Well... It's been a while :)

First, I want to thank you all for your supports and reaching out and asking if everything is going well. I appreciate your concerns and taking the time to message me. Thank you.

Second, and VERY IMPORTANT... I changed the explanation behind the Adamantine Chains. That's in chapter 35, when he's talking to his mom; and chapter 40 when he's explaining it to Karin. I do bring up the Adamantine chains in this chapter, so it will be a confusing read if you haven't read the changes I made in those chapters. And I do apologize about that. I just had a really good idea and since I didn't talk about the chains much(nor was he training to get them yet) I thought it would be fine. Remember, chapter 35 when Kushina tells Naruto how to get them. And chapter 40, when Naruto tells Karin about the Sealing Chains. Thanks.

Fat chapter: 21.2K words.


Tsunade asked the quiet Naruto, "Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

Suddenly, Naruto looked up, recalling where he was and what had just transpired. He vocalized his curiosity with a puzzled, "Mnn?"

Kurenai, Hinata, Temari, Ino, and Naruto had all made the unconventional decision to marry at the same time, planning two ceremonies: an official one within two weeks and another public celebration months later. Tsunade, however, did not approve. Not because the newly appointed Hokage didn't want them married, but because she didn't want them to rush into anything they would regret, which was a likely outcome, given the polyamorous nature of their relationship. Rather than flat out rejection, Tsunade devised a diplomatic solution to all of their problems without giving them what they wanted.

His prospective wives eyed him expectantly for a response. Tsunade, with brow raised, repeated, "Is waiting until the appropriate date a problem for you?"

The blond only took a second to consider why it would even matter, before he casually replied, "Oh, no. That's fine by me. I'm just surprised, is all. I didn't think you'd be so good at this, Baachan."

Tsunade scoffed, a wry smile playing on her lips as she reminded the young Chūnin, "Tch! Of course, I am. I've led teams, entire hospitals, and even my clan for a time. A leader is a leader despite the size of their followers."

Beaming at her impressive assertion, Naruto cooed, "Cooooool!"

Tsunade eyed Naruto more closely as she asked, "So, you're accepting of my decision?"

"You mean about waiting? Oh, yeah, no doubt," he easily responded with a shrug, confounding many in the room.

It appeared as if the prospective wives were trying to prove themselves—their love for Naruto and a life with him—to their new Hokage, but Naruto's response seemed to indicate that didn't matter. As he continued speaking, his words expressed a deeper understanding and reasoning behind his lack of interest in their setback.

"Time isn't going to change the way I feel about them," Naruto stated with an almost casual conviction. "So what if we have to wait a week or a year? All I care about is loving them every single day with everything I got. Hell, I'll only love them more by then, now that I think about it. So, the rest is whatever."

Kurenai, Ino, Temari, and Hinata either smiled or restrained their grins, once again reminded of their unorthodox fiancé.

Undeterred, Tsunade continued testing his resolve, asking, "And the Raikage?"

"What about him?" He replied with an air of indifference, as if the leader and strongest shinobi of Kumo didn't factor in. "I never cared what the Raikage—or anyone—thought of us to begin with. Our marriage has nothing to do with anyone but us! That's it!"

That made Tsunade snort a little in disbelief, before nodding and telling them, "Fine. I'll be announcing the details of your engagement after your Clan Restoration ceremony. It'll help the teams assigned to accompany you to Kumo understand what's at stake."

"Who'll be leading the party?" Kurenai inquired.

"Kakashi," the blonde Senju replied. "Should I assume you all want to go?"

"Hai, Hokage-sama!" came the unanimous response from the girls.

"Of course," Tsunade conceded with a sigh. "I'll discuss it with Kakashi. Until then, try to stay out of trouble."


After being dismissed, Naruto, Kurenai, Ino, Hinata, and Temari proceeded to Uzushio Suites. Strolling past outdoor stands with the scent of delicious food wafting in the air, they discussed whether they were technically married or not. While the marriage contract hadn't been filed, it wasn't as if they could do any more to officially be married. They were stuck between calling each other husband and wife, or fiancé and fiancée.

Temari suggested they refer to each other as fiancé until the wedding ceremony, reasoning, "Being married entails moving in and living with your husband. It wouldn't look good to both of our villages if they learned we moved in before being publicly recognized as a Uzumaki."

Though they all agreed with the idea, Naruto felt like something wasn't right—a missing piece. They all just signed the marriage contract, but they're still not married. Naruto was sure there was something more he could do to help them feel more together—to let them know they were in his heart. As they were passing the many outdoor stands, the idea of what to do struck Naruto like a ton of bricks.

Kurenai offered the Suna princess, "Until then, why don't you stay with me?"

Temari turned to the beautiful Jōnin, and at the sincerity in her red eyes, she happily agreed.

"And your brothers can stay with me!" Naruto added reassuringly.

When they reached Naruto's apartment complex, Naruto made an army of clones to help Karin with the preparation for their Welcome Ceremony. The six-story apartment complex was nearly ready for its grand opening, with most of the room and business spaces filled. Aside from Uzu-Fūin's office, Ten-Ten's weapons shop, Teuchi-jichan's ramen stand—which would be run by Ayame-neesan—they also secured a large grocery shop, a beauty shop, and a sundry store.

Aside from undertaking the Fūinjutsu security for the entire building's residents and business, Naruto was also personally motivated to pick up as much trash around the neighborhood as he could. He couldn't get all of it, but everyday, it would be five percent cleaner. He'd also spend time washing graffiti off walls—anything to help rejuvenate Wood district.

After creating an army of clones, the group entered his newly expanded and remodeled home. The expansive space wasn't as plain as it used to be. They now had simple amenities like couches, chairs, and a long dining table in the dining room. Each of the bedrooms had comfortable beds, dressers, desks, and night stands. Jiraiya insisted on a mammoth Earth King-sized bed for Naruto's room that easily had the space for five people to sleep comfortably in.

For the moment, none of his fiancées were living with him, but Temari visited every day. Though she was still Sunagakure's official liason, she wasn't a member of Konoha's military, thus had less to do than the others. She mostly helped Karin with the running of their home and business, and truly turning it into a home.

They all settled in at the kitchen table, but when they were finally alone, a moment of silence lingered. Naruto wasn't sure if they wanted to do something with him, or if he should do something with them, and if so, would it be all together, or separate?

'Would I have to use clones?' he wondered. 'Do they have a problem with clones?'

Noticing the girls giggling, Naruto realized they were observing him.

"You don't have to try so hard, Naruto," said Ino gently. "During our dinners, we created a workable shorthand for dealing with our marital network's wants and needs."

"Really?" he asked, looking at each of them. "Like what?"

Kurenai explained, "We ultimately wanted a system that includes schedule, but can also be flexible to accommodate our other responsibilities."

"We already have communal times—when we're all together like this—meal times, training or other special events," Ino elaborated. "Then we have individual times—dates and intimate moments, mostly, but also, miscellaneous stuff like an event for something only one of us is interested in."

Temari added, "We're still tweaking it to best suit our needs, but as it stands, every day, we each get three communal time points and one individual time point, which roll over to the following day's points. For every communal activity we do—like Ino said, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or training—we subtract a point. If we have one-on-one time with you that day, we subtract that point as well. If in two days, one of us accumulated let's say, six communal and two individual, then we pay more attention to her needs or situation."

"For example, any of us could be on a mission," Kurenai noted. "So, obviously they wouldn't be around to spend their points."

Beginning to grasp the idea, Naruto asked, "What if one of you is around, but has nine or twelve points? Wouldn't that mean I haven't seen her for days, even though she's around?"

Thoughtfully, Temari answered with care, "We could, of course, talk to her—attempt to help as best we can—but, honestly, we came to the conclusion that the best solution to that situation would be if you talked to her—to see what could be wrong. You're our husband—the center of this family. It'll mean more coming from you."

At her sincere words, Naruto couldn't help but let a wide, irrepressible smile spread across his face, near to the point of making his cheeks hurt. Most of the time, he could retain control of his emotions, but every time the realization that he finally has loved ones sinks in, an overflow of joy surges intensely through him, and can't help but shy away. Perceptive of their blond bundle of energy as ever, the girls noticed why he shifted his gaze away. Their smiles are full of empathy and caring, reflecting not just their love but their support as well.

After a moment, he roughly wipes away at his moist eyes before grinning broadly at them and asking, "You were saying?"

Smiling lovingly at him, Kurenai added, "If you'd like any of us to help talk with whoever of us it might be upset about something, we can do that too. This system is more like a guideline than a hard rule. We can even forgo our day's points, if, for example, one of us has already spent a lot of time with you, and wants to be considerate of the others. She can give up her individual point, communal, or all."

"Wow, all of that sounds great," Naruto responded enthusiastically.

Hinata chimed in, shyly, "Ano, if it's ever too much, y-you have to tell us. I mean, I'm sure you'd like your own private time as well."

"Are you kidding?" Naruto returned. "I've spent enough time by myself for a lifetime. If I can see you all every single day, I say bring it on! It would… just be… the greatest thing."

Standing up, Ino walked around the table and hugged Naruto from behind, whispering, "Soon."

Gathering her courage, Hinata stood up and made her way to her husband. Though blushing tremendously, she wrapped her arms around him as well. Naruto returned her hug, and after ten seconds, Hinata passed out.

At the sight of Naruto laying the beautiful Hyūga down on the couch, Temari remarked with a hint of concern, "When you two finally consummate the marriage, I think we should have a medic on standby."


The room that was once Danzō's realm now hosted Tsunade and Itachi. It was an expansive and stately space, its walls lined with polished wooden panels and fitted with paper lamps that provided a soft lighting. The carpet, decorated with a swirling pattern of blue and black, covered the floor. Along the tall walls stood bookshelves with hundreds of scrolls, books, and jars of liquid-filled body parts. Behind the desk, the emblem of Konoha hung prominently. A number of leather chairs were arranged around a long meeting table, and the main desk at the back end of the office was elegantly crafted wood. The entire room was the sort of space and decor of a man who always desired power.

Tsunade sat in the large chair behind the desk while Itachi sat opposite her. In her hands was a scroll she was silently reading through while Itachi waited patiently, like a statue. He already knew what she was going to say, but he wouldn't interrupt as she spoke his diagnosis.

"The overuse of your Mangekyo Sharingan—gained at a young age—likely amplified the symptoms of your illness due to the large amount of chakra it requires," she began, not looking up from the scroll. "I'd give you three, maybe four years left to live. It should go without saying, but the more you use your Mangekyo, the sooner you die."

Tsunade looked up from her reading to study Itachi, who remained impassive.

"You described how this illness felt like it was eating away at you from the inside," she continued. "And you've taken a veritable cocktail of medicines simply to remain among the living." She looked up to observe him as she added, "No doubt making your illness worse. Was prolonging your life for Sasuke worth aggravating your condition?"

Once more, Itachi maintained his silence, his reserved demeanor suggesting that this conversation was more for her benefit rather than his own—as if he had already made peace with the prognosis. With the gravity of the situation pressing upon her, Tsunade focused intently, formulating arguments that might persuade him.

She continued reading, "Hemorrhaging from the eyes, coughing up blood, low stamina, fatigue, shortness of breath, heart seizures, chest pain. After running a body of tests, the diagnosis is hemoptysis: a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease."

She raised her hazel eyes to meet his black ones, and he responded with nothing more than a blink. However, she wouldn't let his stoicism deter her from the goal.

"Lung illnesses can also attribute to heart failure, and of course, low stamina," she explained. "Additionally, you're highly susceptible to pulmonary edema; that's excess fluid building up in the lungs which makes it difficult to breathe, and cause shortness of breath. Hemoptysis, itself, can be attributed to many different diseases—tuberculosis or pneumonia to cardiovascular issues, lung cancer, or other pulmonary diseases—but I doubt I'll be able to pinpoint how you exactly contracted it. Would you happen to know your family's health history?"

Itachi shook his head.

"Of course, not," she said with a sigh. "Setting hemoptysis aside, I've also diagnosed you have microscopic polyangiitus, which was amplified by your hemoptysis. Essentially, the reason why your eyes bleed more than usual is because the nerves and blood vessels that surround your eyes often become inflamed, which can cause vision loss and joint pain. At the moment, I give you a fifty percent chance of making it three years, and you'll see kidney failure before that."

Itachi's response to such grave news was a composed "I understand," which frustrated Tsunade.

One of the worst experiences as a medical professional was dealing with patients who had surrendered their will to live. She simply couldn't fathom why anyone with decades left to live would choose to end it all when there were so many vices, goals, or work that could just as easily end them. Though Itachi seemed to be allowing the job to swing that kunai, she needed him for far longer than three years. If he was dead in ten years, it would be much too soon.

She tossed the scroll onto the desk, expressing her disbelief at his recent victory. "I honestly can't believe you defeated Danzō in this state. Blurry vision and weak limbs would've been amazing enough on its own."

"I only did what needed to be done," he replied succinctly.

"I can treat your symptoms," she offered. "But curing the underlying condition will be a challenge, even for me."

Itachi accepted the offer with subdued gratitude. "Treating the symptoms will suffice. Thank you."

"You know what'll happen to Root if you die too soon, right?" she asked. They both knew the current squad of Root still had Danzō loyalists. And they knew they couldn't exactly be rid of them too quickly. "You need to secure a new Root before you leave us. Otherwise, those who still prefer Danzō's methods of operations will take over."

Itachi assured her with a nod, "Whatever the case, I'll leave Root in capable hands, or end it with mine."

Both of them thought of the massacre, but yearning for a different future, Tsunade pressed on to ask, "I want you to consider a possible treatment."

"I still have time," Itachi remarked.

"The longer you stick around, the better," Tsunade told him. "Also, Sasuke still needs your help."

Considering the recent reports he had read, Itachi suddenly felt an odd obligation to take it upon himself to explain, "…I told him to stop attacking Naruto."

