A/N: To those who are waiting for the next chapter of 'Storm', I sincerely apologize. This idea has been growing in my mind since about halfway into the second part of WhyMustIWrite's 'Not Over' story, and it finally got too big for me to work around. *glares weakly at Why* Anyway, now that the first part is written, hopefully it'll let me finish the story I should be working on. Oh, and the only relationships here will be friendships or family-type bonds. No romance.

Rating/Warnings/Disclaimer: T / Language, non-graphic violence. / I own nothing you've seen before.

Hazy brown eyes cracked open, their owner blinking owlishly at the sudden increase of noise and light that had woken him from a sound sleep. The boy sat up, rubbing tiredly at his eyes even as he tumbled out of bed. Flashing lights meant that he was supposed to go to the little room, he vaguely remembered.

Sliding his feet into his slippers, the five year old stumbled almost blindly into the hall. He stayed close to the walls as he had been taught, completely ignored by the people who rushed around him. The confusion abundant in the air washed over the child, keeping quiet the complaints that would normally have been voiced at being woken at such a late hour.

The boy moved down a few mostly empty corridors, hearing the adults call out from other parts of the house. He pulled open a heavy door, slipping inside of the small room and closing himself in. The boy turned around – and found himself face to face with a stranger. The child's eyes widened in shock and sudden fear, but a strong hand clasped itself over his mouth before he could move.

The little boy stared into brown eyes just a touch darker than his own, barely registering the whispered curse that the stranger hissed out. Movement behind the stranger caught the boy's eyes and he glanced over to see yet another stranger – masked this time – step out of the shadows. The new one spoke, making the boy's captor turn pale. "Damn, he's seen you."

The captor turned halfway towards the other, his voice nearly pleading. "He's only a kid, barely more than a baby."

The other's voice was cool, completely matter-of-fact. "Doesn't matter. He's seen you, and we can't leave any witnesses. Not even a kid. Look, I'll distract them. We'll meet back up at the village." The masked one made an odd gesture, and then stepped past the pair and slipped out of the door.

The boy's captor looked sick, turning back to look the child in the eyes. The captor swallowed hard, feeling the boy tremble under his hands, and then he reached for a blade, taking a deep breath. The child's eyes slammed shut as steel flashed, and then silence overwhelmed the boy.

-hours later-

"You did WHAT?! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?!" One of the two shinobi almost screamed at the other, his eyes wide with shock. The older boy spun to cast a near panicked look at their Kage.

The leader held up one hand, looking the younger of the shinobi pair directly in the eye. "Do you realize what you've risked with this?" the man asked quietly.

The youngest swallowed nervously, but then his jaw firmed and he met his elder's eyes squarely. "Yes, sir" he replied. "I understood it at the time, and… I still made the same decision. Given the choice to make again, I would do the same." The young man – boy, really – trembled slightly, but his voice was strong and sure. "Even if it costs me."

The three sat for a long moment in silence, two waiting with baited breath for the decision of the third. Finally the man spoke. "Alright, Iruka. Keep the genjutsu up until the boy is attached to his new home, and keep a close eye on him after that. I will accept him among one of our outlying villages as a refugee. But remember, he is your responsibility now – if he betrays us, it will be you we will seek as well."

Fourteen year old Umino, Iruka nodded. "Yes, Hokage-sama. I understand."

Years later, the Sandaime would look back upon that meeting, shaking his head in fond exasperation as the young teacher took responsibility for yet another child that Konoha left orphaned or should have killed.

Years after that, the Godaime would read over the Sandaime's report of the meeting and muse on the sheer unlikelihood of it all.