Author's Note's: No, I haven't died. Not yet.

This chapter was a bitch to write, even more so than the new Hero or Monster (which is nearly 5,000 words).

I don't have much else to say, so enjoy the chapter.

Check out Dreaming of the Phoenix. He's my beta and an awesome author.

Bringer of Peace

Chapter Twelve – Planting Seeds

The eyes of thousands stared at them, hungry and hateful stares that promised nothing but pain and death. She breathed so hard, her heart beating faster than she ever knew was possible. It was not the thousands upon thousands of her own kind that stared at them with pure rage that frightened her. No. What frightened her was the man standing in front of her, his back facing her.

He stared back at them with a cold confidence she hadn't seen from the man since her travels with him. She had seen the way he looked at his brother, instinctively protective and caring. She saw the way he looked at the pretty goddess that followed them around all the time, with eyes that expressed an intimate wanting. And then she saw how he looked at her, never trusting. She was the enemy in his eyes, and she knew it.

She looked at her hands. They trembled like the first day she had met this man. In the back of her mind, she could feel the man she loved, his mighty power flaring, trying to rip through the barrier that had sealed them into this separate dimension. The very fact that she could feel him was impressive, and it warmed her heart just how hard he was trying to get through to them. But she was no fool; she knew that he could not enter this place.

She chuckled, a small hint of humor in her tone. The ones who had set this up were the fools, the moronic idiots. They were ignorant, so ignorant, and it would be their downfall. They had set this up, believing that their numbers could eventually end this man, this god. They thought that they had trapped him in this place with them…

Again, she chuckled, because Lilith knew that he was not the one trapped within this place with them…

Otsutsuki Hagoromo raised his hand, and a black substance began to come to life, a giant helix forming. This was what Hamura had warned her about, the weapon Hagoromo could destroy creation itself with. It was the holy Sword of Nunoboko, the ultimate weapon in the Rikudo Sennin's arsenal.

They were all trapped in this place with him…

All of the demons of this realm roared, screaming at the only man they feared, as they rushed the two of them.

Lilith closed her eyes.

That's when the monstrous power of the holy soldier surged; actually pushing the horde of demonic entities back somewhat, like an invisible force hit them. And this was only the beginning…

Lilith shook. She was scared… she wanted Hamura.

Lilith's eyes snapped open, her breath heavily labored. It took her a few seconds to calm herself, and when she could finally breathe normally again, she remembered where she was, and when she was.

Neji's arms unconsciously tightened around her, and she sighed. His embrace stopped her from shaking, and calmed her frantic mind. She hadn't dreamt of that night for a while. Bringing it up with Itachi the other day must have brought it back to the forefront of her mind.

She took a deep breath, the warm walls of the room they shared within the Uchiha Compound calming her further. She began to listen to the rhythm of Neji's breaths, further comforting her. The Purge… it had been a traumatizing event for her, and she would probably never forget it. She turned her body, snuggling her face into Neji's chest. It wasn't the broad, toned chest Hamura used to have, but she didn't care. The man who held her was her husband, no matter what he looked like. It was the ultimate gesture of love. Outward appearances meant little to them, what they had fallen in love with was what lay underneath the skin.

Neji sleepily readjusted his position to better hold his wife now that she was facing him. His left arm cradled her head as she dug into his chest, and his right arm wrapped around her side to hold the small of her back, which he used to better hold her against his own body.

As Lilith's warm breath brushed against Neji's soft, exposed skin – he rarely slept with a shirt on – she couldn't help but smile. Even in his sleep, her husband could make her feel safe and at ease. Just moments ago, she had awoken terrified, and now she was peacefully listening to the man she love's heartbeat. It was strong and powerful, oddly similar to what his heart sounded like in his previous life. That made her smile again. He was still Hamura, her Hamura.

She sighed in content as the black of slumber began to take her again. As long as he was with her, she would be fine, no matter what they were forced to go through or do. It was all okay as long as she never had to be separated from him again. This was her wish granted, the very thing she dreamt of for a millennia.

Lilith fell asleep within seconds, missing how Neji peeked open a single eye, looking at his beautiful wife, before smiling. He was always there for her, even if she didn't know it.

Naruto watched as the trap was minutes from being sprung. His eyes were serious and almost narrowed – his concentration at the highest of levels. A single bead of sweat fell down the side of his face, making its way to his chin before falling to the ground below, making a silent splash. He hadn't been so nervous before in his entire life…

"Are you sure this is wise, Naruto?" Neji asked. "Even if your plan works, you know we will be discovered…" his voice was serious, his eyes locked on the trap.

