A/N: If you attempted to hold your breath until this chapter came out, I apologize for any dizziness, lack of consciousness, anger, anxiety, or brain death you may experienced. I will warn you and say that the next chapter won't be out for a while, but it will be almost twice as long as this one. Enjoy.


Naruto Makaze: Birth of a Legend

Versus Hiruko Arc

Chapter 25: Naruto vs. Team Hiruko! Ready, Set, Go!

"Iron Sand: Iron Dome Jutsu!" Naruto called as a large dome of black sand surrounded him and the others. The raining feathers exploding as they landed on the sand and ground around them.

"Exploding feathers?! Who the hell are these guys?!" Kankuro asked.

"Hiruko's team." Naruto growled.

"So what's the plan?" Kurotsuchi questioned.

"I'll knock them out of the air. You guys be prepared." Naruto said, his Iron Sand receding into its seal.

Tayuya looked upwards, spotting the large bird in the sky, and frowned.

"Shithead they aren't exactly in jumping range." Tayuya said.

"Watch." Naruto said taking a powerful jump into the air and vanishing.

'Even with Swift Release, there's no way he can clear that jump.' Kurotsuchi thought.

Naruto appeared midway to the group before firing his tongue towards the bird. The two separate groups watched as his tongue wrapped around the beast's neck.

"He got it!" Kurotsuchi said.

'Every jutsu has its purpose.' Naruto thought before pulling himself towards the bird.

Tayuya shook her head. 'Only people like Orochi-teme and Shithead could make a jutsu like that useful…'

"I got him." Ni stated as she produced her whip.

Naruto saw her prepare to strike him and readied his sand. Seeing her whip coming for him, he protected himself, creating a hand of the black sand to protect him.

"That's new!" Ni stated before Naruto was in her face.

Naruto retracted his tongue, thrusting his hands in front of him. His gloves deteriorated into thousands of pieces of paper that fluttered around Naruto as he landed on the bird, holding a hand seal.

"Die brat!" Ichi shouted as the three jumped for Naruto.

"Gravity Seal Bomb!" Naruto called.

The bird began to descend rapidly, Team Hiruko falling behind it while Naruto kept his feet planted on the bird's back, holding his hand seal.

"Summoning Jutsu!" Ni shouted.

Naruto saw the large summoned lion-turtle above him, cursing his luck. Naruto released his hand seal and jumped off of the bird, the slips of paper following him as he descended. Using his Iron Sand, Naruto blanketed his impact on the ground. Naruto spotted Ichi running for him at great speeds.

"Wind Release: Sickle Weasel Technique!" Naruto heard Temari call.

A strong burst of wind knocked Ichi off course, giving Naruto a brief moment to gather himself. Seeing his chance, Naruto sped for Ichi, remembering the taijutsu prowess that the man had. Swift Release was the perfect counter for that.

"No you don't!" Ni yelled.

Naruto used his Swift Release in time before being hit by the blast of flames shot by Ni's lion-turtle. Naruto turned to glare at the woman, in time to see Kurotsuchi move for San. He grimaced at the though that Hiruko's Team must have grown in strength since last time.

But so has he.

XXX

Neji's body rolled on the ground before he quickly hopped into a three-point stance. Using his free hand, he wiped the blood from his lip.

'He truly is a prodigy…' Neji thought.

"Neji! Are you alright?" Asuma asked. Neji nodded and stood up. "He's holding back on you, which is good."

'He's holding back?!' Neji thought. 'Just how strong is this guy?!'

"I see that disabling him isn't going to work." Asuma said quietly.

"So what do we do?" Asuma looked at Neji solemly.

"Stop him by all means." Asuma answered. Neji flinched slightly. "A true shinobi must know when to let go of a falling comrade… A lesson my father died ignoring." Neji nodded. "Don't just hit for chakra points Neji. We have to stop him from getting to the valley."

"Hai." Neji said quietly.

Kakashi looked at his two opponents, quite tired. He could feel Hiruko's control growing stronger and soon he would not be able to restrain the blows he dealt towards Neji.

'Get out of my mind…' Kakashi thought, knowing Hiruko heard him.

