"Can I destroy this place?"

"Yes, please do."

"Why is your first reaction to destroy my clan's historical site!? Also, Kazuma! Why are you encouraging that man's behavior!?"

Megumin shouted upon hearing Naruto and Kazuma's reactions.

They were now looking at the entrance to what appeared to be a bunker of sorts.

The reason the two boys had such strong reactions, well…

"It reminds me of that scientist, so every fiber in my being wants to destroy it."

"Yes, please do."

"Again with the talk of destruction! I know this is rich coming from me, but please don't destroy the underground facility! It holds the seal to the weapon that could destroy the world!"

Megumin pleaded with Naruto, and this seemed to get through to the shinobi.

A weapon that could destroy the world…

'Sounds promising, if it's true.'

Kurama commented, earning a nod from its host.

"Hey, Megumin. I'm going to test the power of that weapon."

"No! Gosh… I'm afraid to even go near the mysterious facility in fear of what you two might do."

Megumin muttered, and Naruto looked into the near distance behind the bunker and saw a large structure poking out above the trees.

It was made of concrete, and also gave off a similar vibe to that of the Forbidden Cave.

"Wanna have an Explosion showdown? Let's use that mysterious facility as our target."

"Yes! I mean no! How dare you toy with my heart!"

Now suddenly very tired, Megumin stood with her hands on her knees as she tried to catch her breath. What was with this bunch? Why were her clan's tourist locations drawing out such strong reactions?

She looked back to her fellow girls for support, but Aqua's nose was glued to the relic that Naruto had recently returned to her, and Darkness appeared to be deep in thought with an expression befitting that of "Eroness".

"There's one more place I want to show you guys! I just know you'll like it!"

Megumin decided to cut her losses and quickly led the group away from the bunker.

As the structures became farther and farther away, Kazuma looked back and rubbed his chin.

Come to think of it… Those places could potentially have more treasures. Maybe he would investigate later on his own time.


"T-this is…!?"

"Oh, welcome back Naruto Uzumaki! I see you're still wearing that questionable vest. Have you come to purchase my latest cloak? I just unsealed them from the realm between worlds this morning."

Chekera, the owner of the number one tailor shop in the Crimson Demon Village declared while gesturing towards the line of cloaks Naruto was currently gawking at.

"Ohhh! Something about this cloak is calling out to me on a deeper level… Could this be fate!? Sir, pray tell where you discovered such evil designs!"

Megumin asked while holding one of the cloaks up to her frame to test the size.

Kazuma looked at the cloth, then glanced at Naruto who looked like he'd seen a ghost. What was with that reaction? It was just a cloak.

"Ah, you have an eye for fashion as always, Megumin. This design was passed on to me by a bizarre traveler some time ago. They claimed this cloak was worn by an evil terrorist organization whose goal was to take over the world!"

Chekera explained, causing Megumin's eyes to sparkle and Naruto's face to turn even paler.

"I'll take one!"

"Absolutely not!"

In the end, Megumin put the black cloak with the strange red cloud back on the rack. She would then purchase a few outfits similar to the one she currently wore, while making a silent promise to the shopkeeper to return for the cloak later.

The group then walked around a little more before ultimately going to Megumin's house, which was located in the outskirts of the village. It was a humble wooden structure with a shack in the backyard.

"Welcome to our humble home, Hero Candidate and pupil of the great Ero-senin, Naruto Uzumaki-san! Please, make yourself at home!"

Megumin's parents chimed as the group walked inside.

"O-oh… Thanks."

Naruto was originally going to stay at the village's inn, since he couldn't bring himself to go to the chief's house in fear of troubling Yunyun again. But Megumin had offered him a place to stay at her family's home.

Of course, it was mostly due to the fact that the rest of her party had been looking at her expectantly for whatever reason.

"The way you stood up to the chief to claim his daughter was inspiring!"

Hyoizaburo, Megumin's father, was a stern looking man with worn clothes that were patched in various places.

"Indeed, we heard the battle even all the way over here. You must be as powerful as they say."

Megumin's mother, who had been introduced as Yuiyui, looked just like an adult version of her daughter but with long hair.

As Megumin's parents showered the shinobi with praise, Kazuma watched with a twitching eyebrow. For some reason, it was pissing him off.

