Fear the Walking Maelstrom

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Fear The Walking Dead. Otherwise I would be very rich. But I'm not. Soooooooo…

Author's Note: Hello and welcome, fellow FTWD and Naruto fans! A couple things: This IS my first time trying to write a Fanfic. I've always had a big imagination when it comes to creating an entirely different story in my head between characters I've come to care for from different shows and types of entertainment. It just so happens that my favorite anime is the same one I grew up with, which would be our knucklehead, Naruto! Add on to that the fact that I'm rather very into zombies and the idea of a zom-pocalypse in general… So yeah, The Walking Dead and all that. With that in mind… Take it easy on me, y'all! Anyways, onwards with the story!

"Dialogue" - Normal speaking

Dialogue - Thoughts

"Dialogue" - Kurama

"Dialogue" - Over the phone/line

CHAPTER 1: PILOT

-x-

[Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, California]

"Los Angeles," a blonde, spiky-haired teen-clad in a pair of black denim jeans, a leather jacket, with a white shirt under, and a pair of Chuck Taylors-mumbled to himself as he walked along the shore near Santa Monica pier, one of California's most famous tourist hotspots, "The 'City of Angels' they call it… It doesn't look or even FEEL angelic though…"

"Damn brat…" a voice rang inside the teenager's head as he aimlessly walked about, all the while taking in the quietness of the cool, morning beachline, "Shut your whining already… I know exactly where this mumbling is going…"

"Look, you damn, furried bastard," the teenager spoke just a bit louder as he shoved his hands into his jean-pockets, "All I'm saying is, it's taking a bit TOO long for that bastard Sasuke to open a portal and bring us back, you know? I'm getting a bit stir-crazy here, dammit…"

"I don't know what else to tell you, Naruto," the voice spoke once more in an attempt to appease the blonde's evident frustration, "We've gone through this a bajillion times already… After Sasuke pushed you through that weird-looking portal-in an attempt to get you out of Madara's way, no less-the both of us fell into unconsciousness. And, just like the other times we talked about this, I also said that he might have used a different type of portal, maybe-"

"-Maybe one that transcends, not just time and space, but also reality, I know." Naruto cut the voice's rant off, feeling a little guilty for his rather childish actions, "I'm sorry, Kurama… I just don't know what to do. I don't know if our friends are still alive, or if they won, or if we're in the future, or an entirely different plane of reality. This is ANNOYING!"

A couple of morning joggers and surfers, getting ready to do their thing in the immediate vicinity, turned their attention towards the blonde, who finally noticed what his little outburst garnered, "Erm, sorry! Don't mind me!"

As the blonde sheepishly smiled and scratched his head at the onlookers who just decided to go back to what they were doing, Kurama spoke up once more.

"I don't know what to do either, Naruto," the nine-tailed fox said in a somber tone, "And you're right. Maybe they're alive. Maybe they're dead. Maybe they won, but maybe they lost. The point is, we don't know. We also don't know if we could go back or not. I don't have that kind of power and you don't either. But don't forget that you're not alone, brat. I'm here with you. We're in this together."

Naruto stopped walking at once as Kurama's words rang in his head and could not help but smile and glance past the endless body of water and at the horizon.

"You're right…" Naruto whispered softly as he realized just how concerned his companion was to ACTUALLY sound like it too, "My bad."

"You owe me for making me sound like a pussy too, dammit. I have a reputation to maintain," the nine-tailed fox then ruined the moment, though Naruto couldn't help the feeling that Kurama had an amused grin on his face, "And shouldn't you be heading home? Your adoptive mom will get worried again."

"I told her to call me if she needed anything. Don't worry," the blonde jinchuriki rebutted, though he decided to walk back towards the parking lot anyway, "I'll be home in time for din-"

Just then, Naruto's phone rang. Taking it out of his pocket, the blonde answered it.

"Naruto, I swear, why is it so hard to contact you?" a female voice exasperatedly spoke from the other end of the line.

"Sorry, Madison!" Once again feeling rather sheepish, Naruto could only apologize and smile at the worried tone of his adoptive mother, "Probably the bad connection at the pier and all?"

"You're all the way there!? You have class in a couple hours! You're not gonna skip again, are you!?" the voice belonging to Madison shouted rather loudly, making Naruto take the phone a few inches away from his ear, "You know what, forget it. I don't wanna get into this again. Nick just turned up in the hospital this morning. Can you please meet us there?"

Noticing the clear anxiety and concern in her voice, Naruto knew that now wasn't the time for jokes, and spoke clearly. "I'm on my way. Who else is going with you?"

"Alicia and Travis, though we're all still at the house," Madison answered abruptly, inwardly glad of how seriously Naruto took her words, "We'll meet you there soon, alright?"

"Yeah. Be safe, Mom." the blonde shinobi-in-disguise then hung up the phone and made a beeline towards the parking lot.

After a few seconds of confusion in where he parked the damn thing, Naruto set his eyes on a matte-black two-wheeler: A Yamaha YZF-R15.

"You better hurry, brat," Kurama's amused voice boomed in the shinobi's head once more, while Naruto himself took out his key and inserted it into the ignition switch and started the engine. Revving the engine a bit, the blonde then put his matte-black helmet on,"The next episode of the Clark Family Drama's showing in a few minutes."

"Ain't that the truth?" Naruto whispered softly as he then began to head to his destination with a bit of haste, all the while his thoughts wandered to that fateful day he met his adoptive mother.

-x-

[FLASHBACK]

"So you really don't remember where you came from?" a dark-skinned, bald-headed, middle-aged man asked as he, along with two of his colleagues, sat in front of a sixteen-year-old, sunkissed, blue-eyed, spiky-haired blonde boy, with whisker-like birthmarks on his cheeks.

"I've been telling you the same thing about an hour ago, old man," the teenager replied, evidently annoyed with the questioning, as he propped up his elbow on the table and rested his cheek on the palm of his hand, "I've been homeless for the last three weeks. I don't remember where in the hell I am or 'which country I'm in.' My parents died when I was young and I've been fending for myself ever since."

While not exactly the whole truth, Naruto wasn't lying either. He doesn't know where he is because after three weeks of wandering about, the blonde shinobi-wearing his only clothing option, the orange-and-black tracksuit-learned that he isn't even remotely close to his country, much less his universe. Everything in this country relied on technology. What really made it click in the shinobi's head was the fact that, upon entering Sage Mode, Naruto couldn't sense a soul that could wield chakra, or had more than what was needed to be alive. For all intents and purposes, every single human being in this whole 'city'-a word he learned as he started to ask questions to strangers-were all civilians.

"So how did you get inside school grounds?" One of the dark-skinned man's colleagues spoke up, a middle-aged, curly-haired man, as he tried to stir the topic back on track, feeling rather put-off with how the young boy in front of them so casually spoke about his deceased parents.

"It wasn't that hard, really," the teen explained casually, as if it was no big deal he got caught, "There's a breach between those metal seats you have in the field and the metal fence behind it. I saw other kids walking around the grounds and I wanted to see what this academy did. That and I smelled the food and was hungry."

"...So let me get this straight," the female colleague spoke up this time, earning everyone's attention, "You broke into school grounds, through a breach in the fence, pretended to be a student, so you could get food?"

"Well, when you put it that way, it sounds bad," Naruto mumbled weakly as he rubbed the back of his neck and looked down on the table guiltily, "Look, I really didn't mean any harm. All I wanted was to grab some bread or something, see how this academy works, and just sneak out. I'm not bad, I swear… I was just literally about to die of hunger…"

"By the looks of it, you don't even seem capable of walking a few feet, let alone 'sneak' around," the dark-skinned man rebuked, slightly concerned for the boy's well-being, "You look like you haven't eaten in a week, Mr. Uzumaki. I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to call the cops. Maybe they could bring you in for more infor-"

"Artie, hold on," the female colleague cut in on the dark-skinned man, as she studied the blonde for a second more, "I don't think that's necessary. The kid's got no parents, he's obviously lost, and throwing him into the system might be more detrimental to him…"

"Then what do you suggest we do…?" the dark-skinned man, now identified as Artie, asked skeptically.

"Madison…" the curly-haired man, who has stayed quiet this whole time, called out to the blonde, female colleague in slight suspicion.

"Travis, relax," the female colleague, Madison, gently replied as she reached out to the curly-haired man, Travis, beside her and patted his arm, "I promise, I know what I'm doing. Now, would it be okay if Mr. Uzumaki and I take a walk? I believe he will be more compliant and forthcoming if he's comfortable."

"Or he could just bolt at the first chance he gets," Artie argued, in the hopes of making Madison see some reason. Then, as if to hide what he was about to say next, the dark-skinned man leaned in closer to Madison and whispered, "Look, I get that you sense a bit of your troubled son in him. Maybe you can help him too. I get it. But you can't save every child."

"I know that. All I'm saying is, this kid has a better chance of having a better life outside of that crappy system than in it," Madison reasoned out rather passionately, all the while, Naruto was just sitting there, slightly confused and inwardly amused at the sudden turn of events. The blonde woman then continued, "Just let me handle it, yeah? Now, if you'll both excuse me and Mr. Uzumaki."

With that, Madison stood up and patted Naruto's shoulder-who took the hint and stood up as well-and headed for the door. The blonde Jinchuriki followed suit, but not before turning around and bowing a little in a show of gratitude to the two remaining men in the room, slightly confused and worried for their friend and colleague.

As Naruto caught up and fell into step right beside the casually walking Madison, a sort of comfortable silence falls around them, with Madison leading Naruto out of the school and into the open courtyard in the middle of the campus, and Naruto just taking in the sights with his hands in his faded orange-and-black tracksuit.

After a couple minutes of just walking about amiably, Madison finally broke the silence. "You know, you're a pretty weird kid."

"How so?" Naruto asked casually, obviously not bothered by the woman's rather honest comment.

