A/N: EDIT: Well, that's a lot of flames. And here I even expanded on some scenes and added more previews, too...
Chapter title is a pun. Clearly.
As ever, the "Embers" rule remains in effect for now.
If folks don't like this, POOF! Away it goes. Deleted! Reviews are the fire that keeps me writing. Without them, I cannot put pen to paper. Simple as that. Every bit of feedback matters, large or small~! Your voice matters! Speak up! I repeat, every bit of feedback matters...even if people think it doesn't.
Now then, onto your questions!
Q: Why is Naruto so furious with Roman?
A: Because Roman plunged him back into the life he gave up. Sure, he reconnected with his family because of it; but it also forced him to deal with Hei and Jacques, to say nothing of the other storm that's coming.
Q: Update schedule! Give now!
A: Speak full sentences or I'll not reply to you in this format again. To answer what I ASSUME is an inquiry, I'll say this. A New Archon will be updated next...if that's what folks want to see.
Hears of Stone is coming along nicely, but it needs more time in the oven.
You see, folks want longer chapters. Those. Take. Time.
Q: When will the blasted plot advance?! Enough family moments.
A: It has been. With each chapter. You've simply missed it. And excuse me?!
Q: He fathered the whole f**king team didn't he?!
A: I can neither confirm nor deny that statement, good sir! Read and see for yourself!
Alright, I've kept you long enough.
As ever, I own no references, quotes, themes or memes. Not a wit or a one.
They're tribute, nothing more. That said, I Really had a blast writing this chapter. Ready? Set! Go!
"You overreach yourself!"
"Wrong again. I overreach you...
Never Gonna Give You Up
Ruby Rose wanted to scream.
Not out of fear, or hate, or even sadness, really. Nope.
You see, she had a different reason altogether for wanting to holler at the top of her lungs.
She skipped through the halls of of Beacon, recalling last night with mostly fond memories. Mostly, she said; because frankly seeing her parents kissing -nopenopenope!- wasn't an event she wanted to remember anytime soon.
Unbidden, her mind flitted back to the conversation they'd had just last night, just the three of them.
"There will always be another monster, Ruby. That's what people fail to realize." Naruto sighed as he pushed a glass of warm milk her way. "Sometimes, you need a monster to keep other monsters away.
Ruby took it, letting the mug warm her cold hands. "And that's what you are?"
"Good girl." he patted her head, tousling her hair. "You're learning."
Her nose wrinkled. "Soooo...how many siblings do I have?"
"Well, more than you'd think, less than you'd expect."
She huffed. "Daaad! That's hardly an answer!"
Summer shrugged. "Its the best you'll get."
She had more siblings now!
Once upon a time that might've made her antsy; seeded her heart with doubt and poisoned her from within. Now? Nope! Mom and dad had been separated for fifteen years -the better part of two decades really- really, the past was the past so far as she was concerned. They were back together again now. Nothing else mattered.
Well, maybe a few things.
Things involving the scowling girl walking only two paces ahead of her.
Because! Weiss! Was! Her! Sister!
Which also meant this "Winter" and "Whitley" Naruto kept mentioning were family, too! She'd always wanted a big family. Just the thought of it left the little reaper giddy.
"Now remember, Ruby." Dad's voice came back to her all at once. "You can't tell Weiss about this. This is something she needs to figure out on her own."
Ruby respected that. Really, she did! She wouldn't tell her of course; not when Dad wanted to drop that bomb herself. But it was so hard! Everywhere she looked she seemed to find relatives she'd never known about. At this rate Blake going to be her sister, too.
She missed a step.
Frowned a little.
Dad had mentioned the name "Kali Beladonna" back in the shop. Blake's last name was Belladona. Her mind leaped to the immediate conclusion.
Weiss saw her smile and scowled. "Why are you grinning? You've been like this all morning."
Rubby giggled. "No reason. Nope. No reason at all."
Blake's bow twitched. "Are you sure?"
Ruby absolutely beamed. "Yup."
Yang sighed. "Ruby."
"Tell you later, sis!" The little reaper grinned and skipped ahead of them. "C'mon! We're gonna be late for class."
She didn't see Yang linger behind Weiss and Blake.
Certainly, she didn't hear her words.