But no matter, he was still number one in this household. Especially with-

"Komeko-chan~! Your big bro brought you home some snacks~!"

"Yay! Komeko gets to eat dinner two nights in a row! Big bro is the best!"

Komeko, Megumin's little sister, threw her hands in the air and ran over to Kazuma. After snatching the snacks out of his hands, she gave him a hug before running off towards the dining room which consisted of a small wooden table and some flattened pillows to sit on.

"Komeko, dear. You're going to share with mommy and daddy, right? But if you just want to share with mama, papa will understand."

Yuiyui chimed as she followed after the little girl.

"Don't be silly, dear. Komeko will be sharing with her favorite papa. Isn't that right, Komeko?"

Hyoizaburo said and followed after his wife.

"Mmmm… Neither!"

"So cruel!"

As the parents tried, and failed, to get their daughter to share, Megumin beckoned for the group to follow her.

"Hey… Is Megumin's family doing alright? Her little sister said something kind of alarming just now."

Naruto whispered to Kazuma, but it was Aqua who had answered.

"They're dirt poor. That's why Megumin's mother is trying to sell her daughter to Kazuma, who said he lives in a mansion and has lots of money."

Aqua whispered into Naruto's ear so Megumin couldn't hear, but just loud enough for her party leader to make out.

"I knew Kazuma and Megumin were getting along, but to think he would bribe her parents while they're in a rough spot…"

Naruto looked at Kazuma with pitiful eyes.

"Don't worry, Megumin. If Kazuma tries anything tonight, don't hesitate to get behind me. I'll take the full brunt of that beast's compulsions."

Darkness added, and this was the final straw.

"W-wha-!? I'm not the one who-I didn't even do anything! Also, it's true I'm going to be rich! The Scroll Ball may have failed, but I still have that deal with Vanir!"

Kazuma stammered in his defense, and growled when they all simply sighed and shook their heads.

These people…!

"I brought home some food for dinner, so there's no need to try and bribe Komeko for those snacks."

Megumin said as she placed a small bag on the table, and it was revealed to have a bundled cut of meat and some tied up vegetables.

Her parents looked at the contents of the bag and wiped their eyes.

"To think our Megumin would grow up to be this kind…"

"We're so blessed…"

Clearly flustered, Megumin proceeded to take the ingredients to the kitchen. But not before turning back and looking at Naruto.

"Come help out with dinner. I want to talk about something."

"Sure?"

The shinobi said with a raised eyebrow, but followed after the girl into the small kitchen.

The sounds of conversation broke out in the dining room as everyone talked about their day.

Megumin pulled out the ingredients and placed them on the tiny counter. She then grabbed a couple cutting boards from a nearby cabinet and placed one in front of the shinobi.

What did Megumin want to talk about? Was it about Yunyun? Those two were childhood friends after all… But Naruto wasn't sure if he was prepared to talk about that subject right now.

Naruto took to cutting the vegetables, as they were currently trying to get out of their binds to attack. He then turned to see Megumin preparing the meat and was surprised to see that she really seemed to know what she was doing. Did she have the Cooking skill too?

"Just to give you a heads up, my party is going to invite you to move into the mansion with us."

Megumin suddenly said without looking up from her cutting board.

"Oh, really?"

Naruto blinked in surprise. He had made that bet with Aqua, but didn't think anything was going to come of it since he lost the tournament. Did that mean Kazuma and Darkness also wanted him to move in?

But what did Megumin think? After all, they were rivals.

"W-what do you think?"

Naruto asked as he chopped up the carrots with a precision that his maxed out Cooking skill granted.

"I think you should move in, obviously."

Megumin replied without missing a beat, and Naruto felt his heart leap in excitement.

"Really? Even though we're rivals?"

"Of course. You've done a lot for our party, and you're completely broke right now. It's about time we do something for you in return. You're a dear friend to us, you know? Honestly? I'm surprised it took them this long to invite you. What am I to do with those children…"

Megumin said while shaking her head like a mother talking fondly about her problem children. With the apron and cooking supplies, it was honestly a fitting image.

"I-I see…"

Naruto stuttered, suddenly feeling sheepish at this sudden revelation. He didn't know Megumin and the others thought of him like that, figuring he and Kazuma were friends, but that Megumin and Darkness either saw him as a rival or an acquaintance.

Come to think of it… Darkness called him a friend in the past, didn't she?