"Well, for starters, you're the first kid I've heard-seen-who would actually sneak INTO school to learn about it," the blonde woman explained as she stopped walking and took a seat on one of the several benches around the courtyard, "Lots of kids your age would sneak OUT of school, not in."

"What can I say?" the whiskered blonde replied as he copied her actions and sat on the other end of the bench, "I'm not like most kids my age. At least not here…"

If Madison heard the last part of what Naruto said, she didn't ask, nor did she show it.

"I can see that… How 'bout a deal?" the blonde woman asked, though she continued to look forward, "You seem like an honest, young man. To be frank, you seem really lost. As if you don't really know what you're doing. At least, that's what I noticed."

The shinobi stayed silent.

"I lost my husband a few years ago," Madison started softly, still looking out into the open area, with Naruto giving his full attention to the woman next to him, "At first, I was in denial. I didn't want to believe that he was gone. Then, after a couple days, it began to sink in. Don't get me wrong, I accepted it after those first few weeks. But I remember, after that, I didn't really know what to do anymore. I felt so lost. For a time, I didn't even have the strength to face my son and daughter.

"But because of them, as well as the people around me, I was able to find a new goal. A new reason to move forward and keep going: My family. My son and daughter, would they grow up to be upstanding citizens, if I'm not there to guide them? They already lost a father, would they lose a mother too? That's what I was thinking."

"...So, what are you tryin' to say here?" Naruto asked, slightly confused of Madison's sudden revelation of her past, "Don't get me wrong, it sucks that your husband passed. I know that feeling. No amount of explanations and justifications could take that type of pain away and I'm also glad to hear that you were able to move on from that pain and keep living. But what's all this got to do with me?"

"What I'm trying to say is, I see myself in you, Mr. Uzumaki," the blonde woman explained her side, now turning her gaze onto the blonde teen, "If you can promise me and you are willing to follow each and every rule I set for you, I would be willing to give you a roof over your head."

"So… you're gonna adopt me?" the whiskered blonde asked, slightly confused, yet inwardly hopeful.

"Something like that. Or we could call it a contract," Madison explained, a bit amused at the blonde teen's reaction, "You live with me and my children, I take care of your food, clothes, and anything else you need. In return, you help out around the house, you get a job and help support the family, and you keep an eye on my kids when I'm not around."

"...How do you know if I'm gonna even honor these conditions? For all you know, I could be a danger to you and your family." Naruto asked, a bit surprised at the unexpected turn of events, yet not really against the notion.

"Trust me, kid, I'm a good judge of character. I could tell if I could trust you or not from a mile away," the blonde woman explained as she smiled at the teen, "Besides, if you do turn out to be a danger, then I won't think twice in putting you in a world of pain."

"This lady's got guts…" Kurama's voice rang in the blonde Jinchuriki's head as he considered Madison's words, "I like her already."

"So?" Madison spoke once more, a confident smirk adorning her face, "Do we have a deal? Or would you rather go have the police pick you up?"

"Alright, I'm game." Naruto answered casually as he offered a handshake, "I'll be your little butler and babysitter to your kids, as well as help out around the house. In return, you provide stuff I need, like clothes, a bed, and all that stuff. Am I right?"

"Are you sure about this?" Madison asked as she studied the face of the blonde teen, as well as the hand stretched out in front of him, "I take deals and promises very seriously, you know. Once you agree to this, there's no backing out."

"I take promises seriously, too. I don't go back on promises, believe it!" Naruto exclaimed with a confident smile, then flinched inwardly upon hearing himself.

"Then it's a deal," Madison shook the teen's hand and the both of them smiled amicably at each other. The blonde woman then let the shake drop and stood up, Naruto following suit.

"I guess I should bring you home now," Madison said as she headed inside, Naruto following close behind, "We have a long night ahead of us. Alicia and Nick will be surprised, that's for sure… And for you, Mr. Uzumaki-"

"Naruto's fine, Ms. Clark."

"Alright, Naruto. You're gonna have to toss those clothes in the trash as soon as you get situated," Madison continued as the both of them made their way to the counselor's room, "Those clothes stink and you need a shower. Maybe get some food in you, yeah?"

"Aww… But I really like these clothes…" A little saddened at the inevitable, Naruto just quietly mumbled to himself as he remembered that Jiraiya. Then, as soon as he took a look at his current state and a whiff of himself, he realized that Madison was right. "Okay, you have a point."

"Don't worry, my husband still has some clothes at home. I think they'll fit you nicely," Madison explained casually as she and Naruto now stood in front of her desk, while she looked for her keys and belongings, "Then, as soon as you're done cleaning up, we can worry about dinner."

A few minutes later, the pair made their way to the parking lot, with a contemplating Naruto and a smiling Madison.

"You got any ramen?"

[END FLASHBACK]

-x-

[Half an hour later - Temple Hospital]

With a smile adorning his face, Naruto pulled up in front of the hospital that his adoptive brother, Nick, frequented. Parking his bike, the blonde took a second to just relax for a minute as he turned his engine off.

"Same old, same old," the blonde Jinchuriki mumbled to himself as he took his helmet off and pocketed his keys. He then glanced around the lot and took notice of a squad car parked in front of the hospital, "Uh-oh… That doesn't look good."

Without further ado, Naruto chained his helmet on the bike, unzipped his black, leather jacket, and made his way to the entrance of the hospital.

"Naruto!" a female voice exclaimed just as the whiskered blonde was about to enter the building.

"Mom!" the shinobi waved as he turned to his left and recognized Madison's voice.

"Glad you made it in time. Come on, let's get inside," Madison stated as she walked past Naruto and entered the hospital, with Travis alongside her as he sent a nod towards the shinobi's way.

Naruto for his part just waved lazily as he fell into step with the last person of the trio to arrive.

"Mornin', Whiskers," Alicia teased as she playfully bumped shoulders with the blonde, "I see you're dressed very nicely today. Finally got tired of the orange in your closet?"

"Ha-ha, you're funny, Ali," Naruto sarcastically replied, though if one could tell by the smile on his face, the banter had no ill will, "How about you? I'm guessing you woke up late again and wasn't able to brush your hair right, huh?"

Suddenly self-conscious, the brunette combed through her hair once as a slight blush appeared on her face, "Shut up, you jerk…"

"Hey, hey, don't get upset," Naruto could only chuckle and gently rub Alicia's back in an attempt to console her, "You're still one of the prettiest girls I know, Bad Hair Day and all."

If only Naruto looked a bit to the side, he would have noticed a deeper shade of blushing adorning Alicia's cheeks.

As it was, Madison and Travis were now talking to a dark-skinned, tall doctor as he led them deeper into the facility. The time for joking could wait.

As the doctor explained to Madison the physical injuries that Nick sustained, the blonde woman cut him off and asked about his 'Toxicology' or something.

The whiskered blonde just tuned it all out.

As they approached the room, Naruto heard the doctor say that police officers were here to ask Nick a few questions. Madison then stormed past him and went straight inside the room holding her wayward son, unceremoniously telling the officers to leave the premises if they weren't taking Nick into custody.

"What happened?" Madison asked heatedly as she looked at Nick's bedridden form.

"L.A. is not a pedestrian-friendly city." Nick answered sarcastically .

"Nick." the blonde woman pleaded, in the hopes that her son will be serious.

"I just tried to beat the light." the brown-haired junkie answered in return, making Madison sigh lightly in frustration.

"Why the restraints?" Madison asked, still not satisfied with Nick's answers.

Nick only shrugged his shoulder as he looked at his arms. "I don't know. Ask a lab coat."

Naruto, being the shinobi that he is-especially under the guidance of Kurama, who repeatedly (sometimes literally) beat it in his mind to study his surroundings better, now that he was in a new world-studied the varying reactions in his adoptive family members' faces. By far, he could tell that Madison was the most concerned, Travis too, while Alicia was rather upset.

To be honest, he kinda is too, if he was in Alicia's shoes. Nick had to get his shit together.

"Did you try to hurt yourself?" Madison asked as her concerns finally took over her initial anger at the situation.

"No, Mom," Nick answered in return, not wanting Madison to think he was suicidal at all, "Come on, it was an accident. It was just an accident."

"Alright, I'm gonna call for a bed," Madison made to move away, before her emotions began to get out of control.

"No, no, no." Nick pleaded, not wanting to cause anymore problems and definitely not wanting to go back to rehab, "Mom, no. Hey, I'm not going back."

"It's how we help you." Madison reasoned gently as she held her phone.

"No, 'we' can't help me." Nick stated in return.

"Listen to your mother, Nick." Travis finally spoke up as he was slightly getting tired of seeing the same scene happen over and over again, believing that Madison shouldn't go through this.

"You definitely can't help me." Nick answered Travis rather rudely, evidently disliking the man.

"Hey- Nick-" Madison attempted to diffuse the suddenly tense situation.

"You can't do shit," Nick continued, not listening to his mother, "Really."

Not liking the development, Naruto decided now was the best time to butt in.

"Yo, Nicky, how're you feeling?" the blonde asked as he moved from his spot behind Alicia, deftly reaching out for Alicia's hand and squeezing it gently and quickly, to which the brunette squeezed back, and making his way to the bedside opposite of Madison's.

"Hey, Whiskers!" Noticing who the voice belonged to and inwardly thankful for the interruption, Nick gladly shook the shinobi's hand, "Haven't seen you in a couple days. How's the bike?"

"She's a beauty, Nicky. You should ride with me sometime," Naruto proudly stated as his infectious smile spread throughout the room, with even Alicia slightly smirking at the amazing ability the blonde had for diffusing the tension, "Though I don't think you should with a hospital gown. It wouldn't do well for people to see your junk as we pass by."

Nick couldn't help but chuckle at the thought. Just then, the whiskered blonde's smile disappeared and so to did the comfortable aura that his smile brought.

