Hey guys? If I tell you something really cool, will you forgive the atrocious amount of time it took to get this chapter to you?

Somebody PM'd me about doing a manga adaptation of Prodigals! Xo4evagurlox is her name on this site, and she'll be posting at deviantArt under the name candee4meeha. You can find the link for the manga cover on my page – the link's just above. Go give her some love anyway.


Prodigals

Chapter 010

So Very Human


Last time…

Naruto raced down the hallways, heart pounding, ready to take real action against the direct perpetrators of the crimes. Finally, the gaping hole in the floor of Akechi's home was visible and he flung himself inside, still landing with all the grace and silence of an expert shinobi. He slipped down the hallway as fast he could without making too much noise; near the end it widened out, and he could see the glow of torches up ahead. Slowing down, he pressed his body against the rock and inched his way to the end of the passage, hoping to catch a glimpse of what was going on.

Naruto made it just in time to see a maniacally-grinning man run his katana through Hinata's throat.

All the fight left him in a whoosh of breath; time slowed down to less than a trickle. Blood sprayed out in slow motion, coating the man's face. Hinata gurgled and choked.

The man chuckled nastily and walked away, back to where his circle of ANBU were convening around Akechi, leaving his sword to slow the blood flow so that her death would be slow and painful. They began to murmur quietly, but he heard none of it; his eyes were only for her.

With all the silent and deadly grace of his training – because there was still a mission to be done, whether or not he was falling apart – he crept toward her, illusion shooting up around them so that they could talk – so that he could heal her, help her, do something! – unhindered. Nobody took note of the new genjutsu; their excitement was rising at the prospect of being so close to summoning.

"Hinata, Hinata, Hinata…" he whispered

"Naruto…" she smiled up at him and cupped his cheek with her hand. It was a surprisingly firm grip for someone who was dying.

"I…love…"

"H-hinata?"

"…Jiraiya…"

The fierce pounding in his head disappeared, replaced by a light, unbelieving haze. "What?" She sat up with a half-smile and rolled one shoulder, then the other.

"You need to lighten up!" she chided in a strong voice, drawing the sword from within her neck as if it were a knife being drawn from hot butter – that was to say, effortlessly. He stared at the blood coating the sword – her blood. Hinata moved her torso to face him; Naruto watched, enthralled, as the wound began to stitch itself together, much as his own hurts did, courtesy of the Kyuubi. Now they were only the bloodstains that sprinkled her face, neck, exposed shoulders and clothes. What was going on?

"Naruto?" She looked at him strangely, as if wondering why he had frozen up, like a statue. It took her a moment to realize why he looked like somebody had just killed his happy – recognition lighted in her eyes as his calloused right hand tentatively reached up to trace from the underside of her chin to the end of her neck, eliciting a shiver from her.

"Oh, gods, what have I done?" she asked hoarsely to no one. "Naruto! Please, oh please, look at my face. I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm completely fine, despite wanting to shove my foot in my mouth and leave it there forever… I forgot, I forgot, oh no, what've I done! I forgot you didn't know about my –" Power? Affliction? Both? What could she possibly tell him? "Thing…"

Except 'telling' wasn't going to work, she mused, looking at his glassy eyes which her still transfixed on the phantom wound in her throat. Well, actions should have to suffice then. Or possibly the two could be complimentary…

Grasping his hand from where it ghosted over the skin of her throat, she put it to her lips and kissed the knuckles daintily. His breath caught, but his gaze didn't move. Frowning, she moved closer to him and put her free hand to his cheek while mirroring the action with his hand that she had captured. Her long, slender fingers stroked his face gently.

"Naruto," she said, voice husky with grief. "Please. Please, come back to me. Even if you never forgive me… please snap out of it."

She watched his face carefully, and for a split second his eyes flickered, as if wanting to travel upward. Hinata took this as a sign – good or bad – and forged ahead.

At first slowly and sweetly, and then with more fervor, she pressed kisses all over his face – his forehead, the tip of his nose, an eyebrow, an eyelid, his cheeks, the underside of his chin, each corner of his mouth – until he inhaled sharply and locked his gaze on hers.

"You're alright," he croaked out, tracing over the planes in her face with the tips of his fingers. "I thought you had died - hell, I thought you loved Jiraiya!"

"I am so, so, so sorry!" she wailed, throwing herself into his arm and constricting around his neck tightly. "It's just that with Sasuke, I joke around like that all the time! I didn't even think about it!"

