KG: Well, here we are. I never thought I'd actually make it here one day. To actually have 1 Million words typed on FF is crazy. Man, what a joy and ride it's been. Never felt anything like it.

Wifey: What about me?

KG: ...never felt anything like it!

Wifey: Ass.

Music of the Week: "The Final Confrontation by Antti Martikainen"

Quote: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that," by Martin Luther King Jr.


The news of Naruto's return spread like wildfire through the snow-laden streets of Konoha. Civilians and shinobi alike, save for those confined to the hospital, exited their homes in droves. One by one, thousands upon thousands of men and women littered the outskirts of the frozen lands. Amongst them all, Kushina and Yuri stood as the winds gently blew. Even the Akatsuki showed up after hearing the news.

For the two Uzumaki, their joy couldn't be denied or contained. Even in the midst of the cold, they remembered the sizzling heat of their lover's lips. They also remembered the touch of his blazing embrace. Though the ice was harsh and the cold was stinging, the smiles on their faces almost seemed glued there. Multitudes spoke to each other, asking questions or making assumptions.

Either way, they were all utterly silenced when another portal appeared. The silence was nearly deafening. If there were any sounds, then they were the howls of the wind and the crunch of snow beneath the feet of the people.

Everyone watched as Naruto slowly stepped out of the portal. Most notably, many observed he was without dazzling might from before. His robe was gone. His hair had returned to its usual blond color, and his eyes no longer sparkled with their silver color. While for many it was a disappointment, for Kushina and Yuri, neither cared about that. In fact, they much preferred him this way.

As Naruto stepped out, before he addressed the Kage, the people, or anyone else, he observed his mother and his cousin. With a smile, he held out his arms to them. "Kaa-chan, Yuri-chan, I'm sorry I took so long. I'm back," He said.

"Naruto-nii…" Yuri said, her voice bathed with intense emotion. She flew into his arms while Kushina walked over to him.

"Yes, we noticed," she said. She then kissed his cheek, not caring that the cold made his cheeks chilly. Were not thousands of people watching, she might have slugged him in the arm. However, now, more than ever, was the time for him to have a strong front among the masses. She could always sock him in private later.

Naruto kissed them both and he kissed them passionately. He made them both swoon and their legs felt like soft clay. How they'd missed his touch and the ever-glowing warmth of his presence. Even though it was cold, they couldn't stop a few tears from falling. Yet, they sighed when Naruto's thumb touched their cheeks. He wiped their tears away, continuing to smile and reassure them.

He then noticed the rest of his family. He saw Risa, Tayuya, Fuka, and even Omoi and Karui. Naturally, the two Kumo shinobi seemed rather apprehensive about being allowed to stand there. When Naruto's eyes lingered on them, Omoi suddenly felt very small. "Guess we better hope this guy's as welcoming as the rest of his family's been. Hopefully, he doesn't remember all that mocking we did back in Kumo during his battle with Bee-sama," Omoi thought.

Though Karui wished not to come off as either angry or irritable, she really wasn't used to handling delicate situations well. Even less was she comfortable with being emotionally vulnerable. All she could do was glare harshly at the Uzumaki head until she widened her eyes when he welcomed them as well.

Cautiously, and nervously, they moved forward as well until they saw Fuka grab her cousin into a great hug. "You damned idiot. Where have you been? Things have been going to hell without you here," she said.

Naruto took her in his arms and hugged her, taking special care to stroke her hair no more than necessary. "Believe me, I'd tell you if I could. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to say. And before you ask, Yura-chan's fine. I guess she's still busy with her own training. Yugao's with her too," he said, easing their concerns. Namely, he eased Kushina's.

"Wait. You've been gone for nearly two months. How the hell did you know she was gone?" Tayuya asked suspiciously. She shivered when Naruto faced her. There was wisdom and might in his eyes. Though the divine power from before had faded somewhat, there was no denying the change in his demeanor.

"Because even while I trained I had to watch the entire village. Yet, I couldn't contact any of you as my training required the greater part of my concentration, especially since Kakashi-sensei always claimed that was one of my weakest points. Either way, just know that Yugao's fine and she's with Yura. They'll be fine," Naruto claimed.

After that, he followed with a hug to Risa. She kept him tight, nearly taking his breath away while Omoi cleared his throat. "So… not to bring the mood down, but I think many of us are wondering, have you done it? Can you beat that bastard so we can go home?" the white-haired boy asked.

Just like that, the peaceful atmosphere was destroyed in a wave of uncertainty. Karui scowled and slapped Omoi's shoulder. "And you say I'm the one who needs to learn more tact," she hissed while he rubbed his head.

Omoi's tactfulness aside, it wasn't an unreasonable question. In fact, many of them had been wondering that very thing. Surely Naruto wouldn't return if he wasn't confident that he couldn't take Jashin down, right?

Rather than answer, Naruto turned to the masses instead. He stepped forward and patted Omoi's shoulder. That only seemed to worry the others more. Naruto had to know how important this was to everyone. Even if Omoi's question was rather unfitting for the circumstances, it would still help them all to keep stock of their situation.

"He… can win, right?" Fuka asked, staring at the others. Unfortunately, no one was willing to give a definitive answer to her hesitant question. After all, it wasn't a question of whether he could or not. He had to or they were all dead.

Meanwhile, Naruto looked out into the thousands of people waiting on him. He clenched his fists and his chest felt tight. He had to admit that there was actually something funny about all of this. When he was younger, he would have loved all the attention to be on him right now. He actually wondered if this was what being Hokage might have been like - everyone realizing how important you were, the masses hanging onto your every word like the single beacon of hope in the dark. Rather interesting since some couldn't have been bothered to grant him the time of day before. Still, complaining about that now would serve no purpose.

When Naruto stood in front of everyone, he inhaled. He then blasted his Honshou again, displaying his might in front of the Kage and the shinobi residing in the village. Yet, many noticed that this might was much lower than before. Either he'd grown a bit weaker or he was doing it so they wouldn't be overwhelmed.

"Listen, and listen well. In three days, I'm going to go battle Jashin. If I return, then that means I've won. If I don't, then I don't think you won't know what that means. I'll do my best for you, your families, your nations, and all those you cherish, and I will do it alone!" Naruto claimed much to the shock, joy, and uncertainty of others.

"Alone?! Is that idiot insane?" Sasuke asked as he gritted his teeth. Mikoto, Yuna, and Itachi stood at his side, observing his words along with others. Hell, even Kakashi and Rin were there standing with him and they weren't confident either.

"Something's wrong. The others might not notice, but his speech is strained," Kakashi said softly. It wouldn't go well for them if others could hear him.

The frown on Mikoto's face deepened. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the relief on the faces of many. Others appeared skeptical, but none were outright disbelieving. In fact, the tension and pressure responsibility that many had taken when they first arrived in this world had all but disappeared with Naruto's words.

