A/N: So, here's the first one of the contest winners, waiting for your judgement as to whether it's worthy of going on from here!

(I'm thinking of sending the 'three big ones' in waves, so that they'll all be out before Christmas. Does that sound like a plan?)

Before starting out… Once more ENORMOUS thank yous for all those votes! It's thanks to you guys this fic's seeing daylight today. (HUGS)

Awkay, because I bet you'd like to get to the business already… Here we go – the introduction chapter for To Serve And Protect! I REALLY hope you'll enjoy.

To Serve And Protect

Not all stories are finished where most of them meet the final lines. In some occasions, one must go to the very beginning before the tale finally ends.

" Are you going out?" Kiba Inuzuka's half asleep voice inquired.

" Yeah. Why?"

Kiba went back to resting on a couch and scratching his dog's, Akamaru's, fur. " Be good while I'm not keeping an eye on you."

There was a snort. " Pervert."

A circle must be closed.

" R – Run, you i– idiot… He… He's…"

Naruto didn't budge from where he was. Steps were heard.

A gun that shone like silver in moonlight was lifted. " Sorry about this. This is nothing personal."

Sometimes, however, the closure may face a twist of fate…

A small bird that'd been sitting on a rooftop gave a scream and got to its wings as fast as possible, a gunshot disturbing its peace.

CHAPTER 1: Intro

Six Months Earlier.

While walking through already dark streets of Tokyo, twenty-three years old Naruto Uzumaki counted that today, it was exactly five years from when he'd moved into the city – surprised everyone and left his old life as well as his tiny hometown, Konoha, behind.

That day, he'd been relieved beyond any belief to get to start a new life, away from everything. Now, however – with rain beating his face and a long, frustrating day of work in a coffee shop behind – no amount of reasoning kept him from wishing he could've gone back to the start, at least for a little while.

His depressed thoughts were cut sharply when something he would've never expected facing practically ran into him. From behind a corner a man with black eyes and equally dark hair that had a pot-haircut wobbled into view, clutching one hand tightly to a badly bleeding chest wound and gasping.

In some other situation the expression that appeared to his face could've been described as comical. His eyes widened and bulged until they almost popped out, and all colour disappeared from his skin. He couldn't bring himself to speak or move until the stranger was only two steps away. " Hey, geez… What happened? Are you…?" He didn't bother to finish; it was quite obvious that the raven was not okay.

His heart hammered while the man's full weight landed against him, leaning for support, and he could already feel warm blood that stained his clothes. Dark eyes were filled with several emotions from pain to terror when finding his. " R – Run, you i– idiot…", the other rasped. There was a clonk when something the man had been holding fell to ground. " He… He's…"

He couldn't even breathe before a chilling, ear splittingly loud bang echoed through the alleyway. For a second or so everything was perfectly still, then – as though in a slowed motion – the unfamiliar man slid to the ground, dead. Pool of blood stained pavement rain had made black, coming from a gunshot wound that'd just appeared to the raven's head. It was obvious that nothing could be done for the man anymore.

While he stared at the corpse with wide, disbelieving eyes and shuddered like a leaf, he wished from the bottom of his heart that he would've managed to scream or move, anything. But something was blocking his airways, and his limbs were much heavier than concrete.

It was then his eyes spotted something that despite the horrendous situation nailed his attention. There, lay on the ground, was what looked like a cd or a disk of some sort.

The crackling, panicked male-voice that came next startled him so badly that he jumped backwards. " Lee? Lee, answer me, damnit! Are you in there?!"

Rain and still flooding terror almost managed to block his ears from the sounds of splashes as steps approached. Very slowly, unwillingly, lifting his gaze he found a grey haired young man with glasses approaching. His already huge eyes widened even further when a silvery weapon was lifted against him. " Sorry about this." For some reason his gaze locked to a snake tattoo on the other's wrist that shone like dried blood in pale moonlight. " This is nothing personal."

With thoughts and memories flashing by in a flood, he prepared himself for the final seal. But for once in his life he had luck.

There was another bang – much sharper than the one he'd heard before – and the grey haired man threatening him spun around with a breathtaking speed, firing some fast shots towards a nearby roof. And it was then he saw his opportunity arriving.

Having barely any control over his actions he snatched the disk he'd seen on the ground, then ran, not really knowing where he was going. He didn't even care about the destination, so long as it was away from the shooting.

As soon as he was at a distance he considered safe, he threw up loudly, some tears spilling to his at the moment snow-white cheeks. He was trembling so badly that the disk barely remained in his hold.

What the hell had he just seen?!

By the time Naruto finally made it home – after taking all possible detours and ending up lost for five times because of shock – it was already midnight.

