Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. A guy called Kishimoto does. I don't own Bleach either Some lucky chap called Tite owns that.
The Eighth Swordsman
Naruto arrived at the bridge and couldn't help his jaw dropping at the sight before him.
The unconscious bodies of Tazuna's workers lay strewn across the mist covered bridge. Zabuza's handiwork no doubt. This isn't what surprised him, he pretty much expected something like that.
No what surprised him was the sight of Tazuna (who was twitching nervously), Zabuza, Kakashi, Rangiku, and two missing-nin from kumo judging by their headbands playing poker, Yoruichi and Haku chatting away happily, Sakura tied up and gagged, Sai doodling in his notebook again and Sasuke brooding. Who would have guessed?
'Eh, well at least there are some things you can always count on' Naruto thought to himself.
"Eh Kakashi, what the fuck is going on here?" Naruto asked incredulously once his brain rebooted.
"Well, Zabuza wanted to speak with you before the battle started so we decided to play some poker while we waited" Kakashi replied without glancing back at him, too focused on the game.
"Fair enough. Next question. Why is Sakura tied up and gagged?" he asked and instantaneously all heads swiveled in his direction and looked at him, even the heads of the missing-nin, with a 'Did you seriously just ask that fucking question?' look on their faces. Naruto got the message quickly enough. He may have black hair now but he still had his blond moments.
Having got his non-verbal answer he went on to his follow up question. "Who did it" he asked them and Yoruichi put her hand up with a shit eating grin on her face, similar to the one he wore after kicking Sasuke's ass.
"That's my girl" Naruto proudly proclaimed and hugged her making her blush.
While Naruto was being updated on the current situation the missing-nin playing poker had gotten up and drawn their weapons and Haku moved to stand by Zabuza's side.
"Any other questions gaki?" Zabuza asked him in his usual gruff tone.
"Just one. What's your answer" Naruto asked him.
"Can you promise me that Haku will protected if I accept your offer and join the Leaf?" Zabuza asked him, his voice deadly serious and heavily laden with concern, surprising Haku who felt her eyes tear up.
"Yeah, the Hokage will keep her safe from the Council and if any of them try to go behind his back to take her I'll kill them myself" Naruto answered him.
Zabuza was silent for a while as he stared into Naruto's crimson orbs, searching for any signs of deceit and finding none, nodded once to himself as a small, unnoticeable smile crept onto his face.
"Well then, my answer is yes, but on one condition" Zabuza told him as his mouth shifted beneath the bandages from a small smile to a vicious grin.
"And what is that" Naruto asked as he drew Zangetsu in his right hand.
"You have to beat me in a duel. No ninjutsu or genjustu, just good old kenjutsu, I want to see if your worthy of that blade you're wielding" Zabuza told him.
Naruto tensed at his last remark. "How do you know about Zangetsu" he asked the Demon of the Hidden Mist as his grip on Zangetsu tightened.
"I'm one of the members of the true Shinobi Swordsmen gaki, it's my business to know about that blade you're wielding" he answered in a gruff voice.
"What do mean the 'true Shinobi Swordsmen'?" Naruto asked him curiously.
"Wait, do you mean Rangiku hasn't told you yet?" Zabuza asked him incredulously.
"Told me what?" Naruto asked him.
"What the hell woman, that's the first thing we were told to do if we ever found Zangetsu's wielder?" Zabuza yelled at her.
"I was getting around to it ok, I was just busy" Rangiku replied sheepishly, suddenly finding her feet very interesting.
"Sensei, you challenged Tazuna, Kakashi and Tsunami to a drinking contest yesterday and passed out after you won" Yoruichi informed her.
"Not helping Yoru-chan" Rangiku told her while glaring daggers at in her direction.
"Not trying to" she replied with a grin.
"So, what has Rangiku failed to tell me?" Naruto asked him while shooting Rangiku a glare that she ignored while whistling innocently.
" Beat me and I'll tell you. I won't answer to someone weaker than me gaki".
"Well then, there's just one thing left to say" Nauto said, looking at the ground with his hair shadowing his eyes.
"Oh, and what's that" Zabuza asked him.
"Let's dance" Naruto as he looked up with an insane grin on his face, matched by Zabuza's own and charged, the harsh clang of steel on steel marking the first clash of their blades.
With the others
Kakashi and Rangiku cursed as they looked as the missing-nin before them. Kensei and Kaede Asato or as they were better known, the Sons of the Storm. Both of the B-rank missing-nin hailed from Kumo and as such both twins had the dark skin tone that Kumo was known for which created a stark contrast with their white hair. The only way to tell the two apart were the weapons they wielded with Kensei wielding a wakizashi and Kaede wielding a naginata. Both were B-rank missing-nin from Kumo and were well known for their teamwork and strong lightning affinities.
