Come Full Circle
by: knuckz

Summary: Ninjas use taijutsu to beat their opponents down, genjutsu to disillusion them, ninjutsu to destroy them or heal them, and weaponry for quick kills. Some specialize in specific areas, and exceed in that talent, while others keep a general base in all aspects. As such, there are general ninja's and nin-, tai-, and genjutsu masters respectively. This was before Uzumaki Naruto became a ninja. For the first time, there will be a fuuinjutsu specialist.

"blah" – talking

'blah' – thinking

This chapter is currently unbeta'd. This message will be removed once it has been.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This new chapter is accompanied with the ENTIRE rewrite all done. So basically, I went over every single chapter that came before this and tweaked them, some small and some large tweaks. I'd recommend going back and rereading, though nothing too major was done. The plot is mainly the same.

Chapter 08 – The Rising Water – Commencing

"Rise and shine!"

Naruto slowly opened his eyes, squinting at the sunlight peeking through the nearby window. Blinking away the sleep, he noticed a face hovering above his own, a pair of orange eyes staring into his own blue.


Naruto fumbled under his covers at the proximity of the girl above him, causing Fuu, who had been leaning on top of him, to fall forward. Her forehead smacked straight onto his, causing both to groan in pain as Fuu rolled off of him.

"Ow!" Fuu whimpered in pain, clutching her forehead, "Why'd you go and do that for?"

Beside her, Naruto was in a similar state.

"Why the hell were you leaning in so close!" he shot back.

"I was trying to wake you up!" Fuu threw back. Naruto gently pressed his palm against his aching forehead.

"Well, why didn't you just poke me with a stick or something!" he retorted.

"Well, why did you decide to sleep for so long!" Fuu replied, slowly pushing off the ground. Naruto stopped groaning at Fuu's question.

"Wait. What time is it?" Naruto asked, but his question was answered when he caught sight of the clock on the wall. He suddenly shot up, ignoring the pain in his forehead which was already ebbing away.

"Holy crap! I have to go find my team!" Naruto exclaimed, scrambling to get ready. He grabbed the scroll sitting on the coffee table and sprinted to the bathroom to quickly wash up.

"I'll come with!" Fuu yelled through the door.

The green-haired girl had already changed out of sleepwear into her regular shinobi outfit while the blond Konoha nin was still asleep. She slipped on her sandals and patiently waited for Naruto to finish getting ready. She wasn't kept waiting long, as Naruto soon darted out of the bathroom and straight to the front door. He quickly slipped on his own sandals and stepped outside, running in place, waiting for Fuu to lock up.

After she finished locking up, he darted away towards the lake where his team was most likely waiting, Fuu hot on his steps.

"Any sign of Naruto?"

Hikari shook her head. Her blond teammate had yet to show up, and the beginnings of worry began to settle on her shoulders. Naruto knew how to take care of himself, but that didn't prevent her from worrying a little bit. In any case, Hikari kept a level head on her shoulders; the same couldn't be said about her companions.

Aoi paced back and forth, muttering under her breath, while Akane sat near the lake, most likely thinking up nonsensical situations for the blond to be in. Hikari expected this of Akane, who was prone to worry over anything, but she had expected better of their sensei who was supposed to be a jounin. But those expectations soon died when she heard exactly what Aoi was muttering under her breath.

"... didn't I take my chance! These foreign floozies probably already corrupted him by now! He's going to get a piece of my mind when..."

Hikari sighed. Sometimes, Aoi was bit too much.


Hikari, Akane, and Aoi looked over at the source of the noise only to see Naruto running towards them with a Taki kunoichi (the same one they had seen earlier) hot on his trail. He skidded to a stop in front of them, huffing from his run. The Taki genin slowed to a stop as well, oddly unaffected by her run.

"Oi, Naruto, where were you!" Akane asked, stepping forward angrily, "I thought that you'd been dragged under the lake by some weird fish-people or something!"

"Let him catch his breath, Akane." Hikari said.

"Fish-people in the lake?" Fuu spoke up, looking intrigued, but Naruto cut into the conversation before Akane could do any more damage.

"No, no! Akane-chan's just joking!" Naruto quickly told Fuu, before turning to his teammates to explain his absence, "Sorry about that. Fuu here let me stay in her place overnight. She wouldn't take no for an answer."

Aoi glared at him.

"So, you reject me every time, but the first foreign kunoichi that asks, and you say yes!" she said, "Naruto! I'm wounded!"

"Are you Aoi-sensei?" Fuu suddenly spoke up, looking at the Aoi in something akin to admiration. Aoi looked at the girl, all anger immediately forgotten.

"Yep. Who's asking?"

"Wow... I'm- I'm Fuu! Naruto's told me about you!" Fuu said, bowing reverently. Aoi looked pleased at the respect the Waterfall genin was showing her.

"Oh really?" Aoi asked, smiling slightly.

"Yeah! You're way cooler than what he told me!" Fuu said, as if disbelieving that she was actually talking to Aoi. Hikari shot Naruto a disbelieving look, at which Naruto pulled a face and shook his head.

He hadn't been complimenting Aoi to Fuu; he had been complaining about her.

"Yes... I am pretty cool, aren't I?" Aoi said, grinning.

"Super cool!" Fuu replied, grinning back. Akane joined Naruto and Hikari at the side and the three watched the spectacle in front of them.

"You know," Hikari said, "I'd never thought I'd see the day where someone thought Aoi was cool."

Naruto just shook his head.

"That's because Fuu is a total dork." he replied, watching Fuu and Aoi rattle on. At his comment, both Hikari and Akane looked at Naruto expectantly.

"I met her inside a ramen stand, sitting alone. I guess... she just reminded me of me, when I was younger." Naruto told them. Akane and Hikari eyed the blond for a moment, before nodding silently. It was only for a brief moment, but even in that miniscule amount of time an understanding had passed through the three teammates.

Aoi and Fuu joined the three genin soon after.

"Alright you three. Fuu-chan explained what happened yesterday, so I decided that she's going to join us today." Aoi told them. The three genin nodded in assent, having no problem with it. Akane, the most trusting of the lot, was the first to go over and engage the equally trusting Fuu in conversation.

"Naruto." Aoi said, adopting a serious tone, "I need to talk to you alone."

Naruto nodded briskly, and Hikari silently went over to engage Fuu in conversation as well. Aoi led Naruto away from the three conversing girls.

"Sorry about last night, sensei. It's just-" Naruto began, but Aoi cut him off.

"Don't worry about that. It's something else." Aoi said, speaking quietly, "There's something going in Taki."

Naruto frowned slightly.


"The information that Taki requested had to do with a rumour of a sighting of a Taki missing-nin." Aoi whispered to the blond, "And just last night, there was evidence of an intruder here in Taki. I noticed it with my Byakugan."

Naruto's eyebrows furrowed, as he went over the information in his head.

"Do you think it was the missing-nin?" he asked quietly. Aoi shook her head.

"I doubt it. The ninja in question would be long dead by now. Takigakure is investigating why these rumours are floating around." Aoi explained, "But there seems to be something going on behind the scenes."

