Living on Borrowed Time By Kuro no Samurai


"…" Normal (human) talking

"" Whispering/Japanese words and expressions/Emphasis in human talking

"…" Ethereal/Demonic/Inner persona talking

'…' Usual human thinking


In all the things of his life Sarutobi never seen this or wish for such. It was quiet now, quieter than it was suppose to be. Of course, he learned to appreciate such a state of delicacy when the time for it came around – the way of the ninja was always like this, noisy and obnoxious at time. He admitted earlier was noisy, too noisy and all too obnoxious. The smell of copper kept filling in the void of his nostrils and he flared to spew it out. When it proved to be hopeless, he gave up on such a task. Tonight was just too much problems. "Troublesome", a Nara favorite word, the word he could describe such a predicament.

Here he stood, on his face – the Hokage Monument. It was only place he could get high enough to see the whole village and the newly destroyed Konoha front that was the Forest of Death. And then, he could easily spot what or who made their mark or their landmark, this would be their grounds' scar forever, as they could always gaze and see it.

The monster, sometimes celebrated in cults, was here to show why it could walk the path of a deity. The Nine-Tailed fox, feared in mythology and folktales told by supposedly foolish old men, had came and had forcefully gone, which he could not still believe. This was working up his nerves indeed.

'Probably why I starting smoking again.' The aging man held back trying to smoke another round of his nicotine, no matter how much he was stressed. 'By the time I'm 60-something, I'll have either a full set of white hair or it will fall out.'

Blood, blood cake the sidewalks, the roads and the cobblestone grounds. He looked, almost soulless as he stared into the crimson. He already sent almost a thousand of his ANBU to take care of it and clean it up before the night's end but all would be effect by such. It wouldn't matter if they left the bodies to rot or didn't clean up the red on the place. All that matter was this: Kyuubi was close, close to destroying the village. Sarutobi wondered a few times before the ordeal was over if they were dreaming, alive or just barely breathing?

He sighed as he flicked his fingers. At a quick fashion, one of his men popped into Sarutobi's vision. "Status report?"

"Mission 'Street Sweeper' is nearly done. The bodies are being given into several morgues, to make sure each of the K.I.A. get a proper burial. It seems that Team Bravo are having a tough problem getting the blood off the streets."

Sarutobi nodded and stared down at them all. "Make sure they do get a proper burial. After all, all these families of the fallen deserve that. Kyuubi was this close," Sarutobi curved his fingers to an almost closed loop, "In destroying this village. It broke through our first and second lines of defense. This attack severed damaged our forces. If we were to be attacked now, I'm afraid we would lose which such a feat."

The man nodded at Sarutobi's words. "Yes… we aren't in good relationships with Iwa after the recently ended Iwa-Konohagakure war, sir. Yondaime-sama saved us from that Nine-Tails indeed."

"And he couldn't cut it closer." Sarutobi grimaced. "But of course, he needed his 'catalyst' in order to defeat such a demon."

"Yondaime-sama referred to-"

"Yes, he referred to his child as a catalyst indeed. The man was, without any doubt, in love with this village more than his wife unfortunately. I was there as his wife cried her last tears as the man took her baby away. Without so much of a sayonara."

"…" The man stood straight, mask of a smile. "And his wish? Do you believe it will be carried out?"

"His son is practically the heart of Konoha now. Let's hope that it is carried out. However, Jiraiya's students always seem to make me disappointed, Namikaze wasn't a difference."

"Sir, do you speak in spite of Yondaime-sama?" The apathetic voice ringed back.

"And if I was, Shinji?" The wizen man stared back into the painted mask of a smile face. "Namikaze hasn't been making me proud since he usurped this chaos. What a fool…" Sarutobi didn't need to whisper at all of this. He was truly speaking his mind in front of the man. "To burden his son with such a curse. No, Namikaze has lost my respect. He may have love from the village and all of its inhabitants, but until I die, I will hold no respect for that man. He quickly left his wife to die and to burden his son. I know that the wish of this man will not be granted and this child will be cursed until he dies. Who would put such a curse on his son for the sake of the village?"

"Sarutobi-sama, Yondaime-sama may have never loved his wife or son like the village, but it was to say you and me and all the others. Would let your village die for just your family?"

"Yes, Shinji. If my family was endangered and the only to save them was to forsake my birthright, then so be it. Shinji, you have a lot to learn. The state is not always the right choice to put your heart in. Even as an ANBU, you are still so young. Namikaze was a genius, yes, but not the greatest family man. Then again, he wasn't the ideal lover for any woman. So wrapped in his love for his village, family obviously came second."

"…" The man had nothing to say. "It is true that I never had the feelings of a family, sir, but I believe he was right to put at everybody's else hearts at best first than himself and his family."

"Yes… and I apolgize from bring up bad memories."

"Hold your tongue, sir. It's all right. After all, I was just ignored more than hated or feared."

Sarutobi frowned. "Yes, well, I have called upon the other Kages. After all, we need to make as much piece as we can with the other village given that our state is very fragile." Sarutobi looked at him. "The meeting is soon, at dawn."

"And you didn't get any rest?"

Sarutobi shrugged as didn't set his eyes off the man. "A man of stature of mines never truly gets his sleep, right? Besides, I'm mulling over the conversation me and the other Kages had before this started."

"Which would be?"

"Shinji, you know of Danzo's ROOT operation, correct?"

"Can say I do, sir."

"Yes, well, this is like this." Sarutobi folded his arms as he closed his old eyes. "Unfortunately, it is to set the lives of many now. Including…"

"Including who, sir?" Shinji asked after Sarutobi's trailing ended.

"The recent arrival to this village, Shinji." Sarutobi said in an evenly voice.

"Ah, the Jinchurriki."

"Yes, this will decide the fate of him and the fate of the world. Do you know that Akatsuki is up and running again?"

"That piece of garbage of an organization is back? But I thought Yondaime-sama finished away since the beginning of the Great Shinobi War III." Shinji inquired, neutral as he could be but it was evident that he was confused, Sarutobi noted.

"No, the Akatsuki is back, with newer members. One of my spies' information concluded that a certain Sannin of ours have joined their ranks."

"Orochimaru is joining? Why?"

"To gain power? To keep up with the experiments I found him conducting? Personally, I think both, Shinji. I caught him in a warehouse, conducting such. Many dead bodies laid there, rotting." Sarutobi said, spite growing heated in his breath. "Only one survival, it seemed. I already have people on that job."

"So, the meeting is about Akatsuki? So, the nations are forming an alliance?"

"The Akatsuki is growing powerful. If people like Orochimaru joins in, I fear they might people even stronger than him."

"What does this have to do with the organization? I mean, I can conclude that this organization is to destroy the Akatsuki but what does this have to do with the Jinchurriki?"

Sarutobi twitched his fingers and sighed. "Let's hope it doesn't have to do with him. Shinji, dawn is coming. I shall venture to the Council Hall now to meet the Kages. For you work and your fight with the Kyuubi, I shall see you tomorrow – you have the day off. Dismissed."

The ANBU saluted Sarutobi and then let the elder as he looked upon the breaking sunlight as dawn stretched the skies to a purplish hue of blue, almost akin to a light indigo. The man turned away, thinking one thing.

'What kind of parent names their child, "Naruto", Minato?'

Introduction ends…

…Time Skip; Present Day: June 12, 200X, Twelve years after Kyuubi Incident…

Sakura Haruno always felt attracted to the mysteriously dark guys. The kind of people who would defend somebody and save the day, the person who seem to just be godly powerful; she learned that many guys fit that description but only two truly interested her. One was the last Uchiha, Sasuke Uchiha who seemed to just be powerful dark. She was sure that he could defend anybody with his power, his mysterious power. And then, she also like a guy who had looks that seemed so handsome, it seemed effeminate; the guy that was good in the "looks department". Sasuke also seem to fit that description to. She already thought he looked "cute" when he joined the academy one year ago with her at the age of 11 and the main reason she wanted to be a ninja is to find love and with it, she thinks she's already found it with Sasuke.

