Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto
Naruto smiled. The parts he had ordered had finally arrived, most of them anyways, and he could begin upgrading his puppets. He went from simple things like obvious weapons over hidden weaponry to general additions.
With his father's knowledge, particularly regarding reverse-summoning and the Hiraishin, he could easily equip his puppets with the membrane he had thought of years ago, but never could actually build up til now, which would protect the delicate hearts from damage. In fact, he had gone one step further, by using not one, but two membranes. If the outer membrane was damaged, the heart would automatically be transferred from the puppet into Naruto, who would then be able to use their powers as himself. However, should the inner membrane be damaged, in other words, should someone directly attack Naruto, the hearts would be teleported to a safe location, where Naruto could easily pick them up and reunite them with their puppet.
Another useful addition was a system Naruto added to his ten main-puppets, a system consisting of what came down to plugs. They were built to come out of the hands, and designed in a way that they could both connect with another hand-plug, or a pair of holes located where the shoulder-blades would be. With them, so Naruto hoped, he'd be able to reproduce different element-mixes, reproducing elements that normally would only be usable with a specific bloodline.
Of course he knew that there was more to an elemental-bloodline than simply mixing two elements to creating a new one. Bloodline-users could embed their element with special properties that his mixes could not, but even so, it would be a first step, and allow Naruto to safely estimate just how much of each element he'd need to put into the mix to make it work, without endangering himself in the experiments.
Seals were generally a great addition to his puppets, and Naruto was more than generous in their application.
He was still waiting for a few more parts, but for the moment, his puppets had gone from 'A light bother for a B-rank' to 'A serious threat for an A-rank', which was quite an improvement.
Of course, part of the reason the deliveries took so long was that Naruto had insisted that he wanted hard and tough, but non-magnetic materials, as he had no intention of making things easy for an experienced Raiton-user, that type occasionally finding a way to influence magnetic fields, though few ever reached a level even close to that of the Sandaime Kazekage.
Well, he had done all he could for now, it was high-time to spend some time with his mother. He had locked himself up for three days, and he still wanted to make a few journeys. Perhaps one of his parents had come from Kumo?
Kushina hummed happily to herself. Had anyone told her a month ago that she would be able to go to bed without nightmares about what she had lost, she would have beaten the bastard to a pulp, but her son really lightened up her life.
They had been cheated out of much of the time they should have been spending together, but both of them seemed almost desperate to make up for lost time. Most nights Naruto actually crawled into her bed, hugging her tightly, as if to prove to himself that it was real, and perhaps fearing that if he let her go, she would vanish, like most of the good things in his life. They had been given a second chance, and both were determined to use it.
Though Kushina could tell that there were still depths in Naruto's mind that nobody, not even her, was privy to, traumas that he shared with nobody. She knew that Naruto had been, according to his own words, up to his elbows in a corpse, and from the nonchalant way he'd said that, more than once, but she didn't know why. What had Orochimaru forced Naruto to do that required such a monstrous act from one so young?
Kushina didn't push Naruto for answers, though. She didn't want to reopen old wounds, and perhaps Naruto was trying to forget. Still, she had vowed that she'd always be there, an open ear for his sorrow.
But for that to be always true, there was one more thing she needed to do, only that she didn't want to leave Naruto alone.
As coincident would have it, Naruto walked in that moment. "Mom, can I talk to you for a moment? I'd like to take another trip, is that okay?"
Kushina blinked. "Well... as long as you don't go anywhere dangerous. It just so happens that I wanted to talk to Sarutobi, so if you can promise to be back for dinner, and stay out of trouble, you can go on a short trip. But at the first sign of trouble, you're gone, alright?"
Naruto nodded obediently. "Yes mom."
Kushina still could not believe how wonderful it felt to be called that. She pulled Naruto into a hug, which the boy who had been starved of affection for so long eagerly returned.
"I love you, Naruto." Kushina whispered.
Naruto nodded, as he could practically feel his mother's love embrace him, feeling far better than any stolen memory. "I love you too mom."
Kushina grinned. "Now what do you say we go to Ichiraku's for lunch?"
'Where to go?' Naruto asked himself. He wanted to go to Kumo, despite it perhaps being dangerous. He simply had no clues just where his other parents had come from, and Kumo, the true strongest village from the military standpoint, seemed to be a fairly good start.
