Music of the Month: The Call by League of Legends ft. 2WEI, Edda Hayes, & Louis Leibfried.
Quote: "You can't change what has already happened, so choose to look ahead instead of behind you."
Most of the members of the Uzumaki family, the Uchiha family, and the Hinoken team anxiously waited for the Shinigami to begin his story. All of them felt the unnerving silence around them as they took in his form. The God of Death walked amongst the realm of mortals. He did so slowly, taking them all in before his eyes finally turned to his summoner.
"Before I begin, as I said, I must offer the Uzumaki family my deepest apologies. The matter that has befallen my summoner has been indirectly caused by my lack of foresight. While I have never held a summoner, I should have offered value foresight in preventing this from happening. Unfortunately, I can't say that it won't happen again," the Shinigami said, shaking everyone.
"S-So what happened to Nii-sama?" Yura asked cautiously.
The intimidating glare of the Shinigami fell on her. The young Uzumaki swallowed a lump in her throat. She'd seen the god of death many times, but his presence was still very intimidating. There was actually something rather poetic about it in a messed up kind of way.
The pupil-less man looked at her for a moment or two before he walked over to the walls and touched them, almost longingly. "There is a reason why many would synonymize death with evil. No mortal was supposed to kiss the realm of death so many times. Their bodies are feeble, even with the manifestation of chakra. It does not matter as death is as much about the soul as it is about the body. When one dies, there is a sense of inhibition that's been removed. Naturally, there ought to be. The dead do not like a living brain that would rationalize their being. Instead, the Power of Life that they are made from creates something that resembles a consciousness. Uzumaki Naruto, have you noticed that you've yet to meet a truly evil, vile spirit?" The Shinigami asked.
The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki thought about this for a moment, but the answer never came to him. "What do you mean by a truly evil or vile spirit?" The blond asked.
"There are many men in the world who do not seek the saving grace found within Kami's light. There are many who worship me, granting death to those worthy and unworthy. The very ground they walk upon is steeped in blood and so too is their conscience. As there are those who kill for the purpose of protection, there are those who kill for enjoyment. They lay waste to the very edges of eternity. They exist not only within this world, but also in many others where my domain has reached, places beyond your understanding. I've known of them, ever since the first murder of time itself. The vengeful spirits, the cry for innocent blood, and the numerous ones who flow in the life pool, you have only experienced a very small fraction of that," The Shinigami said.
Kushina narrowed her eyes as she stared at her son. The others looked at him as well. They were all confused by what they were hearing. Hell, never mind them standing in the presence of the god of death still made them all shiver. "What does he mean?" Yugao asked, whispering to Kakashi.
The one-eyed Hinoken member frowned. "I don't know, but something tells me we're not going to like this," he responded just as quietly.
Yuri, Yura, and Kushina stood close to Naruto, perhaps holding him for his comfort or for their own. No one knew where these words were going, and they all subconsciously prepared themselves for the explanation. Unknown to them all, Kakashi was indeed right. It was not one any of them were going to like.
"I have dealt with this matter many times over the course of the avatars I've used to instill my will into its physical manifestations. As I have a summoner, it… hadn't been brought to my attention fully of the consequences. You see, Shikyō, my realm deals with not just good spirits. I deal with the most vile, repulsive ones as well. As you were new to my power, my aura was enough to protect you from the more severe spirits you might encounter. Now, as you've grown, you've become less dependent on my aura. That has left you susceptible to the many evil spirits that not only roam this world, but others as well. They are many and some of them are stronger that you would ever think possible. There are some that could level your entire planet with one jutsu. There are others that could decimate and control armies or countries with but a word. All of them seek not life, only destruction. More than that, they seek you," he said, pointing at the blond.
Naruto widened his eyes. So did everyone else. They each looked at each other before Sasuke took a step forward. "So there's countless evil spirits around us and they all want to possess the loser? Since he's your summoner, shouldn't he be the ruler over all spirits?" the Uchiha asked.
"Above all, my mother emphasized free will to all beings. Though they acknowledge he is superior to them, they will still plan against him for their own means. The reason they can do this is because, Uzumaki Naruto, there is evil within you, a great evil, some of the greatest I've ever felt from any mortal," Shin said, which made everyone gasp.
Kushina and all the others looked at him in worry. However, none of them were more surprised than the blond himself. "I'm evil?" Naruto asked.
"I did not say you were evil. I said there is great evil within you. Just as there is the capacity for righteousness, justice, and good within you, there is also a great evil. It is one that you haven't confronted in all your life. Mother always said the greatest evil she'd ever seen came from self-destruction. That same destruction lies within you and they took advantage of that. I should have prepared you better, instructed you further. This happened because of my negligence," the Shinigami said.
No one said anything for a moment before Yuri spoke. "So then, how do we get this… evil out of Nii-chan? I've never felt anything evil or vile from him before," the young kunoichi said while the others contemplated her words.
"'As man lives and breathes, so too does the struggle of good and evil take shape within him, vying for the body and the mind to set its road forth'," Yugao said while Naruto continued to look at the floor, too stunned to speak.
"There is the capacity for evil within all of us. The Uchiha clan was an example of that. I fear even Sasuke might have gone down that path eventually had these matters not taken the turn they do now. However, I'm still confused. Shinigami-sama, I hope I speak with no disrespect, but you are the God of Death. Could you not simply command these beings to leave Naruto alone or pass them on?" Mikoto asked.
Hamura Otsutsuki stepped along the ground, his white robe fluttering in the air. "This is not such an easy question to answer. Indeed, I could, however, if I were dealing with a normal person," the Shinigami replied.
Naruto gawked. "HEY! I'm normal!" he exclaimed.
"No. No, you are not!" said everyone else immediately.
