Jiraiya watched Naruto swim toward shore, necklace in hand. He snorted and went back into his house; his stories weren't going to write themselves.
Just as he pulled the latest draft of Icha Icha out of his desk drawer, something terrible happened, something terrifying and destructive. His front door flew off its hinges and hit the opposite wall, revealing a supremely pissed off Tsunade. Jiraiya sighed and began gathering the pages of genius and returning to them to the desk drawer where they would be safe from the bad, bad lady. Tsunade had never appreciated his art.
"Jiraiya, why did a scout just report that he had seen Naruto walking along the shore? On legs? What. Did. You. Do?" Tsunade raged, punching a hole in the rock wall of Jiraiya's house. Damn, he'd just re-decorated too.
"Oh hi, Tsunade. Yes please come in. Would you like some tea?" Jiraiya said dryly. Then he squinted at the woman's face, then her breasts, then back to her face," Or maybe some sake would more to your tastes?"
Tsunade whirled on Jiraiya with renewed rage, "Jiraiya, I won't ask twice. What the hell did you do?"
"Technically, you have already asked me that twice. And I don't have to answer you."
Tsunade grabbed Jiraiya by the collar and hoisted off the floor with one hand," Yes, you do. What did you give Naruto?"
Jiraiya struggled against the woman's grip as Tsunade's fingers began to apply pressure to his windpipe. He managed to gasp out, "Necklace." Tsunade gave a noise of disgust and tossed him back into his chair. Jiraiya collapsed into his seat, inhaling the salty ocean water. "All you had to do was ask, Tsunade."
Tsunade's fist meeting the side of his head effectively shut up any other smart remarks. Jiraiya glared at her as his eyes watered.
"What did he need legs for? Why did he want to go ashore?" Tsunade asked, swimming back and forth in the small room. Her tail swished in aggravation. "This isn't about that Uchiha brat, is it? Jiraiya?"
Jiraiya winced at the volume, clutching his pounding head, "You know the answer to that one, Tsunade."
Tsunade glared harder at the man, "I thought we agreed that we wouldn't allow him to go ashore. That's why you had the necklace. To keep it hidden."
"You agreed. You and I both know better than to try to change fate," Jiraiya sighed, swimming over to the shallow stone bowl in a shadowy corner of his house.
"I've already lost everyone else, Jiraiya, I won't lose my nephew without a fight," Tsunade argued, but she followed the merman to the corner.
Jiraiya used his hand to swirl the silver mist that settled in the shallow bowl. The misty substance picked up more and more speed until it finally dissipated and showed an image. A slightly older Naruto and Sasuke, both with legs, embraced on a balcony overlooking the ocean. The two men leaned closer until their lips touched. The image grew fuzzy as the kiss grew deeper until the silver mist reappeared and completely obscured whatever the two men in the bowl might have been doing.
Tsunade turned away from the bowl, "I don't care Jiraiya, there's nothing to say that that future is going to happen. There have been other prophecies that remain unfulfilled."
Jiraiya finally turned away from the swirling mist, "I know that but the pull was strong on Naruto. He found me, not the other way around. He was taking risks, going closer and closer to shore. He almost exposed himself and put all of us at risk, Tsunade. We need to let this run its course, Naruto needs to make the choice for himself. He deserves that much, Tsunade."
"I will get him back here, where he belongs," Tsunade said.
Jiraiya sighed in defeat, "You do what you have to Tsunade. And so will I."
Tsunade frowned, "That's how it's going to be then?"
"I guess so," Jiraiya said, "and you were wrong about one thing."
Tsunade's frown grew, "What?"
Jiraiya's hand grasped Tsunade's gently, "You haven't lost everyone."
Tsunade smiled at her friend. Jiraiya grinned back. He released Tsunade's hand and let it rest on her shoulder instead, moving it slowly down until—
The resounding shout of, "Pervert!" could be heard for miles through the ocean. So could the slap that followed.
'So close,' Jiraiya thought as he rubbed his jaw.