'You're holding back on them.' Hiruko's response came. 'Time for me to take full control!'

Asuma frowned as he saw Kakashi slowly do hand seals. Kakashi's speed at making hand seals was at least five times the speed that he was doing them now. It was almost as if he was trying not to do hand seals.

"R-run…" Kakashi muttered out. Asuma and Neji glanced at one another. "Go!"

With that order, Kakashi revealed his signature technique, the Lightning Blade. Asuma took a subconscious step backwards while Neji focused on the technique. He had missed seeing Sasuke's Chidori at the Chunin Exams, but if he had to guess based on Tenten's description, this was ten-times that.

'Damn you fate…' Neji mentally cursed.

XXX

Shikamaru could feel his chakra depleting, yet he continued his journey through the trees with Kimimaro.

'Damn this guy still has a lot of chakra left.' Shikamaru thought. 'And I'd hate to see him use that seal.'

"Do you need to take a break?" Kimimaro asked Shikamaru.

"I'm fine." Shikamaru lied.

"No you're not." Kimamaro said stopping. "If you need to, take my soldier pill."

Shikamaru watched as Kimimaro held out the pill in the palm of his hand. He was not in desperate need of chakra, but he would probably reach his limit soon.

'This is such a drag… Taking help from a former enemy…' Shikamaru thought as he reached for the pill.

"Why do you have this?" Shikamaru asked, pausing before he took the soldier pill.

"During my recovery, Tsunade-san told me to take one a day to maintain proper chakra regulation and stamina. My illness still makes me weak at moments." Kimimaro explained.

Shikamaru frowned. "So you will need this?"

"If I've been considered useless to Orochimaru, then it doesn't matter if I survive this battle or not." Kimimaro answered.

"Troublesome… You sound just like Neji." Shikamaru said before taking and swallowing the pill. "All that nagging about fate and destiny is a real pain in the ass. I guess I'm the only real shinobi out here." Shikamaru remembered the things Asuma told him not to say and chose this very moment to say them. "You and Neji… You're both trash if you ask me."

Kimimaro's eyes hardened. "What did you say…?"

"You're trash, right? Once Orochimaru was done with you, he just disposed of you. Like trash." Shikamaru said before sighing. "I guess I should continue with the mission. As troublesome as it is, I am the only one that can stop this."

With that, Shikamaru continued for the valley hoping that Kimimaro did not do the alternative and kill him. Even with his restored chakra, he was still no match for Kimimaro. Thankfully, Kimimaro sped past him.

"We need to hurry." was all the last Kaguya said.

Shikamaru smirked. 'Checkmate.'

XXX

Naruto stood with Kurotsuchi, Tayuya, Kankuro, and Temari behind the two.

"So what's next? We can't get that bird down here again and they've all mixed with their summons." Kurotsuchi said.

"Stand back… I'll finish this on my own." Naruto said.

"What?!" Tayuya, who overhead him, snapped. "Shithead do you remember your battle with those two old fucks from Iwa? You were out for days!"

"I don't have much time to prepare for Hiruko and Nagato. I might as well get as much training as I can." Naruto responded. "So set a perimeter like we planned. Kuro-chan, if anything happens…"

"Just like before. I got you." Kurotsuchi said.

Tayuya frowned in confusion as she wondered what they were talking about. She pushed the thoughts away and moved to take position as she was instructed with Temari and Kankuro, Kurotsuchi standing a yard or two in front of them.

'Kyu-jii, are you ready?' Naruto asked as he closed his eyes.

'Destroy them.' the voice of the fox said.

Team Hiruko watched as Naruto began to channel some of the fox's chakra. Tayuya watched as well, feeling a small tingling sensation from her own seal. It was a different feeling from what she felt during his fight against Roshi and Han. Back then, the seal stung. Now it barely tingled.

'Only one of them is airborne. We can worry about him later.' Naruto thought as his eyes turned to Ichi. 'But the strongest one is ours.'

'Go then!' the beast told Naruto before the blond took off at amazing speeds towards Ichi.

Ichi smirked. "You think you can beat me? You're still a brat!"

