A/N: Hope this chapter makes you smile, considering what today is...
As ever, the Embers rule remains.
If folks don't like this story, POOF! Away it goes. Gone forever.
So by all means, speak up! Every bit of feedback matters here! Truly, it does! That's no joke!
Alright, now that we've got that way, onto your questions!
FYI, listened to "Hey Brother by Jakob Samuel" while writing this; really fit with the theme I was going for.
Q: Can we see Naruto being a ninja again? Godly power is all well and good thanks to the ten tails an' all, but he's still a ninja. I'd like to see him remind the world of that. I mean hey, Cardin deserves a good stealth prank, yeah?
A: You're in luck, then. This chapter should satisfy your craving.
Q: Timeskips soon?
A: They're coming, but for now I'd like to take thing slow...until I don't.
Q: Vacation!Naruto is best Naruto, but its good to see him still being a down-to-earth guy. Guess near cosmic Ten-Tail power really didn't go to his head.
A: At the end of the day, Naruto is still Naruto. Of course, it helps that Kurama became the Ten Tails, so he's a bit more stable rather than having some crazy tree in his head. Power or not, Naruto likes to help people. I seem to recall him mentioning he hates bullies at one point, though I can't remember which episode/chapter it was.
And somebody bullied the Bunny. Gee, I wonder who -_-
DO NOT BULLY THE BUNNY!
Q: ...will...will folks die in this fic?
A: There will be deaths in this story, yes.
I won't say when or where. Where's the fun in that?
Aright, I think I've kept you all waiting long enough, haven't I?
As ever, I own no references, quotes, themes or memes. They're merely tributes.
And yes, this chapter title relates to THAT scene. I'm rather curious to see who will recognize it.
"Now, Cardin, oh, Cardin. For all the wicked fun you've had...
...a great big fox is a comin' and his mood is bad...
So say your prayers! You've made him mad~!
Can't You Just Play Along?
Isn't it remarkable?
That one man can have all the power in the world, and yet the tears of a single Faunus can sway his thoughts? Some might say that made Naruto soft. That to take time out of his day -his vacation!- simply to address the misery of a single girl made him weak. Someone who claimed to be on "vacation" certainly shouldn't have concerned themselves with the plight of a single girl. But then again, she wasn't just a girl now, was she?
Her name was Velvet.
Not a bad name, Naruto thought to himself as the girl finished her tale. Really, it suited her. She must've been at her absolute wits end at that; because once he got her sat down on a park bench, she was perfectly willing to tell him her woes. Velvet told him everything; all of it, every bit. To him! A perfect stranger! Moreover! She'd accidentally named the cause of her woes.
Kurama jabbed him. "You really are too trusting. She's more dangerous than she looks."
"Hey, be nice! She's clearly had a bad day. Since when did you get so snarky?
"Can't help it. I'm a fox, she's a rabbit. Be mindful.
He found it hard to believe Velvet had some steel under all those tears, but if Kurama said she did, then certainly did. His gaze flicked over her for a moment, idly noting lean muscles, the faint callouses on her hands, the balanced way she sat, ready to spring upright at a moment's notice. Huh, neat. Maybe not so defenseless after all. But she was looking at him now with those great big eyes and hers and he must attend.
"So," he scowled, "This guy that's been botherin' ya. His name's Cardin Winchester...?"
Velvet's long ears drooped atop her head. "Yes...He's been bothering me for at least a week now...
"And this guy goes to Beacon with ya?" A knot of anger coiled in his stomach. "You said you're a year above him. Why not fight back?"
"Its...complicated." She kicked one foot against the ground. "If I stand up to him, he'll just pick on someone even weaker. They might not be able to fight back."
Naruto snorted. "That's no reason to suffer."
"Even so, its my choices. Its just," she sniffled a little, "Difficult sometimes...
There were so many ways he could handle this "Winchester" fellow. Naruto knew many; a number of which involved murder. Beautiful, gratuitous, bloody red murder. Reluctantly, he decided against that. Death was final. You didn't learn from death. Well, unless you were resurrected, but he very much doubted that was a thing this far in the future. No, he decided, Cardin Winchester deserved a full course of misery, and maybe One Thousand Years of Death besides.
And so he made a plan.
"Tell me what he looks like."
Velvet leaned back a little. "Why...?"
