AN: new chapter up
Chapter 36 - Usagiyama Yua
The sound of oil sizzling in the frying pan stirred Naruto awake from his slumber. As the smell of fried sausages reached his nose, his stomach let out a loud growl. His bones and muscles groaned in protest as he got up from the sofa. Letting out a big yawn, he lifted his hands above his head and stretched his back and tails.
Following the enticing smell, Naruto headed straight to the kitchen.
Outside of his control, a smile appeared on his face at the sight of his girlfriend. With her long white hair tied up in a messy bun and an apron wrapped around her waist, the rabbit girl was in the midst of cooking breakfast.
Normally, most Japanese people prefer to have lighter meals for breakfast, such as soup, rice, salads, or fish. But, knowing her boyfriend's tastes, Mirko cooked different dishes for him.
"Good morning, Rumi-chan," he said as he hugged her from behind and kissed her on the cheek.
She turned around in his embrace and put her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she said while hugging him. "When I heard you were kidnapped, I didn't know where even to begin looking for you. And when I saw the massacre in the headquarters of HPSC's black ops I feared the worst."
"It was a close one," Naruto said, not daring to make jokes at that moment. "One of their agents poisoned me while I was being crowded by girls on the train, and when I got down, I was attacked by a large group of people with quirks. The next thing I knew, I woke up in an underground chamber, immobilised by a maiden and strapped down to a table."
When her sensitive nose picked up the fact that the sausages in the frying pan needed to be taken out, Mirko reluctantly let go of him and turned her attention to the stove.
Letting her finish cooking in peace, Naruto went ahead and set up the table. A few moments later, the two were seated across from each other, eating.
"So, what happened after you regained consciousness? How did you escape? What happened? Come on, spill the beans already!"
He chuckled a bit at her impatience.
"When I woke up, their leader, an old man called Danzo showed up and told me some crap about Japan conquering the world. He tried to convert me to his cause. Apparently, they've been looking for a chance to capture me for years. It was all for the sake of finding out how I awakened my quirk two times in a row. When I refused, he ordered the doctors to put me into an artificial coma."
After saying that, he grabbed a sausage with his chopsticks and ate it all in no more than two bites before also grabbing a few omelette rolls and throwing them into his mouth. He was wolfing down the food as if he had been starving for weeks.
"They shot themselves in the foot when they did that because after they drugged me, there was nothing left to hold back the feral nature of my quirk."
"That doesn't make sense. I mean, you were unconscious, weren't you? I thought the feral nature of your quirk was just some animalistic instincts," she said.
"That's what I used to think too, until last night."
All of a sudden, Mirko's chair dragged against the floor and made a loud screeching noise as she abruptly jumped back startled, instinctively adopting a fighting stance.
"Her senses are something different, you were right," a deep voice came from under the table, making Mirko's eyes widen in surprise when she got a glimpse of the creature that had tried to sneak up on her.
It was a crimson-red creature with a head resembling that of a long-eared fox and two limbs that looked like clawed, humanoid arms. Lastly, its lower body ended in a long appendage that was connected to Naruto's belly.
"Turns out my quirk's feral nature was more than just some murderous impulses. It was a whole different consciousness. Rumi, this is Kurama. Kurama, this is Rumi," he said, introducing them one to another.
Mirko looked at the fox-like being with an intrigued expression on her face.
She got so deep into Kyuubi's personal space that the fox found himself subconsciously backing away from her. After 17 years spent inside Naruto's body in this new world, Kyuubi had resigned himself with the idea that he was no longer a nigh-unstoppable force of nature like in the past, but that didn't mean he was used to people being so unafraid of him or them getting so close to him.
"Don't touch me, woman! I'll kill you!" Kyuubi snapped at her and slapped her hand away when she tried touching him to feel the texture of his skin.
But his death threats had the opposite effect. The rabbit girl almost swooned.
"Oh my god, isn't he adorable?" she gushed.
But when she tried to get her hands on him again, Kyuubi unexpectedly shrank back even more, burrowing back into Naruto's body again.
As for the blond, he had been grinning the entire time at the sight of Kurama's uncomfortable expression. The fox practically hiding back into his body to get away from Mirko made him burst into laughter.
"He'll warm up to you. Eventually," he said when he saw how deflated she appeared to be.
