Chapter 19 - Fight Night - Final Round
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Boarding School Juliet
People from Touwa and Naruto:-
Example:- Inuzuka Romio
People from the West Duchy:-
Example:- Juliet Persia
This is the final chapter.
Finals match, Inugami Maramute vs Journey Rex
The indoor stadium was filled to the brim with men, women and students. The lights shone bright on the ring where two boxers stood staring each other down from their respective corners. A referee, a different one from the prior matches, stood by ringside talking with the match officials.
The audience roared their support for their favorite boxer.
"T-Rex! T-Rex! T-Rex!"
"Inugami! Inugami! Inugami!"
The announcer cheered with excitement,
"And we're finally here, ladies and gentlemen! The final match of the Amateur Boxing League Championship! In the blue corner we have Journey Rex, or as his opponents remember and fear him- The mighty! The ferocious! The King of the ring! The Amazing T-Rex!"
The audience screamed with excitement!
"T-Rex! T-Rex! T-Rex!"
"In the red corner we have a man who's amazed us with his reflexes! Who wowed us with his spirit! And who finished his opponents with style! The Incredible Inugami!"
The audience howled with rabid enthusiasm!
"Inugami! Inugami! Inugami!"
Standing in the red corner of the ring with Naruto, Maramute had a disbelieving face as he stared at the announcer. "I-Incredible Inugami? W-What in the world?" He then shifted his gaze to the pumped audience and gulped, letting out a nervous chuckle as they cheered for him.
Naruto barked a laugh. "I came up with that name! You like it?" Maramute turned to Naruto with surprise. Naruto grinned, "I was like, this is the final match! So my dude's gotta have a kickass name that everyone will remember!" Naruto's gaze washed over the whole audience, "it ain't much but at least you'll be the talk of the town for a few days." He then turned to Maramute and smiled, "I even got a reporter friend covering this match! So expect a front page article on the local newspaper!"
Maramute looked back with wide eyes, "d-don't you think that's too much?" He laughed weakly, "if I lose I'll become the incompetent Inuga- Aah!"
Maramute jerked back in surprise as Naruto raised his hands and lightly slapped both his cheeks with a serious face.
"No," said Naruto, giving him a serious look shaking his head. "Not that kind of talk. Not now." He put his hands on both of Maramute's shoulders, looking intently into his eyes. Naruto glared. "Say it. I'm going to win. I'm going to prove that I'm not one to be messed with."
Maramute looked unsure. "N-Naruto," he said, shrinking slightly into himself.
Naruto looked imploringly at him, "after this, all those guys who messed with you, they'll know you're a champion. They'll know you won't give up without a fight."
Maramute's eyes became agitated as he saw phantoms of his past. Being expected to follow his family elders' every word without question. His wife and daughter having to hide their heritage. His in-laws abducting his wife from their home. The looting of his freedom by his lack of financial independence.
Maramute's eyes slowly narrowed.
No… No more…
Naruto smiled, "they'll know you got the fighting spirit." He squeezed Maramute's shoulders in support, "so tell me champ, what're you gonna do tonight?"
Maramute stared back at Naruto with steel in his eyes. He said with earnest resolve, "I'm going to win." He put his gloved hand on Naruto's shoulder and nodded with a determined smile, repeating himself in a louder voice, "I'm going to win."
Naruto smiled and clapped the man's shoulder in support.
The referee made his way up the ring and then began calling the fighters to the center of the ring.
Maramute and Naruto nodded to each other. Maramute put in his mouthguard and started for the ring's center. While Naruto bent under the ropes and jumped off the ring.
Standing in the center of the ring, Rex observed Maramute with a fierce smile as he approached and stood before him. The tall and well built prefect, bent forward and leaned over the shorter man, staring him down with a ferocious glare while baring his teeth in an open mouthed smirk.
Maramute glared back with hard eyes, his face carved of pure determination and resolve. His body stood rooted to the floor, his fists clenched of their own accord, declaring that he couldn't wait to punch Rex in the face.
Rex chuckled and backed up a step, raising his gloved fists. "Your eyes look different today, Inugami. A far cry from when we first met. My sincere apologies for underestimating you." Rex smirked, "give me a good challenge."
Maramute pursed his lips and raised his gloves, "sorry, Rex. I will not challenge you." Rex raised a brow in mild disappointment. Maramute touched gloves with the prefect and said as he turned around, "I will defeat you."
Rex's face exploded into a grin and he barked a laugh. He turned back and headed to his corner, a savage smile on his face.
Both the fighters went to their respective corners and put up their guards, facing each other.
The referee on the stage observed them intently for a moment and then nodded to the ringside officials.
The bell rang and started off the match!
Maramute and Rex both walked forward cautiously with their guards up, neither of them willing to rush and make a mistake.
Rex had a grin as he observed Maramute with narrowed eyes.
Maramute's lips were a thin line as he searched for openings in Rex's guard.
The announcer said,
"A slow start to the round! Inugami and Rex both clearly wary of each other! But come on, throw a punch guys! We're here for- A-And Rex sprints forward!"
Rex ran forward closing the gap between him and Maramute. He started the exchange with a series of jabs and hooks!
Caught by surprise, Maramute blocked the first two jabs and dodged the hook, rolling with the punch.
"Grk!" Maramute let out a gasp of pain, wincing. When he'd blocked, it was like a sledgehammer hitting him! His eyes slightly widened. T-They were only jabs, why did they hurt that much!
Rex let out more punches, forcing Maramute to be on the defensive.
Jab! Right Cross!
Jab! Jab! Right Cross!
Jab! Right Cross! Left Hook! Right Cross!
Maramute slipped the jabs, but before he could punch back, Rex would force him to block by instantly throwing another punch. Maramute grit his teeth as his arms took blow after blow from Rex and flared with pain.
Seeing Rex overextend himself with his last cross, Maramute immediately threw a jab-
Rex snapped his hands back to his face, raising his arm before his face to block the jab-
The jab didn't come.
Maramute threw a right cross!
Rex took the cross to the chin and was pushed back a step!
The announcer cheered,
"Inugami breaks Rex's flow! Hitting him with a clean cross! An excellent feint if I ever saw one!"
Rex glared and stared down Maramute, who observed him with laser focus.
Rex scowled and went in for another exchange.
He leaped forward and threw a left hook!
Rex threw an right uppercut, twisting his torso and blasting his punch up!
Maramute twisted his head, slipping the punch at the last second!
Rex threw an overhand left hook, right as Maramute stood back straight.
Maramute twisted his torso and jumped away sideways!
Rex's eye twitched in annoyance. His opponent had dodged and removed himself from the firing range at the same time! Before Rex turned and re-positioned himself-
Maramute began his assault!
Jab! Right Cross!
Rex took the punches to his jaw and staggered a step back.
Maramute didn't let up!
Jab! Right Cross! Left Hook!
Rex grunted with effort as he put his arms up in time to block the jab and hook to the head. But took the right cross cleanly to his body.
The announcer cheered,
"Inugami is on fire tonight! Clearly controlling the pace of the match! Does Rex have anything up his sleeve! He'll have to if he wants to turn this around!"
As the round went on…
Rex smiled deviously, as he threw more punches. Jabs with his left. Crosses with his right. Hooks with his left, sometimes with his right.
He smiled with satisfaction as his opponent learned his style beautifully. Blocking most punches, slipping the odd jabs, and countering many crosses.
Rex smirked at Maramute. His training was going well…
And now to switch it up.
Rex started another exchange with Maramute.
His left hand let loose a flurry of jabs!
Maramute slipped them and side stepped-
Rex grinned and suddenly his entire stance changed. His leading foot went back and his rear foot came forward. His left became his right and his right became his left!
Jabs flew from his right!
Maramute's eyes widened at the odd angle of the punches!
Maramute grunted with pain when the sledgehammers hit his cheeks unabated. He grit his teeth and looked back at Rex, not taking his eyes off him. His mind raced to figure out why he'd taken those punches! And that was when he'd realized.
