My holiday gift to you...enjoy!


"Sensei!" Sakura screamed, reaching for the person who was closest to her as Gaara charged at her with a gruesome speed. Kakashi immediately pulled her away from harm and tried to land a kick. But Gaara swiftly evaded, pushing back on the thick air and right into the rickety wooden arms of his brother's puppet.

"GAA-RA!" Kankuro yelled, pulling hard on his dexterous marionette strings and drawing his brother closer to him.

Then Naruto sprung from Kankuro's blind spot, gathering the strings around his arm and in his fiery grip in a single swift movement. Flinging Gaara from the puppet's entrapment towards an awaiting Genma, he bludgeoned the puppet into Kankuro's side. Before the Sand-nin could reach the ground, Naruto heeled into Kankuro's chest while searing the strings from his fingers.

Kankuro screamed in pain as his body hit the ground, rolling over to his unhurt side. Naruto landed firmly on the ground a yard away, making the dust rise as the puppet string fell in a heap besides him. His head turned towards the ninjas encircling Gaara and was about to take off.

"Oi! Dobe!" an angered voice yelled from above.

Naruto quickly looked up to see Sasuke and his lightning-enveloped hand. Instinctively he jumped back as Sasuke slashed, then proceeded to dodge all the other attempts that the Uchiha made to connect lightning to skin.

Sasuke lunged, aiming for his friend's face. But Naruto leaned backwards, propelling his body into a backwards flip, eluding the attack yet again while kicking Sasuke's chidori up into the air with the momentum. Landing quickly, Naruto rushed forward, pointing at Sasuke's stomach. And before any contact was made, Sasuke felt his guts twist and he was flung back due to an immense surge of chakra and slammed right into the wall of the arena. He fell with a groan.

As Naruto was about to stand, slabs of earth suddenly rose, ensnaring him.

"That should hold you," Kakashi spoke as he placed a hand on top of the boy's blonde locks. Naruto's dark red chakra slowly dissipated and the rock crumbled around him, his sensei's hand still firmly placed on his head, preparing to strike the Fourth's son.

"Forgive me, Sensei," Kakashi thought aloud, raising his hand.

"Wait," Naruto's normal voice whispered, causing his sensei to pause. But then the Kyuubi chakra reappeared. A burning sensation surged through Kakashi's hand, making him retract and swear. But before the Copycat Ninja could process anything else, he was hit by a mass of water.

The horrible thunder still continued, casting darkness over everything it consumed.

"Drip Drop Drip Drop," the wet area sang. And bodies, panting or immobile, littered the ground and the roof.

Hisaki had succeeded in disrupting the battle between student and teacher, breaking the force-field that allowed the large masses of water contained within it to pour out into the arena below.

The four Sound-ninjas, who had upheld the force-field, laid sprawled and sodden over the clay roof tilings with 3 ANBU bystanders. The ten ninjas, down in the combat area, struggled to rise from the sudden wave of water that crashed down from above.

Orochimaru was dead; his body and soul ripped in pieces on the rooftop of the arena and Sarutobi was about to join his student in the afterlife.

Hisaki tightened her grip on the Hokage's throat, "You knew all along that I was Minamo. You knew and yet you didn't mutter a word. She was blindly following the trail of bread you left for her. And you were going to kill her after all of this was over." she paused to constrict more, "You're pathetic,"

She smiled as the Third tried to tear away from her grip and then looked over her shoulder to glance at the bloody corpse of Orochimaru, "But not as pathetic as he is," she muttered.

Turning back to her prey, "You're going to have to die too," Hisaki spat, "It's what Fate commands. Even though fate's not predestined, we Under-dwellers like having things go as planned," she began to focus her energy and prepared for the final blow. Sarutobi clawed at her strengthening hand, trying to grasp a final breath.

She laughed; the feeling of omnipotence filled her. All around her was the destruction that only she could accomplish and she believed she could do then some. She nearly had finished her goal.

And as she was about to finish the Hokage off a force rammed into her arm. Time slowed as Hisaki saw the Kyuubi-infused Naruto break her grip on Sarutobi with smirk so condescending.

"Traitor!" she screamed, once time was set back into motion, "You dare upset your mistress!?"

