There was a brief pause as silence stretched over the Konoha-nin before one of the ANBU who'd taken charge spoke up.

"We wish you luck, Namikaze. It seems our village was wrong about you... perhaps if we'd overcome our hatred of the Kyuubi from the start, Konoha would still be standing."

Naruto didn't respond, he didn't think he'd be able to without losing his temper. It was clear that if the Konoha-nin hadn't heard he was a Namikaze, they would still see him as the Kyuubi itself.

He looked over the group of Konoha-nin once last time, making sure to memorize as many faces as he could, before he turned in the direction of the nearest gambling city. With any luck, he'd find a rumor or two to follow until he could find Tsunade, maybe he'd even stumble upon Jiraiya; that pervert would most likely know where his blond teammate was.

Similarities in Opposites

Chapter 20

"Tayuya-nee! Tayuya-nee! Like this?"

Tayuya glanced down at Ariya from her position on Naruto's back and tiredly shook her head a short moment later.

"You've gotta feel your chakra flowing through it and mold it to whatever shape you want it to take on," the red head said, pointing to the handful of dirt Ariya had been trying to manipulate for the past half hour. "Imagine that your chakra is the glue and the dirt is the material. The material needs glue to stay together right?"

The small brunette's face contorted for a moment before her mouth took on an "oh" shape and she returned to her task with renewed vigor.

"Progressing well isn't she," Naruto murmured, a grin on his face as he kept an eye on Ariya and her progress with the dirt. She'd tripped over her own feet no less than six times due to the fact that she wasn't paying attention to anything but the dirt, after all.

"A hell of a lot faster-"

Tayuya grunted and abruptly stopped speaking as wracking pain from her wound overcame her. She grit her teeth and her grip on Naruto tightened noticeably.

Several long seconds later her body sagged and she spat out, "Damnit!" while laying her head against Naruto's shoulder tiredly.

"Hate this stupid fucking shit."

"We'll find Tsuande, I'm sure she'll be able to do something."

"But will she?"

Naruto turned towards the speaker, one Uchiha Sasuke, and shrugged silently.

"There's nothing in it for her, she wouldn't gain anything," the boy continued.

This time, the blond responded verbally. "I don't care what it takes, I'll get her to help no matter what I have to do."

Sasuke stared at him a moment longer, but eventually nodded and averted his gaze.

Naruto still wasn't sure why the Uchiha had decided to come with him in his journey to find Tsunade, but he didn't really care either way. As long as his goals didn't interfere with any of the blond's own, he was glad for the extra help.

"We should reach town by nightfall," he continued after pausing to shift Tayuya on his back. The red head was still slouched and breathing rather heavily, small beads of sweat running down her face.

"You won't find Tsunade in that town," a voice called out from somewhere in the trees off the path.

Naruto spun and shifted Tayuya again, ripping a groan of discomfort from her throat, to pull out a kunai; Sasuke got into a ready stance a few feet to his right. The overly boisterous voice spoke again before anything else could be done though.

"Is this how you greet your legendary sensei brat? I think the great Jiraiya-sama deserves a little more respect!"

"The only thing you deserve is the number one spot on the "Dangerous Sexual Predators" list," Tayuya muttered dryly into Naruto's shoulder.

The blond allowed himself a small grin. "Yo, ero-sensei! What're you doing around here?"

"Same thing you kids are; looking for Tsunade of the sannin."

Upon seeing Naruto frown, the white haired man jumped down from his perch in a tree and approached them.

"Orochimaru's arms can't be fixed by any ordinary healer, and Tsunade isn't any ordinary healer. I've gotta find her before he does."

Naruto nodded in understanding while Jiraiya's eyes strayed to the miserable-looking lump on the blond's shoulder.

"Is that Tayuya?" he asked as he watched the mass of tangled red hair shift and reveal a haggard-looking face that definitely belonged to his student's girlfriend.

"How many other motherfucking red heads do you know that live in this shitty country, pervert?"

"Well there's-"

"Never mind. I don't want to hear how many whores you've fucked and how desperate they were to actually accept your business."

Jiraiya frowned. "That time of the month huh?"

"Fuck off!"

"Jiraiya-sensei," Naruto started in an even tone. "The invasion left Tayuya with a crippling injury that's slowly killing her. She's been getting attacks ever since we left Konoha."

The toad sannin's face took on a look of understanding. "Sorry to hear it, Tayuya."

The red head grunted and shoved her face back into Naruto's shoulder, clutching at her stomach futilely.

