Can you believe I actually updated? Cuz I can't Hahaah #SoManyRagrets. Sorry (again) at the horribly late update. Writers block is a bitch! Ahh, well, I'll try harder next time! I actually don't have anything really important to say, so let's get into the new chapter!

She was so warm…

There was a comforting weight around her middle, her face and bosom pressed on something smooth and warm, and she was very, very content. She felt no desire to open her eyes or even move, and she felt she could happily die like this, safe and loved. She could feel a heartbeat pressed against hers, but she gave it little thought, lost as she was in the bliss only the comfort of another living person could provide. For once she has no worries, no pressing weight on her mind or ache in her chest – only the knowledge that she was safe, that she could sleep forever and no one would complain. But still…

She was curious. Who was this person, holding her so softly? Whose hair tickles the edge of her face, and breath plays with the wisps of her own baby hair? She needs to know. She feels the urge suddenly, and it overwhelms everything else – the comfort is gone, the warmth gives off a feeling of discomfort, and the soft breaths that steadily blow at her are intimidating. Sensing this, the other body shifts, pulling her closer, and she vehemently brings her curled hands up to push herself away, opening her eyes with a strangled yell, because they feel, so, so heavy.

Deep, coal eyes stare back at her, inches away, with no pupil to be seen. She vaguely feels recognition, but is too overwhelmed by fear to even attempt to place this familiar face. His mouth opens, eyes soft, and she wants to run away. Seeing this face brings her despair, an overwhelming feeling of sadness, betrayal, and loneliness. This person hurt her, and she feels numbness crawl up her spine and into her mind, because while this person ripped her to pieces she still loves them. Why does she care for them? Who are they? Why do they look so sad? Why would she forgive them, when she still feels this terrible ache? The emotions are too much, the numbness too cold, and she does the only thing she can think to do.

She screams.

She doesn't awake with a start, sweating and panting, or even screaming like in her dream. When she wakes, it's calmly, her face blank, and eyes blanker. Nightmares are no stranger to Shinobi and they are taught early on how to control their body while sleeping. To scream while on a mission is only recipe for disaster after all, alerting the enemy to your presence and wasting valuable sleep the other Shinobi need; Kakashi-sensei taught them shortly after Sasuke…how to regulate their breathing and keep their body still while unconscious, even while their mind is in panic. As he taught them it was with a grim look on his hidden face, and a sad look in his eye. Whilst a demanding task, and one that took her many months to master, she has learned to appreciate it. No longer would she have to deal with the pounding on her wall from irritable next door neighbors, nor the snooty glare of the landlord as she stares down her incredibly long, pointy nose and threatens to evict her if this ever happens again (it happens again, as it always does, but the lady could do nothing but sneer at her; the apartment she lived in was paid for by the Hokage himself, and no amount of complaining and threatening would overrule that authority).

"…Nee-chan?" comes a soft voice and she is startled out of her thoughts, looking up quickly.

"Oh, hey Al! What's up?" she asks stretching her arms above her head and leaning back on the wall she fell asleep on, sunlight soft on her face. Al was holding a broom in his hand, a worried tone in his voice.

"Are you okay? You seem…out of it" he finally replied slowly, and she had to blink a moment to process his words.

She wasn't used to people being worried about her after a nightmare; they were common back home and were treated with quiet understanding eyes, and soft distracting conversation. They were never mentioned, and she appreciated it on the worst of nights.

"I'm fine!" she said reassuringly, as she often seemed to do these days. And she was – she couldn't even remember what the dream had been about, much less stress over it.

"Okay" he said unconvinced, but went back to sweeping the ground, still shooting her glances.

Sighing happily she stretched out across floor and basked in the sun. She had already finished her share of chores and was now able to do as she pleased, something she took great enjoyment in dangling over Ed's short head. Looking around she noticed he was nowhere to be seen and shrugged. She'd bother him later, Al was right here!

She was about to open her mouth, when a scent suddenly came to her. Tensing she took a few discreet sniffs and narrowed her eyes; the chimera was back. Pushing herself to her feet smoothly she let her senses take over and heighten themselves, trying to pinpoint its location. Her ears could pick up its breathing accompanied by the sound of a swishing tail, her nose finding its scent, and her eyes tracking the surrounding area for signs of movement. Suddenly, a ball of paper flew from one of the surrounding roofs and in front of Al, who stared at it bemusedly, and reached down to pick it up. Before he could, however, Naruto snatched it from the floor, darting out of his reach so he couldn't attempt to take it back, and smoothed the wrinkled mass out. After making sure there were no poisons on the page (if all even could be poisoned), or anything threatening she cleared her throat, shooting Al a hard glance when he took a step toward her. Then she read it aloud:

"We know your secret; meet us at the Devil's Nest if you want to talk"

She stared at the paper for a moment before her eyes rolled up to stare at Al accusingly, who was fidgeting nervously and waving his hands around in a manner so to say 'I don't know what that things talking about, I have no secrets and I am an innocent little boy who could do no wrong, none what's-so-ever'. She merely sighed at him; she was keeping secrets too after all, and rolled up the paper to throw at him with a muttered "catch", and watched him fumble for a moment with it.

