(Hello, all! This chapter is a little longer than the rest, and since it's a battle with laziness, it took a while. Anywho, please leave reviews. I want to know how I'm doing and how I can improve. Also...next chapter starts SnK cannon, no more prequel, yay! There are no extra notes at the bottom.)

'Single Quotation Italics': Thoughts

"Double Quotation Normal": Speech

"Double Quotation Italics": Human Telepathy (in response to Tailed-Beasts)

Italics: Emphasis

Underlined Italics: Move/Attack Name

'Single Quotation Bold Italics': Titan/Tailed-Beast Thoughts

"Double Quotation Bold": Titan/Tailed-Beast Speech

"Double Quotation Italics Bold": Tailed-Beast Telepathy

Chapter 7: This Isn't Getting Any Exciting, I'm Going to Sleep!

First Person - Kuklo

Cardina's voice rang out in what I speculated to be an overly casual and friendly manner. "Aaah! Now this is good stew! You're a hell of a cook, Sharle!" Cardina went as far as to close her eyes and hummed a sound of satisfaction while patting her abdomen; and while Cardina would assume that a meager "Sure, thank you" from Sharle was a sign of progress, no matter how minuscule that progress was. I gave a nervous chuckle; something at which Sharle turned her head only just barely to give me a minute glance from the corner of her eyelids.

There was a lingering hope that Sharle would at least say something to me. 'She's still upset...just wish she'd say somethin'...' the lack of words on her part towards me was something I found rather agonizing. Not in the sense that it caused me a physical pain, but a pain that would run through a person's proverbial heart. A flash of hurt, as one might put it. One thing was for certain: I was more than sure of it. At least Cardina had something to say. 'Cardina's tryin' to lighten her mood, I guess.' My thoughts were mainly idle at this point, a struggle to keep Sharle out of mind so that I would not fall any further than I already had. A crummy attempt at keeping my mind busy if I were being honest. I was sure that I had a distracted look about myself, no matter how hard I attempted to school my features into a calm look. 'I just can't see how to get her to stop being so upset without surrendering my goals.' Truly, when it comes to such things I'm not exactly the best person for the job.

As hungry as I was, as tasty as the food most assuredly was, I was unable to enjoy the edible and delectable things. Sharle came first, she always did and always would. 'I'll talk to her tonight!' I resolved. At the moment, Sharle did not, evidently, appear to be in the talking mood, especially with how I could just feel tension roll off of her in waves. I sighed, unable to eat further. First the fox, then its illusions and power over people, now Sharle's temperament.

"...was hoping to share some drinks with you again!" The boisterous sound of the foreman's voice snapped me from my thoughts. A conversation having ensued between the older participants of the table in which Sharle, Cardina and I, occupied. The other older man was none other than Jorge the hero. "Afraid not," Jorge declined ruefully, "my duty with the military doesn't allow me to be away for so long. Tonight is all I can spare before going off during the morning." At the end of Jorge's statement was when I zoned the two aged men out, selectively keeping my ears to listen for anything Sharle might say. Although after a few words from the foreman and Jorge, some side comments from the peanut gallery—that being the foreman's workers—Sharle abruptly got up and muttered about going to fix some tea.

I may have fallen into selective hearing, tuning everyone but Sharle out, yet reading lips was something I learned throughout my time when I was imprisoned. Both in the Innocencio estate and before my exile. The foreman spoke of the device, and it seemed to set Sharle off. Perhaps that wasn't it, but yet it was the best option out of all aside from myself wanted to face the titans once more.

It would be a lie if I were to say that my resolve to fight the titans remained strong after Sharle's reaction. The truth being that my conviction was gradually crumbling like a brick wall being worn by rain. The spark is still there, I feel my desire to combat the scourges of humanity still there; however, and unfortunately, the lack of support from Sharle made it seem as if I had done something wrong, despite my ideals on the notion. I decided to excuse myself from the table, claiming a need to utilize a restroom. "'Scuse me, where's the toilet?" I asked, slowly coming to a stand while awaiting a response.

"Go out the entrance to the mess hall and take a right, should be one right there." Xenophon, the foreman, instructed distractedly while keeping focus on Jorge. I nodded, although I was more than sure the old man didn't acknowledge my gesture. It was either that the foreman didn't care or had been so engrossed with his interactions with Jorge that he didn't notice. More than likely the latter.

