Exhausted, Luck smiled, she had done it. Death was human again. With a vindictive smile she toppled over backward in a dead faint. Exhausted, but pleased. Unnoticed behind her, fate smiled. She had been planning to mix the pot a little, and it seemed to have worked perfectly. Walking forward she carefully stepped over her daughter's slumbering body and stared into the divining pool.

"Quite a man indeed."

and with that, she she was gone, and Naruto, unaware of the events that had just been set into motion around him peacefully slumbered on.


Death frowned in concentration. She had managed to get far enough away from Konoha to keep from being detected. She had even managed to procure some clothing on her way past a little farmhouse in the middle of nowhere just to keep her modesty, just until she could fix this of course. That had been two days ago, and she was just now finishing sketching the necessary runes into the quartz she had gathered. Ironically she had stumbled into one of the places Naruto liked to meditate. A lovely waterfall out in the middle of nowhere about two hours away at a medium run for a ninja. Luckily for her he was busy.

"Carry the two..."

Sitting up Jin sighed. Her back hurt, her shirt was rubbing her chest raw, her pants were far too tight, and she was exhausted, but she was done. Smiling she rubbed her hands together in satisfaction. And channeled what little power her current body could produce into the array she had spent the last twenty hours making. After a moment she could feel it activate, and with a blast of smoke a winged imp was summoned.

"WHO DARES TO CALL UPON THE MIGHTY..."

"Can it Joshua."

The imp sighed, it's wings drooping in dejection.

"Oh, it's you. What do you want?"

"I want you to go get my Dad ya?"

"Get him yourself, you think I want to go bother judgment? You may be able to get away with it, but I'm rather partial to my existence thank you very much."

Jin Growled.

"I would if I could. You think I really want to have to summon you for this?"

Joshua paused, and for the first time really looked at her.

"Holy hells below! You're mortal!"

"No shit!"

"No, I mean you're completely mortal!"

Jin blew at her bangs in frustration. It sucked having to actually have her hair and body obeying the quaint 'laws' of the planet. Gravity in particular was annoying.

"I. Know. That's why I need you to get dad for me."

Joshua looked at her askance.

"Ya, I'm getting that now."

"So will you?"

Suddenly the imp grinned.

"I dunno, what's in it for me?"

Jin grit her teeth before biting out.

"My thanks?"

Joshua shook his head.

"Not good enough."

it was Audible as Jin ground her teeth for a moment before taking a deep breath.

"Fine. Fine. I'll owe you one."

Joshua grinned.

"See, was that so hard. You've got yourself a deal."

And with that the imp vanished.


Naruto Hummed to himself as he worked. Two days and he already had the basement dug, the foundation poured and the beams laid for the main floor. It really was nice having an army of clones at his beck and call. He stopped for a minute to watch Hinata bend over to pick up part of a wall frame and help a couple of clones hoist it into place. Even covered in dust she was easy on the eyes, and despite her initial reluctance she was quickly becoming competent in her work too.

"Naruto! Hinata! Hey! How's it going?"

Naruto turned and grinned even as a handful of clones waved.

"Hey Sakura, Chouji, how ya doing?"

Chouji was still staring in shock at the score of clones who were pounding two of the outside walls together. To Sakura however this was old news.

"Doing well. Had any more visits from..."

Sakura cut off what she was saying, but her eyes cut toward the gates where a lone Hyuuga stood out amongst the crowd of curious towns people who were 'just passing through, and wondering what all the noise was about'. Naruto shook his head.

"No. Nee-chan told me the Hyuuga council lodged a formal protest about the noise, but neither Haishi nor Hanabi signed it."

"Speaking of them..."

"Haishi came by, he wanted to talk to Hinata. Dunno what they said, but he thanked me for watching over her before he left. He also said that what I did to Hanabi made her very introspective for a day or so, but that she was back to her old self 'All too soon'. I suspect I haven't seen the last of her."

Sakura nodded.

"And what about..."

"I can't honestly say things have been getting better, but at least they haven't been getting worse."

Sakura nodded

"Do you need to talk to Inoichi again?

Naruto frowned a bit.

"You know we used to joke about all the elite's either having a weird quirk or being totally nuts?"

"Ya?"

Naruto shook his head

"He's nuts."


"You want me to what?"

asked Yugito, her voice was flat, an underlying hiss of power creeping into her words.

"I don't believe I stuttered."

Powerful she might be, but a 'Kage didn't get to the position by being a pushover.

"You want me, to go to Konoha, find some brat, and if possible kidnap him and bring him back here."

The Raikage gave her a flat stare.

"You do recall what happened last time we tried that don't you?"

The flat stare turned cold

"You over step your place. The head ninja thought he could bring the white eyes back to our village by kidnapping one, and nearly started a war we neither wanted nor needed when the fool went and got himself killed."

