A Shinobi Among Yokai Chapter 18

I don't own Naruto or Rosario + Vampire.

Sasuke grunted, shifting his body and using his one good arm to bring himself up into a seating position. His clothes had been practically torn to shreds, and he felt like if he tried to stand up then he'd only succeed in falling flat on his face. Nevertheless, he used what was left of his physical strength to get on his knees and bring himself up.

He panted and spat a glob of blood onto the sand below him. In the distance, over the many sand dunes, he could make out a giant, golden fox slam its shoulder into Madara's blue Susanoo, sending it flying back.

"Naruto." He muttered. He swayed on his feet, squinting his eyes to get a better look. He watched as the giant form of the Kyubi opened its mouth, a large, purple sphere beginning to form just outside of it. Sasuke knew the power behind a Bijudama—he'd personally experienced it when he'd fought the Hachibi Jinchuriki—and he really didn't want to go near one that was formed by a Biju even more powerful than that.

He couldn't find it in him to move his legs though, so he just stood there and watched. The Bijudama that Naruto had made soon soared forwards, slamming straight into Madara's Susanoo's chest. For a brief moment, all Sasuke saw was an empty abyss of bleach white, but everything soon came back. Where Madara's Susanoo had been was a giant mushroom cloud, covering everything in that area from even his eyes.

Sasuke stumbled forward. "Hold on, I'm not dead yet."

Naruto glanced out over the sunflower field into the distance. He couldn't actually see anyone, but the powerful yoki was undeniably coming from that direction. He didn't know who it was or what they wanted, but he hoped they'd keep their distance. Even if he was pretty confident that he could deal with whoever it was, he didn't want them to even have a chance at getting near any of them.

Though, given the way his life had gone so far, he'd say whoever it was wouldn't stay static for very much longer.

"Naruto-kun!" Moka's voice reached his and Yukari's ears. They both looked over to see the vampire stroll out of the forest line, followed by Kurumu, Tsukune and the two humans that Naruto had dropped off to his friends. Naruto couldn't really place the two stranger's expressions, it was like a mix between awe and trepidation. Moka smiled in relief. "You two are alright."

Yukari's shoulders slumped and she let out a deep, long breath. Her face relaxed, like she was letting the tenseness all out of her body. "Yeah. We're fine. We didn't get killed by plants."

Naruto snorted. "No, definitely not. That just would have been embarrassing."

Tsukune rolled his eyes, his tone heavy with sarcasm. "Yeah, imagine that; The Great Uzumaki Naruto and Super Powerful Witch Sendo Yukari killed by plants in a field of sunflowers."

Naruto gave him a small grin. "We never went into the sunflower field Tsukune, we were just near it."

Tsukune shrugged. "Don't stress the details too much."

"Hey... um..." Almost simultaneously, everyone turned their attention to the girl that was wearing short shorts that weren't really short shorts. She shuffled on her feet, her face heating up at the sudden attention; she did, however, maintain eye contact. "Who are you people?"

"Just some completely ordinary high school kids." Naruto said off handedly, hoping his voice didn't sound as stiff as it did when he'd heard it.

Luckily, Tsukune kept his mouth shut and the remarks he'd been releasing as of late locked away.

She didn't look like she believed him, and she proved that correct by her next words. "Right. And I'm an all powerful monster." Naruto would bet that if she was that type of person she'd be rolling her eyes. She glanced at Yukari. "Are..." She bit her lip, looking like she was trying to figure out the right way to phrase her words. "Are you the witch that lives around here?"

Much like it had been less than a minute ago, Yukari's expression became tight, like she didn't want any emotion showed on her face. "No, I don't live here." She paused briefly. "All of us just came to this place today as a trip for our club."

"Oh." She didn't sound disappointed, but not enthusiastic either. The woman behind her—her senior—smiled blandly, as if she'd expected her junior to ask questions like that. "I was just wondering because ever since the decision to build a factory here, people have started going missing. And..." She pointed her index finger in the distance, over the sunflowers yet away from where Naruto could still feel the powerful yoki coming from. When he and the others looked in the direction, they could see a medium-sized ranch on top of a hill. "That place is called the Witch's Ranch, so..."

