Disclaimer: "Insert Persona 5 reference here that corresponds to not owning the rights to Naruto here"
Announcement: So, the user "Author of Purpose" messaged me and told me that he commissioned a YouTube Channel, Goomba Guy Videos, to do a reading of my fanfic on his YouTube channel, like an audiobook almost. It's set to get put on YouTube sometime at the end of the month! If you all have a chance when it's posted, check it out! I'll probably make another announcement that it is :P I just wanted to draw attention to it, cause I'm really honored that it was commissioned like that! Thanks Author of Purpose! :)
Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled update!
"Oi Kakuzu, the hell are we doing?" Hidan shouted.
Kakuzu did not immediately reply to his teammate. The former Taki shinobi led him to a large, empty lake in Taki no Kuni. The water was crystal clear. However, despite the sun setting in the sky above, the water did not reflect the sunlight at all. Kakuzu proceeded to walk forward towards the edge of the lake and lifted his right hand into a seal.
Instantly, a genjutsu was dispelled, revealing a brown, wooden bridge that connected to a little island in the middle of the lake. On the center of the island was a one-story building. Kakuzu proceeded to walk towards the building, with Hidan following behind.
"Hey asshole, answer my question!" Hidan hissed. "What the fuck are we doing here? And what is this unholy place anyway."
"It's a small bar located deep within this country, only privy to those missing ninja who frequent this area. I meet with a few 'bounty collectors' here when I have a bounty to turn in from time to time." Kakuzu answered. "However, that's not why I'm here. I'm familiar with a shinobi who tends to come here and I'm expecting him to be here."
Hidan scowled, seemingly displeased with Kakuzu's answer, but said nothing. He followed his partner and entered the bar.
The inside of the bar was rather crammed, with people filling up any seats at the bar. A lot of them were laughing and making crude jokes and comments while they drowned themselves in sake. Hidan noticed the various 'forehead protectors' that the patrons wore and noticed they all had been slashed. All people inside the bar were missing shinobi.
Kakuzu's eyes scanned the bar until they focused on a group of four people sitting at a table. The first was a man who wore a forehead protector for Amegakure that was worn like a bandana, showing only a little bit of his brown hair. He wore a black suit that covered his entire body, going up to his face like a mask, and wore a white t-shirt over his suit. Next to him was a slender-looking woman with short, spiky brown hair that wore a pink top that seemingly only covered her breasts, a light blue shirt over it that was open, only covering really covering her arms, and a pair of blue pants. Next to her was a muscular-looking man that wore a black sleeveless shirt, grey pants, and brown arm warmers. His Amegakure forehead protector was worn over his chin-length grey hair that and he had a teal face-paint marking over his nose.
The three shinobi were all drinking sake on one side of the table. On the other side was a fourth person. He was a man with long, spiky black hair; he had to wear a yellow bandana to keep his hair from his face. The man wore a blue jacket and grey pants. He had a bottle of sake on the table, but he was not drinking. His right hand was rubbing the goatee on his face in contemplation.
Kakuzu walked forward towards the table: "Suien. It's been a long time."
The man, Suien, turned his attention towards Kakuzu. His eyes widened momentarily, recognizing the man. The three shinobi at his table also stopped drinking and turned their attention towards him.
"Kakuzu." He acknowledged the man's name with a slight chuckle. "When's the last time you stepped foot in this neck of the woods?"
"A while." Kakuzu answered. He gestured to Hidan, who proceeded to walk forward: "This is my associate, Hidan. I would like to know if you're interested in a business deal."
"Hmm… I suppose I should introduce my associates. The three shinobi sitting with me are Kirisame, Hisame, and Murasame. They're all gifted Ame missing ninja that work for me." Suien stated. The three shinobi nodded their head in acknowledgment after being introduced. "What business deal are we talking about?"
Kakuzu reached into his cloak and proceeded to pull out a briefcase. He set the briefcase down on their table, knocking over Suien's drink. A scowl developed on the man's face, but before he could say anything, Kakuzu opened the briefcase, revealing it to be filled with money.
"Interesting…" Suien rubbed his goatee contemplatively. "I'm assuming this is your part of the deal. What do you wish for me to do?"
"I would like you and your associates to accompany Hidan and I." Kakuzu said. "We are heading to Taki."
"Taki?" The man repeated the village's name with a scowl. "I'm surprised you'd want to go back there. You must have some important business there or something."
"You could say that." Kakuzu shrugged. "Regardless, we'll be entering the village. We have an objective and it would be greatly appreciated if you and your 'associates' could cause some damage around the village to create a distraction."
"That would be possible." Suien crossed his arms. "I actually hired these three with me for an invasion on Taki that I planned about three years ago, in addition to the hundreds of other loyal shinobi I have working with me. The plan was put on hold due to some complications, but," Suien's face turned into a malicious-looking scowl, "I suppose this little 'trip' could be useful for us as well. Alright. We'll help with that."
Hidan watched Kakuzu and Suien proceed to discuss more things about the 'mission'. He watched the former Taki shinobi give the briefcase over to the man before heading towards the door to the bar. Hidan followed right behind, a confused look on his face.
"The hell do we need those fuckers for?" He questioned.
"Insurance policy. Pain-sama wants us to get the Nanabi jinchūriki, but not draw too much attention to our presence unless we are forced to do so. I'm 'hiring' Suien to assist in creating some chaos in the village while we complete our task. There's a high possibility that, timing this correctly, Taki will blame her disappearance on him." Kakuzu explained as he proceeded to chuckle. "He's a missing ninja from Taki as well who hates that shithole village as well. I knew he'd be more than willing to assist with this."