He stared at her for few moments, obviously confused at her lack of questioning, and seemed to want to say something, but before he could she was in the house and out of his sight. If she told him she would go with him (or that he couldn't go at all) he would refuse, and they would begin fighting, which would eventually attract Ed's attention, and she knew she couldn't refuse the both of them. In order to avoid any chaos, she would much rather follow him there without his knowledge. She could protect him from afar and she trusted him to be able to take care of himself. The only reason she picked up the paper in the first place was to show that she was aware they were keeping secrets from her (and to protect him, of course), and that she understood. Glancing out the window she watched him walk along the street, and quietly snuck outside to jump onto the rooftops. He didn't notice her.

Following him was an easy task, he was a huge suit of metal armor, and she focused on staying quiet as her feet darted across the tiles, jumping from roof to roof, and weaving between chimneys. It wasn't long before they arrived at the Devil's Nest and she spotted a group waiting for them, each smelling varying degrees of animal. She spots the lizard man and snarls at him; she couldn't find their base, his trail stopping abruptly in the middle of an alley and she was immensely annoyed about it. This could have been avoided.

"There you are, it's about time" said one who smelled suspiciously of dog, and she is hit with the memory of Kiba before she shook it off.

Al holds up the letter and reads it aloud, remaining calm despite the strange situation he was in.

"I'm guessing you're the people who wrote this note?" he asked finally

"That's right!" said dog-man, holding his arms up in a placating gesture, "And" he adds "we know a lot about you"

Al seems sad for a moment before replying "that's good, I don't know a lot about myself"

"Then I'm the guy you want to talk to!" says dog-man, "Why don't you come with us?"

"But my teacher says I shouldn't go with strangers!" Naruto is mentally thrown, and struggles to keep her snorting and laughing down. That's her boy!

The man also seems surprised and, befuddled, asks "uh…how old are you?"

"14" comes Al chipper response and the man sighs, turning around to say,

"Well come on then, I think 14 is plenty old enough to make you own choices, you've gotta start taking some risks and acting like an adult!"

"You think so?" Al asks with sudden realization, "I should think for myself?"

"Yes! And you can start by coming with-"

The man is cut off by Al's leg throwing him across the floor, his metal armor set in a fighting stance.

"I thought it over for myself," he said, "and I've decided to just make you tell me what I want." Naruto grinned from her hiding place, proud in how he handled the situation.

She slipped a kunai in one hand, a set of senbon in the other, and got ready to intervene should anything really happen – legs crouched and feet pointed, her arms tense and eyes focused. She wouldn't let them harm her brother. She watched with immense pride as her brother fought against the dog chimera, and eyed the others who were getting closer.

She watched as the man forced Al's head off and a snake-woman slithered inside. She was immediately off the roof and slashing at the bull-man who was attempting to bring Al down, senbon already stuck deep within his flesh, and a cold look in her eyes.

He let go of her brother immediately and backed up, measuring her, the others staring at her in slight shock. She didn't hesitate, crouching low and pushing herself toward him, kunai slashing upward and leaving a trail of blood behind, and she quickly brought her leg up to smash at his head, throwing him across the floor and into the wall, a loud boom reverberating with his impact. The dog-man seemed to come to his senses, and with a slight growl, readied his Katana to carve into her, swishing down toward her neck with surprising speed – it was a shame she had very extended training with Katana's and she easily avoided it. This man was nothing compared to Sasuke.

She saw her opening and twirled her blood stained kunai around, her arm shooting toward his neck as he tried to twist away, he had the realization that there wasn't enough time in his eyes, and she could feel the flesh beginning to tear open beneath her blade when suddenly a voice rang through the air.

"Stop!" it shouted, and she could tell it was the snake-woman's voice "Or I'll scratch out his blood seal!"

Hissing silently she moved away from dog-man, who clutched at his slightly bleeding throat with a snarl. Throwing her kunai to the floor, she turned to face her brother.

He was completely still, a quiver to his legs, and if he had his head on it would likely look confused and shocked (if that was even possible). But that didn't stop his voice from sounding such.

