Chapter Nine – The Preliminary Fights Part Two

Sarutobi stared at the sand-littered floor of the exhibition room in shock. His pseudo grandson was… Killed? The very thought seemed to grip his heart and puncture it as if red hot knives were impaling themselves in him as he kept his gaze at the bloody patch of sand. A niggling suspicion in the back of his mind told him the fight was not over as he sharply turned his gaze towards the still wolf and fox forms of Kanatsu and Saiku before smirking in a small and unnoticeable way at the blond's ingenious – yet foolhardy – method of surviving.

As it stood, Anko was in anguish as she saw Naruto become engulfed by the sand then subsequently crushed by the infernal sand. She didn't hear anything as her ears were pounding – not that there was anything to hear at that moment. It was as if the world went quiet and still to her.

'No. No, no, no… Please don't take another person away from me…' She prayed to any deity that would hear her. The Kunoichi felt her heart twist in agony. Anko remembered the same pain she felt now in several rare instances in her life. Her eyes dimmed and memories flashed in lightning-quick motions, going from her parents' death and subsequently leaving her alone; the biting agony of her sensei, Orochimaru, betraying her and leaving her to certain death.

The purple-haired woman felt her hands gripping the steel railing and hearing it groan and bend yet it mattered not to her. All that mattered was the blond-haired Shinobi, buried under that sand. She felt her mouth open and a word scream out, yet she still couldn't hear, nor understand the primal fear given voice. Her mind settled in an instant and a grim determination settled upon her very being. The only thing keeping her from jumping down and ripping that Gaara kid apart, limb-by-limb, was Kanatsu's quick thinking to tackle her to the ground in the brief moment she released the metal railing.

While Kanatsu attempted to mentally break through the haze that clouded Anko's mind, Saiku was left staring at the ground with a prayer resounding through her and a slight misting of her eyes at the spot where Naruto was crushed. 'Get up and fight. Get up and fight you blond bastard! I won't forgive you if you give up here! Not like this!'

Throughout all of this, the room was left in a state of shock aimed at the reactions of the Konohagakure Jounin. The other Jounin from the Leaf stared on in shock as their comrade who was known for her rough playful, cheerful and – at times – aloof nature shifted to something they didn't recognize or associate with her.




To something they did recognize on at least a minute level.

Grim determination.

Kurenai stared in shock while Anko thrashed against the wolf holding her down, several questions flashing through her mind at once.

How close was the sensei and student?

Why did this affect her so much if they weren't close?

Is she even the same person right now?


Several miles away on the outskirts of Konohagakure, Mei Terumi was doing all she could to assist in the defensive measures of the village – setting traps, planting false underground tunnels set to collapse underneath, or onto, enemy advancements when she felt a stabbing pain in her mind and Saiku yelling at the blond who unconsciously blocked her out.

'What's going on in there?' She worriedly thought to herself before staring at the work she had already completed and made up her mind.


Hayate stared at the blood pooling sand with regret. 'A future powerhouse… Dead instead of being able to make the Leaf proud – all for these Chuunin Exams.' He remorsefully thought before beginning to open his mouth and call the match. Yet before he could, they all felt a massive spike of chakra and watched as Gaara – still in the same spot with a small, content grin on his face – stiffened as hundreds of Ōbubāningu (Burning Orb) flew at breakneck paces towards the red-head from all angles underneath the sand. Gaara barely manipulated the sand around him to guard himself against the air-roasting orbs that detonated upon impact with his sand, turning it to crystalline dust where struck forcing more sand to be used by Gaara before the ground was expunged in smoke once again.

A unilateral gasp filled the air as they beheld the sight of the battlefield. The ground was littered with bit of shining sand, jagged fissures, flames flickered uncontrollably at random intervals on the pock-marked and blood spattered aimlessly onto the ground from Naruto and the Kage Bunshin (Shadow Clones).