The two of them spent the rest of the breakfast time making light conversation and joking around.
Once they were done eating and went to the living room, Naruto knew that he could no longer put off discussing the aftermath of his kidnapping.
"I'm surprised the mass media hasn't made a report about it yet. With these many deaths, I thought it would be all over the news today," Naruto said.
"I think that the HPSC is blocking the information and pressuring the mass media into not reporting last night's incident. Remember how I told you that the HPSC aren't as good as the general public thinks they are? Rumours of HPSC having a secret black ops branch have been flying around for many years, and this pretty much confirms it. The organisation that kidnapped you last night has to be linked to HPSC in some way or another. Otherwise, they wouldn't go to such lengths to hide the truth of the matter."
Nevertheless, while the mass media had yet to make the incident public, it would be impossible for the HPSC to be able to bury the matter quietly after dozens of Pro Heroes and police special forces had seen the scene of the massacre with their own eyes,
"But even with HPSC stopping it from going public, honestly, things aren't looking great," Mirko said and showed him various conversations happening between Pro Heroes on the forums of the Hero Network App. "I don't think you'll get away with just a slap on the wrist this time, Naruto."
A regular teenager would have revolted at what she said and started complaining out loud that he was the victim and that it was self-defence. But he understood his situation clearly.
"...I might never be able to become a Pro Hero after this."
Mirko nodded her head, a grave expression on her face.
"Not even 10 hours have passed since the incident, but photos of the death and destruction you left behind are already being uploaded on the internet. The HPSC can't do anything to stop that… You know by now that a Pro-Hero's success depends not only on their strength but on their popularity as well. More often than not, their popularity is even more important than their actual strength and accomplishments… I can't predict how the public will react to what you did."
Although he had been in the right to do whatever was necessary to escape after the HPSC's black ops kidnapped him, his actions had been too extreme. If he had only killed a few of his captors in order to escape, the matter would have been settled right away. But what he did was different. It was one thing to kill a handful of people in self-defence and a totally different thing to brutally massacre everyone in the building. More than 30 people lost their lives at his hands that night, they were torn and disfigured beyond recognition. That couldn't be counted as self-defence. It was a rage-fuelled revenge.
"Sorry…" Kyuubi's voice unexpectedly rang in his mind.
"I can't hold it against you. If it wasn't for you taking control, I might have died or worse."
⁂ Later, in the evening ⁂
It had been a hectic day for Naruto. Spending several hours being interrogated by Pro Heroes and the police alike left him drained. It also took a lot of energy and patience out of him to calm his parents and convince them that he was unharmed. And, on top of all that, the reporters had been hounding him the entire day as well.
While the HPSC was trying to keep the incident under wraps for fear of the population finding out about their dark and dirty secrets, the fact that Naruto had been kidnapped couldn't be hidden given that there were dozens of eyewitnesses. The journalists were dying to find out the identity of the ones who had attacked him and how he had managed to escape. It was too big a scoop for them to ignore it.
Now, he was on the rooftop of the skyscraper where Mirko lived, in Hiroshima. Seeing as it was still March, despite being only 6 p.m., the sky was dyed in various shades of red, yellow, and orange as the sun began to set.
Sitting at the edge of the rooftop with his feet dangling out and his tails swaying softly in the wind, Naruto was watching Hiroshima's skyline in silence, taking comfort in hearing the distant buzz of the city below, and the beauty of the sea and the sky at the sunset.
His fox ears twitched, and he turned his head to the source of the noise. It was Mirko. Wearing a pair of cropped and ripped blue jeans, white sneakers, and a baggy red hoodie, the rabbit girl just returned from the supermarket carrying a white plastic bag in her hand.
Despite his mental tiredness and the gloom he was feeling at that moment as he contemplated the uncertainty of the future, Rumi's cheerful greeting made his serious face break into a smile.
She came and took a seat next to him, letting her legs dangle out of the rooftop just like him. Putting the white bag down on the floor of the rooftop, she took out two cans and handed one to Naruto before opening hers.
"Oh, come on, it's not like you haven't drank before."
"I don't feel like drinking now."
"Don't be a baby, have a drink with your Aneki," she said with a grin and ruffled his hair roughly before taking a big chug out of her can. "Ah, this hits the spot!"
