My beloved readers:

I love you all. You have stuck by this story since its original publishing all the way back in 2006 and rewrite in 2009-10. However, it with with my greatest apology that I tell you that I will not be properly wrapping up DPoK. I lost interest in the Naruto fandom all the way back in spring '10 and my attempts at reviving or at least wrapping up DPoK have yielded as much as results as beating a dead horse. I could probably rewrite it yet again, but my goal is to be an actual novelist and I intend on getting published this year. Fanfiction is for fun and gives me no profit other than bringing pleasure to others. While that is a reward in and of itself, it doesn't bring home the bread and bacon. I am 22 years old this year and have yet to get a job or afford college. There are more important things I need to do besides sit and read and write fanfiction.

However, I couldn't just let you guys just sit on a cliffhanger, because that's just totally not cool and you all deserve better than that. So, you get to read 17,000 words worth of clipped scenes and present-tense summarizing.

At this point, I do not know what I will do with my other unfinished Naruto stories. I have no motivation to get back to work on them right now, but I admit that I am reluctant to let them go, especially since every other story that I have let someone adopt has just ended up sitting, unworked on, in the other author's profile, which is a heartbreaker since I love my plots and they always are original on a level that was uncommon when I was still reading Naruto fanfics (I do not know what the archives are like now, but I can't imagine they have changed much).

My lack of interest in the Naruto fandom has nothing to do with dislike for the manga or anything (in fact, I'm still reading it every Friday). It has simply fizzled out after so many years and I have moved on to other things.

I will still be around, posting fanfics every so often, but do not expect much more in the way of Naruto fanfics.

So, without further ado, I present to you the last, uh, "chapter" of DPoK.

Much love,

Megii of Mysteri OusStranger

Final Post

Most people tended to confuse rashness with bravery. Being courageous didn't require running head first into the snake pit with little regard for your own life. Being brave meant standing up to something you were afraid of it and holding your ground anyway.

Temari wasn't unfamiliar with cowardice; she had never been above using every fragile thread of relation and bribery to keep Gaara from killing her when he was out for blood and Shukaku close to awakening. She had never been brave.

Just by looking at the demon she skittered around now, she knew it wasn't Naruto, no matter that it was his body Naruto was dangerous, power rippling under the surface of his skin always, but Naruto was always in control and always logical, not vicious and instict-driven and uncaring like the being she fought now.

This wasn't the Naruto she knew. This could only be the Kyubi.

Temari was terrified, but the thought of turning tail to save her own hide was even worse. She wondered if being without option counted as being brave. She sure didn't feel like it.

Gaara snaps and, eerily in control, attacks Naruto. The girls are only a minor annoyance and Naruto lets them go in favor of clawing Gaara off. Gaara's laughing and shouting. Sakura and Temari go back for Sasuke, with the help of Kudagitsune. They begin to retreat. Furious, Naruto forces Gaara away with a powerful punch/slash/tail whack/or something and goes after them. Kankuro and Shikamaru and Pakkun try to block him, even if it's only for a short time, but are blown aside like insects. Naruto rips Sauke's off of Kudagitsune, hurling him toward the forest floor. Youki is clinging to Sasuke, burning into him and making him scream bloody murder. Shikamaru and Sakura dive after the brunette. Naruto is blocked by a gust from Temari, and it stalls him for a few seconds long enough to allow Gaara to tackle him from behind again. By now Naruto's had enough, and he ruthlessly rips into Gaara, slashing not his blood veins, but his chakra arteries. He grabs Gaara by the neck and begins to crush his throat.

Sakura and Shikamaru try to staunch Sasuke's bleeding, sending Pakkun back to the village for help, but are terrified that the dog won't make it back in time. Temari and Kankuro watch in horror as Naruto strangles Gaara. Temari rushes forward, slipping just out of Kankuro's grasp. Her words bring Naruto back to earth.

Gaara's eyes bugged out. Naruto's—no, Kyubi's, she corrected herself—hand had crushed the sand armor and was now choking the redhead. Her youngest brother's breath came in wet splutters. She felt her heart stop cold when he looked over at her with his rust-green eyes, weakly reaching out to her with one hand in an unspoken plea.

The world seemed to shatter. "Naruto, stop!" She screamed, her feet carrying her forward, closing the distance between them rapidly. "Please stop!"

Burning crimson eyes settled on her approaching form, but she refused to falter. Gaara's neck was released and his form fell limply like a dropped doll—the sand shivered weakly, straining to move to catch him but without the chakra to do so.

Temari pushed her legs harder, calves screaming as her muscles stretched beyond their limits. She leapt forward with one final push against the ground, stretching her arms out to catch her baby brother as he came crashing toward earth.

She hit the ground hard, her sibling's added weight pressing against her lungs. Still, she scrambled upright, cradling his smaller form against her diritied dress.

"Gaara!" She cried, "Gaara, open your eyes! Are you okay? You have to be okay! Gaara! Don't die, please! I love you; you're my baby brother! Gaara!"

His dark eyelids flickered open weakly, "T-Temari…"

Relief swelled in her bosom and overwhelmed her. She choked on a sob and buried her face in his shoulder, tears falling steadily. "Oh, thank the spirits! Thank goodness; thank goodness! Oh, Gaara, I was so scared; don't you ever scare me like that again! I can take you threatening me, I can take you trying to kill me, but dammit, don't you ever die on me!"


She catches Gaara, and though Kankuro has the urge to join them, he doesn't; wary of Naruto. Naruto allows Gaara and Temari to speak for a moment before interrupting. Temari hands Gaara off to Kankuro and Naruto asks that they leave the two blonds alone, but Kankuro stubbornly refuses, saying that he doesn't trust not to hurt Temari. Naruto snaps "fine" at them and talks to Temari about mating with Naruto.

"Thank you."

She froze at the sound of the voice, hesitantly turning her head to lay eyes on the blonde-haired, red-eyed figure standing behind her. However, Kyubi didn't appear to be consumed by rage anymore, his whiskers tamer, expression softer, though he still retained the chakra tail, deformed snout, and other hideously demonic features.

The Demon Lord continued. "I lost myself. Thank you for acting out like that, seeing you brought me to my senses. Naruto would have been devastated if I hurt you in any way…

"You take control often?"

He snorted, and the expression looked very out of place on Naruto's features. "Hardly. It places enormous strain on both our consciousnesses. In fact, I can assure you that this will be the last time I take control of my son's flesh until I die."

"You're dying?"

"In a way. You know that my son was born human. He has become what he is over many years, his body changing to accomdate the power of my chakra right down to his DNA. The more he changes, the weaker I become until my extistence is null. I cannot 'die' per say, I am a being made of chakra, but my consciousness and soul will move on to the netherworld.

"I have acted rashly. The final stage of merging was meant to be complete on his sixteeth birthday, but I am afraid that I have ruined that. Not only have I sped up the merging process, I have damaged his body very bady—am still damaging him even now, but I need to tell you this because he will not do so himself. The merge should now complete a full month earlier. Before the final day, September tenth, something very important needs to happen."

Temari furrowed her brow, eyes narrowed. "What?"

Kyubi's smile was both threatening and sad. "My son must claim a mate. Or, as humans might call it—a wife."

"Oh god,"

The Demon Lord snorted lightly. "Indeed. Love need not be a factor, but I would strongly prefer my son mate with a female he can be happy with. And guess who I have in mind?"

"… me?" she squeaked out.

"You, unless, of course, you have no romantic interest in him. If that is indeed the case, then I will have to seek another suitable mate, which will almost certainly be a demoness."

"Demons mate for life, don't they?" She said weakly.


"So… I have until September tenth to figure out if I… like Naruto or not."

"Not exactly," Kyubi spoke up, "You have until the ninth to figure out your feelings and mate with my son. Mating on the tenth will be quite impossible."

"You mean have sex,"

He nodded. "Yes, but the sooner he mates, the easier the trasition to nine tails will be, and the later you wait to make your decision, the more likely I am to bring in another candidate."

Temari swallowed thickly. "What happens if he doesn't…?"

Kyubi's eyes hardened. "A mate is required to achor him here. If Naruto does not mate, he will cease to exist in this world and will be bound to Makai for one thousand years as the new Kyubi no Yoko. It will be a millenia before he can return to the human plane."

She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her.

"He cares deeply for you, though he is reluctant to acknowledge it… He has never been in love, and the very thought of it frightens him, not that he will admit to such a thing as fear." He looked deeply into her eyes and she felt her skin shiver at the alien stare. "If it is necessary for me to make any sort of formal request for your hand on my son's behalf, tell me now, because you will never see me again once I hand control back over to Naruto."

She lowered her eyes, thinking. "There is no one… my mother passed away years ago, I just found out that my father has been assassinated… you might consult my brothers but they are already here, and I am old enough that I can decide my love life for myself, anyway."

"And your decision?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Why me? As a demon, shouldn't you discourage that sort of relationship? You want something from me, but what? A hefty dowry?"

"No doubt culturally necessary, but no. There is nothing I want from you because there is nothing you can give me. My freedom ended the moment I was sealed into Naruto's body. The only thing I long for is freedom, but since that is impossible, I am content ensuring that my legacy lives on."

She pressed two fingers to her temple. "Give me a minute."

"Please think quickly—the longer I am in control, the more damage is done to my son's body."

"Then why take control in the first place?"

The dark look in Kyubi's eyes chilled her to the marrow of her bones. "Uchiha Madara and I have a score to settle."

Temari regretted ever asking. She directed her thoughts to Naruto, and the Kyubi's request. She had never imagined herself as a married woman, not even in her childhood. That had been a luxury other girls indulged in. While her classmates played with dolls, Temari practiced throwing kunai. As the eldest child of the Kazekage, she was expected to be the best in everything, and she had been. But the thought of never, ever seeing Naruto again terrified her more than marriage.

She swallowed, throat dry and knotted. "…s."

"What was that?" Kyubi asked.

"Yes. I… I will marry Naruto. I will become his mate."

"… Thank you." The Kyubi smiled. Then his eyes rolled back in Naruto's head and his body fell to the ground in a dead faint.

Naruto stared wide-eyed at the man standing before him in his mind, whose face was very nearly identical to his own. The Prince pursed his lips, blue eyes narrowing as he grounded himself into a defensive posture.

"Yondaime," he said lowly.

