Missing Nins

Bold writing – Kyuubi is talking
'Anything in inverted commas' – A person thinking to themselves.
"In speech marks" – People talking (duh xD)
Slanted writing – Either a dream or a flashback.
T-T = Section Break

Chapter 8;

"I don't understand…" Naruto began as his father retracted his hand from Naruto's elegant hair, "One minute I was in the Nine Tails' lair, and the next I'm here. What's going on?" Naruto questioned, causing his mother to giggle.

"Before your mother and I died," The Fourth began, as he took a seat on the comfortable grass surrounding the many flowers of the peaceful garden, "We managed to seal a fragment of our chakra within you, so that we could see you and speak to you, but it won't last forever, maybe another 30 minutes." The Fourth signalled for Naruto to sit, to which Naruto obeyed, "I never would have thought you'd try to control the Kyuubi at such a young age." The Fourth looked Naruto directly in the eyes, as a thoughtful expression engulfed his face, "Your mother and I are very proud of you." The Fourth allowed himself a smile.

"The perks of having an Uzumaki and a Namikaze as parents." Naruto's mother jokingly interrupted, before heartily laughing to herself. Naruto stared at his mother for several seconds before returning the heart-felt laugh.

"So, you're an Uzumaki then?" Naruto asked, his question directed solely at his mother. His mother answered his question with a simple nod, "I've never heard of the Namikaze." Naruto whispered under his breath, staring at the floor in deep thought, 'Why haven't I heard of the Namikaze? The villagers and other Ninja's never referred to the Fourth by name…'

"The Third really did live up to his promise then?" The Fourth exclaimed, causing Naruto to awaken from his thoughtful state, "I had made the Third promise that you never know of my family, or that you are my son. It looks like his promise was well kept." The Fourth chuckled in memory of his friend, "We've seen everything that has happened during your life, Naruto. All the events and dire situations the Nine Tails has burdened on you…" The Fourth paused for a brief moment to allow himself to collect his words, "We know how difficult it has been for you, Naruto." The Fourth placed a delicate hand upon Naruto's shoulder, "But we've been with you the entire time, guiding you, trying our best to protect you."

"And when I had to kill my friends, did you 'guide' me then?" Naruto barked, shrugging his father's hand from his shoulder. The Fourth slowly retracted his hand, placing it on his lap, "Everything I've done in my life, I've done on my own." Naruto whispered bitterly, deliberately shaking his head, "Everything I've had to do in my life is your fault. If you hadn't sealed the Nine Tails in me, everything would have been different!" Naruto screeched, his anger that her had built up for so many years finally exploding, without any intentions to halt. Naruto took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself. His mother silently crept towards him, placing herself down on the floor gently directly beside Naruto.

"Naruto, you have to understand that your father and I had no other choice. We didn't want your life to turn out like this, but there was nothing we could do to stop it." Naruto's mother whispered soothingly, slightly eradicating the frustration built up within Naruto. Naruto sighed, but otherwise remained silent, "You have to understand that we would give anything to have things turn out differently, but it cannot be done; trusting in false hope only fools yourself." The scarlet-haired woman smiled, and placed her hand sensitively on Naruto's forearm, sending a flurry of warmth throughout Naruto's very being.

"Why didn't you want me to know you were my parents?" Naruto curiously asked the pair, as he shuffled himself closer towards his mother.

"We wanted to protect you," The Fourth began, as he gently rubbed his chin, "We knew that if you had found out we gave our lives protecting Konoha, you would grow to despise of Konoha, and we didn't want that for you."

"So you wanted me to betray the village instead?" Naruto bitterly asked, before clenching his teeth in anger.

"We never foresaw these unfortunate events." The Hokage whispered, "Naruto, you have to understand that your mother and I did not have a choice in the matter; it was either save Konoha, or allow Konoha to perish. The former seemed like the obvious choice." The Hokage joked, attempting to lighten the tense atmosphere, as he sheepishly scratched his luxurious golden hair, "Nobody could foresee the treachery that the Sixth would commit, not even I; he betrayed the Hidden Leaf by murdering the Fifth, and now he's turned the entire village against you."

"Yeah, like I didn't know that already dad." Naruto sarcastically replied.

Naruto's mother giggled at Naruto's sudden change in tone, but the Fourth ultimately ignored Naruto's sarcasm, "Do you have anybody in other villages that could help you? There must be somebody…"

"What do you mean by 'help me'? Nobody would listen to me; the Sixth has set bounty of significant value on Hinata and myself. We would be killed before we even made it to a village." Naruto explained, "The Sixth has probably thought of the possibility of us asking for aid from the other villages, and has informed them to expect me. There's no way I can go to any other village now, it's too dangerous."

