I tried to get this chapter beta'd before I posted it, but my beta was being strangely lazy this weekend so I'm posting it because I said I would. I'll upload fixes later.

Age Sixteen, Part Three

One month later...

Kitsune woke slowly after feeling something shift next to her. As her eyes gradually opened, the redhead blinked a few times at the bright sunlight that was streaming in through the bedroom window. Turning her head to look at the clock nearby, she quickly noted the time before grumbling to herself upon realizing it was time to get up.

Even if the aspect of having to sleep was new to her, it was something that she was coming to enjoy greatly. Her new body always felt refreshed after sleeping, not to mention it was nice having a period of time during the day where she was not always having to be constantly aware of everything in her surroundings, even when meditating.

Twisting and rolling over to try to get out of the bed, she was stopped short by the feeling of an arm that was draped over her stomach. Looking over to the other side, she couldn't keep the beginnings of a grin off her face when she spotted to the sleeping visage of her favorite... fellow human.

The blond was still asleep and making a light snoring noise from right next to her. This was another one of the aforementioned things that the redhead had really started to enjoy about sleeping. Not only was it comfortable, but it was something she was able to do at the same time as Naruto. She didn't wear anything to bed other than an overly large T-shirt and undergarments. During the night her shirt often managed to get pulled up enough to where her skin would end up rubbing against Naruto's in some manner.

While she no longer got the intense tingles as she had finally gotten used to having sensitive nerves compared to her normal bijuu form, skin-on-skin contact was something she could admit to enjoying, but only if she felt like saying so. If asked why she liked it, it was impossible for her to think of an adequate response other than 'just because'.

Not to mention it was strangely... amusing... to keep Naruto guessing about her true thoughts.

Inhaling deeply, she carefully moved the blond's arm off of herself and back over to his body, only stopping briefly when he let out a snort and then muttered something unintelligible in his sleep. Going through her vocabulary and the context of the various words she knew, the redhead quickly applied the word 'cute' to the situation before leaning over to kiss the tip of his nose. It was something done on impulse, but she obtained further amusement upon watching as his face scrunched up briefly before evening out. Smiling openly now, she struggled to contain her emotions and giggles that wanted to burst forth as she watched him.

Shaking her head, Kitsune finished moving his arm back over to his own body and slowly climbed out of the comfortable bed. Tsunade had warned her during following check-ups that she'd probably find herself acting oddly from time to time, mostly because she would have to get used to dealing with... what was it called again? Oh yes, hormones. As a bijuu with no gender, she had never had any interest in men or women by definition, mostly because she had no interest in the knowledge of the process of reproduction. Based on observations she had made long ago, she knew how to get both men and women to bow to her whims, but the actions themselves meant nothing. She knew the biological processes, certainly... but the reasons behind copulation when one wasn't intending to reproduce?

She was clueless until about a month ago.

Gradually interacting with Naruto over the years had opened her eyes – literally – to the meanings behind some interactions, and what it meant to care about another being... any entity, be they human or one of her fellow bijuu. For a being that was originally created to only follow logic (or so she had believed in the beginning up until meeting Matatabi again) emotions were something that were intangible and had no meaning other than to apply a word to a situation. Hating someone or something was the first 'emotion' she had ever really known, if only because it was so prevalent everywhere she went. There was always one human that wanted to do something bad to another. Sometimes they didn't even have to really do anything, only act or talk like they did.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there was another emotion called love. Kitsune's biggest problem in coming to understand that emotion, at least from the perspective of a logical being, was that there weren't really any examples of 'love' that could be observed. The few times she had asked various humans she had talked to, the only explanation she got was that it was either used to express liking someone or something a lot, unconditionally even – or that you would just 'know'. To make it even more difficult, there were supposedly different kinds of love to boot.

In other words, love was the exact opposite of hatred. She had been going over these thoughts for days now, perhaps even longer, by wondering exactly what she thought and felt for the blond-haired young man she had been with. Kitsune knew that she at the very least liked him, as he had been the first to give her as close to true freedom as she could get, along with a declaration to protect her from those who would use her for their own selfish ends.

