Walt Disney and Gothic Dancer proudly present:
Matsuri as Belle or Kishimoto's Beauty and the Bijuu
Once upon a time in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish, and unkind. But then, one winter's night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away, but she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman's ugliness melted away to reveal the beautiful, famed enchantress Karura. The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and as a punishment, she transformed him into a hideous monster called a Bijuu and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there. Ashamed of his form, the Bijuu, who the prince discovered was named Shukaku, concealed himself inside his castle with a third eye as his only window to the outside world. The rose Karura had offered was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his twenty-first year. If he could learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain as Shukaku for all-time. As the years past, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a Bijuu?
At the edge of a small, plain village, a lovely young woman emerged from her cottage. The sun shined down on her on that happy, peaceful autumn morning, and she greeted the new day with a smile. "Another day in this little town," she sighed to herself. "It's so quiet and boring around here. The same thing happens every day. Everyone gets up and says..."
"Konnichi wa, Matsuri-chan!"
Matsuri waved to the other villagers as she passed by them. They were all satisfied with their lives, going about their business like it was nothing. Matsuri was different from them though. "She's really a beauty," people would say, "but she sure is a funny girl."
Matsuri ignored those remarks and made her way into the local bookshop. "Good morning, Jiraiya!" she greeted. "I've come to return the book I borrowed!"
"You finished it already?" the shop owner asked. "You just borrowed it yesterday!"
"But I couldn't put it down!"
"Well, if you're looking for something new, I'm afraid there's nothing."
"Oh, that's alright. I'll just borrow this one!" Matsuri pulled a book from the shelf and handed it to Jiraiya.
"That one?" he asked. "But you've read this one twice!"
"But I love it! It has all the fantasy and adventure I want!"
Jiraiya laughed. "In that case, it's all yours."
Matsuri's eyes widened. "Are you serious?!"
"Oh, thank you!"
Matsuri left the bookshop with sparkling eyes. Secretly, she had always wanted to keep that book from the moment she opened it the first time.
What Matsuri didn't know was that someone was watching her. That someone was the most popular man in town, and his annoying little sidekick was with him. The little man gushed over how amazing the man was for shooting down a flying goose. "You're the best hunter in the whole world, Deidara-sempai!"
"I know, un," Deidara replied arrogantly with his head held high.
"There isn't a beast alive that can get by you," the little man continued. "No girl can either."
Deidara smirked. "It's true, Tobi, un! And I've got my eye on that one." He pointed to Matsuri, and Tobi's eyes widened.
"But she's the daughter of that crazy inventor!"
"She's the most beautiful girl in town, and I deserve the best."
Deidara tried to make his way through the bustling streets of the town, but the morning hours were just too busy with people running all over the place. He fell far behind Matsuri, who wasn't even paying attention. Her nose was still stuck in that book.
"There must be more," she whispered. "I want so much more than this provincial life..."
Somehow, Deidara made his way through the crowd and caught up to the girl. "Good morning, Matsuri-chan."
Matsuri, trying to be polite, managed a smile. "Good morning, Deidara."
"What's this you've got here?" The blonde man took the book from Matsuri's hands and flipped through it. "How can you read this, un? There are no pictures!"
"Some people use their imaginations to come up with the pictures, Deidara."
"Matsuri, it's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and...thinking. You have more important things to worry about! Heh, like me, un."
Matsuri rolled her eyes. "I'll pay attention to you some other time, okay, Deidara?" she pleaded. "I have to go home and help my father."
"HA!" Tobi burst out. "That crazy idiot?! He needs all the help he can get!" Deidara joined his little sidekick in laughing hysterically.
Matsuri frowned. "Don't talk about my father that way! He's a genius!" Suddenly, she heard an explosion in the distance, and she ran back to the cottage to see the problem. When she got there, she saw that her father's latest invention had a burst pipe.
"Ugh, I can't take this anymore," the man sighed. "I've been working for such a long time on this stupid thing. It'll never work!"
Matsuri giggled. "Papa, you always say that. Give it another try, okay? If it works, you'll win first prize at the fair tomorrow and be a world-famous inventor!" She smiled for her father, hoping it would encourage him.
It worked. "Fine!" the man shouted. "Give me that tool over there! By the way, did you have a nice time in town?"
"I got a new book. Oh, and...um...Papa, do you think I'm strange? It's just that there's no one around for me to talk to. I don't fit in."
"What about that Deidara guy?" Matsuri's father Baki suggested. "He's quite handsome."
"Sure, he's handsome. He's also rude and conceited and arrogant. Papa, he's not the one for me."
Just then, out of nowhere, the invention began to work! The ax on the end part chopped the wooden logs into small pieces, perfect bits for fireplaces. "It works!" Baki gasped. "I can't believe it!"
That night, Matsuri sent her father out on their horse with his invention tied to a cart in the back. She waved goodbye to her father until he was out of sight.
