"What's wrong Yugito-chan?" N asked as he slurped up his miso ramen noodles, besides him Yugito was eating her own nonperishable noodles without gusto, a slightly angry and depressed expression on her face. The two Chunin of Kumogakure no Sato were sitting on a pier, awaiting the orders of Prince Michiru to get on board to sail to the capitol of Moon Country.
Yugito sighed as she looked at the sun setting on the waves of the ocean, its brilliant golden lights spreading the land in its warmth, her sandaled feet idly stirred the water beneath her. "The stupid Ringmaster had to put Cham in a cage, said it was better if he was in his cage during the voyage." Yugito unhappily slurped up some noodles, "Can you believe that?"
N hummed in agreement to his best friends words, "Well he is a tiger, maybe the guy doesn't want Cham to scare any of the sailors?"
"He's not that scary, honestly."
N gave her a dead pan, "Have you seen those fangs of his? Not to mention he sorta tries to attack anyone who comes near him if you aren't any of us, but I think that's just because Cham knows we're your friends."
Yugito rolled her eyes, before she looked at him with amused eyes. "And yet I see that the Ringmaster hasn't asked you to put your little friend in his cage yet, eh?"
Small nimble fingers had slowly inched their way into N's ramen cup, before quickly retracting with the noodly goodness that was instant ramen, the soft slurps audible even with the waves crashing against the stonework of the harbor and the beach.
N smiled as he patted Kiki the monkey on his head, mindful of his little hat. "What can I say, obviously I intimidate that Ringmaster. Plus Kiki isn't as intimidating as Cham is, unless your hiding fangs the size of my arm somewhere in ya, eh?" He asked the monkey who merely blinked with his wide green eyes, his mouth full of noodles.
Yugito watched as the little monkey climbed up N's arm and up his back until his whole form was nearly hidden in N's golden locks. She had to beat back the microscopic dark and evil piece of her that was a fan girl from squealing kawai.
N suddenly turned thoughtful as he looked at the tides hitting the stone pier silently below their feet, he slowly turned his chopstick in his ramen as he pondered on his thoughts, and finally N spoke.
"Yugito-chan… Do you remember anything about your mother?" He asked so softly that Yugito had to strain her ears to catch; when the words slowly computed in her mind she looked at her best friend with wide eyes and a confused look.
"What brought this on?" The blonde orphan asked her best friend and fellow Jinchuuriki with surprise, the topic of her parents had only come up once in their lifetime. And that was when they had died and Yugito had come to live with the Raikage's family, when she had first meet N for the very first time. She had only been three at the time, as had N, and she could barely even remember the encounter.
"I just…. Something happened when we were at Michiru's wife's house, and…. It just made me realize something…" N's hands were clenched to his sides; Yugito could see the faint glint of his blue eyes even underneath his crimson shades. "I never knew my mother…" He said softly, "It never really mattered, I had my dad and my brothers and they're the only family I needed. I love them, and they love me. Simple as that."
"But?" Yugito asked her friend softly, understanding him more than he realized.
"But it makes me wonder what it would have been liked to have a mom. How she'd read me stories at night and tuck me in, give me a kiss on the cheek and all that stuff they have in the movies and books," N said. "I know about her from Kyu… But I've never looked at her memories."
Yugito jerked her head in surprise, she had been there when Kyuubi had told N that his mother had been his previous container, and how he held some of her memories. She had always assumed that N had taken up the fox on his offer; if her mother had been Nibi's container she would have taken it in a heartbeat. But to find out that N had never done it surprised her greatly.
"Why?" She asked curiously, "That's the best way to know your mother. Since she's, well, gone. Going through her memories is the next best thing. Why didn't you?"
"Because the only memories Kyuubi can give me are the few times she had gone into the seal…"
Then Yugito understood immediately why, she had been there too when Kyuubi had told him how N's mother had treated him.
"She strung him up on a giant bolder wrapped in chains, spikes were pierced through his tails and hands… She never realized the real Kyu." N said softly, a small tear trailing down his tanned and whiskered cheeks. Yugito slipped her hand in N's and gave him a reassuring squeeze. "My mom was a kuinoichi, of course she'd be dangerous, but to her enemies. And Kyuubi was an enemy, to her. She didn't do what we did, befriend our so called 'burdens'."
"In her defense, I think we're the first ones to do that so far," Yugito said softly, she knew how much Nibi hated her previous Jinchuuriki, and for the nice and pervy Bijuu to hate someone that person had to have done something to get on her bad side, and Yugito was sure he hadn't tried to befriend the Two-Tails.
"Yeah… But it still doesn't change the fact of what she did, I understand why. Sure Kyu can be a bit of a dick, but he's a good friend. He's like another brother, granted a brother bigger than the Raikage Tower and the temper issues of my brother and father combined, but he's not that bad. Hell he's probably the only normal one in our family," N mused with a slight grin, not knowing that Kyuubi was listening to his words with disbelief, the great Nine Tails didn't say anything but he was silently glad that he had taken up N's offer all those years ago.
"I don't want to see my mom's memories because I don't want to see the bad ones," N explained. "I don't want that to be the one thing I know about my mother, I want to remember what Kyu told me. How she was so caring and protective of her friends and family… and how much she loved me."
Yugito leaned her head against N's shoulder, her hand still in N's hand. N sighed as he leaned his head against hers. Together the two watched the sunset, each lost in their own thoughts. Thinking of the mothers they would never know.