Rex had switched to southpaw.
Rex let loose his punches!
Jab! Left Cross!
Maramute tried to block, but Rex pierced his guard with ease, his punches breaching the gap between Maramute's arms.
"Gah!" Maramute grunted at the punches hammered into his chest, knocking him back.
He threw a jab of his own to push Rex back and put some distance between them.
Rex easily tapped his punch away and let loose again!
Jab! Left Cross! Right hook!
Maramute panicked and covered his face in a hurry!
Bam! Bam! Bam!
"Grk!" Maramute exhaled with agony as the monstrous punches bit away at his hands.
He grit his teeth, mentally preparing to dodge the next exchange. Adjusting his strategy to Rex's new stance.
Rex threw his next flurry!
Maramute waited for the jab from the right hand-
It came from the left.
Jab! Right Cross! Left hook!
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Maramute's head rocked left and right as it was whacked into relentlessly!
Rex had switched stances again.
Maramute gritted his teeth as he forced himself to stand. He waited for the next punch. It would- It would come from the left-
Rex assaulted him with a right jab.
Jab! Jab! Right hook!
Maramute grunted as he hastily blocked! His arms throbbing with agony!
Rex threw an obvious cross!
Maramute jumped at the chance to dodge and punch back!
Maramute was forced back as it turned out to be a jab instead! Rex continued pummeling him!
Maramute could no longer make out where the punches were coming from, he couldn't tell which punch was what nor what punch was which.
Spittle flew as his face burst with pain.
He wheezed as body shots hit him all over.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
"Guaah!" He howled with hurt as his vision swan. He saw everything in twos, which didn't make his predicament any better.
He didn't know where to hit.
He didn't know where to see.
He didn't know what to think.
Maramute's listless eyes gazed blankly all over the stadium as Rex's punches bashed his head from side to side.
The pain had stopped a while ago. Or maybe he'd lost track of where it started. Punches slammed into him all over, numbing his whole body.
He felt his back hit the corner post, but he'd stopped caring. He just wanted to lie down. He wanted to stop hurting.
He wanted to give up.
He feebly raised his arms, in a guard.
Strong hands instantly knocked them with a powerful cross.
He mentally chuckled, grinning deliriously as more punches blasted his head.
He was at Rex's mercy.
Ha ha ha.
Back to square one eh?
What would he lose this time?
Maybe he should just lose his life.
Ha ha ha.
W-Worthless… h-he was truly worthless, wasn't he?
He might be blowing things out of proportion, but damn it!
Was this all it amounted to?!
His fate always being in someone else's hand!
"Aaah!" Maramute wildly threw a punch!
His head rocked back again as a jab caught his face.
Maramute blinked hard.
All he saw was the back of his eyelids, his face having swollen from all the punches.
If he could not see Rex before, he would not be able to see him now.
Punches that were unreadable, now became invisible.
Maramute felt his throat choke up. The despondent sobs which wanted to escape hurt more than the whole of his body put together.
E-Even after everything Naruto did to support him…
After all Leon did to encourage him…
All the pain Vermie had to endure because of him…
I-It couldn't end like this!
Ending like this would mean the past coming back to rehash his misery all over again!
He had to show the world!
He had to show the world he could win!
He had to show it the strength of his love for his family!
That making a life together with Vermie was never a mistake!
That the prejudice and hate was all a bunch of trash!
If he couldn't prove it to himself! That he could take the worst the world had to give and still come out standing! Then how could he ever hope to face the challenges that lay waiting for him! He had two countries against him!
What was a mere boxing match before that!
Maramute growled with fury.
"Aaah!" Even blinded, he threw a punch.
Maramute haphazardly leapt forward with an overhand hook!
"Vermiiie punch!" Maramute roared and twisted his torso, firing his right hand up in an uppercut! It's aim horrible, as he could just make out a blurred line of his opponent thought the small opening of his eyes.
A feminine voice yelled at him with embarrassment,
"Oh shut up and duck your head left!"
Maramute instantly heeded the voice and ducked down.
He felt a haymaker brush against his hair as he'd ducked just in time.
He blinked his swollen eyes in disbelief.
The feminine voice yelled again. She sounded incensed beyond belief,
"Honestly! I leave for a few years and you get it in your head that you're some macho man?! His right side is open! Punch!"
Maramute gulped and hurried to throw a lightning quick one-two!
Jab! Right cross!
A solid hit!
"Aaaah!" Maramute heard his opponent grunt in pain, along with heavy steps thudding back on the canvas, the attack forcing him back.
Maramute on the other hand could hardly believe his ears. He mentally chuckled sheepishly. Boy, she sure seemed angry.
The feminine voice was drowned like any other voice in the audience. However, it was a voice his heart had burned to hear for so long. A sweet voice which made him smile, which filled him with happiness and which sometimes scared him when he'd done something stupid. One he'd heard everyday for the past many years, and he'd be damned if he didn't hear it for the rest of his life!
The voice was hers!
The voice was his love's!
"Stop grinning like an idiot! Move!"
The voice was Vermie's!
Maramute had a huge grin on his face. His opponent congratulated his joy by punching him in the stomach. "Guh!" Maramute's eyes popped out as he wheezed, but the stupid smile on his face didn't disappear.
"Dick, don't you dare get hurt anymore… L-Lean back!"
Maramute beamed, leaning back as told. He was simply ecstatic! His body bubbling with happiness and filling up with energy! Maramute blushed and laughed shyly, slightly creeping out his opponent who paused mid punch to make a face at him. Maramute's lips turned up as Vermie continued yelling at him. She sounded so lovely when she was pissed!
The love of his life yelled at him again,
"Now! Use your specialty!"
Maramute tilted his head in confusion, making Rex miss an overhand hook. Maramute wondered what Vermie was talking about.
Vermie called out again,
"Y-You know! Don't look away, look at me! I like you too! Let's go out together! …r-remember?" She said sounding slightly embarrassed but also happy.
Maramute's face burst into a grin and he laughed, leaning down and slapping a hand on his knee. Rex missed the cross he'd aimed at Maramute's head as the man bent down. Maramute's cheeks crinkled up with amusement, recalling what Vermie was referring to.
He could still remember it vividly after all these years. How when they had been students, he'd always keep his gaze away from her even though she always kept seeking his company. And then one day she'd just grabbed his face and turned it to face hers, yelling that she wanted him to look at her, so that she could gaze back into his wonderful eyes. She'd even said that she liked him! That should make him feel less embarrassed right?
Maramute snickered, shaking his head, which helped him roll with the jabs and hooks Rex threw at him, sapping all the power out of the punches. Maramute smiled, recalling how after Vermie's proclamation he'd turned bright red and began ducking away rather than looking awa-
"Dick, I swear if you're having a flashback I'm going to throw my shoe at you! Just win quickly so that I can hug you, you dumb oaf! I-I missed you!"
Maramute nodded with a serious face and made a cross guard before himself, breathing deeply and refocusing his energy.
The announcer went,
"I-Inugami's just standing there! C-Can he even see at this point, with that swollen face? He was doing so good dodging just a few seconds ago! Rex rushes in looking ready to deliver pain!"
Rex sprinted forward and threw a left hook!
"Haah!" Maramute roared and threw his hands outwards, as if unleashing all his determination and energy.
Rex's eyes widened as Maramute's arm swatted his punch away, leaving him completely open.
"Do it, darling! He's right in front of you!"
"Uoooh!" Bellowing with furious intensity, Maramute jumped forward, his fist cocked back for an overhead cross!
Rex cursed as he saw the punch come closer! He was too close! He wouldn't be able to get away in time! Rex felt himself shake a little at the fighting spirit blazing in his opponent's eyes. Even after all the beatdown he'd given him, he still had that much strength?! He grit his teeth and prepared to take the ferocious punch headed his way!
The audience all had their eyes peeled!
Naruto had his eyes peeled!
Vermie had a huge grin on her face!
The punch came closer!
Everyone leaned in closer!
The punch was almost at Rex's head!
