AN: Yes! A new chapter! Yay for me! I've been working on my other story I almost forgot about this one. Shame on me. Anyway, same warnings apply, don't worry I have someone helping me out with the edition but this chapter isn't in that process yet. Anyway, forgive me the mistakes for now.
Let's see, this chapter will deal with some revelations about the Bijuu. But, the story is not going to be revealed yet.
For now, read and enjoy!
The battles we're fighting:
Hitsugaya Toshiro was a genius.
He wasn't a genius because he graduated at an early age from the Academy. He wasn't a genius because of his bankai or obtaining the position of Captain in less than two years after entering the Gotei 13.
He was named a genius because of his sharp mind, because of the knowledge in both theories and they practical uses of said theories. He was considered a genius because he knew how to use the knowledge he had and put it into action, to plan ahead and have multiple choices from between those plans.
There were some things he would never look into, out of self-preservation, others he simply ignore until the right time approached for him to really know. He never asked why Kazama Minato left Soul Society; he just accepted that whatever had happened had been bad. He never questioned when Naruto had been put under his command; he was the right person to lead the boy until he could escalate ranks inside the Gotei 13.
What he always wondered and has picked his curiosity was the boy's parents. The man from Soul Society, first born into a noble family destined to greatness and then…the woman who was but a ghost of uncertainties. Toshiro has seen pictures of Minato; he knew where Naruto has gotten most of his looks. But the other half, the round face, the smile and the look in his eyes…now, those surely came from the mother.
Which brought Toshiro right to this moment…
"My name is Uzumaki Kushina." The woman smiled gently at Toshiro while signaling for him to follow her. It didn't take long for them to reach the same stand where the woman had bought the tea; there was an old lady behind the stand the woman smiled at Kushina with gentleness.
"Ah, Yui-san, have you come for another dose of Tea?"
Toshiro raised an eyebrow as he glanced at the red-head beside him, the woman had on a mysterious smile signaling for him to grab the cup of tea and sit on the stool near the counter.
"I hope you like it; this is one of the best teas around here." Toshiro took a long sip agreeing in silence with the red-head.
"It is in fact one of the best I have taste…Yui-san."
Kushina smirked tilting her head to the side while turning her back to the outside world. Toshiro glanced at her while turning to the street; he couldn't leave his people unsupervised after all.
"Raikage-sama told me I would find you interesting." The woman grabbed her cup tightly as she continued speaking. "My name is Uzumaki Kushina, but for those who don't know better I'm Yui."
Toshiro nodded his mind already working the reasons the Raikage may have told this to Kushina. If his assumptions are corrected then…then, he is afraid to discover the truth behind the woman. Toshiro wondered briefly what else did the man who called himself Raikage was hiding. How much was he manipulating from his throne.
"What do you expect me to say?" The woman chuckled shaking her head while giving Toshiro a long stare.
"I don't know, you tell me. Why would Raikage-sama think I would be interested in you?"
Then she grinned.
And, then…Toshiro knew.
It was in her smile.
He understood then why the leader of Kumogakure had extended an invitation, why after their story after the answers of several questions the man invited them to stay in the city. Of course, Toshiro wasn't so naïve to think this was the only reason but he knew it was the main one.
The red-head woman was sitting beside him with her lips curled up in resemblance of a relax grin, her white teeth were showing complementing the sincerity of the smile. The roundness of her face, the dimples that formed with the smile only gave her a slightly touch of cuteness and mischief that was complete with the twinkling of her clear, blue eyes.
It was in her face, written there for all who knew how to see it.
Then, Hitsugaya Toshiro felt conflicted with two different emotions: anger and curiosity.
He stared at the woman and the smile she was wearing faltered for an instant. Her blue eyes cleared to stare at him back. Toshiro nodded his head once standing up while directing cold, teal eyes to Kushina.
"I think, Yui-san, I know why Raikage-sama ask you to come to me." Kushina lifted an eyebrow, she was frowning by now quite confused by the sudden changed in the young man.
"Please, follow me." Kushina watched as the white-haired boy stood up strolling towards the group of shinobi cheering at some sort of spectacle.
By now Kushina's curiosity had been picked, she didn't have any trouble following the young man in front of her. As they approached the group she could hear the sounds of cheering and laughter, the sound of clinking metal as well as the colliding sound of flesh against flesh.
Toshiro felt his right eyebrow twitch, his lips tightening as his eyes focused on the sight in front of him. He shouldn't be surprise, he should expect it and yet, he was surprised and didn't expect it.
"Madarame, what the hell are you doing?" The bald man stopped mid-air the stroke directed to the dark-skinned individual in front of him. "Matsumoto leave that bottle down before I make sure you never leave desk work over the next centuries."
Matsumoto turned around a pout firmly in place as she whined to her commander, "But, Taichou! This sake is so much sweeter than the one back home."
Kushina watched the interaction with some amusement as the young man retorted with a low growl and another threat. The woman was smiling cheekily dragging Hitsugaya to her burying his face in the depths of her bosom.
