Hi there, everyone!
So, here's the first chapter of this Naruto/Gullwings idea!
Disclaimer: pain17ification owns nothing
On Fortune's Wings
Chapter One: Taking Flight
"This is a stupid idea," a dull voice spoke up.
"Glass half full," a calm one admonished.
"Yeah!" an excitable one chimed in. "This is gonna be great!"
The first voice sighed in defeat at that. The owner of said voice floated alongside her friends through the alleyways of a large settlement that they heard was called the Hidden Leaf Village. Apparently, it was one of many villages that had ninja as their form of military-slash-mercenaries.
Having arrived in this world about a year ago in search of legendary treasure, the trio had kept low profiles and remained inconspicuous, staying away from the public eye and doing most of their activities at night. In fact, the night prior had proven to be rather interesting to them.
They had spotted a teenage boy sneak into the office of the village's leader, muttering to himself about a Sacred Scroll. The title alone made them see that it was definitely a treasure, so they decided to tail him and see what made the scroll so special.
Remembering how the whiskered blonde knocked out the revered leader of the village brought forth mixed reactions. Yuna, the calm and rational brunette member, blushed at the crude transformation and at how perverted the old leader was. Rikku, the excitable blonde member, got a kick out of it and had to use her scarf to muffle her laughter. And finally, Paine, the blunt silverette member, merely sighed and called the whole situation stupid.
Following that successful lift of the Sacred Scroll, they followed the young man to a section of woods that was meant to be a rendezvous point between him and some man named Mizuki. The boy had gotten curious about the contents of the scroll – as were they – and decided to open it; revealing that it was filled with forbidden techniques that the village had documented over the years it had been in existence.
He even learned one of those forbidden jutsu; the Shadow Clone technique, which split inner energy into corporal copies of the user. All three of them found that technique to be handy for their chosen profession.
What followed that was a messy situation where it was revealed that the boy was duped by Mizuki and told that he was carrying a creature of great power within his gut; something called the Kyuubi. Another man, some guy named Iruka, had defended the boy and held off Mizuki for him to escape.
However, the blonde returned just in time to save Iruka and lay the smack down on Mizuki. Rikku nearly gave away their position when she cheered at his success, and they were forced to leave to avoid being spotted.
After spending the night resting in a safe corner of a rooftop, Yuna had suggested that they find the blonde teen again. If he could get the Sacred Scroll once, he should have been able to get it a second time. Rikku was all for the idea while Paine saw it as a bad one.
With a two-to-one vote in favor, the trio had set off to find one Naruto Uzumaki.
Naruto sulked as he walked down the road of his village. He had just heard everything Sakura had complained about him to Sasuke, and it hurt more than anything else. He liked Sakura, and he had hoped to win her over one day; but, hearing what she said about him and how his parents should've raised him better was too much.
Oh, his parents should've taught him manners? Kinda hard to learn them when he had none!
He wanted to be angry at her, but his past feelings for her had dulled that anger into a depression. One thing was for sure, though; his crush for her was done. If she was willing to say such things about him behind his back, that spoke volumes about her character.
Looking up from the road, he gave a weak smile at the familiar flaps of the Ichiraku Ramen Stand. He needed a pick-me-up after what had just happened.
Stepping inside, he was welcome by one of his favorite people. "Hey, Naruto-kun!" Ayame greeted with a warm smile. "Hungry?"
"Yeah, I'll take a bowl of miso ramen, please."
"Sure thing," she replied, reaching over the counter to ruffle his hair affectionately before preparing his bowl.
Stepping out of the supply room was her father, Teuchi. "Naruto, my boy! We missed you last night! I thought you said you were going to celebrate your graduation with us?"
He cringed at that. "Well…I didn't graduate at first," he admitted.
"Oh?" a third voice spoke up, walking in from the side entrance with fresh groceries. This was Trisha Ichiraku (1), wife of Teuchi. "What happened, Naruto-kun?"
"The Clone Jutsu…" he muttered.