The demon stared at the grinning nine tails, "Explain to me, Kyuubi. The meaning of this," she demanded while stalking towards him, noticing the Shukaku limp in the boy's arms.

"I don't need to explain to you," was the reply.

Hisaki flared with a terrible jolt, "What blasphemy is this!" she screamed, "I am your mistress. You MUST obey me,"

The Kyuubi flared back with a snarl, "Don't speak about blasphemy to me, lesser demon. I only obey my true mistress," he growled, setting down the One-tailed beast behind him.

"Fiend! You dare call me not your mistress! You even crouch so low to call me lesser!"

"But you are lesser…lesser than all of us, Jigoku no Hisaki."

The demoness scowled, "Says who?" and turned to the owner of the voice and laughed, "You!?"

Minamo looked back at the goblin while holding Sarutobi's wilting head in her hands, and with a proud and confident glare.

"Yes, me,"

Hisaki cackled vociferously before turning back to face the demon fox, "A simple apparition cannot fool me, Nine Tails. That girl's soul's with our lord,"

"This is why you are lesser," the Kyuubi muttered as Hisaki's laughter died down, "You are a disgrace to the Underlord, turning a blind eye to the evident,"

"And not noticing this," Minamo held up a sutra with the slight touch of her fingers.

Hisaki drew out a skeptical face, "What would a simple sutra do?"

"Allow my soul to stay with whomever allows it," Minamo answered letting go of the thin piece of parchment as it dissolved into the black, its letters remaining in the air.

Hisaki's eyes minimized as she watched the characters float over to Naruto's open hand then dissipate in a flash.

"Which would be me," the demon spoke with so much assurance that Hisaki began to doubt.

"And why would you allow her to remain?" she asked, "Was it not you who desired revenge against the man who sealed you?"

The Kyuubi laughed, "You know yourself that she has no relation to the Namikaze other than her memories. And why would I not serve my mistress of old for a silly reason?" he reasoned with a sadistic tone in every word.

Those words acted like a trigger, Hisaki's entire body shook as if she was suddenly pierced with a sharp and sweet pain.

"B-But I…" she staggered, "I am your mistress! Your master! Your sovereign! You cannot-!" she screamed, grasping her non-existent heart as it grinded in torment. Her body shook and she fell in a cold sweat.

"It looks like your body is reacting to the truth," Minamo said, all-knowingly. She stepped closer to her other-self, and with each step was made with a stronger and mightier will.

"Let us remember who you were,"

"Long ago, when the world was divided and shinobi came to be, a young girl was adopted as a ward by a powerful people and grew up as their princess. She was given the name Hikari, for she was a glorious and beautiful light. And you were she, the precious beautiful flame whom they were desperate to keep alive.

But what the people did not know was that you held a power so great and horrible that with a simple thought you would be able to destroy everything around you. You had control over the Nine-tailed fox.

The only ones who knew of this power were two chief brothers of the people who wished to harness this strength to support their clan. But what they did not expect was a rival.

A great man of honor and might, a leader from another race, the Senju, caught a glimpse of you and your beauty and was instantly enamored. This man, this SenjuHashiramaconstantly kept the girl in his thoughts and soon he began to desire her.

The eldest of the two brothers realized this and attempted to use Hikari as a lure and weapon against the Senju because the Eldest was resentful against Hashirama and his people. But as the Eldest was driven mad trying to find ways to undermine the rival clan, Hikari began to fall in love with the Younger, the only one who she revealed her clandestine smile to.

The Leader of the Senju then proposed for a union of the two great tribes in order to better his chances with Hikari as well as strengthening his own people.

The Eldest was firmly against the merger but his people approved, wanting to leave their previous years of bloodshed.

And thus, the village of Konohagakure was created.

The Eldest, consumed in his raging thoughts, persuaded his brother to sacrifice his life in order to save, what he thought, was their seditious people from the greedy claws of the Senju. And thus was granted the Mangekyou due to his brother's death.

Hikari was witness to this murderous act and descended into solitude, shunning everything and everyone except for Hashirama.

The Eldest, confident in his new power, again tried to gather forces for his cause but whilst doing so, failed to realize that his people's fan was firmly held by the Senju's hand. And that he had failed.