"No reason." his smile was all teeth. "Its not like I wanna talk to him or anything. Loudly. Repeatedly. With my fists."
"Naruto, yes!" he grabbed her by the shoulders, trapping her before she could bolt. "Tell me about him. And his friends. Spare no detail!"
Inthe end Velvet capitulated. Surprisingly, she had a photographic memory. Just as before, she spilled the beans. She even had a picture of him on her Scroll; one she'd no doubt been forced to take as he yanked on her ears. Real burly fellow, this Cardin Winchester. Naruto disliked him at first sight. His "teammates" didn't make a favorable impression, either.
"Alright, Velvet." he released her, still smiling fit to kill. "I'm going to solve your little bully problem."
She wrinkled her nose. "I already told you-
"Just shut up and accept my goodwill." he flicked her forehead, cutting her short. "When I'm done with him, he'll never bully anyone ever again."
Her brow furrowed at that, not quite liking his tone. "You're not going to kill him, are you?"
"Nope." he thumped a fist against his chest. "Scouts honor. I won't kill him."
One ear drooped. "Or maim him?"
...he'll be able to walk. Mostly."
She swatted his arm.
"I take it back." Kurama chortled softly. "This girl's quick on the uptake once you get her to open up. She'll do."
Do for what? He didn't much understand what his partner was after; in the end he chose not task after it. Ignorance was bliss after all.
"You're really going to do this, aren't you?" Velvet looked away, wringing her hands. "I don't suppose there's anything I can say to change your mind."
Not a chance. Nothing could sway him now. "Nope."
"But why? We barely know one another."
"Well, you know my name, don't you?" he countered.
Those doe-like eyes blinked once, not quite comprehending. "Yes...?"
"And I know yours." he patted her head, careful not to hurt her ears. "That makes us friends."
"As fellow Faunus?"
No idea what one of those was. Maybe it was a nickname or something. "Sure, lets go with that."
"Heh." a tiny giggle escaped Velvet as the ghost of a smile touched her face. "You have a strange definition of friendship, Naruto."
"What can I say?" he shrugged. "I like helping people. Although...
And it was true. So was what followed.
...I HATE bullies."
"Meep!" her ears stood ramrod straight.
Perhaps if Naruto could see his reflection in that moment, he would've realized just how terrible he appeared to those who crossed him. But he didn't. He didn't even notice when his carefully crafted transformation slipped a little; giving her a glimpse of his pale skin and the truth-seeking orbs manifesting at his back. As such, he found himself somewhat surprised when Velvet held her Scroll out to him.
"H-Here!" she stammered out, lips framing a tremulous smile. "You can have my number. Let me know how it goes."
He winced. "I...ah...really don't have one of those. A scroll, I mean."
Velvet tilted her head, misunderstanding. "Did yours break?"
Roll with it! Hadn't Junior said something about getting him a burner scroll? Whatever the heck a burner was. The future was weird.
"Here, I think I've got a pen and paper on me." when he didn't answer she fumbled in her pouch for just that and scribbled something down, only to hesitate. Her eyes flitted over his shoulder, tracking the truth-seeking orbs there; the same orbs he had accidentally summoned when his temper reared its ugly head.
"Those spheres...would you mind if I took a picture of them?"
"Eh, these things?" he used a truth-seeking orb to form his staff once more. "Sure. Why not...?"
"Thank you!" Velvet's grin was brighter than sunshine itself.
It made him want to protect that smile.
...so that's the long and short of it."
Hei was, understandably, rather cross with him.
"You want to raid Beacon?! Of all the bone-headed ideas...!"
"No, no, no." Naruto leaned back in his chair and held up a finger to stifle Junior's protest. "I'm going to infiltrate Beacon. There's a difference." he flicked two fingers, to which Hei passed him another shot glass. Strange thought it might be, he was beginning to develop a taste for whiskey. "I'm letting you know as a courtesy," he knocked it back, grimacing as it burned his throat. "So you don't wonder where I am tonight."
"All this over some blasted bunny?" Miltia scoffed. "I don't get it."
"You had to be there." Naruto caught another glass and downed that as well. "She was a pure soul."
Melanie crossed her arms, either unwilling or unable to let him wriggle out of this. "You're seriously going to attend Beacon? For her?"