"You just assumed." Yukari stated somewhat bitterly. "You assumed that because that place up there is called the Witch's Ranch that a witch was responsible." There was a small silence before Yukari muttered under her breath so quietly that only Naruto was able to catch it thanks to him standing beside her. "Humans are the same. Always jumping to conclusions."

He would have to rectify that—Yukari's way of thinking when it came to his race. For now though, they needed to get out of the area. He didn't know why the presence of the other being in the area was unsettling him so much, but he knew he wanted everyone as far away from it as they could get.

"Well, anyway..." Moka began in order to get rid of the small, awkward silence that had reigned over them. She dug her hand into the bag that carried her things and pulled out a small book. She flipped through a few pages before turning it around to show everyone. "We should probably leave and go to where our motel is located in town. Nekonome-sensei will probably want to know what happened."

The older of the two women that Yukari had saved leaned forward, getting a good look at the address. She leaned back and smiled slightly. "Then would you all like a ride over there?" She glanced over her shoulder like she was looking at something, though Naruto didn't know what she could find in the forest. "My car isn't that far away."

Moka smiled back at her. "That would really help us out."

"Don't worry about it." The older woman waved her off. "Think of it as us returning the favour of little Yukari-chan saving our lives."

Yukari's face heated up and she sent an indignant look at the other female. "I'm not little!"

Naruto chuckled. "Yes, you are. You'll come to realise it soon enough."

Naruto didn't know how they did it, but they somehow managed to cram all of them into the small, compact car that the older woman owned. Much to Naruto's ire though, he'd been forced to jump over the back seat and was on his knees, resting his arms on the headrests in front of him.

His eye twitched. "Why do I have to sit like this?"

Tsukune was on the far left, Kurumu was on the far right, and Moka and Yukari had bunched up to fit in the middle.

The other male human smirked at him, but didn't offer up any form of conversation, and that annoyed Naruto more than if he had of made a snarky comment.

Moka tilted her head at an angle so she could catch his eyes. Her lips twitched upwards like she was amused. "It's a gentleman thing to do to let women take the more comfortable positions."

Naruto blinked, eyes shooting over to Tsukune. "But he's a guy as well..."

Moka straightened in her spot, facing forwards again. "He counts as one of us for the moment then."

Tsukune choked on his saliva and Naruto smirked.

The ride into the city was pretty much uneventful, save for the glares Tsukune kept sending Naruto whenever the blond asked if he wanted some lingerie for his sudden sex change, or what days his time of the month usually fell on. At the front, the two women shared a glance and stifled their laughter.

They drove down the dirt path, over hills, past trees, plants and all sorts of flora and fauna.

Eventually, the compact car slowed down to a stop into a parking spot at the side of the road. The driver looked over her shoulder and gave them a small smile. "Is this spot alright? The address for the motel is just up the street, but it's usually pretty busy during this time of day."

Moka nodded and unbuckled her seatbelt that had been strung over her torso. "That's okay, we might have a look around before going to the motel anyway."

One by one, they all filed out of the right side of the car so they didn't get in the way or get hit by traffic. Before Naruto was fully out, he saw the woman who had asked them what they were look at him and open her mouth like she was going to ask him a question, but her senior gave her a look that told her to leave it alone.

Naruto repositioned his backpack and cracked his back that had become stiff from being cramped in the back of the small car. The two women who had dropped them off stuck their hands out their respective windows, waved, and drove off.

Now that they were away from the field of sunflowers, Naruto's senses were able to pick up on the few yoki signatures around the city as the other, much more powerful yoki wasn't overwhelming him.

If Naruto was to be honest with himself, Fujimi City wasn't nearly as impressive as Vegas or Tokyo. Sure, the buildings reached heights that could rival Kurama and other Biju, but it just didn't have the same feeling to it. Maybe because the city as a whole wasn't as large as a whole, or it could have been due to the fact that there wasn't as many flashing lights.

Vehicles whizzed by them on the road—motorbikes, mopeds, compact cars, sedans. The side walks on either side of the road were bustling with kids alongside their parents, teens in small groups, and adults walking in pairs.

Beside him, Yukari looked around warily, shuffling on the spot, probably not used to being in the presence or even seeing so many of his species in the one area.

Naruto placed his hand on her pointed hat and ruffled her hair. "There's nothing to worry about Yukari-chan, we're all here." She looked up at him, a frown on her face. Naruto found it pretty weird that she could face a mass of killer plants and be ready to fight, but was so freaked out by numerous amounts of humans who—in Naruto's opinion—were a lot lazier and physically weaker than humans from the Elemental Nations.