"Ne, Ran-chan, you really shouldn't do that." It was new voice, a young one and the moment Kushina turned to the source her whole body froze. "You're too young to die for frostbite."
"Aw, lil Naru-chan is jealous…but I heard you spend the same amount of time between those hazardous weapons as much as Hitsugaya-taichou."
Ikkaku's smug smile was wiped away by an elbow to his face, a kick on his shin and a pretty well-aimed push on his chest. The bald man whimpered in pain before letting out a few chosen insults directed mainly at Naruto and Matsumoto because he wasn't suicidal to direct them to Hitsugaya.
"Wait, what did he mean by that?" Naruto winced turning to Yugito whose eyes were gleaming dangerously. "Why do you spend time in there?"
"I…you know? When you said it like that it sounds…dirty?" Yugito lifted an eyebrow and the smile Naruto had been sporting was wiped out immediately.
"Well, it doesn't sound anything but a perverts attempt to…"
"Whoa! I'm not a pervert!" Naruto turned to Rangiku his eyes begging for help. "Ran-chan, tell her I'm not a pervert and that you are a threat…and the pervert."
Naruto waved his hands desperately, Matsumoto was utterly amused, and Haku was chuckling while Ichinose stared confused. Toshiro massaged his temple, sighing before remembering the woman behind him. Then Ikkaku opened his mouth again earning him another attempted to his health and a wicked gleam from Naruto's blue eyes.
"Maybe, Naruto likes them better the way Kuchiki has them." Naruto looked horrified at the idea.
"I so do not want to know why you think Byakuya-nii…" This time it was Ikkaku who looked horrified.
"Who said anything about Kuchiki-taichou? I was talking about the younger sister!"
"Oh, that…sounds better."
"Really? It does?" Naruto cringed at the sweetened tone from Yugito. "Care to explain."
"Humph, Naruto is a womanizer…he seems pretty eager and women love it." Naruto shoot a glare to a chuckling Ikkaku. Then Naruto smirked evilly, his eyes gleaming with mischief as he crossed his arms.
"Such nasty words, Ikkaku. Tsch, I should probably tell Yachiru-chan…" There was fear evident in Ikkaku's eyes, Haku merely snorted shaking his head while Matsumoto formed the same evil gleam that Naruto.
"I think we better not." Interrupted Toshiro rolling his eyes, "Heavens only know what Kusajishi may do…"
It seemed as if Kushina had been forgotten. The woman was standing a few steps away watching the group, watching how these foreigners seemed to click just right with the Jinchuuriki belonging to Kumogakure. Her whole body had tensed up; her heart beat was accelerated while her hands were turning sweaty.
She could barely breathe when her eyes found the figure of the young blond in between the group. Her mind betrayed her at that very moment, she saw Minato in the boy. Blond, spiky hair with broad shoulders and a confident stance. His voice was deep tinge with kindness and laughter as he joked and spoke to the people he so obviously held dear.
His eyes, his face…his smile…Kushina turned her eyes to Toshiro and then noticed the young man looking back at her.
She understood then why the coldness behind those teal eyes. She understood why there was silent anger coming from him. He knew who she was…
"Yui- san, what are you doing here?" It was Gaara the first one to notice her presence and the moment he spoke everyone turned to the woman.
Kushina swallowed her eyes finding Naruto's ones.
It was a moment she had dread from the moment she decided to leave him in Konoha. She still remembered as if it was yesterday, it was a memory that hunted her just as much as Minato's death. She never thought they would meet under this circumstances, she cursed A for not telling her first. She cursed Hitsugaya for tricking her into following him.
She cursed herself for every decision she took that lead her away from Naruto and, at the same time, brought her closer to him.
"Apparently, Raikage-sama thought we would need more supervision." Hitsugaya arched an eyebrow at the group then at Kushina. "He wasn't mistaken, apparently."
"It is all their fault, Taichou. I was merely a victim." Replied Rangiku pressing a hand to her chest sending Toshiro's way a puppy dog stare.
"You're their commander officer, Matsumoto." Toshiro rolled his eyes. "You seem to remember that fact when you need something without me finding out."
Gaara furrowed his brow just like Yugito; both of them stared at each other then at B whose head twitched lightly. Kushina smiled hesitantly while taking a step forward.
"Yes, apparently I'm gonna take you to the Raikage's tower." The woman scratched her head smiling sheepishly. "I hope you don't mind the extra supervision…"
"Nope, not at all, Yui-san." Naruto took a step towards her, grinning at the woman before bowing lightly. "Uzumaki Naruto, that bald over there is Ikkaku, here is my ever loyal friend Haku and there is my protector Ichinose."
Naruto glanced at Toshiro then at Matsumoto, "I guess I don't need to introduce Taichou, since you came with him and well…you just hear Ran-chan."
