Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

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Did you ever have those moments in life where you feel like you're invincible, like you can do anything for one moment, and then wind up dead as a doornail the next? Then you have a being only spoken in mythology offering you an opportunity at life and I'm getting way ahead of myself. Actually it's best it start at the beginning.

The main concept is true though, at first I was ordinary guy. I was basically like everyone else who just graduated high school. Partying my ass off, hanging around with my friends, and eventually thinking about what to do with myself.

For me I had several options: attend college, join the military, or just work for the rest of my life.

I just didn't know I was set to die, but hey, who knew?

It happen like this, I was going to the bank to get some cash for something. It was quiet day so it didn't cross my mind that something was going to happen. I was just waiting in line when two guys in ski mask brandishing pistols charge right in the front door. You have a good idea what happens next, robbers threaten with force, people get down on the floor, and the robbery commences.

Fortuanly, one of the bank tellers click the 'alert police' button and the police we're quick to arrive. Unfortuanly, it turn into a hostage situation, and lucky me I was one of them.

I was held at gunpoint with an arm around my neck as one of the robbers used me as a bargaining chip for his and his buddies escape. At this point I was sweating bullets, if I try to step out of line I'm dead. The other hostage, a five year old girl, was on the verge on crying but the threat of "Cry and your head will splatter" kept her silent. The police didn't have a good vantage point to take either robber out without harming one of us. It was a few tense minutes.

Now this is where my "imminent death" was at hand. Apparently the little girl hostage broke down and started bawling her eyes out, which in turn pissed the robber off. He tightens the grip on the girl's neck and shouted, "Shut up you damn bit-"he didn't finish as the girl gave a quick kick in the crotch. Despite my current predicament, I can't help but wince a bit. The robber lost his grip and grabbed his nuts his pain, seeing the opportunity one police officer shot three rounds, the guy fell like a bag of bricks.

The other who held me hostage tighten his grip further, I was almost unable to breath at this time. I could tell from his slight shaking that he was now starting to panic. "Nobody move or this bastard's ass is grass you hear me!" It was at this moment that in all 18 years of living what I did next was by far the most dumbass thing I've done.

I raised my foot and with all the adrenaline-fueled fear I possessed I slam down on the robber's foot as hard as I can humanly can. Somehow through some miraculous chance of luck, instead of blasting my brain to oblivion he cursed and loosens the grip on my neck. Seeing the opportunity I reeled my head forward and shot it back onto the man's face, increasing his pain. He lost his grip on me and I jumped to distance myself from the guy. Gunshots were heard all around me

"GODDAMN YOU!" I turn my head slightly to see the robber, filled with bullet wounds, aim his gun at me.

"Oh shi-"

*BANG*

I felt a searing pain pierce my chest as a powerful force knocked me backgrounds. Making me land on the street, hard. The world around began to slow down as I lay there shot through the chest.

*Ba-bump*

The only sounds I could hear were my own breathing and my declining heartbeat.

*Ba-bump*

I reach to the spot on my chest with my right hand and felt something wet. I pull back my hand to see blood all over it.

*Ba-bump*

My vision began to blur, my head was feeling light. I could barely make out a blur figure infront of me. The figure's words were muffled and hardly recongnizable.

*Ba-bump*

My eyelids felt heavy as a sudden wave of sleepiness wash over me. 'This is it. I'm gonna die.'

*Ba-bump*

Then everything went black.

XXXXX

Chapter One: Second Go

XXXXX

*Drip*

"Hmm…"

*Drip*

'What that's sound?'

*Drip*

'Is that water?'

*Drip*

"Woah!" I immediately got up when I felt my legs were submerged in water. "Where the hell did all this water come from?" I then look around my surroundings, "Where the hell am I?"

I found myself in what could only be describe as some sort of sewer, defiantly not on the streets in front of the local bank. Speaking of which…

"How the hell did I get here? Wasn't I just shot a moment ago?" I check my chest to find that there wasn't any bullet hole, or any injury for that matter.

"What's going on?"

"Boy." An ominous voice came out from nowhere.

A chill went up my spine, "Who…who's there?"