She tried to steel her expression, but Naruto could see that his words hadn't really had all that much of an effect on her. "T-thanks."

Naruto just nodded as he and the others continued to take in the sights.

Around them, men of all ages stared at Moka and Kurumu as they walked by, some even going as far as to stop and openly stare. Naruto felt his eye twitch, it was just like what had happened in Vegas when they were going back to the Monte Carlo.

"Hey dude." One of them nudged his friend with his elbow, gesturing to Moka and Kurumu. "Check them out, they're so hot."

"Yeah, I've noticed." The middle-aged man replied. "Just look at them, from their long legs to their wide hi-"

Naruto tried to ignore them, he really did. But the remarks about how good looking Moka and Kurumu were was starting to annoy him, and he didn't know why. He'd dealt with plenty of perverts before—Jiraiya and Kakashi being perfect examples—but the fact that they were eyeing his two friends up made him scowl, especially seeing as his teacher and mentor at least had the decency to stay away from his friends.

Apparently just looking soon became too little for them, and one guy even reached for a feel of Moka's rear. Naruto grabbed his wrist and glared at him. "Don't."

The teen just sneered at him, jerked his wrist free, and began walking off. Naruto glanced over to his side to see Tsukune scowling as he stomped on a man's foot that was rather close to Kurumu while the succubus herself was covering her breasts and giving the man a look that could've melted his face off.

Yukari, though, had created a nice amount of distance between her and Naruto, and it only took him a glance to figure out why. There was five people surrounding her in total, all having the typical geeky look to them—glasses, overweight, sweat pants and a shirt that read Otaku4Life. They were in the young witch's personal space, freaking her out as they spoke and asked her who she was cosplaying as.

"D-don't come near me!" Yukari snapped, but they didn't pay any attention to her demand.

"Great." Naruto grumbled as he walked over, dragging Moka by her wrist. The vampire let out a surprised squeak, but didn't pull her wrist free. Instead of forcefully making the people surrounding Yukari move out of the way like his first instinct was telling him, his cheeky side kicked in and he got an idea. When they were only a few meters away from the group, Naruto let go of Moka's wrist and put his hands behind his head, trying to look as normal as possible. "Hey, Moka-chan, did you hear about that new Build-A-Computer store that just recently opened up? Apparently they have everything for 75% off."

Moka gave him a weird look before glancing between the group and Naruto. Her eyes lit up in the same way they did whenever she figured out a math problem. "Uh-huh, really great service for a new company, isn't it?"

Naruto only knew the basics of what a computer could actually do from the IT classes at Yokai Academy, but what he did know would be enough for the current situation. "Yeah, it really is. I saw a 24" LCD monitor in there for just under 5,000 yen."

Moka covered her mouth in a faux gasp, laying it on heavy. "Wow, that's amazing."

Their purposefully loud conversation had managed to gain the attention of those surrounding Yukari. They turned around and were right in front of Naruto and Moka within seconds, eagerness written over their faces. Naruto bit back a smirk. "Yes?"

"W... where is this new store?"

"Ah." Naruto pointed down the road, the opposite direction to their motel. "A few miles that way, you can't miss it. There's neon signs all over the place."

Much faster then Naruto thought they were capable of, they had raced down to the nearby car park, gotten in their respective vehicles and driven off.

Naruto smirked. "That was fun."

Moka was next to Yukari already, bending down slightly so she could look the witch in the eye with a concerned expression. "Are you alright?"

Yukari breathed in deeply, straightened out and nodded. "Yeah."

Naruto could feel one of the yoki signatures close to their position—either inside the tall building on the opposite side of the road or on top of it. It didn't bother him all that much though, it wasn't anywhere near as strong as the one from before.

Ruby hummed to herself, holding her wand leisurely at her side. She looked over the edge of the skyscraper she was stood on top of at the target she wanted to capture—Yukari, her name was, a young witch. Her target was surrounded by those filthy humans, looking like she'd prefer to be anywhere else.

"I knew it." She mused aloud to herself. "A witch just can't live inside a human city. Our very nature goes against it."

