The Melody of the Fox

Chapter 44

AN: Hey guys. I decided to rip the bandage off fast and put this note at the top so that you're not shocked or misled. After months of thought, I've decided that I'm going to have to retire from writing fan fiction. I've tried to find time for it between work and my personal life, but what you see below is about how much I could get done in the span of 4-5 months. It's also a little strange to write a story for something you haven't been a fan of for a very long time. It was a great run, and I'm extremely disappointed that I couldn't get to the end of their story. Thanks for all of your support!

They'd already jumped eleven times, and she'd given up on trying to figure out where they were each time. She still felt sick every time she opened her eyes, so even though it was sort of a terrible idea, she fully trusted him to get them where they needed to go–wherever that was.

"I…I need to take a quick break. Traveling this far uses a lot of chakra," he breathed, collapsing beneath a large tree. When Tayuya plopped down on almost the other side of tree, he felt his heart drop.

It was awkward just being around each other, and for the life of him he couldn't figure out a single thing to say. He hadn't felt this way with her since…ever. The first time they met they were at each others' throats, and after that they had become best friends. There was never a time where they were afraid to speak to other until now.

As she sat next to him against the tree, he couldn't help but wish that she wasn't so far away. She purposefully put more than an arm's distance between them, and knowing her, it was on purpose. He was just about to bring up something stupid like the weather when she spoke.

"Where'd you go?" she finally asked.

Naruto sighed. He knew she'd ask eventually, but at this point, there was no real reason to not tell her anything. They were far enough away not to have to worry about pursuers catching up, and there was no around for miles to eavesdrop. "I went to save Yugi-chan. The Akatsuki abducted her."

He glanced over, saw the look of fear that flashed across her face, and sighed again. Knowing how worried she got whenever anyone so much as whispered the name Akatsuki was one of the main reasons he hadn't wanted to tell her.

She was quiet for a long minute, nails digging into her leg. "Did…did you stop them?"

He smiled as best he could, but remembering how the battle had gone down, he couldn't quite force it to meet his eyes. "Yeah." He prayed that she wouldn't ask anymore about it, even though she'd find out eventually. He just hated seeing that look on her face.

"Are you okay?"

He stared at her as if trying to decide whether or not it was okay to tell her everything, but he quickly realized that he had to trust her if he ever wanted to repair their relationship. Eventually he leaned forward and pulled his shirt up, revealing a long, jagged scar. He heard her gasp and quickly moved to explain. "There's this crazy guy named Hidan in the Akatsuki. He believes in this god or whatever that makes him immortal, and his weapon…" he trailed off then, realizing that the more he spoke the more panicked she looked. "I'm just having a hard time healing from it is all."

Tayuya swallowed roughly. "How long ago did this happen?"

"A week."

Knowing how quickly he healed, the fact that she could even tell he had been injured was frightening. He only was healing about as quickly as a normal human–maybe even slower.

She suddenly stood up and grabbed his arm. "We're going back to Konoha. Tsunade-sama has to take a look at it."

"Since when did you start calling her Tsunade-sama?" he smirked.

"I'm not joking. We're going back. Now."

"It's fine. Whatever he did just suppressed the bastard fox's chakra for awhile. It's getting better."


"Promise. You should've seen how it looked last week."

She was quiet for a few minutes, mulling over his words. He certainly looked like he was telling the truth, and the scar was healing. Eventually her shoulders relaxed, and she let go of his arm to run an exasperated hand through her hair. "So where are we going again?"

He smiled mysteriously at her, standing to stretch. "I'd rather just show you. I know you'll love it, though."

Since he was taller than her, his standing put her eyes right at chest level. She glanced away to resist the urge she had to jump him and motioned for him to put his shirt back on. "Are you good to go?"

He wrapped his arm around her waist again. "Yeah, hold on."

They jumped three more times in a row, and when she didn't feel her stomach lurch a fourth time, she felt it was safe to assume that they'd arrived at their destination.

"Ready for this?" Naruto asked, a lilting tone in his voice.

Before he'd even opened his mouth she'd smelled the sea and excitedly opened her eyes. "No fucking way. Are we where I think we are?"

"Yup. Welcome back to the Wave Country." He grabbed her hand and led her further away from the beach and into the woods the woods.

Instead of going straight across the Great Naruto Bridge like they had the last time, he led them below it, meeting Tazuna and a preteen Inari. The dark-haired boy sprung to his feet and rushed the shinobi, wide grin spreading across his face.

"Tayuya!" He shouted excitedly, hugging her tightly.

He was already her height, making her feel a little sour. "Hey, kid! You're huge now." She returned his hug and ruffled his hair, glad to see that he'd finally stopped wearing that stupid bucket hat of his.

Inari grinned and scratched at his nose. "I had a growth spurt last year!"

"Alright, alright, we can all catch up later. We should get a move on before it gets dark," Tazuna said, leading them over to a boat he had stashed beneath a low hanging tree. They all piled in and he started up the motor, carefully maneuvering them away from the mainland.

Though she'd expected them to head to Tazuna's house, they instead went in the complete opposition direction and into the middle of the ocean. It took a full forty five minutes for them to come upon a small island she didn't even know existed, and from the looks of it, it was completely deserted.

