The Seventh Day
A Naruto Fanfic.
By Niki (NeeP) Paradis

Disclaimer:  I wish that these were my ninjas, but they're not --I'm just borrowing them for a bit.
Note:  I wrote this while missing a good chunk of history of the Naruto manga timeline.  So if I got some details wrong, you now know why.

    It was morning and the sun was shining through the window upon two children sleeping on a single bed; one boy and one girl.  They were similar enough in appearance to be taken for twins.  A casual ninja observer peering through the window would have easily noticed that the bed was not large enough to hold the two children and that simple fact became even more obvious when the boy, who was nearest to the wall started to toss and turn, pushing the girl over the edge of the mattress.
    Shouya woke up after hitting the floor.  Naruto had managed to push her out of bed again.  She sat out with a groan.  And with a snort and a sigh she turned to face the culprit that knocked her off.  She didn't know if it was an accident or on purpose, but then she decided that she really didn't care.  She stood up, raised her hand, formed it into a fist, and brought it down hard on Naruto's head.
    It was a rude awakening for the young genin.  Despite the well known rule that a ninja is to be neither seen nor heard, he let out a huge yell and lashed out, forcing his assailant to jump back.  He glared at the blonde girl he was now forced to share his apartment with.
    "What the hell was that for?!?"
    "You knocked me out of bed, idiot!"
    "What did you expect?  This bed only sleeps one guy!  There's not enough room for both you and me, and this is my bed!"
    "So you think you had the right?!?"
    "Like I said, it is my bed..."
    Shouya then began to explain exactly how she felt about being pushed out of bed using as many choice words that she can think of. And most of the words that she used would not be considered to be proper for a young girl.  Not that she cared.  And her choice of volume insured that Naruto was able to hear her.  Naruto responded in kind.  (Mind you, the same language wasn't really appropriate for a twelve year-old boy either.)  The curses and insults went on for about twenty minutes as Naruto climbed out of bed and reached for his clothes.  Shouya grabbed hers and headed to the small washroom to change, still shouting.  There were other shouts from underneath them, demanding silence but the complaints were ignored.  Naruto and Shouya proceeded to shout at each other as they got dressed and only stopped as the last shoe was put on and their voices started to get hoarse.   Both came to the centre of the room, dressed identically.  
    Then they glared at each other for a moment, before turning to the breakfast table.  There was only one chair. After a brief tussle, Naruto claimed his prize, sitting down, and holding on tight.  Shouya snorted and headed for the cupboard and fridge.  In the cupboard she found one cup of instant ramen, a cereal box with crumbs in it, two slices of (very) stale bread and a can of beans.  The fridge held a nearly empty carton of milk, and a slightly soft apple.  She pulled out everything but the beans and put it on the table.
    Naruto looked glumly at the meagre offerings.  "There's no point in fighting over this, is there?" he asked.  Both kids thought about it momentarily.  Both imagined the food scattered all around the apartment and their stomachs growling.  
    As if on cue, the sound of stomach growling could be heard in stereo.
    "Not really," sighed Shouya.
    The food was divided between them and they both ate, Naruto sitting on the chair at the table and Shouya sitting on the floor with her back against the wall.
    "Y'know," she said with her mouth full, "Something's gotta be done about this."
    "You think?" asked Naruto sarcastically.  
    "Yeah.  We gotta have a talk with the Old Woman."  Shouya stood up, casually threw her chipped cereal bowl neatly onto the counter.  It skidded smoothly on the countertop and stopped neatly next to the sink.
    "No kidding.  What makes her think we can live together like this?!?"  Naruto aimed his plate to land next to the bowl.  "I think I can understand why they want to stick together, but..."
    "At the very least, they could've given us another bed!!!"
    "Yeah!"  Naruto then took a look at the wall clock.  "Crap!  I'm gonna be late.  I gotta get going."
    "Eep!  I gotta get to class or Iruka-sensei is gonna kill me..."
    Both ran to the old dresser.  Naruto grabbed his forehead protector, and Shouya grabbed the old goggles.
    "Hey!" he shouted.  "Those are mine!"
    "You've got your precious protector," retorted the girl.  "When I get one of my own, I won't need the goggles then."
    There was no time left to argue anyway.  They put on their respective headgear and ran out the door.

    Three young genin were waiting by the bridge.  It was a warm morning and there was hardly a breeze to stir the wind.  All three young members of Team 7 wore expressions of extreme boredom and disgust on their faces.
    "Kakashi-Sensei is late again!" exclaimed Sakura.  "Why does he always do this to us?!?  I mean, doesn't he realize just how demeaning this is for us?  I would think that our teacher should be at least a little more prompt than Naruto."  Hell, yeah! cried out Sakura's inner self.  The jerk!
    "Its nothing to get worked up about," growled Sasuke. "If he's late, he's late.  And there's not much we can do about it."
    "Aw, man! I'm starving! Do you think we may have some time to get something to eat?"  Naruto sat on the ground suddenly and rubbed his audibly growling stomach.
    "What?!?  You can't be hungry!   Didn't you have breakfast?!?" asked Sakura.
    Naruto sighed.  "Well, yeah...  Sorta...  Just not as much as usual.  There wasn't much and I hadda share with Shouya...  Man!  She eats a lot for a girl!"
    "Shouya, huh?" mused Sakura.  She recalled the rumours about a blonde girl being forced to move in with Naruto.  "What is that girl to you?  I thought you were an orphan..."
    There was a snort.  "That was tactless," muttered Sasuke.  
    The female ninja then blushed in embarrassment.  
    "I think she's one of my Harem doppelgangers come to life on her own.  It had to do with that weird artefact that me and Jiraiya found last week.  But, instead of remaining big, she shrunk to a kid, same age as me.  She even thought that she was me!"  Naruto chuckled.  "It took the Old Lady Hokage to set us both straight."
    "So, what's the story then?" asked Sasuke, curious, but trying to hide his interest in his rival's story.
    "I'm the original --as if it isn't obvious, but Shouya, she's real too now.  Real flesh and blood.  But also a real girl..."  Naruto sighed.  "It was Tsunade's idea to make us live together.  And lemme tell ya, it hasn't been easy.  Not for her and not for me."
    "I still can't believe it, a female Naruto. Seems unreal, doesn't it?"  Sakura shook her head in disbelief.
    "You think it's unnatural?  How do you think I feel..?  I mean, she's just like me!  She even thinks like me!"
    "And I thought one was bad enough," muttered Sasuke to himself, "and now there's two..."  Naruto glared at his rival.
    "Sorry that I'm late," called out Kakashi cheerfully as he finally came walking over the bridge.  "A black cat tried to cross my path and I had to take the long way around..."
    "Liar!" cried out Sakura.
    "You bastard!" shouted Naruto as he scrambled to his feet.
    Sasuke just didn't care.
    "Listen," said Kakashi. Team 7 stood at attention, knowing that it was time to get serious.  The team leader continued.  "Things are now starting to come under control but it will take some time before it really quiets down.  Until then, we will be taking more assignments and working overtime until backlog of missions is cleared and the Hidden Leaf Village comes back up in strength."
    "Hmmm," murmured Naruto to himself.  "Hey, Sensei?  If there are less ninjas than before, that means that we should be getting better missions, right?"
    "Hmmm?"  Kakashi raised an eyebrow as his blonde student came forward.
    "I mean that we might get more C rank and maybe B rank missions!  Isn't that right, Kakashi-Sensei?"  Hope was literally shining off of Naruto's face.
    "Maybe. We will have to see. But until then, there are plenty of D rank assignments to be done.  And that's what we got first."
    "Yes, Sensei!" chorused the troops.

    "Whaddya mean, class is cancelled?!?" demanded Shouya of Iruka.  Teacher and student stood alone in an otherwise empty classroom.
    "I explained this to Naruto a couple of days ago," said her teacher.  "There aren't enough trained people to cover the existing missions as it is.  But we must appear strong to the other Hidden Villages and countries. So, we can't refuse any missions.  Everyone in the Village is expected to work overtime.  Even the school instructors are expected to do missions.  So, until we manage to catch up with the list, classes are on hold."
    "But how the hell am I gonna catch up with Naruto if I can't finish my classes and graduate?!?"
    "It shouldn't be for more than a week, Shouya.  Meanwhile, you can practice.  Exams won't be delayed by that much."
    The girl looked sullen for a moment.  Then she beamed up at him.
    "Right, Iruka-Sensei.  I'll go practice.  I'm not gonna screw up like Naruto did on his exams."  She readjusted her goggles.  "I'm gonna be a better Hokage than he plans on being."
    Iruka looked down at his blonde student.  Determination and passion shone in her face under her borrowed goggles and ragged topknots.  She will do it too, he thought to himself.  Especially with Tsunade's example and Naruto's enthusiasm.  He smiled down at her.
    "I know you can do well, Shouya.  Especially if you practice."  He picked up a few last items off of his desk and placed them into his various pockets and packs.  "Tell you what.  I shouldn't be too long with this assignment.  After I am done with this particular mission, I will treat you and Naruto to some ramen.  How does that sound?"
    "Really?!?  Ramen?!?" asked the young ninja-in-training enthusiastically.  "You're on, Sensei!  You better be careful so you can keep that promise!"
    Iruka laughed.  "I'll be careful, don't you worry.  You go practice!"  He left the classroom with a cheery wave.
    "I will!" called Shouya after him.

