"You destroy buildings, fight monsters openly in the streets of the city, work with the police, show up in newspapers, advertise in the phone book, and ride zombie dinosaurs down Michigan Avenue, and think that you work in the shadows? Be reasonable."
― Jim Butcher, Skin Game
Sakura groaned and wiped a drop of sweat out of her eyes, taking a brief moment away from the dirty, tedious work her soon to be dead clan leader had assigned as punishment. She should have known Naruto would have staked out the compound with clones, but she still would have gone to comfort Ino, she just would have been more cautious about it.
But, the orange loving bastard had caught her, and rather than give her a decent punishment, he'd assigned her THIS! The was a certain hell involved in digging a six foot hole with a spoon, and then refilling the hole, with the same damn SPOON! There was no point, it was dirty and sweaty, and she could HEAR Naruto and Temari chatting as they relaxed in the damn pool. She strongly doubted that it was sheer coincidence that Naruto was loudly referring to how refreshing the water was in much louder tones than any other part of the conversation.
Perhaps her only consolation was that she wasn't alone, a rather tired, dirty and fuming Ino was nearby digging her own hole. It was her way of making amends, and apologizing for her actions, but Sakura had a suspicion Ino regretted that decision at the moment.
"So, we're going to murder him for this ya?" Ino asked as she stabbed her spoon into the ground furiously.
"Tempting, but no" Sakura replied regretfully. "I can't say that I enjoy this, and oh yes, he will pay, but it could be a lot worse."
"Umhm," Ino replied with a quick bob of her head. "I talked to my dad about what Naruto said, and he sort of freaked out. Internal clan affairs are serious business, but it was the threat to end relations with the clan that really got him. I think my father and the rest of the trio have some sort of plan going involving Naruto, I just don't know what it is."
"I really wouldn't try finding out," Sakura advised dryly. "Given that the Ino-Shika-Cho trio are actively attempting to ally with Clan Uzumaki, I doubt that they mean us any harm. In fact, I would say it's extremely interesting that your father allows you to spend so much time here, especially given that Naruto can marry again."
"I don't think he's planning that," Ino huffed defensively with a blush "I won't deny that I'm interested, but I don't think he is, and he's pretty devoted to Temari you know."
"That's the life of a ninja," Anko said from where she was lounging in a nearby tree overseeing the girl's work. She paused a bit to take another bite of her dango, before continuing in a serious tone. "Naruto was handed a bad hand from birth, and was forced into this, but he chose not to be resentful and it seems that he has found joy in his life."
Anko absently rubbed her neck, her face momentarily twisting into a grimace.
"It could have easily turned out differently of course. I assume that I don't have to remind you of Gara. That could have been Naruto you know."
The girls shuddered at the thought, and Ino spoke up in a quiet reflective tone.
"He really should hate us, shouldn't he? I suppose especially the two of us," she gestured at Sakura and herself.
"I never hated you," Naruto inserted himself into the conversation entering the garden trailed by a slow moving Temari. "I never could understand the obsession that you had with the Teme, and I had that infatuation with Sakura, but I never hated you for what you did." He paused and scratched the back of his neck in thought. "I can't say that I didn't get really angry with some of the things that you did, but my life has taught me that you have to find happiness in even the small things. Most everyone in the village feared and hated me because of the fox, or because their parents told them that I was bad. The two of you, especially you Sakura, disliked me because I annoyed you. It was personal because of my actions, not the sort of cold feeling from most others. For me, that was a victory of sorts."
"Oh," Ino said quietly. "That makes sense, in a horrible sort of way. I'm truly very sorry for how I treated you in the past, Naruto. Truly sorry."
"Ah, don't worry about it Ino-chan," Naruto said with a sunny smile. "It's a new, better future right?"
"Yes, it is." Temari said gravely. "I can't say that I wouldn't have acted differently, but it shames me to know that I failed to see the scared, lonely boy inside that terrifying exterior my brother had." Her gazed turned to the statues made by Gara as a wedding present, and her features softened into a smile and her hand absently rubbed her stomach. "It's nice to know that the future looks bright for once."
"Speaking of," Naruto said with a wicked grin. "Oh Anko-chan, why aren't these two working? I paid a great deal of dango for your overseer services, and yet I'm somewhat... disappointed. Perhaps I should inquire as to a refund?"
"No!" Anko shouted clutching the bag of dango to her chest defensively. "Alright girls, work, now. Save my precious dango!"
"That's not an incentive," Sakura complained leaning back into her task with less than enthusiasm. "Maybe if you shared."
Naruto laughed merrily as he escorted Temari towards the house to the sounds of Anko and the girls bickering in the background.
"Something on your mind Temari-chan?" Naruto asked seeing some sort of mixed emotions on his wife's face as they walked arm in arm.
"It's nothing really," Temari said pensively. "I was just thinking over what they said, and I'm extremely grateful that you didn't turn out like my brother did. None of this would be happening, and I think the world would be a much darker place."
"Maa, you're overthinking things Temari-chan," Naruto chided cheerfully. "We can't change the past, so focus on the present. We have a happy home, a COUPLE OF SLAVE GIRLS!"
"I HEARD THAT NARUTO-BAKA!" Sakura yelled back making Naruto's grin widen.
"Good friends and peace." Naruto finished. "Be happy Temari-chan."
"I am happy, baka husband," Temari said with a smile. "But one of us has to actually think about things you know."
"Hey, I think about things," Naruto interjected. "I do."
"Battle and politicial maneuverings wasn't exactly what I meant dear," Temari said smacking Naruto's shoulder lightly. I meant about the past and the future and what it means."
"Oh, well I hereby delegate that to you Temari-chan," Naruto said airily.
"Right," Temari said rolling her eyes. "Just now decided that huh?"
"I have this sudden feeling I should be glad you don't have your fan," Naruto said warily.
Temari gave her husband an evil grin as she let go of his arm, and summoned her fan from the seal on the sleeve of her kimono. "You were saying dear?"
"Ah shit," Naruto said dejectedly. "I probably shouldn't have taught you how to make those seals I think. Do I get a head start?"
Temari laughed and resealed her fan, tucking her arm back into his, enjoying the flustered and bewildered look on Naruto's face."
Not this time dear," she said smugly. "Just remember, I always have my fan now."
"Right, point taken," Naruto said quickly. "You're a mean one, Mrs. Uzumaki."
"Of course," Temari replied. "I'm the daughter of a Kage, married to the son of a Kage, who will one day, be a Kage himself. I have a reputation to uphold you know."
Naruto palmed his face with his free hand accompanied by the music of Temari's laughter. "You're something else Temari-chan."
""Believe me, the feeling is mutual Naruto, but you are mine, and I am yours, forever.
"Always Temari-chan, always.
