Walt Disney and Gothic Dancer proudly present:

Kurenai as Megara or Kishimoto's Asuma

(Author's Note: 1) Hidan's language will be toned down for this story since he makes a major appearance. Walt's already spinning in his grave with me crossing his movies over with anime, so I don't want to make it any worse for him. 2) During the Muse segments, if no particular Muse is mentioned, assume that Tsunade is talking, since she plays the lead Muse, especially if the text is in italics. However, during the written portions of the musical segments that are not in italics, assume that all five girls are speaking.)

Long, long ago in the ancient times of a land called Konoha, there lived many gods and powerful heroes. The bravest and strongest of all these heroes was called Asuma. But what is the measure of a true hero? Now then, that is where our story--

"Would you listen to him?!" Karin suddenly shouts, tossing her tragedy/comedy mask off to the side. "This is supposed to be a fun story! He's making it sound like a dramatic tragedy! What the heck?"

"Lighten up!" Konan insists, breaking her stiff pose.

Now, I'm used to the girls acting like this, really. After all, WE'RE the storytellers. "We'll take it from here," I sigh. "Don't worry about it, darling." I smirk as I hear that gloomy voice fade away, and the four other girls and I take our rightful place. "We're the Muses," I explain. "The five of us! I'm Tsunade."





"We are the goddesses of art," I continue, "and the proclaimers of heroes."

"Heroes like Asuma," Anko sighs dreamily.

I roll my eyes. "Our story, however, begins long before Asuma, many eons ago..."

You see, a long time ago, there were monsters called Bijuu that roamed that lands and caused chaos.

"It was a nasty place," Karin interrupts. "You wouldn't have wanted to live during that time."

But then Sarutobi, the King of the Gods, sealed those monsters up. He stopped all the trouble and brought peace to the land. I know that it sounds impossible, but...

"That's the Gospel of Truth!"

At the very top peak of Konoha, the gods and goddesses were celebrating the birth of Sarutobi's son. He and his wife named the baby Asuma, and all the gods showered the newborn in gifts. Sarutobi was particularly proud, especially when the baby took his finger and lifted him right off the ground!

"He's strong!" the King laughed. "Just like his dad!" Then the King brought some clouds together and created an animal, a small monkey. "His name is Enma, and he's all yours, Son."

Asuma and Enma become good friends very quickly. Everyone sighed at how sweet the friendship was, including Shikamaru, Sarutobi's messenger, who set a bouquet of flowers next to the pair.

"I haven't seen this much love in a room since Neji discovered his hair," he remarked.

"Oh, how sentimental..."

Everyone turned and saw a dark figure lurking in the shadows. It was Hidan, the God of the Underworld. "You know, I haven't been this choked up since...since I stabbed myself through the jugular! HA!" He waited for a moment, but when he got no response from the other gods, he moved forward to look at the baby. He tried to offer him a deadly toy, but the baby just grabbed onto his hand and broke one of his fingers. "Ugh...powerful..."

"Hey, lighten up, Hidan!" Sarutobi insisted. "You should come and join the celebration."

"I'd love to," Hidan began sarcastically, "but, unlike you gods up here, I have a full-time job down in the Underworld. You know, it's kind of dark, kind of gloomy, and...full of dead people. So! I'd love to stay, but I can't." He grinned wickedly.

"You should slow down! Sarutobi replied thoughtfully. "You'll work yourself to death!" He paused. "Work yourself to death! HA! Oh, I kill myself!"

Hidan growled when all the other gods broke out into hysterical laughter. "If only," he muttered. "If only..."

If there's one god you don't want to get angry, it's Hidan.

"Because he had an evil plan..." Shizune whispers.

He ran the Underworld. He was so mean and ruthless, willing to do whatever it took to get his way. He had a plan to shake things up...

"And that's the Gospel of Truth!"

Hidan made his way back down to the Underworld, and once he was there, he called for his two minions. "TOBI!! DEIDARA!!"

"WE'RE COMING!!" the two little demons shouted, running down the stairs leading to the top of the Underworld castle. Hidan slapping his forehead when the two got tangled up in each other and fell down the remaining steps.

"Tobi! Ouch!"

"And Deidara, un! Ow..."

"Reporting for duty!"

"Yes, yes," Hidan sighed. "Just tell me the instant Pein, Itachi, and Zetsu arrive. I'm expecting the three of them."

"Oh!" Deidara realized. "They're here, un!"

"WHAT?!" Hidan exploded. "THEY HERE AND YOU DIDN'T TELL ME?!"

Tobi and Deidara started crying out, bowing to their master. "WE ARE WORMS!! WORTHLESS WORMS!!"

Hidan rubbed his temples, irritated at his annoying minions' antics. "Memo to me: Maim them after my meeting."

Up in the highest part of the tower, Pein, Itachi, and Zetsu, also known as the Three Fates, watched as Hidan made his way up the steps. "Gentlemen," he greeted, "I'm so sorry that I'm--!"

"Late!" Pein began. "We knew you'd be. We know everything! Past!"

"Present!" Itachi continued.

"And future!" Zetsu finished. He turned towards Tobi and Deidara with a grin. "Here's a spoiler for next week's manga chapter." He whispered something into the two little demons' ears. When he pulled away, they were in shock.

Hidan shook his head. "So...let's talk business. Sarutobi. The big guy. Now he's got a son. So what I want to know is...is this kid going to mess up my hostile takeover scheme or what?" He saw that the Fates were hesitant to reply, but after a little sweet-talking, they revealed the future to him.

"In eighteen years," Pein began, "the planets will align perfectly."

"Uh-huh, good..."