Was it more, though? There was one girl among their group, Hinata, who she knew claimed to love Naruto. It might be rude to ask her about why she felt that way, but the redhead knew from her casual get-togethers with Ino and the girls that they loved to gossip about these things. Perhaps some unobtrusive comments might help her get some better insight as to her own feelings.

Then there was also Sakura to deal with. While they had been cordial to each other, and maybe even bordering on being decent friends for the past couple months... she had seen the looks that the other girl favored Naruto with from time to time. Thinking about it made her bristle a little – after all the time Naruto had tried to get the girl's attention (she had even helped once!), it wasn't until now that the pink haired girl had decided to really notice him! Talk about aggravating.

Kitsune took a deep breath as she slowly wandered over to the bedroom window, gently pulling aside the curtain so that she could glance outside. Squinting as she adjusted to the bright morning sunlight, her bright red eyes slowly scanned the early-morning crowd as they walked to their destinations. The building where their new home was located on one of the main paths that they called the Southern Concourse. It went straight from the central administration area all the way to the south gate. There were similar paths to the north and east, though most of the northern one was still closed off because of some lingering reconstruction.

A slight rustling noise made her aware that Naruto was either awake or waking up. Briefly glancing over her shoulder, she observed as he managed to propel himself upright, then sit so his legs were off the side of the bed as he stretched. It wasn't until his bleary eyes settled on her that she shifted her gaze back to the window, once again roving over the buildings on the opposite side of the street.

A moment later, a slight weight settled on her shoulder. It was hard, slightly pointy, and a bit uncomfortable... so without looking she quickly deduced that it was his chin. She was proven correct when a moment later his deep morning-voice began to mumble next to her ear.



Naruto exhaled sharply, apparently amused at something if the vibrations of his chest against her back was any indication. "S'posed to say g'mornin when you jus' wake up."

"So you've said. Though how do you know if one morning is any better than the next? Why do you call it good?"

Naruto hummed for a second before lifting his chin and moving away from her. "I think it's more because," he stopped talking as she heard him yawn from behind her. "Because you want it to be a good morning, even if it isn't one yet."

"That makes no sense."

Naruto grunted. "'S too early t' think about it too much." Before she could say anything else, she heard the bathroom door click shut followed by the sound of running water.

Lips quirking up into a brief smile, Kitsune let her amusement show for a brief moment. She had found plenty of entertainment from Naruto in the mornings, at least when she awoke before he did. Another difference between her body and a normal human's that they had found out was that not only did she need minimal amounts of sleep to operate at peak condition, but when she woke from said sleep it only took her about thirty seconds to gain full cognitive function.

Someone like Naruto though, it usually took five minutes or more when he wasn't out of the village or on assignment. Even if he was the only one she regularly woke up around, it still seemed like that was a lot of time to waste on 'waking up'.

Releasing the drape and moving away from the window, she shifted back over to the dresser that had her clothes in it. There were still some things she kept within the seal, but it was mostly stuff she didn't want Naruto or anyone else seeing, at least not yet. It's not that they were secret, but... well, okay, they were. The magazines she had taken up reading had given her plenty of ideas, even if some of them seemed rather outlandish.

When asking about the validity of the magazines among her 'friends', Ino seemed very happy with her choice of reading material, while both Sakura and Tenten appeared more exasperated than anything else. Hinata, as usual, blushed fiercely but said nothing. She did get it confirmed from all of them, however, that while magazines claimed to be full of things like advice – it was very rarely proven advice.

That essentially meant she was on her own for figuring things out. Relationship advice was hard to come by as none of the others she regularly talked to had anyone that they were seeing – to the contrary they all seemed to be more interested in what she was (or wasn't) doing with Naruto as opposed to getting into a relationship of their own.

Kitsune had yet to say anything about her and Naruto, even to the boy himself. However judging by Hinata's declaration about a month ago and the way Sakura and other females were eyeing him now, she would have to soon. The only problem was that any time she even considered talking to Naruto about it, she began to sweat and feel uncomfortable... especially around her stomach. Shizune was the only one she had spoken to about it so far as she thought it was a medical issue, but the kunoichi had simply given her a comforting smile. Apparently even humanized bijuu could feel butterflies.

