A/N: I wish to make something crystal clear…. There will be no magically bringing back dead people in my fanfic. Anko is dead in this story and she will remain dead. If any other character dies, they face the same treatment. Bringing dead characters magically back to life is boring, stupid, and shows the writer is woefully unskilled.

Orochimaru was absolutely furious.

He sat upon his throne room in the dark caverns of one of his secret Otogakure military bases. His enhanced eyesight allowed him to read through the deluge of written material within the darkness. Yagiri Yagura's tome of scripture was a total fucking joke.

Orochimaru had thoroughly read through the manuscript during his current recovery period. He hadn't divulged anything noteworthy that could explain the Rinnegan awakening within the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. The manuscript itself contained a bunch of insane suppositions regarding the framework of the world, an ignorant view of Bloodlines that was completely unsupported by the laws of nature, and essentially proved that Yagura was nothing more than a raving lunatic who was better off dead.

Orochimaru couldn't help but be angry with himself. He had ordered Kabuto to leave his vital role as a spy in Konoha to go on a mad quest to get the original manuscript of a religious book that was long known to be the workings of a crazed moron. Reading the original only confirmed that the book was crap. He had hoped there was some secret about Jinchuuriki's in the original work that linked them to creating bloodlines but instead he had read through pages upon pages of bullshit. He had learned nothing of value, his spy was no longer useful in a nation that he was ready to launch a full-scale invasion upon, and he had yet to fully recover from the ordeal within the Forest of Death.

Kabuto had created some medicinal remedies to speed-up his recovery. Orochimaru impatiently felt it wasn't fast enough. He wanted to be back on his feet as quickly as possible. He hated feeling useless. He hated that he was forced to recuperate because of a fight against three genin that should've easily been handled. Even with the Kyuubi's interference, the boy shouldn't have been that strong. Clearly, the Rinnegan had some sort of factor in the Jinchuuriki's strength…

A small amount of malice began building within Orochimaru. Uzumaki Naruto was a representation that there was some grain of truth to the worthless myths contained within religion. As Orochimaru simmered in his anger for the following month, he couldn't help but think that Uzumaki Naruto was also a representation of his failure. He had lost the opportunity to give Uchiha Sasuke the cursed seal. The Rinnegan user had caused him to be in this embarrassing situation!

He intended to make the Uzumaki brat suffer someday.

"Kabuto, sneak back into Konoha a few days prior to the invasion and pay our informant a visit."

The Sandaime Hokage entered the hospital room of Uzumaki Karin. Haku hastily stood-up and held a firm posture in respect to the Hokage. The Hokage waved him off and indicated him to sit back down by Karin's bedside.

"I owe you an apology, Haku-san," said the Sandaime calmly, he walked over to the foot of Karin's bedside to take the clipboard and began skimming it over. He put it back by the foot of the bed and gazed directly at Haku. "I'm afraid that I couldn't spare too much time focused to help your case because I needed to make new adjustments to the security detail and personally oversee the Chuunin exams."

"All because of Orochimaru's boorish attack in the Forest, as you know. Fortunately, no Konoha genin were hurt and the villages of Kirigakura, Iwagakure, and Kumogakure cannot hold us responsible thanks to the death waiver being signed off for all four teams that were killed."

Haku tiredly nodded in understanding. He hadn't been able to get a decent night's sleep because of the precautionary conditions that he was forced to live in. The chair by Karin's side had been his only means of sleep. He was isolated from anything else. One of the young nurses had been nice enough to provide hospital supplements for him to eat. He was gracious for her hospitality and had thanked her. If not for that, Haku would have starved by now.

There was a brief pause as the Hokage peered directly into Haku's eyes. Haku fidgeted at the Hokage's contemplative gaze. The Hokage seemed to be making a serious internal decision about something of great import.

'Please don't tell me that you don't believe me,' thought Haku sorrowfully, 'After all this…'

"Haku-san, I require your complete secrecy as a newly instated citizen of Konoha," said the Hokage in a commanding tone, "If you cannot promise me that; leave this room and return to the Uchiha compound. I have already vouched for your sincerity regarding your story."

"I…" He stopped speaking. Haku was at a loss for words. He was entirely confused by these new set of circumstances. He chose to stand-up straight despite his haggard appearance. "I shall fulfill my duty to Konohagakure to the best of my ability, sir."

He meant it too. He wanted to prove his loyalty to Konoha especially after the harrowing events that had transpired. Haku wanted to show he was trustworthy to the Hokage.

The Hokage gave him a measured gaze before slowly nodding and fixating his attention back upon Karin's unconscious form. The Hokage sighed softly before going through a complex string of handseals and using his personal perfected version of the Shintenshin no jutsu. Sarutobi entered the mindscape of Uzumaki Karin.

"Worthless…" spoke the six-year old Karin in disgust, "How can you live with yourself? Look at yourself…"

"You're no better than those shallow bastards…"

An older Uzumaki Karin was on her knees crying in misery. Her hands obscured her face as she cried in shame. She was wallowing in a mixture of self-pity and self-disgust over her sin.

She was nothing more than a heartless monster.

The Sandaime Hokage came into view behind the crying twelve year old. He firmly gripped her shoulder and began willing them out of her mindscape.

"You can't protect her forever, you decrepit fool," snarled the younger Karin glaring at both of them, "She will have to face me one day. On that day, I shall take hold of her powers and destroy her from within."

"She cannot keep turning away from her own shadow."

Sarutobi refused to acknowledge the other Karin at all. He knew deep down that it was the truth. Karin couldn't keep running away from the issue. It would destroy her from within if she didn't deal with her inner conflict soon.

Sarutobi broke the concentration on the jutsu and Karin shot-up from her bed. Haku yelped in surprise at the sudden turn of events.

Karin blearily looked around in confusion before noticing the hospital gown she now adorned. She exchanged glances between the Hokage and Haku. She breathed in and out through her nostrils before using the back of the bed to rest her back so she was in a sitting position on the bed.

