Original Publish Date: 26th-November-2016


A/N: This chapter is disgustingly full of fluff, so you can give it a pass… or it may have a very important subliminal message, in which case you should definitely read it. The choice, as always, is yours :)

This one goes out to Gnarled Bone. My friend, I hope you like this side of Mei as much as her predatory side ;)


Chapter 27 – Interlude: What the Water Gave Me / Crashed


Part I: What the Water Gave Me

Time it took us

To where the water was

That's what the water gave me

And time goes quicker

Between the two of us

Oh, my love, don't forsake me

Take what the water gave me

- What The Water Gave Me, Florence + the Machine


The Morning after the Coronation Party: Terumī Mei

Mei woke up feeling better than she had in a long time.

Spending a breathless night with a talented lover tended to have that result.

Without opening her eyes, she snuggled deeper into the silk sheets. A soft smile graced her lips as 'Nanashi's scent enkindled the memories of the previous night- one that had been in the making for a long time. She had tried her level best to have that night when she had defeated Yagura and played with Katagiri, but 'Nanashi' had stubbornly resisted. All things considered it was probably for the best, because she hadn't recovered completely from her injuries against the former Mizukage.

All it had taken for his long resistance to finally break was inciting a little jealousy.

It hadn't been intentional, and she hadn't played it up for his benefit either, but all the same she hadn't let the opportunity go to waste. She should have realized that 'Nanashi' was the jealous sort; because she herself was the same. She still wasn't sure about what to do with this Anko, but she sure as hell wasn't going to let her have a free shot at 'Nanashi' anymore; especially now that she had finally sunk her claws into him. And hadn't the sinking been fun…

Her smile widened as she luxuriously stretched and finally opened her eyes, expectantly looking to her side…

To find an empty bed.

She blinked in surprise.

Well… that was new.

Usually she was the one who disappeared in the morning.

Her body was still relaxed after being treated so generously last night, so she didn't really feel any panic or any hurt. Instead, she calmly stretched out her awareness and realized that the balcony door was open. She sat up on the bed and looked out the door…

And found the man she had been searching for in her bed out on the balcony.

Her soft smile returned as she observed his profile leaning on his elbows on the balcony, similar to how she had found him after he walked out of the party last night. But unlike the previous evening his posture was entirely relaxed, evidenced by the fact that one foot was crossed behind the other. He was clad in only a white pair of silk pyjama bottoms, his torso left bare. She could see various scars across his back and left side, faded pink but still noticeable. She raked her eyes across his muscles, drinking in the sight of his powerful frame. Her sight lingered on the blue Sealing Matrix tattoos on his left arm; seeing her favourite colour on his skin inexplicably soothed her sense of possessiveness. His loose blond mane was waving wildly in the wind, giving her the sudden urge to sink her face into his hair.

Well, she could do that. Only, she would get him to come to her instead- early morning sex would be a fantastic way to start the day.

She immediately sat up and set about fixing the sheet around her body, presenting the illusion of modesty while creating a (hopefully) irresistible view.

After all, just because she had finally lured her target to her bed didn't mean that his seduction was over.

Once Mei was done with the sheet she turned her gaze back to him, recalling the events of the previous night once more. The passion he showed during their first coupling, the fire in his eyes as he stared at her after, the way he still wanted her, still desired her… the way their hands simultaneously reached for each another a second time…

And then there was the way their chakras had harmonized.

It had been completely unintentional, but it had still somehow happened. And she was sure that, if she focused inside herself, she would still feel him… and he would be able to feel her. Just like the time they had used the Seal of Truth on each other; only this time, they hadn't used any technique whatsoever.

She would ponder the implications another time.

But right now, she was reminded of the dark clouds, the unspeakable agony in his spiritual essence, in his past. Something horrific was present there, and it clearly hadn't healed over the past almost 2 years that she had known him. Perhaps she should talk to him about it?

Mei spied movement out of the corner of her eye, and she looked up to realize that the subject of her thoughts had realized she was awake and had walked back in. Spying her enticingly covered form he raked his gaze over her, much like she had been doing a few minutes ago; his gaze lingering in particular on her naked thigh. He looked up to her eyes, grinning lazily; but she just sent a small smile his way, her mood having changed in the short while since she had arranged the sheet.

He seated himself at the foot of her bed and tilted his head questioningly. Softly, Mei asked the question she had been wanting to ask since they had first met.

"What's your name?"

She was surprised to see the darkness clouding his eyes- the very same dark clouds she had been contemplating a minute ago, no less. She had no idea that the two were related. His gaze dropped and his shoulders tensed, and Mei was suddenly aware of the shift in the atmosphere of the room.

He didn't say anything for a while as he gathered his thoughts. When he finally spoke, his voice was gravelly. "A few months before I met you, I had… an enemy. He had taken everything from me, my family, my best friend, the girl I loved… I spent years tracking him down. When I finally found him, in order to kill him, I used a technique which was… that I didn't fully understand."

She was disconcerted to see his eyes glimmering with tears as his fists clenched.

His next words shocked her to her core.

"It was supposed to be a suicide technique."

The strained silence was telling. What could have forced him to go to such extreme lengths?

"Instead, once he was dead… I'm still paying the price. It took away my identity. Everyone I knew and loved is gone, but it took whatever I had left. It took away my name. I know what it used to be, but it's not my name anymore. It doesn't… fit me, like an old set of clothes. I have my memories, but nobody I knew is in the village anymore. Nobody in the village knows who I am either. Nobody… nobody recognises me anymore. I'm… lost."

It wasn't the whole truth.

She didn't have to be a master manipulator to know that (which, as a Kage, she was.) There were a lot of obvious holes in the story.

But… it wasn't a lie. He was telling her something deeply intimate, something that was affecting him even now. He probably couldn't tell her more, as Konoha secrets were obviously involved.

Which was why, instead of satisfying her curiosity, she leaned forward and put her hand atop his clenched fists. He snapped out of his dismal reverie, blinking in surprise at the extremity that suddenly appeared on top of his own; before he took her proffered hand gratefully in his own. He exhaled loudly and let the tension drain out from his entire body while he clasped her hand like a lifeline. He understood the gesture for what it was: Mei wordlessly telling him that no matter how lost he felt, he would always find a place with her.

Using their clasped hands she pulled him into an embrace, and rested his head on her bosom while she fulfilled her earlier urge to bury her face in his hair.

It wasn't enough to dispel his darkness, but maybe it was a start.


16 Days Later, Mizukage's Office: Terumī Mei

Nanashi looked utterly knackered. Even a full day of doing nothing save eating and sleeping wasn't enough to restore him to his normal vitality. He had poured an obscene amount of chakra into the forging of the twin chakrams that were now affixed to his back; consequently, he wouldn't be in fighting shape for a few days at the very least.