"You were complaining about that one last week," Ayame noted in concern, setting a fresh bowl of food in front of him. "You still couldn't figure it out?"
"It takes too little chakra, and I have too much to limit to that size."
"So, it's like you're trying to fit a whole pot of ramen into a single bowl?" Trisha asked with a smile, knowing how Naruto liked to simplify things.
"Exactly!" he cried in frustration, slamming his head onto the counter. "I've told the teachers, but they would always tell me to practice chakra control. I've been practicing those stupid exercises for months now!"
"Hey now," Teuchi spoke up, reaching over to clasp his shoulder. "No need to get yourself down. Sometimes, things take longer than we'd like. But, it looks like you graduated anyway despite failing the exam."
"Did something happen?" Trisha questioned, showing motherly concern. She and her family had known Naruto for many years now, and she considered him one of her own; despite how she was denied adopting him on multiple occasions.
"Yeah… I was tricked by Mizuki after my failure…"
He spent the next few minutes explaining what had happened, sitting through a scolding afterwards from Ayame and Trisha about stealing while Teuchi couldn't help but laugh at how he distracted the Hokage. Despite the lecture, Naruto felt warmth at the level of care the three Ichiraku had for him.
Within a village of thousands, these three were the light in his darkness. They kept him from going over the edge.
"Well, despite the circumstances," Trisha began, stressing the last word and making Naruto give a sheepish chuckle, "we're still happy that you passed, Naruto-kun. One step closer to your dream now, right?"
Here, Naruto gave a forced smile. "R-Right!" he replied, hiding his slight stutter.
In truth, Naruto wasn't as gung-ho about becoming Hokage as he proclaimed to be. He just wanted people to accept him instead of ignoring or mistreating him. For many years, he had wondered why the villagers treated him that way; but no one would tell him why.
It wasn't until Sarutobi, the Hokage, told him about the Kyuubi and the law he placed about mentioning it that he understood. And with that understanding came anger towards the Hokage; a man who had lied right to his face for years about the fox. Every time he would ask, Sarutobi would claim ignorance or change the subject entirely, and now he knew why.
And it left a pit in his stomach at realizing that someone he had trusted didn't seem to return the sentiment.
Trisha noted the hesitance in his voice and fought a frown at the false smile he gave her. Being a woman her age, and having been around women who would wear fake smiles in certain company, she could spot false cheer on par with seasoned ninja. She wanted to ask him about it, but she knew it had to be something personal; so, she let him be.
Naruto finished his ramen with gusto before giving them a more sincere smile. "Thanks for the food," he declared, leaving money for the bill. "I'll see you all later!"
With that, he took off and Ayame went to the back to take stock of their inventory. Left alone, her parents turned to one another. "Something's wrong," Trisha noted aloud.
"You noticed that too?" Teuchi asked.
"Yes, I did. Whatever happened last night, it's still bothering him today." She bit her lip in thought before her eyes widened. "Y-You don't think he found out about…that, do you?"
Teuchi frowned at that. "Hard to say… But, I wouldn't put it off the table." He gave a tired sigh, rubbing his forehead to stave off a headache.
"I wish we could have told him sooner…" Trisha whispered sadly.
"We couldn't break Lord Third's law, dear…"
"I know that, but he deserved to know. We could've eased him into it."
"Eased him into what?" Ayame asked as she returned, looking curious. On the inside, she was hiding how worried she was, having overheard what her parents had said.
"Oh! N-Nothing worth-" Teuchi started to say before he was silenced by Trisha placing her hand on his arm.
"What we were talking about was something that concerns Naruto. It's something that most of the adult villagers know before it was forbidden from being spoken aloud. This is the most we can tell you without breaking the law," she explained to their daughter.
Ayame swallowed nervously. "A-And what happens if you did…?"
"We'd be executed," Teuchi answered bluntly, making his daughter gasp.
"It's what we've learned to respect, living in a military village. While the Hidden Leaf is peaceful and a great place to have a home, it's still run by a military. In exchange for their protection, we must obey their laws," Trisha informed, giving Ayame a reassuring smile. "And one of those laws is about keeping quiet about this subject concerning Naruto-kun."