There was silence following Naruto's words, the woman had her eyes perfectly stuck to Naruto but there wasn't anything on her face to betray her thoughts. Naruto glanced at her, curiosity and perplexity in his blue orbs when the woman remained silent. Around him, Haku, Gaara, Yugito and Ichinose seemed to notice the sudden uneasiness of the silence, the insistent stare from the woman.
"Uh, is it…something wrong?" Asked Naruto who couldn't stand the silence anymore.
Kushina gasped blinking for a few moments before smiling tentatively at Naruto, "No, no sorry it's just…I've heard a lot about you, Uzumaki-san. From Yugito and from…others."
"You have? Really?" Naruto looked out of the corner of his eyes to Yugito who was blushing a soft shade of red and looking everywhere but at Naruto.
"Yes, you're quite the young man from what I've heard from some people from Konoha." At this Naruto scowled.
"Then all you heard are lies." There was certain coldness in Naruto's tone that was soon forgotten by his blinding grin. "I'm cooler than that."
Kushina smiled back at him, tense and not quite open, "Indeed. I think I'm going to believe what Yugito-san and Gaara-san have to say about you."
"Okay, that's enough, it's there any reason you're here at all, Yui-san?" Yugito had stepped forward crossing her arms and trying to lower the level of embarrassment she was feeling.
"Yes, apart from trying to get a hold of you all I was also told to direct you to the Tower." The red-head tuned to Killer B who was openly scowling at her. "Raikage-sama has everything set for dinner."
"Oh, finally, I'm starving." Ikkaku mumbled earning a few noises of approval from Haku and Naruto.
The group moved towards the Raikage Tower, the whole meeting had been surreal and she had witnessed the love each one of them professed to Naruto. She had witnessed the son she had once abandoned smile with happiness had seen him relax around this people. And something inside of her stirred with pain and sorrow.
Her heart beat with regret.
It wasn't until the voices of the group sound diminished and the blond hair disappeared in the distance she realized she wasn't alone. A few steps ahead was the white-haired boy she had met early, standing proudly with his arms crossed. Once he turned, Kushina could see the power emanating from him, she could see the young man wasn't a normal captain. There was something else in his stance, in his eyes, in the voice filled with authority and command.
"Is it true, then?" Kushina glanced at Hitsugaya; she didn't need to ask what the young man was talking about as she could see it in his eyes. For a moment she seemed affront by the sharp mind this young man seemed to have at how quick he had picked up the signals. Even with her and Naruto looking so different.
"You have quite the mind there, Hitsugaya-san." Toshiro narrowed his eyes, anger evident in his teal eyes while the woman in front of him presented herself tired and resigned.
"I have never seen such a brilliant mind since I last worked with a Nara."
Toshiro scowled distasted and anger sparkling in his face, Kushina sighed taking her right hand up and squeezing the bridge of her nose feeling the weight of the question, of those questions he hadn't asked yet.
"Now I understand clearly." Toshiro mumbled shaking his head, Kushina shivered under the unexpected gust of freezing air. He took a deep breath his voice was clear, firm and filled with authority and threat.
"I understand completely now and, because of that I hope you understand, Kushina-san." Kushina frowned narrowing her own eyes waiting for Toshiro to continue. "I want you as far away from Naruto as you can manage."
"Please, Kushina-san, do not tempted me because you won't like the results." Toshiro turned his back to the woman before letting his last words hanging in the air.
"I hope we never see again, Uzumaki Kushina."
Kushina had her fist clenched tightly and was about to step towards Toshiro when a hand wrapped itself around her forearm. She turned sharply, tears clearly in her eyes when she found herself looking directly at Hirako Shinji. He had his eyes ahead of them, but he soon turned them to Kushina's ones.
"You shouldn't press your luck with that one." Kushina snorted clenching her teeth while freeing her arm.
"Why? Is he one of your…kin?" She mumbled with a waved of her hand, Shinji smirked at her bowing his head.
"Yeah, he is. A powerful one as well." Kushina sighed embracing herself as she tried to hold her emotions in control.
"I thought I...I would never feel…" She trailed off looking aside as Shinji gave her a contemplative look.
"You know? I would feel this urge to hurt you if you didn't feel like you're feeling right now." Kushina was taken aback by the laid back comment; Shinji glanced down at her before shrugging.
"At least you're showing you care. Even if it doesn't matter now."
Kushina felt the silent tears sliding down her cheeks. She hated the feeling she was getting right now. She had sacrificed everything so Minato's dream could be accomplished, so his name could become the name of a hero in the shinobi world and in his own world. She had sacrificed her life to stop the destruction of Soul Society and the Shinobi world this, however, didn't mean she had to like it or she was ready to face the consequences.
"Let's go, A wants you to attend this dinner." Said Shinji turning around and making his way back to the Raikage's tower, Kushina was following close behind him her mind a mess of confusing thoughts.
Dawn was arriving with a bitter, unwelcome cold.
