Summary: Naruto, Kakashi, and Jiraiya have returned to the Leaf village after nearly four years away training. Upon their return, all three of them have entered into relationships with the women they love. Now they march forward with their lives that have significantly changed since they left years ago. As many new changes and surprises await them now with the people they care about.
Naruto vs. Sasuke: The Aftermath
Chapter 66: "Keeping Secrets"
Make no mistake; Kakashi dearly loved his son Minato. The child was kind, smart, funny, brave, friendly, and probably a dozen more positive adjectives Kakashi could think of in describing him. The boy had even inherited his father's good looks much to Kakashi's pride. In short, his son was everything he could ever hope for in a child. However, that wasn't to say that Minato didn't at times have certain drawbacks about him.
And one of those drawbacks was dealing with such an energetic child, while attempting to recover from the hangover he currently had. Kakashi rubbed his forehead trying to alleviate his throbbing headache, as he watched his son run around the apartment with his mother chasing after him trying to get the young boy ready for pre-school at the academy. Kurenai finally shot Kakashi a harsh glare, sending the silent message of why aren't you helping me? Exhaling a weary sigh, Kakashi rose from the kitchen table and called out with authority.
"Minato stop running around and let your mother get you dressed for school!"
The young boy immediately stopped and looked to his father, before saying in a miffed tone of voice.
"Awww, I don't want to go to school, I want to stay here and play ninja with you and Unca Nawuto today."
The sad, dejected look on his son's face tugged at Kakashi, who shot a pleading look to Kurenai to let the boy play hooky today. However, the ruby-eyed kunoichi held firm judging by the stern look she bore upon her face and Kakashi knew he was defeated. Minato saw this silent exchange and tried to play his trump card that his Aunt Anko had taught him…...the Puppy-Dog eye's jutsu. Minato unleashed this jutsu with full fury on his mother and pleaded.
"Please mommy, let me skip school, so I can play with Otousan and Unca Nawuto today."
Kakashi saw the sad, droopy, wide-eyed face of his son and the silver-haired Jounin thought there was no way Kurenai would be able to resist this jutsu. However, he was mistaken, as the genjutsu mistress of Konoha knelt down and looked her son directly in the eyes and said in a firm voice.
"Don't try to use that jutsu on me mister, it won't work! You're going to school and that's final! Now go to your room and get dressed right now!"
"Ohhhhhh!" Minato moaned in defeat, before he turned around and trudged down the hallway to his bedroom.
Kakashi was suitably impressed that Kurenai could so effortlessly resist that jutsu and walked up behind her while saying.
"I'm amazed you could so easily defeat that jutsu."
"Idiot!" Kurenai snapped at him, as she turned around with tears in her eyes and hugged Kakashi, while softly crying into his shoulder and stammered.
"Di-did you see that sad adorable look on his face, it broke my heart to say no to him. Damn Anko for teaching him that jutsu."
Kakashi inwardly chuckled, as he held Kurenai and stroked her back to comfort her. A few minutes later, Kurenai had calmed down and Minato emerged from his room fully dressed and ready for school, but still with a glum look plastered on his face. Kakashi knelt down and picked up his son and placed the boy upon his shoulders and said in a jovial tone.
"Don't be sad, school will be over before you know it and then when you get home you'll be able to play with me and your uncle then. Now let's get you to the academy."
"Wait Otousan, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Awnty Hinata and Unca Nawuto."
"Minato-kun, your aunt and uncle were up late last night and are still sleeping. You can see them when you get back from school, ok."
A minute later the Hatake family was out the door and escorting Minato to the Leaf Shinobi Academy.
As Kakashi shut the front door behind him, it had awakened Naruto, who stirred in his sleep slightly, before he finally opened his eyes. Grimacing a bit at the sunlight shining into Hinata's bedroom, he attempted to bring his right hand up to shield him from the rays. However, Naruto discovered his arm was wrapped around Hinata and pinned to the bed. Looking over, he smiled brightly at the sight of Hinata resting her head on his chest sleeping peacefully.
Naruto hated to wake her up, but the pounding headache he had was too much to endure and he desperately needed a couple of aspirin as soon as possible to try and relieve the pain. So when Naruto attempted to extricate his arm from underneath Hinata as carefully as he could, he was unsuccessful and Hinata immediately felt the loss of Naruto's warm and comfortable arm wrapped around her and rubbed her eyes, as Naruto apologized.
"I'm sorry Hina-hime, I didn't mean to wake you. I've just got a really bad headache and was going to try and find some aspirin."
"It's alright Naru-kun; lay back down and I'll get you some aspirin and water." Hinata sweetly replied, as she rolled out of bed and made her way to the adjoining bathroom.
Naruto couldn't help but instantly harden at the sight of Hinata's ass adorned in a very sexy g-string panty, as she walked to the bathroom. He cursed himself for having a headache at that moment, as he wanted nothing more than to ravish his fiancé right then and there. A minute later, Hinata returned and much to Naruto's disappointment had thrown on a silk kimono robe. However, she had left it untied and the robe tantalizingly hid Hinata's breasts, although Naruto got a full view of the ample cleavage his fiancé had. Quickly downing the aspirin and glass of water Hinata had brought to him, Naruto leaned up and placed a loving kiss on Hinata's lips.
Hinata returned the kiss and placed her palm to cup Naruto's face and kissed him back with as much passion as she could, her tongue dancing with his own. A minute later they both broke apart panting, before Naruto commented with a smirk, as his hand trailed down to Hinata's waist.
"I hope we can wake up like this all the time"
"I hope so too." Hinata replied in agreement, while she drew circles on his chest with her fingernail.
"So what do you want to do today?"
"Whatever you want to do is fine with me." Hinata answered.
"Well, I just have a couple of people I need to see, but after that the whole day is yours my beautiful princess." Naruto stated, as he smiled brightly at Hinata, who blushed at the compliment, before she stammered in response.
"O-Okay, then I'm going to shower and get ready."
"Naruto watched Hinata get out of bed and walk towards the bathroom dropping her kimono to the floor as she went revealing once again her g-string clad butt. Naruto was almost mesmerized by Hinata's swaying hips, as it made her ass look simply irresistible. The blonde Jounin finally snapped out of his daze when he heard the sound of the shower being turned on. Naruto cursed to himself as he found he was harder than ever after watching Hinata. Suddenly a wicked thought entered his head and a sly grin appeared on his face, before he jumped out of bed, headache be damned and scurried towards the bathroom.
(Start of Short Mini-Lemon)
Hinata softly hummed to herself, as the hot water of the shower splashed her body. Truth be told, the water didn't need to be that hot considering the heat the Hyuga girl was radiating at that moment. The sight of Naruto's muscular well-defined chest and abs earlier had already worked Hinata up. She groaned slightly at the thought of just leaving the shower and marching back into the bathroom with no other purpose than to ravish her fiance. Shaking her head to drive away such sinful thoughts, Hinata sighed in frustration, as she ran her fingers through her wet hair, before she gasped in surprise, as she felt two powerful arms encircle around her.
"Na-Naru-kun.…wh-what are you doing?" Hinata stammered, before she bit her bottom lip in pleasure, as Naruto began to place kisses around her neck.
"I just thought we could save time and conserve the water by showering together my hime." Naruto answered in a husky voice, before his hands moved up to cup Hinata's breasts eliciting a throaty moan from her.
"But,…but..." Hinata began to say in protest, until she suddenly found herself spun around with Naruto's lips crashing down upon her own silencing her, before he declared.
"Too much talking, more kissing!"
Naruto then kissed her once again and after a few seconds Hinata's arms wrapped around his neck and she pulled her body closer to his deepening the kiss. As they were kissing with the spray of the shower still pelting the two lovers, Hinata felt something hard jabbing her stomach. Reluctantly breaking the kiss, the Hyuga girl looked down and her breath caught in her throat when she saw it was Naruto's very large and pronounced...arousal that was poking her. Unconsciously licking her lips, it never ceased to amaze Hinata that no matter how many times she saw Naruto's impressive...attribute. It never failed to instantly ignite a fire within her. However, Hinata was snapped out of her thoughts when she felt Naruto's fingers graze her pussy.
"Na-Naru-kun!" Hinata moaned into Naruto's chest, as her head fell forward and she reveled in the pleasure, when she suddenly felt him slip a finger inside of her and slowly pump it in and out. Hinata's cries were muffled by Naruto's chest, but he figured he was doing something right, as the volume of her moans was steadily increasing. After a few minutes, Naruto reached up and grabbed a full mane of Hinata's long hair and pulled her face off of his chest, as he added another finger into her and began moving his hand faster. Naruto growled with exhilaration of the look on Hinata's face at this action, as her eyes seem to glaze over, before they rolled to the back of her head and her mouth opened, as if emitting a silent scream.
When Hinata felt Naruto add another finger to the wonderful ministrations he was doing to her, she nearly lost all control. She tightened her grip on Naruto shoulders from the feeling of another finger and the increased speed of Naruto's hand pumping in and out of her was driving the Hyuga girl to the edge, as she felt her orgasm swiftly approaching. Suddenly, as if struck by a lightning bolt, Hinata threw her head back and screamed in delight, while her pussy clamped down on Naruto's fingers trapping them and he could only watch with satisfaction she rode out her orgasm, twisting and gyrating her hips on his hand as she came.
However, before Hinata could even start to recover from the euphoric sexual haze Naruto had driven her to. She suddenly found herself turned around and pushed forward until her cheek was resting on the tiled wall of the shower in front of her. Hinata then felt Naruto start to bend her over, while stroking, cupping, and squeezing both of her ass cheeks. Naruto looked down on what he considered the most beautiful, pristine, and hottest ass in all the world and felt himself harden even more. He began to tease Hinata a bit, as he thrust his dick through her ass cheeks enjoying the feeling of them surrounding his cock before pressing the tip of it at the entrance to her pussy.
For her part, Hinata was not amused by her fiancé's teasing and was ready to be taken from behind by him. Pressing her hands against the tile wall in front of her for support, she suddenly pushed her ass out and impaled herself onto the object of her desire in one smooth stroke. A guttural moan erupted from Naruto, when Hinata did this and he pressed forward himself, until he was fully sheathed within her. Taking a moment to relish in this pleasurable feeling, Naruto slowly drew back causing Hinata to mewl in disappointment, before he slammed back into her and she screamed in ecstasy. Naruto then built up a piston-like rhythm and began pounding in and out of Hinata with ever-increasing speed, as Hinata shrieked with delight with every hard fast thrust she received.