"But…he knows about it, right?" she asked hesitantly.
Her parents shared a look before turning back to her, both looking solemn. "We don't know, dear…"
"So, that's why he was so shocked about it," Yuna declared, she and her friends having eavesdropped on the talk between the Ichiraku family.
"That's…so sad," Rikku whispered solemnly.
"Not to mention idiotic," Paine added with a frown. "He should've been told about the Kyuubi so that he could be better prepared for it."
Yuna nodded with her own frown. "Perhaps we need to shift gears, here…"
"Shift gears?" Rikku repeated, tilting her head.
"Maybe instead of trying to grab some treasure…we should help out this Naruto."
"Come again?/For real?" Paine and Rikku asked respectively.
Nodding once, Yuna took on a thinking posing as she floated around her friends. "The three of us have seen lots of Worlds, and we've seen our fair share of conflict while taking treasure; but this is the first time I can recall hearing of someone being kept in the dark about something crucially important about them. Plus, you've seen how those other people looked at him, right?"
"Yeah, those jerks," Rikku growled out.
"They probably know about this Kyuubi thing and think that Naruto is the Kyuubi, since it's in his gut or something," Paine mused.
"Exactly!" Yuna proclaimed. "That's not fair to him, and you know how I feel about helping people when we can. This wouldn't be the first time we've aided an inhabitant of another world."
"And by help, what are you getting at?" Paine pressed.
Yuna, who had her back to them as she thought it over, slowly turned around with a knowing smile on her face. "Well…what do you girls say about expanding our ranks?"
Following Naruto once more, the trio of tiny women watched him return to the Academy and sit in the classroom with his two teammates for over two hours. And the biggest problem was that it wasn't even a bored wait; it was an uncomfortable one.
Sasuke was still annoyed with Naruto for getting the drop on him and assuming his identity for a short period of time. The only reason he didn't kick the blonde's ass was because he didn't do anything that damaged his reputation; save for talking with Sakura, who he found annoying.
Sakura was confused. She had talked with Sasuke, practically confessed to him, and then complained about Naruto only to have her crush walk off in what she thought to be anger. Why was he mad? She only told him what she thought. And what was up with the idiot? He was just…sitting there silently, looking at nothing. Was he sick or something?
She shrugged without a care. At least he wasn't bothering her.
As for Naruto, he wished he could be somewhere else at the moment. He was stuck with the guy he tried to surpass and the girl he once liked but realized she thought so little of him. And now, he was stuck waiting for their tardy sensei for who knows how long.
Having enough, he got out of his seat with a look of frustration before he headed for the door. "Hey, Loser," he heard Sasuke call to him, making him clench his fist angrily. "Don't do anything stupid that could get us in trouble before we even meet our sensei."
"Yeah, you idiot!" Sakura joined in, assuming Naruto was off to cause more trouble. "Just sit down and wait like we are!"
His clenched fist trembled, and he restrained himself from lashing out at them; for giving into his darker desires. He had pushed those feelings down so much over the years, and after last night's revelation and Sakura's words, they were bubbling back up to the surface.
Deciding that he needed to let off some steam, he slid the door open roughly, only to reveal a tall man in Jonin gear that was wearing a face mask and his headband covering his left eye. Looking up, he saw the man somehow smile with just a closed eye as he asked, "Going out for some air?"
Naruto frowned at the knowing tone the man had. "Yeah, I needed a breather."
Kakashi Hatake opened his eye again and saw the frustration and growing anger in Naruto's eyes. He did look like he needed a moment to settle down, but he had already left them waiting long enough. No doubt the others would only grow more annoyed by waiting longer.
"Well, how about we meet on the roof? This way you can get some fresh air and we can start our introductions?" he suggested.
Sasuke and Sakura stood up at that and headed over to him while Naruto brushed past the man and headed for the stairwell. "What's up with him?" Sasuke asked disinterestedly.
"He's just got a bit on his plate right now," Kakashi answered casually. "He's trying to sort things out."