Rex's eyes were wide, transfixed at his opponent.
The punch stopped!
Maramute suddenly stomped his foot on the ground, halting his advancing fist and looked behind Rex with shock.
Rex blinked wide, wondering what had made his opponent stop so suddenly.
Looking totally flabbergasted, his swollen eyes expressing as much shock as they could, Maramute slowly turned his head to the side.
Rex found his neck moving in accordance with his opponent's, arrested by his shock. Turning away from him and looking towards some obscure spot in the audience.
The audience behind Rex had turned their heads along with him.
Naruto was blinking at the stands in confusion, wondering why he'd turned his head away.
Vermie was laughing ecstatically.
The announcer sounded confused,
"W-Why did I turn my head?"
Rex suddenly blinked, realizing that he'd taken his eyes off his opponent! He immediately whipped his head back-
"Aaaah" Maramute roared and threw an overhand left hook!
"Grrah!" Rex's jaw snapped to the side as the punch caught him totally by surprise!
Glaring and gnashing his teeth at the cheap trick, Rex whipped his head back and threw a monstrous straight with his right!
Vermie called out,
Rex's punch sailed right over Maramute's head!
Maramute had ducked and was crouching on the canvas! His fist gripped tight!
Rex blinked, wondering where his opponent had disappeared again. He whipped his eyes down and saw him, and started with surprise.
"Yaaaaah!" Maramute leapt up! Springing up from the canvas, and throwing his fist up in a uppercut! Throwing the momentum of his leap behind it as he lunged up!
Rex's eyes widened. He tried to bring his arms back in time-
The announcer went crazy,
"S-Square in the jaw! Square in the jaw! Rex is flying back in the air!"
Rex's head slammed back as he flew off his feet. His skull rattled, overloading his nerves with pain.
Rex fell on the canvas with a loud thud! Landing on his shoulder with a gasp and rolling onto his back. He grimaced, feeling his consciousness leaving him. Mustering all his strength, he raised his head to see his opponent and muttered, his voice teeming with respect and satisfaction, "N-Naruto… w-was right…" Rex chuckled and winced with pain, blinking as his eyes lost and recovered their focus.
He eyed Maramute and saw the man's face, which was looking here and there still searching for him, still unaware that his opponent was on the ground. Rex burned into his memory the face of the man who defeated him. The conviction of his punches. The determination in his eyes. And the absolutely absurd way he'd caught him by surprise. Rex smiled, "y-you win, I-Inugami." Rex's head slowly lowered to the canvas as he lost the last of his strength. He chuckled one last time, "h-haha… I really d-didn't see it coming."
Rex's head fell against the canvas as he lost consciousness.
The referee was immediately kneeling by his side. He took less than a second to inspect Rex's condition before he crossed his arms in the air and shook his head.
The ringside physicians stepped into the ring at once and began examining Rex.
The announcer cheered wildly,
"Knockout! It's a knockout, ladies and gentlemen! Rex has lost consciousness! The winner of the Amateur Boxing League Championship is Inugami Maramute! Now if only someone could tell me what actually happened! I have no idea why I turned my head away!"
The audience scratched their heads, as they too missed the amazing final punch of the match.
Sitting in the crowed and absolutely amazed, Dane Yamada on the other hand had no qualms in believing the brilliance of his sensei. He whooped and cheered with abandon, "Inugami! Inugami! Inugami!"
His exuberant cheers soon caught on, spreading the amazement thought the audience like ripples. The whole stadium soon rumbled with the roars of approval that blasted!
"Inugami! Inugami! Inugami!"
Maramute realized that he'd actually won when everyone started screaming his name. He stopped searching for Rex and stood dumbfounded. After the abject surprise washed over him, he began chuckling at first and then blew into full blown laughter. He punched his fist up the air and yelled. "Yeaah!"
The audience roared with approval!
"Inugami! Inugami! Inugami!"
Maramute then wobbled slightly on his feet, slipping to the side. He grimaced, fully expecting to fall down-
"Whoa! Easy there, pops!"
Maramute felt strong hands catch him and gently lead him to a stool, making him sit on it. He smiled, knowing he could relax now with Naruto beside him. He winced sharply, as his headguard was removed. He then felt something ice cold being pressed to the swollen parts of his face. He tried to push away Naruto's hands.
Naruto chuckled and continued "aw come on, ya baby. You took harder punches than this, just bear it for a few minutes. It'll get the swelling down."
Maramute let out a pained smile and nodded, keeping his eyes closed as the biting cold pressed against his face. He heard Naruto tell the match organizers to give them some time before the awards ceremony, telling them that his pops needed some time to rest. The organizers voiced their assent and seemed to leave them for the moment.
Maramute felt his smile widen.
He chuckled weakly.
His son was quite caring wasn't he?
He found himself asking, "N-Naruto, how did I do?"
Naruto chuckled, sounding a little afraid, "I got really scared in-between the match ya know? Seeing you get hit like that." He spoke with a smile in his voice, "you were about to give up there for a moment, weren't ya?"
Maramute winced. He'd noticed that?
Naruto continued, "but… but you had the fire in ya to rise from even that."
Maramute's swelling went down, letting him see a little more clearly. He blinked slowly, and his vision cleared up to show him Naruto smiling at him.
The boy said, putting away the ice in his hands into a box on the canvas beside him, "That fire… I could feel it all the way outside the ring." He grinned, "gave me the shivers." He put his hand on Maramute's shoulder and nodded, "you're not trash, pops. You're a great guy. Fighting that hard for your family? Heh, I'd love to be part of a family that's got a guy like you." Naruto said smiling brightly at the man.
Maramute's throat caught as the blond said that. He blinked hard to stop the prickling in his eyes. Maybe… it was time to pop the question.
Maramute put his gloved hand on Naruto's shoulder, smiling fondly at him. "Me as well, Naruto. I… I would like to belong to a family that has a great boy like you." Naruto blinked in surprise. Maramute continued, "someone who's a great friend, a great teacher, a great brother, a great s-son," Maramute blinked his eyes and found to his dismay, tears leaking out. …no, not dismay. Joy. These were tears of joy. Maramute laughed happily as he pushed off the stool and landed on his knees before the boy, who was crouching and looking at him with wide and confused eyes.
Maramute put his hands on Naruto's shoulders, beaming at him happily, "N-Naruto, I would love to be part of a family which has you in it."
Naruto looked back with scared eyes, looking both delighted and on the verge of tears, "w-what?" He said in a small voice, his fists gripped tight, his posture huddling into itself and closed off. He looked like he wanted to run away and stay put at the same time. Naruto whispered, "p-pops, what're you saying?"
Maramute smiled gently and said with as much fondness as he could,
"Naruto, would you like to join our family?"
Naruto gasped as that question hit him. His throat immediately caught and his wide eyes started burning with tears which wanted to pour out. He blinked twice before he let out a forced chuckle, "hah, good one, pops-"
Maramute shook his head, "I'm serious, Naruto." He wiped his own tears off with his arm and smiled at the boy. "I-I've come to like living with you, son." Maramute chuckled as he recalled the vacation with the boy, "seeing you laugh to yourself with mischief. Being scared of your and Leon's rap battles. The kids hounding you two to play with them everyday." Maramute chuckled, looking at Naruto with warmth. "It's… it's like you are my son. And I want that to be real."
Naruto gulped, his throat burning something like fire. He blinked hard. Shivering at what he was hearing. "U-Uugh." Feeling something trail down his face, he touched his cheeks to find them wet. He bit his lip. "Uuugh," he sobbed again to his shame. He shook his head hard and gave the man a trembling smile, looking at him with humor, "g-g-good one, pops. Y-Ya almost got me. Hahah- uuugh!" He slapped his palms on his face, shutting his eyes off, feeling the tears which kept pouring from his eyes.
"I-I-I… I-I…." Naruto kept stammering as water kept leaking from his eyes. His heart sang with happiness that the man felt that way, but it couldn't be true right? W-Who'd want a guy like h-him? Nobody… nobody had bothered when he was little. W-Why should now be any d-different? T-This just had to be a joke right?