"What do you think is happening?" Naruto asked.

"I'm not sure." Aoi said, looking over the lake, "I've been feeling a bit uneasy about this situation. Just be sure to keep an eye and ear open. And look after your teammates; in fact, you should probably keep an eye over that Taki kunoichi as well."

Naruto nodded in assent.

"Got it." he replied. Aoi bit her lip, still thinking.

"This is a bad situation for everyone, especially with the presence of foreign... nin..." Aoi started, trailing off as a thought struck her. Over by the lake, Akane, Hikari, and Fuu were all laughing over something Fuu had said. Naruto tore his eyes away from them to look at Aoi.

"Sensei?" Naruto asked. Aoi turned towards him and put her hands on his shoulders.

"Naruto, I need your mind. This obviously has something to do with all the foreign nin that have gathered." Aoi said, "Rarely do so many villages simultaneously gather together. Let's say that someone is planning something. What could it be?"

Naruto bit his bottom lip in thought.

"Taki requested the information because of rumours about a thought-dead missing-nin." he said, "We can start off with that."

Aoi nodded.

"Maybe that missing-nin isn't dead?" Naruto suggested. Aoi slowly shook her head.

"He'd be over a hundred years old today. Even the healthiest person rarely lives that long. Missing-nin usually live in constant fear of being hunted; no ninja can possibly live that long." Aoi replied, shooting down Naruto's suggestion.

Back with his teammates, Fuu erupted in another bout of laughter at something Akane had said. Naruto found himself longing to be with them, but he ignored that feeling. There were more important things to worry about, especially if what Aoi was thinking was true.

"Maybe it has less to do with that missing-nin and more to do with the information each village has on him." Naruto said, "Taki would have access to information from so many different sources."

Aoi narrowed her eyes, going over what Naruto had just said.

"If all that information pointed towards a certain direction..." she said slowly. Naruto nodded. It seemed plausible.

"It means that someone doesn't want that information to be discovered." Naruto said, "And because Taki has received the information from all the sources, it means that most of the scrolls containing that information are in one place."

"So someone can attack and wipe out all of that information at once." Aoi concluded. Naruto nodded in acquiesce.

"It must be something important, something that might pose a threat to Taki, if not all the involved villages." Naruto said, "If the information was discovered, then all our villages might have reason to pursue whatever we discovered from that information."

"So, if there really is someone planning to attack, then they'll do it soon." Aoi said.

"They'd have to attack before the information can be decoded. So as soon the last scroll has been delivered, they'll attack." Naruto said, nervously swallowing. If this turned out to be true, then Taki might soon become a battlefield. Aoi narrowed her eyes.

"We were the last team, I believe." Aoi said. Naruto shook his head in disbelief.

"Taki has never been invaded." he whispered furiously, remembering Hikari's words, "Even if something were to happen, it would surely fail."

"Except they're not trying to take over Taki." Aoi retorted, "Their only aim is to destroy those scrolls; they'll be able to move quickly."

"Then..." Naruto spoke up, looking around wildly, "we have to warn-"

And just like that, an explosion erupted somewhere inside the village, attracting the attention of Team Nine as well as Fuu. All five shinobi looked at the rising smoke in shock.

'Damn! Could this be...?' Naruto thought furiously. Aoi was the first to snap out of her shock, immediately taking command.

"Everybody here! You as well, Fuu!" Aoi ordered. Nobody dared disobeyed her, so Akane, Hikari, and Fuu all ran over to both Naruto and Aoi. Just then, a second explosion erupted elsewhere in the village.

"Shit!" Aoi swore, glancing at the smoke rising from there as well. She ignored the screams of fear arising from the village to look at her team plus the Waterfall addition. It was obvious that this was an attack. It seemed that she and Naruto's predictions had come true, sooner than either of them had thought.

It was then that Fuu suddenly decided to run towards the second explosion, no one reacting fast enough to stop her.

"Damn it, Fuu!" Naruto swore, taking off after the Waterfall kunoichi.

"Naruto!" Aoi shouted after him, "Shit!"

But as she was about to run after him, another explosion erupted once more, this time visibly close to them. Aoi stared in the direction in which the two genin had run.

Should she really just let him go? There was no doubt that the blond would face a great amount of danger, but of her three genin, he was the most resourceful. He knew how to take care of himself, but she still wanted to be there to protect him. Aoi didn't understand why she didn't take off after him, why she was still hesitating. The pressure of the situation was bearing on her, and despite all the misgivings she felt, she let him go.

"You two are with me." Aoi instructed, turning to the two remaining genin, but she couldn't help but think she was making a mistake by not going after the blond.

'Stay safe.' she prayed. Then she motioned to Akane and Hikari to follow her.

The three sprinted into the devastation, unknowing of the dangers awaiting them.

'This is insane!' Koiga swore. He moved about quickly, first priority being to get the non-shinobi citizens to safety. All around him, people ran around in panic; nobody knew who was attacking.

'To do this in broad daylight... just out of the blue...' Koiga thought, directing citizens towards the nearest safe-house, 'It was totally unexpected!'

Around him, his fellow Waterfall nin succeeded in clearing out the majority of the villagers away from the danger zone. Despite being a small ninja village, Takigakure was still as efficient as one of the major hidden villages; a feat they were quite proud of.

Leaving his job to the nearby chuunin and genin, Koiga cautiously approached the source of the explosion. Whoever dared to do this was surely confident in their abilities, and in case they decided to stick around, caution was a necessary precaution.

Just then, Koiga noticed flashes of orange and green run past him, straight to cause of all the commotion. He was startled to see that it was the Konoha genin and his own student, Fuu.

'Damn it! Fuu, you idiot! Don't go running into danger!' Koiga swore once again, but another explosion erupted, this time on the lake, sending water flying everywhere. Koiga glanced back over the water, swearing like a sailor.

That attack had been closer to Taki's main base of operation, and he knew that his newest priority was to get there immediately. The most likely scenario was that somebody was after the scrolls recently delivered by the various Hidden Villages; the timing of the attack was too convenient.

'We have to protect that information!'

The jounin cast a glance at the direction that his student had run to, worried for her safety. But he knew what he had to do.

'You damned girl! You better not die!' Koiga thought, before leaping away towards the lake.

Fuu ran towards the explosion, ignoring the horror rising in her chest at the thought that somebody was attacking her village. Her home.

Fuu had been a genin for only a little over three months, same as Naruto, but she had still seen her fair share of skirmishes. Growing up in Waterfall, Fuu had often picked fights with people just to have some to pass the time with. The green-haired girl had always been more agile then her fellow nin, so she had often ended up winning, which had somewhat alienated her from the other citizens.

Not that she hadn't already been alienated enough.

Fuu had been told at an earlier age about her true status in Takigakure; she was the container of the seven-tailed horned beetle. She had been told once, and since then hadn't really given it much thought; it really didn't matter. Taki hadn't really been all that discriminatory because of it. A lot of people did go out of their way to avoid her, but Fuu knew that it was because the citizens of Taki were all just a bunch of 'pansies', as she called them. They wanted a quiet life, not a life of daring adventure that Fuu would be sure to incite. Taki was a quiet place, and she often found it boring.

