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Warnings: Spoilers. Post-war arc. For this chapter only: implied sex.

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If you mess up, 'fess up

Unknown—

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Chapter 9: Meanwhile… Kurama and Shukaku

Early in the morning, on the same day several miles outside the village, Naruto let out a yawn as he slouched against a wooden bench. Getting up at the crack of dawn should have been easy for ninja, but not for Naruto. He was not a morning person. He was currently sitting on the steps of a closed takoyaki stand. They wouldn't be open until 9. Naruto was not a fan of octopus balls, but he really would eat them if he had the chance. Running off without eating or grabbing ration bars on the go was stupid on his part. So not only did he have to sit here and wait for Gaara to arrive on an empty stomach, he had a giant fox pacing like crazy in the back of his mind.

Naruto twitched with annoyance. Ugh…that stupid, psychotic fox was a giant pain in his butt lately. Hey, Kurama! What are you so upset about? The silence on his end was no surprise to Naruto. Ku? Hello! I'm talking to you fuzz butt—

There was only so many hours of Naruto's nagging Kurama could take before he snapped. 'It's something that I need to speak with Shukaku about, not you, Naruto!' He growled. 'That's why I've asked you to meet up with Gaara!'

'And that's what I'm doing you ungrateful jerk!' Naruto retorted. 'You think I would travel out to the middle of the boonies just for myself? I think I have the right to know what the heck is going on!

And so he did but Kurama would not indulge him.

Naruto sighed. For the past three and a half months, Kurama has been nuts and it was driving him nuts. Something had to give eventually. Naruto waited for another hour before he sensed a familiar and very welcomed chakra signature coming his way. "Finally!" he breathes with thanksgiving. A moment later Gaara emerged from the shadows of the forest.

Naruto grinned at him. "Gaara!" He got up giving the redhead a big bro hug. "Thanks for swinging by here on your way back to Suna!"

Gaara looked much the same with his bright scarlet hair, aqua green eyes, and strong broad shoulders, but his handsome features were now perfected with age. If the ladies weren't swooning over him before, they were now.

"It's fine," Gaara told him in that deep rich voice Naruto had come to envy. "I'm glad to be delayed, actually…" He muttered.

"Huh? Why's that?"

"My advisors of the Suna Grand Council… they have been pressing me about marriage and offspring as of late. It's quite annoying" Gaara frowned slightly just thinking about it. "I can barely get a moment's peace. That short trip to Earth Country was a blessing in disguise"

"Ahh…" Naruto trailed awkwardly. Not really knowing what to say to that.

"So…" Gaara continued. "How do we go about doing this?"

With a grin, Naruto held up his fist. "Bump fist with me"

Gaara raised his hand and formed a fist. "Alright"

As soon as their knuckles touched, everything in the outside world faded away. Now they stood in the mindscape with their respective bijuus. Shukaku was just as colossal as Kurama was. "Hey Shukaku, how's it hanging?" Naruto greeted him.

"Ah, it's fine… except for the fact that Gaara keeps beating me at shogi!" He shrieked. He pointed an accusing claw at the Kazekage. "He's got be cheating!"

"Really…" Naruto grinned over at Gaara with amusement. "Is that true, Gaara?"

"I'm not cheating" Gaara denied. "Shukaku just happens to suck at it. Kankuro has beaten him with ease as well" Shukaku sputtered with indignation. "He's glutton for punishment if you ask me-"

"Now ya see here! Just because I lost 50 to none doesn't mean I suck! I went easy on ya! Have yer ever thought of that?!"

"Oh, so you threw yesterday's match as well?" Gaara asked dryly.

"That's right!"

"Hm. That would totally be believable if you didn't remark on how you're going to slaughter my playing field-"

"IT WAS TRASH TALK TO REV YA UP!"

Naruto found himself laughing. It was great to see those two finally getting along… er, somewhat. But Naruto could tell it was all in good sport. Kind of like the bond he had with Kurama—

"Shukaku!" Kurama barked. "For Sage's sake, you do suck at board games! Now… if you're done making small talk, Naruto"

—Or a bond he thought he had with Kurama. Naruto's merriment died instantly. "Right…well, we're all here" Naruto looked up at Kurama expectedly. "Now what?"

