time of night. No lights shone from nearby buildings, despite the fact that it was around this time most people enjoyed dinner. There weren't even any police patrols along the streets or near the rooftops for some reason. Perhaps someone was dumb enough to steal something? Seriously, I've seen graveyards more lively than THIS place. Snickering, Naruto made to follow as his target ran further into the sector... the light bit of humor failing to keep the hairs on the back of his neck from rising.

After the Uchiha boy turned a corner, he stopped again, apparently in shock. From where he hid, Naruto could see a look of gut-wrenching fear in his eyes that worried Naruto further. What the hell was going on? Seeing the boy take off faster, Naruto moved to follow, only to notice the large amount of damage that was done to the surrounding area. Street signs and lanterns were sliced in half, while shuriken and other throwing weapons embedded themselves into various surfaces. Despite the lack of bodies, Naruto easily picked up a familiar metallic scent... one that he became all too familiar with a few days ago.


There were no signs of any bodies, or any telltale signs that he could see at first, but he could make out the scent easily. Shaking his head, Naruto made his way past the battle zone on his quest to keep the Uchiha boy in sight. This wasn't funny anymore.

Another length of street and another corner brought an even more gruesome scene than the battlefield before. Naruto noticed the boy pause briefly before bolting, but Naruto himself stopped at the scene to take in what the battlefield behind him lacked.


There were only two... most likely the only two in the area who were not in their homes at the time aside from the Police... or at least, the only two left outside. A dark part of Naruto's mind noticed that both were killed professionally, the areas cut on the dead bodies were sliced with precision. No unnecessary wounds and sliced in just the right areas for a quick, if bloody, death. One of the anatomy books he read instantly came to mind as he considered the full extent of the damage.

Of course, the scene brought something else to mind... The day he witnessed the man called Shisui die by the river Naruto decided to ditch classes. Shaking his head to purge the thought before it came fully, Naruto glanced around, barely missing the boy run into one of the bigger houses. Suddenly, Naruto's earlier thought came back to him as he made to follow...

Guess this place really IS a graveyard... Death and Uchiha seem to go hand in hand.

Morbid thoughts aside, Naruto decided the best course of action would be to sneak around the house instead of blindly following inside. If whoever did this was outside, he wanted a chance to escape out in the open, where he could possibly use anything in the surrounding area to get away. If it worked for escaping the police and the occasional ninja, he had high hopes for being able to escape whatever did this. If the killer was inside... well... that's why there were windows. Worse comes to worse, he could run off to the Hokage and describe what the killer looked like.

Naruto did his best to keep out of sight... glancing around before peeking through what windows he could find, hoping to keep the boy in sight. It was when he passed by what appeared to be the master bedroom that he spotted the man that he knew killed the couple outside... as well as everyone else in the area. The man, dressed in ANBU fashion sans the mask, sliced through another couple. Their blood sprayed along the floor with the force of the blow, just as the door to the room opened. Letting out a light gasp, Naruto noticed the ninja turn his way and pulled away from the window. Itachi! Naruto thought fearfully, instantly remembering the face of the man whose screams haunted his thoughts even now.

It was the face of the man who killed Shisui by the riverside a few days ago. The face of the man whose eyes cried blood as he screamed in horrible pain for an eternity. Naruto listened as the man talked with the boy, revealing him to be Itachi's little brother. He spoke about his reasons, how he wanted to measure his capacity. He listened as the little boy, whom the man called 'Sasuke', unleashed a fearful scream before running out, wailing for his life. Naturo heard the doors fly open and the boy's screaming reach the outside of the house, before he swallowed and hesitantly checked inside the room.

Both of the Uchiha siblings were gone, leaving only the two bodies on the ground.

"..." wheezed a soft, female voice.

Surprised, Naruto leaped into the room, making his way next to the woman on the ground. The man was dead, his lifeless eyes looking towards the wall, his face set in a permanent scowl. The woman, however, was stabbed in the chest, the deadly wound causing blood to saturate her clothes around the wound. Grabbing the woman's hand, Naruto whimpered, shaking her lightly. "H-Hold on! I'll get help, Lady!" Naruto cried. Maybe after that guy finishes off his little brother, he'll be long gone, right?

"... can't... die... yet... " the woman coughed up blood and her grip on Naruto's hand tightened. Her eyes turned to focus on the boy as tears welled up in her eyes, seeking salvation in the blonde haired boy before her. "... please... I... don't want... to die yet..."