Of course, however, there seem to be another mysterious guy, another strong-willed boy. She rated him a little different that Sasuke. The boy wasn't the most handsome boy in the entire village like Sasuke but he wasn't ugly-fugly now; she could take staring at him all day then some other boys now. His skin wasn't like Sasuke's: alabaster, porcelain pale and soft-to-the-touch. His skin was tanned, his hands felt a little calloused – Sakura had gotten the pleasure to "brush" against his hand with her hand – he looked more – Sakura tried finding the right word – feral than the Uchiha boy, he seemed to be not dark rather boisterous and loud and he seem to smile a lot… A whole lot than Sakura would have care for but she wasn't really complaining. His hair seem to define logic and gravity; sometimes his hair would point up to the sky and sometimes his hair would drape and drop into his face, which Sakura seem to like the most. Unlike Sasuke's ebony blue hair, the boy seem to a sun-kissed blond kind of hair color that shined brightly in the sun, which at that point, Sakura wondered if Sasuke's hair glowered in the moon.

But at last, some other girls seem to notice the second one like Sasuke Uchiha.

His attitude – the devil may cry attitude, do before die personality and the live first-ask-questions later motto – attracted attention from others, especially from her rival Ino Yamanaka and Hinata Hyuuga, who seemed to like the boy already. Other girls painted him as a "lighter Sasuke Uchiha who seem to love a horrid color like orange and other bright colors" but seem to enjoy his antics, his jokes and how he gave the class a smile once or twice – or another reason for Iruka to berate him and give him a "good measure" batter on the cranium of his. Sakura has come to like the boy because of these traits and the fact that she knows he was strong – a troublemaker but strong. She seen him being chased by other ninja around the village from his pranks, especially what he calls his masterpiece: the Hokage painting, nothing too short of other ninjas calling it "a great defilement of the sacred Hokage's faces on their prized mountains made for their homage". She laughed a lot with the boy being so determined to make others hotheaded and irate with him.

She grinned at those thoughts – oh how much chaos could a boy cause today?

And then, bam! Clash! Swoosh! Out came the boy when he simply seem to destroy the door that Iruka had. He had a bright grin on his face, with his hair in a ponytail that seem to still be spiky in its name. His eyes sparkled with amusement as he held his hand up. "Hey, Iruka-sensei!"

The class – for the most of them – had to hold back their laughter with snorts as Iruka came up the staircase and drag Naruto down to the heart of the class. Holding him up by his blood red jacket, he snarled like a demon. "WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU?! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AT 8:00, 8:00!! WHAT TIME IS IT, NARUTO?!"

As Iruka turned Naruto's head forcefully to the clock, Sakura snorted, as he seems to feign being innocent. "Ah, hmm, sensei I think its… ahhh, am I early because it says 6 o'clock."

Iruka punched him harshly in the head. "You idiot, you read it wrong!!"

"Ah, I think I read it upside-down." Now the class was filling with giggling.

Iruka's temples seem to go off first, following by his brain vessels. "HOW THE HELL DID YOU READ IT UPSIDE-DOWN IF YOU WEREN'T UPSIDE DOWN TO BEGIN WITH!!"

Naruto shrugged. Iruka sighed as he just held his head. 'I need an Kon-pill.' (1) "Just sit down, Naruto. Please just sit down before I decide to, to-" He just cut himself off this thoughts. "Go sit down now. This is your fourth time being late this week! As matter of fact, this has been going on for a month now! You have to learn that either you get here on time or you fail. You got that?"

"He-he. Sorry, I just been busy, you know sensei."

"Mm. I'm going to talk to you after school time ends. You got ten seconds to pop into a seat or I'll be more angry with you." Naruto nodded, having a sheepish smile on his face as he popped into a seat next to Sakura Haruno.

"Hey Sakura. How ya doing?" He said, lightly.

Sakura giggled. "More like I should ask you. You are truly an idiot, Naruto-baka."

Naruto pouted – cutely, Sakura might add – as he came up with a comeback. "Ah, Sakura, don't be like that." He grinned as she scoffed. "So I see you aren't seated next to Sasuke."

Sakura blinked and then noted that she wasn't sitting next to her crush. "Well, I guess I wanted to be ready for school, you know. Our final exams are coming up."

Naruto nodded, both to her and the lesson Iruka was starting albeit he wasn't really taking notes. He didn't want to piss Iruka anymore then he did. So, he had a notebook out, feigning writing. "Hey, where's Mizuki?"

Sakura looked at him oddly. "You don't know?"

"Know what?" He seemed to be confused. Sakura shook his head.

"You really are an idiot. The first news of Iruka was this morning that Mizuki seem to try and take the Forbidden Scroll. If it wasn't for one sole ninja, the man would have made off with it."

Naruto seem to grin brightly. "So it seems. That's a shame that Mizuki was a traitor to the village."

Sakura waved her classmate off. "I never liked him anyway, he seemed shifty from the start, like he despised to be a teacher of this village."

Naruto nodded and folded his arms. "So, only two more days until the end of the semester?"

Sakura seem to look to her side. "Yeah."

Naruto grinned, maybe a tab sympathetic. "Don't worry Sakura. You always could see your friends when you move up the ranks of ninja. Besides, you got me!"

The class seems to look in shock as Naruto laid his head on the steps and Sakura seem to stand up, snarling at Naruto's dead form. "YOU BAKA!!"

Iruka sighed as he tried to hold back his frustration in Naruto today. "I really need some medicine to soothe this headache."

Later that night, Iruka seem to join Naruto at his favorite restaurant, Ichiraku's. Iruka admitted that Ramen was mighty tasty but simply not good for once health everyday like Naruto did… especially when you had more than one bowl. Iruka almost cried at that spot because his Itachi-chan (2) was simply being emptied out because of Naruto. At the mention of his name, it put him in a rage all right but when he stared harder at the boy, he saw a lot. Naruto wasn't the best or greatest of his students, but he seems to be the most dedicated. He seem to sparkle determination and power seem to roll off him even though he tried to make him seem like he was a straight-up idiot with little talent.

Iruka was the one of the many to see beyond that.

Iruka was one of the many to see that Naruto knew what the word "façade" meant. Iruka saw at times that Naruto's smiles were not as they were supposed to be; his grins and smirks were forced at times. And with good reason, he would note at times. It was barely a secret that Naruto was the container of a certain monster – he was shocked that the villagers didn't let their children know Naruto's secret with their rather blunt, unhidden and blatant stares or rather glares at him.

He frowned – maybe it wasn't the Nine-Tailed Fox that was bothering Naruto. Maybe… it was his personal secret that only a few knew of. That could have been more of a reason for him to be simply forceful to show signs of happiness. Maybe that was the reason. Iruka closed his eyes at that thought. He sighed, perhaps he was more sympathetic to him than he thought but Naruto never wanted anybody to show him sympathy or pity just because he had that kind of disadvantage.

Which is why Iruka respected him.

Iruka could have hated him because of the monster that brooded inside him. He could have hated him because of his pranks. He could have hated him because he was possibly the worst student in the academy. He could have hated him because of his jokes and his refusal to come in on time. He could have hated him because he wanted to wear a façade on his face but one thing was for certain: he respected Naruto nonetheless.

As Iruka saw Naruto slurp on his Ramen, Iruka smiled. "Naruto? You still hungry?"

"Hmm?" Naruto questioned, ramen still his fangs. "Iruka-sensei? You said you wanted to talk to me about something, you know before we got here."