Taking accountability for another family member felt foreign to Itachi. He hadn't done so in a long time. Additionally, he once again acutely felt like a typical older brother, which stirred something warm within his chest.

"Thank you," replied Tsunade. "Wouldn't you rather he use all that energy to continue the Uchiha clan? There's only two of you now, and no offense, but you don't strike me as the most nurturing father type."

'Sasuke as a father,' Itachi thought, testing with the possibility in his head. Considering how the village treated the Uchiha in the past, he asked, "Would that even be a good idea?"

"Of course it would," Tsunade answered with conviction.

The Uchiha could tell she meant it, but he replied, "I wonder."

"Look, it won't be easy, I know," she admitted, fully aware of the history between the Uchiha and the village. "It's an effortless thing to be consumed by grief, especially when it's justified. But you need to outlast Sasuke's anger or I don't see how the Uchiha make it to the next generation."

Itachi wondered about that. He hadn't heard any falsehoods in her argument, but it was forcing him to consider things he had long put to rest: continuing the Uchiha clan, fighting his illness for the good of the village, possibly becoming an uncle. Itachi wasn't sure how to tackle these new challenges in his life. In fact, it left him feeling inadequate, which was not something he was used to.

"I know I don't have to say so," Tsunade continued. "But I mean it when I say Konoha—and your brother—need you to live for as long as humanly possible. For better or worse, you're now a load-bearing pillar for this village and all its successes moving forward."

With a sigh—the most emotion he had expressed thus far—Itachi wondered about life's unusual twists and turns. He always expected to die at the hands of his little brother and go down in the records as one of the most heinous criminals in Konoha history. Now, he's somehow one of the only shinobi, if not the only one, who can keep a large aspect of the village from collapsing. It was such a strange twist of fate, that it once again left him perplexed and certain that plans were never a sure thing.

After careful consideration, Itachi asked, "…What's the treatment?"

"Not a what, but who," Tsunade answered. At his furrowed brow, she elaborated, "Her name is Karin. Uzumaki Karin."

"I read about her in Danzō's files," Itachi remarked, recalling her profile. "To say he was eager to have her in his ranks was an understatement."

Tsunade leaned back in the comfortable chair that once belonged to Danzō, and remarked with a hint of marvel in her tone, "What she can do with her chakra could be considered a miracle cure, and would've given him more life, and strength."

Recalling Danzō's cautionary notes in the report, Itachi said, "I also know Naruto-kun doesn't want anyone abusing her unique ability."

"We're not abusing anyone; we're asking them—there's a difference," Tsunade replied. "Naruto likes you, or at the very least sympathizes with you. He might be okay with it. And she's already offered her chakra to the Sandiame, so the choice is ultimately hers. She's a good kid—very hardworking and caring."

Itachi's stoic face and silence was unreadable, so, while grabbing his medical report and sealing it, she asked, "Just think about it?"

At his nod, she turned to no one in particular and nodded. In the next moment, Kakashi landed beside them, having dropped from the ceiling. Around Itachi's wide desk, Tsunade briefed Kakashi and Itachi on Naruto's theory on the Akatsuki organization and their mission. She detailed their objective to revive the Jūbi by ripping every Bijū out of their Jinchūriki and combining their all of their chakra. Should the cadre of S-Rank missing-nin achieve their goals, the world as they knew it would be destroyed to make way for their dominion.

"That would make the most sense," asserted Itachi. "The group was incredibly secretive, even within its own members. The only one that knew everything was Pain, and the rest of us just followed orders. The little that I was able to learn was that all wasn't as they said. They had a much larger plan. I just never discovered how far it went."

Tsunade commanded Itachi, "With you here, I'll need your Root to infiltrate the countries Naruto won't be traveling to and prevent Akatsuki from taking their Jinchūriki."

Kakashi asked, "Who do we need to watch?"

Relaying the plan, Tsunade informed, "Gaara already knows. Naruto plans to meet the Jinchūriki of the Nibi and Hachibi in Kumo. He also plans on meeting the Jinchūriki of the Sanbi through his connections with Terumī Mei and Momochi Zabuza."

"That leaves Bijū numbers four through seven," Kakashi noted, having already read the report on how Naruto met Mei. He then asked, "This is the real purpose behind Naruto's Omiai with Kumogakure."

"And possibly Kirigakure, if need be," Tsunade confirmed. "Though the hope is Terumī-san can make significant progress against their Mizukage."

After a moment of silent thought, Kakashi asked, "How does Naruto know this?"

A stoic Itachi remained silent as Tsunade voiced, "Jiraiya and Sensei confirmed that it was a prophecy from the great Toad Sage on Mount Myōboku. If we don't do anything, we might as well hand the world over to them."

Acknowledging the seriousness of what was at stake, Itachi and Kakashi nodded before they began formulating their plans and diving deeper into the critical details.


After Naruto, Gaara, and Kankurō finished bringing their few belongings into one of Naruto's guest rooms, the elder Suna brother left with a clone of Naruto for a special project. Though the Suna brothers wouldn't be permanent residents of Naruto's home, staying with him would be more comfortable than an extended-stay at a hotel.

Naruto and Gaara settled into the spacious living room, where soft light filtering through the shoji screens that made up one wall. The room was designed with a minimalist approach as the Uzumakis wanted to stretch every ryō that Jiraiya had gifted them. The bare white walls reflected the light, enhancing the texture of the simple yet elegant furniture.

Above them, additional lighting was integrated with a grid of dark wooden beams that matched the oak wood accents of the room. Dark polished wood framed the edges of the floor, meeting a central expanse of beige tatami mats. Naruto and Gaara sat cross-legged on the long, low-lying couch, made of a beige upholstery and darker autumn-colored cushions for comfort, but also facing each other. Beside the couch was a sturdy, dark oak coffee table with a natural, uneven edge, and it had a few simple, decorative items, such as a small bowl and a plate with a few pieces of fruit.

A large, textured art piece of The Uzumaki clan's symbol in a minimalistic frame hung on a concrete-finished wall, adding a subtle focal point without overwhelming the room's calm aesthetic. In the corner, bonsai tree added a touch of greenery from its dark wood base in the corner.

The living room maintained clean lines, created a sense of simple cohesion, and was warm and inviting. However, despite physically being in the room, Naruto and Gaara were in a dark and cloudy space with Kurama and Shukaku. Through connected fists, all four shared a mental expanse to formulate a plan to save their brothers and sisters, along with the Jinchūrikis. Though, even if they were supposed to be strategizing, Kurama and Shukaku couldn't stop bickering with one another.

Around their dick-measuring contest, Gaara was explaining his decision to travel to Iwagakure to meet their Jinchūriki and explain the danger they were in. Naruto assured him that they could go together, and though the sand-nin appreciated the genuine way Naruto cared for a murderer like him, Gaara felt he had to go alone—with Kankurō and Baki.

Clearly disliking the idea of separating, Naruto begged to know, "What about your sister? Don't you want to go with her to Kumo?"

"As I have much to make up for, I must do my part," Gaara informed him. "And I trust you to take care of her."

Half nodding, the mildly desperate blond looked up at the bickering bijū, and then asked, "But shouldn't you wait until you and Shukaku are full-on partners?"

Indignant, Shukaku let out a "HMPH!" shooting out a concentrated stream of air before touting, "I refuse to let that happen until he agrees to have a harem of women." Naruto sighed once again at the baffling argument the Bijū were having. The One-Tail pointed a stern finger at a cocky Kurama as he yelled, "I don't care how many either, just as long as it's more than him!"

Kurama snarled in sheer amusement before clapping back, "That'll never happen! You couldn't possibly amass the quantity or the quality of our harem!"

Frustrated and annoyed, Naruto yelled at the giant chakra-monsters, "Will you two shut up about harem this and harem that! I'm not trying to get a harem here! It just happened!"

An irate Shukaku spat back, "It'll happen for Gaara too!" He then looked at the redhead as he added, "Or he can forget about getting my cooperation."

Stomping his foot on the floor, Naruto retorted, "If we all don't cooperate with each other, none of us are going to be alive to have any of the things we want!"

Much more calmly, Gaara diplomatically explained to his bijū, "He's right. We have to work together to defeat this looming threat. And along the way, we can discuss my marriage after that."

The One-Tail scoffed before replying, "You think I give two craps about your marriage?! I just don't want to lose to that bastard!" He loudly proclaimed, snarling at Kurama.

"I understand the feeling, well," Gaara responded. "Wanting an outcome so that all you deem your peers may acknowledge your existence. I can manipulate billions of grains of sand. Naruto can create hundreds of clones. But if they're not powerful, then no amount matters. Quality is more important than quantity. I'm of the opinion that the best quality marriage partner is more important than the quantity of marriage partners."

Kurama glared at Gaara, as if insulted by the redhead, and Shukaku appeared pensive—deep in thought—going so far as to tilt his head up and scratch his enormous belly mindlessly.

"Hmmm," the engrossed One-Tail hummed. "So, you're saying if we get the best girl… it's our win?"

Incredibly offended by the notion, Kurama yelled to all three, "Our women still love us!"

"What's this 'our' and 'us?'" Naruto asked his bijū in disbelief. "All you care about is the sense of peace and freedom they give. I mean, do you even want to talk with them? I bet it'll creep 'em out, but I can introduce you."

Grinning broadly at the piece of info, Shukaku asked his elder tailed beast, "They haven't even met you, yet?" Shaking his head in a taunting manner, he giddily added, "Mnnn, doomed to fail before it even starts, I'm sure of it." Turning to Gaara, he acknowledged, "I see now, boy- No. Gaara. Having a better relationship is something Kurama is clearly incapable of! HEEEEHEHEHEHEEEHEHHEHE!"

Kurama angrily growled, "In no way will you ever be better than the greatest of the tailed beasts! Even in this, you'll fall before my strength!"

"We'll see about that," Shukaku happily retorted, only angering Kurama further. "Let's go, Gaara. We have to save my siblings and find you a superior quality mate! HEEEEHEHEHEHEHEHHEHEE!"

"Give up now!" Kurama yelled. "You'll never equal the power of our mates!"

"Says the nine-tailed chump who can't even be a partner to his Jinchūriki," he cackled, making Kurama snarl.

Gaara and Naruto ignore them to continue talking.

"Are you sure you absolutely have to go to Iwa by yourself?" Naruto pleaded. At Gaara's assertive nod, the blond glumly replied, "Will you at least take one of my kunai? In case you need some backup?"

Gaara nodded before saying, "We'll set aside some time before your clan's restoration ceremony to prepare for our mission. After that, Kankurō, Baki, and I must leave. Though we'll have allies, I fear any plan of success will rely on the strength of Jinchūriki."

"Even if it came down to one of us, giving up isn't an option," Naruto sternly pledged with steel in his blue eyes. "So we'd better give it our all if we want to save the people we love."

Gaara spared a small smile of agreement before remarking, "Then you can tell me how to find a woman to marry."

His face cracked with a big grin before returning, "Sure thing!"


Uzumaki Clan Meeting Minutes

Hi no Kuni year 71, Sept. 19. 10:00AM

Opening: This will be the 3rd meeting and take place in Naruto-sama's secured office. The meeting was called by the Deputy Head of the Clan, Uzumaki Karin. The 2nd meeting took place 71.09.17

Attendee's List: Clan Head Uzumaki Naruto, Deputy Head Uzumaki Karin, and first Adviser Haku.

Absent List: Clan Elder Jiraiya-sama.

Activities: 1. A fleet of Naruto clones helped with the apartments' furnishings and installed the appliances ordered. 2. Six clones secured the Uzu-Fūin office with some of Naruto's best security Fūinjutsu. 3. Ordered business cards.

Discussion: The members discussed being invited to the banquet by both Hiruzen-sama and Tsunade-sama. Though Naruto-sama would prefer to be on the event's security detail with his team, Kakashi-sensei gave him special leave to attend to his clan duties. The members discussed how they would need to market their clan's second source of income, Uzu-Fūin, to the business and clan leaders that will be attending the banquet.

Notes: I love Naruto-sama to death, but he isn't the best when it comes to business and marketing, which is fine. He'll protect us from any threat; of that I'm sure of. Additionally, we all have our strengths and I need to do my part as well. With Haku's help, I'm sure we can help Naruto-sama learn everything he needs to know to deal with the economic world. The Uzumaki clan will rise from the ashes. For our fallen, I'll make sure of it.

Action Items: The members approved business cards to be made for the occasion.

Adjournment: At 11:30 PM.

Next Meeting: The Godaime Hokage's Coronation Ceremony.

Submitted By: Deputy Head, Uzumaki Karin.

Approved By: Clan Head, Uzumaki Naruto

Uzumaki Clan Meeting Minutes

Hi no Kuni year 70, Sept. 21. 8:00 AM

Opening: This will be the 4th meeting and take place in Naruto-sama's secured office. The meeting was called by the Deputy Head of the Clan, Uzumaki Karin. The 3rd meeting took place 71.09.19.

Attendee's List: Clan Head Uzumaki Naruto, Deputy Head Uzumaki Karin, and first Adviser Haku.

Absent List: Clan Elder Jiraiya-sama.

Activities: 1. The members infiltrated three different Fūinjutsu businesses to gather information regarding demand and pricing from the veterans in the sealing arts industry. 2. Naruto-sama assures us he can make everything they have, but better and faster. 3. Have work orders for Uzu-Fūin made.

Discussion: The members infiltrated Fūinjutsu as regular customers and asked the available experts about the market. The members were surprised to learn how lucrative the business was. The average income earned a year was 10 million ryō. With the skill level of Naruto-sama's Fūinjutsu, he could easily make ten times that amount; anywhere from 100 million to 200 million a year. Additionally, clients are also charged for maintenance. Add to that the 15 million in pure profit we can expect from the apartment, and the Uzumaki Clan could become one of the wealthiest clans in a handful of years.