Yugito cringed back.

"Since it seems you missed it the first time I'll repeat myself. This is supposed to be a covert operation. I've recently come into some intelligence stating that Minato had a brat. Kid supposedly looks almost Identical to his father, but because of a bit of bad luck on his part is shunned by most of the village. Your mission is to observe him, and if possible, convince him to defect. If you get the chance to make a clean escape on a grab and go, you're authorized to do so."

"And if I'm caught?"

Not that it was really an issue of course. Her relationship with the Nekomata guaranteed they'd have a hard time holding her no matter how many Jounin they sent.

"Then you tell them you just grabbed the first kid you found as you needed a quiet messenger."

At Yugito's confused look he elaborated

"They have a highly placed spy who's whispering in the wrong ears. We caught a scout from Iwa crossing out of their boarders trying to sneak back home to report this. Sadly the poor bastard spilled his guts literally after spilling them figuratively. The secret is safe for now, but it's a time sensitive mission. I'm assigning you because you have a knack for getting out of tough spots."

There was a moment's pause and then Yugito bowed slightly.

"Thy will be done Raikage-Sama."

With that she spun on her heel and left, as the door closed the Raikage closed his eyes and sighed.

I might have a nephew. Kushina... why didn't you tell me?

The empty office gave him no answer.


"What do you mean I'm STUCK"

The imp shrugged.

"You owe me one anyway so I suppose I can give you this one free. Judgment said, and I'm quoting here. 'Remind my daughter that all actions have consequences. She made a decision and now she is reaping the fruit. Oh yes, and mention to her that I'll cover for her again, but I'm getting a little too old for this so she can do her own damn paperwork when she gets back.'"

Jin took a few calming breaths at that and growled

"Fricken paperwork... So I have to go off myself then do I?"

She raised an eyebrow when the Imp snickered at her.

"What?"

"Oh... well... it seems that your darling little niece was rather annoyed at you around the time you screwed up your incarnation."

"Who... Luck?"

The snickers became full blown laughter

"Yup, you can't kill yourself!"

"WHAT!"

"Oh ya, it's written all over your aura, clear as day. She really did a number on you Jin, You remember that world that used 'The source', the one with the Trollocs and Aes-Sedai and what not?"

"Yes?"

"You're a focal point. Ta'varen or whatever they called them, You and the fox kid both."

"Oh hell."

The Imp grinned Impudently

"Every world seems to have them, You remember good old 'Flight from death' and the brat he kept trying to off? You get to be one for this world, Lucky you."

"Oh go to hell."

The imp snorted.

"I will too. Have fun Jin."

Jin sighed as Joshua dismissed himself in a blast of smoke.

"Well, at least things can't possibly get much..."

"Jin? What are you doing here? What happened to you?"

DAMN IT!

"Hello Naruto."


"S... so Sakura."

Sakura glanced up from the book she was reading, slightly surprised as not a lot of people came to this part of the park.

"Chouji?"

"Ya... umm... I was wondering..."

"Mmm hmm?"

It was almost cute. As Sakura had found herself spending more and more time around Chouji she had taken a bit of a shine to him. She was fairly sure that the slightly clumsy and tongue-tied fellow Genin had a crush on her. It was a little hard to miss after all

"Um... I was wondering if you'd... maybe... Um... Consider... ah... GoingOutWithMe?"

Sakura suppressed a laugh though her smile was radiant.

"But Chouji, we've already gone out several times. I'm sorry I can't help you with your food issue's but..."

Chouji blushed.

"N...no, I m...mean w...would you..."

Sakura couldn't help it, she just had to laugh,

"Yes Chouji, I would love to go out on a date with you."

She was slightly surprised to realize she meant that too. Chouji blinked a couple of times as though shocked she'd actually said yes.

"Pick me up at Seven?"

"SURE! Um... Ya... I... I mean I'll see you then!"

Sakura laughed again and kissed his cheek before walking away,

Sasuke made his choice, Naruto's breaking out of his 'idiot' mould, time for me to move on too.


Naruto and Sakura shared a look two parts exasperated, one part amused as Kakashi acted out parts of his 'Terrible battle with the monster that had been hiding in the laundry basket'. His right arm was outstretched, and he was hopping on one foot while wildly swinging the other. He looked a bit like a little old lady trying to fight off a bee with a broom handle.

"Sensei?"

Kakashi paused and glanced at him, still holding his ridiculous pose

"Hmm?"

"Was there a reason you called us here? I was told that since Sasuke's defection we were on light duty until there was a replacement available for him."

Sakura and Kakashi both ignored Naruto's grumbling about the 'Old perv vanishing again', and Kakashi relaxed into his normal stance

"Didn't I tell you? We have a mission!"