    "Why are we stuck with this boring job?" asked Naruto in disgust, as he ripped off some leaves of a defenceless bush.  
    "The Hokage has need of some medicinal herbs for her infusions," said Kakashi.
    "Too many people are still hurting from the attack," said Sakura.  "They're depending on these herbs."  She was kneeling before her own bush, hard at work.
    "Actually, the Hokage specifically asked for us to do this particular job," said Kakashi as he supervised from behind his book.  "In fact, she wanted you for the job, Naruto."
    "Really?"  Naruto looked up from his basket.
    "Yeah.  She said that not even you could screw up this job.  She wanted to make certain that you remained out of trouble."
    "Crap..."  Naruto's hands clenched into fists.
    Sakura smirked to herself as she continued to pick leaves off of the bushes.
    "Damn that old woman!" howled Naruto.  "Who does she think she is?!?"
    "Figures that you would be the one keeping us from the good assignments," grumbled Sasuke.
    Naruto dropped the basket as he jumped to his feet.  "What did you say?!?" he shouted.
    "You heard me," growled Sasuke.
    "You two don't have time for this," interrupted Kakashi.  "The Hokage needs these herbs and Sakura has more than the two of you put together."
    The two boys glared at each other for a moment then went back to their job, each determined to out do the other.
    Sasuke finished picking the young leaves from the bush in front of him and turned to the next.  He reached over to pluck a leaf when the entire plant moved away by about ten centimetres.  He blinked and reached again.  Normally he would have suspected something right off, but Naruto was gaining on him.
    Again, the bush scurried away.
    Quickly, Sasuke jumped back, reached into his side pack and pulled out a kunai knife.  He threw it towards the bush.  The bush jumped up into air and changed.
    Shouya Uzumaki landed on the ground, grinning impishly at Sasuke.
    "Gotcha good, didn't I?" she laughed.
    Everyone stared at her.
    "What the hell are you doing here?!?" demanded Naruto of the blonde girl.
    "Well, according to Iruka-Sensei, you were told that classes were put on hold.  Why didn't you tell me that?"
    Naruto scratched at the back of his head.  "I forgot," he said sheepishly.
    "Sure you did."
    "Really, I did."
    "Shouya."  Kakashi's voice cut through the argument.
    "Yeah, what?"  She turned around to find the senior ninja standing behind her, bent at the waist, so that he was looking her in the eye.
    "Why are you here?"
    "Well, like I told Naruto, the classes have been cancelled until further notice.  I did do some practicing of some of my techniques, but then I thought that I could make myself useful, like the others of the Village.  I might not have the headband, but I know practically everything that Naruto knows.  I can do some of the missions.  So I thought that I would come and give you guys a hand."
    "Um, I see."  Kakashi closed his visible eye for a moment.  "Okay.  You grab a basket."  He proceeded to describe the type of leaf that they were looking for.  Shouya listened, then she charged to find a bush of her own.
    A three way competition between Sasuke and the Umuzaki duo began.  Each was determined to out-pick the other two.  Sakura snorted in disgust.  Shouya was just as stubborn as Naruto.  
    Most of the bushes of the immediate vicinity had been picked of all usable leaves.  There was only one bush left.  All three of the leaf-picking contestants ran towards it.  With sheer determination, they all leaped at once at the bush.
    "Wait a moment," said Kakashi as they sailed through the air.
    "That's not the same kind of plant," cried out Sakura.  
    All three crashed squarely into the centre of the bush.
    "That's a nettle," finished the pink haired ninja lamely.

    A little later...
    "What's wrong with you?" exclaimed Sakura.  "Did you really need to compete with them?"
    Shouya dunked her head under the surface of the river before replying.  "Well, I'm sick of having Naruto ahead of me.  I know pretty much everything that he does.  And I don't want to be beaten in anything by Sasuke."  She continued to scrub the nettle sap off of her forearms.  "Can you hand me my jacket?"
    Sakura gingerly handed over the orange and blue jacket.  Shouya took it from her and dunked the entire garment into the river, trying to rinse the nettle sap out of it.  She walked over to an overhanging branch and threw the jacket up over it.
    "But you're a girl.  Why are you trying so hard?"  Sakura watched as the blonde girl wringed out each topknot.
    "Because I want to be Hokage.  And for a girl to become Hokage, she's gonna hafta train harder than any boy.  She's gotta be stronger and tougher than any boy.  Look at the Old Woman.  She really strong, and she knows tonnes of stuff...  Can you hand me my pants?"  
    Sakura picked up the pair of orange pants.  She looked at Shouya, who was standing in the water.  The blonde girl was shivering a bit, because she was wearing nothing except for...  "Geez!  Don't you wear any proper underwear?!?" she shouted as she threw the pants out at Shouya.  
    Shouya pulled her pants off of her head and proceeded to rinse them.  "What do you mean?" she asked.  "Everything's clean!"
    "I can't believe this!  You really don't know what I am talking about?!?  I am talking about panties and a bra!"
    "You don't think that I should be wearing those kind of things?!?"  Shouya's blue eyes were open wide in terror.  She almost dropped her pants into the river.  
    "I can't believe that I am having this conversation with you," snorted Sakura.  "Give me your pants."  Shouya meekly handed them over.  The other girl wrung them out and hung them to dry next to the jacket.  "Now come over here and sit down.  If I have to see your hair in a mess like that for any longer, I'm going to go insane.  Hopefully I can get most of those tangles out before your clothes dry."
    "Why should I listen to you?"
    Sakura exploded.  "Come here, Shouya!"  She pointed imperiously to a patch of grass in front of her.  
    Shouya came out of the meekly water and stepped over to face her.  
    "Now, sit!"

    "You do realise that I blame you, right?" asked Sasuke as he and Naruto sat in the stream, trying to wash off the nettle sap.
    "Shut up!" snarled Naruto.  "How could this be my fault?"
    Kakashi ignore the both of them and started on the next chapter in his book.

    In the hall of the administrative building, Tsunade, the Fifth Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village, looked across the desk at the five people standing there with baskets full of leaves.  She smiled at them.  There were more than enough leaves to make the tincture to help the remaining invalids.  She looked towards each individual of the team.  Sakura wore a look of disgust and her eyes kept straying towards Shouya Uzumaki.  Shouya herself, along with Naruto and Sasuke wore a look of irritated discomfort and red spots of nettle irritation.  The team leader, Kakashi, had a look of weary indifference.  
    "Well, Team 7, I am impressed with the results of your assignment.  And I understand that Shouya helped?"
    "You bet!" enthused the blonde girl.  "I can't go to class, so I figure that I can contribute.  I wanna help!"
    "She got in the way," said Naruto.
    "I did not!"
    Tsunade look towards Kakashi.  There was a slight look of pleading in his visible eye and she gave him a small smile and a slight nod.
    "I am pleased that you could help your brother's team out, Shouya.  And your offer to help contribute at this time of need is commendable.  But there is something that I need to talk to you about and Team 7 has another assignment."
    Shouya's face fell in disappointment.  "Am I in trouble?  What did I do this time?"
    "No, Shouya.  You're not in trouble, but I need to talk to you."
    "Lady," cried out Sakura.  "If you're going to talk to Shouya, please set her straight."
    "Set her straight?"  A baffled look crossed the face of the Head Woman.
    "I mean, it's just wrong!"
    "What's 'wrong'?"
    "She's wearing boxer shorts!!!" cried out the pink hair kunoichi in disgust pointing to the blonde girl.  "It's just so wrong!"
    The elders and the other administration people started to murmur amongst themselves.  Shouya looked confused and embarrassed.  Kakashi coughed politely.
    "Geez!" muttered Shouya.  "What's the big idea that you have to tell everyone that?"
    "Tactless," muttered Sasuke.
    Sakura blushed.
    Tsunade cleared her throat to get everyone's attention.  "All right, then.  Team 7, here is your next assignment.  Kakashi, please stop by the infirmary on your way out and get the boys some salve for that nettle rash."  She passed a small scroll over the team leader.
    "Of course, Hokage," he replied.  He turned to his team.  "Let's go."
    Shouya watched as Naruto and his team left the room.
    Once the team was gone, Tsunade addressed the room.  "All right, we're going to take a fifteen minute break.  Get yourselves something cool to drink.  I am going to speak with Shouya here in private."
    The staff and the elders filed out of the room.  "Let's go to my office," she said to the young girl.
    "Right."  Shouya straightened her goggles and followed the older woman.