Naruto nearly choked on his drink.
"What?!" Now it was his turn to recoil. "No! What gave you that idea?!
"You said infiltrate." Melanie raised a finger and jabbed his chest. "That implies a long stay, or going undercover at the very least."
"Its only for a night!" he flung up his arms before she could continue to play devil's advocate. "And for a prank, no less! I've spent one lifetime in school already; I ain't about to do it again!"
Honestly! Beacon had nothing to teach him; nothing he wanted to learn at any rate. He'd been given a second chance at life after sealing himself away for so long - the way he saw it, this was just a spot of of work. Yeah, he liked the sound of that. Just a brief little jaunt to stretch his legs. Nothing more, nothing less.
"The Winchesters are a powerful family." Hei's voice tugged him back to reality, spurring him to look up. "They have connections. If you mess with one of them...
"Oooh, a crime family. I'm quaking in my nonexistent boots."
Miltia nudged Naruto before he could respond, drawing his attention to her once more. "Want us to come with? You're pretty tough, but that's hell you're walking into...
Melanie took hold of his other arm. "Might as well have some backup, eh?"
It was tempting. Very tempting. They'd make for useful distractions at the very least...until they were seen. Now, Naruto might be a bit out of touch, but he was still fairly certain breaking into a school counted as a crime. If either of the twins were caught on campus, Hei would be implicated. Police would descend upon the Club en mass. Everything would be searched from top to bottom. He might even lose his bar license. That was no way to repay the hospitality he'd been given.
But a lone shinobi, a veritable master of disguise who could change his appearance at the drop of a hat? Well. No one would know what to make of that.
In the end, the jinchuuriki chose the road less traveled. "Are either of you particularly stealthy?"
Melanie opened her mouth to protest..and closed it. Miltia mirrored her sister.
Junior snorted. "Elephants are more subtle than these two."
Melanie kicked his ankle. "Jerk! We can be quiet when we wanna be!"
Well, that decided things, didn't it?
"No," Naruto shook his head at the last, "This is something I need to do myself. I'll be back by morning."
They sulked a little; he couldn't help but feel guilty at that.
"Its not like I'm running away." On a whim he reached in with both arms and pulled them into a crushing hug." Like I said, I'll be back."
Melanie kissed his cheek. "You'd better be!"
Miltia was less subtle, hand trailing across his chest. "Morning, got it? You'd better be back by sunrise or we'll come looking for you."
Naruto restrained a small smile. He very much doubted either of them were strong enough to go toe-to-toe with a proper Huntress, but he appreciated the sentiment. Maybe these two weren't so bad after all. They had spirit if nothing else. Nothing wrong with a little fire in your belly.
"You're actually serious." Junior set another bottle down. "Why do this?"
"Its nothing special, really." he pulled away with a scowl. "This punk made my new friend cry. So he's gotta pay."
Melanie and Miltia exchanged a bemused between themselves.
"Oi!" Naruto saw it an scowled. "What's that look for? I can't do something nice?"
"Whatever you say boss..."
"Here." Hei handed him a black, rectangular device. "The scroll I promised you. I pulled a few strings. Try not to break it."
Naruto held it away from himself as one might an explosive. He turned it over in his hands. Upside down, now. His finger brushed a button and the screen flashed to life, filling his vision with a sea of symbols and odd little widgets he couldn't comprehend. What manner of jutsu was this?!
Pleading eyes turned upon Melanie and Miltia. "I...have no idea how to use this thing."
The twins sighed in unison.
"Give it here...
"You disappoint me, Cinder. I thought you were strong."
Those words doomed her. Damned her thrice.
Cinder kept her gaze fixed on the floor.
"My queen, if you'd let me explain-
"There is nothing to explain, save your failure." Salem frowned through the seer. "If you cannot handle one interloper, perhaps you're not worthy to be the Maiden after all...
Even now she could feel the full weight of the Dark Queen's gaze upon her; it pressed down a like a physical presence, the manifest displeasure of a disappointed parent. She wasn't even in this room -not in the physical sense of the word- yet her ire threatened to choke the very life from Cinder's lungs. She could only glare at the floor and pray it wold pass.
"Do not fail me in this."
The Seer fell silent with a dull rasp; the moment it did Cinder smashed a fist into the floor.
