Disclaimer: I most definitely do not own Naruto.
A few hours later, Naruto had finished setting up his new easel and the two canvases that he'd been unable to work on because of their size. Changing into his work clothes, he grabbed his paints, and then the blonde set to work on a new piece. Pausing only to turn on his stereo system, Naruto lost himself in his work. As his brush moved fluidly, the beginnings of a portrait began to take shape.
Hours later, Naruto let his brushes drop and stepped back to survey the work in front of him. Displayed on the canvas before him was an image of a gaunt young man with bright red hair. Shown from the chest up, he was wearing what seemed to be a heavy cloak emblazoned with red clouds. The background of the portrait was dark and dreary, but even more so was the expression on the young man's face. There was no trace of happiness or joy anywhere in the man's expression.
"It's a beautiful piece," came a soft voice from behind Naruto.
The blonde turned to face the doorway of his room to see Izumi smiling softly at him. Naruto, who's expression had slowly shifted to match that of the young man in the painting. Izumi quickly crossed the bedroom and wrapped her arms around her boyfriend's shoulders as he returned his attention to his completed work. Leaning in close, she spoke softly into Naruto's ear, "Can I ask what inspired you? I've never seen you do something this dark before."
"My cousin," Naruto said heavily, bowing his head. Izumi frowned slightly at Naruto's behavior. Releasing him, she pulled up another stool and sat down. Placing a delicate hand on the blonde's leg, she asked, "Did something happen to your cousin?"
Naruto sighed. Gently placing a hand over Izumi's, Naruto began his story. "When my cousin, Nagato, was a kid he was always kind of a loner. Really quiet, and only had two friends, Yahiko and Konan. Yahiko and Konan grew up in the neighborhood orphanage, but they were always welcome at my Aunt and Uncle's house. The three of them became inseparable, and it seemed like everything was going great. Then everything changed."
"What happened?" Izumi asked softly.
"Nagato's parents were murdered." Izumi gasped.
"Yeah, no one saw it coming. It happened the year after I was born. Nagato's parents were petitioning for their neighborhood to become its own town, but the mayor at the time, Shimura Danzo didn't like that. Nagato came home from school one day to find his parents bodies lying cold on the floor. After that, Nagato went to live at the orphanage with his friends. Life didn't get any easier, and a little more than a decade ago it got worse.
"Yahiko knew about Nagato's parent's work and decided to continue it. Yahiko was a good guy, but he wasn't really cut out for the peaceful discussions required to get it done. So the movement grew darker...and violent. Things came to a breaking point when Yahiko's group started rioting outside of the Mayor's office. The protestors were met by the police and pushed back, but something went wrong."
Naruto paused. Rising from his seat went to stand out the window. Rain had started to fall at some point, and Izumi could see a look of sheer pain on her boyfriend's face. He spoke again at a whisper, and she had to strain to hear it. "The Police Commissioner at the time, a man named Sanshouo Hanzo, used the confusion of the riot to shoot Yahiko. Luckily, he was caught immediately by the police officers and confessed to killing Nagato's parents as well. He gave up Danzo as the mastermind behind the murder's and that was it. It was over."
Naruto felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he smiled softly. "It wasn't all bad," he said finally. "Nagato and Konan realized how much they cared for each other. They got married a few months later, and they even named their son Yahiko. He got a happy ending in the end, but even that was short. Nagato got sick a few years later, there was nothing anyone could do for him."
"Naruto," Izumi said softly. "It must hurt, to think of what he went through."
"Yeah, it does a little, but it's okay. He may be gone, but the people who loved him are still here. I actually heard from Konan today, she wished me a happy birthday and told me to come by if I ever wanted art advice. It was nice to hear from her...and little Yahiko too."
"I'm glad to hear it," Izumi replied with a bright smile. Naruto smiled back and leaned in closer to her, wrapping his arms around her. "Now then," Izumi said suddenly, clapping her hands together. "You've got to get out of those painting clothes and get ready. You're spending the day with your Mother, and she invited me along. Now hop to it."
Favoring her with a mock salute, Naruto responded. "Yes Ma'am. I'll be ready in just a few minutes," he said with a smile.
Izumi smiled and slipped out of the room, taking a moment to glance at the painting one last time. It's a beautiful piece, she thought. And it means so much to him. I wonder if I can get him to do more pieces like it, it might help him open up more.
