Ethos 6.

Disclaimer- Naruto is not mine.

Chapter Six. The doctor.

I wanted to seek Zabuza out immediately after that. But I did not dare. Every time I thought of doing so, Neji's white eyes and his warnings would fill my mind. I did not want to link myself to him just yet.

I had something far more dangerous brewing for me.

Maki had been moved permanently to room with Hinata and me. And Maki was changing.

Her eyes were often distant, and she spoke in almost riddles whenever she was spoken to.

I had been assigned to work for Lee again with the cows. I figured I could find some things out about the doctor by asking him.

"Has Kin always been that way?" I asked after about an hour of silently milking the cows.

Lee leaned back from the cow he was milking. "Kin used to be a lovely lady. She was so strong." Lee muttered almost to himself.

"What caused her to change?" I asked.

Lee shook his head. "It's a sad fate."

"I heard that she has been visiting with the doctor, is that true?" I pressed him further.

Lee looked right at me. "She has. He made her that way. But we shouldn't be speaking of such things, let's get back to work and onto better topics."

I frowned. So my theory was correct. Whatever the doctor did to Kin, he plans to do the same to Maki. I had to tell Kiba and the others as quickly as possible.

At Lunch

I sat apart from the others with Kiba, Hinata, and Shino as usual. I was waiting until we were completely safe to talk before I told them what I had learned.

Finally the time arose.

"Lee said that whatever the doctor has been doing to Kin has caused her to become defective." I whispered.

"That's what I thought." Kiba said.

"I worry for Maki." I said.

"We all do." Shino said. "I'm having bugs follow her movements closely, and they say that she wanders in her free time. It is like something is drawing her mind out of her."

I shivered. How horrible, for a doctor to cause such a fate to his 'patients'.

"Quiet, the overseer approaches." Hinata whispered.

I didn't have to turn my head to know that Neji was approaching.

"He takes an interest in us." Shino whispered.

"Maybe in just one of us." Kiba said with a sly look at me.

I blushed at the implication. "Don't be dumb." I whispered.

"Tenten." Neji addressed me. "Come with me." He said.

I rose and left with him.

"Is it true that Maki has been moved to your room?" He asked.

I shivered again. How did he know about household affairs? He was a farm worker.

"It is true." I said.

"Did she sleep there last night?" Neji asked.

I frowned. "No. She wanders at night. And during the day." I said.

"What about the night before?"

"She did." I answered. "Why are you asking this? Maki works in the kitchen. She's not one of your farm workers."

"You have no right to ask me questions." Neji said starkly.

"Then what right do you have to ask me questions?" I asked.

"I have been here for years. You're only an orphan that's been here for a month. Learn your place and stop stirring trouble with Lee."

I saw red. How dare he insult my orphan status! He didn't know anything about me.

"At least I've seen Itachi Uchiha and lived to tell the tale." I answered darkly. I knew that barely anyone in Konoha had set eyes upon the elusive Uchiha.

Neji's white eyes glared at me. "Get back to work." He said.

I stood alone on the path that we had walked on. That had been such a strange encounter. But he had not harmed me, and he had not expressed hatred toward me. So I was probably safe.

The Next Day

I woke up the next morning quickly. Usually I would wake up slowly and try to spend as much time in my bed as possible, but today I dressed quickly and headed for the kitchen.

I sat alone at a table to eat my breakfast. There were only a handful of people in the mess hall. It was nice and quiet.

I stopped eating when I noticed a man approach me. He had very dark features, and he glared at me.

"Tenten." He said. "The doctor wishes to meet with you."

My heart sank. The doctor wanted to see me. Visions of the half-conscious Maki and Kin darted through my mind. What would happen to me there?

"Meet me in the kitchen after all the others have gone out to the farms." The man said. "I'll take you to the doctor then."

I did as I was told. I stood in the kitchens. Maki was absent, and I wondered where she was.

A fat man that I recognized from the other day addressed me. He had been one of Neji's friends that had spoken to Kiba.

"Hello Tenten." He said. "My name is Choji, what are you doing in the kitchen?"

"Waiting on summons to meet the doctor." I answered. "How did you know my name?"

Choji laughed. "The mark on your arm is widely spoken about within Konoha. You're the first legitimate orphan we've had here in years."

"That's strange. I would think that there would be more." I said thoughtfully. I found Choji very nice. It was wonderful to get my mind off of whatever waited for me in the doctor's chambers.

"Nah, with chakra-users it's usually our family that turn us in." Choji said.

Then the man with dark features arrived. "Come with me Tenten." He said.

"Good luck." Choji said as I walked away.

I nodded to him, but did not say more.

The dark man led me through a dark corridor that was lit by green candles. I had never been through this part of Konoha.

Finally he stopped in front of a door. "You are not to speak of what you see in this room." He said ominously.

I nodded silently. Then we both entered through the door.

It was a rather large room. A giant fireplace sat on one side with a great desk in front of it. Book shelves lined the walls, and papers were stacked everywhere. There was a strange symbol above the fireplace, it was red and white and I had never seen it before. Beside the strange symbol, there were clouds drawn upon most of the walls. I knew that they were the symbol of the Akatsuki.

I saw Itachi Uchiha leaning against the desk with his eyes closed. He wore the same kind of cloak that I had seen him wear in the orphanage.

Behind the desk sat the ugliest man that I had ever seen. His skin was blue, and it appeared that scales ran along the surface. He was shuffling through papers, but he looked up when he saw me.

