Kaijinkotsu no Naruto (Naruto of the Ash Bone)
灰燼骨のナルト

Chapter 1: Dead Bones


Amongst the warring clans, almost a century ago, a great terror roamed the wetlands. Tales spoke of white monsters, bleeding of bone, which destroyed their enemies without hesitation. They were no longer men, tales told. Once the Dead Bone Pulse got to them, they were reduced to monsters.

So the Kaguya locked them up. It was their curse to bear; the gods frowned upon them for their warlike ways, so they blighted them with the Shikotsumyaku. But the Kaguya, they feared the monsters as much as the outsiders did. If one day the monsters escaped… well, that would spell ruin for the entire clan. But behind those bars, where the beholders would watch them starve to death, rattling the chains that bound them like madmen, they were safe.

So the extinction of the Kaguya was not due to these monsters, but rather their arrogance. With the monsters locked up, the clan was free to continue their devastating ways. Then, as the time of nomadic clans passed and nations of warriors rose, the Kaguya were among the first to fall. The nation of Kiri swiftly put an end to the clan after casualties piled up. There would be no more barbarianism, the new Mizukage had said. With a swift chop of the blade, the head rolled, and the Kaguya clan was no more.

But the curse persisted, carrying on through the blood of many who had mingled with the forsaken clan in the past. And the curse recessed, hiding in the genes of so few, who statistically would be unlikely to bear children together, but in reality, it would happen.

Uzumaki Kushina of Uzushio descended from the couple Uzumaki Tokato and Kaguya Miko five generations prior. Somehow, the gene lived on, and imparted itself into the woman, lying dormant.

Namikaze Minato, carrying the blood of waves and winds, descended from the noble house of Katora from times long since passed. The Daimyo of that house raped one Kaguya Seika, and the entire property was burned down in retribution by her clan. The child that resulted from that hideous pairing was lost and presumed dead in the fire.

But as fate would have it, for the select few in the current age, the curse survived, and for some, would be a blessing, and others, a burden. Right here and now, on a dark night after Konoha's newest batch of Academy Graduates were chosen, the curse saved Uzumaki Naruto's life.


The gargantuan shuriken was deflected with ease after he felt a shredding pain erupt from his shoulder. The white-haired boy winced, and felt the location on his body that he swore just split in half. Glancing at the site of his pain, he recoiled at the sight of his shoulder blade exposed, forming a great shield. It wasn't even dented by the shuriken, big as it was.

"My… my shoulder!" He gasped, feeling the bloody bone slowly slide back into its proper location. The pain was immense, but Naruto had felt worse. He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

"You truly are a demon!" His opponent cried. Naruto took a moment to return his mind to the battlefield, turning his attention to the man standing in the tree. His Academy teacher, after six odd years of teaching him, betrayed him. It grated on Naruto's nerves to know that the man faked kindness in preparation for this night. If Naruto was a little less lucky… well, he probably would be in two pieces at this point. He glanced at his teacher, Iruka, who was still a little shaken up since the bastard had informed Naruto of his burden. The Nine-Tailed Fox, a beast of unfathomable power, rested in his stomach. Was that the reason for his bony projection? Maybe, maybe not. What he did know was that he was going to practice a bit more with this bone thingy. Once he taught Mizuki a lesson of course.

"Teme…" Naruto hissed. "You just made enemies with the wrong guy!" He rushed forward, jumping. He felt it, the bones calling to him. They urged to be released. Now that he unlocked it, it was so easy! Osseous tissue emerged from his forearm in a bloody mess, the radial bone deforming as it emerged straight from his arm and extended past the limit of Naruto's punch straight into his adversary's heart. The bones of Mizuki's ribs stood no chance next to the extreme solidity of his own bones and shattered on impact.

Naruto felt the blood of his former teacher's punctured lung spill onto him as the man coughed out his final breath, and his awareness returned once more. His forearm bone retracted almost fearfully as Naruto looked at what he had accomplished. Iruka, too, was equally silenced.

