Chapter 21: Humanity
"Fairy Tail" Regular Speech
'Fairy Tail' Regular Thoughts
"Fairy Tail" Flashbacks
"Fairy Tail" Dragon/Demon/Monster Speech/Names of Spells
'Fairy Tail' Dragon/Demon/Monster thoughts
Fairy Tail- Stating of the year or a place
Summary: I was told I was alone...in a world where NAKAMA were every person's desire. Then HE found me, he said he saw great potential in my small body and he raised me. Because of him I lived...I learned...and I finally found someone I could call nakama. Even if he didn't call me the same. That is why I will do whatever I can to live up to his name. As the son and dragonslayer of the greatest being I have ever met. Acnologia, the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse.
Clover Town, Fiore, Year-X784
The sun shone brilliantly in the expanse of blue that was the sky, casting its golden rays down upon the populated town of Clover. The buildings were the same, the people were the same...nothing had changed. This would be considered a good thing in the minds of the two travelers that entered the town. The smells of the forest that wafted down from the nearby mountains mixed in with the air of the town and made the two bask in the afterglow of nostalgia.
Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze, son of the Wizard Saints Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki Namikaze, adopted son of Acnologia the Black Dragon of the Apocalypse and, secretly, the SS-Class criminal known as the Ogonno Fuujin, along with Kurama, Exceed of Edolas and, secretly, the SS-Class criminal known as the Onibi Myobu, walked past the people and buildings. Blue and red orbs scanned the area as they passed through and Naruto's normally neutral face, seemed to brighten and his lips strained as he finally formed the hidden smirk he had wanted to make.
Kurama laughed atop Naruto's head and patted the blonde's skull. "Seems like someone got happy, quickly." He commented. Naruto's slitted blue eyes glanced upwards at the fox costumed feline and he growled.
"I deny all claims to feeling petty emotions. I have released all emotional and sentimental attachment to this place and there is nothing here that can revert me back to...OOOOO RAMEN!" Naruto exclaimed as he sped forth and stopped straight in front of a ramen shop. Kurama sweatdropped at the blonde's personality switch.
'Well...that degenerated quickly.' He thought. He looked through the glass window of the shop and suddenly he noticed Naruto's eyes widened in surprise as he looked down. Following the blue eyed dragonslayer's gaze, Kurama's crimson orbs widened as well as he spotted the object that Naruto focused on.
She had long brown hair, but it was tied back into a short ponytail and the majority of what would be visible from a frontal point of view was obscured by the cream coloured cloth she wore over it. Her skin was a lovely tan colour and her chocolate brown eyes shone with life. She wore a long sleeved, cream coloured top and pants and had a white apron tied around her waist. Though her clothing was rather baggy, it did little to hide the hourglass figure she was sporting.
"Well, she's certainly grown up hasn't she?" Kurama commented with a chuckle. He received no response however as Naruto, as if caught in a trance, looked in awe at the woman he called his nee-chan. Ayame Ichiraku had grown up indeed. The blonde slowly walked towards the door of the ramen restaurant, Ichiraku Ramen, formerly known as Teuichi's Ramen. The door opened and Naruto looked around for a short while as he took in the sights and sounds of the quaint building.
Everything was exactly as it used to be. There were a few tables here and there, varying in size so as to accommodate for small to large parties. There was a sort of bar-like area as well, the place where Naruto had sat when he first came to the ramen making joint when he was six. His eyes widened when he noticed that the seat was actually open. Kurama moved to Naruto's lap as the blonde sat down on the bar stool.
Ayame had her back turned to the pair as she washed a few ramen bowls and Teuichi, the old ramen chef himself, was busy cooking the noodles and heating the broth. The old ramen chef was shown to look the same, though the increased amount of wrinkles on his face showed that time was not his friend. Aging seven years did not help the old man in terms of his age, but the man was cooking like he never aged a day, flipping cutlery and tossing bowls at Ayame with unseen accuracy and precision.
"One pork ramen, please." Naruto spoke. Ayame nodded, not looking behind her as she quickly picked up one of the already prepared bowls of pork ramen and rested it down in front of Naruto with a pleasant smile on her face.
"Here you go sir. Enjoy your meal." She spoke with her ever present tone of respect and kindness that she always showed to customers. Naruto nodded as he saw Ayame turn her back to him once more and he couldn't help but feel a pang of hurt.
"So she didn't recognize me after all." He sighed as he broke apart the chopsticks that were rested atop the bowl. "But I guess I cannot blame her. I have been gone for seven years in her time."
"Don't let it get to you, kit. She's working so she obviously can't spend too much time focusing on your appearance" The red eyed Exceed said to the Apocalypse Dragonslayer as he pointed to the brown haired girl. True, Ayame was furiously washing ramen bowls that were recently picked up as well as speeding in and out from behind the counter to deliver ordered meals.
The blonde dragonslayer did not respond and glanced down at the bowl of steaming hot noodles and broth before him. He snapped apart his chopsticks and he chuckled as he remembered the first time he used chopsticks. He thought it was accidental when the chopsticks broke apart only to be told that they were supposed to that by Ayame.
"Itadakimasu." He muttered before picking up a few noodles, a piece of egg and a single pork cutlet that were soaked in the broth. His dragonslayer senses were assaulted by the combination of smells and his nose felt as if it had died and gone to heaven.
"As usual, no one can compare to Ji-chan's ramen." The spiky haired blonde dug into his meal. Unlike the times in his youth, the blonde chose to savour the bowl of ramen before him and did not finish until a few minutes had passed.
"You slow down or what, kit? Normally you'd be able to down that thing in thirty seconds...twenty if you were trying." Kurama chuckled. Naruto slurped up the broth as he tilted the bowl to his lips and let out a sigh of content.
"And let my first bowl of ramen upon coming back end so quickly? I think not, Kurama." Naruto said. Naruto looked down at the ramen bowl and his lips tugged harshly as he tried to resist the urge to perform the facial expression, but he was denied that pleasure. The trademark foxy grin that he wore in his childhood broke out and his sharper than usual canines were visible to all.
Kurama looked at the blonde he called his partner and, not in public, friend. Though Naruto's eyes were a bright cerulean, they lacked the shine of emotion they used to have when he left the company of the humans he called nakama, such as Haku and Zabuza when he was sixteen. As a result, Kurama always used to comment that Naruto's eyes were always dull on the inside, no matter how bright they appeared to be. Of course, Naruto never really cared or paid attention to the feline's comments. However, looking at the young man now, Kurama could only laugh as he saw Naruto's eyes regain that shine of youth, his irises seeming to sparkle like sapphires. Having his humanity stripped from him at the physical age of thirteen, Naruto had been forcibly matured into his draconian nature and thus, his humanity was nothing more than a teenager. Thus, Kurama could only say that Naruto was truly a child at heart, no matter how he saw it.
The Exceed watched as Naruto then took a deep breath. Kurama watched with amusement as he quickly reclaimed his spot atop Naruto's head.
"OI JI-CHAAAN! GET ME ANOTHER RAMEN HERE!" He bellowed. The entire restaurant went silent as they watched the blonde with looks that showed if they wondered if the blonde was crazy. However, Ayame and Teuichi had different reactions. Teuichi turned with a furious look on his face, while Ayame had faced the source of the voice and immediately fell into a seemingly hypnotic trance, unmoving and her eyes unblinking.
