Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Bleach nor do I make any profit from this story.
Soul of Fire
Kotetsu watched the approaching caravan with vigilance. Inago had had a contract with Konohagakure longer than Kotestu had been a shinobi, but it never hurt to be careful. All of the caravans were accounted for, as were their contents, when Inago waved him down. Kotetsu approached the crotchety trader with caution. The old man usually didn't bother the gate guards letting his sons and daughters handle the inspection of the merchandise, so Kotetsu was naturally curious. Standing next to the old merchant were three individuals clearly not part of Inago's clan.
The most prominent was a tall young man with fiery orange hair. He had a bokken at his side and a bow slung across his back. Behind him were two young girls, probably his younger siblings, who gave him friendly smiles. All three were dirty with dust from the road and carrying very strange packs. The man's expression was closed, not unfriendly simply reserved, but he watched every motion Kotetsu made with occasional glances to the closer leaf-nin.
"This is Kurosaki Ichigo and his sisters Karin and Yuzu," said Inago. "I picked them up at the Port from Hanshou's caravan. The kid kept some bandits off their backs, not that we have that sort of problem in around Konoha, and Karin-san helped out my grandson when he got stung. Never seen a child recover from a Red-Spiker sting so fast."
Kotetsu kept his gaze neutral through years of long practice. The Red-Spiker was an extremely rare scorpion native to the Land of Fire. Stings were lethal without immediate treatment by trained medic-nin. In adults, the survival rate was fifty percent with assistance. In children, the rate was less than one percent. Kotetsu doubted Inago had ever seen a child recover from a Red-Spiker sting.
"What are your reasons for coming to Konohagakure?" asked Kotetsu. "Let me see your papers."
Kurosaki glanced at Inago then turned his attention fully to Kotetsu. The chunin had no doubts that his entire person had been assessed in that first look from the position of his weapons to the speed of his draw. It was equally clear that Kurosaki was not a shinobi. His stance was completely wrong, and while his face was closed, he hid nothing.
"We're seeking political asylum," said Kurosaki. "We're not from the Elemental Countries, so we don't have any papers."
Kotetsu let his disbelief show. He had never met someone from outside the Elemental Countries. He hadn't realized people lived outside the known borders. "Why are you looking for asylum in Konohagakure?"
"Any place is as safe as another for us, but we might have family here," said Kurosaki. "I have a letter of introduction."
"Let me see that then," said Kotetsu holding an open palm.
The scroll Kurosaki gave him was older than Kotetsu was expecting. The edges were tattered and the parchment had yellowed. It had been sealed with an orange wax stamp. Despite the letter's age, the spiral pressed into the wax had retained its form—the same spiral that leaf-nin wore on their flak jackets. Kotetsu opened the letter as neatly as possible, the seal would have to inspected later for authenticity, and read the salutation. "Greetings Hokage of Konohagakure from your allies in Uzushiogakure…" He ignored the skip-beat of terror in his heart and quickly checked the closing and signature.
"Konohamaru!" he barked.
There was a clatter from the gatehouse and the young Sarutobi tumbled out of the door. Konohamaru was one of the most talented genin in Konoha and should have made chunin years ago. Unfortunately, due to a series of accidents neither he nor the younger Hyuuga girl had been promoted in any of the recent exams. Tsunade-sama had all but accused the other nations of rigging the tests. For now, the two spent their required downtime between out-of-village missions assisting the shinobi guarding the wall. Konohamaru recovered his tumble into a somersault and struck a pose before jogging the short distance to their group. Kotetsu barely restrained himself from rolling his eyes.
"You roared, sir?" said Konohamaru.
"Escort these civilians to the Hokage's tower and make sure to give her that letter," ordered Kotetsu. He formed the sign for urgent report over the scroll as he gave it Konohamaru.
"Yes, sir," said Konohamaru replying with the sign for message received. "This way, please."
Konohamaru waited as the civilians gathered their things from the caravan. Not that they had much just two bags apiece. Their baggage looked strange to Konohamaru's eyes, oddly colored and oddly shaped, but then all of his stuff was ninja equipment. Maybe civilian travel gear was different. A brief conversation with the caravan master, Inago was cold but he wasn't a jerk by any stretch of the imagination, and the four of them were on their way to the Hokage's Tower.
