The Bitter Soul XI
"All for nothing" The three words summed it all up. The mission and great swathes of his life; Team Seven, his attempt to save Gaara, and pretty much every other thing he ever set out to do it seemed some days. Jiraiya had sometimes tried to teach him about spirituality and philosophy. Most of it went over his head or simply didn't interest him. One of the concepts he was able to grasp somewhat was karma. As he understood it you reaped what you sowed, if not in this life then in the next one. If he was being punished for being a colossal dick in his previous life then his luck suddenly made sense.
"Naruto!" The General's voice snapped Naruto back to the present. Right, he was in the middle of scroll-call with his superior.
"Listen to me, your orders are to maintain cover for the time being. Take no action unless ordered by myself or your handler." Naruto wanted to insist that he could still look for the intel but frankly didn't feel like arguing,"I'm going to have AMI look into this matter. Until we have a lead or some other matter arises that requires your skill set keep your head down, am I clear?"
"Yeah boss," Naruto responded trying not to sound too unhappy, "Anything else?"
"Don't beat yourself up over this," Ironwood told him,"it was beyond your control, as often happens in this line of work. For now enjoy Vale, it really is lovely this time of year."
"Is that order?"
"I can make it one if I have to," The General said in a tone that made it clear he was serious, "Or perhaps I can schedule you an appointment with Doctor Grey when yo-"
"Oh god no!" Naruto jumped out of his seat like he had been touched by a cattle prod. Forget Yang and Winter, there was a woman to be feared more then any! "I'll see the sights and what not just please keep her away from me!"
"She would be very hurt by that, you were her favorite patient." More like favorite victim but Naruto chose not to voice that opinion. Nor comment on the touch of humor he detected in his boss's voice, "On that subject she may have acquired your contact information and will be sending you a friend request." For the Sage's sake could the hits please stop coming! "I would advise you accept it."
"She's a good doctor, having her as a contact might be handy." Always look for the positive, "Anything else boss?"
"Well if you're going to be in touch with her anyways perhaps you could resume your sessions with her? Over the internet so you can avoid being roped into her experiments." Now he had an idea how Doctor Grey had "acquired" his contact information. The General had really pushed for him to get help. The problem was he really didn't get how someone so unhinged was qualified to help other people deal with their mental issues, "That'll be all Naruto, take of yourself soldier."
With that the General hung up ending the call. Naruto slumped back in his seat. He supposed there was nothing he could do but go about his day job. The enemy would give him a chance until then he'd try to do the Doc proud. He wondered about the General's request to enjoy himself. To be honest that wasn't something he was good at these days.
"I used to be fun dammit!" Maybe he did need to go out and "see the sights"? He was tired of feeling miserable. Throwing himself into being a shinobi and soldier didn't work. It gave him a sense of purpose and professional pride but it didn't make him happy. Maybe just trying to enjoy himself would help?
But he really didn't know where to have fun here. Maybe he needed a tour guide...or maybe just a friend? He opened up his scroll and did two things; first he accepted Emily Grey's friend request with some reluctance. Naruto then typed up a message for Yang and hit send despite feeling a little nervous. With that done he sat about trying to memorize the materials.
"Well time to see how well I do with teaching history class."
The Golden Heart V
"I guess everyone has something they're not good at," Yang thought as history class was let out, that would be an understatement really. Naruto had really seemed out of his element trying to teach history. To be fair that didn't exactly seem like an easy thing to do. Maybe her cute, whisker-faced teacher needed to comforted? Perhaps in her womanly arms on their upcoming lunch date?
Of course he had just texted her wanting to know if they could have lunch together. She knew better then to assume it was a date but it was nice to imagine. After letting her team know she had other plans for lunch she went over to the solitary corner where Naruto was seated. When he looked her way she smiled and put a little more sway into into her hips.
Naruto's eyes were drawn from her face downward as came she towards him before quickly becoming very interested in his lunch. Yang noticed those cerulean eyes seemed to linger on her legs more then her bust, "More of a legs guy are we? I can work with that." She thought as she sat down across from the now flustered teacher, "Hey Naruto." She kept her tone innocent enough, "So what brought this on? Something to do with training?"
"Training?" Naruto, no longer pink-faced, shook his head, "No it's actually a little more personal."