"What about that other Jinchuriki in the Sand village?" The Fourth suggested, "Gaara I believe his name was?"

"Gaara? No, there's too much at stake here to involve him in this. Besides, the entire village would kill me on sight."

"Naruto, speaking with Gaara, and telling him the entire situation would be one of the best courses of action at this moment in time. Not only does he trust you and cherish your friendship, he would also do whatever is in the best interest of Konoha, and right now only you hold that information." The Hokage quickly replied.

"So you think it's a good idea to go out into the open, expose not only myself, but also Hinata, Itachi and Kisame, so I can talk with Gaara?" Naruto questioned.

"Your teammates will not be at risk, they don't have to accompany you on this journey. It would be safer if they stay at the hideout." The Fourth explained carefully.

"There's no way Itachi would even think about letting my leave; he would rather die than put me at risk." Naruto deeply sighed to himself, as he began to ponder about what course of action he should take next, "I'll think of something to keep Itachi's mind at ease." Naruto whispered, allowing the Fourth to smile slightly, "But this isn't going to be easy, not even in the slightest. I may be powerful, but against several capable Ninja's, I don't stand a chance."

"We know you'll stay safe. We're your parents after all." Naruto's mother exclaimed.

"My parents who still haven't told me their names however." Naruto chuckled to himself.

"We were waiting for you to ask us. My name is Minato, and you already know most Ninja's referred to me as 'The Yellow Flash'." Minato said, as his small smile began to grow in size.

"And my name is Uzumaki Kushina, but you already knew the Uzumaki bit." Kushina enthusiastically retaliated to Naruto's indirect question. She too allowed herself a smile.

"So, you both really think it's a good idea to see Gaara?" Naruto questioned.

"If we didn't, we wouldn't have brought it up." Minato quickly answered.

Naruto began to notice his parent's bodies disappear, as if they were constantly fazing in and out of reality, "It looks like it's time." Kushina solemnly whispered, before locking eyes with Naruto, "Naruto, for what time we had, I'm glad I got to see my son all grown up. We love you." She slowly leaned towards Naruto's soft and fragile cheeks, and soothingly gave him a motherly kiss. Naruto could still feel the strong presence of care and love once Kushina's lips left his cheek. Naruto tore his vision from his mother, and replaced it with his father.

"Goodbye Naruto. Now your mother and I can rest knowing you'll be safe." He stretched out his arm, placing his hand gently upon Naruto's hair. He rustled Naruto's soft and silky hair, causing Naruto to wince in embarrassment, "As your mother said, we love you, and we know you'll do what it takes to do the right thing." Minato retracted his hand from Naruto's hair.

"I'll never see you guys again, will I?" Naruto asked, as a small tear escaped from his eye. He quickly wiped away the tear.

"We'll be with you Naruto, and we'll always be watching over you." Kushina replied gently.

Before Naruto could ask another question, both his parents had disappeared from sight. Naruto sat in the garden, astonished by what had just unfolded. He replayed the conversation repeatedly in his mind, still in doubt if what had just happened was a construct of his imagination or not. He quickly derived at a conclusion; what had just happened was reality. He violently shook his head, still questioning the sheer magnitude of it all, 'So, are you done?' The booming voice of Kurama shocked Naruto, causing him to suddenly jump to his feet, 'I'll take that as a yes.' The garden abruptly transformed into Kurama's lair, forcing Naruto to allow his eyes to adjust to the overpowering darkness.

"So, I assume you listened to our conversation?"

"Hmph, not even close! I allowed you your privacy; it was the least I could do, given that you haven't met your parents prior to that encounter." Kurama replied. Naruto began to see through the darkness. He noticed Kurama in his usual position, lying across the floor with his arms folded under his chin, "So what did you talk about?" Kurama asked, as he opened one eye in anticipation.

"I don't want to talk about it… I still can't believe it was real… that it really happened…" Naruto exclaimed.

"Well you better believe it Naruto-boy; what just happened was real, and there's no way to deny it." Kurama briefly replied. He yawned to himself, refusing to move his hand to cover his mouth, "So then, are you still as determined as ever to control my power?" Kurama asked, declined the idea of moving himself, still lying down on the cold and harsh floor.

"I…" Naruto struggled to find the words to finish his sentence. He was trapped in a blanket of shock and disbelief. He tapped his foot against the floor several times, allowing him to collect his nerves, "Yes, I still want to control your powers." Naruto ceased his tapping, and slowly marched towards the cage.