Naruto, now feeling kind of dumb, smiled as he moved onto the onions. Damn things were making his eyes water in the worst possible moment.

Seeing the look on the shinobi's face, Megumin grumbled to herself. Seeing that expression reminded her of Yunyun and it kind of pissed her off for some reason.

"But don't think you're going to be living with us rent free, you hear? We each have our signature chores, and we take turns making dinner. Speaking of, you should stop teasing Aqua and give her some of that ramen of yours already. I don't know if that girl is experiencing that 'ramen withdrawal' thing Kazuma talked about, but she's been working hard in her own way."

Megumin dropped the meat into a pot of water and lit a flame underneath it with a match.

"Hehe… Sure thing. In fact, I have all the ingredients I need to make some tonight if you want?"

Naruto offered with a foxy grin, and judging by the growl that roared from within the blushing girl's stomach, he took that as a yes.

Cheeky girl… I figured she had bought these ingredients for a hot pot, but this was probably her plan all along.

Not that he minded.

Pulling out a scroll from his back pocket, Naruto summoned a handful of supplies he'd need to make the noodles. While this kitchen had most of the necessities for making ramen, he would fill in the blanks with what he was missing such as flour, bowls, and utensils.

After all, he always carried enough supplies to make ramen for moments like this.

A ninja must always be prepared.

"Alright, Megumin. Let me show you how to make noodles."

"O-okay!"


"Thank you for this meal!"

Everyone cheered before they dug into their food, which consisted of a heaping bowl of deluxe ramen with a side of rice.

"S-so good…"

Aqua cried literal tears of joy as the familiar flavors she'd been longing for hit her senses.

"I have to hand it to you, Naruto. This food really is amazing. Have you thought about selling it?"

Darkness asked a thoughtful question, which got the attention of Megumin's parents.

"Vanir offered me a contract for one billion Eris to make ramen for a shop he'd open for me, but I declined. I didn't really need the money back then. Besides, my ramen still isn't up to par with Ichiraku."

Naruto replied with a shrug, causing nearly everyone at the table to choke on their food.

"Is big bro Naruto rich too? Also, more please."

Komeko asked while offering her bowl to the blonde, and he chuckled as he took the dish and patted the little girl on the head.

"You sure ate that fast, Komeko-chan. We should have enough for another bowl."

Naruto responded as he disappeared into the kitchen.

'D-damn that fake ninja… I forgot he made a mean bowl of ramen. Now he's got Komeko's favor!'

Kazuma thought as he angrily chomped on his vegetables. Also, who turned down a one-billion Eris contract for such a reason!? Just how good was this Ichiraku ramen to hold it to such a high degree?

Once Naruto returned and placed the newly filled bowl in front of Komeko, the little girl squealed in celebration.

"Yay! Big brother Naruto is the best!"

Komeko shouted and began to tear through her seconds.

"Hehe… Any fan of ramen is a friend of mine. Eat as much as you want!"

Naruto said with a cheeky grin on his face, one that pissed Kazuma off to no end.

"K-Komeko-chan? You should come visit my mansion in Axel. Big brother Kazuma will treat you to all kinds of snacks in town."

Kazuma offered while rubbing his hands together nervously, and the little girl looked at him with sparkling eyes.

"Wow! Big bro Kazuma is the best!"

"!"

When Komeko flipped her script and praised Kazuma again, Naruto frowned.

Was that guy trying to one-up him?

"If you thought this ramen was good, next time I'll make the Naruto Special: Food of the Gods!"

Naruto found himself offering out of spite, earning an excited "yay!" from Komeko and a dirty look from Kazuma.

'So that's how he wants to play…'

Kazuma thought when Naruto smirked at him. This wasn't over… Far from it.

"You are a man of many talents, Naruto. So tell me, what else can the great pupil of Ero-senin do?"

Hyoizaburo asked while skillfully intercepting his wife's chopsticks when she tried to steal his last piece of meat.

"Oh, umm… Adventuring for the guild, training, and perfecting my ramen on the side. Ah, I sometimes help out a friend of mine who owns a magic item shop."

Naruto responded while listing off the things he did on a daily basis.

"Ho…? Magic items, you say?"

Hyoizaburo's eyes flashed a brilliant crimson. He then stood up and flipped his tattered cape.