Golden eyes burned with frustrated tears.
Naruto Uzumaki wasn't a particularly vengeful individual.
At the end of the day, he'd much rather talk his foes down; reason with an adversary, you know? He'd done so many a time before, and likely would hence. His heart was slow to anger, reluctant to wrath, but once roused, his fury was nothing short of legendary. Just ask any of his enemies. You see, there some things you just didn't do.
Taking candy from a baby? C'mon. That was just mean.
Bullying a bunny? Not a good idea. Really. It wasn't.
Pissing off a prankster? Death wish.
That said, Beacon's security was surprisingly...lax for a Hunter academy.
No one noticed a masked man in a dark garments walking up the rugged cliffs of the Emerald Forest the dead of night. None challenged this cloaked individual as he slipped into the campus proper, wrenched open a door, and ghosted down the halls. Not a soul could see his face, for there was no face to see. His whiskered visage was hidden behind a facade of swirling orange ceramic, his hair likewise tucked deep into the cowl of his cloak, all but denying any chance of proper identification.
And if he whistled to himself a little while he worked...well. No one noticed.
He went about his work, slapping seals here and there in the halls, concealing some with judicious applications of chakra, leaving others to be seen.
After all, better for them to find the fakes than to discover the real ones.
Was this how Obito felt when he pretended to be Tobi? Making mischief was rather fun.
More than once he saw a camera. Those he disabled one by one, careful to remain unseen. No guards appeared to challenge his sabotage. No alarms wailed, no traps were triggered, no voices raised. Naruto went about his work utterly unmolested. This was the place Yang had spoken so highly of? These were the future protectors of this world?
It was almost sad, really.
"Hrmmph. The world used to be a bigger place, with bigger people.
"The world's still the same, Kurama." Naruto murmured mentally as he disabled another camera. "There's just less in it...
"And these brats are supposed to protect it? I'm starting to fear for the safety of this world...
"Now, now, that's not our problem.
Cardin wasn't hard to find by that regard. Even in sleep he burned with negative thoughts, making him a veritable beacon amongst...well, Beacon.
'Heh.' Naruto held back a tiny chuckle as he skirted another camera. 'Maybe there's something to these puns after all.'
"That was a horrible joke and you should feel bad."
...Yang would like it.' he sulked.
"Which goes to show how bad it is!"
Mustn't laugh. He'd give himself away.
He found Team CRDL's dorm in short order. It was there that he encountered his first real form of resistance. The door was fitted with an electronic lock of some sort, impossible to pick. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for the handle. A quick twist broke the latch and gained him entry. From there he slipped inside and sealed the door behind him.
"Ugh." he immediately pinched his nose. "Reeks in here...
The first thing that hit him was the smell. Cardin's dorm smelled exactly like what one would expect of a small room populated by four teenage boys. Sweaty socks and dirty laundry. Lots of it. Mastering his rising gorge, he spied four beds within, one to each corner in the gloom, visible in the waning light of the shattered room. Each held a sleeping student within. A perfunctory glance confirmed the identities of his soon to be victims.
Naruto bit his lip and crept closer, stifling a snicker as he did. Even then his shoulders quivered in quiet mirth.
This was going to be glorious.
He had deliberated long and hard on CRDL's fate. Some ideas were too small. Others too grand. Still more would paint Velvet in a bad light. In the end, he'd hit upon a brilliant idea.
Sometimes the best pranks were the simplest ones.
He began with a simple silencing jutsu, one every shinobi learned to muffle noise. His expanded yet further, a faint shimmer of blur light brimming outward from his body. It coated the walls, floor, and ceiling, saturating the room with cloying pressure. A faint pop in his ears confirmed the jutsu's activation. He'd still be able to hear just fine, but so long as the jutsu remained every aspect of sound would be muted to those without.
From there he stowed his mask and cloak, then crossed his fingers.
Three silent plumes of smoke answered him as three shadow clones were born. He waved them to the beds.
At the end of the day, Naruto was still a ninja. He might be brash and loud, but his training remained.
Next he placed his hands together, fingers and palms firmly pressed to one another. From there he pulled them apart again, creating golden glowing lengths of heavily barbed chakra chains between him. The irony wasn't lost on him. This was Kushina's jutsu, his birthright, only unlocked once Kurama had ascended to Ten Tails and empowered him yet further. He really didn't use them as often as he should. Now he was using them for a prank.
