Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Final Fantasy VII Remake
Naruto belongs to Kishimoto Masashi
Final Fantasy VII Remake belongs to Square Enix
Beta: Godospartan the Kitsune
Author's note: "So before anything, I'm going to say this. This version of Naruto is NOT (I REPEAT, NOT) from the Canon. This Naruto is from a variation of Shoton of Konoha. But with having several differences compared to that Fic. If you don't read that story, that's kewl, but if you want some references, go check it out."
(M) Mature story
Chapter 1: Gaia: εγλ 0005
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A long and deep gasp escaped his mouth as his lungs were sucking in as much oxygen as possible. Cognitive function soon had begun to react, which was met by intense pain and soreness throughout his body. Everything felt like burning needles ravaging his being, from his nerves to his muscles.
Coughing, his eyes opened only to be shut by intense brightness. "I suggest taking it slow, brat," who would have ever guessed hearing the voice of his surly vulpine partner would bring a sense of calm?
Feeling himself lying on dirt and rock, a twenty-two-year-old Naruto Uzumaki followed his partner and friend's advice. "Who the hell was that?" His voice sounded like sandpaper like he had not spoken in centuries.
"We can deal with that once we know what exactly happened to us." The pain was finally ebbing away from the blond's body. His breathing, while ragged, was slightly more steady than it was. "Now try opening your eyes."
With a grunt, the blond's eyelids slowly opened as he saw a clear sky above him. "That…Can't be right?" Not where they had been when they had finally confronted him. His teeth gashed as he painfully sat up to find himself in a crater. The ground might as well have been salt as it had dug into the numerous open wounds of his bare upper torso. His shirt had been torn apart from the ensuing battle to settle an old debt and avenged the death of his friend.
And then… She appeared…Those eyes and that smile of pure utter-
"Focus, Naruto," Kurama reproached as he heard his partner's thoughts. "Let's get out of this hole and figure out what to do next."
Easier said than done as his body protested from even the slightest movement. The blond hissed, attempting to stand but falling onto his backside. Standing presently was no option for him. He could be on his hands and knees with agonizing and labored maneuvering. That alone sent a wave of exhaustion in his already tied form. He gazed at the small trek he needed to climb out.
"Wish I had a soldier pill right now," He muttered as he began crawling. His fingers dug into the soil with a pained growl as he inched slowly upwards. Once more, his teeth gnashed in exhaustion and discomfort, sweat dripping off his forehead. "I am not about to die in some fucking hole," the blond snarled out.
His muscles protested with every action, but he ignored them as he reached the top of the crater. Then, finally, what came to his vision made his eyes widen considerably—stretched out before he was a barren mountainous region: nothing but mountains and cliffs mixed with desolate open areas.
And no place in the blond Uzumaki's mind resembled anything like this. "Where are we, Kurama?"
His Bijuu comrade did not respond because he was just as lost.
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The sun glared high in the skies, baking the ground below with unforgiving heat. Sweat dripped from Naruto's face as he dragged his feet forward. Even in the shade, it was freaking hot! Still, what relief he got, he took as he moved forward.
His destination, he had zero clues.
Never mind the fact he was running on sheer exhaustion. Even while Kurama's chakra mended his more grievous wounds, the rest were still quite a horrid sight to anyone sane. Having no water or food at present did not help his situation in any way. And by the looks, there was no water or animal to hunt anywhere.
Sitting on a small boulder, his eyes gaze out from his momentary shaded haven. "Something…Feels off here."
"Bout time you noticed too." Naruto turned his head to the sight of Kurama appearing in front of him, the size of a large dog. "We have roamed this wasteland for an hour. But what is missing?" He gave a question to his partner.
The blond gazed back out; "I don't feel any life here."
"Exactly, even a desert has some form of life about it." The Kitsune shifted his head; "But there is nothing…."
As a sage, his senses had become fully in tune with the ebb and flow of nature. Naruto could feel the life force from rocks to even a blade of grass. But no grass could be seen or felt for miles. And all the stones around him and Kurama felt…dead.
"This place is…Wrong…" Naruto muttered in partial exhaustion.
Kurama glanced over at him; "Think you're up for more walking?"
"Better than staying here and dying," The blond hissed as he got back to his feet; "There has to be something around here."
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At first, he thought it was a mirage, or he was going insane from the heat and seeing things. But sure enough, there was a structure off in the distance. The closer he got, the bigger it grew, and grew, and grew. A city in the middle of nowhere? Moreover, the sheer size of it was utterly massive.
The more he drew closer, the more he saw a towering wall of pure cement. And far above that, a giant plate? His feet dragged on the ground as he felt his energy draining more and more. His breathing was ragged, nearing the enormous wall. And perhaps whoever built this ridiculous plate should be aware of its structural cracks. Big enough for people or animals (if there were any) to get in.
Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, the blond stumbled through the crack in the wall. What greeted him on the other side were mountains of scrap metal, old ruined buildings, and houses made of whatever someone could find—a shanty town in every way one could describe.
