As he walked away Sasuke finally understood why Naruto had called the power he had a curse. He finally saw what he had thrown away, and now all he could do was hope for a miracle to save him from his own mistake.


Hinata yawned as she opened her eyes. It had been a rather long night. Well, not so long for a ninja, but having nothing to do Hinata was used to going to bed early and getting up early.

I wonder how late I was up last night?

After the near fight between Naruto and Sasuke, Hinata had been unsure what to do…She had almost decided to break the silence between herself and Naruto last night when he had started speaking. Hinata suddenly sat up in bed as memories of the night before brought her fully awake.

The Monument… and, and the fight… And… Oh my poor Naruto-kun. I'm so very sorry. I just never knew.

Yes, last night had certainly been an eye opener. Hinata had always thought Naruto to be the cheerful and joyous person he presented to the world. She of course could see the pain behind his eyes, but she had no idea how deep that pain had run. In fact, she still found it hard to believe how bitter and cynical Naruto had sounded.

"And then came the 'glory days' if I can call them that...;

He was my first family…;

I had already failed the gennin test twice, but this time I was determined to make it. Unfortunately, old habits die hard…;

True Sakura could see nothing but Sasuke, true again that Sasuke was an ice cold teme…;

I caught up to him in the valley of the end…a fitting place for what was about to happen I suppose…;

I told him that to me, he WAS family. You know what he did? He LAUGHED at me. He laughed and then took out his forehead protector, saying that if those were the bonds I held so dear then he would sever them for me.

Hinata shivered a little bit in spite of herself. That had been the first time that she had ever heard Naruto talk about anything other than ramen and missions. There Hinata sat hugging her knees, until she remembered what had happened later.

With awe in her voice Hinata managed to form the sentence.

"You tapped Kyuubi."

Alarmed Naruto tensed and whipped his head up to stare at Hinata, blood draining from his face and leaving it a ghostly white.

"H...How do you know about…"

It was then that he realized there was no horror on her face, a little shock perhaps, but nothing negative. He relaxed again, shaking his head ruefully.

"Yes, I tapped into Kyuubi's power, and we fought. After a while I nearly managed to talk some sense into him, but then something happened, and, after a moment, he convinced himself otherwise. Once again we fought, this time it culminated with me scratching his forehead protector while holding back a Chidori. I thought I made it though to him then, but he snapped. He charged another Chidori one handed, and hit me with it. The next thing I remember is waking up at the funeral."

Hinata shook her head before whispering

"Don't worry Naruto, I understand now. Try to remember that tomorrow is a new day, and from now on you will always have at least one person you can tell anything to."

Naruto looked surprised

"Who?"

Giggling and blushing, Hinata snuggled up to him and put her head on his shoulder again, before stating with a calm certainty.

"Me silly."

Naruto smiled and rested his head on hers.

Hinata giggled a little bit then as she remembered the look on his face when he realized that she knew his secret, and the relief that was evident when she didn't run. It was then that Hinata remembered what had happened when she had walked back to the hospital with him.

-Flashback-

Naruto stood staring at the ground as he scuffed a stone with his shoe. It was nearing midnight, and he had to go back to the rooms that Tsunade had assigned him

"Thank you Hinata."

Hinata was confused

"For what Naruto-kun?"

Naruto blushed.

"For hearing me out… For letting me express my feelings… For not being…afraid."

"Naruto-kun, No matter what everyone else says I know the type of person you are, so it wouldn't matter to me if you were a container, or if you were the Kyuubi himself. It's your ACTIONS that I judge you by… and for those I will always look up to you."

Suddenly realizing how long she had been talking, and whom she had been talking to Hinata's eyes also dropped to the ground. She could feel a blush rising in her cheeks as she twiddled her fingers. It only got worse when she realized that Naruto had stopped his study of the ground and was now staring at her with awe. Suddenly he chuckled, his brief baritone laugh seeming to float in her ears.

"Thank you Hinata-chan. Thank you most of all for being there for me."

Hinata had managed to raise her eyes to his for a brief moment before dropping them again, too embarrassed to maintain contact. Suddenly Hinata had felt something warm on her cheek ever so briefly, and then Naruto had turned and run into the hospital. Raising her hand she touched the spot where she had felt the warmth before realizing what it had been.

A k…kiss? Naruto-kun KISSED me?

