I do not Own Naruto

Chapter 4: Death mask

x-x

Running back to his apartment building, Naruto suddenly had a thought. 'What the heck is community service?' he wondered but pushed it aside in favor of getting back to his apartment and trying to retrieve the mask. Thinking back to when he encountered the ANBU, he remembered the mailbox number that he had put the mask in.

Coming to his apartment building, he glanced at the box, finding it closed, and proceeded up the staircase. 'I don't remember who lives in apartment number 7,' he realized as he hadn't formally met any of his neighbors, only encountering a handful of them on select occasions while using the apartment staircase.

During those occurrences, few words were exchanged and of those words, nothing even remotely resembling names were exchanged. It was mostly dirty looks on the part of the other tenants in the building along with mutterings once he had passed them. Coming to the stairs, Naruto ran up them as fast as his feet would take him. Up two two flights, he made it to the third floor and opened his apartment door with his key.

Going to one of his hiding places, he removed the lock pick that he had found while still in the orphanage. It wasn't from any kind of kit or set but was something that had been made from some pieces of metal that had been bent. Despite it's rudimentary construction, it served him well several times in his short life. Remembering to get the key for his own mailbox, he ran back downstairs.

Skipping his own mailbox for later, he went up to the number 7 door. Naruto was about to insert his lock picking device when a voice from nearby caused him to freeze. "What exactly do you think that you're doing?"

Turning slowly from his stationary position, Naruto found that a masked ninja was standing about ten feet away and looking directly at him. The male ninja had his arms crossed with unreadable features underneath a mask that Naruto identified as that of a boar. Getting over his surprise of being caught, Naruto quickly tried to come up with an excuse for what he was doing as he realized that trying to break into someone's mailbox was not something he wanted to go see the Hokage about.

"I lost the key and the landlord won't give me a new one." he quickly said and waited to see if the ninja would buy his excuse.

"And your mailbox is number 7?" asked the masked ANBU and Naruto laughed nervously, looking at the mailbox he was currently trying to break into and then glancing down six mailboxes to his own which was at the very end of the line.

"Oh!.." Naruto said and tried to play it off as a mistake, "...I forgot that I was number 13. Hehehe, lucky 13." he said with a fake smile and the ANBU sweat-dropped.

'This kid sucks at lying.' the masked ninja thought and decided that he didn't want to take the trouble to report it. Walking forward, he stopped when he was a few steps from Naruto and bent down. Naruto flinched slightly but the ANBU didn't touch him, merely snatched the lock pick that he had in his hands.

Motioning for them to move to the correct mailbox, the pair walked five feet down the line and stopped at number 13. Taking the confiscated pick, the boar-masked ANBU effortlessly picked the lock on the mailbox and stepped to the side with his back to the other mailboxes and swung the door towards him which preventing him from seeing the contents of the mailbox.

Naruto looked over to the contents and saw his stipend letter which surprised him but what really threw him for a loop is what was sitting on top of the letter. 'My mask?!' he thought in shock but quickly remembered his situation and tried best to school his features and keep the ANBU from looking into his mail.

The masked ninja saw the surprise and fast concealment. Wondering what would cause such a reaction, he began to peer over the open mailbox door.

"THANK YOU!" Naruto practically screamed the the ANBU jumped slightly at the decibel level that the boy's voice had reached. With his attention turned back to the blonde child, he noted nervousness and thought to himself, 'Does he ever thank anybody for anything? Something's up.'

Scrutinizing the boy for a moment to see if he would reveal anything further to explain the strange actions, a short silence commenced between the two. Seconds passed until Naruto decided to break the silence and said, "You can go now...right?...Crisis averted and everything. I'm sure you have some important business to attend to. Protecting the village and all."

'Even more suspicious.' thought the ANBU and he knew that he did have to get back to his current mission, however that mission was to monitor the boy in front of him for the next few days. Deciding that the current exchange wasn't getting anywhere and perhaps it might be best to take a step back and continue monitoring unseen, the man held up the picks and said, "I'm confiscating these. You don't have anymore sets, do you?"

