Okay… Now, I know what you're all thinking:
"Dammit all, not ANOTHER story idea!"
*anime style rage face* Well, ya know what I have to say to you naysayers?!
*calms down with an awkward sweatdrop* Yeah, I got nothing… Sorry.
Anyway, here's my attempt at a Naruto/Sekirei idea! Fair warning, a large bulk of this chapter is actually from the first chapter of another of my stories.
However, that first chapter was vague enough to be used for multiple ideas; including this one! ^_^
Disclaimer: This FanFiction is a nonprofit creation using concepts and elements from source material that do not belong to me. All rights reserved for the creators of said source material.
A Fox and His Wagtails
Chapter One: Discovery
Within the borders of the Land of Fire sat a blonde teen in a bright orange jumpsuit. He was sitting on a bed inside of a hotel room, back leant against the headboard and gaze towards the ceiling. His deep, cerulean orbs were dulled as he laid in thought, thinking over the past and recent events in his life.
About a year ago, someone that he had considered a brother had tried to defect from the Hidden Leaf and didn't hesitate to try and kill him to do so. He still had the scar from their clash at the Valley of the End, caused by a jutsu tainted with twisted, dark chakra; chakra that was able to contend with that of the Bijuu he carried. A sigh escaped his lips as he recalled the ultimate result being his loss of the fight and the failure of stopping his wayward friend from leaving.
"Dammit, Sasuke," he muttered with frustration lacing his tone. "Was our bond really so meaningless to you?"
He sighed again and closed his eyes, putting thoughts of the Uchiha into the back of his mental processing. Coming to the forefront were thoughts concerning his tenant; a being made of chakra and possessing immense power and nine tails. The Kyuubi had surprisingly helped him in that fight, saving him from death not once, but three times. A part of him knew it was just the fox trying to preserve its own life, but another part felt grateful towards the chakra beast.
With nothing else but a whim, he relaxed his body and slowly entered the representation of his mind and the seal holding back the fox. The sensations of the hotel room faded away, replaced by the atmosphere of the seal and the feeling of water reaching slightly above his ankles. Opening his eyes, he saw the cage and seal holding back the fox, and said beast's gleaming crimson eyes poking out of the darkness it resided in.
"Kyuubi," he greeted, surprising himself at how calm he had sounded. How strange it was for one so normally hyperactive to be so…collected.
"Whelp," returned the Bijuu, resting its head on its forelimbs. "Why are you here?"
The blonde shrugged, hands in his pockets as he stepped up to the bars of the cage. "Nothing important. I just wanted to thank you for helping me back then against Sasuke. I…" He took a breath before looking the beast in the eye. "I really appreciate it. Thank you."
A furry brow was risen at the statement. "What brought this on?"
"The realization that I would've died many times if you didn't step in and give me some of your chakra. I used to think that I was strong and could take on anyone…" He sighed, eyes closing in resignation. "But that fight with Sasuke was a real eye-opener. On my own, I'm not much, and most of my victories have been won either by dumb luck, or with your chakra helping me." He started to raise fingers as he continued, "Haku, Orochimaru, Neji, Gaara, Dotou, that bone-using guy who worked for Orochimaru, and now Sasuke… Those were all of the times your chakra saved my ass and gave me the strength I needed to survive."
"And here I thought you had a spirit like fire," taunted the fox. "What are you getting at with this?"
Blue eyes narrowed. "Nothing. I'm not trying to get anything out of this, fox. I'm just letting you know that you were right; I'm not as strong as I made myself out to be."
The Bijuu snorted. "Of course not. You had guts, there's no doubt there. But when it came to proving your claims… Well, you could savor the fact that they were always amusing to witness."
"No need to rub it in. I already know where I stand, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna stay there. The Pervert is gonna use these next couple of years to make me stronger than ever."
"Is that right?" queried the fox, nonchalance in its tone. "And where exactly is that wart-riddled hermit at now?"
That stopped Naruto short. "Well… He's uh…"
"Giving into those so-called 'vices' that he warned you to stay away from?"
He cringed at that. "…most likely…"
"And how exactly do you expect to get, in your words, stronger than ever if that fool is out gallivanting like the imbecile he is?"
"…I don't know," admitted the Uzumaki.
The Kyuubi rolled its eyes and continued, "Let's also not forget that the very man you're on this trip with nearly killed you when he pushed you into that chasm. If you hadn't have contacted me in time, you would've died upon impact with the eventual bottom."
Naruto winced at the point the Kyuubi brought up. Looking back, he sighed sadly at once again being proven that the fox before him was the main reason he was still alive. Having the truth thrust into his face made him clench his fists in growing anger.
"Alright, you've made your point!" he relented, shouting it out in frustration. "What should I do then?"
"If you want to have any kind of chance to get better than you are now, then what you have to do is take your training into your own hands. If that idiot wanted you to use my chakra within a month just for summoning amphibians, then what do you think he'll want you to do with it in the span of a couple of years?"