Despite the situation, the blond growled at them all while Hamura chuckled. 'No, Uzumaki Naruto. You are not normal. That is both a good and a bad thing. Remember, we gods cannot force obedience. Naturally, there are consequences to bear and the one who took you over has been dealt with, but the only one who can stop them is yourself. Despite popular belief, my powers are not almighty. Even I must adhere to certain rules regarding my domain. Now, I believe this has gone off topic long enough," he said as he turned to them all.
Everyone straightened up. "Shikyō, just as there are those living full of misdeeds, there are also many abominations in this realm as well. It seems I cannot protect you from them forever. They are attached to the appetizing darkness hidden deep within your soul, some of them have wandered for hundreds, thousands, centuries, or millennia. At best, I can isolate them to the ones that come from your world. As you grow stronger however, so too shall the dangers become more and more severe," the Shinigami said.
"Wait, you actually said that before. 'Other worlds.' You mean, there's sentient life beyond our world?" Yura asked.
"Indeed there is. You see, I, Otsutsuki Hamura, am from such a people. We Otsutsuki have come long before the age of Shinobi. It was from my brother, Otsutsuki Hagoromo, that your chakra is derived. You might best know him to be the Sage of Six Paths," Hamura said.
"He was real?" Yugao asked in surprise.
It was no surprise why. Many shinobi grew up on the legends and myths of the Sage of Six Paths. Most thought him just to be some bedtime story that parents told their children to help them sleep. Most told them to not be afraid of the monsters in the dark, for the Sage of Six Paths shall protect all the innocent. As one grew older, they fell out of such stories.
"Indeed he was. However, that is a story that will have to wait for another time. Remember yourself, Shikyō. There are many spirits that desire you, many with evil intentions. I have accepted many, an innumerable number into my embrace. However, I shall give you another technique to learn. I'm sure you wondered where the concepts of heaven and hell are. Well, you shall find out. This shall be your best defense in the days to come," Hamura said as he tapped the blond's forehead.
Everyone squinted their eyes as a harsh light covered the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki's body. "When you have broken free of this darkness, this hatred, this evil you will come back here and undergo your ascension. Look within yourself for the answers that you will seek. I thought you ready when I sent dreams to your priestess. Unfortunately, that was not the case. However, I know that you shall be ready someday. I shall await that time," Hamura's voice uttered before it slowly fell away.
Once the Shinigami was gone, that left everyone else alone. Each of them stared at Naruto and the blond started to feel a little self-conscious. "So, I guess I'm going evil now?" he asked.
Sasuke snorted. "You haven't got the demeanor for it, loser," he replied while the others chuckled for a moment.
Yugao took a step forward. "Well, he didn't really give us much to go off of. Either way, I don't think Tsunade-sama's gonna accept Naruto getting possessed by evil spirits for the Konoha incident. Even if she did, I doubt she'd let him back into the village, especially if they're allowed to gain access to his abilities," she said.
Kakashi hummed. "Indeed. It seems there's something within Naruto that we've all missed, even himself. That said, with the Shinigami's assistance, it won't be as bad as it was before. He also told us that as long as Naruto can get rid of this darkness within him then the spirits won't affect him," the Hinoken member replied.
"Well, how do we do that? Do we gotta put Nii-chan in a bath in godly essence or something? No human's ever lived without some form of hate or darkness," Yuri said while Kushina stood to her feet.
The redhead bit her lip, thinking over all of this. She was already angry enough at Tsunade. She was already angry enough at Konoha. She would not abandon her son for a second time. She'd sooner rip Konoha itself apart than allow such a thing. Then again, the longer Naruto was unassigned to the Hinoken team, the greater the imbalance in their power showed. Unfortunately, that meant they couldn't take him on assignments anymore until he was reinstated. The matriarch of the Uzumaki family wasn't going to give Tsunade any more leverage than she already had.
"Sochi, how do you feel right now?" Kushina asked.
"Well, slightly depressed dattebayo. I just learned I've got some dark stuff that lures evil spirits inside me. I've been basically banished from Konoha. I'm pretty sure those banished can't become Hokage, and now I'm worried that what happened to the village will also happen to Uzushio. So yeah, I'm on top of the world right now," he said as he rubbed the back of his head.
The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki sighed, his head hanging low. "I don't know, guys. For the last few years, these have been the happiest years of my life. I wouldn't trade them away for anything. I dunno anything about darkness inside me. Though, if there is then maybe I should also leave Uzushio. I couldn't bear the thought of doing something to this place too," he said.
The blond chuckled humorlessly to himself. All that time, all that work, trying his damndest to show the villagers that he wasn't the monster. Who knows what they were calling him now. It all actually seemed like one very bad dream.
"Okay, Nii-sama, now isn't the time to turn into Sasuke-san. Besides, it's better if you're here than anywhere else. If it does happen to you again, then you could cause an international incident. You're the head of the Uzumaki clan now. You're our leader," Yura said.
"Yura's right, Naruto. As the hea… what? He's the head of the Uzumaki clan?!" Yugao exclaimed while Kushina sighed.
"Alright, we can discuss that later. For now, let's all get out of this dark cave. Our business here has been concluded. Sochi, I lost my chance to be with you because of Konoha-related affairs. I'm not gonna allow that to happen a second time. We'll come up with a plan and what to do with you for now. In the meantime, I want you to think about anything you're feeling angry about. Whatever this darkness, this hatred is, it's something that's been inside you for a long time," the older redhead said.
Naruto slowly nodded, not even trusting himself to speak. Instead, Yuri brought him to his feet and everyone walked out. They passed by Shion, who was busy performing her shrine duties with the other training priests and priestesses.
The young head of the Uzumaki clan didn't really remember the walk back home. His thoughts left him preoccupied as he opened and lead himself up to his room. "Yo Kyuubi, this… darkness. Do you sense it?" the blond asked.