"OI, WHO THE HELL SAID THAT?! I'M NOT THAT OLD AND I'M...I'M...I'm uh..." Teuichi fell silent. Both Ichiraku members froze as they looked at the source of the voice. Teuichi and Ayame stared at the spiky haired blonde who was currently wearing a confident smirk on his face and the kitsune costumed cat atop his head who grinned like a certain Cheshire cat from Wonderland.
"No...it can't be..." Ayame whispered and the bowl in her hands was lost from her lack of grip and it fell to the ground, but the sound of ceramic shattering on the wooden floor was not heard as a soft gust of wind flowed through the ramen shop and Naruto appeared in front of his brown haired friend with a toothy grin now present on his face.
"Oi, you nearly dropped this. Are you gonna really getting too old to handle holding up simple bowls in your hands? I bet Ji-chan could do it...neh, Ayame nee-chan?" Naruto said, his blue eyes glowing with mischief as he rested the bowl atop the counter. Ayame's breath hitched as she reached over to the whisker marked blonde and touched his cheek, hesitant in doing so.
"You're real?" She seemed to ask herself rather than the person in front of her. "You're real, so that means I'm not dreaming."
"I find it rather illogical to find that when reality is standing in your face that humans tend to refer to the situation being a dream." Naruto said with a confused tilt of his head
"Naruto-kun...is that...?" The older Ichiraku's voice question was never completed as he continued to stare in shock at the young man before him and his daughter.
"It's me. I'm really back...Ji-chan...Ayame nee-chan." Ayame's form trembled, her eyes hidden by the shadows of her hair and Naruto gained a confused look.
"Oi, Ayame. You gonna cry or something?" Kurama asked. Ayame's head snapped up and revealed her brown eyes were in fact lined with tears.
"Kurama too?" The feline grinned widely and nodded. After a small moment of her brain finally convincing her the situation before her was in fact real, Ayame leaped at Naruto and embraced the much taller boy in her arms.
"NARUTO-KUN...KURAMA!" She wrapped the two in as tight a hug as she could manage. Naruto's eyes widened and he flinched, his muscles contracting as he felt the woman's arms snake around his body, binding his arms to his sides. Naruto had willingly suppressed the urge to strike at Ayame when she had leaped at jumped atop Ayame's head and purred like the Exceed he was and licked the side of her face like a normal cat would do.
'A...hug?' Naruto thought. It had been years since he had acquired physical contact in the form of affection. The most recent form of physical contact he ever had was the punch to the chest from Gildarts Clive. 'She's...hugging me?' He then looked to see Ayame was now crying, tears of joy spilling from her eyes before planting her face back in Naruto's chest. The blonde dragonslayer felt his undershirt become wet from her tears.
"Naruto-kun, I thought we'd never see you again after you left all those years ago. I'm so glad you're back." She said, her voice slightly distorted due to the sobs she was holding back. Teuichi wiped away the stray tears that escaped his eyes. Ayame took a step back as her father walked towards the towering blonde.
"You've certainly grown up, Naruto. You're much taller now." He chuckled.
"Six feet and two inches, and I'm only twenty years old, Ji-chan. Tell people that ramen stunts growth to shove it." He joked. The three reunited humans and one Exceed laughed before it fell silent. Teuichi and Ayame gave Naruto a look of nostalgia and they hugged him once before letting go. "
It's so good to see you again." Naruto nodded and he clasped Teuichi's outstretched hand. "Firm grip too. You've really become a strong man haven't you?"
"I pride myself on my strength, Ji-chan." Naruto said with a tone of pride in his voice. Teuichi then looked at the clock on the wall of the restaurant and saw that it was about half an hour past noon, 12:30. He glanced around the ramen shop and saw that there wasn't many people left in the shop. Though, the customers were quick to catch the ramen chef's gaze and saw the look he was giving them when he saw that they were staring at the three of them.
Naruto was then gifted to a few free helpings of ramen, and by a few, that classified in the numbers that excelled beyond fifty.
"Even after so many years, you really haven't changed in terms of your stomach have you?"
"Ji-chan, I could eat one hundred of these and still come out looking like I am now. My metabolism is something people could only dream of having." Naruto stuck out his tongue playfully at the two Ichirakus. After downing the ramen bowls, Naruto created a few hand motions and a magic seal sprung up where his hands lay as he performed Seal Magic: Pocket Dimension. He opened the dimension and took out a small bag made of brown leather and removed a few of the gems he kept in the storage. Two sapphires, a ruby and a five pieces of silver.
As Naruto placed the bag back in the pocket dimension, he closed it and looked to see Teuichi and Ayame were staring at him in shock.
"Naruto-kun, I know you used to do magic when you were younger, but I thought you were a wind mage."
"One does not limit themselves to what they know, instead they must expand their repertoire and venture into the areas that which they do not know. I have followed that principle and thus I have expanded my usage of magic." Naruto explained. He then grabbed Teuichi's wrist and opened out his palm before resting the chosen precious stones and metals in it.
"That should cover it."
"More than enough. You know Naruto-kun, you don't have to pay...we are more than happy to treat you and Kurama to a free meal, to celebrate your return home." Ayame smiled at the blonde boy. Naruto's and Kurama's eyes widened at that.
"Home." The word rolled off their tongues as they said it. The Exceed and dragonslayer glanced at one another before turning as Teuichi laughed. He placed the payment back in Naruto's hands.
"Ayame-chan is right, Naruto. You have no need to pay..." He then snatched up the single ruby and pocketed it, "Though I'm going to need to pay my taxes, so I'll be keeping this one." His actions causing Naruto, Kurama and Ayame to sweatdrop.
"You're a hypocritical old man, you know that? Not to mention you serve this horrible piece of food. Ramen can kill you." Kurama deadpanned. Teuichi's eyes hardened as he picked up his spatula and slapped it against his hand.
"Do I need to remind you of what happened when you insulted my ramen?" The elder Ichiraku asked with a eerily sweet tone. Kurama's eyes widened as he ducked behind the blonde dragonslayer.
"NO, NOT THE SPATULA...ANYTHING BUT THE SPATULA!" Kurama exclaimed, peeking at the two ramen chefs. Teuichi chuckled as he rested the spatula down only to pick it back up quickly and jab it in Kurama's direction. The cat yowled and comically shot up to the ceiling and stuck upside down by his claws, fur and tail standing vertically upright through his fox themed costume and eyes shut tightly out of fear and surprise.
Naruto raised an eyebrow at the Exceed. Said Exceed caught the blue eyed blonde's gaze and saw the hidden smirk on his neutral face.
'Oh no.' Kurama thought.
'Blackmail material you mangy feline.' Naruto grinned mischievously at the red furred cat. Naruto stood up as he opened the pocket dimension and put away his payment as Kurama flew down from his perch on the ceiling.
"Very well, but if you will not accept payment in currency...then at least allow me to pay you back in terms of labour. I cannot let such hospitality go without repaying you both."
"Naruto, you don't have to do..." Ayame stopped when she saw Naruto's soft gaze, his dull blue eyes seeming to gain back their sapphire glow.
"Please, Ayame nee-chan, Ji-chan...it's the least I can do for all you've done for me. And I don't mean the ramen alone." Naruto then rolled back the sleeves of his undershirt and cloak and helped to quickly clean up the dishes that were in need of being washed and cleaned. After he did that, Kurama aided in drying them by placing his paws on the bowls so as to expel heat from them and evaporate the water. Once the ramen bowls were all cleaned, Naruto took his seat once more as Ayame and Teuichi leaned up against the wooden counter-top.