His breathing had grown more labored. He was nearly stumbling, with his vision growing from dark to light. The last thing he recalled was his strength fading and hitting the ground at the steps of a church. The sound of its doors opened before darkness took him.
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"You think he will ever wake up?"
"He looked like he had just fought five Behemoths, dummy! How is he even alive?!"
It was the voices of children that stirred him from the void. But it sounded muffled and reverberated as if his ears were plugged up by something. By the gods, did he feel sore as hell; was he lying on a bed? The damn thing was lumpy as hell. A loud gasp came from one of the kids; "He's waking up," a little girl's voice exclaimed.
"Hurry, go get the doctor!" the voice of a young boy came next as he heard the shuffling of feet running away.
'Okay…We found people.' Naruto mentally mused before opening his eyes. Everything was blurry and unfocused for a moment before restoring itself. And found he was gazing up at a worn cement ceiling. That was his thought until he turned his head to see the room he was in was about as makeshift as possible. His cerulean blues took in every aspect of the room, which was supposed to be a patient's room in a hospital. From the bed he lay on, a dresser (Which had his scrolls and katana lay on top of it), a chair, and other items in the room all looked ragged and aged. The door to the room was ajar, where the kids likely were.
Still, the room was clean, but there was a glaring question; 'Where the hell are we?' A sore grunt came from the blond as he sat up despite his body's protest.
Kurama remained silent for a moment. "Your guess is as good as mine."
Gazing at himself, the blond saw his upper torso shirtless, wearing a pair of stiff sweatpants, and heavily bandaged. Touching his head, he felt bandages there as well. His cerulean orbs shifted as he heard footsteps coming; "Children, you have to calm yourselves! This is a hospital!" The aged voice of an older man spoke in a rushed tone.
"But that strange guy with the whiskers is waking up!"
Soon the door of his current room opened fully, and Naruto was greeted by the sight of the two kids at his door earlier dressed in simple clothes. Following them was the doctor, if his long white coat over his suit wasn't a dead giveaway. The man looked in his forties with short black hair, a stubble face, and glasses.
"See, he woke up!" the little girl cheered as she pointed to the blond, who snorted.
"I can see that, Emily; why don't you and Caleb go head back to the Leaf House so I can check on my patient." He patted their heads.
The boy Caleb saluted, "Yes, sir!" both children soon ran out of the room; "We should go tell Aerith and Kyrie!"
A long sigh escaped the doctor as he deadpanned before giving the blond a welcoming grin; "Sorry about that. Glad to see you awake young man."
"Same here, doc," Naruto grunted, scratching his hair; "Where am I exactly?"
"Mercy Clinic. You have been unconscious for at least five days."
At that, the blond gawked; "Five days!" he groaned sorely after exclaiming.
The doctor nodded as he strolled over to his patient. "Honestly, from all those wounds and dehydration, it is amazing you survived."
"Count myself lucky, I suppose," the blond chuckled weakly before coughing. "Got any water by chance?"
The doctor walked to the shelf beside the bed where a pitcher and glass sat. Filling up the glass, he handed it to the blond; "Drink it slowly." Giving a thumbs up, Uzumaki lifted the glass to his lips. He grimaced only slightly. "Sorry, even with the filters, the water in the slums can be nasty."
How he said, it got the doctor's attention; "The sector five slums of Midgar." His statement was met with a blank look from the blond; "Capitol of Gaia?" Once more, there was no reaction save confusion from his patient. "Hmm, the heat and your injuries might have caused some amnesia."
At that, the blond was about to protest till his partner was quick to speak up; "We could use that as an advantage to know where we are. Better to play along, kit."
Naruto let out a grunt scratching the back of his head; "Sorry, doc, guess my head took quite the hit."
"Luckily, you had no brain damage when I looked you over. Amnesia was the best thing compared to anything else." The doctor reasoned, "Let us see what you do remember. How about… Your name?"
"Age and when you were born?"
"Twenty-two and was born October 10th."
The doctor gave the nod; "well, we can be grateful you know who you are. My name is Isaac Cooper, but everyone in the slums calls me Doc." He paused for a moment; "Might I ask, do you recall how you got so badly hurt before you collapsed at the church?"
"Payback…For a late friend;" Naruto's voice grew reserved as he gazed up at the ceiling.
Doc Isaac gave a look of understanding; "I won't pry on personal matters."
"Thanks," Naruto nodded; "Uh, can I ask how I was brought here?"
"Ah, you were brought to the clinic by Aerith and Kyrie. Both dragged you back all the way here to the slums proper." Doc Isaac grinned; "Glad those two became friends again over whatever it was that got between them."
Filing that mental note, the blond glanced to the dresser; "Take it my scrolls and sword were all that made it?"
