Chapter XXX

- Me, Myself, and the creepy Shadow in the back of my head -

The way was shrouded in darkness. It was such an opaque, dense darkness that Naruto, Sakura and Jiraiya were forced to make use of their hearing to go along – since Naruto and Kyuubi had adamantly refused to allow them to use their hands to find the way: there was no telling what they could grab, or worse, what would grab them, in the dark of the facility –, as well as Naruto's ability with the Flow.

To the blond ninja, the world seemed to be drawn in a golden pencil. The yellow background of dense, uniform liquid was undisturbed save for the perturbations of their own movements, and the walls and obstacles along the path formed dark black lines that occasionally shone, as if a particle of the Flow suddenly decided to run across it and offer a better contrast for the only person who actually knew they existed.

The calmness in the ethereal substance was reassuring because, to Naruto – and by extension Kyuubi – it meant that there were no monsters out for them.


Which, ironically, made him all the more nervous.

The mind is a tricky thing, Naruto decided. Even with the readings he was getting, his imagination was starting to play tricks on him, as the stress made him picture all kinds of horrific scenarios, traps erected to deceive them and lead them further into the depths of the facility, from where escape was harder. There was, he supposed, the possibility that this Installation was equipped with the same kind of escape devices as the one in the Jaw. But when they'd been there, the contraptions hadn't exactly worked flawlessly and while the blond was sure he could now handle being dropped several hundreds of meters in the air, he could not think of anything he would be able to do if the escape pods were to fail under water.

Naruto lifted his hand and wiped out the sweat from his eyes in a reflex. He didn't remember ever feeling this tense before. Even his first encounter with an A-rank nukenin hadn't been so taxing. True there had been stress involved but, even when Zabuza hid himself with his mist Jutsu, he at least had the notion that the danger was a ninja. This was much worse because he just didn't know what those creatures were and what they could do to them.

He could feel Kyuubi to his right, her hitai-ate, for once, stashed on the pouch at the hips and her foxy ears perked high on the top of her head. She was tense, like a loaded spring, ready to jump to action at the slightest sign of trouble. It was reassuring, in a way, to verify he wasn't the only one reacting so strongly to returning to a facility of whatever people had pre-dated the Elemental Age.

Of course, damned Ero-Sennin just couldn't keep his hands in his pockets and was practically running around the place, trying to shove his fingers to as much crap as he could, even though they were going as far as keeping from using Jutsu to light the way in order to remain undetected.

The corridor they were following suddenly widened into a large, circular room. At the same time there was a thump like sound as Sakura tripped over something solid. The pink haired girl almost lost her footing but was nimble enough to regain equilibrium without making an embarrassment out of herself. Normally a ninja would have no problem doing so but they'd been walking for some time in complete darkness now and Naruto remembered what she'd told him about the effects the dark had on her mind.

There were a few crackling sounds that froze the entirety of the party where they stood. They sounded like short metallic bursts, getting progressively closer. Suddenly, a river of blueish liquid light came barrelling through tubes hanging from the ceiling and connected to the walls. There was another of those bursts and a few sparkles jumped to the ground as the lights above them came to life. For a few moments their surroundings seemed blindingly bright as their eyes adjusted. There was a buzzing noise that became fainter and fainter until, finally, Naruto and the rest found themselves surrounded by silence again.

"What just happened?" Sakura asked, looking at Naruto and Kyuubi in succession, "Did I do something wrong?"

Naruto didn't answer immediately, being occupied in sensing anything that might have changed around them. Finding nothing different, he answered.

"No, I don't think so, Sakura-chan... The facility probably just detected our presence now. The other one in the Jaw did something similar. Although it did so much earlier..." he added, frowning slightly.

"I agree." Kyuubi said, "It's almost like it didn't know we were here until we made sudden movements."

"Motion sensors?" Jiraiya mumbled as he looked around bewildered, searching for the illusive things. It took him a while to register the expectant looks of his apprentice and companions.

The Toad Sage sighed.

"For a while now, there has been some speculation between the folk at both T&I and the security teams back in Konoha about developing a few gadgets that would allow us to detect movement or body heat and bypass some of the disadvantages of security cameras. It was just theory, until now, but it seems the concept is not new..." he mused, going back to looking at the ceiling.

Naruto just shook his head, sightly preoccupied. The Pervert wasn't taking this seriously enough! He was so used to being one of the strongest player on any battlefield that he had dismissed Naruto's pleas for caution with an ease that was almost insulting to the blond. Who, amongst them, had been in a facility before? Who amongst them had seen the horrors that hid beneath?

