What is Love?

Book 3

Darkness Comes

Chapter 6

The sound nin frowned as he approached the bridge that would lead them closer to Konoha traveled roads.

Orochimaru had been very specific about their mission he wasn't looking to capture prisoners so much as demoralize the shinobi and citizens of the leaf village.

The jonin shrugged as he really didn't care.

So far out of all the 'victims' they had encountered he enjoyed the merchants the best.

Granted…they weren't really on the hit list that Orochimaru had outlined for all the teams doing this, but when they raped any women encountered and they returned to their home village, it made more merchants reluctant to leave and grumble loudly about their lack of proper protection.

It made what the snake planned easier and he rewarded them well for every group they took out and or terrorized.

Plunder, murder, and rape were the order of the day, and he would enjoy what he was able to get. Anytime.

The man nodded to his two companions as they heard noises up ahead and the three spread out to come at whatever it was from different directions, giving it no chance to escape, what greeted them turned out to be the one thing none of them wanted to meet.

"I was wondering if I would encounter any of you bastards today…so glad you could oblige me."

The leader, the jonin from the sound glared at the boy, because he knew him from description and reputation though he believed very little of the stories he had heard. Just bullshit propaganda from the leaf to scare off the weak. He thought with a confident smirk forming on his face. "Uzumaki Naruto…container of the nine tailed fox. I hope you've brought more with you then your mouth…I've been itching for action…though I don't think a pipsqueak like you could provide me more then a moments distraction." The words were meant to cause Naruto to bristle up in anger, but it didn't have the desired effect.

The man may have been taller then Naruto, but that didn't make him anywhere near being a pipsqueak.

Naruto smirked but shook his head as he stood and cracked his back, seemingly oblivious to the insult. "Oh don't worry, I got more. I got more then you could ever handle." He said before he snapped his fingers and Hinata stepped out of the brush followed by Hanabi who carried Cumo as always. The fox kit growled at the sound ninja which made him snicker because it was like a mouse squeaking at a hungry alley cat in defiance. If only he knew.

When the two kunoichii took up casual stances on either side of Naruto, the jonin giggled a few times before he fell into full blown laughter. Team Naruto (As they will now be called) didn't move or say a word until the ninja gasped for air, and even his companions came out and shared the laugh. "This is it? This is all the bold Uzumaki Naruto has to offer? Two other gennin, both female…which is good for us I might add…and looking no stronger then the day they graduated the academy? The leaf must truly be in dire straights to send you."

Naruto looked at both of his wives then shrugged as he looked back at the jonin. "Is that so? Tell you what…take out your weapons, and put on your best game face. I'll wait until you're ready." Naruto mumbled as he yawned then put his hands in his pockets.

The jonin frowned as he looked at his companions but loosened his ninja shoge and twirled the weight on the other end of the chain, his companions inching closer. "Ok…I'll bite, what makes you think you are any sort of threat to me?"

Naruto looked bored for a moment then yawned again before speaking. "To tell the truth, I could have killed you some time ago while you were skulking through the brush looking for your next target. I thought it would be more fun to let you get closer to give you a false sense of confidence. But to make your deaths even worse for you…I'm not gonna move a muscle…in fact, my wives are gonna sit over there on that log and not help at all, and I'm even going to leave my hands in my pockets. How's that for unbelievable?"

The Jonin blinked in surprise then scoffed at him. There was no way in the nine hells this kid was that good. Last report he read he could barely tie his shoes! "Really? Well alright! C'mon boys…first we beat the shit out of him, then we get to pound some leaf pussy!"

His compatriots got closer, each holding a standard ninja weapon, but one of them was smart enough to realize something was off. "I don't know about this…no one is that stupid…" The jonin laughed before he shook his head. "You haven't heard the stories? This kid used to run around in a bright orange jump suit practically yelling to people how he was going to be hokage…and that was while he was trying to keep a low profile. The jonin laughed and both chunnin joined him, but the one still felt a little uneasy. Looking at the boy was a bit unnerving as he still hadn't moved and literally had his eyes half closed as if truly bored.

