Author's Note: Yes. I know. I know. stilldeluded is a very bad person making you wait so long since the last update. stilldeluded is probably an even worse person because for the most part this chapter has been pretty much completed for two months now but he just now finally got around to going back and getting everything looking dainty. It's part of that whole going back and making sure I didn't screw up too bad process. I'm sorry the chapter is so late that it's criminal. But it looks pretty. And it shows I didn't die in a ditch somewhere when I update. That's nice. Death don't sound fun. Goodness I'm quirky right now. XP. Here's your fic.
The days trickled by at a slow pace following the night they arrived at Otogawa's mansion. After a lengthy discussion with Kiba and Tayuya, they decided that if Akatsuki were to attack they would have to give up on Otogawa and flee in separate directions. It would be a lost cause to go up against Akatsuki at the moment. But the rioters were people they could protect Otogawa from.
Naruto was constantly on edge now. It wasn't like when they were being chased by Konoha ninjas. Deep down inside, he still considered them friends...but Akatsuki...they were different. They would capture him and take the fox. Most likely killing him in the process.
He didn't know what else to do with himself other than train. Whenever he had the spare time he'd work on his chakra control. He was beginning to see quite a bit of improvement. He didn't have to pump near as much chakra into his hand to form a rasengan as before. He also switched between sword stances that Kuriyetsu-sensei taught him more fluently.
But even then it still wasn't enough.
He didn't know what it was he was looking for, but Naruto was really beginning to feel the difference between his meager attempts at self-teaching and being taught by Ero-sannin, Iruka-sensei, and Kakashi-sensei. Without someone to guide him, it felt like he just kept running into a brick wall.
Naruto tutted. He didn't feel like thinking about it anymore. He'd just keep doing this basic stuff until he figured out where he was wanting to go with it all. He had made progress. It wasn't much, but it was just enough to keep him going. He just needed to stay positive.
"Look at me! One hand!"
Kiba quirked an eyebrow at Tobi as he flipped into a handstand and put one of his hands behind his back. He then began hopping around while doing some acrobatics that were impressive even by shinobi standards.
Kiba stood just behind Otogawa out of sight. He wanted to make it seem like he was defenseless to provoke any would-be attackers to show their position, but luckily in the last week there had been no signs of any threat. Naruto, Ino, and Tayuya were all out training at the moment. In all honesty, Kiba thought it was a little impractical. If Otogawa were to be attacked right now, there was no way that Kiba alone could keep him protected. But Kiba also knew that with the threat of Akatsuki coming that training was a critical necessity.
He watched Otogawa somberly as Tobi's performance came to an end. As much as Kiba hated to admit it, there wasn't much chance of Otogawa coming out of this alive. Kiba just decided he'd do all that he could, and if that wasn't enough then he'd just try harder the next time.
Without even realizing it, Tobi plopped down right in front of him and crossed his legs. Kiba regarded Tobi as well as he could a man that wore a mask. Tobi looked up at him inquisitively.
"You've got some serious skills." Kiba acknowledged noncommittally. He wasn't too sure how to converse with the jester.
"Really?" Tobi brought a thumb up to his chin in thought, "I guess I never really thought it was anything special."
"But you make money off of it, right?" Kiba inquired. "Surely, that's got to count for something."
Tobi simply shrugged. "Not really. People are just really easy to amuse. I do a few tricks and suddenly people started paying me for it. I guess I'm just immune to the praise by now."
"Indeed. It's the same in business as well." Otogawa stated, butting into the two's conversation. "You get all sorts of attention when you're well known. There are some people who take in all the glory and let their ego get the better of them. There are others who are so grateful that they can't help but feel blessed by all the attention. But more often than not, those acclaimed people are like Tobi-san in that they become immune to the attention altogether."
Kiba had never really thought about it before. But now that he thought back on it, many of the jounin in the Leaf Village were well known throughout the city. Kurenai-sensei was always polite with the common folk, but she always seemed kind of indifferent to them whenever they praised her for her skills.
He looked to Tobi who was rocking himself back and forth in a state of boredom. Kiba then watched perplexedly as Tobi did something that Kiba thought impossible. He flipped and landed on his pinky finger. Kiba's jaw dropped as Tobi balanced himself on his pinky finger for well over a minute or two.