"…Yes. However, for your own growth, that is something you must discover for yourself. No one can always give you the answers, brat. Don't worry. I'm actually coming up with a little plan in case you're taken over again," The white-furred nine-tailed fox said.
"You gonna fill me in on it?" the jinchuuriki asked as he laid on his bed.
"I can't do that. The less you know, the less they'll know if they do somehow possess you. I promise, it's only for your benefit. We just got started on this whole 'friend' thing. I won't let it break that easily," the fox said before he went silent.
Meanwhile, Naruto continued to look up at his ceiling. So… even the Kyuubi could sense that hatred within him? Well, perhaps there was no surprise why. It was always rumored that the Kyuubi spawned wherever there was great hatred and war. Maybe that was why he could sense the negativity. Then why couldn't Naruto do it?
The young man held up his hand and looked it over. Nothing seemed different from anything else. His thoughts were his own for now. He didn't suddenly feel like murdering anyone. He didn't even feel agitated about being banished from Konoha. Perhaps he should have, but that was counterproductive at this point.
He'd seen the destruction he caused. Tsunade had to do what she did to protect the village. It was certainly the right thing to do, but…
"Argh! This is so stupid! What the hell's wrong with me?!" Naruto asked as he tossed and turned on the bed, nothing there to answer him.
Being left alone, he channeled the Honshou through his eyes. With it, he could see the innumerable spirits, each of them floating. Some of them waved to him happily, others bowed and showed reverence. Not a single one of them showed any sign of malice towards him. However, clearly that wasn't the case. Even now, hidden from his view, were the vile, evil, borderline psychotic spirits willing to watch the world burn.
Why would they still be allowed to roam if they were that dangerous?
Then there was also that technique the Shinigami gave him to study. What was he supposed to do with it? With this technique he would supposedly understand the concepts of Heaven and Hell, Paradise and Torment.
The former member of Hinoken leaned up. He quickly opened his palm and released his Honshou. The white flames danced in his hands. He never thought that the Honshou could be separated into two different energies. Supposedly, both could cleanse spirits whether seeing fit to grant them eternal peace or eternal damnation.
Was this supposed to help him fight the people threatening to take him over?! All of this was too much to even process at one time! Hell, he couldn't even wrap his mind around the fact that there was other life out there aside from his own. He always contemplated but never entertained the idea more than necessary.
After a while, a knock at the door came. The Uzumaki patriarch assumed it wasn't his fiancee. She'd have no reason to knock in their own room. "Come in," he said, a little tiredly. His voice really wasn't into it right now.
The door opened and inside came Yura. She closed the door and walked over to him. Without a word, she sat on the bed. Once again, Naruto took notice of her long, red hair. It was so long it unraveled a little on the nape of the bed.
"I know you'll probably be disappointed in me when you hear what I have to say, Nii-sama. However, I want to be honest with you. Even if you do turn evil, I will always love you. I would go through Konoha and the other Great Nations if it meant I could stand at your side. For all you've done for everyone, I think it's only right that someone should do something for you. If Konoha won't have you, then they won't have me either. I resigned as a shinobi of the village," she said, waiting for the reprimand to come through.
Surprisingly, there wasn't one. She turned and noticed Naruto looking at the ground. He chuckled. "I know what you're thinking. I should probably be screaming at the top of my lungs about that and why you'd do that, but I can't blame you. Right now, I don't feel any different. I've never felt so close to everyone else yet so oddly separated. It feels like it's back to those times where I got to watch everyone hang around with their parents, either after the academy or during sports festivals. There always seemed to be a line drawn there. A place where I couldn't go no matter how hard I tried. Now, it might seem a little selfish, but I can't help feeling so damn happy that someone would even try to cross that line, that divide, for me. Yura, I can't say I approve of what you did, but… thank you. Thank you so much!" Naruto said.
Yura threw her arms around her lover, holding his firm back. They stayed in silence for a little while, accepting each other's presence until they stared into each other's eyes. They shared a brief kiss, reveling in the passion between them. Unfortunately, while they couldn't be physically intimate for now, the quiet flame that burned within them continued to stroke itself.
When they separated, they fell back to the bed. "So what are you going to do now? As far as I'm aware, retired shinobi can't return to active duty outside of very special circumstances," he said while Yura chuckled.
"Well, I wouldn't do that without a plan. I could join Zabuza-san's efforts in protecting Haku-san. I've noticed she'd had less time to train with the politics that the position comes with. She has the reserves for a clone or two, but the mental strain is something she's still working with.I could help her with that. I'll guess I'll also just have to fill out a civilian license to go home in Konoha. At least they can't stop me there. Either that or… I'll join you and Yuri in your little expedition," she said.
Naruto smiled. "So you knew about that, huh?" he asked.
"I know my two troublemakers very well. Besides, I find myself with a lot of free time now. No matter where you go, I'll always be with you," Yura answered as they continued to lean on the bed.
On the other side of the door, Kushina smiled and walked away. It seemed she wouldn't have to check on her fiancé like she intended. Instead, she walked down the stairs where most of the other Hinoken members and family were assigned.
"How is he doing?" Yugao asked.
"Yura's with him so I think he'll do just fine. It's been a bad day for him this far and he'll need some time to come to terms with it all. Also, I want to find the source of this darkness that the Shinigami warned us about in Naruto. If we can get rid of that, then it's possible that we'll never have an encounter like that again," she replied.
The others looked around, either sitting on the couch or leaning on the wall. "And how are we supposed to do that? The only evil thing I'm used to seeing the Dobe do is his pranks. Even those he stopped. Besides, the world would be pretty perfect if we could get rid of the evil in everyone," Sasuke said from where he sat.