Naruto was resting his back on the roof watching at the slowly clearing sky. Sleep had eluded him that night; his mind was still filled with thoughts of the dinner the night before. Dinner had been quite an unexpected event with several people Naruto didn't know but, apparently, knew him pretty well. The blond couldn't pinpoint exactly why everything seemed suspicious. Perhaps it was the cold behavior coming from his taichou, maybe those weird glances Yui-san was sending his way or those strange comments coming from the Raikage and that blond called Shinji.
But then Naruto's thoughts drifted to the conversation regarding the disappearances. The faces of Yugito and Gaara, the seriousness of the conversation held by Killer B, Naruto knew there was something else but none of them mentioned it. When he had tried to ask the Kyuubi, the fox had remained silent ignoring every attempt from Naruto to make him speak.
Naruto heard movement behind him, his shoulders tense he glanced out of the corner of his eyes to see Gaara approaching him. The red-head sat beside him a concern frown marking his face.
"You couldn't sleep either?" Gaara turned to Naruto who was shooting him a curious stare; the red-head shrugged pressing his right hand to his chest.
"The seal they used to incarcerate Shukaku inside of me doesn't allow me to go to sleep." Gaara shrugged lifting his head to the sky. "I can't sleep unless I want Shukaku unleashing his anger and idiotic ways on this village."
I resent that.
"That…sucks, really." Gaara offered Naruto a bitter smile and another roll of his shoulders.
"I'm used to it, now more so than when I was younger." Gaara looked at the village spreading out on his feet. "Yugito and Killer B-sensei helped me gain control over Shukaku, to have access to his power without losing myself. We're still working on the teamwork part of the deal; Shukaku finds it humiliating to help a mortal like me."
Naruto chuckled shaking his head, "Man, I don't know how you guys do it. I can't have access to the Kyuubi without the stupid fox arguing or ignoring me, he only helps me when he is in danger as well."
Naruto and Gaara went silent, both of the contemplating the coming dawn and their relationship with their respective Bijuu. It was Naruto the first one to speak again, his mind already made about how to proceed next. Last night had not only brought an uncomfortable dinner but also a serious talk with Hitsugaya. The young Captain of the Tenth Division knew there was more to the tales about the disappearances that the Jinchuuriki had let on. It took a glance and carefully placed words for Naruto to understand what was expected of him. His taichou had made it clear before preceding to the rooms the Raikage had offered.
It was time Naruto put in practice the subtle talk Byakuya had tried to pummel into him.
"So…how…I mean…you know…I've been living under a rock." Gaara looked confused; he lifted a non-existent eyebrow at Naruto who smiled at the red-head while cursing mentally. "I mean, I …what is going on around here?"
He could almost feel the slap on his head from Rukia, the roll of eyes from Rangiku and Haku; the amused chuckled from Gin and the killer intent from Byakuya and Toshiro.
Gaara could only blink for a few seconds before speaking, "I don't think I understand clearly what you mean about living under a rock, but…what exactly do you want to know?"
"Everything if possible." Naruto sat up placing his elbows on his knees and resting his head on his hands. "I really haven't heard anything from anyone."
"I'm a missing-nin. My siblings are working hard, preparing themselves from one of them to become the next Kazekage." Naruto pursed his lips understanding the implications of what Gaara was revealing.
"The world is at a silent war. Akatsuki had made clear its intentions and has been terrorizing most of the population." Gaara sighed. "Many are afraid to discover what they are doing with the Jinchuuriki they trapped."
"But, so far they only had two, right?" Gaara nodded but his eyes gleam with something Naruto couldn't grasp.
"That we know…after the Four Tails disappear and the Fife Tails was captured many of us went into hiding. Of course, the only ones known to the rest of the world are Yugito and B, but that's because Akatsuki isn't strong yet to go against a whole village."
"At least that's what you're hoping for, right?"
Gaara gave Naruto a half-smile, "Exactly. But the danger resides in the fact they are using the Jinchuuriki as the weapons we were meant to be."
"You know? I still don't get that part." Naruto turned his attention to Gaara, his blue eyes gleaming with curiosity. "You kept mentioning about they using a Jinchuuriki to eat human souls but it all sounds…farfetched."
Gaara locked eyes with Naruto; they stared at each other for several minutes until Naruto saw understanding in Gaara's eyes. The red-head smiled bowing his head to the side.
"So, that's what you want to know." Gaara sent an inquisitive stared, Naruto merely chuckled.
"What do you know about the Bijuu, Naruto? Apart from the fact we call them demons?"
Naruto shrugged, "Nothing much, I never thought it would be important to know anything except that one of them is sealed inside of me. That maybe I can get access to its power and that it's annoying as hell."
Gaara snorted agreeing with the blond, he then proceeded to play with his sand making small figures representing him, Naruto, Yugito and Killer B. There was another figure, one Naruto didn't recognized. It was taller than him, with something like a helmet on his head, he wear hakama pants with some sort of tunic on. Suddenly the sand brought from behind it four tails.
"Tell me, Naruto, in your travels; have you ever heard about those who called themselves Vasto Lorde?"