"So, Naruto my boy...when did you and this mangy furball get back?" Teuichi asked as he patted Kurama on the head. The fire manipulating cat hissed at the old man before crossing his forearms and pouted cutely like any two foot tall walking cat in a costume could.
"We arrived just a while ago, earlier today."
"What have you two been up to? I hope you weren't getting into any trouble. I don't want my little otouto bothering anyone." Ayame said with a smile, patting the blonde's head. Naruto and Kurama looked at one another, sweatdropping.
'We have to lie already?! That was fast.' Kurama thought.
"We just traveled." They responded simultaneously. They weren't lying...much. They just became ambiguous in their response. Naruto and Kurama explained of their travels to the other parts of Fiore, to Oshibana Town, Onibus Town, Tully Village and Freesia Town. Though they were both careful to lie expertly so as to cover the fact that they were actually labelled as SS-Class criminals by the Magic Council and what they had done, merely stating they had visited those towns as mere tourists.
"Do you plan on joining a guild, Naruto? I heard there are a few good ones around Fiore." Teuichi asked. Naruto's and Kurama's eyes hardened for a brief moment, but he hid it as his gaze returned to an indifferent one.
"We prefer to be independent. We do not wish to be a part of those little clubhouses. Too many restrictions." Kurama answered with a matter-of-fact tone.
"Well you and Naruto were always free spirits." Ayame giggled as she ruffled the taller boy's head of hair.
"So what types of magic do you use then? I remember when we were younger, when we first met...you were shown to be only capable of using Wind Magic, Fuuton, I think is what you called it." Naruto nodded in confirmation.
"Yes. Fuuton, Seal Magic and Energy Make." He said as he counted raised three fingers. "Yes, I am a badass. Bow to my badassary, mortals." Naruto spoke as his chest swelled with mock pride. Ayame and Teuichi laughed at the blonde man before them. As a period of silence washed over the four, Ayame's eyes narrowed in thought.
"Something bothering you, nee-chan?" Naruto asked with a childish tilt of his head. Ayame shook her head.
"No, not at all. I was just wondering if you came to see us first or if you had went to see the others before coming here." She replied. Naruto looked at the brown haired girl before looking down at the floor with a frown.
"Are...Are they still here in Clover Town?" He asked, a hopeful look in his eyes. Ayame ruffled the blonde's hair.
"Of course. Though, you'll be surprised to see how much they've changed Naruto-kun. Do you want me to take you to them, it's been seven years after all and you may need an escort." She joked.
"Pfft. I'm a grown ass man, Ayane nee-chan. I don't need an escort." He said sticking out his tongue in a childish manner. Kurama sweatdropped at his dragonslayer partner.
"Grown ass man, my ass. You should see how childish you are, brat."
"I can kill you just as easily as I've k-" Naruto paused in his speech, noting that he almost let slip that he killed people. He then snarled at Kurama, his dragon persona surfacing once more, "Just watch your tongue, cat before I pull out of your throat." He then felt movement towards him and he quickly yanked at the assaulting object and aimed his claws to shred it, only to paused when he saw it was just Ayame about to pat his face. His eyes widened and he quickly fought back the adrenalin rushing through his blood before shaking his head.
"Are you alright, otouto?" Ayame asked, concerned for her little brother figure's well being. Naruto nodded.
"Yeah, I'm just...sorry...I didn't hurt you did I?" Naruto asked. Ayame held her wrist when the whisker cheeked dragonslayer released it.
"Tou-san was right when he said you had a firm grip, Naruto-kun. It's alright though, but it's good to see you have such quick reflexes. You really have become a strong young man, Naruto-kun." She complimented him. Brown eyes played tricks on her as she stared at a six year old Naruto who was fussing about his first time eating ramen, only to blink and suddenly see the broad shouldered, tall man sitting before her. The blonde's pride grew at that, but he then winced as he felt his cheek being harshly pinched.
"But no matter how big you get, you're still my surrogate otouto. Now come on, I'll take you to the others." Ayame said as she walked out from behind the counter and grabbed Naruto's hand. The taller human was forcibly pulled from his seat before Ayame turned and waved to her father.
"I'll be back, Tou-san."
"No trouble, Ayame-chan. Just make sure to keep an eye on the boy. Kurama, make sure Ayame stays out of trouble...I'm not as young as I used to be."
"You're telling me." Kurama mumbled. He spent ninety years in a pocket dimension and now seven years in Earthland time. That's accumulated addition of ninety-seven years to his original age which was...Kurama's face scrunched up in thought as he scratched his head with a claw. 'I completely forgot how old I am. I know I'm well past four hundred years seeing as how I was born in Edolas long before Faust was king. Ah, never mind.' He scrapped the thought before sprouting his feathered wings via Aera Magic, and flew after Naruto and Ayame.
Streets of Clover Town, Fiore
"Hahahaha, really?! Kurama, you got your ass kicked by a squirrel?!" Ayame roared with laughter. Kurama hissed like the feline he was and turned away with a look of embarrassment.
"I didn't get my ass kicked by a squirrel. The thing just ran away and I just happened to wander back into the forest where the entire clan was. Damn acorns hurt like a bitch." Kurama whined as he nursed the invisible bumps on his head. Ayame's laughter increased as she rested her head on Naruto's shoulder.
"Oh dear Kami! You guys sounded like you had a lot of fun when you guys left. So, Kurama, Naruto-kun...did you meet any interesting people when you guys traveled through Fiore?"
"Well...we met quite a few people." The Exceed replied. Images of Zabuza and the other Dragonslayers and Exceed they met went through their minds. Ayame was about to ask about those people when froze up. A slapping sound met Naruto's and Kurama's enhanced hearing as they looked to see Ayame clutching her rear.
"Still sexy as ever, Ayame-chan!" The male said as he walked past the three. Naruto's eyes flickered to their shining white and his sharpened canines bared. He walked up to the man that dared to assault his sister figure, the man's back turned. Naruto reached out and his firm grip held fast on the man's shoulder before he was spun around.
"OI, WHAT THE FUCK?!" The man spoke. Naruto snarled as his fierce gaze bore into the man's soul, silencing him.
"Who the hell do you think you are?!" He roared.
"Don't touch me you little brat." The older man said. The man had dark brown hair and a bit of facial hair growing around his face. He was dressed in some rather fancy clothing consisting of a purple dress shirt, black pants and some leather shoes. A gold watch was worn on his wrist. The man's dark coloured eyes met Naruto's own cerulean ones with defiance. The man continued to stare at the blonde mage and suddenly Naruto's eyes widened as he recognized something familiar about him.
"You...there's something familiar about you." Ayame was about to intervene so as to pull Naruto away from the man he currently had a grip on, only for Naruto grab Ayame's wrist and push her gently back before gripping the man's collar that much harder.
"What the...who are..." The man was silenced as Naruto reared back his fist and punched the man hard in the face sending him straight into the ground. A powerful burst of pain racked through the man's body as he was left an imprint from the force with which he was struck with. He was about to rise up, only to have Naruto's boot slam down on top of his chest.
"I remember you, you little fucker. You're that Roy bastard that Ayame nee-chan wouldn't go out with and then you tried to beat me up before getting your ass kicked by me to vent. A task which you failed to carry out miserably." Naruto growled.
"Wait...you're that little brat from before?! YOU..." The man, now identified as Roy, didn't get to finish his outburst as Naruto overpowered him, both verbally and physically as the son of two Wizard Saints pushed his boot further down upon the man's chest, making it harder for him to breathe.