Naruto growled. "Iron Sand: Iron Bullet Jutsu!"

Ichi was able to dodge the multitude of black spheres that came for him before blocking a punch thrown by Naruto. The two began a strictly taijutsu battle with Ichi doing more dodging and blocking than striking.

'The brat's been training I see.' Ichi admitted in his head.

San, who rode on his bird above the fight, saw an opening and ordered his summon to fire some of its exploding feathers towards Naruto. Ichi covered his face as the feathers seemingly hit their target, debris flying from the small explosions.

'Damn it Shithead! What the hell are you thinking?!' Tayuya thought angrily as she saw the feathers hit Naruto.

Or so she thought.

"Missed me." Ichi momentarily froze before Naruto knocked the man flat on his stomach. "This won't be like last time. That I promise."

'So, that earlier move was Swift Release. But it's different that Hiruko-sama's.' Ichi thought. 'It's almost… Perfected.' Ichi slowly stood up. 'We should've killed him when we had the chance.'

XXX

Flashback…

The young Naruto struggled to stand to his feet. Ichi, Ni, and San watched in amusement. The blond brat just didn't know how to stay down.

"Well, I'll give you this. You can take a beating." Ichi said.

"Leave him." Hiruko said to his team as he appeared behind them. "I'll take care of him from here." Hiruko gave Naruto a thorough look. "Besides, none of you know potential when it's in front of you. Go!"

End Flashback…

XXX

Naruto rolled out of the way of the feathers that rained from the sky. His red eyes glared up at the man riding the bird overhead and growled deeply.

'How do we get him down?' Naruto asked his tenant.

'Worry about those on the ground first.' Naruto nodded at his instructions before spotting Nii preparing another blast of fire.

"Lightning Sealing Method: Byakurai!" Naruto called as his blast of white lightning met the flames from Ni's summoned lion-turtle.

Ichi, seeing Naruto distracted, moved towards the blond with a kunai in hand. He was expecting Naruto to dodge with Swift Release, unprepared for the black sand that wrapped around his body. Naruto's eyes cut towards Ichi, the man sweating a bit under the boy's gaze.

It reminded him of Hiruko's.

Naruto's attention was turned when feathers exploded around him.

'Kit, stay focused! Kill them already!'the Nine-tailed Fox shouted.

Tayuya grunted as she saw Naruto standing from the explosion.

"Hmph, to be so famous he sucks." Kankuro stated.

Kurotsuchi snorted. "You'd be surprised."

XXX

Flashback…

Kurotscuhi stared at the back of the masked-nin in front of her. While she would never openly tell anyone the tale of how some random blond shows up and defeats her using two techniques, she would forever remember her first run in with the Makaze no Naruto.

"So you're a jinchuriki?" Oddly enough, this was her first statement after her defeat. "That's why you're so feared? Because you house the Nine-tailed Demon Fox?" Naruto did not respond to Kurotsuchi's question. "Hey! Do you hear me?! Just because you won doesn't give you the right to ignore me!"

"You don't think I'm a demon?" Naruto finally voiced.

Kurotsuchi frowned. "What? Why would I think that?"

"…" There was silence before Naruto turned to her. "I knew there was a reason to keep you alive. You're a nice person, Kuro-chan." Kurotsuchi blinked. In all of her life, she had never been considered 'nice' by any standards. Hell, many students used to quietly talk about how rude she could be. "So I'm going to make you a promise."

"Tch, what good is a promise to me?" Kurotsuchi asked.

"Because I never go back on my word. That is my nindo." Naruto said. "And if I can somehow get this Deidara guy to you in one piece, alive, then I will. Only if you promise to give me the necessary information I need about Akatsuki. You did say that your grandpa used them, right?"

"Why would you promise that?" By now, Kurotsuchi was completely confused by this guy. Sure, he lived up to his hype with Swift Release, but he was much kinder to his opponents than many thought.

"Itachi…" Naruto began. "Itachi Uchiha, a man I'm sure you've heard stories about, gave me a similar deal. He would teach me things if I promised to look after someone special to him, his younger brother." Kurotsuchi's frown deepened. She thought Itachi killed all of the Uchiha. "So now I have no choice but to get stronger so people that want the 'last Uchiha' for the wrong reasons don't get him."

