Day 2

"Thank you for coming, Naruto-kun! Allow me to start by asking – how have things been going for you?"

Naruto paused for a second at the entrance to Mikogami's office, staring blankly at the man before letting out a sigh and stepping inside, quietly closing the door behind him.

"It's barely been two days, Mikogami. Of all the questions you can ask, is that really the one?"

The Chairman simply waved at a chair in front of his desk, gesturing for the blond to have a seat. "No, not really. It's merely my attempt at opening a dialogue, you see. I didn't want to come out swinging and make you go on the defensive. You're no fun when you're defensive."

Snorting, Naruto casually moved over to the chair. His eyes were immediately drawn to the only thing on top of the desk... a small manila folder. "Right, old man. Whatever you say."

Mikogami stared at the blond for a second, then his head titled very slightly to the side. "Naruto-kun... I believe I should be the one calling you an 'old man', shouldn't I?"

"Huh? Why?" One of Naruto's eyebrow's arched upward. "Physically I'm not even eighteen yet."

There was silence for several long seconds as the two of them simply stared at each other. Naruto was the first to fidget slightly before closing his eyes and letting out a sigh. "I can tell you want to ask a question. What?"

"You mean to tell me that your seal holds you completely isolated in time?"

"Didn't you know what was happening when you unsealed me the first time?" Naruto asked, obviously incredulous.

"Ahaha... would you be surprised if I said no?"

Naruto could actually see the sheepish look on the other man's face. Unbelievable. Leaning forward in the chair, he couldn't help but rub his temples with his fingers. "Everything with more density than air in the box gets held in a pocket dimension that was thoroughly tested. It's one of the only places that were ever found where time doesn't exist."

Now the other man simply looked flabbergasted. "Time doesn't... exist? How is that possible?"

The blond shrugged. "People smarter than me never figured it out. I still don't know if they have, but I have no true idea how much time has passed while I've been sealed away. All I know are two things: First, I have no idea how to get back to the place where I originally came from. Secondly, I've kept track of the time that has passed since the first time I was sealed. One year and eight months. In a little over two months, I'll have turned eighteen."

"Physically, at least," the blond added as an afterthought. "Mentally is another matter entirely."

Mikogami was staring at Naruto again, apparently at a loss for words. Knowing how talkative the man could be, the blond couldn't help but grin a little. "I know you well enough to know that you have more questions."

The Exorcist's glowing eyes flashed for a moment as he gave a start, leaning forward over his desk. "Yes, many. But I'm afraid I don't have the time now to ask them all and I doubt you have the patience needed to answer them the way I want. Therefore I will just ask two more; simple ones, even."

The man steeled himself, but it wasn't until Naruto nodded that he actually asked.

"Have you ever been back at your full power any of the times you've been released, and how many times have you been released since you were first sealed away?"

Naruto pondered the questions for barely a moment, and chuckled inwardly at the irony of the second question. "I've never made it back to full power in all the times I've been released. From what I was told before the first time I was sealed, I would regain full power within six month's time. I've never had to be released for more than four months. I've always been able to stop whatever the problem is before I ever got to that point. I don't know if the problems have been that easy to solve, or if I'm just that good. Maybe both... or neither, and I just got lucky."

Assuming he could actually see Mikogami's eyes, he figured they would be pretty wide right now. He could only guess at that because the man's eyes simply glowed, though they looked like they were glowing brighter now. Shrugging, he leaned back in the chair again.

"This is the ninth time I've been released from the seal," he stated. "Now that I've answered your questions, why am I really here?"

The man sitting behind his desk appeared to pout for a moment before placing three fingers on top of the folder and pushing it towards the young man without saying a word.

Arching a blond eyebrow, Naruto leaned forward once again to grab it. Carefully opening it, he frowned slightly as he looked at the first item inside. It was a photo of a girl that looked like it had seen some wear. Short dark hair, oval face, slightly slanted eyes, sharp nose. There wasn't much else in the picture for him to get an approximation of her height, but the dead expression on her face intrigued him.

He pushed the photo slightly to the side, to look at the items behind it. "Is she someone I'm supposed to watch for?"