(End of Short Mini-Lemon)
A little over an hour later, both Hinata and Naruto strolled from the bathroom and collapsed onto the bed in exhausted contentment. As they both stared at the ceiling above them trying to regain their strength. It was Hinata who openly remarked in amusement.
"I don't think we're saving time or conserving very much water, if it's going to take us that long to shower."
Naruto turned to his side and growled lustfully into Hinata's ear, before he started to nibble on her ear lobe.
"Well, we had to take that long a shower my hime, as we kept getting dirty."
As much as Hinata loved the feeling of Naruto's lips upon her, she was able to muster up enough strength and roll away from him and asked.
"Well whose fault is that?"
"It's your fault!"
"How is it my fault?" Hinata replied defensively.
"It's your fault because if you weren't so damn hot and sexy, we wouldn't be in this mess!" Naruto playfully answered, before he quickly rolled over and snatched Hinata up in his arms once again.
Naruto started placing sweet kisses on Hinata's throat once again, while his hand crept slowly and sensuously up the side of her body towards her breast. As much as Hinata was enjoying this, she quickly realized if she didn't put a stop to it, they would never get out of the bedroom that day. Snatching his hand to stop it, before it reached its objective, Hinata stated serious tone.
"Naru-kun stop! We can't spend the whole day in this room making love!"
"Why not? I'd like to spend the rest of life in this room making love to you."
"Well for one, if that's all we did we'd starve to death."
"Ichiraku's has takeout delivery." Naruto countered, as made another grab at Hinata who slipped away from his grasp and asked.
"So you want to spend the rest of your life making love and eating Ichiraku ramen until you die?"
"I can think of worse ways to go."
"Well I don't want to go out like that...death by sex!"
"Aww why not? At least when they found us we'd have smiles on our faces." Naruto stated with a grin that caused Hinata to giggle, before she picked up a pillow and playfully threw it him and said.
"Get dressed; you said you had some people to see today."
"Oh alright, but I still say death by sex is a pretty good plan." Naruto replied in a dejected tone of voice.
Hinata could only shake her head and giggle once again in response, upon hearing the downcast tone of Naruto's voice, before the two of them began to get dressed and meet the day.
"So who do you need to see today?" Hinata questioned, as she and her husband to be stepped out of the apartment building.
"First I'd like to stop by the Akimichi compound and apologize to a couple of its clan members and then I'd like to pay my respects to Chouji."
"Paying your respects is proper, but why do you have to apologize to two Akimichi clan members?"
"Well, I kind of assaulted and knocked them out earlier this morning, when I went to see Chouji's grave."
"It sounds like you had an eventful evening last night."
"Not really, that was pretty much the highlight. Anyway, after that I want to stop by Tenten's, as I need to talk to her dad about making some items for me."
"That will be nice, it will give me a chance to see Tenten and Neji-niisan along with little Hizashi. I heard he started walking just a few days ago."
"I'd like to see the kid as well." Naruto stated with a smile, as he and Hinta headed off in the direction of the Akimichi clan compound.
As the young couple were heading down the main street of Konoha, Hinata and Naruto spied Temari with Shikamaru and called out to them while waving. A minute later, both couples were standing together, as Temari asked in curiosity.
"So where is Konoha's most famous celebrity couple off to this morning?"
"I, I don't know about being a celebrity or famous." Hinata stammered in embarrassment.
"Oh quit being so modest Hinata, you two are the talk of the village. I mean the Hyuga princess engaged to the Yondaime's only son.
"I'm not the Hyuga princess anymore Temari, I was cast out of my clan remember."
Naruto's face hardened and took on a grim look, as a twinge of shame washed over him. He still felt guilty that Hinata was forced out of her clan all because of her relationship with him. And even though Hinata had assured him numerous times that she actually looked upon her banishment as a blessing, because it gave her more freedom than she had as an active clan member and it allowed her to be him. However, even knowing that, Naruto still was angry and felt responsible that she had to give up her family all for him. Naruto was broken out of his thoughts when he heard Temari apologize.
"I'm sorry Hinata, I didn't mean to upset you. You may not realize it, but just because your clan doesn't recognize you anymore as its true heir. The majority of the villagers including myself will always consider you the princess of the Hyuga clan."
"Thank you for that and I'm fine, you didn't upset me." Hinata replied with a smile, before she asked.
"Speaking of engagements, your marriage date is coming up isn't it?"
"Yup, in 10 days I'll be exchanging vows with this lazy slacker, which reminds me, I would love it if you could be one of my bridesmaids?"
Hinata was taken aback by this request and stammered.
"Are, are you sure? I mean you must have girlfriends back in Suna who could stand at the altar beside you."
"Actually, I have more friends in the Leaf village like you, than I do back in Suna." Temari softly replied with sad regret.
"But, but why would that be?"
"When you're the daughter of the Kazekage and the sister of the boy the village lived in fear of, there weren't a lot of people guys or girls that wanted anything to do with me growing up."
Hinata heard the pain-filled and saddened tone of Temari's voice and it reminded her of her own oppressive and friendless upbringing in her clan, before she enveloped the Suna girl in a comforting hug, as she said.
"You and I have a lot in common growing up, so I understand how you feel. I would be happy and honored to be one of your bridesmaid's."
"Thank you Hinata."
Meanwhile, both Naruto and Shikamaru had been watching this tender exchange between their fiancés and they each felt like a fish out of water. It was Shikamaru who finally broke the awkward silence between them and asked.
"So where are you and Hinata headed?"
"Oh were going over to the Akimichi compound to pay our respects to Chouji."
"That's a fortunate coincidence; Shika-kun and I we're also going there to make final arrangements for the catering at our reception. We can join you visiting with Chouji." Temari announced gleefully.
"That would be lovely." Hinata happily remarked.
"Speaking of Chouji, Naruto I'm sorry about what I said to you last night. I swear when I said it I wasn't blaming you for Chouji's death."
"It's ok, you don't have to apologize. I was already blaming myself when you said it, so I just mistook what you said because of what I was feeling."
"Thanks." Shikamru stated with sincerity, before he added.
"By the way, I know it's troublesome, but could you reprise your role as my best man at the wedding?"
"Yeah sure, that's not a problem, I'd be happy to do it again."
"Thanks, I know this wedding is a big drag, but I appreciate it." Shikamaru apologetically declared, before he received a sharp slap to the back of his head from his angry fiancé who shouted.
"Would you stop referring to our wedding as a drag!"
"Fine, fine you troublesome woman!" Shikamaru fired back in response, while rubbing the back of his head.
Both Naruto and Hinata chuckled at the bickering couple, before all four of them resumed their now mutual trek to the Akimichi compound.
Upon arriving at the Akimichi compound, Naruto, Hinata, Shikamaru and Temari were greeted warmly by both Chouza and his wife Mana who quickly ushered the four shinobi inside. As Shikamaru and Temari discussed with Mana the types of food they wanted for the reception after the wedding. Naruto and Hinata headed off to the living room with Chouza. Upon arriving Naruto explained that he thought he should apologize to the two Akimichi guards he had knocked out the night before.
After hearing this Chouza let out a boisterous laugh and said it wasn't necessary. In fact, upon learning who had knocked them out, the two guards had spent the day bragging about meeting the son of the Yondaime and were not the least bit insulted or embarrassed about being knocked out so easily considering who their opponent had been. So if no apology was necessary, Naruto and Hinata excused themselves to go out to the Akimichi clan shrine and visit Chouji grave. As the couple walked leisurely through the shrine, a furious scream rang out.
"You damnable weed! How dare you try to take root on Chouji-kun's grave!"
Both Naruto and Hinata looked up the path to see Ino kneeling by Chouji's shrine and ripping a weed away from the beautiful flowers that adorned the grave. As they moved closer, they saw Ino suddenly pull a kunai out and begin to viciously stab the weed multiple times, while maniacally repeating.
"Die, die, die, die, die, die…..!"
Naruto gulped nervously at this sight and paused a moment, before a gentle tug from Hinata got him moving forward again. He figured if Hinata wasn't concerned or scared, then he would trust that her judgment was sound. However, watching Ino continue to stab away at the weed was still a bit unsettling, as they stopped at the foot of Chouji's shrine and Hinata called out.
"Hi Ino, how are you doing?"
The Yamanaka girl looked up and ceased her botanical butchering and smiled, before she happily replied.
"Oh hey Hinata, hey Naruto, I'm doing fine, how are you two?"
"I'm doing well." Hinata cheerfully answered.
"I'm ok Ino, better than that weed at your feet, that's for sure." Naruto hesitantly commented, earning a nudge of disapproval from Hinata.
"Yeah, well that vile weed had the audacity to try and pollute Chouji-kun's beautiful grave with its nasty appearance. Ino spat angrily, before she brought her heel down to grind the plant into the ground.
"Chouji-kun?" Naruto whispered to Hinata in confusion.
"I'll explain later." Hinata quietly whispered back.
"It is a beautiful grave; did you plant all of those flowers yourself?" Naruto questioned in curiosity to Ino.
"Yeah I did, Chouji-kun deserves to have the most picturesque and wonderful looking shrine in the world. So I come by once a week to make sure that it stays that way." Ino stated with love, before her mind drifted off thinking of her old teammate, as a tear rolled down her cheek.
"Ino are you ok?" Hinata asked with concern.
Hinata's voice broke Ino's thoughts and she hastily wiped away the tears welling in eyes and said.
"I'm fine Hinata; I just got some dirt in my eyes. I should get going and let the two of you visit and pay your respects to Chouji-kun in private."
Ino quickly turned around and dashed away from her friends, before they could stop her. Naruto was about to call out to the fleeing girl, when Hinata stopped him and said.
"Let her be, she just needs some time alone."
"I don't understand, why is she so sad?"
"Sit down and I'll tell you about what happened between Ino and Chouji during the Oto invasion." Hinata stated sadly, as she motioned Naruto to sit with her on the very same stone bench he had shared with Chouza hours earlier.
A short time later, after Hinata had finished the sorrowful tale of Ino and Chouji, Naruto grit his teeth in anger and his face took on a grim, but also determined look to it. A singular thought was running through Naruto's head at that moment. To make Sasuke pay for what he has done. Exhaling a sigh, Naruto commented angrily through his clenched teeth.
"Damn that teme for all of the people he has hurt!"
Hinata understood Naruto's anger and pain, as she wrapped her arm around him and rested her head on his shoulder to comfort him.
"So Ino was really in love with Chouji?" Naruto openly asked.
"Hai, she loved him, Ino just didn't realize it until he kissed her." Shikamaru answered, startling Hinata and Naruto.