Sasuke grunted out his dismissal of the subject while Sakura said nothing for or against it. This blatant disinterest in the well-being of their teammate made the Jonin sigh mentally. In his mind, he was already jotting the three of them down for failure.
Up on the roof, Naruto was sitting with his arms and legs crossed, trying to calm down from his growing frustrations. It was proving harder than he had hoped, nowhere near as easy as it used to be to simply push those thoughts down.
"Excuse me," he heard an unfamiliar voice speak up politely. "You're Naruto Uzumaki, right?"
Looking up from the ground, he blinked in confusion at the sight of three tiny women floating in front of him. Blinking again, he thought it would help him see clearer; but, they were still there.
"Uh… Yeah, I'm him," he answered hesitantly.
The brunette gave him a polite smile and bowed from the waist. "Pleased to meet you. My name is Yuna, and these are my friends Rikku," the blonde waved cheerfully, "and Paine," the silver haired one nodded once in greeting. "We were hoping to talk with you when you had a moment. I understand that you're busy right now, but we can always meet up with you later."
Scratching the back of his head in confusion, he asked back, "And…what would we talk about?"
"We've got a once in a lifetime offer for you, Whiskers!" Rikku exclaimed with a bright grin.
"But, like Yuna said," Paine cut in calmly, "we'll wait until you have a moment to tell you about it."
"We'll wait for you at that ramen stand you were at earlier," Yuna bid before the three girls disappeared in flashes of light.
Rubbing his eyes to clear the temporary blindness, Naruto reopened them and saw that they were gone; just in time for the other three to arrive from the door to the stairwell. Looking back to where they once resided, he thought to himself, 'How'd they know I was at Ichiraku's? Were they following me?'
He was brought out of his inner thoughts by Kakashi saying, "Alright, why don't we kick things off by introducing ourselves?"
Sighing softly, he turned his full attention to the man, ready to get things moving so that he could get to the ramen stand faster. He didn't want to spend too much time with his teammates, after all.
When he returned to the stand, he was surprised to see the three women from earlier sitting down and enjoying a bowl each. The thing that made this encounter different from the first was that they were all the same size as him; each of them having teenage-sized bodies with beautiful figures and interesting dress styles.
Rikku noticed him first and grinned at him in greeting. "Hey, Whiskers! We saved you a bowl!"
He saw her gesture to the stool right next to her, a bowl of fresh ramen waiting for him to consume. Already liking how things were going, he took his seat and broke his chopsticks before he dived into his meal.
The four of them took a few minutes to simply enjoy their meals before, as one, they finished and set their bowls down. "That was wonderful," Yuna complimented.
"Yeah! Compliments to the chefs!" Rikku added.
"It was good," Paine said simply, though she had a faint smile on her face.
"Glad you all enjoyed it," Ayame returned with a polite smile before she grabbed their bowls and the pot used, taking them to the back to wash.
As soon as she was gone, the three women glowed briefly before they were back in their small forms. "I forgot how draining that was," Paine grumbled.
"Hopefully it will get easier to manage with practice," Yuna spoke up while Rikku nodded with a happy hum of agreement.
Naruto chose that moment to speak up. "Hey, so…who are you three anyway? You told me your names, but that's all I know; besides the fact that you're all…tiny and can grow bigger for short moments."
"Yes, of course. We're known as your Friendly Neighborhood Gullwings," Yuna introduced.
"But, that's a mouthful," Paine cut in dryly.
"So, just call us the Gullwings!" Rikku finished. "We're treasure hunters!"
"Treasure hunters?" Naruto repeated. "So, what? Do you three just go looking for treasure to take?"
"More or less," Yuna confirmed with a smile. "We also like to help others who can't fully help themselves."
"So…treasure hunters and mercenaries, then?" he asked, scratching his head.
"That sounds about right," Paine agreed with a nod.
"Okay then. What do you want with me?"
"Like we said, earlier," Rikku began, "we have a once in a lifetime offer for you!"