I had done as told and entered the restroom, then locking the door behind me. There wasn't quieter as I would have liked it to be, but beggars can't be choosers. Once sure that I would not be disturbed, I sat upon the closed toilet seat and palmed my face, elbows rested on my thighs.

It was then that a voice I was hoping to not have to hear any time soon had made itself known. "Aren't you in the proverbial doghouse? Well, rough, isn't it?" The mirth in the fox's voice through the connection was clear. "So you want to play the big bad titan slayer, apparently. Are you going to give up, I wonder?"

No matter how much I tried, the fox's voice remained, its mocking speech prodding me in search of a reaction. 'Well I'm not giving it to him!' I huffed and crossed my arms, a frown further marring my scarred features. "What's it to you?" I shot back at the fox through the connection.

No response from the fox.

That was until the fox itself appeared before me sitting upon the countertop, its size much small than that of when it appeared in wagon. My troubles had ended up forgotten once the fox had appeared, I noticed. 'That whole illusion thing still boggles me.' I had no reaction. Correction: I had no visible reaction. The fox was no bigger than a house cat, its nine tails swaying lazily behind it as it scrutinized me with a critical gaze. Despite the grave air the fox exuded, I could not find it in me to take the furry thing seriously any further. I then fought down a rising laughter, I managed to stifle it to a snicker but was unable to conceal it. The fox did not seem to find the situation amusing whatsoever, evident by the sour expression the so called fox-titan wore; furthermore, the fox had palmed its muzzle and shook its head. "Had enough giggling, boy?" The fox's voice was stern, just as firm as before when I had been lectured by it, but not as harsh or demanding of rapt attention.

My gaiety had quickly come to an end as the fox's demeanor made no change. 'Didn't even budge an inch.' I pondered somewhat annoyed. "Yeah, I'm good. So tell me, what the hell are you doing here?" I bit back a wince; my tone seemed a little too demanding and I would rather prefer not to aggravate the creature that could warp my perception of the world.

Third person

Kurama had never felt irritation in the manner that he currently had gone through when Kuklo, the boy, had practically openly laughed at his decrease in size. There was only so much that the foxy titan was willing to deal with, and unfortunately for Kurama himself, there was plenty left before he lost his patience. 'The good old days are gone I suppose.' The fox thought with a faux solemnness; the days in which he had been a mass of hatred and rage, the day in which he has crushed or devoured anyone that even so much as looked at him wrong. It was in this manner that Kuklo was fortunate, if it was not for Naruto, then Kurama would have not given even a second thought about ending Kuklo.

It was upon a comment that Kurama made which caused Kuklo to cease his needless display of mirth, prompting the boy to question the reason for Kurama's presence. 'Then again, I was the one amused at first...' a point the fox made to himself '...hypocrisy, huzzah.' Kurama conjured his thoughts with a monotone and false cheer.

"I'm here because I decided that this was a decent time to properly introduce myself." Kurama said, with a toothy grin, one that somewhat unsettled Kuklo."Dear boy, I am the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox of a bygone time, and you, whether for better or worse, have caught my attention." It was during the verbal introduction found it prudent to shift his size to the point where the restroom was nearly crowded. Luckily the counter Kurama sat on top of was capable of holding the added mass.

It was upon the utterance of the word 'demon,' that Kuklo felt an unpleasant chill run down his spine. If the titans weren't already monsters from a burning inferno of a world, then this fox apparently was; and that thought shook him up. Though Kuklo wasn't going to show it anytime soon. "Demon fox, huh. If that doesn't draw attention then I don't know what will." Kuklo muttered under his breath, unaware that Kurama had heard him, and was going to say something more but the fox had beaten him to the figurative punch.

"You're troubled and it involves your little girlfriend—sucks to be you," the fox said with an ounce of sympathy, "I remember when the Two-Tails made me sleep outside whenever I did something she found extremely displeasing, although by the time she felt an inkling of forgiveness I had already dug myself another fox hole in the side of the mountain somewhere. Whenever she felt I had enough of being alone I was never really at the same altitude or side of the mountain as she was—usually ended with us—" that was when Kurama stopped himself, an unapologetic grin over his countenance, "sorry, not, but the point is no matter how much power you have over your partner, male or female, they have just as much, if not more, over you." With that said, Kurama shrunk to the size of a regular domestic feline and leapt onto Kuklo's shoulders.