"Well then, Naruto… Tell your friend to look no further! For I, Hyoizaburo, wielder of Advanced Magic, am the number one magic item producer in the Crimson Magic Clan!"

Nodding his head in satisfaction, the older man looked at Naruto expectantly.

Well this was a pleasant surprise. Why didn't Megumin tell him her father made magic items? Maybe he could set up a deal with Wiz! The Crimson Demons may be quirky, but their skills in the practices they pursued were the real deal.

Naruto looked at Megumin to find the girl averting her gaze. Odd. Maybe she just forgot to mention it and felt bad?

'Ah, I should probably act like the Crimson Demons to keep him in a good mood.'

Naruto thought and stood up as well, facing the man with confidence. It was embarrassing to act like this in front of his friends, but he'd do it for Wiz.

For the red digits!

"I see… Perhaps our fates are intertwined, Megumin's father. Dare I ask, but what sort of diabolical merchandise have you created?"

The shinobi asked while crossing his arms, earning surprised looks from Kazuma's party.

"Diabolical… Fufufu… Fate is certainly smiling upon me this day, having brought a kindred spirit unto my doorstep. Very well! I shall unseal my most recent creations. But beware, mortal. For if you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back…"

With that said, Hyoizaburo scurried off through the back door with a skip to his step.

"Oh my… A powerful adventurer, a great chef, and a smooth talker? No wonder you received the chief's blessing for his daughter."

Yuiyui commented while cupping a hand to her cheek.

"Ah, about that… It was all just a misunderstanding. Yunyun and I aren't romantically involved in the slightest."

Naruto admitted while waving his hand dismissively. Better to squash that line of conversation from the get go.

"I see… Interesting."

The woman smiled and looked at Megumin, causing a shiver to crawl up the younger girl's spine.

But it went unnoticed by the rest as Hyoizaburo came running back inside with a couple devices in his arms.

"Behold! Forbidden items with the power to rival even the evil gods!"

He placed a compass into the shinobi's hand.

"I have dubbed this the Compass of Desires! It will always point the user towards their desired location!"

Looking down at the little magic item, Naruto found that the needle was pointing to the west. He thought about going to Axel, and the needle pointed towards the southeast which was roughly in the direction of home.

"This is amazing! Such an item would sell for sure!"

The shinobi exclaimed with a massive grin on his face, prompting the older man to cackle with glee.

"Of course! But beware… It is easily distracted as mortals are filled with many, many desires."

Hyoizaburo added, and the shinobi raised an eyebrow in confusion.

Many desires, huh…

'Interesting… Why don't you try thinking about fighting the Demon King? Or going back to that blasphemous city to reunite with that priestess you've been secretly fantasizing about.'

'Wha…? I-I-I'm not fantasizing about Cecily! W-w-when did I tell you that!?'

'You just did.'

Suddenly, the compass moved towards the north, then the south, then back to the north.

'Isn't Alcanretia to the south of this village?'

'Sh-shut up, you stupid fox! I'm trying to concentrate!'

But no matter how hard he tried, he now couldn't get the Demon King's castle, nor the memory of Cecily's kiss out of his head.

Compass of Desires? More like Compass of Distractions!

"Here, this is the Book of Exchange! In exchange for trivial knowledge in the back of your mind, the book will grant you amazing information! The knowledge you gain is dependent on your Luck stat."

Hyoizaburo held out an ancient looking book, but Kazuma jumped up and grabbed it before Naruto.

"Let me test it!"

Kazuma shouted and opened the book to a random page, and the papers began to shine as he stared into it.

Finally! A way for him to show off his Luck stat!

The light died down, and revealed on the page was-!

"They're white with floral laces today."

"!"

Kazuma read aloud for the others to hear, and a sharp feminine gasp was released behind him. Turning around, he found Darkness blushing furiously as she shifted on her pillow.

Oh. They're white today.

Nice.

"W-what a powerful item… I think this one… should remain… sealed."

Naruto strained a smile as he grabbed onto the book and pulled it out of Kazuma's hands, but found it surprisingly difficult as the boy resisted at first.

One cold look from Megumin was all it took to cause Kazuma's fighting spirit to wither away.

"This next one, I collabed with the Crimson Demon's number one Divination Shop to produce! It is called The Crystal of Crucial Secrets… It allows one to look into the past to view core memories!"