The Nara heir and Temari had come upon Hinata telling Naruto about what had happened between his two teammates and stayed back until she had finished.
"And I know Chouji loved her, he always did. That's why I want to curse Kami sometimes for having them finally reveal their love for one another, only for it to be taken away forever a few hours later."
Naruto listened intently to Shikamaru and could hear the pain in his voice not just for Chouji, but for Ino as well. He didn't know what to say and truth be told there was nothing to say that would comfort his friend. All Naruto could do was vow in a deadly and serious tone of voice.
"I promise you Shikamaru, I will make Sasuke-teme pay for what he did to them. Because the next time I see him, I swear to Kami it will be the last time he will see anyone…..ever!"
Shikamaru smiled a bit upon hearing this, before he decided to change the subject and asked.
"So where are you two off to now?"
"We're going to head over to visit Tenten, Neji, and little Hizashi. There's also something I need to discuss with Hanshiro-san as well." Naruto replied.
"Perfect, I need to see and ask Tenten about being one of my bridesmaids. Why don't we all go together?" Temari piped up happily.
A few minutes later, after the quartet had paid their respects to Chouji, they were on their way to the Sato household.
Meanwhile, as Chouji's friends were paying their respects to him, Kakashi and Kurenai had been walking around the village for a couple of hours after dropping Minato off at the pre-school academy. Kakashi had been taking in the sights and the sounds of the Leaf village and was enjoying the company of his fiancé, but he knew they needed to have a serious talk about what he had learned the previous day. Taking a detour into a nearby park, the two Jounin walked down a trail until it led to a park bench overlooking a small lake. Taking a seat, Kakashi exhaled a sigh, which did not go unnoticed by Kurenai who asked.
"Well you brought me here for a reason Kashi-kun, what is it?"
"We need to talk Kure-chan about what happened to you during the Oto invasion."
Kurenai suspected as much, before she too exhaled a sigh and gathering up her courage asked.
"What do you wish to talk about?"
"First off, why didn't you tell me about your complications giving birth to Minato-kun?"
"What is there to tell? It happened and I dealt with it, besides it's all in the past, so why dwell on it now?"
"You almost died."
"But I didn't and if you're thinking that if you had been here would have changed anything, it wouldn't have. You're not Kami you know."
"I suppose, but knowing how close I came to losing you has me feeling…... troubled."
"Well, you didn't lose me thanks to Anko, so if you're going to dwell on something, dwell on that."
"Oh believe me I have been. By the way, couldn't you have had someone else save you? Did it really have to Anko? It's quite annoying knowing it was her given she and I haven't had the most congenial of relationships in the past." Kakashi quipped in cynical amusement.
"Blame Kami for that, I was just as upset when I learned what she had done to save me. But she is my best friend, so you could make an effort to improve your relationship with her."
"Point taken, I suppose it's the least I could do considering she saved you."
"Thank you Kashi-kun."
"Ok, I'll let you slide for not telling me about what happened during Minato-kun's birth, but I'm not going to let you slide about keeping what Kabuto did a secret from me. I want to hear the whole truth right now."
"Alright, I'll tell you about it, but there isn't really much to tell."
Two weeks after the birth of her son, Kurenai was finally deemed healthy enough to be released from the hospital. She with Minato cradled in her arms, along with Hinata, Anko, Ino. Shino, and Kiba with Akamaru were returning to her apartment. The mood of the group was happy, as they spoke and laughed along the way to Kurenai and Hinata's home. However, the group's mood quickly changed when they rounded the corner and saw their building landlord giving instructions to a small group of workers. Walking up to the man, he was startled when Kurenai called out his name.
"Junichi-san, what is going on?"
"Ahh Kurenai-san, I did not know you were coming home today. I had hoped to repair your apartment before you did, but with all of the repairs going on around the village, workers have been difficult to come by. Today was the first day I could get a small work crew here."
"My apartment, what happened?"
"It, it was damaged by some Oto shinobi during the invasion." Junichi stammered nervously.
"Let me take a look."
"No, no, there's no need for that, if you come back in a week all of the repairs should be finished." The landlord hastily declared.
"You're hiding something Junichi-san."
"I….errr…..emm…." Junichi began to sputter, before he dropped his head in shame and sheepishly said.
"I'm sorry Kurenai-san, I had hoped to keep what happened to your home a secret and spare you the truth until I had made the repairs. I admit I did this for selfish reasons, as having two such reputable shinobi staying in my building made the other tenants feel safe and increased the value of my property. So I was fearful if you saw what had happened before I could make the repairs, you might move away. I apologize to you for this and hope you can forgive me."
Kurenai and the others walked past the landlord and went up the stairs to Kurenai's apartment. The first sight they all saw was the front door had been kicked in. However, upon entering the apartment, everyone gasped at the destruction that lay before them. All of the furniture had been smashed, as well as all the cabinetry in the kitchen. Taking a moment to survey all of the damage that had been done, everyone then walked slowly down the hallway, until they came upon Hinata and Kurenai's bedrooms. Hinata opened her door first and it too had been destroyed just like the rest of the apartment. However, what brought a tear to Hinata's eyes was seeing the plushie fox-doll that Naruto had won for her at a village fair that she dearly loved torn asunder. Wiping a tear from her eyes, Hinata openly asked in pained sadness.
"Who would do such a thing?"
Kurenai could only shake her head, as she like everyone else wondered the same thing, before she opened her bedroom door and her breath hitched in her throat. Just like Hinata's bedroom, it too had been trashed. However, the destruction the Jounin kunoichi saw was not what made her feel apprehensive. It was what was written on the wall above her bed in what appeared to be…...blood.
A pity to have missed you Kurenai-chan,
but not to worry, you and I will be reunited very soon!
Kurenai could only stare at the ominous message and held little Minato a bit closer, before the sound of Hinata's voice broke her out of her transfixed state.
"Kabuto is the one who did all of this!"
"It appears so Hinata." Kurenai calmly answered.
"That four-eyed bastard, I'll kill him the next time I see him!" Kiba growled out in angry threat.
"Don't be foolish! Yakushi Kabuto is Orochimaru's protégé and is strong enough to fight on an equal basis with Kakashi and live. If you ever see him, you find as much back-up as you can, before you attempt to take him on! Do you understand?" Kurenai angrily snapped, admonishing her Inuzuka pupil.
Kiba dropped his head a bit, before he replied in a wounded tone of voice.
"I understand Kurenai-sensei."
Kurenai hearing the hurt in Kiba's reply realized the anger she had been feeling at that moment, she had inadvertently taken out on Kiba. Exhaling a sigh to calm herself down, she spoke up once more, this time in an more subdued and apologetic voice.
"I'm sorry Kiba, not for what I said, but in harsh manner of how I said it to you. I want you to remember what I told you here today, as I don't want to have to bury one of my students, because he felt the need to avenge his teacher over something like this."
Kiba nodded his head in acceptance and a pall of silence filled the room. Finally Hinata asked with a little concern.
"Where are we going to stay Kurenai-sensei?"
"You can stay with me Hinata; it will be great having you around the Yamanaka compound." Ino joyfully stated, as she threw her arm around Hinata's shoulder.
"And you and the kid can stay with me and Iruka-kun." Anko merrily declared to her best friend.
"I don't want impose."
"Oh quit being so prim and proper, besides we've got everything you will need for Minato-kun already set-up for Anika and Aniko."
"Thank you Anko."
(End of Flashback)
"And that's all there is to tell. Hinata and I salvaged what we could and as soon as the apartment was repaired we moved back in, end of story."
Kakashi sat silently for a minute, as he gathered his thoughts, before he spoke once more and asked.
"I understand the details now of what happened, but you still haven't explained why you felt the need to keep what Kabuto had done a secret from me?"
"Because I was scared alright…...Because I was scared!" Kurenai with a bit of fright and anger snapped at Kakashi.
"The silver-haired Jounin was startled upon hearing this and of the fearful tone to which it was expressed, as he looked over to Kurenai who had tears welling in her eyes. Moving forward he enveloped the ruby-eyed woman in a loving and comforting hug. Rubbing her back to soothe the woman in his arms, he asked in a soft yet also concerned tone of voice.
"What are you scared of Kure-chan?"
After a few moments, Kurenai answered in a choked voice.
"Th-the reason I didn't tell you about Kabuto is because I'm scared of losing you."
Kakashi released his embrace to look Kurenai directly in the face and asked in confusion."
"Why would telling me about Kabuto lead you to be scared about losing me?"
"Oh I don't know, how about the fact that the last time you faced him…...over protecting me I might add, you nearly got killed!" Kurenai answered with frustrated and bitter sarcasm.
Kakashi cringed at hearing this and now understood where Kurenai's anxiety and fear was coming from. For his part, Kakashi had simply forgotten about what had happened. That's how he was trained as a shinobi, to never dwell on past battles, whether you were victorious or not. Because they meant nothing to the outcome of any future battles you might have to face. The silver-haired Jounin had always assumed that all shinobi had been trained to think like that, but in seeing Kurenai now, obviously he had been mistaken, as he pulled back from her and said.
"Kure-chan look at me, you shouldn't be afraid about losing me, I promise I'm not going anywhere."
"You can't make that promise Kashi-kun, no shinobi can. Gekko Hayate made that same promise to Yugao and as you know, he's one of the many names that got added to the memorial stone after the first Oto invasion."
Kakashi exhaled a defeated sigh, as he realized Kurenai was right, he couldn't make that promise to her. Using his thumb to wipe a tear off of her cheek he said.
"You're right, I can't make that promise to you, but I love you and Minato-kun and when someone as dangerous as Kabuto has threatened you, I need to know about it. You can't keep it a secret because you want to protect me, it's not your job to protect me, but it is my job to protect my family."
"No, there are no buts about it, that's the way it is and I don't want to hear any arguments."
Kurenai was none too pleased to hear this, but she could tell by Kakashi's tone he was not going to budge off of his position. Heaving a defeated sigh, Kurenai looked up and said with as much determination as she could offer.
"Fine, but promise me that you won't be some sort of macho-man and go seeking out Kabuto because of this."
"I promise I won't go seeking Kabuto out, but understand if I do run into him, I'm also not going to run away either."
"I know and that's what I'm afraid of." Kurenai softly replied.
"Have a little faith in me, need I remind you that I've faced off against Kabuto twice and both times he left running away."
"But he's gotten stronger and has been training under a Sannin since you've been gone."
"You forget, so I have I, and if Kabuto couldn't take me down before, I highly doubt that he will be able to now.