Gaara stood, rasping for air as his sand barely cocooned himself to avoid certain death only to grant him burns up to the second degree upon his singed body that were limited only by luck with his Suna no Yoroi (Sand Armor). "I'm… Hurt?" His voice weak from shock. "Naruto… Uzu-maki…" He rasped in an insane tone before he narrowed his psychotic eyes upon the one who caused his agony, sand wrapping around the left side of his body from the ground, gourd and his trademark Suna no Yoroi.

The sand morphed into a large arm with hooked claws for an appendage for his left arm, his left eye turning black with a yellow sclera for an eye only, legs following the same as the arms with a tail that whipped back and forth in a ferocious manner leaving gouges in the ground behind him.

Kankuro, Temari and Baki shared a worried glance before watching the match unfold.

Kanatsu released Anko to watch the match and Naruto's return with shock and worry as she beheld him. Naruto's left arm, from the elbow down, was a bloody, mangled piece of flesh and bone with hook-like fingers amalgamated together from the sheer strength of which the sand's force exerted. Blood dripped upon the ground with the pitter-patter similar to rain hitting a window from the arm that Naruto detachedly stared at before summoning Jigoku no Hono, setting it alight with fire from feeding chakra into an input and dragging it across his arm. Flames licking his arm as he ground his teeth and eventually roared when the excruciating pain became too much to keep silent about.


'Oh no…' Anko's eyes widened as she beheld him cauterize himself and witnessed the agony in which he bellowed out. Despite the tactic working, it was never a pleasant experience to go through – one Anko was innately glad to never have to do herself. The pain alone was enough to make the person faint in agony, not to mention having the risk of killing from the overload of pain receptors that the brain shuts itself down from to escape.

How many more times will he put himself at death's door to win this fight?


'You fool boy.' Sarutobi allowed no outward sign to belay his inward grimace at the pain Naruto underwent. 'The right move – yes – but a foolish mistake to allow it to advance that far but if you die from that, you won't make it to the higher echelons – the higher ranks of being a Shinobi.'


Weaving herself through the trees to reach the Abandoned Tower in the middle of the Forest of Death was Mei as she felt a massive spike of chakra, hurrying her efforts to reach the veritable battleground that she felt was ongoing.

She shuddered as she felt an oppressive chakra as she began closing in on the Tower. 'Just what the hell is going on in there?!'


The majority of the room's occupants visibly cringed, some – the vast majority being Genin – even releasing their stomach's contents at the sight, sound, and smell of Naruto's roars of cauterizing his wounds shut, leaving the smell of cooked flesh in the air. At that, Naruto kept Jigoku no Hono out and charged the berserk and insane Jinchuuriki as the sand was all but gone, used up nearly entirely from the partial transformation to the Ichibi.

"YOU WILL VALIDATE MY EXISTANCE WITH MORE OF YOUR BLOOD UZUMAKI!" Gaara insanely roared out, barreling down the pock-marked floor to meet the Uzumaki Genin leaving three-toed claw imprints upon the ground with every step.

"Like hell I am!" The blond roared in response as Naruto became a dancing whirlwind with Jigoku no Hono as he already began unconsciously pulled upon Saiku's unholy chakra to both regenerate his charred arm, restore his chakra reserves and to gain a much needed boost in power to best Gaara. The air began to become oppressive and heavy to breathe in as Naruto excluded a Killing Intent that was magnified by her chakra as he gazed about with blood-red eyes.

Naruto swung Jigoku no Hono with augmented strength and met a sand reinforced claw that violently had its sharp points gouged out along with the very tip of his middle finger, spinning around the right claw and jumping over the tail before bring the zanbatou downwards to slash it off, the flames crystallizing the sand it came into contact with. Despite gaining the momentary advantage, Naruto did not expect Gaara to recover from having parts of his claw and his tail – from the base – sliced off and executed a strong kick with his left leg that sent Naruto flying backwards, two of his bottom-left ribs fractured but already on the mend from the Bijuu chakra.