"What happened?" Naruto asked, in the way that didn't feel like 'Naruto, the adopted, funny, and loving brother,' but more of the 'Naruto, the scary one,' as Nick once described to Alicia during a time almost a year ago when Nick got jumped by a couple of thugs and the shinobi saved his ass by beating them into a pulp.

Just then, Travis' phone rings, snapping Nick of his musings.

"I'll take this outside." With that, he stepped out of the room, Alicia following suit.

"Now, it's just me, you, and Naruto," Madison said as he glanced at the blonde, then to her son, "You KNOW you can trust him. And you sure as hell know you can trust me. So spill."

As Nick recounted his story-the actual story of what happened-and remembered the dying faces of the people he saw, as well as the bloodied and pale face of Gloria as she munched on one of her victim's faces, Naruto was attempting to identify what of it was a lie, the truth, and the drugs.

Right off the bat, he knew his adoptive brother wasn't lying. So it either meant that he was so gone during this whole thing that he believed every word he said, or this was the truth.

Madison for her part, could only look at Nick dejectedly as she rubbed his arms gently.

"I gotta go and get to work, Nick," Naruto's adoptive mom said as she leaned over to the brown-haired junkie and kissed his forehead, "Please behave 'til I get back. I'm gonna come by after school, I promise. Naruto, I better see you in class later."

"Okay, Mom." Nick just answered back regretfully. Just as Madison stepped out of the room-giving Naruto 'the look', to which the whiskered blonde just saluted-Nick spoke up, "She doesn't believe me, does she?"

"I mean, can you blame her?" Naruto answered softly as he watched the interaction between Travis and Madison from the other side of the glass, "It wouldn't be impossible for you to have just imagined the whole thing by yourself."

"So, you don't believe me too, huh?" Nick dejectedly surmised as he sadly smiled up at his adopted brother.

"Now, I didn't say that," Naruto said abruptly as he turned his serious gaze at Nick, "I believe you."

"W-what…?" A little surprised and puzzled at the unexpected answer from his brother, Nick didn't know what to say, "You do…? Why would you? Just like you said, it could be all just made-up by my mind."

"What if, on the off chance, that it is?" Naruto argued as he kept his confident gaze at the junkie, "Look, Nicky, I know that the drugs could just be the reason that's making you see these things, but it could also be that these things you described DID happen. I can't take that chance, and risk putting your life, Madison's, and Alicia's, in danger… You're all I've got here and I'll be damned if some man-eating… thing is gonna take that away from me."

Nick could only smile gratefully at the heartfelt words his brother said to him. "How could you just believe me easily?"

"Because if I don't, who will? I'm your brother, you dumbass, don't ever forget that," Naruto answered with a smirk on his face as he turned around and look out the window behind Nick's bed, "And honestly, there's way more scarier things out in the universe than a man-eating sicko…"

"How… would you know that?" Nick asked, doubtful of the whiskered blonde's words.

Suddenly realizing that he was thinking of beings like the Akatsuki, Madara and otherworldly summons from back home, Naruto could only rub the back of his neck sheepishly. "I m-mean there's the Bigfoot, and doctors and… and your mom. Yeah, your mom. She could be REALLY scary if she wants to."

"You're a dick, did you know that?" Nick expressed amusedly as the blonde's antics never failed to make him and his family smile.

"Anyways, I'd better head to school, before Madison gets on my ass about it again," Naruto said just as Travis opened the door to the room, "I'll see you later, alright?"

"Yeah, well, I'll be here, behaving," Nick replied rather sarcastically, though in good nature as he shook Naruto's hand.

"Madison's waiting outside with Alicia," Travis stated as Naruto shook his hands on the way out.

"I guess, you're staying here then?" the shinobi asked as he turned around to face Travis.

"Yep, gotta watch over our friend here," Travis pointed behind him with his thumbs.

"Alright then, Professor M, I'll catch ya later," Turning around, Naruto headed for the door.

"You better be ready for that quiz tomorrow when I get back!" Travis smiled as he saw the blonde sag his head lower and wave back.

Making his way to the parking lot, once more, Naruto caught sight of Madison and Alicia waiting in their car by the front entrance. As he approached, he could see the look of discontent Alicia had.

"Naruto, you better be behind or in front of us, on the way to school," Madison stated loudly as Naruto approached Alicia's side of the vehicle and slid an arm around her shoulders, to which the brunette accepted.

"Yes, ma'am, I won't be skipping today, on account of my fear from my mother," Naruto teasingly replied as he smiled at Madison who was trying her best to stay mad, to no avail.

"Good to hear. You still good on gas? I could lend you some money." Madison offered with a smile, though inwardly, she knew that Naruto tried to be independent.

"Nah, I'm still good. Still got some cash leftover from my paycheck last month anyways, so I'll be fine," Just as expected, the whiskered blonde politely declined the offer with a smile, as he gently brushed his lips on Alicia's forehead, "Anyways, I should be on my way. Wouldn't want the school counselor getting on my case for being late now, would I?"

With that, Naruto waved goodbye and watched their car drive away while he made his way to his bike. Just as he was about to put his helmet on, another ambulance arrived and brought out two bloodied victims. Deciding that this was a frequent thing in hospitals, Naruto put his helmet on and turned his engine on.

As he began moving away from the hospital and onwards to school, he can't shake the feeling that there's something…weirdabout today.

-x-

[An hour later - Paul R. Williams High School]

"Whiskers, you better hurry up or we'll be late to Chemistry. AGAIN." Alicia's chiding voice snapped a contemplating Naruto out of his thoughts as the both of them stoody in front of their lockers-which were conveniently placed right next to each other.

"Huh? Oh, right," With a bit of urgency Naruto unceremoniously chucked his helmet in his locker and took his chemistry book out, closing and locking his locker after.

As Naruto and Alicia made their way to second period, Naruto couldn't help but ask the dreaded question he's been afraid to ask the spitfire next to him. "Hey, Ali… I got a question…"

"Shoot," the brunette casually replied as she and Naruto made their way through the sea of students littering the hallway.

"Why is it that you… I don't know, hate Travis that much?" Naruto asked softly so as not to gain the ire of the girl beside him.

"What makes you say that?" Alicia asked in return, slightly not liking where this conversation was headed.

"I mean… I saw you literally glare lasers outta your eyes when Travis butted into your Mom's and Nick's argument earlier," Naruto explained as he smiled rather anxiously at the brunette from the corner of his eyes.

She could literally kill me with her glares… I hope she doesn't get upset, the blonde thought.

"It's just that… Look, he just doesn't belong, alright? He's not blood. He isn't family and he definitely won't replace my dad. He doesn't belong with us." Alicia explained softly as she kept her gaze in front of her.

"...Does that mean that I'm not a part of your family…?" Naruto mumbled softly as he glanced down at his hands. Then, realizing what he had just said, he looked at Alicia.

Me and my big mouth, the shinobi thought to himself.

"What?" Alicia said as she glared at the blonde beside her, her hands balled into fists, "DON'T justify your situation with his, Naruto. You KNOW you're family."

"No, I know, I'm just trying to say, he's-" the blonde shinobi attempted to calm her down, only to be interrupted by the now-upset Alicia.

"He's trying? To what? Replace my dad?" Alicia asked vehemently, all the while garnering the attention of several of the students around them, "I thought you'd be on my side on this one, Naruto. Guess I was wrong. Have fun in Chemistry."

Without so much as another word, the brunette stormed out of the building, with Naruto trying to follow her.

"Ali, wait!" the blonde attempted to call out to her, to no success. It was just so convenient how, as soon as she passed through the hallway, even more students came out of nowhere, blocking Naruto's path.

By the time he got through the doors, Naruto realized just why Alicia headed out this way.

"Oh, look. It's Matt," Kurama's teasing voice rang out in Naruto's head, "You know, your girl's boyfriend."

"She isn't my girl," Naruto mumbled softly as he saw Alicia and Matt flirt a little bit near the bleachers, where other students were spray-painting the walls.

"Well, obviously not," the nine-tailed demon-fox continued his ribbing, obviously amused by the development, "Otherwise, she'd be hugging you."

"Kurama, shut up and go back to sleep." Naruto stated through his thoughts as he about-faced and headed to his stupid class.

-x-

[Later in the evening - Clark Household]

With Alicia still giving Naruto the cold shoulder and Madison most likely in the hospital with Nick, Naruto had nothing else to do and was currently sitting on the couch all alone. Alicia, without so much as a 'goodbye', walked out the front door as soon as she freshened up and dumped her backpack in her room.

The only thing she said, when Naruto said that Madison will probably look for her, was that she'll be 'at Matt's place.'

"There's literally nothing good to watch…" the blonde shinobi mumbled to himself as he continuously scrolled down on the list of channels on the TV screen.

"Well then turn it off and stop your whining," Kurama commented inside Naruto's head.

"You're not really helping."

"I wasn't trying to be."

"Damned, furry bastard."

"Idiotic brat."

"I love you too."

"Shouldn't you be saying that to Alicia?"

"Shut up."

"Hah, I win, you brat," Kurama said with a grin, which was unnoticed by his Jinchuriki, on account of him still scrolling through the menu. "Wait."

"What now?" Naruto asked, the boredom evident in his tone.

"What if we check out that church that Nicky was talking about?" Kurama suggested, making Naruto stop his unfruitful endeavor, "On the off-chance that it's true, then we could prove that your adoptive brother was telling the truth."

No words were said as the blonde went into his room and changed into a more… appropriate attire. One that Naruto's worn ever since he lost his favorite tracksuit and had to find something else to consider as ninja-attire for his occasional itch to look for trouble in the middle of the night.