Could the kid really be this stupid?

Naruto, still hadn't moved as Hinata and Hanabi got comfortable on the log and waited patiently. "Oh come on already…I'm gonna fall asleep waiting for you and the day's a wasting. I'll make it even sweeter…I'll count to three and I guarantee that when I hit three, you'll all be dead before you can move."

The Jonin frowned then chuckled lightly. "Alright kid. You got guts I'll give you that…shit for brains, but definitely guts. I guess we might as well do this then. Any last words you want on your tombstone?"

Naruto smirked then nodded. "Yeah…don't threaten my wives…that was the final nail in your coffin." Before he rocked back on his heels, looking up at the sky. "One."

All three sound shinobi tensed up as they waited for the count to continue. Only the one chunnin who was cautious earlier was still looking cautious, but they all tensed in preparation. "Two."

Naruto intoned, hands still in his pockets before he took a deep breath and let it out. Just when the jonin thought Naruto was going to say three, a flash of pain went through him, but nothing else happened as he stood there.

He wanted to laugh, to point out how they were going to beat Naruto within an inch of his life, then rape his wives brutally in front of him before they kill him and send Hinata and Hanabi back to the leaf village in terrified shame at how easily they were taken, but he couldn't make his mouth move, or his arms or legs for that matter. As he tried to turn his head he heard a sickening squelching sound…like meat sliding against meat, before his head hit the ground with the rest of his body parts falling in different directions.

His last thoughts before his brain died was the sight of the enormous fox with nine tails sitting on its haunches next to Naruto, licking what looked like blood from its large, razor sharp claws. If he could frown he would have because he just learned the hard way that the rumors, despite anything he previously may have thought, were definitely true.

If the jonin had been able to look around as he wanted to earlier, he would have seen his two companions would soon be joining him as the one who was more cautious lay on the ground with his internal organs lying around him, spilled from the gaping cavity that was his chest and abdomen, and the third of the trio was no better off then the leader as his body had been scattered in the small area as well.


Naruto took a deep breath again then let it out slowly.

Seeing the carnage was never easy. He didn't enjoy killing or seeing someone die, especially if he knew them…but he well knew what had to be done and would do it as long as he had to. This was the third such encounter they had with the sound ninjas since this began and thus far they had suffered not at all…the sound ninjas were not as fortunate.

Hinata was much the same as her husband. She had seen death and had dished it out in the past against enemies both foreign and domestic…but she hated it just as much as a child hates spinach. If she could she would avoid it altogether because she was a helper…a healer by nature. But even she knew it was necessary to take life especially to preserve it. That and discovering that these enemies would do such things as they had been to demoralize the leaf…was more then her delicate sensibilities could stand and therefore they had to die. As it were however…she would do what she had to and then she and Naruto would comfort each other later.

Hanabi…was not so fortunate.

She stood to the side and retched quietly while Cumo whined to her in a pitying manner.

Hinata walked over and rubbed her sister's back until she was breathing steady again. "Are you alright Hanabi?"

The young kunoichi had yet to graduate, and officially was not yet a ninja…but Tsunade decided rather then have her complete the last year she would graduate trial by fire.

While highly unorthodox…it was the hokage's right to decide who made the grade and who didn't. Academically Hanabi was well above the rest of her class's standards, testing with near perfect scores, and her taijutsu was top notch as she had learned two styles and was working on a third. Most of her class knew only one or most of the academy basics.

With that in mind and the fact that she seemed to excel even more around her husband and sister Tsunade made the decision to let her go on this mission and see how she performed. If all went well, she would officially be made a leaf gennin.

The leaf was still a bit shorthanded since the sand sound invasion, despite all that was done to bolster their ranks. Since this was the case, a new plan for advanced students was being created…and Hanabi was the test dummy.

The hope was she wouldn't crash and burn.

The girl nodded slightly and grimaced before she stood straight again. "I'll be fine…I ..I'm just having trouble getting used to seeing that!"

To emphasize the point, Hanabi heaved in the direction of the now dismembered bodies but fought and barely succeeded in keeping her gorge down this time.