"Oh! That's right." 'So that's why I brought Naruto here.' "Naruto, we have to talk about your grades."

Naruto looked back, naively. "What do you mean?"

Iruka's face quickly slipped into an angry scowl but then he calmed himself. He decided that screaming at the unorthodox boy wasn't going to solve a thing. He spoke in a tamer voice, trying to hold back his frustration at the boy. "Naruto, what's the reason you became a ninja? Why do you want to become a ninja, let alone Hokage?"

Naruto closed his eyes, smiling at Iruka, resembling that of a fox. 'Kyuubi…' That was the nose-scarred man's first thought but he let it go. 'There's a huge difference between it and him.' Naruto's smiling seemed to be light, quite, chaste maybe? It was certainly not the equivalent of that demon, Kyuubi. And then, he felt himself become warmer with Naruto's smiling. Naruto was something else, something of an enigma. He was a nazo (3) all right. Iruka once thought like the villagers, like many of the Konohagakure Nation – he thought Naruto was a monster, a demon, a pesky and evil spawn on this Earth who slaughter many for its enjoyment, no less his own parents, the reason why he was an orphan for the next half of his life, why he was alone for the reminder of his life.

Iruka, however, became enlightened when Naruto joined his class last year. Naruto was just like him: orphanages were familiar to him, sadness was a calling and dare he say it, Naruto was just like Iruka. Iruka too, with the death of his parents, became a class clown who fooled around for everybody else's amusement. Naruto played the same pranks he did as a child: the duck-and-run game (with several Chunnin), the defilement of a special/important part of the village (his was just the Hokage's Monument Mountains, Iruka noted) and just acting like he never had a care in his life. And now, Iruka truly felt irony.

"Iruka-sensei, Iruka-sensei, hey I'm talking to you!" Iruka came out her thoughts, seeing a Naruto pout in front of him.

"Ah… what did you say?"

"I was answering your question." Naruto scoffed. "You know, I don't like repeat myself, you know?"

"Gomen, Naruto. Please do repeat your answer. It's very interesting to know." Iruka deadlocked his brown eyes to Naruto's grinning face.

"Well, okay, I'll forgive you but it's going to cost you." Iruka didn't need to know what his price was, which is why he felt like crying.

'Itachi-chan is so going to be hurt today.' "Yes, yes." Iruka tried to sound nonchalantly about the price as he spoke, although his voice wavered and cracked at times. "Now, tell me why you wanted to be a ninja."

Naruto grinned again. "Why did you want to become a ninja, Iruka-sensei? You don't even need to answer that one, because it's obvious. You, I, we all want to prove something."

"What do you want to prove Naruto?" Iruka was interested in this conversation, even though he said he would be interested already (he was simply being polite by politely lying) now things were getting interesting.

"Heh, shouldn't you know already, Iruka?" Iruka widened his eyes. Even though he was being playful, Naruto for once sounded serious. "I want to prove so many things in my life. I know it's a fate set for a ninja life, for any human's life and that's death. I just believe that my purpose here to prove that something to somebody. And do that, I have to become a ninja, to become what I want to be and I'll be sure I will reach my goal."

"To be Hokage?"

Naruto laughed a little. "Not exactly. I mean, yes, I want to become Hokage, to rule over the village I love but it's more than that, Iruka." Another time Naruto referred to him as just "Iruka', nothing more, no suffixes.

"There's more?" Iruka inquired. "You just seem to have a one tracked-mind, Naruto. I mean, you seem so intent to become Hokage, with the way you go around parading that you will be the next Hokage."

"So I do, hehe." Naruto scratched his head, sheepishly smiling. "Iruka-sensei, if you can't figure it out why I try to be a ninja, then maybe the joker isn't the fool after all. Maybe the joker is the smartest of all, the smartest of all the fools."

"What are you saying Naruto?" Iruka was just confused at Naruto's choice of words.

Soon, Naruto grew quiet, maybe a tad cold and then the smile turned into a cold dish. "My disadvantage keeps me moving, Iruka. It keeps me dreaming and wishing and determined. Without my determination…" Naruto paused. Iruka watched with Zen patience. He also watched as Naruto let out a breath. "I wonder sometimes, what would happen, what would happen without my determination? What would happen if I just gave up and just let 'fate' take me away?" Naruto scoffed coldly.

Iruka watched as Naruto fingered the bowl of soup of the growing cold Ramen. Iruka dared not to even make a noise. Naruto was just too enigmatic, a good mystery book that Iruka was too excited and anxious to read. Naruto finally was speaking his mind, even though he said it in ways Iruka found hard understanding.

"I hate cold Ramen, don't you, Iruka-sensei?"

"Huh?" Iruka was drawn out his pondering.

Naruto smiled again. "Don't most people hate cold food, Iruka-sensei? Sometimes, I feel like that cold, cold Ramen."

And that was one of the things Iruka had no trouble figuring out. "Naruto?"

"Iruka-sensei, one day, one day I'll make this village proud and that special someone happy." Naruto pumped his arm in the air, excitedly. "Yeah! And then, I will be like hot Ramen!"

Iruka smiled. "I'm sure you will, Naruto." 'I know you will.'

Sasuke Uchiha had already at lot on his plate as it was. It was like in life, its sole purpose was to make his fate just horrible and unbelievable.

Sasuke knew why he was like this; he knew why he grew cold and let himself become a shell of himself. It wasn't that he was steeling himself from human contact because he was "cool" or he really abhorred human life. It was simple why: he was scared. He was stripped of this bravery the day his clan was slaughter by one sole man, he was simply fearful. He could no longer love or be love and why? He didn't think it was in his nature. Ever since the faithfully tragedy struck him hard, he lost some abilities and gain more.

He lost the reason to love: what's to love if he couldn't love himself, let alone anybody who claimed that they loved him? He knew they were lying if they did say that anyway. All the people who loved him perished under the fire and blood that he caused.

He unconsciously clenched his fist, turning them into white balls of fury. One of the things he lost was love and his ability to feel happiness. He gained anger, hatred and apathy however, with the lust of power in his mind. Oh how it struck him silly when he craved for it, since he never really wanted to be a ninja or really be like his father but he wanted to prove himself to his brother that he was capable to do a lot.

Since the age of four, Sasuke realized that his brother could have been a father to him also. Unlike his biological father, he could remember a lot what his brother taught him and how his brother was, for the most part, there for him. His brother took responsibility at a young age, which maybe his father wasn't worth carrying at times. He knew that his brother was close to his mother more than he would ever be and his father praised him anytime it was called for or maybe not even when it was. He knew that his brother was powerful, powerful enough to defeat almost anybody from the Leaf.

And soon, it didn't take long for Sasuke to think: 'Maybe I don't hate my brother… maybe… I want to be like him.' And even more soon, he felt disgusted at these thoughts; him, wanting to be like his brother? Oh, what a good laugh it came to Sasuke! A great laugh indeed! However, Sasuke would sooner realize, after the next five years in his life that he was just like his brother, a little too much but as he was now, at the age of twelve, going on to thirteen, he thought differently to rid himself of his brother.

'Even the thoughts of that… that monster really blows me off!!' And Sasuke would believe this and this and this.

'Hmph, where's that idiot, Naruto?'

The thoughts of a blonde were in his mind. You know, with Naruto, it truly put the old saying about blonds. He silently scoffed at the thought of him. Although sometimes his jokes put a smirk on his face, they didn't get far of respecting Naruto. Naruto was what he was, what his nature was: a person who seems to be too stupid for his good. Sasuke saw no talents in him, not a damn speck of it. Naruto always put up a dim wall of bravado, which was trite of him because he simply had no talent worthwhile.