"Um..." Naruto shot Sakura a confused look "Don't we need another teammate?"

Kakashi just smiled however.

"Nope! We've got a special mission. C rank, we're leaving town for a couple of days to pick up some money owed to Konoha for services rendered, And they specifically asked for our team."

"But..."

"Who would..?"

"Pack your bags my cute Gennin, we're headed to wave!"


"So that's the story, and that's why I'm going to be gone for a couple of days."

Jin smiled from her seat on Naruto's couch. One of the few pieces of furniture he'd managed to acquire over the last week and a half.

"Quite a tale, how much of it is true?"

Naruto smiled sheepishly

"Most of it?"

Jin laughed. She knew the real story, and the one he'd given her was only vaguely correct, but she wasn't going to call him on it. He had practically insisted on her moving in with him when he heard she got he had got kicked out of her home by a jealous sister. It was close enough that she didn't really feel all that bad about the small deception.

"If you say so Naruto."

"Anyway, I gotta run. See ya later Jin."

With a smile and a small wave he vaulted out of the rough window opening. The actual window itself wouldn't come for a couple of weeks yet as the glass had to be brought from Suna, but the frame, and the wall it was attached to had been completed just the day before, and Hinata had already moved in down the hall.

"So, you going to tell him?"

Startled, Jin whirled around to see said room-mate leaning against the door frame.

"Tell him what?"

Hinata's expression was unfathomable for a few moments before a small smile curled the corners of her mouth up.

"Never mind. Come on, let's get some food."

Slightly confused, and more than a little annoyed at not just Knowing the answer any more Jin let the comment drop and followed Hinata downstairs. Having to eat was annoying too, and her growling stomach was reminding her of it.


"He's on the move you know?"

"Hmm?"

Itachi looked up from his book, a rather trashy and fairly predictable romance. He had only gotten shit about reading them one time. Orochimaru had left shortly thereafter vowing revenge.

"The Kyuubi brat is on the move. This is probably our best chance of catching him."

Itachi shrugged and went back to his book.

"He's no use to us for another three years or so."

Kisame frowned.

"Hey, don't be like that. Sure we can't unleash the statue till then, but that doesn't mean we can't catch and drain the little brat."

Itachi sighed and lowered the book again... slightly.

"You're not going to let this go are you?"

Kisame grinned and Itachi's sharingan whirled lazily confirming and re-confirming that his partner was in fact not going to let him read his book in peace. Itachi sighed again and marked his place.

"Fine. Let's get this over with."


"NEJI!"

Neji sighed.

Hanabi again

"I want another word with you."

"Yes Hanabi-Sama what can I do for you"

"Nara Shikamaru, What do you know about him"

Nothing I'm willing to tell you, you insufferable little brat.

Ever since he had been ordered to keep her confined to her room she seemed to take especial delight in singling him out.

Wasting my Time

The most mundane things suddenly needed his personal attention at her insistence,

'Fetch my food, escort me shopping, another glass of milk, a different pair of shoes, deliver this note to my friend'

The worst part of it all was the condescending smile when he did as she demanded. It wasn't just him either. All of the branch family had noticed it. She was more demanding, even less forgiving. She believed she was superior and she made sure they knew it...

"Nara Shikamaru. Recently promoted Chuuin as of the last exam. Supposed to be a genius who intentionally held himself back in academy trying to be as normal as possible. Likes to complain about how troublesome things are, but always seems half asleep unless in a battle of some kind."

Not what he seems, one of the most intelligent people you'll ever meet. Probably the strongest user of his bloodlines in generations, blessed of Nekomata, heir to the stag contract, heir to the Nara family as his brother was born sterile, holder of...

Neji ruthlessly suppressed the voice. He wasn't sure if it was his imagination, half remembered fragments of things he'd heard over the years, or if he was just plain losing his mind but that voice had been coming more and more often lately, and he didn't like it. Especially as he knew some of it to be false, Shikamaru had no siblings, and He, Neji had no Idea what the Nekomata would have to do with the Nara family..

Hanabi frowned

"That's all you know?"

"Yes Hanabi-Sama."

Neji barely held back a growl as the little brat had the audacity to actually reach up and pat him on the head as though he were a dog that had preformed a useful trick.

"Good boy Neji. You may go."

Neji's face was a perfect mask but inside he was seething.

Let me out brat, I'm more than willing to shred that useless little b...

"Yes Hanabi-Sama"

And despite the fact that she had interrupted him, despite the fact that he had been in the middle of his practice time. He calmly turned and walk away. The moment he was out of sight he activated his eyes, and noting that although smug, Hanabi had not activated hers he allowed himself a single strike against a nearby training post. Had they witnessed it, both Gai and Lee would have been shocked to see a textbook perfect Goken strike, The post shattered into a dozen large fragments, and Neji exhaled noisily.