"You and Sasuke joke about this?" He sounded disgusted. She flinched and tried to pull away, but he wouldn't let her. "I'm not mad at you, just mad that you two would think that was funny," he murmured, lips ghosting against the skin of her neck as he spoke.

"H-he knows things about me that you d-don't," Hinata said in reply, tripping over her words slightly. His lips on her neck were doing funny things to her stomach. "If you knew too, I don't think you would've reacted the way you did."

"Please don't do that again," he said roughly, tightening his arms. "Please don't."

"Alright," she agreed reluctantly. It was all fun and games when she did it with Sasuke. But there were other ways to have fun, she supposed with a small sigh.

Naruto pulled away from her and stood up. He looked down at her with guarded eyes before offering her a hand.

"We've wasted a lot of time," he muttered, avoiding her gaze. "We should continue our mission."

"Yeah." She didn't like the new, cautious way he looked at her. She had lost his trust. And all because of one stupid trick. Hinata let her hair fall into her eyes before creeping past the genjutsu he had set up to untie another child. Shushing the boy with a few fingers on his lips, she focused all her attention on the mission and not on the fact that she had just severely screwed up her relationship with Naruto.


"Let the ceremony commence!"

Akechi was beaming happily at his podium, positively glowing with pride. All these months of hard work were finally paying off!

"Bring the first child!" He ordered a couple of surrounding ANBU. One grumbled, but the other nudged him, telling him to hold his anger off without words. Soon, this little town would be destroyed, they could blame the whole mess on Konoha, and start the next Great Ninja War. And this nutcase Akechi they'd been working for would either be dead or in custody. The two ANBU headed for the children, intending to untie one to start the 'ceremony', but they never got that far. Hinata stepped out of range of the genjutsu, being careful not to rupture it, and sunk a needle into each of their throats. Naruto was left to summon enough kage bushin to release the remaining children.

"You'll have to kill me before you touch any of those children," said Hinata. Her voice was soft and cold.

The man who had run his katana through her throat was staring at her in disbelief. "I killed you!" he shouted angrily.

"You assumed shoving your sword through my throat would kill me," she corrected him. "A foolish assumption. And you didn't even stick around to make sure I was dead. Very bad form!" She drew his katana from behind her back and tossed it next to him. It was still shining red with her blood.

"You – demon!"

"Close enough," she said with a shrug before running forward and striking him on the heart with a chakra-filled palm. He convulsed, clutched at his chest, and then tipped over. A trickle of blood issued from the side of his mouth. He was dead.

Hinata was suddenly the center of action as every ANBU in the crowd in which she'd just placed herself attacked her. She kept a cool head throughout, and within minutes she had dispatched ten of them without a wound to herself. Akechi overlooked everything with a look of immense satisfaction, as if everything he wanted to happen was happening. She watched him out of the corner of her eye. With every passing second, the manic glint in his eye was growing; what exactly was going on here?

Naruto had safely escorted the last of the children out of the escape tunnel, making sure Sasuke was running herd over his kage bushin. They got a little overambitious if left to their own devices. Now he joined the fray, and within seconds of his joining the battle, it was over. He couldn't take too much credit, he thought with a bit of pride as his punched knocked the last conscious or alive ANBU against the wall of the cave. Hinata was the main reason everything was going smoothly now. And as loathe as he was to admit it, her little stunt earlier had made their opponents overconfident.

"Your sacrifices are gone, along with your protection," Naruto said flatly, looking the smiling Akechi dead in the eye. "Hand yourself over now, answer some questions, and we'll let you off easy."

"Let me off easy?" he repeated quietly. "Let me off easy? Ahahahahaha! Oh, how little you know, jinchuuriki-san!"

'Jinchuuriki-san'? How much did he know? A sudden thought struck his heart like ice. How much did Hinata know? Did she understand who – or what – he was? Did she –

"Stop playing games with us, Mitsuhide," Hinata said coldly, interrupting Naruto's panicked thoughts. "Tell us why we're really here."

If she took notice of the jinchuuriki comment, she gave no outward indication. Great – one more thing to complicate their delicate relationship.

"Why are you really here?" he said, once again repeating another's words. "You are here… because I willed it. You are here because, just as I suspected it always would, the pieces are falling into place. You've fallen for my trap completely!"

