I do not own Naruto, Teen Titans, nor any other element that may or may not appear in this story! This story is for entertainment purposes only.
Silent as the...
Chapter 14: A little elaboration, a little craziness
Rooftop of Mega Meaty Meat (Foreclosed), Jump City
He knew the world was still moving on its own accord. Pedestrians within earshot were screaming, panicking, and fleeing on their own accord. Passing cars screech in one manner or another by means of their tires squealing, their horns blaring, and the sound of metal smashing into something more imposing than it or at least just as durable in nature. More often than not it was a combination of two out of the three, however short lived they were. Pigeons and other birds that had called it a night even flew away from their near hidden roosts in startled flocks. Yet despite all of that it seemed that time had taken a personal interest in an act of macabre betrayal.
A part of him even wondered how he did it; how Naruto just killed off probably the one and only person who had been fighting for him in her own particular fashion. A vest laden with explosives? Too bulky and hard to hide thanks to her current attire. Grenade? He'd at least have to dive into his pocket or at least a similar hold for it. It had to be a explosive tag in the end. A particular nasty tool for ninja that was just as terrible as, if not more so than C4.
Everyone but the one who had ended, as well as Kakashi to a lesser extent, stood to watch in horrified awe as scant body parts, blood that wasn't vaporized, and bones went to be completely pulverized flew about to strike what they may. Naruto had bounded towards the edge of the roof the second he let go of the unconscious teen's hand and vanished in a blur, leaving Kakashi to deal with a catatonic Guy whose mind was trying to comprehend what had just happened. They too soon disappeared in a blur the moment there was a hint of his muscled giving way to movement. Now it was just them to gaze upon what little remained of an otherwise loose ally: A teenage leader whose experience helped dull the pain and keep him sober enough not to fall prey to the grizly scene before him... just yet at least. A cybernetic hero whose body and jaw stood frozen in shock not unlike Might Guy before he disappeared. A tamaranean who looked on with widened eyes, both hands drawn up to cover what it could of a sickened gape. A mystic who further wrapped herself up into her cloak to the point where the most could be seen of her was the vague contours of her body. Last but not least a meta-human of green skin and hair who had dropped to his knees in shock and hurled the contents of meals past once it all caught up to him...
Summer Hotel, lobby
Marion Deluca was a fairly old woman. Eighty years of life in her and a mind still sharp enough to run a business to boot, when she was wide awake of course. Like everyone though she had particular tastes, like everyone those tastes involved her younger days where the future had countless possibilities and just as many expectations that were at one time expected to last forever. Of those tastes she held onto one vice that was as culteral as it was universal— music. Especially if it was music sung by Frank Sinatra.
How fitting it matched his current mood.
"I'm gonna to live till I die.
I'm gonna laugh 'stead of cry.
I'm gonna take the town, turn it upside down
I'm gonna live, live until I die."
Having long since reclaimed his hat, Naruto strolled— no, practically danced his way through the lobby, past the sleeping owner of the Summer Hotel who manned her desk next to an active radio. Not once did the broad grin on his face falter as he virtually mashed the button in his excitement. When a door opened up he spunned himself into it with a flourish and struck the third floor switch. From above the elevator's speaker, tuned to the same radio as the one at the desk, continue to blare a gem of old.
"They're gonna say "What a guy."
I'm gonna play for the sky.
Ain't gona miss a thing
I'm gonna have my fling.
I'm gonna live, live, until I die."
It didn't take long for the doors to open up to the third floor, revealing two of his neighbors in the process of leaving for their night shifts. Nothing for than a nod was given to them by Naruto who slipped past them , leaving them behind to enjoy the musical styling's of a now deceased singer of old. Yet he, Naruto, was still familiar enough with the song to have it play throughout his mind as he made the brief walk towards his own apartment.
"The blues I lay low
"I'll make 'em stay low.
They'll never trail over my head.
I'll be a devil
till I'm an angel.
But until then... HALLELUJAH!
"I thought you were going to stay at that party for a little longer," Blackfire mused aloud from atop the bed closest to the window.
"Some things came up," He replied as Sinatra's voice slowly faded away from his mind. Without stopping, taking his time to close and lock the door notwithstanding, he made for his armoire, opened it, and retrieved Gizmo's communicator. It was only in an afterthought after turning it on that he removed his disguise to reveal his true hair and the 'eye patch' usually hidden away by the wig.
"Huh? Who is— Oh... going to lend us a hand, Slug-face?" Gizmo grumbled from the other end once the connection was established.
"Oh no not yet. Just calling in for a favor, Gizmo," Naruto remarked with a jester's grin much to Gizmo's curiosity and irritation. "And what's in it for me?" Gizmo rumbled in a drawn out fashion.
"Oh you'll see. Think you can hack into a satellite or some kind of drone passing by Titan's Tower?"
His usually squinted eyes narrowed even further in suspicion, yet at the same time a grin crept across his face. "What did you do?"
"You'll see!" Naruto offered with restrained excitement. Blackfire meanwhile began to peer over his shoulder with a inquisitive brow raised, her body splayed out in the air as if she was atop a bed and he sitting at the very foot of said bed.
With only a mild grumbled on his part Gizmo began to type at a keyboard that sat unseen by the monitor's gaze, the screen itself suddenly flicking over to a live feed to Titan's Tower. "And what am I suppose to be looking at?" Gizmo intoned.
"Front door please!" Naruto practically giggled.
"Huh... If I didn't know any better than I would think you had a sense of humor underneath that tough guy exterior!" Blackfire cooed as the image focused and zoomed in on the requested portion of the tower...
"What... The... Hell...?"
Just as the T-Car emerged from the tunnel connecting the island to the mainland, its headlights just gracing the outer edges of the object that elicited the curious yet derogatory comment from Gizmo, the camera of the orbital satellite focused on an enlarged basket...
