So after the first chapter, I have got 6 reviews, 2 C2s, 23 Favorites, 31 alerts and 482 hits. I guess I have to be happy that people are paying attention to this story.
So without further ado, I give you chapter two. Enjoy.
Update 4/9/11 9:14 A.M. Oak Harbor, Washington State. I had just listened to Rebecca Black's "Friday." I now know what it means to be ear raped. First time I had also cried. Currently listening to "Hearts On Fire" from the Rocky IV soundtrack to forget.
Oh yes, I almost forgot. I don't own Naruto, or Shippuden, or anything that Masashi Kishimoto might cook up after Naruto.
"Something wrong, Gaki?" Jiraiya asked Naruto, as the blonde slurped up the last of the noodles from his bowl, and stared at the remaining broth. They were currently sitting at a quaint little ramen stand that was about a half day's walk from Takikagure. It had been three weeks after Jiraiya was introduced to Fu, and the toad sennin could not have been happier.
However, ever since their last visit almost a month ago, Naruto seemed to be very quiet. Whatever it was that had Naruto all tight lipped, it had affected his appetite for ramen. Apparently, it was that serious.
"Huh? Nothing, Ero-sennin."
Unfortunately, Jiraiya didn't see it that way. He was a stubborn brat, but at least he knew when to ask for help. This wasn't one of those moments, and Jiraiya was determined to help him see that it was.
"Come on, Gaki, what's wrong? I'm right here, you know."
Naruto looked up from the counter at the gama-sennin, before giving him a dirty look and getting up.
"Eh…I'm going for a walk. I'll see you back at the inn, ero-sennin."
With that, the blond walked off into the distance, leaving Jiraiya worried for his student. He frowned as he began to put his brain to work, trying to figure out what plagued the blond. His thought process was interrupted as a hand began to knock on the soft wood of the counter. Turning around in his seat, Jiraiya faced an employee of the stand who was holding a receipt in his hands. The employee stared at Jiraiya with half-lidded eyes.
"So… are you paying?"
Jiraiya slowly took the bill and began to read. When he read the final total, his jaw dropped to the floor, his eyes widened to dinner plates and his pupils shrunk to pinpoints. Then his hair covered his eyes while his entire body began to shiver. The hand holding the receipt crushed the piece of paper to a small ball.
All the employees of the stall shared a glance between each other, before pulling out earplugs from their pockets, stuffing them into their ears then running into the nearby pantry. Jiraiya, by this point, was now beginning to shake more violently, about ready to do his best impression of an erupting volcano.
However, at that moment, he began to breathe in and out, his anger seemingly beginning to cool. There were a few moments before the pantry opened, letting the staff walk out. With caution, they removed their earplugs and walked back to their stations. The staff member who gave Jiraiya the bill walked back to the counter and looked at the gama-sennin.
"So…will that be cash or tab?" The staff member then realized he made a mistake as Jiraiya glared at the man. One of the others caught the look.
"ICHIGO! YOU BA…!"
Naruto was calmly walking through the marketplace when he heard Jiraiya's angry yell. While everyone in the marketplace stopped and stared in the direction of the sound, Naruto simply chuckled as he walked around. That would teach the ero-baka for using his money for his sake and women binges.
Sitting down, his thoughts began to drift to the green haired girl that have been currently haunting his thoughts for the past month. He just didn't get it. Why did Fu even act the way she did?
"Naruto…" The blond looked up from his popsicle and over at his green-haired friend. Fu was simply watching the ice cream melt down the stick and her hand, letting drops of the dessert to fall down from the tree. Sensing her distress, Naruto finished his, then tossed the stick over his shoulder, before turning to Fu.
"Fu, you say something?" Naruto asked. Fu didn't even look in Naruto's direction, instead opting to let the ice cream stick drop from her hands and hug her knees to her chest, staring out into the village. Naruto was confused but continued to stare at Fu, hoping that she would give some answers.
"Naruto, you don't have to visit next month."
Naruto blinked, before asking.
Fu gave a hard glare at Naruto, who promptly back away.
Naruto didn't know why, but he felt a little miffed. Why was Fu now being so tight-lipped? Didn't she trust him? Wasn't he her friend?
Those were the questions that plagued the blond jinchuriki's mind as he walked to the hotel. His contemplative face unnerved everyone who walked past, used to his bright smile and cheerful disposition. As he passed a bench, he stopped and looked at it, before shrugging and sitting down. He was in no real hurry anyway. Besides, to him, figuring out the source of Fu's distress was much more important than waiting in an empty hotel room, only for a drunk Ero-sennin to walk in and collapse on the bed. But before he could apply himself to solving the mysteries that plagued him, a voice interrupted his thought process.
"Naruto-san! How are you?" Naruto turned his head to see a familiar chunin walk into view.
"Shibuki-san! Man, it's been a while."Shibuki smiled as he reached out and ruffled Naruto's hair.
"I know. How tall were you last time, like halfway my stomach?" A vein bulged on Naruto's forehead.
"Darn it, I was at least a head shorter. What about you? I'd say you're looking good, but those bags disagree." Naruto retorted. Shibuki sighed as he rubbed his eyes.
"Yes, well the paperwork seems to pile up so much, I have to pull a couple of all-nighters. Jiraiya-sama told you were very close with the sandaime hokage. Could you tell me how 'the Professor' did it?" Naruto blinked at him before scratching the back of his head and recalling his memories.
"Well, when I was little and Oiji-san took me out for ramen, he always left a clone behind to do the paperwork for him." At that revelation, Shibuki looked crestfallen.
"There does that idea. The only bushins I know are mizu. I can't risk getting the paper wet." Shibuki sighed as Naruto looked at him.
"Shibuki-san, maybe sometime later I could try teaching you the Kage Bushin." Shibuki now stared at Naruto.
"Naruto, the Kage Bushin is one of your village's forbidden jutsus. There's a reason why it was stuck in that scroll of yours. Don't worry, if anything, I at least appreciate the time I do get off." Shibuki said, waving Naruto off on his offer.