His choice of clothing was reminiscent to the ANBU uniforms he saw back in Konoha, though obviously, it's still considered modern, tactical attire: slim, black cargo pants that are stretchy on the waist and thighs, tucked into a pair of black, tactical knee-high boots, a long-sleeved turtleneck tucked into the pants, and a black-and-orange, kevlar-tactical vest.

Metal, forearm and knee guards adorn the blonde's outfit, along with steel-plated gloves that fit like a second skin. Strapped onto the sides of both his shins are a pair of steel, arm-length tantos, with Durability Seals-One of the several things Naruto learned during his training trip with the previous Toad Sage. His kunai pouch, instead of being strapped onto his thigh, was now on his vest for easier access.

"A whopping number of four kunais. Great," Naruto mumbled dryly to himself at the shortage of his throwing weapons, "I don't have any shurikens either…"

"Just be glad that technology in this dimension is so advanced that you bought your whole outfit in front of a screen," Kurama admonished the blonde's indignant attitude, as Naruto finished his ensemble with a black, face half-mask, a tactical cloak that went down below his waist, and last but not least, his forehead protector.

"Alright, I'm ready," Naruto stated aloud, though he realized a second later that it was just him and Kurama, who was inside his head.

"The church near Needle Alley will be your destination," Kurama reminded the blonde, while Naruto climbed out his window to the backyard. Jumping up onto the roof, he listened to the nine-tailed fox's next instructions, "That'll be a straight shot to your left, towards the little farmer's market Madison goes to every other weekend."

"Got it." With an odd excitement in the pit of his stomach, the shinobi shot off into the rooftops, a reminiscent feeling of taking missions going through his mind.

-x-

[Fifteen minutes later - Church near Needle Alley]

Perched on a rooftop, opposite of the church from Nick's description, Naruto took in his surroundings.

So, aside from how old and abandoned the church is, there's nothing really out-of-place, the shinobi thought as he surveyed the area.

"Then, the next thing to do is check the inside…" Kurama voiced out his container's next thought, "Do you want me to begin gathering Nature energy?"

I don't think it'll be necessary… Are you sensing anything inside? Naruto asked silently in return.

"That's the thing… I am sensing something… not quite alive…" Kurama whispered softly, as if he was really concentrating on something else, "…But not quite dead either."

"A Reanimation Summoning…!?" Naruto whispered aloud, quite unsettled at the prospect of fighting a reanimated shinobi, "Did Madara follow me? Is it him?"

"Naruto, calm down. It isn't him. If it was, you would have felt it, even without my help," Kurama placated the boy, "Focus on the mission. Besides, I feel even less chakra on these ones… It's like they're dead, but not fully…"

So there might be more than one… Great, the whiskered blonde thought as he took out one of his kunai. Just as he was about to hop down and get inside the church, an old, familiar pick-up truck stopped in front of the abandoned church.

Travis…? the blonde thought as said person stepped out of the vehicle with a flashlight. Travis then approached the steel fence and attempted to open it, to no success.

"Looks like we had the same thought tonight," Naruto whispered aloud as he finally hopped down the rooftop, onto the concrete in order to follow Travis, who by now, found an entrance into the abandoned building through what appears to be a bathroom window.

"Be careful, brat…" the Tailed Beast warned his container as Naruto quietly climbed through the window after his English teacher.

Using Travis as a form of detection-in case something in front of them comes out, Travis will probably make noise-Naruto took his time in surveying and investigating each and every room, finding nothing of importance, aside from used needles and garbage in general.

Then, just as Travis swung open a door, a jittery figure jumped out of nowhere.

"Ah, don't!" the jittery figure, most likely a junkie, bellowed hysterically as Travis took a couple steps back, "Don't kill me!"

The erratic junkie then pinned Travis to the wall.

Faster than what the people of this world could comprehend, Naruto slammed his whole body onto the junkie, sending said junkie's body on the ground in an unconscious state. Travis could only stand in shock and anxiety as he waited for the black-clad figure-unknown to him was his fiancee's adopted son-to make its next move.

Sighing at the sudden turn of events and what he was about to do, Naruto turned around to face his soon-to-be step-dad. "What are you doing here, Professor M?" the whiskered blonde as he pulled his hoodback, letting his familiar, golden locks out.

"Naruto…?" the curly-haired professor questioned, confusion evident in his voice, as he took in the sight of one of his brightest-and most knuckleheaded-student, "I should be asking you the same thing. Does Madison know you're here? And…W-what exactly are you wearing?"

"We can talk about all that later," Naruto said softly as he turned around and crouched on the ground, studying the unconscious form of the junkie he just put to sleep, "It's not safe here. The longer we stay here, the higher the risks get. I'm guessing you wanted to see for yourself if my brother was insane or if he did in fact see what he said he saw?"

"Uh, yeah. I wanted to make sure. I know your Mom doesn't want to put Nick into rehab, or worse…" Travis answered the blonde, though still slightly taken aback by his student's sudden appearance, "What did you mean by risks? Do you think what Nick said really is true?"

"I don't know yet… but, on the off-chance that it is? Then at least, I wasn't caught unprepared." Naruto replied abruptly as he stood up and quietly stepped through the next room. "Stick close, Professor. Don't wanna have to lose you in this place."

Travis could only nod as the both of them now investigated the premises.

"There were signs of struggle," the whiskered blonde whispered just loud enough for Travis to hear as he pointed to the side of the staircase they were standing in front of and the trickle of what seems to be blood on the wall, a few hours old. Naruto then proceeded to climb said staircase.

The pair ended up in front of what seems to be the altar. The shinobi then turned around to scan their surroundings, hoping to find some clue of what happened.

"I smell blood in the air…" Naruto mused softly to himself, though Travis heard him mumble, albeit barely audibly. The blonde then walked through the middle of the divided pews, urging the curly-haired man to follow suit. Then, just as quickly, Naruto halted and pointed down on the ground, to his left.

"There." the shinobi-in-disguise whispered as he then took out his own flashlight and pointed it on the ground.

Blood. Lots of it.

Travis, upon seeing and realizing what it was-along with the bloody chunks littered around it-couldn't help but feel the urge to puke his afternoon lunch. Naruto, on the other hand, took one of his gloves off and crouched down as he touched the blood with a finger.

"This blood's less than a day old, Professor…" Naruto explained to his companion, knowing just how shocked and slightly terrified Travis is at the moment, as he turned his gaze towards his adoptive mom's fiancee, "Whatever happened here… whoever this blood belonged to… they aren't here anymore. But I don't think we should wait here for whatever it is to come back… what do you think?"

"Y-yeah, let's get outta here." Travis answered, obviously a bit shaken up at the sight, as Naruto stood up and headed for the front door.

"Well, that was a bust…" Kurama stated rather frustratedly as Naruto exited the church, Travis following suit, "I was sure something was in there…"

Maybe, you're just finally going senile, Naruto thought teasingly as he and Travis opened the front gate from the inside, But joking aside, I was also sure something was there… Something's going on, Kurama. Something big. I can feel it.

"You and me both, brat…" Kurama replied one last time before he fell quiet once again.

-x-

[Moments later - Outside the Church]

"Naruto, let's go home." Travis said, earning the attention of the whiskered blonde who was looking at the abandoned church once more.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure." Naruto said as he finally turned away from the decrepit building and took his half-mask off, putting it inside his vest-pouch and pocketing his kunai. It wasn't long until both of them were on their way home.

"So, you wanna tell me why you look like a ninja-assassin?" Travis asked, amusement evident in his voice, while he kept his eyes straight as they drove along the street.

Naruto, who was enjoying the air that was going through the open window, sighed inwardly at being asked such a question. "Because I love dressing up as one. Hard to be seen in the dark and all that. Batman-style, you know."

"Fair point…" Travis answered in return, as he took a second glance at the blonde, "It definitely suits you, that's for sure. Oddly, if I may say, you look comfortable in it."

"Thanks, Prof." Naruto softly said as a slight smile adorned his face, silently thankful that Travis wasn't asking much into why he has clothes like this.

"Let me talk to your mom about it, alright? I know you might get in trouble if she finds out you went ahead and snuck in there too." the curly-haired man said as they neared the house, "Thanks, by the way… for, uh, saving me back there. I don't know what would have happened if you didn't."

"That's no big deal… I wouldn't want Mom to be sad and you're a pretty decent guy," Naruto answered casually as he closed his eyes for a little bit, "Besides, you teach me stuff I have trouble with outside of school. We're even in my books."

"That so?" Travis asked, a smile on his face, evidently glad at what the blonde said.

"Yup."

-x-

[The next day - Temple Hospital]

Deciding to forego his bike at home, Naruto carpooled with Alicia and Travis to the hospital. Madison didn't come home that night, notifying Travis beforehand that she was just going to spend it at Nick's bedside. All the while, the brunette was still on her silent treatment of the whiskered blonde and it was starting to seriously bother him.

Having arrived and currently making their way towards Nick's hospital room, Naruto built up the courage to approach the situation and went for it.

"Hey, Ali… I'm sorry about yesterday… I didn't mean for you to get upset, you know?" the blonde softly apologized as the two of them walked a little bit behind Travis.

"I-I know…" Finally budging, Alicia gazed at Naruto's now-smiling face-evidently because she talked to him again-and couldn't help but mirror his expression, "I can be a bit irrational sometimes, too… I'm sorry."

"…So we're cool?" Naruto asked, his voice full of hope, as he kept his eyes on the brunette.

"…Yes." Alicia softly answered as she kept her eyes front.

"Yes!? Yes!" Naruto exclaimed rather excitedly as he smiled his megawatt-smile and threw his arm around the brunette's waist, pulling her towards him, "You're the best, Ali."

"Yeah, yeah," the brunette mumbled weakly, though inwardly, she enjoyed the physical contact and the positive effect that Naruto's presence gives her.

Travis then turned around and called them forward as the three of them entered the room where Nick and Madison were, with the blonde woman sleeping on her side right beside her son. Travis then came closer and leaned in towards Madison's ear.