Kotetsu watched them go thoughtfully, his mind fretting over the contents of the letter. There was nothing he could do about it now, and the information inside was probably classified. He expected orders along those lines to trickle down in a few hours. For now, he could finish see to the caravan. To his surprise, Inago was still waiting for him, when he turned around.
"Is there anything else I can do for you, Inago-san?" he asked carefully.
Inago hummed thoughtfully. His eyes were still chasing the path the Kurosakis had taken into the heart of the village.
"My clan will be staying an extra few days, so my grandson can be checked-out at the hospital," said Inago. "Will you know by then if that family will be able to stay?"
Kotetsu frowned in confusion. "If that letter is authentic, they will probably be invited to stay," he said carefully. "Is there any particular reason you want to know?"
"Ah, we owe them a debt," said Inago slowly. "I would have offered them a place in my caravan. But in their eyes, you can see they are looking for a home. Most people don't think of the roads as home."
"A place in your caravan?" repeated Kotetsu in surprise. "They didn't look like merchants."
"Bah," Inago made a dismissive noise. "That girl healed a Red Spiker sting, even you shinobi can't always manage that. The other one, she's as sweet as a lily-flower and a great cook and an excellent haggler. And the boy, well, he's had a hard time of it. But he's a fighter. Got to my grandson first. Swatted the insect. Even managed to slow down the poison until his sister could help. Hanshou said he made short work of those bandits too. Any caravan would be glad to have even one of them, and they are good children."
Kotetsu couldn't help but feel concerned. That was quite a lot of natural talent and evidence of quite a bit of training, but given their supposed background, he supposed that it was only natural. Still, to hear Inago, of all people, speak kindly of them was a shock in itself. Kotetsu was almost surprised the caravan master knew the chunin's name.
"I will make sure the information about their decision reaches you, Inago-san," said Kotetsu bowing slightly.
The caravan master smirked. "Ah, use my request to excuse your curiosity, that's fine, shinobi-san. Just don't forget it."
Kotetsu hid his dismay at being found out by a civilian. Then again, Inago was quite old. "Of course." He looked down the road once more. Oh, to be a fly on that wall. Though, given the people involved, it probably wouldn't be long before the whole village new.
Konohamaru led his charges along the quickest route to the tower—the quickest available to civilians at any rate. Unfortunately, the path was winding as there was no straightway between the tower and any of the gates for security purposes. The visitors didn't seem to mind. The girls were looking around with interest at the buildings, people, shops, and just about everything else too. The man was less obvious in his examination of their surroundings but nonetheless scanned everything and everyone they passed with watchful eyes. Konohamaru was fairly certain he was trying to memorize the path back to the gates but couldn't be sure. None of them looked like ninja, and despite the man's weapons, he definitely did not move like a shinobi.
"So what brings you guys to Konohagakure?" he asked casually.
The girls looked at him with wide eyes and glanced to the man, who shrugged half-heartedly at them and fixed his wandering gaze on Konohamaru. The young genin swallowed inexplicably nervous. The man's gaze was sharp and wary.
"We're looking for family, shinobi-san," said the fair-haired girl. "Our maternal grandfather left records saying we might have family here, but that was some time ago."
"Ah? That's exciting," said Konohamaru. He thought of all the families that had died sinc e his grandfather's time and winced. "Do you have a name? My family has been here quite a long time, so I might know someone from your clan."
The man made a disapproving noise. Konohamaru looked back in surprise. The girls looked disappointed but not surprised.
"We probably shouldn't say anything until we know more about our situation," said the dark-haired girl.
Konohamaru looked at them again. That was a level of paranoia that didn't occur to ordinary people thought it didn't stand out too much in a hidden village. The bow and sword weren't typical shinobi weapons, but some clans did specialize.
"Are you sure you're civilians?" he asked.
"Our father achieved high rank in the military before we were born," said the man liked that explained everything.