Kurotsuchi blinked. This guy, son of the cursed Fourth Hokage, student of the Toad Sage Jiraiya, and now also an apprentice of the Uchiha Prodigy Itachi, had offered to bring her Deidara alive for a simple trade of information? He was the freaking Makaze! He made a life of hunting people and sneaking into villages, Iwa being one of them! He could get this information on his own if he felt like it.

'Well,' Kurotsuchi thought. 'I really have nothing to lose.'

"Fine." Kurotsuchi replied.

Naruto grinned. "Thanks Kuro-chan."

"But don't call me that!" Kurotsuchi snapped.

"Why? It suits you well, Kuro-chan." Naruto replied with a smirk. "To quote my sensei, a face that beautiful-"

Kurotsuchi attempted to nail the blond with a blast of water, only for him to use Swift Release farther into the cave, his laughter echoing off of the walls.

'Makaze no Naruto… What a strange kid…' Kurotsuchi thought with a grin.

End Flashback…

XXX

Ni watched as Naruto come towards her at high speeds. While fused with her lion-turtle summon, she doubted that the blond could do but so much damage with strikes.

She was completely wrong.

"Take this!" Naruto called before landing a single punch on the woman that sent her fused body backwards. Shaking his right hand, Naruto smirked. "Damn, Baa-chan would've been proud of that one."

"Shithead!" Tayuya called.

Naruto's body remained motionless as Ichi ran to him. He attempted to grab his attacker with his Iron Sand again, but Ichi proved to be a quick learner, dodging the sand before it could grab him for a second time. Naruto turned with a fist arched, prepared to shatter Ichi's chin with one chakra-empowered blow. Ichi was able to dodge out of the way in time, but realized his mistake once Naruto's image shimmered out of existence.

'Swift Release!' he chastised himself before the blond appeared beneath him and landed an uppercut that sent him airborne.

Naruto crouched, preparing to leap after his target. His mind then landed on feathers coming for him again and he mentally cursed. That is until a large gust of wind pushed the feathers away from him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Temari standing with her fan opened.

'Guess I owe her one.' Naruto thought before leaping for Ichi. He could feel his body began to tingle as a smile came onto his face. 'Just as soon as I'm done with this guy!'

Tayuya watched Naruto's body disappear, he now using his Phantom Barrage technique. Her eyes stayed on Ichi's body as he was hit by the blur that was Naruto time and time again. Her eyes then caught the blond above Ichi's body before his foot came down on Ichi's face.

Hard.

"It's not my place to say," Kurotsuchi said to Kankuro. "But with his sensei, it would be hard for him to not be a great fighter."

"…" Kankuro said nothing as he watched Naruto.

"I'll give you this," Ichi's eyes widened at Naruto's words. "You sure can take a beating."

Before Ichi could respond, his body was wrapped by Naruto's Iron Sand once more.

"Iron Sand," Naruto said coldly. "Iron Casualty Prison!"

'One down.' Naruto thought.

'Three more to go.' Kyubi finished.

XXX

Shikamaru and Kimimaro took a small break, Kimimaro coughing lightly.

"Are you okay? We're not that far from our destination." Shikamaru said.

Kimimaro nodded. "I'm fine." Kimimaro then looked ahead. "Is this a suicide mission?"

"No. The Hokage just has some sort of soft spot for that troublesome blond Naruto." Shikamaru answered. "It's a drag, but we got chose to do it."

"Why?" Kimimaro's question caused Shikamaru to pause.

"Honestly, I don't know. But if I had to guess, we were the best ones for the job." Shikamaru said. "And like every mission, we must do what we can to complete it. That is what being a shinobi means."

Kimimaro nodded. "Hai." Kimimaro coughed lightly again, alerting Shikamaru. "Come… Come on. We should keep moving."

"Sure." Shikamaru said.

'The guy gives me his only means of survival and is now dying of some disease before we even get to fight.' Shikamaru thought before sighing. 'What a drag…'

XXX

Ni covered her face from the strong gust of wind, grunting a bit.

