A/N
-A lot of people were wondering why Kushina died and Hinata didn't. Well it is simple. Naruto is a story about personal growth and a coming of age. People don't just change as they get older. Their experiences change them. Naruto really needed to gain something and lose something and go through some real sorrow. Kushina was added to the story as a way to add some flavor to Naruto and she was planned to die to get him over that last childish hurtle. He will be more of an adult now, which in turn will enable him to lead that gennin squad better and do what needs to be done.

And there you have it. The reason for her death. It was not random. It just had to happen.

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Chapter 15

Fallout

Sasuke awoke to find himself on a rather lumpy bed. He opened his eyes slightly and looked around. The room was bare with a vague musty smell. The only light in the dim place was from a lantern that cast dancing shadows on the worn down walls. Cob webs filled the corners of the ceiling. He could make out a large spider descending down one of the windows that had a heavy curtain over it. With the curtain however he could make out a sliver of sunlight pushing through the bottom. It was daytime still where ever he was. He felt a hand move towards him and his snatched flashed out catching the wrist in a viselike hold. Whoever it was gasped painfully.

"Sasuke! Let go!" It ordered. He opened his eyes and turned his head to see Sakura glaring at him. Their eyes locked for a long moment and she purposely moved her eyes to where he still had her hand gripped painfully. His eyes looked her over, noting that she had a medical kit on hip side and a pouch of shuriken and kunai on the other. He let go of her hand, dismissing her as a threat and sat up. He felt very weak from the after effects of the Tsukiyomi.

As he sat up he got a better look around the room. It was small and cramped. It hadn't been abandoned long. He could hear the hustle and bustle of many people outside and concluded that he was in Konoha proper.

"Where am I?" He asked his old team mate, glancing at her as she rubbed her wrist and watched him carefully.

"Naruto's old apartment. He kept it open in case of an emergency where he needed to stay hidden. He had me bring you here so that ANBU would not get you." A small look of distaste creased the edges of his mouth and Sakura did not like that one bit. "If it were not for him Sasuke you would be in a prison being held for interrogation. After all you have been through I would think you would appreciate having a save place to recover despite its condition." Sasuke let her finish her rant and just looked at her with that dead face not saying a word. She couldn't hold the stare and looked away.

It was silent in the room for a long time. Sakura went about her business of trying to clean the place up and preparing a poultice for Sasuke's considerable wounds. Sasuke just stared into space, his mind trying to grasp the last message of his brother. He was confused and conflicted. On one hand he hated Itachi and on the other he admired and loved him. Sakura couldn't take the silence anymore and interrupted his thinking.

"I have to say this now. I don't know what may happen a day or an hour from now, so I need to get this out while I can." Sasuke watched her quietly while she took a breath and began. "When you left all those years ago, you hurt a lot of people. I don't know if you knew it or not, but a lot of people cared and loved you. You always talked about getting revenge and how you were an avenger. You always sat and brooded how you were alone. Well Naruto was alone for as long as he could remember. We became the only family he had. The family he wanted. And you and he became the real friends I never had. To Kakashi, we were his students. The ones to pass on his legacy and his knowledge. To the common villagers you were the last of their greatest protectors. Their hope for a strong future. You meant more to people than I think you knew."

She still couldn't look at him, but felt is eyes boring into her and slowly started to apply the healing compound to his arms and legs. "So then you left. Naruto lost a part of his family, I lost one of my only friends, Kakashi lost faith in him self and felt he failed you and the village blamed all of us for your actions."

"We looked for you for a long time. We went to great lengths and great danger to try and track you down. All the time we were scared that we would fail and Orochimaru would steal your soul, all for your vengeance." Sasuke got a little angry at this, but Sakura raised her hand to stall his words. "I am not saying that your quest was wrong. I hold no judgment for that. It was something very personal that you needed to do. What I really want to know is…" Sasuke saw a tear fall from her hung head and land on the sheets. "Were we really that bad that you couldn't stay with us? Do you hate us that much that you would throw us all away?"

Sasuke didn't answer for a long time and she gave up and turned away to go to the refrigerator. As she opened it up and the light brightened the room considerably he answered. "No, you were not."

Sakura's body shook and she turned around angrily. "Then tell me why? You owe us that at least! Why did you leave us? Why couldn't you grow strong here?" Her tears were a virtual flood now and Sasuke had to push down the queasiness he felt as he saw them.

"I could not grow when I was pampered. I could not grow when I was limited by something as insignificant as rank and took on foolish missions where more time was spent walking from place to place than on missions. Anything I asked for I got. Except for the one thing I needed. The freedom to train and pursue my goal. It was constantly denied to me."

"Sakura. I will tell you the same thing that I told Naruto. This village has grown rotten and tainted. You and Naruto are protected from the ugly side of things. You are children standing in the dark, refusing to step into the light for fear of being blinded. My brother gave up everything for this village. The same village that would order the slaughter of my clan just out of fear." Sakura gasped and brought her hand to her mouth, shaking her head in denial at the awful truth revealed to her.

"Yes Sakura. The village ordered the destruction of my clan and used by brother to do it." He smiled slightly, taking a small bit of pleasure in seeing her discomfort.

"So that's why…" She left the question unspoken they both knew what she meant.

"There is more to it than that, and I have revealed enough for now. Where is the dobe?" Sakura gave a little hiccup of laughter through her distress at the name.

"I don't know. He was ok after you two…he was ok and I sent him to go to the hospital. He always recovers fast so he should be here soon." She set a bowl of soup in front of him and he took a sip finding it delightfully pleasant.

"I have to know." Sakura once again interrupted his thoughts. "What are you going to do with Naruto once he gets here?" Sasuke didn't answer and kept eating his soup. "Just so you know in order to protect myself and Naruto I've placed some seals on you. They prevent you from molding chakra. So you will not be able to use your Sharingan on him." Sasuke's eyes bore into hers relentlessly as she said that. She wanted to turn away but found that it was impossible. She wanted to apologize to him, but she had far too strong a will to do that.

Sasuke continued the hard stare for a moment longer and turned away towards his bowl. Sakura visibly sagged in relief and started to eat her own food. A moment later there was a knock on the door. Sakura tensed and got a kunai ready. Sasuke tried to get into a defensible position but was too weak. There was another impatient knock and an urgent whisper to open the door made Sakura bolt over and throw it open. Naruto darted in and closed it behind him. To the blonds surprise the pink haired Nin threw her self on him in a crushing hug. He smiled sheepishly and awkwardly patted her back and then pushed her away.

"The village is in chaos right now with the death of Danzo and those old bags they called advisors. Baa-chan is working on regaining order among the shinobi. She is taking the initiative and cleaning up ROOT once and for all. They really stand out now in their panic over Danzo's death, we are going to lose a lot of ANBU and Chunnin. He had fully a fourth of the village shinobi under his control. It's pretty bad." Naruto shook his head and threw his coat over a chair. He could feel eyes on him from the moment he walked in, but waited to look at his friend while be explained the situation to Sakura. He finally turned to see Sasuke looking hatefully at him, with a hand balled tightly into a fist. She was sad at the reaction, but it was understandable after the fight they just had.

"I've told the ANBU and the Hokage that it was remnants of ROOT who attacked me. I was able to put out your Ameratsu fires with great difficulty so they wouldn't know. They believed it since there was an attempt of the Hokage's life late last night. So you're in the clear for now Sasuke."

"Why are you covering up for me?" The Uchiha asked. "It is a weakness. I killed Danzo and the Advisors. You should had turned me over to ANBU." Sasuke knew the answer, but he wanted to hear it from Naruto. Naruto sighed.

"I thought it might have been you when you showed up on the training ground." Naruto said. "I didn't know why until that little scene with Itachi in our head. Yes I saw it to." Naruto said when he noticed Sasuke's surprised look. "So that was the big secret. I always thought it was a little suspicious that an entire clan could be killed in one night with the entire village unaware." He pursed his lips before continuing.

"They ordered the death of your family and clan. Didn't they Sasuke?" Sasuke didn't reply just turned to look at the sheets, his fingernails drawing blood in his palm from be clenched so tightly. "Thought so." Continued Naruto. "Well then as far as I am concerned good riddance to them."

Sasuke's head jerked up quickly and stared incredulously as the new jounin. "Don't look so surprised Sasuke. You should know me well enough to realize that I don't stick up for people like them." He took a bowl of soup from Sakura and smiled thankfully at her.

"Sasuke. The gloves are off now. Things seem to be moving very fast. They took Na'omi, the eight tails. Tell us how to get her back." Sasuke frowned and gritted his teeth.

"I was not aware that she was to be taken. I told her to stay in the village and close to you." He said. Both Naruto and Sakura's jaws dropped at that tid bit of information.

"I don't understand!" The two leaf shinobi replied at the same time.

"It's simple Naruto. I could have taken her when my team confronted her in the Swamp Country. I used my Tsukiyomi to give her a message to come to the Leaf village. That she would find shelter here. I no more wanted her to be captured by Madara than you did. This is a set back."

"Wow Sasuke. Why did you sent her here? Aren't you working for Madara? Isn't he in your clan?" Sakura asked. Sasuke scoffed at the notion with a distasteful face.

"I am an avenger. The crimes against my clan had to be settled. Only Madara is left now. He helped Itachi kill my family. I mean to see him dead." The Uchiha said grimly.

"Then why did you attack Naruto? Why did you try to take him?" Sakura raged disbelievingly.

"I didn't."

"W-What?" Naruto stammered out.

"You are still an idiot Naruto. Haven't you wondered why I attacked in the morning, before you were tired out from training? I could have taken you last night while you slept. I was right outside your window. You had it wide open."

Naruto and Sakura had that confused look of two idiots, who couldn't wrap their mind around a simple idea.

"Baka!" Sasuke said. "You and I had unfinished business Naruto. The Valley of the End was not a proper finish to me. I needed to know who was stronger." Sasuke looked troubled and angry. "How did you get the Sharingan Naruto? That belongs to my clan you should not have it!" Naruto thought back to his encounter with Itachi in the woods before answering.

"Before you fought and killed Itachi I met him in the woods. He asked me some questions and warned me that you might attack the village. For some reason he gave some of his power to me. In case I had to fight you. It's a good thing he did I guess after what you tried to do to me!" Naruto pinned the Uchiha down with a piercing glare, reminding Sasuke that he had tried to seal him away forever inside his eyes.

Sasuke ignored the implications of that attack and instead focused on what Itachi gave Naruto. "So he gave you the Mangekyou Sharingan?! Our family's greatest power! He had no right! You will give it back!"

"I didn't even know what he gave me! It triggered on its own when you used that genjutsu on me! And I don't have it anymore! It was a one time thing. I felt it leave and get used up after everything." Naruto told him. Sakura just kept looking back and forth between the two not sure what they were talking about. She asked, but Naruto said he would explain everything later. The blond decided to shift the subject back to the important stuff.

"Na'omi Sasuke. How do we find her and bring her back?" He asked.

"I do not know. I was not informed they were taking her, or of the location of the draining. They kept all of that knowledge from me. Madara never fully trusted me. Besides, you don't want to save someone like her."

"What do you mean someone like her? She was a good person and helped me out! She saved my life!"

"She saved your life and befriended you under my orders. But she is not a good person. She was every bit as vile as Orochimaru."
"Lair!" Naruto stood up quickly and Sasuke raised his hand to defend himself.

"Naruto…" Sakura said quietly. "I think Sasuke is telling the truth."

"What?! How can you say that Sakura-chan?" The blond demanded.

