Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did, I would neither be scrounging up money for university nor be writing this in English. Support the official release, even if the constant zombie ninjas (boy doesn't that sound like an eight year old boy's Halloween costume) put you off the story a little.

Rant: Sorry about taking so long with this. I swear, Chemistry 123 is a conspiracy to steal your soul by having you do endless retarded problems, which slowly take the life and imagination from you. Oh, if you are annoyed at waiting for my stories to come out, here are a few recommendations:

"Déjà Vu no Jutsu" by Vixen Tail

"Inoue Shiore" by Hermionechan90

"Ivory Light" by TheDarkTulip

"Reaching for a Dream" by Noodlehammer

"Naruto's Oblivion" by Diresquirrel

Hope you enjoy them

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

A New Beginning

Suzuran woke up on an unfamiliar back; sleepily confused as to where she was and whom she was with. Blinking her eyes open, she groaned and glanced at the person she was riding on. The man obviously felt her shifting in wakefulness, and so turned his head a bit to glance at her. At seeing his face, the memories of the attack and her decision afterwards for the future rushed back into her mind. Izumo, she remembered that that was his name, lifted an eyebrow and said, "Suzuran-chan, glad to see your up. We've been in Konoha now for a while. Now that you're awake, I'll take you over to T&I, and they'll ask some questions, to get your information and stuff, and we'll have a Yamanaka check out your head to make sure you are all right after seeing the deaths of your guardian and her murderer. Afterwards, if all is well, I'll drop you off at the hospital so they can run a few tests to make sure that your healthy. If you are all good, I'll see about taking you out to dinner at that new Akimichi Barbeque place I was talking to Kotetsu about. How's that sound?"

Suzuran smiled at that. "That sounds awesome! Back at the Village, I only got to eat out if I did the teashop's dishes afterwards. And I've never had barbeque before, what's it like?"
As Izumo made his way towards the Torture and Interrogation building, he began to extoll the virtues of barbeque, especially the Akimichi variety. As it turned out, he had a cousin named Hitomi who was married to an Akimichi, which gave him an occasional pass to enter the land of culinary heaven. It was obviously a topic he enjoyed, so she told him of her favorite sweets – dango. Back at the orphanage she had had a collection of all the sticks of dango she had eaten. With them, she had made – for the most part, anyways, as it still had not been finished before she had left, and most likely never would be now that she no longer lived there – a miniature house with them.

The T&I building was large and intimidating, a brown building with a red roof, sporting menacing iron bars on all of the windows. Otherwise, however, it was just a normal building, or so it appeared. Izumo made his way through the door and up to the receptionists, which Suzuran thought was rather odd, actually. Seriously, was the receptionist like, "Hello, would you prefer the iron maiden today, or the oubliette? We actually have a special for a Scavenger's Daughter and Thumbscrew Combo!" Even though everything looked so normal, visions of toture devices and the sound of maniacal laughter filled her mind. She squeezed Izumo somewhat tighter. Instead of asking which Torture Tour of Terror they would be enjoying today, he just wrote something on a clipboard, as stood there, waiting. The receptionist woman, a blonde haired, blue-eyed lady of a latter age, glanced at the clipboard, looked through a filing cabinet, and then glanced at them. "You'll be in the White Room," she said in a somewhat nasally voice, as if she had a cold, "Inoichi-sama will join you in about five minutes. Have a nice day.

"Thanks, Yamanaka-san," the one-eyed ninja replied, "Come on Suzuran. Off we go."

"Okay," she said as he swiftly wandered through a confusing maze of corridors, up and down odd stairs that seemed to serve no purpose, and through many doorways until he reached a room all in white. It contained within it a white table and four white chairs. After he put her in one of the chairs and was about to take a seat himself, when she put forth hesitantly, "Is it odd that I was expecting more creepy laughter and screaming?"

He blinked, and then gave out a snort. "No. That is the stereotypical concept of what people think when T&I is mentioned."

A few moments later a tall, intimidating blonde man entered the room. He was ruggedly handsome with his disconcerting violet eyes, ripped body, and long corn colored hair. She thought his voice was quite pretty as well, and soothing when he said after taking a seat at her table, "Hello there, miss. My name is Yamanaka Inoichi. What is your name?"
"I'm Suzuran, sir."