"How the hell are you even doing that?" Kiba asked. "Even by shinobi standards...that's just insane."
Tobi didn't acknowledge Kiba. He just stood completely still. Otogawa also was watching the scene with amused curiosity. Upon further inspection, Kiba discovered that Tobi was snoring! He had fallen asleep while balancing solely on his pinky finger!
"Hey!" Kiba exclaimed, shaking Tobi awake in a comedic fashion. "How are you doing that?"
"Huh?" Tobi barely registered as his head was shook violently back and forth. "Doing what?"
"Those tricks you keep showing off." Kiba stated, crossing his arms testily. "I've never seen anything like it. ...Teach me."
"No." Tobi yawned.
Such an easy refusal caught Kiba off guard. "Why not?" He asked irritably.
"Because...Tobi is a good boy!" Tobi said in an annoying sing-song voice. "Why should Tobi teach the old dog new tricks?"
Kiba blinked at the ironic statement. He almost wondered if Tobi was familiar with the Inuzuka clan. But now wasn't really the time to question him about it.
"It would suit me and Akamaru's fighting style."
"I thought his name was Otogawa." Tobi said while pointing at Otogawa. Kiba slapped his forehead.
"Akamaru is my dog!" Kiba yelled.
"You're his dog?" Tobi exclaimed to Otogawa, shocked by this unforeseen plot twist.
Otogawa was reeling with laughter as Kiba's frustrations grew.
"Quit changing the subject on me!"
Tobi picked up a stick from a nearby tree, completely ignoring Kiba, and threw it across the yard.
"Fetch the stick, sir!" He ushered Otogawa along, pointing towards the stick in the distance. "Come on! You can do it, boy!"
Kiba just shook his head. Getting Tobi to cooperate would be like teaching a brick wall to sing. As irritable as he now was with Tobi, he couldn't wait for Ino to come and take over his post. If he was going to come anywhere close to Tobi's skill then he'd need to start practicing as soon as possible.
Ino looked to Tayuya feeling the horror of betrayal for the first time in her life. Tayuya only spoke two words.
Ino felt cold throughout her body. She was having to fight to keep her vision from fading. A hacking cough erupted from her body, and her blood splattered violently against the ground. A bizarre numbness was overtaking her, and Ino couldn't help but wonder if she was dieing...How did things turn out this way...?
Right...She had asked Tayuya to help her with her training. But Tayuya had refused...and then attacked her while her guard was down. Ino only had time to turn back and see the fist of Tayuya's doki connect with her body before she fell in a crumpled heap. She then was bashed over and over again until she lied in her current state.
"I said get up!" Tayuya yelled, kicking Ino in the head. Ino rolled over from the impact as a new bruise began forming across her cheek.
Ino lay broken. Unmoving. Tayuya tutted at the battered body.
"What kind of pathetic excuse for a ninja dies from such weak punches? I swear if you die this isn't my fault..." Tayuya told Ino as she checked her vitals for a pulse. She tapped Ino across the cheek a few times until the girl regained consciousness.
Ino's vision came back to her long enough to see Tayuya hovering over her. She made to speak, but no words came out. Feeling a slight speck of strength, Ino managed to push her hands over her failing kidney and began pumping healing chakra through her body.
"God your hopeless. Very first rule of being a ninja. Expect the unexpected." Tayuya told Ino who barely managed to hear her. "Work on your endurance. Hell. Work on everything. If a couple of weak punches like that can take you down, then you aren't worth shit out here."
Tayuya stood up and made her way back to the mansion as Ino lay healing herself. Ino didn't know why, but she felt ashamed of herself. Just what had she been doing all this time? She was always used to having others around to come and save her when things got too hard for her to handle.
She hadn't actually realized it up until now. But things really were going to keep going from bad to worse, and the others wouldn't always be around to protect her...she needed to stop worrying about looking pretty...and start fighting her own battles.
It was kind of pathetic that she had to be beaten senseless before she could learn that lesson.
She pushed herself up having finally recovered and couldn't help but notice how much chakra she had expended while trying to save her life. She was exhausted.
But she had found something that she had been lacking before. Resolve. And with it, she would become worthy to fight alongside Naruto, Kiba, and Tayuya.