"I fought that Kunoichi Karin in the forest while you and Sasuke were having a go at it. She told me the same thing. She said that Na'omi was a vile and evil person who would steal youth from people to stay young.

"Then she was lying!" he retorted. Sasuke's cynical laugh broke back into the conversation at this point.

"Naruto. Where do you think Orochimaru gained the knowledge to complete the body transfer Jutsu? He met the eight-tails decades ago and in exchange for her knowledge of the life draining techniques of her bijuu he would give her a place to hide and bodies to drain to stay alive. I found all this out when I was with him. She is disgusting in her habits. She even took the youth from Karin, my comrade in the forest after she saved you. She killed her family and child to stay young and dined on children more than most since they had the stronger life force."

Naruto sat down heavily, his legs giving out from under him. "B-But she helped me so much. She told me all about the Kyuubi and the Bijuus." He said weakly, not wanting to believe he had been so fooled.

"Most of it was a lie." Sasuke drove the point in more. "Knowing all this now, do you still want to find her and risk the lives of Leaf Shinobi getting her back?" Naruto thought about this for a moment before answering.

"No. She can rot in hell and I hope everyone she has killed will torment her forever." The container said savagely. Sasuke nodded and the three went back to their meals in silence.

When they were finished Naruto got up and paced back and forth before stopped and turning to her former comrade.

"So what about you now?" he asked. Sasuke thought for a moment and shrugged slightly.

"I will go after Madara and end this."

"You can't do it alone Sasuke. He is way too strong. He attacked Konoha and took a ring back like it was an everyday stroll in the woods for him. He went up against the entire village alone and killed seven ANBU and like twenty Chunnin all by himself. His space/time jutsu is more advanced than the 4ths… Sasuke he has an affinity for it."

"What? Impossible there is no affinity for space/time." The Uchiha said.

"Looks like Orochimaru neglected to train you on that point huh? It's real enough, but very rare and only few people were known to have it. All of them are regarded as some of the strongest ninja ever. The Yodaime and Salamander Hanzo were two of them. Madara has his own version of the Hirashin No Jutsu that the Yodaime used to defeat an entire army in seconds!" Sasuke looked worried and disturbed by this news. He couldn't stand up to something like that. His plans quickly began to fall apart. He asked about Karin. Sakura explained to Sasuke how she defeated Karin and left her for ANBU to find. She told him how Karin was supposed to kill him and take his eyes after he defeated Naruto, so he no longer had her as a resource, or the element of surprise. In one morning months of planning fell apart. He was brooding when Naruto badgered him about that old useless point once more.

"Sasuke. Come back to the village! We need you!" Naruto implored. Sasuke snarled at the plea.

"To this place? The place that stood by as my entire clan and family were murdered? You are still the idiot!"

"NO!" Naruto declared loudly. "That place began to die with Danzo and the Advisors! This is the time Sasuke! We can make the changes together! We can make sure that something like that never happens again! We never gave up on you Sasuke. Even though you betrayed us, we stuck by your side even if we couldn't stand by it. Has anyone ever done that for you? You can start a new life and still kill Madara with us. We can do it together! There is no reason to be alone anymore!" Naruto sat on the bed and grabbed his friend by the shoulders.

"Stay here! Return to the village!" he pleaded again. Sasuke shook his head and slapped the arms away.

"I loath this place. It is vile and I would sooner see it burn that be under its eyes again. Besides the village would never accept me. The Fifth would lock me away and interrogate me. I have no desire for that." He argued.

"You let me deal with them. I can get Baa-chan and the Hyuuga clan on your side. People wont raise too much of a fuss by going against them. It's true that a lot of people and shinobi wont like you or trust you, but you will have to work hard to earn it again. And I've never known you to back down from a challenge."

"That's just it. Didn't you learn by now that you don't know me? No one does. I am tired of trying to press these ideas into your tiny skull. I don't care about you or Konoha."

"Liar." Sakura spoke up. "You even admitted that your comrades and the village weren't so bad. You just can't let it go can you Sasuke? You already got most of the revenge for your clan. How much misery do you have to put yourself through before you're willing to start living? You defeated your brother, your one of the strongest shinobi in the land, what more do you want?"

Sasuke shook his head and sneered at the mini-Tsunade. "Could you live every day staring at the very people who crushed your life? Look them in the eye as they throw false accolades and smile their false-smiles? No Sakura. You and Naruto need to grow up. Not everything-" He was interrupted by a snort from Naruto.

"Still the emo-king aren't you Sasuke. Well I don't by it one bit. You're just playing to the crowd now. The pity party has run out of fuel for you. I KNOW that the happiest times of your life where in this village and on Team 7. And I KNOW that we can build it all back. All you have to do is say yes and stop being such a fucking drama-queen. Every Shinobi in this village has lost precious people and been through hell and back in their lives. You tell us to grow up? Move on Sasuke. You can kill everyone and everything and leave the world a wasteland and it still won't make you feel any better."

Sasuke stared in shocked outrage at Naruto, the blood rushing to his face and he ignored the pain of his body as his hand shot out at Naruto's throat. Sakura cried out in concern, but Naruto just batted the hand away and grabbed the so called avenger by the front of his shirt and stared hard into those murky dark eyes.

"Take the offer Sasuke. I'm done playing nice. WE. WANT. YOU. BACK! This is the final time I will throw aside everything you've done and use my influence to secure you a place in the village. If you turn this down now, it all stops. Don't think that you can pick and choose when to come home. You have to pick now. This minute." Naruto was breathing heavy into the argument face of the last Uchiha.

"They will execute me."

"No they won't."

"They will interrogate me."

"They will debrief you."

"They won't let me leave the village."

"Madara will come to you."

"They won't trust me."

"Earn it back." Naruto just kept stomping on all of Sasuke's excuses. Sasuke put on his stoic expression and looked solemnly out the window debating this choice. Despite all his claims about hating the village he really wanted this. He did miss his time back with team 7. If worse came to worse and he couldn't take it anymore he could always leave again. They couldn't stop him three years ago, they sure as hell couldn't stop him now.

"Very…" He took another breathe. "Very well. GET OFF ME!" He tried to pry and shove his two team mates off as they were smothering him in some kind of group hug that made him sick just from being apart of it.

"YES!" Naruto yelled and jumped for joy. Grinning like a mad man.

"Hmph. Still the clown." Sasuke said sarcastically

"Hey!" Naruto broke in with a sly prankster grin. "Who's the one that just kicked your ass?"

"What?! You dobe!" Sasuke's eyes seemed to glow anew with the fires of their old rivalry. "You only beat me because of Itachi's Sharingan! You're still dead last!" The two glared harshly at each other, sparks seemed to fly between as their glares deepened. A giggle caused them to turned those glares to Sakura, who was holding her mouth. Her shoulders and eyes quivering with mirth.

"What?" They said together.

"You two!" She replied. "All these years apart and you go right back at it again!" She settled down and smiled serenely. "It's good to see again. I missed it more than words can say." The two boys huffed, folded their arms and looked away from each other. Sakura had to laugh again, it was all too familiar.

"Well now!" The three jumped in startlement to see Kakashi standing with his arms folded in the door-way. "I am glad that is all settled." He walked in and shut the door. "Sakura is right. It is good to see this again."

"Ah! Ah! Kakashi sensei! I can explain everything!" Naruto said nervously looking between he jounin and his former student who were staring at each other with mixed expressions. Kakashi just waved the blond off.

"I heard everything. I followed Sakura when she first brought him here." He walked over to the hesitant Uchiha. Slowly his hand reached out and sat on the teen's shoulder. "Sasuke. It is good to have you back." The two broke into a slight smile. It seemed to seal everything in some mysterious agreement.

The four of them sat down and talked. They talked for hours catching up over the years and trying to reestablish that bond that had been damaged over the course of time. There was an air of peace. A feeling of serenity among them as feelings long dormant was finally released. Team seven was reunited at last.

--

--

Four ANBU found the scene first. They just stood around the body and bowed their heads. They gave a moment of revered silence for Kushina, the wife of the Fourth. One of them removed their mask and knelt down next to her.

"Kushina-sama…" Anko said. She stared into the calm face and lifeless eyes and reached out to close them. She would engrave this image in her head forever. It was the image of a Shinobi who had died honorably and for a cause so profound that it calmed a trouble and fractured heart. She reached her arms under the Kunoichi and lifted the body. She turned to the other three ANBU with her and they headed back to the village. Solemnly not saying a word. They knew this death was going to cause a great deal of trouble for the village and one certain young man.

--

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Tsunade listened to the report with a heavy heart. She stared down at the body of Kushina and then at the message she wrote down as the fallen Kunochi's summon told it to her. She was dead, but her life had given her son a fighting chance at survival. The threat of this Pain was ever present in their minds. Hovering out of sight, but always the last thought of the night before sleep settled in.

They knew now. They knew the location of Pain's real body. Still Tsunade tucked the message away and sighed sadly. She would wait until things settled down, but she would have to tell Naruto. The gods only knew what would happen then. She started the trek back to her office and called for Yamoto and Kakashi. While she waited she listened to various reports on the battle with the remnants of ROOT and reassigned ANBU teams where they were needed and sent Chunnin teams throughout the village to calm things down and pass out the truth to stop wild rumors from spreading. Finally Yamoto showed up, but Kakashi could not be found to her resentment.

"You wished to see me Hokage-sama?" The under cover ANBU asked.

"Yes. Take a seat please I am unpleasant news." He complied and she formulated her thoughts into words. "There is no easy way to say this, but Namikaze Kushina is dead. She died fighting an Akatsuki agent who infiltrated the village." Yamoto sat stunned. He knew right away why she summoned him then.

"Naruto will be crushed! This news could shatter the seal completely and pull him into his full Bijuu form!" he said urgently. Tsunade confirmed this with a nod.

"We will need you to stop that from happening. This will be an S-rank assignment for you. You are not to leave his side at all once the news as been delivered. We will supply you with soldier pills if your chakra gets low, but day and night it will be up to you to keep the Nine-tails at bay. If you fail the village could well be destroyed. Realize that this assignment could be weeks long. Naruto ill be wanting time alone, but you are not to give this to him. Stay discreetly back, but don't let him leave your sight no matter how hard he tries."

"Understood Godaime-sama."

"There is more." She said and he waited.

"A few hours ago Kakashi notified me that he saw Sakura carrying who he believed to be Sasuke to places unknown. I think Naruto lied to us about the ROOT attack on him this morning. It was Sasuke who attacked and Naruto has him hidden someplace. At this moment Naruto probably has all of his dreams coming true. A girl friend, a home, respect of the village, a mother and his best friend returned. This is going to shatter that for him. Please be understanding, especially if Naruto can not convince him to stay in the village."

"Godaime-sama. I do not mean to question you, but is it wise to allow the Uchiha in the village? Reports have confirmed that he is an agent for Akatsuki and Uchiha Madara."
"I won't be able to decide that until I speak with Naruto and the team. You are not to inform anyone about this. Nor will you inform Naruto about Kushina. I will tell him. "

Yamoto nodded hesitantly. "As you wish."

"You are dismissed." The powerful jounin left the office and Tsunade and sat with her head in her hands. 'Will Naruto end up like me?' She thought. 'Will he lose each of his friends and family till he is all alone?' She preyed with all her heart it wouldn't be so.

-

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Hinata marched through the town on a war path. The normally shy and polite young kunochi was a changed girl. Her eyes a blaze of fury as she sought her boy-boyfriend. She had woken up this morning to an empty bed, and empty house and a war torn training ground. She had be accosted at the battle-site by chunnin investigators and they had informed her that Naruto had been attacked by ROOT early in the morning and he was sent to the hospital due to injuries. She hurried to the white washed building immediately. He hands clasped in worry for her Naruto only to find that he had left already.