Years of agony and torment tortured the Eldest nearly to the point of near insanity. And then Hikari told him that she had accepted the Senju's hand in marriage.

Then and there, the Eldest realized that his enemy had succeeded in taking everything away from him and now he was about to take her away, the only thing left he could possibly have in his grip.

In a fit a fury, he attacked her, grasping her throat with the firm intent to kill, sure that he could at least take away one thing away from his enemy.

As Hikaru gasped for her final breath, she muttered, "You will never succeed. I will prevent it," with eyes that pierced.

The Eldest then released his hands from her cold and delicate neck and she fell to the ground. He later then covered the murder with suicide and as his people mourned, he left but not empty-handed for now he gained control of the Kyuubi which was granted to him through his act of killing the demon's mistress and had begun his reign.

"And then I rose from the dead and began my reign as Hisaki no Jigoku," the demoness added. "Why tell me this? I know my life."

"Well obviously, you don't," the Nine-tails commented.

Hisaki glared at him. "What other nonsense are you spewing out!?"

"You just don't seem to get it, do you? She is Hikaru's reincarnation not you," the Kyuubi explained, "You were a lesser demon who simply got a hold of a powerful body."

"And did you really think that the Shinigami would allow you to rise again into this plane? The Death god is a neutral being. He just used you to return Hikaru to her former glory; something he could not have done without getting rid of your rotting remnants once and for all."

"No," the demoness muttered, "No, you LIE!" she shrieked.

"It's no use, Hisaki you-!" Minamo began. Hisaki unleashed a powerful scream, shaking the world around her.

Minamo covered her ears to block out the shrill sound and when she looked up all she could see was Hisaki's outstretched claw ready to strike.

"Naruto!" Sakura smiled as her head popped into one of the many hospital rooms. "I brought apples!"

She sat cheerfully down on the chair besides the bed and put a bag of red apples next to her.

And as Sakura took out a knife and began peeling she began to notice how blank the face on Naruto was. She laughed nervously, looking back at her peeling.

"Your hair grew quite a bit huh?" she commented, "It looks better that way. I didn't really like the way it defied gravity and stuck out like an afro."

She giggled but when she saw that he gave no response she quieted. Sakura anxiously looked at him.

Two weeks had passed since Orochimaru's attack on Konoha, two days since Naruto woken up from his coma and two hours since Sakura's last visit. Naruto's hair had grown out so that it no longer resembled a porcupine, but rather a wet, saggy porcupine. But it looked better anyway.

Sakura let her thoughts drift before finally speaking.

"Naruto?" she said fretfully, silently asking about his wellbeing.

His face healed well from his battle wounds and there was only a single bandage on his cheek. But the still stare in his eyes indicated that everything else hadn't healed. This, however, didn't surprise her. After all, he had just learned that he had attacked his own teacher and his friends and that no remains of Minamo and Orochimaru had been found and that the Third had died.

"Naruto, you shouldn't be so mad at yourself," she murmured, "None of it was your fault and-,"

"Sakura," he finally muttered.

"Yeah?" she asked, her hopes perked.

"Thanks for the apples, I was starving."

A crow cawed in the distance.

Sakura stared at him, dumbfounded, as he reached for the peeled apple.

"YAH!" she screamed, dropping her things on the ground as she quickly stood. And Naruto's eyes widened in shock as he watched the precious food fell to the floor.

"You heartless jerk! You're worse than Sasuke! I come here worried sick about you and you spew out a stupid comment like that! You even interrupted me!' she began bashing him with her fists.

"Sakura! Please!" Naruto begged, holding up his arms in defense.

"I-," she started, holding her fists in the air ready to strike him again, "I was really worried, you…Idiot!"

She lowered her hands to rub her eyes as they began to water. "I hate you!" she screamed, more tears flowing from her face. Naruto paused for a moment.

"Sakura," he said guiltily, "But I meant it, I was really hungry,"

Something snapped. "Fine then! Take the whole thing!" Sakura yelled, dumping the entire bag of apples on top of him.

She pouted as Naruto began rubbing his head from the pain.

"Gosh," he whined, "You never change, do you?" but then he smiled his usual obnoxious smile. "Thanks for coming anyway."

"Hmph, it's not that big of a deal," Sakura grumbled, her cheeks slightly pink and her eyes looking away. And he noticed.