And yet, he was here to tell her he was leaving.

Not that he had said it in words; he hadn't needed to. His forlorn face said it all.

Mei had hoped that he would take the hint that she had blatantly given in front of the entire village (via Miharu) and stay in Kiri… that he would stay with her. Hoped… but not expected.

That didn't make it hurt any less.

It was clear from his expression that it wasn't an easy decision for him either, especially after the way he had opened up to her the morning after her coronation.

But she would forever regret it if she didn't even try to change his mind.

Mei left her spot next to the window and walked over to him. She reached up to tug down his mask and kissed him. She poured all her emotion into the action, and it conveyed all that she couldn't say in words. Once the long kiss trailed off, she kept her hands around his head while he rested his forehead against hers, his hands around her waist.

Mei swallowed. "Stay," she whispered. She heard his breath hitch, and uncharacteristically lost her nerve. "For a while," she added, even as she cursed herself for being a coward. It wasn't what she truly wanted, but it was better than nothing.

Nanashi's eyes were still shut, and she could feel his increased heartbeat under her palms. "Don't you have a country to run?" he asked, equally softly.

Mei's lips twitched as she fought back a smile. "Well, this scoundrel I know suggested that I use a Kage Bunshin to discharge my duties while I slack off."

She saw his lips pull into a ghost of his characteristic mischievous grin. "Scoundrel huh? Sounds like he's a bad influence on you."

Mei theatrically sighed. "The worst. But I suppose it's my own fault for associating with such an unsavoury character."

His grin widened as he finally opened his eyes. He was close to agreeing; she could sense it. After a moment of consideration, he suddenly asked a seemingly off-topic question. "How long does it take to forge a good weapon?"

Mei blinked in surprise. "I would have thought that after spending two weeks with the blacksmith you would…" Oh. Oh.

Mei's grin widened to match Nanashi's. "I'm reliably told by my master blacksmith that it takes anywhere between four and five weeks to produce a weapon worthy of being called as such."

"I see." Nanashi's voice then dropped to a husky tone, "And what about the queen with the poor taste in companions?"

Mei's eyes shone in amusement at his flattery. "Well, after leading an underground insurrection for over three years, she deserves a vacation… don't you think?"

"What kind of vacation does she have in mind?" he asked, still in that husky tone.

He was teetering, and Mei obligingly provided the final push to send him over the brink. "Hmm… the kind with lots of private beaches, sunbathing, massages, drinking… who knows what kind of… trouble she could get up to after all that?"

Mei had him at 'private beaches'; but, as befitting a woman capable of spewing lava, she didn't believe in the concept of overkill. His bright blue eyes were gleaming by the time she enunciated 'trouble'.

"Well then, looks like it's back to the forge for me," he murmured, and his resulting kiss made her toes curl.

While her thoughts were still scrambled, he said firmly, "Make a clone."

Mei blinked. "Right now?"

Nanashi grinned, "No time like the present!"

Mei dropped her hands from his head and twisted them into the cross seal, causing a Kage Bunshin to pop into existence. "I'll need a few minutes to pack-"

Suddenly, the fabric of the universe twisted around her. Images and sounds flickered around her as she experienced… something, but didn't realize what it was until her eyes cleared…

… From a yellow flash.

Mei looked around incredulously, noticing that they were suddenly surrounded by an archipelago that was hundreds of kilometres from Kiri. "Did we just…?"

Nanashi was beaming, his earlier haggardness seemingly having completely disappeared. "Yes, we did," he replied as he finally let go of her waist.

Mei took a step back and looked at the island they were on.

It was breathtaking. There wasn't another word to describe it.

It wasn't very large, but it's distinguishing feature was that it was only separated from the adjacent green island by a shallow stretch of water that they could wade across. The sand was a fine pristine white, the kind that didn't get into your pockets and other uncomfortable places and itch. The water was perfectly clear, she could clearly see the fishes and crabs at the bottom of the sandy ocean floor. It gained a blue tint as it deepened, before finally turning a gorgeous green as it opened into the vast expanse of the ocean.

And the best part?

The island was completely uninhabited.

Mei admired the scene for a long moment, before a thought struck her. Turning to Nanashi she said accusingly, "You planned this!"

His sheepish grin didn't detract from the fact that while she had been admiring her surroundings, he had been admiring her. "Guilty," he said with a small laugh, rubbing the back of his head.

Mei's eyes narrowed. "Are you even tired? Or was that an act too?"

He shook his head, "Nah… I'm still exhausted. That Hiraishin just now took a lot out of me."

Mei's eyes remained narrowed. "And did you have to make me go through that display? Was it all to soothe your male ego?"

He fidgeted a bit before explaining, "Not really… I wanted to take you before, but I wasn't sure how Kiri would take me kidnapping their Mizukage, so I'm glad you suggested the Kage Bunshin…"

Mei's eyes narrowed further. "Are you aware that kidnapping any Kage is a capital offense?"

Nanashi's eyes widened. "I-"

"Silence." Mei's tone was dangerously quiet.

He gulped. "Yes ma'am."

Mei's eyebrows drew together as he realized his mistake. She took two steps forward and shoved him, using chakra to ensure that he stumbled and fell over.

But before he could scramble up, Mei had straddled him. His hands automatically went to her hips as he stared wide-eyed at her. Just as she saw him grin and felt his arousal build up underneath her, Mei wrapped a hand around his throat, using her nails to ensure that he felt it.

Now that they were away from civilization, he could have fought against her without holding back, and with the Hiraishin he could likely even win. But in his current exhausted state, he couldn't do anything- and he knew it.

As she imperiously stared down at him, she revelled in his powerlessness. She savoured that mixture of confusion, arousal and a hint of fear in his blue eyes. She tightened her grip on his neck and felt his fingers reflexively tighten on her hips in response.

Then she smirked and leaned down to kiss him.

It wouldn't do for him to think he could use any weakness against her.

Dominating him seemed like an excellent way to ensure that he didn't attempt to do so in the future.

As she used her other hand to reach underneath herself and unzip his pants, Mei mused that this was a rather excellent start to her vacation.


2 Days Later, Unnamed Island: Terumī Mei

"I'm back!" Nanashi called from the 'porch' of their makeshift Doton dwelling.

"Coming!" Mei called back. He had gone to make a supply run, and Mei had prepared a small surprise for him in the meanwhile. Her trusted vanity, one that she carried around everywhere, had once again risen to the occasion. Carrying around the sealed piece of furniture was a habit that she had picked up during the days of the Resistance, and she simply hadn't discontinued it after returning to Kiri. A wise decision, as it turned out.

