"Dammit!" yelled Naruto, "Why the hell are you running? Is it Tsunade?"

"I've heard Orochimaru tell of Tsunade. She is one of the legendary Sannin, isn't she?"

"Well, yeah, but—"

"There's no way that I'll become a prisoner to Konoha!"

"Will you just hold on?"

Karin stopped abrubtly and turned to face the young ninja. "Are you going to stop me? Then fight me now! The sooner I'm finished with you, the sooner I can escape. But I don't dare face that woman. I am well aware that I'm no match for her."

Naruto came to a halt and breathed deeply, getting slightly annoyed. "We aren't going to—"

"Shut up with the lies and answer my question!" she shouted, a fierce scowl on her face.

Naruto shook his head. "What do you have against Konoha, anyway?"

"Trying to stall me with questions, aren't you?" Karin brought her palms together and pressed them to her chest, then opened them and thrust them outward. A wave of moisture, so thick that it colored the air white, flew at Naruto. He only had time to shield his face before the blast hit and slammed him through a few yards of trees.

"Ow….Ugh…what the hell…" the young ninja grumbled as he untangled himself from the cracked bark and dusted off his jumpsuit. He could feel the bruises forming.

But when Naruto looked over to where Karin was, he was shocked to see her crumpled form on the ground. He ran over and turned her on her back, lifting her head up with one arm. A jolt of fear shivered up his spine. "Hey! Lady!" She showed no signs of injury. It was as if she just collapsed.

Karin groaned and opened her eyes. "Drugged."


"I was drugged," she drawled, "You knew all along, so you provoked me…"

Naruto rolled his eyes and looked up into the sky. "Why don't you ever make sense?"

"I'm not a fool!" She whispered. "You can act dumb all you want, but I know! There is a drug that causes a ninja to leak out any remaining chakra once that ninja uses one single jutsu technique. You've been injecting me with this drug, haven't you? Ever since I was asleep? Which means you put me in that house to make me feel safe and count on me to trust you so I would tell you everything I know!"

Naruto could only stare at Karin with wide, bewildered eyes. "Is that really true?"

Karin laughed. "You are pathetic at hiding it. But your plan has failed! I've already caught on. And I also know that now you'll probably put me in prison and do the real interrogations since this plan has failed." Karin tried to sit up, but her body would only faintly move. She gave up, looked away and sighed. "Whatever. I don't care anymore."

Naruto said with frustration, "Look, lady—I really don't know about the drug. Sakura is the medical ninja, not me. And also, what information are you talking about?"

Karin ignored him.

"Okay, look," Naruto scooped Karin into his arms and stood up. "I'll take you away from the village. Will that help to make you a little less crazy?"

Karin blinked and looked Naruto directly in the eyes. "Put me down, kid. I'm not going to be carried by a twerp like you."

"Well if you had not have been all defensive then you wouldn't be in this state right now," replied Naruto irritably. "If you are so high and mighty about being a grown up, then you should act like one."

Karin's eyes widened.

Naruto sprinted foreward and carried Karin through the trees at an alarming pace. "See? We're getting farther away from Konoha. Does that make you feel better?"

"Where are you taking me?"

"I don't know. Running away was your idea—not mine. Where do you want to go?"

Karin did not respond. She held a permanent frown on her face and remained stiff in his arms. Naruto's frustration grew. If he couldn't get Karin to trust him, then what would be her fate? He was also uncertain of how to tell her his story. She wouldn't believe him… maybe the seal on his stomach could convince her that he was that baby she had waited for?

"Hey… Karin?"

She ignored him, as usual.

"About your sister…did you ever hear what happened to the baby?"

Naruto noticed Karin's eyes soften sadly. "Heh, you would know better than me. Wouldn't you? If the child survived as a Jinchuuriki, then you would know him…He is the village's most prized tool, after all."

Naruto looked straight ahead, wondering how to tell her.

She hesitated, then asked with reluctance, "You do know him…don't you?"

Naruto clenched his teeth. "What if I did? Does that kid mean anything to you?"