"You go away" Kurama bit out mercilessly.

"WHAT?" Naruto demanded angrily. Kurama wouldn't even look at him. Without taking his eyes off the one tailed beast, he grounded out, "I need to talk to Shukaku alone! Have I not told you this at least three times already?"

Naruto continued to yell and protest while Gaara stood there in silent wonderment. He was not really sure what was going on, so he observed them quietly. The giant sand raccoon dog pondered to himself for a moment before turning to his human partner. "Hey Gaara-kun, give us a moment would ya?"

Gaara nodded his head. "Very well" he agreed without hesitation.

Naruto stopped half-way through his rant. His jaw fell wide open in shock. "Gaaaaaara! You can't be serious!"

Kurama felt his ears twitching with annoyance. Of the many things he admired about his host, his stubbornness was not one of them, along with his stupidity. Unfortunately, they seemed to go hand and hand. Gaara laid a firm grip on Naruto's shoulder. "Come on, Naruto Uzumaki. Leave them be. Let's take a short walk and catch up a bit. Your inauguration is this month, correct?"

That struck a tender nerve. Naruto's form visibly slumped. "Yeeeeah well…um… about that-"

"Tsunade withdrew her recommendation. He's not becoming Hokage" Kurama told Gaara outright.

"KURAMA!"

"There, that's something you two can talk about AWAY from here"

"But we can't just—ugh…Fine! I'm going now, Kurama! Are you happy?!"

"VERY" The giant fox deadpanned much to Naruto's chagrin. Naruto grumbled curses under his breath as he stormed away in a huff. Gaara followed after him. Both bijuus remained silent until they could no longer sense either presence of their hosts.

Shukaku was the first to speak up. "Now what is it ol' great and mighty Kurama to summon the lowly one tail in your magnificent presence?" Shukaku asked with heavy sarcasm. He was expecting Kurama to snap or make fun of him. The usual stuff but he didn't. Shukaku could see his brother wrestling with himself internally. Shukaku quieted down and waited. Kurama was snarling and baring his fang in an attempt to settle his nerves. As if he was humbling himself to be talking to Shukaku out of all their siblings.

Once Kurama calmed down he managed to grumble out, "…I've fucked up, Kaku"

Shukaku was concerned now. For Kurama to call him that was an old nickname from their childhood, something was terribly wrong. "How bad are we talkin' here, bro?"

Kurama's nine tails twitched nervously. "Pretty bad I think…" he replied. He laid down on his side with a despairing groan. "…I called you here because I need your advice about our chakras. The effect of our chakras in humans… More specific in human babes"

"Hmmm" Shukaku's rubbed a clawed hand under his rocky, double chin. "It depends on where, who and how. Why you ask? The humans sealed a portion of your chakra into a kid or something?" He questioned.

"Not quite…" Kurama narrowed his eyes before letting out a wistful sigh, "That's actually a preference to my plight… The baby or rather babies are unborn. They are growing with my chakra"

Shukaku grew enraged. "Have the humans done this?" He demanded. "And after all this time I thought we could finally trust them!"

"Calm down brother! That's not what happened!" Kurama corrected the tanuki quickly. "What happened was the result of my curiosity and…" Kurama turned away and let out a forced cough. "…and my lust… I'm going to be a father soon but I don't know how soon…the pregnancy is unnatural as it is. In fact, it should have been impossible!"

There was an long awkward pause.

The wheels in Shukaku's head were turning and then something clicked. "Wait… naw…naw, HELL NAW! You're not that stupid to fuck a poor human girl!" Shukaku noticed the fallen face and the low hanging ears. If he'd ever wanted to see Kurama shamed like a dog, this was it. The mountain of sand that made up Shukaku's body began to quiver before he let loose a boisterous laugh. "BAWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Kurama glared at him. "THIS ISN'T FUNNY!"