Her thoughts were interrupted as the door to the restroom opened and Naruto walked out, toweling his hair. Kitsune glanced at him momentarily, her eyes resting on the now always visible seal on his stomach before continuing to rifle through the dresser for her shinobi wear. Grabbing a set of the standard shinobi gear minus the vest, she tossed the clothing on the bed before grabbing her cloth binding wrap from the top of the dresser.

Gathering up her clothes from the bed and walking past the blond without a word, she headed for the bathroom to tape up her chest and get dressed, as she had already showered the night before. These were all things that were completely new to her, but it was almost as if she instinctually knew how to do them. That lent credence to what Matatabi had been telling her about how the bijuu were all human once. Kitsune's skepticism had been continuously dwindling as time went on, considering she was doing things for what she knew was the first time, but yet performed them so automatically as if she had known how to do them all along.

Taping up her chest like she was doing now, however, was an entirely new experience. She felt clothing in general was annoying, but when she went to spar with Naruto in her new body her chest (among other body parts) began to cause her a lot of pain. Not to mention that pain in general was a new experience for her altogether... at least to such an extreme amount. Sure, she felt pain as a bijuu, but it never felt anywhere near as intense as it did in human form. Perhaps because as a bijuu she was a being of complete chakra and all of her physical sensations were diluted. Everyone she talked to on a somewhat regular basis, including Tsunade, only had theories.

Reinforcing her body parts with chakra helped when sparring, but things like cuts from kunai still hurt like a bitch. The first cut she had received during training with Naruto had brought her to her knees, no matter that it had healed in less than a minute. It hurt like nothing she had ever experienced before. How Naruto or any shinobi managed to shrug them off she couldn't even begin to fathom, but like anything else it was something she was having to train herself to withstand or at least tolerate.

Kitsune looked at herself in the mirror as she tied her hair up in it's usual ponytail. It had actually grown faster than she thought it would, not that it was a problem for her. She had overheard Naruto talking with some of the other guys and he had mentioned that hair length didn't really matter to him, so she was going to let it grow out a little longer than the shoulder-length she had been keeping it at. It had already grown down to about her shoulder blades, and at that rate in another month it would be at mid-back.

After pulling on the dark blue shinobi pants and shirt, she left the restroom to see Naruto sitting on the bed, mostly dressed. He had on his orange pants and mesh shirt, but had forgone his jacket and instead had a dark blue shirt much like hers next to where he was sitting. Not saying a word, Kitsune moved over to her dresser once again, this time gathering up the cloth wrap for her right thigh that she attached her kunai pouch to.

"Are you ready for today?"

The redhead thought about it for a moment as she wrapped the white cloth around her leg. "I don't really know. I don't see why all this is necessary, honestly."

"Baa-chan didn't explain it? She usually likes to do stuff like that."

Kitsune turned her head towards Naruto and gave him a flat look, only to see him still sitting there looking bored as he scratched at his cheek with a finger.

"She did explain. I don't see why it's necessary. I was already doing D-Rank missions as a construct, but since I'm human now I need to be legitimately tested for rank placement."

If the blond was going to say anything in response it was cut off when there was a series of rapid knocks on their apartment door. With a grunt Naruto pushed himself off the bed and quickly padded over to answer it. Kitsune knew it was likely someone coming to tell them where to report to for her test, so she simply continued wrapping the cloth – this time around her other leg. She had just randomly discovered that she was completely proficient in using either hand and arm, and as a ninja being ambidextrous did have its perks. Wearing a weapon pouch on each leg allowed her to make full use of this particular ability.

Unfortunately, just because she was equally skilled with using both arms and hands didn't mean that her 'skills' were totally up to par. As a construct she didn't really need to do much manual calibration – she only had to think about doing it and her chakra did it for her. While she was still able to use her chakra to reinforce herself, she had no memories of how human anatomy and musculature worked. No one could deny that she was a quick study and picked up skills at an astounding rate (as if she had done all this before) but on an overall scale since becoming human she was only graded at peak chuunin level – or around the same area that a large majority of the shinobi population reached and never surpassed.