"That will be the best time to strike," Itachi continued. "You must unleash the Bijuu on the land!"


"The proud Sarutobi will then fall," Zetsu finished, "and you, Hidan, shall rule all!"


"A word of caution..."

"...Excuse me?"

"Should Asuma fight...you shall fail!"

The Fates then circled about and disappeared into nothing, their laughter still echoing throughout the hallways of the palace. Hidan stood in place for a long time, contemplating what had just been said.

"...WHAT?!" he exploded, fire burning up beneath him. He threw his temper tantrum for a few moments before calming down and pulling himself together. "Alright, I'm cool." He then ordered Tobi and Deidara to follow him into another room, where he pulled a small bottle full of pink liquid from a shelf. "Tobi, Deidara, you can't kill gods because they're immortal, right? Well, in that case, all you two need to do is turn that baby god...mortal."

Late that night, long after all the gods had left and everyone was in bed, there was a loud crash coming from Asuma's room. Sarutobi and his wife awoke immediately and ran to see what was going on, but all they found was an empty cradle and Enma with his head stuck inside a jar. Sarutobi cried out for his son, but he was long gone.

"Hidan is going to kill us if we don't get this right!" Tobi whimpered, hanging onto Asuma with Deidara. They flew down towards the earth, attempting to get the baby as far away from his home as possible.

"Let's just get this over with, un!" Deidara insisted. "I don't want Hidan any angrier at us!"

But the two little demons weren't paying attention to their flying, and they crash landed on the ground. Asuma wailed out, attracting the attention of a local farmer and his wife. Tobi and Deidara shushed the baby with the bottle of mortal formula Hidan had given them. They tried to force every last drop down the baby's throat, but the sudden appearance of the farmer caused Tobi to drop the bottle. The last drop slid out of the container.

"Who's out there?!" the farmer shouted. "What's going on?!" He shined the lantern on little Asuma, who started crying.

The farmer's wife took pity on the baby and decided to take him back home. "Kakashi, for so many years, we have asked the gods to bless us with a child. Maybe they've finally answered our prayers."

Kakashi nodded and walked back to his cottage with Rin, his wife, and their new son. Tobi and Deidara watched from the bushes in awe.

"Hidan is going to kill us when he finds out, un."

"You mean...IF he finds out!" Tobi grinned slyly.

Deidara got the hint. "If...'If' is good..."

Poor little Asuma was mortal, but since he did not drink the last drop, he still retained his god-like strength. Thank his lucky stars. But Sarutobi and his wife wept because their son could never come home. They'd have to watch their son grow up from afar. Hidan's horrid plan was already in motion, but Asuma grew stronger every day.

"And that's the Gospel of Truth..."

Twelve years later, Asuma had grown into a healthy young boy, always eager to help his parents and join in the fun other kids his age had. However, he always had a strange feeling about himself, believing that he wasn't like them.

"Thank you, Asuma," Kakashi sighed as he hopped off the cart carrying the sacks of hay. "I'm going to go talk to the merchant. You..."

"I know," Asuma finished. "I stay by the cart."

Kakashi nodded and walked off, leaving his adopted son by himself.

Suddenly, a few shuriken landed in front of Asuma's feet. He picked them up and looked ahead to see a few boys his age running towards them, but they ran off in the opposite direction as soon as they saw him. "We don't need anymore players!" they insisted.

Asuma decided to ignore them when he saw a man struggling with several large pots. The boy offered to help the man, but he refused upon seeing who it was. "Asuma, I've got this, really! You just go play or something!"

The boy was confused. Why were so many people so mean to him?

Just then, the shuriken from earlier came flying back towards Asuma. The boy jumped up to grab them and ended up crashing into one of the pillars holding the marketplace together. The pillar shook violently and fell to the side, causing a domino effect among the other pillars. Soon enough, the entire marketplace was in ruins.

"Nice catch, stupid!" one of the boys shouted at Asuma.

"Oh, my gods," Kakashi whispered when he saw the mess. "Asuma. what did you...?"

"THAT'S IT!!" The man with the pots stomped over to Kakashi angrily. "I've had enough of that child! You keep that freak away from here! He doesn't belong with NORMAL people!!"

Later that day, just as the sun was setting Kakashi sat with Asuma outside to talk. "Son, you shouldn't let those people said get to you."

"But they're right!" Asuma insisted. "I AM a freak! You know, sometimes I feel like I don't belong here...like...like I'm supposed to be somewhere else."

"Oh, Asuma..."

But the boy didn't want to listen to his father. He walked off into the forest to think, trying to cheer himself up. "Oftentimes," he whispered to himself, "I dream of a place where everybody accepts me and loves me for who I am. I know I can find my way to that place. I can go the distance..."

Soon enough, Asuma made his way back to his cottage, where Kakashi and Rin were waiting for him outside. "Asuma," the father began, "there is something your mother and I should tell you..."

"But...if you found me," Asuma began, "then where did I come from?"

Rin held up a golden medal. "You were wearing this when we found you. Look. It's got the sign of the Konoha Gods on it."

Asuma's eyes widened. "This is it! The gods must have the answers! I'll go to their temple and...!" He paused and turned to his parents. "Oh, Mom, Dad, you two are the greatest parents a kid could have, but I have to discover this for myself. I have to find where I came from."

Kakashi and Rin understood the child's reasoning, and they bid him farewell the next morning. Asuma made his way across many lands until he finally made it to a large temple where a giant statue of Sarutobi sat inside. When he approached the statue, he knelt down to the mosaic floor and held up the medal.

"Oh Mighty Sarutobi, please tell me where I come from..."