'YES IT IS!" Shukaku disagreed. "Ah crap in a sand dune! YAH KNOCKED UP A HUMAN GIRL!" He continued to bellow with laughter. He was laughing so hard that clumps of sand were rolling down his flesh. "THAT'S RICH! WHAT'S WRONG, KURAMA? COULDN'T KEEP YOUR BALLS TO YOURSELF?"

Kurama glowered at him. He was grateful to have fur covering his blush or else Shukaku would tease him about that too. "W…Well… technically my host did-"

"NAW UH! Don't shift the blame ya pervert! When yar the one in control it might as well be ya, ya dirty fox! Tehehehehehe!" Shukaku snickered with his tail lashing out behind him like crazy, sending sand and dust flying everywhere. "Heck, I can write a song 'bout this!" Shukaku reached into his body and pulled an instrument out of his sandy flesh.

"Is…" Kurama gaped. "Is that a… a banjo!? Where the heck did you get a thing like that?!" His face filled with horror as Shukaku began to play while signing, "Her beaaaaauuuuuty in the moonlight overthrew yooooooooou!" Kurama winched. "It oooooonly took one look to seduce yaaaaaaaaaa!"

"WILL YOU STOP IT?"

Shukaku didn't stop. Kurama had to listen to that tone deaf raccoon compose a hellish country song about balls, boobs, moonlight and hanky-panky. Shukaku laughed for about ten minutes afterwards before he managed to calm down. "Okay, seriously now, Kurama… this is the mother of all screw ups! Our Father Hagoromo told us we were to never mate with humans!"

Kurama gnashed his teeth with agitation. "I didn't call you here to recite the rules you giant sand turd!"

"Naw you called me for a hoot. And man is this is a hoot! Hehehe!" Suddenly, Shukaku leaned in. "So Kurama, be honest with me… was it good?"

Kurama raised a furry brow. "…What was?"

"Ya know…bowchickawowow!" Shukaku nudged Kurama in the side playfully. "Was it great making some pie?" He winked his eye several times for emphasize.

"Pie…? What are you…wait…you…Y…YOU DIRTY MINDED FOOL!" Kurama roared. Shukaku could see him blushing through his fur now. "WILL YOU CUT OUT THE JOKES? The woman is growing heavier. It is only a matter of time before Naruto and I are discovered!" Kurama barked urgently.

Shukaku had to take some deep breathes but it sounded more like labored wheezing. "Okay…in all seriousness… then why don't you just kill her? Snap her neck and aaaaallllll yar problems are solved!" He suggested happily.

Kurama went berserk. "I WILL NOT KILL MY MATE AND KITS!" He roared, striking Shukaku hard across the chest. Sand poured like blood from the gaping hole in his chest.

Shukaku regenerated quickly though. "Alright, alight! Just calm down! It was just a suggestion! I didn't mean anything by it—wait… WHOA THERE!" Shukaku paused when he realized something. "Ya just referred to this human as a mate!" He looked amused by the idea. "Yar so far gone that it ain't funny—well, I lied, IT'S FUNNY AS HELL! Mawahahahahaha!"

Kurama paused, eyes growing wide. "…yeah…I did…" he admitted in a defeated tone. "I suppose it's true… I had marked her…"

Shukaku paused. This time he turned deathly serious. He peered darkly at Kurama. "Okay…Please tell me, yar yanking my tail on this one!" he growled. "Cuz ya REALLY can't be that stupid! Yar jokin' with me aren't you?"

Kurama let out a defeated sigh. "No…I'm not joking. I marked her. She's mine"

"W-Well camel piss in a bucket!" Shukaku reared back from Kurama aghast. "Kurama, I'mma gonna do ya a favor by confiscating yar shovel now so you can stop digging a deeper hole for yourself!" At this point Kurama doubted he could dig a deeper hole than the one he was in right now. "Okay, let's start from the beginning!" Shukaku suggested. "How the heck didja get to the point of no return?"

Kurama sighed. "It was over three months ago… Naruto was sent on a mission with a young woman named Hinata Hyuga-"

"A Hyuga?!" Shukaku interrupted. "You mean those pale eyed, one trick ponies? You fancied one of their women? They have those creepy white eyes! I mean they're curvy, reserved and hot but those eyes are too creepy! Did she have her eyes closed when you made pie?"