'Shit! This kid's tapped into the fox's chakra! He's stronger than he was before!' she thought before Naruto appeared in front of her with his fist cocked.

"Eat this!"

Ni's face was temporarily distorted when his fist met the side of her face. The large body of the lion-turtle that she was fused with rolled backwards, she able to land on her feet and slide backwards a few more feet.

'That guy is still stalking us from above.' Naruto commented towards the Kyubi. 'Any ideas on how to get him down here?'

'Byakurai.' Naruto grimaced at the thought of missing his attack, thus wasting chakra for no reason. 'Of course, with your aim, I doubt that you'll be able to pull it off.'

'My aim's better than yours!' Naruto argued. Naruto then snatched a scroll from off of his waist. 'Besides, I have a better idea.'

'Then why waste your time and ask me?' Kyubi growled.

Naruto smirked. 'Because you're easy to annoy, Kyu-jii.'

"Summoning Jutsu!" Naruto called.

'Summoning Jutsu?' Ni thought.

'The kid has a summon?' San questioned from above.

Naruto stood with Samekatta in his hands, his smirk still there.

"But before I get him," Naruto said aloud. "I need to get rid of her."

Tayuya watched Naruto get into a familiar stance.

"He's going to unseal it." she muttered quietly.

"It? What is 'it'?" Temari asked.

Tayuya ignored the blonde, further irritating Temari. Her eyes stayed focused on Naruto who had taken off for Ni again.

"You're finished!" Naruto called as the kanji symbol for 'Fire' appeared on his blade. "Fire Sealing Method: Backlash!"

'That's…' Kurotsuchi thought.

"Black fire…?" Kankuro questioned aloud.

"Amaterasu." Tayuya stated while crossing her arms. "Shithead somehow obtained it and sealed it with his sword. And with that, he's practically unstoppable."

A smirk came on Kurotsuchi's face. "He is, is he? Are you saying that because you have a thing for the guy that saved you, Tayuya-chan?"

"What the hell?!" Tayuay growled angrily. "Do I have to kick your ass again, you flat-chested whore?!"

"Flat-chested…" Kurotsuchi muttered beneath her breath, growing angrier every second.

The two girls were seconds from tearing each other apart when a flash of blond appeared between the two, Tayuya sent falling on her butt. Temari and Kankuro blinked at the sight of Naruto standing with two fingers stretched out after he had poked the redhead in the head.

"Manners, Tayuya-chan." Naruto stated. Naruto then turned to gaze at Kurotsuchi. "And don't pick. If you haven't noticed, but I'm in trouble. I can't fly."

Tayuya growled, hopping to her feet. "You…" Temari and Kankuro both stared in shock as Tayuya's words died as Naruto raised his index and middle fingers up to her face as if he was going to strike again, silencing the girl. "…Bastard…"

"So you want us to help you get up there?" Temari asked.

"Or him down here." Naruto said. "Any suggestions?"

"I could launch you up there," Kurotsuchi began. "But once you're in the air, that's it. If you miss, you miss."

"Shithead," Naruto glanced at Tayuya, who held her flute near her lips. "I got this. Just stop hitting me in the fucking forehead!"

Naruto smiled. "Sure, Tayuya-chan."

Tayuya grumbled beneath her breath before playing a tune on her flute. To those around her, nothing was happening, other than the sound echoing within the area. However, once they looked upwards, they could see San's bird twirling and spinning in mid-air.

'Heh, a genjutsu on the bird.' Naruto thought. 'I could've thought of that.'

'If only you knew genjutsu…' Kyubi added.

San's bird suddenly began a nosedive towards the ground. Naruto prepared his blade, giving Tayuya a small glance. Before anyone could question what the glance meant, he vanished with Swift Release.

"Swift Release: Swift Beheading!" was all that the group heard.

There was an eerie silence that followed before Naruto returned, Samekatta nowhere to be seen.

"More ninja are coming." he said. "Kankuro, Temari, Kuro-chan, can you guys lay out traps to give Tayuya and I time to reach the valley?"

