I wish I could shovel out longer chapters but I tend to get impatient with myself.

*Minor edits: Next chapter should be out within the next week.

Disclaimer: Because apparently it's required in every chapter, I do not own Naruto.


Idly, a girl wandered the alleys of Konoha. She had no destination in mind, only waltzing where her feet took her.

'This is stupid', a part of her hissed.

She frowned— and it was really more of a pout. It wasn't her fault that she was on the streets; she wasn't exactly certain if it was still happening, but she knew Orochimaru and Danzō had at some point started snatching children from the orphanage. It was necessary to leave.

'This is frustrating', another voice joined in.

She had to agree. The location of the orphanage was an incredible hindrance to any escape attempts, seeing as it was wedged somewhere between the shinobi and civilian districts. In addition to that, she surmised that the only reason the ANBU hadn't stopped her was that she was hardly the person they were supposed to be watching. Of course, it was wishful thinking to believe they hadn't noticed her experiments with chakra.

She took a seat next to a dumpster and let out a groan.

It was difficult to believe that Danzō hadn't heard about her somehow and that meant she'd have to lay low until she joined the Academy; snatching up a street urchin was a lot easier than taking orphans or students. Laying low implied either not training at all or actually trying to keep her training a secret. The first was unacceptable and the latter was almost impossible. She rubbed her eyes tiredly.

'What will we do in the meantime?' A third spoke up.

She let out a sigh as she leaned against the building that housed her in its shadow. What would she do indeed...

Long-term she planned to get strong but that was far too broad and was only possible if she was still alive; as much as she hated it she obviously couldn't risk enrolling at the Academy early. So first, she'd need to establish a secure place to live or at least somewhere she would be able to move about freely— or as freely as one could in a shinobi village. That meant she couldn't just waltz through the civilian district and hope nobody tried to take her in or send her to the orphanage. However, she also couldn't move too close to the clan compounds because of the small chance that there would be a bleeding heart that would try to take her in. Even if that didn't happen, there was still the chance that if she became a regular appearance who was always without parents or friends, somebody would notice and say something to somebody who would do something.

It was a collection of what if's and maybe's but they were all possibilities that would inconvenience her incredibly.

While being taken in by a shinobi clan— even one of the lesser clans— could possibly provide her any easy route to begin her training, she would almost be eternally subject to clan politics in regards to her simply being there. If she was in a larger clan, say the Hyūga or the Uchiha, they would have expectations she'd need to meet; with the Hyūga she wouldn't even be used as a breeding horse because whatever genes she had would ensure her children would look distinctly unlike the Hyūga. Even if appearance was unimportant, they'd be shoved into the Branch because they were half-bloods.

Being taken in by civilians would be infinitely less stressful but she was also far more likely to constantly be supervised. She had very little memory of what a family should be like but she was certain that civilian families— most of them, anyway— coddled there children far more than the shinobi clans did. If she happened to be taken in by a civilian clan she'd likely be expected to take up whatever business they were involved or be married off to another clan. Of course, she could always play the 'I want to keep otō-san and okā-san safe' card but she'd likely be unable to legitimately train until she was enrolled in the Academy. Even if she were taken in by shinobi from a civilian family, it was all too likely that they'd want to keep her from the 'horrors' of the shinobi world or whatever excuse they'd give.

So yes, being on her own— despite the dangers that came with it— was for the best. However, that also meant that the akasen was her best bet.

Despite how much she despised the idea of setting foot within the place, she knew far too well that it was likely the only place in the village that she'd be ignored almost entirely. If she did so happen to draw the wrong sort of attention within the borders of the akasen...

Well, they wouldn't hunt too hard for her if she killed somebody. Hopefully.

She straightened her back and brushed off her shirt— it was an awful yellow thing that was large enough to reach her knees— before setting off to find a place to set up.

The girl poked at a corpse in the darkness between buildings. This marked her first kill in this new life of her's and it was far from pleasant.

It wasn't the first time she'd killed somebody— incredibly far from it— but it wasn't her usual style. Her kills, while not planned, were premeditated in some manner before they were carried out. But no, some rapist prick ruined it all and ended up bringing back stupid memories that were best left in the darkest little corners of her mind to fester.

In truth, she blamed whatever was allowing all of this to happen, for making her so disgustingly cute. Hell, if she'd had her original body or any of her previous vessels for that matter, she would've—

Who was desperate enough to go after a three-year-old, anyways? He should've at least waited until she was like, seven.

It's wasn't like it was her fault he had lifted her up the way he had, nestling her head in the crook of his neck and pinning her arms at her side. He must've been surprised that she hadn't been screaming her head off. He'd made it so despairingly easy for her to simply tear apart his jugular and when he dropped her it was easier still to lunge at him with her chakra-enhanced strength and crush his throat in her teeth.

So she sat— hounded by a forgotten and familiar curiosity— over the corpse of her would be torturer, face frozen in some combination of mirth and irritation.

'We could eat him, ya know.' A particularly giddy voice spoke up this time. 'Just like we always dreamed.'

And that was her first problem.

It had been a dream of hers— one so old she'd forgotten it among other things— to see what it was like to eat another human. She'd believed it to be a morbid curiosity, bound only to her formative years, and now it had resurfaced when the likelihood that she'd have to face the consequences were small. The chances this man was a ninja were indescribably small barring the possibility that he was the world's most worthless genin. This meant that the shinobi would have little reason to bother investigating the man's death. Even if he had family that cared for him, the chances of this being traced to her were— again— small. All she'd have to do is wash off the blood and dirty herself up and she'd look like all the rest of the akasenko to anyone who looked.