She surveyed herself in the mirror one last time, and nodded in satisfaction. She had worn a small navy bikini top- one that barely contained her generously proportioned breasts- and a long beach skirt that reached her ankles. The melting dark blue, green and purple colours of the skirt didn't detract from the fact that it was translucent… and the lack of panty lines underneath it was obvious.

She couldn't wait to see his reaction.

Hiding her anticipation, she demurely walked outside, where she was greeted by a surprise of her own.

It wasn't the fact that he was in a pair of orange shorts and nothing else. It wasn't even the pitcher of piña colada that was present on the makeshift table, next to the ice-box that contained their shopping.

It was the fact that he was, to Mei's growing amusement, slurping on an orange popsicle.

She really should stop being surprised at his endearingly adolescent actions.

It took him a moment to catch sight of her as he slurped noisily; but once he did he froze, while the frozen lolly dangled from his lips.

Suppressing her amusement (somewhat unsuccessfully) Mei sashayed forward. Coming to a stop right in front of him, she gracefully bent- coquettishly offering him an enticing view- poured herself a glass of the delicious looking piña colada and seated herself, well aware of his eyes tracking her every curve, her every move. She softly wrapped her lips around the glass and swallowed the cocktail, cognizant of his eyes tracking the movement of her throat.

Just as she finished her sip, the inevitable happened.

His popsicle broke in half.

Mei hid her smile behind her glass as she watched him jump in place, doing his best to melt the half of the popsicle in his mouth before it froze his tongue solid. He finally reached in and took it out in his other hand, and then quickly alternated between licking the two pieces before they melted in the summer sun.

The visible difference between the two could not have been more stark- Nanashi hilariously fumbling with his broken lolly, Mei elegantly sipping on her cocktail.

Once he was done with his sticky treat, he turned back to her and blatantly started checking her out again. "Wow," he finally said.

Mei couldn't bear it any longer and burst out laughing.

Even his tongue was now orange.


Later That Night, Unnamed Island: Terumī Mei

They had spent the full day next to their small dwelling, mostly on the porch but occasionally wandering down to the beach and the water. They had spent the day talking, laughing and getting steadily more drunk, and even their frequent bouts of lovemaking weren't enough to burn through the alcohol in their bodies.

It was only about 6 in the evening, but after a look at the heavens one could be forgiven for thinking it was midnight. The starlight illuminated the white sand with an enchanting glow, while the moon was lazily lying in the sky like a succulent watermelon. The loud crashing of the waves had faded to a few gentle splashes as the tide receded, giving way to a serene atmosphere. The two of them were lying in the sand with Mei spooning Nanashi, both completely bereft of any clothing. They had danced out to the moon last night, but it didn't look like there would be a repeat today. Mostly because Nanashi was on the verge of passing out, still not completely recovered from his exhausting ordeal in the forge. His defences were completely down right now…

…which was why Mei used the moment to strike.

"Nanashi-kun?"

"Hm?" He mumbled deliriously, already half asleep.

"Will you… leave Anko?" 'For me' went unsaid, but not unheard.

"I can't," he mumbled.

Mei's throat was suddenly very tight. "Why not?" she whispered, not trusting her voice with any more diction.

"She'll break if I leave her," he mumbled.

Given the state he was in, he probably wouldn't even remember the conversation the next day. It was ironic, because Mei wouldn't think of anything but that conversation the following day.

Despite her own exhaustion and intoxication, it was a long time before Terumī Mei fell asleep that night.


Part II: Crashed

And then I crashed into you,

And I went up in flames

Could have been the death of me,

But then you breathed your breath in me

Then I crashed into you,

Like a runaway train

You will consume me,

But I can't walk away

- Crashed, Chris Daughtry


5 Days Later, Unnamed Island: 4465617468

Usually, I woke up long before Mei did; and that's saying something, because I wasn't an early riser by any stretch of the imagination. I tended to go out and look at the ocean while I waited for her to join the land of the living…

…but not today. While I had awoken at my usual time, today I was… unable to leave the bed.

I cannot stress this fact enough- this was entirely against my will.

I could have woken Mei, but with the soft morning sunlight seemingly igniting her vibrant red hair and lighting her delicate features, she looked so angelic that I didn't have the heart to rouse her.

To make matters worse, my swollen bladder was insisting that I get up and do something to relax it. But unfortunately, my brain ignored that particular memo, one that became steadily more insistent.

Finally, well after the sun was up in the sky, Mei stirred, stretched and opened her eyes. She turned to me and I could see the surprise in her eyes to find me in her bed.

"Hi," she whispered, smiling softly.

"Hi," I whispered as I smiled back.

"You're in bed today," she whispered, still smiling her gorgeous smile.

A pause.

"Oh, you know, I was watching you sleep. It was nice. Peaceful."

Even this early in the morning (by her standards), her judgmental eyebrow was awake and doing it's thing; I shouldn't have expected her to buy such a corny line.

And then she looked down and noticed my predicament.

Her lips immediately started twitching with amusement, while my eyebrow started twitching in irritation. "Stop it."

"Stop what?" Mei asked innocently, her smile having gained a naughty edge.

"Stop laughing at me."

She bit her lower lip. "I'm not laughing," she said unconvincingly, visibly trying to reign in her laughter.

"Stop it and help me!" I growled.

But rather than heed my claims, Mei burst into giggles.

"Stop laughing dammit!"

My words didn't have the effect I hoped for; quite the opposite, as she ignored my heeding and increased her giggling.

"This is ridiculous!" I complained. "I am tangled in your hair!"

At the acknowledgment of my troubles, Mei giggling turned into open laughter.

Her luxurious ankle length hair had somehow twisted round and round me while I slept in the night, and it had effectively trapped me, made me her prisoner. I looked like some sort of bondage enthusiast with a fetish for red leather restraints, given the way her hair wrapped up my limbs.

"Oh shut up!" I continued complaining, but there was no way to stop her giggling.

"Well, I suppose you have no choice but to stay stuck to me," Mei said with a beaming smile.

I snorted. "It's not like you can take advantage of me; you can't even move your head that much!" Unless she wanted to rip out her hair, but that wasn't an option. Women who grow their hair out until it reaches their ankles don't even think of that option. Otherwise I would have cut off her hair using my Fūton manipulation hours ago.

"Can't I?" she asked breathily, and started trailing her teeth across my torso. She started at my left shoulder and slowly dragged them down over my heart, where she gave a playful bite.

I groaned and wiggled, but not for the reasons you might think.

"Looks like someone has submissive tendencies," Mei said with a new fire blazing in her eyes.