"And knowing you, you'd make it next to impossible to meet his expectations, wouldn't you?" he asked back knowingly.
"Of course, I would. What do you take me for; a chakra charity?"
The Uzumaki couldn't help but snort at the very idea. "How exactly am I supposed to take matters into my own hands when I know so little? I can barely control my chakra, my greatest trick is to copy myself, and my one jutsu that could take down others needs a damn clone to help me do it! And so far, all the pervert has taught me is how to dispel a genjutsu, which should've been taught to me by Kakashi-sensei!"
Annoyed at the teen's complaints, the Bijuu bashed its head against the cage and snarled, making him step back in fright. "I don't need, nor want, to hear you whine like a pathetic child! You always go on about proving people wrong, right? Well, then prove it! You can't have someone hold your hand through everything, brat! You're not an infant...or are you?"
Naruto glared at the Kyuubi before he cut off the connection between them and refocused on the room he was in. "Damn fox…" he muttered, hating that it was right. Too frustrated to do anything else, he laid back down on his bed and eased himself into a difficult sleep.
"Alright kid, let's see how far along you are on summoning," declared Jiraiya late in the morning.
With the conversation from the night before still fresh on his mind, Naruto had a frown on his face as he went through the motions for the jutsu. Placing his bloody palm on the ground, he brought out the son of Gamabunta, Gamakichi.
"You're kidding me, right?" deadpanned the Toad Sage at the sight of the small toad.
"Hey!" called out Gamakichi indignantly. "I'm awesome!"
"You're a child who can't fight," immediately shut down the Toad Sage.
The blonde snapped at that. "And you're a lousy pervert who is a terrible teacher!" raged Naruto, letting his frustration take over.
"Whoa! Where did that come from?" Jiraiya asked in slight surprise.
Naruto point towards the Sannin, eyes narrowed in agitation. "Ever since we've met, you've done nothing but drill me on summoning and having me figure out a complex jutsu on my own! When you're not doing that, you're off with MY money, wasting your time with women that only like you for that money, and doing crappy research only to get your ass beat every damn time! In fact, you're so perverted that I have to resort to using the Sexy Jutsu just to keep you the least bit motivated in training me!"
The man frowned back. "You know, most people would've been happy to have received my training. Or did you forget that I-?"
"Trained the Fourth Hokage?" cut off Naruto, his voice condescending and full of spite. "Oh yes, because it's not like I've heard you use THAT line so many times before! You used that line to pick up women, and you expect me to think it matters NOW?"
"I'll have you know that I'm a damn good teacher, brat! You just don't know how to appreciate what I'm offering you!"
"And what have you offered me, you goddamn pervert?!" he roared, his chakra spiking in response to his emotions. "A quick death?! Or did you forget that you pushed me off a fucking cliff, into a ravine, with zero chance of saving myself unless I miraculously summoned a toad?! Thank everything worth praying to that I summoned Gamabunta, or else you'd have to explain why I didn't show up to the damn Finals!"
"I taught you one of the Fourth Hokage's greatest jutsu known throughout the Ninja world!" the man argued.
"Taught?! All you did was give me water balloons and rubber balls to pop without giving me a damn clue on how to do it! What makes it worse, I have to use a clone to complete it since my chakra control sucks!"
Jiraiya crossed his arm as his eyes narrowed on Naruto. "Really? And whose fault is it that you have crappy control? In fact, teaching you the Rasenganshould have refined it."
Naruto held out his hand upward as he attempted to use the Rasengan. The only thing that happened was chakra haphazardly swirling around before dissipating. "Did that look refined to you?! If you had actually helped me with the Rasengan, I'd probably be doing a whole lot better with summoning or even my Shadow Clones!"
Without thinking, the Toad Sage yelled, "Well, maybe the problem is that you're a terrible student! It's not my fault you can't learn what I try to teach you!"
That made Naruto stop his rant, his chakra dying down as his rage turned into a look of shock and hurt. It was quickly dropped for a cold glare before he turned and walked away. As he left, he muttered, "Fuck you, Jiraiya…"
That made the Sannin wince, knowing that he went too far.
"You're a real class act," said Gamakichi, frowning at the white-haired man. "From what pops told me, you were just as bad as him; and you didn't have a Bijuu to drag you down. If he's a bad student as a Jinchūriki, what does that make you?"
With that said, the toad went back home and left Jiraiya alone to wallow in the guilt of his own words. He was right; Jiraiya had been a terrible learner and struggled through everything taught to him when he was Naruto's age. To make matters worse in comparison, Naruto had a valid reason for his difficult time learning while Jiraiya did not; and he ignored that just to save face and not be told off by someone less than half his age.
He sighed as he realized his success with the Fourth Hokage had gone to his head, making him arrogant as a supposed instructor. Minato was a genius in comparison to Naruto, not needing anything other than someone to point him in the right direction. And that was all Jiraiya had done; show him the first steps before Minato took over on his own. And then Minato went on to teach Jiraiya the Rasengan! His own student was the one to teach him a powerful jutsu!