The yellow-haired man's gaze snapped down to the teen, and he blinked as if seeing him for the first time. When he spoke, his voice was distant and hesitant. "Naruto-kun…" His eyes flicked back to the form of the Kyubi, which stood still behind the deteriorated bars. "I admit," he began, walking toward the enclosure, "That I had hoped that the seal would never reach the point where I would be activated, and that if it ever did…" he paused, reaching out to the seal, which crumbled further at his light touch, "I never imagined something like this happening." He rubbed his fingers together, rolling the beads of rust to and fro. "Still," his face warmed, a small smile curving his mouth, "It is good to see you, my son."

Naruto's expression was stony. "Namikaze Minato."

The older blonde smiled outright. "That's right. Who told you? It was Jiraiya, right? Or did Sarutobi beat him to it?"

"Why are you here?"

Minato blinked at the casual dismissal of his inquires, but consented. "When I designed the Shiki Fujin, I made it so that a piece of my soul would appear here when eight tails were released. Although," he chuckled weakly, his eyes focused on the golden tails swishing behind Naruto's body, "I suppose… it might be a bit late for that." When no response was forthcoming, he asked a question of his own, swallowing tightly. "What is happening to the seal?"

"It is dying."

"Why?" he demanded.

The Demon Prince's response was not immediate, his eyes sliding away from the Yondaime to the Kyubi with a quietly affectionate stare. "Kyubi-otou-sama and I are merging. Soon, we will be one entity."

The Yondaime's eyes widened considerably. "Merge?" his eyes traveled upward to the seal, which was almost completely faded out. He placed a hand on the fragile bars, his touch more firm this time. "Such a thing is possible?"

Naruto resisted the urge to snort. "You know so little about the seal you yourself created. I don't know whether to be amused or sickened."

Minato looked a bit sheepish. "I was in a hurry. Perhaps, if it had been created in more peaceful times, I would have been able to research it more and correct all its flaws…"

"But you didn't."

For a moment, the late man's face was a mask of icy spite. "No. No, I didn't."

Naruto quirked his head to the side, raising a finger to his chin thoughtfully. "It doesn't matter. It has nothing to do with any flaw of the seal's, anyhow."

Minato's brow furrowed, his confusion clear. "I don't understand."

The demonic teen rolled his shoulder dismissively and uttered one name. "Uzumaki Kushina."

The Yondaime's shocked reaction was nearly felt as an electric charge. "Wh-what?" His voice was a whisper.

"It is because of Mother," Naruto elaborated softly.

"Kushina-chan. But why?"

The Demon Prince's hard defense softened. "That… requires some lengthy explanation."

"Tell me." The Yondaime's expression was fierce. He cut an imposing and powerful figure even as a mere sliver of a soul. Naruto felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise.

"Fine." Naruto inhaled deeply, gathering his memories to the forefront of his mind.

"I abandoned Konohagakure no Sato when I was six years old." The Yondaime visibly started, and Naruto held up a hand to pause him. "Unlike Mother, my status as Jinchuriki was secret only to those my age and younger and those too young to remember Kyubi-otou-sama's attack on the village. Hiruzen cared for me, as did a few older shinobi, but it was not enough. Living was hell. The villagers were not outrightly abusive toward me; mobs did not come pounding at my door in the middle of the night, adults did not slander me outside of the privacy of their homes, drunks did not strike me, but… they were cruel, in their own way. As a child, this tortured me endlessly, their silence, their hateful stares, the whispers that festered when they thought I was not listening. My peers, the only ones who might have seen me as I really was, were influenced enough by their parents' hate that they hated me too, though they did not understand or question why. Such is the nature of children.

"So, I left. Hiruzen pursued me at first, but I made it clear that I would never go back of my own free will, he left me to my own devices, hoping that I would return on my own when I had had my fill of the wild. Once every couple of weeks, he sent one of his Anbu to me with basic supplies, to ensure that I could survive and was not devoured by some predator.

"Kyubi-otou-sama and I could not communicate consciously when I was at that age, we met only in my dreams. As is his way, he was cruel and mocking in the beginning, he hated me and I him, but we were one another's only company. We grew accustomed to one another." Naruto tore his eyes away from Minato, gesturing widely to the seal at their side. "

The Shiki Fujin really is," he breathed in irony, "A state-of-the-art seal. Unlike Mother's seal, or her predecessor's, whom Kyubi-otou-sama had told me all about, I could call on his chakra; bit by bit, day by day, whether I used jutsu or not, the seal was stealing his life and making it mine. It… terrified him as nothing else could. Death, that is. But there was no way of avoiding it unless I gave myself up to him and allowed myself to be the one to die instead, and I loved life too much to do that. So, instead, I 'made a deal with the devil,' as they say. For all of our differences, our forced tolerance for one another, we shared one thing: we hated Konoha."

The Demon Prince could tell that the late Hokage was burning with questions, but the older male kept silent, patiently waiting for his offspring to continue the tale. Quietly, Naruto appraised the man's restraint.

"I would not give up my life, so the eventual death of Kyubi-otou-sama was inevitable. I agreed to be the heir of his legacy, and he willingly gave me all that my young body could handle, and more. For a year, my senses and abilities were akin to the Inuzuka clan. I could speak to foxes, and brought together of group of those who recognized Kyubi-otou-sama's chakra and acknowledged me as his heir. They became my family.

"About a eighteen months after my initial transformation, a woman appeared in my mind while meditating. She said that she was my mother."

"Kushina…" Minato breathed.

Naruto nodded solemnly. "Kyubi-otou-sama confirmed her at once. We talked for hours. Hours upon hours. She was the first person to tell me that she loved me." His face was soft, affectionate, and warm in remembrance, pupils focused on something invisible. "But she knew her time with me was limited. The way Kyubi-otou-sama and I were going about merging would do nothing but kill us sooner, she told us. We had two options, she said, and could give us only one."

Minato's face was apprehensive, fearful even. "And those options were…?"

Naruto smiled, and though it was not threatening, it was still feral. "I could release Kyubi-otou-sama and forcibly take his chakra for myself before sealing him again, or I could let his chakra transform me into a demon myself. I do not think I need to tell you which option we chose. I had too much respect for him at that point to tear his existence away by force, and he too much for me to break our deal, though he longed for my death fiercely."

The spectre of the Yondaime went white.

"By the time I turned eight, an entire tail had grown in, and one more grew every year that passed." Naruto's eyebrows arched in longing, "This is the final year. On my 16th birthday, I will gain my final tail, and Kyubi-otou-sama will cease to be."

Minato ran a hand through his hair. "Naruto-kun… I… I don't know what to say."

The Prince only shrugged.

"Do…" The older male swallowed. "Do you still hate Konoha?"

Naruto pursed his lips. "I can never forgive Konoha for what they did to me, for what they didn't do. However, I gave up on revenge. They leave me to my business, and I leave them to theirs. Though I find myself slowly growing more involved lately."

They talk a little longer, and Minato tries to replace the Shiki Fujin, much to Naruto's upset.

"Don't you dare touch me with that!" The teen shouted.

The older blonde looked on in shock as three of Kyubi's enormous red tails wrapped around the teen's form protectively, pulling him backwards through the bars.

The Yondaime chased his retreating form with panic in his eyes. "Naruto-kun!" he exclaimed, reaching into the prison, unable to step beyond the bars.

"Don't call me that!" Naruto snapped, causing his look-alike to flinch, "You have no right to speak to me so familiarly!" His expression darkened. Kyubi's form towered above him, its eyes still distant, "You aren't my father. You sired me, gave me your genes, sealed Kyubi into me, but Kyubi-tou-sama is the one I recognize as my father. He raised me, loved me, and taught me; you may have given me life, but Kyubi-tou-sama gave me a reason to live. So don't you dare put that seal back on me!"

"Naruto…" Minato whispered, broken-hearted.

Naruto's bangs shaded his eyes. "I… don't hate you. I've spent too much of my life hating as it is, and I understand why you chose me and why you did it. I don't blame you for anything; but you gave up your rights as a parent the moment you summoned the Shinigami."

Minato's shoulders slumped and a small, sad smile graces his features. "I see. You've… grown up spectacularly, Naruto. I'm proud of you."


His smile widened. "I mean it. I can't deny that I'm more than a little hurt, but… I'll admit the Kyubi raised you well. I don't think I could have brought you up better myself, had I been able to." He chuckled. "At least you didn't do something like punch me in the stomach!"

Naruto allowed himself to smile back. "Yeah… Thank you."

Minato brightened and held his hand through the bars, beckoning the young demon to take his palm. "Good luck, Naruto."

The teen nodded, taking the hand of the man that, in a different lifetime perhaps, could have been his father, and shaking it. His grip was firm, almost tight. Then, suddenly, it was not a handshake—it was a grab.

The Yondaime yanked Naruto through the bars.

The human's hand glowed with chakra, palm flat, speeding straight for the Demon Prince's gut. Horror flooded Naruto's brain, pupils shrinking into tiny pinpricks of ink. He moved, arm snapping forward to block his belly, and the Shiki Fujin slammed into his wrist.

Minato gasped, eyes wide with shock as Naruto howled, clutching his arm. He quickly released his hold on the younger man, stepping back as the once-Jinchuriki retreated, snarling.

"Bastard! Bastard! You sniveling bastard son of a dog!" Red seeped into the Demon Prince's eyes as he screeched his fury. "I should eat you for this!" He clutched at his left hand as black runes appeared, sizzling, over his flesh from forearm to fingertip.

"Naruto-kun, I…" Minato began.

"Shut up! Filthy, manipulative, bastard human!" Naruto spat. "Be glad you're already dead!"

"I was trying to save you, idiot boy!" The older male retorted. "You've been tainted horribly by that evil demon!"

"'Save' me? Evil? Tch! You're a fool! You understand nothing!" He inhaled sharply, glaring down at the seal on his hand as it fulfilled its purpose, the black markings setting like ugly tattoos as the pain faded into a dull ache.

"Nothing," Naruto growled softly, "Not a damn thing. You're just as prejudiced and ignorant as the lot of them. And they called you a genius! Bastard!"

Minato shook his head sadly. "It has corrupted you so deeply…"

"And you're blind," the kitsune snapped. He clenched and unclenched his marred fingers experimentally, "Get out of my head."