"Really?" Yang tried to sound only mildly interested. Naruto looked a little uncertain as if trying to figure out how to word what he wanted to ask her. The buxom blonde found herself trying not to read to much into this, it felt too soon for him to be asking her out out.
"Well I'm in a whole new country and figure I might as well enjoy myself, have some fun." He explained with a shrug, "But I really don't know my way around here."
"Oh," Yang replied with a smile, "I think I can show you a few places around town." This was perfect! He would be completely dependent on her! Of course she needed to make sure Naruto actually enjoyed himself. She found herself very thankful for that whole "tell each other our likes, dislikes, and hobbies" bit. It would give her a chance to show that she paid attention to him. On that subject Yang asked the question that had been on her mind since getting the text: "So can I ask what brought all this on?" Seeing his confused expression she quickly added: "Don't get me wrong I'm happy about this, just a little confused. I mean just to two days ago you were scared about the idea of being friends."
"I guess that does seem weird." Naruto responded slowly, a half a dozen emotions played out over his face. Yang found it both interesting to watch and more then a little concerning, "When I left my village," He started slowly,"about a year ago, I was in a very bad place. To be honest my life there had always sucked; aside from a few people nobody liked me and actually quite a few people hated me." Naruto sounded more bitter as he went on, Yang realized her previous guess about his attempts at stoicism being a defense mechanism were on point, "I had thought things were changing for me for a while," a smile touched his lips, not the warm one that she liked or even the teasing one he had worn during their spar. It was a thin-lipped, angry smile that looked wrong on him, "then it felt like everything that could go wrong did and then some. When I got tired of it I left Konoha and wound up in Atlas," He gingerly started eating his food, "After I found employment I just threw myself into my work. I didn't want to deal with what happened or with anything really for a while."
"You lost someone," Yang said finding this all very familiar, it remind her too much of her dad and uncle dealt with Summer's death. Her father shutting down and Uncle Qrow going on long missions, "someone important to you?"
"How?" Naruto asked before shaking his head, "Never mind I really don't want to talk about it." Yang for a moment considered her response. She wanted to reach him and was fairly certain she could but it would mean having to open up.
"Do I really want to do this? I've only known him a few days." Yang didn't believe in love at first sight or fairy tale romances. It was way too soon to say she loved Naruto. But seeing him hurt like this she could say she cared about him, "Please don't make me regret this Naruto."
The Bitter Soul XII
"Maybe I should have just made something up?" Naruto thought, before something unexpected happened. He nearly jumped when Yang gently took his hand. He just wasn't used to physical contact outside of combat. Her violet eyes regarded her with sadness and compassion. Also something he really wasn't used too. There was another emotion there he couldn't quite read.
"If you don't want to talk want to talk about it that's fine." The blonde assured him, "Loss isn't an easy thing to talk about much less deal with." Yang hesitated but pressed on, "It took me a long time to come to terms with my...mom's death." Naruto realized she was looking at him with understanding, "I know it hurts," She squeezed his hand, a gesture he returned finding comfort in it, "but I promise you learn to deal it."
"Does," Naruto struggled to form the question he wanted to ask for some time, "does the hurt ever stop altogether?"
"No," Yang answered with a sad smile, "not if you really cared about the person you lost."
"God dammit," Naruto said quietly, "Well I handled being turned into a human pincushion I guess I can learn to manage this." Then without thinking he added: "I guess talking to Doc Grey might be a good idea."
"A head doctor I've had a few sessions with," Naruto felt embarrassed letting that slip out.
"That's nothing to be ashamed about," Yang told him and pointed her thumb in the direction of the students in the more crowded part of the lunch room, "hey we're all here to train to fight monster with weapons that are as cool as they are impractical. That's not something someone does if they're playing with a full deck."
"I guess you're right." Naruto admitted with a smile, the weapons here really were cool. Also most Huntsmen and Huntresses were eccentric, "Then again I've never heard of a Hunstmen going as crazy as Itachi or Orochimaru. Well some of the Queen's agents are probably that twisted, even if they are it's still rarer here then back home." Maybe the key to peace in the Elemental Countries was introducing therapy and potent anti-psychotic medication? Shelving that amusing line of thought he said: "And I feel a little better, thank you Yang." Naruto said sincerely, "You're a good friend."
"Just a good friend?" The blonde acted like she was offended, "I'm an awesome friend!" She declared with a radiant grin that made her eyes light up. Naruto smiled back but couldn't help but think to his dream.