"A-A-Aaahh!" Naruto started crying as old feelings he thought he'd buried long ago came exploding back to the surface. He shook his head wildly! Pressing his palms to his face. H-He was a ninja! He was an adult!
"Uuurgh!" He bawled, burying his face into himself.
Then why did he just want someone to hold him as if he was a little kid!
Slender hands grabbed him from his side and gently pulled him into an embrace. "Shh, there, there. It's alright, darling." He heard a soft voice whisper in his ear, as one hand gently stroked his hair while the other tenderly hugged him. "I love you, darling. It's going to be alright."
Naruto blinked through his tears, and turned his head. "V-Vermie?" He said in a small voice, slightly surprised seeing the woman present on the ring with him. "Y-You're h-here?"
He felt the woman nod against his cheeks. "I am, dear." Vermie then parted a little and kissed his forehead, making him gasp. She hugged him tight again and said, "I love you, darling. And I'd love to be there for a wonderful boy like you until the day I die."
Naruto choked up. His hands immediately hugged the woman back as he sought her warmth. "M-Mom?"
Vermie laughed happily, her voice positively beaming, "yes, child?"
Naruto cried as he buried his face into her shoulder. "M-Mom!" He bawled. "I-I love you, mom!" Naruto let out a choked sob. "I-I want to be with you forever and ever and ever! I-I love you!"
Vermie's breath hitched as she held him. "I-I will, dear. Be with you." She patted his back in a gentle rhythm, hoping to soothe the distraught boy. "We will all be with you." She laughed lightly as a few tears escaped her own eyes, she said teasingly, "you can't get rid of me that easily. You told me to take responsibility after all!" Naruto let out a small chuckle. Vermie smiled as she felt the boy's shuddering slowly subside.
Then another pair of arms hugged Naruto from the other side.
"O-Oi, dopey. D-Don't worry! Big sis will take care of everything!"
Blinking his tears off, Naruto turned his head and saw a black haired girl pressed to his side, her smile both happy and sad. "L-Leon?" he said, as she hugged him.
The girl continued, "d-don't be upset! W-We can write some songs later! O-Or let's prank someone!" She blinked hard as if trying to stop herself from crying as well. Leon chuckled softly, pressing her face into his shoulder, "y-you made me so happy from the time I met you. I… I was so angry. So hurt and alone. B-But then you started with your stupid phone calls." Leon let out a sob which turned into a giggle partway. "S-So it's my turn now! Let big sis spoil you, won't you?"
"S-Sis?" Naruto found himself whispering.
Leon tightened her hug, her smile widening, "y-yeah?"
Naruto took his chance, "w-would you stop petting me?"
Leon snorted, "fat chance." She giggled, "but nice try."
Naruto grumbled, pouting lightly.
Leon ruffled his hair and sang happily, "you're my little victim! I'm not gonna let you go, dopey~"
Naruto complained, "mom, Leon's being mean!"
"You misunderstand my love, dopey!" Leon snickered and pounced on him. "Now let's hear some happy sounds!"
Naruto squawked as she snatched him away from Vermie's hug and downed the two of them to the canvas. She began gently stroking his cheeks. "A-Aah! P-Prrr~" Naruto blushed with embarrassment as he shivered happily. Leon giggled and soon got the purring boy's head on her lap as she sat with her legs folded. Rumbling with content, Naruto yelped in-between her strokes, "m-mom, help!"
"Aww, you're so cute when you're like this!" said Leon, grinning down at him, running her thumbs over his whiskers.
"D-Demon! Lemme go!" Naruto said while pushing his face into her palms. He realized what he was doing and blushed even more. "C-Come on, sis! You're embarrassing me! Prr~"
"Thank you!" Leon beamed at him.
"That wasn't a compliment!" Naruto purred back happily.
Vermie laughed, her eyes shining with joy as saw her daughter and Naruto… no, that wasn't right. Her daughter and son. Vermie smiled. She had another son now, didn't she?
She chuckled lightly as she saw them interact, with Leon happily chatting while petting the boy, while Naruto tried threatening to showcase her poems to all her friends and expose her. The boy's threat had some success as Leon's eyes widened a fraction before she continued petting and chatting, making Naruto miss the chink in her armor as he rumbled with content on her lap.
"V-Vermie?" she heard a voice speak. A voice which had joy, regret, and longing mixed into it. She turned her head and saw her husband looking at her with a subdued smile. "H-How are you, Vermie?" he asked, his eyes dipping away from her, looking scared to face her.
She smiled ruefully and got closer to him as he lay kneeling on the canvas, she placed one hand around his neck and the other cupped his chin, raising it so that she could see into his eyes. "Don't look away, look at me. I love you."
Maramute gave her a pain filled smile. His eyes filled with regret, "I-I'm sorry, Vermie. This is all my fault-"
She cut him off with a kiss, gently pulling him forward and pressing her lips against his. After a while she parted, and chuckled at his wide eyed expression. She said, giving him a loving smile, "I missed you."
Maramute slowly smiled back, "a-and I missed you." He hesitantly put his arms around her, as if afraid of being rebuked. "I-I'm sorry. I will make things right-"
Vermie pulled him close and hugged him, being careful not to put too much pressure on his taxed body. "No." She shook her head, resting her chin on his shoulder. "You have nothing to be sorry for, Dick. I never blamed you for what happened."
"B-But still, I should've been strong enough to stop it," he said, letting his arms close around her with some more confidence.
Vermie mumbled lightly, "maybe. But I was no better, was I?" She chuckled, "I'll have you know I'm much stronger than I was before." She kissed his cheek. "So don't worry, dear. It won't happen again."
Maramute laughed lightly. "I hope I'm stronger too." He winced, "or all those punches would have been for nothing." He then parted from her and gave her a determined look. "I won't let it happen again." He then gave her a slightly cocky smile, "a-and I won the tournament right? No one will mess with this champion."
Vermie raised a brow, "what do you mean you won it?" She gave him a teasing smile, "you'd have been lost without my directions."
Maramute smiled, "yeah, I'd be lost without you in my life."
Vermie blinked with wide eyes and blushed, her face flushing at the genuine affection in the man's tone. She grinned, "s-smooth talking won't help you, dear." She glared, "just what got into your head? Competing in a boxing tournament."
Maramute chuckled in fear, "h-hey, your hair looks amazing today!" He put his fist under his chin, giving her a thinking pose, "new shampoo, gotta be it."
Vermie shook her head, smiling slightly. "You're not getting out of this one."
Maramute gulped, and decided to paint the bullseye on someone else. "I-I just wanted to show Naruto my fighting spirit? Y-You know, manly bonding?" He clenched his muscles and posed, with an unsure smile.
Vermie turned to Naruto and said, "Naruto?"
Naruto smiled brightly at her, having convinced Leon to leave him alone for the moment but still lying on her lap. He said, "yeah, mom?"
Vermie cheerfully informed him with a smile, "you're grounded, dear."
Naruto's eyes widened and he sputtered, "w-what? B-But I've never been grounded before!"
Leon laughed, poking his cheeks with amusement, "haha, someone's in trouble~"
Vermie smiled reassuringly at Naruto, "don't worry, dear. Leon will show you the ropes. She's grounded too."
Leon whipped her head up with shock. She sputtered with wide eyes, "b-but, mama! What did I do?"
Vermie frowned at her, "you let your father be stupid."
Naruto laughed. He stuck his tongue out at Leon. "Haha, someone's in trouble~"
Leon growled at him and began petting him again, "d-don't talk to your big sis like that! This is all your fault!"
Naruto yelped, "a-ah! M-Mom, make her stop!" He then started reciting Leon's poems,
"I'm a closet diva,
Stay don't you leave-a,
Songs I love to weave-a,
Won't you take my viva-"
Leon's eyes widened and she exploded into a blush. She slapped her hands on his mouth, "o-okay! Just shut up!" Naruto winked at her, snickering under her palms. Leon glowered down at him with an embarrassed face.