She continued to watch the events unfold; from when the blond human Yukari associated herself with fooled his fellow species into leaving, to them regrouping with the others in their small group until they finally began to leave the area, taking a detour down an alley, probably as a short cut.

"Well..." She murmured to herself as a crow landed on her shoulder, a few more circling just above. She stood straight and hardened her expression. "It's time to set Yukari-chan free."

Their small group had been forced to walk in two lines—one of three people and one of two—so they could fit everyone in the alley that they were taking so they could get to their motel quicker. While Moka, Naruto and Yukari were up the front, Kurumu and Tsukune were at the back.

Kurumu glanced at Tsukune. She didn't know what had started getting in to him, but he seemed more confident lately, more sure of himself. Like when he'd stomped on that guy's foot so hard she heard a rather loud crack after the man had grabbed her in a place she'd prefer to only have Tsukune ever getting close to.

The look Tsukune had given the man was kind of endearing to her, too.

In front of them, Naruto shrugged his backpack to get it in a more comfortable position. Speaking of the blond, Kurumu honestly couldn't figure him out. He was human, and yet he was so strong—strong enough to even put S-class monsters like Kuyo down with only some effort. She knew he used chakra to fight, but the question was how and what chakra was.

In the world they lived in, power was attractive, and Kurumu wouldn't deny to herself that there was something in the back of her mind telling her to all but elope with the one that was obviously stronger than what most would ever reach in a single lifetime.

She'd smashed that small voice at the back of her into multiple pieces plenty of times before, but it always came back, telling her to just grab him and leave. She wouldn't though, she refused to give in and let something tell her to just leave Tsukune behind and take Naruto instead.

Then there was Moka, too, it was pretty obvious—to her at least—that the vampire held some form of affection beyond friends for Naruto. Whether Moka had realised that yet or not though was beyond her. So, no matter how strong or physically appealing Naruto was, Kurumu refused to ever think of him in a romantic way.

Before she could continue her thoughts, a crow swooped down at their group, its beak looking like it was ready to pierce and peck at any exposed flesh. It whizzed straight by her legs, sending up her skirt in the small gust of wind that was created by it.

The bird continued on its path, soaring right above Naruto's shoulder and almost taking his ear off with its beak.

Everyone paused in their tracks and Naruto rubbed at his ear, like he was suddenly grateful it was still attached to his body. "Okay." He said. "Talking in an alley is apparently dangerous."

Yukari snorted. "Everything that happens to you is dangerous."

"Well, I mean, that's not true at all."

That's when the crows came in the masses—twenty, maybe thirty. The flew above them in between the two buildings, their beady black eyes looking at them with malice.

Tsukune's shoulders slumped and he looked annoyed. "Why?"

The crows drive bombed them, coming in waves of ten. They pecked at their skin and tore at their clothes. It didn't hurt as much as Kurumu thought it would, it was more like getting an injection via needle.

Naruto hit one of them with the back of his hand on the beak, sending it veering off course into a trash can. It got back up a second later, looking no worse for wear, grabbed the lid with its talons and flew up into the air.

Tsukune waved his arms around, fending off the birds that were turning his jeans into shorts.

Yukari waved her wand, creating a wall of junk that could be found in the alley—wood pallets, the slightly bent trash can the crow had flew into, and a cardboard box. In any regular situation, Kurumu would have laughed at the ridiculousness of it, but she had her own problems to deal with.

She held her short skirt in place—something she now regretted ever wearing—with one hand and used the other to attempt to bat the crows away that were having a feast on her hair, taking strands with them whenever they flew away.

A whistling sound cut through the air like a Frisbee, something glinted in the sunlight above her, and she only just managed to avoid the object that had been sent sailing at her. From behind, she heard a loud THUNK, a groan and what sounded like someone falling into a pile of trash bags.

She turned around, batting away a crow that dodged and flew down the alley towards the others. There was Tsukune, holding his nose with one hand as he laid down in a bunch of trash bags with the lid of the trash can the crow had taken before laying beside him, slightly dented.

"Ah!" She ran over to him, helping him up with an offered hand. His face was slightly red and he was glaring at the crow that was resting upon a sign on the side of the building, which read: Build-A-Computer - 75% off everything! "You alright?"

"Fine." Tsukune replied, his eyes flickering over to her before he glared at the crow that just stared back at him.

