A/N: EDIT: Well, that troll's persistent...*sigh*

Still, I added some more content at the end, hope you like it.

PLEASE READ THIS NOTE, WOULD YOU KINDLY? First, this chapter has all the sass. There you go.

Speaking of which, do read this to the end before you make your judgement. I promise you won't be dissapointed~!

Sorry for the delay, work's been running me ragged right and proper. I intended to update this in April, but I was occupied by projects at work, the death of loved ones, and a host of other issues I'd rather be reminded of here.

As ever, reviews are the fuel which keeps me writing. Without them, my inspiration falls flat. Sorry, but that's the plain truth.

So lets answer a few questions, eh? Onward!

Q: Why would Cinder do that?!

A: Cinder is arrogant, power hungry, and...well...foolish. Case in point! She was a threat in Volume 1-3 because she didn't have that much power to her name. She had to use her mind. But the second said power was presented to her, she pounced and started making foolish decisions.

And two Maidens? Well. That's too big a prize for her to pass up. More fool she. She knows nothing about Raven's Semblance, about Naruto's strength, none of it. She saw what she thought was an opportunity, and tried to make the most of it.

Lets see what happens.

Q: Wait, wait, wait, how did no one sense what happened?!

A: Raven can most assuredly sense when one of her bonded is in danger, though it varies to degrees. There's just one problem. Raven got KNOCKED OUT by Naruto during her squabble with Vanessa, and our boy was admittedly preoccupied at the time, with a lot of people around him, while Yang was a good bit away. He wasn't actively looking or aware of her. Immortal he may be -eternal youth and whatnot- but he is neither omniscient nor omnipresent.

Q: Does Baker's Dozen -Naruto's Bakery!- have a uniform? Not sure if you ever described it...?

A: Yup, sure does, and I did back in chapter three. For the girls its is, and I quote directly from said chapter:

"A simple civilian dress wrapped in a white apron slightly faded by time. Shades of dark navy blue embossed with hints of cold alongside long sleeves, there was even a slit near the lower thigh to allow her free range of movement, and the skirt ended well above her ankles, eliminating any possibility of tripping while remaining modest."

There's a male variation as well, of course. I'd describe it here, buuuuut...

:Q: I simply must inquire one last time, what's the pairing?

A: As stated, this isn't a terribly large pairing. Only a few people. Not like some of my larger stories.

Its also poetic in a sense. Raven, Vanessa, and Sapphire each represent Naruto in different stages of his life. I've hinted as much, but perhaps its best if I just say it aloud.

Raven was Naruto's First Love, and when he was at the roughest point in his life. Back then, he butchered anyone who got in his way.

Vanessa represents his Second, a time when he found hope while wandering the world after Raven. When he found himself again and decided to live his life again.

Sapphire, finally, comes Third, at a point in which Naruto began to blend those ideals. Hope with realism, murder with mercy.

Q: HEY! Is Tai actually...?

A: Not saying jack about Tai. This chapter will do all the talking for me on that particular front eventually.

Once more, I own no quotes, references, or memes. Not a wit or a one. NOPE!

Papa!Naruto is best Naruto, and woe betide anyone who hurts his kids.

Don't worry, the food-pun-titles are coming back.

"Wait. You've kidnapped me? Is that what this is?"

"YES! Do you finally understand the severity of your situation now?!"

"You're...actually being serious? Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha! Oh, you stupid bitch. You're dead."

"ENOUGH OF THIS! My associate will deal with you."

"Oooh, I'm so scared! What's she gonna do, bore me to death?"

~Not Your Typical Kidnapping.

Have Your Cake

"Admit it. I won."

"Oh?" Naruto quirked a brow as he bound Raven's leg. "What makes you say that?"

"You know damn well why." her smirk was nothing short of smug. "I had that cheeky redhead on the ropes before you-OW!"

Rays of dappled morning sunlight spilled through the bedroom window, casting the two of them in amber relief. Propped up on a bed of pillows like the bandit queen she was, Raven Branwen squirmed angrily as he tended to her wounds. Spring Maiden though she might be, she wasn't fond of pain. Least of all the hideous discomfort that came with a fragmented femur.

But even uncomfortable as she was, she remained certain of herself, proud and unbroken.