But the happiness didn't last long. It was getting dark fast, and the flame in Baki's lantern didn't light up the paths very well. Before he knew it, he was lost, and it began to rain. Baki decided to try to find a place to spend the night, but he couldn't think too long. He saw a set of wolves in the distance, and they were hungry.
Panicking, Baki lost control of the horse, and the animal spend down the path on its way back home with the invention still in the cart behind it. Baki did the only thing he could do. He ran as fast as he could away from the charging wolves, and he soon found himself standing before a giant castle. Without thinking, he let himself inside the gate, but the wolves still managed to shred his jacket and snatch his hat.
Carefully, Baki made his way into the castle and closed the door behind him. "Hello?" he called out. "Is anyone here?"
"Look, it's a traveler."
"Shh! Keep quiet!"
"But the poor man has just lost his way, dattebayo."
Baki looked about, trying to find the source of the sounds. Instinctively, he picked up a lit candlestick holder and tried to look ahead into the palace. Without a warning, something tapped him on the shoulder, and when he looked to see what it was, he came face-to-face with the candlestick holder.
Baki panicked and threw the holder on the ground. He looked to the table where he had found it to see another object, a clock that was starting to talk as well. "Now you've done it, Naruto!" the clock shouted. "You've exposed us!"
"Oh, come on, Sasuke," Naruto insisted, "the poor man is trying to find shelter from the rain. I think his forehead is starting to get hot." Just to prove Naruto's point, Baki sneezed. Naruto smirked. "See what I mean? Come on, Sir, let's get you into the parlor to rest!" The candlestick holder hopped into the next room and motioned for Baki to sit down next to a roaring fire.
"Oh, don't do this!" Sasuke begged. "That's the master's chair!"
Naruto wasn't listening to the clock though, and neither did anyone else. A footstool that behaved like a dog nuzzled itself underneath Baki's feet, and a cart quickly moved to the side of the chair. "Care for some tea?" a tea pot asked. It poured some of its hot contents into a cup, which Baki took and brought to his lips.
"Hee!" the teacup giggled. "That tickles!"
Baki brought the cup away to see it, too, was alive. "Hello," he greeted. "What's your name?"
"I'm Lee!" the teacup cheered. "That's my papa Gai!" He motioned towards the teapot.
Suddenly, a cold, violent breeze blew through the room, and the objects' eyes widened in horror as a shadow approached Baki. The man nervously turned only to be met with dark, evil eyes and rows of sharp teeth. "What are you doing here?!" the monster shouted. "What are you looking at?! Did you come to stare at me, a Bijuu?!"
"A Bijuu!" Baki gasped. "Bijuu are just fairy tales! They don't exist!"
Enraged, the monster grabbed Baki and dragged across the floor. "The dungeon for you!"
The next morning, Deidara was dressed in his best clothes and had gathered the entire village together near Matsuri's cottage. "I'd like to thank you all for coming to my wedding, un," he greeted. "But first I better go in there and...propose to the girl!" He laughed and along with the townsfolk, but there were some Deidara fangirls (and boys) who were disappointed.
Matsuri herself was quite irritated when Deidara shoved his way into her home. "What is it you want?" she asked shakily.
Deidara grinned. "Don't you know what I'd like more than anything else, Matsuri?" the man asked. "I can just picture it, un. There's the family dog sitting with the adorable young boys on the carpet near the fireplace. And I have my beautiful wife catering to us all, un. Do you know who that wife will be, Matsuri?"
"I don't want to know."
"Exactly! It'll be you!"
Matsuri's face dropped. "Oh, Deidara, I'm speechless." She backed towards the front door and waited until Deidara was leaning against it. "But I'm afraid I don't deserve you!" She suddenly opened the door and kicked Deidara into a nearby mud pit.
Tobi just laughed. "She got you good, didn't she, Sempai?"
Deidara growled and grabbed Tobi's shirt collar. "I WILL have Matsuri as my wife."
Matsuri waited for a few moments until Deidara was gone until she came outside to tend to her chores. "I can't believe it. He asked me to marry him! I'd never marry such a brainless fool! I don't want this life!" She tossed a bag of chicken feed to the side and ran out to the nearby meadow. "I want adventure and excitement! And you know what?! For once, it would be great to have someone understand this."
Just then, Baki's horse charged back to the house, acting crazy. Matsuri gasped. "Where's Papa?! Oh, my gosh, I have to find him!" She steadied the horse and grabbed her overcoat. Quickly, she sped into the woods.
It was late at night by the time Matsuri came upon the castle where her father was last seen. She left the horse outside and walked into the palace carefully, quietly. "Hello?" she whispered. The empty halls echoed her words. "I'm looking for my father. I think he's here!"