"Don't get overconfident; you know that's the downfall of any shinobi."
"Point taken." Kakashi replied, as he held up Kurenai's hand and kissed it, before he said.
"From now on, no more secrets...ok."
Konohamaru, Moegi, Udon, and Hanabi were tired, but also extremely happy to be back in the Leaf village, as they passed through the main gate. Two months of protecting a small fishing village in the Tea country south of the Fire country had been an exciting mission, but it took much longer than they had anticipated it would. The village had hired them to protect it from a pack of bandits that had been raiding them for over a year. Unfortunately, no one knew when the bandits might strike next, so the majority of the mission they had spent fortifying and improving the village's defenses, while waiting for the thieves to show themselves.
After seven weeks of waiting, the outlaws finally arrived and attacked the village. However, they were not expecting an elite Jounin and four Genin prodigies to be waiting for them. Ebisu along with Konohamaru, Moegi, Udon, and Hanabi made quick work of dispatching the motley group of twenty thieves. And those that hadn't been killed were in no shape to resume their activities of robbery ever again. All in all, the group was pleased to have completed their first 'A' ranked mission, but they were all looking forward to being home. Their sensei Ebisu went to Hokage Tower to report the successful completion of their mission to the Hokage, while the rest of them were heading to grab a bite to eat, before they returned to their respective homes. As they were walking, Udon spied his specialized sensei Shikamaru along with his wife and Hanabi's sister with someone he didn't recognize and remarked.
"Hey Hanabi, isn't that you're sister over there with Shikamaru-sensei?"
The Hyuga girl looked over to indeed see Hinata and was about to call out to her when she saw a strange blonde man suddenly put his arm around her oneesan. The visage upon Hanabi's face instantly went from happy to incensed, as some stranger was making a move upon her older sister. Hanabi growled in outrage and activated her Byakugan, as she rushed forward, before Konohamaru, Moegi, or Udon could stop her. She knew Hinata was waiting for her true love Naruto to return and Hanabi wasn't about to let some sleazy lothario mess with her older sister.
Naruto, Hinata, Shikamaru, and Temari were walking carefree through the Leaf village, as they made their way to the Sato household. All four of them were enjoying each others company and their mood was both cheerful and relaxed. Naruto wrapped his arm around Hinata and pulled her close to him, enjoying how good it felt to be with her. Suddenly what sounded like a battle-cry erupted from behind them and they turned around only for Naruto to receive a flying-kick to his chest knocking him away from Hinata.
"Get away from sister you pervert!" Hanabi shouted with rage.
"Hanabi, what are you doing?" Hinata exclaimed in shock, as she grabbed her sister to keep the young girl at bay.
"I'm just protecting you oneesan from this perverted gigolo! I know you're waiting for Naruto-kun to return to you!"
Hinata slapped her hand to her forehead in exasperation, before she said.
"I appreciate your concern, but one I don't need you to protect me, as I'm perfectly capable of protecting myself. And two that perverted gigolo is Naruto-kun!"
"What, that guy is the boss!" Konohamaru shouted in astonishment, as he, Moegi, and Udon arrived on the scene.
"Damn it, why do all of the kunoichi's in this village keep hitting me?" Naruto angrily shouted in frustration, before he rose from the ground and began dusting himself off.
"That's that's Naruto-kun!" Hanabi stammered, as she got her first good look at the man she had just attacked.
Naruto sported a dark blue short-sleeve jumpsuit that was unzipped to below his chest showing off an orange colored t-shirt. The t-shirt seemed to be plastered onto Naruto's chest and Hanabi could see every well-defined muscle stretching the material like a second skin on him. The Hyuga girl then noticed the two hitai-ate tied around each large bicep Naruto sported. Looking up, Hanabi's breath hitched in her throat as she gazed at Naruto's chiseled, handsome face, with his golden blonde hair flowing behind him like a magnificent mane of a lion. The young Hyuga girl began to blush furiously, as she continued to silently gawk at Naruto, before someone shouted.
The Hyuga girl was snapped out of her trance and she suddenly realized the someone who had shouted her name was none other than her boyfriend Konohamaru, who was eying the girl suspiciously. Dropping her head in embarrassment, she quickly shuffled back to stand next to him, before she bowed contritely to Naruto and apologized.
"Gomennasai Namikaze-san, please forgive me for attacking you."
"Hina-chan, is that really your little sister?" Naruto asked his fiancé.
"Hai Naru-kun, that's Hanabi-chan."
"Wow, she grew up so much and so pretty to boot!"
Hanabi began to blush even further upon hearing Naruto's compliment, which did not go unnoticed by Konohamaru, who voiced his displeasure, as he wrapped an arm around his girlfriend.
"Hey boss, don't be hitting on my girl, you already got one!"
"Konohamaru is that you?" Naruto exclaimed in surprise.
"Yeah boss it's me, I'm glad you're back, but just stay away from my girl."
"Kono-kun, quit being stupid, you're embarrassing me!" Hanabi chided to her boyfriend, while delivering a sharp elbow to his ribs.
"Wow Konohamaru, you grew up a lot too. Ha, ha, ha, and you went out and got yourself a Hyuga for a girlfriend. I can't blame you for that; they grow up to be so beautiful." Naruto stated with loving sincerity, as he shot a glance to Hinata who began to blush.
"Why can't you say sweet things like that to me?" Temari whispered to her husband.
"Because you're not a Hyuga girl." Shikamaru sarcastically answered, earning a hard slap to the back of his head from her.
"And as for supposedly hitting on your girlfriend and remembering if I had a girl of my own Konohamaru, I would never do that to, nor could I ever forget about my Hina-hime even if I tried. In fact, I've decided to keep her, show them the ring Hinata." Naruto stated in no uncertain terms.
Hinata held her hand out to Hanabi and Konohamaru showing her engagement ring and their eyes nearly bulged out of their head.
"Your-you're getting married?" Hanabi asked in shock.
"Hai, I am." Hinata replied with a huge smile on her face.
"I'm so happy for you!" Hanabi exclaimed, as she hugged her older sister tightly.
"Yeah boss, congratulations."
"Thanks!" Naruto replied happily, before he heard Hinata ask.
"Naru-kun, we should include Hanabi-chan and Konohamaru in the wedding somehow."
Naruto stroked his chin a moment in deep thought, before an idea popped into his head and he said.
"Why don't we have the two of them be the ring bearers?"
"That's a wonderful idea!" Hinata exclaimed in agreement.
"That is a wonderful idea Hinata." Temari also declared, before she turned to Moegi and Udon and asked.
"Would the two of you be willing to do that for Shika-kun and myself at our wedding next week?"
"I don't understand Shikamaru-sensei; I thought you and Temari-san were already married?"
"It's a troublesome and long story Udon, but you're right we are already married. It's just that certain individuals have conspired against me and now we're having another ceremony next week." Shikamaru lazily replied, before he received a severe glare from Temari.
"Udon-kun and I would love to be your ring bearers Temari-san." Moegi cheerfully accepted for the both of them.
"So are all of you getting back from a mission?" Naruto asked the four young Chunin.
"Yeah, we had to take care of some bandits in a small fishing village in the Tea country. It was our first 'A' ranked mission and we kicked ass boss!" Konohamaru boasted with pride.
"Protecting a fishing village, sounds just like my first 'A' ranked mission in the Land of Waves." Naruto remarked at the similarity.
"Congratulations Hanabi-chan, I'm sure father will be very proud to hear that you were successful on such a high ranking mission."
"I don't know about that, I don't see father that much anymore. He's always busy with the clan elders or the Konoha Council and when he does have any free time, he spends it with that Haruno bitch he's been sleeping with the past few years."
"Hanabi!" Hinata shouted in disapproval.
"Well it's true!"
"Even if it is, that's no reason for you to voice it publically."
Hanabi merely shrugged her shoulders dismissively at her older sister, before Konohamaru offered in invitation.
"Hey boss, we were going over to Ichiraku's to grab a bite to eat, why don't the four you join us?"
"Thanks for the invite, but we'll have to take a rain-check. We've got some business we need to take care of right now."
"That's too bad, ok boss we'll see you around. Oh, I want to learn some cool new jutsu's from you now that you're back."
"I promise, I'll teach you guy's some cool new jutsu's soon."
As the four Genin walked away, Naruto shook his head in disbelief and openly remarked.
"Man I can't believe how much those guys have grown. They must have improved a lot if baa-chan is confident enough to start assigning them 'A' ranked missions."
"They're a troublesome bunch, but those four are also the cream of the crop of the Shinobi Academy for their class. Tsunade even assigned specialized sensei's to individually train them last year to increase their skills at a faster rate." Shikamaru lazily commented.
"Really, who did she get to train them?"
"You're looking at two of the sensei's right here. I've been training Udon, Hinata her sister, Rock Lee has been training Konohamaru, and finally Moegi has been training under Sakura."
"Impressive, and they've all gotten that good?"
"Yeah, once they've gained a little bit of field experience, all of them will be top-notch shinobi."
Naruto nodded his head in approval to Shikamaru, before he took Hinata's hand into his own and they all resumed their journey to the Sato household.
When the four shinobi arrived at the Sato household, they were met by Hanshiro who cordially invited them in and indicated that Tenten and Hizashi were at the foundry in the back keeping Neji company, while he worked at the forge. As the quartet made their way towards the Sato foundry, Naruto noticed that there were four Anbu guarding the compound, one stationed at each corner. This puzzled Naruto and he asked in curiosity.
"How come there are Anbu guards here?"
"It's because of the Hyuga clan." Shikamaru casually answered.
"Huh, what about the Hyuga clan?"
"Well since you've been gone, the Hyuga clan has gotten…. troublesome and been causing problems for a lot of people, especially for Neji and his family and Hinata as well."
"Shikamaru!" Hinata exclaimed, as she shot a glare at the Nara heir.
"Sorry Hinata, I didn't know it was a secret, but honestly Naruto deserves to know."
"Know about what Hina-hime?"
Hinata didn't know how to start explaining the situation to Naruto, so the blonde Jounin turned back to Shikamaru and asked.
"You tell me what kind of problems the Hyuga clan has been causing my hime!"
"I really don't want to get in the middle of something between you and Hinata."
"You already shot you mouth off about it, so you might as well tell me everything." Naruto countered the irritation clearly evident in his voice.
"What a drag, fine I'll tell you. A couple of years ago Hinata's dad and his goon squad made a run at Hinata. They wanted to slap the Caged-bird seal on her, but were stopped."
"How were they stopped?"