    Tsunade looked up and down the hallway before shutting the door.  Then she turned to face the young girl.
    "You little idiot!" exclaimed the older woman.  "What are you trying to prove?"
    "What do you mean by that?!?" shouted Shouya.  "I'm not trying to prove anything!  You know that I am just as capable as Naruto.  I don't see why I have to go to the Academy.  I know all that stuff!"
    Tsunade sighed.  "Let me guess, you want to be Hokage too.  Right?"
    "You better believe it!  If you can become Hokage, then so can I!"
    The older woman walked around her desk and sat down.  She gestured to Shouya to take a seat.  "Sit down," she said.  Reluctantly, the girl sat down in one of the visitor's chairs.
    "Since I took the position of Hokage, I have been making inquiries into Naruto's past.  His record of misdemeanours is remarkably long.  His class marks are abysmal, barely above the passing grade.  You say that you know everything that Naruto knows, but how much does he really know?  Even now?  His team mates, Sasuke and Sakura both know more than he does, especially the basic knowledge that every Hidden Leaf ninja should know.  The only thing that managed to save his ass so far is his determination to succeed."
    "Yeah, so?" asked Shouya sullenly, scratching at the rash on her cheek.
    "Because of his past performance and behaviour, people of the Hidden Leaf simply don't trust him.  Because of his past screw-ups, he has to work harder than anyone else in the village to prove himself."  Tactfully, Tsunade said nothing about the Kyubi that resided within Naruto adding to the people's mistrust.
    "And what does that have to do with me?"
    "You have only been with us for barely a week, and we're still not certain on how you came to be.  However, everyone knows that you 'came from' Naruto, and that automatically adds his reputation to yours. Also, because of the fact that you have no history, people are going to be more suspicious of you than of Naruto.  That means that you're going to have to work even harder than him in order to prove yourself."
    Shouya nodded.  She has already spent most of the last week proving to people that she was a separate entity apart from Naruto.  "I know," she said.
    "But what you have to get through your thick little skull is the fact that while you know everything that Naruto knows, and while you have the same memories, you are NOT Naruto."
    "I know that!" shouted Shouya.
    "I don't think you do.  Today, you tried to participate within Kakashi's team.  You attempted to interact with everyone as though you knew them, and don’t get me wrong, I know that you do.  But they don't know you.  They don't know Shouya Uzumaki."
    "Um."  Shouya grunted in thought.  It was true that her presence was not welcomed in the group.  She had thought at the time that it was the same discomfort that everyone has shown around Naruto, but even Naruto showed the same discomfort.
     "You have to remember that there is one big difference between you and Naruto.  You are a woman, he's not.  And I think it is about time you learn what being a woman means."  Tsunade's voice softened.  "I think it is time for you to discover who Shouya Uzumaki is as well."
    "Um..."  Shouya had no idea on how to respond to that.
    "So, to help you learn what it means to be a woman, I am going to ask Anko Mitarashi to spend the afternoon with you."
    "Who?" whimpered the blonde girl.
    "I have been told that she was the jounin who supervised the second test of the Chuunin Exam.  Surely Naruto's memories would have her in them."
    Sure enough, the memories that she shared with Naruto provided an image.  The creepy woman in the fishnet dress and the jacket.  Oh yah, it's kinda hard to forget her.
    Tsunade reached over and pulled a cord that hung just behind her desk.  A bell sounded, and a chuunin assistant came in shortly.  "Yes, Lady?" he asked.
    "Please let Anko know that I have an assignment for her."
    "Yes, Lady."  The assistant left.
    "Crap..." muttered Shouya.
    It didn't take long until the jounin arrived at the office.
    "You called for me, my Lady?" asked Anko.
    "Yes, I did.  This is Shouya Uzumaki."  
    The brown haired woman nodded towards the blonde girl.
    "I need you to take her into town and teach her about being a woman," said Tsunade.
    "Yes my Lady, I can do that."
    "Good.  But before you go, there are some other things that I need to talk to you about as well."  The Hokage then turned to girl.  "Shouya, please wait in the hall for a moment."
    "Uh, sure."  Shouya got up, walked to the door and exited.  As soon as the door closed behind her, she considered putting her ear against the door to try and listen.  But the adults walking up and down the hall with stern faces made her reconsider it.

    "Anko, thanks for doing this for me," said Tsunade as the jounin sat down.  
    "Not a problem, Hokage.  If this girl is anything like what I hear about Uzumaki, she'll need a strong hand to keep her in line."
    "Thank you."
    "Hokage, do you really want me to explain the differences between boys and girls to this kid?"
    "Actually, I do.  Shouya has no idea what it means to be a woman.  She doesn't know how to take care of her hair, or understand why a girl isn't usually so forceful.  According to her way of thinking, a girl is just a funny-shaped boy.  That kind of thinking can cause her some trouble in a year or two.  I don't just want you to tell her, I want you to beat the information into her if you have to.  If she can start thinking of herself as a girl, it would help her establish her own identity."
    "I can do that," said Anko.  "Is that everything or is there something more?"
    "There's more."  Tsunade reached into her desk and pulled out a purse.  She handed it over to the jounin.  Get Shouya whatever she needs.  As the girl from Kakashi's team had pointed out, she is definitely lacking in some of the basics.  Also, take a look around the Uzumaki apartment."  The older woman got up from her desk and started to pace around.  "Naruto Uzumaki is supposed to be the Leaf Village's responsibility, but I find that I wonder if Naruto has all of the basics.  He always had an allowance, and now he is bringing home some extra money from the missions he does.  But the allowance that a genin brings home is usually in addition to the family's income..."  Tsunade sighed.
    The special-forces jounin nodded in understanding.  "I understand, my Lady."
    "There's one more thing."  The Hokage stopped pacing and looked towards Anko, still seated in the chair.
    "Yes, my Lady?"
    "I want you to watch Shouya for any signs of the Kyubi.  The Nine-Tails may be one of the reason why Shouya came into existence.  If there's any sign of the Nine-Tails, I need to know immediately."
    "Yes, my lady."

    "I can't stop worrying about her," muttered Naruto as he looked through the bushes for another missing pet.
    "Hush, Naruto," hissed Sakura through her headset microphone.  "Who are you talking about?  The cat?"
    "No.  Shouya."  Naruto muttered as he inched around a tree.
    "Quiet down, you two," cautioned Kakashi.  "We don't want her to get away again."
    "Right," acknowledged the two genin.
    "I see it."  Sasuke's voice came over the airwaves as he dashed towards another tree.
    "Give me your position," commanded the jounin.
    Sasuke rattled off a bunch of coordinates. With the information, the team leader was able to come up with a plan.
    "Okay.  Everyone get into position now," said Kakashi's voice over the radio.
    Barely any sound was produced by the young ninja as they scurried into position.
    "Sasuke, ready."
    "Sakura, ready."
    "Naruto, ready."
    "You're late again, you idiot," whispered Sakura.
    "Go for it," commanded the team leader.
    They leaped towards their prey.
    It was quite a struggle.  Because their instructions stated that they could not harm their prey, the trio were unable to defend themselves.  However, the panther that they were sent to retrieve was not restricted by the same rules.  But through skill and determination, it didn't take too long before the panther was trussed up.  It took a lot of effort.  Everyone was panting due to the sudden exertion.
    Sakura noticed something.  "I think there's something wrong with her paw."  She knelt down and deftly pulled a four centimetre long splinter.  The huge cat immediately started to purr in relief.  "She should be fine now.  But it's no wonder why she was so mad."
    "That's great, Sakura-chan," came Naruto's muffled voice.  "Now, can you do me a favour and get her off of me?!?"

    On their way back to the village, with the panther (named 'Muffin') walking beside them, Sakura began to question Naruto.
    "Why are you so worried about Shouya?" she asked.  "By the way you acted towards her, I thought that you were anxious to get rid of her."
    "Well..." started Naruto.
    "You can't even make up your own mind?" asked Sasuke.  "Can you do anything at all?"
    "Shut up!" shouted Naruto.
    The panther started, but Sakura was quick to calm her down.  "Don’t yell," she scolded.  "I don't want to chase her down again."
    "Sorry...  It's just that she gives me the creeps at times.  I know that she can tell what I am thinking, because there are times when I can tell what she is thinking.  It's weird.  She's not bad, really.  Just too much like me, I guess.  And now the Old Woman wants to 'talk' to her.  I just keep thinking about how the old Hokage always wanted to 'talk' to me, especially when I got into trouble.  It's not like she didn't do anything wrong, she just wanted to help us, because she knew us best."  Naruto sighed.  Sakura, Sasuke and Kakashi looked at the blonde ninja in a thoughtful manner when he wasn't looking.