But just popping up inside the village seemed a stupid idea. Not only was the chance of being seen very high, but if Kumo had a detection-barrier like Konoha, then simply appearing out of nowhere would immediately raise alarms, and bring the entire village down on his head. No, it was better to appear a few miles away from Kumo, then walk the rest of the way by foot, and enter as a civilian. He had recently found out that while the henge or disguise-illusions were beyond him, one of the ones who had donated their genes and abilities to him apparently had the ability to perfectly mimic the shape, voice, and even chakra-signature of any person that he or she had studied to a sufficient degree, which he intended to use for stealth. Suiyoukito, his futton-puppet, should be reasonably anonymous, but he'd fix that up when he was in Kumo's vicinity.
Skipping over the memories of his puppets, using them like a computer instead of 3D-cinema, he decided on a location. It was only a mile from Kumo, but it was by a lesser-known but regularly traveled path. It was nothing more than a bunch of boulders at a cliff-wall, so Naruto should have plenty of cover when he came out. Focusing on the location, he sank into the ground.
Naruto had planned to slide out of one of the boulders, flip mid-air and land on his feet, before he'd start with his disguise, so he came out of the wall fairly quickly. Looking back, it would have been smarter to first only poke his head out to analyze the situation, but despite all he'd been through, Naruto was still lacking in experience.
Needless to say, when he landed in hot water where he'd expected solid ground, he was frozen in shock.
Naruto fought himself up, noticing that steam made it difficult to see much. "HOT!" He called out, before blinking in confusion. "What the? Water?"
"Hey, whose there? Omoi, you pervert, I don't know how you found out we were here, but if that's you, then you've been a man for the longest time!" came a voice from behind.
Naruto turned around... and was frozen in place.
In front of him stood a girl of sixteen or seventeen years with long blond hair, another girl maybe a year younger, though with shorter hair and a larger bust, a few feet behind her on the left, while a third girl with tanned skin had the right flank. Oh, and all three were completely naked.
A blush went up Naruto's face, much like quicksilver rose in a thermometer, a small puff of smoke rising from Naruto's head when it reached the hairline, before all color left his face. These were girls. Naked girls. And he was looking at them. Naruto whimpered. He was so dead. He tried to escape, but it was too little, too late.
The long-haired blond had somehow heard his whimper, and rushed at him, grabbing him by the collar. "Now I have you, pervert! When I'm through with you, you'll wish you've never been... a kid?"
Naruto closed his eye, and moved his arms to protect his head, while spluttering out "I'msorryI'msorryI'msorryitwasanaccidentI'msorry!"
"Hey Yugito, did you get the pervert?" The tanned girl called out.
The long-haired blonde, Yugito looked at the odd kid she had dangling from her arm. Making a decision, she returned to her friends, who had wrapped towels around their bodies. "Samui, Karui, look at what I found."
Naruto whimpered again, eye closed, as he was carried closer to his doom. Karui blinked. "A brat? Typical. Barely a hair on the ball, but needs to peep."
"I wasn't peeping." Naruto meekly defended himself.
"Something's odd with his skin." The other blond stated in a neutral tone.
The tanned one blinked. "Huh? What the fuck? You're right Samui, the kid's a freak!"
Naruto flinched under the harsh judgment. It seemed there was little hope that all could be as accepting as jiji and his mother, but the word still hurt.
Yugito noticed his twitch, and that the boy's body seemed to slump together slightly. She felt a sting of pity for the little guy, knowing from personal experience how such words could hurt. Aside from his more than unusual pigmentation, the odd streaks of color in his hair, and the eye-patch, he actually looked kind of cute, in a wet-puppy-kinda way. "Karui, that's a little harsh."
Karui was unconvinced. "Look at the little pervert, he looks like some sicko's experiment!"
This time the flinch was impossible to miss, and Yugito wondered if Karui had unknowingly nailed the boy's situation. If that was true, then pity was perhaps fitting. But first thing's first. "If you weren't peeping on us, why are you here? Who are you anyways?"
The boy fidgeted, but the feeling of Yugito's sharp nails on his neck convinced him to hold still. "My name is Naruto. And... I really didn't mean to! I thought there were only rocks, where did the onsen come from?"
Samui raised a brow. Slightly. "It's new. It opened last week. But they were working on it for over a year."