Even Konan saw that. She saw the shock on Yuri's face as well as the rest of the Uzumaki Family. Clearly, he hadn't explained that to them. While Konan was aware of the peace to many knowing that they wouldn't have to risk their lives anymore, she wondered what that meant for all the training they'd been doing anticipating Naruto's arrival.

As soon as that was said, Naruto released his power and released a heavy exhale. As he turned his head, he noticed the curious gazes of all his remaining family members. Somehow, the blonde could just feel the numerous questions waiting to be asked by them all, namely Kushina and Yuri.

After a moment, Naruto noticed the Kage step forward. Though he saw the longing in Mei's eyes, he knew she was still the leader of Kirigakure. It wouldn't be an appropriate time for attachments right now.

"Naruto, we need to talk," Tsunade said.

The blond looked at her. He then looked at the other Kage. Each of them had hard, stern expressions on their faces. It seemed they wouldn't take no for an answer. That said, Naruto was willing to work with them so as not to undermine their present authority amongst their men. He'd already seen enough of what transpired in his absence.

Kushina and the others waited with bated breaths. Though they knew not why, the air seemed thick and heavy. Had Naruto's gaze been stronger, they wondered if the Kage might actually turn their heads away from him.

"Kaa-chan, think you can run a really, really hot bath for me? Use the snow if you have to," he said.

Though confused, Kushina wordlessly nodded. She then took Yuri and the rest of the Uzumaki clan away, leaving Naruto and the Kage alone. "Follow me. We'll talk quickly. I want to save as much strength as possible, Baa-chan," Naruto claimed.

While the direct tone wasn't appreciated, Tsunade understood that she'd have to let it go for now. That said, it was actually nice to hear those words again.

Naruto led the Kage back to the Uzumaki Compound. Along the way, Naruto started to wonder if this was how Sasuke felt going to the Academy every single day. Every eye was on him. Hushed whispers were no longer filled with spite, but wonder and adoration. Were the stakes not so dire, Naruto might have tried to bask in the glow of his new popularity.

When Naruto arrived home, the rest of his family was there waiting for him. "Not sure about a bath, but we have the next best thing," Kushina said, guiding her son and their guests outside.

Naruto struggled not to crack a smile when he saw a large iron barrel surrounded by numerous broken logs. As expected, the water inside was bubbling to such a degree that it would peel the skin of anyone else. The Kage actually worried that Naruto might kill himself attempting to do… whatever he was doing.

"What the fuck!" Kurotsuchi hollered as she covered her eyes while Naruto undressed.

"Go scream somewhere else. I gotta work quickly," Naruto said.

No one knew what Naruto meant before they saw a trail of blood slip down the side of his mouth. "Naruto, what…"

Kushina wanted to press on but a hand from her son stopped her. Risa, Fuka, Tayuya, and Karui turned their heads while Naruto grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. He then discarded his pants and stepped into the barrel. As for Konan, she didn't care one way or the other. Nevertheless, she turned her head out of respect for decency.

As expected, he hissed in sheer pain as he lowered himself further in until all but his neck were covered. He inhaled and exhaled slowly. Sweat started to slip from the pores of his skin. Then, everyone marveled as the steaming, bubbling water turned as white as the power that had been circulating through him just prior to his return. He settled into the water and finally breathed a little easier.

"What the fuck's going on?" Tayuya asked.

"I'm repairing the damage done to my soul," Naruto answered.

This quickly got everyone's attention. "Damage?" Fuka asked worriedly.

Naruto's lips thinned, but he knew there'd be no running away from the questions. He figured he might as well get them over with. "Yeah. As it turns out, gods and mortals aren't exactly compatible for combining souls. Shin explained it to me, but I don't remember all the technical stuff. Basically, this helps repair me so that I can do it again," he said.

"So… that awesome thing you did with the sky and all that, you can only do it for a short time?" Yuri asked.

Naruto chuckled. "Oh, no. You guys just forced me to come out at the end of it. Tayuya's injuries were a bit more severe than Baa-chan stated and I had to intervene there. Turns out, healing those injuries was much harder than I'd pictured. Then there were the spirits that tried to take over my mother. I had to deal with those," he explained.

At the mention of that, Tayuya scowled and turned to the Raikage. "Rest assured, I'm gonna kick that fucker in the nuts when I see him again. Mark my damn words!" she scowled.

The muscular Raikage spared her a glance, but nothing more than that. "What do you mean we forced you to come out early?" he asked.

Naruto, keeping his eyes closed, answered. " It's exactly what it sounds like. I saw what was going on down here. I saw things, lots of things, things I can't even begin to describe, and stuff that tore me apart more times than I could count. To think I've just scratched the surface of it all too. Besides, I saw how everyone was acting, it seemed like I wouldn't have more time whether you guys got along or not," the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki replied.

None of the Kage were sure if that was an accusation or not, but they left it alone. "So, it all worked out, right? Not to shake you, but you made a pretty damn big boast just then. You… can win, yeah? You'll beat that guy and take back our home?" Kurotsuchi asked.

Everyone waited with bated breath as Naruto's refusal to answer hung over them all. Yuri and Kushina looked at each other when he didn't answer. Mikoto and Sasuke frowned. Even Kakashi seemed nervous around his former student's dismissal.

"Naruto, can you…"

"Tell me, Baa-chan, do you think I should win?" Naruto asked, interrupting the next question that was going to come before him. Tsunade opened her mouth to speak. She then closed it. Though the question seemed simple enough, it didn't take her much time to consider the implications of what he was saying. Neither did it take long for the other three of the five Kage to know what he meant.

"What are you talking about? Of course, you should win! This is our home we're talking about here!" Kurotsuchi angrily stated, stomping her foot into the snow. Never would she dare think the son of the Infamous Yellow Flash of Konoha to be a coward.

Naruto slowly opened his eyes. "Kakashi-sensei, may I have some more fire please?" he asked.

The member of Hinoken didn't bother answering with words. Instead, he picked up more firewood and blew a burning fire jutsu over the logs. The water continued to bubble as Naruto gritted his teeth. Yet, he soldiered on and everyone grew worried, especially Yuri, when they saw Naruto's veins bulging around his body.

After a moment, he exhaled a lot of hot steam. "Yeah, it's our world, isn't it?" he asked. He looked at the Kage.

"It's not Iwagakure's world, it's not Kirigakure's world, it's not Sunagakure's world, it's not Kumogakure's world, and… it sure as hell isn't Konohagakure's world. It's our world," Naruto said, his voice almost deathly low.

His words stilled everyone. Kushina clenched her fists while the Kage looked at each other. Yuri and Konan spared each other a glance as well. There was no one within the range of his voice that hadn't heard what he had spoken.

"Tell me, if I should fight for our world where we keep killing each other day in and day out. Tell me if I should take us back to a world with people who can't even spend a few months together without trying to kill each other. If I took us back, tell me, Baa-chan, would the Kage actually work together to make sure nothing like this happens again?" Naruto asked.

Frustrated, Ay scowled. "Is this really the time?!" he inquired.