Kurama glared at him.

"Sorry! Sorry! I'll be quiet!" Shukaku reached into his sandy body and retrieved a large box of Crunch 'n Munch caramel popcorn. "Continue wouldya?" He started eating the snack.

Kurama stared. He wanted to ask where those snack boxes came from but declined. "…normally I would stay out of my hosts' love life but I had enough when Naruto asked out that Sakura girl and she said yes"

"And what's wrong with that?" Shukaku asked uncaringly. "Yar right. It's none of our business who a human fucks with"

"So when Naruto was on that mission, I felt it was the last time I could be by Hinata's side…" Kurama sighed mournfully as he recalled. "First I was sealed inside that idiot Mito Uzumaki, then I got that loud mouth, Kushina Uzumaki. I'm tired of those batshit crazy tsundere women! Seeing Hinata was like a breath of fresh air! I was so sure Naruto would pick her eventually as a mate but alas…"

Shukaku shook his head. "Kurama ya poor sap… yar such a hypocrite!"

"…What?"

"YAR A TSUNDERE!" Shukaku explained.

"WHAT? No I'm not!" Kurama denied.

"Yes ya are! You always act tough and haughty but deeeeeep down yar a big softie!"

"THE HECK I AM!"

"Awwww, lookie hereeee~ Someone's blushin' some more!"

"S-SHUT UP!"

Shukaku waved him off. Getting back to the subject he asked, "So what lead you up to be making some juicy pie on the mission?"

"Ugh…Do you have to keep referring to it as 'pie'?"

"Why not?" Shukaku shrugged. "The woman is like a pie crust that ya filled up with cherries and shoved into the oven. Now that pie is baking! Soon enough the timer will go off and—"

"For the love of Otsutsuki, STOP!"

"Fine, SEX, Kurama. How did ya end up having sex? Ya happy now that I actually used the damn word? SEEEEXXX!"

"The mission was an undercover operation at a Forest Casino resort. It was the night before backup arrived. Seeing her in that dress…" a lusty, far off look came to Kurama's face. "…it drove my senses insane!"

Shukaku sweat dropped at the idea of Kurama acting like a fricken mutt in heat. "…That's all well and good Kurama but where was Naruto in all this?" he pressed. "I mean it's not like he'll just hand his body over for nothing!"

"Naruto…" Kurama lowered his eyes shamefully. "That evening Naruto was practicing on expanding his awareness to the other realms. He believed the drug lord Hirumin was using the…" Kurama trailed going gravely serious. "He thought the human had summoned the Hyosube to do away with some of his victims…"

"Th-they're back?" Shukaku stuttered. "How did this Hirumin guy manage to summon them?!"

"Hirumin didn't. It was a false alarm" Kurama breathed.

Shukaku let out a sigh of relief as well. "Good…"

"But just to make sure, Naruto performed the Jin Jutsu. When one uses it, it will take your awareness or your spirit across the different dimensions. In that mode, you can see but you cannot touch. Meanwhile, your body is rendered empty in a slumber that last for hours…Naruto told me to look after his body for the night and to call him if anything went wrong"

"Let me guess, you never did" Shukaku deadpanned.

"Nope. I was…let's say preoccupied" Kurama answered carefully.

"So, instead of holding down the fort like a good little bijuu you decided to sex up the unsuspecting human you were obsessed with?"

"Eee, yeah…" Kurama scratched the side of his face uneasily. "Th-that pretty much sums it up…"

Kurama drew Hinata close. "Hinata-chan… let's go back to my hotel room" he whispered huskily in her ear. "O-Okay—Eeep!" the girl shrieked as Kurama hoisted her up and carried her bridal style all the way back to Naruto's room. He placed the do not disturb sign on the door and slammed it shut before tossing Hinata on the bed. Hinata was alarmed but her eyes were gleaming not with fear but excitement. Kurama's eager smile grew wider. He slowly removed his kimono as he came to her. Kurama pressed his chapped lips against her soft ones while running a hand under her dress.