Naruto blinked. "Oh. Well, that explains it, my info was just too old."
Yugito looked at him. "Even so, you should have noticed the hotspring before you landed in the water, on the girl's side no less. Explain."
Sweat began to roll from Naruto's forehead. "Oh that. Well, you see, it's kinda complicated, and.. oh look at the time, gotta go, bye!" With that, he somehow slipped from Yugito's grip, and scrambled for freedom.
Samui and Karui were blindsided by the boy's speed, but for Yugito, her cat-instincts only made her pounce on the moving target. Naruto was knocked to the floor, less than a foot away from freedom.
"And where do you think you're going, boy? We still haven't discussed your punishment for peeping."
"But I really wasn't!" Naruto tried to defend himself.
Yugito looked at the boy before her. It really was kinda adorable, the way he kept his one eye either closed or away from her assets. The boy was obviously really shy, and not the type to peep, something that both Samui and Karui had picked up as well. Karui had a grin on her face, clearly saying that she wanted to tease the boy.
Karui waded next to them. "Well, since he's in the onsen, I think he should take off his clothes as well."
Even the ever-stoic Samui cracked a small smile, as she stated in her neutral voice "They need to dry, or he'll get sick."
Yugito's own toothy smile appeared, giving a certain resemblance to the Cheshire cat. "Well, you heard the girls Naruto, off they go." With that, they stripped the struggling boy.
Naruto had recreated his reproductive-system after he escaped Orochimaru, but right now, he was seriously considering dissolving them again. He didn't use any of his abilities, because, well, the girls were the ones in the right. Whether intended or not, he had peeped on them, something his mom had told him was a very, very bad thing. And while he was very happy that they weren't hitting him, if only because he didn't know if he could suppress his scale-defense from activating from such an obvious attack, but this really was humiliating.
Naruto's head was an even scarlet when the girls pulled him back into the water, this time naked except for the eyepatch, though he had managed to cover his privates with a hand. He sat there in the water, not really knowing what he should do, when he felt something warm and soft press against his back. Yugito's breath was on his ear, sending shivers down his spine. "Hey Naruto," She whispered seductively "why so tense? Don't you enjoy the... company?"
Naruto's crimson face could be seen from space. "I-I-I...B-But...it really wasn't on purpose. I said I was sorry, please forgive me already."
Yugito laughed. On one side, she had pity for the boy, but this was just too funny. She was the host of the Nibi, something that had certain effects on her personality, and right now, kitty wanted to play. There was just something about this kid that set her at ease, maybe his smell, but the steam was too thick to properly get a whiff of him.
Suddenly Karui stood up, swiping over Naruto's face. The boy immediately understood what had happened, his right hand immediately covering the eye. "Give it back!"
Karui was holding up the boy's eye-patch, grinning. "Or what?"
Naruto really didn't want to hurt her, but he needed that patch! He didn't want anyone to see that eye, it would only make him feel even more out-of-place with the three pretty, no gorgeous girls around him.
Yugito blinked at the desperation in Naruto's voice. It seemed there was more to the patch than covering up an empty eye-socket, and to be honest, she was curious. But to the boy, who was jumping up, Karui dangling the patch just out of his reach, it seemed to be really important. "Karui, give it back."
Karui looked at her, and at that moment, Naruto made another jump, only this time, his arm actually stretched slightly, allowing him to pull it out of Karui's hand. He immediately replaced it over his right socket, unknowingly giving the girls a peek of a gray, somehow wrong eyeball that seemed bloated somehow.
Karui winced, her imagination turning that glimpse into the picture of a horribly disfigured organ, leaking fluids. No wonder the kid didn't want anyone to see.
Yugito on the other hand had noticed that there was a pattern of sorts in the eye, and suspected a dojutsu. Another thing that unnerved her was that, while she couldn't say it with complete certainty, she was pretty sure that the instant before it was covered, the gray eye had rolled in its socket, ignoring the cerulean eye looking in the opposite direction, to focus on her. Something was off with the kid.
But for now, Naruto seemed quite happy with having simply his eyepatch back.
Meanwhile, far away, a blue man with gill-like markings beneath his eyes and a large wrapped object around his back took seat in a restaurant, waiting for his partner to return with new orders. His meal had just arrived, and Kisame was about to dig in, when he noticed from the corner of the eyed that someone was taking place to his right. He looked up, and any thought of splitting heads was forgotten when he recognized the long white hair. He sighed, and went back to his meal.