-End Flashback-

Hinata hugged her pillow as she remembered the soft feeling of his kiss on her cheek. She had felt like running and singing, like shouting out to the world her joy! But being Hinata she had done none of those things. Instead she had drifted back home. She still didn't remember a single step of the way; she had been floating above the streets as her mind raced at incredible speed into the unforeseeable future. Vaguely she recalled brushing past Neji-nii-san, seeing his mouth moving but being unable to hear a word he had said. She recalled laying awake for what seemed forever, before sleep had finally welcomed her with open arms. Sitting in her bed Hyuuga Hinata smiled. It was already the beginning of a beautiful day!


"..to."

"..ruto."

"Come on Naruto wake up!"

"Hmmm?"

Ever so slowly Naruto opened his eyes. He was used to Kyuubi's training regime by now, but he had been up for roughly forty-eight hours straight. He had only paused to take an hour-long nap the night before, and had intended to sleep for at least fifteen hours straight. Unfortunately His nurse didn't agree.

"Sakura-chan? Wa time s'it?"

Naruto's vision swam slightly as Sakura came back into view.

"Nearly noon sleepyhead. I know your not much of a morning person, But I was told that you were back here by midnight. That means you must have gotten at least a decent nights sleep."

"Uh? Noon? S'still early. Lemme rest."

Rolling over Naruto closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep.

"Uzumaki Naruto. You wake up this instant."

Blearily Naruto opened one of his eyes back up.

"Bnn up fer forty-eight… Jus wan sum res."

Closing his eye, Naruto covered his head with a pillow before going back to sleep. Standing at the foot of his bed Sakura couldn't help but sigh.

That boy… Sometimes I swear he's determined to drive me insane. Hell ya he is… But we'll teach him… hehe Indeed we will.

"Good afternoon Hinata-chan! Did you sleep well?"

Sakura couldn't help but blink. One moment Naruto had apparently been sleeping in bed, but the next he was up awake, and scanning the room for Hinata.

"Good Morning Hinata-chan! Just give me a moment and I'll…"

Sakura blinked again, and then giggled a little bit. It was rather funny watching his face when he realized that Hinata was nowhere in sight. Turning toward her Naruto glowered at his former teammate.

"Very funny Sakura-chan. Now if you'd be kind enough to throw me my sweatpants?"

Sakura's mind blanked for a moment, and then her eyes went round as she realized that Naruto was standing in front of her wearing nothing but a pair of flame red boxers. Sakura went stock-still; she could literally feel her mind overheating. It was funny considering that it was Naruto who was bringing on the feelings, but suddenly the room was hot in a way that watching Sasuke for years had only hinted at. Muttering oaths under his breath Naruto stalked past her, and without conscious thought her eyes followed him noting the smoky tails that were outlined on the back of his boxers. She didn't have time to count them however as her sight was suddenly obscured by the pair of dark gray shorts she had laid out for him earlier. Blushing, Sakura turned away and attempted to focus her mind on Lee. It was another half minute before she heard Naruto gruffly call out.

"Alright you may not care as you have already gotten an eye full, but it's safe to look again."

Thankfully the blush had retreated a little by now and Sakura was able to move past Naruto's body and on to a clinical examination of the outfit he was wearing. Dark gray shorts, deep blue beater. Not really anything else. Tsunade had informed her that Naruto would be spending another night here in the hospital simply because she was too busy to give him the examination she wanted to before he left. Therefore he still wasn't allowed his ninja tools.

"I'm going to assume that I'm not allowed to leave yet?"

Sakura blinked again trying to recall her wandering mind.

"Hmm? What? Leave? No, Tsunade-sensei unfortunately has no time to give you your examination today."

Sakura's face heated slightly as she remembered… She had been about to strip down for a nice soothing soak in the tub when she suddenly got the oddest feeling that she was being watched. Drawing and throwing a kunai in the same motion Sakura was shocked to see her knife sail right though what had seemed to be a knothole in the fence. A moment later there was a distinctly male yelp… Sakura's blush had changed to a slightly feral grin as she remembered chasing down the stranger in black and then beating the tar out of him.

"She is busy dealing with a pair of perverts that we caught earlier."


Back at the ninja academy Jirayia and Kyuubi both sneezed. After looking at each other briefly they went back to attempting to restore order to the class of hyper young ninja wannabee's that they had been put in charge of. Edging his way over to Jirayia, Kyuubi managed to whisper.

"That old witch, this is even worse than that damn ice shack."

Jirayia nodded his head mournfully

"You ain't kiddin. That ice was mean, but this is downright sadistic. I was never meant to be a teacher, I hate kids."

Kyuubi sighed.

