A/N: Mwahaha! Epic! Dark! Harem! I got the idea from reading many of VFSNAKE's stories, and finally, something occurred to me. Danzou has been trying to get his hands on Naruto and the Kyuubi for a long time, right? Well, what would happen if he succeeded? Granted, I thought of him as a villian for quite some time now, but after seeing his death, I've come to view him in a different light. Now, While I cannot ever hope to measure to VFSNAKE in greatnesss, I decided to give it my darndest try and this is what came out of that!

"May the whisper of my name haunt your days, until I one day return, to make your nightmares real..."

~Namikaze Naruto

Collusion

She skittered across the ice, the white pathway fragile and splintering beneath her feet. The river was nearly frozen over. It was only fall in Konoha but on the borders of Hi no kuni, otherwise known as The Land of Fire, winter held the forest tight in its icy grasp. It was in this very forest that a young kunoich ran for her very life desperate to outpace those who pursuing her.

She was not succeeding.

'I'm...I'm going to die!'

Hyuuga Hinata scrambled over a bed of wet cobblestones, her slacks soaked from the chilly stream below, her shirt from the freezing drizzle above. She slumped backwards against a large boulder, her mouth hanging slack as she gasped for breath. She knew they were right behind her, somewhere beyond the stone, their lustful eyes prowling the forest gulley for any sign of their prey. She looked down at what had once been her left arm, now burnt to such an extent that she could barely even force it into a fist.

How had this happened?

It had been a routine mission. Investigate a disturbance on the edge of Fire Country. Just a simple B-rank assignment. An excuse to travel. To get her mind off of him. Only it hadn't been that easy. It was never that easy. Their simple B-rank had dissolved into an ambush and swiftly become an A-rank, if not higher. Currently she was separated by the enemy from her team and left to fend for herself. Even with her Byakugan activated, Hinata couldn't determine their location, nor could she count the amount of attackers pursuing her now. Her wounds had slowed her down and forced a rest.

A dull whump signaled the boulder's destruction at her back. Hinata curled into a ball and somehow succeeded in shielding a bruised rib from the worst of the blast. It wasn't enough, and then their was only the intensity of raw travesty to greet her flailing form. Hinata's face became intimate with the ground in a way that no self-respecting kunoichi would want and then he saw her and she was on her feet, running again. It didn't last, as another explosion consumed her.

Why?

Terrified lavender eyes could only stare on in horror at the sight before them. She watched, horrified, detached as her body was tossed about violently like a lifeless doll. Where had she gone wrong? What had she done to deserve this? Had she not been anythiing short of loyal? Had she not pledged to serve her village unconditionally? So then why? Why was this happening? Why was it happening to her? Why had she been left alone to die?

The footsteps drew closer.

She blinked back her tears that had yet to subside. Was this really the end? Was she to die here? Alone, unwanted, and humiliated? For surley, these men would use her body as they saw fit. They would take her and use her and harvest her eyes and then, when she had nothing left to give save her life, they would take that, too. Her teammates felt the same. They cared for her as only friends could but she was separated from them now; separated from them and her sensei and so very much alone.

Why?

She swallowed the lump that had begun to grow in her throat.

Why?

Why her?

Why now?

Her aggressors stopped and encircled her. She summoned up the last of her reserves and found them empty. She couldn't bring herself to face them. Was this the end? Would she perish here as they took her?

"Lord Raikage will be pleased." One of the grinned; the hitiate he wore marking him as a Kumogakure shinobi.

The sound of clapping diverted their attention. Soft clapping, puncuated by the light footfalls of open-toed sandals. The sound grew closer, and closer still, until a shadow did appear, rising upon the nearest hillock. It was a slight figure, nearing the 5'10 mark and otherwise unidentifiable in the distance. Undiscernable, unnoticable to those without the legendary Byakugan. Because Hinata saw him. She saw him and she knew him, all in the same instant.

It was a boy.

