A/N: EDIT: Sodding flames. Shoo! Also, added more content, not that anyone noticed T_T
As ever, the Embers rule persists. If folks don't like this?
Poof! Gone! Awaaaaay to the void it goes. Gone once and for all. Forever. Completely.
So by all means, speak up! Raise your voice! Make yourself heard! Your reviews matter! Really, they do!
Killing Monsters should be updated next, for those who are wondering.
Now for the obligatory disclaimer. One can consider this an offshoot from "Everbody Loves Cookies" in which Naruto decided to try a different career path than a bakery. This story's going to be a crazy one, meant to make everyone giggle, laugh, or cackle out loud.
There's minor verbatim here from "Cookies" for the first chapter, but don't mind that. Its a one off and we won't see said verbatim again.
Don't stop me now, cuz I'm having a good tiiiime~! Its actually fun writing from the hip for once; makes the stories more unpredictable, you know? Blast it, this request was too good to pass up! As a final note, I was listening to "I've No More ... To Give" by Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq" while writing this. Made for a bit of a chaotic neutral.
As ever, I own no references, quotes, themes or memes.
Really, it would be easier if I did...
...hope this makes you smile~!
And awaaaaay we go!
"Even legends sometimes long for an ordinary life.
Sadly, their lives are seldom simple.
You're certainly no exception...
Just a Dust Shop
Life is an explosion.
I once heard a madman say that.
Oddly enough, those words stuck with me.
Maybe he was onto something. He was blond, too. Just like me. Coincidence?! I think not! Life really is a blast when you think about it. Just like people. Our lives usually blooms bright and fierce, then burns out. Short, sharp, and poignant. That was my mindset. Live life, make your mark, enjoy it while you can.
But what happens when a man lives longer than he should?
What happens when that proverbial explosion keeps going, building, enveloping all before it?
Suppose I'm still asking myself that question. Haven't quite found the answer. When I first found myself stranded in this world, I was...lost for awhile. I fought for a time, discovered a few new tricks, kept moving. I tried different careers, learned a lot of hobbies, but in the end one path really stuck with me.
I suppose you could call it the lifeblood of this world, remnants of a different age. Its not chakra, that's for sure, but the sheer potential of it...well. The results speak for themselves. That, and a mountain or two, but really its not like anyone's going to miss those.
Did I mention Dust can be used in pranks? No? Because it can~!
Once I discovered the sheer chaos, the choice was obvious. Didn't even have to think twice about it before I took out that first loan.
To you, running a Simple Dust Shop might seem like something of an odd choice. Especially for an ex-shinobi. For me? It seemed a simple one. When you've saved the world half a dozen times over and stranded yourself in a foreign dimension, there really isn't anywhere else left to go. You've seen all there is to see, done all you can do, and at some point just don't feel like fighting anymore. Its not that you can't, or won't, but that you simply choose not to. So you try to find a hobby, something that makes you happy. Something that makes others happy, too.
Let somebody carry on the good fight.
Let someone else be the hero.
Let something happen.
My home was at peace when I left it behind; probably still is. Even if it isn't, its none of my concern. They probably don't even remember need me, and its not like I can get back to them. I've had decades upon decades to reconcile myself to that fact. When I first landed here all those years ago, I had nothing. I didn't want to be a Huntsman, wasn't interested in any world-ending crusades, but I helped out a few people anyway. For a time. Gave a man a lifetime or two to set up his precious schools. Talked a man queen out of burning the world. It paid off. Some might argue that I still have nothing to show for it.
Ah, but where was? Oh yes, dust! Dust is fascinating; there's so many ways to prepare it, and really, you can do just about anything with the stuff.
Try mixing it with chakra sometime. You'd be amazed by the results.
The SDC certainly is. Bastards have been trying to buy me out for ages. Not happening. Bloody Schnees can piss off. Even now, eons after the fact, I'm still learning new combinations of dust. Hell, I've spent most of my savings learning what it means to be a dust specialist. There were mistakes, to be sure. Loads of them. Took me ages to master my craft. Burned down a building or two. Or three. Or four.
Eh, who's counting!
But I learned; because I had the time. Uzumaki genes have their perks, I suppose. Or maybe it has something to do with Kurama and being a jinchuriki. I don't look a day over twenty. Eternal youth has its perks, I suppose. Never asked for it, but it lets me live life at my own pace. In any case, I'm happy here. A simple life, with simple pleasures. Wandered the world, sowed some wild oats, and settled down.