It did explain quite a lot, admitted Konohamaru. A man from a military background would know how to fight and would probably teach his son, or at least provide lessons. The civilian military was weird about girls, so that would explain why he was the only one with weapons. A high-ranking officer would also understand the value of information. That was something anyone could learn, girls too, even if they weren't taught directly.
"That's a bizarre question," said the black-haired girl abruptly. She narrowed her eyes at him. "What's it like living here anyway?"
"Karin-chan, don't be rude," said the fair-haired girl.
Konohamaru grinned. "Hey, what sort of shinobi doesn't like to brag about their village?"
He proceeded to give a brief overview of Konohagakure—the oldest village, the most productive land, the best shinobi, the nicest villagers, the wisest Hokages, the greatest number of contracts, the best medics—things everyone heard about Konohagakure but seemed completely new to these people.
"Did you say medics?" asked the black-haired girl, Karin.
Konohamaru paused in the middle of his praises. "Yeah, Tsunade-sama is the best medic-nin in the whole of the Elemental Countries, so she runs the hospital and makes sure Konohagakure has better trained medics and more medics than any other village. She's invented a whole bunch of new medical ninjutsu too. And she's super-strong, one of the three sannin."
That went over their heads too. Everybody had heard of the sannin, even if Tsunade was the only one still alive, they were legendary. Civilians told stories about them and enemy-nin cursed them. The dark-haired girl, Karin, seemed intrigued by the idea of medical ninjutsu though.
"That's great," said the fair-haired girl. "Maybe you can pick up your studies again."
"The older you are, the harder it is to learn to manipulate chakra," said Konohamaru honestly. "But even our ordinary surgeons are very skilled.
Karin didn't reply but she did look quietly hopeful. Konohamaru was hopeful too. Not all doctors were nice people. Kabuto and Orochimaru were prime examples. But a girl who was studying to be a doctor was different from a crazy shinobi searching for immorality.
By that time, they had reached the tower. Konohamaru expertly navigated the hallways and stairs leading over the familiar path to the Hokage's office. He flashed the urgent hand-sign at the secretary as he explained why they were there. The secretary nodded in understanding and darted into the Hokage's office. In a moment, they were in the office and Konohamaru was handing over the letter and making introductions, and embarrassingly realizing half-way through that the only name he knew was Karin's so Yuzu and Ichigo had to introduce themselves.
Tsunade-sama examined the seal with a suspicious air and visibly tensed after reading the first few lines. She gave the three newcomers a bland look then turned a sharp gaze on Konohamaru.
"Find Naruto and send him here. You can return to your post after that," she ordered.
Konohamaru saluted and jumped out of the window. In the distance he could hear the startled cries of dismay from the civilians. He suppressed a burst of joyful glee. Pranks were all well and good, but he was a shinobi on a mission: Find Naruto.
Konohamaru frowned. Hokage-sama had been disturbed by the letter and she wanted Naruto. But the letter had just been about whatever clan those guys were related to. That shouldn't have made such a reaction unless they were from a dangerous clan. Konoha was not the sort of village to exile whole clans. Even the Uchiha, before the massacre, had been isolated on their compound at the most. Maybe they were Uchiha! Karin had dark hair after all. But, then again, neither of her siblings had dark hair. In fact, the Ichigo's hair was almost orange just like the seal on the letter…
Konohamaru choked and almost missed the next roof. Brightly colored hair. A scattered clan. An orange spiral. There were plenty of spiral patterns in Konoha, but only one was orange. Konohamaru increased his speed. He had to find the boss right away.
Tsunade examined the letter again. An introduction from the former Master of Uzushiogakure theoretically kin to the trio standing in front of her desk. She could just barely remember Uzu's former master. Uzumaki Mamoru had been young and powerful and gentle and wise. When Uzu's fate was sealed, he sent away as many of his clan as would leave. But she thought that he had fallen with his village. To find the truth was otherwise, that he had survived and fathered at least another child before his passing, was startling to say the least. In the letter, he claimed to have left the world entirely. She was tempted to call it a hoax, except there was a seal at the bottom of the letter, one which could only be opened with the blood of an Uzumaki. Tsunade was tempted to try it then and there.