No, perhaps that wasn't quite right. A boy didn't hold himself with such pride. A boy wasn't clad in the signature garment of the Anbu Black Ops. A boy didn't leer down at his enemies. A boy didn't wear a ceramic mask, carved in the shape of a weeping kitsune. A boy didn't have spiky blond hair and eyes simmering like smoldering coals. A boy did not bother to conceal his chakra signature until the last instant, as this one had. Because this was no boy.

This was a man.

Garbed entirely in black and armed to the teeth, the Anbu crested the hill with slow, smooth steps. Upon reaching the platuea, he folded his arms and awaited a response. He hadn't long to wait. Silhouetted against the clouds and the moonlight sky, his shadow stretched across the ground, looming over the lot of them like the angel of death. Given the circumstances Hinata should have welcomed this intrustion with relief. Now, she wasn't so certain.

"Greetings, my deceased fellows." The man called jovially, his voice muffled behind the mask. "How are you on this fine evening?" Crimson irises glinted in the gloom, daring them to respond to the verbal jab. And respond they did.

"Deceased?" One of the thugs growled up at him. "Are you saying we're deceased?"

"Yes." The man continued, dropping down from the hill with an effortless grace bellying his charm. "The current situation doesn't allow for your survival." With swift and steady steps he stalked toward the foremost of the hired mercenaries shoving his smiling face at a heavyset man. "Therefore, you are all dead." He let the statement hang unadorned between them; revealing the kanji for 'death" etched into the bare flesh of his right shoulder.

"Don't tell me he's...that guy!" One of them hissed.

Despite his close proximity to the hired thugs, the blond performed a humble bow.

"My illsutrious reputation proceeds me." He cast a sidelong glance to the girl. "Now if you'd kindly hand the Hyuuga over and slit your own throats?" This subtle threat seemed to galvanize some of the men. One of the Kumogakure nin slid a hand into their pockets. If the Anbu noticed this subtle movement then he gave little indication of it. He could have easily taken them out in that instant. Instead he stood there, his head cocked fractionally to the side.

"You got some balls kid...huh!"

Before she could see it-before she could warn him-the man brandished a knife. The newcomer welcomed it with his palm. He didn't so much as flinch, even when the blade tore a hole through his hand and jutted out the other side. With his free hand he batted the man aside; smacking him across the face with an open palm. When the stabber tried to stumbled away the man's hand snaked out once more; ripping the knife from his own hand and ramming it into his attacker's throat.

The blond held the weapon there and twisted it, cutting a slice in the bandi'ts neck. It was only a quarter of an inch long, but it went deep. This width of the cut caused the blood to exit the neck not as liquid, but as a fine red mist; she could even hear the satisfying sound of a slight hiss. That hiss was the sound of life escaping his body. Soon, he would not even have enough life left in him to keep his eyes open. The blond rested his hand upon the hilt and gave it one final wrench, placing it in the path of the spray. The man uttered a hollow croaking sound and went down like a sack of potatoes, bathing his hand in red.

The blond stared at it in idle fascination.

"Ah...pain." He smiled, savoring the taste as he lapped up an errant drop with his tongue. "I'd almost forgotten what it felt like." Abruptly, his grin became manic. "Well done my deceased fellows! You've managed to wound me! However," He held up his hand for all to see, "You'll need to do better than this if you plan to kill me. Much much better than this!" Even as they looked on, the hole in his hand slithered shut. It simple closed, the wounded flesh knitting itself back together as though it'd never been.

"H-He's a monster!" Upon seeing their shinobi sponsor fall, the others were quick to fall into disarray and dismay. "He took out that jonin like he was nothing!"

"You have no idea." The blond made a show of cracking his knuckles, only to vanish in a swirl of leaves. A shushin. The conventional body flicker used boy most shinobi for the high-speed movement over long distances. But something was off aobut this particular flicker. In addition to the traditional swirl and a poof of smoke he left a red streak in his wake, tearing forward across the snowy field in a crimson flash.

"L-Let's get out of here!" Hollered one of the bandits; a sickly, gangly looking fellow, clad in little more than rag-tag armor. If the others heard his warning-if they bothered to heed it-remained unseen. A chorus of screams echoed his frantic cry, followed by a small fountain of scarlet. Their throats opened, the men sank like stones, sullying the once pristine snow with their blood. They lay there, gushing warm crimson, their warm bodies steaming in the frigid winter even as their blood froze.