"Is this how you protect your friends!?"
"Fine you're an awesome friend." He told her while he reflected on his old life and the lessons learned, "I didn't protect my friend before, I wasn't strong enough. But things will be different this time, I promise to protect you Yang. I'll protect everyone." He allowed himself to enjoy the peace of the moment. Naruto then noticed something, "Hey, we're still holding hands."
"Oh? We are aren't we?" The blonde's smile turned playful making him feel weirdly flustered. Yang seemed amused by this reaction, "Come on, this can't be the first time you've held hands with a girl?" The ninja felt his cheeks burn as he looked down at his food,
"Well...it's not important, it's just...nothing." Yang raised an eye brow at his response.
"Interesting to know." She commented as she let go of his hand and started eating. They ate in silence for a few minutes. Naruto thought back to the last time he had done something like this with a friend. Did that thing back in Atlas count? To celebrate completing his Dust training Winter had taken him out to eat at some fancy restaurant. Aside from never quite getting why so many different forks were needed it had been nice.
Did that make Winter his friend? He had always thought of the bonds he had formed in Atlas as purely professional. Yet both Winter and the boss seemed to extra steps to make him comfortable. He had sometimes chalked that up to him being hired help. Naruto wondered if he should just ask them if they considered him more then a valued subordinate. It might just end up making things uncomfortable. Maybe it was better not to rock the boat?
"Attention students," The voice of Professor Ozpin came over the loud speaker. Both blondes looked from their meals, "I have something I'd like to announce." The Headmaster had mentioned there would be a special announcement around noon.
"I wonder what this is all about?" Yang wondered out loud,
"I'm certain some of you are familiar with our new assistant teacher."
"Oh it's about you." Yang said rhetorically. A phrase Naruto had heard his handler had utter on more then once popped into his mind:
"What fresh new hell is this?"
"Our guest from Atlas has recently set up a special class for students who a struggling or simply seeking to improve themselves. If Mr Uzumaki's more hands on approach to teaching appeals to you then head over to our school website where I have made his contact information available. Have a wonderful day."
"I'm here to potentially discredit Ozpin, I've broke into his office, hurt his employees, stole classified information from him, and probably damaged his coffee maker beyond repair." Naruto thought to himself as he buried his face in his hands.,"So why do I feel completely justified in really hating that man?"
"I guess this wasn't your idea?" Yang asked rhetorically,
"No, it wasn't." He replied not bothering to left his head up, "I'm barely managing two students! How the hell am I supposed to handle more along with all my other jobs? Can it please stop?"
The Wonderful Wizard IV
Ozpin held the remains of his coffee maker mourning it's loss. It carried him through many long nights and made the paperwork he bothered with more manageable. A replacement was on the way but having his specially brewed coffee now would make dealing with whatever news Glynda had for him easier.
"I take you've had some luck finding our ninja's body trail?" He asked without turning around, compulsively the man rummaged through the components of his beloved device.
"Yes sir," She said, Ozpin could here sounds of her quing up information on her scroll,"from a few of Qrow's reports from several months back actually." Now that was a surprise.
"Around the time Autumn was attacked?"
"Just a few weeks prior. Perhaps your theory about this shinobi being in the service of the enemy has merit."
"Who were the victims?"
"Victim," Glynda corrected, "Marcus Black; considered one of the top assassins in the criminal underworld according to Qrow's contacts. At least he was until something burned a gaping hole through his chest. It reminded me of that energy sphere," She sounded somewhat unnerved, no doubt contemplating Oobleck's fate if the attack had pierced his aura, "in addition one of the those arrow head knives the shinobi seem to favor was recovered from the scene."
"I believe they're called kunai." Ozpin supplied as he processed the details, "it would appear that our ninja was eliminating the competition. If this Marcus was as well known in the darker corners of Remnant as you say this might have been what brought him to the notice of the Queen's agents?" Ozpin then wondered about something, "Why wasn't this brought to my attention sooner? Qrow knows I consider any shinobi in the Kingdoms a priority."
"Well you have a habit of delegating paperwork sir." Glynda replied in a colorless tone, "Also in the wake of the attack on Autumn it seemed irrelevant. Qrow didn't encounter a shinobi among the Queen's agents during the brief skirmish so it seemed unconnected."