The way he pushed her hand away in annoyance made her laugh.
"Better be a drunkard than a party pooper like you."
"Party? What party, I don't see anyone partying here."
"Well, we could have a party if you weren't so busy mopping here on the rooftop like an angsty teenager."
"I'm not mopping!"
She giggled at how he raised his voice.
"Stop it, Rumi, I'm not in the mood now," he said with a sigh when she kept trying to push the can of beer into his hands.
"Here I am, trying to get out of the funk, and there you are, pushing me away," she said crestfallen.
"You're not good at pouting. It won't work on me," he said, inwardly amused by her act.
"Strange, Eri-chan told me pouting is super effective on you."
Outside of his will, he snorted in amusement.
"Well, if that doesn't work, maybe this will."
As she said those words, she took another gulp of beer and then, catching him completely by surprise, she grabbed him by the collar of his sweatshirt and covered his lips in an open-mouthed kiss.
He couldn't even think about protesting as she "fed" him the beer mouth-to-mouth. He was frozen in a stupor.
Breaking the kiss, she laughed in delight at the dumbfounded look on his face.
"I think I broke him," she thought out loud and leaned in again, kissing and licking the trail of beer that had trickled from the corner of his lips and down his chin during their previous kiss.
He shivered as her lips trailed down from his chin to his neck and collarbone. But she didn't go any further. Instead, she went up again, and this time, Naruto fully reciprocated her kiss, pressing a hand on the small of her back and caressing her face with his thumb.
"Can't believe you actually force-fed me beer mouth to mouth!" he said when they finally stopped making out and he regained some of his mental faculties.
"I didn't hear you complaining then," she laughed.
"Are you kidding me? It was disgusting!"
"Liar. Your face was as red as an apple!"
The cans of beer were completely forgotten now as Naruto and Rumi started bickering as they cuddled together on the rooftop. In the first place, it was never about getting drunk, it was all about taking his mind off his depressing thoughts.
"Do you hear me, mister? You should count your lucky stars to have a girlfriend like me!"
"Definitely. Where else would I find a girl who'd ignore her boyfriend for months at a time?"
"Hey! That's so not fair of you! We've both agreed to have limited contact until you became of age! You think it was easy for me?"
"I didn't agree to any of that," he retorted. "You decided it one-sidedly."
"I made your mum a promise, and I intend to keep it."
"Yada-Yada- Ouch! What the hell, what's with the biting, weren't you vegetarian?" he yelped when she sank her teeth into his shoulder.
"Newsflash: rabbits can bite too!"
"Oh really? Guess what: foxes bite too!" he said and chomped on the tender skin of her neck, making her cry out.
Soon, their bickering turned into a rough wrestling session. Shoving each other and rolling around on the rooftop's floor, the two of them were locked in a fierce struggle for several minutes.
Whereas before Rumi always ended up on top of him and pinned him down with her superior strength, this time around, to her great surprise, it was Naruto who gained the upper hand. After his third awakening, his physical strength had increased yet again. His physique wasn't any weaker than hers anymore.
Now, he was in full mount on top of her, panting heavily as he straddled her thighs and pinned her hands above her head
"I win! I beat you this time!" he said in triumph.
"So what? Expecting a kiss now, are we?"
But just as he was about to lean down and claim his prize, a camera's flash made both him and Rumi freeze like statues. In the next moment, he jumped up from her as if burnt, and Mirko also bounced up to her feet instantly as well.
"Ohoho! Please don't mind me, do continue what you were about to do~"
"Mother?! What- why are you here?!" Mirko said in disbelief.
"That's your mother?!" Naruto was also startled.
But as he took another glance at the unwelcome visitor, he felt stupid for even asking that question. The newcomer looked so much like Mirko that she could easily pass for her elder sister.
"You never said anything about your mother coming over."
"That's because I didn't know either! She was supposed to be in the United States! Mother! What's the meaning of this?"
Mirko's mother put a hand on her large chest and said dramatically:
"Ah, why do you wound me so? After how I travelled from the other end of the planet just to see my daughter, that's how she treats me!"
Momentarily, Naruto couldn't take his eyes off Mirko's mother. Not for the first time that day, he was speechless.
'She's… she's way too young!'
The glamorous woman in front of him didn't look a day over 35.