The Kurosaki's were watching her in turn. The oldest, Ichigo, looked wary and...tired. She had seen the same look on hundreds of shinobi following the third and fourth secret wars. Still he was standing slightly in front of his sisters in a protective stance and looked prepared to defend them even if he had been required to take his weapons off before entering the office. The girls also looked tired but that was mostly from travel and perhaps a sudden change in circumstance. Whatever horrors Ichigo had seen had by-passed his sisters. So if they were seeking political refuge, it was likely something he had done, and he had brought his sisters with him to avoid retaliation against them.
"The man who wrote this, did you meet him?" asked Tsunade.
Ichigo shook his head. "No. Our mother's parents were killed when she was very young, and she grew up with some cousins. We didn't know about him until our father gave us the seal to bring us here."
"Kurosaki is your mother's name?" asked Tsunade. "She's the daughter of Uzumaki Mamoru?"
Ichigo nodded. "Yes. Kurosaki Masaki. Our father took her name when they married."
Tsunade quirked a brow. Two generations assuming the wife's name. Perhaps that was the custom in their land.
"Why are you seeking political asylum in Konohagakure?" she asked.
Ichigo sighed. "We're not really looking for political asylum. We're not from the Elemental Countries at all, so once we ended up in Uzushiogakure, or what was left of it, we were safe on that front. We're just came to Konoha since we might have family here."
Tsunade gave him a skeptical look. She was the hokage. That sort of gentle run-around wouldn't the greenest genin. Then again, if they weren't from the Elemental Countries at all, then they might not know exactly what her position meant.
"Ichi-nii," sighed Yuzu. "Don't be so difficult."
Ichigo stiffened but kept silent. Instead it was Karin, who explained.
"Ichigo's a really strong fighter, and a few years ago he helped Soul Society—that's the place our dad is from—defeat these guys who were trying to take over the world. But since we're not from Soul Society, their government got really upset about Ichigo leaving once the war was over, even though all he did was go back to school. So they decided that the best thing to do was to kill Ichigo or to have him work for them. And then they thought, since we're related, Yuzu and I could get strong like that too, or our children could, so they were going to try to kill us also. So we left."
Tsunade stared at her in amazement. Kill one boy, who didn't want to fight, because he was too strong? She had never heard something so ridiculous in her life. Except, she had, hadn't she? She looked down at the letter. Uzushiogakure had been destroyed because its shinobi were too strong and didn't use that strength to dominate others. One small village could stand against two of the great hidden villages no more than three children could stand against an army. Naruto had also faced similar circumstances as the vessel for the nine-tails. He would definitely be sympathetic.
"I see," said Tsunade. "How influential is this Soul Society that you had to leave your world for ours?"
The three shared a significant look. Tsunade waited. She would probably let the three join the village, but only if they answered her truthfully. There was no real way to check their story, except for maybe the use of that seal in the letter, but she wanted to wait before trying it.
"It's the afterlife," said Ichigo.
Tsunade stared in astonishment. "What?"
"Soul Society, it's the place souls go after they die on Earth if they're not destined for heaven or hell. Our father was a shinigami, but not like the one you have here, and our mother was a medium who could see ghosts and fight evil spirits. It was the special power of her clan," said Ichigo. "That's why everything's so complicated."
Tsunade was gaping. She couldn't help it. He looked so earnest too, and his sisters were nodding along.
"Hell with it," muttered Tsunade. In one fluid motion, she drew a kunai, sliced open her thumb, and pressed the bloody digit to the seal on the letter.
There was a tiny puff of smoke and then there was a small notebook sitting on top of the letter. She flipped to the first entry.
Hello, future Hokage of Konohagakure, I am glad our bloodline is still so tightly tied to the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Perhaps you are a descendant of Tsunade-hime, she was such a sweet child. You may not have heard of me, I know the fate of destroyed villages, but I hope the ties between Leaf and Whirlpool have not been forgotten. I was Uzumaki Mamoru, Master of Uzushiogakure, but now I am known as Kurosaki Mamoru, husband and father to another adorable daughter.