A short while later, Naruto exited the shower. As he started to get dressed he could hear Tsunade and Izumi conversing just down the hall. "So, you could have helped my boy 'clean up', why not jump at the chance?" Tsunade asked in a joking tone.
"How do you know I haven't already 'jumped at it'?" Izumi replied with a slight laugh. When her laughter died, she spoke again. "I really hope I'm not imposing on your day out with Naruto."
"Nonsense, this just means it'll be even more fun to embarrass him," Tsunade chuckled. "Plus, I get to interrogate you now."
Izumi shuddered slightly as Tsunade laughed. Deciding that his girlfriend had been tortured enough, Naruto stepped out into the hall and called out, "Don't worry Izumi, Mom's bark is a lot fiercer than her bite."
Naruto walked up to Izumi and put a hand gently on her shoulder and smiled. Leaning in close he whispered, "Though her bite is still pretty bad."
"Alright, enough of this joking around, it's time for lunch, come on brat, get your girlfriend and let's go," Tsunade declared.
Sighing, Naruto motioned towards the door and led the way out of the apartment. Locking the door behind themselves, the trio headed out for lunch.
As they approached the restaurant, Naruto's phone began to ring. Stopping outside the door to the restaurant, Naruto motioned for the two ladies to head in without him. They nodded and left Naruto to his phone call. Answering the call, Naruto held the phone up to his ear and said, "Hello."
"Naruto, it's Shizune. I need a favor," came the excited voice of his sister.
"Sure thing Sis, what do you need?"
"Can you keep Mom busy for a few hours?"
"She's already occupied, Izumi and I are having lunch with her. If you don't mind me asking, why do you need her occupied?"
"I just got out of a marathon surgery and the hospital gave me the rest of the day off."
"Wow, that must be rough. The guy pulled through though, right?"
"Yeah, he's going to be fine."
"That's good, but that doesn't explain why you need Mom kept busy."
"The man who I performed the surgery on is Anko's partner. She got the rest of the day off as well."
"Okay," Naruto said. "I can see where this is going. Don't worry, I'll keep Mom away so you can enjoy some hanky-panky with your girlfriend."
"Thanks little brother. You know, for someone who complains about Anko's blunt talk about our sex life, you're just as bad."
"Of course I am, it's my job as your brother. Have a nice time, I'll see you at home later."
After saying goodbye, Naruto hung up his phone and went inside. Spotting his mother across the restaurant, Naruto made his way over and took a seat. Picking up his menu, he began looking it over. A minute later, Tsunade asked him, "So, who was that on the phone?"
Casting a quick glance at Izumi, Naruto turned his attention to Tsunade and lied through his teeth. "It was Konan actually," he said.
Tsunade, skeptical of Naruto's claim, questioned him further. "So what did she want?"
"Nothing much really. She wanted to know how I was doing, how you and Shizune were doing. The usual stuff. Oh, she also wanted to know if I'd done any painting recently."
"Really? And what did you say?" Tsunade asked, drumming her fingers on the tabletop.
"That we were all doing good. That I'd finally gotten a girlfriend and that I'd introduce her soon, and that you'd been cutting back recently. All in all, everyone is in good health. I also told her that I did do a painting just this morning, and that I'd show her as soon as I was sure it was really done."
"That's great Naruto," belief seeping into her tone. "When are you going to see her then?"
"Not sure yet, I have to make sure the piece is really done."
"Alright then. Well I guess I'll wait till you're done then," she said with a smile. Turning to Izumi, the older woman asked, "So, what about you Izumi? What can you tell me about your family? I already know your brother's a jerk, but what about your parents?"
Izumi, who had just taken a sip from her glass of water, swallowed heavily and replaced the glass on the table. "My parents were good people. My father was always stern, but Mother was always so kind and gentle. It was hard after their accident, but I was able to go on."
Tsunade's smile slipped as she gently grasped Izumi's trembling hand. "I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't have brought it up."
Izumi gave a small sniffle, and smiled softly at her boyfriend's mother. "It's alright."
Tsunade matched the younger woman's smile, and patted the back of her hand. "Well, how about you tell me about your schooling? Can't open any old wounds with that," Tsunade said with a hoarse laugh.
"Alright then. I started with a business management degree because it was what my father wanted me to do. When I was old enough to start working I got a part-time job at a small restaurant waiting tables so I could start saving. When I finally graduated High school, I found out that my parents left Sasuke and I a sizable trust fund. I used that and my savings to pay for my bachelor's degree," Izumi explained.