"Kakashi, you take Kensei. I'll handle Kaede" Rangiku said as she drew Haineko. Kakashi nodded gratefully and drew a kunai. The battle would be much easier if they separated and didn't give Kaede and Kensei the chance to work together. Also Rangiku would be much better equipped to fight Kaede and his naginata with Haineko than Kakashi who would have a hard time getting past Kaede's naginata and close enough to do damage with his kunai.
"Sai, guard Tazuna. Yoruichi, Sasuke you'll have to handle Zabuza's apprentice" Kakashi ordered them, conveniently ignoring the fuming Sakura still tied up against some crates on the bridge. Oh the perks of being a Jonin-sensei.
Sai nodded and calmly ushered Tazuna away from the soon to be battlefield and Sasuke immediately charged with Yoruichi grimacing and following him close behind him.
Kakashi and Rangiku soon followed the brash Uchiha's example and charged to meet their opponents. Sai meanwhile created a kage bushin once they were gone and swiftly painted several animals and summoned them from his scroll. Two lions to help him guard Tazuna and one enormous eagle that his clone hopped onto it before it took off into the skies. He'd have the clone observe Naruto's duel with Zabuza and dispel it later in private so he could report Naruto's skills to Danzo-sama.
With Sasuke and Yoruichi
Sasuke charged at Haku, his single tomoe'd spinning wildly and hands flying through handsigns.
"Katon: Goukakyuu" he yelled and launched a large fireball at Haku.
"Suition: Teppoudama (Water Style: Water bullet)" she yelled and launched an equally large bullet of water to intercept Sasuke's fireball. The two elemental projectiles clashed with a hiss as the water bullet turned to steam from the heat of the fireball.
Haku ducked suddenly and not a moment to soon as she saw Yoruichi's leg pass through the space her head previously occupied. She grabbed onto her leg and slammed her into the ground, eliciting a yelp from the girl before she swung around and threw her at Sasuke. Yoruichi however managed to right herself in mid air and vanished in a shunpo.
Haku didn't have the time to wonder where she went as she caught the first kunai from Sasuke's volley and used it to block the rest before she felt a chakra signature appear above her and leapt back not a moment too soon as Yoruichi came crashing with an chakra enhanced axe kick, dust kicking up from the point of impact
Haku's eyes widened as she saw the crater formed from Yoruichi's kick once the dust cleared, she couldn't afford to be hit with a kick like that, at the very least it would fracture bones. She lashed out with a kick that Yoruichi flipped away from before turning around and blocking Sasuke's kunai with a senbon as Sasuke pressed against her with all his might. Thanks to her training from Zabuza she didn't falter but she still couldn't afford to stay in a deadlock as she knew Yoruichi wouldn't let up on her so she flew through one handed handsigns. The steam from her water bullet began to cool and condense into a thousand needles surrounding her and Sasuke.
"Sensatsu Suisho (Thousand Flying Water Needles of Death)" she yelled and jumped back as the deadly needles rained down on him. Sasuke cursed and quickly kawarimi'd with one the kunai he threw earlier though he was still hit with several senbons.
"Raiton: Byakurai (Lightning Style: Pale Lightning)" Yoruichi from behind called out Haku who leaped to the side to avoid the beam of whitish-blue lightning, and let out a yelp as it grazed her left arm, cloth and flesh burning as it passed. Haku gazed at her injury before her eyes hardened as she nodded to herself. She didn't want to do this but it appeared she had no choice.
"Yoruichi-chan, Sasuke-san please surrender, I don't want to have to this but I will not fail Zabuza-sama" Haku pleaded with them as she flew through the handsigns needed.
"Hn, what could a lowly bitch like you do to an Uchiha elite such as myself" Sasuke replied arrogantly, missing the spike of killing intent from the Haku.
"Not a chance Haku-chan" Yoruichi said, glaring at Sasuke for his previous comment.
"Hyoton: Makyo Hyosho: (Ice Style: Demonic Crystal Ice Mirrors)" she called out as the water on the bridge rose off of the ground to form a dome of ice mirrors surrounding both Sasuke and Yoruichi.
"For what it's worth Yoruichi, I'm sorry" she said as she entered one of the ice mirrors. "But I can't fail Zabuza-sama" her voice echoed out as she appeared in each of the twenty-one ice mirrors several senbon clutched in each hand.
They could only curse and scramble to dodge as the hail of senbon descended upon them. Sasuke and Yoruichi ducked, weaved and dodged wave after wave of senbon, both avoiding the majority thanks to the perceptive abilities of the sharingan and the enhanced reflexes gained by constantly fighting at high speeds. They soon discovered that the mirrors were impervious to katon jutsu, much to their displeasure after one of Sasuke's fireballs hit a mirror with little effect.