Naruto stared at Shibuki, until an idea struck him. "Shibuki-san!"
Shibuki turned to look at Naruto. "Yes, Naruto-san?"
"You know every ninja Taki's got, right?"
The brunette chunin leaned back, and put his hands behind his head.
"You're talking about Fu, right?"
Naruto's expression made him chuckle. "Relax, Naruto-san. Jiraiya-sama told me about the two of you."
The blond looked a little angry before calming down. "Shibuki, I don't know why, but Fu just told me to stay away next month. Do you know why?"
Shibuki stared at the blond and Naruto began to wonder f he had said something wrong. The chunin sighed, as if trying to collect his thoughts. "Naruto, I think you shouldn't visit next time. Next month is personal to Fu. Very personal."
Naruto began to protest. "But Shibuki-san!"
The hard stare that Shibuki sent him made him stop.
"Naruto, you don't understand. Next month…is sensitive to her. She doesn't exactly like others with her during that time."
Naruto chose that moment to interrupt, memories of his past beginning to rise up.
"But that's not right! I'm sure that maybe she would be willing to talk about it…"
Naruto looked up at the sad eyes of Shibuki, who was beginning to stand up.
"Naruto, she will never talk about it. And no one will even question her, not even me. Not even the leader of this village can help one kunonchi with her problems. It's times like this that remind me that while I have come far, I am still that scared chunin two years ago."
Naruto blinked as an uncomfortable silence was known. Finally, Shibuki decided to break it.
"Well, I better be going. I still have to finish that stack of paperwork on my desk. See you later, Naruto."
With that, Shibuki began to walk away. Naruto stared at the chunin's back, before sighing and beginning to walk back to the hotel. However, Shibuki's voice broke through.
Naruto turned around to see Shibuki looking in his direction.
"Promise me you won't abandon her. She's had too much."
Naruto didn't exactly know what Shibuki meant by that statement, but decided to comply anyway. Raising his thumb upward, he smiled and nodded before walking again.
Naruto, however, stopped his reminiscing as he heard someone yell.
Turning around, he saw a man a good head and a half taller than him, running towards him. He quickly reacted on his ninja reflexes and did the fastest and easiest thing he could think of: he stuck out his leg. The thief shouted in surprise as Naruto felt the man's weight on his leg. The thief could only wave his hands as his face hit the ground first, knocking him into unconsciousness.
The people stopped, as if trying to comprehend what they had just witnessed. Then each one silently passed Naruto as if he wasn't there, grabbed back the stuff the thief had stolen and made for their stall. The Kyuubi jinchuriki huffed at the lack of gratitude, before someone tapped him on the shoulder. Turning around, he saw one merchant had come up to him and was bowing to him, with his forehead on the ground.
"Thank you, kind boy, we all nearly feared he was going to get away. Oh, thank you, thank you." Naruto could only scratch his head in embarrassment.
"Eh, it's no problem. Glad I could help." The merchant shook his head, then mentioned to his stall, which was at least a few feet away.
"No no, please look at my wares. From what I have been taught, a stalwart boy like you should be properly rewarded." The merchant said with a smile. Naruto wanted to refuse the man, but something in his mind reminded him of one important fact: girls liked gifts, and Fu was no exception. Perhaps if he gave her a present, she might open up to him more. It was the perfect plan!
So Naruto smiled at the merchant and began to search the man's wares. The man's wares turned out to be mostly jewelry and other things that girls loved, but as he searched, Naruto began to frown. He didn't know why, but most of the items just didn't seem to be what he was looking for. Just as he was about to throw in the towel and tell the merchant, he caught something out of the corner of his eye. Quickly reaching out and grabbing it, he pulled it out and began to examine it.
Compared to the other hairclips, it didn't seem too impressive. It was a simple clip that slid the hair away from the eyes. However, what caught Naruto's interest was the color of the clip. Sure, at first, it was a cool shade of orange, but Naruto soon realized that the color changed, shifting from yellow to red just when the light hit it in just the right angle. To him, it was simple, but beautiful and exotic in its own right.
"Just like Fu…" Naruto blinked, wondering why he had just thought of Fu as exotic. Sure, he thought that she was undeniably pretty, but still she was his friend. He was pretty sure that you would have to be pretty big friends before asking out someone. As Naruto began to ramble on in his head, the merchant smiled and poked him in the shoulder. As Naruto shook out of his rambling and looked to the merchant, the merchant smiled and pointed to his cheeks. Naruto felt his cheeks and felt the heat of the blush that had been growing on his cheeks. In an effort to distract the merchant from his blush, he held up the hair clip.
"I'll take this one, please." The merchant took a look at it and frowned.
"You sure? I mean, I have more nicer ones than that." Naruto took a look at his and nodded.
"Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure Fu would like this one the best." The merchant's smile grew.
"Fu, huh? From what I can see, she must very down to earth. Heh, I envy you. Alright, run along." Naruto became confused at the man's statement.
"Wait, that's it? You're just letting me go with this? Why?" The merchant sighed as he pulled up a stool and sat on it.
"Because kid… you saw the need to involve yourself in something that didn't even affect you directly. To me, that said there's something about you. Something I think is disappearing from these lands."
"So what is it you saw?" The merchant smiled and poked at Naruto's heart.
"I think you already know. Just promise me one thing, and I'll let you go with the clip." Naruto nodded. "Promise me you won't let that quality die. Kami knows we need more boys like you."
As soon as Naruto bowed his head, the merchant smiled. "Alright, now get out of here, I got to close the stand."
Jiraiya groaned as he sat up in the bed. Quietly stretching and hearing the cricks in the back go away, he yawned as he stood up. Scratching his backside, he began to walk to the bathroom when a breeze passed through, giving him goose bumps and making him shiver. Turning around, Jiraiya saw that the window was open. Walking towards it, he was prepared to close it when his sleep-addled brain snapped to attention.