But that didn't mean that Fuu didn't love her village. Regardless of how boring she found life in Taki to be, it was her birthplace and it was her home. Her comrades, and even her parents had died fighting to protect it, and Fuu would make them proud by not letting their sacrifices be in vain.

Fuu suddenly stopped, right at the edge of the explosion area, allowing Naruto to catch up to the girl. Smoke was still rising from the small crater that the explosion had caused, and the two genin could make out a figure behind the smoke.

"Fuu." Naruto said, taking deep breaths, eying the figure behind the smoke, "Don't just take off like that."

Once the smoke had cleared, Naruto saw a chilling sight. A redheaded boy stood stoically in the middle, a large gourd strapped to his back. He was looming down upon a Takigakure ninja, who lay at the redhead's feet, broken and bleeding. Just then, the sand on the ground leapt up as if by magic and wrapped around the Waterfall ninja, completely covering him. Naruto watched the scene unfold with narrowed eyes.

'What is this technique?' he thought, noticing the Suna hitai-ate on the redheaded boy, 'Sand... it must be his.'

The two petrified genin watched the redhead raise his hand and close it into a fist; the sand suddenly compressed, crushing the helpless Takigakure ninja trapped inside, sending his blood flying everywhere. Naruto's eyes widened at the cruel display.

Behind him, Fuu looked at the scene in shock. This... monster was attacking her comrades!

"I'll kill you!" Fuu suddenly screamed, and she charged at the redheaded boy with a speed surprising the blond Konoha nin. Naruto cursed and ran after her in close pursuit.

Fuu leapt at the redhead with a loud roar, her fist cocked back. Behind her, Naruto began quickly performing hand-seals, readying a jutsu.

The redheaded boy, more commonly known by his title of Sabuku no Gaara, or Gaara of the Desert, turned towards her as soon as she ran at him, slightly surprised at her sudden attack. But he didn't flinch, as just as her fist was about to make contact with his face, he leaned back, letting it whip by him. Bringing up his own hands, Gaara took hold of her extended arm and pulled.

With a yelp, Fuu was lifted off the ground as Gaara spun, swinging her around once and tossing her back in the direction from which she came. Fortunately for the green-haired girl, Naruto was there and he held his ground, grabbing her in a bear hug as she crashed into him.

"Thanks." Fuu said, stepping beside the blond as he let her go. Gaara eyed his two opponents coldly, gauging their strengths as best he could; Naruto did the same.

"Why are you attacking?" Naruto suddenly asked, stalling the inevitable battle. Gaara's facial expression didn't change at all.

'Damn, he doesn't reveal any information.' Naruto thought, 'He's good.'

"He attacked me first," Gaara replied, "so I killed him."

Naruto's eyes narrowed at the casual response.

'Meaning he's likely killed before. He's not only good, but dangerous.'

"Just like you attacked me." Gaara said, his eyes widening slightly, his eyes flickering toward Fuu. Naruto followed his eyesight, only to notice a small amount of sand around Fuu's feet.

"Fuu!" was all Naruto could get out before Fuu was swept off her feet once more by the Sand-nin.

"Aaaah!" Fuu screamed, being tossed high into the air by the tendril of sand that Gaara had created. Naruto rushed at the redhead, tossing a kunai ahead. Gaara deftly dodged the kunai, running to the side, aiming to get the blond to change the direction of his charge. Unfortunately for the Suna shinobi, charging him hadn't been Naruto's agenda. The thrown kunai suddenly burst into a Kage Bunshin, revealing its true identity, and threw another kunai at the redhead, aiming to keep him on his toes.

Seeing his chance, Naruto quickly created a Kage Bunshin, and holding out his hands, swung it around, much like Gaara had done to Fuu, tossing it into the air to assist the airborne Waterfall genin.

Turning his attention back to Gaara, Naruto tapped a seal attached to his pants leg, creating a few more Shadow Clones to help him deal with attacking the Suna genin.

As the blonds rushed at him, Gaara held out his hand, forming a handful of shuriken in his hands. Swinging, the redhead threw all of them at the coming blonds.

"Suna shuriken!" Gaara called, alerting Naruto to what was coming his way. Not stopping his rush, the Kage Bunshin around him suddenly veered off to either side as he ran at the shuriken head on. Slapping his hands together to concentrate his chakra properly, Naruto focused them to his legs and took a giant leap, avoiding the shuriken that flew past him.

"Merge!" Gaara said, squeezing his open hand into a fist. The flying shuriken suddenly melded together, forming a much larger, single shuriken.

"Fuuma shuriken!"

'A Fuuma shuriken!' Naruto thought, in surprise, looking back. The demon windmill shuriken suddenly swerved back towards him, aimed towards his neck. Unable to dodge, Naruto could only watch as the shuriken approached him at a speed faster than he was running, threatening to sever his head...

...and his life.

Fuu chose that exact moment to land right on top of the horizontally-spinning blade, dispersing it into small grains of sand once more. Thanking her profusely, Naruto turned around again, only to see a foot come straight towards his face.


But thankfully, Fuu saved Naruto from a broken nose by pulling the blond back at the last second, and grabbed Gaara's extended leg, slamming him to the ground. Rather than dishing damage to the redhead as she'd hoped, the sand nin burst into sand upon impact, dirtying the air surrounding the girl.

"Damn it, a clone!" Fuu swore, looking around for the real Gaara.

'She's fast!' Naruto thought, amazed at the speed the girl had displayed. Fuu had pulled him back and used that same momentum to push herself forward, grabbing Gaara's leg. The manoeuvre, while simplistic in theory, was quite hard to perform in real life, especially since Naruto was not a stationary object.

Naruto was shocked out of these thoughts when Gaara suddenly appeared before him. Delivering a kick to his chest, Gaara immediately turned his attention to Fuu who turned around, surprised.

"How did you-"

As Naruto went flying back, Gaara suddenly gestured with his hand, and the grains of sand around Fuu suddenly enveloped the girl, taking her by surprise again as she yelped, her exclamation cut off.

"Sabaku Kyuu!" Gaara said, calling out the name of his technique.

Meanwhile, one Naruto's Kage Bunshin saw Gaara's technique, remembering the similar hand gestures from when the redhead had squashed the Waterfall nin. In alarm, it dispelled itself, immediately sending the information to the real Naruto and the other remaining Kage Bunshin.

"Damn it!" Naruto cursed, tapping the seal attached to his pants leg as he was still flying back from Gaara's kick. Several more Kage Bunshin erupted around him, immediately charging after Gaara. He hit the ground and burst into smoke.


All of Naruto's Kage Bunshin closed in on Gaara, hoping to interrupt his fatal technique. Gaara eyed the coming enemy calmly.

"Stop or I'll kill your friend." Gaara said. All of the Naruto's immediately stopped at his threat, still wary and ready to charge at him if he went back on his word and attempted to kill her anyway, though one of them did release the technique, bursting away to give all the other Naruto's a piece of information.

Gaara eyed the resulting smoke for a moment before coming to a conclusion.