At least that was the case three weeks ago. Since then she had been training with Naruto and occasionally one of the others from his graduating class nonstop in an effort to... prove herself. Part of Kitsune was wondering how much of her efforts were to please herself, or to please Naruto. Or perhaps she just wanted acknowledgement in her own way from everyone in the village.

It was strange to think about, but she couldn't deny that she enjoyed the look of surprise on other's faces when she surpassed expectations.

Hearing the door close, the redhead looked up from attaching the final holster as Naruto returned to the room.


"We're to report to training ground thirteen in a half an hour."

Kitsune's head tilted to the side slightly, curious. Judging by the look on Naruto's face, his thoughts were running parallel with hers. "They really asked for both of us?"

The blond nodded, slowly.

"I thought I was the only one needing testing?"

"So did I. Apparently not, and Crane – the ANBU – didn't know either. They asked for both of us, so I guess I should get geared up as well."

"How long will it take you to get ready? I think we should be there early."

Naruto shrugged. "Five minutes?"

"Okay." Kitsune finished adjusting her outfit, giving herself one last look-over in the mirror. She didn't think of herself as vain, at least not when comparing herself to other females she knew... but damn if she didn't look good. "I'll meet you in the kitchen before we head out, I'm thirsty."

"You got it."

Twenty-eight minutes later...

"You're on time. That's a good sign."

Naruto and Kitsune came to a stop in front of a elderly man who had the right side of his head and arm wrapped up in bandages. On top of that, he was walking with a cane. Both of the new arrivals shared a look with each other before simultaneously looking at the other person standing nearby.

"I know you're wondering why I called for both of you to be here," Tsunade began. Gesturing at the bandaged man, she continued, "This man here is Shimura Danzo. He's worked a lot with my old sensei in the past, and is the only shinobi still alive that did training under the Nidaime Hokage. He offered to help test you both as he has some... unique talents that will test you in multiple ways." Even as the Hokage explained who the man was, her expression every time she glanced at the man could generally be described as... unkind.

"Ehh, baa-chan, that doesn't explain why I need to be here."

Momentarily focusing on the other blond, Tsunade closed her eyes for a brief moment and sighed. "As I was going to say, Naruto, you both will be working as or on a team most of the time. However there are rules that need to be followed. In order for me to let you both go off and not take a chunin team with you, you'll need to at least make Tokubetsu Jonin. It wasn't an issue before as Jiraiya was with you most of the time, but as he is now... indisposed... I can't let you go around without the proper support.

"Considering what I've seen from Naruto I'm already willing to promote him, so I'm here to observe how Kitsune shapes up. She already passes as far as chakra-reserves go, but I'll need to evaluate her combat ability before I'll consider allowing her to be your second, Naruto."

Kitsune nodded, as she had been practicing for this very reason. Tsunade simply asked for Naruto to come along so she could directly assess how the two of them worked together.

"As Kitsune is likely aware of the combat styles of most of your peers and that of their sensei, I have a limited pool of people I could pull from to properly test you. Danzo volunteered when he heard of my plight." Tsunade's eyes narrowed as she stared at the man next to her, but he was ignoring her in favor of keeping his visible eye closed as if in a meditative state.

"If there are no questions, I'll let Danzo get right to it. I'll simply be here in an observational capacity, and in case there are any injuries."

With a nod, Tsunade turned to level a brief, deadpan stare at the older man – only to still be ignored - before promptly walking towards the nearby tree line. When she was a few paces away, Danzo talked to them for the second time.

"My test will, for the most part, be focused on Kitsune as she is the one who needs more testing to prove she is capable. Naruto you will only intervene when it looks like she needs it. I won't give you any hints, so it will be up to you. Do it too soon, and it will reflect poorly on your judgement abilities. However, if you take too long it will do the same, plus Kitsune may suffer injury. Are you both prepared?"

