Disclaimer: Am I surrounded by aliens, time-travelers, Espers and sliders? No? Damn… that means I don't own Naruto. Ah well…

Chapter 2: Home Is Where The Corpse Is

Nee-chan... where did they take Mikoto-san's body?

If anyone told her a week ago that she would be sneaking through her own home village in search of a dead body, Mitarashi Anko would have laughed... after making sure that the person who said it would be in traction for a month.

BURN?! If.. if they do that... I can't keep my promise!

If they told her she would be looking for an Uchiha corpse that was scheduled to be ritually immolated the next day after being purified, the hospital stay of the poor commenter would have lengthened to two months.

Neechan... Can you help me? If.. If I can't keep my word...

If they told her she would be doing it for some half-crazed kid who thought he could raise the dead, then the poor person would be in a coma for years... or perhaps dead themselves. That kind of scenario was far too close to something her old sensei would go through.

Only... he wanted eternal life, not the ability to bring back what was already lost.

.... please...

Yet here she was, sneaking into the village's Morgue, one of THE most secure buildings outside of the Hokage Tower and the Dungeons. Only ranks Special Jounin and above could enter, and even then only with permission. Not even the family of the deceased were allowed in to prevent impostors and body thieves from trying to get away with body parts. For where some people only saw a building full of dead people... Hunter Nin, scientists and those with medical knowledge saw it as a treasure trove.

The only way in or out was through the main entrance. The Dead didn't need windows after all, and the only vents going into or out of the building were big enough to only allow the occasional bug. Of course... any insect that tried would get fried by special sealing arrays that kept any living thing from entering through anywhere but the main entrance.

So, she went for what was best. Walking right up to the two guards, Anko crossed her arms and gave her most intimidating glare, a look she only reserved for bad nights and times when she needed intimidation more than violence. She had a reputation to take advantage of after all.

"Oi! Open up! I gotta examine some of the bodies for my report to the Hokage!"

The Chuunins on guard duty immediately moved through the standard procedures to allow her in. A piece of her hair and a drop of her blood was taken to ensure she was who she said she was, both of the doormen wrote down her name and took her picture to verify the time of entrance, and her papers were checked to make sure everything was alright. Her standing orders from the Hokage were to investigate all matters involving the incident revolving around Naruto and his connection to the Massacre. This gave her a reason to be there.

"Everything checks out, Mitarashi-san. Allow me to show you to where we keep our celebrities." The lanky, pale Chuunin looked as if he rarely saw the light of day, most likely a usual on the graveyard shift. He spoke in a soft, slightly haunted manner, the kind of guy that would crack jokes about morbid scenes from the looks of him. He was also someone she knew of from past dealings. After all, you always remember the weirdoes from your age group... and Gosunkugi Hikaru was as weird as they came.

Putting on her best non-intimidating smile, Anko followed after the lanky Chuunin. As soon as the doors closed behind them, Anko wrapped her arms around Gosunkugi's waist from behind. "Hi-ka-ru-kun..." she whispered into his ear, causing him to stiffen at the sudden contact. "After you show me where the celebrities are... how about I give you a little bonus for being my little helper today? I'm sure I can make it worth your while... after all... being around slaughter victims always make me feel..."

Alas, the pale Chuunin never got to hear exactly what it made her feel, since halfway through her seductive whispers the poor man slumped in her arms, his face and torso a bloody mess. Not from anything Anko did to him directly... but from the explosive nosebleed she gave him.

Sighing, Anko dropped the young man like a sack of wheat, not caring about him any longer. "Hmph... must've used too much of the ol' Anko charm." Shrugging, Anko searched the comatose body till she found his keys. The only problem was... as soon as she found the keys, she saw them to be a special kind imported from the Snow Country... a kind of key that would only unlock its designated lock if the owner channeled chakra through it.

Groaning, she put the keys back into the Chuunin's pocket and started to try waking him back up. She just knew that this was going to be a long night...