The young man looked at his arm fearfully; a bloody hole was torn in the fabric of his jacket where the bone emerged. He willed it once more and winced as the bone emerged again, carrying with it the gore of the boy's inner arm.

"Naruto… you…" Iruka broached. He shook his head. He was going about this wrong. "Congratulations Naruto."

The young man looked at his teacher. "For what…?" He glanced at Mizuki's bleeding corpse before looking back at his sensei. "I just brutally murdered one of my teachers."

Iruka sighed, knowing that this would come. It happened to all who made their first kill. This one, however, was personal. Naruto trusted the man as much as any student would ordinarily trust his teacher, and that trust was just betrayed. He would have to approach this carefully. "Naruto, look at me. You did not kill one of your teachers. You merely disposed of a traitor to Konoha, very efficiently might I add. You deserve commendations for that." He thought for a moment. "You know what, Naruto? Close your eyes."

The white-haired boy felt something wrapping around his head, and he opened his eyes excitedly as he felt Iruka's headband wrapped around his head. "Congratulations on your promotion, Genin Uzumaki. You will make Konoha proud."

Despite the mangled body beside him, Naruto could have sworn he had never been so happy in his life.


"This is an interesting development indeed." The old Hokage mused, taking a drag from his pipe as he observed Naruto's new abilities. This explained why the boy's hair was white at least. To think that he had latent Kaguya blood in him. Hiruzen knew that both of his parents had blood from around Kiri, although his father's line had been a little less certain, this event just confirmed it.

"What is it, Jiji?" Naruto asked. The old man could tell that he was somewhat fearful of his ability. He was proud however, that he could manage pulling his bones out through his skin with barely a wince.

The Hokage puffed some tobacco. "What you currently possess is a bloodline from Kirigakure called the Shikotsumyaku." He clarified. "It was known as the curse of the Kaguya clan, who feared its power and had those who possessed it locked up for the whole of their lives." The old man spoke again after seeing his young charge's eyes go wide. "We will not do that to you of course. As it is a bloodline ability, it is in your best interest to foster its use and become proficient with it."

Naruto nodded, taking in the information the old man was giving out with gusto. He played around with his radius a little more, feeling less and less pain as it moved his skin. "So, old man. What about the Kyuubi?"

Hiruzen nodded, fearing this topic. "First, Naruto let me emphasize that despite what Mizuki may have told you, you are not the Kyuubi." He paused, letting the words sink in. "You are as much the Kyuubi as a scroll is the kunai that is stored in it."

The white-haired boy nodded.

"Second, let me make you aware of the duty of a Jinchuuriki. The Yondaime Hokage did not mean to make a Jinchuuriki, but uncontrollable events had the Fox attack the village twelve years ago so naturally, you followed suit. However, since you are a Jinchuuriki, it is advisable that you learn how to use its power."

Naruto nodded, swallowing any protest he had when he noticed the old man's serious expression. He knew that Konoha needed a powerful ninja. Or at least, it could use another one, he wasn't sure. But he was certain that it was the former.

"Jiji, I'm ready." He said. Iruka, who was sitting silently observing, spoke up.

"Naruto's going to be doing some training then?" The teacher concluded. Hiruzen nodded. He retrieved a scroll and began writing, voicing his thoughts on the parchment as his pen glided over its surface.

"He will have two tasks. Training with the Kyuubi's powers, and honing his use of the Shikotsumyaku." The Hokage continued writing. It was apparent that he was writing down an order. "I planned on having you trained with your Jinchuuriki powers later, preferably when you were a chuunin, but tonight's events have made me reconsider. With the power of the Jinchuuriki and the Shikotsumyaku by your side, you can become a ninja like none other." And that was without any of his parents skills, Hiruzen realized. He finished penning his paper. "As such, I am ordering Jiraiya of the Sannin back to Konoha in order to begin your training."