He stopped almost inches from the cage, and began levitating to reach the seal on the cage, "Hmph, even after that encounter, you're still as bold as ever." Kurama hissed gently, still neglecting to rise from his current position.

Naruto placed his hand carefully upon the delicate seal, "Before I do anything, I have a question." Kurama groaned, knowing Naruto was just delaying the inevitable, "Kisame spoke of something I may encounter while…" Naruto lost his trail of thought, causing Kurama to sigh in confusion, "Anyway, Kisame said I may encounter something called my 'Dark Self'. What does that mean exactly?"

"Your 'Dark Self'." Kurama chuckled silently to himself, "Yes, that would be the case… if you had a Dark Self of course."

"So, you're saying I don't have one?"

"I never said that." Kurama replied, "To face your Dark Self, you must be at the Waterfall of Truth, and I'm sure we're not in that location." Kurama again chuckled to himself, "You just 'skipped' the step of defeating your Dark Self."

"You're being a little too vague, don't you think?" Naruto sarcastically asked, "So, I still have to confront my Dark Self then?"

"It would make controlling my powers easier, but apart from that, there is no real concern, unless of course the darkness builds up inside you, and ultimately consumes you."

Naruto took several breaths in light of this new information. He gently peeled the seal from the cage, allowing the cage doors to violently swing open. Naruto leaped back from the metal doors as they clanged against the brick walls. Several moments of silence passed, stunning Naruto, "Are you not going to attack me?" Naruto asked in his confused state.

"No." Kurama replied simply, still refusing to move. Another brief moment of silence swept across the room, "I'm not going to stop you from controlling my power. In fact, I want you to control my power… and I want to help you in doing this." Kurama explained the truth very simply.

Naruto guffawed noisily at Kurama's sudden outburst, "You want to help me control you?!" Naruto screeched, thinking that Kurama was only lying, "How foolish do you think I am?"

"I don't think you're foolish Naruto-boy. I want to help you in your mission, and this is the only way I can do it."

"And why are you so determined to help me?"

Kurama slowly rose from his current position, and stood on all fours, his sharp claws scratching against the floor, causing Naruto to clench his teeth, "Because of what I've seen you do."

"You're all about being extremely vague today, aren't you Kurama?" Naruto sardonically replied.

"Before your father died, when I brought chaos upon Konoha, there was a certain man… a man of incalculable strength."

"Uchiha Madara?" Naruto questioned, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Precisely. He had complete control over me; he forced me to attack Konoha, something I did not wish to do. Your father, Namikaze Minato, managed to sever the tie that Madara had with me, allowing me to regain control over myself. I never did thank him for that."

"Hmph, you expect me to believe you all of a sudden?" Naruto barked in a severely coarse tone, "Why are you telling me this anyway? You're just avoiding my question, aren't you?"

"Just keep quite." Kurama hissed. Naruto frowned at Kurama's unexpected alteration in attitude, "When your father sealed me inside of you, it killed him and your mother. I'm sure you already know this?" Naruto nodded, "Before he passed away, your father had one request for me, a request I've been abiding by ever since I could."

"A request? To make my life miserable? Because you've done that exceptionally well." Naruto whispered.

"His wish was simple; to protect you with all of my power."

Naruto froze in place, stunned at the information that he had just received. Several minutes of silence swept across the domain of the Nine Tails, "So all those times you've aided me, healed me, and gave me your chakra, that was all to protect me?"

The Kyuubi chuckled lightly to himself, "Exactly; everything I've done - regardless of how others may perceive them – has all been for you. And now, the only way I can help you is if I willingly give you full control of my powers."

Naruto silently chuckled to himself, "So you wouldn't have done all of those things had it not been for my father?"

"No, not at first anyway." Naruto raised an eyebrow in confusion, before sheepishly scratching his left cheek, "Even when your father had asked me to protect you, I was… reluctant at first. It took me a while – 4 years to be precise – before I wanted to protect you; you, how should I say, grew on me." Kurama smiled once he caught glimpse of Naruto's surprised expression, "What's wrong? You don't believe me?"

"No, it's not that… it's just that… all this time, I thought – I believed – that you were pure evil, and that you weren't capable of compassion or even trust."