Two hours and fifteen nosebleeds later, the drawer containing Uchiha Mikoto was open and her guide, after seeing her almost do interesting things with such a 'pretty corpse', was out once again. Looking down at the body, Anko couldn't help but feel a sense of... jealousy... towards her. "Huh... never met you before, Uchiha... but you must be someone special if the Master wants you so badly." Shrugging, Anko tilted her head back and opened her mouth wide. Slowly, her throat began to expand, while her jaw seemed to unhinge to allow her mouth to open wider. Slowly, a scroll was pushed out of her throat and, once it was halfway out of her mouth, the Special Jounin grabbed it and pulled it free.

Wincing, Anko fell to her knees and started coughing up a storm, her throat burning worse than the first time she drank sake. I hate this technique... I'll never figure out how the snake bastard can do it without any pain. Reaching inside her trench coat, Anko pulled out a small bottle of water, drinking half of it down to help ease the pain. Sighing, Anko quickly unraveled the scroll, revealing two sets of storage seals. Checking to make sure her guide was still out, she bit her thumb and performed a quick set of hand seals, before pressing her bloody hand onto the first of the storage seals.

One cloud of ninja smoke later and the corpse of an unlucky young woman who was out drinking a bit too late was right in front of her...

Flashback

"Family? Bah... both of my parents died, no thanks to that damned fox... I've only got myself to rely on." The young woman, a Chuunin from the looks of her, and a regular from the way she was familiar with the bartender, was just what Anko needed. She had been looking through Konoha's seedier districts in hopes of finding a perfect substitute...

No family to miss her... and from the looks of things, she didn't have any close friends. Long hair that was the proper length, the color could be added later... and death could easily make her skin as pale as an Uchiha's. "And don't get me started on men! Each and every one of them are nothing but pansies! They say they'll go out and get the brat for what he's done to us, but at the last minute they chicken out!" She had far too much to drink... luckily, so had everyone else in the bar save the bartender and Anko herself. In short.. she was perfect. Grinning almost evilly, Anko put her plan into motion... a few light touches here, a whisper of a promise there... and most importantly, putting her reputation to use.

The woman followed after her like a starved puppy... and as soon as they were alone... well... It was a shame, but if she hadn't needed to use the woman for a substitute.. she would have killed her in far worse ways than a deadly slash across the chest.

End Flashback

Looking from her replacement corpse to the Uchiha's body, Anko made sure the wounds were identical. The length of the slash was different, but the angle was close enough that no one would really notice. Now.. only one thing was needed. Pulling Mikoto's body from its resting place, Anko held it up at arm's length to get a good look at her from front to back, studying every little difference before nodding. The bodies were close enough... Good thing you don't have any noticeable markings lady, or this would be damn near impossible last minute.

Placing Mikoto into the second set of storage scrolls was simple enough. Placing the replacement corpse into the drawer was also easy. Rolling her storage scroll back up, Anko winced before steeling her resolve and swallowing the scroll back down. Drinking the last of her water bottle to ease the pain of her throat once more, she made sure nothing was amiss, before turning towards her guide once more.

"... I certainly hope it's not this easy all the time..." she muttered to herself as she moved to wake the Chuunin up.

Later, on her way back to her Master, Anko would curse about how the mission failed... while she got the body, she also ended up with a permanent fanboy.

Karma is such a bitch...

Sighing tiredly, the Special Jounin soon found herself standing at her Master's front door. Every time she thought about it, the entire situation seemed more and more absurd. She killed some nameless Chuunin, almost slept with a loser, stole a corpse at the risk of getting court marshaled and executed... And all for some brat living in an apartment complex so rundown not even the owner would step foot on the premises. Why are you doing this Mitarashi? The kid's only a brat for kami's sake! Just stomp your foot down, beat the living daylights out of him, and go out to get wasted!