    A short brunette woman and a young blonde girl walked down the street.
    "So, the Hokage wants me to teach you things, huh?"
    "I guess so," said Shouya in an off-hand matter.  "She says that you gotta teach me about being a girl, so I figure that it shouldn't be too long..."
    "Not too long, huh?" asked Anko.  "Tell me then, how long do you think it's going to be?"
    "Not more than fifteen, twenty minutes tops," said Shouya confidently.  
    "Well, I can tell you a bit in that amount of time, that's true.  But I'm not going to do that."
    They stopped in the street.  "You're gonna disobey the Old Woman?" whispered Shouya in disbelief.
    "You’re not listening, kid."  Anko swatted Shouya in the back of her head.  "My assignment is to teach you about being a woman.  That's more than words.  By the time I'm done with you, there's not going to be any doubt.  You're gonna know that you’re a woman and you're gonna know what that means.  Even if I have to beat it into you.  And believe me, if it comes down to that, I am going to enjoy every minute of it."  She smiled evilly.  
    "Wonderful," muttered Shouya as she shivered.
    "So, that makes me your teacher for the day; your sensei.  That means you do as I say.  Got it?"
    "Yeah," sighed the blonde girl.
    Anko smacked her again.  "You got it wrong.  Try it again.  Do you understand?"
    "Yes, Sensei."

    The lady jounin looked around the small apartment.  She took note of the single bed and the single chair.  It wasn't the mess that she expected.  There were a couple of dirty dishes by the sink, but the place was otherwise clean.
    "You don't live here alone, do you?" asked Anko.  She already knew the answer.
    "No.  I have to share everything with Naruto.  It was Tsunade's idea to put us together, but I guess it didn't occur to her that there's not enough furniture for the both of us.  We didn't have the chance to find another bed or chair yet.  Um, why did we come here?"
    "You here to get your bath supplies.  We're going to hit the public baths."
    "What?!?"  Shouya had been sponging herself down in the washroom for the past week.  It was too small to have bathing facilities, but Naruto's memories showed that he was uncomfortable going into the public places where he wasn't welcomed.  Shouya shared that sentiment.  "But that would mean going into the women's bath."
    "You got it.  And I don't see your supplies yet."  Anko crossed her arms.  She pulled out a kunai and flashed it casually between her fingers.  "Don't make me want to use this..."
    Knowing the reputation of this particular woman, Shouya decided that it would be easiest just to do whatever she said.  She went and grabbed a basin, a very small piece of soap, a nearly empty bottle of shampoo, a washcloth and a threadbare towel.
    Anko snorted when she saw the stuff.  "You have got to be kidding me, right?"  She grabbed the basin from Shouya and dumped the contents onto the bed.  "First off, this is garbage, you can't get yourself clean with this trash.  It looks like we're gonna have to go pick up some stuff first.  Good thing that the Hokage and the elders have seen fit to give us some money, but it looks like we're gonna need more than that.  Ah, hell, we'll figure it out.  Let’s just see what else you're gonna need..."  Anko then went about the small apartment, poking through the clothes and stuff, and she grunted.  "It looks like you're gonna need everything.  Damn."
    "What do you mean, by 'everything'?" asked Shouya.
    "It's all boys' stuff in here," mutter the woman.  "Never mind, let's go.  And you can leave that basin here too.  You should have your own."
    Full of dread, Shouya followed her instructor out of the apartment.

    They were standing in a drugstore in front of a shelf full of colourful plastic containers.  Anko stood behind her young student with her arms crossed and a kunai in one hand.  
    "Choose one, but nothing too expensive," she said.
    Shouya looked at the basins and chose a nice bright red one of decent weight.  Anko nodded and led the girl to the towels.      Instead of letting the girl choose her own, Anko chose two bath towels, one blue and one green, then two smaller towels of the same colour and then two washcloths.
    "Why so many towels, Sensei?" Shouya asked.  "Why are there two sizes?"
    "I will show you the reason for the different sizes once we get to the baths.  And two sets are just better."  She shoved the bath sheets at her.  "Hold these."
    They then went to the aisle with the soap.  Anko picked up two bars and put them into Shouya's basin.  Shouya noted that they weren't the really cheap brand that Naruto always bought.  Then they were in front of the shampoo.  Anko added a large bottle of the stuff to the basin plus a bottle of something else.
    "What's that stuff?" asked Shouya.
    "Conditioner," replied her teacher.  "Believe me kid, you're gonna need the stuff."
    Shouya swallowed.  Did she really need all of this fancy stuff?
    The last of the items included a hairbrush, a wide tooth comb and some pony-tail elastics.  Anko paid for them all, making no comment except for the asking of a receipt.

    "Hey Naruto!  I just saw a female version of you walking down the street with that Anko woman!" called out Shikamaru Nara.  "You know, the examiner from the second Chuunin Exam.  What are you up to?"
    Team 7 was just coming back into the Hidden Leaf Village with a playful panther on their heels.  Shikamaru was sitting at a table outside a teashop with his team leader, Asuma, playing Shogi.  He called to Naruto as he waited for his opponent to make the next move.
    "Shouya's with that weird woman?" asked Naruto in disbelief as he walked up to the small table.  "What did she do?"
    "Whoa.  Are you telling me that the girl that looks like you isn’t you?"  Shikamaru looked sceptical, like he always had.
    "Nope.  She's kinda my sister, I guess."
    The other boy lost interest.  "Well, she must be some kind of trouble if she's with that freak of a woman," he said.
    "Hey, Shikamaru," interrupted Asuma.  "It's your turn."
    "Naruto," said Kakashi, "let's go."

    Anko and Shouya walked into the women's bath.
    "Get out of here, Naruto!" shouted one of the women within.  She picked up a basin and hurled it towards the blonde girl with deadly accuracy.  But Anko caught it.
    "Ladies," she said.  "This is Shouya Uzumaki.  She is under my care by the orders of the Hokage."
    "Are you certain?" asked another woman.  "This could be Naruto disguised as a girl again."
    "Do you think that the Hokage is dumb enough to fall for a stupid prank like that?!?" exclaimed the jounin.
    "I guess not," said the same woman.
    "Good of you to say that," retorted Anko.  "Alright Shouya, set your stuff down and get into the bath now."
    Shouya froze.  
    "Well?" asked Anko.
    "But, they're women," said the young girl faintly.
    "Well, yeah.  But so are you.  So get your clothes off and get into the bath."  The brown hair woman started to remove her coat and dress.  Soon she was undressed and standing before Shouya who was still fully dressed.  "Do you think you need help?" asked Anko as she pulled a kunai out of her hair and laid it against Shouya's jacket's collar.  "I can cut this off of you if you're having trouble."
    "Um, no," whispered the young girl as she started to remove her jacket.  Very slowly, she undressed without looking at anyone and blushing all the while.  Once she was undressed, she quickly stepped into the bath.  Soon she was standing waist deep in the water.  She was blushing harder as the women stared at her.  Ignoring the girl's embarrassment, Anko grabbed her by a topknot and dragged her towards her.
    "First off, you're gonna learn how to wash your hair."

    Tsunade looked at the medical reports from a week before, when Iruka and Naruto brought Shouya into the Village.  She was found at the gate, completely naked, save for the scorch marks that were on the palm of her hands.  According to the medic who examined the then unnamed girl, she was a perfectly healthy human girl and she was perfectly normal --except for the fact that she thought that she was a boy.  A particular boy, in fact.  The strange blonde girl thought she was Naruto Uzumaki.  It took a bit of work on the part of many to convince the young girl that she was indeed, not a boy.  
    Naruto and the strange girl took an almost instant dislike for one another.  But in a strange way, they understood each other perfectly.  Although Naruto was angry with the girl for taking his other suit of clothes, he understood the reason why the girl would do so.  He knew that she would be most comfortable in something familiar.
    Iruka had the honour of naming the wild young girl.  He was treating the both of them to some ramen.  At the time, he had figured that the fastest way to get these two to make peace with one another was through their stomachs.  If they're mouths were full, it would be easier to negotiate the peace between the two.  It would have been a good idea, if the two weren't wolfing their food down so quickly.  As soon as they swallowed, they would start shouting at each other again.  And while the two were fighting over the fishcakes and soy sauce, he just came up with the name 'Shouya'.  To him, it seemed to fit her very well.  
    When the two were presented to her later that afternoon, Tsunade decreed that they would share the same family name and apartment.  The Fifth Hokage knew that the two youngsters would not immediately recognise the favour that she was doing them by forcing them together.
    Even today, it was obvious that they still couldn't see the advantage that they both now had.  Hopefully, it shouldn't take much longer.  If it did, she could probably get Iruka to explain everything to the both of them, that is, once he got back from his mission.

