lostmoonchild: I'm baaack with another Naruto fic! I haven't decided if Naruto's gonna hook up with anybody just yet but we'll see as the story progresses. Um, hope you guys enjoy and don't get too upset at what my evil muse has cooked up inside my head this time.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto so don't sue please!


Chapter One

In this darkness only death was certain. Sooner or later the bad man would take the life of whomever he seemed unfit to continue existing. Questions were pointless. Questions provided only pain. To ask questions was to ask to be hit or worse. Sometimes asking questions would result in death.

It all depended on his mood what would happen if he was questioned. Everything depended on his whim.

Gray eyes stared listlessly ahead as the tiny child's chest rose and fell in shallow gasps. Somebody was moving outside the room and was currently trying to open the door that was already known to be locked. Clearly the person outside the door had figured it out and was currently working on picking the lock.

The small child turned away from the sudden light as the door was thrown open and stared at the man that stood in the doorway. He stepped back as if overwhelmed by the smell that had long ago stopped mattering to the child. Punishment would come even if the room was clean but still they had tried so hard.

The man stared at her for a moment, his entire demeanor radiating shock. "Hey! There's somebody here still!" The man called to somebody as he entered the room. "Kid? Hey, kid, say something."

Gray eyes stared into the brightest blue eyes ever seen before closing tightly as he knelt next to her. The sound of a zipper coming undone reached the child's ears, sending waves of petrifying fear through their body. "Easy, easy. No one's gonna hurt you." The man helped the child sit up, his body cringing slightly at the touch of grime against his skin before he helped the child's thin arms through the sleeves of his jacket. "My name's Naruto Uzumaki. What's yours?"

The child didn't reply as their head dropped to the side before slowly blinking as the man, no… Naruto… pulled something from his pocket and held it to the child's lips. "Drink up." Naruto said patiently.

The water was cool and fresh, tasting better than what the child had been given before. When he pulled the canteen from the child's lips, he pulled something else out of his pocket before gently pushing it past thin lips. "Here, I was gonna eat this later but you need it a lot more than I do. Just don't tell Sakura that I gave you candy before a decent meal, okay? She'd kick my butt and pound me into the ground if she couldn't pound me into a tree."

The child didn't know who this Sakura person was and as the sweetness lit up the child's taste buds, it didn't matter. "Okay, we're gonna go now. No one's left here in this dump so I'm gonna take you with me." Naruto gave a tender smile that held understanding. "I'm gonna make everything okay now. Believe it."

What was this guy? Why was he being nice? Nobody was ever nice unless they wanted something and she had nothing to give him. "What's your name?" Naruto asked, waiting for a minute before frowning slightly in thought. "Well, I'm gonna give you a name to go by until we figure out what your name is. Is that okay? It probably won't be permanent but it'll be better than just being called 'it' or something. How about Hisoka? It means 'secret' so I hope that's okay."

Naruto knew he was rambling but the child seemed to be relaxing more when he spoke. He didn't know why he had chosen to check in that one room but he knew upon seeing the child lying so lifelessly on the floor that he couldn't turn away. Sakura needed to see the child in his arms and they needed to do whatever they could to help the child move away from death's door.

There was so much grime on the child that he couldn't tell if the child was a boy or a girl. Choosing a unisex name had been the safer bet and now that there was something to call the child in his arms, he felt it would be easier. As he looked at the child that lay in his arms, he knew that he had just accepted some great challenge.

Soft words left his lips as he spoke to Hisoka about whatever crossed his mind. He told the child about his teammates and smiled when thin fingers lightly gripped the too large jacket. "Naruto! Who's that?" Sakura questioned when the blonde caught up to them.

"This is Hisoka." Naruto told the group as he adjusted the child in his arms. "Hisoka, these are the people I was telling you about."

They watched the child's head bob slightly as they tried to turn their head towards them. Kakashi felt a sharp pain of sympathy as he stared at the child's gaunt face and knew that if the child survived then it'd be nothing short of a miracle. If the child's breathing was anything to go by, the child wouldn't make it through the night. "Let's get moving. Sakura can look over the child when we stop." Kakashi told them.