The person to his right simply sat there, wordlessly looking at him.
Of all the people Kisame had killed, which included his own master, there was only one that wouldn't leave him alone, that he simply couldn't forget. "Hello, my beloved ghost."
The white-haired woman wearing Kiri's headband simply sat in silence, blood flowing from the wound in her torso that his katana had made, so long ago.
A few minutes later, Itachi sat on the spot opposite to Kisame, making his own order, before looking at his comrade. "Something wrong, Kisame?"
The treasonous swordsman glanced at the woman only he could see one last time, before shaking his head. "No, I'm fine."
Karui noticed her teammate was once again rubbing her shoulders. "Back-pain again, Samui?"
The stoic blond nodded. Yugito was catching on to Karui's plan, and as it would without a doubt prove whether or not the boy was a pervert.
Well, he was a boy, so he had a genetic disadvantage in such tests, but who knew, there was that mythical creature known as 'The Gentleman', and young ones generally had less interest in such things. The boy's blush proved that he had let the 'girls-are-icky-stage', but he was still really shy. His own appearance might be a further discouragement from mingling with society, as the boy obviously took rejection pretty badly, from the almost heartbroken expression on his face when Karui had called him a freak, and if Yugito's suspicion was correct, then he had looked different in the past. She tried to imagine him with blond hair, an even skin-tone, and two of those cerulean eyes, and nearly squealed at the cute image. If her mental picture was even close to the truth, then whoever had done that to him should be nailed to the top of Kumo's highest tower, also known as Lightning's Lover due to the frequent lightning-strikes, by his testicles.
Still, she kept her poker-face. "Naruto, you want us to forgive you, right?" She asked.
Naruto nodded his head quickly, really wanting the pretty nee-chans to not be angry with him.
Karui grinned. "Well then, give Samui a good backrub, and we'll consider it."
Samui raised a brow, but she lowered herself deeper into the waters, showing Naruto her back.
For a second, Naruto stared in complete confusion. When he realized the girls were serious, he looked at the back, then at his hands. His mouths were shut tightly, but just for good measures, he focused, a black thread coming out of each wrist, sewing the mouths shut. It stung, but Naruto really didn't want to be called a pervert. Hesitantly he placed his hands on Samui's shoulders, marveling at how soft her skin felt for a second, before he felt his consciousness beginning to dig into her mind. He pulled his hands back immediately, but a glare from Karui told him to keep working. So this time, he focused on only learning where her back hurt her, and basically blocked all other things, to avoid violating her privacy.
He had given his mother a few massages, and once massaged Karin, so he had an idea what to do, and knowing where those tense spots were really helped, so after only a minute of massage, Samui actually broke out into a smile. "Ah, right there. Little harder."
It took ten more minutes until Samui was happy, and Naruto was told that they had forgiven him. Of course, that didn't mean he was free to go. Just as he left the onsen, he felt an arm wrap around his chest, pulling him into a soft valley, before he found himself carried under Samui's arm.
"Samui, what are you doing?" Karui asked.
"He gives good backrubs." The blond answered in her same monotone. "I'm keeping him."
Now Yugito looked up. "No way, I found him, he's mine!"
Samui seemed to ponder this, before Naruto was handed over. "I will be borrowing him."
Naruto blinked, a bit blindsided by the sudden turn of events. "Wait, what? You can't just...huh?"
The girls ignored him, and started shinobi-travel in the same direction Naruto had originally intended to go to Kumo, but not like this!
On the positive side, he was practically waved through the security-checks. The girls separated soon after, Naruto still trapped in the clutches of what he knew from his right eye was the Nibi-jinchuuriki. She carried him to Kumo's slums, before stopping before an apartment that seemed particularly desolate. The walls were covered in graffiti, and trash was scattered everywhere. Naruto had uncomfortable flashbacks to his own old house in Konoha, before he had been kidnapped.
Yugito sighed, before biting her finger, channeling chakra into it, and pressing it against a door that was practically covered with insults. The door opened, and Yugito stepped in.
Naruto felt like he had entered a different world. Everything was clean and shiny, someone apparently putting much care into making sure everything looked nice.