"You got an hour before the first bell," the curly-haired man whispered in Madison ear, slowly rousing the woman from her sleep.

"Mm…" the guidance counselor opened her eyes slowly and focused on the still-sleeping form of Nick. She then slowly sat up and gazed at the people in the room, "Okay. I need coffee before anything…"

"Here's your change of clothes," Travis said as he handed her a paper-bag and assisted her in getting up.

Madison then made her way out of the room as she headed for the restroom.

"I'll be right back." the English teacher said as he turned around and patted the now-waking Nick's arm. Then, he stepped out to follow Madison.

"That was sweet, you and the step." Alicia commented as both adults left the room, with Naruto closing the door.

"Be nice, Ali," the blonde chided softly as he took a seat on the right side, at the foot of Nick's bed.

"Not our step." Nick mumbled weakly as he watched Alicia stand up from her seat by the door and check his food tray.

"Madison likes him," Naruto reminded the two of them, silently hoping that they just let their mom experience that happiness freely.

"Who knows?" Alicia interjected as she opened the lid on Nick's food to check it, She then pushed it closer to Nick and took up the spot opposite from Naruto, "She's used to disappointment."

Nick could only laugh while Alicia worked the electric bed to sitting position and Naruto smiled at the subtle, but evident amount of sibling love that Nick and Alicia have for each other.

"I know what you two think," Nick said as he closed his eyes and adjusted his position, "I know."

"And what would that be, Nicky?" Naruto asked while Alicia opened the jelly-filled plastic cup.

"What do I think?" Alicia asked as she took a spoon and began feeding Nick.

"The both of you are perfect and I'm not," Nick answered while Naruto poked Alicia's ribs in an attempt to get a rise out of her, all the while the brunette just raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes, "Hell, Naruto, you've only been around for a year and a half and already, you're turning out to be someone even I'm proud of. And Alicia, you know, you're going to Berkeley, while I got expelled from-"

Alicia chose that moment to gently shove a spoonful of jelly into her brother's mouth,

"-Citrus Community," Nick continued, undeterred by the mouthful of jelly he now has, while Alicia could only smile softly.

"That's bull and you know it," Naruto butted in, as turned his gaze to his adoptive brother, "Nick, you only got expelled because of these stupid drugs, not because you're dumb. I'd bet my motorbike that, if it wasn't for your dumbass addiction, you'd already be in Berkeley."

"I don't compare myself, Nick. You should know that," Alicia said as she also felt the same way as Naruto.

"You can't not." Nick argued as he munched on another spoonful of jelly, courtesy of his younger sister.

"Well, I don't compare myself with crazy," Alicia argued in return, then glanced at the blonde beside her, "Unless it's Whiskers over here. Then, I compare myself to crazy."

"What." Naruto said in mocking fashion, knowing that the brunette was trying to lighten the mood.

"I'm not crazy," mumbled weakly to Alicia, as if he was silently pleading for the both of them to believe him.

"Well, you repeat the same behavior and expect different results," the brunette explained, clearly talking about his use of drugs, as she then passed the jelly to Naruto, who took a spoonful, "That's Merriam-Webster crazy."

"Hey, it's not gonna be like this anymore," the bed-ridden older brother declared as he took his younger sister's hand.

"It will…" Alicia solemnly denied to believe his words, knowing deep inside herself what the truth was.

"No."

"It'll be worse."

"Mm-mmm," Nick shook his head as he looked at both Alicia and Naruto as he rubbed circles on his younger sister's wrist with his thumb, "I'm ending it now. I'm choosing to."

"Okay." the brunette reluctantly relented.

"Okay?" the older one asked once more.

"Okay." Alicia nodded her head weakly as she looked downwards to her arm, where her older brother's hand rested.

"I'm the witness to this, just so the both of you know," Naruto interjected while he munched on Nick's jelly as he pointed at the junkie, "I'm gonna treat this as a promise from you to Ali. If you break it, I'm gonna beat your ass up, big brother."

Nick could only chuckle nervously as Naruto gently patted his thigh and grinned menacingly, knowing full well that the blonde was more than capable of following through with his threat.

"By the way, I went ahead and checked the place," Naruto casually stated, causing the oldest of the three to widen his eyes in surprise and slight anxiety. Alicia, on the other hand, felt confused as she didn't know what the whiskered blonde meant."Something bad happened there, Nicky. I don't know how in the hell, you escaped but I'm glad you did."

"Wait… you went to the church where Nick gets his high on?" Alicia fumed, rather annoyed at the fact that she wasn't included in the loop as she realized what the blonde was referring to.

"I did." Naruto responded, not bothered by the brunette's exclusive temper towards him.

"What did you see? Was Gloria there?" Nick asked, concern and fear evident in his voice as he unknowingly reached out and held tightly onto Naruto's arm.

"I didn't find anybody there, aside from another junkie… No flesh-eating sickos either…" the blonde whispered softly, so as to not garner any attention, "But I did find a puddle of blood and chunks of meat, less than a day old. Well, at least, when I checked, it was less than a day old."

"That was stupid and reckless, Naruto!" the brunette exclaimed a bit loudly as he glared daggers at the blonde knucklehead beside her, though thankfully no one outside the room heard and the only other patient in the room was still fast asleep, "That place is dangerous and you know it."

"I know, I know. Don't worry, I went with Travis. We had each other's backs," Naruto reasoned out as he stood up and went around the bed to set the jelly down on Nick's tray. The whiskered blonde then rested his arm around Alicia's shoulders, to which the strong-willed girl silently accepted, "Besides, I'm pretty strong myself. Those sickos cou-"

"-Could've seriously killed you, Naruto…" Nick interjected, cutting Naruto off from his self-praise, as he sent Naruto a slightly frightful look.

"The both of you really are siblings," Naruto said dryly as he then took a deep breath and tried to placate the other two, "I can't promise I won't do it again, alright? Because if it'll keep the two of you and Madison safe and out of harm's way, I would risk my life in a heartbeat. That's just how much I care about y'all. Even if sometimes, the headaches you bring are difficult to handle."

The Clark siblings could only stay quiet at the straightforwardness that their blonde friend explained his reasoning with, though they also couldn't help the smile that crept upon their lips as they looked at Naruto rub his neck gently and look away.

"Jerk," Alicia whispered just loud enough for the three of them to hear as she gently elbowed the whiskered blonde's rib, earning a chuckle from Nick and a yelp from Naruto, "Where do you get off being all charming and cool like that?"

"I think I just threw up in my mouth a little, actually," Nick added his two-cents in, though the pleasant smile on his face betrayed his words.

"Shut up," Naruto mumbled as he rubbed his ribs, "You both know you like it."

-x-

[A few hours - Paul R. Williams High School]

Not wanting to go to his class after lunch, Naruto decided to opt out on History and spend the rest of his time on the school roof. Sitting on one of the ledges, Naruto sat cross-legged as he meditated.

Deep inside his psyche, Naruto and Kurama were having a rather heated spar, due to Kurama insisting that, since the blonde Jinchuriki's ability to use his chakra cloaks have all but disappeared, he should at least get the proper training in controlling his Sage Mode, whilst getting into some physical training.

"I still don't know how fighting in my mindscape helps in fighting out there!" Naruto yelled as he swung his arms out just in time to block one of the nine-tailed fox's tails and jumped back. The shinobi then made his most-famous hand-signs and sent his own volley of attacks towards the Tailed Beast.

"Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Naruto bellowed as smoke suddenly popped out of nowhere and dozens of copies of the whiskered blonde flew out towards Kurama at high speeds, every single one of them forming a condensed ball of energy in their hands.

"Rasengan Barrage!" shouted the clones in unison as they made contact with the Tailed Beast.

"I hope you know just how impossible these attacks will be in a real battle," the fox said whilst he kept his tails and arms up to block most of the shinobi's attacks, "Don't forget how low your chakra actually is compared to what it was before we were teleported to this universe. You wouldn't be able to make this many copies or repeatedly use-"

"-Use my Rasengan, I know," the whiskered blonde cut his companion off as the both of them settled into their defensive stances once more, letting the smoke between them dissipate, "It just feels good to do so here, in the mindscape, is all. And you still haven't answered my question either."

"You barely have enough time to train your mind and body, let alone your meditation, on account of your responsibilities to the Clark's and your side-jobs," the obviously irritated Kurama explained as he relaxed his body and sat down on his hunches, urging Naruto to do so also, "I just want my Jinchuriki to be ready when the shit hits the fan. Can't let my reputation in being the strongest Tailed Beast be tarnished, after all, and by proxy, you're a part of me so you represent me."

"You do know that I can't even access your demonic chakra, let alone use any of our cloaks, right?" Naruto argued back, sending a raised eyebrow towards the fox, "I could barely be called a Jinchuriki right now… But I do understand what you're saying. Something's about to go down. It's like the calm before the storm…"

"I knew that brain of yours isn't just for show anymore! I'm proud of you, brat!" the fox mocked, earning a glare from the shinobi, "And anyways, just because you can't access my chakra, doesn't mean I can't assist you in battle. Like another set of eyes."

"You know I'll always be grateful, you furry mutt," the Jinchuriki closed his eyes as he relaxed his breathing. Opening them back up after a minute, Naruto looked Kurama in the eyes with a smirk and continued, "Don't worry. Whatever happens, we'll face it head-on like we've always done! Anyways, I think this should be enough for today. School's out and I'm tryin' to catch Madison and visit the knucklehead."

Just as the blonde uttered those words in his mindscape, Naruto in the physical world then slowly opened his eyes.

"Keep your head about you, brat," the nine-tails' voice softly rang in the shinobi's head while Naruto let the Nature energy in his veins disperse, his eyes going back from frog-like irises to his normal cerulean-blue, "Whatever was in that church is still out there."