Naruto nodded, never taking his eyes off the trap. "Of course I am sure, Neji." He replied. "I was born with a gift for this kind of thing, dattebayo!" Inwardly, an obviously feminine snicker was heard.

" "Dattebayo"?" Neji repeated confusedly. The word was… strange.

"Hush now, brother. It is about to begin. The fruits of our labor are upon us!" he shouted softly, leaning forward in his seat.

"Ah!" Neji nodded, mirroring his brother by leaning forward in his seat. The veins around his eyes bulged, the Byakugan now active. He wanted to see everything as it happened. His white orbs narrowed in concentration, watching his brother's brilliance in awe.

"It's never going to work, you know." Lilith voiced her opinion. "He may not be a powerful, A-ranked jonin, but he is intelligent." She crossed her arms. "He's never going to fall for something so primitive. You should use something with more force, something that he won't have time to dodge or catch."

"No." Naruto responded, his voice incredibly serious. "They always expect something complicated and complex. They're calling us the Prodigy Cell, so now everyone is trying to "look underneath the underneath"." Naruto explained, quoting Itachi. "But this…" he continued. "This is so brilliantly simple that he'll never see it coming." The blond had a smug, proud look on his face.

"Ingenious." Neji added.

Lilith could do nothing but sigh.

"He's here!" Naruto announced, Neji nodding in agreement. Naruto could feel their intended target approaching, and Neji could see him through the walls. "It is now time to announce it to the village, to the world!"

The door slowly began to slide open, and the three genin held their breath, watching in extreme anticipation. And then, Naruto's "so plain it's brilliant" trap was sprung.

It was a complete success.

Kage, a B-ranked tokubetsu jonin of the ANBU Black Ops, blinked. He was just… still. The sounds of snickering and giggling sounded out in the empty academy room Team Six was supposed to meet their designated sensei for the Chunin Exams in. Again, Kage blinked, perplexed that he wasn't able to dodge the incredibly dirty chalk board eraser that fell on his head, causing used chalk dust to infest his hair and cover his shoulders.

"You're right, Naruto." Neji began in a calm, elegant voice that barely held back his amusement. "You are the best prankster in Konoha." Pranking shinobi was an extremely difficult task, but Naruto did it in equal amounts of ease and fashion.

"Thank you." Naruto smiled. "Thank you." He waved his hands in the air, as if accepting applause only he could hear.

"Idiot." Lilith whispered, although her giggles told everyone that she didn't mean it.

The agent was a plain-looking man. He had an unmemorable face, with dark eyes and hair. There truly was nothing at all that made the man stand out, which was probably why he was so good at infiltration and espionage. He wasn't tall, but he wasn't short, either. He wasn't young, but wasn't old… Now that Team Six got a good look at the man, it was actually really hard to describe him in detail. He was male, had dark hair and dark eyes… that matched the description of over half the men in the Elemental Nations. The man had an extreme talent for "blending in".

Kage looked at the three genin before him with a confused stare. This was the "Prodigy Cell" he'd heard about so much the past few hours? These were the children the Hokage was sending with him into enemy territory to compete in the Chunin Exams? So far, Kage was not impressed, not at all.

"If you're done being juvenile, we can start…" the ANBU operative began. He bent over, and with an annoyed sigh, dusted the chalk out of his hair the best he could.

Naruto just shrugged. You can't please everyone.

Placing three folders in front of Naruto, Lilith and Neji, Kage walked to the chalk board, picking up a piece of chalk. He cleared his throat before he began. "My name is Kagami, and for the next couple of months, I will be your sensei." The black-haired man explained as he wrote his name on the black board. They all realized that the man was using a fake name. "For us to successfully do this, we need to be versed in each other's mannerisms. We must seem like we've been sensei and student longer than a couple of minutes by the time we enter the Land of Lightning." He turned to face them. "In the folders given to you, you will find a detailed list of exercises we will be taking in the next couple of days to better get acquainted, and a list of questions I'd like you all to answer by our next meeting tomorrow."

"Will you be answering these questions as well, Kagami-san?" Lilith asked, curious.

"It's Kagami-sensei now, Lilith-san." Kage corrected. Lilith already didn't like this man. "And no, I will be submitting answers from a different set of questions when you submit yours."