Having dispatched them, the Anbu brought his wrath to bear upon the final mercenary.

"Stay away from me!" The man flung a kunai, only for it to meet a wall of red chakra. The throwing knife disintegrated and he was thrown backward. He stole a glance toward the Hyuuga, and for a moment looked as though he might attempt to take her hostage. Any attempt to do so however, was swiftly forestalled by loss of his right arm. Chakra coiled about his limb, a ghastly appendage that severed the limb at the elbow.

Half walking, half shambling, the Kumo-nin tried to turn his attention once more toward the Hyuuga.

A wave of killer intent convinced him otherwise.

The soldier-for-hire tried to flee, only to find himself bound by chains. Protruding flawlessly from the Anbu's back, they snaked around the unfortunate soul; dragging the man closer and ushering him to his doom. When he came within arm's reach the Anbu grabbed him by the throat. With the other, he slowly reached back to his mask, whisking the demonic visage aside to expose the features of his face; whiskered cheeks and furious crimson eyes and all

The man squealed in terror.

"I-Its you!"

The nameless anbu leaned closed, his expression one of deadly intent.

"I know who sent you." He whispered. "You may have been made to forget, but I know." A pause. "Well, now. I suppose that means I no longer have any use for you do I, my deceased fellow?" He glanced down at the slight pitter-patter sound coming from between the man's legs. He'd soiled himself. Disgust and revulsion and scorn twisted the fine features of the Anbu's face as the man thoroughly soaked his trousers. Then he smiled.

"Well, I suppose there is one thing you can do for me...

"W-What do you want me to do?"

The young man smiled coldly.

"I want you to look into my eyes." The Anbu growled. "Worship me. Fear me. For the crime of attacking a kunoichi of Konoha, die now and repent forever." His grip tightened, his gloved fingers grinding against blood and sinew and bone. "There are none before me. There are none behind me. I am Konoha's Crimson Fox, Namikaze Naruto!" His eyes blazed black and crimson with tomoe and the last thing the mercenary saw was his own death, repeated a thousand different times over.

The Anbu didn't even touch him. He didn't have to. With a heartwrenching scream the man began to gibber and wail, and all the while the chains tightened around him. Before he could free himself from the genjutsu, before the thought even occurred to him that he might be under the ultimate illusion, it was over. The chains slithered away leaving a hunk of bloodied flesh, utterly unrecognizeable from the charred corpses of his comrades.

Exhaling, the young man doused the mercenaries with a gout of fire, the Katon jutsu incinerating all evidence. He replaced his mask, the pained grimace of the fox sliding into place once more. Only then did he turn his attention to the Hyuuga. Only then, when he was certain that all traces of the enemy were obliterated did he walk amongst the ash of his enemy and approach her.

"Don't move!" A harsh voice demanded suddenly. "Or the girl dies!"

The Anbu, now known as Namikaze Naruto, rounded on the sound. Barely standing, one arm wrapped round the girl's throat and other holding a kunai to her neck, was one of the men he'd supposedly killed. Bleeding from the neck, but still very much alive, the man had taken Hinata hostage. Even as Naruto edged half a step forward, the man took two back. By the look in his eyes he didn't have much time left. However, could still slit her throat. Just a single twitch. That was all it would take.

"Lay down your weapons and surrender!" The nameless man screamed! "Now!"

"Damn." The blond murmurred, almost to himself. "Missed one."

"Lay down your weapons!"

As if he hadn't heard, the Anbu began to clean himself of blood. When he had finished, he made a move as if to step forward. The result was instantaneous. The man skittered backward, trailing blood and dragging Hinata with him. His days were numbered and he knew it, but still he clung to the feeble hope that he could win. He could -would- make this madman surrender.

"Don't come any closer!"

"Don't move," Naruto said, raising his masked gaze to meet her own. "Hinata."

The girl managed a quivering nod.

"One more step and I'll kill her!" The man threatened. "I mean it!"