"Think less submissive tendencies, more bathroom break."

Mei's ravenous smile turned into a small grimace, and the moment was broken.

She sighed, and finally helped me get loose. As soon my limbs were free from her tresses, I shot up and ran to the bathroom. I won't lie, emptying my bladder at that point was one of the most relaxing things I've done in my life. I let out a long sigh of relief as the pitter-patter sound faded away.

I washed my hands and made my way back, to find Mei smiling with mirth dancing once again in her green eyes- and I noticed that she had again taken the time to make it appear that the sheet was on the verge of falling off her body. I rolled my own eyes but sat at the foot of her side of the bed, like I had done every morning since we got together.

"Atleast now I know what to do to stop you from escaping my clutches," Mei said with the kind of smile I usually have on my face.

"Yeah, because being the prisoner of the object of your desires is every man's dream," I said sarcastically. On reflection, perhaps it was, for some. Like Ero-Sennin.

"Is that how you see me? As an… object?"

Mei's tone had not varied in the slightest; even her eyes and the quirk of mouth still had that naughty tone from earlier. If it hadn't been for the almost imperceptible pause before the word 'object', I wouldn't have noticed anything wrong.

"Errr…" I swallowed. There wasn't any safe way to answer a question like this. Even if I answered in the negative (which I was almost sure was the right answer- but you could never tell with her), Mei would hound me until I slipped up. She loved to do this- trap me in her word games and watch me squirm.

And she hadn't even left the bed to begin her day.

Wildly following my instinct, I did what Ero-Sennin would do in a similar situation- baldly distract her and hope it worked. I mentally scrambled for a topic, then opened my mouth and let it do its thing.

"You know, I was thinking… you don't really have a cool nickname like mine. Sure, 'bodhisattva' is… religious and godly and stuff, and that's cool and all; but it lacks some 'oomph', you know?"

A quick look at Mei informed me that my distraction hadn't worked. In the least. She was still looking at me like I hadn't spoken at all. But rather than fold, I stubbornly stuck to my guns, even though I was in danger of succumbing to friendly fire. "So, I was thinking we could try out a few names for you and see if something sticks."

She had the perfect poker face as she watched me and made me squirm. But I was not going to fall for that trap. Again. "The Beautiful Bandit? 'Cause you were pretty much an outlaw for a long time?"

I shrank slightly as her eyebrow went back up. Intentionally misunderstanding her eyebrow's communication to mean that she hadn't liked the nickname- rather than not buying what I was shamelessly selling- I forged ahead. "The Sculpted Star?"

Mei's unimpressed look barely covered my own grimace. That sounded like it belonged in the Icha Icha novels. "The Fearless Felon?"

"Nanashi-ku-"

"The Foxy Feminist!" I interrupted loudly, before she could deride my terrible distracting skills.

Mei's other eyebrow went up. "Isn't a title like that against the spirit of feminism?"

I didn't dare react- otherwise Mei would realize she was in danger of falling for my distraction. "Hmm… The Honshu Hotshot? You know, cause you're from Honshu Island?"

"I wasn't aware that I was a teenage boy."

"The Managerial Mistress. 'Cause you're quite good at getting people to do things."

Somehow, against all odds, Mei's lips had started twitching in amusement. "Does it have to be alliterative adjectives?" Mei wondered- and this meant that she had fallen for the trap that I had so foolishly believed to be awful.

Never again would I doubt my tenacious talent.

Boisterously buoyed by the stupendous success of my evidently epic distraction, I courageously continued. "Of course; because one adjective just doesn't do justice to your awesomeness. Speaking of awesomeness… The Awesome Administrator?"

Mei was completely and utterly awed by my amazing distraction. In no way was she amused at my attempts to deflect the topic. There is absolutely no way that she let me do it in any way, shape or form. I will swear this till the day I die.

And then… inspiration struck.

"The Bodacious Badass."

"What!?" Mei burst out laughing.

"Hah!" I crowed as I pointed at her. "We have a winner!"

"No we don't! That's a terrible nickname!" Mei exclaimed.

"But it's the only one you reacted to! Therefore, you chose it!" I said, crossing my arms and nodding sagely.

"I will not be called-"

"It's too late! It's already decided," I said, nodding emphatically. Seeing Mei about to continue her futile protest I held up my hands, "Hey, I didn't make the rules!"

Mei stared at me, perhaps hoping to cow me into submission, but I would not be denied. "The Bodacious Badass… It has a nice ring to it, and it describes you perfectly. As a bonus, it will bump up your Bingo Book entry by a couple of pages. They tend to do that for people with… momentous monikers."

Right at that moment, in a movement that could not possibly have been a coincidence, the sheet covering Mei's bountiful breasts fell away, seemingly without any movement on Mei's part.

For a few seconds, I was understandably distracted by the heavenly sight in front of me.

And then, I physically wrenched my gaze up to her amused smirk. "No! I will not be distracted by your wanton wiles!" I cried while pointing at her, outrageously obscuring the fact that this entire conversation had been my own distraction to start with. "The Bodacious Badass will not bewitch me with her shameless slatternliness-"

It was at this point that Mei leaned forward and bewitched me with her shameless slatternliness; that is, she kissed me senseless.

I didn't resist, exactly, but then she started doing that thing she did with her tongue, and it drove all thoughts of my abstemious alliterative awesomeness from my mind.

Not that I complained.


The Next Day, The Second Unnamed Island: 4465617468

We found a clearing with a small waterfall about a foot taller than me while exploring the adjacent island, and decided on an impromptu picnic at the picturesque spot. Naturally, I was tasked with getting the materials for the picnic.

Once I Flashed back with the picnic basket, Mei smiled approvingly. "Having you around is definitely handy. I may just decide to keep you," she said.

I sniffed. "I knew you were the kind of woman who gets impressed by flashy things!"

Mei giggled and took the basket from my hands. "Lucky for you, you're the flashiest of them all," she said, not even trying to deny my accusation.

I grinned at her and took the other end of the checkered picnic blanket from her and helped her spread it on the ground.

Once we had eaten, Mei sat with her back to a tree and I had somehow ended up with my head in her lap. The feeling of Mei's slender fingers through my hair, the soft sounds of the overflowing waterfall and the occasional chirping bird made it one of the most peaceful afternoons I had ever experienced.

And then Mei began to sing.

I had heard her singing back at her house, and she occasionally hummed during the six months when she tortured me with sweet nothing…

… but this was completely different. There was something… profound about her wordless melody.