"Nee-chan?" he asked "W-what are you doing here?!"

"Sorry Al," she said "I couldn't let you get hurt."

He was about to reply when another voice crawled itself up her spine, Kyuubi growling, and she immediately knew, – homunculi.

"What's going on here?"

"Boss!" said dog-man with a grin "We got everything under control…"

Naruto turned to stare at the Homunculi, taking in his odd appearance, and remembering what the lizard chimera said, deduced that this was 'Greed'.

"And who's this?" he asked with a grin, eying her in a suave manner, and she could see Al bristle before they were being led away and into the bar.

After tying her and Al up, they were thrown unceremoniously to the floor (much to the snake-woman's annoyance) and stared down upon. Naruto hissed when Greed tried to cop a feel, glaring at him in a threatening manner. He grinned at her before turning his attention toward her brother, leaning toward him in interest.

"Cool," he said, staring inside Al, "You're actually hollow!" and he forced Al's head back on.

"The names Greed and, I wanna be your friend" he grinned, turning away from them.

"Funny way you have of showing it…" Naruto muttered blandly, glaring at him.

"Then tell me what you people really are" said Al, surprisingly calm, and Naruto glanced at him worriedly.

"You're not Chimera's, it's impossible, no one's made a chimera that can talk" he said

Greed looked at him in surprise before kneeling down to look him in the eyes, "I'm surprised you're having trouble believing me," he said, turning to stare at Naruto "seeing as the woman your with is one…"

Naruto bristled, shooting daggers from her eyes before she spit out "I'm not a chimera!"

"Then do tell why," Greed drawled lazily, turning from them "you reek of fox"

Al was looking back and forth between them, obviously confused.

"I don't know what you're talking about." She said indifferently.

Greed hummed, but said no more on the subject, instead turning his attention back toward Al and introducing his allies. Al listened in shock, as Greed introduced himself as homunculi. Naruto snarled under her breath, trying to undo her bonds without attracting their attention.

"I'm an artificially created human," Greed was saying, showing off his tattoo, "no joke."

"You're lying!" Al shouted, remembering reading about them as a child with his siblings "a Homunculus is just a theory, no one's ever made one!"

"Aw man, looks like I'm gonna have to prove it to you…" he said, just as the bull-man punched him from behind, his head splattering across the floor. Al and Naruto stared in shock, it happened so fast.

"W-why'd you do that?!" Al shouted, and Greed began to rise from the ground, his bloody head reconstructing before their eyes and Naruto felt sick. Is this what it looked like when her body healed itself?

"That's one time I've died" he grinned, taking satisfaction in their shock.

"You get it? Nothing's impossible! I'm surprised you have a hard time believing that considering you're just a soul in a suit of armor."

Al flinched back, head shooting toward Naruto, who was still, and fumbled with words for a moment. She stayed silent, watching closely; Greed watched their interaction with interest.

"How do you know that..?" he asked at last, voice quiet.

"People like to talk in the shadow world" he said with a sadistic grin on his face "and I've got plenty of friends…"

"Well, let's skip the casual chit-chat; I'm more interested in what it's like to have a body that never dies!"

Naruto wasn't surprised that Greed was so interested in Al, he was Greed after all and Al looks like immortality achieved, and continued working at her bonds, slipping a senbon from her sleeve. She half payed attention to the conversation playing out in front of her.

"I'm not the one who did the Transmutation" Al was saying, staring at the floor.

"That's alright! I'll just ask the one who did do the Transmutation."

Naruto began to work harder at her bonds at hearing those words. They already have one of her brothers, she's will not let them have the other. Not on her watch!

Ed was worried. Well, worried wasn't the correct term, he was more concerned than worried. Worried would entail that he cared about what happened to his si- Naruto; he wasn't too concerned about his brother – Al was strong, he could take care of anything that was thrown at him. But not Naruto, she was a mere civilian.

"Now where exactly could a 7ft tall set of armor run off too..?" he muttered to himself, clutching a broom in one hand.

"I'd be happy to tell! So long as you tell me his secret…"

Naruto and Al looked up in surprise when the door suddenly burst open and Ed walked in, throwing the lizard chimera to the floor.



"Never crossed my mind that you could get kidnapped" he said, walking toward them

"Nii-san, this guy is a Homunculus!" Al said in a rush

"Are you serious?!"

"Heeey, way to ruin it!"

"We might be able to get some leads from him on how to get our body's back!"

Ed looked at Greed seriously, his eyes flicking toward Naruto, who was strangely quiet; her eyes hooded by her hair.

Greed continued to show off his tattoo, which Ed recognized immediately.