"Only if you want to hear it," Yuna added, rubbing her arm with a guilty expression. "You see…we've kinda been…following you since we saw you knock out your village leader last night."
"Wait a minute! Following me?! Since then?!" Naruto repeated worriedly, his eyes wide in shocked realization. "T-Then that means that-!"
"Yeah," Paine cut in. "We heard about what you have inside you; that Kyuubi thing."
Unknown to them, Ayame was listening in from the back, her eyes wide in shock at piecing together what her parents were referencing earlier that day. Naruto, the sweet boy who she loved like a brother, was a living prison of the Kyuubi!
Naruto swallowed the lump in his throat at Paine's confirmation. "I…"
"If you think we're holding that against you," Yuna started to reassure him, "then you don't need to worry about that. The truth is, our offer to you concerns your status as a prison for that thing."
"What do you mean…?" he asked hesitantly.
"What Yuna-chan is getting at is we're looking for another member to join our group!" Rikku explained, floating in front of his face so he could get a close and personal look at her grin. "We wanted to offer you that position!"
"…You three want me to become a treasure hunter like you?"
"Yes," Yuna confirmed, giving her own smile. "We understand if it's sudden, but we wanted to offer you a solution to get away from the things that bother you; if only temporarily."
"…So, it's pity," he said softly.
"Idiot," Paine cut in, earning his attention. "We're not pitying you, Blondie. We're offering you a job. If we were pitying you, we'd offer you something different."
"But you just said-"
"Think of it like a vacation," she cut in again. "We're offering you an opportunity to step back from things, clear your head, and experience new things like other Worlds."
They saw him perk up at that. "Other Worlds?"
"Yep! Your World is only one of hundreds out there; all of them carrying a super rare treasure just ripe for the picking!" Rikku cheered out, showing her eagerness to go find said treasures.
"Think of the experiences you will have," Yuna continued. "You could interact with other people who know nothing of what you hold; total strangers who can form their own opinions of you instead of following the crowd."
"That still sounds like an offer made from pity," he argued.
"It's only a pity offer if you see it that way," Paine argued back. "Like I said; we're offering you a job."
Ayame bit her lip, worried about what Naruto would do. She wanted him to be happy, having known that he wasn't well-received in the village. She and her family helped him however they could; but, most times it felt like they were the only ones putting forth the effort.
It both saddened and upset her that seemingly no one else was willing to help someone as compassionate and bright as her surrogate little brother. And now, here comes three strange women from another World accepting him and even offering him a way out.
Part of her wanted him to take it so that he could hopefully find something better out there. However, another part wanted him to decline, driven by the fear that she would lose him forever.
"…Is this a one-way offer?" she heard him ask, making her perk up.
"Of course not," Yuna assured him. "If you really wanted to come back, we'd be more than happy to bring you back here. We just want you to give our group a fair shot before you fully decide. And even if you become a member, we can always visit this World anytime you want."
Ayame sighed in relief, smiling at the weight lifting from her shoulders. She wouldn't lose him, after all. She reached up and gripped something that was beneath her uniform, held by a thin cord around her neck. 'Stay or go, I'll give this to him soon.'
"Can… Can I think about it?" he asked hesitantly, sincerely considering the offer. "This is a big decision, after all…"
"By all means, take some time to think things over," Yuna agreed. "We'll be around if you need us. Just call out to one of us and we'll come to you."
"Not a problem, Naruto-san."
"Uh, just call me Naruto. I'm not one for formalities."
Yuna nodded while Rikku moved in front of her and grinned once again at him. "We'll see ya soon, Whiskers!"
"Think about it, yeah?" Paine chimed in, earning a nod from Naruto before the trio left in a flash of light.
Naruto hummed softly to himself, thinking about what he should do. "…How much did you hear?" he asked aloud, making Ayame stumble into some stacked dishes and make some noise. He turned to her with a small smile as she left the back of the stand with a guilty expression. "Everything, huh?"
"Don't be. I was going to tell you and your parents about this, anyway. I wanted to know what you all thought about the offer…and about what I am."