"Hmph, even a powerful and intelligent individual such as you can be easily blinded by the actuality of certain events. You're not like my other 'containers'. Naruto-boy, you deeply care for others. I know this because I've seen it in your actions. That Hinata girl, you're fond of her, aren't you?" Naruto blushed profoundly, the red blood dancing around his soft cheeks, but remained silent, "I digress. The other Jinchuriki's that acted as my vessels were cold-hearted individuals, who wanted nothing more than to watch me perish. Your mother was the exception. Maybe the trait of kindness is present in the Uzumaki clan. You, on the other hand, were always kind, even when others shunned you out because of me. You even retained that some of that kindness in regards to me, something not one of my previous vessels even contemplated."

"So what are you trying to say?"

"You know exactly what I'm saying Naruto-boy." Another brief moment of silence passed, "So then, you know what happens next?"

"No, I don't; I'm still a bit mystified at what it is you truly want…"

"I want to give you control over my power, and then I want to train you so that you can utilise this newly acquired power to its full potential."

"Is that what you truly want?"

"It is. And you and I both know it's what you want."

Naruto took several minutes to ponder and consider the options before him, "If I agree to this," He began, carefully choosing his next words, "How do I know you won't try something malicious?"

"Because you know I won't do that, Naruto-boy. You've been with m long enough. If I really wanted to hurt you in anyway, I would have done it years ago, when you were more vulnerable and naïve."

Naruto slowly breathed all the oxygen he could hold in his lungs, before exhaling forcing. He tapped his fingertips against the side of his leg, "Okay." He whispered, "Okay." He repeated, increasing his volume. He gently nodded his head, "I'll take your power."

"Are you sure you can handle it? I will be injecting a significant amount of power within you. Even Uchiha Madara struggled controlling the power I hold."

"I… I'm ready. Go, Kurama."

Kurama sighed quietly, before releasing a stream of bloodshot chakra from his body. Naruto gulped, knowing the next few minutes weren't going to be pleasant. The chakra began moving, as if it had a life of its own. It darted towards Naruto, engulfing his entire being. The chakra pierced through Naruto's soft belly, forcing Naruto to scream and grimace with agony. The lengthy torrent of chakra continued to seep from Kurama, finding its way into Naruto, producing more shrikes of anguish from Naruto's vocal chords. Unexpectedly, the stream of chakra ceased, causing both Kurama and Naruto to collapse to the floor in overwhelming exhaustion; their breaths were shallow and forced, as they attempted to refill the oxygen in their lungs. Naruto gasped several times, before staring directly at Kurama, "Wh-w-what the fuck just happened?" Naruto struggled to say, his voice barely above a whisper. Again, he gasped for air.

"I have just given you all of my power." Kurama replied simply, as a significant amount of pain raced around his body, "I am weak right now. Giving you my power was no easy task, and neither was receiving it. You have done well Naruto-boy." Naruto ignored Kurama's compliment, and continued panting for air, "Like I said, even Uchiha Madara struggled to receive this power."

At that moment, Naruto could feel something was different. He rose to his feet, amazed at how light he felt. He looked at his hands, and noticed a bright-yellow blanket of chakra engulfing them. He studied the remainder of his body, and perceived an identical blanket of chakra consuming the rest of his body. The blanket of chakra danced around Naruto's skin, looking something akin to fire, "Kurama…" Naruto whispered, still studying himself, "What the… what is going on? What's all this chakra around me?" Kurama chuckled to himself, still too weak to do anything, "This… this is awesome!" Naruto screeched, forming a Rasengan in his right palm. The Rasengan come to life in a matter of seconds. Naruto then formed another Rasengan in his left palm and enlarged them both. He then surrounded the Rasengan's with a casing of Wind, causing Kurama to smile in an impressed manner. Naruto formed this new Jutsu in less than 3 seconds, sending a chill of pride and excitement throughout Naruto's body, "Wow…" Where the only words that Naruto could form, before abruptly dismissing his Jutsu.

"Not even 20 seconds and you've already done something…" Kurama whispered, a sense of pride embedded within his voice, "So, what are you going to call that Jutsu; it looked like it would be a threat to any Ninja foolish enough to stand in your way."