This is getting out of hand.

You could go to Haishi...

Shut up.

With that he moved quickly toward his team's meeting place, he'd be a few hours early for practice today, but he really didn't care.


"And that's why I propose dropping the charges against Uchiha Sasuke. Obviously the boy wasn't in his right mind."

Inoichi kept his face carefully blank as he looking around the council room. Disgusted he noticed as a number of Shinobi nodded along with a strong third of the civilians.

"And what of the testimony of Uzumaki Naruto?"

Inoichi wasn't at all surprised to see the sneer of disgust the adorned the faces of nearly half the room.

"You'd really take the word of that... that Thing?"

A stronger portion of the room than before looked disgusted. What happened next though was a little surprising. Inoichi had expected that, as in years past, this was about to degenerate into a bitch fest about the resident Jinchuuriki. he was pleasantly pleased however when one of the new people sneering, replied before he had a chance to.

"That Thing saved a lot of lives, including that of my daughter and grand-daughter during the invasion. You don't have to like him, but you will respect him, or you and I will step outside."

The first speaker recoiled as if he had been slapped, incensed he opened his mouth to retort and stopped, suddenly seeming to notice that he was in the minority in the room. People who would have once sided with him in a heartbeat now glared at him ominously. Into the silence Inoichi spoke up again.

"Tell me Rou did you get around to reading my report about the boy?"

Rou sneered.

"I read enough. Obviously the boy bewitched you. He's turned you against this village, and if it weren't for your years of service to us I'd..."

He faltered as Inoichi drew a kunai with a flourish and proceeded to trim his nails, His eyes never leaving the man. Rou was an older Shinobi, not yet old enough to be retired under normal circumstances, but having never risen beyond Chuuin rank he had eventually stopped taking missions and had settled down to the quiet life of a merchant. Though it shouldn't have mattered here at a 'council of equals' he was suddenly and abruptly reminded of exactly how much of a difference there was between an Elite Jounin like Inoichi and himself. Not a hint of killer Intent leaked from Inoichi as he quietly replied.

"Yes? You were saying? What would you do Rou..?"

Rou swallowed convulsively but soldiered on.

"I'd suggest that perhaps you were losing your touch."

Inoichi quirked an eyebrow

"And?"

Rou swallowed nervously again and glanced around for support briefly before continuing

"And were in need of an evaluation yourself. Many of the E... elite Shinobi tend to... erm..."

Inoichi smiled, it was a cold and terrible smile. A falcon stooping on a frightened Rabbit.

"Go crazy? 'Round the twist? Go bat-shit? Snap? Crack under the pressure?"

"Erm..."

Inoichi nodded.

"I don't deny it. I was rather worried about it myself. Which is why I turned myself over to T and I for an evaluation of my own immediately after giving Naruto-san his."

Very few missed the respectful suffix on to the end of Naruto's name. Danzo was tempted to break in as he had no notation that the boy had even been looked at. His ROOT soldiers should have reported such a thing to him immediately. Wisely however he refrained from commenting.

"Ibiki. Could you come forward please?"

Standing Ibiki walked forwards until he was standing in the center of the group. Danzo seeing a chance to take back control of the meeting spoke up

"You looked over the evaluation yes?"

"I supervised it. Last thing we need is another Itachi."

Danzo Nodded

"And your professional opinion?"

"Despite suffering a great deal of stress recently he is in perfect control of his facilities."

"Recent stress?"

"It's none of your business, but he's overworked. I was going to bring this up later in the meeting when I make my annual request for more personnel."

"But you don't feel that this stress effected his work?"

"Of course it did. Three years ago he wouldn't have come to us and demanded the harshest review we could put him through. That being said I reviewed the case and conclusions with him after his review, and am willing to stake my career on his dissertation of the events. There may have been mitigating circumstances that we're not aware of, but honestly we at T and I have had our eye on the Uchiha for quite some time as he was showing signs of going rogue. In my professional opinion Inoichi's summery is if anything understated. The Uchiha's defection wasn't an 'If' it was a 'when'. He took his chance, he got lucky, and I recommend that he be given a 'B' rank in the Konoha bingo book."

"Kill or capture? Isn't that harsh? I'd think a detain and Question would be more than enough."

Ibiki shook his head.

"No. He wasn't aiming to incapacitate during his escape attempt. Had it been anyone else fighting him we would down a promising young Shinobi and he'd still be gone. At this point keeping the Sharingan out of enemy hands becomes our Number one priority."

Danzo was careful to keep his voice neutral as he replied

"Thank you, we'll take that under advisement."