"You fucked this one up, Jiraiya," he muttered to himself, self-loathing in his tone.
Naruto was in the middle of a training session between himself and his clones, three of them against him at the same time. It was much easier for him this time since he had been doing this for a while; not to mention he was able to read the clones all telegraphing their moves.
'Do I really fight this bad?' he mused despondently, as he dispatched the three clones with a pair of kunai slashes. He sighed as he put away his weapons, moving over to a tree so that he could pull out a notebook. He needed a break, and his muse had been sparked during his rant at Jiraiya.
Not many people knew this about Naruto, but he enjoyed reading adventure stories and was in the midst of writing his own. It started after he found out that it was Jiraiya who wrote that smut that Kakashi read all the time. Based on that, he figured that if a pervert could become a famous writer so easily, how hard could it be?
And so, during moments of free time when his muse was awake, he would write down his ideas and continue his story. Like many he enjoyed, it was a tale of adventure. However, the difference between his and the ones he read was the circumstances of the protagonist.
Most stories had the protagonist from a noble family, or as some legendary warrior. It made the endings obvious, despite how the book was illustrated. For Naruto, he wanted the hero to be like himself; starting off from poor beginnings and struggling to reach his potential.
He even named the character after himself, embarrassingly enough. Menma Uzumaki, a simple man from a poor village that had been razed by the forces of a heartless tyrant. He threw so much of himself into the book's hero that part of him felt that it could've been some sort of autobiography; something that made him chuckle.
"What do you hope to accomplish with this book?" questioned the Kyuubi, slightly curious.
'I just want to see how people will respond to something I write. I know that I won't have much luck in being well-liked thanks to holding you.'
The fox snorted.
'But, maybe I can be famous as a story writer. It could happen.'
"Your desire for acceptance is almost pitiable...but the drive you have is commendable."
'Am I hearing things, or is that you starting to come around, fox?' asked the blond with a mental smile. 'Y'know, we could be friends, if you want? I wouldn't mind starting over with you.'
The Bijuu rolled its eyes. "And why, pray tell, would I want to be friends with you?"
'…Maybe because I'm the only person you can talk to at the moment?'
"That doesn't help whatsoever," shut down the fox in a deadpan tone.
'Well, how about the fact that I've thanked you for your help and I understand that I took your chakra for granted?'
"That just shows me that you know I was right."
'You're not making this easy for me, are you? I really want to try and establish some kind of connection with you beyond the obvious. Is there anything I can do, besides removing the seal?'
'…Well, if you come up with anything, let me know,' awkwardly finished Naruto before he cut off the connection and resumed writing.
Later that evening, Naruto was still avoiding Jiraiya, too angry at having a wasted year under his belt when it could've been much more fruitful. He had asked for a separate room at the check-in desk and was now on the floor above the Toad Sage.
He jumped when the Kyuubi suddenly spoke up. 'Geez… You scared me! What's up?'
"You want to try and start fresh, right?"
'Yeah…? That's what I said earlier. Did you come up with something?'
"As a matter of fact, I did. You remember how this Toad Summoner was somehow able to alter the seal on you?"
Naruto cringed at the memory. It was halfway through the first year that Jiraiya decided to try to loosen the seal a bit and give him more access to the fox's chakra. Problem was that he was nowhere near ready to handle the corruption the chakra brought forth, making him go into a berserker rage as soon as he accessed it.
'Yes, I remember that. What's your point?'
"Only a practitioner of seals could have any kind of chance of doing what he did, even if he had the key on hand. So, here's what I want you to do; search his belongings for anything related to fūinjutsu."
'What exactly will this accomplish?'
"With enough training and practice, you could find a way to alter the seal to benefit the both of us without repercussion. When that happens, we'll become a true Jinchūriki and Bijuu team."
The notion sounded appealing to the blonde Uzumaki, and he grinned at the fox offering him a way to establish a friendship. 'Alright, I'll do it. But how am I supposed to get to his st-?'
"The pervert is out of range with some random woman," deadpanned the fox, cutting him off.
That made Naruto sweatdrop. '…Oh.'
With that, he went down to the lower floor and stopped at Jiraiya's room. Easily picking the lock, he was unaware of a seal lighting up before it corroded away thanks to the Kyuubi pulsing its chakra in a split second. Stepping into the room, he checked Jiraiya's belongings and found a few journals; most of them related to the man's Icha-Icha series.
"Come on… Where the hell are his-? Oh," he said, cutting off his question and holding up a notebook stuffed with papers and sticky notes. "Here they are."
"Good, now head back and read them. And fix up the room, or else he'll suspect someone was in here."
Nodding, he replaced everything where he found it and snuck back out, locking the door and rushing up to his room. Locking his own door, he sat on the bed and opened the notebook to the first page. "Alright, let's see… The intricate art of fūinjutsu is one of the most diverse and difficult studies in the ninja world..."