"Ero-Sennin," he tried again, "please stop running around and pay attention to our surroundings."

The Sannin waved a dismissive hand.

"I told you brat, you worry too much. I'll sense anything that gets too close to us before it senses us. There's nothing here."


The question had such a flat tone to it that even Jiraiya interrupted his search for the sensors to look back at his student.

Naruto had squatted down and was examining something he'd picked from the ground.

"This was probably what Sakura-chan tripped on." and twisted his hand.

The head was a horrible thing to see. There was no flesh whatsoever but the skin still remained, elastic and rubbery, as if its owner had died just a few hours before, its empty sockets staring back at Jiraiya and Sakura and its jaws open in a twisted scream. Whatever had killed it hadn't given the poor bastard a quick death.

"This wasn't a pretty death by any stretch for sure." Naruto commented, looking at them while mimicking the skulls pose.

Sakura suppressed a shiver. As a ninja and medic both, she had been subjected to her fair share of death and the gory glory of the human body, but there was something disturbing about Naruto's face side by side with a skull, both sporting identical grins.

"And," he continued, "I'm not an expert on the subject but, Sakura-chan, how long would the skin remain like this after the guy died?"

"In about four to six weeks all the soft tissue should be gone." Sakura mumbled automatically, "That's taking for granted that this place has been sealed. If animals can get in here, in under a week all that would have been left would have been the bones."

"And yet, here we have this guy. Dead. Killed by who knows what. So yeah." he dead panned to the old ninja, "forgive me if I seem nervous Ero-sennin."

Jiraiya looked at the blond for a few seconds before staring at the skull and quickly making his way to it.

"Well, it's strange that this thing is like this even when the seal system outside hasn't detected anyone entering since the fall of Uzushio. Tell me," Jiraiya said, turning to Sakura, "do bones look like this?"

Sakura took a good look at the skull for the first time. It was yellowish, the colour of old bones but there was something strange about them. There was a suggestion of transparency present everywhere, from the forehead to the jaw. Curious, Sakura approached and started inspecting the remains.

"I don't believe this..." she gasped lowly, "the bones have been crystallized. I've never seen anything like this. It's not even bone any more: it's like a super durable glass. I don't know anything that could have done this..."

"Replacement." came the unexpected voice of Kyuubi. The kunoichi was looking around almost blindly, as if unaware of where or with who she was, "or Recrystallization. The bones are replaced with other minerals. It's fossilization. But it's supposed to take centuries, millennia to take place. I remember when I... when I..."

"Kyuu-chan?" Naruto asked perturbed, as the white haired girl stumbled in her speech and lifted a hand to her forehead, as if in pain. The perturbation changed to full-fledged worry as the kitsune doubled over and promptly vomited at her feet and falling to one side.


Faster than the eye could follow, he was there, by her side. The girl kept babbling, her speech disconnected and her eyes seeing things that were not there.

"Paleozoic... Trophites Subbullatus... Mesozoic... Paradoxides Pinus... always mixed them up... never got them right... drove Professor Lius insane... great talent he said, great talent... but an airhead... always an airhead... better at physics... yes... the Universe... is a Black Hole... and we're inside... we can't get out... Everything that is, was or ever will be... the Universe... metrics incomplete... must accommodate the Flow... DNA... always liked biology..."

"What's wrong with her?" Sakura asked, jolting Naruto of the panic induced death grip he'd been maintaining on the fox-girl. Her hands already alight with the green glow of her medic techniques, Naruto had no idea how or when she'd gotten next to them.

"I-I don't know!" he half shrieked. This couldn't be happening. Not here. Was it another creature attacking Kyuu-chan? Some sort of monster they hadn't identified yet?

"Well, then find out!" Sakura barked, frustrated and worried, at him, "You two share a contract don't you? You could talk with her when she was sealed in you, you can do it now too, right? Hurry up! Her entire body is cramping, she might suffer permanent damage if we don't stop this fit!"


Sakura's words had at least the effect of jolting Naruto to action. Within moments he was in his mindscape, once again in front of the monolith, the lines of the multi-tailed fox shining with a desperate quality. He dived through it almost without pause -

- and found himself amidst chaos.