"I have to admit, I'm impressed. It takes a lot to do that nowadays, my brat here doesn't impress me anymore," Tsunade scoffed, gesturing towards Naruto. "So, if you've got a bachelor's in business management, why are you going to art school?"
"It was always my dream as a child to be a painter some day. After I graduated I realized that the business world wasn't the right place for me, so I went back to school," Izumi said proudly.
"That's nice. So what are your plans for after college?" Tsunade asked.
"I hope to open my own gallery after I finish. There are many artists in the area that are undervalued and I wish to help them achieve the recognition they deserve," Izumi told them, ecstatic about sharing her dream with Naruto. "I already have a few artists in mind to showcase."
His curiosity peaked by this statement, Naruto could only ask, "Who?"
Izumi smiled brightly at this question. "Well, Katsu Deidara for starters, his clay work is so lifelike and astounding, not to mention his pyrotechnics. Akasuna Sasori is another, his puppets are so beautiful, they're almost ethereal. The exquisite craftsmanship is something that sets them apart. Also, if your cousin is as talented as you claim, I'd love to have Konan contribute. I'd also love to ask Tsuchi Kin from the music department to play every once in a while."
"Wow, those are some big names from the area, and I don't think any of them have ever really been shown in a gallery," Naruto replied, admiration clear in his voice. "But what about you? Would you show any of your work? I think your work is beautiful."
"Thank you Naruto," Izumi said with a blush. "And I would definitely show some of my work, but I'm wondering more about you. Would you show any of your work?"
"Well, I don't know. I don't think I'm really the type of artist you'd want to put in your gallery," Naruto replied tentatively.
"Bullshit!" Tsunade shouted, startling both artists, as well as the rest of the restaurant. "You're exactly the kind of artist she wants in her gallery."
"But-" Naruto began, but Tsunade cut him off.
"No buts," she said. Turning to Izumi she asked, "Did he ever show you the piece he did for my birthday last year?"
"No, he didn't."
"It was a beautiful piece. It was my grandfather and his brother, looking across a vast forest, stretching out to the horizon. The colors and the details were amazing, and he did it all from a tiny photo of them from when they were younger. It was the greatest thing I've ever seen."
Izumi was surprised by this. "Why didn't you ever show me?" she asked him.
"I've never been really confident in my work, but if you two both believe in me so much, then I'll make some work to show," Naruto said confidently.
Tsunade smiled. "Good," she said. "Now, Izumi, what's keeping you from opening this gallery?"
"Well, currently I don't have the funds to rent a space, or to pay for advertising. If I can't afford the basic things I definitely cannot afford to pay the artists," she explained.
"What about a loan?" Tsunade asked.
"I don't want to have to be in debt to start my dream, I'll end up being to worried about money instead of focusing on the art."
"What about Gaara and Hinata?" Naruto offered.
"What about them?" Tsunade shot back.
"Well, they're both great lovers of modern art, as well as local talent. They'd probably be willing to supply the startup capital. They both have their own massive fortunes."
"I'm still a little leery about borrowing money, especially from your friends. I don't want to take advantage of them," Izumi replied.
"They're your friends now too, Izumi. And it shouldn't be a problem if we can convince them to make it a donation instead of a loan. It shouldn't be too hard for Hinata and I to get Gaara to do it," Naruto said.
Tsunade shot him a skeptical look. "And how are you going to get him to do it?"
"Easy, just tell him it'll be good for his image."
"Naruto," Tsunade chastised her son.
"Relax, it's not a lie. It would do wonders for his image. Hinata tells me that most investors see him as cold and jaded. This would be perfect for warming him up, so to speak," Naruto explained.
"Also, he has the perfect piece of real estate right downtown. He owns the whole building it's in, so no need to worry if you ever want to expand, or the space isn't quite right. Please consider it Izumi," Naruto pleaded.
Izumi stared back at her boyfriend, weighing her options. While she wanted to open a gallery without any assistance, she knew that it would be years before she had enough money to even consider it. However, with Naruto's suggestion she would be able to start almost immediately. The temptation of having her dream within her grasp was too much, but she would have to get Naruto to do something for her though. "Alright Naruto," she said softly. "I'll ask him, but I have some conditions."
"You name it," the blonde replied ecstatically.
Izumi smiled mischievously. "First, you have to come with me when I speak to Gaara."
"That's easy, no problem."
"Second, you have to let me put some of your work in the gallery once I open."
