IVX: The Naruto Characters and world were created by Masashi Kishimoto and the Inuyasha characters and world were created by Rumiko Takahashi, but the new original characters are mine. ;;;sticks out tongue;;; IVX... ^_~

~ Ch. 35 - Zenith ~

"This is Rabbit to Sparrow, come in Sparrow."

There was a slight static before the reply came. "This is Sparrow, report Rabbit."

"Target is on the move, hiding her features with a minor henge and heading in a direct rout to the west gate. Orders?"

"Follow, but do not engage unless a situation of direct threat arises."

"Understood." Replied the young ANBU who had only recently taken up the mask of Rabbit. He had been assigned to this detail since the first day and kept a close watch on the lightly featured woman known as Kagome. Nothing had seemed too suspicious in these past few days, but tonight she did something most odd. The woman used what appeared to be a minor henge to change her white hair to black and her aqua eyes to brown. This was also the first time he had seen her wear her ninja gear.

Now, on the darkest night of the month, the curious woman left her house looking ready for a stealth mission. 'What is she up to?' He thought to himself. It was certainly suspicious.

He watched as she approached the gate calmly. 'Something's not right, I can feel it.' Just as his target was approached by the two gate guards he saw something rise out from the shadows behind them. Acting on instinct he dove between the shadows and the guards, just in time to block two well placed kunai.

The guards turned toward him, startled by the sound of metal against metal as he deflected what would have been their deaths. Rabbit threw his own set of kunai at the shadowed figures, but the weapons merely skidded across the ground, missing their marks altogether. He looked to the confused guards, but before he could utter a word of warning the sting of flesh being sliced bloomed across his throat. He blinked in hazed confusion as a warmth spread down his chest and he felt the strength drain out of him instantly. He fell to his knees and brought a hand to his throat. He realized what was happening, but their was no time to waste. As his outraged comrades attacked his killer, he reached numb hands into a hidden pocked and pulled out a kunai attached to a rather potent exploding note. He had just enough strength to throw it into the air before the edges of his vision went black and he finally collapsed to the ground. The last thing he would ever see was the massive army just outside the gate being illuminated by the explosion above. 'At least everyone will... know they're... here.' The masked hero's world faded to black and he knew no more.

Orochimaru's golden eyes watched with satisfaction as his men cut down the guards, but his good mood took a slight dive as the explosion sounded above. He knew he had little time before reinforcements showed up, but that didn't mater. Once his plan was in full swing there would be nothing the leaf could do to stop him. All he had to do was tap into his secret little weapon.

He reached out a sickly pale arm and grasped the back of Kagome's neck, forcing her to face the place he once called his home. The tattoo's around the girls body began to glow brilliantly. The girls head sagged for a moment and her long dark tresses fell to cover her face. It was just as the squad of ANBU approached that the miko's head snapped up. The masked shinobi could see the womans eyes radiating bright white light.

Kagome's arms snapped out to her sides, parallel with the ground. The light suddenly became blinding and engulfed the ANBU. The light seemed to waver and pull back slightly, but Orochimaru merely tighten the grasp on Kagome's neck and focused harder. The woman's mouth snapped open with the same purifying light as her eyes and burst forth with a vengeance, blanketing the entirety of Konoha. Kagome's curse mark exploded tattoo's across her body as the power was forcefully torn out of her.

The ANBU hadn't been dazed long and continued their path straight to the snake sannin. Orochimaru merely tossed the limp body of Kagome to the side and motioned for his own shinnobi to confront the dark opponents. He reached his hand out and his daughter grasped it, following the predetermined battle plan. As he began to sink in the shadows he caught sight of Kagome's limp body and then he turn cold eyes on his offspring. "Don't forget the power source." He reprimanded.

Naruto lurched out of bed in excruciating pain. His body thrashed about uncontrollably and his nerves felt as though they were ablaze. Acid ran through is veins instead of blood and hot ash choked his throat instead of the air he so desperately gasped for. Or at least thats how it felt. He was so far gone with the pain on the inside of his body that he didn't even notice as his thrashing threw him off of the bed and he landed with a hard thud on the floor.