"I... I'll get help! You won't die lady! I promise! Soon as we get ya to Jiji, he'll make you better!" Whimpering, Naruto began to look around frantically before doing his best to lift the woman up by the shoulders. Placing one of her arms around his neck, he leaned her against him as best as he could before dragging her out. "Uzumaki Naruto never breaks his word! Just don't die yet lady!"

"... Uzu... maki... Na... ru... to..." Naruto felt the woman clench his hand firmly once more as she gave him a relieved smile... before closing her eyes for the last time, her grip on his hand going slack.

Panic suddenly filled Naruto as he quickly dragged the woman with him outside. "C'mon, Lady... you're just sleepin' right? I told ya, Uzumaki Naruto doesn't lie! Don't die, lady! Just wait, Jiji will fix ya up!" Looking around, Naruto started to cry out. If this lady was alive, maybe someone else is, right? No one can kill every single person in a district! "HELP! SOMEONE! ANYONE! HEEEELP!"

"What are you doing with my mother's corpse?" asked a familiar, cold voice that froze Naruto where he stood. Whimpering, the blonde haired boy turned around... and looked right into the eyes that kept him sleep deprived since the last time he saw them, for they threatened to turn any dreams he might have into bloody nightmares.

"G... gotta save her..." he whimpered, his legs shaking so much it took everything he could to keep standing.

"You cannot save the dead... but if you wish, you can see just how I made her that way. Perhaps this will teach you not to meddle in affairs that do not concern you... Uzumaki Naruto-kun." With that spoken, those blood-red eyes changed, and Naruto felt himself falling into darkness. The clouds in the sky seemed to fly in reverse as the sky and moon switched colors... becoming a black moon set in a white sky, dark stars twinkling menacingly for a brief moment before he found himself standing in the same room he had just left. The woman he was saving was no longer in his arms, but kneeling on the ground next to the dead man, his face still set in that permanent scowl. Uchiha Itachi could be seen standing behind the two, katana drawn and a sinister smile seen on his face.

"For the next 24 hours... you will watch as I kill my parents, Uchiha Fugaku, my father and Uchiha Mikoto, my mother, over and over again, while being helpless to do anything about it." Naruto whimpered as he watched Itachi raise his blade, only to stop as Naruto let out a loud cry, his body moving as he rushed towards the killer. Smirking, Itachi brought his blade down, slicing through his father's chest, before stabbing his mother sharply. As the blood sprayed and their bodies fell, Naruto watched helplessly as he found himself standing by the door again, the bodies no longer on the ground, but once again kneeling before Itachi. Five more times he watched it happen, each time never making it in time to save the woman or her husband. After the last time, Naruto shuddered in anger when Itachi's voice rang out through the polarized world. "23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds..."

After two more seconds of this, something in Naruto broke. He couldn't stand to see his promise broken by this murderer! Cold, dark and primal anger filled Naruto as he began to see red...

Naruto soon found himself back in the real world, a look of shock and fear on Itachi's face confusing him, but the weight in his arms soon reminded him of what he was supposed to do. Itachi looked away briefly, before turning back to look at Naruto. "We will finish this some other time, Uzumaki Naruto-kun." And with that, Itachi bound away.

As soon as he was gone, Naruto turned to his charge and tried to shake her awake, not noticing that his clothes were soaked in her blood. He was far too focused on getting the woman help to see that she was already long gone. "Wake up... please wake up! You can't sleep just yet! Jiji is comin' soon, see? You'll be fine in no time! Don... Don't make me a liar... Mikoto-san..."


-Line Break-

Sandaime Hokage sighed as he watched over the unconscious Naruto. They were currently in the hospital, where the only doctor actually willing to treat the boy was brought in to take care of him. The boy looked peaceful in his sleep, though perhaps that was due to the fact that they had to use a strong sleep genjutsu on him to knock him out. The boy was frantic when they first found him...

By the time they arrived, they were too late. Not really understanding why the boy was in the Uchiha Sector, Sarutobi was shocked to find the boy crying while clinging to a woman's corpse. Upon seeing him, Naruto had begged him to fix 'Mikoto-san', going on about how she wouldn't wake up to get better. Any attempt to tell him she was dead was met with a fervent denial. He had apparently promised her she wouldn't die, that he would save her in time.

When his word was given, Naruto was always one to see the promise through... having to break his promise so soon like that broke something in him. Any attempt to take him away from the body was met with a feral snarl, the beginnings of a red chakra aura surrounding Naruto. Before anything else could happen, Sarutobi instantly knocked the boy out with a well placed chop to the neck.