"So," Jiraiya continued after sighing and looking towards Sasuke, "you're Uchiha Sasuke, right?"

The dark haired boy nodded.

"Well, I suppose it's a good thing you decided to follow my student, regardless of your reasons."

"Why's that?"

The white haired man's face morphed into a look of surprise. "You haven't heard? I would've thought the entire region would know by now..."

"Heard what ero-sensei," Naruto asked, his frustration over Tayuya's situation quickly morphing into impatience.

"The group of surviving Konoha-nin has been completely wiped out."

"An ambush then," Naruto muttered under his breath as he stared into the crackling fire later that night. Jiraiya sat across from him, Sasuke to his right, Hayate and Yugao to his left. Tayuya and Ariya had both been asleep for a few hours.

"The Lightning-nin were apparently more involved than what was initially thought. Earth, Sound and Sand made up the majority of the invading forces that attacked Konoha that night, while Lightning saved over half of theirs' to exterminate any survivors."

Jiraiya paused to sip at the sake bottle in his hand. "Honestly, I'm surprised the six of you managed to get this far without any conflict."

"And you're sure there are no other survivors?" Yugao asked, a fierce scowl on her face. She was a passionate woman by nature and the fact that nearly all of her comrades, her friends and her family had been killed wasn't sitting well with her.

"The Hyuuga clan survived, most of it, anyway," the toad sannin muttered in distaste as he took another swig. "They ran as soon as the fight took a turn for the worse. Only the ones that were truly loyal to Konoha perished, the rest of them, cowards that they are, are still somewhere out there."

"Bastards," Naruto said around his scowl. "More concerned with their precious eyes and the continuation of their clan than the place they called home for over a century."

"It gets worse," Jiraiya said. "This is only a rumor and I haven't confirmed it with any of my contacts yet, but people have been saying the remnants of Hyuuga clan joined Kumogakure."

Yugao's eyes narrowed in rage and Hayate immediately reached out for her hand, attempting to stop the ironically passionate ANBU before she did something she'd regret.

"Of all the things they could've done..." Naruto snarled. "Not only did they run when their comrades needed them, but they went and joined our enemies too."

Silence settled over the group at that point. Only the soft crackling of the fire and the various sounds the creatures of the night were making could be heard.

"We suffered so much. All of us did. And the Hyuuga abandoned us, left us to die. What they've done is an insult to everyone who died defending their home," the blond continued in a quiet tone. "They'll die. All of them will die."

He punched the ground, unconsciously gouging a cut into the dirt. "I'll make sure of it."

Sasuke glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "After I've killed my brother, I'll join you in eradicating the Hyuuga. They've disgraced the name of bloodline limit users for too long."

"The Hyuuga will get what's coming to them eventually, but right now our first priority is finding Tsunade," Jiraiya said.

He paused and rubbed his chin.

"We'll have to rely on the rumors and stories that follow her." He chuckled. "The 'Legendary Sucker' never goes far without drawing attention from townspeople."

"Honestly, I thought she would've been there," Jiraiya stated around a frown. "Five towns and absolutely no luck finding her."

Naruto grunted, his mind too troubled to respond with anything more. It'd been nearly three weeks since Jiraiya had found their group and started searching for Tsunade with them, three weeks of Tayuya's condition worsening.

The red head was now almost constantly tired and she was certainly several shades too pale to be healthy. She spent nearly half the days sleeping and, when the last of the Konoha-nin would move to another town, Naruto would be forced to move more carefully due to the fact that almost any movement at all could trigger an attack from her wound.

"All the rumors, all the mutterings point to here," Jiraiya said under his breath as they neared the edge of the town. Due to the fact that they were still in Fire Country, the group had decided not to stay in any hotels to avoid being noticed. Jiraiya would be recognized instantly, but he was seen away from Konoha so many times that no one really paid him any mind and by taking off his forehead protector, Naruto had stopped any possibility of him being connected to Konoha.

The Toad Sannin sighed. "I'm gonna go get something to drink, see if I can't dig up any information we missed."

Naruto nodded. "Don't do anything too stupid, ero-sensei."

"Bah!" he exclaimed as he started to turn back toward town. "My calm collected mind has only two weaknesses and I guard them jealously!"

"Sake and women, then."

"Ungrateful brat," Jiraiya muttered. "Won't even let me have one moment of arrogance..."

Naruto snorted and almost cracked a grin as he heard the sannin head back towards town, the crackling of a campfire up ahead distracted him though.