Unfortunately for Sasuke, he was the first to fall in the fight, unable to counter Haku's onslaught. Each senbon that hit him impeded his movement and made him more sluggish, making it easier for Haku to hit him with more senbon and impede his movement even further until he collapsed to the ground, baring a striking resemblance to a porcupine.
Yoruchi grimaced as Sasuke fell, knowing that Haku's attention was solely focused on her now. Although Haku appeared to be slowing as the fight went on, making it easier for Yoruichi to dodge and deflect her senbon. Despite Haku's gradual decrease in speed that lead Yoruichi to believe that the jutsu was extremely chakra intensive she still had her work cut out for her as Haku continued to throw senbon at her.
Knowing this Yoruichi kept her eyes peeled, waiting for a chance to hit Haku and disrupt her senbon barrage, Her chance soon arrived, the wait for it punctuated by several more senbon hitting their mark as her fatigue from the fight caught up with her and dulled her reflexes. They mainly hit her left arm, leaving it to hang limply by her side.
She charged as she saw Haku dart from one mirror to another, channeling the last of her considerable reserves into her right arm, a white aura surrounding it as the density of the chakra caused it to become visible, cocked her fist back as she reached Haku and punched.
Yoruichi felt Haku's ribs break under the force of her punch before she discharged the chakra that surrounded her arm from her fist and into Haku's stomach, sending Haku straight through the previously unbreakable mirrors and onto to the bridge where she fell unconscious. With Haku unconscious the ice mirrors all shattered and the shards of ice rained down around Yoruichi who was staring at her right arm in awe, noting the fact that her sleeve seemed to have disintegrated during her attack before wincing at the lancing pain that surged through it. She grimaced and made a shadow clone before picking Sasuke up by the ankle with her left hand and dragging him along the bridge as she went to check on the others with her clone carrying Haku.
Rangiku grunted as she felt the tip of Kaede's naginata slice across her stomach, opening up a red line, before she lunged forward hoping to run him through only for him to swiftly bat away her attack before spinning his naginata around with the tip towards the ground and stabbed downwards in an effort to pierce her back and pin her to the ground. She rolled forward to avoid the stab and once she was behind him she swung her leg back to kick the back of his legs out from underneath him. Kaede cursed and fell backwards onto Rangiku's blade, as he coughing up water as he was pierced but the blade.
"Raiton: Gian (Lightning Style: False Darkness)" a male voice called out as the water clone dispelled.
"Shit" Rangiku cursed as she leapt back to avoid the bolt of lightning that came from behind her and struck the space she previously occupied.
"Katon: Shakkaho" she called out as she launched an orb of crimson flame from her palm and in the direction the jutsu came from was rewarded with a scream of pain as she saw a burnt Kaede charge at her with his naginata ready to run her through as lightning natured chakra crackled around the blade.
Rangiku channeled wind chakra into Haineko and clashed with Kaede before forcing him back and launching a blade of wind at him. Kaede jumped up to avoid the deadly projectile only to be caught off guard by the red orb of fire that hurtled into his stomach and fell to ground, badly burnt and breaking his fall on Haineko's blade, though unfortunately for him, he wasn't able to substitute with a clone this time. Rangiku withdrew her blade from his corpse before wiping the blood off of Haineko and sealing away his body and weapons before going to check on the others.
Kakashi channeled his lightning nature chakra into his kunai as Kensei did the same with his wakizashi and clashed with him before he felt the air leave his lungs as Kensei lashed out with a roundhouse kick that sent him flying. He righted himself in mid air and threw his kunai at Kensei while he landed and prepared his next attack.
"Shuriken Kage Bushin no Jutsu" he yelled as one kunai became one hundred, all hurtling towards Kensei. Kensei quickly kawarimi'd with a nearby crate, narrowly avoiding being turned into a pin cushion.
"Raiton: Jibashi (Lightning Release: Electromagnetic Murder)" Kensei yelled as he slammed his hands onto the ground and electricity surged forth, heading straight for Kakashi who found himself in the air once as he jumped up to avoid the attack.
"Katon: Hosenka (Fire Style: Phoenix Flower)" Kakashi yelled and launched a volley of small fireballs towards Kensei who quickly erected a water wall to block the attack.
Kensei ran to meet Kakashi and threw a right hook that Kakash ducked under before delivering a devastating punch to Kensei stomach, making him cough up blood as he doubled over. He grabbed Kensei's head and slammed it down on his knee, blood spurting forth from Kensei's newly broken nose as he reeled back.
Kensei ducked underneath Kakashi's follow up kick and stabbed Kakashi's shoulder, not going all the way through but still hurting him if the curse he gave was any indication. He followed up with a slash at Kakashi neck, hoping to decapitate him but Kakashi merely ducked and drove a kunai into Kensei's left thigh, severely hampering his mobility. He swiftly ran through handsigns before gathering lightning natured chakra into his right hand and holding it steady with his left as the chakra became visible, he charged at Kensei, determined to finish the with his only original jutsu.