"Jiraiya-sama!" Iruka gasped. "Incredible!"

"Who's Jiraiya?" Naruto asked, scratching his head. Iruka face-palmed, but the Hokage merely chuckled.

"Jiraiya is my student. One of the legendary Sannin." Hiruzen wondered if he should drop the bombshell, but figured he would save the tidbit about him being his godfather for later.

"Your student? He must be really strong then." Naruto grinned. "He's got to be strong! And he's training me!"

The Hokage nodded, pleased with Naruto's enthusiasm. He briefly summoned a small monkey before ordering it to take the note to Jiraiya, and spoke again. "Jiraiya will likely be in town in three days or so. For now, train further in your Shikotsumyaku. I will see if I can't procure any documents about it."

Iruka looked at Naruto. "You're a genin now. Don't forget, you have to meet at the Academy in three weeks' time to be placed on a team. Don't be late."

The Hokage nodded. "You two are dismissed. Naruto, you will know when Jiraiya wants to meet with you."

The ashen-haired boy nodded, taking his leave after bidding the Hokage and Iruka good night. As his footsteps cleared earshot the Hokage spoke again. "His parents would be proud."

"He's going to grow up and be something special." Iruka agreed. The two men bid good night to each other, silently, and parted ways.


Following three days, Naruto dressed himself as he woke up. He had been admitted to the hospital on the Hokage's recommendation yesterday and the findings had been startling. Although he didn't feel it, he weighed more than twice as much as he did before at just less than two hundred pounds; and it was all in his bones. His chakra structure had changed radically as well. He didn't understand what tenketsu were, but he knew that they had a bit of a pattern. It had taken a while for the medical staff to discover that his bones functioned as a supplementary chakra system, and each acted as an additional chakra point. He was told that this would be incredibly helpful if he were faced against a Hyuuga.

He looked at himself in the mirror. He looked no different outwardly. He was just as skinny as usual, and other than his ability to expose his bones he was just another normal boy. His ribs bulged outward and formed an exoskeleton, before slowly receding back into his body. He was still different.

He sighed, and brushed his ashen hair once more before replacing the brush. Because of his bone techniques, he destroyed his favorite jacket, resulting in him investing in something a bit more resilient to his abilities, simply because of its shape. He finished donning a black tank top and smirked. He was ready for his day.

The door opened. Immediately, he was on guard, slinking to the wall. His door had been locked. Whoever entered was serious. He ejected a bone from his hand, the osseous tissue immediately sharpening to gain an edge sharper than any kunai.

He stepped silently through his apartment, hearing the intruder in his kitchen. If anything about Naruto was exemplary, it was his stealth. He was stealthy enough that ANBU would have trouble finding him, this joker would never notice him…

"Hey Naruto, what's up?" The intruder spoke. Naruto froze, before dropping any attempt at stealth, although he did not discard his weapon.

"Who are you?" Naruto said as he walked into the kitchen. The man was tall, his height accentuated even more by his geta. His most apparent feature was his mane of long white hair, like snow as opposed to Naruto's faintly gray ash-colored hair. The man looked at him.

The man was about to speak, but then looked to his sides, scanning the room. He cursed. "Damn it, there's not enough room."

Naruto raised his eyebrow quizzically. "Huh?"

"Jiraiya, by the way." The man offered his hand. "Jiraiya of the Sannin."

The boy's eyes widened in recognition, associating Jiraiya's large form with his name immediately. "Yeah I knew you were coming." He looked at the door. It was closed and locked, as if the Sannin had never entered. "I'm not going to ask how you got in here."

"That would be for the best." Jiraiya agreed. He sat down at the table, gesturing for Naruto to do the same. "So, from the old man I heard that you've got the Shikotsumyaku. What're you going to do with it?"

Naruto tilted his head. "What do you mean?"