If she felt at all guilty for stabbing him yesterday in her battle frenzy, she did seem keen to show it. But he knew. Every so often those riot-red orbs would drift to his stomach; eyeing the very space where she'd run him through. Her lips would part as if to speak, try to form words, only to fail just as miserably.

For all her bark, Raven really was a softy these days.

She hissed but a little as he set the bone and ran a glowing hand across thereafter. She was certainly too proud to whimper. Naruto gave her credit for that. Broken bones were nasty things to fix on a good day and this was a particularly bad break. Maybe she'd landed wrong. Perhaps he'd flung her just a little too hard in his haste to break up her bout with Vanessa. Maybe it was just plain bad luck and Qrow's Semblance was to blame for this mishap. Who could say?

Whatever the case, it didn't make Raven any less cheeky; she'd only awoken an hour ago and already, she was rearing for a rematch. She'd probably demand one, once he fixed her leg.

"Aaargh!" Raven's pride broke and she snarled at him as he guided the bone back together. "Be careful!"

Whoops! Gotta watch that.

Her scowl softened a touch as Naruto went back to work. Bones were always tricky to heal. Muscle and tissues were easy once you got the hang of them, but if you didn't get the skeletal structure juuust right...bad things happened. He'd learned that lesson long ago. There were just so many ways for cartilage to heal poorly. Still, she had his undivided attention now.

"Its not your fault for attacking me, you know." He dipped in for a quick embrace that left her squirming. "You lost yourself in that fight. It happens."

Raven stiffened, pale face turning scarlet.

In the end, she felt back on her default response. "I'm telling you, I had her."

"Hmm." Naruto hummed absently as he returned his attention to her injuries. "I'm sure you did."

"Hey!" she growled at him and batted at his arm. "I would have, if you didn't come crashing into our fight like that."

"And if I hadn't, you would've regretted the outcome. Now stop squirming." he flicked her forehead when she tried to argue again. "Unless you want to walk with a limp for the rest of your days."

She subsided with a scowl. "Bastard."

Her words drew a spark of humor from him. "Yes, but as you've so often told me, I'm your bastard."

Said scowl softened into a slight smirk as she leaned forward to link both arms behind his neck. Her forehead kissed his and her presence brought with it the faint smell of vanilla. There was another fainter scent there too, one he couldn't identify at first. She didn't give him time to discover it; her mouth claimed his in a searing kiss, sending a wave of molten fire shooting through his veins.

"You really are." her eyes roved over him as she pulled back, admiring his open shirt. "And you're damn lucky I can't stand right now."

"You'll be right as rain soon enough." His fingers traced her thigh and she shivered in pleasure. "Might require a more...thorough inspection, later...

"Ahem." a new voice chimed. "Could you not? I am right here."

Naruto flinched. Raven did not. "Oh, now she speaks? I was beginning to think you'd gone mute."

A quilted pillow sailed a short distance to smack her in the face.

"Not mute, just contemplative. He did what he thought was best." Vanessa leaned back against her own mountain of cushions, cradling her fractured ribs. "I trust his judgement." She shifted but a little, grimacing as her body protested. "We were out of control. If we'd kept up at that pace...well." she subsided with a frown. "One of us would have died."

Naruto grunted. "So nice to have a vote of confidence."

Raven rolled her eyes. "Didn't ask you, little miss kiss-ass."

"My, my." Vanessa's flashed, trailing green flames. "Do you want me to thrash you again that badly?"

"Did you hit your head?" the chieftain conjured a current of sparks to her good hand. "Way I see, you were the one losing to me."

Fire flared over the Champion's left palm. "Keep telling yourself that, dear."

Searing scarlet eyes met burning jade. "Round two?"

Right, not having that. Once was more than enough! Naruto sighed and rose to his feet, positioning himself between their beds as their squabbling began to intensify. His palms rose on either side of him in ponderous grace, leaving his hands hanging in the air. And then...


Raven frowned at him. "Wait, wha-


Five firm fingers descended upon their heads with sound and aplomb. Both maidens recoiled with a yelp, each clutching at the rising welts he'd left there. It knocked the fight right out of them. Raven glowered bloody red daggers at him. Vanessa was more audible with her displeasure, recoiling with an angry exclamation and a pout besides. Still, it took their ire off each other. Mission accomplished.

'Heh.' A tiny voice crowed in the back of his head. 'Flawless victory.'