"No. Those were my only ones and thank you for confiscating them so I won't be tempted to get into anymore trouble." admitted Naruto with a very large smile that caused his eyes to squint slightly. Another moment of silence passed as the two continued to stare at one another

'Leave!' Naruto kept thinking over and over in his head as he continued to smile at the masked ninja. He couldn't get the mask out of the mailbox without it being seen and he needed the man to vacate the area before he could do that.

Raising an unseen eyebrow at the statement, the ANBU stayed where he was as he processed the scene before him. 'Polite and compliant.' he commented and knew that those were two things that Uzumaki Naruto was not known for being. 'What the hell is he hiding?'

Deciding that perhaps he should trick the boy, the ANBU said, "Don't let me hear about you breaking into anyone's mailbox or mail going missing for this apartment and any other apartment in the area." Giving the boy a stern look, Naruto proceeded to a fake an apologetic look and innocently responded with, "I promise. I will never try to go into another person's mailbox ever again. And thank you for setting me straight. I must say that myself and the entire village is grateful for your service."

The ANBU just stared at him and thought, 'Every bit of training and intuition that I have is telling me that something serious is happening right now and it involves these mailboxes. I should just grab him and take him directly to interrogation. Let Morino-san sort it out.'

'Go away!' Naruto thought while keeping up the innocent look of a small fake-sincere smile.

Deciding it would be best to just cut to the chase the ANBU asked, "What are you trying to hide..." but before he could even finish the sentence, Naruto had lunged forward and slapped the door with his hand, causing it to slam shut with a loud clang and lock itself.

Looking between the mailbox and the boy, the ANBU knew that he had stumbled on to something big and taking the lock pick, moved to open the mailbox and reveal whatever it was that the boy was hiding.

Panicking, Naruto tried to figure out a way to change the situation around and get the ANBU to leave him alone. He learned a new phrase earlier that day that seemed to put everyone on edge and cause complete chaos. Looking straight at the ANBU, he said in a firm voice, "This is sexual harassment."

The ANBU stopped in his tracks, nearly dropping the pick and looked back to the blonde, asking in disbelief, "Who the hell taught you something like that!?"

"I'll file a complaint with the Hokage." threatened Naruto as he realized that whatever he had said was working and the ANBU might be forced to leave him alone.

"About what?!" responded the ANBU with loud disbelief and shock that was uncommon for the groups normal persona. He couldn't figure out what was going on.

"You groped my breast." said Naruto innocently as he looked down and put his left hand to his chest.

"WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THIS FROM!?" yelled the ANBU and he looked around in a panic and made sure no one else was watching the exchange.

Back to their standoff, Naruto tried but failed to think of something else to follow that up with. The masked ninja had not left left and he was out of ideas.

'Screw the lock-pick.' thought the ANBU as he tossed the small piece of metal and pulled out a kunai. Stabbing the tool into the edge of the box, he began forcing it open. Something was in the mailbox and he needed to get his hands on it before the situation completely spiraled out of control and someone came. Before he could get proper leverage with the kunai, a heavy weight crashed into his leg.

Looking down, he found the blonde had tried to tackle him and was latched onto his leg.

x-x

Coming to the apartment building he was after, Gai proceeded to the main entrance to the building. He could have just ran up the side of the building to got to the third floor with a few jumps but decided to take the stairs as part of his training.

Right before he entered the building, he heard a strange shout.

"Let go my leg!"

Curious at the outburst, he peeked around the corner to find the small apartment lobby. In it were two individuals that appeared to be fighting over a mailbox. He recognized one as an ANBU and the other as the boy he sought to challenge. He blinked at the strange sight and tried to figure out what was going on.

"STAY OUT OF MY MAILBOX!"

'A crime in progress?' Gai thought as he heard the boy's shout and tried to analyze the situation, 'Why would an ANBU try to break into the boy's mailbox?' Deciding that it didn't matter the exact reason and that the situation required action, not thought, he prepared himself and would get everything sorted out later.

x-x

As Naruto struggled with the ANBU, who had nearly ripped the mailbox door off it's hinges, a shout made both ninja and boy stop to look.

"DYNAMIC ENTRY!" shouted a green blur. A foot struck the ANBU in the face before the man could react.

Naruto found himself on the floor a moment later and looked around to find the green guy from earlier that day standing very proud of himself and striking a pose. Looking for the ANBU, he found the man laid out on the ground at least ten to fifteen feet away from him.