Surprisingly, Naruto smiled. "Yeah, I actually think so. All the Kage are together, you're all united in one person, and you haven't got any other ways out. I just watched a person I saved drive a kunai into my cousin's chest. Tell me, what I should do about that?" the Summoner of the Shinigami inquired dangerously.

The Raikage gritted his teeth while Karui and Omoi found themselves at odds with the situation. However, any and all pressure eased when Naruto focused back on his bath. "Believe me, climbing an ice-cold mountain, frostbite setting in almost at every turn, only Yura-chan and my thoughts to keep me from going insane, I actually had a lot of time to think. And, shut up, Sasuke, don't think I don't know what you're thinking!" Naruto growled as he cast a side glare at his best friend.

While to anyone else, the Uchiha's expression hadn't changed, the Uchiha snorted. "Hn," he grunted while his mother lightly chuckled.

Either way, Naruto lowered himself further into the barrel and breathed through his nostrils. "And then the Shinigami taught me many things, a lot of things, a lot of it I didn't even understand. What I did know is something you'll have to figure out. If the five of you don't start doing something different, then it won't matter if I beat Jashin or not this time. He'll come back and kill us all without hesitation," Naruto replied.

For once, the Kage were unable to give an answer. They looked at each other. Between their eyes, hundreds upon hundreds of years of history had been burned into the bodies of their nations.

"Are you blackmailing us, boy?" Ay asked, narrowing his eyes while Naruto snorted.

"Ask Kaa-chan, Yuri-chan, Kakashi-sensei, or even Sasuke if I'm the blackmailing type. What do I have to blackmail you with?! I lose out on this too in case you've forgotten. I'm just letting you decide. We can either die peacefully here and now, or brutally and cruelly in the next couple of years when Jashin returns. That's all it amounts to. So I ask you, should I bother fighting?" the Kyuubi jinchuuriki asked.

There was dead silence. For once, none of the Kage found themselves able to speak a word. The reports they'd read and the history they'd learned of the Earth's conflicts seemed so prevalent in their minds. Even the last few weeks of anger and unresolved tension awakened a sense of anxiety within each of them.

"What would you have us do?" Gaara asked.

Perhaps not as much as the Hokage, but Gaara felt he knew Naruto better than most. The two of them were friends, despite their obvious differences and nations. The burden of their lives as Jinchuuriki had formed a brotherhood between them. While Gaara was no longer the host of Shukaku, still those were memories that never went away. While aggravating at times, the host of the Hachibi had been a wise, if unorthodox teacher regarding bijuu and jinchuuriki. Yuri had been learning under him for most of the weeks during their stay here.

Naruto looked at Gaara and laughed. "You know, I wanted to be Hokage. I wanted everyone in the village to see me, respect me, not think… I was a waste of space. The Shodaime, Nidaime, Jiji, my dad, and Baa-chan, I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I wanted to sit in their chair, to be the one that everyone relied on when there was no one else. Jiji once told me about The Will of Fire, that everyone believes they in the village are family. It is for that reason that they fight, die, suffer, and strive against others, all to protect things. However, now I realize, I'm not suited to be the Hokage," Naruto said.

While these words made no difference to Kurotsuchi, Ay, or even Mei, those words seemed like utter blasphemy in the ears of anyone else. Yuri and Kushina widened their eyes while Fuka stared on dumbfounded. Sasuke, Mikoto, and Kakashi looked at him in concern. It was no secret that Naruto's every waking obsession was about becoming the Hokage. He'd shout it from the highest hillsides, through every streetway, and in every building. There was virtually no one who didn't know what Uzumaki Naruto had so proudly proclaimed.

How could he, of all people, say he wasn't suited for it?

Naruto sharply inhaled the heat from his bath before he exhaled slowly again. The spirits who dwelled within him said nothing. Instead, they listened calmly. When Naruto spoke, they all listened. "...I don't have that. I don't have the Will of Fire because I don't see the village as my family. If you asked me if I'd lay down my life for some random person in the village on my own, then… I don't think I could," Naruto answered.

Tsunade widened her eyes, aware of just how treasonous Naruto's words seemed. She knew not what she could say to them. She knew not what she could even do to counteract them. Hell, not even Kushina knew what to say. The redhead found herself wondering what Minato would say if he heard this.

"Maybe that's why I think Baa-chan actually saved me from making that choice. I don't know who would have suffered from my indecision. However, I'll fight, but it won't be for Konoha. It won't be for Iwagakure. It won't be Kirigakure. It won't be for Sunagakure. It won't be for Kumogakure…" Naruto said. He then turned his head and stared at his mother and Yuri.

Moving over, he grabbed their hands in his. Legs of both shook when he kissed their fingers. "I'll fight for them, my mother, Yuri-chan, Yura, Sasuke, Mikoto-san, Yuna-chan, Kakashi-sensei, Konan, Fuka-chan, Risa-chan, Tayuya, Mei-san, you, Gaara, and… all the others I really care about. I'll fight until I fucking die for them, because I love them, even if some of them piss me off…" he said, glaring at Sasuke again.

The Uchiha snorted, yet one couldn't miss the grin on his face. The others watched as Naruto touched their cheeks. He loved them. He loved them so much and they loved him. Though his hands were wet, Kushina kissed them and so did Yuri. They loved him so much.

"And because the Elemental Nations are where they live, then I'll fight for the place they live on. I'll fight for the friends they've made that I don't know, and those friends have made other friends, whether they be in Suna, Konoha, Kiri, Kumo, or Iwa. That's what I'll fight for. Tell me, if you would do the same. You said it was our world, then with all due respect, why don't you start acting like it is!" Naruto said, turning back to the Kage.

The silence hung in the air for so long that Naruto found himself growing unsettled. He couldn't afford that right now. "I'll be going back in three days. Let me recover until then, please," he said.

Though the Gokage stared at him, glared at him, and seemed displeased with him, they silently honored his request and left. Unknowing to anyone, their minds were racing through thousands of scenarios, thousands of thoughts, and thousands of conflicting ideologies.

"So does that mean we should leave too?" Fuka asked.

Naruto turned to the others. "Nah, that was kind of a lie. I do need to focus, but it'd be harder to do if they kept asking me questions. I really wish I could tell you all what it was like. All I can say is that it was hard, harder than anything I ever thought before. To be honest, I wouldn't wish it on any of you. There were times I actually thought I'd never see you guys again," he remarked.

"Shame. We were doing so damn well without you," Tayuya said, rubbing her stomach where she'd been stabbed.

"Some of us more than others," Konan replied.

The room came alive with laughter for a time until everyone settled. "So… can you?" Fuka asked. At this point, it'd have been foolish to not know what she was talking about.

Naruto sighed. "I really don't know," he answered.

That was not the answer anyone wanted to hear. "If you think about it, no one can really 'beat' him. If it was that easy to beat gods, then anyone would do it. Besides, he's only grown stronger since we left as far as I know. I don't even have a proper gauge on all he can do. What the Shinigami crammed into my head was barely even a fraction of it. However, I'm not going to leave you all here to die. I said I would fight for all of you, and that's what I'm gonna do. That you can count on!" Naruto asserted.