He continued into the forest at a quicker pace and eventually came upon the camp where he and his fellow Konoha-nin had decided to stay.

Four tents were set up around a smoldering fire in a small clearing. The softly flickering light played across the faces of both Yugao and Hayate, who were sitting quietly together outside their tent. Sasuke, the blond assumed, was already asleep in his.

Naruto greeted his sensei and made his way toward the tent he knew to house Tayuya and Ariya.

He pulled back the flap and entered. His girlfriend was lying motionless on the ground with one hand resting on top of her injured flesh. Her eyes flickered open upon hearing him though and silently followed his movements as he moved around the tent, eventually coming to kneel beside her.

"Lemme see it," the blond prodded softly.

Tayuya shakily took her hand away and allowed him to lift her shirt up just past were the bandages ended. Soon enough, those were unwrapped and her wound exposed, accompanied by the red head's hiss as her mutilated flesh meant air.

It looked just as horrible as it was, Naruto noted. The flesh on Tayuya's side, around where the vile chakra-like substance had pierced her, was blackened and decidedly dead. Her veins were clearly visible for several inches under her skin, tinted a black color that signified the progress of the deadly chakra. Wherever the black in the veins ended red immediately took its place, a clear sign of the Kyuubi's chakra vainly trying to resist.

Naruto exhaled softly. The infection was beginning to close in on some of her vital organs, she wouldn't be able to last...

He shook his head fiercely and went about cleaning the wound to the best of his abilities.

If it came down to it, he'd create enough shadow clones to search the entirety of Fire Country for Tsunade, regardless of the consequences. Anything to save her.

Naruto finished cleaning the wound and quickly went about wrapping the bandages back around Tayuya's midsection. Once that was done, he shoved the medicinal supplies to a corner of the tent and, standing, turned towards the opening flap of the tent.

He'd only made it a couple steps when a tiny tremor threw him off balance and nearly caused him to fall over.

The blond grunted in annoyance and shrugged it off as he continued walking but not a second later the very same thing happened again.

This time, he stood motionless.

Another tremor.

A low growl unconsciously escaped from his lips and his features twisted into a half grimace, half snarl.

He didn't like the feeling he was getting from whatever the hell it was that was causing the tremors. He knew they were unnatural and if he focused, he could barely make out the signature of a foreign chakra source relatively close by.

Six shadow clones burst into existence behind him, immediately going about carefully preparing Tayuya to be moved. One of them made his way over to Ariya and hefted the sleeping girl onto his back.

Within thirty seconds, a disgruntled Tayuya was cautiously being moved out of the tent and into the clearing. She put up no fight or fuss, though in her condition Naruto would've been more worried if she actually used the energy to do so, rather than stay quiet.

Hayate and Yugao were already standing back-to-back in front of Sasuke's tent, apparently waiting for the boy to emerge.

"We're leaving," Hayate said shortly. "I don't think I need to explain why."

Naruto nodded and, without any visible signal, his clones started carrying Tayuya into the forest on the ground. He would've liked to carry her himself, but her condition was in such a fragile state now that nothing less than several Naruto's could carry her at a decent rate without much risk of further injuring her.

The original blond stood silently in the clearing as his clones got a head start that they would doubtlessly need. His hair was starting to stand on end and his temper was quickly becoming uncontrollable for reasons that he was unaware of.

Perhaps it was the fact that whatever was out there could be a threat to Tayuya. Maybe it was the fact that he was completely fucking useless as his girlfriend died.

He didn't know, he didn't really care either.

All he knew was anger.

His already impressive vision began to improve even further and his ears started to pick up even the slightest sound made in the nearby forest.

Red chakra started to leak out of the seal on his shoulder, immediately catching his eye.

Naruto exhaled deeply and closed his eyes, fighting off the furious rage that was not his until it was at a controllable level. More of Kyuubi's chakra agitating her wound was the last thing Tayuya needed at the moment.

Movement startled the blond enough to cause him to snap into a defensive position, he relaxed when he saw it was merely Sasuke, Hayate and Yugao, though.

"Come on," Hayate started.

At that moment though, another tremor rippled through the clearing. This one was far larger and much more intensive than any before it.

It was closer.

The splintered remains of the trunk of a tree suddenly burst into the campsite and hurtled into the dense forest on the opposite side.

Naruto watching numbly as it barreled through several trees and knocked down even more before coming to a stop on the ground.

It had went into the forest in the direction his clones had taken Tayuya.

The blond's breathing started to become heavy, his senses heightening again.