"Aw, you must be Tenten." He said. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

Itachi even turned and looked at me with his frightening eyes.

"Itachi, why exactly did you send for her to live here?" The doctor asked.

It was then that I noticed the dark featured man had disappeared. How strange, I hadn't heard the door open. Then I saw a black bird in the place where he had been standing. The man must have been some incarnation of the Uchiha standing before me.

"She is Chakra sensitive." Itachi said. "And is built for combat, look at her Kisame." Itachi said.

The doctor, whose name must be Kisame nodded as he looked at me. "I do see it." He said. "And her chakra is powerful; it's not like anything I've ever experienced though."

I was silent. I wondered when they would address me.

"Tenten how did your family die?" Itachi asked.

I looked right into his black eyes. "I don't know. I've been in orphanages all my life." I said.

Kisame smiled. "I remember that symbol on your arm. Too bad that they're all gone." He looked right at me. "Please sit down. Be comfortable. I only want to speak with you."

I did as he said and sat down before him.

"What I am doing is a very noble pursuit, Tenten." Kisame said. "I know some people regard me as a monster, but I promise that I am trying to do good things."

I nodded. "I believe you." I said. I only agreed to keep them from doing anything. I was trying to appear defective so they would not assume anything about my abilities.

"We are searching for someone with extraordinary abilities." Itachi said. "We were hoping that you could help us locate them."

"What kind of abilities?" I asked.

Kisame answered vaguely. "Just someone extraordinary. Can we count on you?"

I nodded. "Of course. I would love to be of assistance to you two."

Kisame nodded to me. "I would love to make you my patient, but I am far too busy with my other patients right now."

I held in my sigh of relief. They wouldn't operate on me. My heart sagged. I was saved.

"You are dismissed." Itachi said.

I nodded and left the room. I wandered through the halls. I finally collapsed against one and held my face. I had been so close to being just like Kin.

I spent the rest of the day working in the kitchen with Choji. He had been happy to see that I was still functioning after my visit.

The Next Day

I had told Kiba and the others about my visit to the doctor. They were just as relieved as me that I was alright. I told them that Itachi had enlisted my help in search for someone like me. Though I had no idea what they meant.

"You might be the only person other than Sasuke that has seen Itachi." Kiba said. "You're amazing."

I was about to respond when Zabuza passed by and went to eat his lunch in a barn. I followed him without a word to my other friends. I could explain later to them about Zabuza and I's connection.

Zabuza saw me sit next to him. He frowned. "What do you want?" He asked.

"Do you know me?" I asked.

"You're Tenten. And orphan just like me." Zabuza said.

I nodded. "Good, you're still mentally stable. Why are you here? As far as I know you don't possess any chakra abilities."

Zabuza said nothing.

"Did something happen with Haku?" I pressed. "Tell me!"

"Haku is dead." Zabuza said.

I reeled backwards. "Dead? But how could that happen! You tow were on your way to achieving normalcy!" My mind would not accept Haku's death. He had been the closest thing to family.

"Haku became deranged after you departed. He began using his abilities recklessly. He was found out and taken away by Akatsuki. I never saw him again."

"How did you get here? And not Haku?" I asked.

"I figured that Haku had been brought here against his will, just like you." Zabuza said. "So I spread a rumor that I was a chakra-user, in order for me to come here and be with you two. But Haku is not here, and you are."

"I don't understand the animosity towards me." I said.

"You're happy here. While Haku has suffered death somewhere else." Zabuza said. "He sacrificed everything to be with you, and you don't care."

I slapped him. "Don't you dare say that I enjoy myself more here than with you two." I said. "I would give anything to be away from here and with you two."

Zabuza stood. "I'm going to go." He said.

I was left alone. In more ways than one.

The most important person to me was dead.

I collapsed into the hay. Tears fell from my eyes. I wept for the first time in years.

I wept for whatever tortuous things had happened to Haku. He didn't deserve it. He didn't s=deserve anything that had happened to him. He had always been kind to me. Now his death had caused Zabuza's hatred of me. I wept for Zabuza's suffering too.

"What has happened?" Neji asked from the doorway of the barn.

I turned to see him looking right at me with concern. I knew then that I should make some excuse for my tears, but I couldn't bear to lie anymore.

"My dearest friend is dead." I said simply. As I said it, more tears fell from my eyes.

Next thing I knew Neji was kneeling next to me in the hay. "All your friends are alive, I would know otherwise." He said.

I laughed bitterly. He thought I meant someone on the farms. "No, this friend lived in Amegakure with me." I said. "But you probably would just hate him for the symbol he wore on his arm." I gestured to the orphan tattoo I wore.

"I know I have not been so kind, since the death of my father." Neji said. "I almost envy you for not having any relatives, so that you could never feel the pain I felt at losing him. But now you're hurt by the death of a friend."

"He was more than a friend." I said. I had no logical explanation for why Neji was being so nice to me. None of this made sense.

"I heard you went to see the doctor." Neji said. "Are you alright?"

I nodded. "I am only hurt by my loss." I said.

Something strange happened then. Neji wrapped his arms around me. I could feel his even breathing on the back of my neck.

"Come now, if you don't return to work more suspicions about you will rise." He said.

Then I let him help me up and I dried my tears. He sent me far away from the other chakra users, so that I might collect my emotions before the night meal.

I had no idea why he was being so kind.

A/N- Thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful day.