At that he filled out some paper work, and did so after every question further.

"How old are you?"
"Six and a half."

"Really now," he asked her in that lovely voice of his, "You looked like you were about seven to me." At that comment she felt the blood rushing to her cheeks in pride and pleasure, and she beamed. "Now," he continued, "When is your birthday?"

"December twelfth."

"Do you know your parents' names?"
"My mum's name was Yuri. I don't know who my father was… she was a whore."

"Do you know what your blood type is?"

"No sir."

The questions went on and on, until finally the paperwork was filled out.

"Okay now," Yamanaka-sama said, "I'm going to take a look in your mind with one of my family's special jutsu, is that okay with you?"

She looked back at him, fidgeting slightly, and then glanced aside before looking at him and asking, somewhat nervously, "Will it hurt, Yamanaka-sama?"

"No, Suzuran-san, it won't. It will just feel a bit strange, is all."
"…Okay then."

He nodded, before performing a handseal and aiming it at her. "Shintenshin no Jutsu," he cried, before collapsing bodily. Only a few moments later, Suzuran felt herself drifting into nothingness.

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

She woke up slowly, her head not hurting, but pressured. It felt almost as if it had the potential for a headache, but was not quite there yet. She stretched, groaning slightly before slowly opening her eyes. Only to see Yamanaka-sama looking down at her, before he asked, "How do you feel, Suzuran-chan?"

Blinking up at him, she replied, "Like someone's squeezing my head, but not hard enough to really hurt it."

"Ah, well, that is to be expected, I've been rummaging about your mind after all. Otherwise, however, do you feel fine?"

"Yes sir."

"Well, you are all clear. Congratulations, you are neither a sleeper agent nor a spy. However, I am going to prescribe that you come back in to talk to one of my family members who is a councilor. Having witnessed such a tragedy at such a young age can have a massive and oftentimes negative effect on a young person's psyche. I'll contact whoever your patron is and set up an appointment, okay?"

"Okay."

Then, the jounin formed a few hand signs and all she could hear was an indistinct murmur. He began to talk to Izumo as she rubbed at her ears in slight irritation at the sound. 'It must be a ninja's jutsu,' she realized, eyes widening in glee at the strange and fascinating power the jounin so casually wielded. After about three minutes the jutsu faded, and the Yamanaka clan head turned to face her. "Thank you for your time, little miss. I hope you enjoy your new home here in Konohagakure no Sato. You and Chunin Izumo-san here need to get to the hospital, now. Don't be late, I here the medic-nin on duty now hates that, so much to the the point that she struck Kakashi in the jaw and knocked him unconscious when he arrived in his usual fashion."

Slightly confused about this Kakashi fellow, but suitably cowed at the threat of violence, she gulped alongside Izumo-san. Then, the two of them made their way through the twists and turns of the torture and Interrogation building.

The two made their way over to the Konoha General Hospital, and enjoyed the sights as they did so. Izumo pointed out points of interest, such as "the grocer over on that street corner has excellent vegetables, and if you go there on Sundays, they tend to be on sale" and "You said you like dango, and if you do, I have heard from a very reliable source that the stuff they sell here is the best in the entire village." It was about fifteen minutes when the two, side by side, arrived at the large hospital. It was covered in metal reinforced windows, was sturdy, and strangely defensible for a hospital – for example, the base was covered in kanji, all arranged around different shapes, which meant it was covered in fuuinjutsu {The Art of Sealing}. She supposed it made sense, with this being a ninja village. Seals were supposed to do all sorts of things, from making barriers, reinforcing buildings, and even affect gravity. She guessed those seals must be to protect the hospital, making it stronger and maybe form a barrier if it were ever attacked. Suzuran wondered as she looked over all the seals, if she could read, would she be able to tell what all the seals did?

After they made their way inside and signed in, the two were deposited in the waiting room. After about fifteen minutes of picking through three to four year old magazines ranging from "Home Cooking Today" to "Kunoichi Monthly: Not That Kind You Perv!" they were called to a room with an odd looking combination of a table and a chair. She was told to sit in it, while Izumo sat in a smaller and slightly padded wooden chair. Seals covered the room and everything in it, and just as she was getting comfortable the medic-nin came in.

