TADAM! And so another inside is complete, this time one that is a tad different from the others or so I believe. Who's so? Well, you'll learn by reading. But before that, there is something that I wanna say, which concerns the future of this series – I've already made quite a bunch of spotlights for NNG, but this is supposed to be NNG Side Stories ^^' To that end, I figured I'll make a slight change of format.

After this, the Inside series will come in waves. As you may have realized, up till now I've done a spotlight on one character from each of the Konoha gennin squads, along with Naruto, a jounin instructor for one of them. And with that, inspiration struck.

The idea is that the Inside series will be publishes "wave after wave" with different stories in between (unless I get a sudden inspiration for a circumstantial chapter or something). To that end, each "wave" will consist of 5 chapters – 4 showcasing gennin of the young generation along with one about a jounin.

And this is where you come in – I'm giving you full freedom in deciding whom you wanna read about next! Sure, I have some ideas for particular characters, but I can save those for later! Starting now, I'll be awaiting your opinions as to whom you wanna read about in the second wave of the Inside series! Still, it'd be preferable that you give your opinion in reviews, so that I wouldn't be accused of fabricating the results ;P

Generally, the choice you've got is 4 characters from ALL important gennin squads (meaning either of Konoha, Suna, Kusa or Tsuki characters) and 1 from "Naruto" cast... the latter includes all of "Konoha 12", as well as the Sand Siblings and Kakashi. I assure you, some of them may surprise you (I imagine Hinata's being specifically unusual :D).

With that wrote, here's the newest installment of NNG "Inside" series:

Spotlight: Kokoro Benda

Genre: psychological, drama, friendship

Voices. Those never stop, they just keep on blooming, echoing in my head even if there's no-one around. At some point I found it amusing, hearing what others could not, being able to uncover what was so well hidden. But in time I came to realize my abilities are not all that great… at least not as much as I pictured them to be. With training I was able to control it to an extend, to silence the voices I prefer to not hear. But they're still there, they use every moment my guard is down to sneak into my head, to let me know what they're saying… to make another turn away from me.

I kept this a secret... from everyone. Last thing I need is for my classmates to know I can read their mind; certain that wouldn't help my social life. Trust aside, you never feel comfortable knowing your thoughts are right there for the taking. Living in my own house I learned this much.

There are no secrets among my clan. Not for the young generation at least; the adults somehow manage to block any form of intrusion, but they don't hesitate about probing us to know if we did our part... if we're not lying. It's ironic, if you think about it, how such abilities rid you of any trust you have towards others. Because what's the point of trusting someone, when you can verify everything on your own? You don't need to leave any room for speculation.

It also dims your senses, in a way – since you 'know', there's little reason to 'feel'. You don't need to guess how someone will react, you're fully aware of it. It's a subtle difference, but whenever I observed my classmates, I felt a bit envious of their instinct; they're not telepaths and yet they learned to read each other's emotions... to learn another's behavior. After so many years relying on my bloodline, I doubt I could do that.

In a way you can call it a first-rate comedy; a guy how knows everything about people, yet can't really comprehend them. I took note of this back in the Academy – I always tried to offer my ear to those who were lonely or sad... I knew what I had to say... but I never understood why that was what they needed to hear.

And I got to thinking – does that make me a bad person? Can I really interfere with things I don't get? I can still remember the time my bloodline activated; it was one of the first days of school. Yume-nee had to come as I was nearly driven insane from all the voices that suddenly erupted in my head. I spent the next, two weeks locked in our clan's household, until I was able to shut the ability off.

I distinctively remember what Yume-nee said back then... or rather what she thought. Once I were to control my bloodline, she wanted me to 'listen'. Technically a simple request.

Or is it?

I wonder what can really be considered as 'listening'? Surely you can hear someone out, but if you don't register these things... if you ignore them or don't comprehend... can you truly claim that you've 'listened'? And if not, with our, particular ability, I question if we're capable of 'listening' at all...

Over the years I came to realize that, despite my exterior, I don't feel comfortable around people. I mean sure, I interact, but I never truly feel that I belong. I can't place my finger on it, but it feels so... fake when I'm with others. And I can always tell if others are faking too.

This unfair advantage has given me a very different perspective concerning people; it became obvious very few are who they seem. Most wear masks to make themselves more accessible to others... or the other way around, as the case may be. You can take Kogane-san from my class as an example: at first glance you get a very strong impression she's superficial and thinks only about herself. But that's not true; frankly, I'd dare say it's the exact opposite.

Deceit is a part of shinobi life, I guess, but it's virtually wasted on the likes of me. Thus I don't fit in. And if you don't fit in, is there a point in trying? Staying true to yourself is the only thing you really have control over and I find it shameful that ninja don't use that fact to their advantage, in stead pretending they're who they're not.

I guess this is why I haven't returned home yet, even though our survival training ended hours ago. Hinata-sensei said we pass and thus officially became ninja, but at that very moment, I didn't really felt anything... Tsume began jumping up and down from joy, Senkou made a lot of fuss... even Galu and Mikka smiled slightly at the news. From their thoughts I could tell they were genuinely happy.

I just stood there, not sure how to react. Being a part of a squad for someone who's not too comfortable with other definitely isn't an ideal arrangement. I know that regardless to the impression they may give, neither of my teammates bares any, ill will, but it still feels heavy. Perhaps it's that very knowledge that's the problem?