Gone was the placid landscape that had adorned Kyuubi's corner inside (or was it alongside?) his mind. There was no floating door this time and Naruto was thrown unceremoniously to the ground. The grass was no longer the luscious green from before; instead, it was a strange blueish grey. The sky above, on other time so peaceful and clear, now revolved with cloud the colour of lead. There was a pattern to the movement: in the distance, the clouds homed in on a single spot, making it look like they were being sucked through a drain, like water in bathroom tub. There, thunderbolts adorned the spiral, a green, sickly, permanent tone that cast the world in an unnatural light.

Slightly disoriented, Naruto quickly scanned his surroundings. No matter where he looked, he couldn't get a clue as to where Kyuubi might be. There was no one waiting for him this time. The land was, literally, broken. In some places, gravity seemed to have been turned off completely, with chunks of rock and plants hurled into the air, where they stood floating, grotesque. The ground shook at irregular intervals.

"What the hell..."

Appropriate. It was indeed hell on earth. Or on the mind. Whatever – he wasn't leaving Kyuu-chan alone in here for a minute longer.

Naruto got to moving, for once throwing his ninja training to the winds and taking off at full speed. Any hypothetical dangers that might wait ahead were inconsequential; all that mattered was to get to Kyuu-chan as fast has possible.

Too bad the land didn't seem to agree.

For ages Naruto ran towards the point directly below the centre of the vortex, dodging debris, fighting against powerful gusts of wind. The ground seemed to rebel to his chosen path, breaking away the most unexpected of times, throwing rocks and boulders his way almost as if a conscience was guiding them and doing their absolute best to slow him down or stop him altogether. Well they didn't know him very well then, Naruto thought, grinding his teeth together as he blew his way through the burst of wind that had smashed against him.

His surroundings were broken. One minute he was running across a plain, the next he would be jumping over the debris of a tortured city, only to find himself in the middle of a wild jungle the next moment. There were ghosts too. Diffuse images and figures that walked back and forth, sometimes seeming to interact with each other but remaining absolutely indifferent to his present even when he accidentally ran through one of them. He was unable to understand what they said, though, and never stopped for long, an unexplained certainty telling him that Kyuubi was there, at the centre of the storm, and that she needed his help. Little by little a suspicion began to form in his mind: that these were memories or at least aspects of Kyuubi's past. Fractured because of the same thing that was causing the fit in the waking world.

His instincts seemed correct. For a while now, Naruto could hear sounds, screams and rumbles that rose above the background noise. Sounds of battle. He sped the pace up, as much as he could -

- and jumped into the worst war-zone he'd ever seen. It wasn't the destruction or the techniques. He was well used to doomsday attacks by now. It was the fact that here the environment changed unpredictably, all the terrains he had visited before seemed to condense at this nexus and one person would jump from a building in a destroyed city and land suddenly in a cliff, and then loose footing when it changed into a freezing iceberg. At least before he could prepare for the oncoming change; here everything was sudden and unexpected.

For a moment he stood, trying to make sense of the scene before him. There was a black shape, without clear form, looking like those blobs of phlegm he'd once seen Shikamaru throw out of his nose during a flu attack – only made of darkness and smoke instead of mucus. Then there was the fox, as tall as him, appearing to be made of shinning liquid, and giving off a raw feeling of wilderness, of feral aggressiveness, that immediately made him sure that that was not the Kyuubi he new – not even when she'd been a demon had she emitted such a feeling. It was raw power. The fox's paws connected to a human form, a few feet away, like a shadow made of light. It was feminine and it had white hair and Naruto knew it was her.

"Kyuu-chan!" he murmured, making way to her.

The two powers locked in combat seemed to abruptly realize he was there. Both the fox and the thing turned to pin him down with their stare and, for a moment, the blond froze, truly feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. Lightning reflexes came into play just at the nick of time and Naruto barely managed to dodge the attack that came from both entities.

"What the hell!" he screamed, pointing at the fox, "Jackass! I'm on your side!... I think." he amended, murmuring between his teeth.

The black thing seemed to have forgotten the existence of the fox and turned to focus all its attention on the newly arrived human. There was a sense of dark glee coming from the entity and it howled, a hideous mouth forming all across its figure, as if it didn't have a defined body. In an alien movement, it seemed to expand and send several tendrils of darkness with super-human speed towards the blond ninja.

Naruto dodged the best he could but even with his training he could tell he was starting to loose ground. The changing scenery didn't help matters and the fact that the damned fox seemed set into biting him in half didn't help either. But he pressed on refusing to back down, the characteristic stubbornness that so made friends and foes admire him (even if he himself didn't realise it) backing him up.