Vermie and Maramute smiled warmly at the two of them, delighted to see them getting along.
Vermie turned to Maramute and informed him the good news before he got too happy, "you're not off the hook." She smiled at him, "I'll think of something later."
Maramute winced. He nodded, chuckling weakly. He then pursed his lips and asked, "does… does that mean you'll come back?"
Vermie looked troubled, biting her lip. "I-I don't know, Dick. I'd love to be back but, being in Touwa…" She shook her head, "I don't know how safe it is-"
Naruto and Leon interrupted her happily, unaware of what she'd been talking about, "hey wait! You can't ground us!" They grinned smugly, "we stay at a dorm!"
Maramute looked at them and chuckled, "actually, I've been looking at houses for sale in Dahlia Town." He turned to Vermie with a smile, "I found a few good ones so… we'll be moving soon." He glanced back at Naruto and Leon and smiled in apology, "we'll be able to stay together after your classes. So, grounding's a go?"
Naruto and Leon groaned, "aww, crap!"
Vermie chuckled, "well if you dangle the opportunity to punish these troublemakers before me, how can I resist, Dick?" She pouted at the man, "stop being a hero, leave some things for me too?"
Maramute smiled, "so you're coming back?"
Vermie smiled back, "I guess so, yeah."
They both chuckled and started making out, pulling each other close.
"Aaah! Gross!" Leon and Naruto loudly complained, turning their heads away in a hurry. The smiles on their faces betrayed their true feelings however. They glanced at each other and grinned, giving one another a high-five.
Naruto's eyes widened as he felt one of his clones pop. He immediately got off Leon and jumped to his feet, his eyes narrowed.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The stadium suddenly started blaring loudly with alarms going off.
The audience started panicking, whipping their heads all over, and getting up in a hurry.
The announcer quickly said in a calm voice,
"Everyone, please make your way out in an orderly fashion. The fire alarm's been raised. I repeat, please make your way out in an orderly fashion. The staff will lead you to the nearest exit. Please remain calm."
Maramute, Vermie and Leon's eyes widened. They quickly stood up.
Vermie called out to Naruto, "Naruto! Come on, we need to leave-"
"No," said Naruto, glaring at members of the audience wearing black suits and shades. He pointed at them with his hand. "It's a trap."
Vermie glanced at them and gasped, her eyes quickly narrowed.
The black suited men stared back at the ring, looking intently at the Inugami family. Not at all getting up and hurrying outside like everyone else. It was like they were waiting for those standing on the ring to make a move.
Vermie growled under her breath, "mother." She turned to Maramute and Leon, "stay close. The Bobcat goons are in the audience." Maramute and Leon's eyes widened before they nodded.
The stadium cleared out of every other person. Leaving just the Inugamis and the goons. The goons then stood up as one and began making their way down the steps of the stands.
A woman's voice rang out, sounding disgusted, "goons? Is that what you call your family's staff?" Walking out from the locker-rooms, stepping into the ringside with a army of the Bobcat goons behind her, Madam Bobcat glared at the family on the stage. "Insolent child," she said, looking at her daughter. "Why can't you leave the premises like any sane person? Apprehending you in the confusion would've been much simpler." Madam Bobcat clicked her tongue, "now we must go through this unpleasantness."
Vermie glared back, her family now standing in the center of the ring. With her, Naruto and Maramute covering their sides while Leon stood in their center. Vermie said with reproach, "why are you here?"
Madam Bobcat glared, "isn't it obvious? To take you and my granddaughter away."
Maramute glared at her with contempt and stepped forward. "You will do no such thing!" He raised his gloved fists, "this will not go like last time."
Madam Bobcat smiled maliciously, "I was hoping you'd say that." She snapped her fingers and her goons marched forward, surrounding the ring from all ends. "I'll make sure to cripple you this time." She laughed, "do pace yourself, dog. It's a hundred men you'll be facing-"
Naruto raised his hand and politely interrupted, "umm, hey, who the heck are you?" He raised a brow at Madam Bobcat. "Do you think you're the final boss or something? You must watch a lot of movies." He grinned, "villains always make this mistake! They ruin the surprise and start talking about how evil they are!"
Madam Bobcat stared. She turned to Vermie, "girl, who is this boy?"
Vermie put an arm around Naruto and smiled, "he's my son."
Madam Bobcat nodded, "I see. At least this one's a Westian-"
Naruto cheerfully introduced himself, "hi! I'm Naruto Uzumaki!"
Madam Bobcat nodded, "I see. Even this one's a mistake."
Naruto pouted, "oi! You're a mistake!"
Madam Bobcat snarled, "am not!"
Naruto stuck his tongue out, "are too!"
Vermie, Maramute and Leon observed with bewilderment as Naruto reduced a dramatic confrontation to a kindergarten fight. The goons pulled on their collars, feeling pretty awkward watching their employer argue with a kid.
Leon started giggling.
Naruto scoffed at Madam Bobcat, "hah! You think you're so tough? Bet even a chicken can beat up your guys! Single-handedly!" Naruto randomly patted Maramute's back. Maramute blinked, wondering if he was being called a chicken. Naruto smirked, "wanna wager?" Naruto looked at her with pity, "unless you're chicken of course. I'd totally understand."
Madam Bobcat sneered, "don't you dare compare me to him!" She crossed her arms and pushed her glasses back, "what're the terms, boy?"
Naruto snickered, "I win, and you agree to be a decent mother and bless your daughter and her husband." Naruto smacked a fist into his palm, "oh! And you gotta treat me to ramen whenever I come visit!" He beamed at her, "you'll do that, right granny?"
Madam Bobcat scowled, "don't get ahead of yourself. What if I win?"
Naruto nonchalantly shrugged, "oh? You can take Leon and Vermie with you."
Vermie's, Leon's and Maramute's eyes widened. Vermie sputtered in disbelief, "N-Naruto?!"
Naruto winked at her and whispered, "don't worry! Trust me!" He snickered.
Vermie gulped and smiled back hesitantly. She nodded.
Leon whispered angrily in Naruto's ear. "You better not mess this up, dopey!"
Maramute inquired, "uhh, just to be sure, a-am I the chicken?"
A few goons scratched their heads in confusion as a few brown feathers fell from the ceiling of the stadium. They looked at each other and asked if they heard a faint cluck in the stadium.
Naruto grinned at Madam Bobcat, "so! A hundred of your guys versus a chicken! Ya agree to the terms?"
Madam Bobcat scoffed, "get on with it boy." She smiled vindictively at Maramute, "I'm assured of my victory."
Naruto smirked, "do I got your word, granny?" He looked at all the goons who were staring at the goings on with confusion, "you won't break the terms in front of all your staff, would you?"
Madam Bobcat nodded stiffly, "a Bobcat never goes back on their word!"
Naruto grinned, he put his fingers into his mouth whistled-
A rooster clucked its war cry-
A cape wearing rooster blasted down like a red meteor from the ceiling and slammed its feet into a goon on the ground, whamming his face and catching him completely by surprise.
The goon saw stars as he lay knocked down on ringside floor with a cape wearing masked rooster standing on top of him.
"Buck Buck." The rooster politely bobbed its head.
The goons stared with bewilderment.
Madam Bobcat sputtered, "w-what is this?!"
Naruto snickered, "come on, granny! One down, ninety nine to go!" She looked like she was about to protest, but Naruto spoke before her, flapping his arms like a bird's, "buck-buck-buckaww! Granny's a chicken! Granny's a chicken!"
Madam Bobcat roared with indignation. "I'll show you chicken!" She whipped her head to her goons. "What're you staring at! Get the damn bird!"
The goons gulped and nodded their heads rapidly.
"Hyaaa!" They roared as one and pounced on the bird.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" Commander Cockerel clucked with vigor, relishing the challenge! It blasted off the ground and jumped into the fray.
Boom! Bash! Kaboom!