It was several minutes before the pain ebbed and he could form coherent thought. The first thing that came to mind was Kagome. He urged his aching and tired muscles to pull him self off the floor. When he managed that he felt his stomach drop at the empty room he stood in. The panic fueled his veins with adrenalin and he suddenly didn't seem so tired. He sniffed the air to see if he could follow her sent trail, but to his utter surprise, he couldn't smell her. He couldn't smell much of anything.

It was then that he noticed that not only was his sense of smell impaired, so were all his other senses. The room was to dark, the sounds to quiet, and the smells to weak. His mind... his mind was to quiet. 'Kyuubi?' He tried. 'Kyuubi'. He thought a little more forcefully. When still no reaction came he yelled out. "Kyuubi, damn it, answer me you stupid fox!"

No answer.

No Kagome.

'What the hell is going on. Is this some kind of twisted nightmare?' He thought to himself as he gazed at the blunt, weak nails on his fingers. It was then that his weak, human, hearing did pick up some sounds. Ones that only raised the level of dread. There was a series of explosions coming from another direction than that of the training fields.

The ach in his muscles slowly lessened as he sped into his clothes and snatched up a few weapons on his way out the door. He still felt so very weak though. It wasn't just that he lost his advantageous demon senses, but his speed and strength suffered as well. What on earth could have done this to him? Is the thing that kept playing through his head. He would have asked the fox, but that option was obviously out of the question. He pushed the what and how questions from his mind as he sped from his house and focused all his attention on the most important question... where? Where the hell was Kagome.

Tsunade was horror struck when the she realized that Orochimaru was attacking so soon. She had barely been able to set up a preliminary plan for such an event and now here he was, tearing through her village with a level of malevolence the inside of the village walls had never felt before. Even his first attack didn't compare to now.

She tossed another worried glance in the direction of Hiashi Hyuga who repeated, "Byakugan," over and over again. As if he couldn't grasp the reality of his most valued and self defining weapon being taken from him.

A flash caught the edge of her vision and she screamed out in warning. "Hiashi!" The man snapped out of his denial just in time to dodge the kunai heading straight for his heart.

If Tsunade had the time to look, she would have seen the Hyuga clan head look almost horror stricken that he was lacking in the ability to see a mere incoming knife like that. The battle, however, had already reached the Hokage tower and it was time to show the enemy why exactly she had been appointed to the task of leading her village. Her eyes narrowed in determination as she cracked her knuckles.

Hinata had managed to come across one of her teammates in the chaos of a village under siege and the sight was not pretty. Shino had made it out to battle, but his bugs seemed to be rebelling. He had managed to take down his opponent, as evident by the bloody sound nin corpse not two steps in front of him, but he was sprawled out on the ground in a ghastly state. Insects of all types seemed to either be swarming from his body of attacking him directly.

Hinata dropped to her knees at the side of her unconscious teammate. She was at a loss as to what to do for how do you save someone from being eaten alive from the inside out? "Byakkugan." She tried again, but she already knew it would be useless. Previous attempts that night had failed, why would it work now when she needed it most? Not knowing what else to do she began pumping out chakra, trying to draw the energy feeding bugs away from her fallen comrade and onto herself.

"Hinata!" She heard a familiar voice call.

'Inuyasha.' She thought, but when she turned it was not the wight of white hair and gold orbs that met her, but that of black tresses and dark colored eyes. The only immediate thing denoting him as her newest crush was the loud red outfit he seemed so fond of. "Inuyasha?" The name spilled out of her lips with a small sound of disbelief.

He grunted and waved her question off. "I'll explain it to ya later." Came his gruff reply and she knew immediately it was him. "What's wrong with bug man?" He said urgently.

"His insects are... ahhrg." She grunted in an unladylike fashion. "The... bu...bugs are eating him alive." She paused as she smashed the bugs as they now started to swarm her own skin. "I-I'm drawing them away with m-my chakra." She panted out. "Help me." She pleaded.