Naruto began darting across the room with blinding speed. He dashed to the other end of the room and back in under a second, almost coming close to the speed of his father, "If I can combine it with this speed…" Naruto murmured to himself, as he again rushed around the room with extraordinary haste. He again traversed the room in less than a second. He formed two giant Rasengan's in either hand with ease, before infusing one with Wind and the other with Fire. He created a shadow-clone of himself, "Go to the other side of the room, and be ready for this." Naruto told his clone. The clone nodded, before running off. The clone come to an abrupt stop and waved to Naruto, signalling that he was ready. Naruto became a blur of yellow in the clone's eyes; the clone was unable to keep up with Naruto's astonishing pace. Naruto appeared in front of the clone in a split second, and rammed both Rasengan's towards the clone's body. Naruto's bewildering speed meant that the clone was unable to anticipate the attack, permitting the devastating attack to connect with the clone's defenceless self. The Wind and Fire clashed with one another, inevitably causing an even more overwhelming attack to take place; the Wind Element allowed the Fire Element to grow in both strength and magnitude, essentially devastating the clone with ease. Naruto chuckled to himself once the smoke cleared; behind the smoke stood nothingness.

"Naruto-boy, your strength has grown beyond my expectations." Kurama gently spoke. Naruto quickly sheathed the golden chakra surrounding his body before turning to face Kurama, "But you won't be able to master my power with just clones." Naruto chuckled, but otherwise kept silent, "We must train sooner rather than later Naruto-boy."

"Before we do anything like that," Naruto interrupted Kurama with as little rudeness as he could muster. He walked towards Kurama, and stopped just metres away from him, "I want to thank you for everything you've done for me." Kurama could feel himself blush slightly, and so hid his face from Naruto's vision.

"Hmph, now all of a sudden you're thanking me? Almost 2 months ago you despised of me."

"Nani, why can't you just take a simple 'thank you'?!" Naruto screeched. At that moment, Kurama raised a fist and gently placed it in front of Naruto's face. Naruto drew a puzzled expression across his face, "What the…"

"It's a show of respect between us Tailed Beasts. We only fist-bump those who we respect to the full extent."

"So in other words, you've never done this before, have you?" Naruto giggled to himself once he caught a glimpse of Kurama's infuriated face.

"Baka, don't make such foolish remarks like that!" Kurama then chuckled to himself once the soothing sound of Naruto's laughs raced past his ears.

Naruto slowly lifted his fist to the air, and gently tapped it against Kurama's fist. Both Naruto and Kurama smiled with overwhelming joy.

T-T

The warmth of the sun enlightened Hinata, allowing her to calm down. She slowly looked around, and noticed several villagers stop and stare at her, a worried expression on each of their faces; Hinata had forgotten to replace her blood-drenched clothes, letting the villagers see the torment she had been put through. She shrugged, not caring what the villagers thought, and made her way towards the Hokage's office. She decided the easiest and quickest route to the Hokage's office was the main street of Konoha. Hinata walked towards the busy streets.

It took Hinata several minutes to find her way to the main street of Konoha. She knew it was the most direct route to the Hokage's office, and decided the risk of the villagers seeing her blood-soaked clothes were far inferior to the information she had to share with the Elders. She continued onwards, slowly marching her way past the many villagers in her way, evading any chance of starting a conversation with anyone. Hinata continued walking, and noticed in the distance a certain individual who always seemed to follower her, "Hai, Hinata-chan!" The figure screeched, piercing Hinata's delicate eardrums.

"Ano, Ino-chan. What is it?" Hinata spoke quickly, her patience running extremely thin; she didn't want to converse with anyone, especially anyone in the Rookie 8.

"Wow Hinata, what's with all the blood? What happened to you?" Ino noticed that Hinata's facial expression changed, and decided it would be best to leave such questions out of their conversation, "Eh, never mind; what happens in your time is none of my business, right?" Ino quickly questioned, plastering a fake-smile across her face in the process.

'Of course it's my own business...' Hinata bitterly thought to herself. She took a deep breath in an attempt to cool her temper down, "So Ino-chan, what is it? I'm kind of in a rush." Hinata winced silently at the throbbing pain still present in her ribs. She slowly raised her left hand and gently clutched her broken ribs.

Ino dispelled her smile at a moment's notice, "I need to talk with you in regards to the… 'discussion' you had with Sakura and Kiba." Ino's voice instantaneously took on a serious quality, as if this conversation held the very fate of the world in balance.

Hinata sighed with disbelief. She had hoped to never speak about this topic again, at least not with anyone who wasn't the Elders, "We shouldn't do this here then." Hinata shakily replied, her temper subsiding instantly; fear began to creep into the depths of her emotions.

Ino gestured towards a narrow alleyway on the other side of the street, "Nobody uses that alleyway. It's a perfect place to talk." Ino turned her head to the side as to connect her vision with Hinata's sleek figure, "What are you waiting for?" Ino remarked in a sombre tone.