"Okay… Just need to fix this mark here… Add a couple of strokes there… Adjust the formula…" murmured Naruto as he looked over a large sealing array he was working on. Two months had gone by since he had taken Jiraiya's notebook concerning fūinjutsu, and the Kyuubi had made a mental copy of it after having its container skim through it all.
Being a chakra construct given life had its advantages, and one of them was something like an eidetic memory. It was thanks to that perk that the Kyuubi was able to do this, allowing Naruto to easily replace the notebook back with Jiraiya's belongings so that the man was none the wiser to it being taken.
"You missed a couple of strokes up top," advised the fox.
'Right, thanks.' Fixing it, he stepped back and observed his progress. 'Alright, that looks about right. What do you think, fox?'
"Let's see how it works out. Go ahead and activate it."
The teen nodded and knelt down with his palms on the seal. Pumping his chakra into it, the array lit up a whitish-blue and covered the room in its glow. After a few moments, chakra bubbles began to form and float from the seal, each one taking on one of five colors: blue, orange, brown, green, and yellow.
"So far, so good…"
The bubbles began to slowly float in a circular motion, like a carousel before the one that glowed green floated to him, followed by the one that glowed blue; both nearly equal in size. They phased into his body with the chakra rippling like a disturbed lake before the array died down.
"It looks like it worked, and it was accurate. It showed your affinities for Wind and Water. Nice work, brat."
Slumping comically in the corner, the Uzumaki mumbled, "I'm not a brat…"
The Kyuubi sweatdropped at how a raincloud had formed over its container before rolling its eyes at the childish reaction. "Quit fooling around. With this, we can move on to the advanced notes."
'Awesome!' he cheered mentally, dropping the sulking act in an instant, before he flinched and held his head. "Huh… Looks like the clone I left with Jiraiya finally dispelled. Anything worth noting, fox?"
"Just a spar over the nearby river. The seal held up though, so the clone didn't immediately dispel after the first hit. Although, don't expect this trick to last for too long. He's not an S-Ranked ninja for nothing."
"True… I better personally show up for the next couple of sessions. At any rate, I had a question."
"How is it that I can understand fūinjutsu so easily? I've never done this before you had me take that notebook, so what gives?"
"Tell me, why do you think that red swirl you wear is also on the flak jackets and mixed into the Leaf symbol of your village?"
He blinked in total confusion, question marks floating above his head. "Uh… Can I call a lifeline?"
"Idiot… The symbol is in fact that of the Uzumaki Clan and their village within the Land of Whirlpools. You weren't just given that last name by coincidence; you are an Uzumaki by blood."
"And you know this because…?" he asked, entering the seal and staring down the Bijuu.
"Because it was your mother and ancestor that held me the first two times before you did; your mother being my second Jinchūriki."
"My mother?!" Naruto's eyes widened with surprise and moved closer toward the cage. "Who was she? What was she like?"
"Calm down, brat and let me finish. The Uzumaki were known for their proficiency with fūinjutsu, as well as their potent chakra and incredible life force; or longevity. Your mother, Kushina, had such a unique chakra that it gave her the ability to manifest it into chains that had enough power to bind me; a Bijuu with near limitless levels of chakra." Vague flashes of that night crossed the fox's mind as he added, "And she did this while severely weakened."
"Kushina…" he whispered, savoring the sound of his mother's name and smiling at how amazing she was. "How was she weakened?"
The fox narrowed its eyes at its container. "Are you sure you wish to know?"
Naruto stared back at the Bijuu with a hint of desperation laced in his voice. "Please…I have to know…"
The vulpine beast sighed as one of its tails poked between the bars, the tip stopping inches from Naruto's forehead. "After this, you may have second thoughts about trying to get all buddy-buddy with me. You should know that before I show you what happened. Last chance to back out."
The desperation turned into determination and he nodded firmly. "Show me…"
With that, the tail tip poked his forehead and his vision went dark for a moment.
The following morning had Naruto seated on the rooftop of the hotel he and Jiraiya were staying at. The rising sun slowly illuminated his body as he looked downward with a thoughtful expression. Last night's revelation was quite the dropped bomb if he was putting it lightly.
How was he supposed to react to finding out that it was a man masquerading as Madara Uchiha – of all people – that forcefully removed the fox from his mother? How was he supposed to take the reveal that his parents gave up their lives for him and that the Fourth Hokage, his own father, had been the one to reseal the fox for the third time and inside of him? It was a lot to take in; especially knowing that the mortal blow to his parents was dealt by the fox itself.
"There you are," commented a familiar voice that he didn't immediately react to.
"Jiraiya… I don't feel like training today… I've… I've got a lot on my mind," he said softly, cutting off the man from saying anything else.
The man stepped over to his student and sat down next to him. "I noticed. Care to share, or is this too personal?"