Yugito opened a steel door, leading to a very solid cellar, before she threw the baggage against the wall. She was not at all surprised when the boy flipped mid-air, landing on his feet, before jumping to the floor. "Who are you?" She demanded.
Naruto blinked. "What do you mean?" He asked, hoping to get out of the situation somehow.
Yugito charged at him, her nails sharpened to razor-sharp claws. Naruto dodged, barely suppressing the urge to counter-attack. Yugito sneered. "Don't play dumb! You're obviously a shinobi! Who sent you?"
Naruto sighed, before his posture straightened. "You're right, I'm not a civilian. But nobody sent me, I came just because there's something I want to know, and I hoped Kumo had some answers."
Yugito's eyes narrowed. "So you're a spy."
Naruto shook his head. "I'm not interested in military secrets. I'm looking for information regarding individuals with certain abilities."
"That's called spying." She sighed. She had actually kinda liked the two-colored boy.
"No, it's... wait, if you knew that I wasn't a civilian, why did you take me into the village?"
Yugito blinked. Why had she done that? Because she didn't want to worry the other two? No. Because she wanted to deal with the spy herself? Closer, but that still wasn't the reason. It was because she had hoped that she was wrong. Instead of voicing her inner turmoil, she charged a bit of her bijuu's chakra through her body, dropped to all fours, and vanished, reappearing right in front of the boy, intending to take his head with a single strike. She jumped back with a hiss, holding her bleeding hand.
Gray scales had sprouted from the boy's body, forming a natural armor of sorts. The scales shivered slightly, causing a sound similar to that of a rattlesnake. A warning to stay away.
Yugito's eyes narrowed. "Looks like I underestimated you." She channeled Nibi's youki into her hands, intending to use its darker abilities, when the boy pointed his hand at her.
"Shinra Tensei" Yugito was thrown against the wall. She hissed in pain, and Naruto lowered his hand, worried he had hurt her, before she opened her mouth and spat a fireball at him. Naruto's hand shot up again, scales covering the palm, thread opening to reveal the sharp-toothed maw. The fireball stopped, before it was sucked into the greedy abyss.
"Can we now talk, please?" Naruto asked.
Yugito ground her teeth in anger, and Naruto was getting desperate. How could he tell her that he was not the enemy?
"Naruto, tell her these words, exactly these words: Does the little kitten really want another spanking? If so, all she has to do is ask." Kyuubi ordered.
Naruto blinked, really not wanting to say something so provoking, but he had the feeling that there was some history that he wasn't aware of. So he gulped. "Here's a message: Does the little kitten really want another spanking? If so, all she has to do is ask."
Yugito nearly roared in anger, before her bijuu stopped her. She blinked a few times, before looking at Naruto. "You hold the Kyuubi?" She asked in disbelief.
Naruto nodded. "Can we talk now?"
When the jinchuuriki of the two-tailed cat awoke, she found herself on her couch, a plate with sushi in front of her. She immediately devoured it, before it could vanish, when she heard a laugh.
Her head shot up, and she saw a boy with blond hair with colored streaks, and a very unique tan. "You!" She called out, before looking at the empty plate. "Did you make those?"
"A little more salt next time." Yugito stated, before she frowned. "Wait, everything I own is sealed shut, how did you get the ingredients?"
Naruto blinked sheepishly. "Well, you see... These scales of mine absorb chakra, and I recently found out that that includes the chakra in seals. Don't worry though," he quickly added at her shocked expression "I fixed everything afterwords." 'Thank you father, you saved my hide.' He silently added.
Yugito shook her head. "I want the full story. Now."
Naruto took a deep breath, and began to tell her a slightly edited version, leaving out a few things that really weren't her business, but outlining what he'd been through.
After Naruto finished, Yugito shook her head, her pity for Naruto having soared, coupled with the knowledge that his fate could have hit any jinchuuriki, including her. "So that's why you came. Well, I kinda understand it, but still. Also, you said that you heard Orochimaru got those samples from an organization he joined, likely after leaving Konoha. So perhaps bingo-books might have more clues than randomly digging through villages, hoping for a shred of information."
Naruto blinked. He felt like an idiot for not thinking of that sooner. He slapped his forehead. "Oh, I'm so stupid! Thanks Yugito-chan!"
Yugito grinned. "You'll pay me back."
Naruto blinked. "Huh?"