Naruto looked over at Kitsune, but the redhead wasn't looking at him – she was glaring daggers at Danzo. Trying to figure out why she would be so angry already, the blond somehow managed to hold his tongue as he watched the older man in front of them slowly unwrap the bandage around the right side of his face, only to reveal a Sharingan eye of all things.

"W-Where did you get that eye from?" This time Naruto couldn't stop the question that immediately popped into his mind. Not only was he shocked, but he was also amazed that Tsunade knew and let him keep it, especially if he was willing to reveal it here.

Danzo, however, only continued looking at him impassively. "I'm a shinobi first and foremost. You don't believe I'm going to reveal the origins of this eye, do you? Have you ever asked Hatake Kakashi where he got his?"

Naruto considered tossing back a retort, while Kakashi had not explicitly stated as such he had said several times his old teammate was an Uchiha, and it didn't take much to connect the dots from that point. However, any comments he might have said were stopped as Kitsune launched a fireball at the aged man, forcing him to dodge and stopping any conversation.

Naruto had to squelch his first impulse, which was to immediately jump to Kitsunes defense. Worry started to pass over his features as Kitsune began launching fireball after fireball by flinging her hands in the directions that Danzo was moving... but she wasn't making hand signs. It might prove to be an interesting advantage in a real battle, but they were moving to slow to hit the surprisingly agile older man.

Not only that, but he passively wondered what kind of chakra drain that was. They hadn't tested to see if there was any limits to the chakra in her new body, though like him she had never shown any signs of being tired.

Once again he had to stop himself as Danzo finally got tired of dodging and finally sent a Great Breakthough at her. Normally a wind technique would simply add fuel to a fire technique, but his was on a level that completely overpowered her fireballs to the point where it simply extinguished them.

The blond had to brace himself as the technique impacted the ground nearby, throwing up dirt, grass, and rocks. A thick dust settled over the area for a moment before several of the larger chunks of rock on the ground began melting, turning into a glowing lava. They lurched forward once, then twice, before literally flying off the ground after that directly at where Danzo landed.

A stream of water erupted from Danzo's mouth, directly at the flying lava. A dense steam rapidly spread through the area surrounding the older man as the two connected, making Naruto wonder just what was going to happen next. He couldn't see through either of the people who were fighting, even though he could faintly sense that both of them hadn't moved another inch. Almost as if they were waiting for something.

The stalemate didn't last much longer, though, as several braces worth of kunai went flying out of both clouds at almost the exact time time. Amazingly virtually every kunai collided with each other in the air too, making sparks fly all over the place. So many of them were colliding it was hard to tell who was trying to attack and who was trying to defend, though perhaps both of them were doing it at the same time.

Finally, Kitsune came running out of the rapidly dispersing dust cloud that she had been standing in, moving swiftly towards Danzo in an attempt to engage him in taijutsu. This part Naruto was actually interested to see, as he had honestly not seen her fight with anyone other than himself, and wondered if he was the only one that had a hard time handling her.

Of course he had gained a bit of an advantage when she finally got a real body if only because she hadn't quite adjusted to ignoring pain, fatigue, and stress like he was able to yet. Honestly, Naruto wasn't sure if she'd ever have the tolerance he did, as there was still very little he understood about the body she had created.

Kitsune had to do a little bit of fancy footwork as some of the ground underneath her began to resemble what looked like quicksand, though she jumped in the air and did a speedy series of handeals. Lifting both index fingertips to her bottom lip, she blew out a steady stream of fire in a cone shape, literally glassing the sandy ground beneath her.

As she landed amongst the flickering flames, Danzo ran forward to meet her head on with a... sword? Naruto examined it carefully, noticing that the man had his cane in his other hand.

Oh. Oh. Clever.

Kitsune held two kunai of her own, one in each hand that she held scissor-style to keep Danzo's blade from moving forward as they made contact. A few loud clangs, plus the sound of metal-on-metal made Naruto wince a little. Their quick clashes looked brutal and he could see the effort on the redhead's face as she struggled to stop the attacks and find openings of her own.

He knew Kitsune was capable of using a blade, as she had used stick imitations often enough when sparring with him when they were still traveling. She hadn't since they returned, though, and he wasn't sure if there was a reason behind that or not.