He silently lunged across the campsite and hit the ground on the opposite side running at a breakneck pace. Whatever this thing was needed to die, and he was going to kill it.

He snarled viciously and launched himself into the air, the wind chakra lacing his legs pushing him farther and faster than what he was otherwise capable of.

Naruto landed hunched over in an open field some time later and immediately took in his surroundings.

There was a homely black haired woman lying on the ground to his left, apparently unconscious. Farther out was a silver haired ninja he'd never seen before and a familiar head of long black hair.

The blond seethed silently as recognition passed over him. That was Orochimaru!

He sucked in a breath and was about to let loose his rage in the form of a blood lust roar, the same roar that had been deeply ingrained into the memories of all those that had witnessed the destruction of Konoha, but something in the corner of his eye caught his attention.

Red chakra.

The blond cursed himself as concern for Tayuya immediately overpowered his anger at whatever was threatening her earlier. He closed his eyes and forced himself to breath slowly and deeply, sighing an inaudible sigh of relief when he felt the red chakra recede into the seal.

He was becoming easier to anger with each passing day and he couldn't be sure whether it was the situation he found himself in or that deal he'd made with the Kyuubi so long ago.

He was so young... so stupid back then. He hadn't even considered the giant demon fox might've been up to something when it had agreed so readily to the terms of the deal.

Naruto was forcibly shaken from his thoughts by a familiar, yet unique laugh.

"Never liked blood much did you?" Orochimaru asked a blond woman that Naruto had missed earlier; he realized with no small amount of relief that it was Tsunade herself. She appeared to be completely fine, but for a few drops of blood on the front of her shirt.

The snake sannin sneered down at her. "You could've had them," he said, pausing to let his words sink in. "Little Nawaki and your precious Dan. You could've had them back, and all you had to do was heal my arms."

Orochimaru spat on the ground in front of Tsunade, the woman remained oblivious.

"You've of no use to me unless you use your skills to restore my arms, Tsunade. I'll ask you once more, will you-"

The man abruptly stopped talking at the tiny sound of sharp objects whistling through the air and turned to dodge the shuriken Naruto had throw at him. He flowed in between them with dexterity that couldn't possibly have been human.

"I was wondering when you'd show yourself, little fox," the snake sannin mumbled to himself, a wicked grin on his face as he watched the blond quickly close the distance between them.

Naruto never got to his target though. A fist abruptly burst out of the ground below him, followed closely by the body of the earth clone Orochimaru had hidden in the dirt.

Naruto threw his weight to the side and rolled away from the attack, coming up on his feet as soon as he could and continuing his charge at Orochimaru.

The sannin allowed his grin to shift into a smirk and suddenly whirled around to land a backhand on another Naruto's cheek that had just come at him from the air.

"There wasn't any dust, Naruto-kun," the man cooed as the first Naruto reached him and attacked with a horizontal slash of his kunai. It passed harmlessly through its target.

The real Naruto quickly picked himself up off the ground, blinking in surprise at the sheer strength behind the blow that had just been dealt to him. He shook it off though and wasted no time in forming a one handed seal.

"Ah, ah, ah," Orochimaru tsked softly in his ear from where he'd just appeared out of the ground. He lashed out and delivered a solid blow to Naruto's midsection, sending the blond tumbling away from him again.

The blond quickly attempted to get to his feet again, but the snake sannin was already there, appearing out of the ground again.

He really was like a snake, Naruto reflected as he felt a rib break under the pressure of Orochimaru's most recent attack. He struck fast and he struck hard, pulling back out of harm's way before any retaliation could be directed at him.

Naruto landed in a heap on the ground and used his momentum to bring himself back to his feet. This time, he had already formed a one handed seal as he was rising, so the Orochimaru already rising from the ground was meant with a Daitoppa from point-blank range.

It was completely obliterated, but the fact that it was a mere earth clone made Naruto curse under his breath.

He looked around him to find that the snake sannin hadn't even moved from his position in front of Tsunade. He was toying with him.

"Very good Naruto-kun," the man sang softly, "I didn't expect you to be able to best that clone."

The blond's jaw clenched. He grasped the meaning under that statement easily. Clone, singular, as in one damnable clone that had given him that much trouble. The man evidently didn't even need any hand signs to do it too, using no hand signs for a jutsu almost always meant one had mastered it, completely and utterly. They knew every use for it, defensive or offensive, they knew its strengths and its weaknesses, they knew how much chakra it took and how the chakra felt as it was forming.

To have mastered a jutsu was to have become one with it, in every sense of the word.

