'Life's been good lately,' thought Teuchi. 'Ever since I moved my stand, not only have I been making money hand over fist, but I don't think I've been bored at work yet. Always someone to talk to, and something new to talk about!'
Teuchi was happy. He had made more in the last week then he used to make in a month, but his expenses were also higher than they used to be as well. Somehow Hyuuga-sama had gotten it into his head that he would ensure the quality of his supplies, to make sure only the highest quality of ingredients even reached the stand, much less was used to cook.
To Teuchi, such actions were bizarre, because, you know, ramen isn't expected to have top quality cuts of beef or shrimp imported from Mist's rather backwards Shrimp Summoning clan. To be honest, Teuchi had no idea how they were still allowed to summon shrimp via their contract, because all they ever did with them was sell them. It seems like that would be against a summoning clans rules, or something.
Teuchi also found himself to be one of the larger power players on the Konoha gossip scene of late. While not a huge surprise given how focused on Naruto everything always seemed to be, it still felt surreal every time Hyuuga Hiashi, of all people, would come out and talk the news of the day with him. To be quite honest, Teuchi still was rather uncomfortable with the attention Hiashi gave him, especially as unnervingly emotionless as Hiashi always acted. It was fine when Naruto was around to divert his attention, but periodically Hiashi would come by to, well, change things. Like how he insisted Teuchi wear a more formal (and much higher quality material!) uniform, had gifted him with redesigned menus, and heck, one time Teuchi had come in one morning to that little Hanabi girl supervising Neji up on a ladder putting up a new sign for the stand. If he hadn't come in early himself, he would have had no clue how it got there.
'It sometimes feels like he thinks he owns the stand or something…'
Still, Teuchi could live with that. He was happy, Ayame was happy, and Naruto was still carrying the stand on his back money-wise even if everything went back to the way it was. It was nice to see how much Naruto was growing up, and how quickly he was doing it! Why, it just felt like last month that Naruto was still something of a pariah, and now he had literal cat fights over him by not two, but THREE women. As one of the few male role models Naruto had growing up, Teuchi felt rather proud of how he was turning out.
And he wasn't the only one, either! Jiraiya, the legendary Jiraiya himself, would come by fairly often and talk Naruto with him! Teuchi was more than old enough to remember not only Jiraiya when he was Naruto's age, back when Teuchi was learning the Ramen trade from his own father. He remembered watching a boy his own age grow into a legend, and then the legend grow into an even greater author! And now he could count that legend as at the least a friendly acquaintance, if not out-and-out friend!
'Although sometimes things could be awkward here because of Naruto and his girlfriends,' Teuchi nervously thought, for as the catfight unfolded, a contingent of Hyuuga led by Hiashi himself entered the stand. Hiashi and three rather old men sat down at one of the tables, several branch house members sat at another, and Neji walked over to the counter to make their order. Teuchi, still slightly stunned that none of them seemed to be paying attention to what was going on just outside the stand, began cooking their meal even as he was wondering why none of them seemed to even notice.
Well, except for Hanabi, but she seemed content to watch the fight, and give that Haruno girl a kick to the shins when she tried to grab one of his chairs to use as a weapon.
Naruto and Sasuke perched on the roof of the clothing store across the street, mouths agape, staring.
"I… I… I'm sorry every time I interrupted your peeping, Ero-Sennin."
Jiraiya smiled, his hand on the boys shoulders, carefully avoiding the gigantic sword Naruto had strapped to one of them. Actually, smiled might not be emphatic enough. Beamed? Glowed with happiness? Overwhelmed with pride and joy, Jiraiya remembered once more why he became a porn author in the first place.
"It's ok. Just remember, cock-blocking is an unforgiveable sin, once you're old enough to understand what exactly it is you're doing."
Throughout the fight, Jiraiya had been dispensing wisdom to the boys. Such important information like "Never forget any important dates she ever mentions," and "If you want her to let you go out with your friends when you want to, the easiest way to convince her is to have her go out with her friends on the same night, too."
Jiraya's smile grew even more when both boys nodded, unable to tear their eyes away from the scene below them.
"Just remember, Naruto- Stringing girls along to watch them fight over you may seem like a good short term strategy, but it will only lead to pain if you stretch it out too long! There is an art to handling multiple women, but it only works if the women understand in advance its a casual relationship, and not something more. All those girls down there want all of you, not just a piece, and as you can see by how two of them keep on fighting each other that you won't be able to achieve the perfect S-Ranked harem ending this time! By demonstrating this, they're telling you that the sooner you pick one of them, the better!"