"YOU DARE TO TOUCH AYAME NEE-CHAN! I'LL KILL YOU!" Naruto roared as the wind picked up around him, his eyes blazing with fury. Naruto held up his hand and it began to glow blue as the core of a Rasengan began to take shape, but it quickly dispersed as his wrist was grabbed by the daughter of Teuichi and she looked at him with a look he had seen only when she disapproved of something he did.
He didn't like that look.
Naruto's gaze broke down and he released a sigh as the magic power he released calmed down. He took a deep breath before snapping his head back to Roy as he tried to pry Naruto's boot off of his chest.
"I'm no stranger to your type...human." Naruto whispered loud enough for only Roy to hear. "Do anything as idiotic as this ever again and you will find your body broken. You're lucky I'm in front of nee-chan else your head would be detached from your body." Naruto then stood back to his full height and took his boot off of Ayame's assailant before turning away and walking away with Ayame and Kurama on either side of him.
Roy groaned as he rose up from his imprint in the ground, gripping his paining back, but suddenly he felt a powerful force crash into him sending him skidding along the road and dirtying his clothes, ripping it in some places. He quickly snapped his head back and looked to see Naruto glancing back at him, a hand raised as he flipped him the bird. Roy's growl was halted in his throat and he gulped it back down as he saw Naruto's eyes change from blue to startling white. Roy quickly scrambled to his feet and took off. Bad enough he was beaten by the blonde when he was only six years old. Now that he was older and noticeably stronger, well let's just say Roy liked his body intact.
"That bastard, I swear if I see him again I'll..." The blonde paused as he felt Ayame grab his hand and squeezed it reassuringly.
"It's okay, Naruto-kun. It's okay, alright. I'm a big girl and I can handle myself. I don't need protecting, after all I'm supposed to be the older sibling in this relationship we have, neh?" She joked. Naruto's eyes narrowed at the brown haired girl, but he nodded.
"Fine, but next time he does anything like that I'm going to send Kurama to burn his flesh and bones to ash." He growled. Kurama nodded and backed up his partner's statement with a wisp of flame bursting forth from his paws. Ayame frowned as she noted the murderous looks on both males' faces before sighing as she slapped them both upside the head.
"What was that for?" They whined as they rubbed the assaulted parts of their skulls. Ayame put her hands on her hips and glared at the two menacingly.
"I don't like it when you two show such angry looks on your faces. Though your anger is understandable, like I said, I can take care of myself, Naruto-kun, Kurama. So the next time you show such looks again, I'm going to slap you again. Understood?" Naruto and Kurama flinched in when Ayame raised her hand.
"Understood?" She stated once more. The two SS-Class criminals nodded.
"Yes, Ayame-sama." They bowed to the female. The violent female ramen chef nodded before turning around.
"Good. Now come on, we have to get going."
"Oh, by the way, who are we going to see?" Kurama asked. Ayame smiled as she glanced back the two.
"For nostalgia's sake, I'll be taking you to see the others in the order you met them when you first came when you were six years old, Naruto-kun."
"Sakura-chan it is then." Naruto and Kurama spoke simultaneously. They followed Ayame through the streets of Clover Town before stopping at a three story building that was painted a dark shade of red with pink sakura blossom trees on either side of the entrance door. Above the door was a sign that said 'HARUNO'S'. It was straightforward, unlike certain stores that made up weird names for their brands, like a certain one in Oshibana Town that was called Lacy's. There was no one in the store called Lacy and the store's initial manager wasn't named Lacy either so the name made no sense to Naruto and Kurama.
Naruto, Ayame and Kurama entered through the main entrance and Naruto and Kurama released a duo of low whistles as they noticed just how large the building itself had gotten interior-wise. When Naruto was younger, the store was only two floors, one for the selling of clothing and the other was the living quarters for Sakura's parents and Sakura herself. Now though, it was revealed that the store was worthy of holding three stories as whole, large floors as revealed by the stariway that led to the upper levels were dedicated only to clothing.
Numerous amounts of people were scattered throughout the store, looking at clothes, buying clothes, navigating through the clothing aisles and there were even a few children who were hiding in the clothing racks as they played hide-and-seek. Childhood sure was a fun time. The sound of footsteps then reached Naruto's ears and he turned to see a five foot tall woman with long pink hair that reached to her midback. There were also single strands of silver scattered throughout her locks showing that she was not as old as she seemed. She had bright emerald green eyes and her skin was a light shade of peach. She wore a sleeveless red top with a white circle on the back of it and had on a pair of baggy black pants and black sandals. A tag on her left breast read Manager.
The woman smiled as she pushed back a few locks of hair behind her ears.
"Hello." She greeted him with a friendly wave. "I'm Seiko Haruno, manager of the establishment. How may I help you today, young man?" She asked politely. Naruto's blue eyes widened when he saw the woman who looked no older than thirty five (she was supposed to be forty-nine by his calculations).
"Seiko-san? Is that really you? Your hair shows time was not your friend, but your physical appearance denies that claim." Naruto stated with a shocked look on his face.
"Damn girl. You're workin' it." Kurama said as he slapped himself with a paw to make sure the woman he was seeing before him was real. Seiko's head tilted in confusion.
"While I am flattered by your compliments, I'm afraid I do not know you. Forgive me, I am not good with remembering faces. Should I know you?" She asked. Kurama and Naruto frowned deeply as the words of her not remembering them caused a small pang of hurt to form in their chests.
'What is this feeling? Why do I feel so...hurt by Seiko-san not remembering me? No, dragons do not let emotions burden them, but still...I...I can't help but feel.' Seiko gave a small apology however, she looked at Kurama and her eyes widened as she looked like something had been thrown at her and nailed her dead in the face. "Wait, you're a talking cat...with wings. I only know one member of that species and he looked just like you...but it's not possible."
"Oh it's them alright, Seiko-san." Ayame said as she stepped out from behind Naruto's taller frame. Seiko's eyes remained wide as she saw the old ramen chef's daughter.
"Ayame-chan. Please tell me I'm not dreaming."
"You're not dreaming. I could pinch you to confirm it."
"No, no need." She raised her hand before touching Kurama's costumed head. She then scratched behind his ears causing the red eyed feline to purr in ecstasy. "Kurama, is that really you?" Seiko asked. The Exceed nodded.
"Do you know any other sexy talking cat like me?" Kurama smirked. Seiko laughed at the kitsune costumed feline before shaking her head and hugging the feline into her chest, not that said feline was complaining.
"It's so good to see you. I've missed you and...wait, but if you're here then that means that you're-" She paused in her sentence when she looked up at the 6'2 tall blonde man before her. The physically twenty year old man's sapphire orbs stared down into her emerald ones and she reached a hand out and stroked the whisker marks on his cheeks. Feeling warm flesh, she concluded that this was no apparition brought about by senility, she wasn't even at the age where senility would occur anyway.
She then looked down from his face to his chest where the golden flame necklace she gave him for his twelfth birthday hung. Her eyes lined with more tears, but she held them back. Her hand covered her mouth as she did a sharp intake of breath.
"Seiko-san, a pleasure to see you again." He gave a small bow before breaking out into a large foxy grin. "Do you remember me now?" A rapid nod was his response before the pink haired woman slammed into him as she took him into an embrace alongside the Exceed. The blonde dragonslayer and red furred Exceed chuckled as they patted Seiko on the head.
"I can't believe it's really you two." She smiled as twin streams of tears fell from her eyes.
"Well, I would suggest you believe it Seiko-san. Kurama and I are really standing here."
"Oh, my boy you look so grown up." She smiled as she let go of the two. "Kurama, you look much more fluffy, I just want to stroke you all day." She gushed.