What Matsuri didn't know was that Naruto and Sasuke were watching her the same way they had watched Baki. "It's a girl!" Naruto gasped. "She's the one! She's come to break the spell!" He hopped after her, ignoring Sasuke's pleas for him to stop. Eventually, the two ended up leading Matsuri up to the highest point of the castle, where her father was imprisoned.
"Papa!" Matsuri cried, running to her father's cell.
"Matsuri," Baki gasped, "you have to leave this place! Go!"
Suddenly, something lashed out at Matsuri, and she screamed in fear. "Who's there?! Who are you?!"
"I'm the master of this castle," the being hissed. "You cannot take him away. He is my prisoner. I don't care if he's sick. He shouldn't have trespassed!"
"Wait!" Matsuri begged. "Take me instead!"
The monster gasped. "You'd take his place?"
"If I did, would you let him go?"
"Yes. But you must swear to stay here forever!"
Matsuri noticed something strange about the being. She squinted. "Come into the light."
And with that, the Bijuu came into full view. Matsuri almost cried out. It was terrifying, ugly creature that looked something like a tanuki. Matsuri looked back at her father and then to the Bijuu. Baki was more important. "You have my word."
"Done!" Shukaku threw Baki out of the prison cell and dragged him down the stairs of the palace, refusing to let him stop and say goodbye to his daughter. Matsuri cried out for her father but realized that he was already long-gone in one of the castle coaches.
When Shukaku came back into the palace, Naruto murmured something. "Sir?" he began. "Since the girl is going to be staying with us for quite some time, don't you think it would be wise to set her up in a more comfortable place, dattebayo? Haven't you thought that maybe this girl could be the one to break the spell?"
Shukaku gave Naruto a dirty look and marched back up to the dungeon. "Come with me," he commanded. "I'm taking you to your room."
"Why didn't you even let me say goodbye?" Matsuri whimpered. "And why are you letting me stay in a nice place?"
Shukaku didn't respond. He just stomped down the stairs and towards the guest room hallway. Matsuri instinctively followed him, still crying. Naruto noticed this and urged the Bijuu to say something.
"I hope you like it here," Shukaku said. "The palace is your home now, so you can go anywhere you'd like...except the West Wing?"
"What's in the West Wing?"
"IT'S NONE OF YOUR CONCERN!" Shukaku opened up the door to one of the guest rooms. "You will also join me for dinner. THAT IS NOT A REQUEST!" With that, he slammed the door, leaving Matsuri to cry as a blizzard pulled through outside.
All was not well back in town either. The tavern was full of life that night, but Deidara sat in a chair before the fireplace, sulking. Tobi noticed this and tried to cheer him up. "Sempai?"
"Who does she think she is, un?!" Deidara hissed. "That girl has tangled with the wrong man!"
"I'm so humiliated, un. I'm such a disgrace."
"Who, you? Never!" Tobi giggled and danced around the blonde man. "There's no one like you, Sempai! Nobody's as good as you at things like hunting, wrestling, and outwitting people. You're awesome! There's no one like Deidara-sempai!"
The rest of the people in the tavern were in agreement, so that cheered Deidara up a little bit.
Suddenly, the front door burst open. "Somebody help me!" Baki shouted. "He's got her! He's got Matsuri locked in a dungeon! Help!"
"Slow down, un," Deidara insisted. "Who's got Matsuri locked in a dungeon?"
"A Bijuu! A horrible, monster called a Bijuu!"
The tavern was quiet for a second, but then the people started snickering quietly. They mockingly asked Baki how big the Bijuu was and how it looked. Baki answered all the questions truthfully. "It was huge and ugly!" he replied hastily. "Will you help me?"
"Alright, we'll help you out, un," Deidara laughed as some of the other men in the tavern took Baki by the collar of his jacket. Without a warning, they threw him outside into the snow, abandoning him. They closed the door laughing.
"Crazy old Baki," they joked.
Deidara's face suddenly grew serious. "Crazy old Baki, hmm? Hey, Tobi, I've been thinking..."
Tobi gasped. "Sempai, that's dangerous."
"I know, un, but I think I've got a plan. I swore I'd be married to Matsuri, right? Well..." The blonde man leaned over to Tobi and whispered something in his ear.
After a moment, Tobi's eyes lit up. "I've got it! Let's do it! There really is no one like you, Deidara-sempai!"
Back at the palace, Matsuri was still crying when she heard a knock at the door. "Who is it?" she asked in between sobs.
The door opened and in came a teapot with a tea cup. "It's Gai and Lee," the teapot said. "We thought you might like a little tea, darling." He poured some of the tea into the little tea cup, and Lee hopped over to Matsuri.
"Hi!" he cheered. "Wanna see me do a trick?" He suddenly blew a fountain of bubbles. Matsuri giggled ever so slightly.
"That was a very brave thing you did," Gai said to the girl.
"We all think so," a wardrobe suddenly added.