Naruto quietly watched, Kyuubi whispering in her ear, as they talked about the other homunculi. This was dangerous; her instincts were screaming at her and she knew she had to get her brothers out of here, but somehow her body wouldn't move. This was important, Kyuubi told her, her brothers needed to hear this – to see this. And so did she.

"I can teach you how to fabricate your own homunculus in no time at all" Greed was saying "and in return all I ask is you show me how to transmutate a soul. Classic equivalent exchange!"

"But I really don't understand why you'd want your old body back. Seems to me you have the perfect body already…"

He didn't understand anything. Naruto snarled at him, wanting to rip his head off, but Kyuubi's continued whispering stopped her. She can't ruin this, he said, this is something they had to endure alone. She believed him, because her own mind told her the same.

"No I don't!"

"You're joking right? You don't need to eat, you don't need to sleep! You don't even need to use the bathroom! Sounds great to me…"

Ed glared at Greed in rage, "that's enough" he muttered "shut your damn mouth!"

Greed glanced at Ed in surprise as he roared in anger, "Sounds great to you?! Seems perfect?!" he began shouting "You don't know anything about the hell he's had to go through with that body!"

"And you want to know how to transmute a soul?! You kidnap my brother and you wanna trade secrets with me?! I'm gonna crush you creeps! I'll smash you, end you, and I won't give you slime anything!"

"In other words, there won't be an exchange with you!" He roared, and everyone stared at him in slight shock, Greed clapping his hands and Naruto couldn't help it. She burst into laughter.

Al looked at her, worried, "Nee-chan..?"

She waved him off, clutching her stomach and heaving in laughter.

"I guess were doing this by force again…" said dog-man, sliding his katana from its sheath.

Ed kicked him before he could do more than draw it, his arm transmutating into a blade.


"Get the armored kid out of here, guess we'll dismantle him" said Greed, and Naruto had enough of waiting.

Shiruken were in her hands in an instant, whipping toward the bull-man in an instant, who dodged back from her. Cutting through her brothers bonds with a kunai she grabbed his arm and pulled him to his feet.

"Were going" she said "now"

Ed was looking at her in shock but was quickly distracted by Greed, who made to move towards them. Naruto grit her teeth and pulled Al with her (the snake-woman vehemently hissing at them), she would come back and help Ed when she was sure Al was safe.

Al was their objective, and while it wouldn't hurt to have him fight with them it was too risky. She would need to secure him first.

Glancing back at Ed she quickly slipped through the door, holding tight to Al's hand and running fast from the bull-man who was barreling after them.

Her mind turned back toward the conversation she had with Kyuubi, still in a bit of a shock over the events. Clutching Al's cold hand tighter she hardened her resolve. She would protect them from what was to come.

She sat there in something akin to shock, her mind whirling with the new information. The Truth…

She remembered when Kyuubi had snarled and growled in anger in the presence of those things and looked up at him.

"Why were you so angry when you saw King Bradely?" she asked, confused, and the growling immediately resonated through her soul.

"Those things are abominations!" it yelled, teeth mashing and fangs bared "Disgusting, despicable! They shouldn't exist!"

"What are they?" she asked hesitantly, crouched on the floor.


"But that's impossible!" she shouted immediately, without a thought, remembering her Alchemy books from so long ago, and he snorted at her in cruel amusement

"Look at what you're talking to" it said "A beast made of Chakra, a king of demons" the last bit was added with a note of pride, and she couldn't help but roll her eyes.

"How do I stop them?"

He turned and stared at her seriously, his eyes taking in her small form and weighing her skill.

"As you are now" he said eventually, "you can't. They would destroy you in an instant."

"They are different from what you've faced so far, from Pein, from the Akatsuki, Orochimaru, Sasuke, and you will be killed easily." And she knew he was telling the truth, because one thing a Kitsune would never lie about is its own survivability. They were old, and powerful, and feared death more than anything – she couldn't risk not believing it, not if what it was saying was true.

"There is no helping it" it said after a long moment, shifting to its feet (and its size humbled her for a moment), and staring down at her with the most serious expression she had ever seen on its furry face.

"I will teach you how to wield and control my Chakra"

So, what d'ya think? Hell-uv-a cliff hanger huh? I wonder how Naruto will learn to control Kyuubi's chakra, or even what she'll learn. Muahaha we'll all learn eventually~

Also, important – I hope you all noticed just how protective Naruto is, to the point where it's almost ridiculous. She still sees them as children after all, as her baby brothers. Let's see what that means for their relationship and their future~

Also, Ed is starting to see Naruto as family a little bit more. How exciting~