The whole ringside dissolved into dust clouds and plucked feathers, with arms, feet and wings occasionally visible through the smoke, as the rooster jumped from one goon to another, kicking them in the face, headbutting their stomachs, and tearing their pants off and embarrassing them.
Maramute, Vermie and Leon gave up on understanding what was happening and sat down on the canvas. Chatting happily and catching up with each other.
Madam Bobcat had her face in her hands, groaning at the absurdity around her. It… It was absolutely ridiculous! Half of her men were already down and the other half were being bullied by a bird. She had come here expecting a devastating victory, but what she got was devastating stupidity.
She heard a voice whisper sneakily to her. "Psst! Hey, granny! I got an idea!" She turned her head and saw the blond nuisance grinning at her, standing beside her at ringside. He continued, "we can still uphold the Bobcat name!"
Madam Bobcat gave him a weak glare, all the senselessness around her having sapped her anger away. "What is it, child?" she said, willing to consider any idea at this point.
Naruto continued, giving her a sneaky smile, "granny, it'd be much easier to change the ways of the Duchy than to convince your daughter." Naruto pouted at her, "Vermie's so stubborn! She wouldn't even let me eat ramen everyday for lunch!"
Madam Bobcat pursed her lips. "I agree. That girl doesn't let go of an idea once it gets into her head." She sighed, "she used to be so weak willed, but now?" She grimaced, "absolutely bullheaded."
Naruto nodded enthusiastically, "yeah! So we gotta do something, granny! We gotta show the world what it means to be a Bobcat!" Naruto snickered as Commander Cockerel pantsed another group of goons. He turned back Madam Bobcat, "we gotta show that we mean business! That we keep up with the times! Staying chic, ya know?"
The old woman began smiling begrudgingly, "what do you suggest, child?" His words piqued her interest despite her better judgment. "How will we influence a whole country?"
Naruto grinned, "weell, there's this foundation called the Kurama Foundation. They're just the guys who can help us out! With the Bobcats behind them? They'll be doubly effective!"
Madam Bobcat's brow rose in interest. She put her hand on Naruto's shoulder and began pulling him along with her, walking towards the stadium's exit. "Tell me more, boy. I've been hearing this foundation's name lately. And what was it you wanted to eat? Ramen?" Naruto smiled and rapidly nodded his head. Madam Bobcat smiled, "we shall discuss this over a meal. Come! This Bobcat shall feed her… grandson I suppose."
Naruto cheered, "thanks, granny! You're awesome!"
Madam Bobcat smirked, "a Bobcat always is." She turned back to her staff, "everyone! Stop fooling around! See to my belligerent daughter's needs! And for god's sake, Inugami, get out of those clothes! You'll stink up my daughter and granddaughter!"
Naruto whooped his hand in the air, "yeah! Granny's da boss!"
Madam Bobcat chuckled, "that she is."
Vermie, Leon and Maramute stared with confusion as the duo departed from the stadium.
Leon spoke out, looking at Naruto's back with a blush, "I think I'm in love." She giggled.
Vermie muttered, scratching her head, "maybe I should've introduced Naruto to my mother sooner."
Maramute looked at the chicken with puzzled eyes, "how is it so fast?"
One of the Bobcat family's attendants then stepped up on the ring. He bowed and spoke to Vermie, "lady Vermie, thank you." He stood up straight again and smiled. "The madam's health hasn't been well lately, but as she departed with the boy she seemed to be in much better spirits. It's been a while since we saw her smile."
Vermie blinked back in surprise, "o-oh?"
The attendant smiled at her, "shall we depart, my lady? I assume the gentleman would like you to accompany him to his lodgings." He said looking at Maramute.
Maramute snapped out of his stupor and nodded. "Yeah, let's head to the hotel." He turned to Leon, "wanna stay with us for today, Leon?"
Leon was pouting at the floor, "why does he have a girlfriend?" She sighed, "oh well. At least he's my brother."
Maramute prodded her, "um? Leon?"
"He'd probably be too scared of me anyway," said Leon, snickering. She then scoffed, "I'm an angel, not a demon!"
Vermie decided to give her daughter a piggyback ride as she was too lost in her own world to pay attention to them.
The family along with the goons departed towards the hotel. While a few goons stayed back to explain to the fire department that the fire alarm had been rung by accident and that they'd gladly pay the fine.
"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" Sasuke the rooster clucked in victory as it hopped from foot to foot in the center of the ring.
And the day was saved, once again, thanks to-
Cliffs of Dahlia Island, October 9th
Naruto sat on the ground, leaning his back against a tree as he observed the ocean. He was back in his orange jumpsuit and had the Konoha headband tied around his head. He had a small notepad in his hand as he scribbled ideas for a new scroll.
"That is an interesting application of seals, Uzumaki Naruto," said a wizened voice as it stepped beside the Uzumaki. Otsutsuki Hagoromo inclined his head in greeting, "are you ready to depart?"
Naruto smiled and got to his feet, but before he said anything he grabbed the Sage in a hug. "Thanks, old man. I really had a blast staying here." He let go and saw the Sage's surprised face. "And sorry in advance," he chuckled.
Blinking his surprise away, the Sage frowned, "for what do you apologize?"
Naruto gave him a mischievous smile, "nothing. It's just you might not like what I have to teach you." He snorted, "I bet you'll definitely be stumped with what Sasuke will say."
The Sage smiled, "be that as it may. I shall be glad to hear your words." He banged his staff on the floor, and a black swirling portal opened before them. "Shall we?" he asked the Uzumaki.
Naruto smiled and waved his hand forward, "after you."
The Sage nodded and proceeded.
Naruto eyed the small scroll he'd stuck on the Sage's back with glee. He chuckled, the Sage was powerful, but he was definitely no ninja.
The Scroll radiated with yang chakra, but being so similar to the Sage's own, it escaped his notice.
Naruto snickered as he followed the Sage into the portal. Now Sasuke would be able to track the Sage.
Operation Punk the Sage, Phase 1 complete
Ichiraku stand, Konoha
Naruto stepped through the portal and found himself standing in Konoha, before the Ichiraku stand. The Sage stood a few steps before him, while the seats in the restaurant were occupied by three people.
Kakashi saw the Uzumaki arrive as raised his hand in greeting. "Yo." His eye crinkled in a smile, "it's been a while, Naruto." He was wearing his vest and spandex as usual.
Sasuke turned his head to the Uzumaki and smirked. "Last as always, dumbass." He was back to wearing his purple rope, gray shirt and black pants. His sword lay tied to his waist.
Sakura smiled as she saw Naruto, standing up and making her way to him. She hugged him lightly as she reached him, "I missed your stupid antics, you idiot."
Naruto chuckled and hugged her back. He whispered in her ear, "play along." Loudly, he said with a chuckle, "flat as always, Sakura-chan." He patted her back consolingly.
The Sage sighed.
Sakura's voice came out saccharine sweet. "Excuse me?" She turned to the Sage with a bright smile. "Could you give us a moment and come back after a while? My fist needs to catch up with this lady-killer." She tightened her hug.
"G-Gah!" Naruto's eyes popped out, his face rapidly becoming blue. "H-Hey I'm being honest!" He hurried to say, "okay! I'll start lying! Sakura-chan! You're going to get big one day too! In fact, it'll be any day now!"
Sakura's smile became much sweeter, as Naruto's ribs started creaking.
The Sage banged his staff on the ground and a portal opened. He frowned and nodded to Sakura. "You shall have your time." He glanced at Naruto and Sasuke, "flare your chakra once you're done." He then stepped through, and the portal closed behind him.
Sakura immediately left Naruto, and started glaring at him. "I see you after such a long time and that's the first thing you say to me!"
Naruto chuckled, wincing in pain slightly. "Sorry, Sakura-chan. I really missed you too, but we need to talk fast." His eyes became serious, "what do you think of the plan? Are you okay with it?"
Sakura gave him a thumbs-up, grinning slightly, "yeah. I'm ditching Konoha too."
Naruto's eyes widened in surprise. "W-What? W-Why?!"
