A/N: Let's gooooo!

Notifications are back, and so is this story!

Do let me know if you want this upgraded from monthly updates to weekly ones~!

Speaking of updates, Surpass Your Limits is now close to hitting two hundred reviews -only five away now- at this rate, I just might end up updating it early after all. I've already got a few thousand words ready. Thoughts?

With my fifteen year anniversary on this site finally here, I find myself reflecting on the little things in life. What was once a lazy pastime meant for me and a few friends really grew and evolved over time. There are days when I look back on the last fifteen years here and I wonder if anyone will remember me; if I made an impact, despite never making a single cent on any of these stories. Some days were happier than others, and some stories I enjoyed writing WAY too much; to the point where I'd stay up all night working on them.

And of course, there are times when I look to the future and wonder what will become of things when I'm gone.

Of course, I try not to dwell on the latter overmuch; I'm still alive and still writing. In an ideal world, I'd like to keep doing so for as long as I can. But old age is catching up to me and these days, the world is filled with so much madness and death. Feels like everyone's lost their minds sometimes. Even before that, so many friends and fellow writers I once knew are gone, now. Will I still be here in twenty years? Ten? Five? Its a chilling thought. But for now, I'm still here, still writing.

We're bringing back the Q&A for a bit here, but we'll keep it brief.

Q: How big is the pairing going to be...?

A: In a word, yes. That said, I aim for it to be tastefully done, not simply throwing everyone in just because and all that tripe. I'm sure you've noticed a pattern and this chapter confirms it. Naruto's been winning over the ladies, yes, but each of them embody key aspects of him

Q: We hittin' the next arc soon?

A: Patience, patience, we've just begun this arc, no need to rush into the next. Everything's slowly shaping up...

Q: So...banging the bunny. That's gonna bring about changes, eh?

A: Oh yes, Mirko brings consequences.

Had a blast writing this chapter; I don't think I've laughed this hard in awhile.

So here we go. The fate of this story depends on you, the reader. Your feedback determines the fate of this tale, and many others.

I'm just a humble author trying to make his way in this wild world, one word at a time.

As ever I own no references, quotes, themes or memes. They're merely tributes.

Time and feedback will determine if this remains a story. Simple as that.

In other words...its up to YOU, the reader. Do let me know~!

"The heart is a strange thing. It may seem fragile...

...but it can be strong, harder than diamond.

Of course, the reverse is also true.

~A wise man.

Just a Rendezvous

His phone chimed.

Naruto gave it baleful look and let it ring.

He hadn't responded for the better part of five minutes now.

Which meant was avoiding it, wasn't he? Avoiding it like the plague. He knew he was really, and he made no excuses for it; because you see, he didn't know what to do. For perhaps the first time in his life he found himself flummoxed, flabbergasted, frustrated, and many other words that started with the letter "f" at the moment.

"Would one of them happen to be fu-

'Nope. Not a word from you.' he palmed his face and sat up on the rocky outcropping. 'Not one word.'

Did he regret what he'd done with Mirko?

No. All the no. Not one bloody bit.

That had been...an experience. A good fight, and what might've some of the wildest singular sex of his life. But it didn't change the fact that he hadn't planned any of this. It had all been a very much spur of the moment thing, both of them lost in passion, constantly trying to one up each other until...well...

.

..

...surprise?

He flicked a look down at her slumbering form and stowed his phone with a sigh. From there he dragged the tattered remains of his trousers back on, donned his boots, and flicked an annoyed look down at himself. Dirty, messy, and in dire need of a bath. He'd thrown his jacket aside at the beginning of their brawl, so that at least had been spared, but the rest was a lost cause.

At least he could say the same for Mirko.

Look at her now, he could clearly see her outfit had taken even more of a beating than his; because she didn't have a stitch of clothing to her name.

Well, he could hardly leave her lying here now, could he?

Rather, he could, but he wouldn't feel good about it.

...damnit. Too nice for my own good."

Shuffling over to where he'd left his jacket, he snatched up the heavy fabric and marched back to her. A quick flick of his wrist draped it over her body, allowing her to preserve some small modicum of decency in defeat. A pang of guilt had him kneeling down to heal her mangled arms. Not the rest of her, not completely -wouldn't do to have her chasing after him- but enough that she could at least move under her own power. At least this way she couldn't say he'd left her naked and alone. His good deed done for the day, he considered saying something meaningful, gave up, and shrugged. Not like she'd hear him snoring away like that anyhow.