"Well," Gai continued, "I think we should all get back downstairs to working on dinner. Come on, Lee. Let's go."
"Bye!" Lee squealed as he followed his father.
"Let's pick out something for you to wear!" the wardrobe insisted as one of its doors opened. "By the way, my name is Sakura. I've got plenty of nice dresses here."
"That's very kind of you," Matsuri replied, "but I'm not going to dinner."
"But you must!"
At that moment, the bedroom door opened. There stood Sasuke. "Dinner is served."
Downstairs in the dining room, Shukaku was pacing back and forth before a raging fireplace. "Why isn't the girl here yet?" he growled.
"Try to be reasonable, Master," Gai insisted. "The girl has lost her father and her freedom all in one day."
"By the way," Naruto interrupted, "Master, have you considered that maybe this girl could be the one to break the spell, dattebayo?"
"Of course I have!" Shukaku shouted. "You asked me that earlier! But there's no way she could see me as anything but a Bijuu."
"Well, you've got to act like a gentleman! You have to be polite and charming and patient and all those things, dattebayo."
"That's right!" Gai agreed. "And, above all else, you must learn to control your temper!"
Suddenly, the door to the dining room opened. Shukaku perked up, hoping to see Matsuri there, but all he saw was Sasuke. His face immediately dropped. "Where's the girl?"
"Um..." Sasuke tried to collect his thoughts and come up with an easy way to reply. Instead, he flat-out said it. "She's not coming."
"...WHAT?!" Shukaku threw himself out the dining room and up the stairs of the palace to where he had placed Matsuri. His servants followed behind, scared of what he might do to her. But instead of attacking, he just pounded on the door. "I TOLD YOU TO COME TO DINNER!!"
"I'm not hungry!"
"You can't stay in there forever!"
"Yes, I can!"
"...Would you...come downstairs to dinner...please?"
"It would give me great pleasure..."
"No thank you!"
Shukaku finally lost it. "FINE!!" he roared. "THEN GO AHEAD AND STARVE!!" He glared at his servants. "If she doesn't eat with me, then she doesn't eat at all!" With that, he stomped off back downstairs, his temper still flaring. "She'll never see me as anything," he whispered, "but I monster."
Gai sighed. "That didn't go very well, did it?"
"Nope, I'm afraid not," Sasuke replied.
A few hours later, Matsuri quietly emerged from her room and tiptoed out into the hallways. Naruto, who was flirting with a feather duster named Hinata, gasped. "She has emerged!"
Downstairs, Matsuri could hear the other servants talking in the kitchen. "Hello?" she asked quietly as she opened the door. "Is anyone there?"
"Oh, good evening," Sasuke replied, walking over to the girl. "It's nice to see you up. By the way, I never properly introduced myself. My name is Sasuke." At that moment, the candlestick holder pushed the clock out of the way. "And this is Naruto, the dobe."
"It's a pleasure, dattebayo. Is there anything we can get for you?"
"I'm Matsuri and...I am a little hungry."
Gai looked up. "Hear that? She's hungry! Come on, Chouji, light up the stove! Tenten, break out the silverware and cutlery!"
"Remember what the master said!" Sasuke begged.
"I don't care! I'm not going to let the poor girl starve!"
"That's right!" Naruto agreed. "Have a heart, Sasuke. She's not a prisoner. She's our guest!" He hopped into the dining room and motioned for Matsuri to follow. The girl grinned and walked into the next room, taking a seat at the end of the table.
Sasuke bit his lip nervously and Naruto hopped to the center of the table. "Please keep it down..."
"My dear Miss Matsuri," Naruto began, "it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now, we invite to relax as the dining room presents...your dinner." He grinned suddenly. "Please...be our guest. We'll make you anything you like, dattebayo! Like French food? Filet Mignon and escargot? Or perhaps Italian is more your taste. We have plenty of pasta! There are plenty of desserts, too, done in the style of Germany and Switzerland. Have whatever you like, darling. You're our guest!"
Matsuri watched in awe as all the foods Naruto was mentioning made their way to the table, Naruto at the center of it all. It was so incredible the way everything moved and danced and presented itself to the girl. She had never seen something so amazing in her entire life! She barely noticed as Sasuke tried to stop the party.
Suddenly, Naruto's face grew sad. "It's been so long since we've used our skills, dattebayo," he sighed. "We haven't served anyone in ages. It's all been so frustrating! Ten years have passed!" And then, out of nowhere, his face lit up again. "Now you're here! It's great to have a guest!"
The show ended with a great number of foods out on the table, all set out and some half-eaten. Matsuri applauded the performance, happy she had had dinner and a show. "Bravo!" she cheered. "That was wonderful! Hee, I don't care if it's late. I couldn't possibly go to bed now. I'd like to take a look around if that's okay. It's my first time in an enchanted castle."