'Rumi herself looks a few years younger than she is but if I didn't know any better, I'd think she and her mother were sisters.'
Standing at 165 cm tall (the 10 cm tall high heels included), Mirko's mother was a short woman, just like her daughter. But other than that, their styles were completely different. While Rumi loved casual, sporty, and streetwear outfits, her mother looked like she came out of the cover of a fashion magazine with her knee-high beige boots, her long, double-breasted tan coat, and the tasteful thigh-length white sweater dress underneath. Her stylish, wavy bob hairstyle only served to enhance her already glamorous appearance.
Her heels made a loud clacking noise as she walked towards Mirko and took her in a big hug, embracing her lovingly.
"I missed you so much, dear!"
"...I missed you too, mother," Mirko said but it was clear to Naruto that her heart wasn't into it.
Letting go of her daughter, she turned to him with a look of deep interest and curiosity.
"And who is this handsome young man? Your boyfriend, I presume?"
"Naruto, this is my mother, Usagiyama Yua. Mother, this is Uzumaki Naruto, my boyfriend."
"Nice to meet you, Usagiyama-san," Naruto said and bowed, trying to be polite.
"No, no, we'll have none of that!" she said in English, confusing Naruto, before switching back to Japanese: "Call me Yua. Or even better, you can call me mother, just like Rumi-chan does."
"I couldn't do something like that, Rumi and I aren't-"
"Is it not possible?" she said pleadingly as she leaned closer into his personal space.
"I-, um-" Naruto took a step back, flustered at her forwardness, and threw Mirko a pleading look that practically begged for help.
"Fufu, you're adorable," Yua said as she cupped his chin gently with her fingers.
Naruto, on his part, had no idea how he was supposed to act around her. On one hand, he could tell that Rumi's relationship with her mother wasn't stellar. For example, in the nearly two years they've known each other, she barely told him anything about her. But on the other hand, he didn't want to be rude and give off a bad first impression either because, sooner or later, she was going to be his mother-in-law, he had no doubts about that. After all, he couldn't imagine spending his life with someone other than Rumi. After everything they'd been through until then, and after two years of relationship, he could say with conviction that he truly loved her.
"Mother, that's enough!" Mirko almost shouted, unable to bear with her behaviour anymore, and got between her and Naruto. "You're making him uncomfortable."
Unlike her daughter's agitated demeanour, Yua remained jovial.
"Let's get back inside. I have so many things I want to talk about with you! And I've come bearing gifts too!"
The older woman looked like she was having the time of her life as she walked ahead of Naruto and Rumi, leading the way back to the apartment.
"I can't believe you've finally got a boyfriend too, Rumi-chan. Mommy is so proud of you!"
"Mother!" Mirko complained, asking her to stop.
"But I'm serious. You've always been such a brutish tomboy-"
"-as if you'd have any way of knowing that! You weren't even there to see it!"
For a moment, Mrs Usagiyama became silent. Naruto could tell even without the abilities of his quirk that she was hurt by her daughter's words.
Nevertheless, after that short pause, Yua continued as if she had not even heard her daughter's words.
"-I thought you'd never find someone you liked. You're 28 now, most women your age are married and have kids already. You have no idea how relieved I am to see that you've found a guy who isn't scared of you."
Naruto knew he shouldn't laugh, but the situation was oddly amusing to him. He had never seen Rumi appear that uncomfortable while speaking to someone.
"Mother, stop it, seriously!"
"Naruto, honey, Rumi might be rough around the edges, but she's got a good heart. Deep down, she's a very loving and affectionate girl, trust me. So don't give up on her, okay?"
"Don't worry, okaa-sama," he said, all the while grinning teasingly at Rumi who had steam coming out of her ears by now at how Naruto decided to play her mother's game. "I'd never give up on her. We've been together for almost two years now, I love her."
"Two years?! TWO YEARS?" she said in disbelief before stopping and turning towards her daughter with her hands on her waist. She was fuming. "RUMI! YOU'VE BEEN IN A RELATIONSHIP FOR TWO YEARS AND I ONLY FOUND OUT ABOUT IT JUST NOW?!"
"Naruto, you're so dead," Mirko said through gritted teeth.