Karin gestured to the Hokage about Haku but the Hokage firmly shook his head. Karin leaned back on the bed and closed her eyes. Her face scrunched-up in irritation before she breathed once more and re-opened her eyes to focus on the Hokage. Slowly, her features changed from anger to sadness.

"I'm sorry, Sarutobi-sama," spoke Karin crestfallen, she tried to maintain eye contact with the Hokage through the shame she now felt. "I… slipped out of control again. I tried to fight back and hold it at bay but… but I couldn't."

She gestured toward Haku as she began her next explanation. She would make sure to tell the truth.

"Akahoshi told me that mother wanted me to recruit the Hyouton bloodline user for the clan. I attempted to keep the discourse solely about the benefits of joining the clan and the clan's history but Haku-san expressed indignation over… him."

She frowned as she lowered her face in shame for what happened. Haku stared between the Hokage and Karin clueless of what was going on. The Hokage mulled over the information before he began speaking.

"Young lady, what transpired nearly jeopardized this boy's life," said the Hokage with a tone of finality, Haku paid close attention as Karin began covering her face with her right-hand. "He was a suspected traitor to the village and I was barely able to keep my ANBU from locking him up under false pretenses. I was forced to delay helping him because of vital national security interests and the ceremonial Chuunin exams which required my immediate attention."

"This is not even mentioning the political controversies that have arisen thanks to Uchiha Sasuke's ultimatum, the internal Hyuuga clan conflict that has now been made more public, and your own mother's despicable mannerisms during the Chuunin exams."

Karin removed her hand from her face and gazed back at her leader. She seemed to have paled at the Hokage's words. The Hokage held her in place with his stern gaze. Haku got the impression that Karin usually wasn't reprimanded by the Hokage.

"As your commander-in-chief, I'm ordering you to inform him of your condition immediately," said Sarutobi pointedly, the Hokage was not happy with what happened to Anko and what almost happened with Haku. "I require the assistance and cooperation of both of you to protect Konohagakure from Orochimaru's imminent attack. Intelligence indicates that Orochimaru is planning to launch a full-scale invasion sometime within the month. We do not yet know the specific date."

"For the following month, the two of you shall coordinate the protection of the Shinobi Academy together. The both of you are hereby mandated to conduct training sessions together to build teamwork under the instruction of ANBU Captain Tenzo Yamato. Once he has deemed your teamwork sufficient, you shall begin your mission. Is that clear?"

Both straightened-up at the tone of the Hokage and nodded their affirmative to the commands given.

"Excellent," responded the Hokage authoritatively, "Now, there is the matter of Mitarashi Anko's death. I have already written a version of the story that shall satisfy anyone curious of the encounter and the mysteries behind it. It shall portray Mitarashi in a favorable light."

"Mitarashi Anko was paralyzed by Orochimaru's ninjutsu before you two dropped in to stop him. Both of you attempted to coordinate your attacks but your inexperience with teamwork and Orochimaru's overwhelming power caused you both to lose. Haku wished to stand his ground and fight. Mitarashi Anko placed him under a genjutsu from behind to push both of you out of harm's way and took the blow meant to kill both of you. Afterwards, she was forced to place Haku under a genjutsu once more to sign the Snake Contract so that Orochimaru wouldn't take full control of the snake summons. Once that was done, she died peacefully and Karin fell unconscious from chakra exhaustion leaving Haku – in his befuddled state of mind – to take you and Anko's remains to the hospital."

Karin nodded her acceptance to the fictitious story. Haku frowned in confusion at what was going on.

"But Hokage-sama," interrupted Haku hesitantly, "That's not what happened…"

In Haku's sluggish state of mind, he realized his mistake too late. Sarutobi leveled his gaze upon the young Hyouton user.

"Haku-san, understand this," said Sarutobi coolly, "Mitarashi Anko was hated by the majority of the village due to her connections with Orochimaru. If they were to hear that she died a pointless death then people would continue to scorn her name until she was a forgotten part of history."

"If we change certain elements of the story to make her seem like a heroic figure, then her memory shall be seen in a more positive light. She will be a tragic hero facing against a nefarious villain to save two unique Bloodlines that are currently held in high regard in the village. Creating a black and white, us versus them, type of storyline is what is most effective in a real-life controversial event. In this portrayal, which only leaves out a few minor details and adds a few better details, there will be more acceptances because it's what people want to hear."

Haku frowned at what the Hokage told him. He noticed Karin was staring expectantly at him too. Haku grudgingly couldn't deny that one little white lie could help Mitarashi's fallen image in the long run and the Hokage was most likely going to use this story to his political advantage to gain more Shinobi recruits for the military. Haku didn't care whether the story made him look incompetent or not. He couldn't help but think over Anko's death and accepting the Snake contract.

"I have no objections, sir," said Haku at once. He hid his internal bitterness over the decision.

'It's the right course of action to take,' thought Haku conflicted, 'I don't even understand why this is bothering me…'

Sarutobi made for the door but a call from Haku stopped him.

"Hokage-sama, wait!" said Haku agitated, the Hokage gave him a visage of impatience. "The Sand shinobi participating in the Chuunin exams; Naruto told me that the red-haired member of the group was a jinchuuriki."

The Hokage stared at him with a stunned gaze. Sarutobi hastily made a short nod before briskly walking out of the room and quietly shutting the door. He had more matters that required his attention. Foreign dignitaries and their lucrative contracts would be coming to Konoha soon. After that, he would need to strategize the defense plans against a possible invasion.

"About my secret," began Karin sighing softly, Haku's attention was drawn back to her, "It's about my bloodline. It's powerful. I can use and reshape matter around me into anything that my imagination wills it to but it has a few fatal flaws."