"And why do you have to do it alone? Do you think we can't pull our weight?" Sasuke asked.

Naruto then turned to Sasuke, and the Uchiha suddenly wondered if maybe he shouldn't have asked. His best friend seemed sorrowful. "No, Sasuke. While I don't know Karui-san or Omoi-san very well, if Kaa-chan allowed them in the house, then I think that speaks for itself. As for everyone else, I believe in you guys more than I believe in myself. But, I meant what I said. I'm not suited to become the Hokage because… aside from Gaara, Mei, and a few others, I don't trust anyone else. They… they aren't ready," Naruto replied.

"Ready for what?" Kakashi inquired.

"To die, Kakashi-sensei," Naruto answered.

Despite numerous desires for answers, Naruto spoke no more of the matter with anyone else. Even Kushina tried to push him, but he rebuffed all her efforts. Instead, he left them with one final word.

"Telling you guys won't make it easier. In fact, you definitely won't like it."

Following that, the time drew long. Friends and family bonded with each other until the numbers got smaller and smaller. Kushina tasked Ebisu with keeping Naruto's fire hot and the water boiling. That said, she wasn't expecting him to be in that water for an entire night. When Kushina woke up, she saw her son quietly meditating in the pool of boiling white water.

"What's wrong?" Naruto asked.

Releasing she'd been spotted, Kushina stepped out of her hiding place. "So many things, and not enough things at the same time. I think I've just gotten used to you not being around that I have to remind myself that you're back," she answered.

The redhead watched a brief smile come to her son's face. "Don't worry. Hopefully, I'll be out of here soon. As nice as this bath is, I've kind of forgotten just how cold this realm can be. However, once I'm out, how about you and I walk around, just you and me?" Naruto asked.

Kushina laughed, oddly embarrassed. She toyed with her hair for a moment. "Ordinarily, I'd love to take you up on the offer. However, I'd like an outing to be back in our world," she replied.

Naruto exhaled slowly. "Kaa-chan, whether I live or die, I'd like nothing more than to spend whatever time I have with you. You are going to be my wife at some point. Besides, I haven't seen you and Yuri-chan for some time. Even if the end of the world came tomorrow, I'd still like to spend all my time with you," the Uzumaki head exclaimed.

Kushina wasn't sure what she was supposed to say to that. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it over and over. She wasn't sure when the last time was that she'd heard such sweet, if embarrassing, words from her son. "Y-You've really gotten cheeky, dattebane!" Kushina uttered.

"Is that a no?" Naruto asked.

"...Shut up," she fired back before she walked inside.

It quickly appeared to Naruto that no, that wasn't a no. He'd spent the next few hours in the barrel until his soul had finally been repaired from the damage. "Hey, Closet Pervert, got get me a towel," Naruto said.

Ebisu felt a slight twinge of annoyance. "You really haven't changed, Naruto," he grumbled while he saw Naruto chuckle. Of course, though his present title annoyed him, Ebisu knew it was Naruto's way of trying to cheer him up. It had been a harsh few months trying to live with himself following the events of his death. The work had been a welcome distraction while he and Shizune formed something of a friendship over their ordeal. That had somewhat helped.

Ebisu gave Naruto his towel and the blond stepped out. He quickly walked into the house, passing by Fuka, Risa, and Tayuya. The former of the three whistled in delight, much to Naruto's embarrassment.

"Better not let Kushina hear that whistle or you'll be losing those lips," Risa warned. Fuka quickly waved her off.

"Nah, she wouldn't do that. She loves me," Fuka answered.

Their conversation continued while Naruto made it to the master bedroom. When he opened the door, he noticed his mother on the bed, waiting for him. He smirked while she tapped her arm impatiently. "Wipe that damn smirk off your face before I tear it off!" Kushina exclaimed.

Wisely, Naruto didn't speak as he dropped his towel, not so much concerned about modesty with his mother. Even with his back turned, he knew her eyes were glued to his body. It wasn't like he minded. In fact, he enjoyed it immensely. It was a shame he couldn't have sex yet, he would have loved to satisfy those hungry eyes of hers if he were permitted.

Getting dressed, Naruto stood before her. "We'll just go to one place and then the rest of my time will be spent with you. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than that," Naruto said.

Kushina looked at her son curiously, yet found herself unable to resist his wonderful blue eyes. "Fine," she said. Naruto smiled and pulled her up. They waved goodbye to the rest of their family and stepped out into the cold.

The crunch of the snow seemed so distant to Kushina when she looked at her son. Though he'd returned yesterday, she still found herself almost unwilling to believe it. "Do we really have to do this?" she asked, blushing as he held her hand in his own.

"Yup. Cause you're mine, Kaa-chan, and I want everyone to know it. I know how much you and Yuri-chan endured. I'll make sure to give her some time as well, but right now, I want you to be my sole priority. After all, before Yuri-chan, before Yura-chan, I fell in love with you first," Naruto returned.

Though embarrassed further, Kushina could help the swelling of love within her heart. She just couldn't deny the truth that she loved her son. She loved him so much. She loved him more than anyone. Should he, somehow, perish before her, she already knew that she'd most likely never date or marry again, for none would come close to completing her soul like he did.

"Can't say I fell in love with you first, but… I think I definitely love you more," she answered.

Naruto didn't reply to that. However, the smile on his face was response enough. That said, how her son wasn't embarrassed by every eye looking at them was another story. Through the ice and snow, they walked together with their hands firmly tied to each other.

During their journey, Kushina finally realized where her son wanted to go. She stilled when she noticed the building that the Akatsuki were housed in. Standing just outside the door also was Konan. The paper wielder noticed the two Uzumaki and joined them.

"Are you sure about this?" Konan inquired.

Naruto nodded. "Yeah, this is the best time actually. Besides, I think this'll be good for all of you. To be honest, I don't know if this will even fix anything. However, I made a promise that I intend to keep," the Kyuubi jinchuuriki answered.

Konan breathed in the extremely cold air and sighed. She nodded as they opened the door.

"What are you planning?" Kushina asked.

"Wish I could say I was more planning than hoping," her son replied as they stepped inside.

The three walked up a myriad of stairs. Kushina felt oddly tense, feeling the surging strength dwelling within her son's body. She couldn't tell if he seemed ready for a fight, but she wouldn't put it past the Akatsuki to try.

While the journey was short, it seemed so much longer in Kushina's mind. With every step, the upper floors seemed to get darker and darker until they made it to what might have been a hotel's meeting room. Her son pushed the doors open and Kushina immediately frowned when she saw the room filled with almost every current member of the Akatsuki organization.

"Well, Obito's not here," Kushina thought to herself. She hadn't forgotten that problem that she would need to address at some point. Finding out that it had been Minato's own student that had caused her to miss out on her chance at motherhood hadn't done much for her mood. Then again, she'd rather have an explanation first before she punched his teeth in.

"Hahahaha, well, look who decided to pay us a visit, the prodigal summoner of the Shinigami. Been a long time since we last met."