"I know, Kurama," the blonde answered aloud as he calmly stood up from his sitting position and walked towards the very edge of the rooftops and looked down to the trees below. Taking a small hop and landing on the rails, Naruto then crouched a little. Then he jumped.

No words were said as Naruto soared through the sky, aimed towards the trees that are getting closer and closer by the second. Then, just before he made contact, the shinobi flipped and landed on one of the tree branches, with barely any sound made.

"Good thing, kids are still in class…" the whiskered blonde mumbled to himself as he surveyed his empty surroundings, seeing no one out in the forested area surrounding the school. Taking out a granola bar and sitting on a tree branch, Naruto decided to spend the remainder of his last class period munching on his snack while waiting for the last bell to ring.

Just as the whiskered blonde took the last bite of his granola bar, an audible ringing of the bell reverberated throughout the school grounds and a sea of children began pouring out of the front doors not a second later.

Deciding that now would be the best time to blend into the crowd and head over to his English teacher's pickup truck, Naruto gently hopped down to the ground and walked casually to the parking lot, glancing behind him occasionally to check if anyone saw him come down from the tree branches.

"Coast is clear," the whiskered blonde whispered to himself as he brought his hands behind his neck and whistled a happy tune.

"Whiskers!" a familiar, female voice yelled out from behind the shinobi's back, along with a gentle pat on the back. Turning his head around, Naruto smiled softly.

"Hey, Ali," Naruto spoke softly as he then noticed the rather pleasant smile the brunette sported on her face, "What's got you smiling so much?"

"Just that me and Matt are going to the beach today!" Alicia happily admitted as the two continued walking towards the parking lot.

"Well, isn't that just peachy!" the blonde replied, sarcasm leaking in his voice, as he kept his grin on his face.

"Oh, stop it, you. Matt's a really good guy," the brunette assured her adopted brother as the both of them hooked arms and kept walking towards Travis' now-visible pickup truck, "You would know that if you only gave him a chance."

"I know, I know. As long as you're happy," Naruto admitted as they now stood in front of their soon-to-be stepdad's vehicle, "But I swear, if he hurts you or does something you didn't agree to…"

"I know just how capable you are, Whiskers!" Alicia laughed, both amused and grateful at the amount of protectiveness the whiskered blonde had for her and her family, "Anyways, I'll see you later, alright? Say 'hi' to Big Brother for me, 'kay?"

"Will do, ma'am!" the shinobi agreed to do so as he teasingly saluted Alicia, who simply winked at him and went on her way.

Having no choice but to wait for Madison and Travis, Naruto instead just climbed on the truck bed and sat down on the ledges as he resumed his whistling.

"Naruto, we gotta go." Travis' voice halted Naruto and his whistling as the curly-haired man went straight to the driver's seat and unlocked the car, with Madison not far behind him as she talked on the phone. The expression on her face was anything but a good one.

"What's going on?" asked the shinobi as he hopped out of the truck bed and got in the backseat.

"Nick left the hospital when no one was looking. Your mom's talking to his nurse right now," answered Travis as he started the engine.

"Let's go." the blonde woman said as she opened the passenger door and got in.

Nothing was said as the trio drove away, and Naruto got the feeling that Madison and Travis wanted to keep it that way, at least for now. Nerves and all, the shinobi surmised.

It wasn't long until they arrived in the hospital. Knowing that Nick wouldn't be in the immediate vicinity, Naruto opted to stay in the car while the two adults went inside to verify Nick's disappearance. Once again, it didn't take long, as Madison and Travis came out of the hospital less than half an hour later, with Madison explaining to her adopted son that Nick disappeared right after the other patient in his assigned room suddenly flat-lined and had to be transported to a more-equipped room.

A bit adamant on her decision as the next-best lead, Madison insisted that they visited the abandoned church next. Though the shinobi didn't like the idea, he couldn't bring himself to go against his concerned mother, knowing just how difficult it is to worry about someone and hope for the best. It wasn't long before the three of them were now standing in front of the church.

With Naruto taking the lead, Travis and Madison-who was a bit reluctant at letting the blonde take point-behind the blonde, the trio traversed the inside of the church. Unbeknownst to them, the shinobi was quietly conversing with the Tailed Beast inside him, who concluded that the Tailed Beast didn't feel any negative emotions inside, nor was there that odd aura he felt the other day, at least not in their immediate surroundings.

After a rather unfruitful search-the only thing that Madison found was an old book that belonged to Nick-the three went back on the road, each one in varying levels of contemplation.

With nothing else to talk about-aside from the possible whereabouts of the wayward son-the shinobi and the two adults headed towards their final lead: Nick's childhood friend, Calvin.

After another silent drive towards Calvin's home, the three finally pulled up in front of the dark-skinned boy's front lawn.

"Cal." Madison called out as she jogged up the lawn at the dark-skinned boy who was busy vacuuming the inside of his family's van, Travis and Naruto right behind her, "Hey."

"Miss C. Mr. Manawa," Cal murmured aloud as the slightly confused boy stepped out of the van.

The three briefly exchanged pleasantries, all the while the shinobi silently stayed behind a few feet away, content with just listening to them talk.

"…You're looking for Nick." Cal guessed, seeing the familiar face of the blonde boy a few feet behind the two adults, briefly reminded of the seldom times when he would see Naruto and his troubled friend, and just how inseparable the two became after a time.

"Yeah, he was in an accident…" Madison softly admitted, "The cops picked him up. Have you seen him? He ran away from the hospital."

"No… I haven't seen him in a while," answered the dark-skinned boy.

"He's lying." Kurama's voice suddenly rang inside Naruto's head, prompting the blonde to narrow his eyes slightly, though he decided to keep quiet for now.

"You got any ideas where he'd go?" Travis asked, the hope in his voice evident.

"He wouldn't-no. He wouldn't hang where he used to…" Cal answered once more as he adopted a look of concern on his face, "He moved away from us."

Not getting anything from the nine-tailed fox, Naruto assumed that Cal was being honest this time, though he still felt that he should question the boy. Why would he lie though…?

The dark-skinned boy then offered the three of them entrance to his home, stating that he could make some calls and see whether anyone has caught wind of Nick's whereabouts. Travis opted to stay outside as he needed to make a call at the moment, leaving Naruto and Madison to go inside with Nick's childhood friend.

"Just gimme a minute, I gotta get my phone upstairs," said the dark-skinned boy, while Madison took a seat on the sofa in Cal's living room.

"Uh, you got a bathroom? I gotta take a leak." Naruto asked, deciding to stay standing.

"There's one upstairs. I'll lead you to it." Cal said, urging Naruto to follow him upstairs, leaving the blonde woman in the living room.

As they got up to the second floor of the house, Cal was just about to turn around and point the blonde teen in the right direction when, all of a sudden, he was taken by the collar of his shirt and pinned on the wall rather violently.

"Tell me what you really know. NOW." Naruto threateningly whispered as he glared at the boy under his arm and slowly took a kunai out of his inside-jacket-pocket and pointed it at Cal's throat, "You know what I'm capable of, Calvin. You were there when I beat up the thugs who jumped you and Nick a few months ago."

Indeed he was. Cal and Nick were walking back from the nearby burger joint after school to catch up-and for Nick to get his fix, but the blonde didn't know that-when all of a sudden, a group of teenagers the same age as them jumped the two. Cal was sure they belonged to a rival gang that also sold drugs and were ordered to take out their competition, which would be him. It just so happened that Nick was there… and wherever he or Alicia went, best believe that Naruto would be in the general vicinity to keep watch over them.

Safe to say, those thugs decided that coming back to try and finish the job was VERY bad for their health.

"I swear, man," Cal stuttered out, a little terrified at the fact that Naruto, the one who saved him before, was now pointing a rather sharp knife on his throat, "I don't know where Nick is. I haven't seen him in a whi-"

"I can tell if you're lying, you know," Naruto whispered menacingly as he added just a bit more pressure on Cal's neck, "You wanna test me? Keep lying and see what happens."

"I-I haven't s-seen him in a week and a half, man," Cal admitted truthfully, realizing that honesty would be the correct choice for his well-being.

"You really don't know where he is?" Naruto asked once more, letting up on the pressure on Cal's neck in the process.

"No. I swear!" Cal whispered loudly in return, trying and failing to struggle out of the blonde's surprising strength, "Believe me, man!"

"You had better be telling the truth, Calvin." Naruto said silently as he got off the slightly shaken boy and pocketed his kunai back. Then without another word, the blonde shinobi turned around and headed downstairs, leaving Cal equal parts confused and afraid.

A few minutes later, the dark-skinned man came down to the sight of Madison still in the same place and Naruto who was leaning on an armrest, scrolling through his phone.

"Anything?" Madison hopefully asked as the boy in question as he rubbed his neck slightly, looking a bit unnerved.

"No one in our group of friends have seen him," Cal answered softly as he nervously eyed the blonde, who was paying no mind to him. Looking back at the school counselor once more, the dark-skinned man continued, "Sorry, Miss C."

"Oh… That's okay. Thanks anyways, Cal," Madison glumly spoke as she stood up and walked towards the dark-skinned man. Giving him a gentle hug, Madison backed away, speaking once more, "We should get going. Let us know if you get any word about Nick, yeah?"

"Of course, Miss C."

-x-

Deciding to grab dinner out, the trio are now on their way back home, their search for Nick being unfruitful. Travis, being the hopeful person he is, tried to assure Madison of that her son will be found, though the blonde woman concluded that Nick didn't want to be found.

Having nothing else to say, Naruto let his adoptive mom and her fiance talk by themselves, as he knew that nothing could really be done at the moment, though it hurt him a bit, knowing that Madison was close to giving up on his troubled brother.

Just as he was about to doze off, the loud blaring of sirens and whirring helicopter blades invaded his ears, jolting the blonde awake.