She was a medium sized woman in height, with unyielding features and steel gray hair done up in a bun. Her sharp brown eyes looked down at her over a slightly long nose, giving her a vaguely hawk-like visage. She wore white and gray scrubs, like most in-hospital medic-nin – the ones in the field, combat medics, were most often heavily armored and wore their hitae-ate constantly, or so Izumo told her while they'd been waiting to be called to the room – and held a clipboard in her hands.

"My name is Doctor Shirogane," the stern-looking woman said in an equally stern voice, "and I will be your medic today. As you are new to Konohagakure no Sato, you will undergo a physical, be given the standard Konoha inoculations, tested for various illnesses, and a sample of your blood will be kept in case you need to be identified should you ever come to the hospital in an unrecognized condition. My chart here says your name is Suzuran, is that correct."

At the younger girl's nod, she continued forward towards her. Placing a hand on the table the girl was sitting on, burning yellow chakra began to emit from her hand as she channeled the energy into the seals that before then Suzuran had had no idea were there. Kanji and shapes manifested in black, and simultaneously so did what had once appeared to be a huge white canvas on the wall. "The seals placed onto that table that you are sitting on will begin recording your vitals, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. They also are sympathetically linked to the seals on the reader here," she pointed to the canvas as she was speaking, "which will interpret and display the readings letting me keep a constant record of your vitals during your visit here. Now I'm going to take a blood sample."

After her wrist was rubbed with some alcohol, a needle was inserted into her wrist and slowly began so suction away a sample of her blood, which she watched depart her body with a slightly disturbed fascination. After screwing shut the vial containing her blood, she sealed it away into a storage scroll. She then sprayed something that stung onto her wrist where the needle had been inserted, and slapped a Band-Aid onto the small, but still bleeding wound. "I'm going to take this to the techs to analyze this sample for any pathogens, and then have it put in storage. You will come back for the results in two days, do you understand?" At the younger girl's nod, she finished with, "When I return from dropping this off and checking on another patient I'll bring along the inoculations with me."

After the rather intimidating lady left copied some of the readings on the wall scroll, Suzuran turned to Izumo and said dryly, "More needles: oh joy."

He snickered.

[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]

After the woman's return and consequent stabbing of several sharp and pointy objects into Suzuran, followed by another alcohol scrubbing and Band-Aid application, she and Izumo departed for parts unknown – to her at least. She also got a lollipop upon departure – blue raspberry flavored, her favorite – which she enjoyed as they walked. After about twenty minutes of meandering through the city and casual conversation with each other, they arrived at the Akimichi barbeque place. After waiting a bit for Kotetsu to show up, they enjoyed themselves cooking the meat and vegetables themselves. Suzuran wasn't able to do any barbequing herself, as only children ten years of age or older were allowed to cook for themselves. Still she enjoyed watching the flames burn, enjoyed fire's crackling and the sizzling of the meat, and the delectable smells of the cooking pork and beef that had been soaking in a marinade of some sort for hours before their arrival. She liked listening to the two Chunin's bantering, which, though she was not aware of it, was carefully edited of profanity and any village secrets.

Kotetsu spoke of the report he'd been agonizing over writing, his flirting with the paperwork-nin who manned the desk at the Hokage's Tower – apparently she had very pretty blue eyes and an adorable bottom lip that she was always biting when she was thinking – done a D-rank for some cash, and ran in to a kid he knew from the academy, who had been a few years behind him, named Iruka who'd made it to genin and was now on Team Five. He'd hung out with the kid, and given him a few pointers on his shuriken throwing while he was whiling away the hours before they could meet up for dinner.

Izumo spoke of their time with the Yamanaka chief of T & I, and their exploration of the city, and their visit to the doctor. She interjected a few comments, every once in while when Izumo was speaking of their time together, and said that she thought that the fuuinjutsu in the hospital was really cool.