Kushina watched her son glare at the one who spoke, Kisame Hoshigaki. His arms folded, her leaned against the wall with the Samehada strapped to his back like always.

Then, there was Zetsu, The Regent, and lastly, Pain. However, Kushina noticed her son's eyes linger on Zetsu for a long time.

"Is there a reason you're staring at us?" Black Zetsu inquired. They'd seen the blond's gaze and it didn't make them happy. In fact, it made them outright nervous. There was something within them that told them it might be better if they removed themselves from the room. The gaze of the Summoner of the Shinigami promised death and the aura that surrounded him was very familiar.

The Black and White Zetsu breathed easily when Naruto shifted his gaze from them. His eyes then landed on the Regent. As always, the man behind that opera mask was as mysterious as the day the blond met him, yet… there was undoubtedly something familiar there. Even worse than that was the feeling that Naruto knew the Regent was aware of it as well.

Finally, the blond turned his attention to Pain, or at least the figure behind the six bodies that were standing in front of him.

"You're not looking very god-like right now," Naruto said, glaring at Nagato who remained still within his mechanical walker. Konan and Kushina stilled, not expecting Naruto to provoke Nagato as he did.

The redhead leader of the Akatsuki frowned, the circular pattern of his Rinnegan staring into the silver eyes of his visitor. "What do you want, Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi?" Nagato asked. His eyes remained solely focused on Naruto. He hadn't even acknowledged Konan or Kushina.

Truth be told, Nagato was doing everything he could to hold his nerve. He wasn't oblivious to the pressure being exuded from Naruto either. In fact, unlike everyone else except Kushina, he could see the deep well of strength practically overflowing with might. It was even stronger than when he'd faced Naruto the first time.

Finally, Naruto's eyes softened. "I'm not a Konoha shinobi anymore, so I guess I don't have the right to apologize for what Konoha did to you, Nagato. Not just you, but also to Konan, and to Yahiko. It must have been hard for you, all those years facing that loneliness with no one to help you. It's even tougher for me since I've come to realize it was a member of my clan that they killed, whether they knew it or not," Naruto replied.

The stale hotel air was palpable. Kushina widened her eyes as did Konan and Nagato. Whether Naruto took stock of their reactions or not, he continued. "Yeah, I hadn't been wrong when I sensed it the first time. The mark of the Uzumaki clan that's present somewhere on your body, tells me so. That you and I, perhaps at some point would have faced off against each other must be some kind of cruel irony," Naruto replied.

Nagato remained quiet for a long time. He simply looked at Naruto with disinterested eyes. "I see. So I have the blood of the Uzumaki flowing through my veins as well. However, Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, know that I do not see you as my family. There is no bridge long enough to reach across the chasm between you and me. Even had I known, I still would have killed you all the same if it meant peace for the world. The last vestiges of my family died when Konan opposed me. If you believe this revelation will change anything between us, then you have wasted your time. I suggest you…"

"You've offended Shin, Nagato. You claimed a title too lofty for yourself and as everyone can see, you're not fit to carry the weight of that title. With that said, after the matter with Jashin is over, it'll be time for your soul to be measured," Naruto said.

Though Kushina was surprised, none were more so than Konan. She looked at Naruto as if she couldn't believe the words that had just come out of his mouth. There was no hesitance, no shivering, and no questioning. The only thing there was a brief glimmer of pity.

Kushina absently noticed Kisame tightened his grip on Samehada. She frowned, realizing she hadn't bothered taking her sword with her.

"You plan to kill me since I take the title of god from those who have done nothing with it? All the power that mortals dare dream of, and what do they do? Do you not see Jashin? We are a game to them, just like ants that crawl on the ground," Nagato claimed.

Naruto shook his head. "Perhaps, perhaps not. I wish I could say that after these years of having a contract with Shin, I'd learned more and more about the way he thinks. And yet, I don't think I've learned a damn thing. However, there are some things I've seen. I can't speak for the others, but I can speak for Shin. He's doing something about it. Know why? Because he sent me and no one else to deal with this," Naruto said, pressing his thumb into his chest.

"And even if it all doesn't make sense, even when I get angry, even when I sometimes say things I don't mean, even when I don't get it, I'll do my best to trust that He knows what He's doing. If not for him, I wouldn't have this wonderful life I've got with me right now, and I'll do everything I can to make sure I keep it. That said, I'm not here to trade words with you. You've got someone else to do that to. Alone!" Naruto stressed, forcing the full weight of his power over the hotel making it tremble with unshakeable fury.

The other Akatsuki members trembled, save the Regent. Though Naruto did not face them, it became clear to them all what he was telling, nay ordering them to do. He told them all to leave lest he make them.

Cracks appeared on the wall before the rumbling stopped. Nagato's eyes hardened and his body shook like the cold outside had stung his body. When he tried to move, the black rods in his body shifted uncomfortably. Though he was loathed to admit it, if Naruto wanted the others gone, there wasn't much they could do to stop him. In any other circumstance, Nagato wouldn't mind putting that theory to the test but he knew that as Naruto was now, he was far beyond them. Even talking equally with the Leader of the Akatsuki was a courtesy to the organization.

"Leave," Nagato said, his voice on the verge of hoarness.

The others seemed unsure, namely Black and White Zetsu. Nevertheless, they stepped out. As the Regent passed Naruto, a smirk came upon his lips, hidden away by his opera mask. Once everyone was gone, leaving Kushina, Naruto, Konan, and Nagato, the blond of the group turned to his mother.

"You and I will be leaving as well. Sometimes, it's better to stay out of other people's business," he said, a wide smile on his face.

Kushina looked between Konan and Nagato before she looked back at her son. "Erm… right," she responded. Despite the audience, she couldn't help smiling when he grabbed her hand and led her out the door.

Konan and Nagato remained in that room alone. Neither was sure what to say to the other, but they didn't need to. Someone else was more than willing to speak for them.

Once Naruto and Kushina left, the two stilled when they saw a bright light pierce through the darkness of the meeting room. Its radiance was so bright that both were forced to squint.

"It's been some time, Nagato. A very, very long time, I see."

Even though the light was harsh, Nagato couldn't mistake the voice that spoke to him. How could he forget it? It was the voice of one of his most beloved friends, one he'd gone through thick and thin with. Nevertheless, he did have to speak his friend's name because Konan did it for him.

"Yahiko," she muttered, her voice weak and trembling.

As the light faded, Konan and Nagato stared at the full-bodied form of Yahiko. That said, he wasn't alone. Along with him was Uchiha Madara, the true Uchiha Madara. As expected, there was a deep scowl upon his face, courtesy of the orders bestowed upon him by the Summoner of the Shinigami.

"Yahiko…" Nagato said, his emotions unwilling to be left restrained. Years of them being pent up and deadened had broken away as the two stared upon the form of their former Akatsuki leader and best friend.