    Anko looked at the mess that sat on top of Shouya's head.  There was no possible way to salvage the hair elastics that were tangled in the blonde mass without sacrificing a lot of hair.  So she settled for cutting the elastics out with her kunai.  Once the pieces of rubber were removed from the head of her pupil, Anko shoved the blonde head under the surface of the water.
    Shouya came up sputtering.  "What the Hell do you think you're doing?!?" she yelled.
    "Hair should be completely soaked before you apply the shampoo.  Don't you know that?"  Anko shoved the girl towards the steps of the bath.  "Now go wash your hair."
    Reluctantly, Shouya stepped out of the bath and stumbled towards one of the stools where her basin and shampoo sat.  She picked the large green towel that her teacher had purchased for her and wrapped it around herself.  She felt very self conscious as she felt the eyes of practically every single woman upon her.  She sighed.  She felt uncomfortable with looking at herself as well.  Under the towel was a body she was not familiar with at all.  It was more slender than anything that she could remember and it was missing the familiar parts that she would have as a boy.  She sat down on the stool and sighed.  She knew that the body was correct for a girl.  Naruto did do his research for his Sexy Jutsu skill, and that included anatomy books as well as nudie magazines and spying in the women's bath.  He had to emulate a woman accurately to be believable.  She picked up the large bottle of shampoo and squirted a bit into her hand.
    "You'll need more than that, Shouya," called out her sensei, who was relaxing in the bath.  "You have a lot of hair to wash."
    Shouya snorted and filled her hand with about one fifth of the one litre bottle's contents.  She figured that would be more than plenty for her hair --she couldn't possibly need that much.  It should be enough to piss Anko off.  It was time to start pulling on her teacher's chain, so to speak.  "Is this gonna be enough, Sensei?" she asked innocently.
    Anko was unruffled.  "Yeah, that should do it, especially for this first time.  Tomorrow, you shouldn't need nearly as much."
    The young girl was applying the goop to her hair.  "Tomorrow?" she asked with her eyes wide.  "I gotta do this again tomorrow?!?"  Some of the shampoo got into her eyes and began to sting.  She grimaced from the sudden pain.
    The jounin looked thoughtful.  "Well, maybe you'll be fine to leave it until the day after.  You're probably young enough.  But you got too much hair to leave it for any longer than that."  She looked hard at Shouya.  "Scrub harder.  Remember you were stuck in a nettle bush today.  You don't want to leave that in your hair."
    Shouya scrubbed at her scalp harder.  She considered cutting her hair.  She always thought that long hair looked sexy, but she wasn't aware that long hair takes so much damn work.  She filled her basin with warm water from the tap in front of her and dumped it over her head, being careful not to get her towel wet.  There were still suds in her hair, so she poured another basin full of water onto her head.  She had to repeat the process one more time before all of the suds were gone from her hair.  Relieved, she began to wring the water from it.
    "Once you get the water out of your hair, use the conditioner.  You're gonna need quite a bit," said Anko.  
    Shouya groaned.

    "What did Shouya do to deserve such a punishment?" muttered Naruto, as the team stopped to eat their lunch.  "I mean, she didn't have enough time to do anything outstanding enough to be thrown to that crazy woman."
    "Shut up, Naruto," snapped Sakura.  "Shouya's fine."
    "The Hokage wouldn't do anything that would harm her," commented Kakashi.  
    "I know that the Old Woman means well," said the blonde genin.  "But I just don't trust that woman.  She likes to hurt people."
    "It's just a bad reputation," said the team leader as he turned the page in his novel.  "You're overreacting."
    "I thought you were hungry," said Sasuke.  "You better eat so I don't have to bail you out later because you were too weak to take care of yourself."
    Naruto replied by viciously stuffing a rice ball into his mouth.  But it didn't stop the worrying.

    "No!" shouted Anko.  "You're still doing it wrong!"  She smacked Shouya in the head with a rolled up magazine.  "Try it again!"
    Both women were still in the bathhouse, now fully dressed.  They were sitting on the short stools while Shouya tried to figure out the complicated procedure that Anko was determined that she should learn.  The other women of the bathhouse watched them in amusement.
    Carefully, Shouya removed the ponytail elastics from her hair again.  This was the eleventh time that she had attempted to put her hair into topknots, and the eleventh time that the evil teacher had smacked her in the head for doing it wrong.  "Why don’t I just cut it short?" she finally asked.
    The other women in the bathhouse gasped.  
    "Don't you even think about it!" exclaimed on middle aged mother.  "Don’t you understand?  Most women would kill to have hair like yours."
    A younger woman with short cropped hair nodded fervently.  "And they would kill you if you tried to cut such wonderful hair."
    "Really?" asked Shouya as she tackled her hair again with the brush.  
    "Really," said Anko.  "So, you're gonna learn to take care of it.  And you're gonna learn how to put it up yourself."  She crossed her arms, still holding the magazine at the ready.  "Now let's take it from the top."
    Women are really weird, Shouya decided to herself.  And I am supposed to be one of 'em...  She sighed.

    After she had proven that she could put her hair up in a reasonable amount of time, Shouya followed Anko out of the bathhouse.  They had left their bathing supplies with the bathhouse attendant, promising to pick them up in a couple of hours.      On their way down the street, the short brunette stopped a messenger carrying a bunch of scrolls to the mountain palace.  
    "Take this to the Hokage," she said to him.  "She will be expecting this."
    "Yes ma'am."  The young man gave Anko a smart nod of his head and continued on his way.
    "What's that all about?" asked Shouya straining her head to watch the messenger continue down the street.
    "Don't you worry about it, kid," replied Anko.  "We've got one more place to go," she said as she held open a door.  "Let's go in."
    Shouya preceded her sensei into the air-conditioned store then realised exactly where she was.  Shelves and racks of silky looking items were before her.  She tried to back out of the store but ended up backing into her teacher.  With a firm grip on the young girl's collar, she dragged her further into the lingerie store.

    Tsunade looked at the slip of paper brought to her by messenger.  She quickly read Anko's suggestions.  Some of the recommendations written down were reasonable to the Hokage and so were some of the warnings.  She was pleased at the fact that the jounin has yet to report any sighting of the demon-fox within Shouya, but she also knew that relief would be premature.  Actual sightings of the Kyubi within Naruto was far and between, but the presence was there, everyone knew it.
    She looked again at Anko's writing, and smiled.  Not everyone is going to be happy with the suggestions, but it should be the best solution all round.  She left her office to find the elders and tell them what she was going to do.

    Naruto had a half hour break.  He decided that he would use the time to find out what was going on with Shouya and that scary exams woman.  Not that he really cared about her, he told himself, but because he knew that whatever happens to Shouya would probably affect him too.  He wasn't sure how, but somehow it would.  Whatever the actual reason, he just hadda find Shouya.
    He asked around the Village.  Apparently, the jounin and her student were both seen at the drugstore, the women's bathhouse and then going into a lingerie store.  When he heard about that, he was shocked.  He honestly couldn't see why Shouya would have anything to with a lingerie store --he sure the hell wouldn't have a reason.  Really!   
    He raced to the shop, stopped and looked through the front glass door.  He couldn't see too much as the interior was dimmer than the outside.  He took a quick couple of breaths to steady his nerves then pushed the door open and stepped inside.  
    The door chimes tinkled and a matronly woman was coming towards him.  "Don't you think you're in the wrong store, young man?" she asked acidly.  
    "Shouya!" gasped Naruto as his senses reeled from the sight of too many lacy things.  "Where’s Shouya?  C'mon, you gotta know what she looks like!  Like me, only she's a girl!"
    "Listen, young man," scolded the woman.  "You just can't dash in here and look for people!  It's rude, inconsiderate and simply NOT DONE!"
    Naruto was trying to think of a way to explain his situation when he heard a hysterical voice call out.
    "You can't do this to me!!!  Let me outta here!!!"  That was Shouya's voice all right.
    "Something's happen to Shouya, did it?!?" asked Naruto hysterically.  "And it's gonna happen to me next, ain't it?!?  That woman did something to her, didn't she?!?"  The young ninja dashed towards the sound of the voice and pushed his way through some other sales women until he made his way into a small room.  In the centre of the room stood Shouya, wearing nothing but a bra and a pair of panties.
    Without the obvious things that should be running through his mind, Naruto stopped and stared.  Shouya had noticed him and stared back then started to swear at him.  "Get out, Naruto!  I don't want you to see me like this!" she shouted. She threw a stool at him, but Anko managed to catch it before any serious damage to the shop displays could be done.  
    The jounin then casually reached out and snagged Naruto by the collar of his jacket.  "What are you doing here, Uzumaki?" she asked him as she pulled a kunai out of her pocket.
    The young genin struggled in the woman's grasp.  "What are you doing to Shouya, you bitch?!?  Quit torturing her!  Why can't you just leave her alone?!?"
    Then, just when he was certain that Anko was about to scream at him, or tear his head off, she just started to laugh.  The laughter started low, then it increased in pitch and volume until the jounin bent over double with tears in her eyes.  "Y-you thought th-that I was t-t-torturing her?!?" she gasped.  "That's j-just too much!!!"  She laughed for a few minutes more, with Naruto getting red in the face and Shouya trying to do a disappearing act.  
    "What's so funny?!?" demanded Naruto finally when he thought he would be able to get a word in through all of the laughter.
    Anko got a hold on herself before replying.  "The Hokage has instructed to take Shouya out and teach her about being a woman.  We're here, because undergarments are a part of it."
    "Oh.  Um..."  Naruto didn't know what to say.  He looked to Shouya, who had put on her jacket to hide the underwear from view.  She looked almost vulnerable, and it was obvious that she was miserable.  Something within the blonde boy began to burn.  He pulled himself free from Anko's grip and turned to face her.
    "Listen," he said.  "If it's the Old Woman's idea to teach Shouya to be a girl, that's fine.  I can live with that.  But if you do anything to harm her..."  Naruto's eyes glowed red for a brief moment.  "I will make certain that you'll regret it."  He turned around and marched straight out of the shop.
    Anko snorted.  Despite the sudden and immense increase of chakra she felt, she knew that she couldn't afford to show any indication that she knew that she was in terrible danger for that brief second.  There was no doubt that the Nine-Tails did indeed reside in Naruto, but the seal held it in check for now.  Though it now seemed obvious that certain situations would bring out the power of the demon from within.
    She turned back to Shouya.  "Take that jacket off, kid," she said.  "We need to know how well that brassier fits you."
    The young girl growled as she complied with her teacher's instructions.  "What was that all about?" she muttered to herself.
    "Today, Uzumaki," drawled the brunette.  "There's still more to go."
    "I hate this," said Shouya plaintively.  "I feel ridiculous."
    "Um," murmured Anko as she reached over and adjusted the girl's strap.  "This one seems to fit all right."  She turned to the sales woman who held a few more samples.  "What do you think?" she asked of her.
    "I think that is the best one yet," said the woman enthusiastically.  "It flatters her so nicely."
    "What do you think, kid?" Anko asked Shouya.
    Shouya looked in the three-way mirror.  She saw herself in girl's underwear, and grimaced.  I feel so... so... girly, she thought to herself.  The items themselves weren't ugly and she was sure they would look great on a girl.  But they were on her, and...  they look good on her.  But if she was required to wear them, that only meant one thing...
    "I really am a girl, aren't I?" she sighed.  Not a boy stuck in a girl's body, but an actual honest to goodness girl.  
    "Yes, it's true," said Anko softly.  "But you say it like it's a bad thing.  Women are strong.  You already knew that, right?"
    "Yeah, I guess so."  Now she looked again in the mirror.  True enough, she didn't look like a boy at all.  She wasn't ugly or hideous.  In fact, she looked kinda... pretty.  It was a weird feeling for her.  She didn't know what to do with how she felt.  Her only choice was acceptance.  But part of her wanted to rebel anyway.  "Okay, you win!" she shouted.  "But there's no way in Hell that you’re ever gonna get me into a dress!!!"

