Oh god, I'm sorry I haven't updated in so long! Real life kinda got in the way and writers block is a killer DX

Chapter 14

They raced through the trees as an immense shadow fell over the forest. A deep echoing growl reverberated from the cloud of dust and debris, and the earth shook with the force. The mismatched group of would-be rescuers skidded to a halt as the thing in front of them took shape, emerging from the cloud like a ghost ship, and just as terrifyingly. They stared at it with a mixture of horror and disgust. It wasn't a human and it wasn't a fox; it wasn't anything any of them could recognise. A tower of muscle and sinew, skinless and dripping with something that fell and hit the ground with a violent hiss and burst of steam. Knife-like fangs bared in a tight grimace beneath boiling blood red eyes, open wide and bulging with lack of eyelids. It stood, tall and hulking, on all fours, digging its claw tipped fingers into the earth and ripping gaping chasms in it.

Nine tails swung leisurely behind it.

Beside it in a protective circle stood Danzo. His features were twisted in a cruel and triumphant smile as he raised both his arms to the beast.

"Go my pet! Bring fear to their hearts and destruction to their lives! Only then will they truly understand how much they need me!"

Kyuubi narrowed his eyes. He'd heard words like those before. Over a decade ago, spoken by a different, yet equally deranged, man.

Looking up quickly he managed to skip to the side just in time, as the heavy form of Sakura hit the floor with a thump. In a random urge to state the obvious he said, without a hint of emotion, "...she fainted."

"Girls do that," Gaara replied, casting her an unconcerned look.

As they watched, the beast lumbered slowly and awkwardly in the direction of the village. Growls and snarls followed each careful step, as though it were in considerable pain. When it got a few paces away from the destroyed ANBU HQ, Danzo sped through a series of hand gestures and grasped the symbol on his hand, as he had before. Burning red chakra seeped from the beast's stomach; seething and writhing like a living thing, it wrapped itself around it like a cloak. Brighter and brighter it grew as more and more chakra was forced out. The forest around it was reduced to ash and cinders. With a roar of rage and pain, the beast-who-must-be-Naruto launched himself forwards and charged at Konoha.

RAGE... "what am I doing?"... PAIN ... "it hurts"... FURY... "I can't see!"... RAGE ..."where is everyone?" ...RAGE... "why do I feel so angry?" ...RAGE... "damn it, what did that bastard do to me?" ...RAGE... "damn it!"... RAGE.

The hot springs was a bustle of activity. A steady stream of happy visitors came and went, the weight of their lives lifted for the brief time they spent in the baths.

Madame Baudoin, the well-endowed owner of the Heavenly Springs, greeted her newest customers with a beaming smile and open arms. "Good day shinobi! This must be your first time visiting us yes?" she didn't wait for any confirmation; the two gentlemen were looking around with vigour, their heads never still. 'Obviously very interested in the baths,' she mused to herself. "Come with me, come with me. Your patronage is warmly appreciated! I'll have you relaxed in no time at all, no time at all!"

She ushered them to the next room, waving away their protests. They must believe that such an esteemed woman such as herself would not stoop so low as to personally see to them. How wrong they were!

She was completely oblivious to their attempts at explaining their purpose and in, as she correctly put it, no time at all Kakashi and Gai found themselves soaking in warm water with towels on their heads.

"Do you get the feeling she didn't hear a word we said?" Kakashi asked.


Gai peered round. The baths were spacious; accommodating both men and women. It was difficult to determine where Sarutobi was in all the steam, or even if he was there at all. He turned to Kakashi, "I think we'll need to... hey, Kakashi? KAKASHI!"

His masked partner was staring dreamy eyed at a pair of particularly beautiful women not far away, a spot of blood where his nostrils were. Gai whacked him over the head to snap him out of it. Coughing and spluttering where he'd faceplanted the water, Kakashi snapped back to attention.

"Yes! Sorry."

"Don't go getting distracted now, this is a VERY IMPORTANT MISSION!"

"Yes I know..."

"You need to be FULL OF YOUTHFUL ENERGY and ...hey don't leave in the middle of my youth speech!"

The two friends waded deeper into the water, past giggling girls and men who-were-most-definitely-not-peeking, under the watchful eye of the springs owner.

"We need to leave before that dreadful woman catches us again," Kakashi whispered over his shoulder.

"Right. We'll do a quick sweep of this place and get out of here."


But within minutes they were drawn by a loud, familiar booming laugh. Sloshing through the water, they rounded a rock and came face to face with the third Hokage. And about twenty women. Twenty breathtakingly hot women.

"How does he do it?" Gai mused, before casting a withering look at Kakashi, who was lost in his fantasies again. "Oh for the love of youth..." He pushed his way through the mass of skin, leaving surprised 'oh!'s and irritated 'hey!'s in his wake. It took every ounce of his self control not to turn into the giggling idiot Kakashi had become. Why don't they teach you important stuff like this at the academy?