She was furious with him. He had been in a fight, had almost been killed and had been hurt and when he was discharged he hadn't even bothered to find her and let her know he was alright. She had just spent the last two hours using her blood line and all her resources searching for him to no avail. 'He better not be with another woman.' She raged in her mind. This stopped her for a moment. "Why am I thinking that? Naruto would never do that." She said out load. She shook the thought off and continued her search. She knew her thoughts and actions lately were not herself, but couldn't bring herself to speak to Naruto about them.

"Hinata?" She turned to see her team-mate Kiba walking along the street. Her heart swelled in hope. He was the answer to her prayers! If he couldn't find Naruto then he could help her with her problem.

"Kiba-kun!" She smiled at him. "I am glad you are here. I need your help!"

"Sure Hinata." She said while Akamaru stopped and eyes the girl curiously.

"Have you scene Naruto-kun? There was a fight this morning and I can't find him anywhere." She bit her lip.

"I'm sorry Hinata. With everything that's been going on I haven't seen him. I'd help you look, but I've been ordered on a population control mission." She shrugged apologetically.

"A population control mission? What has happened?" She asked.

"You mean you haven't heard?" She shook her head no. "Wow, you're really out of it. Some old man named Danzo and the Hokage's advisors were killed last night. And that woman Na'omi was kidnapped by Akatsuki. The whole village is in chaos at the moment. From what I am told some group called ROOT even betrayed the village and tried to kill the Fifth." Hinata shook her head and dismissed all the news.

"But what about Naruto-kun?" She implored. Kiba looked at her strangely and just shrugged.

"No idea. I am sure he is around someplace." He said. Hinata bit her lip and her body shook a bit. She hated to do this, but she had to go with Plan B. She looked Kiba over carefully and nodded. He would do. She grabbed his arm and started to drag him to an ally with lots of shadows.

"H-Hey! Hinata! What's going on?" He asked, but she just ignored him. Akamaru whined a bit, but followed carefully.

Hinata finally found a good spot and let go of Kiba. He looked at her like she was crazy for a moment.

"Hinata. What's wrong?"

"Nothings wrong! I just need your help with something real quick!" Her eyes and body begged him desperately.

"Anything Hinata." He was always willing to help his team mates.

"Good." Quickly she took off her jacket and lifted lifted up her shirt to expose her pale skin and light pink bra to her team-mate.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Kiba said and adverted his eyes. "Hinata! What the hell is wrong with you? Put you're clothes back on! You dating Naruto remember!"

"He isn't here and I can't find him anywhere! Please Kiba! I need someone! Anyone!" She stepped forward and pressed her body seductively against his. Kiba looked in horror and then anger at Hinata. He shoved her away and glared, ignoring her half nude form.

"Oh really? Anyone huh? What about Naruto huh? What about our friendship? Did you think about that?" Hinata felt smaller and smaller at the berating she was getting. She looked down in shame and started to poke her fingers together again. A motion she hadn't done in some time.

"I-I can't help it Kiba-kun. P-please."

Kiba started to feel bad, but noticed a strange glint in her eyes. She was acting! He couldn't believe it. She had a small of desperation around her. This was not Hinata at all. It was her scent yes, but something was wrong. She grabbed his arm and looked at him with the fake eyes and false tears. He shook her off and snarled.

"Hinata! Something is wrong. You need to talk to someone. Put your clothes back on. I'm not gonna betray Naruto, just so you can get some kind of sexual high!" His vision suddenly swam and he found himself on the ground. He could hear Akamaru barking. He realized he had been slapped. When his vision finally focused he looked up to see Hinata putting her shirt and jacket back on.

"Fine!" She snapped down at him. "If you won't help me then I will find someone who will!" She started to storm away till his next words brought her up short.

"You do and I will tell Naruto. His nose is pretty good to you know. He will smell it on you." She looked back in shock and worry.

"B-But Kiba!" Her nervousness wasn't feigned this time.

"Don't 'but' me, your betraying Naruto. The guy who didn't leave your side the whole time you were in the hospital. Frankly. You disgust me Hinata." Kiba jumped on Akamaru's back and looked over at his team mate before leaping away. Hinata was crushed by the words. 'I've gotta find Kurenie-sensei and tell her what's going on.' He thought as he left the ally. He jumped to the roof tops and headed to her house.

In the ally Hinata just kept playing the scene over and over in her mind. 'How could I have done something like that? He's right I was going to betray Naruto-kun. I am disgusting!' She headed back to the Hyuuga compound, people dodged out of her way as she ran through the streets tears streaming down her face. When she got to the compound she ignored the worried questions of the guards and the servants and stumbled to her home. Her father and Hanabi tried to confront her as she ran through the front door, but she just pushed past them and ran to her room.

'Why do I feel this way? Why do I always need 'that''? She thought as she lay on her bed and hugged her pillow tightly. Eventually she got up and headed to her private bathing room. She stepping out of her clothes and sunk graciously into the steamy tub. The hot water soaking into her skin. Sniffling her tears still she picked up the soak and started to scrub. She scrubbed and scrubber harder. 'I'm so disgusting…' She ignored the raw feeling on her skin. 'Kiba-kun was right…I'm too disgusting! Why can't I ever feel clean anymore?' She tore at her skin with the rag till it was a light red as she started to bleed lightly. Finally she threw the rag and soap across the room and started to sob. 'Naruto-kun! I'm so sorry!' She hugged herself tightly, rocking back and forth in the misty room.

The sliding door to her room was open just a crack and Hanabi watched the scene silently. Her own tears making their way down her cheeks. "Sister…" She whispered. She needed to find Naruto-sensei.

-

--

-

"Well this has been fun." Kakashi said standing up. We can continue this another time, but for now Sasuke, we need to take you to see the Hokage. The entire room could see Sasuke stiffen at the proposition, but he reluctantly nodded.

"Don't worry Sasuke." Naruto said cheerfully. "I won't let then do anything bad to you." The Uchiha glared at the blond.

"I do not need your protection." He said. Sakura and Kakashi cringed.

"Yeesh! Don't be so touchy. I was just saying." Naruto replied.

"Then don't say." The two teens silently glared at each other before turning away. Kakashi sighed and rolled his eyes with Sakura. Some things never change, they both thought. Kakashi informed them that they would be taking a back way to the tower, to avoid most of the Chunnin patrols. When Naruto asked about ANBU Kakashi informed him that they would not confront them while he was in their company and that they would be informed of Sasuke's location soon enough anyways. Reluctantly the trio agreed with their old sensei and they left the apartment.

They were darting through the shadows when Naruto broached the subject and question they had all been wondering since Orochimaru's death.

"Sasuke. When you left to join that snake, did you really intent to have him steal your soul?"

"Of course not. Don't be more of an idiot by asking stupid questions."

"Hey! It isn't a stupid question!" Kakashi and Sakura side glanced to the blond. 'He didn't even defend himself being called an idiot' Sakura thought wryly.

"So why did you say you were then?" Naruto continued to hammer in the questions. They passed for a moment to let some locals pass.

"It was an act. A role. If Orochimaru thought for one moment that I wasn't sincere in my obligation to him He would have kept me caged till he was ready to take over my body and I wouldn't have been strong enough to stop him."

"Oooooh!" Naruto said as realization dawned on him. The other three just shook their heads at his slow mind.

"Yes 'ooooh'" Sasuke said sarcastically. They finally arrived at the tower. Sasuke took a long look at the five faces on the stone before following them. It was a quiet and solemn march towards her office. Each of them wondering what would happen and what would be said. Several chunnin gaped when they saw Sasuke, but no one said anything due to Kakashi's glare. They all knew that soon the word would be racing through the village that Sasuke was back. No one could really know if the population would be happy or angry to have him back.

They turned the final corner before Kakashi brought them to a halt and addressed the Uchiha.

"No matter what is said in there Sasuke you must swallow your pride. Do not speak unless the Fifth addressed you. This is going to be very delicate. She probably already knows that you are back. If you see Ibiki or any ANBU in there ignore them. They will be trying to get a response out of you and a negative one at that. Can you do this?" Sasuke nodded impatiently and waved the group forward.

Naruto ground his teeth as they got closer to the door. There were two ANBU guards on either side that blocked them from entering.

"We require that Uchiha Sasuke be confined in cuffs before entering Godaime-sama's presence." The one on the right spoke. Naruto thought the voice sounded vaguely familiar, but couldn't place it. Sakura took over at this point.

"He is confined by Chakra seals that you can confirm. He has minimal chakra and can not mold it properly. These are a better safe-guard that cuffs. I give you my word and will stake my life on Tsunade-sama's safety. Please let us pass." The two ANBU looked at each other and moved over to Sasuke, who stiffened under the scrutiny. The one who spoke performed a simple seal and lines around Sasuke's face and arms began to glow faintly confirming the seals. The group could feel the glares on the dark haired youth, but reluctantly opened the door to the Hokage's office and let them pass.

Kakashi lead the way followed by Sasuke. Naruto and Sakura brought up the rear. The only others in the room were Yamoto and Tsunade and Shizune. Thankfully Ibiki was not there at the moment and everyone eased slightly. The Fifth was going through some reports and signing a bunch of papers as they filed in a line in front of her. They stood quietly for a minute till she finished and put the pen down. She nodded to Shizune who took a stack and hurried out of the room. The Fifth finally looked at the group as the door closed and pursed her lips.

"So. The prodigy has returned." It was a statement and no one dared speak yet. "I must say, your nerve is astounding Sasuke. You betray us to join Orochimaru, you betray him to kill Itachi and join Akatsuki, and if what I believe is happening right now, you attacked Naruto this morning and are now betraying Akatsuki to join us. Yes very astounding indeed." She finished up, those violent eyes absorbing the Uchiha.

When she put it all that Naruto and Sakura shifted uncomfortably. It did sound bad indeed. Naruto started to step up, but Kakashi stopped him from ruining the situation.

"Godaime-sama." The masked jounin said. "What you say is true, Sasuke has indeed returned and wishes to beg admittance into our ranks." Tsunade didn't say anything, just continued to stare at the Uchiha. Sasuke couldn't take it anymore and shifted those dark pools of his away and hung his head slightly. A defeated foe he looked now rather than a conquering king.

"So you know humility." The master medic said. "That is a start I suppose. Your crimes are great and grave Uchiha Sasuke. I do not know you like your former comrades do. I am not as willing to take your word on good faith alone. Why have your returned?" Sasuke didn't say anything.

"SPEAK!" The Hokage's voice thundered as strong as one of her punched. Everyone flinched and Sasuke's head snapped up and met her eyes. Naruto wondered that he didn't break his neck from the fast and sudden movement.

"I…" Sasuke couldn't seem to form the words properly. "I left with unfinished business and without permission. I went a path that I felt had to be followed. I have returned to fix those mistakes and try to walk a proper path once more." Tsunade snorted.

"Pretty words from a pretty face. But that could apply to anything. For all we know that means you are hear to destroy the village."

"He isn't!" Naruto spoke up. He tried to get the Hokage's attention, but she seemed to ignore him, refusing to meet his eyes. "Let him tell you his story! It all makes sense! Listen to it." Tsunade once more ignored him to his great irritation.

"Your arrival here is very suspicious." She resumed. "Just last night Danzo and the Advisors were murdered. Indeed, Danzo seems to have been killed by a lightning Natured Jutsu. Almost as if Kakashi's Rakiri had been shoved through his chest. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that would you?" She was leaning forward over her desk with those eyes drilling into him while she spoke. Sasuke licked his lips, but his face contorted into a hateful visage as he replied.