"Any other business..."

Ibiki bowed and walked back to his seat, and Inoichi eyed him speculatively for a moment before re-focusing on Danzo. Both men were professional before anything else, but Inoichi couldn't help but feel that something significant had happened, but damned if he could figure out what.


Naruto Sighed. He knew where he was. He had been having a rather excellent dream involving ice-cream and a number of Kunoichi when it had suddenly gone dark, the air had turned musty, and as the room had started to lighten he had closed his eyes. He knew what was coming.

"Naruuutooo-kuuun..."

The glow increased and Naruto couldn't help but grumble as he opened his eyes to the massive cage in front of him

"What do you want fox."

The Kyuubi was currently in her 'Beautiful woman' form, And he had to admit she pulled it off nicely.

"Oh come now Naruto-kun, is that any way to treat a lady?"

Anyone else would probably have needed a moment to tell if she was being serious or not, Naruto on the other hand had recently had quite a lot of experience reading her inflection and body language. After their discussion about why she had attacked, the Kyuubi had taken to interrupting his dreams nightly so they could have a 'Talk'. Naruto heard the sarcasm immediately. And snorted instead of replying.

Kyuubi rolled her eyes.

"Aren't you Apes supposed to be friendly and cute when you're young?"

"Aren't you fox's supposed to be timid and scared of the big bad humans?"

Kyuubi allowed herself a small smirk.

"Touche'."

She'd never admit it, but she was actually starting to enjoy the banter. Say what you wanted to about him, the brat had spirit.

"So why'd you drag me here this time?"

"You told me I couldn't understand humans, I'm trying to understand you and you won't answer questions without me dragging them out of you? A tad hypocritical isn't that?"

"No more than you lecturing me on manners."

Kyuubi's eyes narrowed at the jab but the smile never left her face.

"Fine. Tell me Monkey, is there any reason your hopeless and primitive race would ever keep around family? You already told me procreation wasn't on the list, but I see siblings living together all the time when you wander about."

Naruto rolled his eyes.

"It's called Loyalty to the family. Not that I expect you to understand such a simple concept as..."

Naruto's smart remark was cut off by a pair of massive tails slamming into the bars across from him. Kyuubi was no long looking even remotely Human.

"Don't Lecture ME about loyalty human. It was YOUR pathetic race that introduced deception Into the world in the first place."

Naruto was actually surprised at the rage he saw in her eyes. After a second of glowering the Kyuubi shrank back to approximately Human Shape though she kept her tails and fur.

"Go away brat. I need to think."

Naruto rolled his eyes as the Kyuubi disappeared back into the shadows of her cell and muttered under his breath for a moment before willing himself awake.


Shikamaru sighed as he stared up at the clouds, The whole damn deal was troublesome as far as he was concerned. He and his father had been up all night negotiating with a Wolf Demon, And it had wanted some really odd things.

Why would it insist we eat only steak on the blue moon? Who really cares if a black cat crosses their path, and why should I cross my fingers and spit between them if it happens? About the only thing that makes any sense what so ever was its request to go roaming, and even then it volunteered stipulations.

Shikamaru glanced over at the wording of the oath the wolf had agreed to, and as far as he could tell it left the demon no wiggle room for misbehavior.

It's just Damn odd. It's like this has... happened...

"Eiji"

There was a moment before Shikamaru's shadow darkened slightly, and the demon answered.

"Whatcha want? You agree?"

"Not yet. I had a question. Why did you have the oath and all the rest ready?"

Eiji laughed softly before replying

"You think this was spur of the moment? I've had nearly five years to think about this."

"Five?"

Though Shikamaru couldn't see it Eiji shrugged.

"You think there's no consequences to us for being dumb enough to get caught? You humans have been doing this for Generations, in fact it's considered a bit of an honor on the other side, like a Vacation. It's a real pain in the ass to find a weak point and cross over, Of course the crossing tends to cause some pretty incredible damage on this side unless you've managed to form a contract over here. We live sealed for a while, we get incarnated into one of your bodies, we live a life of new things, we die, and we re-awaken on the other side with fresh knowledge to fight over."

"Fight over..."

Eiji Laughed

"I'm an immortal kid, You think it doesn't get boring? See the tails?"

Shikamaru had tried his best to ignore them, but he had indeed noticed the three tails twisting behind the demon, though they were only visible in its shadow. Sighing he nodded.

"They represent knowledge. Specifically knowledge I'm willing to fight for and about. If another demon managed to overpower me, or even get in a lucky hit, they'd steal a tail or two. Some hoard them, some use them for trade, some just want to deny the knowledge to whomever they stole it from. I would no longer remember it, and whomever stole it from me would. The more tails, the bigger a target you make yourself."