"See you around, I guess...

Mirko opened her eyes and stretched with a languid yawn.

"Hey." She saw him at once, then granted him a bleary, sleepy smile.

In an instant she was on her feet. Her mouth found his in a long, lazy, lingering kiss.

"Good first date." she pulled away and clutched his jacket to herself, beaming. "Lets do it again sometime."

She looked a right mess. Her hair was dirty, her ears drooping, legs were covered in bruises and he'd given the right side of her face one hell of a black eye. But she'd never been more beautiful in his eyes. The sun caught her hair just so and she almost seemed to glow before him for a moment.

Her words caught up to him a heartbeat later.

What had she said just now?

"...?!"

"Date?!" Naruto's jaw clicked open before he forced it back up. "You call that a date?! We tried to kill each other!"

"I know, right?!" Mirko clapped her hands, ears twitching. "I had a blast! Huh." she looked down and flexed her hands into fists. "You fixed my arms? Thanks for that. Would've been a pain having recovery girl look at them an' all."

"Oi, Mirko-

"Call me Rumi." She batted her long lashes at him, wearing a small, sinful smile.

Lust stirred in him again. Naruto shoved it into a box and locked it up.

"Rumi, then." he amended carefully. "...what now?"

"Look," she waffled a hand. "This doesn't have to be complicated. I don't wanna but in with you and the Todoroki girl, or whoever you're with. This was fun." her ears drooped a little, betraying her emotions. "We can do it again sometime...or not. I've never really done flowers or fancy dates." her ears twitched again, and he noticed." Gimme a good fight or a lazy movie weekend any day."

"She's a keeper!"

Shunting Kurama's vocal opinion aside, he shook his head.

"I've gotta get back to the brats. I was shopping for groceries before you attacked me, remember?"

"Ehehehe," Rumi managed to look at least a little sheepish at that one and actually scratched the back of her head. "Sorry about that. I'll pay for any damages. Wait, but if they're your brats they gotta be strong, right?" at his baffled nod, she lit up again. "Lemme fight 'em sometime! I'll whip 'em into shape for ya; its the least I can do."

"Least you can do, eh?"

It was the wrong thing to say.

"Well, now that I can use my arms again...

Sh grinned and dropped his jacket, letting it pool at her feet as she bared herself to him.

"Wanna go for round two?"

He could tell her heart wasn't in it this time.

"Oi!" Naruto's throat went dry all over again for entirely different reasons. "Damnit, Rumi! No!" Quick as can be he grabbed the jacket, draped it over her, and yanked her close to glare down at her. "If we're doing this, and we are doing this, I'm not treating you like a third wheel or lesser than anyone else. I'm gonna buy you flowers, chocolate, and take you to dinner. And you're going to like it. Understand?"

She flailed in a panic; it was almost adorable. "But what if I've never been on a-

Naruto smashed his forehead against hers. "DO. YOU. UNDERSTAND?"

She nodded numbly. "Alright...


(.0.0.0.)


"Explain."

Rei took the news about as well as he might expect, which was to say...poorly

He'd staggered inside and promptly found himself dragged down onto the couch while the little ones were escorted upstairs by a shadow clone. From there the interrogation began and he was...flummoxed, to say the last.

That about summed up his situation.

Mirko was something of an unexpected ally on his part. A diamond in the rough, if you will. He hadn't expected to find her, fight her, much fuuuuuuuhoooohdear Rei was giving him that look again. As was Kaina. He didn't even have anyone to deflect their anger on Rumi had rabbited -ha!- the second he mentioned bringing her home.

Maybe that was for the best. If she didn't know where he was, she couldn't report that to her superiors. And if she wasn't hear, Nagant and Rei couldn't rip into her.

Mirko struck him as the type to do what she liked, with whom she like, WHEN she liked.

"Loudly."

His face burned at Kurama's jab.

"So let me get this straight." Toya's mother held up a finger. "The two of you...?"

"Yeah." he palmed his face. "We did. My bloody was up. I wish I could say I was sorry...

"But you're not."

And he wasn't. That was the crux of the matter.

It hadn't been done with any ill intent, but he wasn't about to apologize either.

Kaina touched one hand to her cheek with a rueful sigh. "Rumi always was a bit of a hothead and a battle junkie. This seems like something she'd do. I'm guessing your blood was up?"

Naruto muttered an affirmative.

"Did she initiate?"