Naruto sat as his desk and scowled at the diagrams mocking him from their place in front of him. No matter what he tried, he could not seem to get his father's jutsu to work perfectly for him. From everything he knew and heard, his father could instantly flash between any marker, be he was always stuck with at least a three second delay between when he located a marker, and when he arrived. The issue wasn't travel time during the jutsu, which was instant, just like his father. The problem was that he needed time to focus on the marker, and it required a great deal of chakra. He had no idea how strong his father had been, but it seemed unlikely that he'd expended nearly the amount of chakra traveling as Naruto did. A handful of flashes was draining, so there simply had to be something wrong, and he couldn't find it.
With a sigh, Naruto slumped in his chair and let his head drop tot eh desk with an audible thump. It was driving him crazy, not being able to find a solution. Unless he found a way to fix the problem, he was stuck redesigning the jutsu by hand, which would take forever. Well, not quite forever, but it certainly would take a great deal of time. The formula for the jutsu was extremely complex, and had to be balanced just right, or things would be messy. Kaboom, hey where's my arm sort of messy, and he didn't really want to be scolded by Temari for blowing off his arm. When she was pissed, the woman had a tongue like a razor.
Idly looking around the study, hoping for some sort of inspiration, his gaze glanced across a small ceramic toad sitting randomly on a shelf. With a start, Naruto pushed himself to his feet, several ideas running through his head. He was going to need sake, a lot of sake.
"Hey Boss," Naruto slurred from where he was sitting cross-legged on Gamabunta's head, before taking another drink from the jar of sake in his hand.
"What?" Bunta asked, clearly enjoying the barrel of sake in front of him.
"So, you knew my father right, better than anyone?"
"Better than anyone but that fool Jiryia yes," Bunta replied puffing on his pipe in agitation.
"I don't get that," Naruto rambled drunkenly. "Ero-Sennin has been a Toad summoner for a long time, but you always seem so angry with him, why?"
"A summoner must be strong, loyal, brave, and true to their word," Bunta said bitterly. "Jiraiya is your godfather Naruto, and he did not fulfill his duties. He broke his promise, and I find myself unable to forgive that."
"S that right?" Naruto asked wonderingly. "I don't think Ero-Sennin meant to, and he did stop and check up on me from what I know." Naruto pulled out his old frog wallet Gama-chan, and held it out. "This had to have been from him, and he did start training me before the finals of the chunin exams."
"Intentions do not matter," Bunta said firmly. "In this world, we are judged on what we do, and how we do it, not on what was intended Naruto. It pleased me that he began fufilling his responsibilities, but where is he now? I do not sense him nearby, and you are still in need of training Naruto."
"I have no idea where he is," Naruto said dejectedly. "He pretty much disappeared and I know it's worrying Baa-chan. But training is actually why I wanted to talk to you."
Bunta snorted, and chuckled.
"I doubt there is much I can train you in, you're already receiving instruction from the sages, and you don't have my size for combat."
"Not that," Naruto waved the comment away, a more focused look on his face. "I can't get the Hirashin to work right," he admitted. "There is always a delay between when I locate a marker, and when I can travel to it, plus it drains a great deal of chakra."
"Oh, that," Bunta said thoughtfully. "I remember that he had a hard time adapting it to himself. Something about keying it to a specific person, but I don't know the details."
"Wait," Naruto said, something in that sentence drawing his full attention. "You said adapting, he didn't create it?"
"No, he learned of the jutsu from the forbidden scroll."
"The scroll I stole?" Naruto asked in wonder before cursing. "Damn it, I really should have copied some of those down rather than just learning Kage Bunshin."
"That would have been inadvisable," Tsunade said sternly leaping up onto Gamabunta's head to glare at Naruto. "Those jutsu are forbidden for a reason."
"Baa-chan!' Naruto called out cheerfully, ignoring the glare he was getting. "What brings you out tonight?"
"Are you dunk?" Tsunade asked in disbelief before palming her face with a muttered curse about toad summoners. "Never mind. Naruto, did you know it's considered polite to inform the Kage before summoning a class S summon near the village? While the villagers are not afraid of the Toad summons, Gamabunta appearing is cause for concern because he is a battle summon!
Naruto blinked at the barrage. "But I'm not near the village Baa-chan," he pointed out meekly.
"Naruto," Tsunade said wetly, drawing in a calming breath. "Can you see the Hokage monument from here?"
"Naruto glanced over towards the village, and could barely make out the faces on the mountain. "Sure Baa-chan, just barely."
"THEN YOU"RE TOO CLOSE TO THE VILLAGE BAKA!" Tsunade roared.
"Oh," Naruto said mildly to the laughter from Gamabunta. "Oops, my bad. Say baa-chan, you know anything about the Hirashin being on the forbidden scroll?"
Tsunade nearly screamed in frustration, hands pulling at her hair before she marched over and stole Naruto's sake jar and downed the remaining contents in one gulp. "Better," she said before fixing her gaze on Naruto firmly. "Why do you need to know Naruto? You already use Hirashin."
"Imperfectly," Naruto said bitterly. "I can use my father's jutsu, but from what Gamabunta just said, it needs to be keyed to a person. If that's true, then the only reason I can use my father's jutsu is that I'm his son, and I have enough chakra to force the jutsu to work, but it's tiring and it takes time."
"Neither of which is good for a combat jutsu," Tsunade said thoughtfully. "Assuming it is in the scroll, would you be able to adapt it to yourself?"
"Maybe?" Naruto replied unsure. "I'm getting pretty good with seals, and I think if I compare the difference between the original, and my father's I can see what is changed and where and modify it, but I can't guarantee that."
"Alright Naruto," Tsunade said after several moments of silence. "I will allow you to copy that one jutsu, for your own personal use, but I expect to be there when you test it. Is that clear."
"Sure Baa-chan, but why?"
"Something tells me that you're going to need a medic." Tsunade said with a sigh. I suppose I should escalate the mednin training for your household as well."
"Ah crap," Naruto said, his eyes popping open at the thought. "You won't tell them why right?"
"We'll see," Tsunade said with a smirk. "We'll see."
Naruto watched Tsunade leave in silence before moaning and holding his head with his hands. "I'm so freaking dead."
"Women," Bunta said with a chuckle, releasing a plume of smoke from his pipe.
"You aren't kidding," Naruto said with a sigh, unsealing another jar of sake and taking a deep pull. "No sense letting this go to waste, because I'm already going to pay for it."
"Well said Gaki, well said."
From the blissful darkness, spears of frozen light ripped through Naruto's eyes directly into his brain causing pain, a great deal of pain.
"Ahh, I'm up, I'm up," he mumbled, dragging himself over the side of the bed to land with a loud thump.
"So I see," Temari said crossly, hand still on the drape she'd just opened. "Mind telling me where you were last night and why you reek of sake?"