"You made a mistake becoming Kyubi's heir. You'll regret it. I'm sorry I couldn't save you."

"I didn't want to be saved."

"You will. But the seal was designed only to let me appear in your mind this once. I won't be able to appear again when you really need me. I'm sorry."

"I won't need you." Naruto hissed, his tone carrying a note of finality, "Now get lost."

Like magic, the Yondaime instantly began to fade away. "Yes. Goodbye, Naruto-kun. I love you."

"I hate you," Naruto said, but Minato's imprint had already vanished and most likely did not hear the softly uttered words.

Naruto (Kyubi) tells the sand trio to come with him to his den, they will be safe there. Kankuro protests, but Naruto gives them an ultimatum: him or Konoha. Disgrunted, Kankuro agrees to go to the den. Naruto sends them off with Kudagitsune and then approaches the Konoha squad. Shikamaru and sakura are terrified while Sasuke is delirious with pain. Shikamaru backs off, ready to flee, while Sakura stands her ground, trembling. Naruto pushes her aside; she clings to his leg, begginghim not to kill Sasuke. Naruto murmurs a "sorry" and heals much of Sasuke's leg, though not all of it. Sakura and Shikamaru are in awe as well as confused. Naruto leaves.

Naruto hasn't quite gotten back to the den yet. Gaara is in a semi-unconscious state, but Shukaku isn't taking over. Temari and Kankuro are arguing over both Naruto and Gaara. Temari can't stand that Kankuro abandoned Gaara and Kankuro can't stand Temari's relationship with Naruto. Naruto returns, and Temari begins to speak up, but her voice fails her as she sees Kyubi is still in control. He heals Gaara's wound and proceeds to pass out, much to the sibs' shock. They fret over him for a while, trying to figure out just what the hell happened before deciding they should at least make him comfortable. Kankuro insists on doing it because he doesn't want his sister associating with a guy like that.

"I can't believe you left him by himself." Temari said softly.

Kankuro looked away. "I'm not risking my life for a guy who hates me, especially when I know he can't win."

"He's our brother!" She insisted.

Naruto wakes up the next morning and apologize for what Kyubi did with his body. Temari accepts his apology, Kankuro sniffs disdainfully, but Gaara is harder to read and seems to be off in his own world. Eventually the subject of the sib's father comes up. Kankuro is shocked to hear that the kazekage is supposedly dead and wanders off to be by himself for a while. Naruto asks about Temari's relationship with her father, which causes her to have a flashback. She admits that she hated him, but cannot help but feel a pang of loss because he was, nevertheless, her father.

She stood, trembling, behind the corner of the wall. Yashamaru lifted his head to look at her, and smiled softly despite the dark bruises forming around his eye and on his chin.

"Go back to bed, Temari-chan," he said.

The Yondaime Kazekage paused to glare over his shoulder.

Temari felt warm tears begin to trickle down her cheeks. "Uncle Yashamaru…" she whispered.

"Go to bed, Temari!" her father shouted and she flinched at his harsh command. But still, she did not budge from her place.


"I said to go to your room, you stupid girl!"

"Kazekage-sama, please…" The effeminiate male began, pushing himself upright, using the wall for support.

"Go to your room right now, Temari!" The Kage shouted, marching up to the child. He towered above her, she who was only eight years old. Still she did not move, fingers clutching the wall, feet frozen in place.

She swallowed hard, staring up at her parent through moist eyelashes. "N-no. St-stop hitting Uncle Yashamaru! You're hurting him—!"Her words were cut short when he slapped her. The force of the blow sent her sprawling to the floor and she let loose a keening wail at the pain that engulfed her tender cheek.

Yashamaru leapt upon the man's arm, now frantic. "Kazekage-sama, stop it! She's just a little girl!"

"Out of my way, Karura! I am the head of this house and this village and my word is law!" With that, he jammed his elbow into Yashamru's gut and backhanded him.

His face set in a twisted scowl, he approached his young daughter, removing the belt from his pants and folding the leather in half. He wound the material around his fist, hooking his thumb through the end of the loop to make a threatening crack.

Temari opened her eyes in terror, turning her head to look up at the looming figure of her father; his arm arced menacingly above his head, belt in hand. She squeezed her eyes shut, biting down on her lip in preparation for the inevitable blow, but the flesh it slapped against was not her own. Her eyes snapped open in shock to see her uncle crouched above her, having slipped between the two at the last moment to take the punishment himself.

"Karura!" her father shouted, more furious than ever, and he brought the belt down again on Yashamaru's back. "What did I just say?"

"Temari… go to your room." The blonde male gasped out. Leather bit at skin again.

This time, she didn't disobey, tears flowing anew as she darted out from under Yashamaru's torso to pad down the hall as quickly she could manage. Kankuro was peeking out from behind his bedroom door and she slipped into his room, foregoing her own.

She spread her arms and wrapped her younger brother in a fierce hug, discovering that he was trembling just as much as she was. He didn't hug her back, opting instead to cover his ears as another whack of father's belt was heard.

"I hate it," Kankruo murmured, "I hate it when he gets like this. He thinks that Uncle Yashamaru is Mom and he's so mad about everything. He hit you! He really, really hit you, Temari-nee!"

She shushed him gently, ignoring the pain on her cheek and the tremble in her breath. "It's okay, Kankuro. Big sister will protect you." He burrowed his face in her neck and she tilted her head at the strange sensation. "What's on your face?"

"Paint," he mumbled, "I look like him. I don't want to look at him. I hate him."

"Kankuro," she admonished gently, "He's our father."

"I don't care. I hate him."

She sighed softly, and let him go, feeling the paint stick to her collar. "Get your blanket. I'll put up the chairs and we can make a fort out of them." The tears on her cheeks began to itch and she swiped them away, her mind not sparing a thought for their other sibling. Not a thought was spared for Gaara who sat curled up in his room, alone, wondering at the echoes of Yashamaru's cries.

"I didn't love him, but he was still my father, so some part of me will always care."

Naruto talks to the trio about repairing the seal holding Shukaku.

"Seal…?" Gaara repeated, his brow furrowing.

Temari and Kankuro exchanged glances. "Naruto," Temari began, "Shukaku was sealed into Gaara while he was still in the womb. Our mother was the one who had a seal—not Gaara."

The blonde's face fell a bit. "I see. If that's the case, then there's nothing I can do."

He sighed, pressing his knuckles up against his chin. "I am, in an indirect way, possessed by the fox Kyubi—kitsunetsuki. Through him, I received the hereditary ability to command foxes—tsukimono-suji. However, they are not mindless animals, and in return for their services, I must keep them happy—kitsunemochi. Even a Kage must give something in return for the services of his shinobi, must he not? What man would accept a mission that promises no payment, no reward? Those who are unhappy with their ruler and way of life become nukenin. Any of my foxes can stray like that and cause mischief and misfortune wherever he or she goes, or even rebel against me."

"You are sure about this? About me? You…" he bit the inside of his lip, "If you choose me, you will never have children."

Temari shrugged. "I've never been fond of kids, and as eldest son, that's Kankuro's job anyway. He's the one to carry on the family line, not me."

"Your life wil be under threat of a number of demons, all the time."

"I'm a kunoichi, I'm used to having to defend myself against other killers. I'm familiar with the concept of looking over my shoulder and sleeping with one eye open."

"You'll have to give up your shinbi life."

"I'm good at other things besides cutting throats; it's okay."

"You'll never be able to…"

She pressed a finger to his lips, growing irritated. "Stop trying to persuade me to leave. I made my choice, and it's you."

"Even though I'm a demon?"


"Even though I am dangerous?"

"I live, eat, and breath danger, I can handle it. Besides, if you get out of hand I'll always have Gaara to back me up."

"Even though I am ugly?"

She scoffed. "You're the farthest thing from ugly imaginable. Exotic, maybe, but not ugly or even strange."

"This is your last chance to go back. Demons don't have such a thing as divorce or separated spouses. You mate with me, and it is forever."

"'Til death?"

He nodded. "Until death."

"Good, because I don't do flings."

She sighed heavily, blowing a lock of hair out of her eyes. "Stop trying to be so selfless. You're afraid you'll hurt me, I get it, but all men worry about that. So, for a moment, stop thinking about what you think is best for me, and think about what you want. Do you want me as your wife?"

He was quiet for a moment, and she felt his fingers clenching and unclenching at her sides. Then, "Yes."

She nodded. "Then that's your answer."

"I need to go back to Suna with my brothers."

"Must you?"

"Yes. I have things I need to take care of. I need to hand in my resignation if I don't want to be labeled as a nukenin and there are… people… that I need to sever my ties to."

"May I kiss you before you go?"

"… Yes, you may."

They kissed. It was soft and sweet and full of hesitant feelings; not passionate or hungry or mind-blowing; nothing like what she expected good-bye kisses to be like. But she wasn't sure she was ready for toe-tingling kisses yet, and though the meeting of their mouths lacked raw emotion, it was nevertheless a nice, enjoyable experience.

"You have three weeks to come back to me." He said gently. "After we… well, once we further our relationship, it should be fine for you to visit Suna as much as you please."

Naruto gives her a token of his devotion.

After the sibs leave, Naruto goes to visit the Hokage, as he knows things are in a state of turmoil in Konoha. Despite having no great love for the village, Sarutobi remains his dear friend and if any other Nations decide to invade Konoha while it's weak, troubelf or Konoha means trouble for him.

Hiruzen is in bad shape, and Naruto sneaks into the Hospital. Konohamaru is there and ecstatic to see his "nii-san." Some of that joy is squashed when Naruto tells the boy that this isn't a casual visit. Hiruzen is smiling, but his eyes are the sharp, grave eyes of a kage. Naruto observes that Hiruzen looks like he's been through hell and back. Hiruzen laughs and explains what happened as well as Konohamaru's brave role. Naruto is very proud of Konohamaru and is amazed that he managed to get the upper hand on somebody so much stronger than him. Konohamaru blushes and admits he didn't do much other than run around in zigzags; but now he has new jutsu's to learn, as he feels he should learn to weild the flute.