"Wait a minute…"
Turning his head, his eyes widened at seeing the empty bed that Naruto once occupied. He began to panic as images of Tsunade holding a bruised and beaten Jiraiya began to flood his mind. He would have taken his bathroom break right there if his brain, honed from countless years of noticing anything that can help him in his perverted endeavors, pointed out a few details that suggested otherwise from Jiraiya's original conclusion.
One, the hideous piece of fabric that gaki even had the nerve to call clothes was missing from the chair it was draped over. Two, he had installed a security seal on the outside the night before that would send an alarm loud enough to make him jump. And three, his wallet was sitting on the table, cleaned out, and with a note attached. Grabbing it, he flipped it over and began to read.
'Dear Ero-sennin, consider this payback for all the times you took my money.'
Jiraiya looked at his empty wallet, then felt fury enter his heart.
"Oh no he didn't!" With that, Jiraiya began to plot what he was going to do with Naruto as he began to dress up. "When I get my hands on him, I am tripling his training amount. After that, I'll toss him into a nearby hot spring filled with girls with nothing on but his boxers. Then after all that, I'm tying him to a tree and force him to watch his precious ramen burn!"
It took him a moment to realize that in the midst of his rage, he had walked all the way to the middle of the street. It also took him a moment to realize that everyone around was gagging, covering their noses, or just plain yelling at him to take a bath. Tentatively taking a whiff of himself, or more specifically his clothes, he gagged himself and began to run back to the hotel in mortification.
"Scratch that. Quadruple his training, lock the door, and use the ramen as a portable doggy bathroom."
Meanwhile, Naruto ignored the shiver that went up his spine as he navigated his way through the labyrinth of dimly lit tunnels that would lead him to Takikagure. At last, a familiar light shone at the end of the tunnel, illuminating Naruto's face. Quickening his pace, he came out at the end to be greeted by the sight of the village hidden beneath the waterfall. Naruto made a seal and was prepared to cast a henge over himself. However, at the last moment, something made him stop. How would it look if he tried to disguise himself to sneak in, hero or no hero? After breathing in heavily and composing himself mentally, he began to make his way to the village.
When he entered the village, he began to realize something was off. Many stores were closed. Many people were crowding around shrines, most of them on their knees, and with tears streaming down their faces. He passed through them all, until he got to the center of the city. There, one shrine caught his attention. It was like any other shrine that he had seen before in the village before today. However, two extra things caught his attention. The first was that the person being commemorated was obviously much loved, as the amount of flowers practically covered the shrine. Also, he recognized Shibuki kneeling in front of it, his head bowed to the floor.
Walking next to Shibuki, Naruto looked closely and saw that the village leaders had his eyes closed, as if in prayer. Looking around the shrine, he looked at the picture, the only place that was not covered in flowers. In it, he saw a young brown-haired boy who looked like Shibuki if he was younger. However, it was the old man who had Naruto's attention.
He wore very non-descript clothing, his hair was graying. But his posture and face showed him to be someone that the Sandaime would have liked to meet. In fact, the whole time he had been here, he couldn't help but feel a bit of déjà vu. It was that moment that Shibuki finished his prayers and opened his eyes, spotting Naruto standing next to him. Shibuki gasped before rising and grabbing Naruto's shoulders roughly.
"Naruto! What are you doing here?" Naruto flinched at Shibuki's harsh whisper and tone. But as he looked closer, he realized that underneath his angry façade, there was worry and a little bit of concern. Naruto soon snapped out of his reverie, seeing that Shibuki was still waiting for an answer.
"Uh, yeah…umm…you see" Unfortunately, the part of the brain that regulated his speech patterns didn't quite receive the message. Meanwhile, seeing the whisker-faced genin stumble over himself, Shibuki sighed and held up a hand. Naruto stopped making an embarrassment out of himself and looked at Shibuki, expecting a response.
"You're here because of Fu-chan, aren't you?" Naruto paused, opting to stare at the ground beneath his feet. Shibuki waited for a reaction, which he got in the form of Naruto's face becoming resolute and eyes dead set in determination. Shibuki actually had to mentally compose himself looking.
"Fu's my friend, and I will help her any way I can. Not because of my nindo, but because I can see. She needs it."
Shibuki stared at Naruto, for a moment, caught off guard by the forcefulness of Naruto's words. However, though Naruto's intentions were good, Shibuki knew that the orange clad genin knew a little bit of the picture. He could only imagine what could happen if that happened.
"I'm sorry, Naruto. However, I'm afraid that this is one problem that can't be solved." Shibuki said, hoping to soothe Naruto. However, little did Shibuki know that he had grossly miscalculated his words. At Shibuki's words, Naruto promptly exploded.
"What do you mean, can't be solved? Are you telling me that you gave up, and now you're telling me to give up? I can't do that!" Naruto swiftly turned around and began to walk away. However he was stopped by a hand grabbing his shoulder.
"Naruto…stop." Naruto frowned, before swatting the hand away and turning to glare at Shibuki. Naruto felt something akin to a fire beginning to surround his heart.
"Shibuki, if you're not willing to help, then leave it to me!" At that, something crashed into Naruto's cheek, and he had to take a step backward to prevent himself from falling.
"Naruto, you don't even know what's wrong and you decided to try to step in regardless?" Shibuki asked as he grabbed Naruto's shirt and pulled him close.
"Fu had to deal with this problem since she was born, Naruto. She had to deal with it all her life. And you have the audacity to think you can come in riding a white horse and simply solve all her problems?" Naruto blinked in confusion.
"What, no! I just wanted to help…" Shibuki set his eyes downwards and sighed.
"I know, Naruto." Suddenly, a non-descript jonin rushed into view, bowed and shouted with a hoarse voice.
Both Naruto and Shibuki turned to look. Shibuki dropped Naruto, who landed on his feet, and ran up to the jonin. Kneeling next to the man, Shibuki got him to look up.
"Ryo! What's happening?" The now named Ryo gasped before speaking.
"The Hero's Water! Someone has stolen at least half our supply." As soon as the Hero Water was mentioned, both Naruto and Shibuki gasped.