"I suppose I should have seen that coming," Naruto said with a dry chuckle. "Alright, I'll do some stuff for your gallery."
"Nicely done girl, you've already got the brat wrapped around your finger," came Tsunade's laughing voice. So caught up in their discussion, the couple had almost forgotten she was there.
Naruto sighed. He was supposed to be enjoying lunch with his mother, but he had gotten so caught up in the idea of Izumi opening her gallery that he hadn't spoken much to her. Deciding to redirect the conversation, Naruto turned to the older blonde and asked, "So Mom, how's work been?"
Smiling at her adopted son, Tsunade just shrugged and said, "It's been good. Really busy in the ER lately so I haven't had as much time to enjoy myself, so I've been cutting back on sake."
"Really? That's good Mom, I'm proud of you," Naruto said with a bright smile.
"Oh shut up brat. I miss my sake. I know you and Shizune think I drink too much, but I've never had a real problem before," Tsunade told him with a stern visage. A moment later, her gaze softened and she spoke again. "Well, I guess you're right though, it is a good thing I've cut back somewhat. But I'm not quitting."
"I wouldn't expect you to, but I'm glad," Naruto replied. With that, the trio relaxed and fell into idle chit-chat.
Lunch for the trio lasted a few hours, turning into an early dinner in the process. Eventually, it was decided that they should head back to the apartment. As they left the restaurant, Naruto couldn't help but feel that he was forgetting something. Halfway back to the apartment, however, he remembered. Pulling his phone out, he quickly composed a text message to Shizune.
Can't stall Mom any longer. Coming home. Naruto.
Naruto waited a few minutes for a response, but none came. He hoped that Anko had already left or that they had migrated to Anko's apartment. As the came closer and closer to the apartment complex, Naruto decided to try Shizune again.
Entering the building now. If you're still there GET OUT NOW
When no response came to Naruto's second txt, he became increasingly worried. Deciding the best thing to do would be to lead Tsunade away for a little while longer he attempted to distract her. "Hey Mom, why don't we keep this little party going. We can go out somewhere else and you can catch up on all your missed sake. What do you say?"
Tsunade gave Naruto a confused look. "No Naruto, I'm kind of worn out, I think I should just sit down and rest."
Izumi watched as Naruto's expression grew more and more frantic. Deciding to see if he was alright, Izumi put a hand on the blonde's shoulder and asked, "Are you alright Naruto?"
Naruto stopped and looked at Izumi, trying to think of a response. His moment of hesitation sealed his fate. Tsunade continued on to the apartment and opened the door. The older blonde's shout snapped Naruto back to the present and he ran off after his mother, Izumi following in his wake.
As Tsunade stared at the wreckage of her family's apartment, she wondered what could have happened while they were gone. A cursory glance showed that nothing valuable was missing, further adding to her confusion. As Naruto came up behind her, the situation took a turn for the worse. A low moan sounded from deeper inside the apartment, from Shizune's room. Terrified that her daughter was hurt, Tsunade sprinted over, ignoring all of Naruto's warnings about taking caution.
Reaching her daughter's bedroom, Tsunade threw open the door and barged inside. What she saw stunned her into silence. Naruto appeared behind her in the doorway and saw what was happening. Shizune and Anko, naked, were locked in an intimate moment. Shizune's back was arched, he head thrown back, as she let loose another moan. Anko currently had her head buried between Shizune's legs, licking eagerly at her girlfriend's core. Frozen by the erotic spectacle before them, Naruto and Tsunade could do nothing but stare blankly at the two women on the bed.
Izumi, who had stumbled slightly on her way through the apartment, arrived a few moments after the two blondes. As she peered past Naruto into the room, she let loose a small shriek at what she saw. This was all the group need to snap back to reality. Aware that they now had an audience, Shizune and Anko quickly turned their attention to the door. Realizing that her mother had caught her, Shizune quickly reached for a blanket to cover herself as Anko rolled off of her onto the floor, using the bed as cover. Coming out of his stupor, Naruto quickly scanned the room and shifted his attention between his mother and sister, wondering what was going to happen next.
AN: I have absolutely no excuse. Nothing more than I just didn't feel like writing. If I hadn't sat down and said "It's time to get off your ass and write", I might have never finished this chapter. I know it's kinda short, but I intend to start working on the next chapter as soon as possible. I'll try to get it out sooner than I did this one, but I don't know if I'll get another out before the year ends. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this one and please remember to review.