He gave the man a sidelong look with narrowed eyes. "What do you care? I'm just your bad student, right?"
That made Jiraiya cringe and sigh. "I'll admit that I shouldn't have said that back then. It was uncalled for and unfair to you when you've been trying so hard to get stronger. You were right, though." Turning to look at the Uzumaki, he continued, "I wasn't the best teacher for you. I left you on your own so much because it was how I trained Minato, believe it or not. He was able to get so far on his own that all I really needed to do was point him in the right direction."
"So what, am I supposed to just forgive you for assuming I was some genius ninja like he was? I'm not him, pervert; I've had to struggle at every turn to get to where I am; and even then, it didn't feel like I truly got anywhere."
"I know… I should've noticed right away since I was like you when I was starting out. I always had such trouble learning a new jutsu or skill that I was deemed a loser by many of my peers; especially Tsunade and Orochimaru. When I left you to your own devices, I expected another Minato, but instead I ended up making a second coming of myself before I became a Sannin."
"Gee, thanks," he retorted, voice dripping with sarcasm. "That makes me feel so much better." Naruto took another glance at Jiraiya before looking back down. "What made you think I was gonna be some prodigy ninja, anyway?"
"I thought that since you looked like him, you might have shared that same learning curve; that zeal to succeed in anything you put your mind to."
Naruto could practically taste the bullshit coming from the old pervert. "So, because I looked like him, I was expected to grasp all that you taught me with just a pointer or two?"
"No, it's just…" The Toad Sage sighed heavily before mumbling lowly, "Why couldn't he have been more like you, Minato, instead of his mother?"
Unfortunately, Naruto heard him. "My mother?!" he asked, playing shock. "You knew my mother and you never told me?! What the hell, Jiraiya?!"
The man held up his hands placatingly. "Now listen, I didn't tell you because you weren't ready to know."
He quickly realized that was the wrong thing to say when Naruto, empowered with the Kyuubi's chakra, grabbed the front of his clothes and slammed him against the wall. Glaring at him with furious blood-red orbs, he raged, "Wasn't ready?! Where the fuck do you get off telling me when I am or not ready to learn about my parents?! Who the hell do you think you are?!"
"…Your godfather," he answered after a slight pause.
Naruto bared some fangs as his head lowered and his hair shadowed his eyes. Letting go of the man and taking a few steps back, he growled out, "Get away from me…"
Jiraiya sighed and left in a Body Flicker, arriving at another rooftop with a frown. "That definitely could've gone better…"
Back with Naruto, he had entered his mindscape again and stood in front of the fox. "Damned perverted bastard…"
"I have to say that I didn't expect him to say he was your godfather. I thought the only link he had to you was teaching your father…"
He was pacing the flooded floors as he tried to calm down. "Doesn't anyone think I can handle whatever is connected to me? I bet the old man lied to me too whenever I asked about my parents!" In a spark of anger, he turned to the cage, eyes narrowed on the seal. He moved over to it, gripped the corner, and prepared to pull.
But a hand gripped his wrist and a male voice was heard. "I wouldn't do that, son…"
The statement brought him out of his angered state and he turned to the blonde man grabbing his arm. Recognizing him, he asked, "How are you here, dad?"
Minato smiled to his son and answered, "When I sealed the fox into you, I placed a portion of my chakra as well so that I could show up if you tried to take off the seal too early."
"Well, isn't this nice?" mused the Kyuubi, staring down at the deceased Hokage with a careless expression. "I didn't think you'd be here or that I'd see you again, Fourth."
"I did this for my son, Kyuubi. It's not like I wanted to see you again."
Naruto cut in, "Dad, the fox has actually been helping me a lot in my life. It helped me-"
"Yes, I know. I was able to witness your life from the seal, and I can't tell you how sorry I am that you had to go through all of that. I'm also extremely disappointed in both sensei and Kakashi for not doing more for you when they should have," the man said with a frown. "I'm not here to do anything other than to tell you to be careful with what you're doing. Fūinjutsu is a dangerous art if you're careless, and I don't want to have you die when you still have so much to live for."
"You mean like how you want me to be this Child of Prophecy that you didn't live up to be? I'm not a hero, dad; I'm just Naruto Uzumaki…"
"Yes, you are," he agreed as he placed a hand on the teen's head, ruffling his hair with a warm smile. "But, you're also my son, and I believe in you."
Naruto then felt two arms wrap around him from behind. "We both do, sweetheart," declared a woman's voice, making his eyes widen in shock.
Turning his head, he saw some stunning red hair and whispered in surprise, "Mom…"
She smiled at him and turned him around so that he could face her. "Let me take a look at you," she gushed. "Oh, my baby boy turned out to be so handsome!" She hugged him again and smirked at her husband. "He's much better looking than you were, Girly Boy."
Minato sputtered at the old nickname while Naruto and the Kyuubi both snorted in laughter. "Kushina!"