She felt as his strong, callused hands began patting down her body in an attempt to squash the chakra sucking and flesh burrowing beetles. And even though the situation was totally inappropriate, Hinata couldn't stopped the blush that spread across her cheeks or the tremble of her own hands as she did the same.

The entire village was a battle ground. Every street and rooftop a potential tactical advantage or the scene of a blood bath. At least half of the shinobi population of Konoha were left crippled by the loss of their special abilities. The Nara's couldn't control the shadows, the Akimichi clan couldn't expand any body part at all, and the Inuzuka, along with their dogs were nearly crippled. The human caln members of the Inuzuka were hurting in the same way as Naruto, losing their extra ordinary senses, and their k-9 partners were left dumb founded, only able to attack savagely and unable to coordinate with their humans.

The only ones that seemed to be fairing well were the shinobi of non-clan decent. There were even a couple of which seemed to be taking an upper hand against their demonic opponents. Those that were in this situation were almost unanimously field medic nin. However, this small percentage didn't make up for the lack in power of the village clans. It wasn't just the individual that suffered, but their teammates as well. Learning to work together successfully meant knowing the ins and outs of a partner's fighting technique and also relying on them to fill their roll. Take away the ability to do so and even a long time team could be thorn apart.

Naruto was bloody and tired by the time he reached his commander in chief's side. The blond woman was looking rather ragged herself as she drug an arm across her sweaty forehead, leaving a small trail of crimson in it's wake. "Tsunade!" called Naruto to get her attention. The woman's eyes searched him out and once she saw him she sprinted to his side.

"Naruto! Thank goodness you're here." She yelled over the clashing sounds of battle all around them. "Where's Kagome?" She said frantically looking around for his missing other half. His guilt stricken face was all she need to see to realize what had happened. "Shit!" She cursed and punched an approaching sound nin across the street. "He must have gotten to her and if he got to her then he probably got to the power of the jewel. Damn it!" She rambled to herself.

"Tsunade, what the hell are you talking about!" He demanded, but somewhere in his mind he already knew the answer. Had known the answer since he ran across the first musical note engraved hitai-ate. He had just been refusing the inevitable truth for as long as possible.

"Orochimaru!" Hissed his kage. Naruto had the urge to growl out in agreement, but he suddenly realized she hadn't been answering him. He followed her gaze to the rapidly approaching snake summons. Oh if only he could access the Kyubbi's power now, merging be damned, he would put the bastard down. Naruto bit his thumb and pumped as much chakra into the jutsu as he could muster.

"Summoning Jutsu!" Came the twin cries of the blonds.

Manda, the greatest of the snake summons, came to a stop just as the summoning smoke cleared. Snake, Slug and Toad bosses were all present in the all to familiar stand off.

"Well, well, well." Came Orochimaru's voice with a hissing chuckle. "Isn't this just a walk down memory lane?" His golden eyes peered mischievously over to Naruto. "Or is it?" He snapped his fingers and Kagome's limp body seemed to melt into existence from the shadow at his feet.

"Orochimaru!" Roared Naruto. "Hand her over no or else..."

"Or else you'll what?" He mocked. "Kill me. Ha, like you could even come close now that your little demon has been purified from your system." The sannin's eyes were steely though flashing in amusement. "You're useless now boy. Why don't you run along and play ninja somewhere else." His pasty hands made a shooing motion and he cackled yet again.

"You Traitor!" It was Tsunade's turn to voice her opinion to the bastard. "You have no right to speak to him, so shut your filthy trap!" Her voice shook with uncontrolled rage. "Katsuyu!"

"Right!" Came the reply of her summons. The female slug flung her mistris through the air at the snake contractor and burst into hundreds of smaller slugs, all racing to ingulf the outside of Manda. The ridiculously large purple snake opened it's jaws wide, awaiting his easily obtained snack, but the toad's pierced tung flug out and snapped it's powerful maws shut and Naruto also launched himself at the snake summoner. Orochimaru looked mad for half a second before the cruel smile came back full force.