Notes: We learned a lot about how much money a Fūinjutsu master could earn. The Godaime's banquet went better than I expected. Naruto-sama may not have the best strategies for business, but he's honest, and there's value in that. Though he can be a little too trusting, Haku and I can sniff out the ones with bad intentions.

Action Items: The members approved a business strategy based on research in Fūinjutsu services.

Adjournment: At 5:00 PM.

Next Meeting: N/A

Submitted By: Deputy Head, Uzumaki Karin.

Approved By: Clan Head, Uzumaki Naruto.

Uzumaki Clan Meeting Minutes

Hi no Kuni year 70, Sept. 25, 9:00 AM

Opening: This will be the 5th meeting and taking place in Naruto-sama's secured office. The meeting was called by the Deputy Head of the Clan, Uzumaki Karin. The 4th meeting took place 71.09.21

Attendee's List: Clan Head Uzumaki Naruto, Deputy Head Uzumaki Karin, and first Adviser Haku.

Absent List: Clan Elder Jiraiya-sama.

Activities: 1. Celebrating Naruto-sama's promotion. 2. Celebrating Karin-san's success with the Adamantine sealing chains.

Discussion: The Sealing Chains

Notes: Naruto wanted me, Karin, to note down having achieved one length of Adamantine Sealing chains. Apparently, my Anā-Hata was fairly close to the point of Kekkei Genkai. It was barely visible and didn't do anything as the focus required was tremendous—so I still need a lot of practice—but he wanted to celebrate my minor achievement. I insisted we also celebrate his promotion to Chuunin as Team 7's schedule hadn't allowed it yet. Naturally, Naruto told everyone and far more people than we had food for showed up. It was a very lively affair. I was surprised Sakura and I became much closer tonight. She seemed distracted. I find myself hoping she'll confide in me one day. Oh, what am I doing? This isn't a diary.

Action Items: Bar-B-Que on the roof

Adjournment: At 9:30 AM.

Next Meeting: N/A

Submitted By: Deputy Head, Uzumaki Karin.

Approved By: Clan Head, Uzumaki Naruto

Uzumaki Clan Meeting Minutes

Hi no Kuni year 70, Sept. 27. 10:00AM

Opening: This will be the 6th meeting and take place in Naruto-sama's office. The meeting was called by the Deputy Head of the Clan, Uzumaki Karin. The 5th meeting took place 71.09.25

Attendee's List: Clan Head Uzumaki Naruto, Deputy Head Uzumaki Karin, and first Adviser Haku.

Absent List: Clan Elder Jiraiya-sama.

Activities: 1. Discuss any task that hasn't been completed and provide a time to complete them.

Discussion: Simply put, there's just too much to do. I just thank Kami every day the head of our clan is a one-man army, or this would simply be impossible.

Notes: Our clan's ceremony is tomorrow and I'm freaking out. I planned everything as best I can but I can't control a crowd. The ceremony begins with a parade from Uzushio Suites to Hokage Tower, but if hardly any villagers show up, it'll ruin the entire event before it even begins. Naruto has been really busy for the past two days, and will Jiraiya-sama really show up? He said he would, but he's missed every single meeting so far. This is really stressing me out.

Action Items: Uzumaki Restoration Ceremony

Adjournment: 10:20 AM.

Next Meeting: N/A

Submitted By: Deputy Head, Uzumaki Karin.

Approved By: Clan Head, Uzumaki Naruto

Just like every morning since Naruto told her about her clan's kekkei genkai, Karin chanted the o-daimoku for the Kongō Fūsa, or Adamantine Sealing chains. Aside from sweating a tremendous amount, her body had never felt so tranquil yet strong. Karin felt close to nature, as if it was lightly flowing through her. Even if she hadn't managed a forty link chain, she eagerly included it into her daily routine just for the benefit of her skincare. Her skin had never felt softer—even noticed some of her scaring fading a bit.

After her hour of chanting, Karin showered the sweat off her body and quickly changed to meet Sakura for lunch. Due to her busy schedule, the redhead met the pinkette at the tea shop across the street from the Yamanaka compound. Approaching the imposing gateway that led to the main house, Karin was surprised to see Sasuke again. At the open gate, made of vertical wooden slats, Sakura was speaking to her teammate before he abruptly turned away. Though the redhead waved at him, Sasuke continued walking with his hands in his pockets. He didn't even acknowledge Karin as he approached her, head down, eyes to the horizon.

Karin hadn't seen her first crush since he saved her during the second task of the Chūnin exams. He was just as handsome, though clearly injured. He had white patches on his face, arms, and neck, making Karin want to help him with her chakra. However, she stamped that emotional desire down. No matter how handsome or powerful he was, Sasuke tried to kill her cousin, that last bit of family she had left. So she ignored him just as much as he ignored her.

"Hey, Sakura," Karin called.

"Hey," replied the pinkette. "Come on."

As they walked to have lunch, Karin wondered what Sakura thought about her ebony-haired teammate. She'd heard through the grapevine—typically Ino, but sometimes Tenten—that most girls were after Sasuke, and among them, Sakura and Ino were the most bullish. Karin now knew how Ino felt, but she always wondered how Sakura rationalized Sasuke's disturbing, if not homicidal, behavior.

"Is your teammate okay?" Karin asked. "He seemed pretty banged up."

Eyeing the redhead as if surprised by the question, Sakura eventually answered, "Uh, yeah, mostly. He's been training pretty hard and comes to me when he needs to be patched up."

"He stayed for like five minutes at the barbecue and then left," Karin noted. "I guess he's nothing like I expected."

Curious, Sakura asked, "What did you expect?"

"Well, he saved my life in the Forest of Death," Karin recalled. "And that smile… Mnn! I was done from there on. Then I had all these fantasies of what he would be like—kind, loving, funny, and a couple of not so innocent things." Sakura smiled with a hint of blush. "Then when I heard what he did to Naruto, I really couldn't… it felt wrong to feel so much for someone who would cross that line."

Nodding, Sakura asked, "So… you no longer like him? Not that I'm digging for answers. I'm beyond that catty phase now."

Karin nodded in acknowledgment, appreciating how candid and forthcoming Sakura was being. It was as if the pink-haired beauty didn't want the foundation of this relationship to start off on the wrong foot. So, Karin was just as honest in return.

"Well, he's certainly ridiculously handsome," Karin responded with a slanted grin, which made Sakura smile broadly, nodding in understanding. "But, ultimately, I made a choice. I chose Naruto and family. As much as I can fantasize about being Mrs. Uchiha, I'd never trade what I have."

Sakura remained quiet until they reached the teahouse and grabbed a booth in the back. After a sip of her tea, the pinkette hesitated to ask, "Uh, I know why those Root members tried to kidnap you. Ah! I wasn't prying or anything. I just heard that your chakra is special, and when I asked Naruto, he said it wasn't really his place to tell me why. You don't have to tell me, either, but I was wondering if you're also like Naruto."

Karin's brows drew inward in curiosity. She tilted her head and squinted her eyes as if trying to see what Sakura was referring to—whether her chakra's healing properties or if she was a Jinchūriki like her cousin.

"I'm not like the forbidden side of Naruto," Karin answered. "But I'm like him in a lot of other ways."

Sakura huffed in amusement, nodding before eating a small biscuit. "I find it so odd you're both geniuses of Fūinjutsu, like an actual physical trait that's passed down," Sakura queerly remarked. "Like I've never heard of Fūinjutsu being a kekkei genkai."

"It's close to it, but not actually," Karin said. "And even if I get more than most practitioners, Naruto understands it way better than I do."

With a certain light in her green eyes, and a soft smile on her lips, Sakura remarked, "He really is special…"

A great big grin split Karin's face and she had to ask, "Oh, Kami! Sakura! Are you…?" Lowering her voice, she finished, "Do you love my cousin?"

Shaking her pink head throughout the question, a slightly blushing Sakura answered, "No. No, I just… It's just… He's come a long way so fast, and I'm adjusting slowly, is all."

In good fun, Karin teased, "There's still some spots left on the certificate if you don't mind sharing-"

"Kami, Karin, stop!" Sakura exclaimed, fighting her smile. "In all honesty, I want what Naruto has… but I also need to be stronger. I don't want to drag my team down anymore than I already am."

Karin could tell she really meant it, and once again, she noted how tired Sakura appeared. She learned from Ino how much Sakura was pushing herself to become better—to not be left behind by her teammates—but there were limits. Karin honestly felt bad for her. Considering how she could help, Karin wondered if her chains could alleviate some of Sakura's fatigue—maybe replenish her energy levels.

Before she could ask to try it, the Hokage's Anbu showed up, interrupting their meal. They asked, "Uzumaki Karin, the Hokage requests your presence."

Karin looked from the pair of men to Sakura, who raised her eyebrows, as if to ask, 'What could this be about?'

Shaking her head, Karin left Sakura to join the men. Though she was nervous, they stayed in front of her and headed directly to Hokage Tower. To her surprise, she found Naruto in the Hokage's office, and no one else, but her senses were telling her that there should be a fourth person. Her cousin smiled at her as she walked in, easing her anxiety. So long as he was there, she didn't have to worry about her safety, but even still, Karin wondered why her chakra suddenly felt a subtle disturbance.

She looked around the room as she approached her cousin and stood next to him. Karin could tell Naruto wasn't sure why they were summoned, but soon, they heard Tsunade say, "S-Class Security protocol. Senju, Tsunade, 002302, Kage."

Immediately, the once bright office hummed to life as the wall of windows darkened and thousands of previously unseen Fūinjutsu characters glowed blue along the walls, ceiling, and floor. Karin heard at least ten locks, but couldn't pinpoint the source. The now-darkened space was lit by four lamps, one at each corner. What Karin found curious was how calm Naruto was throughout the rather hostile transformation, as if he'd done this many times.

Tsunade began, "What we're about to discuss is highly classified, but more than anything, it is just a discussion."

"What's going on?" Naruto asked.

Tsunade allowed a dark-haired figure stepping forward, seemingly from the darkness, to be her answer. When the subtle disturbance in her chakra went away, it confirmed the man was the reason why, pointing to him to call out, "You're the reason why…"

Karin stopped mid-sentence when she got a good look at him. He was tall—'So tall,' she thought—with a fair complexion. He had black eyes, under which were long, pronounced tear-troughs, and jet-black hair that was pulled back in a low ponytail. His face was beautiful—delicate but stoically masculine—and framed with center-parted bangs that extended to his chin. He reminded Karin so much of Sasuke, but if he was older and wiser.

The beautiful man wore a black cloak with a high collar, but unbuttoned down to his chest where he rested his left arm, rather than in its sleeve. She absorbed every detail, including the mesh armor underneath his cloak, a necklace that had three silver rings with red gems inside them, and the moss-green nail polish on his fingers. But her eyes truly widened when she noted the red and white fan over the heart of the cloak.

Karin felt an unbelievable desire to know who this man was. Fortunately, her cousin was the emperor of surprises, and casually chimed, "Oh, what's up, Itachi! How'ya been?"

Karin's head whipped around from Naruto to Itachi as the man returned, "Naruto. It's nice to see you again."

Naruto grinned broadly before Tsunade continued. "First, Karin, the reason why we're in top-level security protocol is because the existence of the man beside me, Uchiha Itachi, is to remain a strictly confidential. Unless you absolutely have to discuss it with Naruto, you don't discuss it—at all. To be abundantly clear: That is an order. Am I understood?"

"H-Hai, Hokage-sama," Karin nervously trumpeted.

"Good," she said with a nod. "I'll keep this brief. Itachi is not well."

Concerned, Naruto quickly asked Itachi, "Wha! Is it bad?! Are you going to be okay?!"

For her cousin to react with such concern told her she didn't have to worry too much. But when he spread his lips in a small smile of gratitude, Karin worried about the large amount of butterflies exploding in her stomach. Her heart rate was already increasing and she could hardly pay attention to anything else but him.

"Relax," Tsunade replied. "Listen, there is no known cure for his illness."

Restless with anxious energy, Naruto immediately argued, "But you're like the best medic-nin in the whole world! You're even helping Iruka-sensei walk again, and they said he could never do that again! Can't you cure him?!"

Tsunade took a deep breath before exhaling, as if in defeat, and answered, "This is different. What Itachi has isn't like an injury sustained in battle. This is more genetic. To that end, we invited you here because we wanted to know what you thought about trying to, if not cure him, then help extend his life."

"I'm all for it!" Naruto quickly asserted.

However, the way Tsunade looked at her, Karin knew what they were asking. The redhead rolled up her sleeve and told her cousin, "They're asking to use my ability," as she showed him the many bite marks on her arm. Though the Anā-Hata's O-daimoku chant was slowly reducing the surface of her many wounds, she still had far too many to ever completely heal. She held her mangled arm defensively at the flare up of invasive memories of the many times they snatched her limb and bit into it.

"No," Naruto immediately said once he understood. Turning to Itachi, he added, "I want to help, really. After what you've been through, it's one of my top things to do."

"It's okay, Naruto," Itachi said in understanding, already accepting Naruto's decision.

To Karin, it appeared as if he was fine with his illness, as if he didn't expect another outcome besides death. It simultaneously broke Karin's heart and made her sing to think that he needed her to not only survive, but to live. He has to cause her pain to survive, but that was destiny's way connecting them. Once again, Karin's heart palpitations were reaching a dangerous peak, and she needed to look away from the man to calm herself down.

"Maybe there's another way," Naruto offered with a hopeful tone.

"There isn't," Tsunade said, dashing his optimism. Looking at Karin, she said, "If we're sure this is the decision…"

"Sorry," Naruto replied glumly. "I don't want Karin to go through any more pain than she already has. But come on, Tsunade-baachan! There has to be something else!"

At Naruto's defiant certainty, a spark of an idea, almost like a forgotten intuition, came to her mind.