"Toads, Hirashin, stupid baa-chan," Naruto mumbled half coherently from his place on the floor. He was trying to get up, he really was, but the floor kept moving on him, and he felt it was safer to stay where he was.
Temari deliberately stomped her way over to Naruto, causing him to flinch every time her foot hit the ground. "Try that again please."
"I summoned Gamabunta," Naruto mumbled. "You know what the toads are like. Then Baa-chan showed up and things got messy."
Temari carefully sat on the edge of the bed, and carefully looked her husband over. His clothes were a torn, bloody mess, there were splinters everywhere, he had several cuts just beginning to heal, and several very impressive bruises.
"Hokage-sama did this to you?" she asked with some disbelief. She'd seen Tsunade punch Naruto through things, but the only time she'd seen him in a state anywhere near this was after the fight with her brother.
"No, after she left, Boss and I decided to spar." Naruto said with a groan. "I have regrets."
Temari blinked at that. "You decided to spar, with a toad the size of a small mountain? That's kind of crazy even for you. I assume the sake had something to do with that poor decision."
"It's possible," Naruto admitted, pushing himself up from the floor with a hiss of pain. "In my defense, it was a hell of a fight, and you should see Gamabunta."
On Toad Mountain, a heavily bandaged Gamabunta sat at the well showing a replay of his fight with Naruto to the other toads. "See, look at this," he said as Naruto charged in and was negligently flipped away and through a few trees to the laughter of the crowd. "Gaki gets right back up and does the same thing, but this time." Bunta slowed the replay down so everyone could see Naruto calmly dodge the strike with seeming ease, then do a flying uppercut powered with a large blue flash of chakra that sent Bunta flying this time.
Gamabunta stopped the replay at this point and addressed the crowd solemnly. "The Gaki seems a bit strange, even for a human, but push him, and he does things you wouldn't think possible. I want to begin a rotation, all combat toads will train or spar with Naruto as time allows. This will allow us to train him, but will also keep our own skills sharp. Naruto exploited several weaknesses in my guard, as seen here when he falcon punched me straight in the jaw. I wasn't expecting it, and I sure as hell didn't see it coming, but I'll be watching for it now.
"I see," Pa toad said thoughtfully, stroking his goatee. "If Naruto-chan has advanced this much in his control in his chakra, it may be time to accelerate his training."
"Not so fast," Ma toad said quickly. "I agree that he is improved, but I do not wish for another statue here on the mountain."
"Not to worry ma," Pa said carefully. "I said accelerate, not toss him off a cliff."
He was a little confused at why the words cause Gamabunta to scowl at him.
"So let me see if I've got this right," Temari said with a sigh, massaging the bridge of her nose. "You summoned Gamabunta to discuss the Hirashin, got drunk, got bitched out by Tsunade, forced Sakura and myself into further intensive mednin training, then decided that you were already screwed you so you might as well get even more drunk, and then finally, you decided to 'spar' with a toad the size of a mountain. Am I missing anything here?"
"Er, no, not really," Naruto said sheepishly, notably less effective with his paled skin and battle debris still present.
"You know, I can deal with all of that," Temari said finally. "It's somewhat to be expected really, but you know what I'm actually really pissed about?"
"Eh, no, not really?" Naruto semi-asked in confusion. Certainly it had to be one of those things.
"Naruto, look at yourself." She waited until he'd done so, then continued. "Now look at the bed."
A slow comprehension settled on his face, and his expression sank as he realized how badly he'd dirtied up the bed. While he hadn't made it under the covers before he'd passed out, the top of the comforter was covered in grass, mud, and blood, several spots looking to be very permanent stains.
"I'm going to guess that you want me to clean that up now?" he asked, getting a firm nod in reply. "Yes dear," he said, his shoulders slumping.
Temari cupped his chin in her hand and tilted his face up to towards hers. Finding a spot not covered in various debris, she planted a quick peck before getting up and heading for the door.
"I'm be at that medical training you inflicted on me if you need me," she said with a light heat to her tone. "But I do know what you're going to be doing today."
"This really sucks," Naruto grumbled as he stared at the small hole he'd managed to dig with his spoon."
"Tell us something we don't know," Sakura and Ino chorused at him from their own holes. "You were the one that came up with this, seems fitting you should suffer with us," Sakura finished getting a firm nod of agreement from Ino.
"Less talking, more digging," Anko called from her usual perch.
"You are such a traitor," Naruto growled at her with narrowed eyes. "I bought that dango!"
"Very tasty it was," Anko agreed readily. "But I am honor bound to aid my fellow women against all enemies, domestic or home wrecker."
Naruto couldn't help it, he began laughing, and once he started, he couldn't stop. Barely able to breathe, the indignant sputters from Ino only served to cause him further laughter. Finally able to breathe, he brushed a tear from his eye and began to dig far more cheerfully. "Thanks Anko-chan," he told the perplexed woman. "I really needed a good laugh, but I suppose now would be the best time to tell all three of you that Baa-chan intends to put you through intensive training starting tomorrow right? Temari is doing her first session today, tomorrow, you guys go too."
"The hell I am," Anko said, recoiling away in horror. "I'm no mednin, and I already trained under a Sannin, even if he was a murderous, treacherous bastard. Why the hell would I go?"
Naruto stood up and calmly brushed the dirt from his hands as he faced Anko directly. "Because the order extends to all members of the Uzumaki household, and for your sins, that includes you now."
"What?' Anko asked uneasily, hand running against her neck unconsciously.
"Well, it does if you want it to," Naruto said with a frown, unsure about her reaction. "Temari-chan suggested it to me, but I fully agree, and it's not like you don't spend enough time here anyway."
"I'm not good," Anko said hoarsely, voice full of unspoken pain. "I'm loud, I'm rude, I was apprenticed to a traitor, I"
"Seek attention in any way possible because it hurts less than being completely ignored or shunned?" Naruto asked knowingly. He pointed a finger at his chest. "I'm pretty sure I understand you more than you think I do."
Anko barked out a laugh, though it sounded more like a strangled sob than anything else.
"Yeah, I can see that Gaki, but what exactly are you proposing here anyway?"
"Well, ideally we would adopt you into the clan like we did with Sakura-chan, but I'm not so sure that's a good idea," Naruto replied.
"Right," Anko said self-loathingly. "Probably not a good idea to officially make me a clan member."
"Eh, I'm not worried about that," Naruto said hurriedly, managing to connect the dots as to why. He tapped his chest again. "So far the clan consists of a fairly normal kunoichi, a crazy clan leader, and a very strange kunoichi," he warily eyed Sakura and wondered if that eye twitch thing was something all kunoichi did, or if it was specific to mednin.
"Oh, and let's not forget about the ANBU kunoichi retainer, toad summons, and last but not least, a bunch of foxes that can melt your face off."
Anko's laugh was a great deal more genuine as she slumped back against the trunk of her tree.