Her grin widened. "In three weeks, you're taking me shopping. There's a lovely village not far from here, and I've been planning on going for a while, but I never found the time."
Naruto was still confused, though a shiver went down his spine at the word 'shopping'. "B-But why me?"
Yugito patted his head. "Now now Naruto, that's just rude. Not only did I help you on your quest, but you still owe me for the show."
Naruto looked completely lost. "What show?"
"In the onsen." Yugito replied, and Naruto turned crimson.
What could one possibly reply to that? "Oh. O-okay then, when?"
Yugito clapped her hands. "Let's see. I have a few missions coming in, so... in nineteen days, Wednesday?"
Naruto mentally calculated. The genin-exams where on Wednesday, but he already had a hiteate, so he was free. "Okay, what time?"
Yugito suddenly kissed him on the cheek, effectively shutting his brain down. "11:00AM in front of the onsen, don't be late. Now I want to see how you landed in the onsen without noticing it."
Obediently, Naruto sank into the earth, Yugito whistling in respect for such a jutsu. She waved at him. "See you Wednesday."
And even though Yugito seemed to have forgiven him, the last thought going through Naruto's head was 'I saw her naked. I violated her privacy. I should be in prison, where no woman is bothered by me.'
He didn't even notice that that thought had been accepted as the destination.
This time Naruto made sure that his head was the only thing sticking out of the wall, so that he could leave before another such accident happened.
He was in a dark room, an empty bed, three solid walls and the last one bars. A shudder went down his back, memories from Orochimaru's lab crawling back into his mind, before he suppressed them. This was a cell, but who was the prisoner?
He spotted her a second later, leaned against a wall. She was wearing a gray shirt, gray pants, and no shoes. Her long white hair was filthy, it seemed that she hadn't washed in a while. She was very thin, almost skeletal, and his eye told her that she was not doing well. In fact, it seemed like she was preparing to knock on death's door.
Without thinking, Naruto slipped out of the wall, and was next to her in an instant. Her left arm had scars, going in horizontal lines, as if she had tried to slit her wrist multiple times.
He gently shook her. "Hey, are you okay? What's wrong?"
The woman didn't answer, her eyes glued to the wall. Naruto followed her eyes, and his own widened.
On the wall was a picture, painted in what had to be blood. The woman had apparently used her own blood as paint, and drew a picture of a face with nothing but her fingers.
It was crude, but one could clearly identify of a face with sharp teeth, a hiteate of Kiri under a kinda onion-shaped hairstyle that reminded him of Ao's, and three curved lines under each of the small, perfectly circular eyes.
"Kisame." The woman muttered, her voice raspy.
Naruto blinked, wondering what feelings would motivate one to pour one's life into a picture. Was it hatred or love that kept her going? His thoughts were interrupted by someone rattling on the bars. Naruto hid in the shadows, but the man hadn't even noticed him. He was focused on the girl, and as Naruto could smell even from where he was, dead drunk.
"Eh 'ou bitch!" The drunk slurred out. "Nobody there to shave 'ou thish time. Now 'ou're hickup my whore."
He unlocked the door, stumbled in, and closed it again, his free hand fumbling his belt.
Naruto's mind was going a mile a minute. The woman was in no condition to defend herself, she was weakened, starved, underweight, and barely conscious. In her condition, there was a chance she wouldn't survive the ordeal this bastard wanted to put on her. The woman needed help, and the scum, who's face in Naruto's mind overlapped with that of Orochimaru, needed to die. Before he could decide on an approach, his left arm had shot up, his index-finger extended and pointing at the sleazy guard.
"Ey, who te 'ell are...?" Was as far as he got, before Naruto's finger, suddenly brown, shot forward like a spear, piercing the man's heart. His right index-finger had pierced the woman, but not only did she not seem in pain, but Naruto felt something pump into her.
"A little something I came up with. Now we'll see if it works, and she's compatible with your flesh." Kyuubi commented, though Naruto didn't understand what she was referring to.
The man twitched a few more times, before he slumped together. Then it happened. He seemed to thin down, as if he was a leaking balloon. At the same time, Naruto could feel his body was breaking something down, making it into its own, before leaving him to pour into the woman, who had turned completely brownish gray, her body rippling.
By the time Naruto stopped, the warden was little more than a dried-up husk that actually crumbled to dust when Naruto gave it a kick.