Pain rested his back against the closest wall, arms crossed he tried to not look towards Konan who surely was wearing a scowl her eyes bright with warning. Itachi had narrated what had happened with Naruto, Yugito and Gaara; he spoke of the level they were in and of the companions who worked as buck-up to Naruto.
"Just say the word and we'll be back to subjugate them." Replied Kisame with a blood thirsty smirk, Konan snorted but Pain remained impassive.
"That would be unnecessary." Pain strolled towards the closest balcony watching the everlasting rain fall heavily on the roofs of the city. "We need the Jinchuuriki alive and well. They are useless to our purpose if they are hurt in any way."
"Then, what do you want us to do? We can't exactly go inside Kumogakure without declaring war to them and the rest of the shinobi world."
Itachi did have a point, of course; but as Konan watched Pain she knew what the young man was thinking. She knew what the next step would be; Madara and Ulquiorra wouldn't allow this chance to escape their hands.
"You worry too much, Itachi. Who said anything about us going to Kumogakure?"
And it was the barely there smile what made Itachi shivered, his mind working on ways to do something before those he held dear to him could be harm.
In another room, darkened by the lack of light or windows Uchiha Madara gritted his teeth. His eye never left the stoic form of Ulquiorra, the man was watching with an expressionless face a piece of parchment delivered to him by one of those minions. Those souls he stole and restored to a somewhat mindless, obedient creature.
Ulquiorra lifted a single eyebrow turning to face Madara with the same expressionless face.
"It seems our Master wants us to test the boy."
"What? No capture him? Not tied him tightly and be over with this charade?" Replied Madara waving his hands in the general direction. Ulquiorra shook his head placing the piece of parchment carefully inside his pocket.
"No, he wants the boy for himself." Madara cringed, his expression guard by the mask covering his face. "We should only test him, push him to his limits and then see what happens."
"But, in doing so we risk a lot of things in this world." Madara had his voice under control, trying to make the man in front of him understand the dangers of what they were about to do. "It would make Akatsuki the spotlight of the anger coming from Kumogakure and the rest of the shinobi world."
"That's not important." Madara went to protest but stopped when the black-haired man lifted a hand. "Eventually, you would bring war to this land, we're only moving forward the date…it would give you the time and the resources to finally capture the rest of the Jinchuuriki."
"It is still a lot to risk." Madara cocked his head forcing his voice to remain calm, his arms to stay still. "He can test the boy, he have access to him the way we do not…surely Ai…"
Madara clenched his fist tightly, drawing blood from his palm when he felt the slightly raised in reiatsu. Ulquiorra took short, confident steps towards him his eyes gleaming dangerously in the dark.
"Soul Society is not the place for the boy to let go of the beast…To let go of himself…" Ulquiorra moved past Madara, a hand on the door. "Besides, in this world we can hurt the ones he loves without drawing too much attention to our real intentions. Or, our Master."
"Really, we shouldn't be surprised." Mumbled Jiraiya who was running alongside Kakashi, morning had arrived and as soon as it did they started they journey again.
Kakashi didn't say anything, he knew as well as Jiraiya that Yugao would never remain faithful to their group if there was a chance she could save Naruto. If there was a chance she could see him again. And, apparently, Shikamaru had said to her whatever she needed to hear. His black eye moved out to the corner watching closely as Ino held back a subtle smile, she did tell them Shikamaru wouldn't stay prisoner for too long and the moment he freed himself he would search for the most logical option.
"I know, still this could be consider treason…we have to get to her and Naruto before anything bad happens."
Jiraiya couldn't agree more, he had this strange feeling at the pit of his stomach that something was about to happen. It didn't make him feel better when he noticed the expressions on the pink-haired girl and the freaky guy who was always smiling. There was just something odd about the two of them…Beside Jiraiya, Tenzo was merely wondering how they would deal with this situation. He knew why he was there, to gain control over Naruto and the power he held between himself. But…if he looked closely, this seemed more a family matter than anything else. The hidden part of his mind, the one trained to deal with dangerous enemies wondered just how prepare he was to face a Jinchuuriki that may or may not have control over his demon.
"Tell me, Kakashi-sensei, do you have a plan? Naruto already prove himself to be quite adept to evade us." Neji tilted his head his voice leaving it clear the blond would probably do the same all over again.
"Yes, but this time around it's not only you but also Jiraiya-sama, Tenzo and me." Replied Kakashi shrugging. "It is true he has improved since we last met him but he can't be so good to face all of us at the same time."
"But, he isn't alone and his companions used some weird type of jutsu or something." Commented Kiba with a frown.
Kakashi didn't say anything but his face showed the worry he felt. Yes, they all had described the way this strangers fought, how they moved and the weapons they used. But it was the word flying and floating what had Kakashi's mind going overdrive, by the frown Jiraiya was wearing Kakashi knew he wasn't the only one.