Karin sidestepped Tsunade's snarling retort of, "Keh! I told you not to call me that!" to ask, "What if…" They all turned to her, but considering the significance of the information, she wasn't sure how much she should say. Shaking her head hastily, Karin grabbed Naruto's arm and pulled him to the far end of the dark room. She pulled him down so she could whisper in his ear, "What if… What if my chains could help?"

Naruto pulled away to gaze at her with cartoonishly round eyes of surprise, and whispered, "Can they do that?"

She shrugged, answering, "I don't know. We both heard about one or two of our relatives being able to heal with theirs, and my chakra can already cure a lot. Maybe my chains can do this, but we'd have to tell them and Jiraiya said that should be a clan secret."

"Hmmmmmm," Naruto hummed for a long while before stating, "Ah, what am I doing? I'm just a clone. How about I pop and get the boss in here? Let him earn the title," he replied with a smirk.

"He is the Head for a reason," Karin returned with a smile.

Turning back to the Hokage and the most beautiful man she'd ever seen, Karin cheerfully said, "There might be something we can do, but I have to talk with Naruto first." When they eyed the chuckling blond, Karin added, "The real one."

"Okay," Tsunade replied. "Where is he?"


In the midst of a lush, green forest, bathed in the soft, early morning light that filtered through the high canopy above, Naruto—in nothing but his boxers—and eight clones sat in a meditative pose on a large moss-covered rock. One of the many forests of Mount Myōboku exuded a serene and peaceful atmosphere, relaxing Naruto and his clones to further connect with their chanting. The dense forest of the Land of Toads was one of many undisturbed locations, offering him the perfect sense of solitude and intimacy with nature he needed.

"Namu-Myōhō-Fūin-Renge-Kyō, Namu-Myōhō-Fūin-Renge-Kyō, Namu-Myōhō-Fūin-Renge-Kyō, Namu-Myōhō-Fūin-Renge-Kyō," Naruto and the eight clones surrounding him chanted in perfect synchronicity.

The blond knew they wouldn't affect his physical energy once they dispersed, but more vibrations passing through him meant more activation of the Fūin coding in his cells per session—and excessive sweating—persuading the natural energy around him to unlock the evolution he was capable of.

The group of Uzumakis chanted in unison, deep from their diaphragm, and the profusely sweaty Naruto felt the resonating vibrations of the tantric chant course through him. The deep, rhythmic tones seemed to reverberate through the very core of his being, setting his every nerve alight with a warm, pulsating energy. Each syllable firmly voiced from their throats felt like a comforting presence, wrapping him in an almost tangible blanket of tranquility. With every passing minute, the vibrations grew warmer, unwinding the tightly coiled strands of tension and worry within his body.

Naruto wasn't sure how long it would take him to refine his physical energy, but after some research with Karin, they knew it took a person upwards of fifteen years to replace all of their cells—blood cells, muscle cells, and bone cells. They had also learned it typically takes six million years for humankind to evolve their behavioral and physical traits. Since the human body replaced all its cells, on average, five times before dying of old age, and that it could take upwards of eighty thousand generations to evolve, the two Uzumaki learned they would have to regenerate newer stronger cells four hundred thousand times.

Karin was the one brave enough to voice the words, "F-F-Four… million… years!"

It wasn't until later when they learned that ninjutsu—and likely chakra—had only been around for a thousand years. Considering the many stages of evolution that clans reached in that time, the Uzumakis estimated they would be chanting every day for a minimum of one to four years—depending on where on the evolutionary scale they stood.

As the sonorous chanting drowned Naruto in sweat and stimulating sound waves—oscillating his physical form down to his marrow—he didn't mind if it took that long. In the lushness and peace of the forest, the serenity he felt after every session made it more than worth it.

Within the secluded and beautiful forest, he surrendered himself to the enchanting embrace of the mantra his mother taught him, committed to mastering the technique of his people. At the thought of his mother and the legacy she passed down, he chuckled before lightly remarking, "For you, for us."

Toward the end of his training, a sweat-drenched Naruto was happily surprised to hear from Naru-nii.

'Yo!' Naruto heard within his head.

'Naru-nii!' he called back, wide-eyed with mirth. Grabbing his clothes, his water pouch—of which he drank greedily from—and walking off with purpose, Naruto eagerly asked, 'How's the Hiraishin training coming? It's a bitch to learn, ain't it?'

'Yeesh, you can say that again,' Naru-nii agreed. 'I don't have a whole lot around me to help practice, either. But still, I couldn't have done it without you, so thanks!'

With a quirked brow of disbelief, Naruto returned, 'Are you kidding me? I never would've been this strong without you! It hasn't even been a year yet! I owe you way more.'

'Shesheshe,' his older counterpart chuckled. 'Is it getting cold yet?'

'Not yet, but it won't be long,' Naruto answered as he neared a large pond, its water as blue and beautiful as the rest of the landscape.

'Man, I miss the seasons,' Naru-nii groaned whimsically. 'I miss Ichiraku's more than anything, though.'

Now that the Narutos were somewhat closer in power level—the younger still lacking Sage of Six Paths level—Naruto had wondered about the grand fight ahead of him and the capability needed to make the difference. Thus, he asked, 'Have you figured out how to beat Madara or the Infinite Tsukuyomi yet?'

'Sasuke could block the illusion because he has the Rinnegan,' Naru-nii ruefully remarked. 'As far as I know that's the only way… unless I, somehow, destroy the moon. Other than that, I don't have a solid plan yet.'

Finishing the rest of the water in the pouch, Naruto asked, 'Do you think Sasuke's still fighting Madara?'

'Don't know. Maybe. Can't imagine it would be an easy fight,' the older Naruto glumly replied. 'But if I go outside and he didn't win, I'll be stuck in that illusion, and that's game over for the world. There'll be no one left to stop Madara from enslaving the world.'

'And if he won?' Naruto wondered in his mind, thinking about his own Sasuke's abilities.

Now that the Uchiha had his brother back, and was chasing after Naruto's skill level, Sasuke's been getting better faster than before, but Naruto wasn't sure if he would ever be good enough for someone of Madara's strength. If even Naru-nii couldn't beat him, Naruto had to wonder who could.

'If Sasuke won, then I'm so kicking his ass for wanting to fight Madara on his own,' Naru-nii hotly contested. 'Unlike your Sasuke, mine didn't get Itachi back, so he's hurting, lost, and super-stupid about it!' With a long, frustrated sigh, he added, 'I'll whip him into shape, though.'

'I told my Sasuke I'm done taking it,' Naruto said. 'He either realizes we just want the best for him or the punches are only going to get harder.'

'Either way, he's getting his ass kicked!' Naru-nii boasted, making them both laugh.

When Naruto reached the warm pool of water, he happily jumped in, diving deep before coming up for air. His head burst out of the water as the older Uzumaki asked, 'So what have you been working on?'

A large hemisphere of Naruto's brain instantly lit up at the question, recalling all the amazing experiences he had been through.

'OOOOHHHHHHH!' a bright-eyed Naruto screamed, causing Naru-nii to wince from the ringing pain. 'I forgot to tell you last time because… well, you haven't been popping up all that often—not like you used to.'

'….Yeah, I won't lie to you,' Naru-nii began. 'I don't know how many more times I can do this.'

Painful panic gripped Naruto as he yelled, 'What?! No! Are you leaving?! Is it shinigami-sama?! Because I'll kick his ass, too!'

With amusement in his voice, Naru-nii replied, 'No, no, it's not the shinigami. It's just… it's getting harder and harder to use the beads to talk. It's taking more time, focus, and chakra, so I've been saving the little jumps I have left for when I figure out a better plan.'

Naruto settled and with wonderment in his tone, asked, 'What about mimicking tou-chan's chakra to jump back to the real world?'

'Kurama pointed out that even if I managed to do that, unless I figure out how to block the Infinite Tsukuyomi, I could just get trapped in the illusion there,' Naru-nii explained. 'So, until I have a legit way around that, the smart play is to not waste what little I have left.'

It was what Naruto feared the most, not being able to help the person who had helped him the most—who had believed in him to the furthest lengths. As he floated on his back, looking up at the orange-blue sky, he wondered for the umpteenth time how he could help.

'But I'm sure it'll be fine! Shesheshe!' Naru-nii cheerfully boasted, covering the somber realization with forceful will and optimism.

'Is there anything I can do?' Naruto asked. 'I mean, there has- wait a minute… Maybe… OH! Yeah! I can teach you Kaa-chan's Adamantine Chains! Maybe that can do something!'

Surprised at the admission, Naru-nii asked, 'No shit! You met her?'

'Hell yeah!' Naruto returned with gusto.

'Why didn't you tell me?!'

Naruto answered, 'That's what we didn't have time to go over last time.'

'Sweet!' Naru-nii exclaimed. 'Isn't she just awesome?!'

'The best!' Naruto agreed, trying hard not to be overwhelmed with emotion.

Naru-nii asked, 'So, you got her to teach you the Sealing Chains. That's pretty cool. How's it work?'

With a big smile, Naruto boldly replied, 'You're going to love this.'

Naruto then dedicated the next several minutes to quickly explain the hows and whys of the Uzumaki clan's Adamantine Chains, including meticulously chanting the O-daimoku with Naru-nii repeatedly. They chanted the sacred mantra that had been developed for refining the Anā-Hata physical energy until his pronunciation and rhythm resonated flawlessly.

'Wow!' Naru-nii gasped by the end. 'That sounds incredible!'

'Doesn't it?!' Naruto agreed. 'Man, we're so badass!'

'Heh-heh, no doubt,' Naru-nii chuckled before asking, 'Do you think they have different mantras for refining the other physical energies?'

Naruto opened his mental mouth to reply when his mind went blank. Not only had he never asked his mother about other o-daimoku, but he hadn't even thought to ask. Considering that the commands his blood receives through the chanting could be any set of instructions, Naruto couldn't think of a single reason they couldn't refine other physical energies of their body.

'Uh, hello? Mini-Me? I only have seconds here'

A bewildered Naruto replied. 'Uh… I don't know. Maybe…' At an errant thought, he froze as the budding stages of an idea blossomed in his mind. 'You know what?! Give me a couple of months! Practice the mantra, save your strength, and when you call me back, I promise I'll have something for you.'

Curiosity seeped into his voice as Naru-nii asked, 'What do you mean? How?'

'I'll dig up every square inch of Uzushiogakure to find an answer!' he declared with supreme confidence. 'It's my turn to help you for a change! That's a promise of a lifetime!'

'Heh-heh, you're on, little bro! Let's do it!' his voice cheerfully came through until it was gone.

"…For you, for us," Naruto sagely voiced, before finally jumping out of the natural pool and getting on with the rest of his day.


There was a lot for Naruto and the Uzumaki clan to think about; from doing what they could to help Naru-nii and Itachi to traveling to Kumo so Naruto could finally meet the Jinchūriki of the Eight-Tails and Two-Tails. However, before all of that, the newly approved clan had a ceremony to complete.

In the middle of getting ready, Karin was immediately relieved that Jiraiya showed up. However, when she looked out of the window, she was stunned at the sight of such a vibrant tapestry of colors and buzzing excitement that had gathered outside of their home—stretching as far as the eye can see.

A stunned Karin gasped, "What the fuck?! Why're there so many people outside?!"

From beside her, Naruto chuckled before stating, "Come on! Let's Go!"

The Uzumaki Clan, Naruto and Karin, as well as their advisers, Haku and Jiraiya, stepped out of Uzushio Suites on a bright, festive day dressed in their formal Uzumaki attire. The men wore their formal black kimono, the fabric smooth and unblemished, with a wide pleated hakama skirt that fell to just above their ankles. Their haori were adorned with the Uzumaki family crest, and the stark white haori-himo, a cord used to fasten the haori, was tied neatly at the front.

Karin, the sole girl in the clan, wore an exquisite furisode kimono that cascaded down to her feet, the long, flowing sleeves indicating her unmarried status. The kimono was an elegant canvas of midnight black, blossoming into a garden of vibrant flowers at the hem, where hues of pink, red, and violet mingled with touches of gold. The transition from the dark to the light—from the somber to the vivacious—was like the dawn of spring itself. The obi belt around her waist was an intricate tapestry of gold and fuchsia, cinched tight and adorned with a delicate bow at the back. Atop her neatly styled red hair, which was swept up away from her face in an elegant twist, sat a kanzashi—a hair ornament featuring a spray of pink flowers that echoed the floral motif of her attire. Her poise and the richness of her garb spoke of a ceremonial grace, befitting an occasion of celebration and tradition.

In the bustling street of their home, four elegant rickshaws waited for them, complete with rickshaw pullers dressed in orange. From the streamers, to the fireworks, the Uzumaki and Konoha flags, the cheering crowds, and even rickshaws, Karin had no idea where they came from. She hadn't hired any of these services as they were tight on funds. The redhead was certain no one would show up to the Welcome Parade, not only because they didn't have the ryō, but because Naruto's popularity was only just beginning to blossom.

Turning to her chuckling cousin, Karin asked, "Naruto?"

Scratching the back of his head with a big grin on his face, Naruto explained, "I knew you were a bit worried about who'd show up, so I made some clones to help out."

Her eyes widened in surprise as she asked, "Are all these your clones?"

However, she quickly sensed the answer as he said, shaking his head, "No, no. About a third are. The rest just probably like a good party."

Karin smiled at him gratefully, once again cementing how lucky she felt to have met him when she did. Karin held the black padded certificate holder to her chest and nodded gratefully, not trusting her voice to crack from underwhelming gratitude. The four boarded their rickshaws and were pulled through the village all the way to Hokage Tower, where their official Clan Credential Certificate will be stamped by the Hokage's Official Seal, cementing the Uzumaki Clan's place in the Village of Hidden Leaf.