"Why use different ones?" Naruto asked, now serious about the meeting.

"I am an ANBU operative, my profile is classified." Kage explained. "Facts about my identity as your sensei will be given to all of us to study." Naruto nodded his head, accepting that answer. "During this venture, you will be under my direct command. What I say goes, do you understand me?" Team Six nodded. "Good. Now, I saw your combat test, and while I'm not very fond of your individual personalities," here, he brushed some dust off his shoulder, "as a unit you three are very effective. It will make all of this easier." He then looked Naruto in the eyes, not flinching at all when he was met with the legendary Rinnegan. "I expect professionalism from all of you." He stated. "No pranks, understood?" Again, Team Six nodded. "Alright then, we should get along just fine. Meet me at training ground thirteen tomorrow at noon, and have those questions answered. That's all, you're excused."

Their new sensei gathered up his papers and was gone, leaving Team Six alone.

"We've got a professional… great." Lilith muttered. The man acted as if he had a stick up his rear end.

"It'll be fine." Naruto began. He stood, picking up the folder he was given. "We just need to show him that we can be professional when the time comes, and he won't give us too much trouble."

Neji and Lilith stood as well, their folders in their hands. "I hope you're right, brother." Neji replied. "This mission is going to be difficult as is. How are we supposed to take Gyuuki and Matatabi in secret if we have a stickler for the rules on our backs?" This plan was already going to be a long shot, but with someone like Kage constantly watching them everything would be even harder.

"Don't worry, Neji. We'll figure it all out." Naruto answered. His voice then turned serious. "My children will be free soon, no matter what. I don't care if we have to fight off the entire village." He stated. "I will not let them be prisoners any longer."

Neji silently nodded, vowing to free his brother's creations. Lilith took Neji's hand into hers, and he turned to her. She smiled at him, nodding. Neji smiled back. His wife would fight to free the Bijuu as well.

A warm feeling fell over them… they were a family now, and they hadn't ever felt stronger in their lives.

Naruto then looked downcast… all that was missing was Tsukuyomi.

It was late. The sun had set hours ago, and the moon lit the village of Konohagakure. ANBU patrolled the streets in the shadows, and the majority of the citizens were either asleep or in the comfort of their homes.

This was not the case, however, for six men – six shinobi.

"I don't understand." Hyuuga Hiashi stated, sitting at the meeting table deep underground in the ANBU Headquarters. "Sure, they're extremely talented for their age, but why do you suspect something is wrong with Team Six?"

"Hiashi-san, we do not doubt their genius." Sarutobi Hiruzen replied. "But what we saw four days ago was not the work of genin. When was the last time you saw green genin accomplish what Team Six did?"

"What did you expect from the Rinnegan?" Hiashi retorted. "Those eyes have been said to be the eyes of god."

"I've trained another with those eyes…" Jiraiya of the Sannin stated, surprising mostly everyone present.

"What was that?" Nara Shikaku asked, his hard eyes gazing at Jiraiya.

"During the Second Shinobi World War, while my team was in Ame, we discovered three orphans when we were about to leave the country." Jiraiya explained. "I decided to stay behind and help them, teach them how to survive. The country was all but destroyed. They would have surely died if I didn't help." The aged sage sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Shortly after, one of them, Nagato, awakened the Rinnegan to save his friend from a shinobi." He looked to Hiashi. "I've trained a Rinnegan-wielder before, for three years, and Naruto showed skill far beyond the prodigy Nagato had become."

"Why wasn't I informed?" Shikaku asked. All information passed through him. He needed crucial information if they wanted him to successfully lead the Jonin forces.

"It was a time of war, Shikaku." Jiraiya began. "Those three could barely survive their own country; I wasn't going to give incentive to another to seek them out. Konoha was responsible for killing the boy's parents; he'd never trust the village enough to enter our ranks." He shook his head. "Too many problems would have been brought to them, so I kept him and his eyes a secret."

Shikaku dropped the subject, but still wasn't very happy about someone withholding valuable information.

"So you say that Naruto-kun is far beyond Nagato?" Hiruzen asked.

The sage nodded. "Far beyond." He replied. "Nagato had mastered all five basic nature chakra by the time he was ten, but he could never use two different techniques at once like Naruto did. And what he did to stop my jutsu… I've never even heard of anything like that."

"Kami… all five nature chakra at ten?" Shikaku wondered. "What the hell are these eyes…?"