Hiruzen informs Naruto of Tsutsuma's condition. Naruto asks where he is and is informed that his subordinate is being held with the Inuzukas. Kohomaru's friends unexpectedly interrupt (but do not walk into the room) and are struck speechless at the sight of Naruto. Naruto and Hiruzen suggest Konohamaru talk to them before the run around the village screaming. The trio leaves and Naruto and Hiruzen turn to more serious matters. Hiruzen talks about who will be the Godaime. Hiruzen also expresses worry for Naruto because Naruto is almost at his weakest. Naruto informs him that he has found a mate: the Suna girl, Temari. Hiruzen doesn't approve, but gives his blessing anyway.

Naruto tells Hiruzen about Minato appearing in his psyche. Hiruzen is wide-eyed, but admits he thinks it's something that Minato would do. Naruto shows him his arm. Hiruzen grows grave at the sight and feel of the now human appendage. Naruto says that he was lucky he managed to avert the blow, because he believes he might have died otherwise; his arm has been acting up and going through withdrawls from the lack of youki. Hiruzen is no seal expert, but this is an issue that he knows Naruto needs to address and fix as soon as possible. He suggests that Naruto seek out his student, Jiraiya. Jiraiya will be leaving the village to search for Tsunade tomorrow, so he'd better act soon. Konohamaru is accompanying the sannin. Naruto asks where he can find Tsutsuma and the Uchiha boy. Sarutobi is suspicious and asks why he wants anything to do with Uchiha Sasuke. Naruto tells him what Kyubi did and that he would like to apologize for his father's actions. Hiruzen tells him:

"I am no longer the shinobi I once was. It is time I stepped down and chose the Godaime." The Sandaime's face crinkled into a strained smile. "Remember when you were a boy? You wanted nothing more than to be Hokage those days. Were you a ninja under my command, I would choose you as my successor."

Naruto's eyes hardened. "That was a long time ago, Jiji."

The man sighed. "I know. I suppose I should know better than that by now, eh?" His expression sobered. "But the fact still remains—my Hokage carreer should have ended decades ago."

"Who do you have in mind?"

Hiruzen leaned back in his chair, placing the end of his unlit pipe at his mouth. His successor would have to be someone Naruto approved of—angering the kitsune would bring about nothing but Konoha's destruction.

"… A former student of mine, Senju Tsunade."

He watched as the Demon Prince's nostrils flared, his eyes alighting with excitement. "The Mokuton heiress," he said.

"Whatever you're thinking, forget it."

Naruto tracks down Tsutsuma and converses with his friend for a short time; the dogs in the kennel are going beserk. Naruto leaves a note with Tsutsuma for the Inuzuka and leaves before he is found. Tsume finds the note and is suitably shocked. Tsutsuma is more cooperative than he has been the entire time he's been at the kennel.

Sasuke is watching his teammates spar, brooding that he is unable to practice or learn any new jutsu's at the moment. Irritated, he gets on his crutches and decides to go for a short walk to clear his head. Naruto ambushes him, and covers Sasuke's mouth before he can scream. Sasuke is terrified, but his fears subside when Naruto apologizes for Kyubi's actions and mistake of identity. Sasuke bats Naruto's tail away and asks what Uchiha Madara has to do with the Kyubi. Naruto asks if he knows just who Uchiha Madara was. Sasuke says yes and tells him. Naruto nods, but says that Madara did not die at the Valley of the End, and, in fact, it was Madara who prompted Kyubi to attack Konoha. Naruto tells Sasuke that, if he needs anything, to seek Naruto out, in order for Naruto to repay the damage he caused. He walks away. Sasuke asks how he will be able to find Naruto. Naruto tells him to ask the Cat. Sasuke doesn't understand.

Konohamaru is explaining things to his friends; about the exietence of the Demon Prince, their relationship, and that they must keep this all a secret. Udon and Moegi admit they have something they have something to show Konohamaru. They show him the scrolls they got from the crazy librarian. None of the trio are able to open the scrolls. Konohamaru thinks its best to keep the scrolls a secret for now and suggests that he keeps one and Udon keeps the other one. Moegi asks why she can't be trusted to watch over one, after all, she was with Udon, not Konohamaru. Konohamaru says that if someone comes looking for the scrolls, he doesn't want Moegi hurt, and plus, he's going out of the village for a while to search for the Godaime with Jiraiya; so if someone comes looking for them whiel he's gone, that person won't be able to get both scrolls easily. Moegi blushes and consents.

Ibiki and his subordinates are intterogating the guys they captured. While taking a break, Anko observes to Ibiki that getting info out of Orochimaru's playthings is going to be worse than hell, if not near impossible. She suggests trying to get them to form bonds with Konoha ninja. She says that the Aburame and Akimichi would probably be perfect for converting fatty and spider-freak. Ibiki says he'll think about it.

Tayuya is back in Oto. She has a new flute, but is nevertheless unhappy. She seeks out Kabuto and demands that they not just sit around and leave Orochimaru's killers unharmed. Kabuto assures her that he's working out a way to get revenge for Orochimaru's death. Konoha will burn, one way or another. A person from the shadows, whose face we cannot see, offers his assistance regarding that.

Jiraiya and Konohamaru are leaving Konoha. Naruto approaches them once they are out of sight of the village. Jiraiya is in a state of shock while Konohamaru rushes forward to embrace his niisan. Naruto tells them that he's going with them. Konohamaru is glad, but Jiraiya protests. Naruto smiles and informs him that the sannin doesn't have a choice in the matter. Jiraiya starts listing off reasons why he doesn't want Naruto following them. Naruto places a leaf on his head and transforms into a human, though still retaining his royal attire and air. Jiraiya dislikes this, but Naruto won't hide his crown. Jiraiya takes Konohamaru and tries to leave Naruto in the dust but fails and is forced to accept that Naruto is coming with. He mumbles that Naruto have better have a big wallet for him to pick at and Naruto responds with "what's money?"

The sand trio return to Suna. The village is shocked, as the three had been thought to be dead. Baki quickly greets them and asks where they have been. Temari and Kankuro explain. Baki, in turn, explains the situation that Suna has been in, including the details of their father's death. He says the village needs them back in action right away. Gaara states that that will be impossible. Baki asks why. Gaara is silent, so Kankuro answers for him and Temari informs Baki that she will be formally retiring as a ninja; she's getting married. Sort of. Baki demands to know who she is marrying. She tells him. Baki is in a state of disbelief, but Kankuro and Gaara assure him that it is true. Baki demands how they could let their sister do that. The two boys say that they approve of the pairing.

The trio settle back home. Temari goes before the council to resign. They don't want to let her go, but in the end relent. That night she goes home and Kankuro tells her that Gaara has gone into the desert. He has no idea when their brother will be back but he will probably return before Temari goes back to naruto. Kankuro is disgruntled and admits he doesn't want his sister to go off like this; she should have a proper wedding with well-wishers and a proper dowry: linens and silverware and jewelry and a big feast like in the old days. Temari observes that Naruto might not object to that. However, they have no way of contacting Naruto and planning until she goes back. Kankuro insists on planning the wedding without Naruto's input, the demon will just have to deal with it because Temari has people who care about her and want to see her off properly, not just ship her away or see her run off like an elopement or arranged union. Temari thanks Kankuro with tears in her eyes and begins thinking about what to do for the ceremony.

Naruto continues following Jiraiya, and is fascinated by the ninja techniques Konohamaru is being taught, namely, the Rasengan. Jiraiya asks if Naruto wants to learn it and he states he has no need for such a thing; he just finds it interesting. He then brings up the issue with his arm. Jiraiya is shocked, and Naruto tells him that Hiruzen said to go to Jiraiya about it, since Jiraiya is a seal master. Jiraiya mumbles and taked a look over the arm. Naruto asks if there's anything he can do. Jiraiya grumbles and says not right now; for now they find Tsunade first. Naruto asks about Tsunade so that he will know who to look for. Jiraiya protests, saying there's no need for him to even come into any villages, as he is such a suspicious looking person. Konohamaru protests, saying that niichan will definitely find Tsunade faster than Jiraiya ever could. Jiraiya is pissed off by this, so he tells Naruto the appearance of Shizune and Tsunade, but says that there's no way an animal will find his teammate before him. Naruto takes this as a challenge.

In Konoha, Choji and Shino are trying to crack into the Oto captives. They are stubborn, but Jirobo accepts a potato chip from Choji.

Tsutsuma leaves the Inuzuka compound. There is unrest amongst the foxes. Many dislike that Naruto is taking a human as his mate and want to know why that is. Tsutsuma tries to calm them, but the foxes are being split in two. Sanji appears and makes his statement that he refuses to accept that the kitsune clan will become tainted this way. The foxes begin to split into two groups with Sanji and Tsutsuma at their heads. Tsutsuma tells Nichi to go find Naruto and tell him what's going on. Nichi goes.

Temari goes and visits Misuzu's grave and the flashbacks are concluded. Temari decides she doesn't want to wait and she will quit the Black Scorpions as soon as possible.

When they enter a new village, the girls are ALL OVER Naruto, much to Jiraiya's disdain. Naruto is very nervous and awkward feeling, and Kyubi finds it downright hilarious. The girls also coo over Konohamaru, whom Naruto claims is his little brother. Konohamaru gets squished by a lot of girls. The girls want to know who he is and Naruto informs them he's a prince from a far-off land. They squeal. Naruto spots Shizune shyly blushing at him from around the corner. Grinning, Naruto goes over and introduces himself. Jiraiya's jaw drops. Naruto tells Konohamaru to distract the gaggle of women for him. Naruto walks around with Shizune for a while before she leads him to a restaurant near a casino. Tsunade is there. She makes the mistake of almost calling him Minato, but catches herself and demands to know who he is. Shizune begins to realize that she may have made a big mistake. Naruto sits across from Tsunade and takes a sip from her sake. He grins at her and introduces himself, but doesn't reveal that he is the demon prince.

Temari seeks out the other members of the Black Scorpion and eventually has a small gathering in a back alley there she admits that she's quitting. The other gang members are furious and beat Temari. She is terrified, but endures because she knows this is something she has to do and it is something that she has wanted for a long time.


"You want out?"

"Temari says she wants to leave!"

"What are you saying? Moron!"

"You think we'd just say 'oh, really?' and let you go?"

"You know the punishment for leaving, don't you?"

"…I know."

"Then get ready to take it, bitch! Gather everyone!"

'I'm scared. I want to run. Enemy shinobi, easy, but these people… I want to run, but… but…'

"Take this!"