Hyoizaburo revealed and placed what looked like an oddly shaped crystal ball into the shinobi's hands.

Channeling some mana into it, the crystal came to life as a bright image projected onto the ceiling.

'That's… the Ninja Academy.'

Naruto thought as the image shifted until it showed two kids, himself and Sasuke. The memory must have been right around the time they graduated. How nostalgic…

"That's you as a kid, Naruto? You wore orange even back then, huh…?"

Kazuma chortled, earning a shrug from the shinobi. He wondered who that other boy was though, an old friend of Naruto's?

Just then, someone bumped into Naruto from behind, which caused him to fall face first into the other boy-

Crash!

"Oops. My hand slipped. Sorry, I'll pay for the damages. Please, show me the last item."

Naruto said in a robotic tone, his arm still extended from his full throttle throw.

"What, what? Did something happen?"

Aqua, whose face had been glued to her relic after having finished her meal, looked back and forth between Naruto and the shattered pile of glass on the other side of the room.

"I-I see… No worries. I have many more in my workshop."

Hyoizaburo stuttered with a bead of sweat trailing down his face. He then placed the final magic item into Naruto's extended hand, his smile returning full force.

"This last one can be used to impress your friends and family! They are called the Master Chopsticks! These chopsticks are enchanted to lash out and capture any fly that enters your arm's length. Show off your dexterity with a showcase of skill only masters have obtained!"

Hyoizaburo announced, and the group collectively grimaced at the thought of catching a fly with the chopsticks they were using to eat.

It was then Naruto realized something. Wiz had once said she periodically traveled to the Crimson Demon Village to purchase merchandise.

The Crimson Demon Village was small, and typically only had one of each business, hence why they all called themselves the "number one" in their practice.

Naruto's lips became a fine line. These magic items were exactly like the rubbish Wiz was infamous for purchasing.

"Hey, Megumin. I'm going to visit your father's workshop. I'd like to see more of his merchandise. Some of them are probably noisy, right? So don't mind us."

"Oh! Have my wonderful magic items created a new fan? Very well! I shall unlock the seal to my little shop of horrors and show you some of my other works!"

But before the two could make it to the door, Megumin sprung up and cut them off from the back door.

"T-that's enough for one night, don't you think!? Why don't we talk about something else, yeah?"

–As the night went on, the group became more and more open with Megumin's family. Especially after the wine bottles were opened.

"-and sho I hath too wath my back wish thish guy at home, and I hath to wath my back wish… Hic! Wish that guy at… at the guild!"

Aqua slurred with her words as she rambled on and on about Kazuma and Naruto giving her trouble.

She was talking to a plant though.

"I think you've had enough, Aqua. Let's get you to bed."

Darkness, who was a little red faced herself, took the wine bottle from Aqua and helped her to her feet.

The goddess(lol) complained a bit before passing out in Darkness's arms.

Naruto laughed as he watched the Crusader carry Aqua out of the room.

Thud!

The shinobi blinked and turned back to the table to see Hyoizaburo curled up with Komeko on the floor, releasing soft snores from his mouth.

Poor guy had a little too much, huh?

"Megumin, dear. Could you help me take your sister and father to bed?"

Yuiyui asked, and Megumin did as requested and walked around the table to pick up her little sister. With the flick of her wrist, the older Crimson Demon lifted Hyoizaburo with magic and carried him off into the hallway behind her daughter.

"Megumin's family is nice."

Naruto said to Kazuma, as they were the only two left in the room for now.

"They're something… I'm honestly surprised you didn't blow your top when you found out that… Nevermind."

Kazuma trailed off when Naruto's eyebrow twitched. Too soon, it seemed. Then again, he'd probably have the same reaction too if he'd been helping Wiz as much as Naruto had.

"What are you going to do about Yunyun?"

"I don't know… Apologize and hope she doesn't retire from adventuring?"

Naruto replied, his smile growing tired. After all, he'd been pouring oil into the flames of the misunderstanding the moment he arrived in the village.

"Not gonna lie, I'm jealous of all of the attention you get. Seriously, when's my popular period going to be?"

Kazuma complained while idly swirling the wine in his cup.

"You can have mine. Cecily kissed me right before we left Alcanretia, Yunyun apparently wants me to ask Wiz out on a date, and I still don't even know what to think about Aqua."