Hinata nodded in sympathy. She still remembered her first kill on a mission and how hard it was for her to deal with…but Hanabi seemed to be taking it that much harder. The other problem would be that the woman Hinata had killed on her first mission was a clean kill, a blow to the heart that killed her immediately. What they had done so far had been bloody and gruesome so Hinata easily understood what her sister was going through.

Naruto frowned at the two, but shrugged before he summoned a few shadow clones and had them begin arranging the bodies in front of the bridge. While he didn't enjoy this…he had his orders and would do what was necessary. "I got this…why don't you two sit down and rest…it was a long walk here and it will be an even longer walk to the next bridge."

The two looked at him and nodded before they sat on the log again. Neither looked to see what Naruto was doing. Hanabi because she didn't want to lose her lunch again and Hinata because like Naruto found desecrating the dead to be distasteful…even if they did have no choice.

It didn't take long, and after Naruto was done, he came over and squatted in front of them, wrinkling his nose at the smell before Hanabi spoke to him. "We're going to another checkpoint?"

Naruto nodded briefly before he gestured with his head to the east. "I don't know how but these bastards have mapped the more travelled caravan routes."

Hanabi blinked before she shook her head at Naruto. "Well that's easy…the main roads are always the most heavily travelled."

Naruto shook his head in return before he produced a paper with names on it. Next to each name was a date and time frame. "It looks like they know when and who is travelling in a caravan and hitting them specifically. I found this on that first guy with the big mouth. Either the merchants talk too much, or someone is stalking them and reporting back to the snake."

Hinata frowned but Hanabi spoke up quickly. "Naruto-kun…couldn't this just be a coincidence…or a list of people travelling in the same caravan?"

Naruto frowned slightly before he shook his head negatively and pointed to the paper. "No…I don't know all of them, but I know these two and they hate each other so them travelling together in the same caravan would be odd to say the least. It is possible they're travelling in a group to watch out for each other…but the different times beside each name makes that unlikely. If this list is accurate this merchant should be reaching the next bridge somewhere in the next two hours according to this. I think its best that we get there just in case…besides, we haven't decorated that one yet."

Hinata gave her husband the fish eye while Hanabi grimaced before holding her stomach. "You're not going do that again are you?"

Naruto smirked before he got to his feet again. "It's a strong possibility."

Hanabi closed her eyes and breathed deeply before she shook the image away. "Well don't get mad at me if I puke on you again."

Naruto smirked as he helped the two up and they turned towards the east. "In that case I definitely won't hold you until you're over it."

Nothing else was said as they entered the brush to continue on the next leg of their journey, and the only sound were the flies beginning to feast on the remains of dead ninja.

When later discovered, the grisly remains would be a constant reminder in the back of the viewer's mind.

A reminder that war was not a casual thing, but very ugly.

Naruto had arranged the bodies so the parts formed a small pyramid, and at the center of the pyramid was the body of the man who was eviscerated. In the cavity were the heads of all three men, looks of shock and surprise frozen there until time eroded the flesh away.

A small sign held in the hands of all three dead men said all that needed to be said. 'Enemies of the leaf…beware.'


Tsunade sat at her desk and groused at the constantly growing pile of reports and other paperwork. While the saying says that war is good for the economy…it sucks for the administration…or the persons doing the paperwork.

With another discontent grumble Tsunade pulled a folder from the desk and opened it and read over the report.

With her hearing of how Naruto was treated and the deficiencies in the teaching curriculum, the hokage sat down and with some guidance reordered the teachers and administration and added some much needed ninja skills and jutsu to the curriculum, and removed some things that just seemed useless.

The children were still taught how to read and write, and other skills like arithmetic and even history, but advanced math classes and writing skills were eliminated and left for civilian schools.

I mean really…algebra, calculus, plain and solid geometry? Are we teaching them to be ninja or scholars? She grumbled to herself.

It's a damn good thing I became hokage…otherwise the only way new ninja would be able to succeed would be to hit the enemy with those damn books!

Tsunade was all for learning…but learning things that would be useful to their trade.

