Hello all, this is my first attempt at writing a fanfiction so please be kind. Constructive criticism is welcome and appreciated so long as it is truly constructive. I hope you all enjoy the start of my story.

A big thanks to Roamer79 for lending me his ear, support, and everything else being my husband entails ;) (by the way check out his NaruHina story My Own Peace, I occassionally work as his editor).

I do not own Naruto or any characters from his world, but I do own my OC's.


"I'm leaving the village tonight."

The older shinobi paused in the review of his notes to look up at the sound of a voice he'd become so familiar with. Standing there in shadow, near the only window of the room he'd rented for the night, was his student. He had forgotten just how well versed at slipping in and out of places his student had become and was surprised that he hadn't noticed his entry to the room until the moment the young man had spoken. Setting his notes aside with a deep sigh he quickly assessed the young shinobi. "Hmm, just what do you mean by leaving the village? I'm certain you wouldn't sneak into my room in the middle of the night simply to inform me of your latest mission. So?" he waited for the young man to confirm what he already knew.

The shinobi standing in shadow moved forward so the light of the lone lamp could reveal his battle weary form, in his all too familiar orange jumpsuit. Naruto Uzumaki a typically jovial, if often immature young man now stood before Jiraiya with an expression on his face that could only be described as bitter and closed off.

"You know what I mean, Jiraiya-sama". Even the sound of his voice was now cold and detached, two words no one would ever imagine using to describe the young man before him. "However, if you truly need me to spell it out for you.." Jiraiya's eyes followed the sight of the blue headband that once rested proudly upon the boy's brow as it clattered onto the table before him.

"Why?" was the only response the Toad Sage felt necessary at the moment. He clasped the discarded forehead protector in his fist, studying the article before returning his gaze to the face of his student. This was a side of Naruto that Jiraiya was unfamiliar with and was equally unsure of how to handle him.

"I can't remain in this village, correction; I won't remain in this village. A person can only take being told they are something so many times before they start to believe it," Naruto said with a vicious snarl.

The Toad Sage chose to overlook the hate in Naruto's tone. "You know what consequences a choice such as this will bring," Jiraiya spoke in a low tone. He sat quietly for only a second before inquiring, "Are you sure you are making the right decision?"

Naruto's eyes narrowed as he replied, "It is the decision I will stand by."

Jiraiya seemed to wave the boy's statement away as inconsequential with his response, "Ah yes, your nindo. Though I believe you misunderstood me, I meant are you sure you're making the right decision in telling me this?" His eyes took on a hard glint as he stared down the thirteen year old before him.

Naruto raised his head in defiance, "I think so, yes. If I told Kakashi-sensei he would immediately report me to Tsunade-sama, while I believe you would not."

Jiraiya seemed to consider Naruto's statements deciding whether or not the boys trust was well placed before responding, "I will give you five days, a week at most, before I tell her about this conversation. You will become a missing-nin and you will be hunted, this you well know." With a sigh he continued, "If you need me send word through the toads."

Naruto ruefully shook his head, "If I need you, I'll be dead before I could send such a message."

Jiraiya's head jerked backwards as though struck as he continued to stare at the young man before him, wondering what could have occurred that would bring him to such a low point in his life. Before another word could be shared between the two Naruto stepped back into the shadows of the room disappearing out the window.

A saddened sigh seemed to fill the room as Jiraiya visibly deflated; he knew whatever had occurred was something Naruto would carry with him always. Especially if it was an event so terrible it could drive the jubilant blonde, who dreamed of becoming hokage, to the life of a missing-nin. He had seen a coldness within Naruto that had never been present before, a coldness that he hoped wouldn't consume the young man.

Jiraiya knew better than anyone that Naruto was far more capable as a shinobi than what everyone perceived, what he led everyone to perceive. Turning away from the window to stare at the long forehead protector he hoped that the worst wouldn't come to pass, that Naruto would not be captured as a missing-nin. Though he himself held an unwavering loyalty to Konohagakure he didn't wish to see the boy punished for seeking a life outside of the village.

Chapter 1

Eight Years Later

She'd been abducted, Again!

Hinata Hyuga awoke knowing she was no longer lying in the comfortable bed of the high-priced room her father had arranged for her at the Inn within Sunagakure. Her first clue was the distinct lack of a bed beneath her, the second and third was the eclipsing darkness and smell of earth that surrounded her.

She knew her kunoichi skills were rusty but how was it possible for her to have been abducted out of bed so easily? Silently activating her Byakugan she searched the area, finding herself in what appeared to be a dome room, with no door or windows, alone. Attempting to sit up she discovered how it was possible for her to be abducted out of bed, her body felt weighed down and her head ached with the remnants of a drug. Probably a drugged senbon, she thought as she was finally able to lift her body into an upright position. Bastards! How many times will I awaken to discover I've been abducted in my life? She was unsure if she should be relieved to discover she was still dressed in the nightgown she'd donned before bed. It didn't exactly provide a cover of modesty, it's not like she could've planned to wear something more suitable for the role of kidnap victim.