Inwardly cursing, Naruto breathed in several sharp intakes of air before feeling the ribs slowly grind back into place. The blond shoved the pain to the back of his mind as per Anko taught him and slashed Jigoku no Hono horizontally as a medium to use a modified version of Katon: Bakufū (Blast Wave) to expel a wave of flames that eagerly ran across the ground to find substance to burn, finally finding Gaara's charging form and igniting the sand, burning the open patches of skin that were not covered by the pale brown sand.

Gaara roared in pain and called upon the sand from underneath the stone blocks to augment his defense as well as to manipulate the dirt and sand to throw up spikes of hardened sand at Naruto that were dodged at the last second yet still managed to lay out a clean wound on the backside of his retreating calf. Smoke began releasing itself as the wound began closing at an incredible rate.

Naruto glanced once at his black-flecked arm and attempted to flex it, feeling an unwelcome throbbing pain from the nerves that were regenerating along with the bone that was fusing itself together with the fragments and the veins being reconstructed all the while dancing around the spikes with moderate difficulty with adrenaline beginning to wear off.

'I need to end this now.' Naruto cursed as he still barely twitch his fingers. 'Just a little while longer…' He amended to himself while ducking under a claw-shaped projectile of sand and charged the now rampaging amalgamation of sand.


Sarutobi turned just as Mei Terumi appeared next to him in a violent puff of smoke tinged with a magma's hue and beheld the ground floor of the battlefield between a gravely injured Naruto and a red-haired child that appeared to look like an amalgamation of a miniature version of the Ichibi. She turned and spoke with palpable rage, "Just what the hell is happening down there Hokage-sama?! I felt the same unholy chakra that Naruto is excluding from my position in the Forest when I was fast approaching!"

The wrinkled man's voice spoke in a final tone with an underscore of unease emanating from them – from what she could not decipher at that very moment. "A battle between two Bijuu and their containers – a battle of Jinchuuriki that we dare not interrupt." A glance at Saiku showcased his point as her fox form's facial expression was scrunched up in extreme concentration. Next to her was Anko who stared with the intensity of a hawk watching its prey upon the battle and most importantly – Naruto and did not waver in her concentration when Mei charged in. Whereas Kanatsu seemed to be unaffected with only a slight glint in her eyes that hinted at her true emotions – worry was it?

They focused back onto the fight; Anbu beginning to silently appear and lie in wait for their leader's commands should the battle take a turn for the worse.


Naruto ducked and spun under Gaara's outstretched left arm that threatened to strike him and swung the zanbatou upwards and hacked off the offending limb before jumping out of reach from the right's offending grasp. Gaara growled with rage and grabbed the arm and threw it with malice, tendrils of sand reaching for Naruto who – despite seeing the blow coming – barely ducked underneath the arm of sand as it flew by, the tendrils managing to shave off several blond hairs.

The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki felt the Saiku's chakra slowly ebbing away and experimentally attempted to clench his left hand's finger and grinned widely as he felt them move with full mobility despite the excruciating pain he felt in doing so. He quickly sealed Jigoku no Hono and began to avoid the blasts of sand coming from Gaara, hands flashing in a series of hand seals. Flames that began scaling to temperatures hotter than that of Jigoku no Hono's in a matter of seconds.

Naruto began grimacing in pain as the flames began licking his skin in a none-too-pleasant manner as it formed into a silhouette of a fox in red-black flame and charged the enraged Gaara, avoiding a vast majority of the spikes of hardened sand that threatened to impale him. Despite his efforts, several did manage to impale themselves upon the blond yet with the cloak of fire surrounding him; it limited the amount of penetration to avoid fatalistic damage but it still pained the blond nonetheless. Gaara stamped his sand-made claw of a foot onto the ground and encased himself entirely in the sand, blue veins everywhere along his body.

"COME AND MEET MOTHER UZUMAKI!" He bellowed and charged the fox silhouette with reckless abandon. The enraged Ichibi container swung his fist downwards at Naruto who sidestepped at the last second and threw his weight onto his right shoulder and slammed into the read-head's stomach with a violent explosion.