"Worse yet she made me promise not to kill any of them. I'm not even allowed to use this neat little jutsu I know to freeze the little wretch…. OUCH! DAMN YOU, YOU LITTLE BRAT! I SHOULD FRY YOU WHERE YOU STAND!"

Kyuubi was about to rant further when a distinctly feminine voice spoke up from the corner in the back of the room where she was watching.

"Temper, temper Kyubito-san. Why don't you and Jirayia stop fooling around and go help the kids with their kunai practice."

A wild cheer erupted form the class, and both Jirayia and Kyuubi were nearly dragged outside by the group of yelling, squabbling, self-important children. Tsunade smiled to herself as she heard Kyuubi muttering about how 'all powerful demons shouldn't be babysitting'.

Revenge is sweet


Many miles away another group was also thinking about revenge.

"Look Itachi, I know that you wanted the nine-tails for yourself, but we need to re-think this. That damn brat somehow managed to take on Rekku, He may have been an arrogant prick, but we both know that he had considerable power with that seven-tailed snow demon helping him."

"Patience Kisame. That was simply a fluke; a one in a million chance that the Kyuubi boy managed to turn in his favor."

"I realize that Itachi!" Snapped Kisame "I also notice that this boy seems to be minting his own damn luck. How many encounters has our organization had with him? How many times has he walked away virtually unscathed?"

"Calm yourself. If you feel that this is so important I'm certain that we can do a little checking up on him."

"I'm just saying that the brat is becoming to powerful too quickly. At his current stage he might be able to resist, and what happens if we only manage to draw the beast partially? I don't know about you, but I have no desire to face Kyuubi one on one."

Itachi frowned a little bit.

"I said we would look into this… besides (for the first time a ghost of a smile appeared on his face) I may just get a chance to play with little Sasuke-san a bit more."


"Ahh Hinata-sama. There you are!"

Hinata jumped a little bit as her cousin Neji caught up to her and startled her out of a rather pleasant daydream.

"Neji-nii-san. How may I help you?"

Neji frowned a little bit causing Hinata to get ever so slightly nervous. Neji may have begun treating her better since his loss at the Chuuin exams, but there was still a rather large amount of tension between the two of them.

"I need to speak to you about our topic from last night."

Hinata fidgeted a little more under the piercing stare of her cousin.

"W…what part N… Nii-san?

Neji sighed.

"The part where I asked if whatever tramp your seeing did anything inappropriate to you and you answered 'That'd be nice' before walking off."

Hinata's blush could have warmed a room in the wintertime. The worst part was that from what little she remembered of last night, she felt she had probably been telling the truth.

"Th…There is no reason to w… worry yourself nii-san. W…we did nothing inappropriate."

Neji's cold demeanor was slowly melting away as he struggled not to laugh at the blush evident on his cousin's face. Hinata of course was looking at the floor and so missed the subtle play of emotions across his face.

"Well I've got to be going. Good luck with your little secret. Hope the dolt catches on soon."

"Catches on to what Nii-san?"

Despite Neji's best efforts he couldn't help but let a small smirk slip.

"Catches on to how badly you've fallen for him."

Neji's smirk widened ever so slightly as Hinata's blush deepened.

"On the other hand judging from what you said last night, that might not be such a good thing after all… Well Ja Ne cousin."

Had Neji been anyone else he would have been rolling on the floor laughing so hard he was crying. But Neji, being himself just walked off grinning happily.

What a great way to start a day off.


"Come on Ino!"

Shikamaru grumbled to himself.

What a troublesome city. I don't know what I've gotten myself into, but ASKING the Hokage to put me on a mission is a sure sign of desperation.

It had been only a day or two since his recovery from chakra depletion, and already he was sick to death of the fan girls. If he stayed home he would have to answer a long string of phone calls where the person on the other end did nothing but breathe, or else he'd hear giggling before the other person hung up. Once he had been about to take a bath and had forgotten to close the bathroom curtains. Luckily the girl hiding outside had giggled shortly after he removed his shirt. Shikamaru still shuddered at that particular memory.

"Alright Kiba, you know the drill. This is a standard scatter mission. A group of thieves led by what is most likely a Chuuin level missing nin have been terrorizing trade caravans. To the best of the Hokage's knowledge this is an ACTUAL group of bandits rather than the usual Sound posers that we've been dealing with. Take your positions, we'll be on their camp within twenty minutes."

Glancing around Shikamaru nodded in satisfaction as Shino and Kiba moved smoothly into their forward positions and as Ino moved back into support.