"Ah! So you've finally fell for me, huh?"

"Idiot!" she yelled, "Don't get hopeful!"

Naruto laughed, he then picked up an apple and bit into it. "You know apples are one of my favorite foods. I'm actually growing a tree in the yard near my apartment. "

"Hai!?" Sakura sneered in disbelief, "You grow trees?"

Outside the room, Kakashi chuckled. His handy dandy Icha Icha book in one hand, the other hand in his pocket, he leaned against the wall near the door that led into his student's hospital room. Around him, people hustled around in every which way direction, working hard, unlike him, to repair the damage caused by the attack.

The reason he laughed wasn't because he read something funny in his perverted literature but rather the conversation between his students which reminded him of one he had back in the day.

"You know apples are my favorite foods. And they're SO healthy for you too!" The Fourth smiled once to his students, holding up a bright ripe apple. "And because they're healthy they make up for the very little amount of malnutrition in ramen!"

Rin panned, "You know that isn't true, Sensei, ramen has tons of malnutrition" she said with absolutely no sympathy. The Fourth lost his smile.

"You've been getting so weird Sensei!" Obito commented loudly, "You never get this giddy about food,"

"For once, I agree with the stupid one," Kakashi muttered.

"Yeah!" he paused, "Hey, I'm not stupid!" Obito yelled, lunging towards his teammate.

"There they go again," Minato sighed as the two pre-teen clawed at each other. He waited for bit before pulling them apart at the collars of their clothes.

"Do I need to remind you over and over again!" he reprimanded, "The most important thing for a shinobi is teamwork! And if you guys continue this petty fighting, nothing will get done!"

Kakashi and Obito pouted their lips in distaste, glaring in different directions. Minato turned to his mature female student.

"Rin, don't marry either of them," he ordered with a stern face which turned into smiling one as she turned bright red.

"Heh," Kakashi muttered, "To think that he was only giddy because he found out that she was pregnant."

In the Hall of Records, Jiraiya and Tsunade sat in contemplation. The elders had put the two to work, making them take control and organize the reconstruction of the decimated village. And despite their constant grumbling, they got things moving.

There was a persistent silence as the Sannin lost themselves in their thoughts.

"We did all we could," Jiraiya began, "There was nothing we could have done that would have changed anything."

"Don't you think I know that?" Tsunade muttered, her voice disheartened and mad, "It could have been worse if nothing was done. It was good that she came."

"…"

"Yeah,"

They returned to the quiet that consumed them in their sorrow, keeping their eyes downcast. The tranquil shelves and books joined them in stillness.

"You know what!? I'm not glad she came! I don't care that she's gone! I don't care and I can't take it anymore!" Tsunade burst, standing with a noise, "It's all her damn fault! She killed Hiruzen, she-!"

Tsunade pushed the files closest to her onto the floor in a fit of rage making them fall all over the floor. The fluttering sound of papers filled the soundless room and then a sound of something hard hitting the wood floor.

The two Sannin looked down to see a small scroll roll away from the scattered papers, making a faint 'shaa' as it glided along the floor. When it stopped, Jiraiya bent down and picked it up.

To Jiraiya and Tsunade it had written on its olive-shaded jacket.

"It's for us," he stated, rather unnecessarily, as he handed it to his comrade. She took it with a graceful hand and opened it.

Jiraiya and Tsunade,

By the time you read this letter, I will probably be far away from Konohagakure. So, I write this to assure you and to apologize. I apologize for pulling you into this mess, for allowing Hiruzen to die and for disappointing the both of you. But I assure that wrongs will be made right and I'm preparing to do exactly that. I take it upon myself to ensure the safety and future of this village and I request for your further cooperation. Furthermore, the file that I had shown to you previously now contains even more vital information about Konohagakure than ever before, and I leave them in your hands. Also be warned, my friends, though Orochimaru is no more, Hisaki still lives through him.

As soon as they read the last sentence, Tsunade threw down the scroll and both of them began ravaging through the files, desperately trying to find the manila folder that contained the written contract between the Senju and Uchiha in sealing blood.

Black. Complete utter darkness. A deep abyss was all that existed, a dark corridor with no end.