The Hinoken team glanced at him for a moment before Kakashi leaned off the wall. "Everyone has a way of hiding their pain in ways to appear strong. I think we've possibly forgotten that it's only been one or two years since Naruto had anything resembling a normal family. Plus, he dealt with the animosity from the village, believing he had to become Hokage just to get everyone else's respect. He wanted people to treat him like he was important, a somebody. However, if even Naruto doesn't realize he's got it then how do we get rid of it?" Kakashi asked.
While the others weren't too sure how to answer that question, Kushina tried to keep the shame off her face. It was true, she knew what Naruto would endure as jinchuuriki when she died. She'd never forgotten it. Even now, she still remembered when he slept with her, looks of anguish on his face. Naturally, those stopped occurring after the first month or two of her being revived, but every now and then there always seemed to be a forlorn look in her son's eye.
Sasuke couldn't deny that as well. He knew what it was like to be alone. He remembered blatantly telling it to Naruto's face that he didn't know what it was like to lose something he'd never had. Of course, the Uchiha heir came to recognize this later. He wouldn't ever say it out loud, but Naruto was indeed his best friend. Another brother even. He'd seen the signs, but his pride hadn't allowed him to show any type of compassion. Perhaps in some ways, he was just as damaged as his friend was.
"So are we sending Nii-chan to monk school? All that talk about facing your inner demons, finding truth, and aligning yourself with the power of good?" Yuri asked.
Everyone heard someone guffaw at the question. They turned their heads and noticed Yugao holding her hand over her mouth. "S-Sorry. That was funnier than I thought it'd be," she said, not trying to make light of the situation, but finding some odd humor in it.
"That's actually not a bad idea," Mikoto said, making everyone look at her in shock.
"Well, we're not exactly sure where to start. The best place in identifying this would be in places meant for self-reflection. It's a shame that Naruto's been basically banished from Konoha. We could have used Inoichi-san's expertise in the matter concerning these developments as well," Mikoto said before Kushina blinked.
The Leader of Hinoken quickly leaned up. "Wait, he might not have to go to the Fire Temple," she said, gathering everyone's attention. She quickly bit her thumb and summoned Chiriku.
The man quickly appeared in front of everyone, his ghost-like body standing before them all. He bowed. "Greetings, Kushina-sama. How might I be of service to you?" the former monk of the Fire Temple asked.
Kushina turned to him. "I want you to mentor my son. He's been banished from Konoha and we've all just learned there is something terrible lying within him. Right now, we can't seek any help from Konoha facilities and I've known many of your teachings and your expertise. I'm not asking for you to create a miracle, but if you could help us discover what's wrong with Naruto then I'd be indebted to you," she answered.
The wise monk hummed. "If it is within my capabilities then I'd be honored to have Naruto-sama learn of some of the ways to the enlightened path. All are welcome and we turn none away who struggle with themselves. I'm not sure what I can provide, but I'll do my best," he said.
The leader of Hinoken sighed. "Thank you. That means a lot to me. We'll give him today to sort himself out. Tomorrow, I hope you'll treat him well. I ask that you update me on any progress made at the end of the week. The rest of us will continue to handle our business until Tsunade assigns up a mission. Regardless of our personal feelings, she is still the Hokage and our leader. Even though I'm pissed off, it wouldn't do good since tensions have been high recently. We'll…
Kushina stopped when she saw two spirits fly through the ceiling. Both of them landed in front of her. "Kushina-sama, Tera and Taji reporting! We bring urgent news from our investigation into Shimura Danzo!" Taji said, her head low to the ground.
The redhead narrowed her eyes. "Right, Naruto did say he sent out two spirits on reconnaissance. Glad you've returned. What have you found out?" she asked.
"We found a… a… we-we-we found a… I-I don't remember," Taji said in shock while Tera frowned.
"I… don't either. I remember it was something extremely important. We… got to the underground facility. We found… something and then we traveled as fast as we could back here. Yet, I don't remember what we were looking for," Tera replied next.
…what the hell was Kushina supposed to even do with that?!
"You're not really giving me a lot to go off of," she thought to herself. So apparently, there was something relating to Danzo that these two had investigated, but somehow they forgot their objective? Could spirits even do that?! Well, there was the saying that vengeful spirits tend to be in peace when they remember themselves.
Not like Kushina ever had the time to commune with the dead before. She shook her head. "That's all you remember? No people you saw, no geographical information, anything memorable?" she asked.
Try as the two spirits might, they came up short. They couldn't remember anything from the time they'd been gone. All they remembered was that their mission was supposedly one of vital importance. Disappointed, they heard their heads down. Kushina sighed and scratched her cheek.
"Okay then, do you at least remember how you got here? Think you can retrace your steps?" she asked.
"We'd be willing to try. Our honor has already been tarnished upon delivering a ridiculous failure. If you would have us, we'll investigate to our fullest!" Taji answered.
Kushina grumbled and pinched the bridge of her nose. She really didn't want to deal with Tsunade right now. "Alright, then, that'll be our plan for now. You two are dismissed. I'll inform my son," she said.
"Yes, Kushina-sama!" The two said before they faded away.
That brought her attention back to everyone else. "What happened?" Mikoto asked.
Kushina sighed and rolled her shoulders. Ah, it seemed that the spirits hadn't revealed themselves to the others. In fact, the redhead was starting to wonder if she'd actually been talking to herself in front of the others. That alone was embarrassing enough. Thankfully, they all seemed to know that something had gone on.
"Apparently, Sochi sent out a few spirits to track Danzo down. They say they found him or something extremely urgent about him, but they don't remember what it is," she said.
"...They don't remember what it is?" Yugao asked.