"Wai—what are you doing?!" The boy was about to reach for Kurama to tear the fox from his own body, only to suddenly feel an oppressive force take hold of his very soul and being.

"Do not think I will let you so casually lay a hand upon me unless I deem it necessary, boy." Kurama's voice had taken on an aggressive tone, a sound that shook Kuklo's self. The boy felt like breaking down right then an there on the spot, but before anything could take place, the force just up and disappeared. Kuklo's breath had turned ragged during the presence of the malevolent force.'Or whatever that was...' the boy surely did not wish to encounter such a sensation ever again.

"Wha-What was that?" Kuklo asked with no small amount of fear hidden. The question cued Kurama to offer a wicked smile; a smile that went unseen by the boy whose shoulders he had draped himself upon.

"Whatever could you mean, human? I'm just a small fox you happened to find scampering around that took a liking to you, and with what I can do...I'll find out if someone's aware of something they shouldn't!~" Kurama more than implied jovially. It was clear to Kuklo that the fox did not want its true self known. 'As if it wasn't obvious enough.' The boy thought cynically. "Now then,"the voice of the nine-tails had turned into a combination of instruction and easygoing-ness, "continue on and do not act out, be as you are, and our little talk never happened; a fox with multiple tails did not appear, and most certainly the fox could not speak human tongue via mental communication,"Kuklo could only nod at the fox's alibi, "you found a roaming fox that took a liking to you and you decided that you wanted the fox—" Kuklo had raised a brow, curious as to why the fox had suddenly paused mid-sentence, "show me to your little lover and she might deign to talk you. Girls love little fluffy animals, don't they?~" Kurama teased, and Kuklo, despite all the misgivings of the fox, perked up at the mention of Sharle and possibly appeasing her. The boy glanced at the fox's mirthful eyes and narrowed his own gaze. "If this works..." Kuklo began, morale building "...then consider yourself a wingma—…er, fox." Kuklo said with a finality, although a somewhat grateful tone had slipped into his voice.

Kurama scoffed. The ancient nine-tails had no friends after he and the rest of the beasts split up to go their separate ways, and at this point the planet had to have its geography changed due to constantly shifting landmasses of the Earth. Either the world had one super continent or had multiple continents. "I haven't had companions for the longest of times, boy, don't get so casual with me." The vulpine entity intoned coolly, and while unaware of the boy's expression, Kuklo faintly frowned upon hearing of the fox's lengthy record of loneliness.

Soon enough Kuklo retired from the restroom with the 'demon fox' nestled and draped over his shoulders like a resting cat. Kurama had utilized Naruto's physical transformation technique to make himself appear akin to a regular everyday fox with a singular tail; albeit that his ears remained as they were, for the deadly entity felt they only added to the charm this form already had.

Kuklo had returned to the mess hall with a foxy companion draped over his shoulders and was confronted by those that had become curious of the 'critter' that Kuklo brought along; and those people happened to be Cardina, Jorge, Xenophon the foreman, and even Sharle. The four that met Kuklo were the only ones to ask questions, prompting Kuklo to spin the tale he had been given by the demon fox resting upon his shoulders. It was at some point in which Sharle asked to hold the fox, a request at which Kuklo promptly, and without hesitance, complied with.

Kurama, to say the least, wasn't pleased. Sharle held onto him as one would amateurishly hold a cat beneath its front appendages. Now, unlike the fleshy felines known as cats, Kurama felt no discomfort in his position due to being a mass of chakra. If no one were around aside from the boy, then Kurama would sensibly strike Kuklo upside the head with all nine tails to display his displeasure. In all honesty, Kurama didn't have it in him to just tear away from the fragile girl's hold, for the old fox was reminded somewhat of an adult Hinata. Sharle, as Kuklo called her, had a confidence about her that rivaled Hinata's, and that in if itself came with a few downsides; generally the same ones that Naruto's rather meek wife had. There was a soft spot in Kurama's heart for his best friend's mate.

"You owe me for this boy," Kurama relayed to Kuklo, discontent, "I am not amused." He said gruffly. Kuklo only nodded as he watched Sharle's mood improve drastically upon holding the fox. The boy had his spirits raised once Sharle had begun to once again interact with him.

