A/N: Alright. Lot of love, and I appreciate it guys. However. I am a little tired of getting 'I hope you're continuing this story' messages. I am continuing this story. I am also trying to continue all my other stories. But I do have a life. I tend to have extended leaves of absence from writing for various reasons. I might have writer's block, or I might be working five days a week, and running errands the other two. I get that you guys want more of the story to enjoy. Trust me, I've been there. But constantly telling me how you hope I'm not abandoning it, or begging me to update, does not stop my life from rolling. I work on the stories I have when I can. Please, be patient. On that note, on to reviews!
Novafyre: I managed to somehow not gag at the image, but now I need brain-bleach. So thanks for that.
AmethystPone: A succinct summary if ever I've seen one.
Soulo: Why thank you.
Usedtowrite: I do indeed appreciate it. And thank you for being courteous about it.
And that, ladies and gents, guys and gals, children of aaaaalll ages, is about it for this time round. Questions? Comments? Gripes? Complaints? Leave 'em in the reviews. Also, just an FYI about the reviews. I do, personally, read every single one posted. I just pick and choose which to respond to, usually when I feel it needs addressed. So, if you're worried I won't see what you have to say, fear not citizen! The mighty writey is here to read!... wait... shit I said that wrong. Uhh, quick cut to the story!
Chapter 53: Troubles of Moving, and other Exodus Issues.
"Naruto, we don't have enough blankets for everyone," Zabuza said as he walked into the tent, a frown on his face. The answer he received was an explosive sigh.
"Of course we don't. Why would we when we're short of food, shelter, and just about every other goddamn thing we need for moving a group this large."
"You'd think Shinobi would consider to bring rations and bedrolls on a journey of any length," Nagato mused from the side of the table laid out in the tent from which Naruto was trying to co-ordinate the move of nearly a thousand people from Konoha to the Ruins of Uzu.
"How many merchants and other clanpeople have joined us since we left?"
"Well," Konan said as she leafed through papers, leaning back in her chair and crossing her legs. "When we first left, it was the seven of us, plus the girl Zabs brought,"
"Oi!" Zabuza sniped at the nickname, that Naruto had somehow gotten almost everyone else to adopt for him.
"Your dad, cousin and aunt, the eleven other who call themselves the Konoha Twelve for some reason,"
"There's twelve of us and we're from Konoha. Not that hard," Naruto supplied brusquely as he shuffled through yet more papers on the table before him.
"And roughly three hundred Hyuuga clan members. So, given our current head count is nine-hundred and seventy-two... about six hundred some-odd people have joined our little travel train. At least half are civilians, a good portion are from outside of Konoha."
"A rather decent start to a new village, ne?" Kisame chuckled.
"The issue with that, Kisame, is that we're still two hundred miles, a water channel, and a ring of vicious riptides away from the actual village part," Naruto groused. "And unless some of those merchants have ships that can carry everyone AND survive the whirl ring, we're shit out of luck on transporting the civilians to the Uzu ruins."
"Why not build a bridge with you're Mokuton?" Sasori asked.
"The Uzumaki Whirl Tides are designed through fuinjutsu to destroy basically anything that passes over them under a certain altitude, and if's it a chakra construct, it makes the individual whirlpool that did so stronger," Nagato explained. "Arashi-oji was quite adept at foiling invasion attempts."
"Yeah, Ji-san was awesome. And we're awesomely screwed because of it." Naruto was attempting to not rip his hair out with the stress.
"Why not use the back channel?" came a gravelly voice from the tent entrance. Naruto looked up to see who had spoken,
"Ah, Kakuzu, so nice of you to infiltrate my camp and enter my command tent unannounced."
"We had a meeting scheduled."
"Yes we did, and I do apologize that it's under these circumstances. Now, before we talk business, what back channel?"
"Arashi built a back channel on the other side of the island for emergency evacuations out to sea."
"How do you know about this?" Nagato narrowed his visible eye at the man.
"Because I suggested it to him." stunned silence followed this declaration. "What? I've been around since the founding of Konoha. And the Uzumaki were some of my best customers. Paid quite well for intel and artifacts."
Naruto sighed once more and pinched the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes.
"If this is your way of saying we have to pay you exorbitant amounts of cash to ensure your service, I'm sorry to tell you, at this point, we're basically broke. All the money we do have will have to go toward rebuilding once we're on the island, establishing trade deals, blah blah blah."