"I have a bad feeling about this...
While the children are away, the adults will lay.
Was that the saying? Wasn't it play?
Naruto supposed it didn't matter.
Lay they had.
Him and Summer, over and over again until they lost count; until their bodies were pleasantly sore-yet-sated betwixt the sheets of his bed. He cast a weather eye about, wincing at the mess they'd made. He didn't recall much of the last three hours, but now that they'd come down from their high he realized his bedroom was an absolute ruin. In all due fairness, they did have fifteen years to make up for. A little bit of destruction was to be expected. Anticipated, even. Shame about their clothes, though. Total loss there.
"Hmm." Summer tucked her head into his bare chest, silver eyes half-lidded in post coital bliss. "Much better. Why did I ever give this up again? Speaking of which...
"Summer, no." Naruto swatted her and away when it began to trail lower. "Gimme a second to catch my breath for crying out loud."
...is that long enough?"
"Not again!" Kurama howled from downstairs. "Insatiable, the both of you! Book a hotel or something!"
"Fine, fine." The huntress subsided with a huff. "So? How many?"
Like mother like daughter!
"Hmm?" Naruto feigned ignorance, creaking a blue eye open. "How many what?"
"Don't play coy with me, mister." she tucked herself into his side all but spooning against him. "I know you held back earlier for Ruby's sake, but really." Her body shifted against his, all but sprawling cross his chest. "How many sisters did you give my girls?
Even a daft man could've felt the intent in her words.
"Do you want the abridged version...?"
He held up both hands, fingers fully splayed on all but one.
Summer squeaked. "Nine...?! Did you even wait after we...?!"
"I did. For an entire year. You were the one who backed away, remember?" Here at last, he felt a rare touch of anger. "Don't go accusin' me now. I take care of my own. If I'd known Ruby was mine I would've come flying back into her life ages ago. But someone didn't want to see e."
The faint chime of the doorbell below demanded their attention.
Summer groaned. "Nooo...don't wanna get up...
Naruto flung his senses outward and recognized the presence below. All three of them. A wicked idea bit him and didn't let go. He'd just thought of a way to lift her spirits and deflect her anger all at once.
"Did you know I adopted one, and she kinda adopted two more." when she didn't respond, he stroked her hair. "Kinda makes me a grandfather, ya know. And you a grandmother by proxy."
Summer perked up. "Grandbabies?"
"Ayup. That's them downstairs."
A shiver passed through her.
All at once she sprang upright. "I WANNA SEE!"
"Clothes!" Naruto hollered before she could bolt downstairs!
Summer stalked back with a growl. "Fine! Gimme one of your old outfits!"
Cinder hadn't come this far by being a fool.
Naruto had taught her many a thing since he'd taken her under his wing; chief among them the ability to sense danger. It was a skill that had served her well as she grew into a young woman; if only because it helped her to otherwise avoid those who were hopelessly out of her league.
And when Summer Rose came barreling through that door?
Cinder took one look at her and responded accordingly. She did what must be done. She did not hesitate. She showed no mercy.
She threw Emerald and Mercury under the buss.
Her minion -children?- barely had time to stiffen as she placed a palm against each of their backs and thrust them forward. Emerald offered the least resistance; not quite realizing the danger before her. More fool she! It was she who fell first. Mercury had the good sense to at least dig his heels in, and avoided being glomped altogether.
"They're adorable!" Summer all but squealed. "Let's me have a look at you!"
Emerald squeaked as Summer pinched her cheeks.
Mercury sniggered at her express discomfort. "Heh. Busted."
Silver eyes swiveled toward him. "I'm sorry, did I say something that you found funny? Come here! Are you eating enough?"
Cinder slunk away in the chaos. Time to make her escape. She could always visit Father when that THING wasn't here-
Summer's arm looped around her neck.
"And where do you think you're going?!"
Cinder recoiled with a start, but it was too late. Her legs betrayed her, gone stiff as stone. Her mind bleated out a wild panicked note of dismay; that was all she managed before the silver-eyed terror was upon her.
Naruto poked his head out the door, took one look at them, and darted back inside.
Cinder glared glowing golden daggers at her fool of a Father.