"We're forgetting who the boy's parents were." Shimura Danzo, the Second in Command, stated. While Danzo wanted Orochimaru to be the Yondaime – for personal reasons – he couldn't deny that Namikaze Minato was a force to be reckoned with. He had almost single-handedly ended a world war by himself, and could slaughter thousands in the blink of an eye. "The Yondaime was a young prodigy as well, if I'm not mistaken."

"No… Minato was nothing like Naruto." Jiraiya started. "It's not just about his strength." He looked to Shikaku, gesturing for the man to explain.

"I've observed the speech patterns and body language of Team Six." The Jonin Commander began. "They don't speak like children, and the other two follow Naruto like he's their leader. I've only seen that kind of loyalty with the Hokage and the ANBU." He stated. "When Naruto moves, they move. He doesn't even have to speak. They react to his every gesture, his every gaze." He shook his head. "I'm telling you now; those are not the acts of children."

"Are you saying they're imposters?" Danzo asked.

"No…" Shikaku replied. "I'm not sure what it means, but I know for a fact that Team Six is more than just young genin." He looked to the Hokage, asking permission with his eyes. Hiruzen nodded. "The Uchiha…" he began. "They were planning a coup." Hiashi's eyes widened. "We had two operatives on the inside, Uchiha Shisui and Uchiha Itachi. They were loyal to Konoha, and agreed to spy on their own clan for the village's safety." Hiashi suddenly had a deep respect for those young boys. "It looked like there could be no other outcome but all-out war with the Uchiha. But then Uzumaki Naruto started showing up in the Uchiha Compound, and within days, Itachi and Shisui reported that the coup was no longer going to happen, and that the Uchiha were no longer a threat." He sighed. "We believed them. They were our most trusted operatives within the Black Ops."

"But now we know better." Hiruzen replied. "Activate your Byakugan, Hiashi-san. Take a look."

Hiashi narrowed his eyes in confusion, but did as he was ordered nonetheless. As soon as his dojutsu gazed upon the Sandaime, he knew what they were talking about.

"Uchiha Shisui can cast a genjutsu so incredibly powerful that he can implant thoughts into a target's mind without the target ever knowing that anything at all was amiss." The Hokage explained. "And I never would have known that he used that technique on me if the Hyuuga ANBU operative Nezumi didn't catch Shisui's chakra commanding my mind."

Hiashi narrowed his eyes. "He was implanting thoughts into you?" he asked.

Hiruzen nodded. "Apparently so." He replied.

"What was implanted?" Hiashi asked again.

"The female of Team Six, Lilith." Shikaku started. "She's an unknown. The file on her is forged. She just showed up, and suddenly she was a citizen of Konoha and a genin of our shinobi forces. For reasons unknown, Shisui manipulated Hokage-sama to integrate Lilith into our systems."

"But why?" Hiashi asked. That girl… she was hanging around Neji quite often, if he wasn't mistaken.

"That's what we're trying to figure out." Danzo spoke. "Why would Shisui want a little girl in Konoha badly enough to commit treason?"

"Our sources say she's close with your ward." Shikaku added. "Intimately close." He finished.

Hiashi looked at Shikaku with skeptical eyes. "Neji's only nine, and that girl isn't much older. I doubt they even know what intimate means."

"Regardless," Jiraiya stated, "something is going on between the two. We need to figure out who she is, and what she's doing here." He was a spymaster, and even he knew nothing of the girl called Lilith, except that her name was rather strange. "As Naruto's godfather, I will be digging into the situation by trying to extract information from him." He continued. "And as Neji is your ward, we'd like you to do the same with your nephew."

"Subtly, of course." Shikaku added. "We don't want them to know that we suspect anything."

"This is ridiculous." Hiashi said. "They're children."

"Those children are skilled enough to complete an exercise designed by the Nidaime Hokage to spot future talent. So far, every team to pass the test has become S-ranked shinobi, including the Sannin and the Yondaime." Shikaku explained. "That, and the near instantaneous ascension in the academy to shinobi ranks, and we could possibly have a serious threat on our hands. We all saw their trial against Jiraiya-sama… those three worked flawlessly. They shouldn't be that in tandem with one another, especially with knowledge that Lilith just recently joined the village." The Jonin Commander shook his head, sighing. "We can't afford for something catastrophic to happen, thus we are assigning an operative to shadow them during their time out of the village."