He lifted his arms up and worked them like a puppet master and Kagome's body suddenly came to life. Just as Tsunade landed, Kagome's foot flew out and smashed a devastating blow to the older woman's solar plexus. A moment later, Orochimaru was stepping back as Naruto also landed on the scaly head. Kagome came crashing between himself and the blond jinchuuriki taking the forceful blow that had been meant for her puppeteer.

Naruto looked on in horror as the blow, meant for his most hated of enemies , suddenly made contact with the woman he loved. He heard an unhealthy crack and she went flying down the back of the snake. His blue eyes turned grief stricken as he watch, unable to stop it all in time. As he ran to go over the side after her he was slammed into by a black blur. Kagome was now straddling him, holding him down.

He gazed up into her glassy eye in shock and then winced in pain. His gaze followed her arms down to where she was twisting the bloody kunai deep in his abdomen. "Ka...go...me." He ground out against the pain. She stopped twisting the weapon as he grabbed her hands. He thought that maybe he was getting through to her, but a second later she was off of him and defending Orochimaru from Tsunade's super powered punches.

Naruto pushed himself agonizingly to his feet. Every breath hurt like hell, but he didn't have the time to be in pain. He crossed his fingers in a familiar pose, but before he could activate his tried and true jutsu, the platform they stood on shook violently and started to crash towards the ground. A feeling of weightlessness came over him and then he was slamming into ruff scales, aggravating his already serious wound. Before he could recover, he was shaken off of the summons as it went to attack it's titanic opponents, leaving the humans to scramble out of his way.

Orochimaru was picking himself up off the ground, Tsunade was still down and directly beside him Kagome sat up holding her head. Her eyes seemed to un-cloud and she then gasped, looking around in horrified confusion. Her eyes landed on him as he rolled to his side, trying to lift himself up again. The blood pored to the ground as the opening of his wound faced the pull of gravity.

"Naruto!" She cried out, the beginning of tears already apparent in her expressive chocolate orbs. "Oh no, oh please no." She shook her head. "Please tell me this is all a bad dream." She pleaded with him. He didn't have time to respond though because Orochimaru's control was once again upon her. Naruto could swear he saw the light fade from her eyes as she turned to attack her own hokage once again.

The blond man finally mustered the strength to stand and fight again, but he could feel the numbness setting in. 'She must have hit my liver.' He thought morosely. He went to attack The evil sannin, but was again met with the face of his mate. He backed off knowing that, no matter if she was controlled or not, he could not harm her. However, in the fray of things Tusnade had gotten in a lucky hit.

One of the many smaller slugs had tripped Orochimaru up and he was blown back by the hokage's chakra infused punch. Kagome's eyes once again came back into focus and she shook herself out of her fighting stance. She once again took in the scene around her and then Naruto's battered and bleeding form. Her eyes turned hard. "Naruto you have to stop me if he takes hold again."

"I can't do that!" He protested, but she had already turned to attack her puppet master. She nearly got him too, but she was once again under his spell and attacking the two blonds ferociously.

Again her attacks faded as Orochimaru was seized by the great tongue of Gamabunta. She looked pleadingly to her love. "I'm whole." She pleaded, confusing Naruto. "Grab onto me and make a wish! Make a pure wish on the Shikon no Tama!" She pleaded. "I trust you Naruto." She said with a smile before she faded from him once again. Her tattoos glowed white and she reached out to touch the leg of the large toad summon. In a large poof of white smoke, Gamabunta was gone and Orochimaru landed lightly on his feet next to the girl.

Tsunade landed next to Naruto who was hunched over, holding his wound. She gave him a worried look as she noticed his injury. He waved her off and focused on the mad man before them. Tsunade's eyes blazed with fire as she watched the man grab Kagome around the neck. Her anger turned to horror as she watched the man's own wounds heal completely. Kagome's curse mark tattoos receded and she went limp in his hand. The minute he had drained her he tossed her behind him like a useless rag doll and smirked at them both.