Sasuke and Naruto, despite not tearing their eyes away from the scene, both mouthed 'S-Ranked harem ending?' at the same time.
"No, I'm proud of you for being such a success with the ladies, but you're in for a lot of pain if you don't resolve this soon. And I don't mean some namby-pamby wussy emotional pain where you angst over not being able to make a choice. I mean actual physical they-will-kick-your-ass-for-stringing-them-along pain, most likely in your balls because angry women who think they're being used like to kick said man in the balls!"
Both boys nodded at that, understanding that Jiraiya was most likely the undisputed expert on this topic.
"I think I've got it, Ero-Sennin. But.. On one hand, I want to help them. On the other, I can't see how that would possibly end well for me. On a different hand, the thought of stopping this fight and having them all blame me is… terrifying."
Sasuke shivered at the mental image Naruto just conjured up. Oh, he knew exactly what would happen if Naruto went down there. He heard the girls gossiping, when they were stalking him and didn't try to control the volume of their voices. They would either play a game of beat-the-pervert that Jiraiya described… or worse, start fighting over him with words. All the sniping and the cattiness… Sasuke couldn't stand it.
'It just doesn't make sense… Why do they pretend to like each other and then say such horrible things? It's like none of them are friends, but insist on pretending they like each other just so they can insult each other more! Why can't they just beat each other up more often like normal people? The fighting… The clothes ripping... I, I could handle that…'
One could almost see a light bulb appear over Sasuke's head, an idea hit him so hard.
'Wait, the girls… They always seem to listen to me and try to find out what I like. Maybe if I told them I liked to watch wrestling matches or something, and that I want to date a girl who could fight…'
Before he could vocalize that idea, and cause Jiraiya to metaphorically explode with pride, a real explosion was heard.
Screams could be heard, getting closer. If the boys were able to tear their eyes away from the fight, they would see people flying through the air, tossed high and away from the explosions, as if someone was just smashing their way through everything-
-and into the building they were standing on, taking out one of the corners of the building and causing the whole thing to practically fall on its side.
Jiraiya was forced to grab both boys by the shoulders and leap away with them regardless, because neither of them moved even as the building was falling over. He wasn't even sure they had noticed in the first place.
No one seemed to notice the horrible string of curse words coming out of the now destroyed clothing racks in the crushed store below them.
The scene froze as surely as a showdown at high noon in a spaghetti western. In front of the Ramen Stand stood Naruto, Sasuke, and Jiraiya, the two boys still crouching down as they were when on the roof.
On the other side, the vein in his forehead large enough that in most cases a medic Nin would have already been called was Hoshigake Kisame.
And in the middle was the now ended fight between the three girls. Somehow Hinata had gotten Sakura into an arm bar, while Tenten had been in the process of backing off after escaping the death grip Sakura had on her shirt. It had cost her the sleeve, and some more rips beside.
Of course, all three were locked in place by the sheer amount of killing intent that Kisame was putting out.
"GIVE ME BACK MY SWORD YOU FOX-FUCKING SHIT HEAD!"
Naruto stared back at Kisame, eyes wide. He hadn't expected him to show up this soon; truth be told, he hadn't expected him to turn up period. The guy had always run from him before, and quite frankly Naruto had started to think he wasn't actually an S-rank ninja. Maybe he was the Akatsuki's comedy relief, or something?
Of course, there was also the problem that until just that moment, Naruto had been focused on the partially clothed girls fighting over him, so his slow response time was kind of understandable. His Sex Drive was overwhelming his common sense quite a bit at the moment.
"YOU. SWORD. GIVE ME NOW!"
"But, but I need it if that Masked Guy ever comes back!"
'Man, now there's an S-rank ninja, if there ever was one. That Masked Guy was pure evil!'
"Besides, with all times you've run away from me, that's sort of like me beating you, yeah? Spoils of war and whatnot?"
Naruto finally tore his eyes away from Tenten and her ripped up shirt to look at Kisame, and flinched at the sheer level of hate being directed at him. Shaking the metaphorical cobwebs from his head, he drew Samehada and fell into a combat stance. Then his eyes slid back to Tenten anyway.
Kisame paused for a second, to consider what the midget before him just said.
"You… want to steal my weapon to defend yourself from… Tobi?"
Kisame's mind blanked out a bit as Naruto nodded furiously, still not looking at him, confirming that in his foe's mind he was less dangerous, less important than… Tobi.