Yes, Naruto indeed had some redeeming aspects about him. 'Like his ability to annoy a person in less than a minute?' Sasuke shook his head when he thought that. Yes, it was true that Naruto could do that but he admitted Naruto had some ninja tactics. Sasuke knew Naruto was good in stealth; Naruto proved he had stealth when he always seems to get in trouble with authorities and always seem to get away without so much of a trouble. Naruto had speed; Naruto could run faster than anybody he knew at this point also to many Chunnin as they couldn't catch him at times. Naruto had stamina; no mater how much they spent running laps with Iruka in the academy and everybody seemed weary – even him at times – Naruto just seem to take it like it was a stroll in the village or if he was walking with his friends or something like that. Even if he had those three aspects, he still couldn't defeat Sasuke because he lacked a fourth facet: power.

Sasuke Uchiha was at the top of his academy. He was the epitome of the compound word "powerhouse". There wasn't anybody who could take him on and why? It was in his nature to be strong, to be power. His blood shows it all. For god's sake, he was an Uchiha! An Uchiha, the former fighters of Konohagakure, the police of Konohagakure at a point; the will to control fire was in his blood and he knew in his heart that fire was the strongest element of all or else there wouldn't be a country named after it but of course, he had another legacy to look forward to.

But in all his frustration, he couldn't unlock it yet. 'If only I had another- no. The only Uchiha left is me… he's no longer my brother. He will never be my brother again. Without another Uchiha… I might never find out how to unlock it. Maybe in the archive in the Uchiha Clan Mansion I can find something.' Whatever, he thought. It didn't matter to an Uchiha. Uchiha blood meant he was destined to be strong.

Today was simply the proof of it. It was his destiny to achieve the rank of "Genin" and to embark in his quest for vengeance.

Hinata Hyuuga was a person who deemed, seemed and was shy to the world. As she was shy outwardly, she was the opposite in the inside. In the inside, she was insidious, too naughty for her own. The split and rift in her personality started when her mother died with complications of her sister's birth. And with that, her father didn't seem too close to her like he was when she was young. After Hanabi was born, he seem to grow cold to her and soon, Hinata became almost unwanted by him. To him, she was barely higher than a normal Branch-family member. To him, she was his biggest failure. He seemed too proud of her cousin and too proud of her sister but not her, never her.

And then, the dark side of her grew. At times, she didn't know why it did and what it served until she grew older, more wiser. It was a side of her she could not show, a side of her where she could store emotions and express her opinion in there. Her shy persona showed a bare conscience of her opinion. This side was to help her do so; this side was now one half of her. And that simply was a big mistake.

Nobody told her that that was a mistake that she would one day regret.

Now, she was Hinata Hyuuga, the only Hyuuga in their family's history, to have split personalities; she was the unwanted outcast, the girl who seemed weird and dark and unloved. This was the way she was and the reason she had an admiration/crush on the most unwanted boy in the city-state village-look-a-like. Hinata Hyuuga "hearted" Naruto Uzumaki.

It started when she first met him in the academy, where most of the adult sneered at him and sent him very heated glares. It wasn't that she liked him because he was glared at or an outcast like her, it was rather he seem to carry himself with a whiff of dignity, an air full of pride even with the people constantly glaring at him for some unknown reasons to her. He was strong when people wanted him to be weak, he was powerful even when people wanted to strip him of power.

"Naruto-kun." Murmuring his name brought a rosy blush out of her.

At first, she admitted, she wanted to have his strength, to have the power to stand up to her father and be what she wanted to be. However, overtime, seeing his strength, she didn't want to just have his strength. Her body was maturing, and so was her mind and heart. Her emotions flooded to her when this happened and over the course the year as it progress, so did her admiration of Naruto Uzumaki. It became an infatuation and then a crush; she liked him all right. Soon, not only his strength pleased her but his build, his looks and his personality. Naruto Uzumaki was shaped like an Adonis. Those golden locks, she wanted to run her fingers in it. Those sparkling royal blue eyes, she wanted to stare at the pools of sapphire all day. So many features shaped the Uzumaki, all that she liked. She knew that she wasn't too far from loving the boy now.

After she admitted to herself that she had a crush on Naruto, she started to follow him around, surprisingly unseen to him. She followed him to the academy and then home, maybe the training grounds sometimes. She would follow him to the abyss of Earth, to the end of the world and time if she could acquire his strength and that's why she was going to become a Genin today. Naruto was bent on becoming one, ready to start ninja-hood and she knew that she was too. After all, she could not go without her strength.

She grinned slightly under her bangs, as a different Hinata appeared. He was sooner to be her love.

The afternoon was hazy, almost rainy, as the clouds seem to shaped and then become with the skies. Sakura watched as her mentor usher the kids inside. Iruka gave a look to each everybody. "All right, since I don't have anything for you guys, due to the unfavorable weather conditions, you will have free time to speak with peers, gather your thoughts and such else. I decide that since tomorrow's Friday, we will push the test until then." Some cheered due to the delight of speaking with friends, planning for the test or just not doing anything at all (which Shikamaru Nara, runner-up of dead-last, humbly replied with Iruka's request) while others grunted angrily at not showing their skills, seething in anger of being held back (Sasuke Uchiha looked like he was ready to explode) or just not happy without get the Genin Exams over with.

Sakura soon learned that Naruto Uzumaki wasn't a happy camper. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Naruto scoffed and look away. "Nothing, I'm just… a little peeve that Iruka decided to push the test back. I was looking forward for it."

Sakura giggled. "What? To fail miserably?"

"Nuh-uh, Sakura!" Naruto pouted. 'A little too cutely for me, it's almost unbearable.' Sakura thought.

"Oh yeah? What about your recent progress-report you gotten this month?" Sakura said slyly.

"It… isn't too shabby." Naruto weakly defended yourself.

Sakura grinned and laughed. "Oh, Naruto. Well, at least you aren't ashamed of it. I mean, yeah, you did past that marking period but barely."

"I just don't see it fit to read books. I mean, sure, knowledge is good but it goes all so far in the ninja world. You can't just have knowledge, Sakura."

"Oh?" Sakura leaned in more, her nose moving in where his nose was before, before he unconsciously moved. "What do need to become a great ninja? Maybe I need to write this down."

"Oh, Sakura, I'm serious!" Naruto groaned.

She laughed and set the notebook down. Even if the noise of the class was getting louder with murmuring, conversation and amicable talking, she could easily hear Naruto. 'It's like we are the only ones in the classroom…' Sakura thought mistily in her head. She wasn't too sure but even at the closest she ever got to a boy, especially one like Naruto, she didn't blush or speak in gibberish or stutter. 'I feel… I feel…' She shook her head and cleared the fog that was her mind and rather blushed at her thinking. She didn't need to finish it in order to know what she was going to think. Even as she thought, she listened in what Naruto had to say. "Sakura, I know that the academy basically teaches us how to use seals and pour chakra into our techniques or how do certain techniques easily, and teaches us about the world and its countries or counties but like I said, knowledge takes you so far. You got to have D.E.P.W.S.S."

"Huh, what is 'D.E.P.W.S.S.'? What's that stand for?"

"It's a little acronym to describe what you need beside knowledge. Knowledge is a prior thought, of course you would think you need knowledge – everybody does but they do not understand that even with book smarts, you could lose a battle. Not always is the pen mightier than the sword."

"Okay, genius. Can you tell me what is this D.E.P.W.S.S?" Sakura leaned in more, putting her elbow on the desk-table and let her hand carry her head.

Naruto grinned at his stalling. "Certainly. D.E.P.W.S.S stand for: 'Determination, endurance/experience, power, will, speed and stamina.' I believe these six things beside knowledge is the thing that carries you in the ninja world. For example, we were taught that chakra is a substance that is in every little thing, right?" (4)

"Right." Sakura nodded.