A nod.

"Honestly, you!" Rei pinched his right cheek for all the good it did her; it didn't harm him in the least, despite her tirade. "Why is that you attract all kinds of trouble?! I love you for it, but still! Four?! Just how many women are you going to woo?!"

"Its not like I tried to!"

"That said," Nagant crossed one long leg over the other and thumbed her chin. "This might work out in our favor. I'm somewhat on the outs with the Hero Association these days as it is, but Mirko, she's in the top five. She can access information we can't and as we've seen, we can beat her if need be, or Naruto can.

Naruto turned a wary look on her. "Thanks...?

Rei hummed. "You're being awfully calm about this.

"Oh no, I'm livid." Nagant's smile was sharp. "He's sleeping on the couch tonight."

Ahhh, and now they came to the part he'd been dreading. "Oi, oi, oi...can you please not talk about me like I'm not here?"

Rei tilted her head. "Did you hear something?"

Kain inspected her fingernails. "Not at all. I believe it was the wind."

"Alright, alright, I deserve this, but can we get back to the benefits of-

"What benefits?" Tenko and Toya poked their heads over the couch, ever curious.

When did they sneak back down here?!

Under normal circumstances Naruto would've chided them for that and sent them upstairs.

Now?

Chance!

"Boys!" He wrapped his son sup in his arms, dragged them over and planted each on a knee. "C'mere, you have perfect timing! How do you feel about having another mother?"

Toya frowned. "What, a third one, like Curious?"

"Not her, not yet." he crossed his arms in the shape of an X. "She's still on probation after the last time she jumped me."

The boy looked between themselves, utterly baffled.

Tenko found his voice first, little angel that he was. "What does jumped mean? Did she want a piggyback ride?"

Rei squeaked. "It means nothing!"

"Then why did I hear Mama Rei and Mama Kaina talking about jumping Dad last night-

Kurama hooted.

Naruto absolutely choked.

Rei and Kaina spluttered explosively. "One more word and you're grounded, mister!"

"Why?! I didn't do anything wrong!"

Toya, uninterested in such things, merely frowned. "Who is it, then? I haven't seen anyone else around here lately...

Nagant recovered enough to grant him a sour look, guessing his game, but unable to do anything about it. "Mirko, the pro hero.

"Really?!"

Toya lit up. Literally. The boy physically burst into his signature blazing blue flames and actually managed to singe his pants him before he managed to cool him off with a quick water jutsu. Given the chance to wrestle his emotions under control, he quickly did, pushed sopping wet hair out his eyes and:

"You gotta tell us everything!"

Naruto flicked a bemused glance Rei's way. She and Kaina huffed, but didn't deny him. Progress!

And so he did just that, regaling the little lads with a colorful, albeit highly edited version of what had transpired.

Tenko tilted his head. "And she agreed to that?"

Well, she'd been a bit more bunt about other things obviously.

"If they're your brats they gotta be strong, right? Lemme fight 'em sometime! I'll whip 'em into shape for ya; its the least I can do."

"She's interested in training you, yes." he answered tactically.

The boys whooped and pumped their fists, delighted by the prospects.

He could see Rei wavering. Kaina meanwhile, wanted to be angry with him, but she'd been there and knew he'd had no say in the matter. Mirko had been the one to attack him, not the other way around. She'd initiated this hot mess and all that followed, but perhaps that was the best. They'd been getting comfortable. Stagnant. With an army at their backs it was easy to let your guard down and relax...but the HPSC didn't know they'd swiped control of the Meta Liberation Front. If they did they might've been cautious.

Instead they'd sent a berserker bunny after him.

Really, what were they thinking siccing the Number Five Hero on him when he'd already beaten their second best and evaded countless others. They had to know he'd win; which meant they might not have sent her at all; she'd practically admitted to hunting him down while he had her squealing on her back, after all. Was their encounter a coincidence? A twist of fate? Was she simply in the right place at the right time? Mirko had been fun to fight but her arrival had also been convenient for him, almost worryingly so. It felt like he was missing something here.

No one had come by the house while he was gone; Kaina and Rei would've said something.

"I concur." Kurama echoed his concerns. "This was too easy...

So when would the other shoe drop? Would it at all?

Unease gnawed at him like a gnarled old root.

Maybe it was time to move again.

-well," Rei declared, snapping him out of his reverie, "I want to run this past Natsuo and Fuyumi. Shoto's still too young to understand, but if they're okay with it...