"She's the reason I can't get in touch with Fuuhai. Every time I send someone with a message, she intercepts and kills them. I got that picture three messengers ago, right before he was killed. I sent his successor to talk to her, but I never heard from him again. Of the last messenger I only got his head back. That was two months ago."

Naruto's lips formed a thin line as he looked over the photo again. There was nothing familiar about her, but he tried to commit her face to memory.

"Her name is Akua Shuzen."

Shuzen. Naruto's thought processes halted for a moment. The name itself rang a very faint bell, but it didn't really stand out. He vaguely recalled the name from the last time he was out of the seal, but it couldn't have been anything of great significance, since returning from the seal only felt like a nap. Two hundred years ago to Mikogami was simply three days ago for him.

"I faintly recognize the name, but it doesn't really strike me as important," he finally said.

"I'm not surprised. Her father is Issa Shuzen, the leader of the Shuzen clan which only rose to prominence about, oh... forty years ago, give or take a few years. He was one of the few who volunteered for that final battle with Alucard and didn't die before Akasha sealed him away."

"Huh. Good on him." Naruto's voice didn't relay that he was impressed, because he wasn't. He wanted to delay attacking Alucard for another couple of weeks so that he'd be on-par with Akasha at least, and then they would simply overwhelm the first vampire.

Akasha had other ideas, though. Naruto was teaching her a few seals that he knew, and since the woman was a rather quick study she modified one that would seal the monster away, but needed her life force to do it. She figured her one life was worth it to save the perhaps thousands more that Alucard would absorb before they could stop him with force.

Tenmei and Fuuhai had agreed with her, for their own reasons. Naruto didn't ask. He didn't participate in that final fight either, calling them all foolish.

Akasha's plan did work, at least, and Naruto spent his last day before his own re-sealing staring at the now-dormant Alucard but feeling Akasha's presence radiate from him. The threat was over, so he was re-sealed with a general feeling of antipathy.

Only to wake up after what felt like a short nap to find things had gone a little differently than any of them had planned. Maybe they'd actually listen to him this time.

His eyes were scanning the next few pieces of paper while his thoughts had wandered. The information contained on them proved to be of little interest to him, but he was sure Mikogami had shown them to him for some reason.

"So... this 'Fairy Tale'. Let me guess... an organization determined to conquer the world, or worlds, by harnessing the power of some otherworldly being," he drawled.

"Er... yes. I'm impressed you managed to figure that out from so little information."

Naruto's eyes closed for a moment. "This will be the third time I've had to deal with a group like them. Though honestly..." His eyes opened again and he scanned a few of the lines, "If this is true they are pretty well organized. I'd almost have to put them up there with Akatsuki from back home, though no one has been able to best that group yet."

"Akatsuki?" The curiosity was rampant in The Exorcist's voice. Naruto decided to humor him.

"Group of ninja... boundary beings. The upper echelon of what constitutes being a ninja, too. Looking back, I'm sure at least two of them were descended from demons, one of them maybe even a celestial." He shrugged. "Judging time is really hard, but I'd venture a guess that they existed a couple thousand years ago now. For me, though... it's been about two years."

He heard a whistle, and looked up from the folder to see Mikogami staring at a nearby wall, mumbling to himself. It was hard for Naruto to give an exact figure, because time moved differently in every reality. Like the one he was sealed into where time didn't exist, there were others where time moved in fast forward compared to others. Therefore he almost had to deal with time in averages, not absolutes.

It was a staggering concept, and he tried not to think to much about it.

Everything stopped, however, when he got to the last item in the folder. With a jerking motion, he grabbed the top of this new photo and lifted it, rustling the slick paper and shoving it towards the school headmaster.

"Where... where did you see this? How long ago?"

Mikogami's attention was brought back to Naruto. He glanced at the photo for a moment before a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I thought you might be interested in that. You're the only connection I've ever been able to make to it in my entire life. Of course, it intrigued me, so I thought-"


The slight drop in Naruto's voice meant all the difference. The Exorcist's lips immediately shut, and one of his eyebrows rose a bit. There was an underlying steel behind the blond's tone, and for whatever reason the man decided it was likely in his best interest to treat this as a serious matter.