"Like my newest ability?" He gloated while wiping blood away from a now healed area. "Quite handy having your own personal healing factory and battery, but you would know all about that wouldn't you Naruto?" He gave a look of mock shock and then chuckled. "Oh that's right, I took your little demon from you didn't I? What a shame." His voice held only mirth.

"What did you do to Kagome?" Naruto demanded.

"I merely gave her powers direction. Such a weapon is wasted on the likes of this village. You are all unwilling to do what it takes to utilize it correctly."

"Kagome is not a weapon!" Screamed Naruto, attacking him. Orochimaru dodged him and was immediately met by the attack of his former teammate, but what he didn't see was that Naruto's attack had been a fake. He wanted past him so he could get to Kagome.

Naruto kneeled next to Kagome and gently pulled her into his arms. "Kagome?" He tried to rouse her with a gentle shake. "Kagome, come on, wake up." He said with a waver in his voice. Everything around him was now inconsequential as he stared down at his barely breathing mate. The slug and snake boss's gargantuan battle, the sannin's alarmingly destructive ninjutsu's clashing, the burning buildings, and all the various small battles of the rest of the ninja around them, all of this was ignored as his tears fell to softly splatter on Kagome's cheek.

"But even if I could think of a pure wish, how can you expect me to make it?" He pleased gently with her. "You said the jewel would disappear if that happened. How can you ask me to make you disappear?" He cried in frustration.

He nearly fell back in shock as a small girl melted out of the shadows before him. He almost attacked her too, but the girl seemed to be staring sadly at Kagome. She then looked up at him with creepily familiar golden eyes. "Is she going to be ok?" She asked with genuine concern and then turned her face back to Kagome. "My lord shouldn't have used her so much, he can be so mean." She gasped and covered her small mouth in fear, as if she expected to beat for her comment.

Naruto stared at her in shock of her behavior, but before he could say anything she suddenly grabbed ahold of them both and they were sinking. The large body of Manda landed right where they had been a moment before. The weird sensation of being immersed in both freezing and hot water passed over him and his vision was dark. Before he knew it, the experience had passed and they were situated a good distance from the battle between Orochimaru and Tsunade. "How? Why?" He tried to form a proper question.

"She was so nice to me and she's like me." She looked sad. "Well she was. I don't want her to die." She stated simply before looking over her shoulder. Looking back to Kagome one more time she used her small hand to brush some hair from the miko's face. "I have to go now." She said sadly and just like that she was gone.

Naruto shook his head to clear his confusion at what had just happened. It was apparently what he needed to bring him out of his shock. He was now looking out at the destruction of his home and friends. "I trust you." Kagome's last words floated threw his mind. He knew what he had to do, but he didn't care to stop the flood of tears now streaming from his eyes. 'As long as he has Kagome, the jewel, we cannot beat Oochimaru.' He would make the wish. He would make it in hopes that it would be enough to allow their comrades to beat him.

He looked back down to Kagome, who was now half covered in his own blood. The blond lifted a hand to caress her cheek and it was only then that he realized how weak he was from the blood loss. He smiled down sadly at her. 'At least I won't be apart from you for long.' He thought as he made his decision. He pulled her to him and hugged her tightly.

"Shikon no Tama." He stated clearly, sure in his choice of his wish and that he would be joining his mate soon. "I wish your souls free to finally be at rest." He choked on a sob as the words left his mouth. He closed his eyes tightly and held onto Kagome for dear life. Perhaps he would be taken away with her and they would go together with their kits to the afterlife together.

Kagome's eyes snapped open and a kind smile spread across her lips. She reached a hand up to pet the hair of the boy who held her. Naruto was startled at the feel and turned shocked eyes to the woman in his arms. "Kagome? But I thought..."