"Follow the sound of my voice."

"Your voice? What do you want from me?"

"Just follow the sound of my voice and all your questions will be answer."

"I don't know," I began heading to the opposite direction of this "voice", "Mysterious voice out of nowhere, telling me to follow it. Not happening."

"Stubborn human, seems I have to use force."

"What do you mean fo-" I suddenly felt a strong force grab me by the shirt, lift me several feet in the air, and started pulling me to who knows where. Everything around me was a blur as I was being pulled through wherever I was in breakneck speed. It was like flying through a hallway fast-forward, though I'm not really flying, and sure as hell that I'm not in a hallway.

As I was pulled deeper and deeper into the sewers a growing sense of dread was building up. I couldn't even explain why, it was just; it was just that I can sense something. Something big, and defiantly not human.

After a sharp, 90 degree right turn I felt whatever was reeling me in suddenly remove its grip on me. Normally that would be a good thing, but considering I was in the air with no immediate stable ground beneath me, the momentum I have cause me to bounce off the water-covered floor, hard.

I felt my body make about 5 bounces before skidding about 10 ft to a stop. I rolled over to my back, "Okay, that hurt…" It was right then and there that I saw something that just plain stood out.

A gate.

A giant gate.

A giant gate with some sort of paper charm attach to it.

A giant gate with some sort of paper charm attach to it that has a giant fox with nine-tails looking down on me with a sinister grin.

'Please for the sake of all that is holy that this thing is friendly.' I slowly got up from the water covered floor, eyes still lock on the demonic visage before me.

The being behind the gates gave some sort of snort, "Of among all the possibilities in the realm of the dead I have to get this one. Well beggars can't be choosers I suppose." The being spoke in perfect Japanese.

Despite my current situation I can't help but feel a bit peeved at the indirect insult (and a little thankful that my mom drilled all those lessons about my "2nd natural language" into my head ever since elementary school), but I decided to best keep my thought to myself. Though one thought did strike me…

"What do you mean 'realm of the dead'?" I ask the presence in Japanese, trying with every cell in my being to not panic or something.

"So not only does the boy understand, but speak the tongue as well. And to speak to me in such a calm manner too, maybe you're not a worthless last-minute pick after all."

"You still haven't answered my question."

"Such a brash attitude." just then a giant claw covered in orange fur reached out from between the bars and attempt to grab me. I immediately duck the claw, rolled to a safer distance, and immediately got into a defensive stance.

The claw retracted back into the gates, chuckling can be heard on the other side of it. "And judging from that stance a 'competent' fighter too, you are proving yourself a better pick for the task I have plan for you."

The word "tasks" caused me to back away a bit, "May I please ask what you mean by 'tasks'?"

"Awwwwww," the voice called out in a hurt tone, "Don't you trust little ol' me?"

"I don't know about you, but a giant fox with nine-tails is not usually something you can place your trust in. Plus you still haven't answered my question about the 'realm of the dead'. I also don't know where this place is or how I end up here. "

The glare the fox gave me caused me to flinch. "Fine," the fox spoke, "but allow me to go fit into something a bit more…comforting for this talk." It wrapped its body with all of its nine tails. I immediately got ready for any sneaky moves.

'What does it mean by that?'

A red glow emanated from the wrapped tails.

'Is it going to try and surprise attack me again?'

The glow subsided.

'What's with the light show, is this some sort of illusion?'

One of the tails began to unfurl, I tense up a bit.

'Whatever it's planning here it comes.'

More tails also began to unwind.

'I need to be careful for any…funny…tricks…Oh god.'

I started remembering about stories my Mom told me when I was kid about how kitsune (which I believe the creature before me is) taking on a human form to trick people. When I can honestly say that I'm just got one hell of a shock of my 'supposed afterlife'.

When all the tails were unwrapped, a woman who could appear to be in the prime of her youth was in place. She an elegant crimson kimono on, tied by a orange obi that gave a sense of emphasis on her…figure. She was tall, not like her fox-form kind of tall, more like 5'10 if I'm guessing right. Her hair was fiery red, and reached all the way to about mid-back. Her skin was pale, not ghostly, but just enough to be noticeable. Though what really got me was her face. Her face was quite beautiful (even with the weird whisker marks on her skin), but when I saw that her iris were read with the pupils similar to a cat, I force myself to remember who she was before changing. Especially since she still kept her fox ears and tails in her current form, probably to make her seem more attractive. Though I can't help but blush a bit.