"Hey, Kokoro!" I hear a sudden voice and turn to my right, spotting Senkou as he puts away some orange book. "What are you doing, strolling around town at this hour?" he asked and only now I realize the sun has already went down, turning the sky dark.

"I just had some things on my mind and lost track of time" I respond, shifting my gaze to his hand. "What're you reading?"

"Oh... ummm" he begins, instantly hiding the book behind his back. "It's just something my dad always reads and I figured I'll give it a try, but the whole thing is... ugh" he choked. Reading his mind, it was easy to determine he was embarrassed. No use probing further.

"I see" I nodded, hoping to break the tension. "Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow" I stated before spinning on my foot to walk away. But Senkou didn't gave me a chance to do so...

"Hang on" he called after me, putting the book in his bag. "I wanna talk to you about something. I actually noticed this a while back, but... well, I figured that was none of my business at the time. However, now that we're teammates, it wouldn't be wise of me to let this go" he announced, carefully choosing his words. Of course I already knew what this was about, but one should remain in character.

"I'm listening then."

"Well, the thing is" he began, slightly nervous. I don't mind, his hesitation does give me more time to prepare a proper response. "I... I saw you talk to many people in the Academy, so one would assume you get along well with others, but... as Mikka said, you... you never really talk about yourself. I guess I'd like to know... why?"

"Is that really necessary?"

"We are gonna be teammates" he pressed, a bit more confident. "I think it's essential we know stuff about each other."

"Well, I see your point" I admitted with a nod. Still, it is something commonly said. Claiming something like that is practically convention. "However I've learned that most people aren't interested in others... not really. For most part, they ask about you just to give an illusion of carrying, so they can start talking about themselves with a clear conscious. And I find it pointless to talk about myself to those who aren't interested. I prefer to listen."

"Even so, bottling it all up can't be healthy."

"You'd be surprised what people can bottle up" I responded. Experience certainly taught me well over the years. I only now realize that how I acted was a bit rude, especially considering Senkou's intentions were sincere... or were they? I almost frown at the fact – I was so concentrated on the conversation, that I haven't read his mind yet.

"Well, we all have our little demons" he replies with a shrug, checking the bag in which he hid the book. "Secrets we'd prefer never to be brought to the light of day... up eventually that barrier is broken and they are revealed... I sometimes wondered why humans believe it's better to have that happen later then sooner..."

"At times you need to grow ready to handle the truth" I explained. Ironically, I wanted to think this I also knew from experience, but did I? If some things we come to accept only with time, that rule should apply to me as well. And at that time I wonder – what is it that I hide from the world?

The obvious answer would be "my bloodline"... I was always positive it was something others wouldn't be able to accept and Yume-nee's experience seems to prove that much... but if what Senkou said was true... if all secrets eventually become public knowledge... what do I actually gain from hiding it?

If I were alone, I'd probably chuckle at the fact – me, who can learn of any secret from others, keeps secrets himself. I wonder if it's because I can or because I want to. Certainly it's a luxury I don't have at home, but at the same time you don't get to learn the older generation secrets. They won't allow you. With my classmates... my peers... the situation is literally reversed.

I always hated that about my clan – having no privacy. It's ironic that I, of all people, do the exact same thing. Life truly is a circle and despite its many paths, can one really lead to a different destination then the others? I guess one really can't fight him own nature.

"Okay, I'll comply" Senkou's voice reaches my ears. For that, brief moment, I completely forgot he was there. "Guess you're not ready to talk about yourself then. I suppose I can wait... it it's truly a matter of time, then just let me know when you feel like talking. I promise I'll listen" he announced and spun on his foot, ready to leave.

"What, that's it?" I question, almost insulted to my own amusement. The irony never cease.

"Yeah" he shrugged simply, apparently oblivious to my tone just now. "What, was there supposed to be something else? You said it yourself – what's the point of talking about myself to those who are not interested? If there's anything you wanna know about me, then you can ask, right?" he proclaimed with a note of tease in his voice.

"I... suppose so..."

"Then it's settled! But don't count on me to be this generous again – I've already asked about you, so it's not like I'm gonna bug you over it the second time! You better do tell me stuff about yourself later on" he announced, placing his foot on the nearby fence.

"One question though" I asked, making him stop in his tracks. Senkou turned towards me with his usual expression, apparently awaiting me to continue. And so, I did: "What you said just now... did you really mean it?"

"I wouldn't have said it otherwise" he assured me with, what I imagine, was a smirk behind his mask, just before he took off for good. It did leave me wondering what to expect of this though; that was quite a promise. One that a person may not manage to fulfill, even if they tried, so it would require a conviction. Of course, if I wanted to know if he spoke the truth, all I had to do was probe his mind...

But I didn't.

-the end-

And so you got to probe the mind of a mind reader :D How was it? To be honest, Kokoro's inside was hard for me to prepare; I had the beginning, but I wasn't sure which part exactly I wanted to uncover and just how much of it. The idea with including Senkou came much later, but I feel it was a good call. Now I'm anxious about Tsume's spotlight, but it all depends on you what happens next ;)

Thanks for reading, don't forget to review and see you next time!