"Whoa!" Travis yelped as he opened his door, only for a speeding police officer on his bike zoomed by.

"What's happening?" Naruto asked as Madison and Travis opened their doors and stepped up on the car edges, surveying the commotion in the middle of the exit ramp in front of them.

Just then, gunshots rang out.

"Get back in the truck." the English teacher instructed with alarm as he did the same thing.

"What the hell is happening?" asked the blonde woman, still looking past the traffic.

"Mom!" Naruto bellowed as he pulled on Madison's clothes, while Travis buckled his seatbelt and prepared to drive forward.

"We're getting outta here," Travis stated as he turned the wheel to the left, effectively turning the car in that direction, while Naruto and Madison attempted to make sense of the situation a few hundred feet from them.

"Naruto…" Kurama's wary voice called out from inside the blonde's mind as Naruto squinted his eyes at the commotion happening near the ambulance, where firemen and police officers congregated, "I feel it… The same aura from the church. Not the exact same one, but something similar. It's them."

Nothing else was said as the trio drove away.

-x-

[The next day - Paul R. Williams High School]

"What the hell…? Where's everyone?" Naruto asked under his breath as he arrived at school with Madison and Alicia, though the two women clearly heard him.

"I don't know… It must be because of that weird video that's been going around in the internet," Alicia answered as the three of them walked towards the school entrance, where Principal Costa stood by a school bus and was audibly talking with the driver.

"...Only five kids? What, did you miss a few stops?" the dark-skinned man said, the same one that found Naruto sneaking around school grounds a year and a half ago, as he trudged back inside the school, saying a few words to the two police officers standing guard in front.

"Artie! Wait up!" Madison called out to the Principal Costa, making him swivel his head around, as the blonde woman then turned to her two children, "I'll see the both of you after school. Be good!"

"Yes, Mom." Alicia and Naruto monotonously answered as the school counselor caught up with Artie.

"So what's this video you were talking about?" Naruto asked the brunette, obviously curious at the possible reason why a large number of the school populace was missing on a weekday.

"You, Travis and Mom were there, didn't you see?" Alicia asked, only getting a head-tilt from the whiskered blonde. Taking out her phone, she then clicked on a video and handed the phone to Naruto, "It's this."

In the video, a birds eye-view of an assumed dead man laid down on a stretcher was shown while a medic crouched down beside him and checked him for a pulse, as the previously deceased man slowly raised his hand. All of a sudden, the "dead" man grabbed the medic with both hands and pulled him closer to him. THEN, he took a big bite out of the medic's neck. A few seconds later, he was pulled off of the medic by a police officer and was pushed around for a bit, with the people around him not wanting to make any physical contact.

Then, a close-up shot of the same bloodied, shambling man slowly made his way towards a police officer who was rapidly unloading his pistol clip onto said man. What threw Naruto for a loop though was the fact that, even after getting shot multiple times in the chest and stomach area, the bloodied man continued to get up. Then, right before it tried to get up once more, the police officer aimed at its forehead and pulled the trigger. The bloodied man didn't get up after that.

"Holy shit…" Naruto cursed as he rewound the video and played it once more.

"That's what I said too after I saw it." the brunette admitted as she slowly led the slightly shocked blonde by the straps on his backpack towards their classroom.

"It must be some form of Reanimation…" the nine-tails' voice whispered inside the blonde's head, evidently just as disturbed as his Jinchuriki, "Naruto… This one fed upon his own kind in this state. I'm definitely sure it isn't the Reanimation Summoning… However, something like this, to which the people of this world haven't seen or experienced before… This isn't good, to say the least."

"I knew this peaceful life was too good to be true…" Naruto whispered to himself, not realizing that he uttered the words aloud, as Alicia gently took her device from the blonde's hand.

"Hm? Did you say something?" the brunette asked as she took her earphones off, seeing the whiskered blonde move his mouth but not being able to hear it a second ago.

"Huh? No, nothing. Let's go to class." With that, the two entered their classroom.

Two class periods later, Naruto was still contemplating about the video he watched. Off to his right, Alicia and two other girls were sitting down on the tables together as they watched the viral video of the bloodied man, whilst the Chemistry teacher lectured the rest of the students in the room-Naruto and three other students.

"Uh-oh. Looks like the professor's not taking shit today…" Naruto heard one of the students beside him whisper to another, as the Chemistry teacher stopped her lecture and approached Alicia and the two girls.

However, just as she was about to confiscate Alicia's phone, the P.A. system went on.

"Good morning again, students," Principal Costa's voice boomed in the speakers all around school, saving Alicia's phone, "The district has decided today will be a half-day. Repeat, today will be a half-day. When the bell rings, proceed to your buses in a calm, orderly fashion."

A knock just behind the whiskered blonde's seat made him turn around and make eye-contact with his adoptive mom.

"Do you mind?" Madison asked the Chemistry professor as she pointed at himself and the brunette, to which the old lady just nodded.

Madison then went on to tell Alicia that it was important she got on the school bus and head straight home, as everyone's on edge with the viral video of the bloodied man.

"What about Nick?" Alicia asked, trying to reason out with her mother.

"Well, you'll be there if he comes back." the blonde woman answered smoothly as the two woman looked at each other in the eyes, both mirroring the concern of the other.

"When he comes back." the brunette rephrased, worry evident in her expression.

"When." Madison nodded, putting her hand on Alicia's shoulder, "Yeah, go, baby."

"What about Naruto?" Alicia asked as she secured her backpack on her back, pointing at the whiskered blonde who was sporting a serious face.

"I'm gonna go help look for Nick. The more people looking, the faster we find him," Naruto answered as he took out his steel-plated gloves and zipped up his leather jacket up to his chest, "I have a feeling that time is of the essence here. Like, shit is about to seriously hit the fan."

"Going by your track record, that isn't good," Alicia admitted, knowing how pretty spot on her adoptive brother's gut-feelings could be. Then, without any warning, the brunette wrapped her arms around the whiskered blonde, "Be safe out there, alright? Keep Mom and her fiance safe. And find our idiot brother."

"It's a promise." Naruto calmly and confidently assured the girl hugging him as he wrapped his arms around her as well.

"Let's go, Naruto." Madison said, snapping the two of their little moment, though inwardly, the blonde woman was extremely glad at how protective and concerned Alicia has become towards Nick and Naruto. It's all because of this blonde knucklehead.

"Text us when you get home, alright? We'll see you later," the shinobi said as he and Madison made their way outside, while Alicia went the other route towards the school buses.

"Hey," Travis's voice rang out from Madison's side as he patted her shoulder and kept pace with the two of them, "Let's get out of here before we get blocked in. I'll get the truck."

The three then stepped out the front entrance, with Naruto and Madison waiting by the side and Travis going ahead to get the truck. Turning around, the whiskered blonde saw Principal Costa approaching from behind them.

"Hey, Boss. Looking a bit tired, huh?" Naruto asked in an attempt to lighten the general mood.

"Tell me about it…" Artie took a deep breath as he rubbed his temples lightly and took notice of Madison's strained smile adorning her face, "I know that look, Clark. You wanna help out here but you gotta find your son first. Don't you worry, I'll keep the school in one piece."

The confident smile the Principal had after that declaration spread to the two blondes in front of him. Artie then turned back towards the shinobi. "Do me a favor, Uzumaki. Keep your mother and Travis safe for me. Could you do that?"

"I was gonna do that anyway, old man," Naruto smirked as he rolled his shoulders, "Don't worry about a thing. Your school counselor and English teacher will be safe with me!"

"Thank you, Artie." the blonde woman said, her voice filled with gratitude, as she enveloped her good friend and colleague.

"Let's go, guys!" Travis yelled from inside his truck, urging Madison to let go and turn towards him.

Their words already said, the two blondes made their way down the steps and into the truck.

"Let's bring home my brother."

-x-

[Two hours later - Somewhere near the L.A. river]

"The police just won't pick up!" Madison shouted in frustration as she tried to dial the police department for the upteenth time.

"Madison, calm down," the curly-haired English teacher attempted to calm her down as he patted her back tenderly, "We need to stay calm and think clearly."

The blonde woman closed her eyes and laced her fingers together as she bent down and placed her elbows on her lap, "How do we find him if we can't even contact the police!? What do we-"

Just then, Travis' phone rang.

"Hello?" the curly-haired man answered, shushing the two blondes with a raised finger, "Okay… Alright… No, stay where you are… I'll come and get you… Yeah, Naruto's with me… We'll see you in a bit."

Then, the phone call ended just like that.

"That was Nick. He's right beside the river." Travis explained as he put his phone down on the cup holder of his dashboard and put the gear into drive.

"Is he alright?" Madison asked, the anxiety and concern transparent on her face.

"He's going through it right now." answered the English teacher as he drove down the street, "We better hurry."

About fifteen or so minutes passed right before Madison saw the familiar head of brown, unkempt hair sitting on the sidewalk and pointed towards him. Without saying another word, Travis complied.

"I said I told you not to bring her," Nick said, clear anxiety in his body language, as he paced back and forth and pointed at his mom while the three of them stepped out of the car, "I told you not to bring her."

"Where have you been? We've been looking for you," Madison asked as she approached her troubled son.

"Travis, I said not to bring her." the brown-haired teen repeated himself, ignoring his mother, as he grabbed clammily at the English teacher's arm.

Madison tried to get his attention again, "Are you alr-"

Suddenly, Nick was sent stumbling back a few steps as the outstretched fist of the whiskered blonde invaded Travis and Madison's peripheral.

"That's for worrying your mom endlessly." Naruto stated calmly as he then straightened his posture and walked towards the slightly hunched and surprised junkie, who was holding a hand on his slowly-bruising cheek.

"This is for being alright, you dumbass," the blonde then enveloped the wide-eyed teen in a fierce hug.