The Exceed was tempted to say 'that's what she said', but he refrained from doing so as it would ruin the mood.
"Thank you, Seiko-san. As I have said beforehand, you have aged rather gracefully it appears. Forty-nine years old and still looking so young." Seiko blushed at the compliment.
"Naruto-kun, please." She giggled. She then looked the boy up and down before nodding in approval. "You seemed to have really grown taller. You look so strong too, I bet you are a real heart breaker. So, how many girls have you bedded?" She waggled her eyebrows. Naruto's eyes widened as he blushed furiously causing a laugh to erupt from Ayame, Seiko and Kurama by his flustered appearance.
"Wh-Wh-What?! Seiko-san!" He exclaimed, pouting like a child. "Ayame nee-chan, Seiko-san is teasing me...make her stop." He said. Ayame let loose a giggle as she noticed the amusement in Naruto's eyes as he pointed at the pink haired woman.
"Oh, Naruto-kun you really are a child at heart it seems." The Sakura's mother chuckled. "So, when did you two get back?" She asked, glancing between the dragonslayer and Exceed.
"Just today." They answered simultaneously.
"They stopped by Tou-san and I for some ramen before I offered to take them to see the others, you included." Ayame added.
"So what have you been up to?"
"Well, I found out I'm a mage." Naruto spoke as he released a soft gust of wind in Seiko's face causing her hair to blow back. "So I made myself into a wandering mage and Kurama has been keeping me out of trouble." He joked.
"Trouble find him it seems." The kitsune costumed Exceed commented. Naruto then glanced around the shop and looked down at Seiko.
"So it seems your business is booming. The increase in size of the store shows that." The green eyed woman nodded.
"Yes, it has. Plus with the help from your rather generous payments all those years ago, I was able to gain the funds needed to expand. Plus I was able to move out of the shop and buy a much larger house for myself here in Clover Town, so that means I have three floors for selling clothes. Speaking of clothes though..." She looked at Naruto's own and gave a look of approval, but still shook her head. "While your clothes are nice looking, why don't I fix you up with something else, hmm? Think of it as a welcome back present." Seiko said with a motherly smile. Naruto chuckled as he glanced at his current wear.
"I would be honoured, but first I want to check on the others. Sakura isn't here so where is she?" Naruto asked. Seiko nodded as she made a mental note to get Naruto some new clothes.
"Well, I knew you wouldn't have come here just to see an old goat like me. Sakura-chan doesn't live with me because she decided to be independent once she turned eighteen. She didn't want to work here in the store anyway because she said she didn't want to be cooped up in here all the time." The elder Haruno spoke. Naruto and Kurama then tilted their heads in confusion at that statement.
"So, where is she then?" The two asked.
Hospital, Clover Town, Fiore
"Alright, now we make a small incision by posterior vena cava. That's where the the majority of the cholesterol is blocking the flow to his heart."
"Yes, sempai." The surgeon picked up a scalpel and made a thin incision at the lower left vein which carried deoxygenated blood back to the heart. However, rather than just blood, there was also some disgusting yellow coloured substance, dyed crimson due to the blood coating it. He then parted the opened and made it a bit wider using the scalpel as well as using a pair of tweezers to pull back the other end of the incision.
"Alright, remove the cholesterol blockages. Geez, this is disgusting. This guy must eat so much junk food, I mean he's practically bleeding more cholesterol than actual blood right now." The rookie surgeon commented as his fellow surgeons aided in removing.
"Don't complain so much." The head of the current surgery operation scolded the rookie. "Keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Any slip up and you'd have this man's death on your hands because you might spread apart the incision too far or cut the vena cava even deeper and have him bleed out."
"My apologies sempai." The rookie apologized. After removing the large amount of solid cholesterol from the patient's posterior vena cava, the sempai of the rookie surgeons nodded.
"Well done. Next time I will show you all how to sew the incisions close, but for now let me do it, you are welcome to watch." The rookies nodded as they watched their sempai pick up a needle and thread and began to easily sew the incision shut. "You must make sure not to pierce into the flesh you need to close, too deeply else you may end up hitting something important. Also, when doing this part of the surgery be sure to do it carefully, yet quickly. You may be able to do this with more experience, but as of right now, slow and steady would have to be your best bet."
"Yes, sempai." The other surgeons nodded before they were dismissed. The rookies then all left the room as their sempai was going to sew the man's chest cavity shut once more. They all removed their gloves, masks and caps and rested them in the area of the room where the dirty, bloodied surgeon equipment were to be cleansed or thrown out.
"God, that was disgusting. To think we have to do this for three more years." Godou said. Godou was a twenty year old young man with spiky black hair and black eyes. He had an angular face and had a rather thin physique.
"Hey, calm down Godou. We only have to do a set amount of practical surgeries anyway. I still have to do some LPs (Lumbar Punctures), I really need to get those out of the way. However, every single other rookie like us is always butting in and taking another patient away so I can never finish them." Erica said. Erica was a girl who was the same age as her three other friends who attended the medical academy of Clover Town with her, twenty years old, with slightly curly blonde hair and deep red eyes. She had a voluptuous figure with C-cup breasts and like her fellow rookie medicinal learners, she was garbed in the blue top and pants associated with those who had just come from the O.R.(Operating Room)
"Well why don't you just try to get those patients faster, Erica?" Franky asked. Franky was a rather muscular young man, but despite his large frame he was actually very nimble with his fingers. He had straight, dark brown hair that was was long enough to be tied back into a ponytail. He had gray coloured eyes and had a silver chain with a cross worn around his neck.
"Because, Franky, I'm too busy trying to finish all the other parts of my practicals. I have three more lobotomies, five more prosthetic replacement experiments, not to mention we have these practical surgeries too." Erica said to Franky.
Godou scratched his head as he watched Franky and Erica continue to argue before turning to the fourth member of their little posse. "Oi, Sakura-san what else do you have to do?"
The twenty year old girl had pink hair that stopped just below her shoulders with a red hairband, that was previously tied around her right bicep for situations such as surgery practicals, wrapped around the middle of her hair. She had deep pools of emerald for eyes and had a round face. Her body had matured giving her rather decent curves and B-cup breasts. Sakura Haruno's slightly pale skin gave off a slight glow due to the bright lights of the hospital she and her friends were currently in.
"Well, I'm pretty much in the same boat as Erica-san, still have some lumbar punctures to do and a few other things." She responded with a nervous laugh.
"Oh come on, Sakura-san. You're like a theoretical genius and you're like way more gifted in the medical field than even some of the veteran doctors here." Sakura waved her hand at Godou's praise.
"Oh please I'm not that..."
"Save the non-vanity act, Sakura-chan. We all know you're like the top of the class. You're gonna go places, girl." Erica said as she draped her arm around the rosette. "And we're gonna go with you. I mean who else is gonna give me my insanity meds when I'm not busy trying to keep these two bozos from killing someone?" She joked.
"OI!" Franky and Godou exclaimed, "I RESENT THAT!"
Sakura laughed as she and her friends walked through the hallways before turning the corner. However, as they were busy talking about how the brain's neurological functions allowed it to generate the act of REM sleep, a young woman dressed in a nurse's outfit came running up to them.
"Excuse me, but is one of you Sakura Haruno?" The nurse asked. The four raised their eyebrows in curiosity, but Sakura answered as she identified herself.