"I came across it in Makai, roughly fifty years ago... though I know you're aware time moves more slowly in Makai than in almost every other reality – so it's difficult to say exactly when. As the only other time I had seen that was on your clothing or on the walls of your chamber, I became immensely curious."

Mikogami sighed, leaning back in his chair as he pressed his fingertips together in front of him. "Sadly, I haven't had the time to investigate. Now that you're back, though, I had thought you might want to check it out yourself."

Naruto definitely wanted to. Unfortunately, there were special portals needed to get to Makai, and he didn't know where the nearest one was. On top of that, he'd only ever been there once before.

"This school exists in a pocket dimension that is part of a larger reality – one where both humans and monsters live together, though the monsters obviously have to blend in. Tsukune-kun is from there."

Naruto rubbed at his chin. "I've been meaning to ask, why is the school out here in the middle of nowhere, anyway?"

Mikogami chuckled, but it was a darker chuckle than one of his normal ones – causing the blond to focus intently on the man. "Do you know what your 'tomb' does when it seals you?"

Naruto could only shake his head. He had no idea.

"It uses ambient energy in the environment to mask your power as it suppresses you and seals you away. I guess they didn't tell you that it takes a lot of energy to seal away a being of your power."

The blond didn't like where this was going. "I had suspicions, but no one has ever said anything..."

"This place has apparently seen a cycle of life and death several times – so much so that the area has likely changed greatly, otherwise you likely would have noticed. Your tomb has been moved several times from what I've been able to discern, but the last few have kept it here, likely because there was no civilization anywhere nearby."

Mikogami's expression grew rather severe as he leaned forward, placing his arms on the desk in front of him. "When I released your seal the first time, your tomb was surrounded by a lush forest, near a rather large lake. There had obviously been no one around for hundreds of years, yet your tomb was perfectly intact as if it had just been constructed. The seals in the area – I couldn't even hope to decipher them.

"I didn't think much of the entire process after that, as we had Alucard to deal with. When I sealed you away again, I immediately noticed something... the seals had come alive in a manner I had not seen before, and were draining the very life out of the surrounding environment. Panicking, I had to find a way to keep your tomb isolated, as it was draining the environment at an alarming rate, and human establishments had begun to crop up closer than I liked.

"So I pulled your tomb and the surrounding area into a pocket dimension surrounded by a barrier of mine and Fuuhai's devising – and thankfully your tomb did not drain energy outside of it. It's been continuously draining ever since you were sealed, roughly two hundred years ago – and only stopped when you were released again a few days ago."

"So that's why you built the school here?" Naruto asked.

"Partly," Mikogami answered. "As your guardian, I had no choice but to be nearby until your tomb disappeared like it had every other time. However the drain was going so slow and it was taking so long, I had to find another way to hide it."

The man waved one of his hands about. "Hence, this school. I built it on top of your tomb. The barrier that keeps this dimension separate from the one where Tsukune-kun comes from draws power in a similar way as your tomb, but it needs a trickle compared to yours. Not only that, it uses the ambient youki in the air released by monsters, instead of natural energy.

"So long as you don't gain a massive power up and release it all here, the barrier should remain intact."

The smile on Tenmei's face was rather grim compared to his usual, so Naruto just nodded to the man, showing he understood.

He'd have to go over the process with the Chairman in further detail at a later date. For now, however...

The blond moved the photo back in front of him again, staring at it. It was nothing but a picture of a rock, but it was a special rock. One that had been carved to resemble a pillar – but a pillar that was standing in the middle of what looked to be a vast plain. There was one little detail that made a chill run down his spine every time he focused on it, though.

There was a circle carved into the pillar. Inside that circle were lines that were spiraling towards the middle. Just like he had on his current shirt. Just like the ones that adorned the walls of his tomb. The Uzumaki clan symbol.

He had somewhat intentionally avoided visiting the demon world every time he'd been released before. This time, however, it seemed he didn't have a choice. At least, if he wanted to find out what it might mean. It could be nothing at all or something completely unrelated – but he didn't want to take that chance after all this time.

Day 4

It wasn't until several days after officially meeting Tsukune and Moka (or at least her sealed portion) that he was approached by the boy.