Tayuya walked at a brisk pace toward Kiba who was in the middle of mimicking Tobi's movements and failing miserably. As she made her way up behind Kiba, Tobi did the splits for the coup de grace of his performance. Kiba, once again, tried to mimic Tobi but his legs were not used to moving that far away from one another. So much for being a ninja...
Tayuya leaped at the opportunity thrown before her. She jumped and landed on his back, which forcibly pushed Kiba the rest of the way down to the ground. Kiba screamed a high-pitched scream as Tayuya flipped off him to face him.
Beside Otogawa, Tobi was laughing his hardest and rolling around at the display. If Tayuya didn't know better, she'd say that Tobi had expected for that to happen, and planned it all out as she sneaked up behind Kiba.
"What did you do that for?" Kiba squeaked as he clutched himself in pain.
Tayuya shrugged. "I'm borrowing your mutt. See ya."
Tayuya blatantly ignored Kiba as he began protesting random nonsense about leaving Akamaru alone. She discovered the dog was sleeping in Kiba's room. After much searching on her part, the blind redhead found a walking cane and a pair of sunglasses. With all these things in hand, she made her way down to the city.
Although the city died by nightfall, Tayuya was reminded rather unpleasantly that Avel had a wide range of noises that had to be filtered out. The last time she was here, she kept bumping into people and signs and buildings galore. Luckily, she had the dog with her this time to help her find her way around.
Akamaru barked as Tayuya reached out to open a door that was in front of her. As she opened it, she was greeted by a refreshing breeze to cool herself from the heat. As she crossed the threshold, the smell of cigarettes and alcohol graced her nose. It was a bar. The same bar that she visited when she heard talk of the rebellion against Otogawa. Maybe if she hung around she'd gather some intelligence as to what had become of the rioters.
An hour passed within the bar with nothing of much note happening. Customers talked. Tayuya listened. But none of the hushed voices spoke of the riots. It was almost as if it had all fallen off the face of the Earth. But Tayuya knew better than that. The fact that it was being kept quiet meant that the citizens were now a lot more organized. Perhaps they had a leader.
"I recognize you."
The voice caught Tayuya off guard as she hadn't been expecting to engage in any sort of conversation. But more importantly...did this guy know who she was? Was she going to have to make a break for the door. She took note of the bar. The atmosphere was still lighthearted. This eased Tayuya's worries as she listened to the man speak up again.
"You are one of the spry one's friends. His roommate from the boat if I am not mistaken."
She had no clue who the man was, but if he knew Naruto and her it would be trouble. She was going to have to deal with him.
"You want to talk? Fine. Follow." Tayuya sighed as she felt around for Akamaru's leash to which the man handed it to her.
They walked out of the bar and into the hustle and bustle of the city. They stayed that way for quite some while with Tayuya leading him through several dicey locations (with help from Akamaru) to unnerve her opponent. Unfortunately, the man seemed rather at ease with her little mind game, which only helped to further Tayuya's irritable mood.
They finally stopped next to a playground in the park as children played innocently unaware of the battle that would soon be coming between Otogawa's guard and the city's rioters.
"The riots will begin in one month's time."
Tayuya paused as this sudden information was thrust upon her.
The man continued, "I thought that you all should know at the very least. You've taken up guard of Amatsu after all."
"...and why are you telling me this?" Tayuya asked.
"Because I want you all to leave." the man stated. "I trained the spry one for that short period we were on the boat. It was merely the basics of swordsmanship, but within that short period I grew fond of my little pupil. Maybe it's just me growing old and clinging to petty relationships. I don't know. But I do not wish to see him die for this lost cause. Especially when it can be so easily avoided."
"God you talk a lot." Tayuya snorted, catching the man completely off guard with her disrespectful attitude . "So you're the old man who was teaching Uzumaki then. So is it safe to say we're going to have to deal with you when these riots begin."
There was a pause as a faint breeze blew Tayuya's hair across her face. Finally the old man answered.
"Indeed you will. Many of the men who had been occupying the boat trip were men I had hired to come aid in ending Amatsu's selfish tyranny. This city is my home, and I will die before I see it suffer any longer."
Tayuya laughed once again taking control of the conversation.