"What you are?" she repeated with a frown, moving over to him. Using her hand, she grasped the bottom of his chin and forced him to look at her. "Listen to me now, Naruto Uzumaki. No matter what is sealed into you, you are still you; and you are my loving little brother." She smiled to him softly and finished, "Got it memorized?"
He smiled back through watery eyes. "Yeah…"
"Good," she declared, bringing him in for a hug. "And my advice…listen to your gut. Stay or go, you can always come back to us; and you know we'll never turn you away."
"I know… Thank you, nee-chan…"
Her smile softened at that. "Anytime, otouto…"
The following morning, Naruto decided to ignore the advice that Kakashi had given his team the day before. He got plenty of rest, like always; but he still had some breakfast since he knew he'd need the energy.
Sure, he was a stamina monster; but he had to get his fuel from somewhere, right?
Checking the time, he saw that he had half an hour before he was supposed to meet his teammates for their test. "Girls…?" he asked aloud inside his kitchen, feeling awkward doing so.
A small flash of light responded before a tired Yuna appeared, yawning cutely. "Everything alright, Naruto?" she asked as she rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.
"Uh, yeah. I was just…checking if yesterday was some weird daydream. Glad to see that it wasn't."
She smiled at his sheepishness. "I understand. It must've been pretty unbelievable having an offer made to you from three faeries."
"So, you three are faeries. I've heard stories about them when I was growing up; but they mostly said that faeries lived and took care of forests."
"Some do; depending on the World you visit. As you can see, my friends and I are quite different from the standard faery."
He chuckled at that. "I think I prefer your version over the others."
"Thank you for the compliment, and good luck on your test."
He nodded to her in thanks before he headed out of the apartment, prompting Yuna to go wake her friends. They didn't want to miss watching it.
Sighing defeatedly, Naruto stared at the ground before him sadly as he stood tied against the post. Once again, he was mentally berating himself for skipping out on the rope escape class to pull off one of his more elaborate pranks.
"Somehow, I knew this was gonna happen as soon as I was tied up," he muttered aloud.
"You'd think they'd at least cut you loose before they left," Yuna groused as she worked on the knot that held the rope together.
Paine scoffed at that. "Not likely. That duck-haired kid is too into himself to worry about others, and that pink-haired girl is to into him. That teacher should've done something; but he probably assumed you could get out on your own."
"Never assume, because it makes an ASS out of U and ME~!" Rikku sang out before growing tired of Yuna struggling with the knot. "Okay, that's it! Fire!"
Pointing her hand like a pretend gun, she shot a small burst of fire from her fingertip and ignited the rope's knot. The fire weakened it enough for Naruto to snap it with his strength, tossing it aside with a growl.
"I hate ropes," he grumbled before he took a breath to calm down. "Thanks, Rikku."
He wiped off the dust and dirt from his clothes before looking up at the sky with a sigh. Despite his team passing, he wasn't as excited as he thought he should've been. Perhaps, it was his team leaving him behind that dulled it down so much.
Putting those thoughts aside, he began to head back to the village, the Gullwings all hitching a ride on his shoulders and hair. Yuna took his left shoulder, Paine his right, and Rikku settled herself in his hair.
"Have you thought about our offer?" Yuna asked softly.
"Yeah, I have… I wanted to talk with Pops and Trisha before I made any decisions, though."
"Understandable. They really care about you, and I can tell their opinions mean a great deal to you."
"Yeah… Teuchi has been like a father to me, treating me well and teaching me some life lessons as I grew up. And Trisha…" He smiled softly. "She's everything I want in a mother; caring, considerate, slightly scolding." He and the girls shared amused chuckled at that last one. "…Loving…"
"…It's hard growing up without a family, isn't it?" Paine asked.
"Yeah…" he answered, breaking through the invisible border between the training fields and the village districts. "I grew up in an orphanage, but I was never adopted; most likely because of the fear of the Kyuubi. So, I would sneak out whenever I could, finding food for myself and camping out in random training fields at night.