"Indeed, your clothes were too badly torn up; Aerith looked for what she could for you." The older man paused; "Like to move around for a bit?" the blond nodded eagerly; "Let me look over your wounds, and let's see from there. With those scrolls and that sword, gather you're from Wutai. A ninja?"
"Retired ninja. Now just a Sage."
Surprised shone in the good doctor's eyes, "Really now. Hmm, interesting choice of professions, young man." He leaned in with a guarded expression; "I recommend not announcing your former career in Midgar. Ceasefire or no, there are still tensions between your people and Shinra. And the residents here get on edge mentioning Wutai."
"Noted…" Naruto nodded back. Now he just had to figure out who Shinra and Wutai were.
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The blond Uzumaki groaned as he walked down the clinic hall with sheathed katana in hand and scrolls in his sweatpants pockets. Doc Isaac was more than a little shocked to find all of his patients' wounds had miraculously healed up. Naruto shrugged it off, stating he was always a quick healer, which wasn't a complete lie. After putting on a plain t-shirt and his sandals after removing the bandages, the excellent doctor directed him to the front door while he tended to his other patients.
Compared to most sterile and bland-looking hospitals Naruto has been in, this one looked rather homey. From chairs, sofas, tables, televisions, a jukebox, and shelves with books, least people could pass the time and not go stir-crazy.
'So what do you think, partner?'
"Let's save the questions until we get outside."
Grunting back, the blond finally came to the large wooden doors that led outside. Taking a sizeable deep breath, he opened the door. What his eyes took in was a large stone building resembling a factory. But by gathering people inside and outside conversing and eating, the place was likely converted into something else. The multiple tables, chairs, and flowers he could see through the window were a dead giveaway.
Further connected, an ascending hill looked like another building turned into a school. Or maybe it was an orphanage with all the kids from the ages of toddlers to twelve roaming around, playing or learning from the adults around them.
Next to both large buildings and even Mercy Clinics were a slew of makeshift shanty buildings put together by whatever anyone could find. Densely packed together and even on top of each other, not even Nami no Kuni looked like this. It was like a village in the middle of a scrapyard.
However, his attention was soon brought up, up, and up till he felt his neck hurt but ignored it as shock etched on his widening eyes. Metal, nothing but metal as far the eyes could see. "What in the hell," the blond muttered slowly.
"It is a lot to take in, isn't it?" But then, a soft lyrical feminine voice broke his thoughts. "Glad to see you are all better."
"Do you know how hard it was carrying you back up here, was buster."
Another female voice spoke, making the blond look down to see two ladies (One near his age and the other in her mid-teens) walking towards him. One was a beautiful brunette with fair skin in a pink camisole sundress that went down to her calves and a pair of sandals. While the skirt was free-flowing, her dress hugged her lithe hourglass frame. Her waist-long light brown hair is plaited with a large pink ribbon with segmented bangs framing her heart-shaped face. Her emerald eyes rivaled Sakura's jade as they showed compassion and relief.
The teenage girl beside her wore hot jean pants with mid-heel boots. A black midriff cross halter crop top shows her generous bust and flat stomach. A cap adorned her head over her long raven-colored hair. Her strikingly brown-colored eyes lightly glared as she crossed her arms under her chest; "I should charge you a hundred Gil each for Aerith here and me. You were super heavy dragging to Doc Isaac's clinic."
The blond scratched the back of his head; "Sorry for the trouble."
Whatever Kyrie was about to say was cut off by her friend; "No trouble at all. Though you looked like you had fought in an all-out war with over a dozen monsters."
"It felt like it," Naruto lamented as he stretched, still feeling the soreness in his limbs. "Naruto Uzumaki."
"Aerith Gainsborough," the brunette gestured to herself before to her younger friend; "This is Kyrie Canaan. Happy to finally have the name of the handsome unconscious guy we brought here." Aerith gave a smile with her hands behind her back.
Kyrie half-heartedly grumbled, "Guess I can let you off easy since you were so badly wounded. But only just this once." She pointed a semi-stern finger at the tall blond.
Aerith leaned a bit forward; "Bet you're hungry after resting for so long." It was at that the tall blond's stomach let out what sounded like a primal roar so loud a few people around them heard and turned their heads. The brunette giggled; "I take that as a yes."
A mild blush came from the young sage, who chuckled sheepishly, "Just a little bit." Then, before he could blink, Aerith reached out, grabbing his free hand and pulling him forward with some decent amount of strength.
"Then I know the perfect place! Come on, Kyrie!" The blond couldn't get a word in before being pulled away by the petite brunette. Kyrie only let out a nasal sigh before following. "Mom makes the best food in Midgar!"
"While her daughter can't even cook eggs," Kyrie quipped in amusement.
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Going up the dirt hill between the Community center and Leaf House orphanage (As Aerith explained), the trio walked through a long dirt path. Some areas were shaded by extended roofs of old buildings with old and broken construction vehicles, along with old cars and trucks Naruto had seen in more modernized areas of the Nation and beyond it. Finally, the blond noticed a metal gate connected to a large open area on their right.