"You like the thought of fuuinjutsu, do you, kid?" Kotetsu's question was laced with interest, as, though she didn't know it, the village didn't have many seal masters or even non-standard seal users, as many considered it to be a dying art since the fall of Uzushiogakure no Sato. While it was considered important, and constantly in use in the form of storage scrolls, explosive notes, and medical fuuinjutsu, other avenues of fuuinjutsu research and use had dried up for the most part with the death of the Fourth Hokage, with the notable exception of Jiraiya-sama. What she also was unaware of was the fact that special skills such as knowledge of fuuinjutsu or summoning often gave the ninja in question who abilities in those areas often came with a boost in pay.

At her nod, the two Chunin glanced at each other. "Well then," the bandaged Chunin said, "If you'd like, we can pick you up a basic calligraphy set on our way to whatever apartment has been designated as yours. We can go do that after we finish eating and go to the Hokage Tower to find out where your quarters are. If you still want to do it in a few weeks, after you have learned some of the basics of reading and writing, we can see about asking your sponsor about finding you a calligraphy teacher."

She squealed in excitement. "Thank you, you guys. It sounds really fun." At that, the two smiled and continued on with their meal. She drank the last of her soda, which was an odd yet tasty mixture of orange and tangerine, and watched as the older ninja kept on eating. She was a bit puzzled by how much they were eating, actually, as it was far more than even most adult men back in her village normally ate, and asked about it. Izumo looked thoughtful for a moment, before answering her, "Ninja have to eat more than civilians. Not only do we have a far more active lifestyle, and thus need to have a higher calorie intake, but chakra usage increase our metabolism to the point where we have to eat three times the amount of food that civilians do just to keep moving."

"Yeah," interjected Kotetsu, "So you shouldn't go on any diets either now or when you older like a lot of civilian women do. Not only should you get enough exercise through training to keep you in shape, but also not taking care of yourself like that can severely limit your chakra pool. If you diet and aren't fit when you are young, it limits your potential later in life."

"Oh. Well, that's pretty cool. Better to know now, I guess."

"Yeah."

As soon as the duo finished eating, they got up and went to the register, where they stood and chatted with the man behind it, who according to his nametag was 'Akimichi Yusuke.' She listened to them talk about how much they liked the food, which she nodded at, grinning. The man broke into deep, sonorous laughter, a smile lighting his face as he thanked her for coming. They also talked about the new Kunai made of metal from past Iwa, and how it was different in weight and balance from what they were used too. Yusuke brought up the possibility of the Akimichi Clan getting their bo staff wood from the Training Ground Forty Four from now on, as they had discovered that wood from the trees there was highly chakra-conductive.

After a few more minutes of chatting, the trio walked out of the restaurant, stomachs full and appetites satiated. All three had a satisfied air about them as they ambled through the cooling air, a breeze caressing their faces as they did so. "Even though we just finished eating," Kotetsu joked, "I swear that the scents from their make me want to go back in and get more."

They all laughed a little at that, but nodded in agreement. After making their way to the Hokage Tower, they got the news of where she would be staying. "It says here that you will be staying in the Summer Meadows Apartment Complex, on the third floor and you are in room 307. Your sponsor is Maito Gai, a jounin of Konoha and a taijutsu specialist. There is a notation in her saying that he does not want to just be monitoring you, and that if you like he would be willing to start teaching you some of the basics."

The two chunin could see her face light up. "Really?"

"Yup. Head's up, though, Gai-san is known to be really tough. It will be really hard, but if you're up to it, he can help prepare you for an excellent career as a kunoichi in the future. Still think you're up to it?"

"You bet."

"Okay," Izumo said, stifling a chuckle (it was, under no possible circumstance a giggle), "Now why don't we head over to the apartment complex and introduce you to Gai. We can pick up that calligraphy set on the way."

After stopping off to pick up the calligraphy set, they took Suzuran to the Summer Meadows Apartment Complex. Upon arriving there, she was promptly introduced to the most eccentric person she had ever met. The sunsets that appeared when he smiled after introducing himself made her clap her hands together and laugh. She never noticed behind her the horrified and traumatized expressions on her chunin escorts' faces. It was good for their dignity that she didn't, however: she would have laughed until her gut ached if she had.