"It's been a while since we've talked like this, huh?" Minamo smiled as a figure appeared in the black that surrounded her.

"As Minamo, no," the Shinigami muttered, "As Hikari, it's been far too many years,"

"It's good to know that the Spiritual world is bound to their promises or else I wouldn't be here," Minamo muttered, "I'd be dead,"

"And my goal would have never been accomplished," a voice added from behind. Minamo turned to face her namesake.

"Yondaime," she smiled as he bowed before her.

"I must thank you for this favor," Minato began, "You allowed my goals to embody within your reincarnation despite the stipulations,"

"In exchange for my services, you must give your life, in its entirety: your past, your present and your future. Yes, I remember, but it made it easier for Minamo to get in contact with Hisaki since it restricted her memories with yours,"

She turned back to Minato, "Namikaze, I thank you for you have helped me. Now I am even closer to my ultimate goal. I have my body back, and with no remnants of that demon. I will be able to walk freely on that plane but unfortunately, her putrid remains still linger so exterminating her will be my first objective once I return. That demon can no longer be an obstacle; she has ruined my plans long enough. I will accomplish what I had promised many years ago."

"I'm glad that I was able to help and I thank you again for saving Konohagakure and for resealing the Kyuubi within my son."

"The nine-tails wasn't too happy about it but he knows it must be done in order for me to put an end to Madara. And this eye that Hisaki granted me will prove to be helpful," she spoke softly as she gently touched the burn underneath her eye.

"Your time here with us is nearly up, Hikari," The shinigami stated.

She nodded in response and faced Minato. "Namikaze, the part of your soul that is bound to the shinigami is now free to pass on; the one within the seal of the Kyuubi shall remain, as you have asked for. Do you have any last requests?" she asked.

He shook his head with a faint smile, "Only that you will care for my son unlike how I was unable to."

"I was planning to anyway," but before Minamo all but disappeared into the oblivion, she turned to the looming figure of the death god and with a jocular smirk and said, "I hoped you were entertained."

A lot more people started to come to the K.I.A. memorial to pay their respects, causing Kakashi quite a bit of trouble. He had to come earlier each day and leave earlier in order to avoid the masses or simply anyone in particular. But he still managed to come late to whatever scheduled time.

Like him, someone came to the memorial when no one else did. Every night when the moon was at its climax, this someone cloaked in darkness, drifted by the stone for an hour exactly.

And one night, two other figures had joined.

"Well, doesn't news travel fast? I wasn't expecting you two until much later. Are your sources really that good?"

The two others stayed silent. An eerie wind fingered through the folds of their robes, revealing their bloodstained ends in the moonlight.

"Go away. I changed my mind so tell your precious leader that I have no time for him or you," a long-nailed hand shooed them away. "But, if Madara-chan can secure 'that', then he'll have my favor. Until then, I'm busy…preparing for my next return,"

The figure cackled; its body and silhouette shook in the ghostly light of the moon as nefarious laughter echoed in the dark.

The next morning, Hinata jogged through the village at a fast pace, her head down, her shoulders stiff and arms behind her. All around people were working together piecing back together the remains of their homes. The day's sun was high and hot but even in the harsh heat everyone was wearing black, so that as they rebuilt their village, they would do it in the memories of the ones that had fallen. Even the young Hyuuga had taken off her white coat to show the dark colors she wore underneath as homage to the departed.

She paused at a crossing to catch her breath and look around at her surroundings. There were men carrying bulks of wood, women carrying nails and paint and even children running around doing various errands. Hinata took off again after a content sigh. The next time she stopped was when she reached her destination. Nervous, Hinata took several large breaths, before entering the dense forest on the border of the village, clutching the thin note she had brought with her.

"So you were called here too?" a familiar voice noted from behind. Hinata quickly peered over her shoulder.

"U-Uchiha-san," Hinata stuttered in surprise. Sasuke approached her with a frigid air with an outstretched hand.

"Let me see your note" he demanded. She immediately complied and handed the piece of paper to him.

'You won't be able to read it, Ke-chan. It's set to Hinata's particular chakra signature."

"Minamo-san!" Hinata exclaimed happily as she saw Minamo's figure approach.

"Yo," she smiled about to take another step towards the two genin.