In the whole shinobi world the only one capable of flying through the skies was the Tsuchikage: Onoki. If Naruto, the heir of both Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina, was in the hands of Iwagakure, well…
Of course, if Kakashi was to choose the less of two evils he would be happy that Naruto fell to the hands of Iwa rather than to be a puppet of Orochimaru, as Sakura seemed to think.
"He is alive, Kakashi-sensei. The boy, Haku…"
Could it be true? Maybe, Naruto was playing some sort of trick to Sakura? But, then again, why chose Haku instead of Sasuke? And, if Haku was 'alive' then…what the hell was happening?
"Kiba, can you smell something?" Kiba went ahead of Kakashi and the others, he sniffed the air from left to right, Akamaru beside him doing the same. After a few moments Kiba furrowed his brows narrowing his eyes at some point in the distance.
"Yes, I do."
"Well, what is it?" Replied impatiently Ino, Kiba turned to glare at her.
"It's a vanishing essence. Several actually." Kiba scratched his chin before continuing. "It is at least five kilometers away and I don't recognized most of them…there is one I'm familiar with."
"Who is it?"
"Gaara, the red-head from Suna." Kakashi perked up looking interested as he approached Kiba.
"Gaara? Who else?"
Kiba sniffed once more, "I can, barely mind you, smell Shikamaru in that direction." Replied Kiba pointing at some mountains in the far distance, then he pointed in front of him.
"There I can smell Naruto and Gaara, but they aren't alone." Kiba shook his head. "Weren't, the essence seems powerful still because I smell blood. A fight."
Ino looked impressed; she took in Kiba before smiling approvingly at the Inuzuka. "Well, done boy. I didn't know you were as good as Hana and your mother."
Kiba narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Ino, "I don't know if I should feel offended or flattered."
Ino rolled her eyes but before she could reply Kakashi stepped forward having already summoned his dogs.
"Well, Pakkun…do you know what do, right?"
"Yes, don't worry, Kakashi we will send you a message once we have the answers you seek." Pakkun and the rest of the summoning left leaving behind the group of Konoha ninja.
"Kakashi-sensei, why did you send them? We could always go ourselves and try…"
"We can't." Sakura trailed off to look back at Neji who raised an eyebrow at her.
"Why? It is just…"
"From this point on we will be entering Kumo, before doing anything drastic we may as well make sure Naruto was around here."
"Neji has a point. The far we can push a confrontation with Kumogakure the better." Jiraiya then sent a serious glance at the group. "However, if it is necessary…we're going in and do what we best do."
"Provoke wars?" Kiba blinked confused, Ino slapped him in the head while Neji and Sakura rolled their eyes.
"No, you idiot," Ino glared at Kiba before turning her attention to the distance. "We never abandon our comrades."
"This means, if Naruto-kun and Shikamaru-kun need us we are going in." The look of determination in Hinata's face came as a surprise from most members of the group. But neither of them contradicted her, outside the main circle, in the shadows Sai smiled. A bird made of ink flying away in the distance.
"Oh, Taichou! You look adorable!" Toshiro twitched, he fixed his glare, tensed his muscles, growled dangerously and still the woman grabbed him tightly against her chest codling him while babbling away about his cuteness.
"Matsumoto! Let go of me!" Toshiro moved away from the woman who was smiling with glee at the obvious blush on Toshiro's face and his poor attempts at covering his chest and fixing his bed hair.
"What the hell are you doing here this early in the morning, anyway?" Mumbled the young Taichou while evading those knowing grey eyes. "You're usually up just after mid-day."
"Whoa, Taichou, you're grumpy in the morning." Toshiro growled but said nothing in return. After Toshiro had fixed himself, well-aware Matsumoto was following his every move, the young man turned around his face fixed with seriousness and authority.
"We need to leave. Now." Matsumoto frowned searching into her Captain's eyes for something else, for some explanation. The look he gave her told her this wasn't the moment to ask those questions.
"I need you to take Naruto with you. Take him with Ichinose and meet with Ayagesawa and Kurotsuchi."
"What about you, Sir?" Toshiro cocked his head his hand grabbing Hyourinmaru.
"I'll be right behind you; I just have a few things to fix here before we leave this world." Toshiro looked outside the window then turned his eyes to Matsumoto. "We have everything we need. I think it's time for us to go back."
Toshiro strapped Hyourinmaru but the hand Matsumoto placed on top of his stopped him. He sighed not meeting her eyes rather avoiding the unasked questions.
"Just, be careful Taichou." Toshiro snorted lifting his face to give Rangiku a half smirk.
"I'll be okay. I'm more worried about you. You're the one who is gonna leave with Uzumaki and we know how he can get…"
Rangiku winked at him, "Don't worry, I know how to keep him under control."
Toshiro grimaced, "I don't wanna know, as long as it doesn't make me have to explain things to his uncle or Central 46…"
"Why, Taichou, I'm offend you even suggest such a thing…I'm the epitome of discreet and persuasion."
Toshiro rolled his eyes exiting the room with Matsumoto closed behind him.