Nothing to worry about here in Vale, no crazy conflicts, just...peace.
Well, that and the odd explosion or two.
Keeps life interesting, ya know?
Roman was having a bad day.
The absolute worst sort of day, really.
It had begun as it often did; with Cinder riding his ass, demanding yet more dust. Nothing unusual on that front. Grand schemes, the fall of Vale and whatnot. For that they needed more Dust. Not just for them, but for the White Fang -filthy animals- and that blasted train they were building down in Mountain Glenn.
Only problem was, he'd already hit just about every Dust Shop this side of Vale.
You see, that was something of another problem; because Junior had lent him these men for the evening and he was expected to pay them. Which he couldn't very well do because apparently the rest of said shops hadn't had a chance to resupply after last week's raid.
He'd spent the better part of the night
But then, miracle of miracles, he found one!
It was a homely little place; all bright and orange and red. Bright colors everywhere, right on the corner.
Festooned with large banners.
"Sparks and 'Splosions?" he read the plaque outside with a sigh. "Celebrating twenty five years tomorrow?" his brow furrowed yet further. "Somebody's havin' me on here...
He pushed the door open with Melodic Cudgel and was rewarded with the faint chime of a bell above. The door itself swung open on well oiled hinges, exposing a large space beyond. Well. At least someone appreciated the classics. For a moment there he'd thought it one of those fancy automatic doors or something. Huh. Larger on the inside, too. Funny how that worked. But you see-that wasn't important. The dust was. And by the brothers did this place have dust. Jackpot! Rows and rows of it, as far as the eye could see!
"Welcome to Sparks and 'Splosions~!" A merry voice called from the counter. "What'll it be?"
Junior's men filed in after Roman, grounding off the sales speel before it could take off.
"Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a dust shop open this late?"
The teller looked up, already, Roman imagined the terror writ all over their face.
"Sh, sh, sh." he put in quickly before they could scream. "Calm down. We're not here for your money. Hand over the dust."
The cashier looked up with an expression of utter boredom. Roman's calm evaporated. At a glance he wasn't much to look at. Blond hair, bit of silver at the edges. Blue eyes. Whiskered cheeks. Handsome enough, but not enough to be noticed or remembered. He wore simple orange turtleneck against the cold with dark slacks and a strange necklace, coupled with an odd...what was that, a headband or something? Had some kind of weird leaf insignia on it that Roman didn't recognize.
Meh, probably not important.
Oddly enough there was a critter on the counter. A fox, of all things! Small and orange with nine flowing tails it looked harmless enough on the surface. Downright adorable, really. He found himself stricken by the strange urge to pet the damn thing-blast it! Don't focus on that, man! You have a job to do!
"I'm sorry," the cashier spoke slowly, drawing each word out with great care. "Are you robbing me?"
"No," one of the men drawled, "We're here to sell you girl scout cookies.
The clerk tilted his head. "You are? I'll take three boxes, then."
Roman flung up his arms. "Quiet, you!"
What kind of lunatic was this?! Did he not realize what was going on here?! Honestly, he was beginning to suspect the lot of them were just...off. None of them made any moves toward the teller -or was he the manager?-despite his lack of weaponry. No one moved. Not a single soul.
"You know," as Roman looked on, the young man stretched. "You really don't have to do this." his back produced a harsh pop. "You could just leave."
Torchwick tugged his hat down.
"I really can't."
If he failed here Cinder would tear strips out of his hide. To say nothing of Neo. Blasted fire bitch had them under her thumb right and proper. The only way out was through; through this one, if necessary. He didn't want to kill this mook, but he would if it came to it. At the end of the day, he valued his life more.
"You must be that Torchwick fellow." the teller leaned back, mildly bemused. "Heard you've been raiding dusts shops all over Vale. Was wondering when you'd come my way."
"Yeah, well, here I am." he flicked a gaze to his men. "Grab the dust." his cane clicked when they didn't move. "Crystals. Firm. Uncut. Hop to it!"
The blond planted a hand in his chin, but made no attempt to stop them. "Do you have any idea who you're robbing?"
A tilt of the head. "Does the name Naruto ring a bell?"
It did, but the memory was vague. So he lied. "Nope. Not a one."
