Awakening

Cursed

Years on the battlefield, along with experience most men would probably never achieve in their lifetime was one of the many 'gifts' Naruto had been granted when he became an ANBU. This experience, along with his own intuition helped him hone one of his most useful abilities - his ability to tell between friend and foe.

There were many ways in which this could usually be done – through their chakra signature, their fighting style and jutsus or even something as simple as the way they looked and acted - but the one sign Naruto looked for without even having to engage in battle was their killing intent. Killing intent in which Naruto could either detect, or let off in large amounts.

The man inside had none.

"Naruto, we didn't believe it at first but we're certain he is. His chakra coils match up, I've seen them with my own eyes." Neji said, watching Naruto stare intently into the room. Once again for one of the many times in his life, Naruto cursed the Hyuuga pride. He guessed it was something that not just Hyuuga, but all nobles were raised to believe from birth – Uchiha included.

It was an ignorant belief that Naruto had found himself against many times, believing that they were, because of their heritage, the best.

"Of course they would match up – every person infected with the cursed seal shows the same damaged coils." Naruto argued, slamming his fist on the metal door. "Let me see him."

"I can't do that."

"Are you going to have me believe that one of the main leaders of the Sound army so happened to be on the border all alone and half-dead?" Naruto asked rhetorically. "Even I, without Byakugan, can tell something is wrong."

By the look in Neji's eyes, Naruto wondered for a second if he had to shove the words through Neji's ears. Neji was one of Naruto's few close friends, but no one was always perfect around the clock.

"That's what we thought, but we had to take him prisoner. Even if he wasn't Sasuke he couldn't have just been a lowly Sound spy, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to take on all of us at once." Even without the Byakugan activated, veins appeared on Neji's tired face. "Everything else implies that it is Uchiha Sasuke, except for the question of how and why he was there when we found him."

"Let me in." Naruto said firmly. "I know Sasuke better than anyone else – I'll be able to tell if it's him or not."

"There are multiple Genjutsus and Ninjutsus on the prison cell, plus you'll have to go through the many security clearances to –"

"I know you can get me in there Neji, as a favor for me – let me see him." Naruto turned to stare into the clear eyes of the Hyuuga prodigy. It took a long moment, in which the two men tried to reach each other, waiting for the other to relent.

"Fine, but I'm going in with you. Stand back, I'll open the door" Neji said, and all the jutsus overlapping the area were revealed to him as he activated his Byakugan. "I helped build these security measures myself, so you better be careful not to set anything off."

"Thank you." Naruto sighed in relief, as he walked through the metal door and towards the chained-man sitting in the center of the room – it wasn't like any of the jutsus in the room could stop him anyway. "Wake up." Naruto looked at the man in the center of the room, sitting on a metal chair – long, messy black hair hanging over a pale, blank mask of a face looking down towards the floor. A miserable piece of existence.

"How's it going, Naruto? Didn't believe Neji, did you?" The man coughed roughly, looking up at Naruto and then towards Neji, who was standing at the corner of the room. Naruto stared into the eyes of the man – he looked exactly like how he remembered Sasuke. His acting was off though, Sasuke was as proud as Neji and would never speak as casual as he was now – unless he had lost his mind.

"We need to talk." Naruto muttered, as he watched the expression of the man. It didn't change. He was still annoyingly laid-back and calm, with no intention or even the slightest want to leave.

"Missed me?"

"What are you doing here?" Naruto said, ignoring 'Sasuke's' question. "Why did they send you here?"

"They?" 'Sasuke' asked. "Why do you think 'they' sent me here?"

"Answer my question." Naruto's forte wasn't in interrogation, as his usually threat was 'tell me, or I'll kill you in a horrible manner' – but that wasn't going to work this time around, as this prisoner had to be kept alive. For the time being.

"I just thought about dropping by to see you again."

Naruto walked around 'Sasuke', whose eyes traced him. "Looks like you have some good healers too, some of those battle scars I inflicted are missing." By now, 'Sasuke' should've known exactly what he was implying.