"What are your plans for that? How are you going to use it effectively?"

Naruto frowned, putting his hand on his chin as he thought. "Well… I don't know everything about it yet… I still need to figure out exactly what I can do with it before I can answer that."

"Good answer!" Jiraiya remarked. "And that's what we're going to do for the next three weeks."

"No Jinchuuriki training?" Naruto wondered.

"Nope. That'll take too long for our time frame. Maybe after, depending on your sensei. But that's beside the point. What we need to do is figure out the extent of your abilities." Jiraiya frowned. "I'll warn you; this training will hurt like a bitch."

"I can handle it. I'm pretty tough." Naruto said confidently.

"No doubt." Jiraiya mused. From what the Hokage told him, the hospital suspected the Nine-Tailed Fox healed Naruto of his injuries extremely quickly. Alongside his naturally enhanced healing factor due to his Uzumaki heritage, he was nearly invincible with the Kyuubi's assistance. It was likely that Naruto had a massive pain tolerance simply because of his healing factor.

"Okay, let's get started then. Meet up at training ground 16 and we'll have a look at your abilities."

Naruto clapped his fists. "Osu!"


The training ground was open, and no one was in sight. The wind blew gently on Naruto's shoulders, giving a pleasant cool feeling on his back. He stood across from his teacher.

Jiraiya looked at him. The boy had shed his shirt for obvious reasons, as he would demonstrate his bone-wielding prowess so that the Sannin could study it.

"Alright, show me what you think is your most impressive bone manipulation." Jiraiya prompted. Naruto nodded, and he felt his ribcage slowly expand and emerge from his skin. The Sannin winced at the apparent pain, but Naruto gave no indication that he even felt it.

"Did you just take your ribs out?" Jiraiya asked, somewhat incredulous. Naruto shook his head.

"No, I made another set. I can't take my ribcage out without causing problems." The boy said. The Sannin nodded. That much was apparent. However, duplicating the ribs was still an amazing feat, and had very real defensive applications. The ribs slid back into the boy's skin with a sickening slurp.

"Show me some offensive techniques." He ordered, and Naruto complied, producing bladed bones from his forearms. He then cut the air around him in a dance, feigning enemies. Jiraiya watched attentively.

Naruto finished, and looked at his teacher. "How was that?"

The man dismissed him. "Your form is sloppy. You need to brush up on your taijutsu skills big time. However, the taijutsu applications of your bloodline definitely have potential." He stood up. "That's what we're going to do: solidify your taijutsu. You'll become a force to be reckoned with because of those bones."

Naruto nodded excitedly, hyped up at the prospect of training. "So, what are we going to do then?"

"For now, physical exercise will be necessary in order to allow for some rock solid stances. The Shikotsumyaku is definitely supposed to have either graceful moves or sturdy ones, and I think you're more built for the latter. Say, how much do you weigh?"

Naruto frowned. "One-hundred eighty three pounds."

Jiraiya was shocked. "Say what? One hundred eighty… right, super dense bones I guess. That might have some influence."

Naruto nodded.

"Well," he moved toward Naruto, inspecting him. Truthfully, Naruto felt a little uncomfortable at the man's scrutiny. "I'll add a gravity seal to you in order to give you some weight training. It'll be set to add ten percent to your weight right now, but you can increase and decrease it as you go." He summoned a inkpot and brush and painted on Naruto's back very quickly before the seal was set. Jiraiya channeled some chakra into it and suddenly the white-haired boy felt much heavier.

"Okay," Jiraiya said. "Now we're going to start with some exercises. Hopefully we can have you up to fifty percent on the seal by the time the three weeks are up. But for now, let's teach you a solid Taijutsu style and see if we can't incorporate those bones. Yeah, I think we're gonna do that for the three weeks we have, but obviously we're going to see how many wacky things you can do with your bones as well. Prepare for some long hard weeks." He surmised. "Now, drop and give me two hundred."