Good everything is going according to plan.


Naruto was currently out wandering the marketplace. After seeing Sakura start snickering about what she had done to the 'man in black' Naruto had backed away slowly, and then took the first opportunity he could to escape through the window. Naruto was also a little confused and preoccupied. He had been thinking about Hinata as he walked, not really paying much attention to where he was going. He had just reached the corner to Ichiraku's when a girl had run into him. Being quick on his feet Naruto had managed to react fast enough to stay upright. His would be assailant wasn't quite so lucky.

"OUCH!"

Startled out of his thoughts and not quite remembering that he was in Konoha, a place where everyone hated him, Naruto just followed his normal instincts… he stopped to help. Reaching down he grabbed the girl by the shoulders, picked her up, and set her on her feet.

"You OK?"

Without waiting for an answer Naruto did his best to brush her off, as she had gotten dirty in the tumble. After he was finished he gave her a small smile before waving goodbye distractedly and walking off. The girl was still standing there two minutes later. In fact several of the people who had seen the encounter were also standing as though frozen… after several more seconds the girl slowly turned to follow the blonde hair absently weaving through the crowd before whispering

"Yondiame?"


Shikamaru sighed for what seemed to be the thirtieth time in the last hour. He was already regretting his rather rash decision to lead this mission. Casting a glare at Kiba he tried to re-focus on the task at hand.

Ok… the bandits are holed up in a cave on the eastern side of the… I shouldn't have told that little shit. Look at him grin. MAN is this troublesome, I should have known better than to tell Kiba about my girl troubles… NO, FOCUS! Ok, holed up in a cave over by the base of those cliffs. Now the easiest approach would be to have Kiba and Akamaru… Grrr. I should burn that little punk where he stands. Look at him! Not a care in the world… 'sigh' I would have been better off telling Ino… at least she wouldn't be rubbing it in and… OK enough of that… back to the plan. So Kiba and Akamaru can take Shino and…

A short distance away Kiba smirked. He had been the one to leave most of the prank calls. He still found it funny that the supposed genius hadn't realized he was getting more calls than he should with an unlisted number.

Poor, poor Shikamaru. Nice of you to trust me, but I'm sure you didn't much like it when I told you to just date um all and enjoy perks of having a fan club… Heh, I've never seen you blush quite that hard. What's worse is that I already know about your stalker… CAUSE IT'S ME! Oh man, this is just too damn funny. The best part is that now I can have even more fun describing your 'fan girl' for you… hehehe. I'm going to have you so worried.

Ten feet away from the two boys Ino also sat in thought, her mind was on a little different track though. Where Shikamaru was having limited success in planning their attack, and Kiba was scheming, Ino was trying very hard to get her team leader out of her head.

…I mean it's not like I like him THAT way anyways… we're just good friends right? Besides he has all of those fan girls chasing after him, he has absolutely no time for a busybody like me. He already told me EXACTLY how 'troublesome' women are… I'd worry about him being gay, but I don't think that the trouble is that he's not INTERESTED in girls… it's more like they take to much time away from his cloud gazing…I wonder if he's into foreign Kunoichi…Like that Temari girl from sand…'sigh' what to do…

Shino on the other hand was deep in conversation with several of his bugs. Although he was keeping the lookout at the moment Shino was also getting updated on his current team

"So you mean to tell me that her pheromones spike whenever she looks at him?" Bzzz.. bzzt bzzz "and that although confused his do the same" BzzT "No I don't think I want to know dog boy's reaction." bZt "Amused? Figures… if anyone would find this funny, it's Kiba. Any sign of intruders?" Btzzzt "Alright, back to your squad then. Thank you for the update.

Well, that is certainly interesting… nice to see that those two are finally sorting out their feelings. To be quite honest it's rather nice to have some silence instead of Ino's constant nagging… I hope it lasts


Sasuke stood in front of THE door again. It felt like a lifetime since he had first found this place, and true to his word he had completely avoided it… Until now. Now he was driven. Finally he understood where Naruto's odd chakra came from. Sasuke shuddered at the thought of having to carry around a demon inside of himself.

Now I see why you hate that power so much Naruto. It really is a curse; looking back I can see that now… I don't know what is though this door, but if you can survive it while carrying that… THING in your stomach, then I owe it to you to at least ATTEMPT to see myself as I truly am… I won't hide any longer, I see now that you have had it worse off than I thought, and if this is what it takes, I'll at least take the first steps to making up what I owe you…

With those thoughts and a deep breath Sasuke pushed open the door… all that followed was a searing light as he stepped though, then came darkness, and the door sat, guarding as it had for the long ages past, and the longer ages to come, the secrets of the shadow lords of the Uzumaki.