"The Kurama bloodline cannot create life like the Mokuton bloodline and it cannot use the body of a living person against themselves. Their clothes and weapons alleviate this problem usually. It takes a large surge of chakra to effectively use and maintain my genjutsu realities depending on the scope and scale of the attack. I could easily die from chakra exhaustion because of this. Lastly, the problem that caused me to lose consciousness…."

Karin began rubbing her head with her left hand as she tried to keep the emerging thoughts at bay. Karin lowered her face to look ahead of her to concentrate; she used the breathing technique to calm herself and then turned her attention back to Haku. Haku began remembering small portions of their conversation in the Forest of Death.

"I have a second personality…" revealed Karin quietly, Haku's eyes widened in surprise, "It's one of the reasons the Kurama bloodline went extinct years ago. Too many of its members suffered deaths because they couldn't manage to surpass the second personality. I found out in ancient journals written by members of the Namikaze clan."

"My mother doesn't know. No one in my clan knows. I've only told Sarutobi-sama when I began noticing that I lost track of where I was, lost track of how much time had passed by, and began having vivid dreams of my six year old self… blaming me…"

"Is there nothing that can be done about it?" asked Haku honestly, how could anyone effectively deal with an evil personality within them? "What could appease it?"

"It may decide to murder me," said Karin sullenly, Haku looked horrified. "I'm honestly not sure... it's a part of me. Do you know the psychological basics of the psyche? The ID, the ego, and the superego? This is basically my ID."

"People who have the Kurama bloodline must accept this representation of the ID – a truthful personal aspect of themselves that they either deny or have lost – to move forward and wield the Kurama bloodline with some unique personal power."

Haku thought over the information that he was just told. He recalled the conversation in which she had placed a firmly fake attitude to try to coax him into joining the Uzumaki clan. He could already guess what the ID wanted.

"The ancient Namikaze journals call it a shadow or the true self," elaborated Karin, Haku attentively remained quiet and listened, "All of these personal journals advise that I accept this aspect because it'll be an acceptance of something that is a deep part of my conscience."

"This isn't necessarily a good thing depending on what someone's core moral beliefs are. In ancient times, most of the Kurama nomads thrived because they accepted the love of killing for the thrill of battle."

"Why haven't you defeated your shadow yet?" asked Haku, "It seems like you know exactly what to do."

"Because it's not that easy," said Karin moving away from Haku's side of the bed, "And what the ID desires usually isn't so simple."

She got to the other side of the bed and swung her legs around to the floor. She stood up and walked toward the window to see the sunny skies of the village. Birds chirped in the distance and Haku noticed that Karin's gaze was fixed on the Hokage monument. He already knew which Hokage she had her gaze on.

Haku made sure not to let his eyes wander and brushed away the sexual thoughts assaulting his mind. Karin was an attractive young girl and currently only wore a knee-length hospital gown. Haku decided that he was just tired because of the lack of sleep and his thoughts were wandering as a result.

"My mother may seem like a total bitch because of what she's done," broke Karin after a few minutes of silence, Haku chose to simply observe, "But you have to understand the background that she came from to really understand her motivation. My mother is an ambitious woman. She's devoted her entire life to restoring the old clans of Kirigakura under the name Uzumaki."

"She witnessed her entire family slaughtered by the Bloodline purges. A whole province of towns within Kirigakura from where she lived as a young girl, the revolutionary troops under Yagiri Yagura raided every store, house, and took these people out of the streets to behead them after the Civil War of Fog was over. My mother lived in constant distress and danger for two weeks. She barely made it out to Konoha by sheer luck that she found a traveling cart to hide in and has spent her entire life in Konoha as a humanitarian activist to promote taking in refugees from Kirigakura. She made it her sole mission to bring them here, provide aid, and give shelter to them. When the Kyuubi threatened to wipe out Konoha, my father used Naruto as the container to seal the damned beast. My mother only found out the day after because she had fallen asleep after giving birth. I know that it's not fair to Naruto… I know that she acts like an irrational lunatic about the subject. But, God damn it, there's a real reason for it! What she saw as a young girl damaged her…"

"Why didn't she seek help?" questioned Haku, "Surely, psychiatry would have helped her overcome-"

Karin shook her head while still looking intently at the monument. Haku tiredly realized how foolish his question was. Virtually everyone in the village harbored a hatred for jinchuuriki and Uzumaki Kushina's pride as a Clan Head would have been shamed if word got out that she sought mental help.

"You could help me…" said Karin emphatically, turning around to gaze at Haku directly in the eyes, "If you truly wished – you could join the clan to help change it from within the current clan structure. The elder advisors of the clan are demanding that the clan retain a patriarchal system to restore old traditions. This would smooth its transition as a legitimate clan within Konoha and the international community."

"You're only two years older and already at jounin level like me. If you joined and showed promise as one of the Fire Daimyo's bodyguards, perhaps personally formed a type of cordial relationship with him, you could be a contender to become the new Clan Head within the coming years. You would replace Idate as the current chosen successor and become my fiancée. I would do all that was within my power to support you. Once you took leadership, we could change the interrelations of the Uzumaki clan so that Naruto would be accepted back in and no future generations would have to suffer like that ever again. We could change everything for the better!"

Haku considered it. He honestly considered the proposition given to him. There were merits to the plan.

'This honestly could help Naruto in the long run,' thought Haku speculatively, 'She's dropped the act and decided to be honest with me about it… but…'

"I'm sorry but I'll have to refuse your offer," said Haku shaking his head, Karin appeared crestfallen, "Assuming we were successful, it could help Naruto in the long run, but as of right now Naruto needs all the support from those around him."

"It was through him that I was given this opportunity to be part of Konohagakure. I'll aid him by being there next to him instead of making a gamble on a plan that has too many variables to work smoothly. Aside from that, I made a vow to my former mentor about living my own life. I cannot renounce that. I'm not exactly leadership material either."