"W-whiskers-!" Nick blurted out as he weakly tapped the blonde on his arms, his ability to breathe getting more difficult as the bear-hug continued.

"Oh! Sorry," Letting go quickly, the blonde stepped back and let Travis and Madison approach the troubled addict.

"I… I did a bad thing, guys," Nick whispered audibly, a little less jittery now due to the momentary clarity that Naruto's punch brought with it, as the two adults enveloped him with their arms, "I shot Calvin."

The troubled teenager then went on to explain how Calvin has been his supplier ever since he began taking drugs. That, after Madison and the other two visited the dark-skinned boy at his house, Calvin called Nick so that the two could meet and talk. When they did meet, Nick told him everything that he saw in the church and wondered whether it was the drugs or was he going crazy. The brown-haired junkie also said that Calvin reassured him and told Nick that he would take care of him. Then, he brought Nick to the river.

"He-he pulled a gun on me." His eyes closed and covered with his hands, Nick whispered softly as he took a shuddering breath, "He tried to kill me… I j-just wanted to know what was in-"

"We know, Nicky." Madison reassured the boy as she took him in her hands, "Where is he?"

No words were said as Naruto hopped on the truck-bed, while the other three rode inside the truck, with Nick pointing towards the alleyway behind them leading to the man-made river.

Stopping just in front of the ramp leading down onto the dry-concrete riverbed, the four passengers loaded out of the truck and approached the black two-door sedan that did in fact belong to Calvin just a few yards from the alleyway.

Madison and Travis then began calling out the dark-skinned boy's name, while the shinobi stayed quiet and surveyed his surroundings.

"He was here. He was right here!" the troubled teen hysterically exclaimed as he pointed on the passenger side of the car, where the door was open and a handgun was lying on the ground, "He was here! Right here!"

"There's nobody there, baby," Madison pointed out as she looked inside the car and around her, while Nick bent down on the ground and looked under the car, "There's nobody there."

"There's no one here, Nick." Travis concluded as he rubbed his forehead and looked around, finding no sign of the dark-skinned boy.

"Nicky. Hey," Naruto grabbed the brown-haired teen from the ground and pulled him up to his feet, while the delirious Nick rambled on about Calvin's body being here, "You remember what I said before? I believe you. I'm gonna need you to calm down though, alright?"

The junkie silently nodded his head, knowing that he could trust the blonde to believe him, as Naruto gently passed him to Madison's arms. The whiskered blonde then crouched low on the ground and picked up the gun and checked the clip. Satisfied at the bullets left, Naruto then handed it to Travis.

"What do you want me to do with that?" the curly-haired man asked, evidently confused with why his blonde student was handing him a loaded gun.

"You want to protect my mom, right? You can't do it with just your sweet kisses," Naruto reasoned out, his hands still outstretched with the gun, "Take it. I have a feeling you'll find it useful in the next few days or so."

Reluctantly, the curly-haired man took it-Travis was a man who disliked the idea of guns; having to take one, from a teenager no less, was a confusing occurence to him-and secured it on the back of his jeans, all the while, one sole question in his mind kept popping up as Travis thought about the blonde teen in front of him and their impromptu investigation two nights ago: Who really is this kid?

With the pistol out of his hands, Naruto then quickly searched the car for any useful items that he could scavenge from the car. Coming up empty on the backseat and the glove compartment, the whiskered blonde opened the trunk along with Travis-who caught on to what Naruto was doing and why-and they both slightly widened their eyes.

"These are real guns…" Travis mumbled softly as he picked up an Ithaca Model 37 shotgun, Madison and Nick peeking from behind his shoulders.

"I'm guessing military-grade weapons… Black market stuff," Naruto mumbled in return as he weighed an M27 Infantry Automatic rifle in his hands, "I guess our friend Calvin wasn't a drug dealer for nothing."

Without another word, the blonde Jinchuriki then grabbed the duffle bag that the guns were placed in and searched it thoroughly, finding extra clips, shotgun shells, and magazines for the guns they found, along with a tactical knife. Keeping the knife out and securing it in his inside-jacket pocket, the blonde turned his head towards the three beside him.

"We're taking these weapons, Mom. They might help us under these weird circumstances," Naruto reasoned out at Madison as he gingerly took the shotgun from Travis' hands and placed it inside the bag, zipping the bag in the process and placing the strap on his shoulder, "Is that alright?"

A little conflicted, Madison made to reply, "That might not be a good ide-"

Only to be interrupted by an audible moan that echoed from the alleyway.

"Naruto…" Kurama whispered inside the shinobi's head as the four of them turned towards their truck and the alleyway, noticing a figure lumbering towards them, "It's one of them…"

"Calvin…?" Madison murmured as the bloodied figure of the dark-skinned man awkwardly made his way to them.

"Cal, are you alright?" Travis asked as he uncertainly approached the bloodied boy, getting closer to him with each step, "We need to get you to a hospital, buddy."

"Stay away from him, Travis!" Nick shouted as he stepped back a couple feet away, pulling his mother with him.

"Cal, talk to m-" the English teacher made to try and talk to Calvin, as the boy moaned softly. Then he lunged.

"What-Calvin, get off!" Travis shouted, slightly panicking, as the bloodied boy tried to bury his teeth on his arm.

Just before Calvin could wound the curly-haired man, he was sent flying through the air a couple yards back as the monstrous punch of the blonde made contact with the bloodied boy's stomach.

"That isn't Calvin anymore." Naruto declared as he stood up straight and cracked his neck, keeping his eyes on the bloodied heap of what once was Calvin on the ground.

"What do you mean, Naruto?" Madison asked as she enveloped her hysterical son in a tight hug, with Travis finally taking a few steps back behind the blonde.

"I mean, he's dead. He's not alive anymore, Madison." the blonde said in a tone that Madison rarely heard from her adopted son-only when Naruto was deadly serious-as he took out the tactical knife he found in the duffle bag, "He's something between a dead corpse and mindless cannibal. He isn't what we define as human anymore."

Unsheathing the knife from its case, the shinobi then turned to the three bewildered people behind him, looking mainly at Travis and Madison, "This is what I meant when I said that something bad was about to happen. These... things… They're, by all accounts, dead. Yet, they still walk around. I'm guessing the both of you saw the video that's going around?"

"Y-yeah. The one with the officer shooting someone repeatedly, yet the man didn't just drop. What about it?" Travis answered as he looked back and forth between Naruto and the slowly rising body of what used to be Calvin.

"The only way that officer permanently killed that… reanimation… was with a head-shot. So," Naruto then brought his attention back to the moaning corpse of Calvin, who was now dragging his mangled foot on the ground and began walking towards them once more, "I'm going to assume that the only thing that can permanently put them down is by beheading them, stabbing or slicing their heads off, or blunt-force trauma."

"I knew it wasn't the Reanimation Summoning… But this is just… Unnatural." the nine-tails' disconcerted voice echoed through the shinobi's head as Naruto then slowly began walking forward at the undead Calvin.

"W-what are you doing, Naruto!? Get back!" Nick cried out as he tried to pull away from Madison's grasp, only for both his mother and Travis to keep him back, "Mom! Get Naruto back!"

"Honey, your brother knows what he's doing," the school counselor said, though she was quite baffled at the frightening calmness her adoptive son was showing, as she held tight onto Nick, with Travis mirroring her thoughts and feelings.

Without another word, Naruto sprinted towards the staggering corpse of Calvin and buried his knife deep into its chest, then quickly taking a few steps back as Cal recoiled from the impact but remained standing.

He only continued moaning.

"I-impossible…" the wide-eyed Travis gasped as all three of them looked on in horror at the knife sticking out of Calvin's chest, yet the bloodied undead merely moaned and continued shuffling towards them, "He shouldn't be walking with his heart pierced…"

"I told you." Without turning around, Naruto took out his kunai this time and, once more, walked calmly towards the reanimated Calvin. As he neared the dark-skinned corpse, Calvin tried to grab at him, but the blonde knew better as he swatted the corpse's flailing arms with his free hand and grasped it's neck, halting it's progress.

Then, with all his might, Naruto stabbed his kunai into Calvin's head.

"Nick, you didn't go crazy." the shinobi stated audibly as he took out his knives from Calvin's permanently-dead body, letting it fall on the ground, and crouched right beside Calvin. "The world did, though."

"What the hell is happening…?" Madison asked as she and the other two approached Naruto and the dead body, while the whiskered blonde wiped his knives on Calvin's shirt and closed the corpse's eyes.

"I don't know, Mom…" Naruto said as he slowly stood up and sheathed his knife and pocket his kunai, all of them trying to take in what just happened, "I don't know."

END CHAPTER 1

-x-

Important Facts

-Naruto was 16 yrs. Old when he was teleported to this reality. A year and a half later, he is now 18 yrs. Old, which would just about explain his slight maturity, especially about combat and protecting his precious people, etc.

-Alicia is 17 while Nick is 19, making Nick the oldest.

He has a decent amount of knowledge in Sealing Techniques, having been taught by Jiraiya during their training trip, due to the reason that his dad, Minato, was one hell of a Sealing Expert.

-His more overpowered abilities, such as the Chakra cloaks and Sage of the Six Paths power, won't be used in this fanfic., making Naruto an all-around stronger individual than just about anyone else, but he can't throw around big, powerful moves anymore. (Mid-War Naruto)

-He still retains half of his chakra reserve, his chakra control, his Sage Mode, and the mind-link with Kurama, but there will be next to no nine-tailed energy usage. At least not yet (subject to change).

Author's Note: Alright, this is the end of the first chapter of Fear the Walking Maelstrom. Kind of a slow start, but this DOES start at the same time as the first episode. That's probably how chapters will most likely be written-One episode equals one chapter. Anyways, that's pretty much it. Please review, follow, and favorite. See ya later!