Naruto immediately did so, and fell to the ground before pushing back up. That seal made it so much worse. He was so going to want the Sannin dead after this, he knew it.


Three weeks had passed by quickly, and soon Naruto found himself free of Jiraiya's hellish training once more. He shook his head. He didn't know that anything could be as grueling as what the Sannin put him through, and if there was anything more so, he never wanted to deal with it. Ever.

So he entered his old Academy classroom with Iruka's headband tied tightly around his head. No one noticed as he entered, but some were giving him strange looks.

"Where'd the baka get a headband from?" He noticed a student, Haruno Sakura, ponder. "Didn't he fail the graduation exam?"

"At least his fashion sense isn't horrendous anymore." Yamanaka Ino commented, flipping her hair. "Actually, he is a bit of a looker under that awful jumpsuit. Look at those arms…"

Sasuke merely stared as Naruto took a seat next to Shikamaru. Obviously there was something different about the dobe.

Naruto looked behind him. "'Sup, Teme?" Sasuke grunted then turned to face the window, as usual. "Talkative as ever."

"Why are you here, Naruto? Did you take some sort of alternate exam?" Shikamaru suddenly asked. Naruto felt strangely intruded upon by his question, and was reserved about his answer.

"You could say so." He hoped that it was clear to Shikamaru that the topic was not open for discussion. The pineapple-haired boy got the hint and stopped talking about it.

"So what did you do over these three weeks then? None of us have seen you anywhere."

Naruto shrugged. "I trained. Trained like hell actually." He chuckled remembering the pain that Jiraiya put him through.

"Looks like it." The boy muttered. "You did more than I ever did."

Naruto grinned. "Doesn't everybody?"

"Troublesome…"

The door opened and Iruka entered, signifying the start of the class. The class hushed and prepared to listen to what he would say.

"Class…" The man began. "It's been a long time teaching you, but honestly, it's flown by." He looked over the classroom. "I'm proud of each and every one of you, and it was a blast teaching you. I wish you all good luck for the future, and hope each one of you achieves your dreams…" He trailed off. "Alright, the part you were all waiting for: team assignments. Each of you will be placed into a team of three, and be supervised and taught by a jonin sensei. Now, you will form an intimate bond with your team, and most likely you will all become best friends. You will fight and risk your lives together, so I'll tell you now that teamwork is essential to forming a cohesive unit." He paused. "Alright, let's begin."

Naruto blinked, staring at Iruka as the man droned off team pairings. His attention refocused some time later.

"Team 7: Akimichi Choji, Haruno Sakura, and Uchiha Sasuke." Iruka said, then covered his ears at Sakura's squeal of joy. Naruto himself flinched, and shot Sakura a dirtier look than the one Ino was sending her currently.

"Team 8," Iruka continued after a pause. "Inuzuka Kiba, Aburame Shino, and Hyuuga Hinata." There was nothing to be said about that team, other than Kiba muttering to his dog that he hoped his sensei was hot. Akamaru barked in agreement.

Iruka resumed. "Team 10: Uzumaki Naruto, Nara Shikamaru, and Yamanaka Ino." Sakura shot her a triumphant look

"Looks like I get Sasuke-kun, Ino-buta!"

Ino was about to retort, but then she looked at Naruto and smirked. "Who knows, I may have found me a gem in the rough yet."

"You mean the dead last?" Sakura blinked. "There's no way he can ever match Sasuke-kun."

"Maybe with a kick in the ass he will." She grinned. "Let's make this a little contest then."

"Deal!" Sakura instantly said, and Ino smiled in response.

"Good."

Iruka crossed his arms. "Are you ladies done?" Without waiting for a reply, he continued. "Alright, so that concludes everything I have to tell you. Please wait here and your sensei will be here to collect you."