Karin appeared devastated by his words. Haku wasn't sure if it was his refusal, something he had said in his answer, or perhaps both. Somehow, Karin was hurting inside because of his words. Karin quickly turned back to face the window so that she wouldn't be looking at Haku.

"This whole issue… what the ID wants and your plan," began Haku insightfully, "You want to be there for Naruto as a real sister. Leaving him behind hurt you too…"

"It's my fault that they abandoned him," said Karin sadly, Haku's eyes widened in shock and confusion. "I had graduated from the Shinobi academy within a mere year thanks to the strict training schedule that I had to follow. I had already made it to genin rank under the extra summer classes that my mother paid for. She had already set-up plans with the Daimyo for the clan to join as his palace guards. Everyone in the family was anxious to start living under better care so that we could have improved housing, medical supplies, foodstuffs, and the more greedy ones desired the luxury afforded to them."

"Naruto… nobody valued him. I only realized after he was left behind that the entire clan loathed him to an extent. His existence was a reminder of the hardships, the massacres, and the grief that the clan endured. Everyone in the clan had an irrational fear that letting him grow-up with knowledge of clan secrets or to grow up as a success of some form would bring forth an apocalyptic doom upon the clan. My brother was a very enthusiastic and naïve child. He didn't see or understand that the family he and I cherished so much thought he was just as much of a monster as the other villagers. My mother and the elders tried to hold back and be accepting of Naruto at first but… it became clear to me a few months after we became part of the Daimyo's palace that they had only held out for almost six years because they wanted to see if Naruto was of any value to them as a weapon. Once I started attaining success and he became overshadowed, they choose to drop him out of the clan altogether. I don't even understand why my mother still has him registered in the clan's name. I know for a fact that she doesn't love him."

"And what you desire is for the whole family to be back together?" questioned Haku cautiously, "Unless I misunderstood…"

"I want my twin brother back," answered Karin sniffling as she wiped the tears from her eyes, "A year later I had become chuunin, I decided to see how he was doing one day. The conditions that he lived in were deplorable. I saw the Hyuuga girl with him in a secluded pond area a few times. She encouraged him, she helped him, and I could only stare from far away… I had no place in his life anymore and I didn't deserve to be called his sister."

"I lied to myself. I would tell myself that I'd leave the bigots of the clan once I became jounin and help Naruto as a real family member should. Two years passed, I never did anything but watch from afar. I had become jounin and I continued to do nothing. It frustrated me how I could feel so depressed but still chose never to give him so much as a letter. I eventually stopped lying to myself and admitted the truth. I didn't want to live a harsher lifestyle where I had to take care of myself. I liked having a good meal, a warm bed, and furnished living conditions. I know that with my training as a kunoichi made that unnecessary but the fact was that I had a supportive family to fall back on if I was ever sick or injured. I didn't want to disappoint my mother either… I wanted her to remain proud of me and my accomplishments."

Haku realized a familiar similarity that Karin had with her twin brother. It was a stunted growth in maturity with a deep desire for the approval of a mother who simply lived far too cold-hearted a life to show genuine affection. The Uzumaki clan and particularly Uzumaki Kushina had damaged the two twelve year olds in a rather distressing fashion.

"The shadow sees me as a cage," continued Karin, Haku realized the tears were still cascading down her cheeks, "It loathes my life choices. It keeps pushing me to stand-up for myself and change the course of my life because I've felt so much guilt over what happened to Naruto. I never made it to special jounin because it started interfering with my missions to take control of my body and use genjutsu to observe what Naruto was doing from a distance. I tried to suppress it but it only became worse."

"I begged Sarutobi-sama for help and he helped manage to put me in low-key missions so that my problem wouldn't draw too much attention. I think he's at the limit of his patience now because it nearly cost you a normal life in Konoha. It was manageable two years ago and even last year but now it's become a detriment to my everyday life. It sees me as unworthy of being Naruto's sister and the more I fight my own beliefs of right and wrong… the more the shadow is inclined to simply kill me because I've become an accomplice to what I personally view as an evil system…"

"I'll assist you however I can," said Haku finally, Karin turned around with a tear-stained face. "But you should accept the shadow that you're fighting. I know it's hard but what's the worst that could happen?"

"I'm sure Naruto would accept you back."

"How can Naruto accept me when I can't even accept myself?" said Karin bitterly, her gaze drifted to the floor. Her palms clenched. "I wouldn't blame him for hating me and I honestly don't deserve his acceptance back. I chose to abandon him when I decided to do nothing when I finally had the means of changing my own life."

"I want him to be accepted back in the clan… that would make things right. The Uzumaki clan needs a strong leader in the future. My fiancée is strong for his age but he's only loyal to special privileges granted to him by the clan. He isn't true leadership material and I'm honestly not sure what will be expected of me once I'm married to him. He's grown-up under the deranged thinking that Naruto is a talentless failure who could transform into a ravenous monster that would attempt to slaughter the clan once he's older. It was only my inspection of what Naruto was doing for six years that kept me grounded on reality and I'm still reduced to a campaigner for the Uzumaki agenda in the public sphere. I had hoped that you would accept my offer so we could change the shape of the clan for both the clan's and Naruto's benefit but I can understand why you would be averse to joining. I promised myself to help Naruto when I was younger… but I guess I just couldn't find a way to fulfill that promise."

"I'll help you with containing your shadow problem," affirmed Haku carefully, "I won't accept the Uzumaki clan's proposal and I honestly have no interest in becoming a clan leader. I just want to live a normal life. I don't have any higher aspirations and I don't feel that I need them to be happy."

Karin nodded in acceptance to Haku's clarification. The two of them had just grown an understanding and a friendship.

Kiba excitedly ran in the hospital halls with Akamaru by his side. Kurenai shouted at him to slow down as she walked in a leisure pace with Shino toward Hinata's hospital room. A young nurse had surreptitiously informed Kurenai of Hinata's actual condition. Kurenai had made sure to wear a firm mask before turning to the two of them and directing them to Hinata's room number in the Bloodline medical ward.