The Hero Water was essentially Takikagure's solution to not having a Kage. Produced every hundred years by the giant tree that hid the village, one drop could increase a ninja's chakra amount by an estimated amount of tenfold, at the cost of a few years of life. It was a very valuble commodity, especially considering Shibuki's uncle, the missing nin Suien, was willing to take hostages in exchange for it. At that, Shibuki shook the man.
"Are you sure?" Shibuki asked in a low voice, knowing the consequences of the Hero Water in the hands of someone willing to get with unsavory means.
"Yes, we even have witnesses who have seen the perpetrator." Ryo nodded. "… Midori Fu."
Naruto gasped while Shibuki's eyes widened to nearly showing the curvature.
"A-are you sure?" Ryo nodded. Shibuki didn't know what was going on. However, he was convinced of one thing: he had to make sure that Fu was alright. Turning to Ryo with his face set to village leader mode, he began to speak, a complete contrast to the double guesser that Naruto had met.
"Ryo, get every nin you can find and create a search party for the south. I'll create a search party for the north side, okay?"
Ryo saluted. "Yes sir."
With that, Ryo turned around and ran off. Shibuki was about to run off, but noticed Naruto running off. Looking between Naruto and the empty street, he groaned, before running off. He reasoned that Naruto could take care of himself, afterall he helped take down Suien after he had drank the Hero Water. Right?
Those two words was all that was on Naruto's as he absentmindly made his way to the only place Fu could possibly be. Those two words was the final piece of the puzzle. It all made sense.
People bowing in front of shrines, crying for loved ones past…Hard glares and words the only things that could see and hear…A girl about ready to jump…
"I'm tired…Tired of everyone treating me like a skeleton in the closet!"
"BAKA! Why didn't I see it earlier?" Naruto whispered to himself as he leaped to another building, leaving a trail of small wet spots behind him.
Up on top of her favorite branch, Fu sniffed, successfully holding back a sneeze as she watched over Takikagure. The village that she had sworn to protect until death. The village that was near the brink of death because of what she held. What she was.
On the day that Fu was born, Takikagure decided to expand its territory deeper into the alcove that it was situated in. Unfortunately, during their excavation, Taki came across the Nanabi no Kabutomushi, the seven winged beetle, which was in the throes of its hundred year nap. To add to the misfortune, the Nanabi turned out to be very cranky when its nap was interrupted.
What transpired that day was forever implanted into the minds of the people forever. Untold havoc and destruction, all because of what seemed to be such a trivial reason. Hundreds of families had lost someone to the rage of the Nanabi.
In the end, Fu was chosen to be the jinchuriki of the Nanabi, simply because she was the closest at hand. While the seal masters prepared the seal, all the remaining shinobi were called to lure the Nanabi to the place where the sealing was to take place. Everything was going smoothly, until the Nanabi got wise to their plan, and began to move in on the seal masters and Fu.
Shibuki's father was the only one that stood in the Nanabi's way, and was the only one who could have made the choice he did. In a moment of supreme sacrifice, he ingested such a large amount of Hero Water that his chakra reserves were near biju levels. The old village leader managed to keep the Nanabi back long enough for the seal masters to complete the seal and seal the biju in Fu. The fall of the Nanabi was soon followed by the fall of Shibuki's father, who collapsed and died mere moments later.
What happened in the following years could have been a parallel to Naruto's life with a few key differences. First, there was no Oiji-san, or really anyone in Fu's life that she could look up to. Immediately the day after the Nanabi's attack, Takikagure established a village council to deal with the problem of not having a village leader, until Shibuki was declared of age or showed able ability in leadership.
Part of the village council held grudges against Fu, having many different reasons, from losing family members to losing fortunes. They believe that since the Nanabi was sealed into Fu, she was the Nanabi and therefore, responsible for both the rampage on Takikagure and the death of Shibuki's father. The other part of the village council was more practical and knew that Fu was simply the jinchuriki of the Nanabi. However, that didn't stop them from being suspicious and viewing Fu from any signs of the Nanabi influencing her. In short, while they weren't enemies, they weren't friends either.
In terms of the whole village, most of the civilian population and a small amount of shinobi shared the sentiment that Fu was the Nanabi and treated her so: throwing out of stores, isolating her as much as they could, and on a few occasions, actually trying to kill her. Most of the shinobi population knew that Fu wasn't the Nanabi, but suspected that the Nanabi could have the power to influence her mind. They treated her less like a child and more akin to a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.
This left only a handful of civilians and shinobi that believed that Fu wasn't the Nanabi and could hold off the Nanabi's influence. This group also included a young Shibuki, who felt a certain kinship with the girl, who was similarly cast into a fate that she didn't want. However, this certain group also thought that Fu would be strong enough on her own, only stepping in when things went a little too far. Shibuki was prevented by council appointed tutors who disapproved of any relationship with Fu, and so the future village leader was left to support the jinchuriki from afar.
Another difference was that Naruto did anything and everything to attract attention, to unleash his feelings in pranks and jokes. Fu, on the other hand, chose to bottle up her feelings, and showed a strong face to show to her detractors that she was not cracking. However, while every glare and every harsh word seemed to have no effect on Fu, she felt it inwardly and constantly wondered to herself why she was the only one to receive this treatment.
Then, it all came to a head when in one such riot, bleeding and curled up into a ball, Fu asked why out loud. One such aggravator let out the secret, denouncing her as the Nanabi, simply bound in flesh. Afterwards, she asked one of the shinobi escorting her back home if she was the Nanabi. The shinobi disagreed, but the brusque delivery made her believe she was.
Eventually, she grew up believing that she was the Nanabi, not knowing what sepreated her from the Biju. She went into the Shinobi forces, believing that a demon like her would thrive in such a cruel and harsh system. She began to push away Shibuki and her benefactors, believing that she was getting ready for the day that she would be abandoned. However, while she appeared to be unaffected, she was reaching out on the inside.
Fu took a bite of her ice cream and sighed. She thought she was finally accepting her fate…that was until Naruto came.