'N-Naruto-kun! I…we… shouldn't be…ahhhh!' Hinata moaned as Kurama teased her by skillfully squeezing her breasts. When it was time to lower her gown, Hinata was practically ripping her clothes off. Kurama was overwhelmed with joy to see her cooperating with him so eagerly. He helped her to remove her strapless gown and then quickly toss away his hamaka. Kurama pressed down on Hinata so that their bare chest pressed against the other. That skin to skin contact only ignited their passion to the next level.

Kurama was glad he had been sealed inside two women now. He learned what drove a woman mad with pleasure. The Yondaime Hokage, despite his serious and composed nature, was an especially passionate and creative lover. While Hirashirama and Mito's pie making was more reserved, Minato's and Kushina's style were kinky and erotic. Kurama took some pages from Minato's ministrations. He did his best to please his lover beneath him. With every lusty groan emitted from the heiress, Kurma knew he was succeeding.

But then unexpectedly, Kurama pulled back so abruptly. Hinata groaned, missing his warmth. "Next time, Princess Hinata…" he whispered, but deep down he knew there was no next time.

"N-Naruto-kun…p-p-please!" Hinata begged. She clutched Kurama's arms. She had waited a long time for this moment. Kurama knew the look in her eyes. They were filled with fire, a consuming desire that burned her to the core. This inferno needed to be quenched quite literally and figuratively.

It was a desire reflected in Kurama's own eyes. Kurama ran his fingers through her silk like hair. The same hair that smelled of lilac and glittered like silver tassels in the moonlight. Kurama came back her. Only this time he was missing Naruto's boxers. Hinata stared transfixed for a moment. She had always heard Sai teasing Naruto over having a small penis but what she saw exceeded all expectations.

Without hesitation Kurama pressed forward and Hinata readily welcomed him.

"And then we made pie~" Kurama sighed happily. "I know it's degrading to admit this but making pie was the best thing I've ever experienced in my entire existence! No wonder humans do it all the time like rabbits on viagra!"

Shukaku had to surpass the blush building up on his cheeks. Mating really did sound wonderful! There was that Matsuri chick. He had a thing for her. That short, choppy brown hair balanced out those dark coal eyes. Shukaku's tail almost curled as he thought of those nice long legs she had…seeing her recently in that summer yukata was nice too. She was a cutie, but she wouldn't want him…. Unless he somehow got control of Gaara's body temporarily…No! Bad Shukaku! Bad!

"—ku? Shukaku?"

"A-And then?" Shukaku managed to ask.

"…I crossed the line…"

Shukaku rolled his eyes. "Sorry to tell you this but you've crossed the line with the very first kiss!"

"That's when I marked her… not just a mate but as my life-mate"

"Whoa…" Shukaku's jaw dropped. Sudden inspiration hit him. Just as he was about to retrieve his instrument again, Kurama stopped him.

"Pull out that Sage-forsaken banjo again and I'll stop talking!" Kurama threatened.

Shukaku snatched his claws back immediately. "I'll be good!"

Kurama opened his mouth wide. Naruto's teeth already canine in nature grew steadily longer and sharper. When he was ready he plunged his fangs into Hinata's left collarbone. Hinata cried out, her nails digging into the flesh of his back. It was more from shock than pain and mixed with a tingle of pleasure.

Once he was done, Kurama carefully withdrew her fangs from her collarbone. Hinata grimaced as shearing heat filled the wound. "Shhh… it's healing, do not worry my love" Kurama cooed her. Hinata gazed up at him to see his red eyes staring down lovingly at her with great satisfaction. She paused. Those brilliant sky blue irises were now the color of fresh blood.

'Red…?' Hinata thought hazily. 'Naruto-kun doesn't have…' Feeling drained, Hinata slump down further into the bed. Not wanting crush her with his weight, Kurama lifted himself off of her and laid to the side. He pulled Hinata into his arms with a throaty purr. "I love you; I will adore you now and always. No matter what happens after tonight… remember how I stayed by your side, Hinata-koi"

Hinata smiled as she dozed off with Naruto's tender caressing. She had never been so happy in all her life. All she wanted was to be by Naruto's side and finally her wish had come true. That same night Kurama's wish had come true as well. He wanted just one night by her side. He wished this night could turn into many more nights with Hinata, but this love couldn't last for it was built on a lie.