"Gah! That's it! I don't care if they're animals! Screw the RSPCA!" Naruto didn't seem very happy with the ambush. The air around them got harsher and started whipping at their clothes. Up the walls of the buildings, long gashes started to appear at random, going up and up until Kurumu could no longer see any more forming.

The crows fled the area. Some of their feathers were ripped from them and fell to the ground, but unfortunately none of them were killed or maimed—something Kurumu probably would have paid to see right now.

She brought her attention to Naruto. His orange shirt had rips and tears in it all over the place and he scowled so hard that she thought the world would start crumbling. He grabbed the hem of his shirt. "Those pricks."

"Language." Moka reprimanded and Naruto just huffed in annoyance.

Tsukune looked around, still holding his nose but his face now had a frown on it. "Hey... where's Yukari-chan?"

Naruto blinked and looked around before focusing his attention straight above. "Uh... up, I guess." He gave them all a look. "As in on top of the building."

Moka crossed her arms, but unlike the other Moka who would have followed it up by either a cold glare or a flat, blank look, this side of her furrowed her brows, her lips forming a thin line. "How did she get up there so fast?" She tilted her head to the side slightly. "Can she... fly?"

"Nope." Naruto cracked his neck and smirked. "Someone else can though, and I'm going to take my frustration out on them."

Yukari blinked a few times before rubbing her eyes, getting rid of the blurriness. Where was she? What happened? Those questions sprang to her mind, but she pushed them away for now and instead took in her surroundings.

She sat up and looked around. She was on one of the skyscrapers, if the fact that she could see another building almost the same size directly across was anything to go by. To her left was a door surrounded by stone, probably leading to a stairwell. At the very edge of the building, she could see the figure of a woman looking out into the distance, as if she was pondering on whether or not she should jump. The blue sky was above her with white, fluffy clouds at random points.

That's when the woman turned around. In Yukari's opinion, she was beautiful, with her reddish-pink eyes and small, calm smile that her lips were curved into only adding to it. She wore a dark, sleeveless shirt and a wide, frilly skirt that went down to her ankles which reminded Yukari of the ones that someone would wear to a formal ball, only it was worn down—rips and tears in it at seemingly random places.

"You're awake." She said simply, bringing her hands in front of her and clasping them in front of the top of her skirt. Only then did Yukari take notice of the sceptre-like wand and sunflower she was holding and her breath hitched. "So... how was it down there in the humans' city?"

There was bitterness and anger in her tone when she'd mentioned Naruto's species. "...Fine." Yukari didn't know who this woman was and so she kept herself mentally guarded, despite what she thought the young woman was. "Just fine."

"Really?" She didn't sound very convinced. "Now now, I do hope you're not lying to me, young witch."

Yukari swallowed. She glanced around and found her wand by her side. Breathing a sigh of relief, she picked it up and gave the young woman at the edge of the building an inquisitive look. It was obvious—to Yukari at least—that she'd been taken against her will, but if that was the case, why did the woman leave her wand with her? Was she that confident? Or was it that the woman didn't mean any harm?

It was times like these she wished that she had Naruto's ability to sense negative emotions.

"I-I..." Yukari fumbled her words before setting her shoulders straight. "I'm not lying."

The young woman tittered softly. "You're not a very good liar." She said. "I saw you—how uncomfortable and scared you looked when those humans surrounded you." Her smile became somewhat sympathetic. "It's only natural though, humans are despicable creatures. Just look around you." She swung her arm wide, gesturing to the city itself. "This city doesn't have anything natural about it. No cool breezes, no fresh water, no flowers, not even the sweet smell of grass."

Yukari couldn't help but agree with the older woman. She wasn't very fond of the city either, but she wasn't exactly a cheering fan for the sunflower field that she'd been at before with the others. If Naruto hadn't have shown up, then she'd probably be either dead or dying.

"For witches like us, we can only feel resentment for a place like this." Her smile widened slightly. "Am I right?"

Resentment probably wasn't the right word that Yukari would use—more like a natural discomfort. Yukari's mind was elsewhere though, concentrating on the fact that the woman in front of her had admitted to being a witch. "Y-you're like..."

"Ruby Tojo." She introduced herself in a western way, but Yukari couldn't really blame her—Tojo Ruby didn't really roll off the tongue nearly as smoothly. Ruby walked over and offered her a hand up which Yukari gladly took. "And yes, Yukari-chan, I'm a witch too—a distant relative."