"I do believe this would need some explaining," Blackfire purred just in time for the T-Car to ground to a halt, its occupants, Cyborg and Beast Boy, practically scrambling out of it with gawking faces to race towards the gigantic basket and its contents. "Suffice it to say," Naruto began, doing what he can to keep himself from giggling all the while, "that one of the few people I care about made herself an enemy of my former abode as well... I faked her death lest she face imprisonment and between keeping a private life and a store I just happened to pass by..." He couldn't finish it, his cheeks puffed up to keep himself from laughing outright whilst a small light emerged from Cyborg's arm to illuminate what was inside the basket: Wrapped up in a mess of pink blankets was the sleeping head of a young woman adorned with an oversized baby bonnet. On her chest, or where her chest was assumed to be under the blankets, was a note pinned to it that was written in English: "In need of a good home." At the lower right corner of the note was a chibi Naruto, with his cloth eye patch, armed with a puckish grin and a hand held up in the victory sign.
"Oh you are evil," Blackfire giggled.
"Oh I am recording this!" Gizmo cackled in time for a frantic Beast Boy to grab the kunoichi's shoulders on the first try and shake her into a groggy state of consciousness. Despite marveling in an unfolding prank a scowl besmirches his excited form. "No audio?" he asks once he realized Beast Boy's lips were moving but nothing came out.
"Space dumbass! Space! It's not like we have some kind of spry drone decked out for surveillance at the Tower itself or something! And it wasn't for the lack of effort! It's like they're psychic or something; when I send one of my drones over there to spy them, high altitude even, they shoot it down!"
"Had you tried something less conspicuous like a robot turtle or something?"
"A robot rock?" Blackfire asked curiously in the touches of a incredulous tone, her eyes never leaving the screen in the meantime however.
Naruto turned to her, his lip curved in a frown. "Would you look for a properly camouflaged robot rock on an otherwise barren island?"
"Point. Oh look! She's waking up!"
The frown forgotten in favor of an animated grin, Naruto came to see the groggy eyes of Tenten gain more and more life as well as a clearer mind with each blink of the eye. A groggy arm managed to drive him away and the kunoichi stood up on her own power to unwittingly reveal her garments had been replaced with a pink body forming one piece not unlike pajamas.
"Oh you evil, evil blond," Blackfire simpered over the boisterous laughter of Gizmo.
It took one good moment for her to realize something was amiss when Beast Boy's cheeks puffed up in an otherwise failed bid to keep his cool. Even if Beast Boy wasn't enough of a clue, Cyborg fared no better. Hesitantly she looked down to scrutinize her current garments in growing shock of acknowledging the sudden, to her, change in her attire. It took another moment entirely for her to bend down once she spotted the slip of paper now partially buried within the folds of the blankets thanks to her rise...
Both of the Titans had to cover their ears when she whipped her head up towards the heavens, her mouth agape for a yell well beyond indignant fury...
"Hey Gizmo! Did you hear something?" Mammoth called out, his voice barely heard by the communicator's receiver. His inquiry wasn't heard over the cacophony of hoots, howls, and broken gasps vying for air.
Three seconds earlier, Titan Tower, front door
Even Cyborg had to step back, hands covering his ears, was the kunoichi vented her rage in the form of a howl and soon afterward in the form of a wildly stomping foot demolishing the giant basket. She was however not above ripping it apart with her bare hands when her kicks kicked the improvised cradle up towards her, within range of hands seeking to tear and strangle all at once. As for Beast Boy, not only had he smacked into Cyborg out of fear of being potentially mauled by Tenten but he had taken to hiding behind him as if his mere presence was enough to buy him the much needed seconds to escape should it come to that.
In the middle of her rampage, in essence a little over half of the entire basket was obliterated by time someone intervened on its behalf, an overjoyed reddish-orange blur had tackled her and bound her in a suffocating but jubilant hug. "Friend Bell! I am most joyous-...! No, I am most ecstatic-...!" Starfire chuckled in delight as she spun Tenten, who was turning blue from the lack of air, whilst she was still in her clutch. "There is not a word in either the language of Tamaran nor in any language Earth has to offer to express how good it is to see that it was a ruse!" Where a vibrant, beaming smile once adorned her a frown now marred her quickly deteriorating happiness. Only curiosity remained along with the skeptical frown aimed at the now limp and virtually lifeless kunoichi in her grip. "You're not a clone made to look like her, are you?"
Cyborg in the meantime slapped his face at a sudden epiphany. "Hold her still, Star!" he called out, his attention now focused on his arm's display module. His time on it was short, and his tinkering even shorter as the arm it was attached to once more morphed into its weapons setting, though like earlier it was altered into something else entirely than its normal offensive setting; sitting where the opening of a sonic cannon lay a ringed spherical glass, a full centimeter separated each circle as it traveled from the center, the absolute center of which left clear if one ignored the small circle encasing it, to the outermost edge. Once he was satisfied with whatever he had done he pointed it at the floating couple, after a moment's pause a neutral frown turned to a small grin. "I'm getting two heartbeats!"
With a shriek of joy Starfire hugged the poor victim of her earlier hug anew just as she was regaining consciousness.
"Uh Cy? Not to rain on your parade but I have to ask: Don't clones already have heartbeats? You know, because they're clones?" To this Cyborg turned a scowl towards the shorter of the two. "I'm just saying!" Beast Boy cried in his defense. "I mean outside of some kind of super lab, those ninja can make clones of themselves from plants and stuff! Who's to say they can't make one that can have like organs and stuff?"
Narrowing his one organic eye, Cyborg made to speak his mouth when his mouth came to a close in at a sudden thought. "Say, B, can you go to the T-Car and open the glove box for me?"
"Uh, sure... why?"
"Namely because I couldn't build a computer inside the trunk," Cyborg replied offhandedly as he made for the T-Car himself, passing Beast Boy in the process.
"Wait, you built a computer in the glove box?" Beast Boy called out as he trotted after Cyborg.
"Yeah. Thought about putting it right where the airbag was for the passenger's side but I thought it better not to mess with it, and instead of sacrificing leg room I decided to replace what used to be the glove box."
"Sweet! Wait... What did you do to the trunk then?"
A smirk played at Cyborg's lips as he rounded the corner of his car and popped the trunk's lid. "Mini-fridge and a freezer rolled into one, just need to toy with the settings to use it as either."