Naruto nodded slightly as he adjusted the child in his arms before they darted out of Orochimaru's hideout. He could feel Hisoka stiffen in his arms and touched the dark, matted hair before murmuring soft words of comfort knowing that everybody was listening. "Don't worry, Hisoka." Naruto said softly. "You'll be okay. I'm not gonna let that snake bastard get his hands on you again."

When they were a safe distance from the snake-nin's hideout, they stopped so the child could get cleaned up and checked over. Sakura tenderly took the child in her arms, making a face when the child began grabbing at Naruto's shirt with a look of pure desperation. "Naruto, will you come too?" Sakura questioned. "Something tells me that Hisoka isn't going to let me do anything unless you're with us."

Naruto nodded as he took Hisoka back into his arms and laughed softly when the small child nestled against him. For something so small and weak there was a strength within the child's small frame that just spoke volumes. "Bath time." Naruto said cheerfully in an attempt to soothe the sudden anxiety that appeared in Hisoka's eyes.

Kakashi resisted the urge to cover his eye as he watched Naruto bounce around with the child in his arms, chanting "bath time" in various tones of excitement. "Naruto! You're gonna make the poor kid sick." Sakura scolded.

He couldn't explain how he knew but Naruto had the feeling that Hisoka was giggling. "But, Sakura-chaaan." Naruto said with a laughing tone. "Hisoka's loving this!"

They were so different than Orochimaru and his followers that it was hard not to like him. However Hisoka wasn't entirely sure about the silver-haired man or even the eerily pale raven that hadn't said a word since they had all met up. The pink-haired woman was okay but Naruto was by far the favorite person. "Just get Hisoka cleaned up, Naruto." Kakashi sighed.

With renewed chants of "bath time" leaving his lips, Naruto jumped with the child in his arms towards the nearest water source.

(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)

There was a patience in the blonde's actions that was surprising to see, especially upon discovering that Hisoka was a girl. Naruto's movements were careful as he scrubbed the grime away from her dangerously thin frame, his voice gentle as he spoke to her. It was rather impressive how patient he was being with the girl when they all knew that patience was not one of his strengths. "You'll just have to wear my jacket until we get you something nicer to wear that's more your size." Naruto said as he put the jacket back on the little girl.

Sai's dark eyes watched the child with mild interest, watching as several short gasps left her lips. He could see the confusion and distrust as well as something else. Did she want to trust them? Trust wasn't something that a shinobi issued very well other than having faith that their teammates wouldn't do anything to get them killed.

He moved slightly towards the child and watched as the child's eyes grew empty, the short gasps never quickening or slowing. "Sai, step back." Kakashi told the younger man.

Sakura was silent as she checked over Hisoka, frowning when she felt the child's uneven heartbeats. She didn't want to say the odds of the Hisoka's survival and a single glance at Kakashi revealed that he was already aware of the child's odds. As her examination continued, Sakura found herself wondering how exactly the little girl had survived for so long. Malnutrition, dehydration, multiple injuries that were both external and internal… by all rights she should have been dead. Sakura just couldn't bring herself to finish what else the girl had gone through within the time she spent as Orochimaru's prisoner.

The pinkette watched silently as Naruto carefully fed her small bits of food, talking softly to her and making a point to show her that the food wasn't poisoned when she refused. "Good job, Hisoka." Naruto said with a bright smile as he brushed Hisoka's soft bangs from her forehead. "Keep eating like that and you'll get stronger in no time."

Hisoka's eyes grew unfocused as a yawn left her lips, her eyelids beginning to droop. She still wasn't entirely sure what was going on but surely they couldn't be planning anything terrible if they were trying to make her stronger. "She's tired, Naruto." Kakashi told the blonde.

"Oh yeah! Here, you can sleep in my sleeping bag. It'll be a lot more comfortable than anything else and a hell of a lot warmer."

No sooner had he tucked her into the warm bedding, Hisoka fell into a dreamless sleep.


lostmoonchild: And there's chapter one. I'll be posting the next chapter next week so there's something to look forward to at least. Read and review!