"Hikaru's mom left him and his dad a couple years ago, the kid barely even remembers her." N said after a couple minutes of silence, "She left him because she couldn't stand Michiru and his materialistic ways. She was a simple born woman, plain and simple. She kind of reminded me of Tsunami, and seeing as Michiru is, well, Michiru. She couldn't stand their different ways of life, so she left."
"Has he spoken since you guys got back?" Yugito asked, her slitted eyes trained on the solitary form of Hikaru sitting on a wooden pier, he was playing on the game console but even from so far away the Jinchuuriki could see the frown marring his pale features.
"Not a peep." N asserted, having now gone back to eating his ramen noodles with fervor. "Kinda nice, really."
Yugito rolled her eyes, "N, don't be a jerk. Don't you remember Inari and how you guys always butted heads? Now he calls you big brother, hell you even gave him a pair of your sunglasses. Watch, sooner or later I think you two will get along."
"Pfft, and I'm more likely to swear off the color red and stop eating ramen."
Yugito stood up, "Whatever N, I'm going to go check on the boat. Kiki, come with me. I'll put you in Cham's cage, you can be with N later, okay?" She asked the monkey who looked at her with wide green eyes before leaping from N's golden locks onto her arm.
N gave her a wave of goodbye, "I'll stay here. Make sure Hikaru doesn't die again. Plus I need to regain my manliness after you saw me tear up a little. Maybe I'll punch a dolphin in the face or something," N mused while Yugito chuckled at his antics before walking away. N watched as Yugito entered the large cruise liner that would take them to the capitol.
N finished off the rest of his ramen, his ears perking slightly as he heard footsteps against the aged wood. He glanced up to see Hikaru looking at him.
"Is that good?" Hikaru gestured towards the ramen cup, speaking for what must have been the first time in hours.
N broke his chopsticks with a resulting snap, before putting them in the empty cup. He looked at Hikaru but saw no ill feelings in his amber eyes; N raised a golden brow suspiciously. "What's up with you being nice? You remind me of my friend Samui, who's cold as ice."
Hikaru blinked unsurely, not at all used to N's raps. N rolled his eyes, not that Hikaru could see under his dark sunglasses. "Yeah its good," N snorted, "But not good enough for you, I bet."
Hikaru looked away with a small scowl on his face; obviously he wasn't used to being insulted.
"You don't like me, do you?" Hikaru asked the Chunin who had stood up, nearly towering over the young boy.
"Huh, looks like Yugito was right. You do have a brain, and here I was wondering that thinking caused you pain," N said dryly as he made to leave to where he knew would be his and his teammates quarters.
Unknown to the blond Jinchuuriki who was walking away from the boy, Hikaru suddenly came to a realization and had to speak his mind. With his lips turned into a smug smirk Hikaru called out after the teenager, "Be my servant!"
N stopped walking immediately. His eyes wide behind his shades and his whole body tensed. N turned his head around in confusion, "Wah?"
Hikaru took his chance and continued, "If you were my servant, I could give you anything you want!"
N rolled his eyes and walked away, "I don't need your charity kid, I can get my own stuff without your help." He started to walk away back towards the boats. Hikaru followed him, much to the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki's annoyance.
"Toys, games… Anything you want!"
"I'm a shinobi kid, we stopped playing with toys a long time ago. As for games what kind of games would you even think I was interested in? I'm a shinobi, we don't play civilian games. We consider playtime being entailed to use explosion tags and smoke bombs… Kinda outa your league."
"I can give you anything, there has to be something you want!"
Jeez, this guy is persistent I have to give him that. But honestly if he thinks toys are going to win me over, he's going to have to duck fast. He thought in his normal rhymes.
"Why don't you want to be my servant?" Hikaru demanded, obviously at a lost on why N kept refusing his offers.
N's eye twitched, as did his fists. Must. Resist. Urge. To. Kill. Annoying. Brat. He thought desperately as he resisted the urge to punch the boy across the bay. He turned around so fast that Hikaru bumped into him; N leaned over him with a small growl, making the prince back up with wide eyes. "Don't treat people like your personal playthings," he growled out, his hands clenched into fists.
Hikaru winced, obviously expecting the boy to explode on him. Luckily for the heir N had enough temper control beat into him by Yugito to not punch him through the metal ship. With a scoff N turned away and stalked away, not noticing Hikaru's dark look.
N froze as he felt one of Hikaru's toy arrow stick to the back of his head, his face turned the color of Kyuubi's eyes as he slowly turned around. Hikaru lowered the bow and backed up nervously as N grabbed the arrow from the back of his head, snapped it in two easily, and then channeled a large amount of crimson lighting to his palms, turning the arrow into nothing but ash that scattered with the wind.
"Kid." N growled out, his face an ugly shade of vermillion. "I would run if I were you, otherwise Moon Country is going to be short one prince!" He roared into Hikaru's face, Hikaru leapt back before racing away from the angry Jinchuuriki and towards the ship.
"Huh, you didn't beat the kid into a bloody pulp. Looks like Yugito's lessons on self-control and temper has finally gotten through that thick skull of yours," Kyuubi spoke to the boy for the first time since they had fought Chifu.
"Hey Kyu, how long have you been up? Thought you were taking one of those old timer naps."
A snort echoed in N's head with the intensity and volume of a large explosion, "Pfft. I don't take 'old timer' naps. I have nothing else to do in here; least I'm not in that cramped cage anymore. The smell of that sewage water is going to take years to get rid of!"