Naruto's clones, henge'd to look like civilians and the people of Konoha had claimed every available inch of space along the sides of the wide boulevards and the rooftops of shops. Families and friends, standing shoulder to shoulder, cheered and waved eagerly as the rickshaws passed. The Uzumaki clan passed under banners with their emblem as festive fireworks popped in the air above them. With a wide grin and boisterous laughter, both Naruto and Jiraiya festively waved at everyone with both arms, happy to receive their adulation. Karin was a little more reserved in her waving, but enjoyed the celebration all the same. And at the sight of Haku, he received so much cheering from both men and women.

It was a day of communal spirit, the kind that wrote itself into the history of the village—the kind Naruto had often dreamed of when he became Hokage and the village cheered for him. He spent a long time getting the fireworks and banners ready, though with his clones and his Fūinjutsu, it didn't take more than a couple of days.

So caught up in the joy of the parade, they were at the Tower before they knew it and Naruto led their clan up to their new Hokage. Tsunade, dressed in her station's ceremonial red robe, white haori, and her Kage hat, waited for him at the front entrance of the Tower. Behind her was a large banner with the Konoha emblem. A second banner with the Uzumaki emblem was already in position for Naruto to stand in front of, and that's where the two leaders met.

Naruto grinned broadly at Tsunade, and though she shook her head, she grinned proudly. Karin handed Naruto the black certificate holder while Shizune stepped forward and opened the red and black box containing the Hokage's official seal. Naruto presented the Uzumaki Credential Certificate and the Godaime Hokage stamped it, officially ratifying their clan as members of Konohagakure and Fire Country. The giddy Naruto held in his chuckle and Karin wiped away a tear before all four members bow to the Hokage. They shake hands and finally entered the Tower for a Welcome Celebration.

As it was a government building, the celebration was less of a party and more of a meet and greet with other prominent members of the village, shinobi and civilian alike. Naruto and Karin met with many of the clan heads, like Shikamaru, Chōji, Ino, Hinata, Kiba, and Shino's parents. He also met with other important civilian leaders, like Sakura's mother and her council members. Naruto didn't know that Sakura's father was a tradesman and traveled all around Fire country trading valuable goods and commodities.

What was especially important to this celebration was how many of them asked either Karin or Naruto how they planned to commercialize their Uzu-Fūin. Many were interested in the security aspects of their service because that was what most people associated with Fūinjutsu. However, Naruto happily explained—when prompted by Karin or Haku—what all he could do with his Fūinjutsu, and many of them were eager to schedule meetings to talk further.

The actual party was later that night on the roof of Uzushio Suite. Karin had prepared the space for guests, food, colorful lights, and the music station—she even set up an area for target shooting and a shogi board, at Naruto's request. At the trickle of guests to arrive—Iruka, Ebisu, Konohamaru and his friends, Karin expected the evening would end badly, but after them, Temari, her brothers, and Baki showed up. Kurenai, Anko, and other Jōnin arrived after them. Guy and Kakashi arrived with more followers, and then Naruto's class showed up one after another sporadically for the next hour.

All it took was Naruto dragging Hinata out on the dance floor for many to join in and the rooftop soon to come alive with the fast-beating pulse of the music. Everyone was clustered together, drinks or snacks in hand, laughing and talking under a bright moon with a night sky full of stars. The party was filled with camaraderie and celebration, each person congratulating them on becoming an official clan, but as many of the shinobi had a meeting in the morning, the celebration didn't go well into the night.

Naruto was so overjoyed by the sight of everyone who came to support and congratulate them, he was bursting at the seams with energy. He felt like he could run to Kumo without using chakra or stopping. However, it didn't serve him well, as he was struck with indecision. He wanted to hangout with Tenten, Haku, and Temari just as much as he wanted to chat with Karin, Ino, Sakura, or Hinata. However, he also wanted to talk with Anko, Kurenai, Kakashi, Guy, and Iruka; then there was Konohamaru, his classmates, Inari, Tazuna, and Tsunami. Even a group like Kiba, Chōji, Shikamaru, and Shino seemed really fun.

Ultimately, Naruto decided to team up with Rock Lee and together, drag Neji and Sasuke to as many groups as possible. It was so much fun for them to bring the reserved Rookies of the Years to various groups and force them in conversations. It wasn't until they reached Karin's group that Naruto and Lee lost Neji.

Pulling him and Sasuke into the girl's lively conversation, Naruto interjected, "Hey my lovelies, Neji was wondering what you guys do to get your hair so shiny."

Neji was trying to push off Lee as he retorted, "I was not!"

Realizing what Lee and Naruto were doing, they giggled at their antics and Ino happily replied, "Oh! One of the biggest things is how fragile hair is when wet. I use a wide-tooth comb to detangle and then apply a heat protection oil to minimize heat damage when I dry it."

"Oh, that's such great advice," Karin merrily remarked. "You know, I'm starting to get more into the health and natural beauty of my hair."

Sakura effortlessly jumped in with, "Then you definitely want to nourish your hair with lightweight oils like argan or jojoba. My dad can get you a shipment, if you'd like."

Despite himself, Neji hesitated to ask, "Wh-What about straight, black hair?"

Hinata answered, "I've always wanted to say, you look like you over-wash your hair, Neji-neesan. That can remove a lot of the natural oils that keep your hair healthy and shiny."

All the girls were happy to help Neji, while the uneasy forms of Naruto, Lee, and Sasuke slowly and quietly backed away, so as to not draw their attention. The three hoped on several other groups for Sasuke to participate, but the Jōnin preferred to talk shinobi bureaucracy, the young ones, like Konohamaru and his were complaining about the academy, some—like Kiba's sister Hana—were mere acquaintances, and the civilians mainly brought up their home lives. In the end, Sasuke simply played shogi against Shikamaru—well, kept losing against Shikamaru—for an hour before leaving.

Haku had noticed Naruto disappearing with Temari for ten minutes, and when they had returned, Temari's cheeks were blushing and she walked with a much more relaxed gait. At another point during the festivities, Karin sensed Naruto and Ino disappear to his room for fifteen minutes, and gasped once she realized what their oscillating chakra meant. When Naruto, alone and cheerful, returned, she sensed that Ino was still in his bed, peacefully asleep with one of Naruto's clones. Jiraiya wanted to follow Naruto when he volunteered to escort Kurenai home, but a combined effort from Karin, Haku, and Anko managed to keep the man from invading their privacy.

Naruto did not come home that night and Karin found herself praying for a little Uzumaki to swell the family.


Overlooking the cliff face of Hokage Rock, with its carved visages of past leaders, many shinobi have gathered atop the wide, tiled roof of the Hokage Tower. The sky above was clear and blue, with a few clouds and the sun shone on each of the deeply etched stone faces of the monument. The large, towering building, with its distinct round red roof and flat top, was surrounded by several other circular, pagoda-style buildings with blue and green roofs.

Tsunade, Jiraiya, Shizune, Karin, Haku, Naruto, Kurenai, Hinata, Ino, Temari, Gaara, and Kankurō stood on one side of the railed platform, facing the giant stone faces. On the other side—facing the far stretch of the village—stood Baki, Iruka, Anko, the rest of Team 7, Team 8, Team 10, Team Guy, and several masked security, either Anbu or Root. Also invited were the Heads of the Hyūga, Yamanaka, Nara, Akimichi, Inuzuka, and Aburame clans.

Underneath his typical orange and black outfit, Naruto was dressed in the white haori Jiraiya had gifted him with the red flames at the hem, the Uzumaki Clan over the heart, and the Fourth Sun, written down the back. Karin wore her black and orange accented haori with the Uzumaki and Leaf emblems over her long-sleeve white shirt and black shorts. Haku, with his hair tied up, wore his navy-blue haori over his light-pink and blue yukata, and Jiraiya chose to wear his usual attire—green kimono and matching pants, hand guards, wooden sandals, and his signature red haori with two yellow circles on each side. Though, everyone gathered was more curious about Kurenai, Temari, Ino, and Hinata's haori.

The four beautiful women wore a light, flowy, thigh-length jacket over their typical shinobi gear, however, all four matched. Their haori were muted orange that progressed to a vivid gold color around their chest and shoulders. The color was sharply contrasted with the black lining of the edges, a black Hidden Leaf emblem on their shoulders, and a black Uzumaki clan emblem over their hearts and on the center of their backs. Their mode of dress left most of the young shinobi wondering if it was mission-related and the older shinobi eager for an explanation.

Hyūga Hiashi was dressed in dignified white dress robes while Yamanaka Inoichi, Nara Shikaku, Akimichi Chōza, Inuzuka Tsume, and Aburame Shibi wore their typical moss green flak jackets over their typical long-sleeved shirts and slacks. As the heads observed Naruto, Hinata, Ino, Temari, and Kurenai behind Tsunade, they all more or less knew that this was about the political wedding. What they didn't know was which kunoichi from Konoha would be marrying Naruto. They all had their reservations about the political marriage to begin with. However, they also understood their duty to their village. Sometimes it could be as unorthodox as it was difficult.

Hiashi expected that the Hokage would pick Hinata. Though his relationship with her was less strained, there was nothing more he could do for her. As clan head, this would also keep Hinata from the seal. Inoichi prayed that it wasn't his Ino and hoped Tsunade would refuse her desire to marry. Neither of the fathers knew that their daughters had already signed the marriage contract.

Looking out at the gathering, Naruto couldn't deny he felt a little nervous. After all, dinners with Ino and Hinata's fathers were scheduled after this, but before leaving for Kumo. There were people here who he desired would support him and his marriage, namely Iruka, Kakashi, Asuma, Hiashi, Inoichi, and even Sasuke. Ultimately, Naruto would still marry the girls if they didn't approve, but he felt their support would make the event mean all the more.

Jiraiya came of his own accord, and when asked by Karin, he answered with a hearty laugh, citing, "There's no way I was going to miss this."

After elbowing her idiot teammate, Tsunade stepped forward and addressed everyone.

"First and foremost, thank you all for coming," Tsunade said to the gathered with a stern and clear voice. "Before we begin, I want everyone here to know they have permission to speak their minds should they have something to say. I summoned you all to alert you of important news, however, this is not so formal of a meeting that you're not allowed to express your thoughts—cuz trust me, you'll have some. All I ask is that you conduct yourselves with some measure or decorum when you speak your piece. Is that clear?"

With the assembled shinobi unanimous, "Hai, Hokage-sama!" Tsunade proceeded with her address, pausing only to consider how best to articulate a wildly uncomfortable announcement. After all, this isn't just any regular political marriage. She was effectively going to announce Konoha's first polygamous marriage with some of the most important kunoichi in their village.

'This job is going to kill me' she despondently thought with a sigh before beginning. "Most of you attended the Uzumaki clan's Induction Ceremony yesterday, so you all know they've been accepted by the village as an official clan. But what you may not have known is that the Uzumaki Clan of Uzushiogakure and the Senju of Konoha share distant blood relations—the wives of the first and fourth Hokage were Uzumaki—and these clans have always kept strong ties. After the founding of Konoha, the Senju symbolized the friendship between clans by adding the Uzumaki clan emblem to the flak jackets many of you are wearing now. We've been close allies for decades, and for them to join our village is a great honor. Now, why is this important? Why gather all of you here for that?"

Tsunade is interrupted by Jiraiya, chuckling to himself, as if he imagined the chaotic outcome of revealing this news. He drew in many eyes as Shizune respectfully pleaded with him to not interrupt. Naruto and Tsunade rolled their eyes at his antics.

Returning her attention to those gathered, Tsunade proclaimed with authority, "We're all here because one term of the recent peace treaty between Suna and Konoha was a marriage… between Temari, the Kazekage's daughter, and the head of the Uzumaki Clan, Uzumaki Naruto."

The younger members of the group immediately stand straighter, more attentive to the information. Many of them—Shikamaru, Sasuke, Neji—simply looked between Naruto and Temari with mild surprise in their eyes. The others—Rock Lee, Chōji, and Kiba—gasped or grunted audibly, completely flabbergasted by the news, and mumbled to themselves, 'Naruto-kun' 'No way' 'That idiot?' Sakura and Tenten already knew, thus paid more attention to everyone else, and Shino didn't have an expression easily seen.

The older members and higher ranks not only eyed Naruto and Temari, but also Kurenai, Ino, and Hinata. Their sharp eyes appeared as if they were quickly assembling the pieces of a whole picture, and judging by their grimaces and concern, they didn't like the image.

Naruto turned to Iruka-sensei, and their eyes connected. To Naruto, Iruka was like the older brother he never had, watching over him, teaching him, knocking some sense into him when he needed it the most. But more than anything, Iruka was one of Naruto's few pillars of hope. No matter how bad his life got, how lonely he felt, Naruto knew that Iruka would always want to see him succeed. That was why it pained Naruto when Iruka didn't look pleased or happy. He looked sad.

Like many gathered, Iruka hadn't expected the news. He'd been so busy with his rehab, recuperation, trying to regain some semblance of his life, to then prepare himself for surgery that could return his ability to walk, he simply hadn't had much time for Naruto. He certainly thought about him often, or when he heard news about his accolades or his clan, but this was beyond his imagination. Not long after learning about Naruto's life, Iruka felt a need to watch out for the blond, and that was such an unexpected joy. Just like he knew Naruto would give his life for Konoha, Iruka would give his life for Naruto. That was why when Naruto looked at him, Iruka felt sadness for missing out on such an important part of his life.

Though, Iruka snapped out of his reprieve when it appeared that Naruto got the wrong impression. Naruto's blue eyes downcasted and his lips pressed together, as if holding back quivering. Iruka rolled his wheelchair over to the blond, and waved his hands in, asking for a hug.

When Naruto leaned down to hug his pseudo-older brother, Iruka said, "Congrats you brat. I'm so happy for you."

Chuckling joyously, Naruto rubbed his back as he gratefully replied, "Thanks, Iruka-sensei."

Kurenai, Temari, Ino, and Hinata, along with Haku and Karin, all smiled happily at the depth of their bond. Looking between Gaara and a happy Naruto, Shino raised his hand before asking, "You mean there is a section in the peace treaty that states Naruto and Temari have to marry?"