He wondered if Mom would approve.
With a grim chuckle, he passed a bit of the chain to each of his clones, then more still after he considered the sheer strength a Hunter possessed. The chances of these four being even remotely close to Yang's strengthe were minute at best, but it paid to err on the side of caution. He wasn't taking any chances. Better safe than sorry.
Each of them went about their task without fail.
First, they placed each boy under a heavy genjutsu to keep them asleep until they were ready. Nothing would wake them now unless he willed it.
Then the chains came back out with intent. One by one, the boys of CRDL were bound. Their arms, legs, even their eyes and mouths. All save Cardin, who was spared both the blindfold and the gag. He could have done him the same as he did the others; yet he chose not to.
You see, it wasn't enough to simply scare Cardin and his boys.
Velvet was right. Once he realized she was no base bunny to be pushed around, he'd move onto another victim. And so the cycle would repeat...unless one were to pull it out at the root. He needed to terrify them. Put on an act so convincing, so frightful, that Cardin wouldn't even think of harming Velvet or anyone else. This way nobody got hurt, poor Velvet got some peace, and everyone was happy.
Well, everyone save Team CRDL.
They wouldn't be happy at all after tonight.
But really, they were throwaway characters. Screw 'em.
Their task complete, his clones saluted once and dispelled themselves. Naruto did the same and formed a different seal with his hands. Not for more clones, but something else entirely. To think, this had once been his weakest jutsu as a genin. Now? You could do all sorts of fascinating things with enough time and chakra control. He'd had plenty of the both before he sealed himself away.
"Right, then." he muttered to himself. "Here we go...
A silent plume of smoke heralded the jutsu, wafting out the window with nary a sound. Had anyone been awake to witness it, they would've been quite confused; for a bemused bunny stood in his place. To the untrained eye Naruto Uzumaki looked exactly like Velvet Scarlatina; yet there were subtle differences. His stance was all wrong, his balance off, and the light in his eyes just a little too bright to be natural. It wasn't perfect by any means or measure, but it would do.
Smiling in a way Velvet Scarlatina never would, Naruto bounced once in place, then pivoted to face his prey.
He immediately grimaced, rubbing one shoulder and grimaced at the added weight there.
"Ack, my back!" he swore." His voice was soft now, for it wasn't his own. He'd been quite thorough. "How do girls live with these things?"
"You're the one who wanted to do this. Deal with it."
Cardin snorted in his sleep.
"Velvet" scowled. "Think that's funny, do you? Lets see how you like this!"
A snap of his fingers dispelled the genjutsu. One by one, the boys of CRDL began to stir.
Naruto didn't give them a chance to; he reared back and gave Cardin a good hard smack across the face.
The bully jerked awake with a gasp.
To be fair, he had good instincts; his body reacted immediately and thrashed against his chains with a grunt, muscles straining, back arching, to no avail. One does not simply break shackles forged by the Ten Tails. Cardin gave a fair attempt...for a rookie. Face red, chest heaving, he finally subsided, if only for a moment. Wide, furious eyes glared up at him.
Naruto quirked a brow through the disguise.
"Are you done?"
"Are you done?"
Red. Cardin's world was red, filled with frothing fury. He wanted to reach out and throttle the woman looming over him. Instead he struggled and strained against the shackles like a helpless animal, unable to do anything but flail. His arms failed him. His legs failed him. Here at last, even his breath failed him, leaving him to slump back to the bed, puffing furiously.
That damn bunny bitch. He'd get her for this!
"How did you get in here?!"
"Ah, ah, ah." Velvet wagged a finger at him. "That's for me to know."
"You think you can make a fool of me?! In my own dorm?!" Spittle flecked at his lips as he raged at her. "You're dead, bunny! Dead!"
She tilted her head. "Am I, now? I don't feel dead.
There was something wrong with her smile. It was sharper somehow. Not at all like the weakling he knew. Had he been in right mind, Cardin might have noticed it. But right now he wasn't in his right mind; anger clouded his judgement, wrath rode him down, craving revenge. He didn't even stop to consider why she might be doing this, that this might actually be his fault. Nope. Not once. As far as he was concerned, he was the wronged party here. Not here.