"You've been at the top of the food chain for ages! What the hell has made you turn against us, huh?"

She gasped. "Because I… I want to change. I'm through being like this. I want to change. I want to change! Because… because I…"

"Shut up!"

"Too bad your monster brother isn't here! I'm sure that freak would just love to be a part of this!"

Temari's eyes snapped up. "You leave Gaara out of this! He has nothing to do with you!" She shouted, breaking her captor's hold and tacking the other girl.

"He killed my father!"

"You hated your father! When he was alive all you did was bitch and say that it would be better that no good drunk were dead!"

She passes out and is saved by Kankuro.

Temari blearily blinked her eyes open…

"Kankuro?" She exclaimed; the sudden movement brought a painful sting to her ribs.

"Don't move like that, you're pretty banged up. You have at least one cracked rib, but I think that's the worst of it. You're mostly bruised."

She groaned, resting her forehead against the back of his neck. "I feel like hamburger meat."

"Don't say that, you'll ruin my favorite food for me."

"Fine," she snapped, "I feel like shit. How does that sound?"

"Much better."

Kankuro carries her home and she wakes up on his back, and he tells her that Aiko was the reason he came looking for her. Temari is so relieved that she begins to cry, and apologizes to her brother for being such an emotional silly lately. Kankuro says he doesn't mind and that he'll even bandage Temari himself as long as she tries not to cause so much trouble when she's married. Temari agrees, and is quietly thankful since going to the hospital is a bad idea connsidering her association with the gang.

"Some girl came by our house, a girl with yellow eyes. 'I can't stop them myself, help Temari!' she said. 'I like Temari. If she wants to live respectably, she should. She should have the life she wants.'"

Her eyes stung with tears. "Aiko-sempai…" she mumbled.

(Reference: Fruits Basket Chapts 40-41)

Naruto apologizes to Shizune for leading her on. Tsunade wants to know what he wants with her. Naruto explains that Sarutobi was attacked by Orochimaru and that though Orochimaru was killed, Hiruzen has become very aware of just how old he is. He has decided to step down as Hokage and has chosen Tsunade to be the Godaime. Tsunade opens her mouth to respond, but Jiraiya bursts in in a sissy rage and jumps at Naruto. Naruto dodges him easily and wraps a still-invisible tail and threatens to crush Jiraiya's hand if he doesn't chill out. Tsunade wants to know what Naruto's buisness with making her Hokage is. Naruto admits he doesn't care who becomes Hokage, just that the village needs one, because, even though he cares nothing for Konoha, his fate is inevitably tied to it, trouble for the village means trouble for him and trouble for him means trouble for the village. Tsunade says that she doesn't want to become Hokage because it is a fool's errand. This angers Konohamaru, who gets up in Tsunade's face. Konohamaru also wants to become Hokage and is also a Kage's grandchild. Jiraiya suggests they leave the restaurant, as they are distracting the other customers. Konohamaru and Tsunade continue arguing, and Naruto smells Nichi. He turns and calls out for her in fox, catching Jiraiya attaention. Nichi runs into Naruto's arms, yipping away. Tonton begins squealing and Nichi jumps down to sniff the other mammal. Tonton begins squealing at Shizune. Shizune asks if something is wrong. Naruto says that he has to leave and go back to Konoha at once, but refuses to elaborate why. He leaves.

Back in Konoha Shino and Choji have made progress with Jirobo and Kidomaru. Kidaomaru has even been released from his restraints and talks rather animatedly with Shino about spiders. He is fascinated that Shino's body is a hive, and Shino is fascinated that the other's body is insect-like. Kidaomaru asks about the outside. Shino admits that he can't tell him anything unless he spills about Orochimaru. Kidomaru is hesitant, and refuses, but there are cracks forming.

Sasuke is thinking about what Naruto promised: to help Sasuke if he needed it. Sasuke decides to ask Naruto to help him get stronger in order to kill his brother. He has no idea who cat is, though, and is at something of a loss because of it. He decides to visit Nekobaba, but is painfully reminded that he cannot because of his leg.

Gaara returns. Temari is cooking at the time and welcomes him home and asks if he would like to help her with dinner. He agrees and they have some quiet sibling bonding time.

She paused, watching him slide his shoes off. He caught sight of her, marinera-covered spoon on one hand.

Temari smiled softly. "Okaerinasai," 'Welcome home,'

His response was almost a whisper. "Tadaima," The phrase filled the room, permeating the air, 'I'm home,'

She lowered the spoon somewhat. "It's hamburger night. I wouldn't mind some help making sure that the pasta doesn't overcook."

At the table Temari brings up the subject of the wedding she and Kankuro are planning. She assures Gaara that she wants him to be part of the ceremony. Without answering, Gaara tells them where he's been the past week and a half and what he's been doing and that he has decided to try and subdue the one-tail. As he has no idea of how to do this, he says he will request for missions to other hidden villages in search of other Jinchuuriki who may be willing to teach him and observes that he wants to protect Suna and maybe become Kazekage one day. Temari and Kankuro are surprised and glad to hear this. Temari says, with no offense intended toward Kankuro, that she wants Gaara to give her away since she will be mating a demon. Gaara is struck speechless, while Kankuro is more laid back and says that he at least has to be able to carry the rings, which makes Temari laugh.

Naruto returns to his forest with Nichi. He is appaled at the state of division between his foxes and demands to know what is going on and why the foxes think so badly of him. The issues brought up hit a tender spot in Naruto and Sanji says that Naruto isn't even a true kitsune because he was born human. Naruto recoils at theis, deeply injured by someone he thought he could trust. He toughens up quickly afterward, and tells the foxes will have to deal with Temari being his mate and his questionable birth, and that no matter their personal opinion, he was chosen by Kyubi and that those who allow this kind of prejuduce to get the better of them and split from the clan will be traitors to their entire species. This brings some back to Naruto's side, but Sanji protests that Naruto is the real traitor and that he and one other person will bring honor back to fox kind. Naruto demands to know who that person is, but doesn't receive an answer. This is very frustrating for Naruto, who observes that this rebellion couldn't have come at a worse time; not only is he on the verge of his 16th birthday and 9th tail, so he is at his weakest strength, but he had also been looking forward to spending quality time with Temari after their mating, which now he will have very limited time for, if much time at all. He knows this needs to be taken care of as soon as possible, but first things first: Temari will be returning to him soon and he goes to meet her at the border of his territory; fire country. He hates to think that he needs to mate her as soon as he can in order to regain his strength, but facts are facts, and it is something very necessary right now.

Naruto meets Temari at the border and is surprised to find an entourage of people waiting for him. Shyly, he hides and sends Nichi out to get the details of what's going on. When he discovers that it is a human ceremony for Temari's mating to him, he comes out, nervous but holding his head high. Temari is wearing an uchikake and looks stunning. Her brothers have sent along only one trunk of valuables for her to take with her. While the ceremony is being preformed Naruto whispers that much has happened during the time of their seperation and there is much they must talk about. They kiss, completing the ceremony and finally go to a nearby den belonging to Naruto. Temari is nervous, but concerned about what is worrying Naruto. Naruto says that it can wait until morning and they have sex, during which Naruto realizes that he really is in love with this woman, while Temari thinks that he is a man she could easily grow to love, though she cannot help but feel somewhat uncomfortable with the idea now.

The next morning Naruto has his ninth tail and Kyubi is dead. He tells Temari about the trouble going on between his foxes. Temari is worried that it is her fault, but Naruto tells her to not think that way; that his love for her may have triggered the separation, but the seeds of doubt were growing inside those individuals long before she came into his life. Temari is so enraptured that she doesn't even blush or realize that Naruto has admitted his love to her. Naruto admits he is hesitant to let her stand equal to him in this kind of fight, as he does not want to see her hurt or injured, but knows better than to tell her to stay away because she's not that kind of woman, and that he wouldn't want that kind of mate anyhow. This time Temari does blush and says that she definitely won't let Naruto fight alone; she will definitely stay by his side to protect him as he tries to protect her. Just because she's officially a retired ninja doesn't mean she has to ditch everything she's ever learned! Naruto wholeheartedly agrees and they go back to Naruto's main den closer to Konoha.

While things aren't in chaos yet, and Konoha remains oblivious to the turmoil the kitsune are going through. Sanji shows up again, this time with help: the half-breed niece of Kyubi, Toru. Temari has never seen Toru before, but is concerned about the amount of alarm she instills in her new husband. Toru talks about how much she hates Naruto and when Temari comes to his defense, Toru gets so angry that she moves to attack Temari. Temari defends herself fiercely, and Naruto attacks Toru, not willing to tolerate Temari being attacked. Toru cannot keep back her injured expression when Naruto hits her, and transforms that hurt into anger. She attacks Naruto and they fight. Sanji tries to intervene but Temari stops him. This further angers Toru who ditches Naruto to go after Temari, telling Temari to not get involved. Naruto chases after Toru, but Sanji ditches Temari to confront Naruto, as he has been wanting to. Sanji reveals his status as a six-tail, showing that he has been hiding his true strength all this time. Naruto and Temari manage to push Sanji and Toru into a retreat, but only just. Naruto's injuries are serious and Temari is worse for wear as well. Naruto's sealed arm also makes itself a more obvious problem.

They return to the den to recover. Naruto suggests she go to Konoha to go to a proper hospital, but she says that if he won't go, then neither will she, she's bandaged her own wounds before. She takes care of her most critical wounds and then attends to his. Naruto watches her attentively while she bandages him, and she avoids meeting his stae, blushing and very aware of his eyes and that she has a lot of cleavage exposed at the moment. When she finshes bandaging him, she starts to turn away, but Naruto pulls her into a kiss instead. They have a sweet and tender moment and Temari breaks it by stating that she should take a bath because he's sweaty and bloody and unpleasant. Naruto tells her that she could have rolled around in mud and she still would've been lovely to him.

In Konoha a man approaches Matsuo Basho, stating that he's here for his translation. Matsuo says not to worry about it, he already has given it to the man's messengers. The man didn't send any messengers.

Choji and Jirobo are calling each other names, and in a roundabout way refusing to acknowledge that they are becoming friends. Kidomaru says that he will tell Ibiki everything if he will let him continue associating with the Aburames. Ibiki says that if that is acceptable to Shino's father than it's okay with him, but that nothing offical will be able to be brought up until Jiraiya comes back with the Godaime. Kidomaru asks about the Sandaime. Ibiki says that he can't tell Kidomaru anything regarding that.