"U-Uhm, excuse me, Naruto-san?"

The blond slowly turned his head from looking out the window over to see who had addressed him. Most of the time when anyone talked to him it was to see what sort of hobbies he might have had or if he was interested in joining any clubs. So far he had offered polite disinterest for pretty much all of them, with two exceptions.

There was a karate club, and a crafting club. Both of them piqued his interest for completely different reasons. He was actually thinking about asking if it was possible to join more than one club, just for the sake of curiosity.

That could be followed up on later, however.

"Just call me Naruto." The blond waved his hand about idly as he leaned back in his chair. "Is there something I can do for you, Tsukune?"

The other boy just stared at him expressionless for a moment before nodding briefly. "Y-Yes. Moka-san and I were wondering if you'd like to have lunch with us. I mean, well... Moka-san actually suggested it and I agreed. We saw that you usually sit by yourself in the lunch room, even if you aren't there very long..."

Trailing off into silence, the other teenager let out a shaky laugh as he scratched his cheek, not meeting Naruto's eyes. Noticing this, the blond glanced over towards where Moka sat in the class, only to catch a glimpse of her long pink hair settling around her shoulders as she quickly looked away.

He couldn't help it, he grinned a little.

"Sure, why not? I can't say I have a lot to talk about, but it beats sitting alone. Do I just meet you there or are we call going when the bell rings?"

"Uhm, we can all go when the bell rings, I think." Tsukune stopped and thought for a second. "Moka-san usually drags me out anyway," he admitted with a sigh and a small shrug.

"Okay, if she drags you out, I'll try to follow."

Tsukune smiled slightly, nodded once, then wandered back over towards his seat. Naruto followed the boy as he sat down, watching Moka almost immediately turned her head to look at the other teen. Something was whispered between the two, and the girl nodded a couple times before her eyes flicked back over towards Naruto.

The blond, who had been looking in her general direction ever since Tsukune left, simply raised an eyebrow as they stared at each other. She let out a little squeak and quickly faced forward in her seat once again. A few classmates who were doing self-study looked at her curiously, as did Tsukune – but he was the only one to follow up looking at her by actually turning around to look questioningly at the blond.

Naruto merely offered an 'I dunno' shrug, and went back to staring out the window.

This might be more amusing than he originally thought.

The rest of class proved to be dreary and uneventful, just as he suspected it would be. That wasn't to say he wasn't learning anything, because he was. The blond was simply so used to self-study out of necessity that a group environment bored him. He was too used to learning at his own pace. Not to mention he couldn't cherry-pick what he wanted to learn, either. They went over everything.

Once the bell finally rang, Naruto was quick to put his text and notebooks away, just in case he had to go chasing after Moka and Tsukune because they forgot.

Well, more like Moka would forget. From what little he did know about her in this form, she was very book-smart, but otherwise a bit of a ditz. Of course, vampires were known for their cunning along with their power, so she legitimately could be trying to play everyone for fools.

Her mother was very good at that.

Therefore he was only minimally surprised when the vampire girl offered him a bright smile when he approached her and Tsukune after the bell rang.

"Hello, Naruto-kun! It's nice to meet you!"

There were numerous things he could have done or said in response to her greeting. The fact that she used an affectionate suffix when she didn't really know him at all, coupled with the blinding smile and overly friendly demeanor almost instantly put him on guard. Either she really was this friendly to anyone she hadn't technically met yet, or she was trying to play herself off as innocent.

Or, maybe... just maybe... she was being nice since she was obviously on fairly friendly terms with Tsukune, and Naruto didn't beat the other teen into a pulp, mock, or antagonize him in any way. Besides, they didn't really know who he was yet.

So instead of doing anything... extreme, he simply held out his hand and offered a small smile. "Nice to meet you, well... again, Moka-chan."

There was a slight tensing of her shoulders, most would have missed it. On of the things he was fairly good at because of the way he grew up was reading body cues. He was far from an expert, but there were certain things he knew to watch for – especially around the face, neck, and shoulders. Interestingly, the tensing barely lasted a second, and if anything she seemed even happier than before.

Almost like she was relieved about something...