A strong overhead swing made Kitsune lift both of her arms to block, which Danzo took full advantage of. Lashing out with a leg, he caught her in the midsection, making the redhead stumble and fall backwards as she dropped her kunai and held her abdomen.

Naruto was about to jump in and assist, though for some reason Danzo didn't move to make her yield, and instead appeared to wait for Kitsune to slowly make her way back to her feet. She scrambled for a moment to collect at least one of her kunai while the other held her stomach, but when she looked up at the older man her scrambling stopped and she instead continued to move at a much more sedate pace.

Collecting one of the dropped kunai, she slowly rose to her feet, and appeared to settle into a semi-ready stance. Strangely, though... she didn't move any further. Naruto simply stared on, confused, at least until the seal around his abdomen began heating up.

Curiousity changed into confusion as the seal continued getting warmer, meaning Kitsune was pulling on more and more chakra... though she wasn't really doing anything. Even Danzo had stopped, and had infact moved to an idle position, going so far as to put his sword.

Suddenly, it hit him. Kitsune only needed to pull upon the chakra still locked away in the seal when she didn't have enough in her own human body – and she had quite a lot of it. Since he couldn't see her doing anything, there was only one thing that could be happening.

Jumping forward, Naruto got between her and Danzo, then moved one of his hands forward to touch her cheek. She didn't register his movement, or his contact, which meant that it was as he feared. Sending a jolt of his own chakra into her, the redhead almost immediately let out a gasp before he noticed her eyes immediately focus on him.

At first, Kitsune had a look of rage, like she couldn't believe she had been caught in a genjutsu. But it quickly faded into a saddened, yet almost relieved look. She tilted her head further against Naruto's palm and took a step forward, so that her forehead rested against his chest.

"I believe that is the end of this little test?"

The blond held back from saying what was immediately on his mind. "Yes, I believe it is," he drawled out slowly instead. Since he noticed Tsunade was approaching quickly, he simply left it at that. Danzo said nothing either.

It didn't take long for Tsunade to reach them, and Naruto noted with no small amount of relief that she immediately begain pestering Danzo.

"It's over already? It hasn't even been ten minutes! What the hell did you do?"

Naruto wasn't facing them, as he was more concerned about Kitsune, who still wasn't moving or saying anything. Actually, she had moved close enough to press her entire torso against his at this point, and had even wrapped her arms around his waist.

It was very... unusual.

"I thought you were only going to use that eye to give her a good fight, not to place her in a genjutsu!"

"Tsunade-hime, genjutsu are part of a fight-"

"Not with the Sharingan, dammit! We went over this!"

The blond wasn't trying hard to listen in, after all the Hokage was almost shouting at this point. He was going to attempt to talk to Kitsune, but she seemed to be strangely content to just stand there holding him. Mentally shrugging he slowly worked his arms around her back as well, and once he had done so he felt her arms briefly tighten then relax against him. For all intents and purposes, she appeared to be calm and normal, though he couldn't see her face right now and he couldn't feel her heartbeat through the vests they both wore.

He didn't hear Tsunade say anything about dismissing Danzo, but he did hear her sigh and then the sound of grass crunching under her feet as she moved over to them. As she moved over into his line of sight it was obvious to see both the exasperation and worry on her features.

"Ugh, Danzo. I can't believe the nerve of that man. I'm sorry, both of you." Even though she had addressed it to both of them, her eyes were completely focused on the redhead.

"What was that all about anyway, baa-chan?"

Instead of getting angry at him for using the nickname, she crossed her arms and sighed, looking back off into the direction that Danzo had apparently left in.

"I don't know how exactly he heard about it, but he did know that I was going to test both of you. He appeared to be more interested in testing Kitsune though." She stopped for a moment to pinch the bridge of her nose as she shook her head.

"I should have known, but perhaps I really did want to believe that he had everyone's best interests at heart this time. There were others I could have pulled to test you both, but there are very few shinobi with Danzo's over all level of experience."