Naruto gripped his chin and rubbed it slightly. "Then, take these two scenarios. Suppose an animal is being taught on what Natural Selection is and its mortal enemy is chasing down the animal. The animal knows its only one enemy and it knows where it's going but the other animal has its natural affinity of strength over the animal. Who wins? The animal of knowledge or the animal of strength?"

"Well, the animal of knowledge obviously."

Naruto grinned. "Can you tell me why?" (5)

"Well, the animal who has the strength doesn't have the affinity of knowledge, assuming that is so." Naruto shrugged. "Well, the animal of knowledge knows it way and maybe, if lucky, can outfox the stronger animal and escape with ease."

"That could be true, yes, but let's change the scene around a little more. Now, suppose that same animal is approached by and chased by the animal of power but suppose, there's more to meet the brawny animal. Suppose it has called its pack to come and help him. More than one other animal soon gang up the animal of knowledge. Having no experience, endurance or much strength, does the animal prevail?"

"Well, of course it w-" She stopped herself as she realized. Unconsciously, she was about to say 'yes'. Naruto smiled cheekily.

"Now, you get my point, Sakura. Even if you have knowledge, you could outfox one, two, maybe three enemies but there are times that the enemy might have other allies and they balance out each other perfectly, whether in power, speed or determination. Teamwork works in the ninja world as well, something that should be priory known like knowledge. You got to balance yourself out. You can't have one side of the seesaw with weight and the other without. You have to balance or your "seesaw' will brake." Even with that metaphor, Sakura fully understood what Naruto meant.

"Oh, so I see. Hmm, well, you might be a genius after all, Naruto."

"Haha, nah, not a genius but rather somebody who know what they're doing." Naruto grinned as he pushed his hair back to Sakura's vision. "People always seem to hail somebody who knows what they're doing a "genius". Some of us just don't like being called a genius. Some of us just are hard working people who want to excel in the world. We are always chasing after tornados, after dreams."

"Hmm." Sakura hummed. "What's your dream, Naruto? Wait, don't tell me, to be Hokage right?" Sakura remembered "vaguely" of Naruto's dream. After all, he was always screaming it… since last year? Sakura frowned at that thought but nonetheless let Naruto respond to her question.

"Hehe, well, I guess it still is, yeah."

"'I guess it still is'? What do you mean you guess 'it still is'?" Sakura said, confused.

"Ah, well…" Sakura looked as Naruto's face turned from a ball of sunshine happiness, to a barren, cold field. His smile dwindled off and was replaced with a cold kind of scowl. Sakura almost gasped at his face and how the air around him became a little too cold. 'What's going on?!' She felt colder, like her heart had frozen over. It was chilling (no pun attended).

As Naruto breathed out, Sakura noticed that he started to grin, much like a fox would. "It's a secret, Sakura. Maybe I'll tell you later."

Despite feeling still a tad gelid, she pouted. "Aw, I want to know."

"Later, Sakura." He waved his hand to the pinkette as she sat at the edge of her seat. Secrets would intrigue the smartest woman or the dumbest man. The bell rang out. Seats almost flew as people jumped in joy of the academy being over. Sakura looked in slight anger of the bell. 'Great timing, dammit.' "Whoo, what a day, eh? It's time to go home." Naruto rose from his chair, stretched diminutively and started to walk out the paper-mesh doors that led to the outside. Sakura jumped up and ran after him but as soon as she stepped outside, Naruto disappeared from her vision.

Sakura's grimace deepened as she looked into the air and then to the ground and again in the air. 'Something wrong with Naruto… were though scratches on his face always so dark?'

Iruka looked at the boy who fished around with his ramen. Usually, he spent time with the boy more… 'And my wallet less.' Crying, he let himself think how positive this would be. He knew more about the boy he use to hate. Now, he had a good view of whether or not Naruto was a "good" person (Iruka knew there weren't a lot of good people but many were willing to be good) and Iruka got the assumption that Naruto could have been worse off. Then, a memory came to mind, at the remembrance of their first dinner together.

Soon, the memory of Naruto's figure grew quiet, gelid and the temperature around them dropped. He had a crooked smile on his cold and scowling face. He looked like he was going to spit venom out his mouth. "My disadvantage keeps me moving, Iruka. It keeps me dreaming and wishing and determined. Without my determination…"

Naruto paused at that point, maybe to gather something to say. Iruka's figure of the past watched, patiently waiting for the boy. Naruto let out a breath, as cold as ice. "I wonder sometimes, what would happen, what would happen without my determination? What would happen if I just gave up and just let 'fate' take me away?" Naruto scoffed coldly at the prospect and Iruka could only do but watch.

At that point – to his embarrassment – he wanted to hug the boy and tell him that's going to make it but of course, Iruka was too fearful and of what? Certainly not what other people think… however, Iruka knew the answer was just as petty as the pending answer before. Iruka was, yes, afraid but of what? He knew he still feared Naruto. He feared Naruto because of many things. No matter what, Iruka still had that biased view of seeing the Nine-Tailed fox of Naruto. Naruto's grin and smiles reminded him of the fox who laughed at the destruction it cause Konohagakure twelve years ago. The "scratches" on Naruto's tanned face was like the monster's whiskers, which danced at chaos on Kyuubi's face. Naruto's eyes were all a terrible reminder of the demon's slits; Naruto's eyes were a friendly blue but still slits like Kyuubi's red and evil eyes that glowered in psychotic, never rueful power. However, his fear of Naruto was just placed in looks.

It was his attitude.

The attitude of this rebel, this outcast, this devil-may-cry personality… it send chills down his spine. He knew that Naruto, because of his "electric personality" and his "con", he could not or maybe never fit in with the regular people. Naruto carried burdens, burdens plural. Iruka frowned at that. What a disadvantage indeed. Most people cared most of the boy harboring a monster and judge of it as Naruto being the Kyuubi and vice versa. At that point, guilt and remorse always hit him – he knew he wasn't the role model of the year, especially with his hatred of the boy since he was twelve. Soon, however, curiosity had gotten the better of him and pretty soon, the hatred disappeared. He understood why Naruto did what he did. Naruto wanted a piece of the world to understand him, to know him. This piece of the world was growing rotten and not many understood him, no less his own people. Which he feared because of their hatred of him and his former disliking of the boy, would turn him against them. Many wouldn't say it, but he could sense the fear dangling in most of their eyes, behind a hating bravado that they had put up to shield themselves against the blond. He himself knew Naruto was too much of a mystery to judge by his cover. He knew there was more then meets the eye when it came to cases like Naruto.

"Naruto." Iruka whispered his name under his breath as he started to slurp on his Ramen as well.

Naruto looked at the man, with confusion. "What's wrong, sensei?"

"Ah, nothing, Naruto." Iruka waved him off as soon he let some of the salty egg noodles dangle and then go down his throat. "Hey, are you ready for the Genin Exams, Naruto?

Naruto grinned and laughed a little. "Of course!" He said confidently. "Why wouldn't I be?"

A smirk came onto Iruka's face. "Well, you did fail three times already."

Naruto put on a scowl – Iruka couldn't really tell if it was playfully fake or real as it could get – and answered Iruka. "Hey! I tried my best now."

Iruka laughed it off and waved. "Hai, hai. Yes, Naruto. I think you will do good in the Exams and if you do, I'll take you out for Ramen tomorrow, all-you-can-eat."

Naruto yelled as he jumped from his seat and grappled the man, clutching in a bear hug. "Arigato, Iruka-sensei!!" Iruka laughed as Naruto teleported back into his seat, slurping on Ramen. For once, Iruka wasn't thinking so much about his wallet and how "Itachi-chan" would be hurt. He put his hand on Naruto's head and rubbed his hand inside Naruto's golden locks.

For once, Iruka felt like a parent.