The woman before gave a faint chuckle, not one of innocents, more like one of amusement. "I must say, most men would force themselves at my feet at the sight of my human visage. Though you remain control of your emotions. It could mean you either gay (my eyebrow twitch) or more innocent than you appear."

"Considering that you were a giant fox with nine tails before, I prefer to keep my distance." I return.

The fox woman gave a passive wave of her hand, "Details, details." A chair materialize behind the woman and she gave a seat, cross her legs, and her eyes turn from mischievous to serious, "I'm well aware of your confusion, and you have a plethora of questions, but first let me tell a little about myself and the events that led up to this moment. So it's best to sit down for this one."

I lowered my guard, "I prefer to stand if you don't mind Kitsune-san. I'm still a bit cautious, human instinct."

"If you wish," my "host" said, "Tell me, do you know what a parallel world is?"

That question puzzled me, but I decided to answer anyway, "It's an alternative version of a world. The original and the alternative can be the same, but there's a key factor, either minor or big that separates the two. Or something like that."

The fox woman nodded, "That's the basic view of it, now here's another question. Do you believe it?"

"To be honest, it was something I like to imagine about when I was kid, but as I grew older I lost interest. But with all that's happening right now, I wondering if this parallel world stuff is true or that I'm really messed up in the head right now."

The fox woman gave a toothy grin, revealing some sharp fangs, "I can assure that this is very real. As real as you and me. No doubt you have question about who I am, and how we are interacting even though we come from different worlds."

"Oh yeah, because giant foxes are not a common sight from where I come from."

"Okay, though it might be best to start with the beginning of my story. In the world I come from, I am known as the Kyuubi no Kitsune. Though for sake of names, you can refer to me as "Kyuubi" for short."

"Okay, Kyuubi-san." 'Just as long I don't piss you off and die a horrible death, again.' "And you can call me Joseph Conners.

"Very well Joseph, now as for my world. To be put bluntly is the world that consists mostly of shinobi and the spiritual element known as chakra."

I was tempted to say something, but remembering my situation, I held back my thoughts.

"Though I can bore you about the history of the about ninja I'll just cut to chase and explain our predicament. As you can most likely tell already that I'm a being of unimaginable power."

"I kind of figure that out by the gate, and the size of your fox form." 'Someone has a high opinion of herself.'

"Yes well, due my power I have encountered those who wish to use it for their own personal reasons. Be it for good or evil, I have met many people of many characters. Sometimes I complied, sometimes I did not. It was only a matter of what I choose to do. Until that day where certain circumstances fell upon me…"

"Circumstances?" I can tell from the Kyuubi's voice that whatever those "circumstances" are, they're not good.

The Kyuubi nodded her head, "Yes, a man who I thought long since dead confronted me. He sought my power for petty revenge for events that date back more than a century ago, naturally I denied his request." Her eyes turn dark, "But that did not bode well for the man. He demanded that I should submit to his will, that I was nothing more than a tool. He insisted that his clan name alone made him my superior. That level of arrogance infuriated me, so I grew bored of the man's presence and force him away. That's where it all went bad."

A chill went up my spine.

"That man used a power that was long lost and forgotten in the march of time to control me. Though I was no longer in control of my body, I still experience what he made me do. He made me attack a village known as Konohana." She took a deep breath. "It was maddening. Seeing my power to cause so much damage and take so many lives in such a grisly matter. All for the sake of revenge and pride, I swear when I encounter that man again, I will…" A red aura began to form around her, wind was swirling around her causing her hair and clothes to billow out in a menacing matter. "I'LL MAKE HIM REGRET USING THOSE DAMN EYES OF HIS ON ME!"

A burst of air that came from the cage knocked me off my feet. "HEY EASY THERE I THOUGHT YOU WERE GONNA TALK, NOT BLAST ME!"