At that moment, a long, harsh wind blew through the temple. Asuma squeezed his eyes shut momentarily, but when he opened them, he saw that the statue before was moving! "My boy," it began, "my little Asuma..."

Asuma, not knowing what to make of this, screamed at the top of his lungs and tried to run out of the temple. He was too slow. Sarutobi grabbed him and lifted him up off the ground. "Hold on a second! Is that any way to greet your father?!"

Asuma stared at the statue. "FATHER?!"

"Ha! You didn't know you had a famous father, did you?" Sarutobi asked.

"But...if you're my father...that would make me a..."

"A god, yes."

"But why was I found as a mortal on Earth? Didn't you...want me?"

Sarutobi grew sad. "Of course we did. Your mother and I loved you very much, but someone kidnapped you and turned you mortal. As you know, only gods can live at the top of the Konoha Mountains, so we've been watching over you for years."

Asuma wasn't sure how to process all of this in his mind. This was so much to discover all in one day. "Isn't there anything you can do?" he finally asked. "Can't you turn me back into a god?"

"I can't," Sarutobi replied regretfully. "However, Asuma, you can do something! If you can prove yourself a true hero here on Earth, your godhood will be restored! To do this, you must first seek out Konohamaru. He trains heroes. And to do that, here's a present!" Sarutobi made a few hand signals, and a large monkey appeared before Asuma. "You might not remember Enma, but he's very important to our family."

Asuma observed the monkey for a moment. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide. "Enma! I remember you!" he exclaimed. "This is great! Let's go!" He and Enma ran out of the temple, Asuma turning around to shout, "Don't worry, Father! I'll make you proud! I'll be back on the Konoha Mountains before you know it!"

Sarutobi smiled. "Good luck, Son." And then, he turned back into stone.

Asuma had a huge grin on his face as he and Enma made their way across the land. "I can go the distance!"

After a few days of travel, Asuma and Enma ended up on a small island. The place was dirty and covered in old junk, looking as though it had not been inhabited in years. Asuma was confused but took Enma's word that Konohamaru would be there.

Eventually, the two found a little goat-like creature stuck in the bushes, or so they thought. In fact, he was trying to spy on some female spirits, but once Asuma made any noise, the girls disappeared, leaving the goat very angry. "Look what you did!" it shouted. "You scared them off!" He groaned and made his way over to a small house.

Asuma followed him. "Hey, could you tell me where to find Konohamaru?"

The goat-boy rolled his eyes. "Call me Kono."

Asuma's eyes lit up. "I am so happy to finally meet you, Kono!" He shook the little goat's hands. "Listen. I want to be a hero! A true hero! Could you train me?"

Kono shot the boy a dirty look. " One word: I'm retired. I don't do that kind of thing anymore."

"Oh, please, won't you help me? Haven't you ever had a dream? Something you wanted more than anything else?"

Kono sighed. "Kid, come on in. I want to show you something."

Asuma followed Kono into the little house, only to see the place covered in pots and tapestries of different heroes. "I trained all these guys," Kono explained. "I had a dream that I'd train the greatest hero ever, one so great that the gods would give him a place in the sky. And then people would say, 'That's Kono's boy!' But all of them failed me, every single one of them. None of them could go the distance."

"But I'm different!" Asuma insisted. "I can do it, Kono, trust me!"

"I said I wouldn't do it!" Kono stormed out of his house, trying to avoid the annoying kid.

"But if I don't become a true hero, I'll never be able to rejoin my father Sarutobi!"

Kono stopped dead in his tracks and looked at Asuma with wide eyes. "Are you serious?" he asked. "Sarutobi? The King of the Gods? Oh, my gods, you're KIDDING ME!!" The little goat-man burst out laughing, mocking Asuma in any way he could. "I bet you were just kidnapped and turned mortal, right? Ha! That's too much!"

"Please, believe me!" Asuma begged.

"YEAH, RIGHT!" Kono shot back. "My answer is two words!"

Just then, a lightning bolt struck down on Kono.


Asuma could have squealed in happiness. "Really? Seriously?! You'll do it?! Oh, my gods, Kono, you won't be disappointed, I swear! When can we start? Can we start right now?"

After six years of training on the island, Kono decided that Asuma was ready to test out his skills. "You're my one last hope," he confessed to the man. "It's up to you!"

"I want to get off this island and do something heroic! I want to rescue some damsels!" Asuma cheered. "Come on, Kono, can we go somewhere? This place is so boring."

Kono considered this suggestion and finally gave in. "Alright, Kid, pack your bags. We're going to Onsen!"

"Yes!! Uh...what's in Onsen?"

"A lot of problems. It's a tough town, so it'll be a good place to start."

Asuma nodded and climbed onto Enma's back with Kono. Over the years, Kono had taught Enma how to fly so the monkey could be more useful to his master. In a moment, the group was in the sky, flying through the air on their way to Onsen.

Just at the group was about to make it there, Kono heard a scream. "That sounds like a damsel in distress!" he realized. "Let's land and take a look!"

Enma landed at a nearby waterfall, and Asuma quickly ran to the surrounding lake. There, he was a large, fish-like creature hanging onto a beautiful woman, who was struggling to break free. "HEY!!" Asuma shouted, getting the creature's attention.

"What do YOU want?"

"Uh..." Asuma stumbled on his words. "I'll have to ask you to release that...young..."

"Keep moving, Idiot," the woman spat.

Asuma was confused. "Aren't you a damsel in distress?"

The woman wriggled about in the monster's tight grip. "I'm a damsel. I'm in distress. I can handle this. Have a nice day!" She smiled falsely at Asuma, hoping he would leave.