While a cheerily cheeky Summer fussed and fretted over Cinder and company, Naruto slipped back inside.
He eased the door to the shop shut behind him, then locked it for good measure.
Keen blue eyes surveyed the recently-repaired shelves and the proud product placed within. The dust sang pleasantly to his ears, humming with trace amounts of chakra. Ruby had done good work here; everything looked good as new. There wasn't so much as a speck of dirt to be seen. Not a hair out of place.
And yet it was quiet. Too quiet. He sensed something in the stillness.
Kurama uttered a jaw-popping yawn from where he lay on the counter. "Finally noticed it, have you?"
How could he not? Negative intent pervaded the shop, and none of it stemmed from those without. His gaze swept toward the right, regarding a tidy little corner. In hindsight he couldn't say what felt off about it, only that something did. He took one step forward. Then another. A third now, careful to block their escape with his body.
"So?" His voice rang out into the silence. "How long do you plan on hiding?"
Nothing happened. Not a peep. Not a sound.
Maybe he was losing his touch in old age. Perhaps his mind was playing tricks on him...not bloody likely!
He slammed his hands together; to which a harsh pulse of chakra burst from his palms and rippled across the room. It was an old trick, one that still served him well from time to time, and it did so now.
With a faint sound like shattering glass, she appeared.
"Huh." Kurama raised his head and cocked it to one side like the fox he was. "These kids keep getting weirder and weirder...
She certainly was an odd one.
Naruto took her in at a glance; noting pink and brown hair, mismatching eyes that seemed to flicker with fear when he stared at them overlong. Her clothing was a mad medley of black-and-white-pink, matching the strange parasol she hung over head. As he looked on the girl stowed it at her side. Yet this was not a girl, a child wouldn't have those kind of curves. A child wouldn't stalk toward him, her eyes angry flickering slits of anxiety.
Yet she didn't speak.
"Not going to say anything?"
She scowled and stabbed a finger to her mouth.
"Oh." he blinked, feeling mildly chagrined. "You can't, can you?"
Her free hand fished a scroll forth from her pocket and held it up for him to see.
Three little words awaited him within.
"Leave Roman alone."
"Ah." His smile shriveled up, taking his goodwill with it. "You're one of his, then?"
Her head bobbed.
"What do I call you?"
She traced three letter in the air with a finger.
She had moxxy if nothing else. The scroll flashed out again.
"He's my dum-dum."
Well, wasn't that curious? He planted his feet while he jammed both hands in his pockets, subtly strengthening his stance. "And what is he do you?"
Her brow furrowed; this time the text was downright speedy. "Everything."
One of those, then. "Is that so?"
She nodded anew.
Kurama scoffed from his perch. "You chose poorly, then."
Neo's head whipped toward the tiny kitsune's false form, eyes wide. Credit where it was due, she recovered quickly. Out came the scroll once more. She seemed to hesitate this time before she steeled herself and showed it to him once more.
...I want a truce."
Naruto's brow shot into his hairline.
So nice to see someone sensible in Roman's organization. Unfortunately it was much too late to make this go way. Maybe if this "Neo" had come to him immediately after Roman's little escapade...but no.
"I'm sorry, little one." he shook his head. "That's not going to happen."
She scowled and was quick to key in another message.
"Tell me how to make this stop, then."
"How?" A frown marred his whiskered cheeks. "You bring him here and this stops. I'm not emotional about the money or even the damage." his finger jabbed at her. "There is a price indebted to me for the blood I've gotten on my hands restoring order to the untidiness that your boss created."
She gulped, he saw her throat rise and fall.
If not for Roman, he wouldn't have come back in the first place; just as he wouldn't have taught Junior a lesson. Jacques wouldn't dare reared his ugly head. But he did, and he had. More was yet to come, and he couldn't stop this train now even if he wanted to. And make no mistake, he didn't.
...will you kill him?"
"Haven't decided yet." he was honest, if nothing else.
She scowled and stomped a heel. Her scroll cracked in her hand, revealing a fractured message. "It was just a dust shop!"
Kurama sighed. "You just had to press that button, didn't you?"