"I seriously doubt adding another crazy ANBU member, and especially the snake summons would be politically wise. There are those that would see this as a power grab."
"Fuck'em," Naruto said disparagingly. "We are not offering you a place in our family because you're strong, or because of the summons. We are offering you a place because we like you, and no one should be alone," he finished softly. He moved closer to where Anko was and lowered his voice so Ino and Sakura couldn't hear him.
"The reason I can't do the adoption ceremony like we did with Sakura is that I have no idea how it would react with your cursed seal."
"How do you know about that?" Anko nearly screeched before lowering her vice to a whisper as well. "That's very classified, how do you know about it?"
"Seal-master in training here," Naruto replied puffing out his chest proudly. "Ero-Sennin left notes about it in my study. I know he wasn't able to make much headway with it, but I think he thought that I might be able to."
"Did you?" Anko asked hopefully.
"No, sorry," Naruto replied with a sigh. "I'm not anywhere as skilled as he is, and it's like there are missing pieces to it as well. I'll keep working on it though, I promise."
"That's alright," Anko said somewhat resigned. "Was probably too much to hope for I guess."
"I mean it," Naruto said determinedly. "I'll figure I out, and I never go back on my promises, it's my nindo after all."
"I believe you," Anko said with a rare genuine smile. "For those of us that had nothing else, we still had our word didn't we Gaki?"
"Damn straight," Naruto said proudly. "So. Is that a yes? Cause I really do need an answer"
"You sure don't give a women much time to make up her mind." Anko said with a mischievous grin. "Ok, I totally agree to marry you," she said in a loudly.
"Say what?" Naruto blinked before going extremely pale at the sudden explosion of rage he felt behind him. "Oh, you are such a bitch!"
"Just remember, you wanted me," Anko said in a sing-song manner before cackling madly and leaping away.
"Well shit," Naruto said, as a combined punch from Sakura and Ino slammed into his head. "This is just not my day."
Watching from a perch in the trees nearby, Temari sighed and shook her head, reaching up and running a palm across her face wearily.
"It's certainly never boring around here," Yugao commented to her idly as the two women watched the irate girls pound on what they thought was Naruto, but was actually Naruto creating shadow clones from where he'd substituted himself before the first strike.
"I suppose it is entertainment of a sort," Temari conceded. "I'm not sure if I'm more annoyed with those two for beating on what they think is my husband, or at Naruto for playing along with it."
"Frankly I'm surprised you're not irritated at Anko," Yugao commented lightly.
"No, I saw that one coming," Temari said with a chuckle. "I'm a little surprised Naruto didn't, but we both know that he tends not to think of other things when he speaks from the heart."
"It's because he is a good man," Yugao said sadly, reflecting on the loss of her good man before the invasion.
"I know," Temari replied with a slight grin, unaware of the other woman's thoughts. "It's the reason I came to love him, though he still needs to be housebroken a little."
"I'm not sure that's really possible for any man," Yugao joked. "There are always rough edges you just can't get rid of."
"Not that I'd really want to," Temari said with a great deal of warmth in her tone. "I just want him to think about what he's going to do, before he does it, more."
"I think you might be underestimating him Temari-san," Yugao said politely.
"Sometimes it's hard not to," Temari said with a sigh as Naruto's laughter gave away his position and he found himself dragged out of the tree by Sakura's chakra chains.
"Sometimes, you just need a little faith," Yugao said with a smirk as the Naruto in the chains burst into smoke showing itself to be a clone.
"True enough," Temari coincided. "Wonder where he actually went?"
"Try looking up," Naruto said in an amused tone, startling both women who looked up to see Naruto standing upside down on the branch above their heads.
"How long have you been there?" Temari asked suspiciously.
"Just got here," Naruto said with a shrug, dropping down to join them. "Sakura about nailed me with those damn chakra chains, and I decided I'd come join you ladies."
"You knew we were here all along?" Yugao asked skeptically.
"Of course," Naruto replied. I've got this whole area covered in henged clones. No one notices the pebble or stick that puffs away, and I know what's going on."
"I wish I had the chakra to do that," Yugao said wistfully. I can only handle a few clones for a very short amount of time."
"I'm a bit surprised," Naruto said getting a nod of agreement from Temari. "You're part Uzumaki, even if only a little, shouldn't you have more chakra?
"I don't know?" Yugao blinked. "I have more chakra than most of the kunoichi in the village, but not by all that much."
Naruto scratched his head in confusion. "Yugao-chan, if I'm this close to someone, I can get a pretty good read on how strong someone is."
"I didn't know that," Temari said a bit miffed. "Why didn't you tell me that?"
"I didn't know it was anything special," Naruto said with a shrug. "Not till I learned about sensors, and after that, it pretty much slipped my mind. It's why Gaara scared the crap out of me when we first met. Other than Jiji, I hadn't ever felt someone that strong."
"Didn't you run into Orochimaru in the chunin exams?" Yugao asked.
"Yeah, but I never actually got all that close, we were in the middle of battle, and from what I know, he was actively hiding his strength so he wouldn't be detected."
"Makes sense," Temari commented. "So, how strong is Yugao?"
"Pretty strong," Naruto said, trying to find a good comparison. "If I use you as a baseline, she's about half again as strong, and you're stronger than most I've met Temari-chan."
"She's a jonin," Temari pouted, forcing Naruto to resist the urge to point out how cute it made her. "I haven't reached my full potential yet."
"You know, if you really want more chakra, we could always make you an Uzumaki," Naruto joked, getting a giggle from Yugao and a glare from Temari.
"I am an Uzumaki," Temari huffed playfully, unable to resist a return strike. "I'm already married to you, so being blood related would be, I don't know, icky."
"True enough," Naruto agreed cheerfully. "But anyway, you should be able to make at least a few clones that last," he said to Yugao, getting the conversation back on track. "Can you focus your chakra for me? I might be able to determine something."
"Sure, I guess," Yugao said, Making a sign and forcing her chakra out, causing a visible blue aura to surround her.
"Impressive," Temari said, somewhat in shock at the strength Yugao had. She'd seen stronger, Naruto and Gaara were vastly stronger, she'd seen her father's chakra flare a few times, and then there were the times Tsunade had punched Naruto through something, but Yugao was damn impressive for a fairly normal kunoichi.
"Are you really putting everything into it," Naruto asked skeptically.
"Of course I am," Yugao snarled at him, trying to hold her concentration. Trying to focus this much chakra was extremely hard, it kept trying to slip away from her.
"I think I know what the problem is," Naruto said finally, motioning a visibly tired Yugao to stop.
"What is it?" she said once she'd gotten her breathing under control.
"I don't think you actually learned how to control your chakra," Naruto said with some irritation. "I have the same problem, the more chakra I use, the harder it is to control, and if I use too much, most jutsu just blow up in my face. I get around a lot of that by just making the jutsu larger, so it won't, but I have lots of clones practicing chakra control every day, and still have that same problem."