"Cool!" Beast Boy cooed as he opened the door and jostled open the glove box to let a small computer screen, a keyboard atop a tray as well as a mouse, and a medium sized rectangular box of a device that looked to be the computer's equivalent of a tower to read disks and other such things.
"Excuse me," Cyborg politely chirped as he stuck an arm through the door, just above the shifter's shoulder, his hand clamping down on a pair of tweezers that held within its own grasp what appeared to be a sliver of...
"Dude... You can't be serious..." the smaller teen attempted to intone without making it obvious that he was facing another bout of nausea.
"Yeah... I didn't want to bring it up so bluntly given what's happened." A black plastic lidless box of a tray slide out of the device to which the sliver of meat was deposited to. As if it was the trigger to command it so, it slide close and the 'tower' hummed with life, the screen it fed its info to lit up to a small screen bearing the word "Analyzing."
"Now let's see what 'Bell' was really made out of,: Cyborg murmured as the results came filing in...
"Dude..." Beast Boy flatly spoke up after a moment's silence. "As a vegan I'm kinda insulted but... Well, I at least hope it was already dead when it happened."
"I don't think even Naruto can go out into the country, kidnap a cow, and change it to look like a human to take someone's place in one night. I mean he might have the power and the knowhow but I don't think he can do all that in one night," Cyborg muttered.
"Maybe he planned it!"
"Maybe," the cybernetic teen half hummed...
"Well, I'm gonna call Robin," Cyborg said as he mashed a button on the computer, the tray with the slice of beef on it popping out to have its contents retrieved by the metallic teenager. "Ten bucks though say that Naruto broke into a butcher shop to pull this off."
"You are so on!" the green Titan laughed. He quickly frowned though as he looked towards Starfire and Bell. "Where did they go?" Cyborg too looked up only to find them gone. "Inside maybe?" he offered.
"Huh... To her room?"
"Good chance of it. Could also have used one of the spare rooms in the tower to act as a her bedroom for her for the night." When He, Beast Boy, didn't reply, Cyborg leveled a curious eye on him as he stared off into space that was the Titan's Tower. "B?"
"I kinda just realized this but... we don't use a lot of the room, do we?"
It was his teammate's turn to stare at the tower in pure wonder. "No," he carefully drawled, "no we don't now that I think about it."
Konoha Hideout, an hour and a half since the 'incident'
It took a grand amount of tact on their part, minus Guy of course, but they managed to successfully put their remaining team members to bed as if they were children once more. Sakura of course being the last to put turn it in for the night on the account that she had to administer the sedatives that kept Sasuke from awaking from his pseudo slumber. Neji of course opted to go to sleep as well, him of course being much wiser of their plans than the remaining kunoichi.
Neither of the still awake jonin could blame him.
"How are you holding up, Guy?" Kakashi wearily and warily inquired. The man, usually a source of seemingly endless "youthful" optimism, looked like he had his own soul scooped out with a melon baller that was then used to stab the unfeeling corpse it left behind. To his credit however he managed to find what strength there was left within him to give his long time rival a smile.
The silvery haired man nodded in understanding and walked away to a crate lying next to a scavenged, battered, but functional fridge from an age gone by. From the sixties if he were to guess correctly.
"Yes?" the man answered back without looking as he knelt down, removed the crate's lid, and rummaged through its contents.
"I know this isn't quite the same thing but... how did you handle it?"
No immediate answer was given as the one eyed man continued to look for something inside the crate. "I had my books," he spoke up. "I had friends to give me comfort those times when I needed it most. I even had missions to distract me for a time..." Finally he stood up and made his way back to Guy who sat at the makeshift table of crates, in his hands were a pair of sake saucers and a sake bottle. "Though admittedly I have a drink on occasion."
With a silent sigh he placed the saucers atop the table, uncorked the bottle, and poured them each a helping. He grabbed one the moment he put the bottle down and handed to Guy who accepted, yet even as he grasped it Kakashi didn't let go. "Drink in moderation," he sternly warned him before letting go. A true smirk, worn as it was, played itself upon Guy's visage. "Thank you," he quietly murmurs just before drinking his current fill.
Park, Nine-Forty-eight am
It was late for their usual meeting but what was there to do? Expansive as it was though the Tower was in a bit of a uproar between five teens, six if she included herself as she took some shelter in the kitchen, despite one of the five being forced into inadvertently submissive unconsciousness when an eager princess hugged her like clockwork when she did regain consciousness... It took Beast Boy in the form of a Gorilla and Cyborg to hold her back long enough for Robin to not only wake her but get more than two words out of her before Starfire caught her once more, her own captors being dragged across the floor in the process...
It was roughly two in the morning when things finally quieted down.
Emerging from the seclusion of the shrubbery, she came upon the curious sight of the disguised blond she had come to know half swaying, half dancing in front of the bench. As suddenly as she found him he came to a stop, a gentle, reminiscing smile at his lips as he stared off into the trees...
She stood there for minutes on end, a drink in each hand, watching him.
His smile turned a touch mournful, an action backed up by the emotion itself, fleeting though as it was, as he turned back to the bench, sat on it, and sighed as he leaned forward to rest his elbows atop his knees. Yet the smile never dissipated in the least.
For a moment she was curious as to what he was smiling about, yet her mind had a distinct conclusion of its own.
She whirled herself around and looked towards the source overhead in a tree just off to her side, a branch, thick and powerful, behind her snapped like a twig. Her lips quirked in a frown as she tried to figure out what had happened. An enemy perhaps? Stalker? In either case they had to be exceptionally strong or heavy to break a healthy branch like—... Violet eyes widened in shock as she realized just how the branch was ruined. It couldn't be... she would've felt her power act out in such a way even if she was outright drunk on solely one emotion. With pursed lips she turned to the wig wearing blond to find him still sitting there, none the wiser to her presence let along a mutilated tree; upon closer inspection she found the white covered wiring for a pair of headphones for an iPod or a likewise device coming down from the covering his false hair provided for his ears and disappearing into his jacket.