Waiting with baited breath was the spectators who stared speechless at the field when the debris and dust cleared. Naruto was stand – if only barely with scorched and blistered skin and clothes singed to the point of falling apart with the slightest motion – over the prone form of Gaara who stared at the blond with a fearful expression.

Gaara couldn't believe it – he lost. Now he was going to die. "Stay away! I'll kill you!" He fearfully yelled, attempting – and failing – at the blond who reached down and dragged the red-head up. Gaara then heard words he never would've thought he would hear from someone similar to him.

"I'm not going to kill someone like me, let alone someone like me who lives only for killing."

"H-How are you so strong?" Gaara asked while staring Naruto in the eyes. It was hard for him to do so – to looks someone in the eye as their equal or even as their inferior.

Naruto let out a body-wracking chuckle at the question that sent shivers down the other Jinchuuriki's spine. "Because of my desire to protect those that are my family and personal friends is why I'm as strong as I am."

Gaara became pensive for a moment and asked, "Those bridges have long since burned with my family… How would I rebuild such bridges?"

"Be kind to them is a starter. Don't treat them as if they are inferior to you for starters." Naruto chuckled. "Besides, you can at least have a close friend in me." Hayate snapped out of his stupor and called the match as Gaara's eyes widened before slowly closing in unconsciousness.

"Winner – Naruto Uzumaki of Konohagakure!"

Naruto frowned as they were all shocked silent. "Come on now! I deserve at least a little cheering right?" That was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back as cheering came from all, Konoha cheering the loudest for the impressive fight.

Naruto stumbled once before falling onto the ground with his trademark grin in place, momentarily meeting the proud eyes of his Ji-san, Mei, Anko, Kurenai, Kakashi, Kanatsu and Saiku. "Heh… I won…" He said before the inky blackness of unconsciousness took him. Anko and Mei managed to catch him just before he fell onto the ground in a crumpled heap.

On the ledge stood Kanatsu and Saiku who sat, proud of the adversity Naruto overcame facing Gaara before plodding along to meet Anko and Mei's hurried pace to the infirmary for the blond.


Naruto cracked his striking blue eyes, immediately narrowing them as light ran unfiltered through them. He hissed in pain as he moved to bring his arms up to cover his eyes, feeling an uncomfortable weight wrapped around them. Eyes opened slowly to allow them to adjust to the unfiltered sunlight from the window, not even four inches away from the bed he was laying in.

After biting back a grunt of pain, he shifted his sharp gaze to around the room – a hospital room by the looks of the pale white room with various medical equipment scattered in convenient places for the staff to use unlike the simple infirmary room of the Abandoned Tower. The clean, rectangular room itself was not large, but by no means small at all, only seeming to be small from the lack of space from the hospitable feel added from a couch and several cushioned chairs that were occupied by several individuals. He also noted the sight of flowers on a bedside drawer along with numerous notes to get well from virtually all who was a spectator to the fight.

One caught his eye, being a deep purple. Naruto's eyes widened as he caught the name being Yugao Uzuki. He briefly skimmed over it seeing her wishing him for a quick recovery and an apology for not being about to visit due to Anbu personnel being on constant double-shifts with little downtime available.

Naruto cracked a grin as big as he could – not large at all from the pain and stiffness of not using his mouth for much over some period of time he did not know – after reading the note, staring at Anko who was at the side of his bed afterwards, her head resting comfortably next to his right side, his hand used as a partial pillow. His ears caught a faint rustle of clothing; his head snapping to the sound and caught Mei faintly smirking at him while standing up from the comfy couch she lounged upon.

Her motions shook awake Kanatsu and Saiku in their human forms who immediately rose up, eyes peering intently for any combat – only to find Mei rolling her eyes at their over protectiveness. Only Saiku had the decency to faintly flush from embarrassment as Kanatsu simply kept her eyes shifting before lingering upon Naruto's prone form.