Kushina shrugged. "I know. I know. It sounds just as stupid to me as it does to you. However, they might be able to retrace where they think they've been. I'm going to assign Sochi to the investigation. It'll give him something to focus on. While I'm more than willing to wring Tsunade by her neck right now, I know she won't send us off on account of some amnesiac spirits. Additionally, I'll be sending Yura with him. At this point, the last thing he needs is to be alone. With any luck, I can join the search since I can count for this as summoner duties. Besides, I too think I need some time away from the village, or at least Tsunade anyway. As for the rest of you, I imagine Tsunade will assign you to investigating the Jashin cult. Should you find yourselves in that mission then Yugao will be in charge. Everyone support her to the best of your abilities. Yugao, make use of any available resources at your disposal."
"Understood," Yugao returned.
A nod of her head, Kushina brushed her hands through her hair. "Alright, the team will be dismissed. You're all free to do as you like for today. Tomorrow, we'll return home. I want all of you gathered," she said.
"What about me?" Yuri asked with her head raised.
Kakashi smiled. "Well, I think someone has to prepare for her Chunin Exams. I believe it begins in one or two months. I'm sure they'll set you up with a few replacement genin and chunin since you don't exactly have a team for yourself," the one-eyed jonin answered.
Stunned, Yuri jumped up. "Ah! That's right! Ero-oji didn't even give me my reward dammit! Still, I was planning to go with Nii-chan on our journey. A male shinobi and kunoichi, banished from their homeland, braving the nations, elements, and themselves before they find each other dattebayen! Can I still hand in my resignation?" she asked.
Sasuke snorted, a smile on his face. "No, you can't. I should also stop spending your pay on those ridiculous romance novels," he replied.
"Now that's just mean, Sasuke!" Yuri fired back as the others laughed.
Kushina shook her head. "Please, no more talk about anyone getting banished or resigning. I've had enough of it for now. Everyone, enjoy the rest of your time off," Kushina said.
"Hai," the others said before they got up and started to go their own way.
Meanwhile, Kushina just sat in a chair, her head down. Minato, Kushina probably didn't have a right to consult you in her thoughts like she was doing, but she honestly wondered what you'd think of the fact that Konoha banished your son. The redhead leaned her head back. "What am I supposed to do?" she thought to herself as she closed her eyes.
Back at the Uzumaki Compound in Konoha, things weren't much better. "And we're just gonna let them fucking run him out of the village?! The fucker grew up here! He's the reason Konoha even has a fucking professional sealing team! Are they even allowed to do that?!" Tayuya asked angrily while the others gathered around.
"Watch your fucking language, Tayuya. We're all pissed off enough," Risa said, a scowl on her face as she sat in her chair.
Fuka, Guren, Yukimaru, Shi, Komachi, and the others sat around the living room, contemplating their current situation. "When I signed on to become a kunoichi here, it wasn't because I hold any particular attachment to this village. I was pretty close to destroying it after all. I came here to be with my family, not anyone else," Fuka said, brushing a piece of her hair as she did so.
"Alright, let's not give Konoha an even bigger reason to hate us. We already lost a few sponsorships and trade deals due to the destruction. The entire village is also in a bit of a lockdown. What we have to do now is not make tensions higher," Guren replied while the others slowly nodded.
Shi and Komachi glanced at each other, both slowly nodded. "The Hyuuga clan have also sent us their condolences. Hiashi-san is proposing to send Hinata and a few other Hyuuga under the guise of clan relations. Legally, the Hokage has no way to stop them under the Clan Charter issued from the time that the founding Kage had the first summit. However, I think everyone's going to know what it's about," Shi answered.
"Let them know then! We're not just gonna left them fuck us over continously, are we? Many of us aren't here because we discovered the Will of Fire or whatever these damn treehuggers call it. We came here to… have some fucking family ties! I don't know about any of you but I ain't ever going back to the life I used to have before this. I'd sooner roll over and die!" Tayuya fired back.
Risa leaned forward. "My dumbass daughter's mood aside, I'm inclined to agree. However, we can't act rash here. With Yura announcing her dismissal from the Konoha forces, some might take that as the clan distancing itself from the village. We also have to remember that Naruto worked very hard to change public opinion about him, and even that's only been recent. Who knows how much he's damaged it with this recent act. Besides, we might have to consider the fact that Konoha's right to keep tabs on us," she said.
Komachi frowned. "We've grown too powerful in too short a time," she said, echoing the thoughts of nearly everyone in the room.
"Ummm… is that not a good thing? If we're powerful, then we make Konoha more powerful right?" Yukimaru asked.
Guren patted his shoulder. "Indeed that would be true. However, there are many underlying politics in terms of clan strength and what that means in view of others. To many, the name Uzumaki wasn't even thought to be a noble name. After all, in Konoha, Naruto was our only representative and many despised him. However as more and more of us came, people started to remember the history of our clan. Two Uzumaki married two Hokage. Plus, the Uzumaki clan has slowly migrated itself back into the village. Since then we've risen to the ranks of not only a prestige clan, but a noble one. We were one of the founding members of the village, if indirectly. What we've accomplished in less than two years could take some at least ten or fifteen," she replied.
"So… we could be seen as amassing forces and, since Yura-nee left, that might mean we've grown powerful enough to not need Konoha anymore?" he asked.
Fuka chuckled. "More or less. It's usually the powerful clans that tend to be on the receiving end of scrutiny. First it was the Senju, then it was the Uchiha, and now it's the Uzumaki. How fitting that it's the village's founders that come under the most suspicion. In fact, many believe the Snju died out from being a mutation disease from being the only clan to produce the Wood Release. Some also speculate it was from a poison designed specifically to take them out. Either way, Konoha's founding clans don't have the best history," she answered.
"So what do we do then?" Shi asked.