Music evokes different emotions from different people. The response to the same song from two people will almost always be different, because what they read into the song is dictated by their own life experiences. I felt that she was singing a sad song, yet it held an undeniable undercurrent of hope. It was probably an expression of her sadness during Kiri's divisive civil war, but the longer I heard Mei's song, the tighter my chest felt. It struck a poignant chord in me, and I was swept away by all the emotive memories it evoked. All the feelings I had repressed of my own time, all the hatred, all the hopelessness, the sickening depths I had sunk to, the soul crushing loneliness, the terror of my time travel - all of it came to the fore.

And then Mei abruptly stopped singing. I realized that my eyes were closed only after I opened them, to find the world looking strangely blurry. I saw Mei looking at the hand that had been running through my hair, only to find it glistening with water.

I felt confused. We weren't that close to the waterfall, and it wasn't raining. Where did the water come from?

And then I looked up to find Mei giving me a look of utter compassion.

I raised a trembling hand to my face, and as soon as I touched my damp cheeks I realized that the glistening water on Mei's hand were my own tears.

My breathing became faster as I looked back at Mei. There wasn't any pity in her gaze, only understanding and empathy, and I opened my mouth to explain, but then my throat was too tight for words to squeeze through and I wanted to tell her, to make her understand that I wasn't crying, well I was, but I wasn't sad, well I was sad but it wasn't because of her…

Mei smiled sadly at me, and I saw an echo of my own pain in her green eyes.

I can't explain the depth of the feeling that went through me when I realized that Mei understood.

She closed her eyes and went back to singing her sad song, leaning her head back against the tree; only now her soft hands were wiping my tears away instead of running through my hair.

I scrunched my eyes shut as her beautiful voice resonated in the clearing and in my soul, and did my best to pretend that I wasn't crying my heart out.


Later That Evening, Unnamed Island: 4465617468

When I woke up, it wasn't yet dark.

By the slight stiffness in my neck, I knew that my head was still in Mei's lap. I stirred and looked at Mei, who was giving me a gentle look that was loaded with too many meanings to decipher. "Hi," she said softly.

I swallowed, and realized that my throat was dry and my eyes itched. "Hi," I whispered back.

"You looked peaceful in your sleep. It was nice," she said with a small amused smile, referring to our encounter the previous morning.

I smiled back at her. "Well, I had a nice pillow." I reached up and took her hand in my own, squeezing it to convey my true meaning.

She smiled back, and we stayed that way for a while, as we looked into each other's eyes and wordlessly said all that we wanted to say.

I felt something strange in her hand, so I pulled it away and held it up in front of my face.

It was a long blond hair. Evidently mine. It must have come loose while I slept.

But… when I looked back at her, I saw something strange in her expression. "What?"

Mei fidgeted.

My eyes narrowed. Mei never fidgeted, rolled her eyes or did anything that normal people did to convey their frustration. It was probably against her Lady Code or something.

I sat up, and felt my world tilt.

Clumps of my preciously-grown, painstakingly-cared-for hair were lying everywhere.

For a moment, my heart stopped.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I hadn't cut off Mei's hair the previous morning when it had inadvertently imprisoned me, so how had she dared-

And then I heard Mei giggle.

When I opened my eyes again, I realized that I must have had a head rush or something; because contrary to what I had seen a moment ago, there were only seven such clumps of my hair. I immediately ran my hands through my hair, and my shoulders slumped in relief when I found the rest of it (mostly) in place.

Still giggling, Mei said, "The look on your face! Did you think I had cut off all your hair!?"

"Don't even joke about that!" I exclaimed, taking a horrified step away from the buxom redhead.

Mei's giggling increased when she saw my hands protectively covering my hair. "Well, you do have a nice head of hair-"

"Thanks, I grow it myself!"

She giggled at my horrible joke. "But it was getting a little unruly, so I shaped it."

I shot a suspicious look at the seven abandoned clumps of what was previously a part of my body, and then turned to Mei and raised my eyebrow, using her own trick against her. Her lips twitched in amusement, but acquiesced to my non-verbal request. She performed a few handseals, and a glob of water shot out from the small lake near the waterfall. The glob then lengthened and formed a reflective mirror in front of me. "For the record, I'm not surprised you know a technique like this, you vain creature."

Mei's lips twitched, "Says the man admiring himself in my mirror."

"I'm only checking to see I ever let you near my hair again," I said pompously, tilting and turning my head to see my new look.

"And what's the verdict?" Mei asked, still with that amused smile.

"Hmm…" I drawled out, stretching the moment as far as it would go. "Well, if the whole Mizukage thing doesn't work out, you could always become a hairdresser."

And there it was, her eyebrow was back and doing its thing. "And why won't it work out?" Mei asked pointedly.

Thankfully, I now knew how to handle Mei whenever she was in this mood. "Of course it will work out…" I paused, milking the moment for all it was worth. "Your Bodaciousness."

Mei's water mirror splashed to the ground with a splat. "What?"

I grinned. "Well, everyone pretty much already calls you 'Your Highness', but they don't know about your new title yet. 'Your Badassness' doesn't work as well, so 'Your Bodaciousness' wins out."

Mei narrowed her eyes at me. "I thought I took care of this."

I blinked innocently at her. "What? With sex? Yeah, it was good, but what does that have to with your new title? Especially after we spent so long trying to find one that suited you?"

"Oh for the love of- Everything! I refuse to be called by that-"

This time, I was the one that kissed her.

I put everything I had into that kiss, all my gratitude, all my love, all the feelings that I had for this viciously wonderful woman who had done so much for me.

And yeah, watching a professional seductress like Mei lose her bearings because of my kiss gave me a bit of a swollen head. But I loved that woman. I loved riling her up. I loved it when she played her games with me. I loved it when she sang to me, even though it had happened only once.

When we finally ended the kiss, once again my forehead was resting on hers. Once again, her hands were around my head while my arms encircled her waist.

I hadn't said those three words. But I didn't need to.

And just before I could psyche myself up to say them anyway, a sudden disturbance in her chakra broke the moment. She grimaced and pulled away. "What happened?"

She pursed her generous lips. "My clone dispelled."

"Really? Huh. That's… new. Was it an assassination attempt?" Usually we dropped off a new clone of hers every morning. This was the first time it had dispelled before the end of the working day.

She sniffed. "You could say that," she said as she created a new clone.

"Uh…" I trailed off. Wouldn't it be better for her to go herself and deal with the assassin?

She exhaled loudly, and the clone's lips started twitching. "It was a papercut, all right?"

"Oh." I blinked.

And then I saw the funny side.

I started snickering. "Hehe… If anyone saw your clone get hurt by the papercut and die… Hehehe… The first female Kage, and the first Kage to actually be killed by paperwork!" I continued snickering, to Mei's visible annoyance.