Naruto smiled wide. "Would you like a tour?"
Sasuke jumped up. "No!" he urged. "We can let her go around...you know what I mean?"
Matsuri grinned charmingly. "I bet you know everything there is to know about the palace...Sasu-kun."
The clock laughed sheepishly. "As a matter of fact...I do."
A little while later, the group was coming towards the end of the tour, making their way down one of the final halls. "And this is an example of a Baroque suit of armor," Sasuke explained. "And, heh, if it's not Baroque, don't fix it!"
"Boo!" Naruto called, pointing downwards. "Your puns suck, Sasuke!"
Matsuri ignored them and looked up a separate staircase. "We haven't been up that way," she whispered. Quietly, she took a few steps up before Naruto and Sasuke ran before her to block her way.
"There's nothing up in the West Wing!" Sasuke insisted.
Matsuri's eyes narrowed schemingly. "Ah, so that's the West Wing..."
Naruto jabbed Sasuke in the side. "Nice going, stupid."
"I wonder what he's hiding up there..."
"The master isn't hiding anything!"
"Then it wouldn't be forbidden."
"Um...would you like to see something else? We have tapestries, a garden, a library..."
Matsuri's eyes brightened. "You have a library?!"
"Oh, yes, dattebayo!" Naruto replied, relieved she had changed her mind. He grabbed onto Sasuke and made his way down the steps, assuming Matsuri was following him. "We have books on every subject!" The two objects made their way down the hall towards the library, but Matsuri was not behind them.
Quickly but quietly, the girl made her way up the steps towards the West Wing. When she opened the main door, she saw that the room was horribly dusty and full of destroyed junk. She wondered what Shukaku could possibly be hiding there, until she saw a ripped painting still hanging on the wall. When she tried to piece the tears back together, she could make out the image of a young man.
That was when dull pink light caught her eye. She looked towards the balcony of the room and saw a rose sitting underneath a glass container. It looked like a normal rose, but there was something special about it that Matsuri couldn't figure out. When she went to touch it, she felt something pull her away.
"I TOLD YOU NEVER TO COME HERE!!" Shukaku shouted in the girl's face. "Why did you disobey me, huh?!"
Matsuri was paralyzed with fear. "I'm so sorry! I just...!"
"GET OUT!!" Shukaku roared. "GET OUT!!"
Too frightened to think, Matsuri pushed her way out of the room and ran down the hallway towards the main entrance of the palace. "I can't take it anymore!" she cried. "I have to get out of here. I'm going home!" She jumped on her horse's back and raced down the path that was now covered in snow. She didn't even notice the wolves following her. Without a warning, they jumped out and attacked the horse, causing Matsuri to fall to the snowy ground. She screamed out in terror and tried to get away, but they were coming just too quick.
That was when Matsuri saw something she never thought she would. There was Shukaku, fighting the wolves off and protecting her. Even when one of the wolves bit his arm harshly, he still kept on fighting until they ran off in fear. Matsuri watched in horror as the Bijuu fell to the ground, exhausted and injured.
Back at the palace, a few hours later, Shukaku had woken up, and Matsuri was trying to help him with a nasty cut on his arm. "Hold still!" she demanded as she tried to stop the bleeding. When she pressed down on the wound, Shukaku howled in pain.
"If you'd stay still, it wouldn't hurt as much!"
"If you hadn't run away, this wouldn't have happened."
"If you hadn't frightened me, I wouldn't have run away! You should learn to control your temper!"
The Bijuu tried to think up a comeback line, but he was at a loss. Perhaps this was his fault. His servants looked on cautiously, trying to see if maybe Matsuri could calm him down.
After a moment, she was able to tend to the Bijuu's wound without interference. "By the way," she whispered, "thank you...for saving my life."
Back in town, it was the middle of the night, but a single light in the tavern was still lit. Deidara sat at a small table in a corner of the room with Tobi and a dark man in a purple suit. "I don't normally leave the asylum in the middle of the night, Deidara," the dark man began, "but you said you'd make it worth my time." He grinned when Deidara place a bag of golden coins on the table. "I'm listening."
"It's like this, Itachi, un," Deidara murmured. "I've got my heart set on marrying Matsuri, but she needs a little...persuasion."
"She turned him down flat!" Tobi squealed.
Deidara slammed a beer mug down on Tobi's head and turned back to Itachi. "Everyone knows her father is a lunatic. He was in here earlier this evening, ranting about a Bijuu! Everyone knows they're made-up, un!"
Itachi shook his head. "Baki is harmless."
"It doesn't matter, un! The point is that Matsuri will do anything to keep her father from being locked up."
Itachi raised an eyebrow. "So you want me to throw Baki into the asylum unless Matsuri agrees to marry you? Oh, that is just despicable..." An evil smile suddenly grew on his face. "Ha! I love it!"