I have quite a story to tell. To you it will sound like a spirit-tale to rival that of the Sage of the Sixth Paths, but I swear every word is true. And every word is important to understand the quirks of my wife's family and your new visitors. My beloved wife is a Quincy, which is a special clan of people who can see and fight evil spirits. It is quite a strange world I have found myself in…
Tsunade looked up. "You can see ghosts? All of you? You are Quincy?"
Yuzu blushed. "I can hear ghosts, but I'm not very good at seeing them. Not like Karin and Ichi-nii."
Karin scoffed. "It's a useless talent. Especially here. I haven't seen one ghost at all."
Ichigo was just staring at the book on the desk. "Where did that come from?" he muttered.
An instant later his puzzled expression cleared, and he shot a wary look out the window. Tsunade frowned at him before looking out the window herself. A moment later, she sensed it. Naruto was finally on his way. She looked at Ichigo again. His face had smoothed into neutrality, and he was gauging her reaction. She wondered how strong a fighter he was exactly. Obviously his ability to sense chakra was well-developed, but his chakra and that of the girls fluctuated constantly. It was stronger than that of the average civilian, likely thanks to their Uzumaki heritage, but there was no suggestion of training beyond that of basic martial arts. Even his stance was strange, not one seen on typical leaf-nin, though it was a stance of some kind.
Then Naruto was in the window. Bright and loud and burning with the will of fire. He looked so much like his father, Tsunade felt her heart clench. But she was used to that feeling by now and set it aside easily.
"You sent for me, Hokage-sama? Konohamaru was pretty excited," said Naruto.
Tsunade straightened in her seat. She knew he was only using her title because of their visitors. She had managed to pound at least that much decorum into his head.
"This is Uzumaki Naruto, my successor." Not a flicker of recognition from the three that couldn't be contributed to his last name. They had definitely never of Naruto before. "Naruto, this is the Kurosaki family, Ichigo, Yuzu, and Karin. They've requested permission to join Konoha as civilians seeking political asylum. They are also the grandchildren of Uzumaki Mamoru, Kushina's father."
Naruto let out a yelp of surprise and almost fell out of the window. "You mean, they're my cousins?"
"We will need a blood-test to confirm it, of course," said Tsunade. "But I have no reason to doubt their claims." Other than the whole idea is insane. But she couldn't tell Naruto that or the Kurosakis that without being cruel.
"Pleased to meet you, Uzumaki-san," said Yuzu brightly. "I'm Yuzu. This is Karin. And that's Ichigo. Don't worry about Ichi-nii. He frowns like that all the time."
Ichigo was scowling now but not at anything particular. Naruto looked at Tsunade in hopeful confusion. She was busy rifling through her desk searching for the appropriate paperwork.
"Here are three residency forms—
"We'll need four," said Ichigo.
Tsunade glared at the interruption. Then what he said registered and she looked at the girls. "Neither of you look pregnant." Ignoring startled cries of protest, she switched a doubtful gaze to Ichigo. "You aren't either, probably."
The girls and Naruto shrieked again this time. Ichigo just rolled his eyes. "It's for Kon. He's not really alive, but he is a person. He's in with our luggage right now."
"Oh, that's right," said Yuzu with a gasp. "You have to include Bostov."
Karin was rolling her eyes now. "Ugh. That stupid bear."
"You have a bear? In your luggage?" asked Naruto in confusion.
"He's not a bear," said Yuzu. "He's a lion. A stuffed lion. With a little soul inside so he can talk."
Naruto just looked more and more confused. At the mention of a soul, Tsunade realized this had something to do with their other heritage and conceded to the inevitable by pulling out another form. She tossed the pile at Ichigo, who caught it with ease.
"Fill these out and Naruto will file them when you're done. Naruto, take them to the mission desk and have them pick-out one of the pre-furnished apartments. Tell the manager we'll be paying the first month's rent. Oh, and have Shizune take a blood sample from one of them before they leave. She can take it to the hospital later," said Tsunade. "Welcome to Konohagakure. Now scram."