"Your wish was pure of heart and will be granted young warrior." The voice that came from Kagome's mouth was not her own and Naruto's eyes became pained and the tears began anew. The only thing he could do was nod in acceptance.

The woman possessing Kagome gave him another kind smile as she cupped his cheek with her hand. "Fear not, all is not lost. Because your wish was so selfless and because both of you were so willing to sacrifice for it, your true desire shall be granted in the last act of power from the Shikon no Tama."

Kagome's body began to glow in a soft pink and the tattoos around her neck and wrists seemingly disintegrated. In the distance Orochimaru screamed in pain, but Naruto did not take his eyes off of his mates body. She began to rise in the air and Naruto went to hold onto her. She shook her head gently. "Let go." She stated simply and he complied. She gave him one more kind smile. "Thank you... Naruto." His name was spoken in the voice of his mate.

"Kagome!" Had he not been so weak and had she not been so high in the air, he would have drug her back to him in a fierce hug. That was not possible though.

Their eyes stayed locked as her body glowed ever brighter in the air and the din of battle lowered as fighters stopped to stair at the oddity. Suddenly the entire area was engulfed in the warm light. To Kagome's allies it felt gently soothing and healing. To her enemies it burned, leaving them feeling weak and in pain.

The light finally faded and everyone could see the aftermath of what most considered to be a powerful jutsu. The first thing that almost everyone noticed sent a wave of terror through them. There, towering above the village, was the fully restored body of The Kyuubi! His nine tails waved about furiously as he stared down the snake sannin with blood red eyes.

Directly beside the terrifying beast was a ghostly white kitsune with three tails and ruffly two-thirds the Kyuubi's size. This beast was also glaring down at the suddenly cowering Sound leader. "Orochimaru." It's Rough growl of a voice barked out, it's tone only barely discernible as feminine. "You are guilty of crimes against demon and human kind."

The Kyuubi gave a snarl of a smirk before his gravely voice sounded and sent shivers down the spines of all. "You are condemned to death, so that you shall never be capable of your atrocities again."

The white vixen took a small step towards him and lowered her muzzle so that she could get a clearer look at his terrified face. "Your sentence is to be carried out immediately." Her gruff voice rang out with finality.

A large white dog, around the size of a building, leapt in front of the gargantuan foxes. It growled fiercely at the trembling pale man while acidic drool scorched the ground at its feet. The smallest of the beasts looked over his shoulder at the white kitsune. She nodded her head and the large dog demon smirked evilly as it looked back to Orochimaru. It lunged forward and the man let out a horrified scream as he dodged. Another lunge and the demon's deadly maws snapped shut on the evil man and his scream was cut short gruesomely.

The village was dead silent as everyone stared terrified at the beasts. Tsunade was still near where Orochimaru had been devoured, having been fighting him when the beasts appeared, and she suddenly found all three of them staring at her. Was she now to be condemned to the same fate? That was the first thing that ran through her mind, but something told her that wasn't the case.

Tsunade's brown eyes met the crimson gaze of the Kyuubi no kitsune and it smirked widely at her. "Baa-chan." It growled out.

"Natruto?" She stated in disbelief, but the giant kitsune didn't answer her. In the next moment all three of the giant demons shrunk in swirls of power. The waves of excess pink energy seemed to seek out everyone of the leaf village ninja with demonic ancestors and sink into their skin, much to their panic. Even Tsunade now had a faint pink glow to her skin.

Before the slug princess now stood three regal looking demons. Kagome stepped forward from the trio and the Hokage stared at her in awe. Her features were perfection, her clothes a pure white that seemed to glow, and her features as benevolent as an angel. Kagome stopped directly in front of her and smiled. Tsunade returned the smile though her's was accompanied by a look of confusion. The vixen held to fingers of her right hand in front of her mouth and then held two fingers of her left hand to the diamond on Tsunade's forehead.


That softly spoken word sent a pulse of power through the village and suddenly the entire area was an explosion of movement. The Leaf ninja suddenly felt the extra power in their systems and took the opportunity to finish off their opponents. The only place that was still peaceful was the area immediately surrounding the trio of demons and the Hokage.

