In the middle of a clearing in Training Grounds 45, a pair of intense grunts and growls and could be heard from the two women currently occupying it. The noises of attacks landing or being blocked by human skin served as the percussion to the harmonizing sounds of fighting, and if you listen closely, you could hear the subtle 'wooshing' sounds of air being cut due to the quick movements of their arms and legs. Two elite Jounin having an intense sparring session could serve as entertainment for most people, however, nobody else was around to witness the way Anko and Kurenai were gracefully, but fiercely, combatting each other.
Well, there actually was one person around. And they were definitely captivated by the fight enough to simply watch on from a distance.
Anko Mitarashi gritted her teeth as she ducked under a running jump kick aimed for her temple before sidestepping and launching two quick jabs to Kurenai's chin before she could land and block. Kurenai stumbled back a step as a result, but kept enough footing to follow up with a steel-hard kick to the side of Anko's ribcage, rocking her core.
"Tch!" Anko winced from the pain; she really felt that one. It showed in her form as the attack caused her to lower her hands, giving Kurenai enough time to land a good hook to the cheek. Anko knelt as she was almost sent to the ground, but got right back up to avoid another follow-up attack.
As Anko was forced back onto the defensive side, she wondered how Kurenai was doing so well in this fight when she'd usually have to take it easy on her best friend to make things fair. As a genjutsu specialist, taijutsu has never really been Kurenai's strongest point in battle like it is for people like Asuma or Gai. Had this been a normal day, Anko would be wiping the floor with her by this point just to finish the job. But now? Anko wasn't sure if her assessment of time was correct, but she was sure that they'd been at it for over an hour.
The thing that made it surprising to Anko was that after about a good twenty minutes of sparring, if it'd even last that long, Anko would get more and more into the fight to the point where she'd get serious and go all in for the win as soon as possible. She didn't enjoy long and drawn-out fights and was eventually impatient to see who'd be the winner or loser. She could still remember Orochimaru pointing it out as a flaw to her fighting technique and hated that their most recent encounter had fallen under similar guidelines.
With that aside, when you consider the fact that they were an hour into fighting at this point, it's safe to assume that Anko's will to win was the only real thing guiding her movements, blocking and dodging incoming attacks while she waited for an opening. Truth was, however, that she was running out of steam. And that last kick REALLY hurt.
Kurenai, on the other hand, had taken quite a beating towards the beginning, which was normal in most cases when it came to them. However, Anko could recall the look in Kurenai's eyes changing when Anko had made the decision to taunt her 'playfully' with a quick-witted snappy remark about her current love life situation... Anko couldn't even remember what the joke was about anymore, as she'd taken a good amount of blows to the head since then.
From that point on, the tide of the fight was evenly matched as both contenders fought with a ferocity that only friends could bring forth. Both women had landed some good hits on each other, as they were both sure they'd see some pretty gnarly bruises all over the next morning. They were even glowing with sweat over their skin, had frazzled hair, and were breathing quite heavily with each movement they made. But for the time being, it didn't seem like either cared; Kurenai wanted to kick Anko's ass, and Anko wanted to win.
After blocking two consecutive kicks from Kurenai, Anko managed to grasp her ankle on the third kick with one hand at just the right moment, then quickly stepping in to land a clean and fully thrust four-knuckled punch to the center of her friend's face with the other hand.
This attack had been enough to send Kurenai onto the ground on her back, groaning as she held her face with both hands. Anko huffed as she used this time to calm her adrenaline and recover herself, up until she noticed that Kurenai wasn't getting back up. She was squirming and groaning on the ground, still covering her face with her hands.
"You... okay, Kurenai?" Anko asked, still attempting to catch her breath. This was the first time either woman had said anything to each other since the first portion of the fight.
Kurenai's response was non-verbal as she grunted and got back to her feet, ready to find a way to pay her back. Anko lifted her hands with open palms, however, as her eyes were focused on a certain spot on Kurenai's face.
"Whoa, Kurenai, your lip... and nose." Anko stated. Kurenai managed to register her words as she then put her hands to her mouth to find blood on her fingertips. She could also already feel the nosebleed dripping to her top lip.
"You had your face open, sorry." Was Anko's hasty apology as she held her side, "But to be fair, you may have just given me a bit of internal bleeding yourself..."
Kurenai, now being hit with the sobering taste of blood in her mouth, winced at Anko. There was a small opening on the left side of Kurenai's slightly swollen bottom lip, causing a stream of blood to reach down to her chin. There were also some bruises and scratches in varying parts of her face, but none of those areas were bleeding or miscolored too bad. Nevertheless, Kurenai never dropped her fighting position.