"This place is run down," Naruto quipped.
Kyrie snorted; "Welcome to the slums of Midgar, blondie."
Nearing the end of the path, they come to a shanty-looking wooden stairway that leads into what Naruto could describe as a beautiful hidden grotto. Unlike the dry, dusty ground they treaded, this place was a lush and vibrant landscape with a waterfall flowing to a beautiful lake in the center. On either side of the water was lush green with various flowers and plants with old rusted metal reclaimed by nature. Both sides were connected to two wooden bridges. Both sides had a stone pathway with a more hillside on the right with a lamp.
And on the left resided a large but straightforward three-story cottage with a rose-colored roof.
Going down the stairs, Aerith gestured with a smile, "And here is my home. What do you think?"
The young sage took in a deep breath closing his eyes. Unlike on the other side of the tunnel, he could feel a faint bit of nature chakra flowing here. "A lovely place," he opened his eyes, offering a grin.
"Your mom should be back, right?" Kyrie questioned with a cocked brow.
"Yup, definitely getting lunch ready by now."
The blond said nothing as he followed the girls to the cottage. Coming up to the porch, he saw numerous empty pots and other supplies needed for a florist. Hanging around Ino a lot, he was glad he least knew what everything was. "So, who has the green thumb?"
"Aerith," Kyrie quipped; "She also does part-time at the diner and orphanage here. She likes being busy, busy, busy." She droned, earning a stuck-out tongue from the emerald-eyed brunette before she opened the front double doors.
The trio enters a modest dining room with several varying-sized cabinets with pictures and flowers adorning them. A simple television on a stand, and in the middle is a large round table with several chairs. Hanging above it all is a simple chandelier lighting the room. Connected to the dining room was a flight of stairs and the kitchen to the right.
In the kitchen was a woman in her mid-years with light brunette hair up in a bun. She wore a green dress (With the sleeves pulled up) and a white apron, working at the sink. "We're home, mom!" Aerith's voice made the woman turn with a smile.
"Home for lunch, hello Kyrie," she questions in an aged feminine voice. His smile grew more neutral at the sight of Naruto walking in behind her daughter and her friend. "And you would be?" Her sapphire eyes glanced at the sword in his hand and back to his face.
"This is Naruto Uzumaki," Aerith gestured to the tall blond.
Kyrie finished; "The guy me and Aerith had to carry to doc Isaac's days ago."
Recognition glowed in the older woman's eyes; "So you're the man I kept hearing about. By what everyone was saying, nobody was sure you'd make it with how you looked like you fought a Behemoth."
"My cousin Karin always said I was too stubborn to die," Naruto mused with a chuckle.
"Well, I am glad she was right, and you're up," Aerith's mother gave a pleasant nod; "Call me Elmyra, I am guessing my daughter and Kyrie dragged you here for food?"
"Mom," said the daughter, groaned, embarrassed.
The young sage rubbed the back of his head; "Sorry if I'm imposing, ma'am."
Elmyra waved it off; "it's fine; take a seat at the table. Just put that sword up somewhere." The blond nodded as he walked over to a cabinet, placing down his katana. "From that blade, I gather you're a ninja." the older woman asked as she returned to the sink.
"Retired ninja." Naruto clarified as he took a seat at the table with Aerith and Kyrie
"So what are you now?" Aerith asked, crossing her arms on the tabletop.
"I'm a sage."
Kyrie, Aerith, and even Elmyra paused for a moment with a glance from the older woman. "I thought sages were nasty old men with long thick beards and perv on girls?" Kyrie remarked.
A deadpan came from the blond; "No." Well, not all of them, at least.
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"Honey, are you alright?" Elmyra's voice broke her daughter's thoughts as she turned to her; "You hardly ate anything."
Blinking before realizing she had not touched her food. A smile graced Aerith's lips shaking her head; "I'm okay, just spaced out." Her mother's head and brow cocked as her daughter began eating earnestly.
That was what the planet kept referring to the blond who was currently sitting with Aerith, her mother, and Kyrie at her dinner table. The emerald-eyed brunette observed him as he lightly conversed with her mother and her friend. Naruto stood around the same height as Zack but with broader shoulders and a much more muscular-toned frame. Tan-skinned with spiky sun-kissed blond hair, which was long in the back and a low ponytail going down to his shoulder blades. His face was round with vibrant cerulean blue orbs, which moved from her mother and Kyrie when asking questions.
Unlike Zack, Naruto was a rough kind of handsome than the dashing hero type.
"So…" Kyrie leaned in a bit, garnering Naruto's attention; "Why quit being a Ninja?
"Don't beat around the bush, do ya?" The blond dryly retorted.
Elmyra gave the young teen a reprimanding gaze; "Kyrie."
"What? We're all curious, aren't we?" the raven-haired girl pressed; "You don't see many from Wutai come around these parts, you know. And I thought you never quit being a ninja in Wutai."