"No way! I'll save you--!"

But Asuma was too busy making a speech to notice that the fish creature was getting ready to attack. Without a warning, Asuma dove head-first into a rock.

Kono and Enma gasped. "Ouch!"

The woman's smile faded. "I am so gonna die."

Asuma quickly picked himself up and ran back towards the creature, knocking it backwards and sending it right into the waterfall. It lost its grip on the woman, and she fell into the water. Asuma quickly realized what he had done and carried the woman to shore. "Wow, um, I'm sorry about that, Miss. That was kind of stupid."

The woman wrung out her wavy black hair. "Yeah, it was."

Just then, the roar of a very frustrated monster rang throughout the land. Asuma gulped. "I'll be right back."

The woman had to smirk. "Is Wonder Boy for real?" she asked Kono.

"As real as anything!" Kono then took a moment to observe the woman. "Whoa. And, hey, know what? I'm real, too." Disgusted, the woman pushed Kono into the water.

Before long, Asuma had sent the monster flying, and he went back to Kono to see how he had done. "That was hardly passing!" the trainer shouted. "Next time, don't let your guard down because of a pair of big, beautiful eyes!"

Asuma ignored his teacher though, because he kept his gaze on the beautiful woman he had rescued. He tried approaching her. "Are you okay, Miss...?"

"Yuuhi Kurenai," the woman replied. "My friends call me Kurenai. At least they would if I had any friends. So...tell me. Did they give you a name along with all those rippling pectorals?" Kurenai laughed as Asuma stumbled over his words...again. "Are you always this articulate?"

"I'm Asuma!"

"Asuma? Hmm...I like Wonder Boy better."

"So how did you get mixed up with...?"

"The overgrown guppy? Ah, you know how men are. They think 'no' means 'yes,' and 'get lost' means 'take me, I'm yours'. Anyway, I better get going. See ya, Asu-kun. It's been a real slice."



"Can I give you a ride?"

Kurenai snorted amusedly when Enma gave her a dirty look. "I don't think your monkey likes me very much."

"Enma?! No way, he's fine with you!"

Kurenai shook her head. "I'll be fine. I'm a big, tough girl. I can tie my own sandals and everything!" She winked at Asuma as she went on her way. "Bye bye, Wonder Boy."

Asuma sighed happily. "Isn't she something, Kono?"

Kono had to smack Asuma upside the head to get him out of his daydream and reminded him where they were going.

Kurenai, on the other hand, made her into a dark forest, looking as if she was expecting someone. Suddenly, two little animals appeared before her. "Aw, how cute," she began. "Two rodents missing from a cheap amusement park."

"Hey!" one of the animals shouted. "Watch it! I'm a rabbit!"

"And I'm a squirrel, un!"

The disguises disappeared and the two animals revealed themselves to be none other than Tobi and Deidara. Kurenai groaned. "I thought I smelled a rat."

"Oh, Kurenai..."

"Speak of the Devil..."

Kurenai turned and saw Hidan leering over her, smiling seductively. "Kurenai, Kurenai, my little Ku-chan, I thought you were going to convince Kisame to join me for the uprising! But now...you're here...and I'm finding myself...Kisame...less...So guess what? Instead of taking two years off your life-sentence, I'm going to add two!"

"Hey, it wasn't my fault!" Kurenai fought back. "It was this Wonder Boy named Asuma! He got in the way!"


Tobi and Deidara exchanged confused glances. "Why does that name sound familiar, un?"

"I don't know. Maybe we owe him money..."

"No, wait! I've got it, un!"

"Me, too! Wasn't he that kid we were supposed to ki..."

The two little demons' eyes grew wide. "OH. MY. GODS."

"You took care of him, huh?" Hidan asked angrily, smoke starting to appear beneath his black robes. "Dead as a doornail. No longer a threat to me. ISN'T THAT WHAT YOU TWO SAID?!" A huge fire appeared, surrounding Hidan, fueled by his wrath. Tobi and Deidara shook with fear, anticipating what was coming next. Kurenai pulled her hair back so it wouldn't catch on fire.

After a few moments of his temper tantrum, Hidan finally calmed down. "Fortunately, we still have some time to correct this little mistake. At least Asuma's mortal now, so the two of your aren't total screw-ups. I have a plan."

Once Asuma, Kono, and Enma landed in Onsen, they realized that the place really did need some serious help. It was totally trashed, and new threats were popping up at every moment. It was definitely not Sparta.

"What you all need is a hero!" Asuma announced to a group of miserable-looking citizens.

The people looked him over, unimpressed. "Yeah? And what are you supposed to be?"

"I happen to be a hero!"

The people just laughed. They didn't believe him, not after all the fake heroes who had come, trying to save Onsen. Asuma felt defeated, as if he had lost his chance before he had even gotten it.

Suddenly, the man heard a familiar voice in the crowd. "Help! Help!" Kurenai cried. "Somebody, help me, please!"


"Oh, my gods, Asuma! You have to come help! Two little boys were caught in a terrible rock slide!"

Asuma's mouth grew into a huge smile. "Kono, this is great!"

Kurenai was taken aback. "You're really shaken up about this, aren't you!"

"Let's go!" Asuma grabbed Kurenai and threw her on top of Enma with Kono. In moments, everyone was off the ground and on their way to the ends of the city. The population followed to see if Asuma truly could be called a hero.

As soon as Enma landed near the giant pile of rocks, Asuma jumped off the monkey and ran to the largest rock. Without even breaking a sweat, he picked it up and crushed it, rescuing the two boys and getting an applause from the audience.

"Thank you, Mister, un!" one of the boys cheered.