"You also have a lot more chakra than I do Naruto-sama," Yugao pointed out respectfully.
"Yes, but it's still the same problem. My guess is that your jonin-sensei had you stop doing chakra control when you mastered tree and water walking, and for a lot of shinobi or kunoichi that would be fine, but not for us."
"Fantastic," Yugao growled. "Chakra control exercises, what fun."
"Very," Naruto agreed dryly. "But, you've got the juice to use a clone or two, and have less chakra so you won't be bored stupid when they disperse and you have the equivalent of a week's worth of chakra exercises download into your head. It really, really sucks."
"I wonder if that would be useful for me as well," Temari said thoughtfully. "I know I can't use shadow clones, at least for now, but more control would be good, and I rarely have much of anything to do right now."
"I've seen you practicing with those little fans," Naruto pointed out. "Bouncing that little ball of wind between them is both good elemental and chakra control training, so you probably won't have to do all the boring ones we have to." He paused and thought about it. "Come to think of it, I could probably have a few clones work on that as well, given that my first element is wind."
"We could make it better," Temari smirked. "Seal a table so we don't shred it, and we can hit the wind ball back and forth with tessen."
"I like it," Naruto said excitedly. "We can make it into a game, make the ball have to bounce one on the table and past the other to score a point. Make it first to 15 to win?"
"As the voice of sanity here, I would like to point out that missing the ball as you call it would possibly kill you," Yugao said deadpan and Naruto and Temari began thrashing out the rules to their new game. "Oh who am I kidding," she said with a sigh, you're going to do it anyway aren't you."
Over time, despite several attempts to ban it, Razor pong as it came to be known, because a very popular past time for ninja across the elemental lands. As may be expected, most champions came from Suna, the larger amount of wind users there allowed far more practice, but only the Kazekage was foolish enough to challenge the Hokage to a match. Given the nature of the two, their relationship as brother-in-laws, and their sheer power, most of their so called matches had to be held away from the villages. A retired Tsunade was not pleased the day a sand encased, razor-sharp wind ball sliced straight between the eyes of her face on the Hokage monument. Urban legend states that the former Hokage chased the two responsible around the village for several hours to the extreme annoyance of the Hokage's wife who finally put an end to it by blasting all three Kages completely out of the village with her fan.
"It's really time," Naruto asked excitedly, nearly hopping in place as he stood next to Temari's hospital bed.
"For the last time, yes." Temari growled, hand clamping down on Naruto's arm hard enough to make him wince as another contraction hit. "Now, for the love of all that is holy, would you please settle down!"
"Sorry Temari-chan," A chastened Naruto apologized. "I'm just really excited, and nervous, and worried, and scared, and…"
He came to an abrupt halt as Temari awkwardly yanked him face to face.
"I know that," she said quietly. "And I feel the same way, but you're driving me crazy!" She saw some hurt in his eyes, the residue of the life he'd lead, and pulled him closer to softly kiss him.
"I love you," she reassured him after breaking the kiss off. "Wholeheartedly and completely, but this hurts, and you are not helping, ok?"
"Gomen, Temari-chan," Naruto said, calmed down some. "It's just, this is the most wonderful thing, and I really don't know what to do. Would it be better if I waited outside?"
"No it wouldn't baka-husband," She replied with a slight smirk. "This is your moment too, I just need you to calm down some."
"I can do that," Naruto said seriously, accenting it with a firm nod of his head. "You look so beautiful right now."
"I look like utter crap," Temari snarked back, unable to keep a smile from her face before groaning as another contraction hit.
"I'm serious," Naruto said, clasping her hand tightly with his and using his free hand to gently stroke her sweat-soaked hair from her face. "You're even more beautiful now than you were on our wedding day."
"You are such a liar," Temari said with a chuckle, though any other retort was cut short when Tsunade noisily cleared her throat from the end of the bed.
"As touching as this is," she said with a mix of mild sarcasm and envy. "Perhaps my staff and I can get to work now?"
"Oh, right," Naruto said with a light blush, squeezing Temari's hand again before getting up and backing away a few feet.
"Thank you," Tsunade said rolling her eyes at Naruto's jittery behavior. "Relax Naruto, this is far from the first delivery I've done."
"No offense Baa-chan, but aren't there specialized doctors for this," Naruto pointed out, getting a glare in return. "I really don't mean to offend, but you and Shizune-chan are combat medics, not baby doctors."
"That's true," a partially mollified Tsunade conceded, motioning Shizune forward to assist her as she began working. "But I do know what I'm doing, and if you think I would allow anyone else to deliver the first new member of our family, you would be sadly mistaken."
"Aww, so sweet," Naruto couldn't help but tease, getting a rare blush from Tsunade before she with fixed him with a glare that wiped the smile right off his face.
"Sorry Baa-chan, he said, shuffling nervously. "It's still very sweet of you," he continued, recovering his nerve, "Thank you."
"Sow it Gaki," Tsunade said gruffly, unable to keep a slight smile from her own face. She pointedly ignored the chuckles coming from Shizune and Temari as she focused back on her work.
"Alright, looking good so far, fully dilated, and you've got wider hips so even blockheaded babies like Naruto should be easy." She was unable to resist at least some immediate payback.
"Hey!" Temari said indignantly, before hissing in pain as another contraction hit. "My hips are not that wide!"
"In this case, better that they are," Shizune interjected kindly. "It makes for a much easier delivery."
"Yes," Tsunade agreed distractedly as she continued to monitor Temari closely. "It helps that you're older, your body more mature as well. If you were younger, like Sakura or Ino for example, I would be more concerned…" She cut off mid-sentence and grimaced.
"Damn it, Shizune, we have a breech," she said curtly causing Shizune to gasp. "Get Naruto out of here and get the resident OBGYN here now!"
"What!? What's going on," Naruto demanded as Shizune grabbed his arm and dragged him towards the door with surprising force.
"A breech is when the baby is coming out other than head first," Shizune explained hurriedly, greatly simplifying it for Naruto's benefit. I'm sorry Naruto-kun, we need the space, so you can't stay in here," she said, more or less tossing him out the door before picking up the phone to page the requested staff.
"Hey!' Naruto shouted, pounding on the door, after recovering from being tossed into eh hall. "Is Temari-chan going to be alright? Hey, answer me!"
"Naruto, calm down!' Kakashi commanded from where he was sitting near most of Naruto and Temari's friends. Carefully marking his place in his book, he stood up and strode over to Naruto, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"You trust Tsunade-sama don't you?" he asked with an eye-smile.
"Yeah, I guess," Naruto said, slumping against the wall in resignation. "It's just everything was going so well, and then boom, Tsunade freaks out and tells Shizune-chan to stick me out here and call in more doctors. She is going to be alright, isn't she Kakashi-sensei. What do I do if she isn't? I promised Gaara I would protect her, but this isn't something that I can punch!"