While everyone nodded, the Hokage turned to Inu, who had been completely still and silent so far. "Operative Inu, you have been chosen to carry out this mission. Should you agree, you will be expected to spy on fellow Konoha shinobi. Do you accept?"

Inu nodded, standing a little straighter, saluting his leader. "Yes, Hokage-sama." He replied dutifully.

"So we've resorted to spying on children now…" Hiashi sighed. "I will see what Neji knows, then." He nodded towards the Hokage. "We only have a couple days before they leave, though. What if I can't attain any information by then? Neji and I aren't the closest of kin."

"We don't expect you to figure everything out right away." Shikaku began. "Plant the seed – water it slowly – that is our way. Sooner or later one of them will slip up and give us some crucial piece of information that will lead us to the truth, even if it seems unimportant." Hiashi looked at the man who led the jonin forces with a sliver of admiration in his eyes. It was true, Nara Shikaku could easily expose an entire coup with a single word; it was just how his mind worked. He was always a hundred and thirty steps ahead of everyone else in the room – hell, probably the entire village.

Nodding, Hiashi stood, bowing slightly to the Hokage. "If that is all, Hokage-sama, then I will take my leave now." Seeing Hiruzen nod slightly, Hiashi took that as permission to leave. He turned around and was almost out the door before Shikaku spoke once more.

"Be careful, Hiashi." The Nara Head warned. "We have no idea what the Rinnegan is truly capable of. Keep your wits about you."

Hiashi nodded before leaving the room, his mind on his brother's son…

What was Neji up to?

Minato and Kushina watched as Naruto hovered in the air, his legs crossed and his eyes closed, in front of Kurama, the entity he called his son. He was meditating, they decided. Exactly what he was trying to accomplish was lost to them, but if his facial expressions were anything to go by, it was something extremely difficult.

And then, the blond's eyes snapped open. "Now, Kurama!" he shouted. And with the verbal command, Naruto's still small form burst into crimson. The Yellow Flash and his wife watched as their son was surrounded in the Kyuubi's "demonic" chakra, a single tail swinging behind him.

Even with how long it had been, that chakra still unnerved Kushina. Memories of close calls flooded her mind, nervousness washing over her body. It was unjust, and she understood that, but she had associated everything bad in the world with that chakra, and habits, unfortunately, died hard.

Minato had seen his wife's anxiousness and had wrapped a single arm around her waist, smiling when her eyes met his. And just like that, Kushina was okay again. Damn her incredibly handsome husband and his absolutely dangerous control over her. A single smile should not be enough to melt her away!

"Again, it's the same…" Naruto whispered. Sighing, he let the chakra cloak that encased him fade away, returning it to his son, before closing his eyes and pondering on his current task once again. "I know it is more compatible… so what is it?"

The blond felt a strong hand on his shoulder, turning him around to meet the eyes of his father's. "Explain what you're trying to do and maybe we can help." Minato gave his son his winning smile and, just like with his wife, it was super effective.

Naruto decided that his father's charisma was scary. "I've noticed that my body in this life is abnormally compatible with Bijuu chakra." He began to explain. "So much, in fact, that I believe I can now transcend what was previously possible, and complete synchronize with my children's chakra." Seeing the slightly confused looks on his parents' faces, he elaborated. "Anyone, with enough practice, can draw in a Bijuu's chakra and use it in battle, which is what you saw earlier." Raising his palm upward, the crimson chakra sprung to life around him, encasing him in a blood-red cloak. "But with my new body, it should be possible for me to truly bond with Kurama's chakra, to completely meld with it. I'm not entirely sure why, but my new body is so compatible with Bijuu chakra it's almost freakish. I've never seen anyone with this kind of chakra resonance."

Both Minato and Kushina puffed out their chests in pride. "He gets it from his mother." Minato said, bringing said red head closer to him with the arm that was still wrapped around her.

"Maybe…" Naruto said, wondering. "But even factoring in the Uzumaki's vitality, it's still a phenomenon. Bijuu are fragments of a literal treasure of kami. Their chakra can literally be described as divine… for a human child to be so in touch with it is… odd. Even Hamura and I were not so in touch with divinity at first."

Talking about divinity like it was the most normal thing in the world was still somewhat hard for them to process. Naruto had told his parents about his origins, and while they were fascinated, they were also a bit unnerved. To know that there were gods that watched them every second of every day was a bit… creepy, to say the least.

"If that's so, then what seems to be the problem?" Minato asked, curious.