"Oh, calm down, Minato. You know I'm just teasing you." Stepping back from her son, she continued, "I'm glad to see that you're doing so well with fūinjutsu; even if old Fuzz Butt had to get you started."
"Would you rather I did nothing, woman?" the Bijuu challenged boredly.
"Of course not," she immediately answered. "I just wish he started learning out of interest and not as a last resort to get better. I swear, when that pervert kicks the bucket, I'm gonna kick his ass back to earth just so he can die again, ttebane!"
"…ttebane?" asked Naruto with a chuckle, making her blush in embarrassment. "Thank goodness. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who has a weird verbal tic, ttebayo."
She laughed at his own tic and hugged him again. "At least you got something from me. Although I kinda wish you got my hair…"
"Me too!" he agreed excitedly before tugging some of his blonde locks. "I mean, I like my hair and all; but yours is way cooler! Yours makes you look really pretty, too!"
The woman smiled softly at her son's compliment. "Thank you, Naruto… Did you know that there are three very special words I say only to the men who said they loved my hair?"
"No. What are they?" he asked while Minato smiled and the Kyuubi smirked.
Leaning down, she softly kissed her son on the forehead and said, "I love you…"
Blushing, Naruto gave her a grin that she mirrored while Minato smiled at them.
"As much as I want this moment to last," he began, "I'm afraid that this reunion will be short-lived."
Naruto stepped back from his mother and looked at both his parents with confusion. "What do you mean?"
"What he means is that their chakra is fading. I can feel it filtering out of here as they talk to you."
"But I have so many things to ask them!" Tears began to well up in his eyes as he considered what would be the last, and only, time he would see or speak with his parents.
Smiling sadly, but knowingly, Minato approached Naruto and ruffled his hair. "I know this is hard to accept, son; but, I want you to remember that your mother and I will always be with you. Also, I want to give you something before my chakra fully fades." Placing his hand over the seal on his son's stomach, the trio and the Kyuubi saw an orange flame glow from it and spread to his right arm all the way to his fingertips, leaving black markings all connected as a seal array.
Curious, Naruto asked, "What's this?"
"That, son, is the key to the seal holding back the fox. Since you and it are starting to connect further than your mother was able to," Kushina huffed at her husband pointing out her shortcoming, "I figured you should have that."
"You think I'm ready? I mean… I'm not like you or mom, dad," he said, looking down. "I'm not a genius like you or a badass like mom…"
While she enjoyed being called a badass by her son, Kushina didn't like how critical Naruto was about his own skills. "Naruto, listen to me. Sometimes in life we get knocked down and have to fight our way back up. And sometimes those moments last for a long time; like for you." She crouched down slightly and placed her hands on his shoulders, making him meet her gaze. "But, what makes someone a splendid ninja is not smarts or strength. What makes them splendid is them having the guts to stand up after getting knocked down, and to show the world that they're not to be forgotten. That's why I believe that you are a splendid ninja, sweetheart." She grinned at him. "You're Naruto Uzumaki, remember?"
He smiled back at her through teary eyes as she pulled him into another embrace. However, as mother and son hugged, Naruto's parents began to fade; their bodies slowly becoming transparent to the eye. "Naruto," Minato began, getting his son's attention, "don't ever stop fighting for what you believe in. You carry our wills with you; so, don't ever doubt yourself."
He nodded. "I won't, dad. Thank you for everything. I'll make you guys proud!"
Before he fully disappeared, he was heard saying, "I know you will…"
Kushina kissed her son's temple, pouring all her love into it. "I'll see you again, Naruto; but don't you dare make me see you too early, ttebane!" she warned, trying to sound stern as she fought her own tears.
"I promise," he choked out, not wanting her to leave.
She smiled and finished, "Thank you for being our son, Naruto… I love you…"
She fully faded at that, and Naruto stared at where his parents had once stood with tears running down his face. Smiling, he let them run and said, "I love you guys too…"
"Well, that was awkward," the fox commented jokingly, ruining the moment but still making Naruto chuckle. "So, what will you do now?"
After wiping away his joyful tears, he turned to the Kyuubi and the Bijuu saw determination blazing in his eyes. "Now, I keep training!"
Another month passed after his reunion with his parents and Naruto was finishing up another sealing array that was six feet in diameter. His Affinity Seal had sold for plenty of money to resupply his need for ink and scrolls; considering how it had multiple uses compared to chakra paper. It helped that Gaara, now Kazekage of the Hidden Sand, had offered him a good deal for them.
Jiraiya had dropped Naruto off at the village while he met with a contact somewhere else in the Land of Wind. This was fine for Naruto since he wasn't particularly keen with being around the perverted hermit at all. Some time by himself was definitely needed after so many revelations.
Another thing that had been a success for the Kyuubi Jinchūriki was his book. Titled The Brave and the Bold, it was greatly accepted by many readers and sold out after a week on the shelves. More copies were being made and distributed around the Elemental Nations, and Naruto was happily surprised when Koyuki had sent him a letter congratulating his success.