"What exactly did she say?" Sakura asked, the designated spokeswoman for the group because of her connection to Naruto. While the rest of the Konoha 11 were fond of Naruto, even Neji in his own peculiar way, no one really wanted to press him in what appeared to be a very stressful moment. Even Kiba was subdued, remaining seated and slowly stroking Akamaru's fur. Almost as brash, stubborn and reckless as Naruto, his time working as a vet for his clan had given him a much better understanding and empathy for how Naruto must be feeling.
"She said it was a breech," Naruto replied to Sakura, slumping against the wall.
"That's not good," Sakura said as a team of doctors came racing by to be admitted to the delivery room by Shizune. "There are often complications, but Tsunade-sama knows what she's doing, you have to believe that Naruto."
"I know," Naruto said wearily, "I know, and I do thank you all for coming, even if things haven't gone according to plan." He managed to force a smile, though most there wished he hadn't. Pale as he was, it gave him a somewhat feral air. "I really appreciate you being here."
"It's cool," Kiba said shortly after getting smack upside the head by Hinata of all people. More understanding and empathy did not mean better word choice.
"I understand that it is the duty of friends to be there for another at important moments," Shino said seriously, pushing his shades tighter to his face as was his habit. "I am, glad, that we could be here for you in your time of need."
W-what he means to say Naruto-kun, is that we are all here for you," Hinata managed to get out, only somewhat flustered.
Ino remained sitting quietly, head hung, hands tightly clasped together in her lap. Per her clan's training, she saw the possible opportunity presenting itself, but the circumstances dismayed her greatly. She'd decided that yes, she did want Naruto, and this was a possible chance in the making, but she greatly liked and respected Temari. She wanted to join the family as it was, gaining not just a husband, but a sister as well. The most she could manage given the conflict within was to raise her head and give Naruto the most reassuring smile she could. She failed, completely and utterly, but most chalked it up to how close she was to Temari.
"Perhaps a game of Shogi would take your mind off?" Shikamaru suggested. "Not the best time, I agree, but it does help pass time more quickly."
"Yeah," Choji said, backing up his best friend as always. "I've got a bag of chips for the winner!"
"It probably beats walking a hole through the floor," Naruto said reluctantly, straightening from his place against the wall. "I doubt I'll be a very good opponent right now, but I guess you're on Shikamaru."
"That's the spirit Naruto-kun," Lee said enthusiastically, thumbs up and teeth flashing before Tenten calmly smacked him and raised a finger to her lips.
"Hospital Lee, remember. Indoor voice."
"Oh, very sorry Tenten," lee replied, just as enthusiastically, if much quieter. "For forgetting my manners, I must walk around the hospital 500 times on my hands, and if I cannot do that…" His voice trailed off as he set off to do another one of his crazy self-punishments, Gai following and quietly cheering his cherished pupil on.
Unlike in the past, Neji had unwound enough that he rolled his eyes rather than glared disdainfully after the parting duo.
"At least it should be quieter," he remarked sincerely, getting a nod of agreement from pretty much everyone there, even Naruto. As a Hyuga, he was still formal, but a small smile did appear as he spoke to Naruto. "I wish only for the best outcome Naruto-san. I believe that Temari-san is both strong and a fierce fighter, you will not lose her this day."
"That actually means a great deal coming from you," Naruto said sincerely as Shikamaru pulled out his ever present travel shogi kit and began setting up the board.
Neji nodded his acknowledgement of the meaning behind Naruto's words, before a thought struck him.
"Perhaps now you will refrain from dyeing my clothes pink Naruto?"
"It was that or your hair," Naruto replied. "I mean, I have no understanding of what you might mean Neji-san."
"You've already played me back many, many times for my own indiscretion," Neji was very careful to avoid the word prank in his reply. "May I suggest the matter simply be considered resolved?"
"I suppose we may," Naruto replied semi-formally as a courtesy to Neji. "Though that reminds me, I need to borrow you and your eyes sometime soon I think."
"What did you need?"
"Something keeps tripping my perimeter security, but I can't figure it out, and neither can the foxes. I was hoping you might spot something."
"Oh, the task seems simple enough, I could perform it now if you wish."
"No, the estate is on lockdown right now. Trying to enter without me or another authorized person would be extremely unpleasant. Besides, I want to be there when you do."
"As you wish," Neji replied with a restrained shrug. The offer was of course genuine, but he felt that his place at the moment was here with his comrades. Even now, it was sometimes hard to think of them as his friends, but they were, even if he sometimes had trouble calling them that even in his mind.
Several hours passed, Naruto getting more and more tense, though to Shikamaru's chagrin, even distracted, Naruto still kept kicking his ass in shogi. It was amazingly unfair, he told himself. Naruto was barely even looking at the damn board, and seemed to be just randomly moving pieces, but every time it shut down something Shikamaru was planning. Not for the first time, Shikamaru wondered exactly how smart Naruto actually was. He himself was able to adapt on the fly to situations as needed, even if usually reluctantly, but Naruto was a master of improvisation. Of course, a great many of the things he did were crazy, but Shika forcibly reminded himself of the old saying 'If it's crazy and it works, it's not crazy.' He was pulled from his thoughts as the door opened and a tired looking Shizune beckoned to Naruto who rocketed out of his chair fast enough to knock it over.
Entering the room, Naruto gasped in horror at the amount of blood, and the tired, battered look Temari had. He brightened up some when she managed to smile at him weakly. Hurrying across the room, he clasped her hands in his and sank down, head buried on her chest as he began to cry.
"I thought I was going to lose you," he sobbed.
Not generally a fan of men crying, Temari decided that this was a very special circumstance, one she approved of. There had always been a fear, buried deep down that Naruto didn't actually love her, that he was just making the best of a bad situation. It wasn't something she ever talked about, and truly it only surfaced from time to time when she was feeling at her lowest, but these tears were not fake. They were the tears of a man that thought he'd lost everything, only to discover that he hadn't. She'd even forgive him for ignoring their children, if only just this once.
Working a hand free of his grip, she raised it to stroke his face near his whisker marks, as always amazed at how soft his skin was because of his healing ability.
"Naruto," she said hoarsely. "I'm very grateful that you are happy I'm still here, but aren't you forgetting something? She nodded her head to where a cooing Tsunade was making faces at a bundle in her arms.
"Right!" Naruto exclaimed, shooting up and barely remembering to let Temari's hand go before he dragged her off the bed. He stopped, and looked at Temari uncertainly. He truly wanted to meet his children, but was unsure about leaving his wife in her condition.
"Just go Baka-husband," Temari said fondly, unable to resist the urge to roll her eyes at him. "It's not like you're going far."