She frowned and on a hunch directed her attention to a small inconspicuous stone to the side of the path. Her frown deepened when her powers worked as they should, wrapping the rock in the hue of her powers, lifting it, and spinning it in place for added assurance.
"Maybe I'm just paranoid..." Some villains thrived off the mental suffering of heroes, and what better way to get under a hero's skin than to have said hero doubt his or her abilities? Yet no matter how far she spread out her senses she couldn't detect anything more threatening than a half awake owl trying to make sense of its current predicament, most likely only roused thanks to the destruction brought on upon to the nearby tree. A drone perhaps? While not undetectable, they certainly had a knack in keeping themselves hidden from such powers, albeit unintentionally till the mystic in question sharpened their senses to render their 'camouflage' useless.
Her frown however deepened further when again the most she could sense was a now asleep owl and a few bugs at best...
Giving the destroyed branch one last suspicious glare, she turned about and slowly approached the oblivious blond on the bench. She was but a few feet from him, at his blind fold's side no less, when he turned to her to and gave her a friendly smile upon realizing who it was. "Save for an old 'teacher' of mine, I'm usually the only one late to any kind of meeting."
"The only difference is that your tardiness is accidental and his are more intentional, right?" Raven dryly quipped as she sat down and handed him his cup.
"You're in a mood," he murmured. "But yes. Kind of gotten into the habit of entertaining myself while I waited for someone."
"Oh?" She quirked an almost unseen eyebrow out of curiosity.
He simply shrugged and leaned back against the bench, casually sipping the tea from her favorite café. "Cloud watching, a little bit of practice if I had the luxury, a little bit of people watching on occasion if I was really bored..." He frowned, his mood shifting to a more hollowed, worn state of being painted between a slight bitterness and a certain fondness found only in reviewing a life of innocence. "When time could be afforded I tried to ask Sakura to go out on a date with me only to either be rejected or at times ignored completely in favor of Sasuke doing this or that, either way being deemed cool or handsome of him..."
"Given how he turned out I'm surprised anyone was interested in him at all," Raven murmured. Naruto hummed but otherwise said nothing in that regard.
"For a short while, three 'meetings' in a row really, I brought a sudoku puzzles to mix things up."
"Really?" She turned to him in pure curiosity. "Given how described yourself I wouldn't have expected that."
He gave her a noncommittal shrug. "As I said it was short lived. Saw a bunch of other guys, adults admittedly, interested in them and gave it a whack..." A bit of a bashful grin affected him. "Couldn't figure it out for the life of me back then though. When I turned to Sakura for help, for every god knows that Sasuke had," he held up his free hand for to perform air quotes, "'better' things to do, she ended up confiscating my puzzles in the end to riddle them out." Upon her silence he turned his good eye to her to see her staring at him... "Yes, they still kick my ass in this day and age even after I read the instructions, moving on!"
She smirked and turned her own gaze away to focus on her drink.
"For what it's worth, though, thank you for helping me back there with Tenten..." She hummed as he nursed her drink for a moment. "You're welcome," he replied upon swallowing. "Just please don't make it a habit if you can help it from now on."
"I won't," he assured with a promise. "Though not to split hairs or anything but you came upon me while I was trying to make that clone, not like I was searching for you during that mess."
"Be that as it may I don't intend to be a regular consort for your more macabre plans."
"Gory, macabre plans!" he quips with a grin, his head canted slightly towards her despite the blindfold. All he received in return was a pointed slurping of tea.
"So what's the theory to all this if I may ask?"
Her slurping stopped, her eyes closed, and she sighed softly to hide a latent quirk of a smile. "The most popular opinion at the moment is that you robbed a butcher's shop or a meat packing plant to get the beef and bone used to make "Tenten." Other than that the theory is that you kidnapped a cow from one of the farms around Jump City."
An amused scoff erupted from Naruto. "Without my belt that's not a possible task unless I had super strength. That and that half baked experiment last night kind of debunks that theory."
"True but they don't know that..." Again an inquisitive frown adorns her lips once more. "Out of curiosity though, what is that once technique that you use? The one that looks like your teleporting even without your suit's belt."
"Shunshin," he immediately replied shortly before a quick draw from his cup. "In other words its the Body Flicker technique. Basically its where a measure of chakra is applied to the entire body to have it move at speeds that the human eye can't normally perceive, on par with the Flash in theory for someone who mastered the technique to the point their name is almost synonymous to the technique."
"I'm sensing a but here though." The renegade smirked and bowed his head. "Yes, there is one," he murmured. "Basically the shinobi in question using this technique has to take in account just about everything within his or her environment."
"Oh?" Her brow raised itself to match her evident curiosity.
"Yeah." He leaned his head back to the point that is dangled off the bench's back. "Care to guess what the greatest flaw to using that technique is?"
"No, not really," she flatly stated.
"Kill joy," he muttered.
"Physics," he stated. "Momentum, two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time and what have you."
"I think a more detailed explanation would help."
He groaned in return only to be annoyed by yet another bout of slurping. "Hypothetically speaking, say I were to leave this bench for the first tree in front of us using the body flicker technique in a straight line, what do you think would come of it?"
She gave the tree line in front of the bench a brief glance. "Nothing I suppose."
"Correct. Now say by some power a jogger came into the immediate area just as I used the shunshin without even realizing said jogger just entered my particular course. What do you think would happen?"
Her lips pursed slightly as it became clear. "How bad would the damage be?"
"Certainly the both of us would have ended up in the hospital I would think, though for what the exact reason would be is up for grabs. On the other hand though, taking the same situation as before, minus the jogger of course, if a wall suddenly sprouted up just as I took off then there are at least two possibilities depending on how tall said wall is: If the wall is low enough to 'trip' me, I could end up in the hospital with a virtually destroyed leg or two, broken or at least heavily fractured arms if I'm lucky enough to toss them up to protect myself, and a good portion of skin and muscle torn off my body when I skid to a stop. If I can't avoid the wall entirely..." He slurped his own drink for a change.
"I'll send flowers if that happens," Raven murmurs the moment before taking a sip.
"So nice that you care," he partially grumbles. A slight scoff escaped the darkest of the Titans.