"Until you met the Ichiraku family," Rikku finished with a smile.
"Yep. They were the first people who honestly accepted me and helped me out. Whether it was listening to me, giving me a free meal on occasion, or even helping me understand growing up, they did it all with a smile…and I felt happy."
"And you don't want to leave them," Yuna deduced.
"Of course not; at least, not forever. If I do go…I'd want to have a way back to them."
"And you will," she assured him.
"I know… But I still want to know what they think about this."
The Gullwings nodded, respecting his decision. They knew that, if they were in his place, they'd like the same courtesy.
Naruto sat in silence on the couch across from Teuchi and Trisha, Ayame seated next to him. The Gullwings were in their previous positions on his shoulders and hair, having said nothing to disturb the silence.
He had just told them about how he knew he held the Kyuubi, his frustration with the Hokage lying to him, meeting the Gullwings, and their offer to him.
Nothing was left out, and now he was waiting to hear what they had to say about it all.
"It's an interesting offer," Teuchi finally spoke up.
"You haven't already decided, have you?" Trisha cut in, looking to Naruto worriedly.
"No," he answered. "I wanted to know what you two thought before I made my decision."
"Naruto-kun… If you go through with this, you could be labeled a traitor to the village. You were just accepted as a Genin; making you a legal member of the military. Lord Third is an understanding man, but other people speaking badly about this can force his hand."
"Not if I leave a letter of resignation from the ninja corps," he argued.
Trisha bit her lip at that. "Please, think this through! You're just a boy, for heaven's sake! You still have so much ahead of you!"
"And I could see a lot more if I take the offer than I would as a ninja."
"I can't just sit by and watch you leave!" she argued firmly. "I'm not going to just watch a child of mine go gallivanting around who knows where without understanding the risks!"
His blue eyes widened considerably at that, and her green orbs widened after realizing what she just said. "Y-You… You consider me your child…?"
"Of course, I do!" she cried, her eyes growing misty. "We've known you since you were just a child. We watched you grow up, teaching you what we could along the way. And many times…" She bit back a sob. "Many times, I submitted requests to adopt you into our family."
Teuchi reached his hand over to grasp hers as she struggled to hold back her tears. Ayame was smiling at her mother's revelation and at how it touched Naruto so deeply.
"See?" she asked aloud. "I told you we'd never turn you away; not when you're family, Naruto-kun."
Naruto reached an arm up to wipe away his building tears with his sleeve. "…I never knew…" he whispered.
"I wanted to surprise you with an approved form; but every request was denied within a few days. I can tell that they didn't want you to have someone to take you in, and it upset me beyond reason. What kind of village doesn't let an innocent young boy get a family?!"
"Dear…" Teuchi tried to soothe her, but she broke away and began to pace in frustration; a habit she had for as long as he could remember.
"Why wouldn't they let us take you in?! Why do they insist on making you struggle to get by?! I'm sure your parents, whoever they are, are turning in their graves at what this place has done to you! And I-!"
She was cut off by a weight latching itself to her, small arms wrapping around her tightly as the front of her blouse gained a growing wet spot. Looking down, she saw that it was Naruto clutching her, shaking with sobs and making her eyes soften from the growing anger they once held.
Crouching slightly, she pulled him closer and held him just as tightly, letting him vent out his feelings in her embrace as she whispered sweet words into his ear.
"Shh… It's okay, Naruto… Let it out…" she consoled, smiling when she saw the looked her husband and daughter were giving her. After a moment, she gently held him away from her, reaching a hand up to wipe away his tears with her thumb. "I don't want you to go…but I know that staying here will only kill you inside."
He said nothing, wiping away his tears in silence.
"You said that you can bring him back, right?" she asked to the Gullwings.
"Yes, you have our word," Yuna promised.
"We wouldn't keep Whiskers away from you guys. You're important to him." Rikku chimed in.
"Family needs to stick together, right?" Paine asked rhetorically, giving a faint smile.
Trisha smiled at their answers, turning her attention back to Naruto. "Oh, Naruto…" she began softly, cupping his cheek affectionately. "I want you to give me a solid promise."