N snickered internally, "Heh, who'd have thought that the great Kyuubi was worried over how he smelled? If you want I can change my whole lifestyle so it smells like a grandmother's attic, if you so desire oh mighty Nine-Tails."
"If you do that, I will not hesitate to eat you."
"No you wont, you love me."
"You're right, you'd probably taste awful. I still hate you though."
"Huh, so it looks like Yugito threats-, I mean lessons, on controlling your temper worked," Omoi said with a nervous look, having seen the heated glare from the Nibi Jinchuuriki and had quickly changed his vocabulary, least he wanted to be sliced into cat kibble and fed to Shishi.
Omoi and the others could think of no other hell worse than that.
N didn't say anything; he merely continued to eat the large hunk of meat that had been brought before him. His mouth seemed to unhinge as he stuffed the large leg of some large and plump animal into his mouth, only the white tibia visible. N managed to make muffled sounds as he tried to talk; he swallowed heartily as he took out the clean bone. "I really wanted to punch that kid, but I'm not dumb enough to hit a kid who may one day rule a nation. We already got enough stuff going on, plus I'd rather not get thrown through a window by dad."
Karui took a large bite out of her own leg of meat, her facial features turning thoughtful. "Doesn't that already happen now?" The redhead asked the shaded Chunin, who grunted something while his friends and comrades snickered, knowing that Karui was right.
N leaned backwards in his chair, his arms crossed as he scowled at his still snickering friends. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Darui, his own sensei, had a wry grin as he silently chucked as well. "You guys just don't get our manly love. We're Yotsuki, we don't compliment each other or what other families do, we punch each other through walls and have meat eating contests."
Yugito turned green as she remembered those contests, "Ugh. How in the seven hells do you guys even do that? Where does it all go? Well aside from Bee, his food just gets all over the room."
He shrugged, "Like I said. We're Yotsuki. We're the manliest men around!" He said proudly, sitting tall and proud at his seat.
The moment was ruined when Karui got annoyed by his smug, if not true, statement and flicked a pea at the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, which hit dead center of his forehead.
The others laughed while N leaned forward, his cheeks a bright red as he fumed at the young girl, who merely smirked and leaned backwards. Before the young Jinchuuriki could argue with the brash kuinoichi and also his childhood friend, their conversation was not meant to be. The reason being the arrival of Prince Michiru.
The silverware clattered as the man's beefy hand hit against the table in an effort to stop himself from crashing onto the deck of the ocean liner. The man's face was a bright color of vermillion, the empty bottle being the reason why. "Oh sorry!" The prince slurred out as he leaned backwards and nearly tripped as the boat rocked slightly, he gave the Chunin and one Jonin a small beam as he bobbed his head to the tune one of the circus folk were playing on their bongos. "If I dance and be merry, than I won't have to think, no heavy thoughts at all!" He explained to the Chunin, as he started to dance to the tune. Either he had been born with two left feet or the prince was so drunk it was affecting his motor skills.
Michiru yelped as the liner rocked yet again, sending him careening to the side with an exaggerated display of flailing arms.
N glanced over to see Hikaru sullenly looking at the table of assorted shinobi and kuinoichi, judging from the kids face he had been watching their heated yet warm exchange of good natured barbs from the other side of the deck. Seeing as his father was drunk and was his only real companion, the boy sat alone.
The blond looked down as he felt soft fur brushing against his neck, Kiki's wide green eyes were staring up at him pleadingly. N chuckled, "Oh alright." He groaned good naturally as his hand went into one of the hidden pockets in his flak jacket before reappearing with a handful of dried fruit.
"You keep dried fruit in your flak jacket, N-kun?" Yugito asked with a dead pan as she watched Kiki quickly gobble down the fruit before giving his friend a small furry thumb up.
N raised a brow at her, "And why wouldn't I. What else would I put in my pocket?"
"Smoke bombs, kunai, shuriken, ninja wire…. You know something that we actually need?"
The Jinchuuriki smirked, "Well when you three are stuck in a cave with a giant boulder trapping the entrance, you wont have any food."
Karui munched on her breadstick, "I'd just break the boulder. Since we'd have explosive tags in our pockets, or I could just punch it until its rubble." She said off-handedly.
N sighed wearily and ran his hand through his shaggy golden locks, "Why can't I even win an argument or conversation with you? You keep twisting my words until I'm all black and blue!"
The assorted Chunin groaned at his words, Omoi and Karui looked especially annoyed as after they had finally become Chunin they had hoped to take a break from N's older brother and their sensei that seemed to have a rather large influence on N, seeing as he opted to rap just like Kirabi. They wished they had taken the escort mission with Ko and Samui to the Land of Frost. At least then they would have been several countries or so away from the two self-proclaimed artists and wouldn't have to listen to them for a couple of weeks.
The Yotsuki blinked as he looked up at the sky, just noticing the approaching darkness of night. They had arrived at the impromptu party before the sun had begun to set, night had slowly set in while they had traded light-hearted barbs and feasted on food that wasn't packaged in a cup or dried rations. Muttering an excuse, N got up while the others decided to stay for a bit longer, catching up on matters they hadn't discussed yet.
With a content smile, N walked towards the door that led to the lower decks of the liner, which was where he and his comrades spent their nights. He paused suddenly as he heard the low rumble of thunder in the distance.