First Person - Kurama

I formed no connection with the boy's female friend, yet despite this I attempted to convey a wordless message that would have Sharle let me go free. It did not go as planned, because the girl had somehow squeezed just as the Sixth Hokage, Tsunade, would have to done Naruto whenever she pulled the knucklehead into a bone crushing embrace. 'The girl is lucky I don't need oxygen.' There wasn't a single thing to get her to drop me unless I mimicked an animal and wiggled my way out, or I just ripped myself out. 'And since I prefer not to hurt an innocent girl...' I began to make like a reptile's tail and shook until Sharle dropped me.

My land was impeccable, I was sure of it. 'I'm actually full of 'it.'' I pondered as an afterthought.

From then on the day went as a day would, night soon falling and all residents going home or to their assigned quarters. Kuklo and I had a...quick talk about lending his companion to people without a second thought; a talk that involved all nine of my tails and Kuklo's chin becoming close friends.

Kuklo eventually left the quarters given to him, and I deigned to give the boy some privacy, remaining behind and awaiting his return so that I could tell the boy of what's to come in the near future. For him, anyways.

As always, time passes and waits for no one. I cared not for the passage of minutes or hours, not unless time sensitive events were occurring, that is. It was during Naruto's life that time became an aspect I despised; the blonde I knew taken by the killer of all things living.

A sigh of resignation made it past my lips; the past is unfortunately just that. The past. Distractions are needed, and what better distraction than to eavesdrop on my victim? 'Great, so not only bored but somber. Don't I sound lovely?'

I made my leave and went in search of the boy to conduct, as what the perverted hermit would say: research. Best get everything said and done with the boy, too, while I'm at it.

Let it be said that this night was going to be a surprise, and I wasn't completely disappointed with what I learned about the boy I had taken to stick around with.' So the boy thinks the so called titans will get in,' I was more than prepared for the day that such an event will occur, I was sure of it, 'humph! Guess I'll have to prove the boy wrong then on that day, won't I?'

Third Person - Flash Forward - Fifty or so Years

A gargantuan nine-tailed beast was wreaking havoc, savage roars and snarls making their ways from its throat as it tore apart various humanoids that towered over humans by several meters. This vulpine-like creature had such size that it dwarfed even the colossal titan by an incredible margin. That is, until its height had somehow shifted to that of the largest basic titan class; a fifteen meter. Nobody understood the shift of size until the beast had sprung into action. It moved with a purpose, not a single action wasted as it deftly moved around buildings while utterly decimating any titan in its path. Somehow it never crushed a single human underfoot.

The beast was like an amalgamation of humanity's rage and defiance given physical form. Although despite its mysterious appearance from seemingly nowhere, not a single soul paid full attention to the unknown creature, too busy running and making attempts at their own survival, taking any chances they could for themselves and their families. Mothers held their children, fathers and husbands fought against waves of people moving in their direction to keep their loved ones from being trampled under all the human traffic. All while the living calamity, which had been if just momentarily several times the size of the wall, swung its nine tails and other appendages in a violent effort to kill as many titans as possible; it was on a warpath in a specific direction, unleashing raw physical power capable of changing the landscape, people would on day say. It eventually found its snout directly in front of its target: a titan with a mockery of a smile and dark hair. At this point, the clothes-less humanoid, whether it knew it or not, already had its jaw and its contents ripped out from its skull. The beast followed up with a vicious haymaker, its fist launching the entire body of the titan soaring over the wall.

Now, in the beast's clawed hand lay an unmoving body. A corpse; more specifically the corpse of a human woman. The beast closed the hand gingerly around the body as the human's blood seeped into its fur, careful not to further harm the dead in its hand. It brought the hand holding the corpse to its chest, gently pressing the closed appendage against itself as if to attempt to soothe a babe. The beast with nine tails knew the human woman was dead, yet acted as if it was holding a rowdy newborn needing to be calmed. Eventually it realized that it was pointless, she was dead and gone. The creature reared its head and released the most lamenting and harrowing sound; a cry of sorrow and loss. The beast had not been prepared, kept occupied by the gaining of meaningful friendships and relations with a human family. It had been watching over two children before the attack occurred; and after the assault began, the beast protected the children with fervor and guided them to the ships for evacuation. There was one last person to retrieve, and the beast could not save her in time.

The beast cried again, its ears flat as it held the corpse of the woman against its chest softly. It was such a saddening sound that came from the beast; so somber that even the humans that were kept busy running pondered the beast's sorrow.