"Really? Wonderful." the man clapped his hands, startling him. "I'm afraid its been something of a slow night, you see. Had to send most of the staff home early. Give 'em the night off, you know-
Melodic Cudgel barked once, discharging a round into the ceiling. Bits of plaster sprayed down. An alarm went off. It was worth it for the frown his actions drew. He looked up, regarding the hole in his ceiling as one might a particularly nasty stain on his shirt. Blue eyes narrowed. Swept back to him.
"I'm afraid you'll have to pay for that."
"Pay?!" Roman choked down a snarl. "Listen you little shit, I'm not playing around here!"
Apparently neither were they, because that furry little critter on the counter hopped upright. Then spoke.
"They never learn, do they?" its voice was low and deep, the growl of a creature who shouldn't exist in this world. "Its always so nice to be underestimated."
"What the hell is that thing?!"
"Heh. Never get tired of that." the blond agreed as he climbed to his feet.
"Hey!" Melodic Cudgel jabbed his chin. "Hands where I can see 'em, old man!"
"Old?!" the blond sniffed in contempt. "Hey! I'll have you know I'm only nine thousand!"
...you must be joking."
"I'm really not. Still the whiskered fool persisted. "Walk way, son." Something flashed through those blue orbs. "Walk way right now and I'll pretend this never happened."
Roman gave him a shove. "I'm not your son!"
"No." the whiskered warrior steadied himself on the counter. "You're not. I'm grateful for that. If one of my kids ever grew up to be an arse like you, I'd hang myself. Maybe we've been alive a little too long, Kurama." He rolled his shoulders. "Seems everyone's forgotten about us."
"Maybe its time we reminded them."
Roman's temper slipped its leash.
Perhaps it was the stress that made him snap the way he did. Maybe it was the lack of coffee, or the fact that he hadn't had a smoke all night. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the infuriating bastard before him. Really, who could say? Probably the latter though. It was too much. He'd had enough. No. More than enough! He had no more fuck's to give tonight.
With a snarl he cracked the manager across the face with his cane and sent him sprawling.
"I don't think you understand what's going on here!" His weapon cracked down again, striking the back of the blond's skull when he tried to rise. "You! Are! Being! Robbed!" Each word brought with another blow, bending the bastard's body double against the floor. "Do you?! Understand?!"
A hand snapped up, catching his cane.
Metal buckled beneath clawed fingers with a shriek.
"Ohhh," blue eyes flickered into red, "I understand perfectly."
His free hand surged up, palm cradling a sudden surge of light within.
It was a single word, but it became a hurricane.
A snarling sphere smashed into Roman's exposed torso.
In a heartbeat, these three words became the bane of Roman Torchwick's existence.
His back struck the street and bounced once, twice, then thrice. On the third he managed to get a hand out from under him. He soon wished he hadn't. It only turned his tumble into even more of a mess and shredded his aura even more, grinding him into a crater that left him wasted and gasping for air.
No sooner had he righted himself than a large shadow fell over him.
Well. He thought distantly as clenched knuckles filled his vision. Errors have been made.
Naruto's fist slammed into his startled visage a heartbeat later. Roman's world shattered as he crashed through another wall. Pain didn't even begin to describe what followed; he physically blacked out for a second before reality reasserted itself. Once it did, he sorely found himself wishing otherwise.
Black boots crunched against broken glass on the asphalt, jarring him back to wakefulness.
"Well," Naruto's voice hummed over the ringing in his ears, "I think we can all say its been an eventful evening. And as much as I'd love for you to stick around, I'm afraid this is where we part ways...
Roman struggled upright and crawled away. Roof. His heart hammered in his ears like the drums of a wild hunt out for blood. His blood. He just had to get to the roof. The lunatic was close now, close enough that he could see the bastard actually glowing, shimmering with golden light from head to toe. If he could just get to the roof-
The man's hand clamped down on his shoulder. "Going somewhere? Let me help you."
A vicious crack of the wrist sent him flying trough the air.
Where the hell was his backup...?!
Another window shattered as someone rode one of his men outside like a toboggan. Right, girl with a giant scythe. Nope! To hell with this. This wasn't his night!
But at least the blond was distracted. It was enough; somehow, he made it to the ladder. A trembling hand tried to close around the lowest rung, pulling himself upright. He could hear the whine of a bullhead high above, promising him safety if he yet made it. Another hand closed around a second rung, hauling himself upright.