For witches, a distant relative was what humans would call a fourth or fifth generation cousin, it usually didn't go much further than that. Unlike most yokai races that were able to breed and expand in mass amounts over time, witches were often hunted and killed off by both humans and monsters, therefore not allowing them not allowing them to branch out anywhere near as much. Because they were despised by almost all beings alive, they were forced to keep on reproducing with each other to keep their race alive.

Yukari knew all this, and that's why—to her—it was understandable that she choked up.

"Why are we doing this?"

Naruto glanced behind him at Tsukune who grunted and kept walking up the seemingly never-ending stairwell. Naruto was up at the front, Moka behind him with Tsukune in third and Kurumu coming in at a close fourth, unfortunately missing out on a medal. He smirked down at the other human. "Just because."

He knew it would annoy Tsukune to no end and that's why he'd said such a lame reason—he enjoyed getting under people's skin, his friends especially, their reactions were so much better.

Tsukune glared at him, his brown eyes sending metaphorical daggers into his skull. "I think I hate you sometimes."

"No, you don't." Naruto retorted. "There's no such hate coming from you Tsukune."

Moka shook her head and chuckled while Kurumu rolled her eyes.

They kept on walking up the spiralling staircase, their shoes clanking against the metal steps. Naruto didn't really see any reason to rush—he couldn't feel any negative emotions above him, and besides, Tsukune needed to get some more stamina as right now an eight-year-old wannabe-shinobi from Konoha would be able to outlast him in practically anything.

He forced back the feeling of something stabbing him in the chest that always rose up whenever he thought of his home. It was long gone now, and he needed to move forward, not backwards—it's what everyone would have wanted.

They finally reached the top. They were stood upon a thin, metal floor, around two meters squared—just enough room for them to fit and some extra to move around in. Naruto grabbed the door handle and bit the inside of his cheek, musing over whether he should just bust in or try and listen to whatever was going on first.

"Humans are powerless, pitiful creatures that can't do anything but destroy." He heard a feminine voice, halting his thoughts and making him lean his ear against the door to hear better. "You should understand that humans and witches can't get along, you looked like you were nearly hyper ventilating when they crowded around you."

"Y-yeah..." Definitely Yukari's voice this time. "But..."

"And those friends of yours." The other, young sounding woman continued. "How long did it take for them to notice what was happening to you? And even when they did notice, they didn't offer any redemption, did they?"

"No, but-"

"Stop it, please, Yukari-chan." The woman's voice was slightly pleading this time. "Just face the fact that you don't belong with them, but with us—the witches."

Naruto could feel Yukari's nervousness, but that was all, so he couldn't tell whether or not she was happy about the other woman's words or not.

"...I don't know, Ruby-san."

There was a small sigh on the other side of the door, probably originating from this Ruby woman. "Those humans are planning to destroy our home, Yukari-chan." Ruby's tone was genuinely sombre, and Naruto could feel the anger coming from her when his race was mentioned. "I've lived there—the Witch's Ranch—ever since I was born, and there used to be other witches that lived there."

Naruto didn't need to hear what had happened to the other witches, it was pretty easy to put two and two together when Ruby had put such an emphasis when she referred to the others in a past tense. He looked at the others around him; they were silent, looking around uneasily as they waited for him to say something.

He raised his hand and gestured for them to wait, giving them at least something to go on.

"We're going to need your help to fight the humans, Yukari-chan." Ruby said. "Will you come and join us at the Witch's Ranch to help?"

Before the situation could escalate any further, Naruto grabbed the door handle again and swung the door open. The two—Yukari and who he assumed was Ruby—were sitting on the edge of the building, their legs hanging over the side. They both turned in his direction, one with surprise and the other with annoyance.

Naruto walked towards them with his hands stuffed in his pockets, idly aware of his friends following him. He'd decided he'd heard enough; from what Ruby had said, the humans of this time were planning on destroying her home, and she—along with whoever else lived at the ranch—didn't seem to be going down without a fight. If he could, he'd stop it before it even started, but he wasn't going to be able to do that while listening in on a conversation behind a door.

"Yukari-chan." He greeted with a casual wave, trying not to show any hostility towards Ruby, who in turn looked like she'd rather maim him then listen to his voice. "So, new friend, huh?"