"Wow, you're really strong!" the other one added.

"You two be careful from now on, okay?" Asuma suggested, smiling.

"We will!"

The two little boys ran off back towards the center of Onsen, but they turned a corner when no one was watching. They jumped up to the top part of a nearby cliff, where Hidan was watching.

"Nice performance," he said sarcastically. "I was really moved." The two boys turned back into Tobi and Deidara, who grinned at their success. They turned towards Kurenai, who was standing at the edge of the cliff. Hidan smiled. "And two thumbs way up for our leading lady. Seriously, Ku-chan, I think you deserve an Oscar for that one."

Kurenai bit her lip as she looked down on the scene below her. "Get out of there, Wonder Boy..."

Kono was just about to reward Asuma when he heard a loud growl come from within a cave that had been uncovered when Asuma had moved the rock. Asuma gasped and looked into the cave, only to see a puppet-like monster emerging from the shadows. Magical strings emerged from its body, and Asuma soon realized that it, too, was an actual puppet, as its head was spinning around on its shoulders. It lashed out an Asuma, knocking his sword away.

Hidan grinned. "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!"

At that moment, the puppet monster reached for Asuma and tried to grab onto him, but the man was too strong for him. Just as it was getting close, he pushed it backwards and ran for his sword. In a moment, Asuma was back in front of the creature, and he sliced his head off in one quick movement.

The crowd cheered for Asuma, but Tobi and Deidara were shaking down to their very cores. Unusually, Hidan seemed rather relaxed. "Guys, chill out," he insisted. "It's only half-time."

Kono was about to fetch Asuma from the battlefield, but he heard a low rumble before he could get there. He stared at the puppet monster and saw that it was starting to move again. Asuma slowly turned around to see that, in addition to the puppet's head reattaching itself to the body, two new puppets had emerged from the torso and were guided by the magic strings. Asuma grabbed his sword again and went in for another kill, slicing the puppets' heads off. As soon as he did though, two more would grow in its place! Soon, the monster was nothing more than a giant, raging mountain of deadly puppets, swinging weapons and moving around all over the place.


Hidan's grin grew exponentially wider. "Oh, Sasori, you always play a good game, and this is my favorite part! ...Sudden Death."

Sasori's main body grabbed onto Asuma and threw him against a cliffside. Asuma watched in horror as the hundreds of heads lashed out at him, and in a moment of panic, he smacked his fist against the cliff, causing the top part to crumble. The rocks quickly fell and buried Sasori and his puppets, effectively killing them for good.

The crowd was in a painful shock. Asuma was nowhere to be seen. Kono gasped when he couldn't spot his student. "There goes another one..."

But when it seemed like all hope was lost, Asuma emerged from the rubble...alive! He was badly injured and had a hard time standing, but the crowd went crazy for him anyway, so thankful that he had saved them and survived the battle. They cheered for him and carried him back to the center of Onsen to be medicated.

Kurenai smirked. "Heh, what do ya know?" And she gave the man a few quiet claps.

Hidan, on the other hand, was not at all amused. Tobi and Deidara had to stop, drop and role.

"From that day forward..." Anko begins.

"There wasn't anything Asuma couldn't do!" Shizune continues.

"He was so hot..." Karin adds.

"Steam was cool." Konan finishes.

Asuma was on a role! Nothing could stop him! Every time Hidan sent new monsters or a natural disaster occurred, Asuma was right there to make things right. He defeated all of Hidan's monsters and fixed up Onsen so it was a wonderful place to be. And the crowds loved him! They made merchandise of him and told stories of his great achievements.

"From 'zero' to 'hero' in no time flat! 'Zero' to 'hero'!"

Just like that!

Not everyone was cheering for Asuma though. Hidan was angrier and more frustrated than ever, taking all his rage out on his sidekicks. They had been caught up in the Asuma franchise, and Hidan discovered that they had bought some of Asuma's merchandise.

Kurenai just laughed. "It looks like the game is over for you, Hidan. Asuma is hitting every curve you throw at him."

Hidan glanced over at the woman and smirked. "You know, I think you've got a point there, Ku-chan. Maybe...Maybe I just haven't been throwing the right curves at him." He outlined Kurenai's body in the air temptingly.

Kurenai face twisted in disgust. "No way. I'm not doing that."

"Hey, everyone's got a weakness, right? We just need you to figure out Wonder Boy's!"

"Send your two little demons!"

"They can't handle him well. I need someone who can...handle him as a man."

"Hey, I've sworn off manhandling."

"Well, that's a good thing! That's what got you into this mess! You sold your soul to me to save your boyfriend's life, and what does he do to repay you? He runs off with some babe. He hurt you real bad, didn't he, Ku-chan?"

Kurenai smacked Hidan away. "I'm still not doing anything for you!"

Hidan smirked. "I think I can make an offer you can't refuse. If you go and find out Wonder Boy's weakness for me, I'll give you what you crave more than anything else in the entire cosmos!"

Kurenai gasped. "Oh, my gods..."


"You should have seen me, Dad!" Asuma cheered to the living statue. "I beat down those enemies, every single one they could throw at me! And the crowd went wild!"

Sarutobi laughed. "You're doing great, Son! You're doing your old man proud!"

"Aw, thanks, Dad. I've been looking forward to this day."

Sarutobi was confused. "What day?"

Asuma was confused, too. "The day I rejoin you on the Konoha Mountains!"

Sarutobi sighed and shook his head. "Son, I'm afraid that being famous isn't the same as being a true hero."

"...What? What should I do then?"

"You must find that out on your own, Asuma. Look inside your heart..."