'He sent that guy flying!' the blonde realized and he got to his feet before taking a few steps closer to the man in green.

Taking notice of the unhurt child, Gai gave a bid smile and proclaimed, "Never fear, Maito Gai is here!"

'How does that sentence work, his eyebrows scare me.' Naruto thought and began thinking of something to say to the person that had just helped him. "Um...thanks, I guess." replied Naruto as he looked upon the man was looking right back at him and giving a thumbs up. When the man smiled, his tooth pinged and sparkled which was bright enough to cause Naruto to look away. The man then moved past and went to pick up the unconscious ANBU.

'That was super cool, but he is super creepy.' concluded Naruto and he fished out the key to his mailbox from his short's pocket. Moving to number 13 while the green ninja put the ANBU over his shoulder, Naruto unlocked it and pried the mangled door open. He then smiled slightly at the fact that the mask was still inside and untouched.

"One last thing before I leave and take this man to the Hokage." stated Gai while turning around and looking completely serious.

Naruto jumped slightly and thought 'Oh come on!' He was almost there and nearly had the mask back in his possession.

"Will you continue our unfinished race from the other day?" asked the man with a hopeful look on his face. It wasn't often that he found anyone in the village willing to compete with him on anything and he had to beg Kakashi for weeks before his fellow ninja would even agree to a single contest.

Wanting to get the green spandex wearing man out of the picture, Naruto reluctantly decided that he should just agree to it, "Sure, why not. You'll leave if I say yes, right?"

"YOSH! Then I will meet you here at 6:00 AM tomorrow morning to settle the competition." and with that statement said, the man jumped to a nearby building and Naruto quickly lost sight of him.

"6:00 AM!?" Naruto realized out loud as he gawked at the ungodly hour that the man wanted to race against him. There was also no rescheduling as the green man was gone in a hurry and Naruto had no idea where to find him.

'Why was he going to such lengths to keep the mask a secret?' Was a thought that started to bug him at that particular moment. It was a nice mask but was it worth the trouble if he got caught having stolen it. Maybe it was just typical for him, after all his life did seem different or more complicated than most other children in the village.

"The things I go through. Now I have to get up early tomorrow." he said out loud with a heavy sigh while pulling out his mail and the mask. With the coast clear, he proceeded to force the mailbox door shut again and then ran up the staircase to the first floor. Reaching the top, he stopped before ascending the next set of stairs to his floor and wondered how the mask had made it's way from the number 7 mailbox to number 13.

Looking down the hall, he found the number 7 apartment door was rather close to the staircase and wondered if the person who lived there had helped him. 'It's more likely that the mask just moved by itself.' he thought and began laughing at the joke before going up the stairs.

x-x

Looking through the peephole on his apartment door, Saitoma tried to figure out what was happening on the first floor. He wasn't about to leave the safety of his apartment and actually go find out but tried to get some idea from the muffled shouts.

The shouting soon died down and he was left with a strong urge to go down and find out what had happened and if his building had been damaged in anyway. The temptation was soon lifted however as he spotted a shadow on the stairs and heard footfalls coming up the staircase from the first floor of the building. He recognized the Kyuubi brat instantly and when the boy stopped before ascending the next stair, he saw the mask in the boy's hands.

Eying the object with much apprehension, the man had to hold his hand over his mouth to keep from letting out an exclamation when the boy looked directly at his apartment. 'Does he know that I'm watching him?' he thought and leaned back slightly from the peephole. However, something made him lean back in to see what would happen next.

Moving his head to get a better view out the peephole, Saitoma's blood ran cold when the Kyuubi Brat started laughing. Though most would say it was innocent laughter, in Saitoma's mind it was demonic in origin. Though hours earlier he thought the might be going to hell, he now had a different thought concerning his decision to put the mask in the boy's mailbox, 'What have I done? Have I made him stronger?'

The laughter continued but was eventually drown out when the boy reached the third floor. Stepping back from the peephole and door as if it was burned him, Saitoma tried to calm himself but soon noticed that the door he had been hiding behind had been unlocked the entire time. With shaking hands, he turned the lock on the door handle and tried to figure out what to do next about the cursed mask that he had given to the demon child.