Before Naruto could begin fidgeting from her piercing gaze, Mei's laughter interrupted the tense atmosphere. "This silence is stifling – more so than my Futton (Boil Release)." Laughter came from all the occupants – Kanatsu even giving a genuine light smile and chuckle from behind her hand. Anko blinked her eyes as the noise filtered through her unaccustomed ears and lifted her head to find Naruto laughing with Mei, Kanatsu and Saiku.

"Oh my, Anko-chan is finally awake! I wonder if she liked her sleep on top of Naru-kun..." Saiku deviously smirked at Anko who simply threw a kunai at the inner folds of her trench coat with precise accuracy that lightly sliced a portion of her cheek open. "That was a bit harsh Anko-chan…" Saiku pouted with a sinister gleam in her eye that was interrupted by the flat side of Kanatsu's katana.

"Stop teasing Anko-san in here while Naruto-kun is recovering Saiku. Or shall I remind you of what I can do?" Kanatsu left the open-ended threat hang in the air for everyone but the pale-faced Saiku to decipher.

"So…" Naruto uncomfortably began before being interrupted by Anko smacking him upside the head rather forcefully. "What the hell was that –"He was interrupted once again by Anko embracing him in a fierce bear-hug.

"Don't do something so stupid like that again… I don't want to lose another person…" She mumbled almost intelligibly into his hospital gown, letting loose one of her childhood fears out to bear. That was one thing she wished more than anything – to have and keep someone close to her. Throughout her life she was plagued by important and well-loved figures in her life either abandoning her or dying before their time.

To say the least, Naruto was shocked at how strongly attached she was to him. He never would have guessed her attachment had grown so far. Despite his misgivings at giving a promise that he might have to break in the future, he did so anyways. "I promise Anko-chan." Her head nuzzled closer into his chest at his declaration until Mei coughed. Anko's head jerked back with a faint dusting of pink settling on her cheeks.

"Why don't you share the warmth a little, hmm?" Mei was honestly more than a little jealous at the fact that Anko had the opportunity to spend time with her Naruto but she would damn well make the attempt to spend more time with him now.

She sauntered over to Naruto and plopped – gently – onto his lap, a gleam shined in her eye as she brought her lips atop his own, working furiously to coax his mouth open. Anko balefully glared at Mei before pulling – with great strength but she would never admit it – the auburn-haired woman's hair and planted her own lips upon Naruto's, taking advantage of the fact that his lips were open from shock.

Off to the side stood Saiku looking eager to join in on the fun and Kanatsu who sighed at the trouble the two women were going to cause. And by the looks Saiku was giving Naruto, she would have to deal with that mess as well!

"That would be enough with the immoral acts in the hospital bed. Naruto would like to breath and I would prefer if you not smother him to death with your lips. I believe you would not want me to force my hand now do you?" The two women shot off of Naruto, thoroughly chastised from Kanatsu, internally pleased at how quickly they listened to her without further prompting yet still retained the eerie smile on her face.

"Now that you two are thoroughly finished with your deeds," Her eyes stared down the two pairs that gazed down, "I suggest the two of you converse about your respective actions with each other lest I become involved once again. I'm sure we don't require that, now do we?" She added at the last second with a smile hidden behind a half-clenched hand and disturbing eyes that remained closed for several seconds yet still retained their unnerving additive.

The duo made no motion to move and Kanatsu punctuated on it with a biting chill wafting through the previously toasty room. "I believe that I made it clear you two were to converse your actions with one another to prevent such a mishap again." Anko and Mei all but ran out of the room, Saiku inwardly glad that she did not follow her wishes to join in on the fun as she plopped onto the comfy couch.

Kanatsu then meandered on over to Naruto, allowing out a slight chuckle at his fidgeting. "Don't think I have not forgotten about your actions throughout that little spat. You should have discouraged such actions to persist in such a manner." She admonished the embarrassed blond before pecking him once on the cheek, sitting onto the chair near his side.