Nodding, Tsunade answered, "Correct."

"Why?" Inuzuka Tsume asked with a raised corner of her lips, as if snarling at the idea. "Crap like political marriages to keep the peace between countries don't happen anymore."

Nervousness sets it for the proud daughter of Suna. Temari's body temperature rose uncomfortably, and she felt it in her chest, the moment she should voice her part in their transgression against Konoha. Every detail of this affair up to that point had simply been on paper. Her father, his advisers, and their remaining military shinobi were forced to bow to the Hokage and a contingent of their forces before leaving, but none of them had to actually speak to leaf-nin or provide an explanation for their betrayal. Everyone received the notice that an agreement had been reached. There was a small ceremony, and that's it.

Now was Temari's one chance to voice her transgression, but the anxiousness within her kept her in place. Temari had always been one to speak her mind, afforded to her by the simple fact she was the Kazekage's daughter. However, this was about admitting fault, in front of those she and her countrymen had hurt. It was difficult to feel the courage that was always there. She dropped her head a little in anguish and shame, but then recalled the Uzumaki symbol over her heart.

Assuming the Suna princess wasn't ready, Tsunade spared her that by replying, "That's unnecessary for these proceedings."

However, at the sight of the emblem, Temari instantly felt she'd regret this later if she didn't step forward and publicly admit her folly. Turning to Naruto and wondering how he would feel if she spoke up, he noticed her and simply smiled. With a huff of amusement, she realized, 'Of course. What else would he do but support whatever I decided?'

Temari walked up to the Hokage, thinking to herself how much she enjoyed the freedom of unwavering support, irrespective of her station. Tsunade nodded and stepped aside. Temari cleared her throat, straightened her shoulders, and spoke as fearlessly as she could muster.

"Before our… foolish invasion of your village," Temari began, her voice clear and loud. "I was tasked with negating Naruto's obvious strength. Many here will know what infiltration missions can be like. I needed to get close to him in a convincing manner, so I—along with my father, the Kazekage—created an official marriage contract that everyone, including the Hokage, signed."

Raising his hand, Chōji asked with a small level of disbelief, "And you still want to marry him?"

"More like he wants to marry her!" Kiba joked. "I doubt he'd get a girl otherwise!"

"And you'd be wrong," Temari easily directed at the smirking Kiba, who was taken aback by her. She addressed everyone again, stating with genuine sincerity, "I won't forget the hows and whys that led me here, but now that I am, I'm happy for it."

Temari returned to her place beside her sister-wives and Tsunade returned to addressing her soldiers, saying, "There, now you know."

Growing more annoyed than he cared to admit—partly because he had a wild theory in his head, but also because it involved his teammate—Shikamaru had to ask, "Why are all of them wearing Uzumaki coats?"

After another sigh, Tsunade continued, "Due to political circumstances, but more specifically because of the unique structure of the marriage contract that Temari had proposed… Naruto will also be marrying a girl from Konoha."

The air around the younger and uninformed shinobi was instantly electrified with astonishment as most of them became rigid with disbelief. Shock flashed across all of their faces, from Sasuke all the way up to Tsume-san and Iruka-sensei, their stupefied eyes darting between Naruto and all three Konoha kunoichi, as if trying to grapple with an inconceivability of such a union—especially with someone like Naruto. Rock Lee, Chōji, and Kiba were even more visibly shaken than before, trembling with disbelief. Their gasps and grunts pierced the sudden silence, murmuring—'Naruto-kun… your youth,' and 'That idiot?'

Iruka whipped his head to Naruto, eying the mildly embarrassed blond in sheer shock, of which Naruto avoided direct eye contact, chuckling sheepishly. Anko was chuckling silently to herself, thoroughly entertained, while Jiraiya was laughing like a loon, jotting so much of what he was witnessing in a notebook. Of everyone, only Sakura, Tenten, Kakashi, Shizune, Hiashi, and Inoichi knew, thus they didn't react as dramatically.

Glaring at Naruto indignantly, Kiba yelled, "Unforgivable!" illustrating a rigid X by crossing his forearms. He then pointed a stern finger at the blond and demanded to know, "Why the hell's he get to have two wives?!"

"Yeah!" Jiraiya loudly added. Turning to Naruto with a twinkling hunger in his eyes, he demanded, "Tell us every detail!" He raised his pen and notebook, ready to write.

Naruto could only return the most exasperated look of disbelief. Tsunade glared at her idiot teammate, threatening his well-being with the promise of pain if he didn't stop. Jiraiya gave her a tight smile before stepping back, though still keeping his pen and notebook out.

Returning her attention to the group, she answered, "We offered the role of first wife to the daughters of honored Konoha clans, Hyūga Hinata, and Yamanaka Ino."

Many turned to them. Neji's sharp eyes turned to Hiashi, who increasingly furrowed brows, making the lines around his mouth more pronounced. A smirking Shikaku consoled the queasy-looking Inoichi with a stiff pat on the shoulder while Choza, grinning with a hint of sympathy, shoulder-checked him good-naturedly.

"Wait!" Kiba yelled, utterly incapable of remaining calm. He pointed at Naruto again as he asked his leader, "You're saying he gets to marry the Kazekage's daughter AND either Ino-chan or Hinata?"

At Tsunade's tired expression, Tsume smacked Kiba's head before speaking, "Apologies, Hokage-sama."

Nodding, she continued, "The unique structure of the marriage contract—that was, again, signed by the leaders of both countries—states that Naruto is permitted to marry multiple wives—up to nine, if he wished."

"This is crazy! The Dead Last-" Kiba's hot criticism was cut short with another whack from his mother. "Ow! Alright! Alright."

Shino asked, "And his choice?"

Tsunade inhaled deeply, mumbling to herself with heavy sarcasm, "Ooohh, this is going to be fun," before clearing her throat, and proclaiming, "Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Naruto had also been seeing Yūhi Kurenai… romantically."

Apart from Sakura, Kakashi, and those on Naruto's side, a wave of shock rolled through the gathered ninja, leaving every pair of eyes wide and fixed on Kurenai. From the stoic Shino to the venerable Hiashi, there was a collective struggle to comprehend the revelation—as if the words 'Naruto,' 'Kurenai,' and 'romantic' were causing their brains to short circuit. The idea that Uzumaki Naruto, a sixteen-year-old Chūnin with a terrible reputation, could be linked romantically with the stunning Yūhi Kurenai, a woman of such esteem that most men understood she was out of their league, was inconceivable.

And yet, amid their wide-eyed, incredulous stares, Kurenai stood unshaken. There was no facade, no emotional barricade needed to protect against their biased perception. Her demeanor was one of acceptance and serene indifference to their scandalized gazing. Kurenai easily recalled how she had always dreaded this moment—those very looks—but she had never once expected that her love for Naruto would also be such a source of courage. Her relationship with Naruto was stronger than the judgment of her peers and transformed this once-dreaded moment into a mere footnote in her decision to be with him.

More importantly, she focused on Shino and Kiba. She instantly knew Kiba would doubt what he had heard before feeling betrayed, and then angry at that. He would act out loudly with hostility since it didn't align with his worldview. But she also knew he could forgive and forget so long as everyone involved was genuinely happy. Shino may be confused for a moment, curious for another moment, mildly upset at being left out, but ultimately okay with the situation, so long as all involved put a great deal of thought behind their decision.

Turning to his commanding officer, the woman who led their team, Shino could only think to ask, "… Kurenai-sensei?"

Far more shocked and appalled, Kiba shouted, "My sensei and my Ino?!"

"I'm not yours!" an irate Ino yelled back.

Stepping forward to address the obvious curiosity they all had in their eyes, Kurenai clearly asserted, "Only close friends were aware, but yes, Naruto and I began a relationship many months ago that was initially platonic, but eventually became romantic."

Shocked by the confirmation, there was groaning and grumbling among the gathered. Sasuke even eyed Naruto in complete shock, to which Naruto couldn't help but wink at the Uchiha. Disoriented by the scandalous news, the gathered mumbled disapproval until Guy spoke up and asked, "So… is the young Naruto-kun m-marrying K-K-Kurenai?!"

Unable to contain his bubbling joy, they all heard a giddy Jiraiya squeal, "HHHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" However, at the intimidating sight of Tsunade glaring at him with clenched fists, he immediately jumped behind Shizune to hide from the Senju's growing ire.

With a heavy sigh, Tsunade returned her attention to the group and answered, "I can't possibly fathom the perfect storm of events that happened for four different women to meet in this kind of scenario, but against all odds, all three of the Konoha kunoichi you see in front of you have agreed to be Naruto's wives. So… there it is."

The news landed like a thunderclap, leaving a stunned silence and widened eyes in its wake. As if on cue, all faces young, old, and everything in between turned to Naruto, eyes bulging with incredulous and visceral shock. The information shared seemed to push them beyond reason. From an instinctual level, the absurd revelation seemed to threaten them to their very core, triggering a primal alarm and a need to fight back. Like anything in nature being attacked, the gathered—no matter their esteemed station—yelled their righteous indignation. In a bid to avoid pain, they yelled—even Hiashi—for this union to be terminated immediately.

"Settle down and act like adults or so help me I'll clear this roof!" Tsunade bellowed.

However, their disfavor couldn't be so easily dismissed. Nearly all of them were clamoring for answers to their questions from Tsunade, Kurenai, or Ino, and that irked Naruto to see. The way the heads of clans surrounded Tsunade, the way Jōnins felt a need to hear Kurenai explain herself, or the way the other genin were insisting Ino or Hinata answer their questions… The sight of all of their unanimous calls to dissolve this marriage irritated Naruto to no end. The blond Uzumaki moved to the forefront, his own temper flaring, ready to yell back at the tide of objections, but the crowd of important or high-ranking ninja were relentless and none would listen to him.

Hiashi demanded, "How can you let this happen, Hokage-sama?"

"Why could you approve of this?" Tsume asked Tsunade.

"Is this what you wanted?" Asuma asked Kurenai.

"What's he done to you?" Choji asked Ino.

"Isn't this too much, Hinata-sama? How is this not another cage?" Neji asked Hinata.

"Shouldn't we check them out at the hospital?" Shikamaru asked his father.

"What does he have that I don't!" Kiba demanded of Ino. "Yeah, he's a little stronger, but I'll get even stronger, eventually!"

"RAARF!" Akamaru barked in agreement.

Each of them seemed more invested in validating their own disagreement rather than hearing out the origin of the unfolding drama, and it was only making Naruto furious. His knee-jerk reaction was to yell at all of them how irrelevant their opinions were, but like a buzzing idea in his head, he didn't feel that would be enough for this—not these shinobi, who all have a personal connection with one of his wives. No, Naruto needed more.

Rather than attempting to shout above the rising cacophony of dissent, he closed his eyes and retreated into the serene, white sanctuary within him. Here, he reached out his hand toward the enormous globule of ethereal energy above him. The enormity of Kurama's pure chakra flowed toward the extended hand, seeking to be used to its fullest.

As the gathered shinobi pressed their tirade on Tsunade and Naruto's future wives, the Jinchūriki tapped into this mammoth amount of power and the sudden explosion of energy washed over the dissenters like a tsunami, immediately silencing every soul standing on that roof. Those too close backed away from the blond, staring in awe as massive amounts of energy continued rolling off of him in waves, pushing incessantly against all of their senses. None could believe the transformation they were witnessing.

To their amazement, the Uzumaki standing before them was enveloped in a radiant, golden chakra, illuminating the surrounding area like a grand bonfire. Two locks of Naruto's golden hair dramatically rose like horns atop of his head. Around his neck, six black magatama markings emerged like the collar of a shirt, but most striking was the prominent circular swirl design that manifested over his stomach, a symbol that resembled the Uzumaki clan. Various other lines extended along his body—black as the magatama markings—and created a sharp contrast against the golden glow of his form.

The golden, powerful state of Naruto's Kurama Chakra Mode—a clear display of overwhelming strength—didn't just shut them all up. It made some like Sasuke and Kiba angry and jealous. It excited others, like Sakura and Tenten. It made a few competitive, like Rock Lee and Neji. But the sight also made several proud, like Guy, Iruka, and Kakashi.

When Naruto finally had their undivided attention, he asked, with fire in his eyes, "Almost eight months ago, when I was yelling from the rooftops that I was going to be the best damn Hokage anyone's ever seen, did any of you believe me?!"

For several moments, the shinobi gathered were speechless, only focused on their bafflement. Though Naruto was angry, there was clear composure to his ire. His intense glare swept across the dissenters, but none truly felt their lives were in jeopardy. Naruto demanded their attention, and like his usual characteristic flair, the blond boy went over the top to take it.

Moving past the young man's powerful form, Hiashi began to say, "That's got nothing to do with-"

"It's got everything to do with it!" Naruto yelled back. "After seeing what I've done in the exams or in the invasion—everything I worked so hard to be able to do—who thinks I'm going to be the number one hokage now?"

Looking at the flickering chakra of his golden shroud, none could be sure he wouldn't reach such a lofty goal, since the power rolling off of him was already Kage level.

Understanding the meaning behind his words, Inoichi replied, "This isn't the same thing."

Slamming his golden fist against his chest, just over his heart, he declared, "I said I was going to be the best damn Hokage because I knew—in my heart—there was nothing anyone could say or do that would take that away from me. Nothing!"

Shikamaru's father asked, "And now what? You think you're going to be the best hokage and husband? To four wives?"

"No!" Naruto easily hurled back. "I wouldn't even know what that looks like. There isn't a single example of a relationship like that here. I have no clue how this is going to work. But I do know this; just like I know I'm going to be the best Hokage this village—this world—has ever seen… I know I'll love them with absolutely everything I am. Whether I'm their husband or not, I'll always want the best for them. And if I'm lucky enough to be the man they choose to be with, I'll make sure they absolutely NEVER regret it."