'That isn't going to be enough.' he realized as he looked back at the feeble lock on the door. He needed more locks and he if wanted to keep the brat out and protect himself, then he needed to be prepared.

x-x

Dropping the ANBU unceremoniously on the floor of the Hokage's office, the Sandaime gave a small sigh as he really didn't want to have to deal with whatever trouble it was that Maito Gai was bringing to him. It was bad enough what happened earlier that day.

"And why is it that you've seen fit to knock out the guard that I assigned to watch Naruto-kun?" the Sandaime asked of the spandex clad man before him.

Standing at attention, Gai proceeded with his explanation, "Sandaime-sama, I apprehended this unyouthful person trying to break into Uzumaki-san's mailbox."

The Sandaime's left eyebrow rose slightly and he looked to the downed ANBU who was starting to regain consciousness. Thinking he might have an idea what was going on and that the ANBU wasn't at fault, the Sandaime motioned that Gai could leave and he continued working on his paperwork, patiently waiting for his ninja to fully wake up.

A low groaning soon filled the previously quiet office and the ANBU began to get up off the floor.

'What hit me?' thought the man as he checked for any injuries and aside from head and neck pain, he seemed to be alright. 'One of my teeth is loose,' he also noted and then realized where he was. Quickly getting to his feet, the Boar-masked ninja stood at attention and the Hokage put down his pen and asked, "Gai-san informs me that you were trying to break into mailbox number 13 in Naruto-kun's apartment?"

"I-I can explain Hokage-sama..." the ANBU began, thinking he was in a great deal of trouble, "..I caught Uzumaki-san trying to break into another mailbox at his building and when I confronted him, he started acting suspicious and led me to believe that he was hiding something in his own mailbox."

Without responding immediately, the Hokage mulled over the information that his ANBU was telling him. Curiously, he then asked, "Which number mailbox was he trying to get into?"

"..Number 7 I believe, Hokage-sama." quickly responded the ANBU.

'The landlord?' noted the Sandaime as he knew who resided in apartment number 7. He also knew that someone had been taking Naruto's stipend checks for the past few months and now wondered if Naruto suspected that his building's landlord was behind it. 'The man does probably have a second key to the mailboxes. Perhaps Naruto found out and was retaliating?' he reasoned and the guess did make some sense. Realizing that his ANBU was still standing before him and possibly thinking that his career was in jeopardy, the Sandaime decided to explain what he was thinking.

"When you say Naruto-kun was acting suspicious, I'm guessing that he didn't want you to look into his mailbox or wouldn't even let you go near his mail?" inquired the Hokage and his ANBU responded with a nod. "For the past few months, many of his stipend checks from the village have...gone missing. The mailman swears he delivered them but they're gone when Naruto checks for his mail and he has to come here to get another one."

"You've got to be kidding me." blurted out the ANBU and realizing what he said, he looked to the Sandaime but found that the man had a sad smile on his face, as if confirming his statement. "All that to protect a stipend check?" he asked and the Sandaime nodded.

"I'm afraid so. He does have to live off that money." said the Sandaime as he tried to explain some of Naruto's erratic behavior. 'Which seems to be getting more erratic as of late.' he noted to himself. Though he wished he could do something about the missing checks and wondered if the landlord was indeed behind the thefts, the village didn't have the kind of extra manpower where he could investigate or try and catch someone in the act. He was using one of his own personal guard ANBU to look after Naruto for the next few days due to the poisoning scare. If nothing was found within that time then there was little else he could do.

Slightly dejected that nothing was going on with the boy and that he had humiliated himself, as well as gotten knocked out by Maito Gai, the ANBU decided he had better ask one more thing before going back to his assignment, "I'm not in trouble, am I?"

"Is Naruto-kun injured in anyway?" asked the Sandaime in response to the question and when the ANBU shook his head in the negative, the Sandaime said, "Then we'll just overlook this incident."

With a nod, the Boar-masked ANBU proceeded to go out the door before stopping and asking, "One last thing Hokage-sama, who's been teaching him about sexual harassment?"

The Sandaime groaned in response to the question and leaned his head back against the headrest of his desk chair. He really had hoped Naruto would forget about that.

x-x

Locking the door to his apartment behind him, Naruto tossed the stipend check onto his table and proceeded to his bedroom with the mask. Slightly paranoid of anyone looking in, despite being on the third floor, Naruto went around his bedroom and closed the shudders on his windows as well as pulling the drapes shut and closing off the door to his balcony. Once he was sure that no one could see in, he sat on his bed and inspected the mask for what should have been the first time.