Present - First Person - Kurama

Everyone eventually returned to their quarters after the night's activities and I sat at the end of Kuklo's mattress, uncloaked and visible, still the size of an everyday fox. Kuklo sat with half is body in the covers as he sat against the headboard of the bed. "So what'd'you want?" Kuklo inquired of me, not even bothering to use his telepathic voice through the connection.

"Boy, what I want is for you to start training your body during some of your free time." My motives were my own, and if what the boy's existence and participation has previously only wrought, then it is likely that he was going to bring more issues into the fold. The Survey Corps., unknown to me, are in a time of crisis. "You want in the Survey Corps., right?" A nod from Kuklo assured me I had his ear. "Then get a head start in your physical conditioning—you're already hardy from the rough life you've gone through, push yourself some more." I had it seem as if I was making a suggestion for the boy to feel as if he had a choice, because regardless, Kuklo is aware that he is going to need a sturdy body for the strenuous and laborious hardships of the future.

I curled my tail—now tails—around myself, creating a makeshift blanket, however unnecessary, for my own use as I laid down on my stomach, head rested atop my paw-hands.

"Alright, I'll do it, every day early in the morning," Kuklo finally responded, his voice low, yet resolute in the choice he made, "I'll work hard!" Truly a good thing that the boy was diligent if not anything else. "We'll see about that, boy, I'm just observing is all." I said back to him, my voice a monotonous drone.

That was when Kuklo decided that playing twenty questions happened to be a phenomenal idea. "So...why are you here? Observing, I mean." Kuklo directed to me with earnest curiosity befitting a child. I found not a single reason why I shouldn't inform the boy. "I'm here because this era is different from all the others I have observed," I supplied rather thoughtfully, "humanity either grew in some way, or deteriorated in another. I've been alive for quite some time and travelled far and wide—explored the whole world at some point, but that was thousands of years ago, maybe more." My response to Kuklo's question had apparently confused him, because he seemed to want me to elaborate. I decided not to. "Other questions?" I questioned somewhat pointedly.

Kuklo apparently did have more questions. "Why me? Why follow me around instead of Captain Pikale, Sharle, or anyone else for that matter?" This question had a hint of urgency in it, I noticed, that Kuklo had put in as if the answer truly was critical. It made me wonder. 'Little self-conscious there, ain'tcha? Either that or he's genuinely curious.' I hummed after my thoughts and rhythmically tapped my clawed fingers against the covers of the mattress. "Because a lot of things seem to revolve around you," was my response, until Kuklo frowned while attempting to wrap his head around the statement. At that time I decided to elaborate, unlike the previous question, "from what I could gather about your beginnings...you survived being imprisoned and abused for the majority of your youth, and you escaped and survived a cult attack with the daughter of a wealthy figure. From after that and on, I observed how things panned out—you struggled through exile, however temporary it was. You get the idea now."Kuklo nodded in understanding, and that was the last question I would be answering, making that known by shutting my heads a drifting off into sleep.

Third Person

Soon enough the sun came around; Kuklo had kept to his declaration and worked himself during the early hours of dawn so that the workout would be out of the way for the day. Kurama observed the boy and casually threw in a piece of advice or two every once in a while to correct a few incorrectly done exercises. The exercising lasted about an hour or two before Kuklo washed up his sore body, and following that, Sharle had arisen during the early morning. It wasn't until the late morning that the foreman, Cardina, and Jorge had joined the land of the conscious and awake. The elder two had made up some poor excuse of drinking the night away, that their sluggishness was due to the aftereffects of the drink, while Cardina more or less admitted her troubles by saying she had trouble getting asleep. Kurama was more than sure that Kuklo's statement—a statement that unnerved Cardina, Jorge, and Xenophon—was the cause of their sleep troubles. The fox promptly leapt onto Kuklo's shoulders and draped itself around the boy's shoulders. Sharle, Kurama thought, was more than likely unaffected due to Kuklo's presence with her; the girl was probably assured that her scarred knight would grant her safety.