"What was that for?!"

"To calm you down." he lowered his arms and sat between them. His left limb coiled around Vanessa, and the right found Raven. "Look, we can't keep going on like this." They huffed and looked away from one another, but their injuries prevented them from putting up any real resistance. "I mean it. You already beat the hell out of each other." He nudged them both, pulling each closer. "What more do you want?'

Raven huffed. "Be nice if you could choose someone."

It was a futile suggestion, and she knew it as much as he; she'd said it out of spite and little else. In his peripherals he felt Vanessa's eyes narrow on him in silent sorrow. She didn't say a word. She didn't have to. Angry though she might be, she knew Raven was first, that she might always be first in his mind. He couldn't rightly say whether she was or wasn't. But the fact remained that she'd kickstarted all this. He cared for her, just as he cared for Vanessa, and even the recalcitrant Sapphire, in his own way.

Really, the choice was obvious.

"Alright." his head bobbed. "I choose you both."

Vanessa rolled her eyes and snorted in a very unladylike giggle. "That's so like you. You're greedy."

"Am I?" a blond brow rose, nearly into his hair. "Broken ribs or not, you certainly didn't complain last night in the shower-

"No, no, no!" Vanessa's hand clamped down on his mouth as her face flamed to match her lustrous red hair. "That's cheating! You can't just-

"Can. Am. Have." He kissed her fingers. "And I deny your denial. You're stuck with me."

A spark shot through those bright green orbs. "Still such a charmer."

He couldn't quite keep the smile from his face. "I try."

One of these days, he really needed to ask how she'd become a Maiden. There were only ever four. Freya was locked up in Atlas the last he'd heard. Raven was sitting right here. That left Fall or Summer, to chance which meant somewhere, somewhen, somehow, something had happened to Amber or her mentor in Vacuo. The knowledge concerned him, but he didn't have a chance to ask. They didn't allow it.

"Ugh." Raven made a gagging noise and looked away. "While I was knocked out? Really? No shame, either of you. Did you at least make her squeal?"


Vanessa made angry noises.

Raven basked in them, delighting in the mischief she'd made. "Heh. Knew it. She strikes me was a screamer."

A quivering finger stabbed at her. "A-A-As if you're any better!"

"Well, you're not wrong." Red eyes flashed as Vanessa fell into her trap. "Unlike you, I don't hold anything back when it comes to making love." she sat up and trailed a hand down her chest, sneering in her triumph. "I'm louder." she leaned forward as much as her leg would allow, lips brushing her ears. "He and I?" her grin grew as her fellow maiden sputtered. "We've done things that you've never even thought of...

For the first time since her return, Pyrrha's mother found herself at a loss for words.

Raven leaned back. "Aw, what's wrong? Don't want to play anymore? Not so fun when someone beats you at your own game now, is it?"

Naruto blinked. Her words lacked their typical rancor, and was that the ghost of a smile upon her lips? It was! The main door creaked open before he could ask just what had her in such a good mood. Raven took one look at it, saw the figure standing in the archway, and her smile faded.

"Aaaand three's a crowd."

"The brats are here." Sapphire slipped in and closed the battered frame behind her, looking positively harried for her trouble. "Its nearly time to open for the day."

"Brats, you say?" Despite his reservations, Naruto felt the ghost of a smile touch his lips. "You'll have to be a bit more specific than that."

Sapphire was entirely too literal. She raised a hand as she entered the room and counted off her fingers. "Pyrrha, Nora, and another."


"Faunus." her hands waved. "Has red hair. Horns."

Raven quirked a brow. "Adam. Gotta be."

Naruto didn't quite hear the words that followed. Adam was back? Already? Unusual, that. He hadn't expected to see him again so soon after their last meeting. They'd parted on peaceful terms, but the Faunus had been left somewhat unnerved by...recent revelations. That he was here so early in the morning. Must want something, that one. He wondered what it was for a moment. Nothing good, probably. It wouldn't do to turn him away out of hand.

Said thoughts shattered as Sapphire flung herself down in his lap and made herself comfortable.

Only then did he realize she was wearing the Bakery's uniform. It was a size too small for her; to make matters worse, she'd shortened the skirt dramatically. His eyes bulged.

"Why are you wearing that?"