"Yes. I killed them. I gladly killed them and would killed them 100 times over. Once for every Uchiha that was murdered by their orders!" Tsunade didn't seem that surprised, but none the less looked troubled by the news.

"Their orders? Are you saying that nine years ago Itachi killed your clan on the orders of Danzo and the advisors?" Sasuke nodded slowly. His face still a mask of hate and misery and defiance. "Preposterous. The Third would never have condoned an attack on an entire clan. His views were always of peace!"

"The Third was not aware of the attack until it happened. Afterwards he had no way to contradict or go against his own team mates and Danzo without risking a civil war in the village. So he pardoned them and condoned the massacre." Sasuke said. Tsunade looked pensive and sat back to think it over. She ran through what she knew of the events back then in her head. She was not in the village at that time and went over the parts of the files she remembered. She also remembered several inconsistencies that didn't seem to add up. A fire that was not put out, the mysterious relocation of Chunnin patrols. The lack of ANBU response. It all seemed very suspicious to her when she went over them after Sasuke left, but she had put them out of her mind until now. Slowly she began to see everything in a new light. She still didn't know why however.

"Why would they have ordered this? And how could they have convinced Itachi to go along with the plan?" She asked.

"That is a long story and will take some time to explain. But I will do my best." The others all took seats and watched as Sasuke stood in the center of the room to relate the tale.

He told them of the night he found his parents death and what Itachi had did and said to him. He told them of what he suspected, of how there must have been another to help him on the mission. His story took the better part of an hour. Of his fight with Itachi, of the oddness of the conversation. He regaled them with the tale of his waking up and meeting Madara and how the ancient Uchiha explained in whole the truth to him. His story finally ended with him coming to seek out Naruto to finish the battle that had taken place in the Valley of the End and how he had never intended to capture the nine-tails for Madara and how he sent Na'omi to look over the blond to keep her out of Madara's hands.

It was a very enlightening hour indeed for the gathered group. Everything seemed to be coming together. The forming of the village, the fight with Madara, the Bijuu and the nine tails attack, the creation of Naruto as a Jinkuurki. It was like one long pattern leading up to the present day. They could almost grasp the truth of the puzzle, but the key of it all was just out of reach. They were in awe however of Madara's patience and careful planning the past century. It was almost god-like in subtlety.

"Well." Tsunade said after it was finished. "That was certainly a tale. I believe that I will allow you this once chance at redemption. Make no mistake this is redemption we are speaking of Sasuke. You have many mistakes to make up for and a great deal of trust to earn if you wish to return fully to the Leaf. This is against my better judgment to allow you back. You did after all murder the advisors. Danzo was a traitor currently, but by our laws the Advisors followed them, if they did bend them in protecting the village against a possible uprising."

Sasuke's eyes narrowed at those words, but he did as Kakashi told him and didn't speak, but swallowed his pride.

"I do this mainly for Naruto's and Sakura's sake. They seem to have a great deal of trust in you and I in them. Uchiha Sasuke. You will be reinstalled with a probationary period not to exceed three years. You will be assigned a special Chunnin rank with the duties that it implies. You will patrol the village with a squad and will not leave the area without special permission and an escort. You will allow yourself to be tailed by a single ANBU specialist who will watch your moves until I deem otherwise. Three times a week for a period of three hours you will attend the academy and aid with the instruction of the students there. You will periodically be assigned missions and will be expected to inform us of anything you know regarding Akatsuki and Madara. Do you have any objections to these terms?" Her brow lifted at the question, as if daring him to say otherwise.

Everyone could see he was not pleased by the strict demands, but he nodded curtly.

"Good. Ibiki!" She shouted. Everyone flinched and Naruto rose in objection as the scared interrogator entered the room.

"Baa-chan!" Naruto protested, but she sliced a hand through the air silencing him.

"Do not worry. He will NOT harm Sasuke. Will you Ibiki?" He eyes pinned the pan in the doorway. He looked disgruntled, but nodded. "Sasuke, Ibiki will debrief you on everything you knew of Orochimaru and Akatsuki. He will not be using any harmful methods, but if will be able to tell if you are lying or holding anything back. It will be as if you are being debriefed after an especially long mission. Ok?" Sasuke nodded, still quietly accepting his role. He took a step back, bowed and walked out of the room with Ibiki, shutting the door behind him. Naruto smiled over at the Fifth and tried to thank her.

"Thanks Granny-Tsunade! You won't regret this! I have absolute faith in him!" Tsunade seemed to ignore that as well and still wouldn't meet his eyes. She looked instead at Yamoto. He nodded and walked over to stand behind Naruto. Kakashi noted this and, being the genius he was, knew that they were about to hear some bad news that might send Naruto into his tailed form. He motioned for Sakura to leave Naruto's side and come over by him. She looked at him curiously but complied and sat over in a chair leaving Naruto alone on the couch. The blond looked behind him and over at Kakashi and Sakura oddly.

"Eh?! What's going on? I feel like I'm about to get grilled like Sasuke was!" Kakashi and Sakura looked over at the Fifth who had her head bowed and was stalling for some reason. A terrible inkling began to invade Kakashi's mind. He was scared that he knew what had happened. Naruto however was getting slightly frustrated and stood up and walked over to the Hokage's desk.

"Baa-chan. What's going on? Why are you ignoring me?"

"I'm not Naruto." She said softly, still looking away.

"Then why haven't you looked at me once since we came in? Why can't you look me in the eyes?" He looked slightly angry.

"Please Naruto." She said compassionately. "Sit down." She braved meeting his eyes and he grew slightly nervous by the look in them. He hadn't ever seen that look from her before. He slowly walked over to the couch and sat down.

"Is this about Sasuke?" She shook her head softly. Naruto studied her face closely and looked behind him at Yamoto, who looked grim and couldn't meet his eyes either. He swiveled his head back towards the desk and the woman behind it. "What the hell's going on?" His hands tightened automatically, as if bracing for a blow.

Tsunade didn't think she would ever be able to get the words out. Her lower lips trembled and she couldn't stop her eyes from glassing up with unspilt tears. She saw that Naruto noticed her hesitation and he fidgeted while he waited for the news.

"Naruto." She said kindly. "It's about your mother." The room grew very still at the mention of Naruto's mother. Sakura suddenly understood and reached out blindly to grab Kakashi's Hand who bowed his head suddenly in grief. She immediately started to silently cry. She knew the look in her mentor's face, she had seen her deliver the sad news too many times, not to know what was going to be said.

Naruto however even stopped breathing. He was like a statue as he stared at Tsunade. When he finally started to breathe again. It was fast and heavy.

"Naruto…"Tsunade continued. "I'm afraid that she died this morning." She chocked out the words, almost unable to say them in her sorrow. Sakura sobbed suddenly and tried to get up to go to Naruto, but Kakashi held her down some reason. She looked over at him and he shook his head slightly. She could see a single tear escape his eyes as well.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" Naruto said savagely, red tinted eyes bore down on Tsunade like an avalanche. "This isn't a funny joke! You can stop right now. I don't like it."

"N-Naruto-" Tsunade began.

"Don't Naruto me you old bag! My mom is fine! She is home making some of that nasty food she makes me eat! I'll prove it to you!" He ran to the window and jumped out, heading to his village before anyone could stop him.

"Naruto!" Tsunade cried holding out her hand beseeching his fleeing form. "Yamoto! Go after him quickly! Don't let him leave your sight. Restrain him if you have to!" She ordered. He was already to the window as she finished the order and chased after the rather quick blond. She sat back at the desk and buried her face in her hands, letting her grief show. Sakura, who remembered the kind and mischievous red-head buried her face in Kakashi's shoulder and let loose the full volume of tears.

-

Naruto raced through the village as fast as he could. His breath laboring and his heard colliding against his chest. He saw nothing except with was in front of him. His vision tunneled in on his home. 'She is wrong. She is alive! She isn't dead.' He thought. His mind raging against the Fifth and this perverse game. 'She promised me and in my family we keep our promises!'

He landed in front of the house and dashed forward, kicking the door in and racing into the home.

"Mom! I'm home!" He ran to the kitchen to see it empty and silent. The house felt wrong in some way. He shook it off and ran upstairs past his room to his mother's "MOM!" He knocked her door open and franticly looked back and forth. His lip trembled and he walked over to the window and looked out into the garden. His one last hope. "Mom?" He got excited at a glint of red, till he saw it was just a bush with the sunlight reflecting off its leaves.

He collapsed on her bed, shaking his head back and forth. "No…no…no No NO NO NO!" He picked up a pillow and threw it across the room. It exploded in a cloud of feathers and Naruto fell to his knees on the floor.

"You promised me." He whispered. Is body shook and he felt the demon's chakra begin to boil up and envelope him. He ignored it and tried to find some way that Baa-chan was lying. He arched his back and raised his head as he fast spiraled out of control. His canines cracked and elongated and his eyes and moth took on a sinister outline and appearance. Slowly his skin started to peal away layer by layer by the powerful chakra.

He was just forming his fourth tail when Yamoto entered the upstairs bedroom. Cursing at how late he was He quickly put his hands together and summoned his Keke Genkai. Thick wooden beams erupted from the ground floor and shot through the ceiling to wrap themselves around Naruto. Quickly he switched it into the mode needed to restrain a Bijuu's chakra and started to apply the force to the red cloak that was half developed. Slowly, painstakingly he pushed it back, but it seemed much harder that ever. It was like Naruto was fighting him and wanted to become the demon fox.

Long minutes passed and Yamoto grunted, falling to his knees from the concentration needed, his Chakra pools almost depleted. He was almost there, but he might not make it. Naruto's hand shot up and trie4d to reach one of the pillars surround him to try and break them, but the ANBU's chakra prevented him from moving out of the center or touching anything. The blond was almost fully viable now and with a snap the chakra shield broke and the boy fell unconscious on the ground.

Yamoto gasped and fell on his hands and knees, breathing like he had just sprinted a hundred miles. "You were a tough one today weren't you Naruto?" he knew the blond was out, but still spoke out loud. It's going to be ok Kid. We will take care of you." He touched his finger to the side of his neck activating his wireless radio. He informed base to tell he Hokage that Naruto was safe and sound and that he was bringing the boy to the hospital. He gathered his strength and lifted the blond up, blood still oozing from his fractured skin.

"God you're a heavy one." Yamoto said as he left the house holding Naruto. He walked through the streets, not having the energy to run. Several people questioned him, but he ignored them stating it was a private matter. He was almost there when an unwelcome voice rang out.

"Naruto-kun!" he turned his head slightly to see Hyuuga Hinata running towards them. Her face was in shock and worry as she closed in on the pair. "W-What happened? Naruto-kun? Wake up?" She reached out to take the blond, but Yamoto pulled away.

"It would be best if he didn't wake up right now Hyuuga-san. He has had a very emotional morning and he needs rest and aid." She didn't seem to understand and bit her lip as she started to cry.

"I-I don't understand! W-What happened?" She beseeched the man she had only met a few times before during Naruto's training. He thought it over and figured regardless she would hear it anyways from someone else he told her.

"His mother was killed this morning."

"Oh no! Kushina-sama?" He face took on a horrified look. He nodded sadly at the young woman. Hinata tried to reach out again to Naruto, but again Yamoto stopped her.

"It is best if he gets immediate care. He will need to be sedated for a little while so he can rest properly. I must go quickly Hyuuga-san. I am sure you will be able to visit him soon. He will need all the support he can get."

