A/N: So. Here we are. Can anyone see this? I really hope so...T_T

First, double update day. Updating this and the EPILOGUE for Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

Second, can anyone see this? I really hope so...T_T

Third, the site isn't letting a lot of us upload long chapters for some reason?

Once more, the site appears to be malfunctioning again. Reviews aren't displaying properly -though the number does go up- case in point, I can SEE them in my inbox, but the site doesn't want to let them display properly for some reason. I have to go the long way round and reply via PM instead of the reply link itself. Ugggghhh...

That said, the site appears to be malfunctioning again as of a few hours ago, reviews aren't displaying properly; case in point, I can SEE them in my amil inbox, but the site doesn't want to let them display properly for some reason. I have to go the long way round and reply via PM instead of the reply link itself.

Use the support email and let the devs know, will ya?

As for me, I am...probably not going to update the big stories awhile until this is fixed.

Again, not sure if anyone can even see this. What's the point of updating a long chapter if no one can see said update?

In all likelihood, this story will be ending soon. Frankly its not all that popular, while I have less and less time to write these days. So rather than simply drop it, it may well end early like "Wolf" did. The same will likely apply to "Best Served Cold" with "Lies are Entertainment" and "All Things Must Die"

Of course if you, the reader, believe otherwise, then I'll continue them. But as things stand now, it just doesn't feel worth it.

As ever, I own no references, themes or memes. They're tributes for everyone, plain and simple.

Get ready. We're nearing the tipping point of this little tale at last.

And yes, I am...tentatively considering a Doctor Who story.

Lords knows you've all given me enough references.

"What is better, to be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?

Consider this. Why would you have to kill so many innocents for nothing more than getting close to the truth? Despite the cruelty of it; I'd hoped that their motives might have at least been noble. But more recently I've realized something about these people. What they're fighting to protect is not the Leaf, but their ambitions.

Which means, all they care about is suppressing those who dare to question their authority in any way.

My clan was killed by human greed, and the sheer stupidity of a naive child."

~?

I No Longer Believe (Aftermath)

"Itachi!"

Cinder snapped awake with a start, flailing at the sheets. Everything was a blur, her eyes wild with pain, her head aching even as she struggled to make sense of it all. Where was she?! Instinct shrieked at her, demanding she defend herself, but there was no threat to be found. Only soft sheets and the faint chirp of birds outside. Dimly she beheld the medical equipment surrounding her; heard the faint chirp of a heart monitor droning on in her ears.

A hospital...?

She must have passed out after killed that masked man; nothing else made sense-no, wait! The battle!

Eyes wild in her head she bolted upright. "Where...?!"

"Easy, there." a dark hand settled on her arm, and she whirled to find Rhodes there. "Your old man chased him off, though he took his fair share of injuries for it." her eyes flitted to the nasty cut on his forehead, but he tugged her back to him. "As for your friends, they took some burns trying to get to you. They'll be fine, but they're resting for the time being.

Suspicion reared its head and she pulsed her chakra, to no avail. This was real. "Why am I here?"

He quirked a brow. "Cinder, you were stabbed...

Dread quailed in her belly. "Mikoto...?"

"She's fine." he tousled her hair, drawing a growl from the girl. "Had a bit of a health scare with the baby, and the kid's a little premature, but he's stable." he didn't hear her world grind to a halt. "She named him Sasuke, by the way. Congratulations.

Cinder blinked. "Eh?"

"Sasuke." Rhodes repeated. "Your little brother."

Cinder blinked once. Twice. thrice now. Her brain fizzled. "Eh?"

"Might've broken you, there." her mentor chortled and patted her head. "Its fine. Relax." he nudged her back to the bed. "We've got all the time in the world."

There was something else. What has she forgotten. It itched at the back of her brain, refusing to be denied.

"And Naruto...?" she found the bed beside her empty and gulped. "Is he safe? Is he...alright?"

Here at last, Rhodes grimaced. "I'm afraid in your anger, you may have...hurt him."

Cinder flinched. "No. That's impossible. He was alive! I know it! I saw him!"

"And he still is." Stern hands settled on her shoulders. "Whatever trick you pulled with those storms and that fire...it spread everywhere. Between that and the Amaterasu...well, he's in pretty rough shape."

"Will he pull through?"

Rhodes shrugged. "Its hard to say."