But Sasuke stepped in before Hinata, wearing a fierce glare.

"How can we be sure that you're Minamo?" Sasuke glowered, "As far as we know you could be anyone right now,"

"You still don't trust me, huh?" Minamo droned, her shoulders slumping.

She sighed. "I was hoping I didn't have to show you this but I'm pretty sure that this is proof."

She pushed her hair back to show bandages that covered the right upper half of her face and slowly began to remove them. Once all the bandages were off, Minamo showed them what it had covered.

Sasuke cringed and Hinata grew apprehensive as they saw the horrible state of Minamo's right eye. Three long red slashes were formed over her wide open eye, horrible claret burns and boils enveloped the areas where her cheek and eyelids should have been.

"This is the gift Hisaki gave to me but thanks to the physical contact I was able fuse the two bodies together and force Hisaki out. No one else would be able to have this kind of scar, I assure you. And the only other who would be able to imitate me now possesses the body of Orochimaru and she wouldn't waste the time trying to recruit you two."

"Recruit?" Sasuke managed to ask, looking away from her eyes.

"Yes, recruit. I called you two here because I want you to come with me."

"Where?" Sasuke asked.

She let a moment pass, thinking of a good answer. "A place I can't reveal right now."

It definitely wasn't a good answer. "Why?"

"Because I need to know your loyalties first, I can't have my location revealed, especially right now. But I can tell you that coming with me won't be for nothing. I'll train you. And I can help both of you achieve your goals. But in return you have to do exactly what I tell you to do with no questions and you must swear your loyalty, so if you follow me then you sign away your life and give your complete and absolute trust to me and to your teammate. I can't stress that enough. But if you stay and return home, you stay. I will hold nothing against you," she positioned the bandages back over her eye, "So are you in or are you out?"

When they made no reply, Minamo simply smiled, "I know that this is a big decision but you have to make it now. And what I'm set out to do won't be easy. It'll be challenging and strenuous but it's an opportunity that I know you both need."

Silence.

"Let's go," Sasuke stepped forward with utter confidence and determination, more than what he ever had garnered before.

This made her smile and began to walk into the depths of the woods, Sasuke close behind her. But Hinata, she stood fast into the ground, her feet fidgeting in her shoes. So tempted to run back home but so sure to follow after the furthering figures, she stood with her hands clasped to her thumping chest and her head down in uncertainty with her lips trembling. She knew the choice that she would make would change her life. She knew. But she didn't know what to do. She knew that if she left she would be able to truly prove herself but she would have to leave everything familiar and comfortable. Lost in her thoughts, she stood there, weighing the pros and cons.

"Oi, are you coming or not?" Sasuke called out to her over his shoulder. Bewildered, Hinata unconsciously ran after them with a "Hai!," not sure what to make of her decision. But as she grew further and further away from her home and her family, the rules and the expectations, her steps grew stronger and soon caught up with her new teammates, her mind ready.

And in that moment, despite her decision, she hoped that she would be able to return to her home….Once again.

Sigh, everything's over! …Well kind of.

Heh, Gaara didn't say a word throughout the entire thing :) probably because he's out of the loop. Oh well, that's the last chapter!

Oh, sorry about not updating in like…um… a year? I feel really guilty that you guys needed to wait for such a crappy final chapter. Basically this chapter was to answer some of the questions that probably have been floating around in your head. If it still doesn't, please contact me and I'll put a better chapter up.

Oh and the whole flashback thing in italics was the story of Uchiha Madara (such a weird name) so if you don't know it you'd probably won't understand what I wrote...which isn't a really smart thing to do as a writer. (-.-) Yeah, so the "Eldest" is Madara and "Younger" is what's his name.

If you noticed, I put in several SAT vocabulary words. LOL. This was to help me for the upcoming test in January and to improve your vocabulary. Aren't I the best?

Here are their definitions:

Dexterous: skillful, deft

Clandestine: secretive

Seditious: disloyal

Jocular: joking

Decimate: destroy

Nefarious: very evil

Claret: dark red

Strenuous: difficult, physically demanding

If you had to look these up, good for you! You just learned 8 more words. If you didn't, good for you! You already know 8 SAT worthy words!

Love you all!

Tafih

P.S. Want a sequel?