He wasn't surprised to find his roommate and best friend Kiba Inuzuka awake, flipping through channels quite dully. " Well look who finally shows up. Did you find the…?" Black eyes then turned towards him, and widened dramatically when spotting his pale features and all the already dried blood staining his clothes. " Holy shit! What did you do this time?"

In any other situation he might've been annoyed, but now he only kept shivering and feeling like throwing up. " I…" He swallowed hard. " You'll… never believe this."

Kiba's eyebrow bounced high up. " Try me."

Three days after those events, Naruto was getting a splitting headache while sitting in the office of a highly noted prosecutor, Jiraiya. " We've been through this for thousand times already!" he whined, running a hand through his hair with great exasperation. " How many more times do I have to retell the events of that night? It isn't exactly the highlight of my life."

The man gave him a look of understanding. " I know, kid. But it sounds like you're dealing with a man we've been chasing and trying to nail for the past ten years already. We want to make sure we've got all the facts right so we'll get this over with."

He was by no means a genius, but he'd been lied to enough during his lifetime to know that he wasn't told everything. " This is a huge case, right?"

Jiraiya hesitated before nodding slowly. " Yeah."

Did the room's temperature just drop? Because he was shivering. " I'm… the only living witness, aren't I?"

" No. But you're definitely the best we've got so far. You may be exactly what we've been praying for."

Something warm bubbled in his stomach. He swallowed although it was a difficult task. " You'll protect me from those creeps, won't you?" For several nights he'd gotten barely any sleep, afraid that the grey haired freak would somehow make it into his room and…

Jiraiya's expression became so solemn that it scared him. " I'm sorry kid, but… We can't guarantee protection good enough for you. But I know people who can…" The man pulled out a small card that had few words imprinted to it. " There's an organization called 'ANBU' – Root is specialized in highly classified missions, Black Ops in witness protection. During twenty active years they've only lost two or three clients." The man dared to grin a bit. " If there's anyone who can protect you, it's they."

He also grinned, his chest feeling much lighter now. " Then what are we waiting for? Give me a phone." After all, things couldn't get any worse from here, right?

Sasuke Uchiha's hands were perfectly even when she lifted her weapon, then fired four carefully darted shots, each of them roaring the exact same second thunder did outside.

" Sasuke."

Her eyes narrowed while she fired a fifth shot, coming to a conclusion that the voice belonged to one of the ghosts in the back of her head.

" Sasuke!"

Sixth shot, which almost shattered the board to which she was aiming.

" Sasuke!"

Finally convinced that this voice was in fact a real one, she put away her gun and removed earplugs while turning around to face her boss, Kakashi Hatake. " What?" Her tone certainly wasn't such that would've been smart to be used when talking to a superior. But she'd known Kakashi far too long to care, especially after some sleepless nights.

The man's face didn't weaver. " We just got a new client." There was a beat's pause. " Jiraiya requested you."

She arched an eyebrow. " Oh…?" She knew exactly what kind of a mission there'd be to come if she was the one asked to take care of it.

Things would get messy.

" Look, the last mission was… rough, to say the very least, and officially you're still recovering." Kakashi's eyes held sympathy she wouldn't have expected to find from them. " I understand if you…"

She didn't want to listen to that. " Spare both our time and tell me about the mission."

There was still some reluctance upon her boss' face. " It's… Orochimaru related. Apparently Kabuto had a mission." The man held a pause, contemplating. " Sasuke… Lee's dead."
Only pride kept her eyes from widening. " What?" She took a moment to compose herself. " Why the hell didn't anyone tell me?!"

" You only just came back to work today. I asked everyone not to bother you with it just yet." The man sighed, running a hand through silvery hair. " I gave Sakura a month off, but I doubt she'll stay away that long."

Blood boiled in her veins, just like pretty much every time Orochimaru was brought up. This had gone too far… " Do we have any witnesses?"

" Actually, yes. And that's your mission." Kakashi's face held the same hard look as always when the man gave an assignment. " Apparently a young man named Naruto Uzumaki saw pretty much the entire thing. He stayed there so long that he eventually caught a good look of Kabuto. He's willing to testify."

She grit her teeth so tightly that even Kakashi must've heard the screech. So there's finally hope… " Where can I find that idiot?"

Neither of the two could've ever imagined what kind of a wheel spun into motion that day…


A/N: So… Whadda you say – should this one get a chance?

I must warn you… If you want this to continue, with all the projects going on I'm not entirely sure of when I'll be able to update. BUT, I'm more than willing to try my very hardest if you find this worthy of giving a shot. (grins)

PLEASE, do send a review before you go!

Until laters, guys – have a great rest of the Halloween time!

Be good!