Shooed away by Temari, Naruto carefully moved up to Tsunade and stood on his toes to peep into the bundle she was holding. Unfocused blue eyes matching his own, met his, and Naruto was completely and utterly lost. In that instant, meeting one of his children for the very first time, Naruto understood love in its purist and simplest concept. He loved his wife, despite her rough spots and somewhat tsundere tendencies, but that relationship had taken time and effort to build. This was instant.
"May I please?" he asked unsteadily, his voice nearly as shaky as he felt.
Tsunade eyed him warily for a moment, seemingly trying to determine if it was safe to hand a newborn to the obviously rattled teen, but eventually handed her cargo over very carefully.
Very, very carefully, Naruto accepted his child from Tsunade, copying how to hold his arms from what she had been doing. Finally getting a better look, he found himself barely able to breathe at the sheer beauty of his child. He drank in the little stub nose, the faint whisker marks on silky smooth cheeks, and the tuft of dark red hair with traces of gold mixed in.
"So beautiful," he murmured unconsciously, getting a smile from Tsunade he never even notice, so focused on the baby in his arms.
"Is this Minato or Karura?" he asked softly, still unable to tear his gaze away.
"This little beauty is Karura," Tsunade replied gently. "I think she's already got her daddy wrapped around her little fingers," she teased.
"Oh, absolutely," Naruto breathed in response. "Absolutely."
"Tsunade-sama," one of the nurses called, breaking into the little world Naruto and Tsunade were floating in. "The scale isn't working."
"What?" Tsunade nearly snarled at the interruption. "It just worked when we weighed Karura."
"I know," the nurse replied calmly. "It is not working now though Hokage-sama. We can probably use the one in the next room, it would certainly be faster than waiting on a replacement or repairs."
"Fine," Tsunade agreed grumpily. She had an issue with things not working at the hospital, and this minor issue was holding up the entire family meeting each other. She was not pleased in the least and someone was going to pay.
Naruto was not a suspicious or paranoid person in general, for a shinobi there were times that he could be pretty damn naïve, but something about the situation was bothering him. Though he had been thrown out of the room earlier, Yugao, as Temari's bodyguard had remained, positioned in the corner of the room. This had irritated Naruto, when he was tossed from the room and she wasn't, but he was glad she was here now. Jerking his head, he motioned Yugao to follow the nurse carrying his son, unwilling to take many chances even here in the heart of Konoha.
Seemingly ignoring the byplay, though quietly approving of Naruto's actions, Tsunade cleared her throat as she tried to figure out how to tell Naruto her news.
"Naruto, listen, there's something I have to tell you."
"Baa-chan?" Naruto asked cautiously. There was an uncertain quality to her tone that he was not use to.
"It's about Temari," she began. "This was a very hard birth, and it's going to have some effects on her."
"Baa-chan?" Naruto repeated, frightened beyond the ability to think of something else to say.
"No, it's not like that Naruto," Tsunade said hurriedly to his relief. "With time, she'll recover and be ok, but there was some damage done, a lot of scaring we can't repair."
"Baa-chan," Naruto said tersely. "Scars, damage, that doesn't mean much to me, tell me what it actually means."
"Right," Tsunade said uncharacteristically nervous. "What it boils down to is that any future pregnancies for Temari will be very chancy."
"Chancy how?" Naruto asked, eyes narrowed.
"High probabilities of miscarriage," Tsunade replied evenly. "Increased risk of other complications. Basically, if the two of you want more children, she'll be forced to bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy."
"Oh, that really sucks," Naruto said, understating his feelings on the matter by a great deal. "Have you told her yet?" he asked motioning with his head at his dozing wife.
"Yes, she knows," Tsunade replied. "She said it might be worth it for more as beautiful as these two."
"No," Naruto said firmly. "There is no way I would do that to her. She barely got through limited mobility this time, cooping her up in bed for nine months would be horrible. I simply couldn't do that to her, even if she asked me too."
"It's something for the two of you to discuss in the future anyway," Tsunade demurred.
"Speaking of the two of them, shouldn't that nurse be back by now?" Naruto asked, handing his daughter off to Shizune intending to investigate.
Almost as soon as he finished handing Karura off, a bloody blade stabbed through the wall connecting to the next room, and Naruto felt the blood freeze in his veins. "Minato?" he roared.
Tsunade made a break for the door, but an enraged Naruto beat her to the punch and with a surge of chakra simply punched his way through the wall with a rasengan.
The Iwa kunoichi, still mostly in her disguise as a nurse shrieked in terror at coming face to face with a visibly furious Naruto, a near spitting image of his father in the dim light. Two other Iwa shinobi lay dead on the floor, victims of Yugao's blade, but she'd been overwhelmed by numbers before she could finish them, and the disguised nurse had been just about to finish her off.
Further enraged at the sight and without the time to draw any weapons, he shifted his hand as her kunai flashed towards Yugao's neck, and whipped out a very fine stream of wind chakra, slicing the Iwa kunoichi in half. Before the body even hit the floor, he darted towards the open window, catching a flash of someone rapidly retreating away from the hospital, carrying a bundle in their arms.
Roaring in rage, Naruto smashed his way through the wall and began chasing after the dead fool carrying his son away from him.
Even as quick as she was, Tsunade barely made it into the room before Naruto made his own door through the outside wall, and she felt like tearing her hair out in frustration. Scooping the wounded Yugao up, she directed the arriving ANBU to assist Naruto before carrying Yugao into the delivery room and depositing her on the second bed in the room.
A quick scan told her that Yugao was badly wounded, but would survive, so she turned her care over to the other doctors and began trying to sort out the mess that was going on.
She didn't get far before a cry from Shizune alerted her to the fact that Temari was struggling to get out of bed, and she was forced to go deal with the enraged Uzumaki Matriarch.
"My baby!" Temari snarled as Tsunade physically pinned her to the bed. "They have my SON!"
"Yes, they do," Tsunade snarled back. "But Naruto is already pursuing, as are several ANBU squads, and you are no use to anyone if you are dead!"
Her words did nothing to stop Temari's attempts to escape, and Tsunade cursed as a cry from Shizune caused her to notice Temari was bleeding again."
"Fuck!" Tsunade cursed as the sheets around Temari's legs began to turn crimson. It was obvious that Temari would continue to try and drag herself from her bed until she bleed out, so with reluctance, Tsunade used medical chakra to knock her out. She doubted Temari would forgive her for it anytime soon, but she would settle for the girl being alive and hating her.
Kurotsuchi franticly dashed across the rooftops of Konoha, putting all of her not inconsiderable strength into fleeing the wrath continuously closing the gap on her. With a great deal of relief, she managed to clear the gates and make it across the cleared grounds and into the woods before Naruto caught up with her. Though not a match for Leaf ninja in a forest, many Iwa ninja spent a great deal of time learning how to move quietly and silently through woods because of that fact.