Hinata reluctantly nodded and ran to get the door for the under-cover ANBU. He gave his thanks and took Naruto inside. It didn't take long for the hospital staff to usher him into a room and lay the boy on a bed. Sakura soon appeared and immediately took over. In seconds it seemed Naruto was stripped, set under some sheets and had an IV and some monitors attached to him. Sakura seemed to be a wreak, but focused all her attention on her friend. Yamoto took a seat in an out of the way corner and sat back. This was going to be a tedious assignment

-

An hour after Naruto was brought into the hospital Tsunade made her way to his room. As she rounded the corner in the hallway where he was staying she was immediately accosted by dozens of voices and faces swimming in a sea of concern. She made could make out Hinata and Hanabi. Nejii and Lee. Konoharmaru and his team. Ino and Shikamaru. In face most of the rookie 9 where there except for Kiba. She tried to raise her voice above their questions, but it went unheeded. Finally she had to resort to slapping the wall to silence the group. It did and very quickly at that. She always marveled how a little bit of violence could calm or clear a room.

"Before you all flap those mouths of yours I do not know anything. I am just now arriving. Once I know for sure what is wrong I will of course inform you all. In the mean time move out of my way before I move you. The path was cleared quickly, but she could hear the unspoken questions and concerns in the air. Shaking her head she walked into Naruto's room to be greeted by a heart breaking sight. The boy was unconscious from what she could only suspect was a consequence of being pulled forcefully out of his tailed form. She saw Yamoto in the corner taking a nap to the quiet humming of medical monitors. Sakura was in a seat by his side, watching him intently. She glanced up at her mentor and shook her head slightly.

Tsunade walked around to the IV and checked the medication. She raised her brows significantly at the heavy dosage he was receiving.

"Quiet the sedative you are using Sakura." She said quietly, looking down at the pink haired kunoichi.

"I had to. Anything less and his body just shrugs it off. Yamoto-sensei said that he went into his tailed form. He hasn't the strength to stop him again for awhile so I dared not take any chances of him waking up."

"I wouldn't worry about that. With what you have him on if he does wake him he is liable to think himself a monkey and climb the walls. Still it is a prudent move and won't harm him. Good work." Sakura just nodded at the compliment rather than the usual blush she showed. "How is he however?"

"Not good. His cranial functions were off the charts; his chakra coils were a mess and are still recovering. From what I can tell he is having a full mental collapse and if he wakes up it would only be complete."

"You're probably right." The master-medic replied taking off her coat and slipping on some plastic gloves. She went over and performed a single seal and pressed a glowing hand to his forehead. After a minute or so she ended the examination and shook her head sadly. "We are going to have to gradually bring him around over the next couple days. He needs to become lucid slowly so that the shock of his loss is spread out rather than abrupt. That should aid in keeping him out of his tailed form and in control of his mental facilities. I expected him to take the news hard, but not this hard."

"That's Naruto." Sakura said sadly, wiping away a stray tear. "I think it's more the fact that it is right on the heels of Jiraiya-sama's death and the fact that he just got her back only to lose her. It would be hard for anybody, but Naruto had always held onto his bonds far tighter than anyone else. He still misses Jiraiya. He doesn't talk about it at all, but every now and then he will get that far away look in his eyes, and I know he is thinking of him. He was like Naruto's father."

Tsunade nodded and laid a hand on the sitting medic's shoulder. They both stared down at the blond. "Stay here with him Sakura. I will go let the crowd outside know that he is ok." Sakura nodded absently and went back to her silent vigil.

Tsunade walked back outside, into the hall and everyone rose from their seats. "He is going to be just fine." She told the group. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and the barrage of questions came again. She raised her hand and they quieted down after a few seconds. "As to the reason he is in the hospital it seems he had a small mental break down. Early this morning his mother, Namikaze Kushina was slain by an Akatsuki agent." Everyone in the room gasped. Tsunade noted that Hinata seemed to already know and was hanging her head looking forlornly at the door to Naruto.

"Was the enemy capture or killed in retaliation?" Nejii asked her. Tsunade nodded.

"Kushina-san was able to defeat the woman. From the reports we got her name was Konon, one of the top Nin in their hierarchy. That she was defeated is a good thing, but I for one feel that Kushina's death was far too high a price to pay for the victory." The fifth stated. Everyone nodded in agreement.

"Go-Godaime-sama." Hinata hesitantly stepped forward, her hands wrung in anxious concern. "May we visit him?" Tsunade shook her head.

"Not everyone. I will let you and Sakura stay by his side, but everyone else must visit in shifts of 2s every hour. I warn you though he will not bounce back from this like he does physical injuries. It is his mind and emotions that have been hurt. He will be here for several days, maybe longer. If ANYONE-" She stared at Hinata in particular. "-interrupts his rest then no one will be allowed at his side. Is this understood?" everyone nodded in agreement.

"Good, now register with the nurse for visiting appointments. Hinata, it is ok for you to enter now, but stay quiet and do not bug Sakura or any of the medics who come in." Hinata nodded eagerly and rushed into the room, silently closing the door behind her. The group moved off and fought over who would get to see the blond first. Tsunade smiled fondly at the long line of friends the boy had and spoke to a nurse with some instructions for his treatment. She left the hospital to find Kakashi and Ibiki falling in quietly on either side of her.

"Well?"

"The Uchiha was most informative. He held nothing back and told us a great deal." Ibiki said.

"I assigned Rotaro-san to keep watch over him." Kakashi added. "He will most likely move back into the Uchiha compound. I advised him to find something closer to the heart of the city however. He would be alone out there, should Madara come calling for him. Any help might get there too late." Tsunade kept walking and looked over to the masked Jounin.

"Can we really trust him?" She asked. Kakashi nodded.

"I think so. There was too much strange behavior in his actions that lead me to believe that he always intended to try and return here at some point in time. Besides with the curse seal he really didn't have much of a choice but to go after Orochimaru. It was either that or risk dying or becoming chakra handicapped."

"I agree." Ibiki said. "The boy's story is very clean and reasonable. Not too reasonable or it would be suspect, but from everything we knew and what he said It is kind of like he voluntarily left to be a double agent. If we need to, that can be the story to tell the citizens should too many questions be asked.

"Very well. Ibiki, make sure that ANBU is fully informed of the situation and to keep a sharp eye out. Kakashi I want you to begin to work on a defensive plan to protect him. From what Naruto told us, Madara will come after Sasuke's eyes sooner or later. If he comes himself then the seals that Naruto placed in the village should allow us to defeat him, however he will most likely send a strike team. Make something work and have it submitted within three days. Now leave me." The two men nodded and went their separate ways.

-

Hinata jerked awake from a bad dream she was having. Wearily she wiped her eyes and remembered that she was in the hospital at Naruto's side. The room was dark except for the pale glow of the monitors softly beeping again and again. Those beeps were soothing however. They assured her that her boy-friend was alright. Sakura had gone home for the night and Hinata was there alone. Earlier her father came by with Hanabi to pay their respects and he urged her to go home and come back the next day. She steadfastly refused and he soon gave up.

The room was full of flowers. It was an endless parade of visitors all day long. Shino's visit wasn't the best however. He told her that Kiba refused to come while she was there. He didn't understand why and tried to press her for the details of what happened between the two, but she refused to say anything. She was thankful that Kiba didn't tell him anything, but she was absolutely sure that Kurenai-sensei knew however. The older Jounin looked at her in shame and concern and asked to speak with her in private. Hinata was able to dodge the talk, but could tell what it would have been about just with the look in her eyes. She wanted to kill Kiba for telling their sensei about this. Kurenai-sensei was pregnant and didn't need to deal with that so soon after losing Asuma. She really did not want to start thinking about the ally and what she tried to do so she shoved it out of her mind and instead concentrated on Naruto's face.

Even when sleeping he seemed sad. A moon beam fell across his mouth highlighting the frown that lit his features. She reached out and tucked a stray lock of his hair that had fallen over his forehead.

"We will get through this Naruto…" She wasn't sure exactly which situation she meant. Their lives had been a roller-coaster the past several weeks. One attack and crisis after another seemed to fall on them. Their lives were moving so fast neither had much time to settle down and think about everything. A face reared up in her mind. An orange spiraled mask and a hideous red eye. She shuddered and forced the mental image away.

Hinata looked at the window and got up to look outside. The village seemed calm despite all the trouble the past 24 hours. A few lights were lit and she could make out a few of the night life citizens hanging out around the bars. 'I wonder what it's like.' She thought. 'Not to be a ninja and just to live a regular life. No fighting over death all the time.'

"Very boring I would expect." Hinata squeaked and jumped about a foot in the air she twisted around to see her sensei in the doorway. She placed a hand over her racing heart and took deep breaths to calm herself.

"S-Sensei! You frightened me." Hinata said softly. Kurenai just smiled a bit and looked over at Naruto.

"I'm sorry. I expected you to notice me. How is he doing?" Hinata sighed and went back to her chair and took his hand.

"The same. They have him sedated at the moment. They are going to start to wake him up slowly tomorrow." The room was silent for a moment and Kurenai walked closer to the Hyuuga.

"Do you really want that Hinata?" her sensei asked. She grew nervous and looked away.

"Of-of course I do. Why wouldn't I?"

"You tell me Hinata. Kiba told me what happened in the ally today."

Hinata blushed a deep red and hung her head, trying to bury herself in her coat.

"I-I don't know what you mean S-Sensei."

"You have never lied before Hinata. You shouldn't start. You aren't very good." The genjutsu user gingerly took a seat in an empty chair, her hand delicately over her bulging stomach. Hinata started to get annoyed and started to feel the same urge return whenever she got angry lately.

"W-With all do re-respect sensei. It is my own affair." She protested.

"You tried to sleep with a team mate Hinata. It is very out of character for you. So I'd say that it is my affair when your actions threaten to cause a rift in the group." Neither of them noticed a certain blonds' eyes that were open very slightly. They didn't hear his breathing pick up faster or the frown that deepened on his mouth.

Hinata didn't reply. She had no words to rebuke the Jounin instructor.

"Well?" Kurenai pressed on. "There is obviously something going on. Obviously something is wrong Hinata."

"I-I-I…" She couldn't get the words out correctly. Didn't want to say the words correctly. Her mind worked franticly to come up with something, anything but the truth. "I don't want to talk about it." She finally replied.

"And what about Naruto? Kiba is torn between loyalty towards you and telling him."

"No!" Hinata yelled and then winced and lowered her voice. "He can't! Oh sensei he just can't! Naruto-kun would never understand and I would just die if he broke up with me!"

"I am not feeling very sympathetic Hinata. My emotions are crazy right now with this baby and they keep bouncing around like a pin ball." Kurenai looked at the silver eyes that seemed to shimmer with unshed tears and finally gave in with a tired sigh.

"Hinata. You're obviously not recovered yet from your ordeal. You need to speak with someone about your feelings." She urged her student. Hinata just took on a stubborn expression, her timidity and worry gone in an instant. Yes a very troubled and different Hinata.

"No. I am fine. I do not need to talk to anyone about…that." She had to shudder and push that face out of her mind again. Kurenai noted the look of revulsion on the young woman's face and felt a great deal of pity, despite what she said earlier.

"Yes you do. If you don't then it will only get worse. It changed you Hinata. Everyone can see it and what happened with Kiba is only he beginning. If you try to ignore what happened you will probably lose Naruto all on your own without Kiba's help." Hinata still had that mulish look on her face and Kurenai ground her teeth in frustration. "Look-"

"No sensei. I just made a mistake today and it won't happen again. If Kiba or you whisper one word of this to Naruto then our friendship really will be finished and I will never speak to any of you again." Kurenai sighed again.