I watch the Kyuubi face quickly turns into shock, the demonic energy that she was emitting suddenly up and disappear, she quickly compose herself, "Forgive me Joseph, it's just every time I think about it, I'm sorry."

I got up on my feet, "Uh, yeah, sure no biggie. Just promise to give me a heads-up before you get angry again."

The Kyuubi chuckle, "I'll make sure of that. Back to the story. Even though I a demon, the ninjas of Konohana still fought for their home against the odds. I watch brave men and women lose their lives in numbers under my power. But it was futile, I, in a sense, was an immortal being, I can't not be defeated by the hands of mortals. Then he came…" She stared up at the gates, "The people of Konohana called him the Yondaime, he was their leader. He knew that I cannot be defeated by conventional ways, so he thought of a solution…"

"He sealed you away, judging from the giant gate." I answer.

"That is correct. Using a forbidden sealing jutsu he sealed me away, at the expense of his own life. A noble sacrifice, considering the character of that man."

I immediately got jumpy, "So what you're asking me to unseal you or something?"

The Kyuubi gave me a quick glare, causing me to jump a bit, "I'll take that as a no."

"Let me finish before blowing your mouth all over like that, understand?" the Kyuubi spoke in a threatening matter, I nodded my head dumbly. "Good, as I was saying, I was sealed away before causing anymore damage. However in order for someone like me to be sealed, only one type of vessel is capable of withholding my powers." She turned to me, "Do you know what the vessel has to be?"

I shook my head.

"An infant child."

I put a hand to my head, "My…god…"

"It's the only way. Only a living human sacrifice can be able to handle the influx of chakra that possess, and only an infant child can adapt to the growing amount of chakra and live."

"That still doesn't explain why I'm here."

"I'm getting to that. It was after the sealing that I was able to regain my senses. I was quick to find about my new arrangements, and was also quick to know how I end up in here. Though I was now sealed within a newborn, I still had ways to know what was going outside. I establish a link with my vessel through her senses, I was able to hear what she hears, see what she sees."

"Wait…she?"

"I will answer shortly, just let me finish. As I said I establish a link to my host and through her senses I could see and hear everything around her. After the sealing, my host was immediately taken to the council of Konohana, who were already deciding on her fate. While it was the Yondaime's wish to see my prison as a hero, the majority of the council had the opposite view."

"A majority saw infant as a threat and wanted her executed, they believe her to be me, even when they the nature of the seal has been explained. There was also another who saw the infant as a weapon, given the proper 'treatment' she can be an emotionless weapon of destruction for the villages supposed enemies."

I clench my hand at the last statement. Bad memories began to surface, but I took a deep breath to regain my cool.

The Kyuubi notice my brief sign of anger, "Did I strike a bad note with you?" I shook my head, "It's nothing, please carry on." "If you insist, now then about the infant's fate. While the majority asked for the death penalty, there was a certain one who honored the Yondaime's wish. It was the Godaime, the Yondaime's predecessor. Though he was a man of advance age, he still had enough power to ward off the death penalty and pass a law. That the child's origins and now found power would be kept from the populace. It was a means to guarantee an ordinary life for the infant."

"But if fell on deaf ears, and people found a way around it."

"That is true. What brought up that conclusion?"

"Call it a hunch. I remember those history lessons that whenever a war happens, the end results are never pretty." I took a deep breath, "The hatred in people's hearts is not something that can just up and be forgotten instantly. And as time passes, sometimes that anger can cause people to do idiotic things."

"And it was with that anger that our paths have cross. You see, even with the law to keep my container's origins present, she had lived a harsh life. Everywhere she went she was face with looks of scorn. The orphanage she was place in tried ways to poison her and later kick her out. Food given to her were either spoiled or tainted. Adults have told their children shun and despise her, leaving her with no one. People who actually liked her were scarce."

"Now this is where you come in. Years have passed and the girl has continued to endure her torment, with only the thoughts of her precious people keeping her sane. But now she's on the verge of death."

"What!?"

"You heard correct. Since I have established a connection with my host, I can heal any injuries she experiences if given the time, because if she dies, I die with her."