Hinata nodded erratically, before painfully strolling behind Ino. Hinata looked around rapidly, looking out for anything out of the ordinary. She silently activated her Byakugan, but couldn't see any other chakra signals besides hers and Ino's. The pair crossed the street in a matter of seconds, dodging and waving past various villagers on their way. Ino looked over her shoulder and also looked on both sides, as to be sure nobody was watching. Once she was certain it was just Hinata and herself, she entered the gloomy and narrow alleyway. Hinata stayed glued to the entrance of the alley, frozen by fear and worry. Ino turned around to face Hinata, and quickly signalled for Hinata to follow her lead. Hinata gulped, knowing Ino wanted to do more than just 'talk'. She reluctantly strolled into the alley, while still carefully grasping her ribs, "Ano, Ino-chan, can't we speak here?" Hinata whispered once she caught up to Ino.

"No, we'll walk until we reach the middle of the alley. We'll talk once we get there." Ino replied in an almost emotionless tone.

Hinata again gulped, her many thoughts frightening her, "W-who's waiting for us up ahead?" Hinata asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

Ino turned her head but continued walking. She allowed herself a small smile before replying to Hinata's question, "It's just us two. The Hokage requested me specifically to talk with you; nobody else will be there." Ino tore her vision from Hinata and looked straight ahead.

Hinata rapidly looked over her shoulder every now and again, her worry eating away at her, hastily gnawing at her. She began to feel her heart beat wilder than usual; her breaths increased in speed and depth; she felt trapped, her horror driving her into a corner of darkness. Hinata was frightened. She was petrified of what Ino going to say, – or most likely do – she was scared of her father, but mostly, she was scared of the Hokage and his plans of corruption. Hinata had allowed her fear to build up inside her for so many years, her fear only increasing in strength and never faltering. Hinata told herself every day that she would so something about her fears, but she was always too afraid to do anything. Hinata decided today would be the day she confronted her fears, "Ino-chan…" Hinata whispered. She shook her head, ashamed at how much fear saturated her voice, "Ino-chan…" Hinata whispered once again, louder than she did before, "Ino-chan." Hinata succeeded to speak in her regular volume, but it was still to no avail, "Ino-chan!" Hinata managed to screech, metaphorically pushing her fear to one side as she did. Ino slightly jumped in surprise, shocked at the sudden explosion of volume. Ino slowly spun around to face Hinata, a cold and unaffectionate expression plastered across her face, "Ino-chan, w-w-what do you want w-with me?" Hinata could feel her ever-present fear returning gradually but assuredly, "I-if you've taken me all the way here to have me k-k-killed, then…" Hinata began losing her voice to the omnipresent terror running rampant in her emotions. She opened her mouth once more, but was unable to find speak.

"I'm not going to kill you, Hinata. I just need to explain to you he gravity of the situation, and I need to ask you to take on a mission." Ino quickly explained. She looked around, and noticed a pristine bench out of the corner of her eye. She elegantly perched on the comfortable wooden bench, gesturing for Hinata to sit beside her, "Now," Ino began as Hinata gently lowered herself onto the seat, "You understand how important it is that we keep this conversation, and any conversation you've had prior to this one, to yourself; you are not to tell a soul what I'm about to tell you." Ino solemnly clarified. Hinata precariously nodded her head, her nerves running extremely thin, "Good. Now then, the Hokage has asked me to inform you that we war running with the plan to purify Konoh-"

"Ano," Hinata quickly interrupted, "Who's 'we'? You, Sakura, Kiba and the H-Hokage?" Hinata quietly asked.

"There's more of us than that," Ino gleefully answered, earning her a confused expression from Hinata, "The entire Rookie 9, or 8 since Sasuke left Konoha." Ino shrugged to herself. Hinata felt her jaw fall several inches once she learned of the individuals who were helping the Sixth, "Don't worry," Ino began, "I meant to say the Rookie 7; Naruto doesn't even know any of this is happening." Ino smiled at Hinata, as if she had just read her mind. The intense feeling of relief raced throughout Hinata's delicate body, "The Hokage knows that Kakashi and the Elders have their questions and assumptions that he murdered the Fifth; he has that kind of perception." Ino stated coldly, sending a chilling shudder down Hinata's spine, "He's planning on killing them as well; they can't be allowed to ruin anything." Ino hissed quietly.

"B-but, maybe the Sixth is wrong! Maybe Kakashi-sama and the Elders don't know anything!" Hinata whispered forcefully, matching Ino's volume.

Ino guffawed silently to herself, before slowly shaking her head, "No, we can't allow them to live; it's too much of a risk if they're alive."