"Shouldn't personal questions come after knowing someone for a bit?" Aerith questioned.
The blond scratched the back of his head; "Well," the ladies turned to him, "You can choose to be a ninja or not. My clan helped me find a better life choice and became a sage, like my great-grandmother." Now, he had zero clue how this Wutai handles their Shinobi, but he'd least give how Konohagakure does it to satisfy their curiosity about him becoming a sage. He had just met these people. As grateful as he was, he wasn't about to tell his life story to strangers.
He damn sure wasn't the same idiot he used to be as a brat.
"Maybe you might believe that one day if you keep chanting about it."
Ignoring his Bijuu companion, he noticed Elmyra in thought; "About the only sages I heard about is from Cosmo Canyon. But I can guess you're not the planetary studying type."
"Nope." The blond took a drink of water.
Aerith's eyes gleamed with curiosity; "So what do you do?"
"Slay evil monsters and demons, beat up bad guys, and protect nature and people."
"Sounds more like a mercenary than a sage," Kyrie remarked.
He did charge for his services, but only those he knew could afford them. Poor villages and towns he helped for free. Satisfying his hero complex, Karin, Sakura, and Ino like to gripe at him.
Touching her mouth with a napkin, Elmyra gave the tall blond a look; "So what will you be doing now?"
At that, Naruto scratched his head; "Figure out how I got here, I guess. Find work while I am at it."
"Ding dong here also has amnesia." Kyrie thumbed to the Uzumaki, "Doesn't even know about Midgar."
"I would like to see how your head would be after going through what you told me he survived," Elmyra reproached in a motherly manner.
"He can stay with us!" Aerith spoke brightly, garnering stares from the others; "What?"
Naruto squinted and responded, "While I appreciate the gesture. I don't think your mom would want some random guy living in her house."
"No, she wouldn't." Elmyra deadpanned at her daughter.
"Any hotel around here?"
Kyrie thought for a moment, "In wall-Market."
"But I wouldn't recommend those," Aerith addressed before tapping her chin; "The community center doesn't have any beds either…." Her voice trailed off. "Well, I am pretty sure we can find somewhere for you. I can even give you a tour of Sector five slums."
"O...Kay." the blond said slowly.
"Perfect! We can take a look after lunch!" Both Kyrie and Elmyra gave Aerith an odd look as the brunette cheered
'Feel like I am getting dragged into something.'
"When it involves females, yes."
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Once finishing their lunch, Aerith quickly took the older blond out and gave him a tour of sector 5. With a hurried goodbye and thank you to Elmyra, Naruto found himself nearly being dragged around by the shorter woman away from her home. Kyrie had split off from them, having said she would check on her grandmother.
Now several things Naruto had learned with Aerith being his tour guide of the sector five slums. One, Aerith is a comprehensive guide that blond not only knew where all the shops and restaurants she part-timed at. But also became acquainted with all the owners by name for whom Aerith knew and was friendly. Two, the young brunette seemingly had no sense of personal boundaries as she had wrapped one of her arms around his while showing off where she lived.
This led to a few awkward comments from some folks passing by. However, he swore she was doing this on purpose if that sly smirk on her lips was any indication.
Both were sitting on the lone bench in the middle of town while people roamed about the market. A shantytown was a rather good analogy for the slums, having now taken a gander at the entire area. Every building, from shops to houses, was makeshift, former buildings rebuilt, or even vehicles remade for something else—pipes, from small to large, connected to buildings or were embedded into the ground. And finally, above it was an enormous television screen showing the daily news.
"Well," Aerith let out a deep breath leaning against the bench, "I think I showed you around everywhere and to everyone."
"And half the folks here think I'm your new boyfriend," Naruto deadpans at her.
"The best way to show people here you're alright."
"Which involves hanging on a total stranger's arm?"
"Yup," Aerith chirped brightly with a smile.
'She reminds me of Ino.' The blond shook his head; "Well, definitely a lively place. Doubt it's easy to down here compared to up there, I'd imagine;" He pointed upwards.
"Life can be harsh down here, with all the monsters and bandits. But folks in the slums are a tough and stubborn bunch." Her gaze turned towards the upper plate; "Some people may hate it, but I don't…."
Naruto's brow cocked, observing the brunette before peering over at the enormous tower-like structure connected to the upper plates. Mako reactor Aerith called them, and everything about them felt beyond wrong.
Om Namah Shivaya~ Om… Namah Shiva~
The blond's ears perked as they heard chanting close by. Aerith took notice of her new acquaintance standing up and began walking, to which she quickly followed behind. The two strolled through one of the cramp allies to a makeshift open building that resembled a church or temple. Adults and children are either kneeling or sitting on the ground or on blankets near an altar lit with candles and incense. The altar's centerpiece was a modest statue of a beautiful elven woman with blue skin and long hair in a high ponytail.
"Ah," Aerith stopped beside the blond who observed; "Have you heard of the ice goddess Lady Shiva?"