"I'm helping." the revived assassin replied with a languid smile. "In fact, I believe I deserve a reward for my hard work.

Slim hands cupped his cheeks, ready to draw him in...until Vanessa coughed once more, interrupting them.

"And now we come to the next Goliath in the room." Unbowed once more, the redhead leaned forward, her eyes suddenly sharp and intent upon the last member of their party. "Who are you? I don't believe we've met." Naruto knew that wry look in her eye all too well; it was the same expression she'd worn on their hunts.

Raven sank back against her pillows with a smirk. "Here we go...

While it could certainly be said that Sapphire Torchwick very much lacked her son's presence and penchant for fashion with drama besides; nevertheless, she held every bit of Roman's defiance and more. And unlike her son, she wasn't afraid to shank someone for looking sideways at her. Vanessa would find no weakness here. A keen eye considered the Champion for a long moment. Then she leaned back against Naruto's chest, lifting her chin in naked defiance, turned her head just so, and smiled.

It was not a nice smile. "Why, I'm mother of his child. And who might you be?"

Vanessa's smile fractured. "Is that so? Seems someone's been busy."

"You have no idea." In the end, it was Raven who broke the impasse. "Take a number and get in line. You're a little late to that party, miss comatose."

The killer quirked a brow at him. "Is that so?"

Naruto sighed. "Please, don't ask."

...fair enough."

A distant commotion from downstairs caught his ear.

"Alright, people." he thrashed his way upright, pulling his crazy little family with him. "Since you're all so spirited today, you can help me with the morning shift. And no," he amended when Sapphire silently raised a hand, "You can't gut someone for leaving a bad tip. Anyone else?"

The hand came down.

Raven chortled softy even as Vanessa frowned. "Morning shift?"

"Heh." the Spring Maiden grinned. "Amateurs."

Naruto rolled his eyes in mild despair.

"The things we do for love...


As ever, when the morning rush finally hit, it hit hard and fast.

"Table two!" Naruto flicked a piping hot tray free from the counter and to his right.

"On it!"

Nora swept past and caught it with her freehand, a plate of -relatively intact!- pancakes already balanced upon the other. Naruto sighed at the sight. It was too much to hope she wouldn't steal one or two for herself when no one was looking. He watched her for a moment just to make certain she wouldn't yet, then whirled a tray of eggs and bacon to Deery.

"Table Five!"

The little faunus saluted and scrambled off under the watchful eye of a clone.

"Now where did that order of waffles go-

A tray floated past him bearing said dish, courtesy of Pyrrha. He chuckled and cast a rueful look at his daughter.


She preened a little at his praise and sauntered off when a customer called for her, ponytail swaying with every step. Temporary help she might well be, but they needed all the hands they could get this morning. Baker's Dozen was heaving with people today; ordinarily he wouldn't have batted an eyelash at that. But today he noted more than a fair share of huntsmen among them. Some he recognized. Others he didn't. Perhaps that was due to the approaching Vytal Festival or some other grand event...nah. Probably the Festival.

Seemed his lazy days were over for now.

"Adam!" he called into the throne of people. "I sent you out with an order five minutes ago. Where are you?!"

The redhead materialized at his side with a scowl and an empty tray. "Why am I getting roped into this? I have no need of this nonsense-

Naruto didn't waste a moment; even as his progeny complained he swept a mighty red velvet cake onto his tray.

"Because you made the mistake of visiting early, and we're swamped." he spun his offspring around and nudged him toward a table of huntresses. "Table Ten. And remember. Try to smile."

His face twitched. "Hrmph."

Naruto patted his shoulder and said the words he knew the young man wanted to hear. "That's my boy. I'm proud of you."

An angry heat crawled up the redhead's visage, but for once he actually did as he was told. Funny how far a little praise went these days.

All told Adam didn't look half bad in that uniform. Gold and blue suited him far more than his prior attire. He'd never admit it, though. Boy really liked his red and black and...oh gods, his son wasn't an edge lord...was he? Probably oughta do something about that bit. Maybe get him a nice girl or something. Preferably someone who wasn't a cat faunus...or related to him.

Weiss seemed nice. That would put some dirt in Jacques' eye.

Still, he looked half decent now; with that ugly S.D.C. brand healed and the eye beneath it restored, more than a few ladies were looking his way. A few Faunus girls giggled amongst themselves as he presented them with their order. Not that Adam would ever act upon it. Poor boy only had eyes for Blake, and that seemed to be a bridge he had very much burned already.