Cinder reeled back with a bitter peal of laughter. Yes, that was all she ever did. Hurt those near her. Even Rhodes was no exception. Physically, she was younger than she'd been when she had killed him, but not by much, and the memory stung all the same. She felt like a little girl all over again, in body if not spirit.

"I really can't escape from my destiny." she buried her head in her hands. "You must hate me...

A strained silence stretched between master and apprentice alike.

Reincarnated or no, it didn't change what transpired.

At length, Rhodes sighed.

"Look, kid." he spoke slowly, haltingly, choosing his words with great care. "I should've taken you out of there the moment I saw you, laws be damned. I didn't. That was on me."

Cinder shivered.

"You were hurting, and I didn't see it. No," the older man looked way with a grimace. "Maybe I didn't want to see it. When you needed me most, I failed you. I didn't even try to understand. But don't you see, Cinder?" his gaze swung back to her. "Violence doesn't end violence. It only begets it. Prolongs it. Perpetuates it. I don't think you want to do this; I don't think you want to become that monster.

...you're too late." Cinder hiccuped. "I already have."

Damnitall. No tears! She was mighty! Strong! Her body might be that of a child, but she'd not fall prey to such emotions!

"Then I'll still be here." his hand tousled her hair, just as it had so many years before. "You're my kid."

Her eyes watered.

And she broke.


(.0.0.0.)


That stupid heart monitor wouldn't let him sleep.

Blasted just keep beeping.

Beep. Beep. BEEP!

Naruto creaked an eye open and scowled at the ceiling. It was driving him mad! He tried to be a good soldier. He really did. He did his best to ignore the pain of his wounds, the way His skin clung beneath the bandages. It was maddening. He'd woken some time ago and realized the battle was over. It terrified him. Had they won? Lost? He remembered pain, burning, screaming...nothing...

Naruto didn't want to look.

No boy his age should.

But he must.

And so he did. He pulled back the bandages, turned his head, and beheld his reflection in the window. Now he knew why his left eye itched so; because it was gone. Not damaged, not maimed, just...gone. A web of angry red scar tissues covered his closed lid, blistered by heavy burns. A little voice in him warbled.

'Hey, look on the bright side. Ladies love scars. Just get an eyepatch, and you'll be fne."

He patted himself down. Both legs? Check. Most of his face intact? Relatively clear on that front. Both hands?

.

..

...

Against his better judgement, the whiskered youth cast a quick glance at his left arm...and exhaled. Phew. Still there. Badly burned, and wrapped in heavy gauze, but he still had all of his fingers. He looked back to the window and bit back a sigh. The shock hadn't worn off yet. But once it did...well, he wasn't looking forward to that.

"Well, Cinder did say she had a thing for scars...

The words were still leaving his mouth when he heard it.

Someone wailed in the room across from him, a cry so primal it stabbed his soul.

On numb feet he staggered upright. His legs nearly faltered, but still he stumbled on. An orderly saw in him the hall and made a grab for his arm, but he ducked under her hand.

His hand found the door and yanked.

.

..

...

He saw here there in her bed, weeping into his hands.

"Cinder!"

She looked up.

Saw his face and cried anew.

No, that wasn't right. Cinder did not weep. She absolutely bawled.

A/N: And there we go. Hope you call can see this, no way to know if its getting through with the glitches.

As ever, reviews keep me going in this crazy time. Without them, I just can't seem to write.

So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Review...Would You Kindly?

And as ever:

SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

PLOT DETAILS AHOY!

(Previews)

"You think I wanted this?! I didn't do this! This wasn't me!"

"I know." Naruto sat beside her on the bed. She tried not look at at his scars. "If you're a monster, then I am, too. That's fine. We can be monsters together."


"Foolish girl. You don't know what you've done."


"She is the storm that is approaching...the catalyst of change...

Join her or be consumed.


"As of this moment, that boy is a ward of the Uchiha. No objections

Naruto looked left. Naruto looked right. "Is that...a good thing?"

"You fought for my daughter. I repay my debts.

Rhodes chortled softly.


"You want their eyes? No. Fuck you. YOU CAN BURN!"


Fugaku pushed himself out of his chair with a sigh. "I'm old, not deaf. I'd thank you not to repeat that again, Danzo."

"And what can a broken man like you do?"

"Kill you, for starters."

R&R~!