XxX ~ xx ~ XxX
Naruto and Aerith stood at the closed garage door. The blond lifts, revealing an enormous high, fenced area with a large abandoned cement warehouse building. "Someone used to live here?" the former Shinobi questioned as they walked inside.
"About a few years ago," the brunette thought for a moment, "Told some of us he was heading to Cosmo Canyon. No idea if he got there, though."
Nearing the factory's large sliding metal door, Aerith grabbed hold of the handle and pulled with some effort. The blond winced from a cry of grinding metal as the door opened. The interior was covered with dust from the bottom floor to the steel/cement mezzanine floor above it. The former resident of the place left everything as it was before leaving. From a metal table with chairs, a couch, a pool table, and other assorted furniture items to make the place feel homey-ish. Close by that was a makeshift kitchen/grill.
"Least the couch looks decent enough," Naruto mumbled as they strolled over.
Placing two fingers on the table, Aerith frowned, seeing all the dust on her tips; "Might need a bit of cleaning."
'You think,' Naruto and Kurama mentally chorused as the blond neared an enclosed room, likely a former business office. Sure enough, this was the guy's makeshift bedroom, complete with a dresser, nightstand, and a nasty look mattress that Naruto wouldn't let his worst enemy sleep on. It had no bed frame and simply rested on the ground. Coming over to the bedside, the blond and Aerith cringed at the sight of the mattress; "Know anyone with an extra bed and maybe a frame, so I'm not living like a caveman?"
XxX ~ xx ~ XxX
Night settled in as the blond lay down on a new mattress courtesy of Doc Isaac, who also had a frame to go along with it. Having Bid farewell to Aerith, Naruto found the main turning the power back on. Thanks to the lights, he found the bathroom and shower the guy had made for himself. Deciding to clean the place tomorrow, his katana rested on the nightstand with his scrolls.
His eyes stared at the ceiling fan as Kurama manifested outside him; "Now that we got some privacy. What the hell is going on?" Naruto questioned as his vulpine partner leaped onto the bed.
The vulpine Bijuu remained quiet as he sat down. "Recall those tales about other realms and dimensions from that body-less idiot and perverted mage."
"Those two have names, you know," Naruto deadpans.
Kurama ignored his partner and kept talking; "Well, apparently, we got sent to another dimension."
Those words did not hit the blond for a moment before he sat up in his bed in a flash. Kurama saw the unparalleled shock etched on Naruto's cerulean eyes; "W-w-we…What…How?"
"That insane madwoman, that's how idiot." Kurama dryly glared; "Likely waited after we finally brought down that wretched dark sorcerer and his revenants. Avenging your Uchiha 'friend', and when the others left to look around, she came for us."
It took years after the Occult War, but Konoha and the rebuilt Uzushio could locate the sole surviving member of that blasted group. The man who killed Sasuke and took his eyes for himself was cornered at his island fortress. Naruto, Karin, Kakashi, Sakura, and Itachi faced the ancient and powerful sorcerer Zu Zhang and his undead and demons.
It was anything but easy and damn near killed half of them, but they won in the end. It was closing a very dark chapter of history, avenging their late friend and brother.
Then she appeared; "Was she another survivor of that damn cult?"
"I highly doubt it. If they had her, that damn war would have taken a bad turn for us." Kurama shook his head.
Point taken; "How do we get back home? Can you do it?"
"As much as I love bragging, even I have limits, Naruto. Dimensional traveling outside our reality is not very easy and requires immense power and arcane knowledge. So we're stuck unless you get lucky and find a God roaming around here."
Naruto stared at his vulpine friend for a moment before shaking his head; "There has to be a way back home. We can find it…." The one thing that the blond never really outgrew was that annoying stubbornness.
As much as Kurama wanted to protest, he knew he couldn't stop Naruto from trying to find some way back home to their world. But unfortunately, the ancient Bijuu knew how difficult finding such things would be slim to non-existent.
Well, suppose it was better than doing nothing.
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As the morning sun rose over Midgar, Aerith and Kyrie made their way toward Naruto's new home. "Which is conveniently near your house," the teen girl dryly quipped.
"Better for him to know where a friendly face is."
Kyrie gave a knowing look; "And he being pure eye-candy had nothing to do with it?"
"Maybe~" the older brunette put her hands behind her back, skipping ahead.
An eye roll came from the raven-haired girl as her friend lifted the garage door to the warehouse. Both noted the building's sliding door was open, as the lights were on the inside. Entering, they found the place had been thoroughly cleaned and dusted from top to bottom. From the furniture to the rafter lights, everything looked utterly spotless.
However, the girl's eyes were not focused on their surroundings. But their blond acquaintance was currently performing pull-ups on a bar connected to the mezzanine, "Sup!" he grunted out as he kept exercising.
And he just happened to be shirtless while sweating. So Aerith's and Kyrie's eyes took in every detail of the older blond's ripped and toned muscles, his biceps that looked larger than their heads, and the eight digits that were his abs.