"In any case, however," he spoke up once more, "so long as the one using the technique knows what happening around them then the worst that could happen is ending up rushing into a trap once everything is said and done."
"And having a plan to go from point A to point B hurts no one but their enemies, right?"
He smirks d scoffs slightly, "Never hurts you to have one, right?"
She hummed in a mild agreement as she tasted her drink, her back resting on the bench as it should be. Yet despite her contentment, her relaxed state of mind, and peaceful mood, a frown began to creep onto her hooded face as idle thoughts took a turn on their own accord. Her grasp tighten fractionally around her cup as she glanced at him, her gaze returning to her cup without being noticed a second later. She looked to him again, her mouth quirked to speak up only her attempts to revert back to where it started...
A thought was spent pondering why she was acting like this around him. She turned her gaze towards him and retreated it after half a second's pause with him as her focus, him none the wiser as he drew closer and closer to finishing his beverage. She didn't normally act like this with anyone. Not even with Malchior who had left her cheeks crimson for a good time before she knew the truth about him! Excluding his flirtatious attitude, she had faced him and equally terrifying, or at least daunting in nature, enemies who moved with a purpose rather than a chaotic whim! So why was talking to a rogue shinobi who was her enemy only in professional standards leaving her speechless over a inconsequential question regarding his alleged marriage?
"Is something wrong?" Under precise control of herself she turned to him as if he hadn't startled her with not only a concerned question but a gaze and a curved lip to match it. "I'm fine," she calmly answered him.
His own frown didn't let up. "Just you seem kind of... grumpy, for the lack of a better word, today."
She softly sighed and looked forward. "Once they figured out that her death was faked, not to mention you leaving her at our front door, it was pandemonium for a good deal of the night. Thankfully I managed to skid by thanks to all the attention being spent on her." she murmured. "It didn't make things any less noisy though when the guys decided to outfit the room two doors down from my room as her bedroom."
"Ah..." He pensively pursed his lips for a moment as he leaned back against the bench. "Didn't mean to cause that much of a ruckus. sorry about that."
She glanced at him and sighed once more, her grasp, temporarily slackened, griped her cup anew as she garnered her fortitude and worked her keen mind to satisfy her need to know. She would have to be tactful about this, play it off as a mind noticing a difference from what was considered normal— that could work! It was innocent enough to be passed off as a inquiring mind passing the time. "So is it customary in your world to not wear a wedding ring?"
"Hm?" As expected his head turned to her out of curiosity.
"You said you were married, I just haven't noticed you wearing a ring when we were together..." she explicated. A part of her cringed however on the inside in direct contrast to her front.
"Oh." He sighed and once more relaxed against the bench, an affectionate smile at his lips not long after. His mood even took to brighter tone much to her disliking...
She couldn't help but blink a tad owlishly in real life at that stray bit of discomfort. Dislike? That... Why should she be... averse to him having fond memories of a woman who wasn't even here as far as she could tell?
A soft chuckle shook her from her thoughts and drew her attention to the blond. "Well the chief reason at the time was that there wasn't any rings available at the time; what rings that were there were either much too big or too small to use, not to mention of course that their wearers weren't fond of parting with them for various reasons. But we did have ink... and she..." His cheeks brightened slightly. For the slightest moment Raven's lip twitched just as he chuckled once more. "She thought this old tradition her country used to practice perfectly symbolized what a marriage should be: Complete and utter devotion to one another; their hearts forever belonging to each other and no one else." Perhaps it was a subconscious act on his part but a hand rose up to gingerly trace along the circle of his tattoo, like his hand though, his smile grew ever more affectionate. "I'll admit it isn't as satisfying as placing a band upon her finger, but even I appreciate its romance and its sentiment."
Boom! "MY CART!"
Both whipped their heads towards the tree line behind their bench, the direction of not only the distance dulled explosion but the shout as well.
"Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time before something happened on our get togethers," he grumbled as he stood up, adjusted his hat and jumped into the forest behind the bench with Raven not too far behind him.
"Sir! Sir! Please calm down!"
"But how does an ice cream cart just blow up like that without so much as a missile blowing it up?!"
"Sir, would you please calm down! A team is underway from the precinct as we speak."
"HOW DOES A GUY CALM DOWN WHEN A CART RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM UP JUST EXPLODES WITHOUT REASON?!"
"So what do you think happened, Raven?" Naruto partially groaned from atop a tree branch as he tried to ignore the hysterical vendor who was hell bent on resisting the officer's attempts to calm him down.
"... I can't say," she murmured. Her hands had long since been tucked underneath her closed cloak, one such hand now grasped at her waist in discomfort on the side opposite of her hand's origin.
He gave an audible smirk as he perused the remnants of what used to be an ice cream cart; it was a typical cart in design and function, basically a rectangular box on wheels in its former glory, that now had its rent walls splayed outward as if its contents had planned a united mass jail break through its woof. The force was such that not only had it bent the carts walls outward to the point of tearing away from each other but had mutilated the top of its bicycle-like wheels as well. "Explosive ice cream perhaps? Certainly one way to take out an unsuspecting target."
The dark Titan allowed herself a small smile. "Perhaps," she lowly mused. "It would certainly nab a hapless Beast Boy."
"Oh that's just mean," he retorted with a small scowl.
"True, but nevertheless true."
"Jeez... it's like hearing someone plot my demise by poisoning my ramen!" he whined. "Don't mess with the good food!"
"You do realize that ramen and ice cream are essentially junk food, correct?"
"You're against ramen, aren't you?"
"I haven't had so much as a bowl."
"Then don't knock it till you try it!"
"No thank you."
MecaTon Disco, three hours later
As with the coming and going of times, so to do fads come and go along with the more local economy. Being on the outskirts of town it made the former business, an expansive building of a warehouse's girth and nearly twice its length, hard to maintain when the age of disco waned and the area itself dried up when one business after another either closed for good or moved out. The owners once did everything they could to keep their doors open, even if it meant inviting the criminal element to have the cash flowing once more, but once the police got wise to its dealings they were finally forced to close the doors for good and leave it to whatever fate had in store for it. Now it alongside its once thriving community resembled a ghost town within a city, ripe for the picking to whomever needed a place to squat for the night to avoid nature's more fickle moods and whoever laid claim to the area by right of a gun.