    First thing Sakura noticed was how distracted Naruto was.  He didn't call out to her like he usually did.  He just sat on the rail of the bridge and stared down into the water.  In fact, he didn't noticed either her or Sasuke as they came up to him.  
    "Naruto?" she asked in a singsong, trying to catch his attention.
    "Oh, hi Sakura-chan," said the blonde genin, not even looking up.  The pink haired kunoichi looked towards Sasuke and shrugged.  
    Sasuke lifted his arm and punched Naruto hard in the shoulder.  "Pay attention to your surroundings," he said.  "Otherwise, you're going to be a liability."
    "Yeah, whatever..."  
    Sasuke was surprised, usually he got a different type of response whenever he made that kind of comment to Naruto.  But nothing happened.
    "Naruto," said Sakura.  "What's wrong with you?"
    The blonde boy finally looked up at his team-mates.  "I went to look for Shouya during the break..."
    "Yeah, so?"  Sasuke crossed his arms.
    "I found her.  She was in a... shop."  He sighed.  "That Anko woman was making her put on um, uh..."  He gestured to Sakura's chest briefly and dropped his hands.  "Uh, girl stuff," he said lamely.  "I saw her..."
    The meaning of what her blonde team-mate was trying to say was not lost on Sakura.  "You were looking at her while she was trying on underwear?!?"  She raised her fist to bring down on Naruto's head.
    "Yeah...  Wait!  Sakura-chan!  It wasn't like that!"  Naruto waved his arms as he tried to figure out what he was going to say next.  "I didn't know she was gonna be like that!"  He swallowed and sighed.  "It's..."
    Sakura lowered her arm.  "What is it?" she said softly.
    "It's just that I have never really seen her.  Since Iruka-Sensei and me brought her to the Village last week, I have never really seen her.  I know that she's a girl, but I have never really thought of her as one...  Y'know, a girl. I've been thinking of her as just someone that has been forced into my life, but I just saw her, upset because of what that Anko woman was making her do."
    "And?" prompted the female shinobi.
    "And I threatened the woman!  I told her that if she harmed Shouya, I was gonna make her regret it!  I don't know why I did that..."
    "Do you still mean it?"
    "Yeah, that's the funny thing.  I do."
    Sakura nodded to herself while she thought about what Naruto said.  "And can't you figure out why?"
    "Naruto, you idiot," said Sasuke finally.  "You're luckier than you know."
    Naruto was about to ask what he meant, but Kakashi came walking up to them.  "Sorry that I'm late again.  It took longer than I thought to cook my meal of sashimi*."
    Groans escaped from all three students.
    "Oh, come on now!" growled Sakura.  "You truly don't expect us to fall for that one, do you?"
    Naruto and Sasuke looked at each other while huge sweat drops formed on their heads.  They both knew that there's no point in arguing about their teacher's excuses.  Kakashi just didn't care what they thought.
    "We have one more assignment before we can call it a day," said the leader of Team 7.
    Naruto put his worries of Shouya out of his mind as he concentrated on the particulars of the latest mission.

    It was close to evening when Anko finally took Shouya back to the administration offices.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with the brunette explaining to her young student about  other womanly things, while snacking on tako-balls.  She explained about puberty, the changes that the young girl can expect and the monthly hell that all women experience once they hit a certain age.  She explained the various reasons why some women spend so much time fussing about make-up, dresses, nylons and the rest.  Anko also explained about the certain way that a woman is expected to talk, but did mention that she personally had no problem with the way Shouya spoke, except for the lack of respect to her teachers.
Tsunade welcomed them both into her office.    She looked at Shouya, who seemed a bit tired, and at Anko who also appeared to be tired, but she also had a look of triumph.  
    "So ladies, how was your day?" she decided to ask anyway, as the two sat down.
    "Tiring," said the Jounin.  "But I think we made a great deal of progress."
    Shouya squirmed in her chair.  She reached into her jacket and tugged a bit on something inside.  Anko looked at her for a moment.
    "I thought we got it to fit right," she said critically.  "Is it bothering you?"
    Shouya blushed as she took her hand out.  "No, Sensei.  It fits all right.  It's just not something I have ever worn before."  
    "How are you feeling, Shouya?" asked the Hokage.
    "All right, I guess," said the blonde girl.  "It's just kinda strange having to think of myself as a girl.  I'm skinnier than Naruto and I don't have uh, certain things, and I have gotten other certain things..."  She blushed.  "But I saw a girl in the mirror at the shop, and as a girl, I guess I look okay."  Shouya then grinned at the two women from under her goggles.  "And I betcha that my chest is bigger than Sakura's."

    Naruto checked on his funds within his little frog purse.  Since he received his earnings from a weeks worth of missions, he now had enough funds to go get some groceries.  He wanted to hurry and get the shopping done and over with.  He wanted to get home and tell Shouya about his day.  He wanted to tell her about the panther, the missing item of jewellery and how they had to fight actual bandits for it!  And he wanted to tell her...
    He stopped in the middle of the street.  Why was he so anxious to go home where Shouya was probably waiting?  He had to think things through.  It's been a week since the Old Woman has forced him and the girl to share the apartment.  Every night since, he would go home and Shouya would be there.  They would argue, fight, argue some more and even talk.  It wasn't the same as before where he would go home to be by himself.  Now there was always someone at home expecting him...  He started as the proverbial light bulb flashed in his head.  He laughed in joy and then started to run.

    Shouya was walking home after being dismissed from the Hokage's office.  It had been an extremely weird kinda day.  She just wanted to go to the grocer's, grab some food, and go home.  She pulled out her allowance from her pants' pocket.  She had yet to buy herself a purse to keep her money in.  But if she carefully saved some money from each allowance day, she could probably buy one within a month.  
    She wanted to tell Naruto about her day, but she seriously doubted that he would understand.  Well, not everything anyway...  But there were some things that she just had to tell him.  She wanted to see his face when she told him that her chest was bigger than Sakura's.   
    She stopped.  Why did she want to see Naruto?  He had called her a nuisance and they always fought over something or another.  But she recalled the scene in the lingerie shop.  He wanted to protect her from Anko-Sensei.  That was very brave of him, she thought.  She found the concept of having to be protected very uncomfortable, but then she suddenly realised that if Naruto was in trouble, she would do anything within her power to help him out.  But she had to figure out why she felt like that.  
    The Old Woman, Tsunade said that she had put her and Naruto together for a reason.  The name Uzumaki was assigned to her, so now Naruto was no longer the only member of that particular clan.  
    Her eyes opened wide in sudden realisation.  There were now two Uzumakis.  She laughed joyfully.