Her hand slid into his in a gentle grip. Somewhat surprising – he was expecting a firmer one, considering what she was. Maybe she was getting used to being around Tsukune and didn't want to accidentally crush the boy? Oh well, it didn't really matter.

"I didn't get a handshake," he heard Tsukune mumble.

Naruto, still holding Moka's hand, looked at the other teen with a slightly raised eyebrow. "You were also bleeding in several places and looked like a scared rabbit when I approached, and then you turned down my offer of help."

Once again, Tsukune turned away slightly, looking embarrassed. It was true, after all.

Letting go of Moka's hand, he turned to look at her, only to see her staring at him intently. It was slightly disconcerting. At least she was still somewhat smiling.

"Is something wrong?"

Whatever she might have been looking for, his voice snapped her out of it, and she immediately began apologizing, "I-I'm sorry, Naruto-kun! I didn't mean to stare, it's just... well..."

Both Naruto and Tsukune were quiet, waiting for her to continue. It took a moment, but eventually she did.

"I guess I should just say that I'm, well... a little impressed, Naruto-kun. You met my... my other self, and while it feels like I was in a dream I can still remember some of the things that happened. You didn't look scared of me at all. Even now, you know what I am and you're still here."

Naruto blinked once, then twice, before frowning a bit. Moka obviously had some confidence issues. From what, he really had no idea, as her alternate self seemed to simply ooze confidence. For the moment he was in the dark, though he knew if he built a rapport with her – or both of them, rather – he'd find out eventually.

In response to her comment, though, he could only shrug as he looked between his two current classmates. "I learned a long time ago not to judge people right away, because sometimes they act the way they do based on previous experiences. Even then, if they mess up, I'm pretty good about second chances."

He'd reviewed his own history enough times to know that he probably gave some people too many chances... but it made him who he was today, so he couldn't really complain much.

The other two looked at each other before staring at him again, both wide eyed. Almost immediately after, Moka opened her mouth to say something, but was quickly interrupted when her stomach gurgled.

Silence settled over them for a second before Moka held her hands over her stomach and blushed, while Tsukune actually started edging away from them towards the door. Naruto didn't say anything as the boy quickly spit out 'goingtolunchnowokaybye!' and turned, sprinting out of the classroom.

"Mouuuu... I'm thirstyyyy... why did he run?"

"So he wouldn't get bitten?" was Naruto's obvious thought, though he wisely chose not to share it. Being a smart ass wouldn't endear him to Moka or Tsukune. He was hungry too, though, so he didn't waste any time walking towards the door either. His new vampire companion must have caught on, as she quickly fell into step next to him.

Only for her stomach to gurgle again.

"Is it always sudden like that?"

Moka's head jerked to the side, obviously startled by his question. Naruto had to wonder if she'd ever been asked a question like it before.

"N-No, not really. I've not been drinking that much, because I don't want to hurt Tsukune. I appreciate that he lets me do it, but I don't want to hurt him. So I just go hungry until I can get one of the transfusion packs from my dorm. His blood tastes really good, since he's... you know. I have to force myself to stop."

The blond hummed at her response. His experiences with vampires were many, though he didn't get to know any of them as more than acquaintances other than Akasha. Interestingly enough, he had never seen Akasha drink anyone's blood. There was no real point in asking her about it either, because they were in the middle of a fight with Alucard, who simply absorbed and assimilated people, blood and all. It was literally like Orochimaru times ten.

Without much further thought, he rolled up one of the sleeves of his shirt and jacket up to his elbow, then gestured his now exposed arm towards her. Moka stopped and stared at him, shocked.


"What?" He gestured again. "You need to drink, right? I know what it's like to go hungry. While this does seem a little odd to me, I'm curious – does it need to be human blood?"

Moka went wide-eyed for a moment and looked around quickly, but relaxed when she realized no one was within hearing distance. Once she finished looking around, the girl became transfixed on his arm for a few seconds before forcefully tearing her gaze away and looking up at him.

"I appreciate it, Naruto-kun, but I'll manage. I just need to get some tomato juice as a substitute in the cafeteria and I'll be fine until I get back to my dorm."

"Tomato juice? Really?" Naruto stared at her, obviously skeptical. At times like this he almost wished he had talked with Akasha more. Almost.