She even asked if he wanted her to bring it to her director for a possible film adaptation; an offer that he happily accepted.
Right now though, he had just finished the sealing array and was inspecting his work. "Alright, the Transportation Seal seems ready… If this works, we could probably establish better connections with the other Hidden Villages."
"I wouldn't get your hopes up, kid. For one thing, there's a very weak Cease Fire agreement between them, and for another, we don't know if this will work yet."
'Don't be so negative, Kurama!' admonished Naruto to his friend, having learned of the fox's name during the past month. 'You gotta think with the glass half full!'
"Whether it's half full or half empty doesn't matter to me; it's just water in a glass."
'How realist of you. Let's see if you still think that way after this seal works!' challenged the Uzumaki.
"Do you even know where you'll end up when you start up that thing?"
"Not really; but, isn't that what breaking limits is about? Jumping into the unknown and facing it head-on?' Naruto asked before activating the array, not waiting for an answer. Like many seals, it gave off the usual whitish-blue glow to show activation, and Naruto saw a small distortion begin from the array's center.
"Well, I guess it worked after all. Go on then, Mr. Limit-Breaker," Kurama urged, giving the blonde Uzumaki a teasing title.
"Here goes!" Naruto cheered before he boldly stepped into the distortion, finding himself floating through a weightless space of colors before he stumbled out and fell to his knees on a beach.
Looking around, his smile fell for a look of surprise when he saw that he had arrived on an island that had ruined buildings and an atmosphere of loss. Moving off the beach and onto the dirt road leading towards the ruins, he took note of how the vegetation and plant life had overtaken most of the structures, covering them in vines and moss that were sprouting tropical flora.
"What is this place?" he whispered aloud.
"Not sure. I have a guess, but take a better look around before I tell you."
Nodding to his companion, Naruto stepped inside a few of the buildings that had big enough openings. The insides of those buildings were wrecked and damaged, as if the entire location he found himself in was a casualty of war. In one of the buildings, he even found ruined clothes that looked to fit a child, along with a stuffed toy that was scorched and torn.
"This place is so depressing," he muttered somberly, feeling sympathy for whoever may have called this place home. "And the corpses don't really help make it better," he added, carefully stepping around some sets of decaying skeletons.
"Any insignias or signs that can landmark this place?"
"Nothing so far. Was this some sort of island town that was caught in the crossfire of one of the Great Wars?"
"Looks that way. Keep looking around. I'm starting to think that my guess may be right…"
He started getting to what looked like the center of the town or village; an open space that had a massive fountain that was damaged and ruined, yet still bringing out a trickle of water. He saw some wooden carts – most likely for produce – broken and rotting along with even more skeletons; some of them the size of children.
"Is… Is this what war brings; death and misery?" he whispered, feeling his heart clench at the sight of lost life.
"It's to be expected, considering what war is… This is why I rarely trust humans, for they're so quick to judge and turn on their own kind; destroying one another in the process. And most villages have used us Bijuu over the years to help in their destruction."
"I can't blame you for thinking that way… Not after seeing all of this…"
He found himself walking up a set of stone steps that led to a ruined temple; one that had a very familiar symbol on it.
"Hey, isn't that the-?"
"The insignia of the Uzumaki Clan," Kurama finished, sighing afterwards. "So, I was right after all. This place is what's left of the Hidden Whirlpool Village after they were destroyed not long before the Third Great Ninja War. I vaguely remember your mother mourning for the Uzumaki, but I can't recall when she did."
"So… This place was once mom's home?" he asked rhetorically, frowning in growing anger as he kept advancing up the steps and stepped into the temple.
It was a rather spacious place, with stone pillars that held the Uzumaki insignia on them while an altar was seen on the other end. Still frowning, he stepped forward and approached the altar before stopping when he saw the insignias lighting up red as he got closer.
"Defensive measures. Most likely for any would-be thieves out to steal secrets of your clan."
"Am I in danger?"
"You understand seals better than I do," Kurama grumbled back. "But, if I had to guess, I'd say that you being an Uzumaki will keep you safe. If not, then it wasn't meant to be."
"Very helpful, Kurama…" deadpanned the blonde before he took hesitant steps forward, watching carefully as the insignias kept their red glows. He swallowed nervously and kept walking, watching as the red glows flashed twice before changing to a calm blue. "That looks promising," he mused aloud, taking more confident steps toward the altar.
None of the traps or seals were triggered as he neared it, and he had a relieved smile on his face when he was able to step up to the altar and look down at the sealing inscription etched atop it. He hummed thoughtfully as he looked it over, studying the illustrations and markings while smiling at the familiar swirl acting as the base of the seal.
"Looks like it's a key of some sort," he noted, placing his right palm atop the seal and pushing chakra into it. His chakra linked to the seal, and he slowly turned his hand counterclockwise while feeling the flow of his chakra increase and move passed some sort of blockage.