A search of the entire sector produced only the quivering mass that was Uchiha Sasuke as the only survivor of the clan, with Naruto as the only other witness. Everyone else who called the Uchiha Sector home, ninja or otherwise, was bagged and carted off to the morgue, where examinations would take place in hopes that any possible clues on how a single ninja could possibly kill off an entire clan over the course of a single night.

The Council was raising a fuss, saying how Naruto was part of the act, since he was in the Uchiha sector at a dubious time of night. Unable to think of a reason for Naruto to be there, he put up a suggestion that the boy be interrogated. The Council readily agreed... so long as he used one of the more successful interrogators.

Luckily for Sarutobi, his suggestion went over moderately well with the Council.

After all, Morino Ibiki was perfect for evaluating Uchiha Sasuke's mental state, which left the one person Sarutobi believed he could trust with Naruto's interrogation.

"Hokage-sama, do I have to? Interrogation is boring when I don't have any toys to play with!"

"He's only a child. I just want you to find out what happened and why he was there... and promise me you will not harm the boy, he's been through enough as it is."

"Yes, Hokage-sama." Sarutobi's chosen ninja let out with a dramatic sigh.

"Thank you Anko-chan... I knew I could count on you"

Stepping into the hospital room, Mitarashi Anko looked at the only bed inside, a room she herself was familiar with. It was the room the hospital saved for patients that they were forced to help... ones whose reputations discomforted the populace, making treating them a chore.

After the first time waking up in this room, Anko made damn sure that she was good enough to stay far away from the hospital. Or at least make sure she made nice with Medic-Nin on missions.

Shaking her head to clear the re-surging memories of the past, Anko swore softly under her breath and decided to give the cause of these re-awakening memories a hard time. Putting on her best 'I don't wanna be here, but since I am you are gonna get it' face, she glared at the blonde haired kid laying on the bed. It's all HIS fault I'm stuck here, remembering things I shouldn't have to. Only to see something that all her years of being Orochimaru's student could never prepare her for...

After hearing rumors of the brat, she thought the kid would be withdrawn and silent, or perhaps even snarling and struggling against some restraints, after reading up on the boy's reaction to anyone who tried to take the Uchiha corpse away from him. Instead, the atmosphere in the room was intense, almost stifling, as the boy merely sat still and stared straight at something on the wall across from him. Orochimaru himself would put this kind of aura out when he was concentrating on a particular experiment... to have someone the brat's age putting out something like that was frightening to consider.

Clearing her throat to gain Naruto's attention, she made her way closer to the boy. He never once looked in her direction, favoring whatever it was he was staring at instead. When she reached the chair next to Naruto's bed, she took her eyes off the boy to get a good look at what he found interesting... On the wall, the target of the boy's attention was made clear. Three different diagram posters, one showing the standard skeletal system, another showing the muscular system, the last showing the internal organs found in the human body, were placed haphazardly on the wall, as if whomever put them up either didn't care how they looked or wanted to get out of there quickly. Considering how the kid was reacting to them, it was probably both.

"I asked them to put those there." Naruto said, startling Anko a bit and drawing her attention to the boy. "It's amazing what they'll do for you if they think it'll keep you from distracting them." The boy's voice was oddly calm, but held an intensity that matched the aura he put out.

Swallowing, Anko carefully sat down on the chair. Why the hell is this brat intimidating me?! The sooner I ask the damned questions and label the kid as nuts, the sooner I can get out of here! Unfortunately, Naruto interrupted the Special Jounin's thoughts by speaking up again, his eyes never leaving those three posters.

"Nee-chan... Did you know that a ninja's body contains secrets? From the calluses on their hands to the blood in their veins, everything about a ninja contains a secret. I heard an Uchiha talking about it... " Slowly, Naruto turned his head to face Anko, those blue eyes of his seeming to stare right into her soul... gauging her, reading her like a book... She was no longer Mitarashi Anko, Special Jounin with a bad rep... but Mitarashi Anko, orphan and specially chosen Genin... "Do you think that the body contains the secrets to bringing back the dead?"

Anko swallowed and slowly nodded. Seeing her reaction, Naruto lightly nodded in return before turning back to those posters. Shaking her head to snap out of her trance, Anko growled, feeling anger at herself rise. I am Mitarashi Anko, damnit! The loudest, flashiest and most importantly, self-proclaimed most dangerous kunoichi in Konoha! This kid is just a student, so there was no need to be all quiet like I used to be! This goddamned brat is not HIM! Standing up, she stomped her foot against the floor to get the kid's attention again. She would have preferred punching something, but then hitting the kid might interfere with his ability to speak.