"I didn't hit you that hard." Kurenai scoffed.
"Oh... that's where you're wrong, my friend, because I felt something crack with that last kick of yours to my side." Anko complained with a pained expression on her face, "You've been hitting a lot harder than you think, actually."
"Really?" Kurenai asked, "Why haven't you said anything?"
"Because I'm competitive and wanted to hit you back... even harder." Anko then fell to one knee, holding her side as she began straining while she chuckled, "Ow... it actually hurts to laugh."
Kurenai looked off as she couldn't recall getting this intense about sparring before. Anko always provided as a good sparring partner, but Kurenai was used to losing to her since she knew taijutsu wasn't as much of a strong suit for her. However, she was set on making sure Anko felt whatever frustration that Kurenai had been consciously and subconsciously dealing with recently after Anko had made the mistake of saying what she said. Kurenai couldn't exactly remember what it was either, but she could recall the term 'slut' being used. After that point, Kurenai saw red.
Luckily, a common sparring rule passed on within their generation and younger was that drawing blood or a bone cracking was a good sign to stop unless otherwise agreed upon.
"I guess I was really into it today..." Kurenai said, now a bit embarrassed.
"I'll say. If this is the same energy you use to screw Naruto, then it's no wonder you can't keep him from between your legs."
Kurenai leered at Anko, who was grimacing and huffing as she taunted her yet again, even while visibly in pain. Even after punishing Anko for it, she just kept on poking at her. However, Kurenai couldn't help but laugh as this was part of the package when it came to their friendship. What started out as a bitter rivalry at a young age (mostly due to Anko) during their genin days eventually blossomed into a strong, honest (if somewhat brutal), and caring connection that only these two unique kunoichi with their own individual backgrounds could have with each other.
Anko grinned as she saw her friends smile, which in turn made Kurenai stop smiling.
"You love me." Anko teased.
"Shut up." Kurenai responded with an eye roll as she checked her lip to find it still leaking. She was going to need to ice it for the swelling, as the area started to feel warm to the touch. Blood even started dripping down her chin, and it was starting to sting a bit.
"Well, you put in some good effort, but I guess I won this one." Anko declared, raising a fist in the air. Kurenai raised an eyebrow.
"Are you crazy? I was winning."
"Not until I popped you right in your pretty little mouth you weren't." Anko retorted, crossing her arms.
"It was a cheap shot."
"Exactly what is cheap about your face being open? I remember you trying to ring my bell with a kick before you chose to rupture my ribcage instead." Was the Tokubetsu Jounin's flat response.
"Alright, alright, I'm sorry." Kurenai sighed, "You're the one who makes me do these things to you, you know."
"I know. I'm a glutton for punishment, what can I say? But you love me anyway and that's part of the reason why I love you, too." Anko flashed a big grin before having a small coughing fit, and then spitting out a small wad of blood. Kurenai watched and started feeling a bit more concerned.
"...We should probably get you to a hospital."
The Hokage of the entire village of Konohagakure was currently under a very long and silent sense of pressure, as she started wondering if she could have reserved her last move for a better time. The air was heavy as Naruto simply stood there as if literally replaying his past memories internally while she simply had to just... wait. She admitted to herself that maybe, just maybe, this was more of a risky move than she had originally thought at the moment... but considering Naruto's inquiry about what else she may know, she decided to simply come clean about some things as he did, as she did feel a small tinge of guilt for spying on him without his knowledge.
However, she's the damned Hokage! She was sure the Third would be rolling in his grave if this ended up being a mistake, but... hopefully he would just understand why she was led by the importance of honesty and transparency within close bonds.
She soon started wondering if maybe this would be a good thing. Naruto is older now, is shaping into a fine shinobi, and has more potential to be one of the greatest shinobi Konoha has ever seen than any boy she knew. Considering his bloodline, and how rich it is with strong and powerful DNA, some of which she has within herself, this could actually really be something Naruto deserves to know considering... his last mission.
But maybe telling him right this second wasn't the wisest of moves... She could have at least planned this on a weekend, and not a Tuesday evening.
She could see Naruto's facial muscles shifting through different emotions and feelings while digesting this information.
"If you need to sit down, Naruto, please do." Tsunade said with genuine concern. Now that she thought about it, learning something like this so suddenly might just make him faint.
However... suddenly, he just started chuckling. It started out low enough to where Tsunade almost couldn't hear up until it turned into full-blown laughter.
Tsunade narrowed her eyes. Just what the hell was he laughing at?
"Just what the hell are you laughing at?!" Tsunade demanded.