The Sandaime is currently in a meeting with Team Seven, who is just leaving. Sasuke stays behind and asks Hiruzen about the demon prince. When asked why, Sasuke admits that he'd met the prince. He says that Naruto told him to ask a cat, but he doesn't know which cat or of that is an alias of some sort, in which case he still doesn't know who he's supposed to be looking for. Hiruzen finds this somewhat amusing, but says that he can't help Sasuke regarding this; Sasuke has to figure it out for himself, but he tells Sasuke that "cat" is indeed an alias, a codename really. He then dismisses Sasuke and Sasuke has no choice but to bow out and go.

Udon and Meogi have just ended their training for the day and have out to Ichiraku's to eat. Since they are not the only ones there, they talk in hushed voices and Moegi admits she's worried that there might be something dangerous in the scolls the old man gave them. Udon is more skeptical, but Moegi says that if getting the information on the tablet was worth making sure that no one knew it was even gone, it has to be either something very valuable or very dangerous. Udon admits that she has a point. She asks if he still has the scroll safe and Udon admits that he keeps it with him at all times, but has disguised it as a regular scroll and a regular scroll disguised as the unopenable one. Meogi says that's a good idea and they pay and leave. One of the other customers watches them as they go.

Gaara and Kankuro are on the road, dressed in traveling clothes. Having no idea of where to start searching for other Jinchuuriki, they decide that Iwa is as good a place as any as long as they can keep their identities hidden. They take off their hitae-ates and stow them away.

Naruto and Temari try to plan, but realize they cannot do much but wait for Sanji and Toru to make their next move. Naruto hypothosises what they next moves may be and decides to have the foxes prepare themselves for fighting. Temari asks why he doesn't just go out and eradicate the enemy, and Naruto replies that, while Sanji and Toru may deserve to die, there are foxes amongst the group that he grew up knowing and he doesn't want to punish them for simply thinking for themselves. He says that Kyubi might have gone in and massacred for the slight, but Naruto isn't that cold. If he can bring those foxes back to his side, he will do everything he can to do so. Temari finds this very admirable.

Gaara and Kankuro have found the 4-tailed Jinchuuriki, but are too late to even approach the man. They hide and watch in horror as the man fights Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame and is defeated. Gaara uses his Third Eye to spy on them and discovers that the two men are part of a group called Akatsuki. And they want something with the Jinchuuriki. The two boys flee before they can be noticed. Kankuro asks if Gaara wants to go to Fire Country and tell Naruto and Temari about what they witness. Gaara says he wants to gather more information first and says that they should go to Kumo next; if they're lucky the other Jinchuuriki might know something.

Udon is asleep at home. Someone sneaks into his room and tries to get at the hidden place Udon has the scroll hidden in, but the person is driven away by the traps Udon has set. The noise causes udon and everyone in the household to wake up, and the intruder flees empty-handed. Homura wants to know what was really in Udon's hiding place, because she doubts it was really a diary. Udon blushes and says he's not sure if he should tell her. Homura demands he tell her because this has obviously become a breech of national security. When he still refuses, she drags him to see the Sandaime. When they get to the Hokage tower, they see that Jiraiya and Konohamaru have returned. They have gotten Tsunade to come back with them, but not as Godaime; she still refuses the post and has only returned to teach medical jutsu. Danzo will be the Godaime. Hiruzen sends one of his anbu, Cat, to go inform Naruto of the change in power and to arrange a meeting between Naruto and Danzo. While Cat is leaving, Sasuke sees her and tries to follow her, but is left in the dust, much to his frustration.

Naruto and Temari are asleep. They are awoken by Nichi pouncing on their bed. She tells Naruto that Cat has come and he is instantly awake and dressing. Temari asks who Cat is and Naruto informs her that Cat is the primary liason between himself and Konoha. Temari says that she will prepare tea for the person. She enters the main cavern with tea in hand and is surprised to see that Cat is a female Anbu. Cat is alarmed at first, as she has taken her mask off, but Naruto calms her and introduces Temari as his mate and shows that he has all nine tails now. Cat is shocked but hides it well and tells Temari why she's there and the three continue their conversation. Naruto asks when Danzo will be officially instated as Hokage. Cat says a week. Naruto says he will meet with Danzo in nine days. Temari says she wants to meet the new Hokage with Naruto, but is turned down. Offended, she keeps pushing until Naruto raises his voice to her. Temari concedes, and Cat goes back to Konoha.

Jiraiya goes to a bar and comes across Tsunade. They drink and Jiraiya confesses that he's leaving the village again. Tsunade wants to know why he can leave while she has to stay. He tells her about Naruto and how meeting him made him feel worthless and that he needs to get away. Tsunade tells him he needs to grow a pair. Jiraiya laughs and asks if she would like to see personally just how big his nuts are. Tsunade punches Jiraiya in the face. Jiraiya leaves Konoha and goes north to find out what he can about the remains of Orochimaru's group. Konohamaru begs to go with, but is turned down.

Kankuro and Gaara have arrived in Kumo. They haven't had much luck finding a Jinchuuriki, and are taking a break at a small food place. A team of Chuunin enter, and Kankuro cannot resist the desire to flirt with one of the girls, as he finds the people with dark skin fascinating. The male on her team asks Kankuro why he would want to flirt with such a flat-chested girl when their other, busty teammate is there. Karui socks him and Kankuro says that Karuti's breasts are perfectly proportionate for her figure, not that he was looking or anything.

Yugito and Kirabi walk in, Kirabi rapping about the commotion. Yugito talks to Samui and it is revealed that the two are sisters. Kirabi asks what Kankuro and Gaara want with his adorable students. Gaara says, absolutely nothing, they are looking for someone. Yugito asks who; Kankuro tries to tell them that it's none of their business, but Gaara admits that he is looking for other Jinchuriki. Kirabi laughs and says that it's their lucky day, or maybe its just fate and dramatically introduces himself and Yugito. Kankuro and Gaara spend a couple days in Kumo talking with Kirabi and Yugito. The two have more information than Gaara and Kankuro have about Akatsuki, but it's still not much. However, it is enough for them to determine that they need to alert Naruto and Temari; it's time to head to Fire Country. Gaara asks about taming Shukaku. Kirabi tells Gaara to come back when his heart has opened more, because Gaara would definitely lose to the Shukaku as he is now.

Kankuro and Gaara head south. While stopping in Rice Country, they are overheard talking about the Akatsuki by Jiraiya. Jiraiya confronts them and is immediately recognized by Gaara. Jiraiya does his crazy introduction and Gaara asks Kankuro if Jiraiya is joking or something. Jiraiya asks what they want with the Demon Prince and is informed that their sister is Naruto's wife/mate. Jiraiya is shocked to hear this. Kankuro asks if Jiraiya knows aanything about the Aaktsuki and Jiraiya admits that he does, but whats to hear what Gaara and Kankuro know first. Kankuro tells him. Jiraiya tells the boys that he came to Rice Country seeking out Oto, only to find the place as good as deserted. A few human experiments were left behind to rot and Jiraiya saved them. They told him that Kabuto joined forces with some strange organization. After hearing the descriptions of the persons' clothing, Jiraiya concluded that the group must have been Akatsuki. He says that the group's goal is to collect all the jinchuuriki and extract their demons, but he doesn't know why or what they're planning to do with the demons. Kankuro and Gaara decide to hurry to Konoha as soon as possible, and that as soon as they do that they should go back to Kumo and tell Yugito and Kirabi about the situation as well.

Fast forward to Naruto's meeting with Danzo. Naruto demands tribute that Danzo refuses to give. At some point, Danzo reveals that he knows that Naruto is in a bad situation with the foxes. Danzo says that if anyone should be offering tribute, it should be the demon prince. Naruto corrects him, saying that he is a prince no longer; he is now the demon king. Danzo doesn't answer and stands and goes to look out the window. He goes into a monologue talking about how people in the village doubt his abilities because of his age and his history as something of a war-hawk. He asks if Naruto is really okay dealing with a person like him as Hokage, since he is so different from Hiruzen. Naruto says that doesn't matter and that it may even work to his advantage, because, controversial as Danzo is, the stronger the image Konoha has, the better for Naruto; because a strong village refects a strong territory; if Konoha is weak, then enemy villages may try to invade and Naruto doesn't want to deal with outsiders trampling around his forest. Danzo finds this increrdibly amusing and promises Naruto that he will lead Konoha into a golden age. Naruto says that he'll believe it when he sees it.

Sasuke sees Cat and finally catches up to her. He demands that she take him to the demon prince. Cat refuses because of his bad attitude and ignorance: he's the demon KING now, idiot boy. Sasuke sucks it up and asks nicely and Cat leads him to the Hokage tower, much to Sasuke's confusion.

Naruto and Danzo are interrupted by a knock on the door, and though Danzo is irritated, he lets Cat in, stating that it had better be important. Sasuke barges in and goes up to Naruto, demanding that favor he is owed. Naruto is very annoyed; asking why Sasuke felt that it was a good idea to interrupt his meeting with the Hokage. Sasuke ignores this and tells Naruto that he wants training in order to kill his brother. Naruto is even more irritated by this and tells Sasuke that he doesn't have time for such a thing and that he doesn't know the first thing about being a ninja anyhow. However, he would happily seek Itachi out and kill him for Sasuke when he has the time. Sasuke protests, saying that no one can kill Itachi but him, and said that Naruto said that he could go to him whenever he needed help. Naruto says that he isn't asking for help, he's asking for assistance, and Naruto offered that because he nearly killed Sasuke. Naruto tells him to leave and to seek him out when he has something worth asking for. Sasuke attempts to attack Naruto, but is easily tossed aside. Danzo is impressed with Naruto and has Sasuke forcibly removed from the room. Danzo tells Naruto that he has earned some of his respect, but he will not offer any sort of tribute to Naruto until he sorts out the issues within his clan. Naruto tells Danzo to keep ninja out of his forest until things are sorted. Danzo agrees to do that much.