Naruto was once again speechless.

"That was for both overcoming the challenge of facing Gaara, the Ichibi Jinchuuriki, and for living in doing so."

"R-Right…" Naruto stuttered out, still in slight shock. Saiku let out a barking laughter that caught Naruto's attention.

"You're more jumpy and nervous than a newborn kit's!" She managed to say in-between breathing and her laughter. Naruto stuck his head in the air and pointedly looked away from her.

"Just like a kit…" Kanatsu murmured to herself before nodding thoughtfully. It did classify Naruto, Mei and Anko quite well she noted after seeing their actions.

'Maybe Saiku fits that profile as well…' She mused to herself as the subject under observation began taunting Naruto.


Mei and Anko glared at each other from opposite sides of Training Ground Forty-Three – a jagged, mountainous terrain filled Training Ground with sparse amount of trees and a small pond off in the shade of a copse of trees twenty minutes out of Konohagakure by way of a Jounin's easy jogging pace.

Finally, Mei couldn't take the silence anymore. "What the hell is your fucking problem Anko?!"

"My fucking problem is with you!" Anko hissed at Mei who seemed to be shocked at the declaration.

"Me?" Mei scoffed after gaining some of her composure back. "Is it because I'm taking Naruto's attention? I hate to say it but we're both bonded to him so you have no right to monopolize his attention."

Anko balefully glared at Mei with such intensity that it made the auburn-haired woman raise an eyebrow in surprise. "He is all I have! What is your excuse?!"

"I can barely remember my god damn past! I'm only just regaining my memories after Naruto saved my damn life in Mizu no Kuni!" Mei sneered at Anko who seemed to be minutely mollified at the announcement. "This is going absolutely nowhere other than discovering we're in the same damn boat!"

The purple-haired Kunoichi stared Mei in the eye with a glint in them. "Fuck this little chat Kanatsu wanted us to have! I say we just beat the shit out of each other then talk it out!"

"Words that have never been spoken truer!" Mei viciously grinned at Anko before spitting out several globs of lava at the Snake Mistress. Anko weaved expertly through the globs of lava, using her Sen'eijashu (Hidden Shadow Snake Hands) to send several venomous snakes barreling through the air towards Mei.

"A little much sending venomous snakes there little Anko?" Mei teased, waiting for Anko to meet her in Taijutsu.

"What about your Yoton (Lava Release)?" Anko groused. The duo clashed heavily, throwing blows that were countered, dodging or reciprocated with deadly precision. Anko led the initial encounter, her hands straight and ready to jab at vital points.

She ducked under the kick aimed for her head and landed a grazing hit towards a cluster of nerves that did little in terms of damage to Mei's outstretched leg before sidestepping the stomp from the same leg. "Is that the best you can-"Anko was cut off by a crushing right hook that sent her flying several feet back.

Spitting out a glob of coagulated blood was all Anko could accomplish before being pushed onto defense. The purple-haired Kunoichi barely could do anything other than have her hands fly through all the motions she could to avoid and deflect the vast majority of the crushing blows of Mei's lightning-quick appendages.

Anko's eyes widened as she felt the wind while spinning away from a left hook, barely moving her hands in time to guard against her right fist. After sliding back several feet on the unforgiving mountainous terrain, Anko gritted her teeth and attempted to put forth more effort into the Taijutsu brawl.

'She favors using right and left hooks…' Anko noted while waiting for the upcoming barrage of blows once again. Once again Mei barreled forward, kicking up dirt and gravel in her pursuit of beating down Anko. The auburn-haired woman threw a feint right hook, smirking after Anko set herself at the last moment for Mei.

Anko cursed as the feint became apparent as she caught an elbow buried in her solar plexus followed up by a spinning backhand to her face that sent her spiraling to the ground several feet away.

