A Woman's Heart and Mind

Chapter 8 – Venting

Naruto raged at the nearby stone pillar. Her punches and kicks denting the rock or chipping it away slowly. She was still in a fit about everything that had happened over the last few days. She pushed herself harder than she ever had before, intent on never being put in that sort of situation again. If ninjas from her home village were willing to do those sorts of things, then what would her enemies do to her if they caught her like that? That thought made her shiver every time it crossed her mind.

"That's enough, we're done for today." Kakashi said. He had taken back over Naruto's training while Jiraiya was out gathering information on Akatsuki. "You did well Hitomi."

"No, I'm not done yet." Naruto refused to stop. If anything she struck at the stone harder. She kept imagining the faces of her attackers on the stones, and she lashed out at them in fury. Her features grew dangerous, her eyes reddened. "I have to get stronger."

Kakashi was between her and the pillar in a flash, catching her foot. "I'm tired of this, and Sakura is exhausted. We are done, and you know you aren't allowed to use the training grounds alone, not while on probation."

Naruto looked over to see a visibly spent Sakura, doubled over, hands on her knees, gasping for breath. She was strong, stronger physically than Naruto, but Konoha's newest kunoichi had better stamina, for obvious reasons. "So what?" Naruto asked, a pout on her face and annoyance clear in her voice, "You're still fine. Teach me something."

Kakashi shook his head. "Not while you are like this. You get unstable when you are angry like this, I don't want to risk letting you use jutsus. You get your mind sorted out, then I can show you a few things. Until then, it's nothing but taijutsu. But, I'm tired too, and I'm done for the day."

Naruto eyed Kakashi hatefully while the Jonin let go of Naruto's leg. With a huff of indignation, she said, "Fine, whatever." A couple of moments later she was gone, shunshining back to the village.

"Sakura, are you okay?" Kakashi asked.

"Yes." The pinkette replied, "Winded, but I'm okay."

"Keep an eye on her." Kakashi said, "She's too angry. She might try to do something rash and get in trouble."

Naruto leapt from roof to roof. Not wanting to talk or see anyone. She was angry, at her weakness, at the two bastards who had tried to rape her, at Kyuubi for making all this happen to her, at everyone. She made it back to her new apartment and slammed the door. Her phone rang, but she didn't care who was calling and just let it ring, the answering machine disconnected. She stripped out of her gear and headed into the shower, hoping that would help her cool off.

It didn't.

About an hour later she had wound her way to Ichiraku Ramen. Slipping into the little stand she waved at old man Ichiraku, completely forgetting that she hadn't yet told him of her transformation. She wasn't wearing anything that would tell him that she was a ninja, wearing a pair of jean shorts that were a little tighter and shorter than he would have liked, and a light blue, spaghetti strapped tank top. She really needed to stop listening to Ino's fashion advice, the shorts were horrible.

"Hello, young lady. Not often we see a new customer. What brings you to Konoha?" Teuchi asked her. It was then she realized that he didn't know about her circumstances.

Looking around to make sure they were alone she crept up the counter closer. "It's me old man, Naruto."

"Naruto?" the man said perhaps a bit too loudly, "Why are you coming in here henged into a woman."

Naruto shushed him to tell him to keep his voice down, "I'm not in a henge, and I am a girl now. It's complicated. It has to do with my tenant." The old man was old enough to know that Naruto was the jinchuuriki of the fox.

"The fox turned you into a girl?" Teuchi asked. Naruto nodded, "Damn fox." The man cursed. It took Naruto aback for a second, she rarely heard Teuchi curse. Never, now that she thought about it.

"My name is Hitomi Naru now." Naruto said softly.

"I heard some guys talking about a Hitomi Naru…" Teuchi said, "They said there had been a near rape in one of the residential district, a couple of ninjas had been taken into custody. My lord! That was you?"

"Yeah… I don't really want to talk about it…" Naruto answered. "I just wanted to get some ramen. I'm trying to start over fresh, which means trying to let go of my old habits and make new ones, but I can still enjoy a good bowl of ramen now and then."

"Yeah, I'll get you one with everything, on the house." Teuchi said.

"Thanks, old man." Naruto answered, genuine appreciation on her voice.

The small dialogue with Teuchi had stilled Naruto's mind a litte, but not much. She was still angry, furious, enraged. He couldn't determine which fit his mood more. The sun was going down, and the village was starting to turn in for the night. Shops were closing and locking up, the children off the streets. There was a stillness to the air, not a silence, Konoha was too large to ever be completely silent, but there was definitely a stillness.

Naruto walked idly, trying anything to keep her mind off her anger. She wanted those bastards dead. However, they weren't going to be executed. Tsunade had told her their charges. Both had gotten sexual assault, attempted rape, and assault on a fellow ninja. However, none of those carried the death penalty, maybe if they had actually got to finish their heinous crime, but not for just the attempt. No, the maximum sentence was seventy years. Tsunade told him they were more than likely to get forty for "honorable services rendered in the defense of the village". That then would be cut to twenty-five if they behaved well in the prison and got eligible for parole.

It was too good for them. They should die for what they did to her, what they tried to do. No one should ever be forced to have to go through that fear that she had felt when she realized that she had let herself run into a trap. If they were just going to kill her, well, Naruto could have handled that. She was trained for that. However, they didn't want to kill her. They had wanted to break her, abuse her, and turn her into their own little sexual object to use. That was how she saw it, and it ate at her.