"Hush," the clone admonished me as she sidled up and put her arms around my neck. I looked over at Mei, and I started smiling for a different reason as I saw her looking away again.

I found endless entertainment in the fact that she couldn't bear to see another woman's arms around me, even if it was her own clone.

I looked down at Mei's clone and grinned roguishly at her as I encircled her waist with my own arms. "Shall I take you away from this forsaken place, my lady?"

Fluttering her eyelashes, Mei's clone said seductively, "How can any woman say no to an offer like that?"

Both of us pretended not to see the flaring of Mei's nostrils.

Once I had dropped off the clone in a nondescript alley in Kiri, I flashed back to the island. Mei looked at me through narrowed eyes, stalked forward, grabbed my hand and yanked me in the direction of our Doton house.

I grinned as I let her take the lead. Looks like she's going to stake her claim on me…

Again.


1 Week Later, Ashorro Port City: 4465617468

We had spent the last few days touring through the cities of Water country, exploring the sights like a… well, now that I thought about it, like a couple on their honeymoon.

As soon as the thought struck me, I realized it was most likely intentional.

Naturally, we had travelled under the Henge, not wanting to disclose our locations to any spies, Kiri or Konoha or any others. Keeping our identities hidden was the only way we would get some alone time.

Every city we visited was a hive of activity, as the reconstruction from the war was in full swing. Each city had banded together it's blue collar workers into unions, and the leaders of those unions were paired with a shinobi representative from Kiri to form the council for that particular city. The council took the decision for the quickest and most efficient way for the local economy to recover, and how they could help nearby cities recover equally quickly. Once the decisions were taken, the entire town got behind the carrying out their orders.

The businessmen were put on the backseat for the moment, giving rise to a few grumbles, but to my pleasant shock that was the extent of it. They were promised that during the next phase of reconstruction they would be consulted, and they accepted it with few complaints. Maybe it was because they were expecting to being screwed over by the administration as in the past, but I chose to believe in their humanity and sense of community. I chose to believe that Terumī Hayato's nihilism was destined to die at the hands of own daughter.

The town we were currently in was the port city of Ashorro. It was an important trade hub, and the local leadership had decided that the first step was to recreate the docks and warehouses that had been burned when Mei and I had attacked it to draw Yagura to our location less than a month ago. I had seen it a few times previously, and it was unrecognizable from those times; and I don't mean because we had burned the docks to the ground. Already, the skeletons of the new docks and warehouses were beginning to sprout like new saplings, and by the way they were organized it was clear to see a plan in place to maximize efficiency. The other major construction was the building of new homes for everyone who had lost theirs.

It was socialism at it's very finest and so far, it appeared to be working perfectly. I was surprised to find that I wanted to be here to see how it all worked out in the long term. I had no doubts that Mei surreptitiously looked into the affairs of each city as we roamed like tourists, and each new day her clone went into the office with a new vigour.

Contrarily, Mei herself became more subdued as the days went by.

I didn't have to be a soothsayer to divine that it was because I was leaving tomorrow. It had been the reason we had come back to the port city after all.

I didn't have the words to describe the chaotic multitude of my feelings, but I could surmise them easily.

I didn't want to go back.

Unfortunately, I had to. Duty is heavier than a mountain, death is lighter than a feather, or so went the adage. I couldn't shirk my duty towards my village.

No matter how much I wanted to.

Mei and I hadn't spoken at all since the morning, as the weight of my impending departure weighed down our lungs and stole our breaths away. We simply moved from landmark to landmark, looking at them but not truly seeing them.

It was in the afternoon when our anonymity finally ran out of luck.

"So that's where you've been hiding!"

Both Mei and I turned at the sound of the familiar voice. I mentally cursed as I suddenly remembered that I hadn't drawn the Henge Seal on either of use today, which meant that any competent sensor would recognize us as soon as we stepped within their range.

And the slender dark haired Megumi was definitely more than competent.

I sheepishly waved a greeting to Megumi, while Mei gave her subordinate an imperious nod.

"I was wondering why you had Kage Bunshin in your office instead of going yourself, Mei-sama. Having your cake and eating it too? I'm jealous," Megumi said with a note of amusement in her voice.

"I don't believe in doing things by halves, as you well know." There was not an ounce of shame in Mei's voice at being caught effectively half-assing her new job. But I suppose that being the boss has its perks.

"I didn't expect you to settle for any less, Mei-sama," Megumi said with a laugh.

And then she turned her predatory eyes to me, and I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. "So… how was he?"

I blinked, not quite believing my ears. Had Megumi just blatantly asked Mei how good I was in bed? In public? At a local monument, no less!? There were children around, for Log's sake!

I turned to Mei, to find her head tilted and a considering expression on her face as she scrutinized me. The bad feeling in my stomach got worse as I realized that the predatory gleam in Megumi's eyes was matched by Mei. I just knew that she was going to answer Megumi, and that I was not going to like it.

"Barely adequate."

I sputtered.

Megumi clucked her tongue and shook her head. "And you spent all that time chasing him too."

My eye twitched.

Mei theatrically sighed. "Well, no man can do it all I suppose."

I scowled, "Wait a minute-"

"They just keep coming up with more ways to disappoint you, don't they?" Megumi rhetorically asked as she matched Mei's sigh.

I knew that they were taking the mickey, but that didn't mean I had to stand there and take it. "That's bullshit!"

"Oh? How can you be sure that I wasn't faking?" Mei asked brutally.

Because I knew for a fact that she wasn't faking. That weird Shinjutsu no Fūin chakra harmonization crap made sure that I felt everything she did; and neither of us were strong enough to resist harmonizing whenever we had sex.

But that wasn't something I could say or explain in polite company… or in public at the very least. Unfortunately, that left me with few choices.

"You know what!?" I stalked forward and seized Mei's arm. "I'll prove it right now!"

Mei's gaze immediately snapped to where my hand had grabbed hold of her arm. "And you think that manhandling me is the way to do it?" Mei asked softly, dangerously.

My grip immediately slackened.

For a moment, there was silence as I mentally floundered, and wondered how to get myself out of this latest predicament.

Then, I did what I always do whenever I doubted myself.

Fuck this!

I re-established my vice-grip on her arm and said in a guttural voice, "Yes!"

Mei looked back up at my wild eyes.

After a moment, she smirked. "Promises, promises…"

I wordlessly growled and stalked towards the direction of our hotel, bodily dragging Mei behind me.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Megumi called cheerfully from behind us.

With my free hand, I flipped her off without turning around.

Megumi's peals of laughter followed us as we made our way out of the park that held the monument.