"Hmm…" Hidan crossed his arms, giving his partner a confused look. "Can't believe you actually parted with all that money, though."
"I'll get it back. I'm certain they'll die; I'll just collect the briefcase from Suien's body when the mission is over." He replied with a shrug. "Regardless of if I do or do not get it back, I would just like to ensure some chaos in Taki. Even though we will capture the jinchūriki, I would like for the village to suffer."
"Heh." The 'Jashin worshipper' proceeded to laugh as he stared at his partner. "I've never seen you this vengeful, Kakuzu. You seem to want the village to really feel the effects of our mission."
"Oh, I do." A large, malicious grin developed behind his mask. "I will not jeopardize this mission. "However, if I could accomplish anything while I'm here, I would love to burn Takigakure down to the ground, along with every person in it."
A similar grin developed on Hidan's face. It was the first time the man had learned something about Kakuzu that interested him. He was quite pleased with Kakuzu's desires for Taki's destruction… and he was more than willing to help in any way he could.
"And we made it." Anko said cheerfully.
It took two days of uneventful travel before Team Three finally arrived at a large lake. There was a mountain range next to the lake that had a waterfall falling into the lake. A large tree could be seen behind the mountain. The surrounding area was colored with green trees and beautiful flowers.
"It looks so beautiful out here…" Hinata said with a smile.
"Tell me about it." Naruto nodded his head in agreement. His eyes focused on the waterfall for a moment before he turned his attention to Anko. "So, do you know how to get into the village?"
"No." She replied with a chuckle. "We got to wait a moment."
Shikamaru's eyebrow rose slightly: "For?"
Anko shrugged her shoulders as she looked around the area: "Well, whoever is on guard duty at Taki has to sense our presence by now. We just have to wait for them to reveal themselves and let us in."
Her former students nodded their heads in understanding. The group waited at the lake for nearly a minute before a shinobi appeared on the center of the lake. It was a tall, skinny man with shaggy red hair. He wore a black long-sleeve jacket with a red checkered pattern on it and a pair of dark red pants that resembled the color of blood. A scythe was attached to the man's back. He wore a pair of goggles over his eyes and had the Takigakure forehead protector over his neck.
"Mitarashi Anko, Uzumaki Naruto, Hyūga Hinata, and Nara Shikamaru." The man stated their names.
"Hmm? He knows our names?" Naruto blinked in surprise.
"He was probably running a background check on us before coming up to us. Probably looked us up in the Bingo Book." Shikamaru informed him.
Naruto's eyes widened. He had never even thought that he might be a shinobi in the Bingo Book. It made sense now that he would be in the Bingo Book, but he had never thought about it before. A small smirk developed on his lips as he chuckled: 'It's probably not the best thing to be in it… but I guess it's proof that I have come a long way since I've started!'
"You're Kariudo Zagi, right?" Anko questioned the man. "Taki's Jōnin Commander?"
"I am." The man nodded his head. "What business do you four have with Taki?"
"We are here on behalf of Konoha and I am here also representing Kiri." Anko said as she pulled out her two scrolls, showing seals that represented the Hokage and the Mizukage. "We were instructed to deliver these to Shibuki and converse with him about its contents."
"Oh?" Zagi's eyes narrowed slightly. "And I am assuming you four need to be let into the village. You would not be able to hand them over to me to deliver to Shibuki?"
The Snake Summoner shook her head: "No. This is for the eyes of Shibuki, only."
He nodded his head in understanding as he walked forward towards them. He reached into his jacket and proceeded to pull out four dark-red bandanas.
"Tie these around your eyes, if you would please." The man stated.
"Huh?" Naruto blinked in confusion. "Why?"
"I will allow you four into Taki, but I am not allowing any of you to see the entrance into the village. You will allow me to direct you into it." He replied. "My apologies, but this is the rules of my village. No foreign shinobi will ever be given the knowledge to enter our clan." His eyes proceeded to narrow in on Hinata. "I trust you will not use your Byakugan. I am an adept chakra sensor, so I will know if you activate your dōjutsu and I will take such an activation as an aggression."
"I understand. You have my word that I will not use my Byakugan." Hinata replied.
"And we have your word you're going to do no harm to us?" Shikamaru questioned.
"Naturally." The Taki jōnin scoffed. "I would not do something so stupid as to harm you all, especially if you have a message from your Hokage."
The Konoha shinobi accepted the bandanas and tied them around their eyes. They were then escorted one-at-a-time towards the lake.
Naruto was the last to be escorted. He felt Zagi's hand guiding him into the water. Before he knew it, his body was submerged in the water. The blonde closed his mouth and began to hold his breath as he felt Zagi move his body through the underwater.
After a few seconds, the Uzumaki felt himself submerge from the water. Zagi continued to escort him forward until he was no longer in the water. He then felt the man reach for his bandana and untie it. With his eyes now exposed, the blonde proceeded to look around the village in amazement.
"Whoa…" He mumbled to himself.
The village of Takigakure was somehow even more colorful than the surrounding area; various trees and flowers were scattered across the village streets. The lake that he had come out from was splashing alongside the shore of the village and was just as clear as the lake on the outside. The buildings were very colorful, and people walked down the streets cheerfully, shinobi and civilians alike. Each person appeared to be in a good mood, which seemed to add to color of the village; the village felt alive in a way that Naruto had never seen before.