"Raikiri" he screamed not giving Kensei's eyes the chance to widen before plunging his lightning encased fist into Kensei's chest and heart, killing him instantly.
He withdrew his bloody hand form Kensei's corpse with a sickening squelch before sealing it away, along with his weapon. He then began walking in the direction Naruto's fight, which seemed to be the only one still going.
They broke the deadlock and Naruto came at Zabuza, taking advantage of his sword's slender shape with a flurry of rapids thrusts. Zabuza dodged the first few before holding his Zanbatou in front of him, using the blade a an improvised shield against most of the stabs, grimacing as the final one targeted the semi-circular hole cout into the blade and pierced his left shoulder. He swung his zanbatou with a roar, opening a wide cut on Naruto's left side where his ribs were instead of horizontally splitting the boy in half as the attack was meant to as Naruto jumped back to avoid the death blow.
Zabuza grinned beneath his bandages. The spar, for that is what it for all intents and purposes was wouldn't be very fun without killing blows now would it?
They continued to exchange blows and Naruto started to smile as he basked in the sweet song of steel on steel, harsh clangs ringing out as he clashed with Zabuza again and again as the two danced amongst the sparks formed by the meeting of their blades, each attempting to defeat the other and neither giving ground. Blood spurted from nicks and cut caused by grazing blows as the dance continued, the world around them non-existent as they focused on each other, taking no notice of the others who watched their battle silently. Both swordsmen could feel the sheer joy in their hearts at being pushed so hard and fighting a truly worthy opponent in the most beautiful form of battle, kenjutsu.
They met in a deadlock before pushing off of one another and charging once more.
Naruto grinned as he brought Zangetsu up in time to block another of Zabuza's attempts to cut him in half. He shoved Zabuza off him and swung at his neck, grazing instead of severing it as he had originally intended as the missing nin leant back. He followed up with a rapid diagonal slash that Zabuza batted away with his zanbato before bringing the massive blade down on Naruto with speed far beyond what a that size blade should be capable of. Naruto nimbly sidestepped the strike and his eyes widened as he saw blade cleave through the bridge like a hot knife through butter. He tried to block Zabuza's next attack, a brutal two-handed horizontal swing before he felt his arms starting to buckle under the immense strength of Zabuza's attack. He jumped above Kubikiribocho as it carved through the space he previously occupied and spun in the air before stabbing downward through the hole near the tip, immediately stopping the blade in it's path.
He lashed out with a kick to the throat that Zabuza caught in the nick of time before slamming Naruto into the bridge, hard, smirking viciously at the pained cry that left his lips and threw him up and away at a nearby crane used during the bridges' construction. Naruto managed to right himself in midair and held his right arm out as the broken chain that hung from Zangetsu's hilt extended and wrapped around into his arm before he pulled harshly on the chain to free Zangetsu from the bridge, smiling lightly despite the pain he was in as he felt the familiar weight land in his waiting hand before landing midway up the crane and sticking there with his chakra. He grinned as he crouched against the crane before channeling a shit load of to his feet and jumping at Zabuza.
The result of this was a Naruto shaped missile rocketing towards Zabuza, propelled off the crane thanks to the sudden and explosive expulsion of chakra from his feet. Zabuza grimaced as he grasped Kubikiribocho with his two hands, knowing he would need the extra power and swung at Naruto intercept his strike. A shockwave shot out from the point of impact as the two swordsmen clashed, Zangetsu cutting into Kubikirbocho. Naruto kicked at Zabuza's chest during the deadlock with the former Kiri-nin being helpless to stop the attack thanks to the deadlock he was currently in. Zabuza flew threw the air with Naruto appearing in his path and bringing his elbow down savagely on Zabuza's chest making him coughed up blood as he hit the bridge, a small crater forming around his body.
Zabuza looked to Naruto holding Zangetsu to his throat with Kubikiribocho stabbed into the bridge behind him, out of Zabuza's reach.
"Do you yield" Naruto asked him, the tip of his blade digging into Zabuza's throat as he glared down at him.
Zabuza looked at him for a second before sighing. "Yes Naruto I yield" he answered. Naruto's face immediately broke out into a grin and he sheathed Zangetsu before offering Zabuza his hand to help him up. Zabuza took the proffered limb and pulled himself up and nodded his thanks.
"So what were you going to tell me about Zangetsu" he asked him as the others joined them.
"I'll tell you later Naruto, in private" Zabuza said as he cautiously eyed everyone in the group, a look of disbelief momentarily clouding his features as he saw Haku in Yoruichi's arms before it vanished.
"Fair enough. Besides, I think we have some company" Naruto replied as he looked towards the end of the bridge where Gato stood, accompanied by an army of thugs while a boat, no doubt carrying reinforcements was approaching the brideg from the distance.