"You don't believe it's me, Naruto?"

"Have you grown a little too?" Naruto took a deep breath, before leaning on one of the grey walls of the prison cell. "I don't have to be a genius like Shikamaru to figure it out. The only reason Neji didn't figure it out either was because he's tired and more focused on the damage you caused to his team. Along with that, he would rather see you just rot in your prison cell than complicate the matters."

"Found me out, have you?" He gave up easily. Naruto knew why.

"Let me take a guess – a variation of one of Orochimaru's disguising jutsus?" Naruto pretended to be in deep thought. "Only two other people besides the bastard himself know his techniques in depth – one is Sasuke, and the other is Yakushi Kabuto."

The man was a genius. He had given Naruto nothing, rather, he had been leading him all along. Naruto knew this, and played along – if he was going to get anything, he would have to play his game and he would have to play by his rules.

"We have a winner." Kabuto grinned with Sasuke's face. "Though I won't be coming out of my disguise any time soon."

"What do you want?"

"To deliver a message, Oh Demon Assassin." Kabuto mocked, "from myself, of course."

"I quite like that nickname." The level of seriousness dropped for a second, a slight smile on his face.

"I thought you would." Kabuto replied, trying to continue the non-essential banter.

"So, what was it you wanted to tell me?" Naruto asked, crouching besides the chained man. "It better be good, by the way."

"Villages are moving - you'd be surprised to think how many are actually thinking about allying with the Sound." Kabuto said, knowing he had Naruto listening. "After they captured the Stone, many other villages could be said to have their loyalties in question. The Cloud for one – they would love to get back at the 'Great Hidden Leaf' after the embarrassment all those years ago – they still hold a grudge."

"You talk like you aren't a part of your own village."

"My loyalties never were with the Sound – they were with Orochimaru."

"Then why are you still with them?"

"The Sound is currently offering me a better deal than the Leaf has ever done, you know."

"And you're willingly giving me information?" Naruto raised an eyebrow, as Sasuke's eyebrows drooped.

"You're the last of the jinchuruuki – meaning you have a hefty price tag on your head. Your death alone could mark an apparent weakness and vulnerability to the Leaf. It would be more symbolic rather than anything else."

"I'm flattered that you care." Naruto smirked, but he was certain Kabuto had more in him – there had to be something worthwhile to tell for him to risk his own life to come here and tell him. But then again, everything he had told him so far had been correct and factual. Was this a ploy to gain Naruto's trust? Naruto opted to voice his opinions, "There's something else, isn't there?"

"I'd like to keep at least a couple of bargaining chips in my pocket."

"That's expected." Naruto said. All he needed to know was that he had more to tell, after that he would send the interrogators in.

"I want you to know I'm on your side though." Kabuto said, as Naruto eyed him carefully – Kabuto was smart, everything had a deeper meaning with him. "I don't want your village or you to be defeated –not yet, anyway," he continued mysteriously. "They put a tracker on me. My original goal was to be captured so I could leave a trail. White eyes over there took me through the quickest and safest route through to the village, which wasn't very smart for a 'Hyuuga Prodigy'."

"How long do we have?"

"A couple of days." A dark look from Naruto brought the answer he was after. "The day after tomorrow, around dusk. They know you won't kill me."

Naruto gritted his teeth. "You planned this ahead, didn't you?"

"Of course I did."

"What are my options, Neji?" Naruto asked his friend, who cleared his throat on mention of his name.

"We could kill him, though that wouldn't achieve much." Neji said, smiling at the thought of killing Kabuto – he had apparently already formed some resentment towards him. "Or we could simply do as Kabuto originally planned – we're going to have to intercept their apparent attempt at an ambush."

"Be careful who you tell our little secret to, I'll say it right now, as I am giving information for you from the Sound, there are others doing it from the Leaf." Kabuto said, agreeing with Neji's decision.

Silence was a two-pronged attack. Naruto watched on as Kabuto and Neji stared at each other.