When Naruto came, she was shocked. She had been on a mission out of the village so she missed Suien's invasion. But despite his strange choice of clothes as a shinobi (Orange? Really?) and even stranger mannerisms, everything just became simpler. To him, there was no boy and demon. There were simply two friends sitting in a tree, enjoying ice cream together.
She knew that it would be only a matter of time before Naruto would find out and in turn, abandon her too. However, she soon realized that she was fighting to protect her friendship: distracting Naruto, asking him to meet up only in the tree, taking the rooftops instead of the streets. As much as she couldn't pull Naruto closer to her, she found that she couldn't exert the effort to push him away.
She was about to finish her last bite, when an arrogant voice called out, making Fu look up into the branches.
"Well, lookee here boys. She was just about ready to eat her last bite!"
There standing with two nondescript shinobi was a copy of herself, a vicious smirk marring her normally calm face. Then she noticed what the copy had in her hands. Gasping, she threw away her ice cream stick and pointed at the copy.
"You! What are you doing with the Hero Water?" The fake Fu simply gave a more sinister smirk as she waved her finger disapprovingly.
"Wrong, what are you doing with the Hero Water, demon spawn? Us real Taki ninjas will bring you to justice!" With that, the fake Fu mentioned to the two grunts, which wordlessly disappeared and reappeared running around Fu. The teal haired kunoichi wondered what was going on up, until she began to feel her arms becoming more and restrained. Finally, when the two shinobi stopped, her entire upper body was covered in chains. The fake Fu laughed out before dispelling, revealing Ryo with a wide grin.
"Ha! What gives, Nanabi? I thought you had more fight in you than this."
Fu looked at Ryo, then at her two captors, who were holding the chains with smiles, having given themselves a pat on the back for capturing the Nanabi with their bare hands. Then with a silent grunt of effort, Fu broke the chains, sending the two shinobi off balance and wiping the grin off Ryo's face. Grabbing the two lengths of chains that the grunts were still holding on to, she gave a mighty tug, pulling them towards her in two separate directions. Then grabbing both their heads and ignoring their pleas, Fu smashed their heads to together, doing it soft enough only to crack their skulls. The two fell to opposite sides, leaving Fu to walk past them, cracking her knuckles. Ryo began to sweat as he fingered the container of Hero Water. Fu began to speak, no longer the double guessing teenage girl, but now a proud no-nonsense kunoichi of Takikagure.
"Yes, I do, and I'm afraid that as a duty of a Shinobi of Takikagure, it is my job to act as judge, jury and executor to traitors like you."
Meanwhile, Shibuki was looking through the city limits for the thief. After confirming that he or she wasn't in one area that he was looking, he began to look in another place, when a boisterous voice and hand greeted. "Shibuki-san! How are you!"
Quickly, the village leader removed the appendage, kicked the man in where he guessed was his nether regions, and leaped back in a more battle ready position. What he didn't expect to see was Jiraiya, one of the Sannin, holding his family jewels, cursing in a low breath. Immediately sorry for his actions, Shibuki helped Jiraiya to a rock to sit on.
"Sorry, Jiraiya-sama. It is just that Takikagure is currently on high alert." Shibuki offered as his excuse for kicking one of the most respected (and perverted) people in the Elemental Nations in the balls.
"How so?" Jiraiya managed to croak as he fought to keep the aching down to a minimal.
"Fu has just suspected of stealing the Hero Water. But I don't understand why she would?" Jiraiya thought hard before being reminded of something.
"You know, this happened before with Naruto. When he failed his graduation test came up, a teacher came up to him and gave him a "make up test" to steal the forbidden scroll of sealing. All it was that the teacher wanted was a stooge to take the blame." Suddenly Shibuki zeroed in as soon as he heard "take the blame."
"Take the blame? *Gasp* FU!" With that, Shibuki forgotten about the Toad Sannin and ran away, completely focused on getting any member of the search party he had and finding Fu. Jiraiya blinked, before rising up and hobbling after Shibuki.
"HEY! Wait for me!"
Ryo grunted as he ducked under one of Fu's monstrous haymakers, which broke off a part of the tree trunk. Rolling into a handstand, he drew a kunai out of his holster and tried to slash at Fu's face with it. He didn't feel the impact of steel dragging across flesh, but he suppressed a scream that threatened to come out. Fu had him by the wrist and was crushing it so much he dropped the kunai. Seeing Fu give an uncharacteristic smirk, Ryo felt his arm nearly come out of its socket as he approached Fu who was rearing back her fist.
Ducking under the blow that would have knocked his head off his shoulders, he grabbed Fu's other wrist and donkey kicked her back. Fu stumbled back and fell onto her hands, while Ryo jumped back and did a few hand seals.
"WATER REALEASE: WATER PALM WAVE!"
Ryo held out his palm and a geyser of water came out, engulfing Fu in its entirety and smacking against the trunk. He held the technique for a few more seconds before cutting off the chakra flow. Seeing the water recede, he grinned evilly expecting to see Fu slumped against the trunk. However, he was shocked to discover that there was only a fully drenched log.
Looking around him in an effort to spot the jinchuriki, Ryo soon noticed that his shadow was strangely becoming bigger. Reacting on his honed shinobi reflexes, he jumped to another branch in time to avoid Fu stomping on the spot he was. Unfortunately, the branch broke through, leaving Fu to fall through. Crash landing on a few branches, she was finally able to grab a branch with her hands and began to pull herself. Ryo, by this time, noticed her plight and leaped off the branch with a kunai.
Fu didn't even look relatively alarmed that Ryo was descending towards her with a kunai that could be used to stab through her forehead. Gripping the branch tightly, she placed her feet on the branch and pushed off, leaping off and breaking the branch off in the process. Ryo simply fell through the empty space, while Fu stuck to a nearby branch.
Zeroing in on Ryo, the muscles in her legs tightened as she prepared. Movement ripped through her legs as she pushed off the branch, tearing through the air as she rapidly approached Ryo. Ramming her shoulder into Ryo's midsection, the two slammed into another branch. The branch wobbled but otherwise held firm. When the smoke cleared, Fu blinked, expecting to have Ryo's throat under her hand. She gasped when she saw that she had only a log, and Ryo was behind her, already on the last hand seal.