Firm hands found him once again and dragged him down; denying him the safety he so sought.
"Run back to your master and give them this message."
Baleful blue eyes met his.
"Keep the hell outta my shop."
Then he launched him into the air.
Ruby whistled softly and touched a pale hand to her forehead.
"Oh, wow. That guy really flew. Is he gonna be alright?"
She looked on as the shopkeeper silently sauntered over to his ruined window. The very same window she'd shattered when she kicked that suit-wearing hooligan. Terror dawned as she collapsed Crescent Rose behind her back. Oh no. He wasn't going to bar her from his shop, was he? She whimpered a little as he glowered down at the glass.
He totally was! Noooo!
"Blast it." she heard him sigh. "I just paid this place off, too...
"I'm sorry!" the words burst from her with such intensity that the owner jumped where he stood. "I didn't mean to!"
He rounded on her with a sigh. "You...forget it. You're not in trouble."
Was that it? For a moment she'd been afraid he might call the cops. He didn't seem all that upset about it. Weird old man. Well, not really old. He just had a bit of silver in his eyes. Silver was cool. He'd handled that bad guy so easily. Was he a huntsman? He looked capable enough, but she didn't see a weapon anywhere on him. Ex-huntsman, then?
He blinked down at her. "You have silver eyes."
Ruby returned the blink with one of her own. "Yeah...?"
"Its nothing." he shook his head. "You just remind me of someone. Forget I said anything."
She really couldn't. The words wormed their way into Ruby's brain and took root.
"Soo...um," her little knees twisted in thinly veiled anxiety as she remembered why she'd come here in the first place, "I don't suppose you have any high impact dust rounds for sale?"
"For sale?" a small smile bloomed across his whiskered face. "Kiddo, you helped me throw those punks out of my shop. For that? You get a lifetime discount."
She perked up like a puppy. Ooh. Discounts were nice. "How much we talkin' about here, mister?"
"Naruto. Not mister." He smile became a grin. "How does fifty percent sound?"
Ruby's eyes. Got. Really. Big. "FIFTY?!"
Best! Shop! EVER!
Her legs betrayed her.
She didn't run; she vanished in a blur of crimson petals and struck Naruto's chest at speed. To his credit, the blond reacted better than most; in that he braced his feet and only grunted a little. One hand came down on her head, stroking her dark hair. Without thinking she leaned into his palm. Huh. The gesture felt oddly...familiar...
And then the faint click of heels against broken glass cut between them.
Naruto let go of her as if he'd been scalded.
Just as well too; because when Ruby peeked around him she saw someone far more terrifying. Another blond, but the difference between these two was like night and day. That black-and-white outfit, those piercing green eyes, the way she carried herself...every part of her screamed danger. Huntress. Definitely a huntress. Maybe she could ask for her autograph?
"Hey, Glynda." Naruto dared a jaunty little wave. "Long time no see. Look, if its about the shop, I already handled.-
"I'm not here for you." the woman's crop flicked out. I'm here for her."
Ruby squeaked. "Me?!"
Naruto quirked a brow. Glynda did the same.
She whimpered beneath their gaze.
A/N: As ever, the Embers rule persists.
If folks don't like this? Poof! Gone! To the void it goes. Gone once and for all. Forever.
So by all means, speak up! Raise your voice! Make yourself heard! Your reviews matter! Really, they do!
So, in the Immortal words of Atlas...
...review, would you kindly?
And of course, enjoy the previews! Rough, though they are.
"How much will it take to buy you out?"
"More than you know."
Cinder drew him close.
Then she buried a fist in his gut.
Torchwick doubled over with a rasping gasp. "What did I do?!"
"Its not what you did that angers me so, Roman." Cinder poured herself a flute of wine. "Its who you did it to."
"That fucking nobody?" Roman retched where he lay on the floor. "What about him? It was just a simple dust shop! What does it matter?!"
"That " fucking nobody" as you so eloquently put it...is Naruto Uzumaki." Golden eyes flashed over the rim of her glass as she drank, "He once was an...associate of ours." those eerie burning orbs closed. "Do you know what we called him?"
...I'm going to find out, aren't I."
"One does not barter with death. Nor does one bribe the devil.
You run from them. You hide from them.
Pray they don't notice you.
"Oh, yes. Pray."
"You were worth every cent, truly you were.
The door creaked open.
She looked up. "Hello, old friend...