N glanced up at the sky and noticed the crescent moon shining above him, the stars dancing and twinkling in their ethereal light. Dark storm clouds were beginning to form on the horizon, the smallest flashes of lighting appearing far away rom the ship.
The Chunin then heard a rustling in his mind, the sound of a large animal shifting ever so slightly before he heard the rumbling and booming voice of one of his closest companions. "Storm clouds are gathering." The great Kyuubi growled out as he looked through N's eyes.
A storm is coming, N agreed with his tenant who had been with him since even before his birth, his lifelong companion. But it make you wonder, is it just this physical storm…. Or an ill omen that speaks of dark times ahead of us?
"I do not know, young one." Kyuubi said truthfully as both human and Bijuu watched the approaching storm clouds. N knew that the direction the winds were flying and the direction they were sailing, they were going to collide.
The animals should be tethered, or I hope at least the crew got around to that. N thought before he entered the metal hallway and followed the way to his room that he shared with Omoi. The thoughts of storms still fresh on his mind.
"N! Omoi!" A hand roughly shook N's shoulder that woke the boy abruptly from his dream. His eyes snapped open and he blearily looked at the person who had waked him up, Yugito stood before him dressed in a purple jacket and ninja pants, her wide eyes looked worried.
"Yugito?" Omoi mumbled out as he shifted in his cot to look at his childhood friend with bleary brown eyes. "What are you doing here?" His eyes narrowed ever so slightly, whether in suspicion or exhausted no one knew. "What if you really aren't Yugito and instead you're an imposter who's trying to kidnap N and the heirs to Moon Country? I could have stopped you had I not been lazy and…"
"Shut up Omoi!"
Omoi was suddenly hit on the head by his sandal that had been thrown at him by none other than Karui, who was also dressed in her day clothes. Though her blood-red hair was frizzy from the sea and climate and looked like she had just rolled out of bed was the only sign that it was late in the night.
"Yugito, Karui, what's going on?" N asked blearily as he sat up from his cot and rubbed his eyes to get rid of the sleep that clung to his eyes.
"Are you deaf?" Karui asked sarcastically before gesturing around the room.
N then noticed that the boat was rocking back and forth violently; he could hear the clap of thunder that boomed so loud it jarred his teeth and though he could not see it he knew that lightning was flashing through the dark sky. N realized immediately.
They had hit the storm. And now the storm was hitting them back with the wrath and rage of a very angry Bijuu.
"The animals!" Omoi cried out as he realized with dawning horror that the circus animals that Michiru had bought where still on the top deck in their cages that were only tethered to the boat by thick ropes, but even rope that thick could easily break as the cages shifted on the rocking boat.
N quickly got out of bed and grabbed his jacket, Omoi doing the same. Fully aware that he was just wearing boxers he grabbed a pair of sweatpants that were crumpled on the floor and quickly put them on, not noticing that Yugito and even Karui were blushing profusely.
N flipped the back of his hood onto his head, "Lets go." N said as the ninja rushed out of the room, knowing that each second was precious in saving the animals.
As they ran down the hallway (not even violently rocking boat could deter them or slow them down) Karui, ever the bluntest of them, couldn't help but say, "So do all your boxers have pictures of… grinning fox heads?" She sent him a look that N just knew she was judging him. "Really?" She asked with a complete deadpan.
"Shut up, Karui," N muttered under his breath darkly. "I'm sorry, I didn't know that my choice in boxers were going to be scrutinized tonight."
N stopped as he realized he had barreled into someone, sending the person crashing to the ground, though N hadn't realized it until the person had made a noise, and what was the most surprising thing was the person who was skulking around the ship during the stormy night.
Sure enough the second in line for the throne of Moon Country was currently sitting on his bum and rubbing the spot on his head that had bumped against the thin carpet. Hikaru stopped his administrations to his sore body part when he realized that it was N who had run into him.
N saw that Omoi, Karui, and Yugito had stopped further down the hallway and waiting for him to join them. N gave them a quick wave that signaled for them to continue on, before he looked down at Hikaru and crouched down to look the amber-eyed boy square in the eye.
Hikaru realized that this was the first time he had seen N without his sunglasses (Seeing as the young Chunin had left them on his nightstand) and was completely surprised to see N's sky blue eyes staring at him with a questionable look.
"Cat got your tongue?" N asked bluntly as he crossed his arms. Hikaru glanced down shyly, the last time they had talked flashed through his head.
N sighed when he realized he wasn't getting anywhere and was wasting time. "What are you doing here, Hikaru? Shouldn't you be with your father safe in your room?"
Hikaru bit his lip before that old spark reignited in Hikaru's eyes and he then rebuked rather childishly (though seeing as Hikaru was a child, N couldn't blame him) "What are you doing here?"
"We're going to help save the animals. Their cages and tethers wont do them any good in this type of weather. If we don't hurry than they'll be thrown over board and drown." He explained with a surprising amount of patience.
Yugito would be proud that he at least refrained from hitting the source that highly annoyed him, but since Hikaru was a kid that sort of helped the heir apparent.
Hikaru scoffed at that and looked down at the worn carpet as he leaned against the wall of the hallway. "Just leave them alone," he muttered softly under his breath but N easily heard him even with the waves crashing against the boat and the roaring thunder.
N blinked. "Say that again?" He asked quietly but there was anger evident in his tone.