"Exactly! That Masked Guy, he's super strong and evil! He was probably the most dangerous guy I've ever fought! Heck, not even Orochimaru was that dangerous or evil, and before I met Masked Guy, he was pretty much my standard for evil! I need everything I can get to stop-"
"-Suiryudan no Jutsu."
Naruto was rather stunned. Not just at the enormous freaking water dragon that appeared out of nowhere, but also how hiding behind the sword he was holding up seemed to drain the attack of all its chakra.
"Wait, this sword eats jutsus? COOLEST SWORD EVER!"
"Shut up… Just… Shut your filthy mouth! You don't deserve to even look at Samehada, much less hold it!"
"Well, how are you going to take it from me, Mr. Can't-Use-Any-Jutsus-On-Me-OW!"
Kisame's left hook wasn't anywhere near as powerful as say, Tsunade's. It wasn't as powerful as someone like Gai's. But out of all the ninja in the world who WEREN'T dedicated taijutsu masters, Kisame was arguably one of the strongest.
More than strong enough to put Naruto through a nearby wall.
"No ninjutsu? Kid that was the plan all along." Somehow, in the face of the shark-man's grin, Naruto didn't feel quite as confident. "I hit you with a nice big jutsu? You die, kid. No jutsu just means that I get to beat your ass to death with my bare. FUCKING. HANDS."
Luckily, Jiraiya had already moved the three girls out of the way of the fight. Unluckily, he had deposited them next to the Hyuugas' tables. Thankfully for Hinata, Hiashi still hadn't acted like he had noticed what was going on, yet.
Sasuke could only stare. It wasn't quite as bad as if, say, Itachi had shown up and declared eternal vengeance against Naruto, but still... "What's with you guys and swords? They're just weapons."
There was an audible cracking sound; it took a moment for anyone to realize that Kisame had just clenched his fist so hard that he'd cracked some of his bones.
He didn't notice it.
"...Just...a weapon?" Kisame turned slowly towards Sasuke. "Just a weapon?" He shook with rage. "SAMEHADA IS MORE THAN JUST A PIECE OF METAL, YOU PHILISTINE! IT'S A LIVING PART OF ME, A LEGACY OF EVERYTHING THAT'S MEANINGFUL TO MY FAMILY!"
He paused. 'Did he just...good god, Itachi never said anything about his little brother having bladder control issues…' Still, it was enough to take the edge off his fury. He snorted disdainfully. "Just a weapon...is the sharingan just a weird-colored eye? Is a Kage just some geezer in a funny hat?" He struck a righteous pose.
"IS RAMEN JUST A BUNCH OF NOODLES IN WATER?!"
And paused. And stared at Naruto, who after pulling himself from the wall had interrupted him to join in yelling at Sasuke about the importance of certain things in life.
There are some habits that not even the bromance they had struck up over cat-fights could break.
Tenten had just stood up and dusted herself off, before pulling a jacket out of one of her scrolls to cover herself back up.
'Those other girls are on their own this time!'
Of course, she pulled herself back together just in time to hear Naruto's interjection.
Eyes twitching, she face palmed. "Oh for the love of God, Naruto, we are finding some sort of support group for you, alright?"
Kisame struggled with himself. On one hand, he wanted to slowly yank bits of Naruto's skin off and then make him eat them, but...well, he wasn't really one to judge about what other people found important, and this still was not what he expected. He certainly did not expect what happened next.
"Naruto, you must look at this through his eyes. It is always important to remember to examine situations from every angle, to ensure full comprehension before rushing to a decision. Think: You can make noodles, you can make soup, you can cook them individually as masterfully as you like, but... there is a difference between noodles placed into soup and ramen, correct?"
Hyuuga Hiashi had risen from his seat and approached without anyone noticing. Placing his hand on Naruto's shoulder, he continued his hand in educating the young man on Life, and handling his problems in a manner appropriate for a young man of his stature. That is, a young man he himself associated with, and therefore was someone of importance.
Everyone in the area was stunned further as Naruto was obviously considering what Hiashi had just told him. Kisame had even relaxed his attack pose.
"So, you're saying, that just like ramen is more than just noodles and soup… this sword is more than just his weapon?"
Patting Naruto on the head, Hiashi nodded at him. He then nodded at Jiraiya, and, still ignoring Hinata on the floor trying to bury herself in the remainder of her sweater, proceeded back to his table and resumed eating as if there wasn't an enemy missing nin destroying part of their city.