Whatever it was, though, the black being was relentless and, worse of all, didn't seem to get tired. Couple that with the fox's attacks and Naruto was quickly getting overwhelmed. He supposed his luck was bound to end, eventually. He just hoped it hadn't been then. The scenery suffered another ankle breaking change and, at the same time, both the fox and the black thing attacked simultaneously. He managed to dodge the fox. But then the ground he was expecting to land on wasn't there any more. Naruto stumbled... and darkness surrounded him.

When he came to his senses he was inside a barely lit room. There was a small table, next to him and a pillow to sit on. A bottle of sake sat on the table, along with two small cups. On the other side sat a perfect clone of himself.

"Welcome." It said, "Have a seat."

Naruto brought both his hands up, did a hand seal and tried to gather a bit of chakra.


The clone stayed put. So did the table and the drink. The cups were unfazed.

"Who are you?" Naruto asked, warily, narrowing his eyes suspiciously, "Let me out of this genjutsu!"

The clone paid him no heed, instead taking his time to fill both cups.

"I'm you." he said, after a moment, looking at the blond sardonically, "and this is not a genjutsu – although, even if it were you wouldn't know; nor would you have the means to exit it, since you can't use Chakra. Or did you forget it? That just now, was a pathetic waste of time."

"What do you mean, you're me?" Naruto said, frowning and lifting his hand to massage his forehead. His brain felt foggy, and his thoughts came slow.

His clone frowned as well ant twisted slightly to look behind him.

"Hey!" he barked, "stop it. I don't care what you think, the only way we are going to accept it is with complete understanding, so you may quit trying to trick him. Even if you succeed, it won't work on me and I won't allow it!" Despite having heard nothing but the voice of his double, Naruto had the vivid feeling his companion was conducting a conversation with someone else. That was a silhouette, behind him, wasn't it?

Naruto gasped. There was something there. It was dark, completely made of shadows and it had no defining feature, although it looked humanoid. His double turned back to him with an approving expression.

"Yeah, it's there," he said.

"What is it?" Naruto asked.

"Power." was the answer, "Or, at least, the promise of power."

Something about it made Naruto feel really uncomfortable.

"I don't like it. I want nothing to do with it."

His clone took a sip of the cup and his expression turned disapproving.

"Don't be hasty. Even after everything Kyuu-chan taught us, you still go around jumping to conclusions."

"It feels evil!"

"Sure." his double agreed with a sagely nod, "doesn't mean we can't use it though. But to try and answer your question, I think it is a corrupter."

"A what?"

"A corrupter." his clone enunciated more clearly, "a being that tries to corrupt others to his own advantages. I think it was alive back when the Avatars were young, it may even have contended with them..." he said, thoughtfully, as if the presence of an ancient evil was nothing more than an academic curiosity, "or, it might just be tainted Chakra, like the one the Snake idiot injected on the Bastard." It concluded, gulping down the liquid, "It offers us the means to get what we want. I think we should take it. Won't you have a drink?" he asked, looking expectantly at Naruto while filling his cup a second time.

"You really expect me to drink something offered to me by a guy who wants to accept an offer from something he just admitted intends only to use and discard us?" Naruto fired back sarcastically.

"I'm not some enemy ninja trying to get you into a trap. I told you: I'm you. Or rather, I'm a part of you." he clarified.

"Right." Naruto sneered, "Next you're going to be telling me how you're my evil half or some such..."

"Don't be silly." his counterpart snorted, "I'm nothing of the sort. I'm the part of you that wants things. The part of you who wants back Mum and Dad. The part of you that wants to tap Sakura-chan's ass and jiggle Kyuu-chans boobs. I'm the part of you that wants to posses all the women in the world, wants all the power there is. I'm the part of you that's preoccupied the base things in life: food, sex, sleep, freedom, survival. The important things. I'm you're desires, hopes and worries given form. Sakura or Baa-chan would probably call me your subconscious. This is you're mind. In here, we are Gods."

"The point is," he continued, without giving Naruto the chance to interrupt, "it's power can help us achieve everything we want."

"And I suppose there's no catch to it." Naruto said. Calmly, actually taking the cup and sipping from it. The fog in his head cleared. He was inclined to believe in what his alter-ego said, mainly because he couldn't see the Flow. And the only places where he hadn't been able to see it since he got back from the dead had been while dreaming – or while inside his mindscape.