Naruto couldn't help but continue his laughing fit as he actually took Tsunade's recommendation of taking a seat, while the chuckling progressed. The Sannin could do nothing else but just sit across from him, wondering if he just wasn't taking her seriously.
"Sorry." Naruto apologized, attempting to regain control of himself, "Really, I am. It's just..." Naruto's smile slowly slid into a frown, "I really hope that what you said is some sort of cruel joke."
"It's the truth." Tsunade reaffirmed, feeling empathy for him. Having never known or even seen his parents, or even to know who they are, and then hearing that his father was the Yondaime? Even she couldn't get an idea as to what was going on in his head.
Naruto continued sitting there, fixated on Tsunade's face as to find out if she's pulling something, but she looked him in his eyes the entire time. She was being truthful.
As Naruto sat with this realization setting in, he did feel many things at once, and from a broad spectrum of emotions.
"Why would you think I'd joke about that?" She asked. Naruto closed his eyes.
"Because considering the things that I've went through in my life... it just sounds like a sick joke. One created between you and Kyuubi."
Tsunade raised an eyebrow, "Me and Kyuubi?"
Naruto pinched the bridge between his brows, "Yeah, because... I don't talk about this often with people but I communicate with the Kyuubi sometimes. And I don't know if you've met them, but they have a really sick sense of humor."
This was all news to Tsunade, as her first instinct was to ask if Jiraiya knew about this.
"What would it say to you?" Asked Tsunade, "And why did you refer to it as 'them' and 'they'?"
Naruto's gaze shifted as he could remember their most recent encounter enough to almost relive it, "They told me to imagine that the purpose of my birth was to serve as a host for them until the day comes where they kill me and everyone I love when they get free to destroy Konoha as a whole. They said that I was destined to be the rebirth of this village's 'condemnation'."
Tsunade sat there, intrigued and captivated by this news. She soon started feeling as though they should have just told him a long time ago at this point; Naruto doesn't deserve emotional torment from the same being that caused many other forms of distress in his life.
"And I'm saying 'they' because they have different forms. One is a giant male fox and the other is a tall, slender, creepy-looking woman with foxtails, so sometimes I say he and she, too... Kyuubi mentioned how they actually have more forms, but were limited by the seal."
"I see." Tsunade hummed, "Well, 'they' are most certainly wrong about what they told you. You are the hero of this village that stopped the Kyuubi from destroying it in the first place."
Naruto sat there unresponsive for a bit, "I remember when Ero-Sennin told me about the Fourth Hokage sealing the spirit in me... when I asked him why me of all people, all he said was that he didn't know. I also remember when Iruka-sensei explained to me more in detail about the night of the Kyuubi attack... and how the Kyuubi was responsible for the death of his parents. So it's just already been a lot for me to process... let alone what you're telling me now."
Tsunade watched as he started putting some more pieces together in his head. Despite how she may feel about her timing, all she can say was that she was glad she was here for him as he found out his truth.
"Naruto, your birth has such a substantial purpose and both of your parents were some of the finest shinobi that I've ever known. You were born on the day of the Kyuubi attack and both your parents did everything they could to protect you and this village by sacrificing their own lives and sealing half of the fox spirit's energy away, and the other half in you. Had it not been for you, Konoha may not be standing to this day."
The young Uzumaki shifted in his seat as he processed more of Tsunade's words. So many thoughts and feelings swam through his mind and heart on a level he wasn't able to comprehend.
"Even if that's true, the villagers in this village have always looked at me like I really was the Kyuubi's incarnate... I think I even started to believe it myself sometimes. If I'm the Fourth Hokage's son, shouldn't they have been... I don't know, a little bit nicer to me?"
Just as Tsunade was about to answer that question, a sudden idea came to mind. She simply smiled and started heading for her office door.
"Come." Godiame stated, deciding to put her Hokage duties on hold just this once, "Let me take you out for lunch. I'm sure you must have a lot more questions than that."
As the two half-beaten kunoichi continued to limp together arm in arm down the forestry pathways back to the village, both women jumped when a shadowy figure landed in front of them from above. It didn't take long for the two to recognize the neko-styled ANBU Black Ops mask.
"Shit, Yugao." Anko cursed, then sighed putting a hand over her chest, "My damn heart."
"Sorry." She replied, de-masking herself to reveal her face, "I thought you might have sensed me a while ago."
"Yeah, well my senses aren't at their best at the moment, thanks to this one here." Anko responded, facially gesturing to the woman holding her.
"Don't pin this on me." Kurenai quickly scoffed, "You're the one who wanted to spar."
Yugao grinned and placed a hand on her hip, "Yes, I saw your fight. It was definitely a good one."