    The two ran into each other in the grocery store.  Literally.  Cups of instant ramen flew everywhere.  Both kids sat sprawled on the floor staring at each other.  Naruto stared at Shouya --she looked different to him somehow.  Shouya stared at Naruto --he was looking at her differently.
    "Hey," said Naruto neutrally.  "How's it going?"
    "Not too bad," replied Shouya.  "How are you?"
    The two looked at each other again.  
    The store-keeper yelled from the front.  "Hurry up, you two!  I've got to close up!"
    "Hang on!" shouted Naruto.
    "Just a minute!" yelled Shouya.
    The two looked at each other again.  Naruto looked in their baskets.
    "You got your allowance today, huh?"
    "Yeah," nodded Shouya.  "Hey, you got milk in your basket too.  We only need one, right?"
    "Today, already!" shouted the store-keeper.  "I don't have all night, Naruto!"
    "Keep your pants on!  We gotta figure this out."
    Shouya looked at the two baskets.  "How 'bout you get the milk, I get the eggs..."  They got their separate lists quickly figured out and they went to get what was needed.  Soon, the two of them were finally at the counter.
    "Yay," said the older man.  "Does this mean that I can finally go home?"
    "After we pay for our stuff, old man," agreed Naruto.
    With their hands full of groceries, the two kids walked home.  Naruto was explaining Kakashi's lame excuse of being late that afternoon.
    "Cooking sashimi?" asked Shouya in disbelief.  "You're kidding, right?"
    "Nope!"  Naruto laughed.  
    "What an idiot!" Shouya joined in with the laughter.  Then she looked up towards their apartment.  She stopped laughing.
    "What is it?"
    "I remember turning off the lights after Anko-Sensei and I left home.  But they're on now."
    With their arms full of food, the two ran up the stairs and into their apartment.

    They entered their apartment and into a nasty surprise.  The apartment was a mess.  It might have been more so if Naruto only had more stuff.  But the boy didn't own very much and Shouya had even less.  But the mess that they did walk into was bad enough.  Naruto's and Shouya's school books were scattered all over the main room.  Some of them had pages ripped out.  They set their groceries down just inside the door and started to determine what kind of damaged they have come home to.
    They started with the kitchen.  The fridge door and the cupboards were wide left open, with what little left of the food scattered all over.  The dishes were all broken and the few canisters were spilled on the counter-top.  There was a second chair by the kitchen table, but it had been tipped over, just like the first one.  Drawers were emptied out onto the floor, scattering silverware.
    "What the Hell?!?" growled Naruto, as Shouya dashed to check the bedroom.  
    She was surprised to find a second bed in the room, and it looked like someone has gone out of their way to trash it.  Naruto's bed wasn't much better.  Naruto's dresser drawers were dumped on the floor and his clothes were all over the place.  There was another dresser as well and its emptied drawers were on the floor as well.  "What's going on?!?" she demanded to the air.

    Anko walked to the top of the stairs, carrying Shouya's bath supplies and underwear purchases.  She knew that the Uzumaki kids would be surprised to see her, but that was one of the reasons she wanted to sneak up on them.  A little scare was good for the soul and so was the paranoia that was sure to follow.  She noticed that the door to the apartment was open and she knew that someone was home, but as she approached the doorway, she noticed the signs of forced entry.  She walked into a disaster area.  She tensed up as she felt the chakra of the two kids, and that of someone else.
    Quietly, she put down Shouya's stuff and crept stealthily to the washroom.  The door was closed.  Carefully and quietly, she put her hand on the doorknob, turned it slowly and waited.  With an evil little smile, she slammed the door open.
    Naruto and Shouya both came running when they heard the scream.  They saw Anko wrestling with a huge burly hairy man.  
    "What's going on, Sensei?" asked Shouya of her teacher.
    "I caught one of your intruders," she said as she lovingly kneed the big man in the groin.  He gasped with a squeak and fell unconscious.  
    Naruto stared at the unconscious man.  "Hey," he said with a slight growl.  "That's one of the bandits that we had to deal with today.  He's one of the guys who got away."
    "What do you mean?" asked Anko as riffled through the pockets of her victim.
    "Our last mission was to go find a diamond necklace that had been stolen from a noble-lady.  Four guys had it and they didn't want to give it up.  I managed to knock out one guy and Sasuke got the other and Sakura-chan managed to get the necklace.  But the guy with the necklace hadda gas bomb and he used it and got away while we were gagging on the gunk.  We didn't know where that guy and his buddy went to.  Kakashi-Sensei thought that they escaped by boat down a river that was close by.  But they were scared and we had the necklace, so Sensei thought it would be best to just come back to the village."
    Anko nodded.  "Yeah, no one in their right mind would try to enter a known ninja village."  She stood back up.  There was nothing identifying within the pockets of the unconscious man.
    "Or maybe the meathead didn't know it was a ninja village," suggested Shouya.  We're the Hidden Leaf Village.  Not everyone knows where we are."
    The three ninja looked at each other.
    "Wait a minute," said Anko.  "Naruto, you said that there were two that got away, right?"
    "Yeah..."  His eyes opened wide as he realized what the jounin was implying.
    Anko reached into her pack.  "Be alert you two, I think we're missing someone."
    The two kids pulled out their kunai as Anko quickly searched the rest of the apartment.  But she couldn't find anyone else within.  She didn't trust that, her gut was telling her that there was someone else nearby.
    There was a sudden movement by the door and a blur of motion headed towards the kids.  Anko tried to intercept it but she wasn't fast enough to prevent a tall stranger from grabbing Naruto and placing a kunai of his own to the boy's throat.
    Missing-nin, mused Anko, as she looked at the intruder.  But there was no identifying item or mark to determine what village or country he came from.  The ninja was completely covered from head to foot in black, hiding his features from her.      She looked to Naruto to determine whether he was all right.  The boy wasn't scared at all.  He simply looked pissed off.  She couldn't blame him.
    "So, here's one of the little shits that took out my partners," he growled as he dragged his hostage away from Shouya.  "And he's just a little boy."  They strange ninja felt the boy trembling in his arm.  Mistaking the tremors of anger for fear, the tall man taunted him.  "What's wrong, little boy?  Does the big bad ninja frighten you?"
    "Go to Hell," snarled Naruto, and he bit on his captor's arm, hard.  
With a snarl, the strange ninja threw Naruto away from him.    Anko dashed in to take him out but whoever he was, he was skilled enough to block her attacks.
    Naruto rolled with the fall, and got back up onto his feet.  He watched as the two adults struggled, and looked for an opening.
    "Are you, okay?" asked Shouya.  
    Naruto nodded.
    Anko and the stranger leaped back from each other to reassess each other.  
    "What do you want?" demanded the woman.
    "This little shit and his buddies took something from me today," replied the strange ninja.
    "The necklace?" asked Shouya.  
    "Yes.  My companions and I were promised a handsome sum to bring in that necklace, and I mean to get it.  Since the yellow haired brat took it, I thought that I could track it down to where he took it.  The information that I managed to find was that he lived here.  But the necklace isn't here."
    "Of course not," snorted Anko in disdain.  "The necklace has been already returned to its owner.  Why would you think that a kid would have it?"
    Naruto trembled in anger.  "You tore my home apart, looking for something like that?!?" he snarled.  "You asshole!  You're gonna pay for that!"  He then took that moment to attack the strange ninja.  He leapt at the tall missing-nin with kunai in hand.  
    "Naruto, no!" shouted Anko.  "He's stronger than he looks."
    But the boy wasn't listening.  He tried to get in a few kicks at the tall man's head.  But every single one of them were dodged easily.
    Shouya was waiting for her turn to attack when she saw the tall ninja reach out with his kunai and slashed Naruto across the face.
    Then he belted the boy hard in the face, while he was blinded by the blood.  Naruto fell hard to the ground, dazed and confused.
    Shouya's world stopped.
    "YOU BASTARD!!!" she shouted at him.  
    "Oh?" asked the strange ninja.  "The little girl is starting to cry?  What's this boy to you, little girl?"
    Anko felt the girl's chakra blaze up around her.  There was an odd evil feel to it.
    Shouya's blue eyes glowed red as she snarled, "He's my brother, you asshole!"  Then the suddenly feral girl charged at the taller man, faster than Anko thought possible.  With a kunai in each hand, she went at the unprepared ninja like a buzzsaw.  
    The brown haired woman could only watch, realising that she did not dare get in between a demon-possessed child and her prey.  Instead she went to check on Naruto who was trying to get up.  
    "Hold still," she commanded.  "Let me check."  Quickly, she examined the boy's face.  Despite of the amount of blood, there was no deep cut.  There was a shallow one across the bridge of Naruto's nose, but that was already scabbing up.  She realised that the power of the Kyubi was protecting him.  