"So you want me to save your own skin?"

"More like save hers. You see recently a mob has form with the intent to kill my host and in the most brutal matter as means of retribution for my acts. They snuck up on my host and attack. Thankfully she was quick and was able to escape most of the damage. But the mob had numbers and makeshift weapons as well. Though the cuts she received didn't cut deep they were many of them, and I'm afraid that even with her regeneration ability she's fading fast. This is now where role begins if you choose to accept it."

"But how can I help if I'm dead?"

"I can make you a shikigami, a spirit given a physical body that will act as my vessel's guardian. You see, with my host in a near-death state I was able to briefly get a glimpse of one thing that is common between our worlds, the afterlife. Though my host wasn't dead, she was on a verge of it, and that made a small crack that gave me the opportunity to a suitable soul to become a shikigami. I saw you, floating unconscious, and I was able to tell you had a kind soul."

"Uh…thanks. That still doesn't explain how I can help since I'm dead."

"If you agree to become a shikigami, you will be manifest in my world near to where my vessel is. You will gain a physical body, and in a sense be brought back from the dead."

"So I'll come back as myself in your world to be the caretaker of your vessel."

"You will come back, but how you will appear in my world will be the aftermath of my chakra combining with you."

"Woah, woah, woah, you mean I'll become get ears or tails or something."

"I cannot quite say the process is entirely random. You can either be an animal, a human, or maybe a demon. You might either stay your gender or not."

I cringe at the thought of being turn into some sort of animal, monster, gender-confuse thing.

"Don't worry; I'll try to control the process so that you are closest to your current form as possible."

'At least there's a chance.'

"But be warn, once you agree to become a shikigami, you will be no longer human. My chakra fusing with your soul may cause some side effects."

"What side effects?"

"My chakra is significantly different from the humans of my world, giving you even a small portion might give you powers that will make you stand out, and that will give you unwanted attention. And once you become a shikigami, you'll have to face the same hate and scorn that my vessel faces, are you prepare for that?"

I took several deep breaths, "You know, what you're asking from me is pretty big. I don't know if I can guarantee being a proper shikigami. Still I'll try to do everything I can."

The Kyuubi's eyes slightly widen, "Are you sure, you're making a rather big decision."

I gave a nod, "As far as I know, all of this information is overwhelming to say the least. Parallel dimensions, giant foxes sealed within kids, and whatever this place is all seem like some kind of bad sci-fi fiction. Yet there's something in that's telling me that this is the real deal, that I won't be able to get another chance like this. A second go at life." I look up at the ceiling, "Plus after hearing what that girl has to go through, I can't help but at least give a helping hand. Call it a hero's complex or something."

The Kyuubi gave a ghost of a smile she than raising one of her hands.

In front of me an image of a young girl appeared before me. She looks about 6-7 years old. Her hair was sunny blonde and cut short, but feminine. She wore a simple orange dress and a pair of blue sandals. I took a look at her face to find she had the same whisker markings that the Kyuubi's human form has. When the image looked at me, I notice that the girl's eye color was border lining ocean blue.

"Here is my container. Her name is Naruko Uzumaki, and if you agree, you are to become her shikigami." Her hands than disappear in a rapid succession of hand signs, immediately I saw a red aura began to form around her and started to pour between the bars aiming towards me, it floated infront of me and then condensed to a size of a softball. "Joseph Conners, do you accept to the responsibilities to being Naruko Uzumaki's shikigami? If so than take this orb of my chakra and plunged in into your heart."

I held out my right hand underneath the crimson sphere. Even without my hand making contact I could feel the power emanating from within it. My hand was trembling with just the thought of holding this power. 'With this power, I am capable doing amazing things.'

'Remember son, I choose my path by my own free will to protect as many people as I can. I know about my actions and the consequences they bring, but I accept that fact. To fight is easy, but to protect something precious to you is different. To me, having the strength to protect, that is true strength.'

'Those words…' I shook my head to clear whatever tempting thoughts were pulling on it, I smile, "Your right, the power to protect." I grab the chakra orb and held it before me. I look over to the Kyuubi, "Just wanted to say that I'm not ready to bid life farewell just yet."