"Eat this! WA-" Ryo's technique was interrupted when something slammed right into their cheek. Fu let out a breath that she realized she had been holding in, when suddenly she heard a chuckle and a little quip.
"I think this is what is called in the nick of time."
Naruto mentally sighed as he saw Ryo skid through across the length of the branch. After making sure that Ryo would be out for a while, he ran over to Fu and held out his hand. "Hey, you okay?"
Fu peeked up from behind the curtain that her hair created, her fists beginning to tremble. Naruto was oblivious to this, yet couldn't help but feel like something bad was going to happen. Then…
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!"
Naruto yelped as Fu rose up, a stern frown on her face. Naruto rubbed the back of his head. "What do you think? Helping you."
The answer that Naruto offered didn't pacify Fu in the least. "That's not what I meant. Why are you in Takikagure?" At Fu's relentless questioning, Naruto began to buckle under the pressure, and took a step back when something bumped against his foot. Quickly grabbing it, he held it out in front of Fu's face.
"Hey, look! We got the Hero's Water back!"
Fu stared at the container before a vein began to pulse.
"Darn it, Naruto. Don't try to change the subject!"
"But isn't this why we came up here anyway?"
Fu stared at the container, before sighing and taking the container. Turning around, she glanced back at Naruto.
"Stay here and guard Ryo. I'll take this back and clear up anything that Ryo was trying." With that curt reply, she went off. Naruto frowned.
"What was her problem?" He thought out loud. Little did he know that as she left and said those words, she was biting her lower lip. However, Naruto didn't have time to ponder the nature of Fu's attitude, as someone just performed a jutsu.
"WATER RELEASE: WATER TRUMPET!" Reacting, Naruto leaped away, avoiding a large jet of water that smashed into the spot that he used to occupy. Naruto landed on his side and rolled onto his hands. Straightening himself out, he stared at Ryo who was now surrounded by a blue aura. Recognizing the aura, Naruto gulped. "Uh oh."
Ryo smirked at the look on Naruto's face.
"To be honest, 'hero-sama', I never exactly believed that you actually helped defeat Suien. I actually thought that teammate of yours did all the hard work." Naruto flinched at the mention of Sasuke, but recovered his resolve and positioned his fingers into a familiar handsign.
"SHADOW CLONE JUTSU!"
Several idenitical copies of Narutos appeared. All drawing kunai, the orange mob ran straight at Ryo, hoping to overwhelm the Taki chunin with numbers. Unfortunately, Ryo already had a jutsu in mind for Naruto.
"WATER REALEASE: WATER PALM WAVE!" The jet of water that came out of his hand was concussive enough to dispel most of the mob. One Naruto was knocked back, completely waterlogged. Wiping excess water from his eyes, he made out the shape of Ryo walking towards him.
"See, without any help, you are just a child out of his league." However, before he could patronize Naruto further, he felt two feet kick his head, sending him stumbling forward. Naruto got up and threw a punch that sent Ryo stumbling back. Two orange clad arms wrapped themselves around Ryo's waist and held tightly. Ryo soon felt the sensation of being lifted into the air followed by the sensation of skull and neck landing not-so-softly against hard wood. While the clone finished the german suplex, Naruto spat out some water as he glared at Ryo's rising body.
"HEY! Don't think I'm going down easy just because you drank some fancy water!" Ryo groaned as he glared at Naruto's sky blue eyes.
Shibuki could only see the giant tree in his vision as he jumped from rooftop to rooftop. The rest of his party was actually struggling to keep up, but he paid them no mind. All that was on his mind was the teal haired kunoichi.
Suddenly, Fu appeared in front of Shibuki. The Taki village leader and his party skidded to a stop, wondering why the thief of the Hero Water just appeared in front of them. Noticing that everyone was staring at her, she did the sensible thing and saluted.
"Shibuki-sama, I presume that everyone at the storehouse is well." Fu said quietly and calmly. Shibuki began to speak, when one of the more rash members of his party pointed his finger at Fu.
"YEAH, NO THANKS TO YOU!" The man lowered his finger when both Fu and Shibuki stared hard at him. Shibuki, turning to Fu, held out his hand for the container. Fu, without a moment's hesitation, handed over the container. Quickly examining the container, he then turned to his party.
"Midori Fu is hereby exonerated of the charges that have been pressed against her. Go find any other ninja on the search party and tell them that the state of emergency has passed." The party nodded, knowing not to question their leader's orders unless their leader's abilities were called into question. Once they all disappeared in different directions, Shibuki turned to Fu.
"Do you know where the true perpetrators are?" Fu nodded.
"The true perpetrators: Nanagashi Ryo, and two others who had a shift guarding the storehouse, are currently under the center tree. Uzumaki Naruto currently has them in his custody." At this information, Shibuki nodded.
"I suppose then that we shouldn't keep him waiting." Suddenly, a boom directed both their attention to the tree, where a explosion of water was dying down only to be replaced by another one. As this spectacle continued, Fu looked to the container and realized that it looked a little emptier than she thought. Gasping in horror, she ran into the direction of the giant tree, leaving Shibuki to inhale dust as he tried to keep up with the jinchuriki.
Ryo cast another water jutsu, which hit a nearby branch and exploded in gush of H20. Naruto jumped out of the gush, clothes utterly and totally drenched. Ignoring the weight the jumpsuit now seemed to possess, he wiped excess water from his eyes, managing to see Ryo leaping towards him.
The whisker marked youth couldn't stop Ryo's fist from impacting against his stomach, sending the blond flying. However, Naruto managed to shift himself in midair and throw a handful of kunai at the jonin. Ryo smirked at the pathetic display of resistance before, and sent a pulse of chakra.
The kunai bounced off the chakra, and flew off into separate directions … before they exploded in puffs of smoke and revealed shadow clones. Throwing out handfuls of shuriken, the clones bounced off nearby branches and launched themselves at Ryo, screaming out battle cries.