Tsunade looked down at her clawed hands in shock. The sound of an explosion made her ear swivel on top of her head. Swivel. She reached a hand up and felt a small triangle of soft fur. She looked in shock at Kagome and the others who were smiling at her. After a moment Kagome and Inuyasha took off at inhuman speeds to join in the battle, but the third demon stepped closer to her. He looked vaguely like Naruto, but the hair was auburn, the ears pointed, and the eyes red. "Naruto?" She asked the demon for the second time that night.

"In a sense." He paused in though for a moment. "At least that is part of who I am." The smooth voice replied and his smile turned into a smirk. "I am Naruto no Kyuubi." He announced. "Don't think about it too hard Baa-chan."

That comment made her chuckle in relief. With that nick-name, Naruto had to be somewhere in there. She then looked down at her hands and her bows furrowed in confusion again. When she looked back up into the crimson orbs he chuckled at her. She almost flinched as he reached out to her, but she held herself still.

Naruto no Kyuubi's clawed fingers brushed against a white ear. "A silver kitsune, I should have known since you are a member of the senju clan." He said fondly.

"What?" She breathed in disbelief, not noticing how the sounds of battle were quickly dying down to nothing.

"Your blood line. It is from a silver kitsune." He stated as if she should know exactly what he was getting at. When she still gave him an uncomprehending look, he sighed and turned her to face the window of the building they stood next too. What met her eyes nearly bowled her over. Her honey brown eyes were amber with slitted pupils, she had silvery white fox ears atop her head, and the tips of little fags poking out of her mouth. She suddenly whipped back around. "What did you, I mean she, do to me?"

He cocked his head at her in amusement and looked behind him to the other leaf nin that were now making there way to the Hokage. "It's not what we did to you. It's what we did to everyone with demon blood in their veins." He said as he turned back to her with a smirk.

Tsunade took a closer look at the other Kanoha shinobis, ignoring his smirk. Half of them were still human but the other half...

Hinata was standing next to Shino and Kiba and that trio was good enough to convince her what The demon said was true. Hinata's hair had become something akin to long soft feathers that half encircled her eyes and she, like most, sported deadly claws. Though, maybe talons would be a more appropriate term for her.

Beside her stood an absolutely huge Akamaru who had a savage looking Kiba riding on his back, dog ears to match his faithful companion. Shino turned out to be the most transformed of the trio. His clothes had been just about shredded by something and his body was out for all to view. His skin was completely gold and had a sort of rainbow sheen to it, making it look like the shell of a beetle. He even had small, clear wings coming off of his back at low angles.

"There are a lot of clans with demonic ancestors it seems." Came the smug voice of Inuyasha as he landed next to them.

"Tsunade-sama." Came the familiar voice of one of her top tacticians. "I believe this confirms the matter you asked me to address?" He drawled in his normal, lazy fashion as the shadows rose up to meet his outstretched, pitch black hand. In fact, Shikamaru's entire body, including his eyes, were black. He gave her a smirk and she nodded in stunned confirmation.

"So it would seem." She managed to finally find her voice again. She then looked around to the large, and now multi-colored, gathering and asked the most important matter. "What is the situation with Sound?"

"Completely whipped." Came the cheery voice of Kagome as she landed in the clearing next to Naruto. "A few ran into the forest to try and evade us, but they didn't make it far."

"Thank goodness." Tsunade sighed in relief. A moment passed as she collected her thoughts. She then turned her full attention to Kagome as the next matter of importance became clear to her. "Kagome, exactly how long will these... improvements last?" She asked as she tugged on one of her ears.

Kagome giggled. "Not to disappoint anyone, but the Shikon's power is fading fast and it won't be long now before we all start fading back to our normal selves."

"I see." She stated, not sure if she was disappointed or relieved. "And in future situations, could we potentially access this power again?" Ever the military leader.