The younger witch's lips twitched upwards. "I guess so."

"You humans." Ruby spat as she stood up with an interestingly designed stick held in her hand. "How did you find us?"

Oh, there's the negative emotions.

Naruto felt his face go flat and straight, the way it would whenever he was about to give a deadpan response. "This is literally the building right next to the alley that those annoying crows ambushed us."

Ruby scowled at him before looking at Yukari, her expression softening. "Have you decided, Yukari-chan? We really do need your help."

Yukari's eyes flickered between Ruby and their small group, hesitance and uncertainty in her eyes. "I... I don't know."

Ruby closed her eyes and breathed out deeply. "Fine." She brought her stick in front of her, gripping it tightly. "I'll kill these humans then, Yukari-chan, maybe that will help you in your decision." As soon as the words left her mouth, six black, gleaming and shiny wings sprouted from her back. They stretched out to their full span and gave an experimental flap, like they were getting used to existing. "Don't worry, they're just humans, so it won't take long."

"No, wait! Don't!" Yukari's cry was either unheard or went ignored by Ruby as she flew straight towards Naruto.

Naruto probably should have expected her to attack him first seeing as he was in front of everyone else, but he didn't. He'd admit that Ruby was fast when flying and that the ability was actually pretty cool, but it just wasn't enough on it's own to pose much of a threat to him.

A kunai burst into existence in his hand and he frowned at it—he really needed some sort of weapon that had a longer reach, but swords and spears just didn't sit well with him. He'd tried them once, but he found that he was just awful with them; he'd almost taken his own limbs off numerous times just trying to swing or lunge with the damn things.

Ruby wasn't very far away from him now—just under a meter. She wasn't flying head on at Naruto, but the three wings on her right side were straight ahead of him, probably so she could slice through him and move onto the others in one clean swoop. Her wings on both sides shifted, changing into a position where it looked like she was just going to keep flying and cut Naruto down with her wings alone.

Unfortunately for her, Naruto wasn't really in the mood to see how long he'd stay alive after being bisected.

He brought the kunai up and stabbed it into the middle wing, ducking his head under the top wing and kicking the upper-side of the bottom wing down and away from him. In his head, his plan had been flawless, but now... not so much. For instance, his kunai had only left scratches on the wing it had been directed at.

"Oh. They're metal."

The brief amount of surprise that Ruby's face had shown didn't last long, and Naruto was soon forced to jump out of the way and leave his trusty kunai behind when the witch's other three wings lashed out at him. He skidded along the roof top to a stop in front of Tsukune, Moka and Kurumu.

"Are you... uh..." Tsukune began, a strange expression on his face. His hand was in his pocket, fiddling around with something—probably the kunai Naruto had given him a while ago. "...Alright?"

"Yeah. Fine. Just amazing." Naruto replied, wondering why Tsukune sounded so damn awkward. He put it to the back of his mind when Ruby flew up into the air, her wings stretched out to their full wingspan. She gave them a flap, and hundreds of small, metal and sharp feathers were sent at everyone on the roof, save for Yukari.

"Uh, Naruto-kun-" Moka began, but Naruto cut her off.

"Yeah, I got it. I think." Given the speed the gleaming feathers were heading towards them, he wouldn't have enough time to erect a cyclone wide and powerful enough to stop them. Around himself? Probably, but definitely not around everyone.

Later, he'd look back on this moment and think that it was a completely stupid idea compared to other things he could have done, but right now it was genius for a split-second decision.

Given the fact that the metallic feathers didn't have an arc in their straight-forward path, it was much easier to figure out what ones would be heading to impale either him or one of his friends. A kunai burst into his hand, and in one sweep he threw it at the oncoming barrage, his hands smoothly flowing into a set of hand seals that he'd made sure to memorise after Hiruzen himself had taught him them.

His weapon multiplied mid-flight, changing from one to many. The kunai collided with the feathers, sending them off course and impaling the roof instead of anyone living. The way-overused shinobi weapons clanged onto the roof, all but one dispelling in a small plume of smoke. The feathers that the kunai didn't hit landed all around their small group, even getting so close that one of them landed right next to Tsukune's shoe.

"You have no idea how thankful I am for that thing not stabbing me in the foot..."