"Don't you see Hinata? Even this isn't you. You have become cold in some way. I know it had to be hard and what happened to you unimaginable, but you must talk about it to move past it."

"W-What happened to me is just another day in the life of a shinobi Kurenai-sensei. T-Thank You for your concern, b-but I am fine." Kurenai looked long and hard at the young woman. She saw what Kiba has talked about. The new timidness was an act. Most likely her way to keep the darkness at bay and try to regain some measure of herself. The girl was falling and she wouldn't reach for the rope. She shook her heard and left the room without saying a word.

Hinata narrowed her eyes and scowled at the fleeing form. "How dare she get into my personal life." She muttered softly. "It isn't her business with who I sleep with." She turned back to Naruto and her face softened and she took his hand back and stoked his cheek.

"But you're my love Naruto. And when you wake up, you can satisfy me again and I won't have to go looking for anyone else." She smiled and laid her head down on the bed to go to sleep. She didn't see the blue eyes peek open for a second to stare at her before closing again.

-

--

-

Sakura giggled at Sasuke who was walking beside her with an obviously irritated expression on his face. They made him wear a chunnin vest and sent him to the Academy his first day back.

"I am not good with kids." He said for the fifth time.

"You have never even worked with kids I bet." Sakura replied.

"Because I am not good with them. They are annoying."

"Oh lighten up already. If I remember right everything was annoying to you."

"I would rather be stuck watching the main gate than listen to the endless chatter of brats."

"Then scare them into shutting up so they listen." He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and gave a slight nod. The advice had some merit. He tried to ignore the stares of the town's people and some of the shinobi that they passed. Some were relieved and excited and some were suspicious and spiteful. Still he carried himself with clan pride and head held high. He met a few of the more vocal villagers with a cold unblinking state that quickly shut them up.

"I don't see why I have to wear this silly vest." He said picking at the ugly green thing.

"Then don't. Take it off so I won't have to hear yet another complaint." Sakura fast running to the end of her rope with Sasuke's whining. He ignored her sarcastic tone.

"They made me wear the thing as part of my so called punishment."

"Oh rubbish. Kakashi just wanted to see if he could actually get you into one of those things. It isn't mandatory at all, just advised." Sakura had a slight smile on her face as she saw Sasuke's disbelieving stare out the corner of her eye. He wasted no time with the knowledge and quickly unstrapped and unbuckled the bulking green mass and tossed it up to the ANBU on a rooftop that had been tailing him since last night. The masked man started in surprise and barely caught the thing. He said something rather rude that neither could make out and threw the thing away. Sakura noted the smirk Sasuke held as he ruffled out his white shirt.

She did manage to get him to take off the insane rape around his waste and gave him a purple sash to wear instead. He tried to protest, but when she cut the rope in two no amount of words would help that, so it grudgingly put it on. She couldn't help but take a good look at him while they walked. He still had some bandages on from his fight yesterday morning with Naruto. She wasn't there, but she saw the field and heard some of the forces used when she was fighting Karin. He was still recovering well since there was no serious damage and posed a striking figure. He had grown taller and far more handsome in his late teens. She could now tell what he would look like as a full adult and she liked what she saw.

"I am surprised the dobe' isn't here to rub this in my face." Sasuke said interrupting her thoughts. She stopped suddenly in shock. He obviously didn't know. He turned back to her and noted the sad expression. "What is it?"

"Naruto is in the hospital right now." Sasuke raised a brow at the news.

"I was not aware that I had injured him so badly." He felt pleased at the idea that Naruto was hurt as well.

"It wasn't you!" Sakura snapped. She looked down and continued to walk, forcing him to move along side her. "His mother was killed yesterday morning by a woman named Konon, he went into a kind of mental breakdown and the Kyuubi almost escaped. He is being heavily sedated till he can cope with the trauma."

Sasuke looked stunned. "I did not know that." Never the less he resumed that cold callous face he always wore. "From what I was told before being sent here Konon was only supposed to lure Uzimaki Kushina away and not attempt to harm her at all." Sakura gasped and rounded on him.

"You knew?!" She clenched her first ready to punch him. He put his hands up in a calming gesture.

"I was not aware that she was in danger or I would not have fought Naruto. I would not wish anyone's mother to die. I can only imagine what it would feel like to have my mother returned to me only to die again. I assure you that I would have let Naruto know of the battle so he could have gone to her aid."

Sakura reluctantly unclenched her fist and continued at a brisk pace. Sasuke didn't seem fazed by her actions or attitude at all. He was a conundrum of attitudes. At times he was almost like when they were team mates and other times he spoke and acted like he did when they fought at Orochimaru's. Emotionless and arrogant. Like he was two different people struggling to become one and balance themselves. She didn't really like either she realized. She couldn't seem to recapture those feelings she used to have for him. He was a loved and cherished friend and she would die for him, but romantically the idea didn't appeal to her at all now.

She gave a wry sigh and wondered if she would ever find a guy that she liked and liked her back. Her mind went briefly to Naruto and quickly skirted away. That would be a disaster waiting to happen even if he was single and not taken by Hinata. He was totally clueless and she did need someone with a bit more flare and consideration. Her thoughts were pulling towards the grunts and yells of a bunch of children as they entered the Academy courtyard. She giggled as she saw Sasuke visibly stiffen and grind his teeth at the sound.

"You really need this apparently Sasuke." She told him. He turned to her with a frown and tilted his head.

"Why do you think that?" He asked.

"Because you obviously don't have much patience if you are already annoyed. It will be good for you. Think of it as training. You must infiltrate a camp of children and win them away from the vile teaching of their tyrannical masters!" She gave him s slap on the shoulder to match his scowl.

"Well I have been called many things in my time, but tyrannical isn't one of them!" A voice said off to the side. They both turned to see Iruka walking up to them. "So you are back eh Sasuke? And you're to be my assistant! Excellent." He was smiling, but his eyes betrayed his real emotions. Sakura and Sasuke could both tell that Iruka did not want him here at all and had probably advised against it. Sasuke was just about to open his mouth and say something when a young voice shouted for Sakura.

"Sakura-sama! Sakura-sama!" the Kunoichi looked past Iruka to see Hanabi and another dark haired boy running up to the trio. Sakura gave a smile and nodded at the students.

"Hanabi. Goro. How are you today?" She said. Goru was about to respond but Hanabi gushed her question out.

"How is Naruto-sensei?" She asked breathlessly. Sasuke arched a brow at the 'sensei' business.

"He was stable this morning Hanabi-san. He is still under heavy medication though and isn't very coherent." Hanabi looked crestfallen and wrung her hands.

"When can we talk to him? They were not allowing anyone to visit him this morning and I have to talk to him!"

"I don't know yet. That is up to Naruto and how well he is able to cope with his loss. I am sure whatever it is can wait till he is feeling better."

"But it can't!" The young Hyuuga said. "I must speak with him! He is the only one who can help!" Sakura and Iruka frowned at her odd behavior. Hanabi was usually very reserved and aloof. To see her this wound up, even for Naruto was very odd.

"What is wrong? Maybe we can help you." Iruka said with concern in his voice. Hanabi just pursed her lips and shook her head.

"No. Naruto-sensei is the only one." She stamped her foot and ran back to the class. Goro, who was silent during the whole exchanged just shrugged and left after her.

"Well that was odd." Iruka said after a moment. Sakura nodded in agreement, but Sasuke couldn't hold his tongue anymore.

"Naruto-sensei?" He asked. Sakura cringed a bit and Iruka laughed.

"Yeah." The instructor said. "She had her father press for Naruto to become her jounin instructor. No one is very sure Naruto is ready for that yet. He says he is and the Hokage agreed to let him have a team, but with what has happened lately, that may be revoked."

"I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to be trained by Naruto." Sasuke said doubtfully. "He has grown strong, but I'm not so sure he is smart enough or cautious enough to look after three kids." Sakura and Iruka had to laugh at this and both voiced their agreement.

"Anyways Sasuke." Iruka got down to business. "Follow me. I will show you to the class room. You will be teaching a second level class how to mold chakra." Sasuke huffed at the tedious task, but voiced no objections. Sakura bade the two a good day and promised to meet Sasuke later on at the hospital. He agreed to go see Naruto and she would be able to get him in to see the blond.

As they got close to the classroom the instructor turned to Sasuke for a moment and stopped in the hallway. "These kids you will be teaching are not like your class was. They aren't as advanced or show the potential that the rookie nine did. I expect you to show them some courtesy and patience. They will not get the basics down in a day. Also remember that the best in the class usually isn't the mold to compare the students to. Find the middle ground and someone slightly above that average to push those who are behind to do better. Show no favoritism and don't let them walk over you."

Sasuke nodded impatiently and Iruka lead him into the noisy classroom. The kids who were chatting ignored the entrance of the adults and kept up with their horse play. Iruka had to shout several times to get their attention and slowly the class got into order and returned to their proper seats. He cleared his voice and addressed them.

"Class, you will have a new instructor that will be taking over my duties for awhile. He is a very skilled Shinobi and I expect you all to show him the same respect that you show me." He waited for a response and saw several kids cringe in their seats and gulp. He looked back to see Sasuke leaning against the black board with a scowl and look of disgust on his face as he eyes the students. Iruka gritted his teeth, but did as the Hokage advised and gave Sasuke a free hand. He looked out a window to make sure his ANBU guard was watching outside.

"Very well I introduce you to Uchiha Sasuke. You will refer to him as Sasuke-sensei. Is this understood?" The class nodded quietly. He gave a nod to the Uchiha and whispered a good luck to him and left the room.

Sasuke walked towards the center of the room and surveyed his little kingdom. He did like the sound of the sensei business a great deal. As the silence extended one impetuous girl finally stood up and pointed at him.

"What's with that stare? You don't scare us!" The class started to laugh as the tension broke, but cut off abruptly when Sasuke was suddenly looming over the girl faster than their eyes could follow. The girl squeaked and fell back into her chair, her eyes wide with fright.

"Would you like to repeat that statement?" Sasuke asked quietly. Those black eyes boring into hers. She shook her quickly and gulped. He looked at her a moment longer until he was satisfied and strode back down the stairs towards the center of the room.

"As I 'HOPE' you are all aware Chakra is the life-force energy that runs through all living things. With it you can do almost anything you set your mind to. From moving at great speeds to jumping to far heights to even walking on water." He reached the blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk. With it he drew a vague picture of a body and made some lines moving through it.

"Chakra moves through special coils that run along your nerves and blood stream. Beginning now I will be attempting to teach you how to direct Chakra with your will. This is the most important basis for any Shinobi. Without chakra you can not fight and defeat your opponent. Without chakra you can not perform any jutsu or taijutsu adequately. Any questions so far?" He looked back and one boy raised his hand slightly.

"Yes?"

"How can we direct our chakra? If it is like your blood and we can't make that move how we want it to then how can we with chakra?" Sasuke already sighed at the stupidity of the group.

"Chakra is not like your blood. It just runs of similar paths. You will always have an abundance of excess chakra that your body does not use to stay alive. I will show you how to harness that energy through the use of body stances and hand seals. Hand seals automatically mold your chakra for you in the pattern you need, it is up to your will power to push and direct your chakra how you want it. Now attend and watch." The group paid vast attention to their scary instructor and hung on every word.

Outside the room Iruka watched from the door window till he was satisfied and then headed back to his own class that was probably out of control or already scattered across the city. 'They get younger and better all the time.' He thought as he entered the courtyard once more. He growled and yelled out at the scene.