They tied up the boat and hopped out, walking into the dense, overgrown brush for a good ten to fifteen minutes. She was just starting to wonder where the fuck they were going when the trees gradually lessened until they were standing in front of what had to be the largest house she'd ever seen. It was a full four stories high and looked like something out of a fairytale. To be frank, it was so extravagant that it looked out of place amongst the forestry surrounding it.

"Is this your house?" she asked, awed by the sheer size of it.

"No, it belongs to the richest family in the Wave country. They agreed to let you all borrow it for as long as you needed it."

Naruto stepped up to the door first, hands forming seals as he walked. He gripped the doorknob for a full three seconds, and shortly afterwards, the door swung open to reveal a familiar blonde standing in the doorway.

Tayuya found herself wrapped up in a tight hug before she could even react. "It's about time you got here!" Temari said, resting her chin on the shorter redhead's shoulder.

"What are you doing here?!"

"Naruto hasn't told you?"

At that, Tayuya turned to look at him expectantly. He'd been awfully tight-lipped on the way over, but now that they were in what was apparently his base of sorts, he looked much more willing to share what was going on.

"This is the headquarters for the Jinchuuriki Alliance." At her incredulous stare, he grinned sheepishly. "Hey, it's the best we could come up with for now."

"Is that her?" a loud voice sounded from the top of the stairs. She was a tall, stern looking woman with piercing blue eyes, short blonde hair, and a chest that easily rivaled Tsunade's.

Naruto could already tell that Tayuya wasn't particular pleased about the way she'd been addressed and moved to smooth things over. "Yup, this is Tayuya-chan. I was just bringing her up."

"Cool." She turned on her heel and headed down then allay.

"Who's the uptight bitch?"

"That's Samui-chan. she's not normally like that. You'll see what's going on when we get upstairs." He grabbed her hand and led her up to the second floor, followed closely by Temari.

They went into one of the adjacent rooms to see two other dark-skinned Kumo shinobi and what looked like a normal doctor standing around a thin young woman lying in a bed.

"Who's that?" Tayuya asked, nodding slightly to the strangers.

Naruto sighed. "Yugi-chan."

It looked like she'd recently lost everything below her bicep and there were a few fading bruises on her face, but besides that, she didn't look too bad off. "What happened to her arm?"

"Hidan, that fucking—" He took a deep, shaky breath, forcing himself to calm down enough to continue. "He cut it off. I tried to save her, but…"

Karui, the dark-skinned Kumo kunoichi, stepped in to speak. "It wasn't your fault. If you hadn't shown up, we wouldn't have been able to find her let alone save her life. We owe you a debt of gratitude."

Tayuya bit the inside of her lip. She could see how angry he was about whatever had happened and knew that he had a tendency to blame himself for everything, but she was just too curious to let it drop. "How did you know where to find her?"

"I was able to latch onto her chakra signature from when she helped me train with the fox. He helped me sniff her out."

"I didn't know you could do that." A silence enveloped the room as they watched the woman lie motionless on the bed. Tayuya was the first to move, and she slid onto the bed next to Yugito's head. She then opened one of her eyelids, studying her reaction to the light of the room. "Is it a genjutsu?"

Samui shook her head. "That was the first thing we tried. We thought it was shock or a coma. She had her arm cut off and lost a lot of blood after all."

"Well, there's too much activity going on for this to be a simple coma, so it's probably a high level genjutsu of some kind. They wouldn't want her waking up when they were trying to take her demon out. I wouldn't be surprised if this is Itachi's doing."

"Can't you wake her up? You're a genjutsu specialist, aren't you?" Karui asked, voice sounding vaguely condescending.

"Let me try something." She wasn't overly pleased with the kunoichi's tone, but she was here for Naruto. She could kick the Kumo shinobis' asses later since apparently every last one of them had a smart mouth that needed to be wired shut.

"What are you going to do?"

"Well, It's definitely a genjutsu, and a high level one. It'll take a lot of chakra to wake her up, and the usual method won't work. We'll have to forcefully stop the chakra flow to her brain without killing her."

"Is that even possible?"

Tayuya scratched at her hair, feeling herself growing annoyed at all of the questions. "It's risky, but possible. If we use another jinchuuriki's chakra to stimulate her brain until her own can kick back in it'll work."

Everyone turned to look at Naruto who immediately shook his head. "I can't right now. using the Hiraishin so many times tired me out, and I don't think I have the control for that. What about Gaara?"

"Gaara's risky. It might effect what little control he has over the Ichibi. Where's Bee?" Temari asked, glancing around the room as if noticing for the first time that he wasn't with them.

Samui also shook her head. "In Kumo, gathering resources from his brother."

His eyes lighting up, Naruto remembered something important. "Tayuya has my chakra inside of her. She can do it."

"I'm already doing it." She took a deep breath and placed one hand on Yugito's forehead and the other on the back of her neck. This was the first time she'd be trying this as it was a trick she'd only heard about from Kurenai. The woman had come up with the idea as a way to potentially counteract a genjutsu from the Sharingan. Closing her eyes she focused her chakra into her fingertips, and biting her lip, forced a large, concentrated burst directly into her brain.

The blonde jerked once–an involuntary action caused by her nervous system suddenly being cut off from her brain–but there was no other indication that what she'd done had worked. It was much more anticlimactic than she'd thought it'd be.

She lifted the woman's eyelid again to see that her eyeballs were no longer moving, which was either a good sign or a really, really bad one. She was still breathing and her heartbeat was steady, so for now, there was nothing more she could do.

"We just have to wait for her to wake up now."