Naruto nodded slowly, not sure what else to say. He knew of Danzo, of course, but he didn't really know anything about the man other than he caused some people headaches. He was obviously skilled, and having the Sharingan only made him moreso.

A slight grimace passed over his face as he thought about the Sharingan. It was hard enough to fight against, but Kitsune had an inherent weakness against them. Since the only person he regularly encountered that had one was Kakashi, it wasn't something that he really thought about. That would have to change now though, since there were still non-friendly Sharingan out in the world to deal with.

Tsunade snapping her fingers in front of his face pulled him out of his thoughts.

"S-sorry, baa-chan, I was thinking about things."

The blonde woman snorted, and Naruto's eyes were drawn to where her glowing green hand was pressed against Kitsune's forehead.

"What's wrong?"

The Hokage shook her head, frowning. "I'm not one hundred percent sure, but she's minimally responsive right now. It looks like she has a surplus of chakra and it's wreaking havoc on her nervous system. In fact, based on what I can feel, her chakra seems to be focused around her stomach, where her seal is located. She's likely trying to subconsciously give it back to where it came from, but your seals aren't designed that way to the best of my knowledge."

"No, they aren't," Naruto agreed. "I might be able to work on something though."

"Good." Tsunade nodded and pulled her hand away. "If nothing else it would let you easily break any genjutsu in the future, especially if your own chakra could travel between the seals whenever necessary. For now though, she needs to release a lot of excess chakra. Normally I'd put her to sleep and let it burn off naturally, but there is too much and it may damage her body."

Naruto frowned as he glanced down his nose to look at the top of Kitsune's head. He had an idea since he was familiar with manipulating her chakra, but he didn't know how well it would work. There was only one way to find out...

"I need to check her seal. Can you make sure she doesn't fall over?"

One of Tsunade's eyebrows arched upwards, but she nodded slowly and moved over behind Kitsune, grabbing the woman's shoulders. When the Hokage had a decent grip, Naruto managed to pull himself out of Kitsune's grasp with only minor difficulty. The redhead was completely fixated on him, but only with her eyes. Her face was set in an expressionless mask, which was completely unusual for her – it made him slightly uncomfortable.

Her expression remained unchanged even after he unzipped her vest, and still as he crouched down and lifted up her shirt slightly so that he could examine the seal. Other than her hands shaking as they clenched and released, she hadn't uttered a single word. Now it was just making him unnerved – the Kitsune he knew would never let a moment like this pass either without letting loose. Not that she'd have let him get this far.

Tsunade spoke up again as she tried to watch from over Kitsune's shoulder. "What's your plan?"

Naruto tried to keep his eyes from roaming as he stared at the seal on the redhead's well-defined abdomen. "I'm just going to tweak the seal so I can pull her chakra from it. I think the best thing to do is to make a few Shadow Clones, since they'll quickly bring her chakra down to a manageable level."

He didn't listen to anything Tsunade might have said as a follow up as he focused intently on the seal, finding the exact spot he needed to tweak. Gently placing the tips of his forefinger, index finger, and thumb on her skin where the seal was located, he channeled a small amount of chakra into them and twitsted them clockwise.

The seal morphed slightly, and he became aware as the redhead let out a gasp. Her hands reached out to grab his shoulders, but Naruto focused and placed the palm of his hand in the middle of the design around her navel. Making a half-seal with his free hand, he concentrated on pulling chakra from her seal and performing a technique.

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

There was a flash of red from the seal, and Naruto felt a brief feeling of fire traveling through his veins. There were numerous flashes of smoke in the area immediately surrounding the three of them, and the blond couldn't help but quirk his lips into a small smile.

"Well, I didn't know it would happen like that," he mumbled.

There were too many to get a quick count, but there were plenty of copies of Kitsune now standing there staring at the three of them. Most of them seemed to be a mix between amused and relieved, but a few were looking in the direction of their stomachs before looking back at him with an interested expression.

"Naruto..." he heard his name – it almost sounded as if it was an exasperated sigh – before looking back up at the original Kitsune. The moment he did so her hands went limp on his shoulders, and he tried to catch her as she toppled forward.