Using one handed seals was easy enough, all you had to do was practice the jutsu or use it enough until you had a good handle on what it felt like. It was a simple act from there of just practicing with it a little more until you could use it with one hand.

No hand seals was a whole new level.

Two more earth clones of the man abruptly burst out of the ground and seized the blond's arm, holding them with an iron grip that he couldn't hope to break.

A Rasengan started to form in his right hand, the only sealless jutsu he knew and one of the few legacies his father had left behind. To create a jutsu with no seals was to know the chakra manipulation and chakra itself at its most base level. His father had to have had intimate knowledge of the way chakra worked to form Rasengan to create the technique, truly an achievement.

Naruto didn't have that level of understanding yet, so he would be unable to add on anything to the jutsu until he did. The only thing he could manage was to use his wind chakra to form an incomplete and rather unstable imitation of the Rasengan.

Mastery or not, his Rasengan would be more than enough to free himself.

Unfortunately, Orochimaru had no intention of allowing the blond to do that.

Another earth clone appeared in front of Naruto and immediately delivered a punch to his gut, forcibly dispelling the half complete Rasengan.

"What did you hope to accomplish, Naruto-kun? Did you honestly think you could beat me?"

The earth clone punched him again in the gut and then once more on the jaw.

"Foolish," Orochimaru muttered as he turned back to Tsunade.

Naruto growled and opened his mouth to shout, but all he could get out was a wheeze. The earth clone had landed another blow to his midsection and followed it with a backhand to his cheek. This time, it continued with its assault.

Another blow to his ribs, two of which broke.

Was this really all he could do without the Kyuubi's strength? Was he that dependent on the demonic chakra when he fought his enemies?

An open palm thrust to his stomach made him lose his breath and gasp for more air, only to be backhanded across the face again.

He saw his vision start to go spotty as the clone rained down blows on him. A vicious punch managed to break his jaw, leaving it to hang limply from his face. Another shattered the bones supporting his nose. The clones holding his arms ruthlessly broke the bones in his forearms in half even as the third continued its assault on his ribs.

His vision was hopelessly unfocused, horribly blurred now. He could make out figures, though there were far more than there were supposed to be in the clearing... at least, he thought so. He couldn't really remember much of anything, really, just Orochimaru.

Orochimaru and how much stronger he was, how useless he'd made him feel.

The blond's eyes started to drift shut and he thought he heard a furious screech rend the night air. He coughed, hacking up blood on the grass he was laying on.

He blinked, the act of making his eyes open again horribly difficult.

When had he started lying on the ground?

That thought, as well as any others in his mind, drifted away from him. He fell unconscious, away from the dulled, stinging sensations that had engulfed his limbs.

Awareness returned to him slowly.

First came the muffled sounds of voices in his ears. The words they were speaking and who was speaking them were completely unknown to him.

Next came his sight. Blinding light flooded his vision first, only after several seconds of blinking did the brightness decrease to a manageable level.

Last came the realization that he was actually awake, along with his last waking memories.

"Orochimaru!" Naruto gasped as he bolted upright in bed.

A large hand, nearly the size of his chest pushed him back down into the comfortable warm sheets.

"Calm down kid, he's gone," came the voice he knew belonged to Jiraiya. "Tayuya's safe-"

Naruto quickly sat up again as the mention of his girlfriend's name made it to his ears.

"Damnit kid!" Jiraiya muttered as he pushed his student down again. "Tsunade told me-"


"Lay. Down."

"But I have to talk to Tsunade!"

"Lay down and I'll tell you what she said about Tayuya."

That one stopped the blond mid-struggle and he slowly lowered himself back onto the bed.

Jiraiya sighed. "Look kid," he started slowly, "she said Tayuya doesn't have much time left... something about that chakra destroys everything it comes into contact with. Doesn't even leave any remains."

"Can she be healed?"

The toad sannin licked his lips uncomfortably at the look on his student's face. He'd never, never seen Naruto this open before, this vulnerable.

"It's complicated..."

"Jiraiya," Naruto started, "can she or can she not be healed."


The blond exhaled deeply, a relieved smile on his face as his body sagged tiredly into the bed.

"-but she won't do it."

"What!" Naruto spat, his previously calm blue eyes now livid with rage.

"She says the only way she knows how to heal her would leave her half dead."

"But... That's-" the blond fumed incoherently. Part of him realized that he had no right to ask Tsunade to do something that would leave her in such a pathetic condition, but she was a medic nin damn it! There had to be some way, some method, something he could do to help!