Naruto and Kisame stood there, looking at each other for a moment. Naruto lowered the sword. Kisame wasn't sure what to think, or how to react. His own anger drained away at the during their talk, and angry was no longer the right word for himself at the moment.
As Naruto solemnly walked up to him and presented him with his sword back, flabbergasted was the word he'd have to choose.
Naruto looked up at him, eyes moist with manly tears. "Kakashi-sensei has his porn. Sasuke has his vengeance-rants. Granny Tsunade has her gambling and sake. Tenten has all of her weapons and pointy things." He squared his shoulders. "And now you have your sword."
"We all have our Ramen."
At that point, Kisame's weird-shit-o-meter finally over-loaded, and in a daze, he turned around to begin walking back the way he came, ignoring all the casual destruction that managed to stop right before it reached the ramen stand that was apparently extraordinarily important.
'I am SO fucking confused.'
And of course, that's when Hidan and Kakuzu struck.
Being semi-immortal tends to color your fighting style a bit. Ninja battles were as much psychological as they are physical, and there was always the important blow to morale to seeing an opponent take one of your attacks with little to no effect from it. Ignoring an enemies attack in favor of an all out attack of your own could be said to be fully half of Hidan's fighting style.
"Stop dodging and let me cut you once! Then I'll stab myself for you!"
"Get away from me you creepy masochistic pervert! And put a shirt on!"
The other half of course was injuring himself to hurt his enemy, something that only made sense to people who enjoy being stabbed repeatedly, something Naruto wasn't even sure existed.
Using the distraction of Kisame leaving as cover, Hidan and Kakuzu had leapt out of their latest hiding place in the destroyed clothing racks. Kakuzu's plan was to kill Jiraiya, take his head and/or checkbook, and then grab the vessel and leave. Hidan's plan was to grab the kid, stab him a few times, sacrifice his friend to his deity of torture, then maybe stab himself a few times before leaving.
Nobodies plan really worked out that well.
For one, Kakuzu favored large area of effect jutsu's. He also was rather strong in Taijutsu, because of a mixture of his Earth Grudge Fear and his Earth Spear techniques. And frankly, who the heck cares about collateral damage when you can just put yourself back together anyway, regardless of who you pissed off when you blew up their houses?
For another, Hidan's plan ended up devolving him into a game of 'Chase the Heathen', which was actually one of Hidan's favorite games so he wasn't too unhappy with it. However, there was something distinctly unsatisfying about killing shadow clones, of which his target liked to create a lot.
'It's probably the lack of blood, now that I think about it.'
Unfortunately for Kakuzu, his first usage of Atsugai, while targeted and mostly blocked by one of Jiraiya's techniques, still managed to throw up some debris. Said debris went flying behind Jiraiya… right at the Ramen Stand.
Right at the Ramen Stand… Where it was blocked by a Hyuuga branch member before it could damage their new property.
Hiashi frowned. One simply did not allow such attacks on one's property. It invited every ruffian and ragamuffin to test your defenses, once you let one person through. This was a policy the Hyuuga had long held to, regardless of potential consequences of their vigorous notion of self defense. Occasionally there would be larger than usual compensation required for said self defense, but damn the consequences, this Stand would be defended.
Seeing this assault on his property, there was only one recourse-retaliation. And it turned out that even when your body was made up of bizarre threads and tentacles, connecting everything via chakra was still rather important. And that disrupting that connection via jyuuken strikes was not only painful, but rather effective.
And when there are a few dozen branch house Hyuuga surrounding you, your chakra gets locked up rather quickly.
"Stop using shadow clones, brat! I want to see blood, damnit!"
"I can see lots of blood, because you keep on stabbing yourself. Why do you keep on stabbing yourself? How on earth could that possibly be a good fighting style?!"
Fortunately for Naruto, Hidan didn't seem to be that effective of an opponent. He was easily distracted, especially after Sasuke set him on fire once, and half the time he just took attacks for no reason at all. Tenten had hit him like 4 or 5 times with Kunai, and all he did with them was just leave them in, even after it was clear the one in his knee was slowing him down. He was starting to froth at the mouth a bit, though.
"You can't stop me! I'm immortal! And after I catch you and sacrifice you to Jashin, he'll give me even more power! I'll be stronger than the strongest of Kages! Now stop running and let me kill you!"
Naruto did indeed stop running, as he drew the White Fang.
"What did you just say?"
Hidan swung his scythe, happy his opponent finally stopped running. Realizing the kid had finally given in and was ready to be sacrificed, he decided to oblige him.