There was something wrong with his eyes, Hinata decided. Instead of the cheerful green eyes to which she had become accustomed, his eyes were tinted brown, and growing darker by the second. His voice had grown deeper and menacing; he no longer seemed skinny and harmless but tall and dangerous. Her eyes narrowed and she took a step closer, nose twitching. Naruto stepped with her, keeping one eye on their opponent and one on Hinata.

"You're not Mitsuhide Akechi, are you?" she said slowly. "Who am I talking to?"

"You're pretty clever for such a youngling," he said, voice deepening further until it reminded Naruto of the Kyuubi's growl, the kind that seemed to resonated throughout one's chest. It was something that was more felt than heard. His eyes darkened to mere pits of black; even the whites of his eyes had been overtaken by a shimmering goldenrod color. His nose grew in size just as they were talking. A red glow lit first his cheeks and then the rest of his face and his hair turned pure white. Though his height no longer increased, his presence in the room became suffocating. It was like demonic killer intent, a thousand times more potent than any human's.

"I am Kurama-tengu, the greatest dai-tengu that Mount Kurama has ever known," Akechi's body informed them. "That is what humans called this mountain in the old, old times, far before the Godaikoku you know today…I was sealed in this mountain because my fellows believed I had grown too obsessed with my goals, too obsessed with the destruction of a certain being –"

He turned his manic grin on Naruto. "The Kyuubi no Kitsune!"

"We were never talking to Akechi, were we? This whole time… you had already possessed his body," Hinata said, once again ignoring the revelation of the true fate of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. What was wrong with this girl? Did she not care at all to learn the truth of the beast that attempted to destroy her village and had almost succeeded? Or… did she already know?

"Again, you are correct. That young fool wandered into the mountainside one evening, hoping to gain spiritual clarity in certain matters – he wanted to reform the politics of this tiny eyesore of a town. Bah. A sliver of my old body resides in him right now, making him my avatar to the world… my puppet to control…"

"So you're the evil sort of tengu, then?" Hinata, Naruto thought, was being rather too nonchalant about all of this.

"NO! I am a protector, a teacher –"

"Then why would you use a human only for the betterment of your own ends?"

"Sometimes… for the good of all, one must suffer…"

"No one has to suffer, ahou!" Hinata hissed at him, eyes flashing. "The Kyuubi is sealed away!" Naruto flinched, but was ignored by both parties.

"Even inside your companion, the bijuu is a threat," Kurama-tengu said fiercely. "He cannot be trusted!"

"I don't believe you!" Hinata shouted, equally fierce. Naruto was taken aback. "I will never believe that! Uzumaki Naruto is the strongest, the kindest, the most compassionate – the best – person that I know! Killing him would do me and everyone else on this planet a disservice!"

"Your loyalty is admirable. But as long as that boy houses the Kyuubi, it is my duty to kill him."

"You may kill him…over my cold, still corpse," she said, drawing upon her own demonic chakra and sliding into an offensive battle stance.

"Hinata, what do you think you're doing?!" Naruto asked hotly, grabbing onto her forearm with a near-crushing grip and tugging her backwards to keep her away from the crazed tengu. "This is no time to be rushing into something like this!" And I can't lose you again! He added silently.

"You cannot afford to become involved in this battle," she told him without looking away from the demonic eyes of what had once been Mitsuhide Akechi. "The effect that his chakra has on you will undoubtedly be a major handicap. I'll fight him directly. You look to attack him at long range."

"But –"

"A simple 'fine' or 'yes, ma'am' will suffice –"

"I'm team leader, I will decide who fights, thank you very much –"

"I'm not above breaking the rules, I was a missing ninja after all!" She turned to glare at him. "Search your brain right now and tell me what the better plan would be!"

Naruto ran his hand through his hair in agitation. Yes, his brain knew what the better plan was. He'd finally had logic beaten into him. But his heart was telling him something different altogether.

"Fine, but be - !"

She was already moving, reduced to a mere blur of motion. It was clear that during her fight with Sasuke, she had been mostly holding back – at least until the very end. Hinata matched the tengu blow for blow for blow. Naruto edged around the outside of their fighting range nervously, one eye waiting for an opening and the other watching Hinata's reaction time. He would step in if necessary.

"Not bad, for a puny human girl," said Kurama-tengu. Hinata countered fiercely, the Jyuuken strike to the chest throwing him off-balance for a moment. His face tensed in concentration as she backed off and they slowly circled each other. As they did so, Kurama-tengu drew a sword out of thin air.