As the night progressed, from a dark 7:00 to a darker 8:00, Iruka and Naruto left, saying their small goodbyes and diverging into two paths. Iruka walked down his path, slowly. Suddenly, he felt a little adequate – he was the only one down this pathway and not a noise could be heard, except the calming and measured wind in the skies. The roar about that was usually heard in the skies was a whisper. There were no streetlights on and the path was almost for a blind man, it was naught for the moon over his head. The skies held no stars tonight; all of them went out like a light, which started yesterday night with one star. Iruka learned critically. "Without stars to lead the pathway, the skies will splay out disaster" was an old myth/legend/saying that Iruka learned from old philosophers and teachers that were quote as such in textbooks, an affinity that Iruka once never had. He didn't want to believe that he would have to use it here though.

"Something about to happen…" Iruka whispered to himself, as he unconsciously sped up his pace by a fraction more. Soon, a dread came to him, a familiar dread. He hobbled, turning around with a kunai his hand. "Who's there?!" He bellowed strongly. All there was was a falling darkness. Iruka breathed out and put his kunai inside his lower back pouch and, hesitant as ever, continued down his path to his apartment.

Suddenly, the first noise he heard the night besides his voice, came to his ears. Birds flapped away, possibly ravens in the air. Chunnin teacher Iruka now stood his ground with two kunai in his hand. "I don't know who you are but come out and fight."

Suddenly, a chuckle ripped through the darkness. "Iruka, Iruka, it seems that this is probably going to be the last time we met."

"That voice…" Iruka's eyes widened. "No, it can be…!"

"Of course it's me, 'Ruka." The shadow stepped out it's darkened porch and went into the moonlight. A gray hue of hair and piercing brown-red eyes came to view. They look into Iruka's set of eyes, psychotically. "Hello again, best friend."

"Mizuki", Iruka's voice almost failed him, however remember he was a ninja, he put up a sneering look at the man. "H-How did you get out?"

"Oh, well, I got a gift." Mizuki grinned. "My side saved me from that hellhole that was prison."

As Mizuki shivered, Iruka looked at him with one raised eyebrow. "Your side? What's your affiliation, traitor?" It hurt to call his first friend a traitor, it really did but Mizuki was a possible enemy now. 'No, he is an enemy now because he chose to side with whatever his affiliation is.' Mizuki grinned at the anxiety on Iruka's brown face. "Aww, what's wrong, 'Ruka? Are you… you aren't scared of little old me now?" Mizuki grabbed for his back, where he felt up and took a Fuuma Shuriken, a larger in girth and height than the regular standard Shuriken stars. "Come on 'Ruka, you don't have a good reason to fear me. After all, I was the one who stood up for you all these years when you were an outcast, but of course, you suckered people into liking you because your 'terrible' situation. Ha-ha, are you really deserving of such pity? I bet you swam in their pity for you, you bitch."

Oh how it hurt for Mizuki to say those words. Iruka's only true friend was fully intended to hurt him like this, like he enjoyed it. "Mizuki, please-"

"Oh please what? Give you some pity? I'm tired Iruka, I have been tired with this village for five years now. I'm tired of everybody I know, even my own wife holding me back." (6) Iruka looked as Mizuki became sadden at that. "Which is why I decide to search for power on the other leagues in the world and to tell you the truth, Iruka, I feel great." Mizuki laughed as he pushed Iruka down, harshly. Iruka grunted. 'What power and speed! I didn't even see him!' Iruka felt death right under his nose again as he felt the Fuuma Shuriken near his throat, begging for his former best friend to put it through the fallen man. Mizuki locked Iruka in a headlock as Iruka gasped for air. "M-Mizu-" He grunted as air was released out his stomach. A crunching kind of feeling filled him as Mizuki's white furious fists drove in his belly once, twice, and thrice. There was only one hobble of pain that rose in him. It felt like he was bleeding. Maybe he was? Iruka quickly touched his hurting lower abdomen with twitching fingers; he blew a withdrawn breath relieve to see his best friend did not have any blades beside the enlarged shuriken at Iruka's nape. However, dread still was there as Mizuki's headlock seem to get thinner and tighter.

"Mi-Zu-Ki… what do… want for me?"

"A victim." Mizuki smiled, grinning at Iruka's troubled gasps for air, let alone talking. "This village has been the problem all along, I was too blind to see it. Maybe if I was faster, I could have saved you, ne?"


"Save it. I know I wouldn't 'save' you from here, even if I had no choice or wanted to. You are too weak, Iruka. You need pity in order to be strong, to feel good. You have gotten pity from the smallest of the people to the Hokage, leader of this village. Now, I don't need to say a thing in order to know this village has nothing but piteous people who pity a slug like you." Iruka felt two pains now. "Tonight, you will be my hostage, to sate my revenge against this village. I'm going to kill you as you stand. As I kill you, I won't have to see those piteous eyes they lay on you anymore. You are alone, Iruka. You have no family, not a single soul as a friend. Nobody will mourn for you and no pity will come."

Iruka's eyes flew open. "Don't… do this…"

"What? Fearful of your death now?" Mizuki sneered, psychotic eyes streaked with red.

"Mizuki… won't you mourn for me…?" Iruka said, weakly. His subconscious grew weak and he was falling unconscious. Suddenly, he felt himself drop to the floor, crumpled with the pathway's melted stones, shaped like clingstones. He hit the path with a hard crash, hurting his elbow. He stared up slowly to see his former friend in a rage storm with his mind.

Mizuki stood, darkened then before. Befuddle and crazed with a bloodlust. Iruka could see something in the man, as if a demon was inside, fueling this hating and self-hating. Iruka wasn't only fearful of this silhouette but rather fearful of what would happen to this silhouette. The only think Iruka could see after he said that question, Mizuki stood, conflicted. At this point, Iruka felt like he should cry but stood, swallowing the saltiness and bitterness on his tongue. Once he did that, Mizuki seem to stare up at Iruka and look at him for a puzzling, tense and overly awkward silence. Mizuki's fingers twitched.

"Iruka…" He breathed out. He sounded so weak, so frail. "I'm sorry…" It almost came as a whisper. Mizuki straightened up as his hand darted to his back and grabbed a Fuuma Shuriken, a stagnant but still look grazed his dirtied face. "Sayonora."

"Mizuki!" Said crazed man turned in the wisps of the sudden darkness, as he turned to see one person who affected him almost as much as Iruka. "Tsubasa."

The woman stood, her black hair in a fizz, almost. She looked down from a red rooftop at the man, who stood with an almost defeated face behind the cold and insane fortification. "Mizuki… why? Why did you-?"

"Save it for another who cares, Tsubasa." Mizuki sneered, his mask becoming iron clad again. "If you come near me, you will die." Tsubasa looked back, saddened more.

'His fingers… are twitching…' Iruka noticed that Mizuki stood there, like he wasn't what he was now. Conflicted and estranged, he fought that war in his mind. Unfortunately, his evilness was winning.

"Mizuki… don't you care…? Don't you care for me?" The black coal eyes stared back into his shaded brown eyes, who looked around, bewildered.

"Mizuki, you don't have to do this… you could still become a ninja of the Leaf again…" Iruka tried but his head was yet again gripped in a headlock. Mizuki dangled his hands out, darting them wildly.

"Silence, fools! If I wanted to stay here, I wouldn't be doing this." He sneered again, his body twitching still. "I hate you, I hate you all!"

"You don't me that…!" Tsubasa tried again, almost seeming weak. "Please, Mizu-kun!"

"Never again… will you or Iruka ever see me again because you'll both be dead!" Mizuki harshly let Iruka go and started to run away, with the Fuuma almost falling out his hands.