"Having fun, are we?"

He flicked a glance over his shoulder. "You're leg's better now. Why aren't you out there."

"Meh." Raven crossed her legs, a bottle already in hand. "Don't feel like it. I'm no waitress. Helps if they think of me as security."


Sapphire sashayed past with deceptive grace balancing four trays of her own, two to each arm, a testament to her natural dexterity. He didn't have to tell her where to go. She already knew. Ironically it was Vanessa who struggled, much to Pyrrha's bemusement. The normally sure-footed champion looked positively harassed out there. He thought about rescuing her for a moment, then thought better of it. Pyrrha had her. There was always something you could learn from the younger generation.

Speaking of which...

A cloud of crimson petal burst through the door and nearly slapped him in the face.

Naruto quirked a brow. "Ruby, I've told you, you can't just come barreling in like that. You'll get hurt-

The little reaper took one look at him and latched onto his apron. "Yang is missing!"

His heart skipped a beat. "What?

"Yang?" Raven looked up from her seat, only to subside a moment later. "Meh," she waved a hand in dismissal not a moment later. "She's a big girl. She can take care of herself."

Ruby bridled. "How can you say that?! She's your-

-Daughter?" the Spring Maiden quirked a brow. "What of it? She hasn't used her "one time" yet. Besides, if she thought she was in any real danger I would've sensed-

"Hello, ladies and gentlemen!" the main door crashed open, drawing all eyes -and more than a few gasps- as Roman sauntered in. Neo was only a step behind.

Naruto couldn't quite conceal his smile. "Son. You look nice. Have you been eating well?"

"Urk." The master thief grunted. "Way to cramp my style, old man...but that's not why I'm here."

His pensive expression stole all the light and life from the room.

...what is it?"

"Look," Roman frowned, swallowed, smacked his lips, and did so again. "You have to realize I had nothing to do with this." when no one challenged him, he backed away half a step She still thinks I'm on her side...so...

He handed him a Scroll. No. Not him, realized. He pushed past, approaching Raven.

"I...I was told to give you this...

The Spring Maiden blinked, realizing there was an active call. "Hello?"

Raven lifted the Scroll to her ear. A soft voice came through distorted by a filter. Naruto's ear twitched.

"Meet me at this location. Come alone. Or the girl dies."

Pyrrha inhaled sharply.

Naruto swore. "Oh, shit. Rae, just calm down...

Raven inhaled. Exhaled. Slowly.

"Is that so?" she spoke into the scroll with ponderous grace, baring her teeth in an eerie smile. For an awful moment she reminded Naruto of a great black dragon, coiled over a vast horde of treasure. "You do realize you just signed your death warrant."


"People keep asking if I'm back." she spoke softly, the words a low contralto in the ensuing silence. "And I haven't really had an answer. I wanted to leave my old life behind. Be something better, you know?" she stood slowly, sending the chair spinning behind her. "I was tired of fighting a pointless battle in a pointless war." a hand flew to Omen's hilt, thumbing it free from its sheathe. "I wanted to prove something to myself. Prove that I could be better. But now?"

Her gaze rose, eyes gone to sinister scarlet slits burning with wrathful flames.

"I'm thinking I'm back." the Scroll creaked ominously in her grasp. "Now listen here, you little shit. Cinder, was it?"

...I have no idea who you're talking about."

"I am going to give you once chance. "Raven was having none of it. "Get your filthy mitts off my kid and give her back this instant or so help me...

"I don't think you understand-

"Of course I do!" Red eyes burned with unholy scarlet flames. "I understand that you're a flaming idiot with a death wish." cracks etched its way across the fragile screen. "Fine." she all but spat the word. "You had your chance. Now?" a low undertone etched its way into her voice, a sharp hiss that tore through the air. "YOU WILL DIE SCREAMING!"

She whirled and flung the scroll against a nearby wall. It shattered like brittle glass.

Silence fell through the bakery.

Roman found his voice first. "So, I'm just gonna go-

"Stay." Sapphire stabbed a finger at him. "You're going

"Someone needs to tell Tai." Naruto pinched the brow of his nose. "Preferably before he finds out on his own and freaks out."