"Ok punk, listen and listen good! I'll ask this once, and depending on your answer, you might live to see another day! What were you doing in the Uchiha Sector?!" Shouting helped to calm her nerves, bring her focus... the sound of her voice echoing in the room helped make her feel bigger, stronger. THIS was the attitude she needed! THIS was the real her!

Naruto took a moment to ponder the question, his head slightly tilting to the side. Everything about his actions pretty much contradicted what his file described his personality as, but Anko would make damned sure that this kid wouldn't intimidate her anymore! Shame she couldn't bring any weapons into the hospital though.

"I was following the Uchiha kid. I was stuck in my room for a few days, studying, and I felt the need to go out and have fun. A good prank was what I wanted, and the kid just made an ideal target at the time." Smirking, Naruto slowly looked up at the scowling Anko, his eyes glinting mischievously. "I was thinking of maybe decorating his house with some paint and TP... perhaps get the Police on the way out with itching powder in their uniforms. Nothing major. Only reason why I chose the kid was because he resembled a lot of those police bastards who chase after me anyway." Naruto took a moment to frown, before giving a light snort and shaking his head. "Police bastards that CHASED after me..." he amended.

So far the story matched up with what his file said about his personality, but what he said needed more. "What were you studying brat? Does this have anything to do with that morbid speech you gave before?"

Naruto blinked, his features turning from that damned familiar look of seriousness to that of complete childlike curiosity and innocence so fast, the Special Jounin was left wondering if the kid had a split personality. "... what's 'morbid' mean?"

It took all of Anko's self-control not to simply fall down and scream. How could this brat be so serious one moment, then turn around and ask something like that?! she mentally cried out. It was as if every time she believed she could handle the kid, he turned around and pulled something completely out of the blue. "It means talkin about the dead, kid... dark, serious speaking like you were going on before about ninja secrets and corpses." Honestly kid, just pick a personality and run with it! Stop changing so damned much!

Naruto nodded and gave a brief, grateful smile. "Thanks! No one ever really explained anything before when I had questions... 'cept for Jii-chan, but he's busy all the time." Naruto sighed, before looking back at those posters to gather his thoughts. The way they stole his attention every time he tried to think of something made her want to rip them down. Damnit, I am RIGHT HERE! I should be the center of attention, not some schematics of unknown bodies! This brat is really starting to remind her of-

"Nee-chan... you're starting to smell like blood. Are you ok?" Startled out of her train of thought, Anko looked at Naruto wide-eyed, noticing those intense blue eyes focused on her, before looking down at her hands. Swallowing, she unclenched her fists When did I clench them? and looked at her palms, her hands bleeding slightly since she clenched them hard enough to puncture herself with her nails. Looking back to Naruto, she saw his look of concentration focused on her bleeding hands. When he took one of her hands in both of his own, drawing it near his face, Anko started to shiver. "... Nee-chan... I wonder... what kind of secrets do you have in your blood?" Naruto asked, the childlike wonder in his voice not matching the intensity of his gaze. Anko felt her heart race and a soft whimper escaped against her will when the blonde brought her hand to his mouth and lightly licked her palm. Looking back up at her, Naruto gave the Special Jounin a bright smile, making the small drops of blood on his lips stand out to ruin what innocence the look might have held. "You taste good Nee-chan..."

"T... the question..." she choked out, slowly collapsing into the chair when her knees threatened to give out. "W... what were... you studying?" She made no move to reclaim her hand... nor did she pull it away when he reached for the other one, eliciting a soft gasp as he gave it a lick as well. W... why am... I acting... like this...?

"Bodies..." Naruto answered, looking at Anko like one might look at some new and interesting toy. "I was trying to figure out how I could find out secrets from a ninja's body. No one was willing to teach me, so I figured if I could find out for myself how people could do jutsu, I could become a strong ninja and become Hokage. But... I've been having a hard time understanding the books I borrowed from Jii-chan." Placing one of her palms against his cheek, Naruto let out a soft sigh, the smile on his face showing some measure of peace. "Nee-chan... are you strong?"

Anko merely nodded, not trusting her dry tongue to speak. When he released her hand, she kept it against his cheek, amazed at how soft it was. The kid had very little baby fat on him, as malnourished as he looked she doubted he ate regularly. Something probably the Kyuubi kept the kid healthy enough to be in decent shape. No one took care of the kid, according to the file... Why do I care?