"Actually," Kakuzu started. "I was going to go pro bono on this job." the other members of the Akatsuki, or what used to be the Akatsuki anyway, felt their jaws drop at this declaration, and Naruto flinched slightly.
"And may I ask why that is, or what you want?"
"First, Arashi saved my life on more than one occasion, so I owe him, and I don't like owing people."
"You do realize he's been dead for upwards of twenty years, yes?" Nagato supplied.
"Debt carries over to living relatives in most cases," Naruto sighed once more. "And since I'm the Clan head and grandson of the last one, any debts he owed or was owed transfer to me."
"Exactly," Kakuzu seemed slightly pleased at the boys deduction, if his green eyes crinkling slightly were any indication. "As for what I want... two things," he held up two fingers to illustrate. "I want to be the one to rip Hidan's heart from his chest."
"They always did hate each other," Itachi murmured from his corner, where he was dozing a bit, leaning back in a wooden chair, balancing on two legs.
"And the second thing?" Naruto asked tiredly, rubbing his shoulder to try to relieve some tension.
"I want to be your village accountant."
Naruto snapped his eyes open to stare at the hulking figure before him.
"May I ask why?"
"Will I receive an actual answer if I do?"
"Only one way to find out."
"Alright," Naruto said in exasperation, throwing his hands in the air with a huff. "I'll bite. Why do you want to be my village accountant, as well as performing Guard duties and any other missions I might send you on?"
"Because I'm good with numbers. Because I don't want some stupid brat who thinks he can ensure a village survives based on his math skills to screw over what promises to be a lucrative investment. Because I want this village to succeed, and the best way for that to happen is for me to handle the money."
Naruto narrowed his eyes at the goliath before him, unintimidated by his size, his muscles, or his strings as they were shown without his old Akatsuki cloak on.
"Why do you want this village to succeed so bad?"
"I'm half Uzumaki myself, if I'm being totally honest." Naruto blinked at the man in surprise as everyone else seemed to have a heart attack. "Believe it or not, Mito was my half-sister. Mother was raped and had me, didn't want me, left me in what would eventually become Takigakure."
"No Uzumaki would abandon a child like that, even one who was a product of rape," Nagato growled.
"Not strictly true," Naruto said absently. "There's only one reason an Uzumaki who was raped would ditch the kid. It's actually technically a clan law. You're half Shiranui."
"Shiranui?" Konan tilted her head in confusion, speaking up for everyone else in the room.
"The Shiranui were the only clan in history to rival the Uzumaki in terms of Fuinjutsu," Naruto explained. "But they tended to use things like curse marks and slavery seals. They were the Yin to the Uzumaki's Yang. The Dark to our Light. Where we avoided conflict unless forced, they sought it out and reveled in bloodshed. We focused on family, they focused on power."
"The Shiranui were completely wiped out decades ago," Kakuzu stated without a hint of emotion. "I saw to that personally."
"Hmm," Naruto said as he sat down in the chair behind him, which he had neglected until now.
"If he is half Shiranui," Nagato piped up. "We can't let him into our Village. It's against clan law."
"That's true," Naruto said absently, noting the slight flinch in Kakuzu's shoulders. "However, he is also half Uzumaki, and we aren't known for abandoning our own."
"But..." Nagato turned to argue with his young leader, only to fall silent at the glare he received. A glare that could freeze the sun.
"We do not abandon our own, Nagato. On top of that, he personally wiped out the whole clan."
"All seven hundred and sixty-four of them."
"How many children?
"There weren't any. I checked. I may be a blood-thirsty mercenary, but even I have rules."
"Please," Naruto grinned. "Enlighten me on these rules."
"I don't kill anyone younger than fifteen, I never leave a contract unfinished, and I always settle my debts."
"Well, Uzumaki Kakuzu," Naruto grinned, enjoying seeing the man go ramrod straight. "Welcome to our happy family."
Kakuzu started to bend at the waist, but was stopped by Naruto speaking up again.
"Just know if you betray your family in any way, you'll have the full might of two Rinnegan, Itachi's Mangekyo Sharingan, and the Kyuubi no Kitsune rainign down on your head before you can blink."
"Understood," Kakuzu said, his gravelly voice ringing forth with heavily disguised emotion.
"Now, tell me about this back channel."
A/N: Yeah, it's another short one. But I still hope you guys like it. I had a hard time with this one. I'm just... tired, I guess. I don't know. Hopefully next time, I'll be able to make a longer chapter, and throw in some action or something. We'll see. Ja Ne!