"Such passion… should I be worried for my safety, Nanashi-kun?"

"You started it. Now you deal with the consequences," I growled out, still fired up.

"Oh dear… that sounds so ominous," Mei said delightedly. I gave her arm another yank in response. "Looks like you're making quite a scene, Nanashi-kun." It was true, people were turning to see me dragging Mei along, a few of them even stopping in case something nefarious was going on.

But I didn't have to turn around to know that Mei was smiling wickedly; I could hear it in her voice. It was probably the only thing that prevented someone from stopping us. Just as well, because I'm not sure what I would have done to any Good Samaritans in the state I was in.

"Don't pretend that you're not loving every second of this," I said through clenched teeth.

Mei laughed, an arrogant yet beautiful sound that made me want to stop and shove my tongue down her throat in the middle of the street just to get her to stop. I increased my speed till I saw the hotel come into view, and I didn't slow down even as I stomped up the stairs. I opened the door of our hotel room, dragged the two of us through it and slammed it shut. And then I threw Mei against the door and crashed my lips to hers with bruising force.

I tasted blood, and I wasn't sure if it was her or mine. Mei didn't care either, judging by the way her hands immediately sank into my hair; but I reached up and grabbed them. Then I trapped them above Mei's head, leaving her seemingly helpless.

It was time to show Mei who was boss.


2 Hours Later, Hotel Room, Ashorro Port: 4465617468

I was still breathing heavily, physically tired but mentally sharp. Mei was similarly collapsed half on me, breathing just as heavily, her breath warming my chest. I had pulled out all the stops, used all my best moves; and they were quite considerable, considering a medical genius like Sakura-chan had coached me quite thoroughly. Despite my occasional idiotic acts, I am quite well-versed in the art of pleasing a woman.

I wasn't sure about what to think of the fact that this entire session had been brought about by Megumi. On one hand, I knew that she had just done what came naturally to both her and Mei, and were taking the piss since I had allowed them to the very first time, back when I had first drawn the Henge Seal on Mei. On the other hand, her needling had led to one of the most sexually fulfilling experiences of my life.

I decided to reserve judgement on Megumi for now. Very magnanimous of me, I know.

I blindly groped for the water bottle on the bedside table. It took me a couple of tries to find it, which was a mark of how much I had put into sex with Mei. I gulped down half the bottle in a single go, and offered the rest to her.

Once we had both caught our breaths, I smugly asked Mei, "So, how was that for 'barely adequate'?"

Mei didn't answer for a few seconds, causing my smile to widen. Naturally, she didn't have the words to describe my awesomeness.

"Hmm… I believe I can drop the 'barely' from that statement."

I blinked.

Mei smirked (I couldn't see her face, but I felt the movement of her cheek on my chest.)

I felt my eye twitch, and now I was the one left speechless.

I've always been a man of action rather than words.

But… being a ninja means that sometimes, the only words you need are the names of your techniques.

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu."

Mei immediately gasped and clutched me, suddenly very apprehensive of where this was going. "Wait! I didn't- oh! Ohhh…" The clone had sunk into her in a single thrust, and Mei was still trying to protest. "Nnnnn… Nuuuhh…" She gasped again, as the clone bodily picked her and… well, manhandled her, "Staaahhh…"

A true gentleman understands the difference between 'no' and 'nuuuhh', between 'stop' and 'staaahh'.

Of course, as I true gentleman, I was also obliged to prevent a lady from lying…

Which was why I joined my clone and gave Mei's mouth something better to do.

(The fact that she wouldn't get the better of me in her word games had nothing to do with my actions. Really!)


1 Hour Later, Hotel Room, Ashorro Port: 4465617468

At this point, I had nothing left to give. My genitals were completely drained, and I probably only had wisps of smoke remaining inside. Ever since we had stopped, I had been running my fingers all over her skin, caressing her, touching her, enjoying our post-coital glow. If she really minded, she didn't give me any sign.

But maybe I was a glutton for punishment, because I again asked Mei, "'Adequate'?"

Once more I couldn't see her face, but this time it was because I was spooning her. Even if she baited me again, I had nothing left to give. I was all out.

Finally, Mei said meaningfully, "You've been wonderful."

And then there was a lump in my throat that hadn't existed a moment ago.

I knew she wasn't talking about the sex (well, not entirely.)

I didn't know how to react to her statement. I loved her, and she knew I loved her, but I hadn't said it in words. Neither had she, but then again, we didn't need to. Not when our souls were bare to each other.

I knew that she wanted me to stay with her. She had pretty much said it in front of the entirety of Kiri, and in front of Shimura Danzō.

And I was shocked to realize that I truly wanted to stay here as well.

I… wanted to stay with Mei. In Kiri.

Not Konoha.

I didn't like the perpetual mists, but I did love the woman they obscured.

I would miss the trees of Fire Country, but I would miss Mei more.

I didn't want to go back tomorrow.

I had known that I wanted to stay here, but I hadn't truly realized it until this moment. I wanted to stay here, and make a new life for myself.

Would Old Man Hokage trust enough me to let me do it? Could I even make it work?

Actually… I could sign a contract like the one that Mei had. It could specify that I wouldn't betray Konoha or spill her secrets. I could take care of Akatsuki from here as well; the Hiraishin made distances moot.

Was there even a real reason to go back?

Immediately, the faces of Naruto and Anko sprang to mind.

Well…

Naruto had graduated from the Academy, and had probably left for Wave a day ago; unless things were completely fucked up. It was only a couple of months till the Chūnin exams, after which he would go on his training trip with Ero-Sennin. So, I wouldn't really miss out on much with him. I would probably be dropping in on his training from time to time, but the majority of the ass-kickings… err, training sessions, would be undertaken by the Super Pervert.

And Anko…

I didn't even know where to start with her.

I still had feelings for her, but she was… complicated. And I don't mean obviously insane, because duh; but she oscillated between loving and aloof, between committed and flighty. Sometimes she was intensely into our fledgling relationship, other times she gave me panicked looks and couldn't get away from me fast enough. It was as if she saw someone else in my place at times, but I couldn't even begin to guess who; because according to Kurenai she hadn't ever been with anyone long enough to remember their names.

Which meant it came down to a stable relationship with Mei, or a manic one with Anko.

Between a woman who would go to war for me, or a woman who saw a ghost whenever she looked at me.

I continued caressing Mei's skin, and I knew my choice.

I would make it work.

Old Man Hokage would probably let me go as well. I was sure he wouldn't stand in the way of my happiness, and in fact he would probably be relieved to be rid of me. Danzō would be overjoyed, no doubt. I would live in the land of freedom, and he could continue to cling to his autocratic and authoritarian society.