His eyes moved up from the street and noticed the large tree that seemed to eclipse everything. The tree must have gone hundreds of feet up into the sky and the entire village was seemingly built around it. Its branches extended outward and its leaves created spots of shade across the village. Naruto's eyes traveled from the top of the tree downward back to the streets. He now noticed that brown roots were scattered on certain parts of the street.
"I've never seen such a beautiful village before!" Hinata stated in amazement. Her eyes were focused intently on the large tree.
"It is breathtaking, isn't it?" Zagi commented with a chuckle. "This is a peaceful village that has never been invaded by any enemy shinobi; something that no other shinobi nation can say. The natural beauty has never once been disturbed."
"Your entire village is built on the roots of that large tree, correct?" Shikamaru questioned. "I'm impressed that the village was able to be built on such a foundation!"
"I'm glad you feel that way." Zagi continued to chuckle. He seemed to be in a much better mood. He waved his hand and smiled at the Konoha shinobi. "Anyway, please follow me. I will escort you to Shibuki-sama's residence."
The members of Team Three nodded as they followed the man through the streets of Takigakure.
"Hey, did you hear? There's some foreign shinobi here in Taki!"
"Since when? How long have they been here?"
"They just got here! I just saw Zagi-sama escorting them. They must be visiting Shibuki-sama! They're from Konoha!"
"Konoha shinobi, huh? That's so cool! I hope you really like our village!"
"Yeah, I hope so too. If they don't interact much with her, they should love the place!"
"True. Ugh, I think I see her now. Hopefully she doesn't notice their presence and goes back to her home. It would be a disaster if she ruins the image of our beautiful village!"
A girl with mint-green hair, orange eyes, and a rather tan, almost caramel, skin complexion walked down the streets of Takigakure. The girl was wearing a white sleeveless shirt that showed off her midriff, white armlets on both arms, and a white skirt. She had some sort of object in red wrapping that she carried on her back and a Takigakure forehead protector was visible on her right arm.
Civilians were chatting to each other on a bench in front of a café, glaring at the kunoichi as she walked down the path, minding her business. They spoke quietly, but she could hear them. A scowl developed on her lips as she shook her head.
"Why do I fucking bother coming out of home nowadays?" She grumbled to herself as she pocketed her hands in a pocket on her skirt. "They hate me. I hate them. I swear to God, I need to go on a mission soon."
"You should ask Shibuki for a mission, Fū." A voice spoke in her head.
The kunoichi, Fū, seemed to scoff in response: "As if. He's been a pain in the ass recently about me going on missions out of the village. He'll find some excuse, just like he always does. Which is funny, cause he's not the one who-"
"Ugh, she's talking to herself. Must be chatting with that demon bug in her head!" A civilian stated, loud enough for her to hear.
Fū shook her head. She proceeded to cross her arms as she looked up towards the village entrance; towards the lake and towards mountain. With a sigh, she brought her hands together.
"'Living here is pain alone, And now I can take no more; In a mountain hamlet, Where I must gather kindling, I would make my home'." Fū spoke softly, almost as if she were singing. When she finished, a smile developed her lips. "What do you think, Chōmei?"
"I liked it! However, it was a little too… um… what's the word…" The voice, Chōmei, continued to speak. "… Whiny? Is that appropriate to say?"
"… No, it kinda is." Fū grumbled, shaking her head. "I'll fix the wording again. Make it sound more poetic and less whiny."
The kunoichi was about to start continue walking when a thought occurred to her; she recalled the initial conversation she had overheard from the civilians about the arrival of Konoha shinobi. A smile developed on her face as she stared to turn around and walk towards Shibuki's Mansion.
"I'll work on the poem later. For now, I'm going to go see Shibuki after all and maybe get a chance to meet some of those Konoha shinobi!" She said cheerfully.
"Not a bad idea." Chōmei responded back. "Who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky with them! Maybe they'll be kind, fun people."
"I mean, they shouldn't immediately know about me being a jinchūriki. They should at least be sorta polite to me." Fū said with a sigh. "But we'll see I guess!"
With that thought, the mint-green haired shinobi proceeded to walk down the village streets.
After Zagi had escorted the shinobi into Shibuki's Mansion, the team was escorted to a large open room. There was no furniture in the room: no tables, chairs, or desks. The only items in the room were blue-colored floor mats, with a darker-blue raised floormat in the center of the room.
Kneeling on the raised floormat was the leader of Takigakure. Shibuki was a young man with long brown hair that was tied into a ponytail and black eyes. He wore a yellow kimono jacket, grey pants, a turquoise haori, and a red scarf.
The members of Team Three all bowed their heads at the young man as they proceeded to kneel on the floormats across from him. A small, gentle smile developed on the leader's lips as he looked at them.
"I hope your travel here was well and free from hardships." Shibuki told the group.
"It was an easy journey here." Anko spoke. "Your village is beautiful."
"I have never seen a village like this before. It is amazing!" Naruto added with a grin.
"I'm pleased to hear that." Shibuki chuckled in response. He brought his hands together as he turned to specifically address Anko. His smile remained present, but his eyes narrowed slightly. "If you do not mind me asking, did Hokage-sama have something he wished to discuss?"
"Not just the Hokage. I have a message from Mei-sama." Anko added as she reached into her jacket and pulled out her two scrolls. She walked forward and set the scrolls down on the ground next to the Takigakure leader. "Please; give them a read."