The medical classes she had established were complex and so far was showing great success to the students that attended them and that she was very proud of. While some of the students wouldn't become doctors, they would be great field medics and it would give their teams a better chance for survival.

Yes the newest students looked very promising which was good because they were once again low on ninja and with things heating up they could not afford to stay that way.

She didn't want to throw any of her people into the grinder, but this next crop of genin would be in the field faster then normal.

She read the names again and smiled at the few she recognized, and hoped that none of them would have to be used on the line…but if they had to, then as hokage she would do what she must.

Laying the roster aside she looked at the picture of Naruto, Hinata, and Hanabi that sat on her desk from their recent wedding and smiled. She hoped again that the gaki was alright and that his wives were safe as well.

The last she heard they had their first encounter and defeated a group of sound nin and began their campaign of terror against the snake.

While she didn't even agree with her order on the inside, she knew that this was the best way to deter any further incidents from Orochimaru's men.

Since officially there was no war declared, they could only shuffle troops around to show the bordering, but Tsunade was certain a blow up would occur soon once they ventured into their territory.

The incursions at the time were only made in contested land, and so far no one had made any arguments or noise about having their freedoms taken away so Konoha's official position was to thump their chest and posture in hopes the others would not cross the line…but Tsunade like everyone else knew it was a matter of time before the other three villages tried to call their bluff.

She only hoped it was strong enough to buy them more time if not get them to back down completely.


Neji smiled slightly as he looked over to Tenten who was practicing her throwing with the oddest assortment of weapons.

Maces, hammers, lion swords, battle axes…he found it amusing and still would smirk every so often at her, but in truth he found it bizarre. When he had asked she told him what he already understood from viewing her in previous times. "You never know when you'll have to throw a different type of weapon at an enemy, and I think it's better to be prepared for that eventuality with some degree of hope to kill that enemy, then to throw something and have to rely on blind luck."

He couldn't help but agree, but it was still strange to watch.

"I hope Naruto and his wives are doing well. Tsunade-sama said their mission was highly important and she wanted to keep the details under wraps. While I agree with the secrecy, it would have been nice to know something about them and what they were up to."

Tenten stopped in mid throw and lowered the naginata that she was about to hurl and smiled at her future husband. "Nushi…are you worried about our friends?"

Neji smirked as he began a new Kata and continued the conversation. "Of course. They are family, and while they are also part of the experiment, Naruto has become quite sociable with me."

Tenten wiped her brow as she grinned wider at Neji. "And you worry about him as a friend would."

Neji's eyes darted to her for a moment before he shrugged. "It is not impossible that I view him that way. Mostly though I do not want to see a competent shinobi fall before his time. I feel the story of Uzumaki Naruto is only just beginning."

Tenten still smirking turned and aimed at the target again before throwing the polearm at her full strength. "Sure Nushi…and Tsunade doesn't drink or gamble."

Neji grunted in response as he continued his practice, but as he began to put effort into his movements he couldn't help but smile as he remembered some of his friend's antics. Be safe Naruto…you and your wives. He thought briefly before he cleared his mind and concentrated on his practice.


Naruto frowned as he stood panting on the bridge, two sound nin bodies lying at his feet while a merchant crouched shaking in terror next to his wagon. He..he moved like the wind…and he cut those two down like nothing…and what was that thing that tried to come out of him?


The sounds of weapons clashing made Naruto hurry forward until he could see the bridge and the merchant with his bodyguards being engaged by sound shinobi.

Thinking ahead he tried to release Fana, but found he couldn't. It was like the fox was stuck.

"Come on pops! Get your ass in gear!"

Fana not having much luck tried to force his way out but it caused Naruto to almost drop as a sharp pain, something that felt like the lower half of his body had been ripped off raged through him.

Kit, we seem to have hit a wall with our abilities! You have to take them down without me!

Naruto grumbled as he got his bearings and charged forward with his ritualistic cry, "Kage bunshin no jutsu!" and twenty clones of the blond appeared and charged on with the original to cause mayhem and destruction.