Hinata hated this aspect of life as a Hyuga; she hated even more the fact that eight years ago she had allowed her father to pressure her into leaving the life of a kunoichi. If she hadn't perhaps she would have been more capable of avoiding a situation like this. But that was an issue for another day, not today when she needed to focus instead of being distracted by what-ifs. I may not have prevented this from happening but I will save myself.

Her frustration over the situation mounted as she dragged herself over to the nearest wall to rest while waiting for the last of the drug to wear off. The wall was made of earth and as she focused harder on what her eyes could discern she realized she was within a network of cave systems. More specifically inside one of the caves within the system and as far as her gifted eyes could tell there was no way out. How did they get me in here? Focusing beyond her cave, she was able to locate two men a hundred and fifty feet away approaching at a sedate pace. Judging by the direction they were traveling she knew they would approach the opposite side of the cave from where she sat, if they didn't pass her by completely.

Please, let them pass me by she thought as her body protested her struggles to stand. She nearly fell over as she was hit with a wave of dizziness, throwing one arm out to catch herself on the wall Hinata paused to let the feeling fade before attempting to walk. Watching the two approaching figures closely to calculate how much time she'd have, Hinata began walking towards the opposite side of the cave. It was neither an easy nor quick process and she found herself giving thanks that the abductors appeared to be in no rush.

Reaching the opposite side of the cave she quickly began to slide her fingers over the wall hoping to find something her eyes could not see, a way out. She'd only had enough time to realize she was truly sealed in before she heard a loud rumbling. Bits of rock began to fall around her as a section of the wall four feet away began to slowly shift to the side. Of course, an Earth style user she thought to herself as she deactivated her Byakugan, tuned into the men's conversation, and waited for the perfect time to strike.

"You know they only want her eyes and there are a lot of things we could do to her that won't involve her eyes one bit," said one of the men lecherously as the section of wall continued to shift. "I mean did you see that body, I can't wait to have a little fun with that."

Hinata felt her rage increase at the thought of what these men were after, not only her eyes, but the use of her body as well. She would not be at the mercy of these men; she'd rather die before letting one of them touch her.

"Gorou, I don't think we should mess with her yet. At least not until we are in a more secure location, the report from Jun said Ronin is tracking us."

Hinata could see light entering the cave from a flashlight one of them was carrying she pressed as close to the wall as possible while waiting for them both to enter the opening.

"Oi, Daichi you worry too much. Ronin tracking us, hah, the guy doesn't exist," the one going by Gorou proclaimed as he entered the cave and began to sweep the flashlight around the open space. He was a tall and pudgy man whose appearance was enough to nearly make Hinata gag, "Hey, where the hell is she?"

The other man quickly approached his side this one was short and bedraggled looking the perfect opposite to Gorou. "There's no way she could've gotten out! The dossier said she was a weak former kunoichi with no earth affinity."

Hinata finally made her move, "Palm heel strike!" She struck Gorou between his shoulder blades before bringing her leg up to kick him into his partner as hard as possible. Without checking to see the effects of her actions she turned to run out of the cave. Her byakugan had provided the layout of the network of caves and she was certain she could find her way out. That was until she was tripped by one of the men a trained kunoichi, formerly, she easily shifted into a roll that allowed her to continue her forward momentum. Her luck ran out as she heard, "Suiton: Suiben," a whip made out of water circled her neck tightly lifting her off of her feet only to slam hard onto her back. The whip continued to tighten as she struggled not only to remove the coil around her neck but to keep from being dragged back to the men.

Her vision began to blur as she desperately kicked out unable to breath. As the men approached while maintaining the tautness of the whip on her neck she viciously attempted to kick any body part not belonging to her that she could reach. Her vision began to dim and her struggles began to slow, as Daichi approached to deliver a bone shattering blow to the left side of her face. She was fading quickly as she felt the cave shudder and heard a blast.

Jerking away from the woman slightly both men seemed surprised and yet terrified at the possibilities of what could be occurring.

Daichi whispered one word in fear, "Ronin?" Suddenly the water whip loosened around her neck and she gasped desperately for air. Gorou grabbed a fistful of her hair dragging her back into the cave before resealing her in with a, "Doton: Doryūheki".

She was so weakened all she could do was lay there and cough as she desperately attempted to get her throat to work properly. The lack of oxygen had done nothing for her recovering, previously drugged body she hadn't felt so battered in years. I really need to start training again this is pathetic, she thought to herself, I can't even escape from those two.

Rocks began to rain down on and around her as the earth of the cave continued to sporadically rumble and quake. She knew without activating her byakugan that her abductors were under attack. Unless someone out there is a Hyuga they'll never know I'm here, not much of a rescue but at least I won't die having suffered the advances of those two, she shuddered thinking of what could have happened. The cave began to tremble more violently as she began to fear it would collapse on her and become her tomb. Please, let it be quick she prayed as she struggled to once again stand.