"It must have been tough on you, Nagato. However, you won't believe how much I've longed for this moment. Though, I wish it were under better circumstances," Yahiko said, taking notice of the Deva Path standing amongst the other paths of Pain. The large smile on his face lessened considerably and, for once, Nagato was actually aware of the guilt steadily rising within him.

Nevertheless, this time, there would be no lies, no made-up stories, no half-truths, and no misunderstandings. For the Three Ame Orphans, everything and every plan would be brought to their attention together.

-x-

"...Is he really an Uzumaki?" Kushina asked, hearing the snow crunch beneath her feet.

Naruto exhaled the cold air and nodded. "Yeah. He was also one of the ones Shin had a vendetta against. Can't say I don't see why though. Are you disappointed?" the blond inquired. He turned his eyes to his mother and he saw her looking at the snow.

Finally, he took her cold hands into his own. She stared at him and sighed. "Conflicted is probably a better word. I know our clan was scattered, but knowing Konoha most likely slaughtered a piece of my family, no matter how small, is kind of hard to swallow. Again, I know it's not like they could have known, but… I think we've all grown tired of losing our families to this ridiculous stuff. If you hadn't come back, I wonder what would have happened to Tayuya," she said.

Despite her concerns, Kushina couldn't help smiling when she felt her son's fingers intertwine with hers. His hands were warm and that warmth refused to stay off the side of her face.

"I don't know what to tell you, Kaa-san. Maybe there's a reason for all of this. Who knows how the world would have changed if those things hadn't happened? Perhaps without it, I wouldn't have got to meet you and fall in love with you, and your red hair!" He said, grinning widely.

Kushina sputtered as she looked at her son. She wanted to retort, yet she couldn't when she saw the way he looked at her. She could tell that he meant what he said, even though it was utterly embarrassing for her. "Would you stop that?!" she asked.

Her son looked at her amused. "Stop what?"

"That!" she exclaimed.

Naruto laughed as he continued to lead her away.

As expected, there wasn't a whole lot to do in the village when most of the sources of entertainment were shut down. There also wasn't a lot of food since Konoha's stores had begun to run low. Nevertheless, for the moment, Kushina and Naruto gave no concern to those worries. At the back of their minds stayed those concerns as the mother-son duo enjoyed each other's presence.

To many, they knew of the Uzumaki couple's relationship and many didn't approve. Of course, everyone held their opinion as they were all aware Naruto was currently their only means of survival. However, the vision of deep affection and attention between the Matriarch and Patriarch of the Uzumaki Clan either unsettled many or made them scowl in disgust.

More than a few whispered about the two, yet their words might as well have been a thousand miles away. Kushina grabbed her son's arm and leaned her head on his shoulder. The snow was cold, yet his warmth was intoxicating. After being gone for so long, she wished so much to remain with him for as long as the day allowed. Her heart kept beating inside her chest and she'd have fucking cried if she wasn't afraid of the cold stinging her cheek more than it was.

It mattered not to Kushina where they went as long as they did it together. She wasn't even ashamed to say that she'd not been this happy even with Minato. There was simply something about her son that set her spirit aflame. She felt like a giddy academy student around her first crush. No, maybe crush was too simple a word. He was, quite literally, the love of her life.

The same could be said for Naruto. While he wished he could spend time with Yuri as well. He wished for a day to fully dedicate to his mother. While Sakura had been his first love, his mother had been his best. There was simply no woman comparable to her. It was another reason to be thankful for the Shinigami. Without the God of Death, he would never have been afforded this opportunity. While he'd hoped he would have married and had children with another woman, now he'd like nothing more than for that to be his mother.

As day slowly turned to night, there was hardly a topic the two hadn't spoken on. As the streets slowly became bare, Kushina and Naruto found themselves on top of their clan compound, staring at the multi-colored sky of the aurora. With Naruto's arm over her shoulder, Kushina stared out in bliss.

"Seriously, Mikoto-san and Sasuke?" Naruto laughed while Kushina chuckled.

"Yup. I've teased Mikoto to death about it, but it's fairly obvious if you see it. I think you and Sasuke are more similar than you both think. I never thought you'd spread your degeneracy to your friend also," Kushina teased while Naruto snorted.

"We're not friends," he remarked.

Kushina rolled her eyes. "Mhm, whatever," she said, refusing to let the smile fall off the side of her face.

The two stayed together in silence for a little while before Kushina turned to her son. "I wish we could stay like this forever. Just you, me, and this sky," she said.

Naruto grinned. "We'll have many more like them, Kaa-chan. I'm going to win. I promise," he said.

Kushina nodded. She didn't even bother questioning her son further. At this point, she just had to trust that her son knew what he was doing. She certainly hoped that he did. "Sochi, I…" Kushina didn't get to finish before Naruto turned her head and claimed her lips.

"M-Mmmph!" she groaned, feeling her son's tongue slip into her mouth. The pleasure made her body shake. Such delicate warmth of her son made Kushina accept the embrace. Before her eyes could roll up in her head, she closed them and rubbed her son's shoulders. Fuck, she hoped her son won soon so they could get married. Kushina was ready to break a whole damn bed in sexual frustration.

"You know, Sochi, there's another reason I'm called the Red Hot Habanero. You're definitely gonna find out if you keep this up," Kushina thought, feeling his hands rub her waist. Her chest was tight and while she kept her lips locked with his.

Feeling handsy, Naruto slid his hands down to his mother's ass and lifted her onto his legs. Showing her acceptance of his action, Kushina wrapped her legs around his waist and cupped his chin. Each smack of their lips was filled with passion and their breath became hotter than anything the cold could hope to put out.

When they separated, Kushina panted. "You better stop or you're gonna be too exhausted for tomorrow. I hope you know we still can't… do it," she said.

Naruto smiled. "Even if I couldn't ever do it again, I'll still always find a reason to kiss you, Kaa-chan, and I wanted to let you know just how much I missed you!" Naruto said.

The redhead mother smiled… even if she thought she might need a new pair of underwear. "You've really become quite the smooth-talker, you know," she answered.

In response, Naruto picked up a piece of her hair and touched it with his lips. "You really love my hair, don't you?" she then asked.

Naruto stared at her. "Always."

Following their intimate exchange, the day grew late enough that they went to bed. It was the most peaceful sleep Kushina ever had in a long time. The feeling of her lover's, her son's arms and his legs mixed with hers was a security she hadn't known in a long time.

"Naruto, I love you. I love you so much," Kushina thought as her thoughts drifted away.

When the morning came, Naruto was the first to awaken. He heard the patterned breaths of his mother. Smiling, he leaned over and kissed her cheek. She wiggled a moment but didn't awaken.

"Will you be going now?" Kurama inquired.

Naruto rolled his shoulders and shook his head. "Yahiko hasn't come back yet. Besides, I have another that I need to go see," Naruto said as he slipped out of bed. Kurama spoke no further words as Naruto got dressed.

It seemed to be fairly early as the icy wasteland had yet to be illuminated by the celestial bodies hanging close in outer space. Naruto walked out of his room, the silence of the compound providing something of a gentle ambiance in his ears.