"Well, my clan along with the Yamanaka, Akimichi, Inuzuka, and Aburame clans placed Hinata, Kurenai and her son under a clan decree of protection."
"What's that exactly?"
"Basically, it states all five clans have sworn that should any transgression or injury to any of them ensue due to the actions of someone from the Hyuga clan. They will consider it an act of aggression against the clans and grounds to go to war against the Hyuga clan."
"And that was enough to stop Hiashi."
"Yeah, Hiashi may be an asshole, no offense Hinata, but he's not a fool. The Hyuga clan might be the largest and strongest of all the founding clans and could take on and fight one or possibly two of the other clans at once. Hiashi knows the Hyuga clan stands no hope of ever winning a clan civil war against five of the other clans at the same time."
Naruto took a moment to process all of this, before he turned to Hinata and stated.
"You should have told me about this."
"Perhaps, but I didn't want to." Hinata defiantly answered.
"Why would you keep this a secret?" Naruto snapped, with a bit of disapproval ringing in his voice.
"Because I didn't want you to storm the Hyuga compound looking for revenge because of something that happened over two years ago!" Hinata fired back in angered response.
"You really think I would have done that?"
"I, I don't know, but I didn't want to take the chance."
"To be fair Naruto, considering your past reactions when you've gotten super-pissed about something that happened to Hinata. It's not so unreasonable that she would come to that conclusion."
"What past reactions!" Naruto barked at Shikamaru.
"Troublesome, ok how about the time you came back from the Wave country and found out Hinata had been seriously hurt because of Sasuke. I seem to recall your response to that was to go all Kyuubi and attempt to leave the village to find the teme. If you recall, you were of such a calm mind, you proceeded to kick the shit out of your friends who were trying to stop you from going to Otogakure."
Naruto growled in annoyance, as he realized Shikamaru had trumped him, before he said.
"You have a faulty memory; I lost that fight to all of you remember."
"What a drag, quit with the bullshit! We all know the only reason we won is because you held back against us. If you hadn't, then you would have taken us down as quickly as you did Master-Jiraiya in that fight."
Naruto growled once more in annoyance and desperately tried to come up with a counter argument to everything Shikamaru had said, but frustratingly he couldn't and heaving a sigh admitted defeat.
"Ok you got me, but I'm not the same dumb hot-head I was back then. So my first thought isn't to go and attack the Hyuga clan like it might have been in the past."
"Troublesome, nobody said you were dumb Naruto, but you were a hot-head and Hinata as well as all of us didn't know how much you had grown up while you were gone. All I'm saying is don't be mad at Hinata for wanting to protect you by keeping what happened a secret."
Naruto took Shikamaru's words to heart, before he turned back to Hinata and apologized.
"I'm sorry Hina-hime, I didn't mean to snap at you. I know you were just trying to protect me, but when someone threatens you, I need to know about it. You can't keep it a secret because you want to protect me, it's not your job to protect me, but it is my job to protect you."
"No, there are no buts about it, that's the way it is and I don't want to hear any arguments.…...believe it!"
Hinata wasn't happy about the intractable stance Naruto was taking, but she could tell by his stern tone he was not going to budge off of his position. Heaving a frustrated sigh, Hinata looked up and said with as much resolve as she could muster.
"Alright Naru-kun, but promise me that you won't be seeking out my father because of this."
"I promise you, I won't go seeking him out, but understand if I do run into your dad, I'm not going to run away from him either."
"I know and that's what I'm afraid of." Hinata quietly declared.
"Trust me, unless your dad tries to hurt you, I won't lay a hand on him."
Hinata nodded her head in understanding to Naruto, before Shikamaru spoke up once more.
"Anyway, because of what happened to Hinata, Hanshiro didn't want risk the Hyuga clan going after his grandson. You know if they aren't happy that Hinata is walking around without a Caged-bird seal on her. Then they're probably even more pissed that Neji's kid doesn't have one either. They're already hacked off at him because he married and had a kid from someone who wasn't from the Hyuga clan. So Hanshiro has assigned those Anbu you saw to protect them."
"Will they be enough to stop Hiashi if he really wants to get at Neji and his family?"
"Truthfully, no they wouldn't, but my clan along with the other clans protecting Hinata also placed Hanshiro and the rest of his family under a clan decree of protection after Tenten returned from Suna with little Hizashi in her arms."
"Well that was nice of you, but why did your clans do that?"
"It's troublesome, but Kiba, Shino, and myself owed a debt to Neji for taking the hit and going to prison for that bar fight we all got into. You know about that don't you?"
"Yeah, Kiba told me about it, when I got back."
"Well, even though Neji volunteered to go to prison, we still felt it wasn't right that he was the only one to suffer. So when we learned that Neji was now a dad, we were able to convince our parents to extend a protection decree over all of them as well and to be sure to let Hiashi know about it"
"Was it difficult to convince your parents?"
"Actually it wasn't that hard to convince our folks at all, as they welcome any opportunity to stick it to Hiashi when they can. Needless to say, when Hiashi heard that Neji and his family were also under protection, he wasn't too happy, but like with Hinata, he's not going to risk the Hyuga clan getting into a civil war they can't win with the other clans. So Neji, Tenten, Hizashi, and Hanshiro are pretty safe in my estimation, but I think Hanshiro likes having the Anbu around as a visible reminder to everyone in the village not to screw with him or his family."
"Well, I hope Hanshiro-san doesn't go broke keeping those Anbu employed if he's already safe under those clan protection decrees."
"He doesn't have to pay a dime for the Anbu. Don't you know all Konoha Councilman are given a protection detail to guard them?"
"Hanshiro-san is a Councilman! I thought he just ran a weapons shop?" Naruto exclaimed in surprise.
"He still has the weapons shop, but Lady Tsunade named him and Teuchi-san Civilian Councilmen, when a couple of them died while you were gone."
"Teuchi-san is also a Councilman!" Naruto exclaimed in surprise once more, before he openly asked.
"I wonder why the old man didn't mention that he was a Councilman now."
"Neither Teuchi-san nor Hanshiro-san like to brag about their positions in the government to other people Naru-kun. They just want to remain as Hanshiro, the owner of the finest weapons shop and Teuchi, the owner of the finest ramen shop in the Leaf village, nothing more." Hinata replied, answering her fiancé's query.
"Not only are Teuchi and Hanshiro Civilian Councilman, but they're the only ones on the Civilian Council that the majority of the Shinobi Council respects. Of course it doesn't hurt that they were former high-ranking shinobi in their younger days." Shikamaru remarked with respect for the two men.
"Really, the old man and Hanshiro were shinobi in the past."
"Yeah, they went by the codenames Mace-Hanma (Mace-Hammer) and Satsu-Ittou (Slicing Sword). I don't know much about them, other than they both were the main-gate guardians of Konoha for over 35 years. Run those names by Master-Jiraiya and I'm sure he could tell you plenty about them."
"Wow, that's amazing! I can't believe the old man was a shinobi!" Naruto openly remarked in astonishment, but also high-esteem, as the four young ninja resumed their trek towards the Sato foundry.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the foundry and could hear the distinctive sound of a hammer hitting an anvil inside. They also spied Tenten outside of the forge watching her son play with a ball on the grass. She looked up and saw her four friends and smiled brightly, before she waved and called out.
"Hey you guys, I'm so happy to see you. What brings you all out here?"
"Well I for one wanted to see my adorable nephew Hizashi-kun!" Hinata announced merrily, as she knelt down to the ground and held her arms out for Hizashi to come to.
"Come on Hizashi-kun; show your Aunt Hinata how good you can walk to her." Tenten cooed to her son, as she lifted him to his feet and pointed the infant towards his aunt 12ft away.
The little child took some shaky steps forward towards Hinata, before he got to the halfway point and he started to lose his balance. All of the adults present smiled, as they watched him wave his arms around to keep from falling, before he regained his balance. Hizashi then took a few more tentative steps, before he got into a run and fell into Hinata's arms who lifted the boy high in the air much to his amusement, as she stated with glee.
"Good boy Hizashi-kun, I'm so proud of you!"
Hinata then brought the boy down and held him in her arms, while tickling him, as Hizashi giggled enthusiastically.
As everyone watched Hinata play with her infant nephew, Tenten candidly remarked.
"You're a natural Hinata; you're going to be a great mom one day!"
Tenten's words caught Hinata by surprise, as she stared at Hizashi's face and began to imagine the boy in her arms with blonde hair. The Hyuga girl was transfixed with this image in her mind, before she heard a voice declare.
"I have to agree with Ten-chan; you will be a splendid mother one day Hinata."
Hinata looked over to see a shirtless Neji standing in the doorway of the forge with a heavy battle-axe in his hand and resting on his shoulder smiling at her.
"Thank you Neji-niisan." Hinata happily replied, as she smiled back at him.
"Just don't go turning Lady Hinata into a mother too quickly Naruto." Neji sternly proclaimed to Naruto.
"You're one to talk Neji; Tenten isn't that much older than my Hina-hime in case you forgot!" Naruto quipped back in amusement.
Both Neji and Tenten blushed a bit at Naruto's retort, before the young weapons mistress walked up and lovingly kissed her husband. A moment later after they broke apart, she turned her attention back to Hinata and the others and asked.
"So I know why Hinata is here, but what about the rest of you?"
"I wanted to ask you if you would be one of my bridesmaids at my wedding?" Temari said, before she nudged Shikamaru who rolled his eyes in annoyance and then asked.
"So troublesome, hey Neji would you mind being one of my groomsman at the wedding?"
Both Tenten and Neji looked at one another and nodded, before Tenten answered for the both of them.
"We'd love to!"
"That's wonderful; it means so much to us, thank you!" Temari exclaimed in happiness, before she nudged her fiancé once more who lackadaisically said.
"Yeah, it means so much to…...us."
Naruto and Neji had to stifle a giggle at the half-hearted tone of Shikamaru's voice. Unfortunately, Temari didn't find it amusing and groused.
"Can't you show a little more enthusiasm about our wedding?"
"Sorry, but I used up all of my enthusiasm at our first wedding!" Shikamaru lazily replied in a bored tone of voice.
Both Naruto and Neji couldn't contain their laughter anymore and openly chuckled, before Naruto noticed the battle-axed Neji was holding and asked.
"Hey Neji, what's with the axe?"
"Neji held the battle-axe up and answered.
"Oh a customer of Hanshiro-sama ordered this to be made."
"You mean you made it?" Naruto questioned in disbelief.
"He sure did! My father has been teaching Neji-kun how to forge metals and he's a natural at it thanks to his Byakugan." Tenten declared with loving pride.