"Ah, you must've been tracking us for a while then, huh?" Anko quipped, trying not to remark at just how sneaky her "friend" was. Even at a younger age, Yugao was one of the only shinobi she knew that could successfully creep on her without her knowledge. Anko's senses were great, but Yugao's was just... stronger. Anko knew that her own was more about precision than range and Yugao's was the opposite. For this reason, Anko was always a bit jealous of her for this, but that's not something she'd ever say out loud, much less TO someone. For that reason, there was an unspoken rivalry between them, despite how the three kunoichi effectively functions well as friends.
But Anko and Yugao both knew. Even Kurenai could pick up on the small bit of tension as Yugao intentionally didn't answer right away. She just stood there for a few seconds, smirking.
"Guess so." Was Yugao's simple response, "For the record, I agree with you. You won that one."
"Knew it!" Anko cheered before painfully regretting her sudden movements, "Ow, ow, ow..."
"Here." Yugao said, walking up to the woman wearing a trench coat and placing her other arm around her shoulders. Now Anko had the support of Yugao at her left and Kurenai at her right.
"Aww, such good friends." Anko gushed, as they began walking to their destination, Konoha General Hospital. Anko's comment made Kurenai smile, grateful that she had a reliable support system of comrades.
"Yes, yes, we all get along swimmingly." Yugao said, "However... we have to talk."
Kurenai turned her head to look at Yugao, to find her already staring at her. It was something that made Kurenai shiver, as she knew Yugao could see right through her, pretty much whenever she wants. And now was one of those times.
Just as Kurenai began to wonder if she knew about... him, Yugao nodded, as if literally reading her thoughts.
"Yes, I know." She said, confirming the beginning of a potential nightmare for Kurenai. Anko's eyes widened, looking back and forth between her two friends who suddenly got quiet.
"Know what?" Anko baited for more information.
Yugao's calm but steady gaze shifted to Anko, "You know, too, apparently."
It didn't take long for Anko to figure out what she meant.
"Oooohhhhh, you mean about Kurenai and her wild stallion?! You know, too?!" Anko's energy levels started increasing the more she began talking about it, "Man, that's honestly been something I've wanted to dish about since I found out! I never would have thought-!"
Anko suddenly found herself entrapped in a tight headlock.
"Shut the hell up!" Kurenai shushed aggressively, tightening her arm around her friend's neck, "Tell the whole damn village, why don't you?!"
"Relax, relax." Said Yugao calmly, "There's no one around us within 5 kilometers. It's just us."
Kurenai released Anko making her drop to the floor dramatically. Yugao shook her head and helped her back to her feet, all while Anko rubbed her throat and stared daggers at Kurenai.
"You're kinda abusive, ya know."
"And you're kinda a pain in the ass." Was Kurenai's exasperated response, "So it turns out that you BOTH were creeping about what goes on in my private life?"
"To my own defense, I was placed in charge of monitoring Naruto ever since his last mission. It was the Hokage's orders." Yugao stated. As much as that took off a lot of the creepier side of Yugao's actions, it triggered the thoughts of a horrifyingly possible realization.
But again, as if scanning her thoughts and internal emotions, Yugao shook her head this time.
"Don't worry. I didn't tell the Hokage about your affairs." Yugao assured, "I figured for the sake of our friendship, certain details could be omitted."
Kurenai clutched at her chest at what a relief that was. Finding out that Yugao knew about her and Naruto was enough, but discovering that the HOKAGE of all people could have known might just do her in. The sense of relief that came was something that made Kurenai immediately whisper a quick prayer of gratitude to Kami under her breath.
However, just as Kurenai was about to thank Yugao, she noticed a small detail about her most recent statement that kept replaying in her head.
"What do you mean, 'affairs'?!" Asked Kurenai, clearly offended, "Asuma broke up with me before I... slept with Naruto. And why say it plural, as if it's not just him?!"
Yugao simply shrugged, as she wasn't really there to know much about the breakup, "Well, okay, if you say so. And I only said 'affairs' because I know it's been a... consistent series of events, is all."
"Oh, God." Kurenai sighed, wanting to just crawl in a hole and be forgotten about. How could it be possible that just about a week ago, her days were becoming a bit dull and uninteresting until that big fight with Asuma... from then on, she had gotten entirely too inebriated at a bar, slept with Naruto more than a few times, discovered Anko peeping on her, found out one of her students could have caught on to what was happening, burned Naruto with tea, slept with Naruto again, and was now finding out that Yugao knew the entire thing, while covering up these events from the Hokage off just the sheer grounds of their friendship.
Oh, also not to mention the pain of a miscarriage, to top it all off. But neither of her friends knew about that. She didn't want to hide it from them, but they didn't know about the pregnancy to begin with. It'd be too much to explain right now.