Tsubasa and Iruka looked at each other quickly and then ran to catch up with Mizuki. They were shocked to see Mizuki was faster than he was. Before, it seemed that he wasn't that good of a ninja, an aspect many forgiven him for since his being was more better. Now, as they hopped and leaped through rooftop to rooftop, he seemed to be faster and strong - and more determined to losing them, Iruka noted. Mizuki truly wanted to leave the Leaf, to leave them. Iruka was devastated, but probably not as confounded as his wife, Tsubasa, who loved Mizuki since he knew him. Iruka's life was helped out, thanks to Mizuki; the snout-blemished man has a friend for the last 12 years. Mizuki was more to Iruka than he ever thought. Mizuki balanced out Iruka's life with the kind friend he was. It didn't matter how strong he was or how great he was, Iruka and Tsubasa was content on having the real Mizuki in their lives to balance them out.

Iruka peered a little at the black haired woman jogging in front of him. He knew Tsubasa wasn't the same as before, as her husband's speed increased. Tsubasa didn't have the easiest life out of all of them, he should know, Tsubasa was an old teammate of his, as was Mizuki. Tsubasa came from a broken-down family who seem to get poor as they lived. They were in constant debt; not even the powerful of men and women could break that debt circle – major reasons were behind that fact. Since her family's ancestors, they became a weakened and broken family who could not break free from debt. Tsubasa, in her earlier years, struggled to be a great ninja to bring home a good salary to them. In ways, it was beneficial for which her parents died in the Kyuubi no Kitsune Incident twelve years ago because Tsubasa could easily finance and provide herself without him but he thought about again as heartless. Tsubasa was too much of a saint. She would support her family before herself. She truly loved them to death and so does to this day, where she's seen going to their graveyard a lot. Iruka couldn't say that they didn't deserve her love or she didn't need to kill herself in order to become one of the greatest ninjas.

In the guilty part of his mind, Iruka felt closer than he was suppose to be with Tsubasa. While not having a godly face and appearance, Tsubasa had her charms. Her black hair, polite smile and firm but nice attitude all but didn't dissuade the man. In fact, he liked her; he liked her more than he was suppose to. He felt bad that he had somewhat feelings for Tsubasa, as that was Mizuki's rightful wife in marriage however; the darker side of him couldn't care less, he knew. This feeling for a relationship, a mutual relationship with 24-year-old woman was harboring, growing stronger. He wished so badly that he didn't see her like that, that he wasn't almost in love with the woman, but he couldn't shake this feelings, no matter how much he wanted to.

Iruka shook his head, trying to desperately not to think THAT not only in her presence, but also at the trailing Mizuki. Even at them very likely to not hear his thoughts, he still felt culpable of having the gall to think about it. With these mix of emotions in scrambled thinking, he could hardly concentrate at the task on hand: getting Mizuki back, possibly into a jail cell. Speeding himself up, he strode with Tsubasa, side-by-side as they leaped off of hundreds of endless rooftops to get to the gray haired betrayer. Suddenly, they met at the peak of the village; the only thing stopping Mizuki was large but aging wooden doors that created the Konoha Gate. He looked at the gate for a second, as did Mizuki, while the woman deadlocked her eyes towards Mizuki's parading figure.

"Mizuki!" She thundered strongly weak. Iruka knew this was hard for her, just like this was hard for him. "B-By order of this village…" She sighed, swallowing hard, getting the chocking lump out of her throat and back into her stomach. "If you won't admit your defeat and concede now, I will be force to use deadly force." Iruka almost did not hear the word "deadly", as did Mizuki, as she tripped over the word. It was hard to promise death to a loved one.

Mizuki still looked at the gate, without acknowledging Tsubasa or Iruka's presence. Right then, he sighed and slumped his shoulders. Right then, he seems to concede to Konoha's two forces but they couldn't tell by his face. Not true to his nature, Mizuki lashed out at the two with dual Fuuma Shuriken in both of his hands. The two watched as the windmills came closer and closer. At the last second – frozen in paralyzing disbelief – the pair jumped in different direction. When it seemed they were safe, the Fuuma Shuriken stars came after him and unfortunately, Iruka found that out too late. He felt his back being impaled by one of the blades. He grunted, trying to hold back a scream of horror. Oh, what fate of a friend trying to attack me, Iruka's thoughts were akin to. And because of Tsubasa's unbelieving face, she seemed to be in revulsion and thinking along with Iruka. As the blade came out of Iruka's back - harshly and more painful than when it came in - Mizuki chuckled insanely. "Aww, 'Ruka can't take the pain? Don't worry, this will end quickly, I promise you."

And soon, the chakra string on the shuriken picked it up and launched the twirling blade with it. This time, Iruka Umino knew this wasn't aimed at his back this time…

Everything slowed down…

Tsubasa's terrifyingly fearful screams entered his soul, ears, heart and deafened mind…

He could no longer move…

It was over…

CLASH! The sounds of a blade hitting another blade… the sounds of a sword hitting a shuriken… SNAP! A rope snapping sounded ring through his ears. Iruka, at that moment, opened his eyes as he only felt one pain, which was from his back and not from his neck or forehead. Curiosity bit at him and at that moment, he was shocked. Now, he stood a man, albeit a tall one. He looked on as he stood there with a smiling mask on, with jet black, straight hair. His skin was dark, at the pigment of his. He stood there, dark and strong arms folded under his chest. Iruka could already tell that the smiling face was opposite of what the man was doing. Also, Iruka knew that what the man was part of: ANBU.

"Mizuki Urashima. (7) I have come to stop this charade of yours. This hour chase has gone long enough, it seems."

"Wha - wait a minute," Iruka got up, weakly. "You have been watching this whole for a hour?! And you didn't do anything?"

The man seem to not respond at Iruka's question for a second as did everyone believe that the man wasn't going to answer the scarred man. "Umino, it was for the best. After all, Hokage-sama did believe you had the necessary skills to take on such a weakling."


"Is that why I had to imprison you two nights ago?" The man almost said in a whisper. Iruka and Tsubasa's eyes flew open and pretty soon, their beloved Mizuki also did.

"Y-you imprisoned me?! How come I didn't know this?!" Mizuki's screech again ringed. "YOU BASTARD! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU!"

Iruka and Tsubasa cringed as Mizuki came through running… and squirmed more when Mizuki slumped to the ground. Tsubasa then looked sadly at the man below, looking up at the ANBU with some contempt even though it was evident that man saved Iruka from death and . "What… did you do?"

"Disabled him, of course." He stood and picked up the fallen man. "This time, we will keep him contained in a better cell with higher security. Who knew he could get so strong quickly. Of course, with him as a catalyst, I'm not too surprise, much less keen."

"What, 'him'? Who's 'him'?" Iruka spoke, despite the ripping pain in his back. "Who are you?"

"I am codenamed 'Shinji'. You can call me that. Right now, I will not reveal any information of who 'he' is, due to the problem Urashima seems to have right now. I will take him back to Hokage-sama and then he will deal with him with a punishment he sees fit."

"Isn't it fitting for a shiny knight in armor to tell us his name?" Tsubasa solicited. Iruka noted that this seemingly playfully voice was all but horrid sarcasm and scorn.

The man turned away from the two Chunnin and walked away, not uttering another world again.

Tsubasa stared into the darkness – with much of a scornful glare, Iruka noted – until she turned back to the barely standing man in front of her, holding his bleeding back. She gasped. "Oh, Iruka! I totally forgot."

Iruka smile was minuscule, trying to show his strength to her, but miserably failed. "I-I'm fine."

"No, you're not! Come on", she wrapped his right arm around her neck and held his abdomen with her left arm. "Let's get you to the hospital."

After four of his complaining sentence, he sighed and let her carry him. He was so much in pain now that he couldn't say he was all right now. He let Tsubasa support him as they leaved the peak of the village, where he confusedly thought of one person that had not to do with this.