"Why would his Byakugan make him a natural blacksmith?"
"Well you see Naruto, metal is forged by heating pieces of wrought iron or steel, until the metal becomes soft enough to be shaped with hand tools, such as a hammer, anvil and chisel. The blacksmith folds the heated metal over and pounds it into what is called a billet. The billet is then cooled before it's heated up again and folded over again. By continuing this process multiple times you're increasing the strength of the metal. However, when you fold the metal over, you are forming air gaps between the layers. These air gaps have to be removed or it will cause weakness in the metal. You can remove these air gaps by heating and hammering the metal. And this is where Neji-kun's Byakugan is so useful, because it allows him to see those air pockets, as well as any impurities within the metal and target them to be pounded out. So instead of spending several hours having to pound out the entire piece, Neji-kun is able to do it much faster without weakening the strength of the metal."
"Wow, I never knew the Byakugan had so many uses. I always thought it was just a really cool Doujutsu to be used in fighting."
"I thought the same way, until Hinata showed me otherwise during the Oto invasion. She was able to utilize the Byakugan in triage to scan the wounded and determine who was the most critical and needed medical attention immediately. Thanks to Hinata the majority of the critically wounded were saved because if it." Neji stated with admiration.
"Really Hina-hime, that's awesome, I'm so proud of you!" Naruto offered up in compliment.
Hinata blushed a bit in upon hearing Naruto's praise, before he then asked Neji.
"Hey, can I take a look at that axe?"
Neji tossed the battle-axe to Naruto who caught the weapon with ease, before he examined it closely. Swinging the weapon around, Naruto was impressed by the balance of the axe considering how large it was. Turning to Shikamaru, Naruto tossed the battle-axe to him, as he said.
"Tell me what you think of this axe?"
Shikamaru caught the weapon with one hand, before it immediately fell to the ground with a thud. Temari pinched her nose in embarrassment, as her husband struggled to lift the axe off the ground with one arm. Once the Nara heir did, it wavered shakily in the air, before he grabbed the handle with his other hand to steady it.
"Kami you're embarrassing me, why can't you handle that axe like Naruto and Neji?" Temari asked with disgust.
"Because I'm not a physical freak like Naruto and I'm also not someone who has bulked up considerably since he started working in a foundry you troublesome woman!" Shikamaru shot back in irritated defense of his physical prowess.
The Nara heir handed the battle-axe back to Neji and said.
"It is a fine axe; I think Hanshiro's client will be pleased with it once it is finished.
"I hope so; Hanshiro-sama has placed a lot of faith in me to make it. All that is left for me to do is sharpen and polish it."
"I've no doubt son that it will be a fine weapon once it is finished." Hanshiro announced, as he came walking up to the group.
"Dad!" Tenten greeted her father happily.
"Tenten, it's nearly lunchtime, so why don't you start preparing it for all of your friends."
"That's not necessary Hanshiro-san, we don't wish to impose." Hinata contritely stated.
"Bah, it's no imposition at all, we're glad to have you and welcome all of you to our home."
"Very well, we accept your gracious offer, but only if you will allow me to help Tenten with the preparations."
"I'll help as well." Temari declared, earning a snicker from Shikamaru.
"What's so funny?" Temari asked with an edge to her voice.
"I was just amused at the thought of you helping to prepare a meal."
"Are you implying I can't cook?"
"No offense Mari-chan, but you're the only person I know who could burn water. If you really want to help Tenten and Hinata, just watch and do nothing else."
One second later, the distinctive sound of a battle-fan crashing down on a head was heard, as Shikamaru suddenly found himself on the ground at Temari's feet groaning and now nursing a large bump on his head, as his wife shouted with fury.
"See if I ever make another meal for you!"
Temari then stormed off with Hinata and Tenten towards the Sato household, while Naruto and Neji rushed over to help their friend to his feet, as Naruto asked the Nara heir."
"Are you alright?"
"It's troublesome, but I'll live."
"That's a nasty bump on your head." Neji commented in observation.
"Well, it was worth it if Mari-chan keeps her promise."
"To never make another meal for me again. Truthfully, if I had to survive on just her cooking, I'd either starve to death or die of food poisoning."
Both Naruto and Neji, along with Hanshiro who was holding Hizashi openly laughed at Shikamaru's remark. After a minute, as the laughter died down, Naruto turned his attention to Hanshiro and politely asked.
"Hanshiro-san, would you spare me a few minutes of your time in private? I have an important matter I wish to discuss with you."
"Of course Naruto." Hanshiro replied, before he handed his grandson off to the boy's father and he and Naruto walked into the foundry and to the office the elder weapons maker had in the back. Motioning Naruto to take a seat, Hanshiro sat behind his desk and asked in curiosity.
"What is it you wish to talk to me about?"
"Am I correct to assume you were the one who made my father's special tri-pronged kunai?"
"Hai, I was the one who crafted them."
"Then do you also know the secret of his Hiraishin no jutsu connected with those kunai?"
Hanshiro paused a moment, as a grim visage spread across his face, before he answered.
"Hai, I know the secret behind that jutsu, but your father swore me to secrecy about it and I swear I've never divulged that secret to anyone."
Naruto held up his hand to stop Hanshiro, before he said with honest sincerity.
"I believe you and I never had a doubt about that. The secret of the jutsu is not what I wanted to talk to you about."
Hanshiro stared at Naruto with a befuddled look on his face, before Naruto continued on.
"If my father placed such trust in you not only to expertly craft his weapons along with keeping the secret, that's good enough for me."
"Which is why I know I can trust you to make a specialized item for me and keep its secret."
"What is it you wish me to create?"
Naruto reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper, before he leaned forward and handed it to the elder weapons-maker. Hanshiro unfolded and studied the paper closely. After a couple of minutes, he looked up and asked.
"So you want this item to have a hollowed out chamber within it as well?"
"Why do you want this item?"
"I want this item or to be more specific several of them to protect the people who are precious to me, your daughter and son-in-law included I might add."
"I thank you for that Naruto and appreciate it very much."
Naruto merely nodded his head to Hanshiro in acceptance, before he asked.
"Can you make item Hanshiro-san?"
"Hai, I can make it."
"How long will it take?"
"How many do you want?"
"At least twenty-five to start off, with potential orders for more in the future."
"Hmmm twenty-five you say, to make that many I'd say I will need at least three months."
"And how much will it cost?"
"I think $1,000 ryo's each sounds fair."
"I'll pay you double that if you can make them in half that time. Can you do it?"
Hanshiro stroked his chin as he thought about it, before he finally answered.
"I can do it, but I'll need to bring Neji in to complete the task."
"Is he skilled enough to help you make them?"
"Hai, more than skilled enough, in fact after me he's the most skilled blacksmith in the Leaf village."
"Aren't you two the only blacksmith's in the village?"
"Ha, ha, ha, that's true, I guess I should rephrase what I said, after me he's the most skilled blacksmith in all the Elemental nations."
"Well if he was trained by you, I've no doubt that's the truth." Naruto offered in compliment with a smile, before he then asked.
"You're really happy that Neji has become a blacksmith of such high caliber?"
"I am! I'll be honest with you, I love my daughter with all my heart, but I'll admit when her mother was pregnant, I had hoped it would be a boy, so that I could pass on a legacy of my metal forging techniques and abilities to him. However, Kami had other plans and though I had to wait almost twenty years to pass on that legacy, it was worth the wait. Neji is a fine son-in-law to me and an exceptional husband for my daughter. But don't you dare repeat any of that to him, ha, ha, ha." Hanshiro declared with laughter.
"Ha, ha, ha, I promise I won't say a word." Naruto replied with laughter of his own.
"Well now, since we're all done here, why don't we see if my daughter and your fiancé have finished preparing lunch for all of us?"
Naruto nodded his head in agreement, before he and the elder weapons maker got up and left the office to join the others outside.
As the Sound nin Skragg lay in his Anbu jail cell, he prayed to Kami for death. It had been over two weeks since that bastard blonde Leaf shinobi had defeated and delivered him into the hands of the two most vicious interrogation and torture specialists of the Elemental nations, Ibiki Morino, and Anko Mitarashi. Skragg had done his best to holdout against the two infamous Leaf shinobi and not divulge any information about Otogakure or his master Orochimaru, but in less than 24hrs, they had broken him of both mind, body, and spirit. After that Skragg had revealed everything he knew with little resistance.
Skragg wondered what they intended to do with him? After all, he had given up everything he knew about Otogakure, Orochimaru, or anything else they had wanted to know about, so any value he had to the Leaf village was finished. The veteran Sound nin just hoped that when they eventually decided to kill him, that his death would be swift and painless.
Meanwhile, in the Hokage's office, Tsunade along with Jiraiya, Kakashi, and Naruto were watching Skragg on a monitor, before the blonde Hokage flipped the screen off and said.
"According to Ibiki and Anko, we've gained all the useful intel we can from the prisoner Naruto captured during the Oto attack on the village. The question now remains what do we do with him now?"
"If it were any other country we were dealing with, I'd say set-up a prisoner exchange. But I don't know if our bastard ex-teammate is holding any Leaf prisoners. And even if he was, I doubt he would agree to such a proposal." Jiraiya grimly stated.
"We could lock him away in Konoha Security Prison for the rest of his life." Kakashi suggested.
"That seems foolish to spend money just to feed and shelter that piece of shit for the rest of his life."
"Then what do you propose we do with him Naruto?"
"I say we send him back to Orochi-teme Hokage-sama."
Tsunade winced slightly at the cold tone and the formal way Naruto addressed her. In fact, she would pay a king's ransom just to hear him address her as baa-chan once more. However, there seemed little hope in that happening anytime soon, as Naruto was still in an acrimonious state of mind towards her with regards to Chouji's death among other things that she had kept a secret from him while he was gone. The blonde Hokage felt a queasy feeling begin to churn in her stomach, as she realized if Naruto still remained this upset over what she had kept from him. What hope did she have of him ever forgiving her for keeping his heritage to her a secret from him. Tsunade was broken from her musings when she heard Jiraiya say.
"Naruto, we can't just send back to Orochimaru a highly skilled shinobi and snake summoner to use against us again in the future. Besides that what would we even gain by returning the prisoner back to Otogakure?"
"What we would gain is a psychological advantage by sending a message back to Orochi-teme, Sasuke-teme, and Kabuto-teme!" Naruto answered with determination.
This answer piqued the curiosity of all of the adults in the room, before Kakashi finally asked.
"What message do you wish to send back with the prisoner?"