"I am sorry to end your life so soon. You are a powerful warrior indeed."

He swung and Hinata hissed and jumped backward. The sharp edge of his katana had sliced the tips of her fingers. Where in sparring with Sasuke, she could block his sword using just chakra and her hands, the same was not true here. The tiny cuts immediately healed over anyway, so it was no big deal. The tengu looked at her closely.

"What's this? Another one?" Kurama-tengu closed his eyes and concentrated. "Five, eh?" Hinata was silent. All of her attention was focused on him.

"Can we just get on with it?" she asked coldly, after he did nothing but grin evilly at her for a full thirty seconds.

He lunged forward, his sword extending fast. Hinata missed it by a hair's length, eyes widening. The other properties this sword might have was a mystery. She used more and more of the Gobi's chakra to move, to keep her tired limbs going and to heal her most obvious wounds. That chakra was needed, or else she would collapse right there. Maybe she'd been using a bit too much of it, lately…

She hissed as the cold metal pierced her lung, very close to her heart. Damn, she need to pay better attention - It was painful to breathe, but she had faith. Her demonic chakra had always healed up a majority of her wounds; she felt no need to panic without cause.

Several long moments passed.

The pain did not go away. In fact, it worsened. Kurama-tengu did not withdraw his blade; instead, he only twisted it lightly and smiled when she flinched. A burning sensation was filling her lungs.

"Is something the matter?" asked Kurama-tengu. "Are you having trouble healing yourself?"

Blood dribbled out of the corner of her mouth. Hinata bared her teeth at him fiercely. The tainted chakra filled her eyes and made them bleed dark purple. But her wounds did not heal. Her breath was becoming dangerously shallow.

"You see," whispered Kurama-tengu, leaning in closer to her and sliding the blade further in as he went, "All the tailed beasts have similarly-rooted chakra. Therefore, with the power to subdue the Kyuubi, I also have the power to subdue…"

"To s-subdue…me…" The pain in her chest was becoming unbearable – so much so that her hated stutter had returned. "I…" She coughed, sending a small spray of blood down her front. "…get it…"

"Hinata! Quit playing around!"

He knew that she'd already displayed a blatant disregard for her own life, but this was ridiculous. They couldn't afford to waste time while fighting an enemy like this.

It took him a few seconds to comprehend the malicious grin on Kurama-tengu's face, and the taut frown on Hinata's as blood escaped her tightly-pursed lips. This was not like before. Hinata was not faking. She wasn't being healed; in fact, at the rate she was going, she was likely to –

His brain continued to think in that vein while his body leapt forward, bulling into the possessed body of Akechi with Herculean strength. Not even waiting to watch the predictably painful landing, Naruto dropped to his knees next to Hinata instead to watch the blood seep out of her with horrified awe. His eyes examined her with wild emotion as opposed to the calm of a doctor, which she could've used.

"Hinata, you – I thought – "

"Use a – kage – bushin… get me away – f-from him!" Talking was a trial for her. Each word required air, which required both of her lungs to work properly, which one wasn't doing at the moment. She reached up and put her hand on his cheek. It's my fault, she willed him to understand. I pulled that stunt earlier. It's okay.

She watched him carefully, his eyes especially. They would be the most obvious indicators of his change in chakra. Sure enough, they were turning deep purple and getting redder by the second. Using the last of her strength – it had been so long since she'd survived just on her own chakra, on her own merit – Hinata put both hands on either side of his face and pulled him down so that they were face to face. When he winced because her nails were digging into his cheeks, she knew he was paying attention to her voice rather than her wounds.

"Do not use that chakra," she said firmly, managing to get it out with stuttering, hissing in pain, or pausing while doing so. "If you do… he'll w-win…!" Her fingers went slack and her eyelids fluttered; being unconscious felt so lovely right now…

"Hinata…? Hinata!"

She was out cold and bleeding. Definitely not a good sign. As she instructed, Naruto used a kage bushin to move her out of the perimeter of the fight, told it to perform any first aid it could and take her even farther away if it was necessary to heal her wounds.

"So you've finally decided to face me straight out!" said Kuramga-tengu, grinning wildly. "At last!"

"You could've done anything you wanted to me. But… by hurting Hinata… you've made yourself my target."

"That's what I've wanted all along, fool!"

"If you really understood what that meant, you'd think differently."