"Where is she," he demanded more than questioned.

"You aren't strong enough to be-"

"Where is she," he said again, this time turning to the black haired woman sitting in the room that he hadn't noticed before.

"Tsunade-sama is downstairs, but-"

Naruto was already out of bed and moving down the stairs before the woman could finish. His bones cried open in protest and his muscles strained unwillingly to keep up with his swift movements, but he forced them to cooperate.

He barreled down into the bar of what could only be the inn he was currently inside, easily finding the two pigtails that the toad sannin sported.

"What'll it do to you," he said in the same flat tone of voice that demanded an answer as soon as he was within ear shot of her.

The woman sighed and set down her saucer.

"He said you'd do this," she muttered, disgruntled. "Said you'd try and do something to help, try and convince me to heal her."

Naruto grit his teeth, seething anger starting to take hold of him. "What'll it-"

"I heard you the first time," she said. "And it'll leave me half dead, kid."


"Nothing you say will make me change my mind and nothing you do will convince me to help her, just drop it, kid," the woman muttered, still having not bothered to look at Naruto.

The blond slowly exhaled in an attempt to calm himself.

He was only half successful.

"What were you going to do?" He grit out.

Tsunade turned to face him, finally. Her eyes were bloodshot and her expression sorrowful, though Naruto knew it wasn't out of pity for him or for Tayuya, she couldn't care less about them.

The toad sannin silently raised one hand and pointed at the gem in her forehead. "The energy I have stored in here is strong enough to heal anything, even something that has been destroyed by death in chakra form. It's my life force."

She turned back to the bar. "That's also why it would leave me half dead, kid. I'm not going to heal her."


Tsunade irritably put her saucer down on the bar again and turned to face him. "How, what?"

"How does it work?"

The woman cracked a grin. "Kid, you wouldn't even be able to draw up the storage seals for this, much less convert the chakra into pure life force... I don't think you can even convert it into medical chakra."

With that, she pushed past him and headed for the stairs, where Jiraiya and Shizune were standing silently.

"Since you've ruined any possible enjoyment I could get from drinking tonight, I think I'll get some sleep now." She paused. "Shizune, we're leaving first thing in the morning."

Tsunade cast a glance back at Naruto, who was staring directly back at her, and shook her head before heading upstairs.

Jiraiya of the sannin sat silently at the bar, several hours into the night, while he contemplated his two former teammates.

One of them had betrayed Konoha outright and developed a sick desire to see it burn to the ground under his feet. That desire had obviously been fulfilled. Konoha was eradicated and, if his sources were to be trusted, there was already building tension between Suna, Iwa and Kumo.

Jiraiya scoffed and drank in more warm sake. Orochimaru had eliminated Konoha in the shortest ninja war – if it could even be called that – to date only to bring about another one just weeks later. Fire Country contained some of the most fertile land in the area and it had a decent amount of natural resources as well. Dividing up that land had apparently been causing some trouble between the victorious nations.


She had betrayed Konoha as well, though it wasn't as obvious as it was with Orochimaru. She abandoned her village because she couldn't stand being where those precious to her had died. She held a petty hatred of anything even remotely related to Konoha and now it was carrying over to her work as a medic nin as well.

Immediately after her talk with Naruto, the blond had hid away inside one of the two hotel rooms Jiraiya had rented for the night. Last Jiraiya knew, he was crouched over a desk trying to find a way to copy Tsunade's most powerful healing technique.

The toad sannin sighed. Naruto was so absorbed in his work that he hadn't even thought to ask why Hayate and Yugao weren't around nor question why Jiraiya had suddenly decided to stay in a hotel after spending weeks avoiding public eye. He hadn't even thought about how he recovered from his injuries so quickly.

The man grunted and, with a heave, pushed himself away from the bar. Tayuya didn't have long left to live and he was almost certain Naruto wouldn't be able to replicate Tsunade's Creation Rebirth technique without his help.

A/N: Sorry bout this taking so long...seems like I'm falling into a habit of taking forever with the chapters. Don't worry though, I still plan on finishing this story, no matter how long it takes.

Either way, to those of you that've stuck around from the beginning, I want to thank you for tolerating my writing habits .

After this chapter, there'll be one more before the typically 3-4 year time skip.

Heisetsu roughly means "link" in japanese...don't quote me on that though.

Lastly, I think the reasons behind having Yugito attack Naruto as a gesture of good will become clear in this chapter. Kumo didn't take part in the actual attack as much as the other villages, so they sent in a jinchuuriki to make up for it.