'He's the bigger threat, especially with that clone technique of his.' Gaara thought, 'If I kill his friend, he'll alert everyone.'

Though Gaara was confident in his ability of surviving any attempts on his life as he had done so numerous times in Sunagakure, he had also had the knowledge of how strong his would-be assassins were, because they had been Suna-nin. The whiskered blond was a foreign shinobi and seemingly quite skilled, if his ability to create that many solid clones was any indication; Gaara didn't want the blond creating a ruckus, lest it lead to an international incident between Suna and Konoha, who were currently allies.

He may have been quite strong for a genin, but he was still only a genin.

Gaara knew that Konoha was the stronger Hidden Village; Suna would likely not stand a chance, especially with legends such as Hatake Kakashi or Jiraiya of the Sannin still around.

"Release your technique." he said, addressing all of the Naruto's again. A few of the clones gritted their teeth, before releasing themselves one by one, until there were only two left. Gaara glared at them, narrowing his eyes.

"All of the clones." the dangerous genin ordered. One of the blonds nodded his head towards the other before dispersing, leaving only the one Naruto behind.

"I did what you wanted." Naruto said, eyeing the redhead shinobi, "Now let her go."

Gaara stared at the blond for a moment, but he did as Naruto asked. Fuu fell to the ground, shaking from her close encounter with death. Looking at Gaara with wide-eyes, the girl quickly scampered away to where Naruto stood.

"Thanks for saving me," Fuu said, shuddering slightly, "I thought I was a goner."

'No... it's better that I kill the blond first, then I'll finish off the girl quickly.' Gaara thought, inconspicuously surrounding the two with his sand. With the blond out of the picture, as long as he could quickly end the girl's life, nobody could legitimately accuse him of killing an allied nin.

There was nobody else around, thankfully. Two deaths would easily get lost in the confusion.

"Naruto." Fuu spoke up, eyeing Gaara with scrunched eyebrows, "Be really careful... he's... different."

"Yeah." Naruto replied, "His sand technique is really dangerous."

Fuu shook her head.

"No! I mean... he's like me." she said, catching the attention of both Gaara and Naruto, "He... I think he has a demon sealed inside him!"

"What?" Naruto said in shock, turning towards her in disbelief. Gaara, ignoring his own shock at the revelation of meeting a fellow demon container, immediately chose this moment to attack the blond.

Gesturing with his hand, Gaara quickly formed the sand behind the blond into a large conic shape, and thrust it towards Naruto's unprotected back.

"Watch out!" Fuu suddenly screamed, reaching out to her friend of a single day, but she was too slow to make any difference.

"Wha-" was all Naruto could get out before Gaara's sharpened spear of sand pierced him from the back and burst out of his chest, shocking the blond at the suddenness of the fatal attack.

"NARUTO!" Fuu shrieked, her voice echoing across the broken village.

"Hikari. Akane. Stay back." Aoi commanded, eyeing the smoking crater closely, "The enemy might be too strong for you two."

Hikari grabbed Akane, pulling her back with her in case the girl decided to protest against Aoi's command. This was the first real battle situation that they had encountered and Hikari was not about to let it go awry.

"Akane, prepare yourself." Hikari said to the girl, reaching up and snagging her new weapons, the bells that Naruto and gifted her, ready to assist and defend when possible. Akane looked at Hikari wide-eyed, and Hikari realized that there hadn't been any need to hold the Uchiha girl back.

"Akane!" Hikari said, forcefully jostling her, snapping the dark-haired girl out of her shock, "Weapons out!"

"I-" Akane stuttered, before recovering, "Yeah."

The girl reached into her kunai pouch and pulled out her weapons of choice, which, incidentally, had been bequeathed upon her by her blond teammate as well.

In each hand, Akane held what she called the 'Fire Spin', which were simply put, yo-yo's. The string itself was made of a flame retardant, chakra absorbent material, preventing Akane from burning it, but allowing her to still send chakra through it to the metal yo-yo at the bottom. The yo-yo had several small holes around its diameter, which, when saturated with fire-based chakra, would release a multitude of flames, encasing the yo-yo with Akane's deadly flames.

In effect, the yo-yo's would become heavy, metal, spinning cylinders of fire.

In her left hand, Akane also held three small, unimposing balls between her fingers. These balls were equipped with seals that allowed them to be highly elastic as well as flame-absorbent. Dropped from a meter high, they would bounce back to almost the same height, retaining, as Naruto had said, about 95% of their kinetic energy. They were hard to control, hard to stop, and hard to avoid, especially when they were on fire, but the entire team had undergone special training to fight in sync with them.

In essence, what Akane called the 'Fire Balls' were one of the team's most dangerous weapons on the field.

A lone man walked out of the crater, looking around with a devious smirk on his face. Aoi's eyes widened as she caught sight of him.


Taizou looked at Aoi upon mention of his name, raising his eyebrow.

"Hoh?" he said, eyeing the jounin up and down, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"

'It can't be!' Aoi thought, squinting her eyes, 'Out of all the places for him to be... why is he here?'

Taizou was someone that Aoi had often seen in her nightmares. A jounin from Iwa, Taizou had been part of a group of nin that had attacked Aoi and her team when she had still been a genin. He carried with him an enormous amount of skill, an absolute monster to face in battle.

This man had been one of those responsible for the deaths of her entire team.

"Wait a minute..." Taizou chuckled, "You're... from that time!"

"Run, Aoi!"


"Why? Tetsu!"

As a barrage of unpleasant memories assaulted her, Aoi grit her teeth, glaring at the man.

"Hehehe, what are the odds of us meeting like this?" Taizou said, grinning at the glaring Hyuuga jounin, Hikari and Akane looking on in confusion, "You've grown up, girl."

"How are you-"

"Alive?" Taizou finished for her, "I was very close to dying, in fact. That Yellow Flash was one dangerous ninja, I'll tell you that."

"But he did a sloppy job of finishing me off, especially with that teammate of yours around." Taizou told the girl. Aoi felt anger swell in her chest, feeling an overbearing urge to harm and humiliate this man, to make him beg for forgiveness but never give it to him.

"Don't you dare..." Aoi whispered, her voice low and menacing, "Don't you dare mention him."

"You still can't accept the fact that your teammate betr-"

"Shut up!" Aoi cut him off, angrily, "Tetsu would never-"

"Whether he really did or didn't isn't something you can ask him. Unfortunately, Tetsuya-kun is no longer around." Taizou mentioned offhandedly. Aoi narrowed her eyes.

"I told you this before, girl, and I'll tell you this again. You may be a shinobi, but you're also human. Humans are weak and fragile creatures, easily taken by fear. When push comes to shove, they'll prioritize their own lives above all others." Taizou told her, "Tetsuya was the same. When the time came, he chose to save his own life rather than waste it protecting others."

"It isn't weak to fight for others, even at the cost of your own life!" Aoi replied passionately, "Shinobi exist to fight for others, to protect them!"

Taizou shook his head exasperatedly.

"Shinobi were born out of weakness; they exist to protect themselves. A shinobi prioritizes his life above all others." Taizou told her once more, as if he were stating fact, "It seems that you still haven't learned."