"Uh, so…do you even know where are we going?"
Shikamaru rolled his shoulders while following Yugao down a road he didn't recognized. He could tell by the general direction they had taken they were somewhere between Konoha and Kumo. Shikamaru couldn't help but think how all roads seemed to lead to that direction. For a moment, the memory of the two Jinchuuriki the place had in its domain made Shikamaru think this could be one of the reasons.
But, there was a fire in Yugao's eyes after he told her what had happened between him and Naruto the young Nara couldn't quite explain. The woman certainly knew more than she let on during these three years.
"This is a neutral ground. It was a road used a long time ago, mainly by the Kage when they want some diplomatic meeting." Yugao frowned lightly before adding.
"It was only used once…it ended up with the first emissary from Kumo trying to kidnap Hyuuga Hinata."
Shikamaru opened his eyes slightly impress, ´well, you learn a new thing every day.'
"And, why are we here? Naruto is probably down in Iron Country or Hidden Dragon…"
"No, he is not." Yugao smiled with conviction.
"Why are you so sure?" Shikamaru was interested by now, Yugao spoke with such certainty about this, as if she really knew where Naruto was.
"It would be too obvious for him to go to the place he told you he was going to." Yugao flashed a confident smile at Shikamaru as she continued. "Going to Iron Country or Hidden Dragon would be obvious and he would expect you to go there first. Naruto isn't a fool and he knows there are other ways to obtain information."
"That means…he is going to look for someone who can give him answers?" Asked Shikamaru to which Yugao nodded briefly. "And…that someone is in Kumogakure? Do you realized, Yugao-san, this is madness?"
"Oh, yes." Shikamaru lifted an eyebrow his black eyes showing he wasn't reassure by Yugao's enthusiastic tone of voice. The woman chuckled waving her hand dismissively.
"Oh, I mean to say, I'm sure he is going to Kumo." Yugao tilted her head, her features softened as her mind took her into a world of memories. "Someone told me of the growing friendship he felt for a fellow Jinchuuriki and a ninja from Kumo."
Shikamaru blinked a few times then in a soft whisper, "Nii Yugito."
"Yes, and she isn't the only one there." This time there was doubt flickering in her eyes but it soon disappeared replaced by a look of eagerness when they could glimpse the outskirts of the village.
"Who else is in here? And again…Madness? Really? This isn't the most intelligent of plans." Shikamaru sighed when the woman didn't stop. "And, who told you about it? It took us a lot of time to figure it out…."
Yugao turned around her eyes dancing with mirth, her lips quirked in a half smile.
"Why, Shikamaru, do you really think I don't know my Naruto-kun?" Shikamaru almost snorted but decided against it so he merely shook his head.
"No, I think if there was anyone in the village who love or knew Naruto better than any of us, it is you, Yugao-san."
Yugao was about to smile when she felt eyes on her. She tensed up, her eyes narrowing; Shikamaru took just a second to follow the woman in her guard position. He frowned not having felt anything specific but knowing, without a doubt, there was a threat close by. His eyes found Yugao's ones and the woman was already grasping the hilt of a kunai.
"We came in peace." Yugao almost snorted when Shikamaru spoke up, lifting both of his arms while glancing around him. The village was just a few distance away, it was possible some of the ninja from Kumo had decided to come and see what two Konoha-nin were doing so far away from home.
"We just lost our way, our weapons and we were looking just for a day of rest that it wasn't the cold forest."
Each and every single word out of Shikamaru was filled with said tiredness, with a hint of defeat and weakness. Yugao tried to hold her own emotions in check or else, she was going to smile at how easy, and how convincing Shikamaru seemed to lie.
"We're just travelers. Please, we don't want any troubles…"
The wind blow strongly this time, Shikamaru swallowed hard his shoulders slumping forward, his feet separating slowly. He saw out of the corner of his eyes several shadows in between the forest.
"The problem is, Shinobi-san." Said a voice, deep and cold that sent shivers of alarm down Shikamaru's and Yugao's back. "I don't come in peace. I want trouble…and the both of you just present me with the perfect opportunity."
Yugao had felt it before.
The overwhelming pressure in the air, the sudden helplessness of the air around her being stuffy while an invisible weight fell on her. The difference between that time and this one was this time around she didn't feel safe. On the contrary, this sensation made her aware she wasn't unbeatable and dead was just at the end of the sharp blade pointed directly at her.
Naruto splashed some water on his face. Eyelids closed while he let the fresh sensation of cold water touch his skin. He took a deep breath, his hands holding tightly the sink knowing he wasn't alone in the bathroom, but also knowing Gaara wasn't about to say anything.
It took him a moment to organize his thoughts, to process everything Gaara had told him.
"Hey! I was looking for you two. Where were you?" Naruto straightened up Yugito was standing beside Gaara eying him curiously with a hint of worry on her eyes.
"Naruto, you look like hell."