"Then I suppose its fine." Nagant leaned against him. "After all, its not like you planned this."

Naruto knew they would be, and released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Victory!

Maybe it was little unfair to use Tenko and Toya as shields, but he didn't relish the idea of Kaina and Rei ganging up on him. And they would! Women were scary. Despite that, or perhaps in spite of it, he loved them all the more. They pretty much resembled the myriad facets of his life, or lives, at this point.

Rei was the reminder of the family he'd never truly had, and his desire to be a father.

Nagant the embodiment of the weapon he could have been had things taken a turn for him.

Curious, despite her absence here today, reminded him of his insatiable desire to know the truth of the world and fix it.

Mirko...she'd awoken something in him, a side he didn't know he had. Simultaneously, she was also a warning, a reminder of what might happen if he didn't intensify his training in the future. Yes, he'd bested her handily using nothing but hand to hand combat, but there would be stronger foes in the future. There always were ...and he had enjoyed fighting her. Heck, he couldn't remember the last time he enjoyed a fight let alone what came afterward. He'd blown off months of tension with her in only a few hours.

He kinda wanted to fuuuuuermfightheragain.

Yup, definitely fight! Yes, that was it and nothing else, no matter what some might say. He hadn't asked for any of this, the love, the responsibility, or the family that had been foisted off on hi but he'd be damned if he gave it up now, no he didn't want to.

Was that selfish of him? Probably.

But if this so-called society would leave Tenko on the sidewalk scratching his arms, allow a hero to abuse Rei, force Kaina to become a human weapon, or destroy the career of Chitose simply for asking "why" the world worked the way it did, let alone send Rumi after him like some kind of berserker...

.

..

...then maybe things needed to change.

And that was saying nothing of poor mothers like Inko, left to raise a quirkless child in a society that placed more and more value on those who held quirks, while withholding it to those without.

How many innocents were out there begging for help, to be saved, unable to help themselves?

The thought sparked something in his chest.

He didn't want to be the one to change the world, frankly it sounded like a lot of work, but it was becoming more and more apparent that there wasn't anyone willing to do it, or if there were, he just hadn't met them yet. If he could find someone more capable than him, he'd happily hand the off the reigns. For now, he'd keep failing upward and fake it until he could make it. He'd succeeded thus far by chance and blind bloody luck, but his luck wouldn't last forever. Sometimes he wondered if this was real; if he would just wake up back in the Elemental Nations, only to find it all a mad fever dream.

It scared him.

'No, don't think about that.'

His life here was real- it had to be- the people here were real, and deserving of protection. If no one else would...

A yawn forced its way past his lips, to which he heaved a sigh and leaned back on the sofa. "M'sleepy."

"Rest, then." Rei patted his hand. "We'll be here when you wake up."

...promise?" he hated how weak he sounded in that instant and instantly tried to conceal said weakness.

They must've heard it too; because everyone stopped bickering and crowded in around him. Rei took hold of his right hand while Kaina latched onto his left. Not ones to be outdone, Tenko and Toya snuggled closer, all but wedging themselves against his side like they were afraid he might vanish. Heh. They really were getting too big for cuddles. He tried to keep his eyes open and say something to that effect. He really did...

...maybe he could close them for a second...

...not a nap...just for a second...

...that sounded nice...


(.0.0.0.)


"You couldn't capture him?"

Rumi Usagiyama otherwise known as Mirko, stood before the HPSC and struggled not to yawn as they grilled her with their endless, petty question. Honestly these meetings bored the hell out of her. All they did was talk, talk, talk! Never enough action! And when they did do something it was never anything substantial. She was beginning to think these people cared more about their image than doing any real good. Maybe they did...and maybe they didn't. Honestly, she didn't much care. They bored her.

"Nope." she smacked her lips, mimicking the man who had unwittingly won her heart. "He beat the snot out of me."

She pointedly didn't mention the rest. Why should she? Her personal life was her own business. Screw 'em.

And him. Over and over and over...

Her battered legs twitched a little, still sore.

Thankfully, everyone had attributed her "walking funny" to her injuries.

"We can use this, then." one of the old farts interjected, ruining her pleasant memory. "That fool of a Shinobi attacked a Hero unprovoked. This will tank the public's opinion in him-

Mirko's fist slammed into a wall with an audible crunch.

She didn't even realize she'd done it until she felt the plaster break under her fist.