Aoi shook her head.

"Why are you here, Taizou?" Aoi asked, no longer wanting to hear the man's philosophies, "What's your goal?"

Taizou raised an eyebrow.

"Why do you assume that I'll just so willingly give away such information so easily?" he asked, shaking his head, "I wouldn't be much of a ninja if I gave away information to anyone who asked."

Then he shrugged.

"But, it's not like I really care if you know or not." he added, "I was sent here to destroy all the scrolls that were gathered from the different villages. By whom or for what reason, I don't know."

"If you don't even know who you're working for, then why are you here?" Aoi asked.

"Money." Taizou answered simply, shrugging his shoulders, "I've already received ten percent of it, and ninety percent on completion of the mission."


"Sensei." Hikari intervened, catching Aoi's attention. It was then that Aoi was reminded of her position; this man was likely stronger than even her, and she still had her two genin students around.

"Hoh? Sensei?" Taizou questioned, grinning, the scars on his face twisting as he eyed Hikari and Akane.

Aoi turned back to face the man, ready to protect her beloved students.

"This is interesting, girl. You've got students now, even after what happened to your team?" Taizou asked, but Aoi didn't appease him with an answer.

"Enough chit-chat!" Aoi said, her hair rising like cobras coiling back to strike, her Byakugan activating. Taizou raised an eye.

"Not even going to give me the opportunity to retreat?" he asked, "What if I said that I don't want to fight?"

Aoi didn't care.

Much to Akane and Hikari's surprise, Aoi went dashing at the man despite his declaration of truce, her chakra-induced speed blindingly fast to the naked eye. Her hair reached him first, Jyuuken strikes aimed at his torso with high precision, ready to shut down some of his major organs. However, before Aoi could make contact, the man easily side-stepped her attack, taking off running towards the side and extracting a handful of shuriken, placing them in the air as if putting them on a shelf.

Aoi jumped back instantly, wary of his technique.

"What's wrong?" Taizou mocked, still leaving his weapons floating in the air as he spoke, "Where's that confidence you were just showing?"

"Hikari, Akane, stay back." Aoi instructed, "Don't interfere."

Neither of the girls disobeyed, but Hikari sent Akane a glance to let her know to be ready to move just in case. Akane seemingly understood what Hikari was trying to convey to her and assumed a defensive position.

She dashed at Taizou, still placing weapons in the air, and engaged him in another bout of taijutsu. Aoi jumped at him feet-first, sliding across the ground, kicking up dust behind her. Taizou easily jumped over her blatant attack, but anticipating it, Aoi's braids pushed her body upright and off the ground, allowing her to meet him in a mid-air collision. However, before Aoi could strike him with her Jyuuken, Taizou used a replacement technique and came up underneath the woman, throwing a kunai straight up.

One of Aoi's braids grabbed on to the weapon around its grip and flung it back at Taizou, where he dodged instantly, running to the left and throwing a handful of shuriken. The kunai bounced off the ground and back into the air, stopping mid-air and floating like the rest of his weapons.

Aoi nimbly dodged the shuriken, noticing that they too stopped mid-flight, but didn't pay them any mind. Her braids grabbed on to a few floating kunai, arming themselves as Aoi dashed once again at the man. Taizou reached into his back pocket and withdrew two small, smoke-bombs, throwing them at the ground between them.

Much to Aoi's surprise, the two smoke-bombs let out a flash of chakra, temporarily blinding her, and that moment was all Taizou needed, as he went on the offensive immediately. Jumping at her with a kunai in hand, Aoi could only watch as Taizou aimed to stab her, unprepared for the unexpected move.


The man was suddenly struck by two small flaming objects, and he rolled away, clutching his burning sides in pain as the two balls bounced high off the ground before suddenly going straight after him again. Taizou just barely leapt out of the way, still in pain from the sudden attack. Aoi looked over to where her two students stood, attacking the man from a distance. Akane had thrown her 'Fire Balls' and Hikari, using the bells that Naruto had recently given her, hit the flaming balls with its whip-like capabilities, rocketing them towards Taizou, who was barely dodging.

Taking the chance that her genin had granted her, Aoi swiftly pulled out a scroll, yet another gift from Naruto, and unsealed the contents from within, several small magnetized metal balls, each of which weighed a significant amount. Charging some of her chakra into them, Aoi threw them in several directions, letting them sink into the ground where they touched.

"Hikari, Akane, give me space!" Aoi called out to her two genin. Hikari's whips immediately circled around the small balls, wrapping around them with extraordinary skill and, with a yank, sending them sailing back to Akane in a less frenzied manner. The Uchiha girl easily caught them, putting out the flames as soon as she did.

Aoi's hands fluidly moved through practiced hand-seals, her lightning nature slowly building up for her next attack. Taizou grit his teeth and stood up slowly, still clutching his side from the damage that the Akane and Hikari's attack had done him. They had only managed to hit him that first time, but their wave of attacks had been relentless. It was an impressive feat for genin to accomplish, to say the least.

Aoi's hands suddenly snapped together, forming hand-seals rapidly, and Taizou responded by continuing his own technique, placing more shuriken and kunai in the air, leaving them floating in place.

As Aoi continued her hand-seals, electricity began crackling in her hair, each braid straightening out to their full length. Her eyes zoned in on Taizou, watching as he suddenly stopped his technique, seemingly out of weapons.

Taizou's hands snapped together, palms clapping together and fingers intertwining, and with her Byakugan, Aoi watched his chakra reach out and connect to each of the eerily floating weapons that he had put up.

"You shouldn't have given me time to finish this technique, girl." Taizou said unsmilingly, "I'm disappointed."

Aoi raised an eyebrow.

"I could say the same to you." she said, "You're not as smart as I thought you were."

She was deliberately trying to get a rise out of him, but Taizou remained impassive, cold and calculating anger seeping through him as he eyed his opponents. He glanced at the two genin behind Aoi, still holding onto their weapons to interfere at any moment.

'This will be more effort than it's worth with those two supporting from the sidelines.' Taizou couldn't help but think, 'I hate to admit it, but they're good.'

"Girl." Taizou said, speaking up, "If we continue this battle, it'll be to the death."

Aoi didn't reply, electricity still crackling through her hair as she just waited for him to make the first move.

"If I kill you here, I'm going to kill your students as well." Taizou told her. Aoi didn't rise to the bait.

"You won't be able to kill me." she told him.

"We can both walk away." Taizou said, surprising her, "I don't know which of us will win, but one of us will surely die. If we walk away now, we can avoid that."

"You're chickening out?" Aoi asked, raising an eyebrow in disbelief. Hikari and Akane watched on in slight worry, unsure of what the man was aiming for.

"It's self-preservation." Taizou responded smoothly, unfazed at Aoi's insulting manner, "I'd rather not take the risk, knowing that my death is a possible outcome."

Aoi eyed him for a moment, thinking back to when she first met him.

"Don't throw away your life, boy." the scarred man said, "You have exceptional skill, but you have no hope of winning."

"Shut up! I... I won't betray my teammates." the dark-haired genin replied, glaring at the man in defiance. Taizou looked at him in pity.