Before she had really known where she was going, her legs had taken her to Ninja Ops. The two bastards were being held in cells in the basement, watched over by ANBU. Naruto had snuck in there before, and she had outrun ANBU before. Yes, she would make sure that they would pay dearly for their crimes against her.

She slipped into the building silently, working her way down into the basements, careful to avoid notice. ANBU patrolled down here regularly, various important records and secrets kept in vaults that were guarded every hour of every day. The two lowlife scums would be in the lowest basement, awaiting their trial.

She was almost there when she felt herself getting weaker, as though something were draining her strength. That's when she heard a faint buzzing sound. Looking behind her she saw the familiar coat and shades. Damn him. His face was the last thing she saw before she passed out.

She awoke again a couple of hours later, the moon hanging high in the sky. Street lamps below her were doing their best to mimic the stars in the sky above. Looking around, she realized that she was on top of the Hokage Monument, a place she often frequented on her own. To her right, Shino sat there, still watching over her. Damn that man to hell.

"Why in the hell did you stop me?" Naruto snapped, "It wasn't any business of yours."

"I did it because it needed doing." Shino's answer was simple, "I figured you might try something like this in your anger. Someone needed to protect you from doing something that would have been regretful."

"I didn't ask for your help, Shino." Naruto huffed, "Those bastards deserve everything I would give them and worse."

"That may be true." Shino replied, never raising his voice. Never showing any hint of emotion, "However, that is not for you to determine. They will be tried fairly."

"That's more than they should get." Naruto raged, "They hurt me, Shino. Maybe not physically, but I have nightmares about it sometimes. I think what would have happened if they had gone all the way, if you hadn't shown up. Every time, I curse myself for not doing more to stop it. It eats at me, even more than those stares I got when I was a kid."

"So you would hurt them?" Shino asked, "To satisfy your own want for vengeance? Do you see where that leads Hitomi? You become no better than they. Thinking that you can do whatever you wish to them because you deserve it or are entitled to it."

Naruto seethed as she stared at him. "This isn't the same thing at all, Shino. I am the victim here."

"Isn't it? You would still be preying on the weak because you are strong. They are locked in chakra draining cells, barely awake half the day. They would be as helpless before you as children." Shino stated calmly, in opposition to Naruto's rage filled words.

Naruto stood up and started to storm off, but a wall of bugs blocked her way. "Let me go, Shino." She said with a dangerous tone, one that said that she would not hesitate to hurt him.

"So you would attack me, an innocent, and the one who saved you, to quench your thirst for vengeance?" Shino asked calmly, his bugs still blocking her path. "You would go that far?"

"Goddamn it, Shino." Naruto stomped her foot as she cursed at him, "This is pissing me off. I need to do something about this. If I kill them now this all goes away, and I can get on with my life."

"Do you really think that?" Shino never let up with his questions, "Or are you merely telling yourself that it will be okay once they are taken care of? Nothing will change what they did to you Hitomi. Even if they pass on, your memories will still be there. Vengeance will not help you, you have to strive to find peace with it and move on. This is the lesson that Uchiha never learned."

The dropping of Sasuke's name was a timely one, and shocked Naruto into stillness. She thought back over the last few days and really examined what she had been doing. So consumed had she been by her anger and hatred that she never realized she had been acting exactly like her old friend. She withdrew from people, and got angry at anyone who stood in her way. She walked up beside Shino and sat on the ground, looking out over the village. "Damn it, Shino. I hate it, but you're right…"

Shino didn't say another word as she thought on his words. "But I still feel like I need to do something about it. Do something to make sure that these bastards never hurt anyone else."

"Testify." Shino replied simply. "I know you don't want to, that the memories hurt. However, if the jury can see just how close those two came, and how much they hurt you, they will be much less inclined to give out reduces sentences, no matter what the two men did during the Suna invasion."

She looked up at him, "You're right… It's the only way. I'll go tell Obaachan in the morning that I'm changing my stance on testifying." They sat in silence for a while both of them just looking out over the village. Finally, she turned to him, "How did you find me anyway? I never told anyone what I was doing, and I never planned it. It just happened in the spur of the moment."

Shino held up a little bug, "I planted a female bug on you as we walked to Sakura's that night. I worried about you and decided to keep an eye on you, in case you needed help again. I constantly sent males to you, who can track the female by her pheromones. When they came back to me, they could tell me exactly where you were. When they said you were heading to the Ops building, I knew exactly what you were planning."

Naruto looked at the small bug, impressed that Shino had such a skill. "Thanks, Shino. That's twice you saved my neck…" She responded. She leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek. That was what she was supposed to do, right? A nice man helps a woman out and he gets repaid with a small kiss on the cheek.

"I owe you." She said as they continued to stare out onto the village. "If I can ever do anything to help you, let me know." Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Shino. Was he blushing? What would he be blushing for? No, Shino didn't blush. Shino never showed emotion. Frankly, Naruto wondered if Shino even had emotions. It had to be the lack of light playing tricks on her or something.

A/N: Please don't kill me. I know it's been a LONG time since I released anything. I just kind of lost my muse (and rediscovered World of Warcraft). I can't promise any sort of regular update schedule. I'm going to aim for every week or two, but I'm not promising anything.

It also looks like Hinata might have a rival she wouldn't be expecting. How far can things progress between Naruto and Shino?

Please review and let me know what you think.