After a few exchanged words, Jorge requested that Xenophon, the foreman, give the younger ones a tour of the town and to show them the iron bamboo. The trek began towards the industrial city's main source of work an income, the processing and manufacturing plant that rises just as tall as Wall 's childlike amazement had given Sharle a sense of happiness for the moment, and so she stepped up to take his hand in her's. The wonder felt by Kuklo was put into question by Kurama. "What's so great about this place? From my perspective, it's only a large manufacturing plant. Big whoop." The fox's interest was not latched onto the metal construct that made product, it was on Kuklo's unnecessary—what he felt was unnecessary—display of wonderment. "You wouldn't understand, I guess, being an entity that could alter its height at will," Kuklo sent back through the connection, "it's a testament to humanity's will. The knowledge that we can fight the titans and one day live free. Free so that we can all explore the world and discover as we see fit." Kuklo's message was clear to Kurama, and while the boy's passion and determination was a boon, he didn't seem to be aware—like every other person—that there was likely to be humans outside the country. 'Probably...maybe...' Kurama was unsure.

Eventually the group left the manufacturing plant to head towards the grove of iron bamboo that Jorge had been meaning to show to the younger population of the tour. Things, unfortunately for the humans, took a momentary turn for the worse on the way to the grove when a carriage with the Military Police emblem just so coincidentally stopped in front of the group; the group that so happens to be walking with the youngest child of the Innocencio family, the very girl that had run away from home with the titan's child. Kurama couldn't help but shake his head at the luck of these people; or, well, Kuklo, to be exact.

Immediately Kuklo stood in front of Sharle to obscure her visage from the eyes of the Military Police personnel. Kurama found that action pointless, whoever was in the rear passenger seat would have been able to see all of them. Xenophon had a quick amicable exchange with one of the soldiers within the carriage, to whom he told of his intent to take the youths with him to the grove. The man was about decline Xenophon in a friendly manner until Jorge introduced himself and all the soldiers inadvertently shit themselves as an important figure in the military presented himself, not just that, but also their instructor from long ago; humble and never mentioning his title as a hero. The soldiers of the Military Police filed out of the carriage and saluted Jorge in the traditional manner they always did. There were three. One of the personnel was in front of the rest, clearly someone of higher rank than the auxiliary troops behind him. Jorge explained that the idea was his and had gotten Xenophon to agree. It was then that the soldier in the front offered to fill the paperwork right there for the group to allow them access to the grove. Once that was said and done, the head soldier introduced himself properly to those that were unaware of his identity. He saluted again.

"I'm Jentsh Dafner, M.P. commander in the Industrial City. If you have any trouble, just come to me, I'll sort things out." The head soldier made out with a friendly tone, inviting, but not overly so. Kuklo and Cardina introduced themselves with aliases so as to avoid any recognition; it worked. Not everyone was aware of the face of the titan's child, nor of the Baumeister heir.

Eventually the M.P. commander had to leave, saying his goodbyes to the group and pleasantly letting them know that it would be good to see them some other time.

Once the M.P.s were out of sight, Cardina audibly exhaled a sigh of relief. "Holy shit...that was intense." She uttered as she wiped a thin sheen of sweat from her brow; that very hand placed unto Kuklo's shoulder for a bit of support. Cardina leaned into Kuklo a little too much for Sharle's liking, her chest just slightly pressed into Kuklo's triceps; and by Kuklo's owlish look, slight flush of the cheeks, and a discreet hitch of breath, it was evident that he took notice. Sharle pouted only briefly before she supposedly, unknowingly and subconsciously held Kuklo's other arm right against the outer side of her breast. It was at this point that Kuklo's head started figuratively spinning, the hormones of a healthy adolescent young man working overtime and causing reactions. Poor Kuklo stood in between a pair of girls and a soft place. The boy could do nothing about it.

It was at this time that Jorge (and the author) was getting impatient with the lallygagging and usher everyone to move at an increased pace. Kurama honestly could care less about the pace. "Not as easygoing as he seems now, does he?" The nine-tails relayed to Kuklo, a hint of mirth in his tone. "He's just a little rushed, probably; he meant to leave at dawn but woke up late." Kurama huffed at the boy's response. If only he knew.

Everyone eventually reached and passed the checkpoint that led into the iron bamboo grove. That was when Kurama fell asleep and gave no mind to the ensuing conversation and lecture. Plus a story on titans, a little Survey Corps. history and the discovery of their weakness. Kurama simply did not care, he could annihilate any titan on any given day, good or bad, with a flick of the wrist.