"Is that everything?" Baki asked himself as he stuffed another gadget into his coat pocket. "If no one will help me, I'll just go after Matsuri on my own!" With that, he shut the front door and ran into the forest on his way back to the castle.
Deidara just missed him. "It looks like no one is home, un." He grabbed Tobi and threw the little man into the snow in front of the cottage. "Stay here and wait for them to return. Don't move from this spot, un!"
The next day at the palace, the sun was shining, and the snow had stopped falling, making the castle and its surroundings appear quite peaceful and lovely. Matsuri walked outside with her horse, enjoying the nice weather.
Shukaku watched her from one of the balconies, Naruto by his side. "Something wrong, Master, dattebayo?"
The Bijuu suddenly grinned. "I want to do something special for Matsuri." He made his way down into the garden and asked the girl to come with him. Matsuri was a little skeptical at first, but she agreed nonetheless.
When the two made it to a large entrance, the Bijuu asked Matsuri to close her eyes. "It's a surprise," he explained. Reluctantly, Matsuri did as she was told and followed Shukaku's guidance into the room. Once they were inside, Shukaku fixed a few things until he felt he was ready. "Okay, you can open your eyes now."
Matsuri did so and gasped. She was standing in the middle of the castle's library, and it was the biggest one she had ever seen in her entire life. "It's incredible!"
"It's all yours," Shukaku explained. "You can come here anytime you'd like. All these books now belong to you."
Matsuri was absolutely delighted.
As time passed, the servants of the castle noticed that Matsuri and Shukaku were growing closer to one another. They got along much easier than before, and they actually enjoyed spending time with each other.
One afternoon, when there was still snow on the ground, Matsuri invited Shukaku outside with her to feed the birds. I wonder why I never noticed it before, she thought to herself. There's something so sweet and kind about him...
Shukaku, too, was starting to question his guest. I don't think she looks at me as a monster anymore, he thought. No, she treats me like just another living being. Well, I guess I should ignore it for now, but...she's never looked at me that way before.
Watching them from the upper windows of the palace, the servants grinned to each other. "Well, who'd have thought?" Naruto breathed in amazement.
"Who'd have known?" Sasuke sighed.
Gai grinned. "If we wait a few more days, there should be something there that wasn't there before."
Lee looked up at the others, confused. "What's there, Papa?
A few days later, Sasuke and the others gathered everyone in the palace together. "We only have a few hours to make this place perfect!" the little clock explained. "We have to clean everything up and get Matsuri and the Master together for a romantic evening. This should do it! Alright now, half of you take the east side, half of you take the west, and the rest of you can come with me!" He was confused when everyone before him left.
Naruto laughed. "Sasuke, try to take it easy, dattebayo. Things will work out on their own. And then...we'll be human again."
"Human again," the others sighed.
So for the rest of the day until nightfall, all of the servants of the castle worked together to make the place look as amazing as possible. Then, when it finally came time to bring everything together, Naruto and the others went to work on making Shukaku look presentable.
"Maybe this is a bad idea," the Bijuu whined as his servants dressed him.
"Nonsense!" Naruto insisted. "You look..."
Shukaku glared at his reflection. "Stupid." It was true. The poor creature was covered in strange curls.
Naruto shook his head. "Okay, let's keep it simple, dattebayo." He smiled when the scissors went back to work. "Now then, remember everything we told you, Master. This is your chance to impress the girl. Act like a gentleman! If this works, the spell may be broken!"
Once Shukaku and Matsuri were both dressed and ready, they greeted each other on the main stairs of the palace. Shukaku looked more like a handsome prince than a monstrous Bijuu, as he was wearing a proper suit, and his fur was clean and cut. What was more amazing though was Matsuri. Shukaku had never seen such a beautiful sight before. The girl was wearing a gorgeous yellow ball gown Sakura had picked. When the two approached each other, they took each other hand in hand and made their way to the dining room.
After a good meal, Matsuri took Shukaku by the paws and led him into the ballroom, where a slow, soft music came from the piano. Shukaku looked absolutely terrified, but Matsuri was able to encourage him to try. She place one of his paws around her waist and took the other paw in one of her hands. She then rested her other arm on Shukaku's shoulder, and the two began to dance to the sweet music. They were both actually a bit nervous at first, but as time went on, they grew more used to it, and their time together became more romantic. There were smiles all around, especially on the faces of the watching servants.
"Ah," Gai sighed," the Beauty and the Bijuu..."
Naruto dimmed the lights in the ballroom as the two finished their dance and made their way out to the balcony. Matsuri sat down in the cool night air and smiled as Shukaku sat down next to her.
"Matsuri," he began, "do you like it here?"
Matsuri nodded. "I do." She suddenly frowned. "I just wish I could see my father again. I miss him so much."