Shibuki nodded his head as he reached for them. He proceeded to read the one written by the Hokage first. His eyes widened as he quickly read its content. He finished quickly and then proceeded to open the Mizukage's scroll as well. His eyes widened again.
The young man remained quiet as he finished reading. He placed both scrolls on the ground and brought his hands together, closing his eyes, as if in deep thought.
"… I've heard rumors of this Akatsuki." He finally spoke. "News of their freelance mercenary work spread. They ended up acquiring a decent portion of A and S Rank missions that could have gone to a shinobi village such as Taki's." A frown proceeded to develop on his lips. "I… was unaware that Kakuzu was a member. I was also unaware that they were interested in the jinchūriki."
"This is what both Jiraiya-sama and Mei-sama wished for you to know." Anko said as she crossed her arms. "Taki has always been an ally of Konoha, but in the event we do go after Akatsuki, we would like to potentially have the backup of your village. Kiri also wishes to enter the same alliance."
"I am completely fine with strengthening the relationship with my village and both Konoha and Kiri." Shibuki nodded his head. A small sigh escaped his lips as he focused back to the letter of the Mizukage. "I… would also be willing to allow you all to meet with our jinchūriki. I'm a little disturbed that you know Fū's name, to be entirely honest. Her identity has been preserved well in our village."
"That ultimately is a good thing for her; hopefully Akatsuki does not have the best of info about her." Shikamaru spoke-up, frowning as well. "However, it's very likely that they do know. It definitely will benefit you to let her know about the organization."
"I'll be having a long talk with her." Shibuki's frown deepened. "I haven't sent her recently on a lot of missions outside of the village, but I know for certain that I will not be able to for a little bit."
"You haven't?" Naruto asked. "Why?"
"It's… a personal story. I'd rather not elaborate much." The leader said with a sigh. "Regardless, you are all more than welcome to stay in the village and I would encourage you all to meet Fū. She's a bit of a handful at times with her pranks, but she means well. She's a very bright person and one of the strongest shinobi our village has produced in years."
"Ooh, a prankster?" A grin started to develop on Naruto's face. "I'd like to see what she's capable of!"
Before Shibuki could finish his statement, the door to his office was busted open. All shinobi turned their attention to the entrance. Fū was standing there, her hands extended outward after slamming the door open. She then brought her hands behind her head as she walked into the room.
"Shibuki, are these the Konoha shinobi that came to the village?" She asked. "I heard there were a few here and I wanted to see what they're like."
"Well, this is convenient timing." Shibuki chuckled as he gestured towards the girl. "This right here is Fū."
Fū's eyes moved towards the Konoha shinobi. Her eyes moved from Anko to Hinata to Shikamaru before settling onto Naruto. The moment her eyes stared at the blonde, she heard Chōmei's voice booming in her head, which caused her eyes to widen.
"That's Kurama! Kurama is here!" The bijū shouted. "I knew I sensed a familiar presence, but I wanted to make sure! Ah, that's my big brother! Today's a lucky day Fū! You get to meet Kurama's jinchūriki!"
"I…" Fū brought her hands to her head to drown-out the noise in her mind. Chōmei was speaking too loud and fast for her to fully process his words. "It's nice to meet you all…"
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto, and these are my friends – Hyūga Hinata, Nara Shikamaru, and Mitarashi Anko. Nice to meet you." Naruto said, smiling while waving at her. "It's always nice to meet a fellow jinchūriki."
"Jinchūriki?" Fū repeated the word in surprise. Her mind then slowly replayed Chōmei's words, which caused her eyes to widen. "Y-You don't mean-"
"Please, sit down for a moment, Fū." Shibuki spoke-up. "We have a lot to discuss with you."
With a silent nod of her head, Fū proceeded to walk over to a mat next to Naruto and took a seat.
Team Three and Shibuki finished going over the details on Akatsuki with Fū. The Nanabi jinchūriki remained quiet as she processed everything that had been said. Once the explanation had finished, silence filled the office room. It was finally broken when a long sigh escaped Fū's lips.
"I… see." She mumbled, bringing her hands together. "So, they're trying to hunt me down… and no one knows why?"
"We don't know." Anko admitted with a frown. "But it's all gonna be good. We've fought off Akatsuki members before; it's possible to fight them! We just… felt it would be best for you to know about them."
"Well, I appreciate that. Although I already knew that there were people who already wanted to kill me cause of my jinchūriki status." Fū said, sighing once again. "But this group is definitely seeming more serious than what I'm used to. I'm going to have to step up my training."
"Definitely." Naruto nodded his head in agreement as he gave her a thumb-up. "Maybe we can train too!"
Fū redirected her attention back to Naruto. A smile developed on her lips as she clapped her hands together, staring at him: "So, you are a jinchūriki as well, huh?" Her smile turned into a large grin. "You're only the second I met, and I literally only just met Utakata a little bit ago. This is so cool!"
"Heh." Naruto rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I've met Utakata as well, and a few others. I know Gaara, Han-nii, Old Man Rōshi, and-" Remembering Yagura's 'status', Naruto stopped himself from saying anything about him and started to grin at her again. "Yeah, I've met a couple of them!"
"Lucky! I'd love to meet more of our kind." She said. Her head then titled sideways as she looked at Naruto in confusion. "Question; does your bijū talk a lot? Chōmei is always talking in my head and I do appreciate the company, it's sometimes kinda annoying."
"WOW! That's so rude of you!" Chōmei grumbled in the kunoichi's head, which caused her to giggle.
"Nah, the Kyūbi is pretty quiet." Naruto said with a chuckle. "He only really speaks when spoken to, or whenever he feels like he has something he needs to say."