Asuma could barely concentrate for the next week. He still had meetings with kings and fans, but he couldn't focus on what was going on around him. He didn't get happy when his fans and supporters came to see him, and he got nothing out of the arts that had taken after him. So many artists walked out on him because he couldn't pay attention.

"What's the matter?" Kono finally asked. "Are you okay?"

"I just feel like this is all getting me nowhere," Asuma sighed. "What's the point?"

Kono smiled. "Honestly, Asuma, you've got something I've never seen before, and I've seen a lot of guys. There isn't anything you can't do!"

And right in the middle of Kono's speech, the fangirls flocked through the front doors of the villa, effectively tackling Asuma to the ground. Kono did his best to chase them out, and Asuma hid. What no one saw was Kurenai closing the door behind Kono. The raved-haired woman grinned when she saw toes hiding behind a curtain.

"Let's see," she began, "let's take a peek at what's behind Curtain Number 1" And with that, she pulled it away to reveal Asuma.

"Kurenai!" he gasped. "What are you doing here?"

"Ah, I'm just checking out what heroes do on their days off. By the way, it's okay to come out. The sea of raging hormones has ebbed."

Asuma laughed sheepishly. "I'm no hero."

"Sure you are!" Kurenai insisted. "The Five Great Nations think you're the best thing since ninja headbands! But you do sound like you could use a little break. Do you think your little nanny would go insane if you took the night off?"

"Um...I don't think I should."

"Oh, come on." Kurenai approached Asuma in a sexy, sultry kind of way and grabbed his collar playfully. "You can get us out of here, right?"

Asuma ended up going with Kurenai, and the two went to see a play and have dinner. Afterwards, they took a stroll in the nearby gardens, talking and laughing together. Asuma was completely oblivious to the occasional look of guilt on Kurenai's face. Tobi and Deidara were following the two of them to make sure Kurenai was doing her job. Taking the initiative, the woman tripped herself and fell into Asuma's arms.

"Whoops, be careful." He picked her up gently.

Kurenai giggled. "Sorry. I've got weak ankles." Once she was sitting on a nearby bench next to him, she thrust her leg out before him. "You've got any problems with this?"


"I mean the weak ankles."

"Uh, no!"

"No trick knees? Or maybe an Achilles Heel?" She inched closer to him.

Asuma gulped audibly. "Uh, no, I'm okay, really." Nervously, he got up and walked to a nearby fountain.

Kurenai groaned. This was harder than she thought.

"You know" Asuma began again, "when I was younger, I wanted to be like everyone else."

"You wanted to be petty and dishonest?"

"...Not everyone is like that."

"Yes, everyone is."

"But, Kurenai, when I'm with you, I don't feel so alone."

"Sometimes it's better to be alone."


"No one can hurt you."

Asuma shook his head and sat down next to Kurenai. "I would never do anything to hurt you."

"And I don't want to hurt you!" Kurenai insisted. "So, please, let's both do ourselves a favor and stop this before...before..."


Asuma and Kurenai looked up and saw Kono with Enma. The little goat-boy shouted for Asuma to come back to Onsen and continue his work. "Can it, Squirt!" Kurenai shouted. "It was all my fault!"

"You're already on my list, sister!" Kono shouted back. "Come on, Asuma! As punishment, I'm putting you through the toughest training ever!"

Asuma rolled his eyes amusedly. "Alright, I'm coming." Before he went back to his trainer though, he pulled a flower from a nearby tree and gave it to Kurenai, kissing her cheek. Kurenai blushed bright red and waved goodbye to Asuma as he left on Enma...without Kono. The little boy couldn't keep up.

Kurenai looked over the flower happily, but all that happiness disappeared in a moment. "What am I doing?" she asked herself. "You'd think a girl would learn. I mean, I've already won the prize for rotten judgement. My mind is saying to give it up. I'm just going to end up hurt!"

Time for us to interfere.

"What are you talking about?" we ask in the back of Kurenai's mind. "Who do you think you're kidding? We can tell what you're feeling."

"No!" Kurenai burst out. "I won't say I'm in love!"

"Oh, come on," we laugh.

Kurenai looked at the flower again and smiled. "Well, at least out loud...I won't say it."

And then, out of nowhere, Hidan appeared to ruin Kurenai's mood. "Hey, Ku-chan! Tell me. What's Wonder Boy's weakness?"

"Get yourself another girl!" Kurenai snapped. "I'm through working for you!"

"I'm sorry. Could you repeat that for me?"

"READ MY LIPS!! Forget it!"

"Oh. Ku-chan, aren't we forgetting one teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, little, yet oh-so-crucial detail? I OWN YOU!!" And Hidan burst into a ball of flames. "I can just hear your freedom flying away!"

What neither of them knew was that Kono had been watching them. "Oh, no, I gotta tell Asuma. Oh, man, this is gonna break his heart." He turned and ran off back to Onsen.

"I don't care anymore," Kurenai hissed. "Besides, you can't beat him. He has no weaknesses!" She turned to rub it in the death god's face when that same face turned to her with an evil smile. Hidan took the flower from her and burned it to a crisp.

"I think he does, Ku-chan. I really think he does."

Kono took a deep breath as he made his way down the steps of the training arena to where Asuma was practicing. The man was happier than ever, nearly bouncing off the walls and having the time of his life. He smiled when he spotted his trainer. "Kono!" he cheered. "Oh, there you are. I can't stop thinking about Kurenai. She's made me so happy!"

"Asuma, I have to tell you something."

"I mean, she's the greatest!"


"I feel like I'm on top of the world!"


Asuma shook his head and stared at the goat-boy. "What?"

"She's nothing but a two-timing, lying...!"