Naruto grumbled in response, causing his fellow adventurer to balk. Maybe it was the alcohol talking, but the shinobi felt at ease complaining to his friend.

"Wait, I was honestly just joking. I wrote off your popularity as something similar to my situation with my party, but are you actually popular!? Give me back my sympathy, Naruto the Player!"

Kazuma ranted and held out his hand expectantly. How dare this guy have some serious developments behind his back! Weren't they supposed to be friends? Comrades in arms dealing with problem children day in and day out!

"Yes yes, I understand. I just have a lot on my mind right now. Dating someone sounds fun, sure. But what are you actually supposed to do in a relationship like that?"

Naruto sighed, the memories of his eager self constantly asking Sakura out without a care in the world coming to mind. His poor ignorant younger self.

"I get it. I tend to talk big, but chicken out when things start to get good."

Kazuma agreed with a disgruntled tone, earning a laugh from the ninja.

"You should probably listen to Yunyun, though. It's pretty obvious that you and Wiz have a thing. I mean, come on. You've gone above and beyond for her, which isn't something too surprising for you. But you two act like an old married couple sometimes. Also, Aqua and Cecily are nuts."

Kazuma elaborated with a shrug, earning a surprised look from the blonde.

"I-I see… I guess I'll think about it."

Naruto scratched at his whisker marks before grinning.

"But you wanna talk old married couples? You and Megumin are the pinnacle of an old married couple. Aqua complained that you two were constantly acting like her parents when she used to freeload at my apartment."

"...Megumin and I have been getting a little closer. After all, she's in my strike-zone now."

Kazuma found himself saying, not wanting to let Naruto be the only one to share personal matters.

"I don't know what a 'strike-zone' is, but it sounds like you might actually be serious for once. Just look at that face… You're killing me, Kazuma~!"

Naruto teased, prompting the other boy's ears to turn red.

"Sh-shut up! At least I've never kissed another man! I knew that question during the trial was weird! After seeing that memory from the magic item, I think it's safe to say that the lie detector wasn't broken at all!"

Kazuma barked, causing the other boy to jump to his feet.

"Ah! You just crossed a line! Also, you have kissed another man! Naruko is me! ME, you scumbag! Kazutrash!"

Naruto barked back, and this time Kazuma jumped to his feet.

"You know what? I won't even deny it anymore! Naruko-chan heals my soul once or seven times a week! With all the nonsense I have to deal with on a daily basis, I need that kind of relief!"

"AHHH! Shut up shut up shut up! I don't wanna hear thaaat!"

Thump!

Hearing the loud noise in the hallway, both boys ceased their argument and turned to find Darkness collapsed on the ground while reaching out to them.

"K-Kazuma… N-Naruto… Zzzzzz…"

"Poor thing… Like Megumin, this little Crusader must have had too much fun and fell right asleep."

Yuiyui said as she emerged from the darkness, her crimson eyes glowing ominously in the night as she looked down at Darkness's now unconscious form.

"Umm… Kazuma? What is happening?"

Naruto asked as Megumin's mother idly stepped over Darkness and made her way toward the dining room. His throat was going dry, and all of the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end. His instincts were telling him to run.

He feared this woman.

"J-just follow my lead, alright?"

Kazuma responded, and the shinobi nodded.

"But I'm honestly surprised at how resilient that Crusader is. It took three casts of Sleep magic to put her down."

Yuiyui said as she knelt on one of the pillows on the opposite end of the table.

"Umm… Didn't you just say Darkness fell asleep because of the party?"

Naruto couldn't help but retort, prompting Kazuma to look at him in disbelief.

'You idiot! What did I just say!?'

Luckily, Yuiyui's expression remained unchanged.

"Have a seat, boys."

It seemed Naruto got the message this time around as he and Kazuma obediently sat.

"Things didn't go according to plan last night, Kazuma-san. But perhaps it was fate in the works. Tell me, Naruto-san. What do you think of my daughters?"

Yuiyui asked, causing the shinobi to tilt his head in confusion.

Kazuma groaned internally, knowing full well where this was going. It was obvious Naruto was naturally weak to this sort of thing.

At the same time, Naruto's mind was struggling to understand what Yuiyui was talking about. What did he think of them? Like, as people?