The dream he had while at the temple seemed so real and he really wasn't sure what had happened to him. None of the doctors were keen to explain his sudden illness and he had wanted to talk with the Sandaime but due to the complaint hearing, he had forgotten. By the end of the meeting he just wanted to leave.

'I guess it was just from being outside in the rain for so long.' he thought as it did sort of make sense to him and he had made a fast recovery.

Looking over the mask's features and the small ribbon that was used to secure it to the wall peg at the temple, it all seemed like he had inspected it before. Nothing seemed new or any different from his dream. The eyes were not actual eye-holes that could be seen out of, but covered over and painted to look like an eye. Everything was just like it had been in his dream. The mask even felt the same as it had in his dream.

'If it was all a dream, then when did I fall asleep and does that mean that if I try to put the mask on, that all I will feel is pain?' he wondered as the feeling in his dream of putting the mask to his face was not something he could forget. It was definitely the worst pain he had ever experienced in his life, even if it wasn't real.

Debating about trying to put it on, he eventually decided to try it. What was the point in going to all the trouble of stealing it and making sure no one knew about it if he wasn't going to at least put it on once? Since there was no string or elastic band he would just have to hold it up with his hands. Positioning the mask in front of his face, he slowly moved it closer until the masked touched his face. No sooner had the cool material touched his skin than he knew something was wrong. The masked had latched onto his face and he felt incredibly strange as unbeknownst to him, light blue chakra began pouring off him.

Struggling for a few moments and unable to see, Naruto was about to start screaming and began to try and rip off the mask when the tightness of the mask on his face ceased. The darkness of the inside of the mask was then illuminated. Suddenly able to see and breath easier, Naruto started to calm down from his frightened state as he began trying to figure out what was happening. Taking numerous deep breaths, he looked around and instantly recognized that he was still in his room, however things looked slightly different than they had a few moments previously.

His dark bedroom was suddenly lightened and he could see every part of the room, even in the shadows created by shutting all the blinds. Whereas the streams of light coming in through the shudders had been bright, they were now dulled. As he examined his bedroom, the chakra coming off him lessened from it's initial state of release.

Moving his hands to his face, Naruto began feeling for the mask to see if it was still there. After the initial tightness, he could no longer feel it on his face and he also couldn't see the mask. His field of vision was just as it had been before putting the mask on and he couldn't tell that their was anything on his face. Touching his 'face' was a strange experience as his hands felt the cool material of the mask instead of his skin. Closing one eye, Naruto looked at his nose and found that it was pure white and not the normal nose that he was used to seeing.

Focusing on his hands to see if they had somehow changed as well, Naruto found that they too looked slightly different. The creases and texture of his skin on his hands seemed much more pronounced than it had been. He had never really noticed the circular designs on the underside of his finger tips before. Besides the detail he was seeing, Naruto decided that his hands hadn't really changed and his attention moved back to his room.

This time he started focusing on certain objects and areas. He noticed a fine layer of dust starting to build up on the unused upper shelves of his bookcase and he could make out the knots and grain of his wood flooring and shutters better than he ever remembered seeing before. As he moved to the bathroom to see himself in the mirror, an unseen entity also began examining his room.

The Shinigami was pleased that the boy had put the mask back on and decided to remain unseen. Scaring his newly acquired soul and body would not be productive and could cause the boy to never put on the mask again. He would instead be patient. Given how interesting a boy like Naruto would find wearing the mask, he was confident that said boy would continue to use his mask.

After he was done with a quick glance at the bedroom of the apartment that the boy rented, he moved through the outside wall and looked to the hiding ninja that was outside on a rooftop nearby. Waiting a few moments to make sure that Naruto's use of his mask had gone unnoticed, he moved back inside and continued his inspection. Despite owning the boy's soul, the amount of chakra expended by Naruto to keep the possession going remained unchanged. There was a higher initial spike to begin the possession but the amount lessened after that to a steady level of depletion. His own energy would be much harder for any human to detect but he didn't need the boy's chakra to flare up and possibly alert nearby ninja. In time, the chakra required may lessen but he couldn't be sure of that.