"Why?" She asked. "Is it because of someone sneaking into the hospital to get their practicals done earlier, it wasn't me I tell you! I HAVE PROOF SHANNARO!" She yelled as her 'Inner Sakura', as people liked to call it, was slightly let loose. The nurse and Sakura's three friends sweatdropped at her, but the nurse shook her head.
"No, it's just that someone is here to see you. He says he wanted to meet with you urgently."
"Who's he?" The four young doctors in-training asked. The nurse stepped aside and gestured down the hallways which led to the entrance of the hospital.
"The blonde boy. The one sitting with the cat and the pretty brown haired girl." She smiled before walking off. "Don't be a stranger, he's a cute one." She teased Sakura before walking off. Sakura blushed lightly at that as her eyes zoned in on the blonde that was sitting down in the waiting area near the entrance, petting what looked like a red furred cat.
"Oooo, he is cute. I didn't know you had an admirer Sakura-chan. Don't worry, we won't bother you, but in case he isn't interested in you...give me a holler you hear." Erica winked before pushing Sakura forward and then dragging Godou and Franky off with her to who knows where in the hospital. Sakura sweatdropped at her blonde friend. She then walked off towards the other blonde that supposedly waiting for her.
As she got closer, her eyes glanced over the sitting young man. He was most likely taller than how he looked, a common trait with all people who tended to sit down, and had spiky blonde hair that looked like it could never be tamed no matter how much you combed it. His eyes were a startling blue colour, cerulean or sapphire, she couldn't tell. He wore a black undershirt with what looked like part of a golden spiral patterned on the stomach area, but it was blocked off mostly by the black cloak he wore over it. A pair of black pants and boots completed the image. Though what confused her the most was that listen golden shine near his chest.
'Most likely the charm on a necklace.' She assumed. She then stopped in front of the blonde man and noticed that the brown haired girl was Ayame.
"Ayame-chan? What are you doing here?" She asked. Ayame smiled before gesturing to the blonde and the cat in his lap.
"I'm here to have an old friend visit you." She replied vaguely. Sakura raised an eyebrow and her green eyes washed over the blonde before her again, only to shift upwards as he rose upwards. Her eyes widened slightly when she realized how much he towered over her. He was obviously over six feet tall. He could practically eat soup off of her head.
Her eyes then narrowed as an aura of familiarity seemed to come from the young man before her. "You seem familiar. Hmmm blonde hair, blue eyes...whisker marked cheeks. Fox costume wearing cat with red fur and red eyes. Oh, you must be Naruto and Kurama." She stated simply. Naruto and Kurama grinned as they noticed Sakura suddenly do a double-take before shaking her head and physically slapping herself in the face to make sure she wasn't dreaming, an act which cause Naruto, Ayame and Kurama to sweatdrop.
'Did she just slap herself?'
"NARUTO AND KURAMA!" She yelled.
"Loud as ever I see, Sakura." Naruto chuckled as he shook the ringing sound out of his ears. Sakura gave a sheepish smile.
"Sorry, but it's just that...wow, when did you guys reach back?"
"Earlier today. We saw Ayame nee-chan and Teuichi Ji-chan. We also saw your mother, Seiko-san. So you're a doctor now?" Naruto asked as he gestured to her blue surgery shirt.
"No, not yet. I still have three years of medical school left. I'm not a mage since healing magic would most likely help, but I'm a pretty damn good medical student and my teachers say I'm practically a prodigy in it."
"Well that's pretty ironic." Kurama said. Sakura raised an eyebrow in confusion.
"What do you mean?"
"The violent, angry Sakura Haruno who hurts people when in a rage...is a healer. Oh the irony." Ayame and Naruto chuckled along with Kurama at that. Sakura blushed heavily with embarrassment.
"Shut up, Naruto-baka, Kurama-baka." She humphed. She quickly gave the blonde a hug, which he returned before he was released so that Kurama could get an embrace from the pink haired girl. "So, Naruto you've really changed. You're a lot taller than me now and you look pretty fit. You've been working out or something?" She asked as she lightly punched his abdominal area. Naruto playfully stuck his tongue out at her.
"Maybe. Oh and check it out, I'm a mage too." He pushed a small gust of magic induced wind into his palm and made a tiny tornado spin atop the tip of each of his fingers. Sakura gazed in awe as she watched Naruto bend the wind to his command. As Naruto nullified the winds however, he then blinked in confusion when he saw Sakura gain a shy look on her face. A light blush formed on her cheeks before she looked up at Naruto with an innocent look in her eyes.
"So Naruto...do you think I've changed at all?" She asked, leaning her chest forward a bit. Naruto raised an eyebrow at her actions and Kurama and Ayame could only widen their eyes, their jaws slightly agape at the rosette. Naruto coughed into his hand before looking Sakura up and down.
"Well...I imagined your breasts would have been bigger than that by now, but other than that I'd have to say no." He answered truthfully. Silence filled the air and Naruto blinked in confusion as he noticed a gust of wind blow through the hospital and a tumbleweed followed behind it.
'What the hell?' His thought was interrupted however when he received a hard punch to the face.
"NARUTO-BAKAAAA!" Naruto's eyes turned white and empty as his face caved inwards. He flew backwards from the strength behind the enraged Sakura's punch and he slammed into the wall causing the entire upper half of his body to disappear into it, his legs dangling from the hole his body had made in the wall.
"NARUTO YOU DON'T TELL A GIRL THAT AFTER NOT SEEING HER FOR SO LONG! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" She roared as she tore him from the wall and began to rapidly bitchslap his face in a humourous manner. His soul stretched forth from his mouth as his body was dying, but Sakura grabbed Naruto's soul and forced it back into the blonde's body.
"OH NO, YOU'RE NOT DYING YET! I'M NOT THROUGH WITH YOU, YOU LITTLE BLONDE BAKA! I'M YOUR CHILDHOOD FRIEND AND THAT'S WHAT YOU TELL ME! WHY I OUGHTA..." She never finished her sentence as she looked to see Naruto's body flailing about like a ragdoll as Kurama flew off with it and Ayame running alongside him. She blinked as a (. . .) formed above her head.
She then looked to see everyone staring at her with scared looks on her face. A nurse at the reception desk then bent down and pressed an intercom button.
"Security, we have a Code Pink."
"Sakura Haruno on a rage again...gotcha. SOMEONE GET THAT STRAIGHT JACKET AND THE TRANQUILIZER DARTS, WE GOT A CODE PINK! LET'S MOVE!"
"Well, Sakura seems to not have changed at all. She's as violent as always." Kurama said as he fanned Naruto's broken face with his wings. Ayame quickly took out a piece of cloth and wiped the blood from his face.
"Yeah, well...sometimes things never change." Ayame said.
"That's understatement in Sakura's case." Kurama then patted Naruto's face lightly before rearing back his paw and slapping the whisker cheeked blonde hard across the face leaving a large red print on it.
"AGH, DAMN IT KURAMA! YOUR CLAWS ARE SHARP AS HELL, WHY'D YOU DO THAT?!" He hissed as he suddenly sparked to life. Ayame was shocked beyond belief and could only stare in awe as she caught sight of a small wisp of steam coming from Naruto's face as it healed to perfect condition before her very eyes.
"Oi, Ayame nee-chan, now that Sakura's out of the way and I won't die by a pummeling to the face...are Ino, Chouji and Shikamaru still here?" Ayame shook her head to rid herself of the questions she had for Naruto about his healing and merely put it under one of his abilities he had as a mage.
"Umm, well those three are usually together at Chouji's father's restauraunt, so let's go there." Ayame said. Naruto and Kurama sniffed the air before shaking their heads.