Hikaru scoffed again, making N wonder if he shared any lineage with the Uchiha, "I'm already sick of those animals." The young boy said rather darkly before looking away from the young Chunin from Kumogakure. "Just let them be."
Hikaru jerked in surprise and fear as N's fist crashed through the wall with ease, barely an inch away from his face. Plaster rained down on the boy and scattered in his wild hair as Hikaru raised his hands to his face to deflect any wayward splinters.
After a couple seconds of tense silence, Hikaru glanced up. N's bloodshot crimson eyes burned down into the golden eyes of the prince, who immediately gasped in fear and tried to scurry backwards but the wall prevented him from getting farther away from the Jinchuuriki who had finally lost his temper.
"Y-You…" N said darkly, his hands clenched into tight and shaking fists. "How can you even say that? Do you even care about anything besides yourself?" N spat at the spoiled prince, who quivered under the gaze of the Kyuubi container. When Hikaru didn't speak, N spoke again in such a soft voice it felt as sharp as a sharpened sword. "You're trash, you know that? No, you're worse than trash!"
Hikaru didn't say anything, even when N stared at him angrily he couldn't find the willpower or courage to speak. But N didn't care and continued on his angry rant that he had wanted to say since the boy had first tried to shoot him with a toy arrow. "You don't care about anyone but yourself. You're spoilt to the core. You have no sense of honor or manners and treat my friends and I like we're beneath you…. Here's a newsflash, kid," N poked the boy rather sharply in the chest with his finger. "Omoi, Karui, Yugito, Darui-sensei are better people than you. This crew is better than you, the circus workers are better than you… because none of them are spoilt brats who don't give a rats ass about others… go, run back to your room where you're safe and out of the way while people actually try to do something noble and not be cowards."
N then turned on his heel and ran down the hallway where his comrades and closest friend had run down, leaving the quivering Hikaru leaning against the wall with a slumped head.
The heir's entire body quivered as he laid there on the ground, his hands balled into tiny fists. "I…. am not trash!" Hikaru slowly declared as he looked up, his amber eyes seemed to glow in determination and anger.
With that said and done, Hikaru stood up and raced down the hallway where N and the others had through as fast as his slipper clad feet could take him.
"Karui!" N yelled to his fellow Chunin as he held one of the ropes that were tethered to the neck of the large mammoth. "Help a friend out over here!"
Karui handed Omoi a handful of prairie dogs that she had taken out of the cage and raced over to where her friend was pulling the rope towards the lower deck that the crew members were trying to lead the panicked animals down.
The mammoth reared backwards as lighting flashed the storm torn sky and as thunder boomed Karui and N had to jump backwards to avoid being smashed by the beast's giant front feet. "Come on buddy," N coaxed the giant mammal gently as they pulled the giant being towards the giant door.
Luckily their combined strength allowed the to pull the beast out of it's cage and towards safety and while the giant furred elephant fought and struggled, he soon gave up and allowed the ninja to pull him towards the lower deck where the other circus animals were being led down.
"N, Karui!" Yugito yelled over the roar of the storm, she had started to channel a small amount of chakra to the soles of her feet as the deck was starting to flood from the seawater that crashed into the ship with mighty waves and the boat rocked back and forth violently. The others had also done this so none of them had to worry about being swept off the boat by a stray sea wave. "Have any of you guys seen Cham?" The Nibi Jinchuuriki asked loudly as she ran towards them.
Both Chunin shook their heads in a 'negative'. Yugito cursed as she glanced around, but the rain was pouring so fast and thick it was near impossible to see with the animals being moved around and the men and women working as fast as possible did little to help.
"Look out!" The cry of one of the circus workers broke through the roaring sounds of the vengeful ocean; N glanced up as lightning struck the sky in a blaze of powerful light. He saw that the large towering stacks of metal boxes start to sway precariously in the powerful gale of wind, N blinked as he saw the very top start to tumble, causing a deadly domino effect.
Quick as the Yellow Flash, N shushined in a burst of red lighting and grabbed ahold of a crewmember who had been about to be crushed by several tons of souvenirs. The shinobi quickly shushined back to safety, setting down the shell-shocked civilian down on the flooding deck before racing back into the fray.
Chaos. Pure utter chaos reigned through the boat, animals fighting against their ropes and chains, their eyes wide with fear as men and women raced to save them from the fury of the storm. Lightning flashed and illuminated the boat as clear as day; N would've long slipped off the flooded deck without the use of chakra.
"Young master!" the terrified yell of the Ringmaster was barely audible over the roaring waves of the ocean and the screaming of the harsh winds. N glanced upwards, having to squint through the layer of seawater and rain, only to see a flash of teal against the darkness.
Hikaru, dumb brave Hikaru, was attempting to unlock the large cage that belonged to Cham, the Siberian tiger that had tried to kill him mere days ago. The boy slipped as the boat rocked violently, but managed to keep a good grip on the iron bars of the cage. Cham didn't attempt to attack, he merely stood there with wide fearful eyes as the storm threatened to sink the massive ship.
Hikaru finally managed to twist the large bronze key, and quickly opened up the cage. Cham leapt out of the metal box, Kiki climbing up his wet flank in relief to see his companion.
N saw as a faint triumphant smile grace the prince's lips, his amber eyes wide with pride as he saw Cham free from his cage. Not a moment later, a large wave crashed against the hull, enveloping Cham's cage in its greedy grip before sweeping away while the cage began to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Had Hikaru not freed the tiger, than Cham would have met an unsavory end at the bottom of the sea.