"Frightening, isn't it, white eyes?" Kabuto asked, as Neji locked eyes with the traitor of both sides. "The fact that there exists a jutsu even the Byakugan cannot see through – it's scary for a Shinobi like you."

"Just because you say you're on our side, doesn't mean we believe you." Neji said spitefully. "You're going to stay in this cell. Hopefully for a long time."

"If you're bitter about me hurting your friends, the damage isn't permanent. They'll be alright. They should all be healed very shortly. I just used a rather powerful sleeping jutsu to make it appear that I knocked them out by force."

"Neji." Naruto said trying to get his friend to ignore their prisoner and temporary ally. "You know what to do – alert the right people, Tsunade included."

"And where are you going?" Both Neji and Kabuto asked at the same time, followed by dirty looks towards each other.

"To see her."

- -

"You're late."

"I missed that voice." Naruto smiled, as he walked into their apartment, the darkness of the night behind him. Like music to his ears.

"And your stained with blood." She replied, and the obvious never made him feel as stupid as before.

He felt awkward. He felt as awkward as it was the first time he had approached her. He didn't know why, but for some reason back then something forced him to take Lee's advice in going all out in his 'proclamation of everlasting love' – as Lee called it.

His smile remained on his face, as he realised it wasn't as different as their first date. He was back from another mission, wearing the same ANBU uniform, similarly stained with blood, and she was – like always – waiting for him. He remembered the exhaustion and fatigue he felt after the mission, how he was almost about to 'screw the first date and go home'. That was until he saw her.

Simple, but elegantly dressed. The same girl, the same tied, blond hair, the same calling lips and the same mirroring blue eyes, staring back at him. That day, she gave him reason.

And just like that day, the words that came out were truly weak compared to what he was thinking.

"It's late, you didn't have to wait up for me." He gently closed the door behind him, and cautiously walked towards her, each step reaching up to his heart and letting his chest pound itself. He wasn't surprised that she still made him feel this way.

Her eyes bore into him. As if seeing into him and telling him that she knew exactly what he was thinking, and that she knew more than he did. She would probably be right too.

"I'm always waiting for you, Naruto." Her soft words flowed through his ears. It felt like she had stolen the words right from him, stopping him in his tracks - he was sure that the torture-specialist recruited by Ibiki knew exactly which words to use to bend him whatever way she wanted. And he didn't mind.

Every word she spoke seemed to be part of some enchanted rhythm, as if each word was carefully constructed to make him feel a mixture of happiness and guilt. And the silence was a cage itself.

"Glad you missed me." With a flash of gleaming teeth able to even make the late Gai jealous, he produced a bouquet of flowers from behind his back. "I got them just the way you like it."

The façade, Naruto's last resort – activated. He became the childish, immature copy of what he had tried and had successfully convinced everyone he was. Everyone except for her.

He resumed his walking, he was safe now, he was in control of the situation and he was sure that she wouldn't be able to find out that -

"That's because I arranged them." Ino replied coldly, but with a hint of amusement in her voice. "You broke into our shop before you came here, didn't you?"

She had broken the mask, once again. She had seen through him like glass. Or maybe this had still been all apart of his immature act?

"I'm still an ANBU until I walk through these doors." Naruto replied, not admitting that her statement was correct. More steps forward, as he was sure that he would be able to close the gap between them.

The gap, which felt like it was miles long. The gap, both figurative and literal, displayed all the 'obstacles' between them, yet it also contained the slither of what kept them together.

"You're still late." She said, as if she was just speaking for the sake of speaking now, breaking the awkward silence following.

He could tell she was slowly getting tired of the game they were playing. Compromise was the key. Finding the in-between, meeting at a certain point and deciding that for once, they wouldn't be playing games.

"Idiot." She said, as she walked closer towards him, before grabbing him and pulling him close to her tightly.

"I missed you too." Naruto whispered, as he ran a hand through her hair, and gently placed another on her back. It was only to each other to whom they would allow themselves to be vulnerable.

Few words had to be said. The gap was closed and that was enough.

