A/N: SURPRISE.

A little bird told me you guys wanted this updated, so here it is!

Thanks as well to those who aided me in writing this! It feels good to have a team!

In other news, I've got a solid update system in place now as well as people to help me enforce it. I know, GASP, regular updates?! On stories that I haven't touched for years?! Have I gone mad?! No, no I haven't. If anything I've come to my senses! So I thought I'd return us to an old, but simple favorite! Also as a disclaimer any and all humor and language contained within is solely for the story and does not reflect the views of me, the author or any who write with me.

Additionall, I take a very cheeky stab at the fourth wall here, so I apologize to those of you who don't like that sort of thing.

Yes, THIS chapter may be short, but something is better than nothing, no?

This is only the beginning!

Ciao~!

"How-

"There. Done."

"That was quick!"

"What, did you expect me to sing, or something? This ain't a Disney movie."

~?

Hearts on Fire (Interlude)

"Kuro~neko~chan~!"

Ruri Gokou squeaked in surprise as a pair of warm hands descended from the muggy morning to seize her by the shoulders, clamping firmly down on her school uniform with impossible strength. Her movement arrested by the sudden attack, she stopped short, half-inclined to give the unlucky male a swift kick between the legs. A mistake. Seizing this opportunity fresh by the horns as it were, her assailant gave a mighty cackle, twisted his wrists, and launched her into a merry twirl, sending Ruri-and her world-spinning like a top.

"W-W-Wha?!"

A distinctly unladylike shriek fled from her lips as she tumbled back, only instead of landing hard on her rear as she'd expected, the Black Cat found herself secured by a pair of strong arms. They hoisted her up as though she weighed no more than a doll and her sputtering intensified tenfold as her vision began to clear. She knew that silhouette. With that, everything swam back into focus all at once. Only then did she she find herself face to face with whiskered cheeks and a familiar pair of burning blue eyes the color of endless skies.

Uzumaki Naruto beamed down at her, cheery as ever.

"Hey, kitten." he grinned. "Miss me?"

Ruri's face began to burn as she realized just where those hands were holding her.

"Put me down, you!"

With a small laugh the blond did as he was bade, seemingly uncaring-or perhaps deliberately ignorant-of her ruffled feathers as she smoothed out her skirt. Perhaps he was. Perhaps he wasn't. She no longer knew. As ever he was wearing that costume of his; his headband, and those infernal red-black robes over an orange jumpsuit. Somehow he'd procured a large scroll and slung it over his back since she'd seen him last. He also looked inordinately pleased with himself for some reason she couldn't fathom. No, wait. She could. He was enjoying this!

Bastard!

"So whatcha up to?"

"Nothing." she growled, shooting him a dark look as she crossed into the street. "I'm headed to school...and considering cursing you."

"Never was particularly fond of the whole learning thing," Naruto admitted, crossing both arms behind his head with a shrug. "Although," Here those azure orbs did gleam with mischief, "Hey, there's an idea! I'll walk you to yours! Doesn't that sound fun?"

It most certainly did not!

Kuroneko moaned inwardly.

"If you say any more, I'll die!"

"Ha! Did I startle you, say that of all a sudden?"

"A thousand curses fall upon you...

They walked in silence after that, Ruri leading half a pace ahead of the belligerent blond. She risked a cross glance over her shoulder at him and the whiskered cosplayer-was he really?-flashed her a cheeky wave. Damnit, he was going to follow her after all. Stubborn fox. Even after this she still didn't know what to make of him! Honestly it was enough to drive her batty...

"Car."

But perhaps that was made him so charming...

"CAR!"

Naruto's renewed shout ripped Ruri out of her daydream all at once; then all sense found itself eclipsed by the blaring of a horn.

In the next instant, Naruto's arm found her waist and his body hunched over hers. The blond didn't so much as bat an eyelash as the vehicle hurtled towards him at breakneck speed. Towards them. He didn't even look at the car. He merely smiled, raised his right arm, and opened the fingers of his hand. Clenched them into a claw. Kuroneko shouted at him to move-this was just too much! He was going to get them killed! Both of them! She cringed as he doubled over her-thrusting that arm between them and the impending crash. Ruri braced herself for the pain. For the end to come. Because the end was indeed nigh; there was no way they were going to survive, no possible way Naruto could-

Wait, was he glowing all of a sudden?