"Maybe the kid isn't that bad,"Kyuubi muttered in N's head, the young Jinchuuriki slowly agreeing with him.
Before the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki could so much as blink, lighting flashed overhead, illuminating a wave as high as the ship. The wave slammed against the cruise liner with the fury of a divine being, N started forward as the water rushed at Hikaru. A moment later he was gone, swept away by the wave.
"No, Hikaru!" N rushed forward, ignoring the waves of seawater slamming against him. He leaned over the side of the ship to see Hikaru dangling from a wayward net, his foot slowly loosening and threatening to drop him to a watery grave.
The moment Hikaru started to plummet, N's hand clasped around the boy's ankle. "Don't you dare fall," N yelled over the roars of the storm.
"O-Okay," Hikaru stuttered out, his eyes glued on the form of the Cloud Chunin who, as though he was a sack of potatoes, managed to lift him back to the safety of the deck.
"Are you okay?" N questioned as he squatted down by the downed child, who suddenly felt very, very tired.
"Mmmm…." Hikaru murmured out, his eyelids felt heavy, the young prince saw something big and furry run towards them, and suddenly the smell of salt water was briefly overcome with the pungent smell of wet fur.
Hikaru watched as N's mouth opened and closed, obviously yelling something over the roars of the storm, but even that has slowly lessened as darkness reached around the corners of his eyesight. Hikaru closed his eyes…
Days soon passed after the storm had hit the ship. Hikaru had awoken the next morning healthy and fine, despite the life-threatening situation he had thrown himself into at the expense of saving Cham's life.
It seemed Cham had realized this as well, for the next time Hikaru had set foot on the deck, Cham didn't snarl nor growl at the prince. The proud black spotted tiger had merely prowled up to the nervous royal, and nuzzled his large head against the boy's chest, purring like a house cat.
N realized that maybe he was wrong about Hikaru. Sure the kid could be a spoilt brat at times, but his actions proved that he was redeemable. Saving Cham's life, even putting his own in danger, just proved that.
N had sheepishly apologized for yelling at him, claiming that his temper did sometimes get the best of him.
Yugito had bonked him on the head when he said that, claiming that he let his temper get to him all the time. She conceded when she realized that he was just being N, brash lovable N who would rather run through a wall than use a door or window.
Hikaru had started to cry then, not caring what those aboard the ship thought of them. He had apologized to N for being a jerk, for treating him and his friends like trash, and for acting like trash himself. N had merely grinned, finding the meeting reminiscent of Inari back at Wave, and had brushed the apology away and instead held his hand out for a fist bump, which Hikaru shyly provided.
All that knew N knew that once you were given a fist bump by either him or his brothers, you had become someone worthy in their eyes, that you had become a loved one and a comrade.
Yugito had smiled at that, knowing that she had been right in her thoughts that sooner or later N and Hikaru would become friends. It had been the same with Inari, the two had clashed and nearly brawled, but in the end when the team had left, the goodbye had been like saying farewell to a brother.
That was something she loved about N. Sure he could be a brash fool who couldn't rhyme words to save his life, but he was a loyal friend and comrade and people flocked to him, he was like the sun, so bright and cheery.
"You know… you really should ask him out,"Nibi said idly from inside her seal, her amber eyes fixed on her sharp claws as she studied them.
I think I will….
There was a sigh from within her head. "Kitten, you need to get a move on sooner or later or else-"Nibi stopped talking when the words were comprehended. "NANI!"
You were right all along, Yugito thought to her tenant, a smile gracing her pale facial features. I love him….
"What finally made you admit it?" Nibi was surprisingly calm as she spoke, though inside the seal her amber eyes gleamed in pride.
I don't know… Yugito admitted as she gazed out on the horizon, her mind a million miles away in memory. It's always been there, but I just didn't realize it.
"… I'm happy for you," Nibi said sincerely, any hints of teasing or perverseness having left the great Bijuu and instead honselty congradulated her host on, finally, admitting her feelings to a certain blond Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. But then again, this was Nibi. "So… does this mean I can finally give you the sex talk?"
N had to admit that Moon Country was… nice. While he had never been to the country before he couldn't help but notice how different it was from Kumo and the various villages and towns located around Lightning Country.
Lightning Country was well known for her harsh terrain, deadly winters, and common thunderstorms. With most of the land made up of mountain ranges and valleys, the place was freezing for anyone stupid enough to not bundle up. The land was harsh and the people harsher, you had to be in order to survive. His father had once told him when he was a child that harsh people ruled the world, it would make sense, as they would be ready for anything.
The capitol reminded him of a much larger Tanzaku, though the buildings were a lighter color.
It was also completely abandoned.
Shops were closed; shutters were drawn hiding the inside of the buildings. No children played outside, nor did any tourists or natives walked the roads. N didn't see so much as a cat lounging in the alleys; it was as though the entire world had suddenly disappeared once they stepped inside this rich capitol.
N could hear music playing from concealed speakers, a bunch of drums and various instruments N didn't know of made a peppy ambient that made N think of beaches and bonfires.
"How weird," Michiru mused to himself from the inside of the carriage, his dark brown eyes flitting from one empty building to an empty kiosk that were found everywhere in any tourist town. "This is supposed to be a real busy street." Michiru himself had often come down here from the palace, usually to buy exotic and expensive wares to fill up the void Amayo had left in his heart.