"Goro! Get off him! Santo! Wake up!" He continued to scream orders and instructions, attempting to get his own class under control. He was starting to wish he had it in his heart to be as cold as Sasuke so he could scare them into order. Through the chaos he never noticed that Hanabi was no where in the yard.

-

--

-

Hanabi crept through the hallways. The floor was deserted thanks to the precautions of keeping Naruto separated from the general patients. They couldn't take the chance of a tailed form hurting people just by the release of its chakra. Hanabi was not aware of this however. She just counted herself lucky that the floor was empty. She needed to speak to Naruto-sensei right away. She had tried to talk to Nejii and her father, but both were dense as far as she was concerned. They refused to believe that a Hyuuga could be having emotional problems and dismissed her as a child with flights of fancy. Naruto was her only option left.

She peeked around the corner into Naruto's hallway. She didn't see anyone, but she couldn't be sure. Concentrating her chakra into her eyes she released her Doujutsu and scanned the area. She was soon glad that she did. Naruto's room held two other people in it. She could tell it was her sister and Sakura. They could be in there for hours Hanabi realized and ran through a list of options she had. One way or another she had to get her sister out of the room for awhile. Thankfully she got a positively marvelous idea in her mind. One she thought would be perfect. Instead of skulking she walked confidently down the hall, betraying the flutters in the pit of her stomach. She reached the door and knocked softly, dispelling her Byakugan. She heard foot steps from the room and the door swung open to reveal a surprised Sakura.

"Hanabi." Sakura said scornfully. "I told you that you are not allowed in here. Whatever it is, you must wait until he is feeling better." They both knew who she was talking about.

"I am sorry Sakura-sama, but my father has requested Hinata-chan's presence at once. I was told to come immediately." She licked her lips a bit and tried to appear contrite. Sakura dropped her voice even lower so that Hinata wouldn't overhear.

"Is that so? So your father went past the hospital to the academy to get you out of class just to come all the way back here to tell Hinata to meet him?" She arched a brow. Hanabi went pale. She hadn't considered that. She saw that Sakura noted her reaction and nodded, crossing her arms and tapping her foot impatiently.

"H-Hai. Sakura-sama. He could not waste time here and had to prepare for a personal clan matter. He sent a messenger to deliver the request to me." She hoped that would work.

"Yes again the message to you rather than here at the hospital. I am sorry Hanabi, but you can not see him yet." She started to close the door.

"No!" her voice rose a bit and winced, but it stayed Sakura's hand a bit. "Please." She lowered her voice to the barest whisper. "Something is wrong with my sister. Naruto-sensei would do anything for her. He would put aside his own grief to help her. I can't tell him while she is there. Oh please help me! Please let me in!" She almost went to her knees begging the powerful medic so hard. Sakura hesitated and looked over her shoulder at Hinata who was still sitting by Naruto's side, oblivious to everything around her. She looked back and studied the beseeching young Hyuuga girl. It was against her better judgment, but she too had noticed that something was off with Hinata. She gave a slight nod and a wink to Hanabi and stepped aside to let her in the room.

Hanabi almost leapt for joy, but wisely restrained herself. She stepped quietly into the stark white room. She almost cried at seeing the despairing state her idol was in. Naruto was sitting up in bed staring up at the ceiling. His eyes lost in some dark thought, looking for all the world like he wished he were dead. It was heart-breaking to see the once powerful ninja reduced to something like this. She prayed that when all this passed she would never see it again.

"Ane-san…"She said softly looking at her big sister who was sitting in a chair next to the bed. Hinata swiveled her heard and looked at Hanabi in surprise. She smiled pleasantly for her.

"Imouto-san. Thank you for coming to visit. It means a lot to Naruto-kun." She smiled and looked back at the blond fondly. Hanabi struggled to work up the nerve for her plan. If Hinata ever found out it would forever cause a rift that had only recently been healed.

"I am sorry to disturb you in your time of grief." She figured it would be best to be formal when delivering a fake message. "But father requests your presence immediately." It wasn't exactly a lie. She had heard their father remark about Hinata's late night vigil with the Naruto boy. Hopefully she would be lucky and he would mistakenly cover for her when Hinata arrived without being summoned. Hinata looked startled and then stubborn.

"I am sorry Hanabi, but I must stay by his side like he did mine. He needs me."

"I understand Imouto-san, but he was insistent that you take some time away from the hospital to see him. I am sure it won't take long. I would be willing to wait by his side until you return." She tried to purse her lips to look the part of an imperious messenger. Hinata bit her lip, torn between family and love. Thankfully Sakura decided to aid Hanabi in her little deceit.

"I am sure it will be fine Hinata. You should go, if only to get some fresh air."

"B-but-"

"It's ok Hinata." Sakura said. "It really is. Go to your father. Your family needs you as well."

Hinata thought about it for a bit and sighed, giving in. Hanabi's heart skipped a beat that she was successful in her plan. Now the hard part came she knew. Getting Naruto-sensei out of his stupor to help his girl friend. Hinata picked up her brown coat and slung it over her arm. She hadn't changed since yesterday morning. Sakura put a hand on her arm to stop her for a moment and leaned over to whisper in her ear.

"While you are at home, why don't you freshen up and change into a nice kimono. Naruto always said that he liked seeing you in them." Hinata brightened at the idea.

"Hai! That is a good idea. Thank you!" She grinned and raced out of the room, much to Hanabi's relief. Sakura however turned to the young student with a steely glare.

"Ok Hanabi. I helped you in your little plot, but this had better be worth it." Hanabi looked between the Kunoichi and Naruto uncertainly. Sakura just shook her head.

"Uh uh. I am staying. You involved me in this and Hinata is my friend to." She tapped her foot impatiently and motioned with her head towards the despairing jounin. Hanabi gave a reluctant nod and walked over to Naruto and took his hand gently.

"Naruto-sensei?" She said gently. "It's me Hanabi." No response. He just kept looking up at the ceiling.

"Don't expect much Hanabi." Sakura said. "He is on some heavy sedatives still. It isn't very lucid at the moment. Hanabi firmed up her resolve and gave Naruto a little shake.

"Naruto-sensei. It's Hanabi. Please look at me. I need your help. Hinata needs your help." She waited a moment and repeated her words. Slowly he turned his head and those lost blue eyes met hers finally. She smiled slightly.

"Go away…" He said in a broken and uncaring voice. Both girls winced a bit, but Sakura was happy that he gave some acknowledgement for the first time since this morning.

"I can't. I know your hurting right now sensei." Hanabi pressed on. "But Hinata really does need your help. You see there is something wrong with her. Something in her mind. You're the only one that can help her." Naruto blinked a couple of times and took some breaths.

"What do you mean Hanabi?" Sakura smiled from the corner, happy that the young Hyuuga was having such a positive affect on the blond.

"I-I saw her bathing yesterday. Something was wrong though. She just kept scrubbing at her skin till it was bleeding. Then she started to cry really bad and saying how disgusting and dirty she was." Sakura stood straighter and frowned immediately. She had heard of cases like this and it was never good to treat. She took a few steps to stand on the other side of the bed and looked with concern at the pretty silver eyed girl.

"Hanabi." She said. "Have you seen anything else or heard her say anything that she normally wouldn't?" She asked. Hanabi just shook her head.

"I'm sorry Sakura-sama, but that is the only time, but Hinata has never been that bad!" She looked back at Naruto, who resumed his staring. "Please sensei. You have to talk to her and help her!" She pleaded with her eyes and soul at him.

"No." The two girls gasped at his words. Naruto never just abandoned friends. Especially Hinata, no matter the circumstances.

"Naruto…" Sakura said putting her hand on his, which he snatched away.

"Leave me alone. Everyone just leave me alone." Hanabi started to cry and opened her mouth, but a hand from Sakura stopped her. With a slight shake of her head she walked around and took the girl by her shoulder and started to lead her away.

"Sakura." Naruto said. The two kunoichi stopped and turned around to look at him. He was still staring up at the ceiling as he spoke to her.

"I don't want Hinata in here anymore." Hanabi and Sakura both widened their eyes at this request. Hanabi knew she was going to be in big trouble. All her hopes and plans failed, she misplaced her trust in her once-future sensei. She really didn't want him to lead her anymore.

"But why Naruto?" The pink haired medic asked.

"Ask Kiba or Kurenai" He returned and rolled over facing his back to them and hugged his pillow. "I'm sure they will be happy to tell you. Now go away."

"Naru-" Hanabi started to say, but a snap of his voice and a flare of some kind of vile feeling chakra stopped her. Suddenly from behind the curtain on the other side of the room a man she didn't even know was there peeked out and looked at the blond for a moment. Hanabi looked back at Naruto and saw that he was moaning and some weird red aura started to envelope him. A feeling of impending destruction started to wash over her and she fell to her knees as the evil wave of intent. Sweat poured from her body and she started to shake in uncontrollable fear. She barely registered the man behind the curtains flinging them open and clasping his hands together. She would vaguely remember the wooden beams that suddenly came up from the ground and she would forget all together how Sakura picked her up and took her quickly out of the hospital. She would, however, remember all through her life that horrible feeling that washed over her in that room. She would always be careful never to anger Naruto ever again.

When she finally came to her senses she was outside and Sakura had a hand on her forehead.

"Are you ok Hanabi-san?" She asked pensively. The Hyuuga just nodded absently, trying to wrap her mind around that dreadful encounter.

"What was that Sakura-sama? It felt awful."

"It was just a side affect of his feelings. Sometimes when a person is in a real dark place their chakra can take on their feelings. Right now Naruto feels really bad and probably doesn't care if anyone else feels bad either."

"But what was that red chakra? That isn't normal. I have never seen red chakra before." Sakura slapped her playfully on the back of the head.

"That isn't any of your business. Everyone has their secrets and you don't need to know all of Naruto's. Lets just say it's a weapon he has that went out of control ok?" Hanabi looked at the medic doubtfully but nodded anyways.

"He will be ok won't he?"

"Yes he will be fine. We are equipped to deal with this. Now run along home. Your class is almost over anyways."

"Oh no!" Hanabi suddenly explained.

"What's wrong now?"

"Naruto-sensei doesn't want to see my sister any more! She will blame me!" Hanabi looked frantic and on the verge of a full panic. Sakura nodded sadly.

"Yes that is probably true. You still did the right thing however; you just brought it to the wrong person."

"What do you mean?" Hanabi asked.

"Well couldn't you have brought the problem to your father?" Hanabi shook her head. "Then you could have come to me or the Hokage. In fact you should have."

"But I didn't think he would act that way!" She protested. Sakura stood back up for a moment and put her hand on her chin to think.

"Yes. That is odd. Naruto would always climb out of any depression he was ever in to help a friend. I'm afraid all we can do right now is just deal with the fall out. You should bring it up to your sister however, when she confronts you about all this. She should know what you saw Hanabi."

"Oh no I couldn't do that. That would be considered very rude in the clan, what I did."

"Well screw the clan rule I saw. What you described is a symptom of a woman struggling mentally with a rather…delicate trauma. I think the genjutsu that she went through recently that almost killed her took more of a toll on her than anyone thought. She has been hiding it well, but she needs help. No one can make her get this help, but you should let her know that there are women and friends who know what she has been through and can help."

"Have you been through whatever it was she went through Sakura-sama?" Hanabi asked. Sakura hesitated a moment and Hanabi saw her eyes go haunted and her body shiver. 'What in the world happened to Hinata if it would make Sakura look like that?' Hanabi thought.