"Perhaps eliminating this Marcus Black was part of the Queen's agenda?" The silver-haired man speculated and unfolded his scroll to check the location of his new coffee maker, "Already shipped from Atlas." He also decided to que up the report Glynda mentioned,
"He seems like someone she would make use of."
"Perhaps her agents tried to recruit Marcus and he refused them for whatever reason? Perhaps this shinobi was then sent to eliminate him."
"I suppose they're both possible." Glynda commented, "Shall I contact Qrow look into this matter further?"
"No," Ozpin said with some reluctance, "his current assignment is too important. We'll have to assign others to the job of following this trail. I'll decide who at a later time."
"Very well sir." She responded but didn't leave, "May I ask you something sir?"
"Of course Glynda."
"I saw your announcement earlier," She said slowly, "I can understand not wanting Naruto to interfere with our efforts but the boy seemed rather upset this morning. It that context your announcement seems somewhat cruel sir."
"It was not intended to be cruel Glynda." Ozpin replied sounding almost hurt,"I suspect Naruto has lead a rather unpleasant life, I think spending time with people his own age in a less structured setting might actually be good for him." He explained "It struck me as a benign way to keep him occupied."
"Very well sir." As she left the Professor wondered who among the student body would be interested in Mr Uzumaki's class?
The Simple Soul I
"I'm so signing up for Mr Uzumaki's class!" Ruby declared to Blake and Weiss who looked completely surprised. She pulled out her scroll and went to the school's website. No one could be as awesome a teacher as Uncle Qrow in her completely unbiased opinion. But Yang seemed to think this guy knew his stuff so it couldn't hurt to sign up.
"You're going to sign up for lessons from the guy who botched a simple history class?" Wiess asked before raising a delicate eyebrow, "And is now beating his head on the table."
"That happens when people eat lunch with Yang." Ruby stated, "She's probably just telling him jokes."
The Golden Heart VI
"I guess this wasn't your idea." Yang stated as Naruto finally stopped beating his head on the table. The spiky-haired teacher didn't even bother raising his head.
"No it wasn't," He groaned, "by the Sage this day feels like a waking nightmare." Considering his tone was more...well, whiny then earlier Yang thought it safe to poke fun at him. She ruffled his hair affectionately and asked:
"Waking nightmare? Aren't you being a bit of a drama queen?" She teased gently, "The headmaster setting you up for more students is really the worst thing you could imagine happening?"
"There are worse things I could imagine happening." He responded, "Actually much, much worse things."
"So why don't you focus on the positive just a little?" Yang asked wondering what Naruto would consider much, much worse?
The Intellectual I
"Why are you doing this again?" Neptune asked Sun curiously as they approached the ship he intended to stow away on, "You know traveling by air is statistically safer plus the school will pay for the airship ticket which would make it legal."
"Because this is more fun." His golden-haired friend replied as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Sun was about to say more when he bumped into something massive. Said thing turned out to be a freakishly large man covered head-to-toe in red armor, "Whoa, sorry big guy." The armored man turned to look at the two of them. Neptune noticed some kind of bizarre furnace on the man's back before going back to noticing the guy was as big as an Ursa.
"Sun Wukong." The Faunus replied with his typical cheer, which Neptune envied considering this guy freaked him out for some reason.
"Greetings Son Goku," Neptune and Sun alike raised eyebrows at that, "I am Han."
"Just Han?" The large man nodded, his movement almost mechanical.
"Was I correct in understanding you are also bound for Vale?"
"Uh...yeah," Sun responded, "and it's Sun Wukong."
"Could you perhaps answer some questions I had about the kingdom? I would be willing to pay for your ticket in exchange."
"Keep your money Han, being a stowaway is part of the fun," Sun told him, while Neptune felt himself getting more nervous. Seriously this guy was seven kinds of unnerving and his partner was completely clueless. Or were people like Han a common sight in Vacuo? "I don't know much about Vale but I can tell you what I know."
"What do you know of a place called Mountain Glenn?"
Author's Notes: Well shorter then I wanted but I finished it just in time for the new volume of RWBY which is nice. Well next chapter we go back to Jaune...I know some of you were really wanting to hear that, also we get to see how Naruto handles an expanded work load.
Emily Grey or those who don't know is a character from Red vs Blue, a delightfully unbalanced doctor and one of my favorite characters from that series. We'll see what kind of therapist she makes for our hero soon enough. As always please remember to review and fave this story!