"Anything," he assured her.
"…Promise me that you'll come back safe and sound. I don't want to lose my son…"
He gave her a smile so bright that she bet the sun would've been envious. "You bet…kaa-chan."
She smiled back and hugged him once again, this time being joined by her husband and daughter. "I'm holding you and your friends to that, sochi."
They stayed there for a few moments, the family welcoming their newest member with open and loving arms.
Late that night, after helping him with writing his resignation and packing some clothes and supplies, the Ichiraku family and Naruto were led to the patch of trees behind the Hokage Mountain. The Gullwings had said it was where they had parked their ship; something that confused them since they thought ships needed to be on the water.
So, it was not hard to imagine their surprise at seeing the blocky, colorful structure that the girls had called a Gummi Ship (2). It was out of this World for them; further driving home that there were other Worlds out there to see.
Turning to face his new family, Naruto rubbed the back of his head with a smile. "Well…this is it."
"You sure you haven't forgotten anything?" Trisha asked.
"Everything was packed by you, kaa-chan," he fired back in amusement.
"Don't get smart with me, young man," she scolded.
"Y-Yes ma'am," he replied nervously before he blinked at the locket she handed to him.
"I wanted to give you that when the adoption was legalized; but, that never happened," she explained before motioning him to open it.
Inside the two open halves were two photos. The first had her and Teuchi smiling at him while the second had him and Ayame seated together at the ramen stand.
"Thanks… I'll treasure it," he promised her.
She pulled him in for a hug, kissing the top of his head. "Come back in one piece, sochi…"
Teuchi smiled at their moment before he stepped up and handed Naruto a small pack. "That's a traveling medical kit. You never know if it may save your life out there."
"Thanks, Pops. I'll keep it on me wherever I go."
"Good man," he bid, ruffling the blonde's head. "Stay safe and have some fun out there, kid."
Finally, Ayame stepped forward and unclasped the cord that she wore around her neck. Pulling the end of it out from under her clothes, she revealed it to be a token that was attached to a small chain. The token was a golden crescent moon while the chain had star shapes to it (3).
"I found that when I saw a star fall out of the sky on the night you first came to the stand. I thought it was a sign and kept it on me ever since," she explained with a smile, putting it on him and pressing the moon gently against his chest. "I want you to have it, so that you can carry our fortune with you."
He smiled warmly, and the two siblings shared a tight embrace. "Thanks, nee-chan…"
"You'd better stay out of trouble, otouto," she threatened in jest.
"No promises for that one," he responded in just as much jest.
"I figured you would say that," she fired back before the two broke apart with a laugh.
Yuna floated over to them with a polite smile. "Ready to go, Naruto?"
"Yeah," he answered, shouldering his pack after safely tucking his locket and token under his orange jacket. He walked up the small ramp into the ship, stopping near the top to turn back to his family and give them a wave. "I'll be back, and I'll have plenty of stories to tell."
The ramp then closed as the Gummi Ship powered on and started to rise off the ground. As it turned around to take off into orbit, Trisha whispered, "You'd better, sochi…"
And moments after she spoke those words, the Gummi Ship shot off, sending Naruto Uzumaki and the Gullwings off on their adventure.
1~ I decided to borrow Trisha Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist for the role of Ayame's mother. There was never a mention of Ayame's mother, so I improvised to bring more emotion into this opening chapter. How'd I do?
2~ The Gummi Ship used by the Gullwings is the Highwind, the first ship you get in Kingdom Hearts 2
3~ Before anyone asks; YES, this is a keychain for a KeyBlade. Can you guys guess which one?
And that's the end! Off to their first World and the start of their adventure!
An emotional first chapter, but I hope to have the future chapters to be MUCH more lighthearted and fun. After all, you got the Number One Knucklehead of the Leaf teamed up with a cute trio of treasure hunting faeries!
What mischief WON'T those four get into?! *grins*
Please leave me some reviews! They help give me the drive to keep going, after all!
Until next time!