Satisfied that Naruto could evade discovery while using the mask while indoors, the Shinigami continued his examination of the boy's apartment. It was interesting to see what foods and drink humans consumed as well as where they slept. 'We neither hunger nor require sleep.' he thought as he looked at the simple spring mattress and peeked his head through the fridge door to see what was inside.

Finished with his examination, he found the dwelling small but functional for a single human. Though not having a house or any kind of dwelling of his own, it was hard to juxtapose with anything that was familiar. Letting himself sink through the floor, he began to investigate the other apartments to see what was similar and what was different. Entering the apartment directly below, he found an elderly individual with over a decade left before her death.

The woman had many cats and he observed a stark difference in apartments. 'More furniture, a different apartment layout and many more material items all over the place.' he noted and proceeded to move on to the next apartment as the animals were starting to sense his presence. Coming to the next apartment after ghosting through the shared wall, the single male occupant seemed to be acting strangely, or at least strangely from what the Shinigami believed to be normal human behavior. The middle-aged man had moved a bureau in front of the front door and was pacing around the apartment muttering many different things, some of which happened to include mentions of Naruto and his mask.

Staying longer than in the previous apartment, the Shinigami contemplated what he should do. 'He isn't a ninja, nor ever was, so the threat level posed by this individual is minimal. Though completely paranoid and afraid, he could still be dangerous.' he thought as he assessed the man's mental stability. After looking above the man's head to the numbers written, the Shinigami moved out of the apartment and headed back to the third floor. 'Perhaps this one won't be an issue after all.'

Easily finding the boy's apartment again, he watched the blonde playing some sort of game in the bedroom while still wearing the mask. Trying to understand the game being played and what the point was turned out to be a fruitless endeavor as he simply could not comprehend what the boy's imagination was concocting.

Letting his thoughts wander, the Shinigami contemplated the future. The soul in front of him was not necessarily ideal for possessing and using. However, while opportunity and future gains were the most prominent motives for his actions, there were however many advantages to choosing Naruto in particular.

The Bijuu sealed inside of the boy created an imbalance. He knew a great deal about chakra and how it was used. Ninja had both yin and yang chakra that mixed together, almost always in equal amounts, with one being related to physical energy and the other spiritual. Naruto was unique because of the sealing. 'The energy inside of him is merely a half and not a whole being.'

With the Kyuubi's yin chakra sealed inside of the boy's father, who was sealed inside of his stomach, that left the yang chakra which had been sealed inside of Naruto. With how the seal worked, Naruto's chakra was mixed with a small amount of filtered chakra from the Kyuubi. This mixing caused an imbalance in the blonde's chakra, with far more yang chakra being present than yin. The Bijuu's chakra was also much more powerful than the boy's and even a small amount was significant.

The situation left a sizable 'gap' in the amount of yin chakra, which could then be filled. What it was being filled with, was a portion of the Shinigami's own spiritual energy that was being fed to the boy through the mask and the possession associated with putting on the mask. Normal possession using the mask was brief and any of his spiritual energy that entered the body of the human wearing the mask was quickly dispersed or returned to him. Naruto was different and with a few alterations to the boy's soul, he could absorb the spiritual energy that was used to sustain the possession.

'The more of my power he absorbs through the possession, the more of an 'anchor' he becomes for me in this realm. At some point I might even be able to physically touch objects or even interact with this world. I may even be able to travel far away from and explore on my own or perhaps even come to this realm without needing him to put on the mask.' he mused and wondered what those experiences might be like.

The only problem or concern that he could currently see was the boy's young age and less than average intelligence. 'However at some point even someone as stupid as him will begin to notice changes. When he does, he'll want answers and be more receptive to my presence. He may even start to notice my presence eventually. Right now he wouldn't even be able to hear my voice, no matter how hard I tried to speak with him.' the Shinigami acknowledged and knew it would unfortunately take time for such a process to progress and he would have to wait.

x-x

With a large smile, Mitarashi Anko waited for the main course to arrive and poured another saucer full of saki from the large bottle that had been brought to the table. Sitting across from her in a very sexy black dress was her longtime friend and the person paying for the meal, Yuuhi Kurenai.