I had made my choice.

I kept touching Mei, and waited for her to ask me to stay.

For real this time, not like the attempt she had made almost three weeks ago, before the start of our vacation.

I waited all night for Mei to ask me to stay.

And although neither of us slept for a single second, Mei never say a word.


The Next Day, Reconstructed Pier, Ashorro Port: 4465617468

The ship that would take me back wasn't carrying barrels of fish. Mei had given me a strange look when I made the enquiry, and the ship's captain had done the same at my obvious sigh of relief at being informed that no, the ship wasn't carrying barrels of fish. For the sake of my own sanity as well as theirs, I didn't explain.

Mei and I stayed down on the pier for as long as we could, and at some point, her hand had slipped into mine, and neither of us wanted to let go. I was still waiting for her to ask me to stay, but she never did.

And then the gruff captain gave me a pointed look, and then time was simultaneously crawling and racing, and then Mei's hand was slipping out of mine, and then I was climbing the gangplank, and then I was looking down at Mei from the stern, and then I was wishing that both of us were in our natural forms instead of our Henge's, and then I was wondering why I hadn't just told her that I wanted to stay, and then the ship was letting loose a loud whistle, and then it was pulling away from the dock, and I was wondering why I was leaving when I didn't really want to leave, and then I was watching Mei's form becoming smaller and smaller, and then I realized I was almost hyperventilating, and then I was calculating how long it would take me to run back to the pier if I vaulted the railing that very second, and then I realized that I was gripping the railing of the stern so hard that I was deforming it, and then I realized I was sweating and my heart was banging in my chest and then I wanted to run to her and I wanted to run to her and I didn't run even though I wanted to so very much

I would rather have travelled in a barrel of fish again, rather than go through this horrible separation. Why I didn't just stay with Mei?

I was an idiot.

I was a complete idiot.


Author's Notes: A lot of people complained about the chapter last time, but I think that had more to do with the content rather than the length. So, to make up, I re-wrote this chapter featuring your favourite two protagonists, in the old expansive style of writing. I will probably return to the new style from the next chapter, but it won't be as brief as the last. I think I'll experiment with different writing styles, but the content will remain what it has throughout.

I didn't even know that it was possible for me to write an entire chapter of fluff. I never realized that I'm that much of a romantic. This was supposed to be an interlude, but it became an entire full length chapter, somehow.

Nanashi, you dumbass… why didn't you just stay!?

{If only…}

Ah well, at the very least Mei will stop referring to him as 'Nanashi', cause he actually doesn't have a name. That counts for something… right?

I noticed over the last 5-6 chapters that I would be listening to the Title Song as I wrote it for only half the chapter. The other half I was somehow listening to a completely different one. Which was why I split this chapter into two, and gave each song it's own half-chapter (and POV, in this case.) In case you're interested, the second songs for the previous chapters were: Ocean Drive by Duke Dumont (pretty much every scene featuring Mei and Nanashi starting from chapter 13, but especially in Chapter 19), Turn the Page by Bob Seger (Chapter 20), Ship to Wreck by Florence + the Machine (Chapter 21), Long and Lost by Florence + the Machine (Chapter 22), Delilah by Florence + the Machine (Chapter 23), Wicked Game by Chris Issac (Chapter 24). In case it wasn't already obvious, I'm a massive Florence fan.

I'll (hopefully) get around to the review replies this weekend. No promises though, my life is crazy right now, and I'm actually working this weekend while I'm proof-reading this chapter.

And now, for the story's very first: OMAKE!

(Remember, Omake means that this stuff actually happens in the story, it just occurs off-screen.)


OMAKE

Later That Day, Hotel Room, Ashorro Port: Terumī Mei

Mei was silently packing up, having put off the activity as long as she could in order to maximize her time with Nanashi. She still cursed herself for being a coward; why hadn't she asked him to stay?

But she knew the answer to that question.

She was terrified of the possibility of him saying 'no'. She wasn't sure her psyche would survive the blow. It would put Nanashi in an impossible position- having to choose between his village and her- and she couldn't do that to him.

But it left a bitter taste in her mouth. She could take down a sitting Mizukage, but she couldn't ask the man she loved to stay with her.

Even the contents of her hotel room were drawing her thoughts towards Nanashi, as she realized he had left something behind. She spied something left inside his bedside drawer.

It was a small black book, with a leather cover. She picked it up to find a faded log on the front.

She blinked. What… was this?

Was this the Book of the Log? The stupid piece of wood that all those Konoha shinobi inexplicably worshipped? Including Nanashi?

It was an actual religion!?

Or just a cult trying to deceive itself?

Despite herself, Mei was overcome with curiosity.

Surely… surely a look wouldn't hurt.

Right?

She had been a coward enough for one day. Mei steeled herself and opened the cover…

And then a choir of angels was singing, and a heavenly golden light was pouring out of the book, and then she was being engulfed by the heavenly light and sounds, and that was the last thing that Mei remembered.


Author's Notes: What does this mean!? Will Mei become a Log-Worshipper!? (Yes.) Will this lead to more shenanigans!? (Yup!) Will this lead to the true peace that Konoha always dreamed of!? (Well, it's a damned good start.)

Praise the Log, for the Log shall lead us to peace!

Ahem.

So, what did you guys think? Of the Bodacious Badass? (I had so much fun coming up with the horrible titles for Mei.) Of Nanashi being long and lost? (On the other hand, Imay have developed a problem with alliterative adjectives.) Of their venturesome vacation? (I'll stop, I'll stop…) Of Nanashi's orange obsession? (Last one, I promise.) Of his double dating? (I'll… get my coat.) Of his red restraints? (Seriously, I'm not even trying at this point.) Of his abstemious alliterative awesomeness (I already used that one, but it's way too cool not to use again.) Of Mei's sacrosanct singing? (Yeah… I have impulse control issues.) Of Nanashi's hunky haircut? (Please don't lynch me.) Of Mei's priceless papercut!? (That one was pretty funny, you have to admit.) Of Megumi's nefarious needling leading to sublime sex between naugthy Nanashi and mischievous Mei? (I'm going, I'm going!) Of Nanashi being an ignoble idiot? (I think I'm going to stop apologising… clearly I'm out of control.)

In naming news, the popular poll with the numerous names of the Twin Chakrams is LIVE. Vociferously vote for your choice! It's dastardly democratic and everything! In no way has dutiful democracy ever famously failed humanity! *cough*Trump*cough*

It's that time of the year for college applications, and I can use the financial help. So if you can, please check out my crowdfunding campaign. (That one wasn't intentional… adamant apologies.)

(… declivitous damnation.)

Rapturously review!