"So you agree to become a shikigami?"

"What do you think?" I lift the arm with the orb above me, "Here goes everything!" With a single swift motion I ram the crimson sphere into my chest and force it within myself.

The energy offer little resistance as it was absorb into my being, but I felt something as I continue the assimilation…

Pain.

Even when I full absorb the orb, pain erupted from every cell of my being. My body was trembling as the energy I absorbed was flowing through it, changing it, fusing with it.

I fell down on one knee, clutching my head in pain.

My mind was filled with visions of people dying, cities burning, and malevolent red eyes with black markings.

"Do not fret," the Kyuubi's words said in my head, "The process is almost over."

I gritted my teeth. The Kyuubi's chakra was reacting with something inside. What was once a burning pain was slowly cooling down into something cool…something cold.

The pain soon subsided and I feel to my knees, out of breath. I felt the world spinning before falling on the water cover floor. My eyes felt heavy as I was lulled into the darkness of sleep.

XXXXX

The Kyuubi watch with an emotionless face as Joseph was succumbing to the pain of absorbing the chakra orb. Normally, such a transfusion of power would normally mean death the receiver. But in this case it's entirely different since Joseph is already among the dead. However there's also a factor that the Kyuubi withheld, that it wasn't just chakra that she gave to Joseph.

In the process of becoming a shikigami, Joseph will no longer be human. By accepting his duties as Naruko's shikigami, Joseph unknowingly sacrificed a portion of his own humanity in order to accept the Kyuubi's demonic chakra. Thankfully, the chakra the Kyuubi gave him was a minor amount, so Joseph himself will not lose himself to his "gift". Yet that doesn't mean that Joseph physical state will stay unchanged.

In Joseph's case, he can't return to his old body since his physical form is dead, and the Kyuubi can't reanimate a body and transport it from Joseph's world to her world. She also can't make a body in her world out of nothing for Joseph's soul to reside. So she did the next best thing.

She broke it down.

Though the Kyuubi can't bring back a dead body, she can use the elements of Joseph's body to reconstruct a new one. Though this is where the problem starts. The chakra used to breakdown and reconstruct will no doubt have a side effect or cosmetic to the new body, and that could be anything. Advance healing, a third eye, animal ears or tail, or maybe something more. Even if the chakra used was kept a bare minimal, significant changes can still take place. Even the changes themselves would lie dormant for years before manifesting themselves. There's no telling how others might react, and that might cause more hostility towards Naruko. Joseph himself might know about his new form, but he completely doesn't fully understand the burden that he might have place upon himself already.

But it's too late now; the deal has already been made. The Kyuubi watch as Joseph, tired from his ordeal, fell unconscious on the floor of Naruko's mindscape. His body remains motionless for five seconds before it began to glow. But unlike the fiery red color of the Kyuubi's chakra, Joseph's aura was icy blue and gave a cool feeling that even the Kyuubi felt from her cage. The blue aura covers Joseph from head to toe before disappearing, taking Joseph with it.

"And once again I am alone." The Kyuubi spoke to herself. Feeling a little she willed a cup of hot tea in her hand, and took a sip. Though it wasn't actual tea, the sensation it brought were more than enough to please the fox woman. She then look over to the gate of her prison, or more likely at the spot where the seal should be at the other side.

"Please Joseph, protect Naruko, she's all we have left of this world." She then took another sip.

XXXXX

When I regain all my senses, all I could feel was one thing; cold. Not that dead cold like as in a corpse cold, more like the cold that you experience when you are in a forest in the dead of night, and that's not a good kind of cold I could say that much. The sudden cold shock cause to jerk awake and already I could tell there was something wrong.

One, I'm in a forest in the middle of the night, no longer am I in that sewer with a shapshifting fox woman. Two, I feel alive, don't ask how I know the difference between feeling alive and feeling dead, I don't know myself. And lastly, I felt smaller.

I look down to myself and was shock by what I saw. "Call me crazy, but wasn't I just eighteen about I don't know five minutes ago." Because waking up in the body of an 8-year old does not induce confidence. I look around to find a nearby body of water, I ran to it to check my reflection to see if my face had made any changes as well.