Ryo growled at this oversight as he jumped, avoiding the shuriken as the metal stars embedded themselves into the wood. Looking around at the fast approaching clones, he propelled higher, making the clones headbutt each other and explode in clouds of smoke, obscuring the area.
Floating over the smokescreen, Ryo's eyes widened when something burst out of the smoke, hitting him under the chin and tipping him off balance. Opening his eyes, he shook his mind out of the stunned state it was in and blocked the ax kick that was coming towards him with his forearms.
Relishing Naruto's expression at his attack being blocked, he shifted his arms and threw the jinchuriki forward. Concentrating in his hand, he mentally called out his attack.
"Water Release: Water Whip!"
With that, water began to condense in his hand and gather, eventually taking the form of a whip composed of the liquid. Satisfied at the completion of the jutsu, he snapped the whip forward, the tail reaching and grabbing Naruto's ankle. Pulling the whip and feeling it become taut, Ryo grinned evilly before pulling the whip back and sending the blond hurtling towards the hard wood. Naruto only had time to cross his fingers and summon two shadow clones in front of him before collision, leaving the whole area obscured.
Ryo, deciding to finish the jinchuriki off, peered into the smoke to find his target. Then he saw a figure rising from the rubble, a hard find for anyone but a shinobi. Snapping his whip in that direction, he was pleased to feel his whip wrap around something. Pulling his whip in anticipation, his excitement was cut short when instead of an orange clad genin, a log sized piece of wood came flying at him.
Raising his forearms, he bore the brunt of the impact. As the splinters flew away, Ryo realized that the sun over him was becoming more obscured. Looking up, he had only time to see a flash of blue before Naruto's heel crashed into Ryo's skull, probably bruising it. He soon crashed into the branches, with Naruto landing next to the site, who was beginning to feel both the physical and mental fatigue of battle.
Suddenly, Ryo burst out of the rubble, nearly as if he was getting up from an enjoyable rest. He looked at himself and realized that the effects of the Hero's Water were beginning to wear off. Deciding to take the initiative, Ryo rushed Naruto with fist raised. Naruto managed to dodge Ryo's right roundhouse and left straight. Naruto telegraphed Ryo's rising knee, jumping in a split, before bringing his legs together and dropkicking Ryo in the face. Using the Jonin's face as a springboard, Naruto jumped off and landed on another branch.
Ryo groaned as he clutched his face and removed it, showing Naruto's kick had broken Ryo's orbital bone, causing the Jonin's nose to be a torrent of blood. Naruto's muscles tensed as Ryo's screamed in a roar of agony and ran towards him, his eyes betraying his intent to rend the blond to pieces.
Naruto responded by throwing some shuriken. Ryo growled as he leaned to the side, letting the shuriken hit the clone that was sneaking up behind him. Running back on course, he reared back his fist and tried to punch Naruto with it. Naruto blocked it, but failed to block the gut punch that left him out of breath. Breathing hard and rolling with it, Naruto got back up to his feet and wiped some blood from his mouth.
Going through another series of handseals, Ryo shouted."WATER REALEASE: TEARING TORRENT!" Water began to collect in Ryo's hand until it was the size of a basketball. Naruto took one look at the technique then began to laugh, trying to summon up some of his famous bravado.
"What's that? Are you thinking of throwing that?" Ryo simply smirked at Naruto's ignorance and threw the ball, which began to go faster than what a thrown object can go. Naruto's eyes widened. "Shoot!"
Just as the ball hit, Naruto jumped from the branch. However, his hand missed the branch he was aiming for. Flying through the air, Naruto grabbed a branch, but his grip was loose enough that he ended up falling onto a lower branch. He landed hard on it and fell off, landing butt first on a large branch. Lifting his left arm to help him up to his feet, pain surged up his arm. Gritting his teeth in pain to show Ryo that he was okay, he got up to his feet. Looking to his arm, he realized that his arm wasn't responding and was hanging limply by his side.
Ryo landed on the same branch and began to approach Naruto. The genin began to back away until his back touched the trunk. Ryo stopped, a whole two feet between the two.
"See, you're worthless without any help. What a fake." Naruto began to breathe hard. Then out of the corner of his eye, he saw a distinctive shade of green. Suppressing his grin, he began to inch toward the shade. Hoping to distract the jonin and weaken him, he decided on wordplay to distract the jonin.
"Why?" Ryo stopped, confusion lacing his face.
"What do you mean?" Naruto licked his lips. Here goes nothing.
"Why? Why did you try this?" Ryo blinked, before beginning to laugh. His laugh began to escalate, eventually becoming uncontrollable, as if the very words were the funniest thing Naruto had ever said. Ryo eventually calmed down, giving Naruto a smile that reminded him of Orochimaru.
"Why? Simple, to finally expel that demon whore from this village. She has lived among our kind for too long!" Ryo smiled, his plain visage now rendered twisted with rage and hate. Naruto in turn, fought to keep his ire and anger for the jonin in check.
"Demon whore? What are you talking about?"
Meanwhile, Fu had heard Naruto's inquiry and made a move to it. Shibuki just grabbed Fu's shoulder and shook his head. Fu just had to sit there and prepare for Naruto's rejection.
Back to the two shinobi, Naruto had to blink as he got a mind-numbing case of déjà vu, as Ryo began to regal him. "13 years ago, the Nanabi no Kabutomushi attacked Takikagure. Shibuki's father had to give his life to seal the demon. Whole families had lost someone. I lost my entire family to that monster. And yet, that demon whore, that Midori Fu, is still among us!"
Ryo turned his hand into a fist. "Don't you get it? Midori Fu is the Nanabi! She is only waiting for us to let down our guard so she could destroy us! So I implore you, Naruto! If you are truly the hero everyone claims is, help me finally wipe her off the face of the earth!"
Ryo was finally calming down while Naruto appeared to digest the information. Shibuki and a sad eyed Fu were ready to surprise the jonin since it was apparent that in his passion, the Hero Water wore off. However…
"You're right. Demons do think like that." At this, Ryo stopped breathing hard and stared hard at Naruto. Fu's eyes began to fill with tears, while Shibuki was shocked.