Needless to say this had lead to some amount of conflict between small time gangs looking for a place to call their headquarters and turf, or better yet supervillains, such as the HIVE Academy, looking for a new theater to take advantage of. With the disappearance of the HIVE Academy however these plots of concrete were fair game to those who didn't have the backing of a small army of meta-humans to keep unwanted visitors out, namely those who had made a name of themselves rather than those whose infamy was bestowed primarily to the group they belonged to. Such was the case of a recently escaped Johnny Rancid and what remained of his crew, the ones who hadn't been arrested in the warehouse bust some weeks ago; a grand total of eight was their number to assault the once successful disco.
With a curt but loud roar of the engine of the bike he rode upon, the vehicle busted through the plywood barrier, wheel first, that served as an impromptu wall where once a set of glass doors stood with a revolver primed, ready, and blasting at anything that presented itself as a target. Needless to say the cameras acting as a pair of turrets' means to locate and target enemies were torn apart, rendering the constructs useless just as they began to fire upon the biker and his followers.
The HIVE robot however was not so fragile nor as easy to disable despite the scars left to it from previous engagements, but it wasn't anything new; this wasn't the first time he personally led a raid here, the most he had to worry about is the latest positioning of whatever they slapped together for an automated turret and if they managed to fix up one of their drones.
Swiveling his head and promptly aimed his weapon of choice a half second later he destroyed another pair of turrets mounted to the underside of the rafters as he swerved past the robot as it swung at him.
"Ha!" A feral, sadistic grin split his lips as he rounded the construct which swung at him again. "They didn't load up your weapon did they?" Without looking he stowed the revolver into a leg mounted holster, reached into a saddle bag, and pulled out a grenade launcher which he uses with wicked glee.
His cronies of course were having their own fun. The room itself was comparable to a standard warehouse in pure size alone, give or take a few things of course such as a bar and some raised floors towards the back, and a stage situated atop an arch spanning across the middle of the room that could only be accessed at its ends if he was to count all the obstacles, sans numerous chairs, tables, and what else could be scrounged up to improvise a blockade of sorts. They weren't remotely enough for experienced bikers to evade, blow up, or frankly run over with reckless abandon, all the while gunning down every automated piece of equipment that brought their weapons to bear on them.
Thus far they, the machine defenses, were only lucky enough to nail one of his guys and leave him on the floor, clutching at his wound whilst his bike crashed into a pile of chairs and trashcans.
Rancid merely shook his head with a savage smirk, grabbed the attention of a passing biker and jerked his thumb at the fallen member of their group before pushing forward himself, up the stairs of a smaller platform of the disco floor and subsequently descends it on the other side in his trek towards the center of the room, just past the arch, his eye on keen alert for the slightest hint of an ambush awaiting him and his underlings.
"Must've just missed them..." he grumbled as they came to a stop just short of the back office doors. "Otherwise they would've came running by now." His grin, momentarily lost in due to his musing, came back tenfold in a victorious slant. "Looks like this place is ours at long last!"
"As if!" The doors which they smashed through came to an abrupt close thanks to a sliding steel wall. The office door came under such protection and even the kitchen behind the bar was cordoned off by an imposing solid steel wall. Weapons in the meantime were bared and their eyes drawn towards the rafters of the ceiling, some even focusing on the platform on the arch, in hopes of finding the irritating gnat that came to know as Gizmo. "You think it was going to be that easy, shit-for-brains?"
Grabbing his revolver after ensuring the grenade launcher was loaded and in his other hand, Johnny snarled as he looked about the room once it became clear no one was in the rafter. "Where the hell are you hiding you damn dwarf!"
"Hehehe... Wouldn't you like to know?" As if it was a queue of some kind the vents began to pour forth a heavy mist. "What the hell?!"
"Aw don't go give yourself an aneurism. We don't have the resources available to gas you guys! Water however happens to be a free commodity though if you happen to know where to tap into without arousing suspicion."
"What the hell do you think you guys are gonna do? Come out of the fog with guns blazing?" He cocked the hammer back. "Come on! That's got to be the oldest trick in the book!"
From wherever he was hiding, Gizmo's chuckling only served to agitate him further. "True. So true..."
SLICE! BAM! SMACK!
"SON OF A BITCH! SOMETHING SLICED ME!"
"What the hell!?" He turned to the yelling and squinted in hopes of finding his underlings through the mist which had grown dense enough to blot out everything but their vague shadows failing wildly in the midst. "Headcount! I want a head count!"
"I ALREADY SAID SOMETHING SLICED ME!" There was Crank, wounded but alive.
"Quit bitchin' you big baby! Where did you even get cut at?" Piston, that makes two.
"SOMETHING CUT MY BACK!"
"Are ya bleedin' the death?"
"UNLESS YOU DYING THEN SHUT THE HELL UP!" Dan, short tempered as always. That's three confirmed excluding himself.
"I can't find Rody! Where's Rody?" Lee, making it four and possibly one missing.
"I'm getting off— (THUMP!) AAAAH!" Sounded like Galley got jumped if the body thump was an indicator. "I—Fuck! Rody's on top of me! GET THIS FATASS OFF OF ME!" Well they found Rody, and Galley was stuck underneath his bloated ass... she wasn't getting up any time soon.
"Oi! OI! Where's Louie? LOUIE!" Vexton, six including a pinned Galley... Now that left Louie.
"What the hell did you do to Louie?!" Johnny demanded as he tore his attention towards the rafters once more despite knowing better. Movement at the corner of his eye however drew his attention towards the ground. Another flicker had him darting his head to the left, grenade launcher primed.
"WHAT ABOUT ME?!"
"SHUT UP DAMN IT!"
Again Gizmo's chortling came from parts unknown. When he spoke up once more the mists parted just enough for a grinning skull to leer at him. "You're going to have to ask him about that."