A/N: (Authors Note)

Hello to you all, I'm sure many of you have been wondering for a while now wether or not I intend to continue my various story's. I know that I've addressed this Issue before, but I'll do it again for the benefit of the doubters. The only time I will stop writing a story is either

A) when the story is finished
or
B) When I die

Of course if it gets to tedius I'll just whipe up a vaugly unstisfying ending that will cover most of the main points while leaving glaring holes in the rest of it, BUT it will be an ending, and it will be clearly marked as such, so no worries! Also, the next chapter of this story should be out reletivally soon, but I may cut back on length to increase speed again... just to warn you.

I have a second little note I'd like to add here as well, I've been getting letters recently from well-meaning people who have heard from a friend who heard from a friend, that someone's fifth cousin's former roomate got warned not to reply to reviews...Now really people, if it was policy then would have sent out a memo to ALL authors warning of such. As I never got one, I'm going to assume that this is the same E-mail thats been going around perodiacally for the last few years.
JUST in case there is some base to the current one however, I offer these suggestions to aspiring writers.

1)Reply to reviewers at the END of your story, not the beginning. By doing this the people who want to see if you have a response for them can still look for there name, and those that don't care can just stop reading.

2)Put all Author notes at the END of the story, unless they pertain directly to the story it's self. it's a pain to try and figure out where the notes stop and the story begins when you put them at the beginning

3)Keep the story readable and in good taste. Quite frankly it's a crime to have storys that could be very good flame out because the author made so many spelling and grammer mistakes that the piece became unreadable

4)Try to keep your characters fairly low power till you get the hang of where your story is going, it's a problem that most new authors face. they get a chapter or two in, and find that they've had to introduce insanly powerful foes because suddnely the main character has no competition, a good story keeps you wonder as to wether the hero is going to survive the encounter or not.

Well, thats all for now, thank you to everyone who read though my rant, I'm sure that i'll be getting some interesting reviews to this one.

Ja Ne,
Manatheron


Reviews: (scroll down if you don't like them, thats what the arrow in the bottom right is for.)

GreekGeek81: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind

DarthMonkey :Now why would I do that?

Ryuuko-chan: -Shrug- Dunno if i'd go that far... he's still a git. ;-)

boredathome : Heh, now I get to do more Sasuke bashing -D ... HEY! you reviewed TWICE... the second one is down furthor.

Raigel: Now where would the fun be if I told you that?

Dragon Noir: Your right about the name thing...I hope I get around to correcting it. And thanks... I like Hinata's little 'friends' to D

Kitsunecontainer : Your turn to get back to me... How's it coming?

Shadow-Sensei: -Checks shadows- Alright, Enough of that! ;-)

Crack101 : -shrug- Dunno, I haven't thought that part out yet.

NotasuSama : -Evil Grin- It's so much more fun my way... I think that naruto is getting the Idea though

boredathome: I know, it's so much fun imagioning all the reader bashing their heads against somthing when they realize that she's not going to say it again though... as for sasuke. He's going to pay for EVERY injustice... Cold arrogant git, he's suffering his fair share in MY stories.

Danny-171984: how do I come up with it... I dunno. As for Saku/Lee -evil grin- you'll just have to find out now won't you?

Heero T Himura: I"m flattered. it's reviews like that, the ones that are almost embarrassing, that make this fun. Thank you for your wonderful comment's and thank you for the corrections.

TimeShifter: their in that in-between spot where they aren't really dating, but are certainly more than friends.

Jays Arravan: you know, alot of people are saying that...tell you what, I'll think about it.

NaruHina113: SCORE!

naruto-fanfic: Thanks... BTW, what happend to 'legends'? I haven't been able to get into the site for forever!

RZH: thank you so very much, I hope you keep enjoying the stories

XL : actually its a flame disguised as a rant, and what if he was all out of his regular camo and deep in enemy tare-e-tory ;) thanks for the review, I may not agree with most of it, but at least your reading it.

Additional thank you's to Everyone whom I didn't reply to personally, I realize that it would have been nice to see your name in print, but unfortunalty I'm running out of steam, another late night... (or early morning if you prefer). I would like you all to know however that your reviews mean alot to me. they tell me alot of things, but most importantly they show me that you care enough to leave a little note... thank you from the bottom of my heart.