"Well." the other said slyly, "it would try to control us, of course. But I think we're stubborn enough to win over him. I have faith in us – one of us two as to, after all." he sobered, "But you have to terminate the contract with Kyuubi."

"Forget it." Naruto said immediately, slamming the cup on the table, "Out of the question."

His double turned back as if hearing something. Then he addressed him again, "I'm told you could also corrupt the contract and let it take control of the goddess. Then we would still get her."

"Sure, that's great." Naruto replied caustically, "let's al behave like Uchiha-teme, shall we? And what's with you? I thought you valued freedom. And you're so quick to consider robbing Kyuu-chan of it?"

His double hummed pensively. Then he turned to the shadow and said, "You know, he raises a valid point. You're not getting any friends here. But still," he turned back to him, "One shouldn't dismiss an offer of power just like that. The amount we're talking about just might be what we need to assure the security of everyone that matters to us."

"Or destroy it." Naruto fired back, "I don't trust it and I don't need it. We don't need it. All our goals, all we want to achieve, it would be meaningless if we got them with this borrowed power." he sit the borrowed word as if it were a dirty word, "We'll be famous, we'll get a family and we'll be Hokage. But we'll do it under our own power! So thanks, but no thanks!" he concluded, passionately.

His subconscious gave him a rueful smile. But a smile that seemed to hold approval in it. Then he turned to the shadow.

"Well, there you have it. Seems we won't be needing your services. Run along, now."

The shadow did not move and the clone groaned impatiently. Then he spoke to Naruto.

"It's being stubborn and refusing to leave. I'm guessing it isn't used to being denied."

"Can't you just eject it or something? You did say we were Gods, in here." Naruto said.

"I also said I just worry about things." his double pointed out. "I don't do anything, you're the one that makes the decisions. I give you counsel, but you're the one who gets things moving."

Naruto didn't need to be told anything else. Focusing his will with all the power he had, something his experiences with the Flow turned into an overwhelming weapon on its own, he concentrated on, not just throwing the thing out of his mind but destroy it in an attempt to prevent further problems to others.

The pressure built until it exploded and suddenly Naruto was back in the mindscape of the contract lands. There was a shriek, a high pitched, ear-piercing scream of agony and unmeasurable hate, and the black thing bloated and grew like an overinflated balloon and exploded into countless, harmless pieces, disappearing.

Naruto fell to his knees, momentarily exhausted. Then he heard a groan.


Quickly, he made his way to her, absently noting how the fox has disappeared and how the girl once again sported the ears and tails he'd come to associate with her.

She seemed confused, rambling about odd things, like she had been in the waking world.

"Failed..." she murmured, "I failed. I was the last one. The strongest one. I should have protected them. But I failed. Instead the Tenth and the Eleventh sacrificed themselves to keep us, keep me safe. 'Too young' the old man said, needed to experience life. Experience love. To live before dying. But I failed... I won't see him again... my Naruto..."

Naruto was suddenly assaulted by an irrational fear that Kyuubi might die.

"Kyuu-chan..." he called, reaching for her face with trembling hands, "Kyuu-chan?" he said more forcefully, when she didn't appear to register his presence.

Her head turned to him and her eyes focused on his face, searching.

"Naruto?" she asked, almost incredulously, it seemed to him.

He nodded, too worried for words.

"How? You had died, I saw it." she paused, "I'm dying, aren't I? This is just the last torture before the end. I'm hallucinating. The Nightshade has come for me. And it is cruel enough to torture me with your face." she broke down crying.

"Kyuu-chan!" Naruto called again, grabbing her face and forcing her to face him, "I'm here. This is real! We're inside our heads. Within the contract. Remember? We were in the facility beneath Uzushio, when Sakura-chan kicked that skull?"

"I... I remember..." Kyuubi admitted, haltingly, "But that was before." she progressed, despairingly, "The Nightshade came, and it killed you and then Sakura and Jiraiya. And then it took me. To torture me for eternity. Please, leave me, I beg you. If there's something of the old Naruto in this construct please let me die in peace!"

"NO!" Naruto screamed, starting her, "Don't. Say. That." he pressed, hugging her in reflex, terrified, "You're not dead, you're not dying, no one's dead. It was that black thing. It was all that black thing, Kyuu-chan. But it's no more, I destroyed it. Please! You have to believe me!"

"You... You drove the Nightshade away?!" she asked, wonderingly.