"I should've known that reputation of yours was bullshit Zabuza. What kind of Demon gets his ass handed to him some punk like him? If wasn't for the fact that this makes you that much easier to kill, I'd actually be disappointed" Gato said as he saw the fatigued ninja. Gato then noticed the look of outrage that crossed Zabuza face as he realised what was going on and chuckled. "Don't look so surprised Zabuza, you didn't think I'd actually pay you for your services did you? Besides, missing-nin are so much more expensive than these mercenaries. Now boys, kill everyone on the bridge but keep the women alive, I can think of a few uses for them" Gato said, his grin becoming lecherous as he eyed Rangiku, Haku and Yoruichi, a grin that the majority of his thugs shared and made said women shiver in revulsion.
The army began charge forward only to be stopped as a single arrow landed at Gato's feet. Everyone looked for the source of the arrow, only to see Inari, crossbow in hand and the people of Wave standing right behind, each clutching improvised weapons like pitchforks or hammers, in the middle of the bridge.
"Inari what the hell are you doing here?" Naruto yelled at him in a concerned tone.
"Where else am I meant to be Naruto-nii? You said yourself 'Who else but the hero arrives in the nick of time to save the maidens fair?'" Inari replied with a cheeky grin which Naruto returned as he heard Inari paraphrasing what he said to him earlier.
"Good man Inari but stand back, and we'll take of these thugs, it's our job remember". Inari nodded and did as Naruto bid him, going over to stand by his grandfather while Sai joined his fellow shinobi.
"Hey Zabuza" Naruto called out, gaining the swordsman's attention.
"What Naruto?" Zabuza turned around only to catch two pills Naruto threw at him recognizing them to be chakra and blood pills.
"How do you feel about switching sides now and we can make it official later when we return to the village" he asked him.
"Sounds like fun" Zabuza said with a grin, eyeing Gato with a sadistic glint in his eyes as he took the two pills, feeling the blood and chakra he lost during the fight being replenished by them and picked Kubikiribocho up.
"Hey Naruto-kun, need another blade in this little bloodbath you're planning" Rangiku asked him with Haineko in hand, having healed the cut on her waist with some of the minor medical ninjutsu she knew.
"The more the merrier Rangiku-sensei" he replied with a grin.
"Hey Yoruichi-chan, aniki, Sai, would you guys mind taking care of anyone who slips past us" Naruto asked them and got a nod in response from the three ninja.
Naruto turned around to face Gato's thug army, noticing Rangiku taking her place on his left and Zabuza on his right. He grinned before charging at the thug army, with his fellow swordsmen close behind him.
Yoruichi and the people of Wave looked on in awe and horror as they watched the swordsmen and swordswoman tear through the thug army that must have been three hundred strong.
Zabuza lived up to moniker as a Demon as he savagely cleaved through the opposing army, bodyparts flying through the air as he swung his zanbatou, taking out multiple mercenaries with each swing.
Rangiku was far more elegant in her approach, slicing and stabbing her opponents in their vital points with deadly efficiency. Her orange hair spun around her as she ducked and whirled around the mercenaries' attempts to harm her before cutting them down.
Naruto was somewhere between the two, his movements somehow conspiring to be both brutal and graceful in their execution as he slew all those who opposed him. His style also seemed to be more erratic and unpredictable than the other's, getting the drop on the mercenaries several times when he swung Zangetsu by her chain before throwing her, impaling several thugs each time upon the ebony blade.
Despite the progress they were making in disposing of the thugs they soon found themselves surrounded.
"Guess it's time to take it up a notch" Rangiku said before holding Haineko up in front as she face the thugs. "Unare: Haineko (Growl: Ash Cat)" she called out as her blade turn to ash blown towards the mercenaries in front of her by a sudden breeze.
"I don't know what that was supposed to do lady but it'll take more than a little ash to beat us" one of thugs said as he laughed along with the others at the sight of her blade falling apart before him.
"Oh I wouldn't be so sure about that" she replied and before he could ask her what she meant she swung the sword hilt in her hand, making the ash cut through the thugs surrounding her before continuing on, now having a crimson tint as it was soaked in the blood of her foes.
Zabuza grinned stabbed Kubikiribocho into the ground before he created four water clones to help him with his next jutsu. "Suiton: Gochiso No Leviathans (Water Style: Feast of the Leviathans)" they called out once the handsigns were finished as five enormous horned serpents with glowing red eyes and glistening fangs rose up behind them from the water that they made from and crashed down on the thugs, crushing and sweeping them away along with his clones as Zabuza kept himself in pace by channeling chakra to the soles of his feet. He panted heavily from the strain of the justu and took another chakra pill to replenish his reserves before removing Kubikiribocho from the ground and stabbing it into the nearby corpse of a thug.