Karin turned her head away, watching the blurry ground below them as they went. "My mentor told me it was a boy… he even told me his name, but I've forgotten it. I guess grief can do that to you… " Then she seemed to wake up. Her eyes hardened. "Really, kid, I can see through any of your strategies. What do you think you can accomplish by bringing me out here, all this way?"

"Like I said," replied Naruto, "It was your idea."

They traveled in silence for a long period of time. Naruto stopped at a green field, dotted with trees. Behind the field was a vast meadow of large bones protruding from the earth. The sun bled as it lowered itself, defeated, behind the black horizon of mountains.

"Has your chakra replenished?" he asked, "Can you stand?"

The young ninja tipped Karin's body so that her feet could touch the ground. The woman stood without a problem. She was staring at the meadow of bones with narrowed eyes. "Where are we?"

Naruto sat down and leaned against a tree, folding his arms over his chest and closing his eyes. "It seems you were headed in the same direction that Sasuke left."

Karin shivered at the name. "What do you mean?"

"When Sasuke left Konoha, he went this way." Naruto's face was expressionless. "A little bit farther and we'd reach the valley of the end."

Karin walked around, noticing a pile of sand and purple flowers. She turned to face Naruto. "So now what? What did you have in mind, bringing me here?"

'I don't know,' thought Naruto to himself. 'I guess this would be the right time to tell her…'

"It's getting dark, Lady Tsunade," said Shizune timidly, cradling the pink, fat pig in her arms. "Shouldn't we send the Anbu to track them down? We've not only lost a suspect—we've lost the village's Jinchuuriki as well."

Tsunade stood by the window, her hands clasped behind her back, watching the sun set. "I didn't let the Anbu know about Karin for a reason. I won't let them interfere now. If Naruto has not returned, perhaps that means that he is with her now."

"Or that he hasn't found her…" said Shizune. "Or worse… the Akatsuki are still after him, Lady Tsunade. He should not search alone. You should send reinforcements."

Tsunade sighed. "You are right, Shizune. We can't risk this much. I have faith in Naruto, but I'm aware that he still has to improve in some areas…"

"Then will you send a squad after him, Lord Hokage?"

"I have no choice. If it hasn't happened now, it may never happen…"

Karin folded her arms and leaned against the tree across from where Naruto sat. "What are you doing? Taking a nap? You think I'll still be here when you wake up?"


"No what?"

Naruto opened his eyes. "Then why don't you run?"

Karin opened her mouth as if about to make an offensive retort, but closed it soon after. She relaxed and said calmly, "My strength has returned just enough, so I can sense your chakra…I can feel…that you have no ill will toward me. Actually, before now, I could sense that. But it was this other sense, this sense of a darker power inside you that gave me reason to doubt. I don't know which chakra is really you. Perhaps you have the kind of powers that can deceive me..."

Naruto watched her calmly. "I often wondered the same thing when I was a child—which part was really me."

Karin sat down. "I don't understand you. Won't you just tell me what you want?"

"Lady," sighed Naruto, "This wasn't even my idea…heh, it wasn't either of our ideas, was it?"

Now the woman glowered at him suspiciously. "What do you mean?"

"I mean what I am—what you are—it was none of our ideas. And yet, now it is. It's kind of weird how blood can do that—make you something from nothing. Make a person that was nobody to you suddenly mean everything."

Karin stood up immediately, feeling a little uneasy. "Now you are talking in riddles."

Naruto looked straight into her eyes. "If I concern you, then why are you still here?"

She was speechless.

"You know something too, don't you? You can sense something familiar in my chakra. But you don't know what…"

"I…" Karin realized it; his guard was down. Why didn't she go now? "I was only curious but… if you won't stop me, I'll—" Karin's mouth shut suddenly. She turned her head toward the yawning shadows of wilderness. There was something headed their way, at an alarming rate.

Naruto caught on to her alarm. "What is the matter?"

"It's a beast…" said Karin slowly. "It is coming directly to us. It will be here any second."

"Something…something is coming…?"

"That's odd," said Karin indifferently. "Only Orochimaru could command the snake ninjas. But he is dead."


"It's a snake." Karin lept to the top of a tree.

Naruto followed her, a serious look in his eyes. "Do you think it is deliberately coming for us?"

"Shut up and hide, will you? It's almost here."