Thankfully, I still look like myself to a certain degree, that is too say looking at a eight year old's face, but having and eighteen year old's head on a eight year old's body will look odd at the least. I ran a mental checklist how much change and how much did not. 'At least the moonlight can give enough illumination to let me see myself.'

'Let's see…no tails or wings,' I face my reflection in the lake, 'No third eye or animal ears either, that's good.'

'Alright then, copper hair…check, brown eyes…check, human ears…check.'

I then look over my physical body, nothing about stood out. 'At least I'm me, just younger.'

I hit myself on the head, "Next time when a being of mythology offers to reincarnate you, ask what the after product is." Though fortuanly, it was just an 8-year old version of myself, I shudder to think what could to be the worst outcome.

It was also good that I had some clothes on; though the ones I'm wearing weren't the same ones I had on when I died. A dirty oversize white shirt, ragged brown pants, and a torn cloak was all I had. My feet were covered with worn shoes. "Great, reincarnated as kid, in a forest, in the middle of the night, just great." Despite my grumblings I began searching around the scenery.

Other than being in the forest in the middle of the night, it was pretty cold. Not like winter cold, but enough to cause to wrap my cloak around my smaller body for warmth.

The downside to being reduced to a kid is shorter stamina, and a reduced tolerance for cold. Each step I took sank my hopes for survival. After what felt like an hour my energy was spent. I sat against a tree to regain some energy and to figure out what to next. My thoughts were interrupted when a soft moan could be heard to the right of me. It didn't sound like an animal, but cautiously I approached the source of the sound.

When I brushed pass some snow covered bushes, I was taken by surprise by what I saw. A little girl, no older than what I am right now, lying face down into the snow, and she look like she was mauled by something or someone. She wore an oversize shirt that was punctured and stained with her blood. Her blond hair was disheveled and also stained with blood. Judging by the trail left behind, she must have dragged herself quite a distance. When I flipped her on her back, it was still just as bad. Stab wounds, blood spots everywhere, not even her face was spared the harsh treatment as it was marred by cuts and scratches. She was pale, and when I checked for a pulse, it was weak, "Shit." I remember the Kyuubi saying about her treatment, I just didn't imagine it to be this…bad.

Forgetting about myself I ripped parts of my shirt to dress the wounds that the girl has. Afterwards, my shirt was a great deal smaller and the sleeves were gone, but at least the majority of the girl's wounds were covered. I checked her pulse, "Better, but not good enough, she needs real medical attention." Another moan could be heard from her, I turn my attention to her face as she opened her eyes, revealing sapphire orbs. Her eyes seem to widen a bit and she soon struggle to get up, I force her back down, "Don't push your luck; your wounds will open up if you move too much." She was silent, looking at me as if she saw a ghost or something. "Are you going to hurt me?" she questioned, I shook my head, "No, I have no intent too." I took off my cloak and wrapped it around her body, "You'll need this more than I do right now." She gave a silent nod and wrapped it tighter around her; an audible "Thank You" was heard.

"We found a trail!"

"The demon's this way!"

"Kill that abomination!"

The blond tense up upon hearing those voices, and from what I could tell, she didn't want to be seen, quick. Thinking quickly I grabbed the girl and got her on my back piggyback style. "What're you doing!" she shouted, "Saving your butt so hang on!" I fired back and soon ran as fast as my legs could take me.

It was after a minute of running that I remember that my stamina was now crap. My body ache and my lungs felt they were on fire, yet I kept on running. Unfortuanly, whoever was chasing the girl got a quick look at me, and boy did that spark some animosity.

"Who the hell is he?"

"He's helping the demon?"

"Get both of them!"

Now I am a supposed "threat", grand. Karma must enjoy being a dick to me.

How my body was able to continue to run for about 10 minutes was somewhere beyond me, dodging trees, bushes, and the occasional makeshift weapon attack will test your body to your limits especially if your about 7 years old. Actually, I just realize that I was able to last this long, logic be damn.