A cruel lie at that.

So Kurama was content just to stay put for tonight. Soon Naruto will go off with that Haruno girl and Hinata will think she was forgotten or worse, used and casted away. Kurama felt guilty to think he could cause his mate such emotional pain; If only she could know how much tonight meant to him. There would not be a day that goes by without her in his thoughts. Kurama would live for thousands of years and Hinata would live on with him in his heart until the day he stop existing as the nine tailed beast.

"I shifted back to Naruto the following morning. Hinata probably assumes Naruto used her…Not true… not true at all!" Kurama lamented sadly.

"Meanwhile your host doesn't have the slightest idea what you have done while he was knocked out from practicing Jin Jutsu? Tsk! Tsk!" Shukaku shook his head. "Yar a jerk, ya know that?" The tanuki deadpanned with no sympathy. "Ya're a selfish, lecherous jerk!"

Kurama didn't rebuke him. "I know Shukaku…I-I thought that would be the end of it, ya know? But then oh my sage! Hinata came up pupped! Worse, it's more than one!" Kurama ran a clawed hand down his muzzle. "…What should I do?" he asked wearily.

Shukaku cleared his throat before declaring, "Ya got no choice but to come clean bro! Start by telling Naruto. Then confront the woman... er, I mean your mate"

Kurama shook his head. "I can't do that…"

"Kurama!"

"NO" came the stubborn rebuke. Kurama rolled over onto his side, showing his backside to his sibling. Shukaku thought at first that their conversation was over but then Kurama continued, "…What will my kits look like?"

"Huh?"

"How will they function? Will they be perceived as monsters or will they at least appear human…?"

"You're banking on that, ain't ya?" Shukaku asked quietly. "For those kits to pass off as human…" Kurama's ear twitched. Shukaku sighed. "…So how many is she carrying?"

"Two. They are Identical twins...apparently multiple births run in her family" Kurama grumbled.

"Um… congrats?" Shukaku offered.

Kurama groaned as he banged his head to the ground with a thud. After a moment he replied. "…Thanks"

Shukaku smirked, all his fangs gleaming. "I get the vibe that the idea of becoming Papa Fox ain't so bad to ya. Fine… keep yer secrets! But at least help out the girl who is laden with yer legacy. She will need yer support!"

Kurama sat up. "Provisions will be hard to come by… as I don't have currency" He mumbled out loud. "I could hunt and leave a freshly killed deer or rabbit on her doorstep but I doubt she'll be pleased… humans needs stuff bought with money like store food, clothes and shelter…" he waved his paw around. "…you know stuff like that"

"Then get some mullah and support yer kits!" Shukaku replied.

"How?" Kurama demanded. "Especially without Naruto knowing?"

Shukaku scratched under his armpit. Some tumble weeds fell out of it. "Weren't there some treasure vaults around the elemental countries?"

Kurama shook his head. "Most of them were discovered already"

"That one in whirlpool may still be there or how about the one near the earth shrine?"

"Hm. That's good advice but why do you seem so… happy… all of a sudden?"

Shukaku puffed himself up. "I guess I figure if ya're a papa then that makes me an uncle!" He reasoned. "Uncle Shukaku. Ohhh do I like the sound of that! I'll visit at Christmas and birthdays. Give them presents, teach them how to do their first tailed beast bomb—Think about it, it'll be AWESOME!"

Kurama rolled his eyes with amusement. If only things could be that simple.

"Are ya going to tell the other Aunt and Uncles-to-be?"

"What and who are you referring to?"

Shukaku rolled his eyes. "The other bijuus, Our siblings! I'm sure they'll like ta know this"

"Eventually, but not now" Kurama said. "I don't know what's going to happen…so keep your yap shut, Shukaku!"

"Understood, but a little word of advice…" Shukaku cautioned. "I think ya need to keep an eye on yer mate…. She's luging around two chakra infested kits and It's bound to affect her"

Kurama froze. "…In ways like what?"