Kiba excitedly burst through Hinata's door only to see something that made his elated heart plummet to his stomach. His gaze slowly grew livid as he watched them without announcing his presence. He dropped his gaze to the floor unable to keep his glare because he felt so much self-hatred.

There was Uzumaki Naruto sharing a chaste kiss with Hinata on the lips. Kurenai and Shino walked in to see the spectacle. Kurenai failed to hide her amused smirk and Shino took note of what he would have to report to his father so that he could tell the Hyuuga clan elders as per the agreement and Shino further took note of the fact that Hinata had purposefully planned this. The two broke the kiss.

"Hinata, I swear that I'll find a cure," said Naruto sincerely, he gently moved some of her bangs from her eyes, "That's a promise. I'll find a way to master that power if I have to."

"You will get through this. I'll do everything I can to make sure of it."

Naruto quickly took a cup by the bedside table and handed it to Hinata. Hinata coughed into it but her view was obscured by Naruto's back. Hinata made a toss to the other side of the bed where the cup hit the garbage bin on the opposing side. She turned back and shared a secure hug with Naruto for a few moments. Naruto whispered something in Hinata's ear. They broke apart and Naruto slowly turned around to walk away.

"Re- remember. our. agree-ement," forced out Hinata through a fit of coughs.

Naruto turned around briefly to give her a firm nod before turning back to give Squad Eight a firm nod too. After that, Naruto left through the door and shut it quietly behind him.

"What the hell was that?!" shouted Kiba sharply, he glared at Hinata accusingly. "He wasn't registered as a visitor of yours. We were the first ones to get here!"

"Kiba! Keep your voice down or I'll have the nurses escort you out!" threatened Kurenai displeased with his behavior, "I will not tolerate random outbursts like that in a hospital. Do I make myself clear?"

Kiba jammed his hands in his pockets and looked down on the floor in anger. He couldn't believe that he was being reprimanded over a legitimate question.

'Don't I have a right to know?' thought Kiba trying to rationalize his mistakes, 'I'm her teammate…'

Kurenai and Hinata began talking as Kiba continued to glare at the floor and Shino stood silently to observe. Kiba suddenly shot his head up before recoiling in pain. He rubbed neck with his left hand before rudely beginning to interrupt Kurenai and Hinata's conversation.

"Hinata, why're you so into that deadlast?" snarled Kiba angrily, "You deserve better. You're the Hyuuga heiress. What the hell does he have that… that others don't have?"

"Deadlast?" piqued Hinata airily; she gave a condescending gaze towards Kiba. "As I recall, he defeated a member of the esteemed Uzumaki clan on his own just as I did. Not only did you fail to do that in the Forest of Death but you lucked out by not being required to fight in the preliminary rounds of the Chuunin exams at all. Naruto-kun informed me of what happened after I was sent to the hospital."

"From what I have observed, you're the weakest link in the finals for the Chuunin exams. You have no right to start speaking as if you have some prestigious accomplishment above him. You don't. You never did and I'm certain that you never will. He is going to be facing the chosen successor of the Uzumaki clan. If you ever had the misfortune of fighting against someone of that caliber then you would surely lose. All you are Kiba is a boastful and arrogant fool."

Kiba flinched as he felt deeply hurt by Hinata's speech about his abilities. Not wanting his crush to see him cry, he turned around and ran out the doorway. A footfall of steps was in hot pursuit of him. Kiba rounded out the door before a firm hand gripped his shoulder. The door to Hinata's room closed softly as Kiba turned around to face his sensei.

"Kurenai-sensei… why?" bit out Kiba stupidly, his cheeks began to tear-up as he looked at the floor defeated, "Why doesn't she feel the same way about me like I do her? I try my best to impress her, I try to get her to talk to me, and I help her in missions all the time but she doesn't give me the time of day like she does him."

"Kiba…" began Kurenai slowly, she had to choose her words carefully, "What happened in the Forest to cause a rift between you two? I knew something was up but I couldn't voice it in public in front of everyone."

"Tell me what's wrong; you were avoiding Hinata and Shino like the plague until after Hinata's match."

"Well, I…" Kiba stopped speaking. He felt confused and angry with Hinata. Slowly, he tried to calm himself enough to recount his tale.


Kiba slowly regained consciousness as he found himself being levitated a few feet from the ground by kikachu bugs. He screamed in surprise due to his grogginess and caused the insects to panic. They promptly dropped Kiba onto the floor and returned inside Shino's body.

"Kiba, please remember that my insects are there to help," stated Shino flatly, he turned around to gaze at the boy slowly rising up to his feet, "They are just as much your teammates as you and I are teammates. They do not need to be feared."

"Yeah, yeah," said Kiba annoyed as he brushed dust off of himself, Akamaru ran to Kiba's feet yipping happily, "Glad to see you're alright Akamaru."

Kiba affectionately knelt down to pet Akamaru's head. Shino turned around and walked in a quicker pace out of minor annoyance. Hinata was ahead of both with her Byakugan active to watch out for enemies. They had decided to stick to the ground to better avoid enemies atop trees because of Kiba being unconscious. They had left the battle against Team Uzumaki and the Sound shinobi hours ago.

Kiba ran up past Shino so that he would be behind Hinata. He demanded questions answered. Akamaru had just told him that they had left the earth scroll for Squad Seven and Squad Ten to squabble over. Kiba felt they should have taken the scroll. It was the one they needed.

"Yo, Hinata!" bellowed Kiba angrily, Hinata sighed in exasperation before turning around to speak with her teammate, "What the hell was that back during the battle? Why did you leave the earth scroll for them?"

"We'll be able to find another earth scroll easily, Kiba," stated Hinata matter-of-factly, "There isn't any need to worry about not making the journey within the deadline. We're a scouting team. We can easily conquer in this terrain and strike at another team to get their scroll."