Those thugs who were out of the devastating jutsu's range watched in sick fascination as blood flowed up from the corpse and onto the blade, repairing any crack in the blade along the way.
Zabuza pulled the blade free from the corpse with a sickening squelch before resting it on his shoulder and cracking his neck as he looked at the next wave of thugs.
"So, who's next" he asked covered in blood with a grin that showed his pointed teeth, as the bandage had fallen from his face earlier in the fight.
The screams he got in response only made his grin wider, as he strolled after the now running thugs before vanishing from sight and reappearing in front of them.
"I guess I'll start with you then" he said, pointing Kubikiribocho at the first one to run ad decapitating him before the moving onto the next thug in line.
Naruto sighed as he went through his possible options for taking out the thugs before him. Getsuga Tensho was out as were most of his other jutsu out their explosive nature. He pouted for a second, he really wanted to blow these bastards the fuck up but he really didn't feel destroying what he and his clones helped make over the course of the last week.
So he went with Plan B.
'Hey Kyuu-chan, can you lend me some chakra' he asked her.
'Sure Naruto-kun, just hold on for a second' Kyuubi replied as she sent her demonic chakra coursing through his chakra network, having an effect on his outward appearance as his whisker marks and eyes darkened, his canines and nails lengthened. One change no one noticed however was the traces of inky black that seemed to be seeping into his sclera.
Naruto grinned as he felt her power flow through him, though it felt a tad different to him from the previous times he drew upon it.
It felt… slightly familiar somehow… as if it was part of him and yet he could discern that the potent chakra was hers. But still… a small portion of it felt like his own, just much more malicious in nature. Zangetsu and Kyuubi noticed the slightly altered feel of the chakra as well and narrowed their eyes as they realised where it came from, their suspicions confirmed as they heard muted yet undeniably mad cackles from the fringe of Naruto's mindscape, where he was locked up.
The thugs started to back away as a red shroud of chakra started to cover Naruto and make the little changes in appearance that marked his use of Kyuubi's chakra before receding into his skin once more. Some shivered at the raw malevolence and malice that seemed to ooze from him, others were frozen by it and the rest blindly attacked him, consumed by fear.
"Now then, who's up for round two?" he asked, his crazed grin doing an excellent job of showing off his sharp canines. He ran to meet the mob approaching him, blade in hand and disappeared into it, spurts of scarlet shooting skyward and wails of agony the only indication of his path as he cut through them.
Gato stared in horror at the three blood-soaked warriors as they approached him, the mass of mutilated flesh behind them the only remains of his army.
"S-stay away from me" he screamed as he tried to turn and run before stumbling and falling. He kept backing away until he felt his hands hit the edge of the bridge
"Can't do that Gato" Naruto replied as he grabbed the tiny tyrant by his collar and held him over the end of the bridge.
"P-please spare me, I'll give you anything. Money, women, power? You name it and it's yours" Gato desperately pleaded with them, eyes darting down to the harsh waters he would fall into if Naruto dropped him.
"Anything?" Naruto asked him.
"Very well then. Sign over your business to me and I won't kill you" Naruto asked him as he set Gato on the bridge. Gato immediately went to work and signed the documents necessary to transfer ownership of his business that he conveniently had in the briefcase he brought with him to the bridge. He soon finished and all that was needed to complete the transaction was the new owner's signature.
Naruto looked the documents over once they were completely in order and nodded to himself once he saw that they were. He then put them into Gato's briefcase before picking Gato up and throwing him to Zabuza who grinned and nodded his thanks.
"Zabuza, he's all yours" he said before walking back to the others with Rangiku, briefcase in hand.
"Thanks Naruto" he said as he glared at Gato.
"W-wait you said you wouldn't kill me if I signed over my business" Gato said in desperation.
"True, but I never said anything about Zabuza. And please don't take it personally Gato, it's just business" he replied coldly without looking back.
Gato didn't have time to say anything else before Kubikiribocho lived up to it's name and decapitated Gato before Zabuza kicked his corpse, head and body into the water below. The sight of their boss' corpse falling from the bridge startled the mercenaries who were approaching the bridge as the boat finally arrived with reinforcements for Gato's long dead army.
Naruto grinned as he saw them before pumping the majority of his remaining reserves into Zangetsu, an enormous black and cloak of chakra srrounding the blade before he swung the blade at the boat, releasing the deadly arc of chakra at the thugs.
"GETSUGA TENSHO" he roared and watched with a grin as the boat was cleaved in half by the crescent moon shaped attack before it exploded, ensuring no mercenaries survived the attack.
He turned back and walked to join his fellow shinobi and the people of Wave.
The villagers of Wave were silent for a moment as they watched Gato's long awaited death, quickly followed by the death of his last remaining thugs before they started cheering, tears of joy streaming down their faces at the prospect of finally being free from Gato's rule.