Kagome's expression sobered. "Afraid not. Let's just say that this little stunt used up the last of the jewel's power." Her expression softened and she turned back to her mate with a soft smile. "This is a day of two great victories." She said quietly.

Inuyasha smiled a half smirk and then left the group to sweep Hinata off her feet. She squeaked in surprise, but it was quickly muffled by the passionate kiss she was all to willing to return.

"Hey you stupid mutt! Get your grubby lips off of Hinata!" Demanded kiba.

Inuyasha released Hinata to dodge the Inuzuka's punch. "Who you callin mutt, Dog Boy?" He cackled at Kiba as he dodged his attacks. Hinata was begging softly for both of them to please calm down and Shino seemed to be quite content just watching with a small smirk.

Tsunade shook her head at the pair as she looked out at her amassing shinobi force and the damage around her. Even if there was a lot of work to be done, it seemed as if things wouldn't take to long to get back to normal. She smiled at the pair of fox demons as they kissed and then looked down at her own clawed hand. 'Grandma indeed.' She smiled to herself. If she had demon heritage then she was honored to have kitsune blood running through her veins.

Kagome looked out with a smile at the newly repaired village as the sun set on their last day of construction. She felt Naruto's hand come to rest on the round bulge of her belly. She turned her smile to him and they shared a tender kiss. When they leaned out of the kiss her smile faltered slightly as she stared up into violet eyes framed by strawberry blond hair.

Naruto saw the sad expression cross her face and he frowned. "Kagome, what's the matter? You keep looking at me like that and you won't tell me what's wrong." He half whined.

She looked away from him guiltily. "I'm sorry." She said softly.

"What?" He said confusedly. "Sorry for what?"

She turned back to him with tears in her eyes. "I've been trying not to worry about it like you told me, but I can't help it. Every time I look at you I'm reminded of how it's my fault you finally merged together. I feel awful that I did that to you." She confessed.

Naruto no Kyuubi smiled down at his mate with fond exasperation. "Kagome." He admonished as he pulled her onto his lap and wrapped his arms around her. "Never apologize for that again." He demanded softly.


"No," he cut her off, "you have nothing to apologize for. It was not your fault and, most importantly, I do not regret it. I am happy in this form."

She twisted in his lap to look at him. "How can you be this calm and forgiving about it?" She pleaded.

He seemed to think for a moment before answering. "The night of the attack, half of me was missing and it was scary. I had not felt so alone in a very long time and I hated it. Once we were 'as one' many good things came from it. I am not two separate entities, but I never feel lonely. Not even on solo missions. I just feel... full. Or more correctly... whole." He moved her so that she was once again wrapped in his arms and her back was pressed to his chest. "Don't forget my vixen, half of me was sealed away from the world and to be able to taste freedom again makes everyday more precious now."

She seemed to calm for a bit as they both looked out at the village from the top of the Hokage Monument. The silence didn't last long though. "Don't you mourn for what happened to you at all?" She asked, trying to better understand what it was he experienced.

"No." He stated calmly. "Why mourn when nothing was lost?" He chuckled. "I am both Kyuubi and Naruto, yet so much more now. Memories, experiences, and feelings all combined in a perfect mesh to create who I am now and I dare say I prefer it over both of my former forms. I am content in my lot in life now, that is more than I could say as either Naruto or Kyuubi. It is as Naruto no Kyuub that I can honestly say that I am most happy."

Kagome seemed to loose a tension she hadn't noticed she was carrying and relaxed back into the chest of her mate. "So long as you are happy, then I will be too."

He leaned his head down to kiss the mating mark on her neck and squeezed her belly gently with one hand. "I am happy beyond what I ever thought possible, so long as I have you in my arms."

IVX: Wow, I can't believe we are nearly to the end of this wonderful journey. It has literally taken years ^_^; but I enjoyed it all. I love all of you for sticking with me and my slow updates and I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. Remember there is an Epilogue coming up next and anyone who reviews will get their own special reviewer reward at the end of the chapter. Again thank you everyone! I love you all... ^_~