To say that drama can find you when you least expect it would be an understatement to Kurenai. It was certainly already a wild week for her emotionally, just as she was ready to make 'small changes' to her life.
"I... think I need to sit down for a second." Kurenai mumbled, plopping herself on the ground. Yugao and Anko stopped walking and looked back at her with empathy.
"Hey, we're here for you, Nai-chan." Said Anko cheerfully, "We love you. And know that your secret is safe with us."
"That's right." Yugao agreed, "I can get in a lot of trouble for not telling the Hokage. This just goes to show how much I trust you guys." She stated. Kurenai knew that was no exaggeration either, Yugao was extremely serious about her responsibilities as an ANBU captain and was never afraid to lose friendships at the expense of her being a trustworthy kunoichi to the Hokage, a woman she respected very much. So it spoke volumes that she'd cast aside her principles for her.
"Thank you, Yugao. Really, it means a lot that we're this close." She said earnestly.
"Aaanndddd what about me, hmm? I haven't told anyone, either!" Anko inquired, wanting a little stroke to her own ego. Kurenai simply glared at her.
"You can go choke. Pervert."
"Ouch, that one hurt, Kurenai." Anko murmured dramatically, before pointing at the other violet-haired kunoichi, "If I'm a perv, then so is she."
Yugao sent Anko a quizzical expression for being targetted, "I wasn't the one getting off on it."
"I-I wasn't getting off on it!" Anko quickly (lied) defended, "I was just-!
"But you were. You even said so yourself, sicko." Kurenai said with the flattest of expressions. Anko grumbled something under her breath that she wisely chose not to vocalize, seeing as it would most likely spark yet another altercation. Anko just didn't have any more spirit in her to back that up, fortunately. Kurenai broke her down pretty nicely.
"All judgments aside, there's a reason I'm telling you this, though, Kurenai." Yugao decided to get back on track, earning her attention, "I feel for you, and I know that I can't really influence your personal decisions in your private life, but as someone who cares for your well-being and reputation... I think that you should tell the Hokage."
"P-Pardon?!" Kurenai sputtered incredulously, "Why on earth would I do that?!"
Yugao sighed, as if knowing that this would be one of the more... intricate details of this debacle. Anko was pretty amused by this turn of events, silently wishing she had popcorn or something as she continued to spectate.
"Well, I don't mean to be crass here, but... I do know that you've been omitting the use of protection with him." She said as indirectly as she could, hoping she would see where she was going with this.
Kurenai narrowed her eyes, wondering just how her 'sensory' abilities would pick that up, if that's how she found out... She was beginning to think Anko might actually have been right about Yugao...
"Yeah, ol' blonde boy has been filling her up like a stuffed pastry." Was Anko's crass simile, earning a dark look from Kurenai.
"Anko, just sh-!" Kurenai pulled herself back and sighed before she allowed herself to be overcome by the distraction of her chaotic friend, "What's your point, Yugao?"
"My point is, aren't you the slightest bit concerned you'll get pregnant? With Naruto's child? " The off-duty ANBU member asked. Kurenai didn't respond momentarily.
"I have my birth control jutsu active." She simply stated. Anko narrowed her eyes, as she could tell something wasn't right about that response.
Yugao shook her head, as if expecting her to say that, "You know it's not 100% effective. It's not even 70% effective, for some people. And by that statistic, considering how much you let him..." Yugao intentionally let that trail off with a murmur, "You might possibly still get pregnant."
"Man..." Anko did some internal algebra and whispered to herself, though the other two parties could hear her, "Just how much did you guys do it?"
Kurenai was ashamed that she didn't even know the exact answer to that question. She knew it wasn't in the double digits, but knew it was more than five. Nevertheless, Anko didn't expect a response anyway as she tapped her chin.
"Plus, he's probably really fertile... A barely legal young man such as himself doesn't really strike me as someone who 'lacks life', if you catch my drift."
Kurenai had tuned her friend out due to the torment of her rising internal sense of shame. However, that shame paled in comparison to the realization that the only way to get these two to shut up about pregnancy was to tell them the ugly truth about why she wasn't worried about getting pregnant, which was something she was ultimately trying to avoid.
"O-Okay... the truth is..."
Kurenai couldn't even finish the sentence as she quickly felt ashamed that she primarily decided to deflect the truth just moments after sharing a heartfelt moment of trust between her two closest friends. It all cumulatively became a bit too much for her as she buried her hands in her bruised and injured face and began softly sobbing. Anko and Yugao both looked at each other with concern and, despite their confusion, knelt on either side of Kurenai, offering her their comforting love and support.