"I'm not entirely sure…" Naruto admitted. "Every time I call Kurama's power, something's… blocking it. I can use his chakra, but I can't synchronize with it, even though my body, in theory, is capable of it." This was something that was bothering him for a while now. It felt as if…

When Naruto's eyes widened, Minato began. "What is it?"

Naruto shook his head, his face expressing his pondering. "It's nothing…" he said. "But I think I might know what's holding me back…" He sighed. "I can't do anything about it right now, though, so let's drop the subject for the time being." He didn't want to worry his parents on the off chance he was right.

His parents did seem to want to just drop it, but they respected his choice and started another topic. "Have you decided what you're going to do with the Nibi and Hachibi?" Kushina asked. She knew her son wanted his creations back, but she wasn't sure how he was going to pull that off without starting another World War.

Naruto just smiled. "By whatever means necessary." He stated, looking up to Kurama to be met with a smirk of approval. While Kurama had the world's largest superiority complex, he still considered the other Bijuu his family. While he disliked some more than others – coughShukakucough – he still dreamed about the day they would all be back together with their father, complete and whole again. Some would like to think all the demonic Kyuubi no Kitsune dreamed about was death and destruction, but the truth was that all he wanted in the world was his family again. Kurama was tired and lonely, but that all changed now that his father was back, and he'd help Naruto destroy heaven if that's what it took to reunite his brothers and sisters again.

The absolute conviction in their son's tone almost made them as wary as they were proud.

People could do terrible things for the sake of their family – Minato knew that first hand – and the fact that Naruto held more power in his pinky finger than most Kage's could turn out to be disastrous.

But that's why they were there. Both Minato and Kushina would make sure their son stayed on the righteous path he had created in his first life. Because no matter how wrong the world was, it was always worth saving. And they both knew that Uzumaki Naruto would be the one to save it.

Training with "Kagami" had been quite useful, if Naruto was honest. The art of stealth was actually extremely difficult for him at first. His previous life didn't ever call for subtlety. Usually, when there was a problem, he'd completely overpower whatever it was and be done with it. But now, in this era, where men and women could make themselves invisible and slit your throat as easily as cutting through butter, it was smart to have knowledge of the art and have at least some experience with it.

After only a couple days, however, Naruto became fascinated with stealth. He was able to complete erase his chakra signature, or, if he so chose, he could continuously change the nature of his chakra. He could be standing right in front of someone, and they wouldn't be able to sense him. They could obviously see him, but they couldn't feel him at all. And if he wanted to, he could warp reality around himself so that others could not see him either.

Suffice to say, after a week of practice, Naruto was sufficient enough in stealth that he wasn't sure he could find himself if he really tried to hide his presence.

Lilith, as well, was quick to pick of the art of stealth, but Naruto accounted that to her actually having a lot of experience with it. She had stalked the planet for centuries, watching over everything, without ever being caught. So she didn't count, since she already knew how to be sneaky.

Neji, on the other hand, was a source of amusement for a few weeks. Stealth just wasn't his brother's style, and the idea of sneaking around in the shadows did not make him happy. He was almost as direct as Naruto was, and he didn't have the motivation to learn how to hide himself from enemies. There wasn't an enemy in the world that would force Neji to run and hide. The only man he ever feared was his brother, and if Hagoromo truly wanted him dead, there was no running. There wasn't a place on or off the planet that Neji could hide. Thankfully, Naruto was his big brother, and loved him very much, so he didn't have to worry about that scenario ever anyways.

Naruto, however, was able to convince Neji to learn the basics after a few days of stubborn defiance. Lilith may or may not have helped, not that she would ever admit it. She was just happy that she had done something naughty with her husband since they were reunited, even if it was incredibly juvenile and not as satisfying as what she had in mind. But she took whatever she could get, and it was for a good cause, a win-win if there ever was one.

So it was with a satisfied smile that Naruto walked back to the Uchiha Compound with his brother and Lilith, happy that they were so close to getting two more of his children back. It would only be another couple of days before the departed for Kumo, and that meant that both Gyuuki and Matatabi would be freed in a few days. It had been so long since he had seen them, and he couldn't wait to have more family with him. This era was too dark, too dreary without the brightness of the sun, and to Naruto, his creations and family were his sun. His bright stars that lit up the big, dark skies that threatened to swallow everything up without mercy.

"Hmm," a masculine and familiar voice spoke from Naruto side suddenly, the man not being there in the last blink of an eye. "You seem rather chipper. Got a date?" Jiraiya of the Sannin had appeared out of thin air next to Naruto, almost surprising him. Almost.