Kaaaaaaaaa-runch!

There came an earsplitting crunch as metal met flesh, and the former yielded. The hood crumpled around Naruto's arm with a shriek and then the engine alongside, its severed halves spiraling past the two of them, its driver gawping behind the wheel as his half of the vehicle ground to an angry halt in the street. Kuroneko shared in his amazement; she didn't know what it was that had caused his vehicle to careen out of control, but at this moment it didn't matter. What did matter was that Naruto had stopped him.

Cold.

"Ouch." a lone grunt stole its way out of her savior. "Made my arm go numb, there."

Kuroneko gawped at the destruction. At Naruto, drawing back his arm from the ruin that had once been the vehicle's engine. Standing, circling around the smoldering wreck, he wrenched open the driver's door, physically ripping it from its hinges with a horrid squeal of yielding metal. Ducking back into the rapidly burning wreck once more, he ripped off the seatbelt, plucked the driver from harm and neatly deposited him onto the sidewalk. Judging by the pungent odor of sake that followed him, the man had been well into his cups.

Kuroneko noticed none of it, for her attention lay decidedly elsewhere.

Because Naruto was glowing.

Indeed, his entire being appeared to be sheathed in golden light, his eyes an ungodly red. Half his sleeve was gone, and the flesh of his hand was terribly, horribly scarred but even as she looked on the flesh was knitting itself shut, the wound stitching itself back together as though it had never been. With that, the last thread of sense Kuroneko had so stubbornly clung to finally snapped and she plunged into dark uncertainty. By rights, a red stain should have been all that was left of them both. Yet here they were. Unharmed. This..it was not possible. It wasn't, couldn't be real, yet her every sense screamed otherwise.

"H-How did you...?"

Naruto's expression radiated smugness as he flexed his newly repaired muscle.

"Now do you believe me?" he frowned, eyeing her scabbed knee. "Here, let me take a look at that."

"How-

A green glow stemmed from his hands, and the pain vanished.

Instantly.

"There. Done."

"That was quick!"

Red eyes twinkled merrily.

"What, did you expect me to sing or something? This ain't a Disney movie. Now...

"Now?" Kuroneko gulped.

Those slitted eyes narrowed further.

"Let's have a little chat about what you just saw."

A/N: Well, there you go. Just a little something, hope you enjoyed it and such. I've become a bit more reliable where my stories are concerned, and plan on updating Malestrom of the Force soon, along side a few of my Bleach and One Piece fics. Also, I'll be putting some of them up for adoption in case anyone is interested! But putting that aside, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this little ficlet, dear reader. On a side note, I seriously suggest you at least watch the anime or read the light novel...else you'll be hopelessly lost.

Just in case any of you were wondering, this story is entirely AU, that is to say, takes place in an alternate universe, but after the final episode of the anime season. Kuroneko's starting to fall for Naruto, but at the same time, she's still feeling jilted over Kyousuke. And who can blame her? If you've seen the anime, then you've SEEN how she bawled her eyes out. Poor thing!

Also, she's all but convinced Naruto isn't the Naruto. Ah, but he is, abilities and all! And we see just how he came to exist in the "real" world. Boy is she in for a surprise...Let the hilarity ensue and look forward to the next chapter! I sincerely hope you enjoyed it!

So...in the immortal words of Atlas...

...Review...Would You Kindly? And of course, enjoy this special preview!

(Preview)

"Oh, that's cute."

"What the hell, man?!"

"You're not in hell yet. Gimme a minute."


"Wanna be a ninja? It'll only cost you your soul."

Kuroneko felt her jaw come unhinged.

"You must be joking."

"About the soul part? Yeah, I am. Question still stands though."


"I knew it would end this way...

"Over my dead body!"

A hand shot out.

R&R! =D