In a fit of inspiration, Naruto envisioned himself with Fana's powerful muscles in his legs and arms and growled impressively as he applied chakra and felt almost as if he doubled in size.

Just remember…I want those back!

The great fox sad sarcastically. Naruto only chuckled.

Hinata and Hanabi reached the clearing and watched as Naruto struck at the enemy ninja and made them pay dearly for the damage they had caused now, in the past, and to make sure they caused no more in the future.

Surprisingly, his clones began to drop quickly and one of the ninja pulled away from Naruto and charged Hinata and Hanabi, but soon found out female, didn't mean helpless.

Hinata dropped low with a feral grin and thrust her hands forward with a shout of, "Earth Jutsu: Undertow!" and the sound ninja caught by surprise felt the ground grab his feet and push him back a few steps but then as he went off balance it yanked back with the motion of Hinata's hands, pulling him off his feet and onto his back hard where Hanabi jumped astride his chest and with a single deadly palm strike caused the nins heart to explode internally.

The man's face showed shock and surprise then horror just before his eyes half closed and he died as painfully as he lived, only this time he suffered instead of someone else.

Hinata moved swiftly forward while Hanabi finished the sound nin, but Naruto already had the other two on the ground and dying, but at the same time the merchant's guards also lay on the ground, and neither were moving.

Hinata looked concerned at Naruto but he waved her off as he gasped. "Check the merchant…I'm fine."

Hinata nodded and strode over to the merchant who still cowered next to his wagon, not sure what to think now.

Hinata stopped a few feet from him and spoke quietly to put him at ease. "Are you alright? We won't hurt you sir, we are ninja from Konoha and we are trying to keep the trade routes safe."

The man looked from her to Naruto a few times before he finally nodded still looking a bit pale. "Y..yes. I wasn't hurt…just scared."

Hinata nodded as she went over and carefully checked his guards and sighed in frustration. Both guards were fatally wounded and had succumbed to their injuries as one bled to death from his throat being neatly sliced open, and the other seemed to die with a horrified expression on his face. Possibly he became the victim of a particularly nasty genjutsu since there were no marks visible on him. It was just more proof to anyone that cared to listen that ordinary guards could not measure up against trained ninja."It appears your guards are dead…I am sorry." She quietly intoned to the man still cowering by his cart.

The merchant nodded absently but said nothing and she noticed he was still staring at Naruto.

Naruto was still breathing hard, something he seldom did now and Hinata got a slightly worried look on her face.

Unknown to her there was an internal debate going on.

"So why couldn't you come out?" he asked his captive as he tried to catch his breath. "And why am I so shagged? I haven't felt this exhausted in as long as I can remember."

Fana shook his head in a rather human gesture but he sounded just as confused as Naruto.

"I don't know. Perhaps you need to practice more…or perhaps there is a limit to what your body can do concerning my energy. I do know this would have been the fourth time you tried to pull me out…and even I am tired from the experience so obviously it is something to only be used when necessary."

Naruto nodded as he thought about it and could only agree. Of course it would be too easy to keep pulling the fox out to attack his enemies…and why should this be easy? He thought to himself a little bitterly before he shrugged his shoulders. "Well not much we can do about it is there? We'll just have to be more cautious in the future since there seems to be a limit to it."

Fana shrugged helplessly before he frowned at Naruto.

"There are ways around it kit…one way is a new technique I can teach you…but we

can wait on that until we are back in the village and have time to work on it.

In the meantime we can 'decorate' the bridge and escort the merchant to his

destination and we can rest a day or two before we continue our guerilla tactics."

Naruto nodded as it seemed like the only option open to them and Hanabi needed his

attention as she was still retching occasionally away from Hinata and himself.

Naruto walked over and put a hand on her shoulder and she turned and smiled weakly at him as Cumo whined at the two of them.

"I'm sorry Naruto-kun…I just need to get used to this."

Naruto nodded and rubbed her shoulder as he smiled at her. "No worries Firecracker. It's never easy, but in time you will look more away from the action and more towards the goal so that it doesn't hit you so hard."