Luckily Tsunade still had a grip on the redhead's shoulders, therefore she didn't get very far before the Hokage lowered her slowly to the ground.

"Is she going to be okay?" There was no hiding the worry in his voice.

Instead of answering right away, Tsunade's hand was covered in greenish-hued chakra as she placed it against the other woman's forehead. Before long she moved it down over her heart, then her navel, before finally nodding.

"She'll be fine. Her chakra levels have normalized, though she'll be a little more worn out than usual because I don't think she's had that much chakra released from this body at once before. Has she ever used Shadow Clones before?"

Naruto looked at the clones around them, who seemed to be extremely interested at what was going on, before shaking his head. "Not that I know of, no."

"I see," Tsunade sighed briefly before checking over Kitsune one more time, then nodded and stood up from where she was crouched. "I suggest you take her home and make sure she gets plenty of rest. I'll see about getting some other jonin to test you two again, though just from the short time she actually got to fight I think she'd do fine under normal circumstances."

Naruto nodded at his boss before looking down at Kitsune, who was quietly resting. He began to shift his position so that he could pick her up and head back home, but stopped when a few throats nearby cleared themsevles.

Startled, he looked up again, only to see that he had quite a few clones of Kitsune who were still staring at him.

"You're leaving already?" asked one of the redheaded clones.

"We don't want you to leave so soon with the boss, Naruto-kun..." mumbled another.

A third clone either worked up it's nerve or simply decided to partake in different sorts of instincts, as it stepped up closer and lifted up the front of its shirt enough to let him see a replication of the seal on its abdomen. "I don't know about the others, but I still have tingles where you touched the boss," the copy purred.

Several others must have felt the same, as quite a few hands quickly moved to rest over their stomachs. A few others were making comments that he was half listening to, as he was a little too shocked to completely comprehend what was going on.

He didn't get long to think about it, however, as one of the clones leaned into his back, wrapping arms around his neck and resting its chin on his shoulder, lips near his ear.

"Naruto-kun, won't you play with us? The boss will be fine, we'll take care of her."

The blond felt blood rushing to his face. He couldn't help but wonder if Kitsune was normally like this and was just hiding it, or if her clones were just having fun at his expense. Most likely the latter.

He let out a chuckle before looking up at the clone who was still holding her shirt up a little. "So you all want to have fun?"

The clone that was hovering near his ear let out a moan, making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. The one in front of him simply nodded, trailing a finger from her free hand down the center of her stomach. Other clones were looking antsy, while others seemed to be having a hard time keeping themselves from simply jumping him.

He let out a small burst of his own chakra in a burst, making the clone that was holding him let out a little yelp and jump a step back. Before any other words were said he held his hands up together in a pose he could do in his sleep now if he had to.

"Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

The area was covered in smoke once again, only this time after it was blown away there were countless copies of himself spread out amongst those of Kitsune. There was silence in the area for a while before the noise started growing as they began talking to each other.

Finally, when there was a random shout of 'Rasengan!' from somewhere in the crowd, all hell broke loose. The real Naruto scrambled to pick up Kitsune and get them out of there before any stray techniques got too close. Of course that wasn't to say he didn't catch a few good eyefuls on the way out of that training area. He knew that his clones had somewhat reduced inhibitions since they knew they weren't real, but he hadn't fully thought about how it might affect Kitsune as well.

No matter. He'd get her home, then go take a very long cold shower. Then mentally psych himself up for when Kitsune invariably decided to beat him into a bloody paste. He was already getting some memories from a few dispelled clones and...

Oh man...

Completely, hopelessly, utterly... doomed.

Might seem a little shorter, but that's because he turns 17 soon and that chapter is already horrendously long.

I'll don't think I'll post review responses for this chapter since it was kinda short-ish (13 pages, just under 8k words). I'll do it for the next.

Otherwise the next update will be Fire Shadow, so stay tuned. After that, either another Experiments or perhaps from the challenge I've written from pokemaster12. I've got a lot written, just need to figure out how I want to go about this. Going to try to go back to weekly updates, but no promises! They always start out good before something invariably pops up that makes me start pulling my hair out.

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