Mei lightly panted as she cautiously watched Anko gasp for air and struggle to rise. "How… Are you so much better at Taijutsu now?" Anko panted, trying to stall for time to get some air back into her lungs.

"I'm remembering more of my previous style of fighting and how I trained to get there." Mei cryptically offered in response. "Feel like talking it out yet?" She teased the now smirking form of Anko. Mei felt grin grow on her face as she saw the determined eyes of the Snake Mistress.

"Not even close."


"Finally out of the hospital!" Naruto sent a glare behind his back in the direction of the sterilized hell as Naruto, Kanatsu and Saiku traversed the rooftops of Konoha in the nighttime at a slow speed.

Kanatsu shook her head at the teen Genin. "Just like a kit…" She murmured once again while keeping pace with Naruto on his left, Saiku on his right to catch him if need be. For once, they were actually in their human forms in the general public areas of Konoha as they felt it wasn't needed to remain in their animal forms any longer – Naruto could defend himself well enough going by how the preliminary fight went.

Along the way to the apartment, Naruto shifted his head to address Saiku. "Saiku-chan," She met his eyes, "What happened with your Chakra when it entered my system? I thought it was supposed to form a cloak of bubbling red chakra and cause more harm than good with peeling skin."

Saiku sighed and answered after gathering her thoughts, Kanatsu listening intently. "What happened back there is what occurs when a Bijuu and their Jinchuuriki work together, or in cases where the Jinchuuriki draws on a small amount of the Bijuu's chakra. This specific case is a mixture of the two." Saiku explained, "You unconsciously drew upon my chakra reserves using the seal as a medium to do so, the same as any Jinchuuriki does. What I did was control the chaotic flow of the chakra to something helpful rather than detrimental. So instead of the chakra cloak forming and you losing your mind to insanity, my chakra was absorbed into your own chakra reserves and used as a super-charged battery.

"In return, you gained healing abilities beyond what a normal Jinchuuriki attains, the chakra reserves were restored completely, and your muscles were augmented by the excess chakra not being used by the aforementioned methods."

Naruto stopped running and stood on the rooftop he was about to jump off of, ignoring the brief spasm of pain from the unexpected breaking with his jaw hanging at Saiku. The Kyuubi began to feel uncomfortable before snapping in a gentle tone.


"You actually talked in a serious way that made sense!" Naruto exclaimed before laughing at the throbbing tic-mark that grew on Saiku's face. "But," He grew serious once again, as did Saiku, "How hard was it for you to control the chakra flow?"

Saiku sighed and stared up at the starry night sky. "It wasn't easy at all Naru-kun, but I wasn't focusing entirely on the flow as well."

She barked out a laugh as Kanatsu interjected into the conversation. "Would it be possible for Naruto-kun to be able to regulate the flow of chakra himself, or by a series of seals that would have the same effect as what you would do?"

Saiku shrugged. "It's possible, but we were going to train him in our respective powers anyways so it would be a moot point for when he can control up to two tails since that was what he was using yesterday." They all jumped off of the roof towards the apartment.


Suffice to say, the trio did not expect what they saw when they walked into the apartment.

Kanatsu opened the door for Naruto and Saiku, only to find Anko, Mei and Kurenai all sitting around a small table seiza-style with a bottle of Ginjo-shu, an expensive type of sake with a light, fruity taste that was both aromatic – especially to the noses of Naruto and Saiku – and had a refined taste to it. The three women were laughing loudly over a reminiscent moment Anko had in the dango shop she preferred.

Throughout the whole time, it seemed as if Anko and Mei had been whipped after running through an extremely windy forest with cuts all over their visible body; black, blue and purple splotches of bruises spattered on each other, more so in Anko's case – her left jaw sporting the nastiest bruise by far.

"So you managed to somehow throw a dango stick that rebounded off of the wall you were throwing them into and into the pant leg of a civilian who stood up several moments later to leave, his pants ripping at the same time?" Mei asked in incredulous shock before roaring in laughter, the sake helping in no small amount.