Shikamaru sighed

"Troublesome. Why bother attacking humans then? Wouldn't it be more to your benefit to stay in this world?"

Eiji shrugged

"Personally I have a beef with this Ox, Pardon the pun. I managed to pick up a tail and a half of knowledge, and I can't wait to get back and see if I can take him now. Thing is, the only way back is..."

"Through us."

Eiji Grinned

"Exactly."

"What about the Bijou then? Are they just trying to get back?"

Eiji's grin turned sickly and after a second vanished all together.

"No. The beings you call 'Bijou' are not trying to get back. In fact they can't get back. They just End. Or go wherever your dead go I suppose. Nobody is quite sure. The only thing we know is that they aren't of us, and they aren't of you. They are something else all together."

"But"

"Drop it. And don't call me again unless you have an answer."

And between one heartbeat and the next, the apparition was gone. Shikamaru sighed again at the empty room.


"... And your sure you can trust her?"

"I'm telling you Sakura She's fine. I don't know what you have against Jin but..."

Kakashi sighed.

The more things change, they more they stay exactly the same

Naruto and Sakura had been arguing for over an hour now about Naruto's newest house guest, and from what he had gathered Sakura's argument was 'I've never met her, and she doesn't exist in our files' and Naruto's was 'I know, I don't care, she's a good person.'

"All I'm saying is..."

"Enough"

Kakashi was pleased to notice that Sakura stopped mid sentence, and Naruto froze, immediately both went on the alert and started scan the area, the terseness in his voice telling them something was wrong.

"Sensei? What..."

Sakura was cut off by the rather large thrown sword that had forced her to jump aside. Distantly Kakashi heard Naruto murmur 'Samahade', it didn't register properly however as his full focus was on the man in front of him.

"Sharingan Kakashi. We meet again."

"Itachi. Your looking remarkably lively. Well, for a missing nin. What do you want?"

Itachi stared at him for a few moments longer before ignoring him in favor of Naruto.

"Naruto. Have you said your goodbye's?"

Naruto's answer was a snarl and a familiar cross shaped seal.

"Kage B...!"

He was cut off however by Kisame's appearance and subsequent attempt to remove his arms from his body.

"Tsk. Now Naruto-kun" Kisame Said with a grin "You should know better than to leave yourself open like that. It's Terribly unprofessional, not to mention dangerous."

Naruto scowled at him.

"Bite me."

Kisame's grin widened a fraction further displaying pointed teeth.

"Gladly"

And the fight was on! From the start Naruto was cursing up a storm as he narrowly avoided Kisame's first couple of swings. It was all he could do to dodge for the first half minute. Thankfully Sakura bought him a few precious seconds as a chakra charged fist split the ground open under the Nuke-nin's feet.

"Don't you Ignore me!"

Kisame Scowled at her.

"Stay out of it Kunoichi."

He eyed the broken trench

"Tsunade's apprentice or not, you're over your head here. This fight is between me and the brat."

Sakura opened her mouth to reply, but Naruto beat her to the punch.

"Then let's go Fishstick! Kage Bunshin!"

The sudden Smile that bloomed on Kisame's face at the sight of over fifty Kage-Bunshin charging him was frightening to behold.

"Now this is more like it brat!"

Kisame's enthusiasm lasted nearly a full minute. That was how long it took him to finish off the first batch of clones.

"Surely you can do better than that? I'm hardly warmed up!"

As he spoke Kisame casually tilted his head to one side allowing Sakura's punch to miss him by a hair. Grabbing her outstretched arm he tossed her bodily at Naruto.

"And tell your pet Kunoichi to stay the hell out of our fight too, She's rather annoying."

Sakura grinned fiercely at the admission she was a hindrance to him.

"Much like a small dog yapping at your heels, sooner or later, you're bound to snap and crush it's head under foot."

Sakura's grin died a quick death, and Kisame's toothy grin never wavered.

"Alright, You want a challenge, let's see how you handle this!"

Once again Naruto's hands crossed, this time nearly a hundred clones popped into existence. Kisame sighed.

"Fifty or fifty thousand, once you hit a certain point it's all..."

Kisame's speech broke off as he whirled his sword around to block the Rasengan attack aimed at his back. The whirling mass of chakra grinding impotently into the scaly finish of his sword for almost three seconds before breaking apart. It was followed shortly by the clone who had tried the sneak attack.

"Hmm... Or maybe not."

It was a massacre, No matter how many Shadow clones Naruto created, no matter what plans he came up, regardless of his use of the Rasengan, Kisame kept on coming. His blade a dervish of flashing blocks and swift strokes. Even when Sakura joined in, helping Naruto dodge fatal strokes, breaking open the ground around them, Even a memorable moment when she thought she had caught him with Chakra scalpels only to nearly lose an arm to Kisame's quick counter. Nothing stopped him.