The woman was still rippling, but a few minutes after Naruto removed his finger from her, that too stopped, and the woman regained her normal color. Only now, she didn't look like a living corpse. Her skin had a healthy color, though the scars were still there, and she had gained weight, her body now curvy and seemingly at peak-condition.
The woman hadn't noticed anything, and still looked at the drawing. "Kisame..." She muttered again.
Naruto gently patted her. "What's your name?"
The woman didn't look at him, but his question had reached through the haze of her mind, together with the gentleness of his actions, loosening her tongue for the first time in years. There was just an instinctual trust to the voice. "Yume. Yume Mugetsu."
Naruto nodded to himself. That was something. "Why are you here?"
Yume blinked. "The war. Ambush. Kisame...information. Has to stay secret."
So the woman was a POW. Good to know. But from what war?
He picked up the clothes of the warden, looking for ID. When he found it, he rushed to the bars, and stared out. There it was. A spiral in a leaf. This was a Konoha-prison! He would need to have some words with jiji.
He gently stroked Yume's hair. "I'll be back. Watch out for yourself, and don't let anyone take advantage of you."
Yume nodded, and Naruto knew that right now, there was nothing else he could do.
Sarutobi sighed. He had spent the entire afternoon arguing with Kushina, then after finally giving in, he had to set the gears in motion to ensure that her request was official, so nobody could later give him shit about it. But thanks to Naruto, he now had plenty of free time. It was not as much as it should be, as he now had to start the process against the cheaters, and find replacements, but his burden had dropped significantly.
Right now, Kushina was sitting in front of him, full of expectation.
At least this once, he could give her good news, and not disappoint her. "Well, your request went through, and I can already say that it's granted."
Kushina smiled happily. "Thank you Hokage-sama."
Sarutobi nodded. "Well, if that's all, then..."
Suddenly Naruto stepped out of the wall. "Jiji, we need to talk."
Sarutobi blinked. "Certainly, about what?"
Naruto's expression was neutral. "I'd like to know what crime a certain prisoner is accused of."
Sarutobi blinked, this was not what he had expected. "Sure, which one?"
"A woman, long white hair, hails from Kiri. Keeps muttering the name Kisame."
Sarutobi sighed. "I know who you're talking about. The woman was brought here by Ibiki himself. He had cornered a squad holding some of Kiri's most valuable secrets, from their codes over military operations. However, the guard that was sent along, Kisame Hoshigaki, killed them all, as he feared that they would not be able to withstand Ibiki's torture. Kisame put up a good fight, and since he was alone, actually managed to escape. The woman was barely alive, and only coincident allowed her to live, as Tsunade just happened to be close by. She was then taken to Hi no Kuni, and Ibiki pulled every trick in the book to gain information. But she closed up, and even under torture did not even give away her name. She even managed to block Inoichi, though that jutsu also shrouded her in what Inoichi describes as mental darkness. She's barely aware of her surroundings, and her knowledge is even beyond her grasp. Not that it matters, by now all information she had is outdated and useless. The most complex thing she does is paint Kisame's face on a wall of her cell. It was cleaned multiple times, but when the guards realized that she wouldn't stop, they just let her. We would have returned her to Kiri long ago, however with the country still embroiled in war, there's just nobody to contact."
Naruto nodded. "I see. Would it be possible to move her somewhere else? Just a few minutes ago, I... prevented a rape. The culprit won't be seen ever again."
Kushina frowned. As a woman, rapists were something she hated more than anything else. Also, Naruto was finally making some human-contact outside of her, which she was trying to encourage. "Hokage-sama, I wish to take the woman under my protection until she can be returned to her country."
Sarutobi frowned. Handing over prisoners like that was against protocol, but under the given circumstances, perhaps not the worst choice. Also, he'd order a thorough investigation of the prison-workers, and while he was at it, all other institutions. After all, if corruption had spread both within the prison and the Hokage-tower, then it could have reached other places as well, and eventually endanger the entire tree that was Konoha. "I'll see what can be done." He promised.
Naruto nodded, and left the tower with Kushina.
"So Naruto," Kushina asked "did you meet anyone interesting?"
Naruto thought of Yugito, Samui and Karui, and a slight blush reddened his cheeks. "Yes. And mom?"
"Yes Naruto?" Kushina answered, her mother-instincts telling her that something she could tease her son with would follow.