"Let me give you a life lesson, kid. A ninja fights for himself. To a ninja, self-preservation is the only honor." Taizou said, "You have a choice, and you know the outcomes. Protect your teammate and certain death awaits you, but join me and you'll save yourself."

"Don't listen to him, Tetsu!" Aoi shouted, clutching her busted kneecap, "A ninja fights for others!"

"She just wants you to save her!" Taizou growled, "She's trying to survive at the cost of your life!"

Tetsu glared at Taizou, but couldn't help but glance at Aoi in uncertainty, shocking her.

"Tetsu!" Aoi exclaimed, disbelief evident in her voice, "He... he killed Sensei! Don't listen to him!"

"Tetsu!" Taizou immediately responded, latching on to the boy's name, "The point of war is to kill the enemy! I may have killed your sensei, but he would have killed me if I hadn't!"


"I had to fight to keep my life! It's in a ninja's nature to save themselves! Fight for yourself, Tetsu!" Taizou said, cutting Aoi off. He could have easily killed both genin, but he didn't want to just kill them. He wanted to show them the truth of this world, to win them over! He would ensnare them into his way of life, his way of thinking, the reason why he fought as a ninja!

"There's no cowardice in being afraid for your life!" Taizou told him passionately, "There's no cowardice in protecting yourself!"

Tetsu looked at the man with wide eyes, before shakily looking over at Aoi. When Aoi saw his eyes, she knew that Taizou had defeated him, but yet, she was unwilling to believe it.

"You... you won't kill us?" Tetsu said, "If..."

"Tetsuya!" Aoi shouted his name, tears flowing down her cheeks, "What... what are you doing?"

"Come over here, Tetsuya." Taizou said, "You're going to survive, and you're going to grow strong."

With another glance at Aoi, Tetsuya walked over the waiting man, completing his betrayal.

"Why? Tetsu!"

There was a suddenly a flash of yellow, and Taizou fell to the ground before Tetsuya could even reach him, defeated in an instant. Before him, standing magnificently with flowing golden locks and a swirling cape, was the great Yellow Flash, Namikaze Minato.

"Yondaime-sama!" Aoi gasped, relief filling her voice. Minato walked over to her, scooping her up in his arms, carrying her like he would a bride. He eyed Tetsu coldly, looking him over and finding him lacking. Tetsuya was still shaking.

"You'll likely be executed once we return to the village." Minato told the boy, his voice practically made of stone, "This sort of thing happens often, especially with genin. It's normally understandable, but... turning traitor, especially just after the war is over, is unacceptable. The Hyuuga would never allow you to live."

"Yondaime-sama." Aoi whispered, tears still leaking from her eyes, "Please..."

Minato eyed the girl in his arms for a moment, considering her unspoken request.

"Run." the Yondaime Hokage told the terrified genin, "Run, and never come across us again. Live your life with the shame of betraying your village, live in constant fear for your life."

Tetsuya looked at him and Aoi, tears in his own eyes as well.

"Run!" Minato barked. Tetsuya took off, obeying the last command that his Hokage would ever give him. Aoi watched him go, leaving her with the vestiges of a broken team.

She cried all the way back to Konoha, and never cried again. Not when the clan sealed her, not when the Yondaime died. Not ever.


If Taizou was surprised by Aoi's reply, he didn't show it.

"I'm going to kill you here, Taizou." Aoi told him, regarding the man with an icy expression. It was no longer about philosophies of self-preservation or protecting others. It was revenge, plain and simple.

Taizou moved first. He charged right at her, the weapons that he had left floating in the air eerily swerving to point at her. Aoi watched his charge, pointing her fingers straight at him with her hands clamped together in a ram seal, and she began her technique.


A large burst of lightning erupted from her hands charging straight at the man, who threw himself to the side to avoid the offending piece of chakra, just barely avoiding an electrifying death. Aoi separated her hands, spreading them out wide.


The burst of lightning suddenly divided, going off in countless directions, interweaving into a web of bright blue light. Crackling as it magically moved through the air, the lightning kept branching off into a counting number of lines, all rapidly zig-zagging through the air and making their way towards their target, Taizou.

Raikou had been one of Aoi's strongest techniques, very similar to Kakashi's Chidori, but instead of being able to cut, its power was been that of electrocution. It had always been a single shot, a small burst of Aoi's lightning-nature chakra meant to strike the enemy through just once. Naruto had changed that.

With the magnetized balls that Naruto had made for her, Aoi found that she had much more control over the jutsu than she had originally thought. Using the magnetic field that the balls created, Aoi could change the direction and branch off the threads of lightning in whichever way she wanted, allowing the jutsu to be versatile as long as it was contained within the magnetic field of the balls. And because of the jumpy and piercing nature of electricity, it was very hard to avoid being shocked.

Instead of striking with a single hit-or-miss shot, Aoi created an array of attacks to slowly electrocute her enemies into oblivion.

Taizou eyed both Aoi and her shocks of electricity jumping at him, almost as if it were in slow motion. And suddenly, his jutsu activated.

A hail of kunai spun around the man, causing Aoi to jump out of the way lest she get cut. The electricity was attracted to the metal kunai and shuriken, jumping between several of the weapons, successfully redirected from their target.

"Shit!" Aoi swore, her body moving immediately.

A storm of kunai spun around the man, firing off at Aoi, homing in on her with a personal vendetta, wanting nothing more than to cut. Aoi focused her Byakugan as much as she could, keeping track of each and every individual weapon flying at her, dodging furiously.

Every slightest bit of movement was important, each tilt of the head, movement of an arm or a leg. Every twist of the body, even the smallest of movements that Aoi made played their part in dodging a weapon in the fury that Taizou had unleashed on her. Hikari allowed her only a slight reprieve. Using her bells, Hikari was wrapping the wire around kunai and displacing them from the line of attack, throwing them out of range of Taizou's chakra, rendering them useless.

Akane also cautiously approached the hail of kunai and shuriken, knocking a few away with her flaming yoyo's, but the bombardment was so furious that she couldn't get any closer, leaving her with a limited capacity.

However, even through the barrage that Taizou was keeping up, Aoi was not without attack. Even in the slightest moment she had when she wasn't attacked, she shrewdly had her lightning jump from kunai to kunai, slowly approaching Taizou unsuspectingly.

And when the moment was ripe, she struck.

"Issen Seppun!"

Using her trademark technique, Aoi attacked the kunai, destroying the chakra in them, causing many to fall to the ground, their connection to Taizou's chakra cut off from Aoi's Jyuuken strikes. Taizou blinked in surprise as many of his kunai suddenly fell out of his control, not expecting Aoi to suddenly retaliate. As he tried to counter however, Aoi's lightning suddenly jumped out at him, shocking him to a standstill.

That moment was all Aoi needed.

Rushing forward, Aoi ran at him as fast as her shaky legs could carry her, Taizou temporarily paralyzed and unable to do anything but watch.

'Shit!' Taizou swore internally.

Aoi approached him, carrying certain death in her fingertips, ready to strike and take their long-awaited revenge. And then, only three steps away from him, a kunai rose from the ground and slashed her leg, causing her to trip forward and fall to the hardened dirt.