"STOP IT!!" Asuma shouted, smacking the goat-boy aside. "You're lying! I'm not listening to you!"

Kono frowned and shook his head. "Fine then! If you won't listen, I'll leave!"

"Go ahead and leave! I don't need you!"

But as soon as Kono left the stadium, all the lights flickered out, and Asuma saw a shadowy figure approach him. "Hey there," it said. "The name is Hidan, Lord of the Underworld. You're Asuma, right? Can I call you, Asu-kun?"

"Leave me alone," Asuma sighed. "I'm in no mood."

"Hey, hey!" Hidan continued. "Let me talk for a moment! You see, I've got this plan here than you are standing in the way of."

"You've got the wrong guy."

"Nope! I know I've got you! And to prove it, here's a little something that may make you listen to me." The god snapped his fingers, and Kurenai appeared before him. Asuma gasped and went to help the woman, who was bound in a smoke chain, but Hidan stopped him. "I want you to give up your strength for the next twenty-four hours. If you do, Ku-chan here goes free."

Asuma gulped. "People...are going to get hurt, aren't they?"

Hidan scratched his head. "Well, maybe. I mean, it's a war and all, but I don't really have the time here to explain it to you. I'm kind of on a tight schedule. So! What do you say?"

"...You have to swear she'll be safe from any harm."

"Fine, fine," Hidan agreed. "If anything happens to Ku-chan, you'll immediately get your strength back. Do we have a deal?" The death god grinned wildly when Asuma took his hand and shook it. In a moment, all the strength was drained away from Asuma's body, and he fell to the ground. Hidan grinned and snapped his fingers again. The chains disappeared from Kurenai's body. "Ku-chan, good work. You're off the hook. Oh! And maybe we should tell Wonder Boy here the truth, huh?"

"No, don't do it!" Kurenai begged, tears in her eyes.

"Oh, but I think we have to tell Asuma what a great actress you are!"

Asuma's eyes popped open. "...What?"

"She was working for me the whole time!" Hidan laughed.

Suddenly, the two little boys from the fight with Sasori appeared, only to turn back into Tobi and Deidara. "Our hero's a zero!" they sang. "Our hero's a zero!"

"Great then! I'm off to take over the cosmos!" Hidan cheered, and he made his way across the land in a black chariot. Once he was directly over the Bijuu prison cell, he released all nine monsters and commanded them to destroy Sarutobi. The Bijuu were feeling vengeful, so they went out to do so right away. However, there was a separate monster who was also freed, and Hidan stopped it before it could make its way to the Konoha Mountains. "I have a special job for you."

Meanwhile, the nine monsters made their way towards Sarutobi's palace. Shikamaru spotted them from his cloud and sounded the alarm, signaling all the gods to prepare for battle.

The one extra monster turned out to be Nagato, a red-haired, gray-eyes beast. He was on his way towards Onsen, and once he was there, he immediately went to work destroying the city. Asuma and Kurenai watched as the homes crumbled to nothing, and the former strongman stepped forward to face him.

"No, don't!" Kurenai begged, trying to stop him. "Without your strength, you'll be killed."

Asuma gave the woman an angry look. "There are worse things."

Kurenai watched in horror as Nagato spotted Asuma and tossed him across the city, having fun with him as if he was a punching bag. Kurenai decided that was enough. She ran back to the training field and found Enma, who had been captured and tied up by Tobi and Deidara. She freed him and begged him to help her. "We have to find Kono! He's the only one Asuma will listen to!" Enma threw her on his back and took off to find the goat-boy. They soon spotted him trying to board a boat.

"Get out of here!" Kono shouted. "Asuma doesn't need me!"

"Yes, he does!" Kurenai insisted desperately. "Kono, if you don't help him, he'll die!"

That was all it took to get Kono on Enma's back. The group flew off to the fight between Asuma and Nagato, and Kono did his best to encourage Asuma to fight back.

"You've got to get up!" he insisted. "Come on, you've got to! I'm willing to go the distance. What about you, huh?"

Just then, Nagato reached down and grabbed Asuma again, but Asuma had a plan. He broke a piece of burning wood off a nearby cart and stabbed the flaming post into the monster's eyes. Nagato let out a horrible cry of pain and dropped Asuma right next to the cart's rope. The man grabbed it and tied it around Nagato's feet. Soon enough, the monster tripped into a pool of lava one of the Bijuu had created.

But the aftershock of the crash caused a nearby pillar to topple over, and it was just about to land on Asuma. "ASUMA, WATCH OUT!!" Kurenai screamed. She pushed the man out of the way in the nick of time, but when Asuma looked at what had happened, he saw Kurenai squished underneath the heavy stone.

"NO, KURENAI!!" he cried out. When he tried to lift the pillar, he realized it was getting easier and easier to pull it up. Before he knew it, it was above his head. "What the...?"

"Hidan's...deal is broken," Kurenai gasped. "He promised I wouldn't...get hurt."

Asuma set the pillar down. "Oh, Kurenai...Kurenai, I...!"

"Are you...always this articulate?"


"You haven't got...much time. You can still stop Hidan."

Asuma was torn on what to do. He couldn't leave Kurenai in such bad shape, but he knew he had to fight to save the gods and prevent Hidan from taking over.

"I'll watch over her," Kono suggested.

Asuma nodded and mounted Enma. "LET'S GO!!"

Things weren't any easier at the Konoha Mountains. All of the gods had been captured, and Sarutobi was losing his fight against the Bijuu. They eventually sealed him up, causing utter chaos upon the land below.

Hidan grinned and sat back in a new, dark throne. "I think I'm going to like it here..."