'I hope Naruto's doing okay.' And the night never felt so tense.

Secret Ending In the end of it all, Mizuki became a mess. Deprived of power and given shock that again was he imprisoned, he did not starched himself anymore and threw a tantrum around the jail cell, cursing his luck and fate. However, he was not deprived of his senses as he felt another presence behind him, wallowing in the shadows.

He felt a smile on him, vile as ever.

The night wasn't over for him. It was only beginning.

The clock struck 5:00 and power rose again.

A/N: Yes, only part 1(!), inserting gasps, of this story. I hope you enjoyed it. I surely did. Now, this is obviously an alternative universe where Naruto didn't steal the Hidden Village Scroll because Mizuki never coned him into it and so, Mizuki tries to do it himself but got imprisoned. At the end, I was rushing, I know but I wanted to finish it. Originally, it was plan to be a 100 KB one-shot but I decided make it a two-shot or maybe a three-shot if this story becomes a running success. When I started this that was like what, two, three weeks ago? I think each one should be to that time but since school is coming up, I wanted to leak this out to my story index.

I just edited this chapter because of some of the problems in it. It is now equipped with a key, a better introduction and with a secret ending to talk about the impending doom of the next chapter, of which I already started on. Given that school doesn't manhandle me, I will be putting it up soon.

Now, there are significant changes I created from the canon story of Naruto but not much. As you see, Naruto's still that ninja who acts like a fool but could be a good ninja because he has unlimited potential. In here, some of the main characters have come to see that Naruto is too much an enigma and is pulled in by him. Obviously, I will do it in many people's perspectives, all except NARUTO! In a way, everybody's a main character – except particular villains and minor, minor characters – except the boy but since the story is still told about him, he will remain as the star.

This is probably going to be the last story I'm creating for a while. I admit I make too many stories I don't complete – inserting my embarrassment – so yeah. Here are the explanations on some things in the chapter.

1) "'I need an Kon-pill.'"A joke on how famous medicines that 'cure' headaches such as Tylenol or Advil, are needed. Konoha isn't so far from not having that. Ha!

2) "Iruka almost cried at that spot because his Itachi-chan was simply being emptied out because of Naruto." Contrast to Naruto's nicknamed wallet "Gama-chan", Iruka has also nicknamed his wallet, calling it "Itachi-chan". No, not named after Itachi Uchiha, but rather what itachi means in Japanese, which means, "weasel". Just like Naruto like frogs, Iruka like weasels, no pun attended. Ha-ha-ha!

3) "He was a nazo all right." The word "Nazo" means "mystery", "unknown" or "enigma" in Japanese. Considerably, the former sentence actually tells you what it means i.e. they are context clues.

4) ""Certainly. D.E.P.W.S.S stand for: 'Determination, endurance/experience, power, will, speed and stamina.' I believe these six things beside knowledge is the thing that carries you in the ninja world. For example, we were taught that chakra is a substance that is in every little thing, right?"" For one, D.E.P.W.S.S. isn't a real acronym used in Naruto, so don't get on my ass. It is simply to define Naruto's thinking of what would balance out a ninja correctly. Second, I expanded the ideals and ideas of chakra. According to my version of Naruto, every little thing has chakra in it, from fauna to flora, to the liquids and to the solids. The planet is pretty much a chakra powerhouse. I thought this would explain why ninjas could do certain things such as summon animals or climb trees with their chakra and such.

5) "Naruto gripped his chin and rubbed it slightly. "Then, take these two scenarios. Suppose an animal is being taught on what Natural Selection is and its mortal enemy is chasing down the animal. The animal knows its only one enemy and it knows where it's going but the other animal has its natural affinity of strength over the animal. Who wins? The animal of knowledge or the animal of strength?"

"Well, the animal of knowledge obviously."

Naruto grinned. "Can you tell me why?"" Seriously, I do not know if this true, because this is too impossible to tell. I mean, I might overestimate animals a little or underestimate them the same. Who know? Maybe it's vice versa. Maybe it just comes varied; anybody could win or lose.

6) ""Oh please what? Give you some pity? I'm tired Iruka, I have been tired with this village for five years now. I'm tired of everybody I know, even my own wife holding me back."" Yes, yes, yes Mizuki has a wife. It isn't non-canon, or she isn't an OC, the woman is a minor character seen in an OVA. Don't believe me? Look it up. Look up "Tsubasa" as in Naruto and not in another anime/manga. I will not answer to any comments like "Oh, is Mizuki's OC wife going to reappear?"

7) ""Mizuki Urashima. (7) I have come to stop this charade of yours. This hour chase has gone long enough, it seems."" Mizuki doesn't seem to have a surname, for the pathetic ninja he is, and since I wanted the character I created to address him professional, I created a surname for him. It isn't to be taken or seen as a fact. This is artificial.

Other than that, explanations on certain key characters.

1) Iruka Umino: I expanded Iruka's character just a little more. Instead of him being automatically content with Naruto as he is, I decided to make him at first, fearful and spiteful of the boy to make seem like he's imperfect but to see his errors of his way. In a way still, he's flawed. He's still fearful of the boy and terribly compares him to the Nine Tailed Fox. With the whole Iruka-Mizuki thing, I based it on the canon. Mizuki was a good influence on Iruka and did do all those things I listed as him. Basically, I made Iruka more flawed than you see and Mizuki a little more human but I know what you going to say about him and Tsubasa. I decided to make all three of them not only friends, but as teammates and somewhat locked in a love triangle to spice up Iruka, who is really ignored through most stories of Naruto, I note. One chapter, he's one of the only people who respect Naruto and then, he's thrown away like a shape. So, I decide to keep him as regular character in this story. After all, he's quite important.

2) Sakura Haruno: Again, I expanded her but a little. In this little universe I created, she doesn't seem to show some contempt towards Naruto, in fact, likes him in a sense because he's "cute". Of course, like any NaruSaku story, she ignores that – which I'm not saying the story is going to be that kind of story. She's important too. Her and Iruka has gotten the most air time in this story with Hinata and Sasuke barely being seen. She's one of the people who want to know Naruto Uzumaki. She sees him as better than what she first sees him in the original version. Expect her more in the story.

3) Sasuke Uchiha: Another one of those who I expanded. I decided that Sasuke is more than he seems in the canon. Of course traumatized at the slaughter of his clan, he thinks that killing his brother will destroy that traumatizing memory but he seems to dream like he dreamt before that happen - being just like his older brother. Even at the age of 12, this boy – who tries to be older than he looks – tries to figure out if he loves his clan more than he loves his brother. His admiration of his brother might be stronger than his "iron" clad will to kill him. Sasuke will be in this story, looking at Naruto as well. While, not planning to, he will.

4) Hinata Hyuuga: Yes, yes, she will be in it too and I know it's already cliché to include her as she already thinks Naruto is some type of god, she will be to learn a lesson as well.

Hell, all of them will.

Now, the split personality is a little thing compared to Inner Sakura, who Sakura uses to vent out her real emotions with for the half of the Naruto series. Let it be known that her split will come to appear soon. Like all of them, she was expanded to seem interesting.

5) The main character, Naruto: He himself was expanded for my clear view and not yours. What he thinks, I created and what he believes I made. This Naruto might be different from canon Naruto but at the same time the same. Toward two of the characters he has dealt with, he has become cold for a second and smiley the next. What he thinks of, as a 'disadvantage' will come in play and again, it isn't the Nine-Tailed Fox, but something worst. Soon, my friends, the enigma will be revealed soon.

Now I believe I wasted almost twenty minutes of your time at the end, so I'll do my begging for reviews and the disclaimer and be on my merry way.


And yes, I don't own Naruto or any of its depending characters. Only thing I own is that OC in the end, so don't worry.

Well, that's all my time, see you later, cherries.