- -

"Naruto, if you mention anything about 'the road of life' I will send you on a life-long mission across that 'road of life' of yours." Tsunade said, clearly angry at Naruto, who had decided to invite himself to take a seat at the other side of her office desk.

"I get it, I'm late." Naruto replied. Whilst Tsunade had opted to dress in her normal green robe, Naruto was possibly the only shinobi under the command of the Leaf that was willing to dress in a casual fashion in front of the Hokage – a simple orange shirt, and black pants.

"This situation needs to be handled." Tsunade said, and Naruto sighed – he knew exactly what that meant.

"Who do I have to kill?" Naruto asked bluntly, as he leant back, relaxing on his chair. It was typical of all his missions as of late. He knew that when he was recruited by the ANBU that he would be forced to kill for the sake of the village – but if he was told how much, he would have found himself sick in the stomach.

ANBU was divided into many different branches, and Special Jounin and Chunin were put into different branches depending on where their talents lie, and he was drafted into the assassination squad. It seemed to be the perfectly suited position for the Kyuubi's jailer – one-man missions, going in, killing someone, going out.

"It's not exactly who you have to kill." Naruto eyed her carefully, this mission had a catch. "It's what you have to do."

"What is it? What was so important that you called me early in the morning?"

"For one – Kabuto was your responsibility. Instead, you left it to Neji to tell me about the situation and got him to tell me that you'd handle it in the morning." Frustration was very evident on her face, and after all these years, Naruto had become very aware of how to handle the Hokage's moods. "We had an S-rank criminal, willing to give highly top-secret information, whilst you decided to go home and take a nap?"

"And see Ino." Naruto added, as if she had missed out an important detail. He looked down at he ground, not unlike he did in his academy days when Iruka would tell him off.

"This is an S-rank situation." Tsunade repeated her earlier statement. "From the further information he gave to Neji after he left they're planning to attack in a small strike unit, through the safe route in the West Entrance of the Village, behind the Forest of Death. Currently I've ordered certain 'precautions' to be taken around that area, though with such short notice it is difficult to make it more secure."

"What sort of precautions?" Naruto asked, curious as to what sort of escape route he had, not that he had ever had to escape from an ANBU mission before.

"Sentries, mainly. The genius, Shikamaru, developed very subtle devices used to detect anyone passing by and relaying it back to the Leaf."

"You still have him locked up in that basement, don't you?" Naruto laughed, almost feeling pity for his lazy friend who was immediately elected as battle-strategist for the Leaf. "You were going to put me on a team, weren't you?"

"Was. Decided not to. It's been a while since you've worked on a team, and I don't think it would be the best thing for you to rejoin a team on such an important mission." Tsunade confirmed Naruto's suspicion, who simply nodded.

"So, who do you want me to kill?" Naruto asked again, and Tsunade absent-mindedly shuffled scrolls across her table.

"The group from the sound that is coming for Kabuto. We don't want them dead immediately." Tsunade said, and Naruto immediately protested.

"You know that I haven't done anything in my past missions besides killing, don't complicate matters." Naruto replied.

"I said that we don't want them dead immediately. Negotiate. See what they have and what they're willing to trade." She said, before adding grimly, "the amount of MIA's we have is larger than I'd like to admit."

"What do I want to find out?"

"Their password." Tsunade stated simply.

"Their password?" Naruto asked, confused. "Why don't we just break in?"

"I have plans." Tsunade replied. "I doubt any of them would know any secrets we were looking for. Once we know the password we can enter the village, get in there and do what we must. It's almost the same way they were going to get in – by finding the simplest route."

"I go in there, negotiate, kill all but one, and then ask for the password?" Naruto asked. "That's simple enough."

"Just don't let me down." Tsunade said, as Naruto began to stand up and walk away, without even waiting to be dismissed.

More deaths caused by his hand – just because it was his job didn't mean he enjoyed it. He still missed the times when the killing was left to the adults, and his hardest missions were cleaning out drains.

He could miss the old times, though even if he could turn back time, he wouldn't do it. He now has something to live for.

- -

There he stood, once again, the next day. It had become a strange sort of ritual for him. Every time, before a mission started, he would just stand there.

Silently, he looked on at the large stone in front of him, the names of all the Leaf nin that had fallen protecting their village. He lost himself in his thoughts and memories.

Though he respected them all, he would usually stare on at the last few, the recent additions, just to see if any new names had been added and to linger on names of his own comrades that had fallen as well.

"Kakashi." Naruto spoke quietly, speaking of the name of the man who had stunned everyone with his amazing battle prowess, as he was the one that destroyed Orochimaru for good after his resurfacing. He remembered it well, as for one final time the snake bastard decided to stage another effort in claiming the village he desperately wanted to control.

Maybe he did it because he knew his time was slowly drawing near – maybe being suicidal appealed to him. Orochimaru had escaped death so many times, he might have been tired of it. But then again, Naruto would never know.

Orochimaru arrived during the day, as if this was a large psychological game to him, as a sort of sign to show that he was not afraid of attacking in broad daylight. Yet it was orchestrated so well. He had had inside units the whole time, people still loyal to him, especially inside the prison cells.

He had broken in, with his small unit of the best under his command, and all hell broke loose. People were confused, Naruto himself was out on a mission when he, along with many other ANBU received a call back to Konoha – but it was too late.

The prison had already been broken into, and Orochimaru did his routine of scaring the hell out of everyone by summoning giant snakes. Kakashi, like always, arrived late to handle the situation. They say he was next in line to become Hokage, though they were actually thinking about not electing him due to his habits.

Kakashi had led a group of ANBU himself, and managed to find himself facing Orochimaru, even finding it in himself to push his final Raikiri through the bastards chest, as Orochimaru stared into the eyes of the Sharingan – another possession he sought after but could never get.

And that was how it had ended for both of them, as Orochimaru revealed his finally trick in managing to poison Kakashi early in the battle with his Kusanagi sword.

Naruto had teleported back late, to see Kakashi, with a grim smile – an actual smile, as he had removed his mask.

After Naruto finished paying his respects and remembering seeing Kakashi's face alive for the first and last time, Naruto strapped on his ANBU mask.

Just another day in the life of a murderer.

- -

Naruto moved silently and quickly, with utter-precision as he jumped from tree to tree, before landing at the encounter point he had planned and discussed with Tsunade.

"Kage Bunshin No Jutsu." Naruto muttered, as his clones spread out around the area. It served as more of an intimidation factor than anything. The clones were specifically ordered to give themselves away as subtle as possible, in hopes that that would give the enemy confidence in being able to find them easily and to think that there were more numbers than there really was to also intimidate them, and to allow Naruto to hide unnoticed.

The clones were all part of the act.

Naruto's mind was blank as he crouched on the tree branch. He found it best to keep his thoughts clear whenever he was waiting, because there was a split second between snapping out of your thoughts and getting your head chopped off.

The tags created by Shikamaru alerted Naruto of the arrival of the enemy Shinobi, closing in on his hiding place carefully.

He had to respect their ability to sneak in carefully, as they seemingly jumped out of trees not so far away from him to stop in the middle of the forest.

"Come out, we know you're here." The leader of the squad stepped up and called out. They all wore the same standard Sound-spy uniform. It was typical that it was basically a copy of the Konoha ANBU uniform, except for the absence of a mask, instead there was a cloth around their mouths, not unlike Kakashi's.

"You got me." A transformed clone jumped out of a tree closest to the group of Sound spies. Counting carefully, there were seven of them, and two more hiding in the trees still.

"How about all of you come out." The leader replied, and all of the transformed clones jumped out – leaving Naruto to smile as he knew they had no idea he was there, watching. "Give me a reason not to kill you all."

"Who said you could kill us all?" The original clone that came out spoke. "I think you'll be pleased to know we interrogated your other spy, and he told us that we would meet you here. That was smart of you, planting Yakushi Kabuto." Interrogated in a ninja's terms usually meant tortured, though that didn't happen, it was better to let them think it did.

"And so what are you going to do with the information he gave you?" The leader asked.

"Negotiate. You'll be wanting him back, I suppose."

"What did you have in mind to trade him for?" Naruto was sure he wasn't about to announce what he had, so he waited for his clone to press on for more information.

"I'm sure you have something of equal value."

"A couple of Leaf Shinobi here, a couple of top-secret scrolls there, the usual." The Sound shinobi spoke carelessly, recklessly, as if he had the upper hand. He was an idiot.

"The scrolls are of no use if you have already read them."

"You mean the Uchiha Scroll is of no use to the Leaf?" The Sound Shinobi asked. "Our leader was quite happy when he got his hands on a detailed scroll of one of the most powerful clans of the Leaf – and their abilities. We even managed to obtain the ANBU files." His boasting proved to be his folly, as he was slowly revealing more.

"Two scrolls?"

"Of course we have more, and not just from the Leaf. This conversation is pointless, anyway. We do not care for what happens to Kabuto. Our village operates differently from yours, Kabuto put himself on this mission knowing that he may or may not come back – our objective wasn't to rescue him anyway."

"Your objective was to steal more from our village and free other prisoners, am I correct?" Naruto hated the way the Sound operated –the lives of their shinobi were the least of their priorities.

"That you are. But this conversation is of no more use to either of us, as you are already about to die." The leader laughed and the two hidden Sound Shinobi jumped down to attack, whilst Naruto simply looked down and began to execute his plan – kill them all, leave one alive to spill the information.

"Boom." Naruto whispered, as his clones exploded and the two unfortunate shinobi were caught right in the middle of the explosion.

"What was that?" A sound shinobi called out in confusion, as the smoke of the explosion covered the area. Charging chakra from his feet, Naruto pushed off from the tree branch and descended gracefully into the smoke, withdrawing his sword and slicing one Sound Shinobi in half.

"Doton: Doryudan No Jutsu!" The voice echoed through Naruto's ears, as he quickly dodged the dragon-shaped earth that rose from the ground and attempted to attack him. He jumped on top of the head of the dragon and quickly ran down its body to meet with the one who called the jutsu, as he met the same fate as his comrade. There were five left, and Naruto was bordering on his record time.

He turned around in time to block an oversized shuriken to find that it had not been thrown, but was used as a hand-held weapon. Another kunai flew in his direction, which he quickly ducked. The smoke was beginning to clear, and two of them had decided to team up to fight him. The one with the shuriken drew it back and then trying to use it to slice off his head again. Naruto bent back, dodging it, and then flipping back over to kick the shinobi in the jaw. He deflected another kunai with his sword, and threw his sword towards the other enemy nin to stab him in the chest.

"Fuuton: Reppusho!" Naruto jumped towards the shuriken-wielding nin as he began to get up, and placed a palm to his chest, releasing a concentrated blast of wind into his chest and severely damaging his internal organs and killing him. It was a move he had developed from training with Neji, but there was no time to ponder on that now.

"Kage Shuriken No Jutsu!"

"Fuuton: Atsugai!" Naruto turned around and blew a gust of wind from his mouth, another technique based on the Uchiha's fire-breathing jutsu. The gust of wind managed to blow away the two shuriken and another attacker, as his shuriken flew back at him and he was killed by his own weapon.

"Dokugiri!" Turning around, Naruto quickly saw a cloud of poison flying towards him, and he knew that though it couldn't kill him due to his demon chakra, it would hurt.

"Fuuton: Reppusho!" Naruto repeated, but this time just released the blast of wind from his palm to blow away the poison cloud. "Doton: Shinju Zanshu no Jutsu." Naruto disappeared, and the Sound shinobi screamed as something grabbed his leg and pulled him down into the ground, where only his head was above ground. Naruto jumped up in front of him and simply stared at him – he would be interrogated later.

"Did you forget about me." The leader asked, and Naruto smiled as he turned around – a cursed-seal user.