"But they're just assumptions." Hinata quickly challenged, "None of the other Ninja's will listen to them if they can't provide proof for their accusations." Hinata pleaded, hoping Ino would change her mind.

Ino pondered silently for several moments before violently shaking her head in disagreement to Hinata, "No, no. The Hokage would kill us as well if I even mentioned what you just suggested; do you realise how foolish it is to disagree with the Hokage? Do you even know who he is?" Hinata sat still for several seconds, before slowly shaking her head, "Of course you don't. Nobody but me does." Ino whispered bitterly to herself.

Hinata steadied her breathing in preparation for the next few questions, "Who is the Hokage; nobody has ever seen him, and when they do, he always covers his face with a distinctive mask." Hinata pressed more and more for an answer. Ino refused to acknowledge Hinata's futile questions, "Ino-chan, you have to tell me!"

"NO!" Ino screeched, forcing Hinata to jump to her feet in shock, "If I tell you, it will ruin the entire plan. When the Hokage is ready to tell you his true identity, he will tell you." Ino concluded. Hinata allowed her heart to return to its usual beating speed before returning to the bench, "All I can tell you is that the Rookie 8 – excluding Naruto – know about the plan to cleanse Konoha."

'More like demolish.' Hinata thought to herself.

"And that the Hokage is planning on slaughtering Kakashi and the Elders before they obtain any form of proof." Hinata nodded in retaliation to Ino's clarification, "Then there's the matter of the mission the Hokage has assigned you to complete." Ino remarked quietly.

"Mission?" Hinata questioned out-loud, "What mission Ino-chan?" Hinata directed her confusion towards Ino.

Ino gave Hinata a glance of pure menace and delight, "The Hokage wants you to eliminate any and all threats to our cause, starting with Uzumaki Naruto." Several minutes of silence passed by with Hinata traumatised at what she had just heard; ending the life of the very person she holds dear in this world. Several tears began falling from her enlarged pupils. She ignored the tears as they slithered down her cheeks, refusing to wipe away the salty residue that remained on her soft cheeks once the teardrops crashed to the floor, "Hinata, you can't let emotions cloud your judgement." Hinata snapped her head towards Ino quickly. Ino's sleek figure engulfed Hinata's blurred vision, as more tears began to spew from Hinata's eyes, "Naruto is a danger to us and our cause. You know it as well as the Hokage and I do; he is reckless and unpredictable, and he won't hesitate to protect Konoha; if we tell him of our plan, he will go to the Elders." Ino gravely concluded before gently coughing.

Hinata shook her head slowly in an attempt to drown out the terrifying request, a request that Hinata could never fulfil, "No…" Hinata whispered gently.

Ino carefully placed her hand on Hinata's reluctant shoulder, "Hinata, you know you have to; he can't be allowed t-"

"NO!" Hinata shrieked, as she shoved Ino's hand from her shoulder, "I refuse to be a part of this any longer!" Hinata swiftly jumped to her feet. Ino silently and deliberately shook her head, "You can't make me do anything this… this… this malicious." Hinata struggled to find the words, as her rage began to emit from her being.

Hinata scoffed at Ino, before quickly walking away from the bench, "If you walk away now Hinata, I'll be obliged to kill you." Ino's emotionless and severe words forced Hinata to halt her walking. Hinata slowly turned herself to face Ino, before drawing a disgusted expression across her face. Ino giggled quietly, "You can give me all the glaring and hateful looks you want, Hinata-chan," Ino began, as she coolly readjusted her position on the bench, crossing her left leg over her right leg, "But you know I'm speaking nothing but the truth; I will end your life." Ino leaned back on the bench, keeping both her hands on her lap in a triumphant stance. Hinata stared at Ino, revolted by Ino's overwhelming joy; she seemed to take pleasure in Hinata's pain, "So what will it be?" Ino questioned, as she slowly raised her left hand and gestured for Hinata to join her. Hinata looked behind her, and gazed at the exit to the alleyway. She shook her head, knowing full well that Ino would kill – or if not, injure – her. She tore her vision from the exit, and carefully marched back to Ino. Ino smiled at Hinata's obedience, "Now then, onto more… pressing matters." Ino again shifted her position on the bench, reasserting her dominance, "The Hokage would like for you to terminate Uzumaki Naruto, tonight; no sooner, and no later." Ino said in a stern manner, sending a chilling vibe down Hinata's spine, "I trust you can fulfil this request; it would be a shame if a certain member of your family had to… suffer for your mistakes." Ino demonically cackled, before drawing a malevolent grin across her face.