They had seen his upper torso when they had found him outside the church. But their main concern was his survival at the time than gawking. Now that Naruto was healthy and conscious, both ladies were taking in the view of the impressive male specimen before them.
Doing one last rep, the blond dropped down to the floor. His brow rose as he noticed Aerith and Kyrie had only been staring; "You guys okay?"
"Yes," Aerith quickly responded as she blinked several times. "We are, aren't we, Kyrie."
Her longtime friend robotically nodded while her thighs rubbed hard against one another.
The blond shrugged as he went over to the table, picking up a towel. Emerald and almond eyes followed his every movement. Aerith noticed several tattoos; two on his right upper bicep and a large one covering his back. On the bicep was a unique wild tribal swirl symbol in red with a Wutai 'kanji' word below. Very simple but likely held importance to the blond. What showed on his back were three very intimidating-looking Wutai-style serpentine dragons (left being brown scaled, right being green, and the center ruby red), which all roared.
"Hey," Kyrie's voice broke her thoughts; "You worship Lady Shiva?"
The question caught the brunette by surprise before she noticed a final tattoo hiding under Naruto's ponytail and on the back of his neck. The blade part of a trident is connected to three horizontal lines, which have a circle in the middle of them—one of the two symbols related to the ice goddess.
"My clan believes in Shiva, though I'm not overly religious. But do believe in the Gods."
So he got it out of respect for his clan's beliefs.
Both ladies bit back a whine of disappointment when Naruto put on his shirt; "Figured I'd head to that restaurant you showed me for breakfast."
"Do you have any Gil actually to pay for it?" Kyrie's question was met with a blank expression from the tall blond; "Oh come on, how bad is that amnesia of yours that you forgot what Gaia's currency is!?"
A weak chuckle escaped the blond as he scratched the back of his head.
"Luckily, I have plenty of Gil to buy us some breakfast," Aerith spoke up quickly with a wink.
"Sorry for all the trouble," Naruto muttered.
The flower girl waved it off; "Not trouble when it is for a new friend."
Friend eh? The young sage could get behind that.
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"Now, are we fully caught up in the understanding of Gil, Mr. Uzumaki," Kyrie quipped as she held up two small gold and silver coins in her fingers.
The driest of gazes bore on the blond's eyes as he deadpans at the teen; "Crystal clear, Ms. Canaan." Well, on the plus side, this Gil was like Ryō back home.
Aerith let out a soft chuckle; "If there is anyone in the slums who knows Gil, it's Kyrie."
At present, the trio sat at one of the tables of the small diner where the brunette worked from time to time. To the blonde's surprise, the owner gave the meal on the house, At least this one time. So all three happily chowed down on breakfast while Kyrie had been giving the blond 'lessons' on money.
Absently the blond Uzumaki saw Aerith looking at his sheathed katana on the tabletop beside him. "Does my sword bother you?"
"Nope, my ex-boyfriend also had one."
Kyrie's lips formed a sly smirk; "it was his other sword she liked playing around with." Aerith's cheeks turned a bright scarlet before sending a heated look at her friend, who grinned back.
"Are you just jealous you're still a virgin," Aerith playfully inquired.
"Oh, shut up!" Kyrie's cheeks now turned scarlet while her friend giggled at her expense.
Amusement danced on Naruto's face; "I take it you two like to bicker a lot."
"Pretty much," both girls chorused, which made the sage chuckle.
"You'd like to know anything about my katana?"
The flower girl cocked her head; "Where did you get it?"
"It was a gift from my cousin Benjiro. He made it once our clan had reformed;."
The sheath was a beautiful black and red-colored wood with dragons carved into it and that swirl symbol at the top near the ornate dragon guard. The hilt had leather instead of cloth wrapped around it up to the pommel. While putting down his fork, the blond takes his sword and grabs its hilt with his free hand. Then, slightly unsheathing the blade, both ladies saw metal that was as black as night.
"Ebony, a scarce metal my Aunt Lyn had just enough for Benjiro to make this for me;" Sheathing in back, he puts it back on the table to resume eating.
Something he said had caught Aerith's attention; "Your clan reformed?"
"That's… It is a long story and a bit personal." Naruto gave the brunette an apologetic look. His expression changed as several men and women in regular clothes carrying firearms walked past. "You sure it wasn't Pete being drunk again," one of the women dryly asked.
A man shrugged; "Better to be safe than sorry, right?"
The blond watched the small group leave as he looked back to the girls; "So who are they?"
"The Watch, they look after the Slums taking care of bandits, monsters, helping folks around, and other stuff," Kyrie addressed, eating into her pancakes.
"…Shinra doesn't look after the folks down here?"
"You heard the expression out of sight, out of mind?" Aerith answered his question with one of her own.
He picked up on the meaning; Shinra has little time for those below their city in the sky.
As the morning pressed on, their casual day ended with a loud explosion jolting everyone at the diner. Soon screams followed as people ran from the main dirt road in a panic.