"Yes. I have. Sometimes missions don't go the way you want them to and bad things can happen before your team-mates can get there. You're too young to know what I am talking about and hopefully you never will. I have to get back to Naruto now. Remember what I said. Tell Hinata what you saw and how you felt. Tell her there is help and people who understand."

Hanabi nodded and watched as Sakura ran back into the hospital. She looked around quickly and headed back home. Oh she was going to catch hell from her sister over this.

-

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Hanabi saw her coming minutes ahead of time. When she got home she tried to enlist her father's aid, but he had not really listened and just said that if she interfered with another's love life then she had to deal with the consequences on her own. She hid in her room, but knew that would not stop Hinata from finding her. She could see the rage in her sister's movements from the time she turned the corner in the street till she ran through the front gates. Her feet slamming on the ground hard and the reckless steps she took. Her arms pumping far too much and the occasional shake of her head, like she was trying to dispel tears. She cringed and backed up to the wall as Hinata got closer and closer. She could see Hinata watching her as she ran down the hall ways, both watching each other with the Byakugan. Finally Hinata literally kicked away the door to the room, making Hanabi flinch and give a slight squeal.

"You…you…" Hinata was breathing heavily. Her eyes wide and livid, tears had streaked the make-up she had put on for Naruto and her nice lavender Kimono was torn in her haste to get home. Hanabi gulped and felt her lower lip tremble. She had never seen her sister look like this before. Her sister never got angry. Ever. She didn't even know the first thing to say. Not that she would get much of a chance to say anything in the next few seconds anyway. Hinata rushed at Hanabi, faster than the girl could follow and slammed her against the wall.

"You think you're clever don't you?" She was shaking her roughly by the shoulders. "What did you do?! What did you say to him?!" Hinata shook her harder and harder. Hanabi started to cry and babbly nonsense while shaking her head in denial.

"You had no right! No right talking to him! What did you do?" Hinata gave her another rough shove that tore the shoulder of the young girl's kimono. She hit her head on the wall, but barely acknowledged the pain in her terror. "What did you say to him?"

-SLAP!-

"Answer me!"

-SLAP!-

"Answer me!"

Hanabi warded off a third blow and babbled her story out.

"I just asked him to help you!" She sobbed out. She felt herself lifted up to Hinata's face and she was staring into those maddened eyes.

"What do you mean 'help me'?" Her sister snarled, spittle coming out of her mouth.

"I-I-I saw you in the bathing room! I-I saw you scrubbing so hard that you started to bleed!" She choked out the words. Hinata dropped her she was so stunned. Hanabi ran to her sister and enveloped her in a tight hug around the waist and cried into her stomach.

"I was so scared and so worried about you! I didn't know who to go to! Naruto-sensei is so nice and loves you so much I thought he could help you! P-Please don't be mad! P-Please don't be!" Hanabi just sobbed and sobbed. Pouring her essence into her tears. Desperate to get through to her sister.

Hinata laid a hand on her head and pulled her away from and her knelt down. She looked frightened now rather than enraged and slightly hopeful.

"You-You saw that?" Hinata asked. Hanabi nodded slightly, sniffling through her torrent of tears.

"What…" Hinata gulped and changed her words. "You told him all that?" She gave another nod and the older Hyuuga bit her lip.

"What did he say?"

Hanabi started to cry again as she explained. "He said he didn't want to help you or see you again! He said to talk to your team mate Kiba or your sensei if we wanted to know." Hinata gave soft cry and stricken look. She sat down heavily and brought her hand to her mouth. Her eyes going wide with pain and horror.

"Oh no…" She said softly. "He was awake. He heard everything." Hinata brought her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. She buried her face behind them and started to cry hysterically. Hanabi didn't know what to do. She could tell from the tone in her sister's voice that something had gone wrong. She quickly ran out of the room to get help.

Hinata was stricken as she sat there. She knew that no one else could have told Naruto what had happened. She had been with him the entire time he was at the hospital. He had to have been awake and heard her conversation with Kurenai-sensei. Years she had waited for him. Years she had stayed in the shadows admiring him and loving him from afar. Finally all her dreams had come true. He fell in love with her back. Her father had accepted him. She had lain in his arms and she had become more confident. All her wished for one brief moment in time. And she had just lost it all.

She felt empty. Like something was missing from her stomach. Like something she hadn't known was there and so important had just dropped out of her. It hurt. It hurt more than anything she had ever felt before. She didn't even see or feel her father and Nejii enter the room and try to get her attention. Her father lifted her up and started to carry her back to her rooms. She clasped her arms around his neck automatically and continued to cry into his shoulder.

Hiashi carried his older daughter into her lavender covered room and laid her on the bed. He wasn't sure how to deal with something this. It was very unbecoming an heir of the Hyuuga clan. He wasn't without sympathy or desire to help his daughter however. He just didn't know what to say. He was not exactly an emotional man and had a hard time grasping them in others. He looked to his confused nephew for some support or ideas. Nejii responded with a shrug. Just as confused as his Uncle was. Maybe her sensei would be able to help. He turned to Hanabi.

"Daughter. Go find her jounin instructor. Her name is Yuuhi Kurenai. Bring her here."

"I don't know where she lives father." His daughter said. He frowned and looked to Nejii. The man nodded and took Hanabi and they left quickly to bring the jounin here. Hiashi tried to help as best he could, but all his daughter did was curl up in a fetal position and cry while hugging her pillow tightly. He wasn't even aware that the human body could hold that many tears. A servant stopped by to ask if he needed anything and he ordered the man to bring some warm sake' immediately. He dismissed the man and took some covers and pulled them over his daughter.

It took about twenty minutes for Kurenai to arrive. He was about to berate her, till he saw her swollen belly and realized that she was with child. He had managed a couple cups of the sake' down Hinata's thought and it eventually calmed her enough so that she was no longer hysterical. She just hugged her pillow and cried silently. Kurenai entered the room and summed up everything with a glance. The men and Hanabi quickly left the room and closed the door to give the two some privacy.

Kurenai walked over and sat on the bed and laid a hand on her student's leg.

"Hinata…" She said softly. The Hyuuga sniffled and opened her eyes to see her sensei at her side.

"Oh sensei!" he cried and sat up to hug the woman. Kurenai held her tightly and rocked her a bit. It was easy to forget that a sixteen year old girl was still a girl and needed some babying every now and then. Shinobi or not. "I've ruined everything." She hiccupped into the genjutsu user's ear. "He heard us talking! He knows what I did!"

Kurenai pursed her lips and closed her eyes over the problem. And a problem it was indeed. Hinata always held a very special place in her heart and she knew that the girl derived much of her strength and confidence from Naruto. If he refused to have anything to do with the girl now, as most men were apt to do after something like this, then the past four years would all be waste and the girl would be worse off than when she had graduated the academy. She would be a broken soul for years probably. She had to help the young girl fix this.

She pried her student off of her and tilted up her chin so she could see her puffy red eyes. She reached out and wiped a few tears from Hinata's cheeks. "Now that's enough of that for the moment. Crying never fixes anything." She told her.

"But this can't be fixed! He hates me now! He told them that he never wanted to see me again!"

"Are you that is what he actually said?" Hinata looked at her blankly.

"Huh?"

"Well Hanabi told me a little bit on the way over and from what she said he just didn't want to see you while he is in the hospital."

"But that's the same thing!"

"No. It's not. This is your first relationship Hinata. Only puppy love falls apart from the first bump in the road. Is this puppy love Hinata or do you really love him?"

"I really really love him!" She said, her lower lip trembling once again. She wished it would stop doing that.

"Well then you settle whatever the bump is and then try to fix the relationship." Kurenai said and tapped the flushed red nose with her finger. Hinata sniffled and wiped her Kimono across her face in a very un-lady-like fashion.

"B-But I don't know how to fix it!"

"Well I can help you with that. But listen closely Hinata." She paused and saw that she had her student's undivided attention more than she ever had before. "Naruto is a very kind soul. He just lost his mother after only having her for a little over a month. That's probably the hardest blow someone can take. Then on top of that he finds out that you were less than discrete with Kiba while he was going through these problems. Let's face it Hinata. Last night your words and actions didn't make you sound very caring and loving towards him."

Hinata hung her head in shame and new tears threatened to over come her once more.

"I-I know." She whispered so softly that the jounin almost didn't hear it.

"Then if you want to fix this. You are going to have to make some sacrifices. You are going to have to do things that you don't want to do. Can you do that Hinata? If the chance was there to earn him back would you go for it?" Hinata nodded vigorously. Her eyes alight with hope and clasped her hands together in a prayer almost.

"Oh yes Sensei! I'd do anything!" Kurenai smiled and nodded, very satisfied with the words.

"Then you will have to go to the Hokage and ask to speak with a medic to help you with your problems." She smiled gently but the smile faded as she saw the look on her students face. It was flat and emotionless. It was like in one second all of her emotions had been pushed aside leaving her completely empty.

"I have no problems to talk about." Hinata said.

"Yes. You do."

"You are mistaken sensei."

"Then you have lost Naruto. And you will remain alone." The words were carefully calculated to break that stone wall around Hinata. She saw it chisel just a bit, but the girl tried futilely to repair it.

"There must be another way." She said. Kurenai just shook her head.

"You gave your word that you would sacrifice anything to get him back. I thought you shared the same nindo as Naruto?" That did the trick very nicely. The wall fell like a mudslide and the mask became a doubtful and scared face once more.

"I-I can't talk about it."

"I think you can. It would be harder to talk about it with a friend. I don't know exactly what you went through, but I can guess from your actions. This kind of stuff is easier to share with a stranger I am told. Someone you won't see very often. Hinata are you afraid your friends will treat you differently if they know?" The girl couldn't raise her head, she just continued to look down and poke her fingers together rapidly.

"I thought so. Then yes you should speak to a stranger. Someone who specializes in this and really understands you. If you can do that then you can get Naruto back." She took Hinata's hands. "He isn't so callous as to ever forget about you. I've known some men like Naruto in my life-time and I promise you, he feels every bit as bad as you do and is already missing you. Right now however he just can't cope with your needs and can't help you. He has given a lot for this village and for you. Let's give him something back for once. And that something will be space. Ok?"

Hinata let the words of her sensei soak into her and she brooded over it. She didn't want to talk to anyone at all, but she really would do anything to get back her Naruto-kun and the idea of talking with a stranger she would never be friends with did sound a little easier. Reluctantly she looked back up into the eyes of her captain and gave a weak smile.

"H-Hai Kurenai-sensei!"

"Good. I will come by tomorrow morning and take you to see someone. In the mean time don't go near Naruto unless he asks for you." She got up to leave and Hinata escorted her to the front doors. Kurenai paused at the threshold and spoke once more to those puffy silver eyes.

"And one more thing. You really should apologize to your little sister. She was really worried and none of this is her fault. Ok?" Hinata gave a small nod and Kurenai reached out and stroked her cheek with a finger. "We'll get everything worked out. You will see." The door closed and Hinata skulked back to get room. Hanabi had watched everything with her Byakugan. It was considered dreadfully rude to use it inside the compound, but she didn't care at this point. She could tell that some good had been done and she smiled. She flopped back down on her bed and smiled.

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A/N

What a pain in the ass chapter to write and it still isn't the way I wanted it to be. I tried for an emotional chapter but got the feeling I failed big time. Well time will tell. I hope you enjoyed it, despite my dislike of it.

The next update wont be for awhile. I am going to be gone for the weekend and most of the week so can't begin on the next installment. I am also starting to develope a nasty case of writers block, but hopefully time away from the screen will fix that.

Imouto-san refer to little sister
Ane-san refers to big sister.