Hanabi nodded before she stood straight, once again holding Cumo in her arms. "Thank you Naruto-kun. I will be fine."

Naruto nodded before he created a few kage bunshin. "Well we better get moving…my clones are about to do the nasty."

Hanabi burped, a hand shooting up to cover how mouth…and not in a good way as she fought to hold any unpleasantness back but hurried up the path back in the direction they came. Hinata came next with the merchant, closely followed by one of Naruto's clones pulling the merchant's cart, while the other two went to work on the Oto shinobi.

When Naruto noticed what they had begun to do, even he lost a bit of his color before he shouted at them. "OY where the hell did you learn that? Am I that sick in my mind?" His clones only gave a Victory sign and a shout of "Yosh!" as they continued their grisly work. Naruto watched for a few more seconds then decided that if he didn't get out of there he wouldn't be able to eat for a week. Turning quickly, Naruto hurried after his mates.


Two days later…

Orochimaru was furious as he got the report of a handful of his shinobi deserting.

Granted…none of them made it very far, but it was the thought that they would even try that had him so angry.

"Fools and pantywaists. That is what I have in my ranks…fools and pantywaists!"

Orochimaru chucked the clip board across the room where it shattered against the wall before he crossed his legs and cupped his chin thoughtfully. I will have to give her credit though…I never would have thought Tsunade had it in her to pull something like this off. Using terror tactics to sow dissent in my ranks…truly inventive slug princess…especially the last bridge...decorating the rails of the bridge with his mens body parts and organs was truly inspiring...but you forget that I am the master of mind games. I will just have to step up my own tactics. He thought before he gave a slight smirk. "Kukuku." He chuckled quietly as his subordinate waited. "Kabuto-kun…you may begin the next step of your program. I expect great results and I will not tolerate failure."

Kabuto bowed to Orochimaru as he smiled. "It will be as you command Orochimaru-sama."

With those words the med nin turned and left the room to put his master plan into effect.

Orochimaru grinned before he fell into full blown laughter. "Kukukukuku! Oh yes Tsunade…you struck a good blow against me…but I'm about to show you just how outmatched you truly are."


Tsunade came out of the operating theater with a grim look on her face…but it was tempered by the fact that her patient survived and was on the road to recovery.

Shizune came out seconds later and pulled off her gloves with a sigh before she joined her mentor at the window. "It's a good thing you were able to stabilize him before you got him back. If not for your skills Shizune I don't think he would have survived…it's actually amazing that he held on as long as he did."

Shizune blushed lightly before she nodded her thanks to the Lady hokage. "I'm glad I was able to help him Lady Tsunade. When I got there Lee was a mess…to be honest I didn't know where to start and I was constantly afraid he would die on me."

Tsunade smirked but pat her apprentice on the shoulder. "Don't sell yourself short Shizune. You have more talent in your little finger then most med nins that I have seen. You are a pride to the profession…never forget that."

Shizune blinked in surprise at her mentor before she reached out to touch her mentor's forehead. "Are you alright Lady Tsunade? Maybe you were in there for too long."

Tsunade smirked before she batted Shizune's hand away. "Cut it out brat. You aren't so old I won't put you over my knee."

Shizune giggled a moment before she looked out the window. "You know lady…there has been some really strange happenings for us since we got here…there are times I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to stay on the run from your creditors."

Tsunade laughed and lightly smacked Shizune on the shoulder before she wrapped an arm around apprentice and gave her a squeeze. "Well to be honest there have been plenty of times that I would have agreed with you…but there honestly only one reason why I have stayed and even took this job."

Shizune nodded before also smiled at the blond in her mind. "Naruto."

Tsunade nodded as she too looked out over the horizon, the sun slowly dipping and making the hokage monument glow slightly purple. As she looked she could almost see in her mind's eye her face on the monument, and then right next to hers the blond whisker marked teen with his self assured smile radiating for all of Konoha to see.

"If that damn Gaki hadn't put a rasengan into that prick Kabuto's chest…I wouldn't be here…but between you and me…I saw Dan and Nawaki both rolled up into that one hyperactive obnoxious blond package and something inside me lit up again…something that I thought had died long ago. At that moment I knew that if I couldn't avoid it…I wouldn't let him down."