"Naruto…I-I thought you were better than that."
Meanwhile, Ryo was pleased that a very influential person was on his side. "I'm glad that you see it my way, Na-"
"But Fu is NOT the Nanabi." Those last words made everything stop. Ryo stumbled back in shock, Fu gasped in shock that someone was convinced that she wasn't a demon, and Shibuki was looking back and forth between Naruto and Fu in surprise.
"Fu could have destroyed this village, could have razed this place to the ground. But instead, she chose to find reasons to love and protect this place. To me, that tells me that Fu is not just a better ninja than you…" Naruto adjusted himself so that he was pointing at Ryo.
"SHE'S A BETTER HUMAN THAN YOU!" At this, Fu was now covering her mouth while tears were freely running down her face, while Ryo looked at Naruto with disbelief. Finally, his face shifted to neutral while he pulled out a kunai.
"I see what has happened. The demon has poisoned your mind. Don't worry, with this blade, I will bring you…" Ryo then began to rush forward with the kunai in hand. "RELEASE!"
Naruto covered his face and began to pray to every deity. Suddenly there was a giant impact then silence. Opening his eyes, he saw that Ryo was gone, along with a good chunk of the branch. Looking to the side, he saw a whole row of broken branches. Relieved that it was over, he began to slouch into a sitting position.
"Naruto." He gasped as Fu appeared, examining his arm. Naruto gulped, unsure of what to do next.
Fu simply grasped Naruto's arm and looked up at him. "Naruto, this will hurt." Before the genin could ask why, Fu popped the shoulder back into place, sending pain shooting up Naruto's nervous system. The Taki shinobi could only watch as Naruto endured Fu's impromptu treatment. After a while, the pain began to calm down and Naruto began to move his arm around.
"Well, thanks…I guess." An awkward silence ensued between the two of them, before Naruto broke the silence.
"So do you want some ice cream?"
Fu blinked as she sat next to Naruto. "No." Naruto sweatdropped and nodded, then began to curse himself for making an uncomfortable talk even more uncomfortable.
"Naruto…" Fu turned to him, with curiosity and hope in her eyes. "Did you really mean what you said back there?"
Naruto looked at her with incredulity, slightly affronted that she really didn't believe in him. "Of course, I do. You're my friend, no matter what other people say." Fu didn't look even the slightest bit relieved in Naruto's words.
"How do you know?" Though Fu was Naruto's friend, he was getting tired that Fu couldn't just accept that he accepted her.
"Fu, I'm telling you that I don't about what people say. I know that you are your own person. So why is it so hard to accept that?"
Fu finally snapped and gave hard eye contact. "Naruto, I've only known you for six months. The only times I see you are in this tree. How can you even think you know how I live?" Fu finally looked down toward her toes. "How are you so sure of who I am?"
Suddenly, she heard something unzipping. Looking up, she began to gain a slight red coloring to her cheeks. Despite a hardened kunoichi of a ninja village, she was still a 14 year old girl witnessing a boy unzipping his jacket and about ready to lift up his shirt. "Naruto, what are you…" Fu was interrupted by Naruto holding up his hand.
"Fu, let me show you why I believe." With that, he deftly lifted his shirt, revealing his secret to a kindred soul. At first, a fully blown blush bloomed on Fu's cheeks after seeing a boy shirtless. Then she noticed the seal on his stomach, which the sight made her lay a trembling hand on her own seal, positioned over her heart. Reaching out, she touched it gently, as if trying to confirm that what she was seeing was real and not a product of her hopes and possible delusions manifested.
Looking up into Naruto's sky blue eyes, she saw understanding and empathy. "I'm sure of you because I'm sure of me." With that, the final mental defense fell, and fourteen years full of tears came out, as Fu hugged Naruto's chest and dragged him down into a sitting position. Naruto didn't even mind, opting to hug her back as he rubbed her trembling shoulders, patiently waiting for her to run out of tears.
Meanwhile, Shibuki was quietly watching the scene before he heard rapid scribbling coming from beside him. Turning his head, he saw that Jiraiya was right there, noisily scrabbling into a notebook. He continued this until he realized that Shibuki was watching him. He quickly stopped his writing and put the notebook away, but not before Shibuki gained a furious look on his face.
"If you dare put them in your smut…" Jiraiya quickly waved his hands around in an attempt to placate the village leader.
"WHAT? No, I figured that the gaki would want to remember this moment, so I'm doing it for him." Shibuki didn't look at the least bit convinced at Jiraiya. Quickly, the toad sennin tried to change the subject.
"Still, you're surprised that Naruto managed to get Fu to open up." Shibuki nodded.
"True, and the way he did it was truly unexpected." Jiraiya chuckled.
"It's what he's good at." A comfortable silence reigned over the two, before Jiraiya turned to Shibuki.
"Also, Fu looks happy right now." Shibuki nodded. "Yes, it's clear that Naruto had now become one of the most important people in her life, so I can only imagine what she goes through every time he leaves."
Jiraiya pursed his lips. "You know, you could always…" Shibuki turned to Jiraiya and raised his eyebrow.
"Jiraiya-sama, you know how the village will react." But turning to both an exhausted Naruto and Fu huddled under Naruto's orange jacket, he smiled. "But right now, her happiness is what matters. I'll go see what I can do." With that, Shibuki was gone, disappearing in a shunshin.
Jiraiya looked back to the two sleeping jinchuriki and grinned. "Way to go, gaki."
However, little did the toad sennin know that above him, a head peeked out of a branch. It could have passed for a humanoid, but the venus trap-like protrusions and dual skin and eye colors gave its true nature. Watching the scene before him, he frowned.
"Well, this is…unexpected."
"Gee, ya think?"
"This should be reported to Sasori and Deidara. They are already making their way here."
So what do you think? Please review, because this has been the product borne over 2 months. In short, I'll be very displeased that only two people reviewed.