"God you really lay it on thick don't you." She laughed while applauding him. "Let me tell you a little something about your beloved little pupil. He's stubborn about his decisions. He'll try to protect Otogawa no matter what you may say. Trust me. I'd know. This little riot? It's passed the point where words will be enough to end it. I'm guessing you'd know that better than anyone."
The man smirked at Tayuya's feisty spirit but sighed a moment later. "I have said what I needed to say. Please inform Uzumaki of where my allegiance lies at the very least."
Tayuya snorted a final time as Akamaru growled at the man. "I'll be more than happy to do that, and it's going to be downright fucking hilarious when he cuts your throat with those same damn sword tricks you taught him."
Tayuya turned her back on the man as he turned his back on her and they walked away in separate directions.
"I will not leave this city no matter what may come." Otogawa announced as Tayuya finished up relaying what Kuruiyetsu had told her. "I will not cower and flee because of the words of a monk and the threats of his collected hoodlums."
"Suit yourself." Naruto sighed. "It'd honestly be a lot easier to protect you if you just went into hiding though to be honest."
"That probably would be the wise choice..." Otogawa sighed while really feeling his age. "But I'm passed the point of being reasonable. I will not hide from an enemy that thinks he can waltz in here and destroy everything that I've sacrificed for this country's gain. My pride will not allow it at this point! This is my city."
"Aw. No need to be so grumpy!" Tobi shouted while waving his arms in front of Otogawa. "Just turn that frown upside down!"
Ino frowned at Tobi's antics to cheer up Otogawa as she didn't really feel this was the time or the place for his irritating personality. "Well...I know what I need to be working on I suppose. Though I wish someone would have simply told me instead of nearly killing me over not knowing!"
"Talk's cheap." Tayuya shrugged uninterestedly. "I'm adapting to this blindness fairly well now so I can start working myself a bit more. One month should be no problem in getting me back up to par. If they wanted a chance they should have attacked us within an hour. These rioters are pretty much fucked giving me this much time to learn the lay of the land."
"Confident much?" Kiba yawned in a slightly higher pitch than was normal due to an earlier incident. "Tobi here won't teach me anything, but I've seen more than enough to teach myself his acrobatic style. One month is more than enough time to incorporate it and improve my techniques."
"So you're like a copycat?" Tobi jabbed at Kiba's pride without knowing. Kiba was not a cat of any kind!
"Well I'm glad you're all set." Naruto smiled. "To be honest though...I'm having trouble teaching myself. It's like I've hit a wall and I don't know what else I can do..."
Naruto was surprised that the voice came from Tobi of all people.
"When I hit a wall and don't know what else to do, I just start doing whatever comes to mind. You're a ninja of some sort so there's no real limit to what you can create. Right?"
"Uh...I guess...Still don't really know what I'd do though." Naruto said.
"Maybe you should combine jutsus you already know together." Ino offered to the table.
"That's a great idea!" Naruto shouted, but then suddenly paused.
For some reason a disturbing image of the Harem Jutsu mixed with Kakashi's patented Thousand Years of Death Technique came to mind.
Naruto was beginning to feel that this was going to be a traumatizing month of training.
Author's Note: What can I say about this chapter? I suppose I'm building up to something. That's fun. Tobi is being so Tobi this chapter. Writing him is so hilarious. For the record, we're not going to have a training chapter. Next chapter will take place one month later when stuff starts getting real. Or supposedly starts getting real. However that works. Don't you love it when an author eludes to something and yet also eludes to nothing at the same time. The point of this author's note is that I'm sleepy.
Please remember to do that one thing where you click that REVIEW button. Show me some awesome feedback. Or not so awesome feedback. Or some half awesome and half not so awesome feedback. Just feedback. Feedback in general fuels this fic. It makes me happy and chapters come out quicker. yes believe it or not they do come out quicker. Sometimes. It depends. There are some chapters that like to try and be jerks to me. I have to slap them around for a little long while before they finally see the light of day. I wrote a one-shot today out of boredom. It's not related to Naruto though. Why did I say that? I am scatterbrained at the moment obviously.
You don't want to read me writing nonsensical things all night so I'm going to shut it up now. XP. Chapter 15 will be out HOPEFULLY very soon. Depends on how big a headache it wants to be to me. Later readers! And thank you for being made of super special awesome!