Risa snorted. "We bite our teeth and wait to see how this thing falls out. Let's not rush into any rash decisions. Our actions will not only affect our clan, but the Hyuuga as well. We're all one clan now, sworn brothers and sisters. But if anyone fucking tries to mess with us, you've got my go-ahead to make them the tooth fairy's favorite visitor!" she replied.
Guren sighed. "Well, it's not like I don't understand their concerns. Naruto is very powerful. In fact, he might be one of the most powerful shinobi in the world. What can they do if they try to cross him? He can't die. He holds one of the most powerful beings as a summon. He also commands the dead, meaning his information network is technically the most powerful across the entire elemental nations. If it wasn't for his kind attitude, he could rule the entire world if he desired," the blue-haired kunoichi said.
Tayuya laughed. "Please, I've met a fucker who wanted to rule the world. Shithead ain't got it in him," the foul-mouth Uzumaki answered.
However, Shi narrowed his eyes. "Beware the fury of a patient man," the blond answered, his hands interlaced together. Naturally, Shi didn't believe someone like Naruto would go down such a vengeful path, but he'd seen many good men lose their way to their own lust and greed for power.
"As our resident poet said, let's hope we never have to find out which of you is right. Anyway, I'll be going. Have dinner without me, I'll be home late," Guren said as she stood up and started to walk away.
Fuka and Risa smiled. "Tell Kotetsu-san we said hello!" The latter said.
"Shut up!" she hollered back from down the hall.
The others laughed before Fuka got serious. "Well, all this talk of the village, I might as well state some other matters. You won't see me for a little while. I've been assigned to the mission investigating the Jashinists that somehow infiltrated our compound. I'll try to get back in time for Yuri's chunin exams, but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. In any case, keep your guard up," she said as she walked away as well.
"Then in that case, it's time for Yukimaru-kun's training tonight. We'll review the taijutsu, ninjutsu, and genjutsu courses. Komachi-san, I'd like your instruction as well," Shi said.
"Ah… understood," The blonde replied before she stood up with the former. Yukimaru nodded diligently and followed them away.
This left Tayuya with her mother. "It's not gonna fucking stop with just this, is it?" she asked.
Risa grumbled and threw off her headband. "No, I don't think it is. If it isn't, we're gonna have to fucking take some measures of our own. I still haven't forgotten the way Konoha abandoned us to the other nations. Nothing is going to separate my family this time!" the redhead said with a scowl before she stood up and walked off with her daughter as well.
Jiraiya stared down at Konoha with a burdened heart. They say a shinobi shouldn't form attachments, those attachments keep them from making the best decisions for the sake of the village. The Sannin knew that. It was probably why even he'd been able to threaten Tsunade, the woman he loved with all his heart, to sway her from turning to Orochimaru. He hadn't allowed his attachment to get the better of him.
However, he couldn't say it didn't now. When he looked down at Konoha, he remembered his teacher, Sarutobi, and his student, Namikaze Minato. Both of them died for their village. They were the model example for Konoha shinobi. No matter how much it pained them, they made the hard choices. They made the choices that no one else would. They made the choices… that no one else could. Perhaps, that was what made them Kage material.
"Sarutobi-sensei, Minato, what am I supposed to do?" Jiraiya thought to himself.
He remembered the small stories Sarutobi had of Naruto. A boy with strong feet on the ground and a sharp head in the clouds. Indeed, he wasn't the brightest bulb of the case, but he always seemed to shine for longer when others fizzled out. Minato always said he somehow got the feeling, whenever he touched Kushina's stomach, that there was an inexplicable warmth in there. Something that always made someone who touched it happy.
Truth be told, Jiraiya felt bad for not being there to raise Naruto. As Kushina said, he and Tsunade promised to be his godparents. Both had failed in their duties. True, Tsunade's circumstances were a bit more… complicated than his own, but that didn't necessarily excuse her or him.
However, Jiraiya couldn't take Naruto. His work was too dangerous. He had plenty of enemies. Not as many as Minato, but a few troublesome ones. Additionally, he did have his spy network to maintain. That network involved a lot of unsavory men and women, people who a young boy shouldn't be around. Plus, Naruto held the Kyuubi. Konoha wouldn't have allowed him out of the village anyway.
Still, the fact remained that Jiraiya knew he could have done better. However, as much as he loved Naruto, he loved Konoha more. It was his home. His friends, their friends, their friends' friends, and all their families were interwoven together. Each one seemed to expound upon the last. In the end, the whole village was one big family.
Sometimes families fight. Sometimes family members don't like either other. Sometimes family members… do terrible things to each other. However, in the end, they all try to tolerate each other, growing and strengthening their bonds. To Jiraiya, that was what a village was. That was the Will of Fire, something to be passed down to the next generation. No single family member was more important than the others. Even… even those Jiraiya might love more.
The Old Toad Sage once said that the person he'd train would either save the world or destroy it. At first, Jiraiya thought that might be Nagato. Now, he wondered if it was Naruto. If it was the latter, then clearly he'd messed up. Such terrible things were coming to not just Konoha, but all the Elemental Nations.
Still, how much could one trust in a prophecy? They were never absolute. However, the fact that this news came from The Great Toad Sage was very concerning. He was known for having very accurate prophecies.
"To save Konoha, we'll have to kill it's most beloved Hokage's son. He's also a very powerful asset as well. At the very least, I'll need to speak to Tsunade about this," Jiraiya thought to himself as he surveyed the destruction caused by Naruto.
He'd heard that his student had been banished because of the destructive nature of his new powers. While he was still a little sore over the contract with the toads being removed, he would never wish Naruto to be banished. Especially not now.
Sigh, for once perhaps the Gama Sennin was the one who really needed a drink instead of his former teammate. He slumped his shoulders. "Tsunade's not gonna like this." Jiraiya thought before he entered the village.