"The message I want to send is to inform those three bastards that you, pervy-sage, and myself have returned to the Leaf village. I also think we should let them know that you pervy-sage are going to kill Orochimaru and you Kakashi-sensei are going to kill Kabuto, while I am going to kill Sasuke-teme."
Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Kakashi looked around at one another in shock, before Naruto continued on.
"Those three bastards have all hurt people that we love and care about and deserve to die. And by sending them a message that there are three people out there who have sworn to kill them. From a psychological standpoint it will definitely plant a seed of fear within their minds, whether they will admit it to themselves or not. And as time goes by, that seed will grow and cause them to be more and more concerned with each passing day. Until the day finally arrives that we do meet them and follow through with our promise."
Once again, Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Kakashi looked around at one another a bit stunned at what Naruto had proposed. However, as each of them pondered what he just said, they had to admit to themselves that Naruto's idea and what they would gain from it did have merit. After a minute, it was Tsunade who broke the silence that had enveloped the office and shaking her head stated.
"I'm sorry Naruto, it's an intriguing idea, but Jiraiya is right. We can't send back to Orochimaru a highly skilled shinobi and snake summoner to use against us again in the future."
"I never said we needed to send him back in his present physical state." Naruto coolly declared.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean have Neji destroy all the Tenkutsu points in the guy's arms using his advanced Byakugan techniques. Once that is done, that Oto pig will never be able to mold chakra and utilize any type of jutsu ever again. He'll be useless to Orochimaru anymore and his shinobi days will be finished forever."
For a third time Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Kakashi looked around at one another in astonishment and were literally speechless after hearing Naruto. All three of the veteran shinobi deeply contemplated the idea, searching for any negative to it. After a minute, it was Jiraiya who finally announced to Tsunade in a subdued tone of voice.
"It's not a bad plan."
"I have to agree Lady Tsunade." Kakashi offered in agreement.
Tsunade grumbled to herself, before she too proclaimed in a somber voice.
"I agree as well."
"If there's nothing else Hokage-sama, I'll be going." Naruto stated in a monotone voice devoid of any emotion.
"No Naruto, there's nothing else." The blonde Hokage solemnly replied, before Naruto disappeared in a flash of light.
"He still hates me doesn't he?" Tsunade openly asked with sadness.
"Naruto doesn't hate you Lady Tsunade, but he is still upset about Chouji's death being kept from him."
"Damn it, does he think I wanted to keep it from him! I had my reasons why I did and they were valid whether he wants to understand them or not!" Tsunade exclaimed in frustration.
"He understands the reasons; Naruto is just having difficulty in accepting them right now. Give him some time to heal and I'm sure everything will be back to normal between you two before you know it. I mean he can't hold a grudge forever, it's not as though you purposely lied to him for any selfish reasons."
The blonde Hokage's breath caught in her throat upon hearing Kakashi's last statement and she shot Jiraiya a worried glance, before she cleared her throat and said.
"Ahem, thank you Kakashi, you're dismissed. On your way out, would you inform Shizune to send a messenger to the Sato home and inform Neji to be here first thing in the morning."
"Hai Lady Tsunade." Kakashi answered with a slight bow of respect, before he exited the office and closed the door behind him.
After the silver-haired shinobi was gone, Tsunade buried her face into the palms of her hands and sobbed quietly. Jiraiya walked around the desk and lifted her up into a loving embrace, while she cried into his shoulder. The Toad-sage wanted to say something that would ease Tsunade's troubled mind, but he too felt just as concerned about how their grandson would react to them, once they revealed the truth of their heritage to him. Jiraiya also knew that truth would have to be revealed to Naruto very soon.
A week later, Skragg had been brought forth to Orochimaru's throne room and dumped unceremoniously at the feet of the Snake Sannin who looked down upon him with disdain. Orochimaru was sitting on his gold encrusted throne ornately decorated with snakes, with Kabuto standing to the left of him and Sasuke to the right. The pale-skinned Sannin's eyes narrowed, as he glared down at the Sound shinobi kneeling before and asked.
"Ku, ku, ku, I must say I'm a bit perplexed to learn that you are sssssstill alive. I was under the impression that you had perished along with all of the curse-sealed warriors I sent with you to test Konoha's defenses and strengths. Imagine my sssssurprise, when you were found at the border between the Rice and Fire countries. So tell me, how is it that you survived Sssssskrag?"
"I, I was defeated in battle and captured by Konoha's forces Lord Orochimaru." Skragg hesitantly stammered, the nervousness quite evident in his voice.
"Interesting, but please explain how you are now with ussssss?"
"I, I was released to deliver a message to you my lord, as well as messages to Kabuto-sama and Sasuke-sama."
"A message from whom?"
"The, the message I was to deliver to you Lord Orichamru is from the Toad-Sage Sannin Jiraiya. He says….." Skragg paused unsure of he should continue on.
"He says what!" Orochimaru shouted in angered inpatients.
"Th-these are his words not mine my lord. The Sannin Jiraiya directed to me say that for attacking the Leaf village and Tsunade, you have broken any remaining bonds you might have held with him. The next time you meet, Jiraiya the magnificent will give you no quarter, show you no mercy, and end your miserable existence once and for all. Your day of reckoning is coming Orochi-teme and he will be the hand of justice that finally delivers you to hell."
Orochimaru's brow furrowed in deep thought, as a scowl spread across his face. In all his years he had never heard his former teammate and friend speak in such a fashion. Apparently his attempt to kill Tsunade during the invasion had been the proverbial straw that broke Jiraiya's back with regards to him. And while the Snake Sannin was confident that he could defeat Jiraiya in battle, he also knew that Jiraiya had always held back in those past fights giving Orochimaru the edge he needed. Now apparently Jiraiya was no longer going to hold back out of some feeble-minded attempt to save him. And the thought of this sparked a minute, but growing doubt within Orochimaru's mind. The Snake Sannin's contemplation of this revelation was interrupted when Kabuto spoke up and asked.
"And what message do you have for me and from whom?"
"Your, your message Kabuto-sama is from the infamous Leaf shinobi Kakashi Hatake. He says that twice you have met in battle and both times you've escaped with your life….there won't be a third time. When you meet him again, he swears to end your life and send you to the same hell as your master."
Kabuto stiffened a bit, as he recalled that indeed Kakashi was correct in the fact that in their two previous encounters, he had been forced to run away, lest he be captured or killed by the renowned Leaf ninja. Now upon learning that Kakashi seems to have attached a personal vendetta in killing him, left Kabuto feeling a bit uneasy. The bespectacled former Leaf ninja was brought out of his musings when Sasuke asked with a sneer.
"Tell me my message!"
"Your, your message Sasuke-sama is from Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze, that is who defeated and captured me in battle Lord Orochimaru."
"I don't care about who defeated you loser! What did the dobe tell you to say to me?" Sasuke shouted in irritation.
"He, he simply said that he is going to kill you and that it's a promise of a lifetime to him."
"Did he say anything else?"
"Only two other words, he said…...BELIEVE IT!"
Sasuke gritted his teeth in furious anger, before he heard Orochimaru ask.
"Sssssskragg, you say you fought the Yondaime's legacy in battle. What is your assessment of his abilities? Is he as strong as my Ssssssasuke-kun?"
"Hai Lord Orochimaru, I believe he is as strong as Sasuke-sama…...perhaps even stronger."
It was a mistake on Skragg's part to offer that final opinion, as Sasuke who had been seething with rage let loose a bloodthirsty howl of fury and before anyone could stop him had drawn his Kusanagi blade and rammed through Skragg's heart. The Oto nin only had a few seconds of life to cough up some blood, before his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he slumped to the floor in a bloody heap.
"Sasuke you idiot!" Kabuto exclaimed in frustrated anger.
"What did you say to me?" Sasuke shouted in query, as he ripped his sword out of Skragg and turned it towards Kabuto.
"I called you an idiot, because that's what you are!" Kabuto answered, while drawing out a couple of kunai and taking a defensive stance.
"I'll fucking kill you!" Sasuke spat, before he swung his blade towards Kabuto, only for it to be stopped by Orochimaru's own Kusanagi, before the Snake Sannin backhanded Sasuke who fell to the floor.
"Enough of this, sssssstand down both of you!" The Snake Sannin commanded with authority.
"But, but why Orochimaru-sama?" Sasuke asked with a hurt look and sad tone of voice while rubbing his cheek."
"Because Kabuto was correct, it was sssssstupid and foolish of you to kill Sssssskragg, at least right now. We needed to learn what information he divulged to the sssssslug-slut Tsunade!"
"How do we know he said anything to them?"
"Don't be an idiot Ssssssasuke-kun, with Ibiki Morino and my former protégé Anko Mitarashi running the Konoha Torture and Interrogation unit of the Anbu. I have no doubt that Sssssskragg was broken by them, or they wouldn't have returned him to us otherwise."
"My apologies to you Orochimaru-sama." Sasuke contritely expressed, while bowing in respect to his master.
"What's done is done. Kabuto, I want you essssstimate how long it will take to rebuild my curse-sealed warriors to launch a successful attack on our former homeland."
"Ssssssasuke-kun, clean up this mess you've made in my throne room and then come join me in my bedroom. We have some things we need to discusssss."
Hai Orochi-kun." Sasuke replied with a smile.
However, after the Snake Sannin and Kabuto had left the room, Sasuke's smile quickly disappeared, as the Uchiha's thoughts disturbingly returned to what Naruto had said. Naruto was a fool, as far as Sasuke was concerned, but he also knew how seriously his rival took his promise of a lifetime declarations. The dobe didn't just go around making them every day. So Sasuke knew that his former teammate and friend was deadly serious about killing him. And while he was confident that no one could ever defeat an Uchiha elite like himself. Sasuke also remembered that he was no longer fighting against a lowlife orphaned dobe, as he had once believed Naruto to be. He was fighting against someone from just as elite of a clan as his own, the Namikaze clan. And for the first time since he deserted the Leaf village, Sasuke felt a small pang of fear begin to creep into his mind at the prospect of fighting Naruto now.
Author Note: Yet again, no cliffhanger at the end of this chapter either. I hope my cliffhanger abilities haven't disappeared on me. Once more, I think if I had tried to do one, it just wouldn't have fit the tone and mood of this chapter at all. Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the chapter, I had a fun time writing it and I like the chapter, but I'll admit I'm curious as to the reader's reaction to it. I wanted the chapter to be more claming and with less emotional drama given how serious the last chapter was. So this chapter had a lot going on within it involving many characters, but hopefully it doesn't come across as a filler chapter, as that was not my intent while writing it. I guess I'll find out soon enough from your reviews.