It was around nightfall when everyone had made it back. Kurama found himself on a much simpler twin bed upon cracking open a single eye. While it wasn't noticed, Kuklo's previous accommodations were a tad more lavish. Apparently since Kuklo was going to be staying for a while, the comfy room they had been in was no longer for him, nor another for Cardina. Since they were now residents, Kuklo and Cardina were given a room with two beds. Efficient in saving space and other rooms, although Cardina might have had a few complaints that garnered a struggle between Kurama and bursting with laughter. Sharle came with some tea eventually, expecting only Kuklo. Imagine the sudden need for Sharle to be as close as possible to Kuklo; the Innocencio girl sat at Kuklo's side after setting the tea set down on the small table at one end of the room. She gently leaned into Kuklo once aside him. It may have prompted a reaction from Cardina, were she looking, that is. "Kuklo..." Sharle said meekly, as always, "don't forget, I'm always supporting you; as a craftsman I'll be able to build the tools that'll help you survive out there." Sharle glanced out the window and instantly knew it was beginning to become much later. The moon was positioned higher. Sharle yawned and her eyelids began to droop.

While Kuklo appreciated Sharle's sweet words, the endearing effect they had simply wouldn't lessen. 'It's as if she thinks I'll forget her or something.' Wondered Kuklo. "I know, Sharle, you'll always have my back with that." The boy spoke softly, so as to not interrupt the atmosphere around himself and Sharle.

The Baumeister heir's attention was elsewhere, she kept her gaze through the window in the room, pensive about the sudden foxy companion Kuklo had picked up. Cardina wondered just why it was that she didn't bother to feel even a modicum of suspicion at the time it appeared. The fox had done nothing to earn suspicion, yet she seemed sure that it was strange in some way. 'Perhaps I'm overthinking everything...but how does an animal endear itself to someone so quickly?' Cardina thought tiredly. It was a shame that she wouldn't get the chance to investigate what she pondered over after tonight.

"Hey boy," Kurama prodded through the connection, "everything was sure exciting for a while..." the fox's tone was somewhat sarcastic, "why is it that everything calmed down after you were saved? It's as if you were given reprieve after surviving for so long." Kurama wouldn't put it past whatever deity that existed to actually do such a thing; if the spirit of death showed itself during certain ninja techniques, then it was obvious that divine entities existed. "I don't know and I don't care, I'm just glad I get to catch a break while I can," Kuklo glanced at Sharle, only to see she was fast asleep while leaning against him, "all I know is that I'm going to have to work hard, even more so in the near future."

'Man...being around Naruto for so long really did it for me, didn't it? I can barely stand the lack of...' Kurama paused in his thoughts to conjure up a befitting word '...well, everything. Maybe I should go into hiding and sleep off a few years.' The inactivity was slowly and figuratively killing the fox. Perhaps a moment of fun before leaving the midst of the humans for a while longer?

"So tell me, boy, which girl do you fancy more? Sharle or Cardina?" Kurama said with a teasing voice, the connection kept up by the nine-tails. Kuklo's face would have exploded from all the blood rushing in. The boy's face became so flushed that one would have assumed he was incredibly ill. "Hahaha! The look on your face! You humans are so expressive it's funny!" Kuklo didn't appreciate the teasing and shot the fox a glare that would have killed a person were it truly a weapon. 'Dumb fox.' Thought Kuklo irritated.

"Give it your all, kid, because from now on I'm not going to obliterate titans for you." Kurama relayed, a sudden bout of solemnness having gotten into him. The words struck a chord in Kuklo, causing him to widen his eyes. "You're why the titans never made it to us! You kept Cardina and I safe—" Kurama snarled, only audible enough for Kuklo. "Do not assume things. I wanted to observe you because many-a things seemed to revolve around you. They still may, but there hasen't been much of a development yet. It's been what? Three days at the most? I'm getting dissatisfied, and so I'm feeling an urge to leave and sleep for a few years." Kuklo said nothing as Kurama stood up. "Now, what's going to happen is that I'm going to leave; you're likely to never see me again; good for you. Before I do, though...I'll say this: you're going to put that sweet girl in bed and keep her company...otherwise I'll tear you apart for leaving her alone after such a tender moment for her." The boy broke into a cold sweat for the duration of Kurama's speech, preferring to keep his innards where they currently rest. '...it's not as if I would've left Sharle alone after this. Dumb fox...' Kuklo thought distractedly for a moment.

Kurama stood on his hind legs and stretched out his arms past his head with a yawn. "Take care, boy. Keep your precious people safe." That was all Kurama said before dispelling any illusion over himself. Of course, another illusion was brought into place, causing the fox to disappear from view and leave thoughtful Kuklo behind.