"I'm eight, Jiraiya-sama." Naruto replied without hesitation. "I don't date." The blond kept his eyes forward, not meeting the curious orbs of this era's great sage.

"I wonder…" Jiraiya asked, a knowing smirk on his face that Naruto was able to see without looking. "Alright kid, how's getting a bite to eat sound? My treat." The sage offered warmly, almost genuine even. If it were anyone else, it may have worked, but not on Naruto. He could smell the deception, could feel the uneasiness for Lilith the man felt. He couldn't hide his true intention from him, not as close as they were now.

"Okay." He agreed. He turned to Neji and Lilith and smiled. "I'll talk to you guys later." Neji's eyes met his for only a slight moment, and in that moment Neji knew everything Naruto was thinking.

So with a slight nod, Neji smiled at Naruto and bowed his head to Jiraiya, Lilith mirroring him, before he took his wife and left for the Compound, letting his brother take care of it. For anyone else, everything would have seemed to be nothing but a team parting ways for the day, but not for Jiraiya. The Sannin knew exactly that the passing of information had just occurred. For it all to happen with only a single glance was stunning, and it made Jiraiya even more nervous.

"Well then, let's be on our way." the white-haired man stated. "Do you have any preferences?"

Naruto smirked. "Yeah… I do."

"Ramen…?" Jiraiya asked. "You like… ramen?" He asked, almost not believing the fact.

Slurping up some delicious noodles, Naruto smiled, nodding his head eagerly. "It's my favorite." The blond admitted. "I've been coming here since I was five. The owners are really nice to me, to everyone really. If I could get away with it, I'd live off the stuff, but if I come here too many times a week, Teuchi-san won't make it for me." He chuckled softly. "He worries about my health."

They had arrived at Ichiraku Ramen a few minutes prior, honestly surprising Jiraiya a great deal. This was the place the boy's mother loved so much…

"I see." Jiraiya smiled. "Well that's very responsible of Teuchi-san, isn't it?" A small moment of silence passed, the two just enjoying their meals, before the Gama Sennin spoke up once more. "Naruto, you mind if I ask you a personal question?"

Naruto turned to the man, his eyes studying Jiraiya's face. "Yeah, go ahead."

"Who are you?"

Complete silence fell on them, the entire restaurant seemingly freezing. Nothing was said, and nothing moved.

"I'm Uzumaki Naruto." Naruto answered after a short pause.

Jiraiya just smirked. "Yeah… Stupid question, sorry." The Sennin then went back to eating his meal, trying his level best to confuse Naruto in the hopes of him giving accidental information. It was an old trick that old man Sarutobi used to use on him.

Naruto observed Jiraiya, the way his lips quirked, the way his eyes slightly narrowed…

Jiraiya knew something.

Time to improvise.

"May I ask you a personal question?" Naruto asked. The white-haired man gave the boy a sidelong look before nodding his head. "Is it true that you're a real Sage? That you can actually enter the honorable Sage Mode?"

Jiraiya almost choked on the broth that was in his mouth. Sage Mode? How in the world did his godson know anything about "the honorable Sage Mode"? While the fact that Jiraiya was a sage of Mount Myoboku wasn't exactly classified information, it was still rather secretive, since senjutsu was one of the most powerful techniques that a human could learn. For an eight year old to have even the slightest of knowledge of it was a bit disconcerting.

"Yes." Jiraiya answered honestly. "I am capable of reaching Sage Mode. To my knowledge, I'm the only human in the world who can use it at the moment." He wasn't going to mention Orochimaru, since his greatest friend and rival – and now enemy – couldn't actually master it. "How do you know anything about that?"

Naruto just smiled. "And that means that you're the only person who could possibly sense the presence of Natural Energy, right?"

Jiraiya visibly narrowed his eyes, a dangerous look within those dark orbs that had seen more war than they wished to admit. Knowing about Natural Energy was not common knowledge, and now the toad Sannin was more suspicious than discrete.

"Who are you?" Jiraiya asked with a deathly quiet voice. Godson's face or not, the pupil of Sarutobi Hiruzen would destroy anyone who was a threat to Konoha.

Natural Energy was literally in everything. The ground, even when cemented over, could be used to draw out Natural Energy. The atmosphere contained Natural Energy in spades, certainly enough to enter Sage Mode if needed. Even oxygen held Natural Energy, if only small amounts. The entire world was made up of the stuff – even on other planets. It was proof that it was all made by one being.