"That's not what I meant!" shouted Kiba incensed, "Why the hell did we waste our time with helping those others? What was the point if we didn't get the earth scroll out of it?"

"Why the hell did you have us go fight them in the first place? You're the leader of this group but you're acting like those other two teams are more important than us!"

"No, I am not," said Hinata icily, she was offended that he was questioning her leadership capabilities, "I simply didn't want our fellow Konoha shinobi from the academy to be murdered so barbarically. That's all."

"Bullshit!" snarled Kiba, he was losing his patience with her fake answers, "All that happened, making us fight those two teams, it was all about that deadlast Naruto!"

Hinata paused and gave Kiba a severe glare. She would remind Kiba not to overstep his boundaries and undermine her authority.

Shino remained quiet to watch the drama unfold. He was ordered to keep tabs on Hinata by his father. The Hyuuga clan was one of the biggest backers in farmlands used to birth kikaichu insects for his clan. The Aburame clan were leased those vital property contracts from the Hyuuga who had owned and profited off of them since their settlement within Konoha under the Shodaime.

"Watch your tongue," said Hinata sharply, "Don't go around making false accusations out of this masculine sense of jealousy."

"False accusations?" said Kiba laughing in anger, "My clan's chakra sensing allows me to identify people by scent. I was able to smell him on your shirt and lips since we became a team. What the hell do you see in him anyway?"

Hinata glared hatefully at Kiba. She balled her firsts in anger and her palms shook. She wanted to make the stupid mutt shut up. She was well aware that Shino was a spy for the Hyuuga elders. Kiba was ruining everything. All her careful planning would become naught.

"Well, are you going to answer me?" said Kiba, he folded his arms, "I think I have a right to know since I'm your teammate and all-"

Hinata slammed a palm on his folded forearms, the blow blasted him backwards, and caused him to slam onto a tree. Akamaru yelped in anger. Hinata swiftly walked over to Kiba, grabbed the collar of his jacket, and powerfully hoisted him up in the air.

"One word," hissed Hinata agitated, her active Byakugan staring at him in revulsion. "One more word about that and I'll make sure you and your clan of bitches suffer miserably, understand?"

Kiba was shocked and angered by this display but he found that he couldn't break free from Hinata's grip. She had used a paralysis jutsu on him without any handseals. It proved she was leagues above his level.

"You have no right to know fuck all about my private life, Inuzaka," said Hinata in anger, "And quite frankly, I find it pathetic that you still pine over me when I've made it abundantly clear that I shall not reciprocate those feelings."

"Find someone else, I tried to be nice but I'll let you know now. I don't give a shit about you. You are not my friend and you are not my comrade; you are an annoyance. Don't ever speak to me again outside of Squad events that we must participate in."

She dropped him on his ass, turned around, and marched onward. Shino watched silently as Kiba's facial features slowly went through the emotional patterns of what was commonly labeled as heartbreak.

Kiba's tears fell freely once he finished recanting his tale.

"I don't understand it…" said Kiba, he looked up to his sensei, "Kurenai-sensei, how can I show her that I love her? How can I fix this?"

Kurenai hesitantly sighed as she put a comforting hand on Kiba's right shoulder. She needed him to recognize the truth and move forward. This pining for Hinata had led to a dysfunctional teamwork, a wedge amongst comrades, and she needed to set things straight before something detrimental happened during a serious mission.

"Kiba, you need to move past these feelings for Hinata," said Kurenai gently, she needed him to understand this. "I'll speak to her and have her apologize for her untoward comments about you. However, this desire for Hinata's affections has to stop."

"She doesn't feel the same way about you and you can't force her to change how she feels. She and Naruto have been close for six years-"

"What? What do you mean?" said Kiba in surprised confusion, "Did she tell you that? Why would she-"

"No, Kiba, I know this because I was charged with watching them for their safety," said Kurenai calmly, "When I was still a chuunin, I watched over them for almost six years. You need to understand that Hinata feels deeply about Naruto and respect her feelings-"

"You knew!" cried Kiba in a stricken tone, he had cut off Kurenai's speech in his anguish. "You knew the whole time? You watched them?!"

"Kiba, listen!" bit out Kurenai firmly, she needed him to understand and move on. "You have to put these feelings behind you. It can be tough but there are plenty of girls out there and you can't just keep losing focus on your shinobi training like this to try and 'win over' Hinata."

"At some point, you need to understand this behavior is unhealthy and find someone who accepts you. Hinata is not that person and you can't force-"

"No!" snapped Kiba frantically, he shook his head as he began backing away from Kurenai with a visage of betrayal. "You just don't understand! I'll prove it!"

"Hinata will accept me one day! I have to keep trying! I'll prove that I love her and then she'll see me as worthy of her. I love her and nothing is going to change that!"

Kiba turned around and ran off. Kurenai voiced at him to stop as a nurse saw him and angrily yelled at him to leave the premises. The hospital was very strict with its 'no running' policy because of the possible emergency shinobi patients they could gain.

Kurenai cursed aloud at failing to have handled that better. She hoped that Kiba would learn to let go on his own. If not, the consequences could be dire. She understood that Kiba had felt betrayed once she had come clean about having supervised Hinata's meetings with Naruto as children.

Kiba had confided in her about feeling depressed over being rejected by Hinata, spoke of how he always saw Hinata in other women wherever he went, and how he could barely spend time alone without thinking about her. Kurenai had tried to teach Kiba that he was simply idolizing Hinata and not actually seeing the girl's human flaws but he refused to listen. Now, Kurenai had the more important issue of Hinata's imminent death. Kiba would just have to sort out his feelings on his own. She had already done the best that she could do.

She opened to door to Hinata's room only to have Akamaru jump out and run after Kiba. Kurenai shook her head bemused.