"Ha?" Her right eye twitched, lips curling into an irritated sneer. "You wanna run that by me again? I attacked him, not the other way around!" she saw the fear in their eyes and bulled forward, using it to her advantage to glower at the lot of them. "He put up a damn good fight! Don't go twistin' my words!"

Their faces closed down.

Ohh, so they were scared of her now? Tough tits!

One of them a woman whose name she didn't care to remember, finally found their voice. "That will be all, Mirko."

She wasn't surprised when they dismissed her; if anything she'd anticipated it. Cowards.

"Whatever." she rolled her eyes and planted a fist on her hip. "We done here?"

"You may go, yes."

Rumi didn't need to be told twice. She pivoted on her heel and stalked away.

She was beginning to understand the HPSC...and she didn't like 'em.

"Perhaps we should task All Might and Ryuku with-

She didn't deign to hear the rest and slammed the door behind her.

"Hero public safety commission my ass! All they care about is protecting their image!"

Toshinori and the others were good people, but they didn't get it. Ryuku didn't understand and neither did Best Jeanist or Edgeshot. Didn't matter if they came at him one at a time or all at once.

They were gonna lose.

Ain't nothin' wrong with that. Failure was a harsh mistress, but she was an effective one. You couldn't improve without losing once or twice. Hesitation is defeat. She'd hesitated out there today and he'd beat her ass even ways to Sunday for it; worse, he'd bested her while holding back. What else was he capable of? And if these HPSC bastards were plotting something, well...well, well, well! Someone really ought to tell him before another pro hero jumped in broad daylight...or worse.

There was her excuse right there.

Mirko lengthened her stride as she walked away.

None saw her smile, nor heard her words. "See ya soon, whiskers...

A/N: Aaaaand scene~!

Just a rendezvous indeed, ohoho!

Would you like weekly updates? Do let me know!

We'll be getting more time with Natsuo and Fuyumi, there' a reason they haven't had a POV yet not to mention Shoto is still too young.

And speaking of the Todoroki family, worry not, Rei will get her "scene" soon. If anything Mirko's presence will encourage her to step up her game...

Well? Whaddya think? Should this continue? Should it be a story? I await your feedback. As ever, the Embers rule remains. If folks don't like this story...well...I'll not be able to continue it. With two jobs and rent to pay, my free time is...at an all time low. I can't afford to write stories that no one enjoys. So by all means, speak up! Every bit of feedback matters here! Truly, it does! That's no joke!

So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Review, Would You Kindly?

Here, have some juicy previews.

Well, future ones at least.

Potential ones, too..

(Preview(s)

"I'm back~!" Curious didn't so much walk as she did skip inside. "Your army is finally ready for you~!"

Naruto palmed his face with a sigh. "My army, eh...

Might as well get this over with.


A fist slammed into his face. He didn't budge.

...is that all you've got? Alright. Guess its my turn."

His fist cracked out in an open-palm strike...and his foe flew into a building.


"Aiiiieeee! She's precious! We're taking her with us, right? No way we're leaving her here!"


The child she'd inadvertently saved laughed and clapped their hands. "Giant mommy!"

Mount Lady balked. "Eh?!"

The she saw him. HIM. Her heart leaped into her throat.

"Wait, wait, wait! I wasn't trying to start anything! Honest!"

Naruto slapped his forehead. "Here we go again...


...good job, Izuku. Why don't you go play with Fuyumi for a bit?"

"M'kay!"

"You're good with him...


"Go on, then." they smiled at him as he dragged himself upright. "Pretend to be everything you are not. Teacher. Husband. Father. You cannot change. "I see the real you, the beast inside." that soulless smile became a mad grin now as they stabbed a finger his way. "You act all high and mighty, but you're not! You're just an animal. Passing on your cruelty and rage. You will never change. You will always be a monster.

...then you don't know me."

"I know enough. You weaken yourself with this "family" of yours.

"And who are you to say that? Everything I do, I do for my family. For those I swore to protect."

EDIT: Hey, you made it! Congrats! Thanks for taking the time to read this!

As ever, the Embers rule remains. If folks don't like this story...well...I'll not be able to continue it. With two jobs and rent to pay, my free time is...at an all time low. I can't afford to write stories that no one enjoys. So by all means, speak up! Every bit of feedback, big or small, matters here! Truly, it does! That's no joke!

Looking forward to chatting with you all when I get back from work~!

~Nz.

R&R~!