All four bowed, even Ichigo, who didn't seem the bowing sort, and scurried out the honest. Naruto tossed her a bright grin over his shoulder. The shock was wearing off, and he was finally realizing that these people were his family. In a few hours, she knew he would be back crowing with glee. She returned her attention to the letter and journal lying on her desk. She had paperwork she could be doing, but this seemed so much more urgent and fascinating. Tsunade thought longingly of the bottle in her desk, but no, given what she had heard, she would need all of her wits to make it through the journal. Knuckling down, Tsunade started to read.
Naruto led his new-found cousins to the mission desk as ordered after picking up their bags and having their blood drawn by Shizune. Naruto hadn't seen a lion, but he assumed there was one somewhere in the brightly colored packs. He was more intrigued by the wooden sword and traditional bow mixed among Ichigo's possessions. He wondered how good the other man was with them. Maybe they could fight some time, but then again, maybe civilians didn't do that sort of thing. Tsunade had given them civilian papers after all.
Ichigo was filling out the papers in a rapid yet tidy scrawl as the girls flipped through the book of available housing units. The mission desk maintained several apartments for shinobi who specialized in long-term missions. When they came back home, a secured, vetted apartment was waiting for them. Other shinobi used the same service when they decided to move apartments, and recently retired shinobi were more than welcome to pick out a new apartment from the same catalogue. Usually civilians, even new ones, had to find an apartment on their own, but given the Kurosakis' circumstances, it was no surprise Tsunade had directed them here.
"What do you think of this area, Uzumaki-san?" asked Yuzu quietly.
Naruto looked at the listing. "Ah, it's not bad. Sai lives around there. It's a lot quieter than most of the village, but there's not much to do."
Yuzu frowned and flipped to another page. "What about this one?"
"Oh, that's good. Sakura and Ino have an apartment in that building because it's so close to the hospital," said Naruto. "That's pretty small though."
"It should be okay," said Yuzu. "We don't have very much stuff, and Karin and I missed sharing a room."
"Oh?" asked Naruto.
"We started university last year. Karin went to Tokyo to take pre-Med and I stayed in Karakura," said Yuzu.
Naruto stared. "I don't know what that means."
"Oh? How does school work around here?" asked Yuzu.
"Eh? I went to the Academy when I was six and graduated when I was twelve, that's pretty normal for shinobi kids. The ones that don't become genin usually go into trade. I'm not really sure how civilians do it. Noble kids get private tutors and things. But almost everybody takes after their parents or finds an apprenticeship somewhere," said Naruto.
"We also start school at six," said Yuzu. "But you're require to go through middle school, that's until you're fifteen. But, if you want a better job, you go to high school three more years. Then after that, if you want specialized training, you go to university for at least four years to get a degree. Sometimes longer if you want something really specific. Some people take over their parents business and don't worry about the degrees, but some businesses are really complicated so they have to go."
"But that's almost twenty years of school!" protested Naruto.
"It does take a long time," said Yuzu. "Ichi-nii had just started on his law degree when we left."
"I haven't heard of any place having requirements like that," said Naruto. He was still learning all the political stuff and keeping track of civilian schooling wasn't really his responsibility but surely someone would have mentioned that sort of insane requirement. As a child, he would definitely have used it as a reason to become a shinobi.
"That's because were from Karakura Town in Japan. It's not part of the Elemental Countries," said Yuzu.
Naruto gaped. "No way. The only people I've heard of not from the Elemental Countries are summons. But that's only because they're from different dimensions."
Yuzu smiled gently. "Oh? Is that so?"
Karin was waving down the mission desk shinobi. Iruka-sensei was teaching again this year otherwise Naruto would have introduced them. "We'll take this one."
"Ah, I've filled out all of these," said Ichigo waving the papers in his direction.
Naruto blinked. "Already? But there were four forms!" He took the stack of papers and flipped through them quickly. They were all correct, even the one on Kon, which was a little bizarre. Age: 7 years. Blood type: n/a. Height: 27 centimeters. Weight: 168 grams. He really had filled in the form for a toy.
"How did you do it so fast?" asked Naruto.
Ichigo's expression turned sort of blank like he was trying very hard not to think of something bad. Sakura got like that sometimes after training with Tsunade. "Kukaku insisted."