Shukaku smiled softly. "There's a way you can." He took Matsuri's hand and led her up to the West Wing, where the Third Eye was waiting. "This eye can show you anything you wish to see. Go on, give it a try."
Matsuri gazed at the eye floating in the air. "I'd like to see my father please." With that, an image was projected before the girl. She saw her father lying in a pile of snow. "Papa!" she cried. "Oh, no! He's sick! He might die!"
Shukaku swallowed thickly. "Then you should go to him."
"You're no longer my prisoner. You may go."
Matsuri gave the Bijuu and thankful look and ran into her room to change. Once she was back in her ordinary clothes, she ran out of the castle and hopped on her horse's back. As she charged down the path back towards her village, Shukaku let out a howl of frustration.
"Master?!" Naruto gasped as he entered the room. "What...? Where is...?"
"I let her go."
"You let her go?!"
Not long later, Matsuri had found Baki and led him back into their cottage to rest. Outside, Tobi grinned and emerged from the snow. "They're back!" He ran off into the village.
Baki slowly opened his eyes only to see his daughter looking back at him. "Matsuri!" he cried. "Oh, thank goodness. You're alive! How did you escape the Bijuu?"
"I didn't escape, Papa," Matsuri explained. "He let me go. He's not bad anymore. But forget about that. We need to get you well again." She laughed when she saw Lee hop out of her dress pocket with the Third Eye. "Oh, a stowaway, huh?"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Matsuri carefully opened it and saw Itachi standing there. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"I've come to collect your father."
"But my father's not crazy!"
Matsuri didn't have time to think. Several policemen ran into the house, grabbed Baki, and dragged him outside to the coach for Itachi's asylum. Matsuri spotted Deidara watching from the shadows. "Deidara, you know my father's not crazy. Please explain it to them!"
Deidara shrugged. "I might be able to work something out," he began, "if you...marry me, un."
Matsuri face became angry. "Is that what this is all about?!" she shouted. "Never!!"
"Have it your way, un! All we know is that your father was raving about a fantasy Bijuu!"
Matsuri gasped and ran back inside the cottage. When she emerged, she had the Third Eye with her. "My father's not crazy, and I can prove it! Show me Shukaku!" She held the eye out for everyone to see, and, sure enough, Shukaku came up, roaring out his pain.
The crowd gasped. "Is he dangerous?" they asked.
Matsuri shook her head. "No, he's fine! He's kind and gentle and...!"
Deidara grabbed her arm. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you had feelings for this monster, un!"
"He's no monster, Deidara! YOU ARE!"
"She's just as crazy as her father! The Bijuu will come to town and eat us all! He'll come after us in the night!" He grinned when he saw he had the townspeople paralyzed in fear. "We're not safe until his head is mounted on my wall, un! I say we kill the Bijuu!"
"No, I won't let you!" Matsuri cried.
"If you're not with us, you're against us!" Deidara grabbed Matsuri and her father and threw them down the steps into their basement but not before taking the Third Eye from her. "We can't have you two running off to warn that monster, un. We'll kill him! We'll kill the Bijuu!"
Matsuri listened as Deidara and the angry townsfolk stormed off towards the castle. "This is all my fault," she sobbed. "Papa, what are we going to do? We have to warn Shukaku!"
Lee hopped outside and saw Baki's old invention sitting on a nearby hill. "I've got it!" he cheered. "He hopped over to the machine and turned it on. It quickly raced down the hill and destroyed the doors to the basement. Matsuri was relieved. She quickly climbed out with her father and boarded the horse. She sped down the path, but the mob was already far in front of her.
Back at the castle, Naruto told the others the news about Matsuri leaving. "Maybe it would have been better if she had never come at all, dattebayo," he spat. But suddenly, he and the others heard charging coming towards the palace. "Intruders!" he cried.
"And look!" Gai shouted, motioning towards Deidara. "They've got the Third Eye!"
"We must prepare for battle!" Sasuke suggested.
"Don't worry," Naruto interrupted. "I've got an idea!" He led the others down to the main lobby of the palace just in time for Deidara and the townspeople to enter. The servants remained motionless for a few moments, easing the invaders inside. But once Tobi grabbed Naruto for light, the candlestick holder gave the signal. "NOW!!"
With that, everything came to life and fought to chase the mob out of castle. The townspeople, too frightened to fight back, quickly left and ran all the way back to the village. Naruto and the other servant cheered at their victory, but they didn't notice they had missed one.
Deidara ran up the stairs of the palace to the highest point. He looked out one of the nearby windows to see it was starting to rain and looked back at a large set of doors. Slowly, he opened them only to see Shukaku slumped against another window, appearing very depressed. He barely noticed as Deidara entered the room.