He was Cardin Winchester, of the Winchester family! He was powerful! He had connections! His father was a legend!
"Now, then." Velvet leaned down, eyes burning in the moonlight. There was a knife in her hand. "Where to start? Oh, yes." she cooed. "I think I'll start with your ears. After all, you seemed so fond of mine...
"Or maybe not the ears," she hummed. "Perhaps we should start with your tongue. You don't mind, do you?"
Panic mounted as realization dawned.
"Dove! Russell!" Cardin cried! "Sky! Get this bitch!"
Muffled cries came from their bunks. Bound shapes thrashed there, to no avail.
Craning his neck, Cardin saw the fate of his team. Bound and gagged, they wailed in terror.
Velvet beamed at him, eyes gone half-lidded wth glee. "Doesn't feel so good, does it? To be the bullied, rather than the bully-
Cardin spat in her face, cutting her short.
"Wait till I get out of this!" he thrashed mightily! "You'll rue the day you were born!"
A spark of anger slipped through Velvet's smile.
"See. This is why I hate bullies." she wiped it away with a sigh, considering him like a giant might an ant. "No originality. You're the worst. I was trying to do a bit there. But nooo..
Velvet's hand cracked across slap snapped his head to the right.
Cardin gagged as heel palm smashed into his chin.
A rousing roundhouse sent teeth whistling through the air.
He choked as his nose broke, retching on blood.
Her fist closed around his hair and yanked him into a headbutt, badly bruising his right eye.
Cardin lay there, wasted and gasping for air, struggling to breath through his ruined mouth. Oh gods. His trousers were wet. He'd soiled himself. A dying spark of pride had him trying to rise again, only for a taut fist to slam into his windpipe, taking the last of his air from him.
"You...you're not her." he wheezed, trying to crawl away in his cot. "You can't be. You can't!"
"Oh, but I am. I don't want to see you again, Cardin." she reached down, squeezing his ruined face in hand. "I don't even want to so much as perceive you." her forehead kissed his, eyes bright as sapphire gemstones, a ghastly burning that threatened to swallow his soul. "If you breathe a word of this to anyone, if I see you bullying anyone else, I'll break your legs. Do you understand?"
"And Cardin?" here at last she paused, scowling down at him like the bloody bunny she was. "If I can get to you in your own dorm, I can get to you anywhere. Remember that."
She touched a hand to his forehead and sleep took him.
His mind bleated as he slipped back into the black.
Never again. He'd never go near her again.
Not her, or another Faunus.
...hmm. Might've overdone it a little."
Naruto dispelled the transformation jutsu and considered his handiwork.
Cardin was too proud to admit he'd been thrashed by a girl. Even if he wasn't, the terror he'd instilled tonight wouldn't be so easily forgotten. Still, he'd managed to hold back for the most part. Cardin had only lost a few teeth. That was a good thing, wasn't it?
Naruto donned his mask, wrapped himself in his cloak once more, and made for the window.
He paused at the edge considered Cardin's prone form for a moment.
Then he started taking pictures.
A/N: And this, ladies and gentleman, is why we don't mess with the bunny.
Because the bunny has a friend now; one that doesn't take kindly to her being bullied. Think about it; Naruto has the potential for UNLIMITED PRANK WORKS if he wanted to cut loose.
Don't test him.
Once more, the Embers rule remains. If folks don't like this story, POOF! Away it goes. So by all means, speak up! Every bit of feedback matters here!
Reviews are eternal. Reviews are Immortal. Reviews are precious to me.
Sooooo...in the Immortal Words of Atlas...Review, Would You Kindly?
No previews! I've got bit plans coming!
Alright, just one...
"So I took care of your bully problem-OOMPH!"
Coco tilted her glass. "Yeah, I think bun-bun likes you."
"You're the one running Hei's operation?"
"Well, actually its my operation now. Isn't that right, girls?"
...did I just accidentally a war?"
"Not just any war." Junior waved the letter at him. "A gang war."
Taiyang cocked his shotgun. "You!"
Naruto quirked a brow. "Have we met?"
"Nooo...but we're about to get well-acquainted, you and I."
"I didn't always have this power. I remember what it was like to be the little guy.
To be the outcast. To be the forgotten. Huh. Seems I can still feel anger.
You have my attention now. I hope its what you wanted."