Kakashi was no help to them, He was too busy with his own fight. He and Itachi faced off with an absolutely astounding array of Ninjutsu. Fire met wind, water countered fire, earth blocked water only to be shattered by lightening. Defenses that doubled as offenses clashed and shivered. Ancient trees were torn up by their roots and sent hurtling this way and that, Waves of fire and water clashed back and forth as lightening split the sky. For a moment It seemed that that Konoha Ninja would be victorious, Kisame had taken a number of minor wounds, including a well placed Nerve shot from Sakura that Severely hindered all his movement on the left side of his body, Kakashi and Itachi slowly circled each other, exhaustion painting their features, with only the occasional feint to test the other's reflex's. So when Itachi Threw a Kunai Hard and fast it was almost pitifully easy to dodge despite its speed. That is of course until he heard the cry behind him.

"Naruto!"

Momentarily forgetting his opponent Kakashi whirled around in shock. The Kunai that he had dodged hadn't been aimed at him. Their circling had left them with Kakashi's back to his students, and Itachi had taken advantage of their distraction to attack. Naruto had collapsed to his knees, his body Spasming violently even as his eyes started to cloud over. Kakashi had just enough time to register the kunai buried in the base of his student's skull before he was forced to dodge sideways. Shockingly enough, the attack he dodged was once again aimed at someone other than himself.

"Dammit Itachi! We were supposed to Capture him, not kill him!"

Itachi turned his emotionless eyes to his 'partner', The thrown Samahade buried hilt deep in a tree thirty feet behind him after his narrow deflection of the dangerous blade.

"And who said that I give a damn about the Akatsuki? Or what our 'Beloved leader' commands? My only loyalty is to myself, and all I wish is to test the height of my capacity. His death, while tragic, will probably save a great many lives in the future. "

Kisame stared at him open mouthed in shock.

"B…But…"

Itachi stood perfectly still for a moment before he moved, suddenly and violently. When he was done Kisame was doubled over with a Sword blade sticking out of his back where a liver would be on a normal human. Slowly standing, and keeping an eye on the shocked Shinobi that stood watching, Itachi leaned over and murmured into his ear.

"I know your little secret fish, and be warned, I will not dance to your tune, nor anybody else's. I did what I did to my family because I saw no other option. Any clan who could raise a child that would force his best friend to kill him shouldn't survive, and now I shall try to re-make My clan in the Image of the one I just killed. Why? Because the only true strength is in protecting another. You would do well to remember that."

Standing upright again Itachi turned and began walking away. Kisame however pulled out the sword which had failed to hit anything vital and hurled it end over end toward the Retreating Uchiha. Itachi however sidestepped and, without turning, snatched it, handle first, out of the air. Flicking the blood off the blade and sheathing it with a casual elegance he refused to look behind him he called out.

"I care nothing for Akatsuki. I care nothing for its goals. Call this my resignation."

And with that he shimmered out of view leaving his Akatsuki cloak to slowly collapse behind him. Kisame stared at the place where the figure had vanished before he suddenly cursed, grabbed his sword, and proceeded to take off at superhuman speeds in a different direction leaving the stunned ninja to gather their Dead and heal the wounded


Kyuubi could feel the Body dying around her as one by one her containers organs shut down. It was the moment of truth she knew. Yet now, with everything she wanted almost within her grasp she couldn't do it. With a sad sigh she walk out of the cage, the whole thing flickering once more as it tried to do its job. Kyuubi swept it aside however, and as the last of it vanished she spread out her power, filling Naruto's body with her own chakra. Forcing muscle and bone to knit back together at an incredible rate. Pushing against the steel in its resting place in Naruto's spine. She could feel the soul was gone, that it had already begun to move on. With a sadness in her eyes she stretched out her spirit and caressed Naruto's.

It is not your time child. Come back

What? B…But.

Come back, Your friends await you.

Confused at the quiet desperation in her voice, Naruto drifted back down to his body

"I already tried to go back in, I can't."

Kyuubi looked at him again and sighed.

"Lay down on top of your body."

Naruto shrugged, his nudity not bothering him, not even in the presence of his former tenant. Somehow it just didn't seem to matter anymore. As he did so he felt Kyuubi's hands caressing his face. Gentle, soft, so completely unlike the demon he knew from this lifetime, so different from the monster he had defeated in the last. Slowly he relaxed as they settled onto his forehead, he was about to ask what was going on when he suddenly heard Kyuubi whisper

"I'm sorry my heart but I will never find you, I fear this is more important."

Shocked Naruto opened his eyes and tried to jerk his head up, he was too late however. In a blinding flash of chakra Kyuubi snapped the ties that kept her in the mortal realm and forced them onto Naruto. He felt a strong jerk at the back of his head and then he knew no more.