"No, it's alright. We can find the way by ourselves. You should back to Ichiraku's and help Ji-chan, me and Kurama want to explore on our own." Ayame paused as she was about to speak, but nodded.
"Alright, but you don't get lost."
"I don't think that's possible. Not when I can smell Ichiraku Ramen a mile away." He joked. Ayame giggled and gave Naruto a small peck on the cheek.
"Welcome back home, otouto." She said before walking off. Naruto touched his cheek.
'Home.' The word resounded through his head like thunder did in the sky. He laughed. "Home, huh? I think that can work." He muttered before walking off as Kurama lay down atop his head. After sniffing the air multiple times to try and catch the scent of his three childhood friends, he finally caught the scent of barbeque, flowers and wood.
'Hmm, the barbeque is probably Chouji. Flowers are obviously Ino and the wood is probably Shikamaru since he spends so much time around a shougi board.' He thought. The blonde and the red furred cat then sped off and in a matter of minutes were in front of Akimichi's Barbeque Hut. Naruto sniffed as he smelt the scent of succulent meat that made his and Kurama's mouth drool. They slid the sliding door open and entered the eating establishment before looking around and he spotted the three people he was looking for.
"And then she was like nu uh and I was like yuh huh, but then I went and told her if you don't have any feelings for a man for twenty years in the entirety of your life then you have to be a lesbian." Ino spoke. Ino's hair had grown out and part of it was lengthy enough to cover part of her right eye while her left eye, still a beautiful shade of sky blue, was visible for all to see. She wore a pair of silver earrings and wore a purple tank top over a fishnet shirt with a purple miniskirt and black sandals. She had filled out nicely and had a very voluptuous figure and C, bordering on D-Cup breasts.
"Troublesome Ino. You're always gossiping." Shikamaru drawled out. Shikamaru hadn't really changed that much. He still looked the same except for the fact that he now wore the cloak of the Rune Knights on his back. A symbol for 'Tactician' was emblazoned on it in a deep blue colour. Though he had the cloak, Shikamaru was shown to be wearing normal civilian garb which consisted of a dark gray shirt and black pants with black boots.
Chouji was smiling as he cooked the beef before them and salivated. Chouji's appearance was the most different. Though he looked relatively the same in terms of physique it was obvious that most of that fat he had when he was younger was probably muscle. His brown hair was much longer and spikier and the red swirls he had painted on the sides of his cheeks were a much darker shade of red. He wore a large red shirt and red pants with black boots. Atop his head was a chef's hat and an apron that said 'Kiss the Cook'.
"Oi, Chouji you finished cooking that stuff yet?"
"Almost done, Shikamaru." The rotund boy replied.
"Ummm Chouji?" Ino said. Chouji looked up from the beef and at his two best friends.
"What?" He smiled.
"That wasn't Shikamaru." She said. Chouji tilted his head in confusion as he watched Shikamaru.
"Troublesome. It wasn't me, it came from behind us." The pineapple hairstyled Rune Knight shook his head before turning around. Ino and Chouji followed his gaze. Suddenly, their eyes widened and mouths were slack, even Shikamaru's. Naruto leaned up against the bar counter with Kurama resting atop his head as he looked at the trio.
"Yo." The two gave a small wave. Ino, being the active one, immediately sprung to her feet and slammed into the blonde boy, taking him and Kurama down in a hug. Naruto's face was immersed in her cleavage, not that he didn't mind, but he was using every ounce of willpower to hold back the nosebleed that was brewing on the horizon.
"Nice to see you too, Ino-chan." Naruto mumbled. "Though, would you mind getting off...your cleavage, while rather impressive, is killing me." Ino giggled with a blush as she rose up, now simply straddling the spiky haired blonde.
"Naruto-kun, Kurama, you're back! When did you...How did you...?" She was so excited to see her childhood friends again that she couldn't even complete her sentences.
Naruto laughed, "We got back just today to see other people. As for how...we walked...well actually we flew here most of the way." Ino smiled at the spiky haired blonde before flicking him on the forehead.
"You baka, and you couldn't see us first?"
"Saving the best for last, Ino-chan." He winked at her causing her to grin wolfishly in return.
"Of course." She said, giving in to her vanity.
"So Naruto,Kurama, how have you been? Here have some beef, I just made it." Chouji said as he brought a plate of freshly cooked BBQ beef to the dragonslayer and Exceed. Ino climbed off of Naruto and helped him to his feet as Kurama still clung to the top of the blonde's head, stretching out his tail to pick up the plate of beef that lay before them.
"We've been fine. Traveling around the kingdom of Fiore. Gotta say, Fiore is a rather...active place." Kurama said as he downed multiple pieces of beef in one go. Naruto took up two pieces and tossed them into his mouth with his chopsticks and easily caught them causing Ino and Chouji to clap for them merely just to humour the two.
"You know Naruto...something seems different about you." Shikamaru said as he looked over the blonde. "You seem...powerful."
"Well, I am a mage after all." He said as he demonstrated a formation of a Rasengan. Though he was laughing and smiling on the outside, Naruto's thoughts were in a different place. 'Shikamaru is a Rune Knight and one of it's Tactician members it seems. I can't demonstrate too much, if any, of my ability to use Fuuton. Despite his lazy attitude, I know his mind is as sharp as any wind blade I can form and he'd be able to piece it together that I am the Ogonno Fuujin and then by extension make Kurama the Onibi Myobu. Though Shikamaru is my nakama...I can't risk it. I can trust Shikamaru, but not the Rune Knight Tactician-Shikamaru Nara.'
"A mage?! That's incredible! Well as you can tell by the cloak, Shika's in the Rune Knights, maybe he can squeeze in a spot for you." Ino said. "He's one of their best tacticians, the little genius like him." She patted Shikamaru on the head.
"I noticed. Shikamaru, the Rune Knights don't suit a laid back guy like you, how's you get in? Wait, lemme guess...Yoshino-san?" Shikamaru sighed and nodded as Naruto answered his own question.
"Yeah. Okaa-chan is a real pain in the ass, saying how that Tou-san is going to be going to retirement soon so I need to get into the business too. Ino is going into the Interrogation unit pretty soon and Inoichi-san is training her for that. Chouji is going to be working on being a tank member and being a heavy fighter Rune Knight."
"So why is it that only you have your Rune Knight cloak with you? And all three of you are in the Rune Knights?!" Kurama exclaimed. A nod came from all three of them.
"As for why we don't have ours, Chouji and I don't like to wear ours in public and Shikamaru's mother is making him do it because she wants him to build a respectable image for himself as a Rune Knight." She laughed. "As if it's possible for a lazy ass like Shika to gain such a reputation outside of HQ."
"Troublesome Kaa-chan." Shikamaru sighed. "I just want to sleep and watch the clouds."
"So, what magic do you guys use?" Naruto asked.
"Shika uses Shadow Magic, I use Mind Manipulation Magic, and Chouji uses Body Growth Magic. Shika's is self explanatory, he manipulates shadows, but he can even go so far as to control his shadow and latch it onto another person's so as to prevent them from moving. My magic allows me to control people's bodies and even their minds. I can also manage to go into a person's subconscious so I can mentally pick them apart and even read their inner most thoughts. Chouji's magic allows him to expand any part of his body so that he could grow bigger and crush the competition." Ino stated. "We're the Ino-Shika-Chou trio of the next generation."