A moment of silence descends on the rooftop, a moment to absorb the palpable intensity from his eyes. Anyone who knew Naruto knew he meant his words with every fiber of his being. And those that didn't know were learning that.

Naruto continued, "So if all of you don't like this—don't like me—if you want to complain, if you think this shouldn't happen, I don't care! Because I follow my heart! I did it when none of you believed me, and I'm going to keep doing it now!"

Silence. The only thought any of them could collectively agree on is that Naruto was going to be Naruto, no matter how upsetting that can be.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, Kurenai stepped forward and reminded everyone, "I would just like to add that there's only one reason why this would not be proper, and that's if none of us loved each other. I realize this type of union isn't common—I also realize we'll face many challenges ahead—but don't think, for one moment, that we're making this decision lightly. Each of us has had plenty of time and opportunity to think about this…" Eying Asuma, Kurenai finished, "And this is what we want."

Temari stepped forward and added, "While we would appreciate your support, we also understand if you're unable to do so. All we ask is that you refrain from belittling or dismissing us as if we're crazy, under some form of jutsu, or incapable of loving the same man, because that couldn't be further from the truth. I've seen how far Naruto is willing to go for those he cares about. I know how hard he fights to overcome, and I'll gladly place my faith in him."

Stepping forward, Ino told them, "Anyone from our class knows how many girls were chasing Uchiha Sasuke."

As she spoke, several heads turned toward Sasuke, who was both surprised by the subject matter of the meeting and suddenly being singled out. He naturally ignored everyone watching him. Sakura, specifically, cast a subtle glance at the onyx-haired avenger, effortlessly recalling how blindly she once loved him—how infatuated she was. Though she still felt a strong tether of attachment toward the last Uchiha, she was acutely aware of the dangers of her obsession, which always upset her to recall.

Ino pressed on, "He's handsome, strong, the last of a world-renown family, and all the girls wanted him. If, for whatever reason, there was some way for the last Uchiha to have multiple wives, would any of you be bitching this hard?! All of you have a problem with Naruto, and I know that because I used to be the same. But I was wrong! I know better now. I'm lucky enough to be among the first to see Naruto for who he really is, and accept him, not just as a shinobi, but as the man I love. You don't have to like this. Go ahead and hate it if you want, but you'd only be opposed to something you have no understanding of."

Hinata took several breaths and looked over to a stern-faced Naruto. As ever, he gave her the courage to do what she's never confident to do. Despite how many are gathered, despite her reserved nature, the princess-like beauty stepped forward as well.

"I knew Naruto was amazing since I was seven-years-old," she began, her voice carrying a gentle strength. "He fought three bullies who were bigger and older than us, just to stop them from hurting me—a stranger to him. After that, every time I witnessed anyone make fun of him, bully him, or ignore him, he only reinforced what I would come to believe with all my heart… He's a good and caring person who'll never let anything stop him." She can already feel the warm tears under her lids warm her white eyes. "He's so free, not just because he's strong, but because he believes in himself, harder than anyone I've ever seen. If you shinobi have ever explained Konoha's Will of Fire to others, or heard about it from others, there's no better example of that than Uzumaki Naruto. No matter what, he won't quit… and neither will I."

As Hinata's gaze tentatively looked toward Naruto, she found herself locked in his deeply affectionate stare. The warmth and love radiating from his eyes, the overwhelming tenderness was so intense that they caught her off guard. Hinata's emotions burst through her like a steam explosion and a deep shade of crimson spread from her face down to her toes in a wave of bashful red.

Flustered by this unexpected and intimate moment, she rushed back to her original spot beside Ino and tried her best to compose herself, drawing in slow, deep breaths. Attempting to compose her racing heart and fluttering in the pit of her stomach that Naruto's loving gaze ignited within her was a silent battle she prayed others wouldn't notice.

None could argue that Hinata's cuteness rolled off her like Naruto's power rolled off of him.

With a small, mildly impressed smile, Tsunade said, "There you have it. If any of you have more to say on the topic, save it. I've got a packed day of mind-numbing meetings. Team Guy, Team 7, Team 8, and Team 10—in my office. The rest, you're dismissed."

Every shinobi present stood at attention as she left them.


In the sun-drenched circular room, clearly meant for work of vital importance to an entire village and nation, four teams of four, the Hokage, and her adviser were in a cluttered office overtaken by paperwork. The sun cast a warm glow on the stacks of documents, scrolls, and files that covered nearly every surface, teetering on the brink of falling. Cardboard boxes, likely filled with archives or yet-to-be-sorted materials, were strewn haphazardly around the room. Even the surface of the large wooden desk near the wall of windows had miniature mountains of paperwork, save for a desk calendar, a desk organizer that held pens and brushes, and a solitary flask, probably filled with water—probably.

Tsunade sat at her grand desk, the panorama windows behind her offering a sweeping view of the village as she signed all documents Shizune placed in front of her. Her soldiers stood at attention as she said, "You've all been selected for a mission of grave importance. Kakashi will be your mission leader. Kakashi."

As she returned to signing a never-ending amount of documents, Naruto was once again reminded of how much he disliked this aspect of the job. However, he expected to get used to it. He was already learning so much from Karin, Haku, and through running their clan's businesses and property.

"Hai, Hokage-sama," the Copy-Ninja said stepping before the gathered. "Our assignment will be a diplomatic escort mission to Kumogakure."

"Client?" Asuma asked.

"No client," Kakashi answered. "At least, not in the traditional sense. We will be escorting Naruto and his fiancées to meet the Raikage and discuss their desire to join the Omiai."

In a formal meeting, with the Hokage present, none could easily protest as they had on the rooftop. Thus, the only sound of disbelief and protest came from Kiba's cracking knuckles from tightening his fists.

"You've got to be kidding me," Asuma replied.

"It's not quite as it sounds," Kakashi reassured the group. "For those that don't know, before the Chūnin exams, Team 7 went on an escort mission to Wave. During that assignment, Naruto fought and defeated Momochi Zabuza—a famous Kiri assassin and member of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist."

Chuckling, Naruto jubilantly raised his hands and waved around peace signs.

"Upon his defeat, Zabuza gave Naruto Kubikiribōchō," Kakashi continued. "It was that famous sword that brought interested parties from Kumo here. Upon witnessing Naruto's strength, these cloud-nin tried to get him to defect. It didn't work, but Naruto had the forethought to tell them about the Omiai."

"For what reason?" Guy asked.

"We're going to Kumo under the guise of discussing the Omiai, but in truth, we need to go there so that Naruto can make contact with both of their Jinchūriki," Kakashi answered them. "Many of you in this room were told that Naruto was special because he was born with two chakras, but in truth, he's actually the Jinchūriki of the Nine-Tailed Fox."

Stunned at the news, Kiba easily exclaimed, "That's why he's got so much power!"

"Naruto needs as much power to combat the Kyūbi's strength," Kurenai informed Kiba.

To her surprise, Kiba didn't look at her. Kurenai thought he would've, but he simply hunched his shoulders and stared ahead. Kurenai understood and accepted his behavior. She would accept all of their behavior that wasn't violent or disrespectful. After hearing such news, it was their prerogative.

After a thoughtful groan, Asuma asked, "Why the face-to-face with their Jinchūriki?"

"For the moment, that information is restricted—strictly need-to-know," Kakashi spoke.

"How dangerous are we talking here?" Asuma responded.

"This is categorized as an A-Rank mission," their team lead answered. "But the potential danger can exceed that."

"S-Rank?" Guy gasped, surprised by the designation and thinking of involving genin. "If it's so dangerous, why include our cute little genin?"

"It needs to appear legitimate," Kurenai reasoned. "If Naruto and the Omiai candidates are surrounded by our top shinobi, it's as if we're admitting we don't trust them. Any little thing has the potential to provoke a diplomatic incident."

"Even still, we can use Chūnin," Asuma argued back.

"Mnnn… Normally, I'd agree with you," Kakashi replied to the gruff Jōnin as he subtly eyed both Kurenai and Asuma. "But honestly, there isn't a single team I can surround Naruto and Omiai candidates with that would be stronger than Naruto himself. With that in mind, I thought this would be a good learning experience, even with the high degree of danger."

"And if Kumo ambushes us with their Jinchūriki?" Asuma asked. "They have their orders. I can't imagine they'll want to stop and have a chat with Naruto."

"They will," Naruto assured the room.

"How can you be sure?" Asuma asked, with a slight edge in his voice.

Before the blond can answer, Tsunade voiced from behind stacks of papers, "Classified."

Asuma and the others had no choice but to accept that was the only answer they were going to get. Though it was upsetting, they were ninja first, thus accepting their edict.

Kakashi continued, "Your assignments: Asuma, Shikamaru, and Chōji; you guard Ino. Kiba, Shino, and Sakura; you three guard Hinata. I have Kurenai. Sasuke, you're on Naruto. And Team Guy, you guard Temari. My second in command will be Guy. If we're ambushed and the threat is substantial, you all take your charge and retreat to specified locations. If escape is compromised, Naruto, myself, and if need be, Guy will hold them off while the rest withdraw. In a scenario like that, Asuma will be in charge. Any questions?"

Kiba shot his hand right up, and Kakashi hesitated to call on him since he felt it wasn't going to be a pertinent question.

When the Copy-Ninja nodded, Kiba asked, "So, to be clear, Naruto isn't getting more wives?"

"No," Kakashi answered, causing Kiba to groan in relief. "Any other questions?"

Ino raised her hand, and at Kakashi's nod, she asked, "Do we know who the Kumo candidates are?"

"The two-"

"Two!" Kiba gasped, glaring at Naruto with a fiery passion. Naruto simply rolled his blue eyes in response.

After a long sigh, Kakashi continued, "The two kunoichi they named were Mabui and Samui—both Jōnin. One is the secretary of the Raikage and the other is the daughter of one of their noble clans."

With heavy sarcasm, Ino mumbled to herself, though loud enough for all to hear, "Nothing but the best, I guess."

Kakashi looked around and asked, "Any more questions?"

Shikamaru raised his hand, and with Kakashi's nod, he asked, "In the event that we actually make it to Kumo, and Naruto talks with their Jinchūriki, if things go south, what's our exit strategy in the middle of enemy territory?"

"As this is a diplomatic mission, it wouldn't be wise for the Raikage to do anything too severe, as it could dissuade other nations from conducting business with them," Kakashi began to explain. "However, as our objective is their Jinchūriki, we can expect the full might of their military power to come down on us if things break down."

When Kakashi took several seconds to think of the best answer, Asuma begged to know, "…So? What's the protocol in that situation?"

Understanding why Kakashi was hesitating, Tsunade's voice rose over the stacks of papers to assert, "It's a gamble. We need to hope that the confidential conversation Naruto needs to have with their Jinchūriki will outweigh the Raikage's immediate and hostile response."

"This mission is being assigned to each of you and we're placing a significant amount of trust in your ability, but if anyone here feels certain they wouldn't be able to accept, speak now. I promise you it's nothing to be ashamed of."

None of the Jōnin-sensei eyed each other or their students, but most of the genin who weren't searching within themselves for an answer, were looking around to see who'd quit. Not unlike the first task of the Chūnin exam, Naruto just smiled confidently and crossed his arms, as if certain none of them would. After several moments of silence, Kakashi nodded in satisfaction.

"As far as worst-case scenarios," Kakashi began. "The very second everything starts crashing down, every genin here, plus Temari-chan, are under strict orders to reach Naruto—no ifs, ands, or buts."

"Why? How's he supposed to get us all out better than our Jōnin-sensei?" Chōji asked.

Recalling one of Naruto's many abilities, Sakura snorted before answering, "Because he's the son of the Fourth."

Sasuke understood what that meant, but didn't want to elaborate, and Shikamaru figured it out quickly. He gasped and looked at Naruto before asking, "Really?"

Naruto grinned with the utmost conviction, but before he could teleport away, likely, to Ichiraku's for a bowl of ramen to bring back, Tsunade expected as much, and yelled, "Don't!"

Kakashi hurried them along to ask, "Anything else?"

Mildly annoyed that he couldn't show off, Naruto asked, "When do we leave?"

"We'll meet at the North gate in an hour," Kakashi answered. Team 7 bristled when their sensei added, "Don't be late."

With nothing else, Tsunade voiced, "Good luck. Dismissed."


An hour and fifteen minutes later, Naruto, Gaara, and Kankurō were sprinting from rooftop to rooftop as fast as they can to get to the North gate. Naruto could've used his haraishin to get the three of them there, but they still would've been late and he also didn't want to expend a large amount of chakra unnecessarily just to bring them to a place they could run in three minutes.

When the three landed in front of the sizable gathering of ninja, Sakura yelled, "You're late! Even Kakashi-sensei got here before you."

Under the towering gates of the village's north exit, Team 7, 8, 10, Team Guy, Temari, Baki, Karin, and Haku were gathered, waiting on the last member of the mission. As Naruto, Gaara, and Kankurō met them, the gate's tall, red double doors were open, showing the dense forest and mountains that lay beyond.

"Sorry, sorry," Naruto told everyone.

Like himself, Team 7, 8, 10, Team Guy, and Temari were all dressed in the same tan traveling cloaks, made to withstand the challenges of every kind of weather. Of everyone, Kiba was the only one openly glaring at him, the disbelief of the morning's announcement still on his mind. Chōji and Shikamaru were observing him strangely, as if they weren't sure about who they were looking at—certainly not the Dead Last of their class. Rock Lee and Guy-sensei greeted him warmly with passionate thumbs-ups, while Neji and Sasuke observed him passively.

Eying her brothers, Temari voiced, "You better have a good reason why you nearly missed seeing your sister off."

"Excuse us for helping out your husband!" Kankurō returned, as he handed Naruto the medium-sized box he'd been carrying.