"Bandits! They killed the watch members!"
Both Aerith and Kyrie tensed up as Naruto's gaze grew sharp. "They got two old Shinra Sweeper mechs!"
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Neither Aerith nor Kyrie saw Naruto leave his seat, but the blond was already running down the path with his katana. When they got from their seats and began to follow, the blond had turned to the main dirt path. Rounding the corner, the blond saw several people hurt or dead by an explosion that went off seconds ago.
Near the towering gates of sector 5 was the reason. A dozen or so men dressed in rough leathers and all wore veiled clothed masks, all held either a blade or gun in their hands. At the head of the group was a tall man in the best gear of the bunch holding a bat with barbed wire wrapped around it.
Behind the thugs were two robots that towered over people; both looked like the shaft of a train engine with a grill at the front—exhaust pipes at the back with large weapon arms and legs with sharp-pointed feet.
Aerith and Kyrie turned the corner; "Who runs INTO danger!?" the teen girl huffed before coming to a stop along with her longtime friend. Both ladies gasped at the bodies near the gate.
"HAH!" the leader, as Naruto guessed, laughed; "Neighborhood Watch isn't nothing compared to real firepower! This sector is as good as ours!" His men cheered and howled with their boss.
Griping his katana tightly, Aerith came to the Uzumaki's side; "Those mechs are Sweepers. They can mow down anything in their path.."
"How'd those idiots get them working," Kyrie hissed out on the blond's other side.
The young sage did not speak as he kept his gaze on the thugs and their mechs. Their presence was soon noticed as a thug pointed; "Hey, boss looks like we missed some more."
A whistle came from the leader; "Well, look at those lovely looking ladies" Aerith and Kyrie felt their skins crawl as they felt the hungry eyes of the thugs leering at them. "Oh yeah, we will have some fun tonight, boys!" The man pointed his bat at Naruto; "We don't need you, thou-" His words ended as the blond vanished.
The blond had disappeared in a single blink of an eye.
"Where are you looking?" the thug's heads nearly snapped as they all turned around, seeing the watchman standing on one of their Sweepers. On the one hand, they saw the sheath of a sword, while the said weapon was on the other. Their eyes shone with awe at the blade made of pure midnight metal.
Neither Aerith nor Kyrie had seen their new friend seen move. How did he… The flower girl felt a cold shiver down her spine as she saw the blond's cold gaze at the thugs.
"Now your toys are gone." The blond spoke in a frigid tone.
"Huh, the hell you talking about punk?!" the leader yelled, mustering up what little courage he had as those shadow-covered cerulean eyes bore him. At that moment, everyone heard electrical buzzing. The noise they found came from the sweepers, which began to jerk and glitch where they stood.
Soon Naruto vanished once more as both mechs split in half, and their sides collapsed to the ground. Now the blond had reappeared in front of the leader. It was Aerith who noticed something dripping off his sword. "What now, boss?" the blond questioned as the thugs all turned.
The moment they did, both girls gasped as blood sprayed from fatal cuts on their bodies. Their lifeless forms fell to the ground as Naruto swirled his sword to fling away the blood and sheathed his blade.
Only the leader of the thugs stood alive. Fear gripped him as his eyes were wide, his body trembling. Cold and calm cerulean orbs gazed back at him; "Your men and your toys are gone, boss; what do you have left?"
At these moments of intense emotional stress, the fight or flight mode kicks in within a person. And rationality flew out the window as the man charged Naruto with his bat raised. Instead, he screamed in a pure animalistic battle cry as he swung downward.
All he struck was air before a glowing blue ball slammed into his chest, and pain overtook him.
"Rasengan," Naruto roared as he struck the man with his father's prized jutsu. He flew like a cannonball, spinning through the air helplessly till he crashed into one of the derelict machines outside the slum gates. The thug leader's body was mangled and lifeless, with a large hole where his heart used to be.
And behind him, Aerith and Kyrie had only observed in stunned silence. In barely a minute, Naruto had dispatched a gang of thugs and Sweeper mechs like they were nothing!
A long sigh escaped the blond as he turned and peered at his new friends. "Sorry that you guys had to see that," Aerith saw the warmth had returned to his eyes as he looked at them.
Her mouth opened and closed a few times before Kyrie could finally speak; "that was so badass! You took down those thugs like they were amateurs."
"Now you're just insulting amateurs, and I've met beginners with better skill than these ass clowns." The blond snorted before walking back to them. "Does something like this happen a lot?"
"Not something this bold," Aerith remarked quietly; "the slums have always been dangerous, and the Neighborhood Watch has kept things safe as best they can." Her gaze turned to the gate; "This was something new."
"Well, that was nipped in the bud," Kyrie smiled with her hands on her hips. "And I think we found your calling here, big guy!"
Looking back at the gate, he turned to Aerith; "What can you tell me about this Neighborhood Watch?"
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