Naruto nodded, and sat back, gazing out the window. He looked forward to training with his instructor, and perhaps showcasing some of his skills. He was rather confident with his progress, and it showed not only on his physique, but in his attitude as well. But that wasn't without reason – Naruto's insane healing factor had permitted his muscles to tear and recover at a much faster rate than humanly possible, and he had quickly jumped up the notches on his seal, to the point where his body weighed an extra fifty-five percent wherever he went. He had progressed greatly with his bone techniques as well. He was prepared to show them off whenever he got the chance as a true ninja of the Leaf.

The door opened once more, and Naruto escaped from his thoughts to judge this new arrival. A tall man, Sarutobi Asuma had a bit of scruff unshaven. The young boy could see his hand reaching toward his pocket every now and then, an indication that he was going for something in there. Was it something addictive? Cigarettes maybe? He shook his head. Shikamaru was better at this stuff, there was no sense in him doing it.

"Team 10, follow me." With that, Naruto stood up. So this man was his sensei then…

He was alright with that.


The man led them to Training Ground 10, where they assumed would be their usual training spot for the coming months. Naruto caught his breath for a moment, his seal still somewhat heavy on his body.

"Right, so, I'm Sarutobi Asuma." He lit a cigarette and placed it into his mouth, taking a drag. "Tell me about yourselves. Let's get to know each other."

Naruto curled his nose at the stench of the smoke, but gave no other signs of his displeasure. "Name's Uzumaki Naruto. I'll be the next Hokage! I like ramen and training. I don't like anyone who discriminates people for something that's not their fault."

Asuma nodded. "That's a start. Alright, who's next?"

Ino shrugged. "I'm Yamanaka Ino. I like botany and practicing my clan's mind techniques. I dislike anyone who gets in the way of love! And this lazy bastard!"

Shikamaru shook his head. "How troublesome. Well, I'm Nara Shikamaru I guess. I like sleeping, and playing shogi, and not training. It's too troublesome to dislike things… well, I don't like it when my mom nags me but…" He trailed off.

Asuma nodded. "Nagging sucks." He sighed. "Alright. I think I know a bit about you all right now. I'll let you know this. We've got a test tomorrow morning."

Ino sighed dramatically. "Another one? We already just passed one. We're genin now, right?"

He hesitated. "Well… no not necessarily. You have to pass this test first. And with a 66 percent failure rate well, you have to be prepared."

"How do we prepare for a test that's tomorrow morning?" Shikamaru asked, annoyed at how troublesome this whole situation was.

"Sleep well, eat right, that stuff." He suggested. "Alright, you all are dismissed." Obviously he didn't want to be here for very long. Naruto frowned. His sensei seemed kind of lazy. At least Ero-Sennin taught him things. Naruto shrugged.

"See you all later." He said, beginning to walk away.

"Oh no you don't!" Ino yanked the collar of his tank top, drawing him in. She grabbed Shikamaru similarly, the boy muttering about how troublesome the whole thing was. "Let's go get some food together. Think of it as team bonding." She suggested.

Naruto pondered this then figured it wouldn't be a problem. "I don't see why not. Let's get some ramen."

"Is ramen all you think about Naruto…? I have a figure to maintain. Let's get something else."

Shikamaru sighed. "Troublesome… how about barbeque?"

Naruto tested the word on his tongue, then figured that there wasn't anything wrong with it. While barbeque wasn't as good as ramen, it was still delicious, and he really didn't have it in a long time. It would be worth having. "Seconded."

Ino sighed. "Barbeque's fine. I just can't eat too much of it." The group began to walk toward one of the barbeque places that was close by.

Naruto looked at her. "You really don't eat a lot, do you?" She was really skinny. He was sure that Iruka mentioned something about it to her.

"I can't let myself go." Ino said. "I have a figure to maintain and people to impress."

"It's not like you'll gain any sort of weight anyway, I mean, you're a ninja. You could probably eat a bit more."

If looks could kill, Ino's glare would have had the white-haired Uzumaki incinerated by now.