The Sannin always liked entering the village at nighttime. In fact, he sometimes wished the sun would never rise just so he could travel the village when it was dark. For one, the ladies liked to enjoy their baths at night. It provided great cover. He'd seen many sights and gotten a lot of good research out of his ordeals.
The second was because he enjoyed looking at the night lights. The entire village seemed to come alive with the voices of laughter and merriment. It reminded him of just what he was fighting for. He fought for all those people down there. Indeed, some of them probably didn't deserve it, but… that's what it meant to be a loyal follower to your own way.
Jiraiya landed on the ledge of the Hokage's window. He leaned against the wall. He heard talking inside. From what he heard, it sounded like Tsunade was talking to her apprentice, that Haruno girl.
"Am I really expected to believe that, Tsunade-sama?"
"Whether you believe it or not is on your own terms, Sakura. However, I've seen you working with Councilwoman Koharu. Now, what you do in your free time is on you. However, you are entering a place you're not ready for. Politics are not something you should get involved in. It doesn't suit your temperament, Sakura. Yes, these are why there have been strange happenings around the village. Now, even you know the value of discretion. The only reason I'm even bringing this forward to you is because Naruto felt you should know as his former teammate. Now keep in mind, Sakura, this is a very important secret. If I learn that you've spoken with anyone outside of authorized personnel, then I'll make you wish you stayed in the dark," Tsunade threatened.
Jiraiya chuckled, leaning his head against the wall. Yeah, learning Naruto had a contract with the Shinigami would indeed turn a lot of heads. In fact, many were still suspicious of him.
"I… I understand, Tsunade-sama. However, if he does have one then why doesn't he simply raise up every Uzumaki or every Uchiha who ever died? He could even bring back the Senju clan!" Sakura exclaimed.
Tsunade sighed. "It's not that easy, Sakura. Think of how all the other nations would feel if Konoha suddenly got three of the strongest clans in history back in their walls. That would already tip the scales of the nations against us. Remember, we have treaties with Suna, Kiri, and Kumo, but none of these are destined to last forever. We also have an only… manageable relationship with Iwa. I've got no delusions that many of them still harbor a hatred for Minato and what he did in the Third Great Shinobi War. Besides, even if we did do that, I have no doubt that it would throw the entire world into chaos. Imagine what will happen if they learn of Naruto doing this. He'll quite literally become the most important person in the whole damn world, higher than me, higher than the other four Kage. Think of what people will do when they learn what he's capable of," Tsunade said.
Jiraiya took notice of the silence for a little while.
"Alright, I can understand that, but Tsunade-sama, you can't actually agree with this whole… incest thing. It's disgusting! In fact, it should be outlawed! I'm not saying imprison Naruto, but get him some damn help! Even Sasuke-kun's doing it!" Sakura exclaimed.
Tsunade sighed. "That's easier said than done, Sakura. True, I'm not… entirely settled on the idea myself, but it'd be easier if Naruto and Kushina were just civilians like you and your family are. If they were, I could, with the authority of the Hokage, put a stop to the act. However, as part of the Clan Charters, I cannot intervene in private matters of the clans unless it directly contradicts my power as the Hokage. Also, it's their business. They understand the social stigma if such a thing is revealed. No one is saying you have to accept their decision, but make sure you respect it. There are more men out there than just Sasuke, Sakura. If you spend your life chasing your dream, you'll find you left the real world behind. Believe me, I know. You're dismissed," the Godaime said.
Jiraiya heard nothing for a moment before the door closed.
"Alright, you perv. What do you want?" Tsunade asked.
"Still as aware as ever," Jiraiya said before he opened the door and slipped inside.
"Well, I just had to see my favorite princess in all of Konoha. Apprentice giving you trouble?" he asked while the blonde Kage shuffled some papers.
"Her and the whole damn team. I swear I don't know how Kakashi lived as long as he did taking care of those troublemakers," she answered.
Jiraiya chuckled for a moment before he leaned against the wall, the pregnant pause allowing both of them to gather their thoughts. "I received another vision from the Great Toad Sage. Tsunade, I saw what became of the village. You have to reverse the banishment order. We need to detain Naruto in the village. If we don't… we're going to regret it. That's all I'll say," he said.
Tsunade stopped writing for a moment. She looked at her former teammate. "Well, that's not ominous. Care to give me something more concrete?" she asked.
"I could barely give you that. Don't ask for the impossible. Well, if you want a better description. What happened in Konoha… will be a hundred times worse to every nation," Jiraiya claimed.
Now that got Tsunade's attention. She looked up and stared into the eyes of her former teammate. He looked at her seriously, nodding his head. "Jiraiya…" she warned.
"I know, but we have to look at the worst case scenario. Also the Great Toad Sage has been known to have accurate prophecies," the Sannin said.
Tsunade hummed. "Yeah, just like this Child of Prophecy you've been talking about. First, you thought it was the Ame orphan, then you thought it was Minato, next you're going to tell me it might be Naruto. As far as I've seen, I don't see any child of prophecy yet," Tsunade said.
Jiraiya sighed. "If only we could all see the future, Hime. Look, I don't want it to be Naruto either. Brat's given me some damn good material to work with and he's my student's son. Additionally, we're still on Kushina's bad side. You probably more so than I after that whole debacle with the banishment. However, we can't sit still. If something like that happens again, we'll need to form countermeasures. Have you forgotten that he also holds the Kyuubi? Imagine what will happen if we're not ready," the Toad Sannin stated.
Tsunade stiffened. No, she had not forgotten. "Tell you what, how about you meet up with him? You two haven't seen each other for a little while and you need a break from investigating the Akatsuki. You're closest with him and I don't think he'd want to see me right now. I pretty much just slammed the door on his dream and buried it. You can monitor him and we'll remain in constant communication," she said.