Of course.. as soon as the resolution was made, the door she had been staring at for the past few minutes opened.. and she found herself staring into those bright blue eyes that reminded her so much of herself...

"Anko-neechan... welcome home."

Two simple words that, to most would have very little meaning... but for the likes of Mitarashi Anko, outcast and loner, they were the words that sealed any doubts and tied her destiny to the man Uzumaki Naruto would become.

"I'm... home." Smiling softly at the bright smile that grew on the boy's face as she responded, Anko knew she made the right choice... And I'll be damned if I allow him to become like that bastard Orochimaru...

It would be an entire hour before Naruto would bring up the subject of the mission... and another hour after that until Naruto finally cried himself to sleep in Anko's lap as he let out the feelings of relief and joy that filled him. Interspersed between the sob-filled words of thanks, Naruto only said one other thing... and Anko couldn't help but smile and respond.

Now... I can fulfill my promise...

I will help as much as I can...

The next year was arguably the most memorable in Anko's lifetime. The first thing on Anko's list of priorities for her new master was to improve his living conditions... as well as give him a proper work place. Where before she criticized the lack of human life within the run down apartment complex, Anko slowly began to see the entire building as one big possibility. Securing the deed to the property was relatively cheap, since the owner almost paid her to take it from him. The hard part was in the remodeling. After all, there weren't many contractors in Konoha that was willing to fix up the living place of 'that brat'.

Unfortunately for her, Anko's fanboy had come up with a perfect idea, One that he would only divulge if she went on a date with him. It took all of Anko's self-control and the constant mental mantra of 'it's for the Master' to keep her from introducing Gosunkugi to the most poisonous vipers she could summon to some very uncomfortable places of his anatomy...

"Well... a good friend of mine owes me a favor for.. let's just say... adding one body too many to a funeral pyre... He also owns a construction company. I'm sure I can convince him to revamp this place..." The fact that he was openly leering at her as he said this made her fingers twitch.

"Only if he can be convinced to remodel this place to my exact specifications, no questions asked, no paper trail."

Gosunkugi looked hesitant at the request, before taking another long look over of Anko's body. "Then make it five dates, since that is a pretty tall order."

Twitching at the geek's sudden show of spine (which was, no doubt, only strong due to his libido) Anko reached for his chin to forcefully make him look her in the eye, glaring as menacingly as possible. And for one who studied under one of the most notorious Missing-Nin in history, it was quite menacing indeed. "Two."

Swallowing, Gosunkugi couldn't help the slight squeak in his voice as he replied. "Four." Clearing his throat, the pale Nin tried to make himself seem more confident as he tried to give the impression of a self-satisfied smirk, as if already knowing he was going to win. "Four" he repeated as confidently as possible.

Thinking a moment, Anko came upon a brilliant idea. Slowly softening her features, her face slowly went from angry to sexy, her sneer becoming the kind of smile that would make a devout monk cross his legs and passionately pray for deliverance. "Two, and I'll guarantee you a night you'll NEVER forget." Anko replied as seductively as possible while she moved a hand from his chin to his pale, sweaty cheek. "Of course... if you want three simple dates instead..."

Gosunkugi quickly lost his self-satisfied smirk as he shook his head pathetically. "Nononono! Two's fine!" he said, shivering eagerly.

Grinning, Anko gave Gosunkugi a wink. "I'll give you the first date when they are halfway done... and the last one when it is complete..." Leaning in close, it took all of her self control not to throw up on the Chuunin then and there as she whispered in his ear. "But only if the place meets all of my... expectations..." Stepping away, Anko couldn't help but feel disgusted as she noticed a wet spot at the front of his standard issue trousers. Pathetic...

Looking down, Gosunkugi whimpered before placing his hands down to try and cover his mess. Unable to look her in the eye, Gosunkugi vanished in a swirl of dead leaves.