Moka nodded, slowly moving back over to him before grabbing at his arm, deftly pulling his sleeve back down. "It's close enough in texture to blood that it can fool our bodies, but only for a little while. I don't really understand it, but my mother taught it to me."

The girl went quiet at the mention of her mother, but still held onto the fabric of his sleeve. After a couple more seconds she returned to her senses and offered him a brief smile, before firmly grasping his forearm and tugging him towards the cafeteria.

"Let's go. I'd bet Tsukune is going to be getting worried, if he isn't already."

Naruto remained silent, obediently following along. Part of him wanted to question her more about being a vampire – his thoughts briefly drifted to Akasha once more – but decided against it. Be it fortunate or unfortunate, he'd have at least the next two years to learn.

Day Seven

Naruto grunted as he awoke from his meditation, stretching his arms above his head before falling backwards to lay on the roof. Yesterday had been interesting in a way that was making it hard for him to clear his mind the way he needed.

As he had been coming down the stairs from a class on the second floor, he encountered what appeared to be an argument going in full-swing, only to realize later that it was actually near its end. The blond normally wouldn't have paid it any mind, however this time there were two people he was coming to see as friends that were involved.

There was a girl with shoulder length dark blue hair and an admittedly impressive bust hanging off one of Tsukune's arms, while Moka was standing there looking agitated. He attempted to focus on the conversation right away, but a barely detectable burst of youki from the blue haired girl targeted at Tsukune distracted him, since for appearance's sake it didn't look like it did anything to the boy.

Naruto was about to mark it off as nothing until the effect became quickly apparent when Tsukune turned to face Moka in a jerky, stiff motion, and spoke in a monotone voice, "Oh, really? Aren't you the one sucking my blood, Moka-san?"

Alarm bells instantly went off. Sure, Tsukune had complained about it before, but never really made an attempt at stopping Moka from doing it, therefore it led him to believe that he really didn't mind. Hell, Naruto knew he wouldn't, otherwise he'd never have offered in the first place.

Letting out a sigh, the blond sat up, looked around briefly, then leaped to his feet. His mind began to wander again as he slowly moved towards the stairwell door on his way to exit the school. He could have always jumped over the side, but school had just let out so there were too many people around. Even if his reserves were slowly trickling back, there was no sense in bringing extra attention to himself.

As he traveled down the stairs and moved through the rest of the school building on the way to the exit, his thoughts once again drifted. He wasn't a fan of the blue haired girl at first, she seemed a bit too... needy. The blond made a conscious choice not to get involved unless either Moka or Tsukune asked for help. Back in the day he would have chased down one or both of them when they left the area, but he knew that he shouldn't solve every issue that came their way or they'd never be able to grow on their own.

He told himself he'd step in if it got serious, but as far as he knew it never got to that point. Naruto had been sorely tempted to talk to Moka about what was going on since she appeared to be rather upset, but then that look changed to determination as he observed her... so he let it go.

He went to class, though neither of them ended up showing up for the rest of the day. A quick survey of the school with the few clones he could manage in disguise didn't turn up anything, and when he stopped by Tsukune's room in the dorm he wasn't back yet.

It wasn't until he went to check Tsukune's room again later that evening that he found the boy there and got the story.

Apparently the blue haired girl was a succubus, and her name was Kurumu. She wanted to bewitch all the boys in the school, but felt that Moka was in her way. After a bit of a fight, they managed to talk things out, and were all 'friends' now.

Naruto knew that Tsukune had really summed it up, but the teen looked dead tired so Naruto let him go. He knew that he'd probably get all the details the next day before school. Which he did. The blond was having a hard time figuring out what redeeming qualities the succubus had from the explanation, though he had to admit that he hadn't really talked with her enough yet to form his own opinions of her.

So far she could usually be found getting grabby with Tsukune. It was amusing at first, but it was already getting old. He didn't know whether to be thankful or depressed that she hadn't attempted to bury his face in her chest yet.

Yawning slightly as he finally exited the school building, the blond looked around to see if he recognized anyone standing around outside. Moka was hard to miss, and Kurumu stood out quite a bit too... though he saw neither of them. Too many of the guys looked similar to Tsukune, so he didn't even bother looking for the boy.