"Who?" asked Naruto as he handed over the forms to the mission desk and accepted the keys to the new apartment and temporary papers for the Kurosakis.
"A relative of our father's," said Ichigo.
"Okay," said Naruto biting down on his curiosity. "Well, let's go."
Naruto led them back through the village to their new apartment. It took a while. He had to greet all sorts of people and point out the best places to his new cousins. They didn't seem to mind though. Or at least, Yuzu and Karin were interested. Ichigo didn't talk much at all. He just stood there looking grim. Naruto could deal with that though. He had spent his formative years trying to make friends with Sasuke after all.
He found the appropriate building with ease having visited Sakura's apartment so often. After sorting out their rent with the building manager—a month on the Hokage's dime was nothing to scoff at, Tsunade must have really wanted them to feel comfortable—he took them up to their new apartment. It was on the fourth floor, which might have been a rough on civilians but none of them complained, and had a surprisingly nice view of the village and the hokage monument from the back windows.
After that Naruto wasn't sure what to do. He was excited to meet his new cousins—Sasuke's Karin was cool and all, but she was a little strange—but he could tell that these guys were about to drop.
"Thanks for your help," said Ichigo abruptly as he wandered into the apartment.
"We really do appreciate it," added Karin a bit more gently.
Yuzu turned wide eyes on Naruto. "Uzumaki-san, would you like to come over for dinner later this week?"
"Huh?" Naruto stared in confusion.
"Would you like to have dinner at our apartment on Friday? If you have other plans, that's okay. I know it's sudden," said Yuzu.
"I—what—I'd love to, but are you sure?" asked Naruto.
Yuzu frowned. "Am I sure? Of course, you're family, Uzumaki-san. And we'd all like to get to know you."
"That'd be…really nice," said Naruto. "Oh, and call me Naruto! None of this formal stuff, Kurosaki-san."
Yuzu smiled. "Call me Yuzu then. You could bring some friends if you want."
"You mean like my team?" asked Naruto dazed with elation.
"Ah that would be great. We've heard a little bit about shinobi since we arrived here. Your team's a bit like your family, right? They've been looking after you all this time, so we'd like to know them too. And meeting new people can be scary, so it's good to have a little back up," said Yuzu kindly.
"Right," said Naruto firmly. "Sasuke's out on a mission. And so is Karin. We're sort of related to her, so you might want to invite her too sometime. But Kakashi-sensei is in town. And so is Sakura. And that Sai-bastard. And Tenzou. That's four. Is that okay? Is four too many? And with me, it's five. Five's a lot of people."
"It's a good number Naruto," said Yuzu. "I like to cook. But could you invite everyone? At, um, 1800 hours. On Friday."
"Right," said Naruto. "Got it! Friday. The team. Here. 1800 hours. Okay. See you later, Yuzu-san!"
"Bye, Naruto-san," Yuzu called as he bounded the hall.
Naruto needed to invite to the team. The first one should be Sakura. She was right there. She would know what was appropriate to bring to your first dinner with your family. Right? He dropped down two stories and shot down the hall.
"Sakura! Sakura! What do I do? I have cousins! Sakura?"
The door slammed open and a pink-haired demon growled at him. Suddenly, Naruto remembered that Sakura was only here in the afternoon if she had pulled the night-shift in the hospital and needed more sleep. Ah, well, she probably wouldn't kill him once she heard his news. He had cousins now, new ones, who had come to Konohagakure because of him. It was definitely worth it.
That's the end of the first chapter. It's been a long time since I've written anything substantial and this is going to be a whopper. If you noticed any glaring errors of a grammatical or spelling nature, then I apologize and I'll try to fix it. If you noticed any glaring errors of a canonical nature, well…it's a crossover fic. There are going to be a lot.
I started this idea just after the 4th shinobi war started in Naruto and before the end of the Xcution arc in Bleach. So this story is canon-compliant up to that point, and I included some things that I thought were useful from later arcs. But, if you notice characters that should be dead who are alive, or vice-versa, then that would be why. Also, I'm going to try pairings in this fic, which is something I usually avoid, but there's a first time for everything.
Thank you for reading. Please let me know what you thought.