Naruto paused at that.

"One more step?"

He raised a palm and cupped it, his fingers shimmering in preparation for some unknown jutsu. He held it there, allowing the Kumogakure shinobi to avail upon him, to see it, as a spiraling sphere swelled within his palm. The sight of this jutsu, of that jutsu, the jutsu that the Yellow Flash had used to lay waste to Iwagakure, left the man speechless and shitless. The Yondaime Hokage's jutsu! What was he supposed to do against that! As if sensing his fear, Naruto smiled.

"I don't need a step to kill you."

And then the kage bunshin dispersed in a plume of smoke.

"Because you're already dead!"

Naruto burst out of the earth behind him, his fingers locking around the man's head. He felt resistance; felt tendons tear and ligaments break as he exerted his strength. With a might heave his captive tried to twist himself free; tried to bring the kunai across Hinata's throat. He only suceeded in making the smallest of cuts before Naruto successfully removed the man's head from his shoulders, tearing it free in a viscuous arterial spray.

Hinata yelped and scrambled out of his way; desperate to get away from the still twitching corpse, as if it might somehow still do her harm. But it did not. It lay there stooped in a pool of rapidly congealing blood, lifeless and dead. She touched at her neck and swallowed, eerily aware of her brush with death. She looked up, watching as Naruto took up his latest kill and set it upon the burning pyre. He said nothing.

"Th-Thank you for saving me, Na-Naruto-kun." Hinata whispered. "I-

"What were you thinking?"

Naruto rounded on her, moving with a speed that Hinata had not thought possible. One moment he'd been yards away, watching the corpses burn. The next, swirls of scarlet and sapphire swelled before her vision, blotting out all else. Belatedly, Hinata realized that Naruto wasn't angry. He was furious. Furious, for her risking herself, as she couldn't think of any thing else that would so easily draw his ire. Regardless, Naruto was positively livid with her. He made a curt motion toward his throat; silencing whatever else she might have said.

"Shut up before I kill you myself, damnit!"

Hinata froze.

She knew of his training. Shortly after failing the genin exam Naruto had been taken in by a man named Danzou Shimura. While Hinata knew next-to-nothing about the man, she did know that Aa a high-ranking council member, Danzou held significant political clout within the village. Making Naruto virtually untouchable. Only the Hokage could try to command him, but the boy refused to accept any mission unless otherwise approved by the man who'd taken him in. Hinata hadn't thought much of it at the time. That is, until Naruto returned from his mission in the Land of Waves.

He didn't return alone.

Imagine her surprise when Team Kakashi had returned with the infamous Demon of the Mist, Zabuza Momochi, and the last remaining female member of the Yuki clan! Their surprise had been total and complete; as had the rest of the village's when the infamous war hawk did something no one expected. Shortly after Team Kakashi's return from their mission in Wave, he'd revealed Naruto's heritage to the world.

Naruto was the son of the Yondaime Hokage. Namikaze Minato. Not to mention Uzuamki Kushina. Meaning that he'd the blood of the Namikaze and the Uzumaki-each of whom had been completely wiped out during the war-running strong through his veins. The flood of marriage proposals and assasination attempts inevitably came and went, and with each one Hinata felt her heart break a little more.

Naruto survived them of course. But he was forever changed. Gone was that kind, determined, gentle boy she'd fallen in love with. And if he wasn't gone, then she was losing him a little bit each day. Just now when she'd been taken hostage, there had been a moment. A moment when she'd been almost certain Naruto would stab through her to kill the kidnapper. But he hadn't.

He wasn't like that. Not yet. But he would be soon. Every day he spent under Danzo's tutelage was another day he died in her eyes. Naruto still had his feelings and emotions unlike most of Danzo's subourdinates, but how long would that last? As long as Danzo saw fit, most likely. With the Namikaze heir under his thumb, and the Sandaime unable to do so much as impede the line of potential suitors, it was only a matter of time before some kunoichi snatched Naruto up and whisked him away. Technically someone had already done so.

Haku.