He walked down the stairs and through a hallway. He then approached Yuri's room and knocked on the door. "Yuri-chan?" he asked.

Silence welcomed him. Naruto proceeded to knock a few more times before he sensed Yuri's chakra. To his surprise, she wasn't in her room. Instead, she was in the training area.

Journeying over there, Naruto passed a door when he started hearing loud and harsh thumps of wood. When he peered into the room, he noticed Yuri surrounded by numerous wooden training dummies. Sweat poured down the side of her face as she struck left, right, and center. She'd throw up a kick, twist and turn her arms, weaving around the open pillar with grace and beauty. Yet, she'd strike them with power, her red hair whipping this way and that.

For about an hour or so, Naruto watched her until she stopped.

"Are you gonna keep watching me, Naruto-nii?" Yuri asked.

Aware that he'd been spotted, Naruto stepped out from the corner. "Am I that obvious?" he asked.

Yuri shook her head. "I always know when you've got your eyes on me. What's up?" she asked.

Naruto walked over to her. "You didn't really think I wouldn't find time to spend with you, did you? I know you've been having a hard time too. Since when do you train so early?" he asked.

"So I can make sure I never lose anyone else. What happened to Yukimaru, I'll never let it happen again," Yuri said, clenching her bruised fists.

Naruto looked at his lover before he approached her further. He then took her hand and rubbed it. "You know, that's one of the things I love about you, Yuri-chan," he said, surprising her.

"H-Huh?" she asked.

Rather than expound on his statement, Naruto gripped her hands. "Now, since you want to train so badly, how about you do some training with me?" he asked.

"What training?" Yuri asked.

Unfortunately for her, Naruto didn't answer as he led her out of the training area. Leading her to their washing area, he heated up a barrel of hot water for her. Unashamed, Yuri stripped off her clothes and sank into the water. "Naruto-nii, how is this supposed to-"

"Shhhhh," he whispered as he grabbed a towel and wiped her body. Yuri stiffened when she felt his hand on her neck and face. He wiped her body and her legs trembled as he moved his hands to her breasts. He washed her thoroughly, stimulatingly, and slowly.

"N-Naruto-nii, nnnngh! Ooooooh! This isn't training," she panted as he continued to wipe her and clean her.

"Relaxing is a part of training too, Yuri-chan. Trust me, I used to train until I dropped too. However, you gotta listen to the needs of your body as well. Now, relax," the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki advised.

It took some doing, but finally, Yuri leaned back and allowed her lover to pamper her. The hot water filtered out her stress until she was allowed out. Relaxed and somewhat happy, Yuri returned to her room and got dressed before Naruto led her out of the house as well.

"No offense, but I wish we stayed inside. I hate the cold," Yuri grumbled, not willing to let go of Naurto's hand even though she complained.

The Summoner of the Shinigami wasn't about to disagree with her. Of all knew how sickening the cold had made him at this point, however, it wasn't like there were positives to it. "True, but it just means I get to keep you closer to me than before," he said.

Yuri smiled, squeezing his hand before they noticed a man and woman approach them.

"Naruto-san, you're returning today, right?" they asked, pleading with their eyes and their hands.

Yuri frowned, her happy mood steadily lowering at the interruption.

Naruto nodded. "I said I would, so I will. Go and spend time with your families. I'm busy," the blond said as he grabbed Yuri and walked past them.

Unfortunately for the Uzumaki couple, Naruto would be hounded by at least twenty more people asking the same question. When they were alone, Yuri sighed. "Maybe you should just go. It's clear everyone's a little impatient. I suppose I can't blame them. I am a little too," the smaller redhead admitted.

"I am too, but as I'm beginning to learn… there is a time and a place for everything, Yuri-chan. Right now, the best and most efficient use of my time is with you. You might not know it, but I meant what I said. This is training for me," he answered.

"How?" she asked.

Rather than answer her, Naruto just smiled. It was the sort of confident, cheeky smile that told her he knew something she didn't. Yuri didn't like it. That said, she shivered when he looked at her. The sharp blue of his eyes peered into her own eyes.

"Would you like to find out?" he asked. He pulled her into a lone alleyway. He then pinned her against the wall. Before Yuri could even speak, he felt Naruto kiss her. The flames of his passion were so intense that her legs almost gave out.

Luckily for Yuri, her lover had that covered as he grabbed a handful of her ass and lifted her in the air. "Mmmmngh! Nhhaaaaa! N-Naruto-nii!" Yuri panted, losing herself in his strong arms and his broad back. Her legs felt like jelly. Not even the chill of the cold could take away the fires spreading through her body.

When Naruto tangled his tongue with hers, she couldn't help sucking on it with her lips. She pulled it and nibbled on his lower lip, grinding her lower body against his pelvis. She got the reaction she wanted, but even she knew that this was something of a teaser. That didn't stop her from partaking in her lover and his sweet affections.

With a smack of their lips, Naruto leaned into Yuri's ear. "You have no idea how badly I wanna fuck you, Yuri-chan. Make you whimper, quiver, and moan. Make you the mother of my children," Naruto said.

"C-Children?!" Yuri exclaimed, her instincts as a woman rushing through her core. Unconsciously, she wrapped her legs around Naruto's waist as he kissed her neck. Her hands shook while her brain released pleasing chemicals through her brain.

"Yeah, children. Our children, Yuri-chan. I'll fight for our children," Naruto said, kissing her one more time before he released her.

Yuri dropped into the snow, panting with great need. Naruto smiled while her eyes looked glossed over. "Y-Y-You're cruel, Naruto-nii, leaving me like this…" Yuri panted.

"Then I guess I'll have to take responsibility," he said. He picked her up, carrying her in his arms as they reentered the village. Hoping to save some of her dignity, Yuri pinched her lover's arm. She loathed the amused look on his face, yet, much to her embarrassment, she couldn't help but swoon when he kissed her again.

Until about noon, or what went for noon in Kagura's realm, Naruto and Yuri spent their time together. Both laughed and indulged in themselves as the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki led his younger lover out of the village.

"You know, Yuri-chan, I have another reason to come back. I'm sorry I don't have the time to spend a full day with you. It should only be fair since I did with Kaa-chan," he mentioned.

In his arms, Yuri grabbed his shirt. "I don't care about all that stuff. Just having you in my life is enough, Naruto-nii. I love you. I'll always love you, and… I thank you for loving someone like me. I know I'm not very girl. I'm brash. I'm not smart or sophisticated like Yura-nee. I'm not that talented at our clan's sealing jutsu. I…"

"You're just like me. I know what that's like. Trust me. Yet, still, you try and you do all you can for your friends and those close to you. I'm the one who should thank you for loving someone like me. I'm not worthy of you," Naruto admitted.

Yuri felt the way Naruto held her in his arms. His arms tightened and she felt his hands shake. She thought it might be from the cold, yet her woman's intuition told her this might not be the case. Feeling her thoughts to be correct, she grabbed his black shirt. "Naruto-nii, are you sure I can't come with you?" she asked.