"Just a dust shop, you say?" An old ember of anger sprang to life in Naruto's heart. "Just. A. Dust. Shop. No." He flicked a hand outward, slapping her scroll away. "To you maybe." Cold blue eyes followed her as she gave it up and scrambled back. "But to me? This place is everything. I sank my life savings into this place. I worked hard to get here, to get out of that old life. I'm proud of it." his brow turned stormy. "And then in a single night, your boss took that from me. Stole that from me!"
He stalked forward.
"KILLED THAT FROM ME!"
Neo tripped and fell on her rear, scrambling back now like a drunken crab.
"Everyone's been asking me if I'm back, if I'm going to remind everyone who I am. And until now?!" his hand shot down, grabbing her by the collar. "I haven't really had an answer. But yeah, I'm thinking I'm back." His forehead kissed hers in a savage headbutt, stunning her. "So you tell me where Roman is, you bring him here and make him pay his dues, or so help me when I find him, you will die screaming alongside him!"
He flung her to the ground.
"Now get out before I lop off your petty little head!"
Neo didn't need to be told twice. She vanished in a crackle of glass.
Almost immediately, a harsh clamor arose outside. Naruto pivoted on one heel to regard it.
"For the love of...!"
He bulled outside, fearing the worst.
Several things happened at once.
Cinder all but shouldered past him, seeking shelter inside. Naruto was inclined to let her; seeing as Summer was somewhat distracted at the moment. He peered past her, beheld a white-on-blue vest with a matching skirt, flowing up into a familiar face framed by hair white as snow and keen blue eyes besides. Just as well too, because those eyes weren't focused on him. If they were, he expected they'd be a great deal warmer.
Right now? They were chips of pure ice.
Ruby's mother lifted her chin. "Willow. You look well. For a drunk."
"And you look well for a woman who's supposed to be dead." Willow tilted her head just so. "How many times have you died again?" Her eyes flitted past, alighted upon him, and she tried to step around her. "Step aside, I'm not here for you.
Summer wasn't having it, she all but blocked her with both arms.
"Why you...?! At least I didn't let myself be used by a pig like Jacques!"
Naruto and Kurama winced as one. Willow's once pleasant smile became brittle as a blizzard.
"My, my, I'd choose your words carefully, were I you. Wouldn't want to say something you'd regret...
"Sure. Great. Just my luck." Naruto's palm struck his forehead with an audible smack. "We're going to do this now, are we?"
Summer and Willow butted heads.
"We certainly are!"
A/N: Yup, he went full John Wick there.
Well, it was implied that Naruto had to heal Summer multiple time when they were younger...
As ever, the "Embers" rule remains in effect for now.
If folks don't like this, POOF! Away it goes. Deleted! Reviews are the fire that keeps me writing. Without them, I cannot put pen to paper. Simple as that. Every bit of feedback matters, large or small~! Your voice matters! Speak up! I repeat, every bit of feedback matters...even if people think it doesn't. And there we have it.
And yes, I might write a story with Naruto as the author for "Ninja's of Love" one of these days, if only for the sheer hilarity of it.
Bit of a gentle chapter...though the next one won't be. Now, then:
So in the immortal words of Atlas...
...Review, Would you Kindly?
Here, have a preview!
"Do you even know how to fight, Willow?"
A glyph swept Summer off her feet.
"Care to repeat yourself?"
"Yeah," Naruto shrugged. "She's pretty much the definition of a white mage."
"After you've intended to that indiscretion," he continued with a voice like ice, "You can deal with the next consequence of your shortsightedness." his hands steepled before him, fingers splayed. "As stated, I am not emotional about the money...but I am emotional that someone...laid their HANDS ON...!
All aboard the train, ya filthy animals!
Weiss looked like she'd bitten into a lemon. "Mother? What's the meaning of this?!"
"I'd like to be a full magazine of dust, please."
"Sure thing." Naruto looked up, and froze. "Wait. Kali?"
"Excuse me?" Blake frowned and the image in his mind's eye shattered. "Why do you know my mother's name?"
She looked just like Kali had when she was younger. Paler perhaps, without an impish gleam in her eye but...
No. No, there was just no bloody way...
A message? Really? Roman must be getting desperate. Or stupid."
EDIT: Well, you made it! Hope you enjoyed the previews! By all means, tell me what you think! Looking forward to chatting with you~!