She was forced to hide in a hurry as Naruto shot past her overhead, not thinking about using his sensor abilities, only reclaiming his son and maiming those responsible. Several minutes later, she was forced to hide again as several ANBU squads also sped by, these focused on the destruction left in Naruto's wake.
At this point, she realized that it was extremely unlikely she would meet up with the recovery team alive, and frankly she doubted they would be alive much longer anyway. She'd warned her grandfather that pissing off the Kyubi Jinchuriki was a bad idea, but the stubborn fool wouldn't listen. She'd hoped to avoid the orders she'd received by defecting to the Uzumaki clan, but she'd been refused. She'd really hoped he would take her up on the offer, she actually liked him, and she would have avoided being in this mess, but life was frequently a bitch.
Checking the bundle in her arms, Kuro cursed when she realized that she had Naruto's son, not his daughter. The orders had been for the daughter, though she actively avoided thinking about what sort of fate would have been in store for her. Cursing at the mission again, Kuro turned back towards the village, she had several other ideas how she could escape this mess, and frankly, she didn't want to be anywhere near where Naruto was at present. Sooner or later, he was going to remember he was a sensor, and then she was completely fucked.
Hiroki was an experienced Iwa jonin, a survivor of the Third Ninja war, and more impressively, had survived Minato Namikaze. That was the story spun for the Iwa public, though Hikori was secretly shamed by the fact his dead genin teammates had covered his body, saving his life. Still, after the war, Iwa needed some sort of good news for the population, and Hiroki became a hero. Unlike many others, Hiroki had attempted to live up to his reputation, training continuously until he was considered to be one of the very best, the elite of Iwa jonin not affiliated with a clan. He'd argued strenuously against this mission, feeling that it was very unwise to make an enemy of Minato's son and heir to his jutsu. From every report he'd read, the boy was extremely unlikely to hold a grudge against Iwa for the Third War, but this, this would make him an enemy for life.
Still, orders were orders, and he'd done the absolute best he could to train the men assigned to the mission into a capable and coherent force. He'd received the signal indicating the mission was in progress, and had advanced his men to the rendezvous point, but for some reason, he had the strong suspicion that things had not gone well. When his sensors reported a very powerful chakra signature rapidly approaching their position, Hiroki simply knew who was coming, and he had the feeling he and his men would not be among the living for much longer.
Ordering his men into their positions, he stepped forward to act as a lure, but even he was taken aback by the apparent reincarnation of Minato Namikaze that dropped into the clearing in front of him. There was a moment of shocked silence, as both sides studied their opponent before the battle began.
Even as enraged as he was, Naruto cursed himself as six kinds of fool after he dropped down near the Iwa encampment. While he was confident of his skills, the twenty odd jonin in front of him might be a bit more than he could chew off. Unwilling to back off, not with what was at stake, Naruto drew his kodachi, and created a small army of clones that leapt forward to attack, most screaming in rage.
As an interesting side effect, Naruto himself felt a great deal calmer after creating the clones, and he began to analyze the attacks of the Iwa jonin as they tore into his clones in a panic.
Blending into the still swarming clones, Naruto nimbly dodged several errant rock spears before a quick backhand with his kodachi tore open the throat of one of the Iwa jonin, the man thrashing and clamping his hands to his neck in the brief moments before he died. In other locations, several other Iwa jonin were tag-teamed by groups of clones and rapidly removed from the fight. While he generally preferred a less lethal combat approach, tonight the Iwa ninja learned exactly how lethal Naruto could be if pressed.
Spotting a jonin holding his own against the clones using a very impressive mobile shield of rock, Naruto eased through the fighting until he was close enough to whip several chakra string guided wind blades through the shield and completely through the man behind it. In other times, Naruto might have noted the shocked expression on the man's face as he was literally sliced into pieces.
Hiroki was not having a good night. No matter how hard his men fought, there was a seemingly never ending army of orange coated figures, and while none of them had used the Hirashin yet, he was in awe of the many absurdly powerful jutsu that were being used. Pulling the two squads remaining to him back, Hiroki began issuing orders attempting to withdraw when a sound behind him, cause him to whirl in around in disbelief.
To his shock and horror, there were even more of those damn clones behind his men, and several of them were charging what had to be the rasengan, only these made the original one look like a child's toy. Darting forward, the clones began delivering their near beach ball size payload with incredible quickness. Hiroki barely had time to scream before a clone plunged the energized chakra ball through his chest, the pain excruciating as it ate away at nerves before death finally took him.
Wiping his kodachi clean before resealing it, Naruto scowled at the dead ninja scattered over the clearing before releasing his clones. Despite his best efforts, he hadn't gotten out of the fight unscathed, several bloody cuts marked his coat, and he wondered how long it would take to heal the huge gash ripped out of his shoulder. It seemed that Temari was right in that old argument about the vest. Several jagged ugly splinters of rock were stuck in it, and if the vest hadn't stopped them, they would have really hurt, possible even slowed him down enough that he wouldn't have wont his fight without drawing on the fox.
Turning to leave, he caught a brief flash of familiar chakra, causing his face to twist in disgust. Danzo. He doubt the old buzzard was behind this, the old war-hawk would never allow Iwa to acquire Namikaze or Uzumaki bloodlines, but he'd just shown pretty much all of his abilities to one man he didn't want to know.
For his part, Danzo was reevaluating several of his plans in light of the marked increase in combat skills of the Jinchuriki. Given the one-sided nature of the fight between a full company of jonin Iwa shinobi and the vessel, he had been correct in his belief that the vessel was not actually worthless. As it was, if the boy could be steered away from Hiruzen's methods, it was possible the boy might even make a fine Hokage someday. Of course, someone would have to teach him, perhaps it was time to try the carrot, and not the stick.
Ignoring the ANBU arriving to secure the scene, Naruto began slowly making his way towards the village, scanning as far and wide as he possibly could. His son was somewhere nearby, and he would not stop until he found Minato, and when he did, whoever had him was going to suffer before they died.
"You think your power is what shapes the world you walk in. But that is an illusion. Your choices shape your world. You think your power will protect you from the consequences of those choices. But you are wrong. You create your own rewards. There is a Judge. There is Justice in this world. And one day you will receive what you have earned. Choose carefully."
― Jim Butcher, Skin Game
Been a long time, and I usually don't have net access anymore so this was written pretty much from memory about what has happened so far. I hope I didn't screw up too badly, but if I did, I can only apologize. Things haven't been the greatest around here, and that has very much affected my ability or even desire to write. The daughters are still good, but other than that, man life sucks. Ja ne guys. Agg out 07
Oh, PS. Thanks to everyone that fav'd, followed or reviewed. I'm extremely sorry that I didn't get back to anyone on any of those or even PMS but I haven't been on the site since that last chapter was posted. Really sorry guys.