"N, Yugito, Karui, Omoi." Darui murmured under his breath, his lone visible eye subtly looking at a supposedly abandoned alley, but the Jonin sensei had seen someone dart through, wearing armor and wielding a sword.
The four Chunin subtly nodded their heads; their eyes flitting around the empty town for traces of any unsavory individuals who would like nothing more to kidnap two princes for a tidy profit.
Despite their well-founded fears, the party managed to exit the once thriving town and arrived at the palace without so much as a peep of trouble, even the birds stayed quiet as they moved through the forest, as though the entire world had suddenly gone silent.
When they arrived at the gilded gates of Moon Country's grand palace, they opened without question. The palace was quite large for such a small, though wealthy, country. The roof was a royal blue that matched with the evening sky, the walls a brilliant white. Gold gilded much of the windows, and on the highest tower sat a balcony for the royal family. Their sigil etched in the purest of gold. Michiru and Hikaru expected to see guards awaiting them, along with a plethora of servants and maids, but not even the gardeners were out.
"I don't like this," Karui muttered under her breath as she glanced around the empty courtyard, her hand held on the hilt of her sword. "This just screams trap." Omoi nodded his head at her words, nervously looking around for the slightest amount of life, whether friend or foe.
From the shadows of the front doors, two figures emerged. The one leading the other was garbed in royal purple robes with silk scarves. Behind him was a….
"Woah, is that a guy or girl?" N asked under his breath to Yugito who looked just as confused as he did.
"Forget about him, or her," Karui muttered back, having heard N's question. "What in Kami's name is up with his facial hair?"
Indeed the dressed noble had the largest mustache the Chunin had ever seen, the dark brown facial hair nearly covered the man's cheeks and joined up with his mutton chops, making him look like he was about to get strangled by the hair.
"Shabadaba!" Prince Michiru called out in greeting, obviously pleased to finally be greeted by a familiar face, even if his choices in facial hairstyle was a bit odd.
"Prince Michiru!" the man greeted, his hand pressed against his heart while the person of unknown gender watched the scene play out with folded hands. "Good traveling through the different countries, I presume? It's wonderful that you have returned safely!"
"Thank you, Shabadaba." Michiru yelled up to the older, paler man. The wide beam slowly turned into a confused frown, "Ano… the town looks a bit odd, almost like the towns people have up and vanished… did something happen?"
Shabadaba looked down upon the royals and the assorted Chunin and single Jonin with cold black eyes, his facial features twisted in a cruel pitying smirk. "The king… is dead!"
Immediately Michiru's face erupted in shock, his warm brown eyes wide and started to pool tears of grief. A strangled gasp came from him, "N-Nani!?" he looked ready to collapse there on the dusty ground.
As soon as the now first in line to the throne spoke, the sounds of metal creaking and the sounds of padded boots marching became apparent as dozens upon dozens of guards swarmed the previously abandoned courtyard. Upon their shoulders was the sigil of the Royal Guard, a curved golden crescent against a field of royal blue. They surrounded the group, hands held ready on their spears, swords, and other assortment of weaponry.
Shabadaba watched the scene with cruel amusement; the man-woman gave a scoff like laugh as he/she watched the shocked form of Michiru being surrounded by weapons. "I shall inherit the throne!" The now known traitor exclaimed from his spot, the guards readied themselves for battle.
"Of course…" Karui sighed out as she grabbed the hilt of her sword and got into her stance, Omoi readied his sword as well, his mouth empty of any sugary sweets. Yugito held her tanto while N just stood besides Michiru and the carriage that held the now terrified Hikaru.
"You, as heirs, are in my way!" Shabadaba exclaimed, "Kill them!" he ordered the large assortment of guards who, as one, rushed to their former rulers with readied steel.
The sight of several short swords flew high in the air; the guards rushing towards N stumbled slightly as they saw him in his iconic Seven Swords Dance. "Bring it!" N yelled at the dozens of guards through the sword in his mouth.
A man with a spear charged forward, a war cry on his lips as he eagerly tried to run the younger warrior through with his spear. N spun in his spot, the sharpened blades slicing through the wooden shaft easily, leaving the guard holding the end of a very useless wooden stick.
Several guards rushed forward, for a couple of moments N were hidden behind the taller and older soldiers, an onlooker may have thought that the boy had been swarmed by the guards.
The guards cried out in pain as N continued to rapidly spin in place, his entire form blurring as he spun in a circle, N was just a mere blur of red and yellow. Cuts, both thin and deep, appeared on the guards as they were flung away from the spinning Jinchuuriki, they lay prone on the ground, groaning in pain.
N suddenly appeared up high in the air, the remaining guards flung themselves out of the way as swords started to fall through the sky like deadly rain. Only a few of the hardened veterans managed to dodge the blades, while the rookies or the idiots suddenly found a sword thrown in their guts.
N suddenly shushined away, dodging a spear that had been thrown at him by another guard that managed to stay standing. Said guard suddenly crumpled to the ground as Yugito appeared behind him, a quick chop to the neck severing the man's consciousness.
Yugito used her tanto to disarm or dismember her attackers, using her foot she kicked one of N's specially made swords and watched as it quickly arced in the air, N suddenly appeared and grabbed it, before falling back to earth and landing square on a man's chest, making the guard collapse within a crater.