"Hey Tazuna, catch" Naruto said as he threw Tazuna the briefcase which he caught.
"Gaki, isn't this…" Tazuna started as he stared at the briefcase in his hands in disbelief.
"The deeds to Gato Inc.?" he finished cheerfully. "Yes, yes it is".
"I can't accept this" Tazuna said as he tried to hand it back to the swordsman but he was adamant.
"Just consider it compensation for what Gato's done" Naruto told him with a smile while Tazuna stared at him with teary eyes.
"Thank you, thank you all for helping us" Tazuna said to the shinobi that stood before him, joy settling in his heart as he realised that they were finally free from Gato thanks to their efforts.
"It's no problem Tazuna-san, we were happy to help" Kakashi replied with his trademark eyesmile.
"Now then, I believe a celebration in order" Rangiku said brightly and got a loud cheer in response as they all left the bridge, when Kakashi stopped suddenly.
"You alright Kakashi?" Rangiku asked him as she noticed him fall behind.
"I think so, I just feel like I'm forgetting something" Kakashi responded thoughtfully.
"Eh, if you forgot about it's probably not that important" Rangiku replied, dismissing Kakashi's concern.
"Yeah, you're right Kakashi said as he nodded in agreement, continuing on and conveniently missing a fuming and still tied up Sakura lying a crate.
They partied hard and late that night, into the early hours of the morning, with booze flowing freely. All the shinobi, even Zabuza and Haku were treated like heroes that night, bar Sakura who was mysteriously missing, not that anyone cared and Sasuke who was still unconscious due to Haku 'accidentally' forgetting to remove the senbon that had rendered him unconscious.
The group of shinobi however weren't the only heroes that night. Inari, for gathering the people wave together to stand up to Gato was seen as a hero by the people of Wave, just like Kaiza before him. He didn't know what to do with the attention and humbly said it was nothing, making himself look even better in the eyes of the people around him, especially the women who thought he looked adorable as his cheeks turned pink under all the praise he was receiving.
He turned beet red however when both Yoruichi and Rangiku pecked him on the cheek, saying that the hero should be rewarded by the maidens he saved before a goofy grin crept across his face and stayed for the rest of the night.
Kakashi also received some attention from the ladies, one buxom blonde in particular who led him to her home where she could 'show' him her gratitude, much to his obvious delight, if the thumbs up he shot Naruto was any indication.
Rangiku had started yet another drinking contest, this time with Zabuza, Tazuna and some other villagers. It had clearly been going on foe a while as several villagers were passed out on the floors and Haku was nervously hanging on the edge of onlookers as she eyed her master down bottle after bottle.
Sai had offered to stay behind and look after Sasuke, he still had his orders to keep an eye on him, plus he was never that good with large groups of people. He also needed some privacy to go over the data his clone had gathered on Naruto.
And Naruto, well he was searching for Yoruichi and found her on cliff near the village, one leg hanging off it and hugging her other knee to her chest as she looked at the ocean.
"Room for one more?" he asked as he approached her.
"Sure" Yoruichi said as she patted the patch of grass beside her, beckoning him to sit down beside her.
"So what are you doing out here, I thought you'd be down there at the party".
"All sorts of clever little things" she said with a wry grin.
"Aren't you always" he asked playing along with her with an amused smirk.
"Flattery will get you everywhere" she replied.
"One can only hope. Seriously though ,what's on your mind, you're usually never this quite" Naruto asked her, his tone shifting from playful to concerned.
"I was just wondering how you three were able to tear that army apart and just continue on as if nothing happened" she asked him. "I mean I know they deserved it for what they had and would have done had they survived but …" she acknowledged before trailing off.
"… they were still human" he finished for her.
"Yeah" she said softly, not looking at him.
"Well, you've heard of Zabuza and his reputation before all this haven't you" he asked her and she nodded. "Well then, you know that when he grew up in Mist you had to kill your classmates to pass the graduation exam. He was the only one to survive that year and he was only nine years old. Hell, he wasn't even a student at the time. That's why he's known as the Demon of the Hidden Mist. And he also served as an Anbu for several years before his failed assassination of the Yondaime Mizukage. So you can't really expect to be shaken by killing some thugs" he said.
"As for Rangiku-chan she's been a ninja for some time as well so she's probably done things like this before so she's used to it, depressing as that may seem. In fact just think about what she is known as in the bingo book 'Rangiku of the Crimson Ash'. The ash obviously refers to her sword and it's power while the crimson part is an acknowledgement of the blood that stains her blade when she uses it" he said.
"What about you?" she asked him quietly.
"What do you mean?"
"What about you?" she repeated firmly. "How are you able to do it?"
"Simple. It had to be done and I couldn't let them escape, knowing what they would do if they had" he replied seriously. "And being trained by two sadists since age eight probably helps" he finished with a little grin and got a giggle out of Yoruichi.