"Not right now, Yuri-chan. However, who knows how things'll turn out? I sure as hell don't. However, it's time for me to get going," he said.

As Yuri expected, she slowly nodded. Her chest ached and her breath felt short. She knew he'd need to go, but she wished he'd stay, with her and with everyone else. She wished she were strong enough to stand with him.

"You'll come back right?" she asked.

Naruto smiled. "I will, and I never go back on my word. You know that," he said as he slowly let her down.

The Kyuubi jinchuuriki stepped away from her before he held up a handsign. "I'll be leaving soon. As I promised," Naruto said, his voice spreading to those in the Uzumaki Compound, Uchiha Compound, Kakashi, Rin, Karui, and Omoi.

Following that, Naruto closed his eyes and concentrated his power. The wings began to firmly increase in strength and might while streaks of lightning poured down from the sky. Ice fell from the sky like droplets of silver. Yuri squinted as glowing rings appeared in the outer space of the realm. The ground shook with a righteous trembling while thunder ruptured the air with its violent drums.

Naruto's hair grew in length and turned to its silverish-white color. The cloak of the Shinigami appeared around his body, the ends of the robe splitting into nine tail-like protrusions as before. His eyes sparkled with divine might. The power was immense, greater than anything he'd ever attempted before. Yet, Naruto was at peace with him.

"If there is one thing I've noticed about you mortals, you are capable of great feats when you have something to focus upon. Should you desire to not be overwhelmed by my strength and lose yourself in my power, then focus on something, focus on what you wish for. Channel the might and let your heart feel as much peace as it may. It is that peace that shall grant you control into the furthest reaches of strength."

Grinning, Naruto thought of his mother and Yuri. He thought of the time he'd spent with them. Yes, he was fighting for them. He was fighting for the world they'd live in. He loved them. He loved them so much. Never had he thought that he, an orphan, would have this much love in his heart made him happy. Maybe… maybe Tsunade did him a favor. Maybe, at the end of the day, he didn't need the Hokage position. He just needed them.

"YOSH! You better not be lazy because you got a day off, Kurama, Mōryō, Kindred!" Naruto exclaimed.

"Who the fuck do you think you're talking, Brat! You better speak for yourself!" Kurama fired back, slamming his claws together. Mōryō's numerous dragon heads roared into the abyss while Lamb and Wolf connected their power with the Nine-Tailed Fox's.

On the other side, Pakura, Dan, Kimimaro, Madara, Tobirama, Suiren, Gari stood surrounding, Kagura Otsutsuki. The Princess of the Main Branch of the Otsutsuki Clan raised her hands into the air while the others slapped their palms together. Immediately, they fed their power to Kagura and Kagura fed it all to Naruto.

Outside, Yuri took a step back as Naruto's Honshou flared out violently. The ground splintered with harsh steam as lightning blasted the tops of mountains. One by one small orbs like the stars in the sky surrounded the air.

One by one, members of the Uzumaki clan charged out into the air as did the rest of Naruto's friends and teammates. Following them, the Kage were close behind and so were the rest of the shinobi and civilian forces.

"What's going on?" Sasuke asked.

Yuri held her head down, bearing witness to her lover's power. "Naruto-nii's preparing to go," she answered.

Mikoto glanced at Kushina while Kakashi and Rin looked on in wonder. "I'm sure no one ever thought that one day all our hopes and dreams would indeed rest on Naruto's shoulders. Is this really the best we can do?" Kakashi thought to himself.

Yuna held Sasuke's hand while the Uchiha looked on at his best friend. Even from amongst the masses, Sakura and Karin were there to see the spectacular sight. Meanwhile, the Kage were silent, each of them unsure of what to say as the blinding light settled. Just like he appeared before, Naruto was radiating with so much light many were forced to close their eyes lest they go blind once again.

When he stepped, the cold seemed so far away from every man or woman left in the village.

Kushina approached him. "No matter what happens, please come back!" she said.

"Kick his ass or I kick yours!" Tayuya hollered while Risa and Fuka waved him off. Karui and Omoi watched him carefully. Even the members of the Akatsuki stared at him from afar, namely the Deva Path of Pain.

Naruto walked to Yuri and Kushina. He touched their cheeks and they leaned into his hands. "I'll win. I promise," he said as Yahiko flew into his body, rejoining the others in supplying Naruto with more power.

Reluctantly, he parted from them and opened a dark purple portal. Before he stepped through, he looked back at the masses one more time. Then, with one leg, he stepped through the portal until his whole body was in it. The portal then closed behind him.

On the other side, the portal opened. Stepping out of it, Naruto's feet touched the ruined ground of the Elemental Nations. As soon as he appeared, the frown on his face deepened as he noticed more demon-like monstrosities than he'd ever seen before. There was easily triple, no perhaps even sextuple the amount that there was from last time. There were just so many as far as the eye could see.

And, all of them had their ferocious, wrath-filled eyes honed in on his form.

"It seems they were expecting us," Yahiko commented.

The others saw what he saw through Naruto's eyes. Kurama snorted. "They'll be wishing they stayed dead soon enough," he remarked.

All words were then silenced as a strike of violent lightning ran through the sky. A roll of thunder loud enough to burst the eardrums roared in the air as Naruto turned his gaze upward. Above him floated the unamused glare of Jashin.

The Summoner of the Shinigami matched the god's glare with his own. The silver-haired jinchuuriki noticed the same black spear in Jashin's hand just like before. The God of Slaughter slowly descended until his feet touched the ruined ground.

"I shall make you regret wasting that opportunity you were given, Uzumaki Naruto. Had you fully pressed your assault, then you would have likely had an attempt at potentially overthrowing me. Be warned that you shall never have such an opportunity again, especially not with such a beautiful army being summoned at my disposal. Remember this moment. It will be your last!" Jashin taunted, a vile grin spreading across his face.

Naruto continued to stare at the god for a moment or two before he grabbed his sword.

For Jashin, time must have slowed down even further. He didn't recall feeling so much pain before. When he looked down, a sea of silver waved in front of his eyes. "W-What?!" he inquired as he looked down. He noticed Naruto's sword plunged through his torso with the blond floating there in the air with him.

Jashin felt his fists clench as his insides burned from the white fire of Honshou. "I didn't even see him move?! How?! He's just a mortal! How would he grow so powerful so quickly?!" Jashin inquired as Naruto flicked his wrist and twisted his sword deeper into Jashin's stomach. The God of Slaughter snarled, shivering when Naruto glared at him.

"Nearly 100 days. That was how long my family suffered because of you. I hope you're fucking prepared, Jashin. I'm gonna make you experience every piece of that suffering right now. Be prepared. This is gonna be the longest day of your seemingly immortal life!" Naruto snarled, making sure Jashin soaked in every word.

The God of Slaughter scowled, his blood slowly dripping out his body, trailing down Naruto's sword, and staining the lands of the Elemental Nations.


KG: Be prepared for LOTS of fighting! Wooo!

KG: CHEESECAKE!