Sakura pouted, "I made a lot of umm… animal friends back where I was." She shivered with happiness as she clutched her hands to her chest. "Some of them are so adorable! A-And they'd probably miss me so… I-I can't stay here."
Naruto frowned, "animal friends?"
Sakura nodded with a smile, she dug her hand into her pouch, "I got some pictures." She took one out, and showed it to Naruto. The picture depicted a yellow rat like creature with red circles near it's cheeks. It was tilting its head at the camera. Sakura smiled as she showed it off to Naruto, "he's called a Pikachu."
Naruto chuckled, "hey, he's pretty cute."
Sakura beamed, "yeah he is!" She crossed her hands and nodded resolutely. "The village can manage without me. My animal friends will miss me terribly!" She smiled at Naruto, "I'm with your plan."
Naruto scratched his head, "umm, what about your parents?"
Sakura nonchalantly shrugged, "oh, I'm gonna kidnap them and Sai."
Naruto blinked, "k-kidnap? And Sai too?"
Sakura scowled, "my parents don't like all the violence anyway. And Sai deserves better than what was done to him."
Naruto pursed his lips and slowly nodded. He grinned, "glad to have you on board, Sakura-chan."
Naruto turned to Kakashi, who was observing them with a smile. "What about you, sensei?"
Kakashi chuckled and nodded. "I'm glad you're leaving the village, Naruto. I'll be honest, your future looks bleak if you stay." Kakashi sighed, "the whole world will have its eye on you. And that's a horrible fate to have." He then smiled, "did you find any good friends where you were at?"
Naruto nodded with a massive smile. "I-I got adopted too! And I got a girlfriend! A-And my friends are amazing!" He chuckled, a little sob of happiness mixed in it, "it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
Kakashi put his elbows on his knees and took a shuddering breath. "I-I'm glad." He shook his head sadly. He then looked up with a subdued smile, "your father and mother would've been thrilled. To hear you so happy."
Naruto looked up at the sky with a wistful smile. "You think so?"
Kakashi laughed. "I know so." He then reclined back on his seat, letting his back rest against the table. "And also, I'll be leaving Konoha as well."
Naruto's eyes widened and he whipped his head down. "Y-You're what?!"
Kakashi chuckled, staring off into the clouds. "I've… taken in a girl. She considers me her father for some reason. She's had a hard life." He looked back down and Naruto could see fondness in his eyes. Kakashi continued, "she'll be starting school in a military academy soon." His eyes narrowed, "and there're a lot of threats currently. I want to weed them out before they reach her."
Kakashi shook his head and composed himself. He smiled at Naruto, "do you understand me, Naruto?"
Naruto nodded, "yeah, sensei." He smiled, "good for ya. Take care of your girl okay?" Kakashi chuckled and nodded.
Naruto then turned to Sasuke and gave him a flat look. "And you want to be god."
Sasuke chuckled. "The one and only."
Naruto sighed, "you're hopeless." He scowled, "why can't you be normal?"
Sasuke scoffed, "I'm an Uchiha."
Naruto rolled his eyes, "yeah, sorry. I forgot."
Naruto then crossed his fingers in a hand-seal.
A few clones popped into existence.
Naruto ordered, "hey, sneak into the library and get all the books on sealing okay?"
Kakashi piped in, "there'll be a hidden room behind the plants on the third floor. You'll find jonin grade books there." Naruto grinned and thanked him. Kakashi continued, "promise me you'll read the book on safety as well."
Naruto nodded, "ya got it sensei!" He turned to his clones, "you heard the man!"
"Yes, boss!" The clones saluted and ran away towards the library.
Naruto then turned to Sasuke, "so about the snake and his minion-"
Sasuke smirked darkly, "they'll never wake up from their dreams." He chuckled, "they've been dealt with."
Naruto grimaced. "Good." He shook his thoughts off the snake and got back on track. He smiled at Sasuke, "so, can ya sense him?"
Naruto chuckled, "can ya swap him from wherever he is?"
Sasuke's smirk widened.
Naruto whistled, "sweet."
Naruto looked around at his team and Sasuke. He asked them, "so? We ready to give the Sage our answers?"
The team and Sasuke nodded as one.
Naruto hummed. He turned to Sasuke. "Let's flare."
Sasuke grunted, "hn."
They flared their chakra.
And a portal opened with the Sage stepping out.
The Sage, team 7 and Sasuke sat around in a circle, using seats from the Ichiraku restaurant.
The Sage began, "tell me, Hatake Kakashi. What have you learned in your travels." He inclined his head, "teach this one what he could not have learned on his own."
Kakashi scratched the back of his head. "Peacekeeping. We need peace keeping forces."
The Sage frowned, "do the actions of government not turn these peace keeping forces into their antithesis?" He crossed his arms and stared with his Rinnegan into the Hatake's eyes.
Kakashi shook his head. "They have to be an international organization. Where I'm from they're called the bracer guild. They're made up of combatants, administrators and intelligence agents who act chiefly to keep peace and protect civilians. They strictly do not intervene with politics or military but deal with everything else." Kakashi hunted for a book in his pouch and tossed it to the Sage. "Well, there's a loophole for that too. You can read it for yourself. That's their book of rules and their code."
The Sage smiled with intrigue, "where you're from? An interesting choice of words." Kakashi winced. The Sage chuckled and nodded, idly flipping through the book's pages, "I shall read this and meditate on it."
Kakashi tossed him another scroll, "I sealed some more books regarding some of the guild's history and its actions. You can refer that for examples."
Hagoromo nodded with a satisfied smile, "most excellent." He bowed slightly. "Thank you, Hatake Kakashi."
Kakashi chuckled uncomfortably and bowed in return. "That's it from me."
"Slice and dice the bijuu!" Sakura said with stars in her eyes.
Sasuke blinked and turned to her in surprise. He smirked, "so, you've finally seen the light, Sakura-"
"Shut up, I'm not done yet," she said, making a face at Sasuke.
Naruto heaved a sigh of relief, "t-thank god. Kurama's almost blew a gasket right now."
The Sage said, "could you clarify your statement, Haruno Sakura?"
Sakura grinned and nodded. "So, it's like you created the bijuu right?"
The Sage nodded, "yes."
"So, there are only nine of them in the whole world."
The Sage frowned and nodded, wondering where she was going, "yes again."
Sakura said, "so aren't they lonely? It's like the whole of humanity is pitted against them." She frowned, "they're definitely gonna be sealed and used again. I won't believe that they'll be left alone in peace. They're basically weapons."
The Sage grimaced.
Sakura continued, "so, why don't you give them their own family?"
The Sage blinked, "what?"
Sakura grinned and tossed the Sage a small red device. The Sage caught it. He frowned and flipped the flap open. Sakura continued, "that's called a Pokédex. You can use that for ideas."
The Sage pressed a button on the device. And it started speaking in a computerized voice, "Blaziken. The blaze Pokémon-"
Naruto scratched his cheeks, turning to Sakura, "what's a Pokémon?"
Sakura turned to him, "that's what the animals are called." She mumbled to herself, "they're actually creatures but I don't want to get technical."
The Sage flipped the device close and gave Sakura a considering look, "what would be the use of birthing these creatures?"
Sakura shrugged, "well, it'd make reviving Kaguya much more difficult if you spread the bijuu's chakra so thin. It'd be impossible to collect all the their chakra." She then smiled, "also being only one of nine sounds quite lonely. So they'd have a family right? They'd have someone to look after and there'll be someone to look after them."
Naruto blinked and chuckled. "Hey, Kurama says you're an honorary bijuu now. I think he likes you."
The Sage smiled, "high praise from Kurama." He nodded at Sakura, "you've given me much to think about Haruno Sakura." He bowed, "thank you."
Sakura bowed with a smile, "hehe. I'm done!"
Sasuke grinned like a megalomaniac. He declared his answer,
The Sage nodded, and turned to the rest, "yes, I suppose we can move on."
Sasuke glared, "I'm not done yet."