'Maybe things will work themselves out,' thought Kurenai trying to remain positive, she walked into Hinata's room. 'I need to keep a strong face for her sake. Oh God, please have mercy on her…'

'Naruto, I hope you find a cure or solution soon…'

Kurenai decided that after this visit, she would go to the closest Fire sanctuary in the village to pray for Hinata's wellbeing.

"Damn it…!" hissed Shikamaru gritting his teeth in pain, "How do I get myself into these situations?"

He had just stopped Gaara from attempting to kill Rock Lee in the hospital. Unfortunately, he knew that he wouldn't be able to hold Gaara for long without suffering from chakra exhaustion. He couldn't even put enough willpower to have Gaara move away from Rock Lee. Not to mention the fact that Gaara's sand was still free to strike at him and potentially kill him.

"By being a fool," said Gaara in a deathly voice, "I'm going to kill you and then I'm going to kill him. All you've accomplished is becoming an unnecessary victim."

"Y-you can't attack the shinobi of another nation!" shouted Shikamaru desperately, "Especially not in a hospital! That could be considered an act of war!"

"Who will stop me?" countered Gaara snorting in disdain, "You are far too weak to hold this jutsu for longer than a minute against me."

Gaara wasn't bluffing. He was pointing out the cold-hard facts. Shikamaru couldn't hold the jutsu for much longer and they both knew it. Gaara could have simply killed him right there but had chosen to abstain on a whim. His curiosity was piqued and he wished to observe what his quarry would do. It made the murder that much more fun.

"Why do you want to kill him so badly?!" cried Shikamaru in frustration, he desperately clung to his jutsu even as the last of his reserves were drained. Chakra exhaustion would set in soon. "He's not even part of a prominent family bloodline! He's just a shinobi with a chakra handicap!"

"It's what I was born to do. Why else?" replied Gaara bluntly, he considered this discourse pointless. "It's my sole purpose in life. It's the only reason that people acknowledge my existence."

"You take your shinobi guidelines too seriously!" yelled Shikamaru, he was forced to let go of his hold on Gaara or else he would die of chakra exhaustion. "Shit!"

"You think this is about following a shinobi code?" said Gaara in faint amusement, Shikamaru felt a venomous chakra overtake Gaara's body. "Do you know what jinchuuriki are?"

Shikamaru paled in abject fear. He did know what a jinchuuriki was because he had read about them. His eyes widened as he realized what a blunder he had made by deciding to help Rock Lee out of kindness. He needed to get the hell out of here!

"You will not get away," muttered Gaara darkly, bits of sand poured from his gourd and started covering the right side of his face in a monstrous mask. The demonic chakra of Shukaku could be felt by anyone in close proximity of the hospital room. "I'm not stupid enough to leave witnesses."

The sand erupted from Gaara's gourd and launched at Shikamaru in a rush. Shikamaru was too fearful to cry for help as he watched the sand come toward him at a pace too fast for him to escape. Shikamaru closed his eyes. An abrupt boom sound emanated in front of him. Shikamaru reopened his eyes.

Uzumaki Naruto stood in front of him. His blue chakra was radiating dangerously. Naruto had used his burst of chakra to blast away Gaara's sand attack. Naruto glared at Gaara in contempt. Gaara gave a menacing gaze right back. The dark eye of Shukaku was visible for them to see.

"Oh thank God, Naru-" Shikamaru's words died at his throat once he heard their argument.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" snarled Naruto angrily, chakra exploded from Naruto's body and began radiating a darker blue. "Was beating the crap out of him in the preliminary matches not enough? You have to cowardly attack him in a hospital bed too?!"

"Cowardice and bravery don't exist in a struggle for survival," said Gaara piercingly, the dark visage of the Shukaku obscured the right side of his face completely. "You, being a jinchuuriki, should know that as a fact of life."

"I intend to kill you. Mother has been screaming in my head about eviscerating you when I first saw you protect that child from Kankuro. I shall spill your blood for her to enjoy!"

"You don't have the right to kill innocent people as you please!" rebuked Naruto, he glared at Gaara livid. His dark blue chakra immediately changed to a demonic red hue. The venomous demonic chakra had manifested itself from both jinchuuriki. "If you want to kill all three of us here…"

"I fucking dare you to take me on first!"

Naruto closed his eyes and reopened them to reveal the Rinnegan. Gaara's demonic dark eye glared back at the dark purplish eyes of God. Naruto's demonic red chakra flowed outward from his body like fire as Gaara's sand started to swirl in a circular motion in preparation for a fight between demon holders.

"Why would you risk your own life to protect people that wish to destroy you?!" spat Gaara, he gave Naruto a disgusted look. "We are created as living weapons of war to perpetuate malady and massacres upon others. We're pawns created to kill anything within our path. That is the sole reason we are created by them and it is the same excuse they use to discriminate against us."

"My village placed a demon inside of me for their own self-interests. My father, the Yondaime Kazekage, hoped to use me as a means of gaining better contracts for Sunagakure or to use me as a means of overthrowing the Daimyo since our Daimyo outsourced all contracts to other nations. My mother hated the fact that my father used her as a sacrifice to create a monster child like me. As she died, she decried me as born of evil and hoped that I would be her vengeance upon the world that had wronged her by betrothing her in an arranged marriage to a self-serving bastard."

Shikamaru gazed at Gaara in disgust as Naruto had a mixed visage of anger and sympathy. He knew what it was like. It still didn't give Gaara the right to commit wanton murder. Naruto's red chakra flared.

"It's the same for you too, isn't it? Don't deny it. We are very much alike. We're living proof that family is just a name given to people that happened to be born out of each other. The sentiment has no real value. We can't strive to make personal lives of our own because we are viewed as sinful beings. People will always hate and fear us. My own 'family' are little more than strangers that I work with. They avoid, hate, and fear me as the rest of my village. Villages create us to do their bidding, shun us when they wish, and attempt to kill us because our mere existence is a problem for them. The irony being that they created us to be efficient mass murderers to begin with. Not even the eyes of God can spare you from such a hypocritical system of judgment. People only want to manipulate us for our powers. Thus, the only reason I have for living is to be a useful mass murderer. It is an expectation that society demands of me."