'Wait, hang on… I don't want another misunderstanding here. Seeing as Yunyun's dad basically asked me the same question, is this conversation going down the same route?'

Maybe it was just a parent thing.

Noticing the worried look on Kazuma's face, Naruto grinned at the boy before turning back to Yuiyui.

"Megumin is a dear friend and my rival, and Komeko's adorable."

There, that was a perfect response! He was getting the hang of this!

"I see… So you prefer them younger. We can work with that."

Yuiyui nearly whispered to herself while tapping her chin thoughtfully.

"Eh?"

Naruto squawked, entirely taken aback by the woman's response.

'That was a reasonable response, Naruto… But it doesn't matter if the person you're talking to hears what they want to hear!'

Kazuma thought as he held back tears of sheer pity.

"I'll be honest with you, Naruto-san. I want my daughters to be happy and taken care of. You can understand that, right? That being said, you seem to have a bright future ahead of you. Therefore, as their mother, I am willing to give you my blessing to choose."

Yuiyui explained with a touch of fondness in her tone.

'Hey, isn't this speech rather similar to what she gave me last night? Why is she acting like I'm not here? Isn't this treatment rather cold, madam?'

Kazuma thought and risked raising his hand.

"M-madam, I'm right here you know? What happened to our talk last night?"

"Kazuma, dear. Are you feeling a little too tired to take part in this conversation?"

Yuiyui replied and tilted her head, but the message was clear.

Keep quiet or I put you to sleep.

"N-no, madam…"

Damn that ninja! He wasn't even rich! Why was he getting first dibs!?

No, wait. That wasn't the problem here. How was Naruto going to respond to this? His last response was pretty good, but now he was being pressured.

Megumin's mother was a terrifying opponent.

"W-what are you talking about, ma'am? I don't really get it."

Naruto stuttered and turned to Kazuma with pleading eyes.

'Playing dumb won't work on her! Also, what do you expect me to do in this situation!? Did you not just see me get shut down?'

Kazuma thought and discretely shook his head to say he wouldn't help.

Naruto began to panic. What should he say? The truth didn't help him, and he couldn't lie and accept the woman's proposal…

Kazuma's suggestion suddenly resurfaced, which gave the ninja an idea.

"Oh! Sorry, ma'am. But I've actually got someone in mind, so I can't accept either of your daughters."

There! It was technically true, and now she would have to back down!

Naruto glanced at Kazuma to find the boy nodding his head approvingly.

Good answer.

"That's okay, it's not unheard of for wealthy men to have concubines. Now, please choose. It is getting rather late."

But not good enough it seemed as Yuiyui was not discouraged in the slightest and put even more pressure onto the shinobi.

"U-umm… Well… I'm a traditional man, you see… Once I find someone, I'll stick with 'em, ya know?"

Now feeling rather awkward, Naruto scratched his cheek.

"Hmm… I see. That is rather unfortunate, because I can guarantee that both of my daughters will grow up to be beauties, just like their mother. Fufufu…"

Yuiyui giggled into her hand, and not wanting to risk offending the woman, Naruto and Kazuma chuckled as well.

"I guess I have no choice but to respect your wishes and stand down, Naruto-san. I look forward to hearing about your successful relationship from Megumin next time she writes to us."

"Eh? Oh, uh… Okay…"

Naruto replied while scratching at his whisker marks. Looks like he had no choice but to follow up with his claim… Megumin's mom was terrifying.

"Now then, Kazuma-san. Shall we continue from where we left off yesterday?"

'Yes, madam."

Naruto blinked at Kazuma's sudden willingness as Yuiyui stood up and started walking back towards the hallway.

"...Hey. What are you doing? You're not seriously going to sleep in Megumin's room again, are you?"

"Of course I am. Do you think I have a choice?"

Kazuma instantly replied while pointing at the woman who disappeared into the dark hallway with a shaky finger.

Naruto smiled bitterly. It was true, Kazuma didn't have any line of defense. Besides, it wasn't like he would actually do anything. He said it himself.

"Oh, Kazuma-san? I would like a granddaughter first, if possible."

"I will do my best, madam."

As expected of Scumzuma.


A/N: Interesting developments in this chapter… I shutter at the thought of meeting someone like Megumin's mom.

What did you guys think? I feel quite proud of the jokes this time around.

Spirit out!