For ordinary people, this energy remained hidden, out of view. If one wasn't a sage, they could and most likely would go their entire lives without even knowing of Natural Energy's existence. If one was a sage, though, like Jiraiya, one could sense to movement of Natural Energy easier than the flow of the chakra within their own bodies. It was so prominent once you were taught to utilize it that even the slightest movement of it was like the sun suddenly setting in the afternoon.

So when enough Natural Energy to allow one to stay in Sage Mode for years started to cling to Uzumaki Naruto like a long lost lover, almost crying out in joy at the reunion, Jiraiya literally froze. He was so overwhelmed by the amount of Natural Energy that was being built up next to so incredibly fast that he honestly couldn't move.

While Jiraiya was capable of entering Sage Mode, he was never able to completely master it. He was just proficient enough to be titled a Sage by the toads of Mount Myoboku, but even then, his use of senjutsu paled in comparison with what really could be done with the stuff. The aged Sennin had been of the opinion that no one could ever absorb this much Natural Energy… but… he was witnessing it with his own eyes…

Stone. Naruto was going to turn to stone! Forgetting about his previous suspicion, Jiraiya stood from his seat, ready to summon that god awful stick Fukasaku-sama used on him when he was learning the secrets of senjutsu.

Just before he could reach his full height, Jiraiya felt a small hand on his shoulder pushing back down into his seat. With stunned awe, the Sannin stared into the eyes of Uzumaki Naruto, the gilded Rinnegan staring back at him. Naruto smiled, standing.

The blond leaned in close to Jiraiya, the aged man actually gulping slightly, and whispered into the ear of one of the most powerful men of the era. "Why don't you ask Gamamaru who I am?"

And with that, Naruto was gone, leaving a thoroughly shocked Jiraiya the Gallant.


What just happened…?

Naruto Shunshined into the Uchiha Compound, sighing as he let the Mother's Gift leave his body, the energy reluctant to separate after so much time being apart. The Mother's Gift was almost living energy, with a mind of its own. And Naruto's chakra was like a beacon for the stuff. Right now, it was like a child meeting its parent for the first time. It didn't want to let go, to fade back into the world, but it had no choice. Naruto couldn't walk around with it in his body forever…

Well, technically he could, but it would become awfully complicated to do simple things since he'd have the strength of a thousand men in his fingers.

"Did everything work out, nii-san?" Neji asked, Lilith at his side holding his arm close to her body.

Naruto smiled at his family, nodding. "I've given him both information and incentive. Now it's up to him to use it." Naruto didn't really want to involve Jiraiya, but his parents expressed the benefits of having a man of Jiraiya's stature as an ally. He couldn't risk just telling the man though, so Naruto decided to do it as discreetly as he could. The fact that Jiraiya was a sage made his decision clear. The seeds were planted, now it was up to Jiraiya to water them.

"Well then," Lilith started, grabbing both Naruto and Neji, "we have some preparing to do, don't we?" she asked with a smile on her face.

Her dream the other night was unimportant now. She was accepted, a part of the family now. The past was the past.

Author's Note's: So I've been thinking about this story for a long time now, and I now have an ending planned, and an AMAZING sequel that will be a crossover. Now I just need to hurry up and actually write more.

As most of you have noticed, I'm developing the real Naruto's (from canon) personality a bit, if incredibly slowly. Naruto didn't exist when Hagoromo became him, so it's really only been Hagoromo. Now, though, the Naruto we all know and love is starting to bleed through, and this will have a certain impact on the story a little later on. That impact was mentioned briefly in this chapter. *Hint Hint*

Please Review! I'm like a vampire, except I feed off your reviews instead of your blood.

Question: I'm planning on doing a Naruto x Justice League or Naruto x Young Justice crossover. I need help on deciding some stuff, though. Is anyone up for some back and forth story ideas? (Knowledge of the Justice League Universe is required.)

Fact: I've beaten the Mass Effect trilogy more than twenty times… (each game…) I started out with playing Mass Effect 2, and I was addicted. I went out and bought the first game, completely beat it like twenty times, and when Mass Effect 3 came out, me and my friends had it beat and were doing Gold missions online before the first month we had it ended. It actually surprises me that I haven't written a Mass Effect story yet. I've always liked Naruto x Mass Effect crossovers, but I just haven't tried my hand at one yet.