'There's no way we'll be caught. Just go ahead and do it.'

That was, of course, working under the assumption that Anbu wasn't watching the little chakra protégé who came from an orphanage housing the Kyūbi jinchūriki. Though, it was possible that they passed her constantly fluctuating chakra off as that of an emotionally disturbed child. She sure acted the part.

Even disregarding the Anbu, that still left the problem of Konoha's Military Police. Wasn't it their job to deal with this kind of thing?

'Even if it were, the Uchiha are far too proud to roam the akasen thoroughly or for very long.' This time the voice was radiating with her own irritation. 'By the time they find the body rigor mortis will have set in or be well on its way to ending. At the very least.'

The girl licked her lips, getting another taste of the blood that still lingered around her mouth. Another problem. She was tempting herself with these foolish arguments. She was arguing with herself over something that was her choice. If she was arguing so much for it, that could only mean that she truly wanted to do it— wanted to devour somebody.

She held back a growl before conceding; she'd argue herself to death about this. Best to just get it done and suffer the consequences later.

As she leaned over the corpse, locks of her hair fell into view before she brushed them away. There was something annoyingly familiar about the forest green mop on her head but it was hardly important now.

She sunk her teeth into the man's neck, taking a moment to run her tongue over the torn flesh. This time, instead of crushing his throat as she had the first time, she bit down and tore it free, messily chewing through the tough cartilage and periodically licking her lips before swallowing.

As the sun rose on the horizon, the girl settled into the space beneath a dumpster, her lips crusted with vomit, and slept.

She was frozen in place.

The girl had expected to run into Naruto eventually; it was a given, all things considered. She'd predicted how it would go as well. Maybe he'd be attacked in an alleyway by a drunkard or two and she'd come rescue him. Or maybe she'd secretly pay the bills for his constant excursions to Ichiraku's and one day just happen to be there when he showed up.

But true to form, she'd forgotten just how big a role Sarutobi Hiruzen— the Sandaime Hokage— played in the boy's life. Perhaps, if she'd remembered that, she wouldn't have been four years old, on her rear, and staring up into the eyes of the Sandaime after bumping into the Kyūbi jinchūriki.

She looked at the Sandaime with a mixture of irritation, fear, and resignation. She was certain he could see it all.

He knelt before her wearing a soft smile that only seemed to deepen his wrinkles. "Are you alright, little one?"

She nodded, far too quickly— too frantically— for her liking, and stood. Just behind the Sandaime, she could see Naruto— watching her nervously. He shrunk under her gaze. No that it mattered; her attention was drawn away from him.

"What's your name?" The Sandaime spoke in that grandfatherly tone that would probably set most children at ease but she distinctly remembered him fighting and almost killing Orochimaru in a fight that was heavily weighed against him.

Still, she allowed all the negative emotions nest themselves somewhere in her head before she beamed. "Junko is Junko," she said with a childish enthusiasm that came to her all too naturally. "Who're you, ossan?" She pointed behind him at Naruto. "an' who's he?"

The Sandaime stood and pushed Naruto forward, ignoring the boy's protests. Junko stared at him with wide-eyed curiosity until he turned away, frowning petulantly.

"Naruto. An' that's Jiji." There was a pause and then, as an afterthought, "Sorry 'bout knockin' you over."

Junko only nodded uncertainly before directing her attention to the looming form of the Hokage. "You're old, ossan," she accused.

A mirthful smile settled on his face. "Indeed I am." The Hokage ruffled Naruto's hair before speaking to him in a genial tone. "Come now, Naruto-kun. You wouldn't want to be late, would you?" The jinchūriki stared in confusion only to let out a shout of surprise moments later. He took off at a run only stopping to let the Hokage catch up to and giving Junko a farewell wave.

She waved back but resolved to avoid him for the next few years.

Behind his desk, Sarutobi Hiruzen nursed a small headache as he watched the village through his window.

He had known that accompanying Naruto to the Academy was giving the boy false hope. He couldn't do it often or at all lest he was called on favoritism and he knew it was something the Naruto desired. Yet, it would only be this one time for the foreseeable future.

Had it been an option would be easily accepted, he wouldn't have enrolled Naruto early but the Council had to have their weapon— Danzō had to have his weapon— and the only way to come close to satisfying any of them without handing the jinchūriki over to Danzō himself was to have him enrolled early so he'd be trained.

And inside, he too was aware that Konoha needed its jinchūriki.

So Hiruzen expected complications when he'd taken the boy to the Academy, mainly from civilian families enrolling their own children their or perhaps even the chūnin instructors.

What he had not expected was to run into a chakra powerhouse of a child who pretended not to recognize him.


Behind him, Hiruzen heard the masked operative land lightly on sandaled feet. "Hokage-sama."

"Should you come across a young girl with dark green hair and slitted red eyes, have her followed if possible."

The operative shifted. "Hokage-sama?"

"It is merely a precaution," Hiruzen spoke, answering an unasked question. "Should you discover anything of note, however, you will present the information to me in a timely manner"

"Hai, Hokage-sama." A minute burst of chakra signaled Tora's departure and Sarutobi allowed himself a drag of his pipe.