"It wanted me to break my contract with you. I won't ever do that." he said, calmly, grabbing her shoulders and pushing her away slightly in order to look straight into her eyes, "I'm alive, Kyuu-chan. This is our mind. Please believe me." he begged, "Please don't leave me. I love you! I don't want to lose you."

"W-What?" Kyuubi asked, chocking on her words.

"I love you." he repeated, more clearly, more secure. Certain of his feelings, for once. His conversation with his subconscious and the subsequent events having finally making him throw doubts and caution into the wind and just wing it. "Or at least, I think I do. I don't know enough about love to know if what I'm feeling is love, but..." he hesitated, realising he was starting to babble.

Kyuubi was looking at him, shocked. Then a single tear ran down her cheek. Clumsily, Naruto wiped it with his dirty thumb, revelling in the soft feeling of her skin. How ironic he never really thought about it before.

"I love you as well..." she whispered, almost inaudibly.

Their heads were closer now, very close. Kyuubi's hair and fur, from head to toe, were getting progressively whiter, to the point where they veritably shined against the background ambience. And in one final, mutual motion, both Naruto and Kyuubi moved in to close the distance... And promptly bumped into each others noses.

Before he could avoid it, Naruto had to let out a laugh. His face burned with heat and he was sure it must be as flushed as Kyuubi's, but he wasn't about to let embarrassment ruin the moment. He would seize what he wanted, just like he had promised his other self.

"That didn't turn out very well." he mumbled, smiling at Kyuubi.

"No, it didn't..." she agreed, mirroring him.

By mutual, silent consent, they tried again, this time tilting their heads.

It was awkward and far from perfect. A light kiss that didn't venture too much into the unknown. But it was enough. When they separated, Kyuubi let out a sigh of contentment.

"Are you really real?" She asked, keeping her eyes closed and resting her face on his shoulder.

"Yes." he confirmed, "I am. Let's go back, Kyuu-chan. I want to know if this feels as nice in the real world as in this mindscape!" he joked.

When Naruto woke up, he was surprised to find himself above ground. The light from the sun filtered down from the top of the trees and gave an overall feeling of peace. Then a form blocked it and he found himself staring at the happy, radiant face of Kyuubi.

"You're awake!" she exclaimed, sounding almost giddy with happiness.

"Kyuu-chan..." he murmured, feeling his throat raw and his muscles tired, "Where are we?"

"Outside, near the outskirts of Uzushiogakure." she answered, "Jiraiya-sensei and Sakura just returned from exploring the facility."

"THEY WHAT?!" Naruto bellowed trying to get up.

Kyuubi pressed her hands against his chest and got him back down, "Don't worry. There was nothing there. No creatures. Nothing. But they did get a new destination. It seems the box updated when they reached the control room. There's a new facility marked on the map. It's in Rock."

"What are we going to do, then?" he asked, unable to suppress a yawn.

"We're going to rest. And then decide the next course of action. But that's for latter. You need to rest, my love. Fighting off the Nightshade is tasking on the body and mind."

Naruto smiled foolishly at her.

"What is it?" she asked, curious.

"You called me your love." He clarified, with noticeable happiness.

She smiled down at him, red colouring her cheeks once more.

"I did. I love you. I'm yours forever."

For better or worse an odd voice sounded in Naruto's head.

Kyuubi traced her fingers along the line of his jaw in a loving, tender gesture.

"Rest." she said, bowing down to deposit a kiss in Naruto's lips that made his insides turn into liquid warmth, "I will be here, when you wake up. My beloved."

A/N.: There. The latest chapter.

Sorry it took so long, I got stuck in the middle of this thing. I'm not sure if it can be even called writter block, since I knew exactly what I wanted to say and write and it just. wouldn't. come. out!

Anyways, it ended up spiraling totaly beyond my control, and went in a directin I was not expecting, yet welcome.

Naruto and Kyuubi finally together. For those who had been waiting, I hope I managed not to ruin it completely. I'm not satisfied with how it came out, nut then again I probably never would be and this chapter would never be released.

How will Sakura react to it? Or the fan girls for that matter?! Dun-dun-dun-duuuun!

And finally a glimpse of the Nightshade. What is it? What are its goals? Suggestions welcome: A very early reviewer, back in the very beggining, when this story was still called Through the Neverending Stream of Life, brushed across the truth.

I expect the next chapter will come quicker, but by this time you guys know better than to trust me.