'Hey, I am not a sadist' Kyuubi yelled at him defensively.
'When I started to train with you in evasion in my mindscape you had me dodge house sized fireballs while running your special obstacle course. An obstacle course that includes a lava pool, kunai launchers, and giant meteors falling from the sky that randomly explode and rainy down fiery fragments I might add' he deadpanned.
'It worked didn't it?' she said with a pout, sulking at the fact that her training methods were questioned.
'What about you Zan-chan? Are you going to deny it?' Naruto asked her.
'Nope' she replied happily.
'Well, at she's honest' Naruto thought to himself, both amused and slightly disturbed at how happy she was when admitting it.
"Earth to Naruto" Yoruichi said as she snapped her fingers in front of his face, snapping him out his reverie.
"What?" he asked, startled.
"I've been trying to talk to you but you've been spaced out for the last few minutes".
"Sorry about that" he said, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "I was just having an argument with the voices in my head".
"You know, if anyone else said that, I'd worry about their sanity" Yoruichi remarked.
"But you know mine is already long gone".
"Yep" she chirped happily in response.
"So what did you want to talk about?" he asked her.
"Us" she said.
They were both silent for a moment as they stared at each other. They both knew how they felt about the other and were relatively confident that their feelings were reciprocated by the other. It was merely a matter of who confessed first.
"Naruto-kun, I-I love you. I have since we were kids." Yoruichi told him, feeling a weight come off her shoulders as she finally made her feelings known.
"Yoruichi-chan, I love you too but…" he was cut off mid-sentence by a single pressed against his lips.
"I know all about the C.R.A. Naruto-kun, I have for a while" she said.
"And you're okay with that?" he asked her once she removed he finger.
Yoruichi sighed. "Admittedly I'm not thrilled at the prospect of sharing you but I've grown used to the idea and I know you'll treat us fairly. So who else do you have in mind?"
"I'm already with Kyuubi-chan and Zangetsu-chan and I'm falling for Mei-chan and Rangiku-chan" he answered her.
Yoruichi nodded. She'd guessed as much. She watched him stand up and took the hand he offered her to help her up. She tapped him on the shoulder and watched as he turned around before wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her lips softly his. Naruto froze for moment before he returned the kiss, sucking lightly on her lower lip while he wrapped his arms around her waist, hands happily resting on her magnificent derrier. Yoruichi, lost in the kiss, moaned as she felt his hands on her ass before she licked his teeth to gain entry and he happily obliged her, opening his mouth so her tongue could enter. Their tongues wrestled for a moment, wrapping around one another before he let her explore his mouth, something she did happily before she withdrew from his mouth with his tongue following hers, eager to some exploring of his own. It showed as the wet muscle delved into her mouth, happily clashing with her own tongue before exploring every inch of her moist cavern.
They separated soon afterwards as the need for air became to great, foreheads pressed together and panting as a trail of saliva connected their lips, loving golden orbs gazing into equally affectionate crimson ones.
"I've been waiting so long to do that" Yoruichi breathed out and Naruto nodded before grabbing her hand and leading her back to the Tazuna house, tired from the day and wanting to get some sleep.
One week later
The group of shinobi stood before the now completed bridge, ready to head back home. A crowd had gathered as the people of Wave wanted to bid their heroes farewell in person.
"Be sure to come back and visit" Tazuna said.
"Of course" Rangiku replied "And have some sake ready when we arrive".
"Don't worry I will" Tazuna said with a chuckle.
"Goodbye Naruto-nii" Inari said, tears building in his eyes.
"See ya later Otouto" Naruto said and waved as the group of shinobi headed off towards Konoha.
The villagers watched and waved as they faded into the distance.
"So what should call the bridge?" one villager asked.
"'The Super Tazunza Bridge'" Tazuna suggested and got a quick clip around the ear from Tsunami in the process.
"No, we should call the 'Great Naruto Bridge' in honor of the hero who gave our country hope" Inari said and got several roars of agreement from the crowd.
"'The Great Naruto Bridge' it is then" Tazunza said and smiled as the villagers cheered in agreement.
AN: It's finally done. Sorry that this update took so long but there were several reasons why it did.
1. I couldn't write anything until July due to my Exams.
2. I had to help my older brother build his workshop and help him fix up the house while he's home from college.
3. I wanted to hang out with my friends.
4. I finally had enough free time play Assassin's Creed 3 properly. Love the game so far but I'm not all that fond of Connor, he's too boring for my tastes, especially when compared to Ezio.
5. Another contributing factor was the fact that this chapter was a bitch to write and several sections were rewritten multiple times and even now I'm still not completely happy with parts of it but I needed to update.
Anyway I'd like to thank you all for being so patient and as always please review to let me know what you thought of the chapter, specifically the fight scenes.
Take it handy,