"I see." Naruto and Kurama spoke before looking at each other with frowned. Three of their nakama were in the Rune Knights and now concealing their identities as the Ogonno Fuujin and the Onibi Myobu became that much more of a priority. Naruto and Kurama cursed inwardly. They didn't like lying to the people they held close to them, their precious people, their nakama. They would risk their lives for them and to protect them and it was because of this that Naruto and Kurama would be forced to keep this from them.
'However, should they come too close to even figuring out anything relating us to our SS-Class counterparts-' Kurama paused in his thought. They could kill them easily, but it wasn't easy to kill someone you cared about. Naruto and Kurama released silent groans of frustration.
"Kuso." They muttered under their breaths.
Ino had then called over Sakura, Ayame, Teuichi, Inoichi, Chouza, Shikaku, Yoshino and Seiko over to the Barbeque Restaurant so as to once again get the chance to talk with Naruto and Kurama. They ate, drank and talked the whole day before they all went back to their respective homes, but the common thing amongst them was that they were all glad to have the young dragonslayer and Exceed back in their lives. No matter how short the stay was going to be.
When the tipsy people all left, Naruto and Kurama were the only ones left standing outside the BBQ hut.
"So...what are we going to do, Naruto? Three of our nakama are part of the Rune Knights and one has the ability to break into your mind and pick you apart, one is a genius and the other has magic that can hold you down by simply bloating himself to unbelievable proportions." Kurama recollected the drunken Chouji demonstrating his magic as he increased the size of his hand three times its original size.
"I...I...I..." Naruto clutched his head as he wracked his brain for an answer to the current predicament. After a few minutes, the young man sighed before his blue eyes suddenly flickered white. "I'll crush them. My identity as the Ogonno Fuujin and yours as the Onibi Myobu, it is much too dangerous for it to be public knowledge."
His eyes then changed back to blue, "But I can't kill them. They're my nakama. I can't just kill them, I've known them for far too long, bonded with them, shared memories with them. I don't want to lose the only people I care about over something as trivial as an identity."
"Listen to yourself, Naruto. You are acting like a scared child. Acnologia raised you...me...us...to crush your emotions. Your 'nakama' are humans that you despise. As a dragonslayer, you are at the top of the hierarchy of the world. You are the dominant species." Naruto growled to himself, his eyes shifting back to blinding white.
"NO, I CAN'T!" Naruto fell to the ground on his knees and released a loud roar to the heavens. Kurama watched in shock as he saw Naruto's eyes continue to go back and forth between blue and white, his slightly regained humanity fighting a losing battle against his dragonslayer personality.
'I knew Naruto was forced into a warped mentality by Acnologia by locking away his humanity...but to have created a split personality as a result...just what have you done you overgrown garden snake?' Kurama wondered. The red eyed Exceed then watched as Naruto fell silent. His eyes now cold and calculating and ice blue.
"Have you reached a consensus, Naruto?" Kurama asked. Naruto growled as he looked at Kurama.
"The people here are much too close to me to find out anything about me. It is best for me to leave this place. Our presence here puts everyone at risk so...we leave at first light, Kurama. My humanity returning to me has shown that I have not completely been turned by the draconian teachings of Tou-san. I cannot stay here much longer as the release of my emotions has caused me too much mental trauma enough as it is. We will sleep for the night here in Clover Town and then we will leave."
"You're not even going to say goodbye."
"Goodbyes are unnecessary." Naruto said with a neutral tone.
"How are they unnecessary? You see them for the first time in seven years and you're going to leave them again without even the courtesy of saying goodbye?!" Kurama exclaimed. Naruto snarled at the fox costumed cat.
"Hold your tongue Exceed!"
The two snarled at one another before Kurama spoke once more.
"I am just as hell-bent against humanity as you are, but at least I have the ability to tell when certain humans deserve my wrath and when certain ones do not. You are losing yourself, Naruto. You are a dragonslayer, yes, but you are not a true-blooded dragon. Get it through your skull that you have humanity in you and that you will feel emotions, damn it!"
Naruto remained silent and looked down at the ground before chuckling and looking up at the moon as its silver rays shone down on him. His eyes shone with white before returning to their original colour.
"It's a matter of opinion, Kurama. I am a dragonslayer and I have been told that I am the epitome of perfection, the most powerful being on the face of Earthland. I can crush things before me with a mere flick of the wrist, I can sever heads, blow bodies part, impale people through the heart and kill anything that stands in my way...but when it comes to my own problems, I'm as weak as any human." Naruto growled deeply in his throat.
"I despise my human side." Naruto muttered darkly before he walked off. Kurama sighed and rested atop the blonde's head and patted his skull. Naruto jumped atop the roofs of the houses of Clover Town before settling atop the spire of Clover Town's highest building which was the mansion of Ayame's stalker, Roy. Of course, Naruto and Kurama didn't know this was his house and were too caught up in their thoughts to recognize the scent.
"You'll come to make a choice soon, Naruto. You are a dragonslayer and you are a human. You have the power of a dragon and the heart of a human. You can walk one road or the other, or maybe...you can always defy the laws of choice as you always have and forge your own path, but know this Naruto." The blonde looked up at the Exceed on his head.
"No matter what happens...no matter what you do...I'll be there to help you through it, alright?" Naruto remained silent as Kurama finished speaking and merely patted the Exceed's head.
"Besides, someone has to stop you from eating so much ramen. You're going to die from all that shit in your body." A vein bulged on Naruto's forehead at that remark.
"SHUT UP, BAKA-KITSUNE!"
(A/N: Well that's it for this chapter. Alright, first and foremost, before ANYBODY starts getting all bitchy and shit about how Naruto is supposed to be dark and dangerous and how he's a badass dragonslayer not a pansy human, shut it and read what I have to...write...or say! You get the point! Anyway, the reason for Naruto's acting the way he is, is to show just how much his character is being changed. He is a gray character. He has good traits and bad traits, but it's all a matter of opinion. Naruto has been repressing his humanity for as long as he has been with Acnologia and being surrounded by humans for the first time in years has resulted in him suddenly unleashing his humanity, which, due to him being only thirteen when he first did so, resulted in him having a childish personality when it emerged. Being around the first humans he interacted with broke down the dam that held back his humanity and unleashed it all in a large burst and thus caused the formation of this split personality revealed here in the end of this chapter. Naruto's dragonslayer personality has always been dominant, but after so long, his humanity has broken through and has resulted in him having two different personalities and eventually, both personalities are going to fuse and form the stable mindset of Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze.
He is a dragonslayer, but he is also human. You readers yourselves are humans, so you must understand that not everybody reacts the way people will want them to. So don't tell me what to do when you complain that Naruto is not the way you want him to be. He's my Naruto, this is my story and my laptop. Don't worry, he will remain dark, but he will also show pieces of light in him. This chapter was to show that Naruto is light as well as dark and he is a gray character. He will kill and he will be a saviour. He is a friend and an enemy. He is a dragonslayer and a human. Deal with it.
Now that I've got that off my chest, I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. I put in humourous parts in this chapter (hence the piece with Sakura) so as to at least get a kick out of you guys and also to lighten the mood. I mean, after all the action and the plot development and the heated stuff going on, I decided to cool it down and give you guys a little slow paced chapter, though I apologize if you think I kinda rushed coming down to the end. It's four in the morning and I'm sleepy.
On another note, I'm still working on the drawings for this story which is why it took so long to do this chapter. I'm not done with the drawings either, I'm currently doing the design for Cyclonus the Wind Dragon, but hopefully I can finish soon. Happy belated New Year to you guys and hope you guys had a good Christmas.
Remember to Review, Review, Review!)