"I-I mean…! I think you'll look really nice if you stop this fad diet." He cleared his throat, adopting a serious tone. "Now I don't know about Sasuke, but if your diet hampers your performance as a Kunoichi you're less eligible in my book."

Ino looked scandalized. "How could you…!"

"All I'm saying is that you should be focused on being the best you can be, okay? Don't let simple things get in the way of that." He looked ahead of him, seeing the building that they were looking for. "Alright, I'm starving. I'll go get a table."

Naruto walked into the restaurant, Ino looked at his retreating form. Shikamaru was about to follow him before Ino grabbed his shoulder.

"Is what he said true? Should I change what I eat?" She asked him. Shikamaru quirked an eyebrow.

"Since when did you care what Naruto thought?"

"I…" She stammered, unable to come up with a decent reply. Literally yesterday she had no opinion on Naruto and his thoughts whatsoever.

"Frankly, I agree with him, but that doesn't matter now. It looks like Naruto's got the table. Let's eat." He walked into the restaurant, Ino following behind him.


Naruto was waiting for them to arrive patiently. Ino looked at him nervously, but there was no indication that he had heard what they were talking about. Or at least, if he had, he was a good actor. She wondered if he really felt that way about her. She knew that her diet wasn't necessarily the best, but it was supposed to earn the attention of Sasuke-kun.

Then she remembered her little competition. She wasn't supposed to be after Sasuke-kun any more. She was supposed to try to earn Naruto's affections. She thought back on what she said to Sakura, merely four hours ago, and realized that she was being shallow.

To earn his love, all for a little spat between two girls. She shook her head. That was pathetic of her to even consider it.

"Ino." She shook herself out of her thoughts, noticing Naruto was speaking to her. "Your turn to order."

She jumped, quickly thinking up something she should have. "Uh… honey barbeque please!" She gave the waiter her best smile. He wrote her order on a notepad then wandered off to complete it.

"You spaced out." Naruto grinned. "Thinking about me?"

"Baka!" She reached across the table and playfully punched him. Despite his changes over the past three weeks, Ino realized he was still the same knucklehead as usual. She felt a blush cross her face when she noticed that he hit the nail on the head.

"Troublesome… You two sound like you're married." Shikamaru shook his head. "And I'm caught in the middle of this." He sighed dramatically.

Their food soon arrived after more talking and Ino noted the intense smell of Naruto's dish.

"I didn't know you liked spicy things." She said, curling her nose in distaste. "Is that jalapeno sauce?"

"Yup!" Naruto said as he dug in. "Didn't really notice it until a while ago, but spicy things are delicious." He ate the barbeque quickly, and Ino was sure that he should have been breathing fire by now. But he wasn't, and she was mildly impressed by his fortitude. Not that she was going to say that out loud of course.

"I'll just stick with my honey barbeque, thanks." She said, taking a bite of her stuff. Shikamaru seemed to notice something strange about her dish, but said nothing. She looked at him, then back at her food, and realized that she had ordered barbeque instead of just a salad like she normally did.

Naruto's words must have really gotten to me, she thought.


When they finished their meal, the each went their separate ways. Naruto grinned as he felt the spicy taste in his mouth, he had to come here more often. Could there be a competitor to the great and holy ramen?

Nah, he decided, it was just the heat of the moment. There could be nothing as amazing as ramen.

With that thought in mind, he headed toward his apartment after giving his goodbyes to his teammates. There was a test tomorrow, and while he wasn't certain that he knew what it was, he knew that it would be helpful to be as prepared as he could be.

He couldn't do anything about that, for now. But he looked at the setting sun and realized that at some point soon, he should head to bed. It was a bit earlier than he was used to, but it was important that he get a good sleep.

"Alright! Tomorrow, I'm taking you by storm, Dattebayo!" He yelled to nobody. Yes, Naruto was feeling good about tomorrow.