Taizou looked down at her for a moment, his paralysis making his movements sluggish. Grabbing a nearby floating kunai, he decided he wasn't going to say anything and just kill her and be done with it. He eyed her with a hard expression, ready to kill.

Aoi watched in horror as he grabbed the kunai, as he brought it up and aimed the tip at her, as he brought it down, as a kunai suddenly erupted from out of his forehead.

Taizou fell to the ground, instantly dead, his still-floating weapons falling to the ground with him. He still had the same hard look in his face, his eyebrows still crinkled and rough lines marring his forehead and his lips still pursed. He probably hadn't even known that he died.

Behind him stood a redhead, smirking nastily at the easy kill.

She wasn't exactly tall, probably just around Naruto's height, standing with a petite frame of slightly toned muscles. Her hair, a vivid red, was covered with a purple cap, long strands falling out around her ears and onto her pretty face. Her dark eyes glittered with the slightest amount of malice, and she eyed the fallen man's body with an amused look.

"Fucking shit that was easy." the girl remarked.

Aoi could only look at her, surprised at the sudden, almost unbelievable change of events that she had just brought about. Slowly standing up, the girl noticed Aoi's stare, as well as the two girls running over, calling out for their sensei.

"The fuck are you looking at?" she asked, her tone not softening at all when speaking to the older woman.

"You killed him." Aoi said, speaking as if she was stating fact. As a matter of fact, she was.

"Yeah, and it was fucking easy too." the girl replied, cackling, "You did all that fucking work for nothing. How do you feel that some bitch just snuck up and took out the fucktard you've been trying to kill for so long?"


Hikari and Akane ran up, eyeing the redhead warily as they approached their sensei.

"It's okay." Aoi reassured them, not even waiting for them to speak, "He's dead."

"Fuck yeah he's dead! He wouldn't be deader if a fucking crocodile bit off his head!" the redhead spoke up, causing Hikari and Akane to look at her, startled by her sudden tirade.

"Anyway, I'm out of this shithole." the girl said, turning to leave, "There are more fuckers to kill since this weakling village can't even take out the trash by itself."

"Wait!" Aoi called, still feeling dazed that the battle had ended so anti-climatically, "If you're fighting the invaders, then we're probably going to go to the same place."

The redheaded girl regarded the taller Hyuuga for a moment.

"I was watching your battle." she admitted, putting a hand on her shoulder and cracking her neck, "It was fucking epic, and your jutsu was ingenious."

"Ingenious?" Akane questioned, regarding the redhead with a guarded expression. Beside her, Hikari was in a similar state, her eyes slightly narrowed as she thought of how easily the girl had killed that man and even laughed about it afterwards.

"Its cause of that guy's weird-ass weapon technique." the strange redhead answered, smirking at Aoi tauntingly for having figured out her strategy, "Because he was using metal weapons, she used her lightning technique so that it could jump from weapon to weapon and get him, even if she couldn't get close without having her guts spilt out onto the floor by getting gutted by some errant kunai."

Aoi didn't react to her taunting manner, much to the girl's disappointment.

"Aww, fuck you." she said, pouting, "Alright, fine. Since you're pretty fucking strong, we can fight against the same people at the same time."

Aoi, strangely quiet, couldn't help but feel amused at the girl's reluctance with saying that she would temporarily join forces with them.

"Sensei." Hikari said, speaking up in front of the foreign kunoichi for the first time, "Naruto..."

Aoi's mind snapped into place. Her student was still out there, possibly fighting for his life and she was just standing around, still bewildered at the sudden outcome of her own fight.

"Let's go." Aoi said to her two genin, before inclining her head towards the redhead, "If you're going to come, then come."

The three members of Team Nine all took off running, hoping to get to their remaining teammate as quickly as possible. The girl eyed them for a moment, before shrugging.

"Ah, whatever. Might as well." she said, before running after them, matching their pace.

Aoi acknowledged her presence as the girl pulled up beside her, but her thoughts were strictly on getting to her blond-haired student. She knew that the reality of Taizou's death was niggling somewhere in the back of her head, but there were more important things to worry about.

Hikari and Akane had their priorities straight; it would be untoward for a sensei to fall behind her students.

'Wait for us, Naruto!'

Fuu watched with wide eyes, seeing the spear of sand pierce through her newfound friend's chest. It must have entered right between the shoulder-blades in his back, tearing through cartilage and lung, ripping apart his flesh and muscles. A part of it had to have punctured his heart on its way out of his chest, surely opening death's door.

Fuu saw his reaction almost avidly. His mouth opened ever so slightly, eyes widening in shock as he felt the acerbic feeling of his back and front splitting open, the feeblest of sounds escaping his mouth.

She screamed his name, her own voice inaudible to her. She watched as his chest rose with the spear, shifting forward just the slightest bit with the jarring force of the redheaded boy's fatal attack, she saw him look at Gaara in shock, and she watched him burst into smoke.

Naruto erupted from the ground in front of Gaara, striking him with an uppercut, snapping the boy's head upwards. The whiskered blond managed to thump Gaara in the chest with his palm before Gaara finally got a hold of what was happening, and threw Naruto away with his sand.

The blond went flying back and this time, it was Fuu that caught him.

"Naruto!" she said, holding onto him tightly, "I- I thought you died!"

"It was a Kage Bunshin." Naruto told her, trying to calm her down, "I'm not so easy to defeat."

"But... when?"

"Right at the beginning, when you ran right at him without thinking." Naruto told her in a chiding tone, much to her embarrassment, "I went under the ground, and this whole time, he's only ever been fighting my Kage Bunshin."

It was then that he realized that Fuu still hadn't released her hug.

"Hey..." Naruto said, blushing, "Do you mind letting go now?"

Fuu looked at him for a moment, before her mind caught up with her. She released him immediately.

"Oh!" she exclaimed in realization, an embarrassed blush adorning her face as well, "Sorry."

Naruto heard Gaara move behind them.

"Hey," he whispered to Fuu, "Get the kunai into his sand."


Their exchange was abruptly interrupted when tendrils of sand shot straight at them.

Naruto and Fuu swiftly jumped apart and charged immediately, running in opposite directions, both converging in on the attacking Suna-nin.

Gaara's gaze shifted from one to the other, before he spread his hands apart, splitting his sand into two, attacking both of his assailants at the same time.

As the sand came straight at him, Naruto hands snapped together, going through hand-seals as quick as he was able. Using his Seal Princess Technique, Naruto layered his chakra with the Shadow Clone technique, allowing it through with continuous short bursts, creating a Kage Bunshin with each surge of energy. Letting his clones take the brunt of the damage from the sand, Naruto ran straight at Gaara, throwing a kunai at him.

Meanwhile, not having a clone technique to take the damage, Fuu opted to run straight at the attacking sand, before she started spinning wildly right before impact.

"Tatsumaki Fuu!" she yelled out, her technique of her own name kicking up dust all around her as her rapid spinning released winds strong enough to knock away Gaara's sand. Gaara looked her in surprise, as the girl continued to spin even after Gaara's sand had dispersed. It was then that Gaara noticed her technique was starting to pull, as he noticed the slight forward momentum on his body.