Taking off down the path, the blond thought about what he knew so far of the succubus. It wasn't much, honestly. With her around Naruto slipped even more into the background, which he honestly didn't mind at all. Most of his morning was spent watching the three of them interact.

Moka, bless her soul, tried to include Naruto in the goings on... at first. Whenever she made an attempt, however, Kurumu took advantage of the situation and started to do all kinds of things to Tsukune that made the poor kid turn red over and over again. Moka felt it was her duty to stop Kurumu and rescue the other teen – though part of Naruto wondered why she bothered when it became obvious Tsukune's attempt to stop Kurumu were halfhearted at best.

Of course he knew he'd be the same way if Kurumu kept shoving her breasts in his face... but she wasn't. Therefore it was a moot point. Honestly, the girl seemed perfectly fine pretending that he didn't even exist after they were introduced, therefore he was perfectly okay with returning the favor.

"Well it's about time. Running a little late today?"

Naruto stopped walking along the path that ran between the school and the dorms, immediately looking to his right.

"Maybe I am. It's not nice to stalk people, you know."

The gruff voice was easily recognizable. Saizou Komiya. Troublemaker. Already had his ass kicked by Moka, but apparently that wasn't enough.

"Who cares?" The monster inquired to no one as it came lumbering out from behind some foliage... he was slowly transforming into his 'true' form as he approached the path. "I've seen you hanging around that vampire and her other weak little friends the past couple of days. I figure I can make an example of you to get back at that bitch, so be a good monster and stand still so I can smash you into pieces, yeah?"

So it was a revenge attempt, after all. Naruto let out a sigh, calming himself and staring straight at the ogre as he approached. He had to be at least 8 feet tall now and still growing. Muscles were bulging and rippling along Saizou's arms and chest, and his tongue began to lengthen and hang out of his mouth.

Orochimaru flashbacks. Naruto shivered slightly.

The blond closed his eyes for a moment, in an attempt to feel just how strong his opponent might be. He wasn't surprised that he didn't really feel much in the way of any energy from the ogre... it was likely that they bulked up physically for what they lacked in any sort of spiritual energy. In this case, youki.

"Closing your eyes and accepting your fate? I'd almost say you're making this too easy."

Naruto still didn't respond, instead listening to the ogre's heavy footsteps as they crunched dead twigs and other dry foliage underneath. There were a few whispers that he could hear from other students that were traveling the same path and were likely watching the fight that was about to start.

He didn't want to disappoint them, but he knew it wouldn't be much of a fight. It would be more of a small altercation, assuming there were no interruptions.


The blond had to forcefully keep himself from flinching. Great, just what he didn't need. What was this, some sort of manga where he would be beaten into submission by cliché after cliché? Talk about timing...

"Ahahaha!" Saizou began to laugh after hearing the voice. "What a coincidence! Your friends are here to watch you get beaten into a bloody pulp!"

Naruto still didn't say a word, but he could hear several sets of footsteps running on the gravel path to get closer to him, not to mention his and Saizou's names being repeated by Moka, and occasionally a shout from Tsukune.

His senses sharpened immediately as a quick, faint burst of killing intent was pushed against him as the ogre prepared to attack. Opening his eyes again, he looked up to see an easily ten foot tall Saizou towering over him now; one arm was pulled back as the monster prepared to hit him.

To Naruto, who was used to dealing with fighters who could move incredibly fast, it literally felt like the ogre was moving in slow motion. For a brief couple of seconds, he was tempted to yawn.

It was a cakewalk catching the meaty fist in his own hand. Well... more like stop it, as the fist was probably larger than his own head. If the blond had to be honest with himself, he was actually a little disappointed by the impact. Even though he was channeling chakra through most of his body – especially in his limbs - the relatively small amount he used overall was able to insulate him enough to the point where he didn't even feel a sting from the punch.

The blond stared straight into the eyes of Saizou, whose jaw appeared to have become unhinged as his tongue dangled even more loosely. To make it worse, it looked like he was drooling. Other than the ogre looking like a fool, it was dead quiet around them... no more quickly approaching footsteps, and no more whispers.