"For what it's worth, I do pity this girl for having Chōmei sealed in her." Kurama, on cue, proceeded to speak in Naruto's mind. "That beetle never shuts up. It's always yammering on about how lucky it is and shit. He's nice in small doses but can get exhausting after a while."
"Are you able to channel the bijū's chakra?" Shikamaru asked. "Naruto's able to channel the Kyūbi's chakra pretty easily after his training."
"I… can. I'm not particularly good at controlling too much of his strength, but I can control probably five tails worth of chakra?" Fū shrugged her shoulders.
"That's still a very impressive feat!" Hinata said with a smile. "You must be a really strong shinobi!"
"Thanks!" Fū smiled back at her, rubbing underneath her nose. She was about to say something, but an idea entered her head. She quickly spun around in place and turned to face Shibuki. "Hey, Shibuki, do you have a place for them to stay? How long are they here?"
"Um…" The Takigakure leader brought his hands together. "I'm in no rush to kick them out. They can stay for a couple of days, but no arrangements have been made yet-"
"Then it's decided. For as long as you guys are here, you're all staying at my place!" Fū declared as she proceeded to stand-up. "Come on! Let me show where it is!"
"Huh?" Shikamaru blinked in confusion. "Are we done with the meeting-"
"Yeah, you're done." Fū finished for him, a smirk developing on her lips. "Come on! Let's go!"
"Don't have to tell me twice!" Naruto stated with a chuckle as he stood up.
Within seconds, Fū rushed out of the room, with Naruto, Hinata, and Shikamaru following behind. Anko bowed her head at Shibuki, who returned the bow, before she followed out as well. The Takigakure leader chuckled to himself as he shook his head.
"It's good to see her like that. I can't recall the last time I saw her in such a good mood." Shibuki noted to himself.
His eyes then moved downward to the scrolls from the Hokage and Mizukage. His expression sobered up as he pulled them up again and he began to re-read.
He was going to be busy, trying to think of any way he could help in this fight against Akatsuki.
"Enter." Jiraiya spoke after hearing a knock on his door.
The door to his office opened and Tayuya walked in. A smirk developed on his lips as the girl took the seat in front of his desk.
"Enjoying being back in Konoha? Have some fun introducing your family to the village?" He questioned.
"Fuck yeah!" Tayuya said with a grin. "I knew they'd love the place and I was right."
"I've already heard that Setsuko is making a name for herself at the academy. Iruka has his hands full with her." The Hokage chuckled. "And her father is a splendid shinobi and will definitely make a good name for himself!"
"That's all I could hope for, honestly." The Uzumaki said with a sigh. "That's the whole purpose of this plan of ours, after all. Unite all the Uzumaki clan members and help them get a good life."
"And you're succeeding. I know your ancestors would be proud of you." Jiraiya smiled back at her. "Anyway, did you have something you wished to discuss Tayuya?"
"Yeah, I was just letting you know I was heading out. You sent Naruto out on a mission, so I thought I might as well follow suit and get back out into the world." Tayuya replied with a chuckle. "I just wanted to let you know and find out if there's anywhere you wanted me to go for now? Anything or place you particularly want some dirt on?"
"Hmm…" Jiraiya's smile faded as he started to close his eyes in thought. An idea popped into his head and he proceeded to nod his head. "We're already aware of Akatsuki's current movements, so if you have the time, I'd like for you to check up on another small concern of mine in Iwagakure."
"What's going on there?" Tayuya asked.
"I have heard that the last descendants of the Kamizuru Clan have returned to Iwa after some self-imposed exile. And I heard they were not pleased with their alliance with us and have started to fan the flames of anti-Konoha sentiments in Iwa again." The Hokage said with a sigh. "You know of Naruto's teammate, Shikamaru, right? His girlfriend is an Iwa shinobi and she has mentioned in letters before that there is tension in the village right now because of their presence. While I do appreciate the information that she has said to Shikamaru, I would like for you to go visit and give me your personal take on it."
"Yeah. Gotcha. I can head to Iwa right away. I haven't actually explored Tsuchi no Kuni for any Uzumaki Clan members either, so this definitely works out for me." Tayuya said with a smirk. The smirk quickly faded, however, as a serious look developed on her face. "But first thing is first; I'll check up on that. It probably wouldn't be that hard to fan anti-Konoha sentiments in Iwa considering the last Great War, so I'll see how severe it is."
"Please do." Jiraiya said.
With a nod of her head, Tayuya proceeded to walk out of the office with a new mission under her belt. Jiraiya turned his head towards the outside window of his office, his eyes focusing on the Hokage Mountain. They narrowed in on the Yondaime's Head and a small, sad smile developed on his lips.
"Wonder how you'd be handling all of this, Minato. This job's stressful as hell." He said with a chuckle.
Fū had led the Konoha shinobi away from the center of Taki and towards the outskirts. Along the way, the group noticed the reactions of the people that they passed. The Taki citizens seemingly looked on at them in approval, but upon noticing Fū, they focused their attention on her and scowled. Many whispered to each other about her, obviously talking about her, but Fū did not seemingly react to it; she simply continued to lead the way.
All four Konoha shinobi were getting more-and-more upset with each passing comment they heard. Naruto, in particular, was getting angry and seemed as if he was one-more comment away from confronting someone. However, Fū's response was to only get faster, tell the group to catch up to her, and then not comment on any questions asked. So, the four let it be… for now.