And then, Fuu charged.

Gaara eyed the storm of dust heading straight for him with slight apprehension. His sand would be useless against this technique, getting sucked up in the rapidly spinning winds. Then, with a start, he noticed Fuu jump out of her technique straight at him, catching him unawares. But her leap had missed him, having jumped slightly off target.

'She missed.'

Gaara backed away from the girl, feeling relief settle on his shoulders when her attack missed. Even with his ultimate defence, her momentum might have actually allowed her to hit him. But unknown to Gaara, hitting him wasn't her aim. As Gaara moved aside, Naruto's kunai shot straight toward the girl who grabbed it and, still using the momentum from her rapid spin, tossed it at the redhead with great velocity.


Surprised, Gaara could only watch as the kunai struck his sand, almost making it through. It was then that the kunai started glowing, a strange pattern visible on it. Gaara eyed the seal as it suddenly dissolved into his sand without any other effects. Gaara was too late to stop it, but he tossed the kunai away as quickly as he could.

"It's over." Naruto told the Sand nin, his hands in a Tiger seal, ready to release his technique. Gaara eyed the blond silently.

"It's over?" he questioned, "Do you mean to say that you've won?"

"We have." Naruto answered, and activated his technique.

Gaara immediately felt weird, as if he had just been doused in cold water. His insides tingled, sending shivers down his spine. Looking at his sand, Gaara could see that it was now wet.

"My sand... what did you do?" Gaara asked, watching as it fell to the ground in clumps. Naruto eyed him momentarily before replying.

"When I hit you in the chest, I carved a seal into your chakra system. A multiple water-conversion seal." Naruto told him, "Any chakra you produce will have properties like those of someone with a water-affinity."

"So when I control my sand..." Gaara continued. Naruto nodded.

"It would behave as if it were wet." Naruto told him. Gaara eyed the blond for a moment, looking slightly impressed.

"And the kunai?"

"The same seal to make the sand physically wet." Naruto said, "With wet sand, your effectiveness is cut in less than half, and I have many more tricks up my sleeve."

"Why are you attacking my village?" Fuu asked, jumping straight to the point, "What's your goal?"

"I am not the attacker." Gaara said, "I was attacked by a man wearing the Waterfall symbol on his forehead protector. He was an imposter, one of the invaders, so I killed him."

Both of the genin eyed Gaara in surprise. They had been fighting someone with whom they should have been fighting alongside. Because he had killed someone wearing the Takigakure symbol, they had attacked him, thinking he was the enemy. In turn, because they had attacked him, Gaara thought that they were the enemies.

Their entire fight had been based on a misunderstanding.

"Then... we aren't enemies." Naruto said, "We have no reason to be fighting."

Gaara regarded the pair for a moment, but eventually recalled his drenched sand, allowing it back into his gourd. Naruto let out a sigh in relief.

Gaara eyed the two of them in confusion.

"What is your name?" he suddenly spoke up, looking at Fuu. She eyed him for a moment before hesitantly responding.


"You mentioned that you were a demon-container." Gaara said, practically ignoring the blond, "Which demon do you hold?"

"The seven-tail horned beetle." Fuu responded, speaking in clipped tones. Naruto felt odd as he watched the two converse, not knowing where this conversation was headed.

Gaara eyed her silently for a moment, considering her words.

"How did you know that I was a demon container?" Gaara asked, still speaking stonily. Fuu eyed the boy warily, thinking of a response to his question.

"I... I'm not sure." she told him, "When you had me in your sand... I just knew."

Gaara fell silent at her response, thinking things through. Meanwhile, Naruto's mind was racing.

'How can demons be sealed?' he couldn't help but think, 'To make a seal for containing a living being as complex as a human, let alone a demon, would take decades.'

It was possible that the idea of sealing a demon within a human body had been around for decades, worked on continuously by generations after generations. It was also possible that the chakra of demons had more to do with their physical makeup than he had thought.

"That's interesting to know." Gaara suddenly said, breaking the silence. Both Naruto and Fuu looked surprised to see that he was smiling at them.

"You... what?" Fuu asked, confused.

"It seems that the strength of the container isn't proportional to the strength of the demon, or else you would be seven times as strong as I am." Gaara told her, explaining the conclusion he had come to.

'He has the one-tailed demon.' Naruto's mind quickly filled in, 'Whatever that is.'

"What do you mean?" Fuu asked, unsure of what angle the redhead was aiming for.

"Your blond friend over there seems to be much stronger than you are, even though you are the container of the seven-tailed bijuu." Gaara explained, and Naruto's mind suddenly clicked into place. Fuu narrowed her eyes, but it was Naruto that responded.

"The number of tails the demon has doesn't mean anything to the container except for the fact that they have more chakra." Naruto said, addressing the redheaded Sand genin, "So you don't know whether someone is stronger than you or not."

Gaara raised an eyebrow at the blond.

"Demons with more tails have more potential, and so should their containers." Gaara stated, "I still wish to test my capabilities against you in battle. I wish to know whether a lesser-tailed beast can overcome one with more."

"If that's the case, then you have no chance of winning by your own philosophy." Naruto replied, thinking quickly. It was currently still a war situation, and they didn't have the luxury of fighting someone who was supposed to be on their side. Fortunately for him, he knew exactly what to say.

"Why is that?"

"Because I'm the container of the nine-tailed demon fox."

Chapter 08 – The Rising Water – Terminating

Author's Note:

It feels like only yesterday that I updated. *Ducks for cover*

Sorry about the wait. I was out of the country right after I last updated, and when I got back, I started working full-time, so I barely had any time to write. Not to mention the entire rewrite for this story that I was working on. Also, I'm also working on, let's see... one, two, three, four, FIVE new stories, and a few one-shots here and there as well. My muse just wouldn't leave me alone. And then there's 'What's New, Naruto?' as well. Anyway, I'm sure that I've lost a large portion of my readers due to the long waiting time, but for whatever its worth, here's the chapter.

Now, this was a pretty long chapter, and I know that if you took the time to get this far, then you can take the time to review! So let me know what you think! As for the change in the title, considering that there's been a rewrite of the story, I felt that it was necessary. 'Furuenjin' was my probably-incorrect way of saying Full Circle in Japanese, so 'Come Full Circle' isn't so radically different. I hope it's appreciated.

Anyway, onto other matters, Hikari and Akane didn't get much action this chapter, but it was important that Aoi face her past without much interference. The Waterfall mission will (hopefully) be coming to a conclusion in the next chapter, so you have that to look forward to.

Now, I don't often do this, but I'm going to rec a story here. 'Onesimus Shrugged: GOSPEL' by Zeitgeist84, a Naruto fic that is radically different than canon, yet is so well done. Only one chapter in and I'm already drawn into the story. Zeitgeist has really outdone himself. I'd recommend that everybody check it out. And people. LEAVE HIM A REVIEW! I don't want such an excellent fic to go to waste because nobody is bothering to review.

Anyway, it's time to end this note.

Hope you had some fun, and don't forget to review!