Note to self... check to see if he has any family, get him assigned to a B-Rank mission, and finish him off on the field... slowly.. painfully.. and without leaving any traces... or convince Gai that the moron is missing his Youth or some shit like that. Walking back to what has recently become her home, Anko pondered exactly which would be the worst fate...

And time passes...

"Despite his failure as a man, Gosunkugi fulfilled his promise. In less than a week since the request, Gosunkugi's friend showed early in the morning with a small crew, ready to inspect the place. With a promise of having the place ready in less than a year, Anko handed the man her wants and needs for the project, before leading a heavily cloaked Naruto out of the house.

Of course... even though Gosunkugi Hikaru was the cause of many a headache to the Special Jounin, he was not the reason for the year being memorable. Instead, it was the place she took Naruto, a place that they would end up living in for the next six months, that would bring back many old memories, dredge up ancient nightmares... and replace them with new dreams and greater hopes. She would find her very being torn apart and placed back together until the Mitarashi Anko of before would no longer exist...

And a new, improved Mitarashi Anko would take her place.

The place that Anko took young Naruto, upon first glance, was nothing more than a cement bunker in the woods just outside Konoha. It was a lab facility, long abandoned by her former master.. a place that she herself had trained in for long periods of time... a place where her mentor taught her skills that she used to this day, showed her his ambition and the strength of his will... and imparted upon her a final gift and curse before abandoning her at this very spot. It was a place she vowed she would never return to... but upon returning, she would find herself facing her old demons and vanquishing them for a chance to finally move on.

But she would not be the only one to improve... for young Uzumaki Naruto would find himself changed as well... for better or worse is unknown...

But in the end, it would be an Uzumaki Naruto who could fulfill his ambition and realize his dreams.

Six months would pass... but for Mitarashi Anko, Special Jounin of Konoha, and her student/master Uzumaki Naruto, these six months would feel like years... and would ultimately change the fate of Konoha.

But that is a story for another day.

... in the end, you must find yourself wondering who has told this story so far. This, too, is a part of the next story, but suffice it to say I shall introduce myself. I am Kagemaru, Speaker of the Wind, Representative of the Raven Clan, and Uzumaki Naruto's soon to be personal summon...

Whether he wants it, or not."

Author Comments: DONE! FINISHED! It took two months! TWO FREAKING MONTHS! But.. I did it! Second chapter finished... regrettably shorter than the first, but finished nonetheless! The third chapter, explaining what has happened in the six months of training, shall commence soon. I can now focus on other projects and pat myself on the back for this one.

... of course, realistically, if I ever finish the third chapter, this shall be my longest story ever. Imagine that. Constructive Criticism please. I also accept omake and helpful ideas.

And now... the Omake!

Two hours and fifteen nosebleeds later, the drawer containing Uchiha Mikoto was open and her guide, after seeing her almost do interesting things with such a 'pretty corpse', was out once again. Looking down at the body, Anko couldn't help but feel a sense of… jealousy... towards her. "Huh... never met you before, Uchiha... but you must be someone special if the Master wants you so badly." Shrugging, Anko tilted her head back and opened her mouth wide. Slowly, her throat began to expand, while her jaw seemed to unhinge to allow her mouth to open wider.

Using this technique, chakra was used to not only 'shrink' whatever was stored, but it strengthened the digestive system to allow the user to swallow and store large items for weeks, months… even years. Having developed the technique, Orochimaru himself holds the record for largest things stored... the biggest of which was an adult Akimichi Corpse that he swallowed and stored on a dare from Jiraiya.

... While not the size of an Akimichi, Anko couldn't help but wince as she continued pushing, her throat widening to almost comic proportions. Finally reaching her mouth, she opened wide and spit out the one thing she absolutely needed to complete her mission...

Looking at the stainless steel Ice Chest that was as tall as she was and twice as wide, Anko shook her head and rubbed her poor throat. The master better give me some serious nookie for this... and a lozenge or ten would be nice too...

Dedicated to Ike-Box and the TFFers clamoring for more Ice Chest