While the Usagiyama mother and daughter were having an argument and Naruto watched the unfolding scene in thinly veiled amusement, the situation was completely different in a particular organisation located on the other side of the country, in Tokyo.
A sombre mood reigned in the headquarters of the Hero Public Safety Commission. Despite the late hour (it was almost 7 o'clock in the evening), the upper echelons of the organisation were all still at work, gathered together in the conference room, and locked in a heated debate.
"It's impossible to hide this matter from the public! We may be holding the mass media back for now but too many people were at the scene yesterday! Rumours and photos of the incident have already started circulating on the internet!"
"So what do you suggest? What do you think the public will think if they learn about the existence and purpose of ROOT? This is a PR nightmare. No, it's a catastrophe! HPSC would be shut down within the week!"
"We need a scapegoat. Shimura Danzo is the perfect target," the President of the HPSC, a middle-aged woman with shoulder-length blonde hair and a stoic face said.
"I don't think that will be enough. Danzo was found dead in a secret bunker. It's too late to give a verdict, but the results of the forensics' investigation point towards it being a case of suicide.
"That just works out in our favour. He's dead, so he can't defend himself against our claims, and his manner of death would also be interpreted as him deciding to kill himself rather than being imprisoned for life in Tartarus."
"Then, what about Uzumaki Naruto?"
After that question popped up, all six people in the conference room became silent for a moment.
"He's killed too many people this time. He should face the consequences of his deeds."
"It's not that easy to prosecute him," someone retorted. "First of all, he was the victim in this scenario. We can't spin the story around because many people witnessed our agents' attack on him in Hiruya Town. Furthermore, the dozens of policemen and Pro Heroes who came to ROOT HQ have also watched the security camera footage showing how they brought him inside the base and strapped him down to a table. Secondly, any decent defence attorney would claim that his deeds were a result of his quirk going berserk which, in turn, would bring the blame back to us again. Lastly, he is still underage."
"He may have been the victim, but he's too dangerous to be left to roam free! He killed over 30 highly trained ROOT operatives, for god's sake! Even someone like All Might wouldn't have an easy time pulling off something like that!"
"If we tried to prosecute him and, in his anger, he became a villain, what would we do then?"
When the president asked that question, the two men who were in favour of making Naruto pay for his deeds immediately shut up.
"All For One is already a painful thorn in our side. And then, let's also not forget the civil war that's only moments away from exploding because of the metahuman liberation movement spearheaded by Destro. Hawks informed us that many villains had joined his cause and that they are only moments away from triggering the war. This isn't the time for us to act based on our grudges and demand people to be punished when we could make use of them instead."
As the five men remained silent, the president continued:
"Make no mistake, a war is coming. It's unavoidable. It's too late to stop it now. Rather than making an enemy out of Uzumaki Naruto, it is much better to have him as an ally. Don't look at him as just a student or a little kid anymore. After the way he destroyed ROOT, he proved that he could be a crucial war asset. His power alone is no different than that of the Top 5 Heroes. And he's still only 18. Imagine how powerful he'll become in a few years if he keeps improving at the same rate."
"Speaking of the Top 5 Heroes, my sources tell me that Uzumaki Naruto and the Rabbit Hero are romantically involved," someone else added.
"I thought those were just gossip and tabloids?" another one replied.
"No, it's very much real. I had people from PSIA monitor the online activity of Uzumaki Naruto and his family over the past two years. We've recorded all their phone and video calls, text messages and their in-person interactions too. Their relationship is as strong as any other. That being said, having Uzumaki Naruto at our side automatically means having the Rabbit Hero with us too. You could say that they are a package deal." (1)
"Then we should make sure that the boy knows just how big the favour we did for him was. He needs to know how much we are supporting him for him to feel indebted to us."
While the president and four others expressed their agreement with the conclusion they reached, the last one among them said:
"That's all well and good but what do we do about our current problems? How do we cover up Danzo's fuck up, how do we hide the existence of ROOT and its acts?"
None of them could find an easy answer to that question. The HPSC's higher echelons spent another two hours in the conference room, racking their brains for a solution to their conundrum.
AN: (1) PSIA is the Public Security Intelligence Agency. It is Japan's secret services organisation.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. As for the ones who are interested in reading the next chapter ahead of schedule, you can find it on pa tre on at /grumpywolf. Until next time!