Naruto sighed as he felt Anko's hand slowly move, the feeling making Naruto feel... accepted... warm even. Perhaps this is what a Mother felt like? Unfortunately, that line of thinking brought back the reality of his broken promise. The sudden change of his features, a hardening of his eyes, the set of his jaw, the tensing of the facial muscles under her still-bleeding palm, broke Anko out of her slight trance, causing her to pull her hands away from him. This left Naruto with a bloodied cheek, adding to the intensity of his look and once more making Anko feel like that little girl who stood before her sensei so long ago. "Nee-chan... will you teach me? I want... no... I HAVE to get stronger. Mikoto-san... I promised Mikoto-san she wouldn't die... I have to find a way to bring her back, or else I'll never make it up to her." The entire time he spoke, Naruto had clenched his right hand tightly. "Uzumaki Naruto never goes back on his word... cause that's my Nindo." Taking a moment to breathe, Naruto unclenched his fist... revealing his own bloody palm, though the wounds already seemed to be closing. Holding out his hand to her, palm upwards underneath one of her own, Naruto glanced once more up at Anko. "Will you help me?"

Instead of taking his hand and shaking it, like he expected her to, Anko brought his hand So much smaller than mine... to her lips and licked the blood from it, shivering at the taste. It was stronger than that of any of her previous victims... and as she stared into his eyes, she was immensely glad she couldn't feel her knees...

... else she might have knelt before him instead of simply nodding.

"What's your name, Nee-chan?"

"... Mitarashi Anko..."

Inside the deepest recesses of her mind, a small part of her whispered a single word... one that, in the near future, she would find herself easily saying to the boy out of respect. Master...

-Line Break-

"Anko-chan, how is he?"

Licking her lips to remove any traces of his blood on her lips, Anko turned to look into the worried face of the Hokage. Bowing her head respectfully, she held out the folder with a report already filled out. "He's sleeping right now, Hokage-sama. He seems fine, but after something like this, I feel it would be wise to have someone watch over him."

The Sandaime frowned as he opened the folder. Anko filling out her report during the assignment, even if it was just interrogation, was unheard of... but actually making suggestions as well? "It must be very serious... Are you afraid he might do something rash?"

Turning a worried look towards Naruto's door, Anko let out a soft sigh, lightly rubbing her bandaged hands together. "He... reminds me of my childhood, Hokage-sama... without the right guidance..."

Eyeing her bandages curiously, Sarutobi took a moment to think. "Well... I don't know of many people willing to help the boy... Even if I made it an assignment, there are those who would simply ignore the boy and-"


Sarutobi jumped at Anko's insistence, placing a hand over his heart as he tried to calm himself down. "A... are you sure Anko-chan? I agree you may be the best choice, but..." Sarutobi trailed off as he searched Anko's face, only to find an intense determination and a fiery will he had not seen in a long time. Letting out a sigh, the elderly man nodded and placed a hand on Anko's shoulder. "Very well Anko-chan... I'll make this a long term B-rank mission for you to watch over Naruto-kun, complete with regular mission pay."

Anko let out a sigh of relief, before giving the old man a genuine smile. Something must have happened in there to make her feel so protective over the boy. he thought. As she was making some excuse to leave, Sarutobi gently increased the grip he had on her shoulder. "A moment Anko-chan... before you go, could you tell me what happened to your hands?"

Blinking, Anko looked down at her palms before smiling tenderly at them. "Nothing really Hokage-sama. The kid got me angry early on, so I clenched my fists a bit too hard. At the sight of blood, the kid calmed down real quick." Chuckling softly, she looked back up at Sarutobi. "I promised the kid I'd help him out... kinda made a little blood pact over it too." Blushing, the Special Jounin scratched the back of her head, laughing a bit nervously. "So... I kinda can't go back on my word now! Didn't realize what I got myself into til it happened, so I'm glad you're assigning me this Hokage-sama."

Shaking his head, the Hokage motioned for Anko to go ahead. As she left, the Hokage's kind smile turned to a thoughtful frown as he pulled his scrying orb out from one of his sleeves, watching intently as Naruto slept peacefully as Anko had said. Narrowing his eyes, Sarutobi couldn't help imagining someone else in that bed... a young boy with long black hair and skin far paler than Naruto's. Closing his eyes, Sarutobi felt the years weigh heavily on him as he sighed. "It won't be the same this time... " he swore before tucking the orb back into his sleeves.

Author's Note: Once again, thanks to the people over at TFF for this particular plot bunny, and many many thanks to everyone who rekindled this idea. Trying out a new ending to the first chapter, while the next one will be different from what is already posted. Let me know what you all think ^^