"You're right," replied Naruto resolutely, Shikamaru gaped at Naruto in a mixture of fear and shock. "We live with the same stigma. Being a psychopathic killer is what society demands of us. But I don't think you're being completely honest with yourself…"

"I remained in my village to prove that I wasn't a monster and that jinchuuriki can be good people. I know you hate what your village has done to you. So, why didn't you just leave? Why didn't you seek a new purpose in life? Why did you continue to live in such horrible conditions unless you wanted their approval and acceptance just like I do?"

"Approval?!" snarled Gaara in revulsion, his dark eye glistened dangerously. Naruto's darker Rinnegan held his glare right back. "What a stupid argument!"

"Where would I go? All other of the Five Great Villages have either intolerance for jinchuuriki's that are equally as bad or are entirely unsecure to live within. My name would have been on the bingo book immediately with a reward out so that Sunagakure could retain the Shukaku to try for a fourth child to sacrifice into becoming a living monster. There is no way out of this lifestyle decided for us at birth. If there was then why hasn't such a feat been accomplished beforehand? The truth is that we only exist to embody the devils within us. We have no real choices in life and it is far worse than that of the slave labor because many feel sympathy for slaves like that Hyuuga but none for us. To prove my existence by murdering others is the only freedom I have!"

"Leave," demanded Naruto, he didn't want to acknowledge the truth of Gaara's words. "Leave now, I'll fight you during the Chuunin Exam finals. We'll see which one of us will kill the other there."

'And the two here won't be at jeopardy,' thought Naruto.

"You are an even bigger fool than that weakling!" said Gaara calculatingly, "People shall never see jinchuuriki as anything more than either as useful killers or psychopathic monsters."

Gaara's demonic chakra swirled around him as the sand obscured him in a cocoon before he slowly disappeared from view. Gaara had used the Suna styled shunshin no jutsu to leave. Naruto closed his eyes to deactivate his Rinnegan.

Suddenly, a squad of ANBU appeared at the scene via smoke shunshin. Naruto turned around to find a long purple-haired ANBU with a sword poised at his throat. He knew that one wrong move would give the ANBU the excuse that she needed to behead him right there. The smoke screen vanished to reveal the other ANBU protectively surrounded Shikamaru and Rock Lee.

"We heard reports of a vile chakra disturbance in the hospital," spoke the strong feminine voice threateningly, "Lower your chakra, monster."

Naruto closed his eyes and lowered his overflowing demonic red chakra so that it dissipated completely. He slowly made his way to the door. The ANBU tensed on edge as if waiting for Naruto to snap and attack them. Naruto quietly went through the door and left. He didn't glance toward Shikamaru's direction as he made his leave. He didn't wish to give them an excuse to put him in prison. He had chosen instead to leave quickly.

"Alright, that's enough. He didn't attack." addressed one of the male ANBU, Shikamaru noticed that he had ANBU captain attire on. "Nara Shikamaru, correct? Please come with me. I need a statement about what exactly transpired here."

"Yugao, take the team back to your original posts outside the hospital. Be sure to monitor the Uzumaki boy in case he acts up again."

The ANBU disappeared via shunshin to do as their captain ordered. Shikamaru was taken to a private ANBU investigation room within the hospital where he told the ANBU Captain, who identified himself as Tenzo Yamato, what he had seen. Yamato had shaken his head at the details and how badly they had misjudged the situation. He had simply made sure Naruto had left the hospital and had him monitored from afar. The other Jinchuuriki would need to be watched carefully as well.

After Shikamaru was informed that he was free to leave, he trekked back home thinking over what happened at the hospital. Once Shikamaru finally arrived to his house, he searched for his father and found him in the study. It appeared that his father was going through military strategies of some form.

Shikamaru made sure to knock before his father beckoned him inside the miniature library. He had seen his father earlier and had been congratulated on making it to the chuunin exams. His mother was out grocery shopping to celebrate the event. Shikamaru had gone to the hospital initially to visit Chouji and had come by Gaara attempting to kill Rock Lee in the hospital room nearby.

"Dad," began Shikamaru hesitantly, his father gave him a comforting gaze to urge him to continue with his question. "Did you know that Uzumaki Naruto was a jinchuuriki? I… happened to find out today."

His father stood up straighter and seemed pensive before nodding his affirmative.

"What happened?" demanded his father firmly.

Shikamaru launched into an explanation of what happened at the hospital. Shikaku patiently listened to his son and his face scrunched in anger at Shikamaru recounting the tale. His son had been in danger from two jinchuuriki's.

"Why did you ignore him like all the others?" Shikamaru had to ask, "You're one of the most intelligent people in the village, Dad. You know better than the other villagers…"

"What are you talking about?" said Shikaku annoyed, his son must have suffered from a combination of chakra exhaustion and being near such vile chakra. "That boy is nothing more than a war weapon meant to slaughter!"

"A living sin such as that should be locked-up like the rabid animal it is to make sure innocent people won't be harmed from its blood-thirsty habits. I've always denounced Hokage-sama's soft-hearted decision to have that thing be given a normal life."

Shikamaru nodded at once and told his father that he was going to go to the kitchen to wait for his mother to come home with the groceries. His father bid him leave and told him to keep safely away from the demon spawns and not to discuss this conversation with anyone his age because of the Hokage's unwritten law. Shikamaru affirmed that the ANBU captain had already told him.

Shikamaru left his father's study having just learned an invaluable life lesson. Even the most intelligent people in the village like his father, a man known as one of the great geniuses of Konoha for his successful military strategies and a complimentary personal performance record, could harbor horribly ignorant social prejudices like the much less educated villagers.