Great. He didn't want to stand out. All it took was a week, and now people were going to start whispering about him in the hallways. He would have smacked his free hand against his forehead, but at the moment that would have been a little over the top. Why couldn't Saizou have taken his beating from Moka like a good little ogre and left him alone?

Instead of dwelling on the issue, he settled for a little verbal sparring. Might as well get some entertainment out of this.

"Is that it?" Naruto asked, with a completely bored expression.

The ogre's eyes immediately refocused, but he was obviously still shocked. "W-What... how did you stop me?"

Naruto looked down at his hand grabbing the ogre's fist, then looked back up into his opponent's eyes. "I flexed my own muscle a little, obviously."

Saizou began to growl and attempted to pull his fist back, but Naruto applied a little chakra to his own feet and hand, keeping them stuck to the ground and fist, respectively. The ogre made a pretty big show about trying to pull his fist back again, but after several failed attempts decided to punch Naruto with his other hand instead.

Clucking his tongue and shaking his head, Naruto reinforced his legs and left arm. With a slight grunt, he pulled and lifted the ogre off its feet, over his own head, and finished the move by slamming the monster on it's back behind where he was standing.

Standing still for a few seconds, Naruto shifted slightly to his left in order to look over his shoulder. Saizou was laying in a small indent in the ground, grunting and moaning though clearly dazed.

"I think you should go take a nap in the forest, and leave us students in peace."

His brief piece said, Naruto once again tugged on the ogre, and with a little more force than before flung the monster into the tree line, listening to the noises of it crashing through some of the dead looking trees before the noise finally stopped.

Blowing out a deep breath as silence settled around him again, Naruto shook his head and chuckled, then placed both hands in his pockets as he turned to casually stroll back towards the dormitories once again.

Only to stop as two hands grabbed his forearm, stopping him. Looking over his shoulder again, he was mildly surprised to see that Moka was looking at him rather intensely, though there was an underlying trace of worry in her features.

She moved pretty fast. He actually hadn't even heard her move. That was surprising, considering most of her power was sealed. Something to look into later, perhaps.

"Is something wrong, Moka-chan?"

The girl blinked once, then squinted at him. "Are you okay?"

"Hm? Yeah, I'm fine." Naruto shrugged and chuckled again. "Just had to take out the trash, that's all. It was an eyesore that was starting to encroach on the school grounds."

The pink-haired girl quickly glanced towards the forest, her brow furrowing for a moment, then looking back at him again. She opened her mouth to speak once again, at least until they both heard Tsukune let out a yelp.

Apparently Kurumu used Moka's moment of distraction to start molesting the teen again. She was grabbing at him while pressing her body against his, and Naruto distinctly heard her mention something about Tsukune protecting her from the 'big, scary blond'.

Oh, if she only knew.

It was enough to stop Moka from asking or saying whatever she was about to, as she promptly released his arm and started running back towards the other two, flailing her arms about while yelling for Kurumu to stop.

Snorting, Naruto quickly turned on his heel and once again started walking back towards the dorm. Most of the students who had witnessed the events finally stopped outright staring, but most of them were giving him a wide berth to pass.

That was fine with him. He had more pressing things to do, such as trying to meditate some more once he reached his dorm. He didn't feel tired at all after that little skirmish, and even though he used chakra for only a short time he had reinforced his body with more in a short period of time than he had for a long while.

It had only been a week, too – so things were looking up. At his current rate, if he was lucky he'd be able to maintain his sage abilities for a couple minutes without risk of being overpowered in another two weeks.

Once he could maintain Sage Mode... it would be time to pay Issa Shuzen a little visit.

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Some things to keep in mind...

- Naruto thought more about running last chapter because he knows that he's weakened and doesn't know the power levels of the people he's around right now. He was just re-released since fighting Alucard, who for all intents and purposes was pretty high up on the degree of difficulty scale. This little encounter with Saizou was a test for him. He was obviously a bit disappointed.

- He's a little more mentally mature than he is physically mature, due to prodigious use of Shadow Clones. That, and only being allowed 'out' in order to fight can make a person a bit jaded. He needs some time to recover.