Gaara and Kankuro arrive in Fire Country and have gone straight to Temari. Temari is overjoyed to see them and hugs them both, asking what they are doing there. Kankuro tells her that they have discovered some very important info that involves Naruto. Temari informs them that Naruto is in a meeting with the new Hokage and will be back before nightfall. She notes that they look exhausted and insists that they rest up while waiting. Kankuro wants to insist that the subject is too urget, but Gaara stops him, saying that they have indeed been pushing themselves too hard and Temari is right, they need to rest up before they collapse from exhaustion and stress. Temari says she'll warm up the venison stew for when they're done bathing. Kankuro asks if Temari loves Naruto. She admits that she believes she does. He asks if she's told Naruto yet, but she hasn't. Kankuro tells her that she should tell him.

Naruto returns at evening and is glad to see Kankuro and Gaara. Kankuro apologizes for coming carrying such grave news. They tell him about Akatsuki and what Jiraiya said about Otogakure. Naruto is suitably alarmed and Kankuro shows him Itachi and Kisame's profiles in the International Bingo Book. Naruto wonders where he's heard the name Uchiha before and Temari reminds him that it was the black haired kid that he mistook for Madara. Naruto is startled and realizes that Itachi must be the brother Sasuke was speaking of. However, he decides he needs more information before doing anything concerning Akatsuki. Gaara asks Naruto how he tamed Kyubi. Naruto says that he really didn't, Kyubi cooperated at least somewhat, but becoming the demon prince was more than that. He tells the story of how, when he was young and he and Kyubi decided to become one, his birth mother appeared in his psyche. Without her help, Naruto and Kyubi never would have been able to merge.

Gaara and Kankuro leave to go back to Kumo to meet Kirabi and Yugito.

Sanji and Toru make their move against Naruto. Though Sanji proves to be something of a challenge, he is ultimately crushed and killed, while Toru escapes by the skin of her teeth. Despite his injuries, Naruto manages to convince most of the rebelling kitsune to come back to his side and those that refuse him slink away, never to be seen again. Temari tells Naruto that she loves him. His sealed arm continues to be an issue, but he is learning to cope with it.

Toru retreats back to her master with her tail between her legs. She apologizes profusely but is severely punished. Her master is revealed to be Madara. After harming her, Madara comforts her and Toru begs him not to hate her. Madara manipulates her emotions and tells her not to worry because Konoha and the demon king will fall soon. He takes her to Kabuto and tells the medic to heal her up, as there is no need to make her suffer longer than necessary.

Gaara and Kankuro arrive back in Kumo and discover that Yugito has been captured and her demon extracted by Akatsuki. Samui is even colder than she was before and Omoi has started calling her Ice Queen. Gaara tells he wants to learn how to control Shukaku; even if he isn't ready yet, he wants to try. Kirabi consents and takes off to go talk to his brother, the Raikage.

Konohamaru and Hiruzen go to visit Naruto and Tsutsuma. Konohamaru is overjoyed to see that Naruto has all nine tails now and is even gladder to see that Tsutsuma made a full recovery from Orochimaru's poison. Temari is amazed and endeared to see that Konohamaru gets along with the foxes so well. Naruto tells Hiruzen that he wants to speak with Danzo again, as the kitsune rebellion is over, but he is concerned about the organization called Akatsuki. Hiruzen promises to talk to Danzo, but it would probably be better for Naruto's image if he just went ahead and stormed in. Naruto laughs at that and says he'll probably do that as Danzo isn't as easy to get along with as Hiruzen was. They are interrupted by Cat. Cat is leading Sasuke again. Sasuke asks his favor, but then is startled by the sight of Temari. He demands to know what she is doing there, and Naruto protectively steps between them, telling Sasuke that Temari is his wife. Naruto then tells Sasuke that he came at a good time, he's about to go talk to Danzo and he wants Sasuke to be there. Sasuke asks why and Naruto says that it involves his brother.

Gaara, Kankuro, Kirabi, and Team Kirabi arrive at the turtle island. Kankuro observes that the place is right up Gaara's alley, which earns him a glare. They go a shore and rest so that Kankuro and Gaara can get over their seasickness. Kankuro takes a shower in a waterfall and Karui stumbles across him, which leads to a very awkward but cute situation. Karui tells him that he looks very handsome without his face paint, but Kankuro tells her that he hates seeing his unpainted face because he looks like his father. Karui sympathizes, saying that people always say she looks like her mother, but she doesn't get along with said parent, and it's part of the reasons she became a ninja. Since neither are the type to hold back and court slowly, they jump right to making out.

The next morning Kirabi takes Gaara to the Waterfall of Truth and tells him what he must do first. Kirabi informs him that the experience is different for each person; Kirabi had to fight his hateful mirror image. Gaara says he understands and begins to meditate.

Naruto barges in on Danzo, who is in the middle of a stack of paperwork. Danzo is annoyed and tells Naruto off. Naruto lets the insult pass by like water off a duck's back. Naruto tosses Sanji's pelt onto Danzo's desk, stating that the foxes are no longer on the verge of civil war, and that if Danzo makes the pelt into clothing, it will protect him from elemental chakra and lesser jutsu, and that this is the only tribute he should ever expect to receive. Danzo is very surprised and gruffly thanks Naruto for the gift. Naruto says that they have to talk and that Sasuke is here because it involves Uchiha Itachi. Danzo folds the pelt and says he's listening.

Naruto brings up Akatsuki, and tells Danzo what he has been made aware of regarding it. He asks if Danzo knows anything about it. Danzo admits that he does and reveals that Orochimaru was supposedly once a member. He details Akatsuki's job as cheap, professional nin for hire and their significant role in wars. He asks what Naruto thinks they want with the Biju. Naruto admits he doesn't know but whatever it is can't be good. Perhaps world domination or something silly like that. Danzo agrees, but he thinks that's a farce for some other motive. Naruto states that he thinks Uchiha Madara has something do with it. Sasuke and Danzo are both thrown off by this and state that Madara was killed ages ago. Naruto corrects them, informing them that Madara was the one that caused Kyubi to attack 16 years ago and that, as far as his father knew, Madara is still alive. Sasuke is speechless but Danzo is grim and admits that he isn't as surprised as he probably ought to be. Danzo asks what Naruto plans to do about it. Naruto says that he isn't sure yet, but he needs to find Jiraiya. Danzo says he wants to pay off Naruto's debt to Sasuke. Naruto says he has no problem with that, but asks why. Danzo tells Sasuke that he can teach him the deepest secrets of the Sharingan; he can teach Sasuke things that he will never be able to gain from Naruto. Naruto is all for this, but admits he's still willing to help Sasuke if Sasuke refuses Danzo's offer. Sasuke doesn't turn Danzo down. Naruto leaves, but tells Sasuke that if Itachi comes after him, he won't hold back just so Sasuke can get his petty revenge. Sasuke grits his teeth, but nods in understanding.

Gaara enters the place inside his heart, prepared to fight himself or something else, but there is no one there and nothing around but himself. He searches for a while, but does not find anything and returns to the real world. He tells Kirabi that there was nothing there. Kirabi is very surprised at this, and eventually decides that it must mean that Gaara has already conquered the darkness in his heart.

They go inside the temple and Kirabi tries to trick Gaara into putting his head in the statute's mouth, but Gaara refuses, saying that even if he has accepted the darkness in his heart, he has no doubt that the statue would kill him, and that he can't afford to die right now. Kirabi sighs and admits that it was all a joke and takes Gaara into the special room to help Gaara conquer Shukaku.

Gaara enters his psyche and is dropped in the middle of a desert with a blood red moon and sun in the sky at the same time. In the distance is a gleaming limestone pyramid. Gaara goes inside and is quickly enveloped in darkness. He feels his way along by listening to the sand. Throughout the cooridors he can hear a woman's muffled sobbing. He turns one corner and the sob twists into a horrible shriek and a body rushes past him. Gaara comes to terms with the fact that he feels terrified. He finally reaches Shukaku's chamber, a room with a giant sarcophagus. Shukaku is inside the great stone box, but there is the woman, crying, sitting atop it. Gaara calls out to her and she turns to face him, revelaing a rotted face similar to his mother's. The corpse croons and coos at him, demanding to know why he abandoned her, why he stopped loving her when she loved him so much. Kirabi tells Gaara not to listen, and that it seems he must defeat this phantom before he can come face to face with Shukaku. Gaara destroys it by describing the mother Yashamaru and his siblings always described. The phantom turns to sand. Gaara pushes the lid off of the sarcophagus, revealing the gold-encased tanuki inside. He removes the gold shield and Shukaku explodes out. Gaara immediately latches onto Shukaku and they engage in tug-o-war. However, it is not a tug-o-war of chakras, it is one of minds. When it seems that Shukaku is going to get the better of Gaara, Kirabi steps in, reminding Gaara of all the good things he has gone through and the good things in life worth living for and fighting for. This gives Gaara the strength to overcome Shukaku and the demon is reduced to a simple (though enormous) tanuki that is all brawn and no brains. Gaara comes back to the real world and soon passes out, but this time, there is no insane Shukaku to take over and go on a rampage. Gaara sleeps peacefully for several days. Kankuro and Karui further their relationship.

Naruto apologizes to Temari for being so busy lately. Temari accepts his apology, but admits she mas missed him. Naruto propses spending a few days alone near the Land of Bears, because the star showers there are said to be amazing (as there are a number of countries surrounding the canon map that have been unidentified or unnamed, I figure that a number of those are pretty free game). Temari agrees and they spend two days spending quality time together, acting like a genuine couple.

Sasuke makes a trip to the hospital after a harsh day of training under Danzo. He is treated by Tenten, who is being overseen by Tsunade. Sasuke takes something of an interest in Tenten, saying he didn't imagine the girl with all the crazy weapons ever trying to heal people and save lives. Tenten explains that she's always idolized Tsunade and bites back at Sasuke stating that if she knows how to fix people than she'll know how to damage them even better than before. Sasuke is intrigued by this thought and admits that Tenten makes a good point. He puts his clothes and says that Tenten will probably be seeing more of him, as he has been training very intensely lately.

Konohamaru, Udon, and Moegi are concerned about the strange scrolls they still have. They debate on whether or not they should tell the adults the truth or not. Meogi suggests going to see Sasuke about it since they came from his clan's tablet. They find him at the Uchiha compound and tell him about it. Sasuke tries to open it but quickly realizes that it can only be opened with the Mangekyo Sharingan. He wonders if his brother commissioned the scrolls, or if perhaps it was Uchiha Madara. Sasuke tells the younger ninja not to tell anybody about the scrolls, especially the Godaime. When they ask why he shakes his head and says he can't tell them.