Jiraiya sighed. "Yeah, well, I don't really know where he is right now. I was gone when you made that banishment order," he answered back.
Tsunade leaned back in her chair, rolling her shoulders. "He's probably in the Land of Eddies. It's the most likely place to be since I banished him. I don't know if he'll stay there though," she said.
Jiraiya sighed. "Well, I guess I'll head out first thing in the morning. So, when do you get off?" he asked.
"Shut up and get out. I've got no reason to go to bars since I'd quit the fucking sake. At least there's no more morning headaches," she said.
Though Tsunade didn't see it, there was a frown on Jiraiya's face. When she looked up, it was gone. "Oh well, no rest for the weary I guess. See you later, Hime!" The Sannin said before heading out the window.
Tsunade just sighed and put her head in her hands. That fucking brat. Why did everything involving him have to be so damn complicated?
Kushina sighed as she stood outside the door to the bedroom shared by her and her son. Yura had long left and he'd been alone ever since. It was like her son to mope. Then again, today proved to be a lot more stressful than most.
The fiancee of Uzumaki Naruto opened the door and she saw her son at his study desk. "Sochi, what are you doing?" she asked.
Naruto turned around. He smiled at his mother while she noticed a piece of paper on his desk. "Well as they say, Kaa-chan, time waits for no man. I decided to help Haku in catching up with some of the paperwork we've no doubt left for her. It's a little boring, but it's gotta get done. It's also given me some time to think about everything.
"So what have you done?" she asked, taking a piece of paper.
"Well, I collected the local taxes from the businesses that have started appearing. I've also signed off on some building sites that I know will be amiable places to live. I also authorized the construction of an academy, one for shinobi and one for civilians," he said.
Kushina frowned. "You know we're not in the business of training people, Sochi," she said.
Naruto nodded. "True, but I'm looking at this as more than just us, Kaa-chan. Most of the men and women here don't know how to fight. We've already been nearly invaded by Akatsuki at least two times. Our home isn't impregnable. We're going to need to defend it and there aren't enough of us to do so. Besides, I don't want the people being spooked or scared if I'm summoning ghosts and other spirits to protect the island. I'm also a little… wary to be doing so anyway. This is a good alternative. Besides, it'd do well to expand our clan's reach into other affairs," he said.
Kushina blinked. "Who are you and what did you do with my stupid son?"
The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki laughed. He then lunged for his mother, making her yelp before her firm ass sat on his lap. "Oh he's still here, Kushina. I'm just… trying to live up to expectations as the Head of the Uzumaki Clan, and as your soon-to-be husband," he answered.
The female Uzumaki's heart swooned for a moment or two before she caressed his face. "You're sexy when you try to talk smart, dattebane," she said before she kissed on the lips.
Her son reciprocated the affection, enjoying his mother's taste before they parted. "Yeah, well, I try dattebayo," he said before his mother picked up another form.
"And just who's going to pay for all of these renovations?" she asked.
Naruto sighed and nodded. "Well, Shion's temple brought in a lot of income and I've also called in some favors. I remember Kazehana-san, Toki-san, and Haruna-san from some of my days back on Team Seven. All three of them offered to help pay for the island's development in exchange for partnering with the island in terms of technology," he said.
"Isn't this technically illegal?" she asked.
Her son smiled. "Technically no. The island isn't exactly owned by the Uzumaki. We were just the first settlers there. Haku's the Daimyo. She has her say in what the island does and doesn't do. Besides, this helps Hinoken's cover as most won't expect Konoha to come back here. However, I assume this wasn't why you came to me tonight?" he asked.
Kushina pinched his cheek. "Oh, so I need a reason to see you? You've grown a little too pretentious as of late!" she said before he silenced her with another kiss. Her resolve then melted away.
Grumbling, the Uzumaki woman spoke. "I take it your spirits told you about Danzo?" she asked.
Naruto stopped writing and frowned. "Yeah, never seen anything like it. Memory loss for spirits, who'd have thunk it?" he replied back, shifting from one form to the next.
Kushina stopped his writing and pulled his eyes to her. "Due to your… banishment, I want you to investigate Danzo. Yura will go with you. Try and find out what happened and maybe investigate why your spirits lost their memories. Also, I'll be sending Chiriku-san with you. He'll be mentoring you during your trip. Whatever's wrong with you, we need to find it," she said.
Naruto's smile faltered for a moment, though he tried to keep it up. "And what about you guys?" he asked, his tone notably lower.
"We'll be going back to Konoha. I've authorized Yugao to look into the Jashinists that broke into our home. Sochi, please tell me if there's anything that's bothering you," Kushina said earnestly, almost a little vulnerable. For there to be something evil of her son that she hadn't recognized didn't sit well with her.
Unfortunately, Naruto shook his head. "I don't know, Kaa-chan. I really don't. Being with all of you has made me the happiest I've ever been. I can't think of a single moment where I thought otherwise. I love you. I love you so much," he said.
Despite herself, Kushina sighed blissfully. "I love you too, Sochi," the redhead answered as she leaned her head on her son's neck while Naruto continued to work. The two Uzumaki stayed in their room, silently holding each other's hands until the hours grew long into the night.
KG: No, not the longest chapter, but it's a start. I realize I'll have quite a lot to make up for. It's thanks to a certain someone that really forced me to come back and finish this up. For their privacy, I won't name them, but they know who they are. It's also because of them that I've decided to not work on any other fanfic until this one is done. Now, it's been a few years. If some people aren't where they should be, then I apologize for that. Also, I won't lie. I've forgotten a few intersecting plots. I'll do my best to remember them to the best of my ability. Thank you.