"Yeah..." he sneered as he ducked to avoid the shrapnel, his arm brought up to defend his face from the few shards that pelted and lacerated his skin. "He's indisposed right now. Looks like you're going to have to answer my question after all."
"You never faced a ninja before have you?"
"What?" he asked incredulously. Out of reflex he cocked the grenade launcher to reload it and immediately he scowled as he sensed a disturbance to that particular plan: The weight in his hand didn't shift. With an expert's grace he whipped the grenade launcher forward without looking only to have the same result, a realization of sorts dawning upon his mind as he came to realize that not only was the weapon not acting as it should but was lighter in his hand as well. His hand reeled back and brought the weapon in question up for inspection to find a it had been cleaved in half by a steep diagonal cut. "The fuck—" Before he even realized it, before he even had time to act out it, a hand lashed out from behind him, ensnared his wrist and wrist it painfully behind him whilst another grabbed the back of his head and slammed it into the glass encased dials just beneath the handlebars. Disorientated, he didn't realize he had dropped his gun once his focus was lost. All he could focus on by any margin was a hand on his throat which his arms flail to remove lest it chokes him to death, that same arm of course had the power to lift him off the seat of his back without so much as a gagged shout to let his crew know he needed help.
All he could do was watch, hoping to get a good look at his attacker, and survive as the hand's owner held him off to the side of his own bike, rev it, and drive off into the mist, leaving a confused and agitated gang of bikers behind.
"Whose driving off?!"
"Johnny? Where do you think you're going!?"
"Johnny! JOHNNY! What if he got snatched up snatched up too?!"
"GO GO GO!"
"GET FAT ASS OFF OF ME FIRST YOU DOUCHEBAGS!"
No one stopped to helped Galley as the remaining fleet of choppers kicked into gear and followed the roar of the abducted bike.
None of them got any further than three quarters of the platform, those who went around it included in regards to distance traveled, as bolt after bolt of differing hues of violet energy rained down on them from above. The darker ones bringing forth destruction and mayhem whilst the brighter ones, in truth a bright yet dark pink, only brought mayhem in the form of pulverizing what it may and breaking apart the floor at misshapen angles on their own accord or with the provocation of a hapless tire crossing it.
And then the rockets came amidst the drown out screams and explosions.
As for their leader... The stolen motorcycle kicked up, its roaring engine doing a fine job to muffle the chaos it left behind, as it descended a mist hidden staircase to one of the raised floors and jolted slightly upon kissing the ground without slowing down in its trek. "Batter up!" Before he, Rancid, knew it he was tossed up into the air like a ragdoll—... No, like a baseball with horrid luck when a pole belonging to a street sign came screaming out of the fog and knocked him away, his body souring in a broad arc into the far wall just above the office door, though a good distance to the left.
"HOME RUN!" Mammoth bellowed, holding his 'bat' aloft in victory.
"I think you killed him... wait," Naruto leaned forward once he coaxed the bike to face towards Rancid. "Yeah, he's still alive. Might be a body cast for a long while though if we're lucky." by the dictation of gravity he, Johnny, keeled over from his spot on the wall, a shallow crater conforming to his build, and harshly plopped himself onto the ground in a audible, but barely heard over the dying ruckus of the ambushed bikers, thud.
"Did that get him?"
"No, if anything it's going to be a wicked headache when he comes to."
"I'll give these lunkheads one thing, they know how to build a sturdy bike! Missiles, energy bolts, hell hexes and at worst I'm seeing dents here! Might be a few parts knocked loose but still..." Gizmo muttered through their linked radios.
"I'll admit it's a little fascinating to see engineering like this on Earth," Blackfire placidly admitted. "Considering though of how you explained Johnny though, I would either bank my surprise on either him stealing from a scientist with a hobby or perhaps constructed them without realizing how potent his creations were in terms of endurance." She hummed in contemplation. "I can't help but suspect though that at least someone got their hands on scrap from destroyed space craft."
"DIBS!" Gizmo yelled through the radio shortly before cutting off his own feed. His cackle though could be heard from afar however as well as the disgruntled groans of the defeated as their bodies were tossed away as if they would somehow taint a potentially valuable find.
"HEY! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU PUNKS THINK YOUR DOING?!"
"Seems we forgot the one trapped underneath the fat guy... So who wants to knock her out?" Naruto rumbled as he settled crossed arms against the handlebars.
"... Rock, paper, scissors?" Jinx spoke up.
With a raised brow unseen by his helmet he turned to Mammoth, whose eyes were covered with thermal goggles, who in turn looked to him and shrugged at him as he hoisted the pole to rest atop his shoulder.
Then someone hobbled through the door using a broken but usable stick as a crutch at the very edge of the byakugan's vision. Before Naruto could whip his head to better look at him with his normal eye the figure collapsed with a barely audible groan. The shinobi turned to Mammoth and jerked a thumb towards the doorway. The giant teen looked to the doorway and nodded upon returning his gaze to the blond, the pole weapon now grasped and batted against his hand like a police baton.
"Eyes on the door," he quietly murmured through the headset of his helmet.
"Was someone late to the party?" Blackfire simpered.
"This guy looks beat up already," Mammoth rumbled as he began his slow approach to the doorway that the fog lightly licked. "He's gonna be easy pickings." The rogue of Konoha in the mean time had already began to make his own trek towards the fallen figure in a slight crouch, a hand on the handle of the ninjato in a light grasp; with each step closer however he stood a little straight, his grasp, light as it was, weakening as it became more and more apparent of who was laying a few feet away from the entrance.
"Guys," he spoke up, "it's Billy... I think"
"Wait, Billy as in Billy Numerous? Wait, what do you mean "you think?"
"I still don't know who this Billy is," Blackfire interjected.