For just a second, Naruto focused his energies completely on one objective – calling on his sage chakra. There was little change to his appearance, other than a thick black ring forming around each eye. Kurama-tengu's sinister gaze narrowed infinitesimally. This chakra was strange, completely foreign; he had never felt anything of its type before. He tried to sense it with more precision – and panicked.

The natural energy! This little nothing of a ninja – a container of the most powerful tailed demon in existence by pure twist of ignorant fate – knew how to access natural energy! The way in which this mere human was channeling the natural energy was corrupting it so much that he could barely sense it!

Because of his rage and the forgetfulness that came from many years of plotting a very particular assassination – Naruto's - Kurama-tengu had forgotten one thing: that tengu are created out of natural energy. Naruto was sapping his life essence as he stood there, becoming more and more angry at this sullying of said energy. His presence in the room lessened but he barely noticed. How dare that jinchuuriki!

"Unworthy human worm! Toying with natural energy! You – your arrogance – "

Why did he suddenly feel so lethargic? Could this be a jutsu the container was using on him?

"I'm fairly certain that the draining sensation you feel right now is something like what you did to Hinata. Except that in her case, you could only suppress the energy, and in this case, I'm taking all of yours."

It was Naruto's turn to grin, and his was as sinister as Kurama-tengu's had been. When he spoke, his voice was a deep-throated purr, more reminiscent of the Kyuubi than of him.

"Wanna dance?"


The world was hazy and dark.

She felt like she was on a scale that was tipping side to side, one side toward the mundane nightmares of the physical world – the ones Naruto was facing right now – and the other side toward nightmares of the stranger, more surreal side. Forward, there was a totally different feeling – not a nightmare, but a presence. She reached for it.

AH, MY LITTLE PUP. HERE YOU ARE AGAIN.

Aikouka-no-yochi-sama.

MUST YOU BE SO FORMAL? I AM NOTHING TO BE HONORED.

Nonsense, Aikouka-sama. A being that was meant for destruction that chose instead to live honoring the lives of all other beings? How can I not revere you? I can only hope that I am worthy.

YOU FLATTER ME. BUT ENOUGH OF THIS. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO WHILE I WAS NAPPING?

Go back to bed. Even dog demons need a little catnap, right?

I AM NOT AMUSED. LOOK AT YOU.

I know.

YOUR BODY IS DEGENERATING FASTER. YOUR LIFESPAN HAS ALREADY BEEN SHORTENED BY ACCEPTING ME INTO YOUR BODY, AND NOW –

I know.

I HAVE CONTINUALLY TOLD YOU THE CONSEQUENCES OF USING MY CHAKRA WITHOUT ALLOWING FOR NATURAL HEALING. AND YET YOU STILL CONTINUE TO USE IT. HUMANS! EXTRANEOUSLY!

I…

Do you know what it's like to be weak, Aikouka-sama? No…of course not… a demon of your caliber has never known weakness – or if you have, you've likely forgotten it because it was so long ago.

HINATA…

But I know it. I know it so well! I know weakness, and everything that it means to be, everything that it implies, that accompanies it. I was such a depressed and talentless child. Someone like me was not meant to be the bright heir to the great Hyuuga clan. And yet, there I was. As close to worthless as I could come – but at least my eyes functioned. The way my father used to look at me…

I never want to go back to that! I want to be useful! I want to be –

She broke off mid-speech, unable to continue. What Hinata wanted most badly was to be loved. More than anything in the world. She averted her eyes from the Gobi.

But Aikouka was having none of it. She transformed her current body – or more accurately, changing her current personification, just a mere presence in Hinata's mindscape at the moment - into one more suitable to comfort a young woman. She was now an older, motherly female with brown skin. Aikouka-yochi wrapped a strong brown arm Hinata's shoulders; Hinata felt the soft fabric of her simple green kimono and it reminded her so much of her mother that she buried her face in the shoulder of one of the most powerful demons on her plane of existence.