The Sage ignored the Uchiha, he began talking to Naruto.
Sasuke scowled and began planning his revenge.
He then got distracted thinking about a certain devil and how he'd go out with her…
His eyes widened and he flushed.
H-He meant take her out! As in defeat her!
He growled and punched his knees. Damn it! Why did she never take him seriously!
She was so much hotter when she was serious!
Sasuke's face went blank.
He began punching himself to knock some sense into his head.
Sakura raised her seat and sat down a few feet away from him, looking at him with some concern.
The Sage frowned, "so let me reiterate. Open a prestigious school for all the nations. Call it Dahlia Academy. And make sure to enroll Inuzuka Kiba in it?"
Naruto grinned and nodded.
Hagoromo frowned, "why Inuzuka Kiba?"
Naruto chuckled, "poetic."
Hagoromo continued, "what would be the use of this school?
Naruto smiled, "it'll give everyone a chance to get together and see how life might be in other nations. And hopefully they'll understand each other." Naruto then frowned, "but, you can't just push people together and expect them to get along, ya gotta bribe them, cajole them, do something to light the initial spark."
Hagoromo pursed his lips, "how?"
Naruto tossed him a storage scroll, and grinned, "anime! Games! Cosplay! Movies! Educational grants! Field trips! All the fun things you can think of!" He then said seriously, "but you gotta handle politics too. You can't let the daimyos and other rulers stuff their agendas into your plans." Naruto glared, "they'll try to control things in their own favor." Naruto grinned, "so, you gotta try to bribe their self interests and string them along." Naruto shrugged, "that or just show them who's boss."
Hagoromo frowned, "that is just pushing one's agenda on others through a show of power."
Naruto glared, "hey, either you push or they will. And here's some news, they're better at it. That's how they became rulers in the first place." Naruto sighed and simmered down, "being a good guy is nice and all, but until you change the game you gotta play by its rules." Naruto frowned, "I'm still trying to figure out how to change the game for the better. It's a work in progress."
Hagoromo smiled, "and you will be figuring it out with your academy friends, am I correct?"
Naruto grinned brightly and nodded. "Yup!"
The Sage smirked and chuckled.
A second passed.
Naruto paled, realizing what he'd just said. He gulped, and smiled shakily, "I-I mean with my friends in Konoh-"
Hagoromo stood up and walked away, an amused smile on his face. "Child, you are a thousand years too young to even think of tricking me."
Team 7 and Sasuke immediately got up on their feet and stood on guard, looking warily at the Sage.
Hagoromo turned and smiled. "My apologies, but I was listening to everything you said when you had your brief meeting in my absence." He nodded at them with understanding, "if you have no desire to stay here, then I will not keep you." He chuckled, "rest assured I will make good use of all that you've imparted unto me."
He rotated his staff once and banged on the floor.
A portal burst open in the air above them. The ninjas braced themselves against the strong wind that started billowing.
The Sage gave them an apologetic look, "my apologies for being so abrupt, but delaying any further would cause time slippage in the other dimensions."
The ninjas frowned with confusion, and looked like they wanted to speak, but the Sage cut them off. The Sage closed his index and thumb fingers, snapping close the ninjas' jaws. Preventing them from speaking.
The Sage turned to Kakashi. "I wish you well, Hatake Kakashi. You have lost much. So I hope your new life proves better than your last."
The Sage turned to Sakura. "Haruno Sakura, I heard your wishes for your parents and the boy named Sai. I shall inquire their views on the matter and send them shortly if they wish to be with you."
The Sage turned to Sasuke. "You play a dangerous game, Uchiha Sasuke. I am not unaware of the beings you wish to contend with. Tread wisely, for they shall not hesitate to kill you."
The Sage turned to Naruto. "Uzumaki Naruto, I have caused you much grief, in forcing you to decide between your old and new homes. For that I apologize." The Sage closed his eyes for a second before he thrust his hand at Naruto.
A red blur shot at the Uzumaki, hitting him in the stomach and throwing him to the floor.
"Gah" Naruto yelled as he fell down, skidding along the floor.
The Sage continued with a smile. "There, you have Kurama's other half now. Please make sure he behaves."
The Sage nodded to all of them. He lifted his hand in the air, and the ninjas soon found themselves flailing helplessly. Suspended above ground, they all gave him pissed looks.
The Sage smirked, "let it be said, Otsusuki Hagoromo never let a bunch of whippersnappers get the best of him." He chuckled and thrust his arm forward. "So long! And thanks for all the fish!"
The ninjas gave him a 'what the heck?' expression before they were blasted into the portal, disappearing into the dark swirling void which shut close a few seconds after.
The Sage frowned, he was expecting Uzumaki Naruto to get that reference. He sighed and cracked his knuckles. "Oh well." He began walking towards the god tree.
"A second chance, hmm? Let's see how this goes."
He laughed and for the first time in centuries-
Felt a spark of hope.
Nighttime, Dahlia Academy, October 9th, 11:55pm
The academy streets were quiet. The moon was high up in the air. And the Black Dogs mess was dimly lit with indoor lights.
A girl sat alone in the Black Dogs mess, wondering when her boyfriend would show up.
A portal opened in the middle of the courtyard and Naruto careened out of it, totally out of balance.
His momentum hurled him from across the main courtyard and into the mess hall of the Black Dogs.
Tripping over his feet, Naruto stumbled over the table and knocked it upside down, falling to the floor.
A bowl full of hot broth and noodles splattered on his head. He pursed his lips and let out a small yelp. But as the broth dripped down his face, and the fragrance of the noodles swept his senses, he found his tongue reaching for the stray noodle which had found its way to his lips. He slurped up the noodle.
And his mouth exploded with flavor.
"Are you okay?!" A girl kneeled before him and started cleaning his head with a handkerchief. "Oi, get up! Don't burn your face!"
"Did you make that bowl?" Naruto whispered, bunching up his knees and sitting up. He saw the girl and winked at her, smiling with mischief. Hasuki blinked at him and then snickered.
Hasuki smiled, "yeah, Hasuki made that for her boyfriend. Why, did you like ruining it?" She mock glared at him, trying to stop her giggles.
Naruto grinned. "I'm Naruto Uzumaki, I'm a familiar face around here. And I know we already met and this may not sound that crazy." He took the girl's hand and placed a kiss on it. "But marry me maybe?"
Hasuki tackled him with a hug, laughing happily. "Yes!" She giggled as she cuddled against him. "Maybe in a few years, but definitely yes!"
Naruto smiled. "I'm back for good, Hasuki."
Hasuki parted from the hug and kissed his cheek. She giggled as the boy blushed. She said, "hey, let's celebrate?" She grinned, "let's go to a restaurant in the Duchy! It should still be evening there, right?"
Naruto pouted at her, "oi, I'm not a taxi service!"
Hasuki gave him an understanding look, "you're not a taxi service, Naruto." She leaned forward and kissed him on the lips. Naruto flushed like a tomato. The girl parted and winked at him, "you're my taxi service."
Naruto's eyes twitched. He then grinned, "hey, ever wonder what it feels like to free fall? Like the drop tower in amusement parks."
Hasuki blinked. She then smiled hesitantly at Naruto, "y-you're not a drop tower, Naruto."
Naruto nodded with understanding, "I'm not a drop tower, Hasuki." Naruto leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. The girl blushed lightly and giggled as he parted. Naruto winked at her, "I'm your drop tower."
Hasuki gulped, "y-you're not gonna-"
Naruto cheered, "let's free fall, baby!"
He hugged her and began glowing orange.
Hasuki shrieked and clutched him tight. "N-Naruto, I'll kill you!"
Naruto cackled. "Hell yeah!"
The boy and girl disappeared in a flash of orange.
End of Arc 3: Family Feud
That's all folks!
That's the end of the story!
Hope you enjoyed it!
I would love to hear your thoughts!
I'll write an epilogue later but it won't be anytime soon. Marking the story as complete as of now.
Stay safe everyone.
Thank you for reading my story.