Eventually, he made it to the Hokage, breathless and sweating profusely. A blond babe eyed him with a predatory satisfaction, edging her way closer. He kept a careful watch out of the corner of his eye. 'No distractions, no distractions, no distractions,' he repeated to himself. He turned his head to see Kakashi disappearing under a wave of women; there would be no help from there. The Hokage was talking amiably to the women under each arm, his life story no doubt, and they listened attentively, playing with his pointed beard.

Gai realised with a sinking sensation that it would take a great deal of effort to drag Sarutobi out of the hot springs.

RAGE... "the chakra"... PAIN ... "I can't control it"... FURY... "what is this?"... RAGE ..."these aren't my emotions" ...RAGE... "help me" ...RAGE... "HELP me! Somebody? Anybody!" ...RAGE... "Kyuubi!"... RAGE.

With the Sakura girl secure on Gaara's back (everyone else was too small and they couldn't leave the silly idiot lying on the forest floor where anyone could step on her... as much as they'd like to) the trio padded silently through the trees, careful not to attract Danzo's notice. It was evident that the insane man was controlling Naruto somehow. There was nothing they could do about Naruto himself, not even Shukaku believed he could take him on, but if they could take out Danzo...

It was a hopeless plan even as he thought it out and Kyuubi was not one to take needless risks if he could help it. It would be better just to turn tail and hide somewhere. Yes. That would be for the best. There was nothing they could do.

He frowned (which, in his little fox body, was an incredibly cute frown). But this was personal. That was HIS body over there, hurling itself into the stone wall around Konoha. That was HIS chakra burning down all vegetation in a thirty foot radius. And it wasn't HIM doing it all. Now that was something he just wouldn't stand for. Not in the slightest.

Suddenly Mr Muggles stopped dead, fur bristling as though he'd had some kind of electric shock and hissed at a bush. Kyuubi narrowed his eyes in a patronising way, 'why has everyone gone mad lately?' He trotted over to the cat, who looked somewhat more like a ball of fluff. How it managed to keep its white fur so clean was an absolute mystery to Kyuubi, who personally enjoyed rolling in mud as much as the next animal. If the occasional village happened to be situated in the mud then so be it. He considered for a moment that perhaps his uncaring attitude had granted him a rather unfair reputation, but then, he really didn't care.

A scent caught his attention, as it had caught Mr Muggles'. A mix of blood and fur and something else. His hackles raised themselves of their own accord as he struggled to remember what the scent reminded him of. Gaara turned and joined them, looking bored.

A twig snapped and all eyes peered into the gloom behind the bush. A form limped forwards, dragging an uncooperative hindleg, until she finally emerged into the light to reveal herself and her sorry state.

Nibi was a complete mess.

Blood drenched most of her fur and mixed with the tears that ran freely down her face. Her left ear was missing and she held her left paw to her chest protectively, most likely broken. Three deep gashes marred her back and sliced through her right hindleg, which dragged on the floor, collecting twigs and leaves and dirt. One of her two tails was now also considerably shorter than the other. She whimpered once before collapsing in a heap at their feet.

Without a moment hesitation, Mr Muggles was at her side, nuzzling at her and meoowphing in a pitiful way. Kyuubi was struck with indecision. He didn't know what to do; Nibi was his nemesis but then, she was the same as he, a tailed demon. Surely they were both against Danzo and his evil schemes? And what was that age old saying... my enemy's enemy is my friend? Regardless of that, she had come to them for help; that much was obvious. Even if she hasn't realised who they were. There was no honour in defeating an already defeated foe.

His mind finally made up, he approached the unconscious cat demon cautiously and proceeded to lick the salty blood and tears from her cheeks and muzzle. It tasted gross.

Gaara remained where he was, shifting Sakura into a more comfortably position. "Shukaku says to just leave her," he said.

"We need all the help we can get."

"She's useless, just look at her."

"She'll be fine after we clean her up a bit."

"You've gone soft fox."

Kyuubi turned slowly to fix him with a deadly glare, all the more effective with the blood staining his chin. Gaara remained expressionless, though a small muscle began to twitch and he went a little paler.

"We take her with us. Understood?"

Gaara nodded quickly. "But I can't carry both..."

Kyuubi thought quickly. "You won't have to." He grinned wickedly.

A few minutes later Sakura regained consciousness with an ear-splitting screech. "WHAT THE...!" She sat up in the freezing cold stream, water dripping from her hair and clothes. "HOW DARE YOU!" her gaze fell on Gaara and she assailed him with all the horror of an angry teenage girl.

Kyuubi watched with amusement as the pink haired girl battered him with both her fists until she ran out of things to yell. Breathing heavily she turned to spot the fox himself lurking by the tree roots. He granted her his most winning grin.

"YOU!" she screeched again, building up for another onslaught.

Kyuubi thought it best to cut her off before it got to the hitting stage. "Yes yes yes," he waved a paw in a belittling way, "I'm sure you have much you want to say to me, but there are far more pressing issues at hand that must be dealt with." The earth shook as Naruto let out a bone chilling roar in the distance. "First and foremost being that." Sakura let out all the air she'd been holding in one go with an amusing sound, not unlike breaking wind. He coughed politely, then turned to lead the way back to the felines without another word.