Naruto was currently engaged to one woman and one woman only. Yuki Haku. She and Naruto had been all but joined at the hip ever since their return to Konoha. They each shared painful pasts as only a demon container and the last of a cursed clan possibly could. Konoha had been quick to announce their engagement, while Kumo and Taki and Iwa were each clamoring to find a suitable kunoichi to woo him over to their side, as were Suna and Kiri. The balance was precious. Precarious. Everyone wanted a piece of Namikaze Naruto. And most weren't beyond killing to get what they wanted. That they hadn't yet done this remained something of a miracle.

And then their were the internal matters of the clans themselves to contend with. The Haruno clan had been first to present Sakura to Naruto as a potential bride-to-be. Well, that had been their intention. Unfortunately-or fortunately in her case-the pinkette was so infatuated with Uchiha Sasuke that she couldn't even fathom marrying Naruto. The feeling was entirely mutual on the part of the Namikaze.

Naruto didn't want a thing to do with Sakura anymore. She'd already hit him on a daily basis before his tutelage under Danzo. Why on earth would he want to marry someone who caused him pain? No, thank kami, Naruto-kun wanted nothing to do with Sakura. Nor did he pretend to have any interest in clans Yamanaka, Akimichi, or Aburame. Much to Hinata's relief, though she bore them no ill will for it.

But that was were the lists of rejects ended, and where Hinata's troubles began. Naruto had shown some interest in the Inuzuka clan when Kiba's mother presented Hana to him. Ah, if only it were that simple. The two knew next to nothing of each other and for now, their relationship appeared purely platonic. Thus far, Haku-chan seemed to be the only one he truly cared for. Aaaaaaand then there was Hinata's clan.

Whether out of fear or respect, her father was also maneuvering to get in the Namikaze's favor. It was Hyuuga Hiashi's personal belief that if the Namikaze prospered, then so too would the Hyuuga clan. And fortunately for him-unfortunately for Hinata!-he had two daughters to further this agenda. Until last week.

Naruto had flat out refused to be wed to Hanabi, despite her father's pressuring on the council. Ever since that day, Father had been constantly pressuring her to seduce the Namikaze heir and produce a child. To seduce him! Naruto-kun! The thought made Hinata's cheeks burn with fire! Impossible! Absolutely impossible! There was no way! She couldn't possibly tempt Naruto-kun to bed with a clean concsience. Not to mention he held little to no interest in her.

To make matters worse, the Chunin exams were fast approaching.

Soon representatives from the Five Great Nations, amongst them other smaller villages such as Amegakure no Sato and Otogakure no Sato, would flood Konoha. It was widely accepted that more attempts to woo Naruto-kun would be made during that time. All assasination attempts would be put on hold with so many shinobi within the village. With all their leaders gathered together, such an attempt would likely set of the Fourth Shinobi War.

Hinata bowed low and deep and the waist.

"I'm so sorry!"

The blond remained silent.

"G-Gomen," She repeated, "Naruto-kun."

He continued to stare bloody red daggers at her. Sorrow, and perhaps even regret, crossed the young Namikaze's face, but only for a moment. Hinata knew this only because her Byakugan remained active. Therefore she knew he was utterly serious when he took her hand and roughly hauled her to her feet. For a moment his fingers graced hers, a moment she held and cherished in her heart. It ended too soon.

Naruto jerked backward as if he'd been burned. He opened his mouth as if planned to say something, then snapped it shut. Shaking his head, he moved on ahead of her, with a flare gun miracuously produced from his flack jacket. Snapping it upward, Naruto depressed the trigger and sent a meteor of brilliance roaring into the sky. That would be a signal to converge. If Kurenai-sensei and the others were searching for her then they'd now know where to find her.

Already, she could sense them. There. Just on the edge of her Byakugan. They were sprinting toward the source of the flare, covering ground at an alarming pace. Akamaru must have her scent, Hinata realized. She had to strain to make out the finer points of their features, but for the most part her sensei teammates were unharmed. That was good. It meant their mission to investigate the recent incursions into Fire Country had been a complete success. Recently a strange group of cloaked assailants were making attempts to gauge the standing strength of Konoha's military might. Caravans had been attacked. Civilians kidnapped. Entire towns razed to the ground. The information they had acquired would go a long way toward ascertaining the source of this apparent unrest.