Naruto swam away from Jiraiya as quickly as possible. He needed to get to shore before anyone realized he was gone. He had no idea how long he had been passed out on Jiraiya's bed. Naruto slowed as he came to a secluded part of the beach along Fire Country's shore. It should be safe here and it wouldn't be a far walk into the city where Sasuke resided.
Naruto pulled himself up to where the dry sand and the crashing waves met. Then he put the necklace on. He hadn't been able to appreciate it earlier, when he almost died, but he watched in amazement, and vague disgust as his tail shimmered and the scales began to melt into soft, peachy skin that matched his torso. His one tail turned into two toned, tan legs that ended in feet. And Naruto had never seen feet so close up before. They were a bit funny looking, broad and bony, topped with silly little nugget-like toes. Naruto bent forward to inspect his brand new feet more closely. He let out a small chuckle.
Or tried to, anyway. Damn, he had forgotten about that catch. No talking. Apparently that rule extended to non-word sounds like laughing. Alright, that would make this difficult, but definitely not impossible. Naruto shrugged and made to swim, flicking his tail. He blinked and tried again before looking down and remembering that he had legs now and he wouldn't be able to swim on dry land.
Okay, so he would have to learn how to use these legs before anything else. No problem. He was Naruto Uzumaki, no legs would trip him up.
Boy, was he wrong. Fifteen minutes later all he had succeeded in doing was flailing his legs around and flopping around in the wet sand. He has managed to get his feet under him once, but had ended up falling flat on his face. Naruto grunted, pushing himself up with his arms. He would figure out how to use these things. Otherwise he might as well take off the necklace, crawl back into the sea and give up on ever meeting Sasuke. Screw that, Naruto decided.
He pushed his feet flat against the wet sand and slowly pushed the rest of his body up with his arms until it was aligned with his ankles and calves. He crouched for a few moments, weighing his options. Then he slowly extended his thighs and pushed upward. And he was standing! Finally! Now walking would be a cinch after all that.
An hour later, Naruto finally figured out how to coordinate two limbs at the same time to move. Then he realized he was naked. His worrying over clothes was interrupted by approaching voices.
"But Ino, he would never fall for that. He's much too clever!"
"What would you know about cleverness, Sakura?"
"He's the prince, Ino. Of course he's clever. Unless you think he's stupid! Ino, do you really think Sasuke, Prince Sasuke, is stupid?"
Two arguing girls appeared around the cliff that enclosed Naruto's little beach nook. Naruto dove behind a large rock that covered him up to his waist. He stared at the two women, one blonde and the other, oddly, pink-haired, with wide eyes.
"Who is that? I've never seen you before," the blonde girl exclaimed.
"What's your name?" the pink haired girl asked. Naruto shrugged. She huffed and asked, "Well you're not from here, so where did you come from?"
Naruto pointed to the ocean.
"From a ship? Did it wreck or something?" the pink one inquired. Naruto grabbed onto the cover story and nodded sadly. "Oh my, we'll take to into town with us, okay? I'm Sakura."
Naruto nodded eagerly.
"Well come on then, I'm Ino," the blonde one exclaimed.
Naruto didn't budge. He gestured at himself emphatically.
"What's wrong? Oh God, are you naked behind there?" Ino asked.
Naruto nodded. Sakura and Ino stared for a second. Then Sakura took off her sweater and gestured for Ino to do the same. Then she tied them together and threw it to Naruto.
"Tie it around your waist," she explained. Naruto nodded.
"You haven't said a word. Why?" Ino asked.
Sakura hit her friend's arm as Naruto shrugged, tying the fabric around his waist. "He just came from a shipwreck, Ino, who knows what he's been through. He's probably in shock!"
Naruto walked over to the two girls. Each took a hand and pulled him toward the docks, the city, and inevitably Prince Sasuke. Naruto followed eagerly.
A/N: So, hey. I realized I still really love this story. So here's a long overdue updates. Because aren't all my updates always overdue?
Also, I have a new blog, about RL stuff. But it'll keep you updated and I do update it daily. And you can remind me when I'm being lazy and need to get my ass in gear on these stories. A link is in my profile!