Naruto rolled his eyes. "Think about it later, Tsukune." He brought his attention back to Ruby; she was still hovering in the air, looking both surprised and annoyed that they were still breathing. Naruto wasn't a fan of abuse against women just to assert dominance, but he figured violence was absolutely A-okay in this type of situation; hell, he'd wager that if he didn't do anything violent towards Ruby, then she'd throw a tantrum.

Girls were just weird like that.

"Stop! STOP IT!" Yukari waved her arms around to get Ruby's attention. Her expression was a mix between desperate and torn, like she was on two opposing sides and couldn't come to a decision on who to cheer for. The hovering witch looked at her, but kept her peripheral vision on Naruto. "You don't need to do this, Ruby-san."

Ruby began to descend. "Yes, I do, Yukari-chan." She landed, her shoes padding softly on the roof. "You don't seem to understand. They're humans, and need to be killed."

Yukari took on a pained expression. "Why?"

Ruby shook her head, her expression one of disbelief. Instead of answering the younger witch though, she turned to face Naruto and co., raising her wand in the air as she did so.

In the past, whenever Yukari had raised her wand, it was usually to drop a tub on his, Gin's or Tsukune's head. Naruto had just laughed those times off, both because it annoyed Yukari to no end and because it wasn't very detrimental to his health—he had a hard head.

Ruby wasn't Yukari though, and he got the feeling he wasn't going to get just a tub slammed onto his or anyone else's head. With that in mind, he shot forward.

Ruby's eyes widened to show her surprise and her wings came in front of her as a form of defence; it didn't cover her entire body, of course, but her vital organs and head were protected.

If Naruto had planned to kill her, he would have been able to cut through Ruby's wings with just a kunai and wind chakra, but that wasn't what he wanted to do; Yukari had apparently befriended her, and he didn't want to be the prick that took that away from her. That didn't mean he wouldn't be violent towards her, though, that was pretty much a given.

Once in range, he bent low and grabbed Ruby's ankle, using it to heft the witch into the air. A surprised yelp came from inside the metal-wing-cocoon, but he paid it no attention and instead swung her around before letting go, sending her tumbling along the roof until she hit the barrier that was there to prevent anyone from falling off with a THUNK-CLANK!

Ruby groaned and the wings opened. Her face was red, her eyes were half-lidded and unfocused (probably from her head bouncing around), and a small trail of blood escaped her mouth. She put her hand on the concrete and tried to get back up, but she only ended up falling back down face-first.

Naruto sighed before turning to face Yukari. "Wanna tell me what happened?"

Her head was thumping, her limbs felt heavy, and she just wanted to stay under the warm blanket. There was quiet murmurs around her, but she tried to ignore them. When someone snorted in amusement, she cracked an eye open in annoyance. Everything in her vision was blurred, but she could still make out the white walls, the mirror at the other side of the room, and the three figures sitting around the bed she was on.

"Look, she's awake." The figure on her right at the head of the bed said in a childish female tone.

Ruby didn't know how the girl knew she was awake, but decided to fully open her eyes anyway, rubbing at them with the back of her hand. When her hands had moved away back to her sides, the first thing she saw was that annoying blond human with his elbow on the middle of the bed, chin resting in his palm, eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face.

"Sleep well?"

She scowled and tried to move her arms, but groaned when a jolt of pain went up them.

"Careful." Yukari advised, moving her arms back to her side for her. "You bounced around against those metal wings of yours harshly and were bruised pretty badly."

Wings? Ah, right, those things. She remembered now—the defence she'd made and vowed to never use again. "Wh-" She coughed. "Why am I here?"

The blond—who she still didn't know the name of—leaned back into his chair before shrugging. "Why not?" He asked rhetorically, which only irritated her more. "Yukari-chan seems to like you as a friend—even if it's only a little—so yeah." Ruby wanted to say how lame that explanation was, but decided to just glare at him instead. He rolled his eyes. "What's your problem against my race, anyway?"

"The witche-"

"No." He interrupted. "I said your problem, not the witches'."

Ruby remembered that day like it had just happened, but she forced the memory and the painful feeling that came with it away and glared at the blond, there was absolutely no way that she was saying a thing to any of them.

The brown-haired teen next to him sighed and stood from his own chair. "I'll go get Kurumu-chan and Moka-san, I guess."

The blond grunted. "You do that, Messenger Boy."

Chapter 18 done!