About fifteen minutes of walking passed before they arrived at a bridge that led to a small island on the lake around the village. The only things on the island were a few trees and a simple, one-story wooden building that was painted dark green.
"Welcome to Kabutomushi Island! Population – me." Fū said with a grin. "Come! Let me show you around!"
The Taki kunoichi rushed ahead across the bridge and into her home. Team Three exchanged looks between each other before they nodded and followed her.
Fū's home was both quaint and spacious; the wooden floors and walls were painted various shades of green. There were many rooms in her small home; she had a small, but comfortable, kitchen and dining room, a living room that seemed rather plain comparison to the rest of the house, a study that had bookcases that were completely filled, and a large open room that was filled with paint, balloons, and other prank supplies.
"So, just giving you all a heads up, I only have two bedrooms. One of which is mine." Fū said as she rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. "Um, so. I can take my couch if you four can decide who sleeps where in the rooms. There should be enough space for two people to a room."
"One of us can take the couch. It's your place, after all." Hinata stated.
"Nah, I insist. I never have company, so I need to treat you all right. I'll take the couch!" Fū said with a grin. "Come on! Go check out the bedrooms!"
"You sure about that?" Anko questioned. "I actually really like couches."
"I'm positive." Fū stated, her grin rising. "Go. Check everything out!"
With her insistence, Hinata, Shikamaru, and Anko all walked to go check out the bedrooms. Naruto followed behind them, but he stopped as he noticed an open door to a room he had not seen. He walked over towards it and walked inside. His eyes widened in surprise.
The room he had walked into resembled a large greenhouse. The wall and ceilings of the room were made of glass and the sun, despite not being particularly bright over Taki, shone brightly into the room. A few windows were open, however, and Naruto could see many beetles and other insects flying into the room. Inside the 'greenhouse' was a variety of plant species, ranging from flowers to bushes to shrugs to even small trees. Naruto could also see a large variety of insects in the room, some of which he had never seen before!
"Yeah, you like my greenhouse?" The Uzumaki turned his head to see that Fū had followed him into the room. "This is probably the coolest place here. I tried to design one that would not only be good for all the different types of insects here, but also be a good easy place for bugs to come in and live."
"It's really nice, yeah." Naruto said with a grin. He, himself, liked to garden as a hobby, but he had never seen something like this before. "You really got a good green thumb."
"What, did the green-painted house give that away?" The Nanabi jinchūriki replied with a chuckle. "But in all seriousness, of course I do. I have to take care of the only friends I got here!"
"Only friends?" Naruto said, frowning slightly. "So, you really have no friends here, huh?"
"Duh. Cause the people here suck. None of them give a shit about me. I'm just a demon to them." Fū said, rolling her eyes. "Humans in general just suck."
"Eh." Naruto's frown deepened more at her words. They reminded him of Han when he had first met him. "I… agree that people with that mindset suck. But not everyone is like that."
"I'm aware of that. Just so happens though that the majority people in this god-forsaken village think that way though." Fū rolled her eyes once again. Her eyes then widened in realization as she realized that she and Naruto were alone. Biting her lip, she proceeded to turn to face him and spoke a little softer, in case someone walked in. "So… those three shinobi with you. They're not jinchūriki. But… they're cool with you being one?"
"More than cool." Naruto said with a chuckle. "Hinata-chan is my girlfriend, Shikamaru is my best friend, and Anko-sensei was the best jōnin-sensei I could have ever had! They don't give a shit about my status."
"Are… you sure about that?" Fū continued to question, a frown developing on her face. "I mean, I believe you and stuff, but I find it… sorta hard to accept, you know? Most people aren't that accepting. Are you sure they're okay?"
"I know they are." He said again, crossing his arms. "They're my closest people. They don't care."
"… If you say." She sighed in response as she pocketed her hands. "Well, if they're really that open-minded and accepting of jinchūriki, I wish one of them was from Taki, cause there's no one like that in the village."
"What about that Shibuki guy?" Naruto asked. "He seemed pretty nice to you."
"His dad sealed the Nanabi in me. He's nice to me because he feels bad." Fū shook her head. "I know exactly the kinda person he is. Shibuki is a very and is quick to act on his own feelings of guilt, even if you don't ask him to. He won't assign me any missions outside of the village after an accident I had once."
"What accident?" Naruto questioned.
"This was like two years ago. I went on a mission to hunt down a few missing ninja that were spotted in the area, along with three other Taki jōnin." Fū spoke, scowling. "We couldn't track down the missing ninja, but one of my 'squad mates' assigned to the mission did not like the of returning to the village empty handed. So, she attacked me."
"What?" The Uzumaki's eyes widened.
The mint-haired girl nodded her head: "Turns out, she always resented me for being a jinchūriki. So, if she couldn't do the mission for the village and retrieve the missing ninja, she thought she'd do the villagers a favor and try to kill me and get rid of 'that demon bitch' for everyone." She proceeded to spit out on the ground, her scowl deepening. "Obviously, she failed, and I killed her in self-defense. And ever since then, Shibuki has felt so bad about the situation for not assuming that one of his shinobi would even attempt to kill me that he stopped sending me on missions with other people. Which then turned into him just not sending me on missions in general."
"That's…" Naruto shook his head, a scowl of his own developing. "That's bullshit!"
"I know it is!" Fū exclaimed. "It's just… ugh. I know he means well and is trying to keep me safe, but being stuck in a village that hates me almost twenty-four/seven is almost the worst thing he could do to me! I fucking hate it!"
