Had Gaara's father been alive at that point, he would've likely been slamming his head against the nearest solid surface and cursing his stupidity. Based on the news about the Kyuubi Jinchuriki that was winging its way across the continent at the speed of rumor which was faster than light, Gaara's uncle had accidentally stumbled upon the perfect way to raise and prime a Jinchuriki. If he could've gotten Gaara to include all of Suna on a list of "Precious people"...

As things transpired, the Kazekage was dead in a ditch though only a few individuals knew that at that point in time and it was Chiyo who was laughing at the cruel irony.

In Konoha, Baki was stuck with the unenviable task of trying to get a freaked-out Jinchuriki who was having flashbacks to the worst day of his life safely out of the village until it was time for the invasion. The killings in the Forest of Death had done little to sate the boy's bloodlust, and Temari and Kankuro's family resemblance to Yashamaru wasn't doing them any favors at this point in Biju that was housed inside Gaara wasn't helping matters any either, apparently being rather afraid of the biju contained in the blond Uzumaki and being torn between wanting to run and wanting to attack while it was housed in weak and breakable flesh.

Gaara himself was all over the map mentally and emotionally. He ran into someone who was like him for the first time in his life, and rather than being like he was now, the boy was like he had been before his uncle Yashamaru had...

He wanted friends, people he could be close to, but he didn't need Precious people in his life. They always betrayed you in the end.

Death was how he confirmed his existence.

Death was how he kept himself from being betrayed again.

When Karin awoke, she sensed the presences of two people in her room. Neither of them were nurses, nor were either of them Naruto who had yet to make a second appearance since the visit that had ended with him storming out and apparently nearly murdering her team if the stories she'd been overhearing were true. Turning to see who it was who had visited her, she found herself facing two girls who were about Naruto's age, one of whom she recognized as being Naruto's female teammate.

"Um..." the dark haired girl with the pale eyes who wasn't Naruto's teammate said shyly, having apparently noticed she was awake.

"Who're you?" she asked the girls.

"I'm Sakura and that's Hinata." the pink-haired girl said. "We came to keep you company since Naruto's locked up in the psych ward."


In another area of the hospital entirely, Naruto was sitting in a rather standard looking office being interrogated by a female Yamanaka who had something of a clinical air about her. She didn't call it interrogation, but the questions she was asking were tortuously invasive. Apparently, that little berserk button of his that he hadn't known existed until Mizuki had tried to kill Iruka-sensei was very dangerous to have, especially considering what he was, and it was her job to fix the problem.

Part of this interrogation included going over his past in detail which was something he generally avoided. Partially because if he connected all of those incidents, every last one of those slights, every time he'd been snubbed, he could very well end up hating Konoha which was the only home he'd ever known, and the home of most of the few Precious people in his life, with a vengeance.

"And, how did you feel when the mask stall owner threw you out of his stall and threw the fox mask at you?" the Yamanaka asked, going over yet another detail of that incident with Hibachi that he'd mostly forgotten about until now.

Grumbling almost inaudibly, he turned away from his interrogator and focused his gaze on the vase with a single flower in it that rested on the woman's standard-issue desk. The vase was very boring to look at, but it was better than the unwavering gaze of the Yamanaka.

Jiraiya sat outside the therapist's office waiting to get a look at the boy who should've already been his student if things had gone according to plan. He'd seen the boy when he'd examined his seal which was based on an Uzumaki design and determined that things were as safe as could be expected with a Jinchuriki, but the boy had been unconscious at the time. He wanted to get a feel for the boy, to get to know what kind of child the boy he hadn't seen much of since he was a baby had grown into.

By all accounts, Naruto was like his mother, but he wanted to see for himself. To see if there was anything of his former student in the child. To see if Minato had handed down that spark of brilliance that had made him his favorite student aside from Nagato who was quite possibly kin to the boy as well.

If Naruto had indeed inherited that brilliance that caused an off the wall tangent to produce actual results, then teaching him would be a joy. He'd barely have to instruct the boy, he'd just have to give him a nudge here or there and the boy would almost independently create something remarkable, or build on and improve something basic in unexpected and previously unimagined ways.

It really was a pity he wasn't allowed to teach the boy the Sealing Arts because of that one incident.

That creature that got summoned from that Hell dimension was a remarkably good bureaucrat, and document thefts from the census department had been reduced to nearly nil though.

In his private private office, Danzo sat considering something that went against everything he'd done and built over the past few decades. He was considering building an emotional rapport with a potential trainee and not snuffing it out over training along with all of the child's other emotions. It would be one-sided, with the boy loyal to him, but still...

After reviewing the boy's hobbies, he'd thought he'd found an in with the child that would allow him to keep his wallet full and his dignity intact. Outside of work-related activities, the boy enjoyed ramen, pranks, and gardening.

He planned on giving the boy a few seedlings for a rare and tricky to cultivate plant. Then he'd give the boy tips on how to care for the plant, and how the roots needed to be tended to, and excess outgrowth trimmed away. Then, he would slowly open the boy's eyes to the fact that Konoha was like that plant, and that things that seemed reprehensible, things that even standard shinobi tended to be a bit squeamish about needed to be done to keep it alive.

Being loyal to the village, the boy would do the rest in order to keep his precious people - one of whom would be him - safe.