Anyway, as I said, I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter and I am anxious to see what your reviews will be for it. I do wish to thank everyone both old and new readers who took the time to review my last chapter. For those of you who did review, you all had a lot to say about it and I'm pleased that this story has such a strong fan base with readers who actually write out well thought-out reviews. Because of that, I enjoy reading many of your reviews, so please leave lots of them, as they do help a writer get a sense of the thoughts and opinions of the fans of a story. They also can help lift the spirits of an author as well. Also, to any readers who are staff members to any C2 communities, please feel free to add my story to your community if you feel it is worthy of it. I won't mind, I swear. I'll even pinkie swear if I need to?
News & Shoutout:
Last month I finished my Naruto/Bleach crossover tale titled "Do I Have A Purpose Anymore?" I'll be posting a final short epilogue to it within the next few weeks, but for all essential purposes the story has ended. If you're a fan of both Naruto and Bleach and haven't checked this story out yet, I highly recommend that you do. I believe you will find it an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading your reviews about it in the future.
I'd like to give a shout-out to my longtime reader SilentSinger948 who posted the 5,000th review to this story. I'm amazed beyond words that my story has reached such an incredible milestone, as I never even imagined such a thing was possible, when I sat down and wrote the first chapter of this tale years ago.
End of News & Shoutout:
Now, onto everyone's favorite section Kingkakashi's rants on the manga yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
I have some positive, but also some negative things to say about the following issues of the Naruto manga.
*Warning I do give away some spoilers in my rants, so read at your own risk.
#666 – The chapter starts with Obito and Madara facing off, Obito has thrust his arm into Madara's body and is able to rip away a portion of chakra from the one-tailed and eight-tailed bijuu within Madara. Obito uses the bijuu chakra he has grabbed and attacks Madara, while telling Kakashi to take Naruto into the alternate dimension using their Kamui technique. Kakashi does this and returns setting up a showdown between himself, Obito verses Madara. Edo-Minato looks on with pride seeing his two students battling together and then you get some flashback memories of the two when they were Genin. Madara attacks, but Obito and Kakashi use their Kamui technique at the same time and Obito is able to leap in time to the other dimension to transfer the Kyuubi power he holds within him into Naruto. Unfortunately, it looks like Kakashi isn't going to be able to save himself from Madara's attack. Fortunately at the last minute he is saved by none other than Might Gai ending the chapter. I liked this chapter if for no other reason than Might Gai comes off looking really cool and it sets up for a battle between the sexy-green beast and Madara.
#667 – This chapter shifts from the Madara fight back to the dying Sasuke and the mysterious man who is next to Sasuke is none other than Kabuto. Orochimaru and the rest of Team Snake arrive to discover this, and Kabuto is actually healing Sasuke. Everyone wants to know why Kabuto is here and you get this semi-philosophical explanation from him explaining why. You then switch back to the Madara battle and I was right a fight between Gai and Madara is about to begin. Since Senjutsu chakra and physical attacks from Taijutsu are the only means to harm Madara. Gai leaps forward and immediately begins opening his Celestial Gates or Hachimon within him to attack Madara. Gai starts unleashing some killer taijutsu attacks using the increased speed and power that opening the gates gives him. After one particular attack, he's vulnerable and it looks as though Madara is about to kill him, but Rock Lee arrives and saves his beloved Sensei. At this point, Gai makes a decision that he will defeat Madara even it if kills him. At this point I get a sick feeling to my stomach that Kishimoto is about to kill off another favorite character of mine. Overall, this was a good chapter with some sweet action to it, before the ending leaves you bummed out.
#668 – Well this chapter starts with Gai deciding he's going to open all of the Celestial Gates, which means his death if he does to defeat Madara. He has a small Hallmark moment with Rock Lee, before he launches himself again at Madara. You then get several pages of flashback memories of Gai with his father, which explains the how and why Gai is the noble man he is. You also get an emotional scene of Gai's father who is named Dai sacrificing himself in the same fashion that Gai is about to do against Madara to save his son and teammates against the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. You then switchback to the present and Gai is about to unleash one of his most powerful attacks onto Madara using seemingly all the power he possesses. I liked this chapter a lot, Gai comes off looking like a badass and the flashback memories were revealing about him.
#669 – This chapter begins with Gai hitting Madara with his attack called the "Evening Elephant." I think Kishimoto put zero thought in coming up with that name for the attack. Anyway, you get a few pages of explanation about this attack and about the Hachimon technique. Gai attacks, but is unable to get through Madara's defenses, so Edo-Minato, Kakashi, Lee, and Gaara strategize on how to help Gai fight Madara. Lee opens up his own Celestial Gates, but he can only go up to the sixth gate. Gai launches his attack again and thanks to Minato and the others, they are able to take down or help Gai avoid Madara's defenses and he is able to land his attack onto the elder Uchiha. However, though the impressive attack has injured Madara, he still has plenty left to fight. He even comments that he's excited about this fight against Gai and hasn't felt this way since he battled Hashirama. The chapter ends with a single shot of Naruto opening his eyes showing he is alive in the other dimension. For third time a really enjoyable chapter to read and I realize that when it comes to strictly action and nothing else, Kishimoto isn't half-bad at all.
#670 – Ok, I was mistaken, we don't know if Naruto is actually alive, but he has awakened into some sort of dream or mind scape or alternate dimension where he meets the actual Sage of the Sixth Paths who is named Hagoromo. This begins a rather long, complicated, and sometimes just silly explanation from Hagoromo to Naruto, about essentially the meaning of the world and the shinobi's place within it. I'm not even going to attempt to explain any of this, so this is one of the few times you're just going to have to breakdown and read the actual manga to understand it all. Overall, this chapter was ok, but that's about all I can say about it.
#671 – This chapter is a continuation of what I mentioned previously. The explanation starts to reach a conclusion with Hagoromo telling Naruto about his sons Ashura and Indra who fought a war against each other for control of the world. The two sons were continuously reincarnated throughout history and now reside in both Naruto and Sasuke. The Sage of the Sixth Paths then talks about the previous reincarnation of his sons and how everything changed, as Hashirama and Madara were the previous Transmigrants as Hagoromo calls them. Once again, just read the chapter to try and understand all of this. Anyway at the end of all of this, Hagoromo tells Naruto he needs to stop Madara and it's revealed that Naruto now holds and has access to all of the bijuu's power. Now all of this appears really great, Kishimoto seems to be turning Naruto into the true hero and the "Child of Prophecy" the Toads spoke of in the story.
However, once more Kishi's undying Uchiha love can't allow that and we learn that the conversation the Sage of the Sixth Paths has been having with Naruto; he's been having the same damn conversation with Sasuke! So the two Transmigrants of his sons, Naruto and Sasuke come together to awaken and try and defeat Madara. The chapter ends with Gai nearly at the end of his rope and he realizes even his Evening Elephant attacks isn't sufficient to defeat Madara and he must use his final attack the "Night Moth." I couldn't believe it was possible, but I think Kishimoto put even less time and thought in coming up with that name than he did with "Evening Elephant." This chapter would have been great if Kishimoto could have just kept Sasuke out of it and let Naruto be the hero and the Child of Prophecy the entire freaking manga has alluded to for years, but he didn't and just had to include the emo-Uchiha and that ruins the chapter as far as I'm concerned.
#672 – This chapter begins with Gai about to unleash his final attack that will probably kill him, which completely sucks. Naruto and Sasuke also rise from to begin their team-up against Madara. You get another memory flashback of when Gai and Kakashi first met as children. Back to the battle Madara acknowledges that Gai is the greatest taijutsu fighter he has ever faced. Gai attacks and injures Madara pretty badly, but also injuring himself in the process. In fact, the attack nearly kills Madara, but the attack came with the cost of leaving Gai on the ground… dying. Madara tries to finish off Gai, but Naruto suddenly appears in the nick of time and saves him from Madara's attack. Naruto kneels down and it looks like he's also saved Gai's life from being taken by the Hachimon technique. I really hope that's the case. The chapter ends with Naruto and Madara squaring off. Overall, I really liked this chapter simply because of how cool it made Might Gai look, by showing off his true power as an elite shinobi.
#673 – Well this chapter is starts with Naruto battling Madara. Naruto starts to kick his ass and Madara realizes he's too injured from Gai to fight effectively. Naruto creates a super powerful Rasenshuriken and nails the elder-Uchiha with it. The attack is so powerful it actually drives Madara through the Shinju tree cutting it in half. Now you would think an attack this powerful would finish off Madara, but remember he is an Uchiha and protected by Kishimoto's undying love, so of course somehow he survives. Anyway, Madara then absorbs the power of the tree and heals himself, before boasting to Naruto that he can't be beaten. Naruto responds by saying he won't be defeating Madara alone. Then Sasuke appears next to Naruto sporting the Rinnegan, while Naruto has the Senjutsu-chakra of the Sage of the Sixth Paths. Thus ending the chapter with Madara facing off against Naruto and Sasuke declaring this will be the final battle. This chapter was ok, but it also was kind of sad, as I realized were coming to the end of Naruto very soon I think.
Yes, I'm still thoroughly disgusted that Kishimoto hasn't done anything yet with Hinata's confession to Naruto now reaching 236 freaking issues!
Now I'd like to give a shout out to a couple of stories of quality work that I recommend. I urge all of you to check-out these fine works when you have the time.
"Anxiety over a Loved One" by jojo07: This is a creative, interesting, and well written one-shot that involves the emotional turmoil Naruto as Hokage experiences after he sends his wife Hinata along with the rest of Team #8 out on a dangerous mission. Since it's a one-shot I don't want to spoil anything for you, but if you're looking for emotionally touching read about what he goes through, this is definitely a story worth reading.
"Welcome Home Naruto" by Rauchster: This is a well written one-shot, involving Naruto's return to the village after a six year absence. Upon his return his friends throw a party and Naruto gets his first look at Hinata since he's been away. I won't spoil the tale, but if you enjoy stories where Naruto and Hinata finally become a couple, then this is a story you should check out.
Now please be kind and leave precious valuable reviews on these stories.
As always, if anyone wants to discuss my story in greater detail, just shoot me a PM. I enjoy talking about the story with any readers who really have an interest in it. I'll try to respond back to you as quickly as I can.
Take it easy and be good!
Definition: A man living off the earnings or gifts of a woman, especially a younger man supported by an older woman in return for his sexual attentions and companionship.
Etymology: French 1920-25a.d.
Part of Speech: Noun