Tayuya is slinking around Akatsuki's base. She overhears a conversation where Madara is explaining how he can't complete his Moon's Eye plan without the scrolls in Konoha that those brats somehow managed to get ahold of. Kabuto offers to get them himself but Madara says no one knows what to look for but him. Tayuya slips away before she can get caught. She thinks about how she hates working for Akatsuki. Despite wanting revenge on Konoha, she doesn't want to go about it this way; world domination seems petty to her. She has no respect for Akatsuki, who are after nothing but power and a twisted variation of peace. She observes that Orochimaru wanted no such thing, and though the methods he used were often morally corrupt, he was after knowledge, not power. She decides she doesn't want to be a part of Akatsuki any longer and that she will leave and first save her comrades from Konoha, Jirobo and Kidomaru.

Gaara wakes from his coma-like sleep. He eats and bathes and Kirabi tells him that they should spar so that they can test Gaara's control. They fight and Kirabi very much has the upperhand, but he says that Gaara did spectacularly. They leave the island and are attacked by Akatsuki on the way. Kirabi protects Gaara and is taken, but shows up again soon after revealing that the enemy is carting off a mere tail. Kirabi says it will take a while for the tail to grow back, but it was worth it for his life and freedom.

Naruto and Temari are "honeymooning" in a small village near Bear Country. Naruto tells Temari to go spoil herself, and gives her the gold for her to get whatever she wants, however, she insists on him coming along. He is awkward around the groups of people, but cannot help but like Temari modeling outfits for him. After making one purchase he whispers to her that the clothes are lovely, but he'd rather see her take them off. She blushes and shoves him playfully. Their expensive clothes lead the villagers to believe that the couple is the Lord and Lady of a far off land and the two are treated richly. They go out to eat, but Naruto embarssingly admits that he doesn't know how to use chopsticks. Temari says not to worry; she will teach him. They go eat and inside they stumble into Jiraiya, who is flirting with the waitresses. Naruto snags him before he can flee and demands Jiraiya show him how to fix his sealed arm. Jiraiya says he has no reason to do such a thing, but when Naruto tells him is theories on Akatsuki and how he intends on ridding the world of them, Jiraiya relents. Naruto and Temari are both horrified to see that Naruto has to swallow a toad, but he goes through with it anyhow. Temari states that she's not kissing him until he brushes his teeth twice. Jiraya warns Naruto not to unlock the seal right away or hastily, as one never knows when that sort of thing might come in handy. Jiraiya also tells Naruto that the Akatsuki base is located in Ame. Naruto thinks on that.

Sasuke contemplates asking Danzo about the tablet, but decides against this. His distraction puts him in the hospital again. Tenten treats him again. Sasuke asks if she's seeing anybody. Tenten admits that she is not, but wants to know why he'd ask her such a thing. Sasuke says that when he kills his brother he would like Tenten to go out with him. Tenten firmly tells Sasuke that she's not the kind of girl to wait for any man, and what sparked his ineterest in her anyway? Sasuke tells her that she is attractive, strong, and without any inherited abilities that would interfere with his passing on the Sharigan. Tenten kicks him out and hands him over to Sakura, telling the pinkette that she doesn't want to deal with the prick anymore. Sasuke is puzzled about her rejection and wonders what he did wrong; wouldn't most girls be all over dating him?

Tayuya sneaks into Konoha, looking abit worse for wear. She wonders what is up with the foxes and wild animals in the forest around Konoha. She tracks down Kidomaru at the Aburame compound and wakes him up and tries to convince him to run away with her. Much to her shock, Kidomaru refuses, saying that he is accepted and respected here. Tayuya shouts, wanting to know why could ally himself with the people who killed Orochimaru. Kidomaru admits he can never fully forgive them for killing Orochimaru, because Orochimaru was the first person to really care for him, but Kidomaru has a better life here, he has friends and despite having extra arms, he's not a total freak. Tauya is appalled and leaves and finds Jirobo. But even he turns her down, having found a better life for himself with the Akimichi clan. He's even met a girl. Tayuya tells Jirobo that he must have been brainwashed, but Jirobo says that, no, it was Orochimaru who was doing the brainwashing. Orochimaru always said that they would never find others who cared for them, but Orochimaru was wrong. Tayuya says Jirobo's just being like that because she insulted him so much and he was a big baby he couldn't take it. Jirobo tells her to get lost; he won't tell on her but if she gets caught he won't save her, either. He tells her to be wary of the forest unless she wants to get killed. Tayuya asks what 's talking about and Jirobo tells her about the legendary Demon Prince. Tayuya scoffs but Jirobo shrugs and tells her it's her life, if she wants to throw it away so casually she's free to do so. The word "free" hits a sore spot in Tayuya's heart and she leaves in turmoil.

Naruto and Temari go home and are surprised to see Gaara, Kankuro, and a new person waiting for them. The new person is Kirabi. Kirabi wants to test himself against Naruto so they have a mock-battle. It is a close fight, but ultimately Naruto wins because he is an actual demon. Gaara and Kankuro tell Temari that Gaara can sleep now. When she asks him how he likes it he says it's uncomfortable and dark and a waste of time, but he is getting used to it. Kirabi tells Naruto he wants in on the destruction of Akatsuki. Naruto welcomes him aboard and the five head toward Ame.

Madara attacks Konoha. Though he cannot do much damage by himself, he attacks both Konohamaru and Udon and steals the scrolls. Sasuke, who is in the hospital yet again, immediately runs to protect Tenten when things start going downhill. Madara declares his intentions from the top of the Hokage tower. Danzo comes out and attacks Madara and is nearly killed; however, the fox pelt saves his life. Danzo summons the Sarutobis and Udon's family and demands answers. Udon, Moegi, and Konohamaru tell the elders about the scrolls they found. Hiruzen and Danzo decide that their situation is dire and that they need to prepare themselves for war against Madara and Ame. Danzo asks how to contact Naruto. Hiruzen assures Danzo that he will take of it.

On the border of Fire Country, a messenger fox catches up to Naruto and the others. Naruto and Kirabi are able to understand the animal's words and Naruto is furious that someone dared attack his territory. He goes off toward Ame in a blind rage.

Madara opens his prize: the scrolls. However, they are not what they seem and his plans are totally shot. He's so upset he can hardly think straight and decides to go to Konoha and tear them to the ground right away. However, he sees that Naruto is coming for him and he retreats. Naruto fights Pein's six bodies and with the help of Gaara, Kirabi, Kankuro, and Temari, kills them all. He then kills Pein and, in turn, Konan. They then go after Madara.

Madara acts calm and collected, as if he has been waiting for them for a long time. He puts Gaara to sleep and is surprised to see that Shukaku doesn't take over. He then turns his eyes on Kirabi and controls him, forcing him to attack Naruto. Naruto manages to put Kirabi in his place, then realizes that he must fight Madara blind or be hypnotized into killing Temari and destroying Konoha and finally being put into the statue with the rest of the Biju. Naruto fights Madara, losing badly, and when Madara tries to teleport himself to the space between worlds, Naruto grabs a hold of him and is pulled into the realm. Temari is terrified that Naruto won't return. When Gaara and Kirabi wake up, she and Kankuro explain the situation. They wait as long as they can, but still neither Naruto nor even Madara come back. They have to leave. Kirabi grabs the scrolls to take back with them. In the streets Ame residents are saying that god's men have disbanded, god has been killed, etc, etc.

Sarutobi chuckled, looking over the scrolls that had contributed so largely to Uchiha Madara's demise. In his hands he held a grocery list and an essay on chakra uses for civilians. "I cannot say it comes as a huge surprise. Matsuo-san, despite his great love for books, was always forgetful and unorganized. I believe it's safe to say that the true secrets to the tablet are still in his library, safe and lost, as they should be, really.

"Matsuo Basho could easily be the oldest person in the Elemental Countries now. Very few people are left that witnessed the First War or the establishment of Konoha, Suna, Iwa, Kumo, and Kiri, and Matsuo-san was easily thirty years older than Senju Hashirama. He was grey-haired and half-senile even when I was a boy. I can hardly imagine him now, quirkier than he was then. I suppose his wife's death had a lot to do with it."

"He was married?"

"Oh yes, to a lovely woman named Murasaki Shibuki.

They return to Konoha and, with Sasuke, Konohamaru Corps, etc., explain to Danzo what has happened and hand him the scrolls that had been stolen. Hiruzen looks over them too and laughs and explains how silly Matsuo Basho is and what must have happened. When Temari explains how Naruto disappeared, Danzo tells her not to accept that he's dead until there is a body; there's no telling just what is in the world within the mangekyo and it's too early to accept that such a powerful person was defeated so easily.

They go back to the forest, and none of them are more shocked than Temari to see Naruto waiting for them. She leaps upon him, not sure whether she wants to kiss him or kill him. Naruto laughs at her and convinces them all to sit down so he can explain. Madara is dead, he says, and the world inside the mangekyo is none other than the demon realm. Naruto, being the new kyubi, was stuck there for ages and was unable to return to earth in territories that didn't belong to him, meaning that he could only return to his forest; Ame and Konoha and such were off limits. He apologizes for making everyone worry and think the worst.

Kirabi leaves back to Kumo for a while, but says that he'll no doubt meet the sibs again, as he intends to kill the men who killed Yugito. Kankuro sends a letter for Karui along with him.

Sasuke packs up to go and hunt down the wandering Itachi. He asks Tenten to wait for him and she refuses, telling him that she waits for no man, so he'd better hurry the fuck up and get back if he wants any sort of chance with her. Sasuke kisses her before running off, laughing while she fumes.

Tayuya contemplates joining Konoha with Jirobo and Kidomaru, but decides she just can't do it. She kills Kabuto, who is whining over Madara's death, and decides to take a soul-searching journey.

Kankuro and Gaara says goodbye to Naruto and Temari and head home for Suna. Gaara says that he's going to aspire to become Kazekage. Naruto thinks that is just awesome.

Naruto and Temari share a romantic moment, only to be interrupted by a joyous Nichi.

The End