Naruto and Fū both turned their heads towards the entrance to the greenhouse. Anko walked into the room, her eyes focused in on them. Immediately, Fū's demeanor changed; her scowl disappeared, and a relaxed, carefree smile developed in its place.
"I hate this weather, you know? I actually need it to rain soon." She said with a chuckle. She proceeded to notice Anko's eyes wander the room, which caused her smile to turn into a smirk. "So, what do you think of this room? Pretty cool, huh?"
Naruto frowned, watching her behavior with his jōnin-sensei: 'I can see that mask. She's still upset about what we were talking about, but she's not going to show it to others. Because she doesn't trust 'humans'.'
Despite his frown, Naruto said nothing as he watched Fū and Anko proceed to chat about the greenhouse and Fū's house in general.
'Wh-What the hell!' Kariudo Zagi's eyes widened in fear. 'This chakra… can it be…'
The Jōnin Commander of Takigakure moved swiftly to the entrance of Taki, navigating the underwater caves in the lake. Within seconds, he appeared on the outside of the lake. His eyes widened at the sight.
Suien was standing in front of the lake, a smirk developed on his face. Standing by him were the three missing ninja from Ame – Kirisame, Hisame, Murasame. Standing behind them were even more shinobi, wearing various headbands. Zagi's eyes narrowed as he reached for the scythe on his back.
"You're the Jōnin Commander of Taki, right?" Suien questioned, his smirk seemingly widening. "You look like quite the capable shinobi, but let's see how capable you really are."
Relief almost seemingly filled Zagi's face, almost as if he was expecting somebody else. As quick as it arrived, that relief changed to anger as the man glared at the missing ninja in front of him.
"Suien, you've made a foolish mistake returning to the village, especially in such an obvious fashion." Zagi snarled as his hand went to the scythe on his back. "In the name of the village you betrayed, I will slice you down. Your blood will fall like the waterfall-"
"Zagi, he is on my side. You will not be fighting him."
Immediately, the horror on Zagi's face returned as Kakuzu and Hidan appeared between Zagi and Suien. His hand let go of the scythe, his eyes fixated on Kakuzu.
"K-Kakuzu…" He proceeded to bite his lip as he shook his head. "Wh-Why are you here? What business d-do you have with Taki?"
"Stuttering? I didn't take you to have become a weakling. If I knew you would become one, I wouldn't have saved you that one day during the Third Shinobi World War." Kakuzu spoke. "I'm here to collect your debt."
"M-My debt?" He stiffened.
"I saved your life. I'm the reason you didn't die years ago. And you made a blood pact that, despite me being a missing ninja, you'd pay me back as thanks. It is time you paid me back." The Akatsuki member said, crossing his arms. "You're an honorable man, Zagi – one of the only honorable men that your blasted village has. I know you can't turn down that promise."
"I… I…" Zagi turned away, his back facing the man. "What do you want here, Kakuzu?"
"I need you to let and my associates into the village when the time is right. We have a job here. And I want you to allow us to move freely in-and-out of the village without reporting our presence." Kakuzu answered. "We'll make this quick, so it is to both yours and our benefit that you allow us in."
"… Fine. Consider it done." The red-haired man crossed his arms. "Enter and get this over with."
"Both Hidan and I will be entering for now. We're not pulling out assignment just yet. I want to observe some thing first." Kakuzu said. "We'll be gone soon, however."
"Grr…" Zagi gritted his teeth as Kakuzu and Hidan started to walk forward the lake. He proceeded to shake his head as he watched the former Taki shinobi begin to lead his partner into the village. "… It's a weird time to see you again, Kakuzu. You just came up today in discussion with Shibuki?"
"Oh?" Both Kakuzu and Hidan stopped on their path, turning back to Zagi. Kakuzu's eyebrow rose as he stared at the man. "What did your leader have to say about me?"
"Damn, Fū, you're a great cook!" Anko praised.
Team Three gathered around a table in Fū's house, eating plates of yakisoba. The mint-haired girl chuckled in response, stirring her own chopsticks in her bowl.
"I like to think I am at least. I'm really good with any noodle dish!" Fū said proudly. "Although I do think I can make a really good okonomiyaki!"
"Do you know how to make ramen?" Naruto asked.
"Yeah, although I don't think mine's that special." She shrugged her shoulders.
"So, you're an amazing cook, you're a gardener, you're an elaborate prankster… any other talents you want to disclose?" Shikamaru asked with a chuckle.
"I also write poetry." Fū answered with a smile. Her eyes moved from the table towards a window in home as she began to recite a poem she had written: "Shadows on, The darkness of my heart, Have left me in confusion;, Dream or Truth?, Let other folk decide." She turned her head back to the group: "That's an example of my work."
"It's very lyrical. I loved it." Hinata said with a smile. "Short, but full of meaning."
"Mhmm." Fū nodded her head. "I'm of the belief that poetry should be concise. It should not take twenty lines describing just visual metaphor; it should bring forth real emotion. That's what I try and write, at least."
Conversation remained light as the group began to question Fū about her poetry. She answered questions happily and was eager to recite more poetry to them. It was almost relaxing to her how interested everyone was in her work and her in general. It was a feeling she was not used to, but one she was definitely enjoying.
"So, how long are you all staying in Taki?" She asked.
"Maybe four days or so. We already completed our mission; we just have some time to kill." Anko said with a shrug. "We don't want to stay too long though and be a burden on you."
"You're not being a burden. I never have company; might as well enjoy it." Fū said with a chuckle. "Stay as long as you want here! I'd enjoy it."