"And now I'm damn." I said to myself when my running got us into a position we defiantly don't want to be in; out in the open right against a freakin' mountain to steep to climb. I didn't have much time to change my route before we were surrounded by the villagers who were pursuing us. They were armed with torches, clubs, pitchforks, and a sword or two.

A middle age portly man with a pitchfork stepped forward, "Give us the girl, boy. This has nothing to do with you." "What she ever done to you?" I question as I set the girl down behind me. "That's none of your business, now move brat." The man returned, I could tell he's hell-bent on getting this girl. I grabbed a wooden stick that was near me and held it like a club, "When you're hurting an innocent kid for no reason, it becomes my business." "Innocent," an older woman shouted, "she's far from innocent; she's a horrible demon who murdered hundreds of people. She's probably deceiving you to protect herself from what she truly deserves!" The crowd around her gave a shout of approval. "Listen to yourselves," I yelled, "tell me how can she (I pointed to the girl) kill anyone?" There was silence, as if everyone was contemplating something, like they wanted to say it, but can't seem to find the words.

The fat man shook his head and put on a face of anger, "A brat like you is in no position to talk about what's right and what's wrong, so get out our way." The rest of the crowd regains their resolve and soon everyone is coming towards us. I didn't know what to do; I'm in a body of 8 year old armed only with a stick for God's sake. My fear rose as I edge myself away from the mob, making sure that the girl was behind me, though we were eventually backed up against the mountain side.

The big man spoke again, "Now I'm saying this for the final time, move and you'll live." I put up a face of defiance, "Than I'll see you all in hell you crazy assholes!" "DIE BRAT!" I could see the man charge at me with his pitchfork. My body froze up as I could see that I was going to die again.

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" A voice bellowed. The man ceased his charge almost instantly at the sound of the voice. The pitchfork very close to piercing my torso. The crowd parted with scared expressions on their faces. An elderly man with a white robe, a wide hat with a red symbol on it was revealed.

The guy with the pitchfork look like he just piss himself, "Hokage-sama, we were just…"

"About to take a life of a boy who was protecting someone who was in trouble." The "Hokage" said with a bit of anger in his voice. Than out of nowhere about four people in some sort of uniform and masks appeared out of nowhere. "Every one of you who has participated in this event will be taken to interrogation team, under Ibiki of course I assure you." Upon those words the entire mob just up and ran like their lives depending on it, which to my guess it does. The old man took a deep breath, "Capture them." The four mask figures than vanish like how they appeared. Two seconds later, screams could be heard. "Can't say I feel sorry for them." I said to myself.

"Hey old man!" the voice made me turn to see that the blond girl was quite alert last time I check on her. Despite her injuries that I saw earlier she was able to run over to the elderly man and give him a big hug, saying I was shock was an understatement. "Are you going to be okay Naruko?" The old man said, the blond girl nodded, "Yeah, I'm okay, if it wasn't for this guy, who knows what could happen?" She pointed at me, the old man giving a smile, "So you helped her?" I can only give a quick nod before something just dawn on me…

I no longer have any energy left.

I felt the last of my strength left as the adrenaline wore off. My balance got off and next thing I knew I was lying face down in the cold ground. The world fading as my eyelids feel heavy. Than everything went black.

XXXXX

Author's Notes

Hey there reader's WW79 here. Just going to reinforce that I am rewriting the story. So there will be some noticeable changes in how this story will progress for its five chapters. What those changes are…well…let's just say that's it's my secret and you'll just have to wait.

Now for the chapter itself…I'm…okay with it. The only thing that bugged me is Joseph's conversation with the Kyuubi. But I can say that I am least satisfy with it. Also I modify Joseph's eye color because steel gray eyes make it seem like he has a genkei kekki, and I don't like that kind of obvious sight.

Trust me, Joseph (later Hitoshi) would go under some renovations, along with Naruko, and the team placement.

Now since my ranting is done, I would like to listen to your thoughts. Love the changes I'm about to implement, hate 'em, or perhaps you wish to offer your suggestions. Feel free to post a review, I actually enjoy reader feedback. Anyway, this is WW79 signing off. Peace.