The death god looked up and saw Asuma coming towards him. He gasped and ordered the Bijuu to go after him, but Asuma was stronger and fast. He and Enma flew past the Bijuu and even got them to attack each other. Then Asuma freed the gods from their prison, including Sarutobi.

"Yes!" the King cheered. "Thank you, Son! Now watch your old man work!" Sarutobi and Asuma joined together to stop the rest of the Bijuu, eventually gathering them together and throwing them to the far ends of the galaxy, where they exploded into a ball of fire and light.

Hidan screamed out in frustration and boarded his chariot. "THANKS A WHOLE LOT!!" he shouted as he made his way down to the Underworld. "But at least I've still got one swell consultation prize! A friend of yours! Someone who's just DYING to see me!"

Asuma gasped. "Kurenai..." He boarded Enma and flew back down to the earth, back towards where he had left the injured woman.

But by the time he got there, it was already too late. Kono's sad face said it all. Kurenai was dead.

Tears rolled down Asuma's cheeks as he took the woman's body in his arms, holding her close. Kono did his best to console him. "I'm so sorry," he whispered. "There was nothing you could do..."

Asuma suddenly looked up, his eyes angry and determined. "Yes, I can."


Hidan screamed out at the top of his lungs and almost set his Underworld palace on fire. "We almost had the entire cosmos under our command, but our adorable little Ku-chan had to go all noble on us!"

Suddenly, he heard a loud rumbling sound, and Asuma burst through the wall. With him was Kakuzu, Hidan's partner and the multi-hearted guardian of the Underworld. The creature was tired and out of breath; it was obvious Asuma had used his powers to get through to Hidan's room.

"Wow, Wonder Boy!" Hidan laughed. "You are too much!"

"WHERE IS KURENAI?!" Asuma roared, grabbing Hidan's collar. "LET. HER. GO."

"Get a grip!" The death god rolled his eyes and led Asuma to another room. "Let me show you, okay? Kurenai is traveling with a new crowd these days, and it's not a very lively one." He revealed a green river that contained all the souls of dead mortals flowing through it. Asuma spotted Kurenai and tried to reach for her, but the river had an aging effect on him. "Nope! You can't touch it!" Hidan reminded him.

Asuma suddenly got an idea. "You like making deals, right? Take me instead of Kurenai."

Hidan's eyes widened. "Let's see...my most hated obstacle floating on forever in a river of death...Is there a downside to this?"

"Going once...going twice...!"

"Okay, fine!" Hidan agreed. "You stay. She goes." Asuma nodded and jumped into the river, but Hidan had one last surprise. "Oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention this one little thing. YOU'LL BE DEAD BEFORE YOU CAN REACH HER!!"

And it was slowly becoming true. Asuma's body was aging rapidly. The fast he swam towards Kurenai's soul, the closer he was towards death. But just when it seemed as though he was about to die, his body began to regain its usual form. He grabbed Kurenai's soul and slowly rose out of the river, surrounded by a heavenly glow.

Hidan was dumbstruck. "What the...?! In order for that to happen, you'd have to be a...!"

"A god?" Tobi and Deidara finished.

Hidan tried to make another deal with Asuma, but the man didn't want to have anything more to do with the death god. He pushed him into the river, where the dead souls grabbed onto him and dragged him down to the bottom.

Tobi and Deidara watched nervously as Asuma left the Underworld with Kurenai. "Oh man," Deidara began, "Hidan is going to kill us when he gets out of there, un."

Tobi's eyes lit up. "You mean...IF he gets out of there!"

"If...'If' is good..."

When Asuma made it to the surface, he ran back to Kurenai's body and gave it back its soul. Slowly, color returned to the woman's cheeks, and her eyes fluttered open. She smiled when she saw Asuma before her. "Oh, Asuma!" She jumped up and threw her arms around him, hugging him tightly.

Just then, a cloud appeared beneath their feet, and they quickly rose up to the top of the Konoha Mountains. They were greeted by Sarutobi and the others gods.

"Congratulations, Son!" Sarutobi rewarded. "You did it! You were willing to give up your life to save this young woman. You're a true hero, for a hero is not measures by the size of his strength...but by the strength of his heart. Welcome home. We're so proud of you."

Asuma smiled but that happy feeling soon faded away when he saw Kurenai making her way back down to the earth. He stopped the celebration and ran to her. "Father," he began, "this is he moment I've been waiting for. But...a life without Kurenai...even an immortal one...would be empty. I wish to stay on earth with her! I finally know where I belong!"

Sarutobi and the other gods were shocked at first, but they understood Asuma's desires. Sarutobi was sad to see his son go, but he knew he'd be happy on earth with Kurenai. The glow surrounding Asuma disappeared, and he shifted back to his mortal self.

Kurenai was beside herself with joy. She reached up and kissed Asuma powerfully, bringing him close. When they finally broke away, all the gods cheered for them, and they made their way back down to earth. Kakashi and Rin were waiting for them, and the new family embraced together.

Kurenai gasped when she looked up into the night sky. "Look!"

Sarutobi had made a constellation of Asuma right there for everyone to see. Kono's eyes grew wide when he saw, but what he heard from the crowd made him cry.

"That's Kono's boy!"

"So you see?" Karin asks.

"This is the measure of a true hero," Anko laughs.

"There never was and there never will be another hero like Asuma!" Shizune cheers.

"That man braved it all and became something great!" Konan finishes.

"That's right," I confirm. "Now then, it's time for the five of us to end this tale. But before we do, remember this:"

"Every night, a star is born!"

And they all lived happily ever after.



Next: Matsuri as Belle