He couldn't ignore him forever though. Deidara quickly a few small clay pieces from his pocket and threw them at the Bijuu. They exploded and destroyed the room, managing to harm Shukaku in the process. Deidara then pushed the Bijuu out the window and kicked him to the rooftop. "GET UP, MONSTER!" he shouted. "What's the matter with you, un?! Ha! Too kind and gentle to fight back?" He ripped a spiked club off the side of the palace and prepared to bash the Bijuu's head in when he heard a voice from below.
"NO, STOP IT!!" Matsuri screamed. "DEIDARA, PLEASE DON'T DO IT!!"
Shukaku gasped. "Matsuri?" He then looked up and saw Deidara about to attack him. Before the blonde man could, he grabbed onto his arm and pushed him backwards. Matsuri ran inside the palace and up to the top level as the two wrestled. Eventually, Shukaku fell into the shadows, and Deidara picked up his club.
"Were you in love with her?" he asked. "DID YOU HONESTLY THINK SHE'D WANT YOU WHEN SHE HAD SOMEONE LIKE ME, UN?!" He lashed out at the darkness, and Shukaku fell before him. "It's over, Bijuu!" he shouted. "MATSURI IS MINE!!" He went to strike the Bijuu, but Shukaku was faster. He grabbed the man's neck and dangled him over the side of the palace. "No wait, un! Please don't do it!"
Shukaku looked deep into Deidara's blue eyes and realized he couldn't do it. "I'll spare your life if you go," he growled, bringing him back to a stable spot and letting him go.
"Shukaku!" Matsuri held out her hand at the very top of the palace balcony.
"Matsuri, you came back!" the Bijuu gasped, never so happy in his life. He reached out and took the girl's hand but immediately screamed in pain. There was Deidara, his hands bloody, and a knife in Shukaku's back. When the Bijuu leaned backwards, he accidentally pushed on the blonde man. Matsuri grabbed onto Shukaku and pulled him back towards the balcony, but it was too late for Deidara. He lost his balance and fell backwards, screaming as he met with the sharp spikes jutting out from the castle.
Matsuri gasped at Deidara's dead body below her, but she was more worried about Shukaku. "At least I got to see you one last time," he gasped.
"No, don't talk like that!" Matsuri begged. "It'll be okay! We're together again!"
Shukaku's eyes rolled to the back of his head. "I never...even got to tell you...how much I cared..." And with that, he closed his eyes, and his body went motionless.
Matsuri gasped as tears rolled down her cheeks. "No...No! No, please don't leave me!" she begged. She threw herself on top of Shukaku and cried into his chest. "I love you..."
The servants watched as the last petal fell from the enchanted rose on the table inside. They sighed in defeat. It was too late.
But then, a sparkle burst out in the sky, and it stopped raining. Soon, hundreds of sparkles were flying all over the castle, and Matsuri gasped as Shukaku was lifted into the air. Blinded by the bright lights emitting from the Bijuu's body, the girl could barely watch as the beast before her started changing.
After a few moments, Matsuri gasped in surprise. Instead of Shukaku the Bijuu, there stood the most handsome man she had ever seen in her entire life! His hair was just as red as the rose, and his skin was pale. His bright green eyes were surrounded by dark circles, but they just added to the charm of his face. "Matsuri," he gasped.
The girl's eyes grew wide. "...Shukaku?"
"No!" the man replied excitedly. "No, my name isn't Shukaku. That was the name of the Bijuu! No, my name is Gaara. I'm the prince of the castle! Please believe me! It's still me!" He took Matsuri's hand and looked into her dark eyes.
Matsuri looked back into his green ones and smiled. "Oh, it is you!" she realized. She wrapped her arms around her neck, and Gaara held her close. Two two shared a single kiss, and thousands of bright lights lit up the sky, transforming the castle into the happy, beautiful place it once was.
When the two broke away, they saw that all their friends had changed, too. Naruto was actually a young blonde man, and Sasuke was right beside him, a raven-haired man. They cheered when they saw Gai, a man also with black hair, and Lee ran up to his father and grabbed onto him, the two looking like twins. Sakura and Hinata transformed back into their old selves, two palace maids. Even the footstool turned back into a dog named Pakkun.
"Naruto! Sasuke!" Gaara exclaimed, hugging his friends. "We're all back to normal! The spell has been broken!" Gaara ran back to Matsuri and spun her around. "You did it, Matsuri! It's a miracle!"
Not long after that, Gaara and Matsuri were married, and everything in the palace was back to normal. The servants and Baki watched as their prince and princess danced before them, never so happy and excited in their lives.
"Are they going to live happily ever after, Papa?" Lee asked.
Gai nodded. "I think so."
"...Do I still have to sleep in the cupboard?"
Gai laughed and picked up his son, so happy to have him back. They turned their attention back to Matsuri and Gaara, both looking so joyous and in love. They kissed again and continued their dance.
"Tale as old as time," the servants sang, "song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Bijuu!"
And they all lived happily ever after.
Next: Anko as Jessica Rabbit