Briefly, she allowed herself to contemplate the meaning of the failed kidnap attempt. Kumo's latest attempt to take the Byakugan had failed, and a month before the Chunin Exams no less. Doubtlessly this would not go over well with the village leaders when they convened for the Chunin Exams. But that was another matter for another day. For now, she just wanted to go home. Home. Home to father and his endless expectations. To the constant pressuring to make Naruto her own. As if her life wasn't bad enough.

"You're not hurt anywhere, are you?" the words were so soft she nearly missed them when Naruto spoke.

"A-A little." Hinata offered him her burnt arm, flinching as Naruto seized it. "I-Ittei! You're hurting me, Naruto-kun!" The blond paid her no heed, though his grip did slacken a bit. Just a bit. A green glow emanated from his fingertips, bathing her arm in warmth. Oh. She'd forgotten about Naruto's medical training. He'd been working with his senpai, Kabuto Yakushi on it for quite some time. Useful as it was, he didn't want to become reliant upon the Kyuubi's chakra. It was poisonous to him if used in excess. Suddenly she was most grateful for his interest in honing his own power. If not for that, then she'd have had to suffer the return trip with damaged arteries...

"There." Naruto withdrew his hand from hers.

As swiftly as it had started, the warm glow dissipated, leaving her arm cleansed and whole. Hinata marveled at it his work. Her hand was completely healed and as smooth as a baby's bottom and twice clean as before. She felt refreshed, despite her lack of chakra and adrenaline. It was as if she hadn't spend the evening evading pursuers. Such was the mastery of his work. Say what you will about Naruto's lack of subtlety, but when he set his mind to a task he often succeeded. Just as he had now.

"Do you need me to carry you?" Naruto asked tersely, mistaking her.

Hinata's cheeks reddened.

"Nani?"

"I said, we're going home, Hinata." Naruto answered, mentally chastising himself for the slip. "You will file a full report with the Hokage upon our return. Until that time I have been given orders to take direct command of Team Kurenai. You and the others are to follow my every command to the letter. So...try to keep up, alright?"

The words sent a chill through her heart. She'd longed to hear those words from him. Longed to have him come save her. And yet now that it finally happened, she felt cold. It was a disheartening sensation. She felt numb inside. Like someone had reached inside her chest and plucked out her heart. It hurt. But it also felt good. It meant that she still loved him. But if she loved him so...

"Understood, Naruto-kun...

Then why did it feel like she was slowly losing him?

A/N: Why does Naruto have the Sharingan? Why is he an Anbu at the age of fifteen? Why is everyone so determined to get a piece of him? All of these questions and more can be summed up in one word. Danzou. I DID tell you that he'd play a central role in the plot of this fic, didn't I? Manipulative war monger that he is, he's trying to create a monopoly on the Namikaze and Uzumaki clan to build up Konoha's military might. And if Naruto just so happens to benefit from that then he considers it an incentive to keep the Kyuubi container in his good graces. Also! Yay for Haku-chan! She LIVES! I'm also not opposed to certain vixens from Oto *Cough*Tayuya and Kin*Cough* and such joining in on the fun!

This is going to make for one hectic Chunin Exam! Sasuke isn't going to like this one bit...

I sincerely hope all of you enjoy this story and look forward to the epic haremy lemony goodness that is soon to come! Who will be in the harem besides Haku-chan? Good question! I sincerely hope all of you vote via review! We'll be seeing things from everyone's perspective and remember, the jinchuuriki are ALIVE because this is not Shippuden yet, (though WE ARE getting quite close to it and Naruto's sixteenth birthday) And another answer to another potential question: The Chunin exams were scheduled later due to select maneuvering on the part of Danzo. And how did Naruto learn the Rasengan? The Namikaze's scrolls of course!

Also, le gasp! Who could these cloaked assailants be? Could it possible be...

...you'll have to wait and see!

R&R! =D