As per the bet, she had picked up her friend at half past seven and Kurenai appeared to be holding up her side of bargain, especially with the dress. Downing another saucer of the clear liquid, Anko was interrupted from pouring another, "Anko, while I have no problem paying for the expensive meal that you ordered..." she said and commented in a slightly lower voice, "...which was the most expensive on the menu..." and then continued in her normal voice, "...I don't think I have enough to pay for the pricy Saki too."

Anko looked up a her friend and gave a large smile before saying in an exuberant voice, "Don't worry Nai-chan! Drinks are on me tonight. Drink up!"

Surprise was evident on Kurenai's face as she wasn't expecting Anko to be so generous. Nodding with a confused look and slight smile on her face, Kurenai took the bottle and poured some into her saucer as well. Watching her friend with a sly smile, Anko signaled the waiter to bring another bottle.

'Poor naïve Nai-chan. She should know better. I'm never generous without an ulterior motive.' the purple-haired kunoichi thought deviously as she poured herself and Kurenai another saucer full. Her plan was relatively simple and thus far, easy to execute.

They had met with the Hokage again that afternoon to reschedule the sexual harassment hearing. The Sandaime had been adamant on getting it over with a soon as possible, as the longer he put off such a complaint hearing, the more time there would be for rumor and the like to circulate throughout the village. Taking care of the problem swiftly and quietly was always better. Even if terrible rumors did circulate about it, having the complaint already dealt with would lessen the impact and make it seem like the whole incident wasn't a very big deal.

As such, despite Asuma's injury, the Sandaime had scheduled the meeting for early the following morning. Anko had agreed to everything and kept her features schooled the entire time. Though it would normally set off warning flags for most people who knew Anko extremely well, the Hokage seemed pleased with Anko's maturity concerning the situation and seeing it quickly resolves. The Sandaime had no idea that he was playing right into her trap. Using the bet with Kurenai, Anko was scheming to get her friend drunk. Even with the food that Kurenai had ordered, Anko drank with her fellow kunoichi enough to know Kurenai's limits and how much alcohol needed to be imbibed in the correct span of time for Kurenai to be drunk enough for a good hangover in the morning.

Anko certainly wasn't out to hurt her friend but with Kurenai as the key witness in her complaint, it was best if the red-eyed kunoichi was a no-show at the scheduled meeting. Aside from kidnapping or entrapping Kurenai, which she had considered and fantasized about, she decided alcohol would be enough.

'Get her drunk, offer to take her home, sabotage her alarm clock...and maybe have some fun with her body.' thought Anko and she couldn't prevent a perverted giggle from escaping her lips as she thought about the plan. 'Poor Nai-chan will miss the meeting entirely which will result in my victory.' she schemed and the giggling turned into full blown maniacal laughter.

"Anko. ANKO!" said Kurenai in a loud voice as she was starting to get annoyed and embarrassed from the looks people were sending her way.

"Huh." was Anko's reply after being pulled from her thoughts and she stopped laughing. "You were laughing hysterically and disturbing everyone around us. What were you thinking about?" Kurenai questioned.

"Oh, sorry about that. I was just so excited about dinner. We should do this more often." Anko lied and finished the sentence with a large innocent smile.

"I can't afford to do this more often and maybe you've had enough to drink." thought Kurenai out loud and Anko, realizing that the situation could turn out of her favor, replied, "Nonsense, Nai-chan. It's good to let go every once in a while. You should try it. Drinks are on me remember?"

Though still quite suspicious of her friends actions and motivation, Kurenai decided to make the best of the situation.

x-x

Staring down upon the sleeping boy, the Shinigami focused his power on the boy's soul and while still asleep, the blonde's hand moved to remove the mask that he had kept on his face and went to bed while wearing.

Doubting that anything interesting would happen and knowing that humans required many hours of sleep each day, the spectral being decided to end the possession. Though wearing the mask at night might speed up the process he was using, it would also mean that he would be trapped in the human realm during the night and possibly that the boy may die again if his chakra ran low enough. Naruto's chakra levels would increase with time so at some point it would be a more feasible option.

As he disappeared from the human realm and traveled back to his own realm, he wondered when the boy would put on the mask again. Hopefully it would be sooner rather than later and perhaps he would be able to view more of the human village known as Konoha.