"Who knows?" Shukaku shook his head. "This is a first for a human woman to carry around children that constantly radiates unfiltered bijuu chakra in her system. Even those other two Uzumaki women who were pregnant had protective seals in place. Their seal acted as a barrier between them, ya and the fetus but this Hinata chick got nothing but pure exposure!"

Kurama felt his heart drop. "…I haven't thought of that…"

"That's why ya need to tell Naruto—" Shukaku tried to suggest again but Kurama cut him off.

"I need to get closer to Hinata right away to see if that is true!"

Shukaku raised a crusty eyebrow. "And how yer'll do that without Naruto finding out?"

"Naruto and I created a jutsu that allows us to be separated beings but still united with our chakras"

"Really?" Shukaku was intrigued.

"Yes" Kurama nodded. "We have performed the jutsu twice thus far"

Shukaku shot him an expectant look. "So when are ya guys gonna teach Gaara-kun and I that technique?"

"Only when it's perfected. I'm still working out the snags. For example it drains Naruto physically when I leave his chakra network" Kurama explained. "It's a temporary effect, since our life forces are connected but I hope to lessen the effects on him"

"Okay, so even if ya can separate from Naruto… Yer still a fox" Shukaku pointed out. "I doubt ya can get too close without her reaching for a broom to smack you away!"

"Hmm…" Kurama crossed his arms and pondered. "…unless I am Human…"

Shukaku wasn't sure if he heard wrong or not. "What was that?"

"Shukaku…. I'm going to take on a human form" Kurama declared.

"Wow…" Shukaku breathed with disbelief. "I never imagined something like that… I mean why would we bijuus want to turn into puny little humans, yah know?"

"It's because I happen to love a human and so I'll become one. It won't be too difficult… you see I have been working on that in secret. Ever since Naruto and I had our first successful separation"

"So is it like a henge?" Shukaku asked.

"No. It's a complete transformation. I literally have to cram my fifty-ton body into a 150-pound man"

"Well ouch" Shukaku ran his claws down his rotund stomach at the mental imagine. "That sounds painful!"

"Yeah. It's uncomfortable but it's possible—" Kurama stopped in mid-sentence when he sensed Naruto's chakra signature closing in. "He's coming back this way!"

Naruto and Gaara reappeared a moment later. "So are you guys done yet?" He asked impatiently.

Kurama withheld a sigh. "We're done. Thanks Naruto and thank you, Gaara"

The redhead nodded.

Shukaku winked. "Later Papa Fox!" he teased before Gaara and him faded away from the mindscape. Kurama cringed. 'Shukaku I swear…!' He thought viciously. He prayed neither host understood the underlying meaning behind Shukaku's words.

"So, what was that all about?" Naruto asked in a tone that implied he only half-expected an answer.

"It…It's none of your business!" Kurama snapped.

A hurt look formed on Naruto's face. "Geeze, I thought we were closer than that, Ku…"

Kurama's ears swayed uneasily as the guilt he had been harboring within was finally getting the best of him. "Listen, it's not like that, Naruto…" He said in a soft apologetic tone. "I just needed some advice from Shukaku. I'm not keeping anything from you on purpose-" As soon as the words left his muzzle, Kurama was shocked at how easily he just lied to his friend again.

Naruto turned to him with a sharp and accusing glare in his blue eyes. Kurama realized that Naruto could probably sense that it was a lie too. "Suuure you aren't" Naruto patronized him. He was about to leave the mindscape when Kurama called out to him. "Wait, Naruto! I need a favor…"

Naruto was not amused. "And what would that be? Oh, and besides the favor I'm doing for you right now!"

Kurama cringed. He knew he had to make this up to Naruto somehow eventually. "I want to separate from you. Can we do the Extended Bond Jutsu?" The fox shrank back a little more when Naruto sullen look turned into a full blown glare. "Ha! I'd figure…" He muttered darkly. "Fine, Kurama! Let's get it over with! At this rate I can really use a break from you as well!"

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Next Chapter: Meanwhile… Kurama's evening