"I was more or less forced into promising another meeting with this girl. Do you mind if I go?"
Kushina wiped away an imaginary tear. "My little sochi, already going on dates. He's such a little heartbreaker already."
The reaction was immediate. "Mom! I was serious."
Kushina laughed. "I know. When we're home, you'll have to tell me everything."
Knowing this was a battle he couldn't win, Naruto gave into his fate. "Yes mom."
Chapter 9 is done. I can't believe it took this long, but it's done. Very little action, but a few meetings that can easily change things, and I believe that such chapters are also important. As for the onsen-scene, I always had this idea in the back of my head, and eventually I just decided to go with it. Sorry if it wasn't that good, I'm still new to that type of writing.
I have no excuse for not updating this story so long, only that life happened and I just never found the time. I hope my readers forgive me, as I said before, non of my stories are abandoned or canceled.
And Naruto thinks himself much uglier than he really is. Yes, he looks unusual, but in the world of Naruto, blue is a natural skin-color! I rest my case.
I know that the only fight-scene was very short, but Yugito was blindsided by Naruto's powers, and lets be honest, they are badass. And I reduced her age, placing her only a year ahead of Samui and Karui. Regarding Kisame and the woman I named Yume, well I did want to make the Akatsuki good, or at least not evil, and even canon-Kisame had regrets about the murder of his comrades, which showed in his attitude against 'the world of falsehood', so I decided to go with that.
I actually wanted to show another event that would show Naruto's inhuman tendencies, but I'm afraid that will have to wait until next chapter, when Yume is released. And don't worry, Naruto accepted that he's different, but as said before, he's seen monsters in human shape, so he accepts that he's a human in a monster's shape. Of course, that doesn't mean he's not touchy on the subject, as Karui showed. Next chapter will also introduce Naruto to another new thing, and Danzou will be in for a small scare, though I repeat, he is not an antagonist, and will neither die nor be imprisoned. The scare won't even have anything to do with him directly, but that's all I'm willing to give away right now.
Some criticized Naruto not turning Minato into a puppet. There are two reasons why I didn't. One, the moral standpoint, as that would be desecrating his father's corpse, and second, why? Minato had no bloodlines, sealing is useless to a puppet, the Rasengan isn't that special, and using the Hiraishin would sever the chakra-strings, meaning that the puppet would uselessly collapse the second it was used. There was no logical reason to turn Minato into a puppet.
As for Kyuubi's actions, it's not kindness or a wish to help, it's raw curiosity that drives her. She didn't help Naruto to be nice, she just wanted to see if what she came up with worked. That it helped a human was just a neglectable side-effect.
To clear up one thing, Naruto has the abilities of the Akatsuki, not their memories. He does not know the people they do, and he still has no idea about half of what he can do.
And to those worrying, calm down, the story won't just turn into Naruto randomly traveling everywhere. Probably next chapter, the one after that at worst, the genin-exams will be, and the teams will be made, at which point Naruto will not have that much time to travel around. He might do one or two, but those will have plot-reasons, mostly.
One more thing, some are suggesting Naruto to make Samehada-like weapons. Trust me, I have something planned that may go to that direction, and I promise it'll be amusing.
Now to the Q&A
Q: Why are the gods so interested in souls, and Naruto?
A: For one thing, gods draw a certain strength from those that believe in them. It's not vital to their existence, but it's pleasant. Also, gods are forbidden from directly interacting with the world of mortals, unless summoned, like Susanoo, Yama, and the Shinigami, so if they want to interact with the world, they need messengers, and while there are living believers, those don't always have the needed qualities, so the more souls one has in store, the more likely it is one can send the perfect messenger down to alter events the way one wants them to go. And no, souls can't be shared. They can be borrowed, but that's rarely done, as it would signify a personal lack to have to ask another god. Well, in Naruto's case there could be some arguing, but that's neither here nor there.
Q: With the Akatsuki good, won't there be a distinct lack of villains?
A: For one thing, good people can be misguided and deceived, and nobody said that Madara was good. Second, I did take that into consideration, and there will be other enemies, though I have to invent those. Ah, the burdens of being an author.
Q: How many puppets does Naruto have?
A: At the moment 13. His 10 'normal' human-puppets, the Hokages, and Hanzou. He might get more later, though.
Well, my AN is long enough, so I only have one more request: