A/N: Hello everyone! (grins) This is my first Naruto story, but I hope you all will enjoy it. I've been writing it for almost a year now and so already have 14 chapters, including the prologue, of it done and edited. I'll be posting a chapter every week, usually on Friday. Also, I do realize that this first chapter is short, but it's just the prologue. The rest of the chapters will be much longer, believe me. Well, please read, review, and enjoy! Ja ne!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Claimer: I do own Kyomi and the story plot.

Thanks to my beta reader, BattleStations!


Even After All These Years

Prologue
The ANBU


Through the dense forest, a black blur sped through the trees. The shadow deftly leapt from branch to branch, its weight barely touching one branch before it was in the air again. The impenetrable blackness of the night didn't seem to phase it in the least bit, let alone slow it down.

Finally, several miles later, the blur landed in the center of a wide dirt road, just before a tall gateway. Two figures stood in front of the gate, both Konoha Chunin by their dress and hitai-ate. They both tensed up slightly at the blur's arrival. The darkness of the moonless night hid the crouching figure well and no details could be observed through the dark. Suddenly the figure straightened and stepped into the light created by the two shinobi's lamp.

The figure was revealed to be a kunoichi by the shape of her figure. She stood about five and a half feet tall, with a somewhat small figure. She had long silver hair that was held back in a tight braid. The color of her eyes was hidden by the ookami, wolf, ANBU mask covering her face.

At the sight of that mask, both of the Chunin relaxed slightly. That mask, as well as the tattoo on her shoulder, revealed her to be a Konoha ANBU shinobi. Her outfit though, was what really caught their eyes. She was wearing black pants, the standard shinobi sandals, a black tank top with a high neck, and long black fingerless gloves that reached to her elbows. She also had the standard ANBU katana strapped to her back. What stuck out the most though was the state of her clothes.

They were ripped and torn, as well as dirty and muddy. There were cuts all over the ANBU's body, and fresh blood dripping out of a rather nasty looking wound on her thigh. The Chunin knew that for the ANBU to be as wounded as she was she must have faced a very amble opponent. They couldn't help but wonder who it had been.

The two said not a word however; they simply bowed, as she is their superior, and then went back to staring out into the dark forest as was their job. The ANBU, ignoring the two Chunin, quickly continued on through the gate and into her birthplace of Konohagakure no Sato, the Hidden Leaf Village.

Immediately, she took to the rooftops, despite the appearance of the empty streets. It was simply faster for her to jump from rooftop to rooftop rather than walk or run along the street. The ANBU supposed that it was habit, basic instinct kicking in, that made her travel the rooftops.

After another minute or so of running and leaping through the village, she reached her goal, the Hokage tower. Breezing past the guards and through the building, she only slowed when she reached the door to the Hokage's office. There she nodded to the ANBU on guard before silently slipping through to door.

The sight that greeted the silver haired ANBU was something that nearly made her sweatdrop, despite her usually stoic exterior. The Godaime Hokage, the Fifth Hokage, was stretched out across her desk, snoring loudly. Papers were scattered everywhere with a half-empty sake bottle hanging from the Godaime's hand.

Slightly fearing the Godaime's infamous temper and strength, the ANBU coughed politely and called out, "Hokage-sama."

The Godaime snorted slightly at the disturbance before suddenly waking with a jerk. "Eh? Wha?" she mumbled, wiping some drool from the corner of her mouth and looking around her office. When her eyes landed on the ANBU standing before her, she immediately straightened a scowl on her face. "What the hell are you doing here at this time of the night?!" she growled still half asleep.

"I apologize Hokage-sama," the kunoichi said with a respectful bow. "But you asked me to report to you as soon as I returned."

The Godaime blinked for a moment before abruptly realizing whom it was that was standing in front of her. "Ah, yes! How did it go?" she asked, eyeing the ANBU's bloodstained figure with a wince. She still had yet to completely get over her fear of blood.

"The mission was accomplished, Hokage-sama," the ANBU replied as she placed a medium sized scroll on the Godaime's desk. "The scroll's owner had hired a Kumo-nin to protect the scroll. He was only Jounin level, but caught me with a surprise lightning attack. The mistake I made will not happen again." She assured.

"Good," the Godaime nodded, avoiding looking at the ANBU's wounds. "Now why don't you go to the hospital to get your wounds cleaned and healed? You can hand in your full mission report tomorrow."

"Yes, Hokage-sama." The ANBU bowed once more before turning toward the door to exit the room.

"Oh," the Godaime suddenly said causing the ANBU to pause with her hand outstretched toward the office door handle. "And good job, Hatake Kyomi."


In a forest far from Hi no Kuni, the Land of Fire, two figures stood in the inky blackness of the night. They were completely silent and even the swishing of the cloaks that surrounded them could not be heard. It was a while before the first figure, who was far larger than the second, more lithe one, finally spoke.

"What did the leader say? Are we to go back?"

The smaller figure turned around to face the larger one. "No. We continue on with the mission as was planned."

"But Itachi--"

"No, Kisame." The smaller figure seemed to tower over the larger one, despite the large difference in size. It turned its back to its partner once more and crimson eyes with three strange black tomoe in the center stared out into the dark. "We continue on as planned. In four months, during the next Chuunin Exams, we will capture the Kyuubi's host."