YOU ARE SO VERY HUMAN. ALL OF THIS WANT, THIS DESPERATE NEED TO BE POWERFUL… BUT IT COMES NOT FROM ARROGANCE OR EGOTISM, BUT FROM THE FACT THAT YOU WANT TO BE LOVED. AND GROWING UP IN THE FAMILY THAT YOU DID, A VERY SMALL, BUT VERY MUCH ALIVE PART OF YOU EQUATES USEFULNESS WITH LOVE. BUT THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

That isn't –

BUT ISN'T IT? YOU HAVE NO AMBITIONS OF RULING THE WORLD, OR EVEN JUST A VILLAGE FOR THAT MATTER. YOU HAVE FEW AMBITIONS AT ALL. YOU FEEL NO NEED TO BE THE STRONGEST, TO PICK FIGHTS WITH OTHERS JUST TO PROVE YOUR STRENGTH. WHY ELSE DO YOU WANT MY POWER? WHAT OTHER REASON COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE? YOU, YOU HAVE ONE OF THE PUREST HEARTS I'VE EVER SEEN.

It can't be too pure… after all, I've been so selfish with your power.

YES, YOU WERE SELFISH. BUT WHY? TO PROTECT THOSE CLOSE TO YOUR HEART, AND TO GAIN THE LOVE AND RESPECT FOR WHICH YOU HAVE ALWAYS YEARNED. THERE IS NO WRONG IN THAT.

Hinata was silent.

YOU ARE STILL FREE TO USE MY POWER AS YOU PLEASE. JUST REMEMBER WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT HERE… AND THOSE YOU MIGHT HURT BY DESTROYING YOURSELF.

There was a montage of photographs in her memory that lasted only half a second, and the last image left lingering in her mind was that of Naruto's face when he thought she was dead…


The world was vibrant with color – red, mostly.

Hinata coughed as she sat up violently, sending a spray of blood down her front and staining her hands, which she had raised futilely to try and stop the spurt.

"Hinata! Are you alright? What can I do?" The clone who had taken her away from the fight was looking her over frantically, eyes moving from one wound to the next.

"Naruto, do you have any first aid skills whatsoever?" He shook his head sheepishly, looking at her from behind his bangs like a lost boy.

"I'm going to find Sasuke… please be safe," she said, voice trailing into a whisper at the end. She reached up and pulled his face close to hers. Hinata touched her lips to his without preamble before whispering to him "Work on your taijutsu form, it's awful from my point of view," and delivering a punch to his gut that would've knocked out a lesser ninja. It certainly was enough to dispel the clone.

She didn't look over at the fight; she knew that if she did, Naruto would probably be looking back, and they would both be distracted. Instead, she assessed the wounds on her body, using scraps of her own clothing as tourniquets. From the feeling of pressure relieved, Kurama-tengu's power must have been dissipating, and so she was now free to use Aikouka-sama's chakra. She sent it immediately to the wound in her chest but no place else. It was time for her to use more restraint with the power that had been so graciously bestowed upon her with no strings attached. So unlike the power of the Byakugan, which came with such a high price…

"Hina – what the hell –"

"It's good to see you too," she said with a dark grin, looking up at Sasuke and clutching at her chest wound. "Ahh… this should be far e-enough."

She slumped down against the rock wall, leaving a red trail on its side as she did. Sasuke was at her side in a few seconds. "Are you comfortable? What can I do?"

"I'm just… exhausted. That's it…just need to rest…"

"Really? Can't you just use that chakra?"

"And have you in my face, talking about how dumb I was to use it? No, thank you."

Sasuke scowled and leaned down close to her. "Don't play stupid with me, Hinata. I know you. There's something you're not telling me about that chakra. Why stop now? After all these times you've used it almost constantly, and now you're just going to stop?"

"That's right."

"…hn…"

"All you need to know is this: absolutely nothing."

"All of this time, you still can't trust me?"

"Oh! Why hello there pot! What a pleasure it is to meet you!" She rasped out sarcastically. Her throat was getting dry and scratchy. "My name is kettle - I believe you've been stomping around the village, calling me black?"

"Now isn't really – "

Both of them felt the sudden, fierce stab of Kyuubi chakra, and knew it was no time to argue.

"We're continuing this later." Sasuke was grumbling under his breath as he leaned down and helped Hinata to crawl onto his back.

"Ugh, you're getting blood all over me." Hinata all but ignored him, all of her energy focused on one thing – getting to Naruto's side as quickly as possible. He would not last long against Kurama-tengu if he used the chakra of Kyuubi.

"Just get me to Naruto, dad."


Ugggh... such a long time to write this thing! Forgive a lack of continuity... half was written right after the last chapter, and half was written in the past week.

It's been so long, but... review? I feel like we never talk anymore...

Oh, and tell me if the breaks aren't working. They had some trouble in the editor.