"I wouldn't mind getting to know you more, Fū-san." Hinata said with a smile. "I'd love to really explore your greenhouse!"
"That can be arranged." The Nanabi jinchūriki smiled in response. "Also, if it's alright to ask, does anyone wanna maybe spar tomorrow? I think I might be getting a bit rusty, so I'd love a chance to stretch my muscles and stuff."
"Hell yeah." Naruto grinned. "I'd love to!"
"As would I." Shikamaru added.
"Likewise." Hinata spoke again.
"I wouldn't mind as well, but looks like you got a line already." Anko chuckled.
"Heh." The Takigakure kunoichi began to smirk. "This should be fun then!"
For the first time in years, a genuine excitement bubbled in Fū's body. Her eyes moved from Shikamaru, to Hinata, to Anko. They all seemed genuinely interested in her and potentially sparring with her. Her eyes then moved to Naruto, who was smiling in approval.
'Perhaps he's right about these humans… Heh. Sure. If they have the trust of another jinchūriki, I'll trust them.' She told herself.
This week – for as long as these Konoha shinobi were here – was looking to be one of the most exciting for her in years.
"What? The Kyūbi jinchūriki is here?" Kakuzu snarled.
Kakuzu, Hidan, Suien, and Zagi were in a small, hidden room deep within the roots of the large tree. 'Takigakure's Jōnin Commander' had an uncomfortable look on his face as Kakuzu leaked out massive amounts of killing intent in no-particular direction.
"He was accompanied alongside other Konoha shinobi, where they detailed Shibuki about this 'Akatsuki' organization you are a part of." Zagi confirmed.
"That's awfully convenient timing." Hidan rolled his eyes. "They just arrive and tell him about Akatsuki right before we get here? Really fucking convenient."
"There's been a leak. Someone in Akatsuki is spying on us and giving back info." Kakuzu concluded. "We're going to have to inform Pain of that in private. This spy needs to be killed."
Silence filled the room for a moment. Kakuzu took in deep breaths, calming himself down and quelling his killing intent.
"So, are you all still going to try and kidnap that jinchūriki then?" Suien questioned, his hands in his pocket. The man seemed almost bored. "I've got things to do if this mission isn't going to happen."
"No. We're still going to try." Kakuzu answered. "The presence of the Konoha shinobi is troubling… but it can't be helped. I'm certain that they will not have preparations for you and your shinobi, Suien." His eyes then moved over towards Zagi. "They will also not have preparations for you?"
Zagi's eyes narrowed in response: "Kakuzu, I thought the agreement was for me to help you into the village. I never agreed to fight alongside-"
"There is no agreement. You owe me your life, Zagi." Kakuzu stated sharply, interrupting him. "As such, you will fight alongside us. And you will help us kill those Konoha shinobi."
Zagi remained quiet for a moment before he shook his head: "Fine."
"This actually works out for us, you know? We can just snag the Kyūbi jinchūriki for Pain as well." Hidan noted with a grin. "I met that fucker a while ago and he ended up teaching me some powerful lessons. I'd like to thank him for all that I learned from that day in Nami no Kuni."
"I've also encountered him before. He killed Nasumareta those years ago. I should thank him for that." Kakuzu added. "His reward will be a quick, painless extraction of his bijū when we finish up with this."
Their plan would need some reevaluation, but Kakuzu was still certain of its success; Akatsuki would be walking away with both jinchūriki and Taki will be burned in a way the village had never experienced before.
'In just a few days, I will have my revenge and Akatsuki will be one step closer to its ambitions.' He noted, smirking behind his mask. 'And there's not a damn thing that those Konoha shinobi will be able to stop this!'
1: I like to argue that I've produced a lot of changes from the butterfly effect alone and how minor changes in the timeline cause massive impacts, such as the creation of Team Three leading to Konoha being involved in the mission where Han would have supposedly been abducted by Akatsuki. I think I managed to make the story make sense in that regard! I'll admit, though... I don't have really much reasoning as to why Suien and the three Ame ninja he had with him did not invade Taki like they did in the OVA. My reasoning behind using them is simply convenience, as it prevents me from making a bunch of one-off villains for this arc :P Slightly lazy on my part, I'll admit... but at the same time, I don't really recall them being used in nearly any fanfiction, so I don't think it's that big of a deal :P
Also, just as a heads up, they're not the weaklings that they were depicted as in the anime. I'm going to have fun with Suien and his group this arc... muahahahaha
2: Fū's poetry is stuff I did not write! These are actually poems written by the famous Heian period poet, Ariwara no Narihira. In Japanese, it's read in the haiku format (5-7-5-7-5). While the English translation does not flow perfectly, I still really enjoy his poetry and wanted to reference it via Fū!
3: Speaking of Fū... this is where it gets sorta annoying that it has taken this long to finish my fanfic. When I started the story, there was no filler arc that featured Fū in it, like there was for Utakata. While I acknowledge the arc, I decided to respect my original idea for Fū and write her as such. I'll blend elements of the anime's interpretation of her with my own, but in the end, this is my interpretation of her. As I've mentioned multiple times, I love all the jinchūriki, so I'm very excited to show-off my interpretation of Fū! :)
Author's Note: Hey y'all! Chapter 71 is finished! :)
I'm currently hanging out with my fiancee, so I'll keep this brief. Thank you all so much for reading the chapter and I hope you enjoyed it! I'll see you when chapter seventy-two is posted! Until then :)