Kakashi knelt beside the Naruto's body holding tightly to a sobbing Sakura, letting her cry herself out at the loss of a team-mate. He knew it was hard, especially on Kunoichi, but death was irreversible. Sighing he reached down and pulled out the Kunai that had Severed Naruto's spine, Tears coming to his eyes as well as he watched the Kyuubi's frantic chakra race across the body. It was too late though. The seal was a solid shimmering red, and he could see Naruto's chakra dragging the Kyuubi's with it as it was absorbed back into the ground. A sure sign the spirit maintaining it was gone. He was startled therefore when he suddenly felt a rapid buildup of Spiritual chakra in Naruto's body. Reacting on instinct he leapt backward carrying Sakura with him, just in time too, for a moment later a rose-hued chakra burst from Naruto's body healing him almost instantly. There was a second or two of calm after that, and then suddenly Naruto's eyes jerked open and he took a ragged rasping breath, and then another. Kakashi dropped Sakura in his shock. Then rubbed his eyes and looked again, His Sharingan spun so quickly it blurred into a perfect circle as it verified again and again that Naruto's heart was beating, and his chest was rising and falling with its accustomed precision. The nearly depleted spiritual Chakra was pouring though it's pathways again, and the seal... was... gone? He was so shocked in fact that he failed to stop Sakura as she threw herself onto Naruto and began planting kisses all over his face. After another second or two Naruto managed to sit up and get his rather excited team-mate off his chest. wheezing, his throat rough from its recent brush with a kunai he still managed a half smile before rasping out...

"Good to see you too Sakura-chan, Hello Kakashi-Sensei."

Sakura suddenly scowled and punched him lightly in the chest

"Don't you EVER do that to me again you asshole! Do you know how I felt? Do you know what seeing you like that did to me!"

Naruto winced slightly.

"Sorry Sakura, You can be the one to come back from the dead next time if you want."

She punched his chest again before she collapsed back into his arms, sobbing into his shoulder.

"Hey, hey, it's alright, I'm fine now."

When Sakura didn't answer he looked toward Kakashi who just shrugged at him, managing to keep his overwhelming joy contained for a bit longer. After a moment however he asked.

"what about…."

He paused and gestured to Naruto's stomach. Naruto grimaced a little bit and averted his eyes before replying

"I think… that I will want to speak to Tsunade as soon as possible."

Kakashi nodded and turned to walk back toward the town saying

"I'll set up an appointment for us then"

With his arms full of a crying Sakura Naruto missed seeing him wipe a tear of joy away before pulling his headband back down to cover the Sharingan.

You're Quite a man Uzumaki Naruto, Quite a man.


Nearly a thousand miles away from the town, a volcano at the edge of Earth country and the wilds, one that had long been inactive, suddenly burst back to life. Heat and smoke belched out of its mouth and rivers of lava poured forth, burning a trail of destruction down the side of the massive mountain until it reached the sea. There the elements collided raising whirling clouds of steam. The Steam soon combined with the soot overhead, collecting and forming a massive thunderstorm. It seemed a short eternity that the elements raged until with a sudden crack, a bolt of pure power struck from the clouds into the still cooling Lava. Again it struck, and again, till suddenly with a great groan the round bubble of lava it had been striking split open spilling forth a beautiful young girl with brilliant red hair. The woman crawled forward toward the surf, away from the blazing heat of the volcano that had spawned her, and she shivered as a sudden wave spilled over her naked body. Panting she just lay there, allowing the waves to wash away her pain, and the elements to sing to her their perpetual songs of Raw power and fierce majesty, it was as she laid there panting that she suddenly heard it, the song that she had been searching for since the beginning of time. Shocked she staggered to her feet, unsteady at first, but rapidly gaining proficiency as she first stumbled, and then began a lumbering jog which quickly became a sprint. Without warning her form changed, her hair spreading across her body, her ears shifting to the top of her head, and with a sudden wrench she sprouted three vibrantly red-gold tails. Pausing only to shake herself for a brief moment, she took off at top speed even as a fourth tail emerged. She didn't care however, HE was there, and he still lived! Weeping openly she sprinted onward into fire country. The song beckoned, it lamented, but still it was there, soft and sweet, and she knew without a doubt that it was for her he sang.


A\N: Still Alive. Yes I know that NaNoWriMo is all but over, and I swear I've been diligently working on getting my contribution out, thing is that the Muse isn't cooperating again, and has had me jumping between a couple of Random Idea's and my Main stories. -Shrugs- What can I say, Variety is the spice of life. That being said, don't be shocked if there's a couple more update to some of my other stuff in the near future.

~Manatheron~