"Thank you, Yugito-chan." Naruto smiled dryly while drying his face, Yugito shrugged smiling back at him.
"Sorry, but you are. Didn't you sleep?"
Naruto glanced at Gaara then back at Yugito, "No, I didn't."
Yugito went silent her eyes went from one young man to the other taking in their expressions, then realization drew on her face when she noticed the bitter smile on Gaara's face.
"You told him!" She exclaimed in a hush whispered, Naruto scowled taking step forward.
"Why shouldn't he?" He asked with indignation tingeing his tone.
"He has a right to know…he is the only Jinchuuriki ignorant of everything regarding the Bijuu."
Yugito bit her lower lip looking at Naruto with conflicted emotions in her, Naruto from his part wasn't too happy with her reaction; he raised an eyebrow directing his words to her.
"Why wouldn't Gaara told me? If you have told me this the first time…"
"What? If I have told you what? Would you have come?" Yugito was now standing pretty close to Naruto she could feel his warm breath on her skin. Gaara took a step backwards feeling uncomfortable.
"No, but at least I would have understood why was so important from me to learn to control the Kyuubi's chakra." Naruto placed a hand on his abdomen his eyes gleaming with tiredness and confusion. "I would have made something…I don't know…"
Yugito lowered her eyes, her voice was soft as she spoke, "I guess it doesn't matter now…But, now that you know I guess you can understand why you need to stay here."
Naruto scratched his head looking uncomfortable as Yugito glanced at him, "You can't tell me after hearing Gaara you're leaving again…Naruto you need to learn how to control the Kyuubi and his chakra!"
"Why? Why is it so important? I don't even know how the seal works or how everything in general works when dealing with him."
"You guys are so noisy so early in the morning." The three Jinchuuriki jumped startle, they turned around to see Killer B scratching his head and yawning.
"B! Don't scare me like that! How long have you been there?" Killer B smirked rolling his shoulders while leaning against the threshold.
Oh, goody, a family reunion…we didn't have one of these since I almost, almost, accidentally cripple Shukaku…
I'm not even going to ask…
Naruto wasn't going to ask either, this conversation was a serious one and it was getting to a point in which he may understand some things without having the Kyuubi or Ryuujin bickering inside his head.
"Long enough to know that Naruto knows everything he needs to know." There were three pair of eyebrows lifted and incredulous looks threw Killer B's way. The man smiled happily, feeling accomplished with his comment.
"Then, you can help me convince Naruto to stay here…" Yugito looked hopefully at B but that gleam soon disappeared when the man shook his head.
"I can't make him stay, Yugito. You know that." B then turned his attention to Naruto who felt the weight of his stare even behind B's oval glasses. "But I hope, you know what it means to get a hold of your power as a Jinchuuriki."
Naruto shrugged, "I don't get it completely. He is sealed inside of me; his existence between me made my life a living hell. I deal with it. End of the story."
"But, what about Akatsuki…" Started Yugito and Naruto sent her a sad smile.
"If Akatsuki can't find me they would have to look for another way to start their world domination plan." Then Naruto turned to Gaara with a perplexed look on him. "They're looking for world domination, right?"
"So far it seems that way." Gaara replied dryly.
"Naruto, how can you be so sure they won't find you?" Asked Yugito with concern dripping from her voice, her hand twitching to grab his. Naruto grinned, this time there was confidence behind his grin.
"Oh, believe me, they won't find me…doesn't matter how hard they try…"
Naruto trialed off, the rest of the questions, the rest of the gaps B found in this conversation were left unanswered or fulfilled as the four of them felt it as one. Four pair of eyes stared inside each other when the heaviness of the power pouring in the atmosphere reached their senses. When the Bijuu inside them stirred feeling the familiarity in the air.
"It's near…" Whispered Naruto feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
"It's outside the village!" Exclaimed Yugito and the four of them left the safety of the room towards the source of the huge spiritual pressure.
Ulquiorra kicked Yugao straight on her chest drawing some blood from her; Yugao moaned trying to stand up only to find her shoulder being pierced to the ground by a sword.
"Please, stay down, Yugao-san. You would make everything easier from me if I just kill you at the right moment."
"YUGAO!" Yugao gasped. That voice. She hadn't heard that voice in over three years. With great effort, she turned around to see an enraged Naruto running towards her.
"N-no…No…N-Naruto g-go…No…" She tried to speak but her words transformed in a blood curling scream when the man twisted the sword on her shoulder. There was a moment of blinding pain in which she knew nothing but the pain coming from her shoulder.
Ulquiorra felt his lips curled up in a smile, his green eyes glancing at the enraged blond who was coming at him with a red blade on his hand.
This would be interesting.
AN: How was it? Did you like it? Well, war is approaching and Naruto along with Toshiro and the others will sound have to take a decision...Also, the time for Ichigo to enter the story is approaching, well, what would happen now?
Thank you for reading, your opinions, comments, suggestions, critics (as long as those critics aren't flames) and other things you wanna share are very much welcomed.