Kurenai nodded in agreement, her face tinged red from alcohol and laughing none the less. "You should have seen his face and boxers… He didn't even know why the patrons were laughing their asses off at his kunai speckled boxers!"

Anko was laughing too hard to formulate a response, tears coming out of her eyes from laughter.

Out of the three inebriated women, Kurenai noticed them first. She shakily rose, sauntering over to Naruto. "Hi there… Na-ru-to-kun." She huskily stated in the blond's ear before giggling and heading towards a one way course to the ground had Naruto not caught her.

Kurenai mumbled a few words with a beet-red face from where Naruto caught her. Saiku drowned out her words by noticing the sake and exclaiming, "Why wasn't I invited to taste that Sake?" In the wake of Saiku running over to the still laughing duo who were beckoning Saiku over, Naruto laid Kurenai on the couch where she promptly passed out.

While Anko, Mei and Saiku cheerfully had fun with each other, Kanatsu walked over to Naruto and smiled. "It seems they made up for the better."

"Yeah." Naruto smiled at the bantering women.

"You do realize that tomorrow will begin your training and subsequent punishments, correct?" Kanatsu murmured to the accepting blond. "But in light of your accomplishment of getting to the Third Exam, I have a… gift of sorts that you will need in the future." Her lips twitched upwards as Naruto grinned widely and thanked her.

"Don't thank me yet." She smiled wider, eyes closing contentedly in the cheerful environment. "I'd suggest you go and have fun with them, they want you to come over."

Naruto strode over, turning once to mouth, "Thanks" to her before enjoying the rest of the night with the women, Kanatsu joining several minutes later.


A group of three black-cloaked and hooded individuals stood amidst a blood-red veritable mist.

"What do you mean, 'Danzo does not have the necessary reagents required for the rift.'?" The smallest of the three stated in a breathy voice more suitable to bedside talk rather than current matters.

The tallest of the three growled in a feral manner. "He means what he states Lilith!" He snarled in a deep, rough voice at the insolent woman in front of him. Lilith merely scoffed at him.

"Peace Anubis, peace." The remaining cloaked individual stated in a deep baritone to his large companion. "What I mean is what I state. Am I correct in this manner Lilith?" A strong pressure slammed onto the shoulders of Lilith, forcing her to her knees.

"Yes… Jashin-sama…"

"Good girl." Lilith growled at the man's impunity, imagining hundreds of ways to torture him as he pat her on the head. "He will have the reagents soon enough from my minions in the human world and you, Lilith," She looked up in shock; "You will go to the human world and pass the other necessary reagents to the old fool."

Lilith stood for several more moments in shock as his command ran amok through her mind. "NOW WOMAN!" He snarled at her. Lilith quickly disappeared in silver rift leaving the two men, one towering over the other.

Anubis glanced down at his leader. "Is it truly wise to allow her to go to the human world?" He asked.

"Of course it is…" Jashin chuckled with insanity lacing his words. "She will alert the so-called, 'Jinchuuriki' of our plans, giving me the battle I have been waiting for, for centuries. He will train furiously to combat me, or risk his world crumbling beneath him.

"Just the battle I deserve…" He murmured to himself, eyes flashing silver with yellow flecks as he stared upon the carnage he wreaked upon the clan of demons foolish enough to oppose him. Some had escaped, but that mattered not to the deity as they would eventually challenge him in revenge.

'Some 'Shinigami's pets' indeed…' He snorted derisively before disappearing in a black and red mist leaving Anubis to his own mechanisms – gleefully cleaning the evidence of the carnage, regardless of the tough bone structure of the wings and body of them.

So how was it? I tried making both the fight and Anko's emotions believable by having her latch onto him for reasons that are explained throughout the chapter.

Tell me how you felt about the chapter, the fight between Naruto and Gaara and anything else you feel like commenting on. Also, check out my profile periodically to check on how the next chapter is progressing word-wise!

Have a good day and a good Memorial Day Weekend!