"I said I'll be stronger then the strongest kage, kid! By the power of Jashin-"
"No! You won't be stronger then the Kages, because that's going to be me! There can only be one!"
Naruto threw three kage bunshin onto Hidan's scythe, and when they pulled it out of the way, with one swing of his sword he chopped Hidan's head off.
"Not even cutting off my head will kill me, brat! Hey, Kakuzu, where are you? Put my body back together so I can-mmrph mmmrph mmrhp!"
Jiraiya, freed up from his fight with Kakuzu, who was passed out on the floor being used as a training dummy to teach Hanabi how to do Jyuuken enhanced kicks, sealed Hidan's body and head into different scrolls.
"That... That was both creepy and easier than I would have expected."
Naruto shivered. The weird shirtless guy kept on yelling at him about stabbing as he chased him about, and frankly, it was disturbing. Thankfully, after Hiashi had lent a hand the whole situation was cleaned up rather nicely by swift applications of violence. Heck, the fish guy- no, Kisame- hadn't even seemed to notice it was happening as he left, the fights ended so quickly.
"Yeah, it's like S-Rank ninja are practically nameless mooks, sometimes. I'm actually sort of disappointed, but at the same time if Itachi is as easy to defeat as these guys are I won't complain."
"It's because they're not Kages, I bet! If they were kages, they'd never ever be this useless in a fight! That's part of being a kage, right?"
Naruto and Sasuke both nodded, still feeling rather bonded after the shared experience of watching girls rip each other's clothes off. Of course, having broken the silence, they brought other people back to reality, which include the three aforementioned girls.
Sakura, thanking the spirits that S-Rank missing Nin were willing to attack their village to distract everyone else from her embarrassment, had managed to cover herself up. So too had Hinata, who decided that making Neji carry around spares of her jacket was a great use of one of her secret spies. As was making Hanabi bring the ripped jacket back to her room for safe keeping.
However, now that the random dramatic attacks seemed to be over, this brought everyone back to what was going on before the village was attacked. All three girls turned towards Naruto and began approaching.
Naruto looked at the approaching girls and gulped. He had no idea what to say. Well, actually, he did know what he wanted to say. He just didn't know how to say it without getting his ass kicked by at least two of the girls.
Frankly, he was confused at why Hiashi still hadn't even seemed to acknowledge what Hinata was just doing.
"Girls, I… I think we should probably talk about what was just going on-"
Jiraiya, ever vigilant against cock-blocking, especially one of his students cock-blocking themselves, intervened.
"No, Naruto, we need to go right now and talk to the Hokage about what just happened. No delays allowed, not after something major like this!"
And without pause, he shunshin-ed himself and Naruto out of immediate danger.
Hinata flinched when her father appeared behind her, putting his hand on her shoulder.
"Hinata, while fighting for what you believe in is important... Why are you not guarding my sake?"
-Several Hours ago-
"So, man, how long are we supposed to be watching Hinata's dad's cellar? I mean, my mom asked me to do some errands for her today, and I'm pretty sure she'll kick my ass if I don't do them."
"Kiba, stop whining. Why you ask? Because you agreed for the both of us to do this, and I'm already mad enough this is the third time I've had to spend hours watching this cellar for Hinata. Also, you will never, ever get into her pants. Ever."
"And fuck you too, buddy."
Author's Notes: I bet no one saw an update coming! I didn't even see this coming! Got bored at work today, realized I literally had nothing better to do, and frankly I've been trying to work up the drive to finish this story for the last few years anyway.
Next chapter would be the last.
There is a chunk in the middle of this story that was originally an omake written by Warai Kitsune and posted on TFF almost 5 years ago. I'm assuming the permission to use that section still holds, and I did heavily edit it anyway.
I don't really like Hidan and Kakuzu anyway. Screw those guys.
I'd expect if I ever get around to it, theres just an epilogue left.
Since it's been like over 4 years since I updated this story (and most of that was written a year earlier), I hope the tone of the story is still the same!
The Kage joke at the end is making fun of the fact that every Kage is completely useless, and all they've done so far is get their ass kicked. That's it. They've lost fights. The only fight I can think of at all where a Kage actually won was Gaara against his zombie dad, and I'm pretty sure Zombiedad didn't even try there. Also, gold dust is lame, and if he had enough gold dust to attack people with, he probably should have been using it to make sure his village wasn't poor as fuck and not as a weapon.
Edited for some typo's I missed the first time around. If i missed anymore, I'll probably edit again!