"I was planning on saving you for last. I have a personal thing against cursed-seal users." Naruto turned around to see the once normal man with blood-red skin, his veins being very noticeable. Two horns had sprouted from his head, and he had seemed to grow claws and fangs. Naruto knew that normal weapons would barely pierce his skin, though he knew one jutsu that usually did the trick.

"Let's see what you can do." The leader smiled, cracking his knuckles and assuming battle position.

"I hardly think you'll be able to see me at all." Naruto replied, and the mans eyes widened, as Naruto suddenly disappeared and reappeared in front of him – his arm had gone right through the leaders chest. "Rasengan." The remaining chakra disappeared from Naruto's hand, as he removed it from the hole in the leaders chest which with the rest of his body turned back to its normal form. "You." Naruto said, as he pulled his sword from the chest of the enemy and dangled it in front of his captive, who knew he was utterly helpless.

"I can't tell you anything!" The man yelled out, and Naruto cut off the man's mask. He looked young, probably a little older than Naruto himself was. Naruto adjusted his mask, and stared down at the man. "I've heard of you. The Demon Assassin."

"Demon Assassin?" Behind his mask, Naruto had a thoughtful expression – they were finally giving him a nickname.

"That's what they call you. The ANBU nin with the fox mask." The man muttered. Naruto could see the sweat running on his head, and Naruto crouched in front of him. "If we ever were to see you, we're supposed to immediately run. If we knew you were here we wouldn't have even come."

"Sounds about right." Naruto replied. "So if you really are afraid of me, then tell me everything. Unless you want a sword through your ear. And by everything – tell me the password too."

"I can't do that." The man said, closing his eyes tightly, as if he was wishing this wasn't happening. "Just kill me!"

That annoyed Naruto.

"Do you want to know what's worse than me cutting of your ear very slowly and painfully?" Naruto whispered into his ears, removing his mask, as the man quivered. He was sure the man was trying to shut him out. "I have a friend from the Aburame clan. He taught me a lot of things about different insects. It was very interesting. There's this specific one though, right here." Naruto said, as he removed a small tube from his pocket and waved it in front of the man's face. Crawling inside it was a beetle and Naruto was sure the man registered the name 'Aburame' with 'killer insects'. "It goes into your ear, and is very adept at finding the nervous system in your brain. It plays with it like a musical instrument – able to bring out its potential in the most amount of excruciating pain you will ever feel. You'll practically be begging for death the moment it even sets foot into your ear. Doesn't sound too pleasant, does it?"

"I can't tell you anything!" The man said, looking worriedly as he stared into the tube, to see what looked like a mundane, black beetle crawling about.

"Just tell me the password, and my hand won't accidentally slip this beetle into your ear." Naruto smiled, showing off his fangs. "Then you'll truly realize exactly why they call me a demon."

"Please don't, I can't tell you!" The man cried, but Naruto simply grinned sadistically into the man's eyes.

"Unlike most other people, I only give one chance." Naruto tipped the beetle into the man's ear, and the man immediately cried out. "I can get it out of you if you want – but just tell me the password." The man continued screaming, until finally he called out.

"I'll tell you! The password!" The man called. "It's a pledge of allegiance to the snake!"

"Wrong move. It's too obvious. Nice try, but it's hard to lie when your under extreme pain." Naruto said, and the man immediately reacted after a long yell.

"Alright, the password – it's a declaration of ones unquestionable loyalty to the Akatsuki! I swear!" Naruto looked into his eyes, and knew he wasn't lying. But why would the password be a declaration to the Akatsuki? What the hell was going on? Naruto took a deep breath and cleared his thoughts, eyeing the blood on his sword with some sort of strange fascination.

"It was just a normal beetle. Your fear was your pain, you would have just felt a mild itch and annoyance inside your ear." Naruto muttered, as he stood up. "But if you really want it to all end, then I shall show mercy." Lifting up his sword, Naruto brought it down through the man's skull.

Another life to cross off Death's list.


A/N: Enjoyed it? Loved it, hated it? Sorry if it sucked.

Things should start moving next chapter though. Criticise me, flame me, praise me or just plain review me :D.

'til next time.