Shizune looked a little surprised at her mentor before she smiled again and watched the sun say its goodbye for the day. "I know what you mean. There is just something about him. His confidence…his unwillingness to quit…I don't know, call it whatever you want. All I know is life around here is a lot brighter while he's here."

Tsunade grinned as she nodded.

There were some things to be happy for.

Lee while injured was back in Konoha and on the mend. There had been no new reports of Orochimaru's forces attacking civilians since Tsunade's 'terror' tactics began, and despite recent incidents and pains the leaf was still around.

Tsunade and Shizune both knew that things wouldn't always look so bright, but they would take each challenge as it came.


The merchant had parted ways with Team Naruto once they got him from the immediate vicinity of grass country and decided to relax the night since they had accomplished what they had wanted.

Another team would relieve them in a few days mainly to watch for any more incidents until they had rested and refueled so to speak.

In the meantime, they were going to get a good night sleep before they returned to what Shikamaru would call their 'troublesome duty'."

Hinata after talking to the merchant discovered why he had been so frightened.

"Well Naru-kun…it wasn't just the sound nin that terrified that poor man…it was you."

Naruto blinked at Hinata in surprise, his mouth dropping open. Although he had suspected that was the case, he wasn't one hundred percent sure, but he was hoping he was wrong. "Well…why was he scared of me?"

Hinata frowned as Hanabi scooted closer and hugged her sister around her middle. "Well he said it looked like something was trying to come out of you…or like you had grown another set of arms with paws instead of hands."

Naruto frowned at this as he looked down at himself and wondered if that was the point where he tried to get Fana to appear again but couldn't. "Hmmm. I don't know Hina-chan…I did have a problem pulling Fana out in that fight so I wonder if that was what he saw…"

Fana interrupted his thoughts but it surprised Naruto as the great fox sounded more tired then he had ever previously.

Kit…while the new configuration of the seal gives the chance to us to experience and live life at a new level…it seems to be draining us both more then normal whenever we use it to split us.

Naruto blinked at the fox before he shrugged. "But…Hinata and Auri use it the same way…and they don't seem to be affected like us."

Fana grumbled before he cracked both eyes and looked at Naruto patiently.

And how often does Hinata and Auri split from each other compared to us?

Naruto blushed then nodded his head quickly. "Oh…right…good point." Naruto took a deep breath and sighed as he considered before he asked. "Then what are we supposed to do? I mean that's one of our best moves! I mean I call you, you come out, then we kick ass!"

The great fox chuckled before he blinked slowly and yawned.

Well…you do have all of your other abilities…the Kurodenkogan, your taijutsu, your impressive arsenal of jutsu…and you can even still use my abilities as long as you have chakra…but you have to understand son…once I am out you will feel the drain…but it is not as severe as when we initially separate. You could keep me out and active for a full day, or pull me out at least three times.

If I wasn't bound to you soul to soul…it may have been different but you have to remember…everything has limits.

Fana almost snickered at the young man as his bottom lip poked out in disappointment but instead swatted him with his tail making him jump. With a yelp.

Now, now…none of that. There are still a lot of things you can do including the newest thing which I will teach you.

Naruto perked up at this with a grin even as he was still rubbing his backside. "Really? What?"

Fana laughed for a moment before he lay on his side with another yawn.

The fusion.

Naruto frowned as he sat near the old fox and wondered what he meant before he finally closed his eyes again.

We will talk more of it tomorrow…for now I wish to sleep and regain my energy, and you should as well. Besides…your mates are waiting to snuggle with you.

Sure enough when Naruto left his mindscape both girls gripped him tightly and pulled him to the floor. "W..wait! let me set the guards first!"

Both Hinata and Hanabi giggled as Naruto sat up again and with a very familiar hand sign summoned ten of himself and sent them off to keep an eye on things.

When the clones were gone he let Hanabi and Hinata lead him to their tent where they settled in for the night and hopefully some much needed slumber.


Next Episode: The return!