"Are you sure it's safe to go with just Tayuya?" Kurotsuchi questioned.

Naruto took out a small scroll which soon grew into his large scroll. Opening it up, he laid it on the ground before slamming his left hand down on a seal. The group saw a thick puff of smoke surround the jinchuriki, each with their own questioning look. When the smoke cleared, Naruto stood in his black outfit, his mask covering the bottom half of his face.

Rolling his large scroll up and placing it on his back, Naruto stared off at the distance towards the Valley of the End.

"For the moment, I trust her the most. Given that two of you only want me to get your brother and you, Kuro-chan, may take me in for the prize itself, or even to your granddad, Tayuya has the least to gain should I lose to Hiruko." Naruto said in a calm voice.

Kurotsuchi frowned. "If that was my goal, I wouldn't have watched you destroy my group."

"I know. It's just a simple observation, Kuro-chan." Naruto said. "Besides, only Tayuya can complete me." The looks Naruto received caused him to quickly add to his statement. "I mean she knows genjutsu and the rest of you don't know it to her level!"

"Whatever." Kurotsuchi responded, turning her attention to Temari and Kankuro. "Alright you two, let's go ahead and get this done."

"Naruto, please make sure that Gaara is alright." Temari stated.

Naruto nodded before looking at Tayuya. Without a word, he quickly lifted bridal-style and took off with Swift Release. Temari, Kankuro, and Kurotsuchi took off as well, making sure to lay an elaborate maze of traps and bombs behind them.

XXX

Kimimaro and Shikamaru paused as they saw the end of the trees.

'This is it…' Shikamaru thought. 'Man, what a drag. Not only do I have to worry about Naruto, but Kimimaro could either attack me or die from disease.'

Kimimaro coughed lightly. "We should probably wait for Asuma-san and the Hyuga to join us. I doubt that we'd be able to overcome Hiruko by ourselves."

"Do you have another soldier pill?" Shikamaru questioned.

"I'll be fine." replied Kimimaro.

"Sure…" Shikamaru responded.

'This isn't good. If Kimimaro dies before we get back, Lady Hokage won't be please.' Shikamaru thought. 'But on the other hand, he couldn't betray us if he's dead…'

"I don't think your friends survived." Kimimaro stated.

Shikamaru frowned. "What are you talking about?"

"I've seen Kakashi-san at his best when we met at the Valley of the End," Kimimaro responded. "The chances of Asuma-san and the Hyuga defeating him are slim to none, especially while Kakashi is being wiped of all emotions." Shikamaru chewed the knowledge that Kimimaro was feeding him, going through every possible scenario. "He is ultimately a killing machine."

Figuring that Kimimaro had a point, Shikamaru only smirked.

"You have a lot to learn about the Will of Fire." Shikamaru said. "They'll find a way. Somehow."

Kimimaro did not argue. This belief that Shikamaru had had given Shikamaru confidence that a jonin and a genin could take out someone like Kakashi Hatake. Then again, there were rumors that Tayuya was alive and at Naruto's side. Anything was possible.

XXX

Naruto paused and looked down at the two lying bodies. He sat Tayuya down before checking the two.

"Asuma! Neji!" he called.

Asuma eyed Naruto. 'What timing…'

"What the hell happened to you two?" Naruto asked Asuma, realizing that Neji was knocked-out cold.

"Kakashi…" Naruto tilted his head in confusion before Asuma continued. "Hiruko… Mind control…"

"…" Naruto stood quietly before opening his large scroll. "I probably should've guessed that."

"What are you going to do?" Asuma asked.

"I'm going to fight Hiruko." Naruto said drawing a seal. "That will at least stop this little fox hunt that the other villages have on me."

Asuma inhaled deeply. "Someone who can control Kakashi won't be easy. I doubt that you could even put a scratch on him."

Tayuya snorted. "Yeah right. Shithead maybe a complete dumbass, but he isn't completely worthless. Even if he did get his ass kicked by an old man and some fucker in a steam suit."