"Old classmate of ours," Jinx began as Naruto neared and knelt down to the oddly wavering form of Billy Numerous, Mammoth not too far behind. His suit, a red unitard with black bands, one for each limb at the wrists and thighs, and a white circle on his chest garnished with a black division symbol plus thick black border, which was covered by the floor thanks to his collapsed form, was torn up thanks to a multitude of knife wounds and animal bites covered in dried blood. His head, normally covered by the cowl of the unitard and further adorned with black pads, was just as worse for wear to reveal light brown hair and an ear when one of the pads had been ripped off at some part. Even the belt that hung around his waist was in tatters but in working conditions, as for his goggles, black glass styled like shades that encompassed the eyes, by some miracle they held together despite the heavy set spider web cracking that threatened to obliterate them. That and the strange quirking of his body like a hologram just about to go on the fritz. "The guy can duplicate himself to the hundreds with the exact same personality and traits as the original, and even they can continue to make copies of the same numbskull. When he recalls them they have a habit of being sucked into the original host, fly into him even if their at a distance... Wait, is this one flickering?"
"Like a TV with a bad satellite connection," Naruto replied in time for Billy to groan an listlessly swivel his head about. His attention held onto the boots of the shinobi and rose up enough to witness the skull portion of the helmet before flopping down, rolls his head about with only so much vigor left to his person, and comes to peer up at Mammoth upon finding his feet. "Billy needs help," he groans. "Billy's... in Gotham..." Spent, Billy plops his head on the ground and wavers out of existence.
"Must be out of range... when the original Billy and the clone basically can't get to the other, the clone dissipates into... something. Gizmo managed to catch a Billy clone once to see what happens and... well as I understand it the clone turns into atoms or something to get back to the real Billy when push comes to shove."
"Well we now know one thing," Naruto spoke up, "Billy's in Gotham."
"What has that idiot gotten himself into this time," Jinx groaned over the radio.
"Being a visitor to Earth, I'm not that familiar with "Gotham," Blackfire amusingly chimes much to Jinx's obvious, and audible, aggravation.
"See you in a few days then," Naruto speaks up once more as he heads for the stolen motorcycle.
"Wait, wha—... You're not thinking of going to Gotham are you? For Billy of all people?!"
"I'm already dressed for the occasion!" He hopped onto the bike, he turned the handle and grins underneath the helmet as the engine revved up in a roar. "And thanks to Johnny I have a convenient means to get there!"
"Hold it! WAIT!" Too late. Tires squealed as they spun in place for but a moment before the now cackling blond swerved the bike to face the entrance. Like a bat out of hell he was gone and tearing down a deserted street.
"I'm seeing the appeal to motorcycles!" he cried out over the radio.
"God damn it! It's just Billy! Gotham's nothing like Jump, so why risk your neck for him?!" Jinx demanded as she burst into the less dense portion of the evaporating fog, her own thermal goggles pulled to her forehead.
"Simple!" he called out over the radio just as it started to crackle thanks to the growing distance between them. "I'm not in the habit of leaving people I give half a damn about to die!"
With that their connection was cut, whether it was because of the distance between them or if it was deliberate, she couldn't tell.
"Damn it!" she hissed. "He has no idea what he's getting into!"
With a disgruntled sigh she slowly turned back to the still cloudy building, her gaze stopping to stare at Mammoth who stared back at her along the way. "What are you looking at?!" she growled. Abruptly he looked away and marched into the fog, his goggles pulled over his eyes, a nonchalant hum on his lips trying to temper the sudden tension that threatened to unleash itself on his person.
"You're up to something devious again, aren't you Madam?"
A cool gaze turned to the butler with a piqued brow. "And what, pray tell, has you thinking that, Wintergreen?"
"Quite frankly, Madam, your father has the same look in his eye when he too was plotting something that could be considered cruel in some capacity."
"Does he now?" she murmured as her gaze returned to her wall of monitors. "Well, since the cat is out of the bag..." With the toggling of a switch the stolen recording of "I'm not in the habit" from the disappointedly unprotected frequency the former HIVE students were using. By the same stroke of the hand a live image of Hinata Hyuga came to life on one screen in the company of Sakura Haruno at the outskirts of a park, the latter of which seemingly lost in thought.
"I must say madam, this is a rather vulgar plan. Let us not even talk about the repercussions that could and would befall on the city if it goes the way I suspect it would!"
She only chuckled without remorse. "It's true. Yet taking that statement at face value and he goes to Gotham to save "Billy Numerous," an image and profile, courtesy of an old roster the HIVE had on file that was presented to her father before her that gave his history both criminal and non as well as his abilities, of Billy Numerous came to life on yet another screen, "then the same could apply to Raven of the Teen Titans as well." A live image of Raven meditating on the rooftop of Titan's Tower came to life next to Billy's profile. "So in essence I am justified in taking him out at a potential enemy once things are in motion."
"Be that as it may—"
"I know," she curtly, calmly intervened. "Even if at worst they both come back alive he would still have to deal with the team from Konoha. This way though I'm hoping her desire would create an opening large enough for one of Gotham's collection of villains to exploit, even if he's not a target per se." She sighed as leaned back into the chair. "A tad farfetched but one can dream, can't they?"
"Even so, I sincerely doubt they'll let her, let alone anyone of their number, run off on their own so long as they can help it."
"True, so true," she conceded with a frown. She definitely had to create an opening somehow, and without revealing herself to boot lest the Titans begin to search for her in their spare time. Closing her visible eye, she quietly groaned in frustration as she toyed with her other drones that were sent out to spy on targets of interest: Beast Boy and Cyborg, as seen through a window, were in another video game death match of some kind while a sulking Tenten hung out at the kitchen's island. Thanks to the glare affording by the sunlight reflected off the windows she could only make out Starfire's boot who presumably sat at the opposite side of the island from Tenten. Robin though was patrolling the city streets on his own motorcycle, the red darter dashing through traffic and in between cars when it called for it. On a hope she brought up a map and their projected courses—...
Her lips curved in an evil smile. Two lines ran through the entire city, one red, belonging to Naruto, and the other Yellow, belonging to Robin in their respective projective courses should neither one of them turn. At Twenty-Eighth Street and Junction Boulevard at a projected time of twenty-two minutes they were to cross paths if neither were delayed in the slightest. How her grin grew fractionally when Hinata's ping shown up brilliantly along the red path some distance away from the potential interception...
It was a hope, a roll of the dice, but it was something at the very least. It was something she could work with but a phone call and a set of concise instructions.