Though she wanted to maintain an air of eminence—to be taken seriously—the notion that she had a husband made pleasant emotions blossom within her. Temari was now a married woman, and she also did adult things during parties with a highly experienced man. At the vivid memories of Naruto between her legs the previous night, Temari actually scrunched her face at the blush spreading from her neck to her cheeks. She couldn't stop the clear happiness on her face, just like she couldn't stop Kankurō from annoying her with his taunting grin.

"Shut up!" she hollered back, focusing her attention on her husband.

Curious, Ino eyed the black box as she asked, "What's that?"

"You remember when we met Baa-chan over a week ago?" Naruto asked her as he set the box down.

"She's going to hit you if you don't stop calling her that," Sakura remarked as Ino answered, "Yeah."

"Well, it was kinda bugging me that we're married, but also not at the same time," Naruto continued.

"I'm going to hurl," Kiba yelled. "I'm seriously going to throw up my entire stomach-"

"You wouldn't smell any better, Dog Breath!" Naruto hurled back.

"Can we get a little privacy?" Kurenai asked everyone not involved. "Please," she added for Kiba's benefit.

Though a few in the group seemed irked by the request, many kindly did so, leaving behind Naruto, Temari, Ino, Hinata, and Kurenai. Eying the five from a distance, the familiar sense of feeling left out settled into Sakura's heart. Though she obviously couldn't join them, she was still one of the few that had sex with Naruto, and with every day that passes, she can't help but miss it… miss him.

"Like I was saying," Naruto continued. "I thought, I want to feel more connected and then it hit me!" he finished with a grin. Squatting to open the black box, Naruto explained, "I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before, but even if we're not all living together yet, I think this will show how much each of you mean to me."

After opening the case, he stood up with four smaller boxes—one red, one purple, one white, and one tan—the size a ring would fit in. Ino gasped immediately. Temari raised her brows in surprise, while Hinata placed a hand over her heart and tried to remain calm. Kurenai just smiled happily, content with him and her marriage, despite how unacceptable it may be to others.

"Um, since we don't have a lot of ryō just yet- ah! But I'm sure that'll change soon," he hastily added, afraid they might think he wasn't trying hard enough—not that any of the girls thought that. "Even though I didn't have a lot of ryō, I still wanted to get you all something unique, because even if you're my wives, you're not the same. You're you, and you should have something that says that, right? So I asked Kankurō for help-"

"Really?!" Temari interrupted. "Kankurō?"

Smiling, he nodded before saying, "Don't open them yet." Naruto extended the red box to Kurenai, the purple to Ino, the white to Hinata, and the tan to Temari, as he explained, "I thought, since he's good at making puppets, he might be good at making rings."

They each held a box, and Naruto faced Hinata first. Her hands trembled as he opened it to reveal one of the most beautiful rings they had ever seen. Each girl gasped at the highly decorative design of the professional setting, and though they all thought the sizable gemstone at the center was extremely pretty, one girl nearly choked.

Hinata's engagement ring was elegantly crafted from lustrous white silver. Its band gracefully arched into an intricate display of lotus petals, each detailed line and curve capturing the essence of the sacred flower. Nestled at the heart of this pure flower was a captivating pink gemstone, its cut glinting with a soft, rosy light.

As they all appreciated her ring, Naruto expressed, "Hinata, as I'm getting to know you better, there's like one constant thing I think about. You're just so lovable and pure. You're just about the purest person I've ever met. So, I went with a whitish ring and Lotus petals."

Hinata swooned, every inch of her beautiful pale skin, blushing a deep shade of red. Naruto then opened Temari's box. The Suna princess's ring was made of light gold, a hue reminiscent of the first light of dawn. Sculpted and polished into the gold of the band was Sunagakure's Yellow Prickly Pear Cactus Flower, and at its core lay a pink gemstone, mirroring the hues of the rings desert-like color.

"Guh!" Ino gasped at the sight of it, her eyes bulging.

Naruto took that to mean she liked it, and smiled as he expressed, "Temari, you're from the desert, but you're more than just tough enough to survive. When we're together, I can feel how caring and devoted you are, to your family as much as your village. So, I asked Kankurō to use the prettiest flower that grows in the dessert. The Yellow Prickly Pear Flower isn't just beautiful, but it's also strong, and enduring, just like you."

With eyes so wide, Naruto actually feared Ino might pull a muscle in her face, he cautiously opened the Yamanaka's ring box, and she instantly squeaked at the sight of it. Ino's ring was lustrous silver, and the band's lighter hue was etched with an exquisitely crafted array of feathers that seemed to curl around a pink gemstone—clear and shimmering against the feathery embrace.

She was speechless as he said with love in his voice, "Ino, you're one of the most confident and daring girls I've ever met. You love to have fun. You love life, and you never apologize for it. Sometimes when I look at you, you make me think, 'Wow, this girl is just awesome!' I came up with feathers because of Tora-chan, and just like her, you're beautiful and free."

Turning to face one of the most important loves of his life, Naruto opened Kurenai's red box, displaying a wedding ring that was made of rose gold, etched with lifelike detail of rose petals all around the band, as if plucked from a midsummer garden, and at its center—like the other rings—was a rich pink gemstone that mirrored the hues of the rose gold it was set in.

Looking deep into her eyes, Naruto declared, "Kurenai, more than your love of teaching, when I look at you, all I can think about is a bright future, of friends, of family, of love. There's so much of it that I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you—with each of you," he added, turning to them as well.

Shaking her head as she gazed at her enchanting ring, Kurenai gasped, "If we weren't in public…" the indication was clear.

"Agreed, agreed, very much agreed," a blushing Temari added enthusiastically, fanning herself.

Hinata was blushing red, and wobbled on her feet, as if ready to pass out, but nodded.

Of the four, Ino was the only one looking at them like they were crazy. She yelled at the top of her lungs, "HAVE EACH OF YOU LOST YOUR MINDS!"

Taken aback by her outburst, everyone turned to her, registering her expression of genuine shock and awe. Some of the other ninja gathered moved closer to hear better or see the rings.

"What happened? She didn't like it?" a tired Kankurō asked. Irritated in a flash, he quickly added before anyone could even respond, "You know how hard I worked on those?!"

"Hey! I helped too," Naruto rebuked. "You would've taken a month if not for my Fūinjutsu!" Turning to the girls, he proudly boasted, "I had to create a heating pad and polishing-

"STOP! STOP! STOP!" Ino yelled, drawing a lot of concern from everyone. "Sakura!"

Though hesitant, Sakura neared her childhood friend, and Ino extended the ring box toward her. At the sight of the exquisite ring, Sakura swooned, moaning, "Awwwwwe, that's so- GUAH!" She grunted once she got a better look at the pink gem. Staring wide-eyed between the ring and Ino, then the ring and Naruto, Sakura screamed, "Is that…?!"

With a huff, Ino rubbed her forehead as she replied with disbelief, "Kami, I think it is…"

"What is going on?" Temari slowly asked her sister-wife. "You're not making any sense… and honestly, kind of ruining the moment."

Turning to Kurenai, Ino said, "I'm surprised you don't know. Haven't you looked at wedding rings before?"

Eying everyone that had gathered with the exception of Asuma, Kurenai came to the realization that something was amiss. Returning her attention to Ino, she answered, "I have, but… well, there was only one man… I didn't think it was a good idea to rush into anything, so I didn't research too deeply. Is a pink gemstone significant?"

Momentarily forgetting about decorum, Sakura argued, "It's not just a pink gemstone, like Rose Quartz or, Kami forbid, Pink Spinel."

With mounting disbelief, Ino turned to Naruto and asked, "Where did you get this? You said you didn't have ryō to buy a ring. But even if you just bought the gemstone—a pink diamond! These stones are like the royalty of the gem world! This shade-"

"Vivid pink with exceptional clarity!" Sakura quickly interjected, the diamond super-up-close to her eye.

"This carat-" Ino continued.

"Minimum ten!" Sakura hastily added, free-weighing it in her hand.

"That's gotta be worth… at least…" Ino began to speculate, only to pause as she tried to recall the global market. Everyone was now huddled around, having heard everything Ino had said. They waited with bated breath until the pinkette gasped.

"F-F-F-Four hundred million ryō!" Sakura gasped, sending a wave of shock and awe through the group. Karin gasped deeply from her gut and suddenly felt woozy and disoriented.

"Wait, it's pink," Temari asserted. "I've seen diamonds. The expensive ones are all big and clear."

"Pink diamonds are the rarest in the world," Ino explained. "You don't see them in markets because only the Daimyō, their wives, and wealthiest tradesmen have them."

Looking at Ino and Sakura with skepticism, as if wondering why kunoichi would be so into jewelry, the Suna girl asked, "How do you know this?"

"You don't think we fantasized about what ring Sas- our future husband would propose with?" Sakura returned, regretting her near slip-up. "Plus, my father is a tradesman. He deals with all sorts of goods and merchandise."

Focusing on her husband, Ino asked with some measure of exasperation, "Naruto, where did you get this diamond?"

Twenty-one pairs of eyes all descend on Naruto for an explanation, who had simply been trying to absorb the surprising news.

Slowly, as if overwhelmed by the mounting pressure to answer correctly, Naruto replied, "Uh, well, I wanted a pretty stone, but like I said, I couldn't afford anything at the markets. Then I thought I could try looking for some. Obviously, they're, like, buried, so I used Fūinjutsu to create a gemstone detector."

Many of the girls know Naruto well enough by now that he gets a particular expression on his face when he's about to enter into his hefty bag of Fūinjutsu knowledge. His face relaxes, and he gets a glint in his eye, like a light had been turned on behind them.

When Naruto details, "All I needed was an example of the electromagnetic properties and thermal conductivity of a gem—really interesting stuff—so I picked the crystal from Tsunade-baachan's necklace. I made a bunch of clones and we ran all around the forest and mountain, using chakra to enhance the range of the electromagnetic field, so it went super deep. Then I got a hit. I found a few, but I thought, 'girls like pink,' so I went with that and gave it to Kankurō to cut and stuff."

Karin smacked her forehead and Haku only smiled proudly as Sakura gripped Naruto's shoulder and pleaded to know, "There's more?!"

At the same time, Temari turned to her brother and quickly asked, "How much is left?!"

Now Kankurō looked fearful, but answered, "Uh, I don't know. A couple chunks, I guess. There was enough for seven or so rings." Suddenly recalling his payment, Kankurō pointed at Naruto and yelled, "He said I could have some!"

"Mah, now, let's all take a breath and calm down," Kakashi cut in. "I'd like to remind you we're on a mission." Turning to Naruto and his wives, he added, "Considering the cover of this mission, I'll only permit you to wear them once we reach Kumogakure. Until then, they stay stored."

"He's right. We should get going," Naruto declared. Turning to the girls, he asked, "But you do like it, right?"

Ino immediately hugged Naruto, heaving a screeching gasp from Kiba. Temari, Kurenai, and Hinata quickly followed. "Are you kidding," Ino replied. "This is actually too much to take!"

"Please keep the rings," Naruto begged, hugging them back. "I don't want this to be like that flower all over again."

When they pulled apart, Karin stepped forward to ask, "Can you leave a clone? The Uzumaki clan has to jump on this right now! We need to expand right away!"

"Can you use my dad?" Sakura asked. "He has a ton of contacts that can help you."

Karin nodded with a smirk.

As many of them began walking out of the gate, Naruto hugged Karin and told her, "About that guy we want to help, you can tell him and Baachan about the chains. I still don't want you to offer your arm to anybody, but if the chains can help, we should try."

Naruto hadn't expected Karin to hug him tighter, but enjoyed it. He hugged Haku next, saying, "Take care of our home."

"Of course," Haku softly replied, enjoying the embrace.

As Naruto back-peddled toward his departing team, he said, "Karin, you're in charge."

"Be safe!" she yelled after him.

He created a clone for her before disappearing to his team. Naruto was on a mission to rescue his fellow Jinchūriki, confront the formidable Madara, and, above all else, save Naru-nii. The path ahead of him was shrouded in uncertainty. He couldn't be certain of what he would face or what truths he would come to discover. However, he had absolute faith he'll do everything humanly capable of protecting those he loves, and vowed with every fiber of his being that he will stop the Infinite Tsukuyomi from ever happening.

Any mistakes, let me know. Unlike COA, I don't have beta readers here. And this was a big chapter.

Fellow fanfic readers, I must regretfully inform you that The Last Prayer is GOING ON HIATUS. Sorry. But I feel I left it off in a good spot. The reason for the hiatus is simple and two-fold. One, I'm tired of being broke. And by broke, I mean I'm one car accident or serious health issue away from being worried about paying bills. I'm about to reach middle age and this paycheck to paycheck/trading my finite time for money at a meaningless job isn't cutting it anymore. I need to focus on my career, which brings me to my second reason: I love writing stories, and I have over a dozen good ideas for original content just sitting there, waiting to be written. I could spend the next two years just banging those out and maybe begin generating enough income that I can drop down to a part-time position or stop working all together.

So, I plan to do one of two things. Either I'm going to not write a single chapter of The Last Prayer or From Ruin for the next two years and pump out as many of my original ideas as possible(the goal is 8 in two years), or I'm going to write my novels, and in between each book, I write a chapter of one of my fics. I haven't decided which option I'll take yet, but I like the second idea because the fanfic chapter between novels could be like a palette cleanser. I can also do some advertising for my work, because the faster I get to a position where my books are earning serious returns, the more time I'll have to finish my fics. I feel like From Ruin has another 250-300K left before I hit that complete button. And The Last Prayer feels like it has another 300-400K left to go before it's done. Guys and gals, I want to finish my fics—I want to finish anything I start in general—but they would take me no less than two years, and I NEED to set my financial life up for success, especially now that I'm going to enter the latter half of my life.

Anyway, wish me luck. Once I'm doing decent financially, expect more fanfictions. I love diving into other worlds. It feels like vacation to me.

Take Care,