The wall of the cave began to shift again and Hinata attempted to slip into her old fighting stance prepared for the worst. Gorou rushed in and she noted he was trembling in terror, he was clearly prepared for any attack on her part as he performed a seal saying, "Doton: Rock Bullet Jutsu". A large rock slammed into Hinata throwing her into the wall behind her as her recently regained breath was forced from her lungs. Collapsing to her hands and knees she found herself once again struggling for air as Gorou approached her. He gripped a handful of her hair again attempting to drag her from the room, "Get up you bitch," he growled, "Get up! He's after you, so you'll be my ticket out of here." Before he could move her another foot a shadow fell over them. Gorou released her hair to spin abruptly towards the entrance of the cavern. Hinata finally drew in a deep breath as she looked from her position on the floor to see the most terrifying sight ever.

Standing in the entrance to the cave was Ronin, the most wanted man in all of the allied nations. Though she'd never laid eyes on this man she knew him by his renowned appearance. The trademark red pants and shirt that was such a deep red it was said the man could be covered in blood and no one would ever know. The dark, blacker than night, coat that he wore with the black mask covering his face from his neck to just below the coldest set of blue eyes she had ever seen. There was no way it could be anyone else and clearly Gorou knew it too as he tried to bolster some bravado in the face of the well-known and most skilled killer ever to be born.

Gorou performed a seal, "Doton: Doryūsō", was all Hinata heard before a sharp spear of earth rose up from the ground to impale itself through her left shoulder. She screamed out in pain as she felt the spear enter her shoulder only to exit the other side. She tried to contain her sounds of pain and focus on breaking the spear to free herself as Gorou had successfully pinned her in place.

Ronin's eyes had never left Gorou's face; he hadn't even reacted to the woman being impaled. It was as though she didn't even exist; his focus was solely on her abductor. Gorou attempted to bluff his way out of the situation, "I'm not afraid of you!" he spat at the lone man who hadn't moved a single step into the cavern. Ronin's hands hung loosely at his sides covered in fingerless black gloves, he seemed to be almost made of stone as there was no visible movement on his part.

Gorou lifted his hands to perform another seal as Hinata suddenly felt a rush of air at the same time something warm and wet splattered her right side. Glancing up with tears in her eyes Hinata saw Ronin standing to the side of Gorou whose neck now had a kunai through it. The look in Ronin's eyes hadn't changed from the cold and almost boring expression she'd seen when he first appeared at the entrance of the cave. Giving a twist to the kunai Ronin jerked it out of Gorou's neck as the dead man fell over Hinata's legs. She struggled to remove the weight and free herself from the earth spear without taking her eyes off of the intimidating figure standing over her.

He knelt down assessing her in a calculating manner before reaching out with one hand and easily crumbling the spear that had so successfully trapped her. She attempted to scramble away from him fearing he was there to kill her as Gorou had exclaimed that someone was here for her. Ronin merely stood pulling her uninjured arm over his shoulder before scooping her struggling form into his arms then striding out of the cavern. He turned right heading down an open tunnel, Hinata ceased struggling and began to wonder if this notorious killer could possibly be rescuing her. The cave began to quake violently as even more rocks and dirt began to fall than during the attack.

They turned a corner to find another man dressed all in black, "We need to hurry; you killed the Earth style user didn't you? Of course you did. The network of caves is collapsing, it was his jutsu that created them and now that he's dead. Well, I'm sure you can guess what's beginning to happen. Hey, nice piece of ass you've scooped up."

Hinata was shocked that this man was speaking so casually to the known killer as the cave literally collapsed around them with large chunks of earth falling mere feet away from them.

Ronin, without jostling Hinata at all, reached out to hit the other man upside his head and point towards the direction of the exit. The other man merely nodded before running towards the exit. Ronin placed his arm under her again before pulling her in tightly and beginning to follow his partner. Despite the fact that he was running with portions of Earth practically landing on them Hinata was never once jostled, he was careful to keep her secure and protected in his arms. Even when a large boulder forced him to stumble hard into the wall he turned to ensure his body took the brunt of the impact. Despite the danger around her, she found herself confused over the situation she seemed to be in the middle of.

Rushing out of the caverns as it finally collapsed in on itself, Hinata had to squeeze her eyes shut tightly as they adjusted to the bright light of the afternoon sun. Ronin moved to set her down near a tree as his partner approached. Hinata eyed both of the men warily not trusting they wouldn't kill her or worse rape her.

Ronin reached out to tear the material of her nightgown away from her wounded shoulder as Hinata swung her right palm forward intending to land a hit on the tenketsu points in his forearm while simultaneously deflecting a potential hit. Before she could make contact he caught her wrist holding it away from him. "Relax," he growled in a low voice, "I'm checking the wound, unless you want it to continue bleeding," he questioned her.

Hinata froze it was too much for her to comprehend that perhaps he truly did mean to provide aid to her.

"Hey lady, if you aren't dead already then he's not going to kill you. Just settle down and let us do what we can for that shoulder," Ronin's partner caught her attention from two feet behind him. Attempting to watch the both of them she gave a subtle nod that she would "settle down" as had been suggested. Ronin quickly released her wrist and continued in his original attempt to tear the material away from her should and assess the wound. She gasped in pain as he probed the wound before tearing material from the bottom of her gown to wrap around her shoulder.

"She'll live," was all the infamous assassin said before turning away from her.