The young Jinchuuriki quickly dodged the spear thrusts and the sword jabs, he rolled back and forth underneath their feet, jumping up in the air by pushing up on his hands whenever someone swung low. In the confusion of the guards trying to kill N, the young Yotsuki had grabbed each of his swords from bodies or the ground and was once against using his unique kenjutsu to utterly decimate the civilian guards.
Out of the corner of his shaded eyes, N noticed his sensei easily defeating the guards that had turned their attention, and their weaponry, upon the heirs to the throne. Darui easily defended them, but the guards continued to come out in swarms.
"It's no good," he heard Omoi yelled out amongst the sounds of fighting, "We can't use any destructive jutsu in this situation, we could hit one another or Michiru and Hikaru."
The fighting suddenly paused when the sound of hooves became apparent, along with the sound of something made of metal. A quick glance to the ornate gates was all it took to find the source.
A giant metal carriage pulled by several horses had appeared on the road and was currently coming towards the attempting coup d'état. A man in the same armor as the guards attacking the royal family and their guards jumped out of the carriage, a war cry coming from him as he charged forward.
N readied himself to kill the man, who was currently heading towards the carriage where Michiru and Hikaru were hiding in, but to the surprise of the defenders the man attacked his fellow guards instead, disarming one of them.
The guards immediately stopped fighting when they saw the man, who did not wear a helmet like the others and thus one could see his face. For a couple of tense seconds there was only silence, before the mutters of the traitors became audible. "Captain Korega?"
The captain was a built tanned man with a spiky shock of brown hair. His dark eyes were light in fury as he looked upon his former subordinates, on his chest was a red sigil that the Chunin assumed was what marked him as the captain of the guard.
"He's a traitor!" Shabadaba yelled out to his supporters, his hands tightly wrapped around the marble bannister. "Kill him!"
One of the guards followed Shabadaba's command and quickly raised his sword against Korega, who easily raised his own and blocked it. "What are you fools doing?" he demanded, "Snap out of it!" he easily disarmed the soldier and knocked him out with the butt of his sword, another guard came forward and traded blows. "He's not the true ruler!" Korega grunted out as he fought his former comrades.
Another guard suddenly appeared, his sword aiming for the man's unarmed back. Darui appeared out of nowhere and with his monstrous sword easily dispatched him. "Yo," Darui greeted their newfound ally.
"Who are you?" Korega demanded as he dodged another sword slash.
"Jonin sensei Darui from the Village Hidden in the Clouds," Darui tapped a finger against the hiate-ate on his shoulder, "We were sent by the former king to protect Lord Michiru."
"Can you give me cover to protect His Majesty?" Korega asked, looking well reassured that shinobi from the Cloud were here to stop this madness.
There was a red blur as N suddenly appeared, his body coated in crimson lighting, men screamed as N easily defeated them from well aimed punches and the coursing electricity.
"Sensei," N called out, the Jinchuuriki didn't look too injured despite the swarms of guards. "We should get out of here, we can't protect them here." He nodded his head to the carriage.
Korega quickly climbed aboard, the driver having been killed in the skirmish, and quickly flicked the reigns. The horses immediately started to pull the ornate carriage away from the traitors and to the safety of the forest, the other metal carriage quickly following.
"Team!" Darui yelled out to his comrades, "We're leaving!" Karui, Omoi, Yugito, and N quickly nodded their heads and with the use of their chakra easily escaped the area, leaving Darui alone.
"Man, why can't things ever be dull?" Darui wondered aloud as the guards all focused upon him and rushed forward, hundreds of swords or spears trained on him. With a couple of hand seals, Darui finished his jutsu right before the first man got as close as ten yards to him. "Storm Release: Laser Circus!"
A halo of bright white light glowed around Darui's hands, lighting the color of white crackled to life, as the guards rushed forward Darui activated his famed jutsu. Bolts of lighting shot out of the halo, hitting the first wave of guards square in the chest, the lighting soon moved on to another conduit, their swords and armor.
The guards fell, electrocuted within their own armor. The courtyard hadn't been spared either, the once finely kept yard now looked like a battle zone, pools of blood everywhere from the swords of Kumogakure shinobi and kuinoichi, hundreds of dead or unconscious guards littered the ground where craters had formed thanks to N and his super strength.
"So dull," Darui sighed wearily as he looked upon the destruction, glancing up at the pale faces of Shabadaba he was tempted to just shushin up there and kill him, effectively stopping this coup d'état once and for all, but Darui sensed several large chakra signatures high above in the alcoves of the castle. Shinobi were here, and Darui had a bet that they weren't friendly.
The lone Jonin then disappeared in a shock of black lightning, quickly teleporting back to his comrades.
High above the castle two men and one woman knelt on the roof where they had watched the battle happen with interest. "Hmph, this certainly changes things." One of the men, a man with a head of fiery orange hair that spiked like that of Jiraiya of the Sannin. The man didn't seem overly concerned, if the growing smirk had any say in the matter.
The woman, who looked had the built and height of a child, smirked as well. "Should we go after them?" she asked slyly, her pink eyes gleaming at the thought of fresh blood to be spilt.
The orange-haired man chuckled, "No, not yet." His blue eyes were as cold as chipped ice, "We'll go after them later and…" the man's right hand, which was covered in a gauntlet and had a closed eye on it, but as he spoke the eye slowly opened and gleamed a deadly orange. The tile he was currently touching started to turn a dark grey before crumbling. "Get rid of them."