    Kakashi was a little concerned.  He was on his way to discretely check up on Naruto.  The genin had been distracted during the last mission that day.  Even though 'distracted' was a common state of being for Naruto, he was more so than usual.  Not that the boy didn't try to keep his mind on the mission, he conceded .  But during the search, it was obvious that Naruto's mind was wandering.  The jounin knew that it had something to do with Shouya.   
    He was approaching the building that Uzumaki's apartment was in and he heard the not-quite-muffled sounds of fighting.  It didn't sound like a sibling squabble, so he started to run.  Then he felt the build up of an evil feeling chakra.  He stopped to identify it.  At first, he thought it was Naruto, but he realised with a shock that it was subtly different, and a bit weaker.  He started to run again.  He noticed that other people were poking their heads out of their windows and stopping in the streets.  The chakra was so strong that even people not trained in the ways of ninjitsu could feel it.  And Kakashi knew that it wouldn't be long before it was identified by the people who were trained as ninjas.  He had to stop it before the Village ended up with another reason to persecute the Uzumaki kids.

    Naruto was still dazed and unaware and Anko could only watch as Shouya went after the intruder.  The girl has since lost her kunai and was attacking the tall man with her bare hands.  The stranger was mostly successful in fending off Shouya's attacks, but he was starting to tire out, whereas Shouya's energy seemed limitless.  The girl was forcing her opponent towards the balcony --even in her berserker rage, she seemed to have a plan.  
    Anko reached over to the pile of bath supplies she brought up to the apartment.  She briskly knocked the other intruder back into unconsciousness as she did so.  She grabbed the still damp washcloth and brought it to Naruto's face, trying to clean some of the blood off.  She never took her eyes off the progress of the fight.  
    Kakashi came in through the window, just as Shouya forced the stranger onto the balcony.  He quickly took note of the unconscious man on the floor, Naruto's still bloody face and the watchfulness of Anko.  He heard the shrieks of Shouya as she attacked the other intruder.
    He went cautiously to the doorway of the balcony to watch the battle.  
    "You shithead!" screamed Shouya as she tried to rake at the tall man's mask.  "You're gonna die!"  
    Kakashi turned to Anko.  "Why aren't you stopping her?" he asked.  "If you let her kill him, we won't be able to get any answers."
    The female ninja glared at him.  "Don't you tell me my job, Kakashi.  The Hokage wants me to observe her for signs of the Demon Fox."
    "Well, I think you can safely report to the Hokage that Shouya has indeed been showing signs of the Kyubi.  Now if you would excuse me, I think I should go stop her."  He called out to the wild girl. "Shouya, that's enough!  We need him alive."
    Shouya had the intruder bent over backwards over the balcony railing.  Both the girl and the intruder were panting with exertion.  However Shouya had the energy of the Demon Fox to sustain her, her opponent did not.  Another few seconds, and the fight would be over with the stranger going over the edge.
    But then Kakashi's command reached her.  As the Kyubi's chakra quickly dissipated, Shouya managed to catch the mask and rip it free.  The landed back on the balcony and then got her first look at the intruder.  The face underneath was surprisingly smooth and handsome.  Shouya could not place the face, but she was certain that she had seen it before.
    The young man had grey eyes and a disarming grin.  The evening breeze blew threw his short brown hair.  With Shouya's pause he found an opportunity.  "You're master's calling you, young bitch.  Go heed him.  I will have to come back to the village some other night."  With that as his final departing words, the young man disappeared in a puff of smoke.
    Kakashi was out on the balcony in a flash, searching for some trace of the intruder.  He jumped up onto the roof and searched around for clues.  He didn't find any.  He re-entered the apartment.  Naruto was just coming to his senses and Anko was tying up the other intruder.
    "How is he?" asked Kakashi as he bent down to look at his blonde charge.
    "Kakashi-Sensei?" asked Naruto with a moan.  "Did you get that guy?"
    "Nope," said the pale haired man.  He turned to Anko.  "Did you recognise him?"
    "Not at all," said the brunette.  "Never seen him before in my life.  But it's obvious that he's more than a thief."
    "Yeah."  Kakashi nodded and looked towards Shouya who was coming in from off the balcony.  She seemed a little dazed, but there was no further sign of the Kyubi within her.
    "How about you, Shouya?" asked Anko.  "Did you recognise that guy?"
    "I dunno...  I think I have seen him, but I can't remember where..."
    "Try and remember," said Kakashi.  "It’s important."
    "Right, Sensei."
    "Meanwhile, I am going to take this guy into custody and make a report of this incident," said Kakashi.  "I will see you bright and early tomorrow, Naruto."
    "Yeah, right," muttered the boy.  "Like you're gonna be there on time..."
    "See ya."  Kakashi grabbed the collar of the trussed-up thug and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
    "Bastard," muttered Anko.  "He just didn't want to help out with cleaning up."
    Both kids nodded in agreement.
    "Hey, Sensei?" asked Shouya suddenly.  "What's with the other furniture?"
    "Oh, that?  That was the Hokage's idea.  She wanted me to find out what you guys needed and pass the info to her.  She the one who arranged for the extra bed and chair."
"What the hell?!?" yelled Naruto.  "We're not that bad off that we need to accept charity."  He conveniently forgot to mention that he and Shouya were talking that very morning about asking Tsunade themselves for the very items that they have received.
    "It's not charity, Uzumaki," said Anko as she picked up the fallen chairs in the kitchen.  "You and Shouya are both expected to pay back for these items when you start bringing in a chuunin's wage."  The jounin picked up a broom and started to sweep the floor.  "That includes all of the stuff we got today, Shouya."
    The girl sighed.  "Yes Sensei."  She bent down and picked up the towels.
    "Oh yeah, I almost forgot!" called Anko as she poked her head out of the kitchen.  "The blue towels and the other bar of soap are for Naruto."
    "Really?" asked Naruto.  He has never gotten anything new before, except for his goggles --and he saved up for those himself.  "Thanks."

    "A whole bed to myself," breathed Shouya as she sat down on her newly made bed.  The bed, chair and dresser were all second-hand but they were sound and most welcomed.  "No more being pushed onto the floor."
    "No more having to fight for the chair," grinned Naruto, pulling on his nightcap.  
    It was now bedtime.  Anko left after the mess has been cleaned up, and the kids were able to eat their meal of instant ramen in peace.  They talked about the day and what was being planned for the next one.  They fought over the last cookie of the bag they bought for dessert.  They didn't really talk about the battle with the strange ninja in their apartment, mostly because Naruto was unconscious for most of it, and Shouya couldn't remember what happened before she saw the stranger's face.
    "But the fights were kinda fun," said Shouya, as she examined her new pyjamas.  They were flannel, like the ones she had previously borrowed from Naruto, but they had a blue flower pattern on them.  She figured that they could be better, and that they could be worse.  There were lacy ones at that shop as well...
    "Yeah," nodded Naruto.  "But I won most of 'em."
    "Only because there were only seven of 'em and you won four.  If we still needed to fight for the one chair, I would've won it tomorrow."
    "Yeah."  Shouya jumped up on her bed and grabbed her pillow.  She took careful aim and then hurled it at Naruto.  He threw his own pillow at her.  What happened next was an incredible pillow-fight that lasted until both children were exhausted and laughing too hard to stand back up.  They lay on their respective beds, trying to catch their breaths.
    "I never did that before," said Naruto in wonder.
    "I never did either," agreed Shouya.
    Naruto rolled over onto his side.  "Never had anyone to do that with."
    "I guess not.  Hey.  The Old Woman said that we're to share the same name."  Shouya rolled over to face him.  "So does that make us?"
    Naruto thought for a moment.  "Siblings, I guess."  His eyes opened wide.  "Brother and sister."
    Shouya's eyes were just as wide.  "We're family..." she breathed.
    They both sat up and stared at each other as the realisation sank in.  Slowly, they got up and walked the few steps to the middle of the floor between the beds.  Naruto raised his hand slowly and carefully, Shouya raised hers to meet it.  They never have made physical contact with each other before, except for when they were fighting.  They both lowered their hands and embraced each other in a hug that threatened to break both sets of ribs.
    The hug only lasted for barely a minute before they sprang apart from each other with tears on their faces.  The moment was too embarrassing for the both of them.  They blinked at each other a few times before Naruto broke the silence by saying,     "I gotta get up early in the morning.  We better crash."
    "Yeah," agreed Shouya.  "I'll go get the lights."
    And both children fell asleep within minutes, feeling more secure and at peace than they have ever known.  And no longer alone.

*Sashimi is a traditional Japanese meal made with raw fish.


Shouya Uzumaki
"Hands off the jacket!" Naruto and Shouya
Last cup of Ramen

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