"This is no time for joking! This guy has complete control over one of-"

"My friend and he is holding him hostage." Naruto interrupted Asuma. "Which is why I won't lose against Hiruko. Gaara's life is on the line."

Asuma said nothing as he watched Naruto summon a few paper tags, brush, and ink. He watched the blond work before setting the four paper tags a few feet away from Asuma and Neji's position.

"Come on Tayuya." Asuma was quite surprised when the redhead moved when Naruto had said so. "This will only last for an hour or two. Hopefully my friends will be here before then to assist you."

"Why are you helping us?" Asuma asked.

"It just so happens that we have a common enemy." Naruto said. "Besides, Kurenai-sensei would kill me if I let you of all people die on my watch. So stay put." Naruto then looked at Tayuya. "Let's go."

With that, the blond and redhead quickly leapt off. Asuma sighed quietly, closing his eyes as he rested his head against the trunk of the tree.

'Maybe Kurenai is right. Maybe deep down, Naruto truly is nothing more than a hyper, knuckle-headed kid. A hero, but a kid indeed.' Asuma thought.

XXX

Tayuya eyed Naruto as they raced through the trees.

"What's wrong?" he asked her without even looking.

"…" she had remained silent about the subject for a while now but figured that now would be the perfect time to question it. "How do we kill Hiruko?"

Naruto realized that this was one of the few times Tayuya had not cursed, but pushed those thoughts aside as he heard how serious the question was.

"I don't know yet…" Naruto answered. "But I will find a way. I won't let anyone else get hurt by that bastard, believe it." Tayuya watched as Naruto looked at her. "And then we'll find Takuya's hideout. That is, unless you want to find it on your own."

Tayuya scoffed. "Right, so your fucking boyfriend can find me and kill me?" Naruto smirked beneat his mask and looked ahead of him. "But before that we're taking a fucking break! We've been fighting for days straight now!"

"Sure, sure, break first, Takuya second." Naruto said. "Anything else, Tayuya-chan?"

"Yeah," Tayuya said. "If you don't kick his ass, I'll use your corpse do it myself."

"I'll try to remember that." Naruto replied. "Now, pick up the speed. I don't want to be late for this meeting."

With that, the two sped up for the Valley of the End.

'Hiruko… This won't be last time.' Naruto thought. 'I won't fail in killing you this time!'

XXX

Hiruko inhaled deeply before smiling.

"Do you smell that, Shukaku? There are others here, waiting for you to kill them." Hiruko said before looking at the wrapped Gaara. "Or would you rather waste your time and attempt to break free of my hold?"

"That bastard's… Jinchuriki… Will…Kill you!" Hiruko only smirked before strengthening his technique.

"Your faith in my nephew is rather amusing. Considering that he has made you into the personal puppet of a kid no older than twelve." Hiruko stated.

Gaara's body jerked before the boy spoke again.

"What do you want with me?" Gaara asked in his normal monotone voice.

Hiruko raised a brow. 'He's fighting my control as well.'

"I want the only thing I can't possess through means of assimilation or my Dark Release." Hiruko answered. "The power of a biju. And what greater power to obtain than that of the Kyubi no Kitsune? Of course," Hiruko paused and looked at Gaara. "The Ichibi no Tanuki wouldn't be a total loss either."

Gaara bristled at the statement. "You want Shukaku?" Hiruko merely nodded. "You want to take on the burden of being a container? This curse that would make-"

"You and Naruto have the same, childish outlook on things." Hiruko interrupted. "How could containing a biju be a curse? The ability to defeat those that you wanted by merely drawing on a power that could shape mountains or form deserts in seconds."

"Since Naruto has strengthened my seal, I've learned quite a bit about Shukaku." Gaara said. "And if you want him…" Hiuko saw Gaara's eyes change. "Then that's too damn bad!"

Angered, Hiruko took complete control over Gaara's mind, making the boy shout in pain.

"I will become invincible one way or the other," Hiruko hissed. "And after destroying the world like it did Uzushio, I'll start anew."

Gaara could only glare at the man as he began to lose control over his body again. The last thing he heard before being completely controlled was Shukaku's voice muttering one sentence.

'Kurama better get here…'

XXX