...yeah, about that." a new voice chimed behind him. "I've been standing here for the last two minutes. Also. Got a bone to pick with you."

Ruby squeaked. "D-Dad? What're you doing?"

"Quiet, sweetie. Daddy's busy."

A tan hand closed around Naruto's shoulder and spun him around before he could think to escape. Blue eyes bulged, startled not only to find him only an arm's length away, but at what he found there. Blue eyes met blue, a face not unlike his own, taut and tight with anger. He felt the spark of negativity a moment before it happened. But he just. Couldn't. Move.

"Tai?" he frowned, trying to make sense of it all. "Wait just a minute, when did you get here-

His old riend didn't give a chance to speak. "Clench your teeth."

Scarred knuckles filled Naruto's vision.

Then his world became stars.

There was no pain. Even as everyone gasped, even as Raven sprang to her feet, even as his head snapped to the side with the impact, Naruto felt nothing at all. It was almost sad. He'd expected to feel...something. And he did. But it wasn't pain. His vision cleared and an ember of anger turned the world red. To his credit, he tried to keep calm. But it was impossible. Of all the times for this to happen, of all the scenarios he could've predicted...well. This wasn't one of them.

His temper slipped its leash.

"Alright." He straightened, looming over him. "Suppose I deserved that for putting Yang in danger." his eyes flashed. "My turn, now."

Taiyan swore. "Well, shi-

He never finished that sentence.

If that first punch from Taiyang had been blinding, Naruto's wasn't even visible. His right arm flickered and Ruby's father crashed backward, through a wall, then out into the yard. Customers scrambled for cover, for what little good it did them. He paid them no heed. Everyone was shouting, some were cheering, others crying out for him to stop. Naruto ignored them all and strode forward unto the breach. Raven latched onto his arm and he swept her aside. Ruby tugged at his leg and he blurred out of her grip.


Did not.

Have time for this.

Yang was in danger. Yang needed help. This was neither the time nor the place. But his anger persisted, driving him forward nonetheless. He'd tried to keep his distance from Taiyang. Tried to avoid this very scenario. For a time he'd succeeded. There was a reason he'd stayed away, a reason he had kept all this at bay for so long. And now, with one punch, all that came crashing down. Fine. Have it his way. He'd put an end to this nonsense once and for all, truth and consequences be damned.

"We both know that's not the reason you punched me."

Just outside, Taiyan stumbled upright. He turned his head aside and spat out a bloody tooth. "You know the real reason."

"Suppose I do. You're right." He began to roll up his sleeves. "This has been a long time coming between you and I. But you know what they say...

Gritting his teeth, he stormed out into the yard after him.

...real men talk with their fists."


Worry not, next chapter will explain everything.

I'm not entirely happy with this chapter, but I didn't want to put it off for another month. After all, I'm here to keep you all entertained, no?

As ever, reviews are my lifeblood. Without them, I cannot write.

So In the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Revieeeeew, Would You Kindly?

They keeps an old man alive.

And enjoy the previews.

As ever:




Get ready to smile~!

Obvious references are obvious~!

(POTENTIAL! Previews! What can I say? I've been busy.

Their fists collided.

And the earth. Ruptured.

Sapphire frowned at Nora. "You look familiar...

The grenadier wrinkled her nose and looked up at her. "So do you."

A beat of silence followed. And then.


Roman swore. "No. No, no, no. This is not happening. Tell me this ain't happening...!

Neo clapped gleefully.

Yang leaned back in her chair and grinned. "You're deeeaaad~!"

...hit her again."

The blond brawler only grinned. "Go ahead. See what happens."

Blake eyed the offered hand like a poisonous asp. "What do you want, Adam?"

...I am offering you a truce."

"A truce?! After what you've done?!"

"All that I've done has been for the good of the-

Her palm cracked across his face, snapping his head to the side.

She regretted her actions immediately; if only because his eyes flashed.

"I am TRYING to make amends, Blake." his voice emerged as a low growl. "Do not test me."

"Hey!" Naruto's head poked around the corner. "Now is NOT the time for this! Don't make me lock the two of you in a closet!"

A swirling red portal sliced through the air.

Raven stepped through.

"You've come to die."

Tyrian tittered softly. "Don't mind me. I'm here to...shake things up a little."

His stinger stabbed down.