Hinata's eyes began to widen with horror, "You wouldn't dar-"

"I don't think you fully grasp the gravity of this situation; you clearly underestimate the power and influence that the Sixth possess. If you try and evade your duties, there will be severe consequences, and not just to you, but to your family." Ino leaned closer towards Hinata's distressed self. Ino placed her face a few inches away from Hinata's, "How is Hanabi doing anyway?" Hinata's jaw plummeted several centimetres, shocked at Ino's bold and merciless question. Hinata quickly back away from Ino, creating space between the pair. She then raised an open palm, and forcefully swung it towards Ino's face. Ino anticipated Hinata's attack, and swiftly caught Hinata's fierce blow, tightly clenching Hinata's delicate wrist. Hinata grunted as Ino tensed her grasp on Hinata's wrist, "One way or another, Naruto will be eliminated," Ino began to threaten in a coarse tone, "And if you want yourself and your family to suffer utter torment, then be my guest to disregard the Hokage's appeal. But if you care about yourself and your family, then you will listen to me, and you will slay Naruto." Ino released her crushing clutch from Hinata's wrist. Hinata grasped her throbbing wrist with her other hand, holding it close to her core, "Now, are you going to do it?"

Hinata allowed several moments of silence to pass, before unsteadily nodding her head, "H-h-hai, just don't hurt my family." Hinata pleaded, as numerous tears fell from her shocked and anguished eyes. Ino sighed, expecting their conversation to reach this point, "I… I don't want to hurt N-Naruto-kun…" Hinata quietly whispered to herself.

"You won't be hurting him. If you kill him now, it will be swift and painless." Ino casually concluded, before leaning back on the bench, "If you don't do it, the Hokage will, and it won't be anywhere near as painless as you can make it." Ino noticed a couple were walking down the alleyway, and so decided it would be best to cease the conversation. She abruptly rose from the bench and turned her back to the weeping Hinata, "There's just one more thing you must know that will change your view on joining us." Ino said, as she turned to face Hinata, "I mentioned before that nobody knows who the Hokage really is apart from me. He… requested for me to inform you of his true identity in the hopes that you would consider his proposal to join is." Hinata snivelled, before gently nodding her head. The couple walked past Ino and Hinata, forcing Ino to speak close to a whisper, "Orochimaru." Ino left no time to hear Hinata's reply, and elegantly turned her back once more to Hinata, before darting off towards the exit.

Ino became more and more distant to Hinata, before becoming completely immersed in the shadows of the alleyway. Hinata stayed sitting on the bench for several minutes, confused and overwhelmed by the information she had just received, 'Orochimaru… is the Hokage…?' She thought to herself, as doubt begun to cloud her awareness, 'That can't be; Ino must have bluffed to frighten me into joining them… but what if she's telling me the truth?...' She contemplated for numerous minutes before deriving at a conclusion, 'I won't speak of this to anyone, not even the Elders…' She again thought to herself. She looked around, and noticed the sky was becoming darker with every passing moment. She assumed it was quickly approaching the evening, and towered from her sitting position, her distinctive tears refusing to diminish. She steadily wiped away the tears from her cheeks and from underneath her sore eyes, and began strolling towards the end of the alleyway. She constantly and cautiously looked around, continuously keeping her guard up; she rejected the idea of being startled by another encounter. She reached the end of the alley in less than a few minutes, and carefully looked down both ends of the street. The street was not populated, something that was rare in Konoha. Hinata gulped, knowing the villagers were hiding in their houses, their fear taking control of them, but she hadn't the slightest idea of what was driving their terror. She decided to think nothing of the empty street, and continued her interrupted journey to the Elders; somebody higher-up needed to know what was going on, and the Elders were the only individuals who Hinata knew that would stand up to the Hokage's imminent corruption. She walked down the dark street as the cold air breezed past her, triggering her to shudder as a chilly feeling danced all over her sleek body. Hinata felt a sharp pain throb in her lower chest, and proceeded to clutch the point where the pain protruded with a delicate hand, kneeling and succumbing to the overpowering agony. She looked up, and to her relief noticed the Hokage tower was only moments away. Hinata painfully stood upright, and continued onwards to the tower…

A/N:

Welp, next chapter is up, huzzah!
I am also eternally grateful for all of you that have actually decided to read this; makes me a happy bunny. :D
So yeah, next chapter will be up soon I guess. That's all folks.
Really delayed update, sorry, just going through some tough times in life, but I shall right for you guys, because you guys are awesome as Hell!