The seals on the pillars lit up once more, this time glowing pure white before they all sunk into the ground and the center of the temple's floor sunk in on itself and formed into a set of descending stairs. Grinning at his find, Naruto moved over to the new passage and made his way down, excitement fueling him.
As he descended into the darkness, more seals activated and began to provide light to guide him. At the bottom of the steps, he saw another altar; only, this one had a massive scroll with his clan insignia proudly emblazoned on it. In front of that altar was a wall of white fire with violet tips and embers. Blue eyes narrowed at the flames, and Naruto approached the fire determinedly.
The flames reacted to his presence, engorging themselves and forming into a vague dragon shape that roared at him before lunging. Naruto stood his ground, unafraid of the fiery dragon's head that raced towards him before changing trajectory and coiling around him. The whites of the dragon's "eyes" stared into his fearless azure orbs, the stare down lasting for a few seconds before the fire receded and moved to the many torches within the chamber.
A pleased smile formed on his face as he approached the scroll, removing it from the altar before pulling out a smaller one to seal it into. With his clan's obvious treasure safely stored and clipped to his belt, Naruto returned to the surface and reclosed the stairway before leaving the temple; making sure to bow to the altar's key and offer a silent prayer for his lost ancestors.
He began to descend the steps leading away from the temple, but a strange object that was seen halfway buried on a different patch of beachline caught his eye. Curious at what it could possibly be, he leapt away from the temple and jumped across some of the ruins to cut through the island and land near the object.
It was rather large, and oddly shaped, with damaged fins that appeared to be made of a strange metal. A large gash was seen on the side; big enough for him to leap through. This was something he did without thought, landing inside of the odd structure and seeing how the inside outclassed the outside in oddness.
For starters, the inside was made of another strange metal, and there were screens that looked like television monitors. Connecting to those monitors were tubes that had small slots giving off flickering lights at random intervals.
"Okay… So, on a scale of 1 to 10 on the Weirdness Scale, I'm giving this place a solid 9."
"Oh, the irony…" Kurama deadpanned.
Chuckling at his tenant's response, Naruto made his way down the corridor and marveled at how the doors before him opened on their; even if some of them struggled to do so because of the damage. When he reached what he hoped to be the core of the structure, he blinked at the circular chamber that held human-sized tubes filled with unconscious people in strange blue-green liquid.
"Uh… Probably better crank that score up to 11…" he muttered as he stepped further into the chamber and saw how each of the tubes held a number above them. Curious, he formed a couple of clones and had them do a count of just how many people were resting in this place. After a couple minutes, they returned.
"Looks like there are one hundred and eight of these tubes in this place, Boss," one of them said.
"The really weird thing, though," the other added, "was how a few of them seemed to shift in their sleep when we got close."
"Shift?" he repeated.
"It'd be better if you saw for yourself," they both answered before dispelling and giving Naruto the memories.
Taking a moment to adjust to the mental input, he turned to the tube marked "#01" and approached it. Inside, floating in the liquid, was a resting woman who looked human. He fought a blush at her nude form, silently admiring her stunning figure and flowing hair that looked like it could've been purple; though it was hard to tell because of the blue-green liquid.
Hesitantly, he placed his hand on the glass of the tube and gasped softly in surprise when he saw her brows twitch faintly. They furrowed sporadically before relaxing, and he saw her eyes clench for a brief moment before they slowly opened. When she raised her head and met his gaze, he found himself utterly breathless at her beauty, keeping his hand pressed against the glass.
Slowly, he saw her raise her own hand and press it against the glass on her side, and for some reason, he felt his heart begin to race. Her eyes stayed on him for a few more moments before they closed once again, and Naruto instinctively stepped back when he felt a large buildup of foreign energy that spiked when her eyes shot open once more.
In a burst of pure force, the glass containing her shattered, spilling the liquid she floated in onto the floor of the chamber as she fell forward. He was quick to move in and catch her in his arms before she fell, taking a knee as he held her up and gazed down at her.
She coughed out any liquid stuck in her lungs before opening her eyes and locking them with his once again. With the faintest coloring of pink on her cheeks, she slowly raised a hand up to rest against his cheek and brought their faces closer.
With a breathless whisper, she smiled softly and declared to him, "Ashikabi," before gently melding her lips with his, stunning him with a kiss while bright energy erupted from her back, taking the form of massive purple wings.
He was taken aback by the feel of his first genuine kiss, and Naruto couldn't help but return it as he held the mystery woman close to him. All the while, he was unaware that nine other sleeping figures had started shifting in their own tanks.
Tada! Here's the first chapter of my idea; posted on Valentine's Day, no less!
I figured that the Day of Love was a fitting time to post this, considering how the Sekirei are so set on finding their Ashikabi; those who they love.
I already have Naruto's ten Sekirei decided! No requests or suggestions will be accepted!
Hope you guys liked the chapter and are excited for more!
Until next time!